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
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!

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.

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

HBD, Pops!

I know it’s kind of an arbitrary age to write a post to one’s parent, but seeing as how life is full of ups and downs and twists and turns, and how tomorrow is promised to no one, this post is dedicated to my dad on his 73rd birthday.

This post is a two-parter.  It contains the opening and closing paragraphs of a writing course assignment in which I had to write about someone I admire.  It also contains lyrics from Dan Fogelberg’sLeader of the Band“.
Here are the opening and closing paragraphs of my assignment on my father, The Professional Soldier:

Woosha-woosha-woosha.  The whispery sound of brush on shoe quietly echoed through our house each morning.  Each morning also brought the musky smell of Old Spice, my father’s after shave.  In the kitchen, Old Spice mixed with the aroma of coffee and peanut butter on toast.  One more quick trip to the bathroom to brush his teeth and my father was on his way to work.  Routine.  The Army drills until its tasks become second nature in any terrain or climate.  Similarly, whether we were living in Germany, Hawaii, or one of the U. S. states, my father ‘s morning regimen was precision.  He left the house on time every day looking sharp, ready to accomplish the tasks the day presented.  For many years, to me, he was the embodiment of the Army –the professional soldier.

My father taught me more than he knows about setting standards for ourselves and always striving to maintain those standards.  He showed me how to be a leader.  He inspired me to always do my best, to set high standards and work to achieve my goals.  I suppose I also got my unwavering patriotism from my father, the professional soldier.

Leader of the Band is a great ballad that Dan Fogelberg wrote as a tribute to his father.  While my father wasn’t a musician, he did love playing his records, and I credit the variety he played with influencing my love of so many varied genres.  His “stories of the road” were stories of places he had lived growing up and after enlisting in the Army…some of which my family were part of.  The rest of these lines are self-explanatory, but so aptly apply:

I thank you for the music and your stories of the road
I thank you for the freedom when it came my time to go
I thank you for the kindness and the times when you got tough
And papa, I don’t think I said I love you near enough

Happy Birthday, Dad!
I Love You!

Smoothing the Bumpy Ride

#ItWorksAdventureIt’s a bumpy ride as I compose my thoughts at multiple thousands of feet in the air on our return trip from Limelite 2015, which is fitting, I suppose, as I’m thinking about the roads behind and the one ahead.
Roads behind, but one ahead? Yep, and for a couple reasons:
Finances.  My wife and have always worked toward our financial goals as a couple, but we’ve had different jobs.  She was a school teacher for many years. I’ve worked in the IT field since before I met her.  We’ve both also had part time jobs at times…and still do.  We’ve seen times when we were making good money and times when things were tough. One lane on that bumpy road.
Health.  I’ve been able to avoid most of the pot holes in this lane, but for every one I miss, my wife seems to hit two.  I won’t go into detail here, but if you’d like to read about some of her issues, which include “invisible diseases” and a crazy long list of recently diagnosed food allergies, and how she deals with them, I encourage you to check out her blog, The Burned Hand.
So, two bumpy roads.  How are we going to turn them into one?  Through the financial power and health benefits of It Works!.  This company is debt free and growing by helping its members, its family, get debt free while helping themselves and others get more healthy.
My wife and I are going to focus on building our It Works! business together to smooth out and eliminate the financial bumps.    We’re going to be products of our own products, which will benefit our bodies:
  • How easy is it to drop powdered Greens or Greens on the Go into a bottle of water, shake it up, and drink down 8 servings of fruits and vegetables while helping alkalize the body? It’s a no brainer.
  • Got pain? We’ve got your Relief in a handy pill that beats the OTC brands…based on my personal experience.
  • And, of course,we have the Ultimate Body Applicator, aka “That Crazy Wrap Thing”…and it really works!
As we go forward on our adventure, we’re working toward real financial freedom, which is where the financial bumps disappear…and we’re able to retire me from my current full-time job, truly putting us on one road into our future.
Sound good? Join us! We’d love to bring you along on our #ItWorksAdventure!

On not being morose -five years later

It’s Veteran’s Day, the day we celebrate all the military who have served Our Country.  For the last five years, it has also been the day after I was told by my mother that “We are not going to be morose about this“, her diagnosis of stage four lung cancer.  While it’s not quite an Internet meme, I’ll forever remember those words as if I just heard them last night.  I wrote a second post a year later, “Army Wife: The Toughest Job in the Army“, in which I talked about these infamous (to me) words.

So, five years later, I’m proud to have served in the Army, proud that my father and brother served in the military, and proud and thankful to all my friends and family who have served, as well as all those I don’t know…and cancer still sucks!


