Back to work: The Grind

Not in the Grind.

I imagine this will be a fairly obvious statement, but being a stay at home dad spoiled me. Yes it was hard and yes it’s still work, just unpaid work and… blah blah blah. I get it. I’m not saying being a stay at home is any less demanding than going to a paid job might be. Trust me I did it for six years. No matter what I did in the military, no matter what I do now working in national security, none of that was or will ever be as important as what I did for the six years I was home with Frank and then Anne Marie.

Still, I never felt it for those six years. There wasn’t this pang hanging in the air. You know the feeling. It’s just faint white noise on Saturday morning. It becomes a bit of a buzz by nightfall. No not that kind of buzz. The kind that of buzz distracting you from enjoying Saturday because you know what’s coming. By Sunday it’s loud and unmistakable. You, my friend, are in The Grind.

Honestly I didn’t know what it was. But I knew it was there. As soon as I went back to work I could feel it. Maybe not right away, as the adrenaline of all the new things carried me through the grind unnoticed. But as soon as I got into a groove at work, as soon as I began to feel comfortable there, I could sense it. It was just this lurking feeling, again like a very light white noise playing in the background. It was annoying but not debilitating. It was this feeling. A feeling like I was running after something but could never catch up.

Then I mentioned it to my friend and neighbor JB. He tagged it immediately. You’re in the grind bro! For a dude 20 years younger than me he is wise beyond his years. The Grind. Yep. By Sunday morning it was this dread and angst all at the same time. Trying to get stuff done at the same time trying to enjoy the final moments of the weekend. The Grind.

Definitely in the Grind.

The funniest part, I love my job. I love the people I get to work with. Top it off with the mission. The mission is as close to what I did in uniform as I could ever get on the outside. I’m not sure I could have described what I thought the perfect follow on job for me would be once I retired from the military. This place is it for me. That’s what makes the grind so dastardly.

I don’t worry or fret going back to work on Monday’s, but I can tell you I’m grinding on Sunday. Hell I went to work this past Monday, July 3rd even though most of the place would be off and I would be off Tuesday July 4th. I like it there. I feel at home in my office and my building. I know JB loves what he does. I know he enjoys his work as much as I do mine. But still, the grind is there. It’s tangible. You can feel it. And then it’s gone.

When the alarm blows on Monday morning the grind is gone. It’s time to make the doughnuts and no time to be worried about the weekend cause it’s over. You would think the converse would be true as well. You would think there would be an equal and opposite reaction, an anxiousness waiting for the weekend to begin. Nope. The grind doesn’t work that way bro.

Now I can’t speak for JB here. All I know is I don’t sit around on Thursday watching the sweep hand and waiting on the plant whistle to blow. I work a 4/10 schedule with Fridays off. So Thursday is my Friday. Yeah I know, don’t hate me. The weeks disappear for me. When I hit the ground on Monday I’m going hard, jobbin, choppin wood, whatever. When I look up, it’s Thursday. The weeks happen that fast for me. Still come Friday night, after all the golf has been played, all the naps taken, the grind starts to approach.

The Grind

It’s a little like that green fog in the movie The Ten Commandments. You know, when Yule Brenner as Ramses II condemns all new born Hebrews to death but Moses beat him to the punch on what was to become the first Passover. That green fog held low to the ground. It was the representation of the angel of death and instead of Hebrews, every first born Egyptian literally eats the dust when it envelops them. The grind is just like that, minus the Hebrews and Egyptians and the death thing. But that fog man, that fog creepin along the ground… You’re in the grind bro!

Now I know all you junior psych majors are saying the same thing. Dude, it’s the job. You’re dreading going to the J.O.B. What’s the saying, All Knowledge, No Mileage. Try to explain the grind to a kid with all school and no work and that’s the answer you get. Not their fault. They will feel the grind one day in the near future and the light will go on for them as it did me.

Look I can’t explain it. All I can say is the work is good but the grind is real.

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Stuff my kid says: From the mouth of a preemie.

Who knew?

