Category Archives: Family

Today’s the Day We Became A Family

While I never forget them (I think of one or the other of them virtually every day), I almost forgot to post this.  An important anniversary.

My annual re-post.

Today is a day worth remembering.wedding1

Today is the day my family began.

Not in the larger sense.  There have been folks with my name or some variant of it around for centuries.  No, I’m talking about my specific family.  It began today, 58 years ago.  When two young people got dressed up and took their vows to love and honor and cherish each other that evening.  From this moment on there is a lot of “stuff” waiting for them.  Much good, some bad.  Much happy but their fair share of pain and anger too.

There are lots of times to choose when you want to remember someone.  You can choose the day they were born.  The day they joined the world.  That makes a certain kind of sense. Or you can go the other way.  I’ve never understood choosing they day they died.  It never feels right to me.

What is most important to me about those two young people (I must be getting old because they look like damn children to my eyes) is that they are my parents.  The center of my family for most of my life and two people I continue to love and admire all these years later.  So the appropriate day to remember them is the day they decided to be a family.  Just over two years later (two years and 8 days to be precise) that family would grow by one.  Fourteen months later by another. Fourteen months after that once more.  Then, as my mother always said, they figured out what was causing it and knocked it off!  I don’t believe her.

When you’re a kid your parents are just your parents.  They are as far beyond understanding as gravity.  They just are.  I had the chance to get to know them a little as people before they died.  Since then I’ve read letters and memorabilia that have allowed me to get to know them a little better still.  I’ve learned about fears and uncertainties that would have been beyond my comprehension as a child.  I see their flaws more clearly and admire their strengths all the more.

My parents were human.  Flawed and struggling with lives that weren’t exactly what they’d expected.  I know that feeling well.  Perhaps to my surprise, I find I love them a little more for that humanity.  I also miss them a little more because I understand them better and I know they would understand me now better too.

If I had five more minutes with them I would tell them how much I love them.  Then I’d spend the rest of the time telling them about their granddaughter.  She would have loved them at this point in her life and they would have loved her.  They would have pissed each other off too but that’s part of being family.

I think of my parents virtually every day.  Today especially I shall remember them.  Because today we became a family.


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2017 Goals

No resolutions this year, just simple definable goals.

2017goalsHealth Goals:

  • Lose the last 20 pounds (be The Guy)
  • Keep my blood glucose within ADA ranges and work toward the lower ranges
  • Maintain a minimum of 150 active minutes a week

Creativity Goals:

  • Add six more songs to my guitar competence list
  • Finish a writing project
  • Create a minimum of one good photo a month

Activity Goals:

  • Bike the Cap2Cap from Richmond to Williamsburg
  • Explore the parks nearby
  • Log a minimum of 1000 miles on the bike

Fun Goals

  • Visit five more historical sites
  • Go to the beach at least twice
  • Visit 20 wineries

Real Life Goals:

  • Find a new job
  • Find a new church home
  • Get involved with community group(s)

All of these are doable, one (the 1,000 miles) is a real challenge.  But it will be a very good year if I can hit all of them.  Let’s see how we do.

Hoping that the new year is what each of us desire.


Filed under Creativity, Diabetes, Faith, Family, New Beginning, personal, Photo, RVA, Travel, Weight Loss, Wine, Writing

Holiday Traditions

We are taking a brief break here at the end of the year, but I wanted to share a few of the end of year traditions in our family.  This is the time of year when there are probably as many family traditions in play as any other.  Here are some of ours:

Happy Holidays (whatever you may be celebrating)

Happy Holidays (whatever you may be celebrating)

The Nut Bowl : This is one that my dad started.  There would always be a wooden salad bowl filled with mixed nuts in shells sitting in the living room.  If you felt the need for a quick holiday munch you could start cracking walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazel nuts and the dreaded brazil nuts.  Today I own that bowl and it’s filled with nuts during the holiday season.

Christmas movies : There’s a standard list of movies we watch virtually every year – “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown”, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “White Christmas”, “A Wish For Wings That Work”, “WKRP In Cincinnati” Christmas episode, some version of “A Christmas Carol” (the Alistair Sim, and Patrick Stewart versions are our favorites.  Someday I need to add the Mr. Magoo version too), The Waltons special “The Homecoming”, and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”.  When The Kid was young we had a tradition of taping the Christmas morning present opening and the one when she was three years old has become part of our viewing tradition as well.

Christmas Ornaments – This is just part of the whole thing.  Those ornaments that must go on the tree.  We are blessed with some beautiful handmade ornaments done by members of our family plus the special ones that have some story attached to them.  Stories that are revisited every time we hang them.  Plus a pickle and a chicken wing!

