Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Apples and Banananananananas

Crazy Train (of thought)

I saw a sign at a new commercial construction site that read “Only three left!” There were only four units in the first place. I guess that’s what we call spin.

I observed a nice articulate East Indian woman trying to help a redneck Georgia woman try to use the self-service scanner at the grocery checkout. Frustrated she couldn’t get it right, the redneck blurted out, “If you ain’t gonna speak good English, you ought not be allowed to work here.” Welcome to America; welcome to Georgia.

It drives me nuts the way coffee vendors always ask “Would you like a muffin, a brownie or one of our new CDs with that?” What if every business went for that additional impulse buy – “Would you like an AirStream with that new truck?” or “Can I get you a new pair of jeans to go with those new shoes?” Meagan would shop in that store I’m sure.

Listening to the radio today I heard a news lead-in that sounded like “Georgia High Schools Decide How to Deal with Athletes in Heat.” It made me wonder, aren’t all students in high School in heat?

The great heroes of the contemporary South are Jesus, Ronny Van Zant and Dale Earnhardt, and unfortunately, not necessarily in that order.

Someone who read “Simple Acts: Creating Happiness for Yourself and Those You Love,” my latest book that lists 500 ways to stir happiness, left a message for me that said, “I’ve already done numbers 86, 114, 374, and 390, and I’m going to do number 37 tomorrow.” What? I’m sorry honey, I don’t have them memorized.

Marital Bliss

A joke a friend sent to me yesterday…

A man and his ever-nagging wife went on vacation to Jerusalem. While they were there, the wife passed away. The undertaker told the husband, "You can have her shipped home for $5,000, or you can bury her here, in the Holy Land, for $150." The man thought about it and told him he would just have her shipped home. The undertaker asked, "Why would youspend $5,000 to ship your wife home, when it would be wonderful to be buried here and you would spend only $150?" The man replied, "Long ago a man died here, was buried here, and three days later he rose from the dead. I just can't take that chance."

Maybe not blissful, but funny all the same.


When I picked Linley up from cheerleading practice she wanted to plug her iPOD into my Rover speakers, which are pretty loud at 240 watts. She rolled down her window and proceeded to play her favorite songs at top volume, hanging her head out the window for all her fellow cheerleaders to see and hear. Later, as we were driving home, volume still up, I asked her if she had any Raffi songs. She quickly shuffled to a new song and began singing “Apples and Bananas” at the top of her lungs. It wasn’t until we were pulling away from a red light, when she noticed someone staring at her, that she realized she also still had her window down.

Book Report

I have been handing out promotional copies of my latest book, “Simple Acts,” to friends and neighbors who posed for its various pictures depicting the happiness creating acts I describe in it. I’ve had to leave several by the door or in mailboxes when the intended recipient wasn’t home. It has been fun getting phone calls from adults and kids alike who are delighted to see themselves in print. One family in particular with three children who have posed wants to make a fieldtrip to one of the bookstores to actually see the book on a shelf, and I’m invited to go along and then have lunch afterward. Who would’ve thunk it – my work is so much fun!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Post # 125!

Crazy Train (of thought)

My new neighbor told us he knew he had found the woman for him when his future wife told him that it hacks her off when someone stands in front of the TV while a game is on.

If you can’t count well enough to see that you have more than 10 items in your cart, should you be driving a car and using a debit card?

When visiting a friend I looked over at their dining room rug and found a big dog turd. It made me feel right at home.

Some wonder why I have so little affection for Princess. Let me tell you a story. I once dated a woman who went into maxed-out credit card debt to pay for not one, but three, emergency surgeries to remove a thong from her dog’s stomach (I told her to just stop wearing underwear, but that’s another story). Princess doesn’t have half the brain that dog did, and Jill and that old girlfriend share the same “whatever it costs” philosophy regarding vet bills. You’d be scared, too, wouldn’t you?

When Princess sneezes Jill and Linley call it a “love blow.” I call it snot.

Marital Bliss

Jill asked me if I planned on leaving love notes in her lunch again this year. I teased and said no because she never mentioned finding them; I though she threw them away with the napkins. She got up from the table, rummaged through her kitchen drawer and came back with a stack of my letters to her. “I save every one of them,” she said. “They mean the world to me.” Yes, my love, I’ll write letters for you again this year. In fact, I’ve already written one for you to find in your lunch tomorrow.


Linley and I were listening to “Smoke On the Water” on the way to school this morning, the first song I learned to play on the guitar over 30 years ago. Then we sang “Wasted Away in Margaritaville.” Just when you were beginning to think I’m raising this child like a heathen, I throw you a curve ball. We ended our morning together talking about church and getting closer to God. Our conversation about her desire to help friends find Jesus reminded me of my own desire to touch people in positive ways, including helping them think of their faith. To that end…

Book Report

…this is the Acknowledgment of a book I just completed called “Thank You”:

“A book about giving thanks to parents would not be complete with also giving thanks to my Heavenly Father. As I confessed in my introduction, I sometimes succumb to human nature and think to myself it was my research, talent and perseverance that resulted in my success as an author. The truth is, however, years ago I was lost and in despair, and I had not an ounce of experience in creative writing. One evening in a prayer I asked for help and then did my best to go forward with hope. Soon certain events began to transpire - like a friend telling me of a successful little book that eventually inspired me to write; my introduction to Janet Lankford-Moran, the photographer who helped me complete my first book; meeting Ron Pitkin, my publisher, who coincidentally but not known to me until later, was the publisher of the successful little book that got me started in the first place; and then there are all those events in my life that have been the fabric with which my stories about love, faith, forgiveness and duty are woven. And now my book about thanks, the only one that has closed with a testimonial such as this, is in your hands. Coincidence? Serendipity? Chance? I think not. I once was lost, but now I’m found. Thank you God.”

I may have already posted this, I’m not sure, but it doesn’t matter either. You can never witness too much or give thanks too often.

Monday, August 28, 2006

What's your sign?

Crazy Train (of thought)

A Jill observation after seeing The Trump on a commercial: “Money can’t buy you good hair.”

While waiting for a table at a restaurant recently I stood and gave my seat to an elderly woman. As she thanked me she said, “People just don’t do that anymore.” What a shame if that’s true.