Strange how time affects things, how it can change your point of view or even your philosophy on stuff. Take for instance my now 5-year-old daughter. While in the NICU weighing a slight 1 pound 12 ounces any sound she made was met with joy and celebration. A burp, a cry, even a tiny little preemie fart, was cause for elation. Now, five years later, well let’s say the philosophy has changed a wee bit.

We summoned her upstairs to try on some new PJs. She was in the living room alone, it was quiet. And that’s important. When I called her to come upstairs it got dead quiet. Think of the quiet before a nuke goes critical and destroys everything in 100 square miles and you’d be close to the quiet before what we now call The Event.

When she realized we wanted her to stop what she was doing and come up stairs we clearly heard her say semi-under her breath, Well Shit. That was followed by her slow stomping her way up the stairs.

I am not embarrassed to say it was one of the proudest moments of my life. Not only did she use the proper word and context. She used the proper inflection. It was impeccable delivery.  I mean it was wrong on almost every level but damn it was funny. Tracy did not think so but I didn’t notice because I was too busy peeing my pants laughing.

But she wasn’t done. In fact she has offered so much funny lately I’m only giving you the best few as I see it. Or hear it as it were.

Behold:

We are both having hotdogs with ketchup. Frank and I are equivalent. Daddy equivalent means equal or the same. As you might imagine that was uttered with condescension dripping from all sides of it. She actually paused, taking the time to explain it to me as if I was the one in the room who could not possibly comprehend that word. She might as well have said excuse me while I explain it to you know who. All accompanied by a smirk and the old thumb wave that says hey look at the dope. Just remember when you point one finger at someone there are four more pointing back at you. To whit…

Daddy, dog water tastes just as good as people water. This revelation was made mere seconds after she educated me on the word equivalent. But this is the joy of young minds right? To her both of those statements were equally smart and observant. You might say they were equivalent. That is until your mind stops long enough to ask what should have been the obvious question. Anne Marie how do you know what dog water tastes like? Turns out thew answer is as obvious as the question.

The road warrior herself. Dreaming of first class leg room.

Daddy if it takes 13 hours to drive to New Jersey why don’t we just fly? Ah silly little child. If we flew we would be depriving you of that great American tradition; the family road trip. You see Anne Marie it’s supposed to take 13 hours so you can, we all can, experience the misery of the road trip in all it’s pee stops and hours long traffic jam glory. It’s what builds character and makes American strong. Fly? Fly! Don’t be silly. That would only take 1 hour and 45 minutes. What the hell are we supposed to do with the other 11 hours and 15 minutes?

Daddy we could live here forever! She tossed out that gem after it was discovered that Avalon NJ, the city where we rented the beach house for the week, had a Duck Doughnuts. That’s a cake doughnut place that has become wildly popular in the south. They make the doughnuts right in front of you, then put anything you want on them. I’m not saying I would do violence for a maple glazed with bacon on top, but I’m not not saying it either. Strawberry glaze with rainbow sprinkles is her regular. Of course this desire to stay in the homeland was also after we had real pizza for dinner one night and Italian subs the next and we spent a six days on the beach and at the pool. Live there forever, of course she’d want to. But will we? Of course we won’t.

I just don’t know who I’m going to marry. That bombshell came when I found her, at the ripe old age of four, sitting on the hallway floor in front of her room looking despondent. When I asked her the issue, she dropped that on me. She was very concerned that she would not find someone to marry. I suggested that she wait till at least her 5th birthday to get worried about that. She was agreeable but not happy. I’m still in counseling.

And for the top, and likely most disturbing comment…

Daddy do girls grow a penis? Tracy and I just looked at each other for a very awkward minute and it became painfully clear this was my hot potato to handle. It was like tip toeing though a mine field. Ah… no Anne Marie only boys have a penis. She paused for a quick second and offered this, That’s good. Cause I don’t want one of those. My thought – Hold on to that attitude for the next 80 years if you don’t mind.

And with that the conversation ended and she jumped into her bed and reminded us to turn on her sound machine and ceiling fan. That was our invitation to leave so she could go to sleep. So it appears we will be paying dearly for all of the quite, happy go lucky, rule following we got from Frank.

God help us all.

Six months in writers Siberia: excuses, justifications, and all that other jazz.

Twain has that famous line about his obit being reported in error. He dined out on that damn line for years. Well I’m here to tell you that cat is dead now, no matter what the paper’s say. Me on the other hand…

Proof of Life – the author and his kids. (The Frank of Frank’s Place is in the middle)

Yeah I’m still here. All evidence to the contrary, I did not fall off the face of the earth. Sorry to disappoint all you loyal members of the Flat Earth society, but it’s round, and it keeps spinning. No matter what we do, it keeps spinning. Now, some things may spin on without you. Take for instance the daddy blogosphere. It has hummed along nicely in my six month absence. There has been a shift toward video blogging or vlogging as the kids call it, but there are still writers out there defending the long form and kicking out good stuff. For that, and them, I am grateful.

This paragraph is where I’m supposed to regale you with tales of the exploits and adventures that have kept me from the key board these last six months. Honestly the only reason I know it’s been six months is the last post on the blog was my end of year Best of 2016 Posts post. And even more honestly, there has been no great reason, no wild tale to tell that would explain my literary solitude. In fact there is no tale at all, wild or otherwise.

If I had to pick a simple word to excuse the lack of stories here it would be work. Yep, that’s it. Just work. That word serves as an excuse, justification and simple fact all at the same time. I got a job in 2015. I got a promotion in March of this year. As much as I hated leaving the most important thing I’ve ever done in raising my kids, I love my new job. Other than the 4am wake up I can’t think of one thing I don’t like about it.

But the simple fact is, I haven’t had the gumption, the drive, the want to, that enables me to sit down and write. I don’t know how all those working dads blog on such a regular basis. Well other than the fact I’m extremely lazy and they aren’t. But that seemed too obvious an answer. I have no trouble getting up at 6am on my day off (Friday) to make my tee time with my buddy. But sitting down to bang on the keys was escaping me. And I have no idea why it’s not now. That’s not entirely true. I have a few ideas.

For one I’m on vacation in the motherland. Sitting on the deck of a beach house in South Jersey seemed like a good time to look at the blog and see what’s been happening. Yeah, did I mention I haven’t even seen my site in six months? Not a post, not a stat. Ignoring blog stats for a blogger is like depriving normal people of things like food, water or air.

Second, I’ve actually read a few other blogs this week and felt a little inspiration. One in particular is Skipah’s Realm. A good blog written by Gary Matthews, a divorced dad working and raising his kid and doing all the other things people do. He weaves his stories in a tapestry of analogy and metaphor with a good dose of humor. The big thing for me is this, the dude is a single dad with a job and he’s banging out stories on the regular. I don’t care if you like his style or not, that’s impressive.

So I’ve charged up the tablet, dusted off the key board and started tapping some keys. This is what has come out so far. At some point, probably this paragraph, I’m supposed to tell you I’m back. At some point I’m supposed to tell you I have story upon story que’d up and ready to type. Even if that were true I would not make that mistake again. Or again. I’m pretty sure I said I was getting my work legs under me and finding a good writing schedule and all that jazz. I’m more than sure I said it twice already. So no more.  I’ve got a few stories, some work, some home, some about this vacation. Who knows when if ever I’ll type them up. Hell I may never type again or I could bang out one a day for weeks. No tellin.

So for now let me say thanks to you all who have kept checking back. You’re loyalty will be rewarded, or you know, not.

How’s that for specific vagueness.

Frank’s Place: Best of 2016!

Posts With the Most

Posts With the Most

Another year come and gone. Not a particularly banner year at Frank’s Place. Of course that had nothing to do with the year that was 2016 a now popular lament as aging Hollywood stars cast off their earthly mores. Although I will say losing Princess Leia was a bit of a gut punch.

No 2016 was only a tough year for me because I struggled to manage my time. I landed a great job at the end of 2015 but the hours were so incredibly foreign, making time to handle my three main hobbies was tough. Yeah I know, cry me a river.

