What the Hell

What the Hell

Hi everybody; Jim the Honorary Jew here. For the past ten days here in South Texas everyone has been consumed with everything hurricane. Harvey the Hurricane stomped on Rockport, but somehow our home there slipped between his toes. In Victoria, where Harvey decided to hang out next, he roared through most neighborhoods, but left ours relatively intact (he stole our electricity, though, and hasn’t given it back yet). The calamity that has befallen us will take years to overcome. I, personally, have been merely inconvenienced, but my friends and neighbors have truly suffered major losses. The enormity of the devastation is beginning to soak in, but our communities are rallying to meet the challenge. So I thought I would try to lighten up everyone’s spirits by offering another glimpse into the teaching and traditions of the heritage of my Jewish grandchildren. I thought long and hard about what subject would brighten the day and finally came up with the perfect subject: Hell.
Hell; really? Hell yes! As most of you already know, both my daughters married Jewish men, so my four grandchildren are of the Tribe. I owe it to them to be an observer of Jewish teachings and traditions (and by observer, I mean watcher. I am a member of the Bacon Nation by choice, so that Kosher thing is a major stumbling block to seeking out full membership in the Tribe).
OK, back to Hell. Most secular, progressive and educated Jews believe there is no Heaven and no Hell. They deem the concept of Heaven and Hell as unsophisticated, and even somewhat primitive. Hell is such an integral part of Christianity, which is another very good reason for most secular Jews to reject the concept. It’s almost as important to uphold views that are not Christian as to embrace Jewish customs. Take the argument of prayer in schools. Christians are for it; Jews say, Hell no. How about abortion to save the life of the mother. Christians are against it; Jews say Hell yes. How about, children are born with a sinful nature. Christians, yep; Jews, nope.
Here’s another twist that’s hard for a non-Jew to grasp: if you don’t believe in Heaven or Hell, it’s not a deal breaker. You won’t get kicked out of Judaism for holding that belief.
This sentiment not withstanding, there is a case to be made for a Jewish concept of Hell. There’s not much talk about it, though. One reason is that it isn’t a concept discussed very often by modern Jewish scholars. It’s like they have concluded, “we don’t really know, so you better make your life on earth count”. Traditional Judaism teaches that, “after death our bodies go to the grave but our souls go before God to be judged. God is the only one who knows our motives as well as our works—God sees the heart, whereas man looks at the outside. Facing the only true Judge, we are assigned a place in heaven according to a merit system based on God’s accounting of all our actions and motives”.
Traditional Jewish thought is that only the very righteous go directly to heaven; all others must be cleansed of residual sin. The average person descends to a place of purification, generally referred to as Gehinnom.The name is taken from a valley (Gei Hinnom) just south of Jerusalem, once used for child sacrifice by the pagan nations of Canaan (no bad joojoo there). Gehinnom is a place where one reviews the actions of his/her life and repents for past misdeeds.The soul’s sentence in Gehinnom is usually limited to a 12-month period of purgation. This 12-month limit is reflected in the yearlong mourning cycle and the recitation of the Kaddish (the memorial prayer for the dead). So, unless you are utterly wicked; ie, Hitler, you go to Gehinnon for a year to get cleaned up and then off you go. And since you have moved on, your family and loved ones can move on, too. It doesn’t make any more or less sense than the hellfire and damnation of Christianity or the 72 virgins thing of Islam.
So, Jews and Hell. Most don’t believe in the concept. And those who do, believe it is a yearlong chance for almost everyone to clean up their act one last time to take their place in God’s merit system. It sure makes the statement, “You’re going to Hell for that” a lot more palpable. I think I like this one.

