Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Sad Day

This darn near made me cry. I read it on the internet and almost broke down in tears. I’m sure it will tug at your heartstring as well.


As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a grave-side service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper's cemetery in the Kentucky back-country.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost; and being a typical man I didn't stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight.

There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn't know what else to do, so I started to play.

The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I've never played before for this homeless man.

And as I played "Amazing Grace" the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head hung low, my heart was full.

As I was opening the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, "Sweet Mother of Jesus, I never seen nothin' like that before and I've been putting in septic tanks for over twenty years!”

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sunday Funnies

A funeral service was held for a woman who had passed away. At the end of the service, the pallbearers were carrying out the casket when they accidentally bump into a wall. They heard a faint moan, opened the casket only to discover the woman was still alive.

She lived ten more years before dying. Her funeral was held in the same church. At the end of the service, the pallbearers started carrying out the casket when her husband stood up and yelled, "AND WATCH OUT FOR THAT WALL!"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Birthday Surprise

All the arrangements had been made and everything was in place. I picked out a nice flower arrangement and took it my florist friend at the store. Telling her what it was for she added some additional flowers and “freshened up” (replaced) a few others. I spent a great deal of time looking for a card I liked. Then, somehow, managed to smuggle everything into the house and hide it without being spotted.

Early Monday morning I prepared the surprise. I got the flowers from their hiding spot, signed the card, and made Char a nice cup of tea. Upstairs I pushed open the bedroom door, turned on the light, and loudly announced, “Looks like someone’s having a birthday today!”

The following conversation took place:

Char (sitting up in bed laughing): Yeah, somebody is, but not me.
Ralph (speechless):
Char (still laughing): My birthday is tomorrow.
Ralph: But . . . but today’s the 12th.
Char (still laughing): No, Ralph. Today is the eleventh.
Ralph: No (fill in the blank) !!

The surprise was on me. When Char finally quit laughing, I gave her the flowers. She would have to wait one more day for the card.

I was also surprised to learn – why you don’t earn any extra martial points, you don’t lose any by celebrating your spouse’s birthday early.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Adventures In A Water Taxi

After our excursion and snack in Cabo San Lucas, Char and Deb said they would like to see the beach. Not a problem all we needed was a water taxi. Having walked the pier before our excursion, I knew water taxis were abundant. We walked down the pier, negotiated what we felt was a fair price, and then things started getting a little strange.

Walking through the gate onto the pier a “federal official” greeted us. He was collecting a one dollar per person port fee. In exchange, we got this official receipt, which seems to have been used a time or two. Dyle took out a $20 bill and instantly, someone grabbed it and took off running. The “federal official” explained the man was going to get change. He wasn’t gone all that long but it seemed like it when you’re thinking the man and the $20 are gone for good. The man reappeared with a beer in his hand. Our “federal official” explained he had to buy something to get change and not to worry the man would drink the beer. Now the trip to the beach was costing the taxi fee, a dollar per person port fee, and a beer.

We moved down the pier to where the water taxi was to meet us. Was – is a key word here. Arriving at the gathering spot, I noticed the water taxi, the man we paid the taxi fee to, and our driver were all gone! I was starting to get a little upset when Char explained our driver was bringing the water taxi to the other side of the pier. That’s when things, including me, started to settle down a little.

Reuben was our driver/guide and spoke quite a bit of English. If he saw you pointing at something or heard you talking about something he would take you as close to that particular spot as possible. He also told us what we were passing and some interesting facts about the area. He was a good guide for our outing.

The peninsula had two beaches, one on each side. This one was called lovers beach, the one on the backside of the peninsula was called divorce beach – something for everybody.

This rock formation is known as lands end. It’s where the sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean.

Cabo San Lucas has a large sea lion colony. They just lie on the rocks and let the water taxi’s float by.

Occasionally you would come across a sea lion all alone on a rock. Reuben was quick to point out this was the effects of to much tequila.

