Tag Archives: family

Hush Up That Snoring Then Get Over Here and Eat

Well, here it is again. That day of days that comes, but once a year. Not just once a year, but once a year in the same month (November) and on the same day (the fourth Thursday). What you ask could be this day? Why naught, but Thanksgiving, where we gorge ourselves on fowl, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, breads, all manner of vegetables, candied yams, cakes, pies, and many more delicacies too numerous to recall. And what do we do after finishing this great feast?

We take a nap, not because of the tryptophan in the turkey as the tale goes, but because of the huge amounts of food we throw down our neck.

Leaving a puddle of drool to mark our bedding down area, we arise to feed again. It’s much like the instructions on our shampoo bottles, wash, rinse, repeat. And just like our shampoo, we may repeat these instructions as many times as we like each day. These meals usually take the form of turkey sandwiches and whatever is left from our lunchtime ritual. Then one day the bird and all the fixins have been consumed not to be eaten again for another year.

Personally, I think we should take a hint from the fare served at the first Thanksgiving. From what I understand, turkey was a no show, but that opens the door for what did make an appearance at this extravaganza which was lobster, oysters and clams. Kinda makes you wonder what happened in the translation of recipes from then til now.

What outshines the food no matter which century you’re in, is spending time with family and thanking our heavenly father for the bounty he bestows on us each day.

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The Great Thing About Grandchildren Is More Grandchildren

One thing that rings true in life is how important family can be. Even when I write, whether on purpose or by happenstance, family will enter into the story. I am blessed to have a six-year-old grandson, a two-year-old grandson, a one-year-old grandson and a granddaughter that’s still in the oven. On top of that, we adopted a family of five, a husband, wife and their three children. This gave us a twelve-year-old grandson, an eight-year-old granddaughter and a nine-year-old granddaughter.

These six children are six different blessings in their own right.

The six-year-old is a savant. He was teaching himself the Russian and Mandarin alphabet at the age of three, knows all the states and capitals, the periodic table of elements and all the countries of the world by their flags. He also loves to break dance.

Our two-year-old grandson envisions himself to be the amazing Spiderman and can do a mean impression of the incredible Hulk that is adorable. He loves his dogs like brothers, has become addicted to Hotwheels, and loves the water.

The youngest just turned one, which means his warranty just expired. He loves to smile, laugh, and carry on all manner of nonsense. He’s just beginning to walk and will reduce a normal adult into a blithering idiot trying to make him react to their antics.

Our twelve-year-old is two IQ points from being a genius. He calls me PaPa as do all the other children. He is definitely a carnivore. Knowing this, one of his Christmas gifts I gave him was pre-cooked bacon. It was one of his favorites. He has a microwave in his room and can nosh on pork belly to his heart’s desire.

The nine-year-old grand-daughter is the aspiring artist one minute and the daring adventurist the next.  If she’s not out climbing the nearest tree or trying out a skate board, she’s drawing a masterpiece, trying out a new instrument which she learns by sound, or using her sweet voice to join her beautiful Mom in a song.  She’s talented beyond belief.

There’s the amazing, adorable, eight-year-old who sees the world as one big rainbow full of love and sunshine.  She loves everyone and everything and laughs at the slightest reason. Everyone who meets her loves her and is inspired by her love of life.  She has multiple medical struggles but nothing stops her and she is a blessing to all who know her.

Then, there’s the one yet to be discovered whom I already love as well.  She’s negative 3 months, due in October and already giving Mom a hard time.  Ultrasound has her looking like her big brother and kicking up a storm.  Can’t wait to meet her.

Grandchildren, just another one of Gods great blessings!

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What’s two Inches Long, has More Legs Than a Porcupine has Quills, Bringing Such Fear in to the Heart of a Brave Man That he Utters the Word “Ick”

House Centipede, Scutigera coleoptrata

House Centipede, Scutigera coleoptrata

I feel as though I should acknowledge summer since it is soon to be a thing of the past. This post tends to leave writing on the back burner, which is something you probably shouldn’t do in a blog about writing. I’ll just have to invoke poetic license, but just this once.

