Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

For the first time since Clay was one, we will be waking up in our own house on Christmas morning. Clay doesn't remember that and Drew wasn't even thought of, so for all practical purposes, this is our first Christmas at home. When I was a kid, we went to my Baba and Gigi's (grandparent's) until I was about 6 or 7. That was only in Carnegie, so just a 20 minute trip from home. I remember when I was 6 sleeping on their couch, being awoken by a noise. I opened my eyes and I saw someone coming out of the basement door. It was Sviate' Nikolai (St. Nicholas; we Ukrainians were visited by Santa dressed in his golden bishop's robes, mitre and staff). I saw his beard, I saw his golden robes. I shut my eyes, because I was excited and terrified at the same time. If he knew I was awake, would he leave without leaving presents for me, my brother and cousin? I heard hushed whispers in Ukrainian. I think I heard my Uncle John. Did he help Sviate Nikolai?

Before i knew it it was morning and I was awake. I heard my mom, aunt and baba in the kitchen. I saw the presents under the small tree in the tiny dining room. He was there and he didn't know I was awake. That year, I can still remember some of my presents; my first Mickey Mouse wrist watch, which I think still runs; Major Matt Mason, Astronaut along with his lunar jet pack (which needed 20 feet of black thread which was tangled beyond repair in about 10 minutes); and my Scooby Doo movie projector, which only showed cartoon stills on the wall.

The presents weren't important. I will always remember that Christmas. I can picture all of us sitting around my grandparents' tiny table in that tiny dining room for Sviate' Vecher (Christmas Eve Holy Supper). I remember the yellow bowl full of pierogies, I remember those who were there who are gone; Baba, Gigi, Marisha, Marish-Mama. I remember listening to everyone sing Ukrainian carols; but most of all I will always remember that I did see St. Nicholas. Years later, I was told, it was probably my older brother, my dad or my uncle with a yellow coat on. But I know that he was there in the little house on Logan Street on Christmas Eve 1969.

Tonight 40 years later, Clay and Drew will have Sviate' Vecher with their Baba and Gigi, cousins and family. Tonight they will await Santa sleeping in their own beds. Maybe one of them will hear a noise in the night or wake up and see a figure walking through the house with presents. Maybe they'll tell us they saw or heard Santa. Maybe they'll keep it secret. But the best present I'll ever have is 30 or 40 years from now, them telling their children about that first Christmas at home in Pittsburgh; when Santa came and they believed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Steeler Kitty

This morning I took the boys to the doctor's office to get their second H1N1 shot. Since this was our second shot, I knew Clay was nervous about it. OK, nervous is not the right term. Maybe TOTAL FREAKOUT MODE would be more like it. He doesn't like shots; as he told me about 500 times today before during and after the shot. Drew on the other hand doesn't care. He looks at the nurse all, "Yea, c'mon, gimme your best shot. I'm not gonna give you the benefit of seeing me cry, lady. What that was it?!?! Pffft! I'm outta here!"

This must be more common that older siblings freak out more. Across from us a little girl, not more than three was waiting for her shot with her two older brothers. She got her shot with out a peep. But big brothers reacted from "That really hurt" to "OH MY GOD, I THINK THEY USED A JACKHAMMER TO PUT THAT THING IN!" The little girl looked at her brothers and at Clay and I could hear her saying to herself, "Men!" Then she looked at Drew and and probably thought, "Dude, call me when you need a prom date."

I calmed Clay down enough to get him out of the exam room without making the people in the waiting room think Civil War surgeons were back there amputating limbs off of first graders. As we passed the "sticker bin" which usually makes all things better, I noticed all that were left were pink stickers with cute kitties on them. The nurse said, "Wait, I have some dinosaur stickers here." Clay took a dino sticker and plastered it on his rugby shirt. Drew pushed the dino sticker back, took a pink sticker, slapped it right on the "7" on the front of his Ben Roethlisberger Steeler shirt, looked up at me with a smile on his face and shouted, "STEELER KITTY!" Thankfully "Steeler Kitty" was gone by the time I picked him up from pre-school. Maybe one of the girls swiped it from him.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Pirates of the Allegheny

