50 Revolutions

50 revolutions.
50 trips around the sun.
50 years living on planet Earth.
50 birthdays.

What do I have to show for all these years? A home. A few used cars. Lots of books and music and photos, print and digital. A good job. A lot of other stuff. Possessions. If all of those things went away, I’d still have the most important thing to me: my family.

I have lived a lot of places in my life. Some more exciting or beautiful or exotic than others. Some I never wanted to leave. Some I didn’t appreciate until I’d left and could reflect back on. All of them helped me grow and learn and become who I am now.

I have met a lot of people in my life. All are/were different in the way they spoke or behaved or thought or looked. Some I thoroughly enjoyed having in my life, even if too briefly. Some I would like never to have met. But, again, all of them helped me grow and learn and become who I am now.

So, who am I now?
1. I’m a man who loves his family and friends dearly. I know that I define those differently than the dictionary and social media. If I count you in that list (you know who you are), you should know that I’m here for you. To quote Bon Jovi’s lyrics, “Through the years and miles between us, it’s been a long and lonely ride, but if I got a call in the dead of the night, I’d be right by your side.”
2. I have a strict moral and ethical code. Sometimes that causes stress on me, sometimes on others, and sometimes it doesn’t jive with “the rules”. Have I ever broken my code? Of course. There are rare times when you have to put your own sense of right and wrong aside.
3. I believe in a work-life balance. I believe in taking time off or adjusting schedules to make it to important events in the lives of my family and friends. What are important events? Soccer games, band concerts, birthdays, driving lessons, awards presentations, retirements, promotions, helping with moving, funerals, visiting friends and family in hospitals, vacations -long and short, or just coming home to spend time with my wife when she’s not having a great day. “Believe me, nothing is trivial.
4. I’ve learned to not worry so much about what other people think. If you have a job, it’s likely important that your leadership think highly of you. If you are on a team, it’s important that your mates know they can rely on you to pull your weight. It’s not important to worry about what the Internet trolls think or what every person you pass on the street thinks. It took me way too long to figure this out and I still struggle with it now and then, but I wish I’d figured this out decades earlier.

So, getting back to “what have I got to show” for my 50 years? I have many years of growing and learning, about the world and myself. I have a small core of friends and family that love and care for each other, that have each others’ backs. And I have lots of memories…of places lived, people met, vacations taken, and of many, many much more mundane events that have shaped me and helped me have a positive impact on the people I love. In the end, what more could I really need?

 

On a lighter note, here are some other things that describe who I’ve become over these 50 revolutions around the sun:  I try to appreciate all the beauty in nature…sunrise, sunset, flowers, trees, the animals, the sky, the views from mountains; I enjoy good wine, good bier, and good conversations with friends and the occasional stranger; telling dad jokes; I could listen to my records (yes, LPs) on a good turntable, my CDs, and digital tunes for hours on end; I enjoy watching movies and TV shows, esp. with my wife and kids.  I few t-shirts that I own that lend a hint to my personality read:  “I speak fluent movie quotes”, “That’s what I do: I drink and I know things,” “Save Ferris,”, “The lower the latitude, the better the attitude,” and “Hike more, worry less.”

 

This is probably rum mug Arsenal socks
Maybe? #Gunner4Life
#GoGunners
Welcome to Dublin My Adidas at sunrise
I didn’t want to return from this trip.
Hope to one day retire here.
Coffee, sunrise, and my Adidas.
Slow down and enjoy life!

Ah, Push It!

No, Salt-N-Pepa ain’t here, but sometimes you’ve got to just push it. Not necessarily real good, either.

Today, it’s the gym. I don’t know why, but the stairmaster was kickin’ my butt. I had to adjust the level up and down as the interval changed constantly…up when it dropped, down when it went high. Just couldn’t get a happy medium, but I didn’t quit. Now, I’m pedaling it out on the recumbent bike while I type. Working out is like that. Somedays it just doesn’t come easy, but you’ve got to be like Nike and Just Do It. #getyoursweaton

Of course, the gym’s not the only place you just have to bear down and push. Sometimes, it’s burying your head in the books and studying. Sometimes, it’s taking that first step across the room to talk to someone new. Sometimes, it’s pushing the stubby pencil across the paper or banging on those keys to crank out a story or poem or research paper. Hell, sometimes, it’s just swinging your legs out from under the covers, over the side of the bed, and getting up.

