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

 

On this hallowed eve…

Ahhh….turning 51 tomorrow.  What can I say?  My celebrity pals have been all over it.   Brad Pitt sent me a pair of mittens that he knitted himself (or so he says…).  Beyoncé dedicated a song to me at her last concert (or so she says…I wasn’t there.  Her concerts are past my bedtime) and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said that the first touchdown pass that he throws in tonight’s Super Bowl will be for me (he always says crap like that…).   Anyway…celebrity notables aside, here’s what’s on my mind as I turn 51:

  • You know that you’re getting older when the gifts that you receive become more and more about comfort and “socks” are mentioned as your number one item.  Instead my beloved bride bought me a really nice chair to sit my dainty derriere into whilst I sit in front of the computer, making funny for you folks.  Nicely played Connie Sue.
  • Failure isn’t fatal.  If I had come to this realization forty years earlier I can’t help but think just how different this life would be.  In high school I would have danced my ass off at homecoming and prom.  Ass….OFF.  I would have shot the ball constantly in basketball.  You can’t score if you don’t shoot.  I probably would have started down a different career path.  It’s not that I don’t like what I do now, it’s just maybe these talents would have been better suited elsewhere.  At the age of 51…its probably too late to try something different.  Everyday I’m around many young people. I encourage them. I let them know that while I am their boss and hold them accountable for their actions that they are valuable and there’s no such thing as a “perfect life”.  That todays culture doesn’t put enough importance on being: honest, trustworthy, friendly, moral, having a good work ethic and playing nice with others.  That you don’t have to agree with everyone. That life is oftentimes a grind of the boring and mundane.  That it’s up to you to make it happen for you.  And while I’m at it…making work fun and stable for those under my watch.  I really appreciate those tried and true stalwarts of my work day.
Failing...?

Failing…?

  • Are you like me?  Old enough to remember the days when you had to buy a rock groups whole album just to get the ONE song that you really liked?  Albums were like ten bucks or more, and unless the group was really good you had just paid ten dollars for one song.  That’s why I think ITunes is the bees knees.  $1.29 for one song.  Just a couplea clicks and its downloaded into your computer.  A few more clicks and its burned onto a blank DVD-R for the CD player in my old Chevy truck.  Quick survey…who has AC/DC AND the Statler Brothers in their ITunes library?  Anyone…?  Anyone…?  Just…me?  Figures.  The Class of 57 is GOLD people.  GOLD.
  • Yes, I will be getting back into the gym.  Officiating basketball doesn’t really keep a guy fit or build the upper body.  Goals set.  Failure looms.  Let’s see what happens.
  • At this age I’m probably more apt to call a spade a spade, a drama queen a drama queen and walk away from idiots rather than waste my time and energy.
  • I traveled to four different countries this past year.  Headed to Europe this year.  I’m pumped.  I’m also pumped to take a two-day road trip, camera in tow,  of the back roads of my beloved home state…Iowa.  I might even make it a three-day trip.
Hanging Lake is stunningly beautiful....but when your daughter asks you to do a pano selfie you jump ALL OVER IT!!

Hanging Lake is stunningly beautiful….but when your daughter asks you to do a pano selfie you jump ALL OVER IT!!

Rooms next to the river.  Nuff said

Rooms next to the river. Nuff said

  • I haven’t gotten any post-season officiating assignments.  There’s still time, I suppose, but I’m skeptical.  It’s a bitter pill to swallow when you do your best, get a glowing evaluation from a state clinician at a big time game, love the sport and work on it daily to get better only to be on the outside looking in…left out of the tournament.  I had a great season, nothing can diminish that.  I’m a good official, and so are the guys on our crew…but it wasn’t meant to be this season.  Failure isn’t fatal, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lesson to learn from it.  I just don’t know what that lesson is, yet.  I’ll have all off-season to mull it over.  All.  EightMonths. 
It could be a long offseason....

It could be a long offseason….

  • I’ll be published!!  A magazine contacted me about writing an article for them.  Dead serious!  I signed a contract and am getting paid to write.  I had my right-brained wife (who’s real anal about being smart…cause she is…) proof-read the article prior to submission.  She had me add a couple dozen comma’s and apostrophes.  Nuff said.
  • It’s a time of transition.  My old classmates are becoming grandparents.  Those big-haired, sexy vixens from the early nineteen eighties are now grannies…and are totally rocking it!!  I love seeing them with their grandkids on Facebook.  It’s also a time when some of my older friends are retiring.  What.  The.  Hell?!  I can’t have friends that old…can I?  Good for them.  AARP has been blowing up my phone trying to get me into their stable of older celebrities.  I’m not buying…for now.
Ooo...touch tone phones?!  Why didn't you SAY so?