We have new neighbors in the ‘hood and Jill, Laura, Allison and I thought they should be broken in properly. We crashed their place late Saturday night with a few bottles of wine and suddenly a party started. We all laughed until nearly midnight. They are still here; we haven’t chased them away.

Speaking of parties, we also went to one Friday night and stayed late into the evening, but all grew tired at the same time and then everyone was standing outside ready to get in their cars and leave. Suddenly Laura decided we needed one more song so she turned her stereo up loud and started singing “Dancing in the Streets.” Everyone did, except Allison and I. We were on the lookout for the cops.

At this same party we found a book about how your astrological sign predicted your sexual aptitude. Seems Jill and I are very well matched. We could have told you that.

Marital Bliss

I took a photo of Jill and me for my next book project about romantic relationships. She is smiling and partially covering her face with a fan that has the word Love on it and I’m whispering something in her ear about her being a Libra. I’ll leave it to your imagination to guess what I was saying.


Yea!!! This is a kid week! Linley come home tonight and Meagan tomorrow. There will be so much love in the house!

Book Report

Simple Acts: Creating Happiness for Yourself and Those You Love” will be in stores in about two weeks. Here is another clip from its introduction:

“I am deliriously happy, but I haven’t always been. There was a time in my life when I misunderstood happiness, when I thought it was complex and elusive, and not meant for me. I didn’t learn until later, but thankfully not too late, that happiness is actually quite simple and, indeed, meant for everyone. I learned that happiness can come from so many little, simple inconsequential things, things that can be done anywhere, when needed or least expected, things that anyone can do with little effort, but for big, and sometimes lasting, effect.”

I then go on and list 500 things you can do to put a smile on your face. If you buy it, I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Crazy Train (of thought)

Princess is hiding in her crate. I’m sure that means she left a gift for me somewhere.

I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should start out dead and then wake up in an old age home but no matter because you feel better with every passing day. Eventually you get kicked out for being too healthy, so you relax a few years and collect a big pension. Soon you get a burst of energy, find a job and receive a gold watch on your first day. You then work 40 years until you're young enough to enjoy your “early” retirement. After that you go to college where you drink too much alcohol, party all the time, and become very promiscuous. Realizing one day you are no longer as smart as you once were, you go to High School. To your surprise your classes just get easier over the next twelve years. One morning you wake up a little kid; you play all day, have no responsibilities and eat anything you want. One afternoon you wake up from a nap to find you have become an innocent baby and suddenly forget everything you ever felt guilty about. You start sleeping all the time until one day you are floating in a toasty spa with room service on tap. Finally, and seemingly all too quickly, you end up ... I’ll let you guess the rest.

I love talk TV but sometimes the talking heads just give me a headache.

I attended a gallery opening last night and saw six of my models there. We crowded around, sipped wine and laughed about our time together. I love having so many good friends.

Marital Bliss

I was sleeping so deeply this morning I didn’t hear the alarm go off. Jill nudged me awake, then grabbed my arm and pulled it around her, resting my hand in my favorite warm place over her heart. We then snoozed for a few minutes, a precious few minutes, sweet minutes that are fuel for me. It keeps me going all day long.

Book Report

Reader email:

“Just wanted to tell you that I saw your book "Why I Love You" and purchased it for my husband. Your book said every little thing that I have ever felt and thought about my husband. We will be reaching our 28th Wedding Anniversary next February and I have never taken my husband for granted, ever! So thank you for such a wonderful book; he will find it when he comes home from work. It's a great way to let him know that he is always on my mind.”

I wrote this book for Jill. It is special to her for so many reasons and it warms my heart to know that others use it for important purposes in their own lives.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Who's the boss

Crazy Train (of thought)

A quote I received from a friend recently: "Every day is an opportunity to make a new happy ending." Wouldn’t be nice if everyone made that their personal motto and mission?

..and in stark contrast to the kumbaya above… why is it the nut who is trying to make a left turn from the far right lane during rush hour always looks like Yoko Ono?

Just when you think Hollywood couldn’t get any nuttier, Tom Cruise gets fired. Perhaps there is hope after all.

I had a couple in the car driving to a location for a shoot when I laughed at the wife and said, “That’s okay, you go ahead and take charge of the situation.” There was a moment of silence as I wondered how that slipped from my mouth, then in a faint near-whisper the husband said, “Welcome to my world.”

I think Princess has finally figured out not to poop on the big expensive rug in the dinning room. The problem is she now uses the bathmat in the guest room. At least Jill can put it in the washing machine.

Marital Bliss

I try to give Jill lots of reasons to come home to me every day – I (albeit begrudgingly) take care of the dog she loves so much, keep flowers in a vase in the kitchen, put love notes in her lunch box, have chilled champagne waiting and I cook great meals for her. For instance, last night we had Greg’s Benedict – a crab cake and poached egg on cheesy yellow grits with spicy crawfish garlic aioli. Wait, maybe that was for me…


Meagan doubted my instructions as I told her what she needed to do to get her paycheck via direct-deposit. She ended the conversation with, “If I don’t get my first check, you owe me interest.” That’s my little capitalist!

Book Report

Good news – the stock photo agency has accepted my first submission; a photo I took at the moment a man was giving his girlfriend her engagement ring during lunch at the Ritz. How sweet is that, a new revenue stream for me and they get to be the image of love and commitment in ads all over the world for years to come (or so I hope!).

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

31 months strong

Crazy Train (of thought)

The UN can’t “actively” search for Hezbollah’s weapons? Are you kidding me? Does it take a genius like me to understand that means “we have weapons, and we’ve hidden them”? Pull out of the UN and go it alone.

The lyrics of most of today’s top songs are disgusting. I don’t know about you, but we won’t permit our daughters to walk around singing something that really means “I’m a whore and I don’t care. Take me, shake me, break me, I’m just a worthless toy.”

We attended a parent-teacher meeting last night and the French teacher said, “Learning a new language is hard at first because all the words sound different.” No kidding.

Life has a way of kicking you in the arse when you think too much of yourself, doesn’t it? I think humility should be taught at an early age – it prevents a lot of bruises.

In my line of work I take nude and partially nude photos of beautiful women. One recently told me she was very comfortable posing for me because she likes working with a photographer my age. That was rather deflating.