Following the water taxi ride, we returned to the ship and said goodbye to Cabo San Lucas. Next up Mazatlan.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Sunday Funnies

There was a little church out in the country. It was painted white and had a high steeple.

One day, the pastor noticed the church needed painting. He went into town, bought one gallon of white paint, and started to task of painting the church.

Finishing the first side, he noticed he had already used half gallon of paint. Not wanting to go back into town he looked in an old shed and found a gallon of paint thinner. He filled up the paint can with as much thinner as it would hold and continued painting the church.

It worked out great. He finished the remaining three sides with that last half gallon of paint.

That night, it rained hard. The next morning the pastor stepped outside of the parsonage to admire his work and noticed the first side of the church he painted looked great but the paint on the other three sides had washed away.

The pastor looked up in sky in anguish and cried out, "What shall I do?"

A voice from heavens came booming back, "Repaint, and thin no more!"

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Cabo San Lucas - Part One

I’ve decided that for the next couple of weeks I’ll bore you with some details, stories, and pictures of our cruise. I took over a thousands pictures on the trip. You have to love digital cameras.

The first port we stopped in was Cabo San Lucas. It’s a town of approximately 40,000 people most of which are retired. The town has two main industries – tourism and fishing. Cabo San Lucas is known for marlin fishing.
Five cruise lines stop at Cabo but there is no pier where ships can dock because of the shallow water. Once the ship stops, they bring out the floating pier.

People walk off the ship onto the floating pier then climb aboard a water tender, which takes you to shore.

There were over four thousand people on the ship, most of them wanting to go ashore. All the boats in this picture are water tenders getting ready to transport people. On the return trip I asked the tender captain how long it took to get everyone off the ship. He said it took less than forty-five minutes.

We knew very little about any of the places we stopped so we signed up for an excursion at each port. Each excursion took us to places we most likely would not have found on our own and the guides (here the lady in yellow) told us some interesting facts and tidbits about the area.

Every excursion stopped at a local church. It was interesting that the churches were open and no matter the time of day, people were inside worshipping and praying. This is the Parish of San Lucas, originally built in the 1730’s

Then we were taken to town center, the place where people gathered. There we were treated to homemade fruit popsicles. They were actually quite tasty. This is a picture of one of the tree sculptures in town center. I call it - the ultimate tree house.

We stopped at Mi Casa, an open-air restaurant, for chips, salsa, and what else – tequila. Here’s Char drinking tequila with salt and lime. The sample sizes are quite small, which was fine with us. Also, if you buy beer anywhere it comes in six-ounce bottles.

The final stop on our excursion was Cabo Wabo. This restaurant/bar was started by rock musician Sammy Hagar of Van Halen fame. Supposedly, Hagar named it that after watching a man stagger along the beach after a night of heavy drinking. Pictured with us is a couple we meet on the excursion, Dyle and Deb. They were also from Colorado.

All the excursions lasted between three and four hours leaving plenty of time to venture out on your own. While we walked most of the time, it was nice to know you had the option of taking a taxi.

The four of us decided to stop at Taco Loco for a bite to eat. I really wanted the Mexican Combo but not for $114. We decided to split the four taco deal – it was only $75. Okay, okay . . . the prices are in pesos and we weren’t very hungry. We got four tacos and two beers for $5.80. The tacos are served plain - just meat on a tortilla. Dyle and I went to the condiment area and doctored them up with some chili and lettuce. Something to remember if you go to Cabo San Lucas is the chili is opposite of that we have here. At home, the green chili is usually hot; there it’s mild and quite flavorful. In Cabo, the red chili is hot - really hot. Char is convinced it blistered the inside of her mouth.

Next up – adventures in the water taxi.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Cruisin' Through The Holidays

In early November, Char and I had a conversation and this statement was made, “We have repeatedly said, ‘Some day we ought to’ followed by a number of things. The truth is we might be running out of some days.”

