Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Back

Sitting here at my surplus store on New Year's Eve, I have ample time to reflect on the last year. A few days ago, I wrote about a sermon that pointed out that we can look at things as either burdens or blessings. With that in mind, here's my thoughts on 2011.

On the surface 2011 appears to be one of the worst years of my life, but let's apply the "burden or blessing" test and see how it turns out.

My mother died in November. Mom was suffering from multiple myeloma and had spent the last three years taking a chemo treatment every week. She also had to have frequent blood transfusions. She suffered a great deal physically and mentally the last couple of years. She's at rest in a far better place now. We are left to treasure our memories of her. Burden or blessing? It's a no-brainer, blessing.

A couple of weeks ago, I became a grandfather. Grand-Gil, for those of you wanting to know what I prefer to be called. This an easy one. Alice is a blessing, but we haven't been asked to babysit yet.

My job at T&S will be ending soon. I can get another job, I can go to school for some of that government paid retraining or I can go to work for myself. At least if I go to work for myself, it will be a good experience when I get replaced by the owner's son. This change in jobs will give me a chance to practice my "ministry" in another location. More on that in another post. Yes, it's a blessing.

This year I discovered that shirts are available in more colors than plaid. If you are a regular reader of this swill, you know the pink shirt story. Thanks to Barbara for making my pink shirts famous at Buffalo Church! I decided today that if I am working for myself, a brightly colored shirt could be my new trademark. It's a pretty safe bet that I will be the only dealer at a gun show wearing a bright pink shirt. I could also get out the yellow, green and aqua shirts. I can hear it now, "The old, bald guy in the electric pink shirt is selling ammo cans."   Blessing for me, burden for my wife?

2011 was the year that the year that I realized that I had more than one friend. Ken, I'm sorry that I had to break it to you like this. HA!! It has taken a little to get used to the idea, but I think that it is working out. I even surprised a friend or two at Christmas with gifts or cards.  Okay,  so friends have been a blessing.

I became a member at Buffalo Presbyterian this year. I volunteered to cook the Wednesday night fellowship dinners this year.  As a cook, it is gratifying to look into the fellowship hall after dinner and see all the empty plates. That is the best compliment of all. I have met lots of nice people and a couple that weren't, but it falls into the blessing category. Wait!! The Wednesday night group includes my friend, The Queen. "I cook dinner for The Queen." That should look good in my autobiography.  Since I donate my labor and  the church only pays for the actual cost of the food, they make enough money to help with some other things. It might be a blessing for Buffalo also.

I was at the doctor a couple of weeks ago and found out that my blood sugar level was up some. It has been a burden reducing my intake of sweets during the holidays. But on the blessing side, I have rediscovered my taste for pork rinds. They are carb-free. I can still have the occasional bear claw or pecan roll from Panera, so lfe is still worth living. Donut World is on the caution list. Bonus blessing, my weight dropped 6 pounds in the last week. Yes, I know that pace won't last long.

The surgeon told me last week that the tumor on my neck is rarely cancerous. Even if it is cancerous, it's still early in the game. Right now, I'm getting laughs by telling people, "Yeah, I'm getting my throat cut on the 12th." I think that it is an entertaining statement, my wife is in strong disagreement. Probably just my sense of humor.

Here's my sports reference for the day. As in the NFL's instant replay system, "Upon further review, 2011 was a good year. The decision on the field that it sucked is overturned."

Christmas Stocking 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Is this the worst.....???

Last night I stopped by Target to see if they had any Christmas cards left. I'm not cheap, just starting early for next year. I was too late, they had all the Christmas stuff gone and the Valentine's Day cards were in place. As I looked down the rack, the world's ugliest Valentine's Day card grabbed my attention. I walked over and looked at it. I bought it because if I didn't buy it,  no one would ever believe my story about this card.

On the outside was written, "Stand by your man". On the inside was "Happy Valentine's Day".

Guys, here's a warning. DO NOT send this card to a woman you love without first making sure that you have a full set of body armor. You might want to double up on the groin plate! She may kick!

