Tag Archives: Family

Another reason to be happy…

…I’m a guy.

Showers.

Of course, I’m not talking about the kind where you stand under streaming water to get clean. I’m all in favor of those. I’m talking about bridal showers, baby showers, and any other kind of showers that are little more than shake-downs, cleverly disguised as social events.

Mrs. Poolman and I were looking over our calendars for the next month or two to see what is coming up. Mrs. P noted that on one weekend later this month, she has a baby shower on one day and a bridal shower on the other.  I am SO glad neither of the hostesses was crazy enough to declare one of the events a “couples shower.” I hope I don’t give anyone an idea.

I understand the concept behind the showers. In theory, a group of the bride’s/new mother’s friends get together to “shower” the recipient with gifts to help them get started with their new married life or parenthood. Great idea. Keep it to the friends and immediate family who really want to help, and I’m all for it. What happens however, in an effort to increase the mass of presents, the guest lists extends out another generation to include the friends-of-family, etc. Attached to that invitation is an implied social obligation to pony up a gift and attend, whether you want to or not. Saying “no” is not an option. (“You know, when our daughter gets/got married…”)

In the case of the upcoming bridal shower, Mrs. P was invited because the groom’s mother is a long-time co-worker. I’m not sure Mrs. P would recognize the bride if she bit her on the leg.

The family organizing the baby shower doubled down on the misery. It seems the honoree and her sister had the poor timing to get knocked up with their first child within a few days of each other. (Must have been a heck of a weekend!) So the family decided to have a double baby shower.

That is an insidious little trick. At face value, it looks like a great idea. The more the merrier, right? But think about it for a moment. While family members obviously have connections to both mothers-to-be, many of the friends may be close (or maybe not really even that close) to only one of the guests of honor. Even so, they are now arm-twisted by a social obligation to purchase gifts for both of them.  (“The shower is for both sisters. I CANNOT show up with only one present.”) Nice trick.

I had an idea for Mrs. P to reduce her invitations to future showers, at least the bridal showers anyway. One of her good friend’s, daughter’s, partner (It’s complicated, sorry.) manages a sex-toy shop. I suggested she shop there for the bridal shower gift — the larger and more inappropriate, the better.

Her gift would certainly be remembered, and maybe even appreciated. You certainly can’t say the same thing about that off-brand chafing dish, or a cutting board. Plus, the word would get out and she would probably receive significantly fewer invitations to future showers.

Two birds with one stone.

Although Mrs. P laughed at my idea, she rejected it quickly. (In her defense, I think she really enjoys these girl-parties. These opinions are my own.)

“I can’t do that!”

“Why not?”

“Showers – they are part of the girl code.”

And that’s one more reason…

Mid-summer holiday party

I’m totally time-warped this week. The internal clock was thrown off Monday night, when Mrs. Poolman and I spent the night at our church as “hosts” to a couple of homeless families. This is a regular ministry of our parish, and Mrs. P and I usually volunteer to handle the overnight shift. Not a big deal, but it certainly throws the internal clock off.

Yesterday was the 4th of July, and now I’m back at work for a single day, which feels like a Monday, except it’s actually a Friday. Huh?

Mrs. P and I hosted a holiday pool and barbecue party yesterday. We had several more people than we anticipated, and four more dogs. Individually, the dogs were not a problem. But when you add four new dogs to our pack of two, the result is a lot doggies running around.

Water and beer on the Fourth of July. A bit of a cliche?

Water and beer on the Fourth of July. A bit of a cliche?

July 4 2w

Even the dogs got into the action. This was this particular lab’s first time swimming.

I grilled burgers and brats; Son-in-Law provided spare ribs and another friend cooked up some wings. Everyone else brought some side dish or another.  It must have been a good party. We started at 2 pm and had to chase people out at 10:30 pm. It was a work-night after all.

Both our children typically invite some of their friends to our parties, which we encourage.  One couple of the younger generation, Ronnie and Kate, came yesterday with their now-six and a half month old Tommy. We have spent some time with Tommy in the past, and actually were the first non-family members to baby-sit him. Yesterday, he was his usual cute, good-natured self and was totally entertaining.

