Saturday, December 24, 2011

I'm famous!

Some pictures of  desert trip taken by young daughter and myself about 20 years ago are now on a blog for your viewing pleasure.  Take a peek and see....

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas lights

The Missus is nuts for Christmas lights on houses.   When we are taking our evening walks she gives awards to the deserving houses in the neighborhood as we pass them.  "Best use of traditional lighting"; "Most Christmas themed yard ornaments"; Best Hanukkah display", "Newest technology in a Christmas light display" and so on.  Of course I am the only one aware of the awards as she tells me as we walk along.  The lucky homeowners who win the awards are unaware because we do not carry certificates on the walk to hand out.

Our community newspaper also give out awards but they actually present the homeowner with a prize and write them up in the paper.  The Missus read about a display nearby that was worth driving to, so she rounded us up and had us set off to find the house.

It is difficult to imagine that there are rural areas close to the megalopolis of Los Angeles but our happy little city (which was a ranching and farming community up to the early 70s) is on the edge of development for the L.A. octopus and there are some open areas not yet swallowed up by development.  It turned out we were headed for one of these places. 

The missus had the directions and we set off up the freeway a few minutes, off at a traffic roundabout which the locals can absolutely not handle.  They stop when coming to it, circle at about 1.3 MPH and hesitantly feel for their road.  I think one lady in a Lexus SUV is still going in circles.  The Grouch expedition having driven in these things in Germany 3 decades ago are old hands at this and handled it with aplomb.   We proceeded along the well lit 4 lane road that then turned into a two lane road that then looked like tobacco road.  I didn't realize that we were supposed to be headed into the wilds and turned back thinking we missed our turn off.  The Missus set me straight, got us turned around again, and we went deeper into the country.  Fortunately the Jeep has enough lighting on it to duplicate the rising sun so we were able to see in the very dark night.  After many twists and turns we came to semi civilization, and ended up in an area of mini ranches and the home we were seeking.  The display was amazing!  It is one of those that you may see on You tube in which the lights are coordinated to music.  It was well worth the drive. 

Part of the very large display

Little Ladybug was not used to the late hour (8 p.m. our time but 11 p.m. for her).  She was also cold so I did my best to warm her up.  She isn't as small and light as he used to be!

Young son in full holiday mode (notice the scarf?)  Don't ask me about the Brony T-shirt.  It is a teenage thing.

Part of the display before it kicks into action.

Starting up!

Of course the flash takes the impact of the lights away but we do what we can with what we have!

Catch up time

Here are some random pictures from events going back a couple of months.  Since they are all associated with the Grouch family the pictures are most certainly worth viewing!

Young Son's marching band competition.  He's play the trombone.  Can you pick him out?

Young daughter and son after the competition.  He's wearing one of my old field jackets from 35 years ago.  It fits him perfectly.  Does that mean I used to be his size?

Random picture of two cute dogs, Molly and Roscoe.  They are starting to feel their age and are no longer enthusiastic 10 mile walkers; 3 is more their cup of tea.

Older son's 28th birthday in his new home.

Little Ladybug visiting all the way from North Carolina!  I am sure we'll see more of her in this blog before the year is out!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Your private sidekick

I think most of us wishes that they had a loyal sidekick to go through life with them, someone to be their wing man, to laugh at their jokes, to confide in, to guard their back when the action gets hot.  Batman had Robin, Roy Rogers had Andy Devine, The Lone Ranger had Tonto and the Cisco Kid had Pancho.

I ride a commuter train to work just about every day.  There is a fellow who is on the car with me who has his own private sidekick.   I noticed that he seemed to be talking to himself when he is reading the paper but I realized that it is actually his sidekick speaking.  The fellow on the train has his internal sidekick.   I realized this when I heard the comments uttered while he reads the paper.  "Is that so?"  "Who knew?"  "Good job!" and so on.  I realized that his sidekick is talking, the fellow isn't  talking to himself.  I was relieved to realize this because talking to ones self is usually seen as a bit odd.   I never have had a sidekick in my life so I am a bit envious.  Maybe if I get my nerve up someday I'll ask him how he got introduced to his private sidekick.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Son!

Happy 28th birthday son!  Older son is now out on his own and is a homeowner and man of the house but I will always think of him as my little boy even though he is 6'2" and a war vet.   It was a snowy day in Grand Rapids MI in 1983 when I took the Missus to the hospital to have him.  It was an even  snowier day when we came home to Conlen Av S.E. and he was introduced to his sisters. 

Happy birthday son, and many more to come.  I hope some day you will be able to take your son shooting out in the country and see him grow to be a strong and kind man as you have become.

Citizen Grouch introduces older son (who was the only son at the time) to firearms at an early age.  His sister looks skeptical.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mail from Afghanistan

Regular readers of Citizen Grouch know that Young Son recently completed his Boy Scout Eagle project and was awarded the rank of Eagle for creating and shipping 220 zip lock bag comfort kits for Marines in Afghanistan.  The idea was to make the bag a size that would fit into the cargo pocket on the field uniform worn by a Marine.  Young Son included a letter from himself in each kit plus those from local grade school children.   About a month after shipping the kits he got several nice letters from Marines who received the kits.  We all thought that was the end of it.

Today a letter arrived from a Marine gunnery sergeant who is part of a scout sniper group serving in Afghanistan.  He called Young Son 'sir' and wrote about a member of his team who loved beef jerky (which the kits contained) but who was killed in action before he could receive his package from Young Son.  His letter was blunt as would be expected from a gunnery sergeant and sincere.  He even said Young Son was 'freaken amazing' for providing the kits to his Marines.    He included a picture of most of his team with their weapons and the colors.   When Young Son read the letter aloud to me we were both blown away by the impact of it.   His Eagle project mattered to the men serving in the war zone enough that these young and tough warfighters took the time to assemble for a picture for him to include in the thank you note.  I was choked up when Young Son finished reading it to me.  We looked at each other temporarily unable to speak.   He understood that he received a great honor from the Gunny.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sarah's Key

I'm pretty much a guy's guy; I like manly things and when I'm reading a book it sure isn't going to be about a middle-aged American woman married to a French guy and living in Paris writing about her marital woes.  I surprised myself with this book:  "Sarah's Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay.  It is a novel based on a real event:  the French handled round up of Jews in Paris in 1942 and the subsequent murder of them, parents and children.  The story cuts back and forth between Sarah, a 10 year old girl caught in the round up and suffering under horrific conditions, and the before-mentioned woman who in the early part of the 00s takes an assignment to write about the round up for a Paris based magazine.    I found the story impossible to put down, extremely sad, and very compelling.  Not a feel-good book at all but well worth reading and should be required reading with a mandatory essay for any Holocaust denier.

A Citizen Grouch must-read.