I wouldn't send this card to Mary and she dumped me 34 years ago. I wouldn't give this card to Dolly, my wife's dog. I wouldn't send it to any one with whom I wanted to remain friends. I just don't hate any woman badly enough to give her this card on Valentine's Day.

I sent a picture of this card to The Queen and I'll be lucky if she is still speaking to me after she gets the e-mail. Wait! The Queen has answered my e-mail. Her response to the picture of the card?? "Words Fail Me." I guess that pretty much wraps it up from the conservative female viewpoint.

 I'm afraid to bring this card into the house for fear that my wife might find it and think that I was giving it to her.  I may as well move if I give my wife this card.  Do you get the idea?

There might be some gay Democrat that wants this card, but other than that I think that the market is pretty limited. Without any further warnings, here's your card. I'm sorry, but I think that he looks a little like Anthony on Designing Women. Anthony, I'm sorry!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The ghost of Christmas past?

Well, Christmas is officially over. I have taken the antlers and red nose off the minivan. I have put away my talking turkey hat. Talking turkey hat? Yes, it gobbles, plays "Turkey in the straw" and wiggles its drumsticks. It's one of those love it or hate it things. I have also shelved my reindeer hat with the moving antlers that plays "Grandma got run over by a reindeer". I think that my Santa hat is on the way to Montana. I gave that to a deserving six year old girl one morning at the restaurant who appreciated my sense of humor. There aren't many women like that! She gave me a Christmas card drawn on one of our napkins. What a deal!!

I am sending my collection of Christmas ties to the cleaners today. It took a week to for me to wear them all to work and church. Opinions are divided about which tie is the tackiest. I'm not concerned.

The tackiest Christmas card that I gave out went to my fashion consultant. On the outside of the card was a picture of Santa on a roof preparing to lob a Molotov cocktail down the chimney. Inside the card it read, "Good...........Bad, I don't give a (crap?)". I loved that card!!

My older son gave me a "grandfather" clock. I am not feeling good this week, so he will have to wait to get his butt kicked for that one! He did have "Grand-Gil" on my stocking, so I can't be too mad.

My younger son got me one of those Craftsman power hammers. Now, I am a man in search of nails to drive. There are a couple of employees and a box of 10 penny nails that I would like to try that hammer out on.

I received a few gift cards fom Lowes. Gift cards are handy. They eliminate that awkward moment when I open some tool gift and realize that I already have at least one of those. That's okay, a guy who owns as many tools as I do isn't afraid of having more than one of something.

I used one of those cards before Christmas. I bought a bunch of smaller items. My favorite is the camouflage tape measure. Every real man needs one of those. You know that I will never be able to find that thing!  In January I took a camo cap off at my surplus store and still haven't found it. I guess that I sold it one day.

I received the usual assortment of screwdrivers and flashlights. You can't have too many screwdrivers and I have hundreds. Yes, hundreds. There are a bunch of different sizes and styles. I have screwdrivers that light, screwdrivers that flex, insulated screwdrivers and a few screwdrivers big enough to use as weapons. I don't have as many flashlights as screwdrivers, but it's close. A few years ago William gave me a work light for Christmas. It is huge! The label on the box said "We have harnessed the sun". It is 15 million candlepower. It's a little brighter than the light on a locomotive.

At the restaurant, customers and employees bring food in for Christmas. Susan E. bakes chocolate chip cookies. These cookies are huge, they are as big as scones. But they are good!  It takes me about a quart of milk to eat two of those things. Thanks, Susan. Among others who had some Christmas mission of fattening me up were Talmage, Susan A. (Yes, I live in a life filled with Susans), Cindy, Jeff, Shaun and his wife (Name?), Peggy and Bobby. Peggy is a customer who makes the BEST lemon bars! Just in case I didn't have enough treats before Christmas, The Queen brought a couple of pieces of cake by yesterday. Thank you!!

At home I make a maple pumpkin cheesecake for Christmas. For Thanksgiving, I had made two. One went to Walter and Brittany, the other stayed home. One was plenty for Christmas. I finished off the last sliver the morning after Christmas. Cheesecake for breakfast? Do you think that I got to be this size on bran flakes??

I bought our new granddaughter Alice a pink sled for Christmas. Yes, I realize that she's only two weeks old. Why wait until the last minute??

