28 March 2011

iPad Wishes and Hassenpfeffer Dreams

Earlier this month, I posted in honor of my father's birthday. Since then, both my father-in-law's birthday and my own have passed. My father-in-law would have been 78 last Thursday, but sadly he left us two years ago after a very long battle with prostate cancer. His presence in my life was both a joy and a blessing because he was far more father to me than "in-law," and I miss him easily as much as I miss my own father. Louis was a very generous and giving man, always looking out for his kids and pretty much everyone else as well. He was the kind of man who would give you the shirt off of his own back and then ask if you were warm enough while he stood beside you shivering. Near the end of my own father's life, Louis was there to help assuage his fears of dying and point him on the path of peace, for which I will be eternally grateful.

Christmas, 2003

Louis left us quite an example to which we should aspire, as well as sufficient funds to pay for my daughter's college tuition--though I'd have rather have him here to see her graduate. I also inherited his beloved dog Lady, who appears to be an strange mix of Rottweiler and possibly bassett hound. She is an odd little creature, but I adore her. After his wife passed away in 2005, Louis got the 0ne-year-old Lady as a rescue dog. I don't know what had happened to the poor thing in her previous life, but I sometimes wonder if she had been abused a little because she twitches and shrinks away from almost every unexpected sound, no matter how small. She is the jumpiest dog I have ever known, though she has settled somewhat in the two years we've had her. In spite of this, she is also easily the sweetest and cuddliest dog I have ever known, wanting nothing more than to snuggle up next to her people, preferably on the couch or bed (she thinks she deserves diva comforts). Because Louis was lonely after his wife died, he spoiled Lady rotten. She became literally a lap dog, often sprawling across him in his recliner, as though a 40-50 lb dog could really be called a "lap" dog. Fortunately, through a doggy diet, she is now a much trimmer 35 lbs, which puts far less strain on her hip dysplasia. Lady also slept with Louis. It's been difficult trying to untrain all her bad habits while teaching her new ones, but I am slowly making progress. At first, I thought she wasn't very bright because she seemed oblivious to everything I tried to teach her. And while I doubt she'll ever be the brightest crayon in the box, she is definitely smarter than I originally thought, or at the very least much sneakier, like when she waits till we fall asleep and then climbs off the bed to curl up on the couch, where she's not allowed. Devious dog, Lady.

Lady suns her buns on the deck.

I tell you this because Lady gave me a very unexpected present on my own birthday, which was on March 17th. I always loved having a St. Patrick's Day birthday, because it was on a "special" day rather than some other boring, run-of-the-mill day. I got to dress up in green (which goes great with red hair, btw) and parade about like the Irish princess I pretended to be. The only downside to having a St. Patty's birthday was that in school my sadistic classmates wouldn't settle for spanking me the number of years old I was at the time, but would instead both spank and pinch me the correct number of years in spite of the fact that I annually wore green from the skin out in an attempt to stave off their onslaughts. It never worked, though, and I have vivid memories of backing into corners all day long so that my posterior could neither be pinched nor spanked, during which my classmates enthusiastically tried to yank me out of said corners.

St. Patrick's Day is better with a springy shamrock headband.

But I digress. Anyway, very early on the morning of the 17th I was preparing for bed and so let out Lady for one last pit stop as is our custom. Normally Lady is so ready to jump into bed with me (having already given me the hairy eyeball for two hours for delaying her bedtime) that I'm convinced her feet barely touch the ground before she has done her business and vaulted back up the deck stairs, ready for her treat and her cushy position curled up between my legs in the bed. On my birthday, however, she did not come back in as quickly as normal, so I just figured she had more "business" to do and proceeded to put a load of laundry into the dryer while I waited. Why I can't be that productive in daylight hours, I'll never know. Anyway, I finished that, looked on the deck, and still didn't see the dog. Weird. I didn't think much of it, and so went on to empty the dishwasher while I waited, after which Lady still wasn't waiting impatiently by the door. Odd. I opened the door and called her name, which usually brings her running whether she's finished going or not, even if there are other dogs around outside the fence (though that usually makes her have to think twice about whether or not she wants to obey me). But she didn't come running, nor did I hear the tell-tale jingle of her dog tags as I usually do. So I called again. Still nothing but silence. I went out on the deck in my PJs, barefoot, and called her again. Still nothing. Maybe she was sick. I walked across the deck and finally saw her near the steps, all hunched over like she was indeed ill. I called her again, and she looked up, but kept slinking around like she was in trouble or still ill. She was acting very strangely. She kept hunched over, and refused to come to me. I finally grabbed a pair of shoes and went out into the yard where I found her lying next to what appeared to be a dead rabbit. Well, okay, that was unexpected. So I called her again, and it rapidly became clear that she did not want to go. Eventually I got her to head to the stairs, though she kept looking back to the bunny and trying to sneak around behind me. I pretty much had to block the stairs so she couldn't go back down and eventually managed to get her back in the house without actually dragging her by the collar.

