Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Bliss 36. . .

36 years of Connubial Bliss. . . and counting. . .

Thank you, My Beloved, for throwing your life (and your DNA) in with mine, these 36 years.  I am utterly grateful. . .


It might have been six years ago, when we were celebrating our 30th, that I stopped at the store and, in preparation for the anniversary festivities, bought a dozen roses, a box of Jenn's favorite candy, and a magnum of champagne.  As I was checking out, the clerk, a woman about my age at the time, looked at me with wide eyes, and sputtered, "WHAT DID YOU DO?!?"


And it seems a fitting observance that this coming weekend, Jenn and I will be helping to put on a retreat for married couples at a parish Up North, not far from my hometown (of course, when you're Up North, 'not far' is still an hour's drive. . .)

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Cracking the Bible Code???

The other night, 8M was texting with one of his buddies, when he stopped and chuckled to himself.  Jenn looked at him; "What's so funny?" she asked.

"I just realized that, to text 'Mom' from my phone, I key in '666'."

Serves her right for asking, I guess. . .

Thursday, May 19, 2016

In My (Blog-)Life. . .

Ten years ago today, I made my first entry into BlogWorld.  For those of you who are interested, you could follow the link to my old blog in the sidebar, and check it out (here is a link to the first month's posts).  Honestly, the first post itself was pretty. . . lame.  But it wasn't long before I was developing the themes which have been more-or-less running bits throughout the life of both of my blogs.

I originally posted under the pseudonym of Desmond Jones, cleverly lifted (if I may say so myself) from the Beatles' song, 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da', with its main character Desmond Jones and his happy union with his wife Molly, and their 'couple of kids running in the yard'.

My blog-life has actually had four distinct phases.  The first ran from May-August of '06, at which point I took a brief 'break', when it felt like I was putting too much effort and attention into my blog at the expense of other, more important things, like taking care of my family (which was really ironic, since a large proportion of my blogging material has pertained to the joys and heartbreaks of marriage and family life).

That 'break' was short-lived, and by September, I was back at it, maybe even more actively than before.  I like to think of this as sort of the 'golden age' of my blog; a disproportionate number of my favorite posts come from this period.

By the spring of '07, though, things were feeling a bit out-of-hand again, and so I shut my blog down again.  This time, I stayed gone for over a year, although I continued to visit and comment on the blogs I'd gotten to know in my months of blogging.

The third phase of my blog commenced in the summer of '08, when I started my blog back up for the third time.  And I've stayed more-or-less active ever since. . .

At the end of '09, I stopped posting to my original 'Running In the Yard' blog, and opened this current blog, dropping the pseudonyms (at least for Jenn and me; the kids have retained their original birth-order/gender designations).  I just moved to 'The Yard Next Door'; same blog, really, just dropping the mask a tiny bit.  And I've been here ever since.

Anyway, here we are, ten years on.  I've enjoyed blogging, most especially the friends I've made here, and the interesting people I've met (to the extent I can say we've actually 'met', or become friends).  Once, in the fall of '08, a few of us who live in the Upper Midwest got together face-to-face for a weekend in Indianapolis, which was fun.  I'd love to meet more of you all, and maybe I will. . . or, you know, maybe not.  We will see what we will see. . .

Blogging sort-of 'peaked' a few years ago (probably a year or two before I moved 'next door'; ironically, around the time of our face-to-face in Indy), and now there's just a few of us hardy hangers-on from the 'Old Days' (mainly over-50 geezers by now).  I honestly don't know how many more years I'll keep this blog going; for the past year-plus, the activity level around The Yard has been pretty low.  But I suppose, as long as I keep coming up with stuff to blog about and stories to tell (or, you know, re-tell), stuff will keep popping up here.  Until it doesn't.

Thanks to all of you who keep showing up to read my stuff (God only knows why); and especially those of you who take the time to leave a comment now and again.  I've really enjoyed it. . .

Ten years. . . Man, who knew? . . .


Continuing on the theme of Retrospection (and just because I'm that kind of generous), I'm gonna give you all links to my most popular posts, or at least the ones with the most page-views. . .

Back to the Drawing Board, I Guess

The Best Man I've Ever Known

Place Names In Michigan

Another Book Post

John Chrysostom for Christmas

I Am a Nazarene

With My Body, I Thee Worship

And one from my old blog. . .

Growing Up In the 60s

Thanks for visiting. . .

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

An Old-Fashioned Blog List

In honor of my upcoming 10-year blogging anniversary (a month from now), I thought I'd go all 'Blast From the Past' and post one of those checklists that were common as dirt back in the early days of my blogger-hood.  I'm borrowing this one from my blog-friend Skip, who posted it a couple months ago, though I'm pretty sure he borrowed it from someone else.  It came to him as a 'Bucket List', and some of the items on it are indeed bucket-worthy; others, not so much.  I'm just gonna call it

Have You Ever. . .