I had lunch with a friend of mine, a gay man. When we were finished and standing in the parking lot, I hugged him goodbye, like I do with all my good friends. I saw a woman in the cafĂ© watching us and she shook her head in distain. Who gives a crap lady; I was there for fellowship with a friend, not to impress you. Loosen up, you’ll be happier.

Marital Bliss

Jill and I just had our 31-month anniversary. Here’s a little poem I wrote for her:

I love to awaken next to you,
to hear you say my name,
to kiss you first thing in the morning,
to begin my day with you,
and to tell you over and over again
that I love you.

I love to look into your eyes,
to hold your hand in mine,
to have a little laugh with you,
to go out into the world with you,
and to tell you over and over again
that I love you.

I love to sit beside you,
to see your sweet smile,
to learn something new about you,
to spend my whole day with you,
and to tell you over and over again
that I love you.

I love to go home with you,
to relax and have fun with you,
to say thanks for what we have shared,
to end my day with you,
and to tell you over and over again
that I love you.

I love to have you in my arms,
to hold you tight against me,
to kiss you last thing in the evening,
to begin my night with you,
and to tell you over and over again
that I love you.


Meagan, my responsible, industrial little girl, has gotten herself a part-time job after school so she can make her own money for all those shoes she insists on owning and the girls’ nights out that have only increased in number since they all turned 16. Ah, finally, the door opens – she’ll soon begin to understand why I hate paying more than my fair share of taxes. Another Republican in the making!

Book Report

My newest book, “Simple Acts: Creating Happiness for Yourself and Those You Love” will be in stores in the next few weeks. Here is a snippet from the introduction:

“Do you need a book to find happiness, you might ask? Well, if you are looking for happiness, then yes, you do need this book. Because it will help you understand that happiness isn’t found, it is made. You see, happiness isn’t external to you, something you can buy or earn—it is something within you. Each of us has the ability to create our own happiness; we just need to find our personal outlet for its expression. The simple acts described in the following pages are meant to help you find your outlet. Try a few—heck, maybe even all of them. You’ll soon see that laughter and happiness follow when you act in simple, unexpected, gracious, or humorous ways.”

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Chicken DUI

Crazy Train (of thought)

People may doubt what you say, but they will always believe what you do. So do what you want to be remembered for, and nothing else.

I understand the place for personal trademarks, but unless you’re going to a rodeo, those cowboy hats look pretty weird.

That Marvo guy in Virginia – the one whose mom says he was a good kid – really? Didn’t he just kill two people? Good Lord, the way moms can stretch a definition.

Why do people keep asking me to write a book about dogs? Don’t they understand how much my wife’s dog drives me nuts? Rather than write a book I’d like to make a short film, perhaps of me shooting the mutt out of a cannon.

Marital Bliss

I am the cook in our house, and for good reason. Jill likes instant rice and canned beans. The other night I told her I planned to cook chicken breasts simmered in a rosemary & red wine reduction . She revolted, saying it sounded disgusting. Last night I cooked chicken in guess what? Rosemary & red wine reduction. Except this time I called it Drunken Chicken. She loved it and immediately packed all the leftovers for her lunch today, leaving me only with the dirty dishes. Now I’m having a sober peanut butter & jelly sandwich for lunch. How about you?

Book Report

It has taken awhile, but it seems, at least I hope so, that my book “Life Maps: Simple Directions for Finding Your Way” is catching on. I’ve seen several announcements where it was donated to public libraries in honor of a loved one or mentor. That is a great compliment I never expected, to have my work serve as a symbol in the hearts and memories of other people. One donor wrote: “This timeless guidebook for living touches on hundreds of little things that add up to one happy, treasured life. An excellent gift book for any age, it will appeal to anyone looking to avoid the bumps in the road and to relish the best life has to offer.” I hope in years to come, when my girls wonder how important they might have been to me, that they will read this book with a fresh eye. It was written for them.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Girl Fight

Crazy Train (of thought)

Before you can take the high road, you’ve actually got to have some idea where it is.

Who are the underprivileged, really? Underachievers, perhaps?

Our neighbor Sam likes to torture me. She recently bought Princess a new sundress and Jill immediately put her in it and then took pictures. Now there is one hanging in our photo hallway, a dog in a pink and green dress. It’s like shards of glass under my nails, it is.

The most difficult thing about negotiations is making sure all parties end up with a little something-something they wanted out of the deal. Failing that, make sure your guns are loaded and the engine is running.

Jill and I went to the Kenny Chesney concert over the weekend and saw all the young women who dream of becoming his sweetheart and scream out their undying love during and between songs. It didn’t take long before a girl fight broke out as they pushed each other for a better view of the stage. As they were escorted from the building I couldn’t help but wonder why must rednecks get drunk and holler before they can call it a good time?

Marital Bliss

Jill is trying s hard to make a good impression in her first year as a teacher. She’s working long nights and into the weekend, and now rises earlier than ever to get back to the task. I love having a wife who is so invested in her career, who wants so much to make a difference in these special needs kids’ lives. She inspires me.


One of the great pleasures of managing a blended family is seeing it work at its cohesive best. As in while Jill and I went to the concert and left the girls behind, they independently decided to go out for dinner together rather than eat leftovers at home. Then, when Jill and I came home late and moaning about wanting to sleep in, they volunteered to get themselves up and drive themselves to church, letting us sleep in. Now if only they’d help me with the yard and the dishes.

Book Report

While searching the web I discovered a little book about men and their children that includes quotes from famous and celebrity fathers. Guess who one of the men is? My next question is, do I get a hit from the royalties? I also noticed one of my books, WHY A SON NEEDS A DAD, mentioned on Dr., and saw that even though it isn’t out yet, people are already ordering WHY WE ARE FRIENDS on That’s exciting. I showed the proof of this book to Heather, a friend of mine down the street, and she nearly started crying on the first page. Cha-ching!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Zipper Blooper

Crazy Train (of thought)

Linley tells me she’s discovered a cure for dying of old age – dying young instead. I think I’d rather live to 90.

As I walked to the car yesterday morning I heard Jill clapping enthusiastically and shriek with joy, “Princess, you did it!” Honey, it was a biological function. She’s required to do it.

What does compulsive behavior look like? This This This This This This This This This This This This This This This
This This This This This This This This This This This This.

Laura and I have promised each other we won’t go to the new Whole Foods down the street until we can go together. Does that make us second-best friends (spouses come first) or organic nerds?

