“The ramblings and grumblings of author Ad Hudler”

A word about those messy beds
Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Not long ago, I was traveling when I returned to my hotel room after a harried day and saw that the maids had made my bed. Ahhhhh, there's nothing quite like that, is there? While you've been gone, someone has come into your world and done something that gives your life a feeling of order and calm. A well-made bed reminds us that every day is a fresh start.

They say that art and reason are what elevates mankind above the other species. I'd like to add "making-the-bed" to that list. We are the only critters who do it.....and it keeps us more civilized than the others. Little things like this help keep society glued together.

That said, I rarely make mine ... especially when my wife's out of town. My mom never made it a priority to force us to make the beds. (And thanks, Mom!) In fact, she tells this story: One day, a female friend came over, mid-morning, for coffee and was shocked when she noticed that the beds weren't made. My mom, the ever-creative Joy Hudler, said something like, "What!? You make your beds before noon? Oh, you should NEVER do that. It keeps the bacteria trapped under the sheets, and they multiply all day long. You shouldn't make your bed until the end of the day." (I included this in my novel "Man of the House")

My wife loves order, which includes a made bed.
True confession: As the stay-at-home spouse, I've lost count of the times that the beds didn't get made until 4:45 in the afternoon.

Anyway, next time you're on the road, remember to tip those hotel chambermaids!

A word about soccer ...
Sunday, June 27, 2010

Had to pass this on:
From our favorite weekly news-digest magazine called "The Week," an article that says soccer will never truly permeate American culture. I quote, "For the postmodern nihilists of Europe, life is nicely represented by a sport in which games end 1-0 or 0-0; Americans, though, don't like to watch players running around for hours without scoring since we like to think that hard work accomplishes something."


Dare me.
Friday, June 25, 2010

"That fireplace is so big I could fit in there," I said.
"No, you couldn't," my daughter replied.
"Yeah. I could."
"No. You can't."
"Oh yeah?"

Best Present Ever!
Monday, June 21, 2010

My daughter's Father's Day gift for me was awesome. She found it in an antique shop in Columbus, Ohio. It combines two of my favorite passions: cocktails and birds. Take a look at this:

Yes, what every martini-loving, bird-watching dad needs: A penguin cocktail shaker!
Simply unscrew the knob at the end of the beak and pour.
Thanks, Haley!

Now ... WHERE am I?
Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The problem of commuting between two homes (Nashville and Fort Myers) is most noticeable in the middle of the night ... when I have to get up to pee.

You know how you can usually do this in pitch-black darkness because you've memorized the path to the toilet, right? Well, this becomes a problem when you're half asleep, and you can't remember which house you're in ... and you stand there, semi-conscious, your eyes closed because you don't want to fully awaken ... trying to remember where in the hell you went to bed that night!

And it's not just two sleeping scenarios I've got to worry about -- it's four. The master in both homes, and then the snore room in both homes, where I often end up.

One night long ago I must have been standing there in my sleep for several minutes, in limbo and unable to determine where I was ... because my wife said something like, "Ad? What are you doing?" ... and I was afraid to move because I didn't want to stub my toe on a piece of furniture or run into a door frame.

I'm thinking adult diapers might do the trick. I can just stay in bed.

Retail Madness
Monday, June 14, 2010

The women's clothing line Chico's is based in my hometown of Fort Myers, and occasionally the company sponsors a warehouse sale to sell off all of its returns at a fraction of the original cost. We're talking jackets and dresses for $10.

My wife couldn't make it this year, so she gave some money to a friend who knows her clothing tastes and asked her to brave the crowds and buy her some basics. Now, this woman had never been to this sale before. And, based on her experience, she'll probably never go again.

Details: Huge warehouse. Hot Florida June day. Hundreds of women scavenging through the goods with sinking-Titanic focus and energy. Oh ... and another wrinkle: No dressing rooms. And signs that warned shoppers about disrobing in public to try on clothes. Evidently, the smarter girls wore swimming suits to the event so they could try on anything they needed to!