The work schedule actually lent itself to golf, my main hobby, as I had every Friday off. But finding time to blog here and get to the political podcast I do every week with my longtime buddy and comrade in arms was a struggle indeed. Go here: Unfiltered/Unfettered to hear two, old, fat Air Force retirees wax less than poetic about politics and society in general. There wasn’t enough Diet Coke to keep me going I’ll tell you that much.

The irony there is golf takes the longest and I’ve been able to do that the most. Blogging and podcasting might take 3 hours total a week, all after the kids go to bed. As you might imagine, one round of golf can take a bit longer and then there’s the lunch afterward. Of all three things my time with my playing partner/minister/counselor/mentor is more valuable to me than almost anything.

All that aside, it was a good year. The kids began to find their groove in their respective schools. I found my stride at my new job, and 4:30 am wake up really did get a tad easier as the year rolled on. My saint of a mother in law got married after a quarter century of being a faithful widow. We settled  an old score with a certain unnamed bully. And as you might have heard, we got a mutt. Milo Dog to be exact.

Anyway, enough of my gum flapping. I actually managed to get enough posts up to qualify for a “Best Of” this year. So from worst to first, that’s by number of views not quality of course. Although I guess you could make the case views are directly tied to quality, but I think we all know I way too lazy and no where near smart enough to analyze all that.

Here they are, on the cusp of this new year, number 10 to number 1, the best of Frank’s Place for 2016. Click each title link if you want to read the actual story.

10 – Snowmageddon: Aunt Jemimah, Golf, and Pat Summit to the rescue!

Ain't your daddy's tow truck.

Tow truck in front of me couldn’t even hold the road.

We don’t get snow that often in East Tennessee, well not in the Knoxville portion of East Tennessee anyway. But when we do git it, buckle up, cause it’s gonna be a wild ride.

Think of a death defying stunt that should only be tried by professionals. Then picture some hick named Earl easing up outta his busted lawn chair on a half covered porch he ain’t got round to finishing yet, telling his buddy Clem to hold his beer so he can show the pro how it’s done. That’s driving in Knoxville during a snow fall.

 

9 – War on Christmas: My wife wont let me use the laser!

Christmastime, the air is cold, the cards fill the mail box, and the house is bathed in the warm hues of the red and green season. All powered by a futuristic laser device I bought at The Kroger. What’s not to love. Even the Grinch couldn’t hate on that. Well maybe he couldn’t, but my wife could. What’s next; outlawing the Yule Log?

 

8 – Back to Work: Three stall monty.

Man y’all are weird. This only got the third best response as far a views, but the response through e-mail and random people stopping me at work and home to tell me about some jag-off who sat right next to them when there were plenty of stalls down the line was crazy. The old potty story, and the breaking of the unwritten rules there-in, really caught people’s attention.

 

7 – Tales from the Tall Grass: A tree falls in Knoxville

No trees were harmed in the writing of this blog post, Well except that one. (John Stone for scale)

No trees were harmed in the writing of this blog post, Well except that one. (John Stone for scale)

This is from a new series I tried earlier in the year. Merging two of my hobbies didn’t really seem like a great idea but I was in a huge rut/writers block place so I decided to shake it up a bit. When me and John (a fore mentioned friend/golfer/preacher/sounding board and pictured left) ran into a dude on the golf course using a golf ball with the Frank’s Place logo and web site on it I knew we might be on to something. This story about a tree that terrorized me for a decade was the second installment. Again hitting trees really struck a nerve. Lot’s of response to this. And I can say it’s an area I will pursue more as I’ve finally got my time managing feet under me I think.

 

 

6 – Growing Up: It sucks man.

This is just me whining about my kids getting old. Hence I’m getting old. Honestly, who uses the word Hence but old people. Obviously seeing Anne Marie grow up is bitter sweet. But this is what were hoping for when she was born at 25 weeks. Now, we want it to slow down. Same with Frank. As the cuteness ebbs and the know it all preteen grows we both are looking for the break pedal.

Also I put my reading fairy tales in German on display. Don’t miss it.

 

5 – Road Trip 2016 Part 2: Hotdogs, Presidential Waffles, and Good People.

I bet I can get through this daddy!

I bet I can get through this daddy!

