Showing posts from 2014

The Pocketwatch: Year 5 of a Christmas tradition

Once again, December has been a memorable time in my life in many different ways. While our little Slusher family here in Gahanna is doing better than we ever dreamed possible, others in our lives have required the same prayers we have needed so often in Decembers past. From our dear friends, the Burnhams, to my sister and Dad in Illinois, Tiffany and I have whispered more than a few names to the man upstairs recently.

Four years ago, I was remembering my mother and reliving the last memories I have of her. It was a very emotional and cathartic time for me, and using this blog to recount that terrible time was very therapeutic. I would recommend going back and looking at those posts. I do so often, especially when I find myself in times when I need to find peace. They are my refuge, and help me find my center when nothing else makes sense.

During that time, I wrote a blog entitled "The Pocketwatch". It is my favorite Christmas story, and has become an annual tradition on thi…

Buckeye birthday, and a nickel's worth of comfort

Wow, ok, finally have a minute to sit down and unload my thoughts onto my blog. I have been neglecting this page quite a bit recently, as I have become a man whose free time has dwindled to nearly nothing in this holiday season family running and my work day starting at 6:30 am and  not ending til after dark most days. I know, I know, you all have been dying to hear updates from my boring life, all 4 of you who actually read this after I exclude the spammers and phishers. Get down off the ledge and enjoy this latest rambling from me, the least interesting man in the world!

I spent this weekend at my Father's home in Springfield, Illinois. As a geographically stretched family, we have quarterly birthday parties to celebrate milestones in the family about once every three months. And at this gathering, we celebrated the womb evacuation days of 3 nieces and my youngest son Tanner, who turned 11 last Thursday. More about his actual birthday a little later, but this weekend also marked…


Living in a zoo is not easy. With 4 dogs, 2 cats, 2 frogs, and a snake, our animal sanctuary is once again nearly full. In the past we have seen ducks, rabbits, and even a pot bellied pig come and go through this house. Keeping up with all of them is nearly a full time job for Little red. And having a sitter when we need to go out of town is even tougher.

That is where the Burnhams come in. Great friends who live down the street and possess a very attractive quality for people like us - they have a bunch of dogs too. And when they go out of town, they are looking for someone to watch them. See where this is going? Yeah, it works.

Of course, mutual pet sitting isn't the only reason why I consider Dave and Sara among my closest friends. Since we met years ago, at 3D, Dave and I have kind of lived parallel lives. When we first became friends, he was kind of lost after a bad divorce, trying to find his way. He would come over and have way too many Miller Lites, smoke way too many Marl…

Slusher part 2

Realizing that I have been neglecting the blog (a month yesterday was the last post), I spent much of this week deciding what to write about today. There was the first ever visit to my home by my Papawand his wife. They stopped by on a Saturday afternoon and  I was honored to have them sign the Slusher Family Wall. I could have posted about my first ever visit to Maryland earlier this month. An informative conference where I learned a lot about my industry and enjoyed the sights and sounds of Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Or perhaps about the early snowfall this year and how my brother dropped by with his snow plow and cleared the driveway and sidewalks at my home. Another sign of the great person and friend he has become as we have gotten older. And that was just the start!

There was John-Michael's first "official" date with his girlfriend, Ben's inaugural visit to Comic Con, and Tanner working his tale off for the to earn a "Pink Party", the highest class…

I am the old guy

Once upon a time, there was a guy named Mike Paternoster. He was a regular customer of mine when I was a manager at Fuddrucker's restaurant, and we chatted most every time he came in. I knew his sons, and his wife, and that he owned this company. ServiceMASTER. He talked about it a lot, and always wanted me to work for him. I kept politely declining, because I though it was like Amway, a path I was NOT about to go down (again). But he was persistent. And one day we had a conversation.
The rest, as you may or may not know, is history. He hired me, I worked for him, found out he was a weasel and walked out after 2 years. He ate a bullet, I went to work at 3D, Belfor, The Mammoth, etc. And even though he and I left on rocky terms, I owe a lot of where I am now to him. Were it not for his stalker like behavior then, I might still be behind a kitchen line now. 
When I had worked for him for a year or so, he sent me to class to get my water damage certification. I went to this place cal…

Shaping the minds of young men

As I write this, my middle son Ben is on his way home. Gone since yesterday morning, he is with his Boy Scout Troop. They have been hiking and camping this weekend, something they do about once every couple months year round. The first time he went, I was not sure how he would do sleeping on the ground in the cold. But he looks forward to it every time and even spent a whole week at Camp Falling Rock this summer.