My friend thought it was weird. I thought it was pretty clever.

A Tasty Treat for a hot day
Friday, June 11, 2010

My entire family loves Crystal Light. We call it "adult Kool-aid."
We also like Arnold Palmers, which are half lemonade and half iced tea.

I got an idea: What if I mix one packet of lemonade-flavored Crystal Light with one packet of raspberry-iced-tea Crystal Light? It would be an Arnold Palmer with no calories!

It's really fine, let me tell you.

You may now call me the Master Mixologist.

My Weekend Adventure: Chapter 2
Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Two other things that happened to me during my recent trip to Disney.
First of all, I had a mean-off with this guy in some restaurant in Animal Kingdom.

Also, my arm twisted by good friend, Barbara, I joined a group of friends at the Hoop-De-Do Musical Review. It's a dinner theatre with a Wild West theme because it's situated in the Fort Wilderness campground ... one of those chipper, oh-gosh-gee-whiz, wholesome shows that feels like the Mousketeers shows of the past.

At any rate, near the end of the show they bring six audience members up to participate in a skit about Davy Crockett. Now, Davy dies in this skit but he is resurrected as a fairy angel ... and if you were a cast member in charge of finding the funniest person possible to put into a fairy angel costume, who would YOU pick? Maybe some bald, tall, 230-pound man? Yes, you guessed correctly.

It wasn't that tough, actually. All I had to do was dance like a ballerina out to the red star on the floor in the stage, then throw two big kisses to the audience, then dance out to the edge of the stage and turn around and moon the audience in my little fairy dress.

There are photos. You won't see them here.

My Weekend Adventure: Chapter 1
Monday, June 7, 2010

I met my wife and some friends for the weekend at Disney's Fort Wilderness Lodge this weekend, and there's plentiful news to share. First, this was the view from our window in the $208-per-night room at the lodge:
Yes, a lovely panorama of the smokehouse for the restaurant, some very impressive electrical transformers, and a gurgling lagoon filled with a mysterious substance. Let's just say that nary a bird dared to go near it. (I do have to admit, however, that this was an ideal place to see the Magic Kingdom fireworks display.)

This is the kind of room they give Floridians with their special Floridian discount, and, frankly, you can't blame them; they know we'll be back because it's cheaper for us to do so. Its a sacrifice I will make so Pete from Poughkeepsie and his family, on vacation, can have a nice view of the pool or lake or woods.

Have I ever told y'all that "sacrifice" is my middle name?

Where's my free wi-fi?
Friday, June 4, 2010

I'm on the road a lot, and I've learned something about wi-fi availability in lodging: The higher the thread count of the sheets, the less likely the chance of having free internet access in the room.

Seriously, the scuzzy, scabby chains always have free wi-fi, but the nicer places like Westin charge you about $10 a day. Go figure. I'd rather they forego the nightly turn-down service with free chocolates and give me some free access instead.

More lodging news: Remember the TV news segment about filthy bedspreads in hotels/motels? They rarely get washed, and Lord can even guess what guests do on them: sit naked, have fun, clip their toenails, pass gas, etc. We always take ours off the bed the second we get there.

But recently a reader told me there's something else to consider: The remote controls for the TV. Think about it. All those hands touching it ... and you have no idea where they've been.

Mother knows best
Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Those who have followed my blog for awhile know that my mother, Joy, is a newspaper columnist. Her reflective column this week on Memorial Day is something you should read. Grab a hanky.

Watching our cemetery just north of town come to life in riotous color each Memorial Day is such a special time for me.

Okay, so maybe using “come to life” and “cemetery” in the same sentence is a bit of a stretch.

What else would you call it?

I’ve often walked the cemetery during the year; when no crowds were present, when the grass was dry and brown, when there was only silence to match my foot steps.

Seeing it in all its glory this past weekend was like renewing acquaintance with a past we often forget.

