Extraordinary Stories

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Friday, April 30, 2010

The "Entrepreneurial Spirit" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was getting ready to play Mike Z. in a four game series of APBA. APBA, which stands for American Professional Baseball Association, is a board game that I got hooked on a few years ago when my wife bought it for me as a gift. It is dice activated and is based on the previous baseball season's statistics for each player. In 1974 I formed a league of players in Lancaster and we met and drafted our teams. The league is called the Lancaster Red Rose League and has dues that are used to buy a new set of cards each year. There are 8 members and we play four game series throughout the summer months, visiting each others houses for the games. A year later I built a miniature stadium that I could play all my games on. It was made of wood with a silkscreened playing field, scoreboard that reminds you of Fenway Park in Boston, outfield fence with advertisements, bases that light to indicate players that have reached base and lights so I can play at night. Pretty neat! The scoreboard has a light behind it that illuminates Lite Brite pegs that I use to indicate the inning and the score. I called it PADEBRY STADIUM after my three kids, Paul, Derek and Brynn. I even started a dice collection to use when I play the games. Well, everyone really liked it and told me I ought to sell them. So I did! In 1976 I decided I was going to make the boards and sell them. I put a full page advertisement in the national APBAJournal and offered them for sale. Cost was $125.00 for a game board. I was talking to a friend who is a lawyer about the game board and he suggested I form a corporation that sells the game. If someone would be playing the game on the board and happen to get injured or maybe let the game on and it would catch fire and burn their house down, they would have to sue the corporation and not me. They also suggested I buy liability insurance which I did. Anything that had both my name and my wife's name on it would be protected, since the game company was just in my name. I assumed he knew what he was talking about so I formedWBBB Corporation and bought the insurance. Stood for Woods Base Ball Board. I also had to go to a patent attorney to made sure that no one else had ever made something like it and I would be infringing on his patent. He checked the patent files in Washington and I was good to go. It cost me about $500 to form the corporation and have the patent researched and for that I got a certificate and a stamp I could use to make papers official. Never used it once! Now I was in business. Printed thesilkscreened felt fields at school in my shop as well as cut out all the wood pieces in the wood shop at school. Bought the electrical components at Radio Shack and I was in production. I did make a disclaimer sticker that said WBBB wasn't responsible for electrical shock is game was used near water. I figured that some APBA nut might try to play it while bathing. One of my first sales was to the President of the APBA Game Co., Mr. J. RichardSeitz. He gave me a very nice recommendation that I used in one of my full page ads. Eventually the APBA Journal called and asked me to be a contributor to the journal and asked to if I would write a story about the stadiums that people had made that play in our league. OK, I can do that. Naturally, I included photos of my kids playing on the board. I sold about a dozen stadiums. After two years I had sold about a dozen boards. Sounds pretty good except withthe cost of supplies, shipping and packaging and the liability insurance I had to buy, I made probably $200 total. I finally thought it wasn't worth it so I went out of business. Still had my original board and had made one similar for my son Derek who also enjoyed playing APBA. In 2005, over 25 years since I had made the boards, I got a call from someone in California who was an APBA addict and who had found a few copies of the APBA Journal from the 70s and 80s. He saw my game advertisement in the journal and was calling to see if he could buy one. Wow!! I explained that I went out of business and only had my original board I made for myself. "Does it still work?" he asked me over the phone. "It did a few years ago when I moved and tried it out to see if I should keep it or discard it," I told him. "I'll buy it!" he exclaimed. "Just name your price." Now, this was something I was maybe going to throw out and still had the original light bulbs in it and the lines on the base paths were almost worn off from constant play, but he insisted. Didn't even want to see a photo of it. He just wanted a piece of APBA memorabilia for his collection. I told him he can have it for $125 plus the price to ship it. Price I sold them for in the late 70s. "That's a bargain! I'll send you a check today," he told me. "OK, give me your address and I'll mail it as soon as I get the check," I replied. A few days later I sent my original board to California to be used again for the game I once loved to play. I still think of it every now and then and wonder if he is enjoying it as much as I did. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Photos from top are: Copy of ad I placed in the APBA Journal, pix of daughter Brynn playing on my personal game board and Derek playing on similar version I made him for his birthday.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The "Discovering the Streets of Pompeii" Story

It was an ordinary day. We boarded the bus about 3 hours ago and are almost at Pompeii now. Yep, that Pompeii. The one in Italy. It is one of or final days in Italy and our guide, Mary Lou B. had made arrangements for us to travel from Rome to see the historical city of Pompeii. Pompeii is a ruined and partially buried Roman city near Naples. It was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning two days in 79 AD. The city was buried under about 70 feet of ash and pumice, and it was lost for nearly 1,600 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1592. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire. Today, over 2,500,000 tourists visit it annually and the street vendors try to sell to every one of them. We have a guide for the tour, but since there are about 30 of us, it is hard at time to hear all the details about the destruction and discovery of Pompeii. We start with a walk that displays Mt. Vesuvius in the background. A constant reminder of what caused all the damage. Naturally, everyone has to have a souvenir photo from that Kodak location. As we follow our guide we see that this city, even though it is still in ruins, still has a population of feral cats and homeless dogs. I stop to feed one of the dogs part of a snack I brought along. We stop to see the sizes of the old houses which display brass house numbers as they did before the destruction. The Streets of Pompeii were paved during Roman times with large polygonal blocks of stone. They are bordered by curbs and pedestrian walkways. On most streets there are raised stones at regular intervals that pedestrians used to cross the streets when water flooded them. The sculptures and frescoes that have been restored are beautiful with soft tones and colors. Quite a few erotic frescoes have been uncovered and many houses had stone carvings in the walk in from the house of the male phallus. We were told that signified that the house was blessed with children. As you stand and take in the entire city, it is truly amazing that the country was able to excavate this city to the way it used to be. Our trip ended with a three course meal outside the city walls. I don't remember much about the meal except that it included large quantities of local wine and big plates of spaghetti. Hey, now I can hardly wait to get home to Lancaster and carve three big penises in my driveway. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - pixs from top are: Carol and LDub in Pompeii with the volcano in the background, stone street with LDub feeding a stray, restored theatre, frescoes on the wall with restored sculpture, stone carving indicating a fertile home and Carol with her waiter getting ready for course #2, the pasta.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The "CONTEST" Story

