Extraordinary Stories

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The "Favorite Caribbean Sunsets" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was taking photos as the sun was setting in Barbados. Some of the best sunset shots I have ever taken have been taken in Barbados. For years I have been trying to take a photo showing the "Green Flash" which is the instant the sun disappears into the horizon. At times it creates a flash of green light which is nearly impossible to see (read about it in my story titled "The Green Flash" from December of 2009). Well, I have never been successful at taking a photo which included the "Green Flash", but I have close to 100 sunset photos taken since I started using a digital camera. I have included a few of my favorites with comments about a few of them at the end. Here goes ..........

Top photo was taken in Antigua from the beach at our resort. Second photo was in St. Thomas on the east end of the island. Third photo was taken in Turks and Caicos as we ate supper. Fourth was taken from Happy Bay while the fifth was in Grand Case. Both are in St. Martin. Sixth photo was taken in St. Croix. This one is the only one which is different in that it was taken at sunrise. The last three were all from Barbados which is the southern most island to which we have traveled. Final pix is of a fisherman getting in the last cast before dark. Sunsets were just gorgeous every evening. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The "LDubs' go Camping" Story

It was an ordinary day. We are sitting out in the woods. Gone camping! Really camping! Like the tent and the campfire camping. Kids wanted to go see my Mom and Dad who have a small trailer in a campground south of Strasburg. So Carol and I decided we would borrow a tent and all the necessary equipment and head to the campground for some good old country camping. Never tried it before with the three kids, but it sounded like fun. Sounded like!! When we got to the campground, there was a small site available about 50 yards from Mom and Dad's trailer. We spread a canvas tarp on the ground for some insulation from the dampness and erected the tent. We did some exploring in the woods and eventually headed back to the tent to build a fire to cook our evening meal. Hot dogs and beans were on the menu along with chips and a salad. Desert had to be Smores. Kind of fun. Then after a short visit at the trailer with Mom and Dad, we started getting ready for bed. Everyone had a sleeping bag which we just spread on top of the canvas tarp. Time for bed. Everyone, including Carol and I, were tired from our day with nature. But ...... did you ever try to sleep on the hard rocky ground in a sleeping bad that has no padding? It doesn't work. What a night. Didn't get much sleep. Seems like everyone had to pee at some point during the night and just standing behind the tent with other tents next to you wasn't an option. We made trip after trip to the toilet. By morning we were all fully rested. Not!!! After a breakfast at the trailer, we packed up the tent and our belongings, visited with Mom and Dad one last time, and headed home. The LDub family would not be doing this again for a very, very long time. Like never! I know the picture of Carol lounging in the chair looks nice, but that was taken 10 minutes after we had finished erecting the tent. The next time will be as guests in the trailer. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The "They Multiply Just Like Rabbits" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just picked up Hoppy, our pet rabbit from Mr. Mike Z. He was my daughter Brynn's second grade teacher and had agreed to keep the rabbit for the winter in his room with the other rabbit that he had. School is now almost over for the year so he was returning Hoppy to us for the summer. We are friends of Mike and his wife and Mike and I work together during the summer and I mentioned a year ago how we were going to have to keep our new pet rabbit Hoppy outdoors all winter and he suggested we bring him to the school in September and he would him in the same cage with the rabbit he just got for his classroom. Since they were both males and both rather young, he thought there would be no problem. The students in his class really liked the rabbits and learned to care for them and to be responsible for cleaning them. Didn't seem to be any problems. Until they both started to mature a little more and Mike realized that his rabbit wasn't a "male." Well, in the spring the students discovered there were two more rabbits in the cage with Hoppy and his "wife." Kind of adds a whole new perspective to the learning curve for second graders. Knowing Mike, he handled it just right. The baby rabbits ended up in new homes and Hoppy, much to his disappointment, was returned to the LDub household. I'm afraid next winter, Hoppy will be spending his time in the backyard. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The "Colors of the Caribbean in Architecture" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just sitting at the computer going over some of my photos I have taken over the past couple of years while on vacation. Started to realize just how colorful the houses are in the Caribbean and trying to decide which photos I may want to make into larger prints so I can mat and frame a few for the house. Then my wife said I should share a few with you by putting them on my blog. So here are a variety of colorful houses, restaurants, beach huts and even a church that caught my eye as I was looking over the more than 10,000 images I have in my photo library. Feel free to use them as wallpaper if you want.

