September 11th 2015

“Everybody’s shot! … let’s go!”

The quote is from the movie Black Hawk Down. After receiving an order, a young private looks at his Colonel in disbelief and says, “But I’m shot.” The Colonel returns that now famous line.

I remember a writer, in the Philadelphia Inquirer I think, using that line as a metaphor for September 11th. I won’t be able to do it justice here. So I’ll just steal his idea and pile my own words around it.

We remember this day for a lot of reasons. Face Book lights up with various pictures. Several channels replay the events, some like MSNBC play it real time. President Bush’s then press secretary Ari Fleischer tweets the events in real time. He starts with the closing hours of his day on September 10th and then picks up when he woke up on September 11th 2001. It’s compelling. Find his twitter feed here: @AriFleischer

September 11th 2001 might be the singular most horrible day in the history of all of us who lived through it. So why do we relight the flame as it were? Why do we drudge up the memories of such a frightful event? Why are people, like me, hooked on watching all the news coverage over and over again on this day, now 14 years removed from the actual event?

Well, I’m not sure exactly but I think it’s because we all were shot on that day of days.

Me, I was hold up at the Noncomissioned Officers Academy in Knoxville Tennessee, as were a bunch of my friends, watching and not believing. Honestly we didn’t know it then, but we were not in harms way. Safely huddled around a TV, watching and not believing. We didn’t know it then, but we were all shot on that day. It’s important to accept that, to realize that. This wasn’t confined to New York, the Pentagon, or Shanksville. We were all shot on that day. So we remember.

The second part of the Colonel’s response is just as important. Let’s Go! I know you’re shot. I’m shot, she’s shot, everybody’s shot! Let’s go, keep going. Let’s get on with getting on.

And we have gotten on with it, on with recovery, on with life again. Obviously there are some amazing stories of triumph on and since that day. So, we remember. We remember as low as we sank, as high as we climbed, and that life did get on with it. And so did we.

 

Knowing that makes it safe to remember.

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What do you remember most from that day of days?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sundays with Ricky.

Good Morning Captain!

That greeting was waiting for me every Sunday at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Knoxville. It was delivered with an elevating pitch, usually capped off with a salute and a hearty laugh. The homeless guys hanging around Ricky would laugh too, nervously of course. They were’t really sure about their buddy busting my chops. But after a while they accepted me in to the Sunday church parking lot crowd. I felt pretty cool about that.

Ricardo Bolden, or Ricky, worked at the church we both attended, Redeemer Presbyterian right in the heart of the University of Tennessee campus in downtown Knoxville. We had no idea who the other was. The difference was Ricky didn’t care who you were. I’m a nobody of course, but that didn’t matter to Ricky. He marched right up to me, hand out for a big shake, introduced himself and proceeded to interrogate me. Had I been in a foreign country I would have absolutely believed I was being “cased” or probed by enemy intel, his questions were that subtle but invasive.

He found out I was in the military that day. The next week and every Sunday after he would call out from the parking lot, “Morning Captain” or whatever rank he assigned to me that particular Sunday. I explained to him over and over that I was enlisted and a Master Sargent not an officer, but he didn’t care. It was more funny to call me everything but.

He reserved the rank of General for those days I was late to church and a lot of the fellas were hanging on the stoop of the church with him. They all got a good laugh out of that. Some of them would even stand up, mockingly of course. I dug that. It truly meant I was part of the gang. Getting your chops busted is the initiation into any group worth being a part of. But only Ricky would salute. That was real. I could tell that was out of respect. Not sure I ever lived up to the respect he always showed me.

As the year went on we would lament the football season. Ricky was a diehard Vols fan. When I was looking to avoid the traditional long form sermon (read excruciatingly long) I would sneak outside or to the bottom floor and find Ricky and we would fix the Vols football problems and wonder about basketball season. No matter how long that conversation went he always, and I mean always ended it with some form of the gospel. Sometimes it was a straight verse and sometimes it was his version of applying the bible to life in general. Man I never felt so overmatched.

