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{March 15, 2014}   Ketchup With Us #BlogHop 38

It’s time for Ketchup With Us. Held on the 1st & 15th of every month, the link-up gives you two ways to play. You can either (A) set a timer for 10 minutes and write about whatever pops into your head OR (B) link up an old post. Mel and I are easy that way.

For this link-up, I’m choosing A, the brain drain method.

What can I write about? What … can … I … write … about? (dramatic pause) Oooh! I know. I’ll tell you about when the picture below was taken last summer. It involves my dad again. Didn’t I write about him last time? Well, he’s awesome, so there’s why.

Anyway, my family was on vacation last summer. My kids and I actually flew to New York City with my parents (Dave was working at the time) and spent a few days there.  Then, we took a train from there to Philadelphia. And when I say we almost missed that train, I mean I actually hopped over the entrance threshold as the wheels started turning. I really should have done it in slow motion. In black-and-white. I felt like an old-time movie character. But I’m losing focus here.

So, we arrived in Philadelphia, a city I hadn’t seen since I was a very young child, and took in all the usual sights. Even met up briefly with my friend, Mel, and her family who were traveling to visit other family members just north of Philly. Our nine-headed monster of a group did a lot together including the Liberty Bell, the home of Betsy Ross and so much more. When Mel and company had to move on, we finished up in Philadelphia on a bus tour that took us to several more must-see locations.

And remember, I am an idiot. So when *I* say “must-see,” I usually mean something like the diner in Seinfeld, the coffee shop in Friends or the Rocky steps. All of which I have, of course, seen. (Click here for video of that last one. Seriously, it’s like 15 seconds.) Thus, when the opportunity to see the bar behind the offbeat FX comedy series It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia presented itself, I totally hopped off that bus. But my kids certainly weren’t coming with me to a neighborhood bar so my mom stayed back with them and rode on to the next stop but my dad hopped off with me.

He’s actually the one who encouraged me to throw on the red suit and take a picture behind the bar (see below). I guess I DO get it from somewhere. (Love you, too, Mom.)  …. and beep! 10 minutes done.

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Our esteemed Ketchup With Us Featured Writer from last time is …

Coach Daddy

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BEHIND THE KETCHUP

Click here to read how this foolishness all began.

KEEP TRACK OF OUR STUPIDITY

SPREAD THE WORD & POST OUR BUTTON … please!

olddognewtits.com

The embed code for this button is right there in my sidebar. Unfortunately, my site is a tool and won’t let me put it in this actual post. Please grab it from the sidebar. Thanks!

FINALLY … THE LINK-UP!

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We give you a picture to inspire you to KetchupWithUs. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we’ll share this one. It was taken last summer at Paddy’s Pub, the bar that serves as the inspiration for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

All you need to do is link something up … and tell your friends. Before Ketchup makes the endangered species list!

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My son is taking quarterly exams all week. He’s in his first year of high school. Which, in these (backwards) parts, means he’s only in 8th grade. He attends school with boys his age as well as with up to 18 and 19-year-old MEN. When I went to pick him up today, he ran a little late so I passed the time by checking in with my friend, Virginia.

Step lively in the future, Dean. Because next time, I’m bringing bunny slippers and cold cream in the car with me. And possibly a megaphone.

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I make myself laugh. Which is a good thing because I’m not sure if I actually do that for anyone else. Nonetheless, I shared the text screen captures with a few friends and family members who recommended I post them here. And my brother is holding me to it for next time. He’s daring me.

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Game on, Uncle Jeff.

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I’m sitting outside my daughter’s ballet class watching a room full of girls moving beautifully to Christina Perri’s A Thousand Years. Have you heard it? It’s simply lovely. Give it a listen.

It’s a dreary day in my part of the world. It’s been raining for hours here with more expected this evening. And I’m on day 13, literally, of a nasty cold that (I’m amateurishly diagnosing) has become a sinus infection. I’m not feeling very funny today. I’m a little low and achy but mostly I find my mind drifting, often, to a dark subject.

In the past two weeks, two men (one a friend of Dave’s and one of mine) passed away very suddenly. They were both fathers of kids the same ages as mine. They were both in their 40s. They were both very good men. And I find myself struggling to come to grips with all of it.