Today is the eve of the G-20 Summit here in Pittsburgh. It's also the eve of my 46th birthday. We're also fast approaching the end of the monumental record breaking 17th straight losing season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. So to protesters and delegates alike, get the hell out of my town as quickly as you can and don't leave your crap laying around; Pittsburgh Pirates, you suck and you break my 6 year old's heart every day; and happy birthday to me.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I Guess They're More "Cat" People

The other day I noticed there was a large rabbit sitting in the street in front of our house. I didn't think much of it until I came back from dropping the kids off at school and it was still there. I went over to it, got about 5 feet away and it hissed at me. It's neck and head was moving but the rest of the body was lying still. Well, I don't need to be hissed at twice; and I remember the killer rabbit from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and "Spamalot", so I bravely shouted, "Run Away!!!" and ran inside.

After a few minutes, I started feeling guilty because, after all, we just had a visit from this guy's cousin, the Easter Bunny, last week. So I looked out side and I saw a couple of crows approaching the rabbit. By the time I got to the door, they had started pecking at him. The sound of the door scared them away. I'm not a huge fan of birds in the first place, but I really hate crows so I thought I'd better do something.

I called the local animal shelter; got a recording. I called the Humane Society; I got the number for a company that would come and remove the rabbit on my dime. No thanks. So then I called the local police and explained the situation. I turned the police scanner on and heard the dispatcher make her call. Somehow it got turned into a "rabid raccoon" call. After about 5 minutes the officer pulled up.

I explained to him that it was a rabbit and not a raccoon. He looked at it and said that there have been a couple of reports of rabid raccoons that he'd "taken care of". He got out his snare and hooked the rabbit. It immediately freaked out and let out a squeal like a hungry newborn baby. Then he said, "Well, I have to shoot it".

"OK", I said stupidly, "Where?"



The officer said, "Well is there a place to do it in the back yard?"


"Do you want to bury it?"

"What?!? No! Hell no! We just got a new dog. I don't want him getting into that. The garbage truck is coming this morning. Can we put it in the trash?" I asked.

"Sure, you get a bag and I'll meet you in the back", the officer said.

I went inside and retrieved a garbage bag and got out to the backyard just in time to see the officer unholster his weapon and BAM! He brought the corpse, still in the snare, over and we shoved it in the bag. Meanwhile I notice many of our neighbors peeking out the doors to see what the hell was going on. I shot them a smile and a little wave. They, mostly, shut their doors or blinds.

It wasn't until later, after the rabbit was safely in his 45 gallon Rubbermaid sarcophagus, that I thought what must the neighbors be thinking; seeing me standing there with with a cop, the smell of gunpowder wafting through the air, shoving a bloody animal (which was about the size of our new dog) into the trash.

"Well, so much for their new dog." "Didn't even make it a week." "I thought you could take them back to the shelter." "Let's never ask them to watch OUR dog." "Maybe they're more 'cat' people."

Lewis was at the vets for the day. I think a couple of our neighbors were relieved to see him come home.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lewis, the Rescue Dog

On Good Friday, we loaded the family in the van (or as I've started calling it "Jughead") for a trip to the wilds of Northwestern Pennsylvania to the Pekingese Rescue that Nancy found. She has decided that for her ##th birthday (I'm not allowed to divulge the exact number under penalty of death), she wanted a dog; a little dog. Everyone else in our family has dogs that resemble Shetland Ponies more than dogs, so almost any dog is a small dog. My criteria is a bit different and cruder. If the dog's poops are bigger than mine (and that's saying something), I don't want it .

Anyway, we get the dog from the rescue; which is a whole other blog post; and make it home. He's a sweet, quiet dog (except for his snoring) and he's checked out "A-OK" with the vet, had a bath and a trim. After close to a week, I'm happy we got the perfect dog for us.

Clay has been telling everyone he knows that Lewis is a "rescue dog". We told him how another family had Lewis who's new baby was allergic to him and that he was given to the Pekingese rescue. We then found him and brought him into our family. Then yesterday I heard Clay telling our neighbor about Lewis being a "rescue dog". It wasn't until I did a double take and really started listening to him that I found out what Clay thought a "rescue dog" was.

