Capturing the smaller moments

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and long weekend. I’ll spare you the turkey jokes because I know I’m done with them. We had a great time with our families, ate some damn good grub and enjoyed a nice and relaxed pace for a few days. Just what the doctor ordered.

We took a bunch of photos and I considered sharing some of them here … but then I fell asleep trying to pull it together. No seriously, I literally dozed off in the middle of a photo review. Not that the photos were bad or that supremely dull, but I just find myself more and more disinterested in staged photos. Sure, it’s great to have a shot of the family eating together at Thanksgiving, but I want more than that.

Which now leads to today’s very important message …

The kids love watching old home videos. While it is a pain in the ass to hook up our archaic and bulky equipment in order to play these videos, it is worth the effort just to watch them giggle or hide their face in embarrassment. They are the only movies we can all agree to watch together right now without incident so another reason to throw them on from time to time.

And now I’ll try my best not to cry thinking about them as little ones.

Sniff. Sniff.

We recently had another request to get out the old family films and because we are award winning parents, we obliged. Out came the box of cassettes and the obnoxiously large video recorder machine and we were well on our way. I was given the choice of first video to be played (imagine that) and began to leaf through the options: Christmas 2007, Easter 20006, Jack’s Birthday 2004, First Day of School 2010. As I contemplated my options, I came to a realization that bothered me a bit … and then bothered me a lot.

While we had all of the so called major occasions covered, we were missing the beautifully mundane day to day stuff.

I wish we had captured, I don’t know, day 26 of the 2009 school year once the morning routine had been established. I have very little recollection of how we operated. I’d even like to know what the kids preferred for breakfast back then.

I wish we had captured the “time to go to bed routine” back in 2007. I vaguely remember needing to find my daughter under a pile of blankets before she was carried upstairs to bed.

I wish we had captured the intense indoor basketball games between me and my son in 2008. I’m pretty sure I dominated him with my array of three pointers.

I understand the need to capture the holidays and all of those key “life moments”, when typically, the entire family is together and everyone is in a joyous mood. But we way underrate the “normal” day to day events. Those moments are so easily lost in our cluttered and aging minds, but they really are the building blocks of our lives. They are times and details I want to vividly remember and in order to do so, they need to be captured by the latest and greatest recording device.

A perfect example of this: since she first learned to walk, my daughter loves to stand on my feet and have me walk around the house. It may now raise my heart rate to dangerous levels since she is so much bigger, but I love it to death. And thankfully, my wife caught it in action without either of us being aware of it.

jamie and dad

That my friends, is the perfect photo (and no, not because the camera tricks you into believing I have a fantastic looking beard).

The pic is candid and captures a moment in time that we’ll now cherish forever. No holiday pose or forced “moment”, just a snapshot of my nine year old daughter still enjoying her father’s presence.

Sniff. Sniff.

As I started to piece together this post, I looked back through all of our photos from the past few years and realized I’ve failed miserably in capturing the spontaneous day to day events in our lives. Plenty of plant photos of course, and a ton of vacation shots, but nothing like the moments I’ve just waxed poetic about.

But my wife nailed it a bunch of times because you know, she kicks some major booty.

Here is my daughter still in her dress-up phase from a few years back.


She had no idea this was being taken and I’m so thankful that it was captured on film. Those dress-up days are already in the rear view but we’ll have this reminder forever.

My son had a Minecraft phase a few years back but I’m not sure I would clearly remember this a few years from now. Again, kudos to my wife for picking up on this.

jack computer

So while we’ll always take those large family shots around the holidays.


I want to make a concerted effort to photograph the fact that I still carry each of the children on my back up to bed each night.

I want to capture the routine of my wife making from-scratch-pancakes each and every Sunday morning.

I want to document the much more subtle and understated celebrations of the kids 1/2 birthdays.

Maybe most of you are more evolved than I am and have been on top of these moments with your respective families. If so, you rock. But for me, I know my goal is to now be mega aware of capturing these moments in time. The kids are 13 and 10 right now and those precious kid years are diminishing way too fast.

What I’m not thankful for

Here is the list:

Large kid themed shopping carts – I am proud of the fact that we never allowed our children to spend even one second in one of these awful vehicles. The turn radius alone guarantees at least one display will be toppled over each visit. Not to mention the aisle clog factor is way upped when these are involved.

Nip the whiny-kid-thing in the bud early and make them ride in a standard cart under all circumstances. Life isn’t always fun kiddo and being pushed around while eating animal crackers ain’t a bad way to go through life.



The Property Brothers – Dude. Enough already. They’ve been around for like a decade already right? 15 minutes ain’t over?

Twins weird me out in the first place and these two Stepford Husbands just make me never want to put on HGTV ever again. Admittedly, I’ve only watched a few episodes but that was enough to draw a definitive conclusion. Home rehab is never as easy as they make it seem and you should never knock down a wall looking that good/creepy.