Mr. Personlity

Mr. Personality

I don’t know what we are going to be up to this weekend, but I think we are partied-out, at least for parties at our house anyway.

A great week continues

This working out to be a very good week.

Poolboy and Girlfriend finally made it down full time on Monday afternoon. And Monday turned out to be a truly lazy day. I got up at a decent hour and then Mrs. Poolman, Writer Princess, Son-in-Law and I enjoyed a sinful late morning breakfast at a local place called, appropriately enough, The Breakfast Club. This restaurant specializes in serving enormous plates of unhealthy, but delicious, breakfast food. For example, I had a three-egg scramble with chorizo, mushrooms, jalapenos and onions served over a pile of grits. Mrs. P had a dish of grated hash brown potatoes, cooked with onions, peppers, and bacon, with a little cream cheese folded in. The serving covered the entire dinner plate. I couldn’t eat this way every day. My arteries couldn’t take it. But once in a while…on vacation…

Ran a couple of errands on the island and then took a nice afternoon nap. Sigh. It clouded up and got windy late in the afternoon. Some of our group hung out on the beach anyway.

Even a  cloudy day at the beach beats a sunny day behind a desk.

Even a cloudy day at the beach beats a sunny day behind a desk.

We had several of our friends from “down the beach” here for drinks and appetizers that evolved into a full-evening social event.

Today, SIL, Poolboy, Girlfriend and I went on a kayak eco-tour.

Beach13 Tue2w

Getting ready to push off on the great adventure.

Beach13 Tue3w

Resting up and re-hydrating on our mid-tour beach break.

It was fun, but not quite what we expected.  A lot of fairly open-water paddling with a fairly strong wind pushing us around. We did have some nice beach time and saw a few interesting sights, like osprey diving and feeding, and a small bonnet head shark feeding along the shoreline. By the end of our trip, we were pooped. I may not be able to move tomorrow.

Another afternoon nap (I could get used this.) and then we all went out to the North Beach Grill for dinner. This locally-famous restaurant is really just a beach shack with some outdoor seating on a deck.

Our group at the North Beach Grill.

Our group at the North Beach Grill.

The kitchen was slow, but the food was good. I had a jerk chicken sandwich and home-cut fries. Mrs. P and several of the rest of our group had the half-pound of shrimp, saute’d in a jerk seasoning. It was very good. I think we are going to try to duplicate it at home.

Saute'd shrimp in jerk seasoning.

Saute’d shrimp in jerk seasoning.

I think we are all pretty tired tonight. I don’t see a party night in the offing.

Starting a beach week

Altogether a great weekend, with more to come. Mrs. Poolman and I are officially on vacation. We haven’t gone far, just about 12 miles down the road to Tybee Island where we rented a 3-br beachfront condo. We decided to stay close to home so our children (Poolboy and Writer Princess) along with their significant (Girlfriend and Son-in-law aka SIL) others could join us as much as possible. We got out early Saturday afternoon and spent the rest of the day hanging on our balcony and enjoying life. Our friends, the W’s, came down for a few hours. Also, a family that includes both our and our children’s friends (three generations) is renting a house a few blocks down the beach. Several of them stopped by to visit.

We don’t have much planned this week. I think several of us will be going on a kayak eco-tour one morning. Other than that, as I told Mrs. P early on, “If I do nothing but sit on the deck with a book in my lap and watch the tide come in, that will be just fine.”

Our condo, from the balcony.

Our condo, from the balcony.

The view from our deck.

The view from our deck.

Mrs. Poolman and Son-in-law relaxing on the deck.

Mrs. Poolman and Son-in-law relaxing on the deck.

We witnessed a couple of beach weddings from our balcony Saturday afternoon. I guess that can be romantic if you don’t mind every-day beach goers wandering by with their boogie boards and umbrellas during the ceremony.

A beach wedding, with guests, both invited and univited.

A beach wedding, with guests, both invited and univited.

After a morning beach walk, we spent much of the afternoon sitting on the beach and watching the waves. Not a bad day at all.

The view from my beach chair this afternoon.

