Extraordinary Stories

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

The "Barbados Tattoo Parlour??" Story

It was an ordinary day. It's Saturday and we're walking the streets of Bridgetown, Barbados. Carol and I are joined by Jerry and Just Sue as we explore the many shops and historical places in the capital of the country. Barbados is located in the southern Caribbean, near St. Vincent, the Grenadines, Tobago and Trinidad. It is also very close to the top of South America. Weather is beautiful and today is a hot, humid and sunny day. Perfect for a walk around town. Carol and I split from Jerry and JS and visit the Parliament buildings, Queen's Park and St. Mary's Church which is an Anglican/Episcopal Church consecrated in July of 1827. Beautiful place with reminders of our own St. James Episcopal in Lancaster. We walked the cemetery looking at the tombstones and the surrounding streets before we decided to head back to the waterfront to visit the T-shirt and tourist's stores for souvenirs for ourselves and the grand kids. Along the way we see a Tattoo Parlour. Our youngest son, Paul who we call Tad, has made his body a living and working artist's palette. Colorful tattoos adorn his arm, back and legs. One on his arm is a living tribute to his Grandfather who is his namesake and died a few years ago. Whenever we travel we try to find a shirt from a local tattoo parlour as a gift for Tad for taking care of our two cats while we are basking on a beach somewhere. Well, we found one! "Tattoos Upstairs" the sign proclaims! Now to see if they have any T-shirts. I open the door and we travel up a flight of steps through another door that leads into a commons area. Sign again says "Tattoos - Upstairs." OK, up we go, again. At the top of this flight of steps is a small room occupied with desks and people working. I ask where the tattoo place is and they look mysteriously at me and point up. I turn around and see Carol heading back down the steps. Oh well, I'll go up by myself and see if I can find what we came after. At the top of the next level I pass through a heavy wooden door and there are a few beauty parlour chairs with people getting their hair done. I ask the girl closest to the door where the tattoo place is and after looking me over pretty good, points to a door to the left at the corner of the room. Off I go. "Knock" is on a piece of paper in magic marker. So I knock. The door opens about six inches and I see an eye of a young girl looking through the opening. I can see inside and the reflection from a mirror on the far wall tells me she isn't giving the guy on the table a tattoo. "Do you sell T-shirts?" I ask her. Yea, right! And the door closes again. All of a sudden a light goes off in my head and the word "tattoo" has taken on a new meaning!!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The "Crummy Fantaseas Flipper" Story

It was an ordinary day. Carol and I were on our way from St. Martin to Anguilla by ferryboat for the day. We signed up for tour which included the ferryboat ride, an island tour, lunch at Gwen's Raggae Beach bar, a trip to Shoal Beach, snorkeling on a deserted beach and a swim with the dolphins. Carol had wanted to swim with dolphins for many years now, and we were finally going to get our chance. We had made arrangements a few years earlier to swim with dolphins in Tortola, which is located in the British Virgin Islands, but at the last minute they closed the program due to poor sanitation conditions and handling of the dolphins. Now's our chance. We were up at 6:45 AM for breakfast at the resort then off to the capital of French St. Martin, Marigot, to meet our tour and for our ferry ride. We boarded the ferry and after arriving at Anguilla and going through customs, we toured the island and headed to Dolphin Fantaseas. We put our suits on and were given life vests and then we entered the water. We were in an enclosed area so the dolphins couldn't escape. The dolphins naturally had names which were Papa Al, Mama Ayla and Baby Coby. We kinda expected to have them tow us around with their top fin and go under us and lift us up out of the water, but no, we got to touch them as they swam next to us, feed them and have our photo taken with them. Big whoop!! And what made it even worse was it rained the entire 45 minutes we were in the water. We did get a neat pix out of it though. At least the lunch, snorkeling and tanning were great. We got to see Shoal Bay Beach which is rated by many magazines as the best beach in the world! The beach certainly didn't disappoint us as did the dolphin experience. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Beach pix is from Shoal Bay Beach, considered to be #1 in the world by many.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The "Best Lei in Hawaii" Story

It was an ordinary day. We are landing in Honolulu for our second trip to Oahu, Hawaii. We traveled to Hawaii five years ago and had such a great time that we had to give it one more try. The "We" for the trip is Jerry and Just Sue as well as Carol and I. The flight is a killer with a two hour flight to Chicago and then a seven hour flight to Hawaii. It feels longer than it sounds. I got air sickness the first time we came, so I drugged myself pretty good for this flight. Don't remember much of what happened. I do remember the really neat Lei that was placed around my neck as I got off the plane by a beautiful native girl. They refer to them as "The Best Lei on the Island." Our hotel is right down the street from Waikiki Beach at the Ohana Resort. Headed to the beach as soon as we could get into our suits. After we returned to the hotel we gave Gary, Carol's cousin who lives in Honolulu, a call to make arrangements to meet him and his girlfriend the next evening for dinner. Carol's mother and Gary's mother were sisters. Gary came here years ago to do his residency for his Doctor's Degree and never left. He set up practice in Honolulu. Gary is very well known and respected Doctor on the island. He is one of eight Doctors in the State of Hawaii who have over 100 patients who receive medicinal marijuana for treatment. I need to talk to him about my return flight! I had Gary as a student years ago in a shop class at MTHS. Little did I know that he would be the cousin of my lovely wife. After the phone call we dressed and headed out for supper and then to bed. Jet lag is starting to kick in right now. The next day we have an early breakfast then off to climb Diamond Head to the summit. This is the inactive volcano that you see in all the photos of Waikiki Beach. We start our climb towards the top. We travel up 74 stairs, through a 225' narrow tunnel, up another 99 steps to the first observation deck. We then hit the spiral walkway that leads to another staircase of 54 steps to the top. We are at an elevation of 761 feet above sea level and the view is amazing. And then........ we go back down. Much easier! After returning to our hotel we shower and head out to dinner with cousin Gary. Gary has made arrangements for us to eat at Duke's Canoe Club. This is the restaurant that is featured in one of Jimmy Buffett's songs and sits right on Waikiki Beach. Great views of the ocean. We had an excellent supper and then the best part, the Hula Pie for dessert. Oh my is that good! Five years ago Gary treated us to dinner and he insisted that he do it again. Told me his favorite teacher shouldn't have to pay for dinner in Hawaii. Gee, thanks Gary!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Pixs from top are: The travelers on the observation deck, view from 761', poster for Duke's Waikiki and shot of Carol and her cousin Gary.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The "81 Survival Reasons" Story