You know the long play here is to make it into TV/Movies (their father was an actor/director … yes I do my research) and in fact, Drew made it into one of my holiday flicks which made me delete it immediately. I have more integrity than that.

Kudos though to some fantastic facial hair.



My facial hair – no lie, that is like 4-5 days worth of growth. I’m an embarrassment to middle aged men everywhere.



Food Network programming – I was a huge fan of the Food Network back in the day when it was all about the cooking and none of the showmanship. I blame Emeril for the inevitable downfall into celebrity and style and no substance.

But it is at an all time low right now with all of the game shows and 97 different versions of Chopped where 8 year olds are making appetizers out of gum and duck bills. And I don’t need to watch contestants try to cook while holding a bowling ball in their pocket. Thank God Ina Garten is still around to keep some of the original integrity.

cutthroat kitchen


Canker sores – If you are a sufferer of canker sores, you know how damn frustrating they are. No truly known cause and they come in waves. Eating becomes miserable as does talking. If I tune out my family, they immediately know why.

This year they’ve been worse than ever and I’ve had enough. C’mon scientists, give me a root cause already. If it means I have to eat upside down, I’ll friggin do it.



The word “frankly” – The definition is:

In an honest and direct manner

This term is way overused and IMHO, misused as well.

“Quite frankly John, I’m going to lunch now.”

“To be completely frank, I’m totally not sure.”



The loose definition of eminent domain – The definition as I understood it (same goes for Merriam-Webster):

A right of a government to take private property for public use

Never in a million years did I know a private company could do the same all in the name of the almighty dollar. The ultimate wake-up call of 2015. We’re fighting it, will be fighting it for the foreseeable but already, there are good signs for us.

Check this out:

Cracks are beginning to show



Round-up still being used – I’m no scientist, but I’ve read/seen enough to know this stuff is bad. I don’t need to see any more. European countries have banned it as a known carcinogen and it’s high time we consider doing the same. Just pull the weeds or put up with some already won’t you?

That is coming from a rehabbed obsessive and neurotic gardener.



Facebook know-it-alls – I know I just dedicated an entire post to all that is Facebook, but with the recent events in Paris and the subsequent refugee discussion, so called layperson experts have emerged from both sides of the political spectrum. And damn if people aren’t downright nasty and aggressive about it. I didn’t realize how many people gathered all the facts in such a short period of time and have drawn definitive conclusions already. The days of civil discussion are done.



I Hate Facebook

If you are friends with me on Facebook, chances are I’ve completely stalked you by now.

Before you contact the authorities, let me clarify.

When I say “stalk”, I mean not in a creepy looking-through- your-window-at-night kind of way, but more like I’ve enjoyed your pics, investigated your “likes” and browsed your Wall (if it’s even called that anymore). We all expect that right? We put it all out there realizing this is going on regularly, right? I know I do.

I find people fascinating. I find the mundane fascinating. I find both ends of the political spectrum fascinating. I find sad stories fascinating. I find baby pigs fascinating. And guess where you can find all of those things in one nice and tidy location? You nailed it, The Facebook.

I hate Facebook because I can’t pull myself away from it. And it has been like this since 2008, when I joined FB. I don’t think this is normal for a 43 year old man but it’s me. I made a pledge to myself when I started this blog to be completely transparent and that is what I am doing here. I’m not proud of it, but it feeds the curiosity gene in me.

Just a few of my favorite things on FB:

POLITICAL ANGER – I have my share of friends (and subsequently their friends’ friends) who fall to the left and to the right. And are they ever convinced that they have it all figured out. Never mind the fact that they only seek out information from sources that feed their existing beliefs (like or

Once they post said information and others of the same ilk chime in, it is like friggin bedlam. A snowball rolling down hill fast. Anger and hatred that I would have never thought they were capable of displaying.

So much for the “gray”.

fb post 2


THE VAGUE COMMENTER – We all know who these people are. And while most of you dismiss their narcissism, I can’t get enough.

“A very good thing might be happening to someone at some time.”

Wow, count me in. I cannot wait for the follow-up. This is a better cliffhanger than an episode of Breaking Bad. We don’t know who, what, when or why, but damn if I don’t need to find out how it all works out.

fb post 7


CUTE ANIMAL STUFF – True confession, I hate cats and they hate me. I have no idea how to handle them and I don’t get their eccentricities. But give me a dog or a pig or even a panda and I’ll cry all day.

fb post 6


THE IRRESISTIBLE LINKS – You know what I’m talking about.

“Top ten worst dressed soap actresses.”

“Ten child actors that became like real ugly.”

“Ten harrowing photos of people right before they were attacked by zoo animals.”

