January



Our Lady of Fatima... Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament... Hear us.
Our Lady of the Rosary... Strengthen us.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Marriage retreat time...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     It happens every year... like the birds flying south or the salmon swimming upstream.  I call Cheryl to see what we have planned for the weekend and she advises that we are going to the annual church marriage retreat.
     Wait a second, you never told me we were going to that.
     I did so... I told you it was this Saturday.
     Yes, you did mention that there was a retreat, but I never agreed to go.  I have baseball practice.
     So. Get your other coaches to run it. 
     No, I want to run it. Can we discuss this when I get home. 
     Cheryl did not even humor me with some faint hearted agreement to hear my plans for the weekend.  She gave no quarter and hammered her point home...       
     We are going... I ordered you a chicken salad sandwich for lunch. We have to go.
     Apparently, the ordering of the chicken salad sandwich signifies that all plans are final and the discussion is over.
     The retreat started with morning Mass and then we met for talks with Father Wilson, a visiting priest from South Maryland. We both love Father Wilson, and Cheryl often mentions that if everyone went to him for marriage prep, or counseling, there would be many many more happy marriages.
     During his first talk, Father Wilson discussed how, since he is married to the Church, he has the benefit of having a perfect spouse. This was good for Cheryl to hear because... she does, too. I immediately thought that she could pick up some pointers on how Father Wilson handles his relationship... and apply those lessons to our marriage.
     In the course of the discussion, he asked what was the first thing that Eve did after she took a bite of the apple? The answer: She got Adam to take a bite. He asked, "Why would she do that?"
     The answer was obvious, so I volunteered: Because this is what women do! They drag their men down! 
     I was partially correct. She did kind of want to drag him down. Father Wilson advised that Eve wanted Adam to share in her disobedience. This made laugh... not because Eve dragged Adam down. No, it made me laugh because it reminded me of something that happened when I was a young lad.
     My parents had just purchased three spankin' new wooden bar stools for our kitchen. As I was sitting in one of them for the first time, I suddenly found myself with a pin in my hand. I felt the need to mark my territory, so I carved my initials into the seat of the stool.
     Although my initials looked good, it occurred to me that my mother may not care for fact that I defaced her new furniture. So I thought quick and I came up with a plan. A perfect plan. I took my pin and moved to the second chair, carving my brother Jeff's initials into the seat of that chair, then doing the same to the third chair, carving my brother Paul's initials into that one.
     There... problem solved! I had pulled off the prefect crime.
     You see... I, like Eve, wanted someone to share in my disobedience. It did not really work out all that well for me, as I immediately confessed to the perfect crime and was subsequently punished.  Come to think of it, biting that apple did not work out all that well for Eve either.
     Father Wilson went on to explain that in every disagreement between couples, there does not always need to be a winner and a loser. Technically, he is wrong, but you can see his point. You can't just have some disagreement and let it go unresolved. For example, you can't just have some husband thinking that he is going to be coaching baseball all weekend and the other spouse thinking that they are both going on some silly retreat. There has to be a winner, and there has to be a loser.
     Father made it clear that sometimes, one spouse (Cheryl) should see that the battle is not necessary and occasionally, that spouse (Cheryl) can give in to her husband (me).
     At least that is what I heard.
     At lunch, we had a romantic picnic together on the church grounds. It was just like when we were dating, except we took a few moments to discuss some of the things that we don't like about each other. That sounds kind of harsh, but fortunately neither of us had a really long list. Mostly small grievances that are easily resolved.
     By the way, could you imagine discussing the things that you don't like about each other on your third date. Not too many fourth dates after that conversation.
     Anyway, it turns out that Cheryl and I have a pretty healthy marriage. I would like to say that the whole retreat was analogous to a healthy person going to the doctor. I mean it did not hurt to go, but it wasn't really necessary. I would like to say that... but I'd be wrong.
     It is totally necessary.
     It is totally necessary to spend time with each other... just each other. And it's nice to be with other couples, to see what they do to make their marriages stronger.
     And it is necessary to be reminded that we have an obligation to our spouse to ensure that we help the other make it into Heaven.
      I am totally committed to getting Cheryl into Heaven. In the process, if I have to win a few arguments... than by golly, I am the man for the job!
      By the way, I do have to concede one thing to Cheryl ... the chicken salad rocked!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... I'm a 32...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     I have a bone to pick with the clothing industry. For years, I have been the same size... 32/32. Thirty-two inch waist and thirty-two inch length. It was perfect symmetry and easy to remember. I could say to Cheryl... Hey, if you're going out to get gas, could you swing by the mall and pick me up a pair of jeans?... 32/32! 
     A few years ago, I went shopping and began to notice some changes... some 32's were too tight, while others were too loose. And almost all the 32's were too long. I hadn't changed... at least I don't think I had changed.
