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July 04, 2009


What, are you guys celebrating something today?

The US is celebrating that it is still part of the UK since even taking a poll on whether to discuss changing the rules under which a country is governed is an evil act that justifies expulsion from that country and the imposition of martial law. That is what Americans mean when they say "democracy".

What, are you guys celebrating something today?

Yes, and the British gave us a birthday prezzie! How thoughtful!

I for one am celebrating. This year's Independence Day Focus: The little things that make living in the United States of America great. Happy Independence Day, everyone!

"What, are you guys celebrating something today?"

Well, there's that national holiday business, but I personally am celebrating a day with no rain.

Also, my niece's water broke this AM so I may be a grand-uncle shortly.

We're off to visit friends who live by the fort at the mouth of the harbor for salmon, vino, and colorful explosions.

Hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday!

i need to go the johns, jasper.

Congrats, Russell. We are waiting for the same news from my wife's nephew. (No, his water didn't break.)

Right now listening to people in the neighborhood set off a few illegals which means my beagle is starting to become hysterical. She'll face off with a german shepard, but a little boom sends her seeking for cover.

i just finished celebrating my sister's wedding.

open bar. party bus. beautiful weather. fireworks everywhere.

I'm celebrating my new house!!!

Thanks to Obama I could afford it!!

I think the Brits just got the date wrong and celebrated the US flag belatedly on Sept.13 (1814) with a large fireworks display.

Only in the US someone could come up with the idea to make a failed missile attack the theme of the national anthem. Maybe the obsession with flag-burning and blowing stuff up is a longterm case of psychological repression ;-)

Say what you will about "To Anacreon in Heaven", an 18th-century drinking song, as the basis for a national anthem, and about "Whose broad stripes" as an insanely bad bunch of long syllables to sing on three quick notes; but just try to tell me that, for a high note that people would sing only when intoxicated, whether with alcohol or with patriotism, the words

The land of the FREE
And the home of the brave

is not incomparably better than

The myrtle of VEE-
nus and Bachus's vine.

[This sentence was brought to you in honor of the eighteenth century, the time of the Enlightenment, on the prinicples of which the United States was founded. And as to those principles, De mortuis nil nisi bonum.]

I think the Brits just got the date wrong and celebrated the US flag belatedly on Sept.13 (1814) with a large fireworks display.

"Damn. Missed."

I want to start a movement to change the Fouth of July to the Fourth of February. Or the fifth or sixth or wahtever just so long as the new date is during one of the dark, cold, rainy months when the soul craves fireworks and the fire danger is low. Fireworks seem entirely extraneous to me in July when it's so frickin' hot and dry that the whole world seems about to spontaneoulsy combust.

I for one, don’t feel “better” this year than last, even with “the Prez” in power. The country traded a bumbling, inarticulate, smirking, spoiled fleck of patrician privilege for a smooth, literate, toothy corporate hack; took off the shit-encrusted cowboy boots and slipped into the blood-soaked alligator loafers.

Change? My ass…

The most likely “health care reform” bill to come out of Congress will be such a piece of shit that “liberals” and “progressives” will prefer to eat rat poison and expire than vote for it. But “thePrez” will sign it. At this point, he’d sign onto involuntary organ harvesting if it came to his desk, and claim it was a “bold step” for financing insurance for all.

And don’t anybody give me any shit about the “perfect” being the “enemy” of the “good.”

If the best the “good” an give us is a reeking pile of corporate privilege, and more private profit from public suffering, thwn it needs all the fucking enemies it can get…Count me IN!

wonkie, spoken like someone who doesn't live in the Great Lakes region. :) We've had unseasonably wet weather this last week -- from Monday to Thursday, we had rain and thunderstorms every day, and we're running about 10 degrees below our usual temperature for Cleveland.

I know people like to do their own fireworks for the Fourth, but this is going a bit too far (especially when it's down at the end of my street).

We who beat the stuffing out of the redcoats have become the redcoats. What a world, what a world.

What's more American than 3/4'' OSB?

Hope everyone had a delightful Fourth.

We just got back from The Second Annual Two-day Gott Family Hershey Park Spectacular. Again, it was awesome.

Last year, we went in August. This year -- with Saturday being the Fourth (and our owner deciding to close the dealership on Saturday, a rare, rare occurrence in the car business) using hotels.com last Thursday -- we decided at the last moment to to the Hershey Park trek on the 4th and 5th, thanks to a wonderful (holiday) room rate of $111.

