Friday, February 27, 2009

The death of a dream?

by BSN

I remember little of the summers of my childhood, except the two weeks spent camping in the Smoky Mountains every summer. The campground was idyllic, set in a small valley at the base of a small mountain with two ponds on the grounds, one for swimming, one for fishing. One of the most peaceful places I've ever been.

I remember my parents dreaming out loud about someday having a mountain house when they retired, a place to escape the hot Florida summers. They set about making their dream a reality, and about 12 years ago purchased a nice two-bedroom place about 4400 feet up in the mountains north of Asheville. It is a modest place they've been able to share with family and friends in the years since, and my wife and children have spent several vacations there as well.

Last night, I spoke with my father and he was describing a week of "terrible threes" where the third bad event was getting a $35 water bill on the mountain house.

A normal month is $10. In the winter, he shuts the water off to the house as part of his annual "winterizing".

He didn't sound too worried. Yes, there might be a leak, but he thought it would be outside of the house. He shuts every valve to every water-using appliance in the house, just in case. He told me he was sending a local real estate agent up to check it out, just one of many services they provide the part-time residents of the community.

Tonight, I received a voice-mail from my father who sounded as depressed as I've ever heard, only saying to call him if I wanted to hear about the third event. Not knowing what to expect, I called to find that the realtor arrived to find the house had been broken into, someone had lived there for an indeterminate time, turned on all the water to the house and reversed all of the winterizing precautions my father takes. When a freeze came, the pipes burst, the commodes burst, and every surface of the house flooded. The ceilings have fallen down and the carpet is destroyed.

Over the years my parents have suffered a number of setbacks in terms of career, finances, and health, but they always managed to keep the mountain house. They "bought right", owe very little on it, and spend what little free time they have up there. My father has been the CEO of 3 companies, two of them public, but never left with the mythical golden parachutes, and never earned the obscene salaries seen in the news. What he has he worked for and saved. In his retirement, he doesn't golf, consult, hang with his old business buddies, or any of the myths that surround successful business people that are perpetuated by a few bad apples and a media that thrives on exposing 'bad-boys'. He doesn't have the beach house and the Mercedes and he doesn't jet about to parties on Mediterranean islands.

Dad spends a large part of his days working as a Guardian ad-litem, a volunteer organization that works in conjunction with the Florida courts to represent the interest of children brought into the system thanks to criminal parents or any variety of abusive situations. My mother still works, running a small gift shop that still employs a couple of ladies while managing to squeak out a profit despite the economy. They're good people.

Over the years I've heard my father's voice deliver bad news of all types: deaths, job losses, health issues, legal issues - the same stuff we've all heard from our parents once we've lived long enough. He always delivered it in a straightforward manner - the more devastating the news, the more solid Dad sounds. He focuses on the task at hand, plans and executes, and is resilient no matter the situation.

In the grand scheme of things, it's just a house and he's had much worse things happen in his life. But this was a lifelong dream, and he enjoyed every minute he spent on the deck of that house, watching the sun set over the mountains to the west, reading a good book and enjoying a nice glass of red.

I can only hope he gathers himself over the next few days, takes on this challenge like he has the others in his life, and moves forward. But, I don't think this dream will ever be the same for him.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A ferret bit his penis

by BSN

Best Mookie Champion Profile Ever.

Excerpt:
“Oh my Goodness, SCOTT can’t you behave. I am so sorry that he did that. It use to happen all the time when he was a kid and I was giving him bathes. The best way to get it to stop is to just flick it real hard on the tip” Said my loving dear Mother, right before she reached out and flicked my dead on the end of my Johnson."


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