Sunday, October 27, 2013

Savannah … We Will Return

We met one of Nikki's nurses last night. She was a lot like Kristin Wiig's character, Penelope, on SNL … you know the one that always has to one-up everyone?

She was very excited to tell us everything that happened in her life whether we asked her or not..  The conversation went like this:

Nikki (to me): "Dad … now drive safely going home …"

Nurse (interrupting): "Where are you going?"

Me: "Um … St. Pete  …"

Nurse : "I've been to St. Pete, many times …"

Me: "That's nice. Now Nikki …"

Nurse: "Got a sister who lives in Brandon and a niece in Tampa …"

Me: "I see … Steven, are your parents coming …"

Nurse: "I was at Tampa General …"

Me: "Oh really … me too …"

Nurse: "I was there many times and then I went to Sarasota … Did I tell you about the women in my family who lived past 100 and the men who died young?" (What a surprise.)

Nikki put the blanket over her head. I wish I had the blanket after the nurse started her next round of Penelope-isms. Okay, full disclosure … it wasn't for Penelope … it was for when she finished breastfeeding.

Anyway … this morning we picked up breakfast at Atlanta Bread Company.

I ordered four egg and cheese sandwiches on sesame bagels for Nikki. Steven, Debbie and me. The server asked,  "What kind of sesame bagel? We have two types."

"Two types? Really? I didn't know there were two types. "

"Yes," she said. "One has white seeds and one is black."

The other server interrupted her and announced that the black one is poppyseed.

I said,  "I'll take the white."

She was punching in the order on the cash register (which took about 10 minutes) when she suddenly stopped and asked, "Would you like cheese on that?"

"On my egg and cheese sandwiches? Yes, I would."

She said, "Okay … Good."

After breakfast, we said a sad goodbye and headed home. We stopped at a gas station to fill up. Inside we gathered important food items for the road … cookies, chips, nuts … healthy stuff. We had a hard time getting to the register because huddled in front of a television screen on the wall were about four people intent on watching the "show".  When we got close enough to see what was on … we realized it was the security monitor of the outside gas pumps at the station … THERE WAS NO ONE IN FRONT OF THE CAMERAS.

I'm glad we made the trip. We got to meet some of Savannah's finest citizens. But … of course the best of the best was my new little grandson … Cole Benjamin Cohen.

Can't wait to come back … soon.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Birthday Gifts

Did I tell you about my grandson?

Oh I did? Too bad ... I'm gonna talk about him some more. Today, Deb and I got more mileage (literally) with Cole. Last night he did his first poop with me and his first spit up with Deb. So this morning ... he was exhausted. His mom even said he lost interest in his food source for a few minutes.

We came bearing gifts.

Super soft and cuddly bear was first out of the box. Second was monogrammed spit up cloths.

We also got Cole some pretty sweet kicks ...

... And a cool book :"Goodnight NOLA" that we picked up months ago in New Orleans at Maple Street Bookstore. "Goodnight Beans and rice ... Goodnight crawfish ... Goodnight Bunny bread ..."

A One-sie (or two-sie or ... what is that anyway?) Oh well ... its pretty cute.

You know they tell you the best part about being a grandparent is that you can give them back...

I'm not so sure I agree!

Yes ... I Cannot Tell a Lie. He Is Brilliant

Just call me Pa Pa.

This is my grandson, Cole Benjamin. He was born yesterday at Memorial Hospital in Savannah, Georgia. His mom, Nicole, is my oldest daughter. This is the first child for Nikki and her husband, Steven. It's also the first grandchild for me.

Now, I'm not one of those obnoxious grandparents who brag about their grandchildren and put them up on a pedestal. I am a realist. I will tell you the truth about my grandchild ... no false claims ... just the facts.

Here are the facts:

1. Cole is one the most brilliant children I have ever seen. At one day old ... he can recite the alphabet.

2.The nurses have told us that he is the favorite among his peers. The other babies check with Cole to see what he is doing before they poop or spit up.

3. He is also the most beautiful baby alive.

4. There is no doubt that Cole exhibits supernatural powers.

5. He looks and acts exactly like me.

6. Oh ... I forgot ... Debbie told me that Cole said her name. (But Debbie does hear voices).

You know, it truly is a magical experience meeting your first grandchild.

I am a lucky guy.

Oh ... Did I tell you that Cole walked over to shake my hand?


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Trick ... or ... Trick

I know what I'm going to be for Halloween. The Phantom of the Opera!

You see ... I have a close bond with the Phantom. His mask covers the exact locations on my face and head that are numb.

