Wednesday, August 30, 2006

End of an era

Today marks the end of a era for the Philadelphia Eagles as they waived both Koy Detmer and Todd Pinkston. Remarkably, two of the skinniest men in the NFL were released on the same day.

Koy was a strange bird. He looked more like your neighbor than an NFL quarterback, someone you might borrow a rake or a leafblower from rather than your field general. It always amazed me that someone so slight could play at the NFL level and last for ten years. I always gave me hope that someday I might line up under center.

By comparison, Jesse Palmer (aka The Bachelor and a text book looking QB) only lasted six.

Koy played his best game in 2002 on Monday Night Football against the 49ers. Donovan McNabb had broken his ankle the week before and it was up to this 195 lb quarterback to win on national TV and keep the Eagles season going. He picked the 49ers apart before dislocating his elbow in the third quarter. It was painful to watch him thrash on the field clutching his elbow from the gruesome injury but he played a beautiful game.

I'm sure that Koy would most like to be remembered for his quarterbacking skills or least for his wacky zorro/swordsman celebrations but he will best be remembered like this, on one knee, looking down, holding the football for kicker David Akers. He was very good at this apparently as everyone just raved at how good he was at holding the football. Holding the football. He got paid to hold the football. I guess all the other guys on the team for the past ten years never learned how to do this or had the uncontrollable urge to swipe it away at the last minute ala Lucy on Charlie Brown.

Holding the football. Another thing I could have done if given the chance.

In recent years it had to be this skill that kept him on the team year after year. It was either that or that he had compromising pictures of Andy Reid. Either way, he made a bundle of money for being David Akers' security blanket as he signed a $3.25 million contract over four years in 2003.

3.25 million for holding the football. I could have done that, how hard can it be?

He also had a strange habit of buying a single outfit at the beginning of the year in Target and wearing that outfit to every road game. Word was that he didn't bring much else on the road either. Maybe a toothbrush and his playbook.
You can also see that he did not blow his money on fine automobiles either. Koy drove this 1981 Caddilac until this year when it was auctioned off for charity.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

click-click-click-click

This time of year reminds me of being on a roller coaster and being towed up that first big hill. Our whole family is looking up at sky with our hands in the air knowing that once we pass that peak on Labor Day it is going to be a wild ride to Christmas. An endless stream of Soccer-Band-Scouts-Soccer-Band-Scouts until next thing you know you are shoveling snow in January.

So we take a pause for the last week of real summer as the roller coaster cars slowly come to the top, change direction and head off down the hill.

Oldest son will be a Junior in High School this year and that now adds the element of College hunting and SATs into the mix and youngest may not be doing Scouts so that may free up some time but still we are going to need more planning than the Allies had for D-Day if we want to see Christmas alive since we are both working. I'm thinking on-line calendaring might do the trick but no one besides me would use it.

It has been quite a summer with the trip to Italy and Greece, Sailing the Chesapeake, Concerts and numerous camps - it seems like a blur. Except for the graduation party, we really didn't even have any big pool parties - that is a first. Sleep-overs were dramatically down this year as well - I guess the boys are out growing them.

Maybe we can get one last fling in before the school season starts after Labor Day. Maybe a camping trip - who knows. I haven't been to the shore yet this year either. Maybe a day trip is order.

Concert Update

We saw Tom Petty last Friday on the grass at the Tweeter in Camden. It was a great show even if it was attended by what seemed to be 20 year-olds for whom the lights were on but no one was home. The place was packed but we had our usual 20 or so in attendance so we had a strong foot hold against the crowd. Thanks to Tina and Wendy for camping out early holding back the tide.

We alledgedly saw the Allman brothers too but I only caught the last few songs of their set. Many in our crowd never saw them at all after spending the better part of the evening in line at the bathrooms.

Good show even if the encore was a little weird. Three slow songs in row - a lot of people, including us, left during the encore.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Hidden Treasure

I spent most of Saturday hauling 14 years of junk from the shed to the curb. An admitted pack rat with a 12' x 16' shed is like an alcoholic living atop a bar.

