Opposites Attract… and Blossom!

My best friend is an accomplished city tour guide and event professional who has traveled the world over and continues to find adventure in common, everyday people and places. She married a funny, educated, well-read man, who –unfortunately- had never been a very good traveler. He always loved his recliner and big screen TV and preferred to stay home, would rather read the paper than read a map, and hated culinary adventure especially if there was fried chicken from his favorite fast food chain around the corner.

My friend loves to travel, loves talking about travel and places and people, and wants everyone to travel and enjoy it and love it as much as she does. One of the two was going to have to start faking it or start paying attention. It was a clash of personalities and preferences that has been fascinating to watch, considering how much love is shared, if not interests.

He wanted to make an effort and decided to plan their first trip together, when they would travel to meet her parents. It was stressful to begin with, conceptually, the whole meeting the family thing, plus required plenty of organization. He was destined to fail, and appear disorganized at best, stupid at worst. Airfare was expensive; there were unexpected additional costs for layovers, premiums attached to scheduling, so he decided to drive. As a life-long New Yorker, it is not an activity he felt comfortable with, to say the least. And, honestly, map reading is an acquired skill. So he got lost several times. He called her father for directions several times, since he kept forgetting and had to call (again) to have them repeated. But they got there. Alas, no fried chicken for dinner – and he didn’t really enjoy the frog legs her mother had painstakingly prepared especially for them.

It is really a miracle that they did get married, and that her parents embraced the new couple so joyously. For their honeymoon they had a chance to travel together again… but this time she planned it. He had an extraordinary experience! They went to Nova Scotia which was an interesting location and he had his first stay in a bed and breakfast. They ate amazing food and visited museums, and saw an outdoor Shakespeare play, and had an adventure on a sailboat. Because my friend insisted that they we meet and get to know the locals, they were able to meet wonderful people, eat in good inexpensive restaurants, and visit the places they recommended. They didn’t get lost once.

They’ve been together over 25 years and continue to visit interesting places and meet interesting people. Thanks to his wife the tour guide, he has slowly learned to embrace the unfamiliar, and to enjoy the journey, though he continues to hate the unexpected. But he still loves his fried chicken.

He now has a roofing company, even though he has never laid a shingle in his life…


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The Alamo Bell and the Mexican Family Next Door

Unless you’ve lived your entire life in The Hamptons or in the hills of Tennessee, you’ve probably been exposed to some kind of racial and cultural diversity. In my case, I’ve been around other nationalities and other cultures since the day I was born. I even had a Turkish friend once (anyone that knows about the not so good relations between the Greeks and the Turks will understand that joke)

Anyway, back to my neighbors, the Mexicans. Nicest people on the block. From the day I moved in they’ve been nothing but pleasant, inviting me to family events they host and Juan (the breadwinner working at Rockford towing service) helping me out on some outside projects all the time. One of his sons just got back from spending some time in the army, and the wife runs some kind of daycare – I see kids being dropped-off every morning. I guess they run it kinda “hush hush” and in the down low, cause they never talk about it and don’t have any signs, but every morning their driveway becomes a parade of little Mexican kids going into the house.

The whole point of my story has to do with the bell they have on the side of their house, by the garage door. I’m not talking about a bell you use to call the butler to the table… I’m talking a freaking cast iron, half ton freaking bell like the kind you find at the steeple of the church type bell…

Kinda cool, though: on summer evenings, when I suppose dinner is ready or they figured the kids had enough fun already, they will ring the bell a couple times. Within seconds, a swarm of Mexican kids start running back home as if any kind of delay will prevent them from having a seat at the table or something. A sense of family life that makes me think of what life was like for the majority of Americans back in the 60s or 70s. Kudos, Mexican family next door for keeping it real, fun and family oriented.

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Snow remains Elusive this Christmas

As we all know, even though some just don’t want to believe, weather on our planet is changing. It certainly is different from when I was a kid…

The latest installment of “El Niño“, this combination of highly complex patterns in weather triggered by the temperature variation in the oceans, particularly in in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean.

Every three to seven years, the surface waters of a very large strip of the Pacific Ocean, particularly the tropical area, become warmer (or cooler in the case of La Niña) anywhere between 1 to 3 degrees Celsius. This slight variation in temperature directly impacts the rain distribution patterns in the tropical region and can have a strong influence on the weather patterns across the globe.

Why “El Niño”?

El niño is Spanish for “the child”, in reference to Jesus. The weather pattern was given this name by Peruvian fishermen who noticed a warmer current in the Pacific Ocean every year, around Christmas time. In modern days, it was coined to refer to the more extreme displays of itself. It wasn’t until the 1960s that this was not simply a regional Peruvian phenomena, but rather one with much further reach throughout the tropical Pacific.

This phenomena actually lasts anywhere from 3 to 7 years, but it is only the peak, the extreme peaks that get referenced, and those only last 8 to 10 months.

We are still not entirely sure what causes this phenomena. I simply accept it as a reality and sometimes welcome it. For example, I was able to get my home re-roofed in the middle of December… something that any other year would have been virtually impossible to do. And while on topic, I really want to give a shout out to the crew of www.RockfordRoofRepair.com for doing such wonderful jub mat my home.

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Welcome to my Collection of Rockford Stories


As life passes, one continues to accumulate stories and experiences -both good and bad, sad and funny, important and irrelevant- that end up making up this basket of flowers we call life.

I intend to contribute my share of these experiences in other people’s baskets, but though this medium, I want to plasmate the ones that touch me. Perhaps it will be a way for future generation to understand how this crazy son of Greeks ended up being the way he is…

It may be a story of my neighbor across the street – this 70 year old german lady, tall as a pine, built like a sequoia, has somehow taken to like me, or a story about the plumber that freaked the crap out of me when a piece of cast iron pipe fell next to her foot from 20 feet above her…

I hope readers can enjoy.

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