My dirty secret…so comfortable

Spring time

Much like the famous migrating swallows who every March return to the Mission of San Juan Capistrano from their winters in Argentina, I too migrate.  I migrate to the Men’s departments of several large department stores, but not to build mud nests and lay eggs (I’m so over that phase of my life….) but to fortify my work wardrobe with a fresh arsenal of fresh ties, new snazzy shirts and black slacks that haven’t been snagged or frayed from use.  Titillating read so far, heh?  Stay with me now.

My career choice was retail management.  I wasn’t smart enough for many white collar jobs.  Accountant?  Forget about it.  Loan officer at a bank?  Couldn’t do it.  NASA rocket scientist?  Not smart enough AND I look too cool to pull off the whole “nerdy slide rule” thing without raising eyebrows.  I’m not mechanically inclined.  Don’t get me wrong…I can DO outdoorsy stuff and work in the garage, but anything much more than that and I may as well make an appointment at the walk-in medical clinic for forty-five minutes after I began said project. “Hello?  Nurse Marlene?  Rich Ripley here.  Connie wants me to hang a bird feeder on one of our oak trees.  Can you clear an examination room from 10 to 11 o’clock this morning?  Get the x-ray machine warmed up and make sure that you have plenty of gauze, iodine, two feet of thread and a couplea good stitching needles on hand.  I’m feeling really good about getting this bird feeder thing done quickly.”

Anyway…my whole work clothes thing is nice.  I wear good-looking clothes and nice shoes which don’t always look so good when I get home…but the customers and my coworkers seem to appreciate my efforts.  Dress shirts…I have around 28.  I can only wear one at a time.  Ties…over 30.  Same deal as the shirts.  Actually…I have more ties than that.  I can’t stand to part with them, I mean…we’ve been through so much.  A good shirt/tie will last me two years.  A great one, three to four years.  Most of my ties are great.  They’ve been worn through:

  • countless trucks being unloaded in all kinds of weather (our dock is outside).  Blizzard?  Back up it…get it done.  Thunderstorm?  I ain’t made of sugar…I won’t melt.
  • Miles and miles of walking around the store.  MILES
  • Consultations, hiring’s, schedule writings, orientations, meetings, trainings, buying shows, interacting with customers/employees and multiple crisis’…and all the time they’ve hung with me.  I can’t just leave them behind.  After a while…I just donate them.

Then there’s my Dad’s ties.  They’re funky colors and dare I say….retro.  I’m keeping those suckers!  I even put one or two into the Ripley Fashion Rotation every month, they appreciate it and I enjoy having them around.

I ain’t no rooster

So I used to wear my umpire and basketball referee warm-ups to the gym when I worked out, meaning I was dressed pretty much in black from chest to toe.  I didn’t like the idea of spending money for different colored clothes when I was just going to be sweating in them.  That is until I saw another guy…dressed completely all in black working out like I was. Two words.  Dork Alert!  As if I don’t already fight the whole “Duke of Dorkdom” thing with my goofy grin, bald spot and shrill laugh (my mother says that it sounds “intoxicating”) so I certainty don’t need to “pile it on” by doing something so blatantly idiotic.  Sooo…..I went out and bought some new work out shorts, socks and shirts.  I had a dizzying array of fabulously brilliant colors to choose from, many of which would likely been seen from outer space.  Blaze orange shorts?  Why the hell not?!  Hot lime green socks?  Only if they make me run faster….which they most certainly will!!  Nuclear yellow dry-fit work out shirt?  Why not?  The whole ensemble would make me look like a tie-dyed rooster strutting across the work out floor….minus the hens.  For the record I stuck with red and blue shorts that are six inches too long.  Apparently when we’re finally invaded by gangly legged aliens we’ll already have plenty of flamboyantly colored shorts to go around for them.