It was an ordinary day. I just got my latest Caribbean Travel and Life magazine. My favorite magazine, but you know, I can read the entire thing from cover to cover in a night. Then I'm ready for the next one. Sad part is they only publish 10 times a year. As soon as I got it I opened to the "Postcards" section. Something like the letters to the editor section. For the past two years or so they have had a contest where you can send them a photo of yourself or of you and others reading CT&L while on vacation, and if they publish it, you win a prize. You have to make sure you include a note about when and where the photo was taken. Well, I have been trying forever it seems to win a prize. I know it is probably only a T-shirt or hat, or maybe an extension on your subscription, but it's still fun to try and see your photo in the magazine. The last one I sent was from the vendor's market in Marigot, St. Martin. Guess they didn't like it because the one that is published is some scuba diver and his wife holding the magazine under water in Shark Alley in Freeport, the Bahamas. Naturally there is a shark in the photo swimming towards them!! I guess that was better than my boring photo. Matter of fact, I liked it better than mine. In the past I have sent a photo of Carol and me with our snorkel gear on the beach in Barbados pointing while holding the magazine and a photo of Carol and me sitting in Mullins Restaurant in Barbados with the magazine. I am going to give it one more try. Carol recently took a photo of me on Happy Bay beach in St. Martin, a clothing optional beach, sitting on a lounge chair reading the magazine with just my hat on my head. See what they think of that pix. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Pix from the top are: Me in vendor's market in Marigot, Carol and I on the beach in Barbados, Carol and I at Mullins Restaurant in Barbados and the latest entry, me on the Happy Bay beach in St. Martin.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The "Team that should have been Champs! Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just finished our 1969 season in the Red Rose Junior Midget League. I started coaching little league youth baseball last year during my first year of teaching at Manheim Township. I had been married a year and asked Carol if she would mind if I would coach little league baseball. I just love the game and wasn't happy not playing baseball anymore so I decided to coach it. Found a sponsor in Hamilton Watch Company in Lancaster and started to plan for the season. Made a few phone calls and had a team in the Red Rose League. There were no geographical boundaries that I had to choose from, so I thought about where I would find some of the best athletes and decided to hold tryouts in the southeast section of Lancaster City. This is predominately a minority section of the city and knew they would enjoy a chance to play baseball. Had over 50 people try out and kept the 15 best kids. Tough to tell some they didn't make the team, but I told them to try out again next year. Well, we did OK for our first year and ended with an even record. The star of the team was pitcher-1st baseman Brent Hawkins whose father was my coach when I played 1st base for Schick in 1956. I was real excited about our chances for this year. At the beginning of the season I asked my cousin's husband, Lance, to help me again and I also asked my wife's cousin Bobby Nonnemacher. to help. Bobby had pitched for the Cleveland Indians for two years before his career ended with an injury. He was a big left-hander and the kids would love to have him help with the team. Well, we had a great summer of baseball. Ted Groff led the team in wins on the mound. He was a lefty and Bobby took him under his wing and spend hours teaching him the fundamentals of pitching. Bobby tutored him throughout his career in high school and Ted eventually was drafted by the Minnesota Twins organization. He also had to quite baseball because of an arm injury. We had a centerfielder in Keith Gordon who later became a star athlete for Lancaster McCaskey High School. We also had a player who was almost as tall as me and I believe weighed more than me who I would have pitch when we wanted to intimidate the opponent. He could throw the ball harder than anyone in the league, but you weren't quite sure where it was going. Scary at times. Eddie H. eventually spent time in jail for intimidating too many people. We ended the regular season with a record of 11 wins and 2 losses. Won the Division title of the Red Rose League and made it into the New Era Tournament which is a year-end tournament of teams that excel in their league seasons. The tournament is sponsored by the Lancaster New Era newspaper and is every boy's dream to play in this tournament. We progressed through the first two rounds and had to play Lancaster Township in the semi-finals. Lancaster Township featured a right-hander by the name of Kip K. We had beaten LT earlier in the year, but Kip hadn't pitched. I knew he would be ready for us. We took an early one run lead on them and then Ted Groff came to bat for us with two guys on and two outs. I just knew we were going to add to our lead, but Kip threw a fastball that hit Ted in the helmet and knocked him to the ground. He was extremely groggy so I suggested that his dad take him right to the hospital. Bobby went with them and we continued the game. LT managed to get our next batter to get out of the inning. To this day I believe that the LT coach told his pitcher to throw at Ted to get him out of the game! And ....... I told him that right in front of the large crowd!! My kids and parents cheered me the whole time. Never denied it either. My team was disheartened after losing their leader. I put Eddie in to pitch, but LT scored two runs on us and won the game. They eventually won the Jr. Midget title in the New Era Tournament. The '69 Team ended the season 13-3, but knew they were the best team in Lancaster County. Later I found that during the season Bobby managed to get some great results from the players by offering them incentives for good production. A dollar here for so many strikeouts or fifty cents there for a homerun. Wondered why they liked him so much. All I ever offered them was ice cream cones after every win that year. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

PS - Team photo featuring front (l-r): Parke, Raver, Schreiner, Wiker, Koller, Overly, Keller, center: Tim Groff, Wiker, Kling, Eshelman, Ulmer, Ted Groff, rear: Fulkerson, Gordon, Hollman, Brown, Lentz, Gabel, coaches: LDub, Nonnemacher, Smith

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The "Stingray City" Story

It was an ordinary day. We are headed to world famous Stingray City in Grand Caymen. Jerry, Just Sue, Carol and I are on a 7 day Western Caribbean Cruise with Royal Caribbean. We are on Explorer of the Seas and will have stops in Belize City, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Grand Caymen. Did some really neat things at the other ports and now will try our luck with stingrays. Five months ago Australian celebrity Steve Irwin, known as the Crocodile Hunter, died from an encounter with a stingray. Seems he swam too close to one and when going over top of it the barb from the tail pierced his chest. It's toxin caused him to have a seizure resulting in cardiac arrest. And ..... today we are going to swim with and hold stingrays. It's listed on our brochure as a "once in a lifetime" experience. I hope not! We debark on Grand Caymen and travel in a snorkeling boat to the area where the stingrays gather. Air and water temperature are 82 degrees today. As we approach we can see shadows in the water ahead. The clue to the location would be the six or seven other snorkeling boats that are already there. No wonder the stingrays frequent this area. Daily free food will draw almost anything including humans. We put our snorkel gear on and are given safety tips to follow with the stingrays. OK, let's go! The water is only waist level so it is easy to maneuver around. The rays are beautiful and so graceful as they swim by and around us. Hey, where is the food I'm sure they are saying. We are told to take the squid we are given and hold them on our open hand. The rays will swim over your arm and take the fish with their mouth which is on the underside of the ray. They do have two shell crushing plates in their mouths for crustaceans so we are told not to reach in their mouths. Who we be so stupid? I'm sure someone got fingers crushed at one time or another. Their skin is velvet-like to the touch. Kind of scary when all these rays are around you and hit you with the barb on their tails. I managed to do some snorkeling and take some photos. Then, when the food was gone, they seemed to sense that and headed to another boat. Well, we survived and lived to tell the tale. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Pixs from top are: Explorer of the Seas is intimidating, our snorkeling boat, Stingray City site, underwater ray and Carol enjoying touching the underside of a ray.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The "Jaws of New Jersey" Story