(X) Shot a gun
( ) Been Tased – This is supposed to be a Bucket List item??
( ) Been Arrested
( ) Gone on a blind date
(X) Skipped school
( ) Watched someone die – I was with my dad within an hour of his death, but he slipped away when I wasn’t there
(X) Visited Canada
( ) Visited Hawaii
( ) Visited Cuba
( ) Visited Europe
( ) Visited South America
( ) Visited Las Vegas
( ) Visited Central America
( ) Visited Asia
( ) Visited Africa
(X) Visited Florida
(X) Visited Mexico
( ) Seen the Grand Canyon in person – does it count if I saw it from an airplane?
( ) Flown in a helicopter
( ) Drag raced your car - if you knew the cars I've owned, you'd understand. . .
(X) Served on a jury – more of ‘em than I wish I had. . .
(X) Been lost – but not very, and not for long. . .
(X) Traveled to the opposite side of the country – I'm tempted to ask, 'opposite in what sense, exactly?' . . .
( ) Visited Washington, DC
(X) Swam in the Ocean – Both the Atlantic and the Pacific; and all five Great Lakes!
(X) Cried yourself to sleep
(X) Played cops and robbers
(X) Played cowboys and Indians
( ) Recently colored with crayons – depends what you mean by ‘recently’, I suppose. . .
(X) Sang karaoke
(X) Sang a solo or duet
(X) Paid for a meal with coins only – does anyone remember those 'vend-o-matic' places from back in the '60s?
(X) Made prank phone calls
(X) Laughed until some beverage came out of your nose
(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
(X) Been a parent – Still am, actually. . .
(X) Had a dog
(X) Had a cat - alas. . .
(X) Been skinny-dipping - Heh; yup. . .
(X) Been fishing
(X) Been boating
( ) Been downhill skiing
(X) Been water skiing – not sure any of those who saw me would actually call what I did 'water skiing' but I did get up on the skis for a few seconds; maybe even a whole minute. . .
(X) Been camping in a trailer/RV
(X) Been camping in a tent
(X) Driven a motorcycle
( ) Been bungee-jumping (/ ripcord jumping / rappelling) - does falling while rock climbing count?
(X) Gone to a drive-in movie
( ) Done something that could have killed you – unless commuting 80mi in a blizzard counts. . .
(X) Done something that you will regret for the rest of your life – Regrets, I’ve had a few. . . 
( ) Rode an elephant – This would be incredibly cool; but alas, no. . .
( ) Rode a camel
( ) Eaten just cookies or cake or ice cream for dinner
(X) Drank your dinner
(X) Been on TV
( ) Stolen any traffic signs – thought about it once, but. . . no
(X) Been in a car accident
( ) Been in the Hospital or ER in past 24 months - not  in the past 24 months
(X) Donated blood
( ) Gotten a speeding (or any other type of) ticket in the past 12 months not  in the past 12 months
( ) Gotten a piercing
( ) Gotten a Tattoo – Does it count if my kids have gotten piercings/tattoos?
(X) Driven a manual transmission vehicle – I was in my 50s before I even owned an automatic. . .
( ) Ever owned your dream car – Not sure what my dream car would be, but whatever it is, I’m pretty sure I’ve never owned one. . .
(X) Been Married – And most blissfully so  ;)
( ) Been divorced
(X) Fell in love
( ) Fell out of love
(X) Paid for a stranger's meal
(X) Driven over 100 mph
( ) Been scuba diving
( ) Written a published book/story/poetry – I’ve had (non-fiction) articles published, but no stories or poetry. . .
( ) Eaten snails – They need an entry here for caviar. . .
( ) Eaten Haggis
(X) Taught a class

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Madness. . . Madness. . .

Oh, we had such high hopes this year. . .  There was no over-archingly dominant team this year, and my Spartans had been on quite a roll, winning 13 of their last 14 games heading into the NCAA tournament, winning the Big Ten conference tournament, and grinding out tough wins against good teams in the final two games.  So we were eagerly looking forward to the NCAAs.  Honestly, this looked like our best chance in years to win the championship.  Unlike most of Coach Izzo's previous teams, it would have been disappointing not to make at least the Final Four.  This was Coach Izzo's best chance in years to win his second championship, and the stars seemed to be aligning perfectly.

We simply had no mental framework for losing in the first round.  I still can't quite believe we did.  It was all set up so perfectly for us.  Oh, I was a little concerned about the possibility of meeting Virginia in the Regional Final, especially since we'd eliminated them from the last two NCAAs, and they would certainly be extra-motivated to play us the third year in a row.  And I wanted no part of the possibility of seeing Purdue for a third time this season, since we'd split two grinding, gruelling games during the season.  But I never imagined we'd lose in the first round. . .

