Happiness is …



The longlasting power of cassette tape

From the attic of random memories

One year back in high school – 1989, me thinks? – I did a theme gifts for a handful of close friends. I distributed cassette tape singles of songs that reminded of that person. (And yes, I know this is cheesier than Lambeau Field, but please note I said “high school”)
she's my sunshine ... and she's so fine ...
To this day I remember a handful of the songs. To one female friend, a longtime subject of my unrequited love, I gave this. To a hip male bud who sweated enthusiasm, I gave this. And so it went.

To another dear friend, and a dear friend is what she was and continues to be, I gave the gift of Dino. It fit her. This dear friend seemed always to be chirpy, smiling through the halls as if mandatory. Her attitude was more contagious than a giggle. When I think of the people from back in the day who made me who I am, she’s in the top 5.

I have no idea if she remembers my random holiday gift, but I do. It popped in my head this morning when I saw it was her birthday. I hope she gets a giggle out of this.

Happy birthday, Christie. Keep beaming.

(As an aside, a couple years ago a friend introduced me to iTunes. He bragged it contained every song you could think of. My immediate challenge? Anything by Dino. Sigh. Apple is so overrated.)

Stick men

Gabby’s boyfriend Carter and his friend cray-Ze branch out their attempts to entertain themselves while tailgating. The battle of the sticks has actually become a reoccurring incident, with someone’s parent at some point putting an end to the all natural sword fights. Me? I saw carry on. Their bark is worse than Gavin’s bite. As you see, Gabby often joins in, but she believes in flower power.

Side note, I told cray-Ze’s dad that it was rather bad form to have his son parading around in Yankees attire. His reply? “Well, someone has to class it up around here.”

Hugs and misses

A great photo from my friends The Lockwoods, showing Gabby saying goodbye to new friend Abigael and old friend Reilly.

During Gabby and I’s recent trip down to Flavaville, we joined some friends for a day at the park. It was a mini-high school reunion of mine, with three great friends and their kids coming out to bask (bake?) at a park in our hometown.

Random robservations –

– Abigael became quickly attached to Gabby. Soon after they met, she walked up to me and asked.

ABIGAEL: Can my best friend come back with me to my grandma’s house?

ME: Who’s your best friend?

ABIGAEL: (points to Gabby).

– Prior to the park, Gabby and I had gone to a thrift store. In it we found two Disney princess gowns (Sleeping Beauty and Tinkerbell) along with what I think was once a flowergirl dress for a wedding. (Toal bill – $9, I know bargains).

At the park, Gabby wanted to show off her new dresses to her friends. After doing so, she put on one of the Disney dresses – over her clothes – and proceeded to run around and play without a care – or heat stroke – to her day.

At one point she enticed Reilly to don the rather mutil-layered flower girl dress. Reilly numbly stood there for several seconds while Gabby attempted to entice her to play. Reilly looked to her mom with an expression of, “save me.” She did.

– Abigael’s dad knows how to grow a mustache.

– Mountain living has made me soft. I wore sandals to the park, forgetting that every step sucks in a “day at the beach” worth of sand between my toes. I changed to sneakers. Then I worked hard to escape the sun. Even the sparse shade of the monkey bar branches brought limited relief. It was around 90 degrees. Felt like 100.. on asphalt … wearing all black … under a magnifying glass. I loathed it, but kept on a smiling face.

Gabby must be the anti-me. She had no qualms with the sun, even under two layers of clothes. When we later arrived at my mom’s house, I had her take the dress off. Her original outfit was near soaked with sweat. But never did she complain.

– It amazes me that four high school friends can all seem to spawn simultaneously.

– I generally enjoy these min-reunions, until I have to leave. My dear friends from that era long ago have their own lives in zipcodes far from mine. I catch myself daydreaming that somehow, someway, we all end up retiring to the same neighborhood. We share stories, enjoy company and watch our children inter-date.

*SIGH* You never can go home again.

Canoe keep a straight face

Riding the canoe ride at Family Kingdom in Myrtle Beach.

This is probably my favorite photo from the vacation. It’s not often Gabby will let me take a photo without her cheesing out. Her calm and serene pose betrays the trauma from her previous ride, when she was in the backseat of a toddler airplane. The noise of other kids shooting their guns, the up and down motions and the grinding of the gears had her screaming and crying. They stopped the ride early to let her off, the only ride she has never taken without a smile.

This canoe was just what she needed.

You never know from where prayers will come

Last Saturday a friend of mine, Clayton, celebrated his 40th birthday.

Just the day before, Friday, he was diagnosed with cancer.

Happy 4-Oh-No.

He’s taking the new pretty well, I guess. Clayton carries with him an air of good humor. He could make a mime laugh out loud. He’s Norm from Cheers, only with a much better attitude and higher tolerance for alcohol. He’s allergic to bad moods (at least, I think he is).

