Monthly Archives: September 2009

Take hold of every moment


(Folks, I was cleaning up one of my system drives today and came across this email from years ago… and thought it worth sharing.)

“A friend of mine opened his wife’s underwear drawer and picked up a silk paper wrapped package:

“This, – he said – isn’t any ordinary package.” He unwrapped the box and stared at both the silk paper and the box.

“She got this the first time we went to New York, 8 or 9 years ago. She has never put it on. Was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is it. He got near the bed and placed the gift box next to the other items of clothing he was taking to the funeral house, his wife had just died. He turned to me and said:

“Never save something for a special occasion. Every day in your life is a special occasion”.

I still think those words changed my life. Now I read more and clean less. I sit on the porch without worrying about anything. I spend more time with my family, and less at work. I understood that life should be a source of experience to be lived up to, not survived through. I no longer keep anything. I use crystal glasses every day. I’ll wear new clothes to go to the supermarket, if I feel like it. I don’t save my special perfume for special occasions; I use it whenever I want to.

The words “Someday…” and “One Day…” are fading away from my dictionary. If it’s worth seeing, listening or doing, I want to see, listen or do it now. I don’t know what my friend’s wife would have done if she knew she wouldn’t be there the next morning, this nobody can tell. I think she might have called her relatives and closest friends. She might call old friends to make peace over past quarrels. I’d like to think she would go out for Chinese, her favorite food. It’s these small things that I would regret not doing, if I knew my time had come. I would regret it; because I would no longer see the friends I would meet, letters… letters that I wanted to write “One of this days”. I would regret and feel sad, because I didn’t say to my brothers and sons, not times enough at least, how much I love them. Now, I try not to delay, postpone or keep anything that could bring laughter and joy into our lives. And, on each morning, I say to myself that this could be a special day. Each day, each hour, each minute, is special.”

Hal here: I developed some of these attitudes to life many years ago, during my childhood. With the rush of being a working dad & husband, some things had to be set aside. But many of you know I’ve always done my best to enjoy life and living. In the two years since losing Sis and the year since my surgery / complications / losing Dee, I began to focus even a bit tighter on enjoying the moment and people I care about.

Since one never knows when the compass arrow will point to them, now might be a good time for you to do the same – live life.

Or, as Pan and Dee would say, Rub my tummy and feed me hunny 🙂

Blankie Cat

About a year ago we were talking with Ellen about the pleasures & challenges of having cats in the house and she mentioned that one of hers always climbs under the covers to sleep at night.

Huh, ours never did that – what’s up with that?

And then when Pan needed surgery 2x last year, we came to the firm realization that we could have a fuzzy, dead cat or a closely shaved, live cat. We prefer live cats so Pan has been a closely shaved, live cat ever since. On those cold days and nights you can when tell she’s got that “Hey, anybody seen my fur?” look on her face / body actions that she’s chillin’ in a way that she shouldn’t be.

Remembering Ellen’s “cat-in-the-blanket” stories, one cold spring morning we covered her with a blankie. In less than 15 seconds she settled down and in less than 2 minutes she was snoring – not purring – SNORING! What we’ve discovered since is that Pan loves sleeping under a blankie – cold days, hot days – you name it, she loves it. (One day last week I watched her hop up on the bed and cover herself up with the blankie and fall asleep in seconds. How funny.)

This latest pic is of you-know-who in her new, favorite sleeping arrangement, apparently balancing her body temperature by sticking her foot out of the blankie.

God Save The Queen (Pandora)!

Islands in the sun

As some of you know, this year “we” seem to have caught the “let’s put an island in our yard because…” flu, er, bug. (It seems Incline Mike’n’Mimi – when they were Walnutters – did this @ their house and over time, it’s migrated down this way. Don’t think I don’t know who’s really responsible for this, kids)

I can’t say when the symptoms in “us” first appeared, but they burst in the open one day when the Missus said, “I’ve ordered some dirt for around the tree and to fill in some low spots in the yard.”

“Some dirt”. Uh-oh, that sounded vague, yet unsettling… kinda like, “Hey, I hear North Korea is having some Pakistani nuclear scientists over for a pajama party.” Yep, in my heart of hearts I knew “that’s not good”.

And then one day the Dirt Fairy showed up and left a big dump right in front of our house. How big is BIG? Well, the Missus said something that ended in “Yards” and checking the paperwork, it turns out the Dirt Fairy left us ten cubic yards. Uh-oh, Oh-Boy… shoot, who’s going to move that stuff? (he said out loud while turning all around, looking for “the crew”) Like a lot of other things, if you know something needs to be done and you can’t find the people who are supposed to do it, it’s probably you gonna be doin’ the work.

So, in the dead of summer (>100F days), I got to work. Not too hard, mind you – we’re talking about physical labor here – but I got to work… and like all good projects, it took a little longer to complete than I’d imagined it would have. Ok, to be honest, Rick built his addition in the roughly same time it took me to move the Ten Cubic Yards of dirt – but, hey – he had help!

It’s been a few months now and things seem to be settled in pretty well, so here are a few pics of our Islands in the Sun for you to enjoy.