He who muddles in another man’s house soon stands in his own quagmire.

Those who think they are the center of the universe obviously dropped out of school before taking science.

How many now feel guilt for condemning Patsy Ramsey? It just goes to show you, you never really know as much as you think you do.

Another charity we support is the Georgia Vietnam Veterans of America. My deceased uncle was a ‘Nam vet. He stood every time he heard the Star Spangled Banner, even if on television. That’s patriotism. Our donations are made in his honor. Go Army.

Marital Bliss

I get daily email and text-messages from my wife, with the occasional phone call, to let me know she loves me. How sweet is that, to know every day your wife is devoted to you. It makes me want to work hard to please her, but hard is the wrong word. I find great pleasure in pleasing her; she is the love of my life. Right now I’m reminded of the great Marty Robbins song, My Woman, My Woman, My Wife. “She's the foundation I lean on … the love that strengthens my life … Lord, give her my share of heaven, if I've earned any here in this life, 'cause God I believe she deserves it, my woman, my woman, my wife.” I’ll do anything to bring a smile to her face. I hope she likes the jeweled heart-shaped limoge I left on her dresser.


Meagan and I were having a few tense words when I stopped and said “It must suck to be so much like me.” We both laughed so hard we cried, then kissed and hugged, and all was well. I didn’t understand why I act like I do until I was in my late 30’s. Meagan, in contrast, is well on her way to having a solid grasp on who she is. It gives me hope she’ll be a better person than her old man is. That’s what parents want, isn’t it, to see their children become better people than they are themselves? If not, I would argue that parent isn’t the parent he/she should be. If Meagan ends up being just like me, I’ll have failed her. This is why I pray for guidance. And wisdom. And understanding.

Book Report

I’m thinking about writing a memoir, something that highlights my folly, like how I read the medical literature and understand that certain foods and vitamins, all of which I eat or take, thwart cognitive diseases, how learning new things all your life sharpens the mind, etc, and yet I still look down now and then and realize I didn’t zip my pants.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Toe tale

Crazy Train (of thought)

Let me ask the obvious question – if you are claustrophobic, what the hell are you doing flying coach on an international flight?

I think Linley is scamming me. I buy all the stuff she wants for breakfast, and then I give her money to buy snacks from the school commissary. She leaves the house with money in hand but having eaten only half her breakfast. Then, “coincidentally,” we pass a Chick-fil-a on the way to school; exactly the place where she suddenly goes into convulsions and exclaims she is starving. Of course she can’t spend the money I gave her to buy her breakfast, because that is “school money.”

As I walked though Jill’s classroom I saw several photos on a bookshelf and strode over to have a closer look. There was a black and white one of the girls in a plain brown frame, a black and white one of me in an even more boring black frame, and then a life-size color portrait of Princess in a large pink frame adorned with a silver crown on top. Who is surprised?

Irony is when you ridicule your last partner for being underemployed, and then later, your new partner is unemployed and unmotivated to do anything about it. Karma is then when your last partner becomes better off than you, and you can’t do anything about it. Sweet is when irony and karma are on your side.

Speaking of Karma, I was taking the recycle bin to the curb in my bare feet when it slipped and a magnum wine bottle fell out and landed nose down on my little toe. It hurt all the way to my molars. Must be something I said.

Marital Bliss

Jill is adjusting to her new life as head of the classroom – new students, new rules and procedures, too little time. She came home a bit stressed and after unloading, having dinner and a drink, she said to me, “I’m so glad I have you to come home to.” Such sweet words almost make babysitting that dog worthwhile.


Last night was our weekly parent-child night out; Jill and Linley went one way, Meagan and I went another. We shared a bowl of lobster bisque and each had a salad, and then we just talked. It’s funny how conversations between parent and child change over the years – once about how things work, word games, coloring the kid’s menu and such other little child stuff, and now coordinating weekend calendars, planning which courses to take to get into college, boy issues, part-time jobs and other topics of a maturing adult. But you know, no matter what we talk about, sometimes I can’t help but look across the table and see my three-year-old Meagan, blonde hair waving, one leg shaking and blue eyes dancing. Little girls. They really get to you.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Hump Day Again

Crazy Train (of thought)

Badonkadonk, badonkadonk! I haven’t said that is a while. Now I feel much better.

Today is the first day I take Linley to school this season, which also means it is the first day I have to harden my nerves to the sounds of her favorite bands, ensembles like Searching For Meaninglessness, Kicking Grandiosity and Purple Ambition. Earplugs, please!

No one is perfect; it’s just that some are so much less perfect than others.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, which means when driving in Atlanta, go at least 85 MPH on the highways or get off the road.

I get to see the mock-up of my new website today, one that is professionally built and features more photography and other info about my budding entertainment enterprise. I’ll let you know when it goes live.

Marital Bliss

Jill and I have returned to our school season wake-up routine. I don’t mean the one where I get up first and make the coffee, start breakfast, take out the dog, etc. I mean the good one, the one where I get to put my arm around her and pull her into spoon position, when I get to squeeze her close to me, bury my nose in her hair, kiss her shoulder and then wait nine minutes for the snooze to go off. It is the part of the morning that means the most to me; it is the moment I carry in my mind all day as I wait for her to come home. Well, that and the image of her in the shower.


You can tell when the girls are in the house just by looking in the pantry. I always shop differently for them; kid food in the house! I’ve got to remember my age and leave that stuff alone.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Random musings

Crazy Train (of thought)

How should one dress for their day of reckoning?

I was at Laura’s house again last night delivering some photographs I had taken over the weekend. I wasn’t inside more than 5 minutes before she started yelling, “Go to Bed!” again. I’m beginning to see a pattern here. Poor Tazz, he gets into trouble all the time.

I’ve been accepted as a photographer for and am now uploading my commercial and fine art photography to their website where they will be resold to graphic artists. I’m excited; I just might see my work in a corporate brochure somewhere. If you’ve ever posed for me, beware!

Our travel plans have changed, have yours? I wonder how the airline industry is going to survive. This is why transportation is not my stock of choice.

Ugh, getting up at 6:15 is a lot more difficult than I remembered. When is summer vacation?

I know someone who recently turned 40-something, but he thinks he’s 24. Trouble is, he acts like he’s 12.

