May 07, 2006

nature callls


As I stood there entrapped by the involuntary need to void a body cavity of fluid waste, I suddenly became aware of hundreds of people milling around my plastic cubicle. Standing six feet tall, my head almost touched the ceiling so I could see my audience through the small holes in the air vents around the top of the port-a-potty.

Albeit they could not see me, I am certain they could hear any sounds of a flatulent nature that might have occurred while finishing my task.

My family was in Chicago yesterday to attend a fundraiser for the American Brain Tumor Association. It was a three-mile walk through one of the several picturesque parks that hug the shoreline of Lake Michigan in the Windy City. Registration was at 8:30 AM. The trip from Milwaukee was an hour and a half by automobile and I ingested a good deal of coffee during the trip. Upon arrival, I found it necessary to use a blue hut.

The episode reminded me of Tjilpi's marvelous description of his bush bidet. (Necessity IS the mother of invention.) In the middle of the wind-swept, fly infested Simpson Desert of the Australian Outback, he can, at least, take a crap in peace while squatting inches above the sand. In the middle of Diversey Harbor Park, I had to share the experience with all manner of human kind.

But civilization does have its advantages. I overheard a good joke coming from the outside while I was putting everything away. It went something like this:

I'm in a bar, having a few drinks, when I realize I gotta take a leak. So I go into one of the restroom stalls, and moments later, the guy in the next stall, says "Hi. How's it goin?" So, I go "Uhhh, all right." A couple of seconds later he says, "What are ya doin tonight?" So, naturally I replied, "Just havin' a couple of beers, and then I'm goin home." The next thing he says is, "Listen, I'll call you back later. There's an idiot in the next stall, answering everything I say."

Posted by roadapples at 06:09 AM | Comments (5)

April 05, 2006

girls night out


The wife was busy with something at her school and I was beat from a long day at my school. The last thing I wanted to do was fix dinner. It was a perfect time for an impromptu night out with my daughters at the local gyros stand. The food was good and the conservation was even better. While we were waiting for our food, my youngest daughter had to prepare invitations to her birthday party. After the food came, the topic turned to school.


"So how are things in school? Uh, Erin, if you want some soda, order some for yourself and leave mine alone."

"I love Biology dad but the teacher drives us crazy", said Breanna, the oldest.

"Oh really. Tell me more."

"Can I get a cookie for when I'm done", asked Erin.

"Get three", I replied. I didn't need the calories but I was caught up in the moment.

"Mr. Findley must be two hundred years old and he talks really soft and slow. He is always playing these films from the fifties. It has boys with rolled up pants legs and girls with weird hairdos. I swear I have to hold my eyes open like this to stay awake sometimes."


This was one of those moments a father waits for - a chance to impart some wisdom to his young and I was not going to blow it. I put down my fork, wiped the corners of my mouth, put a very thoughtful and serious look on my face, and prepared to say something very profound.

"Honey, Mr. Findley is a very fine teacher. He has many years of experience and you are lucky... hey where did my French fries go? Erin!"

"Yeah, yeah dad. Can I go to the jam fest on Friday night?", Breanna asked.

"We'll see. Did anybody see where my cookie went?"


Posted by roadapples at 07:26 AM | Comments (5)

March 21, 2006

elder blogger

Ronni at Time Goes By has made it official. Yep, I am an Elder Blogger. Funny, I don't remember when it happened. In my mind I am still 21 with the same hopes and dreams I have always had. I am still waiting for the call from National Geographic. They will ask me to go to the South Pacific with an assignment to do a photo essay on some newly discovered tribe full of half naked dark skinned women - or light skinned. I'm not picky.

I guess it was only a matter of time. I will be turning 58 in May and then it won't be long until I reach the big six oh. The letters from AARP wanting me to join their exclusive club should have been a clue that I was getting on in years but I have been resisting the thought until now.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against old people. I just don't want to be one. I still have a lot of living yet to do. I don't even have any grand kids yet.

