26 months

This morning I was sitting at the Orange County airport in sunny California when the clouds rolled in. They were the not so good clouds. They were the clouds of a friend that fought, and fought hard. They were the clouds of a Dad that loved his children. They were the clouds of a racer that didn't have to win to enjoy his fellow racers. They were the clouds of a friend who has moved to the next chapter. They were the clouds of a friend that was fighting pancreatic cancer. They were the clouds of a battle. They were the clouds of strength. They were clouds of persistence. They were clouds of... Brian. It was all for you brother! That crazy day in Mobile, Alabama. And all of the times we both tried to connect in Chicago, yet it never happened. You are loved and will be missed, never forgotten. You are a legend! All my love, rest in peace.

Retire the racer

Well, this is a tough decision to make, but it has to be made. As much fun as it's been, I'm not getting any younger and I just don't have as much time on my hands any more (see I'll do it now, I'll do it later). I will be retiring from lawnmower racing. There, I said it. I would like, though, one favor... To all the racers in Mobile, AL, may I please come race with you one last time? I'm not sure when, its a long haul from NC and I have a few repairs I need to do before I can run again, but I would be honored to race for the last time with such a great group of people! Afterwards, 404 will be for sale or parted out. 302 will be for sale although she is nothing more than a rolling chassis, but does come with MCP brakes, EC front end, Douglas polished aluminum wheels all around with Carlisle rubber on 1.25" rear axle. To all of the friends I've raced with or met at a race or know because of someone that I have raced with or met at a race, I thank you! You are absolutely the best friends. Never has there been a sport (or anything) where I have felt so at home, like everyone is family. You have watched my children while I've been on the track, we've shared hotel rooms in some distant city, I've had tears in my eyes the first time we met (special shout out there to Brian, hang in there brother, the world is cheering for you!). We've raised awareness together (Mike, can't wait to see the movie) through contributions to the cause. So many more... I'm not leaving you, just the track! It's never been about winning... It's not about crossing the finish line first. I've lost and almost won and lost again. It's the thrill of the moment, the feel of 12 horses between your legs (which is not a safe feeling by the way). It's about gas and grass and 00 grease. Shiny side up and rubber on the dirt. Slinging sod they say! And we all win, because we are in it together. You have all been the biggest extended family I've ever known - love ya, mean it! - talk to you soon!!! (And one last race to come) just10things special report: there will be no just10things tonight  

