No Speedo. No problem.

Blog #2 of 2 (I’m keeping it simple…its Wednesday for Heaven’s sake).

Our second port of call on our seven day cruise of the Caribbean was in Jamaica.  Again…stunningly beautiful sights.

Jamaica from our ship Oasis of the Sea's.

Jamaica from our ship Oasis of the Sea’s.

 

We walked around the port which was FILLED with shops that sold high-end, duty-free jewelry and liquor…and lot’s and lot’s of Bob Marley related merchandise, wood cravings and other touristy stuff.  Dave sampled the rum and coffee while I people watched.

"Hey buddy...you hot?"  I wonder if this is what folks do when they're hot, from where he hails from...?"

“Hey buddy…you hot?” I wonder if this is what folks do when they’re hot, from where he hails from…?”

Nothing says this is a "Jamaican Paradise" like Dairy Queen and Quizno's.

Nothing says this is a “Jamaican Paradise” like Dairy Queen and Quizno’s.

While at port in Jamaica the ladies refused to braid my hair.  It ruined my whole day.  I ROCK the CORNROWS!!

While at port in Jamaica the ladies refused to braid my hair. It ruined my whole day. I ROCK the CORNROWS!!

This was really, really good. I mean it.  Really good.

This was really, really good. I mean it. Really good.

Our last port of call was Cozumel Mexico where we had bought an excursion to visit a Mayan ruin via a MONSTER JEEP with a picnic on a virgin beach where we could swim, just $149 per person.  Those that really know me are aware that I’m not very cultured but the idea of visiting an ANCIENT Mayan Pyramid plus a virgin beach was too cool to pass up.  As it turns out…they were regular Jeeps (no biggie), we drove them (again..no problem) along a sandy and rocky trail (it got real interesting at this point with one Jeep at the head of the caravan getting stuck for almost an hour).  AAA roadside assistance wasn’t coming to our rescue.

This was our view most of the time while driving to the Mayan ruin...with an occasional well-armed soldier poking his head out of the brush every ten or fifteen minutes.  Who knows why they were out there?

This was our view most of the time while driving to the Mayan ruin…with an occasional well-armed soldier poking his head out of the brush every ten or fifteen minutes. Who knows why they were out there?

Mayan ruin.  A look out.  I was thinking that we'd see Mayan pyramids...nope.  This was it.

Mayan ruin. A look out. I was thinking that we’d see Mayan pyramids…nope. This was it.  Still cool.  Its dated at 400 AD. 

We departed the Mayan look out (it faced the coast…keeping an eye out for pirates and such) and drove to our VIRGIN BEACH with picnic lunch!!

The "catering truck" for our picnic

The “catering truck” for our picnic

Pathway to our virgin beach picnic.  The scenery was beautiful.  The virgin never appeared.

Pathway to our virgin beach picnic. The scenery was beautiful. The virgin never appeared.

We were all given blankets and umbrella's to share until our meal was ready.  That rain in the horizon....yeah...we got that.

We were all given blankets and umbrella’s to share until our meal was ready. That rain in the horizon….yeah…we got that.

I find it humorous that in a Spanish speaking country this sign is only in English...as in "only the Americans would be dumb enough to swim with this kind of rough surf."

I found it humorous that in a Spanish speaking country this sign is only in English…as in “only the Americans would be dumb enough to swim with this kind of rough surf.”

Me pointing towards America...I think...maybe it was Cuba.  Regardless, the water was warm and wonderful as long as you didn't go deeper than your knees.

Me pointing towards America…I think…maybe it was Cuba. Regardless, the water was warm and wonderful as long as you didn’t go deeper than your knees.  The riptide was very strong, the shoreline dropped off quickly.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful but I passed on the picnic.  The meat used for the grill was stored in old, nasty looking buckets, they were touching the food with their hands (with no sinks, gloves or anything to wash their hands) and the only thing iced down were the beverages.  Maybe this is what passes in Mexico for a picnic, but for me…I could envision a night of intestinal issues back on the ship if I ate this meal.  Dave ate it, thoroughly enjoyed it and didn’t have any problems.

This is Dave.  He fell asleep waiting for lunch.  I didn't have the heart to wake him up about the hermit crab that took up temporary shelter inside his shorts.  Sadly...it left prior to nappy boy waking up.  It would've been a terrific blog...

This is Dave. He fell asleep waiting for lunch. I didn’t have the heart to wake him up about the hermit crab that took up temporary shelter inside his shorts. Sadly…it left prior to nappy boy waking up. It would’ve been a terrific blog.

We made it back to our ship just fine, via a required stop at a “tequila ranch” where they tried to sell us tequila and souvenirs.  While the younger folks in our excursion raved about how much fun this was I felt like what was advertised and what was delivered were two different things.  It was my fault for not investigating more thoroughly before purchasing it.  Its quite a trip to get to the Mayan pyramids is what I was told…like two days of hiking.  Who knew?

The view along our way to the Mayan ruin.

The view along our way to the Mayan ruin.  Hard to beat this view on a Wednesday!

The food on the cruise varied anywhere from good to excellent.  Two examples follow.

Seafood Ceviche.  Shrimp. bay scallops, lime-marinated lobster, red onions, cucumbers, dill & cilantro.  One of my favorite appetizers.

Seafood Ceviche. Shrimp. bay scallops, lime-marinated lobster, red onions, cucumbers, dill & cilantro. One of my favorite appetizers.

Pork Scaloppine Oscar.  Crab meat, fresh asparagus, grill plum tomato and mashed potatoes with a veal reduction.

Pork Scaloppine Oscar. Crab meat, fresh asparagus, grill plum tomato and mashed potatoes with a veal reduction.

I have no conscience while on vacation...but this was probably meant for someone other than Dave or myself.

I have no conscience while on vacation…but this was probably meant for someone other than Dave or myself because this is HOW WE ROLL BABY!!

Dave's impressed.  He only gets this look in his eyes like only...every five years or so.  Its best to just let him finish.

Dave’s impressed. He only gets this look in his eyes…every five years or so. Its best to just let him finish.

Sadly...all seven of my Speedo's were confiscated by the TSA.  The "incident" at Disney World in 2005 continues to haunt me. This dude ROCKS it old school.

Sadly…all seven of my Speedo’s were confiscated by the TSA. The “incident” at Disney World in 2005 continues to haunt me. This dude ROCKS it old school.

I've seen thousands of sunsets from my beloved home state of Iowa.  These were equally beautiful.

I’ve seen thousands of sunsets from my beloved home state of Iowa. These were equally beautiful.

