What about you?

It’s finally dawned on me; you know much more about me than I know about you. For the past few years, with the aid of my columns and my blog I’ve pretty much laid everything on the line. Sharon, my very patient life companion, has during these years asked disbelievingly: “Are you sure you want to write about that?” Well, I’m afraid the answer would have to be; maybe.

Grandpa; a little plumper, then, but not too stupid.

Grandpa; a little plumper, then, but not too stupid.

After all, if the column is titled “What A Life”, and there was nothing in that space that described what’s passed in my considerable lifetime, then I’m reasonably sure not only you, but the editors would wonder; “Maybe we should change Mike’s column title to; “What?”. Readers have stopped me from time to time, and asked where I get the ideas for my columns, and quite often, it‘s an idea from a reader, if not, after a few feverish moments in front of a blank computer screen, a subject will pop into my moribund brain that I feel is column worthy.

But, back to today’s topic. I’ve covered everything from my medical problems, to my personal problems, my do-it-myself problems and all that’s in between. One thing I haven’t touched upon, are my dietary preferences.

Let me tell you first, what I don’t like; for instance; Calimari, slightly off-putting, when one realizes it’s octopus tentacles, and not bicycle inner-tubes as I first thought. And cole slaw; no thanks. And before you even think about it, you won’t find liver and I in the same room. Mayonnaise looks better on someone else’s sandwich, and if you plan to serve me a hamburger; hold the ketchup, I’ll use it on my fries.

Desserts—I really like desserts. Rich, chocolaty, and the creamier the better, that’s what tops my after dinner choices. In fact, I admit, that a time or two, when I’ve sat down in a restaurant, and have picked up one of the establishment’s dinner menus, I head right to their dessert menu in lieu of a nice juicy steak, baked potato, etc, etc, I’ll just go ahead and order that tantalizing dessert. While my dinner companions are devouring their main courses, I’m just finishing up the remnants of what to most folks, would be the conclusion of their meal.

And, surprisingly, there are a few desserts that I won’t touch, such as a Jello salad made with mayo, or mincemeat pie — and maybe desserts that I can’t easily identify.

I suppose in the world of the foodie, I’d be considered pickier than say the average housefly. But don’t let that stop you from inviting me.

Just let me know in advance if you want me to bring my own meal.

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I Know Babies

My wife and I had the good fortune a while back, to have lunch with a friend, Raenell, and her beautiful baby Noah. He was tucked into a carrier that doubled as his car seat. It was quite an affair, with enough buckles and straps to keep an astronaut in place. None of our five kids had been encapsulated as little Noah was.

The latest addition to the Foley list of babies, Bradley Eads, new son of Grand-daughter Rachel (Foley) and David Eads

The latest addition to the Foley list of babies, Bradley Eads, new son of Grand-daughter Rachel (Foley) and David Eads

I admired Noah, for he took it all in stride, smiling, as only babies can. I took a minute to study the technology used to create his little carrier; I was impressed. It also took me back a few decades, when my wife and I were trying to come to grips with our babies.

When our firstborn son, Patrick, was born, I wasn’t permitted to watch his birth—that simply wasn’t done. As a matter of fact, I didn’t hold him until we brought him home from the hospital.

Patrick was our entertainment. We enjoyed every change in his behavior, noted that he was no doubt the most perfect child born in the previous hundred years. Most all of our family agreed; but, one fellow with whom I worked, said: “That’s one ugly baby.” That is not how you win friends and influence people.

Auto safety in 1959 had become an issue with car buyers, and the manufacturers had only just begun to include safety belts as standard equipment. Taking a cue from the car makers, and not wanting Pat to become airborne at the touch of the brakes we purchased a “Baby Safety Seat” for him. It consisted of a lightweight metal framework, with a fabric seat. There were two flimsy U-shaped metal brackets that hooked over the back of the front seat. You merely hooked the gadget over seat, and stuffed the little passenger inside. No straps, buckles, safety belts—-not even a wrap or two of clothesline to keep him secured.

As far as diapering him, “Pamper”, was merely the way a baby was treated. His diapers were cloth, and after he’d soiled them, they were rinsed, placed in the diaper pail until they were laundered. My wife was a stickler for white diapers, and after bleaching, and laundering, she hung them one by one on the clothes line to dry. She felt blessed to have an automatic washer.

Sharon sterilized his bottles and nipples and warmed his formula. When we switched him to regular milk, we warmed that as well. There was a feeding schedule that had to be met, and at night, Sharon was up and down all night. You may be surprised to know that I took an occasional turn.

