Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 ... Bah, Humbug!

2012 is over!   

Thank God!

What a bummer year!

I really hate to say that because I've met so many good people this year as I've started writing, first on and then in my own blog.  I'm not even going to try to mention all of them, for the list is way too vast (much more so than my memory).   Just let me say that all have grown to mean a lot to me.

So, besides that, is there a high spot to the year?  I doubt it, but I'll let you decide.  Here we go with my recollections of the year 2012!

I've been operating a full speed in a District Manager job that normally burns out people in six months, and I'm in month eleven.  I'm getting up at six a.m., writing all my managers positive motivation emails and combining daily reports, and getting to their store locations by ten a.m., after leaving the hotels that have become my home over a three state area.  I get to see my wife late Saturday night, Sunday (if she's not working), and Sunday night.  Monday, it's back on the road.

But the money is great!  I've bought so much stuff that I've not had a chance to open that it will be Christmas for months (if I ever get a chance to be at home).

However, I'm feeling lousy.  I'm experiencing blurred vision, lack of energy, and spaciness at times.  I've gone to the doctor and she wants to send me to five different specialists to find out what's up.

My regional director is the definition of a narcissistic asshole.  He doesn't try to instruct, only hound and use intimidation.  I don't think he even knows what to do.  We had a record sales year in the district I created, yet, he picks at everything.  When I told him I was undergoing medical treatment, he appears on January 31st with a separation agreement.  

Tired of his constant "holier than thou" attitude, I took it, and the money it offered.  

Now I can enjoy all the stuff I've bought!!!

What a month!  Specialist after specialist, and no results.  Even had a doctor give me a sales pitch for a "sleep" machine before diagnosing me!  What a sham!  Finally determined my weight gain from eating out in hotels and such had created a Diabetes Type 2 condition.  

Good things did happen this month!  I got to share my college history with my wife by getting tickets to two Indiana University basketball games!  It was over a three hour drive to get to each game, but was worth it!  Now, she's a true Indiana fan, too!  (So much so that she spent $300 in the fan store on team t-shirts, hoodies, and coffee cups!   Should have left her at home!)

Also, started having someone hit our front door every morning about 3 a.m.   Just a quick "bang" and they were gone.  Home invasions going up in the area.  So, I bought a pistol.  By the end of the month, had another and an assault rifle.  Target practicing at least three times a week.  

After the bang one night, I ran outside with my assault rifle and searched around the house.  Didn't find anyone as they must have been hiding around my neighbors home.  Funny, after that, no more bangs at the front door.  (It must have been my serious look on my face that scared them.)

Probably should be looking for a job, but I have never had a chance to watch the entire March Madness Basketball Tournament, and I'm a basketball junkie.  Still have plenty of money in the bank for several more months, so, what the hell, let's take off the month, work to get myself healthy, and enjoy the games!   (Well, it made sense to me!)

Time to get busy and find a job!  Had an interview with an Operations Director for a slot right under them as the Assistant Director.  Money seems good, as does her response to the interview.  Simply have to have patience as she works to get appointment approved with her home office.  (It's so damn boring not working that I paint the kitchen!  Found out quickly that paint balloons thrown at walls don't spread the paint as evenly as the wife wants!)

Still waiting on job to come through.  Director says things are slow in processing and not to get discouraged. Even if they don't approve it for some reason, she has a Sales Manager slot that she will hire me for, at about the same money.  (I almost feel guilty watching my neighbor mow my lawn ... almost.  Damn, I really am getting lazy!)

Operations Director has quit the company.  Turns out, company is being purchased and is hiring no one.  So, time to start sending out resumes.  Have never had trouble being hired before with my accomplishments, so not real worried about it.  Still have plenty of funds in the bank, but decided I might as well supplement them with unemployment benefits.  I'd never needed it before, but why not take it if it's available?  Doesn't everyone?

To make matters worse, I turned 58 years old!  Hell, I thought I'd die by the time I was 40 with my adrenaline rush habits.  (What am I still doing around?)

Found an ad concerning making money by writing!  Wow, am I excited!  Haven't written in many years, but had no problem when I did it in the past.  Even had an article published in a Science Fiction magazine in the late 70's.  So, it's time to make some money!   Signed up for and wrote my first article on if a person really knew what they were getting into when they decided to keep a snake as a pet.  (Yeah, I know ... lame, lame, lame!)

Still sending out applications and resumes.  What the hell?  Do these people not recognize quality when they see it?   (That was before I recognized today's recruiters rely on computers to choose the resumes they peruse.  Gives them time to watch HBOGo on their I-Phones!)

