Danish Firestarter

firestarterI love have visitors, especially my family.  I’m very close with my sister and her family, so it was an amazing experience when they came to visit us this summer.  Well, unless your brother-in-law attempts to burn by garden and house!!

Not intentionally of course, and he felt very very very bad about the incident.

He smokes the pipe, which is not so common in the US unless you live in Woodstock, is a hillbilly carpenter or simple organic creature that feed off the land … the latter would most likely live in Woodstock area, have long grey beard and sing Joe Cocker tunes.

I do have to add that Woodstock is a great little area to visit, and is not stock in the 60’s.  A few interesting characters does float around, but it’s fun for the family.

However, my brother-in-law is Danish, and smoking the pipe doesn’t make you weird.  I have absolutely no problem with tobacco smoking visitors, but they do have to smoke outside, and he totally obeyed that rule.

Ever so often he would step outside, with a cold beer, and take in the landscape we live in and ponder on life’s great mystery … how do we get a pool installed.

He would leave the pipe outside, in a secure holder, and tap out the old tobacco in the soil. Little did he (we) realise that this would be a terrible mistake.  We had been blessed with 85-92 Fahrenheit (32+ degrees Celcius) and little rain.

One morning, as my wonderful wife was going to get breakfast bagels, she returned to the house quickly as she had noticed smoke in the flowerbed.  I walk out with a cup of water, but quickly realised that I needed a hell of lot more water.

burning_flowerjpgA large patch (2 x 6 feet) of the flowerbed was literally smoking.  As I placed my hand on the soil, it was too warm and some bushes had started to collapse under the heat.

The scary thing is, my brother-in-law had been tapping out the left-over tobacco for about 2 days, and it had grown into a large pit.

We all noticed the smell of burned wood the night before, but assumed it was there neighbours who had been partying and enjoyed a BBQ.  Nope!!

My dear brother-in-law spent the next two hours with the garden hose and a small shovel, making sure the ‘fire’ had been put out.  He was so embarrassed and shocked at the same time.  No of us expected this.  It just shows how carefull we have to be with fiercest, BBQs and tobacco.  The smallest amber can devastate large areas.

The positive was that, due to his guilt, he cleaned the front area of weed, fixed the other flowerbeds, cut the grass, swept the porch and put up our outdoor clothes drying rack.

…and he made a safe ashtray for his pipe and tobacco, with sand and rocks.

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Mid Life Baywatch

pamela-anderson-baywatchJust by me mentioning ‘Baywatch‘ you instantly get a picture in your head of Pamela Anderson running down the beach, in her red bathing suit and boobs bobbing up ‘n down, while she smiles awkwardly clinging to the lifesaver.

Patrick_StarWell, this is not what this post is about.  Life saving yes, but slightly different mental picture.  It involves me walking along the pool edge, looking similar to Patrick Star in both skin color and oddly body shape, wearing my somewhat tight blue swimming trunks with a small hole in the crutch area (which I actually wasn’t aware of!?).

I have the daddy look going these days; “small” belly, pale as death himself, ginger beard and tight trunks.  Not the poster icon for next swimsuit edition, but I am apparently carrying the hot daddy look these days, something that I wasn’t even aware even existed.

Apparently women dig this look according to my 20-year-old nephew who mainly sleeps during the day, who now aspires to look more like his “cool” uncle.

Anyway, we had been invited to this amazing family pool party in a wealthy area of New York State called Chappaqua – a name I have seriously difficulties pronouncing without insulting native American Indians.  We weren’t too sure what to expect, but were pretty impressed when we pulled up to the mansion that could easily fit 3 of our house inside.

We approached the back garden and crossed a football sized lawn, to reach the pool area, which had large BBQ area, plenty of seating for 50 people, pool house with small kitchen and a supersized pool.  It was perhaps 40-50 feet long, and ranging from 3 feet to 8 feet deep.  A really nice size pool.

PoolParty

Within 10 minutes of arriving, feeling the sun frying my bacon, my kids happily jumped into the pool with various belt and floating devices – and plenty of sunblock.

Another kid, a 10-11 year old boy, was playing in the pool.  He was mainly jumping on the bottom and he didn’t look like a super confident swimmer.

For some reason, I kept looking at the pool and the kids playing.  Something was bothering me, and it quickly became apparent.  Things escalated within seconds.

The happy and over-confident boy was starting to struggle to reach the bottom, and had difficulties getting back to the low-end.  His mum jumped in to help him, but she was then struggling to reach bottom as well and keep her son above surface.

supermandad1Without hesitating, I jumped into the pool still wearing my Hawaiian shirt.  I quickly got the boy into my arm, while reach the mother with my right arm – dragging both to safety.

The mother was for obvious reasons very happy that I had saved them both, and gave the boy plenty of hugs … and also a few angry comments about staying at the shallow end.

