Cool things that happened on my birthday:
  1. I woke up still full from the sushi binge the night before. Even my coffee was finding it hard to find room;
  2. My wife was awake a full hour before she remembered it was my birthday. I have to admit her Diet Coke was a little flat so she had an excuse;
  3. My daughter traveled by train from Venice, Italy to Austria for the week. Hey! Whose birthday is this?
  4. My office gave me a cake and a card at noon which meant I was able to eat my dessert before my lunch which is a very birthday thing to do;
  5. I received many three word greetings via Facebook;
  6. My brother celebrated my big day by getting a colonoscopy;
  7. All but one of the birthday cards I received had chimps on them. I have no idea what that means or what people are trying to tell me but my kids suggested it has something to do with the ears;
  8. Both of my sons sent me the same text message: “Happy Birthday, old man.” (Although I doubt there was punctuation or any capital letters in the actual text messages);
  9. My youngest son hand wrote me a birthday card with a green marker that I was able to decipher without much help. And it was very sweet (if I can say that about a 17 year old);
  10. My family gave me a new grill for my birthday and my oldest son put it together for me. And he let me watch;
  11. My wife cooked my favorite meal for all of us tonight: Mexican steak and rice with green chiles and jack cheese. She had to learn how to cook that from my mom before I agreed to marry her;
  12. My parents called and sang the traditional birthday song but this year it was peppy and the ending had a nice two-part harmony. If I feel old they must really feel old;
  13. We ended the night with razzleberry pie a la mode. I anticipate being full when I wake up tomorrow morning;
  14. And just like every year, as I looked at myself in the mirror while brushing my teeth, I promised I would start exercising again. Tomorrow.


Random Fridayness

All words and images ©2008/J. Colle



I, William Jacob Colle III, having witnessed yet another gridiron performance by my alleged “home team,” and having found it to be wretched, and, during which, was reminded of the many emotional assaults I have subjected myself to in previous years—and yea, they were many—has made a judgment and do proclaim it publicly.

I will hereby not willingly or knowingly subject myself for an extended period of time to the extensive planning for and participation in watching football games of the aforementioned “home team.” Weekend--and occasional Thursday night--activities will now consist of reading, writing and spending copious amounts of time with my life partner until she deems it annoying and necessary to have her own space to which I shall respond by going for a walk. Or I shall participate in a ride on a two wheeled transport, enjoying glorious autumn temperatures and smells. Or I shall sit on my porch and burn a non-inhalable dowel-like object and relish the peace I feel in my spirit. My options in regard to activities are limitless but, despite the activity in which I am engaged, I shall not watch “the game.” Any and all communication with me during the gridiron engagement will be greeted with a grunt, if greeted at all. Thus say I. Thus may it be.

Proclaimed this day, twenty-five September, the year of our Lord, two-thousand oh-eight.


Wednesday Sketchy Sketchbook Sketch of the Day

Submitted without comment. Discuss amongst yourselves...

All words and images ©2008/J. Colle


Speaking of Transitions...

Funerals are strange events. There are so many traditional aspects of it that are accepted practices, regardless if they make sense or not. Between the viewing, funeral arrangements, programs, flowers and lots of food, the whole few days are an orchestrated dance of customs and awkwardness. I understand the need to work through grief and providing a waiting period after the death and before burial seems to help that process. Evelyn’s funeral was very nice and seemed to provide some closure for most everyone who attended. It was a success.

Living through the last few days I have had ample opportunity to think about my own funeral and how I would like to see it transpire. What I came up with is most assuredly illegal but I can dream and plan without getting arrested. I would like a good old-fashioned Viking funeral. The ceremony would take place at dusk and everyone would gather on the side of a lake. Pile a raft with dead, dry tree limbs and then strap my body on top of it. Ring the outside edge of the raft with buckets of gasoline and then shove me out from the edges of the lake. Then, with everyone on the bank singing a song--something upbeat, not a dirge--signal the hired archer to send the first flaming arrow toward the raft and set the whole thing on fire (hopefully within a couple of shots). Visually, it would be stunning and quite memorable. Granted, there are a lot of details that would have to be worked out but it seems like such a grand way to exit the planet. Now I just need to live the rest of my days like a Viking so I can earn that sendoff. I hope it is not too late.