     And then I noticed there were several different kinds of jeans... 501's, 505's, 515's. 560's, 590's. Straight leg, Boot cut, Loose fit, Comfort fit, and my personal favorite... Skinny jeans.
     Why? Why do we need all these different styles?
     I like the old days when skinny guys got 28's and fat guys got 48's. We had a system and it worked for people of all sizes. If you want more comfort, unbutton them!
     All this came to a head last week when I opened my jean drawer and noticed that I had accumulated several pairs. Who needs more than two or three pairs? I had about seven. And get this, I had several different sizes of jeans. There were my old stand-by 32/32's... but also 31/32's, 31/31's and one pair of 32/31's. And guess what... none of them fit right. They were mostly too tight... despite the fact that I am still a 32-inch waist... at least I think I am still a 32-inch waist.
     Most likely, they have all somehow shrunk a bit in the wash. We do a lot of wash at our house.  
     I made the decision to get rid of each pair and go shopping for some new jeans. Good jeans. Solid jeans. Jeans that actually fit. It was the right decision.
    However, I made the wrong decision when I let my son Matthew tag along.
    Matthew was quick to remind me that I had been unusually giddy about a new pair of pants I recently purchased that had a... how can I best describe this... a flexible waistband. I love those pants. They are 32's but can expand to a 33 if necessary. Of course, it would never be necessary because I am pretty sure that I will always be a solid 32.
   
     Why don't you admit that you are getting old and you need to buy bigger pants! asked Matthew.
     Because I am not getting bigger. I am, was and always will be a 32/32! I insisted.
     Your new "fat pants" with the expandable waist are 32's with an option for 33!
     I do love those pants... but can we come up with a different nickname for them?
     Why don't you come up with a good diet? 
     I don't need a diet... I need pants that fit. 
     I like your thinking "The best diet plan is buying bigger clothes."
  
    You see now why bringing him along was a mistake?
    Once I got to the store, I was faced with several options. I had to figure out what number jean was best for me.
     I grabbed about four different number jeans and headed into the dressing room with four pair of 32/32's. The first pair were too tight as soon as they crossed my tiny little rear-end. Clearly mis-marked.  I decided to terminate that attempt before ever pulling them all the way up.
     The second pair fit just fine in the waist... but were way too long.
     The third pair was my favorite... they were too big in the waist. That's right... too big. You know, I thought that I might be losing some weight. These jeans went in the "maybe" pile. The fourth pair was too tight and too long.
     I directed Matthew to go get me a pair of 31's in the jeans that were too big in the waist, but no luck... they were way too small.
     So there I was... left with only one choice. I grabbed that third pair and headed to the checkout. But then it occurred to me that the pants were really too big... which is the only reason I was buying them. I was happy that this pair of 32/32 jeans were actually too big.
     I decided against the purchase and put the jeans back on the shelf and headed off to another store... where I repeated this same frustrating exercise. Too tight and too long!
     Is it possible that I am getting fat?
     No... couldn't be. Something has to be wrong with the clothing industry. It has changed... not me!
     Then Matthew brought me a pair of 33/31's.
     They fit perfectly.
     How depressing!
     I am getting fatter... and I'm shrinking... all at the same time!
     I bought the pants but I was not happy about it.
     So unhappy, in fact, that when I took Cheryl out to dinner, I decided to wear my other fat pants instead... 32's, with an option for 33.
     I do love those pants.
     You know, I may never wear my new jeans because... I am a solid 32.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... I hate Duke...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my Maryland Terrapin-loving husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     I am writing this on Monday night after the National Championship game and I want to disclose something right from the get go... I hate Duke.
     Now that that is out of the way, let me explain my dilemma.
     With Duke's win, I am now the Bowie High School Class of 1981 college basketball pool winner. I have no idea what the first place prize is... there was no entry fee so I can only assume that the only prize is that I am now considered the greatest student ever to graduate from Bowie High... at least for a year!
     Being admired and revered by my classmates is kind of cool, even if there is no great financial gain.
     But with any great reward and honor, it comes with a price.
     Duke won... and I hate Duke!
     So this was sort of like Sophie's Choice for me. Do I root for a Duke win and claim my throne as the King of the Class of '81?... or do I go with... fill in the blank with any other NCAA basketball team... in this case Wisconsin.
     The answer was simple...  I go with Wisconsin because... I hate Duke! Let some other classmate be King for a year!
     It wasn't always this way.
     In 1986, when Coach K led Duke to a national championship runner-up finish, I was all in for the upstart Blue Devils... plus they were in the ACC with my Maryland Terps. If the Terps weren't going to win, go with the other ACC teams.
