Useful Information Used Usefully


  1. Welcome To The Jungle– Guns N’ Roses
  2. Shoot To Thrill– AC/DC
  3. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door– Bob Dylan
  4. Since I Have Been Loving You– Led Zeppelin
  5. With Or Without You– U2

Some things make me so angry I want to kick the dog and drown the cat. I want to drive down the sidewalk and run over all of the pedestrians and then for good measure do something far more heinous than all of those put together.

I would share that in more detail but the guys in legal are having a fit now and I am required to tell you that I don’t really want to do any of those things. I have taken literary license and created a fake facade that is designed for the sole purpose of capturing the attention of my readers.

Hmm…I wonder if the guys in legal have a problem with me saying I want to give them all a colonoscopy without the benefit of anesthesia. Of course the guys in legal aren’t all male and at least two of the women gave birth naturally so they aren’t afraid of the aforementioned colonoscopy. Well,  I am not impressed by them because everyone knows that our great grandmothers would give birth and then be back in the fields an hour later.

They make those women in legal look so damn lazy.

Useful Information Used Usefully

Today I was overwhelmed by the noise in the blogosphere. I must have read 2,983,839 posts about the same  topics:

  • How to blog
  • Why To blog
  • How To Deal With Writer’s Block
  • How to make every post useful
  • 872 Things You Must Need To Know

Dammit, none of them were smart enough to use a headline like How To Have Better Sex Through Blogging. It is not all that hard to write, hell let’s give it a quick try.

Blogging is a fantastic way to help you and your partner supercharge your sex life. The best and most obvious way is to use your blog as a tool to improve communication between you and your husband/wife/partner/lover.

Better communication leads to increased feelings of comfort and a deeper sense of love and affection. Not to mention it is sometimes easier to tell your honey that they aren’t quite hitting the spot during daylight hours as opposed to during intimacy.

Two minutes is all it took me to write that. I wouldn’t call it stellar but it is better than many. Of course I once wrote a post called The Secret To Better Sex. It was quite successful.

It didn’t generate oodles of comments but it receives regular traffic and the readers tend to click through the links there, none of which deal with tips about how to have sex. There are links to posts about writing and posts about relationships, but nothing that tells you how to touch…

That post also has links to two other posts that are important and useful. One is a post that contains a list of vocabulary words. I love that one because I love words. Here is a short selection:

  • Raconteur-One who tells stories and anecdotes with skill and wit.
  • Callipygianadj.Having beautifully proportioned buttocks.
  • Lachrymoseadj.Weeping or inclined to weep; tearful. Causing or tending to cause tears.
  • Perspicaciousadj. Having or showing penetrating mental discernment; clear-sighted.
  • Flibbertigibbetn. A silly, scatterbrained, or garrulous person.

The second one talks about the death of my grandfather last year and contains stories about my grandparents in general. Been thinking about them quite a bit lately and wondering what they might say about some of the things that are going on.

One day I hope to build the sort of relationship with my grandchildren that I had with my grandparents. When I think about the things I am doing now and the plans I am making I see their fingerprints and feel their presence.

These plans are mine and none of them could have predicted any of this but that is ok. Where I see the connections are the work I am doing to take care of my family. They would understand and appreciate it.

Still it would have been fun to watch their faces while I tried to explain whether there is a difference between a dad blogger and a regular blogger.

Ask For What You Want & What You Need

Sometimes life provides you with the opportunity to get more than what you need and you can ask for what you want. If you want to be happy you need to figure out what you need. When you understand this and have identified what brings you joy you can develop a plan to obtain these things.

One of the useful pieces of information that blogging provided for me were the answers to many of these questions.

This is part of Just Write #40.

The Most Valuable Possession


It is Friday night of the weekend of my sister’s wedding and my parents are hosting Shabbos dinner for friends and family from out of town. Dessert has been served and the kids are running around with their cousins while the grownups drink coffee and talk. I am standing outside on the terrace staring at streaks of orange and red and thinking about my grandfather. It is only a week since he died and his absence is palpable.