I have never had any problem with Ben going away with the group. Partly because he is 14 and a good kid, but also in part because of the leadership of Troop 778. See, the scoutmaster is one of my closest friends, Dave Burnham.

He has known Ben since he was a baby. His boys and my boys have grown up together, and he and Sara are like family to Tiffany and I. They are tried and true people who have seen me at my best and at my worst, and have called me friend anyways. So I am comfortable turning one of my boys over to him for the weekend without batting an eye.

Dave is a strong…


At 4:03 today, Little Red texted me a photograph. It was a picture that made me want to hop in my car and drive as fast as I could to get home. It was the type of image that would bring any man to his knees, distract him from whatever he was doing, and make his mouth water. You know what I am saying? Yes, my amazingly hot Italian wife sent a picture of her homemade lasagna in the oven.

I immediately shut the light off in my office and headed for the door. Just as I was about to exit, one of my Project Managers, Patrick, called my name. I walked into his office and he told me he needed to have a not so pleasant meeting with one of our technicians. He asked if I could stay, as we customarily have two members of management present when we need to "council" someone.  I asked when the tech would be back, and he said 5pm. I groaned a little, showed my colleague (a former executive chef himself) the pic my dinner, and told him he owes me one. I would put my lasagna on hold.

The mee…

Why I hate the Family Dollar

I spent much of the last three weeks at a local dollar store. As I mentioned in an earlier post, they had a small fire and we were charged with getting their inventory clean, their walls painted, and their store ready for its grand re-opening. It was an immense project with lots of moving pieces, and my team worked hard to make sure our deadline was met and our client was happy.

While working there, I got to come home every night. A far cry from my Belfor days that saw me live in hotels for months on end, our daily routine was not really affected. I was able to make the drive home each evening and sleep in my own bed. And Little Red would often ask me to stop by the dollar store closest to our home to pick up milk or bread or some other household need as she does quite often.

I am always happy to oblige, even though I secretly hate that place. They always seem to have stuff piled up in the aisles, the floors are always dirty, and I swear if they opened more than one of their 4 registe…

Thanks Red Beard

Over the last couple of weeks, I have felt like I was back at Belfor again. Running a large project with many different moving pieces all while trying to control costs, manage subs, and train new project managers takes me back to my days on the road with that mega company. I wrote many posts from a lot of different places, and logged my travels from Chile to Virginia. And while this job may not be 1000 miles from home, keeping the ship on course is right in my wheel house. And I am very much at in my comfort zone.

Several years ago, while in Clarksville, Tennessee, I was privileged to work with a terrific team on a project at a sewage treatment plant. Belfor personnel from all over the country jumped into a nasty job feet first. And we were assisted by a labor company, who supplied the manpower to get the monstrous job done on time and under budget.

The supervisor for that company, Blanca, stayed on site with us for months. One day we were sitting around the office, and she told me th…

Another day, another dollar

Ever been to a dollar store? Dollar tree, Dollar General, Family Dollar, etc? They are the new wave of discount chain that are becoming big business. I am a frequent dollar store customer myself, as there is one such retail establishment just up the street. Very convenient. And with their growing grocery sections and wide varieties, it makes my trips to the hated Morse Road Wal-Mart avoidable all together.

Now imagine a small fire in one of these dollar stores. Not a big, destroy the merchandise and tear the store down kind of thing. But a small fire, with a lot of smoke and soot. One where all of the product needs not to be disposed of, but rather to be cleaned. And that is where you will find The Mammoth right now.
It started about 2 weeks ago with a small fire in their cooler that holds the milk. They called me to take a look. I set an appointment and headed that way, only to be turned around because another company had beaten me to the punch. Fire Chasers. Hate them.

But then it o…

All I ever wanted to be was 13

Friday was Tiffany's 41st birthday. I know, one should never discuss a lady's age. But it has never bothered her. Actually, with her heart condition and other health concerns, she was quite proud to be 40 last year. So I asked her what she thought of turning another year with many more ahead of her. She simply smiled and said "It's funny, all I ever wanted to be was 13, so I could get my ears pierced". And I smiled. Because I know, through all of her travels and the up and down path she took, she still has a certain nativity to her. I find that so appealing, and it was one of the first things that drew her to me.