My secret…brace yourselves…

So my last stop on this clothes shopping craze was Men’s Warehouse.  I was hoping to score a few more ties (my addiction) and dress shirts…but found a pair of jeans.  Now let me say this…since turning 45 (give or take a few years) finding blue jeans that easily fit me and looked good has been a rare event.  If they’re comfortable…they’re too big.  If they look good on me…then they’re too tight to sit down in.  (I’m vain…okay?  Deal with it).  My waist is somewhere in the nether region of thirty-five inches.  Blue jeans skip the odd numbers and either punish you for growing old and fat and entice you to wear the lesser number or swim in the larger number and cinch your belt up two more notches. (First world problemsAm I right or am I right?) So I tried on a different brand of jeans and VIOLA!!  A FREAKIN’ THIRTY-FOUR WAS TOO BIG!!  I tried a thirty-three and it fit well, was comfortable and still had room in the front for me to gorge myself with food and still be comfortable in them.  Their secret?  (let’s be discreet now…I’m beggin’ ya.  I’m not real proud of this….but) The fabric is 84% cotton, 16% (wait for it….) POLYESTER.  Ugh.  There.  I said it….and they feel great.  You can’t even tell without looking at the label (hidden in the inside crotch…thank goodness).  Anywho…that’s who I am now.  A middle-aged man wearing polyester blue-jeans.  Deal with itI’m so comfortable.

May God have mercy on my soul.

Thanks for coming along.

R

 

Thank you for commenting. Yes…I am a wiseass

Its that time of the season when my body is constantly aching.  My legs, calves, ankles, feet and lower back are all requesting a steady diet of Advil.  All of the games that looked great last May and June when they were assigned to me have lost some of their shine in the present.  Don’t get me wrong, I still want to work them and love officiating its just the price that’s paid to work them.  The road trip there, up to an hour or more.  The boredom prior to the game, we’re there an hour before tip off and there’s only so much the same three crew mates can talk about.  The drive home and subsequent short night of rest before going back into work at 5:30 AM.  I love it…though it takes a toll.  Its that toll that prompted me to write a short Facebook post about what I’d like the fans, coaches and players to know about the games that I work.  I wrote it for family and friends to read.  Maybe a hundred people.  I wrote it in my usual witty wiseass way making a few valid points along the way.  It started getting shared immediately.  I changed my privacy settings to Public so that others might be able to read it. As of this morning its had almost three thousand likes and shares EACH.  That’s INSANE.  I’ve blogged seriously for several years and have never had a reaction like this.  Its been shared over-seas.  Its been written about in the Des Register.  I’ve had officials from all over contact me and thank me for writing and posting it.  There’s a movie deal in the works….(I’m lying now).  Seriously though, it’s perplexing to me how its resonated with folks.  Over five hundred comments, ninety-nine percent of them extremely positive.  A small fraction of the comments were negative.  I only deleted one, he was abusive. I kept the other negative comments to show readers what referees are up against.  Idiocy.  We’re up against idiocy.  A few folks wrote that I needed to “get out of the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat” or that I was being “thin-skinned”.  A long time coach questioned my motives.  Most readers of that post understood that I was being funny with a thread of truth that ran throughout.  For a  few others I commented that I had originally written this as a humorous post only for family and friends to read…not for the old ball coach at Cornstalk Community High to take as the Gospel.  Relax folks…if its on Facebook it’s not necessarily meant to be taken seriously…especially if its from yours truly.

Its been a good season.  Post-season officiating assignments are being released tomorrow with more games released later this month.  Its a honor to be assigned post-season games.  Fingers crossed I’ll get the call.

One sad note, our crew chief Joel is stepping aside.  Arthritis in his knees is making the games that we officiate together a painful burden.  He’ll still sub in for games when he can, but his departure is leaving a big hole.  He’s a big reason that I’ve gotten as far as I have in such a short time.  While we’ve gotten a replacement for him, and Jon will fit in just fine, we’ll miss our friend.

Dan, Joel and I

Dan, Joel and I

Until later please keep in mind that I am:

#1..a wise ass.

#2…see #1.