Writing is going well.  Meeting more people and getting plenty of views.  Found that creative writing was my true niche, as if I ever doubted it.  I just can't be one of these people to take an encyclopedia and write an article on it, like they'd come up with the topic first!  That was what we did in college, years ago!  (Where's the money Hubpages promised?  They wouldn't fabricate, would they?   Not Hubpages!)

More and more views coming in on Hubpages.  Community is accepting me more and more as I'm starting to get noticed.  Joined Hub Hoppers on Facebook and views soared!

Dealt with a recruiter at ADT.  He never called when he said he was going to, and then sent me an email stating that if he couldn't make contact with me, he'd have to withdraw my application.  I sent him a steaming email concerning his ability to perform his job duties ... with examples.  Received an email from him apologizing, and setting up a new time that he would call.  He never did.  (Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!  And this guy's got a job!  Corporations really are stupid at times!)  

Okay, this is really getting ridiculous.  I know it's illegal to ask age on applications, but these people are getting around it by requiring "Year Graduated" from high school, college, etc.!   It's the same damn thing!!!   (I wonder how much money I could make in a lawsuit against about 15 of these companies practicing this?   Maybe I could watch the next March Madness without worry again next year!)

Write, write, write ... that and reading hubs and answering comments seems to be all that's happening!  Still, no cash from Hubpages!   (No Virginia, Santa Claus isn't spelled!)

Seems like insurance companies are the only ones interested in all of my sales and management talents.  All of them are now charging over $600 to get state licensed.  So, I pay them $600 to go to work for them, and work on a commission only contract.  (Let's see, no, I wasn't born yesterday.)
My wife (in one of her happier moments)
with two of five walls of cd's in my
tiny collection.

To make matters worse, one of my external hard drives has crashed, taking with it over 50,000 songs of my collection.  I still have Cd's to reload, but need a new hard drive and the cash just isn't there.  Plus, it takes one hell of a long time to download 50,000 songs from Cd's!    (To some, this wouldn't matter.  To me, the only thing worse than losing my collection is losing my wife.  Besides, my collection wasn't insured!)

Started blogging.  Probably, not the best time to do so, but what the hell, I've nothing else to do!  Using a cynical style of character in my writing.  Easy to do at this time as I find myself getting more and more cynical about things in general.  Have been told some like it and some don't.  Abe Lincoln had been told the same thing about the Emancipation Proclamation.  (No, I'm no Abe Lincoln.  Never killed a vampire in my life!)

Veterans representative is a joke at the Employment Office.  They're more concerned about taking care of the vets coming back from the Middle East than anyone else!   We were ignored when we came back from the Vietnam Era, and still ignored today!  (Next time, congressmen, you get your asses to the war and see what you're missing!)

Job fairs are offering only $10 an hour jobs at best.  What a farce!  (My country tis of thee, sweet land of screwing thee, bend over and squeal!)

What's the world coming to!  Kids getting shot, politicians saying, "So what" to the needs of the people, and everyone is either crying or going broke.   (But The Voice still leads in the TV Ratings Book!)

My eyes are gone.  Can't see 95% of the time.  Doctors say I need to have both operated on immediately, or may lose vision entirely.  Did as asked.  Still not much better.  (Could this have something to do with them needing extra money for Christmas?)

To make matters worse, have been advised that my unemployment runs out January 1st, and Obama cancelled all extensions.  Seems his goal is to get everyone to take two minimum wage jobs so he can say he brought the unemployment rate down.  (What?  Not O-Bam-Bam-A!  Why, he's the savior of the country, just like Bush was!  Why do I feel like we've been here before?)

Christmas just doesn't seem like Christmas.  Wife worked Christmas Day just to make double time pay.  I'm the luckiest guy in the world to have a woman like her, even though I don't deserve her.   (I just wish she made decent money so I could be a stay at home hubby.  I'd even promise her to learn how to make decent cookies!)

Finally, starting to get some hope!  Three companies are expressing interest in me.  A couple even promise decent income levels.  Not getting hopes up until dotted line is signed, but, at least there may be a light at the end of this 2012 dark tunnel.  (Better be or I'll be using candles to heat the house!)   

You will learn family values ...
or go crazy trying!
2013 can be a great year!  

All we have to do is: 

1)  start a worldwide revolution in which all the current politicians are given a travel trailer, $400 a week income, and forced to star in "Dirty Jobs" at least three times a season, and "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" twice (just for meanness)!  

2)  Next, void all CEO termination payoffs for doing a lousy job and stick their butts in a cardboard box in an alley!   

3)  Finally, remove all reality TV from the airwaves, and give all parents competency tests to see if they're qualified to be parents and teach the basic rules of life  (manners, responsibility, right or wrong, etc.) to their children.  For those failing the tests, lock them into padded cells and show continuous episodes of "The Andy Griffith Show", "Family Affair", and "Lassie", until they either pass, or are completely certifiable!