You know you shouldn’t but you click it any way. And then you get stuck in the whirlwind that is other links and fake “next” buttons and before you know it, you have 13 windows opened and cannot remember how you got there.


NON-CONTROVERSY CONTROVERSY – While I rarely comment on such things, I find it to be a great study in humanity after reading the 571 comments about why Starbucks is the devil.

fb post 5


UNDESERVED CELEBRITY – The Kardashian’s come to mind. Ignore them and they will eventually go away, right? Probably, but I can’t. But I justify it by believing I am an amateur sociologist and I need to understand what makes them tick.

fb post                   


ALLOWING REAL LIFE DRAMA TO PLAY OUT ON SOCIAL MEDIA – This can be either heartbreaking or awkward or funny and once I’ve been pulled in, I cannot jump ship. There is a real human side to this in many instances and I do believe it helps people cope by putting it out there to an audience. Would I do it? Not a chance, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not fascinated by it.


THE GOOD – No matter your opinion on social media, and the notion that there is a lot of hatred and nonsense on Facebook, there is still so much good to glean from others all over the world.



Shared tragedies

Exposure to those we don’t encounter in our daily lives

And on a personal level, I’ve formed friendships with many over the past few months who are dealing with the same fight we are fighting against. FB has allowed us to easily communicate, share important links and just think together in a closed, yet open forum.

That kicks ass.

fb post 4



The Meyer Lemon Challenge

I take my lemons very seriously. 

Is that weird? Actually, allow me to be more specific and less weird.

I take the lemons produced from my Meyer Lemon tree very seriously.

Not so weird, right?

Need proof of this lemon allegiance? Check this out from a few years ago:

A special lemon

Truth is, we haven’t harvested a lemon since that day … but that is about to change … in a big way.

Last year I received a ton of great feedback from readers (thank you!) and from a dude I met on an awesome local gardening radio show I’ve been lucky to frequent over the years. Here is a consolidated list of those tips (all pertain to winter indoor care):

  • Before bringing indoors, place tree in partial shade outdoors for 2 weeks and then another 2 weeks in the attached unheated garage.
  • Spritz the leaves with water every other day to up the humidity.
  • When watering, use warm water.
  • Place the lemon tree on top of a warming mat.
  • Keep the tree away from window/door drafts. I close the curtain to my back sliding door whenever possible as a wind barrier.
  • When in bloom, use a Q-tip and just poke it into the flowers.
  • Fertilize even if it is the winter.

Now some of these tips may be debatable or unnecessary (based on online research I’ve meticulously conducted) but I cannot complain about the results this year. Currently, I have ten lemons on my tree, including this just-about-to-ripen-monstrosity.

lemon 2

I’ve never seen a lemon this big as it roughly the size of a grapefruit. Now I just pray that it tastes as good as it looks.

Some other current day fruit.

lemon 3


And the first set of buds just emerged within the last week.

lemon buds

Color me giddy with excitement.

Back to that first mother of a lemon I just showed you. I am thinking we will pull it off the tree within the next week. And it is clearly big enough to easily split into four decent sized wedges.

With that in mind, I am challenging my family to come up with a creative use for their quarter of a lemon. I have my plan mapped out already and spoiler alert, it involves sun screen and the PennEast pipeline. The rest of the family is now on the clock.

I’ll be sure to dedicate a post to each of our upcoming lemon plans and challenge each of you to get creative with your own lemons.

Is that weird? Who cares, do it already and let me know what you did in the comments.


Fa la la la Lifetime

Before I continue, I must share this with you all first.

man card

Judging by the title of this post, I’m sure you can figure out why I voluntarily stamped my own card. I should have done it a long time ago but I wasn’t emotionally ready to do so until now. I feel so much better now that it is out in the open and thank you in advance for your understanding.

My name is John and …

I love Fa La La La Lifetime holiday movies (or whatever its ilk is called now.)

Take a minute to allow that to soak in …

Pause …

Pause …

Pause …

I can’t get enough of the fabulously cheesy holiday fare that is put out by Lifetime and the Hallmark Channel each year. 

That’s right, you heard me. Not an ounce of sarcasm either. I’ll put it right up there with listening to the Peanuts Christmas soundtrack, eating cookies and watching the kids open their presents on Christmas morning.

I’ve kept this a secret for years running with the only one aware being my holiday-movie- watching-confidante, Mrs. M. She warned me of the repercussions of this announcement but I went against her better judgment. Even if I’ve influenced only one of you to sit through one of these uplifting and thrilling gems, I’ve done my service for the season.

Starting mid-November each year, we blindly DVR each and every holiday themed movie without reading the description. No initial judgment is passed. Many are movies we’ve enjoyed in the past with a handful of newly introduced titles included. Within days, the DVR is 97% filled and we can kick our plan into motion.