Ooo…touch tone phones?! Why didn’t you SAY so?

  • This next year I’ll try to shore up some long time friendships that have gotten on the cool side of luke-warm.  You may never know what kind of journey someone’s on until you park their ass on a bar stool and buy them a beer, or three.

Thanks to all of you for your friendship, for reading along and commenting.  I count myself truly blessed to have each of you in my life.  God bless.

R

 

 

I’m not good

I’m not good at being single.  I don’t care for being alone with myself for extended periods of time, never have been.  I don’t know why.  Don’t get me wrong, after spending all day with the public and my coworkers I long for peace and quiet.  I need some quiet time to recharge after nine hours of being extroverted but four days worth?  Not so much.

My wife, the honorable Constance Sue Ripley, has traveled to Florida to spend a few days with our oldest daughter.  They’re romping through Universal Parks, visiting beaches and eating like queens.  They deserve it.  I don’t mind it, except for the quiet.  Let’s face it…I can only watch so much television, I can only work out for so long.  I can only half-ass clean the house once.  I can only crank up classic rock and air-jam for limited periods of time before it feels like I’m working out again.  I’m just no good at being single.

I don’t sleep well when I’m single, there’s no one to tell me to “roll over” because I’m snoring like a chainsaw.  There’s no one to invade my side of the bed during my once a night trip to the bathroom to relieve myself.  There’s no one to put their ice-cold feet on my warm body when she comes to bed.  There’s no one to comfort when she’s had a bad dream.  I’m just no good at being single.

Now before you think that I’m looking for a pity party or offer to let me half-ass clean your house let me just say “no thanks”.  I could, at a moments notice, show up unannounced to any one of my buddies homes and be welcomed in.  I’d rile up their kids, I’d hear the usual “oh…the house doesn’t always look this way” from their wives (yeah…right. Honestly…I don’t care what your house looks like.  Its your house) or find out that they were just heading out the door.  Its okay.  I got this.

I did have some activities come up to kill the time.  Thursday night I took my Little Brother (from Big Brothers/Big Sisters) out and bought some dress clothes for him since he just got his first job, then I gave him some unsolicited job and life advice (which 14 year olds LOVE).  Friday night I lived it up at a visitation (true story) then came home and knocked down a couplea Moscow Mules.  Read a book and lights out at 9:45.  Whoop-PEE!!  I was awake at 5:30.  Out for coffee and breakfast.  (this fast lane that I’m livin’ in has room for only a few lost souls…)

I could go to a bar and knock back a couplea drinks and watch the games, trading witticisms with other lonely’s.  I could visit my Mother.  I could take her to the bar and knock back a couplea drinks then let her drive me home, even though she hasn’t driven for a couplea years. It’d all be good (Mom would NOT appreciate that kind of spontenatiaty).  I could mow the lawn, but its raining.  I AM doing a lot of laundry, which is good busy work but lousy for making conversation (“soooo…have you always wanted to be a sock?”)

We’re painfully honest with each other…my wife and I.  She states that I will, in all likelihood, eat out a lot while she’s gone.  That’s not entirely true.  I’ll have eaten out twice in thirteen meals.  I tried eating out by myself when I was genuinely single.  It just made me feel even more alone.

Thankfully enough today has several activities planned.  I’ll head into work for an hour to do some paper work.  I’ll referee three basketball games, then in all likelihood I’ll mow the yard (insert yawn right….now).  Soon my singleness will be over.  Connie will return and quiz me on what parts of the house were half-assed cleaned verses full-assed cleaned (she’s like that…).  She’ll mention that she saw the bakery boxes that the gourmet cinnamon rolls and jumbo chocolate chip muffins used to be in (those bakeries ain’t gonna make it on their own without my help!). She’ll ask how many times that I made our bed (twice).  She’ll regale me with tales of her adventures with our daughter, showing me photos on her camera. She’ll tell me that she has a scratchy throat from flying and being around someone who coughed a lot and I WON’T CARE.  Just come here and let me hold you in my arms.  I’m tired of being single.