Life is tough, but one can never let it get them down.  I've done my best to find the humor in the madness this last year, and bring it to you.  I'll continue to do so in the future, as sometimes, a smile is all we have to give.

I wish each of you the happiest of New Year's and much prosperity and joy in the year to come.  And, if you see me on the side of the road with a sign in my hands, remember, 

I need cash, not a can of pork & beans!!!!

Keep Smiling & Happy New Year!!!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Let It Snow ... Let It Snow ... Let It Snow (You Sadist!)

Okay, I know it's not like blizzard condition snow,
but still, it's more than we usually get in KY.
My Ridgeline needed washing anyway.

I awoke in my recliner this morning as my wife hit my foot on purpose with her knee.

No, she doesn't think I know she's a vindictive bi...., er, wonderful woman.  Yet, I know she was upset seeing me sleeping there as she was preparing to go to work.   So, purposely, under the guise of inadvertently, she hit my foot extending beyond the foot rest of the recliner with her knee.  Of course, you already knew that since I mentioned it in the first sentence.  That is, unless you didn't read the first sentence.  Of course, if you didn't read the first, why would you be reading this one?

Anyway, after she woke me up, I arose, went to the window, and saw exactly what I expected.  I had an inkling what might be there, having only gone to sleep in the recliner a few hours before.  In fact, I purposely went to sleep in the recliner (as discussed in sentence one and paragraph one, too) so that my wife's vindictiveness would again show itself, and would wake me for a purpose.  

I almost feel like I'm double talking myself.

Only a few hours before, I had looked out the window to see our first snow of the year falling.  (Did you ever wonder why they say it's "falling?"   Have you ever seen it come out of the ground and rise up into the sky?)   Anyway, I'd glanced over to her car to see it was beginning to get covered in the frozen white droppings of angel spit.   (I used to have an aunt call it that.  It had a much greater affect to keeping us youngsters from eating snow than simply calling it "yellow" snow did.)

I figured if I slept in the recliner, my wife, as dependable as she is, would be aggravated that it had snowed and that she would have to get her feet wet walking to the car, and then having to scrap the snow off of it, and then wake me up so that she could share her anger and start my day off wonderfully.

That's just my wife!  Not knocking her ... just being honest.  She can be a true bi ....  er, wonderful woman at times.   She just likes others to "share her pain."    I know it's better to give than receive, but she carries it one step too far.

"So, she's at it again, huh?  
I'm glad she's your wife and not mine!"
Well, I knew that I was going to surprise her and go out, shovel the walk, and scrape the snow off of her car for her, but she didn't.   She continued to huff and puff around the house, shutting draws with the force of a jet thruster and doors with all the stealth of a wild bucking bull in heat!

As I was getting out of the recliner, Faletame stopped his snoring and said, "She's at it again, huh?"

"Yeah, she is.  You know how she likes to hide her feelings."

Gabriela barely opened her eyes and asked, "Are you two talking about me again?  You know you don't want to get me all demonized at you!"

"Look, it's not even light yet!  It's still dark!
A girl needs her beauty sleep!
Keep her QUIET!"
"Go back to sleep, girl.  We're discussing the true Bi...., er, wonderful woman of the house."

"Oh, her.  Yeah, she woke me up with all that drawer and door banging, too.  You'd think you humans could control your feelings a little better than that."  she yawned.

Faletame joined in, "Damn straight!  She's about a calm as a hurricane meeting a tornado and having a litter of earthquakes!"

"Hey, that 's my wife you two are talking about.  How'd you like me to give you no name brand cat food tonight instead of Little Friskies?"

Faletame's eyes opened up wide, his ears popped up and back, and he started backtracking, "C'mon Rich!  You know I was only kidding!  You guys are the best!  I couldn't ask for better owners!"

You had to be there.  

"Please, Rich ... I'll be good!  Anything to keep from
getting no name brand cat food.  You know ... it's
like, my kingdom for Little Friskies!"
I shook my head and chuckled as I went to the closet and grabbed my coat and gloves.  Oh yeah, gotta get off these slippers and put on some shoes.  What the hell was I thinking anyway?

Finally, the task was done.  Her car was cleaned off of snow, all doors checked and found not to be frozen shut, and the walk cleared to keep her feet dry.   Sometimes, I surprise myself.

When I walked back in the house, things were somewhat different in tone.  Both cats were snoring, coffee was brewing, and my wife actually had a smile on her face.  

But, being her, she never apologized.  

See, my wife lives by the "Love Story" philosophy that "being in love means never having to say you're sorry."   At least that's what she says.

I think her philosophy is actually, "Be a big enough Bi..., er, wonderful woman and you'll always get your way!"

