Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Whole World Celebrates

Not everyone can say that the entire world throws a party on your birthday. But today, New Year's Eve, is Kelly's birthday. He's 60.  That fact is amazing to me because he looks 50 and acts 30. What's truly amazing is that I've known him now in four decades of his life.

Over those years we've known each other, many aspects of our shared life have changed: new jobs, several moves, kids. But there are some constants: he remains the funniest man I know, he has more compassion in his little pinkie than most people you'll ever meet, and his favorite way to spend his birthday hasn't changed since the first one we celebrated.

Sure, there have been parties. Yes, there were some epic celebrations (Barbra Streisand in Las Vegas on 12/31/99 comes to mind!). And even tonight we're heading to Park City to see Bernadette Peters (who I just learned is known for her singing...much to Kelly's amused horror). But it's just us - just the two of us - Kelly's favorite way to celebrate.

And while everyone else in the world is hoping to have a night to remember, I know I will. Because every New Year's Eve I know when the clock strikes midnight, I'll be with someone, who just wants to be there with me.

Personally, that's why I think the whole world celebrates Kelly's birthday.

Happy birthday.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Kitty on Christmas Break

Maybe it's having the boys home but for some reason, Apollo (the cat I never wanted), has been noticeably more in my face recently.
He's proven to be very into Christmas - the boys find his antics delightful. I find him a pest.

But that's OK. The boys go back to school in a few more days, and Apollo's antics may just catch up with him!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Reluctant Angel

Today kids in churches across America performed nativity programs. Little Josephs escort tiny Marys to the front of the church while young children portray inn keepers, stars, wise men, animals, shepherds, angels, and anything else you can think of.  Not surprisingly, that's the scene at Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church in Salt Lake too.

Only there was one particularly reluctant angel.

Gus wanted nothing to do with being an angel. Wearing the wings nearly killed him - and the only reason he agreed to don them was to fulfill a deal he made with his yia yia. (There is no guilt like yia yia guilt!) This isn't even anything new. When we lived in LA and all the other 4-year olds were angels, he adamantly refused. Imagine my surprise when I learned that he'd talked the TV star Melina Kanakaredes into letting him wear an ill-fitting shepherd outfit instead.

Oh well, at least my little cow was happy to be there!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

From One Yia Yia to Another

One day, when I was in Kindergarten, I was pleasantly surprised to find my mom, yia yia and theia Mimi walk through the classroom door. They were there to make diples- deep-fried, honeyed Greek cookies - for my class. Those cookies were my favorite, and soon became the favorite of everyone else as well.

Flash forward nearly 45 years: Gus's class held an "international tasting" today - the last full school day before the Christmas break.  For his contribution, Gus called his yia yia and asked for diples. And like the wonderful yia yia she is, she rose to the occasion.

And just as I knew nobody made diples like my yia yia, the boys understand that their yia yia's diples are beyond compare; nobody does diples like her. (Figuratively and literally - she's the last person anyone knows that still makes them in the shape of flowers.)

Not surprisingly, according to Gus, they were everybody's favorite. My yia yia would be proud.
 These were a couple of extras that somehow managed to make it to my house!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Still a Good Dog

We've had Gracie for 13 years now - that's a little more than half the time Kelly and I have been together.  In all those years, she's never been anything but a wonderful companion, and loyal friend. She is, quite frankly, a very good dog.

But like us all, she's growing older. According to the pets page of WebMD, at around 14 1/2, Gracie is about 90-years old in human terms. And her age shows. Her snout is graying. She sleeps most of the day - usually in whichever room she can find me. Her once epic twice daily walks have become short jaunts 2 or 3-times a week: all her arthritis-riddled joints will allow.

But worst of all, a dog who immediately understood what the doggy door was for from the very first time she saw it, isn't always making it out in time.  And although we try to open the human door for her throughout the day, and have encouraged her to make use of the snow-covered deck rather than try to traverse the stairs leading to the back yard, it remains an imperfect system.

Today is an example of the combined imperfection and her advancing age. While "supervising" me as I worked, Gracie struggled to rise to her feet. I assumed that she simply wanted to reposition herself on the floor. Instead, she looked at the door, and unfortunately had a BM.

In a brave attempt to redeem herself, she headed toward the doggy door, but it was a moot point. Even though I quietly told her that it was OK, she still skulked into our bedroom, unworthy to remain in my office. It seemed almost as if she was punishing herself.
Sooner than later, it's going to be time to say good bye to our sweet girl. In the time we have left, I'm going to consistently remind her that she's still a good dog.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

People like to decorate for the holidays. Some people cover their houses and every bush, tree and shrub in their yards with pulsing lights shining boldly in the night.
Others go for a more minimalist decorating look.
 And then there's Kelly and our house. The outside is pretty restrained:
But inside, Christmas throws up. Or as our friend John said, "It's like living in Candyland."
Yes, it's a cow dressed up like Santa...