Ok, ok, so I fall asleep as soon as CNN comes on the telly and, sometimes when I walk into a room I forget why I went there in the first place. And I must admit, it is nice when I get a Senior Citizen's discount at the liquor store where I buy my Bailey's Irish Crème.

Still, it is hard to accept that I am sliding into my "golden years". If you banned all mirrors, I would never know what is happing to me. Ignorance is bliss.

My teenage daughter tells she will keep me young - forever I hope. She always knows just what to say to cheer me up.

Posted by roadapples at 10:06 PM | Comments (6)

January 24, 2006

flip flop insanity

The Crazy Farm

Why does my daughter insists on wearing flip flops to school. It is Wisconsin. It is the middle of winter. It is freakin' cold out there and she wants to expose her toes.

When she was in middle school, she insisted on wearing shoes with three inch heels. I was constantly afraid she would fall off and plummet to the ground, breaking every bone in her body. Ok, maybe I was over reacting. That's what dads do.

Can anybody please explain this to me? I would send the question to "Useless Advice from Useless Men" but I am afraid the answer would be totally useless.

Posted by roadapples at 07:49 AM | Comments (8)

January 16, 2006


Don't feel sorry for him. He pooped on the throw rug by the front door, spilled a glass of milk that was left on the end table by the couch, rummaged through one of the girls' backpack until he found a left over Snickers bar, and tipped over the trash can in the kitchen spilling coffee grinds and orange peels all over the floor. He can sit outside for an hour.

No use, Charlie Brown, looking at me through the patio door with those big brown eyes; it won't do you a bit a good. And you can stop that barely audible moan of yours. Well ok maybe you can come in after you have served 30 minutes, if your good.

Yes I see you there with you tail tucked under you. Well, the trash wasn't that bad to clean up. Heck, the floor needed a good scrubbing and mopping anyway. Ok, you can come in after 10 minutes.

It must be cold out there huh Charlie Brown. That candy bar was bad for you but you seem all right. And the milk cleaned up nice and there were no stains on the hard wood floor. Ok you can come in after 5 minutes.

What was I thinking? It is way too cold out there for you. I am the worst pet owner in the world. Daddy's sorry. Come here boy. Yes, him is a good dog, him is.

Posted by roadapples at 07:55 AM | Comments (4)

January 07, 2006

poor season

I have no shame and I like to live my life a little dangerously. My wife said if I ever posted this photo, she would pack her bags and leave me. But she is not in the habit of reading this blog - not very often anyway. So if in the future you find that I am constantly whinning about the lack of clean skivvies and home cooked meals you will know why.

Last summer, I had an epiphany. It is not that we are both teachers and have no income in the summer or that I have way too much time on my hands. Well maybe it is. Mainly I can’t see spending 13 green-bucks for something that lasts about 2 minutes and looks like a full moon in November. The crown of my head is completely bald. I look like an old English friar. Besides, my wife did as good a job as a professional. I told herl where to cut and which size comb accessory to use. Lately, I have been doing the job myself. I don't have a recent photo because it is to hard to hold the clippers and the camera at the same. I am not that coordinated.

I have a few tips for those brave souls among you who want to do this at home:

1. Be careful when you come around the the top of the ears with bare clippers. Any slip or too much pressure, and you will be paying a visit to you local emergency room.

2. Be prepared for the sound of laughter when your friends find out. You will need skin like an alligator and a good sense of humor.

3. You will need to depend on your loved ones to tell you how it looks in the back. Be very careful because they may lie to you and tell you it is fine to increase the laughter from your friends. See tip #2.

Posted by roadapples at 10:27 AM | Comments (6)

January 06, 2006

you want funny?