Chalk it up to good timing: Out of curiosity, I clicked on hotels.com the next night and the least expensive room rate for Americas Best Value Inn (sort of like a Best Western, but a little more cozy) was $155.

Saturday was awesome.

One year makes a great difference: Danny, now 10, wanted to go on Every Single Rollercoaster, all 11 of them.

(We even did the imposing Fahrenheit this year. For rollercoaster fans: this one is a must! How awesome it was staring straight up to the night sky and feeling like you could practically reach out and touch the moon -- that is, until it was time for the stomach-dropping 97-degree drop.)

Dear old Dad -- emphasis on "old" -- obliged and kept going on rollercoaster after rollercoaster until Danny had enough, which was right around 10:15 p.m., a couple minutes before the fireworks show kicked off.

My 46-year-old bones -- neck, knees, legs, ankles, shoulders -- ached all over Sunday morning.

But truth be told, they were nothing but a fond memory of remembering looking a my 10-year-old son's face each time we boarded a different rollercoaster and gave each other a "thumbs up."

Every once in a while when he was not looking, I'd glance his way (he seemed to be in his own this-is-awesome world) as we ticked-ticked-ticked up that first steep hill, the anticipation building for the drop and winding turns sure to follow, and I'd rejoice in seeing my boy's ear-to-ear grin, his bright blue eyes beaming and his blond locks wisping in the air and the pure innocence of a 10-year-old.

Then the ride would suddenly be over.

"Dad, let's do it again."

And we would, Dad's legs wobbly but no worse for wear.

I can see my son takes after his father. On Sunday, when we arrived earlier and it was warmer, he escaped with his Mom (this time I did the watching) for the water rides. But before you knew it, it was: "Dad, can we do Big Bear again?"

Before taking on our favorite rollercoaster for the ninth time in two days, we stopped by at the game section of The Boardwalk (the aptly named section for the water rides) and I ponied up $2 for one of those old-fashioned guess-your-weight games.

Keysha, the friendly college girl carefully looked my 6-foot-2 frame up and down and wrote her prediction on a tablet -- if she guessed my weight within 3 pounds, I'd lose -- and I stepped on the immense, exaggerated scale for the Moment of Truth.


Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Keysha's guess:


I told Keysha for being that far off I deserved two prizes. But rules are rules, and Danny picked out a color "Simpsons" pillow.

After another ride of Big Bear, Storm Runner and SideWinder (I do not recommend whiplash-inducing SideWinder unless you really, really must try all 11 of Hershey's rosters) we were too tired to stick around until midnight like we did on the Fourth.

Besides we had 9:30 reservations to the best Italian restaurant in Hershey, Pa. (also the oldest free-standing -- since 1936 -- eatery in the town).

Chicken parm for Danny. The Meditarrean seafood special for Olga. The house speciality for me: lasagna, so huge (and so good, I might add) that if you finish the whole thing, the owner presents you with quite the official-looking certificate stating that you did so.

I went home with a certificate.

We all went home happy (thanks to my wife and Mr. Chase).

Hey, btfb, glad to hear you had such a lovely weekend. May the future hold many more of them in store.

But take it easy on the lasagna. You don't want Keysha to be right next year, do you?


"Hey, btfb, glad to hear you had such a lovely weekend. May the future hold many more of them in store."

Thanks, Tony P.

Did you get your share of Fourth of July Fireworks? They turn me into a big little kid -- I can never get enough of them. The Hershey show was good, not great: A great show, and it has been since I was my son's age, is the one the Philadelphia Phillies put on. My best friend at work went with me last year, he took his precocious 8-year-old daughter and I took D, and, I swear, 2008 show was the best I've ever seen.

As for . . .

"But take it easy on the lasagna. You don't want Keysha to be right next year, do you?"

With no leftovers in sight -- love lasagna cold, too -- I just had a big breakfast plate of LOL.

Finally . . .

Late to the party as usual, I just found out that OCSteve has signed off the blogosphere for good (or so he says -- I have a feeling we will see my conservative friend by Thanksgiving; at least that's the over-under line I'm putting up).

For now, at least . . .

This lefty is wishing Godspeed to one of ObWi's wonderful conservatives, OCSteve.

And . . .

"When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water,
and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.
For a time
I rest in the grace of the world,
and am free."

--Wendell Berry

I didn't know that OSCSTEve had departed and I am sorry to see him go. I hope you will drop by and visit every now and then, Steve.

That's a lovely poem, btfb.