Several spectators clapped my shoulders for saving them, and I rewarded myself with a cold beer.  The severity of the incident started to hit me and from then on I kept monitoring the pool.

Lesson learned – when having a pool party, with many adults and kids, you should always have a dedicated lifeguard on duty.  It should not be the responsibility of a parent or guest.

I will look after my kids while swimming, but will also keep an eye on other kids, especially after this event.

Do I consider myself a hero - some of the guests called me hero

No, I did what I had to do, and hopefully what any other person would’ve done.  I’m just grateful that nothing happened and that I could help save these people.

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Save a flower

redhawk-dancersWe had the wonderful experience of attending a Native American Pow Wow some weeks ago, in Bear Mountain (NY) and it was a fantastic day.  Weather was late 80’s Fahrenheit and the pow wow was full of colourful native indians wearing their costumes.

Visitors were welcome to participate and could buy plenty of souvenirs, handcrafts and refreshments.  The latter was import to make sure your body was hydrated in the heat.

As I was getting refreshing lemonades for the family, I noticed another visitor who looking a little pale.  It was an elderly native american, who was accompanied by her son (I believe).  She complained about dizziness and was showing signs of heat stroke and/or dehydration.

Suddenly she sat down and I decided to help out.  No one else seemed to worry too much.  I got her into a chair in the shade and got her some cold water, and also a cold sugary strawberry lemonade.

Another person placed ice cubes on her neck, but they quickly dropped into the seat in which she was sitting.  I’m sure that was uncomfortable, and informed her that I was going to touch her butt – she smiled and said that it has not happened for some years :-)

She seemed to be doing better gradually and I left her to bring back the lemonade to my family.

native_flowerI returned to the lady some minutes later and learned that her name was Lomasi (Pretty Flower).  She was very happy to see me and confirmed that she was feeling better.  I gave her a hug and left.

I seem to be getting into the habit of saving people – not a bad thing and great feeeling.

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Absent

wooshWoosh!

July just flew by in a flash, and I didn’t really get a chance to submit and publish any new posts.  Well, I shared a funny video of Fallon and Cruise singing duet, but that doesn’t really count.

The month kicked off really well with 4th of July celebrations – quiet BBQ in the backyard with the family, but had to go on business trip to Amsterdam for a week.  It’s great travelling with work, but I prefer to spend traveling time with my family.

Amsterdam is pretty cool to visit, but still think the ‘red light district’ is a strange concept.  More about that in another post.

The rest of July was dedicated to my family visiting from Denmark.  That was the best 3 weeks in a long long time, and fantastic to spend some quality time with my sister again.  They’ll be back to visit I’m sure.

Short post event shorter, I’m back writing posts and apologizes for the short lapse in releasing new materials.

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That Loving Feeling

I just love Jimmy Fallon, and Cruise is great in this lip sync battle – excellent duet boyz!

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John Deere Experience

tractor1As I’m typing this blog, I’m sitting on my newest coolest toy, a John Deere sit-on mower.

My WIFI is strong enough to power my internet connection on my Gen1 iPad, although I have to be parked next to the wall of the living room to get a strong enough signal – outside of course.

It’s not easy to type while driving, chewing tobacco and spitting, and trying to avoid drooling into my beard or dripping spit on my iPad – all at the same time.

How much more American can this get?

We recently got our very first John Deere sit-on mower, in it’s traditional green and yellow colors.  The kids went absolutely bonkers as daddy started to mow the lawn, in record time … and even better, without breaking a sweat.

tractor2They all wanted to try the green ‘m yellow monster tractor, but as I had never driven such a beast before, I was a little apprehensive about getting behind the wheel.  And, even more apprehensive letting the kids have a go.

But, super-daddy lifted them up on to his lap, one by one, and we took turns cutting grass.  There was laughter and tears.  Even more when momma-bear jumped in the driver’s seat at went “flying” down the lawn – not even cutting straight lines.

In the end as the novelty started to wear off, I had the brightest of ideas and revelations.  My oldest daughter, now same height as my wonderful wife, would be able to cut the grass under supervision of course.  This allows me to teach her a few valuable life lessons about;

  • delegation
  • micromanagement
  • management styles
  • ownership
  • roles & responsibilities

homer… all very valuable skills that she would need in the future, and I could teach her all these while drinking a pint of Guinness responsibly from the safety of my deck.  It would also teach her that her father does not support drinking while operating heavy machinery :-)

All in all, getting our John Deere has been a real eye opener, both for me and my daughter.  She quickly realized that earning pocket money can be fun.  And, I get to relax on the deck again.

Only problem today is that the bloody thing doesn’t start!