My Sister, Jackie

July 28, 2017

Hi everybody. I want to talk about my big sister, Jackie Card. Jackie has been fighting ovarian cancer in a Celebrity Death Match for the past 10 years. She has been kicking cancer’s ass for those 10 years, but we recently learned cancer is going to win on points. She entered a Hospice program last week. She has been thinking about it for awhile, and came to the decision after talking with her husband, Ansel Card and her treatment team at MD Anderson Cancer Center, the most advanced cancer research and treatment center in he world. When these guys say it’s time, it’s time. She very much wants everyone to know she isn’t dead yet. In fact, we have a trip planned for Labor Day. She may not be able to go, but she is still planning on it for now.
She’s my big sister. Being the oldest, she has always led the way, clearing the path for her three brothers Robert Foos, Richard and me and one sister, Susan Morgan. We grew up in the small town of LaCrosse, Kansas, the same town in which our father grew up. Some of our teachers taught our father (that was kind of weird, by the way). Jackie was a brainiac in school. That wasn’t so good for me, because she set the bar so high. I particularly remember my 5th grade teacher questioning if Jackie was really my sister, or if I was adopted. Then my brothers followed and she then concluded Jackie may have been the one who was adopted.
She’s my big sister. She was the first to attend college. She could have gone anywhere, but she chose to enroll in Colby Community College in Colby, Kansas. I thought that was kind of an odd choice, but it was college, and to me, it was the same as attending Stanford or Cornell. It certainly was a long way from home and she couldn’t come home every weekend. It also didn’t occur to me that was the point. Now, Colby isn’t exactly the garden spot of America. In fact, about the only difference between the terrain of Northwest Kansas and the lunar landscape of the moon, is gravity. Ah, but I didn’t know about Ansel.
My big sister showed me how to choose love. She had a new boyfriend that summer, Ansel Card. That wasn’t so odd. She had lots of boyfriends. But somehow, this guy was different. He was a Custom Cutter. For you folks from the city, a Custom Cutter is essentially an itinerate farm laborer who follows the summer wheat harvest from Texas to Saskatchewan. This is a great summer job for a young single man trying to strike out on his own. He can travel through the middle of the country and get paid for it. It did have an appeal similar to a the life of a cowboy on a cattle drive in the old West. Custom Cutters, for the most part, carried a reputation as drunken ner-do-well brawlers who should be avoided by local folks and, especially, young ladies. So, of course, girls flocked to them like they go after sailors during Fleet Week. Ansel caught Jackie’s eye at the local restaurant where she was a waitress. Guess who was going to attend Colby to join their collegiate rodeo team as a bull rider? Now here’s a major twist. Despite Ansel being a dirty Custom Cutter and the guy who was after his favorite child, my Dad really liked him and welcomed him into the family. I don’t think Dad ever bothered to learn the names of her previous boyfriends. Fairly quickly I had another brother.
My big sister showed me how to face adversity. Shortly after their marriage Jackie became pregnant with their only son, Shane Card (it’s really cool Shane and I share a birthday, thanks to Jackie being able to choose when he was to be born). Shane was born with health problems requiring multiple surgeries. Now that was a struggle of epic proportions that Jackie and Ansel faced squarely. They did what had to be done and made personal sacrifices so Shane could lead a normal life. He didn’t let them down, by the way. His children, Hannah Anoa Card and Molly, now light up their life.
My big sister showed me to reach for the sky and work for your dreams. Both Jackie and Ansel made education a priority in their lives. They each earned a Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate while being parents and working to support the family. I bet our 5th grade teacher would have been proud.
My big sister showed me joys of travel and adventure. She traveled the world as an expert in her chosen field of study (ask her about the nude beach in New Zealand) and she never passed up a chance to visit someplace new, whether it be for work or pleasure. If traveling to an interesting or exotic locale was available, she was in. Her passport looks worn out.
My big sister showed me the importance of compassion and family. Last year Gayle Kelly Foos had her own brush with cancer. We chose to seek treatment at MD Anderson. Jackie and Ansel were with us every step of the way, showing us the ropes, acting as tour guides and offering encouragement and support throughout the process.
Now, my big sister is showing all of us how to live the latter stages of life with aplomb and dignity. Go visit her. I guarantee you, she will enjoy the visit.