I’m no stranger to death. As early as age eight, I witnessed the accidental death of a friend a few years younger than me. And since then, I’ve experienced my share of loss of both family members and friends. It’s always a sad thing. And it’s always something from which we must gather the broken pieces of ourselves and somehow move forward, lending a hand, ear or shoulder to those around us who need it.

Maybe these recent deaths are different for me because I am now a parent. And these are fellow parents. In my circles. There have actually been a few at my children’s school over the years …. a mother who lost her long battle with cancer, another mother who died suddenly in her sleep, a father who was killed in a boating accident and another father who very sadly took his own life. It never makes sense to me. And I’m usually a very firm believer in the whole “Everything happens for a reason” business.  (Why did I have to get into that fender bender? Oh, it was to keep me from being in that fatal accident two minutes down the road. Now, I get it.)

Over the years, I’ve known several young people who have been diagnosed with and battled different forms of cancer. Some have won their battles. Some have not. Why do young people, young parents with young children, have to die? What could possibly be the “reason” for that? I have no idea. So, if you’re hoping I will eventually answer that question for you in this post, then you’re going to be very disappointed. Because I’ve got nothing.

All I can take away from it is this. A little over two years ago, a chest x-ray found a tumor on my lung. I don’t know why. I don’t smoke. Nor have I ever lived with anyone who does. But I had one. And while my family and friends secretly worried and tiptoed around me, I stared blankly at my future, absolutely certain I would come out fine on the other side of my surgery. But how could I have been sure? Did I think I was immortal? I guess I hadn’t really learned yet that parents of young children can die. It’s a good thing I was right about my outcome. I was lucky.

I’m praying for all of you who aren’t. And I’m praying for your children, too. I hope to remember this feeling always. And not to waste a minute of my life. It’s a gift.

“I will be brave
I will not let anything
Take away
What’s standing in front of me
Every breath,
Every hour has come to this”

C. Perri & D. Hodges

Editor’s Note: Thanks to this blog, I was just reminded that I’m due (overdue) to visit my doctor again to confirm that I’m still good. I think I’ll make that call tomorrow.

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Submitted to MamaKat’s weekly writing prompt asking us to “Talk about a time you got lucky.” I’m not sure if this is exactly how she meant it, but my post references what is easily one of the luckiest moments in my life to date.

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We just got home from our family vacation yesterday. And Dave posted this picture on his Facebook page.

By now, just about every family has compared itself to the infamous Griswolds. But when I actually started thinking about them … and this particular trip … I came up with some pretty interesting ways that we’re alike. And some that we’re different, too. What do you think?

1. Family Structure. There are four of us … father, mother, son & daughter … just like in the movie. At one point, I think I even heard Dave call Dean “Rusty.” Under his breath, of course. And then he offered him his first beer. (I’m kidding.) (At least I hope I’m kidding.)

2. Objective. We spent the past week driving to Wally … I mean Disney World. What’s the difference? Moose, mouse. (It’s literally only one letter.)

3. Travel Vehicle. Their family truckster was a woody wagon and ours was a Honda Pilot. The concept was the same, except we were lucky enough to have all of our luggage, toiletries and beloved family members within. (Thanks to the fold-in-floor seats.)

4. Kids Electronics. It’s 2014 so my boy was sporting his Beats by Dre and my girl her free ear buds from a past flight. Wow, that doesn’t seem fair at all, does it? (And you never know. They could have been listening to The Ramones.)

5. Singing Parents. Mockingbird? Please. We can do better than that. Among the songs we belted out were Defying Gravity, Rich Girl, Forever Young and Caught Up in You by .38 Special. (Thanks to a  billboard we passed in Mississippi for an upcoming casino show.)

6. Visit with Extended Family. Well, no. Dave doesn’t have a cousin Eddie. But we did see his brother and family during our vacation. And all the kids went off on their own for a while. (Gosh, I hope they didn’t learn anything inappropriate.)

7. Christie Brinkley. The only flashy blonde we kept seeing was my friend, Vanessa. (I wonder if she and Dave ever went swimming together on the trip.)

8. Aunt Edna. We did not lose an elderly aunt on the trip, but Dave did lose a pair of sunglasses and his phone charger. (And I bet together they weigh about the same as Imogene Coca.)

9. Park Closure. Thankfully, Disney World wasn’t closed when we got there. But Splash Mountain was. And that’s my girl’s favorite ride! Seriously, where’s John Candy when you need him? (Oh, yeah. Never mind.)

