Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Finding the pony

So, you ever hear the joke about the young boy who was given the job of cleaning out his granddad's horse stable of months of accumulated manure?   The grandad thought it would be a good way to teach the boy of the reality of hard work with an unpleasant job.  Imagine the old man's surprise when he stopped by the stable a couple hours later to find the boy happily digging away at the smelly pile with a smile of his face.  When he asked the boy why he was so happy he replied "with all this horse s--- there has to be a pony in here somewhere!

For a couple months now the Missus and I have passed a spot along our walk that is in no man's land between some houses and a school which means no one take responsibility for the sidewalk and gutter.  The gutter has filled with rotting, stinking, decaying vegetation that causes the water in the gutter to back up and flow onto the street.  Meanwhile on the sidewalk giant weeds are growing up through the pavement scratching our legs as we walked by.  Over the weekend I vowed a Citizen Grouch vow to clean this place up.   Yesterday the Missus and I drove down to the mess towing a large trash can behind the Jeep.  It did look pretty weird towing a trash can and the can (on wheels) rumbled along behind us attracting puzzled looks from our neighbors but this Grouch stopped caring what people think a long time ago.  Someone told me once that I was fully 'self-actualized' whatever that meant.  Anyway I hacked the weeds down and shoveled up the reeking, sloppy mess into the trash can.  The Missus stood by looking encouraging and I had to warn her to step back so she didn't get splattered.  As I dug down through the muck the Missus suddenly sprang to action and plucked something from the mess.  A gift card from a local department store!   I felt that possibly had been used and dropped in the gutter to be washed down the road and stuck in the mess but she took it back home and cleaned it off.  A check with the store's website revealed that it had $35 on it!  Yay!!  We found the 2012 equivalent of the pony!    Maybe someone placed it there to reward whomever may have been the good citizen to clean up the mess.   Sort of like when my mother put money on top of the door frames to be found when they were dusted.  Unfortunately no one found the money.  In this case however we found the money.  Sometimes virtue is rewarded!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The best proposal in the world?

I'd have to say that this may surpass my proposal on top of a Ferris wheel at night at the fireman's picnic


Eagle Court of Honor 2012

Some may remember that back in October I blogged about Young Son achieving the rank of Eagle Scout.   However, the process isn't complete until the Eagle Court of Honor is convened to swear in the new Eagle.  Usually it is a solo affair but Young Son wished to wait for his friend who was close to getting his Eagle rank also.  Due to an unanticipated glitch in the requirements his friend was delayed for six months.  During that time two other boys were also ready for their court and one of the Moms had a great idea:  do them all at once.   Great idea especially since she knew how the whole thing was supposed to work and we didn't.  I volunteered to come up with the script for the event, another Mom marshaled the food and a Dad handled the programs for the event.   As the script writer I did what seems to be the modus operandi for Hollywood:  I liberally copied from someone else's script, changing it enough to suit our needs.  And like a Hollywood script writer I was getting changes handed to me right up to the start of the event.  But in the end it went well without major stumbles despite the fact that somehow there were two versions of the script in the hands of the presenters!  They improvised and marched on and the night was a success.

Young Son's scout career laid out for all to see.  He tried hard over the years to throw it all away but the Missus know that he will be President someday and need items for his presidential museum and library to display so she saved it all.

The Eagle candidates anticipating what is to come.

Taking the Eagle oath.  When I raised my hand like this as a young man I ended up in the Army.
The parents get into the act.

The Missus pins the Eagle medal to Young Son.

The proud parents and Young Son

The Eagle Scout give the Grouch a hug after presenting the Father's pin.  How did he get so big?

Young Son, Eagle Scout!

The lovely Mrs. Grouch

Young Son giving his speech about his time in the Scouts and his project, making and shipping 229 care packages to a Marine battalion in Afghanistan.  He read a letter from a Marine which brought a tear to the eyes of the audience.

Friends and family of Young Son.  Older Son who was his mentor through the process was at the NATO summit in Chicago and couldn't be at the event

He made it!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Three years in the making

So for at least three years this unusual looking plant has been residing in a pot on the front porch.  I water it every once in a while and it pretty much just sat there with its long leaves drooping down onto the porch.  A month or so ago it started to grow and grow and grow!  Soon it started to resemble a plant named Audrey and it was making me a bit nervous to walk by it.  But instead of trying to bite me it blossomed into three beautiful flowers!  The flowers didn't last long but while they did they certainly brightened up the front porch at Grouch Estates.

I have named the plant Audrey and I hope she blossums again next year.