The Great Toe Incident of 2017

Hi, everybody. I want to talk about my toe. Pretty much everyone I’ve seen in the past 3 weeks has heard about the Great Toe Incident of the Spring of 2017, but I just can’t put it away yet. I have noticed lately that people see me and abruptly turn around and get very busy while walking in the opposite direction. But now I have a captive audience who can truly appreciate the depth of this story. It’s filled with human pain, suffering, tragedy and triumph. And just like the TV mini-series, ‘Fargo’; it’s all true, except for the stuff I made up.

About six weeks ago I noticed that my big toe began to ache, and like most things like this, I chose to ignore it in hopes that it would just go away. Well, my initial intervention of nothingness failed to do the trick. While at work in the nursing home a resident ran over my foot in her wheelchair (that happens to me a lot there; they usually do it on purpose in an act of defiance after a particularly difficult session or when I try to interrupt them during Bingo or The Price is Right). The pain was fairly intense. I looked as pasty as a person from St. Louis in February (the enchanting land of gray days). So that night I decided to take a look at what was the matter. I discovered I had developed an ingrown toenail. I’ve never had one before, but I’ve seen plenty of people who had been treated for it. My toe was now swollen to a size that made me think I could make a balloon animal with it, so I decided to try to take care of it myself. 1st, I engrossed myself in causes and cures for ingrown toenails by reading quack remedies on the internet. I’m pretty sure that most of the curative options cited would have made my toe fall off. One of the most common causes seems to be wearing high heels. Well, I haven’t worn high heels since 1983 ( I know that men’s high heeled shoes went out of style well before then, but it was very hard for me to give up those 2 extra inches). I do, however, have trouble finding shoes that fit. My feet are shaped like an elephant foot. They’re kind of round with five very stubby appendages sticking out of them. So I’m blaming my very painful malady on tight shoes and maniacal wheelchair-bound patients.

Next came my curative intervention. Since I’ve seen plenty of people with healing toes and the internet said I could do it, I decided to perform an operation to cut the ingrown part of my toenail out. I used the little scalpel I have for cutting my pills and went to work. I then soaked my foot in Epsom salts (it’s pretty weird that Epsom salts are also used as palm tree fertilizer). Soaking actually helped a little, but the infection took over again and it still hurt. I was telling my story of woe and subsequent intervention strategies to the Resident psychologist who works for me and she said “You know you’re not that kind of doctor, right?”…. I wonder how her job search is going.

Since my toe wasn’t getting better, I decided to do something drastic that I rarely do, but I felt I had no other choice. I went to the doctor. I figured that I had already cut out the ingrown part of the nail, so I would just get some antibiotics to take care of the infection and be on my way. Well, that wasn’t the case. I am friends with a podiatrist, but he had the audacity to be on vacation, so I chose the walk-in clinic we frequent when we need urgent, but not emergent care. The nurse practitioner came into the exam room, took one look and a very painful little poke and said, “Hi. You have an ingrown toenail. It has to come out. I’m not going to lie. This is going to hurt. I have to go get some tools.”

Tools? Well, I thought. I’m a big boy (I’m not, actually, but I still think of myself that way). I can handle pain. I’ve had kidney stones twice and spent eight hours in the emergency room throwing up in a bucket. I can handle a little toe pain. Boy, was I ever mistaken!

When she returned, the nurse practitioner had a tool kit I am convinced came from the Spanish Inquisition. I had evidently just been accused of witchcraft. The kit contained two needles each about six inches long, some tin snips and a pair of needle-nosed pliers. Then she again understated, “This is going to hurt a little”. She then wielded one the needles into my toe. It would have hurt less if she had pounded a rusty railroad spike into my toe with a small sledge hammer. But the masked Inquisitor was just starting her tortuous routine. The needle squirted it’s contents of hot molten lava into my toe that spread another form of searing pain throughout my foot. I don’t think I have cried at the doctor’s office since I was four years old, but I seemed to have broken that streak with this visit. She finally finished with needle #1 and out came needle #2. I thought, “At least this one won’t hurt as much, since there is already numbing medicine doing it’s magic from needle #1”. Well, that was wrong. She slammed the 2nd railroad spike in my toe generating all the pain of the 1st. But this one was filled with some kind of flesh-rotting acid that matched the pain of molten lava. I truly hope I just imagined her snickering at my reaction.