It was an ordinary day. Carol and I and the three kids are at the beach for a week. Staying at Sea Isle City, NJ this year in a second floor apartment right on the beach. Neat place. Rented it from the mother of one of the teachers that I work with at MTHS. Derek is 10 years old, Brynn is 7 years old and Tad is 5 years old. Great fun for the family to spend time together. Directly in front of us is the Atlantic Ocean. The beach is about 40 yards wide at this point and the house sits behind a 10 to 12 foot high sand dune. Our view is unobstructed and it is an easy walk over the dune to the beach. At one point on the beach the water has erroded the sand enough that it has created a small pool of water that, during low tide still remains and is a great place for the kids to play. Water in the pool is about a foot deep and the pool reaches about 30 feet long and 10 feet across. During high tide all sorts of creatures and small fish find their way into the pool, and as the tide recedes, they stay trapped in the pool until the following high tide. Great for the kids to learn about the things that live in the sea. Almost our own private salt water aquarium. High tide has been running about 4:00 AM so by 8:00 AM the water in the pool has been shut off from the ocean's flow and by the time we head to the beach at 9:30 AM we can enjoy the creatures that have been trapped. Yesterday a horseshoe crab was the catch of the day for the tidewater pool. The kids enjoyed watching it try to bury itself in the wet sand and got to feel the shell of the crab. There are always plenty of sand hard shell crabs and small fish that we find in the water. But ...... today we have new found excitement. We are some of the first on the beach and while Carol and I set up the chairs and umbrella, the kids run to the pool to see what they can find. Just as fast as they went over to the pool of water, they return. Extremely excited!! "Dad, there's a shark in the water over there," Derek yells to me. "How do you know that?" I ask him. "Because it has a big fin that sticks up out of the water. And, he's about this long," he says as he opens his arms as wide as he can. Now he has my attention! We hurry, no run, over to the two foot deep water and sure enough there is a two foot shark gliding along on the bottom of the water, his top fin sticking out of the water. Now others have gathered around the pool and are looking at the shark. Close by is the life guard stand and they have just set up for the day. I tell Derek to go get a lifeguard while I make sure no one jumps in the water with the shark. Soon the lifeguard comes and stands with us and examines our find. That's either a small nurse shark or a brown shark. The only way you can tell the difference is the size of the dorsal fin, and he wasn't sure which it was. Both feed on small fish, mollusks, rays and crustaceans. That's why they are swimming along the bottom of the water, looking for food. Naturally I ask, "Will they bite the kids?" "I don't think so, but I'll get someone to come and take it back out into the water so we don't have any trouble." About a half hour later a jeep rolls to a stop by the pool and two guys with heavy gloves walk into the water and pick up the shark and carry it out to the ocean. Looks like a parade behind them as the kids and a few adults (including me) follow to see it swim off into the safety of the sea. I'll tell you, it took a while for the kids, and me, to decide to get into the water that day. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "Alamanda" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were having breakfast in our room at the Alamanda. This is our third year to stay at the Alamanda in St. Martin. Great place with friendly people. Over the years we have made become good friends with Vincent, the manager and Geraldine, the desk clerk. We arrived yesterday and after we checked in, we found our way to our room. There on the table was a large bottle of Ma Doudou rum. How'd they know I love the stuff? The Alamanda is on one of the prettiest beaches in the world. Orient Beach is on the Orient Bay on the north-east corner of St. Martin. St. Martin is the French side of the island while Sint Maarten is the Dutch side of the island. Both sides have so much to offer, but we prefer the laid back atmosphere of the French side. So easy for sand gravity to take over at the Alamanda. The Alamanda shares the name of the flower that has year-round production of large, bright flowers that have made it a popular ornamental. It is also known as the Yellow Bell, Golden Trumpet and Butterfly Flower. The resort is a two story property in the center of Orient Village and is constructed in a "U" shape with a pool in the center that faces Orient Beach. They have a small outdoor restaurant near the pool where they serve primarily breakfast and lunch. But, today we are having our breakfast in our room. I went to the nearby Tap 5 store for French pastries. I bought the apple and the chocolate filled variety. The pastry dough just melts in you mouth. Fruit juice is all we need to compliment out breakfast. While visitors at the resort, we have use of very nice cushioned beach chairs at the Kakao Restaurant, a short walk from the resort. The beach is beautiful with white, powder soft sand and 85 degree water which has all the shades of the color cyan. At night we sometimes walk to the Alamanda's rooftop deck to see the stars over Orient Bay. Just a beautiful sight. We have rented a car because we like to explore, but you would be able to spend your entire vacation based at the Alamanda. Orient Village has many restaurants and stores. About the only thing we do not care for at the Alamanda is saying "Good-bye" at the end of our stay. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Pixs from top are: The Allamanda flower, entrance to the Alamanda Resort, panoramic photo of the Alamanda from the beach, our breakfast table, pastries from Tap 5 and Kakoa beach on Orient Bay

