Sunday, March 27, 2011


I know, I know...some of you can't wait very long for a new post.  (Sue)  I will take a quick minute to let you know that I am still alive.  Efforts of the kids notwithstanding. 

Sylvia and I were able to get away from here for an evening at the beach.  We left Friday after teaching and came home the next afternoon.  I'm not going to tell you what day that is because I do not want to be compared to that poor girl who made the video and is being tortured on the internet.  And if you don't know what I am talking about you need to get some teenagers in your life.  They are awesome.

Anyway, Sylvia and I "won" highest bid at a charity auction for the hotel gift certificate.  At Santa Cruz beach, overlooking the water, it was awesome.  And even though the advertisements for the room talked about the WiFi capabilities and how great it is, I left the laptop home.  It's not that often that both of the kids are away at the same time and I wanted to have time with my bride.  No blog.

I did happen to see a few signs and a news report that I will write about later, but for now this is the post explaining why there hasn't been a post.

Additionally, I was entirely grateful to see that I had been blessed with another follower.  My dear friend Teri has joined the fray.  Not only am I thankful that more people are stopping by, but Teri is blessed number 32 which we all know is the number after 31 which is, ick, a prime number.  Thanks Teri, I feel much better now.  ;-)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I See London, I See France...

Sylvia is away for the weekend, again, and I thought I would take the opportunity to write...about her.  She is away with 170 of her closest friends at a women's retreat with our church.  I love her with all my heart and, much like the kids, I would never write something that I thought would embarrass her...but she is going to get me killed one day.  Let me explain while she is still out of the house. 

To do this I am going to have to reveal my age.  Not the numerical age, 45 in case anyone is interested, but my youthful image age.  I met Sylvia's aunt in Germany right after we got married...she was in her 80's.   And I knew very few sentences in German.  I don't care what the calendar says, she was young!  I never stopped laughing or smiling while we were with her.  I also have known people in their thirties who were already well into retirement as far as the fun factor goes.  I think I stand comfortably in the middle of those extremes depending on the circumstances.  Funny faces : Childish.  Joke telling : Junior high.  Trampoline participation : decrepit.  There is one situation that has my feet solidly buried in quick setting and immovable concrete.  New Fashion Trends : Fuddy Duddy. 

There was a time when my friend's son stuffed a rolled up sock under the tongue of each of his tennis shoes to make it look bigger and his laces couldn't be tied.  "Isn't that hard to walk?"  I asked.  "Yes."  He said with a look of 'why do you ask?' on his face.  Teenage girls can ask, "Are you calling me fat?!"  For no apparent reason.  And yet there was a trend where they wore their pants on the widest parts of their hips ensuring that the the answer to, "Do these make me look fat?" was, "Definitely!"  Similarly, Crooked baseball hat?  Don't get it, looks uncomfortable.  "These shoes kill my feet!"  "Throw them away."  "ARE YOU CRAZY!"  My answer, "Yes.  I must be."  (Of course, to be fair, I have so many issues with my feet that I have to wear admittedly odd looking orthopedic shoes to survive.  But if they made my feet stop hurting I wouldn't care if they made fart noises with every step I took.)...but I digress.

The trend that seems to be hanging on longer than it should have been allowed, is the most troubling to me, and the one that almost cost me my devilishly good looks, is guys who hang their pants around their knees to show off their underwear.  You've seen them.  Don't try to tell me that you haven't felt a guilty hope that their waistband would just give up and drop the rest of the way as a way for God to illustrate the point that people have waists for a reason.  Sagging = Silly.  There, I've said it.  I feel cleansed.  I feel the joy of release.  I feel safe, since I am sitting here, in my house, behind locked doors, at the computer, typing by the light of my "you'll shoot your eye out" lamp.  As funny as I think it is, I would never say anything about what people decide to wear.  The same can not be said for Sylvia and that is what I wanted to tell you today. 

One day at the beginning of the whole everybody-wants-to-see-my-underwear phase, Sylvia and I were walking down the sidewalk in Carmel, CA.  Hand in hand.  Just out for a stroll.  Doing some window shopping.  Ahead of us, someone walked out of a store and started walking the same direction as we were headed.  He was a little shorter than me but not by much, he had shortish hair, and we know for a fact that he was wearing red boxers.  Yes, he was what you might call, "saggin."  It was sort of like a car crash, it looked awful but there was nowhere else to look.  Sylvia decided this would be a good time for a community service announcement. 
"Doesn't that look ridiculous!?  His pants just look silly."

"mmm hmmm." Look away Jeff Look away!.

"I mean does he think that that looks good?  Really?"