Finally, there was no feeling in my toe, so the Grand Inquisitor took out her tin snips and went to work by cutting my toenail in half. Watching that procedure made me almost thankful for the needle torture The tin snips dug in and soon half my toenail was gone. Next came the needle-nosed pliers. I thought I had cut the ingrown part out, but the tool belt master proved me quite wrong. She stuck pliers into the side of my toe, grabbed hold of pesky little problem and yanked it out with two giant tugs. My toe was a bloody mangled mess, but the Inquisitor had performed her exorcism of the problem toenail with absolute mastery. She bandaged up my toe and I was ready to go. Now here is the rub. I have experienced absolutely no pain at all since the anesthetic began to work.

So here is what I learned. I will not wear shoes that are too narrow. I will seek professional advice in a timely manner. If I get another ingrown toenail, I will cut my toe off before go through that experience again.

Ahh, I feel better now. I can move on to my next adventure.

Why Hillary Lost

Hi everybody. I need to preface this little tome with an explanation of why I am discussing politics on my 43rd anniversary, since the last time I wrote about the election I lost half my friends. Although politics is mentioned, it is merely a backdrop for my story. It’s like the fake scenery used as a backdrop in ’40’s movies; not even close to reality but it serves it’s purpose. Stay tuned. This really a love story. And, as a bonus, I also provide an explanation for why I am partially responsible for Donald Trump’s election victory. So read on! It may be worth it.

Last August I was glued to the television taking in all the political talk available, and there was a lot.The Republican convention had run it’s course and Mr. Trump was about to be unleashed on America. Being a junkie for all things political at that time, I couldn’t wait for the sun to rise on the Democratic convention. I was particularly interested in Bill Clinton’s address to the faithful because, as Explainer-in-Chief during that last presidential election, he had been able to sway a majority of the population to stay the course and keep President Obama in office. His job for the upcoming election was even a greater challenge; he was assigned the task of humanizing Hillary and to show the country she was really a loving wife, mother and grandmother who dedicated her career to helping the downtrodden while fighting for women all over the world to gain equal rights. And, conversely, she is not the unaware automaton whose greed and quest for power was so great she caused the death of our Libyan ambassador by refusing to a launch a military rescue mission because it would destroy the narrative that the uprising was caused by a film denigrating the Islamic faith (not true, but it got really good air time on Fox { I watched that, too }).

So I popped my popcorn and seated myself directly in front of my TV, ready to watch Uncle Bill do his thing on the world stage. Finally, it was time for the major event. It was exciting. The anticipation was palpable. The way Bill decided to humanize his wife was by telling a love story chronicling their relationship from the beginning when they met in school, through their courtship and marriage, child-rearing and becoming grandparents, all the while peppering his rhetoric with all her public life accomplishments. But try as he might, the task was even too big for the Great Explainer. Hillary was never able to rid herself of the cold fish persona and Mr. Trump rallied in the last days of the election to win in a landslide (or mudslide).

I had two reactions to to Mr.Clinton’s efforts. First, Bill stole my idea about writing a life-long love story of their relationship. On this date last year I posted my Facebook anniversary ode to my wife, Gayle Kelly Foos, using that very same concept. It took me a long time to come up with the idea and compose it with wit and humor and he took it (I don’t know how he found it, though. We’re not Facebook friends). My second reaction was, “Mine was much better than his” (You can judge that for yourself in a minute). I believe I was better able to capture the heartfelt expression of our enduring relationship, but I must admit, I may have had better marriage material to work with. But, if Bill had asked me to help him write his love story instead of just stealing my concept, it is very likely we would be saying “Madame President” today. Your welcome.

So now, I want to say Happy Anniversary to my wife of 43 years, Gayle Kelly Foos. You have always been my inspiration. Last year I wrote my favorite post about our life together. I’m pretty sure I can’t top it, so I’m just going to repost it. I love you, Gayle, then, now and forever.