The view from my beach chair this afternoon.

A great holiday/wedding weekend

We had a great time over Memorial Day weekend. (Yes, I am a little late catching up.) Our neice, Ellen, got married in Greenville, South Carolina. She is my middle sister’s daughter, so the event attracted a large number of my side of the family. I am the oldest of five. All are married, most with grown, or nearly grown, children. We and our cousins are spread all over the eastern half of the country. It’s been this way ever since I first moved away from Pittsburgh to Florida in 1971. While we are not geographically so close that we can call and say “Come on over for Sunday dinner,” we do have a good time when we do get together.

Mrs. Poolman and I took off on Thursday to make it a five-day weekend. Our first big surprise was Greenville itself. It has a very cool downtown. There is a small river with a waterfall cutting right through the middle of town. My sister commented, “You know, we lived here for ten years before we even knew we had a waterfall in downtown.”

Greenville's waterfall

Greenville’s waterfall

Wedding 3w

Brother taking picture of his son and daughter-in-law.

Wedding 4w

(l-r) Girlfriend, Poolboy and Writer Princess

Wedding 5w

Nephew, Mrs. P and myself

The rest of downtown is nicely landscaped, pedestrian friendly, and full of shops and restaurants. We went sightseeing both Friday and Saturday afternoon.  We had a very nice time. Greenville, South Carolina! Who ‘da thought?

In between the scheduled functions and parties, our family had a fairly non-stop party going back at the hotel. We were all in a Holiday Inn Express. At almost any time you could wander through the lobby and find someone to visit with. Lots of fun and laughter, and a fair amount of ethanol.

If not in the lobby, my brother and sister-in-law's room works just fine.

If not in the lobby, my brother and sister-in-law’s room works just fine.

I guess I should show at least one picture of the couple. Here is Stan and Ellen, zoning out at the rehearsal.

We all had such a great time, we started looking around at the single children and asked “So who’s next?”

Busy spring weekend

Wow! It’s been a busy two weeks. Time to catch up.

Mrs. Poolman is half way through a two-step cataract surgery sequence. The first surgery was last week; the second next week. She is having new “multifocus” lenses implanted in each eye.  In addition to replacing the clouded lenses, the multifocus lenses will allow her to see without glasses or contacts for the first time since she was five years old. She is very excited.

We had a busy time last weekend. We were sitting around Friday night when we got a call from Poolboy. It seems he wanted to go out and party with his friend Ronnie. Unfortunately, Ronnie had not cleared his plans with his wife, Kate. Turns out Kate had separate plans also. The problem is the third member of the family is four month old Tommy.

“So do you think you guys could babysit Tommy for a few hours this evening?”

This actually isn’t as much of a stretch as it may sound. The mom, Kate, is one of Writer Princess’s closest friends and Kate has been hanging around our house since she was in middle school. She and Ronnie recently bought a house just a couple of blocks away from ours. ­­­­­­She is well aware that when it comes to taking care of babies, Mrs. P is a legitimate pro (neonatal ICU nurse), and I’m a “gifted amateur.”

Mrs. P, Tommy and two of the furry ones who were fascinated by the little one.

Mrs. P, Tommy and two of the furry ones who were fascinated by the little one.

We had a great time with Tommie. He is a real cutie with a very nice personality. I’m just sorry we didn’t have him a little longer.

On Saturday, we took off to shop second-hand shops for a set of dining chairs for Writer Princess and Son-in-Law. We had a nice lunch out; found the chairs; and even found an office desk for me. We found this desk at Goodwill.

The Goodwill desk

The Goodwill desk

The finish is bad, but it seems structurally sound. WP swears she has a paint that will stick to anything. We’ll see.

Our plan on Sunday was for massive amounts of outside work. We are just coming to the time of year here in Savannah when massive amounts of biomass falls in our back yard, courtesy of this oak tree.

The oak tree is great during the summer, but a pain in the spring.

The oak tree is great during the summer, but a pain in the spring.

We really can’t do much fixing up for summer until the fall of leaves and seed pods stop. So I mowed the lawn, cleaned the pool, cleaned the solar blanket and put it on the pool, and raked, swept and cleaned up about a ton of leaves.