Rest in Peace Captain

Rest in Peace Captain

I didn’t know Ricky outside of Sunday morning. He lived in the city and I live in the “burbs” of West Knoxville. Different lives to be sure. But because he was in the parking lot most Sunday mornings he was first to see our son on Frank’s first visit to church after his birth. Same thing with our daughter Anne Marie. To be honest I’m not even sure Ricky knew my name. I was always Captain or Major or Lieutenant. Once in a while he’d chuck out Sarge, and the afore mentioned General. He called me Colonel once. It was the first Sunday I saw him in March of 2010. I’ll never forget it.

I retired from the Air Force in September of 2009. My paperwork took forever to come through. Shocking I know. When it finally came in February of 2010, it was a huge box. Had no idea what it all was. Turns out to be a plaque signed by the President and a separate one signed by the Secretary of the Air Force, along with official forms regarding retirement pay and such.

Staring at the plaque from the President I realized it said, “Thank you for your dedication and service to this great country. A grateful nation thanks you COLONEL Linardo. Barak H. Obama President of the United States” All of the paper work and other plaques had the same rank, Colonel. Took over a year to unravel.

The first Sunday in March that I managed to get to church, there was Ricky greeting people in the lot. I thought, wait till he hears about all this paperwork mess. I barely get both feet out of the van and I hear “Good Morning Colonel!” The requisite homeless guys hanging with Ricky stood in acknowledgement of my lofty position before breaking into laughter.

I laughed at first cause it’s continuing confirmation that I’m still in the gang. But then it occurred to me, how the hell did he know the military messed up my paperwork and retired me at Colonel instead of Master Sargent? At that point no one at church knew that had happened. It was the only Sunday he ever promoted me to Colonel, no time before or after. When I tried to explain it to him he looked at me like I was insane. He wanted to talk about the upcoming Orange/White spring football game; the college version of pre-season scrimmage.

I always looked forward to getting my greeting and handshake on Sunday. The greeting from Ricky was always more fun than actually going to church. Sad but true. Some personal circumstances have kept us from church for a while now. I’ve not seen Ricky in almost a year. I still get church e-mails though. That’s how I found out I’ll never hear Good Morning Captain! again.

Ricardo Bolden of Knoxville Tennessee is roaming the halls of heaven, greeting his Jesus.

I wonder what rank Ricky gave Him?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zach Rosenberg: A dad you should know.

Starting a new segment here at Frank’s Place. As I have progressed through this little social experiment called blogging I have run into some of my like kind. As it turns out there are a lot of dads out there blogging (yes I live with my head in the sand). As it also turns our most of them are better writers and much funnier than me.

Again I don’t care for people much, so what did I know. I thought I was the best thing going.

I was also never one of those big, “get out of your comfort zone” guys. That’s so dumb, people operate most efficiently in their zone.

Anyway, joining a dads blogging group on Facebook was the big get out of my zone moment.

I even interact with a lot of these dudes. Go figure.

All that to say this, there are some exceptional dads out there who write some funny and insightful stuff, sometimes both at the once. From time to time we here at Frank’s Place will highlight a dad from that group. You’ll see their picture, a brief description and some links to their blogs, FB page etc… Partake at your leisure.

Zach Rosenberg - funny and funny lookin. Hard to beat that.

Zach Rosenberg – funny and funny lookin. Hard to beat that.

The first contestant is Zach Rosenberg.

Zach Rosenberg is a fellow dad blogger and one of the two creators of 8 Bit Dad.

Don’t let that muskrat on his chin fool you. Dude can throw down when he takes pen to paper. (figurative people, figurative)

Here is the blurb from his About page on his blog:

Zach Rosenberg Co-Founder / Editor-in-Chief at 8 Bit Dad.

Zach grew up under a nearby orange tree in California’s San Fernando Valley. He has worked at publications such as Filter Magazine, Geek Monthly Magazine, UNleashed Magazine, WYWS Magazine,The Los Angeles Sentinel (“the largest Black-owned newspaper on the West Coast”), and also worked on His Side with Glenn Sacks (“The largest mens’ and fathers’ issues radio show in America” in 2001). His son was born in January 2009.