The painted sky is simply beautiful and I can’t help but think about how this is one of those moments where all of my grandparents would have told me to try and burn all I see and feel into memory. It makes complete sense to me to do so. In so many ways memory is the most valuable possession that we own. Sometimes it is the most painful but I try to focus on the positive and think of it as being the most precious, most beautiful and most valuable.Sunset in Shenandoah 1

Midway through my musings I have this bizarre thought that 25 miles north of me my grandfather lies in a box that is buried beneath a mound of dirt. He was claustrophobic and for a long time very unhappy about the idea of being placed inside the casket. Long ago I promised him that if he knocked on the casket I would stop everything and pull him out. I remember telling him that there were better ways to get attention than to be buried alive and he told me to stop being a smartass, but the smile on his face made it clear that he appreciated it.

The day of the funeral I made a point of bending over to whisper, “grandpa, this is it. Knock three times on the ceiling and I’ll get you out of there.”  If you haven’t noticed I have a dark sense of humor but he appreciated it and that is all that matters. He didn’t knock and so we carried him over to his body’s final destination and I watched as he was lowered into it. I suppose that it is important to clarify that I wasn’t the person who verified that he was inside- but  I have to believe that no errors were made.

However I can verify that the rabbi and I made sure that the entire casket was covered in dirt.  My sunglasses hid the look in my eyes as my shovel rained dirt down upon him. It is not the first time that I have helped to bury a loved one and it probably won’t be the last. Some people don’t like it but I take it seriously. It is one of the last courtesies that we can extend to those who wander off into whatever lies beyond the pale.

Saturday night there was another family function and I found myself standing in front of the home I grew up in with my kids, cousins, nieces and nephews. We tossed around a football and I watched boys who used to be babies turn into almost pre-teens before my eyes and thought about how much has happened. Close your eyes and life has a way of getting away from you.

It reminded me of people long gone and some just removed from my life who spoke about potential and living up to it. That is something that I sometimes find troubling…potential. Or maybe it is more appropriate to say that I find unfulfilled potential to be troubling. It sometimes eats away at me and I get lost in the land of what could have been and perhaps what could be. It is a line of thought that I try not to get caught up in as it is not real productive to dig at the wounds of what I wish could have been. I don’t have many regrets, but those that I do are…painful.

That is not the sort of possession that I am real fond of, but I suppose they help to make me who I am. From a different perspective we could say that they help to make me who I am going to be. Yep, I said going to be because who I am today is not who I am going to be tomorrow. That is not supposed to be some sort of goofy philosophical comment but acknowledgement that what is happening today is having a significant impact upon me now.

I wonder what sort of possessions this experience will leave me with.


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His 97th Birthday

My grandfather turned 97 today. Ninety-seven years-old. I keep repeating that number. He was born during WWI and remembers when the fire engines were pulled by horses. We spent a few minutes talking about the 198,987 changes that the world has undergone since his birth. He is still very alert. He watches the news, reads the paper and interacts with almost everyone he comes in contact with.

I think that the two biggest changes from his 96th birthday is that physically he has slowed down a little bit more and of course this time Grandma wasn’t here to help celebrate. The first birthday without her in almost 80 years. He surprised me by not talking about her. Normally he would spend a few minutes talking about grandma and how much he misses her.

I didn’t take his silence to mean that anything has changed inside his head because that is inconceivable and not in a Princess Bride sort of way. I know that he talks to her all the time. Tonight my mom brought out a picture of Grandma from 1933. She was 19 and less than a year away from marrying grandpa. When he looked at her picture his eyes softened and I think that I might have seen a wistful smile pass across his face.

He used to tell me that I couldn’t see the girl he saw. He would say that I saw an old woman but that he saw the girl he fell in love with. Sometimes I would tease him and ask him what would happen when General Sherman called him back to active duty. He always laughed at that or maybe I should say that he always laughs at it. He is still very much here.

