Wednesday, August 31, 2011

So What's a Birthday All About, Alfie?

I had occasion to read of a person's disappointment in lack of guests for an apparent recent birthday … people who said they would stop by to celebrate, but obviously did not.

The person indicated that it hurt.

Got me to thinking … again … about the importance or lack thereof for celebrating birthdays.

When I was born, I had nothing … NOTHING to do with it. I don't know if I was planned or if I was the result of a casual, but not too carefully thought out romp in the hay. I was merely the outcome of a plan or the result of a romp that had no particular motive in mind except that it was probably something that the participants thought of as a good idea at the time.

Sure, I was there on my birthday. That's probably why it's called my birthday. Yet I was not responsible for me being there.

I'd like to think that I was a welcomed guest at my "coming out" party, and, if I was planned, it's quite likely that I was welcomed. If I was unplanned, however, it kind of boils down to the inevitable consequence of casual sex. I was just "there," neither planned and possibly not welcome, but grudgingly accepted (and becoming "used to" in time).

So when my birthday comes along, should I be expected to celebrate a deed that I was not involved in or should I throw a party for those who are directly responsible for me being: my parents?

Cynical? I don't think I am. I just see no useful purpose in getting bent out of shape because people aren't slapping me on the back and "attaboying" me for something I had no part of. I had nothing to do with it.

Sure, it must be nice to get congratulatory cards or emails with well-wishes or presents, but in the strict sense, it's my parents who should get those. They are the two who were responsible for me.

If I made it to the "big 5 oh" that's great. But it's no guarantee that I'll make it to the bigger "6 oh" … if I take care of myself, I might. That might be a reason to celebrate the day that I was born on. I took the first steps to live a reasonably good life to get me to 60. Right?

Before you decide to regard me as a curmudgeon, think about it. What part did  I play in being born? What part did you play in your birthday? Think further about it. What, really, is there to celebrate?

Oh … if today is your birthday, happy birthday!

As always, comments and opposing  points of view are welcome!

Monday, August 29, 2011

So Am I a Nutcase?

I saw the most amazing thing yesterday at about 5:45 PM. I was sitting on the top step of my pool; enjoying the day just cooling off after a two-hour plus bike ride by watching the clouds drift by, northwest to southeast.

All of a sudden I saw my "Foxy Lady III" in the form of a cloud. I could make out her ears, one eye open and her nose, along with her paws as if she were romping heavenward.

I ran to the garage and my car, where I keep my camera, to capture the cloud. But, by the time I got back to the pool, it had separated and dispersed somewhat, and I was no longer able to see my Lady in its formation. It was strikingly like the photo below, but in reverse, facing the opposite direction.

 It was really beautiful, and to me, it was as if she was sending me a message, "I'm OK, and I'm happy."

I miss my little girl something terrible. It's more than 10 months since I lost my buddy. I don't know if "all dogs go to heaven," but that cloud reinforced my hope. I know that our minds can "suggest" things like this; however, I prefer to believe that what I saw was real.

I wish I'd been able to capture it so that anyone who reads this doesn't think that I'm some kind of nutcase. But then, maybe I am a nutcase. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

So I Really WAS a Winner!

A few weeks ago I mentioned (not here) that there was a "second chance" series of drawings by the Florida Lottery for Monopoly "scratch-offs" that didn't produce a winner. Each ticket submitted was multiplied, offering between 120 and 180 chances for the drawing.

Long story short: I wound up with 49,200 chances to win $10,000 or a Florida vacation and $1,000, or $200 and a Premier Edition Monopoly game or a Premier Edition Monopoly game.

I won a Monopoly game … no dollars.

I'm not a board game player; cards yes.

So, on the advice/suggestions of several people, I decided to contribute the game to the Englewood Community Hospital … until I received the game yesterday.

It's a BEAUTIFUL game board. It's all wood with a green felt surface to toss the dice onto; gold-colored metal player pieces; two drawers to house the "money" and houses/hotels and game cards.

I've decided that instead of donating it to the Englewood Community Hospital, I'd try to sell it. The Florida Lottery Commission told me that its value is $300 as a collectors' edition. The game board does not fold in half. It's one piece and HEAVY!The doggone game must weigh 20 lbs! I've seem some advertised on for $900 to $2,499.99!

My reasoning is that in the hands of many people of varying age groups, such as at the hospital, the board would be marred and lose its value to collectors in no time.

