fuzzy, black dogs

fuzzy, black dogs
All three of my fuzzy, black dogs -- Bob, Ace and Lilly.

Phillip's Scenic Overlook

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Christmas Shuffle

Christmas may be over, but we aren't finished with it yet! The truth is, I've put it off for four days. It can't wait any longer. I started with the flat screen tv box in the living room and took it to the curb. The flat screen tv is in place and the old one is in the dining room. And that is where the trouble begins...

If we keep it, then we'll use it to replace the small one in the sunroom. And of course the shelves holding the small one aren't big enough for the larger one. Now, those shelves are where I was going to put the books I got for Christmas, so now those have to find a new home as well. That means the books may have to go to the bookshelves upstairs and the shelf will replace the jewelry chest of drawers that currently hold everything but jewelry.

Now the jewelry chest of drawers is homeless. It could be a great place to store cd's, dvd's, and Wii games, but there is no room for it with the new, rather large television set. The only logical place for it to go would be the office. Now we have the jewelry chest replacing the antique entertainment system (I call it an antique because it's a radio/record player/eight-track tape player!) that is as big as a sofa and takes up an entire wall. Why? Well, that's the only logical place for it to go.

Now we have to move the entertainment system to the only place it can possibly go -- the hallway. However, I have a credenza in the hallway that holds knick-knacks, a slightly damaged antique repro mirror and even more books. I won't even mention the books and other assorted items stored underneath the credenza. Some of the underneath "stuff" could go on my newly cleaned desk. The on top of "stuff" might be distributed amongst the bookshelve tops that are nearly brimming full with other "stuff," and the credenza could go to the dead space behind the sofa.

Now we have to figure out what to do with the chest full of more "stuff" currently residing in said dead space. The chest is stacked on top an antique card catalog. One day, I will convert it into an butcher's block island for my little kitchen. I could conceivably put the chest into the dead space behind the exposed chimney upstairs which was hidden by the jewelry chest.

That also means I'll have to follow through with the butcher's block island by putting a top and legs on it. My next obvious move will be to add on to the back of the house so I can enlarge my kitchen to hold the butcher's block island.

Voila! Problem solved. And rest assured I'll jump right on it after I test out my new flat screen tv with a Wii game or two. Oh, and lunch. And after...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My 2012 New Year's Resolutions

That time of year has come again. The end of one year and the beginning of the next. Duh. Regardless, I always feel compelled to follow the generally accepted New Year's traditions, which includes eating certain foods and making my own personal list of resolutions.

It seems I always follow the food tradition of pork, cooked greens and black-eyed peas. I didn't even know about this tradition until after I got married and my wife told me about it. Her mother and her mother's mother backed her up, so I knew it had to be true. However, I've found the stomach aches I've given myself over too much cooked greens every year for the past eight years hasn't brought me financial prosperity. Maybe this year will be the year. I'll eat 'em again this year.

I'm already taking stock of my successes and foibles; my attempts and failures; and my life in general throughout the past year. While I haven't come up with any grand pearls of wisdom, I have come up with a grand list of resolutions. Here is a sampling of my New Year's Resolutions for the year 2012:

1. I resolve to NOT collect any more fuzzy, black dogs (or any other color or type of dog). Three is enough!
2. I resolve to try to be nicer to my son's friend Ann. And I really will try...
3. I resolve to not use the same resolution I've used now for approximately five years. That would be "I, Phillip Haworth, resolve to take the New Year one day at a time, striving to do my best daily by compounding upon the knowledge I've gained in the days previous and adding to it the knowledge I acquired more recently."
4. I resolve to quit being goofy. Okay, I'm lying on that one.
5. I resolve to try to quit manipulating the English language for personal gains. (The fish I caught *is about 10 pounds!)
6. I resolve to never again used an electrical food processor.
7. I resolve to try not to make fun of Kat's odd little dog, Bear.
8. I resolve to take better, more professional photos than my 14 year-old son!
9. I resolve to continue to be the wonderful, loving husband I think my wife thinks I am.
10. I resolve to outcook (or try to, anyway) Ann's mom in the next chili cook-off!
11. I resolve to try to be the amazing person Frannie, my mother-in-law, believes me to be.
12. I resolve to have a personal photographer on ALL my fishing outings.
13. I resolve to drink... Not drink... Drink...  Nevermind. We'll come back to that one.
14. I resolve to try not to get into any more gift wrap tube duels with my son. He's quick.
15. I resolve to be nicer to the woman at the drive thru at the KK who can't audibly undertand the difference between the words "coffee" and "mocha."
16. I resolve to not collect any fuzzy, black cats, or fuzzy, white cats, or even the fuzzy, black and white cats who seem to have taken up permanent residence on my front porch!
18. I resolve to try to make shorter blog posts throughout the next year.
19. I resolve to make shorter lists that don't go on so long.
20. I resolve to never... Oh, yeah -- shorter list

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

*Note the use of present tense. I catch and release. It was probably not quite a pound when I originally caught it and I am going under the assumption that the fish in question is still possibly alive and thriving.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Phillip's Holiday Eating Guide

I'm a man of many hats... Father, husband, son, uncle, in-home sick care provider, cook, bill payer, lawn maintenance provider, home maintenance provider, general car fix-it guy, chauffeur... Okay. You get the picture. However, today I'm going to try on a new hat -- self-help diet guru!

What better way to try out my newest title than to help my readers through this troubled time (known as the Holiday Season!) with my vast and incredible knowledge about food and general dietary needs. Let's start with a brief quiz.

The food you are eating these days...
1. Is it sweet?
2. Is it salty?
3. Can you eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner?
4. Does it come individually wrapped?
5. Do you inexplicably crave it at seemingly random times of the day and/or night?
6. Does it contain chocolate in any way, shape or form?
7. Is it fun to eat?
8. Would your (or any, if you don't have one) ten year-old son eat it?
9. Would dogs, cats, ferrets, parakeets or iguanas eat it if it is left out?
10. Can it be described as yummy, tasty or "Mmmmm-that-is-heavenly!"?

If you answered 'Yes' to any of the questions above, it's probably not something healthy to eat. If you answered 'Yes' to all of them, then I know it's not something healthy to eat and might cause you to gain a little holiday weight.

In years past, before I was married, I listened to my mother and 'stuck with green stuff.' In light of my holiday diet in years past, however, she has since rescinded that comment. Apparently, she was not referring to the little tree-shaped cookies with the the green icing, or the green M&M's, or green gummies, or green jelly beans, or... Well, you get the idea.

Keeping all this in mind, you have only two options open to you as far as what you can eat throughout this holiday season. The first would be plain, uncooked oatmeal straight out of the box. That means you can't put butter, salt, syrup, sugar or any flavoring on it. The second would be Brussel sprouts. They're green AND supposed to be healthy for you, though I've never actually witnessed anyone besides my mother consume one.

And there you have it! Just stick with Phillip's Famous Holiday Eating Plan and by the time January 1st rolls around, you'll be a leaner, meaner and more fit you! Happy eating and happy holidays!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Translators: A Game or a Tool?

Vrolijk Kerstfeest en Gelukkig Vakanties naar al mijn toegewijde lezers! Het was een leuk jaar posting op mijn "literaire" plaats, Fuzzy, Black Dogs. Ik heb posting diepe gedachten, literaire stukken en kleine stukjes van de poëzie voor bijna een jaar nu. Ik hoop te blijven onderhouden en het maken van glimlacht nog minstens een jaar.

Счастливого Рождества и праздники для всех моих преданных читателей! Это было весело год размещения на мои "литературные" места, нечеткие, черные собаки. Я отправлял глубокие мысли, литературной части и кусочки поэзии почти год. Я надеюсь продолжить развлекательного и сделать улыбки, по крайней мере еще ​​на год.

God Jul och Gott Semester till alla mina hängivna läsare! Det har varit ett roligt år att publicera på min "litterär" plats, Fuzzy, svarta hundar. Jag har varit posta djupa tankar, litterära bitar och små bitar av poesi i nästan ett år nu. Jag hoppas kunna fortsätta underhållande och göra ler i minst ett år till.