He’s a huge Appalachian State football fan, and was at the big game at Michigan. When boarding the plane for the flight home, he somehow managed to grab the incabin CB and make a special announcement to the passengers on-board. I was told it went something like this.

Attention please, attention please. I have an important announcement to make. The No. 5-ranked Michigan Wolverines just got their butt kicked by Appalachian State University! Enjoy your flight home!

Hi-fives decorated his trip down the aisle, of course.

I see Clayton every fall at our regular tailgate. When he’s around, a good time is always had by all. He’s been to just about every home game the past few seasons, and every championship at Chattanooga. He even once won a raffle for two seats in the chancellor’s box. He went. It was like inviting a Red Bull to a wine tasting. Way too much decorum and properness for a man like Clayton. “Cheer, people, CHEER! There’s a football game goin’ on out there!”

He came back into the stands after halftime. He brought with him napkins full of cookies – “Compliments of the chancellor.”

Tuesday Clayton was coming to terms with a second opinion and his impending intensive chemotherapy sessions. He was checking the many voicemail messages on his cell phone when one just jumped out at him. Somehow. Someway. For some odd reason. An ASU football player had left a message on his phone.

What in the world … ?

The player was Justin Woazeah. He said he wanted to wish Clayton the best and let him know he was in his prayers. Later that night, the two actually talked. Clayton was floored and much appreciative. Justin just said he heard of Clayton’s situation from a friend and wanted to offer some support. If there was anything he could do, let him know. Until then, he was praying for him.

I’m still not sure how Justin got wind of Clayton (Kevin Bacon is somehow involved .. I think), but nonetheless it was beyond cool what he did.

If you’re interested, Clayton has a blog setup here. For now, his spirits are as strong as his annual fourth-quarter admonishments of the Georgia Southern defense. (He really doesn’t like those guys).

I look forward to seeing you back in Boone, big man. You’re in my prayers too.

How cool is this cool quarterback

I’ve told this story to a couple friends, who since insist I repeat it for their friends. Seeing as it appears to be popular, I’ll share it with you.

A couple of weeks ago Gabby’s boyfriend had a birthday party. He’s a big ASU football fan (like son, like father), and his dad invited some ASU players to the shindig. Four showed up for pizza – CoCo Hillary, Leonard Love, Robert Welton and Jerome Touchstone. The party took place at the Holmes Center prior to a basketball game.

Future Mountaineer with two current great ones
Big G with Leonard Love and Jerome Touchstone

After the pizza and presents, the players went their own way and the birthday party group camped out beside the pep band (Birthday boy looooovvvves the pep band). Lo and behold, sometime during the game Armanti “Superman” Edwards came our way and joined the party. This was akin to Tim Tebow showing up at a Florida basketball game, or Tyler Hansbrough at a UNC football game, and just hanging with some toddlers.

Yes, Gabby got his autograph
Kids love Armanti

Armanti sat with us for most of the game, signing autographs, posing for photos and playing catch with the birthday boy. For a kid turning four, what better way to celebrate then being Hans Batichon to Armanti’s short bombs (they were tossing a stress basketball).

How cool
Simulated game situation

Sometime during the late game maddness (ASU lost at the buzzer), Armanti disappeared as quietly as he arrived. The birthday boy’s parents couldn’t have been prouder. Any ASU football fan would be.

Now here’s the cool part of the story.

The next day at church I was talking to a youngster about the game. I asked if he went. The fifth-grader missed it. Needling him, I said too bad. Armanti sat with us at the game. You could have met him!

His reply, “I see Armanti all the time. My mom drops me off at the campus library after school every day to do my homework. Armanti is always in there, reading to kids. I see him all the time.”

Thought No. 1 – We cheer the coolest quarterback evah!

Thought No. 2 – I wonder if I can get the ASU cheerleaders to Gabby’s birthday party in June?

Needed, nay begged- Your used SI

All diapers will be embedded with a Furman logo in the back
Come on and help a Mountaineer out

WANTED: Your current issue of Sports Illustrated!

WHEN: Whenever you’re done with it. It’s all good.

HOW: Drop me a line. We’ll work it out.

WHY: Glad you asked:

No. 1 – With the ongoing renovation of our house slowly (hopefully) soon to be complete, my boy Big G will have his own room. I’m gonna App it up, smother it in so much black and gold it would make a Catamount’s eyes vomit. An SI border would set it off just right.

No. 2 – Boone is teeny tiny, smaller than Chris Berman’s modesty and about as developed. I can count on one hand the number of local outlets that stock SI. This week’s issue is the Jessica Alba of Mountaineer football fantasies. Everyone wants a piece, but there’s a limited supply of Valtrex available. (Yes that was was totally uncalled for and completely horrid of me, but so was her contribution to Fantastic Four)

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