But we did lose.  In the first round.  Hats off to Middle Tennessee.  They played a tough, gritty, fearless game against us, and they simply couldn't miss, it seemed.  They smacked us in the face right from the opening tip, running out to a 15-2 lead in the first five minutes of the game, and forcing us to play catch-up the whole game.  We slowly clawed our way back into the game; twice, late in the game, we pulled within a single point, but each time, Middle Tennessee made the big plays, hit the key shots, made the clutch steals, and we made the crucial, excruciating turnovers.  And when the final horn sounded, we had lost the game.

To put the game into context - this is the 32nd year of the 64-team format for the tournament.  That means there have now been 128 games between 2-seeds and 15-seeds (and there were a lot of us who thought we 'should have' been a 1-seed; you'd be very kind not to rub that in our faces).  The 15-seeds have now won eight of those 128 games.  This was one of the biggest upsets in the history of the tournament.  But I have no basis for complaining; it was just our turn in the barrel, I guess.  If it wasn't my Spartans on the losing end, I'd smile, and shake my head, and mutter to myself about how crazy and unpredictable the tournament is, and this is why they call it March Madness, and so forth.  But wow. . . when it's our turn, it just stings.  Or makes you numb.  Or both at the same time.

If I step back, it almost looks like we got caught in some crazy weird vortex of fate (I don't really believe in the whole 'vortex of fate' thing, but, you know. . .).  Of the 32 winners of first-round games this year, ten of them - almost a third - are double-digit seeds:  two 10-seeds, three 11s, two 12s, a 13, a 14 and a 15.  I don't ever recall anything remotely close to such a massively crazy convergence of upsets in the same tournament.  And however it happened, my Spartans got caught in it.


Maybe next year. . .

To quote from The Bridge on the River Kwai:  "Madness. . .  Madness. . ."


But hey, at least our women won. . .  ;)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Long-Stemmed WHAT?

This is a re-post from many years ago (seven, to be precise), on my old blog, which I thought you all might enjoy. . .


Jenn and I have never been particularly big on Valentine’s Day. We’ve tended to view it as pretty much an over-hyped ‘Hallmark holiday’, designed to sell candy and greeting cards. And we’ve figured that really, it’s much better if we spend 365 days a year finding ways to express our love and commitment to each other, than it is to ride in on a white horse every February 14th to say what, honestly, we should be saying (albeit, perhaps not in quite such extravagant form) all the time.

But, maybe that’s just us.

I did get in trouble once over Valentine’s Day, though. My birth-mother, as it turns out, is a HUGE fan of Valentine’s Day. And so, when the first V-Day after our reunion rolled around, and I gave it my typical blasé non-observance, she was pretty upset with me, and told me so. I mean, how hard would it have been for me to send her a card, or some candy hearts with cheesy ‘romantic’ messages stamped in them, expressing the true depth of my feelings for her, right?

So, I didn’t make that mistake again. The following year, I was in the card shop a month ahead, searching for the perfect V-Day card. And I found it. On the front, it had an old photo of a gnarly, scowling old gentleman, standing behind a chair on the lawn. The caption read, “Here’s your damn Valentine”, and inside it said, “Now sit down and shut up.” Jenn wouldn’t let me send it to my mother. But I still have it in my files, to this day (I swear I still have it; I was gonna scan it for y'all, but I couldn't immediately lay hands on it).


We have occasionally had a bit of fun with V-Day observances, though. Many years ago, when we were married only a few years, I was in my office, working, on Valentine’s Day, when I got paged to the receptionist’s desk by the front door, so everybody in the office could hear it. When I got there, there was a long white box sitting on the desk – the kind that long-stemmed roses often come in. “Your wife was just here,” said the receptionist. “She said she couldn’t stay, but she left this for you.”

Curious. . . Jenn is definitely not the sentimental sort. She used to pooh-pooh it when I brought her flowers, but over the years she's grown more appreciative of the thought, and the effort (and the flowers are nice, after all). Anyway, getting roses for me would be way out-of-character for her.

I picked up the box. It was heavy. WAY too heavy for flowers. What the heck? So I set the box back on the desk, and opened it, to see what in the world it could possibly contain, that was so heavy.

And I saw six cans of beer, laid end-to-end. A linear six-pack.

Sometimes, you know, there are just no words. . .

I married a great, great woman. . .

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Divided By a Common Language. . .

OK, this is a story which I tell with some frequency, on the general theme of the sometimes-humorous (or is it humourous?) things that happen when British English-speakers try to communicate with American English-speakers (and vice-versa). . .  (I could also refer you to my reply-comment to the Brighton Pensioner in the comment-space attached to this post). . .


A business-woman I know was travelling to London on business.  She was met at the airport by a gentleman who worked for the company on which she was to call the following day.  Said gentleman drove her from the airport to her hotel, and then, by way of making arrangements to pick her up in the morning and convey her to the office at which meetings were to take place, he asked her, "Shall I knock you up about eight, then?"

Absolutely true story. . .