Showing posts from 2011

Another chapter closes: 2011 in review

As we wind down the hours in 2011 and prepare to ring in the new year, I think back to where I was just 12 short months ago. A lot has changed since then, and I find myself once again reflecting on all that happened and where it has led me to today. I have said many time that life is fluid, and the lessons we learn from today will take us to our next stop along the path tomorrow.

When the new year dawned, I was working on a large project with Belfor. It was a large hotel renovation that kept me busy 7 days a week. Constantly on the go, I was balancing work with an ever busy social life and spending time with my boys. An evening at the theatre, nights out with the BFFL, and a day at COSI with my guys all highlighted a very busy first two months of the year. In late February a minor fender bender couldn't even slow me down as I had a project to finish and never had a night without plans. But on March 4th, it all changed.

I have often recalled the day of the accident in my mind. The…

Year two of a Christmas tradition - "The Pocket Watch"

Last year, as I was remembering my mother and reliving the last memories I have of her, I wrote a blog entitled "The Pocketwatch". It is my favorite Christmas story, and I have decided to make it an annual tradition on this blog. Please enjoy and I hope you all had as wonderful a holiday as I did!

As a kid growing up, Christmas Eve was always the most special day of the year. Aside from the Santa visit, the day was filled with so much tradition and family that is was more like an event than a holiday. Everyone would gather at my grandparents house for Christmas dinner. Cars would fill the drive way, be parked on the hill, and even in the front yard. It was always a feast, with us kids pushing everyone to finish their plates so we could get to the presents. And there were a lot of presents. Whatever car mom was driving, from the Pacer to the Nova, would always be packed full by the end of the evening, and many years required a second trip just to make sure we had it all. Afte…

Christmas at home

I have been reading recently about Secret Santa's that are showing up at retail stores all over the country and granting holiday wishes to complete strangers they will never meet. They simply walk into a Walmart or Kmart and tell the lay-away department that they want to pay off all the past due or soon to be past due accounts that the store has. One person in Cleveland paid off 23 accounts to the tune of almost nine thousand dollars, and the same thing is being repeated coast to coast. These random acts of kindness embody the Christmas spirit and bring life to Santa Claus for those who benefit from the outpouring of generosity.

There is something about Christmas this year that is so special. While I hadn't been able to put my finger on why until now, the last few weeks have had a different feel than I have grown accustomed to recently. In recent years I have had somewhat of a bah-humbug  mentality, dreading going shopping, scanning past all the Christmas music on the radio, a…


When I was a kid in Pleasant Plain Ohio, my grandparents had a dog named Shep. A sheepdog by breed, he was a staple at mamaw's even in my earliest memories. I remember pulling into their driveway and seeing him waiting for me everyday as I was dropped off before school. He was one of many dogs that I had growing up, from the 'beagle" named Max (my dad got him and told us he was a beagle, but he clearly was a much larger breed) to the beer drinking Simon,  who would get drunk and wrestle a basketball in the yard.

As I got older and became a father I decided my boys should have similar experiences. I wanted them to learn the responsibility that comes along with having a pet, and I wanted them to have the same experiences I had with Shep growing up. Oliver was really the first animal we had become a true part of the family. A tan cocker spaniel, he immediately took to the boys and became John-Michael's best friend. He is a lazy, stoic guy who at this very moment is layin…

A marked difference

I had the pleasure tonight to have one of my oldest friends sit at my dinner table for the first time since Tiffany began our life together. For 17 years Ralph has been my brother from another mother, seeing me through all the ups and downs of my roller coaster ride of a life. He was there when my oldest son was born, and when the two that followed came along as well. We sat around bonfires in his back yard as his marriage fell apart, then years later as mine followed suit. He was there when the power of F8 revealed itself to me, both many years ago and just this past spring when my gypsy girl entered my life. And tonight, as we ate our meal and talked about the past, present, and future, he said words to me that I will never forget.

Of course this isn't the first time that Ralph and I have spent hours in philosophical conversation, nor is it the first time that he has given me words of wisdom that helped guide me out of the woods and onto the path again. He told me many times dur…

Celebration and sorrow

When I went to see the boys on Saturday morning, I was excited. They had returned from a week long trip to Cape Cod with my Dad and I was anxious to hear what stories they had brought back from "Thanksgiving at the Ocean House." I couldn't wait to hear if any of their new memories were anything close to the ones me and my siblings tell every time we have a family gathering. There were the really early mornings of standing on the beach. In November. Freezing as the sun came up. And the time my mother packed an empty suitcase which she intended to fill with goodies from the Christmas Tree Shop. My Dad found it and gave the bag to my Grandfather, foiling my mothers plan. And who could forget the notorious "The corn is cold" incident at Howard Johnson's in Newburgh, NY (to this day there is a debate on whether Dad actually made the waitress cry)? Those were great days in my youth, and the boys trip in 2011 did not disappoint.