Today was my mother-in-law's funeral. It was not only the culmination of a long and fruitful life but it was also the end of a grueling season of “caregiver” for my wife. Okay, grueling is an unfair descriptor. The last week was grueling but the months before that were tiring, yes, but also a great time for my wife to show her mom how much she loved her by taking care of her as her health declined. She did a masterful job and I am very proud of her. She showed everyone around the situation (and there were many) exactly how it is supposed to be done. I hope my kids were paying attention.

I was asked to speak at the funeral, to provide the eulogy, and, in the spirit of the political environment we are wallowing in, I am providing my transcript in its entirety below.

I’d like to thank you all for coming out today. It is a great testament to the person Evelyn was that so many of you are participating in the celebration of her life. I am speaking today because Evelyn asked me to. She had this whole service planned a long time ago which should not be surprise to anyone that knew her well.

I entered this family over 26 years ago and was loved from day one. Initially, Evelyn was excited because my dad was a Baptist minister which meant Hope was marrying a preacher’s son. She eventually came to love me for different reasons but, even at the end, she claimed her favorite picture of me was when I was sporting some serious poofed-up evangelist hair.

Even though I was a late comer into the fold, I still have my share of stories.

She spent an entire Sunday morning introducing me to her home church as “Hope’s fiance, Ray.”

She cooked one of the best Sunday dinners on the planet and never again having her dressing on Thanksgiving could very well leave a permanent void in my life.

She was always the most stylish woman in the room. I never saw her dressed down--she could even make a warm-up suit look classy. When she got to the point where she needed to start using a cane she had me look on-line and find some fancy ones she could use.

She had a weakness for one particular television show. Unfortunately it was a show that never ended, a continuous feed, 24/7--QVC. Her addiction made for some interesting Christmas and birthday gifts. I regret I never was able to get the combination pedometer/dictation machine to work correctly.

And the woman was social. I don’t know that I have ever met someone who enjoyed the company of other people more than Evelyn. It wasn’t ever out of desperation or a fear of being by herself--she genuinely loved hanging out, laughing, playing cards, eating with her friends. She was always either hosting or going to a gathering.

And I am happy to announce to all in attendance that she is currently partying like never before. And she was more ready for this party than any other party in her life. Really, it is an understatement that she was ready. My dad, currently a chaplain with Hospice, has often told me that you can judge a persons emotional health by the way they deal with death. Anyone that visited Evelyn in the last few months of her life knew she handled it well. She was ready, assured of her destination and was impatient to get to that final party.

I can see her know, laughing, wearing a hat, bracelets jangling, working about 15 Bingo cards and waiting for Bill Gaither to join her so she can sing in his choir. And I am glad she will have an eternity in heaven. She has a lot of people to meet.

May God bless you all...

(Check out some pictures from the weekend at my Flikr site, linked on the right side bar)



When I heard about the apparent suicide of David Foster Wallace this weekend I had an interesting reaction. Actually, I had several interesting reactions which were a bit surprising since I did not know the man personally; I had just read his books. I was sad because suicide is sad, regardless of who commits the act. I cannot fathom the depths of despair and internal torture that would drive someone to end their life and I won’t try. But I will be sad for his wife and the students he taught and for the people that enjoyed reading his words because there will be no more forthcoming. I enjoyed DFW’s work but I admit they were a chore to get through. You had to commit to his stories and I'll admit my admiration probably was more for his giant brain and gift with words than for any great pleasure from spending time with his stories. I never finished “Infinite Jest” (and I have a feeling I am not alone) but one of the funniest things I ever read was the chronicle of his cruise in “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments.” He was obviously very smart and had an incredible vocabulary and a lot of times that got in his way. Basically, he was Michael Chabon without any restraint. It’s sad that the brightest stars burn out sooner rather than later. (There is that word again—sad.)

I also had a flash of pain for an indirectly related reason. The person that introduced me to the work of David Foster Wallace was my friend Blaine. The chapter of my life that starred Blaine could be a novel all its own, a story that included genuine love and friendship that ended in a bizarre, “can’t-explain-it-so-I-just-have-to-accept-it” fashion. That story could be told, but not today. Maybe some other time; maybe not. Odd how sad drags up sad…


Menthol Catheter

I know I forwarded this link to everyone that (probably) reads this blog but if you haven't checked it out, please go visit this Web site: nolaf.org. It is by Frito Lay (don't let that dissuade you) and it is one of the best things I have seen on the internet in a long time. Do yourself a favor and go through the entire site. Only when you get to the Boardroom will you understand the title to this post. Enjoy...


