Friday, February 26, 2010


“Hey, Barry, every day I see you come out to the end of your dock, sit and stare at that boat for hours on end,” I said. “How come?”

“Oh, just waiting,” he said. “It should be any day now.”

Another two weeks passed and every day, Barry was out there, sitting on his dock on the bay.

Meanwhile, his twin brother, Perry, had started building another dock, about thirty feet from Barry’s. Every day, he would add about another five feet to the dock length. When his dock was about two-and-a-half times the length of his brother’s my curiosity got the better of me.

“Mornin’ Perry,” I said. “What’s up with the long dock?”

“Well,” Perry started, “you know how Barry and I used to sit together on his dock?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I asked him a couple of weeks ago why he was doing it and he just said he was waiting.”

“I guess you could say we were waiting for our ship to come in,” Perry said. “I got tired of waiting with nothing really happening. Our ship didn’t seem like it was coming in, so I decided to build my dock out to it. In about a week or so, I should be sailing off.”

Thursday, February 25, 2010


“Stop talking before you say something dumb.
“Oh no too late,” ~ thus spake Happy Bunny.

“There’s no such thing as ‘writers block’, there is only … no, wait, don’t tell me … there is ooonnnlyyyy …”

“Wow, Mr. E., your dishes are really shiny. Are they new?”

“Perhaps today I’ll find the next great American story in the Home Depot parking lot.”

“So what you’re telling me is that to participate in this full-30-day no-obligation free trial, I just have to give you my personal information, a credit card number, agree to pay a nominal shipping/handling/processing fee (hence the need for my credit card number), and if I decide I do not want your service I have to notify you in writing within 30 days, otherwise you will automatically bill me for the first quarterly installment?”

“Does it hurt to be so fat, mommy?”

“She was a dark and stormy knight.”

“Well I wouldn’t have hit her if she hadn’t been riding her bike in front of my car.”

“A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent”

“And do you feel you have been rehabilitated?”

And the winner is …

My dishes continue to remain new looking, despite more than ten years of daily use, is because I hand wash them in warm water with Dawn dish soap, I only use a non-abrasive scrubbing sponge, I rinse them individually in hot water until I feel the squeak, and I hand dry them with an all-cotton cloth.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I like duct tape. There, I said it. I mean, I really like duct tape. I like the way it looks. I like the way it feels. I like the way it smells. I like the way it sounds. And I really like the way it tastes. Especially when it’s hot and melty, sticky and zelty. (I know, zelty isn’t really a word but I wanted something to rhyme with melty. Yes, I know, melty isn’t really a word either but I was already committed to zelty so …) Where was I? Oh, right, duct tape.

I’m sorry, did I say duct tape? I meant to say pizza. I really like pizza. I like the way pizza looks, feels, smells, sounds and tastes. And I especially like fresh, handmade pizza.

I recently was enjoying a deep-dish “supreme” pizza, and after about my seventh piece (I like to cut them into bite-size pieces just to watch people’s faces when I tell them I ate around 15 pieces of pizza for lunch), I had a revelation about one of the idiosyncrasies of time management.

There is a saying that “if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.” This is because the busy person doesn’t have time to waste. He or she tends to maximize the minutes of their days whereas the average person tends to think in terms of hours. One sees 480 units of time to manage, the other sees eight chunks to get through. One manages, the other muddles. One attacks, the other avoids. One pursues, the other ponders.

With apologies to Ben Franklin, I leave you with this: Watch the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


“Honey, I think Bob’s here.”
“Is it Bob or George?”
“Well, I think it’s Bob, but I’m not sure. They all look alike to me.”
“George is a little darker.”
“I don’t know. Darker? Lighter? They’re pretty much the same.”
“Well, is he staying by the tree or coming up to the door?”
“He’s sort of in between the two, just standing there.”
“Has he seen you?”
“How would I know? It’s not like he’s standing there waving at me. He’s just standing there. Looking at the house.”
“So walk to the door so he can see you.”
“I’m sure he sees me but he’s still just standing there.”
“Did you unlock the door?”
“I’m doing it now.”
“What did he do?”
“He went back by the tree.”
“That’s George. He doesn’t like to come to the door. He wants you to go out to him.”
“No, he wants you to go out to him. He doesn’t really know me.”
“Okay. I’m coming.”

“Well good morning George. How are you?”
George says nothing. Just stands there by the tree, waiting.
“Want some Cheerios, George?”
Still, just stands there silently, waiting.
“Here you go, George. Enjoy.”
George takes his Cheerios, sits and eats by the tree, saying nothing. When he finishes, he leaves.

Next day.
“Honey, Bob’s here.”
“How do you know it’s Bob?”
“Because he’s coming right up to the door, looking in and waiting.”
“I’ll be there in a minute.”
“He’s knocking on the glass.”
“Tell him I’ll be right there.”
“You want me to talk to him? I don’t think so. He likes it when you talk to him.”
“I’m coming.”