#3…don’t believe everything that you read on Facebook.

Fortunately for me I was asked to referee for the Special Olympics basketball tournament again this year.  Its one of the highlights of my season.  True story.

God bless.

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

 

 

 

Head-banging aside…I feel pretty good about myself

The consumer affairs hotline here at RIPLEY INDUSTRIES has been a lightning rod for the past 28 days…since its been 29 DAYS since my last post.  Sorry minions….not much going on upstairs if you know what I mean.  Here’s what I’ve scraped together for this week.

  • This past Saturday night I got into a head-butting match with my nightstand.  It was a draw, but it drew blood and made a tidy little gouge just below my hairline (I don’t even have bangs to cover it with).  I can’t even make up a story like me and the wife were in the throes of passion and I bounced off the bed and hit it then.  It was just me bending over to plug in my charger cord for my phone and WHACK!!  Stars.  I saw plenty of…..stars.
  • My co-worker is in charge of posting stuff about our company on Facebook and she’s busier than a one legged man in a butt-kicking contest (that’s busy!!).  I’ve offered to help and now have the credentials to post events and such on behalf of our company.  My first (and to this point…only) post was about…wait for it….PUMPKINS!!  TWENTY-SIX THOUSAND POUNDS OF PUMPKINS!!  Which I unloaded myself.  With the idea of promoting that fact I took photos and wrote a little joke about pumpkins and VIOLA!!  Posted!  The day after I posted I was handed the guidelines for our social media posting.  Turns out I broke three rules.  No ALL CAPS (but I LOVE ALL CAPS).  No excessive punctuation (BUT I MAKE POINTS WITH EXCESSIVE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!) And last but not least….post no “irony”.  People do not like irony.  Let me be clear….I COMMUNICATE IN IRONY!!!  I MAJORED IN IRONY!!  So yeah…I didn’t get my creditials yanked…yet….but I’ll need to follow the rules set in place for the good of all.  BTW…our customers will be able to vote for our employees who are dressed up for our Halloween Contest via Facebook.  Let me just say….this year…I’m IN IT TO WIN IT.  Just sayin’ that I’ll rock the whole costume contest in 2015.  Take note Mark your calendars.
  • We’re into Year Two of being empty-nesters and we still have  Blues Clues and Pocahontas kids dinner plates in our cabinet.  We’re keeping them out for daily use….why?
  • I’m cautiously approaching a task this morning that will involve tools.  I wish that I could say “yeah…I’m gonna pop the hood on my ’73 Chevelle SS and change out the headers on it…blah blah blah then I’m planning on blah blah blah…” all the while sounding capable and mechanically inclined…but that’s just not me.  I’m changing out the tonneau cover on my truck.  It’ll involve pliers, and a smallish wrench…which I’ll still find a way to gouge myself with somehow…someway.  I remember when I was 16 or 17, using a table saw in woodshop class at good old Bennett Community High School…where they let farm kids and the like use dangerous equipment….and I came very close to becoming known as “Lefty” Ripley.  Lesson learned….I’m still anxious around “cutty things” rotating at a high speed.  BTW…I was working on constructing a nightstand that fateful day in woodshop that I had drawn up using one inch thick walnut.  It weighs around seventy pounds (did I mention that its three and a half feet tall?) and I still use it for storage in our garage.  If I had banged my head on that on Saturday night I might not be with you today….so count your blessings….cause I know how much that I matter to you all.
  • Life’s kinda boring sometimes, ain’t it?  You can thank God Himself for that.  I see all of those refugee’s flooding Europe from their war-torn homes and I think to myself “God help them”.  I see parents carrying their little ones.  Folks desperate for answers.  Desperate for shelter.  Desperate for food, warmth and justice.  It makes me worry….worry for them, worry for us….that we’ve grown jaded and perhaps callous to the plight of those across the ocean from us…and even in our own communities.  While I work in an environment where I see folks casually manipulate our food stamp programs to fit their needs I see others fall through the cracks and go without.  Its troubling for someone who has Matthew 25 verse 35-40 engrained into my heart.  What I’ve chosen to do is buy items not normally covered by food stamps and to donate those items to places like the women’s and children’s shelter in my town, or to a mission that operates in a poor neighborhood.  Items like toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine hygiene and laundry detergent.  Or sometimes I’ll donate food and clothes….those places are just happy to get the help.  I walk away wondering if I could do more.   I bet that I could. 

matthew 25

Have a great and blessed week my friends,

God bless…

R

 

I like window seats.

I used to fear flying.  The whole concept of being lifted into the air in a multi-ton machine sans safety net nor parachute left me anxious and fearful for the length of the flight.  Now I embrace it, in fact I love to fly.  I lean towards the window short of pressing my nose against it, watching the patchwork of farm fields, creeks and timber passing below as we climb, slipping the surly bounds of earth if only momentarily.  Freshly sprouting corn and beans reach for the sky from the rich black soil that my beloved home state of Iowa possesses a great deal.

As the jet dips it wing to head east the patchwork quilt of farm fields come into view.  A thunderstorm rolling towards us obscures the horizon.

As the jet dips it wing to head east the patchwork quilt of farm fields come into view. A thunderstorm rolling towards us obscures the horizon.

 

We’re on our way north and east to Chicago for the night before we head north and east again to the eighth largest city in the world….New York City.  THE RIPLEY’S ARE VACATIONING IN THE BIG APPLE!!  Oh the sights we’ll see!!  The food we’ll eat!!  The things that I’d otherwise probably never experience, I’ll see in person!!  The Statue of Liberty.  Ellis Island.  9/11 Memorial.  Broadway!! Rockefeller Center. Times Square!!  The list is practically endless!! (did I use enough exclamation points?)

When Connie (the honorable Mrs. Ripley) suggested NYC as a vacation destination I was less than enthusiastic.  The crime, the traffic, the unknown and my overall worrywartedness (it’s a real condition) made NYC look like optional root canal.  Mrs. Ripley pressed on and researched the trip while I mulled over my eventual “yeah….I’ll go” vote (like she already knew that I would).  With plans and itineraries in hand we arrived at La Guardia Airport in the morning and promptly took a cab to our hotel, about a thirty minute ride.  My wife, Connie, gets motion sickness quite easily.  It took her years to get used to my driving.  Our taxi’s backseat space was separated from the front seat space by a thick panel of clear arcyrlic….it also separated us from the air-conditioning during the ride.  All I can say about our driver is that he should be racing on Sunday’s for NASCAR.  The dude was in a zone, bobbing and weaving his way through the Sunday traffic.  Accelerating quickly, darting into the next lane before slowing down by sternly applying the brakes.  I looked over at Connie, who was now fanning herself and was as white as a ghost.  She looked nauseated and irritated.  With no barf-bags present I steeled myself against the inevitable ralph which, thank God, never materialized….but it was touch and go there for a while ladies and gentlemen.  Being in the back seat of a smoky, hot taxi with a sick SHE-TIGER is a tough way to start our vacation.

After we checked in and unpacked we decided that since we still had the better half of a day to explore and sightsee….we did exactly that.  We stayed at the Doubletree Hotel on Times Square which put us in good position to go just about anywhere downtown.  We walked to Rockefeller Center and went up to the viewing platforms on three different levels.  That was pretty cool.