For my part, in the one room of the house I control - my office - I've taken a more subtle approach.
 My Theia Mimi's vintage elf.

You know, Christmas comes but once a year...thank heavens!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Skipping a Generation

One afternoon when I was 17, I came home from hanging out with my buddies to learn I was on my mom's "list." Now there were probably several legitimate reasons to be on that list, but rather than show my cards, I simply played dumb and asked why. Ends up someone who worked with my dad was driving by the house with his wife when they decided to make an impromptu visit.

Mom had been enjoying a rare lazy Saturday, and hadn't done a lick of housework. Seeing the people coming, she rushed to shut all the bedroom doors, and prepared to show them Greek hospitality.

Much to Mom's horror, at some point the woman asked to see the house. That was the reason I was on the "list." My sister's room was a disaster, mom and dad's wasn't much better - she hadn't even made their bed yet. But when she opened my bedroom door, the woman saw an immaculate room , all tidy and clean. The woman asked if it was the spare room, and mom had to admit it was her fastidious 17-year old son's room.

I'd made the list for having the only clean bedroom in the house.

So it'll come as no surprise that the boys' bedrooms drive me crazy. I mean, seriously, it takes just as much time to SHUT the drawer as it does to open it. And in my opinion, shoving things under a table doesn't count as "putting them away."

Apparently keeping a bedroom tidy skips a generation...kind of like musical talent or diabetes!
 (In fairness, one drawer is left open to allow the cat to sleep in it.)
 (That is when he's not sleeping no Niko's bed...)

Friday, December 6, 2013

ANOTHER Greek Contribution

Today, December 6, the Greek Orthodox Church commemorates Saint Nicholas. He is the patron saint of those with any form of his name - Nick, Nicole, Niki, and yes my Niko, who was also baptized on St. Nicholas' Day. 

Saint Nicholas was a third and fourth century Orthodox bishop, whose reputation of being kind to the poor, extended even to secretly placing coins in the shoes of those, who needed help.
So yes, people, along with democracy, history, literature, and the sciences the Greeks gave the world Santa Clause! Right down to the red outfit and white beard.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Let It Snow!

Today we received the first real snow of the season. It's actually rather late for us. But for me there is just something about snow that makes me excited.  And I'm not alone in that feeling.

This photo is around 9:30 a.m.

By 11:00 a.m...
When he got home from school, Gus volunteered to shovel. It lasted about 10 minutes.
Later in the evening, I took over the snow removal under the careful supervision of a very, very happy Gracie.
When the driveway and sidewalks were cleared, we took Gracie for a short walk along the snowy canal. As we headed home, her arthritis was flaring up, and she limped along - even tripping a couple of times. But with every snow-filled step she took, her tail wagged her enthusiasm for the snow. Who can blame her?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Time of Thanksgiving

150 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln officially set aside a national day of thanks. I think this is a well-deserved tradition. So in honor of Honest Abe, I am grateful for:
  • Kelly - my partner in crime, who has supported me, stood by me, and kept me laughing for a quarter of a century. I don't know what I did to deserve such a great guy.
  • My sons - they are the center of my universe. They challenge me to be a better man each and every day. They have changed me - for the better - and I strive to be the father they need me to be.
  • The big, fat Greek family into which I was born. They surround me with love, acceptance, and patience. They provided me with just enough dysfunction to make me amusing, and I appreciate that.
  • The Huntingtons - it's nice to have in laws, who embrace you as one of their own.
  • My friends - too many to name - who enrich my life with their diversity, humor and support. But I need to call out a few:
    • Sabine and John - simply the greatest best friends, soul mates, kindred spirits anyone could ever hope for in life.
    • Teresa - a work wife who never divorced me even after we stopped working together. I know I can count on her to say what I need to hear, without judgement or strings.
    • Brad - for having faith in me enough to spark my new business, and patience with me when I start to freak out.
    • Bob - a man I am proud to call my friend even when he's pissing off everyone else. He's the best business partner, cheerleader, and advocate for equality you could ever imagine.
  •  All of our pets, Athena, Apollo, the chickens, and Speedy. But most of all for Gracie, the good dog, for 13 years (this month) she's faithfully provided me unwavering love and adoration.
  • Saint Sophia School, where my kids are embraced, my family celebrated, and childhood is a little sweeter.
  • All those whom I have loved and lost - we will be reunited.
Most of all, I am grateful for this life I have been given. It's filled with challenges and sorrow, certainly. But also with so much happiness, laughter and everyday blessings that I sometimes think I'm the luckiest guy in the world.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!