Tag Archives: Family

Black Friday: The Fun Room Revealed

“Oh my what? Let me see,” said Yo as he rolled in to the Fun Room.

“Wow, what a fun room,” said Yo.

“Hence the name ,” said Larry.

“Vow, that looks like quite a lot of fun,” smirked Jan peeking around the corner.

Sprawled before them lay a large room bounded by several chests of toys. At the center was a large, plush and inviting area rug. The wall at the far end was made up entirely of uniformly spaced book shelves. The uniformity was broken up by the center shelf which framed a large television.

“If Xena is here she may not want to leave,” said Yo.

“You think so?,” asked Larry.

“You think she would leave this room-o-fun to come to back to the Big Box. What do we have to offer,” asked Yo.

“Well, I’m part of the package,” replied a forlorn Larry.

It’s tough to tell when a box is forlorn but his corners were droopy and his cardboard top was a bit damp.

From out of the darkness the gang heard a sleepy voice mumble “Hey, could you newbies find a place to crash so I can get back to sleep.”

“Xena?,” exclaimed Larry.

Shining the bat utility light in the direction of the voice, Larry found himself looking at gleaming black box on a shelf below the big TV.

“Is that you Larry?”

“Yes, it’s me Xena but I don’t recognize you. If it wasn’t for the sweet voice of yours I wouldn’t know who I was talking to.”

“That’s right you’ve never seen me outside of a box.”

“Well, we’re here to rescue you from , um, what is this place?”

“It’s a homeless shelter for families Larry. Families stay here while we help them get back on their feet.”

“Oh. Sounds like a good place.”

“Oh it is.”

“So, you wouldn’t want to come back to the Big Box with me, or us ?”

“Which is it Larry? You, or us?”

“Well, I miss you, so me. They want you back also, so us too.”

“Larry, I’ve missed you and I’ve missed the rest of the gang too but I finally feel that I have a purpose here. The kids need me. I bring joy to them and I think they really need some of that in their lives right now.”

“Oh. Yea that sounds much more important than anything at the Big Box,” said Larry as his drooping corners became more noticeable.“

“Don’t be sad Larry. I have an idea. Why don’t you and the rest of the gang just stay here.”

“Is that possible?”

“Of course Larry. All kinds of things are always getting donated here, clothes , books and obviously toys. No one will be upset if more toys suddenly just show up.”

“Well, I would like to free my inner lego set and bring joy to some kids. This 10,000 piece puzzle box disguise is harshing my mellow,” said Larry as he
looked at Yo and winked.”

“Yea, I see what you did their said Yo.”

“What do think guys,” asked Larry.

“Well, I guess I can put up with tossing my string more often if I can bring some smiles to some kids,” said a smiling Yo.

“Why not my fine chums,” said Batman. ” The Batmobile needs a charge anyway.”

In unison they all nodded their heads and said yes.

Stosh was a little too vigorous in his head shaking but with a click Jan had his head popped back into place.

“Well it settled then,” stated Xena.

“Wait a minute,” said a new voice. “No one asked me.”

“Is that you Robin my fine feathered chum,” asked Batman.

“Holy short term memory loss, of course it is Batman.”

“Well is it ok with you chum?”

“Of course I can’t stay mad at you.”

“Well, I am glad that’s settled,” said Xena. ” Larry, when we get some alone time we should talk. I think we both have some unsaid things to be said.”

“Oh, yes I suppose we do.”

“Where has our coiled friend gone to,” asked Batman.

Yo rolled to the doorway, “He’s stuck to the carpet again. I think he’s going to need all of us with hands this time.”

Larry shrugged his corners and smiled, ”I guess that leaves me out.”
He shuffled over to Xena. “So, lets talk shall we.”

Xena looked down and smiled. “Yes, I would like that.”

Random Acts of Family

Some families are the Walton’s and some are the Sopranos. My family lies right in the center. We don’t share the same house and say good night to each other but we do not pay a visit to your house to say good night forever.

We are not involved in crime or violence* and are good candidates to be voted family least likely to tune you up.

We are not without our own issues. No we don’t have old disagreements seething below the surface resulting in long periods of incommunicado. We talk to each other quite frequently . The problem is that our conversation does not seem to to get the job done when information needs to be conveyed

One of the most common phrases uttered during our conversations is “no one told me that”. Of course the “no one” being referred to here is any person having come in contact with us.

Given our track record we consider family news from the Kwiki Mart clerk as reliable.