Sometimes, nothing comes easy, but you’ve got to push it, to break on through to the other side of whatever’s holding you back…even if there doesn’t seem to any reward other than knowing you beat that obstacle that time.

And then do it again the next time…and the next…and the next.

The problem with long weekends

Let’s just put this out there now: This post is going to be schmatltzy, mushy, etc.

Most folks I know make the joke about weekends and vacations not being long enough. I’ve said it many times, as well. There are memes-a-plenty about not looking forward to Mondays, about Tuesdays after holidays being ‘second Mondays’, etc.

Lots of people don’t like their jobs and it certainly leads to the Monday angst. I’m not one of those people. I like my job for the most part.

What I don’t like is having to be at work instead of at home with my wife…or wherever we find ourselves out and about. On short weeks after a holiday, it seems worse. It’s like the four days in between just interrupt “couple time.”

This is why I’m really looking forward to retiring as soon as possible. So I can spend more time with the love of my life…travelling, relaxing, eating good food, drinking great beverages, meeting interesting people, and enjoying nature, especially sunsets and sunrises (probably more of the sunsets).

Sappy, right? Well, you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Hard to say goodbye

No, nobody died that I’m personally acquainted with or related to. And this isn’t a post about recent celebrity deaths or the death of anyone else.

It’s about selling a car. Yes, a car. Not a flashy car or one I built/rebuilt. Just a sporty little Mazda 3s that I mostly drove back and forth to work.

Specifically, it’s about fifteen years of having and driving that car. It’s passing thoughts about nursing it along as it slowly began to fail me these last few years: air conditioning that would work when it felt like it; oil burning off slowly (cleanly?) enough that it didn’t make smoke, but didn’t drip on the driveway; the driver’s side power window sometimes sticking like it wasn’t going to come back up; a sunroof that would popup, but no longer slide open; and a mysterious leak that would leave my floor mats soaked for days after a good rain.

More important, though, are the memories I have that involve my little zoom-zoom car: toddlers in car seats smiling and giggling and crying and puking and getting crumbs all over the back seat; driving my daughters to and from school and activities from elementary, middle and high school; hundreds of trips to ref soccer matches, dozens with my older daughter, and a handful with both daughters; eating my lunch while changing my wet socks with the heater going full blast between game sets reffing at a freezing and rainy soccer tournament; teaching both of the girls to drive; and opera nights and other date nights with my wife. It’s the car that I used to take to the vet both of the dogs we’ve had to put to sleep so they wouldn’t suffer any longer…and then wept in before I could compose myself to drive home.

Many, many hours spent behind the wheel and lots of memories over these past fifteen years. While it was time to get a new car and I’m happy with it so far, it was a bit sad saying goodbye to my little Mazda.

Back at it

I don’t make new year’s resolutions. I simply decide I’m going to do things and do them. I’ve been planning to get back to two things, one of which lends itself to a third.
First, I’ve put on some weight over the last year. Not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but enough that I’m not happy with my appearance…and that’s really my impetus. I don’t look at the scale as other than a device that can provide a measurable metric. I base my goal on my appearance and whether I’m happy with myself. Right now, I’m not.
How’d I get here? Some is work interfering in my ability to get a full match of lunchtime soccer in regularly. Mostly, though, that’s just one of a number of excuses, along with needing to make sure my daughter got off to catch her ride to school in the morning, then making sure she got off in time to drive herself once she got her license, and making sure I was available if she called because something happened while she drove to school. So I had good reasons to not head to the gym before work, but they were still excuses. I could have tried to find time during the day or gone after work, so…an excuse.

Now, I’m back at it. I pack two sets of clothes on soccer days. If I don’t get in a full match, I can hit the gym after work and I’ve started going on Tuesdays and Thursdays after work. Worst case, I can always use the treadmill at home.