Too bad we don't use these beautiful colors in the Northeast USA. I'd love to paint my house with these vibrant colors. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The "Why I Can't Run For Public Office" Story

It was an ordinary day. A friend was talking to me about running for a position as a township commissioner. Since I am supposedly retired, I should have more time to spend with public service they said. "You were the President of the Schaeffer PTO, an officer with the MT Booster Club and President of the MT Baseball Association. You'd be an easy winner. Also, most everyone who knows you, likes you!" they said. "But, why would I want to do that," I said. "I enjoy my life the way it is and don't need all the stress and hassle that comes with public office." Well, they told me to think about it and I did just that. I came up with a list of ten reasons why I shouldn't run for public office. And here they are .......

#10 - I've changed parties too many times.
#9 - Even though I was a teacher, I don't enjoy public speaking.
#8 - Most people know my phone number and where I live.
#7 - I have no money for advertising.
#6 - I don't like to wear a toupee
#5 - I never had an affair.
#4 - I'm not sure where the Appalachian Trail is located.
#3 - Since I retired over 10 years ago, all my ties are out of style.
#2 - I really don't have too many opinions on anything.
And, the top reason would have to be ....
#1 - Someone surely has a nude picture of me they will run in the paper.

So, there they are. And you see that I certainly would not be a good candidate for either party. So don't ask again! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The "Faux Pizza Man" Story

It was an ordinary day. I’m sitting on the beach at Ocean City, NJ. My daughter Brynn and my granddaughter Camille are heading up to the boardwalk to get a Polish Ice. I motion to Camille to come to me and I tell her that when she gets up to the boardwalk to ask her mom if she can have a Hungarian Ice instead. At 6 years old, she still believes anything her Tampah (that’s what all my Grandkids call me) tells her. Well, they head to the boardwalk and about five minutes later my cell phone rings and I dig it out of my beach bag. “Hello,” I say. On the other end comes, “We want to order a regular pizza.” Sounds just like my daughter so I play along. “OK. Need any chips or any Hungarian Ice to go with it?” “No, just the pizza.” Then I tell her it will be ready in about 20 minutes and to call back to make sure it is ready. The end. Ten minutes later Brynn and Camille return with their Polish Ice and I tell her the pizza will be ready soon. She just looks at me, but doesn’t say anything. Then I see her reach into her beach bag and pull out her cell phone. Uh, Oh! “Brynn, did you just call me and order a pizza?” I ask her. “No, why?” “Cause I thought you were getting back at me for the Hungarian Ice,” I said. Just then my phone rings again. “Hello. No, the pizza is not ready. This is not a pizza shop,” I tell the girl who sounds like my daughter. She doesn’t believe me. Thinks I’m kidding her. “I’m sorry, but you must have the wrong number. I can’t make pizza, but I can make a great Dinette Cake,” I tell her. Now she is getting annoyed. I ask her what number she is dialing and she only says the place down the street. Now, I’m getting annoyed! She finally agrees she must have the wrong number and hangs up. I check the incoming call log on my phone and see her two calls, but it only says “restricted” next to the number. Don’t know if I’ve been taken or she has. But anyway, someone out there in cyberland sounds just like my daughter, who is now enjoying her Polish Ice with my Grand daughter Camille. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Photo of grandkids with Caden on left, Camille in the center and Courtney on the right

Friday, June 25, 2010

The "My Favorite Ride" Story

It was an ordinary day. Today my middle grandchild, Camille, will be my guest blogger. Her birthday is today and we are celebrating it at Ocean City, NJ. She turned six today and wanted to know if she could type a story for me about our first evening to the rides on the boardwalk. To me it is amazing what a six year old can do. When I was in first grade I learned how to read about Dick and Jane and their adventures. Today’s first graders learn to read the newspaper! As far as composition, here is her story .........

It was an ordinary day. we are on vacation. the frst night we went on the rides. we went on thomas the monorail, the ferris wheel, the wacky worm, the railroad roller costr, the log flum. but my favrorite was the ferris wheel. I was icsidid. I was scard. courtney,tampah and me sat on the same side. we saw other rides, mommy, sunset,lots of pepole, the bech, the boardwalk. wen I got off I ran to mommy. I finished my night weth Ritas.