Hopefully, that little message I wrote in Dutch, Russian and Swedish translates properly into the following:

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my devoted readers! It's been a fun year posting fun things on my "literary" venue, Fuzzy, Black Dogs. I've been posting deep thoughts, literary pieces and little bits of poetry for nearly a year now. I hope to continue entertaining and making smiles for at least another year.

There's just something fun about translators. I've been playing with them since my son first started taking Spanish. The only Spanish I know I learned from a Mexican fast-food chain's mascot dog from their commercials! So it stands to reason that I would end up utilizing an online translator in order to offer useful help to my son struggling with a foreign language.

However, I don't get to help him as much these days. So now I just pop onto the translators from time to time and translate whatever comes to mind. Sure translators are a great tool, but if someone turns them into a game, I'm sure to be one of the highest scorers!

Perhaps it's time for me to get serious and quit goofing off on the translators...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Christmas Wish List

Here we are nearing the end of our second week in December. I've had a number of people ask me what I want for Christmas. Tell me, what does anybody really want for Christmas? However, I've thought long and hard about it and have come up with a Santa list... Well, kind of. Some of the items on my list may be unattainable without some secret Santa magic, or just plain priceless. Regardless, here's a small sample of my list:

I want a diet suppressor. Not for me, but for fuzzy, black dog (fbd for short) number three! He's trying to eat the house down, Santa. For real.

I want a dog grooming box. The dog goes in and, presto, comes back out clean and groomed!

I want fbd number two to not be afraid to poop in the yard when it rains.

I want the (big) brown trout back that I nearly caught on my guided fly-fishing trip. I really wanted a picture of THAT fish.

A clue. I want a clue so everybody will stop telling me to get one.

I want the 300 pound tuna I caught back too. Out of season my hiney!! That captain should still be on your naughty list, Santa.

I want some vertebrae for my lower back. The ones there now aren't working so well, Santa.

How about a self-cleaning house. I want one of those, or the kit to install to convert my current house into
 a self-cleaner.

I want an endless supply of rawhide bones. When fbd number one doesn't have any, he gets bored and goes for the blankets on my bed.

I want more books. The million or so I have are simply not enough.

And a chainsaw. I've wanted one since I was 10 years old, Santa. You should know that. A real gas-powered chainsaw. You're my only hope, Santa, since no one in my family seems to think it's a good idea for me to own one. Go figure. I'll leave a spot open for it for you.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Groeten ann Alle/Greetings to All

Gegroet, mijn Nederland vrienden! Ik wil u bedanken voor het bezoeken van mijn blog, Fuzzy, Black Dogs. Afhankelijk van het aantal pageviews die ik heb ontvangen van uw grote land, het lijkt erop heb ik wel een volgende ontwikkeld. Ik hoop dat u mijn schrijven te fris, schoon en verkiwikkend te lezen. Zo niet, ik hoop dat je in ieder geval vind ik gek tirades te vermaken!

At the risk of chancing any further offense, I'm switching to English. It's my native language and, obviously, the only language I really know. With the previous paragraph, I've taken a great leap of faith with an online translator.

I don't know Dutch. Period. I really don't know any foreign language. I took three years of French in high school and, shortly after graduating, found myself in Mexico. As part of a program, I taught first aid in several small villages, as well as hiked two volcanoes there. Needless to say, my language skills didn't do me much good while in Mexico. The most foreign language I know I learned from a Mexican fast-food chain's mascot dog from their commercials.

All this having been said, I hope I haven't said something stupid in my opening paragraph. I hope my faith in my translator program hasn't been misplaced. And, in case I did say something outlandish, the opening paragraph should be translated to say the following:

Greetings, my Netherland friends! I want to thank you for visiting my blog, Fuzzy, Black Dogs. According to the number of pageviews I have received from your great country, it seems that I have developed quite a following. I hope you find my writing to be crisp, clean and invigorating to read. If not, I hope you at least find my crazy rantings to be entertaining!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas By Numbers

Don't look now, but Christmas is practically upon us once again. You know what that means... Getting out all the decorations, knick-knacks, untangling lights, moving furniture, re-arranging spaces and putting the Christmas tree together. It's a process in my household. It began several days ago and will end, well, sometime prior to Christmas itself.

I have a process for everything from loading the dishwasher to putting up tree lights after the holidays. I call it extreme attention to detail. My wife and son call it... Never mind what they call it. However, she has admitted that my tree light system is clean, neat and efficient and makes stringing it on the tree much easier. I've even gone so far as to custom design the insides of three plastic tubs, compartmentalizing them to make for easier ornament putting away, storage and so forth.

One of the biggest challenges came when we switched from real to fake trees for Christmas. It seems my son is allergic to Evergreen trees. My parents gave us a nice one one year, and we used it for several years. About five years ago my wife's mother gave us her old tree which is nearly eight feet tall and as big around as a VW Beetle.

Don't get me wrong, I like the tree. I wouldn't have used it for the past five or six years if I didn't. However, the first Christmas I put the tree up was one to remember. It wasn't the gifts or the music or the great holiday cheer that made it memorable. It was the tree.

My wife decided what day the tree would be put up. Coincidentally, she was out shopping on said day. All day. This phone conversation took place approximately 45 minutes after her departure.

"Hi honey," I said. "Where are the directions on the tree your mom gave us? There are none? Okay... Well, is it color coded or something? Umm... No, I don't see any colors on the branch bases. You're right. How do you know what goes where? Ha ha... (Jokingly)Perhaps I'll just get out my handy-dandy tape measure and measure each branch as I put them on largest to smallest from the bottom to the top."

Half an hour later, I had four branches on one tier and was crawling on the floor measuring out branches with my handy-dandy tape measure. Flash forward past some of the colorful comments I made during the assemblage process and, voila! One 10 hour tree! Please don't ask how long it took to put nearly 20 strands of light onto that Christmas tree.

Regardless, after that holiday season, I announced to my wife and young child that I, Phillip H. Haworth, would not assemble that tree ever again. After some sage advice from my wife, young child and mother-in-law, I announced that I, Phillip H. Haworth, would devise a system to make assembling that crazy tree easier.

Now, each branch has its own special numbering system. Once I get the base of the tree up, it's simply a matter of locating the number at the base of the branch that corresponds to the correct tier. With the remnants of Thanksgiving dinner put away let Christmas by numbers begin!

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Good to be Thankful

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. It followed on the heels of an awesome performance (by everybody, not just me) of  "Miracle on 34th Street, the Musical." After the excitement of the show died down and Thanksgiving dinner was stashed in the fridge, I sat and quietly contemplated my life and those things that I am thankful for.

Here is a small sampling of those things that I am truly thankful for:

That I have only three fuzzy, black dogs and not four or more.
My family, which consists of my wonderful wife and weird, but sweet, teenage son and three dogs.
My really cool sister-in-law, Kat, who gave me her iPod touch.
My good set of golf clubs that remind me each time I see them that I really can't afford to play golf these days!
The large, mossy patch of ground in front of my house that never requires mowing.
My in-laws who live around the corner from me. No, really, I am thankful for that!
My family, who just happen to live around the corner in the exact opposite direction. That, incidentally, was not planned. It was merely a lucky happenstance.
The small amount of weight I've lost and kept off, despite overeating for Thanksgiving.
My sisters for teaching me the value of ALWAYS lowering the toilet seat before exiting the restroom!
My job, because not working sucks.
My nearly thirty fishing rods that I currently own.
Did I mention my wonderful, sweet wife?

I'm thankful for many, many more things that are much to numerous to all be listed in one simple blog posting. I do want to mention one more thing I'm thankful for -- the readers of this blog! I hope you enjoyed reading this (and continue to enjoy reading it!) as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Elusive Windshield Scraper

I actually love this time of the year. The leaves change colors, decorating the world in brilliant yellows, reds and oranges. The air becomes cooler and crisper. And windshield scrapers go into hiding as car windshields begin frosting over. Ultimately, the impatient car owner must turn to more creative means to clear the vehicle's viewing screen. I've discovered that cd cases work pretty well.