When I saw them I was greeted with …

And they are off to Cape Cod

It has been a very busy week. For the second weekend in a row, I had the boys with me as their mother had plans and asked me to take an extra weekend. Of course it was my pleasure, as having the guys with me is the greatest joy in my life. We went thrifting yet again, garnering more cool things for them and for the house. An antique wooden sign that says "SALOON" and is battered with BB gun hits was the highlight of our haul, with each of my sons bringing in a treasure or two themselves. Taking them home on Sunday was hard as it always is, but I knew the week I had ahead of me held some great things, so it was just a little easier this time.
On Tuesday Tanner performed in his first ever musical. A collaboration of the first and second graders at his school, he was excited for us to see "Go Fish". Dawning fish heads made of construction material, the group sang songs and danced and put on quite a show. It took me back to my own grade school play at Lynchburg-Clay Ele…

Rack up another great weekend

Leaving the family reunion yesterday was a bit of a let down. After hours of conversation and fellowship, I was a little sad as we made the 90 minute trek home. I thought about the family and wondered when the next time we might all be together. I even considered returning this morning for breakfast and church in the living room, which is a staple of any family function we have. Instead, though, Tiffany and I decided to try to make it a great day for the boys. And I think we pulled it off just by doing something we would have done whether they were with us or not.

The older two boys brought home grade cards that showed marked improvements in several classes. Having promised them cash rewards for raising the grades, we gave them their money and asked what they wanted to do today. There was no thought to going to the mall. Toys R Us was never discussed either. Neither was COSI, The Zoo, or a hundred other fun places we could have gone and let them get those burning bills out of their po…

Edits and revisions

Just a note, for some reason when I go back to edit or revise my post recently, blogger gas been removing big parts of what I have written. I don't know why it is happening, and sometimes don't catch it til later. So if you have read any of my posts recently that had parts that didn't quite make sense, please go back an read them again, as I have fixed a few this morning. Thanks!

And then the Old Man spoke

I had been looking forward to today for a couple of months. When my sister suggested that the descendants of George and Eula Grace Hodge have a mini family reunion outside of the much larger Gilbert and Hodge get together's that take place every year, we all jumped at the idea. My grandparents instilled the value of a close knit family in us, yet we hadn't been all together since my Mother's funeral. Obviously, this celebration of my grandparents legacy was long overdue.

I have written several times about the family functions I had with these folks when I was younger. And the day brought back so many memories of those times. Of course we had a huge, homemade feast complete with everything from pork tenderloin to deviled eggs to banana pudding. We sat and talked and told stories about the good old days and where we are now. Aunts Pam, Debbie, and Bev decided to enlighten Tiffany with tales of  a 4 year old terror named Michael, and explain how they had to use switches and f…

A little preachy? Yeah sorry, had to be done

I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I have made so many mistakes and had terrible lapses in judgement that have altered the course of my life. Moments of weakness and decisions based upon instant gratification mark many chapters of my life and have cost me personal relationships, financial well being, and professional goals. Yet as I sit in front of my computer, re-playing each of these events as if they were a reel-to-reel movie in my head, I cannot express true regret for most of them. They are my mistakes, my indiscretions, and I own them. I wear them like scars, because each became a permanent piece of my life and made me part of who I am today. Sure there are moments that, at the time, I wish I could have taken back. But now I know that each of those moments, in fact every minute of my life so far has led me to right here, right now. And this second in time is leading to and building the next.

I am not a preachy person either. How does the expression go- "Tho…

A chip off the old block-in-law

It has been almost three years since I lost my mother. 3 long years yet I still pick up the phone to call her every time one of the boys does something that I think she would want to hear about. She has missed so much, good and bad. From the kids growing up a little more every day to her newest grandchild, her namesake, Linda. She missed the the drama that surrounded my divorce and the subsequent collapse in every facet of my life that followed. While I think it would have been different if she had been here, I am glad she didn't have to see that dark time in my life. If you read this blog regularly, you understand how much she meant to me and my family, and how much she is still missed today.

