fuzzy, black dogs

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

Phillip's Scenic Overlook

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from us and all our fuzzy, black dogs in all their glory!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Special Moments Make Christmas Unforgettable

My son and I decided to start the holidays with a bang. We, meaning he, slammed into the side of a car in the grocery store parking lot.

It's possible that he may have been distracted by the nearly life-sized Santa belted in the back seat. Or it could be the passenger who yelled out, "Hey! Is that your grandmother over there?" In my defense, I was slightly mentally incapacitated from previous events.

You see, I picked up a virus approximately four days prior to Christmas. I had a regular feel-bad check up. I had an x-ray. I had blood work done. I had a nasal swab. I had a shot in the rump for nobody knows what since the barrage of tests showed up nothing.

What I can tell you is that I had an allergic reaction to the steroid shot. In addition to the fatigue and weakness I experienced, I also suffered a little "cognitive impairment," as my son so quaintly put it. Hence, my outburst which distracted my son right into the broadside of another car.

The second bang (BIG bang, as there have been many little ones due to 'cognitive impairment') occurred before Christmas dinner. That was when we decided to take our family photo. 

We forgot the tripod. We didn't bring any extra lighting. We even forgot the camera. Some of us don't like having our pictures taken. Others of us don't have patience. At least one of us suffered psychological imbalance due in no small part to both sickness and being administered the wrong medication for Lord only knows what!

Immediately following the cry, "thank God we have Photoshop," came the sound of soft paws hitting the floor. We also heard the wet thud that followed. It was noted that both sounds came from the kitchen and the dogs had gone quiet. It's amazing how quietly a dog can eat, as long as it's not dog food!

While the self-taken, family fiasco... Photo, I mean, was in progress, two fuzzy quadrupeds (NOT mine, actually!) decided the turkey was fair game.

Here are the offending animals, Roxie and Bear.

Offending dog number one, Roxie.

Offending dog number two, Bear.

Luckily, they are not as quick or sneaky as mine and most of the bird was salvageable.

It has been said it's the little things in life that make it memorable. With my family, Christmas is usually downright unforgettable!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holidays Are About Forgiveness

I've actually had a few first-graders, and even some second-graders, ask me to weigh in on the virtues of Santa Claus. Some believe. Some don't.  Some seem to look at me as an easy target and just ask me.

"I believe in Santa," is my usual response. This is immediately followed with "I don't believe Santa's going to help you with that worksheet/math/writing (or whatever the students are working on) right now. Now get busy." Then I 'get them busy' with what they're supposed to be doing.

Once upon a time, Santa Claus was a sore subject with me. I actually held a grudge against the jolly old elf for a few years.

You see, my early aspirations in life could be considered by some to be unsavory. Little me was certain that when I grew up I would be a thief, an arsonist, a con, a pirate or some type of criminal, albeit an extremely successful and rich one.

The way I saw it, I needed to cover my bases and try out several career paths before determining which would be most successful for me. My sisters encouraged me to move on when they found I'd discovered the hiding spots they created for their allowances. Again.

So the next logical place to go from petty thievery was piracy. And seeing how close it was to Christmas, I thought it would be easier just to go to St. Nick than my parents for the tools of my new trade. I wrote Santa a fairly detailed letter that year. I used my considerable writing skills so as not to alarm Santa to my actual plans.

...a Frisbee, black powder, a Slinky, a deck mounting cannon, a basketball, 5 pound lead cannon balls, a disc sled, a boarding axe...

I was really looking forward to getting that cannon. I had planned to test it prior to mounting it on my father's 14-foot, fiberglass sailboat. The kaboom would be so cool.

Needless to say, there was no kaboom. The cannon never came. Santa did NOT come through for me! I harbored a grudge against him, as I said, for several years.

Somewhere along the way, I changed paths completely and dedicated myself to good. Had I received a cannon at such a young age, there would have been a high probability of me blowing myself up.

So I've written Santa, yet again, to set things right. Old grudges have been forgiven and he needn't have any fear of coming to my house. Of course, I'm sure he's forgiven me for trying to stay up Christmas Eve with my air pellet rifle trained on the fireplace...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Parenting Advice for Fathers: Teenaged Boys

In honor of my son's 16th birthday today, this posting will be for all the fathers of teenaged boys. As I have never, nor will I most likely ever, have a teenaged girl, those fathers are simply out of luck! For now, anyway.

The first thing... Scratch that. The main thing that you, or anyone, for that matter, need to know about teenage boys is that they simply don't make sense. Really. They just don't.

Very seldom will you understand what it is that they're talking about. Even rarer will be the occasion that you understand what they're doing or, God help you, why they're doing whatever the heck it is they are doing!

Just today, I noticed my newly 16-year-oldized son standing in the kitchen door bouncing sideways in the door frame from shoulder to shoulder, making burbling sounds with his lips.
"What are you doing," I asked him.
"Nothing," he responded.
"Well," I responded, "you're doing something. It's kind of annoying."
"That's the point."
"What's the point," I asked.
"To be annoying."
The conversation deteriorated quickly.

Most importantly, I broke my golden rule of parenting a teenage boy -- if you don't acknowledge it, then it didn't  happen. If you don't talk about it, it's not there. I find this philosophy to be effective and useful about 97 percent of the time with my son.

Be sure to save your energy for that three percent of the time when the real parenting skills you have learned and acquired thus far will really be needed!

Regardless, I did perform the proper follow through to the non-acknowledgement rule stated above. Proper follow through protocol dictates a lengthy, silent look. It should be an appraising look, as opposed to a menacing look. Nod your head twice and meaningfully utter the phrase, "You know, I believe there's a pill made that fixes this."

And that's it! Simple, huh? There may be a post in the future where I throw some wild guesses out on how to deal with teenaged girls. After all, they can't be that different from teenaged boys, right?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Good Behavior Provides Christmas Inspiration

Dear Santa,

Thanksgiving is well past and we've finally worked off the turkey. We're well into December and my thoughts have begun drifting to you and what is soon to come. You know what I mean. A certain (wink wink) gift-giving occasion that is just around the corner.

With that having been said, this would be a good time to mention that I've actually been pretty good this year. In fact, if you overlook certain key moments (like the pudding shots incident and the mimosa fiasco), I've been pretty good so far this whole decade.

Now, I won't even mention the Karmann Ghia or the "Mean Scream Dream Machine." You know all about those from previous letters I've sent you. As always, just let me know if you need any details...

Regardless, this year I wanted to impress upon you my stellar behavior, as well as offer some shining examples. My only motive for sharing is to provide inspiration, not try to boost the quality or quantity of my Christmas loot. Gifts, I mean.

There were a couple of times earlier this year that one of my fuzzy, black dogs had some accidents indoors. Like the good dog owner that I am, I dutifully cleaned the mess. I was certainly NOT muttering nasty, murderous euphemisms towards my sweet, fuzzy pups!

This year has been interesting with my not-so-little son getting his drivers permit. I've learned the power of prayer as a passenger in my own car. He'll be 16 within the week. Need I say more?

I have even been a really good son and brother during the past year! I have not even pestered my family. Well, not too much, anyway, Santa. But you know, everything's relative, and I'm mostly certain that they'll back me up on this one.

My wife is still in the process of getting her Masters in education. Now Santa... I've been by her side the whole time with a fresh cup of coffee ready when necessary. You know how many pots of coffee I've made? Me neither! But a new coffee maker might not be a bad thing, St. Nick.

And as her personal writing coach? I've been pretty good in that capacity as well. I only fuss because I'm so passionate about good grammar.

If you should need to verify this information, have your elves email my wife. Her name is Wilma Betty Flintstone. Her email is gOtnOemAil@nanobot.zpt

Don't worry, Santa. I can provide other family names and contact info if you need any more verification. Just let me know.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Special Thanks for Thanksgiving

We, meaning the inhabitants of the Haworth household, have a lot to be grateful for this fine Thanksgiving Day. Here is a brief list of what my wife, my son and I are grateful for, as well as Bob, Ace and Lilly!

I know without asking that my wife is grateful for a few days off from school. Both of them. She's working hard on that Master's degree. I don't think I'm putting words in her mouth by saying she's also grateful for such a kind, warm-hearted, loving, amazing hubbie, who just happens to be the most modest, yet talented, gourmet chef on the East Coast of the U.S.

My son is grateful he'll be 16 in just less than two weeks. I think he's grateful for Dr. Who. He's also grateful to have a most awesome and cool, yet smart and witty, guy for a father.

Bob is grateful it's Thanksgiving. Period. He's also happy and grateful to hang out at my feet in the kitchen, cleaning up behind me every time I manage to drop food. Bob's always thankful for the prospect of more food. I think Bob loves me.

Ace is grateful for a warm lap to sit in. He's also thankful that his crazy owner has finally started running and is taking him out in the leash. Ace loves his owner!

Lilly is grateful for... Well, that she is capable of sleeping 12 hours in my bed without a single potty break! She's also thankful to the guy that feeds her. Me!

While I'm at it, my sisters are both grateful for a most sensitive, caring brother and my parents are thankful for the world's best son! My mother-in-law is thankful because I'm the world's greatest son-in-law

And me? I'm grateful for my awesome family that puts up with me. But I'm really thankful that I'm the writer, the creator of this blog. Otherwise, this could have turned out a whole lot different!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Turkey Facts for Thanksgiving

Turkey Day, or Thanksgiving, if you will, is right around the corner. I've read and learned some frightening real facts about the first Thanksgiving, which I won't be relaying to anyone through this post.

Instead, I will give you some facts that I just happen to know about turkeys. I suspect that they're fairly accurate, as I seem to remember reading them in some sort of reliable source. Regardless, prepare your horizons to be expanded.

I have never hit a turkey, either wild or domestic, with my car. I once came close to wiping out a small colony of wild turkeys that crossed the road in front of me. Luckily, I missed them!

Turkeys have wattles. Some humans have wattles, too. Turkeys, however, are supposed to have them.

It's been said that Benjamin Franklin lobbied to make the turkey the national bird for the US. Old Ben also went kind of nuts in his old age, as a matter of fact.

Umm... Yeah, that's my turkey!

If you over fry a turkey, it will explode. On that same token, if you undercook a turkey, it can make you very sick! It won't taste good, either.

It takes a very, very long time to cook a whole turkey! I know. I've done it once.

Wild turkeys can fly up to 55 miles per hour for short distances. I once had a VW that went that fast. Downhill.

Turkeys can see in color. Does that include bright hunter orange? Just asking...

Wild Turkey has no turkey in it at all. In fact, it's alcohol. Whiskey, to be exact. It can seriously mess you up!

I've read in several places that turkeys can drown if they look up while it's raining. Has this really been tested? I hope not! I think I know some humans who would drown if they looked up while it's raining.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Phone Apps Prove a Pain in the App!

I was attempting to write this post while I was walking to my car after school last Friday. Luckily, none of my coworkers saw me walk into the wall while I typed away. I could have avoided that, though, because there is an app for that!

Sure, I could have looked up and watched where I was going. No fun! Or I could have utilized Type and Walk and avoided my collision.

The app makes use of the camera on your iPhone, or handheld distraction device of your own choosing, and displays an image of what is right in front of you on the screen. I'll be getting the upgrade version, myself. Wouldn't want to be hit from the side by an out-of-control first-grader or unseen car!

As a matter of fact, I've discovered a whole host of crazy, pointless apps.

One app is simply called Pou. Pou? Yes, Pou. It is brown and shaped kind of like a... Hmm. The ad says you can feed your pou. You can take care of your pou. You can even watch your pou grow!

Pou? Thank you, but no thanks.

On the not so silly scale, there are all sorts of exercise program apps that you can download. I put C25K (Couch to 5K) on my iPhone not that long ago. I had to become reacquainted with the 'couch' part after my dental work. Good news, though. I've started over and am back on track!

I found one app simply titled Pocket. Apparently, if you find something on the Internet you want to keep for later, you simply put it in your pocket. Kinda takes away from the fun of printing everything out and panicking the night before, say, vacation because you can't locate your itinerary, reservations, directions, etc.

Of course there are apps for all the social media out there -- Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumbler, Vine and many more that I know of only by name. If you are into meeting people with green unibrows, I guarantee you there's a social media app for that!

The food apps? Let's not even delve into that! There are apps out there to help you be gluten free, lactose free, peanut free, tree nut free, fat free, dairy free, sugar free and frog intestine free!

Okay, I made up the frog intestine free. However, I feel certain that if you look long or hard enough, you could probably find it.

I'm in the process of designing my own app. It will be called the Bobinator. The irony in the name is that Bob, my extraterrestrial spaniel, eats everything. Everything.

Bob, the extra-terrestrial dog that eats EVERYTHING!

The app will pick up on the sound of Bob eating something he shouldn't and emit a high pitched shriek which should stop him. Not many things can stop that dog from eating, but my fingers are crossed for the Bobinator.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

High Point's Newest Landmark. The Blob?

I'm a little perplexed with my home town of High Point. After what seemed like 20 years of construction, the city has nearly completed its first (and hopefully last) round-about.

I say nearly only because they're in the process of beautifying the traffic atrocity now.

This sign is a slight misrepresentaion of what's to come.
Here's the sign that informs the unwary public that they are approaching a "round-about." This, however, is what they face as they actually approach the intersection.

Ummm... Wait, what? Can I pull a U-turn?

It's a little confusing. There are four traffic islands that spring from its "corners." I use the term corners loosely, as they are rounded off. Also, there seems to be an odd curve to the whole thing. I believe if I were to take an aerial view, it would be shaped remarkably like a very large comma.

So what do we call it? Round-about? Not very accurate. Round-a-comma? Sounds kind of literate, doesn't it? Or simply The Blob, as my family likes to call it.

It's nearly as confusing as the intersection it replaced. I think my mother has already gotten lost on it once. She had to go around the whole thing three times in order to figure out how to get to where she was going.

The grass is starting to grow in it from the city's traffic beautifying committee. They just planted trees today, in fact. It has walkways in it for pedestrians (because it's so large, of course).

Rumor has it that benches will be installed. That will be so people can sit and watch the traffic accidents as they occur. My son thinks it will be a High Point hang out. They'll fix it up more and have "bands in The Blob," as well as other fun events.

The best thing? Now I can find my house faster on Google Earth. My house is much easier to find now that I have a giant comma right around the corner!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Watch Out, Dr. Seuss!

I gave up searching for an illustrator for some of my other writing projects that I have done. Instead, I've decided to take matters into my own hands. I found one of my son's books on how to draw cartoons and will be trying my hand at illustrating those nearly completed projects!

I forgot that really cool teacher's assistant in the grapes.

This is my bunch o' grapes. Notice, if you will, that there are 18 grapes in my bunch. That number just happens to coincide with average number of students in a first grade class at the school in which I work.

Each grape has a name. No. I won't tell them to you, or whose class they represent. I suspect my teachers, however, will figure out which class they represent.

Neither the teacher nor the assistant is depicted in my drawing. The reason for this is simple. I'm not yet good enough to depict wisdomly beauty or total nerdiness yet. Give me time... Give me time.

An interesting mix of abstract, surrealist and post modern.

I must say that my cartoon frog has improved dramatically from  his previous bubble body. There is a reason I didn't show a depiction of my original frog.

Here are but a few more of my recent creations. I will be working on bodies soon. Hopefully, they will go as well as the heads have gone. Hmmm...

No comment necessary...