It was an ordinary day. I just got my AARP magazine and have read it from cover to cover. For those of you who are younger than 50, AARP stands for American Association of Retired People and is the World's largest circulation magazine. Printed by the company that my son Derek works for, RR Donnelley. Saw a neat ad on the inside of the back cover where some guy gives his 81 reasons why he takes an 81mg aspirin daily. Thought is was so neat I'm doing a list of my own, since I take a daily dose of 81mg each day. Try it yourself. Here goes:
1. time with my wife Carol
2. oyster pie
3. feeding the birds
4. drinking Ting
5. visiting Pinel Island
6. soaking in the air-jet tub
7. riding my mower in the summer
8. orange creamsicles
9. Woody's crab cakes
10. trips to Chesapeake City
11. train station and airport visits with my grandson Caden
12. selling my photography
13. The Phillies
14. OCNJ with the family
15. working at the frame shop
16. picture search with my granddaughter Courtney
17. banana split dessert
18. visits with Mom
19. birthday parties
20. staying healthy
21. trips to St. Martin
22. trips to Urbana to see Brynn and Dave
23. playing Wii with granddaughter Camille
24. Brown's Donuts
25. watching planes at Sunset Bar and Grill
26. Hawaiian shirts
27. applesauce
28. sea shells and palm trees
29. making people laugh
30. air conditioning in summer
31. getting up early
32. movies
33. chicken pot pie
34. Christmas gifts
35. House Hunters International
36. breakfast with friends
37. long walks
38. cats
39. lobster at Cape May
40. yellow umbrellas on the beach
41. old jeans
42. trips to Happy Bay
43. friends on the deck in summer
45. Seinfield
46. meal at le Piment
47. holding hands with my wife
48. collecting sand
49. peanut butter twirl ice cream
50. trips to State College
51. taking photos
52. warm fire in winter
53. dropping in at Derek and Barb's house
54. cream of crab soup
55. Dancing with the Stars
56. walking the Jersey boardwalk
57. nude sunbathing at Orient
58. holidays
59. reading Patterson and Woods
60. ravioli
61. sunsets
62. Jimmy Buffett songs
63. our beach house
64. silkscreened summer T-shirts
65. son Tad's tattoos
66. afternoon naps
67. tropical drinks melting in your hand
68. my Macintosh
69. chocolate
70. seeing friends and former students
71. pain free days
72. morning good-bye kisses
73. spreading insight and wisdom
74. classic rock and roll
75. Caribbean colors
76. Thanksgiving dinner
78. turquoise blue water
79. American Idol
80. art galleries
81. writing my daily blog

Well, now it's your chance. Email them to me if you want at larcar1949@gmail.com. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Photo of LDub with wife and best friend

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The "Orioles Treat" Story

It was another ordinary day. We were on our way to Baltimore to see the Orioles play in Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The ballpark is located along the waterfront in Baltimore near Inner Harbor. Jim G. and I are taking the yearbook staff of MTHS to visit Inner Harbor and see the game. I was yearbook advisor for 31 years and Jim helped me for most of those years. We tried to schedule a trip to Baltimore every year in April or May as a reward for the staff for all their hard work on the school yearbook. Most years we were able to take a day off school and leave early on the bus so we could visit Inner Harbor first, have lunch and head to the ballpark for an afternoon game. I had to prove to the Principal that the trip was necessary in order to have free use of the bus and the day off school. He appreciated all the extras I did for the school, so it was always easy to convince him we needed to go. Worked for many years until the budget got tight and then our trip came to a halt. But, today we will see Camden Yards for the first time. It was recently finished and the Orioles are playing in the stadium for the first time this year. Today's game is against the Cleveland Indians. We have seats along the left field foul line, near the foul pole. Most seats in this park are turned toward the infield, so every seat has a great view. Jim and I have 12 girls and 3 boys with us today. My daughter is the Editor of the book this year. Sounds kinda fishy, doesn't it, that she would be the editor, but she was on the staff for four years and deserved the job. Never regretted I put her in charge. Probably was one of the best books the school every produced. The bus drops us off at Inner Harbor and I give the students a lecture on responsibility and the time that we will meet for lunch at Phillips Seafood Restaurant. Everyone must be with someone else for the morning. Back then you could trust the students to do what you asked of them. Had lunch at noon and headed over to the game. We had a great time, as we usually do! For years we went to the old Memorial Stadium at the north end of Baltimore to watch the game. We would try to get there early for batting practice, because they would let the kids sit in the first couple rows of seats in left field and talk with the players. Now that was a thrill for the high school kids. Since I had primarily all girls on the yearbook staff, the baseball players were very responsive to them calling out their names and yelling for them to come over to visit and.......the girls would toss them a pen and ask them to grab a ball and autograph it for them. They always obliged. How could you say "NO" to a bunch of good looking high school girls? It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Pixs are from top: Inner Harbor area, Camden Yards and front of the old Memorial Stadium.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The "Wash and Wax Free Rental" Story