Three years ago, it was The B-52's "Cosmic Thing." I made excellent use of that pearl case. It held up the entire winter season. Then, last year, it was John Prine's "Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings." It should have been Mixed Dogs and Lost Blessings for all the good it did me. I still have the cd case. I'm not sure why I kept the bits and pieces of plastic that fall apart when you open it, but I did.

I have many, many Beatles cd's and, therefore, the numerous cases that go with them. However, The Beatles have a special place in my heart and I've still not forgiven myself for using "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" one time when I was in dire need of scraping my windshield and I had, once again, lost my roaming window scraper.

I have one in my Volvo currently. At least, I think I have one in my car. I should probably go check. Anyway, it's a fancy one with a long handle and the little bristles for cleaning off soft debris from the vehicle. I earnestly await the day that soft debris rains upon my car and I can use the bristles for just that purpose.

I start each fall with a window scraper in my vehicle. I had one in my VW Dasher, my truck (second truck, since the first had a broken plastic trowel I called a scraper), one in my Land Rover, in my Beetle, my Cabrio, my other Volvo (wait, both my other Volvos!) and one in my Scirocco. Yet, by the time the first frost comes, that tricky little device is no where to be seen!

So I'll spend all winter looking in the glove compartment, under the seats, all the floorboards and in the spare wheel well. During that time, I will utilize a cd case to clean my windshield. If I'm lucky, the case will last long enough until I find the scraper, or until spring comes. Those two events, unfortunately usually occur at the same time.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Welcome to Doggy Daycare

I have neglected my poor blog site and my awesome fans! In the frenzy of rehearsals for the upcoming play, "Miracle on 34th Street," I have nearly forgotten to offer any literary tidbits or philosophical conundrums, or even any just plain funny non-sensicals about my dogs!

And, speaking of my dogs, the dog count has risen. It seems we have become the doggy daycare for our family. Kay, my sister-in-law, has brought her dog to stay with us while she goes... She is going... Well, someplace out of town that won't allow her to bring her dog, Bear, along. We now have Ace, Lilly, Bob Barker and Bear.

I'm not sure what kind of dog Bear is. I do know that Bear is not a fuzzy, black dog. He is more of a gray, somewhat fluffy dog with a severe underbite that makes you think he's part piranha. His fur is curly, like a poodle. He's got a whispy tail, like a schnauzer. He's got a toy terrier-like face and sometimes smells like a month old coffee cup that hasn't been cleaned. And his body seems to secrete some odd protective oil that gets on everything.

I once asked Kay what kind of dog Bear is. "Your guess is as good as mine," was her simple answer. Despite all this, he's actually an adorable, cute little dog. Somehow, Bear manages to make all this work for him. We haven't yet had him a full day and, already, he's getting along with the psychotic, fuzzy, black quadrupeds I call my pets. Let's hope it stays that way.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What Is Weird?

Due to some of the comments I recieved from my previous post, "May the Force be With You," I realized that many of the people who read this bastion of fine literature may not understand me quite as well as my family. Personally, I prefer to use the term 'eccentric' to describe myself. Unfortunately, my own adage negates that fact and brings me down to just plain weird. My adage? It is as follows:

"The only thing that seperates the eccentric from the weird is about a million dollars."

Regardless, it's time for me to coin a new term for someone who is delightfully different from what is considered to be the societal norm.

Be that as it may, my original plan of attack on the Star Wars novels was to read them all, starting with the first one on the SW timeline. When I started, that would be the "Darth Bane" series which occurred more than a millennia bby (before the Battle of Yavin). I think I got to around 800 aby (you got it -- after the Battle of Yavin) when I got frustrated and began skipping around the timeline. When I read about a one-armed Wampa trying to get even with Luke Skywalker on the ice planet Hoth, I knew I was reaching the end of my metaphorical SW rope.

I will be continuing my research of what is considered weird and what is considered downright bizarre. For example, is it so weird to always eat M&M candies in order of color, always ending with the green ones? Is it so weird to have your unread books lined up in order of how you plan to read them? Is it so weird to arrange the dishes and the glasses in the cabinet so they are either symmetrical or in order from the largest to the smallest?

While these are merely examples I came up with, I will delve further into this matter for the sake of my readers. Once completed, I plan to publish the results of my research here to enlighten and possibly entertain my loyal readers.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

May the Force be With You

I like to challenge myself with my reading sometimes. Right now, I'm reading -- albeit, very slowly -- a three series (books), post-modern novel that my Father-in-law gave me for a special occasion. While I won't tell you when I started the story, I will tell you that I am currently 50 pages into the first book. Wow! Only approximately 2.8 more books to go until I finish. I plan to have it read by Christmas. Next Christmas, that is.

Every now and again, though, it's good to just lay back and enjoy a no-brainer and just get lost in the story. I went through a brief period where I did just that. I read nothing but Star Wars novels. I'm pretty certain that phase lasted approximately eight months. According to my wife and teenage son, however, that phase lasted for two very long years.

My original plan was to read ALL the Star Wars novels available, which numbered around 140 books at the time. Unfortunately, more books are being added all the time and that number changed. Also, they seemed to be having a strange effect on me.

According to two family members (since the other three don't speak English), I began to make all sorts of Star Wars metaphors and analogies for random life situations. They said I also began speaking gibberish, or, as my son not-so-quaintly put it, speaking a stupid Star Wars language no one but me understood.

Shortly thereafter, the intervention took place. Drugs, my son and wife told me, are not the answer. Then they explained that drugs can take many forms, such as the form of a Star Wars novel. My current drug, they pointed out, was not only poisoning my mind, but ruining their lives as well.

I won't bore you with the rest of that event except to say that they are sometimes prone to exaggeration. I have since moved on, though, and have finished nearly every Preston & Childs book available, except two. I plan to get those very soon.

Until I do, may the force be with you all.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Brief Moment with Bob

[loosely translated from the newest fuzzy, black dog:]
Hello. My name is Bob. I'm a really cool, black spaniel. I have three people who live with me. And two other dogs. I don't know what they are, but they sure do bark a lot. Life here... Hey! A squirrel!

What was I saying? Anyway, we each have our job to do. Mine seems to be to clean the house. I take it seriously and have eaten lots of things. Some of them might not have been food. But they tasted good. I used to lick the tallest human -- Phillip, I think -- to wake him up. He got a real bad attitude and I stopped that. I still lick him to tell him to feed me. Sometimes he... That squirrel again! Woof!

Ummm. These people are crazy. The other dogs don't do anything. Me? I protect the house. I sleep by the door. That way, nobody can open it and come in. Also, if things get too crazy, I can make a quick getaway. I also sleep there because it hasn't been taken. Ace gets Phillip's lap. Lilly takes the high spots. I think she's half cat. Grrrr. That leaves me the doorways. The mailman!

Sorry! False alarm. It was one of the big, brown trucks. Lilly and Ace barked really hard and I thought it was the mailman. Phillip says I have ADD. He says life distracts me. I say there's simply too much neat stuff out there. Like that squirrel. And that black and white cat. And that pizza box right there. And that... Smell? Do I smell bacon? And that pizza box. I don't think that was there before. I'm hungry. Do I smell pizza in it? And the mailman. And... I'll just take a little look in that box...

Dog poo to your writer's block. You yelled at me. I won't help you any more. I'll be laying by the door when you want to scratch my belly and apologize. And I WON'T forget... The mailman!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Spaniels... Little Monsters in Training

It seems I have made a mistake. If you've read any of the previous posts on my blog, you would think I "saved" an innocent, cute, stray spaniel -- aka, fuzzy, black dog number three -- running loose in the wild. Not so. To the contrary, it seems I have acquired a four-legged monster. Bob is not really a dog. Instead, he is a fuzzy, black chipper and shredder that eats anything and everything he can get into his mouth. Perhaps he's part goat.

He was so meek and mild when he first came into the house. We had to be extra careful around him since fast movements and loud noises seemed to make him skittish. They still do, but he seems to be learning to adjust to sudden outbursts of "where's my sandwich" and "who ate the remote control??!!" He often finds and greets me with his trademark cute smile and eyebrows that alternately rise and fall.

