15 January 2018

The End Is Near

You can always trust Homer J Simpson to know
the right thing to say.
December 15th, 2007, was a snowy day in the Chicago suburb affectionately known as the Dirty 630. Mapmakers as well as the mayor of that town prefer it be called by its real name, Naperville. On that chilly evening in the Nape, I decided to start a blog and ten less than artfully created sentences later, this blog was foisted on an unsuspecting public.

I never intended this blog to be anything more than what it was - a place for me to share what was happening in my family in order to quell the steady lament from my mother that she never knew what was happening with us; to share my musings whether you wanted to hear them or not, and from time to time, to try and be a better writer. I never wanted this to be a money-making enterprise, nor did I want it to take its place in the pantheon of "Mommy/Daddy Blogs," especially those unique to people of my faith, wherein everything is perfect (spoiler alert - it isn't perfect) and parents have no problem shilling their children for cash and cheesy product placements. The Den was never going to be the place for that. Ever.

Ten years later and after 1123 posts, in the inimitable words of that sage philosopher and parental train wreck Homer J Simpson, the end is near for the Den. In the last year, I pulled back significantly on my postings and no one seemed to mind. It's not that I am out things to share or stories to tell, I just feel like it's time to step away from much of the interwebs. That's especially true of the Den of late. It's been difficult to muster the spark to share something. Once I got to the point where I wasn't feeling a mountain of guilt for not posting and, to be fair, that's been a recent conclusion, I decided it was time to step away.

So the end is near. I'm not saying the Den is being destroyed, never to rise again. Rather, think of it this way: the owners know something needs to be done with their real estate but they just don't know what to do. The temporary solution is to board the place up while they think long and hard about the next steps. Who knows? Maybe it's a major remodel or it could be that the decision is to knock the thing down and start all over again. That decision could come next week or next month or next year. We shall see.

For now, thank you to each of you who found a seat in the Den that you liked. I'm glad you felt comfortable enough to spend some time here. Thank you for the comments, posted here and shared with me in person, over the years. It's meant a great deal to me and I appreciate it very much.

Thank you.

10 December 2017

Christmas Songs, Revisited

This past Friday, I made yet another visit to the dentist. Apparently, now that I am a man of a certain age (middle age is awesome!), some of the fillings I got as a child are wearing down. Rather than letting my mouth become a mini-Chernobyl due to the make up of said aging fillings, I've had to get some of them replaced.

As I sank into the dentist's chair for one of those replacements, my ears were assaulted with a kitschy cover of some Christmas song. The title and artist, a term I use loosely at best, escapes me now mercifully, but it was clear that the office staff had set the radio to one of those hideous 24/7 Christmas music stations. To say this thrilled me would be like saying Donald J. Trump is the most honest, most respectable and greatest thing that has ever happened to the United States. Spoiler alert: he isn't.

If you've been keeping up with things here in the Den over the years, you'll know I'm no fan of the treacly tidal wave of Christmas songs that begins in July, I think. Twice now, in posts in 2011 and 2012, I've written specific screeds about this musical assault. My attitude on the subject has not improved and as the dentist leaned in armed with a needle full o'novacaine, I said, "No need for it. The pain of that drill is going to be far less than what's on the radio right now." She giggled a bit nervously but went ahead with numbing me, which was probably the right decision. This did not, however, preclude her from discussing the merits or demerits of the various songs that droned on during my procedure with her assistant. Let's just say it was a good thing I wasn't able to comment at all on what their keen and insightful observations, like this gem, "Well, I just think 'Santa Baby' is one of the cutest Christmas songs ever." Spoiler alert:it isn't.

Lest you think my soul is as black as the lump of coal I get every year in my Christmas stocking (that is 100% true; that coal turns up yearly) because I don't think 'Santa Baby' is cute, I'm here to share with you an amazing album of Christmas music.

It is exquisite and just a little bit glorious. The album itself is now seven years old and it has aged beautifully. Annie's version of 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' is more than a little breathtaking. The whole album is just gem after gem. There's not one song that gives me Christmas music rage. That, my friends, is not easily done.

Do yourselves a favor and download this one. Enjoy it! It's enough to make you want to be one of the Merry Gentlemen!

25 November 2017

The Best Kind of Tie Breaker

Tie breakers, especially in sports, can be edge of your seat, blood-pressure raising affairs. They can also be painfully dull (tennis, anyone?). Tie breakers can also have worldwide impact, and not necessarily in a good way. One need look no further than the hanging chad debacle that was the 2000 Presidential Election for proof of that.

That said, tie breakers can also be a lot of fun. We've seen that play out recently here in the Den. For those of you more eagle-eyed readers who took a look at some of the RM's wedding pictures, you might have noticed that one member of the Den may have looked ever so slightly different. How so? Perhaps you may have spotted a little bump the waistline. Admittedly, that could have been me, given the amount of food I took in while we were behind the Zion Curtain. Alas, it wasn't me.

It was, in fact, Our Lady of Awesome, our oldest daughter, sporting that little bump because she is expecting another baby. If you are counting along, that's Grandbaby #3! We'd known about this prior to last month's wedding celebration but we were still sworn to secrecy. Soon after we left the Zion Curtain, she went to her real doctor and not one of those "only in Utah" mobile ultrasounds out the back of someone's van places (I'm not even exaggerating about this, people), to find out how the tie in their home was going to be broken.

With one boy and one girl, the tie was broken with this reveal:

Jane's reaction is pretty priceless!
It's a boy, arriving in April 2018! Suffice to say, we are pretty darn excited about this new edition to the Den. As we counted our blessings this past week at Thanksgiving, this new baby and his health were things we were most grateful for.

Now that the tie is broken and the word is out, the name suggestions are on the way. Benson wants him to be called Rudy Bear, after Rudy Gobert, his favorite Utah Jazz player. My suggestion, Fred, was once again shot down faster than Dear Leader Despot Wannabe Trump's latest insane desperate lie about being Time's Person Of The Year.

April can't get here soon enough! We can't wait to welcome this new one to our family!

23 November 2017

On Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving. Do not @ me!
Is it just me, or did Thanksgiving come a lot earlier than usual this year? I'm struggling, if I'm honest, with the fact that this day where we pause to give thanks, is already here.

In spite of my apparent struggle with calendar management, I am grateful that this day is here. It's been a quiet Thanksgiving here in the Den as we've embraced our status as empty nesters. Since we were with our children last month and we are all together again next month, the thought of dropping a grand or so to head back to the Zion Curtain for turkey just didn't appeal. So they are having their own festivities, just as we are. We'll be having dinner with a group of good friends tonight and that's going to be a lot of fun. Blessings will be counted and gratitude will no doubt be on display. What will not be on display, at least this year, will be a state-mandated moment of gratitude to Dear Leader Trump (methinks if our Despot Wannabe gets his way, that will be a requirement going forward).

So, count your blessings today and every day. Be grateful. There's enormous goodness in showing gratitude. As one of America's most prolific writers of inspirational maxims, William Arthur Ward, said:

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings,
turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving!