On Sept. 8, 2009 Brent Layton of Escalon and Nikki Freitas of Riverbank got the news no military parent ever wants to hear … their son had been killed in action while serving his country.
As I drove off after work the other day, my otherwise "healthy" car stopped running. Right there in the middle of the street.
When we - meaning the group of reporters and I that work together each week to put stories into print - sat down for our Wednesday morning staff meeting this past week, the question was raised about how we were going to mark the upcoming 10th anniversary of 9/11.
The seasons move on. The schools are back in session. We're headed toward Friday night football, cold and rain, and Christmas. Forget shopping. Did you know Riverbank officials are already planning the Christmas parade? "But not yet, not yet," as the hero's friend in the movie Gladiator says. The summer crickets are still calling, metaphorically, and doves still cooing across town.
With the start of the new school year, I have a senior, a junior, and a first grader. The two teens are dialed in, they know their routine and it's been an easy transition from one grade to the next. However, with my little one, it's been a different story.
My original plan for this month's column was to discuss my transition into "retired life" and the phases I went through on the path to ultimately accepting that decision. It was something parallel to the five stages of grief, starting with a denial and isolation then ending with acceptance.
You could say I have a little history in this neck of the woods.
The lockout is over, but the effects of a disgusting and greedy battle between overpaid athletes and their employers has painted a grotesque image onto the canvas of professional sports.
There's nothing quite like a vacation.
As I write this I'm sitting in a borrowed apartment that was set up for our arrival by my friend Dulcey. I can hear bananaquits (or Sugarbirds) and frogs that sound similar to very loud crickets, a rogue rooster crowed at the break of dawn, and the ocean is a short walk away from our back door.
With all respect to my colleague, Teresa, this month's column could be easily titled "Daddy Musings."
As I write this, it's 100 degrees outside and the air conditioning has gone out at The Oakdale Leader office. Fortunately for me, I chose the first day of this calamity to telecommute. However, for some of my coworkers, having to be in the office all day with only ceiling fans and some box fans to circulate hot air makes the hair and the clothes tend to cling where they're not wanted.
Ah, the wonder of the Internet and the remembrance of things past.
Rafting is all the rage at this time of year and seeing the enthusiasts buck through the white water rapids or float lazily down the calmer stretches of the Stanislaus River, I'm reminded of my personal experiences of going down a river.
On the cusp of another holiday - bracing for the fireworks of July 4 - my mind goes back just a few weeks to the last official holiday, Memorial Day.
After the excitement wore off when I first heard I was going to be a grandfather, I wondered if I was destined to be a loveable old man who wore a little fedora with a feather and plaid Bermuda shorts with calf-high dark socks in sandals. Or, if taking after my family lineage, it was time for me to get in the role of 'Papa' and eventually start having a garden with zucchini, fava beans, tomato plants and other vegetables like both my grandfathers had when I was young.
By definition, 'vacation' means an 'extended period of recreation' either at home or in travel. The word has also gained the reputation of meaning you get some rest while you are on vacation but that particular four-letter word did not seem to be on the itinerary for this trip.
Recently, one of my favorite websites, Uni-Watch.com, had a piece written titled "One Fan's Experience with Jersey Addiction" and it got me thinking of my own special closet that houses over 40 jerseys of past and present MLB, NFL, and NHL teams.
It's been a while since I've written a column for The Leader, and this is my last one before saying goodbye to my coworkers and colleagues in the community.
Sometimes writing a monthly column seems like putting together my life, chapter by chapter. I have even had more than one person suggest all the columns be put together into a book but who knows if that will ever happen.
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