Family: Just a dinner table away.

A rare respite on a warm Saturday night. Seems so easy right now but I can’t for the life of me figure out why I don’t sit in the cul-de-sac and write more often. Girl is riding her scooter, Milo T Dog is at my feet, my long lost friend Diet Coke is losing it’s battle with the melting ice. We’re approaching some sort of Norman Rockwell worm hole.

Of course it’s not like the heyday of the Sac. Those were the lazy hazy nights, and some mornings, as we sat out in the darkness night-drinking, fixing American politics and Tennessee Football. That gang is gone now but we have to start anew at some point.

Americana in the South.

So today, at the precipice of the dog days of August, I decided was the day to take a seat and fire off something that’s been buzzing in my head since an old friend passed through town not too long ago.

I’m gonna ask your forgiveness for this obvious point, family is a great thing. A lot of you are aware I had a huge family growing up. And still do. Holidays were great. They still would be if not for the almost 700 miles separation between me and my family in Jersey. I love living in Knoxville but there are time’s I’d rather be in South Jersey. But it’s tough to complain. I’ve been spoiled my whole life. I grew up with seven brothers and sisters. My mom hasn’t skipped a beat and my father lived into his late 80s, sharp as a tack until the moment of truth.

I was born into another big family when we decided to settle in Knoxville and raise our kids there. Staying in the Sac has been one of the better decisions I’ve made. Lifelong friendships have been forged on those weekend nights in the street. But like all things, change is inevitable. Several Sac-ites have moved off, and now my forever Friday golf partner is moving to Arizona to run a church.

Honestly my first thought was how much I’d miss him. A millisecond later my next thought was how great the golfing in Arizona is and when am I slated to visit Amarillo for work again. Arizona is just a quick plane ride from the Panhandle. And I know John would be disappointed in me if I thought otherwise. And a big thanks to those of you who have reached out to check on me. I’m fine. And as John and I both agreed a long time ago, if one of us died on a Monday the other would still tee it up that Friday. And while I’m aware people will not believe this, it’s not the golf. The lunch at Soccer Taco after or the breakfast at Waffle House when we get rained out that makes the Friday meet up so enjoyable. Tough to quantify the last nine or so years breaking bread with the same dude every Friday.

And of course I lucked out again with my work family. New members are added almost daily it seems these days. And as the family “down the plant” gets bigger, and the lunch table more crowded, it keeps getting better. Like I said, spoiled rotten for as long as I can remember.

But the family roaming around my thoughts right now is my military family. Normally I’d say Air Force but now after 22 years in and almost nine retired, it occurred to me my military family not only spans different branches, it spans different countries. Hey Bernie, Go Les Habitants! I’ve been spoiled there too. Not just with great lifelong friendships but with great mentors.

I named four friends/mentors in the bio of this blog. Click on my name next to the link that says Home and you can read about them. A person could not dream up a better start to their military career than I had. That continued on during my time at the NCO Academy. I have no idea why I was granted such advantages, but I was and I’m a better person for it. I can’t imagine the giant ass I would have become without those family members in my life.

Well, yes I can.

Part of that family rolled through Knoxville a week or so ago and immediately extended an invite to dinner to catch up. I had not seen Chief Joseph E Thornell, or JET and his wife Kerry, in a long while. He was the commandant I served under the longest when I was an instructor at the NCO Academy. To this day I cannot call him Joe. Regardless of differences in opinion he will always be my commandant and will always be Chief to me. But more importantly he and Kerry will always be family.

house1

Birthday time for the then unknown Warden.

In Jersey my whole family spent hours around the dinning room table. That’s where life happened. Witness the birthday of my youngest sister. You may know her by her given name Kathleen. But those special few know her by her real name, The Warden.

That’s me wearing a white belt on November 30th. I was a fashion risk taker even back then. I’m also sub-consciously flipping the bird. The verbalization of that gesture has become the foundation of my vocabulary.

Anyway the point is family’s just don’t eat. They break bread. They commune. The commiserate. The food is so secondary. What’s special about that space in the picture is no matter how old we got, no matter how far we moved away,  when we came to visit we gathered there.

Last Friday I met Chief Thornell and Kerry and some other old friends from my Academy days and we sat ourselves down at the dinner table. Now that table was in Calhoun’s, a restaurant in Maryville TN, but dinner is where the food is.  And family is where the dinner is.

Chief JET

Sorry Chief, still can’t call you Joe.