It was an ordinary day. We are headed to the Chesapeake Bay again for vacation. This year will be really different, because one of my best friends is not coming this year. Gary H. died this year. Gary's family and my family have been sharing vacations for many years. We both go to St. James Church, we live a block apart and our children are all about the same age. We have some fantastic vacations along the Elk and Sassafras Rivers. After the first year we went together, Gary got the idea that we would have a much better time if we had a boat. So, he bought a boat. It was a bow rider which means you can seat some people in the front of the boat as well as in the back. We really did have a great time with his boat. it was a used boat, but in great shape. He towed the boat with his car and I supplied the gas for the vacation. I know I got the better part of the deal. He just loved driving the boat and would take his cigarettes and iced tea and spend the day taking the kids water skiing and tubing on the river. Only time he would come back in was when he needed more refreshments. Some times I would go along and ski or just relax in the boat, but I enjoyed sitting in the shade and reading as much as bouncing my insides around in the boat. This past Easter, April 9th, our youngest sons birthday, Gary had a heart attack and died. Only 51 years old. What a shock for everyone. We had already lined up vacation weeks in the end of August and weren't sure what we were going to do. Carol and I waited a month then talked to Sandy, Gary's wife, and we all decided that Gary would want us to head back down to the bay. Sandy had sold the boat in the early part of the summer so we would have to make alternate plans for skiing. In early July I was at school for an in-service meeting with a few members from the staff of Millersville University. At lunch time, Barry W. my department chairman, Joe McC., staff member of MU and myself headed to Frizz and Freeze at the Lancaster Airport for something to eat. You know they have the best Pork Bar-B-Q and fries! As we sat eating our meal I got to talking about my vacation and how I wish Gary would be there with his boat. The kids will miss the boat more than me. Joe McC. looked at me and said, "Take my boat for the two weeks." I just looked at him and said, "You don't know me that well to loan me your boat." He didn't hesitate and said, "I've known "OF" you for years and about your teaching methods you use and I see how particular you are with the upkeep of your classroom. Your many student teachers have passed the word along. I have no qualms about loaning you the boat for your vacation." I put out my hand and thanked him. We went to his house to look at the boat before our trip and on the day we left for the Chesapeake, he followed us in his car, pulling the boat behind. We arrived and he put the boat in the water, spent time with me on the water to show me the controls and said he would be back in two weeks to pick it up. We made arrangements for him to return the day before our vacation was over because it is always hectic cleaning the house and packing to return. I had never driven a boat before and I was frightened the entire time that I would do something to Joe's boat. We didn't use it as much as we usually used Gary's boat, because I was extremely uncomfortable driving it. It did survive our two weeks and Joe came back early on Friday so he could use it for the morning. We had invited him and his two young sons to join us for lunch that Friday so after lunch he towed the boat out of the water and backed it into the driveway at our rental house. He then said it was time now to wash and wax the boat since it was in the dirty bay water. This is a big boat and we have to wash and wax the boat!!! I didn't realize that was part of the deal, but OK. We all pitched in and by supper it was done with the cover on it. And I was REALLY tired. Never again! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Group photo of our families. Carol and I on the left front with Sandy and Gary on the right. Kids in the back. Story in memory of Gary H.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The "Oil Man is Coming" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was sitting in the Principal's office. Mr. H., the Principal, was my boss at MTHS. He wasn't happy right now!! It all started about two months ago. I was responsible for turning in a requisition for materials I would need in my classroom the following year. All Industrial Arts teachers do this. I had a certain amount I could spend so I was always hunting for the best buys for the supplies. Well, this year I had some really good suppliers who I had been ordering from for quite a few years and they gave me a really good break in prices. Because of that I did not reach the allotted amount I could spend. So......I thought it would be funny to add something extra onto my requisition to give everyone a laugh. What I added didn't turn out to be so funny. It got by my department chairman, but I figured it would since he never checked anything. At this point it has to be typed by the secretaries so it can be ordered. They secretaries typed all of the purchase orders for everything and turned them over to Mr. H. who would give the final OK, then have the purchase orders placed in the mail for delivery. Now Mr. H. runs a tight ship. That's why I really like him as my boss. It's easy to discipline a student, because you know that Mr. H. will back anything reasonable you do. I'm sitting here in his office now because he didn't back me on this one. As a joke I ordered 1000 gallons of fuel oil and put on the order "To be delivered to 925 Janet Ave." which was my home. I now have to explain why I did this. "I thought it would give everyone a good laugh. You know how we all need to laugh at times to keep our sanity." I tried to explain. He looked at me and said, "Do you know how many hours you cost the school district? Your department chairman had to read this, the secretaries had to take their time to type this and now I have to spend my time with this problem. What would have happened if this really was delivered to your house?" He's staring at me now. I know he is even thought I'm not looking at him. I got my head down. We have had a good rapport in the past and I always do a little extra to please him and he always supports what I want to do in class. But now, this big man (All-American football player for F&M) isn't laughing. I don't think he is, anyway. I reply softly, "I guess I would have used the oil to heat my house this winter." I hear nothing so I lift my head and look at him. He can hardly keep from laughing. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The "What Ever Happened to Good TV?" Story