But unlike the Phantom ... my "numb" mask will one day (hopefully) go away.

Unfortunately, I now have something that the Phantom doesn't have ... I am overshunted. No, not oversexed, overextended or overruled ... I am overshunted.  There is no costume for that one.

My shunt, which was inserted when my cerebral fluid was working overtime and causing swelling in my brain, is now working overtime itself ... draining the fluid too quickly causing me to be overshunted. The fluid drop creates some pretty bad headaches because my brain bounces around in less liquid. So I have to lie down more often to get the fluid back up.

The fun continues.

There's an answer for this. I can have the shunt capped off or removed at this point. BUT (yes there always is a BUT ...) I am on a blood thinner and can't be taken off that for 6 months. Surgery has a risk when you are on blood thinners so ... I can wait 6 months or accept the risk ... I will probably opt for the low risk/high reward. Cap the shunt and save my brain.

This was going to be a funny entry but I forgot what I was going to joke about. I better lie down so I can remember!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Cedar Key: Bye Bye

On our way home ...

As we pass through towns like Crystal River, Inglis and Withlacoochee traveling down Hwy 19, we have passed about 10 "Stroke" billboards, Apparently ... this part of the country is either very health savvy, filled with large medical centers or populated with lots of high risk fat people who smoke and eat fatty food. I vote for the latter … although I did spot a walk-in cliic for farm animals and their owners.

Speaking of farm animals, there was an ad during the Wake Forest game that featured two farmers and a sheep dog. One of the farmers was talking about how lonely he was. His dog told him he should look for a woman on Seriously … no SNL lie … it's a REAL thing.

Not sure whether it aired across the country or only in Cedar Key.

We stopped for a bite to eat in Withlacoochee. It was a breakfast place that attracted hunters so we knew the meals were gonna be big and delicious. We were right.

Sitting next to us was Ned Beatty's pig farmer. He was also the model for the wig and cap place we posed for pictures on Day 2.

In front of us was a family of hunters: grandpa, grandma, a daughter and a grandson. I'm just guessing, of course. Grandpa could have been married to any one of them.

They were all in camouflage so it would be hard to tell.

Debbie just told me that I managed to insult everyone today.  She wanted me to change "fat" to "overweight". THERE ,,, that is much better. Sorry if any of you were insulted by this … If you were, don't visit Cedar Key.

If you weren't … remember I am an equal opportunity OFFENDER!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Cedar Key: Day 3

I didn't make it to the Seafood Festival.

I was not in great shape this morning when I woke up. We had a long day and night of eating too much and telling lies. There were stories that lasted us all weekend ... like Ernest Borgnine's secret to a long life. It was verified on the internet ... look it up. A hint: it's not what you think but at 93 ... he was quite impressive.

I stretched out on the couch to watch college football while the rest of the gang fought the crowds (estimated at 30,000 by the Chamber of Commerce). 

Not long afterward, the gang returned with lengthy critiques and pictures to prove their case. 

There was a parade ... three floats and a dozen beads. The featured "float" was an airboat emblazoned with "Lord ...  save our souls" or something like that ... maybe it was "Lord ... show us your ...." 

There were vendors lining the streets. This shot was from a booth selling men's aprons with sayings like: "It's Not a Party until the Wiener Comes Out" or "Danger Hot Meat". 

The seafood festival was really just two trucks with two long lines of patrons. Our group gave up ... They ate at home. There were far less than 30,000 people attending although there were probably a thousand waiting to get served in the two lines.

The sad truth is ... Cedar Key (once the largest port in the state) has gone through tough times. Hurricane damage and devastation of the seafood industry has blighted the city. 

It's our last night here and we celebrated the twins' birthdays by fixing a big seafood/ low country boil. The guys cooked sausage, corn, crawfish, shrimp, onions and potatoes. 

Good times!  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Cedar Key: Day 2

Slept well last night. The only sounds were rumblings of a train or late night traffic outside. Found out in the morning it was neither ... It was Doug.

We awoke to coffee, scrambled eggs and turkey bacon. The women cooked and the men cleaned.

The plan for the day was to sightsee downtown, rent a pontoon boat and pick up seafood and produce for dinner (not deer corn).

Doug negotiated the pontoon deal. A three hour tour (Gilligan would be happy) ... actually not a tour at all.

We drive the boat and bring it back at 6PM. The boat had seen better days. Top speed was about 5 MPH and we were in hog heaven.

