My wife’s birthday (or, my boss watches out for me)

Before I left work today, I stopped by my supervisor’s newsroom desk.

For some reason, the conversation turned to my wife’s birthday.

When I mentioned that it’s this week, he gave me a concerned side-eye and asked, “Did you take the day off?”


My wife’s birthday (or, my boss watches out for me)

For crying out loud, it’s February!

This time of year, I should still be wearing a winter coat to walk our big dog Rodney. Maybe even some gloves to keep my fingers toasty, topped off with a knit cap – or as we call them here in West Virginia, a toboggan.

Not today.

Shortly after I got home from work, I changed into some clothes more suitable for the weather. Here’s what I wore:

  • a decrepit pair of tennis shoes that I’ve had for years. They used to be a nice, bright white.
  • the black socks I wore to work (I know, I should have stripped them off because … tennis shoes. I was too lazy).
  • an olive-colored pair of shorts.
  •  a sky blue button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up (I’ve been wearing it since I left for work this morning. I starched it myself yesterday evening.)


  • My dark blue Washington Nationals baseball cap.

My phone says it’s 66 degrees outside.

The skies today are as blue as my shirt and the sun is bright. But it’s near the end of February. There should at least still be a chill in the air.

If the weather remains this way, I might have to break out my blue Crocs to wear with my black socks.

Don’t tell my wife. She’d just be embarrassed.

For crying out loud, it’s February!

From the “never works the first time” file

The garage door opener I keep in my car actually worked the first time I clicked it this morning.

That never happens.

Usually, I have to press the button on the remote at least a couple dozen times before I get any sort of satisfaction. It’s infuriating, especially when you’re running late.

Even more annoying?


Over-clicking happens when you look away momentarily only to have the doors begin moving. Or when you click so fast and so furious it’s hard to stop in time.

Just one extra click brings the whole process to a halt and the garage door apparatus goes back to “ignore” mode. It’s as if one of our cats has somehow seized control and is deciding at random on when to allow the doors to move.

I’ve sat in my car time and again and over-clicked. My index finger hurts just thinking about it.

The problem is with the remote control. It’s decrepit. When it’s not falling apart in my hand, it’s not signaling the doors to open properly.

Replacing it is the obvious thing to do. But that would require I spend a little money and I’m too cheap for that.

So at least for now, if you see me sitting in my car outside my house for no apparent reason, you know why. And keep your fingers crossed that I don’t over-click.


From the “never works the first time” file

Car update

In case you were wondering – yes, I did the happy dance Friday evening.

My car is parked in its customary spot in the garage.

Knowing it’s there waiting for me to take it out for a spin completes me. I’m back to being able to go anywhere I want, when I want – a welcome change after driving a rental that made me feel as if I needed to keep it as pristine as my wife keeps the house just before her parents come over for a visit.

It’s hard to believe my car spent much of last week at the body shop. Our college son came home for the holidays, wrecked it and then fled back to school leaving me to deal with the aftermath.

But that’s in the past.

My wheels are mine again.

There’s just one catch.

My car has a new odor.

I’d like to report that the body shop guys restored that “new car” smell while they were installing a new front bumper and fixing the crinkle in the hood.

But I can’t.

It’s more like that “new paint” smell.

I doubt the fumes are strong enough to get me arrested for driving under the influence, but for the time being, I’m driving around with the windows cracked.

It may be cold outside, but I just got my car back. The last thing I need is my driver’s license taken away.



Car update

Christmas trees mean never having to set an alarm in the morning

Maybe it’s the excitement of the holidays.

Maybe it’s the crazy hours radio people keep.

Or maybe my body clock is simply shifting as I get older.

For whatever reason, twice this week I rolled out of bed at 4:00 a.m.

That’s actually not so unusual when you take into account my 1:00 a.m. workday wake-up call. But I’m whining about it because it happened ON. MY. DAYS. OFF!

The first time, I shrugged it off as an anomaly, flipped on the coffee pot and complained about the hour on Facebook.

I did the same thing the second time.

If it happens again next week, I may go see my doctor.

Then again, my inability to sleep like a teenager lately may not turn out to be a medical condition. Age and work hours notwithstanding, I suspect it may have something more to do with our Christmas tree.

We’ve been cutting down our tree at the same farm for years and this year was no different. The annual trip out there is a pleasant family tradition. It helps mark the start of the season for us.

Other families apparently feel the same way.

The farm was a popular place to be on the day we drove out there. It was crowded with people choosing from among the spruce, fir and pine trees arranged in long rows on the hillsides of the spacious farm. Others had already made their choices and were tying down their trees on top their cars or securing them in the bed of their pickups.