The cruise had plenty of shows and activities to keep us occupied.  Dave especially enjoyed the Broadway style shows, while I usually passed and just walked around the ship or retired for the night.  One of the great things of having such a good friend (of 30+ years) is that we were fine with splitting off from each other and doing our own thing.  I enjoyed shooting baskets at the basketball court then grabbing an ice old beer then swimming while Dave did his thing.  We didn’t need to be joined at the hip to enjoy the cruise.  Folks may think that without our wives along to chaperone us that we’d get crazy and stay out late.  The majority of the time we were in our room before eleven each night.  Did we drink a little too much a couple of times?  Hell yeah…we’re not DEAD!!  But nothing that a little nap and Tylenol couldn’t take care of.  This cruise was a very self-centered extravagance for me.  I doubt that I’ll ever cruise again, but I’m glad that we went.  It was wonderful, except that I really missed Connie.  After I returned home I wouldn’t leave her alone for two days.  She had to grab a stick and whack me with it shouting “DOWN BOY!!” until I got the message.  (true story…I’ll show you the welts later…)

Do you remember all of those baseball and basketball games that I blab about?  Those games paid for this trip.  All of the times that I’ve hustled up and down a court, getting into position?  All of those times that I’ve stood on a hot and windy baseball field in the late day sun with sweat trickling down my back?  THOSE paid for this trip.  I can’t say that I earned this trip…but it was a real nice deal.

Yours truly...looking out from the Mayan look out.

Yours truly…looking out from the Mayan look out.

Its great to be home.  Good to be back at work (I need routine) and I hope that you’ve enjoyed these last two blogs.  As alwaysGod bless and take care!

R

 

Two words…ROAD TRIP!!!!

I called my long time best friend last fall and ran the idea of just the two of us getting away for a vacation.  We were turning fifty and had been best friends for over three decades so why not get away?  Our wives were for it, I turned the planning over to Dave and BAM!!  We had a seven day Caribbean cruise booked for early April.  We were both pumped about the idea and couldn’t wait for it to get here.  We departed Iowa on a unseasonably cold April Friday amongst snow showers, flying to sunny and warm Fort Lauderdale Florida.  Man…what a trip.  Our flights went smoothly.  Time flies (no pun intended) when you’re 30,000 feet in the air, drinking beer and swapping lies and memories with your best friend.

We touched down in Fort Lauderdale at eleven at night, picked up our luggage and made our way to the hotel shuttle…with a warm and balmy breeze slowly thawing our middle-aged frozen Midwest bones.  Life is good.  God is great.

I’ve never taken a cruise before.  We were on Royal Caribbean’s goliath ship Oasis of the Sea’s…weighing in at 255,000 tons and longer than the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier (but half as lethal…).  It.  Is.  Massive.

Oasis of the Sea's (on the left) compared to another cruise ship.

Oasis of the Sea’s (on the left) compared to another cruise ship.

It has a machine that makes 4000 rolls an hour (I couldn’t keep up with it but I tried!!).  The pool for its diving show is 17.9′ deep…making it the deepest pool on any cruise ship.  It takes five million gallons of water to fill its multiple pools.  It manufacturers 110,000 pounds of ice…A DAY (that’s a lot of daiquiris and pina colada’s).  There’s 3,300 miles of electrical cable throughout the ship.  There are 186 bartenders, many of whom I grew very fond of.  There’s Dean, Jose, Ariel, Nikoletta, Dean II, Sampson, Mister Blurry, Misses Blurry & “That GUY!!”…all wonderful, hardworking, patient and professional.

We boarded and quickly started taking photos and enjoying the ship, even while in port.

Leaving Fort Lauderdale port on 4/9/2016

Leaving Fort Lauderdale port on 4/9/2016

The locals caught wind of me being in town that day and decided to commemorate my appearance (if even on a passing cruise ship…) by getting hitched (some people!!)

I don't know who was happier...the newly weds or me?

I don’t know who was happier…the newly weds or me?

Even the mayor of Fort Lauderdale turned out to see me off….

Your Honor....

Your Honor….

Our state room

IMG_0664

Saturday and Sunday were spent cruising towards our first stop, Labadee Haiti.  The morning dawned just as a storm was moving out, making it the best sunrise of the cruise.

Just off the coast of Haiti.  Stunningly beautiful.

Just off the coast of Haiti. Stunningly beautiful.

Wonderful.  Absolutely wonderful.  Warm and balmy, no allergies, no jackets.  Blessed

Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. Warm and balmy, no allergies, no jackets. Blessed

Once docked we meandered towards the shuttle that would take us to a Royal Caribbean owned, stocked and staffed beach.

 

 

IMG_0705

The wagon loads of food and drink that is brought to the beaches for us.

The wagon loads of food and drink that is brought to the beaches for us.

Ribs, BBQ chicken, salad, fresh fruit & desserts....we ate like Kings...very fat Kings.

Ribs, BBQ chicken, salad, fresh fruit & desserts….we ate like Kings…very fat Kings.

The beach was clean.  The water…warm and salty.  The sky…blue.  Bugs?  Nonexistent.  The only issue…they had computer issues at the beverage hut so they couldn’t sell or serve alcohol for around 45 minutes.  Apparently even Paradise has IT issues from time to time.

Suns out  Guns out.

Suns out Guns out.

Realism is just around the corner.  This high wall topped with razor wire was a stark reminder of what lies behind it…kept from our view.

I was never adventurous enough to leave our pleasant confines and wander through unprotected areas.

I was never adventurous enough to leave our pleasant confines and wander through unprotected areas.

The cruise was an international affair.  I rode a shuttle with some Israeli kids, just about died in a Jeep with an Alabaman driving like a bat out of hell, ate supper with a couple of ladies from Thailand (who thought Dave looked like John Travolta…and they weren’t drinking….), soaked up some rays with some Jordanians and broke bread with Jorge and Fariba from Miami.  I love listening to their stories.  Like the room attendant who’s saving up his money to buy property in his country then build an apartment building and become a landlord, or our room attendant who’s been working for the cruise line for ten years.  Those folks working on the ship work eight months (seven days a week) then get two months off.  It’s hard work, they earn their keep and they’re doing a wonderful job of it.

Here I am assisting a lady at the pool with proper form….or so it would seem.

Sight gag #2

Sight gag #2

One little thing bothered Dave and I on the cruise…and that was perhaps the perception that we were a “couple” and not a couple of married men with wives and kids at home or in college.  About the only time it surfaced was when the cruise photographers (they’re everywhere) would ask us to pose together.  I get it.  They want to sell photo’s of couples who are celebrating an anniversary, or honeymoon or special evening, and its something that if we had, had our wives with us we would have taken advantage of as they’re good photos.  One evening, as Dave and I made our way to the main dining room in our Sunday best, one photographer wouldn’t take “no” as our answer to a posed photo.  After three forced poses of “back to back” now “face me with your hands in your pockets” with Dave and I grimacing for each one….I announced “…and now one in our action crime fighting pose!!”  Dave, not missing a beat, followed suit.  The photographer looked at us…paused, shrugged his shoulders and took the below photo.  Consequently…we were never asked to pose again the rest of the week.