A link to a few of his latest posts at 8 Bit Dad: Get your ass back to work   World’s Toughest Job

I know you’re used to the comfy, country church feel of Frank’s Place, so be warned that’s a big operation over at 8 Bit Dad. They have staff writers and such. Fear not.

Do yourself a favor, go check out Zach Rosenberg and 8 Bit Dad.

 

 

 

UT Basketball: A Pearl of a petition.

It’s been fascinating to watch the NCAA basketball season unfold. This season we saw another version of the one and done phenoms in Lexington underperform all year only to turn it on at tournament time. We watched Michigan State run up victories at a blistering pace only to be crushed by injuries midseason and claw their way back as they got healthy. I was watching the games on ESPN when Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart went all Bobby Knight on some sideline furniture in one game and then channel his inner Ron Artest a few games later, going into the stands to confront a big mouth fan who had catapulted himself across the line between spectator and enemy combatant. Smart should have drilled the guy in my opinion.

Living in Knoxville and being a fan of the Volunteers has made the season even more fascinating. Oh we didn’t have any of that drama; no fights with the fans in Thompson Boling, no injuries to any key players, no, none of that. In Knoxville we had The Petition. The Bring Back Bruce petition to be exact.

Unhappy with the current state of UT basketball after some buzzer beater losses to Texas A&M and a bad loss to Vandy, an enterprising fan realized Knoxville’s beloved son, Bruce Pearl, was coming off his three year NCAA penalty in August, conveniently still living in Knoxville, and thus ripe for hire. Or in this case rehire. Caught lying and coercing others to lie about minor recruiting violations, Pearl was fired by UT after the 2011 NCAA Tournament. A tournament in which the Volunteers were crushed by Michigan in the first round 75-45.

Screen shot 2014-03-29 at 7.56.24 AMAs you can see in the picture, 36,000 UT faithful(?) signed the petition to have Cuonzo Martin fired. Don’t be fooled. That’s what it says. There is a little known dynamic principal in basketball handed down from Naismith himself that states, “No two college coaches can occupy the same job at the same time.” From that we get the equation ∫BP(rehired)=ƒCM(fired).

So the only way Bruce Pearl could be rehired was if UT fired Cuonzo Martin. This is important as a lot of signatories/faithful used the excuse, “The petition did not call for Martin’s firing, only if we would like Pearl back should Martin BE fired” to run for cover when Martin’s Vols made the Sweet 16. I refer you to the previous formula and that great presidential quote, “It depends on what the definition of IS is.”

Full disclosure here, I loved the Martin hire. I still do. I grew up in the mean streets of South Jersey a stones throw from Philadelphia. College basketball for us in the 70s and 80s was the Big 5 City Series featuring Temple, Villanova, St Joes, LaSalle, and Drexel. Watching John Chaney’s match up zone scare the hell out of Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, etc.. was great. That Temple defense carried the Owls to 5 Elite Eights and 714 of the programs 1800 wins. Only five other teams can make the 1800 win claim. Of course watching Rollie Massimino’s Nova Wildcats defense make a basket-case out of Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas, carrying them to the NCAA Title in 1985 was the highlight of all highlights. So in other words I’m a sucker for a team that can D-up. Hence the love of the Cuonzo Martin hire.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Bruce Pearl a lot. He won games. Plus I hated Buzz Ball. Buzz Peterson was Pearl’s predecessor and I firmly believe I could have coached them boys up better than freaking Buzz Ball. That’s really what endeared Pearl to the fan base so quickly. He took the same squad Buzz was getting mopped up with night in and night out, ran them to the Tournament, destroying the non-conference schedule and putting the fear of God into conference foes along the way. But in the end Pearl got himself fired and now hired by Auburn. Believe what you want about Pearl’s situation, the long and short of it is Pearl lied, coerced others to lie, and got himself fired. It’s not much more complicated than that.