Unfortunately, this was a solo effort. Mrs. P had gone to run a couple of errands, and when standing at the vegetable stand, “fell out” of her flip-flops. She went down like a bag of wet cement (according to her.) The real damage was to her toe, which may or may not be fractured, but is definitely in bad shape.

Ouch!

Ouch!

She spent the rest of the day on the couch with her foot propped on the coffee table.

I don’t know what we will accomplish this weekend, but we’ll give it a shot. We’re trying to get the “heavy lifting” done before the pool and beach season begins, so we can kick back and not worry about major projects during the summer.

This and that

No, honey, that smoke detector is not a kitchen timer.

 Earlier this week, Mrs. Poolman made us tacos for dinner. This is usually a fairly easy, mistake-proof meal. Not this time. Rather than heating the taco shells in the oven, like we normally do, Mrs. P decided heat them in the microwave.

 “What is that smoke I smell?”

I pulled the taco shells, that were “spooned” together, out of the microwave. They were still combusting! I stuck them in the sink and hit them with the dish sprayer. A large cloud of steam later, the “blaze” was extinguished. I’ve heard of hot Tex-mex food, but really!

 We always have soft tortillas around, so we just had soft tacos that night.

 Actually, this just makes us even. A few weeks ago I saute’d some tilapia for dinner. I used a new spice mix, not knowing it was heavily salt-based. The fish filets were virtually inedible. I’m not a great cook, but usually my meals at least can be eaten. Not that night.

 *   *   *

I understand the reason behind Amber alerts. But is it really necessary to send the same alert out to my phone every few minutes all night? The other night, my phone was hopping with an Amber alert from Tampa, more than 300 miles away. I had to turn the phone off just so I could get some sleep. Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose? Duh.

 *   *   *

It’s tough running a small business, but sometimes when I see how some businesses treat their customers, I don’t understand how they can keep their doors open at all. Last December, we contacted a local pest control company about some unwanted pests in our attic. We called this company because they handle other termite inspections and because someone close to us works for them. The pest control guy came out for an inspection a few days later and said he would be back the next week to seal off the attic and set some traps. Two months later, we hadn’t heard back from the guy. When we finally reached him, he confessed he “forgot.”

 So he sent one of his minions out to seal off all entrances to the attic, but he had forgotten to bring the traps.

 “No problem, I’ll be back on Thursday to set the traps.”

 Of course, he never came. Meanwhile, we got a bill for the incomplete service.

 After continuing to hound than, we finally got the rodent boy to come back out last week and set his traps — four months after we initially called. He is supposed to come back this week to collect whatever (hopefully nothing) that has been caught. We’ll see.

 *   *   *

And speaking of unhappy experiences with local merchants, we took Sammie the dog and Sid the Tailless cat to a groomer this weekend to be trimmed a little. Both are long-haired and desperately needed it. We went to a groomer we had not used before. I don’t know what the groomer was thinking. Sammie was cut down fairly close. Sid was practically shaved.

Sid the Hairless (as well as tailless)

Sid the Hairless (as well as tailless)

He looks like a little piglet with the head of a lion. Poor thing. Fortunately, Sid doesn’t really seem to care how funny he looks. His “sister” Penny, however is another story. She has been hissing at him ever since he got home yesterday afternoon. Quite the critic she is. Fortunately, Sid is an inside cat, so sunburn won’t be a problem. Otherwise…

I don’t think we’ll be using that groomer again. Duh.

Another St. Patrick’s Day behind us

It’s Sunday evening of the actual St Patrick’s Day. We’ve had a good run, but Mrs. Poolman and I are a little pooped out.

For the uninitiated, St Patrick’s Day is to Savannah as Mardi Gras is to New Orleans. For the past 11 years, we have staked out a plot in one of the downtown squares and set up a “tailgate party.” The parade comes by, but more importantly, we spend a day visiting with friends, family, and sometimes friends’ and family’s friends. It is very much like a traditional football tailgate party, except it starts early in the morning and ends around mid-afternoon. Sometimes we actually get to watch some of the parade, like the visiting Clydesdales.