KICKIN CRIMES ASS SINCE 1984

KICKIN CRIMES ASS SINCE 1984

….but this is how we really are…laid back besties.

The Tequila Kid and The Ripper

The Tequila Kid and The Ripper

Until next time…God bless and thanks for coming along!

R

 

 

 

 

Upon further review….there’s more to say

As I ended my last blog (an award-worthy presentation) I was headed towards a small junior high school twenty minutes out of town in the country for an 8th grade boys game.  I was a little melancholy about it as it was my last school basketball game to officiate of this season.  I’ll miss officiating, period.  It gives me something to look forward to.  I meet great people.  I meet new people.  I make new friends. I see great athleticism up close. (there’s a lot of “I” in this…) Its a challenge to get it right, to manage situations and people in an emotionally charged atmosphere.  I love it.

That days “A” game featured two schools who have blossomed into conference rivals and their 8th grade teams really got after each other, throwing elbows and charging into other players.  I called two player control fouls and one team control foul in the FIRST HALF!! (the three other basketball officials reading this blog just said “THAT’S INCREDIABLE!!” while the rest of you just glossed over that part with a shrug of your shoulders).  Long story, short.  Great game that went down to the last second.  I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

Do you know what’ll make you feel old and very mortal?  The answer…falling down.  Flat, on your side from a running position.  I did exactly that…at that game, try THAT sometime.  Tripped on my own size 11 feet while turning towards the new front court as the players were headed towards me….tripped and fell to the floor…at half court…in front of a hundred or so people.  I won’t lie (like I normally do…). It hurtIt took my breath away.  As I laid there I wondered if my officiating partner that day would see me down on the floor and blow the play dead then rush over to inquire as to my good health and equilibrium.   Nope.  THAT, ladies and gentlemen, will make you feel old.  I should have just laid there at half-court until SOMEONE…SOME CARING INDIVIDUAL exclaimed “DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN!!  THAT WONDERFUL AND ADORABLE REFEREE HAS FALLEN!!  DOESN’T ANYONE CARE?!?!” but no one did…so I gamely got up and wobbled down court. One of the teams took a time-out shortly thereafter, thank God. I took the ball to half-court where we’d inbound it….right where I’d fallen.  As I walked to that area a lady looked at me, patted the video camera in her lap and told me “I got it all on video for you…”  The folks around her chuckled and I had to as well.  I replied “If you submit that to America’s Funniest Home Videos and win I want 25% off the top” and she topped that with “I thought that you might need it for insurance!”  Needless to say…I was sore for the next few days….hip and ribs.  Feeling old and venerable, but adorable…that’s the way that I ended the 2015-16 season.  (I knew that you’d want to know….)

I’ll jot a few notes during the season about the games that I’ve worked.  I don’t use many of them, though here are a couple of my favorites.

  • One Friday night, during a heated rivalry, we were officiating in a packed gym.  No one liked our calls.  Not the coaches.  Not the players.  Not the adults.  Not the kids.  We were getting an earful from all quadrants, and some of it pretty nasty stuff.  As I walked with the ball towards the far sideline (I rarely look up into the bleachers to make eye-contact) I neared and in the middle of a bunch of raucous adults voicing their displeasure I made eye contact with a older lady with bright red hair (probably somewhere in her sixties) who was sitting there…quietly…with a little smile on her face looking back at me as the folks around her protested.  She was so calm and pleasant in those surroundings. I gave her a quick wink and smirk.  She returned the wink and grinned.  I thank God for reasonable people in the midst of the foolhardy.  Play on.
  • At one of the junior high games that I worked I ran into two teams that were totally the opposite of each other.  One knew how to play the game very well, the other did not.  The first half ended with the score 38-5.  I didn’t call fouls (they didn’t foul…they were that bad) or traveling, or double-dribble and the opposing coach could see what I was doing and was very good about it.  They were awful and not having fun, you could tell by their body language and expressions.  Time drags during games like that.  Each whistle stops the clock.  Everyone in the gym is silently pulling for the bad team to do ANYTHING a little better.  Even the good team would steal the ball then cross over into the front court and would then back it out waiting for the defense to catch up with them.  Eventually one of the girls on the bad team launched a 1950’s style shot from behind the three-point line.  It hit the rim hard, bounced high then kissed the backboard before coming back down and rattling around the rim before settling into the net.  The gym explodedLiterally EXPLODED.  A three-point basket!!  On their next possession the same player launched another three-point attempt and….nothing but net!!  SWISH!!!  The gym was going bananas!!  Players were jumping up off their benches!!  The bleachers were filled with folks high-fiving each other while others laughed openly wondering “what got into her?!” types of looks.  I stole a glance at the opposing coach as I ran down court, she was doubled over laughing.  I’m not sure what the final score was, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 60-15, but what will be remembered by practically everyone there were that players two back-to-back three-pointers, and the fun that they could now say that they had….playing in that game where sportsmanship prevailed. 

Many folks don’t have any idea just how much spandex basketball officials wear during games.  The answer is…A LOT.  I’m literally covered from my neck down to my knees in spandex, then knee braces, then two pairs of socks, one of which is a thirty dollar pair of compression socks….all covering a body lathered in Ben-Gay.  True story…we were getting ready to work a game when an older referee walked into the locker room.  He walked in, started saying something then abruptly stopped and exclaimed “WOW!!  SOMEBODY SMELLS GREAT IN HERE!!”  That…ladies and gentlemen…gets you noticed.  Ben-Gay.  Good for me.  Good for you.

Here’s something that’s kind of awkward.  For instance, the home school pays for the officials of that evening game(s).  Its roughly $90.  Most send you a check within a few weeks. I track whom I’ve been paid by and who hasn’t paid me.  As of yesterday’s mail I’m still owed by two schools, so on Monday…unless the checks arrive today…I’ll call those schools and ask if the checks have been issued.  It’s awkward at one school since the coach is the athletic director and it was his team that lost a hotly contested game on a shot that fell with a few seconds left to play.  “Umm…hi coach…remember me?  You planning on paying our crew for that nights double-header…?  Coach…?  Hello…?”