“Hey Bob. Wanna peanut?”
Bob puts out his hand and takes the peanut, making quick nothing of the shell and popping the treat in his mouth.
He puts his hand on my knee.
“Want another one?”
He did, and made short order of that one as well.
Bob will typically go through between five and ten peanuts before he leaves. And after each one he politely taps me on the knee and waits.

I never thought I’d feed squirrels on our back patio, much less know the difference between a couple of them or give them names. Bob was, of course, my favorite. He was tame enough to come right up and sit next to me, waiting for his treat. He also ate a lot more treats than George, mainly because he was willing to risk coming up to the door, knock, and wait. And that was the cutest part of Bob. He would wait in the tree until he would see us moving in the kitchen, and would come up to the patio door, stand upright on the glass, and actually “knock” on the door with one of his paws until we opened the door to give him his peanut. So cute.

So what is life’s little lesson in this tale of animal endearment?
Heck if I know. I just thought it was a cute story worth sharing.
Oh wait. Right. That’s the lesson.
Sometimes, “cute” is just as worthy of sharing as “profound.”
That’s the lesson?
Okay, how about this …
If you want to eat better in life, don’t just stand by the tree. Walk up to that door of opportunity, knock and wait for your treat.
How’s that?

Monday, February 22, 2010


It was a particularly heavy snow this morning. About six to seven inches of the stuff made the rear view through our crystal clear patio doors look absolutely beautiful. Winter's usually naked trees and brush now standing gloriously clothed in magnificent, angelic radiance. Proudly posing for picture postcard perfection.
Of course, no such snow-covered splendor could go without running to our front yard to revel in its majesty as well.
And there it was. Our front yard. You know, that part of the yard that includes our driveway. Our rather long and wide driveway. Now looking even longer and wider than usual. The driveway with that 19-3/4 inches worth of snow-plowed slush, mush and ice so considerately placed at the end of our driveway by our local snow-plow driver. An otherwise fine young man I'm sure.
As if to drive the point home as to how heavy the snow was, a branch came crashing down into the pristine snowscape with a reality-deafening thud.
No problem. I'll just fire up the trusty old snowthrower and ... problem. Our trusty old snowthrower gave up its heroic ghost recently so we've been using snow shovels.
Still, how bad could it be? We've shoveled eight inches of snow before.
Another branch came crashing down, gasping as it bore through the white stuff to stop with limb-shattering numbness on the black asphalt.
My wife said, "Maybe you should call someone."
Good idea I thought. I called my buddy Ken who was in his fourth year at college. Strong guy, kind of a math geek, but always willing to help out. I asked him how much weight were we likely going to be shoveling today.
He did the math. Here's the numbers rounded down. Five hundred and forty cubic feet of snow-covered driveway, multiplied by the estimated 18 pounds of equivalent water-weight per cubic foot meant we were going to be shoveling approximately 4-1/2 tons of snow by weight.
"Did you say, four and half TONS?!?" I asked. "TONS??!!" I repeated rather loudly. "You do realize we're using shovels, don't you?"
He said, "Maybe you should call someone."
I called my daughter. The one who has a degree in philosophy. "Have you seen the snow yet this morning?" I asked her.
"Yes. It looks fun, but I think you got more out there than we got in the city. You guys got like eight inches?"
"It's between six and seven," I said. "So, how much do you think it weighs?"
"How much it weighs?" she repeated.
"Yeah. How much it weighs? We've got about five hundred and forty cubic feet of snow on the driveway and..."
She interrupted. "Did you just say five hundred and forty cubic feet of snow? HOW much snow did you guys get?"
"Like I said, between six and seven inches. The driveway's about eighteen feet wide by fifty feet long and when you cube it with the snow depth we've got about five hundred and forty cubic feet of snow. But anyway, my question was, how much do you think it weighs?"
"Five hundred cubic feet of snow and you want me to guess how much it weighs," she said. "Dad, I'm a philosopher. Maybe I could tell you what the snow was thinking, or possibly how the driveway felt, but maybe you should call someone to get the weight answer."
"I already did," I said. "I called Kenny at college. He said it's around four and half TONS. We gotta shovel about four and a half TONS of snow this morning."
"Do you need help?" she asked, I'm sure quite rhetorically. "Maybe you should call someone."
My phone beeped, telling me I had a call waiting. "I'll talk to you later," I said to my daughter. "I've got someone calling in."
"Good morning, this is Mr. Eclectic. Do you know how much snow I have to shovel this morning?" I said rather cheerily.
"Yeah," the somewhat breathy voice said, "About forty cubic feet less than we started with this morning. Get off the phone and get your ass out here and help me shovel." Gone was the sexy breathy voice that began the phone conversation. In its place was the five hundred cubic feet of snow that needed to be shoveled, NOW, voice. (Although I must admit, it was still kind of sexy).
It took us about three and a half hours and let me tell you, four and half tons spread out over 900 square feet is still very, VERY heavy snow.

So what's today's tip?
Easy, when you have a heavy task in front of you, sometimes it's good to call someone. To ask for their help. Not just to talk about the heaviness of it all.
Really, ask for help.