Instead, what I hope to do is sell it to a serious collector who would keep it for the "prestige" only, and with the amount I receive I could buy perhaps a half-dozen or so "regular" games to donate to additional facilities. There are loads of hospitals, hospices, Boy & Girls Clubs, etc., in Englewood and nearby cities.  I'm hoping that an asking price of $300 (plus shipping) will result in a sale to someone who'd really appreciate a Collector's Edition without the need to spend the money for those advertised on Amazon.

I think it makes more sense to do something to make more people happy rather than a limited number at one hospital.

I know that $300 isn't chicken feed, but if anyone who reads this knows of someone who might be interested, please let me know.

I'd be happy to donate any excess (not enough for an additional game) to my local Humane Society.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

So When Does Silver Turn to Gold?

My friend over a lifetime, Doris, called me yesterday. We communicate at least once a week.

In 2010  Doris was diagnosed with stage-4 lung cancer. She never smoked, always took care of herself, eating properly and the like. Lung cancer is the last thing one would think would affect a person like her.

A stage-4 diagnosis doesn't offer much hope. It's virtually a death sentence with life expectancy at diagnosis being approximately eight months.

Yesterday Doris called to tell me how pleased she was with the Realtor that I recommended for her and her husband when they decided to sell their beautiful country rancher and downsize into an assisted living community where they purchased a smaller residence. Doris' husband, Ben, has had a decline in health which was the motivating factor in their decision to downsize. Their property was just too much to maintain (in-ground pool, large lot, long driveway for shoveling snow), etc.

They had closing on the sale yesterday, and they were extremely pleased with the way Jeff, their Realtor (, handled everything. The buyers were the first people to see the home. There was no haggling over price or insisting that the sellers pay the buyers' portion of fees, etc. The process was seamless.

Jeff sold two of my previous homes. I vouched for him because he's extremely reliable. He got my asking price in both instances and  I couldn't be more pleased.

Doris and I kidded about her sending the check to me. I told her that I'd take good care of it; that I love spending money, especially if it's someone else's.

As we were bantering back and forth, Doris said, "Oh! I forgot to tell you. I went to the oncologist on Monday and got the results today. He said that there is no sign of cancer. Everything is clear." This was a cautionary check-up that followed equally good results last April.

It was almost as if the closing of the home overshadowed the wonderful news about her health. She hadn't even told her son yet. "I forgot," she admitted, sheepishly.

We both laughed over that.

I asked her if her hair had grown back fully since she'd gone through surgery, radiation and chemo treatments. She said it had; that it's thicker than ever, and curly.

If I had been able to see her, I'd say that she was "beaming" over the two joyous reasons for celebration that took place on the same day.

As I questioned in my earlier post regarding Doris, "Is there a silver lining in life's clouds?" I suppose in Doris' case the silver is in her hair. Her life now appears to be "golden."

Some stories do have happy endings!

Monday, August 15, 2011

So I Didn't Go Biking Yesterday

I spend a lot (and I mean a lot) of time in my pool. After my daily bike rides, with temperatures in the mid to high 90s, I look forward to cooling off for a couple of hours in the pool.

The pool deck is pure white, and after each rain, the dust at the top of the pool cage transforms into gray "dirt" on the deck and areas of the cage. We've had quite a bit of rain lately, and I noticed that the deck, as well as the cage, was taking on that grayish look.

So yesterday, I bypassed my bike ride in favor of pressure washing the deck and pool cage. It took nearly four hours of nearly non-stop work. The only times I stopped were when the pressure washer ran out of gas and I had to let it cool before refilling it.

My pool boy, Pedro, spent Saturday and most of yesterday in the pool, cleaning it from top to bottom. He's seen below finishing his 1 ½ day task. Unfortunately I forgot to remove the thermometer from the pool and Pedro, apparently mistaking it for a treat, tried to eat it. Instead, he killed it. When I removed the thermometer, it showed a final reading of 105°. I didn't know that the poor thing was dead until I put it in the freezer of my refrigerator in the garage and when I removed it this morning, it showed a temperature of 100°, which was clearly wrong. The highest temperature ever in my pool was last summer when it topped off at 90°.

So, today I'll bike to the pool store to replace it, getting two things done at once.

After the work was all done, I stood back with pride and admired the results. The deck is once again pure white as well as the pool cage. I then went into the pool and swept the small bits of remaining debris toward the drains for them to suck the dirt into the filter (which will be cleaned today).

Although I enjoy my bike rides immensely, I derived much pleasure from knowing that I did something positive by putting the bike ride on the back burner and getting something accomplished that I can also get pleasure from: looking at a clean pool, deck and cage.