Michon, The Starter Child

Our daughter Michon Foos Simanoff celebrates her 37th birthday today. Happy Birthday, sweetheart. I bet you wish I would stop here. I don’t know how she got older than me, but she has been doing amazing things all her life. It is always a source of pride to have a child smarter than you, but only after she is out of high school. She started out so special she needed a special name. Her mother, Gayle Kelly Foos swears we hadn’t decided on a name and I took advantage of her wooziness right after birth to impose my choice of names for our beautiful daughter. I’m going with the concept that she was woozy and couldn’t remember when we decided on the name. It is true it was my choice. I would like to claim that is an old family name from the time in which our forefathers were roaming the European continent, but in reality I had a student by that name and I liked it. Michon alternated between liking it because it made her stand out and hating it because it made her stand out. Before she was married and became a Simanoff, most people who had only heard her name and not met her in person were very surprised she wasn’t Asian.
Michon was our starter child and therefore we got to use her for practice. By the time her sister Lindsey Foos Lebowitz came along we were old hands at that parent thing. When she was born, Gayle returned to work and I stayed home with the baby. It wasn’t because we were an enlightened couple who wanted to break the stereotypes of gender. Gayle made more money than me and we really couldn’t afford day-care. So for six months I was mama/daddy. That was a great time in my life and I will always cherish those memories, but there were a few things that were difficult. I learned that soap operas have the same attraction as crack. I planned our day around “All My Children”. When Erica would file for another divorce (I think it was 3 times in that 6 month period) I would be heartbroken for days. I learned that showering was a thing you could do without for days. I learned to clock-watch and sit by the front door to hand off the baby when Mama walked in the door. When I got after Gayle for being so rude to not call me and let me know she was going to be 10 minutes late, she told me it was time for day-care. I learned that before children I was a selfish person, but being responsible for a baby made it very easy to give that up. I also learned how much you could love a child and how that doesn’t change just because they grow up.
Back to that practice child thing: Michon believed we were the most strict parents ever. The thing she hated most was curfew. She lost the use of her new car for a week on the first night of driving alone for being 5 minutes late. I think she’s still mad at us for that. Here’s a quick aside. When Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for her lead role in “Gravity” (the movie that taught us that no matter how bad things are, they can always get worse) she thanked her mother for her curfew rules. Sandra stated that, although she hated it at the time, she would have probably done those things her mother was afraid of without the curfew. We’re still waiting for our thank you’s on that one. When we dropped her off at college she let us know that she planned on staying out after curfew every night.
Her mother and I couldn’t be more proud of Michon. Look what she’s accomplished. She is Master’s educated, holds down an important job and takes care of her beautiful family. Her 13 year marriage to Lee Simanoff is strong, and her boys are, of course, pretty special themselves. We are going with Attribution Theory to explain how she is the strong, independent woman everyone knows today. It is because of her parents and the good job they did in raising her.
Happy Birthday, Michon!! We love you and can’t wait to see you and your family soon.

Mom and Dad

How I Spent My Easter Weekend

How I Spent My Easter Weekend, or; I’m Really not a Dumbass, or; Why I Am Banned From the Local Home Depot, or; Norman Saves the Day.