So now we have Cuonzo Martin. It’s been a slow start to be sure, but the man is only in his third season and the boys went to the Sweet 16. Winning 3 games to get there. Of course you could never convince the faithful of that. See, that first comeback victory over Iowa doesn’t count in their eyes. It’s not the Tournament to them. Oh you know it was a non-confernce opponent late in March, played on a neutral floor where the winner advanced and the loser went home, but no it’s not the Tournament. Then Martin’s squad dismantled 6th seed UMass. OVERRATED THOSE MINUTEMEN ARE!

Then the trap door of all trap doors. A hot Mercer squad busted up Duke and the Vols would miss their chance to beat a team worthy of the faithful’s approval. Of course UT decapitated Mercer on their way to the Sweet 16 and 8 wins in the last 9 games while holding opponents to 54 points or less and shooting almost 80% from the free throw line. All this while a lot of the fan base, or at least 36,000 of them, was working publicly to get Martin fired.

A lot of commonalities between Pearl and Martin here: defense, free throw shooting, and adversity.

Defense – Pearl’s teams didn’t believe in it. They would just outscore you. But that leads to blow outs. A lot of the time UT was the victor, sometimes they were the victim. Martin’s team lives on defense and because of that they are rarely out of any game until the final buzzer.

They were getting blown out by Michigan in the first half of Friday’s Sweet 16 game. It was if the ghost of Pearl’s teams rose from the dead. UT was running and gunning from three, shooting 50% from the stripe and they were in danger of getting run off the floor. In the second half Martin’s team showed up and we saw what we had never seen from Pearl. A comeback. Save for a bad foul call in the last 9 seconds, UT may be in the Elite 8 right now. Can you remember a Pearl team clamping down on D to get themselves back in the game from 15 points down in a Tournament game? It may have happened but I can’t remember it.

Free throw shooting – Pearl’s teams were god awful and it cost them games. They never seemed to get better either. Martin’s teams have bettered their FT percentage each year. The biggest improvement has been their big man Stokes. He was something like 56% from the stripe last year. This year he’s in the 70% range. That’s a big deal

Adversity – Pearl’s gang folded, Martin’s guys just won games.

In 2011 when all the NCAA allegations stuff started to filter out the fan base rallied around Pearl. They backed him, as they should have. Only the press was speculating about Pearl’s future, the fans, myself included, were 100% with Pearl. The athletic department would only say the situation would be reviewed once UT was out of the tournament. Not exactly the most tactful way to say that as it implies UT had no chance to win, but guess what, they didn’t have a chance. They got embarrassed by Michigan, losing by 30. Hilariously that statement by the AD Dept was offered up by fans for the reason they lost to Michigan. It distracted them. Really?

So flash forward to 2014, the fan base is not just calling for the firing of Martin, but putting up public petitions to submit to the UT administration saying in effect, you work for us, now fire Martin and bring back Bruce. Add to that the UT front office’s unwillingness to show any support for Martin or at the very least come out and denounce the petition as folly.

None of that happened so what did Martin’s guys do when the fan based turned on them? Won 8 of their last 9, played the most crushing defense of any team in the country at that time and had b-ball analysts from ESPN, CBS, even sports writers from Lexington, predicting a deep run for UT. Of course that’s exactly what they did. This teams mental toughness and the solid foundation of their coach allowed them to not only play through adversity but play better, much better. No distractions noted.

So yeah Martin has not won as much as Pearl yet. Yeah he may be rough around the edges where Pearl was a master ring leader, but I believe his formula is set up for a longer, more successful haul.

I get time softens history’s rough edges but let’s be honest, Pearl’s magical 6 appearances in the Tournament that everyone keeps touting were not blazes of glory. In 2006 UT was a 2 seed and needed end game heroics to get by Winthrop and then lost to 7 seed Wichita State. In 08 they got busted in the second round by a mediocre Georgetown team. In 09 they lost to 8 seed Oklahoma St in the first round. 2011 was the afore mentioned blowout loss to Michigan in the first round.

