Tuesday, April 28, 2009

All Dressed Up With Someplace to Go

Happy Couple II found a reason to get kind of dressed up just two days after after skipping town on prom night. There was no long dress or tux, but there was a tie involved. They both were called to the stage during an honors assembly at their school. They they were, well-scrubbed and academic, receiving applause from their fellow students. It was a proud parental moment, to be sure.
There is a protest on the floor from the original Happy Couple. They are not pleased with their younger counterparts' designation as HCII. Apparently, my son and his longtime love interest want to claim some kind of intellectual property or copyright infringement. I've tried to come up with a more original nickname for my daughter and her boyfriend. Looking at these two, I suggested 'Milk and Honey," but I'm not sure they liked it so much. It seems to fit. They're the clean-cut, church-going kids. He was a finalist for student of the year...you know, wholesome like milk. She's sweet like honey. Somehow, I don't think it will stick.
If the older pair wants to have anything to say about all this, they're going to have to come around more. At 19, they're asserting independence, which is a healthy thing but provides them no say whatsoever in the assignment of nicknames. Appeals will be addressed only in person.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Leftovers From The Road

If the success of a trip can be judged by the quality of the food and the desirability of the company kept, then consider our recent "Dallas weekend" a hit. While Happy Couple II was cavorting in an uptown park, we found ourselves in the decidely upscale Southlake Town Square having drinks and dinner with my witty cousin Ronny and his delighftul wife Allison. Ron is less than a year older than I, and as kids we were close like cousins should be. As adults we've spent alarmingly little time together, and seeing him was a real treat. He invited us to an Italian restaurant, which pleased us. The food was nice, the service was admirable and the company was outstanding. What more could you want? We pledge to see more of one another in the years ahead. I think as we enter the second half of our lives, we may need one another more.
On Sunday morning, after we had provided refuge for a handful of protesters and sent them on their well-fed way, our friends Steve and Dana popped by the Luxurious Uptown Hotel. Dana had a brunch destination in mind, and it was inspired. Nobody ever told me about Mattito's before, but I know about it now. It was spectacular. It's a Tex-Mex restaurant with a Sunday brunch buffet unlike anything I've seen, and I've eaten lots of places. The quaint, colorful exterior sets the tone as you walk in. When you go...and you should...prepare for a feast for the senses. I just had to stop myself before I descended into a devil's delight of unabashed gluttony.
We hit the highway fat and happy. We were out of town for just about thirty hours, so you couldn't really ask for anything more.

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My Daughter the Demonstrator

My daughter and her boyfriend, Happy Couple II, made a decision to skip their prom. Considering he's a senior, that seems significant to me. To them, it was a no-brainer. They had something better to do, namely participate in a rally to call attention to the plight of children conscripted into a rebel army in Uganda.
The nearest rally was in Dallas, which meant a weekend roadie. This also involved a peaceful protest march and an all-night vigil in a public park. They insisted. We thought they were insane. They insisted.
We insisted that if they actually did this, we would be close by. They did and we were.
So, my wife found an uptown hotel near the park. Turns out the hotel offered outdoor seating at its well-appointed lounge. It was a beautiful springtime afternoon, so we decided to relax under a shade tree. As my wife was, well...lounging, a group of young people began to parade by. This was not planned. There they were, HCII, amongst their protesting peers, contentedly strolling by. Their small group of socially conscious church kids was among hundreds who participated. They were not exactly dressed for prom, and they seemed happy about it.
They made it through the night out there in the park in the dark, despite brief episodes of rain. Not surprisingly, our phones began to ring about 6:30 a.m. It turns out a hotel restroom and a hot breakfast had developed an irrestible appeal. We were happy to oblige.
At first, it bothered me to pay for a couple of tanks of gas and a night in a fancy hotel. Then, it occurred to me what I might have had to fork over for a prom dress, shoes, a haircut and our share of a limo ride. Suddenly, that Saturday night in the park didn't look so bad.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ouch! That Really Hurts!