And you annd your family had a fabulous Fourth!

I spent the Fourth walking dogs. I am about to go forth and walk some more dogs today but first I am going to take advantage of this thread to whine a little: I've got poison ivy! Everywhere! In the last couple of months I have gotten whooping cough, head lice, and now poison ivy. I do not know what I did to deserve this Job-like existance but it is definatley one damned thing after another.

All job related, too. I guess I'm just lucky that I haven't contracted MERSA or a flesh eating bacteria. Yet.

"Late to the party as usual, I just found out that OCSteve has signed off the blogosphere for good"

Hmm? I hope not.

"...and now poison ivy."

Oh, that sucks. (As do the other things.) I haven't had poison ivy since I was a kid, but I got it a bunch of times back then, seemingly every time I was in twenty feet of it, and often I got it all over, as in my whole chest and legs, thighs, and, er, regions in between. Sympathies on all of it.

Yeah, I had poison ivy constantly as a kid when we lived in upstate NewYork. I didn't know it even grew out here in Washingon. I called the Group Health nurse because I didn't recognize what it was (she asked me if I had any rash in the regions in between and, thank god, I do not). I live in dread of getting something really awful from one of my clients, but, so far the threats to my health and comfort have come from their grandchildren and their dogs.


Maybe that's why I enjoy Sarah's fall so much: she seems to be getting what she deserves in contrst to poor old me who seems to be getting hit with an awful lot of friendly fire!

This stuff worked for me, back when I was often afflicted with poison ivy. ISTR that I took the stuff sublingually, but that was more than a decade ago.

YMMV. It seems to desensitize, though.

"I've got poison ivy! Everywhere!"

Lovely hearing from you, as usual, Ms. Wonkie -- although not the part about poison ivy.

I'm sure I had it as a kid at some point, but it could not have been too bad -- because I don't remember any such horror stories.

On Saturday and Sunday, the last ride we took as a family (it is a stone's throw from the exit) was one of those calming ski-lift things that gives you a nice view of the entire Hershey Park, especially at night, with the lights all sparkling (all three of us fit comfortably despite my 271 pounds; Olga's tiny, 5-foo-5, 129, and Danny is up to 82).

Anyhow, upon making the first turn, Olga was so close to the outside edge that my wife's sandle-adorn feet touched a few leafy trees/bushes/plants that Danny insisted was poison ivy. I told Honey -- who had wanted the outside seat that turned out to be nearest to the plant life (one of the great things about HP are all of the trees, shrubs and greenery) not to worry since she only brushed up against whatever it was for the briefest of seconds.

But Mr. Future Scientist insisted it was poison ivy.

Alas, it was not poison ivy.

However, perhaps because she is much sweeter than I, Olga suffered several different types of bug bites to mine and Danny's one or two. They say -- because of the all of the rain we have had the past three months -- this is going to be a horrid year for mosquito bites.



As for OCSteve, I read his announcement the night before we left for Hershey in his farewell front-page post at ObWi's satellite blog, Taking It Outside. I, too, hope he is not gone for long. Bottom line: I wish him the best.


Before I sign off, Wonkie and our fellow canine lovers, a dog story, of course . . .

The weather was so nice -- 82 degrees, low humidity, soft breezes -- when we got back yesterday evening, since my wife had a client for a haircut in her basement studio scheduled for 6-7:30 pm, I was inspired to take Hamilton, our 14-year-old Beagle, to the Bark Park (we had not been there in ages) for a 90-minute trek. (Danny, natch, wanted to go to his buddy Tyler's house and tell him all about our trip -- they wound up flying a remote-control helicopter that D had patched together from old Christmas toys.)

Hamilton was in heaven, riding in the bed of my green 2001 Chevy S10 pickup, sniffing away at all of the dog-overdosing smells that his 98-year-old Beagle nose (in human years) could pick up.

We had not been to Bark Park in at least 11 months. Yet the minute we got within a mile I looked at my rear-view mirror and Hamilton's floppy Beagle ears were flapping in the wind, happiness written all over my Little Man's face.

From the smallish parking lot, it is a good quarter-mile walk to the Main Event: The lake at Carousel Farms (a horse farm). Hamilton was never, ever a swimmer. But by the time we got down there he inched gingerly toward the water's edge for a much-needed drink.

