It all started with this email I received last Friday. I was reluctant to open it but since I thought it might contain a link to a $100,000,000.00 from an offshore account, I did.
It contained something worth a whole lot more.
To My Long Lost "Favorite" Uncle
Where to begin?
Well I'll start by telling you a little about what is going on with me. I just became the father of a little girl Ellyette Josephine Nuckolls, born 2/13/09. Bought my first house in October 08, in the little town of Orting, WA.
I've been working as a union commercial electrician, until last Friday when I was laid off.
Which means that I am in a perfect situation to "Celebrate Life", and jump on a plane heading to sunny Palm Beach, Florida. My brother, Shawn has a place for the week of March 9th to the 16th.
I realize this is short notice, and since I don't know where you are located in the large state of Florida, I'll understand if you can't come visit. Although, I would be rather disappointed.
So if you can find the time come on down and Celebrate Life with the Nuckolls brothers once again. Anyway, whatever happens this next week I would still like to hear from you.
I received this email from my "ex-nephew", Eric, a week ago Friday.
What is an "ex-nephew"?
My daughter's Mom, to whom I am no longer married, has a large family, but not quite as large as the longrooffan. As we were together, either, as childhood friends, living together in sin, or as married adults, for over 25 years, I was a part of her geographically closest sibling's children growing up. I first met Eric when he was born. His older brother, Shawn, was one year old when I met him.
Eric is turning 30 this year, as Shawn turns 35. Their youngest brother, Daniel, is around 28. I last saw Shawn on my way to a race up in Wisconsin a decade or so ago but had not seen Eric in nearly 15 years.
Eric is the one with the Honest Abe beard to the right in the following image. Shawn is the Wise One, wearing that floppy skin covering hat to the left.
I contacted Eric and he had Shawn call me. Turns out Shawn had gotten a "guesthouse" at Frenchman's Reserve down in Palm Beach Gardens, about 220 miles south of the Taj Mahal and was taking his family and inlaws down for a weeklong vacation. Eric was coming out from Washington state to spend some time with his Boston based brother.
Both Eric and Shawn graciously invited me down to spend some time with them. I was honored and immediately accepted. I know those boys were excited to see me, but not nearly as excited as I was to see them.
I pulled up directions to the "guesthouse" and headed down that way Thursday morning, arriving around 10:45 am.
I pulled up to the address of that "guesthouse" and this is what I saw. I was thinking a small home to the rear of a larger residence, so I called Shawn to verify I was in the correct location and he comes walking out the front door of this 4,000 square foot, 5 bedroom, 5 1/2 bath "guesthouse".
Turns out Shawn works for Toll Brothers, a home building company, and they keep a number of these "guesthouses" around the country for the use of their employees. This one, complete with pool, spa, marble floors, granite countertops and 20 foot ceilings, overlooks a lake at the 15th fairway. It is sweet. I have built a ton of homes like this but have rarely spent the night in one.
The reason I had gotten up before dawn to head down to visit them? Well, part of the reason Shawn had gotten this house during this week is it is baseball Spring Training time down here in the Sunshine State. He and Eric, both St. Louis natives, had scored some tickets to the Cards/Boston Red Sox game starting at 1:05 that afternoon. Since we had bleacher seating, we needed to get there early enough to get some good seats.
Somehow or another, our plans changed and we headed for the front row seats along the first base to try and score some autographs from the Card players. Me, not really being an autograph kind of guy, I just watched the only John Deere impliment I know of that is not in either thehorsefarmer's or BBB's fleet do its stuff. At least that is what I thought at the time. As I am typing this blog up, I remembered Broke It Day.
So, as it turns out, the Cards ball players come out of the dugout just around the corner in the next image and fans line up down here to get some autographs.
Now Eric and Shawn had come to a game on Tuesday and were able to sit in these seats for the whole game and even managed to score Tony LaRussa's autograph.
I asked the Card's fan Nuckolls boys who this guy was. They didn't know and mentioned he was probably an invitee to spring training.
This pitcher is Chris Carpenter, the mainstay of the Cards pitching staff but he has still not totally recovered from shoulder surgery last season. Doesn't bode well for the Cards this year.
These dudes are just out there warming up. Our bleacher seats are just beyond and face the western sky. It is going to be a hot afternoon.
An interesting fact about this stadium. the Kid has an Uncle on thesungoddess's side of the family who used to play for the New York Mets and the Mets utilized this facility for their spring training at the time. the Kid, while a diehard Cards fan, got to spend some time in the dugout with the Mets at one of those games.
That is Tony LaRussa with his arms crossed in the following image.
We had originally planned on spending some time in the shade of this facility but it was closed for a private party for National City bank. The dude serving as guard for the entry was extremely diligent at his job and we were unable to slide by earlier.