By the time Michele, our second was born, we’d streamlined the operation, for instance, we’d quit sterilizing bottles. We’d even stopped warming formula; in fact, we switched to fresh milk—-cold milk, right from the bottle. We realized that tip-toeing around the house if a baby was asleep just didn’t cut it; our kids weren’t going to be raised in silence. We brought all five of our kids up with all the normal sounds in an adult household. They slept through almost any racket.

When Carrie, the last of our five was born, she was treated to a movie the first night out of the hospital. Somehow, she survived, and has not held it against us. She did say that she would have preferred a different film. It seems “Whatever Happened To Virginia Woolf”, wasn’t her cup of tea.

Or milk.

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The Mansion House Inn

My wife Sharon and I recently spent a couple of nights at the Mansion House Inn, in Buffalo, Wyoming, and would like to tell you about it.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting Buffalo, and you live within a day’s drive, I’d encourage you to check it out. It rests at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains, at an elevation of around 4500 feet. Conveniently, the population is around 4500 souls.

The innkeepers: Johnny and Pam Pond

The innkeepers: Johnny and Pam Pond

We’d booked our room online with Priceline, who rated the Mansion House Inn at only two stars, frankly, I feel it was worthy of at least four stars. The exterior of the building isn’t up to much, but when you enter, I think you’ll be very pleased, for the interior spaces are much as they would have been a century ago, when it was a family home.

We were assigned the “Hole in the Wall” room, named not because of the situation of the room, but because of the nearby historical location where Butch Cassidy and friends hung out. I immediately noticed how clean the room and fixtures were, it was obvious that whoever did the cleaning cared about the place, and the comfort of their guests.

The beautiful stairway and entry of the Mansion House Inn

The beautiful stairway and entry of the Mansion House Inn

Johnny and Pam Pond who hail from Northern California, are the owners. Both were in professions that were a little faster paced than that of innkeepers. They retired some 11 years ago, and figured that working 60 or 70 hours a week as hoteliers, would be a great way to relax.

When we descended to the dining room for breakfast our first morning, we were greeted with orange juice, coffee, Irish Soda Bread, Banana Nut Bread, fresh fruit, and an individual egg and cheese soufflé (with my limited contact with such things, it seemed soufflé-ish to me) the food was tasty and hot, and served with a smile.

We had a chance to check out some of the other rooms, and all were given meaningful names for the era the home was built, and the Buffalo area.

If you should have the opportunity to stay at the Mansion House Inn, we think you’ll enjoy your stay, and Johnny and Pam Pond.

Tell them Mike sent you.

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Is it art?

Is it art? I’m not sure, but here are some examples for you to check out, and to determine if you feel “art” would be a proper definition of what is displayed.IMG_0013

A couple of weeks ago, while in Houston commiserating with our daughters, my “art” work became a subject of discussion. Or maybe it was the lack of “new” artwork. It seems since I have begun my mini-career as a columnist, my art has suffered, my abilities are seldom put to practical use, other than when I design Sharon’s (my wife) Valentine card, or our Christmas card.IMG_0014

It’s not that I don’t give picking up a brush now and then a thought, it’s just that something will come up that is a little more appealing to me, and the artistic urge passes.IMG_0019

So, we (Sharon, daughters Michele and Carrie, and various onlookers) chatted about my mostly inactive artistic efforts. “Why haven’t you done any art work, Dad?” I really didn’t have a satisfactory answer, but as the conversation progressed, I found myself asking: “Why not?”IMG_0025

About twenty years ago, I took a series of correspondence art courses, and completed quite a few pieces, and during the same time period, sold a few custom pieces, to less discriminating buyers. For all I know, the works may still be dangling on a wall, if they haven’t been relegated to a basement or attic.IMG_0023

I have chosen to let you, my bloggers, to see these example of my work—let me know, is it art?

Oh, by the way, because of the urging of my offspring, I have signed up for another art course. I’ll post some of the examples later on…maybe it will be “art”.

For some reason, my captions for the paintings shown didn’t show up on the blog, but if you’d like more info just ask.

Posted in Hobbies | 4 Comments

You Are How You Eat

I like to eat, (no surprise there, eh?) and should you happen to be anywhere near yours truly when the dinner bell sounds, rest assured that I’ll do my level best to be one of the first in line.

Meal time is when some of the things my mother told me, are brought to mind. She was a stickler for good table manners, and she reinforced her suggestions with a whack on the noggin ….if it appeared I wasn’t paying attention.

“Don’t chew with your mouth open.” Not wanting to tempt fate, I knew doing so was a sure way incur a meaningful head whack. “Keep your elbows off the table.” was another of her no-no’s.