In conclusion (I’m wrapping it up…pay close attention) I’m starting to pay special attention to my weight.  In the past my weight has gradually increased, with no notable affects as I was skinny to begin with.  With middle-age and officiating so much during the year I could continue to eat like a teenager without consequence.  Before this past year losing weight was as easy as pie (I love pie…that’s a poor choice of words…but it’ll stay).  Last off-season I gained fifteen pounds, and it doesn’t become me.  After 70+ games I still have ten of those fifteen pounds. I’m now counting calories.  I’m now using portion control. I made it to the gym this morning and begrudgingly rode an exercise bike and burned off only enough calories to cover the tablespoons worth of raspberry preserve that I had on my English muffin for breakfast this morning.  For lunch…an egg and hash browns, and not much of those.  No more candy, or the dish of peanut M&M’s on the coffee table.  I have fresh and dried fruit. I have whole grain English muffins….and I’ll have to exercise more than ever since I still love to eat.  I’m hungry. It’ll be okay.  I’ll be fine.  I’m not looking to lose weight so much as to maintain, and to firm up what’s there. We were recently at a really nice hotel for my 50th birthday…in case you missed it, it was February 6th….I was reaching for something by the sink when I saw something jiggle in the reflection of the hotel mirror.  My man-boobs…they now jiggle.  ICAN’THAVE THAT!!  So yeah…I’m hitting the weights again.  A sad but true story.

In two weeks I’ll get to officiate again, this time at the Special Olympics Tourney.  Its a blast.  I get more fun and pleasure from the games that day than a weeks worth of working good teams.  The atmosphere is electric for them and restoring for me.  Blessed in different ways we’ll have fun…you can be sure of that.

Until next time…thank you for reading, God bless and take care,

R

 

 

 

 

50 years. So far…so good

I pretty much painted myself into a corner.  I decided a month ago to write six blogs leading up to my fiftieth birthday only to figure out that I didn’t really have that much to write about when I examined those forty-nine years leading up to said date.  Not.  Much.  There.  I thought that I’d write about all of the jobs that I’ve had, fifteen of them, throughout my life, some of them very forgettable but lessons were learned and none of them were fatal.  Baling hay was probably one of the best jobs.  Outside, sunshine, fresh air and a sense of accomplishment when you see that the field is done and in the barn at the end of the day.  My memory of us hot-footing it to get the last of the hay baled, stacked onto the rack and back to the barn before a huge summer thunderstorm that loomed on the horizon with dark blue anvil-headed peaks bearing down on us taught me the importance of teamwork and a very definite deadline.  Being a fry cook at a truck stop during my senior year of high school taught me the importance of the folks in the kitchen and the need for higher education if I wished to get above those ranks.   Working two years with the mentally handicapped was awesome and heartbreaking at the same time. This list could go on and on…but you get the idea.  For every experience…there’s lessons to be learned.

What I’ve learned the most the past year is this.  When it comes to me being me…I’m not everyone’s cup of tea.  Some folks simply don’t get my sense of humor nor why I do what I do…and now I’m good with that.  I took a personality test this past summer that told me what I pretty much already knew…I’m an extrovert.  A great big, loud-mouthed, can’t keep quiet, wise-assed, witty, sensitive extrovert.  75% extrovert.  So when I’m not talking or when I’m quiet…watch out…I’m just refueling and reloading for our next interaction.

The test also stated that I’ve always put more into friendships than I get back, that I give gifts and can’t figure out why I don’t hear back from those recipients.  That really struck a cord for me.  For years I’ve done things for folks, and never heard back from them.  Not.  A.  Peep.  It used to bother me.  I’d think “Holy cow…did they not like it?  Didn’t they get the joke, or appreciate the effort?”  I now understand that the recipients aren’t wired the same way that I am and maybe they did like it, or find it humorous but aren’t the kind to express it like I am.  I’ve stop expecting to be thanked, or even acknowledged…and that’s liberating for me.  I still do the things that I do, but giving a gift simply for the acknowledgement of it…then its not a gift, its a set up for being disappointed in that person.  I don’t want that.  Once I send a gift…I walk away from it.  Nuff said.

Failure…its where most growth is found.  It doesn’t frighten me anymore.

I’m blessed so abundantly. (most of us are…we choose not to count what we think are “ours” when really…those blessings can disappear at any time).  Count ’em and give thanks to those responsible.

For my birthday yesterday I took my little brother (from Big Brothers/Big Sisters) to a comic convention, called Comic Con.  I’d never been to one and neither had he.  It was filled with thousands of fans, some of them dressed up in the costumes of their favorite super hero complete with masks and makeup.  My takeaway from the experience was this:

  • One comic con is enough.
  • Those folks are really into their masks, wigs, eye-patches, swords, guns, costumes, make-up, shields and various accessories but not so much deodorant.  Not even a whiff of Axe body spray or splash of cologne in that crowd except for yours truly.  I’m glad that it wasn’t summertime is all that I’m sayin’, that crowd was…stale at the time that I was there.  Now before anyone gets worked up and tells me that I’m not being nice just calm down.  Those folks are comic book nerds much in the same way that I’m a referee nerd (I get a monthly publication called REFEREE…dead serious).  A guy who’s costume is a black and white striped shirt who runs up and down a rectangular court with a whistle in his mouth talking about the importance of Legal Guarding Position several times a week doesn’t have a lot of room to talk.  Super human powers aside…I smell like Ben-Gay most nights of the week.

My breakfast is now part of a revolution.  Oatmeal.  Keep the Man from keeping you down…eat your oatmeal.

sigh...oatmeal and not sweet delicious donuts...

sigh…oatmeal and not sweet delicious donuts…

Saw this and kind of had to agree…

True?

True?

Finding new songs that get my toe a tappin’ is always a good thing…even though this songs been out for awhile.

 

Thanks for reading.  God bless and have a great week!

R

 

Terrific Ten…or so it would seem…

Fun facts as I turn 50 that you never, ever knew about me…and now that you do…deal with it.

  1. I don’t like the Beatles or Elvis.  Never have.
  2. Whenever someone tells me that the loudmouth who’s making a scene about his or her cause should be listened to because they’re “passionate about their cause” I reply…so was Hitler. 
  3. I’ve found that the less factual and more ambiguous that I am about something…the better my stories are.
  4. I’ve found that honesty and forthrightness has gotten me further in my career (as it is…) than walking away wondering “What the **** was that all about?”
  5. I grew up in the early eighties thru mid-eighties and I’ve never seen the following movies:  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Porky’s, Grease nor any of the Rocky’s. (some of you just lost your mind)
  6. In the fall of 2007 I worked for the hamburger chain Red Robin for five hours.  True story.
  7. I own a pair of cheap sneakers that I wear exclusively inside of our house to keep my feet warm, combine that with my fleece pullovers and BAM!!  I’m now Mister Rogers (it could be worse I suppose…)
  8. I’m usually behind the music scene by roughly fifteen years…who’s this new group called the Foo Fighters?  They’re a terrific bunch of boys!
  9. Being fast with a quip or witty response is fine, but I’d rather be intelligent.
  10. If I were stranded on a deserted island (with the caveat that it had plenty of clean drinking water, a warm shelter, clean clothes, satellite TV, medicines, a laptop with Wi Fi, a Sleep Comfort Adjustable bed and I could have these meals air dropped to me daily…) and I could only have six foods, those six foods would be (in no particular order…): Bacon cheeseburgers, assorted pizzas, tacos, deviled eggs, chocolate chip cookies and ice cold 2% milk.  That’d pretty much do it.  If I could add a seventh…it’d be delicious ice-cold Coors Light.

