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Apr 17 / Sam

Holy Thursday

Oh, Robin...

Oh, Robin…

I made this meme this morning. It’s my kind of humor. I shared this picture on Facebook with the people at Catholic Memes. Given that the photo now has 3,300 likes, it looks like maybe a few people share my sense of humor. It’s a good feeling to think that I made 3,000 people smile today. “Holy Happiness, Batman!”

Apr 14 / Sam

I Wish You Could Smell This

I Wish You Could Smell This

I Wish You Could Smell This

I wish you could smell this.

This flower smells so GOOD!

It’s one of several flowers that have bloomed on my jasmine plant over the last few days. I walked into the kitchen and thought, What is that awesome smell? The whole room smelled good! (This may also have been due to the fact that I finally took the garbage out earlier that day.)

Long, long ago, in one of those lifetime-ago periods of my life, back in the last century, actually, a girl that I was seeing gave me a similar plant. I was newly divorced. This girl thought she would liven up my home by filling it with plants. Rubber plants. Aloes. Philodendron. A lot of the typical houseplants. And there was a jasmine plant, which was very popular in the country where she grew up, but called by a different name there. There was much ado about that plant. It was meant to be the queen among all the lesser plants that then occupied my home. I was fine with that because it smelled fantastic! It had a scent that lifted one’s spirits. Beautiful.

An interesting thing about the jasmine flower: it lasts for not more than 24 hours once it blooms. Its fragrance is kept completely secret as the blossom matures. Then when it opens it spreads forth such a scent. It is a gloriously white flower with a soft texture. It is pretty to both the eyes and the nose. But the day after it blooms, its color begins to turn a pale pink. It withers. Falls to the ground. There is no longer any fragrance. It is sheer delight, then gone.

One day, the girl got mad at me. She took back the jasmine plant. She clutched it in her arms and said, “I don’t trust you with this plant. You would probably kill it.” She left. Eventually she faded. I don’t remember her scent.

One day, another day, I came home to find the rest of the houseplants gnawed down to stumps in their pots. Dirt was everywhere. This caused me some consternation as no one had been in the house all day. Later, I discovered what annihilated my plants: A RAT!

There’s really no analogy in the rat part of this story like there is in the jasmine part. Other than that maybe it was a sign that I was living in a real shithole and needed to move. Which I did. Quickly.

Then, one day, another day, a couple of years down the road, I found a plant with pretty white flowers in a garden store. “Jasmine? I once knew you by another name.”

I bought the plant. No one can take it back. That makes it all the more enjoyable.

I wish you could smell it.

Apr 14 / Sam

My First Crack at Scalloped Potatoes

Apr 13 / Sam

Of Shoes and Sciatica

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Finally! New shoes that feel right! It’s been way too long. Too many miles. Too many days. Too many seasons. All on the same pair of shoes. During all this time, I bought shoes twice. Both times they just weren’t right. Each time I gave up and went back to my old trusty Saucony shoes. I would have loved to buy the same exact pair, but Saucony doesn’t make them anymore. Their new models just don’t do it for me. I have problems finding proper fitting shoes because my feet are narrow. Long (size 13) and narrow, like pontoon boats. This time I found a nice pair of Nikes that are going to do the trick. I just had to pull my wallet out and “do it.” I took them for a run this afternoon and it was like running on “air.”

image

It was nice to feel hot and sweaty while running. It wasn’t that long ago that we were all still bundling up and running in 20 degree weather. Today my face was red from heat instead of winter wind.

But I am still struggling with a sciatic problem. At the beginning of March, my doctor said no running and put me on anti-inflamatories. I didn’t run for a month. In the meantime I did some research on running with sciatica. One of the causes is sometimes worn out shoes. Oops! Although, I think there’s more to it than that for me. Like bowling in mid-December. Shouldn’t have done that! I found mixed opinion as to whether is wise to run with sciatic pain or not. Definitely, the advice in favor of running is to take it slow and easy, alternating between running and walking. So, I started running again a few weeks ago, just a few times. I didn’t want to push my luck because of my worn out shoes. Today I resolved that. So, my routine has been to alternate running/walking for 90/60 seconds for 4 miles. That has been working out well. My plan is to continue that for the next few week and then, hopefully, start amping it up to get back into a more normal groove.