Just today, while my wife and I were enjoying breakfast in a local eatery, I had an opportunity to observe some of the other diners as they consumed their meals.

I spied a fellow at a nearby table, shoveling large wads of pancakes into his oral orifice, and chewing them open mouthed. But that wasn’t the biggest turn off; what did it for me, was watching him lick his fork after each shovelful.

I’m riled when I see one of those TV commercials for something the advertiser wants you to think is tasty, and I know it isn’t. They’ll show an actor eating the gunk, who after downing a spoonful, then takes the spoon, turns it upside down, and licks it. I’m telling you, I’m not sold; I’m nauseated.

One other faux pas that my mother reminded me of…usually after I had jammed a wedge of cake into my mouth, was: “Don’t lick your fingers!” She didn’t need to add an “or else”, for I knew that should I be tempted to orally de-ice my fingertips, that would be a time when another sizable nugget would suddenly be sprouting on my head. I don’t finger lick, and when I see it done, well, I’d like to be the one to administer the rap on the offender’s cranium. And I don’t care if it’s “Finger lickin’ good!” to some, it’s not for me. Possibly that’s why napkins were invented.

Not me, but still messy

Not me, but still messy

One last tidbit, a few days ago, my wife and a couple of our kin, were eating hamburgers at a fast food restaurant and a family; a pair of parents, and a matched set of kids, sat behind us. They retrieved their food, and began eating. It wasn’t difficult to determine if they liked it or not; for it seems with every other bite, one of them would belch…loudly. They seemed to think it was funny. I know how to belch too, but certainly not while eating in a public place.

So friends, if you and your’s are dining out, and you should see me at a nearby table, and I commit one of these afore mentioned no-no’s, as you pass by, feel free to give me a “meaningful” head whack, I’ll know what it’s for.

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Human Pincushion

My neighbor, Warren, approached me the other day, and seeming to be solicitous of my health, said: “Mike, you’re old (I was only too happy to be reminded of the fact)—do you have any aches and pains?“. I had to report that at that instant, I was pain free. He seemed disappointed.

He said he wanted me to offer my body up for scientific research. Well, I suppose it’s scientific; seems he wants to volunteer my living remains to an acupuncturist, and allow him to have his (or her) way with me.

He thought that what I would go through, (should I survive) would provide fodder for another column. Although I felt it was a generous offer, since I’m always looking for subject matter for you to peruse over your morning coffee, I told Warren that I did like the idea; providing it was he, who had the procedure, and then could tell me all about it afterwards—-should he survive. Seems Warren was as reluctant to volunteer as I.

I’ve found, after a lifetime of medical reluctance and cowardice, that any medical procedure from a lobotomy to having a boil lanced, is always more tolerable when it happens to someone else. Listening to someone’s incantations of medical procedures gone awry, I can sympathetically utter “Oh my!” or “I can only imagine how that felt.” sometimes adding a phrase like: “Well, my Uncle Willy had that procedure five years ago, and he still limps.”

I’ve never had the pleasure of being treated with any medical procedure or medication originating from the Orient. Not that I have anything against such treatment, it’s just that other than Warren’s offer, it’s never been prescribed for any of my ailments—although, come to think of it, I might prefer acupuncture to another colonoscopy.

I’ve seen plenty of pictures of various parts of the human body pierced with tiny wires, some sporting what appeared to be Vienna sausages, or other hors d’oeuvres, some flaming like the main course in a fancy restaurant.

I’ve often thought; what if the acupuncturist, (even the name makes me nervous) should, be distracted by a phone call, while shoving a skewer through my arm, or other valuable hunk of my anatomy, and the puncturing device should suddenly be seen emerging from the opposite side of where it was inserted? Would the practitioner merely say; “Oops!”, and begin talking about the weather, as the excess yardage is withdrawn from my person? Or, would he quickly attempt to plug the hole with a cork or Band-Aid?

My, that hurts!

My, that hurts!

Nope Warren, I’m afraid that the course of action you’ve proposed is too extreme for me to want to volunteer at this stage of my life. I’m all for writing exciting stories of scientific breakthroughs, say a cure for dandruff or athletes foot—that might be worthwhile, but, you, as a former U.S. Army officer, should remember that a good officer wouldn’t ask his men to do something he wouldn’t. So, how about it, are you sure you don’t have a little twinge of pain that an acupuncturist might salivate over?

Go ahead, make the appointment, let me know where and when; I’ll be right there at your side, pen and notebook in hand.

You know Warren, it does have the makings of a good story.

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Free Stuff

All right, who doesn’t love free stuff? We can’t get enough of those “BOGO” deals, you know, the ones you spot in a grocery store aisle: “Buy one gallon of hair gel, and get the second gallon FREE!”. Of course, it may take a generation or two to use it up, but what the heck…it was free.