It seems to be working.

"So sorry you had to go to work so early today!
Be safe ... and come home in a better mood!"

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Another Life Has Passed

We all lose friends over the years.  Family Members, whether
adopted or natural, tend to hit us a little harder.
Everyone and everything has its time on Earth.    

And then it's over.

Losing a loved one this time of year is not easy.  A family member is especially tough.

Adopted family members are almost as difficult.

In 2003, I adopted a friend.  This friend would live under my roof, be fed on a constant basis, and bask in the warmth of the care I could provide him.  

I awoke this morning to a strange smell in the room.  This smell was similar to a decaying mouse.

No, I've never had a mouse as a household pet.  I don't like mice.  They bite, they crap, they piss in their water bowls, and they don't even display any type of beauty.  Sorry Mickey, even Stuart Little couldn't spend a night in my house, unless he wanted to play with my cats, Faletame and Gabriela all night!  That would be something to watch!

I slide the glass back, carefully lifted up the hide rock, and underneath found my adopted household friend in a somewhat still position.  No prodding would create movement.  Indeed, my friend was stiff as a board.

As life would have it, all era’s must come to an end.  
There's no reason to shed tears!
Life must continue for the living.

In the mid 60’s, I was playing Army in my grandfather’s back forest with a friend of mine.  As I was running across a clearing (and being shot in the back with BB’s) I jumped over a fallen tree.  As I landed, I felt something hit the back of my leg.  Thinking I’d flipped thorns up (and still being shot with BB’s) I ran another step before stopping.  I’d felt something flop against the back of my leg, and needed to investigate.  

Just as I looked down, I saw a copperhead remove itself from the back of my leg and strike again ... and again.   I could only imagine my leg starting forward as it first struck and being carried by the motion of my leg once the fangs entered my calf.  

I spent a couple of days in the hospital that time.    While there, relatives would come by and make statements that I’d never go back in the woods again as I would develop a fear of these animals.  Instead, I developed the need to face my fears and learn all I could about these creatures.

In the late 70’s, a friend of mine, in South Africa, was raising venomous reptiles for research.  I opened a container that held some Cape Cobra (naja Nivea) eggs.  One of the eggs was pushing against another in an attempt of the occupant to hatch.  So, I reached down and adjusted the egg’s position to allow this to happen much easier.

I didn’t know that one had already hatched from the bottom of one of the eggs and was underneath the substrate.

The neonate cobra attached itself to the side of my right hand, little finger and wouldn’t let go.  Such is the life of a feeding response.  It pumped every bit of venom it had into that finger until I could manage to remove it.

After a stay in a South African hospital (and three days on life support), I found that finger to never be the same.  The internal necrosis had eaten away cartilage and tissue which would forever give me the “tea drinker’s” pinkie appearance.

Since that time, I’ve owned upwards of fifty types of venomous reptiles.  My collection has included some of the most venomous species in the world at times.  I’ve had a couple of more bites from slightly venomous species, but never returned to the hospital.  

Then the laws started changing.  

Suddenly it was illegal in the state of Kentucky to own these.  In addition, the city had created its own laws that were even more strict about the keeping of exotics.   My landlord even started including a clause in the lease about them.  So, I either sold or gave away my collection.
I never took a picture of my friend for some reason.
This is one identical to my specimen.

All except one.

The Western Hognose snake has been declared slightly venomous in the last few years.  It won’t kill you, but you can sustain major swelling and possible muscle damage from it’s bite.  However, none of the city or state regulations lists it as venomous as yet. 

It was my last specimen.  My last reminder of the era I’d spent getting pure adrenaline rushes from dealing with death on the end of a snake hook, or in extracting venom days, in my hands.  They provided me a reason to travel many countries of the world I would have never done otherwise, as I hunted them in their natural habitat to supply venom labs with specimens for extractions necessary for the making of antivenins.  

Imagine, being able to hold a living creature that has the ability to kill you with one bite in the flash of a micro second, and surviving!  Oh, I’ve dealt with gators, venomous lizards, and other creatures that could kill you, but there was something so sinister, yet, beautiful in the patterns they wore, as venomous snakes.

Today, my hognose snake died.

The burial was a garbage bag in the trash.  No, I’m not that sentimental about it.

But, for me, the era of venomous snakes is over ... completely.  

My years in dealing with them taught me to always face my fears and never allow fear to rule my life.  That followed me through my times of sky diving, skin diving, stand-up comedy, marriage, and even two years ago when I took a high performance driving class and raced around a sports car track at speeds exceeding 150 mph.   Fear will only hold one back.   Only when you face and overcome these fears will you have an experience to talk about that many others only wish they'd enjoyed.   Healthy respect is always recommended, but fear is nothing more than a hindrance to success and feeling the rush life can truly offer.