It was an ordinary day. We are returning from supper in Germantown. Carol and I are visiting our daughter and granddaughters while our son-in-law is out of town giving a presentation on football strategies. Brynn has a minivan and I decided to sit in the way back, behind Courtney and Camille. The three of us are watching Tom and Jerry on the minivan's small color monitor. I haven't seen Tom and Jerry for years and am really enjoying it. "Keep the noise down back there," they yell from the front seats. "You're having too much fun." Yep, that's it. TV used to be fun long ago. Later that night I started to think of all the really old and not so really old TV shows that I used to watch. Not the "reality TV" that all channels have today. I guess all forms of TV have been exhausted, so they have hit the bottom with Reality TV. I do enjoy the Travel Channel, Home and Garden Channel and The Food Network, but that and the Phillies are just about all I watch. I'd rather read than watch most of the shows on TV today. Do you remember any of my old all time favorites? Such as Covered Wagon Theater which was on every Saturday morning from 7:00 to 8:00 AM. This was in the early 50s and was naturally in black and white and was a series of westerns which depicted life in the old west. Not sure of any of the actors, but certainly was plenty of gunfights and killing. Other favorites were the Lone Ranger which aired from '49-'57 and featured Clayton Moore as The Lone Ranger with his horse Silver and Jay Silverheels as Tonto, his longtime Indian friend who rode Scout. Originally in black and white, but I still watch reruns and some feature John Hart as The Lone Ranger and are colorized. Now John Hart just isn't The Lone Ranger. He's just a faux imitation. Other childhood favorites were Superman whichstarted with.....Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! "Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman! This aired from '52-'58 and featured George Reeves as mild mannered Clark Kent, a reporter for the Daily Planet. Only thing that could hurt Superman was Kryptonite. First two seasons were in black and white with the last four in color. In the mid to late 50s I was in the St. James Boy's and Men's Choir and my Dad and I would go to practice on Thursday nights from 7:30-8:30 PM. Always got home by 9:00 PM so I could watch my favorite Highway Patrol with Broderick Crawford as Dan Matthews who was an overweight, tough talking cop. Only night of the week I was allowed to stay up past 9:00 PM. Oh, the things you remember! This show ran from '55-59. Then came Dennis The Menace from '59-'63 featuring Jay North as Dennis and Joseph Kearns as Mr. Wilson. Along with these was perhaps my favorite "Family Show" which was Leave It To Beaver. The Beaver was played by Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow played his brother Wally. My favorite episode and the most expensive one to create was "In The Soup" where the Beaver got stuck in a big soup cup on top of a billboard. I'm sure you remember that one, don't you! Maybe you're not old enough to remember. I was in my early teens at the time. This show was picked as one of TV's Best 100 shows of all time. It featured only 1 African American in a one episode non-speaking part and 1 hispanic, Beaver's friend "Chuey" in one episode. Then came the science-fiction shows, Voyage to the Bottom of the Seas and The Invaders featuring Roy Thinnes as David Vincent. The invaders were aliens who had no pulse, could not bleed and had a mutated fourth finger on both hands. Carol and I always watched this show with my Mom and Dad at their house. Years for this show were '67-'69. For years I kept my eyes open for people who had their little finger off to the side. Matter of fact, I still do! Voyage to the Bottom of the Seas featured Admiral Nelson and Commander Crane who searched for the guest monster of the week in their ship, The Seaview. This show ran from '64-68. Carol and I watched this show every Sunday night in the den of her parent's home. It counted as a date! Shows I watched after this were Hawaii Five-O which aired from '68-'80 and was filmed in Honolulu except for 4 of the shows. It featured Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett and James MacArthur as Danny Williams. "Book 'em Danno!" was how the show always ended. We also loved watching "The Love Boat" which was on from '77-'82. It was considered a sit-com and was filmed on a cruise ship. Most shows were on the Pacific Princess and was on network TV on Saturday Night. We are now in the process of making plans for a cruise and hitting some of the same port-of-calls that were in this show. Now that was good TV. I actually watched a soap opera. Prime time show "Dallas" was a favorite for Carol and me. It aired from '78-'91. The Ewings lived on Southfork Ranch in Texas. The show was about wealth, sex, intrigue and power. Just like my household. Show which ended the '80 season was the most famous: "Who shot JR!" You HAD to have seen that episode!! My favorite quiz show has to be Jeopardy. Ran from '64-75 during the day with Art Flemming as host and from '84-present with Alex Trebek. I've watched it for so long that I know every single question on the show. One of my students at MTHS, Brad Rutter is the biggest winner of all time on the show. He won the Ultimate Tournament of Champions and two Chevy Camaros for a total of $2,115,000 and I didn't see a penny of that for all I taught him. Finally, I had three favorite sit-coms. The Bob Newhart Show which ran from '72-'78 and featured Bob Newhart and Suzanne Pleshette/Newhart which featured Bob and Mary Frann which ran from '82-90. Also enjoyed Cheers with Ted Danson which aired from '82-'93. If you are reading this story, I'm sure you must have watched this show! Based on the Bull and Finch Pub which is located at 84 Beacon Street in Boston. When our daughter won a prize in the Scholastic Arts Photo competition we traveled to Boston for the opening of the art show and naturally had to stop at the Bull and Finch Pub on Beacon Street. You know "It's the place where everybody knows your name!" The last show I've got to mention is the show that TV Guide voted as the "Greatest TV Show of All Time." It's my all time favorite. I watched it starting in 1989 until the last episode in 1998. I still watch at least one episode every night, two if I don't like the House Hunters International show that is on opposite it. Any idea? My favorite episodes of the show are "The Soup Nazi" and "The Contest." You gotta know by now. Jerry, George, Elaine and Cosmo Kramer. You got it!! I just finished watching "The Race." It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The "Best Ever Ravioli" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just returned from dinner at Ciros in Lancaster. Had the Ravioli one more time so I could decide if it was still at the top of my "Best Ravioli" list. I had anticipated this meal for months, but left the restaurant with mixed feelings. Now it's even harder to rate my top three or four choices for ravioli. I told Carol that I don't really have a #1 choice on my list any longer. I now have a few choices that can be interchanged depending on my mood or the location. Ciros' Ravioli Quattro Formaggi, which is four cheese ravioli with sauteed shrimp, garlic and broccoli rabe is fantastic. The yellow and green striped pasta adds an aesthetic look to the entree. The flavorful garlic sauce is what makes it so tasty. The huge shrimp are done just right and also have the garlic flavor, but the disappointment comes with the slightly bitter broccoli rabe. When I first had this offering after they opened last year, the meal had asparagus instead of broccoli. Now that easily topped my list, but they've changed it since, and it has made me take it off my list as the sure fire #1 choice. It still is one of the best you will ever eat. Another great ravioli is the Chesapeake Inn's Ravioli stuffed with crabmeat in a creamy crab aurora sauce. Can't you just taste it after reading that description? The sauce is truly unbelievable and there are big pieces of jumbo lump crab meat which fill the ravioli as well as being placed on top of the the entree. The Chesapeake Inn is located in Chesapeake City which is on the C&D Canal in Maryland. The restaurant has fantastic views of the canal and the linen tablecloths and napkins add to the warm atmosphere. About eight or nine years ago I tried some of the best tomato based ravioli in a little restaurant called Cafe Mileto in Germantown, Maryland. This restaurant was picked by a Washington DC magazine as one of the best Italian eateries in the DC area. The wood burning oven is what gives the meals the extra good flavor. But, the restaurant changed hands a few years ago and it wasn't the same. A few months ago I traveled there again with my wife, daughter and granddaughters and they have again come up with the flavor that I remembered, except that it is more cheesy than before. And, that can't be bad in my book. Again, the wood firing of the Ravioli Rose creates not only a flavorful taste, but a neat visual appearance. The last on my list of truly memorable Italian entrees comes from the island of St. Martin. On the French side of the island in a little town called Grand Case is the restaurant Il Nettuno. Funny, but the owner is an Italian who hails from Washington, DC and who is a Redskins fanatic. I try not to hold that against him. Inside the front door is a tribute wall to the Redskins. The facade of the restaurant reminds you of Italy and the meal does also. Their Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce is one of the many reasons they have been rated as one of the top 10 restaurants in St. Martin. Just looking at the photo I took of it makes my mind wander to the waterfront table with the sunset view we always get. The cobalt blue plate just seems to make the buttery sauce so much better. This pasta literally melts in you mouth. Can hardly wait till I have a chance to try it again in a few months!! I have eaten ravioli at many other places, but these four stand out in my mind as some of the best. Let me know what you think! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - from top are: Ciros' Ravioli Quarttro Formaggi, Chesapeake Inn's Ravioli stuffed with crab meat, Cafe Mileto's Ravioli Rose, and Il Nettuno's Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce

Friday, February 19, 2010

The "Long, Beautiful Hair" Story

It was an ordinary day. We are on a bus trip to New York with my Mom and Dad. They had invited us to go along to see the Broadway Musical "Hair." It was billed as an "American Tribal Love-Rock Musical." First rock musical ever on Broadway. I'm not sure they actually knew what this meant, but then again maybe they did! Carol was a few months pregnant with our first child at the time so a love rock musical was appropriate for her. The musical was written by two young actors, Gerome Ragni and James Rado, who were inspired to create a musical for the NY stage. In 1964 they started writing their creation and in 1966 were introduced toGalt MacDermot who wrote the music for the play. "Hair" tells the story of a "tribe" of politically active, long-haired hippies living inNew York City and fighting against the Vietnam War. Their fictional character "Claude", whose most valuable possession is his hair, faces induction into the Army and the apparent loss of his hair. The show opened finally at Public Theater on October 17, 19676, only to last about 6 weeks. Critics objected to the profanity, depiction of the use of illegal drugs and anti-establishment content. Many found the use of rock music in a theatrical performance vulgar. The nude scene at the end of Act One was a matter of considerable concern. After a few short weeks it opened on Broadway at the Biltmore Theatreon April 29, 1968 and ran for 1,750 performances. It traveled the globe and opened again on Broadway in 2009. People started to love the profanity, vulgarness and especially the nudity in the show. We had great seats for the show. About 15 rows from the stage, front right. Neither Carol or I had ever seen a Broadway Show and this was a real treat for us. The music was fantastic. Songs such as Good MorningStarshine, Easy to Be Hard, Sunshine, Aquarius and of course Hair where all performed in the show. At the end of the first act all participants enter the stage performing a song and most start to take their clothes off. Why? Does it matter? I hear Mom say to Dad, "Paul, they're taking their clothes off!!" Duh! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The "Bowling Trauma" Story