View from the top of Rockefeller Center

View from the top of Rockefeller Center

Central Park from Rockefeller Center

Central Park from Rockefeller Center

View of NYC from Rockefeller Plaza

View of NYC from Rockefeller Plaza

 

Connie had heard good things about a restaurant called Luzzo’s in East Village so we started down that way.  What should have been a 25 minute trek via the subway and walking turned into an hour.  Several false starts down wrong streets and not knowing what the heck we were doing made this into more of an expedition, but we finally found it.  It’s just a little hole in the wall place.  We had skipped dinner and not had much for breakfast either so we were starving.  I had a twelve-inch pizza with prosciutto ham and artichokes that was baked in a coal-fired oven.  Not too shabby.  I devoured the whole thing while Connie had their lasagna.  There was an old-timey feel to the place, most likely since it was part of an old brick building.  While we were there a guy who promotes “pizza tours” of the city asked the managers permission to bring 12-18 people in every Sunday afternoon around 5PM.  I also overheard someone ask the guys in the booth behind us where they were from.  New Orleans.  They replied that they’d heard about Luzzo’s down there, word of mouth.  While I thought that the pizza was really good I didn’t feel that it was the best that I’d ever had.  They seem to be “pizza traditionalists” as the manager grimaced and waved off a young lady’s attempt to order a pizza with “half this kind and half another kind”.  He was quiet and didn’t speak much English but was nice enough. Great experience, I’m glad that we went there.

Jeez....blue shoes, lime green shirt....its a wonder that they let me in through the front door and not the basement.

Jeez….blue shoes, lime green shirt….its a wonder that they let me in through the front door and not the basement.

 

Luzzo's Pizza East Village

Luzzo’s Pizza East Village

These Coke cans always hit the nail on the head!!  "Dreamer"...fits me like a glove.

These Coke cans always hit the nail on the head!! “Dreamer”…fits me like a glove.

A quick stop for some mango gelato and we started our way back to our hotel.  It was late Sunday afternoon so we got off the subway a few stops early and meandered the neighborhoods leading up to Times Square.  It was a near perfect time for walking, with it being neither hot nor chilly.  The traffic thick…I waited for it to clear prior to crossing.  Twice.  TWICE…I was almost run into by a speeding cyclist…as in bicyclist.  Those dudes were bookin’.  I can only imagine the hospital ER nurses looking me over as I arrive to the hospital bloodied, bruised and battered. “Sir…were you hit by a bus?!”  Me “…no….a red Schwinn…tassels on the handlebars…chrome fenders…young dude…delivering Kung Pow chicken….I see a light….should I go into it…?”

It’s now 5:30 at night.  We’re exhausted and in our room.  We began our day at a quarter to four in the morning in rain-soaked Chicago. We’ve had a full day.  Perched thirty-one floors above Times Square we  hear the constant commotion that’s going on below us.  We find out that its that way all of the time.  New Yorker’s don’t drive very much, but those that do are required to honk their horns every twenty seconds, or it would seem that way.  I try to rally past my fatigue by eating handfuls of sweet and delicious Garrett’s caramel corn purchased in Chicago and washing it down with ice-cold Coors Light.  This combo doesn’t give me the desired effect that I had hoped so I hit the showers and retire for the evening at the heady big-city hour of….9:15….or 8:15 Iowa time.  So much for painting the town red our first night in NYC.

View from our room.  There's always something going on in Times Square

View from our room. There’s always something going on in Times Square

We had a corner room which afforded us a great view of the ball that drops on New Year's Eve.  If the windows had been cleaner...this would've been a better photo.

We had a corner room which afforded us a great view of the ball that drops on New Year’s Eve. If the windows had been cleaner…this would’ve been a better photo.

Tomorrow we venture out for more sights and sounds of what New York City has to offer.  I’ll blog more later on this week, and the weeks to come about our exploits…and “yes”….some of the photos appear out of sequence in relation to the week…we were using our cameras and phones to snap shots so it’ll be a regular collage of photos.  If you’ve never read my blog before or wonder why I’m blogging about something that the roughly nineteen million New Yorker’s, plus millions of visitors have already experienced is because I use this blog as a kind of “family and friend newsletter” and creative outlet.  Its also because if you’re a blogger, you’re required to write about your vacations, trips, life and fun meals….its part of the blogger constitution and blogger bill of rights.  Dead serious.  I don’t wish to get into hot water with the blogger union representatives or my tush could be in hot blogger water.  So yeah…enjoy our trip with us….its way cheaper that way.  Just sayin’.

