A Christmas Carol, Day 1

Posted by Danny

Tanner family quotes from the first night of A Christmas Carol rehearsals.

  • “I cannot believe it is 5:30 and you have not started your homework!  What have you been doing all afternoon?”  “Watching TV.”  “Unbelieveable!  Just unbelievable.  You’ve got thirty minutes!  Get to work!”
  • “Eat quicker!”
  • “Fifty-five nights!  I have lost my mind.”
  • “Dad, am I an alto, soprano or second soprano?  BTW, what is a second soprano?”
  • “Dad, you backed into a tree.”
  • “&%$#.  I was in a hurry!”
  • “I need to sit by someone who can sing well.”
  • “Danny, is Jesse coming to rehearsal tonight?”  “I’m only his brother-in-law.  I do not know.”
  • “Uncle Jesse sure is cranky.”
  • “I haven’t sung since 1983.”
  • “Is that the tenor part?”  “I just made that up.  I do that when I don’t know what we’re supposed to be singing.”
  • “When they split us up into our stage families, I need to be in a gay marriage and my partner needs to be a tenor.”
  • “What if they put us all in one stage family?  That would be so embarrassing.”
  • “Dad, they’re going to put Michelle in your stage family because she cried at tryouts.”
  • “Lisa is looking down laughing her butt off.”
  • “It’s harder to sing standing.”
  • “Dad, you’d be a good Scrooge.”
  • “This was really fun!  I can’t wait for tomorrow.”

Sunday Post 36: Something New

Last year my grief counselor told me that I needed to begin to develop some new interests.  She gave me an example of a woman who lost her husband some years ago.  In trying to fill her time and develop her new identity, she began taking salsa dance lessons. 

I told her it just wasn’t me. 

Before Lisa died, I really didn’t need a lot of outside interests – or at least I didn’t think I did.  I was interested in her!  In looking back on it, that was a mistake.  Because I didn’t have other ways to focus my time, filling the void she left was that much harder.

Fortunately I’ve sort of stumbled into writing.  It’s something I enjoy and I can do as much or as little as I want.  The Christmas Carol tryout wwas a different story.  It was a leap – out of the comfort zone.  A new adventure.  And I’m excited we’ve gone out on a limb to do something really new to us.

I wish I would not have waited for a significant life change to stick my neck out an try some new things.  Throwing caution to the wind, taking a litte risk, can make your life richer.  A good lesson for me to learn.

A Christmas Carol – Starring…

Posted by Danny

Ira David Wood and co-Starring (well, “starring” might be a strong word but if you bring a strong pair of binoculars, you might be able to see us in the background)…

The Tanner Family!!!

Jesse Katsopolis – Ironically, started his acting career at the age of six as Tiny Tim in Theater in the Park’s A Christmas Carol.  Was a standout in the Broughton High School award-winning Show Choir.  Pink sparkly vests are no stranger to this performer.  An avid piano player, he’s often caught singing at the top of his lungs as family members enter into the house.  Occasionally mistaken at weddings as a paid professional dancer, Christmas Carol moves will be a cinch.  Won Stunt and Talent night on multiple occasions while a camper and counselor at Camp Sea Gull.

Danny Tanner:  Most often heard singing on the I 440 beltline with the windows open or in the shower where he mesmerizes himself with the amazing echo.  Once played in a handbell quartet, his ability to read music is uncanny.  In 5th grade, won the talent show with a classic hip thrust in the class Soul Train line.   Starred in the play David and Lisa in high school and won the respect of his teacher and classmates for learning to play You Can’t Hide Your Lying Eyes on the guitar, an instrument he’d never picked up before.  Also got extra credit for being only one of three students who actually memorized his lines.

DJ Tanner:  Only one of two Tanner family members with previous A Christmas Carol experience.  She said her favorite part of the play was trying to teach her on-stage father the dance moves and dancing across the onstage bridge (she may be teaching her REAL father dance moves this go round).  She was robbed the part of Mary in her elementary school Christmas pageant but found her sweet revenge when standing on stage with Scrooge.  She did admit that each night when they rolled a cannon on stage and the huge “bang” rang out, she hid backstage in the bathroom.