After the kids are in bed, we retire to the boudoir and hit “play” on the very first move on the list. We then agree to give it at least 15 minutes before rendering a decision. If after 15 minutes we’re not feeling it, it gets erased from the DVR and from our memory all together. We don’t take notes for the next year. It is too much fun to reevaluate the same movie again and again for years to come.

If the movie does pass the 15 minute test, we’ll keep watching it and often times it may take three viewings to get through it. Since we initiate the process at a later hour now that the kids are getting older, we often fall asleep during the movie. A joyous falling asleep I must add. It’s even fun to reconnect in the morning and remember the last scene we were still awake for.

“I remember when she hired the fake boyfriend to come home with her at Thanksgiving.”

“And I remember when she found out that her job wouldn’t allow her to travel back home for the holidays and her parents were devastated.”

Fun, right?

How is each movie evaluated you may ask? While it is tough to quantify, here is just some of my criteria (my wife will have to post hers under separate cover):

  • No supernatural stuff (wishes granted, manger scene coming to life, etc.) unless it is imagining how a different life may have panned out (even if you have to climb through a dryer to get there).


  • Only a light tone will work. There can be, there must be, a serious message underneath, but I am looking for whimsy.
  • While all locales are an option, the preferred is to start out in NYC and then work your way home to an unnamed town that looks like it fell out of a Thomas Kinkade Christmas painting.
  • Anything with Joey Lawrence and I am in (whoa).


  • An all knowing Santa that doles out sage advice at the local Christmas Tree Farm gets me every time.
  • I cannot get enough of the aforementioned hire fake boyfriend/girlfriend and then really fall in love arc.


  • Speaking of preferred arcs, give me bah humbug corporate hack that doesn’t get the true meaning of Christmas until he or she meets a hopeless Christmas romantic every day of the week (especially if she runs a Christmas hat store).

The criteria is ever evolving so I will have to keep this updated as each and every holiday season continues to pass.

And of course when you are a Hallmark Channel aficionado, you reserve the right to be critical from time to time. So if you executives/script writers are listening, here are a few tips, free of charge, from this schmaltzy movie watching veteran:

  1. No more exes running into each other unexpectedly in their hometown without knowing what the other had been doing for years now. It is called Facebook stalking and everyone does it.
  2. Stop with the struggling actor/advertising rep/young writer who lives in even a decent apartment in Manhattan. That one burns me to no end. No one can afford to live in Manhattan, please relocate them to Queens or even Hoboken.
  3. Please up the acting standards for the quirky best friend. There is a fine line between quirky and really freaking annoying. You know the difference.
  4. Less whiny children as well. In fact, let’s eliminate kids completely. My guess is the budget for these movies doesn’t allow for the hiring of kids with much talent so let’s not bring down the overall quality by subjecting people to the little ones’ lack of talent.

Faithful readers, if you are looking for recommendations, please feel free to email me and I will break them out by category/story arc if you so desire. Thanksgiving movies are very underrated and there are some beauties out there right now.

Or, do yourself a favor and check out some of the movies listed here. It will change your entire outlook on the holiday season.

You are welcome.






Putting a bow on the 2015 New York Mets season

The New York Mets season officially came to an end on November 1st.

It still makes me giddy to say that out loud. Playing baseball in November means you had one hell of a season and were one of the top two teams in baseball. I’ll be damned if I saw that coming before the season started.

This past baseball season was without a doubt the most enjoyable I’ve ever experienced in my 43 years on this planet. Even though our beloved New York Mets just fell short and lost in the World Series, it cannot erase the joy it brought to my entire family and all of the memories we’ll have from this season. Each and every one of us was glued to the TV from April through October and I miss the hell out of it already.

I grew up watching the god awful Mets teams of the 70’s and early 80’s on a small black and white TV with my dad always sitting there next to me. It didn’t matter that the team was horrendous, it was a time to just hang with my pops. We didn’t even have to talk much during each game; the game itself was our conversation with only a telepathic communication needed. If a Met player made an error, a glance towards each other spoke volumes. Even attempts at real conversation would go like this:

“How was school today son?”

“Um, good or whatever, Doug Flynn cannot be our shortstop next year.”

Fast forward to 2015 and my son and I watch the Mets in the exact same manner. Except in high def on a big screen TV, while we are simultaneously tweeting via Twitter and discussing the OPS and BABIP for each hitter. Beyond that it was like totally the same.

This year we kicked it up a notch though. We got into it early. Like as early as humanly possible. We attended Spring Training for the first time ever.

mets entrance

I won’t rehash the story now as you can read about our experience through the following links:

Spring Training Day 1

Spring Training Day 2

Spring Training Day 3

Looking back on it all, it truly was magical from the very beginning. Not only did we get an up close and personal view of the players …

mets daniel murphy

… and endless autographs for my son

mets thor signing

Yes, that is the Noah Syndergaard. But he also got his first go round on TV and did not disappoint. To this day, I still get people asking me if it was possible that they saw my son on the TV while they were eating dinner or out with friends.