This blog has been brought to you by....Wrigley's chewing gym and Papermate pens....official pen of RICHRIPLEY. The wheels of thought starting while we were in just under way heading to Chicago.

This blog has been brought to you by….Wrigley’s chewing gym and Papermate pens….official pen of RICHRIPLEY. The wheels of thought starting while we were in just under way heading to Chicago.

 

Thank you for reading.  Have a great week and God Bless!!

R

 

 

…hold the onions…

I dread shopping for clothes.  I shop twice a year for any clothes that I might need.  Work and casual.  I dread shopping for clothes partly because I’m neither thin nor heavy.  I’m a medium build.  My hips swim in a 36″ waist.  34″ waist bands vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.  Twice this past summer I tried finding blue jeans that would fit.  Twice I left the department store without any.  Resigned to the fact that I’d better get some soon, I began.

I saw some jeans that looked like something that I’d be interested in only to find out that they’re “slim fit” (nope), or are too bejeweled on the back pockets (they kind of look like girls jeans with all of that stitching and glitter back there) or are too faded/wrong color or are the wrong cut/too large.  For old times sake I tried on some Levi’s 501’s.  The earth moved.  I still rock the house in 501’s.  Now…the size that I tried fit me like a glove…so I took them out for a “test-strut” around the store to see how they felt.  I walked through the house wears department where two little old ladies started fanning themselves vigorously with pie plates as I briskly walked past…hips gyrating with every step.  I made my way through Menswear, where I received vigorous exhortations from other middle-aged men.  “THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ BOUT!!” and “KEEPIN’ IT REAL MY BROTHER!!” were just some of the thoughtful and well-meaning cheers that I heard.  A lone veteran sitting on a chair in the shoe department stiffly rose and saluted as the 501’s and I paraded by (sadly though…a young lady in the “young misses” department accidentally caught of glimpse of me in the 501’s and had to be treated for motion-sickness).

Upon returning to the Men’s dressing room the manager asked me if I was planning on purchasing said 501’s, or as she put it bluntly “you’re either going to have to buy those or we’re going to have to burn them.”  The place still smells of smoke.

Onto a totally different subject…basketball starts in just a few weeks!!  My schedule is pretty much full with mostly varsity games, which is my goal.  Last season my pregame meals were always the same.  Cheeseburger, fries, Coke.  I had to switch up fast food places.  Hardee’s chops their onions, leaving decent sized chunks that I end up burping during games (ever tasted onion-burps through a whistle?  Don’t try).  McDonald’s minces their onions…so there’s no issues with that nasty backlash, now you know the secret of my successful officiating….minced onions….spread the word!!

I’ve decided that I’ll try opening a chain of hotels that don’t have HUGE MIRRORS on the wall directly across from the shower and or toilet.  Seeing myself as I exit the shower or as I sit upon the throne isn’t something (at the tender and impressionable age of 48) that I wish to experience.  What I’ll replace them with is FUNHOUSE MIRRORS.  Everyone loves Funhouse mirrors and seeing yourself in the buff with an exaggerated figure eight physic might be a nice change from the usual pear shape.  When you see a hotel with an inflatable bouncy house in the lobby….you’ll know that you’re in one of my hotels.  You’re welcome America.

Last but not least.  Two years ago I had the opportunity to try two different things.  Not wanting to spread myself thin I tried officiating basketball and haven’t looked back.  I love it.  The other opportunity fell by the wayside as I continued on with basketball.  This past summer that missed opportunity came up again and I applied for and was accepted.  I’m now part of Big Brothers Big Sisters (I’m a Brother in case you’re scoring at home).  I’ve met with my “little brother” and we’ll have supper tomorrow night, just kind of a get to know you sort of thing.  I’m looking forward to it.