When I first met her, she was a wreck. She was back home after an ill fated move to California for a year. When her situation turned sour there, she was forced to leave with a backpack full of necessities and a small trash bag of clothes. She had to leave everything she held dear: family pictures, her Grandfathers coat, her guitar, and even her dog.

For …

Making the news and an '81 Cutty

Picture it. 1989. I was riding shotgun with my best friend Brad Stefanov A.K.A. Mr. Sparkle. We were out cruising in his 81 Cutlass Supreme just like we did every weekend. He always wanted to go drive up and down High Street on campus, but I  knew that I had to stay close to avoid getting grounded. So we would roam the streets of Northeast Columbus like a couple of rebels without a clue. The top of the airport parking garage became a local hang out.  Daddy'O's in Whitehall was the grub spot. And, as long as I was in by 10, we ruled the world around Gahanna, Ohio.

One particular Saturday an incredible thing happened. The girls we tried to flirt with in another car actually flirted back. It was amazing! We spotted them in the parking lot at Northland Mall, then drove beside them as we made our way down Morse Road. At every light we chatted them up, and they chatted us back. By the time we got to Sunbury Road, we were feeling like kings. And then they got into the left turn lane.

Pro-life protests and a Chilean smoke

On March 28, 2010, this blog was born. Originally I created it so people in the states could keep tabs on me when I was far from home. And I was a long way from home. See, Belfor had sent me to Santiago de Chile. And I needed the escape. At that time, I was finding all my comfort in a bottle, smoking light a freight train, and spending time with any girl who looked my way. Heartache and devastation had taken a toll. So when the chance to run 8000 miles away came up, I jumped on it.

A lot has changed in the over the course of 341 posts. Belfor and life on the road is a memory as I have found a home at The Mammoth. Alcohol has been replaced by lemonade and water. The revolving door of women are out, replaced by my Little Red. And I put the cigarettes down for good 15 months ago. . However, it was my former 2 pack a day habit and a little gas station about a mile from the middle of nowhere in Chile that are the inspiration for tonight's post.

On one of my first mornings there, my bos…

Shut up Sir Charles (at least about this)

I talk pretty openly about my life. From the relationship I had with my awesome mother to the man who chose to be my Father in 1986, from my Little Red and the boys to the job I love, I am an open book about most things. After all, when it is good to be you, you like to share the reasons why with the world, right? So I do. And I hope you enjoy. But this blog, as I have always stated, is a recording of my thoughts in the moment. I write them down so I can reflect back on where I have been, and see the path more clearly. And today, when I heard something on TV that sparked anger in me, I knew I had to write about it tonight.

When I was a little guy, and by little I mean 4 or 5, I can distinctly remember my being spanked with a switch by my Papaw. He had warned my sister, my uncle, and I not to make another peep at the dinner table. And I looked right at him and said "Peep." This mountain of a man took the switch my Mamaw always had in the window sill over the sink and let me h…

My 9/11 memory

Like all of you, I have a story. Burned into my memory like a bad dream, I remember precisely where I was 13 years ago this morning. I remember the phone ringing, listening to someone tell me about the first one, turning on the TV just in time to see the second. I remember the room I was in, the people who were there, the color of the TV. We lived in the flight path for Port Columbus, and I remember the eery silence of the rest of the day. I specifically recall the sadness on everyone's faces, and even the lady's face who told me I could not donate blood because of a previous transfusion. And I remember the look on our Presidents face.

 No matter what happened after, or how you feel about his term in office, on that night he did not look like a diplomatic President, ready to downplay the moment or tell us what lessons there were to be learned. No, President Bush looked ticked off, like a mad Texan looking for blood. And I was right there with him.

In those days, I was a restau…

Untitled - From October 12, 2010

Below is a an unpublished post I wrote almost 4 years ago. I was in the middle of my roller coaster ride, up one day and down the next. It was a bad time in my life, one full of bad decision after bad decision. But no regrets. Every stumble and every bad moment led me to where I am now. Maybe you won't even be interested in what this says. That's ok. Publishing this is cathartic. And reminds me that October 12, 2012 was just another step on the path. And so is today.

(Couple of foul words in here, sorry about that, really wasn't thinking right when I wrote it)

I have always said this blog is for me, and that while others are welcome to read it, I do this so that I can look back at my thoughts and see where I have been. For anyone who reads this, tonight's blog is different. And I will preface it by saying I don't need a thousand calls or comments about its content. It is what it is.

