Bellbottom Blog

Scratching A Writing Itch From Time To Time

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Friday Potpourri Vol. 9

Welcome back!

First , an update on last week’s story about Celebrity House Hunting.

Our crack research team did a follow up which involved actually watching an episode of the show. The lengths we (well, actually @debihen) go to for you people.

She watched the episode where Barry Williams goes house hunting.  He settled on a little shack worth $8.5 Million. Branson, Mo is a freaking gold mine.

In other news, I heard the best reason ever for not having a blog.  @sonjablair said she doesn’t have one because of what it sounds like when she says the word “blog”. Sonja has a deep Southern accent, according to her, and when she says the word it sounds like “blawg”.  How great is that?!

Back to terrible tv for a moment, my wife watches Dancing With The Stars. Now, you know a show like that is interesting if there is someone next to you so that the snark can fly. Which is where I come in.

This year there is a kid who is in Disney shows, Urkel from Family Matters, Gladys Knight and until a couple of days ago, Martina N. the retired tennis player.  I would look up the spelling but she is gone so the hell with it.

Looks like it is Urkel’s to lose. But the part of the show that is most annoying, and this is a hard choice to make, is the part where the judges speak.

One guy can only speak when he is standing, one guy is British,(because every judging show must have one. might be a union rule) and there is a woman who doesn’t do much that is objectionable.

Maybe I should go with Tom Bergeron as the worst part of the show.  His mouth moves like a Sesame Street Muppet.  There is another person who does interviews but my wife fast-forwards through those, so from what I can tell, I don’t know. Let’s stick with Tom as the worst part.

One last thing:

I have been following the Trayvon Martin killing story with some interest. There was a tweet of mine that got a lot (well, a lot for me) of attention.

It went like this

A man kills an unarmed kid and everybody is to blame but the shooter. This is the ultimate WTF? moment.

I know being out at night can be scary, especially if you are a young kid, walking alone. When all of a sudden, someone challenges your right to walk in the area.  What is the proper thing to do, if you are that young kid?  Who is the guy coming at you?   He has no badge.  Does he want to rob you?

Well, the result of that encounter is just horrific. The young man is shot and killed. The shooter goes free, for now. And just like a moth to a flame, all the usual “experts” show up on every news channel.  Even Marcia Clark, for goodness sakes, the prosecutor who lost the O.J. Simpson case .

This story will fill a lot of cable news time and meanwhile the young man is still dead.  I am pretty sure if the situation was reversed.  Meaning if the kid had shot and killed the other person, he would have been in custody that night. And awaiting trial.

It maybe that the law in Florida makes it possible for the shooter to walk.  If that is the case, as reprehensible as it would be, that is that.  Justice has a lot of moving parts and they don’t always mesh as we would like.  That is just how it works.

One other thing, on a lighter note:

I am writing a series of stories called Finding Love. It is a little different type of thing for me. I hope you like it as it unfolds.






Finding Love

So, there he was. Let’s call him John.

34 years old, single. Almost ready to give up on the idea of finding someone who he will spend the rest of his life with.

Hell, almost ready to give up on dating.

But then, he started talking to someone he worked with. (I know! Never date someone you work with. It can be very awkward if it doesn’t go well.) But they were just talking. After a few conversations, they decided to go to a car show together.

So, that is not really a date. I mean she was bringing her 6 year old daughter with her.

He picked her up at the house she had just bought a year earlier. A charming cape cod on a corner lot.

It was January 27, 1991.  Cold as most northern Indiana winter days are.

The car show went pretty well. They managed to keep the little girl entertained while finding a comfort level with each other that seemed very natural.After a couple of hours, all the cars has been seen. It was time to take them back to their home. On the way out there was an advertisement for an upcoming circus. They bought three tickets.

At the side door, she asked him what he was going to do with the rest of the day. He said that the Super Bowl was coming on in a little while so he would probably tune in.

She said, “Why don’t you watch it here?”

He was a little surprised by the offer but said alright.

The daughter was very shocked by this turn of events. She said,”We don’t watch sports!”  Her mom said today they were. The game was Giants vs. Bills. Whitney Houston sang the National Anthem. Scott Norwood missed a field goal as time ran out.

It was a fun day. Over the next few weeks, they started to spend a lot of time together. Including going to the circus.  Not a day went by without them spending some time together outside of work. And then, just a few short weeks after that car show, they made a decision . He would move into that cape cod.