So we are sitting down in the "front row" at a sold out game and just biding our time until the owners of those seats show up and we have to move again. I remember doing this with these boys at Busch Stadium when they were kids. We always seemed to luck out into some pretty good seats back in the day.
No such luck this day. I looked over at our bleacher seats and the bleachers are packed. We just stood in the "Standing Room Only" portion of the walkway for a while.
Suddenly Eric pops up with, "Hey Shawn, remember the back staircase to that pavillion we found on Tuesday? I just saw two guys go in and they are now up there. Let's go"
And we did.
And this is the view we had from that perch. Great view of field and a cute brunette. .
As we didn't have the required wristbands, we kept a low profile down away from all the goings on. The boys finished up their $6.50 beers and I thought we would head back out into the general public and replenish them.
Well, apparently, some of the olelongrooffan has rubbed off on them. Eric decides he is going up to the bar on the other end of the pavillion and see what the story was on the beer they were hawking down there.
He comes walking back, solemn faced and announced, "Boys, the beers are free." Thanks National City Bank. We stayed there from the top of the second inning on.
Around the bottom of the seventh inning, Shawn decided to head over to that free food bar and get a pulled pork sandwich for himself and a burger for Eric while Eric went for what turned out to be an afternoon long cumulative 12 pack of that St. Louis based beverage thejeepjunkie enjoys so much.
While they were gone, I heard a National City badged woman walk up to a couple guys not far from me and was checking their wristbands.
Well Counters, the fun and free beer train has reached the station. Eric walks up with four beers and I told him to get his brother and get the h*ll out of here. He finds Shawn over at the food bar and we all beat it down to the picnic tables situated out in the hot sun. I suggested we move it over into the shade of the landscape buffer situated just outside the perimeter fence of that complex.
We all enjoyed a bit of rest and those boys consumed those sandwiches, all the while trading stories. Both Eric and Shawn related, much like the Kid did at the end of this blog, when they were growing up, every time we did something together, we had fun.
There is nothing better than having a nephew tell his Uncle he always has fun with him. Well, boys, all of you, the same is true on this end also.
As we were sitting there chewing the fat, Shawn pointed out all of the fans exiting the stadium as it was the middle of the 8th inning.
And he also pointed out, there are some empty seats, let's go.
And, guess what?
And ended up in the third row, just above the Cards dugout.
And we got to watch the final inning and a half of Cards/Red Sox baseball.
And the Red Sox were up 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning as I was taking these images.
And the reason I included the blurry image below?
Well, that dude stepped up to the plate and hit a two run homer over the left field fence,
to win the game.
And, joyously, at least for us, make a helluva fantastic ending to a great afternoon. Thanks again, National City, for the $78 worth of the Wise One and Honest Abe's favorite beverage and for $22 worth of sandwiches. And, oh yeah, my $4.00 Dr. Pepper.
So while there, I scored a Cards quilt to sell on ebay, yeah my life these days, job hunt, ebay and blog, plus I get to drive on the beach once in a while, anyway, Shawn and Eric gave me a ration about how that thing isn't worth anything and I was barking up the wrong tree.
So, after watching the victorious Cards play ball, and picking up some hurricane supplies, we headed back to the "guesthouse". Shawn's family had gone up to the clubhouse to spend some time with his two toddlers, grandparents, and mom at the kiddie pool there. We boys had an hour or so of just fun times.
I had been asked to spend the night in one of the unoccupied bedrooms there and did so, after a very satisfying meal grilled by Shawn and cooked up by the womenfolk. Eric and I did the dishes, by the way.
Friday morning, I dropped Shawn and Eric off at their golf cart so they could hack their way around that high-faluting golf course. I politely declined their invite to join them and got on my way.
As I was cruising down around that morning, I recognized the fact that I was not nearly as cold as I was on the drive down. On that early morning drive to see those two, no longer, nephews, but now friends, I had my ragtop quilt around my legs, an ultra cheap Daytona Prototype windbreaker and winter gloves on while I hotfooted it down I-95 toward those boys.
I remembered the front of the Kid's CJ5 now sports a St. Louis Cards license plate, similar to the one I have hanging on the wall at the Taj Mahal. So I decided to prove Eric and Shawn correct and backed out of putting that Cards quilt on ebay.
It is now in the possession of the Kid and in a ziploc bag in the built in tool box under the passenger seat of that ole CJ5. In the most remote way, and while they may never meet, those nephews of mine are interconnected.
Well, Shawn and Eric, it was great to see you two and glad to note you have grown into fantastic young men.
I am honored and it is situations like this that allow all of us to
Special Thanks to thehorsefarmer.