Is Pearl a good coach? Absolutely. Is he the end all be all of college coaching? Not by a long shot.

But the treatment Martin has received from the faithful is completely unwarranted. I’d be surprised if Marquette or Wake Forrest doesn’t come calling with a real long term deal. I hope Martin stays but if I was his agent I’d tell him to take the deal and drop a resignation letter on Dave Hart’s desk on the way out of town.

If that happens we’ll be trading a diamond for a lump of coal.

No matter though. Spring practice has started for UT football. All is right with the world.

So when does the Boot Butch, un-Fire Fulmer petition go up?

 

 

Kathy’s Krew: Cause good causes never stop being good.

The dollars, always the dollars: Kathy’s Krew

Joe Pesci had it right in Casino. Ultimately it always comes down to money.

Yeah it’s a beg for money. Not claiming I won’t say some funny or wildly inappropriate crap on the way to the big ask, but at the end of the day, I’m asking for a donation. The beauty in this deal is I won’t be calling you at dinner time, hiding behind a caller ID that masks my true identity as a solicitor, and I’m not some obscure charity.

Nope this one is all too real and all too personal.

The Warden getting her walking papers from the radiation team.  Nice robe bro.

The Warden getting her walking papers from the radiation team. Nice robe bro.

This is my little sister Kathy. We call her The Warden. She’s the youngest of the 8 of us but for some reason when you say, “You’re not the boss of me” and she replies “Yes I am” – you believe her. Hence The Warden. Anyway, she is a breast cancer survivor. So far she’s kicking cancer in the ass. Even though I used to beat her ass when we were kids and would act out the WWF Wrestling we watched from The Spectrum in Philadelphia way too long ago, she’s tougher than me.

 

 

 

The kid whisperer with Frank and The Warden's son Nicholas

The kid whisperer with Frank and The Warden’s son Nicholas

This is my brother-in-law Bob. He’s one of the nicest, kindest guys you will ever meet. Never stops working. Works a little too hard if you ask me, but hey I think we’ve established my laziness already. Bob is also a pet/baby whisperer.  Not kidding. Bob can calm any animal, any baby. They all take to him immediately.  He really is a regular Dr. Doolittle and whatever the equivalent for kids would be. Bob was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma (ALL) in 2010. He has been kicking cancer’s ass for a while now. He is a survivor too. He’s tougher than me too.

Now beside the cool nicknames and the survivor thing, they have another thing in common. They are the Lilliputians of our family. They’re tiny. Those pictures aren’t to scale, they’re life size. (not really) As it turns out, the smallest amongst my giant family, (8 kids, 7 spouses, 10 grandkids) happen to be the biggest ass kickers.

This small person/big ass kicker thing might be a new evolution of the human species. Read Lisa Haffner’s blog for an incredible story of a another pint sized woman who has been beating cancer about the head and face since she was like 11. Lisa Haffner is something special. She lost her leg as a child and is still kicking cancer in the ass. I continue to be amazed by this women’s will and fortitude.

Celebrating a deuce.

Celebrating a deuce.

Update Feb 28 2014: Lisa has since gone terminal but you would never know it. She was told she had 6 months to live…. 13 months ago. The picture to the left is of Little Lisa Lollipop and her husband Juan. That ain’t a gang sign they’re throwin. It’s to celebrate her first normal poop in quite some time. Yeah cancer struggles and victories come down to the smallest of battle fields.

Life’s not fair. Some people are just blessed with more grace and more smarts and more toughness than the rest of us. Lisa is one of those people who just squeezes every ounce out of life no matter the circumstances. Do yourself one favor this morning and read her blog. little lisa lollipop

The other commonality The Warden and The Kid Whisperer share is they both decided to take their survivor-ability on the road. They started a team to raise funds and awareness.  Their first Relay for Life event is June 13th in Linwood, New Jersey.

And yeah we have arrived at the moment.

The big ask.

The squeeze.

The pimpin.

The gratuitous beggin for your hard earned greenbacks.