The date is March 10.

The move wasn’t very hard. He had the usual bachelor collection of unmatched stuff. One interesting element of the move was while the last pieces were being brought in,her mom showed up to visit.  Mom was unaware of the move.  Her displeasure was about to increase, because on March 14……

He proposed.  She accepted.  A few hours later, they had picked out an engagement ring and set a date. June 1st, 1991.

According to the calendar and her mom, this was going very fast, but to them it seemed like such a natural progression.

They weren’t two young kids.  Well, at least, he wasn’t.  She was 7 years younger than him. They had both experienced enough over the course of their lives to have sorted through all the different emotions that come with any relationship. They just knew that this was heading in the right direction.

The wedding would be at the Baptist church.

Here was the next problem.  Oklahoma Baptists don’t have wedding receptions. They have the ceremony and that is it.  But his dream was to have a nice wedding reception with food, drink and music. Invite friends and family.

Once again, the Bride-to-be”s mom had to be talked into it.

One end of the conversation went like this:

“They have a party. ”

“Right after the wedding.”

“How long?”

“From 7 til midnight”

“Yeah, there will be some beer.”

“Tell the preacher we are having a Baptist wedding and a Catholic reception.”


Let’s leave them right there for now.

Next week we will pick up where we left off.







This might turn in to a bit of a ramble.

I was thinking about friends over the weekend.  As befits people my age, the thoughts came up after reading the obituaries.

So, let’s go back a few years.

In June of 1978, I was hired by the Postal Service to work as an operator on a letter sorting machine.  Actually, over 200 people were hired in over the next year just to work on those machines. They were, for that time, state of the art technology. Now, they are museum pieces.

You would sit at a 20 key keyboard and a vacuum arm would place a letter a second in front of you.You would read the letter, key in the proper code and it would be sent on its way. You had to do this with a 95% or better accuracy or risk being fired.  It was a little stressful. We found different ways to deal with the stress.  There was a golf league. In the spring and summer, co-ed softball. In the evenings, too many probably , there were the local bars. But we were young and the worries of liver damage were for old folks.

It was an interesting time for all of us. We were making more money than we had ever made in our young lives. $6.90 an hour.  So many of us, young and dumb.  The people I met back then are my oldest living friends. I don’t really have any to speak of from high school.  These guys are it.  We were part of a shared experience that only we understand.  Much like any factory group, you tend to stick with the people you came in with.  I know factory sounds like a strong word when you think of the mail, but in the distribution plants, it is noisy and dirty.  In the air there is a constant supply of paper dust.   I knew guys who worked for General Electric and our experiences were relatively similar.

So,in the group that I started with, on June 8, 1978 was a noisy young woman and a slightly older man.

His name was Steve. He was 39.

We got along really well. He told me his life story. And it was colorful, to say the least.

He had, at various points in his life, worked as a sheriff and worked for NASA.  His home state was Ohio and he got there as often as he could.

Funny and opinionated. Charming but with a hair-trigger temper. He knew what he wanted in life and was going to make sure he got it.

And he was my entrance into the life of hanging out in bars.  Something that would take up a considerable portion of the next 13 years of my life.

A group of us would get off work at midnight and head to the closest bar that we were all comfortable in and stay until closing.

He was great company and a wonderful storyteller.

The last time I saw him was about 10 years ago. He was still working at the main post office, fixing machines and alternately complaining and joking.  As you do with people you have known for a long time, we got caught up with what we both had been up to since the last time we saw each other.

This past weekend I read that he had passed away in hospice care at the age of 72.  He is going to be buried in Ohio with full military honors, said the obituary.

One story sums him up for me.

I talked to him at work one day and he said how tired he was.

I asked what he had been up to.

He said, “I went to Dayton for a cup of coffee.” (We were in Fort Wayne a few hundred miles away)

“I wanted coffee and the best coffee I know is in this coffee shop in Dayton.”

“How much did you have?”

“Just one. I had to get back here for work,” he said with a shrug.

So, this has left me reflecting on friendships.

I mentioned how close we all were in the early days.

And I realize that time passes, things change.

In my life, when we got married, I stopped going to bars, eventually stopped drinking altogether. No more golf league. And wound up not seeing any of the people I had invested so many years with.  That was by choice and I don’t regret that choice at all.