I found
  • Three old windows that I admittedly pulled out of some else's trash when Mrs F was going through her shabby chic design phase. ( my back up plan was to use them to make a green house)
  • Tiki torches that we collected the time that we helped the middle school decorate a dance Hawaiian style and that the real owners did not want back.
  • A box full of the excess solar cover material for the pool.
  • My 1974 Motobecane 10 speed.
  • Three sets of rusty shelves.

All to the curb.

We kept Mrs F's 1978 Huffy 10 speed for sentimental value. It was a gift for graduating High School.

I could have used the "Monback Brothers Trash Hauling" from Prairie Home Companion who not only haul the stuff away, but help you decide what to throw out. Their motto is

If you keep telling yourself, "One of these days I'm going to sort out this stuff" ----- call for us, we'll sort it out for you.

At about 6 PM on Saturday someguy with a mohawk and a pickup drove by and picked off the good stuff (My Motobecane?)


There were a lot of things I had put away into that shed thinking that someday they might be treasures but in the end there was only one thing.

You see my shed has two doors, a left and a right. We use the left door daily to get in and out but the right door is only opened if we have something large entering or exiting the shed. This usually only happens twice a year in April and October.

On Saturday I had the right side door opened and saw something I had forgotten about.

Twice a year I had marked the boys height on the inside frame of the right door and I had forgotten all about it.

I had also marked my height and watched as they slowly got closer and closer to me.

At that moment I was really angry at myself for not taking better care of the shed. These sharpie marks on a 2 x 4 were a treasure that was going to be lost when they come and tear down the old shed in a few weeks.

I went and measured all the heights and recorded them but it's just not the same is it?

Maybe I can continue them in the new shed.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

PATCO fire

I always wanted to see the "ghost station" at Franklin Square but I never thought I'd see it like this.

I was a little angry that I just missed what I thought was the express PATCO train leaving the 15/16th & Locust station in Philly and then I looked at my watch and found that it was 5:05 PM, 2 minutes early for the express. I also caught that the train was marked "Lindenwold Local" as it left the station. OK So I didn't miss the express.

I waited at the station and another train pulled in as soon as the first one left. This one was the express and I took my favorite seat in the very front, next to the conductor. I like the window. What can I say? I also used to make all my friends hold their hands in the air like we were on a roller coaster when we headed over the bridge on the front train.

I was thinking how lucky this was to have my favorite seat on the express but I really had no idea how lucky it really was.

The ride was uneventful until we headed out over the bridge and I noticed that the train was moving slowly. The train usually comes out of the tunnel and speeds up as it heads up the hill of the bridge crossing the Delaware River.

I heard the conductors' radio and one of the other conductors of a train ahead of us was saying that he had an emergency light come on and then our train stopped on the bridge. We stopped just below mile post 1.75 and I am not sure that the whole train was even out of the tunnel. I was because I was on the east end of the train, closest to New Jersey.

We sat there for a bit and the radio crackled again, this time saying something about a fire under the last car on the train ahead of us. The conductor didn't sound panicked, he just sounded business like.

People were making phone calls telling loved ones they were going to be late.

There were several of us up front with the conductor and we were on the edge of our seats listening for news about the fire.

Finally, after about 20 minutes the central control station told our conductor to make an announcement that we were going back to 8th and Market street station and she headed back to the west end of the train to drive from the other end.

Our trained headed slowly back west it the tunnel but it didn't seem to have all the lights and air conditioning on.

Then it stopped dead. I could see the end of the tunnel leading to the bridge and I still had a cell phone signal from where the train stopped so I made a few calls updating my home and work were I was.

I was a little mad at myself because for the last 6 years I have carried a flashlight in my bag. I carried that stupid little flash light everyday for 6 years. In July I got a new bag. Guess what didn't make it into the new bag? The flashlight.

I think there was an announcement about staying in the tunnel until power was restored and we were all asked to move to the center cars. After that an announcement was made that PATCO workers were going to open the Franklin Square station and we could all leave from there.

