Thursday, December 27, 2007

Surviving Christmas...

is always a neat trick, but so far (knock on my wooden head) this year has been easier than some I remember!

We still ended up wrapping until 2AM, then since we were going to John and Noel's around noon for Christmas with them and the grandkids, we exchanged gifts when we were done wrapping everyone else's. She finally got her "Heroes: Season 1" set, and was delighted as it also has the "pilot" movie they never ran in it...

I on the other hand, was shocked!

I had told her a couple of times that I had thought of buying a Playstation 2 game to take to the family New Year's party next week, or the family Christmas party this Saturday. I couldn't bring myself to spend the money, though...

So imagine my shock when she hands me this big box...that rattles...

We've had some problems this year with things that rattle, whether it was the "Babylon 5" set I gave her for our anniversary, or the "Stargate: Atlantis" set she got for her birthday last month. That one took two returns to get one that didn't have a scratched disc in it!

As I pulled the paper off the box though, and opened it, the wireless guitar for "Guitar Hero" was just was the game. We spent 'til 4AM playing with it. The first two rounds she actually beat my score using the hand control...I went 0 for 360 in the first full song I tried! Seems that, not having read the instructions, I plugged the wireless reader into the "hand control 2" slot, so when she picked up the hand control, she started beating my first few efforts.

I took it to John's house yesterday; Bill and Laura came as well (having them both manage to get off work was a treat) and Bill, John and I took turns, then each grandchild took one turn. After that we 3 "boys" played for about 3 hours...

I was told to bring it to my sister's on Saturday for the family party. So it seems all the stories are true, it's quite the party game!

Today I finally gave up and backed my old Gateway up then updated it to SP2 and IE7. It took 12 hours of starts and restarts, but all seems well now. When Dottie got off work, she and I had to return 2 pair of Talia's jeans, and when we found the ones we needed, we found enough clothes to finish off her birthday shopping as well (coming up later next month). By the time we finished that and got home it was 10 when she got in the shower and I started dinner; we ate and finally caught up with "Battlestar Galactica: Razor" from a few weeks ago. Good movie, great series!

Tomorrow she works again, I have to wrap the gifts for the party on Saturday (along with tracking down one last one), and then Friday we are hoping the weather cooperates and we can slip off to a movie or two for the first time in a month, starting my birthday a day early as the family Christmas party is on Saturday, the actual day of my 52nd. If we survive that, we're planning to try to keep the grandkids Saturday night and Sunday so John and Noel can have a date night, then on Monday we'll have the November, December and January birthdays celebration at my sister's (there are 5 of us between Thanksgiving and the middle of January), along with New Years Eve.

I'm sorry to be slipping behind with all of your blogs this last week; the whirlwind shows no signs of slowing yet, but it will and I will catch up soon! You are all in my thoughts, and sometimes I swear I can hear a chuckle or two from some of you! In the meantime, I very much hope the week is being kind and that you all have wonderful and very Happy New Years!


Monday, December 24, 2007

There's No Place Like Home...

for the holidays, and we are!

Stopped on I-70 by a 30 car wreck on Saturday, after we lost the hour and a half for the detour that turned thousands of us around, we headed north into Nebraska and then across I-80; we came home the same way. All safe, all sound...

May your Christmases all be as bright as mine seems this moment!


Thursday, December 20, 2007

What fools these mortals be!

I've spent my little bits of free time this week gathering things for the road trip this weekend. Log chain, tow strap, come-a-long, 12V electric impact, space blankets, extra gloves...

The zipper in Dad's snowmobile suit disintigrated last winter, and I'm back in that size range again, so while Christmas shopping last week I found one that fit at Sears for almost half off. I dug out my "long underwear" and a couple pair of heavy socks, along with my old "felt pack" boots I've taped back together several times through the years, and once again taped them up.

Conversation with youngest son, my co-driver this weekend.

"I have a snowmobile suit that will fit you, and a double layer knit hat, but no boots. My last pair was $18 at Wal-Mart."

"I've got my sneakers, Dad. I'm sure my feet will be just fine. They might get a little cold, but I'll be OK."

Spoken by someone who has never seen his feet bluish purple as I have!

So I slipped out to Wal-Mart yesterday afternoon; no $18 boots, but a set for $34 that are rated to -40F. I also packed most of the things mentioned in the beginning behind the seat, cleaned all the glass inside and out and Rain-X'd it as it's supposed to be rain/snow all the way to the Colorado line on Saturday. Friday and early on Saturday they are supposed to get 1-2 feet of snow, so hopefully by the time I'm climbing out of Denver heading north at midnight on Saturday they will have cleared everything!

Many years ago now I made the mistake of baking brownies to take in to each of the groups of people I stock for. The last time I did it it was 14 pans. Last year I took vacation, and had not planned to start doing this again.