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The "Dump Truck Driver" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was returning from my part-time job as a mulch driver. I retired from teaching last year and decided to try a few new things to help pay for our vacations. On my way to my part-time job at the art gallery and frame shop in Neffsville, PA where I work a few days each week for a former student, Keith, I saw this sign at Brooklawn Farm asking for drivers to deliver mulch. Hey, I can do that. So, on my way home from the gallery that day I stopped at Brooklawn and talked to Jim E. Jim was also a former student who I had in my shop classes and who then became an Industrial Arts teacher after graduating from Millersville Univ. Jim taught school with me for a few years at MT, then decided to take over the family farming business when his father could no longer handle the work. Jim did get something from his years of teaching though. His wife! Was a language teacher at good old MTHS. Well, I stopped and saw Jim as I entered. "Hi, Mr. LDub," Jim said. "What can I do for you?" I responded with, "I saw your sign out front and want to drive that big dump truck sitting out front next to my car!" We talked about what is expected and I told him I only wanted a day or two a week and we agreed on times and wages. Wasn't the best paying job in the world, but looked like fun. In a few days I was behind the wheel of the big monster. Jim used a front end loader and filled the truck with the amount of mulch the customer had ordered and I was supposed to drive it to the customer's house. Today I am delivering a load of 5 scoops to Ken L. My first ever delivery. Ken was my shop teacher when I went to MT as a student and then taught with Jim and I for a few years. Therefore, he is old! He lives only about a mile from Brooklawn so I was there in a few minutes. He greeted me when I arrived and we talked for a while about the good old days. Then he showed me where he wanted the mulch. Right at the end of his driveway. That's easy so I backed up the truck and raised the bed. Bet you think something happened next. That's the way my stories usually go. Well it didn't. Everything went smooth and I started back to pick up my next load. But, as I was pulling in, there stood Jim with an angry look on his face. I got out of the truck and said, "What's the matter Jim?" Jim responded, "Ken just called and said he just pulled up to his house and saw you leaving. You dropped the mulch at the wrong house!" I just stared at him. I wondered why Ken said he had to go make a phone call as soon as I left. Jim's standing there holding 2 shovels. "Get back in the truck. We have to go shovel the mulch and take it to the right house," he says. Now, he never got to know Ken as well as I did over the years. Ken was the high school's practical joker. I stand there looking at Jim and start to laugh. "What are you laughing at? It's not funny," he says. "I'll bet you the dump truck and a load of mulch that I dropped it at the right house," I said. He started to mellow a little and realized he had been duped. I said, "Call Ken and tell him you don't guarantee that your delivery man will drop it at the right house!" It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The "Villa Mayorca" Story

It was an ordinary day. We just landed on St. Martin in the Caribbean. Went through customs, found our luggage and are headed out of the airport terminal to find our car rental guy. Every car rental company on the island has "runners" that stand at the airport with a sign with your name on it so you know who will be taking you to the rental agency. Some have really neat signs while others have pieces of cardboard they scratch names on. Some use the front and the back of the cardboard to conserve. We find our name and off we go to pick up our car. Nice car. Off to the realtor next to get the keys for Mayorca. Last year while on the island we visited a realtor to see if we could get a place to stay that was cheaper than the resort where we were staying. We loved the place, but the cost was getting too high. Naturally, plenty of places for us to stay. We eventually settled of a villa overlooking Orient Beach. As soon as we walked through the door to the villa, we knew this was where we wanted to stay. Can't believe it was cheaper, but is was only 2/3 the cost of the resort. Stephan is taking us to the villa above Orient Beach. As we enter the front door, we realize how neat it really is and why we chose the place. It's located at the end of a road so there will be no traffic at all. You enter the kitchen but the entire house is open to the pool which overlooks Orient Bay. How cool is that. Our own private pool. The owner constructed a wall between his house and his neighbors so the pool area is very private. The infinity dip pool is six feet deep so we (at least me) can stand at the edge and look over the view below. Only bad feature is they only have French Cable TV. I did fool around with the connection and managed to get "Dancing with the Stars," but only in black and white. And ...... no sound. So we put our Jimmy Buffet CD in and played that music while the dancing was going on. Beat was a little different, but still got to see the dancers. Our vacation when great for the first few days until we realized that most every day after cooling off in the pool, we would leave big black footprints on the tiles in the house. Then we figured it out. Right below us was a gravel road that led to the naturist section of Orient Beach and it seems like they are a popular destination for not only the sun worshippers, but the dune buggy, horse and jeep excursions. Depending which way the wind was blowing, it blew the dust from the road over our back deck area. And ...... it seemed to always be blowing our way. Oh well! Paradise has to have at least one drawback. Right? It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Pixs from the top are: Entrance to Villa Mayroca, kitchen and living areas of villa, view of the pool and outside living area from the entrance of the villa, panoramic view overlooking Orient Beach and Bay and the culprits of the constant dust and dirt we encountered.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The "Easter Egg Hunt Turned Sour" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had finished with our yearly Easter egg hunt in the backyard on Janet Ave. Kids always love to do the egg hunt. We fill the plastic eggs with candy and coins and hide them. Used to make it easy and just lay them in the grass, but as the kids got older we had to make it a little more challenging. This year we had jelly beans in some of the eggs, wrapped chocolate candy in some, money in some and colored malted milk balls in some. The malted milk balls are my favorite and they are in a variety of pastel colors from light pink to sunset yellow to robin's egg blue. Well the egg hunt was a real success with Derek and Brynn looking for the eggs that were harder to find, letting the easier and more visible for our youngest, Tad. We had found all the eggs and the kids were taking them apart and putting them in plastic baggies. Just then Carol picked up what looked like one of the malted milk balls that was laying under the big maple tree which separated our house from Frank and Alice's house. Upon examination she realized that it was really a robin's egg with small specks on it. She walked over to Tad and held out her hand to show it to him and point out that it was a robin's egg when Tad grabbed it and popped it in his mouth. Thought it was one of the malted milk balls. "No, don't put that in your mouth," she said just as Tad bit into it. You could hear the egg squish as it broke in his mouth. Gross, really gross! He spit it out as fast as he had bit into it and into the kitchen he ran with Carol to wash out his mouth. By now everyone remaining outside was laughing. But, someone inside the kitchen thought different about the robin's egg malted milk ball. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The "Burning Oven" Story