I recently wrote about getting more free stuff on or near my birthday…not the usual gifts the family presents me, but in the form of free desserts etc., which I happily consume, occasionally offering a forkful to a nearby family member…..should I notice that they may be a little wan, and have allowed a little drool to escape their lips, in hopes that I may take heed. I like free.

Or possibly you’ve done a little shopping on the internet, and you ordered a case of Chinese water chestnuts, because the seller offered “Free Shipping”. Well, I do understand, and I have taken advantage of similar deals myself. Mention the word FREE, and I’m interested, even though I may never have a need for the bargain item.

How many times have you visited fast food restaurant, to redeem a coupon that proclaims: “Buy one Three-Pounder, Quadruple Beef and Cheese Gut Buster Sandwich, and get another FREE!” Never mind that the pair of sandwiches would barely fit in your GEO’s back seat, and you’ll have to hire help to consume the excess, one was FREE!

But just today, I opened the mail and found the ultimate free offer. It did take me aback, I tell you. Have you ever heard of the “Neptune Society”? Some of you may be familiar with the organization, but if not, it would be rather easy to jump to conclusions, and assume it is possibly a group involved in oceanic studies, or deep sea diving, ala Jacque Cousteau. Well, if you thought that, friend, you’d be wrong, for the Neptune Society is a group trying to drive down the cost of funerals, and offers cremation services at a bargain price.

Would this be the ultimate crematory urn? For some, but not for me, even if free.

Would this be the ultimate crematory urn? For some, but not for me, even if free.

Neptune must have received some inside information, concerning my possible demise, and they wanted to get to me first, for they generously offered to enter my name into a drawing, where should it be selected, I could be processed absolutely FREE! Now how does one refuse such a wonderful offer? Quite honestly, should I be the “lucky” one, I’m afraid I’ll have to “just say no”, as our former First Lady, Nancy Reagan often said.

So, I’m willing to give my crematory lottery ticket to the first reader who steps forward, and claims it…… FREE!

Thanks anyway, Neptune, but just so you know, I’d prefer a FREE dessert.

A free virtual cremation to anyone who can tell me what this gizmo is.

It's no antique

It’s no antique

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The Clothes Horse

If you know me, you’d probably agree; my taste in attire leaves something to be desired. My lack of style is not something that happened in the past few months, no, I’m afraid it’s been acquired over a lifetime.

The first time I became aware of “style” was when I first attended junior high school, where I soon realized it cost money to be stylish. My earning capacity at 13, was limited. I was sartorially disadvantaged.

It wasn’t until I was an adult, that fashion and budget came together…..at the wrong time, fashionably speaking. The first of my trendy mistakes was when the Nehru jacket hit the market during the early 1970’s. If you’re too young to remember, Nehru jackets were cut much like a conventional suit jacket, but with a short, vertical, almost clerical collar. I thought they were quite spiffy, so, when on a trip to Lake Tahoe, I spotted one in a upscale men’s store, and bought it. It was creamy white in color, and when worn with a black turtle neck, to my mind, I looked rather dapper. The only problem was, that the cutting edge Nehru jacket turned out to be a fad. Within a couple of months, it went to the back of the closet, not to be worn again until a Halloween party some years later, as part of a costume. Unfortunately for my Nehru, a few inebriated friends ripped it into it’s component parts.

Nehru was responsible for at least one fad...and it was not his cap

Nehru was responsible for at least one fad…and it was not his cap

A year or so later, when leisure suits hit the market, I bought a couple. One in a fabulous Kelly green polyester, and another in maroon–a maroon jacket, and remarkable maroon and white hounds tooth check slacks. Again, I was on fashion’s cutting edge; but only for the briefest of times. I soon was told that polyester was not the fiber of which dreams were made. Rather quickly, I shoved my flammable finery to the back of the closet.

One other faddish trip to the wild side was also in the 1970’s, when I bought a rose colored jacket, and matching checked pants. Combined with a pair of white shoes, a white belt, and matching rose colored tie, I was a fashion force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, I was soon reckoned with…..by my boss. Not one to mince words, he greeted me in our headquarters’ offices one morning. He eyed me up and down, (me, in my gorgeous suit, lacking only matching rose colored glasses) and said: “When did you go to work for Mary Kay, Foley?” Unfortunately, I had to wear the outfit the rest of the day, but when I got home, rest assured, my pink suit was also relegated to the back of the closet.

