Thursday, May 06, 2004

Blown Away

Happy Birthday to me!

Today started out pretty typical, but ended with a huge bang! LMJ stopped by on her way to school, as is becoming her custom, for a cup of coffee and some toast. We talked a little. I went back to bed when she left. EFJ called me to wish me happy birthday, which was so sweet, as did my friend Lisa. Then I got up, piddled here on the computer a little, got a haircut, went to Target, bought a new CD (Casting Crowns - incredible, I highly reccommend it), bought some frozen fruit, the headed home to see my kids when they got out of school.

After I took the kids to their mom's, I got ready for dinner, because Lisa was gonna take me out for dinner on my birthday. When I got to her house, she had a couple of gifts on the table for me, which was so sweet. They were shorts, a really cool Hawaiin shirt, and some sandals. She asked me if I'd please try 'em to see if they fit. The did, they looked good, so I wore them and we went off to dinner. As we were leaving, some of her family members were coming over to watch the newborn baby while we were gone. They all said happy birthday, I said thank you, and we left for dinner.

We had a really nice dinner at Chevy's, and talked for quite a while. Then we headed back to Lisa's house. I came in the house, and was talking to Lisa, not really paying attention to things around me, when I heard someone yelling something. Now, this is not abnormal for her place. Someone is always laughing or yelling something or talking or whatever. So, I pushed this thing that was hanging from the doorway out of my face as I talked to Lisa, and I notice she was just kinda staring at me.

"Don't you notice anything?" she asked me.

I looked around, and her daughters yelled "surprise!" again. Then I noticed the streamers and decorations all over the house. That thing that was in my face was a party decoration hanging from the ceiling! They were throwing me a surprise birthday party!!

Oh my goodness, as I looked around, there were streamers all around the living room and dining room. There was a big card on the wall they'd all signed (by "they" I mean, Lisa, her kids, her sister's family, her mom.... there was about 10 people there in all). The table was all decorated with a black table cloth and orange place settings, and all kinds of remarks about being old! They sat me down, Jenni (Lisa's oldest daughter) brought out the cake with 40 actual candles, and you know what? It put off some HEAT! It was HOT! I blew the candles out in one mighty breath. After cake and ice cream I had to sit down in the living room and open MORE presents.

I was completely and utterly blown away. Lisa is one of the most compassionate people I've ever met. She matches that with an insane enthusiasm for "doing" for other people. For her, and her extended family, to get together and throw me a surprise birthday party, well.... I that was one of the most generous things anyone has ever done for me. Makes me very glad to have met her and her troupe. They are good people, and I count myself blessed for being their friend.

What a great 40th birthday.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow, and another birthday get-together with my kids and their mom. She and D have been gracious enough to have me over for some birthday goodness, and I appreciate it very much.

Coolest Music Video Ever

You've got to check out this music video. It is the coolest video I've ever seen. Completely family safe, I guarantee you'll say "wow" when it's done.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Approaching the big Four-Oh

Ya know, I said this whole "turning 40" thing wasn't tripping me, and it's really not, but it has made me a bit introspective. I've been thinking a bit lately about life, what I've done with it, and where I should go from here.

I was born at 6:50 am on May 6th, 1964 at Arcade Hospital at Del Paso Blvd & Arcade Blvd in Sacramento. My mom remembers what time because the doctor told her to hurry up and push me out, because he had a surgery scheduled for 7am. The hospital is no longer there. My parents lived in a house at 28th & C streets, across from Stanford Park (yes, by the city dump). That house is no longer there. One of my earlierst memories is standing in a play-pen in front of the window looking out at the park and hearing trains on the tracks behind the baseball field. (I believe the world was still in black & white at the time, or so my memories tell me. It's a psychological oddity that i don't have any "color" memories until we got a color TV in the house where my parents live now, about 1970 or so.)

1964 was 5 years before Apollo eleven landed on the moon. Ten years before Nixon resigned. Eleven years before the end of the Vietnam War. I think about those historical events and think, 'they were a long time ago." But ya know, the oddest comparison that really wigs me out is that I was born only 19 years after the end of World War II. Just 19 years. That's that same time span as 1985 to now. WWII is freakin' ancient history, and I was born just 19 years after it ended! WWII was still "current events" to many people living when I was born. I'm officially Old.

Oh, and my sister sent me my first true "you're getting pretty damn old" birthday card today. No, I mean it. That was the caption inside the card. "You're getting pretty damn old." Hehehe... I had to laugh.

Oh, well, to celebrate my pre-birthday day, I took a drive up Hwy 65 toward Camp Far West lake. I hadn't driven up Hwy 65 in over 15 years, and now I remember why. It's dismal up there. Lincoln is growing like crazy, but outside of that, it's crappy farm and ranchland that's as depressing as pictures of the old Dustbowl towns in depression era Oklahoma. No wonder the Indians that run Thunder Valley got the land they did. No one else wanted it. Ugh....

Camp Far West was thoroughly depressing, too. I usually love lakes and rivers. In fact, I DID like the lake itself. But the campgrounds were, like.... I dunno... Dustbowl comes to mind again. If you like dismal, dreary camping in a place that is bound to be just as hot as Sacramento in the summertime, this is your lake. Plenty of trash cans to hold the empty beer bottles from the drunken boaters.