Hells yeah you did.

mets jack sny

Port St Lucie, FL will now be a permanent destination each and every February. And this year we are quadrupling our group by adding friends and family to the mix. It is a must for all hardcore baseball fans.

Allow me to wax poetic even more about America’s past time.

Baseball isn’t for everyone, I know that. It is a slow moving sport and yes, they play 162 games over the course of 6 months. It isn’t the juggernaut that is the NFL and games do lack that “event” feeling, at least up until the playoffs.

But the pace is what makes it so fantastic. It is the background music/soundtrack of spring and summer. It doesn’t ask you to stay riveted to each and every moment. It fits right in with the relaxed and chilled vibe of summer. It is a familiar friend where there is the comfort of knowing you can hang for periods of time without saying a word.

Now having said that, there is a unique drama that only occurs in baseball. Because there are so many games and they are played nearly every day, there is always a new twist or turn to contend with. Especially in larger markets like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles where there are a number of beat reporters who cover the teams on a day to day basis. They need a daily story/angle and do a good job of drumming them up regularly. Why did that guy glare at the manager after his at bat? Why didn’t he run his hardest after hitting that ground ball? Why was so and so benched for a second straight game? Typically not earth shattering stuff, but interesting all the same. Like the kind of family stuff we all encounter on a daily basis. A problem on Tuesday can quickly become a non issue after a good night’s sleep and  a successful game the next day.

Baseball is also a thinking man’s game and if I am anything, I am a thinking man. You can debate lefty/righty splits, bunt or no bunt and defensive substitutions all day and night. The depth of baseball stats is overwhelming but completely fascinating at the same time. Some say it ruins the game, others rely solely on stats when debating the intricacies of the game. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, the game is still being debated after the last out is recorded. I love that.

After we returned from Spring Training, we felt a different kind of connection with the team. These were real people who just happened to have maybe the greatest job in the world. We saw them from day one; literally introducing themselves to each other as they took the field; very cool stuff. And because the Mets are a very young team, you got the feeling like you were there when it was all starting. The initial hype was palpable and frickin exciting.

As this season progressed, and the typical ups and downs occurred, my wife and daughter also became attached. We could discuss any aspect of the team and we all knew exactly what we were talking about. They’ve always enjoyed baseball but this was different. We even knew the names of the Mets players’ children. Again, like family.

By July/August, the Mets kicked it into high gear and we were riveted. Every game was must watch TV. This young and up an coming team was maturing right before our eyes. We knew good things were coming, just not this quickly.

By the time the playoffs started, we all had our assigned positions on the couch. Every ball and strike was the end of the world. As much as I like the slow pacing of the regular season, the playoffs are a different animal. It is insane and all consuming and worth the stress.

I’ll never forget texting with my wife and son from a bar during a game while I was in Florida for work.

I’ll never forget my father-in-law calling my son after every big home run by Daniel Murphy.

I’ll never forget waking up my daughter at 12:30 to allow her to see the Mets celebrate their first trip to the World Series since 2000.

I’ll never forget having my parents over on Halloween night and the highs of the early lead in Game 4 and the absolute agony of losing the game late.

I’ll never forget watching the last minute of commentary after the Mets lost the World Series and the last camera shot of the empty stadium.

I’ll never forget realizing that I will miss it all dearly once the kids get older and leave the house.


Thank you 2015 New York Mets. I dare you to top it all in 2016.







Receiving therapy in Vermont

If I asked you “When are the two best times to visit Vermont?”, what would you say? I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest it is “Fall Foliage” season and “Skiing” season, am I right? If I think this through, that most likely covers all of October for foliage and then maybe the last two weeks of November through early May for skiing, correct? And you really can’t go wrong the remainder of May through September either as summer in Vermont is kind of gorgeous as well.

So only a visit during the small window of the first few weeks in November would be kind of silly, right? A dead zone if you will. If I apply some math to this we are looking at a 49/52 or 94.2% chance that your visit to Vermont is going to be all sorts of awesome.

Well not for this non-foliage enjoying and non-skiing brood. That is not how we roll. Give us a small window of nothing going on and we are so there. This past weekend we apparently arrived in Vermont during the peak “brown foliage”time or “stick season” as we came to learn from the locals.

woods 2

Truth be told, our 4 day trip to Stratton, Vermont was phenomenal. Even the post-peak foliage season is stunning.

equinox pond 2

equinox pond

We have friends who recently purchased a townhouse in Stratton and even if they were initially all like “Seriously, you want to visit us now?” they were still gracious enough to host us non-skiers without hesitation.