It was an ordinary day. My son Tad and I decided we were going bowling. Hadn't been bowling for quite a few years. I used to be in a league and really enjoyed bowling. I talked him in to going with me to Leisure Lanes along the Columbia Pike to bowl a few games. Got there and headed to the front counter to get our lane, shoes and select a ball. I took a medium weight ball for the night. Found our lane and practiced a few times. Never know how many times they will let you practice before they expect you to start your game. Planned on bowling three games if we had the energy tonight. First game was pretty even and we were just getting warm. I did notice that my thumb was fitting into the hole in the ball a little bit tighter at the beginning of the second game. About the fourth frame my thumb started to "pop" when I released the ball. Didn't seem to be a problem though. But, then the popping was over! I went to bowl the ball in the 7th frame and my thumb stuck in the hole as I tried to release the ball. Almost knocked me over from the forward motion. Boy did it hurt!! Looked at my thumb and......it wasn't the same shape it had been. I dislocated my thumb when I tried to release the ball. I was lucky enough to get my thumb out of the hole, but I also started to get sick to the stomach from the pain. Managed to realign the joints and rested for a short time. Decided to return our shoes, pay and head home. Made an appointment for the doctor the next day and after examination, he made an appointment for me with a physical therapist. I ended up with a few trips for hand therapy. Last time I ever went bowling!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The "Timeless Room" Story