They celebrated 76-six years of marriage and even more birthdays  together. It was quite the run. I am happy and proud to have been around for the past 40 some years to share in the festivities. Just before I left I told him that since he has 23 years left he better get back on the treadmill. I said that if he thinks that 97 is tough just wait until he hits 110.

He laughed and so did his eyes. That made me happy because the laughter in his eyes proved that he was truly happy. Seemed to me like he had a pretty good birthday and at 97 he deserves it.


Old Jewish Cemetery, Vienna

Dear Grandpa,

You died about 4.5 years ago and much has happened since then. I don’t think that I have told you about all of it. In fact I am sure that I never told you that they fired me the day of your funeral. Didn’t tell you about the text messages and emails that they sent me during the funeral asking me to call in. My phone was off so I didn’t get them during the service. It was only when I got back to mom and dads that I discovered them. They called me again and told me that they they were sorry that you had died and that I shouldn’t come in the next day.

I haven’t aired this sort of dirty laundry here, at least not this story. I haven’t shared it for a variety of reasons but for some reason today feels like an appropriate time to share some of it.  I took the call in the car and said what I had to say. Then I walked into the house and looked at my father. He has your blue eyes you know. I didn’t say anything about it. I didn’t mention it because it wasn’t that important. He had lost his father. Just a short time earlier we had stood graveside and he had told us about how you were his hero and how much he would miss you.

How could I tell him. I know my father and I knew that he would try to comfort me. I knew that he would say fuck ’em and tell me that I was better off.  All true and all accurate. I had been trying to get out of there so they made it easier. But the moment wasn’t about me. It was about my father. Grandma was long since gone and so was Uncle Jimmy. Once you died that meant that dad was an orphan, albeit a 60 something year old orphan, but an orphan nonetheless. I didn’t know how he would feel. I mean I knew that he would miss you terribly but I didn’t know if it would be made worse by not having Uncle Jimmy around. There are things that siblings understand about parents that no one else can get, not even a spouse.

So I walked inside, picked up my daughter and hugged her tight. Her brother came over and grabbed my hand and tugged on it. It seemed surreal, you were gone, the construction on the house wasn’t close to being completed and I had two small children. I did my best to hold a poker face, but you know that it is not something that I am very good at it. You and dad were/are card players. Maybe it is more accurate to say that dad recognized my tell and asked me to tell him what happened. Really, I shouldn’t be surprised that he knew that there was something more. How many times did the three of us sit together communicating in silence.

Anyway, I told him what happened and got the expected response from him. I made a point of shifting the conversation quickly. I didn’t want to focus on me. I was furious about it. Even though it was demonstrative of the character of the people I had been working for, it wasn’t right. But there is a time and place for those things and that was neither.

I remember walking to the bathroom next to my old bedroom. Our picture was hanging on the wall. It is the one of you, dad, your father and myself. I am about 18 months or so in it. I remember staring at it and thinking about how young you looked in it because you were. I was 37 when you died and you were about 92. So in that picture you weren’t even 60. Can’t tell you if you had gone gray yet because the picture is in Black and White. 😉

Your great granddaughter talks about you relatively often. She likes to pretend that she is you. She hikes up her pants and and acts silly. It is bittersweet to me because she doesn’t remember you. Sure, she knows who you were and she recognizes your face in pictures but she doesn’t know the grandfather that I remember. When I coach her soccer team and see my folks on the sidelines it reminds me of you and it makes me smile because she is building the same sort of relationship that we had. But I am selfish and I want more time with my grandfather.

I am selfish because I got a small taste of getting to know you as a man and not a boy. I miss your stories. We can’t tell them as well as you could. I miss sharing secrets with you. Sure, whenever I come to visit you I make a point of telling you one or two, but it is not the same as having you sit across from me. You never knew about this blog but you would have enjoyed it. You always enjoyed my writing and most of the time I enjoyed sharing it with you. I qualified that because when I was younger it was harder doing that.