I realize that most people don’t care for insects; however, my wife has developed an unnatural aversion to a unique bug that likes to frequently prowl across our ceilings. These little rapscallions range in size from a 1/4 inch to 2 or more inches when full grown. They are somewhat flat, tan colored and boast multiple legs circumnavigating their entire body, although there may be a few antennae protruding from the front which happens to look identical to the back. These little boogers can scoot across a sheet-rock wall before you can say, “Seattle Slew.”

When I say my wife has a developed an aversion to these scampering wall clingers, I don’t mean she runs out of the room or hides under the bed covers. This sweet female I’m spending my life with and enjoying the experience immensely will clear our king size bed in a single bound, armed with a flyswatter, shoe or a hand covered in skin just to get at one of these beasts.

Normally, she hits this creature with such force, it disintegrates. Occasionally, she‘ll catch enough of this multi-legged bug and knock it to the floor. Then watch out, cause its Katy-bar-the-door. She’ll chase it  along the wall, stomping if it dare raise its head around the edge of the carpet. Eventually, I’ll hear a satisfied, “Gotcha!”

She’ll appear from behind some piece of furniture, donning her weapon of choice and the dead carcass of what we now know to be a house centipede,  who met his fate meddling with my wife. Bugs in general, including arachnids and our slithery scaly friends, don’t much bother me and in my family I am the exception to the creepy crawling rule.

My son, stepson and son-in-law all cringe at the thought of anything with more than four legs or no legs at all. At least, they keep it in the family; their wives work bug detail.

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The Next Time You Look Into The Nighttime Sky Think of Slugs and How They Would Feel If Exposed to Off-the-Wall Irrelevant Nonsense

The story I’m about to tell on this blog post may seem a trifle difficult to comprehend, but I assure you it may or may not have happened. slug_-_cartoonYou see, this incident befell someone very close to me. In fact, this person was of my loins by marriage.

One day, (I won’t release her name but her initials are Sarah Russell Johnson) this so called Sarah developed a ghastly cold. Being the mother that she is, Sarah did not let this interfere with the daily job of caring for Baby J. (From here on known as Lil’ Ed)

Her husband, Big J, (aka Greggy Boy) began to notice clear blobs of a jelly like substance strewn willy nilly about the house. This posed quite a conundrum, for no one in the house consumed peanut butter and clear jelly sandwiches.

Little known to Greggy Boy and Lil’ Ed these blobs of unknown origin would soon turn to trails of an origin that would best… stop the presses! I have gotten ahead of myself. Please indulge my reverting to a point earlier in the story so as not to confuse.

The one called Sarah was in for more than she had bargained. It seems this cold had been brought on by a bacteriological virus not of this world posing as an invisible chunk of air floating about the house.

The next sign that something was really wrong surfaced as a severe case of conjunctivitis. Her eye would swell to the size of a small basketball oozing with a thick purulent fluid that must be drained every fifteen minutes.

All was fine, considering, until two soft antennae with round knobs on each end began to protrude from the top of her head. The so called conjunctivitis had moved to the other eye and this fine young mother began to slump and display a thick semi-translucent tail that provided the trail we discussed earlier in the story.

The next morning the adoring mother, now turned adoring slug, set about her usual duties feeding Lil’ Ed, smooching her husband so long as he merrily traversed his way to work.

As we know slugs are extremely slow, but once Lil ’Ed discovered the salt shaker and what it would do to even the smallest of snail-like creatures, his adoring mother found the speed of a jet powered cheetah on crack. This kept the pair moving at supersonic speeds for the better part of the day.

As this dreary scene played out, the adoring mother/Sarah Russell Johnson, also known as Slug Mamma, was resigned to sleeping on the back deck covered in a tarp. She would travel along a carefully laid trail of polyethylene strategically placed throughout the house.

All salt and salt laden products were removed from the house. Being the industrious little fellow that he is, Lil’ Ed snuck from his room one night and obtained a rather large salt lick. He dissolved a portion into his Slug Mamma’s water bowl. Fortunately, through a miscalculation in the amount of salt placed in her water, Slug Mamma developed just a few dry patches on the top of her head along with a ten-fold increase in secretions completing her transition to Puss Mama.