I have decided to no longer replace my reptiles, as my wife would be lost in tending for them should I pass on, too.  

It’s another phase of my life that has passed.  Sad, in a way, as it was one that provided many challenges and experiences that I can recall with enthusiasm and cherish for the rest of my life, as my years pass by all to quickly, 

So, now I must find something to replace it.

Time to check out bridge bungee jumping!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Cookies ... Round Or Square? Who Cares?

First things first.

***Julie, I apologize for stealing your photo without asking.  I hope in the spirit of the season, you will not sue me.  I steal it in a sense of sharing the perfect examples of what cookies should look like.  As you will see later, neither they, nor you, have anything to fear from this individual.***

Julie DeNeen's Perfect Cookies And Pastries!!!
See and read more from Julie at  Life According To Julie

As most of you follow Julie's blogs, you know she's is a fanatic in the kitchen, especially this time of year.  Her efforts are well documented in the photo of her efforts that I have stolen without permission.  

My wife has to work tonight, Christmas Eve, in the pharmacy, and all day tomorrow.  I've already volunteered to try to duplicate my Thanksgiving efforts in the kitchen for Christmas Day, but about two hours ago I thought, "Why don't I surprise her and try to make some cookies?"

This may not seem like much of a challenge to most of you.  Let's remember two things here:  1)  I'm a man that has had no training in the kitchen, and 2)  I've already written an entire blog about my efforts and a German Chocolate Cake, that I finally got my wife to bake.  These two items should tell you that what I'm about to relate may not make sense to you, but to me, seemed perfectly normal!

So, not having a tremendous amount of cash, my standard state these days, I remembered seeing Chocolate Chip Cookie mix in Dollar Tree.  I jumped in my Ridgeline, started it up, and hurried there hoping they were still open.  

They were!  Amazing!  

However, I witnessed dirty looks from the cashier as I rushed through the door.  

"We close in ten minutes!"

The voice behind me was somewhat demanding, and somewhat begging in manner.  No fear!  I knew right where the mix was located.

I rushed to the aisle, grabbed three boxes of the mix, rushed to their cooler and picked up a box of Blue Bonnet (just to be safe having not checked at home in advance to see how our home supplies stood), and rushed back to the register.

They were locking the door as I checked out.  Watching the frowning cashier bag up my purchase, I tried to be as friendly as possible and wish the Grinch a Merry Christmas!  

"Yeah, you too."

Whatta season spirit filled greeting!  My insides filled with emotion.  Actually, I'd just drank a Diet Coke on my way to the store and a delayed burping reaction was working its way up my torso.

I passed the store manager (who was arguing with several people that wanted to come in at the door) and headed to the truck.  On my way, a group of five young men (resembling a scene from South Central in the 90's) were assembled close to my truck.  As I jumped in the truck and started it, they made their way over and knocked on the window.  I put the truck in gear, and in the spirit of the season, lowered my window about halfway.

"Yo, bro, I's jes gottsouta jail en needs sumthin ta smoke.  Yo gots a cig, man?"

"Sorry, I don't speak Spanish."

I pulled out a little faster than normal, making sure I didn't turn my lights on, just in case I hit one of them.  Why no lights?   It makes it harder to read the license plate!

Faletame Acting Cool Again!
I make the drive home, walk in the house, and Faletame goes, "Hey Rich, what's to eat tonight?"   

"I don't know, why?"

"Well, you and I know you're going to give me some turkey roast tomorrow, so I was thinking tonight would be a good night for some sort of fish or tuna Little Friskies, instead of chicken or turkey.  You know, poultry two days in a row gets old."

Gabriela looked up from her habitual prone position and agreed with him.  I was outnumbered.

"I'll see what I can do.  First, I've got to make Millie some cookies."

"Cookies?  Hell Rich, you can't make cookies!  Give it up, man!"

Gabriela Agreed ... "Rich, You Can't Bake!"
Perhaps, if Faletame hadn't rolled over on his back laughing so hard, I might not have had thoughts of checking.  However, yep, there it was, a can of turkey Little Friskies left.  Laugh at me will you!  Muhahahah!

Reading the directions, I put all three packages of cookie mix into a bowl.  Next came the three tablespoons of Blue Bonnet, one for each package.  Three teaspoons of water came next.  

But, when I got to the next part, I was paralyzed with fear.  Add three egg yolks read the directions.  Three egg yolks ... how do you separate the yolk from the white?   Not having any idea, nor patience to search endlessly on the web, I simply said the hell with it and put three eggs, whites and yolks, into the mix.  I've never been one for segregation anyway!