Speaking of poor losers, I heard defeated Rep. Cynthia McKinney has fired her DC staff, even though she still has four months to serve. See, getting rid of her was the right thing to do.

Why are all the serial killers living in Ohio?

Speaking of Ohio – I don’t remember what it’s called - but the Amish up there eat this dish – mashed potatoes and egg noodles covered in chicken gravy. Maybe that explains the crazy people who grow up to be serial killers.

Meagan got her first finger wave from an angry truck driver the other day. For some reason she thought of it as a right-of-passage. I’ve asked her not to use the gesture herself; I hope she listened. Her little Kia is no match for an 18-wheeler.

If I were an insecure man I would be a bit upset that the first thing Jill does when she comes home is call out for Princess.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Pink plaid puppies

Crazy Train (of thought)

It’s hard to believe we have a 7th and 11th grader in our house beginning today.

Well, it has happened again – everyone was dancing on the kitchen counter at Laura’s house before the weekend was over. We even literally rolled up the rug for dancing. Why my kids think I’m a dork, I don’t know.

I drove to Jill’s school on Friday to get a look at her classroom before it is overrun with students. She met me on the curb and as I reached out to hug her, she pulled back a little, explaining displays of affection of any kind are prohibited on campus. Later, after we had gone to lunch, I drove back onto campus to drop her off. She gave me a kiss as she was getting out of the car. “I thought that was against the rules,” I said. “I’m a rule breaker, baby!” she answered just before kissing me again.

Last night I was flipping through the channels trying to find something entertaining to watch as we were going to bed. I couldn’t decide between The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, and Fox News. I asked Jill what she wanted to see, and she asked me to check out Animal Planet (I should have known) and Fear Factor. Sometimes it’s a mystery to me how we get along so beautifully.

She finally settled on some show called Intervention where family members try to get their substance abusing member into rehab. Can you guess what’s coming? She looked at me and said, “If you ever need an intervention, I’ll have Princess there to help support you.” Honey, that dog is going to be the very reason I’m driven to drink.

Marital Bliss

So while at Laura’s party Jill and I spent lots of time together meeting new friends, eating the good stuff Laura always has out, even danced a little. We also spent time apart in separate conversations and antics; each having fun on different sides of the house. We are that strong – rock solid as a couple, so solid we can also be solid individuals. It’s because first we respect each other, and second, we know and honor the boundaries. That’s the difference between us and those who must keep a constant eye on each other. Even when I am apart from and unseen by my wife, I am still her devoted husband. How’s your relationship?


Meagan and I went shopping for school supplies the other day. It nearly drove me crazy because she didn’t have a list but instead wanted to wonder every isle to see what she might need. It took hours to decide between the solid pink staples and pastel plaid binders, the mechanical pencils of different colors and spring resistance on the clicker, the notepads with puppies or flowers on the cover, etc. When we finally finished, she was hungry (and I needed a nap or a drink) so we went across the parking lot to le Madeline’s, a place where we used to dine frequently when we lived on that side of town. As we walked from the car to the door she took my hand and held it like she used to back then; she even skipped a little across the parking lot. Suddenly being tormented over puppies, pink and plaid seemed so worthwhile to get to this moment. I tried to steer her around the parking lot to make it last longer. I think she caught on, but she let me anyway. I love my kid.

Book Report

I’m now working on book #17. It’s about couples and needing more models, I am contacting people I’ve met while working on other books. It is fun seeing some of these people, sometimes a year or two later. Their children are older or they have new ones and some on the way. I am blessed; I have a vast network of people in my life that I meet solely through the books, and if not for the books, I’m sure I would have never crossed paths with all or certainly most of these people. My reasons for giving thanks grows every day.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Debacle

Crazy Train (of thought)

OMG, what a busy week! It has been a bit of a challenge to adjust to the new schedule, but I think we are there. I guess the good thing about all my women returning to school is that for the next ten months I’ll have a very predictable schedule and lots of alone time to be productive. Yet I’ll miss the afternoon naps with Jill, the girls tugging on my elbow to take them places, and the laughter around the table during lunch.

Please explain to me how someone (the recently ousted Cynthia McKinney) who ran on an anti-racism platform can expect to get away with calling her dissenters Uncle Toms and Zionists? I’ll explain it – born a nut, always a nut.

Are you watching the news? Do you still think we, the US, are paranoid about terrorism? If so, please tell me how you breathe with your head in the sand.

One thought on security though – if someone is intent on boarding a plane with an explosive liquid, don’t you think they would take a sip at the security gate if that’s all they had to do to carry it on board? These are frightening times, indeed.

Yes, pedestrians have the right-of-way when crossing the street, but not when walking down the center of the road. Hey stupid dude, take that finger and stick it up your….

My brother, our neighbor Laura, and Jill and I had sushi for dinner the other night. I am trying to introduce Laura to new items on the menu, starting with hamachi kama (grilled yellowtail gill collar) and raw scallops. She was doing quite well munching on these, but I think I went too far when I had them bring out the deep fried jumbo shrimp heads. I’m not sure what bothered her most, the eyeballs or the spiny feelers. I guess it’s an acquired taste.

My neighbor told me yesterday what a great kid I have. How sweet is that, your adult neighbor saying your teenager is a fine person? Made me proud.

I know a man named Gibson; he goes by Gib. He wears seersucker, suspenders, tassel loafers and a pocket square. He drinks single malt scotch, dances like a mad man, can get a laugh out of anyone and a hug from all the women. I think he is nearly eighty. I want to grow up and be just like him.

Marital Bliss

It was so hot the other night at the outdoor concert that once we returned to the car, Jill slipped off her bra so she could lift her shirt and direct the air conditioner vent underneath to cool her off faster. She fell asleep on the way home and when we arrived, I failed to get the bra out of the door pocket. The next day, driving to a photo appointment, I spied it. Not being sure if the models would need to get in the Rover, I flipped it to the far back into the cargo area. Later, when on location, the models and I walked to the back of the truck to pull out the gear I needed. There was the bra, resting right on top of the camera bag for all to see. “Oh,” one of the models said, “you want to do those kind of pictures.” I know refer to this event as the Great Bra Debacle.