2100. Every day

This off-season I’ve made it a point to eat healthier and get into the gym on a regular basis.  Last off-season I gained fifteen pounds, didn’t lose much of it during the season then turned fifty (thanks to those of you that noticed and celebrated with me by giving me tons of attention & adoration…I eat that sh*t up big time…I really do).  This off-season I approached our company dietician and asked how many calories a guy of my height and age should be consuming daily.  Her answer….2100.  Long story short…my attention to what I’m consuming, how much of it I’m consuming and working at the gym have yielded a six pound weight loss in two and a half weeks.  Don’t get me wrong…it hasn’t been easy.  I LOVE food (who doesn’t….tell me…I want their name and phone number).  There are days when I easily slip under that 2100 calorie limit but more often than not…its a struggle.  Being hungry late at night isn’t something that I “do” well, and sometimes find myself in front of the pantry, sizing up what I can eat without making a frenzied Piranha-like assault on a bag of pretzels. I record what I eat and those calories and what I’ve found through these three weeks is that there are NO reasonable substitutes for the following foods:

  1. Potato chips.  Salty.  Greasy.  Potato chips.
  2. Chocolate and/or candy.
  3. Beer/Alcohol (I’m no lush…but ya know…I deal with the public a great deal so yeah….I throw a couple back from time to time.
  4. BBQ sauce…a former staple in my day to day life.

Oh…I’ve eaten more veggies, and raisins…can’t forget raisins…than ever.  I’m now eating apples…RAW.  Before I’d only touch an apple if it were sauced or in pie.  (MAN O MAN DO I MISS PIE…).  Clementines…the oranges little step-brother…I now eat ’em and can’t say that I enjoy them….but they’re filling! (so is sawdust I’d imagine….).  I bought some premixed rice (full of four different kinds of rice) then cooked it up with some chicken in it.  I quartered up some B sized potatoes and threw in some minced garlic like some sort of Frankenstein-induced frenzy to get the perfect trifecta of: flavor, low calories and lasting me until the next meal.  What I got….it didn’t totally suck, though it’s healthy but it didn’t last me very long.

I’ve caught myself trying to rationalize out the craziest stuff like serving sizes.  If a serving size of Doritos is 11 chips for 140 calories my question to you is “Since when can you find 11 perfect Doritos in a bag?!”  Honestly…unless you have a Brink’s Armored Truck pick up your bag of Doritos directly from the Dorito factory (probably one of the happiest places on Earth I’d think) then lovingly hand deliver it to your kitchen counter I seriously doubt that (like me and millions of others) you can find 11 unbroken Doritos in a bag…so you end up (like me) estimating just how many broken Doritos pieces it’ll take to equal ONE perfect Dorito!  Don’t even get me started on Ruffles.  Now an educated and rational person (and HUGE RICH RIPLEY fan) like my friend Doctor Matthew Wilding would point out …”why not just forgo the chips altogether?  They’re not part of a nutritious diet?” Well….MATTHEW…I’m a weak, non-perfect child of God and honestly…shouldn’t you be designing some sort of Mars-like explorer or delving deep into the wonders of engineering rather than pose such a dark question to me when I’m weak and hungry?  (sorry to lash out bro….really) So yeah…not totally rational when I’m hungry.

The upside is that the last time that I weighed myself I was down six pounds in the first two and a half weeks.  (I mention this twice since my blood sugar has dipped and I’m literally ready to pass out…) Sadly…as noted our daughters…I still have jowls upon my jaw.

I pick my battles.  I’ve had “cheat days” where I eat out, and drink whatever I choose.  I’ve noticed that cheeseburgers are now extremely AWESOME, that’ll happen when you’ve only eaten two in three weeks.  It’s difficult not to be hungry when you work in a store that has Snickers on sale every twenty feet or so; or when you’re in charge of ordering delicious bakery items like donuts, Danishes, pudding cakes, turnovers, crumb cakes, bars, cookies & so forth.  Grabbing a handful of raisins (130 calories) and washing them down with a serving of skim milk (90 calories per 8 ounces) just doesn’t cut it….but it’ll have to do.

I’ve decided to turn my attention to the foods that I can eat, and making them more filling and better tasting, and at making my favorite drink…a rum sidecar.  I’ll have one when we’re celebrating something special at a nice restaurant…and I don’t have to drive…they’re powerful when made correctly.  Cointreau, gold rum and lemon juice.  159 calories a pop and I just made one.  Not too shabby for a novice…and it beats the hell out of a clementine or raisins.

Until next time…when I regale you kids with this upcoming baseball season and my officiating of it….God bless and take care of yourselves.  Remember…don’t fret about not being perfect. If you were perfect you wouldn’t be nearly as much fun for the rest of us.  True story.

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

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

 

 

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