We went to Jersey for a summer vacation. I finally listened to my wife and we took three-ish days on the way back to Tennessee and stayed in DC. Glad we did. It made for a great trip. The time in the homeland amongst my fellow Jersy-ites was great. The trip to our Nation’s Capital was even better. This story amounts to home movies in print with a twist. I did a bio on some of the interesting people we met in our few days on the ground in DC. Hint, none of them were in the government.

 

4 – Back to Work: Driving in Purgatory

Another work story another rant on driving in East Tennessee. This one has nothing to do with weather and everything to do with The Drive. Yes it’s the drive for which I lament. The 20 minute sled dog race with some of Knoxville’s finest motor vehicle operators that makes the 4:30am wake up such a joy. It’s no mystery why this one is in the top 5. I may be the only one ranting publicly about this but I’m not the only one who knows it’s an issue. I can almost guarantee you have a similar tale.

 

3 – One Year Gone: If I could make it to 30.

This one is a bit of therapy as I grieve the death of my father who passed in 2015. Mostly it’s about the rationalization I concocted for myself as an 11 year old on how I would deal with the death of my parents. Obviously it didn’t work out the way I planned it when I was 11. I made it to 30. In fact I made it to 48 before I lost a parent. Still hurts. Hard. Sad truths you can’t learn until you live through them. Life just blows the big one sometimes.

 

2 – Sometimes Words Fail

Why?

Why?

Speaking of the world just blowing sometimes. This is about Lucas, a boy from our neighborhood and Frank’s kindergarten class. It’s impossible to comprehend what must be happening to him and his family as they fight through this.

Be warned there is nothing but hard life in this post. However there is a link as well. this one to be exact : Lucas’ Fight Against Child Cancer. Click it here, click it there. No matter. If you feel led and you are able, do what you can.

I can tell you we are 9 months adrift from the diagnosis and Lucas is still battling. Still fighting the fight. The strength and courage of children is staggering.

 

1 – Yeah so we got a mutt.

Yeah that's cute. So what.

Yeah that’s cute. So what.

Well good lord was there any doubt this would be the number one post. Just can’t figure out if it’s because of Milo’s cuteness or the fact people know I’m not a dog lover or animal lover for that matter. And yes most people’s predictions have come true. I have bonded with the dog and he with me. My kitchen floor has never been cleaner and the little bastard is sleeping on the bed. Shut up.

 

Well that’s a wrap. The Top Ten decided by you, the faithful of Frank’s Place. I appreciate your clicks and hope to give you more to click on in 2017.

2016 was a decent year for us personally. Every year will have ups and downs but for my ledger we came out ahead. For that we are grateful.

Happy New Year from Frank's Place!

Happy New Year from Frank’s Place!

 

Yeah, so we got a mutt.

Who could hate that face? Well, not me. But cute or not it still poops.

Who could hate that face? Well, not me. But cute or not he still poops.

Before I go one sentence further let me say I do not hate animals. I do however hate the messes they leave behind and the aggravation they cause, the extra expense they incur, and the overall upheaval that ensues when you bring one of God’s creatures into the home.

Okay, with the PETA public service announcement out of the way let’s move on.

Meet Milo Dog. Absolutely the cutest damned dog I’ve ever seen. And as far as pets go I’m really a cat person. Never had a dog in my life. Always liked cats mainly due to their attitude.

Cats could really give a flying rat’s behind about you as long as the water and food bowls are full and the litter box is clean. Their aloofness resonates with me for some reason. I like the fact they are fairly low maintenance and they sometimes look at you with the “I wouldn’t pee on you if you were on fire.” glare. Gotta respect that.

But back to Milo Dog. He was left at a shelter when he was a few weeks old by some dude who obviously didn’t want him. The shelter named him Milo and my kids didn’t want to change his name. Milo comes to us by way of deception and guile.

I did not want Milo. I did not want any animal. I made my objections clear; money, time, effort, poop. All sound arguments punctuated with the putting of my foot down. As you can now tell my word and the weight of my foot have no meaning what so ever. My foot being put down means so little I actually took a break from typing this very sentence to take Milo out for one of his many pee breaks.

