Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the tag “Family”

Mangia, Y’all

 

IT WAS A FESTIVE OCCASION LAST NIGHT. We all decided to venture out and try the “new restaurant in town, that Italian place.” In this small town in South Texas a new restaurant opening up is a major event. Make that new restaurant something other than BBQ or Mexican cuisine and it is time to stop the presses!

This town where we are visiting family has a population of about five thousand souls, seven bail bond storefronts, and three donut shops. And now it has an Italian restaurant.

When we arrived the Greeter/Headwaitress asked if we had reservations. The answer was “Yes,” but under my breath I mumbled, “Yes, but we came anyway.” Sometimes I can’t help myself.

The place was crowded. Something new draws attention.

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A Cheerful Morning

 

WE HAD COMPANY DROP BY THIS MORNING. They were most welcome because they brought fresh kolaches (look it up). Anyone who brings pastries when they come through the door will be embraced. I think if the Magi had brought kolaches to Bethlehem instead of gold, frankincense, and myrrh they would have been invited to stay for the weekend.

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“Hang On, Lupe. Lupe, Hang On”

HANG ON LUPE! LUPE, HANG ON!

I know, I know, that’s not how the old song by the McCoys goes. For my purposes today however that is how it’s going to play.

We are down in Texas right now making our Spring visit to family. Dawn wants to spend some quality time with her Mother who is 98 and has a strong heart. At 98 she now has 24 hour Home Health Care, but still needs her family around her. Her two sons and daughters-in-law live just a few streets away and are very attentive to their Momma’s needs, but there is nothing like having her baby daughter coming down from Indiana for a visit. I come along too.

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There Has To Be A Better Way

WELL, IT IS TIME TO STRAP ON OUR WINGS AND FLY. We are heading down to Texas for a family visit. We are both very happy to be doing this for several reasons.

  1. We are looking forward to seeing everyone.
  2. Dawn’s Mother has better Wi-Fi than we do.
  3. It is warmer there than Indiana and we need to feel some heat.

Those three factors alone make this trip worthwhile. Actually, they would make any trip worthwhile.

When we make these excursions to Texas the snags that appear are all part of the “getting there” that we have to go through. Whoever came up with that “Getting there is half the fun” line must have been drinking the entire time.

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To Boldly Go Where No Member Of My Family…

THE OTHER DAY I BUMPED INTO A LITTLE FACTOID. It was about you, me, and everyone else on Earth. Unless you know something I don’t know all of us are natives of this planet. According to that factoid you and I live here on Earth which is one planet in our Solar System, which is part of our Galaxy – The Milky Way – and that our Galaxy is off by itself in the emptiest and most remote part of the visible Universe.

To the rest of the Universe we are off in the desert.

How did that happen? Do we have B.O.?

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I’ll Never Do This Again – Until Next Time

WHAT WAS I THINKING? I know better than to behave like that. Alas, I will end up paying for that the next day and for several days after that. It was stupid – legal, but stupid.

Just about every Sunday we – my wife, the lovely and theologically eloquent, Dawn, and I go out for lunch with friends. After church we gather our amiable selves and head off to the preselected dining destination of the day. Our Sunday choices range from small neighborhood cafes where the chef looks like everybody’s Grandmother and no two plates match up – all the way to those Monster All-You-Can-Eat Buffets that always charge too much.

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It Could Have Been Worse…No, That’s Not True.

TWO WEEKS IN TEXAS. LET ME TELL YOU. It is a lot like two weeks inside a cement mixer filled with marbles…and the odd brisket…and every microbe in the known universe.

For the entire two weeks my sinuses were in a war of attrition. There were no survivors. My head geysered more extraneous fluid than the Johnstown Flood. I predict that the stock in the company that makes Kleenex will soar like a rocket.

Two weeks in any one location can be a challenge, but spend those weeks in close illness sharing proximity with a couple dozen other people can be a true purgatory experience.

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Putting On The Ritz Or Something Like That

I’M NOT SAYING THAT I AM A BUSYBODY, well, not full time anyway. Let’s just say that I have prehensile ears that can pick up snatches of conversations all by themselves without any effort on my part. I think that skill is a remnant of some prehistoric survival thingy where I could be hunting that big Mastodon, but my ears pick up the purring of a Sabertooth Tiger in the weeds. That can certainly come in handy.