The information lapses that have occurred through the years have ranged from the loss of a favorite relative to “we’re coming to visit after Christmas”. The latter being the most recent incident and directly affected yours truly.

During a visit this past Thanksgiving, a casual conversation with my mom revealed she and my brother would be visiting after Christmas. “Oh, really. No one told me that.” I’m going to have to have a talk with that Kwiki Mart clerk.

A phone conversation with my brother on Thanksgiving day confirmed the rumor was true. “I guess we should ask if it’s ok.” he said.

Well of course it would be ok. To be honest this visit had been expected for sometime. I had hired my wildly talented brother to redo my kitchen over a year ago. Everything went smoothly until the flooring arrived. It resembled what I had ordered in the manner that I resemble Brad Pitt. Not so much.

I requested floor samples to make the right choice and my brother moved on to work jobs that he had lined up. Business was picking up for him and given the state of the economy I was perfectly satisfied with my temporary kitchen flooring of a sheet of plastic and a throw rug. Hey don’t knock it. Cleaning the kitchen floor involves shaking the rug out on the back porch and sweeping the plastic. No fuss, no muss. Too bad I was not still in college to enjoy the full benefits during after party cleanup.

The family visit was to finish up my kitchen. My brother was coming to finish the floor and my mom was going to make sure we didn’t kill each other. Truth be told my mom likes to organize and I don’t. She would be happy. I have plenty of things to organize.

After all was said and done I had a wonderful time with my family and my kitchen looks awesome.

My place had the crap organized out of it and most important of all I feel loved. I want to thank my family for that.

My bathrooms could stand to be remodeled. I’ll have to mention that to the Kwiki Mart clerk.

*Unless you consider the english language a victim of my writing.

For Mothers Day, Something Completely Different (Glaring Omission)

One the right side of my blog there is a list of tags entitled “Where I Get My Grins”. These are to indicate what my posts are about , what makes me laugh  and the sources of my humor. The one glaring omission is the tag “Mother”. She is definitely a source of humor for me. Not that she makes me laugh though she does. Not that I laugh at her, I do and visa versa. It’s in the sense that I have learned how to approach life, by laughing through it all, from her. When life give you lemons laugh , besides we like our lemonade sweet and too much sugar is not good for you.

If you have followed my stories here you have noticed that for a blog in the category of humor it has a tale or two that at first glance would not seem to warrant the tag of “Humor” or “Humour” for those more worldly than I.  Those postings stand out a bit because they cover topics of loved ones lost. If you have read them you realize they are not really about death but of how to celebrate life and to laugh through it all . This lesson I learned from my mother and consider the most valuable of all that she has taught me.

Thank you Mom. Happy Mothers Day*.

*Go out and enjoy the strange weather we’re having. I’m sure it has nothing to do with global climate change. (An inside joke we share).

Bring Plenty of Tortillas and Relax, Its Going to Be a Bumpy Ride.

California Highways are notorious for traffic but not known for the endless  entertainment they can provide. Now my California peeps will read this and think I am out of my mind or “…and he hasn’t been institutionalized yet? Imagine that”.I have spent a few years recently in Southern California but I also lived in  DC and Northern Virginia (NOVA) for fifteen years and I contend its traffic situation is worse. The NOVA traffic was nowhere near as predictable as Southern California and that is why it was more painful. Now if you have followed my adventures here you know that I was back in Southern California recently for the funeral services of loved ones. I won’t recount that here, please read “Family, Much Harder to Say Goodbye Than to Love” for the riveting details.  What I will reveal is just how entertaining a Southern California traffic jam (SCTJ) can be. No really, I am sober and my room has no padding. If you are a passenger and a people watcher then I highly recommend the SCTJ experience. It rivals LAX in people watching*.

“Floppy Hat Girl”. She was the first person of interest we spotted in our SCTJ experience from LA to San Diego on a holiday weekend. The traffic was expected, the entertainment value was not. I was alerted to Floppy Hat Girl when my sister had pointed her out by saying “how can that girl see where she is driving?”. Turning around I spotted her pulling up along side of  us. To this day I still have no idea what she looked like. If I was an eye witness to a crime she committed my only response in the interview would have been, “I think the perp” , too many cop shows, “ was a female. Her cheek bones gave me that impression. It was hard to tell . She had this blue floppy hat that obscured the rest of here features. Honestly I don’t know how she drove the get away car”.  Floppy Hat Girl provided us with some good moments along the drive. I even wrote a little song dedicated to “My Floppy Hat Girl”. I am working out the chords on my guitar. I will let you know when it drops.

