What would David Michael be doing now?

I was three years old in 1961. My family lived in Barnesville Maryland in a small farmhouse at the foot of Sugarloaf Mountain.

My little brother, David Michael was born on August 22, 1961.

David Michael died in October of the same year. Just a little more than one month old.

I don’t remember my little brother, however, I often wonder, if he were alive today, what would he be doing.

Here is a good guess as to what David Michael would be doing today.

He is 52 years old today (August 2013). He is living in a nice house in the suburbs of Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

David Michael’s wife is Samantha. They have 3 children who are now between 24 and 29 years old. All of the children have moved out of their parent’s home and now live with their respective partners in the Philadelphia area. Samantha and David Michael often cajole their kids for grandkids.

Samantha is a successful real estate broker, who loves her business. David Michael has his own business management consulting business. He is very successful and enjoys his work.

David Michael loves spending time with his wife, children, and their partners. Regularly all of them gather at one of the family members homes. Each gathering is a party because they enjoy each other’s company, laughing, cooking, dining, telling stories, discussing current societal topics, watching movies and playing card games together.

David Michael is a community leader and active civic volunteer. He loves to help others and enjoys seeing good people succeed when they try harder than they thought they could and by accepting a compassionate tug up from someone with a caring heart.

David Michael and Samantha travel frequently and enjoy the vineyards of California, the lakes of Minnesota and Blue Ridge mountains.

David Michael and I don’t talk very often, we are both busy with our own respective families, communities, and businesses. When we do talk, we pick right up where we left off.

Often when I imagine what my little brother is doing now I can clearly see that he is in love with his wife and kids, happy in life and knows that he lives a blessed life.

I compensate for never knowing my little brother by imagining him as a happy, successful, imaginative, passionate, giving and loving person.

I am comforted for the death of my little brother by my imagination and my belief that God is caring for David Michael as his child in heaven.

My evening with a cockroach


 My evening with a cockroach

I will never forget this night.

I checked into the Select Inn of Tulia Texas after a long day of air travel and driving. After getting my room key I headed off to my room. I was looking forward to a quiet night and a good night’s sleep, in a truck stop motel. Yeah, maybe my expectations were too high.

When I got into my room I rushed thru my nightly ritual, pulled back the covers and jumped into the bed.

Within a few minutes, I started to doze off. Despite the periodic truck lights peering through the gaps in the curtains as they pulled into and out of the truck stop, sleep was imminent.

Right before I fell into a deep sleep I realized that I was not alone in the room. I opened one eye just enough to see what appeared to be the biggest cockroach I have ever seen, and he was crawling up the bedspread towards me.

Because I was still awake enough to control the situation I was in, I did just that.

Slowly I slipped my right hand out from under the covers. Moving my hand towards my bed partner, I flexed and cocked my middle finger in preparation to flick my guest off the bed. He continued heading my way.

At the right moment, I let go my middle finger and sent the cockroach soaring through the air. He smashed into the mirror and fell backward onto the dresser with a loud thud.

This may be hard to believe, but, what I saw next was absolutely bizarre.  He rolled off his back, onto his 6 legs, stood up straight, stared at me and shook his head as if to say, “That’s the best you got?” He commenced heading towards me again.

I wanted to get a good night’s sleep and had to end my relationship with this cockroach quickly. I got out of bed, walked over to the dresser, reached down to the floor, picked up my shoe and smashed it down on the creature’s head. Our date night was over.

The rest of the night was uneventful.

In the morning, as I checked out the front desk clerk asked, “how was your evening sir?”

“I slept well, despite the demise of my room guest. Please offer my apologies to housekeeping.”

My evening with a cockroach was short lived.

Clemmons NC Black Bear – HIT & RUN

The Clemmons NC black bear – Hit & Run Death

The Clemmons NC Black bear got hit by a car this morning.

This bear had wandered into town, likely searching for good food and/or meeting someone new.