Another thing she missed is Tiffany. My fiancee, and the answer to all the questions I have been asking for three years, Tiffany has quickly become the biggest influence on my life. She has encouraged me to let go of things from the past and to start building the legacy for my children that …

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my

I normally do not address political platforms on this blog, and I very rarely address anything in the news. That was not my intent when I started sharing my thoughts on these pages in the Spring of 2010. It has been, and always will be, a place for me to journal my thoughts on any given day so that I can go back from time to time and see where I was and where I am headed on this path. Some posts are so personal they are never published for all to see. But most are cataloged by the month and year just to the right of where you are reading now. And I do appreciate the fact that you are reading, first timers and regulars alike as I give my take on one of the biggest news stories that Central Ohio has ever seen.

A few years ago there was a report of a mountain lion loose in Gahanna, Ohio. It had been reported less than a mile from the home I shared with my ex wife and children. A day turned to two, then three, and so on and the reports continued to pour in. We kept the kids inside and jum…

Saying good bye to an old friend

I remember it like it was yesterday. Angel was about 14 months (or so it felt) pregnant with John-Michael. We lived in a small apartment in Blacklick, and I was busy working as many hours as I possibly could at a local warehouse. And no matter how much I worked, the ends just never seemed to meet. It was before the divorce, before we welcomed JM and the other two boys into our house, and long before I ever heard of disaster restoration.

It is funny to look back on that time and remember the people who were in our lives everyday, and compare that list to today. With a couple of rock like exceptions, the names are entirely different now than they were then. And since I subscribe to the theory of a reason, a season, or a lifetime, I count myself lucky to have known those people who have since moved on, knowing their role in my life wasn't long term, but still very important. And I hope that feeling is reciprocated.

One particular lady we knew then was Mary Nutter. She was quiet as a …

He didn't have to be

I was born and raised in a family that has a tremendous love of music. Some of my earliest memories in life are of my family caroling at secluded houses along the country roads of Pleasant Plain, Ohio. My Uncle Ronnie led the music ministry at our church. My mamaw got up and sang Scarlet Purple Robe whenever Ann Skinner asked her to. When it wasn't Sunday my mother was introducing us to Fleetwood Mac, Carly Simon, Patsy Cline, and of course Johnny Cash. I learned early that music was the soundtrack of life, and have kept that lesson close throughout the years. There are a thousand songs I could hear on the radio right now that would evoke a thousand different memories. Some great, some not so much, but all set to music over the years of my life.

I remember that morning like it was yesterday. Mom couldn't drive, so I would take her to work every morning. On that day we heard a new song by a relatively unknown artist that, when it was over, left us both in tears. I told her that …

Seven words and a Superstar

Isn't it funny how significant seven little words can be. The average length of one sentence, they can add up to nothing. On the other hand, they can change the course of your life for a moment or a lifetime. In the case of my best friend Bethany, there have been several times when seven words have had such a strong impact that she had to stop and re-think everything.

Last fall I wrote a blog post entitled "What's for you won't pass by you." The day before, the man she had been with for four years, and intended to spend the rest of her life with, changed her world with seven words. "I don't think I can move there" was the sentence he used that paralyzed her for the better part of a year. If you know Bethany, you know it is not often that she sells completely out to something. So when she was promised the moon and stars, only to have it yanked back, she was devastated. Seven words that forever changed the way she looked at herself. It was so sad for …

Let the train start rolling

I have been a little out of my element recently. In the past, I have been dubbed Mr. Crackberry, a phone junkie, and a tech geek. Admittedly, all of those titles fit me well. So when I said goodbye to my previous employer last Friday and left my phone behind, the withdrawal started. Sure, I have my laptop at home, and Tiffany let me use her phone for whatever I needed over the last few days. But I am a far cry from the blackberry EVO combo I have been carrying for so long. Now I sit in a hotel in Akron Ohio, new work laptop fired up in front of me and new phone coming my way tomorrow. Yeah, that's more like it. Back to being a little more me.