Next, I need to sign up for a race or too.

Apr 10 / Sam

All That’s Left

This is all that's left of winter.

This is all that’s left of winter.

Remember that really cold, really snowy winter we just had?

This is all that is left. I don’t think this little hunk of snow is going to make it through the day. It’s sunny and 60 degrees here in my part of New Jersey. This is the day that will put winter to bed.

Break out the beach chairs, people!

Apr 9 / Sam

You Just Have to Make It Through

Did I hear that correctly?

Did I hear that correctly?

I was eating lunch in a diner today – because that’s what we people in Jersey are known for: eating in diners. It was my escape from the stress of the office. I thought I would do a little journal writing, a little reading, enjoy a cup of soup and a sandwich (which ended up being lentil soup and a chicken fajita wrap – with fries (see my last post about stress eating before you bitch me out for indulging in fries)).

TIME OUT.

Did you notice that parentheses with parentheses thing there? Is that permissible in writing? I mean, I do it all the time in my work as a programmer, aka: “developer,” aka: “software engineer,” aka: “FREAKING MASTERMIND GENIUS!” Not to be referred to as a “coder.”

if(salutation.equals(“Coder”){
return(“Bitch, please! That’s like calling a runner a jogger!”);
}

Back to what I started with…

So, I was sitting at my table at the diner, nursing a Diet Coke (aka: schlepping my brain with aspartame), and I heard a woman at the next table say,

“You just have to make it through this life. Then everything will be okay.”

Now wait a minute! What kind of empty platitude was that? It inferred that “this life” is merely something to be endured, something to be weathered. Just lean into the wind and keep your eyes closed against the rain. It will all be over soon and then everything will be okay. That also assumed a lot about the afterlife, assuming there is an afterlife. Her statement contained as much dogma as the proclamations of the most radical religious zealot, with flippancy in place of fervency. THAT was faith: stating an eternal premise without a note of hesitation or a flicker of thought.

And what was the person possibly suffering through to whom she was offering this pithiness, who, I realized when I looked up, was on the other end of the phone into which the lunchtime philosopher was speaking? Cancer? Betrayal? Poverty? Good God! Maybe the trials and tribulations of old Job had revisited this poor soul! How harsh and hopeless was their condition that the only consolation that could be offered was, “You just have to make it through this life?” I couldn’t help but feel a measure of sympathy for this person.

Do you know what she said next? After the person on the phone spoke and she listened, presumably… after I waited in suspense and rehearsed all the tragedies listed in the above paragraph… after my lentil-filled spoon stopped in mid-air before my open mouth…

She said,

“Ok. So, I’d like to make an appointment for a mani-pedi. For two people. Thank you.”

Oh, come on! Jesus Christ, lady! You were on the phone with a nail salon?! (No, that’s not using his name in vain! I mean that as a prayer! Because SOMEBODY needs to straighten out this woman’s view of life and death and compassion! I mean, Jesus Christ!)

Well, that revelation demanded a reassessment of my beliefs about the suffering of old Job on the other end of the phone line. Cancer was quickly replaced by human trafficking. Poverty was usurped by money laundering. Heartbreak was displaced by prostitution.

I shook my head and thought, I just need to make it through this life. Then everything will be okay. Because, Jesus Christ willing, there won’t be any stupid people there! And if there is lentil soup on the menu, that will be paradise!

Apr 8 / Sam

Stress Eating (Lead Me Not Into Temptation)

Drugs of Choice

Drugs of Choice

Devil Dogs, aptly named, are one of my old-time instruments of gluttony when I’m stressed out. I cannot resist their tempting allure. When the going gets tough, the tough eat Devil Dogs. I prefer them with a cup of tea. All my yapping about running and losing weight and being the best-in-my-age-group at 5Ks (because the rest of my age group were down at Acme Medical Equipment being fitted for their first walkers, chuckling that my name was on the list too), ALL OF IT GOES TO HELL while I stuff my face.