It was like the years since we’d seen each other never happened. We told old war stories to be sure, but the bonds between all of us showed no signs of time or distance. It seemed to me as I drove home thinking about all of that and paying zero attention to the road, sorry lady at the Kroger intersection, real family is like that.

Time is different for family. Time doesn’t have the same impact, it doesn’t move in the same way. It’s not linear. Time in familial bonds happens all at the same time regardless of distance and frequency. And then time restarts when that family sits down to eat. In fact if it wasn’t for the gray, and or lack of, hair there would be no sign that time had passed between any of us.

The restaurant itself had changed over time. Chief was quick to point out we had all gone to a lunch in this joint way back when it was a Ruby Tuesdays. I remember it as the site where part of my family, who will remain anonymous, Hupp, Stoudt, and Kumes, bet I could not take down the deluxe ice cream cake sundae on the menu. It was the kind that came with four spoons. I said, “Remove the other three my good man as I will be doing desert alone this afternoon.” That was a situation where winning quickly became losing.

Chief Davidson

Chief Davidson on my right. Ramey on my left. Family.

It must be the dinner table. Maybe it’s a time machine that turns back the clock when family members gather round. Honestly the conversation wasn’t even that profound. But the visit with Chief JET and Chief Davidson, my last commandant, and some of the gang from the academy, left me with a feeling of wonder on the ride home. I have been spoiled with some great families in my life time.

Ironically this little weepy screed is the product of time. Surely my age has left me to take stock of my life lived so far. I’m only 50 so I have no designs on the big dirt nap yet. But enough time has passed to take stock of what life has been so far. And so far, no matter where I’ve lived or served, it’s been dinner tables and family.

As far as life goes, that’s not too shabby.

 

 

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Tales from the Tall Grass: Short Run on a Long Walk or Gooses Deuces

In honor of Championship Sunday at the Women’s US Open and on the eve of The Open Championship at Royal Troon in Scotland, I offer a short tale from some long grass for your reading pleasure. I’m conflicted, as the title might suggest, as to what I should call this one. Both me running on a golf course and goose poop on said same course, figure so prominently in this story I could not decide. So I went with both. Enjoy Short Run on a Long Walk or Gooses Deuces.

In case it’s not clear from a few of the pictures on this blog or my Facebook and Instagram accounts that I actually appear in, I’m not at what you would call fightin weight. I am working on it, at least on a part time basis. Well, seasonally might be a better word there. Yes I’m working on my physical health and fitness on a seasonal basis, much like a college kid in a department store at Christmas. Anyway, after twice being called out by, and ignoring, my 7yr old son that I need to exercise, I inadvertently got a real life lesson in my fitness, or lack there of.

Now it may seem like I’m projecting or flat out blaming others for what happened that one terrible day on the golf course, and that’s because I am. Months ago I downloaded the Amazon app to my phone. That app is the absolute devil in disguise, but that’s another story. The real story is while at lunch with John, my friend, counselor, Friday golf partner, you name it, I noticed he had all his wallet stuff attached to the back of his phone and no wallet in sight. He was too happy to tell me how this little stick on pocket on the back of his phone would change my life.

Curse you Amazon App!

Curse you Amazon App!

Cue the Amazon app. Not 10 minutes later mine was ordered and through the beauty of Amazon Prime, already on it’s way to my house. The pouch and it’s life changing adhesive pad was 4.99 American for two pouches; one white and one black. You know, for formal occasions. Two days later it was on my phone. The irony here is I had to use my web cam to take a picture of my camera phone. Yes I need to upgrade my web cam.

But still, you can see the glorious-ness that is the credit card pouch. I have abandoned my Castanza Wallet (see below) for good. It all comes in one convenient easy to carry thing-a-ma-bob. And that’s where the problem began on a fateful day at Deadhorse Lake Golf Club in Knoxville.

In case you missed it or was not following Frank’s Place back then, (for shame!!) I wrote a little expose about how in love I am with my phone. Read it here if you dare: Naked and Afraid: Two Hours at the Mall without my Phone.  It does everything. For the importance of this story, my phone serves as my scorecard and range finder when I play golf. So I have it in my hands almost as much as a golf club when I’m playing.

Castanza Wallet No More!

Castanza Wallet No More!