My best pleading look.  "honeeey."

"I mean honestly.  That is not attractive at all!  Who thinks that is attractive?  There is no one who would think that having your pants down like that looks nice!"

Trying desperately to walk as slowly as I possibly could to give us a little distance between us, I suddenly became very interested in the blown glass replica of the mermaid wrestling with a manatee...dear God, I hope they were wrestling. 

Sylvia would have none of it.  We're walking.  "Does he not have any friends that would tell him that looks bad?" 

"Honey, did you see that manatee?  Very lifelike!  Would fit on our coffee table!  I'll buy you the matching earrings!  My treat!  Let's go back!"

We walked further.  I tried to remember if I had signed my will.

I can imagine what you are thinking.  Carmel is a bustling town.  There are loads of people on the street.  He couldn't have known she was talking about him.  Wrong.  The only thing that could have made that street any more deserted was if there was a tumbleweed rolling down the center of the road while the town clock made the final click to noon.  There was about 30 feet separating the four of us.  That's right, I said four.  It was Sylvia, Me, Red underwear guy, and his gigantic muscles!  This was a guy who could have kicked sand in Sylvester Stallone's face at the beach.  (and Rocky II Stallone, not Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot Stallone)  This fine, upstanding gentleman looked like he worked out more that day than I had in my entire life.  He was one of those guys that makes you wonder, 'what does he do when his back itches?' because there was no way he was getting those arms anywhere near his body.  You've seen it.  His arms were permanently stuck at a 45 degree angle away from his body.  This is who Sylvia decided to ridicule publicly.  Thankfully, and apparently, steroids make you deaf because he never flinched, he never hesitated, and most importantly he never turned around to see me with shrugged shoulders and an incredulous look on my face pointing at my soon-to-be-widowed wife.  No he just walked over to his truck, picked it up, and carried it away.  Whew!

I've heard people say, "Guys with big muscles are slow." but I didn't want to find out what it felt like to slowly give me an indentation of his fist on the back of my skull...from the front.  I dodged a bullet there. 

Now, just so you don't think I am being mean to Sylvia because she is away, let me tell you, something reminded me of this story while she was getting ready to go (I must have caught a glimpse of my extremely muscled body in the mirror...yeah, that was it) and I told her that I would probably write about this episode while she was gone.  She said, "Go ahead.  It looked silly then, it looks silly now, and I would do it again."  Now, if you'll excuse me I need to go check if my life insurance is up to date.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Day Late! (sue me)

Top O' The Mornin' To Ya!

I'm writing to show all the newspaper people that are following this blog that I can write about topics that pertain to current events...and stuff.  (that was to show that I can relate to the everyday Joe...and stuff)  If you, Mr. and Mrs. Newspaper editor/checkwriter, are worried that I have blown an imagined deadline in writing about St. Patrick's Day on the day after the event, let me assure you, I am just really, really early for next year!  That's how I roll.  Always on the move.  Always a step ahead.  Ready for anything!  Can anyone tell me where I left my film?  I want to take a picture of a Dodo bird.

Well it seems that I have not overcome the deep emotional scars that arrived via pinches back in elementary school.  As I tore through the closet, looked in my dresser, and searched the dryer, it became clear that I had nothing green to wear to school.  The horror.  I could already sense people getting their fingers limbered up to do their worst.  It was just a matter of time before it was armageddon (well maybe not that bad but pinches do hurt).  I remember going to school on March 17th and getting pinched even though I was wearing some sort of green.  "You see there!?  That line between those two other lines is avocado!  My mom says that's green!"  It was heck.  To make matters worse, if you wore a primarily green shirt on a day other than St. Patrick's you got teased for wearing green. 

One problem that I had back then was that I was I don't see colors the way everyone else does.  I say it that way to avoid having people send me pictures of things and then ask, "What color is this?"  That is the usual question I get when I say, "I'm colorblind."  The best way I can describe it is I just have trouble differentiating between different colors.  I can see red.  I can see green.  I can see blue, and silver, and's just that I can't always tell which is which.  I remember one time I was stomping around the kitchen looking for our green pitcher.  I wanted to make some orange juice and I always used the green pitcher to do that.  I looked in all the usual places...nothing.  I looked in the unusual places...blank.  I was getting more and more frustrated until my mom came in to see why I was banging the cabinet doors. 
"Mom!  Where's the green pitcher?"
"Jeff, we don't have a green pitcher."
(Exasperated...because we all used the same one to make orange juice)  "Of course we do!  It's usually right there.  I just used it the other day.  We always use the green pitcher!"
"Are you feeling all right?"
"Are you serious?!  I want to make orange juice.  Where is the orange juice pitcher?"
As she calmly walked over to unbelievably unusual place, "Do you mean this brown pitcher?"
I "borrowed" this from  You can go there if you like.
I liked this card...after someone told me what it said.

