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Monday, May 25, 2009

Remembering on Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, a day on which we are to remember and honor the men and women in uniform who gave their lives in defense of our country, and for many others, a day on which we remember and honor all of our family members who are no longer with us on this earth. So what do we as American generally do on Memorial Day?: We cook out, go to the beach, do yardwork, or just plain goof around. Now I'm not saying that doing those things is bad (after all, Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer--and a day off for most), but perhaps it's not completely in the spirit of what Memorial Day is supposed to represent.

On Memorial Day 1998, I dragged my future wife to Belleville, Michigan, a town halfway between Detroit and Ann Arbor where several of my ancestors are buried. My maternal great-grandmother, great-grandfather, and a slew of others on my mom's side of the family have their eternal resting spots in Belleville. In the words of the old Blind Lemon Jefferson song, I "made sure their graves were kept clean." I was probably the first person to do this in many years, as I can remember having to tear away lots of overgrown grass away from the stone markers. Unfortunately, that was the last time I've been to Belleville, so I'm sure their graves are covered by tall grass. I can only hope that the markers are not broken.

It bothers me that only once in my life have I visited the gravesites of my deceased family members on Memorial Day, but it feels like the holiday is usually planned several weeks in advance with other obligations, so I never have the chance to lay any flowers and ensure that the graves "are kept clean." I want to do this again.

I've really only visited the graves of ancestors several generations removed. It's a lot easier to remove yourself emotionally since they're people I never actually knew. I can visit with the detachment of an historian. I haven't visited the resting places of my grandparents since their funerals, but at the risk of sounding sappy, the memories of my departed family members are in my heart and soul. Not a day goes by when I don't think of at least one of my grandparents, so everday is Memorial Day (so far, I've been very lucky in that my parents are both still alive and well), so I really don't feel the need to go to their "final resting places."

When I say that I think of my grandparents everyday, I don't mean that I dwell on their existences for hours on end, usually it's a brief flicker of a moment where I'll reflect on something they said or something we did together. Maybe I'll remember a holiday at my grandparents' house when I was a kid, or chuckle at the the thought of one of my Grandma C.'s infamous puns that she was so fond of saying. My head is full of these little snapshots from my past.

Wow, that sure ended up as an unintentionally sentimental post. I'm a Midwesterner, I'm not supposed to write about things like this. Oh well, perhaps this will give all of you in cyberspace a little more insight into the real me.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Re-acquainting myself with Michigan's state bird: the mosquito (and other exciting thoughts)

First day of the Memorial Day weekend, and the mosquitoes are out in full force in our yard. Those buggers are everywhere, making yard work an adventure. This is what happens when one lives in a community, Okemos, that was essentially built over swampland.

I was able to mow the front yard, but the backyard will have to wait until tomorrow. Our neighbors, a young couple maybe in their late twenties or early thirties, are having a pleasant evening in their backyard, playing a game with the tiki torches going. I don't want to disturb them with my loud lawnmower. Besides, at this point it's nearing eight o'clock--too late to start anything new. I'm sure all of this is fascinating! Hope I'm not lulling anyone to sleep.

I'm trying to devise of some future blog entries. I've entertained the thought of doing some reviews of some forgotten gems in my music collection. Recently, I've discovered the $7.99 bargain music bin at my favorite music retailer in the area, Schuler Books and Music. The fact that I also get an employee discount on top of that makes it doubly nice. (Yes, I am one of those old-timers who still buys CDs. I understand the appeal of downloading music, but I still get a thrill of actually holding the music in my hand). I've found some fun old stuff in this bargain bin that I once owned on cassette, but purged of. Stuff like the first Georgia Satellites album and Midnight Oil's "Diesel and Dust." Anyway, I thought it might be fun to write about some of these old gems with a little revisionist spin. For example, most people who even remember the Georgia Satellites will immediately think of their novelty hit, "Keep Your Hands to Yourself." Truth is, there was lot more to that band than that song. So, keep your eyes peeled for my reviews of musty old albums from the eighties.

And now for something completely different: Dick Cheney needs to shut his yap. Cheney spouting off about the inadequacies of the Obama administration is akin to Matt Millen telling Martin Mayhew (current Detroit Lions general manager) how to run a successful football franchise. Dick (what an appropriate first name), do us all a favor and go away.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Been so long, I almost forgot my password!

Hi everyone, I'm still alive!

I thought I'd take a few minutes between watching the Preakness and going outside to plant some sod in the backyard to say "hi" to all one or two of my loyal readers out there in cyberspace.

It's been one busy April and May for me. Between my oldest son's chess tournaments, soccer games and practices, baseball games and practices, and other sundry kid and school-related stuff, not to mention my Facebook obsession (which takes away valuable time that I could be spending doing important stuff like blogging), I've not been able to write anything in here.

I really don't want to write in here if I don't feel like I have anything interesting to say. I don't know if writing little hodgepodge posts is all that interesting to anyone. Then again, nobody really reads this blog, so what difference does it make?

Today, after my son's early morning soccer game, I got to go out by myself and drop off my lawnmower to get the blades sharpened at a place just down the road from me. Don't worry, I'm not going to write about that (even though I'm sure it sounds utterly fascinating). Being out, alone, with no kids, meant that for at least a little while, I could do what I wanted to do. So, between dropping off the lawnmower and doing the other "important" thing on my errands list (going to the supermarket to pick up milk, grass seed and other boring sh*t), I stopped off at my favorite "toy store for grown-ups," Schuler Books. Now, I used to work at Schuler Books (and in fact still moonlight there from time to time for extra money and to get the store discount). I saw some of my bookstore friends, browsed the music section for awhile, and bought the new Michael Zadoorian book, Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit. I thought about snagging the new Bob Dylan CD, but didn't. Instead, I picked up Taj Mahal's Giant Steps, which I saw in the $7.99 bargain bin.

Remember me going on about the new Tragically Hip album, We are the Same? I ordered it from Canada and got it in the mail about three weeks ago. I've been listening to it, along with the rest of the Hip discography, pretty much non-stop for the last month. More on that later.

Okay, don't know that this post was interesting at all. Probably not. Gotta go outside and plant some sod now. See ya later.