I then saw that I was supposed to put the cookies on an "ungreased cookie sheet."  I'd already sprayed the sheet with a cooking spray, so, once again, the hell with it was my reaction.  We must learn by our mistakes.  Right?

I went ahead, measured out slightly rounded teaspoons of cookie mix, and was able to get almost all of the mix on one cookie sheet.  I'd already preheated the oven to 375 degrees, so after sticking them in it, I only had to time them.

As I waited, I changed into my sweats (God Bless Sweats!) and returned.  Bored, I went ahead and reread the box directions.  "Place each teaspoon of dough three inches apart."

"Three Inches!"


Okay, Damnit!  I Know I Can't Bake!
Still, Ya Gotta Give A Guy Credit!

This is the picture of the cookies, or what should have been individual cookies.  In this case, it became a mat of cookies.  Oh well, I cut them apart into nice square pieces.  

My wife will be home in less than three hours.  I can't wait to see the look on her face when she sees the container of square cookies awaiting her!  (I'd like to see Julie's when she sees the above picture!)

These aren't hard cookies (must've been the egg whites), but they really don't taste so bad.  I really can't understand why Faletame's laughing so hard.  (He won't be laughing so much when I stick the turkey Little Friskies in front of his face.)

So, Julie, you now know why I stole your picture.  Yours are the picture of perfection.  Mine are not.  

So, let's talk about your German Chocolate Cake making skills!

Merry Christmas to all and to all ... a square cookie!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

"Tag" or "Cooties" ... Is There A Difference?

Alas, I've Been Caught For The Second Day In A Row!

I recall a game of my youth!

No, it wasn't tag.  Tag was something you played when you were very young.

The game was called 

I have no idea where or how it originated, nor care.  It really doesn't matter.  

What I do remember was someone would come up to you, touch your body somewhere (usually not where one would want or appreciate) and holler, "Cooties, Cooties, you've got Cooties!"   We would then do the same to another, generally of the same gender for fear of visiting the Principal's office for inappropriate touching.  (Hey, some of us knew how to use opportunity, even way back then!)

In adult life, the premise of tagging is again taking place.  Chain letters were bad enough, as you had to wonder if the person sending it to you actually had an agreement with Satan and would send terrible things your way if you didn't comply.  

However, this tagging is taking place under the guise of "holiday spirit" and makes one simply feel guilty if they do not return the favor.  (I guess Christmas brings out the youngster in all of us ... well, most.)

I awoke yesterday to having been tagged.  So, I complied and wrote a blog about the experience.  If you missed it (whether intentionally or not), I welcome you to view it here:

Today, after going to bed at 8 a.m. this morning, I awoke to guess what?   Yep!  Once again, I'd been tagged!

This time, Cyndi Calhoun, another friend of mine, found her normally extremely functional brain to be somewhat demented (it's nice to see others visit the mental state in which I live) had listed me in this continued version of sadistic, oops, continued version of Christmas cheer.   

"Tell us your secrets and make them clear,
we're all friends there's nothing to fear!
Rah, Rah, Zis Bah Boom!"

Can you still do the splits?  I never could.  My voice was too low.

Getting back to Cyndi Calhoun ... here's a person that everyone loves.  (No, not literally, she's not that type of girl!  Shame on you!)  Cyndi is a photographer extraordinaire and creates visual masterpieces with both the camera she uses and the words she pens.  She’s constantly experimenting with various techniques to bring the photo to life for all to enjoy, and is damn good at it.  

Of course, it comes honestly as she got much practice in her previous life.  She fine tuned her skills decades ago as a photographer for the Marquis de Sade.  I think that’s where she picked up this sadistic “tagging” art.   None of those photos still exist (she’s spent most of this life searching them down and destroying them to keep her looking sweet and innocent in the eyes of this life’s friends), but you can visit a tremendous array of her current offerings at:  

Okay, now to the task at hand.  I must go through the questions in her post and try to find those that I have yet to answer.  (Oh, the humanities!  More work!)  Let’s give this a shot:

1)  What makes Christmas such a special holiday to you and your family?  
It comes after Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Third time’s a charm!   No, in all sincerity, I first need to say I’m not a “church” person.  I don’t usually go to church because I’ve had many negative experiences as an adult with men preaching what they can’t show in the Bible.  (I once had two deacons visit my home and start knocking rock music.  I played them a couple of James Taylor tunes, and then some shit kicking Country selections to compare.  Then, when I asked them to show me any reference to Rock Music in the Bible, it was suddenly time to pray and say goodbye.)

However, I do hold religion very sacred in my heart.  This is the celebration of the birthday of Christ, not a competition to see how much one can spend on gifts.  I think that is lost most of the time.  It is a special day for a very special birthday boy, and recognizing that should make it the most special of days for all families.  (See, I do have a serious side.  Disappointed?)