She informed me that she had used a few compound words. Do all of you know what they are? I did help her with the comma insertion and hope I didn't ruin her story. I hope you enjoy her story as much as I did participating in it and riding on the coaster with her. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - one photo shows Camille at the computer while other shows Courtney on left, me in the middle and Camille on the right while we are at the top of the ferris wheel.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The "My Favorite Class in Elementary School was Gym" Story

It was an ordinary day. We had just finished gym class. Headed down the stairs to get ready to go back to class. I'm in my final year of elementary school at Milton J. Brecht Elementary School in the Manheim Township School District. Brecht was opened in 1929 and looked like an English Manor house. Two floors of classrooms with a gym on the one end of the building. The boys' gym teacher is the principal of the school, Dr. Caleb Bucher. He is a bachelor and lives near our house on N. Queen St. My Mom invites him to supper a few times a year and we have gotten to know him pretty well over the years. Really nice guy, but a strict principal. About 40 years old. This is my second year of taking gym class and I enjoy the class since I have some athletic ability and enjoy all the games we play. Dodge ball, bombardment, baseball, football, gymnastics, .... now wait a minute, that I didn't like. Tumbling wasn't for me. The girls were usually on one side of the gym and we were on the other side. Sometimes we joined for activities such as dancing, but the boys never cared much for that. Well, we're headed down the steps to get showers and get dressed. Dr. Bucher always came down into the locker room and made sure everyone showered. Then, as soon as the showers were turned off, he would head upstairs to wait for us. And ...... we would head to the door which connected the boy's locker room to the girl's locker room. The door was a wooden door that had panels on the top and bottom that over the years had shrunk with all the moisture that was created from the showers and you could just barely see into the girl's locker room. There was also a small keyhole that allowed a slight view. Every guy would have about 10 to 15 seconds to try and look through the cracks and keyhole and if you were lucky someone would be on the other side getting dressed. We all agreed that you would never say anything to anyone about the cracks. Now these features of the locker rooms started sometime in the early 50s and when they started renovations to the building in the early 1990s, the crack was still in place. My lifetime friend Jerry was the head of school grounds for the district and after renovations he took me on a tour of the building and naturally we had to go check on the locker room. And .... they replaced the door! We learned many things during our elementary gym classes. Many things!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The "Holiday Dinner at LDub's House"Story