It was an ordinary day. Carol and I are headed to Schaeffer Elementary School in Manheim Township for parent's night. Our oldest, Derek, is in 5th grade and Brynn, our middle child is in 2nd grade. We should be gone for about 1 1/2 hours, so we let the three kids by themselves. Their grandparents live right down the street if they need any help with anything. Carol went to visit Brynn's teacher while I headed to visit with Derek's teacher. Well, the evening was very informative with explanations about what the kids are expected to accomplish during the school year. We only live a block from the school so after the meetings we get home pretty quick. As we walk in the door we smell something and know that something has happened. Carol heads to the kitchen and everything seems OK, but something smells different. So, we yell for the kids to come downstairs from their rooms. "What happened while we were gone?" Carol asks them. Derek speaks up right away and says that he was going to make a pizza for everyone so he turned on the oven to warm it up. We have a double oven and stove combination in a very small kitchen. We also have very little space to store food, so we make the best use of the double oven and store bread and pastries in the one oven. The oven that Derek had turned on to make the pizza. The oven that he forgot to remove the bread and pastries from before he turned it on. The oven that caught fire!! I teach shop classes and am accustomed to having a fire extinguisher everywhere. We have one in the kitchen. The fire extinguisher that Derek used to put out the fire. Wow, what presence of mind for a kid 10 year old. Brynn told us, "Derek grabbed the extinguisher and sprayed it in the oven until all the flames were gone. We also decided that it was best not to say anything to both of you when you came home so you wouldn't yell at us." Hey, they even cleaned the oven out, but putting the remains in the trash can under the sink left the smell in the house. Pretty good kids and they came right out and told us about it when we asked. So, we didn't scold anyone. Matter of fact we commended Derek on his quick thinking and decided it was time to find a new place to store the bread and pastries. Oh yeah, we also had the fire extinguisher recharged. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The "Assisi Connection" Story

It was an ordinary day. We just finished breakfast in Florence and are headed to Assisi,Umbria. You read right. Assisi, Italy. Home of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment. Assisi is a walled city where the Franciscan Order was started by Saint Francis. St. Francis was born in Assisi in late 1181. In early 1182 his father, who had been visiting France at the time of his son's birth returned and found out his wife had named their son Giovanni after John the Baptist. He was furious since the name signified a man of God so he renamed him Francesco which reflected his infatuation of France. Francis lived a life of luxury since his father was a wealthy man. He also lived a life of sin because of constant wild parties and frequently visiting France. He was eventually disinherited by his father in 1206. But, he finally started a conversion within himself and eventually founded the Franciscan Order in 1210. Today is a cloudy, rainy, cold day. Carol's boss, Rosalyn, who is also a guest on the tour today, is wearing her new beautiful while leather coat with fox collar! She looks very Italian! As we are standing outside the San Francisco Basilica it starts to sleet and snow. That can't be good for a new leather coat, I thought. This is September for goodness sake. And Italy. The weather can't be this bad, can it? We finally got to enter the Basilica and we traveled to the lower levels to view the tomb of St. Francis. Beautiful place and very moving. People crying and praying all over the place. Assisi is one of many walled cities in Italy and they all are so neat to walk through. The stone roads and architecture make you feel like you are part of history. I wonder how they could construct the city with the tools and materials that they had around the birth of Christ. We were told that they are still finding Roman remains in parts of the ancient city. Our tour ends with a four course meal inside the city walls. We start with an assortment of breads and naturally wine. Then the pasta entre. The main course is pork with some kind of potato patty. Very unusual. End the meal with tiramisu. Just an OK meal, but a fabulous place to have the meal. Tomorrow we will head to Rome! Now neat is that!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Pixs from the top are: walled city of Assisi, pix of St. Francis, the San Francisco Basilica and Carol roaming the streets of the walled city of Assisi.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The "LDub Family Driver #4" Story

It was an ordinary day. Brynn, our middle child, and I had just returned from the Lancaster State Police Barracks. That's where they give you your driver's test when you turn 16 and want to get your licence. When Brynn turned 16 she was anxious to drive so I took her in our VW Bug to a large parking lot near our house to learn to drive the Bug's stick shift. Always believed that people should learn to drive stick shift in case they encountered a situation where that was their only option if they needed transportation. She did well! Picked it up very quickly, but preferred our 1985 Boogie Green Buick Station wagon to the VW because the Buick was automatic. When we bought the Buick, Carol and I thought it was a neat car. Big as a boat with plenty of space for a growing family with lots of vacations and the light mint color was easy to keep clean. I can recall taking Brynn to school a few times and as we approached the school, she would get real low in the seat so none of her friends could see her in the car. Now, that tells how much she enjoyed the car. But, if it means learning to drive, the car will do just fine. I was convinced that she was ready to be added to the list of full time drivers in the LDub family so we scheduled a time to visit the Police Barracks for the test. Then she asked, "Can we take grandpaw's car instead of our car?" She didn't want to take the VW and it seems she was afraid to try to parallel park a boat, so I agreed to take the 1986 Buick LeSabre. She had driven the LeSabre a few times already. Test day arrived and off we went. She was pretty nervous, but I told her it was a piece of cake to take the driver's test. She passed the written part with ease and then was assigned a very young male officer for the driving part. I sat on the bench by the driving course and watched as she hopped in, adjusted the mirrors, put her seat belt on and started the car. I watched as she approached the first corner and stopped at the stop sign. I watched as she went through the cones without knocking over a single cone. Go Brynner!! Then I watched as she attempted to pull as close to the curb as she could. Uh Oh! Had to be at least two feet or more away from the curb. I saw the officer open the door and look at the curb and figured when we could come out again for a retake. Well, they returned and went into the office. She came out with the biggest smile on her face and asked if she could drive home. SHE PASSED! "How'd you do that with the parking job you did." Then she started by telling me, "Well, first, when we got in the car, he told me he really liked my name. Never heard of Brynn before. Then he told me he really like the shirt I was wearing (I can just see her blush when he said that). Then he said he thought the BANDAID (yep, the bandaid) I had on my finger was cute." This guy would have passed her if she had knocked over all the cones! When I questioned her about only getting half close enough to the curb, she said, "Then he opened the door and looked out. I thought it was over then, but he said 'good job.'" WOW!! So we have another driver in the family and I have to pay higher insurance rates! I did tell her to avoid going anywhere where she would have to park along a curb. Only places where she could pull into a parking spot! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The "She's different than most girls" Story

