"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."

Friday, April 27, 2007

Making The Commitment

Well, last night I made the commitment; I made a promise to myself; I inked the contract; I set the wheels of change in motion; I jumped into the deep end.

I signed up with Team In Training for the 2007 Marine Corp Marathon.

As previous posts have indicated, my reasons for doing so are many. The most important of which is my brother-in-law Billy, who has battled Lymphoma for the past 6 years. For him and those like him who suffer from this disease along with other blood cancers, I hope to raise both money and awareness so that perhaps someday soon, these maladies will forever vanish from the earth.

Should you feel so inclined as to visit my website and make a tax deductible donation, please click here. And know my gratitude for your generosity is sincere and heartfelt.

But also know your prayers and moral support are equally important and deeply appreciated so thanks in advance for any good karma you can direct my way.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress as the months unfold.

“Be the change you want to see in the world." – Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, April 21, 2007

My Epiphany

Reflecting on our lives is often brought on by significant events. Unfortunately events which produce this form of self evaluation are too often tragic. The events of this past week have for me produced nothing short of an epiphany.

My eyes have opened after being closed for too long and what I’ve seen about myself has left me filled with regret, shame and sorrow. For I am guilty of allowing myself to become emotionally detached from the most important person in my life; my best friend; my life partner; my lover; my wife.

Over the course of the past 11 years Beth has steadfastly stood by me, weathering each storm, many of which I now recognize were of my own making. Her love and commitment to our marriage vows – for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer - have never wavered.

She never gave up even though she had every right to do so.

She never stopped loving me even though I have been unworthy and undeserving.

She never lost faith even though I haven’t been there for her.

She has loved me unconditionally even though I lost sight of what unconditional love means.

My eyes are no longer closed and I am grateful it is her beautiful face that I now see.

Thank you for not giving up on me; on us.

I love you Beth, now and forever.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Morning Was Broken

Arising this morning at my usual time of between 5 and 5:15 am, I slowly made my way downstairs followed closely by two of man’s best friends, Reilly and Mocha. As Retrievers – one Golden and one Labrador – they ordinarily are not early risers, preferring instead to remain fast asleep until the mistress of the house begins to stir. However when I’m home alone, they always get up with me, or in some cases, get me up with them.

Nevertheless, the three of us ambled down the stairs with our noses taking in the morning scents. I know not what intriguing bouquets may have stimulated their olfactory senses but for me it was the trance inducing, ever beckoning aroma of fresh brewed coffee.

Shuffling into the kitchen, I was drawn as steel is to the magnet towards the waiting pot of black gold. But before I would pour my very first cup, the dynamic duo of Dogdom would demand their obligatory trip outside in order to wildly run amok and repeatedly relieve themselves throughout the yard in select spots of which, only they may discern as being worthy of their waiting deposit. All the while, their snouts remain pointed to the sky so as to not miss any interesting smell which might immediately demand their attention in another part of the yard.

As this is a tried and true routine, it ordinarily presents few, if any challenges however on this particular morning, a foreboding cloud awaited.

Ever observant – even at this hour – I knew the previous day had been one of a steady downpour of rain which experience taught, made for a very muddy back yard. And as is the natural order of things, a muddy back yard makes for a total of eight very muddy paws when said paw's owners are busily in search of the aforementioned select spots.

As a result on such mornings, I find it simpler and less labor intensive to take Mocha and Reilly out through the garage and into the front of the house where several additional select spots exist both in my yard and the neighbors, as well as the stretch of ivy across the street. Keeping them on a leash while doing so limits their mobility as well as any potential distractions, which allow them to more clearly focus on the task at hand. It also makes for less effort and less time involved in the ensuing clean up required prior to re-entering the house.

At this point it is important to note each of these animals weighs approximately 80-90 pounds. Consequently, they must be taken out independently lest one wish to run the risk of having one or more arms ripped from their sockets as a result of a darting squirrel, pesky cat or an unsuspecting newspaper delivery person.

And so leaving Mocha standing confused in the garage, I leashed Reilly and exited through the side door, pulling it to behind me.

The pre-dawn air was damp and carried a slight chill as I drew my robe close but the gradually lighting skies promised a clear day ahead. Relishing in the prospects of an end to this most recent early spring cold snap, my thoughts were happily lost as Reilly proceeded to quickly locate several select spots without incident. Knowing Mocha was just as anxious to follow suit; I retreated from my thoughts and turned back towards the door, bidding Reilly to follow. Reaching the door, I reached for the knob and in one horrifyingly graphic instant, the cold realization hit me with the thunder force of a 20 pound maul.

The door was locked.

Here I was, standing outside in the waning darkness, clad only in my bathrobe at 5:20 in the morning. I had no key, no garage door opener, no cell phone and no other entity inside the house in possession of opposable thumbs. Instead, inside were Mocha the Lab, Sugar, our geriatric Miniature Pinscher – I hate that name - and three caged birds which are as useless as wings on an Emu (or themselves for that matter). None of which has ever even so much as contemplated learning how to unlock a door, much less become adept at doing so.