Now do yourself another favor.

Donate.

Go to my sister Kathy’s Relay for Life web site and donate: Kathy’s Krew  If you see the same picture of her in that smart looking hospital gown, you’re in the right spot.  She has set a goal of 5 large, or $5,000 for you non street people. They are making progress but they are not quite half way there. This reminds me, she’s also a Bon Jovi stalker so you might see her quote some of his musical offerings on her page; another indicator you are on the correct web site.

Frank’s Place has already ponied up 50 bones, (again, a street term for money). Don’t be left behind. Drop a few nickels in the tip jar and join two of the smallest ass kickers I know in the fight against cancer.

They ought to put that on the t-shirt: Kathy’s Krew – Ass Kickers for Hire.

I’d wear one.

Off Topic: Captain Kirk made me turn on the lights.

kid_clipart_bedYou know, the more I read the headline for this post the more it sounds so much different from how I meant it. Such is life.

A couple posts back I was gloating about getting to spend four days and nights alone as the whole family went to North Carolina for the long weekend. Read it here if you so desire: Free Range Chicken

In that post I made an ambiguous reference to being deathly afraid of the dark when I’m alone. Maybe it wasn’t so ambiguous. Well, a few comments here, a few e-mails there and it turns out people want to hear the rest of the story. If you’re not one of them, stop reading now.

Captain Kirk made me turn on the lights.

What kid isn’t afraid of the dark at some point? I was and if you say you weren’t you’re either a liar or in therapy for being a liar.

I may have carried my fear a little longer than some. Maybe I should be in therapy. I thought I had shaken it. I found out in 2005, at the age of 37, my fear of the dark was lurking in the not so deep recesses of my mind.

Let’s take a look at where and who I was in 2005. An instructor at the NCO Academy in Knoxville, newly married for the first and everlasting time in December of 2003, and in year 18 of a 22yr military career. A career, by the way, that had spanned the cold war, the drug wars in which I spent time in Central America fighting, and 10 years on the flight-line working on what was then the AF’s premier fighter, the F-16 Falcon. In other words I was a hero of the people. At least that’s what the plaque I had made at Mike’s Trophies and Sporting Goods says. Half off if you order in bulk.

All that to say I’m not a person you would tag as the afraid of my own shadow type.

All that would change one fateful night in 2005. It’s always one fateful night isn’t it? I mean it’s never a fateful afternoon, or fateful beautiful spring Sunday brunch right? Nighttime – it’s when bad stuff happens.

Like I say I was married to the lovely Tracy – Mrs Frank’s Place. She, and her posse of not to be named women (Becky and Sarah), decide to go on a shopping trip to Atlanta from Friday to Sunday.

Yes! The weekend to myself. It’s 2005, so no kids, except for the friggen cat, Pumpkin and mostly a clean house(friggen cat) and golf on TV, and then playing golf in the mornings and then late night TV watching the replays of golf.  Yeah you bet honey – go to Atlanta. Have fun, spend money. Yes I am aware those two things, fun and spending money, are redundant.

So off they went. And all was well.

Then it got dark. No problem. I closed all the blinds and settled into my Barco-lounger to watch TV. No golf replay for some reason so I start surfing.

Around 10pm I find a Twilight Zone marathon on Sci Fi channel. That’s some campy stuff. I was laughing at the “special effects” wondering how anyone could be scared by that.

The third episode had a dude who looked really familiar but it was a quick glance so I wasn’t sure. Then a close up. Holy cow it’s William Shatner, Captain Kirk, in what must be his first TV role ever. The episode was titled Nightmare at 20,000 feet. Might have been a clue there. Missed it.

In this Twilight Zone episode he’s playing a nervous passenger on an airline returning from a sanitarium. He has a window seat and the window has curtains. That tells you how old this show is. I believe John Lithgow played the Shatner character in an updated Twilight Zone movie.

That fur coat has Sears & Roebuck written all over it.

That fur coat has Sears & Roebuck written all over it.