He's learned to scour the house for anything left behind by my son. To date, he's eaten four boxes of cereal that haven't been returned to the proper cereal holding spot. He started into a plate of spaghetti on the dining room table once. He managed to acquire a sandwich from my hand once. I caught Bob trying to steal a raw steak on the counter that was to be grilled. Luckily, I managed to head that one off at the pass.

First it was just food. Then he began to show his true colors one day when I discovered only two small pieces of the remote control. To this day, we still haven't found the rest of that device.

Since then, Bob has expanded into other non-edible items. Here is but a brief list of items that have either disappeared or shown up in pieces: a school bag handle, the side of that same school bag two weeks after being fixed, a box of Gas-Ex, two lunchboxes, numerous plastic pens and mechanical pencils and  markers, one of my good cooking spoons and a long black string or shoelace. Please, don't ask how I know about the string...

There was one attempt on a cell phone, but my son managed to save it before any damage occurred!

I've asked the local pet supply store if they carry titanium muzzles for dogs. He laughed at me. I explained that anything less would be chewed through faster than a Ferrari on the Autobahn.

In the meantime, I'm performing searches on the internet for honest-to-goodness monster tamers. If anyone knows of any, please pass their name and number along before my computer gets

Friday, October 7, 2011

Perfect Dad Status Attained?

I have a confession to make. And I figure, what better place to make such a profound, disturbing confession that may rock the beliefs and foundations of my friends and family that know me best than here on my very own medium, Fuzzy, Black Dogs. What is this mind-blowing confession, you might ask. It is simply this: I have not always been the picture perfect Dad everyone, my son included, thinks I am.

Before I got married and, especially, before I had a child, I used to be a heavy sleeper. Barking dogs? No problem. Snoring wife? No problem. Traffic coming up and down the street? No problem. Thirty pounds of explosives going off within 500 yards of my house? Get real... No problem.

When we first brought our son home from the hospital, again, no problem. He began crying that first night and I slept like a baby. Most of this is my wife's story because, the truth is, I simply don't remember most of it. But I've heard it so many times that I know it by heart.

"Phillip,wake up," she said. "The baby's crying."

"Mmm-hmm," I responded. "Thas great. Lurv you tooo... Zzzz."

"Honey, wake up," she said firmly. "The baby. It's crying."

According to her story, this is the point where I got up and began wandering around the bedroom like a moron taking a nice stroll on a sunny day.

"The," she said loudly. "Baby. Is. Crying."

That's when she said I moved into action. I started by opening the closet door. Then I opened each drawer in her bureau, after which I moved to mine, opening each drawer from top to bottom. I looked under the bed. I looked under her makeup table. Then I moved Allie, our collie, rolling her over and looking under her.

"BABY," she screamed. "NURSERY!"

I actually remember that. I believe I responded with an "of course," and off I went to the nursery to get the crying baby. I picked up our fussy little child and consoled him. I gave my wife a big grin to show her I was on top of things and the baby was in good hands. I was sent immediately to warm up a bottle.

Since then I have slowly evolved into what can only be described as the perfect Dad and Husband. At the slightest whisper of "Dad?" at three in the morning, my eyes pop open and my brain is instantly awake. No caffeine necessary.

On a side note, my wife and son won't agree with my perfect status. The only reason they don't, though, is because they just don't want me getting a big head over it.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

World History, Rewritten

History was never my strongest subject in high school. When test time came around, I prayed for essay questions, instead of multiple choice or true or false questions. Somehow, I figured out that with my writing skills, I could reword the sentence and embellish it to the point that it seemed as if I had answered the question clearly and concisely.

While this method generally worked well for me, I do not condone it, nor do I suggest any of my young readers try it. My suggestion to you would be, simply put, to study. If you know the information, then you don't have to try and fake it. I'm pretty certain that is true, or my parents wouldn't have repeated it to me numerous times throughout my youth.

I have managed to gain a better understanding of history as I've aged. That fact is partly because I enjoy reading so much. It's also partly -- mostly -- because I have a smart son who educates me on history and corrects my occasional misinterpretation of what has been.

Regardless of my knowledge of history, I recently overheard an exchange between a ninth grader and a curious first grader. While I may not be certain of the small nuances and facts, I believe that the overall lesson may not be entirely accurate...

"What is nuclear energy," the first-grader asked.

"Well," said the ninth-grader. "Nuclear energy is what's inside of a nuclear bomb. And if you were to shake it, it would explode."

The littler one asked why. The older one proceeded to tell him about the history of the atomic bomb.

"During World War I," the ninth-grader said, "China bombed America and America got so mad that they created an atomic bomb. Three of them actually. The biggest landed in Nah-gah-yahtzee. And after World War I ended, we all agreed to never ever, ever use nuclear energy again."

The first-grader took the information in stride. Off he ran with his newfound knowledge. I turned to the ninth-grader and asked her what she was learning in school these days. She informed me that she had a stupid history teacher who let's her get away with anything. Oh, and the tests are too easy.

I've got my fingers crossed that she'll get some extra history lessons before the SAT's roll around.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Newfound Talents Will Come to Good Use

You saw him in "Joseph" at High Point Friends as Potiphar, the rich man with no sense of rhythm. Then you saw him at High Point Theatre in "Seussical: The Musical," where he nearly squashed a Who girl during the opening dance number. Then you saw him as Benny in "I'm Getting Murdered in the Morning," a role nearly tailor-made for this up and coming star. And now, High Point is in for a treat with "Miracle on 34th Street, the Musical" coming to High Point Theatre and starring yours truly, Phillip Haworth!

But please don't be confused. Though I may not have the leading role in the play, I will still have the starring role. If you're still confused, this is along the same lines as the old adage, 'there are no small parts, only small actors.' Or, as I like to say, it's all a state of mind. My family, however, likes to put it into a different perspective by telling me it's all in my mind. Same thing.

Be that as it may, I think I've done pretty well with the stage productions that I've been a part of. I consider "Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" my first actual production since I don't recall doing any 'stage' acting prior to 34 years of age. My stage wife in "Joseph," who was really a 14 year-old, had to pull me away from the set to teach me our dance. Come opening night, I was a little nervous, off-rhythm and shaky, but I did not step on her toes!

I did a couple of other church plays before I moved on to "Seussical: The Musical." This time it was my son's friend Ann who worked with me my on my dancing routine. It seems she felt as if I needed some polishing and improving.

"If you step on my foot one more time, Mr. Phillip," she said, "I am going to have to kill you!"

From that moment forward, I think I got a little lighter on my toes. Surely the great citizens of High Point noticed the dignified, graceful agility of that one particularly funny looking, largish sized Who. I hope to put my newfound talents to good use in the upcoming performance of "Miracle on 34th Street, the Musical."

Notice I refrained from commenting on the eloquence that was my performance in "I'm Getting Murdered in the Morning." I'll let two comments from the audience speak for that particular performance.

"Wow," said one. "You were truly a convincing redneck!"

"That performance and especially that mullet," said the other. "Wow!"

Friday, September 16, 2011

Shooting Ducks

Once upon a time, there were three ducks. Their names were Bubba duck, Sawbuck duck and Two-Buck duck. One day the three ducks were busy flapping their wings and heading south for the winter.

"Hey, Bubba duck," said Sawbuck duck. "We're in luck. Farmer Nucknuk hasn't gathered his corn. Remember, we've sworn to warn each other when food is found."

So the three ducks struck out and headed for the field. They ate and they ate until they could eat no more. The three ducks nearly nodded off and were about to snore when a man bore upon them.

"I want to shoot you," said the man. "That is my plan. What luck! Now I can pluck three ducks!"

"You don't want to shoot me," said Bubba duck. "I have an infection in my knee, as you can plainly see. I'm too large and untasty. So please don't waste me!"

With that, Bubba duck spread his wings and took off. Sawbuck duck and Two-Buck duck stared at Bubba duck, feeling like their luck had just run out. They stood, stuck in their tracks. The man with the plan slowly pulled out a camera. He started to shoot as his feet shuffled in his boots.

Sawbuck duck went into action and struck a pose. He stuck his wings up and pointed his toes. He ruffled his feathers and angled his nose. He blurred every picture with each cheap, silly pose. The man with the plan simply turned away and ran, leaving that lame duck stuck in the last pose he struck.