I didn’t think raising a family from a bar stool would be a good idea. I saw others try it and fail.

But…..when I read a friends name in the obits, there is always a small, lingering, nagging doubt in my head about the kind of friend I was to them.

I don’t have an answer to that.

I guess I could just wind up writing an unending string of posts about them when they pass.

Or maybe just realize that they made up a specific part of my life that helped me get where I am today.

Yeah, let’s go with that for now.


Friday Potpourri Vol. 8

Another week, another challenge.

I really didn’t think these Friday posts would amount to anything when I started them.  But a small, and I emphasize small, portion of people who read these seem to like them.

So, for that handful of people, here we go.

Lost in the excitement over my new rotary mower was the encounter I had with a lawn service I hired to apply weed killer and fertilizer to the lawn.

Imagine my excitement when the day after I bought the mower, parked outside of the house, was the lawn company.  The technician was rolling up his hose.

A few minutes later, the doorbell rings. My next door neighbor hands me the bill the lawn service left on his door for the application.


It would be understandable except for the fact that over every garage door in our area, etched in stone, is the house number.

So I called the number on the receipt. The lady on the other end was very helpful. “Oh, we will reschedule that right away, sir.”

You might have noticed a slight pause after that last sentence. That was me, just now, calling the lawn service again to find out why they still haven’t been here.

This time I got the “Let me talk to the manager. sir” answer. Monday was promised.

At our last house, we lived on a small lake and you couldn’t put just anything on the yard when it came to chemicals. It would find its way into the water and affect the fish and fauna. But now i can go nuclear on weeds. I am like Dr. Strangelove. No mercy will be shown. HAHAHA!

In other news, I found a show called Celebrity House Hunting.

The word celebrity is being stretched out of shape these days. I mean, one episode had the guy who played Mini-Me in the Austin Powers franchise. He has a million to drop on a house? Really?

But the one that sent me to Twitter to ask a question was Barry Williams. You know him as Greg Brady from the Brady Bunch.  How does he have any money approaching a million?  Regional theater pays that well?

Thanks to my crack researcher, @debihen , (Yeah, we now have a research department here at the Bellbottom Blog) , we find out that Mr. Williams has a gig in Branson, Mo.  Brady Brunch. At the Yakov Smirnoff Theater.

It sounds delightful, yes?

Two hours of singing, dancing and reminiscing with Barry Williams. And they throw in a brunch. It is at the ungodly hour of 10:00 in the morning. But when else would you have brunch?

And at the low, low price of $34.95 a person.

He is on pace to do 182 of these. So, back to the original question, where does he get a million to buy a house? In Branson.

Well, the NCAA Tournament starts up in a couple of hours, which means :

Endless Capital One commercials

Spandau Ballet earworms  “I know this much is true”

More Capital One commercials

Some Basketball followed by

Direct TV commercials with Charlie Sheen in them

Who would have thought, last fall, during all the Two and a Half Men drama, he would be doing commercials?  Yeah, that was plural. He does one for Fiat as well. I didn’t even know they still made those.

I can see by the word counter that I have probably done enough for this week.

As always, if you have any suggestions, questions or subjects you would like me to tackle here, just let me know.




Mower Update

I know everyone is wondering how the rotary mower experiment worked out.

Well, in my mind, I pictured me sailing along , singing  a song, not much exertion.

My mind is out of its mind.

It was WORK, people!  Not just the hour it took to put the thing together, including a trip to the hardware store because, of course, it took a metric wrench to assemble it.

I thought we settled that whole metric vs. standard thing in the ’70’s.

Anyway, I got the mower into working condition and off we went.

The front yard is very small, so I felt great. Now the back yard is a different kettle of fish.

When we bought the place last fall, my wife and I noticed the back yard has a sizable hill.  So most of the mowing is on a 45 degree angle.  Or you can choose to go up the hill and then down the hill,

I tried the down the hill, up the hill approach first. Turns out my slightly out of shape body really, really doesn’t like going uphill.

After a small break to let my heart get back in rhythm, we tried the 45 degree approach .  Much better. I have recovered enough to write this.

In other news, @heinakroon wrote a post about the house fire he survived.

He got everyone out safely.

I suggested what he did was heroic, he would deflect that praise.  He thinks it was instinct.

