Friday, March 21, 2008


Ah, brilliant!

Thank you all exceedingly. We can't wait to get out and strut. See you all this weekend! I'll respond to you all soon!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Easter Parade

Hi ya, Gang!

My dear gal was most insistent that she be properly escorted to this gala event – and who better for that task than yours truly?

And as long as you all are helping her choose just the right Easter Bonnet, perhaps you can help me as well.

I’m stuck on these four:

Here’s a dapper twist on a classic look: an extra bit of tweak on the brim, and that dashing gray . . .

Here’s the reverse of the first, complete with accessories . . .

My wife’s personal favorite for me. (Is she trying to tell me something?)

And of course, The Classic.

By the way, I’ve been told I bear a remarkable resemblance to this man.

Does anybody know who he is?

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I’m Thankful

We walk up to the checkout stand with our cart full of food – and I realize I left the checkbook at home.

“Oops!” I smile sheepishly at my patient wife, and race out the door toward home.

At the edge of the parking lot with her sign, that woman is there again, with her now familiar long scraggly hair, one bad eye, and a nice smile. I’m not sure she knows she’s smiling. Suddenly, I’m a bit annoyed. My dad and I gave you gloves and socks last Christmas, I recall. That was a long time ago. Now I’m really annoyed. Angry, even. Why are you still here?

No, I say to myself, just let it go. You’re not thinking nice. Just let it go.

Well, wait, I say. You’re REALLY angry! What’s that about? Let’s mull this over for a moment.

So I begin to assess the situation critically. Then I notice my car. Or in truth, the car I was driving. A beautiful four-seater, still the nicest car I’ve ever owned. Only, I DIDN’T own it. Some dear friends at church, who’d only known us a short time, showed up at our door the very day I turned our only car into the junk yard – and lent us this one. “But I have no idea when I’ll be able to get my own!” I tried. “No problem,” they smiled. We had it for almost a year.

Then I remember the house we’d lived in just prior to the one that now held my checkbook. Again, we didn’t own it. The two ladies who did were going to be away for several months before moving in. My mom was their realtor, and Nancy and I had just moved in temporarily with my parents as we prepared to settle in the area. The ladies asked my mom, “Do you know anyone who’d like to live in our house while we’re gone – for free?” Did she ever! We were there for four months. It’s still the biggest house we’ve ever lived in.

When I get home for my checkbook, I remember the woman, but not my anger. I grab my checkbook and something else…

I pull back into the parking lot, and walk over to the lady. I hand her a shopping bag, stuffed full of everything I could find that she might be able to eat for a while. “I hope this helps.” She smiles at me, whether or not she knows why. I smile back, and I know exactly why.

Because I’m thankful.

Monday, March 17, 2008

When Irish Eyes are Smiling


This was one of my Father's favorite Irish Tunes

There's a tear in your eye,
And I'm wondering why,
For it never should be there at all.
With such pow'r in your smile,
Sure a stone you'd beguile,
So there's never a teardrop should fall.
When your sweet lilting laughter's
Like some fairy song,
And your eyes twinkle bright as can be;
You should laugh all the while
And all other times smile,
And now, smile a smile for me.

When Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, 'tis like the morn in Spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter
You can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy,
All the world seems bright and gay.
And when Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, they steal your heart away.

For your smile is a part
Of the love in your heart,
And it makes even sunshine more bright.
Like the linnet's sweet song,
Crooning all the day long,
Comes your laughter and light.
For the springtime of life
Is the sweetest of all
There is ne'er a real care or regret;
And while springtime is ours
Throughout all of youth's hours,
Let us smile each chance we get.

When Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, 'tis like the morn in Spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter
You can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy,
All the world seems bright and gay.
And when Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, they steal your heart away.

My Irish dad loved the fact that he was born on St. Patty's Day. Dad, we're all singing this with you today, along with Happy Birthday. I'm sure the angels are singing with you also -- I wonder if they're wearing green? If not, no pinching!


Friday, March 14, 2008

All I Really Need to Know About Marriage I Learned from My Chiropractor

You never know where you’ll find life’s wisdom. But for marriage advice, I do know a great source: my friendly neighborhood chiropractor.

I’ve picked up some real gems over the years from a couple of these smart ladies. Here are my favorites:

The Top Three Chiropractic Marriage Tips

Tip #3: Straighten up.
When I deal with my back, I don’t look like a slouch. And when I deal with my stuff, I don’t act like a slouch. My wife digs that.

Tip #2: Learn to give a great massage.
Flowers are always a good idea, but once you’ve learned the basics of the backrub, you’re a keeper.

Tip #1: Let your wife have her way.
“As I watch and listen to clients,” she told us at one visit, “I’ve noticed this: in the happiest marriages, the husband lets the wife have her way.”
After 18 years of marriage, I know she’s right. My wife not only knows what’s best for her, but what’s best for us. When I listen, we succeed. We both dig that.