Becoming fed up with the entire situation, Greggy Boy threw Puss Mamma and Lil’ Ed in his truck (Puss Mamma in the bed of course) and headed off to the slime doctor. (The only one in Richmond is located in the basement of the Short Pump Wal-Mart).

After a quick consultation, the doctor removed a salt lick from his vast stash of lickable salt, crushed half a block, and mixed it with warm water. After the solution was fully dissolved, he dumped it over Puss Mamma.

It dispersed enough of the slime to expose the zipper on the slug suit that had been placed on Puss Mamma by a group of mischievous alien teenagers.

Now that things are back to normal in the Johnson household all eyes can’t help but glance upward wondering what could come next.

All the while Lil’ Ed sits on the side of his bed swinging his feet and one finger placed vertically across his lips. Occasionally, he’ll reach up and smack at the small protrusion trying to work its way out of his head.

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Are We There Yet?

Vacations! Aren’t they something? Once each year, you load your vehicle full of personal artifacts, drive hundreds of miles to a house that you have rented for the week, unpack your vehicle in which you have brought all of family vacationyour treasures from home, and fill your home away from home. Now that you have your home away from home just like your home, you can relax because you feel like you’re at home.

This year we had a house full (twelve in all); four generations together for an entire week. I know, it sounds like a lot, but I do believe it was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had.

  • My dear mother (whom I was happy just watching enjoy her first vacation in years) was in attendance, along with my mother and father-in law. (Please allow me, for clarification purposes that amidst all the in-laws jokes that circle nowadays, I have been blessed with a pair that I consider my second set of parents.)
  • Next my sister and her husband (she oozes sweetness while my brother-in-law sweats hilarity).
  • From the loins of a proud father, my son in all his glory stretched across the couch doodling with his smart phone and his wife of two years, reading or better yet, playing with the little person.
  • My daughter, having pushed through difficult times and emerged victorious along with my son-in-law (he doesn’t have much hair, but he’s all right just the same.)
  •  My wonderful wife, who is just as lovely on the inside as she is on the outside.
  • And introducing, the one and only L’il Ed!! (His real name is Elijah and most everyone calls him Eli, but PaPa (that’s me). I call him L’il Ed. It’s a long story and one that bears telling; just not today. That’s fodder for another post.)

L’il Ed belongs to my daughter and her husband (You know the one without much hair, but even though he is follicley challenged, he really is a great guy.)

L’il Ed is two years old. Some folks would say that he’s twenty-six months. Since this is my blog, said blog is subject to my laws.

First law: no child over the age of twelve months may have present age stated in any other form than in one year increments. However, if applied for six months prior to next birthday and approved, parent may add (up until the age of four years) the suffix “and a half” to the child’s present age; i.e., 1 ½, 2 ½ etc.

I mean come on. Don’t you get tired of saying (for example) I’m 437 ½ months old when they ask your age? It’s either that or “none of your business.”

As for the rest of the vacation L’il Ed and PaPa swam in the pool; hit the waves and frolicked with the dolphins; caught several hundred fish and 30 pounds of crab in the surf; and built a sand castle 2 ½ miles long.

Second law: see law number one. Numbers are applicable when determining the proper distance for sandcastles.

Yep, me and my namesake had a great time. Have the same place reserved for 2015. The little fella doesn’t know it yet, but next year I’m gonna teach him wrangling and riding waterspouts 101…… Yee Haw!!


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Good, Bad; Just Words? I Think Not.

When writing my blog, I normally try to take a piece from within the book I’m currently working on. I then fumble with that racingpiece until it fits nicely into our 21st-century world. Finally, I attempt to twist said piece into a humorous story that will bring a smile or maybe even a chuckle to my readers.

Lord knows we need it. I hold nothing but contempt for the “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality we’ve allowed to rule our press for quite some time now. What would be so wrong with a little good news amongst the overabundance of bad? You don’t live your life that way; at least I hope you don’t.

Consider your last family reunion or get-together. You may have spoken with other family members of someone who passed or a particular unpleasant incident, but for the most part you sat and laughed and recounted silly stories of your past.

