Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Advice to my Niece the Graduate

Gelly the Graduate! 
While I was vacationing in San Diego this June for my niece Angelica's graduation, I pondered on what to write about. I wanted to impart some wisdom to her from her Crazy Uncle Marc. What could I say which she would appreciate?

At her graduation party, I had already told her how proud of her I was. How I enjoyed so much watching her grow up, becoming a responsible young adult, graduating with honors, and receiving her diploma! There needed to be something more...

The next day, I was in San Diego's Balboa Park enjoying a morning to myself wandering around the gardens, studying the architecture, all the while trying to allow my thoughts and ideas to come together through my surroundings. NOTHING. LOL. I sat outside the Botanical Gardens watching koi fish lazily swim to and fro. I got out my laptop and realized my laptop was dead! Argh!!! I forgot to check the battery! I was getting nowhere fast.

I decided I'd grab a quick beer in the Prado Restaurant and brainstorm. Sitting with my beer, I was playing with my camera when I caught the whiff of something so strong, yet fresh and energizing! I glanced over at the bartender. He had just plucked an entire pitcher full of fresh mint leaves for mojitos. The bartender said he barely noticed it anymore, having spent each morning for months plucking off the fresh mint leaves.

Botanical Gardens, Balboa Park, San Diego
WOW, I thought, what an incredible scent. And then it hit me upside the head like the San Diego desert heat! That's it! Angelica needs to appreciate the details in this journey we call life. So I went old school, got out my pad and pen and began writing furiously. 

ANGELICA (OR Gelly, as we call her), just take moments and stop and listen to the cacophony of life around you. For instance, while I was at that bar, I heard:
the Chef speaking Spanish while stirring a large pot of sopa,
the clinking of bar glasses,
the soft jazz in the background,
the bartender shaking his cocktail mixer, making endless mojitos,
the jarring sound of a dropped silver tray,
and the murmurings of the waitstaff during lunch.

Uncle Marc and Gelly on the way to graduation!
This is LIFE! It is quick, it rushes by. You need to take stock of your life AS IT HAPPENS and enjoy it to the fullest. There are wondrous things to see and experience in every aspect of it from the mundane to the exciting; from the sad times to the happy times! Obviously, don't spend every second obsessing over every minute detail but appreciate the details you do notice! These details are what makes up your very existence as you experience it. Because before you know it, you will be older and wondering in amazement at how fast it has all gone.

Some observations off the top of my head to help you realize what I am talking about: (in no particular order)

  • The strong scent of fresh herbs or flowers (think rosemary, mint, lilacs, or honeysuckle)
  • The softness of your doggie Zoey the Morkie's hair
  • Zoey's rhythmic breathing while sleeping
  • Spending the day just wandering and not (G-D forbid) always checking into social media
  • The smells and tastes of your Mom's cooking
  • The taste of fresh fruit and veggies
  • Learning to appreciate all types of music from the soft jazz playing in the background of a restaurant to your favorite country music (And I know you know a TON of country music, LOL.)
  • The smell of fresh sheets and towels
  • Your favorite perfume
  • The warmth from rays of sunshine on your face
  • Quiet time alone
  • The refreshing crisp feeling of jumping into a pool
  • Drinking ice cold water and feeling it deep inside you
  • Actually listening to the birds during the morning
  • ENJOY the morning, take 5 extra minutes and drink your coffee outside!

I could go on and on. I hope this helps. I truly wish you the best. As they say, you are the master of your own destiny and YOU ARE THE AUTHOR OF YOUR OWN LIFE STORY. (OK OK, I got that from the pictured card, but oh so true!)

And some general advice from your Uncle:

Become cultured.
Take time for yourself to learn, grow, and heal.
Accept your imperfections.
Do something you love for your career, don't get sucked into what others want you to do.
Learn a language.
Fireball, if consumed in large quantities, is a bad choice.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Saving the Turtle, Losing the Tractor

Eastern Box Turtle hiding. 
Last Saturday John asked me to go to yard sale up and over Blue Mountain to hunt for some vintage and antique treasures. We'd get out by 7:30 AM and be at the yard sale within 15 minutes. My normal morning-self once again was lagging behind. I desperately needed a cup of coffee, some healthy carbs and a bit of protein. After that and about half a dozen various pills for ongoing ailments, I was ready to go!

We were just chatting while driving towards the mountain when out of the corner of my eye, I spied a turtle on the side of the road starting to cross the highway.

"TURTLE!" I yelled. "We have to stop and save him!"
"Marc, NO!" John flatly exclaimed. "Rt 183 is too dangerous, the highway is too busy. I'm not gonna let you get into an accident just to save a turtle!"
"John, I gotta save him. Don't worry I'll turn around where it's safe. I HAVE to save him. I'll be beside myself if we drive back this way and he is run over. I'll feel awful! I will NEVER forgive myself!"

Turtle on the floor in my back seat.
John was hemming and hawing but I was insistent. I was gonna save that damn turtle. So I ended up pulling off down a dirt road to safely turn around. Unfortunately, that "turn around" was also on a blind curve. Whoops, not such a safe place to pull out ...

"Marc, I can't believe you are doing this, this is so unsafe."
"Don't worry, I'll just inch out and maybe go NOW!" I slammed on the brakes, an eighteen wheeler screamed by missing us by a foot.

John, for some reason, was visibly freaked out by now. I was shaking from our near miss but that was not gonna dissuade me from the task at hand! I pulled out and drove back towards the turtle.

Once I reached him, I pulled off to the side of the road with traffic rushing by at breakneck speeds. The turtle was sitting on the shoulder of the road, poor guy visibly exacerbated, hiding in his shell... the turtle ... not John.

I grabbed the turtle, now realizing it's a rare eastern box turtle, and hoisted him up to the side car window to show John.

The turtle peaking out. I gave him some cat food.
"Yeah, yeah, can we go now?" John said through the car window. I put the turtle in the grass headed towards the field but thought the better of it thinking he would just turn around into the roadway again. I quickly opened the back door and put him on the back seat car floor.

I got in the car and John was just staring at me, "Can we go now!?"
I said, "Of course, I've been ready," looking at him like he was the one who caused the delay.

We started driving up and over the mountain to the yard sale.
"Just watch out," I began, "because the turtle may come under the back seat to the front by your feet."
"Whaaat?!" he exclaimed lifting his feet.
"Well I couldn't just leave him, he looked like he was gonna head back towards the road! I'm gonna just let him go in the woods behind the house, that way, he'll be safe. Hi turtle!" I said glancing towards the back seat while driving over the mountain at 50 mph.
"MARC!" John yelled, "Focus on the road please and not the turtle!"
"Oh yeah," I replied, "OK."

John and I finally arrived at the yard sale a couple minutes later. I couldn't find a safe place to turn around, so I drove a quarter mile down the road to make a U-turn, much to John's growing annoyance. We finally got turned around and parked in front of the house and John bounded out of the car to head to the house. I told the turtle we'd be right back and not to drive off without us.

1950s John Deere child's pedal tractor
As John and I walked up to the sale, a woman walked past us carrying a vintage 1950's John Deere peddle tractor that she had just bought. John turned around after she past and yelled, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME???" If we had been just 5 minutes earlier, that peddle tractor would have been bought by him.

I felt truly AWFUL. I knew he wanted it. He continued to the yard sale and stated flatly, "I am NOT leaving until I find something, ANYTHING, at this yard sale." Well unfortunately, that lady walked off with the best item. Everything else was bric-a-brac, old Christmas ornaments, Tupperware, old bedding, and some ugly lamps.
John and his lamp.

What do you think John bought? A brushed chrome floor lamp. He paid $3.00 for a floor lamp and stomped off angrily to the car to try and fit it in with me trailing after him yelling, "Don't hurt the turtle! Don't hurt the turtle!!!" John just kept muttering, "Don't talk to me, don't talk to me."

We somehow fit the floor lamp into the car and got back in to drive back over the mountain. Never one to let a good moment go, I turned back to the turtle and asked, "Are ya ready buddy to go home?" John gave me the dirtiest look and I laughed. "I think I'll call him Boxer, the box turtle."
John said, "I think I'll call him turtle soup!"


Boxer in the woods behind the house.
Once I got home, I ended up putting the turtle in a box for a bit while figuring out where in the scrubby woods to release him. I tried feeding him some cat food kibble (which online, says you can do) but he was too shy from the incident or just plain traumatized by John. The floor lamp remains standing in the den, unplugged. I found the peddle tractor online selling for $295.00. John doesn't want the tractor ever mentioned again which is why I wrote the blog post about it. Ooops, sorry John. And lastly, Boxer the eastern box turtle is safe in his new home wandering the scrubby field and
woods behind the house.