When I tried to put in our scores on the 9th hole the phone was not where it was supposed to be. Then in panic mode I could not find it anywhere in my bag. Crap! Damn you easy convenient Amazon sticky phone pouch! Now not only is my phone gone, but all the things are gone too. Military Retired ID, drivers license, Kroger discount card, not to mention my bank card, all gone. Egads! I have to find this freaking thing. So I start walking, then a quicker paced hurry. By the time I got back to the 8th green and didn’t see it I was in a full on sprint, you know as much as a 48 year old fat man can sprint. But it was continuous so I was getting cardio benefit.

At the 7th tee box I was still running and sweating. Mostly sweating. But my mind was still sharp although deaf to the calls from my playing partner standing by my bag at the 9th hole. Not sure what he was thinking as he saw me disappear over hill and dale and out of sight but it had to be funny.

Still my mind was working. It brought to me images of my bag falling over at the 5th green. Right! The wind pushed it over and I just picked it up without checking to see if everything was still in it. So off I go, running on the cart path back to the 5th green. Golf courses can be dangerous enough, but when you are moving in the opposite direction of play like I was, moving from 9 all the way to the 5th green, it can be a suicidal shooting gallery. So I figured it best to stay on the path instead of trying to navigate across fairways and greens.

Along the way the kind golfers I passed tested my fitness and aerobic condition by asking me questions as I trundled by. Appreciative as I was of their concern for my well being, I had no time to talk or air to waste. Somewhere out there was my phone/wallet.

Cresting the hill on the 6th tee box, what had been a search and recover mission turned into a full on quest. I would make it to the 5th green, on the run without stopping, or the heavens will fall.

Coming over the hill on the 5th fairway, now able to peer down to the 5th green, my spirit was torn asunder. No phone/wallet, at least that I could tell from about 200 yards out. But I soldiered on. Getting to the 5th green there was no sign of my wallet. Hmmm I wonder if those other gofers were trying to get my attention to tell me they had picked it up. So much for my mind working. About face. And I’m on the quick time again back up the 5th fairway.

Funny thing about golf courses, the hills run in both directions. By the 7th tee box, still running, I was seeing scenes of the after life. I always thought I might buy the farm right after hitting my first hole in one, or breaking par. Of course that would be the case, so I’d have no time to enjoy those events. But now it seemed for all the world my ticker would blow trying to run up the cart path at the 8th green and get back to my bag.

Secretly I had hoped John, my playing partner, went to get a golf cart to come rescue me. A blasphemy I know, we always walk when we play golf, but this was as desperate a time as there was. The golf gods would just have to understand. Descending to the 9th green and into a dark, now mile long run inducing delirium at the same time, I noticed John standing by my bag. In a moment of clarity I can see something in his hand. Could it be my wallet/phone! Huzzah! All is saved! But what is his other hand doing? His other hand appears to be pointing to my bag for some rea…. Oh crap.

Yep, I just ran a little over a mile to find my wallet/phone that was apparently in my bag the whole time. I panicked so quickly after doing just a cursory search in the bag that I looked right at the phone and completely missed it. John is pretty gracious. He explained where and how he found it and how he tried to summon me back. But it appeared I was on a mission so he just waited by my bag figuring I would return some day. Not much ball busting. But he did say something that caught me completely off guard.

“I dropped it in goose poop.”

Ah wut? On purpose?

“No. I dropped it and it fell in a pile of goose poop.”

Well I guess that’s the icing on the cake for this saga, if you’ll permit my strangling of a wholesome metaphor.

As I said, we walk when we play golf. Even in the blinding heat of a day like the day I lost/didn’t lose my phone. Charity tournaments and really expensive courses that won’t let you walk are the only times we are forced to ride. So week after week we essentially walk and carry our clubs 2 to 3 miles every time we play. That walk usually precipitates a hearty nap in the afternoon. Add in a mile long run in sweltering heat and another 9 holes to play you can imagine my afternoon slumber. Safe to say I felt like goose poop by the time we finished.

Golf: the struggle is real people.

 

 

Back to Work: Don’t they know it’s Masters Week?

So as y’all may or may not know, I went back to work in October of 2015. It’s been an adjustment for sure. Aside from leaving the kids I’ve been raising for six years in the hands of Mrs Frank’s Place, I had to learn new stuff. After all, these people are paying me. With American money no less. I feel obligated to at least learn my new job. So I started adjusting.