These days in the middle of Indiana there are few Sabertooth Tigers around, just a few Insurance Salesmen and the odd Blogger. I think I did actually see a Mastodon by the Deli Counter at the Kroger last week. It was buying some Pastrami.

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Throwback Thursday from January 2016 – “The Last Biscuit Protocol”

Throwback Thursday from January 2016

 

“The Last Biscuit Protocol”

BY AND LARGE we are a polite society. Of course, the exceptions to that are loud, obnoxious, and to be avoided at all costs – particularly around dinner time.last biscuit

Whenever the family gathers, like at Christmastime, or other major events, we can have a considerable number around the table. And, for the most part, they are members of that polite society. But that politeness can lead to some interesting observations. Let me explain.

Around our table food can vanish quickly. Platters are moving clockwise at a dizzying speed and serving forks and tablespoons are dueling. But, when that part of the action stops and the serious eating begins, one observation can be made – nobody has taken the last biscuit. Sitting all by itself is one solitary biscuit, probably feeling like the last kid to be selected for the touch football game.

It might be that biscuit, or a slice of bacon, or last spoonful of that green bean casserole, but no one will finish it off. Why, I ask myself? Does everyone think that they have been playing Russian Roulette with the food and they have lucked out, leaving the loaded biscuit behind?

Perhaps they are so self-conscious, not wanting to be seen as being so hungry that they would actually snatch that last biscuit away from someone else.

I can’t believe that everyone’s appetites have been completely sated just one bite shy of an empty casserole dish.

Come on! I’ve seen this group go through a potluck supper like Sherman’s Army through Georgia. I have seen people around the table looking longingly at the last slice of pie, resisting the urge to pounce on it like a leopard on a wounded gazelle. If eyes could drool the tablecloth would be wet, but “The Last Biscuit Protocol” takes precedent and the pie remains, alone and abandoned.

I do know that before the evening is over that last slice will miraculously vanish from the refrigerator, leaving an empty pan behind. I’m thinking we should set up one of those cameras that zoologists use to count wolves or Yetis in the wild. Then we would be able to find out who scarfs down that remaining pie, or sausage link or biscuit.

All in the name of science, of course.

I’m sure that this phenomenon happens in other families, around other tables, and around the world. I’m sure that in Sweden there is “The Last Lutefisk Protocol,” and “The Last Monkey Brain Protocol,” holds forth in some remote Asian or African village. I do doubt, however, that there is a “Last Taco Bell Breakfast Menu Item Protocol,” anywhere, at any time. I have no proof of that. It is just a gut feeling – that feeling being a cramping sensation tinged with a need to escape.

I’m sure that we will continue to be polite and that the last biscuit will continue to die a lonely death on the plate. There is nothing I can do about it, and don’t expect me to be the culture-buster who reaches out and snatches it away with everyone else watching in horror. They already look at me funny as it is. I don’t need the pressure – and I sure don’t need the biscuit.

 

There’s No Place Like Home After The Holidays

 

We are just back from Texas and our Annual Christmas Extravaganza and Food Riot. Everything went well. There were about 28 people around that tree – just like last year. Next year we anticipate the number to be at least one baby higher. The little ones from last year are a year older, bigger, and more frantically active. Two Twin Two-Year Olds in Non-Stop Motion. Picture a crowded room and in the middle of it is a Perpetual Motion Machine on Overdrive.

Katie, bar the door!

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Let’s Start A New Year -2019

We made it through 2018, more or less, and now that we have crossed into 2019 I suggest that we start it off correctly – as God intended.

Watch a lot of football.

New Year 2016 2

Spend time with Family and Friends

Nurse your aching head and make no sudden moves.

OK?

We’ll start over tomorrow!

Merry Christmas To You All Around The World !

 

christmas

Enjoy this day with your Family and Friends!

 

Fa, la, la, la, la.

Christmas Eve – Brace Yourself

Christmas Eve – one of the most magical days of the year – if you are a child. If you are an adult it is a night when you are exhausted, frustrated looking for those darned scissors, and suffering from paper cuts.

The Christmas Tree is up and decorated, gifts are wrapped and under the tree, and that bottle of Christmas cheer is getting low.

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Happy Birthday!

 

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Today is my Mother-in-Law’s birthday.

It is her 98th birthday.

Born in 1920, a Child of the Great Depression she was at home in Texas teaching school during World War Two while her husband served the cause of Freedom in the Pacific.

After the war she had three children who were raised to be successful, ethical, and caring human beings.