Leaf Collection…or what kids learn from watching us

A big thing about having children is that they learn as much or more by observing what you do as by listening to what you tell them.  You are a role model.  If you want your children to grow to be honest, law abiding citizens with integrity, you should set the example.  For instance, a simple matter of following city ordinances such as when and how it is allowed to place leaves on the curb for collection.  In area of town, until a week prior to bulk, loose leaf collection (yes, we live in a neighborhood lucky enough to have this), leaves should be bagged in clear lawn bags.

Soooo…we rake and bag the leaves every couple weekends and then bulk pick up folks get them.  It’s a bit more of a pain that raking them to the street, but it’s according to city ordinance.  The weekend before the loose leaf collection, we rake the leaves into a nice, compact pile on the street, careful not to block up the gutter in case it should rain before the city gets the leaves…again, according to ordinance.  The girls, of course, notice that we are the only people on the street bagging leaves at this late stage of the game and have for a number of years.  Likewise, they know that I find it important to follows our laws and do the right thing, even if others are allowed to get away with doing things the easy way.

Much like they teach in the military, it is important to lead by example, or in this case, teach by example.  You can preach all day long to your children about following the laws and doing the right thing, but when they see you act contrary to that, it makes a lasting impression.

Do the right thing!

Vacation 2013 – Duck – Day Seven

Day Seven’s itinerary:  beach? pool? kayaking, return kayak, pack and clean a bit

Even overcast mornings have great viewsThe pups were into a routine…out early then back to bed for another hour or so.  Breakfast was one last group eat so we could use up as much of the food as possible so we didn’t have to pack it for the drive home the next day.

Pengster And The PuppyThe forecast for the day had been overcast with a chance of rain, so the prospects of getting to the beach were slim.  Likewise, most of the adults weren’t really interested in the pool, but it wasn’t difficult to convince the girls to go shopping.

We took our time cleaning up after breakfast, hung out on the deck for a while and ate lunch at the cottage to save a bit of money and to consume more of the food.  Pups On DeckIt only took all week, but the puppies finally got brave enough to come out on the deck and approach the railing.

We headed to the Timbuk II shopping center in Corolla and were easily able to find a covered parking space -in case it started raining.  We wandered around through a number of shops, but ultimately ended up with only one bottle of Shipwreck, a red blend, by Sanctuary Vineyards’.  I did find my favorite store in the area, though:  TarHeelTradingCompanyTar Heel Trading Company.  Why is it my favorite?  Simple.  Everything in the store is made in the U.S.A.  Yes, I’m one of those who actually looks to see where products are made before I buy them.  If they are made in China, I only buy them if I really need them.  I am only one person and can’t change the trade deficit myself, Couple Of Signsbut I’m hoping others will eventually get in on it.  I don’t expect it.  I’m hopeful, not stupid.

We finished shopping and got back to the cabin in time to take the kayak back to the place from which we rented it.  Since we were all cleaned up, we decided to just put in the back of Poppop’s pickup and drive it back.

It was getting near five and we had decided we were going to drive out to a little place called the Rundown Cafe on the beach road in Kitty Hawk.  Since it was a Saturday and we didn’t know how busy this place normally gets, we decided to head out there a bit early.  On the drive there, we passed miles of bumper to bumper traffic heading into Duck and Corolla -the normal weekend check-in traffic during “peak season”.  Heading out took no time and we got seated immediately at the restaurant.

RundownCafeRundown Cafe is a Jamaican-themed restaurant and they had cool, island looking art on the walls, and served food that you might find on the island, including fruity cocktails.  I got a beer and the other adults got one or two of those cocktails each.  Apparently, our decision to get there a bit early was a good one, because the restaurant filled up quickly before we’d gotten our food order in.  The food wasn’t anything special.  I had decent flavor, but nothing was “Wow!  I’ve got to come here every time we come to the Outer Banks” good.  That said, the waitress was really nice and the whole experience was a good one.

Knowing traffic was going to be horrible heading back to the cottage, we tried to kill some more time by going looking for the cottage that my wife’s grandparents used to own.  This succeeded in burning up almost an hour between the short trip to the street it was on and the driving back and forth up and down the road because no on e could recall the address and the fronts of all the cottages/houses had changed.

We were hoping we’d spent enough time for the traffic to clear out a bit for the drive back, but we weren’t so lucky.  It took between thirty and forty-five minutes of sitting in stop and go traffic to finally make it back to the cottage.  We put on coffee, packed as much as we could, and cleaned a bit before retiring for the evening.

Vacation 2013 – Duck – Day Six

Day Six’s itinerary:  Awful Arthur’s, Morning View

Apparently, the early mornings were just the dogs getting used to the cottage routine because they’ve been back to their normal waking time since the second day…thankfully.  They actually slept until almost 0800 after their initial outing around 0600.