High everyone. Jim the Honorary Jew, here. How do you like the title of my new rambling essay on stuff? We just celebrated the holiest of days for both Christians and Jews. Like I mentioned in my post at this time last year, Passover is a big deal, but it is not in the same league as Rosh Hashanah. In that same vein, Good Friday and Easter don’t measure up to Christmas. And by the way, why is it called Good Friday? It seems to me that it is a very cruel misnomer. It should be called “The Worst Friday in the History of the World for Christians”. I am sure there is a logical explanation for this. But I can’t speak as a religious scholar, only as an observer of cultural phenomena. Religious scholars may well argue the significance of these celebrations are at least as weighty as the Rock Star holidays (I’ve only known two religious scholars: my college professor, who Really liked his female students to the tune of two to three per semester; and a good friend, Curt Edward Allison, who puts his religious knowledge and training to the test daily as a marketing director for a car dealership. Oh yeah, and my brother, Reverend Robert Foos. His church service is live on the internet every Sunday, so he must be good at it. I think so, anyway).
Okay, so what does that have to do with the odd titles of this piece of work? Well, nothing, actually, except that it happened during the holidays. Hence, the first title, “How I Spent the Easter Holiday”. It all started because our washing machine broke. The cost of the repair seemed exorbitant so Gayle Kelly Foos and I decided to spring for a new one. So off we went to to the Mall to shop at Sears. Parking was pretty easy; we were car #8 in a parking lot designed for 1400 cars (thank you, Amazon, for freeing up all those spots for us). We then spent an hour comparing different models and prices. We didn’t need that long, but the helpful sales person was a bit slow to help. Perhaps, he was helping the only other shopper in whole the store. We finally made the purchase. The next big decision was delivery and installation. For a mere $100 they would arrange for a crew to deliver and install the washer and haul off the old one… in two weeks!! I was was wearing my last pair of clean underwear, so that timeline was way off. We decided to pick it up and haul it home ourselves. How hard could it be to install a new washer? The hardest part for me should have been getting Gayle’s SUV backed up to the loading dock (I have a car-and-trailer-backing-up disability; I got a Gentleman’s C in Boat Backing Up School. Gayle aced it, but she couldn’t stand to back the boat into the water for fear that she would be pulled into the sea and die. What a pair we are!). But in just a short while we were loaded and headed home. What could go wrong?
Next, comes the “I’m really not a dumbass” part of the story. Removing the old washer and installing the new one should have been a 10 minute job. The washer and dryer share a closet with the hot water heater and the HVAC system. To remove the old washer, I had to move the dryer out of the way, which was relatively easy. Getting the old washer out of the closet was a bit taxing, but straight-forward. I was now ready to install the new one. And then it happened. While moving the dryer, the dryer vent hose disconnected from the outside vent….Now, I need to pause the story for some background. I have a Doctorate earned after 22 years of public education. I can build you a statistical formula that can produce a regression wave so beautiful you’d think you were looking at it from the beach at sunset. I know lots of stuff. It’s kind of hard to beat me in Trivial Pursuit. But when it comes to household repairs, however, I am a grade school dropout. Okay, back to the story…. So when I was able to pull out the old washer without problems, I was a little cocky. Yes, that is a very easy task, but I set low bars for myself. After inspecting the old dryer vent hose, it was obvious I needed to replace it with a new one. So off to Home Depot I went. During that first visit I found the dryer vent hose department, which, oddly enough, is right beside the dryers. I purchased the most expensive hose because it looked very sturdy, even though Gayle argued for the more flexible one. I also purchased a vent with a flap because the old one didn’t have a flap, making it quite the welcome mat for everything living outside to take up residence in the dryer. Then I headed home to try out my new DIY skills.
The dryer vent to the outside is located behind the water heater in the closet. The space behind the water heater didn’t lend itself to getting my whole body into a position in a way that I could use both hands to hook the hose onto the vent. Now here is the problem. The dryer hose and the vent are exactly the same size in diameter, so just sliding the hose over the vent and then getting the clamp in place and tightened is an impossible task, especially with only one hand. Try as I might, I couldn’t make it work. The solution I came up with sounded good to me. The expensive hose I purchased was very stiff. The old hose was damaged and had to be replaced, but it was made of thin plastic and was flexible enough to fit over the vent. I decided to return to Home Depot and find the cheap hose even though I would have to endure a few minutes of “I told you so” from Gayle.
“This shouldn’t take long” I said to myself. “I know where it is located. I’ll just pick it and go”. They didn’t have plastic ones. They had a cheaper one that looked more flexible than the expensive one. It was right beside the vents, so I decided to try to put the hose onto the vent before I left. Well, the cheap hose is also exactly the same diameter the vent, and I couldn’t get it to slide on. As I was struggling with this dilemma, the friendly dryer salesman from the next aisle asked in a not so friendly tone what I thought I was doing, so I told him, perhaps in the same tone as he used. I was into the 4th hour of a 10 minute job and I admit I was a bit testy. He told me to quit messing with the merchandise. I then requested that he try it. He related that all the hoses were the same size and 100 people per week install dryer hoses without a problem. Except he could’t do it either and I gave him a big smirking laugh. He then asked me to leave his department. “Huh, I’ve been kicked out of better places than this” I said to myself as I left hurriedly because I couldn’t think of anything witty to say at the moment when he pointed to the door. I realized then I forgot to get the hose. You know, I really love Loews, and they have cheap vent hoses.
So I arrived home not in the best of spirits. And low and behold, I couldn’t get it to fit, either. I can tell you that my man pride was pretty much finished off. I though I might have to take up crochet-work. When I get into these snits, Gayle does one of two things: her first choice is usually to find a Utube video, watch it for a few minutes and then fix it, much to my chagrin. Her second choice, the secret weapon, as it were, is to call Norman. Norman Nickle is good friend of mine. He is somewhat of a freak of nature, however. He owns several small businesses that all take mechanical genius to keep them running and he is up to the task. He is a combination of the Car Guys, Bob Villa and Mr. Wizard. He would still be a good friend even if he wasn’t a fixit savant, but he is. If you have a problem with your car, whether it is a flat tire, an odd noise being emitted from the rear differential, or brake problems, call Norman. If your garage door isn’t working, call Norman. If you have plumbing problem, call Norman. If you can name it, he can fix it. I called Norman. Did I mention we are friends? Oh yeah, I may have mentioned that. He brought his truck filled with every tool imaginable and his future son-in-law to help him get stuff out of his truck. He began the task trying all the things I tried with the same success. I did smirk a little about that. But instead of throwing up his hands and whining like an eight year old girl he kept trying alternatives until he had it mastered. It did take him about 15 minutes, while I only worked on it for about 6 hours. Did I mention he is a friend of mine? We sat around and talked for a few more minutes and then he had to go. It was the holiday weekend, after all.
So that’s how I spent my holiday weekend. And now I’m sitting at home writing this tome in clean underwear, once again proving the adage that all things turn out OK in the end. If it’s not OK it only means it isn’t the end.

The Foos/Simanoff Union: The Reason there is an Honorary Jew

Happy anniversary to our daughter Michon Foos Simanoff and son-in-law Lee Simanoff. I think it’s their 13th or 14th, but who’s counting. This liaison is the reason I have anointed myself an honorary Jew. From the very beginning of their relationship it seemed to be destined to a solid future. I remember that Michon wanted us to meet this special guy (Dad, he’s just like you, except he’s smart, tall and good looking). Although Lee couldn’t tell it, I was impressed. I was into projecting the “Be good to our daughter or you won’t like the consequences” demeanor. But when he asked for our blessing to marry Michon, Gayle Kelly Foos and I were both thrilled. And since that day we gained a son.
Not only did we gain a son, we gained a new family who welcomed us with open arms. Lee’s mother, Ann Simanoff, father , Don Simanoff and brothers Michael and Dave Simanoff and more recently Britt Shirley graciously share holidays and vacation time we have together. We truly have become good friends. But now there are grandchildren to be shared. We all agree that Ryland and Max are two of the most special boys ever. Michon and Lee only half-heartedly joke that we have stopped coming to see them; we are just in it for the grandkids. While that’s not entirely true, it absolutely is a big selling point. We all share religious holidays. Who else gets Seder and Easter dinner; and Christmas and Hanukkah, too?(that Kosher thing, though, is little too hard for me, being a member of Bacon Nation). We are quite the multicultural stew.
So, everyone that knows Michon and Lee be sure and with them a happy 13th or 14th (I think) anniversary. They will be celebrating in high style. The evening starts with soccer practice and is then highlighted by a a romantic dinner at Chick-Fil-A. Perfect!

