Sunday, May 31, 2009

11.5 Fluid Oz

Anyone who knows me will tell you that food is very important to me that that grocery shopping is something I love to do. They will also tell you that I can get the you know what out of a buffalo nickel...

I went to the liquor store yesterday to pick up a 12 pack of my favorite beer. Warsteiner is a wonderful brew and is Germany's sole contribution to my everyday diet. As I stood in front of the beer cooler I noticed something odd about the 12 pack. As I read the words "Twelve 11.5 fluid oz bottles" I could feel my blood pressure increase. Everyone knows that the standard bottle or can of beer or soda is 12 fluid oz....right? I checked the other beer brands, Miller, Budweiser (why anyone would drink that is beyond me), however many imports now come in the 11.5 oz bottles.

The reduction of my favorite bottle of beer by half of a fluid oz is, it would seem, a minor irritation and one not worth writing about. However, this is one more example of a growing trend in our economy where we are offered less for the same price. For an example, ice cream used to come in half gallon containers. Then a few years ago, the size of the container shrunk to 1.75 quarts. And now...the so-called "half gallon" of ice cream has shrunk to 1.5 quarts with no corresponding reduction in price.

That this trend has struck two of my favorite things, ice cream and beer, irritates me to no end. The irritation is not just because we are paying the same (or more) for less. I understand that food producers have their costs and that these costs are inevitably passed on to the consumer. The irritation, no...make that that the worldwide increase in the cost of food...and here we are not just talking about beer and ice cream but flour, rice, cooking oil, meat, is in part, due to a shift in our agriculture away from food production and towards fuel production. Ethanol refineries are popping up across the American Midwest and farmers are reacting accordingly. A telling statistic is that the amount of corn it takes to produce to fill a 25 gallon fuel tank could feed someone for a year.

The law of supply and demand tells us that with an increasing amount of our agricultural output shifting toward fuel production will mean an inevitable increase in the cost of food. This appears too high a price to pay to keep our SUVs on the road.

And I miss that half a fluid ounce of Warsteiner.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Back In The Saddle

Dear Friends,

Well...I have decided to climb back into the saddle again and resume regular postings as there is much insanity, nonsense, and craziness that has gone uncommented upon these last few weeks.

Yesterday, while at the grocery, I noticed that I had been paying the same price for less on a number of items...needless to say this got under my I will be bitching about that tomorrow.

Have a lovely afternoon...


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gone Fishing

I went fishing this morning. Aidan has been after me to take him fishing so I borrowed some of my father's tackle so we can go fishing next week.

As has been the case of late, I was up at 5:30 wondering what to do with myself. The kids were at their moms', Joey was sound asleep, and the idea of turning on the TV had no appeal. Sitting in the corner of my living room, however, were a few fishing poles and a tackle box.

I used to go fishing often...usually in salt water...always to catch fish to eat. This morning, however, I simply walked down the street to the local pond and cast my line for trout. As we have turned our rivers and ponds into dumping sites I do not have the courage to eat locally caught fresh water fish. However, whereas previous expeditions were about catching fish, this mornings' was about going fishing. It was about standing on a bridge, casting my line, and not caring whether I caught anything or not.

I spent two hours this morning on that bridge, immersed in the sounds of running water, birds singing, and leaves gently rustling in the cool breeze. Admittedly, I would still be there had not falling rain broken the spell and brought me back into the present and to myself. And now I feel more like myself than I have for several months.

I need to fish more often.

(by the way...I caught five trout...all of whom were returned to their watery home none the worse for wear)

Friday, May 15, 2009

May 15

I was supposed to be doing something else today. Or so I thought. Once again I am reminded of the fragility of human relationships and how expectations can change with a suddenness that is both abrupt and cruel.

Had I made a series of different decisions I would be celebrating one birthday today. I had learned from that experience that there are consequences, both intended and unintended, to each decision we make, everything we do, and everything we don't do. That these acts effect those around us and that we need to proceed with care and love.

I would be celebrating still yet another birthday today had the universe been properly aligned. From this experience I learned that despite doing your best, despite acting with care and with love, some stories do not have happy endings.

