The Bradshaw Blog

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Vacation – In Which We Take a Grand Tour of the Continent – Installment 1

Img_9784Ok so it wasn’t the CONTINENT exactly.  It was however, a lot of states. Well, actually it was three states. Including the one we live in.  We started with the Bradshaw Family reunion in Chateaugay on Saturday. 

Since we’re out of vacation time, we didn’t leave until Saturday morning, and since our schedules have been insane, we didn’t start packing in earnest until Friday night.  We finished late and got an early start, but weren’t at our best. I left my wallet at home. Beth missed an exit on the highway she NEVER misses. There was a fair amount of grouchiness on my part.

We got to the reunion three hours later than expected, but still had plenty of time to talk to aunts, uncles, first cousins, half-first cousins, second cousins, first cousins once-removed and all the spouses and significant others who have taken up with the clan. It’s a good sized family.  The only flavor of cousin not represented were the Cassidys who are our first cousins on mom’s side and second cousins on dad’s side (no there’s nothing useemly going on there – our family tree DOES fork and no special dispensation was required from Rome).

My only regret was that by the time that the ice had really broken, and all the kids had gotten over their shyness and started playing together, it was time to go home.  



Still – the cousins of my generation did have time to exchange stories about our time together as kids  – like the time one of my cousins locked another cousin in dad’s feed storage bin (they both claim not to remember but I was there). 

And Dan Sucato – about that little fact we discussed one day while getting the cows. I hope I didn’t scar you for life.

The next day we stopped by dad and Karen’s place, and then headed out to Silver Lake to visit the Petrashune’s at camp Good-E-Nuff.  Deb Bryant and Pat Bruns stopped by too. Img_9834

We had really only planned to stay for an hour or so, since we had to travel on to Fairlee, Vt for the next leg of the vacation, but we ended up staying for hours.  The Petrashunes were incredibly hospitable as usual.  We sat in their screened porch overlooking the lake as mid-afternoon stretched into later afternoon then into evening.  It had been a cloudless day, with a light breeze. The sound of the lake lapping on shore just below us was better than a bottle of wine (or even a six pack of Genesee Cream Ale). I could feel my blood pressure (and my urge to get moving) drop to almost nothing.


We finally did the math and realized how late we’d be arriving, in VT, and reluctantly hit the road.


I Don’t Wanna Go Baaaack!!!!

We’re sitting in the Orlando Airport waiting to board our plane back to the gray, desolate, frozen tundra of the Northeast.  Hopefully our sled dogs will be waiting for us at the gate when we land in Boston.  Sigh. 

At least there’s wireless in the airport.

I’ll upload pictures and details later, but here’s the highlights

Day 1 – Spent the day in a haze of sleep deprivation. We stayed up late packing, woke up early and I don’t sleep on planes.  Stumbled into our rental condo. Went to sleep.

Day 2 – Slept in. Hung out by the pool. In PM went to Universal Islands of adventure. Had a blast. Took the the Jurassic Park ride, which features an 85 foot plunge at the end. Also did the Spiderman ride, which features the most realistic 3D I’ve ever seen. Universal is great. the kids spent the better part of an hour at the Jurassic Park play area, while Beth and I cooled our heels. much less crowded than Disney,  and MUCH cheaper.  Unlike Disney, they’re very upfront about the fact that its just a theme park. They don’t try to BS the customers with soppy diatribes about saving the environment or working together to create a better world. 

Day 3 – Animal Kingdom. Took the African Safari ride.  Went on the new Expedition everest roller coaster. Not bad for an old guy with a bad back. Last time we went to Disney I skipped all the roller coasters, since my back wasn’t in great shape.  Saw lots of critters.  Ate at the rainforest cafe. Had a great time, although the park got really crowded.