Christmas Eve – We open one small gift on Christmas Eve (see below) and for the last thirty years or so, go to the midnight service at church.  This year will be different because we will be going to someplace different for that service.  I hope we can feel like the tradition continues to roll along smoothly.

Christmas Morning – I don’t remember ever hearing about families who opened their presents on Christmas Eve till we moved to Jamestown.  We are a Christmas morning family for presents.  We have a special breakfast of cinnamon rolls and an egg and sausage bake.  Since we usually don’t live in places with fireplaces we pop in the fireplace DVD for the TV and some Christmas music on the stereo.

Santa’s Helper – Every year The Kid dons her Santa hat and hands out the presents.  It’s been here job since she was small.  Wouldn’t be Christmas any other way.  Maybe someday there will be a different little helper to take over.

New Year Tradition – We have never been big New Year’s Eve party people.  Just never worked for us.  So we will stay at home (much safer), wait for the ball to drop and go to bed.  In the morning we begin our laziest day of the year.  We throw some hot dogs and sauerkraut in the crockpot and some kielbasa in barbecue on the stove.  You eat when you feel like eating, watch what you feel like watching (not a lot of bowl game watching since we’re not huge college football fans) and generally start the year goofing off as much as possible.

Epiphany – Our holiday season ends on the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6 in 2015).  That’s the end of the twelve days of Christmas and the day we will take down our Christmas tree.  Yeah, that usually means we are the last house on the block with a tree at the curb.  That’s fine with us.

Whatever you do this time of year, celebrate or not, I hope you have the best time of year you can have.  From this craxy, mized up world of mine I wish you the most joyous and merry of Christmases.  See you in 2015.

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A New Beginning – Thanksgiving Day 2014

Don’t know that I can say it any better than this, so have a wonderful Thanksgiving doing whatever makes you happy.

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A New Beginning – October 2


A lot of things are different between living in WNY and RVA.  Some are just a little different, some are majorly different.

The biggest change is simply a matter of scale.  Certainly, that was something that we “expected”.  Moving away from a very small city in a largely rural county to to the 43rd largest metro area in the nation (as of 2010) is a HUGE change in the scale of life.  The city alone has over two hundred thousand people and the metro area is well past a million.  Buffalo is slightly larger (although Buffalo’s population continues to decline while Richmond is showing almost 5% growth) but we were only occasional visitors in Buffalo.  We are dealing with the reality of the city on a daily basis.

That means more traffic, which was expected.  What we’ve discovered we have to adjust for is when we arrive at places.  For example, in WNY we could walk in to the movie theater at virtually the last minute, get our popcorn and drinks, and still make the previews comfortably.

Not so much here.

At the same time, businesses around here are prepared for that number of customers.  It’s just an adjustment we are having to make in our assumptions.

  • 126 days without a rude Virginian.
  • Had some great food recently.  Lots of Asian.  Wonderful lunch at Siam Paragon on the Midlothian Turnpike.  It was a little slow so we got the chance to talk with one of the owners.  She was a great rep for the restaurant.  They had a visiting cook from Thailand who was doing special orders that day.  Pick a meat (I went with chicken) and he would create something special.  My Garlic and Chicken was every bit of that.  Also checked out the Saigon River Vietnamese restaurant farther down the Turnpike.  I think this was my first experience with Vietnamese and I enjoyed it a lot.  Did a Chicken Curry that was very spicy hot but also great flavor.
  • Here’s something to make my friends in other metro areas crazy.  Two pictures, both from downtown Richmond, both for parking garage/ramps in excellent locations.  Photos taken mid-day on a weekday.  Read ’em and weep.DSCF3034 DSCF3091


It’s a new beginning.

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A New Beginning – September 25


What a week this has been!  First and foremost, we are now a fully employed, Virginia family!  Both the Kid and my Lady Wife now have jobs, both full time and with benefits.  I can certainly attest that there was much rejoicing.

I am slightly less sanguine about her Ladyship noting that now, for the first time in her adult life, she could support herself.  Why does that sound like “Be on your best behavior bub, you are no longer indespensible”.  I will hold fast to my belief that I am kept around for more than just my money making abilities.

The Kid has spun up to speed quite well.  Her new employers are much impressed at her ability to jump right in and succeed.  Me?  Expected nothing less from The Gifted One.  Her Ladyship does some training in Norfolk (2 our commute each way) then settles in at the new Richmond office.  All very cool.

  • Grumpy Virginian Census – I’m thinking of poking a Virginian with a stick to see how long it takes to make one grumpy.
  • I am puzzled by a new (at least to me) phenomenon.  Parking on bridges.  When I drive up the Powhite into Richmond I go by a series of bridges where people are parked down either side, with traffic flowing in between.  Given that I lived mostly in small towns and cities perhaps my experience is lacking but still.  Just seems weird to me.
  • Dieting is doing OK, eating discipline is described elsewhere on this blog.  New restaurant that really impressed us is The Conch Republic Rocketts.  Fun atmosphere, right by the river and the food was quite good.