Ironically, the top right drawing, which I got directly from my sketch book, looks remarkably like my own father when I nearly ran him over with his own truck. But that's another story and one we have delved into before.

Regardless, I will be attempting to infuse more visuals into these posts, whether they be drawings or photos.

As my "talents" progress, I may be attempting a cartoon portrait of my entire family! I can just feel their excitement mounting now!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Life Lessons, First-Grader Style

It seems there have been a ton of self-help books written that teach you all about life's lessons. Trust me, I know. I've read a few of them myself. Each one of them claims to have "the answer" you're looking for.

Yeah. Right.

After paying close attention to my first-graders, I have learned that these six and seven year-olds hold a wealth of knowledge. In fact, here are some of life's real lessons that I have culled from my observations of these little ones in action.

Pitching a fit wont fix anything, but it sure is fun!

When in doubt, suck your thumb (or other digit of preference).

Your birthday trumps anything. You shouldn't have to do anything on your birthday.

If you don't know what to do, either draw on something or don't do anything at all.

If you don't know the answer to a question that's posed to you, point to yourself and say, "You mean me, (insert teacher's name here)?"

Anytime is a good time to crawl under a desk.

If you're unsure of something, poke it with a sharp pencil.

Almost anything can be eaten, whether it's edible or not.

Stickers and stamps have magical powers. They make the world go round.

Band-Aids fix anything that hurts. No wound is too small for a Band-aid.

Your neighbor always has better markers (dry erase or permanent), crayons, pencils, highlighters or erasers than you do.

Anytime's a good time to dig for gold (you know what I mean). A kid's got to do what a kid's got to do!

And my favorite? Easy... There's no problem too big or complex that you can't hide from it in the bathroom!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bermuda Triangle Secrets Discovered!

After spending extensive time as a first grade teachers assistant (nearly three years, now), I've made a startling discovery. First-graders are really aliens in disguise!

There is a slim possibility that I may be wrong about this one. In fact, my alternate theory is that my first-graders really are just kids, but they can communicate directly with extraterrestrials!

Where's your evidence, you may ask. I give you exhibit A -- Dee (obviously NOT her real name!). Dee likes to walk around and mark on everyone's work. To mere mortals and school teachers, the marks look remarkably like scribbles.

What she is really doing is writing the same message over and over again! By writing the same message multiple times, it's more likely to be seen and read by those keeping an eye on us. You know, the 'ones' with whom she is communicating. Pretty sneaky!

Then there's exhibit B, Bo (not his real name, either!). Not as subtle as Dee, Bo likes to teleport within the confines of the classroom.
"Bo," I say, sternly. "Get off the computer and park it at your desk!"
"I am at my desk, Mr. Haworth." And, sure enough, there he is, sitting at his desk.
"Bo," I say again a millisecond later. "Please get out of your cubby and sit down!"
"I am sitting, Mr. Haworth." Again, there he is, sitting in his seat. 

It's almost creepy how he does that.

The secret to the Bermuda Triangle lies within the minds of these first-graders.

Like the squadron of planes that disappeared, inexplicable classroom phenomena have taken place under my watch.

Pencils, pencil sharpeners, crayons and markers have been known to disappear without a trace. I've even had an entire table disappear! Strange leaks have occurred around the water fountains and sinks. I think I've even seen single shoes laying around, though I've never spotted a kid wearing only one shoe...

And then there are the amazing moving desks. Whether the kids sit at them or not, they slowly rotate around the room, like a rotisserie on super slo-mo.

I've analyzed the details and here are the facts. I'm an assistant in three classrooms. A triangle has three sides (and three vertices! First grade info!). Three strikes and you're on red. Three colors for behavior. Three parts of a story (beginning, middle and end). Eighteen students per class, which is divisible by three! I could go on.

Rest assured that when my rooms begin humming, my kids' eyes start glowing and the water fountain water begins bubbling, I will be in the principal's office. We will be discussing my million dollar contract or my immediate transferral!