However, as he traveled around the city he decided to attempt crossing I-40. Unfortunately, he did not navigate the speeding cars.

Here is a video of the crime scene related to the Clemmons NC Black bear

Here is a picture of the local police at the scene of the hit & run



This story of the Clemmons NC Black Bear got picked up by WFMY News2, WXII 12, Journal NowFox WGHP, WBTV, News&Observer, DailyAdvance and ABCNew11

The affects of the death of newspapers

As we, as a society, decide that we no longer need newspapers and magazines, there are many areas of our lives that will need to change as well.

Consider what you use newspapers for beyond getting the news. We all use newspapers for lots of daily tasks that we take for granted.

Hopefully, we can find answers to the problems that the lack of newspapers will create for us.

We will need to work together in order to find answers to the problems that this change will create.

Here are 15 areas of our lives that we will need to adjust as we deal with the slow death of newspapers:

  1. Provide news – We can this virtually faster & from more sources than ever
  2. Provide coverage – Another source will need to be discovered quickly to cover up mistakes we make around the house
  3. Offer protection  – We have other sources of material for wrapping our fine china, but as in #2, we need to find other sources as well.
  4. Use in gift wrapping – Men, we may need to consider using real wrapping paper. Then save it for item #2 and/or #3
  5. Bottom of the birdcage – We need to find other sources of material for this. Maybe bright colored tissue paper from our gifts.
  6. Windshield cleaning – We may have to go back to using bath towels and t-shirts for this
  7. Painting & project work – We will need to find another source of material for the small item painting, gluing and staining projects. I don’t want to use tissue paper for this.
  8. Help in writing – We have found our new sources of this. Our blogs, Tweets, Facebook statuses & LinkedIn articles are just a few.
  9. Use in arts and crafts – This could be the biggest challenge. What will we use for Papier-mâché projects? Easter eggs, dinosaur eggs, face masks, etc., etc. This could be a major catastrophe.
  10. Use in paper airplane making – Fortunately, we still get brochures and flyers in the mail (for the time being). If we can do it without being caught, we can always raid the printer paper.
  11. Help in building a fire – This will be another area where we will need to find a replacement source of regular fire starting material. I’ve used tissue paper and love the bright colors of fire. Maybe this is the new source.
  12. To boost friendship – The ability to share articles, blog posts and social media posts has already replaced this task and expanded our ability to make new (ie virtual) friends.
  13. For a moment of peace – We have replaced reading the newspaper in peace with listening to PodCasts with our headphones on.
  14. Coupons – Fortunately our grocery stores and manufacturers are building digital solutions already.
  15. Puppy Training – We are not supposed to be smacking our puppies on the snout anyway.

This is just a short listing of the areas of our lives that will change. Surely, many people have other areas of their lives that will be affected adversely.

Yes, the days of using newspapers for much more than reading news are quickly disappearing.  Change occurs every day, let’s keep working thru this change together.

Is it dead Dad?

Years ago we built a beautiful home on a 3 acre lot in Maryland. There were trees in the front of the lot, a long drive way up a hill to the house. It was a great place because we were nearly the highest lot in the community. Regardless of which direction we looked, we could see for miles and it was a grand view.

We put a small vegetable garden back behind the house where we all had fun growing gourds, tomatoes, peppers and squash, lots of squash. We spent lots of time working our garden and loved the vegetables and the gourds we got from it.

The far side of the lot dropped down to a fence row that separated our lot from a railroad track. Periodically a long noisy train would rumble up the track.

We planted three rows of pine trees on the hill down to the tracks. Eventually they would grow tall enough to reduce some of the train noise and a lot of the wind that blew up that hill.

It was a great place to raise our 4 daughters.

There was lots of wildlife on this lot. We got to see an occasional fox, wild turkey and even a few loose horses. We experienced black snakes and squirrels and lots of rabbits. Really, lots of rabbits.

However, there was one animal that we had far too many of. These were the ground hogs. The wooded area of the lot was filled with tunnels that the ground hogs made.  The ground was always soft and I was having a hard time getting grass to grow anywhere around that area.

