Monthly Archives: December 2009

Dad Of The Year

I thought I was in the running for Dad of the Year until this Florida trip. Now, granted, all but one of our kids live out of state, but that shouldn’t matter. For Sara, my middle child and oldest daughter, it was when we told her at Thanksgiving that we would be going to Florida and wouldn’t be around for Christmas. Her look, and her question “Where am I going to go for Christmas?” dropped me down on the list of Dad of the Year finalists.

Then came the Christmas gifts. We all like to think that our kids are still three or four years old, and we can’t wait for them to get up on Christmas morning, excited about what they might get. Since I won’t be near Matt, Sara or Anna for Christmas, I’m relegated to getting presents to them from a distance. It usually isn’t that difficult, and I send them via computer. I always get a list of things they want, sort it out with others in the family, and get them sent soon enough to get there before the big day.

Sara wants a ticket to San Francisco, but she won’t be able to go until her birthday, so I’ll get her ticket sometime before May. She just moved and I don’t have her address, so I couldn’t send anything to her anyway. Nothing for her to open Christmas morning and no family to be with. One more notch down the ladder.

Anna was good this year and sent me two or three links to things she wanted. They were all clothing, and Dads aren’t good at buying exactly the right things, so I opted for a gift certificate. I clicked on the link she sent me, went to gift certificates, clicked on add to my shopping cart, and it threw me out to Google with a message like “unable to find http:\\whatever” and suggested several other sites to visit. This happened two more times before I gave up. I sent her a check yesterday morning. Another notch down the ladder.

Matt sent quite a list, but most of the items were taken up by other family members. One of the items was a Costco gift certificate for a large purchase he was planning. I figured that would be safe, so I went to the Costco website. I added a gift certificate to my shopping cart and went directly to cash out. After I enetered much of the personal information, it said I needed to buy a membership to buy the gift certificate. I wasn’t ready to spend $50.00 to do that, so I backed out of the website, and now I’m getting spam from Costco. I sent him a check yesterday morning too. I hadn’t gotten a list from Heather, and planned a gift certificate for her too, but I didn’t want to choose the wrong place. I sent her a check yesterday as well. Two more quick notches lost.

Usually, when I send the kids cards for birthdays or Christmas with checks, I’ll send ones that charities send me, enticing me to send more money, or feel sorry for the poor person that made the card, also to make me send more money. I didn’t bring any of those with me, and I’m too cheap to buy cards, so I had to use plain paper. I didn’t bring any of that either, and we’re in a rental here in Florida, so I used the back of three flyers the sales office gave us along with the keys to our manufactured home. Yes, down even farther.

We’ll see Robert the day before Christmas and Rocky and Nina the day after Christmas, and I haven’t bought anything for any of them yet. I usually get them gift certificates too (do you think I’m in a rut?). Robert hasn’t given me a list and neither has Rocky. With the wedding coming up for Rocky and Nina, and Robert being a new college graduate (congratulations Robert), a gift certificate or money may be just the thing they need. I’m not sure whether that drops me down another notch or keeps me even. I’m sure it doesn’t raise me up any of the notches I’ve lost.

I was out of the Husband of the Year contest way back in January. I had the knee thing going on all summer and fall, so Tiger Woods beat me out of Athlete of the Year honors. But, with his recent escapades, I think I’m still above Tiger for Dad of the Year and Husband of the Year. At least I can beat him at something.

Just (Missing Another Friend From The Four O’Clock Round Table) Jack

I Broke It

We have been here less than a week and, already, I’ve broken the shower. On Saturday morning, after a lengthy walk, I jumped in the shower. Not literally, “jumped in”, but you know what I mean. Anyway, I let the water run for five minutes and never got anything close to warm water. The handle turned to the point where it normally is all the way open, then continued to turn, not very smoothly. Since I wasn’t getting any warm water, and I’m not inclined to take cold showers, I went to the other bathroom and took a shower there.

When I came back to the master bathroom, there was a half inch of water on the floor. I sopped it up as best I could with the bath mat, but it was still quite wet. I found another towel (white…not a good choice for cleaning the floor) and sopped up the rest. Jean came in, found a reddish pink towel, and we placed that against the spot where the water was coming out. It was the weekend, and we knew we couldn’t get hold of anyone in the office ’til Monday, so we used the second bathroom.

Later Saturday evening, after Robert and Danielle left, Jean went to use the bathroom and the door wouldn’t close. I looked, and the door jamb appeared to be made of pressed wood products, not just plain wood. When that stuff gets wet, it expands like an accordion. It expanded so much that the door couldn’t close all the way. You know me to be not very shy, but bathroom time should be private time. Even when I’m alone in the house, I always close the bathrrom door. Now what? We contacted the office on Monday mid morning. They got back to us later in the day and said they would send a guy from maintenance over to fix it. We waited around until 5:30 and, then, went out to dinner. Apparently the guy came at 5:31 and we weren’t here.

He came yesterday, looked at the problem, and was perplexed about where the water was coming from. I told him I thought it was going into the channel that runs along the molded base and, when it gets to the low spot in the corner, leaks out. He agreed and went back to get a hair dryer and some silicone caulk. He shaved off some of the extra thickness in the jamb so the door would close. I left to go to the pool (yes, I was able to swim with very little itching…hooray!!) and he came back and fixed it. I just went in to turn the water on to see how it works, and now it leaks out from the middle of the base, right before where the silicone caulk starts. Ugh!!

We got roped into being in a parade of golf carts Sunday evening, against my will. We were supposed to meet up with some friends from Hastings who live here now, but they had friends stop by and they had to cancel. That was fine with me. Jean went down to tell another friend from Hastings that we wouldn’t be using her golf cart and, when she came back, I found out we were still going and meeting up with someone from Canada that she just met. We went to meet up at 5:30 and the parade was to start at 6:00. A group of carts met in each of the five or six “villages” and were all riding around looking at Christmas decorations. We were all to meet at the Founders Hall for a Christmas party at 7:00.

What we didn’t realize was that our cart was the slowest in the whole complex. We stayed with the group on the turnarounds, but fell way behind on the straightaways. This went on for about 40 minutes until we got tired of holding everyone up that was behind us. We peeled off and went to the hall to wait. There were lots of people and we stood and talked to a woman from Wisconsin whose husband had gone back to the house ‘cuz they forgot their booze. Jean had a Gatorade bottle almost full of wine and I had a couple of beers. We sat with the Canada friends and the couple from Wisconsin, and talked most of the way through the show (the chorale was doing Christmas songs). We only got “shooshed” once by the people at the next table.

We’re meeting lots of people, many of them our age, and we like it around here. We haven’t found all the good restaurants yet, but we’re trying. Actually, Jean is trying. When we got here, we looked around and they have everything we might need except a frying pan. I was quite disappointed and Jean pretended to be put out, but the wheels in her head were turning and I could tell she was thinking “Thank goodness I don’t have to cook”. We spoiled her fun by buying a frying pan at WalMart yesterday. We need one at home, so we’ll just take it with us. Let me guess…Jean will come back from her morning workout with a sprained cooking wrist.

Just (Dinner Tonight At The Paradise Grill With Friends) Jack

In Florida

Well, we made it to Florida, all in one piece. We left Hastings at 3 PM on Tuesday after a couple of hospital board meetings. The coming storm was on its way and we seemed to stay just ahead of it. We only got as far as Anderson, Indiana where we stopped for the night. It was raining really hard and these old eyes just don’t see as well as they used to, so we thought it best to get a motel, get to bed early, and get an early start. We were both pretty wired, and we had brought a case of wine, packed on the bottom of course. Jean offered to crawl over everything to get to it. We could have opened the back, but it was raining so hard, we didn’t want to get drenched. We knew it was best to not get one out, so we didn’t.

We had a condo association meeting at our house Monday night, and it was somewhat stressful. I didn’t get to sleep until after 1 AM, and woke up at 6 AM with plenty of things to do, one of which was to turn in my resignation on the association board. To quote part of the letter, “I have always said that the pride and satisfaction of volunteering in a non-profit organization far outweighs the confrontation, criticism and second guessing about unimportant issues. I stand corrected.”