2)  Were you told the truth about Santa by your parents or did you find out some other way?
You might say I’ve always been the inquisitive ass.  It was always funny to me that my parents needed to know what I wanted Santa to know, and how most of what I wrote in my letter to Santa appeared under the tree.  So, one year, I think second grade, I went snooping.  In their closet I found a vast amount of gifts prior to Christmas Day.  So, either Santa was visiting early (which made me wonder why we left out cookies and milk on Christmas Eve), or Santa was a myth.  When I approached my teacher about it, she said to ask my parents.  That told me a conspiracy was in the air among the adults of the world.  A few weeks later, when Christmas Eve hit, my parents asked me if I wanted to leave out the standard cookies and milk.  I said, “Why?  Santa’s already been here.  He left all the presents in your closet!”   (Have you ever been punished on Christmas Eve for looking in your parents closet?)

3)  What’s your favorite Christmas movie to watch?  Or, Christmas song?
Typically, I’d respond “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  But whoever said I was typical?  Actually, I enjoy “A Christmas Story.”  I won’t watch it over and over and over all day on TBS, but once is okay.  Not only does it have it’s humorous moments, but it’s about a time that I grew up during, when life was much more simple and family oriented.  Plus, I begged for a Daisy BB gun myself one year, and received it.  For years, there was a BB hole in the basement window of my parent’s home that was blamed on a neighbor’s kid that also got one.  I wonder how it got there?

As far as Christmas song, “The Christmas Song” by Jose Feliciano is a tremendous version that I never tire of.  Others have done it well, but Jose’s really comes from the soul.  And, I can never forget one of my first records ever, when I was a child.  It was the Three Stooges singing, “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth”.   (God, I was a comedy junkie even further back than I originally remembered!)

4)  If you could spend Christmas anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I’ve moved so many times in my life, I’ve found it doesn’t matter where you are, but who you’re with.  As long as my wife is by my side, it doesn’t matter.  Christmas is a personal time when emotions run high.  I don’t care about the background scenery, I just want to always see her eyes looking into mine on that day.  (Of course, if Victoria’s Secret called ... there’s always computer cams!)

5)  What’s the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?
My heart’s discovery of what the day really meant.  After serving in the military, I was living in a cold garage apartment with no funds.  Eating once a day was done only by splitting up a box of Kraft Mac & Cheese into three days of servings.  I knew there was a feast to be held with all of my father’s family only 17 miles away, but I remembered how Christmas had become a competition of who got the most expensive gift.  I wanted none of it, as I felt something was amiss in feeling that way.  I stayed home with my two cats of the time (Avatar and Blackwolf), and watched Christmas programming on a 19” Black & White TV.  I had even restrained my inhaling that day to make sure I kept it holy.  

The next day, I recognized how good I felt.  I had restrained myself from the competition, and strengthened my belief that it was Christ’s day, not ours to taint with petty egos.  I vowed to never compete on that day, but to give all I could in the spirit of the heart and love, instead.  I’ve never been sorry about that decision.  (But, if you'd like to compete, you can send all Christmas gifts to me at ......)

Okay, enough is enough!  

To all that have not been tagged, you’re now tagged!  You’re not getting out of it this easily!  Share your tales of Christmas with all of us!

And remember, I WILL remember you next year if you try to tag me again!  : )

Merry Christmas to all of you, my friends!

May you be blessed with the joy and warmth of eternal love and family togetherness!

(Except the "family togetherness" part in Mississippi and Eastern Kentucky, 
where it has a whole different meaning!)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tagged ... Bah, Humbug!

I awoke this morning to a "tagging".  

Yesterday, I blogged an article about having been nominated for an award.  The reward for being nominated was to nominate others.

Have I ever told you I'm somewhat lazy?  This is the post from Michelle L. I awoke to:

"Yes, the true gift of Christmas is sacrifice, forgiveness, and above all these, love. I would like to thank Melanie Chisnall of Scribbles and Smiles, who passed on the truest Christmas message of friendship I know to the rest of us.

Melanie is a dedicated blogger and most definitely, talented writer. If you have not already gotten to know this talented lady well, check out her blog, Scribbles and Smiles for little reminders of the positive things in life. She tagged us with some questions which I find great fun to answer."

1. What’s the coolest stocking gift you’ve ever received?
2. Do you prefer to wrap gifts or use gift bags? (short and easy one)?
3. What’s the weirdest ornament on your tree?
4. What are your thoughts on re-gifting?
5. Describe the best Christmas morning you’ve ever had.

Anyway, Good ol' Melanie (did I tell you she's the one who did it to me with the nomination?) did it to me again, inadvertently, that is!  Michelle is the real culprit!  (But, I still love both of them to death!) 