However, instead of spending the day in some other fashion, I find that I am spending today doing exactly what I should be doing. I have faith that life, despite the awful things we have to endure...and loss is an awful thing...unfolds the way it does for a reason. I am going camping, in the rain, with my youngest son, who is delighted to have his dad to himself. And I am delighted to be with him.

Monday, May 11, 2009

On Hiatus

Dear Friends

I have euphemistically referred to how I felt as the blues or being cranky but who is fooling who...I know what this is and I am betting many of you do too. I have been fighting this for several months and I have carried this with me as far as I can.

Lately I have taken some pretty serious personal and professional blows and it seems as though the hay makers just keep coming. I am going to take a breather until I am myself again. In the meantime, I do not think I will be writing much. I am unsure as to how long with this will be.

So...for now...I will be on hiatus from this space.

Thank you for reading.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Mother's Day Memory

I must have been four or five. I know I was not yet in kindergarten and these were the days before we hustled off our kids to preschool at the earliest possible age. I remember a warm sunny day, much like the one we are enjoying today here in Massachusetts. My mother was sitting on the floor with me playing with me. We were playing with my blocks. I love fact I still do.

I remember feeling connected to her...that I was a part of her and she of me. It was, regrettably, a connection I did not often feel with either of my parents. For that afternoon, however, while playing on the floor, she was absorbed by my world, and looking back, I think she enjoyed that moment too.

We work too much, we worry about too many foolish things, we get so busy we forget to cherish those who are most important to us. We also fail to see that the simplest act, such as getting on the floor and playing blocks with a little boy can be a gesture that is cherished forever. The children you raise will carry memories of you and what you do and don't do for the rest of their lives. Proceed accordingly.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Blogs, Bloggers, and Blogging

I decided to take a few days off from this space to gather myself, take a deep breath, and the decide whether to go forward. I was considering a brief hiatus but decided to go forth once more into the breach.

One reason why I decided to continue on with this without taking a break is because I do find this to be a therapeutic exercise. I know some of us in the blogging community do this to entertain themselves, others to entertain others, and others use it as therapy. That's why I am here.

At the risk of speaking for others, I suspect many of us do this for a sense of community. Our parents generation had the advantage of have being able to talk to people in person. Most of my relationships are now online ones and I know of many other people for whom this is the case. Many people don't have the opportunity to tell their story directly to another person so this is the best forum to do so. And now you are my willing victims.

When I first heard about blogging I had thought of it as a narcissistic exercise in examining one's own belly button. Now that I have thrown myself into this I discovered that I was more right than I had ever imagined. Actually...I think this is less narcissistic than it is an exercise in sort of exhibitionism. And our readers are voyeurs.

As I am something of a showoff I think I will be here for the foreseeable future.

Monday, May 4, 2009


I realized this morning that I have written about everyone in my family except for Spot. Spot is my cat. I have had him for almost as long as I have lived on my own.

As a confirmed dog lover I was less than enthused about having a cat...however, as one of my kids' cats had a litter my children thought it would be nice for me to have one of the kittens. I named him Spot...

Initially Spot was a disruption to my household. Joey would chase him around the apartment. Spot would spring from bookcase to chair to couch to chair to dining room table to hutch without one paw ever touching the ground. This would drive Joey crazy. Joey would spend hours trying to keep up with our young kitten. At first, I was annoyed that the quiet of my new home was disrupted by this cat of all things...but I came to realize that he was good for Joey and he was good for me. However, I think his true attachment is to my dog. Whenever I take Joey out I can hear Spot meowing for his friend. I hear nothing when I go out alone.

While I suspect he loves Joey more than me, Spot and I have grown very attached...he sits next to me at night, he seeks me out when I am upset, and he is a very good listener. He sleeps during the day and I often find him sitting on my bed, watching me, in the middle of the night. I find myself surprised that he has infiltrated my life to such an extent and that I have grown so attached to him. Certain pets and a few people have the uncanny ability to work their way into the cracks and seams of your life, providing a mortar that helps hold things together. I knew my dog had done this...I am surprised my cat has as well.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Morning Rituals

I am a creature of habit. From Monday through Saturday I am a creature of routine. Depending upon the day, at certain times of the day I do certain things. I am up at 6:00 every morning, I get the kids to school by 8:00, I work until 11:00, go to the gym at 11:30, lunch at 1:00 and so on and so forth.