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Happy Father’s Day

Fathers-Day21 June 2015 – woken up by my wonderful family, who surprised me with full Irish breakfast.  I could smell the wonderful favour of seared pig, freshly brewed coffee and of course my wife’s fantastic homemade scones.  Well, I had to get some of the key ingredients myself from the local supermarket; B&W pudding and beans.  No Irish breakfast is complete without these.

The sad thing about Irish breakfast is that it is devoured way to quick, considering the amount if time it takes to prepare the meal.  We had cleaned our plates within 10 minutes, and the dogs were begging for scraps.

Father’s Day is by tradition a celebration for all us awesome dads; living and past.  This day also reminds of me late father, who passed away all too soon five years ago.  I can’t believe time has gone so fast and I miss him dearly.

There are so many things that I wanted to experience with him, showing him our new life in the US, and play with his grandkids.  I know he’s watching over us from above, and my youngest daughter has said she wants to meet Farfar in person – she claims to have spoken with him in her dreams.  The scary thought is, she never met him.  He passed away two weeks after she was born!

Let’s celebrate our fathers, living and past.  Happy Father’s Day.

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Proud

Honestly, I’ve always cringed by the thought of having to watch a bunch of kids perform music or choir at my kids’ schools.  My internal fear is that they are completely out of tune and parents that proudly spring into action when their kid has a 2 second solo, or walks on stage.

Parents starts screaming proudly, probably embarrassing their kids even more, while pushing each other away from the isles just to tape these few moments on their high def cameras – and posting these recordings on Facebook or Instagram, for the entire World to see how amazing their kids were.

Now it’s my turn, as my daughter was preparing for her big moment on stage.

She had been working hard on the sax, honking away upstairs at all hours of the day, much to the nuisance of the local wild life.

Amazingly, I notice a significant improvement in her talent for the past few weeks, and may even may some resemblance to the late John Coltrane.  She was really turning a page in her talent.

daughter_concertFinally the evening of the big event had arrived, and the family traveled to the local school to watch her band perform.  It was a school event so most parents and kids were there, and plenty of excited kids.

As soon as we had dropped her off for band rehearsal / warm-up, I rushed to buy some flowers for my little artist.  I had to push aside a few fellow parents, and bought the last bunch for my special sax player.

We found our seats, a few rows from the stage, and had the cameras ready; taking pictures of an empty stage, the proud teachers, ceiling, decorations … anything that might resemble the event.

Suddenly the kids walked on stage.  First up the orchestra, then band (my daughter) and then chorus.  A tightly packed program was ahead … and I was dreading it.

BUT BUT BUT these kids blew me away.  I was expecting sounds from horror movies, pulling cat tails and stepping on ducks.  These kids played extremely well, and in tune and harmony.

The band came on stage and I was up there diving over parents, knocking over kids, just to get pictures of my little girl on stage.  She was so proud, and smiled from ear-to-ear.

They played four tunes and did excellent.  Again, the band played together as one, and I was utterly amazed.

Even the choir did a phenomenal job, and sang very well.

Well done to all the kids and I’m one proud dad who will go to their next gig!

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Paying Forward

It’s not every day that you manage to emotionally affect people while grocery shopping.

zombiesThese outings are mainly people walking like drones around the supermarket, surveying food, pondering on expiration dates and diving into ‘super sale’ basket to find the best deals.  There’s very little interaction with any fellow shoppers unless you accidentally knock into their trolley or run over their feet.

As you get to the check-out area shoppers queue up quietly, mostly waiting patiently for the the assistant to work their way through the conveyor belt – it’s a first world problem.

The other day while I was picking up a few items at the local ShopRite I had a wonderful experience.  I know it sounds bizarre, as ShopRite is just a supermarket, but it was truly a magical moment.

I joined the shortest line and waited for my turn.  I’m a law-abiding shopper and waited patiently while the customer in front was packing up.

Suddenly the guy, who had picked out a few items (no more than 7-10 items) for the Memorial Day weekend, was looking frantically at the check-out assistant.  The look in his eyes were off and I could tell he was short on funds.  I offered to covered the difference, assuming it was $1-2, but he kindly declined and removed items instead.

Next I saw him leave the check-out with-out his groceries, and I asked the assistant if he was ok.  He was not ok.

According to the shop assistant he had been in an accident months ago and was only now finding his feet.  He needed a few items to carry him through Memorial Day weekend, but didn’t have enough on his foot-stamp card.

I asked how much and was amazed when it was only $13.55.

boehnersobbingWithout hesitating, I told her I would pay for his groceries if someone could get him back to pick them up.  It was an older assistant and she was getting emotional for my kind gesture and asked if I knew the man, to which I answered no.

Everybody hits a low in their life, and it’s important that we help each other to move forward“.  At that point a small tear was forming in her eyes and the customer in front of me was also getting emotional.

Honestly, it felt normal to me to help a fellow man.