Stephanie Tanner:  Actually did play Mary in the elementary school Christmas pageant but DJ said it was just because she had brown hair.  She’s good at acting.  About twice a week she acts like I should ignore the fact that she has once again forgotten to bring home a school assignment.  Her older sister says she’s good at fake crying to get her father’s attention.  Stood by the guy who played the whale in Jonah, the church kids musical, four years ago.  Has actually performed multiple solos in the school chorus and even sang in the State Capital Rotunda last Christmas.  Beautiful voice!

Michelle Tanner:  Has a powerful voice but when singing alone away from Dellwood Drive it is difficult to hear it over her sobbing.  Has a standing role as Zeila the Fortune Teller (shows most Saturday afternoons, Dellwood Drive).  Most recently performed a ventriloquist act in the family den by taping a huge stuffed bunny rabbit to her back and entering the room in reverse.  Writes her own songs, they just don’t make any sense to anyone but her.

 

 

It is a great show and a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season–we’ll be doing our best to blend in with the truly talented folks who make up the cast. If you’ve never seen it, or you really just want to check out Jesse and me in tights, you can visit Theatre in the Park’s A Christmas Carol website here.

Our performance this year is dedicated to the woman who taught us how to sing, shared a love for musicals, and always had the guts to try something new.  May we make her proud.

Lost in a World of Utensils

Posted by Danny

I forgot how to cook.  We were gone so much this summer that I just didn’t – we ate out.

So tonight, I decided I had to get back on the wagon.  School started a couple of weeks ago and we had several meals in the freezer.  Tomorrow, I may have to pull out the pots and pans.

I began hanging out in the kitchen about midnight – trying to rebuild some kharma with the place.  I wiped the stove top off with the sponge and ran my hands across the countertop.  I counted my knives, they all seem present.  I’m coming back baby!  Together we’ll make this happen!

I then opened a random, down low, utensil drawer and I was surprised at what I found.  There are things in there that are unidentifiable to me.

What is this?

It looks sort of like a spoon but there’s a big hole in the bottom.  Actually, I’m pretty sure my urologist used a similar instrument when he gave me my vasectomy – only his was made of cold stainless steel.

And this?

I thought it was a thermometer but there are no numbers.  It’s rough around the sides like a cat’s tongue.  Actually felt good when I used it to scratch my back.  Too big for a skewer.  I’m gonna move it to the bedroom.

This one is clearly for cutting – it has really sharp teeth.  It looks like it could peel the skin off a tiger – nearly cut my finger off when I grabbed it for closer observation.  It too may have been used in a same day surgery procedure or by Anthony Hopkins in the thriller Psycho.  I’m just going to put it back in the drawer, face down.

And this contraption?

If it had more parts I’d think it could be used to mold playdough.  A telescope?  It actually came from The Pampered Chef, says so on the side.  I can almost hear Lisa –

I just had a Longaberger Basket party last week and now the Pampered Chef.  I don’t cook!  Why would they invite me to this?  And I’m going to have to buy something that we will never use!

And clearly, she did.

And this little man is cute – up on three little legs.  But what is his purpose?  Maybe he’s a cake topper.

Wouldn’t want that on my birthday cake.

I feel so inadequate.  How have I made it the past 18 months without these utensils?  What am I missing?  I bet if I could figure out what these things did my cooking abilities would increase three-fold.

One thing I loved about Lisa – I’d bet my life savings that she couldn’t identify any of these gadgets either.  We were kitchen clueless together.

If you’ve got a clue, let me know!

Sunday Post 32: Not sittin’ on the Porch

Posted by Danny

Mr. Stucky is my 89-year-old next door neighbor.  I saw him in the yard on Saturday.

“You know Bruce, it’s ashamed that neighbors don’t visit any more.  I feel like I haven’t seen you for a year.”

I put down my jug of weed killer, a little concerned that our conversation might get in the way of my Yard of the Month prospects.

“I wouldn’t recognize your girls,” he continued, “I haven’t seen them in quite a while.  Back in the day, neighbors spent time together.  They checked on each other.  They knew what was going on in each other’s lives.  That’s just not the case anymore.”