 Now I would have sworn on a stack of Mad Magazines that the pitcher we owned was green.  That's the way it looked to me and my faulty eyes.  It was years later before some eye doctor put one of those color blind dot tests in front of me...but I digress.

Back to the cold sweat that was forming on my brow while I looked for something green to wear.  I have one "green" shirt that I know for certain is green, even in low light, I can tell it's green...I wore it the day before.  I needed to look like a zombie for a junior high church group I work with and green seemed the most undead.  (I'll post all of the pictures of me trying to be "Club J's Next Top Model" soon.)  So here I was with absolutely nothing green to wear.  I was sure that the bullies from my childhood were lurking outside my door, fingers poised in the "pinch" position.  It was an unreasonable fear, to say the least, especially since one of my childhood bullies went to jail... for murder...seriously. 

I ran across a couple of A's jerseys that I inherited from my late brother.  They are green!  The problem is that Dan, my brother, was nearly as tall as I am but weighed approximately the same as my left leg...below the knee.  I keep them purely for sentimental reasons.  So I went to school, greenless, armed with the one challenge that seemed to work when I was in junior high. 
"My underwear is green!  Do you want to see?"  Made some people laugh, embarrassed the pincher, and allowed me to make an exit stage right.  I steeled myself for the onslaught of adult pinchers in the professional workplace. 

It's funny.  Sylvia's favorite color is green.  She loves it.  She would be safe nearly every day of the year.  Plus she's too darn cute to pinch anyway.  The ironic thing is that in the not-too-distant past, since Sylvia bought a majority of my clothes, nearly every piece I owned was some sort of green...not that I had any idea.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Weekend Number 1

Where oh where have my girlie girls gone!  You can come back now!

It seems that I have been left without the comfort of women-folk for the weekend.  Every once in a while I feel like calling out for them...I mean my breakfast isn't going to make itself!  ***DISCLAIMER*** Those of you who know me personally know that that last 'breakfast' statement was purely a joke.  I just felt like I could get away with it since Sylvia and Kristiana are having a girly weekend away.  Besides, I'm more of a "It's 5 o'clock darnit!  Where's my dinner?!" sort of guy.  *** get the idea.

Sylvia did indeed take Kristiana away for the weekend to have a Mommy/Daughter make-up, pluck, soak,  facial, massage, mani, pedi, extravaganza!  I'm going to take Jake out for a father/son weekend in a few months.  I do not think the agenda will be similar.  We may just have to shoot something.  Arr arr arr...But I digress...

When Fudge, the most reliable alarm-dog on Earth, got me up this morning at 5:00 on the dot I decided to stay up and do a little work around the house.  So here I sit, writing.  Actually, at the risk of alienating my male readers, I am finally taking a break after working through the beginnings of a mental list that I wanted to get through this weekend.  I've fixed two sticky drawers, put away cartons that made it to the garage but never got up, stored the snow clothes, did the dishes, and cleaned out the refrigerator.  (I had to...nobody was here to make me breakfast) 

I want to know, is it just us or does everyone have something sitting in the back of the fridge that can only be identified as, 'some sort of food'?  We have leftovers, I take them for lunch most days.  We have foods that were bought with the best of intentions, since they are good for you.  And we have the container that somehow slides past all the usable, high traffic food, and sits in the back, lurking.  The only time you notice it is when the refrigerator light burns out and you notice an eerie glow in the back.  Since this is a family and not a frat house there are no dares of "You Eat It!" so I took it upon myself to eradicate the offending article.  Because I am trying very hard to be a socially responsible citizen I dumped it in the green waste container.  (Actually, I am terribly cheap and we don't pay for that waste)  I'm not certain but I think I heard a low growl when I put it out.  We'll see if they quarrantine our street on garbage day.  White vans, toxic avenger suited people, frat guys...those will be my clues that something is up. 

I have no idea what made me decide to tackle this less than pleasant job this morning.  I suspect it has something to do with those subliminal tapes I got.  I'm not losing any weight but I have the desire to mop the floors before Jake recovers from his ice cream and action movie induced coma..  I'll have to check see if they labled the cds correctly.

My goal is to have Sylvia walk in and have her mouth drop open in pleasant surprise...while still doing guy stuff with Jake.  Having a dog that wakes you early is sure a big help.  It would be terrible if she came in and said, "Yup the house is great.  Why is your son crying."  So I hope to have a good mix of the two.  We'll see if she likes it.