Seafood purchase was handled along the side of the road. A couple of pounds of shrimp, stone crab claws and an old guy with a beat up guitar rang us up.

We strolled along the waterfront looking in the shops ...

Tee shirts ...

Caps and wigs ...

Bars and interesting sights ...

And plenty of time for our 3 hour tour ... the girls in front ...

The boys in back ...

Mark went swimming (well I would call it more like floating with his stylish hat floating on the surface) ...

Doug tested the strength of the captains seat ... he won.

Comment of the day:

"She (name not posted to protect the innocent) is so intense and nervous."


"Only when she's not asleep."

Debbie tunes in late: "Wait a minute ... She sleeps at work?"

The evening ended with claws and clams. More seafood tomorrow! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Birthday Trip: Cedar Key Day 1

Today we set out for a special trip to celebrate Debbie's birthday: Cedar Key, Florida, about 2 and a half hours from our house.

I had suggested a number of different venues like Paris, Rome, London (not really) or thought about maybe driving north to see the leaves change (But I think that was closed by the federal government and just reopened today). So it was off to Cedar Key ... which boasts an impressive Seafood Festival this weekend. Deb and I, two other couples plus Tom and Dennie (Debbie's twin) all rented a house and shared the adventure.

The house is very cool.

We drew numbers and Deb and I were lucky enough to get the master suite. In addition to being really spacious, it had an extra water feature in the bathroom. I think it's a water fountain that sits next to the toilet (a funny place for it) ... I know it can't be another toilet because I can't flush it.

Downstairs, Doug was cracking open some stone crab claws as an appetizer. The cracker was pretty big and had multiple tortuous uses that Doug seemed hesitant to detail for us.

The crab claws came from a store name (appropriately) Crackers ... and were delicious. So was the fish spread that Doug and his wife Deb picked up on 4th Street in St. Pete.

We chatted about how screwed up the government was, personal medical issues and who we know that died recently.

The women compared manicures.

The men watched old episodes of The Lone Ranger, Seinfeld and Jeopardy (Mark knew all the answers ... and is apparently a Jeopardy/trivia savant). Yes ... the rest of us felt stupid.

Barb made a delicious Italian dinner of pasta, sausage and balls. I'm ready for bed. I think I'll get a tall glass of water from our water fountain, take my meds and go nite nite.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rays Praise

I love the Rays.

Sure they can be the Cardiac Kids at times ... making mistakes or looking like they forgot to show up ... but so what? When you play 162 games, you might have a few of those. Yeah, I scream at Rodney or Helickson but it's okay for me to do that. They're family. I've had season tickets since day one.

I have no patience for non fans who have no investment in our Rays but who talk trash about them, I bristle at the frustrated athletes who think they can do better. But the worst are the St. Pete natives who love the Yankees or the Red Sox just ... because.  

To me the Rays are the best team in baseball. They have the lowest payroll, the least support among their fan base and yet they consistently make the playoffs. They have been AL Champions and have been to the World Series. Some teams who have been around a lot longer
have never been there.

Remember that if we lose them.

Shame on you St. Petersburg. How many times can a city like St. Pete brag about a nationally recognized professional team that has a fan base across the country? Buy a ticket once in a while. Bring your family. Fill the stands.

Trust me ... you'll be glad you did.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

This Little Piggie Cried Wah Wah Wah

This is the last time I let anybody else cut my toenails.

The woman who I posted on the left is probably wanted in the US and Vietnam for physical abuse and foot torture. She gave me a pedicure yesterday (they call it that to make you think it's a fancy thing that doesn't hurt). As you can see, she hides her face with a surgical mask which can only mean that she is concerned about being recognized or she was kicked recently by an angry customer. I would have tried it but she had numerous sharp objects in her lap.

I knew I was in trouble when she first told me to put my feet in boiling water. When I complained she just smiled and said she "no speak English".

She then grabbed my foot and started chopping my nails, jabbing the corners and then .... then ... she did the unthinkable. She did my little toe ... the ABUSE.

When she took out that emery board (better known as a creepy file that makes your eyes water) my little toe screamed with pain. To add insult to injury she then took out a funky sponge and rubbed my instep until it tickled so much that I tired to pull away ... but she had the death grip on me.

The amazing thing I noticed was that there were at least ten women there getting tortured with me and they were chatting, relaxed, sticking their feet in some Xray machine and having a ball.

They can't enjoy this can they?

Ballad of the Big Prostate

Here’s a little country tune I wrote just yesterday to commemorate a dark day in my history. I don’t have a tune but realized you can use an...