He was right.  We are seldom outside or on our porch anymore.  Why would we be?  We have a wii, i Phones, i Touches, and 1,500 TV channels to choose from.  During the school year there are dance classes, lacrosse games, piano practices and basketball try outs.  Sit on the porch?  Yeah right.

That’s the nice thing about our August vacation at Capon Springs.  There are porches galore and rocking chairs for days.  Happy Hour starts at 5 p.m. every day, come one, call all!  We share about the day’s activities, who played well at golf – and who didn’t.  We discuss politics and occasionally share a bit of Capon gossip. 

Before breakfast a group gathers to chat.  After dinner we sit in a large family room to play games or just to reminisce.

It’s amazing that I might feel closer to a group of people I only see seven days a year than to some who cross my path on a weekly basis.

So I’m gonna work harder to visit and get to know those around me.  I’m going to strive to spend less time on my grass and more time checking on Mr. Stucky.  And I’m going to do a better job of listening to my elders.  He’s a pretty wise man.

They’re Back!

DJ and Stephanie at the Camp Awards Banquet

Posted by Danny

The arguing began over the I touch as we drove out of the Camp Seafarer gate.  It was music to my ears!

Today I picked DJ and Stephanie up from Camp.  DJ’s been there for four weeks, Stephanie for two.  Michelle and I have had a lot of one-on-one daddy/daughter time and I think I wasn’t the only one ready for the return of the sibling duo.  She desperately wanted to share what she’d been up to for the past four weeks without them. 

We stopped at Chic-Fil-A for lunch in New Bern. 

Michelle:  “I want a three-piece nugget with fries.”

Stephanie:  “I want the same thing.”

Me:  “Are you sure you guys can eat all of that?  I don’t want to buy it if you aren’t going to eat it.”

In unison:  “Yes dad,” a little annoyed that I asked.

Sixteen minutes later –

Michelle:  “Dad, you can have the rest.”  There were three lone nuggets still in the box.

Stephanie:  “I’m done too.”  Another three staring me in the face.

Usually I’d give them a speech about waste paired with how money doesn’t grow on trees followed by a big I told you so…

Not today!  A fast food tray with half eaten fare could only mean one thing:  THEY’RE BACK!

We have Mt. Kilimanjaro of laundry in the basement.  I’m on load four.  There are many, many more to go.  I may, not sure, finish before it’s time to pack next July.  But you know what?  I’m loving folding each little pair of Target undies and I’m exhilarated by my search for the matching socks!

Last night DJ and I were up until 1 a.m.  I was working diligently to figure out if she’d met “Johnny Sea Gull” at one of the camp dances.  She wouldn’t divulge, but we sure did laugh a lot as I guessed potential names of her imaginary suitors.

Sending all three to resident camp is a big step for me, that was Lisa’s job.  But they grew a ton during their time away – both physically and in maturity. 

Maybe I did too.

Sunday Post 29: The Loss of Innocence

I started a journal the week Lisa was diagnosed.  It will be a significant part of the book I’m slowly trying to piece together. 

I was reading through some of my entries recently and ran across this short paragraph dated 9/21/10:

It’s 11:36 pm – I was headed to the shower.  Got a glance of myself in the full length mirror.  Stopped.  Grabbed my journal.  Looking at myself, what do I see?  Who am I now?  Who am I becoming?  I see – greater strength than ever before, physically stronger – emotionally stronger; a man who looks every bit of his 45 years here on earth and that used to not be the case.  A man wearing an old pair of reading glasses found around the house – maybe my grandfather’s.  A hollowness deep in those big brown eyes; maturity and newfound wisdom; a lack of innocence; deeper creases surrounding the mouth.  Look deeper, deeper, what do you see?  Perhaps a stronger faith growing within.

The phrase that whacks me in the head as I look back on my writing is “a lack of innocence.”  Can a 40 plus year old man have an innocence about him?  I used to.

I was having a conversation with a friend this week and she said, “You lived a charmed life.”  She was right.  And I’d like that life back.

I had no idea how deeply someone could hurt.  I couldn’t comprehend loss or grief.  I didn’t know what it was like to truly be scared or anxious or to have a mind that raced so hard you could not stop it.