"Lewis is a Rescue Dog!", says Clay.

"What does that mean?", asks his friend.

"You know, a Rescue Dog. He helps people and other animals and he can talk to them."


"Well, you know, he talked to the Easter Bunny the other day. He told him that he liked his new family. The Easter Bunny wrote us a letter and told us", says Clay.


"Yea, so whenever an animal needs help, Lewis the Rescue Dog will be there."

Now, I think we need to get a cape and a mask for Lewis to protect his identity.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Twittering in the Soviet Union

It's been a while since I posted anything although I've been Twittering a lot. Twittering is easier; 144 characters at a time to spew my brilliance. Also, as I told Nancy, it's kind of like the ham radio of the 21st century (and that comes from me, a ham, K4MTS). So I can either go downstairs and fire up the Kenwood and chat with a bunch or random strangers or I can open up the iPhone and pretty much do the same thing. It's always kind of funny to see people comment on the the same things you are watching or doing; Like Julie Balogna's electric wardrobe, Evgeni Malkin's latest goal, your hatred of pigeons, or your love of Sonic Diet Cherry Lime-aids.

Twittering is a nice distraction and it even helps helps me learn something every now and again. Occasionally I get on a tear about something I find hugely amusing. My latest was, "What would it be like if they had Twitter in the former Soviet Union?" I know, what the hell's wrong with me sometimes. Anyway, I blame it on my muse. You know that unseen spirit that guides poets, musicians and other creative types. Well, my muse can be seen and it looks like a jelly donut from Kuhn's Grocery.

So I blame my ramblings on a sugar high I get from these delectable delicacies. So in case you missed it on Twitter the other day here's what it would have been like if the was Twiiter in the CCCP.

ComradeWiper #Soviet Tweetup: Bulgarian Toilet Paper distributed tonight at 22.30 on the corner of Marx and Engles. Maybe Czech blue jeans too!

LeoLaporteski I get my new Soviet laptop today. Only weights 42Kg! Runs on 2 Lada batteries and blood of the proletariat. But hey, it have Vista on it!

IHeartStalin @ComradeLenin still looking good in glass box.

CCCP-1 TV What fits into Russia? You think Texas big?!? Puny Texas fit into Russia!

LonelyInIrkutsk @EastGermanFemaleWeightlifting Team look H-O-T! Helga Brundenwalder need a little shave, tho.

SteveJobovich CentralComputerPlanning group announce BelongsToTheStatePhone. 30,000,000 Rubles and 20yr. wait list. Party members only. Sorry dissidents!

KGB_GuyKawasaki Decadent Imperialist Twitterers invited to Tweetup at Lubianka Prison. Tell wife to no wait up for you. Bring winter coat.

KGB_Guy Krap, no 3G in gulag, only EDGE. I bet no FiOS here either.

MiG_Pilot63 Today is birhtday of Soviet brothers Arvill & Vilber Aeroplansky, inventors of airplane.

Pravda_CCCP Everything invented in Russia; telephone, car, Windows Vista, electric light, despair, wheel, identical concrete apartments. Everything!

Pravda_CCCP OK, not everything. Imperialist Al Gore invent Internet.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

7 Reasons why being a Pirates fan won't be so bad this year

#7 Suck has a shelf life. Let's hope our expired 10/1/2008.

#6 Bringing back the goofy "pillbox" hat. The other teams won't be laughing at us, they'll be laughing with us. OK, so, they really will be laughing at us.

#5 Since Xavier Nady was traded to the Yankees, we don't have to put up the annoying chick down the first base line who waved her pirate flag and crossed her arms into an "X" every time Nady was on the field.

#4 Won't have to remember how to spell Mientkiewicz.

#3 Still have that 6th Super Bowl "high".

#2 Pirates applied for Federal Disaster Assistance Program and were accepted. President Obama to tour area of devastation (PNC Park) by air this spring. Reportedly will call this "The worst disaster in our nation since the 1977 Tampa Bay Bucs".