I am in that phase of parenting when you have to give your mobile teen more and more freedom, especially since having her own car is such a universal symbol of independence. I can remember all the times in her life when she would say “I can do it,” and “I’m not a little girl any more.” It was hard for me to begin the process of letting go, to allow her to fail, but I knew it was necessary to help her become the confident adult I envisioned. So over time she has needed less and less of me and has accomplished more and more with her own wits. But sometimes she still needs her Daddy. Like the other day when she asked me to accompany her to the dealership to have a factory defect repaired, or when she suddenly worried the night before if she could register herself at school the next day. Yes, these are tasks, not recreational time, but I’ll take every minute of it. The hug and “I love you” at the end makes it all so worthwhile and memorable.

Book Report

Reader mail, actually:

“I was out shopping today with my wife when I came across your book, and as I paged through it, I could not help but remember the times and moments when my own daughter was a little girl, and now a grown woman. As you might imagine, it is sitting in front of me now; I plan to send it to my daughter who lives away from home. Your words and the photographs are fantastic. I really appreciate your work as I think my daughter will too. Thanks for capturing the thoughts on my mind and in my heart.”

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Question for the day

Why is it that Princess waits until after the floors have been mopped and the carpets cleaned before she yacks up crud and then scoots and drags her nasty little butt across the floor? I think it is anxiety, worrying about having to spend the days alone with me until next summer, when her doting Momma is here again to protect her. Either that or she saw the business plan I'm working on for my next great idea, "The Urnament Company." After your pet has passed, I'll cremate it and place a portion of its ashes in an urn that is also a Christmas tree ornament. That way the pet can still enjoy the holidays. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Happy Tuesday

Crazy Train (of thought)

If you tend to make things out to be much larger than they are, others end up telling everyone else things are much smaller than you believe they are. Could be embarrassing.

What memories do you want to leave your children? Memories of how much you cared for them, or how much more you cared for yourself?

Hopefully today is the day Cynthia McKinney gets her walking papers. What an idiot. An embarrassment, too.

Marital Bliss

Last night I took Jill to see her favorite band, Steely Dan, in an outdoor theater. 95 degrees it was. I fanned her for 4 hours to help keep her cool enough to enjoy the show. That’s what a loving husband does. Am I praising myself, boosting? You have some room to say that, I guess, but more than that I am making it clear to the girls what kind of man to look for. I want them well treated, spoiled even. And I don’t mean by some lug bringing home dead animals and late birthday cards.


Jill asked me to print a photo of the girls for her desk in her classroom. It makes me so happy that she embraces my child in the same way I embrace hers. We refer to them collectively as “our daughters,” not “mine” and “yours.” If home is where the heart is, then family is those who are in your heart. Yes, bloodlines bind, but do not alone define the family. Heart strings do.

Book Report

Yesterday I shared with you the first few paragraphs of the draft introduction to my book, “Thank You: A Child’s Expressions of Gratitude.” Today I share with you the draft acknowledgment:

“A book about giving thanks to parents would not be complete with also giving thanks to my Heavenly Father. As I confessed in my introduction, I sometimes succumb to human nature and think to myself it was my research, talent and perseverance that resulted in my success as an author. The truth is, however, years ago I was lost and in despair, and I had not an ounce of experience in creative writing. One evening in a prayer I asked for help and then did my best to go forward with hope. Soon certain events began to transpire - like a friend telling me of a successful little book that eventually inspired me to write; my introduction to Janet Lankford-Moran, the photographer who helped me complete my first book; meeting Ron Pitkin, my publisher, who coincidentally but not known to me until later, was the publisher of the successful little book that got me started in the first place; and then there are all those events in my life that have been the fabric with which my stories about love, faith, forgiveness and duty are woven. And now my book about thanks, the only one that has closed with a testimonial such as this, is in your hands. Coincidence? Serendipity? Chance? I think not. I once was lost, but now I’m found. Thank you God.”

It serves no purpose to feel the gratitude if you don’t profess it, right?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Summer is over

Crazy Train (of thought)

We had a few friends come over to sit on the porch and enjoy some shrimp cocktail. One showed up in her Ferragamo shoes, Paloma Picasso gold, diamonds and pearls, and a Chanel dress, and leftover waffles wrapped in tinfoil. It’s a southern thing.

Why do the girls stand in the pantry downstairs and yell up to me while I’m working in the office upstairs, “Do we have any peanut butter?” Pardon me; let me put on my Secret X-Ray Vision glasses.

Meagan wanted me to go to the gym and show her a few routines she should do to stay in shape, so I did. I work out with an NFL player, a policeman, a body guard, and just a few big hulking men. I made sure to introduce my beautiful daughter to all of them and asked, “If you see anyone mess with her, please smack ‘em in the head.” All agreed to do just that. Now I hope I don’t have to get one of them off her trail. I might just get my arse kicked.

I introduced the girls to the fart dance, the age old custom of stomping, toe tapping and finger snapping in public to hide the sound of flatulence that can no longer be held back.

One thing I’ve learned from my few experiences in the news - don’t be made a fool. Your family, friends and enemies will laugh at you. Worse than that, your foolishness is then captured for posterity in a database somewhere.

Marital Bliss

Well I guess the days of sleeping late with Jill are over for the next 10 months. No more hitting the snooze until 8:00 AM nor deciding not to turn on the alarm the night before. Effective today it is up at 6:00, turning on the bathroom heater for my wife, going downstairs to make coffee, calling each of the girls to make sure they are awake, climbing back upstairs to make sure Jill has not slept through her snooze, down again to begin cooking short-order breakfast for my three women, making lunch for Jill, reminding her to wear her name tag, helping everyone get their things into the cars, sending them out the door by 7:10, and then it is (dear God help me) Princess and me for the rest of the day. I hope she knows how much I love her. Jill, not Princess.


On our way home from dinner after celebrating the last week of summer together, the girls plugged an iPOD into the car and played it over the speakers, singing along with their favorite songs. And not just ordinary singing, I mean singing at the top of their lungs, screeching really, sounding somewhere between a barnyard during castration season, drunken rednecks at a bad karaoke bar, and a senile person trying to yodel. Much like the infield at a NASCAR race.