Second, the need, yes, need to write has been niggling at me again. I can’t recall the last time I wrote something not for work. I’ve had a few story ideas pop into my melon, one may have been from a dream. I’ve started laying them out in yWriter, but haven’t really tried writing any parts of them. I’m also fairly sure it’s been three years or so since I wrote a poem. Sad, I know. As I said, though, I’ve found an urge to write. Such an urge that during some goofy “game” around Christmas, I told my wife and the others that my goal (game term) for this year is to start writing again. I suppose this post will serve as my first step toward that goal. One post. It’s a start.
Which leads into the third: blogging. Much like my poetry writong, all of my blogs have been sorely neglected. I have no reason, again, other than excuses so I won’t waste my time trying to enumerate them. They’d just sound trite and overused.
So…here I am. No more excuses. It’s writing time. Fiction, poems, blog posts, and writing prompts. Hope you enjoy some of them. They are coming anyway.

Count your blessings…

I know you’ve all read or heard many times by many people what I’m about to say, but I’m feeling especially sentimental for some reason this year, so here goes…

I’ve felt very blessed this year as I’ve watched as the number of presents grow under the tree, especially since I know that my daughters have been contributing to them with their own money and time. As I sit here in a few moments of near-silence this Christmas morning, I can hear my family beginning to stir upstairs, and I’m feeling very blessed by those sounds, as well. I recognize that while we’re very far from rich, we are very fortunate. My daughters have grown up with both parents, most of their grandparents, and even many of their great grandparents. We’ve always had a house to call home with a strong, stable family, and have all enjoyed good health, for the most part. We’ve not had many years that we needed to “wipe the year away” as George Michael sang about in ‘December Song,’ but we do still dream of Christmas. I hope it will always be a time for our family to gather and enjoy our biggest blessing, the love we have for each other.

Peace to you all!

December Song: https://youtu.be/l-xzyD00_fI

Karōshi

Look it up. Don’t be a victim of it. Take time off, especially when ill. Spend time with family and/or friends and/or pets….or just get outside and spend time in nature. Don’t let the wheel geind you out. Live life. Enjoy life.

Flirty Bird Red Blend

Pic of Flirty Bird Red Blend

Based on this red blend, this is an aptly named winery.  It’s just like that person at the bar that may be fun to flirt with, but you don’t want to take it home. It gave me what my wine annotator describes as “red wine face”…which is not a good thing.  Luckily, we found this at our local Aldi’s grocery store for about five bucks.  I’ll stick with the slightly cheaper Winking Owl they sell that is surprisingly good.

Stave & Steel’s 2014 Bourbon-barrel aged Cab Sauv

Stave & Steel 2014 Bourbon Barrel-aged Cabernet Sauvignon

With this 2014 cabernet sauvignon, Stave & Steel, out of Paso Robles, CA, has managed to accomplish what many wineries and breweries are attempting to do lately:  strike a perfect balance of their product (wine, in there case) with the scent and taste of bourbon.  Too often, these beers and wines over-age their products and the result is a beer or wine that tastes too strongly of bourbon.  Now, I like bourbon, but beer and wine should taste like beer and wine, not like a shot of bourbon.

Stave & Steel’s 2014 Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon was timed perfectly.  It’s a solid, tasty cab sauv with a hint of bourbon on the nose and on the tongue.  

Black Ops…a covert red wine.  Yes, covert, really.

Black Ops:  A red blend hy Pearmund Cellars
I’m actually not kidding about the covert part in the title.  Black Ops is not part of the tasting list at Pearmund Cellars.  They sell it as one of their reserves, which was great for us on Black Friday when all their reserves were on sale.  So what’s covert about it?  A couple things:  it’s a red blend, but they won’t tell what is blended in, percentages of grapes/wines or even which grapes/wines are used…even to their employees pouring wine for the tasting masses.  They also won’t reveal the alcohol percentage of the vintages.

Aside from the mystery of it all, the important part is the taste.  Not being one of those folks who can taste every separate ingredient and grape in the wine, I can only tell you that it is good…for me, anyway.  I think I caught a hint of tobacco giving it a slight smokiness that I really like (would have liked more of it in this one), and it was nice and full, like the cabs and merlots that I really like.  That’s about as good as I can do in describing its taste and body.

Had we been able to taste it first, I probably would not have bough it.  Not that it isn’t good, but I really loved Pearmund Cellars Merlot**…and it was less expensive that Black Ops.

**look for my review of Pearmund Cellars Merlot soon

%d bloggers like this: