Ashville Park: We Could Be Our Own Country

Take this with a sense of humor!!!

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George Carlin once said these are the thoughts that kept me out of the good schools. Just like Georgie Porgie Greatest Comedian Ever Pudding and Pie I too never made it to the good schools for the same reasons. I was walking in the rain yesterday with my family in Williamsburg when the most amazing yet useless idea started clanging around in my vast yet simple head: Ashville Park could sustain itself in case the Zombie Apocalypse were to occur. While the raindrops were falling on my head I began to consider the vast talents and skills that our collective occupations lend our Village. This is a smart village with no idiots, unless you consider, the ones building and try to sell to the unfortunate many that do not know about our Eight Miles of Heaven. 

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I hope it never happens but if another neighborhood were to have beef with our small yet mighty neighborhood they would make a huge mistake. Ashville Park has more than one fighter pilot calling it home. Since have more than one pilot we officially have an Ashville Air Force. We are proud of our brave and selfless pilot (no kidding here) and they would never cause harm to anyone they are sworn to protect but lets say another neighborhood wanted to engage us in a game of nanny nanny boo we we might be about to get them to fly some Pungo Crop Dusters over the offending neighborhoods and drop spoiled eggs, cabbage, Celine Dion CD’s on them. Everyone knows that this random concoction of stuff will melt a home down to its frame without causing injury. We are a forgiving village so we would help fix the community foolish enough to challenge us. It is then that they will see our varied talents at work. We will make their homes look better because we have  some awesome architects.  Once the blueprints are laid down we can offer drywall help. If anyone should get injured in their town after listening to the Celine Dion CD’s we unloaded we have a doctor, nurses, and even an apothecary to get them back to health. Our Engineeer will help get their infrastructure back up and running. We will fix their schools and improve them with our teachers and principal who can guide them to better education. We have some law enforcement present and former that will help them to rebuild after the rotten eggs erode their police precincts. 

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They are rebuilt and looking good now we will show them how truly dominant we are. Say they decide to build up their morale by trying to challenge  us to a baseball game or field hockey match we have some managers and coaches that have that covered. If they still need some funds to restore their egg and cabbage infested town we even got a guy that can guide them to making a charity event that will rock and roll. We can best our foolish assailants in many other ways too. We have the coolest dogs. Kona and Kai are big and beautiful, Jax rocks a cheerleader outfit and this writers Aussie can out pant any dog anytime. Our kids are the coolest, cutest, muddiest sometimes, and smartest. Do you want to challenge us to a beard growing contest? That would be a bad move Horshack because one look at Bradys magnificent lumberjack beard and you will see that you best not embarrass yourself. We will out BBQ you, out Trick or Treat you, out outdoor movie theater you, and if it comes do a drinking contest outlast you. Did I mention that this is only half of the AP because god knows we have some ample talent from our Wilshire friends. 

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We are strong talented and fun. Once we rebuild you we will throw a party you will not forget. We are Ashville Park and like the Wu Tang Clan…..Ashville Park ain’t nothing to F$#% with. We are a place even a zombie would love. Now enjoy your Sunday friends and I hope you took it all tongue firmly in cheek.  

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Are We Almost In Ashville Park?

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In March of 2014 my wife and I went to “check out” a neighborhood. We had talked about moving for several years. We considered going up to her home in West Virginia and even kicked around the idea of Colorado. We started to look around in Virginia Beach and felt that the move was not worth the effort. West Virginia was too expensive and locally the home would be a lateral move because we would get no more house for the money. When we went to “check out” that neighborhood in March I asked my wife where it was and she said Pungo. I had not been to Pungo in years. When I was a police officer I went there a couple of times a year because that was where we had firearms training, driving training, and riot training (yes that was what they called it back then). When we made our way to Ashville Park I was stunned at the development that had grown since my police days but was happy to see that Ashville was as far south as they had developed at this time. This trip made me wonder whatever had happened to the Green Lines in Virginia Beach, but I digress.  As we entered the community I was impressed with the beauty of the landscape and that the homes were not on top of one another. The homes were beautiful. We had a Three Little Bears visit. The first house we liked the upstairs, the second house we liked the downstairs, but the third home was just right and after being in the neighborhood for only an hour we had started the process to buy a home. The home was perfect, there was a park, and the school district was perfect. The school district was what brought us to this area. When we left the model home a bit stunned at our haste decision I drove my wife to Kellam High School. I told her this school was the reason to move. One day our daughter would go to this greatly rated school and we will know that we made the right decision to move. We really thought that was the long and the short of it. We were moving for the better school district but we would find out that the bounty of our fortune was not yet realized to us.

We had visited our new home several times as it was being built. Each time we visited we met someone new. One family really stood out to us. The Tonelson family spoke to us almost every visit and seemed very nice. They told us about the neighborhood and were honest with all they had experienced. They let us in their home only a short time after they moved in and were welcoming in a way that you just do not see anymore. We thought at least we had one nice neighbor. We later would meet Charles and Kathleen. We kept talking about how nice they were and we wish they were not going to be “two blocks away”.  The people we met heightened our excitement about the move. The sale on our old home fell through the day before we were to move into Ashville Park so we were very stressed. On the morning of the second day we were in Ashville Park I got a knock at the door and saw Matt Tonelson standing there with his beautiful little girl asking if Emma could come play to give me a chance to work in the house. I did not see much of Emma for the next couple days. She made friends with three girls that weekend Maddy, KJ, and Sam.  Almost immediately we had three new families as friends from her friends.

The next few days were a blur of work, unpacking, hoping for a sale on the old home, and regular life. The neighborhood had one of their first get togethers since we had moved in and nearly every household showed up. There was food, kids, and many new introductions all the way around. I noticed that all the adults looked after ALL the children. If I child fell down the nearest adult went to their aid. Everyone appeared to have a tribal mentality toward taking care of the children. The neighbors had adopted, whether they realized it or not, a tribal mentality where you just took care of each other. I was so moved because I really think that is lacking in so many places these days. When we look after our neighbors and their children society benefits from it. The couple I mentioned that lived so far away were at the event and at several block get togethers afterwards. The neighborhood is so close that the sarcastically aforementioned two blocks is just as good as next door.

You cannot help but want to be involved in Ashville Park. One of the incredibly selfless neighbors Billy is involved in organizing a charity walk for ALS. When I saw that he was getting an Ashville Team together I quickly donated and was disappointed when I did not believe my family could make the event. The neighbors took Billy’s cause as their own and built a team with dozens of participants and T Shirts for our affectionately named Eight Mile Village. I was able to make the event and it was one of the best times I ever had with my family. Most of the families are very different but make everyone feel welcome. I truly love my neighbors and their families.

When we moved here it was for more space and a better school district but we got so much more. We gained an extension to our family. We are part of something that is bigger than a neighborhood we are community that cares for each other. As the neighborhood grows next spring we will work together to make sure that community grows in the best of ways. As I walk the neighborhood I see men being real dads. I see Brady riding bikes with his child as his wife and baby rest, I see Tony ( a man with a complicated business) rocking his baby tenderly on his patio, Bill making puddles every chance he gets for his son and lovingly calling his daughter pet names, I see Matt ever diligently watching over not only his daughter but the other children on the block, Daniel always attentive with his kids, Scott is always in his yard with his kids, and another father ( I have yet to meet) rocking his baby on his porch in the early morning light. Men owning up to their responsibilities as fathers without ego. I see Shannon G, Lynsey, Melanie, Vinnie, Leanh, my Shan and several other mothers constantly biking and walking with their children and babies. Robin and Melanie are always so kind to always offer a kind word and a hand to my wife. Many times the parents have other families children with them. FAMILY!!!   It doesn’t stop there either when you have people like Millie and Ron keeping an eye out on things with you and ever ready to just talk and create a wonderful break in your day. If their were more communities like ours life would be so much better. We are not better, just closer and maybe in some ways stronger.

When we drive into Ashville Park my daughter always says, “Are We Almost In Ashville Park?” and to that I say thank God yes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

13 Years!!!

13 years ago I did not have a child. My marriage was pretty new and I still remember my wife on the phone telling my in a terrifying pitch that we were being attacked. I can remember listening to the radio in the office of the grocery store I was a manager in and hearing that there were several planes unaccounted for. It seemed every couple of minutes a theory of what was going to happen next materialized out of thin air. Through all this chaos I was stacking soup cans. The concept that the United States could be under attack in 2001 was so alien to us that even as the world watched the towers fall most of us continued to work. Customers would ask me where the canned beans were and then almost dismissively say “what the hell is going on in New York?”.  When I got home I couldn’t get my eyes off the TV. We were watching the world change.

 

On September 12, 2001 a strange thing happened. For a while it seemed that we all remembered we American. We remembered we were all on the same team. Some of our poor racial behavior toward each other faded a little. American flags flew on many more homes than September 10th, 2001. We were friendlier to each other, we talked to more strangers on the street, and we were scared. When a family faces a crisis they often quietly, slowly turn to each other for support and America was reminded it was a family on the horrific day. We acted quickly and went after our enemy. Most everyone was behind our president and his actions. I will never forget the stunned look on his face when his handlers told him, as he sat in a school classroom, what had happened. You don’t have to like George Bush but he did not back down and he stood strong for the country. Mistakes were made but in the heat of that moment I believe only a fool would hold those against him. I cannot imagine with what he was faced with the stress he was under but I digress. My point is we were united. There was little talk of political parties and their differences. There would be plenty of judging and finger-pointing later but the government was pretty united in the weeks after the attack. I could not imagine being a parent on that day.

 

 

 

What would I have said to my daughter? Would I have been able to explain that there are real bad people in the world but they are a minority so try to not be afraid. To be clear when I say minority I mean that their belief of hatred toward us is in a small number of people compared to our worlds population. Would I have been able to hold back my anger at the attackers and if I identified the wrong people as the attackers how would I explain that to her? I want my daughter to understand the moment but not be paralysed by it. My daughter was born seven years after the attack so it may never be real to her. I took her to Ground Zero shortly after she was born but she will never remember it and maybe that is a good thing.

 Time has passed and we have been at war the entire time. We have killed many terrorist leaders and they keep growing back. The pride we had the day after the event has long faded. Like anything else in America the event has passed and we have new things to fight about nationally. We voted in a black president. During Obama’s election and for years into his first term it was a great time to “Blame Bush!” The war, the down turn of the economy, bad military decisions, and Lost being cancelled were all Bush’s fault. The new president tried to start strong. He continued to get some of the biggest terrorists of the day. But eventually it seemed like the war at home was bigger. The economy turned south, OBAMACARE was fighting point,gun control issues, people shot in schools, people shot on military bases, people shot in movie theaters, the man takes too many vacations, and now it’s Obama’s fault. Congress refuses to work together. The parties fight to the point that little gets done. The media is entertainment and they must have a script so the news is reported in either a conservative or liberal way. Rarely is the news reported. We blamed Bush and Obama but the government never seems to blame itself and its inability to be adults, resolve issues, and be leaders. What is a parent to do? How do you teach your child about 911 and how to resolve issues when our leaders can’t agree on biscuits or toast? I will tell you how in my humblest of opinions.

Emma the events of 911 were horrific. A group of terribly evil people killed many Americans over ideals that we will never fully understand. The people who did this were cowards and did it for reasons that at the end of the day just make no sense.The people that died at 911 were everyday people just going about their lives. Someone from nearly ever ethnicity and both sexes died that day. Many people drove miles to offer help not knowing what they were going to do they were just “compelled by the event”. You love dog sweet heart and even dogs became heroes searching for missing people over tons of rubble. People would work tirelessly pulling people living and dead out from the pile left at Ground Zero. 911 was a moment of clarity for this country and we showed the world that we take care of our own. We showed the world that we will drop everything to help fellow Americans. It does not matter their skin color, sex, faith, or who they love because we are all Americans. There was a war and is a war and war never makes sense but sometimes it is sometimes a needed evil. One of the many problems with war is figuring out when the juice is no longer worth the squeeze. As a result of our war many military people have given their lives. As a result of the recovery efforts at Ground zero many firemen, medical staff, police officer, civilians, and those rescue dogs either died or became very sick from working the site. Why we remember 911 is because we can never forget those that gave all. We can never forget the volunteers that dropped everything to help each other. We can never forget that although the world may seem scary that in the worst of times we pull together. No matter how poorly our government acts toward each other blaming each other for everything we must rise above. Sweetheart you are the future. Your generation is the future. There may still be wars ahead but you can choose to make a difference. Be kind to everyone. Do not judge race. Do not judge faith. Be careful not to pick a side where they tell you what side you are on. Be yourself. You don’t have to agree with everyone and not everyone has to agree with you but find ways to work with those that do not see you eye to eye. You will make mistakes in life but they are merely life lessons. If you can do this you will be honoring those that were lost and hopefully your generation can show my generation how foolhardy we sometimes are. I love you!

The truth is that there is not an easy way to talk to your child about 911 but I do think it is important that we give them a reason to remember the souls touched by 911 and to try and make sure as best you can that it does not happen again and if it does work together not apart. Bless and thank all that died at 911, all that worked the pile, all that fought and fight in the wars and every family member.

Monster Movies: Happy

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This Old Home

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What is a home? Is a home a place to simply watch TV, eat, sleep, wash, and repeat? Does a home have a pulse or life of its own? Before the age of 19 I lived in three different homes. From the age of 19 to 30 I lived in 12 different addresses. I loved having a different apartment every year. Since the age of 31 I have lived in the same house with my wife. I have lived  in our Glenwood home longer than anywhere else in my 45 years on this planet. Our Home is the book where the story of our marriage has been so far written. Our home has been to backdrop of so many events. I have been in the grocery business for 15 years and before that I was a police officer. For the first few years of our marriage I struggled with working retail. I felt I was helping no one and contributing to nothing. I desperately wanted out and in that home I applied, replied, and conversed about many opportunities. I passed up several offers and stormed around that house wanting something more. I would eventually even take a job with the Fire Department but found my way back to the my present line of work. Work would have many ups and downs but in this old home my wife always had my back and was the greatest devils advocate.

The grandest of all wars would be witnessed in this old home. Parenthood was a life time wish of mine and when we decided to try we hit a big cruel infertile wall. I clearly remember spending an entire day and night on my Luv Sac in the living room keeping an eye on my wife after one of our miscarriages. Many tears would be shed privately by me in this old home when my wife was not there. I needed to be strong for her but in a quiet moment this old home knows about my breakdowns. The war would eventually be won and my wife would spend eight months on bed rest in this home. Our child would be born and so many things would chasing but we were always safe in this old home.

I walk in my daughters room. The room barely looks like the one I brought here home too. Its being packed up and the walls my Dad painted for her stand out boldly reminding us its a little Princesses room. The hundreds of diapers I changed in that room, to nights I spent rocking her to sleep, the thousands of stories I have read to her, and the endless number of songs I have sang to her are wove into the walls of this old home. She started walking here, reading here, laughing here, and she has been nursed back to health so many times. The room went from rockers, cribs, and Hello Kitty to a big bed, fish tank, and Monster High.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I have shared so many great ones there with family and friends, Christmas trees and Santa visits, birthday parties, and Easter Egg hunts. This home hosted them all. I have baked in this home with my daughter. Love has been made in this home and grown. Our family became what it is today in these walls. Many pets have been love here and three were lost. One was lost suddenly and by surprise, one while we were out of town, and recently our Big Brown friend moved on. Now this home is silent a shell of itself. The barks are mostly gone, the furniture and belongings slowly packed away. This home will soon belong to another family and I hope they are as lucky as we are. I hope the love we leave behind is karmic and grows for the new family. I hope we still see out neighbors and their love continues to grow.

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The new home brings new dreams and new chapters. In this home we will celebrate new memories. We will see a little girl bringing friends through its halls and eventually boyfriends and grandchildren. We will grow older. I will watch from the porch a new neighborhood grow and make new friends. Their will be struggles but our old home has taught us to survive. First we must bring Big Browns ashes to the home and make a home for them by a tree in the huge yard. She will swatch over us. I look forward to the future but I will never ever forget the past.

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I Will Always Be Down With Brown

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I did not want the dog. We had gone to a cat show and were considering getting a dog but that day the only thing on the agenda was a cat show. Somehow that day we ended out at the Norfolk city pound. I really did not think we would find a dog at the pound. I found a dog alright. I found a classic hound puppy but when I turned around to tell my wife, Shannon, about the hound she was in possession of the scruffiest, dirtiest little brown dog I had ever seen. She was a mess and I was unimpressed but Shan was in love. I put up no fight and the paperwork with Norfolk was filed. A couple days later Shan brought the puppy to see me at a warehouse I was working at after picking her up to bring home. I was not there but my friend Wayne was. Wayne had good things to say about the puppy we would name Abbey.

Abbey was a multi generational feral dog and was full of behavioral issues. None of them were concerning at the time but she was nervous and would often hide. Abbey would get under our bed and we would have to get something to poke at her to coax her out from under the bed. The first week we had her I received a frantic call from Shan. We had some people over working on the house and she could not find Abbey. Shan was in a mess thinking that the pup somehow escaped while the workers were in and out of the house. I came back to the house with the guy I was looking with and we could not find her at first. We eventually found her standing perfectly still in the middle of the living room under a table. Abbey would eventually reach 75 to 80 pounds but could stay so still you would not notice her. I gave my wife a hard time afterwards. I told her they were going to make a movie about her called “How To Lose a Puppy In Seven Days”.