Age is not entirely a state of mind. There are physical manifestations of simply passing time. My wife was simultaneously amused and repulsed by the sight of me sitting on a sofa, enjoying a book by lamplight with the aid of little drugstore reading glasses. She felt compelled to document this occasion with her cell phone camera. Look, I don't want to take on the appearence of a codger, but I simply couldn't read that great little book with my contact lenses alone.
That was only the beginning. For a couple of months, I've been experiencing pain in my right hand. I figured it would go away on its own, but it didn't. When I was greeted recently with one of those firm "I'm a man's man" handshakes, pain shot straight up my arm and northward to my teeth. I decided I needed to see a doctor.
I worked my way in to see a veteran orthopedic surgeon, thinking I could get a cortisone shot and get all better in a couple of days. He grabbed my hand, put his finger on a spot and asked, "Is this where it hurts?" With some emphasis, I responded affirmatively, and he said, "Arthritis, my man."
Arthritis?!! That's a grandpa disease! I'm not a grandpa yet, although I'm looking forward to the day.
Another acquaintence of mine, who works in the doctor's office said, "Arthritis? That's mean." He stretched out the word "mean" like a singer on American Idol putting an unnecessary vocal run in a ballad.
There's not a lot they can do about it, except X-Ray it to help them determine exactly where to place the needle for that cortisone injection. That was "mean," too.
So, here I am...knocking on the door to 50 with reading glasses and arthritis. Can a cane and a lap blanket be far behind?
For the record, the book was "Everything Hurts" by Bill Scheft, a happy coincidence. I loved that book and blew through it in two evenings.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Chalk One Up For Justice

parking ticket
Originally uploaded by Darrell
There is glee in our home. My wife, a notorious follower of rules, got a letter from the city attorney advising her that the ticket she received for parking like this has been VOIDED.
It seems her indisputable photographic evidence got city hall's attention. She didn't care about the fifteen dollar fine. She cared that she had been falsely accused. She cared that she was obviously within the law but was cited nonetheless.
She took the time to gather evidence and file an appeal. The system works! She is vindicated. We are proud.
No word if the meter maid is on paid administrative leave.
Fight the power. Don't let the man kunckle you under, all that. Whoopee!

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Creeping Up on the Half-Century Mark

We spent the weekend celebrating the 50th birthday of one of my longest-standing friends. I'm inclined to call her one of my "oldest" friends, but given the occasion it seems an inappropriate use of the word.
I've known her for forty-four years. Her younger brother is my closest friend. She is much more than my buddy's sister, though. I told her so over a poolside dinner Saturday night. Anywhere along the way, she could have made the decision that I was her little brother's goofy friend, but that never happened.
Her first five decades have been lived abundantly. Her well-earned nickname of "Tropical Gypsy" speaks volumes about her choice of lifestyle. She lives fulltime in the Florida keys, has been a producer of a well-known national TV show and knows love across the spectrum. Her five brothers and sisters, along with their children, assembled in Houston for the big Five-Oh party. She had cousins and friends there, too. This event was a sequel of sorts, her seaside friends having feted her several weeks ago.
She was awash in affection and deservedly so. It gives me hope. Her brother and I hit fifty next year. She's facing the second half of her life with a drink, a wink and a laugh. It's an example I hope to follow. That's what friends are for.

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Portait of My Father

My father, soon to be 83 years old, has been nagging me for three years about one of my gates. It was sagging and dragging. He kept saying he would come fix it. Finally, the day came. We had a full slate of outdoor projects: build a planter, repair the fence, fix the gate. He showed up with tools and materials. We were making nice progress until we had to take a break to visit the home improvement store for a few things. I made the run, came back and found this.It was a spectacular day, no question about it....perfect for a nap, as it turns out.
I kept on about my business, literally doing the heavy lifting. He stayed the whole day, ate two meals, had a siesta and even drove a nail or two.
The good news is that we accomplished everything we set out to do and more. The better news is that at almost 83, he can still supervise a project and even pitch in between naps and meals if he needs to.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Miracle of Modern Communications

It took less than twelve hours for us to find a new housekeeper. We can thank Daddy D's Storytime, Twitter and Facebook for the speedy resolution.
Anytime there's a new blog post, it becomes a Tweet on Twitter. This, in turn, becomes a Facebook status update. First thing this morning, I got a text message from a friend who had read about our recalcitrant cleaning lady on one of the webpages. His person, with whom he is very pleased, had lost a client yesterday. We called her immediately. By happy coincidence, she is working two days a week in a neighborhood less than a half-mile away. We struck a deal and she starts next week.
She was down one client for less than a day and we were down a housekeeper less than a day. It all worked out. Even-Steven.
Love to hear the robin go tweet, tweet, tweet.

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