It was an ordinary day. The big wedding was almost over. Our oldest son Derek was married today to Barb. Really neat wedding, but then when it is your son, the wedding had to be neat. Derek had dated a few different girls in high school and college and had always preferred the blond bombshell type. A few years ago he told us he was bringing his new girlfriend home to meet us. He said, "She is different than most girls I have dated in the past." And, boy was he right. She was a very pretty brunette and ......... she was extremely smart. Wore glasses even. Something new! Barb worked in customer relations for Donnelley Printing where Derek helped run a large web press. They were introduced and, as they say, the rest is history. Barb was from Elizabethtown which is nearby. The wedding was set for today, September 27 and all the arrangements followed. Barb had 5 attendants which included her cousin Lori and soon to be sister-in-law Brynn as well as three close friends. Derek had his brother Tad as his best man, longtime friends Johnny M., Jimmy D., Greg H. and soon to be brother-in-law Dave as his ushers. Johnny, Greg and Jimmy were friends who grew up with him on the baseball field. The wedding was held at the Hempfield United Methodist Church near the house they would share together. This morning Barb and the bridal party traveled to the New Image Salon where they had their hair and makeup done and then returned to Barb's mom's house to wait delivery to the church. Derek and the guys met at Derek's house in East Hempfield before traveling to the church. At about 1:00 PM a limo transported the girls to the church while the guys drove their own cars. Preliminary photos were taken before the ceremony as the guests arrived. A unique feature that they had was a Polaroid scrapbook. As guests arrived, someone took Polaroids of everyone to be used to place in a memory scrapbook. All guests were seated and the service began. Derek and his best man and the ushers enter by the altar and then the bridal party began their entrance from the rear of the church. Finally Barb entered with her sister who escorted her down the aisle. Service of marriage was administered with the prayers, vows and rings and then ....... kissing of the bride. Smooth as can be. The remainder of the wedding photos were taken and then the entire bridal party traveled to Landis Valley Farm Museum for a few more outdoor photos. Across the street they went to the Olde Hickory Inn for the reception which went off without any complications. Food, drinks, dancing, wedding cake, garter, bouquet, DJ and you know ...... the whole wedding thing will be a lasting memory for both of them. And as usual, my dear wife Carol looked stunning!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Photos from the top are: Barb in her gown in our living room, my wife and son before the service, LDub and son before the service, the Bride and Groom and the wedding party.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The "Richard and the Gold Teeth" Story

It was an ordinary day. I had just bought a necklace from Richard. We are on the island of Barbados in the southern Caribbean. Beautiful island, but all islands we visit on vacation are beautiful. We found a deal in the newspaper from Liberty Travel. Seven days in Barbados for $595 and that included the airfare!! Can't pass that up so I called Karen, our travel agent at Liberty, and asked if the advertisement was for real. "Yes it is, but the place that is offered for $595 isn't what you usually like," she told me. "I can get you a nicer place, but the cost is slightly higher." Yeah, right! Well, she came through as usual for us. Found the Divi Resort in Barbados for $695 for the week. And we would be on the "Best of Barbados" promotion which gives you a coupon book for hundreds of dollar savings. Yeah, right! In the end, it really did save us quite a bit of money, but we would have had to do everything in the book to get the hundreds of dollars savings. We even decided to stay for two weeks for those savings. The Divi is located in an area referred to as the St. Lawrence Gap. Plenty of restaurants, stores, vendors, bars and churches. Really wouldn't have to leave the area except we like to explore. As we leave the resort we have to cross a narrow road made of tiles to reach the beach. A few vendors line this area and try to hawk their trinkets. Everyday this fellow with the bright red umbrella would give us a big smile and tell us when it was safe to cross the road. Not once did he tell us he was the vendor of the stand by our resort. Everyday he had the smile and we soon got to know him. Richard was his name and he was a native islander. Also sold jewelry as the sign on the tree proclaimed. Richard had two teeth with gold appliques on them. One had gold around the edges, but the other had a big "R" on it. Pretty neat. Towards the end of vacation I told Carol I'm going to buy something from Richard since he had been so nice to us for two weeks. "Why don't you buy one of those hats he has for sale," she told me. "Naw, I have too many hats already. I'm going to buy a necklace!!" After she stopped laughing, she helped me pick out a really nice necklace, with Richard helping all the way. And, naturally he had a big smile on his face. At first I thought I should have a big gold chain like Richard wore, but Carol convinced me to start with something more conservative. OK, so I bought a conservative necklace. And, I still wear it. Now all I need is a gold tooth with the letter "L" on it. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Photos from the top are: Street in St. Lawrence Gap we crossed to get to the beach, Richard and LDub with the conservative necklace and Richard displaying his gold teeth. Pretty neat, aren't they?

The "Bite of the Water Moccasin is Deadly" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were at the vets. This story is a little different, but certainly not unusual for our family. The Howry family and our family are spending a week at the A-frame house. We name the places we have stayed so we can remember them better. This was a neat house which was along a small tributary which led into the Elk River in Maryland. It's August and hot. Gary has his boat tied to the dock at the bottom of a slight hill in front of the A-frame. Just enough water for the motor. But, the boat can't take all of us to the river at one time because all the weight would ground the boat, so we have a canoe tied to the boat and some sit in the canoe while others sit in the boat. We leave the A-frame with all the beach equipment, coolers, lunch, etc. and walk down the hill to the boat and canoe. We then have to load everything in the canoe and boat and slowly work our way out of the tributary to the river where we travel to a small island where we spend the day sunning and water skiing. Every day there was a fight over who would sit in the boat and who would sit in the canoe. No one wanted to sit in the canoe, because it tipped over easily. Then we have to do everything in the reverse order at the end of the day. As I look back on this vacation I wonder, why did we do this? WE MUST HAVE BEEN NUTS!! There were 10 of us that vacation. Five in each family. But, we had one h**l of a good time. How else could I have remembered it. One day after we had returned and Gary was tying the boat to the dock, along the dock he saw a large snake. Wasn't moving. "Holy S**t," Gary yelled. Naturally everyone had to see it. Except our youngest, Tad. He had to touch it, and got bitten by it. Somehow the snake, which we thought was dead, bit him on the hand. Then it took off. "Geez, what king of snake was that," I asked. No one was sure, but then one of the kids said it was probably a water moccasin. "Aren't they poisonous," my wife said. She wasn't kidding either. Hey, I didn't know either. By now Tad thought he was going to die. He is maybe 6 years old and in tears. Then he gets the chills. We grab him and head to the nearest neighbor. Bang on the door and ask if they know if there is a doctor close by, since our son was bitten by a poisonous snake. Probably should have been in a coma by now, but he wasn't. "No doctor, but the guy that lives at the end of the road is a vet," they tell us. Quickly we take Tad down the road to the vet. "Yep, he's here," I say as I see someone in the house. He comes to the door and we introduce ourselves and explain our problem to him. I'm sure he can see the panic in our eyes. By now Tad is white from fright. He examines the bite and tells us it is indeed a bit from a water snake. Just a plain old water snake! And ....... they aren't killers like we thought. He gets some anti-bacterial cream, rubs it on the wound and tells us he will be find. RELIEF!!! Tad all of a sudden feels great. So do Carol and I. Wow, and he didn't even charge us for his services! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - In memory of my good friend Gary.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The "And....The Winner Is!!" Story