It was an ordinary day. Regular day of classes in the graphics lab and then open house tonight. Every year in late September to early October the high school schedules an open house for the parents so they can visit the school and sit in on 15 minute classes to see what their children will do throughout the year. Tonight is our open house. Starts at 7:00 PM with our first period class. At 7:15 there is the four minute break to make it to the next class. This goes on throughout the evening until the parents have visited every classroom that their son or daughter may have this year. I have the son of our Superintendent in my first period class. Really a nice boy who enjoys learning. Should be fun to explain to his father, my boss, what he will accomplish during the year. Well, school has ended for the day and I am heading home to have supper and rest before heading back. Carol had a good meal prepared and after dessert I head into the living room to relax. Sit in my favorite chair and fall asleep as usual. Carol has no idea what time I must be back for open house, so she wakes me and says, "What time do you have to be back?" "What time is it now?" I ask her. "Ten minutes till seven," is her answer. She must have seen the terror in my eyes as I flew out the door with my tie and jacket in hand. Now, we live about 15 minutes from school, but I made it in a little over ten. I parked right by my room and saw the parents were already seated in the room. I hurried to the back door of the wood shop, entered the lumber room and put on my tie and jacket. I walked to the entrance to my room which is located in the wood shop and entered like I had been there all day. My biggest advantage is that my classroom used to be a storage room for the woodshop and there is no clock in the room. By now it was 7:08 and the period was half over. Lucky I had everything prepared before I went home after school earlier in the afternoon. I quickly introduced myself and went through the material and had just asked if anyone has any questions I can answer when over the loud speaker came, "Please pass to your period two class." As the parents left my room, the Superintendent said, "To bad they don't make these periods a little longer!" It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The "Coach's Dream Player" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were preparing for the big game. The New Era Tournament Championship. Every year our local newspaper sponsors a championship tournament for baseball teams in Lancaster County. The best in each league play to see who is the champion of Lancaster County. For years I have coached and only once have we reached this plateau. Five other times my teams have made it into the tournament only to be defeated before we made it to the championship game. Finally! In Little League baseball your team is based usually on your one or two best players who are always the pitchers. That has always been the case with my teams. Except for this year. My best player, Jeff Murse, injured his arm early in the season this year and the rest of the team stepped up and got us into the championship game. I had coached Jeff for five years and he was without a doubt the best player I have ever had the honor of coaching. I knew Jeff was good when he played against my team when he was 11 years old. The team I was coaching was ahead of his team by 2 runs in the bottom of the last inning. Jeff's team came to bat. We got 2 quick outs and then my pitcher, Jonathan F. lost his control. He walked the next 2 batters and brought Jeff to the plate. Jeff was very large for his age and was a tremendous baseball player. Lefty! Always makes you better. I went out to talk to Jonathan and told him he was doing great and we only needed one more out to win the league championship in our age bracket. But, I told him, "Don't throw any good pitches to Jeff." I knew Jeff would win the game for them if he got a good pitch. So Jonathan threw 2 pitches that no one could every hit. I felt so bad about my decision. My gosh, this is 9-12 year old kids I thought. Asking someone to walk a 10 year old, well you just shouldn't do that! I yelled to Jonathan, he looked at me and I signaled to throw it waist high. And he did!! Jeff hit it about 150 feet down the right field line for a homerun. Game over! But, I never regretted my move. It's just little league baseball. The next year I was asked to coach Manheim Township's "traveling team" for midget-midget aged players. Ages 11-12. Who do you think I picked first? Jeff was the star of the team and we made it to the New Era Tournament. During the season I would tell coaches, who I knew didn't know the level of players I had, to play a little deeper when Jeff came to bat. I told them I feared for the safety of his players since Jeff could hit the ball so well. One game, with bases loaded and Jeff coming to bat, I told the third baseman, who I was standing next to in my coaches spot, that he should tell his coach he better walk Jeff. Yeah, right! Jeff proved me right when he hit a Grand Slam! I had other good players, also. Adam Leed was eventually drafted by Milwaukee and he played short and outfield. Also did some pitching. We lost in the second round to a team from Willow Street which featured a player by the name of Rob Burger who was later drafted by the Phillies. The following two years, Jr. Midget age of 13-14, we also made it into the tournament only to be beaten by Burger. That kid could really bring it. Same thing in Midgets. The first year Burger beat us, but this year he is injured and his team didn't even qualify for the tournament. Funny thing, so was Jeff. But, my TEAM was much better. Well, Jeff recovered in the final week of the season and was able to pitch and win the game for us. He went on to be very successful in High School and College, but never was drafted into professional ball. He was a coach's dream player. Did everything you asked. A real leader. In a high school English class he wrote an essay titled "The Coach." Since I taught in the same school, his teacher gave me a copy. As I read it I realized that Jeff thought the same of me as I thought of him. His glowing report was humbling as well as humorous. Several sentences were pretty accurate such as: over the large hill came our coach so calmly it looked like he had just gotten up; and his orange hat covered his receding gray hair and his slender face made him look sickly; and he wore black baseball shoes which made his feet look bigger than they were; and he was a thin man with a pale complexion, and he was a very understanding, quiet, but determined as a baseball coach. He also recalled the championship game we won and said he knew we would win, because I told them years ago we were going to win it before we all stopped playing together. He said they won it for me!! WOW! Brought tears to my eyes as I read it, just as it did now as I am typing this story. He finished his essay saying I was the best coach he ever had. Pretty neat to hear that from perhaps the best player I ever coached. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Pix of Jeff pitching in the Mason-Dixon Tournament in York, PA. Tournament for the best players from NY, MD, PA, NJ, and VA. We won the tournament with Jeff and Rob pitching for us.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The "Glowing Memory" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was teaching (trying to teach) school today and we were listening to the radio and watching TV for updates. It was March 29, 1979 and the number 2 reactor at Three Mile Island has a problem. It was only about two weeks ago that "The China Syndrome" was released. This movie featured Jane Fonda as a news anchor and Michael Douglas as her cameraman who are at a nuclear plant on the west coast doing a series on nuclear power. They were talking about the safety of the plant and someone playing a nuclear safety expert says that a meltdown could render an area the size of Pennsylvania permanently uninhabitable. Wow! Now it is really happening near us. Three Mile Island is an island in the Susquehanna River which is so named because it is located three miles downriver from Middletown, PA. It is a short distance from Harrisburg, the capital of PA. The accident began at 4:00 AM on March 28 with failures in the non-nuclear secondary system, followed by a stuck-open pilot-operated relief valve in the primary system, which allowed large amounts of reactor coolant to escape. Radioactive water entered the Susquehanna River and steam poisoned the atmosphere. The reactor cooling system filled with hydrogen gas that created a bubble and people feared the reactor core would melt. We were listening intently to the radio in school throughout the day. By Friday Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburg had ordered all schools within a 10 mile radius to close and all pregnant women and preschool children to evacuate. My school is about 25 miles from TMI. People were urged to stay indoors and farmers were told to keep their cattle under cover and on stored feed. Topgovernment officials of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission were rushed to the stricken area and all civil defense units were alerted for possible total evacuation of over one million people. That would be us!! By Saturday, the NCR was discussing a possible evacuation of those people who lived within the 25 mile radius of TMI. About a quarter of a million people had already voluntarily evacuated and many more prepared for the possible evacuation. We lived 22 miles from the accident and were very concerned. We had three young children (our oldest had celebrated his birthday March 28) and were ready to leave. Our luggage was packed and we were studying the maps to see where to go. We had no clue. On Sunday, April 1, President Jimmy Carter visited the crippled reactor site and assured all that everything was stable and that radiation levels were quite safe for all concerned. The amount of radiation released was about the amount that a normal person acquires from the atmosphere during a year. Even less than a chest X-ray. He really relieved the anxiety in our household. On Monday a press conference from TMI said that the Hydrogen bubble had shrunk drastically and the reactor temperature had dropped. By the end of the week things were returning to normal and the reactor had cooled and the clean-up was beginning. No one died in the accident, but people downwind of the accident site reported a spike in infant mortality two years after the incident. TMI paid out $82 million in claims because of the accident. Today the TMI #2 reactor is permanently shut down and defueled, but operations are still going on at TMI. Two weeks ago officials of the NRC announced that the Unit #2 will be used at Shearon Harris Nucleur Plant in New Hill, NC. We are waiting for the 670 ton unit to be moved. Not all was stressful because of the accident. Somethings that occurred: I was asked to write an article for the APBA (Board game produced in Lancaster) Journal detailing the event; Dan Aykroyd, playing President Carter in a Saturday Night Live skit, visited TMI and becomes exposed to large doses of radiation and turns into a giant; Dan Fogelberg, in his song "Face the Fire", refers to TMI with..."I hear the thunder three miles away, the island's leaking into the bay..."; In The Simpsons episode King-Size Homer, Homer is able to avert a nuclear meltdown; In the 2009 film X-Men Origins: Wolverine, during a battle among Wolverine, Sabertooth and Deadpool, one of the cooling towers is destroyed; In Family Guy, Quagmire belonged to an improv group called "Three Smile Island; and the best.......Adam Bomb, WWE pro wrestler, was billed as hailing from Three Mile Island. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Photos from top are map of the area, TMI with cooling towers, Jimmy Carter visiting TMI and time cover.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The "MOHS Surgery" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was headed to Dermatology Associates where I go every year to be checked for skin cancer. Went a couple of months ago and they found two spots that needed to be removed. I scheduled an appointment for one of the spots a few weeks before we go on vacation in the spring. The more I thought about it I didn't want to have bandages or band aids on my ear when we go to the beach, so I called and asked if they have a cancellation to let me know. Well yesterday they called and told me to be there today. Luckily, the only thing I had scheduled was breakfast with the retired teachers and I could miss that, so I told them I could make it. Today I will have this spot on the top of my left ear, which hasn't healed for a few months, removed. Now, I suspect I got this spot from being out in the sun too much. Carol and I love the beach and visit it a few weeks a year. The doctor told me to stay out of the sun OR wear a hat that covers my ear. Like a baseball helmet! OK. Dr. Hebel told me she was going to perform Mohs Surgery on me today. She first photographed my ear and then numbed it and cut off a section of the top. She promised me I would still have enough left to wear my glasses. I then had my ear bandaged and went to the waiting room. As I entered the waiting room, there was Kathy S. who used to teach school with me and was also due at breakfast. She had a huge bandage across her lip. "They promise you that you could still wear lipstick?" I asked her. She smiled and said, "Why aren't you at breakfast?" "Same reason you're not," I replied. Then she asked, "where is your lunch?" Everyone in the room had a lunch bag with them. "Nobody told me about bringing lunch," I said. "And did you drive yourself here?" she wanted to know. "Sure, why not?" I said. "Because we were told to have transportation and lunch for the day," she told me. FOR THE DAY! I missed that part of the phone call yesterday, I guess. Oh well, they had a basket of snacks which looked like my lunch for the day. I had no idea how long I would be there. In an hour the nurse took me back to the room and Dr. Hebel told me I needed to have more cut off. That is what MOHS Surgery is. They take some, examine it for irregular cells, take more, examine it again, etc., until they have it all. I have basal cell carcinoma and that has roots that have to be stopped so they don't spread, therefore the lengthy process. Again I waited an hour. Had a few snacks and a drink while I waited. Also found a neat book to read on Rocky Springs Park which featured the rollercoaster. I happened to have my camera along and so I took a photo to use for my blog story on my trip to Rocky Springs (The "Wildcat" Story). Again I was called and again I had more cut off. Starting to get worried no one will recognize me ever again. By now Kathy was done and had called her husband to pick her up. Finally, "You are ready for stitches," the nurse tell me. That took an HOUR! 18 stitches! She had to pull the skin on the back of my ear up and over the top and stitch it inside the top of the ear. "How can you do that?" I asked her. "I'm a plastic surgeon also," she told me. Well, when she finished she photographed it and the nurse bandaged the side of my head. Looked like I had my whole ear cut off. The next day I removed the bandage and voila, it looked gross. But time heals all wounds and it did this one also. Had the stitches removed and am good to go.......to the beach. My wife told me both ears match. Yeah! She really does love me! In two more weeks I get the other spot dug out on my back. Oh boy, more fun. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The "Vampires are Coming!" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had bats in the house again at 925 Janet Ave. REAL LIVE BATS!! We get these unwanted guests frequently. Not sure why they pick on us or how they get in, but they do. And, they freak us out! They really do look like vampires when you look at them up close. Except for the fangs. I know they do good, but they don't have to do it in my house. We have had many incidents of the bats, but a few are memorable. Tad, our youngest, was watching TV in our basement with the lights out and all of a sudden something flew right past his ear. Took another swoop at him and he was up the steps as fast as he could go. Never found that one! Carol was home by herself one evening, watching TV in the living room when she noticed the cats siting in the doorway to the dining room with their heads slowly moving side to side. All of a sudden it headed into the living room, past her, and up the steps. She didn't dare go up the steps until someone came home and she had reinforcements in her battle. That one disappeared also. Another time we were both in the living room and one flew in from the kitchen and up our stairs. We did a systematic search of the second floor and found the bat in our daughter's bedroom hanging in her closet between layers of clothes. That one I managed to get into our butterfly net and released outside so he could find his way back in again. Oh, well! Twice we had bats that got into our covers that I had made to cover our radiators. The front of the cover had a decorative mesh. They would hang on the inside of the covers and were easy to see, but very hard to catch. So....I would take a sharp object and stab them through the cover. Hard part was taking the cover apart to retrieve the dead bat. The most memorable escapade was one evening we were awakened by a thumping noise in our third floor where our two sons slept. "What is that noise?" I asked Carol. We listened for some time and then she said, "Something is flying around upstairs and Gladys is jumping up to try to get it." Gladys is our Siamese cat who is a good jumper and very swift at catching the bats. I headed up the steps slowly and sure enough, the bat kept circling the room and the cat kept jumping. Didn't time it quite right yet, but I knew she would soon. Downstairs I ran to grab the butterfly net. Got low on the floor and when I saw the bat circle again, I raised the net in the path of the flight. Viola! Caught the thing, much to the dismay of the cat. Quickly released it outside into the dark night to haunt us again. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The "Terrified Rider" Story