We had group breakfast again this morning, consisting of pancakes and scrambled eggs.  We chatted about plans for the day and decided on a trip to View from Awful Arthur's BarAwful Arthur’s for lunch.  My wife and her brother, Bubba, have been going there with their parents since the were little kids.  It’s a bit of a dive bar, but the food is good and it’s very well known by Outer Banks locals and regulars.

We had to take two vehicles to the restaurant, so Poppop took Bubba and the two younger girls to Wave Riding Vehicles while my wife, Nana, and our older daughter, and I headed to Awful Arthur’s since it was about lunch time and I had no idea how busy they’d be on a Friday.  Turns out we could have gone to WRV with the others.  Everyone enjoyed their meal.

After lunch, Bubba took his daughter back to the cottage with a short stop by the playground in Duck while the rest of us went driving around, planning to NagsHeadWoodsNaturePreserveget to the Morning View Coffee Company.

Along the way, we came upon the sign to the Nags Head Woods Nature Preserve.  My wife had read about this place so we decided to check it out.  It’s a pretty cool little patch of woods with trails to walk on that we’ll be sure to check out on one of our future visits to the Outer Banks, but we weren’t all dressed in the right shows to hike and didn’t have bug spray.


We left the Nags Head Woods and went to the Morning View Coffee House.  We all got a drink and sat around the coffee house, enjoying the smell of the coffee and beans while I helped Nana get her new tablet hooked up to the wi-fi to download some important apps, which we couldn’t do at the cottage due to the crappy Internet service.  Before we left, I also bought a pound of coffee.  Morning View is my favorite coffee house.  Too bad we don’t live closer.

We stopped by Food Lion to pick up some food for that night’s dinner and headed back to the cottage.  Bubba had already packed up his and his daughters stuff and loaded his car.  He chatted with my wife and his parents for a few minutes before he left with his daughter to go home.

My wife, daughters, and I took a few trips out on the kayak before getting cleaned up for the day and getting busy on dinner.  While at Food Lion, we had picked up some match-light charcoal so we mixed some of that with the other charcoal and got the fire going easily.  Before long, dinner was ready and we enjoyed another evening of chatting around the table followed by a pot of Morning View coffee, then bed.

Vacation 2013 – Duck – Day Five

Day Five’s itinerary: beach, pool, Duck boardwalk, kayak, Taco Thursday

All the dogs decided to wake up around 0545 to be taken out.  When we got back in, though, the upstairs was still dark and quiet so I put them back in their crate and got back in bed.  They slept for another hour or so, at which time I heard movement upstairs and smelled coffee.  Nana was up so we went upstairs…they ate and I got coffee.

Bucket Full Of Moon JellyfishMoon Jellyfish Mountain

They day was mostly overcast and warm, but not raining so everyone had their own breakfasts and we went to the beach for a while.  It turned out to be a bit windy and not as warm on the beach.  My wife and Nana didn’t even get out of their coverups.  The girls all played in the sand and were only allowed to get in the waves up to their ankles since the slope of the beach was pretty steep, making for a kind of powerful pull back into the water.  Our older daughter made a mound of sand to cover the beach ball they brought while our younger daughter and Bubba’s daughter made a bucket full of moon jellyfish.  Eventually, they used the jellyfish to decorate the mound.

Shortly after the completion of Mount Jellyfish, we left to stop back by the pool.  Our younger daughter, who had developed a stuffy nose, complained that her ear ached after getting in the pool for a few minutes.  My wife took her back to the cottage and used some of her niece’s swimmer’s ear treatment which seemed to do the trick.  ViewFromBoardwalkThe rest of us played at the pool a bit longer and then went back to the cottage for lunch and to get cleaned up.

We decided to go into Duck and find the boardwalk.  We had an easy time of it.  There was no traffic and plenty of parking at the public access area of the boardwalk.  I don’t know how much the town of Duck spent on this boardwalk, but it had to be significant.


It’s a nicely built raised boardwalk that meanders along the banks of the sound, winding around the backs of some shops while providing sound front views for others.  We walked along the boardwalk for a while, visited a few shops, walked back, and then went back to the cottage after stopping at a market briefly to pick up items for dinner.

Sometime before getting to the boardwalk, the cloud cover broke, providing plenty of sun and a warmer temperature, so when we got back from our trip to the boardwalk, we got the kayak out again.  It turned out to only be my wife, our younger daughter, and I that went out.  We paddled out a bit and just floated for a while before heading back in and enjoying the late afternoon sun on the deck before getting cleaned up.


While I went to work in the kitchen preparing Taco Thursday, the clouds started coming back, resulting in some really beautiful views as the sun started to set.  We finished the meal, had dessert, and tried to play Clue with everyone, but Nana.  It didn’t last long before we called the game due to too many distractions and attention span problems.  SunsetFromCaptainsRoostBubba and his daughter went to their bedrooms.  My wife disappeared to our room and our girls, Poppop, and I played a game of Gubs before we all went to bed.

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