I let him off the lede and sat atop one of the handful of picnic benches as Hamilton -- now too old to get excited by the younger, friskier dogs -- grazed nearby in the grass. Me, I delighted in watching the various Labs leap in joyous bounds of energy into the lake with reckless abandon, some fetching yellow tennis balls, others just leaping into the water for the sport of it.


Oh, Bark Park.

The year before I got married five years ago, I was coming off a very tough break-up with a girl I had dated for 9 months. I was distraught, heartsick, more so than one might normally be. Single back than and with substantially less expenses, I took the Summer of 2003 off -- actually July and August, taking a between-jobs leave-of-absence from a job I did not like anyway.

Just what the doctored order.

Day after day after day, my two late, great dogs that Hamilton has managed to outlive -- CoCo, my Pretty Girl who I miss dearly and think about every time I see a Golden Retriever even though she was not a pure bred (although she was prettier than any pure bred I've ever laid eyes on), and Bowser, my Big Boy, my Lab/Pit/Pointer mix who was definitely not the sharpest tack in the drawer but definitely the most dependable (I don't think I have ever had a dog who counted on me more, or so the look in his big brown eyes seemed to indicate) -- day after day after day, Bowser, CoCo and I would pile into my truck at the time, a baby blue Ford F150 with dual exhaust that told you we were coming, and drive to Bark Park and stay there for hours on end. CoCo, the swimmer, loved the water, loved me tossing her sticks or tennis balls. Bowser, not a swimmer but a wader, just sort of relaxed and took in the view. So did I.

CoCo and Bower, how I miss them.


"Dogs are our link to paradise

They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent.

To sit down with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring -- it was peace."

---Milan Kundera

Lovely post, btfb. peace, wonkie

Yeah, Wonkie, unable to sleep, I just re-read the damn thing myself and, here I am, a 46-year-old, 6-foot-2, 271-pound father and husband, weeping in the dark.

Damn, I loved those two dogs and how I hate it that CoCo and Bowser's lives were cut all too short, My Little Girl living on this earth for 7 years and My Big Boy emoting his Zen-like dogginess for 8.

I picked up Bowser at the pound (actually, he picked me, training those big brown eyes on me everywhere I went) after the Great Bonzo -- a gentle giant of a Lab/Rotty mix who showed me many, many joys this life has to offer during his 12 years, the first 6 years in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he was sort of a local legend (After an accident left my brother disabled, I became the caretaker for both Frank and his dog who would spend his final 6 years with me in Delaware. Folks from New Mexico would call all the time after Frank's accident, which occurred near the Philadelphia Naval Yard, where he came back home for work, to ask about my brother's condition and, invariably, they would always get around to asking about the lovable, charming Bonzo, telling me to take good care of not just Frank but Bonzo, too, that he deserved a quiet retirement after chasing the prairie dogs and doing as he pleased in the hills of Santa Fe) -- died two weeks after the Super Bowl in 2002, stomach cancer finally doing the big, strong Bonzo in.

By the time Valentine's Day rolled around, I was heartsick: No Bonzo and, yes, that's when the girl I had been dating since the previous summer said adios, having met another fella at her job.

Before long, I did what any depressed dog lover would do: I visited the local pound and came home with a Bowser.

We bonded instantly.

I know I said previously he wasn't the sharpest tack in the drawer, but much like the dog he "replaced," he seemed to have a sixth sense about his owner.

That first night, I was happy I had my new-found friend and I could sense the feeling was mutual. Still, losing Bonzo pained my heart (more so than losing the girl, actually) and the Big Boy's sixth sense kicked in. He jumped on my huge king-size bed, snuggled right up against me and, at that moment, all was right in the world, two lost souls together, at peace.

A couple months passed and I figured Bowser could use some company on the days when I worked extra late.

Back to the pound we went, me and the Big Boy to pick out his sibling.

We never even made it back to the shelter area.

I saw this harried woman with three young kids in tow and a gorgeous golden-colored dog of about 7 months (looking like a small red-hued fox) who was about to join the other homeless dogs. The woman told me she would love to keep the dog -- they had been calling her Angel (too girly for me) after finding her roaming the streets in their downtown neighborhood -- but with three young kids, no husband and not much money, keeping this lovely little dog was not practical.

Three folks were ahead of her in the "return" line -- and that's as far as CoCo ever came to calling the SPCA home. I promised the lady I would take good care of her Angel (it was love at first sight) and Bowser had his sister. The two of them hit it off right away, which was kind of weird since neither was much for other dogs when we would make our trips to Bark Park.