I have been told that Epiphany marks the end of the Christmas season. If I am waiting for Three Wise Men to come through the door at work, it's never going to end.

The ghost of Christmas past? For Christmas in 1976, my girlfriend at the time gave me clothes. Three pairs of pants. They were red, yellow and green. There were also matching shirts.Was I surprised? I would have had to been hooked up to jumper cables to be any more shocked.  I realize that it was stylish at the time and it was in Florida, but it was still horrible. I had to wear a pair of yellow pants to dinner at a friend's home that Christmas night. I think that I'm still traumatized. Maybe that explains the plaid thing!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Morning After

Today is the day after Christmas. This is the first time in twenty years that I have not been at work to open the restaurant on the day after Christmas. I am going in this evening to work the evening shift. Up early with nothing to do, I went to Lowe's to see what was on sale. Unable to leave the store empty-handed, I bought a new Shop-Vac. Then I went by Bojangles for a biscuit. So this is what normal people do??

I came back home and decided that I should write a blog post for the first time in more than two weeks. I moved from my spot on the couch to the dining room table in the hope of inspiration in my writing. I don't think that it is working.

I went to church on Christmas Eve.We had a good crowd there and the service was good. The sermon dealt with how we react to situations and handle events and issues in our lives. When something happens in our lives, we can view that in one of two ways. They are "Burden or Blessing?" The thought struck a nerve in my mind and has caused me to have a great deal of thought about it since then.

On the ride home from church Christmas Eve, I found myself missing my mother very much. She's gone now, but left us to go forward in our lives. "Burden or blessing?" It's a gimme, "blessing".

On  Christmas Day, I cooked our Christmas dinner and then washed the dishes and cleaned up afterwards. Burden or blessing?? I'm still thinking about that one!!

It is almost a certainty that I will leave my job at Tex & Shirley's in the next few weeks. Burden or blessing?? While I would love to stay there with my friends in an environment where I am comfortable, I know that I must go. The environment and my job there are both changing and I don't want to stay for that. I would rather go somewhere else and do something else than stay under those conditions. I am sure that there are some friends there that I will lose contact with upon leaving, but there are many with which that will not be the case. Is losing my job a burden or blessing?? I'm going to go with "Blessing". This will force me to go do something different. I received an e-mail from a friend several weeks ago with this note at the end; Talked with Elizabeth this afternoon, she said: “Sometimes God forces us to do something we would never have thought of – that is the best thing for us.” That’s our prayer. I have realized that this advice is accurate and I am going in that way.

We will be meeting at Tex & Shirley's sometime in the next couple of weeks to determine my future there. I think that God has taken care of that decision for me. Burden or blessing?? I'm sticking with blessing.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Do you believe?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Alice 2

While waiting for time to write a blog post, here's the latest picture of our granddaughter Alice. Yep, doesn't look anything like me. Way too much hair!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Baby Alice

Our first grandchild arrived at 8:25 Saturday evening. Alice, 20" long, 6 pounds 4 ounces.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Monday Minutiae

Kurt Busch was fired today by Roger Penske. Between Kurt and his brother Kyle, there's a gene pool in need of some chlorine! I can't hold a candle to Kurt's profane vocabulary and I once had someone threaten to wash my computer out with soap. I guess that Penske didn't want to bother with washing out Kurt's mouth.

There are a lot of people complaining about Bronco quarterback Tim Tebow praying and talking about God too much. After Sunday's win over Minnesota, the Broncos should pull a chapel onto the field before the game starts and let him pray his socks off.

Friday evening, I saw a busboy clocking in at the time clock. I saw that it was 6:12, so I asked him, "What time are you scheduled?"  He answered "Today." My son fell to the floor laughing. If the busboy's parents want to sue the college to get back the tuition that they have paid, I'm ready to testify in their behalf.

I watched the Huckabee GOP Presidential Forum on Saturday. It may be time to redefine dull. From the sad, but true department, they re-ran that show again on Sunday. It may have been worse the second time and I only watched about three minutes of it. Please, no more!!