It was an ordinary day. We are visiting Hersheypark. The "We" is Carol and I and our three kids Derek age 8, Brynn age 5 and Tad age 3. Hershey is about a half hour drive from Lancaster and was a neat inexpensive day trip for a family. At least it used to be. Hersheypark opened in 1907 in Hershey, PA. Known as "The Sweetest Place on Earth." Hersheypark was originally opened as a leisure park for the employees of Hershey Chocolate Company. Hersheypark was a little different in the mid-70s than it is today. Back then it was a pay as you ride park. There was no admissions fee to get into the park. No fence around the park. We have the stroller along today to help with the transportation. Naturally we hit the children's rides as soon as we get there. We all hopped on the Merry-Go-Round multiple times, rode the Dry Gulch Railroad and then the Monorail. This is the only ride that travels outside the park, crossing Spring Creek and traveling to the chocolate factory. Lunch time rolled around pretty quickly and we had burgers, hotdogs, fries and drinks. After lunch we took in the dolphin show which no longer exists. As we strolled through the park we passed the Comet which is a wooden rollercoaster built in 1946. This is my favorite ride in the park. We stop and look up at the top of the ride towering above us. I know Carol won't ride with me so I half heartedly ask the kids, "who wants to ride with me?" Immediately Brynn says, "I will, Dad." Carols tells me, "you can't take her on that ride. She's not big or old enough." "Ahh, come on. Sure he is," I reply. She is really excited by now, or at least I am, so we head up the ramp to the entrance. The other three stand at the bottom to watch us. Yep, she just clears the bar at 3 feet 6 inches. Not long before we hand the girl our tickets and hop in a seat near the center of the train. Fasten the seat bar and off we go. After the first drop of 96 feet at a 52 degree angle, also called the "Chocolate Drop," the train goes up another hill and then makes a 180 degree turn, drops back down another hill, goes up a small hill, and then up a larger hill, making another 180 degree turn. After the turn, there is another drop, and after a bunny hill, the track makes a right turn ("dog leg"), going through several bunny hills before another 180 degree turn. Following the second set of bunny hills is a left turn, two bunny hills and the then the train slows into the station. I really didn't make this up. I copied and pasted it from the Comet web site. And.......it really is as thrilling and exciting as it sounds. The whole time Brynn is screaming, "I'm scared, I'm scared!" Her face shows her alarm. But, as the train goes over the last set of bunny hills and into the station she yells, "can we go again?" It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The "Lost Day, The Snowicane" Story

It was an ordinary day. Yeah, right! This really sucks!! I'm getting too old for this. Retirement communities, where they mow the grass and shovel the snow, really look enticing. We awoke Wednesday morning with heavy snow falling. By noon it was blowing with wind gusts up to at least 200 MPH. Our back deck had drifts up to twenty feet, or at least it seemed that big. The bird feeder was empty and I couldn't get to it. They just stared in the the door at me, wondering when I was getting breakfast for them. Sorry guys, not today. We just huddled by the fireplace most of the day. Every 15 minutes one of us would look out the back door and say, "Holy cow, you should see it now!" Just like all of you do, right? Well the other one would have to jump out of their chair and go see. Then return to watch the progress of the snowicane. This snow was one of the top 5 storms in history in Lancaster County. The other two large storms we had this year also broke the top 5. WOW! And my snow blower was still broke. We now have 34.5 inches for the month and it's only the middle of the second week. More is predicted for next week. I'll tell you, this has to be the #1 overall storm for inconvenience and worry. Yesterday as I stood by the back door, watching the snow build up, the phone rang. It was my Mother. Her back hurt so bad she couldn't stand it. Hadn't slept all night. The nurse got on the phone and told me they were calling for an ambulance. I had huge drifts in my driveway with no blower. I told her I would call the hospital in an hour to see about her progress. After many tests, they determined she had a broken bone in her back. Big doses of pain killer was all they could do until the back healed. The ambulance returned her to her home mid-day. She wasn't a happy camper. Last night at 9:00 PM we looked out the back door and there stood our outdoor feral cat friend. She was hungry. She was standing on the three inch door jam, wedged between the snow and the glass. "How did she get here?" Carolasked. "Beats me," I said. But there she was. I grabbed a shovel to clear a spot, but she wanted nothing to do with that. When I opened the door, in she came. NEVER DID THAT BEFORE! We quickly put our two cats in the bedroom and tried to find where she had gone. We found her huddled under a table in the basement. She ate a bowl of food and headed up the stairs. Scared as can be. Carol opened the back door and I followed her out to the kitchen and out the door she went. She'll be back, I'm sure. Well, I'm sitting here by the computer making this story take as long as I can so I don't have to go out in the cold and see if I can get us out of the driveway. My spellcheck is telling me I have snowicane spelled wrong, but give me no other ways to spell it. I can't think of anything else to add. Oh, yeah! I can add some photos!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - The top photo shows that one of the main storm centers is directly over my house!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The "Florence and David" Story