A few months ago a guy who had been around back then actually transferred to one of the teams I stock for now, saying "Christmas is coming and I am really looking forward to some of those brownies"!

So last night I came home at 4AM and made 3 pans; right now three more are in the oven. When I come home tonight I have one more round, and that's it! I know someone's feelings are going to be hurt, but I just can't give up any more sleep and survive this weekend!

Tomorrow Dottie is off, Saturday I leave for Laramie; I'll hopefully be back early Monday morning. Dottie is working Christmas Eve so if everything works out I'll try to leave a short post on Monday just to say I'm home and everything is OK...

May Friday be kind; may this last shopping weekend find you with all the gifts you need and time to wrap them!

Happy Holidays to each and every one of you; I love you all very much!


Friday, December 14, 2007

31 years ago today...

We had had the license for several weeks, but this was the only day she and her cousin, the Navy Chief Petty Officer who introduced us, were both going to have off before Christmas. (Opposite duty sections and his ship was "in and out" at that time, doing shakedown cruises.)

So we met at a San Diego judge's home in Chula Vista after he got home from work that evening. With a couple of the guys I shared a house with, her cousin, and the judge's mother looking on, we got married. I in jeans and a t-shirt, she in jeans and a blouse.

I'd have never dreamed she'd put up with me for this long!

Though she has to work today, I've taken the last of my vacation days for the year; she was off Tuesday and I started them then. When she comes home tonight the shopping will be done, and there will be shrimp, steak and fried mushrooms ready when she gets out of the shower.

Tomorrow we are taking Noel (my younger son's wife) antiquing for part of her birthday, which was Wednesday. When we get back we'll be fixing her "birthday dinner" of "porcupine meatballs".

Sunday will be back to Christmas shopping and trying to tally the lists and "even things out" if that's ever possible, lol!

Monday- back to my 10 hour days (Cracker Lilo sent me a link to a song I need to go check out when Dottie's not sleeping), then next Saturday (the 22nd) I leave to pick up Jordan's car in Laramie and to try and get home before Christmas, safely! My younger son John is making that run with me as Dottie has to work. I've bought chains and set aside some other things, and am planning to be "vewy vewy caweful"! (With my receding hairline past the point of receding anymore, I'm starting to look a bit like old Elmer Fudd!)

So I'll be in and out, but don't know how much bloghopping I'll get done!

So, in this ramp up to the holidays...

May your days be merry, and bright!


Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Christmas Story...

Once upon a time, there was a little boy...

He was born at the beginning of the last century, a poor little boy from a very poor family. His father abandoned them; at some point his Mom gave he and a sister to his grandparents to raise.

The little boy grew and, as little boys do, managed to end up the wrong place at the wrong time, and being the wrong color as well, in the South, early in the last century, was sent to a children's home. There he learned a craft, and mastering it like no one had before him, rapidly gained fame.

His fame took him north, and continued to grow. His amazing talent saw him raise his status in life beyond the wildest dreams he could have hoped for. It also cost him his first 3 marriages...

Constantly traveling, giving much of himself to those who came to see him, he married again in his early 40's. By this time he was known all over the world. They said there wasn't a country you could visit where the mention of him didn't bring a smile!

After the 2nd World War ended, they traveled together, and she decided that though they were constantly on the move, she would surprise him with a Christmas tree. When he came back to their hotel room, he was indeed surprised!

As was she! Because this grown man cried like a child! She watched him sob and sob and finally got him to explain why he was crying so...

He had never, ever, had a Christmas tree before! Not one that was "his"! In his entire life!

He was so enraptured by the tree she had set up for him that he insisted they take it with them, and she later said that for 6 months after, every time they moved, she set that Christmas tree up for him in their new hotel room!

The little boy's name?

Louis Armstrong!

I read that in the liner notes of the Louis Armstrong "Memorial Album" that RCA issued after his death; each year and with every tree I see, I think of it and him.

And I am grateful!

Thank you, Pops!


Monday, December 03, 2007

Letters, I get letters...

I received this from my Senator last Friday. I had signed a petition that went to both of them, but the other one, the one who was running for President doesn't usually bother with my correspondence.

Perhaps I should content myself with the idea that they will allot some money (that will probably never be signed over, like so many other programs) and do some studies. I'm sorry, I'm not!

His letter:


Thank you for sharing your thoughts regarding federal hate crimes. I appreciate your insight into this complex legal issue.

In April, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) introduced S. 1105, the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This legislation imposes criminal penalties for willful bodily harm motived by race, religion, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. It also authorizes the U.S. Attorney General to provide assistance to state and local governments for the prosecution of crimes motivated by race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. S. 1105 was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it awaits consideration.