I remember many a rendezvous with a box of Devil Dogs way back in the late 1980s when my marriage was on its way to hell. Confusion, anger, frustration, loneliness, sadness… devil’s food cake. Devil’s food cake! And sugary cream filling! Oh, dear God! I had no restraint! The going was too tough! I broke the bread of Satan and drank of the cup of Tetley! With weeping and gnashing of teeth I groveled in the darkness in a barren land. Mmm… devil’s food cake… Dear Jesus, deliver me, these many years hence. For I do not wish to weigh 242 pounds again.

“But what are you stressing about?” the reader asks.

(Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they ask.)

Oh, I don’t know… money, work, death, fat, people texting while driving, fat people texting while driving, (see, commas are important), missing children, war with Russia, getting a haircut, the fact that I’m out of Devil Dogs now. Big things. Small things. Serious things. Petty things. But why do they make me shove food in my face? Why do I distract myself from the unpleasant by tickling my taste buds? Why do I grind my teeth in my sleep and wake up with my face hurting (I know, it’s killing you), and then seek comfort in the arms of fried, processed, and calorie-loaded foods, which I know damn well will only lead me down the greasy highway ill health? WHY? WHY, GOD, WHY?

I know that when I eat better – and by better I mean healthier – I feel better. Less fat, less processed food, less sugar equals more energy, less inflammation, more good nutrients floating around in my veins. I know that when I exercise – and by exercise I mean run, in my case – I feel better. More running equals more muscle mass, less fat, more energy, and more endorphins skipping around in my brain. Not to mention the psychological benefit of a sense of achievement.

Lord, help me to remember all that goodness the next time stress starts whooping my butt. Give me the strength, Lord, to resist the temptation to stuff my face in times of weakness.

And Lord, just one question: How do you feel about ANGEL’S FOOD CAKE?

Apr 8 / Sam

Look Out…

“Dear God, I hope you have a sense of humor!”

Apr 7 / Sam

The Keys

A little church humor during Lent.

Mar 5 / Sam

Ash Wednesday

It's Ash Wednesday, camel.

It’s Ash Wednesday, camel.

Mar 2 / Sam

What Ladies?

Ladies?  I don't see any ladies.  Maybe they drowned in that pond.

Ladies? I don’t see any ladies. Maybe they drowned in that pond.

Feb 27 / Sam

Throwback Thursday – In the Days of the Mullet

Circa 1993

Circa 1993

The question that comes to mind, and which has been asked by my observant fiancee, is why is that lanyard hanging off my sunglasses and not wrapped (tightly perhaps) around my neck?

I allowed myself to sink into a 20-year reverie (not a 20-year long reverie, but reminiscing back to 20-years past) and I remembered why I never wrapped that cord around my neck. The reason: I used to keep those glasses slung over the rearview mirror of my car, which was quite possibly a bronze-colored Volare station wagon at that period of my life, which eventually bit the dust and which a friend and I almost lost on I-78 while towing it behind his pickup truck up Jugtown Mountain. It was a pain in the neck to wear that lanyard around my neck, get it under all that glorious long hair, which some of you, the racists among you, are inordinately fond of referring to as a “mullet,” only to have to extract said lanyard from beneath that gorgeous mane to re-hang from the mirror, and then to properly re-style the curly locks again. Mystery solved.

On close inspection, one might notice what appears to be an even longer lanyard hanging off my shoulders. Before you question it, I will reveal that it is the pull strings from the maroon hoodie I traditionally wore beneath that ultra-cool Lee jean jacket. (Racists refer to it as “dungaree.”) I still have that jacket. It only fits half of me now.

By the way, I still have that guitar too. I’ve had it for 30 years now. Others have come and gone over the years. That one is still my one love, from the days of the mullet to the days of… well, yes, now I have a lot less hair. Sigh.

Feb 21 / Sam

Photo Friday – “I Gotta Gun”

I Gotta Gun

I Gotta Gun

Click for Larger Photo

Topic: Male

Feb 20 / Sam

Throwback Thursday – 2/20/14

Throwback Thursday - Throwing this one almost all the way back to the beginning.

Throwback Thursday – Today is my birthday. Throwing this one almost all the way back to the beginning.

Feb 17 / Sam

Photo Friday – “Delaware Water Gap, PA”

Delaware Water Gap, PA

Delaware Water Gap, PA

Click for Larger Photo

Topic: Landscape