It was an ordinary day. I just opened my email and got this message: StMartinStMaarten Congratulations to Biglar for his winning photo and taking the #1 spot in the " Series 3 Photo Contest Shoot Out "Biglar took it home with photo #1 " Happy Bay Envy " with 41 votes. Congratulations to SXMNorm for 2nd Place for photo #5 " favorite view " with 35 votes. I won!! Thanks to all of you who voted for my photos. By the way, I'm known as Biglar. My brother has called me that for years, even though he is much bigger than I am! The forum administrator, Nanci, called me last night and asked for my mailing address so they could send me my prize. Anxious to see it. Maybe a trip for 2 for a month, all expenses paid, to some exotic island like St. Martin. But then again, I didn't think there was any prize given for the contest. Just some fun showing off photos I have taken on our favorite vacation spot in the Caribbean. I'm glad that everyone enjoyed looking at them and congratulations to Norm for his really neat photo of the airport runway on St. Martin. I have been trying for years to get a shot like he had, but he must have convinced the pilot to fly past and circle around before they landed. Sorry I can't post a pix of it here, but all photos entered in the contest were posted so that no one could copy and paste any of them. I guess that is best, because one photo had to be disqualified because it belonged to someone other than the person who took it. I understand that a new photo contest is in the works for the ELT board. Photos of the food from St. Martin. Hey, we are planning a trip to the island soon and I will take an extra card along just for photos of the food we eat. My wife can hardly wait! No eating anything until I have a photo of it. Hear that dear! If you want to see the winners from the recent contest, you can check them out soon at: http://enjoylifetraveling.proboards.com It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The "Painted Fish" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was going to try to make something new today. Something I never tried before. Something REALLY DIFFERENT! Now, I published two stories already about the different items I made for the house, but this will be a challenge. Carol and I were visiting Annapolis and stopped in an art gallery and as soon as I saw the Gyotaku I was sure I could do that. Gyotaku is the art and technique of Japanese fish rubbing which is a process derived from an ancient printing method used before photography was invented. You actually use a fish to make the print and the resulting print is extremely detailed and accurate. We bought three prints from the artist, Lori Hatch. On the back of each print is the description of how they are done. Sounds easy to me. Just gotta try it. I know I can do it. When we got home I went to Central Market in downtown Lancaster and bought a whole fish with the eye staring at me from Kathy at "Kathy's Seafood." I get fish from her all the time, but usually alreadyfilleted. "Are you going to fillet this yourself?" she asked me. "Nope, I'm going to make a print out of it," I told her. She looked at me and smiled. "I'll bring it in when I'm finished and show it to you," I told her. It smelled really fishy, but why not. I washed the fish thoroughly and dried it with a hair dryer. I then used lithographic printing ink I had from school as she told me to do in her description on the back of the print I bought and placed the inks on the fish. Did all of this on the table on my back deck. Smell was pretty potent. The paper I used was a good quality drawing paper and I placed it on top of the inked fish. Now I'm to gently rub it with my fingers and then carefully peel the paper off the fish. Should be able to use the fish a couple of times it told me. Well it worked. But, it didn't look like a fish. It looked like litho ink on paper. I'm positive NO ONE could tell it was a fish print. I read and re-read the directions. And then I got it!! She left something out of the directions so I couldn't do it. Gotta be the answer, cause I was positive I could do it. Finally found something that didn't work for me. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Pix is from a part of one of the three prints that I bought at the gallery from Lori Hatch.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The "Nipple Fish" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were in the 85 degree water in front of our room in Antigua. Jerry, Just Sue, Carol and I. We had just arrived, put our luggage in our room, put our swim suits on and jumped in the water. We had waited for sooooo long to do this. Started planning the trip a year ago and finally .... we're in the water. Enjoying ourselves immensely when all of a sudden Jerry yells and splashes in the water. "Something just bit me," he says. And then again it happens. "There, it bit me again. Right on my nipple." Now, the water is cloudy because of a few days of rain so you can't see anything in the water, but evidently the fish can see or at least smell us. Then it hit me. Three or four bites on my back and then a strike on my right nipple. Not the kind that draw blood, thank goodness, but the kind that startle you. We found that if you keep moving around, they don't bother you. But, we can't splash our way through vacation, can we? Since we can't identify the culprits, we have dubbed them "nipple fish." For some strange reason they don't bother the girls, but then they have that vital part of their body covered. As we attempt to enjoy the water, others start to enter it. Then we hear a scream from a man 20 feet from us. Wow! He didn't want anything to do with these fish, so out he hustles. We splashed around for half an hour and exit the murky waters. Before we left for vacation I was reading on TravelTalklOnline about aggressive fish at Club O which is the naturist section of Orient beach in St. Martin. They were writing in about the fish ramming into them while they stood in the water. Someone warned the men at the resort not to walk backwards in the water since it would be like trolling for bites. Another said they are "spade fish" which are ghost fish, since they tend to blend in with their surroundings. One fellow did have blood dripping from his private. Seems one of the fish took it for a french baguette. I finally did see the fish that were nibbling on us and they looked like snapper. Had a slight yellow stripe and tinge to them. In a day or two the water started to clear and we were not bothered anymore. Then ...... it rained again! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The "Stitches in Time" Story