My wife....she mocks me and all of my alter-egos...

My wife….she mocks me and all of my alter-egos…

Peace and God bless…

R

PARENTHOOD…DAY 9,178. So far…so good

The time frame for this, the fourth of six chapters of my life as I enter the tender age of 50 (in less than two weeks if you’re mailing your gift to me…), begins around the beginning of 1989.  Connie and I had been married for almost a year when she brought it to my attention that we should start trying in earnest to get pregnant.  If I remember it correctly we didn’t discuss how much the baby would cost us in terms of money, time, patience, formula, medicine, insurance, sickness, loss of sleep, worry or anything else….we were 23 years old and it was time.  Connie, being a right-brained analytical type, purchased a Basal thermometer and started charting her ovulation cycle on graph paper which was compared to a calendar on her nightstand.  After a couple of months of this she informed me that “this next week I’ll need you on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights around nine PM” to which I wholeheartedly agreed that, this whole baby-making scheme of hers sounded “just grand” to me (HAR HAR).  What I came to quickly realize was that being called upon to sire a bloodline is TOTALLY  different from frisky and fun spontaneous sex.  My bride was all business…with no time for foolishness nor foreplay. She was all “GET ‘ER DONE” before the phrase was coined.  The following video closely illustrates our exchanges at that time. The movie She’s Having a Baby was the movie that we went to see on our first date.  Funny stuff…hits close to home.

We got pregnant quickly though it didn’t last…two times in a row.  We were heartbroken, with one even going into the second trimester.  Geez…did we really want this hurt to continue?  We cautiously approached this whole “parenthood” thing again and came through it with our first-born daughter Jordan.  She was perfect.  Eight pounds and a head full of hair.  As I laid down to sleep that night, with Connie and Jordan still at the hospital I thought to myself “I can finally relax…she’s born…she’s here…” before a stark realization pierced my conscience with “DEAR GOD…IT’S JUST BEGUN!!”

Connie and Jordan early on

Connie and Jordan early on

After Jordan was born Eastman Kodak probably posted record earnings.  We took photos of her endlessly.  Repeat…endlessly.  She was unique.  She was so smart. She was in the 100% percentile of her age group!!  She also pooped a great deal, spit up almost constantly, tried to eat our cat and was the apple of our eye.  Why our child was destined to be someone wonderful!!

Never mind that Jordan's gouging my eye out...she's happy and I can buy a glass eye for myself

Never mind that Jordan’s gouging my eye out…she’s happy and I can buy a glass eye for myself

First born children shoulder the burden of breaking in new parents.  Who would teach new parents that they should ALWAYS bring at least one set of clean clothes for the baby to even the most routine trip…?  The first-born.  Who would teach new parents that they shouldn’t leave the diaper bag (with diapers, wipes, Tylenol, pacifier and burp clothes in it) on top of their car then drive twenty miles before realizing that its now somewhere along a rural county blacktop…probably being ripped apart by cars driving over it?  The first-born. (true story…we realized it at eight o’clock at night…as we were getting ready to put Jordan down for the night).  Someone found it and turned it into the sheriffs office where we picked it up the next day.

Fast forward three years and BAM!!  Daughter number two shows up and she’s TOTALLY different from her sister in attitude, temperament and intestinal regularities (funny how when a kid doesn’t poop as often how your WHOLE being is centered on that until the issue is relieved…no pun intended).  We were in a new town, a nice apartment, new careers and adjusting to being a family of four.

Karalee was more of a Momma's girl in those first few years...

Karalee was more of a Momma’s girl in those first few years…

At a wedding reception that had a teeter-totter close by that caught a little girls eye

At a wedding reception that had a teeter-totter close by that caught a little girls eye

Not much money in those early years so we went camping. The flies were so bad that we ate inside the tent. I remember this trip real well because I woke up from a nap with chewing gum stuck to my bare back. Sunburned, sweaty and sticky...it was fun.

Not much money in those early years so we went camping. The flies were so bad that we ate inside the tent. I remember this trip real well because I woke up from a nap with chewing gum stuck to my bare back. Sunburned, sweaty and sticky…it was fun.

And fast forward again…

Have you ever seen a very pregnant woman give a "come hither you sexy stud" look? Me neither...

Have you ever seen a very pregnant woman give a “come hither you sexy stud” look? Me neither…

BAM!!  Mason Sue was born…all TEN POUNDS OF HER.  Our girls topped the charts in weight by coming into this world weighing at least eight pounds each.

Grandpa Kenny and Macy Sue

Grandpa Kenny and Macy Sue

Just because you just had a ten pound baby doesn't mean that you stop being a Momma to the others.

Just because you had a ten pound baby doesn’t mean that you stop being a Momma to the others.

By the time Macy arrived we were old hands at raising little girls. We had bought a little house and Connie was real adept at finding garage sale clothes that a growing family needed and bought our girls winter coats the previous spring during seasonal closeouts.  Our kids didn’t mind and frankly…our family of five’s budget was lean.  All through this time there were always plenty of books, a sandbox, a swing set, bunk beds and their imagination.

Fast forward…

Karalee, Jordan and Macy at a amusement park in 2001. Short trips and overnight stays were our vacations

Karalee, Jordan and Macy at a amusement park in 2001. Short trips and overnight stays were our vacations in 2001

DON'T LOSE THE BABY!! Connie with death-grip on Macy on a log ride 2001

DON’T LOSE THE BABY!! Connie with a death-grip on Macy on a log ride 2001

We continued to learn life lessons…like if our toddler ate half a bag of cheese popcorn at the babysitters said toddler of ours would throw up an orange mess onto our beige carpet that wouldn’t come out.  Or…if one child gets sick the parent who slept on the floor of their bedroom to comfort them would eventually catch what the kid had (it didn’t kill me….)

It was around this time that I taught the girls how to ride their bikes.  True story.  They were having trouble learning how to ride, so I loaded up their bikes, dressed them in jeans and drove them to a park with a steep grassy hill.  They put on their helmets, knee and elbow pads then I had them take their bikes to the top of the hill.  They weren’t too sure of this method and expressed their doubts constantly to me.  They got on their bikes and I pushed them off, yelling “PEDAL!!  DON’T STOP PEDALLING!!”  They’d make it a little ways, crash then really expressed their doubts about my methods with “DOES MOM KNOW ABOUT YOUR TRYING TO KILL US?!?!”  Within minutes they were riding their bikes down the hill and onto the blacktop playground at the base of that hill.  Happy and confident, but not without a bump or two.  The girls were little, and whenever Connie left town for a conference and I had to be Mister Mom for several days I ran our girls hard….and they loved it.  If it were summer I’d let them get up around 8 and mill around the house until ten or so.  I’d load up the van with bikes, a cooler of food and drinks then head off to a park where they’d play until lunch time.  We’d picnic, then change into our swimsuits and go to the pool.  After a couple of hours at the pool we’d head to Dairy Queen for ice cream.  After getting home I’d send them outside to play some more.  Supper.  Showers.  A little TV and reading then send them off to bed at 7:30 where they’d crash.  It was a great plan…sadly I was almost as wore out as they were.

