27 November 2014

Being Thankful

As I write this, the air is infused with the aroma of garlic as it toasts up in the homemade croutons. The whir of multiple blenders blends into the constant hum of blow dryers. The clanging of pans is accompanied by the sounds of laughter and cries for the instructions for the roasting pan. All signs of that uniquely American celebration that is Thanksgiving.

Our Thanksgiving celebration is under way. We are hours away from carving the bird, but the house, unlike the unfortunate turkey, is alive with the familiar sights and sounds of this holiday. For the first time in several years, we took to the road, and by road I mean a well-worn 757, and are surrounded by family. Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and one very important grandson are making for a great day. Of course we are missing TMFKATB. Methinks this will be just a regular day for him. Not thinking anyone will be serving up turkey and pumpkin pie along the Mexican-Guatemalan border. He's in our thoughts today.

It would be an impossible task to enumerate the blessings I've been granted and all the things for which I'm grateful, so I won't even pretend to start a list. I'll say this though - I am a lucky man. I am surrounded by my family today. I have been blessed by friends far and wide who have made my life so rich. What a poorer life I would have without you all in it. My heartfelt thanks to each of you this day. 

I'll close with this:

“I give thanks to my Creator for this wonderful life where each of us has the opportunity to learn lessons we could not fully comprehend by any other means.” -- Joseph B. Wirthlin

25 November 2014

"best week"

That smile says it all
So thanks to a long day o'meetings in Manhattan and a big ole monkey wrench tossed by that she-hag Mother Nature, I am late in posting the highlights of TMFKATB's letter. He entitled his email 'best week of my life.' That, my friends, are some of the sweetest words a parent can read! With your child thousands of miles away, those words are beyond comforting.

He's had a good, nay, great week. It sounds like he decided to take off the shackles of timidity that may have bound him because he wasn't comfortable with the language. He and his companion are talking to everyone and anyone and having a good time doing it. He expressed how happy he was and he looks it. Also, he's killing me with the fact that he's got tamales on hand constantly. Killing me.

He's getting into his groove. As he gets into the groove, ours is getting thrown off, just a little. Mother Nature, that she-hag of all she-hags, has decided to toss a Nor'Easter into the Thanksgiving travel mix and it looks like tomorrow is going to be, well, challenging. But Mother Nature shall not get the best of us. We are prepared and have adjusted our plans accordingly. Looking forward to a good Thanksgiving celebration, in spite of that she-devil's evil plans!

19 November 2014

What Do People Do All Day?

Lowly, Huckle and friends
Earlier this week, the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML made her way across the border to MA with a friend of hers to go to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Of course, Mr Carle is the author - illustrator of the beloved 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar.' While exploring the little museum, SML happened upon one room and found the illustration above. She took the picture you see above and texted it to me. As soon as I saw it, I was flooded in emotions. I sat at my Midtown desk, sporting a huge grin and allowing a couple of tears to roll down my face.


Most certainly, if you are of a certain age, you recognize that worm and that leiderhosen-sporting cat. It's Lowly and Huckle, two of the beloved characters of author - illustrator Richard Scarry. Seeing those two so beautifully drawn is what triggered those emotions when I saw the picture. As a child, I loved, loved, loved these characters and the works of Mr Scarry. His magnum opus, in my opinion, 'What Do People Do All Day?' was first published in 1968, and I'm quite certain it took a place on my childhood bookshelf very quickly. Although I cannot remember when I first read it, I have vivid memories even now of paging through this book time and again as a young reader. Huckle and his friends were easy to connect with and this book in particular was so exciting to a young child. It allowed you to see what adults did after they left the house in the morning. It was wonderful and it is one of those books that made me a reader.

Once I became a father, this book was one I delighted in reading to my children. I'm not quite certain it had the same impact on them that it did me but I'm fine with that. They all emerged as readers in their own ways. I am so glad that when we got married all those many years ago that SML brought a list of children's literature that she wanted to make a part of the lives of our children. I'm glad that that her aunt, J, turned us on to early reading techniques that helped instill a love of the written word in them as well.

One of the payoffs for a word nerd/reader like me has been trading books with my children now that they are adults. Discussing books we've read has been a joy for me. And to think, I've got a worm and a cat to thank for a lot of that!

17 November 2014

Gangster Street English

Fans, 'staches, and the 'browsie' arch and that hideous Noah's Ark Tie!
Monday has once again brought us news from The Missionary formerly known as The Boy (TMFKATB). His letter and real-time commentary were really positive and a reflection of his personality. This is his third week 'in country' and last week's letter was more about the ups and downs that he was experiencing, which was totally expected for us. Of course he was going to be a little bewildered by his new surroundings and confounded by the language. We really didn't worry (a little, for sure, but not too much) and this week's letter was laugh out loud funny in a couple of places, so it made for another good day.

TMFKATB reported that he's working hard, in spite of a little gastro-intestinal drama and ongoing rattling from small earthquakes, or as he put it, 'just a quick shake' that happen 'all the time.' He and his companion are working to teach more and while they aren't seeing the success they have hoped for, spirits are high and they are working hard. He's trying to be as obedient as he can as well.

He shared a bit more about his surroundings, like living across from the town futbol arena, shopping for beans and snacks at the local 'Kwiki Mart' (his description, not mine)  and that there are dogs and chickens everywhere. He's discovering new fruits and 'crazy meats' in the street market. There's also a tortilleria nearby. Here he is with a fresh stack of tortillas:
He talked about his companion wanting to learn more English, but only gangster street English. Lovely. So as his teacher, this young man has TMFKATB. Who better? I mean he was raised on the mean streets of the Dirty 630 - Naperthrill - and in the hills of Connecticut and these, as anyone can tell you, are hotbeds of the 'gangsta' life. Here's a sample of the teaching that he shared in this week's letter:

Also my comp likes to learn English and only gangster street English.
So when we talk to the ninos in the street, he will say, "What's crackalickin', my homie?"
or "What is, good gangsta'?" He is too funny.

Perfect. Just perfect. I see a career in cultural protocol. Actually, did you see how he was arching his eyebrow in the first picture? I actually think he could replace Phil Keoghan and his "browsie' as the host of The Amazing Race.