It was an ordinary day. Carol and I are preparing for Thanksgiving Dinner. It will be a feast, I'm sure. Turkey, regular filing (that's what we call stuffing), oyster filing, gravy, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, creamed cauliflower, glazed carrots, roasted vegetables, applesauce, jellied cranberry sauce, special jello salad, potato rolls, and of course, Carol's famous pumpkin bread. Everyone has a big cold glass of water to help wash down the meal. Only thing missing is today is Dad who passed away two years ago. He loved to get together with his family and celebrate the holidays. In his honor I say the Thanksgiving Day prayer from his book of prayers. I inherited the book when he died and wouldn't miss the chance to use it for the big occasion. Today Mom is sitting at the head of the table. We have an 8 foot table I made from plywood, a 5 foot plastic table I bought at Costco, and a 3 foot card table at the end to make room for everyone. You have to "graduate" to the window end of the table and the only way you can do that is if someone dies or someone is sick for the meal. Newest members of the family sit at the card table. We take a family photo, offer our prayer and we start the meal. Everyone grabs a serving plate, helps themself, and passes it clockwise to the next person. Took years before people knew what that meant, but now we are getting the hang of it. We stuff ourselves like the pilgrims and Indians did years ago and a few of us clear the table for the next course. DESSERT! My favorite. Sometimes when I go to a buffet for a meal, I go to the dessert table first and hog all the desserts first, then maybe try some other food. My Mom would never let me do that when I was little, but she can't stop me now. Well, the desserts today are pumpkin pie, cherry pie, Texas cake and banana split dessert. Holy Cow! Why did I eat so much turkey? Now I can't sample all the desserts. After the final course, we help clear the table and I begin the chore of washing the dishes. Good silver can't go in the dishwasher do I wash it all by hand. Good china can go in, but we have to open the dishwasher as soon as the wash cycle is finished so the gold leafing on the dishes doesn't lose it's luster. And on, and on, and on. Now who do you think prepared all this? Yep, my wonderful wife. Days and days of planning, shopping, and cooking. Most of the meal was prepared before today and all we did was heat it in the oven, microwave and Bar-B-Q grill. She thinks she has maybe one more year left in her before we pass the meal onto the next generation. And the leftovers. I dish out "extras" to whomever brought containers and the rest is mine. We will have leftovers until we get so sick of them we just throw them out. Isn't this fun? But, wouldn't miss it!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Top photo is from today's story, while the bottom is when our family was much smaller and my Dad sat at the head of the table.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The "Are they really doing what I think they are?" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were heading back to our room after a trip to the beach in Grand Cayman to swim and mingle with the stingrays. Really neat experience, but we are tired and need a little rest before or evening meal. Back to our room means back to our stateroom in the cruise ship Explorer of the Seas. Our stateroom is located in the center of the ship and is a very nice size with a balcony. Jerry, Just Sue, Carol and I decided to take our first cruise together and decided on Royal Caribbean's Western Caribbean itinerary. We left from Miami with ports of call to Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Grand Cayman. We left from Miami January 28th and headed to Belize which is our first stop. First day we headed to the pool for the day and thoroughly enjoyed the evening meal and show. It seems that each day, after leaving our room for the days activities, the maids enter the stateroom and clean, dust, straighten everything and make our towels into some cute animal or item we will recognize. Always a treat to see what they have done. And, we roam the halls to find them and tell them how neat a job they did. First day they sculptured a stingray out of the towel and put candy bars on it for eyes. Right in the middle of the bed. Pretty neat job! The next day they created some type of dog with Carol's sunglasses on it. Third day they made a shirt with collar folded down and chocolate squares for buttons. Nice, but not as nice as the other two designs. Then on the next day they did this monkey hanging from a hanger. That was pretty neat. I looked at what they did and tried to take it apart so I could recreate it myself, but was never able to do it. Every day we looked forward to what we would find when we entered the room. The next sculpture looked like an animal holding the TV remote and then came the lobster with the sunglasses on its head. Well we have one more day where we can expect to be treated to some artwork. We depart our tender that has returned us from Grand Cayman and head past Jerry and Just Sue's stateroom. They open the door to see what greets them on their bed. Two swans which are facing each other and seem to be kissing. Now that's pretty cool. Carol and I set a time to meet them for supper and head to our room. We open the door and sure enough there are our swans, but they seem to be doing more than kissing. I'm not sure how to tell you what they were doing, so I guess I'll let you decide for yourself when you see the picture. And ..... how about that. And .....the maid who was passing our door as we opened it and also looked in, turned red! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The "Retirement Home Solo" Story

It was an ordinary day. I'm getting ready to meet Mr. McConnell and Molly S. at Woodcrest Villa for a Sunday afternoon service at the retirement home. Molly is the assistant minister at St. James Episcopal Church in Lancaster and Frank McConnell is the organist and choirmaster. Mr. M. came to St. James in 1944 from NY where he was the assistant to renowned organist T. Terius Noble. Boy, could he play the organ!! And me, well I'm the soloist today for the service. My first time at a retirement home! My Dad usually does all the solo work for the choir at the retirement homes, but he can't go today so Mr. M. asked me to fill his shoes. Should be interesting. Leading the hymns is a piece of cake since Mr. M. plays really loud so the people in attendance can hear the music. There is also a featured solo and today I am singing the hymn Amazing Grace. I must admit that I never before sang it the whole way through, but today I will do that. I'm not sure why, since by the time we reach the solo in the service, quite a few of theresidents are dozing off. But hey, I really enjoyed it. I wasn't sure that Mr. M. would ever ask me again to do a solo after the fiasco I performed a little over a year ago. He had asked me to sing a solo in the Christmas Cantata. Not that tough a solo, but I'm more a follower than a leader. My voice is OK and I can sing loud if need be, but hitting the right note ..... well I rely on the guy next to me to do that and I just join in. We had practiced it for two months and I thought I was ready. Until the part in the cantata where I was supposed to enter and hit the right note and sing a few pages by myself. I sang, so I did, but not the right notes. Some of the other choir members were burning a whole in my music with their stares, but I just didn't know what notes to hit. I was sweating profusely by the end of the solo, as was almost everyone else who knew the notes I was supposed to be hitting. No high fives after that!! Mr. M. never said a word about the performance. And then last week he approached me with the request for another solo. I'm still not sure if he had asked everyone else first and I was the last choice, but I was ready to redeem myself. And I did. Hit all the notes right on. Only problem was that by the end of the hymn, most everyone was sleeping. Boy, they missed a really good solo!! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - In the choir photo, my Dad is back row dead center and I'm far right in the back row with the dark glasses.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The "Everybody has a Bird" Story

It was an ordinary day. I was scraping the bird crap off the front door. Seems that every time we put a wreath on the front door, birds will build a nest in it. Always sparrows. Now, I know they need to build somewhere, but why do they always choose our front door? After Christmas this year we took our Christmas wreath down and put up a wreath with fake spring flowers in it. Not many people ever use our front door, but when they do, Carol wants it to look nice when they walk up or pathway. As soon as the weather started to get warmer I could see birds heading for the front door. Not long before they had a great nest built. Ever wonder how birds, without the use of tools and arms, can weave and attach twigs, cigarette filters, paper, and grasses into a neat home for themselves. Before long there were the eggs. This year I counted 4 before they began their constant watch of the nest. There was always a bird sitting on the nest, keeping the eggs warm. From inside our solid front door, you could hear their activity. Drove the cats nuts. Every couple of days I would open the door, stand on the bench we have inside the front door, and stare over the door at the nest. Whenever someone wold approach the door from outside or someone inside would open the door, they would vacate the nest. Eventually the eggs would start to hatch. One day you cold see I chick. A day or two later there would be another one, until all the eggs are hatched. Now the feeding began. A constant stream of movement as the mom and pop fed them. And now with six birds occupying our front door, the poop began to pile up. And it would stick to the paint. Sometimes I would document the annual family gatherings. On more than one occasion, when we would open the front door with young birds in it, one of the chicks would fly into the house. And ..... the cats would fight us for the rights to pick it up. Eventually all would leave the nest and I would be free to discard the wreath, scrap the door and repaint it for the next go around of nest building. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The "Cathouse on Harrington Drive" Story

It was an ordinary day. I had just fed the cats. Seems either Carol or I have been doing this chore since we were married. We have had a few dogs during our life together, but we have always had a cat or two. Or three. Or even four. Our first cat was a long haired Persian cat name Ivy. Black as can be. And then along came Fluffy. Fluffy was also a Persian, but she was different because she had two different colored eyes. One was green and one was blue. Yep, you guessed it. She was white and fluffy. Pretty novel names. I always wanted a cat or even a dog with spots on it so I could call it Spot, but never did have one. Well, Ivy and Fluffy loved to sit in front of our aquarium and stare at the fish. They would sit there for hours and stare. So much that they freaked out the fish and every now and then one of the fish would jump out the top. Just what they were hoping for. We eventually moved into a house in Grandview Heights and purchased a cat for our daughter. She, or maybe it was us, named it Gladys. It was a Lilac Point Siamese and am not sure why we called her Gladys. She was later joined byPete, another Lilac Point Siamese. Carol and I were always sitcom TV watchers and remembered the old Pete and Gladys sitcom so we now had or own Pete and Gladys. Pete was a male who enjoyed exploring. All our cats were house cats, but Pete always found his way into the most troublesome spots. One day I found him walking on the hot water pipes in the basement and he had burnt the skin off his paws. A trip to the vets for treatment and wrapping. The wrapping lasted all of an hour after I brought him home. He didn't care for the bandages at all. On another occasion was watching us make supper from on top of the fridge. Somehow he managed to open the freezer door of the fridge and jump into the freezer section. Luckily for him we needed something out of the freezer shortly after he entered. Gladys eventually died and we replaced her with another Seal Point and named her Gladys. Yep, loved the name. Gladys #2 loved Gibbles Potato Chips. Would eat them right out of your hand. She also would stand on our hutch as we ate in the dining room and reach over with her paw and tap you on the shoulder. Begging for food wasn't just for dogs. She lived to be over 17 years old and was Carol's constant companion throughout her life. A true lap cat. Our daughter had just entered college and was living at home at the time and felt the need for her own cat so she purchased a Himalayan and named him Abe. This is a cross between a Persian and a Siamese. Markings like a Siamese, but with long hair. Carol, not to be outdone, purchased the half-brother of Abe and called him Otis. Otis is a Chocolate Point and is now over 16 years old and still loves his toy mice and laying on you in the morning in bed. Then along came Gunther. He was a Seal Point Himi who roamed our house for many years before passing recently. Gunther was my lap cat. He loved laying in my lap and being rubbed. We have found that cats are more evasive than dogs, but have their own aura about them. They love to play, but are more private. Much easier to care for than dogs. My wife recently saw Seal Point kittens advertised is the newspaper. I thought she was just talking to me, but I just located the ad taped to the side of the fridge. I guess we will be looking for another name. How about Gladys. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Pixs from the top are: Ivy, Fluffy, Pete, Gladys #2, Abe, Gunther, and Otis.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The "An Alarming Experience" Story