Without Connie around I usually relaxed the house rules.  On one occasion I encouraged belching at the dinner table with a follow up exclamation “GOOD FOR YOU!!”  shouted by everyone and hitting the table with both hands (this was done by one adult, me, and three little girls under the age of 11 for approximately one week).  It went over BIG!!  The girls loved it and practiced it as often as they could…with silverware clattering with each pounding and a lot of laughing….then Connie got home.  I didn’t think to tell the girls to stop our little routine, why would I?  At our first meal with Connie back Macy let out an ear-splitting belch that would make a sailor proud then hit the table with both hands and yelled “GOOD FOR ME!!!!” with a big smile on her face.  Connie’s jaw hit the floor.  Jordan and Karalee looked on in astonishment like Macy was about to die.  I chuckled and told Connie what we had been doing.  It ended right….there.

Fast forward…we wanted a larger house and bought one.  Everyone was excited.  Each girl had their own bedroom and got to decorate it accordingly.  Friday afternoons I’d pick them up from school then race home to clean the house, shower, order pizza then crash on the couch and watch Nickelodeon’s Friday night line up of Dexter’s Laboratory, SpongeBob, Jimmy Neutron, Rugrats and Ed, Edd and Eddy.

Good times...

Good times…

They grew…

First day of school

First day of school

School days…roughly 7,000 of them…not to mention their time in college.  Our girls got good grades, a direct reflection of their mother’s influence.

Family reunion 2006

Family reunion 2006

Lots of Halloweens…

Thug life. Don't ask me why..

Thug life. Don’t ask me why..

Connie was/is always in charge of Christmas.  Since I work retail I’m usually not in any good mood to do anything other than drink and watch others enjoy the festivities.  We both grew up with generous, loving and thoughtful parents.  I’d like to think that we carried those traits onto our family.

Me, Brian, Dan and Dad. Christmas 2007.

Me, Brian, Dan and Dad. Christmas 2007

Lot’s of birthdays.  We’ve hosted many, many birthday parties for our daughters.  When they got older and had friends over…we got wiser and ended “sleep overs”.  I suddenly started feeling my age when I started telling kids “its 4 AM dammit…get into your sleeping bags and go to sleep!!”  One hundred and thirteen birthday cakes later…we’re still ready for more.

My bride didn't have a "9" for my 39th birthday so she improvised with "38" and "1".

My bride didn’t have a “9” for my 39th birthday so she improvised with “38” and “1”

My 40th birthday with my girl. We're both grayer now...go figure

My 40th birthday with my girl. We’re both grayer now…go figure

Our girls showing a little of their moxie while exploring some timber and railroad tracks close to Grandpas house. (it was muddy and Macy didn't bring her old shoes so we went old school with grocery bags and rubber bands over the her school shoes)

Our girls showing a little of their moxie while exploring some timber and railroad tracks close to Grandpas house. (it was muddy and Macy didn’t bring her old shoes so we went old school with grocery bags and rubber bands over her school shoes)

Vacations.  We finally started taking good vacations.  Destination spots.  Disney.  Washington DC.  Colorado.  It’d take a couple of years to save up for them.  I think that Connie and I were just as excited as our girls were.

Nebraska 2007. Here I am trying to stuff Macy into a trash can at a rest stop. She wouldn't fit. (I call this my "white socks with denim shorts phase)

Nebraska 2007. Here I am trying to stuff Macy into a trash can at a rest stop. She wouldn’t fit. (I call this my “white socks with denim shorts phase)

On top of Pike's Peak Colorado June 2007. At 28 degrees and windy we were Ripley-sickles in this photo

On top of Pike’s Peak Colorado June 2007. At 28 degrees and windy we were Ripley-sickles in this photo

Photos!!  We took a lot of photos!!  There’s around 15 large photo albums of the past 27 years, with roughly 20 smaller photo albums of our vacations.  Connie is to credit for all of these, that and we took photos of everyday life and special occasions.

High school and middle school days

High school and middle school days

 

Did I mention birthday parties…?

Macy and friends...

Macy and friends…Diet Dew and cake

Jordan...with Karalee photobombing

Jordan…with Karalee photobombing

Birthday cake has been usurped by gourmet cupcakes

Birthday cake has been usurped by gourmet cupcakes

Long a tradition in our home...birthday dinners out. We had to make a rule early on that their restaurant of choice couldn't include a place with Happy Meals.

Long a tradition in our home…birthday dinners out. We had to make a rule early on that their restaurant of choice couldn’t include a place with Happy Meals.

Prom 2014 Connie and Macy

Prom 2014 Connie and Macy

Graduations…four of them.  Three high school.  One college.

Macy's high school graduation. 2014

Macy’s high school graduation 2014

As a tradition that our girls started…whenever we have a holiday or event that one of them can’t attend, the absent ones face is printed out and taped to the face of a stuffed snowman…so she can be there in spirit.  What started out as a joke is now kind of a deal for them.

With Karalee in Japan, Macy and Jordan "bring" Karalee to Macy's graduation party

With Karalee in Japan, Macy and Jordan “bring” Karalee to Macy’s graduation party

Empty-nesters.  Nuff said.

Macy moving into her dorm room August 2014. What will we do now...?

Macy moving into her dorm room August 2014. What will we do now…?

Flying the nest…literally…

Jordan graduating from Flight Attendant Training fall 2014 and moving far away.

Jordan graduating from Flight Attendant Training fall 2014 and moving far away.

Traditions.  We have them.  Won’t go too far into them.  One is cookie baking for the holidays.  Here Karalee photobombs with the batter.  I think she’s practicing to take my spot as the family ham…but I’m still firmly on my throne.

COOKIE TIME!!

COOKIE TIME!!

More Christmas…

Who doesn't like a good head-hug from their kid?

Who doesn’t like a good head-hug from their kid?

Uhhh...what happened to my little girls...? Has anyone seen them lately? Furry Barney slippers? Beauty and the Beast pajamas? Wiggling into a spot on the couch with me...? Anyone...?

Uhhh…what happened to my little girls…? Has anyone seen them lately? Furry Barney slippers? Beauty and the Beast pajamas? Wiggling into a spot on the couch with me…? Anyone…?

As I looked back through our family photos I became a little melancholy.  Where did the time go?  I always knew that we were very blessed, but to see it again and again….and again…all of the love, the fun and good times…it makes me feel overly blessed.  Connie’s done a WONDERFUL job as a wife, and mother of our daughters…I couldn’t ask God for a better person to spend my life with.  I couldn’t ask for better parents or in-laws.  They’re the kind of folks that taught us about love, affection, laughter, honor, God, home, a work ethic, family, solidarity, responsibility, honesty and how to be a good parent, spouse and brother/sister.  They taught us without saying anything most days….we just didn’t know it.

Whenever I overhear a young couple say that they don’t have enough money saved up to have a child I tell them “don’t wait, you’ll never have enough money and you’re missing out on the ride of a lifetime.”  Parenthood isn’t for everyone….but it was for me.

Once in a great while…we get all three of our daughters home.  It doesn’t happen very often.  When we do…this is how they act…

Goofy women in my truck

Goofy women in my truck

…but this is how I still see them…

Good times

Good times

Parenthood has made me a better person.  Nuff said.

God bless and thanks for coming along…

R

 

 

 

THE EPIC SAGA CONTINUES…LOVE IN ’88

The third in a series of six epic tales…sure to warm the hearts and souls of those in the upper Midwest…and maybe other places too…but for now…just the upper Midwest.

So 1988 began much like the previous year left off….quietly.  Not.  Much.  Going.  On.  I was just a lonely single dude….lookin’ for love and not having much luck.  Truth be told, I wasn’t much of a Don Juan character.  My total number of dates in the previous five years could be counted on one hand….so yeah….I was PRIMED for SUCCESS!!

A mutual friend got Connie, my future wife, to stop by the store where I was working and meet me.  Needless to say, the vixen that she was/is, went all out that initial introduction and wore baggy gray sweatpants and huge winter parka….HOT STUFF BABY!!  Long story short….we went out on a date, then another (the next night) and by the end of the night…we were discussing the possibility of marriage…to each other.  Thirteen days later…we were engaged.

Back then when you became engaged folks threw you a wedding shower.  In our case….we had shower, after shower, after shower.  Even folks from our workplaces threw us showers.

Sexy undies for me...Connie's quite pumped about them.

Sexy undies for me…Connie’s quite pumped about them.

These "elephant undies" were a hit at our wedding shower...what with it "trunk space" and all....

These “elephant undies” were a hit at our wedding shower…what with its “trunk space” and all….

And…another shower.  This one at the Methodist church in historic Joy Illinois.

I blame my expressions on my brother, Brian, who was egging me on....true story.

I blame my expressions on my brother, Brian, who was egging me on….true story.

A place setting of our wedding dinner ware. I'm pretty pumped...about the cake.

A place setting of our wedding dinner ware. I’m pretty pumped…about the cake.

August 6th 1988. I remembered my lines!!

August 6th 1988. I remembered my lines!!

After our wedding we did the usual sexy young couple stuff….we sat in front of International posters and looked suave…

We actually look like we know what we're doing! Incredible!!

We actually look like we know what we’re doing! Incredible!!

She left me funny and sexy notes. For the sake of my younger viewership I've chosen not include those sexy notes...they're too "hubba hubba"

She left me funny and sexy notes. For the sake of my younger viewership I’ve chosen not include those sexy notes…they’re too “hubba hubba”

Skiing with another couple. Ah...the joys of being "kid-less".

Skiing with another couple. Ah…the joys of being “kid-less”.

...and the "mustache experiment". I rocked it. TOTALLY ROCKED. IT!!!

…and the “mustache experiment”. I rocked it. TOTALLY ROCKED. IT!!!

We went to concerts…Lee Greenwood! Randy Travis!! Kenny Rogers!!  We met important people!

I told you we met celebrities!!

I told you we met celebrities!!

In the mean time we had started on…well, starting a family.  We got close a couplea times…but this last one…we went the distance.  On December 18th 1990 on a cold winter morning we became parents for the first time.  We were green.  Amateurs.  Rookies in the first degree.  I could have gone on for a while…you know…just practicing to get pregnant (HAR HAR) but my bride was born to be a mommy.  She relished and cherished the idea of being a mommy.  Me?  Well ladies and gentlemen…the following photo pretty much sums up my idea of parenting in the early stages….

Dear God....what time is it? This little squawk-box wants food AGAIN.

Dear God….what time is it? This little squawk-box wants food AGAIN.

Parenthood…what was THAT all about?!  I was clueless, but being clueless is something that I seem to specialize in.  Until the next episode…stay warm and classy…like me.

God bless,

R

 

RICH RIPLEY…TWO DECADES WORTH OF PUBERTY 1967-1987

We begin todays blog in 1966 where I was added to the bottom of the batting line-up as Richard Matthew Ripley, the third and youngest son of Charlie and Marcie Ripley….Davenport Iowa.

An early record of me and my brothers. Brian's looking at Mom like "...do we have to keep him...?"

An early record of me and my brothers. Brian’s looking at Mom like “…do we have to keep him…?”

I moved from the city to the country at the tender age of two (not for political, religious nor financial reasons) to just outside historic New Liberty Iowa…a town that had exactly one bank, one library, one volunteer fire station and two bars with a handful of faithful Christians sprinkled in for good measure. I brought my parents and brothers with me at the time as I felt it’d be unfair to leave them to fend for themselves in the city.  Nothing of consequence happened until first grade when I set our barn on fire.  You read that correctly…I set a barn on fire.  I blame the school system for not teaching us practical, if not life-altering, stuff such as “don’t play with matches in a barn full of straw since straw burns almost as fast as rocket fuel” or “you shouldn’t pee on an electric fence, it’ll emotionally and mentally scar you for life” or “how to shoot a BB gun without hitting window glass.”  THAT kind of information would have been INVALUABLE to a kid like yours truly who had LOADS of time on his hands.  I found out about this time that humor could potentially save me from a good old fashioned spanking.  I was across my Mother’s lap, butt up, clinching for the punishment that I deserved to get as her hand was descending upon me when I started shouting “THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT!!” My brothers fell off their chairs laughing as I continued with my defense and Mom started laughing too…so much in fact that she couldn’t finish whipping me.  We all had a good laugh and I made a mental note to have a one-liner handy for most occasions AND that I doubt that I’d get that same leniency twice in one lifetime from a deserved spanking.

Dan, Brian and I. Look at the size of that forehead. (note to self...wear bow-ties more often)

Dan, Brian and I. Look at the size of that forehead. (note to self…wear bow-ties more often)

I included the photo below if for no other reason that its the only photograph of me without a bald spot.  Just look at it!  Soft brown hair.  Straight and smooth….just like the man writing this crap.

1975 was a good year for hair for yours truly. Dead serious...it got wavy and curly just weeks after this photo was taken at Peace Church Bennett Iowa

1975 was a good year for hair for yours truly. Dead serious…it got wavy and curly just weeks after this photo was taken at Peace Church Bennett Iowa

My circles of influence ran like this:

  1. Family & dog
  2. Friends at school
  3. (repeat)

Here’s the Ripley clan in 1975.  I’m arm in arm with my cousin Doug (before he became known as Dirty Doug of Mercer County Illinois).  Doug got me into a lot of trouble, but nothing that killed either one of us…but there’s still time.

1975-1976 Ripley's Galore!!

1975-1976 Ripley’s Galore!!

Here’s why I don’t ride motorcycles.  I rode Craig “Coonie” Conrad’s Honda minibike directly into the side of school lunch lady (Gladys Lynch’s)  grass green Pontiac LeMans in the spring of 1977.  Fourteen stitches later I didn’t have the same “need for speed” as just an hour before.  Go figure.

Fun. Fast. Not entirely idiot-proof

Fun. Fast. Not entirely idiot-proof

Here’s a fun fact for all of you Ripley Minions out there.  How many kids did I graduate with in the class of 1984 from Bennett Community High School?  Twenty-four.  Just twenty-four kids.  Twelve boys.  Twelve girls.  Most of us had been together since Kindergarten, while others had been added to the mix along the way…and by the fall of 1983 we were pretty much sick of seeing each other.  I was an average student and average athlete. The girls in our class either dated guys from other schools or guys that had already graduated (looking back our guys didn’t really give the girls a deep gene pool to draw from…honestly) while the guys in my class casually dated the lower grades or out of town as well.  I remember wanting to get the hell out of Bennett so badly that I didn’t really say goodbye to anyone.  I got my diploma and left.  I wasn’t mad…just ready for a new scene with different people.  I can’t speak for my classmates…but I think that the feeling was mutual.

Graduation May 1984 Bennett Community High.

Graduation May 1984 Bennett Community High.

It wasn’t all bad.  I worked detasseling corn for three summers as well as baling hay and straw.  I got a job working at a truck stop restaurant my senior year where I found out quickly that I didn’t care for working over a steam table nor fryers. I moved to Cedar Rapids, about an hour away from New Liberty, for college.  I’d make it back to Bennett and New Liberty through the years, but only to visit my parents, occasionally running into former classmates with polite conversations.

It really didn’t happen that way…or did it?  Regardless I’ve made it back to Bennett for several class reunions and had a blast.  Flat out…my former classmates are just good people.  I wish that I could be around them more.  They entertain me.  They remind me of what was, stories either not heard or forgotten.  They’re doing well and I’m happy to see them when I do. Truth be told…its kinda hard for a group of balding, heavy-set middle-aged men who grew up in our school to be pompous and our female counterparts are looking good with solid careers and good kids.

College was just like high school but with more beer and a lot more idle time.  I met a guy in the fall of ’84 who would become my best friend…hell…he’s like a brother to me.  We’ve been drunk together, gotten in trouble together (those two most often go hand in hand) gone to rock concerts,  been in each others weddings, watched as each has raised their families, worked with each other (I hired Dave one time, and he got me to sell used cars with him for five months…so we’re even) shared concerns over our parents, drank more beer and conversed about plans for possible world domination, etc, etc.  As I scanned through the photos from this period of my life I chuckled at how many photos included Dave.  A quick but not complete summary.

Me and Dave in Des Moines 1986

Me and Dave in Des Moines 1986

Dave and me in class at Kirkwood. Look at my hair. I'd give a weeks pay to have that hair again for a few days.

Dave and me in class at Kirkwood. Look at my hair. I’d give a weeks pay to have that hair again for a few days.

Jeff Hopkins, Dave and I on Jeff's birthday at Dori's apartment. May 1986.

Jeff Hopkins, Dave and I on Jeff’s birthday at Dori’s apartment. May 1986.

I graduated from college in May of 1986 at age 19. During this time I had joined a company that hired me and would transfer me to Mason City Iowa, roughly four hours from my family, my friends and all the fun that I had grown used to.  I was to be alone, working 70-80 hours week in a place that I didn’t like, with people who were ANCIENT (they were in their late 30’s and early forties).  It was terrible and probably the best thing for me at that stage of my life…getting me out of my comfort zone and making a career.  I was miserable. I was lonely.  That was 1986-1987.  In the fall of 1987 things started to get better.  Mason City had become my home.  I was 21 and things weren’t as bad as they were.  I was coming into my own.  1988 started like ’87 ended…quietly and without anything going on…then “she” came into my life wearing baggy sweatpants and puffy winter parka and life as I knew it would be forever changed.

I’ve been blessed to be born into the family that I’m in.  I’ve been blessed with good health, stunning good looks, a quick wit and a humbleness unrivaled.  She…wouldn’t buy any of it.  Tune in next week.

God bless…

R

 

 

 

RICH RIPLEY…the EPIC FIRST YEAR

With my 50th birthday just weeks away, and everyone giddy with excitement or drunk on the expectations of their gift to me, I bring you the foundation of my coming into existence.  My forefathers…as it were…were simple folks.  As witness below, they seemed very adept at catching critters then relieving them of their fur, involuntarily I’m sure.

My great grandfather and grandfather

My great grandfather and grandfather

My great-great granddaddy, Festus Ripley, was the first, and only… it should be noted, mountain man in Illinois…a plains state.  Undeterred by the lack of mountains he usually traversed the cliffs surrounding the mighty Mississippi River.  A handsome fellow, he lived to the ripe old age of 28 survived by his wife Phyllis and their 14 children and 5 grandchildren.

Fetus is whom I got my rugged good looks from. True story

Festus is whom I got my rugged good looks from. True story

 

Now fast forward to 1964.  Here’s a photo of my parents and their two sons, Dan and Brian. Everything looks all nice and cozy…not much going on to disrupt the household.

The happy family

The happy family

 

Add another year and VIOLA!!  Boredom is sinking in….

Brian and Dan

Brian and Dan

 

My mother giving my dad that “come hither” look and nine months later…

Oh Charlie....

Oh Charlie….

 

BAM!! Here I am!!  (I look none too happy but my brother Brian is like “Whew!!  I’m not the lowest rung on the ladder anymore!!”

"I asked for a puppy!!"

“I asked for a puppy!!”

 

In my first year I was really, really into physical fitness.  Just look at the form on this photo of me doing push-ups.  I’m incredible!!

Two tickets for the gun show please!!

Two tickets for the gun show please!!

 

No baby blog is complete without a bathtub shot.  Feast your eyes ladies!!  (to be totally fair….the bath water that night was tepid at best)

Oh...hello...I didn't see you standing there. I was busy with my yacht and Mister Toad.

Oh…hello…I didn’t see you standing there. I was busy with my yacht and Mister Toad.

 

So that first year was…pretty uneventful for me.  I didn’t date anyone seriously nor did I write much of anything down.  I just chilled with the fam.  I’ll have my associates dig into the Ripley Archives and find something from my formative years later on.  Until then…peace to you.

 

R