The Post Office claims that new budget cuts will reduce mail service. What happened that reduced service in previous years? Some friends mailed me a birthday card in September. It took seven days to go six miles across town.  How much worse can service get??

In cultural news, the Buffalo Presbyterian Christmas Concert is December 11. Before you panic, I am only involved with the refreshments after the show. Mercifully, I have not been asked to sing.

Only 19 shopping days until Christmas. Remind me when we're down to two or three days. I'll start then. How long can it take to pick out a ..............????????????

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Cain Wasn't Able

Catchy title, right?? But before someone points it out to me, the Biblical pair was Cain and Abel.

Yes, Herman Cain wasn't able to go the distance in the Presidential campaign. With his wife standing beside him, Herman "suspended" his campaign today. We didn't need Daniel to read the handwriting on the wall to see that one coming.

The latest woman to surface with a claim about a long term affair with Herman was the final nail in his campaign coffin. I was impressed by her frankness in discussing their relationship. She said that it wasn't a love affair, it was a sexual relationship. But wait!! If he was providing her with financial support and she was providing him with sex, doesn't that just make her a hooker?? Of course, that also makes Herman her john, client, or whatever word you prefer. Go figure!!

Herman's real problem was that he was a black guy running as a Republican. The media guys and their idols, The Democrats, could not handle a black, conservative Republican. So they set about to destroy him. They should have applied the same rules to Herman's private life that they did to the lives of Clinton, Edwards and Kennedy. It's amazing that they could dig up stuff about Cain from the 1990's, but never noticed that John Edwards was sleeping with a nutcase while his wife was dying of cancer and he was running for President. There is a class act. Herman will have to go a long way to top that. Cain won't make it to the Oval Office, so unlike Clinton there will be no Monica Lewinsky under the desk in his future. Do I even need to discuss the Kennedys?? Even the slow among you must be familiar with their antics.

In retrospect, I wish that Herman had been truthful from the start. Wouldn't that have been refreshing?? Are politicians even capable of honesty or do they just tell us what they think that we want to hear? People everywhere made fun of former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford when his affair made the news. I even made a couple of jokes about him. At least, Sanford was honest. He told us that he was in love with the woman in Argentina. Not since the Duke of Windsor has a public official been that honest about a relationship with a woman. I would rather see a man give up everything for the love of a woman, than have him lie to me just to get elected. Cain wasn't able.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Memorial Service Blues??

Last Saturday, my family gathered at Philadelphia United Methodist Church for my mother's memorial service.

My mother had written the plans for her memorial service several years ago. There were two hymns in the service. They were "O For a Thousand Tongues" and "Jesus Loves Me". Sounds pretty simple, right? Wrong!

With the service on Thanksgiving weekend, the regular church organist was unavailable. So a friend of one of my aunts was enlisted to play the organ. I am sure that I am committing some sort of huge social error by complaining about funeral music, but it was horrible. We would have been better off  if we had just gone to Wal-Mart and bought a karaoke machine.

It opened badly. On the first hymn, "O For a Thousand Tongues", the organist was playing an alternate tune that none of us knew or could follow. In addition, he was one of those who tried to lead everyone in singing. When he started the hymn with his singing, he sounded so bad that my wife looked at me and gave me that "What are you doing?" look.  I quickly pointed out that it was the organist and not me singing. Here's a pointer, pal. Either sing or play the organ, you can't do both. Wait! I'm not sure that you can do either.

A few minutes later came the second hymn, "Jesus Loves Me". I thought that this one would surely go well. I was wrong again. At age 58, I have heard that song played thousands of times and I was sure that anyone could play that song. Wrong again!! This was my first experience with someone trying to turn a child's song into some kind of Negro spiritual. I have NEVER heard the tune he was playing associated with "Jesus Loves Me". There were three verses for "Jesus Loves Me" in the Methodist Hymnal being used Saturday. After we staggered through the first verse with his "spiritual" rendition, he started playing what should have been the second verse. I don't know what music he was reading, but the words that he was singing didn't match anything that we had. After one line, we just kind of stopped and let him solo the rest of the way. Mercifully, he had no third verse to sing.

I'm sure that my mother was watching and laughing. Sorry, Mom. You should have written in the karaoke machine thing.