Every spring a new group of baby ground hogs were born. At times it was cute to watch them frolic on the lot. However, the cuteness wore off pretty quickly. We had four daughters who loved to play in the woods; however they were afraid of the ground hogs. This made the front area of the lot less enjoyable for all of us.

We had a family dog that did not like other wildlife on our lot. Fortunately we had an invisible fence installed that kept the dog from the wooded area where the ground hogs were. However, periodically a ground hog would come up the hill towards the house and get into the area where our dog was.  I’m going to try to keep this story PG-13, so let me just tell you, once our dog caught a ground hog, regardless of the size, after a pretty tough fight and a lot of noise, it would be all over.  More often than not, there would be nothing left of that ground hog.

It seemed to me that ground hogs are not very smart, and they don’t learn from the mistakes of other ground hogs, because every summer this happened on a weekly basis. At one point we thought the dog needed to go on a diet. So we cut back on the dog food.  He didn’t need us to feed him anyway.

One Saturday afternoon we were playing out front. We were tossing around a Frisbee and having a good time.  A couple of times one of us would throw the Frisbee too hard and it would fall near the trees and one of the burrows where the ground hogs were.

I was charged with fetching the Frisbee because no one else would go near the ground hogs.  Each time I ran down to get the Frisbee I would pick up a rock out of the driveway and toss it at the ground hogs to chase them away. It didn’t work.  The rock would hit the ground near them and it didn’t faze them in the slightest. Dumb ground hogs.

My wife and our four daughters were having a great time running around, taking turns trying to catch the Frisbee and laughing at me each time I tossed a rock at the ground hogs.

With one mis-throw of the Frisbee our game came to an abrupt end. The Frisbee landed near one of the tunnel openings and a small ground hog came out of the hole and stood up on it’s back legs. I picked up a small rock and this time, with great deliberate aim, I tossed it as hard as I could directly at it’s little head.

BAM! – I hit the ground hog dead-center of it’s head.

It fell down and never moved again.

Everyone stopped and no one said a word.

I looked at my wife, her mouth was open. Both of us were astounded at the fact that I hit it this time and that it appears that I had killed it. Worse than all of that, I just killed one of God’s creatures in front of all four pre-teen daughters.

Then the questions started, “Dad is it dead?”, “Dad you killed it”, “Dad – why did you kill it?”, “DAD IS IT DEAD?”

Then from my wife – “TEDDY BURRISS – you killed it!”

Leave it to me to teach my daughters lots of life lessons, I’m generally proud of this. But, some lessons are hard to learn, and some are really not much fun to teach.

Afterwards I tried to cover up the death of the ground hog with a bogus statement, “It’s unconscious, I’ll put it down by the railroad tracks and it’ll wake up later.” I’m sure my daughters were smarter than this. I felt good trying though.

Boating Chaos # 1

This is story number 1 of 4 (as of now)

Boating Incident #1 – The first time I had any problems boating was the afternoon that my brother-in-law and I decided to go crabbing in a row boat with a motor.

We were vacationing outside of Ocean City MD near a small bay named Assawoman Bay. Please don’t ask me for the history of this bay. I have no idea how the name was chosen.

Link and I failed to achieve our goal of catching any crabs for dinner that night. Therefore we decided to head our little boat towards a marina next to the inlet. We were sure that a good cold beer would help us forget that we caught nothing.

Now, Link and I are educated and experienced men. We are however, not very knowledgeable regarding the times for low tide at Assawomen Bay, which empties into the great Atlantic Ocean with thunderous waves. As we motored towards the marina where our ice cold beers were sure to be, we realized that our little motorboat was zipping along at a pace we had not yet experienced. I mean, it was flying.

We were being sucked out to sea by low tide. We put our heads together and figured out that we needed to turn the boat around. As soon as we did this we realized that, even though we were at full throttle, we were still heading out to sea.