Over the last few weeks the rumors of where I was going came fast and furious. My GM at Belfor said he heard Paul Davis Restoration. With a smirk I told him I heard that too, along with Servicemaster, Servpro, and a slew of other local companies in the Columbus Market. Truth be told, when I put in my notice, Paul Davis was my intended destina…

Monday morning blahs

This morning I returned my boys to their mothers house just before they were to head off to school. Not different than a lot of Monday mornings, but this one was a little harder on me because I had spent the last week and a half with them. I enjoy spending every moment I have with them, and when they are home for an extended period of time, it makes me wish they did not have to go back. But it is what it is, so I kissed them good bye and told them I was looking forward to their return trip Thursday. then it was off to work.

As I begin my final week with Belfor, a few things stick out to me like a sore thumb. The first is the lack of work I have now. Most of my projects have wrapped up, and the ones that are ongoing have been passed onto to others. I have packed up my office, taking my personal belongings home and putting the rest in boxes that will be placed on a shelf filled with the same thing from other estimators that have moved on. My office is empty, walls are bare as it awaits …

Fake it til you make it

Those are the words I read on a friends facebook page this morning. Fake it til you make it. I had been pondering for a couple days what my next blog post would be. Started a few, stopped though, and filed them in the unpublished folder. But this expression spoke to me this morning. Because I think we are all guilty of this from time to time. The words can have so many different meanings though.

Its Tuesday, and things have been relatively normal today. A shouting match between my boss and a colleague is not an unusual occurrence in my office. As a matter of fact, if we go more than a few days without one of these blow ups between the GM and a member of the staff here, people take note because it is truly out of the ordinary. Some of my co-workers would tell you that there are very sinister things at work here, and to a large extent I believe that, though I wouldn't actually tell anyone around me. None of these people need to know the real reasons I am leaving, though most of them…

The Best Week of the Year

Today I begin the best week of my year. It has been that way for the last few years, dating back to 2007. That was the first year that my ex-wife went on  vacation with her family, a trip I was not invited to participate in. No loss for me, though, as I took vacation and spent the time with my boys. After the divorce, the week became even more special as having them full time, even for only a few days, is awesome. We play and laugh and go on adventures and it is truly a glimpse of how I wish was all the time.

Not that life is bad, mind you. In fact, it is hard for me to remember a time when I was happier. While people are coming and going (more the latter) in my life, and I am beginning a new chapter in my career, the waters still seem to be calm. I can only attribute that to where I find myself in life and, more importantly, who is beside me. And this will be the first time that she will be with me as my guys stay come home for this week. Its funny as I sat trying to figure out our g…

What is that?

Giving my notice yesterday was not easy for me. I was stressed out both before and after I sent the email to my boss to let him know. After I broke the news, both at work and on my facebook page, I received quite a few phone calls and emails asking me why, requesting that I re-consider, and telling me that I will be missed. While I appreciated the word of my friends at work, by the end of the day I was ready to get it all off my mind.

When I got home Tiffany told me that the refrigerator was broken. When I asked what she meant, she told me to go look at it. I opened the door and discovered two things - number one, the appliance was working fine. And two, a freshly made batch of banana pudding. Now, anyone who knows me is well aware of my weakness for this particular dessert. So as I grinned from ear to ear, she told me she had never made it before and hoped I would like it.

We went out to dinner at a local steakhouse a little while later. As usual, we sat and talked and laughed while …

Happy trails to you

Over the last five years of my life, I have had the privilege of meeting a lot of great people in my travels with Belfor. From Chile to Minnesota, Virginia to Oregon, and everywhere in between, I have worked alongside of people who shared common goals and a passion for what we do. It has truly been my pleasure to have been associated with all of them.

I have made the decision to leave Belfor USA to pursue other opportunities. It a not a decision that came easily, and one that I have been mulling over for quite some time. Belfor has been very good to me, from making sure I was taken care of during the time my mother was sick and subsequently passed away to seeing me through my surgeries earlier this year. From my separation and divorce, to my recent engagement, I have had more change since I have been with this company than at any other time in my life. 
In deciding to step away, I took many factors into consideration. From spending a lot more time with my children to pursuing some lif…

Bring on the Rain

As I sat outside my hotel in Paintsville, Kentucky tonight, I watched the rain start. A few drops, followed by a steadier drizzle, and the ensuing downpour were soothing to me as I thought about the day today, and the last few days. When we left off, I was in Tappahanock, Virginia working on a job in the hurricane zone. The east coast was deluged with water from the time Irene came ashore through today, when the remnants of lee made there way into New England and the surrounding states. And in typical fashion Belfor was there to begin the cleanup and rebuilding process.