Abbey would not take long to earn her place in the home. Shan was involved in a horrible car wreck. She lost several weeks of memory and to this day does not remember the accident. The accident happened the day before Hurricane Isabel smashed into Virginia Beach. My wife was rushed to the hospital but they basically evacuated the hospital and sent her home. I got Shan on the couch and she was incoherent. It was only a half hour before the pharmacy closed and I had to rush out and get her meds. I asked my neighbors to check on her after I left. When I got back the neighbors said they could not get in the house. A little brown puppy growled and snarled and snapped and had herself firmly entrenched between my passed out wife and the neighbors she did not know. A couple years later we would have a tropical storm hit. During the storm I went outside and accidentally locked myself out. When I broke in through the window Abbey bit me on the hand before she knew it was me. As soon as she knew it was me she kept trying to make up to me. Abbey was fiercely protective.

We got Abbeys a buddy. We adopted an Aussie named Lily. To this day I don’t think Abbey cared if Lily was there but when it was time to be on guard they worked in tandem. They were a good pair. Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber!! On a couple occasions they got into fights. At least twice blood was drawn and it scared us. The vet said it was normal but when our daughter was born it would make us nervous. We had a party once and I convinced Shan that everyone loved pimento cheese sandwiches. I bought a couple trays of sandwiches including one with the pink sandwiches. The party went well and I did something I rarely do I got drunk. Not really drunk, more like snockered. The next morning when I made it downstairs I inventoried the pink sandwiches and they were almost all gone. Through a foggy head I bragged to Shan that I was right and people loved pink cheese sandwiches. Later that afternoon I was talking to a neighbor that had been at the party and he said that dog of yours loves pimento. I gave her almost the entire tray. She pooped pink for days.

Abbey was a great dog. She would hold her potty for a day if she needed to. She always knew when you were sad and was relentless with kisses and head butts until you smiled. She was goofy and knew how to please. She was strong-minded. When she was a puppy I walked her a mile and a half to my wife’s uncles house. She decided she was not walking back and I had to carry her home. When Abbeys was done she sat down and nothing could move her. Abbey was a family member. She was loyal and I never met a person that did not like her. We humanize our pets. I certainly humanized her and I will never apologize for it. They make your bad days tolerable.

Abbey recently developed cancer. The vet originally thought it could be cut out but during the x-rays it was so bad they could not see her lungs. My wife and I rushed to her side before she was euthanized. My wife was a mess and when Abbey saw me she inched toward me. It was heartbreaking. In true Abbey style she even went to her death on her terms. The tech could not get her up on the table and I had to carry her to the table. Like when she was done with her walks Abbey decided that if she was going there I was taking her there. My wife was amazing and held her to the end. Abbey’s ashes will make it to our new home later this month. Abbey was proof positive that the things you do not look for in life can make the biggest difference and impact. I love you Big Brown and I will never, ever forget you. You loved barking at squirrels and there is no doubt in my mind that even after we move to our new home I will hear you from time to time barking at the wubbies.

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I was in a hospital bed. I do not remember all the details as I was drugged out after surgery but I remember my wife laying the law down to the hospital staff. I was having a reaction to a drug the hospital had administered to me.  My wife was making it crystal clear to staff that they were changing my medications and there would be no hesitation. They changed my meds. I had tried for several years to get hired by a fire department. I was top five on the City of Norfolk’s hiring list. I was not hired and was given the answer that they had lost my paperwork. I was top five out of a couple 1000. My wife was furious and called the Fire Chiefs office and told them that they were ignorant by not hiring me. In 13 years my wife has had my back on even the smallest details of my life. She is unwavering in her commitment and love for me. I could do no better in life and neither could anyone else in my opinion.

I do not thing you can define love. Love is defined by so many different things. Love is a feeling, an action, a moment, and sometimes unspoken. Love means the world sometimes stops for a moment when someone walks in the room. Love means your stomach drops when you think for even a single tic that your someone has shed a single tear. Love DOES make the world go round but you can not use words to define it in terms that are the same for everyone. 

For thirteen years I have been humbled and blessed to be married to a walking inspiration. She makes me want to go on. She makes me want to be better.  What she may lack in self-confidence she more than makes up for in her wish to make the world a better place for the ones she loves. When we married I don’t think either of us knew about the difficulties that would come our way. No matter what life put in front of us we bulldozed through. She is the hurricane and I am the tornado. The long battles are quelled by her unmoved determination to not let anything tear our house asunder. I quickly put down life’s moments that can simply ruin a day. We are a team. We can not be defeated. 

I cannot imagine life with anyone other than my wife. When I am old and gray……and I am already getting gray hair….I want to be in a quiet house with her watching television, sitting on the patio talking about our years, holding hands, and watching our dear little girl kick the worlds ass. I love my wife and I am so lucky that she chose me. Happy Anniversary!!!!

Monster Movies: Nothing But Love

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Monster Movie: STINK

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Monster Movies: DAWN of CHANGE

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