It was an ordinary day. Carol and I are on our way with the Lancaster County Corvette Club to York to The Burger King on Rt. 30. We joined the car club a few months ago and find it fun to travel with them to different locations and to enter the competitions they have. We have had our car for a little over a year now and enjoy driving and showing it off. As we enter the parking lot I follow the guy in front of me in the red '78 convertible. Neat car, but not as nice as our '87 bright red coupe. We park next to them and I lock the car, but forget and leave the windows down. We are immediately greeted by the Forbergers who we have parked next to. As we talk, I discover that I have their son in my photography and graphic arts classes at MTHS. Wow, small world. We stick with them and meet a few other couples in the restaurant and order our lunch. After eating we tell everyone we must get back to Lancaster and say our good-byes to everyone. Carol gets to the car first and tries the door. Locked! Then realizes that the window is open so reaches in and opens the door with the inside car handle. Whoop, whoop, whoop! The alarm goes off. So I take the key and place it in the door and unlock the door. Still keeps making the alarming noise. And it is loud! And it is drawing a crowd! What do I do. I feel like an idiot. No, I am an idiot. Why can't I figure out how to get this alarm to go off? Luckily a member of the club see my dilemma from inside the restaurant and runs out to rescue me. I have to get out, re-lock the car, then open the car with the key. SILENCE!! I'm sure I must have been red as a beet. I own a Corvette and don't know how to use the alarm in it. I must have looked like an amateur to everyone inside and outside the restaurant. But, not a single person said a word to me. A few even said that happened to them when they first got their car. What a nice group of people. It was the start of a fun couple of years with many trips, shows, rallies and picnics. And we enjoyed ever minute of it, but will never forget our initial trip with our new friends. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The "Things You Never Forget About School" Story

It was an ordinary day. Tomorrow is the last day of school for the year and next year I will get to go to a brand new building when I enter my freshman year of high school. I have been in this building for two years now and am ready to move on. I went to Brecht Elementary in the southern end of Manheim Township for six years before I entered the Jr.-Sr. High School. The building I am currently in houses grades 7-12 and opened in 1929 with 26 classrooms, alibrary, gym and auditorium, but with many new housing developments throughout the township, it is so crowded that we have classes in the basement as well as in a neighboring township fire company. Two years ago they started to build a new Senior High School to house grades 9-12 and eventually the school I am now in will be the Jr. High. Can hardly wait. For two years I have had my homeroom in the basement of the school in the cafeteria. I did not have a locker to keep my books and jacket in, so I had to carry everything with me from class to class. I did learn how to manage what I carried to school everyday, so I wasn't loaded with more than necessary. On days when I had gym class I had the added weight of a gym bag with my uniform and towel in it. Last year, in my first year at the school, I had the extra burden of facing the upperclassmen everyday on the school bus and in the halls of the school. The upperclassmen had lockers in the hallway and seemed to always make trouble for the 7th graders, knocking their books out of their hands whenever they could. On days when I had music class, I had to leave the school with my jacket and all my books, walk a block, cross a busy road and enter the Neffsville Fire Company. My class was held on the second floor of the fire hall. Glad I only had music one time a week. Well, it's time to say good-bye to all the memories, bad and good, that I had in the MT Jr.-Sr. High School. I'll be entering a new era next year and will be in the first graduating class that will have spent four years in the new MTHS. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The "Good Way to Spoil an Evening" Story