     As for Coach K, what was not to like... he went to West Point, he paid his dues under guys like Bobby Knight, he took over a floundering basketball program for a university that could not even pronounce his name correctly. He struggled for a couple years, and then he began to win with what seemed to be some great kids.
     But then he continued to win... and that became annoying. And his nice kids became obnoxious McDonald's All-Americans. They became easy to hate.
     Add that to the fact that I went to the University of Maryland and I was a lifelong Terrapin fan.
     As Maryland became a basketball rival... a rivalry that has always been denied by Coach K... my hatred increased. It hit fever-pitch when the Terps were competing with... and beating... Duke. Coach K whined and cried about the Maryland fans... say this next line in your most nasally whiney voice... They threw things at my players and yelled vulgar things! 
     I will concede that nobody should throw anything at opposing players, but to be fair, they were throwing balled-up copies of the Diamondback... that is the college newspaper for those of you that could not get accepted to the University of Maryland.
     The students threw them in the direction of the opposing team at every home game right after the starting line-ups were announced... yet only one coach complained! And the complaints only surfaced after Gary Williams and the boys starting kicking the Blue Devil's rear ends.
     Funny how the White Rat... my affectionate little nick name for Coach K... was only offended when the Terps were competitive. Apparently, paper only hurts when you lose.
     And, of course the Duke fans are nothing but class... what with stripping down to your speedo while other teams shoot free throws. Boy, are they clever!
     The hatred grew stronger when Maryland left the ACC to join the Big 10.  The rivalry that was  denied now became a rallying cry for Coach K. Again use your whiney voice... They must not have thought of it as a rivalry or they would have never left the ACC! 
     As if anyone who decides to leave a conference where you can compete with my Blue Devils once or twice a year is crazy.
     Of course, if Duke had a football program, it may have also considered leaving the ACC.  
     What's that?... Duke has a football program?... Who knew?
     Look, I am not bitter or anything, but when I was filling out my brackets, I was struck by the fact that Duke was put in a region with fifteen teams that were all seeded 15th... or lower. Their toughest opponent was an over-rated Gonzaga team. The NCAA paved their way to the final four with also-rans and underachievers (see Gonzaga).
      During the National Championship game, we all had to listen to how brilliant Coach K is when he... get this... sat two players who were in foul trouble! He actually had two of his better players sit on the bench so they would not pick up another foul.
      Wow! Why hasn't every other coach figured this out? I mean, Coach K solved the Rubik's cube of basketball. Think about this... if he had left those players in the game and they had picked up a third foul, that would have severely limited their playing time in the second half.
      To quote Bill Rafferty, He massaged the last four minutes of the half!
      I think Rafferty wanted to give Coach K a massage! And I do believe that Rafferty wanted to end the massage Withhhh a Kisssss! 
      I feel this is an opportune time to explain something to those of you that have not watched Duke over the years.  Lean in close because I am going to let you in on a little secret...
     It is highly unlikely that any NCAA referee would actually call three fouls in a half against any Duke player, much less the two best Duke players. They were safe. They could have pillaged and plundered and still not have picked up a third foul in that first half. 
       Now, the Duke supporters... hereinafter referred to as Duke athletic supporters... will be quick to point out that Wisconsin only had two team fouls in the first half... a point that Coach K addressed in his halftime interview.
     Guess what... he mentioned it and the refs took care of it.
     The second half produced the normal Duke disproportionate foul differential. Wisconsin got into the double bonus and and Duke never got into the single bonus. Just for good measure, with the game tied, the refs missed a Duke player stepping out of bounds right before a Duke basket, and they later ignored a replay that clearly showed a ball going out of bounds off of a Duke player's finger.
     I mean, even the most ardent Duke athletic supporter would admit that the out of bounds play was right there... in slow motion replay. They were looking right at it. All of America saw it except the three referees.
     On a side note... I think it may have been the same officiating crew that had the Maryland-West Virginia game when Melo Trimble nearly got beheaded by a moving pick. That crew also checked the replay for a flagrant foul... but did nothing (technically, the correct replay call because they somehow missed the initial foul that occurred right in the middle of the court).
     Let me be clear... I am not bitter.
     Okay, maybe I am a little bitter!
     I am not sure what has changed about Duke and Coach K... except for the winning part.
     Wow, is that why I hate Duke, because they always win?
     Nah, that is not it... I mean... I am not going to hate Maryland when the Terps win next year's National Championship and become a perennial powerhouse.
     You know, now that I think about it, I am glad Duke won because now as the King of the Class of 1981, I can decree 2016 as the Year of the Terrapin!
      FEAR THE TURTLE!
      So it is written, so it shall be!
       

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... My brother seems to be winning Holy Week...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     It's Holy Week at the Palumbos'. It is only Holy Thursday and I am off to a bad start.