I am a guy who tries to treat others as they deserve. At work, I do what I am asked a…

It's better to be lazy than stupid

Looking back at high school, I have to think that one of my most influential teachers was Mr. Mueser. Kind of a cross between Sheldon Cooper, Steve Correll, and Mr. Spock, this math instructor always made the material fun and interactive. I loved going to his classes everyday. And while I always struggled getting the answer, his unique teaching methods left a lasting impression on me. To this day, I can still hear him explaining The Pythagorean Theorem in my head.

I am not a math guy like my son Tanner or my birth father. Don't get me wrong, I can add and multiply in my head, even measurements and fractions. But I never was able to wrap my head around logarithms and exponentiation. Even when I was in Mueser's 6th period classroom in "B" building, I knew I would not take any of what he was teaching with me. Except, maybe I did.

See I am an avid pool player. Not great, not bad, always loved shooting stick. Last weekend, at the family reunion, I was playing a game on my…

She was a Duck Hunt commando

I can still remember that morning like it was yesterday. Christmas morning. 1988. We had already opened our presents, and, to my dismay, what I really wanted wasn't there. I was expecting it. They owed it to us, after all. They had just moved us.....again. But this time, 2 hours from home, to a new city and metropolitan area all together.

This Columbus, this Gahanna, was a strange new world. A world where I had agreed to come to peacefully for the good of the family. And yet, the one thing I really wanted, the one thing that could make it all better, was not under the tree. I feigned cheerful smile but I imagine my disdain for this whole situation shone all over my face.I was not a happy camper. And then........

Mom was sitting on her bed. She called us in and explained that she knew we wanted this one big thing, but the expense of the new house and the move the spring before had made things tight. So we should really be grateful for this. At that moment, she pulled back the cover…

Pickin' maters

Not everything is bad in regards to my new, healthy diet. Turns out, granola bars are pretty good. And 4 or 5 of them can usually fill me up. Bananas have long been my favorite fruit, and Subway makes a bunch of subs that are pseudo-healthy, even with the provolone cheese I cannot say no too. And, of course, I can have all vegetables I want.

I have never been a picky eater, obviously. That's part of the problem today. But my Dad would tell you that, out of the three kids, I was the easiest to buy for. As long as we steered clear of cucumbers and watermelon, I would eat it. Or at least try it. I loved the fried okra my Mamaw made. I could put down a whole can of red beets at once. And I preferred broccoli to chocolate every day of the week. But one of my favorite snacks has always been a tomato sandwich. On wheat.

Yesterday, we had the Gilbert Reunion at my Aunt and Uncle's home in Fairlfield, Ohio. At dinner, I gathered the food on my plate and went to find a seat next to Papa…

Gilbert Reunion version 38.0

Every Sunday Morning, I have a standing breakfast date. I roll out of bed at 5 am, brush my teeth while still half asleep, and head off to the Bob Evans here in Gahanna, Ohio. My company at these way-too-early-for-a-weekend meals are my youngest son Tanner and Little Red. And we have all grown to love this tradition.

Typically, we arrive about 5:45, before the place even opens. A few minutes later the lights outside pop on and they let us in. Tanner always feels special that he gets to be let in early. The staff knows this and asks him if he will have his "usual", pancakes and hot chocolate. We laugh and and talk and have a wonderful time, and are back home before most of the rest of the world even begins to stir.

Yesterday was no different. We got up and went through the routine. But when we got to Bob Evans, the staff was waiting outside and the place was dark. As we parked we saw the manager come speeding up and let the team in. She was running late, and that would mean t…

The McDonald's chain of love

Ever since my little health scare a couple weeks back, I have been making a real effort to eat better. My morning routine of McDonald's sausage mcmuffins and hash browns has been replace with granola bars and bananas. Thurman Burgers and Raising Cane's have given way to Subway for lunch nearly every day. Eating healthy on the go is not an easy task, as most places are either healthy or cheap and easy. But I am sticking to the plan as much as possible, fearing the consequences of not making major changes.

Friday was a busy day. Busier than normal, in fact. With it being my last day before taking my final week of vacation for the year, I had to not only make sure everything ran smoothly that day, but also for the next 9 days as well. We are a 24/7, 365 company, and I need to make sure all contingencies are covered for work at 3 am on a Sunday as well as 3 pm on a Tuesday. That's the job, and I love it. Unfortunately, for yesterday, that meant breaking my new found dedication…