It was an ordinary day. We are heading to Grand Case in St. Martin for supper. Grand Case is considered the culinary capital of the Caribbean and had an endless variety of meals. Anything from meals made on an open fire to fine dining in elegant restaurants. Haven't decided what or where we will eat tonight. We enter the north end of the town and travel the narrow street towards restaurant row. Parking is usually at a premium. Wow, right in from of the restaurant Il Nettuno is a parking space. It's one of my favorite places, but we're not sure we are ready for fine dining tonight. We park the car and as we get out I notice the owner is standing in the doorway watching us. We continue down the road on foot and I said to Carol that he didn't look happy I parked in front of his place and we didn't go in for supper. Well, we decided on California Restaurant tonight and after having a great meal, headed back towards the car. "What's this?" I say to Carol as I notice a parking ticket on the windshield. The owner is still standing in the doorway with a smile on his face. I'm positive he called one of his friends at the police department and had them come and ticket my rental. Said on the ticket I parked in a loading area. Carol and I looked all over the street and building for a sign and found none. After calming down, we drove back to our hotel. The next morning I talked to the manager of the hotel and asked him for help. He made a few calls and told me that he doubts I will be able to get out of the ticket. "Where do I go to pay for it?" I asked him. "Police Department is only open on Saturdays for paying parking fines," he told me. "Geez, we have to leave on Saturday," I tell him. "What happens if I don't pay the fine?" He tells me that the fine will be assessed to my rental company and they will have to pay it. If they don't, then the next time I try to enter St. Martin, I will be taken to the police station to pay it, plus another fine for leaving the island without paying my ticket. "Now what do I do?" I ask the manager. We have been going to the Alamanda for a few years now and we have become friends with the manager, so he tells me to give him the money and he will drive to the police station on Saturday and pay the fine. Just how well do I know this guy and can I trust him to pay the fine? And .... if he doesn't pay it, what will happen when I arrive next year? Carol and I talk it over and I give him the $50 plus another $10 for his time and hope for the best. Never heard from the car rental company so I figured everything was OK. And as you might have guessed, we did head back the next year for another visit. As we exited the airport upon arrival, there is a patrol car by the curb. Couldn't believe this was happening. And ..... it wasn't. I just naturally panicked , but didn't need to. The Gendarmes (police in French) were just visiting checking out the new arrivals. We found our name on the cardboard being held by the rental guy, and off we went. It will be many years before we eat at Il Nettuno again, I'm sure. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The "A Trip to the Conch Farm" Story

It was an ordinary day. We were having fun on Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos. One of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. Sand is so soft and white it feels like talcum powder. And it sticks to you like powder when you're wet. Jerry, Just Sue, Carol and I are trying to figure out what we want to do tomorrow. Need a change from all this sitting on the beach and reading, napping and lounging in the water routine. When we arrived, there was a kiosk at the airport that had brochures with all types of tourist places to go. Later that day, when we returned to our rooms, we found the brochures and decided we would visit the World's only Conch Farm. Directions were included in the brochure, so the next day after breakfast we headed to the northeast corner of Providenciales. The roads on the island are terrible. Pot holes up to the rim of the wheel, so if you hit one, you had an awful time getting out of it. Many days we heard tires popping as we drove along the roads. And the road to the conch farm is no different. Really need to keep you eyes on the road and don't try to sight see as you drive. We had read in our Fodor's guide book all about the conch farm the night before and were anticipating our trip to this sight. The conch are raised from eggs to young adults, housed in greenhouse-like structures, then transferred to holding ponds and later ocean holding pens. Visitors are encouraged to pick up and handle the conch at each stage. The tour culminates with a visit with Sally and Jerry, two trained, 6-year-old, full-grown conch who are coaxed out of their shells so guides can point out the very obvious difference between the males and females. Now how cool will that be? We're on the final stretch of bad road now, and as we make the final turn into the lane with the Conch Farm sign, we are greeted with yet another sign. "Closed for Public Tours" - Re-open November 1st. Holy crap! We wasted an hour finding this place and a quarter of an inch of rubber from our tires, and now the ONLY, yes ONLY tourist attraction on the island is closed. And I was really looking forward to seeing all those conch. Oh well, back to the beach. Now that can't be all bad. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.