I hear rumbling from the pre-teen section of the house.  I should go see if Jake is up...and what he's going to make me for breakfast.

This is an interesting season for us.  We will have three weeks in a row where people are gone from the house.  Sylvia next weekend and Kristiana the week after that.  I don't know why everyone keeps leaving me alone...I mean, I shower regularly.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Whoops! Splat!

Today I feel the deep and urgent need to address something that could save a own.  My life has been in peril for some time and the attempts to bump me off have become increasingly frequent so I am going to take the opportunity to address all of the people who read this blog in an effort to change my fate.  I can only hope that when this is read by my regular readers (my wife and my mom...when she's not busy) they will take action and my life will be spared!

I am not talking about the twenty nine kindergartners in my class who bring several strains of influenza, bacteria, and other harmful elements into the classroom on a daily basis.  I am not going to speak about the fact that they feel the need to come mere inches from my face before they will say, "Mr. Garrett, I threw up this morning...COUGH!"  Nay!  I knew the risks when I signed up to teach.  I am writing this to my own kids.  Yes, my children, the ones I have raised from infancy, cared for, comforted, supported, coached, guided, helped, and loved...are trying to kill me.  At this point I need to point out, "Kids!  I do not have enough life insurance for you to retire on so you may want to wait until college is paid for."

This may seem crass and insensitive on my part but how else can you explain the layer of soap that they leave on the floor of the shower, daily.  Sometimes it is a carefully disguised patch off to one side.  Sometimes it is a thin film that covers the entire floor.  And most recently, they went for broke and just layered shampoo and body wash about a half an inch deep without even trying to conceal it.  On the mornings that I am not paying attention I step into the shower and end up looking like one of the robbers from the Home Alone movies slipping and grabbing and shuffling until I finally get my balance and start the residue cleanup process.  One of these days I will be flailing and grabbing and when I reach out to grab the shower nozzle, I will find that there are two bags of cement tied to them precariously balanced overhead.  Splat.

These shampoo attacks are an escalation from their ill-conceived initial attempts on my life.  Originally they were trying to eliminate me by using all of the shaving cream and hoping that I would slowly bleed to death...with hundreds of tiny little pieces of toilet paper dotting my face.

The shaving cream thing started out innocently enough. 
"Look Daddy!  I have a beard like Santa!" 
"Yes, Ha ha!  I see.  Very cute.  Ok, finish up so everyone else can use the shower."

Then they started going for the larger usage.
"Look Daddy!  I left a note for Mommy."
"Nice.  She'll like the heart with the arrow.  Please honey, it's been 15 minutes."

Then they went for the big guns...
"Look Daddy.  I recreated a life sized replica of the Venus De Milo.  It was going to be Michelangelo's David but I didn't think I had enough for the arms."
"Yes, that's nice.  Do you kids know where Mommy put the styptic pencil and the tourniquets!?"

I know what you are most likely saying.  Let the kids have a little fun!  What does it hurt?  It's cute!  Yes, yes, and yes...when they leave me a little so I can shave without needing a transfusion.  But when I am 90% of the way into my shower and I reach for what I thought was a full can of shaving cream and spray only speckles of tiny blobs of liquid with no foaming potential whatsoever, it gets a little frustrating.  I am beginning to wonder how hard it would be to apply for a grant to keep us supplied in art supplies.  I could make a sign..."Support the Arts!  Send Jeff's kids a Buck Fifty for a Can of Shaving Cream!"  How hard is it to set up PayPal?

As an aside, I have implied but will now tell you outright.  Yes, I do shave in the shower. I am trying to emulate my humor columnist, newspaper writing, role model, Ray Orrock.  He once wrote that his father-in-law suggested that he shave in the shower and it changed his life.  I do not think that shaving in the shower is the reason that Ray was given the opportunity to be a writer in our local newspaper, but I am taking no chances.  I also know, from his writing, that he loved his wife and his family very much.  I am going to do that too...even though some of them are trying to do me in.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Don't Eat That

This morning I want to let all three hundred fifteen thousand of my readers (that's a total lie...I'll explain in a second) in on a secret!  I have submitted a sampling of my blog to a couple of newspapers to see if this life-changing, Pulitzer prize winning, awe inspiring, writing might be something that they would be willing to print.  (all of the praise is a total lie too...I'm trying to sound important so they will pay me the big bucks)  That's right!  I expect to be rich and famous in a little over a month.  Feel free to say, "I knew him when."  I know what you are thinking..."But Jeff, you have given something away!  It is no longer a secret." (Don't worry.  It's a well known fact that newspaper editors don't read what's in the parentheses)  But I digress...