An American in paradise, a mini series, part one

I haven't flown the "other" airlines in years, but I was pleasantly surprised this morning after letting the gate agent know that my connecting flight was international, I was moved ahead in the boarding line to ensure I would not have to gate check my bag.  Day one starts out good! It feels more like driving a lawnmower that a car, but I promise, that little four door super sub compact is a car. I have a map, thanks to the car rental agency, but I have no idea how to read historical documents, and with no GPS, I'm on my own, destine to get lost. The path from the airport to the resort should be easy, left out of the parking lot and right at the next three roundies, then go past the resort because a right turn is illegal there, do a u-turn and you're there. Somehow it worked. I'm all checked in and unpacked. A storm had blown up on the south side of the island and it's raining, but I don't really care, I'm surrounded by clear blue water, palm trees and sand. Time to venture out for groceries. Everything is apparently closed on Sunday as I try to pretend I have a sense of direction. I found a C-Store, get a few things and have no idea where I am. In the pouring rain, I somehow manage to navigate back but end up three miles past where I need to be. That doesn't seem bad, but on an island of 36 square miles, pathetic. I'll go look for a proper grocery store tomorrow. Time for a drink. Appropriately, I'm introduced to Old Man Punch, a slightly improved version of Rum Punch with the added flavor of guava, and a little bit stronger. Every bar needs a bar parrot. Gizmo is a scarlet macaw that perches on the back of barstools. She likes fruit and giving (bird) kisses and has stolen the heart of many men. She also likes Corona. I just might be in love, I mean, she's a pretty good conversationalist, but never talks back. We had a few too many and I spent the rest of the evening sleeping it off on the back porch, rocked gently by the sound of salty water slapping the sand. The sun is out today and I can't wait for the next adventure, after coffee, of course. Odd, but French Press on the Dutch side, oh well, it's tasty. I opted out of the $25 three hour bus tour of the island for the 5 hour get lost on your own tour, have rental car, will drive. Ten in the morning cruising Front Street in my lawnmower, um, compact car, and nothing is open yet. Time to explore. Keep the sea to the right and you'll be good. Words cannot do justice to the beauty of rolling mountains of green contrasting the bright blue waters as I wind up and down without a destination. I pass through Dutch Quarter and find myself at Dawn Beach where I park at the Westin and visit for a bit. A lovely bartender suggests a few destinations and a couple of safety tips as well as parking regulations in Phillipsburg (or, how not to get towed) as I swallow the last of my drink and bid farewell. I passed through Oyster Pond and stumbled upon a butterfly farm on my way to Orient Bay where I answered the question, "Why did I not bring swim trunks to the Caribbean?" My, those are some serious tan lines I have, I cannot stay too long, them parts will burn quick in the hot sun. Beach chair: $7 Sex on the Beach (the drink): $7 Sunbathing and swimming clothing optional: priceless (I love the French)! Enough of that for now, time to find swim trunks for the rest of the afternoon. Back to Front Street, I managed to find a decent parking spot, trunks and some Guavaberry Rum. In the process of determining which rum to purchase, I tasted about six, my favorites being the eight year old and the guava flavored. Passion fruit was pretty tasty as well. Which way was it to the car? I ended the shopping trip with a conversation with a shop tender about what I was buying for my girlfriend. Hmm, I replied, nothing as she is a bird at a bar. He laughed and we talked for another 30 minutes before I left. One quick stop for some punch and back to Little Bay I go. Dip me in these crystal blue waters, clothed this time. I spent the afternoon bobbing in the bay. I met up with Gizmo afterwards and we had dinner and a few drinks. Man, you really are popular when you are dating a bird. She finally admitted her age, 22, a little young, but age is unimportant, right? She got a little frisky tonight, biting my neck was a little too forward, so I asked her to slow down. How could I have missed it last night? I've retained the perfect westerly view of a Caribbean sunset. Propped on a rock just outside my back porch, I anxiously waited as the ball of fire dipped further and further into the horizon. Reflections. Number of times I've said no : 1 (beggars are everywhere, looking for a dollar to buy food or beer) Number of times I had to stop due to an iguana in the road: 2 (one was easily 4 feet long) Number of beach bars I have visited this far: 3 (Le Malibu my favorite) Number of times I thought twice about nude sunbathing: 4 (Side note for all you guys out there... It is a total non-sexual experience, quite the opposite of your dreams) Number of Rum Punchs I can consume before feeling tipsy: 5 Number of times I have been lost: 6 Number of people I have said good morning to that don't speak english: 7 Number of hillsides I have seen with goats grazing: 8 Number of times I have checked Facebook even though I said I was not going to: 9 Number of times I did not need a reminder to relax: 10 Be gentle, I have no spell check on this device I'm writing on. Part deuce arriving soon, cheers my friends from paradise.

PBJ and wine

Things that may not typically go together, however, you never know until you try. I'm not sure I can pull the essence of just ten things into a single post.  I'm not sure I can explain PBJ and wine.  I'm not sure I can handle another day of the heat index over 100. Software: 1. Is like building Legos, interconnected, limitless 2. When it doesn't do exactly what you need, extend and enhance it 3. Needs to be controlled and governed Life: 4. Is like playing with Tinker Toys, sturdy, fragile 5. If it isn't going your way, look to friends for guidance 6. Fluid and unpredictable Lawnmowers: 7. Are like playing with fire 8. When you don't come in first, ask for advice 9. Fast and furious And finally: 10. Single dad lawnmower racing computer geek say what? (You'd get it if you had a daughter into Miley Cyrus) I love the way dusk plays off of the sand and water.  I love having seen Mickey Mouse in a girl fishing.  I love having seen 2 sumo wrestlers in a family walking.  Most of all, I just loved the moments. Drinkage: 1. H2O

The morning after

More likely better titled as Memorial Day weekend 2011 as the true morning after was so littered with pain that no writing occurred aside from a title. The moment you forget how to have fun. The time when you quit being a kid.  The second you listen to the instructions that read "Not intended for adults."  These are not for me. Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming - "Wow! What a Ride!" - Unknown I can say that I have completely abused my body this past weekend.  When 8 hours of sun bathing is not enough, go for 24.  When 1 bag of marshmallows might not be enough, go for 6.  When a 15 foot slip and slide isn't long enough, buy 100 feet of plastic and dump a bottle of veggie oil on it. Just remember these things: 1. Sunburn hurts, I'm positive I have a lobster-ish glow 2. Dinner plate size bruise will go away 3. Hopefully it's not a cracked rib 4. IcyHot (that's 2 weekends in a row, time to stock up: Marketing or me) 5. Advil, Advil and more Advil, just DO NOT exceed the recommended dosage 6. Must take cold showers for a few days I was kindly reminded by a 7 year old the next morning that the slip and slide box clearly states that it is not intended for adults.  Now had I read that first, would I still have done the things I did, um... Yes.  I think, though, she was essentially telling me that it was my own damn fault!  I'm going to suck it up and agree with her.  Luckily, no one thought about getting the video camera out, so don't bother searching YouTube. 7. Time shall heal me, it just better be quick, I have a race this weekend.  I hope I can race this weekend! 8. Even though there was $100 at stake for the winner, nobody made it the entire 100 foot length of the improvised slip and slide, thus saving me money 9. Veggie oil is a tan amplifier 10. Never forget how to let go and have fun, get crazy, take risks Will I ever go down a slip and slide again?  I'll have to answer that with a big NO, but I can now cross it off the bucket list.  Please, if you get inspired by this post, I am not legally responsible for anything that happens to you (please do not try this at home, I am a trained slip and slide professional, retired!) Lastly, for the first time since I can remember, I am nervous about tonight (not telling), but excited, and I have weekend full of memories that I will never forget.