Now, at 98 years, she continues to put her trust and faith in God.

Her Family is with her even if they are living around the country.

Happy Birthday, Lola!

Hi, Neighbor!

 

WE HAVE NEW NEIGHBORS! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

The house next door has been empty for several months – ever since the crazies and their dogs moved to Florida. This past weekend a caravan of SUVs, cars, and a van or two began to show up unloading furniture and household goods. I said a silent prayer.

About an hour after the parade of vehicles began, my wife, the lovely and eternally ecclesiastical, Dawn, and I were on our way out. We were just getting to the Toyota when we heard a loud voice coming over the fence.

“Hey! Hey! Hey!”

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I’m Still Not Hungry

WILL SOMEONE PLEASE HIT ME WITH A BRICK if I ever suggest going to another “All You Can Eat” buffet for Thanksgiving Dinner.

It was just the four of us at our table – Me, my wife, the lovely and eternally practical, Dawn, our son, Alex, and the spirits of Genghis Khan and his Horde – all of us eating until we blacked out.

Why is it that all sense of Reason and Proportion disappear when confronted with an endless supply of Mashed Potatoes and Roast Turkey? A nearby mountain of Crab Cakes doesn’t help either.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States.

It is a day to be with Family and Friends.

Wherever you are – enjoy this day and we will see you tomorrow.

Fiction Saturday – “Mistakes Were Made” – Part One

Mistakes Were Made

The Security light didn’t come on. Why? Why did it stay dark? I reached up and felt the light bulb. It had been unscrewed. I left it alone and moved up against the garage into the shadows. No sense making myself an easy and obvious target if that was how this was going. I learned that during the war. If they can’t see you they can’t shoot you…hopefully.
Things have been relatively easy since I was cut loose from the Service. After three years in Europe I was moved to the West Coast in anticipation of an invasion of Japan. Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended that. I was mustered out in San Francisco and until my paychecks catch up to me I’m stuck here and in need of a job of some sort. That’s how I’ve ended up being part of a security detail on the Van Swearingen estate. They had money. I didn’t. They had a job opening that needed filling and I had a stomach in the same fix.

They called me “Nighttime Security,” but I was really just a night watchman walking around the grounds looking to keep things quiet. I had a set schedule of rounds and a time clock to punch from midnight until sunup. It sounds easy, but nothing good happens at 3 AM.

When I had done my walkaronnd at 2 AM the security light by the garage had come on as soon as I came around the corner of the building. At 3 AM it didn’t come on. All of the other lights worked fine.

Something was up.

The Van Swearingens didn’t like guns and didn’t want me to carry one. A Billy Club and a flashlight don’t provide any security, just victims. I kept my small six shot semi in my pocket. As I moved around the garage I wrapped my hand around it. It used to be in the hand of a German officer.

I stayed in the shadows and inched my way around the perimeter of the garage. Everything looked OK until I took a peek through a corner window. I saw a beam of light bounce off of one of the eight cars inside. Each of those cars was worth more than I made in my three years in uniform. I don’t begrudge the Van Swearingens their money. During the war their factories made some mighty fine tanks. I figured that now I was returning the favor for a lot of guys who were still alive.

That beam of light moved up and down the line of cars. I moved over by the door that was already open a crack. From that spot I could hear whispering from inside. Kids. From the tone and the vocabulary I could tell that there were two kids in there – teenagers it sounded like.

I slipped through the door, felt along the wall, found the switch and turned on all of the overhead lights. They may have been kids, but I still had my pistol ready if need be. I took it out of my pocket. Fighting my way through Germany in early 1945 taught me that even kids can pull triggers.

As soon as the lights came on the kids froze in their tracks. One kid dropped his flashlight. It broke. When they saw the weapon their hands went up. They’d seen enough Bogart movies to know the drill.

“Ok, boys, what’s up? And don’t tell me you’re just here to admire the cars.”

There were two of them. The one who’d dropped his flashlight looked to be about 16 with more acne than he could keep up with. He looked scared. The other kid wasn’t scared. He looked at me like he wished I didn’t have the gun in my hand. He spoke first.

“You can’t touch us. We’re under age. You call the cops and they’ll just give us a ride home. So, we’ll just leave and you can pretend you’re a tough guy.”

I turned to the kid with the face that looked like yesterday’s leftovers.