Next up in the cavalcade of characters was the cliche Southern Californian. In this case a shoeless female looking totally chill in the parking lot of an SC traffic Jam. How do I know she was shoeless you ask? The bare foot propped up on the driver side window was a big clue. I figured as a fashion conscious California girl her shoes or lack thereof were matching.

The driver that made me laugh the most was one that I did not see first hand but was witnessed by my cousin-in-law in our caravan. Apparently this particular driver had gotten hungry during the drive , or the park in this case, and was spotted warming tortillas on his dash board. It appeared to my cousin-in-law that once warm he was eating it plain. This led to all sorts of speculation as to whether he preps his dashboard with any cooking spray or special spices and what types of dashboards make the best warmers. Does it only work for tortillas or can bread or buns be substituted?  You can take it from there I am sure.

The commute to San Diego from LA took over four hours and as experiences go I would not intentionally seek it out. But if you find your self in this position make sure you are a passenger and pay attention to those around you. It will make the experience a little more  bearable.  A package of tortillas and a can of Pam couldn’t hurt either.

* While flying out to LA on a weekly basis  few years back, I invented a game that I played with a business colleague called “Guess What They do for a Living”. I have played it in airports all over the country. LAX is the best place to play it , although no matter where its played it never fails to entertain.

Uncle Bingo’s Travelling Road Show

It is strange how sometimes life’s paths seem to take us away from our initial goals, but if we just give them a chance and play out the hand,  we may get what we wanted in the first place.

It was the year 2000 and the world had just survived the current disaster de jour, the millennium had come and gone and the various tools of its destruction had failed to cause a nasty smell let alone bring on the four horses of the apocalypse.  The biggest hammer, the millennium bug, the software version of the plague  had come and gone with very few casualties save for the Japanese man who had feared nuclear destruction and fled to Australia with a blow gun, a flak jacket and a chemical warfare suit.  It’s true folks . I couldn’t make that up.  I am not sure that qualifies as a casualty but I am sure his friends missed him.  It was also the year that I finally got off my butt and did what I had been talking and thinking about for some time, Uproot myself from Northern Virginia where I had landed after graduating from college. I had been there for fifteen years and I had made some really great friends but I wanted to be a little closer to my family. I had two nephews who I saw once a year and I had a niece on the way. I wanted to make sure that she did not know me as ” the uncle that showed up at Christmas, brought me a present and whose name I had to be reminded of”. Of course when they’re young they probably would take two out of three as long as one of the two are “present”.   Ok , not to fully take the air out of the “ he is such a family guy” sails but I also wanted to be in a place where I could enjoy the outdoors and ski more. I had taken up skiing several years before and I needed to make sure my jones could always be met.  Hey, when the knees are gone I am going to have to lean on my family.

I found a job in Boulder Colorado and in June of 2000 I jumped in my Mustang and took the long way to Colorado via Michigan to visit my brother. While I was there my niece had entered the world. Perhaps it was just a coincidence that I was leaving for Kansas the next day and would see her soon. Perhaps not. Perhaps it was her way of insuring that I would never forget her birthday.  Six hundred and some odd miles later I was visiting with my newborn niece.  While I was experiencing some trepidation at starting my new life, I completely forgot it while contemplating her new life. Funny thing about birth , it tends to put things in perspective.

Its strange, now that I live in Colorado I do more traveling then I ever have in the past but I see my family more often.  Usually I can arrange my travels so that they take me through Kansas for a visit. If I am not traveling I have been known to jump in my Mustang (yep the same one) for a short cruise , they are only 7.5 hours away when there is no construction on I-70 and the highway patrol cooperates.   It was during one of those “short cruise” visits during the fourth of July where my niece gave me the nickname that I love and will go with me to my grave*. Out of the blue one day she said to me “Your not Uncle Dan, You’re Uncle Bingo”. Of course her logic was solid when I asked why, “I dunno just cause you are”.  Works for me.  It also seems to work for the rest of my family who affectionately call me  , I am sure its with affection, Uncle Bingo or just Bingo.

So if you hear the sound of fun coming your way it may be the circus or you may just be getting a visit from Uncle Bingo’s Traveling Road Show. Don’ t worry, it will be entertaining and I hardly ever leave a mess. Well nothing that can’ t be cleaned up or forgiven by the next visit.