Revlon Walk - 2012

Back in the distant past even before the Grouch and the Missus were married but knew each other pretty well we walked in the March of Dimes 10 mile walkathons to raise money for the cause.  This was in Pittsburgh with all of the hills and weather that went along with such things.  One year it rained and we got soaked and cold and tired. But we were young and had each other and didn't mind too much.  At least I didn't mind because I was with the soon-to-be Missus Grouch.  I think she minded being tired, cold, and wet but then she always has been more practical than me.

This past May 12th when I was busy wearing my ACUs and getting promoted, the Missus, Young Daughter, and two family friends journeyed by automobile and subway to the Coliseum  for the Revlon walk/run, a modern day March of Dimes but this time without the hills, the rain, or the cold weather.  Throw in some interesting sights and  a couple of Hollywood celebrities and you have the makings of a fun day!  When we were young and the population was more fit the distance was 10 miles; in these modern times the distance was 5 kilometers (darn these European wanna-be's!) or about 3 miles but still the point was to raise money for breast cancer research.   The Missus and company participated with a team from the Missus' school who were walking to support their Principal who is recovering from breast cancer.

A friend, Young Daughter and the Missus at the subway station on the way to the start of the event. 

At the start.  The Missus said there were so many people there that her team wasn't able to step off for about 45 minutes after the beginning of the event!

An event in L.A. has to have some celebrities.  The guy from the T.V. show 'Glee', Matthew Morrison

Halle Barry - now this is someone I would have walked 5K to see!

St. Vincent De Paul church

The dome of St. Vincent De Paul church

Shrine auditorium

Three miles, almost done!
Some drumming to keep the walkers inspired and moving!
Back to the stadium - they made it!
Young Daughter at the finish line.  Yay!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ladies First?

So, my parents raised me to be a polite please and thank you type of guy.  I was taught to stand when being introduced to someone, to hold doors open for women and the elderly and always let ladies go first unless there was a Nazi zombie or rabid tiger ahead in which case I was expected to go first. 

The whole ladies first thing is what got me riled up.  I ride a commuter train to work and back home just about every day.  The train stops pretty much at the same spot at the platform so like trained rats we passengers have learned to stand where the train will stop so we can spring on and rush to the not so available seating. I'm usually the first one in line where I get on in the afternoon.   So, about a year ago as I'm waiting to get on the train at the special spot where the door will be when the train arrives a lady walks up.  The train arrives, and as a man who was raised properly by his mother, I say to the nice lady, 'after you'.  She thanks me and gets on the train.  This is repeated for a couple months and then another lady shows up as the train arrives.  I say to both of them, 'after you'.  They say thank you and get on the train.  Soon there are three of them.   Then six!  And, there is no thank you, just a mob of women who feel very free to swarm the door like the opening of  a Walmart on black Friday.  This has turned into a real When You Give A Mouse A Cookie moment.  Not up on the classical reference?  Look it up.  Anyway, this lady gang feels free to jump the line and get on ahead of us male saps.  But that isn't the worst of it, oh not at all.  Once they are on the train they dither and hesitate.  which seats to take?  Should they go upstairs to the upper level?  Is the bottom level more fun?  They'd giggle and dart back and forth until they'd settle for some seats blocking the passage of us polite folks until the choice seats are gone.   This went on for a couple months until I had enough.  I decided that they needed a dose of The Look.   The next time they came swarming to the car door as the train pulled up, I positioned myself in the open door and gave them The Look.  They stopped in their tracks.  I then said to the nice lady who always thanked me 'after you' and nodded to her.  She smiled prettily at me and got on the train.  I only had to do this a couple more times until the lady gang moved to another car.   I still say 'after you' to the nice lady and any other lady who thanks me when I pass them in front of me.  They saw what happened to those who got The Look and they know that they don't want it directed at them because the other women still haven't recovered from being exposed to it twice.   For all they know I could be a basilisk in disguise.  Not familiar with it?  You're lucky.  Look it up.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Citizen Grouch Recommends...Deon Meyer

A new Grouch discovery:  Deon Meyer, a South African writer of contemporary mysteries staged in South Africa.  I picked his most recent book off of the new book shelf of the library because of its South Africa theme.  The Missus and I visited South Africa in the mid-80s and I have been fascinated with the region ever since.  The Book is "Trackers" and it is a complex and completely engrossing tale that weaves several characters from his previous books into one grand read.   Since finishing it I have backtracked and read earlier books that fill in where the characters came from and why they are in the situations that they exist in, in "Trackers".   I'm reading "Dead Before Dying" now and the book is absolutely impossible to put down.  I have only a couple chapters to go and I can't believe it will ended.   

I rate this author and the books A++++++++++

That's Colonel Grouch to you

Today I was promoted to O-6 Colonel in the State Reserve.  It's been a long journey from April 1977 when my fiance and my mother pinned my 2LT bars onto my uniform to the promotion of today.  I never expected to get this far.  I was honored and humbled to receive the rank.