“You, Junior, what’s up? Who are you and give me a good reason I shouldn’t put a slug in both of you and say the lights were out. What’s your name?”

I thought he was going to wet his pants. “Talk!”

He was shaking as he started to tell me.

“Marty….my name is Marty.” The other one jumped in.

“Shut up, Marty. Don’t tell this flunky nothin’.”

This wasn’t going to be easy. At least they weren’t armed that I could see.

I took the cuffs off of my belt. If I was going to get anywhere I was going to have to separate them. I turned to face the little tough one.

“Come here, Cagney, over here by the Auburn.”

I wanted to handcuff him to the car and then take Marty outside and ask him a few questions.

I was being a little too casual with the snotty kid because the next thing I know he’s got a knife in his hand. I’d been in this situation before – in Italy. I shot that guy in the face. With this kid I gave him the barrel of the gun across his nose. He went down, and just because I could, I hit him again. That one was going to leave a scar.

“Hey, Marty, what’s this jackass’s name?”

“Charlie.”

“Well, he’s an idiot. When he wakes up you tell him that for me. Only an idiot pulls a knife on a guy with a gun in his hand – especially one who’s just done three years in the Army. OK, Marty?”

“OK.” He was still shaking.

“Marty, let’s take a walk. You and I are going to go wake up a man who will not be happy to meet you.”

“Who is that?”

“The man who pays me to keep fools like you from stealing his cars.”

“But we weren’t…” I cut him off with a wave of my hand. I put the pistol back in my pocket.

I was right. Mr. Van Swearingen wasn’t at all happy when he saw me and the kid.

“What’s this all about? For God’s sake it’s the middle of the night. Marty? What are you doing here?”

That’s when I spoke up and told him about the break-in at the garage.”The other kid is handcuffed to one of the cars. He got a little frisky and pulled a knife on me.” I showed him the knife I’d taken away from the little tough.

Van Swearingen listened to me, but he wasn’t getting any happier. He glared at Marty who looked like he was going to cry. He knew it was only going to get worse for him.

“Marty, who is the other boy?”

“It’s Charlie, sir. It’s just Charlie and me, but we were just looking at the cars.”

“In the middle of the night?” That was me.

Van Swearingen walked up to Marty and slapped the kid’s face.

“Marty, you fool. This man was hired by me to guard my estate and everything in it. You’re lucky he didn’t shoot you.” He looked at me. “I assume that you are armed even though I forbade it, right?”

“Yes, sir, I am, but I know what I’m doing with firearms.”

He was looking at Marty again, but still talking to me. “I’m sure you do. Just out of the Army?” I nodded. “Now, let’s go see Charlie.”

Charlie was awake when the three of us came into the garage. He looked at me with hatred in his eyes. I was not impressed.

Van Swearingen looked down at the kid, still cuffed to the car door.

“Hello, Charlie. What kind of lie do you have for me tonight?

I spoke up, feeling more confused as this whole thing was progressing.

Mr. Van Swearingen, you know this kid?”

“Yes, I know him. He’s my son.”

To be Continued

Sure She’s Spooky, But She’s My Mom

WE ARE DOWN IN TEXAS VISITING FAMILY. We were sitting around the table last night swapping stories and sharing memories. My 97 year old Mother-in-law told us about her life during World War Two. Our Cousin from Alaska told us the best way to avoid being killed by bears, and then it became my turn.

My wife, the lovely and memory like a steel trap, Dawn, said, “John, tell them about your spooky mother.” With an introduction like that there was no way to avoid telling everyone about my “Spooky Mom.”

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I Was Only Trying To Help

 

I’D HAVE BETTER CHANCES STANDING IN FRONT OF A FIRING SQUAD. Jumping out of an airplane with a fried egg for a parachute. Having a surgeon who feels it necessary to sacrifice a chicken before operating. Any of those, please, but having to deal with a plumber about a leaking pipe.

Just shoot me now.

The only good part of that scenario was that it wasn’t our house. I was being helpful.

My Sister-in-law who really is, but isn’t my Sister-in-law, but is (long story) was the one with the wayward water.

Down in the basement of her circa 1920 house there was a pipe coming up out of the floor that had water creeping higher and higher…and overflowing. Not a good sign.

She had called a local plumbing cartel and made arrangements for them to come by the house the next day (It was not a geyser, so…)/ the snag in this plan was that she had to be in Chicago the next day.

Enter Krafty – the obvious choice to face the Buttcrack Brigade.

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