Innocence incarnate.

Once inside, I noticed that she had a disturbing smear on her forehead. I got a wet paper towel and proceeded to clean it off. The paper towel came away red. Ewwwwww! I was so hoping that she was merely keeping the bunny company. Sigh. I cleaned off the rest of her face, as well as her paws--just in case. I think most of what was on her paws was just mud, but as the clay here is also red, there's just no telling and I much prefer it that way. Lady continued to slink around the kitchen, knowing I was displeased with the morning's turn of events while trying to evade having her feet washed. After Lady was cleaned up, I decided to go outside with a flashlight to make sure the bunny was really dead and not just injured. BIG mistake. The bunny was indeed dead, or so I assume given the gaping hole in its side from which poured disgusting squiggly gut-like things. Needless to say, I beat a hasty retreat back inside. Good morning and Happy Birthday to me.

The Killer Bunny of Caerbannog

I will probably never know what actually happened outside. It seems unlikely that some random bunny would be crossing our yard and then drop dead of a stroke or heart attack or something and be found by Lady, the world's most passive dog. But if she'd actually chased it down and savaged it, wouldn't I have heard her running around or barking or scuffling? Even with the water running in the sink and starting the dryer? It's a mystery. All I know is that my sweet, passive, cowardly rescue dog has now turned out to be the Backyard Bunny Ninja. I guess I need to make her a cape and build her a phone booth for these instant transformations. I finally got to bed around 3-3:30 am after all the excitement (though it took over an hour to dispel the image of bunny guts and get to sleep), but not before leaving my hubs a lengthy note exhorting him NOT to let the dog out until after he had performed disposal service on the bunny's remains. I don't do corpses. Especially not on my freakin' birthday. And, sure enough, the second he let her out Lady rocketed directly to the sight of Bunnygeddon to look for her lost plunder. Too bad, so sad, Lady!

Lady should be glad the bunny didn't bite back.

By comparison, the rest of my birthday was relatively sedate. I assiduously avoided doing chores or anything else productive for the day, instead choosing to relax and enjoy the day. I already had one present, given to me by my daughter when she was home for break. Ironically, she bought me the book on which the movie "King's Speech" was based, only to discover that I'd purchased a copy for myself a week earlier. She was only slightly bummed, though, because she wanted a copy for herself anyway and now has one. Not that we ever think alike, or anything. By contrast, my husband informed me earlier in the week that he was going to be "spending a lot more money on my present than he'd expected." Okaaaaay. What does one do with that, really? Is that meant to get me all excited because he's spent so much on me, or insult me because "OMG, I've spent SO MUCH on you!!" as though somehow I'm not worth it? Either way, it's an awkward way of doing things. You've gotta love Aspie boys; they try so hard but just never quite get there, do they? The funny part is that he does stuff like that all. the. time. and then is terribly disappointed when I always know what I'm getting, in spite of the fact that he's basically told me in giant, neon letters. Well, I guess he thinks he's being cagey. LOL. Anyway, after this blurted pronouncement, my first and immediate thought was iPAD!!!!!!!!!!!!! because my daughter and I had just been discussing them the week before after seeing the big, long line full of people waiting for the iPad 2 wrapping around the Mall of Georgia's Apple store when we went to get her phone fixed. To be fair, I have been interested in getting an iPad. Initially I thought they were little more than glorified iTouches, and wasn't particularly impressed. After becoming addicted to my iPhone, however, and after playing with my brother-in-law's iPad, I started to think they would be really handy when traveling, since most of what I do on the road is check email, play on Facebook, and surf the 'net. I even considered saving up for a first generation iPad since they went on sale for $100 off the second the new ones came out, but eventually decided I'd rather wait and get the newer one, which had a processor that was 8 times faster and had dual cameras built in like the iPhone 4, so I could actually Skype the girl child on it.