We waited for a bit and then I headed to the center cars and found one with the doors open and headed out on to the Franklin Square platform and from there, all the people on the train waited to head out up into the sunlight.

For a short time it was a little adventure, making our way out through the abandoned station. It looked like the set of science fiction movie. No one was really frightened at that point, it was more like your neighborhood after a car wreck or a fire. People chit-chatin' up. There was a big guy who was having trouble getting up the last bit of stairs and blocked everyone for a while but that was about the end of it.

NJ Transit came with some shuttle buses and took most away and I waited for my ride (Thanks again George).
Courier Post Story

Monday, August 14, 2006

Kukaro Part 2

As reported earlier, we spent the weekend on the S/V Kukaro on the Chesapeake Bay. The weather was perfect, with almost none of the humidity that we had been having the week before and nothing but sunshine and moonlight.

The Kukaro is a Hudson Force 50 built in Taiwan in 1980. While there is not direct translation, kukaro is a Micronesian word that means "really long to do list" because, as is expected, there is always something that needs fixin'.

I spent the weekend re-learning a whole new language of course since sailors have a different name for just about everything. While I usually go to the store and buy food, this weekend I went food shopping and bought some "provisions". It wasn't the left side of the boat, it was port. It wasn't a bathroom it was a "head" and we needed lessons to run it. The boys and I were reminded not to throw feminine hygiene products down the bowl. We fought this urge all weekend long.

We motored up to a semi-secluded anchorage at the Sassafras river and spent the over night "on the hook". Of course we swam off the boat and the boys enjoyed jumping off the pulpit into the water below.

This was a lot different than the last time we were on L&R's Sailboat in 1998. The boys were 8 and 5 and the boat was their boat previous to this, a 34 ' Hunter. In those days the boys work up at dawn and being on a sailboat did not deter them from their early morning adventures. The only problem? No where to go on 34 ' sailboat so they ran up and down the Fiberglas deck. bop bop bop bop bop bop up the deck and bop bop bop bop bop down the deck.

They peered in the hatch said "hello!" they ran back down the deck.

This trip was a bit different since they are teenagers now and slept in until 9 and complained about missing sleep.

Here is a pic from 98 and the same crew from this trip.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Live aboard the Kukaro

Good Morning from the Kukaro. This morning we are pirates, wifi pirates.

We are still in the marina getting ready to get under way for the day. High tide is coming and we are fastening everything down. Captain Rick has hoisted the pirate colors and is giving naviation and sailing instrcutions to oldest son.

Overnight was comfortable as we slept in the huge "V" berth up front. The salon is huge as well and now Jimmy Buffet is playing as the diesel fires up.

Well I want to get up topside as we get going.

Bye for now.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The shed saga continues

It's been a while since I did a shed update and a lot has happened on this exciting topic.

Our last update was that the township approved the zoning variance and we thought that was the end of the story with the paper work.

However when we went to pick our pool tags for the community pool we were told that we couldn't because we had an outstanding Architectural Review Board (ARB) issue.

Follow me now as I show you the path that lead to me and my family not being able to use a pool facility that we pay for.

I have a shed. An ugly shed. I want to replace the shed.

I follow the process and ask the ARB if I can replace the shed. They say yes but the township must approve a zoning variance since the shed is too close to my property line. Never mind the fact that present shed is already too close to the property line and I am replacing a shed that looks like something that belongs on the Clampett's old property (before they found oil) with something that belongs in Disney's "it's a small world".

I pay close to $700 for a variance and it is approved.

Now because I requested a shed through the ARB and they never heard the final outcome, I can't use the community pool. Huh?

Now I need the ARB to approve what the Township did or I can't swim.

I believe this makes perfect sense but that is only because the largest financial investiment of my life is in the hands of crazy people and am in denial.

We submit yet another ARB request for a shed and that also is approved. Total time: 14 months.

Last Saturday we finally felt ready to engage a contractor to build an actual shed and headed off the Berlin Farmer's market.