The stories of storms in the lives around me, and to some extent myself, inspired this blog tonight. I considered not writing at all, but as I sat in thought I knew the words I had inside me were much better expressed in writing than in spoken word. I know me. And I know I get lost in my own thoughts and trip over my own words when in conversation. So I choose this blog, this open letter to the world, to be my voice wh…

Tappahanock and Jim Dandy

I remember as a kid growing up, when my Mom was first dating Mike, we would go out to dinner every night. From Perkins to McDonald's, having dinner out was a nightly ritual as we got to know this man I call my Dad. And some of the best memories were at Friendly's. Known for it's ice cream, I loved going to this all american restaurant. I, of course, had to pick the biggest sundae on the menu for dessert every time we went there. The Jim Dandy. And oh was it dandy. 5 scoops of ice cream with marshmallow, strawberry, and chocolate toppings, covered in whipped cream with nuts, a banana, and a cherry. It was really a meal in and of itself.

I have been a lot of places for my job. We travel the country and world to be there when disaster strikes. I always get that "here comes the calvary" feeling when I am on a plane or in my truck headed to where ever the next project is. But this time, I stopped in my tracks when they said Tappahanock, Virginia. Bless you, I replied,…

American Pickers

When I was younger - I mean a lot younger - I spent a lot of time at my grandparents home on the outskirts of Pleasant Plain, Ohio. I have talked about this place before, and how no matter where in the world my travels have taken me. there is no place that I would rather be than sitting on the front porch of that place, swimming in the memories that are all around. There was the blizzard of 1978, when my mom, older sister, and I played in the mountains of snow that covered the front yard. There was the pancake-as-big-as-the-iron-skillet that Mamaw made me one time just because I asked. There was Papaw coming home from work at GE and going straight to the garden, where he would work for hours. And then there was the stuff.

The stuff consisted of all the things that were collected over the years that seemed like junk at the time. An old John Deere tractor, the kind with the skinny dual wheels in the front. It sat behind the workshop for years, the same workshop where my grandfather kept…

A Burlap Sack

I am not going to be all apologetic about my extended absence from the blog recently. As it does, life was happening and finding the time to sit down and chronicle my thoughts recently has been a little more difficult than it has been in the past. But on this beautiful Monday morning, I felt the need to sit down and update myself on where the road has been taking me recently.

I bought a burlap sack Saturday at a thrift store near my home. I had never bought one of these bags before, but for 59 cents it was too cool looking to pass up. When we got home, Tiffany and I decided the best place for it was on the wall behind the dining room table. We hung it up, and it looks terrific there. But that piece of decoration is not really what this blog is about.

I have spent a lot of time in thrift stores recently. They are the kinds of places you can find cool treasures on every shelf. A carved wooden message for just inside the front door, a bright red and gaudy shelf with coat pegs on it for t…

What genius thought of this?

In my normal routine this morning, I sat down and opened the local news page on my Android phone. I look there to see the latest world news, the latest updates on Tattoo-Tressel-Pryor-we-are-screwedgate, and to check on whether it is going to be 100 degrees or pouring rain (we here in Columbus Ohio don't get 70 degree, low humidity, sunny days). Anyway, a few days ago, I saw the link to the story about our new court house in Franklin County. A $105 million, 7 story modern building, it has taken two years to erect this structure on High Street.

At some point during the design of this architectural wonder, they decided to put in glass staircases. This would offer another facet to the light and sheik look of the building. And so, the planners gave the go ahead. And when the structure opened this week, that elegant staircase punctuated the beauty of the high rise. But there was one major problem that no one saw coming. And it is so obvious that it blows me away that it was missed.

I d…

All because two people fell in love

Hello all, hope this evening finds you well. I know I know, it has been almost a month since I last posted on here. I could tell you I have been very busy at work, or that I spent time finalizing my move to Buckeye Lake and getting settled. But the truth of the matter is that I have not taken the time to sit down and write, something I intend to start moving higher on the priority list. But I though it was only appropriate to mark my return to the blog from where I am tonight.

As I sit on my fathers back deck, I look out from the table. Right beside me I hear the water from the pool rippling in the cool evening breeze. Beyond that just a dark tree line across the field that backs up to his property. It's peaceful. Serene. Just a couple hours ago the pool was filled with children as Dad looked on from his lawn chair. They were loud and boisterous and having the time of their lives. It has been a good day. Just the latest in a string of them for me, but this one is a little differen…