Nerd toys rock.

Of course, after telling me that he was spending "so much money" on me and making me suspect an iPad, I did ultimately wonder what would happen when my birthday actually rolled around. As a result, when the doorbell rang that afternoon, I was rather surprised to receive a small arrangement of flowers. My first thought was that my hubby had sent them, which I instantly disregarded considering that in nearly 25 years of marriage, plus a year or so of dating before that, I can count on less than one hand the number of times he has actually sent me flowers from a real florist instead of just picking up whatever flowers were leftover at Kroger's or wherever 15 minutes before he arrived home from work on holidays such as Mother's Day or Valentine's Day. My next guess was that one of my sisters-in-law had sent them, since she did something similar for Thanksgiving last year. I got the vase into the kitchen and set it down so I could remove the card and solve the mystery. Unexpectedly, it was indeed from my husband, so score one for the hubs--he actually surprised me and that's very difficult to do, especially for him.

Birthday flowers.

The rest of the day passed quietly and peacefully with a merciful lack of bunny bits. Later in the afternoon the hubs asked if I wanted to go out to dinner. Well, duh--how long have you known me, Dude?? Since he works downtown, rather than have him come home and then go right back downtown, I drove over to meet him there. I wanted to go to my favorite restaurant in town, called (amusingly enough) The Last Resort. Normally the place is pretty packed, especially after 6 pm or so; however, not only was I able to find a decent parking spot (free!), we were seated immediately on the patio where we could enjoy the lovely temperate weather. Turns out the local university was on Spring Break, so the pace of downtown that week was decidedly more leisurely than normal. I had a lovely steak with mashed potatoes, grilled corn and a burgundy (?) reduction, topped off by a slice of the famous Cecilia's (a local baking goddess) raspberry cake. Yum!

Painting by our table. It's okay as far as art goes, but I don't think I would want
a unicorn's horn standing ready to pierce my goodies...

While at dinner, the hubby informed me that my gift had not yet arrived, because he'd only ordered it a day or two before (also par for the course, lol), so I probably wouldn't get it until Friday or Saturday. Friday passed with no special mail for me. The next day I was upstairs in my office when he came up with my gift (unwrapped) in hand, freshly retrieved from the mailbox. It was (drumroll, please) an iPad! Why, thanks, dear, however did you know? I must admit I was slightly disappointed that it wasn't one of the newer iPads, but mostly because I'd gotten myself all excited by the possibility of Skyping on it. Plus, with Apple being Apple, no doubt they'll be up to the iPad 6 in a couple of weeks. Besides, the lack of magic cameras (which I still have on my phone) didn't stop me from messing about with the thing all day Saturday instead of spending the day painting like I'd intended (not that I'm not always finding some new excuse or other to avoid painting the interminable shelves, mind you--like writing blog posts, for example). So I have now downloaded a few apps and have a nice long list of others to explore. I even bought a case for it this week so it wouldn't get so abused when I go visit the girl in NY next month. Best of all, the saleslady at the Mac store told me that my iMac's wireless keyboard could also be used with the iPad. Score!

Moshi, Moshi.

So, all in all, it was a good and very relaxing birthday for me this year, disturbing bunny ninjas notwithstanding. (And for those of you who are wondering, I celebrated the very appropriate 17th anniversary of my 29th birthday on March 17.) Now excuse me while I go put my new old iPad in its new case...

See? I used to be cute...

I haven't had anyone make me or buy me a birthday cake in 3 years now
(other than the slice I had with dinner at the restaurant), so I took
matters into my own hands this year and made my own "cake" out of a
slab of Kilwin's fudge. Hey--a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

03 March 2011

Macramé Flambé and Roving Outhouses

Like it or not, we are all the product of our parents' legacy in one way or another, and I am no different in this regard. Any innate sense of humor with which I was born was amply supplemented by my father's legacy to me of general silliness. Today would have been my father's 82nd birthday. He passed away 5 1/2 years ago from a metastatic melanoma. However, rather than negatively dwell on that loss, I thought I would instead honor his memory today by regaling you with some of the more "colorful" stories that he so thoughtfully provided throughout my childhood. Enjoy.