After we finally found a spot to park, I grabbed our saw and set off  with my wife and our daughter. We walked to the same general area we seem to go every year while casting a critical eye over the available trees.

There were skinny ones and plump ones, trees that were too short and trees that were too tall and, to make like Dr. Seuss, others that would not do at all. A few were found wanting because they had a gap in their foliage. Others because they leaned too far to one side or the top didn’t meet our preference.

In the end, we chose what we believed to be a nice looking tree. And if you won’t take my word for it, ask the neighbor who walked by when I was hauling it into the house.

After he complimented our choice, I thanked him. But then I joked that it wouldn’t be such a great tree if it refused to stand up.

We both had a good laugh, but I was being serious. I’ve had all sorts of trouble over the years with Christmas trees falling down and others that made my right eye twitch because they would not stop leaning precariously as if they were wavering on the edge of a cliff.

For now, this year’s tree seems solid enough. It’s standing tall in our living room, fully decked out in the decorations we’ve accumulated over the years.

But I can’t escape the fear of another Christmas tree calamity. And, it’s apparently such a worry that it’s jerking me awake before my time.

Christmas trees make me THAT paranoid, so I guess I’ll just have to get used to rising early this holiday season — whether I want to or not.

Christmas trees mean never having to set an alarm in the morning

What NOT to do at the Macy’s Parade

If there is one thing I learned following our Thanksgiving trip to New York City for the Macy’s Parade, it’s this – don’t abandon your wife for a hot cup of coffee.

I made that mistake.

I will never make it, again – not that I’ll necessarily have the opportunity. My wife will likely see to that. And in any case, we probably won’t ever have as good an excuse to join the huge Macy’s crowd as we did this year.

My wife and I gave up the traditional turkey dinner for the bright lights of Manhattan to see our son, the college freshman, march in the Macy’s Parade with his crew – the nearly 400 other members of the West Virginia University Mountaineer Marching Band, more popularly known as The Pride of West Virginia.

The Pride had the honor of kicking off the parade, leading a long line of other bands from around the country, plus the floats carrying celebrities we were barely familiar with, and giant balloons of cartoon characters we generally recognized. And of course, Santa and his reindeer brought up the rear to herald the Christmas season.

But I almost mucked up the whole thing because – coffee.

I’m actually a latecomer to the joys of coffee. Despite the round-the-clock work schedule of a radio journalist, I didn’t really start brewing it regularly as part of my daily wake-up routine until several years ago.

Now, I’m a zealot – a convert who can’t do without a steaming mug, or in this case, a sturdy take-out cup.

Which is why I developed coffee envy shortly after we found the parents of another WVU band member. My wife had made plans to meet them along the parade route..

After greeting each other and enthusing about having kids in the Macy’s Parade, I zeroed in on a woman making her way through the press of people that lined our side of the street. She was using one of those handy carriers to deliver several take-out cups of coffee to a group standing near us.

The temptation was too much to overcome.

I sidled over to her and conspiratorially asked, as one coffee enthusiast to another, for directions to the nearest coffee shop.

I then did the polite thing and asked if anyone in our group wanted a cup before setting off with our daughter, who is never one to refuse a warm, cozy drink.

The walk to the coffee shop passed without incident. The only thing that briefly troubled me was having to cross the parade route in order to get where we were going.

I should have been more than briefly troubled. I should have been downright alarmed.

On our way back with a well-stocked coffee carrier of my own, I joked with our daughter about the possibility that we wouldn’t be allowed to cross back over to her mom’s side of the street.

But the joke was on me. New York’s finest really weren’t allowing anyone to cross the parade route.

My daughter and I weren’t the only ones stuck on the wrong side of the street. There were other stranded coffee addicts, too. And, no amount of pleading with the police helped. They remained unmoved, even when I tried to appeal to the married officers among them by whining that I couldn’t just leave my wife to watch the parade without us.

I was just starting to resign myself to a difficult drive home when I overheard one helpful officer say he believed his colleagues a few blocks away may be more sympathetic.

He was right.

We had to go well out of our way, but after what seemed like an eternity, we finally broke through and made it across the street.

And, not long after we rejoined my wife, The Pride marched by playing their signature tune, “Country Roads.” .

I was never happier to hear that song. And thankful to be standing near my wife as we yelled at our son as he marched by.

And I learned an important lesson.

If you are compelled to cross the street for a stupid cup of coffee just before a parade watched by millions kicks off, make your wife go with you.

What NOT to do at the Macy’s Parade