It was an ordinary day. Wednesday. We had just arrived at Florence, Italy. Traveled here earlier this morning from Vicenza. Carol and I are with a group of 30 tourists from Lancaster. We started with 32, but two returned to the USA after the first stop. Forgot their toothbrushes! No, the husband became ill so they returned home. We are at the Ristorante Aruora, overlooking Florence, for a 3 course lunch of bruschetta, quail and veggies and a dessert. Naturally, all the wine you could drink came with the meal. Water, which came with or without "gas" (carbonation), cost extra. After lunch we visited the Villa Mediceenes which was a beautiful house with fantastic gardens. It was the rush tour because we showed up early afternoon when they wanted to a nap. Checked in at the Hotel Machiavelli Palace which is in the downtown of Florence. 4thfloor room with a balcony overlooking the street. Really neat. That evening Carol and I traveled across the street with Rosalyn and her daughter Melissa for the best pizza I had ever had. So good we had to order another one. Thursday we took a walking tour of Florence and visited The Academy Gallery where Michelangelo' sculpture "David" is displayed. Breathtaking! No photos are allowed. They take your camera if you try. After we left, I stood right outside the door and when the next person opened the door I was ready with my camera. But....the guard put his hand in front of me so I couldn't get a good shot. I'm not sure what the big deal is with taking the photo. We also toured the Gothic Cathedral of Santa Mariadel Fiore in Piazza Duomo and the open air markets. What I thought was a lifelike sculpture in one of the piazzas turned and offered his hand to me. Holy s*#t! Scared the crap out of me. Naturally I shook his hand. He wouldn't let go until I found some change to give him. The following morning Melissa, Rosalyn and I got up early and headed to the market house. Every type of fruit, vegetable, pasta, fish and meat you can imagine. Most animals still had the head attached. Really gross!! No breakfast needed after that. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Photos from top are: view from our hotel balcony, fantastic four at supper, our pizza, "David", Carol supporting a sculpture, Larry shaking hands with a sculpture, and butcher with chicken at the market.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The "Under The Big Top" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were in State College visiting with Jerry and Just Sue for the weekend. When we visit with them they make arrangements for us to do something special as we do when they come to Lancaster to visit with us. Saturday and we are headed to the circus. I hadn't been to the circus for many years so this was going to be a treat. Ringling Bros. Barnun and Bailey Circus. They were going to appear at the Bryce Jordan Center which is the big arena at Penn State University. Beautiful day for a trip to the circus. On Thursday of this week, Jerry went to the local train yard and watched as the Circus Train arrived. It was about a mile long and had approximately 60 cars. This was the "Red" edition of the circus. Ringling has red, blue and gold editions which travel to different parts of the globe. This "Red' edition was called "Over the Top." PT Barnum started "The Greatest Show on Earth" in 1871. In 1891 Barnum died and James Bailey bought the circus from his widow. In 1884 the Ringling Brothers started a small circus and in 1907 bought Barnum and Bailey after James died. This is much the same circus we will see today except with new animals and performers. The "Oldest man on Earth" might be the same performer as they had years ago. We walked around the outside of the arena and saw the elephants, horses and other animals being fed and groomed and then headed into Bryce Jordan for the show. Since the show wasn't going to start for another hour we were allowed down onto the main floor to see and talk to the performers. The clowns were entertaining as were the jugglers and balancing acts. I kind of got separated from the other three and all of a sudden this clown grabs my arm from behind and tells me he needs my help in exchange for a bag of popcorn. OK! Within minutes the spotlight goes to him and he introduces me as his assistant. He has me kneel next to him and he proceeds to clean my head with a spray bottle and a towel. Then he introduces a toilet plunger which is painted blue with a blue and white striped handle. OK! Next he sticks it to my head. Wow! When he pulls on it my head rises. Really good suction. Camera are flashing and I am smiling at the crowd. Then he takes a china plate from his bag and starts to spin it on the top of the plunger. I guess. I can't see it but he tells the crowd about it. Then he has me slowly stand with the spinning plate above my head. Voila!! The crowd applauds, I kneel down again, he tugs on the plunger until it comes off and then gets lost in the crowd. I had my two minutes of fame, but no popcorn!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The "Snowpocalypse" Story

It was an ordinary day. We just had the biggest snowstorm of the decade. I know, the decade only started, but it sure was big and will be hard to top. I hope! The local newspaper carried a headline saying "Walloped! They also said it was not officially a blizzard, but a huge storm. Years from now, they say, we'll likely remember this as "The Blizzard of 2010", but it will officially be labeled "The Really Big, Huge Snowstorm of 2010." One way or another, it was a true nor'easter that left 26 3/4" o snow on our back deck. OVER 2 FEET OF SNOW!! It started snowing yesterday about 3:30 PM. Light stuff with no ground coverage. About dark it was starting to lay on the grassy areas. When we went to bed at 11:00 PM I asked Carol if I should go out and shovel what we already had. She said it wasn't worth it, so I didn't bother. When I awoke this morning at 7:00 AM and looked out the bedroom window, I couldn't believe what I saw on our back deck. And it was still snowing hard. WOW!! Our son Derek checked in and said he had been shoveling for over three hours and still isn't out. Our daughter Brynn, who lives in Urbana, MD, answered the phone with, "We're never getting out." And, our other son Tad said he has a pile of snow 20' high in his front yard from the snow plow pushing all the snow from his cul de sac into it. So far this winter in Lancaster we have had 60.2" of snow. Only the winter of 2002-03, when we had 63.2" of snow, has topped it. But, the winter isn't over yet. These numbers are for the season from November through April and are records from 1926 when the local newspaper started production. Personally, I have had more than enough this year. We have a forecast of more coming the middle of the week. Oh boy! Really makes you think that if would be a good idea to move to the Caribbean. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Naturally I have pixs - top to bottom: our house during the storm, side yard drifts, LDub measuring the depth and the back deck at dark.