Basil Eugene LaRue, Jr., age 1
(No wonder he opted for silliness--how would you like to be saddled with a name like that?)

My father was born in Illinois, but grew up in Indiana. After a year of college (which he hated), he enlisted in the Navy, eventually serving in Korea--as a cook. When I was driving my father to his daily radiation treatments, he told me all sorts of stories I'd never before heard about how he took wild advantage of his position as one of the ship's cooks by sneaking down to the galley at all hours of the night to fix himself steak and eggs, just because he could. He also claimed to have stabbed some guy in the hand with a serving fork when he started getting grabby with the food or complaining about rations. Of course, knowing my dad, he was also probably exaggerating to make himself look more impressive. He also claimed to have taught my mother everything she knew about cooking, then leaving her to do it all on her own, because "she had to learn somehow."

Sailor Dad, age 20-ish
(Is it just me, or does he look like he walked right off the set of McHale's Navy?)

Most of the time when I was growing up my father worked the second shift so I didn't see him very often, but I loved the weekends because my mother would let me stay up late on Friday nights till he got home, which was considered a huge treat. Later, when he was working the third shift, he would stop by Long's bakery in Indianapolis and bring home donuts for us every Saturday morning. Those donuts were sheer bliss. Weekends were also the best because that's when we played silly games together. One of my favorites, which remains so to this day, was the improvisation of song lyrics, poems, etc. Long before I had any clue what a parody was, my father and I would sit around the kitchen counter making up new words to songs and ditties--the sillier the better. And if you were really good, you could improvise them instantaneously while you were singing without any breaks. I frequently employed this skill when my mother was watching her "stories" by standing in the doorway and re-imagining (loudly) the dialogue between all the soap opera characters, much to her annoyance. My father would just listen and laugh.

Dad was full of random songs. Every weekend with him was like being at a Girl Scout camp. We used to go camping every summer, first in a tent, then in a pop-up camper and graduating eventually to an actual trailer. One night I was sent to bed in our tent while just outside it, by the campfire, my father attempted to teach my brother one of his many goofy songs. My brother never learned it, but I remember every word to this day:

Standing on a corner, doin' a bit of harm,
Along came a policeman, and took me by the arm.
We went to the station, rang a little bell,
Along came the police patrol and took me off to jail.
I woke one early morning, looked upon the wall,
The cooties and the bedbugs was havin' a game of ball.
The score was nine to nothing, the cooties were ahead,
The bedbugs knocked a home run and knocked me out of bed.
I went down to breakfast, the toast was hard and stale,
The coffee tasted like tobacco juice beside the county jail.
The burgers tasted like horse meat, with the unconnected cheese,
The wienies did a flip-flop, and landed in the peas!

Modern camping FTW.

My father was an interesting mix of contradictions. Just when you'd think you had him pegged, he would do something completely unexpected, such as veering from his usual TV fare of Hee Haw and Rockford Files during my youth to shows like Discovery or Quantum Leap in his later years. To me this was just weird because he was not a very "science-y" sort of guy. He was a dyed-in-the-wool blue collar worker who believed in working hard and doing everything yourself rather than in wasting money to have someone else do it for you. He was a very hands-on sort of guy who loved nothing more than to "improve" his model train layouts or to tinker in the garage. He kept EVERYTHING in that garage: scrap wood, scrap metal, paint of every color, assorted screws and nails stored in baby food jars on a wooden wheel, tools, and pretty much anything else you can think of--it was like the Narnia of scrap crap.  I used to love going in there and creating random junk just like my father did; I remember once making him some sort of lopsided boat out of scrap wood when I was a kid, painting it first gray then pink, never ever recognizing the disturbing resemblance to the sub in Operation Petticoat, particularly given the irony that my father had once been a sailor.

"We all live on a rosy submarine, a rosy submarine, a rosy submarine..."