I did find a $5 bill in one of the trash cans, though. I threw my sandwich wrapper away, and there was a nice, crisp, new $5 bill at the bottom. Naturally, I dove in after it, and worried about my dignity later. Hey, it bought me a milkshake on the way home.

Anyway, having completed my 40th year on this planet, I seem to like it more and more. I think I'll stay and explore it a little bit more. Just not Lincoln....

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Friends and Family

My parents are important to me. They gave me an incredible start in life, and keep giving me the best gift any child can have: stability and unwavering love.

I spent most of this morning working around my parent's house, doing little odd jobs for them that they are just getting too old to do themselves. I cleaned out their garage (which was actually quite fun because I got to use the leaf blower and just blow the leaves & dust out.... I love power tools), laid down a couple of strips of Pergo flooring in the garage so they don't have to walk on the cold concrete, changed some lightbulbs up on the roof. Then dad and I went out to breakfast/lunch after that, at about 11:30, and drank our usual coupla pots of coffee. Went over to Home Depot to get some weather stripping for the bottom of the garage doors and some sprinkler heads. Then we went back home and I nailed on the weather stripping while dad (yes, blind dad) dug up the broken sprinkler head and replaced it by himself!

I often do little things like this for my parents. I do it out of love and loyalty and kindess. They just seem to be the kinds of things a son should be doing for his parents as they grow old. But I was just blown away when mom and dad gave me a gift today. Now, my birthday is Thursday, but mom was very clear: this is not a birthday present. It's a thank you gift. Their way of saying thank you for doing so many little things around the house and helping them out.

That about knocked me over. I do these things because I feel like I SHOULD be doing them, because of the good parents they've been to me, and all the times they've helped ME. When they do things like this for ME, it just helps me to realize what good people they are and how lucky I've been in my life to have pretty decent parents.

This evening I had a good friend over. She and her kids came over, along with a 2-week old foster daughter (actually more like 12 days old), and had dinner and used The Gift my parents gave me to make dessert. Afterward we watched a movie (The Fighting Temptions, which has great music, and I'll go ahead and say it here in print, if Beyonce ever knocks on my door, you will likely never see me again!), and during the movie I got to hold the little baby. Her name is Shawna, and she is just darling. I fed her a bottle, and bounced her on my chest with the music for over and hour (no, she didn't spit-up!). She was wide awake and looking all around. She seemed pretty comfortable with me. I had such a good time. Mind you, I have NO desire to have more children of my own, but that doesn't mean I don't like children. It is such a joy to hold and play with a new-born baby. They remind me of the miracle of life, and just how precious it is.

It was nice having adult company, too. My friend's daughters are 16 and 17, so they're pretty self-reliant. We all had dinner, hung out and enjoyed the movie, had a few laughs, played with the baby, and then it was time to go home.

Days like this remind me how important family and friends are. I sometimes neglect them, and it's sad that I do. I've never really known how to be a good friend, because it takes a lot of work.

Days like this remind how rewarding that work can be, and why it's important.

Oh... the gift was a smoothie maker - one of those cool ones w/the spout on the bottom so you can just pour it into your glass without taking the blender off the pedestal. Pretty cool....

Sunday, May 02, 2004

I'm a troll

Ok, I thought I was Elron from LOTR. Turns out I'm not.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Melancholy Days

Yes, yes I'm still alive, if a bit neglectful of this. Troy, 5% and you have a deal.

I turn 40 next Thursday........ 40. That's Four-Oh. Four decades. 14,600 days. 350,400 hours. 21,024,000 minutes. And, yes, 1,261,440,000 seconds. Over a billion seconds.

I guess it's been on my mind. Not so much that 40 is a big deal. It's really not. I'm not tripping on being "old" (any comments on age will bring immediate and swift retribution). I've been 39 for a year. I think I can deal with the 24 hours that take me from 39 years and 364 days to the magic 40 years. I feel great.

But it's a milestone of sorts.

This entire year will be a milestone for me and my whole family. I turn 40, EFJ turns 18, LMJ turns 16, CLJ turns 13. I'll file my divorce and get it finished. My mom turns 75. Its odd how the numbers seem to line up some years.

So, turning 40 has been on my mind a bit. I was at work a few weeks ago, and made some comment about a guy I had to interact with, I forget where, but I mentioned that he was a 25 year old kid. Ryan perked his ears, chuckled at me and said, "Kid?" Point made.

It's funny when I look back 15-20 years ago, and think about where I was then and what I knew then, and contrast it against where I am now and what I know now. There's really no comparison. I wish there was some way for the 40 year old me to go back to 1989 and have a sit down with the 25 year old me and give him a little bit of wisdom from the future. Not that it would have done any good. I'd have done what I wanted to anyway, since I thought I knew freakin' EVERYTHING when I was 25. But then, didn't we all?

I guess that's what growing older is all about. Learning. Wisdom. Sore backs. Bunions.

And now, with EFJ turning 18 and seriously stretching her wings and itching to be out on her own, I find myself wanting to have that sit-down with her, knowing that if I did, it wouldn't do that much good. She's gonna learn lessons on her own, just like we all did, for the most part. I guess I do what my parents did when I was her age: pray a lot; be there when she needs to talk or needs help; kick her a$$ if she does something truly stupid; and love her no matter what.

Wow, that was old and meloncholy enough for 2 nights!