Day 4 – Went to Universal Studios in the AM, and Universal Islands of adventure in the PM. Had a great time. Rides – Jaws, Jimmy Neutron, Shrek 4D, Men In Black, ET. Marty and I went on the Jurassic Park ride one more time.  It was starting to get very hot, so the Kids hung around the splash zone for the JP ride, and got soaked from head to toe. Good clean fun. Also did a couple of shows.  On the way out we ate at Pastamore.  A great day. One of the best of the vacation.

Day 5  – We were getting tired of the regimen of getting up early to get to the parks early, so we slept late, and spent the morning hanging around the pool.  Went to D isney MGM in the PM. Since Matt and Marty still Star Wars fanatics, we HAD to take the Star Wars ride.  Matthew and I also insisted on seeing the muppets 3D show. I’m not sure it was a must see for Marty and Beth, but Matt and I are big time muppets fans.  Beth wanted to go on the Aerosmith Rock and Roller Coaster, but there was a 50 minute wait. We said no thanks. We saw the Fantasmic show at the end of the day.

Day 6 – EPCOT. My favorite Disney Park. Rides – Soarin, Universe of Energy, NEMO (where I lost my prescription sunglasses. They’re now sleeping with the fish). We ate our way across the World showcase. Actually this whole vacation seemed to consist of feeding Matthew constantly, while occaisionally seeing a show or going on a ride.

Very hot.

Day 7 – Magic Kingdom. Lots of fun stuff but always too crowded.  We did the Pirates of the Carribean, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Stiches Great Escape, Buzz Lightyears Star Command, got pictures with some characters, ate lunch, and were back at the hotel by 3:30.

Still in denial about vacation coming to a close, we hung out at the pool and drank Margeritas.

More to come….

Please Don’t Ask Me If They Match!

Beth and I spent a few kidless hours Christmas shopping today. For the most part it was a lot of fun. We browsed at Borders, we bought a Bose Sound Dock for the Ipod. We bought gooey cookies at Mrs. Fields. However, there was a price to be paid. We spend an endless, monotonous, painful fifteen minutes at Macy’s shopping for clothes for Beth’s mom. Despite my pleas and non-comittal grunts, she kept asking me my opinion on fashion choices for my mother-in-law. As I waited, I composed a Haiku:

Shopping with the wife

Mother in law needs a skirt.

Inside, I’m screaming.

Greetings From Clarence, NY

Img_4561 We’re in Clarence visiting Grandma Sehl for Thanksgiving.   

We brought both cats with us, and the little buggers kept us up all last night, since they had to sleep in the same room as Beth and me.  Between the sleep deprivation last night, the tryptophan OD from today’s turkey feast, and the effort of raking leaves in the backyard, I have passed beyond exhaustion into some weirdly profound state.  I’m expecting the walls to start bleeding anytime now. Maybe the plastic saints on the dresser will start talking to me.

Backyard_sepa_2 This part of New York took a big hit from the early snow storm a few weeks ago. Mom Sehl was without power for over a week.   A lot of big trees came down. Almost every tree lost some major branches.   People have filled up lot lines with cut-up trees. 

Most of dad Sehl’s fruit trees sustained severe or fatal injuries.  Unfortunately all the cottonwood trees survived.  Dad hated those trees. They clogged the gutters, dropped twigs all the time and the seed pods made a hell of a mess.

Since dad is now enjoying  his  eternal reward I know he doesn’t mind, but it makes me kinda sad. I’m holding out hope that the fruit trees send up suckers in the spring, and the Cottonwoods succumb to their injuries. 

Mom had a utility pole come down in her back yard, and Beth and I spent some time (being long time utility employees) critiquing the repair job. We didn’t approve of the guying methods.  We grumbled that the pole wasn’t grounded. Beth questioned the number of skirts on the new insulators.  It’s easy to be critical when you’re not the one freezing in the dark while climbing a pole to get the lights back on.

Family Tomfoolery

Img_4341 Thanks for coming, guys. We had a great time. Miss you already.


The Matthew Files

Matthew and I had the obiligatory "What do you wanna be when you grow up?"conversation this week. He looked at me with a straight face and told me "Dad, I wanna be a Paranormal Investigator when I grow up."