The contractor was Amish.

I think. It may have been some sort ruse since I didn't see a horse and buggy out front and the place was air conditioned. They had beautiful sheds.

We talked with the salesman. We'll call him Elmer since that was his name. Elmer looked Amish. Sort of. He had one of those Amish beards with beard hair only from ear to ear under the chin. He also had no zippers - just buttons. But he had the strangest shirt. It was silky like a 70's disco shirt but with buttons.

Disco-Amish. Ah ah ah ah stayin' plain ah ah ah ah stayin' plain.

Great sheds. Wacky clothes.

Mrs F picked one with porch. Yes, I will have a shed with a porch. And a cupola with a rooster weather vane. And flower boxes.

In fact the only option she didn't get was the "it's a small world" mechanical figures for the porch and windows. Yes, it has windows. With shutters. I see a lot of seasonal decorating going on here. Pumpkins for the porch. Lighting. Christmas Lights. Giant hearts in February. All this for place to keep my lawnmower dry.

So today I took some time off work for, surprise! More shed paper work. I needed a permit for the Amish to build the shed.

So we are almost set.

The only thing that Elmer said that sort of alarmed me was "do you have a problem with us starting early?". So what is early to the Amish? Doesn't their normal workday start at 4 AM? Is 2 AM early?

No, they start at 6:30 AM on a Saturday.

I can only imagine a scene from the movie Witness with horse drawn wagons full of strapping Amish men driving up to my house to build me a place to put my rakes ( I have two rakes). Of course the just-as-big Amish women would need to come to make high-carbohydrate Amish food for lunch.

This seems like a lot effort for shed.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

One Hundred

I promised that if I got to 100 posts, I would post this story. Since this is the 100th post, here goes. It's long.

In 1978 I was living in Oak Harbor, Washington in the Pacific Northwest. I was in the Navy, being trained on the EA-6B aircraft. I was depressed. I was 19 and on my own for the first time. I was lonely.

I had a car, a 1971 Super Beetle, and my Navy friends and I would take rides to Vancouver and Seattle on weekends and drive into the hills when ever we could. The car was basically a big walkman with a 40 Watt stereo and the back deck loaded with speakers. This may have something to do with my hearing loss.

I would bring along my friend Gus and a friend I met through him, John Livingstone. When Gus left and went to sea with his squadron, I hung out mostly with John, taking our nightly road trips drinking, partying and playing music. I was still depressed but enjoyed the camaraderie.

One night, as was our habit, I stopped by John’s room before our nightly jaunt and he was watching the 700 Club on TV. I thought that this was a little weird for a guy whose life motto seemed to be “John Livingston: live stoned”. It was after all 1978.

I made fun of the program, I mocked it. “What are you doing watching, “Carson of Nazarath”? John just kind of took it stride. I can’t remember exactly what he told me but he explained what a free gift I was ignoring. He told me that in order to be in relationship with God I needed to “accept Jesus”.

I had no idea what this meant. I really didn’t.

He said you need to accept Jesus as your “savior”. More babble.

Up to this point Jesus was a guy who just made me feel guilty, really, really guilty. I grew up Catholic where the gospels are read in eye-dropper sized portions and only by the priest. They would read stories like the “rich young ruler” and I would feel nothing but guilt.

In this story, a man approaches Jesus and asks what he must do to enter heaven. Jesus tells the guy “obey the law and the prophets” I know what this means – the Ten Commandments. The guy tells Jesus “I have, since I was boy” Jesus tells the guy – and this is the kicker – “Then sell everything you have and then you will have eternal life”.

I kinda got stuck a “sell everything you have”. I grew up with lots of nice stuff. I had to sell everything I had? I had to be poor to live forever? Look, Jesus, you’re a nice guy and all, I love what you did with the loaves and the fishes, the storms, but I really like my new stereo.

The Catholic Traditions did nothing to explain this and any of the other Gospels to me. They really just made it more confusing. It was all about suffering and pain and pleasure was bad. There were a lot of rules.