On Sunday, however, I have my rituals. Rituals are an attempt to give constancy and consistency to an ever changing world. The rituals of the Church are one of many reasons why I became a Roman Catholic and why I am fascinated by the Eastern Orthodox Church. However, even the Church, perhaps after clinging to the old ones a bit too long, changes its rituals once every five hundred years or so to suit the demands of the times. And so, I have found over the years, I too cling to rituals that no longer serve me and find that I too much change with the demands of the times.

This does not mean that what remains useful needs to be cast aside. Years ago I got into the habit of watching movies early on Sunday mornings. Last Sunday I watched Throne of Blood, a Japanese version of Macbeth, and this morning The Good Shepherd. I used to be able to take Joey on long walks, again, bowing to changing times, I take him out to let him sniff the ground around my apartment building and then we go out for a drive.

Such as no longer being able to take Joey out on long walks, there are many things that used to be part of my Sunday mornings that I can no longer do. Times have changed and so must I. I need new rituals for my Sundays....its a nice spring day and its 8:00 in the morning....I have a bicycle and its a nice spring day...maybe today I will ride to church. And afterwards?...well...I will figure that out when the time comes.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Table for One

Schedules and things being what they are I found myself with a free Friday night. After watching Oliver's Little League game (he went 2 for 3 with a walk, and four RBI), I headed for Boston for dinner and a drink.

I have been to Smith and Wollensky's a couple of times in what feels like another life. I enjoyed the food, the service, and the atmosphere. Located in a former armory, Boston's Smith and Wollensky's is my favorite place on earth to get a steak. The food is fantastic, the service very good, and the bartenders know how to make a martini. I decided to go because I had unexpectedly came into a little extra money and decided that I deserved a treat. I also wanted and needed the civilized experience of eating in a fine restaurant where the waitstaff does not address the patrons as "you guys" or where the word "fixins" appears anywhere on the menu. And frankly, I wanted to be waited on.

I love my children dearly, but there are times when I think I could be on fire and their first response would be to run for marshmallows. I know I am not the only parent out there with this feeling. But I found myself wanting someone else to wait on me, to have an interest in whether my needs were met, and to eat somebody else's cooking. That I had to pay for this experience is of small consequence.

Going out to a nice restaurant by myself is something I do not typically do. I would rather spend the time and the money on my kids or have it in my pocket. However, there are times when I need to put myself first, to be by myself, so I can get a little distance to see that there are others in my life that come before me. Last night, for a few hours I put myself first, but today, as usual, there are others that I gladly, cheerfully, and thankfully put first.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Martini Days

Blondie (she of The Daily Blonde) asked me in a comment on one of my posts if my martini days are over. To which my response I think I have martini moments

My blonde friend and I go back to my earliest days as a born again single guy when I enjoyed having a good time. As I settled into my new found bachelorhood I developed a taste for vodka martinis (4 parts Grey Goose, 1 Part Extra Dry Italian Vermouth, shaken, with three large olives). However, given my parental responsibilities, the opportunity for a good time and to indulge in the aforementioned concoction were rare.

I got my own place once my kids' mom was once again able to function as a parent. Every Saturday night I made myself a vodka martini to celebrate the end of the week and to greet the new one. The drink itself was not as important as what I thought it represented, which was a brief interruption from my routine, a break from wearing so many hats, a reminder that I am still myself. My martini days are behind me, I felt, but thought there was still room in my life for martini moments.

As for this weekend...after my son's little league game I have a date with a steak and an overpriced martini at one of Boston's better steak houses. I imagine the steak will be far better than what I could manage at home (however, I do grill an excellent steak), and the drink at least the equal to what I can make here. What I am looking forward to however, is not that illusory moment, however brief, where I am not a dad, not a mortgage broker, not a boyfriend, not anything except Tom. What I am looking forward to is what comes afterwards, when I am reminded that the connections in my life make me who I am. My relationships define who I am and allow me to be truly myself.