Moral: Never go with a Sawbuck duck when a Two-Buck duck will do -- or -- just because something rhymes, doesn't mean it's good!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Kicking the VW Habit

I've decided to follow the model that one hears about in organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous. As best I've ascertained, the idea is to admit you have a problem first. That way, you can face it head on and attempt to tackle it and bring it under control. I'm adopting my own simplified, and possibly skewed, version to tackle my own problem. Hi. My name is Phillip. And I'm a car-aholic.

My good friend Al, who I like to play golf with sometimes, came over for dinner Friday night. During the evening, he mentioned a convertible VW Beetle that he knew of for sale. Then he went straight for my biggest weakness and mentioned that he knew about a Karmen Ghia that was for sale, too.

My heart raced momentarily. My disease took control of my brain and offered three immediate financial solutions -- bank robbery, a job offer with a six figure income or a stroke of lottery luck. Solution one required too much planning and a slim chance of long-range success. Solution two means I'd have to quit my current job, which simply won't happen. And solution three... Unfortunately, you have to have money to buy that winning ticket. And on a last note, I've given up Volkswagens.

"Sorry Al," I said. "You know I've given up VW's. They're bad for me."
"But you're thinking about it," he pressed. "You're interested."

Well, of course I was interested! But I'm sticking with my guns and I've given up the VW's because I've owned several, but they haven't been kind to me. Now I'm thinking about convertible Ford Fairlanes. I could fix one of those. My wife got me thinking about fixing up an old Ford truck. That could be fun. I love trucks. I've also carried on a mental love affair with BMW's. Specifically, I'd like to get my hands on an old BMW 2002.

Luckily, neither my wife nor my son desire to be destitute with a fleet of broken down cars littering the back yard with a crazy old man puttering around them and muttering what needs to be done to each. I suppose they are referring to me as the crazy old man. Nah...  Probably not.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Church Signs I Have Read

I'm a voracious reader. I read novels, cereal boxes, pamphlets, owner's manuals, product descriptions and street signs. One of my favorite things to read is church signs. Church signs are the most fun. They always have the most interesting messages. "God Loves Americans" is a church sign I mentioned in a previous blog. Read into THAT what you will.

The coast is always a fun place to read church signs. One of my favorite signs ever was at a little church on NC Highway 70 that read "If you eat the devil's corn, he'll choke the grits out of you!" I still ponder over that one from time to time. I hope to understand that one day. That exact same church ran this one several years later during a scorching drought: "You think this is hot?"

My wife and son were in the car with me when we ran into this sign, luckily not literally. The church itself was located on a tight curve somewhere in the mountains of North Carolina. It said, "Come on in Sundays if you want to know Jesus. Text and drive if you want to meet him."

"The devil called. He wants his weather back" was on a Lexington church sign recently, referencing the current warm weather trend. I'm not sure when or where I read this last one, but it seemed to speak to me. It read "Don't give up! Moses was once a basket case!"

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Another Desperate Attempt at Coolness

Hands up, everyone! I'm passing out imaginary high fives to all of you in the wake of my most recent "cool" accomplishment. Pardon my lack of modesty, but I still have what it takes at 43 years old to make it to the top of a 55 foot vertical ascent. Don't let the fact that it was a fabricated rock wall fool you. It was a difficult climb. There were several children, whose ages I won't disclose here, who simply didn't make it.

As I reached the bottom, I noticed I had my 13-year-old son's rapt attention. I imagine it was probably pretty special for him to see his dear old dad tackling such an insurmountable task. I gave him my most charming smile, trying hard not to gasp and wheeze.

"What'd you think of that, buddy," I said, seeing the admiration, adoration and wonderment in my child's eyes.

"Umm," he said. "Good job, Dad. You just barely managed to beat that seven-year-old to the top of the wall. How much of a head start did you have on her, anyway?"

I turned to one of my son's best friends, Ann. Surely I would get some encouragement and positive feedback from her. I suspect she admires me and looks up to me as a role model.

"Really, Mr. Phillip," she said. "I'm impressed you made it to the top. But if you're just trying to be cool again, you kinda fell short when you landed on your butt instead of your feet. Yes, I did see that!"

Wow, these kids are tough. Maybe I'll have to get back into shape and tackle a real rock climb that exceeds 55 feet like I did when I was a teenager. Certainly I could reclaim my original air of "coolness" that way. I'll start a strict dieting and training regimen tomorrow. Now if I can just find a sticky note to help me remember that...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Growing Old Is Mandatory, Growing Up Is Optional

Generally speaking, one just doesn't reach the age of 43 without learning a few tricks along the way. During the first 43 year journey of my life, I have collected a few sayings of my own. You know, my own original pearls of wisdom, or tidbits of knowledge of which I will pass along to my 13 year old son to make growing up a little easier for him.

Here's a (very) small sampling of what I've come up with so far:

Never lick a flaming marshmalllow unless you want a burnt tongue.

Life is like a cow pasture. You never know what you're going to step in.

Life is like a box of chocolates... I know. You've heard this one. I said it before Forrest Gump did. I think.

The worms of life are merely bait for tomorrow's fish.

A trout in the stream is inevitable. A trout on the hook is divine. A trout in a picture with you is proof.

If life gives you a cold, wet nose and slobbery tongue, then wake your owner in time for work.

And two of my favorites:

The early nerd gets the virus.

Happiness is a fuzzy dog.

I could put my whole list into a book. It could be a best seller. Or I could just do myself a favor and follow my 13 year old son around and write down everything he says. Don't let his age fool you. He comes up with sayings that nearly equal my own -- and sometimes exceed them!

"Growing old is mandatory," he said, during dinner conversation tonight. "Growing up is optional."

I particularly liked it, though I'm still pondering what or who inspired it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

With Perfect Direction Sense, a GPS Is Just an Extra

My GPS gave me quite a scare today. I glanced at it and saw the words "GPS is lost." Granted, I was only in Greensboro and I had only made one incorrect turn, but that is NOT what I want to see on my little windshield mounted lifeline.

Don't get me wrong. I have an excellent sense of direction. Once, when I was about 19 years old, I got to Myrtle Beach, SC, simply by heading east and utilizing my memory. And, yes, I was by myself. I still enjoy reminiscing over that trip. I love long car rides!

I even drove to North Carolina Outward Bound base camp in the mountains by memory. I did that approximately five years after my own Outward Bound excursion that I participated in. To this day, I'm still not sure what inspired that trip, but, man was I glad when I finally discovered the entrance to that place.

Now when I leave the house, my wife and my teenager will ask, "Did you get the GPS?" Even my mother and father-in-law, who both understand me too well, will ask if I've got the little device.

"We don't want another mishap like that job interview you went on, do we," Ginga said. No, we don't!

Regardless, the little screen sent my gizzards swimming through my lungs as my brain nose-dived into my stomach. I pulled over into a parking lot and re-read it.

"... GPS has lost the signal currently. Please wait a moment..." is what it really said. And then, poof, my little cartoon car popped back up with the little red line telling me to turn around the next chance I got. Like I said, I wasn't really that worried. It's not like I couldn't have wandered my way home from Greensboro. Eventually.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's the Sweet Things...

Some people say it's the simple things in life that matter most. What they really mean is that it's the sweet things in life that matter the most

My wife tested me this weekend. At least, I think it was a test. As we drove through Lexington, NC, she asked me to stop at The Candy Factory on North Main Street. Having never been there before, and having the word "candy" in the name, I was already intrigued.

"Just get me some popcorn to munch on," she said. "And get a little something for yourself, if you'd like."

Now, of course, since I have a kid, I've been to quite a few candy stores. Some, in fact, have been large and impressive. As I got out of the car, I was certain this would be pleasant, but not comparable to some of the candy stores I have visited.

At the time, I thought I walked into the front door of the business. Hindsight showed me, however, that I had walked through a portal into another realm. The scent of sweets assaulted my nose. Elated chatter and creaking wood boards harmonized and swam around the room. Colors and shapes popped from every direction as a happy, warmth enveloped and welcomed me. Soft, smooth chocolate tantalized my tongue without my having to eat anything.