But what John was telling me was different. This was free. It had very little to do with men in pointy hats rubbing oil on my head and “giving” me the Holy Spirit. It had very little to do with statues and stained glass. This was the direct program. You and God.

So that night we drove up to “mount” Erie in Skagit County. It is only 1300 feet high but it looks over some the most beautiful mountains and lakes. I liked to race the VW up the twisting switch backs that climbed the back side of the hill. The poor VW would smell like burning oil by time we would reach the top.

There in March, 1978 I spoke the words “I accept Jesus Christ as my savior”. I spoke them like they were a magical incantation. They were magic words that lead to a free gift.

I think John said something like “Cool” and that was it. We drove back to the Naval Air Station.

The very next day I found a book. It was a small, red book, with a hard cover. It was written by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Now, I didn’t know the JW’s from a moonie but I read the first part of the book.

It explained how God spoke to us by his Word, the Bible.

Catholics really don’t have Bibles. Priests have Bibles.

The book also explained the story of the Garden of Eden. God made man. He made him to be perfect and without sickness and death. God made woman to be a companion for the man. The woman disobeyed God and then the man had a problem. There was a moment, an instant in time, where the man had to choose. He had to choose between the perfect, good looking woman with him and what God said. God had said “do not eat from this tree” but the woman was tricked by of all things, a talking snake and ate from the tree.

The man had to choose. Stay on God’s side or side with the woman.

He chose poorly.

We all know what happens next.

But for me, that day, it was if I was blind and now I could see. I knew this really happened. This story jumped out at me. This was not a fable or an ancient myth. THIS REALLY HAPPENED. THERE WAS AN ADAM AND THERE WAS AN EVE. I couldn’t explain what made the difference to me that day, but I realized later over time what had occurred. I was different.

The book went on to explain how in order to reconcile God and man, Jesus needed to be an atonement. He needed to die in my place in order to make us whole again. All the missing pieces in me, physical, mind and spiritual would eventually be put back in place by Jesus. He would come and rule the Earth in a Kingdom.

This spoke to my heart. I knew this to be true in a new a vibrant way. I had joy knowing this.

That day I went to my friend John Shoemaker’s house. John was married and had two kids and lived way outside town in small house on highway 20.

I was ecstatic and I explained what had happened to me. “This is real!This is real! There really was an Adam and Eve. You have to know Jesus! He is coming and will have a kingdom and we are going to live forever and this is going to be great!”

John and his wife Bobbie looked at me like I had three heads and a tail.

I drove off confused. Why couldn’t they see like I did? Was I crazy?

I got a Bible. I read. I was fascinated to learn. I sucked it up like a sponge. A lot of it didn’t make sense to me but I read and read. Some of it spoke to directly to me.

Soon it was my turn to ship out and leave Oak Harbor. My squadron was assigned to the USS Saratoga in Mayport, Florida. So I went as the advance team to clean and get our ship’s spaces ready.

During these weeks, my eyes were continual opened as they had been with the small red, book. However, I lost the book somewhere along the lines. More likely I gave it to John and Bobbie but that is another story.

I was at sea. The world was whole new place to me. The sky never seemed so blue, the ocean so dynamic and vibrant. I was really, for the first time, alive. God loved me just as I was and I knew it.

I was drinking, but less, I smoked, cussed like a, well, sailor but I knew something that others didn’t seem to grasp. I was a child of the living God. At first I thought it was something I had figured out, but I began to realize that God in fact had opened my eyes. I looked at the men on the ship and realized men have not changed in thousands of years. These men would be equally at home on a Roman Ship of that period or a ship of Columbus’s time.

Man can’t change unless God changes him.

I prayed. I prayed for stupid things. I prayed and stupid things came true.

I was mopping floors with sea water, a common practice on ships at sea. I was mopping and the water was filthy. It was brackish, brown salt water. I recall praying that doing this job was depressing and that I need to see something beautiful, Lord.