Easily my father's most bizarre and embarrassing creation (for us, anyway) had to do with his lawnmower. When I was a kid, my father loved to mow the yard. In fact, my brother was the only boy on the street who actually wanted to mow the yard, but who was not allowed to do so because my father so enjoyed whipping around the front yard on his riding mower like he was a competitor in the Indy 500. One summer when I was 10 or 12 or so, he decided that the one drawback to mowing was having the unrelenting sun bearing down on him while he tooled around the yard. So my father, being the "creative" sort (and I use this term very loosely), decided he would take some of his stash of scrap lumber and build a sun shelter. ON his riding mower. He couldn't just buy one of those dorky hats with the little umbrella on it, oh no--that would be wasting money on junk. So off he went into the garage, where he quickly constructed a three-sided structure made of plywood, which he then bolted around the seat of the riding mower. Next, he attached a roof to the structure. My father stepped back, eyed his work, and decided it just didn't look right unfinished, so he went back to the garage and found some leftover silver paint--Rustoleum, no less (because rusting lumber has always been such a pervasive concern?)--and started slapping it on his structure. I suppose he chose silver because that's what he had the most of at the time, but it didn't really go with the yellow and black mower, which looked (and sounded) like a giant bumblebee.

After the silver paint had dried, my father decided his invention was still too plain, so he returned to Garageland and dug out some black paint (also Rustoleum--must be consistent, after all) and proceeded to outline each wood panel in black. Once again, Dad stepped back to view his handiwork, only to realize that his labor of love reminded him of something. He finally realized what it was, then ran off to procure a jig saw, after which he promptly cut out a half-moon on each side of the structure, outlining them in black as well. Oh, yes--my dear father had just invented the world's first Traveling Outhouse.

There are no words to describe how proud we were of Dad's accomplishment.*

While I'm sure you can all visualize how my older brother and I must have felt about having what amounted to a toilet driving around in our front yard, imagine if you will a car driving down the road one day while the outhouse was on the move. Now imagine that car stopping a quarter mile down the road, brakes squealing. And backing up. To your yard. And stopping. Then pulling into your driveway. Two men got out, chatted with my father for a while, then snapped pictures before finally leaving. When the photo came out in the local paper a week later, horror doesn't even begin to describe our feelings on the matter. My father, on the other hand, was delighted to have his invention recognized--so much so, in fact, that he took one of the pictures to work and had it published in the newsletter there as well. Of course the ultimate irony is that in building his sun shelter to protect himself from the heat, Dad ultimately made himself a good ten+ degrees hotter by essentially sealing himself off in a 3-sided coffin with virtually no airflow.

At least the other newspaper knew how to spell "traveling." Sigh.

While probably no single other creation topped the impact of this particular invention, that never stopped my father from continuing to putter every weekend in the garage. In fact, you had to give the man credit--he was one of the first true recyclers. Eventually he dismantled the outhouse, repainted it brown and made it into a doghouse of sorts for our fox terrier, complete with a hinged lid (in case she refused to come out the door hole) and a big yellow wooden star on the side in homage to her incredibly original name: Star. After the dog died years later Dad boarded up the entry hole, took the lime green legs off of an old table and screwed them into the bottom of the doghouse, thus creating a new laundry hamper for my mother, which she used very grudgingly to humor him. After she tired of it, he removed the legs and cut it down to make a case for one of his rifles. When he got rid of the rifle, he cut the box down yet again, making it into a storage case for some of his other gun supplies. I never understood his fascination with guns; to my knowledge, he never shot any of the ones he had. Meanwhile, his one-time outhouse must have been Buddhist or Hindu considering it was reincarnated no fewer than five times.

The problem with my father as a handyman (outhouse notwithstanding) was that his skill did not always match up to his vision. At the end of the day, most of his creations and repairs were functional, but that's about all you could say for them. When I was a teenager, he attempted to replace the broken faucet in our kitchen sink with a swanky new Delta faucet. After two or three failed attempts to hook it up correctly, he became impatient (as he often did) and completed the repair in the one and only way in which he could get it to work: backwards. For years after I left home, I was incapable of accurately working one of those stupid faucets because I'd grown up using one in reverse. Similarly, my father once attempted to replace a turn signal indicator in an old Ford LTD that we had because it was unthinkable that one would take one's car to an actual mechanic. As with the faucet, Dad struggled to hook the signal up correctly and, as with the faucet, his frustration and impatience again led to his cutting corners till he eventually got the thing working--backwards. Again. To Dad repairing something correctly was never an issue; to him, "functioning" equaled "correct" so if he could get it working, he considered his job done and left us to deal with any and all fallout from his jury-rigged repairs. The turn signal indicator in the Ford ended up on the right side of the steering wheel towards the bottom of the column, so you had to push the lever up to turn left and down to turn right. I drove that car the last two years of high school with the turn signal indicator upside down. Inevitably, everyone who ever asked for a ride looked strangely at the signal box (and me) as a result.