I’d like to stay and write more…but those 501’s literally compressed my love handles six inches north of where they normally reside…making my center of gravity as unstable as a plate of Jell-O on a bumpy car ride…so much in fact that I continue to run into things…the pool table, the couch and I’ve twice wiped out and rolled over in the kitchen, not being able to navigate the doorway corner into the dining room much like a fully loaded grain-wagon on a twisty gravel road.

Good day and peace!

R

Reeding is gud…..

So…I’m on vacation this week with nothing really going on except for the chores that I’ve put off until now, like cleaning out our tool shed (which consequently doesn’t contain any tools in it, and organizing my tool bench (which is where all of my tools are piled haphazardly…its just the way that I roll. Deal with it.) I did stop by the magazine stand at the grocery store this morning to pick up a little reading material for while I laze about the pool here at the Palatial Estates and Worldwide Headquarters of RIPLEY INDUSTRIES. Thee old magazine stand always gives me a chuckle whilst I peruse their selections. Case in point:

Only in a city like Cedar Rapids would you find magazines about chickens, where "free range" chickens in your backyard are legal.  Actually...there were three different magazines to choose from...I just couldn't get them all in the same frame.  I think that they should put these next to the "cooking" section....you know...cuz they's gonna be gettin' eatin' soon enough.  Mmmm...free range fried chicken is one of my favorites.

Only in a city like Cedar Rapids would you find magazines about chickens, where “free range” chickens in your backyard are legal. Actually…there were three different magazines to choose from…I just couldn’t get them all in the same frame. I think that they should put these next to the “cooking” section….you know…cuz they’s gonna be gettin’ eatin’ soon enough. Mmmm…free range fried chicken is one of my favorites.

Quilt Life combines my love of the open road on a motorcycle with my obsession with quilting.  One badass-quilter...that's ME!!

Quilt Life combines my love of the open road on a motorcycle with my obsession with quilting. One badass-quilter…that’s ME!!

PASSS!!!

PASSS!!!

HOT SEX!!  24 MOVES?!  Hells bells...I can't even remember where I put the bottle of ketchup in the frig last night and you want me to remember 24 moves?  (any more than four and you're showin' off in my book)

HOT SEX!! 24 MOVES?! Hells bells…I can’t even remember where I put the bottle of ketchup in the frig last night and you want me to remember 24 moves? (any more than four and you’re showin’ off in my book)

This is my dream...owning a cabin somewhere.  Love me some cabin-time.

This is my dream…owning a cabin somewhere. Love me some cabin-time.

As mentioned earlier…I’m on vacation…so plan on a few more blogs this week…that tool shed that I’m supposed to clean will wait for now.

Peace,
R

The fallen….

as in leaves, not people or angels. Living in the Midwest is an especially beautiful time of year, with the leaves of trees turning a variety of bold and brilliant colors just prior to them falling to Mother Earth. We bought our current house ten years ago in a neighborhood that was developed in the mid-nineteen sixties, hence we have a neighborhood chock full of a variety of mature trees providing us with a wonderful canopy of shade in the summer. Wonderful. Cool. Shade. It’s the fall that sucks. It’s in the fall when, I’m not exaggerating, we have ZILLIONS of oak tree leaves taking their suicidal plunge to our yard. Over and over. In daylight and at night. AAAAAaaaaahhhhhhh!!! My retired neighbors, Ed and Bob, work feverously to clean up their yards on a daily basis, like its some sort of sick competition to see who has the least amount of leaves on their yard. If that competition were based on who has the most amount of leaves on their yard I’d win the prize by a landslide…er leaf-slide.