It’s like something very important that my mother told me when I was but a lad during one of our many beach vacations. I, my sister, and the matriarch of the family were all bouncing in the waves. A light shower passed overhead and my mother in all her wisdom uttered these words, “Let’s go in before we get wet.”

One thing you didn’t do is mess with one of mama’s children. Here is a story to illustrate that point.

It was the day of the big race. I was around four years old and fast as greased lawnmower clippings. My sister was seven and a two-to-one favored. It was a quick sprint from the magnolia tree to the back of our ‘59 Chevy.

My uncle was the official starter and would also determine the finishing order.


I jumped to a quick lead but my sister overtook the scorching pace I had set. As she passed, I knew the race was lost, but I could see the arms of my loving uncle ready to embrace his nephew, consoling him in the midst of the worst loss in his young life.

Just a few more steps; Wayney, Wayney, his open arms imploring me come, come, and be comforted. I spread my arms to embrace my hero. Only one more step and my Wayney sidesteps my loving advance causing my poor wittle head to smash into the back of that ‘59 Chevy.

“Uh oh,” Wayney utters. “It appears as though my rear end is soon to be lawn clippings, for the screaming little banshee that just went inside to awaken “Big Momma” and we know ‘Big Momma’ don’t take no prisoners.” While events at the time were anything but comical (i.e., stitches in my head and a great fear for my uncle’s life) it is something we are able to laugh about today.

Humorous situations can be found locally, nationally, and globally. Of course, if you live in Texas and hear of a lighthearted event in Madagascar that would be an example of a global event for you. This same happening would be local if you lived in Madagascar. Now, if you resided in Africa, you could call this a national event. What it all boils down to is: Every incident is located close to some folks, further away from others, and far enough away from most folks that it’s getting close again.

Since I prefer the local, I’ll regale you with another childhood tale and one for the life of me I have never been able to understand. As I said, when I was a youngster, in the house in which I was raised and in my grandmother’s house (just to name two among the many at that time) there was a room that no one dared enter, the carpet and furnishings pristine. It was called, “the living room.”

It existed for one purpose and one purpose only and that purpose being to entertain visiting dignitaries. From the way the matriarchs maintained the “the living rooms,” I figured they were expecting the president, the Pope, and the like.

What this means to us: as much bad news as we have crammed down our throat, we need to look for the good, embrace what we find, and remember, there’s always something to laugh at. If you don’t believe me, look in the mirror. It always works for me.

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Hmm…Good Friends, They’re All Edible

I have a reoccurring character that just happens to be an animal. alligatorNot the type of animal you would normally think of, if you were thinking of animals. This particular critter is roughly the size of a wolverine. It has two unusual characteristics.

Number one: Its yellow eyes curve from the front around to the side of its head.

Number two: It talks.

Animals bring about a wealth of emotions. These emotions are different for each individual, just as finger prints.

Allow me to tell you of some of my early experiences with our four-footed friends.

I’ve always had a special place in my being for animals of the reptilian variety. My first exposure to these scaly creatures came in the form of an alligator named Wilbur. In actually Wilbur was probably a caiman, but when it comes to a twelve-inch long mouth with needles for teeth, does it really matter?

When my buddy Wilbur joined the household, he wasn’t exactly the warmest of pets a seven-year old could possess, but then again in my circle of friends I had reached a pentacle that could not be topped.

Wilbur’s living arrangements consisted of a white plastic tub covered in rat wire to prevent escape. Wilbur would float in his custom accommodations happily munching on raw hamburger.

When the lacerations on our hands had healed sufficiently, we could pull Wilbur out of his cage and the bloodletting play time would begin.

One day we walked into the bathroom and Wilbur didn’t look quite right. Instead of his jovial self, he was acting as though he had ingested LSD.

Shortly after the drug like episode, Wilbur left our family for good. I found out later that the constant turning on and off of the light, fried poor little Wilbur‘s pea size brain. He never had a chance. With a hole in my heart and numerous holes in my fingers I set about planning his funeral.