I dumped the water onto a cat-walk 90 feet above the ocean. The wind was blowing and when I dumped the brown liquid, the wind took it and blew it up into a fountain and the sunlight caught it.

It was beautiful. The brown, brackish water was beautiful.

A chill went up my spine. God heard me. I didn’t speak any words. God heard my thoughts. He knew me and everything about me.

This image is forever impressed on my mind and over time I have come to realize that that water represented me. Dirty, brackish, ugly but that God could make it clean and beautiful.

That night I walked up on the flight deck and thanked God for what I had seen and understood that day and while looking up, a shooting star went by. It was like a wink from God. He knew and he heard me and he loved doing it for me. I was deeply, deeply, loved by God.

Another time I was down in the mess deck, eating and it hit me like a ton of bricks. God really loved people. He knew each one of them and loved them deeply as well.

These feelings were undeniable and came in waves over weeks of time. At the time I thought I was going to feel like this forever, but that also is another story.

I recall Joy, real God given Joy and understood how martyrs could have died knowing what they knew.

Later, the ship pulled back into port and my friend Shawn who lived in Orlando, invited me down. I hitchhiked down and on the way I met this girl. I hung out her and her friends for a while. We went to a concert. It was Bob Segar in an outdoor venue. We wandered around and may our way to the front. I remember seeing two people making love in the crowd. They were partially clothed but they were clearly making love in the crowd with people all around. They were drunk.

I recall distinctly that my feelings about seeing this act had changed. In the past I would have loved it. Ya! Go baby! How rebellious! But now I realized that they were rebelling against a Being that had only good in mind for them and he was quite powerful. He can make shooting star from a piece of debris hurtle across the solar system and plunk into the Earth’s atmosphere on demand. Rebelling against Him is a bad move. This was what got us in trouble in the first place you idiots! I was angry.

I began to realize there were things I did like this. I was shown this and slowing these things came off me like weights. I didn’t give up drinking, It just sort of fell off like an unneeded part. I wasn’t missing anything. I stopped smoking almost over night. I watched the words that came out of my mouth.

In the end, these few months and the events that took place in them would shape my life and it's direction more that I knew at the time. There have been ups and downs and sometimes I went more backwards than forward but in the end the net direction has been forward towards Christ. I'd like to tell you that everything was perfectly clear and I understood it all from that point forward but there are parts that still don't make much sense to me. Like TV Preachers. What is with that voice and that hair? But I digress.

Today I've come to learn that what happened to me has happened to a lot of people but not to everyone. I've learned that without that direct experience trying to explain what happened is like trying to explain a sunset to blind man. But I believe what happened to me can happen to anyone if they reach out to God. He is faithful and will reach out to you and make his presence know to you.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Not 100

I am disappointed.

It did not reach the "century mark" yesterday nor did it today. The weather forecast promised 101 and 102 for Tuesday and Wednesday but officially it only reached 98 yesterday and today.

While that is disappointing, I am happy that I did not have to work outside in that. I cut the lawn on Saturday and nearly died. It took hours for my body to cool back down even after a cold shower and a dip in the pool.

At my home weather station, the temperature reached about 102 yesterday and 100 today. I'm not sure how accurate that is though.

Thank God for Air Conditioning. I am not sure I could go back to living without A/C.

I grew up without A/C and lived. I remember electric fans in the house and sticking to the sheets at night.

I remember the cruelest invention of all time: the oscillating fan. If you have never seen one of these, it was fan that moved left to right and then back again. You would wait for the fan to come your way only to have it cool you briefly and move on. It hit you on the way back too but that wasn't satisfying.

here it comes, here it comes, here it comes. ahh! there it goes there it goes there it goes.

The greatest fan we ever had was the "whole house fan" at my parents home. Think of a fan on steroids but in the attic. There was a light switch in the upstairs hallway that fired this baby up. Once you turned the switch on, it would start turning this giant fan in the attic and it would open louvers in the hall and then it would suck everything not nailed down into the opening in the ceiling. My father would spend hours adjusting windows so that the flow would move just right through out the house. He would close windows upstairs and open the slightly in the kitchen and fully open in the den with the TV.