So Shatner thinks he’s seeing someone on the wing, while they are flying, trying to sabotage the plane. Every time he sees the person on the wing he shuts the curtain and tries to convince himself he’s not seeing what he thinks he’s seeing. He alerts the stewardess she looks and sees nothing. It’s after he alerts someone for the first time that it gets interesting.

The next time he looks out the person appears to be getting closer. My spidey sense is tingling but not enough to alert me to what is about to happen.

On a side note, this gremlin or person or whatever on the wing looked for all the world like they were wearing a kids winter coat from the Sears catalog, circa 1950. Again special effects budgets weren’t great back then. But that’s important because I took my eye off the ball. I was concentrating on getting a good look at the monster’s garb or “fur”. A move that would come back to haunt me, literally.

So about the time Shatner is losing his crap over all this he decides to go for one last look. And the moment of truth has arrived. He yanks open the curtain and sees this….

That would scare the balls off a brass monkey

That would scare the balls off a brass monkey

Well what the hell am I supposed to do with that? No idea but I was scared to the point of being speechless. I’ll tell you what, had that freaking cat hopped up on the chair at that moment he would have spent every one of his nine lives faster than an old lady working the slots in Atlantic City. My fear induced adrenaline rush would have ripped his head off before he could have got off even one “Meo…”

To his credit, Pumpkin never moved. Part of that is because he was ninety gazillion years old and part because he really was a smug little prick. I know he’s long since departed and all but let’s just have a little truth telling shall we. That cat looked down on me from the jump.

But now I’m stuck. It might as well be nine miles from the Barco to the bedroom. Not to mention this haunted house is covered with windows. Only the living room has blinds. How am I supposed to keep from looking out into the darkness on my way up the stairs?

I need a plan, I need the floor plan. I need to devise a path and a sequence in which I can turn off the lights behind me as I make my way up. However, in order to do that the lights need to be on, all of them. I need options.

So the house is lit up like a beacon and it’s about 12:30 in the am. Then the phone rings.

Who the world is calling me 12:30 in the morning with all this going on? Luckily the phone is right next to me. It’s Tracy, and it sounds like she may have a margarita or two on board.

Wow, my skin is crawling just looking at that picture while I’m typing and it’s 2:30 in the afternoon.

Anyway Tracy and I are talking and she asks what I’m doing. I tell her what I’m watching and there is a very long pause.

Then she says, “All the lights in my house are on aren’t they?” Hey what can I tell you, the woman knows me. I hear a little laughter in the background and I know full well I’ve just given “the girls” something to talk about for the next few minutes.

Can’t worry about a bunch of hens cackling over my trauma though, I still have to get upstairs.

The rest is fuzzy to me. Clearly I made it upstairs, I just can’t recall the sequence of lights.

Probably should have written it down.

All I know is windows and darkness are not a good combo. You just never know when a kid in a matted down Sears fur coat and a horrifically bad hair cut will be staring back at you.

Ultimately, as the saying goes, I’m not afraid of the dark, I’m just afraid of what’s in it.

Frank’s Place: Best of 2013

Best of the best of the best... with honors

Best of the best of the best… with honors

Ok, it’s that time of year again. Time to recount the posts with the most, the stylings that got you smiling…or something like that. Man another year that just blew by. I guess it’s always like this when you have two or more. Didn’t seem to go that fast when it was just Frank, but now that he has a partner in crime the space time continuum just hasn’t been the same.

Speaking of time, lets stop wasting it. There are trays of pigs in a blanket with my name on it so here goes. I give you the top ten posts at Frank’s Place for 2013, in descending order by total views in a single day.

A Girl Stands in Knoxville! A lot of people clicked on this little gem. And why not. It had everything: a feel good story about a premie standing before she should have, some great before and after pics, and exploitative gambling. That’s right, guesses were made as to when AM would walk, now that she was vertical. The eventual winner was May524 who guessed it to the day, but she failed to reply. Susan Hupp and Andy Traugot tied for next closest at 13 months, 15 days. Hupp took an unedited version of the manuscript of my soon to be book and Traugot failed to claim his prize. Still here if you want it Andy.