Well, he’s only seven. He’s got time to change his mind.

I should have seen this coming. He and a bunch of other kids at school formed a "Monster of the Month Club" – whatever that means. He begged me to find info on the internet about El Chupacabra – the mexican monster that drains goat’s blood. I also had to help him locate a map of area 51.

Parenthood is many things, but boring isn’t one of them.

Technical Support



So that’s why my display is sideways and my character set has changed to Bulgarian. With tech support from these guys who needs cyberterrorists?

Nice Martin – But My Fingers Were Smartin’

All_hands_2_mod_resized We had a department meeting recently that was supposed to end early so the troops could head out for a game of golf. Since I don’t play golf, I was just about to head back to the office when I was asked to sit in on an impromptu jam session.  One of my co-workers had brought an extra guitar (a Martin – hence the title of this post), and was willing to let me make some noise with it.


I could say that the guitar was forced on me, and that I only agreed to play after much modest protest. That would be a lie. It was a lot more like:

Steve: "Pat I brought and extra guitar. Would you like to pl…"

Me: "Sure!"

I hadn’t touched a guitar in six months, and haven’t played with anyone else or in front of an audience for at least twelve years.  Needless to say I was rusty.  Since I was still technically on company time, there was no possibility of a stiff drink to loosen up.

Luckily it was a pretty informal session, and Chuck, Paul and Steve were easy to play with.

We played for over an hour. I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think I humiliated myself.   

What surprised me the most was how much I enjoyed playing with a group of compatible musicians.  The first five minutes were nerves and cramped wrist muscles. After that it was pure joy.  I even sang a little (luckily very little). I may look dead serious in the pictures, but don’t believe it for a second. It was Nirvana (in the Buddhist sense of release from worldly cares, not in the sense of the 80’s flannel grunge band.)

One of the things that used to discouraged me was the fact that I’m not much of a natural musician. I’ve noodled around with a guitar since college, and took lessons a couple of times, but no one would ever accuse me of being musically inclined.  I stuck with it because I love playing music with other people.   In the 80’s and 90’s I played with a garage band called PC and the Compatibles.  It wasn’t until the band broke up (job relocations, marriages, babies, you know…) that I realized how much it meant to me. I consoled myself by reminding myself that we sucked.

Now it occurs to me that it didn’t matter a damn how technically proficent we were.  We were a bunch of musically compatible people who enjoyed making 20th century electric folk music (albeit very loud and dissonant folk music) in basements and cheap mexican restaurants. We loved the music, and truly enjoyed making music as a group.  It was ok that we sucked.

Anyways – The jam session was well received. We had an audience for a while, and I’m sure a lot of people were surprised to see that side of me. I’m usually pretty frazzled and humorless on the job.

My left hand was in pretty tough shape the next day. You need callouses and some muscle tone in your left hand to play acoustic guitar, and I have neither. Ah well. I guess I’d better start practicing.

Settling In

Dscf0065 A quick update on our new cat, Freddie – He’s settled in nicely, and growing fast.  He’s still losing the wrestling matches with Boots, but I  think he’ll have the advantage in a couple of months.

The first couple of days were pretty hairy (literally and figuratively). Boots hasn’t seen another cat in a while, and he treated Freddie like a cat toy. We couldn’t leave them alone for fear that Boots would playfully disembowel his new little frend.

They still play pretty rough, but as you can see from the picture below they’re learning to get along.


SpongeBob O’Squarepants

Marty and I are taking Irish language lessons at his dance school.  I’m not really sure why we should be spending our time learning a jaw-cracking language that very few people actually speak. I’ve always thought Irish sounded really cool, and Marty has a real talent for languages, so we’re giving it a try.

Anyways, I was searching the web for Irish Language references, and I came across this video of SpongeBob SquarePants In Irish.

If you pay close attention, you can tell that Sandy the Squirrel is speaking Irish with a Texas accent.

Holy cow. You can find anything on the web.

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