Where is the cute little guy from the Super Bowl commercials?

Where is the cute little guy from the Super Bowl commercials?

This year was a bit of a test for us. Last year, we had crowd issues. A number of their friends invited a bunch of their friends. The result was too many people and too little space. As I mentioned to Mrs. P, “It was a lot of work to give a party for a bunch of people I don’t even know.” This year, we consciously made a serious effort at crowd control. Essentially our message was this– “If you want to bring a gang of your friends to our party, then come on down and join us at oh-dark-30, and claim a spot next to us. Not surprisingly, no one took us up on the offer.

This year, since the actual date of the holiday falls on a Sunday, the local parade and celebration is held on Saturday. We had a gang of our Jacksonville side of the family arrive Friday evening, but, for the most part, they had to fend for themselves. Mrs. P and I went to bed early to grab a few hours of sleep.

We were up at 1:30 am and downtown by 2:30 am. Joining us were our daughter (Writer Princes) and Son-in-Law (SIL). We were very surprised to see our target corner of Calhoun square was unoccupied when we arrived. Actually, the police don’t let you in the actual square until 6 am. But early arrivals, stake out their claims by placing chair and coolers around the edge and negotiating with competing groups. The local custom is “first-come, first-served.” By working with the other groups, you can avoid conflicts when the “land-rush” starts at 6 am.  We worked things out with our later-arriving neighbors, and actually “donated” some of our plot to a neighbor before the rush began. It worked out well. We worked together to stake out our plots rather than competing with each other.

The problem isn’t with the early arrivals. The issues arise with the people who show up a few minutes before the square is opened. They want to claim a prime spot and push out the groups who have been there for several hours. We have absolutely no sympathy for them.

So we ended with a nice piece of parade frontage and plenty of room to set up our canopies, food tables and chairs. Things went so well with our neighboring groups, that we exchanged contact information and plan to work together again next year. An alliance! What a radical thought! We’ll be the NATO of Calhoun Square.

Our square at 6:30am

Our square at 6:30am

The same spot in the late morning.

The same spot in the late morning.

The rest of the day was a nice, but busy party. Friends came by and visited. Others came and stayed. People brought food and their own drinks. Our age range spread from children to Social Security. Good time had by all. By around three in the afternoon, the “dawn patrol” packed up and headed back to the island.

After a debrief, we declared it a victory. The Poolman St Patrick’s Party will continue next year. Good time. Good weekend. Back to work tomorrow.

Books, books and more books

Both Mrs. Poolman and I do a lot of reading for pleasure. In the past, a book or a bookstore gift certificate was considered a pretty good birthday or Christmas present around our house. Lately, however, that has changed, or at least it feels like it has changed. The problem? Between downloading e-books on her Nook and the availability of getting new releases from the Village Library, a present of a new book doesn’t seem any more special than picking up a gallon of milk at the grocery store.

The library in question is a small community library that serves the community near my workplace. It is chock-full of popular writers. It generally has a good collection of new releases, which they rent for 30 cents per day. Considering that Mrs. P goes through two to three books a week, that is a bargain compared to a $25 new-purchase price new.

Mrs. P typically gives me a list of books and authors she wants to read. I stop by the library a few times a week and check to see what they have. It’s a good system that usually keeps Mrs. P in fresh reading material, but it takes the shine off of giving her a book or gift card as a present. All the same, I still gave her a Barnes & Noble gift card for Christmas.

Speaking of books, I read two interesting ones recently.

The Panther“The Panther” is one of a continuing series of thrillers by Nelson DeMille that feature one of his main protagonists, sarcastic, wise-cracking John Corey (The Lion, The Lion’s Game, Night Fall, Plum Island, Wildfire). In this book, Corey is still a member of the Anti-Terrorism Task Force. He and his wife, FBI agent Kate Mayfield, are sent to Yemen to track down the latest Islamic terrorist, nicknamed “the Panther.” Actually, Corey and Mayfield are selected because the higher-ups believe they will serve as bait to draw the terrorist out of hiding. DeMille teams Corey up with another of his previous protagonists, Paul Brenner (The General’s Daughter, Up Country). On top of being served up as bait for the Panther, Corey suspects that some members of the American team would not be unhappy if he and Kate were to return to the US in body bags.