“Crap,” I heard myself say as Reilly just stared at me with that hapless expression of disappointment dogs get when their owners do things which dispel the myth of their self serving omnipotence.

“What now Einstein,” I imagined him saying as I pondered the same question.

What now indeed?

Instinctively, I took a quick survey of my surroundings ironically relieved I saw no one about. Embarrassment is a powerful emotion, is it not? Frantically rushing to the front door in the hopes I may have subconsciously unlocked it at some point since awakening allowed me a second opportunity to experience the sickening sensation of hopelessness as the dead bolt was of course, securely in place.

Insisting to myself that I remain calm, I began to think of what possible options I might have. After several frustrating moments, something involving the breaking of glass was the best I was able to come up with and so I began the process of determining which glass when broken, would prove to be the easiest and least costly to replace.

Walking past the garage door and down the steps with Reilly in tow, I entered through the back gate and proceeded to the lower deck where I discovered both the downstairs kitchen window and the lower sunroom door to be responsibly and securely locked.

Glaring at the kitchen window, I determined it’s ease of breakage, as well as it’s replacement value to be significantly less than that of the full sized, double paned sliding sunroom door and so I began the mental process of selecting the most proficient implement available for rendering this household fixture, whose only crime was to be properly locked, into a pile of broken glass.

On the deck itself where numerous devices which would have proved adequate for the task at hand; a 4 ½ foot tall iron candle holder given to us by Don And Kathleen, a large ceramic pot containing the dead aloe plant which failed to survive the winter’s cold, a pair of lanterns which haven’t been lit in ages and my granddaughter’s miniature Adirondack chair – painted appropriately pink.

Selecting the iron candle holder, I gallantly instructed Reilly to stand back as I prepared to break into my own house, fully aware that upon my wife’s return home that evening, I would likely be subjected to an interrogation the likes of which I had yet to experience.

For a fleeting second I paused to contemplate which might be worse; remaining outside in my robe for the remainder of my natural life or the ensuing ridicule combined with no fewer than 2,135 grilling, unanswerable questions. This proved to be a difficult choice particularly since warmer weather was just around the corner.

As I pondered, Reilly looked on and realized his breakfast, or possibly lack thereof, depended upon a quick resolution to all aspects of the problem at hand. In doing so, his initial bewilderment and subsequent amusement at my dilemma quickly diminished. Now with a vested interest in the situation’s outcome, he assumed a Lassie like persona and quickly dashed to the steps leading to the upper deck, pausing only to turn toward me and bark in that clever way TV dogs do when they want a human to do something such as follow them because little Timmy has fallen headlong into the well.

Being 50 years old and consequently having cut my teeth many years ago watching a black and white Lassie rescue little Timmy week after week, I quickly realized what was up and turned to follow him while uttering the all encouraging, “What is it boy, what is it?”

With Reilly in the lead, his tail wagging furiously and I close behind, with my robe flapping in the breeze, we bounded up the stairs. As I stopped in front of the window, I have never been so glad for a lack of personal responsibility in my entire life for before me atop the bottom window’s sash, stood the lock bale in a fully unlocked position.

Giddy with glee, I began to remove the screen in preparation for forced entry when Reilly began once again to bark. Assuming he was rightly proud of himself and merely seeking recognition, I looked at him and said “Good boy Reilly, good boy.”

Unbeknownst to me however, Reilly had something else on his mind and when it became evident I was failing to properly comprehend his intentions, he proceeded to take matters into his own teeth as it were. Grabbing my flapping robe in his mouth, he began to pull me away from the window and my task, drawing me closer and closer to the sliding door of the upper sunroom.

My protestations proved fruitless as he refused to release his grip and in a moment, I was pressed against the glass of the sliding door. Momentarily losing sight of the hero aspect of a Lassie like exercise, I began to swear and shout at the one whom only moments before I lauded.

“What the hell Reilly? Let go of me! I’ve got to get the window opened you idiot!”

Reilly readjusted his grip on the robe and in doing so grabbed a chunk of my being in an area of my anatomy which, while not spot on, was close enough to command my undivided attention.

“W..w..what is it b..b..boy?”

Releasing his grip and thereby bringing me a monumental sense of relief, he placed his snout against the glass door and again barked. It was the type of bark which seemed to say, “Look at this you nimrod.”

And so I did. And what I saw through the glass was even more cause for appreciation for irresponsibility as on the opposite side of the glass pointing downward in the unlocked position, was the locking mechanism for the sliding glass door.

I slid the door open and Reilly walked in looking at me as if to say, “You idiot. Now get in here and feed me.”

Meanwhile Mocha remained in the garage but before I ventured out again, I grabbed a handful of treats for Reilly which he inhaled like a brand new Hoover and then I quickly went through the house unlocking every exterior door … just in case.

As I’ve reflected on this morning’s near disaster, it occurs to me I’ve a great deal to be thankful for.

The previous day’s unrelenting downpour had abated.

Unlike other mornings where I’ve ventured out under similar circumstances, I was wearing a robe this time.

And lastly, being irresponsible isn’t always such a bad thing.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the hardware store to have several keys made … which I intend to place in selected spots around my yard.