And I guess that’s what finding life’s wisdom is all about.

Have a great weekend . . .

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mirror, Mirror, Off the Wall – Part 2

At last (the Husband believes), The Wife – his Wife – has a beautiful, large French Mirror with which to adorn her wall, and further France-ify her room, and check both her hair AND her outfit. Together. At the same time.

But this Mirror will never make it to the wall. Because it’s not about The Mirror: it’s about The Frame.

They arrive home at dinnertime. “Oh, I’m starving,” she says. It’s been a long day. He leans The Mirror against the wall. Clearly, she doesn’t want to deal with it till later.

“No problem,” he replies. “I’ll make dinner tonight.”

“Thank you,” she sighs wearily. The Hunt is always draining. “But could you bring The Mirror in here? Just so I can see it.” He does, then heads for the kitchen. Then:

“Can you bring me the glass cleaner and a rag?” she asks.

“Uh,” he begins, “I thought you said –“

“I just want to clean it up a bit. Just real quick,” she explains.

"OK, sure,” he says, bringing her the items, then heading back for the kitchen, still not clueing in.

“And a screwdriver.”

Now he gets it. It’s no longer dinnertime: it’s Project Night.


After quickly going through the motions of “cleaning The Mirror,” she flips it over, face down on the carpet, cleaning rag cast aside, glass cleaner pushed under the table, hunger forgotten. She grabs the screwdriver. Like a one-woman pit crew, she deftly works her way around all four sides, prying up rusty nails and old staples. One of them snaps. “Pliers,” she says. “You get the bad ones.” And without breaking stride, she moves to the next fastener, while The Husband, the rookie, has at it.

“No, no, no,” she says immediately, “you’re doing it wrong, you’re gonna lose it.”

“No, I’m not,” he assures her. “I’ve done this a million times. I’m a guy.”

“You’re gonna –“ the pliers slip off, and he nearly knocks her in the teeth.

“– lose it,” she glares.

He hands her the pliers. She pulls out the shard.

In moments, the backing is freed and removed. She picks up The Frame, turning it over and around, eyeing it thoroughly. “Oh, yeah,” she says, “it’s in great shape.”

The Husband picks up the backing.

“You can toss that,” she says, not even looking at it.

“But how will you support the mirror?” he says, still not clueing in.

“The what?”

Now he gets it. The Mirror will never again reflect a human face. It is now referred to only as “the glass.” It will spend eternity in the garage. Or, on trash day, it will . . . (the poor thing: I can’t even say it.)

Meanwhile, back in the house. A few turns around the room, some re-arranged furniture and relocated wall hangings, and The Frame has found a home.

“What do you think?” she asks.

“Gorgeous,” he responds admiringly, once again. “I had my doubts, but you certainly know what you’re doing.”

“I told you,” she reminds him simply, once again. “Oh, I’m starving,” she says.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mirror, Mirror, Off the Wall: Part 1

This work of art adorns our bedroom wall:

I call it simply, The Print.

As we lay in bed gazing at it, our recurring conversation always goes like this:

NANCY: Is that not gorgeous, or what?

BILL: It’s one of the most beautiful and magical prints I’ve ever seen. Look at the detail in those linens!

NANCY: I was talking about The Frame.

BILL: Oh, that’s right. I forgot.

THE FRAME: Yeah, baby!

THE PRINT: *sigh*

I do feel bad for The Print. But it could be worse: The Print could be a Mirror . . .

The Setting:
A local antique store
The Characters:
The Wife, Nancy “The Artist All the Time” Burns
The Husband, Bill “I Thought You Said They Had Free Snacks Here” Burns
The Prop:
A large framed mirror, referred to as The Hunted
The Situation:
The Hunt

The couple enters the building. The Wife’s smile and friendly greeting to the clerk expertly camouflage the intensity of her mission, while her trained eye immediately assesses all, not missing a single element. If you listen closely, you can just pick up the theme from Mission Impossible.

Meanwhile, The Husband has located and begun leafing through a small scientific booklet from early last century, titled Why Not Eat Bugs? (this really happened).

“Instead of filling our fields with destructive chemicals which wreak destruction upon flora, fauna and animals alike for the purpose of hindering what we call insect pests from devouring our crops, we ought instead to spend our mornings as so many tribal peoples do, strolling through those same crops, picking off the juicy, nutritious, crawling larvae one by one and ingesting them, as we often do with a fresh juicy tomato . . .” (from The Small Scientific Booklet)

Fascinating, The Husband muses. Let’s see: a Starbuck’s Double Chocolate Marble Macchiato grande with Danish, or live worms. Hmm…

Beep beep, beep beep – only moments later, the Wife-Fi Wireless signal sounds in his head, and he immediately kicks in to Back-up Mode.