As part of my socially responsible new beginning into the hard-hitting world of journalism, I thought I would write about something that almost everyone encounters daily.  Some people are able to wait a day or so.  Some people wait a little longer and would have much better social lives if they encountered it a little more often.  That's right, I'm going to talk about shampoo.  I fall into the 'every day' category only because my hair is slightly thicker than the average pipe cleaner and I wake up looking like I am about to audition to be the lead singer in a Flock of Seagulls cover band.  Sylvia's normal morning greeting to me is, "Nice hair."  You get the idea.  I need to tame it daily with this magical follicle fixing elixir.

First, I need to talk about the name.  Interesting to say the least.  Say it with me.  Sham...poo...  I remember distinctly the conversation where I first learned about shampoo.  My brother, sister, and I were watching an old movie on TV.  I don't want to date myself but I had to get up and walk over to the 19 inch set that was in a three-foot wide wooden cabinet to turn it on.  After it warmed up we would watch whatever was on one of the eight channels.  And if one of us had to pee, we missed part of the show.  (I know kids.  The Horror!!)  Anyway, someone in the show was getting animated and upset about a desperate situation.  He finally yelled, "It's a sham I tell you!  It's all a sham!!"  So I turned to my mom and asked, "What's a sham?"  She said, "Well that means it's something fake."  (You with me?)  So I said, "So we wash our hair with fake poo?"  Everyone laughed and I stood raising my hands in a triumphant pose saying, "Thank you, thank you!  I'll be here all week.  Be sure to tip your waitresses.  Try the Salisbury steak." (that last part is a little fuzzy but I'm sure that's pretty close to what happened)

So now we know what the name means.  That brings me to what I really wanted to talk about today.  My shampoo.  I tend to look at the world around me with a slightly skewed perspective (my regular readers collectively said, "Ya Think!?")  So I am used to questioning why certain things are the way they are, deciding that only I would wonder that, and then moving on about my daily life of shaping young children's minds in the public school system.  Today, I could stand it no longer.  In the shower I reached for a new bottle of shampoo and happened to see the bragging comments toward the bottom of the label.  It said, "Sulfate Free."  Not sure what a sulfate is but I think they're bad.  Don't want those.  Check.  "Paraben Free" Never heard of that, but I'm always looking for new things to write on Words With Friends.  I'll take their word for it.  I don't want those.  Or that.  Or it.  As the case may be.  Check.

The next two things were a little more troubling.   It says, "Gluten Free."  Gluten free?  Really?  Isn't gluten taken internally by those who can handle it?  I've always thought of gluten as a synonym for bread or bread shaped molecules that you need an electron microscope to slice.  (I know, I would be kicked out of the health food store and the founder of Whole Foods just rolled over in his or her grave...if he or she is in fact dead)  If I weren't already lathering, rinsing, and repeating...the whole gluten free thing would have been a head scratcher to say the least.  As an aside, no matter how vehemently it is stated in the shampooing instructions, I would like to point out that the "repeat" is merely a suggestion.  Do not fall victim to this trap.  1986 and significant portions of 1987 are completely lost to me in what doctors termed an unfortunate L-R-R spiral.  The first step is admitting it to yourself.  But I digress...

And finally, and perhaps most troubling, my new bottle of shampoo proudly states,  "100% Vegan." Now come on!  Tofu?  Yes, I expect that to be vegan.  Carrot juice?  Of course.  Imitation Soy burgers with a cold steel rolled oat filler? Naturally!  Pun intended.  **See how clever I can be Mr. and Mrs. newspaper editor** (I would have put that last part in parentheses, know)  The label didn't say anything about it being shampoo/dessert topping...I checked!  I had already assumed that most of my shampoos didn't have tiny bits of bread in them and I certainly didn't expect to see any animals mentioned on the label.  Imagine my surprise when I looked at a few bottles in the shampoo aisle in the supermarket.  Do you know what I found on most of the ingredient lists?!  That's right.  Chicken nuggets!  Who knew!?  I guess I'll have to be a little more careful when choosing my hair care products from now on. 

It did make me curious though about other hygiene items.  I don't want to accuse anybody, but Dove body wash?  I'm sure there's a reason it's named that. 

So now that I have written a hard-hitting expose and am on the verge of signing a contract with our local paper, I am wondering how I should introduce myself?  Newspaper columnist, award winning journalist, defendant in the Dove corporation libel suit, or sham-writer?  Only time will tell. 

*no animals were harmed during the writing of this blog*