#1 If by some miracle; and by miracle I mean a sure sign of the apocalypse; the Buccos make it to the World Series, our boy-Mayor won't have to change his name to "Piratestahl"

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I haven't posted much lately. Why? Laziness, sickness, taxes and Twitter. If you don't know what Twitter is; Google "Stephen Fry BBC interview". That'll give you an idea. Recently, after feeling un-Twitterific for about 7 months, I've started Twittering again. It's a great way to share my worthless ramblings, 140 letters at a time. It allows me to vent, be a smart ass and share things without having to set aside a time to blog. Half the time, by evening, I forgot what I was going to blog about. Sometimes, I feel that I should expand on my "tweets". But for now, I'll split my musings between blogging and twittering; so please feel free to sign up for a Twitter account, if you haven't already, and follow along.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Must have been some damn good cheese

OK, I think this story is hilarious, especially since it happened at the grocery store where my folks have shopped for almost 50 years. Here's the story:

"CR and her 23-year-old daughter fought two MyHomeTown men trying to steal her purse after she had loaded groceries into her pickup and left the door open in the parking lot of the local Mom & Pop Grocery. CR screamed out, “Give me my purse back!” and before Loser #1 could shut his door, she had jumped into the passenger side to get it back. Loser #1 sat on the purse refusing to let go, but CR, hanging halfway out of the vehicle, said she had a good grip on the straps. Loser #2, who was driving, began backing out of the parking lot, dragging CR's feet along the pavement.

CR’s daughter had left the store a few minutes after her mother and heard her mother’s cries for help. Her daughter then jumped into the car and began tussling with Loser #1, who bit her finger. Daughter bit Loser #1’s ear. The mother and daughter fought with the losers until police arrived."

Here's the best part of the story, in my opinion; even better than biting the dude's ear.

"Loser #1 was most recently charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and theft after attempting to leave the same Shop ’n Save with $13.47 worth of cheese in his pockets."

I'm not sure I could fit $13.47 worth of cheese in my pockets. Maybe it was a fine imported Gouda or Edam or maybe Jarlsberg. Either way, it must be some damn good cheese.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Black & Gold

Yesterday was the day for the Steelers first playoff game against the Chargers. We planned our own little watching party here at Magnus Domus. I made a huge pot of chili, Nancy made cookies and we fired up the old Philco HD. Last August, we bought our own Terrible Towel at the one and only Steeler game (I prefer HD to "being there"... my bathroom is cleaner at home and there is less of a line). After we bought ours, my mom said, "We could have given you ours. It's packed away in the garage somewhere". Just a side note. Their Terrible Towel was the one that was hung up in their bar from 1975 until they sold the place 8 years ago. I remember sometime around 1984 climbing up a ladder to take it down and clean it. It was like Towel Jerky; completely inflexible, saturated with nicotine and not anything near yellow. I would have taken it down then, if it weren't for the towel shaped "shadow" left on the wall. So there it remained for another 15 years.

So, I thought our investment in a new Terrible Towel (TT) was worth it.

Anyway, I hang up the TT and the inflatable "Steeler Hammer" which remained inflated exactly long enough for Drew to beat Clay over the head with it twice. After recovering, Clay decides that he need to help "decorate" too. He roams around the house looking for anything and everything black and gold. He then lines them up on the fireplace next to the TT. First a yellow pen; then a Pirates baseball; then a SpongeBob Etch-a-Sketch; then various Tonka trucks; then the remote controlled Wall*E; then every black or gold piece of the Batcave play set. I had to put a stop to it when he wanted to complete this homage to the Steelers by bringing in the yellow folding chair and lean it up against the hearth. I appreciate his team spirit, but enough already!

It was a great game; the Steelers scored; the boys screamed; cookies were eaten; victory is ours. Today, Clay is wearing his Willie Parker shirt to school today. For the first time this year, he's all, "Yeah, I see your #7's and #86's, but today it's all #39 baby!"

SpongeBob, Batman and Wall*E are still guarding the Terrible Towel and I guess they'll stay there until early February when their job is done.