Since that time, I have stayed away from cutting edge trends. No Tommy Hilfiger, no Polo, no pink, nor Nehru, nor backwards cap will you see gracing my person. For I have at last, happily become fashion’s pariah.

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Born Again

Some of you who know me, no doubt will do a double take. “It can’t be the Mike Foley I know.” Well, if you’re thinking in a religious sense, you’d be partially right, but let me say, I am a believer—and a regular church goer.

I labored most of my life under a Damoclean sword. The sword, being a heart murmur I’d had for most of my life. When I was 40, I wanted to prepare myself for the “end“. I felt that it was only right that I do what I could for my family’s future. I thought I needed to visit a doctor, and have him once and for all let me know…”Just how many years do I have left?….That is, providing my time left could be measured in years.

I looked healthy.

At 10 I looked healthy.

It was near my birthday in 1977, when I made my appointment with fate.

I dreaded the doctor visit, but, I sucked it up, and was in the doc’s waiting room at the appointed time. Our family practitioner, Dr. LeCavelier, a French Canadian, spoke with a very pronounced accent. He’d treated my family for their ills, but never me.

I’m not going to go into detail, but by the time the procedure had reached the: “Put your clothes back on, Mike.” stage, I was surprised that he hadn’t uttered a few, “tsk, tsks”, accompanied with a pitying look. I felt I knew the problem better than he, so, I casually mentioned: “Well, doc, I guess you heard my heart murmur.” His reaction was not what I expected; he looked puzzled. “No, Mike, I deedn’t hear zee heart murmere.” I went on to explain. “Well then, you must have missed it, because I’ve had a murmur for years; in fact, I wasn’t able to participate in Phys Ed classes in school, and I was classified “4-F” when I registered for the military draft.”

“Take off zee shirt, I weel sheck you again.” I removed my shirt, and he carefully listened to my innards once more. After he replaced the stethoscope around his neck, he told me: “Mike, zere is no heart murmere, your heart, eet sound perfectly normal.” I was stunned. It took a minute for me to digest what he’d just said. “Do you mean that I could pass an insurance physical?” I asked incredulously. “Yes, Mike, you could.” I went on down a list of previously banned activities. When I mentioned jogging, even then, he saw no problem.

“Are you absolutely sure? I just can’t believe that my murmur is gone.” He went on to reassure me: “I will schedule you for de EKG.” The next day, in a cardiologist’s office, I was hooked up to an EKG machine. When the technician finished, she quipped: “I’ve seen worse”. “Ok“, thought I, “just how much worse?”

Dr. LeCavelier called me later that afternoon, to give me the results: Mike, don’ worry, your heart is perfectly normal.” And, with a pat on my shoulder, he added: “Now’ you go an’ have de happy birday.” When I returned home, Sharon had the champagne chilled, and we toasted our good fortune—-several times.

It was a very happy birthday, and I was truly, born again

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Bet You Thought I Was Irish

I’ve labored most of my life under the assumption that I was Irish.

Tough to do since my Father, Ted Foley, was mostly Portuguese, with just a smattering of Irish, contributed from his father, (Pinkney Pearl Foley, (his real name, I kid you not), whose Irish connection in the US of A, goes back to the early 1700’s when some eager beaver Foley first arrived on Columbia’s shore.

Seems that through the years, the Irish genes have been diluted, until about all that is left is just the Foley name, although, I’m sure that there were more than a few Irish genetic contributors from the feminine side of the Foley tree.

I’ve been perfectly content to be considered Irish, and over the years have perfected a pretty fair Irish brogue; at least to ears on this side of the Atlantic.

It's not me, but could be...

It’s not me, but could be…

I no doubt would have developed a knack for schoolyard fisticuffs, had my mother not abruptly ended my Irish connection when I was a mere babe, and married a Scot. Most of us know that there is a lot more to the differences between the two Gaelic factions than which side invented the bagpipe, (obviously it was the Irish) or who brews the best whiskey.

At my age, there wasn’t much I could say about the situation, and I suppose for convenience sake, Mom felt that it only right that I shed my surname, and substitute that of my step-dad’s; McClellan. For the next 15 years, I was Scottish.

Seems that assumed names weren’t what the Draft Board were used to accepting, and I quickly became Irish once more. That should have made everything hunky-dory, but there was a fly in the genetic ointment; the Portuguese limb of the family tree.

Seems my grandma Foley was Portuguese through and through, so, her Mediterranean genes had trumped grandpa Foley’s diluted Irish connection.

What I’m trying to say is; I’m afraid that this St. Patrick’s day, you may find me dancing a Portuguese Fandango instead of an Irish jig, and in lieu of green beer, I may be knocking back a goatskin of homemade wine.


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