Speaking of non-skiing … I had some unresolved issues with skiing that bubbled to the surface this weekend and I’m proud to say I kind of think I worked through them.

Some necessary background:

During my senior year of high school, I joined the ski club. I had yet to ski at that point in my life, but thought joining the group would:

a)look good on the high school resume (don’t ask)

b)provide an opportunity to do something I had never attempted before

c)be a fun hang/social opp.

Makes sense right? Well it turns out I never had the chance to take advantage of the experience.

Since I was on the high school varsity basketball team during the winter sport season, we were not allowed to ski, at all, for fear of sustaining an injury. Now shockingly, none of us when on to basketball stardom in the NBA, let alone the NCAA, but that was the rule and we had no choice but to abide. That included #50, power forward extraordinaire.


Still, I was not happy.

It all came to a head one Friday night in January, 1990 when we had a basketball game against our rival, Waldwick High School, which coincided with the one huge ski trip for the ski club. As an immature yet awesomely mulletted 17 year old, I was super pissed off. I was missing the social event of the year. A chance to chill with the ladies … OK, “chill” may not be the right word since I had less than zero game, more like a chance to hang in the vicinity of the ladies and hang with my boys. But no, basketball was apparently more important.

By tip-off of our game, we had like 10 fans in the crowd. Our home court was filled with the visiting team’s fans and my anger level reached an all time high. It was my senior year dammit and not only was I missing a friggin life changing event, but our last rival game was going to suck as well. The woes of a teenager.

The suckage level peaked even higher when the scoreboard clock read “0:00”. I remember it like it was yesterday. We had what was supposed to be an insurmountable lead at 51-39 with 3 minutes remaining in the game. Somehow we managed to not score again. We ended up losing 52-51 when their point guard literally fell backwards at the foul line and threw up a desperation two handed overhead shot that somehow managed to go in. The crowd went berserk, on our home court, and I was f’n crushed.

I carried that anger for a long time after the game had ended. And I took it out on all of the “skiers”. Just the sight of a ski tag on a CB jacket pissed me off.


Because truth be told, I always envied/was annoyed by those who skied. There was a coolness factor that came with skiing and since I fell towards the other end of the cool spectrum, I was easily annoyed at anything close to “cool”. Without ever giving it a whirl, I knew I would fail miserably at skiing. Leg coordination was not my thing. One attempt at surfing and I knew to stay away from the leg/feet sports. To this day, I have no ability to kick a soccer ball.

Ski trips/vacations also always held this special luster in my mind.

“We’re going to Vail this weekend. We’ll ski all day and hang in the lodge at night.”

That sounded uppity and a place where all the cool kids would hang out. Even after that was done, you could wear your ski tags all winter on your jacket and people would look at it like a badge of honor.

“Where did you go? Aspen, right on bro, we just got back from Killington.”

Even the ski locales had sick names.

So you combine my skier jealousy with the fact that skiing deeply impacted the most important basketball game of my career and I can see why I subconsciously avoided a visit to Vermont during its best time of year. Who knew there was a psychological aspect  of “skiing avoidance”? I think I just invented it.

But I’m proud to say I may be over it after this weekend. Thank you J & A for the therapy session. And yes, it is OK that you are all avid skiers. And that your 6 year old son is not only more athletic than me, but can no doubt ski circles around me. I can accept that now.

Thank you for selling our family on the benefits of snowshoeing and tubing. While I may feel like the kid who can’t leave the shallow end of the pool, it is progress. Hopefully my kids will avoid the dreaded ski envy and join you all one day. Maybe I will even set foot on the slopes … and get to wear kick ass looking goggles and get a ski lift ticket of my own.

One can dream.

Some other ditties from the weekend:

  • I love a saloon. I love the term and the connotation. We went to one for dinner on Saturday night and it rocked. Local, pretension free and solid food and drink. This was not a bar, it was a saloon. Very different in concept. The only things missing were a set of swinging doors upon entering.


And the patrons staring at us with that “You ain’t from these parts” look.

Also, a shot tossed down the bar from the bartender would have been a nice touch.

  • Kids loving hanging in bars. At least that is what we learned as our collective four children loved playing pool and feeding quarters into the jukebox while the four adults enjoyed quiet dinners sans children. I think we could agree this wasn’t a parenting highlight, but it is amazing how much easier it is to justify a decision when you have other parents involved in the decision making process. It’s as if we each said to ourselves “Well, if ‘blank’ says it is OK and we kind of trust their judgment then it must be OK.”
  • Vermont makes the greatest beer. This is now my new favorite beer in existence.