So the guile first. For months my wife has been texting me pictures of dogs left at an animal shelter. Sometimes she would make her supplication with the written word. Most of the time she would just text me the shelter mug shots of these lost mutts. However, once she realized I was too strong willed to be worn down in that fashion, she sent in the kids.

Out of the blue one or two of my midgets would come at me about getting a dog. One day I called their bluff. Go a week without me having to tell you to clean your room and we can get a dog. That was easy money. They never got close to a week. Barely made two days. No mutt for them.

Then the littles tried to guilt me. “We’re the only house on the street without a dog daddy.” Insert sad face and use whiny voice. Just to get a little fun out of it I responded in my best mocking voice, “Well Frank that makes us unique. I like unique.”  Quick aside, we were soon not the only house without a dog. RIP Khaki. Still no mutt for them.

Really? That's all he does? Besides poop I mean.

Really? That’s all he does? Besides poop I mean.

On their last attempt I sent them packing before they opened their cake holes. Still the kids made one more push. My reply, “Tell mommy to get a job and she can pay for the dog.” Somehow they interpreted that as me saying if we could get more money they could get a dog. So my well meaning albeit comprehensively impaired kids ran to their rooms.

Two piggy banks smashed later they were asking if they had enough. Then I fired off a terse text to the master mind herself explaining the hazards of using the kids as emotional pawns in her little game. Still no mutt for them. Daddy – 1 Kids – 0 Piggy Banks – (-2)

Then a deal was presented. She would no longer use the kids as human shields if she could check on the availability of one dog they all liked. If he was no longer up for adoption she promised she would stop damaging our children in her quest for another mouth to feed.

And que the deception.

As she is laying out this silly plan she literally gets a call from the shelter. Her application for Milo has been processed and approved. The mutt was ours if we wanted him. For anyone trailing behind, she had applied to adopt Milo long before she ever mentioned the deal. Trump isn’t even that deceptive.

Well as you can obliviously tell we adopted Milo Dog. Yeah, no. He will not have our last name. If you question the veracity of that claim, just dial up the animal hospital a mile up the street from our house and ask the vet what Milo’s last name is. Her answer will be Dog or NLM. (No Last Name). And I would bet her voice cracks a bit when she tries to answer. Let’s just say me and the vet will not be exchanging Christmas cards anytime soon.

Me and Milo Dog.

Me and Milo Dog.

Yeah Milo has grown on me. He listens to me almost without hesitation thanks to a few tips from our neighbor’s JB and Becky who have a similar dog. He nipped at me one time and another solid piece of advice from JB cured that instantly. He wags his tail so hard when I get home from work his whole little dog ass moves back and forth.

And yeah he sleeps on the bed on Mrs Frank’s Place side now that he can sleep through the night without getting up to pee. Our kitchen floors have never been cleaner. He obeyed even when I started calling him No Nuts Milo after he’d been neutered. He’s sitting at my feet right now as I type about him. But he’s not one of our kids. He’s still just a dog.

He’s Milo Dog. And he’s all ours.

 

Lisa Haffner: Mother, Nurse, Badass.

I wrote about Lisa in March of 2013. She is a remarkable person. If you remember that story you’ve probably figured out why I’m writing today.

Lisa Haffner, who blogs as Little Lisa Lollipop, a nurse at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) who beat cancer once as a kid and twice as an adult losing her leg along the way, went to meet her Jesus this past Thursday.

Lisa has laid her burden down. She has run her race, she has fought the fight. Little Lisa Lollipop has kept the faith. And so many patients, co-workers, and people are better because of her.

Now she rests.

She leaves behind her Husband and two year old son Owen.

Go read: http://littlelisalollipop.blogspot.com/2016/12/in-memoriam.html

If you are inspired, hit the tip jar one time for Owen. No matter either way.

Amazing people pass though the world all the time. And I feel like the world should know about it. This is my small part of that endeavor.

                                                      Lisa Joan Haffner Dorantes
                                            December 21, 1974 – December 15, 2016
Lisa and Owen

Lisa and Owen

War On Christmas: My wife won’t let me use the laser.