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“I found out long ago …
It’s a long way down the holiday road”

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… but you can’t take Disney out of the girl.

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  • Rides that got multiple visits – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (3), Buzz Lightyear (3), Test Track (4), Tomorrowland Speedway (5), Space Mountain (6)
  • Miles walked – 40 (approximately)
  • Modes of transportation taken – car, bus, boat, train, monorail, gondola, spaceship, time machine, faulty elevator, etc.
  • Things lost – sunglasses in the vast expanse of Space Mountain
  • Illnesses – my kids and I all down with colds I brought on the trip
  • Fevers – my girl (poor baby)
  • Braces malfunction – my girl (when it rains, it pours)

And speaking of rain ….

  • Inclement weather – only once when we went to dinner on Tuesday night. Here’s hoping for a decent ride home.

My kids are already planning the next trip. I wonder how much the $12 balloon will cost then. Oh, and you only have a little over one day left to “burgle” my house. (It’s a word. I checked.)

#BlogPostsUnderTheCoversInDarkenedHotelRooms

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Instead of Mardi Gras. Instead of the Oscars. Instead of sleep.

I love these guys.

Thanks, Dave, for being our photographer.

Oh, and this is what a blog post looks like after seeing what Disney World looks like after midnight.

Were you expecting fancy typefaces and $10 words? Yeah? I’m typing from under the covers in a darkened room while everyone else is sleeping. Insomnia rules!

Happy Lundi Gras, everybody!

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{March 1, 2014}   Ketchup With Us #BlogHop 37

It’s time for Ketchup With Us. Held on the 1st & 15th of every month, the link-up gives you two ways to play. You can either (A) set a timer for 10 minutes and write about whatever pops into your head OR (B) link up an old post. Mel and I are easy that way.

For this link-up, I’m choosing A, the brain drain method.

Let me tell you about a special childhood memory that I associate with today. It’s March 1st and, while that’s not the actual date I’m looking for, the day is still very memorable to me. Please allow me to explain. You see, it’s Mardi Gras season here in New Orleans. And this weekend is the big one. Monster parades like Endymion, Bacchus and Orpheus will take to the streets with their electrified and in-some-cases block-long floats carrying all kinds of celebrity Grand Marshals and Krewe Captains.

Over the years, I’ve seen lots of famous faces on those floats. So many that I honestly can’t even remember all of them. My mind is flooded with images of Tom Jones, Dan Akroyd, Henry Winkler, Jackie Gleason, Drew Carey and so many others. But one in particular stands out. Maybe because it was a woman. (That’s still pretty rare for the Grand Marshals.) It was 1978. And it was for the Endymion Parade. The same parade the will roll through the streets of New Orleans tonight.

I was just a little thing which means my brother was even younger. And my mom was not feeling well that night. But Cheryl Ladd was the Grand Marshal. I’m just going to assume right now that I don’t have to explain to anyone who she is. We’ll just call her Farrah’s replacement on a little television show called Charlie’s Angels. (I’ll bet I have younger readers who are now confused and looking up the Drew Barrymore movie to see what I’m talking about.)

My dad was a huge Cheryl Ladd fan. So there was no way we were going to miss her in the parade. I can still remember him telling my mom, “So, I think I’m going to take Michele to the parade tonight, okay?” Then we loaded up the bench ladder (a Mardi Gras staple if you have kids to keep safe and you actually want to see the parade) and were on our way.

I still remember when her float passed. He was able to snag a doubloon she threw in our direction. I think it’s cute when I look back on it. I wonder if my mom does. Hmmmmm.

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Our esteemed Ketchup With Us Featured Writer from last time is …

The Graying Chronicles

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BEHIND THE KETCHUP

Click here to read how this foolishness all began.

KEEP TRACK OF OUR STUPIDITY

SPREAD THE WORD & POST OUR BUTTON … please!

olddognewtits.com

The embed code for this button is right there in my sidebar. Unfortunately, my site is a tool and won’t let me put it in this actual post. Please grab it from the sidebar. Thanks!

FINALLY … THE LINK-UP!

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We give you a picture to inspire you to KetchupWithUs.

All you need to do is link something up.

Oh, and tell your friends!