Ferry across the Wisconsin River

As I travelled around the blogoshere this morning waiting for my students to arrive in their usual delightful mood, my mathematical mind unconsciously began to sort the blogs I found into some sort of esoteric and barely understandable table. The kind that only real eggheads with years of math science education padding their resume are able to read. This is what I came up:

1. funny 2. not funny

I don’t do funny. If you want funny try this one. Don’t get me wrong, I like funny but it’s not my style. Funny is for younger guys. They are still rebelling against the “man”, full of righteous indignation with fire in their bellies. Young Turks that can still remember when they were dragged into the principal’s office and forced to apologize for a school newspaper article that was dripping with sarcasm and critical of the principal’s stupid rules. Yes Steven John, I am talking about you.

I lost my biting sarcasm a long time ago or most of it anyway. It peaked at thirty five during my mid-life crisis when I bought a Honda 750 and nearly killed myself. It has been dwindling ever since. Now nothing surprises or shocks me except the wrinkled old man that keeps staring back at me in the morning. Now I live to embarrass my children. It is something I am very good at - a natural.

Posted by roadapples at 02:07 PM | Comments (3)

January 05, 2006

family tradition

Last night my oldest daughter asked, "Dad have there been a member of our family in every war?"

"Yes", I replied, "all the way back to the Civil War, as far as I can figure, there have been at least one if not more in every major war including Nam."

"Would you want me to enlist when I am older and fight in Iraq?"

Where did this woman child come from? Yesterday, she went shopping with her mom to buy a dress for winter formal. Today she asks me if I want her to go to some strange far off land on the other side of the planet and fight in a war I don't completely understand.

How do I answer her? I am a veteran and I come from a long line of veterans. Whether to seek adventure, fortune, or fame, my family has served as honorable as possible given the vulgarities of war. There is no honor in killing, even if it is to protect one's own. But this is my little darling daughter. I fed her, cared for her, and changed her shitty diapers. When she was 5, I held her hand as we walked to her first day of elementary school. I watched her grow from a gangly, little girl with more questions than I could answer in to a young woman of fifteen planning for college.

"No father wants for their children to fight and die in a war hon.", I said sheepishly.

But hell, if everyone felt like that, you couldn't get a decent war off the ground, as Archie would say.

Posted by roadapples at 01:38 PM | Comments (1)

December 30, 2005

ski trip

Came to ski but fate had other plans for me and mine. First, let me set the scene. Norway Mountain Ski Hill is the view in the top pan. In the photo below, the skier on the left is my daughter Breanna and the other is my niece Kathy. I brought my ski pants but Bre forgot hers. Being the great dad that I am, I gave her mine so I could not go skiing. No matter though, the crackling fire in the lodge's huge stone fire place looked more inviting than risking a broken bone or two. I brought Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck with me and was looking forward to reading it for the umpteenth time. After everyone disappeared down the slope, I busied myself for a cold winters nap by the fire.

As I was sitting there watching moms and dads dress their little ones for skiing with their little ski outfits and little ski boots, I began to think about my own. My youngest son Steven is 28. If I use the fingers on both hands and some advanced mathematics, I calculate as how he has been out of college for about six years, more or less. At Christmas dinner this year, he told me a story from his college days that he had neglected to tell me before. After hearing the story, I am glad he waited. The following is his story he calls "my first man drink" and I quote:

"In my second year of college, I was voted editor of the school paper and a bunch of us went out to one of the local drinking establishments to celebrate. A fellow female reporter offered to buy me a Statue of Liberty. That is a double shot of Schnapps. First you put your finger in the glass and wet it. Then you set your finger on fire and quickly drink the double shot. After which, you put out the fire. After downing the drink, I immediately did not feel good and sat down with my buddies. The more I sat there, the sicker I became. One of my friends was talking to two really good looking girls and looked like he was getting somewhere when I completely lost it. I barfed all over the table, floor and any thing else with in three feet. The girls bolted for the door and my friend never saw them again."

I know of what you are thinking; this is a sins of the father kind of thing. I'll save that for another post and another time.