*Oh sure ,when I am an 80 year old man “Uncle Bingo” will sound kind of weird but when that time comes it will just be “endearing” or creepy. I’m betting on the former.

Family, Much Harder to Say Goodbye Than to Love

   Family reunions come in all shapes and sizes and for many different reasons.This particular one happened because of the passing of two members. To know the Oneills is to know chaos. Rarely any gathering happens in this family without parts of the group getting lost, showing up late or leading the entire group on a path that not even GoogleMaps, MapQuest and even GPS could lead them back from.

   The passing of loved ones often leads to the pondering of ones own timeline. Specifically how short it is. I am somewhat relieved to report that due to one of the funeral services I can check off two items from my bucket list. Item number 372*)Spend a confusing hour in the basement of a mausoleum and number 373) Be chauffeured in a golf cart through a cemetery. Yes, conveniently I have planned consecutive items for the same location. The Oneill’s may not know where we are going but we are organized on the way to not getting there.

    Items  372 , and 373 were achieved during my Grandmothers life ceremony. I call it a life ceremony. It was about the celebration of her life and wonderful family and friends. All of the people to be in attendance showed up early for the ceremony. This should have been a harbinger of things to come. We had all  formed a motorcade to Los Angeles from San Diego where the previous day we held the life ceremony of my Uncle. That ceremony was a beautiful tribute to a veteran in a military cemetery and went off without a hitch. Perhaps that was due to my Uncle not being an Oneill by blood.  Members of the family were concerned for those that would have to brave the 405 , the 5, the 805 and  whatever 05 was involved in leaving LA during rush hour on a holiday weekend. Since we had all arrived at the cemetery ahead of time an effort was made to start the ceremony early.  Now if I had claimed I heard the strains of Beethoven’s fifth symphony when this decision was made I would have been label “nuts” but I swear it happened.

   Which leads me to bucket list items 372 and 373. From the main building of the cemetery or the “greeting area” ** we caravanned over to the mausoleum section of the cemetery. Rolling up to the mausoleums, yes plural queue the Beethoven, we entered en masse. Now as is usual with this group , someone ( we are never really sure who the someone is in these family debacles) suggested that the ceremony was on the basement floor. To be fair there was no official “greeter” from the funeral parlor, perhaps they themselves were confused as to where they were supposed to be doing the  greeting.  Perhaps back at the “parlor” . In any case a majority of the group decided that was a good idea which is how I found myself checking off number 372. After close to an hour, during which several party members went to find out what was going on and never returned*** and some official funeral types never showed up  to smirk and tell us we were in the wrong place, we decided by ourselves that such was the case and the best move was back to ground level. I for one hailed any decision in a cemetery that moves me back to ground level. Returning to the main floor we were greeted by official funeral types who were ready to take us to a different mausoleum via golf carts. Check off number 373. My sister and I jumped into a golf cart while my niece caught a ride in a limo. I am not sure how she wangled that. She’s only eleven. I have never ridden in a limo and that is a lot higher on my list. After a distance that was so short it was comical we arrived at the proper mausoleum for a ceremony at ground level.

    The ceremony itself was simple and beautiful. Memories were shared , kind words spoken and tears were shed. In a little over an hour we had experienced a lot of what life has to offer, grief, confusion, love and laughter. Now some of you may be thinking that  I am a sick individual for making light of the death of loved ones. Those of you thinking that do not know me and my family (either side) very well. This is how we deal with grief , confusion and life in general, we laugh. When my father passed away ,  my mother , my siblings and I had to make the arrangements. The experience can be a bit macabre  and at some point we grounded ourselves with our usual coping mechanism. We laughed. After looking at caskets and making ceremony choices we had completed the arrangements to the sound of an accompanying old-fashioned credit card reader, the kind that slide with an unmistakable “ch ch” sound. To the chagrin of the funeral directory we likened it to the sound of another angel getting his wings and broke out in laugher while the director looked on in horror. Imagine that, surrounded by death and he was aghast at laughter.

    It was said by several family members that , while the funerals were an occasion of sorrow, they did bring us together once again for a family reunion and we were grateful to be in each others company. Once back in San Diego, more memories and laughs were shared until it was time to bid adieu and anticipate the next occasion the Oneills will wander confused but together.

*Yes its a long list. How could it not be, It covers a lifetime.

**Confusing enough. Anywhere two live bodies can congregate in a cemetery could be a greeting area.

*** Now to be fair they may have returned but it was the basement of a mausoleum. It  was dark and damp and I was perhaps a bit cranky.