And it was a glorious weekend. One couldn’t have asked for better weather as a setting for the holiday.

Watching the flags on veterans’ graves flapping in the breeze always reminds me of the day’s significance.

After the Civil War, Decoration Day (as it was known then) was proclaimed a holiday. The North and the South observed different days until 1882, when the name was changed to Mem orial Day. In 1971, Memorial Day was officially declared a nat ion­al holiday to be held on the last Monday of May.

At the site of our cemetery’s eternal flame, I always enjoy the ceremony put on by the dwindling numbers of our Veterans of Foreign Wars and its auxiliary.

I like the pomp and pageantry of watching our colors pass by and seeing the earnest faces in the crowd of those who have their own strong thoughts about honor and loyalty and country.

I like hearing the words that recall to us those who so selflessly gave their lives to keep that standard of red, white and blue flying.

I like, most especially, to watch the generations that decorate the graves and attend the ceremony together.

Husbands and wives with hands clasped as they remember together the tears they once shed at this site for a friend, a parent, a brother, a sister . . . a child.

I like seeing friends I haven’t seen since the last Memorial Day and renewing acquaintance with those from afar who make the annual trip in tribute of their treasured ones.

And I like to walk along the rows of gravestones, seeing how people have chosen to remember their loved ones with touching tokens of tribute amid an endless palette of hues:

–Angels in every size and shape and color and fabric perch on or near headstones; one blue-gowned and standing in her own miniature garden of yellow flowers and tiny stepping stones.

–Ornaments dangle from metal holders – glass heart pendants, tiny wind chimes, bright spirals of color, bas kets exploding with flowers.

–At some sites, flowers are lined up like soldiers in formation, positioned with perfect precision.

–At others the floral tributes are a massed profusion of almost chaotic confusion.

And all are beautiful against the green grass and azure sky they share.

–A tiny ceramic Boston terrier, a pink Care Bear, a row of tiny Holsteins, a John Deere tractor, a little cow boy in chaps, puppies, kittens, praying hands, crosses, birdhouses . . . pictures of grandchildren never seen.

Taking our own flowers to the sites of fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles and grandparents lets us join others on the same mission:

˜A woman in her nineties rests, leaning against her son’s pickup truck while he carries flowers over to her family’s plot that she has been visiting on Memorial Days since she was a child and to her own gravesite nearby, where her late husband has rested for the past 30 years.

˜A new widow marks the first year she will deco rate her husband’s grave and on this occasion she is surrounded by her family; generations of comforting hands to pat and stroke and hug her through this mile stone that none of us wants to face but all realize is inevitable.

˜Two middle-aged men, obviously brothers, stand with their wives where they have stood to attend the VFW services year in and year out . . . through the pass ing of their father, then their mother . . . finally, a bro ther. And I am somehow comforted by the constancy of their familiar presence.

˜Three generations approach a familiar headstone; a beautiful, white-haired but oh-so-youthful-looking grandmother accompanied by her daughter and her granddaughter who solemnly watch every move she makes, almost as if to memorize what they will have to one day do without her there to show them the way.

˜A crossover van pulls up and all four doors open at the same moment as if by one hand.

A mother, two of her daughters and a son-in-law reach into the back of the vehicle and set to work dec orating a series of gravestones set side by side.

They are silent as they go about their tasks, each almost reflexively knowing what they must do without asking . . . they’ve done it so often before.

This goes here and that goes there.

When they are finished, they stand there together, shoulder to shoulder, looking at their handiwork.


Thinking what?

Of the loved one or ones who once went through this same ritual with them in the years past?

Of the grief that has slowly grown dim, now allow ing them to remember the good times instead of the bad?

Of the lives they shared before?

Of what they wished they’d have done?

Or said?

Or forgiven?

Whatever is on their minds, this ritual of remem brance is what I like best about the holiday.

Memorial Day is a day for remembering.

A day for appreciating sacrifices large and small.

A day for them.

Before they became us. 6-3-2010