We left the next morning at 6, and fought rain and wind all morning. There was an accident on the ramp that goes from I-69 to I-465, so we crawled for 20 minutes or so. The rain wasn’t heavy but it came and went every few minutes. The crosswinds blew 30 or 40 mph with some higher gusts. We fought the steering wheel until we turned East at Nashville. Halfway between there and Chattanooga, the sun came out and it was quite pleasant. By the time we headed back South, the winds were calmer and the driving wasn’t so bad until we hit Atlanta. We hit downtown at 4:15, a bad time to be just passing through. There was an accident on one of the interstates going out to the West and that backed up traffic. After about 30 minutes of stop and go, we were back to smooth sailing.

We stayed in a small town in Georgia that had every train in the United States (or so it seemed) going through town in the middle of the night and blowing its whistle at every cross street. I was asleep by 9, tossed and turned until 3, and was wide awake from then until we left at 6. It was warm, somewhat breezy, and rained on and off until we got to Sebring. We decided to stop for a bathroom break about 30 miles up the road ‘cuz we knew we would have to take some time to check into the place and didn’t want to get caught in an uncomfortable position. Jean went in while I filled the car with gas, then it was my turn. Apparently, after all that driving, I was too dumb to get the light to turn on. I could get the fan going, but it must not have worked all that well ‘cuz it didn’t smell all that good. It was pitch black, so I didn’t dare try to guess where the toilet was and hope I didn’t go on the floor. Jean said she’d hold the door open a crack (no pun intended) so I could see, but it was noon and the area workers were lined up outside the door for Subways, so I skipped the pit stop.

We’re in a gated community that has an Avon Park address, but is closer to Sebring. We asked for directions to the nearest WalMart. Jean and I both listened, but neither of us got them right, so we stopped and asked for more directions. We never did get to WalMart, but stopped at a grocery store for a few supplies to tide us over. I remembered that you need to calm down, take a breath, and not be in a hurry to do anything down here. Everybody was in there, they had nothing else to do. The husbands (me included) pushed the carts, while the wives looked at every single item, making sure they got the best price. $104.72 later, we headed for our digs. I fired up the GPS, punched in our address, and it told us where to go. I’m sure it was the quickest route ‘cuz the voice kept telling us that. But it took us through a seedy (huge understatement) part of Sebring. There seemed to be a couple of “ladies of the evening” and a couple of guys who looked like either pimps, drug dealers, or both. It got us back, but next time I’ll second guess the route.

I know when I was in San Francisco I promised Heather I would practice using chopsticks before I came out the next time. Along those same lines, I knew that I should have practiced Florida driving techniques before I came down here, but I didn’t do that either. Everyone who comes down here should practice driving at least two miles with their blinker on and then, when you finally turn, turn the opposite direction. You should also practice driving in the far left lane of a three lane highway going 20 mph slower than all the other traffic ‘cuz you know you have to turn left five miles up the road. The third skill you need to sharpen is driving in the center lane of a busy street and then braking quickly ‘cuz you aren’t sure where the next grocery store is that’s handing out free food samples. There’s no need to practice turning left from the right lane and turning right from the left lane ‘cuz everybody does that and it soon becomes second nature.

I have to admit…it’s a heck of a lot nicer being here in 75 degree weather than being in Michigan, fighting the wind and cold, hoping for a day close to freezing. We took a bike ride this morning, driving in and out of all the streets in the complex. I never shifted the bike once, so you know it’s flat as a pancake. We stopped and watched a few people playing pickle ball. It’s kind of like tennis with a paddle instead of a racket, and it’s played with a whiffle ball instead of a tennis ball. I still don’t get the scoring, but that will come I’m sure. Robert should be here in a while, so we’ll try to bore him and his girlfriend all day with old people stuff that we think is interesting and they will think isn’t.

Just (Sitting By The Pool Writing This E-Mail) Jack