The man came back with a rather puzzled expression on his face and was humbled by my gesture.  At first he refused to take groceries, but I told him they had been paid and he couldn’t return them – it was my gift to him I said.

He left the shop with a new sense of hope.  That was evident from his posture and spring in he walk.  He was happy and relieved.

As I gather my groceries and started to walk out, the cashier smiled and thanked me.  She had not witnessed such a gesture in a long time and it made her month.

I walked outside and was greeted by the same man who had just received my grocery gift.

He wanted to shake the hand of the man who had given him the best Memorial Day weekend in over a year.  It was men like me that made the World special, and who made him proud to be an American.  He was ever so grateful for my gesture.  I told him to enjoy the weekend, and he hugged me.

The man had been in a bad accident 11 months ago and only just gotten a new job two weeks ago. He had not received his first pay check yet and was still on food stamp card, which was running very low.  Hospital bills had taken everything he had.

To say the least, he was extremely emotional about my help, and was close to tears.

As I sat into my car, I was suddenly filled with emotions.  It was a strange and wonderful experience, and I realized what I had just done.

pay-it-forwardWOW!  It was such an amazing feeling.  Helping a stranger or someone you know, with small gestures, will go such a long way.  The feelings you will experience afterwards are so rewarding, and I can only encourage you to pay it forward.

Little act of kindness goes a long way and touches people that needs help.  It’s only money and doesn’t have to be millions to make people happy.

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Nowhere Near-Death Experince

Backyard BBQ 2The joys of being a house owner comes hundred fold when sitting on the back porch smelling the BBQ aroma of frying meats and having a glass of home (almost) brewed moonshine. All while the kids are playing yard games, wife is standing in the sunbeams gloving of utter gorgeousness and Mumford & Sons‘ tunes are streaming from the bluetooth speaker.  Weather is of course fantastic, warm, but not flesh scorching.

To be absolutely honest, being a home owner can certainly suck at times.  There’s always something that has to be fixed and staff in the local Home Depot are becoming your only social life.  Water leakage, door handles sticking, shower head breaking off, toilet clogged due to excessive toilet paper usage by 5-year-old, shower door dropping off ledge and not to forget the outdoor areas.

You know you are in trouble socially when Home Depot staff are befriending you on Facebook, and greeting you at the local ShopRite.

The latter can be an adventure, especially if you own a small forest like we do.  We never know what we might find and if it is from an unsolved crime scene.

A few days ago I decided to put on my responsible house owner and father hats on, and do some manly stuff around the house – literally around the house, as I needed to cut the grass, blow some leaves, pull some weeds and pick up dog poop.

Two dogs equals a large amount of natural fertilizer kids step in!

The cool thing about this was that I got to play with all my man toys; lawn mower, weed wacker and backpack blower … all my favorite power tools that makes me feel masculine.

sweatingThis was the first time I was attempting to cut our lawn, and something that had not been done since last fall, when the previous owner vacated the premises.  It had grown a little wild to say the least, to a point where I had to empty the grass cutting collector after 2-3 runs.  The grass for thick and moist, blocking the flow at times, and it was physical labor my body was not use to, and I was sweating profoundly.

Suffering from acute dehydration, I knew I had to stay hydrated and emptied a few gallons of cold water, but it was still very hot out.

After my lawn adventures, I moved on to weed trimming, followed by clearing leaves and grass cuttings with my power backpack blower.

It was an awesome 3 hours of solid work, enjoying the great outdoors, and I was proud of my achievements as I sat on my deck look (and smelling) the newly cut lawn.

However, something was slightly off.  My body was tingling and I was a little dizzy.  It was a very strange feeling and something I haven’t felt since Shaun T hammered my body to smithereens.  Not a very pleasant feeling.

But, I got a deserved shower and we headed off for dinner out with the family.  Thankfully my wife insisted on driving and as we went on driving my poor body started to show further signs of exhaustion.

heatstrokeIt was probably a combination of exhaustion, dehydration and lack of food that caused my body to react this way.  Or, just the fact that I’m getting older and perhaps this was a near-death experience.  I was seeking comfort in my family, but at the same time attempting to hold up a strong appearance for my kids.  Dad is doing just fine!!

Knowing my body fairly well, which I should after 40+ years, I simply needed to replenish my batteries.  What better way than eating spicy Mexican food, flushing it down with full blown non-diet Coke?

Gradually my body was recovering, although it took much longer than anticipated and I have come to the realization that I’m not a a young man anymore.  It was pretty obvious that I had a nowhere near-death experience.  Any man in my age would suffer from 3 hours of heavy gardening work, despite a good friend of mine completed the Spartan Race as #10 in his (our) age group, which is a lot more demanding than gardening.

Gotta go!  Shaun T is calling me on my cell!

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