Book Report

It is still in draft form, but here is the beginning of the introduction to my book due out next Spring, titled “Thank You: A Child’s Expressions of Gratitude” -

I have much to be thankful for – the love and support of my family, my health, my many friends, my material comforts, my success as a writer, and more. Yet, even though I am thankful, it would be easy for me to succumb to pride and look at what I have accomplished, experienced or acquired and say to myself, “I did this.” I am indeed sometimes tempted to take credit for what my life has become, as if I alone had a plan, a vision, and the intellect to make everything happen as it has. I know I am not alone in having this weakness.

Fortunately, I also realize the folly of such thinking and step back a minute to assess how I really got to where I am. I then quickly admit I did not get anywhere only by my own means. I have had the help of my family, friends, mentors and advisors, I have had some good luck, and I was given a good foundation on which to grow up and learn. It is that foundation, the one my parents gave me, this book is about. It is that foundation I grow increasingly thankful for as the years go by, especially now when as a parent myself, I truly understand what is required to set into place all the building blocks necessary to support and nurture a child for a lifetime. It is with this book I thank my parents for doing all they could to make sure I had a good life and the support and opportunities that led to who I have become.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Dark Side

Crazy Train (of thought)

Go Rams! (Hi Alicia!)

The DOT has been working on the roads around here for quite a while, especially at an intersection bisected by railroad tracks. They started on opposite ends of the intersection and began working toward the middle. Day by day the asphalt crept closer and closer to joining at the tracks. They finally finished it a few days ago. Now there is a sign that warns us there’s a “Rough Crossing” ahead. That’s a gross understatement. The road is six inches higher on one side than the other. I wonder if the Project Manager used to work on the Big Dig.

Linley jumped in the car after cheerleading practice and announced she had learned a drill that made her feel like a Cheetah Girl. I spewed hot coffee – the Cheetah is a strip club in Atlanta. Apparently a Cheetah Girl is also a cartoon character, I came to find out after scalding myself. Whew!

It is hot, humid and balmy in Atlanta. I won’t say who, but last night after sitting on my porch one of my southern lady neighbors stood to go home and said, “Let me pull my dress out of my crack.”

If you can’t do two things at once, you probably shouldn’t drive and talk on the cell phone. And those turn lanes in the middle of the road – you’re supposed to get in it in advance of your turn so that you do not obstruct traffic following behind you. So who are these idiots that go half-way in the turn lane, leaving their rear end in the through lane, doing you guessed it, obstructing traffic. I think the driving test should include an IQ test.

Marital Bliss

My wife is so dang beautiful I sometimes feel either guilty she’s stuck with me or so proud I want to show her off. She’s sweet, attentive and a good soul, too. Her only shortcoming is her psycho-attachment to that little dog that annoys the beef stew out of me. Why am I so annoyed with Princess? Last night my daughter bought her a tutu. Jill has recruited my child to the dark side.


Ring – ring. I answer the phone. It’s Meagan.
“Dad, can I buy some new underwear?”
“What’s wrong with your old underwear?”
“They have balls all over ‘em.”
“Excuse me?”
“Little balled up stringy thingies all over them. And the waist bands are loose, too.”
“Do they still cover your butt?”
“Not really, they are also kinda thin.”
“Does anyone see you in your underwear?” She’d better get this one right.
“Then I don’t see the need for new drawers.”
“I’m getting ready to start school.”
“So you show your butt at school?”
“Dad! Please?”
“How much?”
“Four pairs for $20.”
“Not that, how much of your butt do you show at school?”
“Can I get them?”
“So you want eight new underwears?”
“No, four pair.”
“Aren’t there two in a pair?”
“Hey, I never thought about that.”
“That’s why I have a PhD, baby.”

Book Report

Yesterday was a hard day for me for too many reasons, and at the end of it I was drained and wound up far too tight all at the same time. I sat down to try to gut through the task of writing this blog entry, but decided to check my email first. I’m so glad I did:

“I gave a copy of your book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, to my husband for Father's Day this year. It has turned out to be the best gift I've ever given anyone. Throughout the pages I carefully and lovingly attached pictures of him and our beautiful daughter. There are images of playful moments, pensive moments and a few poses in between. He loved it! But neither of us knew how prophetic this gift would be.

I am pregnant with our second child, and we so desperately hoped for a son. My husband is a guy's guy - college football hero, barbershop sage, etc. I am honored to be his wife and hoped that giving birth to a son would be a reflection of how much I admire and respect him. I wanted to contribute another fine, upstanding man to the world.

However, the Lord obviously knows that a son is not what our family needs. The baby playing hokey pokey with my ribcage right now is a daughter. I fought with my feelings of disappointment during the ultrasound session. When I searched my husband’s face, I couldn't read it, for the first time in the fourteen years that I have known him. He had retreated into himself in order to process the loss of the son we were not to have.

Weeks after that ultrasound session, I decided to look through your book. I am an incurable Daddy's Girl, by the way (and so was my dearly departed mom), and your book helps me through the ups and down of caring for my terminally ill father. Even when I am the ‘parent’ - begging him to eat or lecturing about taking vitamins, I still need him to be my Dad. There have been times when he has had to physically rely on me, but I've never stopped emotionally relying on that anchor that only a Dad can be. I know that I can fully love my husband because I have fully loved my father. Your book has helped me to remember that.

Your book also helps me to realize that having two daughters is a blessing. In a society of broken marriages and warped family values, my husband will have the opportunity to present to the world two fine young women who will make it an even better place because they will have grown up in our home, with a fine leader for a Dad. And a Mom who, because she has been a cherished daughter, will allow them to bask in all of the attention and private times that a daughter needs from her father.

My husband says he'll now need two copies - one for our first born, and another for her sister.”

I wrote this woman back. All I could say was thank you, thank you for lifting my spirits when I really needed it. The writer touches the reader, and the reader touches the writer. It’s a wonderful world, isn’t it?

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Crazy Train (of thought)

As the wife and kids ate pizza last night, I munched on an organic salad. I felt guilty though out the meal. I think it was pizza lust.

Remember when a receipt was just a receipt? Now they are novels or a strip of wall paper, over six feet long and loaded with data you don’t need to balance a checkbook and babble about surveys and gift cards. Just give me the total, please!

Linley has asked that we call her Thang. I suppose as in Wild Thang, but I guess she knows the Wild part of that name is sort of obvious.