  • I have crossed that threshold where any physical activity has a 90% probability rating that it will result in injury. The kids planned, practiced and obsessed over a football game against the adults. In the past, this was a fun charade where, because we are nurturing parents, we allowed the kids to win without them realizing it. However, within 2 minutes of this football game, we realized times, they are a changin’. The kids were smart enough to implement a “wear the dads out” game plan that was genius. We were quickly down 21-0 when I decided to temporarily put them in their place. I returned a kickoff for a touchdown prancing along the way like a young Deion Sanders. That is if Deion had just about ripped his groin apart and couldn’t really walk right the remainder of the weekend.
  • I’d be plenty fine with hitting the “pause” button on the aging process for all of the kids right now.

kids leaves

kids path

jamie parker


jack jamie

Tune in next time when my family visits Washington DC right before the cherry trees are in bloom and then as we head on down to New Orleans the week after Mardi Gras.


The end of ONG

I am in a bind.

I love writing, I NEED writing, but I am struggling with how to effectively package my writing.

Garden writing has sustained me for 5 years + but now I feel like the well is running dry. My interest and passion for gardening hasn’t waned and the same goes for the act of writing.  I just don’t know if I can carry the torch for ONG much longer.


Yes, I’ve been known to make declarations in the past only to refute them the next day. And the fact that it is now November and most of the leaves have fallen off the trees isn’t helping. Dark gardening days lie ahead.

But this time it feels different.

I’ve always maintained that my garden writing was simply a diary of what was going on in my own garden. Good and often bad. Sure, from time to time I featured a particular plant or a “best of” list and tried to write in an SEO friendly manner. And yes there were attempts to try and align with certain garden products with a pie in the sky notion about … ahem … making some money with this thing.

But I could never sustain that mindset.

It isn’t who I am as I get very little fulfillment writing in that manner. If I wanted to write a post about my beloved Mets or my love of The Walking Dead or what the family did over the weekend I did so but admittedly was concerned about being “off topic”. I kept telling myself that it was still a gardening blog in the sense that gardening was the predominant topic even if I allowed myself to sprinkle in some outside thoughts along the way.

Now I think I’m ready to flip the switch.

The sprinkling of non-gardening thoughts now becomes the norm. Or maybe a better way to put it is that I want to write about whatever I want, whenever I want. And in doing so, I think I want to put ONG to bed.

My all time favorite website, Grantland, was just killed by ESPN. The site was the perfect mix of sports, pop culture,etc. The stories were typically written in long form, a no-no in today’s short attention span world. An article about the World Series could contain a reference to “The Bachelor” and a Fall TV preview could liken a show to baseball’s Spring Training. Hell, even if I didn’t always get the reference, I respected the writer’s mash-up ability. It was different and refreshing and I’ve been hooked for years.

And that is where I envision this blog heading as I look to the future. A dash of sports and how it infiltrates our daily lives. A dash of the pipeline. A sprinkling of some garden pics. Then a pipeline/garden mash-up rant. I’ll even bore you about what I ate at Wegmans for lunch. And now that I have my GoPro camera, I’m hoping to get wicked creative.

I sincerely apologize in advance for those of you come here just for the gardening. I know I’ll maintain some sort of garden writing presence moving forward but nowhere near where it was in the past. Thank you for all of your days/months/years of support. It was a blast and knowing people actually cared about what I had to say spurred me to keep going.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I have no idea on how to package this new direction. I know the ONG title/moniker will be changed to something else but I have no clue yet as to what it will be. I know that has already been snapped up so I’ll have to get creative.

I hope you stick around …




The Rooster

*Testosterone fueled post to follow. If that is not your thing, I suggest skipping to the pretty photos below.*

I am angry and I am pissed.

When that happens, I turn to my “angry music” playlist to help me get through. So truth be told, the only music I’m listening to right now is “Pissed Off’s Greatest Hits”.

One of the songs on constant loop is “Rooster” by Alice in Chains. Like so many other songs of the “grunge” era (to which I fully subscribed) it is a slow moving, heavy and “sludgy” tune that takes a while to build up, but when it does, it delivers.

While lyrically it tells the tale of a Vietnam vet, I have selfishly adopted it as my theme song for the fight against the PennEast pipeline. Just a few lyrical samples:

Ain’t found a way to kill me yet
Eyes burn with stinging sweat
Seems every path leads me to nowhere

Here they come to snuff the rooster, aww yeah
Yeah here come the rooster, yeah
You know he ain’t gonna die

They spit on me in my home land

Am I being melodramatic? I don’t care.

The song lifts me up, gives me the strength to keep up the fight and allows me to puff out my chest with pride.

True story … this morning I walked out into the thriving and somewhat frigid fall garden with only a t-shirt and shorts on. The iPod was all set up and I hit “play”. It felt goofy as hell at first but then it kicked in.