You can pretty much figure the story from there. While the destination is predictable, the ride is a good one.

I do have just one criticism. Much of the book is narrated in the first person by Corey. While the wise-cracking is an integral part of his character, the sarcastic comments come about every other line. It gets a little old after awhile. It was just over-the-top. DeMille could tone that down just a little in his next gook and the book would be a little more readable.

Paris in love“Paris in Love” by Eloisa James is an entirely different sort of read. College professor and romance writer James moved to Paris to live for a year with her husband and two children. I am still fascinated with anything to do with Paris. Her book is a memoir of sorts or their year there. James is a clever writer. The book is interesting, especially to someone who just visited Paris a couple of months ago. There is no plot or theme to speak of. The book is broken up into a long series of short anecdotes and thoughts – snapshots of her experiences. It feels like a year-long series of Facebook posts. I enjoyed sharing James’ enjoyment of her year in Paris. The stories about her children will give you a grin. I’m not sure her precocious 11-year old daughter is really that precocious, but James’ stories about her are worth a chuckle. “Paris in Love” is a light and short read, and one worth the effort.

 

An absent-minded priest and a moist turkey

We’re in the middle of a very nice four-day Thanksgiving weekend, at least for me, that is. This is Mrs. Poolman’s year to work the Thanksgiving holiday and to be off for Christmas. She was at the hospital  on Thursday and today (Saturday.)

With Mrs. P taking care of babies and both our children doing the day-side of the holiday with their husband’s and girlfriend’s families, I had a quiet day to myself.  I went to 9 o’clock Mass where I was scheduled to lector. That is usually an adventure, especially when Monsignor C is celebrating. I really like the Monsignor. He is a 70+ year old Irishman with a dry sense of humor. We get along very well. However, he tends to change things and not tell the other members of his team. On Thursday, we couldn’t find any copy of a “Prayers of the Faithful” for that date. When I asked Monsignor about it, he said, “Oh, they are in a special booklet. I’ll have to give them to you at the altar.”

Oh, great, that meant a “cold read.” That’s not usually a problem unless there are some difficult names in the petitions for the deceased, sick, etc. Then Monsignor decided to skip the Creed, which is normally my cue to go to the podium to read the Prayers. As it turned out, as I walked up to the altar, our other priest, Father John, met me half way and handed me the booklet. No problem, after all.

Actually, I have been doing the lectoring long enough that I can roll with the action pretty well. Just about everything that can go wrong has done so for me at one time or another. I do become a little concerned about some of our younger lectors, many of whom are some of my former CCD students who I have recruited and coached. They are significantly less confident about handling some of Monsignor’s curve-balls.

I spent the rest of the day hanging out, working on some photos from a friend’s daughter’s wedding I shot a couple of weeks ago and finishing preps for the Thanksgiving meal. My main responsibility was the turkey. At Mrs. P’s suggestion, I tried a radically different roasting technique. I have cooked holiday turkeys more times than I can count. Usually, I roast it covered with foil at 325 for about 4-5 hours,, uncovering for the last hour and periodically basting. I may never do that again. Here is a great method that produced a fantastic, very moist bird.

1. Prepare the bird as usual, seasoning it and placing an apple, celery and a bay leaf in the cavity.

2. Place in a covered roasting pan and put it into a cold oven.

3. Turn the oven to 450 degrees and when it pre-heats to that temperature (about 15 minutes) set your timer for one hour.

4. When the timer goes off, turn the oven off and just let it sit for five hours. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN!

I was a skeptic. I didn’t think it would work, but it sure did. Our turkey was a little over 15 pounds. You might need to adjust a little for a larger bird. I really don’t know. The key was the white meat was very moist, which I can’t say is always the case with my more traditional roasting technique.

Another advantage of this technique is that it would work very well to cook overnight.

The rest of the family came over in the evening and Mrs. P got home around 7:30 pm. So our holiday dinner was at 8:30 pm, but it was a great one anyway.