On David’s last night visiting, after we consumed copious amounts of Calico Eggs, we listened to music from way back. It cracks me up to hear Meagan sing lyrics to songs I used to dance or try to make out to, back when I was skinny as a rail and had hair down to my shoulders. Her favorite – The Bee Gees. You should hear her sing all the parts to Nights on Broadway.

Jill did it again. Princess has a new dress, a red kimono. It is kinda cute, but don’t tell her I said so.

Marital Bliss

Today is Jill’s official day back to work, when she needs to leave by 7:30 and won’t be home until 10 hours later, when her days in the classroom are mandatory, not like the few in the last week when she could come and go when she wished. I guess our summer vacation is over – no more (well, not for the next 10 months anyway) long weekend road trips, naps cuddled on the sofa in the middle of the afternoon, lunch together in the new cafe find of the week, reading the paper together with coffee on the front porch, followed by morning walks through the neighborhood, and other such romantic stuff that keeps us glued to one another. I think I’m going into a state of depression as I begin my struggle with withdrawal.


And during the Greatest Hits of Ambrosia CD, Meagan and I danced in the kitchen. Sometimes slow dances, sometimes disco dance steps, but there we were, slinging each other across the hardwood floor barely missing running into counter tops and knocking over vases of roses. Linley, sore from a day of jumps and tumbles at cheerleader camp, limped into the kitchen on a pair of crutches that she favors for some odd reason. She watched Meagan and I in horror, leaned her crutches against the wall, and ran back up stairs. A miracle cure!

Book Report

As I take photographs for my next book I go through my Rolodex of former models to see who I want to call and ask to pose for me again. Most are willing to help me, having enjoyed seeing themselves in print in an earlier book. Last night I took photos of a couple I met and photographed over three years ago. It was fun catching up with them and seeing how their little girls adopted from China have grown. When I walked into the house I spied the book they originally posed for, “Why I Chose You,” sitting on the coffee table, and the print of the photo featured in the book hanging in a place of honor on a wall with their other family photographs. I get such a kick out of being a part of a family’s life story. I have been blessed in many ways as a result of my books, and not the least of which includes making all these great new friends.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Spam - Yummy!

I am a healthy food fanatic, selecting only lean meats, nothing in a form that doesn’t occur in nature, organic produce and whole grains whenever possible. I cook with olive oil (kalamata olive oil from Greece is the best), I never fry, and I’m just as picky when ordering out in restaurants. I have tried now for two years to impose this food philosophy on Jill and Linley, with some, albeit situational, success. Yet last night, as my brother and I reminisced about what we used to eat when Mom ruled the kitchen, Jill overheard us rave about a meal from the 70’s, when Spam was king – Calico Eggs. She had to have a taste of what we described while foaming at the mouth and moaning in delight as the memory cells in our bellies cried for this blast from the past. It was too late to turn back, to question our impulse, to challenge our cravings; dinner was planned.

Calico Eggs is a sinful delight, a fat-laden, cholesterol-escalating high sodium on-the-cover-of-a-30-year-old-Better-Homes-and-Gardens-magazine food spectacle. Mom used to make it for breakfast, and when we were lucky, now and then for dinner, when it would linger in our gullets for hours before being disturbed the next day by some lesser than meal falling onto it in our stomachs. I remember eating it with a smile on my face and a watchful eye on the table to make sure no one got more than their due share. As the oldest child, it was understood if anyone could not eat their entire share, what remained would be mine (perhaps this explains my adult struggle to keep my body mass index out of the triple digits).

So David and I went to work, enthusiastically shopping for our ingredients and then running home to get started. I chopped the Spam and onions into little cubes while he peeled and chopped the hardboiled eggs. We mixed everything together and then spooned the blessed mixture onto the split English muffins (here I had to depart from tradition – I did buy whole wheat), and popped them into the oven. We also threw in a whole bag of tater tots for good measure. We were set; in 20 minutes we would go down memory lane for a bite of something neither of us had had in our mouths for over twenty years.

Jill set the table and we called the girls down for the eagerly anticipated meal. We all dove in and within seconds, moans of joy filled the air. Meagan, not having watched us prepare the meal nor heard anything of its ingredients, went on and on that it was the best thing she had ever tasted. She even went back for seconds. A few of these cheesy ham & egg medallions were left over and we immediately flew into heated disagreement about who would get to reheat one for breakfast in the morning. It was that good. The only thing better was not having to explain to the girls where Spam comes from.

Calico Eggs

Yield: 6 Servings
4 hard boiled eggs; coarsely chopped
1.5 cup diced Spam
1 cup Cheddar cheese; shredded
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp. Celery seed
Salt & pepper to taste
Mayonnaise and mustard, just enough to bind ingredients
English muffins, split

Combine all the ingredients; mix well. Spoon onto muffins. Put on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until the cheese melts and the edges of the muffins look a little toasty.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Is it a felony?

Crazy Train (of thought)

Sometimes the evidence is abundant that you are dealing with an idiot, or worse, someone who thinks you are an idiot. Especially when they don’t realize you are on to them.

I recently discovered the bookstore at the University of Georgia carries a few of my books. Now that’s how to treat an alum!

Should I be worried that the girls are always quizzing me on the terms of their trust fund?

We had sushi last night at my favorite sushi bar. I like it for so many reasons, but mostly because we have befriended the couple who own it. They give me a language lesson in Japanese and Korean with each visit. Last night I learned how to say “Cheers” and “I love you.” When Suk asked if I wanted to tell Jill I love her in Korean, I said no, I wanted to tell Jounj I loved him for making such wonderful bowls of chirashi.

Marital Bliss

I got busted in a lie. I’ve always told Jill I would never lie to her unless it related to birthday and Christmas surprises. While she was at the overnight teachers retreat I was supposed to feed Princesses her moist food treat. When the wife asked if I did, of course I said yes because I feared for my life otherwise. I did plan to feed the mutt as soon as Jill and I ended our conversation that evening. But alas, I forgot, and the next day when Jill came home the first thing she did was check the dog food can in the fridge. Apparently she had marked it, much like a suspicious parent would mark a liquor bottle. She loves that dog.


Last night Linley came into our bedroom to show us the cheers she learned at her first day of cheerleader camp. One had a bit of a weak ending and she wondered how to improve it. I suggested shouting “Greg Lang rocks!” The phrase got stuck in her head. I hope she doesn’t get in trouble at camp today doing that routine.