The tide was faster than the little Putt-Putt. We never thought about doom or death. We did however, strategize and decided to angle the boat in such a way that as the tide sucked us out toward the inlet, backwards, we were still heading towards the marina.

Our strategy worked and we celebrated our win over the tide & Ocean with a nice cold Coke. Unfortunately there was no beer at the marina.

There are at least two things we learned from this experience

1 – Never take a little motor boat out in a bay connected to the ocean

2 – Stay away from marinas that do not have beer.



Don’t Worry

When ever you feel that the day to day challenges have got you beat, remember, when all is said and done you only have 2 things to really worry about

If you have “good” health or “bad” health. If you have “good” health, you really have nothing to worry about.

If you have “bad” health, then you only have 2 things to worry about.

If you’re going to live or if you’re going to die. If you’re going to live, you really have nothing to worry about.

If you’re going to die, well, then you really only have 2 things to worry about.

If you’re going to heaven, or if you’re going to hell. If you’re going to heaven, you really have nothing to worry about.

But if you’re going to hell, well, then you’ll be spending so much time catching up with old friends, that you won’t have anything to worry about.

Remember, you only have 2 things to really worry about.

Happy Birthday GrandMa

GrandMa Eva Burriss was born on March 9, 1915. Today (3/9/2012) would be her 97th birthday. Normally we would have Cake and Ice Cream and maybe candles. But she is no longer with us.

She died on April 27, 1983.  I was 25 years old, married and had 1 daughter.

I remember she always had curly white hair.

She cooked everything with lard from a big tin bucket that she kept near the kitchen sink.

She lived in a big old farm house with my Grand Father.

She worked for the owners of the farm, cleaning their house.

She could cook, man that woman could cook.

Grandma Burriss died 2 days before my 25th anniversary.

Happy Birthday Grandma.


Remembering Uncle Wayne

This past Friday (1/13/2012) Rebecca and I drove to Maryland so that we could then spend 17 hours on Saturday riding from Poolesville Maryland to Burlington Iowa with her parents (Ray & Reva) and sister, Francie.

We laughed and joked and talked about life, death, family, friends, politics, religion, economics and the Internets. Never a dull moment during our non-stop trip and we arrived at our destination still friends.  A great road trip with good people.

However, the trip was for Uncle Wayne’s funeral in Burlington IA.  This was a trip none of us were excited about having to make.

We arrived in Burlington Saturday evening and were greeted by numerous other family members at the hotel. Turns out, the hotel was filled with friends and family of Emery Wayne Hoewing. We spent some time saying hello before calling it a night.

Sunday morning we met up with Rebecca’s oldest brother, Link and his wife, Frannie.  We traveled down to Keokuk Iowa with hopes of seeing Rebecca’s grandparents old homesteads.  It was a bittersweet trip.  One of the homes was completely gone and the other home was in complete disrepair.  We met up with more family members and had a good Midwest lunch at a place called OGO Family restaurant before heading back north to Burlington.

Late Sunday afternoon was the viewing where we met lots of distant family members. We spent a few hours here as over 100 people showed up to pay their respects to Uncle Wayne and the family.  It was a hard time for the family.

Afterwards a bunch of us went to a local restaurant to have our long sought after Midwestern Breaded Tenderloin dinner.

The evening ended with us meeting at the Hotel conference room. Thirty or so family members got together to tell Uncle Wayne stories and get to know each other better. We had a good time.  There was a story about Room 232, Mr. 232 and the girl who said she was going to meet me in room 232 and then didn’t.  Don’t ask.

Monday morning was the funeral.  It was a somber time for us all.  Numerous family members shared memories of Uncle Wayne.  I shared a story that I wrote titled “What Rewards have you Received.”

After the funeral we got together for a lunch provided by the Woman’s auxiliary of Uncle Wayne & Aunt Barbs church. Good people – thanks.

Afterwards we did something a little different.  We got together at Aunt Barb’s for a while, went to dinner at Gator’s and then went to the Casino.