I floated through The Candy Factory, taking a sampling of this and a little bit of that. I pondered getting a second basket or just rearranging the one I had to make room for more. At 43 years old, I was the proverbial kid. You know, the kid in the candy store. Except I was the kid in the candy store with a credit card and full license to use it. And, luckily, I did remember to get my wife's popcorn.

I'm not sure, but I think I failed the test. Her eyes bugged out as I approached the car with a bag bulging with all sorts of goodies. I disarmed her with my most charming smile.

"Look honey," I said, getting in the car some time later. "I found your popcorn!"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

News Flash: Fuzzy Dogs Have Exceeded Humans

It's official. The fuzzy dog count has officially exceeded the human count in my little household. And not only has it been exceeded, but the fuzzy dog count has doubled the number of humans. Now, having said that, I suppose I can't really call this household little! However, please notice I didn't say fuzzy, black dog count. And, secondly, the dogs being double the number of humans is simply a technicality. And thirdly (and lastly!), but not least, the current situation is only a temporary measure!

We have now taken on a pomeranian puppy. Those of you who know much about dogs probably know that pomeranians typically aren't black, and this one is no exception. Any sane person reading this may probably be asking, "why in the world would you want to torture yourself by taking on another dog?" The simple answer -- we traded.

My mother-in-law actually owns the dog. So my wife and I decided that our son might be an even trade for the dog. Grandparents take the grandkids to the beach for a week and I take a newly minted pomeranian for a week. I'm beginning to suspect she got the better end of the trade. I think my son may actually be better trained than the pup. The trade also explains the doubling situation since I lost a kid and gained a pup. Let's see, that makes the dog to human ratio four to two.

When Ginga (as the grandkids call her) comes back, voila, we simply trade back. The dog count drops back to three and the human count increases to three. Life goes back to normal, or what we consider normal in our happy little home.

Interestingly enough, Ginga asked me to try to train the pom. What a deal -- I train her dog while she trains the grandkids to fan her and fetch pina coladas while she relaxes on the beach. But I digress. We had a breakthrough when the dog peed on my foot today! Yep, I think she's definitely warming up to me.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Kite-Surfing Is Fun, but Hard on the Back

I woke up yesterday in pain. Severe pain, in fact. It seemed to start right between my shoulder blades and shot straight down to the small of my back. Throughout the day, I made enough noise about it to elicit comments of concern from my son. He was very sweet, saying things like "Don't worry, Dad, I'll take care of your camera when you're gone," and "Mom and I will sure miss your cooking."

Before I even got out of bed, though, I had to figure out what happened. My first thought was that I had overslept. Sometimes when I sleep more than eight hours, my back will get extremely stiff. But that usually only affects my lower back and not the upper part. Then I remembered my dream.

I had the most amazing dream that I was kite-surfing! The wind filled my kite-sail and sent me skimming over the surface of an indoor ocean (I know, go figure on that one). Normally my back can't handle strain like that and I remember, in my dream, thinking, "wow, this isn't hurting my back at all!" Each time I stopped or fell, I laughed it off. My back was strong as ever! I could do this! I told my wife all about my amazing dream. Then I told her of my aching back. So realistic!

Thank God I married a smart woman and have an extremely smart child. They tend to keep me grounded. My wonderful wife woke up and looked at me for a few moments. No doubt she was weighing my words carefully, mulling over the meaning of them. After a bit, she spoke.

"Your back hurts because you've been painting the graveyard fence with your mother," she told me. "You've probably been stooped over painting the bottom section and now your back is hurting. Take some ibuprofen and call me in the morning. Tomorrow morning."

Somehow, I had forgotten all about that. I thought about it for a few moments. I balked at her silliness and vowed to try not to dream of kite-surfing again in the future. It sure hurts.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rusty Pipe Replacement in Eight Easy Steps

Only the foolhardy or the brave attempt their own plumbing. I firmly fit into the foolhardy category. However, having successfully completed my own plumbing project, I feel imminently qualified to tell everyone else a step-by-step process for switching rusting, cast iron pipes for PVC pipes.

The first step is to ponder the problem. Don't look at the pipes. Don't read any DIY material. Simply ponder it. The second step is to run cold water. Then run the hot water. If you're lucky, the pipe fairies have flown through and declogged it for you. Step three involves testing every flashlight you own to find a single working one. Once an adequate -- and working one -- has been found, you analyze the pipes in question.

I'm guessing that my house had been modified or added on to four or five times before my family acquired it. Originally, it was what you called a "shotgun" house. (I still refer to it as a "shotgun" house, but for different reasons!) Consequently, the pipes under the house look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. To analyze my pipes, I had to crawl through a veritable maze of tubes, pipes, duct work, dirt and spider's homes to find the offending pipe.

For the fourth step, get out pen/pencil and paper and sketch out the problem. Once sketched, turn the paper in every conceivable direction. It looks smart and makes your spouse think you're being productive. Step five consists of visiting your brother-in-law for a saw, a neighbor for pipe prep and cement, the hardware store for supplies and the library for a book on how to replace rusted pipes. For step six, line up all tools and equipment for a visual inspection of all items necessary. Be sure the saw is charged and the tools are in order from smallest to largest and have a nice shine. Step seven will have you meditating and mentally prepping yourself for the task ahead.

Step eight is the most crucial. It involves a brutally honest spouse telling you to quit piddling and get on it! That's when you get your butt under the house for several hours and fix the pipe, only to discover that there was a massive clog in the wall pipes behind the sink which will only take 45 minutes at most to clear. And, voila! You've fixed your pipes.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dog Training and Trick Stage Has Been Reached

It hasn't been quite a month since our newest acquisition of fuzzy, black dog number three. But, in the short time Bob Barker has been with us, the four-legged contingency in our humble abode seems to be adapting quite well. In fact, Bob is taking to training very well.

Lilly has taught Bob that if he flops over on his side when I try to get him, he's much harder to pick up. Ace has successfully shown him that my lap is an open invitation any time he wants attention. Bob has even tapped into his genetic pool bag of tricks by staring at me with those doleful, brown, spaniel eyes. Bob's even trained my son. When I get those looks, my son -- the voice of oppressed pets everywhere, will chime in with "don't you wuv me Phiwup? I wouldn't have to stawe at ya like dis if ya'd onwy feed me more often." I'd like to see Victoria Stillwell or Cesar Milan against the indomitable duo that is my son and his dog.

Don't get me wrong, though. Bob Barker is not stupid. He's learned some other interesting tricks as well. As a howler, he can harmonize with either Ace's or Lilly's barking. Soon, he'll have all three of them harmonizing together. Bob's also learned how to use the bathroom in the yard, as opposed to the kitchen, or bathroom, or living room, or... You know. He learned that if he spreads his legs apart, he's a lot harder to get into his kennel at night.

Best, or worst of all, he seems to have figured me out some. When my wife and son aren't around, Bob will sit a short distance away and watch me. Then he'll creep really slowly up to me (as if stalking prey?). He'll keep his eyes on me and we'll watch each other. Then Bob will put his head on my leg and give me that doleful look. How can I not scratch him behind the ears when he acts and looks so cute at me like that?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fuzzy Black Dogs Take Over

Don't let the cuteness fool you...

The fuzzy, black dog count in my little house has grown. In addition to Ace (the Jack Russell, schnauzer and poodle mix on the left at top) and Lilly (the schnauzer, yorkie mix which people like to shorten to schnorkie--on the right at top), we now have Bob, who for all practical appearances seems to be an American Water Spaniel. Unfortunately, Bob (who has really been named Bob Barker) seems to have created friction in out little household as to how we should proceed.

A friend of mine found him and another spaniel running around by the side of a road. Neither dog had a collar, so she did what she always does. Having an overly large heart and a soft spot for stray dogs, she managed to subdue the dogs and bring them home. She is currently trying to find a good home for only one dog. And therein lies the problem.

My theory contends that Bob was abused. His behavior seems to verify this theory. My theory also states that we, my family, are but a mere halfway house -- half way between a rough, rotten life and a new happy one with a family to love him. My solution is simply to find a happy home for the adorable little pup.

My son also has a theory. His theory states that when the dogs outnumber the family members, then we have a serious problem. Unfortunately, according to his theory, we don't have a problem yet since Bob puts the number of animals even with the number of humans. If you've ever tried reasoning with a teenager, you'll find it's easier to hit your head against a wall.

My wife has developed her own theory which can be summed up in four simple words -- &%*! out of luck! She says that we are just fuzzy, black dog magnets. She's also noted that our teenager and Bob have, in less than 24 hours, become inseperable. And it's becoming obvious when they have been seperated as a low, mournful howl begins echoing through the house...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

One Turkey Sandwich, Please, But Hold the Glove

Accidents and mishaps just happen to me. It's not through any fault of my own, though. I'm not clumsy and I certainly don't go looking for trouble, though I did when I was much younger. Trouble is like a long, lost puppy dog that follows me around and appears when I least expect it.

Not too long ago, I ordered a Sierra Turkey at a popular sandwich franchise. I got more than I bargained for -- a Sierra Turkey & Preparation Glove Sandwich. The employees were super nice and got me a new sandwich, sans glove. At a biscuit franchise drive through, my wife and I got sweet teas. The only difference between them was that mine had a soft drink nozzle and soap in it. And then there was the killer food processor. Nine stitches and one reattached finger later, I still use kitchen knives for all my cooking needs.

Nothing, however, compared with the half of the modular home being transported that hit me. It was not long after I got married and just got a new job when it happened.

I sang The Clash songs as I blissfully drove myself to work in my truck. I was on that section of Hwy 220 in Greensboro with all the concrete bridges that stretch over the highway. To this day, I've put off the philosophical question of whether the house half that hit me was too tall, or the bridge it was being driven under was too short. Whichever it was, the two collided.

While I didn't see the actual collision, I did happen to see the effects it caused. I was right beside the house half and witnessed about 10 feet of the main beam land on my windshield. In slow motion, it bounced off my windshield and snapped the sideview mirror off the truck. I glanced in the rearview mirror to track its continual slow motion bouncing along the highway. I really freaked out when it started snowing. It seemed to take my brain hours to register that it was August and that the "snow" was insulation pouring out of the walls of the house half.

Now I'm taking these law classes at Guilford College. The classes are very informative and I'm learning a lot. Mostly, I'm learning that had I been smarter in the past, I could be a very rich person by now.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Serious Side Emerges, But Only Momentarily

Contrary to popular belief, I do have a serious side. It comes out from time to time. Sometimes it even comes out in my writing. In fact, about this time 16 years ago, I wrote a poem for my best friend and girlfriend, who, not coincidentally, was also my fiancee. It was supposed to have been a Valentine's Day gift, but it took longer than I expected to iron the kinks out, so to speak.

It was a Shakespearean-style sonnet, adhering tightly to the rhyme scheme and theme of Shakespeare's impressive collection of love sonnets. I ended up giving it to her closer to our wedding date, which, luckily enough, was early enough for my wife-to-be to request it be put on the back of our wedding program.

God has a sense of humor. Sometimes you have to look for it and sometimes it's obvious. It was obvious to me when, at some point during the day of my wedding, one of my cousins sought me out.
"Phillip," he said, holding the program, "where did you get this poem?"
"Me," was my only answer.
"No," he continued. "I mean, what poet wrote it? Where did you get it?"
"Me," I said again. "I wrote it."
I got no further comments from him. He just looked at me a moment and then turned and walked off. I still smile when I think about it since I don't think he believed me. But I am flattered that he thought some great poet wrote it. Me.

I meant to post it for my wife for Valentine's Day (yesterday!!). However, life got in the way and kept me busy. Luckily, I haven't forgotten, so here it is. I love you honey. Happy Valentine's Day.

In Autumn days the wind grows strong
And the earth gets hard and cold,
The springtime warmth will thaw the throngs
Of flowers so bright and bold;
What chance does that which lives
Against such changing weather
Its life it ultimately gives
For nothing will go on forever.
But if your warmth and your love
Were to crush beneath such a pressure
My life would surely go on, but above
And beyond any earthly pleasure.
Your personal changes will always affect me,
But your love is my sole stability.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Battle of Yorktown, Revisited

My son and I sometimes have interesting bouts of "what ifs." Most of the time they are funny and they are always interesting. This one, in particular, is one of my favorites. What if they had cell phones right at the end of the Revolutionary War? While I added a bit, this is the text conversation we came up with:
The date is 1781...
LCCORN: OMG! We lost!
KGIII: wat's omg. wht havew e lost.? Whhois ths?
LCCORN: Lord Charles Cornwallis. The commander of your forces, King George.
KGIII: Ths isnot a fnny jok e.
LCCORN: No joke, sire. Please give the phone to that 15yo errand boy, my king.
KGIII: Where are you exactly?
LCCORN: That's better. Yorktown, Virgina, my king.
KGIII: Where?! And where's that rescue fleet? Should be there any moment.
LCCORN: The colonies, sire. The French drove them off.
KGIII: The French? Against the English Navy? We will address your humor upon your return, lccorn!
KGIII: Sit tight. The French. Hah. My navy will be right there.
LCCORN: We're surrounded, sire. We're trapped. It is over.
KGIII: Pishposh! Let me talk to General Howe.
LCCORN: Quit. 3 years ago. Remember?
KGIII: How about General Clinton?!
LCCORN: He's in New York, my king.
KGIII: Where?!
LCCORN: Up north, far away from me, sire.
KGIII: Sit tight, you wimp. Trapped by a ragtag army! Hah!
KGIII: Getting text from navy now. Stay in touch.
RYLNAVY: My king. We're back in New York. The French. I can explain...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl Turns Out to be a Battle of Sorts

Another Super Bowl has come and gone. Given these confusing times, it might be necessary to give an honest recap of the entire fracas. Otherwise, there may be many people who don't understand what really happened on the evening of Sunday, February 6.

Two rivaling factions came together on a really large grassy field located in Dallas, Texas. It's unknown what the two factions were fighting over, exactly. However, they attempted to settle it by throwing balls and by slamming into each other repeatedly. Ironically, the whole soiree started out peacefully enough with a gentleman in a striped prison outfit throwing coins. Only the most civil members of each group were allowed to attend this. Due to the television volume, or the lack thereof, the coin toss determined that there would be a battle of sorts.

The thieves of Pittsburgh... Correction -- the steelworkers of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, initially kicked the ball at the packagers of Green Bay, Wisconsin. After the steelworkers kicked the ball, two relatively small groups of each faction ran at each other toward the middle of the large field. During the first half of the fracas, several of the packagers were maimed or injured, or maimed and injured, gave up and simply left thegame. The packagers also caught balls aimed at the steelworkers during the first half. When that happened, confusion reigned on the field and members of both factions would reverse directions and seemed unsure of what to do.

At the conclusion of the first half, a light show ensued. Again, due to the lack of volume, it appeared a group called the Black Eyed Peas was singing up a storm. They certainly blinked up a storm, creating the effect of stunning the packagers from Green Bay, Wisconsin. This was evidenced by the slightly lackluster performance of beating up on the steelworkers from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In the end, the packagers showed what a close-knit group they were by all coming together for a massive group hug. Even some of the injured ones hobbled into the hug. Meanwhile, there was an organized effort to fill the air with millions of little pieces of paper whose purpose was simple; to provide ample cover so the striped prisoners could make their escape. The point to all this? Well, it doesn't seem there was any point to it. But it looked like a good time was had by all.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

NC Father Mourns the Loss of his Dudeness

"The Dudeness." Just what is the dudeness? Where does it come from? How do you define it? How do you determine one's dudeness level and, more importantly, determine if you still have it or not?

It's this writer's understanding that, being born male, I acquired it at birth. My source, otherwise known as my 13 year old son, says all guys are born with it. Then he likened the dudeness to a receding hairline. Some lose it quickly and some lose it in little bits. I glowed proudly, certain that I was brimming with the dudeness from the tips of my toes to the top of my head.

"But you, Dad," he said with grave solemness, "just laid down and gave it up. Kinda sad, Dad. But it's okay. You're still a good dad."

I immediately set out to right what I perceived was a wrong. I've tried to be cool to my son and his friends. I've taken on some hip new words the younger kids use. And I've caught up with my source on his comic book reading to the point where I can discuss the difference between Black, White and Green Lanterns, as well as when the resurrected Black Lanterns all turned White. I beamed with pride as I discussed this with my son, making a plan to buy the next DC Comics Brightest Day issue, just knowing that I had regained some of my dudeness.

"Dad, you can never regain the dudeness," he told me. "And the comics? That simply makes you a nerd. But I'm proud of you for embracing your inner nerd. You've done well."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Weight Loss Continues to Prove Challenging

After my new diet clashed with my new hobby, cooking, I knew I'd have to find a new avenue to lose weight and get into shape. Honestly, starvation simply sucks. So the obvious next solution is to exercise. I've been reviewing my options, but none have proven to be the right solution for me.

Originally, I considered hiring a personal trainer. Before I can do that, I have to clean up my house. You know what that means. The hardwoods have to be dusted and mopped, the surface tops dusted, all Lego's collected and binned and the kitchen... Well, let's not go there. By the time I've eradicated the fuzzy, black dog fur from the steps and folded half the clothes, I've gotten all the exercise I need. So the personal trainer is out.

The workout video route worked well for me once upon a time. Some years ago, as we prepared for the arrival our our son, my wife purchased a workout video for pregnant women. While it may have been geared towards women with baby bumps, I found it quite challenging. The video itself began to grate on my wife's pregnant nerves and it simply disappeared one day.

My wife keeps suggesting simple exercises such as sit ups, push ups and walking Ace and Lilly--the fuzzy, black dogs. But I have much grander ideas. I like exciting exercises. I like exercises such as biking, hiking, jump ropes and roller blading. The back surgeon told me biking was out, so I tried hiking. I donned my backpack with a little added weight, went for one walk and promptly threw my back out. My wife nixed the jump rope for fear I'll throw my back out again. My son put an end to the roller blading by telling his mother how I nearly killed myself, along with three of his friends, at an ice skating party.

Now I'm considering plugging my iPod into my ears and dancing my way to better shape. The only problem with dancing is that I'll have to notify my neighbors. That will be to prevent any 911 calls about "some guy" appearing to be having seizures within his home. Which, of course, leads me back to simple exercises like sit ups, push ups and walking the fuzzy, black dogs. I better get myself some good walking shoes.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Nothing Good Comes From the Side of the Road

My wife has mandated a new driving rule: there is to be absolutely no talk of any road side spectacles. Period. This seems to be a direct response to my habit of noticing animals, either dead or alive, on the sides of the road. A peculiar byproduct of that habit is my seeming inability to not mention what I've seen in exquisite detail to everyone who may have missed it. Either my wife is jealous that she didn't get to see it or she simply wishes to not see or know about it.

And I have seen it all, too. I've seen live coyote, deer, rabbits, hawks, opossum, skunks, raccoon, snakes, squirrel and various dogs and cats. And, sadly enough, I've seen all the above and more squished flat upon the many highways and byways of North Carolina. Even worse are the pieces and parts that remain behind in various states of decomposition. Frightening are those insane people who look hard enough to try to identify the animal from remains at the side of the road.

"Wow, honey! Judging from that back leg and tail, I would guess that that was a raccoon and it was hit by a cement truck driving south, just on top of the yellow line, at nearly 55 miles per hour! Notice how the intesti--OOWW!!"
"Nothing good comes from the side of the road," my wife would respond after a serious left jab to my right shoulder. "If you'd watch the road instead, your family wouldn't be so afraid to ride with you in the car."

Long car rides are really rough on my right shoulder. Regardless, a moratorium has been placed on any audio commentary from the vehicle operator concerning any spectacles from the side of the road. The only exception being signs pointing out food, restrooms or shopping areas. I've been informed that there will be consequences if this rule is broken. I fully intend to break that rule just to test those consequences, but I haven't yet worked up the nerve.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Victimization? Or Simply a Case of Bad Timing?

Two things that simply should never take place at the same time are as follows: start a new healthy diet plan and take up cooking to relieve yourself from the boredom of not having a job.

I've recently started back on my Sugar Busters diet plan, which is kind of a modified Atkins Diet. The plan is to cut out as much sugar from your diet as possible. That includes cutting out those things that break down as sugar in your system like starches and breads.

I've also recently started donning my denim Goddess apron, diving into the kitchen and creating some serious culinary delights. This, it seems, combats the lack of excitement in my day that would normally be created by having a full time job. Unfortunately, I seem to be lacking in that area.

Now it seems the two have collided into the cooking diva's disastrous diet plan. I'm definitely eating better, but I'm eating more of it. Honestly, a lot more! On top of that, I've discovered Southern Living's Comfort Foods Cookbook. Now my goal is to start at the beginning and make every single dish in the book.

My chicken tetrazzini came out splendiferous. The meatloaf gonzales and buttermilk mashed potatoes I made tonight set my taste buds atingle! For Christmas I made the hashbrown casserole and macaroni and cheese... Mmmm, heavenly! I always start with good intentions, but I never follow through correctly and embellish each of the recipes to suit myself and my family. So far, I have received no complaints.

And the diet? I lost five bad pounds and gained ten healthy pounds. I'm hoping the healthy pounds will outweigh (no pun intended) the bad pounds and mold me into an image of glowing health. I'm haven't gotten there yet, but I will post another picture of me when I do.

In the meantime, perhaps, I should put leashes on my two fuzzy black dogs. A little bit of walking might just do me some good.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

GSC's Hypnotica Spins Mesmerizing Tapestry

If you plan to watch Greensboro's Natural Science Center's laser light show "Hypnotica," which you should, remember one important detail: bring eyedrops!

Presented by the Natural Science Center's own Mike Singletary, Hypnotica creates an amazing blend of lights which respond to an eclectic blend of techno-pop music. Or it could be that Hypnotica collected an amazing blend of techno-pop music which responds to the brilliant laser light show. Whichever is the case, it works. In fact, it works well enough to spin a mesmerizing tapestry of light and sound upon those willing to come out and see it.

During the show, Hypnotica pays homage to some of the earlier video games. Both Pac-man and the Asteroids blasting space ship make cameo appearances during the display, as well as others some of the older crowd may recognize. Despite these fun bits, the rest of the show is no less fun, integrating the simplistic with the complex and making them dance in time with the beat of the music.

The only drawback to Hypnotica, however, occurred only twice during the show. There were two moments during the show that the music seemed to overpower everything, becoming intensely loud. And, as I mentioned previously, don't forget the eye drops. This reviewer suffered dry eye from lack of blinking. I was afraid if I blinked, I might miss a part of the delicate artistry at work before me.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fuzzy Black Dogs Versus Two Inches of Snow

I have discovered that the fuzzy, black dogs, otherwise known as Ace and Lilly, that I own don't exactly get along with the white precipitation known as snow currently upon the ground. Lilly, the smaller dog, particularly doesn't like the snow. In fact, she doesn't seem to care for anything cold, wet or slimy to touch her paws.

Normal protocol dictates that I let the dogs out the back door and they run down the steps, out into the yard and do numbers one and two. They come back, scratch upon the door and are let back inside. Snow only creates a new wrinkle, or an added difficulty, to the process of relieving bodily functions of four-legged family members.

Upon discovering something unpleasant underfoot for her first excursion to relieve herself, Lilly slowed. I felt like a psychiatrist observing his patient from an unseen location. She took three steps out the door and came to an abrupt halt. Lilly looked back at the door. No human. She looked out into the yard, which was the same color as the back deck -- white. What is an "all mighty princess," as my son calls her, to do? Why, squat and relieve herself three steps from the back door on the snowy deck, of course.

This has caused some consternation since now someone has to chaperone the dogs for their potty excursions. I won't allow my wife to do it since she and slippery surfaces are like mortal enemies. My son always seems to be missing something important, like shoes, when the fuzzy, black dogs are doing the potty dance. Which, of course, leaves me. I herd them to the yard through grunts, yells and wildly gesticulating arms, wearing only pajamas at the worst of times.

I feel certain that most of my neighbors see them and think, "those fuzzy, black dogs are so cute. Too bad their owners aren't a bit more normal..."