Today is such a day off

How opportune that this prompt arrives on my day off. My schedule has left me drained as the final delivery of a major project approached. Long hours over the past two weeks and interrupted sleep patterns have me in a stupor. It is the first real full day without a pressing deadline in more than seven weeks. How shall I spend it?

  1. I had originally planned to sleep late. My wife has other plans. She has to go to work and I get to do the morning medical treatments for my daughter.
  2. There are the list of errands that have lagged recently.
  3. #1 Son says we’re out of cold cuts for his sandwiches again. He goes through several pounds of sliced turkey breast every week. We could shop every two days and still not keep up. The more we buy, the bigger the sandwiches seem to get.
  4. Car maintenance appointments to be made.
  5. Internet shopping. Unfortunately, not the fun kind. Ordering necessary medical items.
  6. Schedule a nap on the couch.
  7. Take a walk if it’s not too cold outside.

But first, I’ll start by participating in today’s prompt. Sip my morning coffee, ramble for a bit, then post and have a full breakfast. Then, sit back and see what others have to say. Perhaps shuffle my list and begin with #6.

What’s your idea of a perfect day off: one during which you can quietly relax, doing nothing, or one with one fun activity lined up after the other? Tell us how you’d spend your time.

Mountains, Valleys – Persevere

Mountaintops are meaningless without the contrasting valleys.

There are times in your life where you must travel the deep, dark valleys for long stretches before emerging at the summit. Or even getting a glimpse of the summit. Or hearing the promise of a refreshing waterfall on the way to the summit.

In those difficult times, we often cry out for immediate relief. An utterance for rescue or deliverance from the dark place. We rarely get whisked out of the trial into a place of safety and joy. If we were to skip the dark walk, the light would be less sweet.

If we transported easily from the depths to the heights, the heights become dull too quickly. “Oh. Another breathtaking panoramic view. Looks like a hundred others. Ho hum.” Without the experience of the journey, the destination is diminished.

Persevere. Wait for the ultimate prize. Work for it. Sacrifice along the way. The reward magnifies in contrast to the pain.

“Good things come to those who wait.” Do you agree? How long is it reasonable to wait for something you really want?

Wait for it. It’s worth it.

“It’s very shiny.” she said, “Sparkly. Like it has a light of its own.”

“It does.” he replied. “Push the switch.”

“Ooooh. It flashes too?” she gushed.

“Yes and it has a short hose and a strong compressor.” he added.

“I’ve always wanted one of these.” she said.

“You’re lying. I know you don’t care now, but I’ll feel better if you have this emergency 5-in-1 item in your car.” he said. “I know it’s something you never would have bought for yourself. You shouldn’t have to wait any longer for it.”

“Good things come to those who wait.” Do you agree? How long is it reasonable to wait for something you really want?

In spite of it all, you’re going to make it.

Ten years have passed. I went to have coffee with my younger self. In preparation, I gathered my thoughts to summarize what I’d face.

My kids were 13, 11, and 8. My wife and I had celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. Amazing how much a family can go through in ten years.

A few job changes for Mom and Dad occurred. No breaks in employment. Thank God for continued grace in this area.

#1 son played soccer a lot. Joined a mid-level team, then a travel team. Dad drove, a lot. Started as a team parent, then a team manager, joined the soccer club board, served as treasurer, and drove, a lot. He made it through high school. Graduated. Got a car. Got a speeding ticket. Got a job. Got on with his life.

Daughter went through physical changes and her health status changed. She went 14 years without a significant respiratory event. After that, we experienced nine hospitalizations followed by extended intravenous antibiotic therapies at home. Visiting home nurse care. Visiting home-bound teachers to support school progress. Conflicts with doctors. Conflicts with insurance. Conflicts with parents. Stress anyone? She graduated high school early. Scored high marks too. We’re thankful for all the miracles in her life.

Youngest made it through grade school, middle school, and high school without too much drama. He kept his head down and stayed in the background. We’re grateful for all his help over the years. He willingly cares for his sister and quietly supports family activities.