It was an ordinary day. I just finished mowing the grass. Sounds like an easy day, but ....... IT WASN'T. This morning I went to Dr. Brod, my Dermatologist, to have some basil cell cancer removed from my back. Wasn't the first time so I knew what to expect. Two years ago he removed some from my chest. 24 hours after the surgery I removed the bandage and my wife proclaimed, "Did you have open heart surgery!" Really big cut with lots of stitches to close the wound. The doctor likes to remove tissue down to the bone. The surgery I had today was in the middle of the right side of my back. After completing the surgery he told me to return in 10 days to have the stitches taken out. I asked if this was something my wife could do and he laughed and said she could, but he would rather do it to make sure the wound had healed properly. He told me to take it easy for the rest of the day. I asked him, "Can I mow the grass using my riding mower?" He hesitated, realizing that I was probably going to do it no matter what he said, and responded, "Don't stretch or make any sudden movements or the stitches will rip out and you'll be back in here later today." I promised to take it easy and after returning home, hopped on my mower. This is the second time I mowed this spring and only needed to use the riding mower and not the push mower. Was going good as usual until I reached the north side of the property. I have a drainage culvert that runs along my property and has about a 45 degree slope down into the culvert bottom. All I have to do is lean hard on the mower and I can slowly cut the grass as I ride along the slope. Was almost done when the back wheels started to slip and I realized the mower was going to the bottom of the culvert with me on it. So I jumped off and rolled down the incline! Right on my back! Mower shut off immediately and slid to the bottom, also. But, I didn't pull my stitches out, I don't think. Don't feel anything running down my back. Now what do I do? First I went into the house and checked in the mirror to see if the bandage was red. Nope! OK, now what about the mower, I thought. I went to my garage, got a long heavy nylon rope and hopped in the car. Drove up the street to my neighbors house and headed up his driveway. From there I drove across his property to my property and backed up to the mower. Tied the rope to my car and the other end to the front axle of the mower. Made sure the mower was in neutral and hopped back in the car. And just like that ....... the mower came out of the ditch. Kept the tension on the rope while I went back to the mower and put the brake on to hold it in place, then released the tension, removed the rope and took the car back to my garage. Then, I finished the mowing. You know, I should have changed my good pants and shirt before I started to mow. I now have grass stains on the pants and grease and oil stains on me and my shirt and pants. After I finished, I took off the clothes, used the stain stick and stuck them in the washer. And, the doctor doesn't have to know about any of this. Neither does my wife and since she very seldom reads my blog, I'm sure she'll never find out. Right? It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The "Donut Decision" Story

It was an ordinary day. We are headed to eat breakfast at Brown's on the boardwalk in Ocean City, MD. Always a fun time and something we try to do the first or second day we are in OC. There are 11 of us today, so it will take more than one table to accommodate us. Brown's has the best donuts on the boardwalk. It is on the northern end of the boardwalk and we take a car to get there. Today Dave is driving his Dodge Van so we can all get in one car. Two in the front, three in the second seat and the rest in the way back. Packed car, but we only have to drive 6 blocks to get there. He drops us off right at the boardwalk and goes to find a parking space. The line by the donut window has about 30 people in it. Going to take half an hour to make donuts for all those people. We got smart a few years ago and realized that if you go in their restaurant next door, as soon as you're seated you can order donuts and you get your donuts BEFORE the people in line. The donuts can't be good for you. Made with vegetable oil and are soooooo good. Warm and good for dunking. They have plain, chocolate coated, vanilla coated, cinnamon, honey and powdered. My favorite ........ the vanilla! We order everything from 3-egg omelets to french toast. But, the donuts come first. For 11 people we got three dozen. By the time our breakfast arrives, some were so full on the donuts they bared touched their food. Happens every year!! The next day Carol and I decide to ride the boards after we get up so we rented bikes with BIG seats. Can't stand those little narrow ones that stick up your crotch. We head down the boardwalk towards Browns. Yep, love them so much. But, on our trip down we pass Ove's Restaurant and as we pedal past, see that they also make cake donuts, but use apple cider to fry their donuts. Well, on our way back from the end of the boards we have to make a stop and try one and .......... I'm not sure which donuts we like the best. Gotta have to test both of them tomorrow. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The "I Can Make That! Part 2" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was up to no good again. We had returned from Annapolis yesterday where we had been for the weekend. Love looking in all the shops that are near the waterfront in the city. We saw a really neat book shelf that was shaped like like a rowboat and sat on the floor. Carol said she like it, but she didn't want anything that was on the floor like that. If they had one that fastened to the wall she would REALLY like it. So, I told her I can make that! It used to be in our family room, but now occupies the space next to me in my office. It is attached to the wall and stands over five feet tall. Holds all my Caribbean Travel and Life magazines, my Islands magazines, my photo CD album as well as family history in photos. About three feet wide and has 5 shelves. The fish net and buoy draped across the top give it the beachey look. All I need yet is an oar! Hey, wait a minute. I have one of those on the front porch which I can sit next to it. Will have to do that today. When we moved into this house in the late 90s I made a toilet paper fish for our guest bathroom. Sits on the floor and the legs of the small stool hold a roll of toilet paper. Bright colors make it really stand out. Carol saw something like it in a catalogue so ........ I made it. Same thing for the bench and chair that I made. Ideas came from a catalogue! The bench sits inside the front door while the chair is in one of the guest bedrooms. Add that touch that make you feel like you are on vacation. On Carol's dresser sits a light that has a lampshade that looks like a beach umbrella. The bottom is a beach chair. I must admit I didn't make the beach chair. That was purchased at a gift shop and sat on an end table for a year or two and then was stuck in a cabinet when we found something better to occupy the space. Found it one day and decided I could use it to make a lamp for Carol. One time we visited Alexandria, VA at Christmas to see the boat parade and while there we visited the Torpedo Factory which is an old large warehouse that was converted into small shops for artists to display and demonstrate their talents. Saw this really neat idea in one shop and came home and made the same thing. The artist metal bottle caps, the kind you find on beer bottles, and painted VERY SMALL pictures in them. Put them into a grouping and framed them. I did the same, only with small photos from our cruise we had taken the yea before. Turned out so neat I made one for our daughter Brynn and our son Derek which held family photos. Now, they are real conversation pieces. Many thanks and an apology to the artist for her clever idea. Carol told me she needed a light over the sink in our kitchen so I put a light up and it looked too harsh so I designed a cover for it which duplicates the stained glass light in our dining room which we purchased at the shore. Looks exactly like it. I work at a frame shop for a guy I has as a student in high school and get to so many unusual framing and matting jobs. When work is slow he gives me the freedom to design items that would sell in his gallery. One of those items was shadow box that featured cutouts for 4"x6" photos with the word seashore cutout under it that would accommodate seashells. Turned out so neat that I made one for myself. Another item is using an entire photo as both the photo and the mat. Really adds some depth to the photo. I have quite a few of these hanging in my house, but the largest is over our fireplace in the family room where I made a 40"x16" photo of one of our favorite beaches in the Caribbean. Many other ideas that I started either found their way to the trash can or only got as far at the tip of my fingers. I love to add some creativity to my life with the items that I make. Hopefully they add some color to the life of others along the way. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.