Yes – a Casino. It was a good way to spend some time with Aunt Barb as she remembered her & Uncle Wayne’s experiences at the Casino.  Some of us lost a few dollars while a few of us won a couple hundred $$.  I did not win anything.

Tuesday Morning (5:30AM) – back on the road for an east bound trip back to Maryland. Another 17 hours on the road.  We stopped only for gas and grab & go food. Again we had a good time traveling together.

We got back to Poolesville by 10PM. A couple of hours relaxing from the road trip and then off to bed.

Finally, Wednesday morning Rebecca and I hopped into the Honda and headed south back to NC.

The entire trip was a fast paced and emotional.  We are all sorry that Uncle Wayne passed away. Yet we know that all of us are on the same journey which eventually includes death.  What’s important is to get the most from life and to give as much as you can while living. Uncle Wayne did this.  We participated in this ourselves while on this road trip.

Thanks Aunt Barb, Tina, Candi, Dean, Kyle, Ryan, Kayla, Allanah, Mary and everyone else for sharing the love and time with us.

Rest in peace Uncle Wayne as we keep your memory living on as we strive to be & do the best we can in life.

What rewards have you received

I have the privilege of attending a life celebration of a man who has accumulated great rewards during his journey thru life. It is these rewards that helped him to pass away peacefully and provided some comfort for his family.

His life journey has not been captured by ESPN, Travel Channel or Readers Digest.  The life he lived was not awe inspiring, death defying or miraculous. He did not collect a bunch of medals, awards, trophies or plaques from local dignitaries.

The rewards this man has accumulated are numerous and worth more than money, precious stones or gold.

The rewards this man has accumulated are real, yet he is able to take them with him to his grave.

The rewards this gentleman has accumulate thru his life can not be boxed up and put into storage.

The rewards this man has collected do not lay around the house needing regular dusting or shifting to make room for the next great reward.

The rewards this man accumulated are not listed on anyone’s bucket list. And, unlike a wrestlers trophy belt, these rewards can not be taken away by another.

You see, he passed away knowing that the rewards he accumulated are stored in the hearts of all those he touched through out his life.

His wife, his brother, his daughters and son-in-laws.  His grand children, his nieces and nephews, his neighbors and many others.

He knew these rewards existed.  Not that he could touch them or see their shiny chrome and jewels, but because he felt them from the support, help, compassion and care that many shared with him.

My last conversation with this man clearly told me he knew he had been bestowed these rewards.

As we sat in his home, laughing and talking into the night, he indirectly and repeatedly asked one question. To me, I could tell that he was not asking a question, but instead sharing with us that he knew of the rewards he had accumulated.

“I have a Great Family.” Each time he made this statement, in the form of a question. Yet, I could see in his eyes that he was making a statement, not asking a question.  He knew that his family was the main source of  his greatest reward in life.

He received this reward from his wife thru all that she did for him.

He received this reward from his daughters from all they did for him over the years and up unto the last moments of his life.

His son-in-laws and grandchildren bestowed this reward on him thru the tireless help, care and happiness they gave him freely.

He received this reward from the dog who stayed by his side thru his final days.

He received this reward from his brother in part thru the numerous compassionate conversations only brothers can share.

He was proud to receive this reward from his many friends and neighbors.

He knew that these rewards were real and for him to keep, because they were bestowed upon him with no strings attached.

Despite this man taking these rewards with him, they are still visible in the smiles, the tears, the laughter, stories and memories that he leaves behind with his family.

He has been bestowed these rewards because he cared, he gave, and he loved. He did not seek these rewards.

He received these rewards from many who participated in the life of the man who only sought to be, the best husband, father, brother, neighbor and friend a person can be.

For this, he received in return Love, the greatest of rewards.

Love is not a reward you seek, but one that is bestowed upon you when you give it freely.

This reward provides peace to those it is shared with when someone you love passes on.

Love, and you will receive the greatest of rewards.