First there was the time thing. I went from thinking about getting up around 7am to bolting upright at 4:30am so I can shower and be rolling to the J.O.B. by 5am. Then there is the whole not staying up till 1 am anymore. It’s not like I didn’t foolishly try that. But I keep passing out around 9:30 in the pm. I mean what’s next, taking my place in line at the Shoney’s early bird dinner buffet trough. As I write this at 11:30 in the pm on a Friday night, I am struggling to stay awake. And that’s as I’m actually hitting the keys!

Of course there was driving again, in traffic, in the dark. I had forgotten about the skills, or more accurately the lack there of, Knoxvillians posses behind the wheel. Gas pedal on the right, fast lane on the left, lets get it straight people.

If that wasn’t enough, I had to adjust to working and playing nice with people again. Well, if I’m being honest, I never worked and played well. So it wasn’t so much adjusting again as it was initiating adjustment. And surprisingly it turns out people are pretty cool. In fact it may be the main source of satisfaction of the job. (Yes some of them read this.)

But as it turns out the largest adjustment would involve, not surprisingly, golf. Going back to work would mean an adjustment to my golfing. Although not as much as I had anticipated. One of the things that made this particular job attractive was the 4/10 schedule. Friday’s off! Golfing would be unharmed. Golf watching on the other hand…

C'mon Frank, keep practicing. I'll make this look good.

C’mon Frank, keep practicing. I’ll make this look good.

This would be the first time in 7 years I would not be home for Masters Week. I know! The horror right!? No scheduling would save that. I could watch the Drive, Chip, and Putt competition on Sunday but then would be radio silent until Friday. That would mean missing the player interviews on Monday and Tuesday, State of the Game speech by the Pres of Augusta National on Tuesday, the Par 3 contest on Wednesday, and the ceremonial tee shot and entire first round on Thursday.

I may have to quit. I mean, do they know it’s Masters week at work? Worse even, do they care? Not sure I could work with a bunch of godless golf heathens.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. Just take the week off. Look I’m an addict, but I ain’t stupid. No way I could justify taking 4 days off to sit around and watch golf. I can justify it in my mind all day long. But I don’t live alone. Burning my vacation for golf watchin may not be good politics currently. Someday…

No an adjustment had to be made. Since there is no way to watch a millisecond at work (Don’t they know it’s Masters Week?) DVR would be my friend. Well more like a step-sister I can’t stand really. I’ve never been one to watch live events on tape after I know the results. Also the advantages of DVR, mainly buzzing through commercials, is lost on The Masters. There are only two sponsors, usually AT&T and Coke. The commercials are very limited.

In 2003 Martha Burke and the National Organization of Women (NOW), protested Augusta National’s men only policy. To do that they targeted AT& T and Coke. Augusta responded by shielding it’s main sponsors by having no sponsors for that year’s Masters. You know what that meant? Yep, a commercial free telecast. Almost 12 hours of uninterrupted golf at The Masters. I’ve been a big Martha Burke fan ever since. My e-mails to her asking for another protest go unanswered to this day.

But if that little episode doesn’t make you love The Masters then I imagine you must be a communist. Augusta National literally said, “We don’t need outside money to run the biggest tournament in the history of the sport. Watch if you want or don’t, but we still playin golf.” It’s one of the endearing aspects of The Masters. Meanwhile The Masters has expanded to Sunday to Sunday coverage and an app that shows the entire week including a live camera on the driving range. Martha Burke on the other hand… She Gone.

So no buzzing through commercials and I already know who won the Par 3 contest. Alas better than nothing. Plus I did have a floating holiday to spend, so I was home on a rare Thursday to watch the broadcast on ESPN and the 3 live streams on themasters.org. Yes 4. And yes I had a monitor going for each one. Peep a little glimpse of golfing greatness.

The struggle people, it is real.

The struggle people, it is real.

Yeah that’s my setup. I ain’t ashamed. We all need a hobby. But now I have a J.O.B. too. So I’ll have to adjust. Maybe not for too long though. Presidential candidate John Kasich, Republican Governor of Ohio, has offered that the Monday after the Super Bowl should be a national holiday. He now has my vote.

I mean how long before Master’s Week is declared a National Week of Jubilee?

 

 

 

Snowmageddon: Aunt Jemimah, Golf, and Pat Summit to the Rescue!

Well look at that, two weeks in a row. I’m on a roll now. And I can say that, and write this particular post, because I’m not usually superstitious. Plus I’m fairly confident winter has come and gone, so talking about the past snowmageddon and my latest writers block doesn’t feel near as dangerous. At this point I would encourage all of you who live above the Mason-Dixon to get it out of your systems. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. The constant, “That ain’t snow, you want to see snow you need to come here.”, “Do you even own a shovel?” “That’s just a dusting up here boy!”