Our city has a big truck with an industrial sized vacuum on it that comes around weekly and sucks up any of our leaves that we’ve dutifully raked to the curb, this is where Ed and Bob really shine, me….not so much. I’d kicked around the idea of approaching the guy who drives the “leaf-vacuum truck” and present him with this scenario. “Hey pal, what if, after work…maybe this Saturday…you borrow this truck, drive over here to my place again…then crank up thee ol’ vac here and then drive all over my yard…sucking up a few zillion oak leaves? I’ll bet that if you did that there’d be a few cases of your favorite barley pop and a Texas fifth of Jack Daniels on my patio for the taking if that could happen…say around 10 o’clock Saturday morning. Aye? I don’t want an answer now….you just think about it.” HAR HAR. You see…we have so many leaves that blowing them all to the curb isn’t feasible. After about five minutes of blowing, there’s a two foot tall, ten foot deep, fifty plus foot line of leaves across much of our front yard. A residential leaf blower just doesn’t have enough wind to blow all of that where I truly need it. I’ve tried just about everything, including raking them into a tarp then dragging them to the curb (but what am I…a mule? Don’t answer that.) Mulching them with the lawn mower is a nice idea, but even the mower can’t handle the volume…so I’m left with using a combination of using all three means of “corralling” those disobedient rascals just as Ed and Bob watch through their respectful picture windows surely cussing me under their breath for being “late” again for the “city leaf truck”. “That kid just doesn’t get it!! Wednesday’s LEAF TRUCK DAY ON NORTHGATE DRIVE!!” At this point I don’t care. I gave up caring about leaves about two years ago, though I make a reasonable effort, for appearances sake, in the front yard. I try to stay out of the back yard, there’s more trees back there, and…I had a really, really bad experience back there last fall. The Leaf Monster almost got me.

An actual artists rendition of the Leaf Monster encounter as well as my cat-quick reaction in staving off the beast (Thank God that I had a disposable lighter in my pocket as a suitable backup plan)

An actual artists rendition of the Leaf Monster encounter as well as my cat-quick reaction in staving off the beast (Thank God that I had a disposable lighter in my pocket as a suitable backup plan)

So…as you can plainly see, and hopefully sympathize with, I’m simply out of options for raking leaves this fall. I’d write more but the Leaf Monster is giving me the stink-eye through the kitchen window and its giving me the willies.

For now and later….peace.
R

Customer Appreciation….? Not so much

Okay….so I’m driving home last night when I see a local grocery store having a “customer appreciation” night in their parking lot complete with free hot dogs, drinks, activities for the kids and an inflatable bouncy house. I love bouncy houses. So I parked my truck and hauled ass into said bouncy house and totally rocked that thing for like twenty or thirty minutes before an authority figure complete with a white shirt, tie and name badge showed up at the entrance of my bouncy house. Mister Authority told me that I was “too old” to be in the bouncy house. I told him that I have “that disease that ages children and makes them look hideously old and partially balding” so “lay off me, man!!” (he doesn’t believe me) He then tells me that I’m above the posted individual weight limit to which I reply (while bouncing…it is a bouncy house) “I’m just big-boned”. By this time a crowd had gathered around the bouncy house to see what Mister Authority’s next move is AND because I’m really, really good at bouncing inside bouncy houses (kudos to the folks who put this bad-boy up. The PSI ratio to weight was exceptional. That’s Pounds per Square Inch for all of you non-inflation to weight ratio types). Anyway…Mister Authority tried to take matters into his own hands and enter said bouncy house to either:

A…join me and enjoy the bouncy house on his employers dime. OR

B…attempt to remove me (good luck with that)

Mister Authority didn’t get very far as he couldn’t get a reasonable foothold to get into the bouncy house since I never stopped bouncing and he wasn’t the “bouncy house kind of guy.” (we all know who they are…) I eventually relent and am pulled from my bouncy house by Mister Authority and two of his underlings which is good since I was kind of getting tired though I didn’t feel very appreciated at that point, but the crowd that I had attracted was really cheering me on (I’m a bit of a wallflower) and the attention wasn’t doing me any good. Throngs of folks, with the exception of one older lady, patted me on the back and wished me well (I told you that I’m really, really good at bouncing inside bouncy houses….a guy doesn’t make up stuff like this.)

I had a free hot dog and was disappointed at its substandard quality and made a mental note to let the manager know of my displeasure with it, still it was a pretty good night.

Peace,
R