     Before I tell you why, I want to remind everyone that several months ago, we renovated our home so that my mother could move in with us. We shortened our living room and made it into a bedroom... we  expanded our powder room and created a full size bathroom with a walk-in shower... we turned our laundry room into a closet... and we moved our laundry room into our two car garage... rendering it useless as a two car garage.
     Our house was upside down for about a month.
     No problem... my mom is worth it.
     She was lonely in her home after my dad passed away, and I had the perfect solution... a home with a wife and three kids that were there all the time. I told her that this was both the best and the worst part about our home... my wife and kids are there all the time!!!
     But it is all good... Cheryl is a great caretaker and the boys could not be more helpful to their grandma. I chip in wherever I can, and I thought my mom was grateful... until today.
     A little back story: my mother is Lutheran and we are Catholic... pretty close if you ask me. If you can get by the women pastors and a few other minor details, they are practically the same.
     Author's note... that last line was for my lovely, life-long Catholic wife. She likes to remind me of the Eucharist whenever I say they are practically the same. She blames Martin Luther for the whole mix-up. Or as she says... "He is the one that did the leaving in the Fire Swamp." I love it when she seamlessly weaves in references to the Princess Bride in the middle our religion talks. Is it any wonder that I love her so much?
     Anyway, because of our differing religions, there are times when we will drop my mother off at her church and proceed to our Mass. Today... Holy Thursday... was one of those days. Fortunately, both of our start times were 7:30, so that was no problem.
     The problem was that our Catholic Mass was going to be a marathon with the procession of about eighty altar servers, the washing of the feet, robing of the new altar servers, and a full-blown adult choir that takes all the fifteen-second prayers and turns them into Stairway to Heaven. Then the Priest does the whole transubstantiation thing that my wife so adores, and BOOM... you're at two-and-a-half hours.  
     The Lutherans, on the other hand, get it done and get it done quickly, so she was going to be stranded for more than an hour.
     What to do... What to do.
     I went to the ball field with Matthew in the afternoon and when I returned, Cheryl told me that she had it all worked out. My brother Jeff volunteered to meet Mom at her church and attend that service alongside of her.
     Great... I guess we can get her afterward from his house. Done.
     Exactly... by the way, Cheryl unnecessarily whispered, when I told her that your brother was going to go to church with her, she was so touched... she cried!
     What? She cried? She never cries for anything that I do for her. What an attention-seeking bum Jeff is! I would have dragged her rear end to church every now and again and stuck around had I known it was going to make her cry! I mean the services are kind of the same anyway!
     They are not... and do I have to tell you why... again!
     You know... I blame you for this riff between my mom and me. If  you would just get over the Eucharist thing, we could hit the Lutheran church every now and again... and make my mother cry! 
     You are so sad. 
     Why would you say that? Paul is a Lutheran minister and Mom adores him... and now Jeff is trying to get his religious piece of the pie. Of course, I could use this to my advantage... let this little turf war between Paul and Jeff play out... and then swoop in and take advantage of that. 
     You are pathetic!
     What am I supposed to do? I got no "hook" into her... all I got is this stupid house! Is converting back to Lutheran out of the question? Mom would definitely get mushy about that. She'd forget all about stupid ol' Jeff... maybe even Paul, too. 
     Yes, converting is out of the question! I am going to pray for you!
     Pray that Jeff gets a flat tire and leaves my mother stranded at her church! That's what you need to pray for!  
     Despite all of my plansJeff made it to church on time. Get this, they were finished by 8:20... less than an hour! We were just getting warmed up by then. Jeff went to church with her and then had time alone with her.
     I bet they talked about me! I bet they talked about me the whole time.
     Well, Good Friday provides more opportunities for me to do something nice to make my mother cry!
     As I re-read what I've written here so far... it sounds so awful.
     You know, Cheryl might be on to something: I am kind of pathetic.
     On this night, the night he was betrayed, Jesus gave humanity the gift of Himself... for all time... at the Last Supper. Yes, the Eucharist. Then the next day, in an act of love beyond our imagination, He took our sins to the cross and suffered the most dreadful of deaths for the benefit of all who would believe. He then conquered death and ascended into Heaven... and sits at the side of the Lord... and I treat this day as an opportunity to impress my mother.
     I am sad!
     Forget all of this... On Good Friday, I will go to church and say a Hail Mary or two, watch the Passion Play, and attend Stations of the Cross. I will offer all these things... as well as my prayers... up to the Lord, remembering in a special way my family, including my brothers and my mother.
     After all, it is the right thing to do on this most holy of weekends.
     Now... Let's see Jeff beat that!
   
     Hope everyone has a Happy and Blessed Easter!
     He has Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia! 
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