Sleeping beauty

We all make mistakes as parents, well, sometimes they are not mistakes, but wrong decisions.  Maybe wrong decisions is not even the right way to describe them, but having two children, I can tell you that most were corrected by the time the second arrived.  My mistake started when my daughter was first born, I put her to bed every night.  At first, when she was under 6 months, this was relatively easy.  After that, it wasn't really that difficult either, I would turn the lights off in the living room and dance to music until her head lay gently on my shoulder at which point I would lay her down to sleep.  This progressed to the big girl bed at about 3 years old and I continued to put her to bed every night, sitting at the edge of the bed rubbing her back until she would finally fall asleep.  Some nights, this was a 10 or 15 minute commitment, other nights it was hours.  The habit that I caused was that she was unable to fall asleep on her own and lasted until right around her 5th birthday, and this was my mistake. Breaking her habit of needing me to put her to sleep every night was a progressive endeavor.  Every few nights, I would sit bedside 1 foot further away, sometimes listening to crying, sometimes screaming.  When I finally made it out to the hallway at approximately 10 feet from her bed, I felt a world of accomplishment.  A couple of weeks later and we took a huge step back and I was returned to 2 feet from the bed.  "Never give up," I said, and I was finally back in the hallway. After a good 6 month investment, I got it right.  We go to bed, hugs and kisses, and turn the lights off.  What a relief! When my son was born, I also was the one to put him to bed every night.  I believe I was lucky as he is the type that is in deep sleep 10 microseconds after his head hits the pillow. Tonight, I'm sitting bedside (albeit with a laptop).  My poor little lady has a low grade fever and a horrible cough.  My mind has wandered back to the time I have spent with her, the moments we have shared and the countless hours I have watched her fall into slumber.  I cannot help but to feel bad for her, aside from some simple medicine and a humidifier, there's not a lot I can do to help her feel better and fall asleep, except to rub her back. Tonight is just another random list of 10, but inspired by the simplistic beauty of children.
  1. My son left the porch light on so that the first tree frog of the season could see
  2. My kids regularly invite their neighborhood friends over for dinner
  3. My son is convinced that the new racing lawnmower I'm building is "his"
  4. My daughter sweeps the "shop" because it is "hers"
  5. "I will clean my room after school tomorrow" (I love not having to ask!)
  6. They answer "What do you love most about the beach,  taking walks, playing in the sand, swimming?" with  "The beach!"
  7. They sleep in the strangest positions (I might as well, but never watched myself sleep)
  8. My son drinks orange juice with every meal, loves the stuff!
  9. My daughter's favorite thing to do is to play school, she wants to be a teacher
  10. I love them both... "to the moon"

Mow for a friend

Kids say the darnedest things, they really do... these are from my four year old son, enjoy! 1. "Am I talking backwards, or right?" 2. "I'm on the phone, be quiet." 3. "Where are you?  Are there any cute girls there?"
    Then there are the reasons I have been cheery this week 4. February delivered 70 degrees today and the windows were opened 5. I realized that what was offered was not what I wanted, glad to have figured that out now 6. It's almost March 2nd
      And some randoms. 7. Wine warms the soul 8.Think about it... silver mailbox upside down attached to the post with PINK duct tape, yeah, it's that red neck out here 9. There's always something else to be done; dishes, laundry, sweep, mop, and the list goes on, but honestly, once it's all done, it feels good.  Home feels homey.
        And finally. 10. One week from Friday, I will embark on an adventure to sunny Mobile, Alabama to partake in a benefit race for a friend suffering from cancer.  I ask for your prayers for him and his family as we all join in around the track.  Some, if not most, of us have never met before, but the dedication and devotion to each other in time of need says much for the sport and the family that we build through racing.  Many have reached out through donations and auctions to raise money for Brian, I commend you all for your generosity.  Fellow racers, you continue to amaze me with your kindred spirit and helpful ways, may God bless and we all mow on!!!  See you at the track!