I was the “Rooster” as I paced my backyard.

Everyone I’ve met over the last few months is the “Rooster”.

The single mother who stood up to the trespassing surveyors was the “Rooster”.

The guy who has spent countless hours researching the non-viability of this natural gas pipeline is the “Rooster”.

Shit, my wife is the frickin “Rooster”.

Since I’m acting all boastful at the moment, here is this “Rooster’s” garden that is looking all sorts of awesome at the moment:

fall driveway


fall front


fall maple leaves


fall driveway 3


fall planter bed


fall driveway 4


fall front 2


fall planter bed 3

And just to throw it in their face even more, I purchased a bunch of bulbs I plan on getting in the ground the next few days.

This gardener ain’t gonna die.


We were recently interviewed by about our dealings with the potential PennEast pipeline.

You can read the article here.

nj dot com

My wife and I were both happy with the results of the article as it fairly portrayed the plight from our specific perspective. We were nothing but honest. Yet as I’ve learned over the past few months, you never know how these types of interviews will pan out in the media so you have to remain skeptical. This one worked out OK.


I cannot say enough about the support we’ve received from friends and family who’ve already shared this article or offered up kind words along the way. People at work have stopped by with a thumbs up. Strangers from across the globe have encouraged us to keep up the fight. Say what you want about social media, but it has been an incredible opportunity to connect with those under similar circumstances. United we stand.

Aside over.

I understand that exploring reader comments associated with an article can be an exercise in maddening futility. It is a slippery slope trying to reason with someone whose sole purpose is to troll you. Everyone is a tough guy or a know-it-all when debating on the WWW and to engage them is generally a waste of your time.

But I did it with our article … and I’m glad I did.

Here is the comment that lead me to some true introspection:

Witch CC (And I bet that isn’t your real name you silly goose) said: “NIMBY, but others no problem.”

Oh that NIMBY. The go-to argument for the pro-pipeline/pro-fracking contingent.







NIMBY is a tough one. If we are honest with ourselves, we suffer from the NIMBY mindset on a daily basis, often without being conscious of it.

“I’m glad ‘blank’ didn’t happen here. Oh well, time to buy more junk on”.

“Those poor people living in ‘blank’. Let me check the DVR again.”

“There was an accident where? Oh good, it won’t delay my commute into the office.”

Is this a reality of life? I guess depressingly so. If we didn’t apply NIMBY we would be paralyzed with concern and fear 24 hours a day.

It hurt to type that last sentence.

When we learned that our property was going to be directly impacted by the “proposed” (a word that gives me fits now, BTW) PennEast pipeline, you bet your ass I was all NIMBY. I never felt more nimbified in my entire life. You want to come take my land, against my will, all in the name of greed? It’s about to get all NIMBY up in here.

An attack against my land is a direct attack against my family. This is where I raised both of my kids, where I taught my son how to catch a baseball. This is where my dog roamed free and chased the rabbits. This is where I planted trees in the name of literally settling down our roots. I picked this land for a reason and you are now fucking with my family.

Will my kids ever wander into the backyard again? Worse than that, will we drink the water out of our well ever again? I need to put “No Trespassing” signs on my lawn, why? Is my largest financial investment in serious jeopardy?

How can you not view something like this from a purely personal point of view? It’s not like they provide you with a fair warning ahead of time. Gently soothe you into it all. It felt like survival, not merely as an inconvenience as it is sold to the public. You return the gut punch with a gut punch of your own, only you have no frickin idea where to throw that punch. Utter chaos.

But then the NIMBY feeling slowly starts to lessen. Or I should say the NIMBY feeling changes course. It just takes some legitimate amount of time to settle in and realize what and who you are contending with. That initial shock subsides as you fortunately, or unfortunately, realize you are not alone. NIMBY people meet other NIMBY people and then meet former NIMBY people and things start to change.

“Not in my backyard” morphs into “Not in my neighbor’s backyard either” and into “Not in my community” and eventually into “Not at all”. If I had to come up with a cute little catch phrase, I’d call it BIFTS:






We are unfortunate to be in the beast’s path but this issue is bigger than us. This is about pursuing more sustainable and cleaner sources of energy. This is about respecting our environment and appreciating what we have been granted, not to mention paid to preserve. This is about fighting against the abuse of eminent domain by a private company in the name of the almighty dollar. This is about logically looking at the project and realizing, maybe it makes no sense at all.

We’ve shared our story not for your sympathy. I can say that with 100% honesty. We want to get the word out on how easily this can happen to ALL of you. Stay aware, ask questions and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.

This is transforming us as a family. It has been stressful and unnerving but we’ve become significantly less nimbific. We hope to carry that ideal with us well beyond when this pipeline is inevitably shot down.

That is ultimately the message we want to convey.

Thank you Witch CC.