A little Christmas Eve eve post to lighten your night and bolster you against the enemy. Who’s the enemy? Well all those godless heathens who who claim to love Jesus but hate Jesusy things, like America and cool lasers that cover your house with Christmas lights, that’s who. I mean how much coal do you have to have in your heart to not like laser beams that make your house a green and red field of Christmas cheer?

Now I am a guy who leans traditional at the holidays. I like Como, Bing, and Burl Ives. And I like putting up the old timey glass bulb lights like we used to do when I was a kid in Jersey. They were big, they were colorful, they were gaudy. In other words, they were perfect. The installation of the lights left a little bit to be desired.

We may have bent a few safety regulations putting them up. And by we I mean me, with my dad at the bottom of the 20 foot extension ladder that had already seen better days, yelling at me to be careful and don’t rip the gutters off the house as I dangled from the second story roof, some 25 feet above the ground. I am honestly misting up just thinking about it. Amazing what you miss sometimes. But man we laid down maximum effort at Christmas.

I recently went to a fall protection class at my current place of employment. Ladder safety was a huge topic obviously. The instructor probably had a complex by the end of the class because I could not stop giggling to myself as we went over all the OSHA, DOD, and DOE rules and regs governing the safe use of ladders. If any of those agencies had appeared on our lawn in the winters of 1975 through 90ish, they probably would have hauled us both off.

I don’t really have that issue here in Knoxville because the various roof sections are way too steep and I’m way too much of a coward now. Much more so than I was back in the 70s when men were men. But still I string my big bulb lights around the garage doors and the front door. I festoon the deck railing in back with my gaudy, go to hell 70s colored light bulbs. I even manage a few strands in the hedges out front.

It’s really a lot of fun, but that fun doesn’t come without effort. As it turns out age is directly proportional to effort. The older I get the less effort I feel like giving. Consequently the less effort I actual do give. But I dig Christmas so I was in need of a Christmas miracle of lights as it were. In steps my Neighbor Mike. Whilst curbing our new mutt, (to be covered in a later post), in the freezing cold of night, I glance up and see Mike’s house lit with a strange pattern of small red and green lights. I knew I was tired but it then appeared the lights changed pattern and then swirled around.

In between cusing and then admonishing the puppy/mutt to get on with his business, I ascertain Mike must have some sort of futuristic device generating his Christmas display. I must have this. After a quick text, he informs me the Kroger has them on the cheap. Well damn-it, I’ll be carrying myself down there the next day.

Can you not feel the Christmas in those lights?

Can you not feel the Christmas in those lights?

He was right. The Kroger had them. I went more on the cheap and got the stationary type. No patterns or motion, just straight up old fashion laser generated Christmas lights. And damn if they weren’t festive all to heck. Once more, it only required un-boxing them, jamming the steak in the ground at the desired position and plugging them in. That’s it. Done. In ten minutes I was lasering Christmas all over my house. And God said it was good.

Mrs Frank’s Place on the other hand…

She loathes it. With the passion and heat of a thousand Christmas candles does she hate it. My somewhat snarky, somewhat actual suggestion that she just avert her eyes while she was outside with the mutt in the freezing cold night went over like a fart in church. So, much like my parents who battled non-stop over the position of the thermostat, me and my betrothed duke it out over the plug, that’s right singular plug, required to power the two lasers in my front yard. One freaking plug, how can you not like that? It’s a Christmas mystery.

It would be easy to make all kinds of Christmas villain comparisons here, like the Grinch or Scrooge or the Heat Miser, but it is Christmas after all. So let us just say Mrs Frank’s place lacks the vision and desire for a better society when it comes to Christmas technology. Even the mutt liked the lasers. He only tried to pee on them once. And frankly the lights look good on him.

Christmas Milo rocking the

Christmas Milo rocking the “Laser”.

As I have explained, I am as old timey as they come when Christmas is involved. But I’m way more lazy than I am committed to tradition. One extension cord instead of my life flashing before my eyes as I hang helplessly from a ladder and gutters made in 1967?

Yeah I’m good with new and sexy over old and traditional.

Merry Christmas Eve eve people!