I made a cross, a piece of wood with his name carved into it and a shoe box wrapped in a plastic parachute. I dug a hole in preparation to accept the body of my lost friend. I erected a cross and head stone. With a tear in my eye I personally selected the mourners (my sister) for the ceremony.

The funeral procession consisted of myself and one reluctant mourner. We marched to the grave site, where I solemnly placed the shoe box. Covering the hole with dirt I began my eulogy.

“Wilbur was a good alligator.” It was then I sensed (due to barely audible giggles) one of the people in attendance were not as sad as I thought they should be.

In order to help put her in the mood, my fist found the large target, that was her back, and then, we all properly grieved for our deceased pet.

I don’t want you to think that I was a demon child growing up. I had my share of dogs and the like (what most people would deem normal pets) up until just a few years ago when our last dog died.

I have my wife and kids for companionship and don’t want to fuss with anything that can’t feed or water itself.

I still consider myself an animal lover, but of the type that slide on to grills, into ovens and swim in gravy.

I think of my good friend, Wilbur the alligator, from time to time. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on who’s tooth is doing the biting)  I have acquired a taste for blackened alligator tail.

Hmm, I wonder why that is?

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A Normal Week at the Beach

Disclaimer:  Due to content I am unable to include any reference to writing.

Last summer we vacationed for a week along the coast of North Carolina. tornado at beachAmong the list of attendees included myself and lovely wife, my father-in-law and lovely mother-in-law, my son and his new bride, my stepdaughter and son-in-law, and one VIP, my grandson, “Lil’ Ed,” hereby known as the mostest cutest little boy in the entire universe.

This would be a very special vacation:

1.) The first time my in-laws came with us.

2.) The first time the mostest cutest little boy in the entire universe saw the ocean and played in the waves.

3.) The first time my son and his wife (having been boyfriend/girlfriend on every other vacation trip) could bed down together.

Now, as usual on these trips I do my security check before allowing anyone to enter the home. After that I dole out the weekly assignments, I take care of cooking, all cleaning, including but not limited to: dishes, clothes, clogged toilets, loose deck boards, shingles, siding, window replacement and general beach erosion containment.

From time to time I fill in as lifeguard making sure the beaches are safe, assisting in rescues, and demonstrating lifesaving techniques. I , also, use the lull to play with the mostest cutest little boy in the entire universe.

On this particular day (I believe it was midweek one sultry afternoon) I had been a bit apprehensive due to the weather, but dared not let on, not wanting to alarm anyone. Around 3 p.m., everyone but myself was sound asleep after an arduous day of frolicking in the surf.

Feeling a sudden drop in the barometric pressure, I quickly stepped onto the back deck. My senses were tingling, every muscle in my body rigid, ready to jump into action. I watched as my dread became reality.

What had begun as a small cone soon twisted its way down to the ocean as a water spout. I could tell it was beginning to strengthen as it moved on shore, becoming a solid F4 possibly F5 tornado. I sprang into action.

I began waking my family members. Those that wouldn’t awaken immediately, I carried to the safest part of the house even the mostest cutest little boy in the entire universe …the bathroom. After I had everyone comfortably positioned in the bathtub, I began to remove mattresses from each bedroom and packed them around my anxious clan. I assured them that everything would be alright and even took time to sing several soothing tunes to calm their fears.

I found a large tree limb that the twister had pushed into the house and stood in front of the bathroom batting any debris away from the room occupied by the most important people in my life.
After the deluge, the only thing that remained was the single bathroom that contained my loved ones safe and sound with not even a scratch, even the mostest cutest little boy in the entire universe.

I often think of that day and the horror it could have wrought. I honestly say this with all the humility I can muster:  Boy, it sure is a good thing I was there, for I shudder to think the outcome had I not been.

Now, I’ve talked enough about me, why don’t you talk about me?

And then we’ll talk about the mostest cutest little boy in the entire universe!

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Are We There Yet?

Κεφάλια, Mugil cephalus, Flathead grey mullet

grey mullet (Photo credit: dimsis)

I just returned from the second great American pastime, “vacation.” Ah, a week at the beach, what could be more relaxing? I had a chance to do some writing. I also came up with an idea for my next book.