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My  family is leaving for Disney World soon. But, before you mark your calendars “Burgle Michele’s place,” know these three things:

  1. I’m not a complete bonehead. I’ll have people at my house in our absence.
  2. I have nothing to steal. Truly, I own no pricey jewelry, furs, silver, fine art, antiques, fire arms or fancy electronics (except two VCRs, one of which is broken). My laptop will be with me.
  3. He will be on guard 24/7. (see below)

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The point of this post, you ask? Well, yes. I do have one.

Packing. It’s easily one of my least favorite things to do in the entire world. And the only reason I say “one of” is because I assume something like ditch digging is probably worse. Although I can’t be certain because I’ve yet to try it.

I hate packing for a myriad of reasons. It involves lots of laundry and trying on clothes to create “outfits.” Something that, when I’m feeling fat, I hate even more than packing. So I start thinking about it ahead of time. And obsessing about how I can drop a few pounds to make packing a breeze.

I think my inner voice explains it best. BTW, my inner voice is a jerk. Here’s what it’s been telling me for the past month.

“Okay, we’ve got a month until we leave. We can TOTALLY make a difference with a month.”

“Well, now it’s only two weeks away. But two weeks is still a long time. It’s 14 days. Ooh! We can do it like a cleanse.”

“10 days until we leave. Well, MUCH can be accomplished in ten days. No worries. We’ve still got this.”

“Wow. Is it only a week? Okay. Well, a week is plenty of time if we really apply ourselves.”

“Five days? Really?? Well, that’s how long we went on that Baby Food Diet. And that worked out great.”

“Three days. … Um, well, having three days is still better than NOT having three days. … Right?”

“Two days??? What the … How the freak did THAT happen? That’s, like, only 48 hours. And if we can say it in hours, that can’t be good, can it?”

“Wow. Only one day left. Are we really worrying about this as we binge on chocolate graham crackers? No. You know what? We’re fine. Because we’re driving the whole first day anyway. So it’s really still two days. Plus we won’t actually get to the park until, like, 10am the next morning. So it’s really like we’re still at two and a half days.”

Two and a half days? Seriously? Pish. Rounded up, that’s three whole days. Which is almost five. So it’s practically a week! Please. No problem.

Game on, fat ass.

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Dear Josh Hutcherson,

Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m Vivien’s mom. That’s all that really matters as far as this letter is concerned. Vivien is my daughter. My only girl. 20140219-125210.jpg

That sweet kid is my BFF. (Tied with my own mom, of course).

Vivien is a happy, spirited 11-year old who loves to sing and dance so much that she can hardly sit still. She LOVES her friends, she LOVES her stuffed animals and she LOVES her Disney & Nickelodeon tween shows. She’s young in years and young at heart. And she’s never had a real crush on anyone.

Until now.

You know where I’m going with this … right, Peeta? We saw Catching Fire at the movie theater FIVE times. Please know that I have never before seen any movie at the theater five times. And I can’t begin to count the number of times she’s watched the first movie now that we own it on DVD. She even read the trilogy multiple times. She loves the storyline. She loves Peeta. And she loves you.

Case in point. Here’s a sampling of her bedroom walls BEFORE you came into the picture.

20140219-122307.jpg And here’s what I’m dealing with NOW. 20140219-122652.jpg

Don’t get me wrong. She loves Jennifer, too. But, clearly, YOU are winning. Over Jennifer AND kittens. (Those poor kittens never stood a chance.)

So why am I writing you? That’s a great question, Josh. I’m glad you asked. Here’s why. Because I need you to keep it together. Like totally together. You’re right in there with Justin, Miley, Demi, Lindsay and so many others who have disappointed me and several million other people by really screwing up.

Calm down. I know what you’re thinking.

“Geez. Lay off, Vivien’s mom. I’m young. Everybody makes mistakes.”

And to that I say,

“Yes, you’re right, Josh. But you’re a role model for kids, specifically MINE. And, frankly, if I hear anything about drug addiction, DUIs or public displays of ‘crazy,’ I can promise you I’m going to be madder than your own mother.

Don’t make me angry, Josh. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

There’s nothing wrong with keeping it together. Seriously, it’s not “uncool.” (And I’m condescendingly using air quotes here … which is hard because I’m also typing.) The Jonas Brothers, Dakota Fanning and even your lovely co-star Jennifer Lawrence all seem to be keeping themselves out of trouble and keeping it real (or however you guys are saying it these days).