A lot, but not all, of the island. Placed directly out of you-know-who’s office window, the feedback I get it that it provides a very attractive gathering place for local birds. Finches. Doves. Hummingbirds. Woodpeckers. Dee would have been perched on Joanne’s desk watching her “Daily Bird Show”.

Just after the sprinkler cycle completed the other morning, I caught this shot of the grass w/water glistening in the sunlight. It appears not quite as sharply focused as I’d thought it would be. Darn old-guy eyes and dioptic lens adjustment in conflict again 🙁

More green and purple stuff the bees like.

Watching the smaller birds visit this ornament – which has become their watering hole – makes the effort to create the island well worth it. (I also use the water level as a water gauge for the plants / birds.)

Local car show / gathering

Cruising through the old ‘hood two weeks ago, I ran in to former neighbors Bob and Linda.

Bob’s got a few classic cars’n’scooters I’ve always admired, and he’s always liked my scooters’n’NSX’s so we chatted for a few minutes. Life’s good for them (glad to hear) and he’s rebuilt his ’69 Chevelle… very cool. Talking to him I learned that each Wed afternoon from 4-8ish it’s not unusual to find 100+ classic cars gathered in the parking lot @ Scott / El Camino.

I put that on my calendar and paid an hour’s visit last week to take a few pics. As usual, my pics are more record-keeping than art, but here are just a few of them:

’55 Chevy wheel well w/chromed American Mags. An absolutely classic combination – this car was bitchin’.

Beautiful MG dash… didn’t get the year, I’ll try to find that out today and update. In person, this is a gorgeous example of automobile-as-art.

Gorgeous emblem… and the name worked well for a 70’s rock band, too!

This ’65 VW was the most jewel-like restoration I’ve ever seen… it was just beautiful and the owner was extremely gracious, as well.

Ford truck grill… the entire truck had been rebuilt and was gorgeous, top to bottom.

Kaiser roll, anyone?

I know bupkis about Kaiser’s, but I’d bet the NSX this car bears little resemblance to it’s original delivery version.

Yakking w/the owner I learned that w/street gas the car develops >600hp; with race fuel and tuning, >1,000hp. What a rocket!

Turns out the week before I attended, there were ~250 cars @ the gathering. If you enjoy seeing some of the cars we grew up with – or have only read about – this is the place. It’s free of charge and every person I met there was very nice as well as happy to share info about their cars. (You should hear the Mopar’s roll in… woof!)

BEWARE: Campbell Cat Burglar on the prowl!!

We were having a Happy Birthday chat with Ellen last night (Happy Birthday!) and got to talking about “things down @ her end of the street.”

Well, it turns out there have been a series of thefts from some of her neighbor’s property that – until recently – went unexplained. Not big, expensive things. Nope, the generator’s are still there… and so are cars’n’bicycles. Construction tools? Yep, still there, too. No, nothing big and expensive… but small things… actually, things that might be easily be considered misplaced by those of “a certain age”.

Shirts removed while working in the hot sun. Numerous pairs of leather work / garden gloves left next to their last-used tools or on a workbench. Replacement gloves (pink gloves?!) brought in to take the place of the misplaced / removed gloves. Low voltage garden lights. Hats.

As Ellen told the story, she had begun hearing reports of various things missing from several of the houses around her place. As the toll mounted, it came to her: “Ah, she said, that’s probably Dodger.”

Turns out that Dodger is another neighbor’s indoor / outdoor cat who has – for years! – roamed the neighborhood, picking up things he’s taken a fancy to and brought them back home to, um, enjoy. Apparently that continues year-round until Dodger’s caretaker has a pretty good sized bag of loot, whereupon he drags out the bag and visits local neighbors asking if anything in Dodger’s Treasure Bag belongs to them.

Good for Dodger(!), because the way I see it, he’s created something of a virtuous neighborhood cycle:

  • Neighbor buys needed materials to make property improvements.
  • Neighbor uses materials to improve property, increasing their happiness quotient.
  • Believing his neighbor’s work is completed and needs cleaning up a bit, Dodger claims “excess” materials as his own and, in the process, improves his own property.
  • Unable to locate their belongings, neighbor / former owner of “lost” materials purchases new items, incrementally boosting local / state and national economies.
  • Dodger’s caretaker bundles everything up and visits neighbors while conducting his “Do you know who owns these things?” campaign.
  • Relationships – human and material – are renewed and refreshed on-the-spot!
  • Cycle repeats itself throughout the year, intensifying during neighborhood peak-activity periods.

Although we’ve met Dodger’s caretaker once, I couldn’t pick him out of a lineup. But I’d recognize Dodger anywhere:

He’s the white cat with a pink glove in his mouth!

Pandora / vet update…

Well, after our trip to the vet earlier this week I was hoping we’d skate by with just an upper respiratory thing Dr. Ueno diagnosed during our visit. But it turns out the blood tests indicate Pan’s got another tumor on her thyroid and will require treatment. We need to do another set of tests to choose the course of treatment, but it looks like we’re heading down that road (again).

As Incline Mike said in an email to me yesterday, Pan’s last treatment for this gave us 4 years of good health so let’s hope for more of the same.

Indeed. (At least) 4 more of the same 🙂