Pets, pets, and more pets. Daughter loves the furry critters. We’re not dog or cat people. Wife likes pets contained. Fish, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, more rabbits, more rabbits, (Stop the rabbits!), and now chinchillas. Started with normal pet store varieties, then moved into competitive critters. Discovered rabbit shows and drove. Discovered chinchilla shows and drove a lot more.

Advice for my younger self, keep your vehicles maintained. You’re going to do a lot of driving. Buy cars that get good gas mileage.

Coffee? Switch to decaffeinated. Don’t grow dependent upon the stimulant qualities.

Get more sleep.

Present-day you meets 10-years-ago you for coffee. Share with your younger self the most challenging thing, the most rewarding thing, and the most fun thing they have to look forward to.

New Dad Footprint Sweatshirt

“I am an idiot.” I told the airline customer service representative. “I just came through my connection at Charlotte, North Carolina. I left a personal item in the gate area. Can you have someone check for it?”

“Certainly sir, what’s the item?” she cheerily replied.

“It’s a blue sweatshirt with baby footprints glued to the front left chest area with the words ‘New Dad’ written in fabric paint.” I said.

“You’re in a lot of trouble if that item gets lost, aren’t you?” she smiled. “Sounds like a very special item.”

“It is. My wife traced the footprints of our newborn son from his hospital birth record, transferred them to felt cloth, cut out the pieces and glued them to the chest area right over the heart. She added the words with fabric paint.” I rambled.

The representative spent a few minutes on the phone with someone at the Charlotte hub. She described the item and where I thought I’d left it. Several minutes passed as they walked through the gate area checking for it. I sighed with relief when they reported they had found it.

“How would you like to get it back?” she asked.

“Well, I’m flying out again in three days. How about you get it sent up here and hold it in baggage claim as a lost item. I’ll go through there on my way in and pick it up.” I suggested.

“We can definitely do that for you,” and relayed the instructions down the line.

“Now, if I could just avoid seeing my wife around the house for the next three days.” I thought

What’s the best present you’ve ever received that was handmade by the giver, not store-bought? Tell us what made it so special.

Late for Game Day

The referees chatted at the far side of the pitch. Twelve minutes to go until the start of the game. Team managers walked their roster books and player cards to the officials for verification. All appeared to be in good order this crisp, bright Saturday morning.

One of the parents looked at the player’s bench and asked, “Where’s Tony?”

“Oh no,” another parent answered, “Has anyone called his mom?”

“I don’t speak Spanish,” another one piped in.

“Josue’s dad does. Maybe he should call her.” someone suggested.

Tony’s mom was from Spain and spoke the purest Spanish. Josue’s dad was from Puerto Rico and apparently his accent insulted Maria greatly. But here it was with only minutes until the game began and Tony was nowhere in sight. If he was late, he would not be allowed to play. The officials checked the rosters, player cards, and inspected cleats before the match. Late arrivals were banned from the games for the day.

It was a problem getting Tony to the games. His mom spoke extremely limited English. She relied upon her husband and teenage son to function in public. Her husband was deployed to Iraq at this time. He had missed the entire soccer season and only caught reports and stats from the team web site.

The team web site, run by the manager, tried to answer the three major questions the parents had for each week’s game:

When? Where? Which uniform to wear (home or away)?

He’d posted maps to all the regional fields for this travel team. All in English.
Each week, Maria used Skype to call her husband and they spent part of their time with him translating the instructions for her.

Today was different. They had been unable to Skype on their usual schedule and Tony wasn’t here. The team needed the tenacious defender in the backfield. His footwork plucked the ball from opposing players like magic. When facing skilled opponents, he tirelessly harassed them until he succeeded in stopping their advance.

Josue’s dad was now at the edge of the parking lot on his cell phone. He patiently provided turn-by-turn directions to Tony as his mother drove in a panic. The game start was less than five minutes now. It was a race against time and traffic laws.

Parents huddled and scanned the parking lot and access road for Tony’s car. There! Speeding down the park’s curving lane clearly going way over the limit. The car screeched at the edge of the parking lot and Tony jumped out. He ran to the sidelines and joined his teammates just as the officials crossed the pitch to begin their equipment checks.

Today you can write about anything, in whatever genre or form, but your post must include a speeding car, a phone call, and a crisp, bright morning.

I Tolerate Well

I do not suffer fools gladly. My restraint prevents many imaginary deaths. The daily commute provides an opportunity to bestow unearned forgiveness on several people; at least until my James Bond machine gun headlights retrofit is completed.

Morons! Encountered everywhere. If it wasn’t so random a distribution I’d be concerned about a coordinated plot to put them in my path.

Careful now. Count back the change. The purchase came to 5.33. I gave you 10.00. Pop quiz – without looking at the digital readout, how much should I get back? No. Not 5.77, try again. I’m doing this for your benefit. It’s not helping my blood pressure to watch you struggle.

Oh! You’ve had an epiphany? “We’re the sum total of all our experiences up to this moment in time.”
What self-help book are you reading for affirmation? Do crystals really make you feel better? Try again.

You’re my best friend since childhood. Why else would I put up with you? It’s not for the entertainment value. I don’t remember exactly how we met or why we became friends. Maybe the limited choices living in a rural area had something to do with it.

Of the people who are close to you, who is the person most unlike you? What makes it possible for you to get along?

Too Short Thoughts

Life is too short to ______:

  • Wake up and find the release time of the Daily Post has changed.
  • Answer the door to windows and vinyl siding salespeople.
  • Waste money on new furniture while your kids are young. Wooden crates are fine.
  • Spend it grumbling about things you cannot change


Fill in the blank: “Life is too short to _____.” Now, write a post telling us how you’ve come to that conclusion.

Nobody Told Me My Parents Moved

“Hey, you missed the turn.” I said.

“What? No I didn’t.” my brother replied.

“Yes, you did. That was South Road. The house is up there.” I answered.

“Mom and Dad don’t live there anymore. Grandpa sold the farm and they moved in a hurry.” he stated.

“When?” I asked.

“Months ago. Didn’t anyone tell you?” he responded.

“No. Nobody. No letter, postcard, phone call, nothing. You know I was deployed overseas the past six months. A note about this would have been nice.” I said.

“They probably didn’t want to bother you with it.” he mumbled.

“Great. Just great. Grandpa sells the farm and retires. Mom and Dad move to a new house. I find out on the drive home from the airport for a holiday visit that it’s all changed. I don’t even have their new address. My letters must still be getting forwarded.” I grumbled.

Someone’s left you a voicemail message, but all you can make out are the last words: “I’m sorry. I should’ve told you months ago. Bye.” Who is it from, and what is this about?

iTunes Always Changes

I despise the way Apple continually changes the iTunes software interface. Friends gave me an iPod as a gift. It has been an excellent device. One that I use daily. I have several hundreds of songs loaded. I listen to podcasts, audiobooks, and can even watch movies on the little screen.

At my day job, radio reception is poor. The steel framed building interferes with clear reception for many stations. Consequently, I use my iPod to provide the soundtrack of my day. I’ve got playlists and favorites at my fingertips.

Once a week, I take it home to synchronize content and download fresh podcast episodes. Here’s where the problems begin. It seems like every week or every other week, Apple releases an updated version of iTunes. Why? Who knows? It may be to trap users into spending several hours each week tinkering with their interface. For me, it’s a time sucker I can’t stand.

I had the interface set up the way I liked it. I could attach my iPod, quickly synchronize content, and detach all in a few minutes. Now I can’t. Apple kept prompting me to download and install the newest version of iTunes until I finally relented. Then it happened. My interface exploded into an unrecognizable layout.

Where did the menus go? Where are my settings? What happened to my playlists? How can I build new ones? On and on it went. After spending way too much time in the unhelpful “Help” files, I reached a truce with iTunes. Some semblance of recognizable layout had been restored. A partially familiar interface was attained.

The next morning, I connected my iPod to my car using the USB cable. My car stereo reported an unrecognizable software interface and would not function. Thanks Apple. Now I have to upgrade my car just to stay current with you? No thanks.

A restaurant that removed your favorite item from the menu, a bad cover of a great song… Write a post about something that should’ve been left untouched, but wasn’t. Why was the original better?