Anne Marie Year 1 Few words and lots of pictures vaulted this one to the top of the charts. Not sure how I should feel about that. A momentous year non the less as we went from a weighing 1lb 12oz to eating a 1lb cake.

It was a Hairy Bear This was a little weird. When visiting AM’s twin sisters’ grave on their birthday we noticed a small bear my nephew Sean had put there during the funeral was still there. I mentioned it in a post about AM’s birthday. It got a lot of attention. So much so it became it’s own post. I can report that on this Christmas Eve the bear was no longer there. Although we still have the bear’s twin sitting with a picture of Linda Claire.

This is not a Rock Kicking Contest Mr. Linardo! A sad one for sure. This is what I wrote about my brother-in-law Bill, my sister’s husband, who died way too sudden, way too soon. The title of the post comes from what Bill, or Mr. McClory as I knew him then, would say to me when I was kicking rooks in the school parking lot waiting to walk down to the bus to go home. He said it a lot. I was dense back then. Or should I say denser? Can I say denser? Who knows, it’s late.

A lot of fish died to get this shot. I'll miss them.

A lot of fish died to get this shot. I’ll miss them.

It’s Always Hurricane Season! Hey she can walk. Great. She put her walking to good use, moving around the house destroying everything in her path. Busted up a few things with her wake too. This one got a lot of attention because you people like to see me suffer. I get it. I’d be laughing too.

Is there a Doc in the House? More suffering. Mostly mine. Not really. The whole house took sick and Frank had to evacuate to Grammy’s house with Mrs Frank’s Place as AM’s immune system would not be able to cope. It was a weird 4 days. Frank loved it. Had his mom all to himself. What’s not to love?

Running with Scissors  This is my personal favorite. Coming around the corner to find my 19 month old daughter using a pair of scissors in an attempt to pry open the fridge made me proud. I spent ten years working on an airplane that required serious improvisation to get things done. I was mediocre at it to say the least but to see my girl already developing those skills brought a tear to my eye.

No touch? Yeah no problem, I won't touch the gate. I'll jump over it.

No touch? Yeah no problem, I won’t touch the gate. I’ll jump over it.

Coming in to her own!  This was a post about AM building a ladder out of a diaper box and my wife’s work boxes to jump the child gate on the stairs. But really it was just me bragging on my daughter who turned 17 months old that day. Coming out of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, her brain pan was the only thing that had me worried. My fears were apparently unfounded.

What a Year a Baby Makes We celebrated her one year birthday in March. We celebrated her actual due date at the end of June. So one full year home from the hospital on July 29th, sure we’ll celebrate that too. Another extremely popular post with a lot of pictures and not much of my thoughts or words.

Yeah don’t think I’m not seeing the “just shut up and show us pictures of your kids” trend.

Making his shadow hand touch his shadow forehead

Making his shadow hand touch his shadow forehead

Dancing with Squirrels  The ever popular sequel to Dances with Wolves, this was a favorite of mine for a lot of reasons. Mostly because it was fun to watch Frank make shadow puppets while he was playing in a live soccer game. But it also gave me a little insight into the kids psyche. And I liked what I saw. Apparently y’all did too.

On a side note, I did have a top ten moment myself the other night. At a wedding reception featuring some of the who’s who in Knoxville, including the mayor and a local doctor who has a TV show here in town, my wife introduced me to an avid reader of Frank’s Place.

It was great to meet you LT. I appreciate all the nice things you had to say about the blog. You made my night. It was a humbling to say the least. Especially considering you walked right past Mayor Burchett and Dr. Bob to talk to me.

Of course most of the credit goes to my kids. They really write the stories, I’m just their interpretive stenographer.

So that’s it for 2013. These are the ten top posts for the year, as decided by you, the people who support Frank’s Place. Without you my ego would almost be non-existent. Well, that’s probably not true.

Anyway Happy New Year to LT and all of you from all of us here at Frank’s Place.

 

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