Later in the afternoon I did the electronic small arms simulator rifle qualification course.  It's like a giant video game that you part of, sort of like being in Tron.  The shooter uses a full size and weight M16 with a functioning bolt group so you get the recoil and shifting weight of the real rifle when you shoot. The movie screen has your zero target and the pop up targets.  You load the rifle with a magazine and shoot electrons at the screen.  In my relay of 9 shooters I was the second to zero the rifle and shot the highest score of the relay and maybe for the whole day.  Not bad for a guy with 58 year old eyes!   The biggest problem for me was getting down into the prone position and getting back up again.  War may be hell but getting old is heck.

It was a fun day and topped off by attending Young Son's high school band banquet along with the Missus and Young Daughter who was also in the band in her day.  Another of the 'lasts' as Young Son finishes each marker in his high school life.  Last boy scout meeting, last prom, last high school football game, last band banquet...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Catching up with the Grouch's

So, it's been some time since I've done any posting here.  In fact it took me about 6 days from when I first started working on this one to finish it.  Too much going on!  In the interest of catching up on the goings-on in Grouchland, here are some pictures of events over the last couple of months.

After a very dry winter we had a couple monsoon-type rain storms.  The rain came down so hard the pool filled up and the back yard started filling also.  The water was rising and creeping towards the back doors.  Yikes!  Young son and the Grouch went to the local fire station to fill sandbags and bring them home to stack around the two back doors.  Thirty bags weighing about 35 lbs each.  We got a workout!   The rain stopped, the water receded, and two months later we had to dispose of 30 bags of sand.  Groan!

The Missus took this picture recently of a guest who stopped by to use our pool.  Glad he found the water to his liking!

Young Son playing with the jazz ensemble at the local pizza parlor for the monthly jazz night.  This time it happened on my birthday!  I couldn't ask for a better present.
Pizza and friends, what more could I ask for on my birthday?
The birthday celebration moved to Grouch estates for two nice ice cream cakes.  Yum!

Young Kerby taking her leisure on the couch.

The Missus with her prize-winning quilt at the local quilt guild show that she helped set up in April

The Grouch tries out his ultra nice, ultra high end 1.75 gallon watering can that he received from little Ladybug for his birthday.  what a perfect gift!  Too bad the aim was off and the plant was missed completely!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Prom night and an award

Young Son and his friend attended the senior prom at the local high school last Saturday.  They are friends only but if you ask me they are made for each other, however they are young and much of life is in front of them.  It was a beautiful day for a party!

Young Son and friend get the traditional photo in the front yard that has been the location of choice for photographs for 24 years in the Grouch family.  I like his military bearing in this picture.  Stomach in, shoulders back!

The happy couple promenade on the way to the bus to take them to the event.  The promenade  is quite the event in itself with all the parents and friends cheering the party goers. 

A handsome couple!

The paparazzi jostled each other to get the best photos of this couple!

The following Tuesday Young Son was awarded a scholarship of $500 towards college from the Xi Nu Zeta of Beta Sigma Phi sorority.  The proud parents stand with Young Son and his guidance counselor.  We weren't surprised that Y.S. received the scholarship but were a bit bemused at the source of the scholarship but any organization that lists Minnie Pearl as a member is good enough for us.

Walkin' in L.A. Part 3

After we finished at the Hollywood Bowl we loaded up to drive to Wilshire blvd.  The trip took us through Hollywood (not too surprising since we had been at the Hollywood bowl).  We parked on Wilshire and walked down to the La Brea tar pits (which is the same as saying the the tar tar pits since La Brea is Spanish for 'the tar' or at least close enough), through the grounds and down to another interesting neighborhood, through it the Farmer's Market and the Grove,  then back the way we came to the Harry Potter store, back to the car, back through Hollywood to Universal City Walk for dinner at Bubba Gump's Shrimp Company and back home.  Total distance walked for the day: 8 miles.  Not too bad.

The roof of the La Brea nature center has a sign that told us 'no exercising on the roof' so Young Son immediately dropped to knock out 20.

The tableau that brings tears to the eyes of all of the school kids on a field trip to the tar pits.  The poor mama mastodon is stuck tight while the baby cries on the shore and the dad wonders who is going to cook dinner tonight.

The famous 'Grove' shopping mile.  Lots of stores, lots of expensive stuff we can't afford.  Onward!

More interesting architecture.  The neighborhood was very ecclectic in its style of house; neo colonial Spanish next to faux English cottage revival, etc.

I liked the looks of this drinking spot at Universal City Walk

The Grouch at the end of the long day.  Man, I'm tired!