Happy anniversary you two, and many more.
Love, Mom and Dad

Bill’s Birthday and Other Deep Thoughts

It’s Sunday afternoon and I am in Rockport. It’s cloudy and windy so I don’t feel like going fishing, and Gayle Kelly Foos left me…..(for 10 days to visit her elderly mother in Wichita) so I’m all alone with my computer. What could possibly go wrong? I guess I’ll need to fill my time by writing pithy musings about stuff. I’ve always had pithy thoughts, according to me, but the world was spared from my witticisms because I couldn’t type. I tried to take typing in school, but the teacher informed me I was by far the worst typing student she had ever seen and suggested shop class so I could learn a trade. And she had taught people with no hands! I thought about sending a copy of my Doctoral degree to her, but I still couldn’t have typed the address label (it’s not true that I married Gayle, a typing teacher by the way, so she would type my dissertation). Look at me now! I’m a regular Tammy the Typist. Now, I guess I should talk about what spurred my witty musings today.
A friend from my past had a birthday a few days ago. Bill Werth and I were roommates for about a year or so when we were 18. We’ve known each other since Kindergarten in LaCrosse. His birthday is on April Fool’s Day so everyone always remembered it, even without Facebook reminders. Lucky him. He and his family moved to the big city of Wichita and some time later, so did I. We remained friends because we are from a small town and that’s what you do. During that time in our lives being responsible meant making sure we had enough money for bail when we went out on Saturday nights. Lets just say that was a very good idea, and leave it at that.
Remembering his birthday reminded me of that time in our lives when everything was possible. We definitely lived in the moment and for the moment every moment of the day. But despite that, we both turned out to lead fruitful and successful lives filled with family and good friends. I do believe no one who knew us then would have predicted that outcome for either of us.
I am much older now, but as far as my thoughts, wants, desires and dreams, I feel almost exactly the same (so I am really 18, but there is just something really bad the matter that makes me have bad eyesight, poor hearing, walk slowly, and have a heart that may be a ticking time bomb). I have found some truisms, though. Here are a few. See if you agree:
1. Those who say that with age comes wisdom has never met me or any of my friends; or I’m not yet old enough. Yeah, that must be it.
2. Whenever there is a chance to not open your mouth, take it; especially if the conversation is about politics, religion or sex. This one was learned the hard way. Too bad I couldn’t have just read it in a book and absorbed the information.
3. Alcohol consumption does NOT make you witty. Another hard lesson.
Well, that’s enough. The sun just came out! A buddy just texted that he is at the pool with a drink in hand and needs company. I just need to remember #3; and check to see if I have enough for bail.
Happy birthday, Bill.

A Grandparent’s Love Has No Rules

Those who say money can’t buy love obviously don’t have grandchildren. It’s amazing what $6 worth of candy and a couple of stuffed animals will do to enhance the extra-generational bond. Parents don’t necessarily agree with our philosophy that more is more, but when we are in town they can only throw their hands up in frustration.
Needless to say, our trip to Florida has been a resounding success. We have many more pictures, but one grandson insists that they not be published without his express written permission because it would destroy his private life. Although I’m pretty sure I’m not Facebook friends with any of his friends, he isn’t willing to take that chance with his popularity. So off we go, heading back to Texas with only a few tears in our eyes. Goodbye boys. Take good care of your parents.

Gayle’s Birthday and other Mushy Stuff

Happy birthday to my sweetheart (that’s you, Gayle). We are finally the same age again. You are still the prettiest girl I know, and the only one who will tolerate me even when I eat garlic (that’s a not so long and uninteresting story in itself). You still make me tingle in the same way you did when I first met you at the ripe age of 15, sitting at the lunch counter of the local drugstore eating mustard-dipped French fries. Today we celebrate like we almost always celebrate our birthdays, by going to work. Even though our jobs keep us 100 miles apart today, I be thinking of you. This weekend we are off on another adventure and also get to see half of our children and grandchildren. Maybe we can practice being retired, sort of.
I love you the same as always, a whole bunch (no, flowers weren’t attached to this note. Buying gifts for each other is another story, also not very interesting. We usually celebrate with trips to make sure our children have less of an inheritance and have to keep putting up with us until we die or run out of money. No, they don’t get to choose which comes first. That’s a parent’s prerogative. Let’s just say we have plans that may be considered squatting in some major cities).

Oh, in case you didn’t know or have a secret admirer who you met when at the local drugstore at age 15 and hasn’t told you happy birthday today, this is Jim, your husband.