But accompanying this loss of innocence is a loss of judging others.  And perhaps it brings with it a deeper understanding and empathy for what people may be going through.

I didn’t mind being innocent.  It was kind of nice.  But maybe having to face the realization that life is tough has really made me a better person in some ways.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all gain that wisdom, that acceptance of others and desire to know what someone might be facing before making assumptions?  And wouldn’t it be nice to figure that out  without going through hell here on earth?

If I had it to do again, during my first forty years I think I’d try harder to love others for who they were and try more earnestly to understand them.  You never know the baggage people are carrying.  Circumstances can change folks; they certainly changed me.

Hair, Hair, Everywhere

Cut them in the Fat Daddy's parking lot

Posted by Danny

I’m having grooming issues. 

This is a new problem.  Lisa always took care of that for me – sort of like a monkey caring for its young.

One day we were at the intersection of South Saunders Street and I-40 heading to my parent’s house in Fayetteville.  When the light turned yellow, I began our ascent onto the on ramp.  Simultaneously, Lisa reached over, without my prior knowledge, and yanked a hair from the top of my ear.  I swerved onto the shoulder.

“WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING?”

“You had a really long hair growing out of your ear.  It was nasty!”

“Was I in imminent danger???”

“It was bothering me.”

“But I was fine with it.”

“You don’t want to walk around Fayetteville with a horse hair hanging out of your ear baby.”

“I guess I should say thank you?  Don’t do that anymore!  Especially when I’m driving!  It won’t matter if I have a horsehair hanging from my ear if I’m dead.”

She warned me about zits that crept up on my post pubescent face.  Why are females enamored by zits?  It’s like guys and sports.

She’d keep an eye out for nostril hair that crept, like an ivy vine, out of my large nose.  And she also reminded me to cut my toenails.

I can’t seem to remember to clip those things.  Four or five times this year I’ve found myself in the car, flip-flops on my feet, and realize it’s been weeks (maybe months) since I cut them.  I look like Howard Hughes. 

I finally put one of Lisa’s many pairs of nail clippers in the car.  I’ve given myself a pedicure in the Target parking lot, at the Y, and even at church one day this year.  I’d suggest everyone keep a pair in their cup holder.

My brother recently told me to get a haircut.  One good friend told me I needed a new pair of shoes.  Another that my sport coat might need to be taken to the dry cleaner.  Everything I eat looks good on me.  

I’m like my grandfather was at age 92.  I need assistance.  Jesse said he was willing to help me with a lot of things around here but he wasn’t touching the hair on my ears. 

I’d like to give each of you permission to pull me aside and discreetly tell me if you see something astray.  I won’t be offended.  I need your assistance.

Summer Math, A Huge Downer

From DJ's Summer Reading List

Posted by Danny

We didn’t have to learn in the summer when I was a kid.  Now a days there’s a summer reading packet, asummer  math packet and Stephanie has to learn the Catechism for church homework.  I turned out to be a reasonably intelligent, successful dude without formal training in June, July or August.

When I was a kid, we learned from each other when school was out, not a book.  Tracy McDonnell taught me about the female anatomy in our above ground swimming pool while my dad mowed the lawn around the perimeter. 

“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

Sounded good to me.  With murky water and no goggles, she could have shown me her elbow and I would have been impressed.  But that hot July day in 1973, I left the pool at least knowing there was something different about her from me.  Why else would she want to cut that deal?  Although I still wasn’t sure what it was.

We played hide in go seek until 10 pm on Friday nights on our cul-de-sac on Berkshire Road. There were ten of us.  That experience taught me to stick with the big guy.  Any time I hid with my older brother or Mike Mask, I came out a winner.

We played Boyland each week – if the boys caught the girls we could do whatever we wanted to them.  It usually consisted of making them play matchbox cars in the big dirt hole in the backyard.  I think Tracy wanted to do something else.  The art of persuasion in action.

At one point, my brother and I got a bow with darts that had suction cups on the end.  We stood in a vacant house storage room and shot the darts at a friend’s butt until they eventually stuck.  This was no easy task and taught me a great deal about perseverance.  I not sure what our target learned…perhaps true friendship???