Yeah all that. Get it out and get over it already. If you flat-landers lived here you would pee your pants the first time you had to take a hairpin curve on a hillside that has no guard rail and anywhere from a 10 to 50 foot drop with untreated snow and ice covered roads. I grew up in Jersey. I lived through 3ft of snow. Guess what, roads there are flat and straight. Ain’t so down here. Exhibit A:

Ain't your daddy's tow truck.

Ain’t your daddy’s tow truck.

See this cat here. He’s trying not to slide off the road and into a 15 foot ditch. Cause if he starts toward the edge they’ll be no saving him. You are seeing the only straight, flat piece of road on my entire drive to and from work. Anyway, this isn’t about our southern inferiority complex with snowy roads. This post is really about being trapped inside with kids during whatever snomageddon means to you. And, if you’ll pardon my double negative, I don’t know anyone who can’t relate to that.

During this most recent snowpocolypse I had some unlikely saviors.

Like most places when the threat of snow is broadcast to and fro by every news outlet in existence one thing will absolutely happen without fail. The Kroger will be covered up, as they say. Sadly for me lately, these apocalyptic forecasts have come on the weekend. Meaning snow for Sunday night into Monday morning.

Why is that sad? Well I normally do my grocery shopping on Sundays. You know what that means. Yeah, I look like every other schmo just trying to get eggs, milk, and bread to survive the upcoming end of the world. As hard as I try, and I do try, it’s impossible to make people believe it’s just your normal shopping day. Especially if you actually need milk, bread and eggs. I’ve stopped fighting it. I just accept my label and get on with my shopping.

It does thin out once you get to the sundries like laundry soap and away from must have survival stuffs like bread. And I have no idea why those three staples are considered to be mother’s milk when it comes to survival food. But they are. Although one day I was getting gas at the Weigles and heard a fine southern gent remark that it might snow tomorrow so he “…best git his smokes, beer n scratch offs.” Now there is a man with his priorities in order. Not sure what the winning scratch off will get him if he can’t get out to cash it in for more smokes, but hey who am I to judge. I grocery shop on Sunday’s and that apparently makes me a storm prepper.

Well not this time sister. No way. When the last forecast came up for an avalanche of snow I was defiant. We have plenty, no need to get to the store this Sunday, my normal grocery day. I will not trudge the aisles grabbing up every last piece of gluten soaked food stuffs like the unwashed who only shop there cause the local weather guy told them to. Nope not me.

We actually got some snow. Work let out early, I was off the next day and that meant the kids would be out of school the rest of the month. Well it felt like that anyway. But they missed the rest of the week and had a huge long weekend. Now I was in a jam. By Saturday there was nothing really ready made to eat. They were tired of pancakes and frozen waffles. They wanted biscuits. Well we didn’t have any biscuits. But the natives were getting restless and they had been laying about the house in some manner or another for a few days. So I decided we would make biscuits together.

No flour.

Well balls. Now what? I’m sure not letting them know we have no biscuits and no flour because I was the only numb-skull who didn’t go to the Kroger and thus unprepared for an extended stay in the house with growing kids. In steps Aunt Jemimah and her ready made pancake mix. Looks like flour, feels like flour, it probably bears some chemical resemblance to flour. Might even share an electron or two. So a little water and a slam in some sugar and we’re makin biscuit dough. How bad could it turn out? If we jack it up all we’ve done is make some small cylindrical pancake type ingots. And those sound good all by themselves.

But the little varmints want round ones, just like from the store. Believe it or not I don’t posses anything that would give me the shape and size I need to make biscuits. For shame, I know but it’s the truth. But I was saved. Saved by the greatest game ever invented and the greatest basketball coach in history, ever.

Only the greatest Coach in history would have goblets shaped perfectly for biscuit cutting.

Perfect.

Golf is not just a sport, it’s a life teaching tool the depths of which have yet to be plumbed. When ticking off the myriad of life instances where golf has been helpful you can add biscuit making to that list.

Whilst helping my fellow man by playing in a charity tournament hosted by Pat Summitt, head coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols, I dropped a perfect 8 iron some 5 inches from the cup, not once but twice. For my silty efforts I was awarded two sets of faux crystal goblets engraved with Pat Summitt’s name. Pretty freaking awesome if I do say so myself. And I do.

