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Saturday, December 18, 2010


Today promises to be an interesting, and rather big, day for the Army family that our Hidden Valley Kiwanis Club has adopted.

Evelyn was up till about 1am wrapping presents, which we will deliver sometime after 10:30 this morning. It was Evelyn who suggested we adopt the family after having heard they were homeless for one week, living in a car, before they finally were able to manage a small apartment, barely large enough to accommodate Chris, his wife Jamie, and their five kids. Little did any of us realize what a large task it was and how many gifts we would be able to secure for the family. In addition to a houseful of almost new furniture we now will deliver about 100 gifts for the family (plus a little something stowed away on behalf of Santa, which we will give to mom and dad privately).

Chris suffers from, among other injuries, TBI (traumatic brain injury). This is a fairly common injury from many of our returning wounded warriors, usually caused by being involved in IED (improvised explosive device) events. The concussion from these blasts, if they don’t kill you or blow off an arm or a leg, knocks the hell out of your brain and the effects are long lasting.

While brain damage isn’t as visible as an amputated arm or leg, it’s every bit as painful and traumatic to the warrior.

It’s been a whole lot of work by a number of people. All of our Kiwanis Club members brought gifts for the family, Dave Geary, bless his heart, was the one who arranged for the houseful of furniture. Probably around $5,000 worth of top grade furniture. Didn’t cost this family a dime. We even delivered it, and assembled the bunk beds, dressers, bureaus, etc. (The “we” were primarily Dave Geary and Ryan Kahlor, another injured Army Sergeant who we helped out about a year ago. He has volunteered to help us as we help other Wounded Warriors).

When I created “Operation Hero” about two years ago, I never dreamed of how much our club would accomplish. The program has grown and has now been adopted by two other Kiwanis clubs in North San Diego County. It is a program that accomplishes great things and helps out really deserving wounded warriors. I’m very proud of it.

Evelyn was the one who came up with the idea of adopting the family, and she’s the one who has coordinated the Christmas gift drive. Joe and Jody Heard, members of the Escondido Kiwanis Club (which we call the “noon club” – we’re the “morning club”) collected around 9,000 toys and/or other gifts – many of which we received for this family, the others being distributed to other needy kids, as well as being shipped over to Romania, where Joe has been very active in building an orphanage and supporting same.

As Evelyn was up till 1am wrapping presents, I, ever the sensitive and caring person I am, hid out in my office, writing stuff for this week’s edition of The Paper. I learned long ago to stay out of evelyn’s way when she’s working on a project because, while I’d like to, and have offered to, help out . . . I usually wind up just getting in the way. This causes evelyn to go fetch her now world famous cast iron skillet with which she contentedly wallops me up alongside the head repeatedly (to ensure I get the message). (She always says “sorry” after she has walloped me about ten times, however. She’s a very forgiving person).

We went shopping yesterday to buy evelyn one of her Christmas presents. She wanted a large jewelry box, more like an armoire. We found one at Penney’s and we both liked it. “Do you want it?” I asked. “You mean I don’t get to shop?” “Right. If you like it, let’s get it. If you want to go to the other end of the mall and check out Sears, I’ll find a comfortable chair somewhere, or go out to the car and read the paper; you know how much I hate to shop. We found something we both like . . . if you’d rather shop, go ahead. Logic would seem to suggest that if we’ve found what you want, and we both like it, we should buy it, load it in the car, and scurry home to see our puppy.”

Well! With logic like that, she readily agreed and it is now sitting in our family room, next to where the Christmas Tree will soon be set up. On Christmas Eve I told her she has to act surprised at seeing her new gift from Santa, even though it will have been there for about 10 days. She promised me she would act surprised . . . mainly because I said if she didn’t, back to the store it goes!

We have not yet decided what to get for our newest family member, Trixie the Wonder Puppy.

I suggested a box of Kleenex as she seems to have a fetish for grabbing tissues and ripping them asunder. New tissues, used tissues, doesn’t matter. She just loves to tear them up, them leave them on the floor for mommy to pick up. She has even learned how to tip over waste baskets so she can get at tissues and any other debris that might be interesting to rip apart.

Yep, I think Trixie would just love a box of Kleenex from old Santa. Not sure evelyn would be too thrilled with it, however. If I gave Trixie such a gift I know for certain that dear, sweet, lovely Ms. evelyn would head for the kitchen, all the better to grab her cast iron skillet once again – and I think we all know what would happen next.

Evelyn has to be careful when administering discipline, however. On me, or more particularly, on Trixie. On occasion Ms. Madison has found it necessary to yell at Trixie over some transgression. You’ve never seen such a pitiful sight as the eyes of that puppy after she’s been yelled at. She looks so sorrowful, so sorry, that your heart just breaks. No way can you stay angry at her. If evelyn shouts at her she’ll run to me, curl up next to me and look totally bereft of any trace of happiness. “Did you make mommy mad?” I’ll ask her. She scotches up closer to me and looks even sadder.

If I bark at her she cuddles up to me, anxious to make friends again, or, if we’re in the office she’ll go to her bed on the floor, curl up, and look at me with those sad, sad eyes until I give in and forgive her, pick her up, hold her, and tell her how much I love her.

That puppy has got us right where she wants us! In love.

Tomorrow night we head up north to San Juan Capistrano where we will have dinner and take in a show by the Surfin’ Safari, a Beach Boys tribute band, and by a Roy Orbison tribute artist that I have not yet seen. We’ve seen Surfin’ Safari and are very impressed with them. So much so that I’m probably going to book them as a fundraiser event sometime early next year. That’s kinda why we’re going tomorrow night . . . to see them in action again and make sure we’re willing to invest the money to book them.

The new salesman seems to be working out just fine; brought in a nice order yesterday, all by himself. I helped him out and trained him for about four days and we brought some nice orders in . . . but now he’s out there all by his lonesome . . . and he delivers! (Tried to make some changes in how we do things, however, and I put my foot down rather firmly. He now knows who the boss is. I shan’t let him forget it, either. I like him a lot but I’m not his buddy. I’m his boss.)

That’s about what is happening here . . . (not sure what’s going on in Lake Woebegone).

Have a great weekend and, remember, ack respeccable.

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