But not everyone keeps their head in a stressful situation, and waking up in the middle of a fire certainly fits the definition of stressful.

Go to his blog and read his story.  See what you think.

For me, he is a hero. Saving his life and two others, even the dog.




A Quick Post

Monday at the Bellbottom Blog.

Nothing much going on .

Spring is here it seems. And since I gave away my last mower before we moved, it was time look for a new mower.

Our yard is a lot smaller than the last one. We had just under a half an acre and now I would guess we have half of that.

So, a riding mower was out.  And I was a little tired of self-propelled mowers.

Which led me to a choice I have always wanted to try.

A rotary mower.

That is right, my friends. We here at the Bellbottom Blog are reducing our carbon footprint.

No more gas. No more “Will it start” worries every spring.

No more “I can’t run it because somebody is sleeping”.

For the low, low price of $79.00, I have the perfect piece of lawn equipment at long last.

One other thing, I have been on Twitter for over a year, and I have noticed that people seem undecided about who to count as friends. You know what I mean. Can people you talk to through the internet be considered real friends?


So, if you have commented on any of these posts or we have been involved in regular conversations on Twitter or , best of all, if you have subscribed to this humble blog, we are friends.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thanks for making my life interesting in a lot of different ways.



Friday Potpourri Vol. 7

Well, that was an interesting week.

First of all, I want to thank everyone who read the post on March 14 about my Mom.  I heard from a lot of people who I don’t usually hear from when I write something. I know one person had trouble leaving a comment on WordPress. I hope that was just an isolated thing. The feedback can be the best part of blogging.

We here at the Bellbottom Blog have to make a correction to a previous posting. Poing is not outside of Berlin. It is outside of Munich.  Thanks, Ken for setting me straight. And shame on the rest of you who knew this and just let me go on with that error sitting there.

So, looking over the last week in Twitter, I am reminded that I got spammed.  @Patrixmyth caught it and helped me fix it.

Amy at @lucysfootball wrote a beautiful tug-at-the-heartstrings post about her Nephew and his visit with her.  Which reminded me of a Harry Chapin song.

Now, I am a very big Harry Chapin fan. Saw him in concert three times during the ’70’s.  His concerts were a lot of fun. Always a couple of hours long full of stories and story-songs.

The song I was reminded of was NOT Cats In The Cradle.  I like the song and understand the sentiment behind it. It was written by Sandy Chapin, Harry’s wife. Talking to him about his relationship with his own son.

The life of a musician, at least in Harry’s case, is one of almost constant travel. He would do over 200 concerts a year. A lot of them for charitable causes. He would stay after concerts and sign autographs for anyone who donated to WHY (World Hunger Year).  This was years before Band-Aid.

Anyway, the song I was reminded while reading Amy’s reach -for- the -Kleenex post, was Dancing Boy.  He wrote this for his son because his son as a little toddler did a very unique dance which Harry would imitate on stage before the song.

Here is part of the song:

Yes, I’m so proud when you are with me, That my heart sticks in my throat.

And when you stop to strut your stuff, My eyes go all afloat.

And when I have to leave you home, as sometime it must be.

I feel that with my leaving, I leave too much of me.


Yes, you’re my dancin’ boy and it’s scary how you trust me.

Just one look from you and I come pouring out like wine.

You’re my dancin’ boy,I’m sure by now that you must see,

You’re dancin’ means much more to me than any dream of mine.

It was a cute song when I was young, but with parenthood, it takes on a whole different tone.

In other news, the NCAA tournament is on and as usual I am losing our friendly competition here at the house.

To all of the (I never watch sports, and I am winning my bracket) people, please hush.

I could go on but I have to put my bracket in the shredder.




On this date, March 14, 1926, in a small house in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a child was born. A baby girl.

She was having a lot of trouble and the doctor had just came out of the bedroom to tell the man of the house that he had done all he could, but it looked like the baby would not survive.

The man placed himself in the doorway of the house, blocking the doctor’s exit.

He told the doctor to get back in there and save that little girl.

The man was 6′ 2″ . A railroad worker with a booming voice. He filled the frame of the door,

The doctor went back in the room and I imagine since he had done everything else possible, he probably said a little prayer for the baby and for himself.

Well, fortunately for all concerned the child survived.

She went on to live for 81 years.