Now I’m not a wine drinker, or drinker of any type for that matter, so they sat on a shelf gathering dust. Until that one fateful moment when I needed a biscuit cutter. Turns out the opening of these major awards are the perfect size for home made biscuits. Only the winning-est coach in all of basketball would make wine glasses with the perfect opening and then award those glasses for golf feats yet to be equaled.

(Yes folks, it’s been a long winter and I’ve been in a bit of a writer block type thing so just go with it.)
It's  a Major Award!

It’s a Major Award!

In case you can’t see, let me give you a close up. Breathtaking I know. I have four of them. And they came in handy, for at least half a day anyway. The final result? Well I just let junior tell you what he thought of the home-madeness of them there biscuits. Pic below.

If you were not aware, that is not an easy kid to please. His sister would happily eat from a garbage can. Frank’s pallet is a bit more refined. He turns his nose up at pizza if it’s too cheesy. Yeah you read that right. So to get the big thumbs up from him over something I made from scratch, well that almost rivals winning those fancy drinking cups from Pat Summitt. Almost.

Be sure to get that on Yelp bro.

Be sure to get that on Yelp bro.

Did I mention she gave them to me herself, shook my hand and everything.

So thanks to Pat, and Aunt Jemimah, we survived snowmageddon 2016.

And I can shop on Sundays again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey Frank: It’s Masters Sunday!

Aside from two major holidays, Christmas and Easter, there is no more hollowed week in this house than Masters Week.

That’s golf by the way.

For a golf fan Masters Week is the Super Bowl but without the two weeks of media redundancy leading to the actual event. The Masters competition starts on Thursday and ends today, there is the par three competition on Wednesday and State of the Game address on Tuesday, with an opening tee shot by Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Jack Nicklaus starting things off early Monday morning.

This year a new event has been added to the “Tradition unlike any other.”

Masters Week now starts off on Sunday with the Drive, Chip, & Putt contest. Think punt pass and kick. Regional winners from across the country, ages 7 – 14, come to Augusta National to compete for the championship in their age group. All 4 hours was televised on the Golf Channel. Guess where I was last Sunday.

At 8:00am I settled into my office chair, propped my feet up and watched little kids, boys and girls, hit their drivers 250-300 yards. Clearly poisoned by the steroid ear of baseball, those kids must be on the juice.

Anyway, my 2yr old daughter waddled in, said GOLF! and climbed into my lap. It was shaping up to be a good Sunday morning.

Well for a bit anyway.

Out of no where my beautiful bride appears asking, “Are you taking Frank golfing?”

Crazy at it sounds I had no plans to golf that day or take Frank.

“Well he just gave me detailed “constructions” on how I was to watch after Anne Marie while you two went golfing. He’s in his room getting dressed, polo shirt and all.”

OK then I guess we’re going golfing.

It’s no secret I am trying to get Frank hooked on golf. I have no delusions about watching him compete in the Drive, Chip, and Putt competition at the Masters. Besides each competitor can only bring one chaperone, and I know he would pick his mother.

No, I’m just trying to cultivate some playing partners for the next 15-30 years. The Masters would just be a sweet bonus.

But for real, how awesome would I look in the white coveralls each caddy must wear during competition, toting Frank’s clubs as he comes down the back nine on Sunday at Augusta?

Back to realty. We’re dressed and hauling the mail to the Par 3 course about 5 miles up the road. Then off to the driving range at our home course to put in some work.

Peep the skills of my 4yr old.

New Tee boxes at the Par 3. Old boxes couldn't contain him. The course has been Frankified!

New Tee boxes at the Par 3. Old boxes couldn’t contain him. The course has been Frankified!

Posture getting a little closed. Trying to really pound this one.

Posture getting a little closed. Trying to really pound this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going for the green in one.

Going for the green in one.

His first ever par putt.

His first ever par putt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chasing greatness can be a lonely business. The great ones put in the work after everyone else goes home.

I’m just taking pictures and eating a hotdog I had actually bought for Frank, he’s doing all the work. Keep working Frank, still got some chips to eat!

It’s hard to see but he’s throwing the balls around the chipping green and chipping them until they go in. The beauty of golf, he stops to watch a flock of birds fly over. Do that on a soccer field and you might take one in the onions.

All that work leads to the payoff, imitating a move he saw in a dopey Adam Sandler golf movie.

Enjoy Masters Sunday!