Recently, the Senate passed H.R. 1585, the National Defense Authorization Act. During consideration of this bill, Senator Kennedy introduced an amendment similar to S. 1105. I voted against the amendment. However, it was approved by the Senate. I had several concerns with this amendment. We must be cautious in giving preferential treatment to select classes of victims. Every American is entitled to equal justice regardless of personal characteristics.

However, I voted for an amendment offered by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to authorize $5 million in funding to assist states and local governments in prosecuting hate crimes. The amendment also requires a federal study of the prevalence of hate crimes. At this point the Senate bill will be referred to a conference committee where conferees will resolve the differences between the Senate and House versions of the Defense Authorization Act.

Again thank you for taking the time to contact me. If you would like more information on issues before the Senate, please visit my website at You may also sign up on my home page for a monthly electronic newsletter that will provide additional updates on my work for Kansas.

With every best wish,


Pat Roberts"

My reply:


I am in my early 50's and have seen a bit of life. I am a Vietnam Era Navy veteran, and was aboard the USS Kittyhawk on the WestPac cruise after several sailors were murdered on board her during race riots. I grew up with my Dad using words that I shan't repeat here to describe people of other races and of other origins because he had grown up in southern Oklahoma and thought that he could and that no one had a right to tell him not to. This included his son, who had his teeth put through his lip for his trouble.

I remember the race riots here in Kansas City and being terrified that my Dad could be killed because one of the Milgram stores he was a supervisor over was in the affected neighborhood. I also remember pondering the irony of that possibility and the language he used to describe the people of that neighborhood!

I remember his Wallace campaign button from those years...

My point, Sir, is that had it not been for the Civil Rights Acts of the mid 1960's, a whole group of citizens would have continued to be treated as they had been for a hundred years before that. It took Federal law, not state or local, to make their abuse stop!

Two years ago, in Lawrence, Kansas on a KU football weekend two students walking down Mass. Avenue were beaten by some Nebraska fans because they thought they were gay. Because they thought they could do that, because they thought they "had the right". Had it happened in other cities in this state, I'm not sure it would have been pursued with the same vigor it was in Lawrence.

Recently, in Montana, a girl was followed and beaten in the same manner. It took letters to the editor of the local newspaper to get an investigation begun there.

There is no excuse for this in this day and time! Until there is a Federal law on the books that says "if you don't deal with this, we will" it will continue just like the crimes we look at as hideous from earlier days in our history!

This is the time, Sir!

Please re-think your position on this?

The child you save could be my grandchild! Or yours!


There were many other things I would love to have thrown in, but feared that were it any longer it wouldn't be read at all. As it is, I haven't heard anything back from his office, and usually I get an acknowledgement of receipt.

The last letter that arrived at my home from my other Senator, the one who usually doesn't bother, was addressed to "Ms." and my first name. Guess we know what the former presidential candidate feels about me!

I had planned to post this tonight, but have some shopping I need to slip out and do early tomorrow, so plan on coming home and getting to bed "early" tonight as I possibly can. I have a 40% off coupon for Borders that expires tomorrow, and there is a "Heroes" box set that has Dottie's name written on it if I can get there before work...


What a ride!

Mercifully, we only did 8 hours on Saturday night. I got home just before 2, instead of 4...

Dottie was still up, having let her hours slip closer to mine; now she's paying the price as she's trying to go to sleep at almost 2:30AM and she has to get up at 8. I always try to talk her out of it; sometimes I win, but usually I don't.

I slept 'til noon today, then after some coffee and muffins and re-writing some lists, we headed out to load Santa's sleigh. First was Lowe's though, as 4 of my sand tubes from last year had rotted so they're now in a barrel on the corner of the patio to sand my driveway and the street in front of the house on the bad nights, and 4 new ones replaced them along with the 3 I saved from last year in the bed of my truck, as they're talking about a major rain/snow/ice storm on Thursday night into Friday.

Then it was an electronic store for the first major round. We got all but one game on our list there, filled my truck on the way home and traded it for her car, then set out again. Picked up the other game we needed, hit a bookstore I had some coupons for, then off to clothes shop for the grandkids. In a bit over 5 hours we took care of almost everything.

Now Dottie will spend the next few evenings logging it all, adding it all up to try and make sure things are even between all the kids and grandkids, then there will be some juggling things as there are some birthdays coming early in the year if she's over, or picking up a few odds and ends to even things out. Hopefully (finger and toes crossed) there are only a few more forays into the holiday throng before it's all done!

Which is good because I'm scheduled for 6 days again this next week, and she has Friday off and then works the weekend.

I got a letter back from one of my state Senators about his views on the "Matthew Shepard Act" (Senate Bill S-1105). He didn't please me at all with it, and I had planned to post it tonight along with my reply, but that was when I thought my wife would be asleep 3 hours ago...I am going to write my reply tonight and will try and get it posted in the next few days.

Forgive my scarcity of late, life's been a bit of a whirl!

May the week be kind to each of you!