We continue to enjoy exploring our new home.  That bridge parking just weirds me out though.

It’s a new beginning.

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For Valentine’s Day

I’m not sending flowers (ridiculously expensive this time of year.  I like to get her flowers all year long).

I’m not sending a card (sorry, but they seem silly to me.  Eventually they get thrown away.  Not the image I’m looking for here).

I’m not sending chocolates (neither of us need the extra calories at the moment.  Again, I’d rather buy her really good chocolate throughout the year).

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

I have a certain gift for words and I prefer gifts that are personal over ones mass produced.  So I thought I’d write an open love letter to my Valentine.

That’s when I realized there was a problem.  Where to begin?  Where to end?  What words to use to describe all the things she has meant, means and I hope will continue to mean to me?  It feels like I’m caught between not having enough words and needing so many words that I can not possibly put them all down.  The quote that leapt to mind is from “The Lord of the Rings” where Fangorn the Ent describes Entish names to Merry and Pippin:

…it would take a very long while: my name is growing all the time…Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to…

So how to name a love affair that will pass it’s 37th anniversary in just a couple weeks?  How to describe the ups and downs?  How many words are needed?  How do I name this love affair?  Name something that keeps on growing?

In the beginning we were a house divided.  I was smitten.  Unlike many boys I never went through the “Ewwww, girls” phase.  I’ve always liked girls.  So my first imaginings of a “dream girl” came in either third or fourth grade.  Over the years some parts of that image changed but two did not.  She was about my height (I love long legs) and she had long brown hair.  So when I looked across the floor of my Acting 1 class and saw long legs and long brown hair wrapped in a workout leotard I was pretty much done.  Didn’t know it the time, but it was over.

For her part, after short aquaintance, she decided I was an obnoxious jerk.  As always, she was correct.  I was an immature, insecure boy who covered it up with a thick layer of cockiness.  It would take the better part of two years before most of the problems in our early relationship got ironed out.  Or call it “Uuntil I grew up and realized how close I was to losing my dream girl”.

How many stories within our story do I need to tell?  If you ever see us dancing (which is rare) watch for the moment when we lean in close.  You’ll think we’re dancing cheek to cheek but you’ll be wrong.  For just a few seconds we’ll be dancing ear to ear.  Then we’ll move apart, smile and kiss.  It’s in memory of two nervous children who were dancing as part of a rehersal exercise, overshot the mark and were too embarassed to correct ourselves.

Ask about our first married argument.  We’ll smile widely and answer “Spaghetti!”.  It’s true.  Our first argument (in almost 32 years of marriage we rarely argue) was over how often we had spaghetti for dinner.  We’ve never argued about money.  We have argued about pasta frequency.

There’s the story about the pizza bought with pennies.  It’s my favorite.  Because it shows how much this lady loves me.  Money was tight, but then money has been tight our entire life together.  It bothers me that I can’t buy her special things.  Things she’s never asked for but that I want to give her.  On that day I was beside myself because money was so tight we couldn’t even afford a pizza.  A freaking pizza!  She assured me, as she always does, that it doesn’t matter.  Then later that day she bought me a pizza.  She gathered all the change in the house and bought a pizza.  I’m not sure how well she even remembers the story other than the fact that I tell it over and over and over.

You see, I’m amazed that she loves me.  I don’t see myself as conventional or easy to be around.  I’m a dreamer and not particularly practical in many ways.  I can be astoundingly lazy at times and easily distracted.  Certainly the professional life I’ve led has been less than smooth.  Two completely different careers (neither of them overly lucrative) so far, with uncertainty facing us yet again.  For all my verbal skills I can be uncommunicative.  I’m a romantic who is really quite bad at being romantic.  And at times I can still be an idiot.

One of my bosses, upon hearing that the love of my life was in the hospital again (the hospital is, sadly, a recurring set in our little life play), told me that most guys would leave a wife with this many problems.  I thought it was not only one of the most insensitive things ever said to me but also one of the dumbest.  Maybe “most guys” would (I don’t believe it for a minute but I’ve been wrong before) but I don’t want to be one of those guys.

Besides, I’m still crazy in love with her.

I love that I can make her laugh.  I love the sound of her voice.  I love the feel of her in my arms and the feel of her arms around me.  I am humbled that she loves with a fierce determination that has stood up through everything.  I love that she believes in me even when I don’t.  My heart lifts at the sight or sound of her.  She inspires me to keep trying to be my very best self.

This is my valentine to her.

Somehow flowers, candy and a card seemed terribly insufficient.

I love you, Beautiful.

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