 

 

 

Diary of a SAHD: Parenting issues activist? Eh… no thanks.

I think anyone who writes and puts it out there to the general public feels uneasy or nervous or insecure. With the blog I’m generally not that way. I write what I write, don’t apologize for it, figuring if you don’t like it then don’t read it. If someone else wants to publish a post of mine then the nerves kick up a bit. Generally though I’m not worried about what anyone thinks about what I write. These stories are more for me than you all anyway, although I’m glad you enjoy them and I appreciate everyone who clicks and reads and comments.

But I have always wondered if I went the wrong way with this blog. Honestly I never expected so many would be reading this. I know these stories are funny, but I also thought they’d probably only be funny to me. I’m not sure I should be glad or frightened for humanity that so many of you have a similar sense of humor to mine.

As I encounter more dad bloggers in my travels throughout the internet it occurs to me that I never get into discussing parenting or parenting issues. A lot of dads write about that stuff. In fact most, if not all, of the dad bloggers I have seen write about stuff like that in some way or another. And some of them have huge followings, like numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

So I worried. Did I go the wrong way making this such a personal blog? Should I be out there advocating for dads and then writing about it here? Should I be worried about the public’s perception of stay at home dads, trying to combat it at every turn? Should I be giving out parenting tips, do’s and don’ts lists about rasing kids, or best practices that have worked for me as a dad?

If you’re playing the home version, the answers are in order: no, no way, no, and ye…ah…no.

Yeah I worried, but only for a few seconds. Turns out I’m way too arrogant and lazy for any of that crap.

Advocacy takes work. You know, you have to research stuff, look up facts and stats and quotes and on and on. I’m tired from just typing that sentence. Mocking advocates is so much easier as it requires no facts what ever. Plus it’s just much more fun.

The bigger issue, apathy. I really don’t care if Huggies makes an ad that doesn’t feature dads or pokes fun at dads. I mean that’s a device that collects poop. Why would I care what they think about dads. Add to that the fact my daughter can’t handle the chemicals in Pampers Baby Dry, so we buy her…wait for it…Huggies Natural. If I need diapers does it really matter that Huggies markets to their biggest customers, in this case moms. Answer, no it doesn’t, I’m still buying them.

Do I care what ads Procter and Gamble are running during the Olympics? No. I’m down for 16 days of curling and I care not one wit if Procter and Gamble or any other advertiser doesn’t specifically include me or other SHADs in their concepts for commercials. To be honest I have no idea what products P&G even makes so I’m probably supporting the enemy without knowing it. And yet my life surprisingly goes on unabated.

Am I kerfuffled by a zoo that marks out a space to take a break and calls it Mom’s Cove or that they provide a space for moms to breast feed? First of all I don’t get kerfuffled. Secondly who the hell has the kind of time to get worked up over that? Besides I’m too busy trying to figure out how to whoop my kid at light-sabres on the Wii.

A Jedi's power flows through the binker.

A Jedi’s power flows through the binker.

I mean it’s not like he’s an expert Jedi or anything. No, Frank’s light-saber fighting style is more like an epileptic getting electrocuted. So the one controller moving the light-saber and the other using his force powers are going one hundred miles per hour. Although that’s an unofficial speed as I have not calibrated my radar gun in a while. Regardless, I have absolutely no chance. I must figure this out and whoop him and I can’t be wastin my limited brain capacity on deep issues. The bigger issue is Frank is not a gracious winner and it’ll be a few months before I can get him on the golf course to take him down a notch or two. (Man I know I’m gonna get angry e-mails from people that have been electrocuted. Ah well, that’s the price of fame. franknfran0967@gmail.com)

Anyway, apparently there is a cadre of moms out there shooting dismissive, laser like, looks at dads who come to the park. I’m usually way too oblivious of people around me to ascertain if they are giving me looks. I also live in a great neighborhood and the moms in The Sac treat me like one of the gang. I’m a bit more of a Gossipy Gertrude than they are but they’re still pretty cool. So no I don’t understand the ‘cold shoulder at the park’ complaints a lot of dads write about. Again, I’m way too arrogant, or self assured if you like, to be phased by that.

Ultimately it comes to this; aside from my smart-alec responses before, the real issue is the mission. Caring for the well being of my two kids is the mission.

On that score I’m laser focused.

I can’t think of a time in my life where that ideal was not drummed into me either directly or by example. My parents and seven brothers and sisters all model the axiom  ‘What other people do has no bearing on me until it does.’