Blame it on youth. You always said that you couldn’t screw an old head on young shoulders and you were right. Life changes us, or should I say life experiences change us. I have written a bunch of posts about you. There are keywords in them that trigger memories for me. And I share those memories with your great grandchildren. They are all getting so big. I look at my nieces and nephews and my kids and I am amazed. You would be proud of them all.

I am not who I was when you died. Too much has happened but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Changes come and we do our best to roll with them. Just know that you are missed and loved. And when I punch out a boy or two for trying to date your great granddaughter I’ll tell them that you helped teach me how to throw a punch. Something tells me that would make you smile. I love you grandpa, got to run now and play dad for a while.

This was part of  The Red Dress Club Memoir Prompt.


Dear Grandma,

I haven’t spoken with you in quite some time and I am not really sure why. I suppose that one could say that it is because you died last year. You died on the day of my 14th anniversary- that is a hell of an anniversary gift. I remember wondering what one does for the 14th. You know how they have that list of things you do, one year is paper, another is diamond, gold etc.

Well, I am not quite sure where death fits on that list. Granted I don’t really pay attention to these things nor do I limit myself to conventional items. You know me, I march to the beat of my own drummer except that dude has no rhythm. And so it goes.

I went to see grandpa today. I try to see him as often as possible. You do know that no one ever thought that he would outlive you. We all expected you to be here longer than you were. Granted you were 96 so no one can call you a slacker or suggest that you didn’t uphold your end of the bargain, but still… Until the last few years you were a powerhouse of energy.

No one believed that you were really in your nineties. Mom says that you had more energy than anyone she knew and I believe her. I remember you walking the stairs to do laundry. You were in your eighties and you refused to let me carry the basket. You do know that you got me into trouble with that one. I got yelled at for not being a gentleman, but I didn’t bother arguing about it.

I don’t say this to upset you, but grandpa is prone to crying now. He misses you terribly and I understand, albeit differently. Seventy-six years of marriage is something that I can’t begin to understand on anything other than the most basic level. You never read this blog but I have written about you here many times. I have written about all of my grandparents.

My thoughts and memories are collected here in this blog. Think of it as a journal that we keep on the computer. Anyway, grandpa cries. He tries to hide the tears but there is no hiding the pain in his voice. I don’t think you would be surprised to hear that he loved you deeply, intensely. Somewhere in this blog is a post where I wrote about his fear of not being able to take care of you.

He told me about how you when you were 16 you would jump on his back and he would run. He told me that he couldn’t believe that he wasn’t strong enough to carry you anymore. He told me that he didn’t see an old lady, but the girl he fell in love with. I get it. I can see those things. When I go visit I often go alone because he doesn’t want his great grandchildren to see him struggle to keep it together.

So I make a point to visit sometimes without the kids and then when he cries I don’t say anything about it. It is a polite fiction that we both live with, but it is not always easy. He doesn’t cry all the time. We have entire conversations where he is composed, but the conversation always comes back to you and that is when things get rough. I’d ask for your advice, but….

There is a lot going on in my life too. So much to tell you, so many stories. Grandma, I am going to be 42 in May. Forty-two, how did that happen. Yesterday you and I walked down Fairfax to buy ice cream. Ok, so maybe that memory is pushing thirty something years, but it feels recent to me.

And did I tell you how big my children are. We booked a Bar Mitzvah date. Granted it is 2.5 years from now, but time moves so quickly. I am frustrated Grandma. There are things going on that just aren’t working for me, but I am actively working on making changes. I am pushing and pulling and doing my best to just go with things. Did I ever tell you that I always admired how easily you adapted to whatever happened.

You made it seem effortless. I know that there were times when it wasn’t. I know lots of things and lots of stories, but still. You were always one of the happiest people I know. To be clear, I wouldn’t say that I am unhappy, but I am not joyful either. That is why I am working on making the changes.

Anyway, it is after 2 AM and I need to get some sleep. But before I go I want to ask that if somehow these words reach you, can you go visit grandpa. Can you somehow let him know that you are not really gone. It would mean more to him than you know.


Your oldest grandson