I was sitting by the fire chuckling to myself when a neighbor of my brother-in-law, another member of our ski party, came in and said my daughter was at the bottom of the hill in the Ski Patrol hut. They (the Ski Patrol fellows) wanted to know if I could take the road down around the hill to the bottom where their hut is located and pick her up. He also told me her ski had caught the edge of some snow and she had taken a bad tumble. Her knee was in a lot of pain, and she could not walk unaided. Broken bone you ask? No the doctor said it was a severe knee strain and she would need to be on crutches for a spell. Just another story to tell my grand children some day.

Click on photos for larger views

Posted by roadapples at 09:37 AM | Comments (1)

December 21, 2005

girlie house

In my next life I want to live in a house full of men. Which means I will be single (possible), female (not possible) or a homosexual (out of the question). Oh sure they look cute and cuddly in this snap from 1994 but don't let that fool you. They were eleven years younger then; now they are teenagers and that means I live with one grown and two almost grown women. My life is pure misery.

Guys don't worry about wet towels on the floor or a few paper plates and cups left on the end tables over night after watching a football game or a good shoot 'em up. With guys, I wouldn't have to put up with every episode of "Friends" ever made on the telley, girlie things in the bathroom or long blond hairs all over my clothes. The women I live with complain about a few tiny insignificant grey whiskers in the sink. I mean they are hardly noticeable. I don't even see them if I don't have my specs on.

And I have to contend with female hormones dripping all over the house and puddelling in the women spaces where they tend to gather. They squabble with each other over the smallest things then they make up and get all huggie and kissie. Ya ya, I know I sound like a male chauvinist pig. But guys don't worry about silly things like feelings. All we need is "how's it going dude?" once a day and we're good to go.

I wouldn't even miss the good night kiss from each of my women at bedtime. I don't think I would miss the "I love you, pops" and peck on the cheek in the morning before I go to work. I almost forgot about the breakfast in bed on fathers day with the scramble eggs and cheese just the way I like them. Maybe I should reconsider more carefully how nice it is sometimes after a long day at school when my youngest sits on my lap and says with that special smile, ” how was your day dad”. Excuse me a minute; I seem to have something in my eye.

On second thought, I think this life is as good as it gets; please forget what I just wrote.

Posted by roadapples at 09:12 AM | Comments (6)

November 23, 2005

farm boy


Like I always tells ya, Johnny boy, life ain't fair. If it were, teachers would get a decent wage and ball players would get peanuts. If life were fair, the good guys would always come in first and right would always win out, but we know that ain't so. I'll tell ya somthing else; there are two kinds of people in this world. There are the haves and the have nots. In most countries, if you were born in one then chances are slim to none that you could move to the other. But t'ain't so in the good ole US of A.

Now you take me for instance. I was one of the haves when I was brought into this world. When I got married to your grandma, Elsie, my dad gave me 80 acres and a house. It was a good farm too with good rich bottom land and a fair stand of timber. We always had plenty of fire wood for the winter and there was peach and pear trees. With the vegetables we raised in the truck patch and the fruit from the orchard, we canned food enough to keep us through the winter.

But it takes more than hard work to work a farm. It takes a little brains and luck too. I was short on one and, in the thirties when the depression hit, I did not have much of the other. I watched my kids almost starve to death. Slowly, season after season, my spirit died a littke bit more every time we had to go on relief. I was never the same after that.

But you, on the other hand, was definitely one of the have nots from the moment you were born. This picture was taken shortly after your mom dropped you off at our doorstep. It was 1952 and you must have been about three months shy of your fourth birthday. The only clothes you owned were the ones you had on your back. We had to cut down your uncle's overalls for you to wear. Your mom went to St Joe to find work and tried to send money home for you and your brothers but life was hard for a single mom in those days. There was no welfare like we have now.

Now you mind what I say and remember your roots, Johnny boy, when life gets you down and you don't think it can get any worse. I am glad to see you turned it around and I will always be here pulling for ya.

Posted by roadapples at 02:36 PM | Comments (1)