For now, I’m fine with your face on her walls … and her books … and even her earrings. You seem like a sweet guy and I’ve been impressed with your performances in Hunger Games and Catching Fire as well as Bridge to Terabithia and both of the Journey movies. (And, seriously, we deserve points for taking in that second one. More than once.)

Just remember that, along with all of the other Hunger Games and JHutch memorabilia we now have here in the house, we also have one of these little guys.

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Pocket Josh was one of her Valentine’s presents. (Along with ham, so you were in good company.)

And I’m a native New Orleanian. Do you know about New Orleans, Josh? We’re famous for our hurricanes, our amazing food and our history with a form of black magic called Voodoo. This little action figure would make a nice Voodoo doll, don’t you think?

But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. I’m sure you know better. And I look forward to watching you grow into your adult acting career. Maybe one day Vivien and I will even get to meet you. But only if you keep your promise to me today. You DO promise to behave, right?

Do it now. Make the promise. Until then, I’ll just keep these pins and matches in the drawer next to Pocket Josh.

Sincerely, 

Vivien’s Mom

(aka Michele Robert Poche)

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Inspired by the MamaKat writing prompt: Share something that made you smile this week. How about the fact that my girl is starting to follow in my footsteps(sniff)

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Darling Dame


{February 15, 2014}   #KetchupWithUs #BlogHop 36

In the interest of saving time, Mel and I are employing an old writer’s trick for our KetchupWithUs link-up parties. We set a timer for 10 minutes and start typing, literally writing about whatever pops into our heads for that time period. Then, we hit “publish.” Feel free to use the same idea for your post OR link up whatever you want. Easiest. Link-up. Ever. Aaaaaaand ….. go!

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Ten minutes. Ummmmm. What can I say in ten minutes? Especially with a self-inflicted stomach ache brought on by an overdose of Maple Nut Goodies. It’s Valentine’s Day after all. Stupid Nut Goodies. My stomach is literally killing me.

I guess it’s because I missed breakfast. Oh, and lunch. I had a meeting today (with wonderful people who are probably reading this blog post … but I mean the compliment sincerely!). So I skipped breakfast. Sadly normal. And then worked right on through lunch. By the time I walked back into my house, it was 2pm and there they were. The little bastards. Sitting right there on the table next to all the other Valentine’s loot.

Honestly, I don’t even know why I like them. I don’t like any other candy that isn’t chocolate. Not any. And yet I give these somewhat nasty, über sweet candies a hall pass. I think it’s because they remind me of being a kid. My parents sold health food back then. As a little side thing. So we never had this kind of stuff in the house. Ever. I was exposed to some of the nastiest health foods you can imagine. Soy burgers (before anybody knew what the hell soy even was) and some orange drink that tasted like a blend of chewable orange vitamins and paste. It literally formed a froth at the top. (shudder)

But … when I went to the mall, all bets were off. Especially if we went to Sears where they used to have a candy counter with a wall of glass boxes filled with all kind of candy. I only remember two kinds. The first were the red-shelled pistachios. I wanted them so badly so I could pretend the shells were my fingernails. But I HATED the nuts. So that plan never really flew with my parents.

And, of course, the Maple Nut Goodies. Jawbreaking little pieces of Heaven. My dad liked them, too. So we used to enjoy them together. He still picks them up for me from time to time. And I, now an adult with my own money and a car enabling me to buy them 24/7/365, still look at every bag as though it could be the last. And I eat them like the fat kid in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory.

Augustus Gloop.

You guys didn’t think I forgot his name, did you? Seriously? You know me better than that. Well, Viva las Nut Goodies. And on with the show!

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Our esteemed Ketchup With Us Featured Writer from last time is …

Shakespeare’s Mom

* * * * * * * * * *

BEHIND THE KETCHUP

Click here to read how this foolishness all began.

KEEP TRACK OF OUR STUPIDITY

SPREAD THE WORD & POST OUR BUTTON … please!

olddognewtits.com

The embed code for this button is right there in my sidebar. Unfortunately, my site is being a tool and won’t let me put it in this actual post. Please grab it from the sidebar. Thanks!

FINALLY … THE LINK-UP!

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We give you a picture to remind you to KetchupWithUs.

All you need to do is link something up.

Oh, and tell your friends!

20120407-223706.jpg

Darling Dame


et cetera
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