That was just my dad...he made stuff that worked, stuff that was functional, but rarely anything that was particularly pretty. His work always tended to look home-made and, well, it was. Each and every home he ever owned was filled with a plethora of random shelves and organizational devices for anything and everything from pens and pencils to TV remotes and eyeglasses (and no doubt a kitchen sink or two), most of which were slightly lopsided (but always functional) in construction. It was just one of his quirks, not unlike his lopsided smile or lopsided sense of humor. 

Everything with him was a production, whether he was constructing something out of scrap wood, preparing to take us to the drive-in for the night, or sitting around playing with his lighter. Next to my mother's quintessentially '70s macrame plant hanger. Made of hemp. Needless to say, his attempts to entertain us with stupid lighter tricks took on a whole new flavor when he got his lighter a little too close to the plant hanger and set the ubiquitous tassel instantly ablaze. Eyes agog in shock, my father sat there stunned for a moment, then jumped up and rushed to the kitchen to retrieve the fire extinguisher. In his panic, however, he could not remember how to release the latch holding the extinguisher onto its wall mount and ended up ripping the whole thing out of the wall. He ran into the living room with the extinguisher (wall mount flapping uselessly), where the flaming macrame was busy singeing the curtains and the drywall.  He eventually managed to rip out the red pull tab around the wall mount and started wildly spraying CO2 all over the room, as though the extinguisher were an unmanned fire hose, somehow finally managing in his panic to land enough of the mix on the actual macrame hanger to smother the flames.

Unsuspecting Deathtrap

Afterwards we spent hours removing CO2 from every surface, crack and crevice in the living room, washing the drapes to purge them of hemp-scented smoke (no midnight toking for us), and shoveling up the dirt that had spilled onto the floor from the planter when the macrame gave way--only to discover scorched beads underneath and a giant J-shaped scar seared into the carpet from a strand of burning plant hanger. In true dad-style, my father never apologized, never used the incident as an exhortation against the dangers of playing with fire (though I have no doubt that my mother told him as she so often did to me that "those who play with fire pee in bed" [WTF, Mom???]); rather, he behaved as though it had never happened or as though he had "meant to do that." Never confess, never admit anything. Maybe it was a holdover from his time in the military, like "don't ask, don't tell." I don't know.  But that man could commit to a mean nonchalance.

Mom and Dad at my wedding in 1986 (as if you couldn't tell from the glasses).

My dad was a little crazy (as am I), but I still miss him. I miss our flipping each other off while badly camouflaging it as merely pushing up our eyeglasses. I miss his telling me which classes not to take because they were "too hard" (for him), and then sneaking my report cards to work to brag about to the other guys when I took those classes anyway and aced them. I miss driving with him through towns to show him all the cool upscale houses, invariably rolling my eyes when he'd continuously gape at them only to say "It must be NICE to be RICH" ("rich" usually meaning "having anything more than I have"), later contradicting himself by telling me repeatedly that it was "just as easy to marry a rich man as a poor man." Apparently "rich" was bad unless I married it, in which case it was perfectly acceptable, presumably because he would no longer have to worry about supporting me in my inevitable spinsterhood.

Dad liked to pretend he was some big, gruff bad-ass (not unlike Red Forman from "That '70s Show"), but deep down he was really a lot closer to the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, especially as he got older. He let my daughter ride around on his back, he'd play silly games with her just as he had with me, and I'm pretty sure he even taught her some of his goofy songs as well. If you were to ask her a few years ago "who is the silliest person in your family?" she'd always say "PaPa, of course!" with my husband's father, "Granddaddy" (who was also born in March and who is also now gone), a close second.

Mom and Stay-Puft goofing on their 50th Anniversary

While I might not have seen my dad as often as I'd have liked when I was a kid, time with him was rarely dull, whether he was attempting to set our house ablaze, building bizarre contraptions like toilets on wheels, hanging out just watching baseball, or teaching me foolish songs while unintentionally honing my wit. I am eternally grateful for his gift of silliness and for teaching me not to take life too seriously (most of the time, at least), and I am proud to share a birthday month with him. He may have been a little crazy, a big smart-ass, and a consummate goofball, but I wouldn't have had him any other way.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

*At least not any that are actually clean.