Seven full days of good food, wonderful family, including my mother and father-in-law, a son and daughter complete with spouses, my magnificent wife and our fifteen-month-old little slice of heaven. The family’s first grandson, none other than the, “I’ve got everyone wrapped around my little finger,” the one and only, Lil’ Ed.

The weather was absolutely perfect. The water an emerald green, and prime for swimming. My son even caught a nice sea mullet. What could be better than a week of sand, surf and, well, just great stuff?

Let’s backpedal a few steps and see exactly what it takes to create a magical week such as this.

We book our accommodations a year in advance, in order to procure our desired property. Two days before departure we (and by we, I mean my wife) begin to pack. Now it will be easier and consume less paper to tell you what we don’t pack as opposed to what we do. With that being said, the list goes as follows: refrigerator, oven, toilets and various sinks.

After the necessary items are gathered they must be loaded……………………………………………………………… Now that the vehicle is loaded and everyone is hot, sweaty and worn out; we board the personnel carrier and settle in for a short five and a half hour drive.

We’re there! All we have to do is unload, but this time we get to climb stairs…………………………………….

The house that we have rented for a week is finally full of our stuff. In a few short hours our stuff will be spread about so that it is just like home.

It’s almost time for our vacation to begin only one more thing to go, food. A quick three-hour jaunt to the grocery store, and now we can play, eat and everything… Only right now we’re too exhausted… maybe tomorrow.

A good night’s sleep and we’re ready for anything. This goes on for six straight days and once again it’s time to round up our stuff. The morning of our departure we pack our vehicle, only this time we are assisted by gravity due to the fact that stairs also work going down.

We’re finally loaded and ready to head home. Five and a half short hours later we pull into our driveway. Once again we unload our vehicle. And by four o’clock in the morning all of our stuff is right back where it was a week earlier.

Even though I had a great time and enjoyed spending time with family, I’m forced to ask myself this question: why do I unload my house, pack it in my van, take it on the road to another house, pack it into that house for a week, pack it back into the van, take it on the road one more time, only to end up where I started and all my stuff back where it started?

I’m entirely too tired to even consider an answer. And knowing that I will do it all over again next year, I choose to defer and go to sleep.

Good night!

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What Could Smell Better than a Freshly Bathed Baby?


infant (Photo credit: soupboy)

I was recently blessed with my first grandchild. He is now eight months old, bright, jovial and a pure joy to have around. His smile could bring a strong man to his knees. However, amid all the niceties, a conundrum rears its ugly head.I have always assumed, and rightly so, that when the statement “slept like a baby” is used, it means that one enjoyed a good night’s rest. I think the person that coined this phrase suffered from severe narcolepsy and was never awake to see the reality of his statement.

In truth, if someone asks you how you slept, and you respond “Like a baby!” it means you were up every two hours for at least thirty minutes at a time. You probably didn’t get in bed until after 11 p.m. and you were up in the morning by 5 a.m.

I’ll give you parents with newborns a moment to ponder the statement before I proceed.

Since we’re on the subject of babies, let’s explore another popular statement: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” The most accepted explanation behind this saying goes that long before immersive baths were considered an important daily routine, one family shared a single basin full of hot water, starting with the father. By the time the baby’s turn came around, the water was so polluted with grime there was a fear of losing the infant in the filthy bath.

In actuality, this phrase is German in origin and is purely metaphorical. It is used to caution one against undoing or destroying the entirety of something due to a single imperfection.

I have saved the most difficult for last. “Smooth as a baby’s bottom” and “easy as taking candy from a baby.” As we delve deeper into these most challenging sayings, we find that “smooth as a baby’s bottom” is used because a baby’s bottom is smooth. Likewise, “easy as taking candy from a baby” is used because taking candy from a baby is easy.

As we wind down our journey through these time-honored sayings, for once I don’t plan to tie them back to my writing. I will, however, wonder how so many different authorities with different ideas all writing books about raising children can be right. The more I think about this, the more my headache grows.

I think I’ll just go snuggle my grandson some more.

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