Of course the military lives on the mantra of the mission, and for good and obvious reasons. On the flight line early in my military career that was drummed into me by some great men. It’s the mission stupid. Figure out the mission and whatever isn’t the mission isn’t important. When I arrived as a new instructor at the NCO Academy I found there was a lesson in the curriculum addressing this very issue.

So apathy is part of why I don’t take up the banner of dad issues and the slighting there of. But at the end of the day, commercials, crossed eyed looks from moms at the park, spots at the zoo marked Mom’s Cove, have no impact on the mission and in my opinion don’t warrant my attention.

Let me say God bless the guys out there fighting the fight. I’m not sure what the exit strategy is, but they must because they all seem very good at what they’re doing. They have been blessed, unlike me, with the ability to de several things well at the same time, to include writing great blogs. But as for me and my house, we shall focus solely on the mission. As myopic as that might be.

Kids bring their own problems, I don’t have the time or energy or the brain pan size for what appears to me to be manufactured problems.

So we shall continue with dopey stories about how my kids terrorize and amaze me, sometimes simultaneously.

Here endeth the wasting of brain cells.

Now where’s my light-sabre?

Diary of a SAHD: Beach Travel Time – a new standard of measure

The hoarder on the long  voyage to a land far far away.

The hoarder on the long voyage to a land far far away.

I may have mentioned a time or two our beach trip back in August. Read here if you dare: Toll Booths, Traffic Jams and Torrential Rain. A good time was had by all but it was a long drive to and from. I mean looooooong. Turns out it was so long some of us have not fully returned yet and because of that we have to recalibrate how we describe time as it relates to travel in the car.

Anyone who has ever taken a beach trip knows you’ll be finding beach sand for weeks in all kinds of places. Usually the biggest spot is the car, but it turns up in shoes, clothes, luggage, etc… It’s like bringing a little bit of the beach back with you. Actually it is bringing the beach back with you, but I was talking more the spirit of the trip. So every time you dump out a canvas bag full of clothes you found in a closet somewhere and a pound or two of sand hits the deck you get to take a little trip down memory lane.

Well it’s mid December, the trip was the end of August and Frank is still finding piles of metaphorical sand. His sand comes in the form of trips in the car. As I said the ride to and from Jersey is long. I had no Idea it was so long that Frank would now apply that distance to every trip we take. When we got to Maryland on the way to the beach Frank declared “The beach is too far away and I want to go home.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him we were two hours from Jersey and more than ten hours from home.

So worried about another long car ride, now whenever we go anywhere he asks, “Is ____ as far away as the beach?” It matters not where we are going.

His school is 1.3 miles from our driveway, Kroger is 2.1, the golf course we play most is 5.something, and every time we mount up to go to anyone of these places I get, “Is school as far away as….” He mixes it up too. Once in a while he won’t ask that before we go, he’ll just point it out once we’ve arrived. “That was as far as the beach.” No Frank, Kroger is not as far as the beach.

Hobo sleeping - it's what he does best

Hobo sleeping – it’s what he does best

He just went to Dollywood with his Aunt, Uncle and three cousins. That’s about an hour from here. I’ve not heard if he introduced them to his new space time continuum. He must not have because I think they would have mentioned it. Plus he was asleep before they got to the car for the ride home and he never woke up as I undressed and then dressed him for bed. The kid gets his snooze time.

We just walked our Sac putting Christmas cards in neighbor’s mailboxes. One box was around the corner and down the road a bit. Frank says, “Daddy that’s a long way.”

“Don’t say it Frank.”

“Daddy that’s as far as the beach.”

Although not so far as to keep him from running the entire way to the mailbox and then back to the house. All of a sudden it was as far away as the beach for me and I felt like I was running in sand. May be time for a fitness blog.

Anyway.

Of all the memories I would have liked him to bring back from the beach, the mind numbingly long car ride was not one of them. I mean he still remembers the hole in one he dropped on me at the miniature golf course. He clearly remembers me getting hit in the face with two blasts from a water cannon when our shots on 18 missed the mark. An event he brings up often, although he leaves out the part about one of those blasts being meant for him. Speed kills but short stays dry I guess.

Unfortunately the memory permanently saved to his hard drive is the long ride to the beach.

I’m not sure the people at The Kroger realize how far away their store has become when measured on beach travel time or BTT.

I can’t wait to see how he reacts to the two hour plane ride next year.