We used to joke that toilet needed seat belts.

The greatest whole house fan/window configuration of all time was an arrangement my father called "Castel Gandolfo". Named for the Pope's summer residence in Italy, all of the windows of the house were closed except for the door in the kitchen. Next, the kitchen table would be strategically moved so that my fathers chair was directly in front of the open door cooling him as all the air in neighborhood rushed by, up into the turning attic fan and back out into the neighborhood. I'm surprise that weather patterns weren't changed by all that moving air.

Years from now scientist may find the true cause of the rash of tropical storms and hurricanes we are now having: Castel Gondalfo.

Eventually my parents broke down and bought window Air Conditioners. First it was the den where the TV was. Next it was their bedroom. One year the basement got a heat pump/AC unit. And so it went until it seemed like there were dozens of these things. Every summer they went in and every fall they came back out. Of course they were stored in the basement and most were installed in bedrooms so there was an annual awkward duck walk carrying an Air Conditioner up 4 flights of steps, dragging your younger brother.

This was followed by the A/C clean and jerk. You would have to pick the A/C unit from the floor and throw it into perfect position, half hanging out the window in one clean motion, balanced perfectly on the storm window housing. I always thought it would make an excellent Olympic event.

I also thought one day we were just going to accidentally throw one out the window and watch it plummet 3 stories with the cord dangling behind it until it crashed into the patio.

In twenty years of A/C units that never happened.

My father is also very meticulous. Each Air Conditioner had it own set of screws that were used each and every year to fasten down the adjustable ears on the side that kept all the hot air out. None of the screws matched but they each knew their hole in the wood. Each A/C unit also had it's own insulation strip that was stuffed between the open panes of glass on the double hung windows. Each year the same insulation went with the same A/C.

Eventually my parents went and installed central A/C and the annual ritual ceased. Castel Gandolfo shut down too and now it's 65 degrees in my parent's house all the time.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sixteen Years ago today.

I woke up to "my water broke".

I guess today is the day then, no turning back now. It was summer and Mrs F was pregnant with Oldest Son. Until now it had been like sleeping next to a fiery furnace all summer long but now, now it was finally time. I had visions of 40 something hours of labor and I remember thinking "do you think we have time for a big breakfast" but wisely didn't say anything.

Off we went to the hospital for the birth of our first son.

We had been married for almost exactly 10 months on this day.

Eight months before I had woken up to "the stick turned pink". I told her "go back to bed and get some sleep, we are going to need it". I was right.

We argued about a pillow that morning. It was something called a "breakfast" pillow. It cost something in the neighborhood of $300 from Spiegel's. It matched all of our other bed apparel.

I did not want a $300 pillow anywhere near an infectious place like a hospital and she wanted it to comfort her. Like a teddy bear or something.

I should have let her have the stupid pillow.

We got to the hospital about the same time as about 14 other women in labor and would spend the day racing them for position as to who would give birth first. At about 11 AM the anesthesiologist showed up and asked a few questions. He asked if she had ever experienced numbness in her extremities.

She gave a bad answer - "yes".

The Doctor told her that she would not receive an epidural shot that day. No drugs. This was bad. She had been expecting drugs, lots of drugs.

She was given pitocin and hooked up to monitors that would tell when the contractions were coming. As one of the other mothers would move ahead they would take her off the pitocin and let the contractions happen naturally. It went like this all day.

I could see the monitors and she could not and the monitor foretold of the pain that was coming. I tried to keep a happy face but when the graph shot up, it was very difficult to keep a poker face.

At first we could see the head crowning. It seemed like hours that the head crowned and then finally his head popped out.

The nurses took him out and placed him under a heat lamp like a french fry.

I remember feeling holy as I watched my son on the table wrapped in blankets under the heat lamp.

I came out to the waiting room and found both our parents and told them that it was boy. I remember that they were surprised that it was all over and everything was fine.

That night I went home to an empty condo. I still felt holy.