Was married for over 50 years. Had three boys. Even though she was only about 4′ 10″, all three boys weighed over 10 lbs. at birth.

If you were her friend, you were a friend for life.

She was an old-fashioned neighbor. She knew everything about her neighbors and they knew everything about her and her family.

She loved John Wayne and watching Perry Mason.

Loved the Mills Brothers and HATED Tony Bennett. HATED. You could get her wound up by complimenting his hair.

“That’s not HIS,” she would say.

She outlived her mom and dad and all three of her brothers.

When her oldest got married and had kids, she was a terrific grandmother. Spoiling the children. Teaching them card games. Poker was her favorite.

Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday. She accepted no help from anyone when it came to preparing the meal. Even when you could tell how much it took out of her in the later years of her life.

It was the last Thanksgiving when she felt ill early that evening.  A trip to the hospital. Two different cardiologists. By the next morning, she was gone. Aortic aneurysm was the guess.

She left behind a devastated husband. Sons who miss her to this day. And grandkids who have great memories of their grandma.

I know all of this because I am her oldest.

There is one other thing about this date that changed my life but I will write about it another day.

Today, this is for Mom.

Oh, and if Grandpa is looking in, thanks for keeping the doctor there a little longer. Things worked out really well.




Friday Potpourri Vol. 6

I know that I skipped a Friday.

But these interactive things are hard to pull off if no one plays along.

So, I have decided to mine my interactions for the last week on Twitter and see where that gets us. I will leave the Twitter handles off of the tweets since I didn’t ask permission to use them.

But first of all, I have a question.  What makes you happier on Twitter: a retweet or a favorite?

For me, if it is done by a follower, I really like a “favorite”.  It is the equivalent of a nod or a smile of recognition.

Now if it is someone I don’t know , I prefer a retweet.  I am not overwhelmed with followers so that works.

I found out that the Oreo cookie is 100 this week.

I really like chocolate chip cookies better, but the genius of the Oreo is that you can’t make them at home.  ANYBODY can make chocolate chip cookies. And if you know someone that does make Oreos at home, I don’t want to hear it.  They have wayyyy too much time on their hands.

John Belushi died 30 years ago this week.

At the time he was a cautionary tale for young people in show business. That is what is always said by supposed experts.  Fact is, if that was the case, Chris Farley would still be showing up in Adam Sandler movies. People who decide that they are invincible don’t care what happened in the past.  And then as Dan Ackroyd said once, “certain winds get in their sails that they have no control over.”

If you get a chance watch Continental Divide again, Nina  at @ninatypewriter and I think it was his best work.


I have a dozen or so tweets about this place outside of Berlin.  Ken relly made us curious about this mythical sounding place. Amy at @lucysfootball has covered it better than I could, so go there. Not yet. Wait until I am done here.

The Ricki Lake Show

I am being followed by the Ricki Lake Show.  The show itself doesn’t start until September.  So look for me on Middle Aged Grandparents Who Are Addicted To Twitter.  Fingers crossed.

Also, if I put part of a song lyric on Twitter no fair Googling the lyric to try to play along.

Alright. That’s all I have for you.

Enjoy the weekend.

And as always, we here at the Bellbottom Blog wish you….


Keeping The Peace

A story from my old hometown is the catalyst for today’s post.

Two men got in a fight outside the oldest bar in Fort Wayne the other night and the result was one of them killing the other. What was the great life ending offense, you ask? The shooter was looking or staring at the victim’s girlfriend.

Now, I know the bar in question because way back when, in my single days, I spent quite a lot of time in bars. This place is the very definition of a neighborhood bar.

I have seen almost every kind of argument possible. But why this one sticks out to me is that it seems entirely preventable.

So, according to the report, the shooter was staring at the victim’s girlfriend, which upset the victim.  The victim was a friend of the bar having done work for the owner over the years. After some prolonged arguing, the bartender called the owner, explained the situation, suggested that they were not going to calm down, and asked the owner for advice.  The owner said close the place down and have everyone leave. In the parking lot, things escalated into the fatal shooting.

What was the mistake?

Simply put, as a friend of the bar, the victim should have been given consideration over the other patron.  You throw everyone out except the victim and his girlfriend. Distance usually lessens the willingness of participants to want to continue the argument. Keep them inside with the doors locked until the antagonist leaves. Maybe call the police if he doesn’t.

Simple.  Common sense.


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