“I’m on my way,” he says into his wristwatch comlink device. (Or, would, if he had one.)

He finds her in one of the countless tiny stalls in the giant maze of the place. The Hunted is displayed helplessly against a large brown wing-back chair, and has, of course, already been searched and questioned thoroughly. How ever well hidden, nobody escapes The Determinator. Nobody.

The Husband begins the exchange. “What have we got?” he asks, professionally and detachedly.

In her practiced way, perfected on so many other Hunteds, The Wife provides the details.
“Well, it’s a bit ghosted in the upper right, we’ve got some chips on the lower edge, looks like someone scratched it during shipping, a few dings on the corners, that’s to be expected with age, so I’m thinkin’ mid, late 1800s. And it’s definitely French.”

“Uh, huh,” replies The Husband, still professional and detached.

Then The Wife looks up at The Husband, and she is transformed. Her eyes, her face, her voice shine at him. “Isn’t it beautiful?” she breathes.

“Yes,” is all The Husband can say. “You are. I mean, it is, yeah.”

“It’s perfect,” she adds. “I love it.” (Code for: Hunt Successful, Target Secured.)

“Great,” he closes. “Let’s move out.”

And they do, to the register and then to home. At last, The Husband muses contentedly, The Wife – MY Wife – will adorn her wall with the beautiful large French mirror she’s always wanted.

He smiles. Mission accomplished, he thinks.

But he’s wrong . . .

More next time!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My Dad

This past Thursday, February 28th, my Dad passed away peacefully at home from complications due to Parkinson’s disease.

Thank you so much to all of you who left Nancy and I notes of sympathy, encouragement, and love. I’ll respond to each of you as soon as I can. The responses from all of you, and from so many friends and relatives, was an incredible blessing. Although I can’t begin to imagine how it’s going to feel when I really understand that he’s gone, the comfort that was poured out on us by family and friends gave us the sense of being snuggled up together in a great big, warm blanket. It made all the difference in the world.

As a grown man now myself, there are two primary ideas that I try to live by: care for family, and care for others. I learned those from my Dad.

When I was about 10 years old, my two younger sisters and I auditioned for a local production of Alice in Wonderland. The director had assigned roles to a number of us, handed us scripts, and placed us up on stage to begin reading our parts in turn. My youngest sister stood a little ways off to my right. She was 6 or 7 years old. The rest of the room offstage was filled with the other hopefuls and all of our parents.

Just as the first reader in the scene began speaking, I heard a girl next to my sister ask my sister what role she had. My sister told her, “The 10 of Hearts.” But the girl immediately said, “No, no, I’M the 10 of Hearts.” A chill went through me, and apparently went through my sister as well, and she began to cry, and the reading stopped. I stood there holding my script, ready to perform, frozen, feeling like the whole place was watching us, waiting to see what I was going to do. I didn’t know what to do, so I just stood there. Then from all the way in the back of the room, I saw someone walking up the center aisle toward us: it was my Dad. He calmly came up on stage, gently picked up my sister in his arms, carried her offstage all the way to the back of the room, and sat down with her. I was in complete turmoil, but as my Dad turned back toward us, I saw his face. There was no turmoil, or embarrassment or anything. He just held my still-crying sister, and waited for the audition to continue as if everything was just fine. I had had no idea what to do, but my Dad knew exactly what to do, and he did it perfectly. And at that moment, my Dad became my hero.

During those same years, our family and a number of friends spent two weeks every summer at Lake Michigan. One afternoon, a bunch of us kids were playing together, when another kid, a stranger, came up to us. He was short, with too many freckles, and bright curly red hair. For some reason, I, as the oldest, decided “we” didn’t like him, so I snubbed him and led my little group away, leaving him all by himself, and promptly forgot all about him.

But a day or so later, all of us kids were playing in the lake with my uncle and my Dad, and that kid showed up again. He was just standing around, annoying me once more. But then my Dad saw him. And without a moment’s hesitation, and without consulting ME, he smiled at the kid and said, “Would you like to play with us?” Of course, the kid burst into a big grin, nodded his head and came running in to join us. I was frozen once again, but this time with the full realization of what a complete jerk I had been. I still remember exactly where I was standing in that lake, with the cold water up to my knees, feeling like the Grinch who stole Christmas, standing with his Grinch feet ice-cold in the snow, when he realized what a complete jerk HE had been. And something inside me said, I will never do that again. From now on, I’m going to be just like my Dad.

Everyday, I try to live up to that promise. And everyday, I try to be faithful to that legacy of care for family and care for others, just like my Dad taught me.

That you so much, Dad, for all you were, and all we are because of you. We will love and miss you forever.