The decision was made so a text message was sent to the kids that read something like, “Okay, here's the deal. Mom and I have said that some day we would like to go on a cruise. We will be cruising to Mexico 12/20 to 12/27. Dad”.

We heard from all four kids within ten minutes. After the shock wore off, they were happy for us.

And that’s how Char and I spent Christmas 2009 – cruising the Mexican Rivera. The trip started with a flight from Denver to Los Angeles. You might notice Char is holding two boarding passes. She decided to hold mine after I lost it at the airport – twice. My love for flying was coming through.

Our ship was the Mariner of the Sea. A fifteen-deck ship that has everything you could want including a casino, a spa, a huge gym, numerous bars and restaurants. Occupancy of the ship during our cruise was 4,479 people. That includes the 1,200 people who worked on the ship.

Our cruise started at the port in Los Angeles. That’s when I noticed my cell phone no longer had service. Talk about a stressful day! First, I had cheated death by flying through the air and then with no cell phone coverage I had lost contact with the outside world! During the cruise, we made stops at Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. We also celebrated Christmas aboard the ship.

At the center of the ship was the promenade. The promenade had numerous shops, bars, and a cafe that was open 24 hours a day in case you needed a snack.

The promenade was where parades took place, the Captains reception was held, and people gathered on Christmas Eve to sing carols.

But not all the entertainment took place on the promenade. The ship also had an ice rink where we attended a couple different ice shows. At the opposite end of ship was a theater where plays and other forms of entertainment took place. We attended at least one show a night. There was also a movie theater that had a different film everyday.

There were three outside decks. That’s where you could find two swimming pools, five large hot tubs, a full size basket ball court, a running track, a rock climbing wall, and a nine hole miniature golf course.

It was easy to lose track of time and for that matter days of the week aboard the ship. When you entered an elevator, the day of the week was shown on the floor. We went through several time changes during the cruise. Prior to some excursions, we were told to stay on ship time, not the local time. Fortunately, when you turned on the television the first channel displayed a clock with the ships time on it.
Our room was on the sixth floor in the center of the ship overlooking the promenade. While the room was slightly smaller than the average hotel room, they were magical. You would leave for breakfast and when you returned the bed was made and the room was clean. Before retiring for the night another magical event occurred, a schedule of the following day’s activities along with a towel animal would appear.
Not all sleeping took place in the room. On the three outdoor decks, there were numerous lounge chairs for reading, resting and sleeping. For the most part the weather on deck was cool.
The ship had three executive chefs and 160 cooks so finding something to eat was never an issue. Our waiter, Frank, and assistant waiter, Jude, were great and made sure we had anything and everything we could possibly want. Every night there were eight entrees on the menu. One night Char was having a hard time deciding between chicken marsala and garlic shrimp so Frank brought her both. Most nights were casual attire but two nights were formal.

Coming up . . . various ports of call and some of the adventures we had.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Sunday Funnies

We have learned to live with ‘automated answering machines’ as a part of modern life. But, have you wondered what it would be like if God decided to install an automated answering system?

Imagine praying and hearing this: "Thank you for calling My Father's House. Please select one of the following options:
* Press 1 for Requests
* Press 2 for Thanksgiving
* Press 3 for Complaints
* Press 4 for All Other Inquiries."

What if God used the familiar excuse?

"I'm sorry, all of our angels are busy helping others right now. However, your prayer is important to us and will be answered in the order it was received, so please stay on the line."

Can you imagine hearing this: “If you would like to speak to:
* Gabriel, Press 1
* Michael, Press 2
* For a directory of other angels, Press 3
* If you'd like to hear King David sing a psalm while you are holding, please press 4.
* To find out if a loved one is in Heaven, Press 5, enter his or her social security number, then press the pound key."

Fortunately the one we will never hear is:

"This office is closed for the weekend in observance of a religious holiday. Please pray again Monday after 9:30 am. If you need emergency assistance when this office is closed, contact your local pastor."