I must now answer questions about Christmas past. I could avoid doing this, but will participate in the tone of "Christmas Cheer" and the spirit of the season.  

Damn you, Bob Cratchett!

1. What’s the coolest stocking gift you’ve ever received?
My mother-in-law used to give me a pair of Dollar Store socks every year for Christmas.  These stockings were not particularly long lasting, nor well made.  One year, I had just come in from an unseasonal rainy Christmas entrance, so my clothes were drenched.  Not wanting me to "catch cold", she handed me my flimsy wrapped gift and said, "Go put these on."  An hour later, my feet started itching.  I pulled the black socks down, and my ankles and feet were black from the cheap dye from the socks.  The price of the socks, 99 cents.  The look on her face, Priceless!   Cool, indeed!

2. Do you prefer to wrap gifts or use gift bags? (short and easy one)?
Since most retailers now give purchases in plastic bags, I find them impossible to roll down the opening and tape it up.  So, I've started wrapping.  I'm terrible at it, and really don't want to get better.  A complete roll of wrapping paper around a bottle of perfume makes for much frustration in opening it.  I guess I'm a sadist at heart.

3. What’s the weirdest ornament on your tree?
We out grew our house about a decade ago, so we don't really have much of a tree.  A two foot high artificial contraption my wife picked up at the pharmacy she works suffices.  Gabriela was nosing around it the other night and sneezed.  So, somewhere, attached is the remnants of that.  It is definitely the weirdest ornament on the tree.

4. What are your thoughts on re-gifting?
I've never done it.  Passing on Dollar Store socks seems somewhat ridiculous.  Plus, they wear out by the second time you use them.  My oldest daughter has a habit of buying me polo shirts.  I never wear polo shirts.  I actually hate polo shirts.  So, I have at least 15 years of these hanging in the closet.  I could package them up and give them back to her husband, but I'm sure she'd recognize some of them.  Hey, that may be a thought!

5. Describe the best Christmas morning you’ve ever had.
As a parent, all of them were great, but stressful.  I always wondered, "Did I buy enough?  Are the kids happy or disappointed?"  I always wanted to get them everything, but money was a problem most of the time.  They never complained, and seemed happy.  At least, I never noticed.  (Of course, I was inhaling strange items at that time in my life, too, so that may have been a factor.)

As a husband, I was able to buy my wife a new diamond wedding ring set (in the multiple thousands) a few years back.  My wife had worn her grandmother's ring for years, as I was a cheaply paid radio DJ when we married.  The look on her face when she opened up the ring set was heartwarming.  (Plus, it got her off of my case about it from that point on.)

Personally, my parents used to spoil me silly with Christmas gifts when I was a kid.  Then, we'd get dressed and go to my grandmother's to eat Christmas dinner with the rest of the family.  There, they'd all give gifts to everyone.  There's not one that stands out in particular, just the group of all of them merging with gifts, love and family interaction.  (Yeah, I'm a sentimental fool at heart.  Damn, I've got to stop this crap or my reputation will be completely ruined!)

So, that's it!  It's over!  I've done as asked, or tagged to do.

Since my mother died at my age 13, Christmas has never really been the same.  Instead of being thrilled with the gifts I receive, I simply want to give everything I can to all I can and see the joy on their faces.  This year sucks, as my financial state has ceased that ability entirely.  My wife is going to work Christmas, to get double time at the pharmacy, and I'm going to stay home..  Hopefully, since the apocalypse didn't occur, next year will be better.

But, I'm not going to let it get me down.  I've got some jobs brewing in the fire that pay extremely well. I'm thankful that I still have my wife of 32 years (who still isn't smart enough to leave me and find someone worth having), my two cats (pains in the butts they are), and my family (living elsewhere, thank goodness).  

I'm going to go ahead (since I'm lazy and probably won't write another blog before the holiday) and wish each and every one of you a very Happy and Merry Christmas!  

Enjoy your families.  Find internal warmth in the smiles you provide!  Hold your loved ones close and share all the love you can!  It is a day to rejoice with each other and provide memories that will be cherished for decades to come.  Most important, take a moment of silence and give thanks to the birthday boy himself.  

Merry Christmas!

Check out the original post at:
Muses from the Deep: short stories, poems and reflections: The gift of the Yule

Oh, now it's time for me to tag someone.  Instead, I think I'll simply ask all of you that haven't yet been tagged to share with the rest of us.  It's your opportunity to voluntarily share.  This way, no one is left out, as no one should be.  Spread Christmas cheer in your blog, and let us know when you do.

And, if you really want to gather in readers, 

share the hot parts!

(I wish I could remember those days!)