And so, it took two dogs (eventually it would be three: the next summer, I found Hamilton during a pizza run one late Friday night almost get hit by a car at a busy intersection) to replace the Great Bonzo.

But they were two wonderful, loving, spirited dogs who became my support system in good times and bad, two wonderful, loving, spirited dogs who have left two holes in my heart little more than a year after their deaths last summer.

And so it goes.

Keep up the great work, Wonkie.

I truly admire your love for our four-legged friends and the happiness you bring to their lives with the work you do.

Wonkie: As a married dog lover, I am seeking your guidance regarding a dog dilemma bouncing through my head like so many bright yellow tennis balls.

As you know, I have wanted a second dog for several months now and the right one -- an 8-month-old Golden Retriever male named Carter seems to have come along.

Last Thursday, July 2, a single mom of two handsome children, a boy about my son's age and a daughter a little younger came looking to replace her turbo-charged Mazda 7 that was killing her at the pump. She wanted a family sedan. Being 38, she also wanted something a bit sporty. I had the perfect vehicle: the redesigned Chevy Malibu, a 4-cylinder in Black Granite Metallic with sunroof and leather that Michelle and her two kids loved.


As we were waiting for the finance guy to get the papers ready (I hate that part) the discussion at my desk turned to dogs. It must have been all of those pictures and calendars from the Humane Society, SPCA, Doris Day Animal League, Guiding Eyes For The Blind, Defenders of Wildlife, et al.

Michelle, a quick study, picked up that I adore man's best friend and poor Carter needed a better home, "better" being relative here.

Two days before Christmas, her ex-roommate who worked as a clerk at the local police department, went out for a smoke break and saw a van drop this cute and cuddly Golden right in front of the police barracks.

Michelle's roommate took Carter home. Michelle fell in love with him. So did her two children, especially the boy. The dog sounds like a dream, disciplined, spirited, intelligent -- hey, he's a Golden.

My customer feels guilty because -- now that her roommate who found the dog has moved out without him -- Carter stays in his crate from 7:30 in the morning until 5 at night, partly due to Michelle's long commute.

She wants to do right by the dog. Give him a fenced-in yard (she lives in a townhome with a small backyard). Give him a home where there are two adults and minimizing his stays in the crate. (Amazingly, for an 8-month-old dog Michelle said the pup has never messed in his crate.)

I can see it in her eyes: This is not an easy decision for her, especially since her boy is attached to Carter. I advised her that if she is having any second thoughts at all about giving up the dog, to me or anyone, Do Not Do It.

When I made my post-sale call the next day, I figured that was that and wasn't even going to bring up the dog. I wanted this woman, this family, to feel as if they were making the right decision.

Got a message yesterday from her protective boyfriend on my cell, the boyfriend saying Michelle thought it's best to give Carter to a good home.

Now my dilemma.

Olga has made it clear that she is content with us being a one-dog household. I have made it just as clear that I want another.


Just a few months ago, I was down here in the basement den on the computer surfing petfinder.com, looking at Goldens and English Setters, and when Olga saw what I was doing, she mumbled something in Russian and I got the silent treatment the rest of the evening.

I suppose she'll "win."

What's that old saying?

Happy wife, happy life.

Harmony in a home is so, so important.

But still . . .

* * *

This being my regular day off and the grass bright green and growing fast due to the abundance of spring/summer rain we have had, I must sign off and mow the lawn once I finish folding some clothes from the dryer. (Wednesday is my Mr. Mom day, Olga working at the hair salon from 1-9, leaving me and the boy to do as we please -- ah, freedom. Danny is currently eyeing up the Verizon installer's every move and learning about fiber optics: Switching my cable and internet service from Comcast to Verizon/Fios -- will save us $50 a month with the promotion I read in the newspaper, which included a $299 coupon for one of those little Hewlett-Packard notebooks.)

So, I will cut the grass and think of days gone by when CoCo -- who was afraid of the vacuum -- would chase the lawn mower as if she were on a mission, barking at it, and scooping up her tennis balls strewn across the yard, "saving" them before they were eaten by that noisy red thing Dad would push and cut everything in sight.

Perhaps the next time I cut the lawn a new Golden Retriever will join me and save some tennis balls.


But I do not think my wife will compromise.

Honey is even more stubborn than I.

Even though we have only been married for 5 years, I know her as if it's been 15 -- and, sometimes, I think she knows me better than I know myself. Scary. (Of course, if that were entirely the case, she would relent and let me have my Golden Retriever, whouldn't she?).


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