At our church, some person back in the 1950’s set up an endowment where the proceeds are used to give each 5th grader $50 bucks if they memorize the Catechism.  In my opinion, having to memorize this epistle could turn you from a true follower of Jesus Christ to an atheist in a quick minute.  I don’t think God intended for us to memorize the thing – just to basically understand the jest and work to live by it.

“Stephanie, you’re gonna learn how much God loves you if it kills you!  Get to memorizing!  You’re only on question 6.”  I’ve got some repair work to do for poor Stephanie who I insisted follow through on this assignment.

My kids sob about their summer math homework.  Learning the Catechism has been like pulling teeth.  There is a summer reading list we’re crunched to complete, primarily because I didn’t start pushing it until late June.  Even I needed a break from the homework. 

I’d have to quit my job to finish five chapter books in a summer.  I don’t know how they do it.

I do hope that all of this work pays off.  Perhaps Stephanie will become a Presbyterian minister and work to remove the Catechism from the curriculum.  From the looks of it, Michelle’s gonna be stronger in an addition field than one that requires significant talents in subtraction.  Those pages cause the most tears.  I look ahead and assign them when the babysitters with us.  But I think that’s bad parenting. 

DJ’s gonna be our author.  You’ve read some of her stuff.  For her school, she had to pick one of six books to read and report on by the end of August.  Miss Overachiever said, “I’ll just read them all.  Got to have something to do at rest period at camp.”

Me?  I’m choosing to stick to my old patterns of experiential summer learning.  Thinking of building a pool.

You Weak Little Man

Posted by Danny

It’s almost time for braces in the Tanner household.  Teeth have the potential to become a significant focus in the months and years to come.

Our orthodontist called me a few weeks ago and said, “If DJ doesn’t want to be wearing braces in the 12th grade, she probably should get her last three baby teeth extracted.”  Since she was headed to resident camp for four weeks, I quickly made an appointment with our dentist.

So last Thursday, at 3 pm, we slinked in to the office waiting room, DJ understandably nervous.  Me, a wreck.

I’ve never had a cavity.  I floss without ceasing.  When Lisa and I were first dating we went to the mountains for the weekend.  On the top of Grandfather mountain, I looked out at the sights around us.  It was beautiful.  I then pulled out my dental floss – and went to town.  Why not merge the three things I liked most in my life at that time?  Hiking, Lisa and flossing.  It’s amazing she continued our relationship.

My love for a pure mouth and my squeamish stomach hinder my ability to be of  significant support to my children in an oral surgery situation.

With the permission of the dentist, I entered the examining room with DJ.  The nurse on one side of her, the dentist on the other.  Me on a round, backless, rolling stool at the base of her chair.

It started out simple enough – a mirror and cleaning pick.  That did not last long.

Her nervousness drew him to offer the laughing gas.  She began to inhale – she calmed a bit.

I, on the other hand, needed some too.  I became light headed as he pulled out the needle, longer than my forearm.  With a circular handle on the end, it reminded me of a small caulking gun.

The shots began – I looked out the window.  I could hear him shake her jaw – the sound of lips, spit and teeth, like a horse eating dinner.

“One tooth is out DJ.” 

Whew!  Relief.

“I’m just going to clean up the socket.”

How long can it take?  Is that the drill he’s pulled out?  Something is wrong.

“Are you OK DJ?”  the doctor asked with concern.

“Are you OK Mr. Tanner?” he asked with a grin.

My tan skin was white, my pits sweating profusely.  I need a chair with a back, I’m going to pass out.

I moved to the nurse’s computer with a more solid seat.  I held my head down as the blood rushed back in. 

Think happy thoughts Danny – the Christmas parade last year.

I was right in my thinking – something had indeed gone wrong.  Two roots broke off in her gums – he dug and he dug – like an archeologist searching for King Tutankhamun’s tomb. 

“I couldn’t get them all but I think they will resorb.”

Resorb, resorb, what exactly does that mean?   A cousin of absorb?  We can’t come back for more. 

You are such a wimp – you weak little man.  Lisa could have taken the teeth out with tweezers and peroxide.  You’ve got to buck up – this is your job now.

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