Saturday, December 17, 2011

Relatively Speaking

Imagine that Heather and I had a daughter 20 years ago.  Now imagine that, due to some unknown circumstance, such as living near a nuclear power reactor, or the bite of a radioactive spider, or a mix-up at the hospital resulting in us taking home someone else's baby, our daughter somehow grew up to be close to six feet tall.

For the last couple of months Heather and I have enjoyed having my second cousin over to our house each Sunday.  She is here in San Antonio because she is in her initial training (after basic) at the same base I work at.  We have enjoyed spending time getting to know Andrea, who is sort of like the giant daughter we never had, coming home from college on the weekends.  Except that she isn't in college anymore now that she's in the Air Force, and we never knew her before now.  So imagine that we had a daughter and shipped her off to live with relatives who were more appropriately sized to raise her, but now she comes to visit every weekend.  Our lives have been something like that for the past few weeks.

One of the things we like about Andrea is that she is really laid back.  Andrea also tells it like it is, which makes for some interesting conversation. The other day after going through the gate to get on base and having the gate guard hand me back my id card with a "have a good day Major", I said off-hand to Andrea, "I still can't believe I'm a Major".  As a guy who started out as a Private in the Army, that never seemed to be a rank that I would hold.  Andrea, who finds officers of all ranks to be mean and scary, said "Neither can I!".  At least, I like to think that's why she said it, and not because she is incredulous that the Air Force would promote me to that rank.  That's the kind of thing I tell myself when I lay in bed unable to sleep at night counting chickens hopping over a fence because, in this economy, sheep are just too expensive.  And let me tell you, chickens are much less successful at soothing one to sleep, what with all the clucking and flapping of the wings.  But back to the story.

Unfortunately there's not really a positive spin I can put on Andrea's comment about her thoughts on a movie she had recently seen.  As Heather and I were watching football and talking to her, Andrea suddenly said "I watched Captain America the other day, and he reminded me of you. You know, at the beginning of the movie."

While I would like to think she was somehow referring to the moral strength and selflessness of the character, I knew she was actually drawing the obvious comparison between my diminutive size and the scrawny, pre-scientific magnification of height and muscle, Captain America.  Back when he was just Steve, who gets the crap beat out of him on a regular basis and looks like a skeleton wrapped in skin.  Despite the blows to myself-esteem, Heather and I will really miss Andrea when she's gone.  She's been a little ray of light in our lives, at least on Sundays.  And we didn't even have to do her laundry or pay her school bills.  I can't help but wonder, however, how will we get things off the top shelf once she's gone?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mixing Business With Leisure

Last week the Air Force sent me back to Colorado Springs to attend a conference, which was quite interesting and instructive.  What made the trip especially enjoyable, however, was the fact that I still have friends in town and was able to visit with a couple of them during the short duration of my stay. 

One of the things I enjoy about hanging out with friends, is watching their interactions.  Each family has its own dynamic, molded by an amaglamation of personalities, personal preferences and past experiences.  It is fun to watch this dynamic unfold before your eyes in a somewhat predictable way, although each occasion brings its own unique circumstances and conversations.  It's like putting on your favorite sweatshirt and jeans on a cool Saturday morning.

I made lots of new great memories, and ate probably too many rice crispy treats (if one can eat too many, which I'm not convinced is possible).  I also got some homeade chocolate chip cookies, which were good, and of course snuck in some cookie dough, which was even better.  I know there's some risk of foodborne illness there, but I will always prefer cookie dough to baked cookies.  It's a weakness and I embrace it. 

While in town I got my electricity turned on at one of my rental properties and got the furnace turned on so the pipes wouldn't freeze (thanks property manager for nothing!).  I even got to see a couple of things in town that I hadn't seen before.  A couple of my friends took me to the Sunflower Market, which is similar to a Whole Foods.  Apparently their sale items begin and end on Wednesdays, so if you shop on that day they have two sales going on simultaneously - everything from the previous week is still on sale through the end of the day, and thefollowing week's sale has also begun. 

So after collecting a handful of items while her husband patiently waited with the kids in the car, my friend Frankie and I proceeded to the checkout.  As the cashier was ringing up her two bags of oranges (on sale 2 for $4), she suddenly had second thoughts on whether to buy one or two bags, since she wasn't sure if the kids would like them.  She asked the young man if he could remove the second bag from her purchases, which he did.  Then on second thought she asked if they were on sale from the previous week and would no longer be on sale the following day, or were they just now going on sale, which meant she could buy them at the sales price later in the week after the kids had a chance to try them.

The cashier of course didn't have this information memorized, but he did have the weekly ad on hand, so after a quick perusal of the ad, the oranges were found, and a search was begun for the ad's date, which would reveal whether the oranges must be purchased now in order to get the reduced price or if the purchase could be relegated to later in the week.  Finally, with the line backing up while we did our investigative research, the man found the date - the sale was ending that night.  Upon hearing this, my friend said "Never mind, I still don't want two bags".  I couldn't help but start laughing and gave her grief over making him do all that research for nothing!  I still laugh when I think about it.

I also got to back up her hard drive, which hadn't been backed up since July, which just so happens to be the last time I was there to do it.  I tried the old adage about teaching a man to fish, but somehow I have a feeling I will be redoing this operation the next time I'm at their house.  Oh well, at least it's easy.  I'm already looking forward to going back to Colorado for Christmas, this time with Heather in tow, and hopefully adding some skiing to the mix.  I can't wait!