Random Ramblings on Story

This election season has provided the people of the United States (and dare I say the world?) with a unique opportunity. Regardless of your political persuasion, all four of the people running for the highest office in the country have really fascinating life stories. Joe Biden lost his wife and year old daughter in a car wreck (and almost lost his two sons as well) in the early 70’s and was a Senator and single dad for five years before remarrying. Sarah Palin is a mother of five who started her political career in the PTA of her kid’s school and is now Governor of Alaska. Barak Obama was raised by a single mom and grandparents and pulled himself up from having nothing (materially) to Illinois Senator and then U.S Senator. John McCain was a P.O.W. in Vietnam for five years and a U.S. Senator since 1986. And that is just a skim of the surface; the many layers for each of them are fascinating and give plenty of indications why they are where they are today and who they are while they walk it out.

Reading their stories is a great reminder that every person on the planet has their own tale to tell. Some may blow it off as boring but that is impossible. From birth to the present every single one of us is living out our own original, unique journey and it cannot help but be fascinating. And to take it a mystical step deeper, we are all influenced by the people around us living out their specific life and the times we intersect have a tendency to knock us around a bit. Sometimes the bumps cause us to veer this way or zig that way, never really off course, but possibly heading a direction we did not expect. Why do people always say, “If you’d of told me five (or ten or twenty or two) years ago that I would be (fill in the blank), I would have never believed you.” We say it because our lives are mysterious and hard to predict, a fact we can either embrace or struggle with. It is why I like to sit in the mall or in traffic and look at people and wonder about their story.

All these people. All these stories. And not many of us taking time to listen. So next time you are hanging out with someone you don’t know (or that you do know) look them in the eye and ask, “What’s your story?” And listen.



When my daughter was born over 20 years ago, I had some very specific prayers for her. I wanted her to be secure in her faith, secure in herself and to never lack anything from me, her father, which would cause her to seek it from someone else. As God planned it, she ended up the only female child set between two males, and her journey to adulthood has been more than fascinating to watch unfold. And God answered my prayers in a fashion that I could not have imagined. (Funny how that happens more often than not.) She is strong, confident and, as a bonus, beautiful (which wasn’t specifically prayed for but was no doubt subconsciously implied). In a logical extension of her development as a human, this past week my wife and I drove her to the airport in Atlanta so she could fly to Italy and begin an internship with an extension campus of Calvary Chapel Bible College, her alma mater. She will be in Montebelluna, near Venice, for several months, assisting the female students at the school, making herself available in whatever areas she is needed—physically as well as spiritually. I say all of this because a) I am quite proud of her and b) it is another step on the inevitable path toward her independence. You might be saying to yourself that she already sounds pretty independent and truer words have not been thought (or muttered if you happen to think out loud). What I am referring to is encased in undiluted selfishness: her independence from me. I know that there will always be a bond between us, that is the way of fathers and daughters, but I am incredibly sensitive to the dynamics of age and transitioning relationships, especially this year. With Hope’s mom in failing health, our youngest child a senior in high school, daughter leaving the country, oldest son chomping at the bit to make his own way, I am faced with examples of the flow of life every day. And it is both dazzling and numbing.

Much has been written about these types of transitions, countless books and articles by wordsmiths that put me to shame, but until you are here, living it out, it comes across as white noise, pretty words for someone else. I am here to tell you that it is real and I currently have so many windows snapping shut around me I am keeping my hands in my pockets for fear of losing a finger. So bear with me as I transition to “the Lord knows what” (and, thankfully, He does know) and occasionally use this forum to work through my angst and confusion. Blogger is so much cheaper than a therapist. And if I keep my fingers intact I should be able to pry open some new windows as they avail themselves, as they inevitably will.

BTW: You can follow my daughter’s newest journey and interesting life through her blog. I make stuff up, she doesn’t have to.


Truth in Advertising

I notice that a frequent ad under my clocks widget here on Blogger is about getting a flat stomach. I will try to withhold judgment on the power of Google but they are really starting to scare me...



I will admit that this entry is being offered as some form of digital chum until I can get back on a regular schedule for posting. The last few days have been busier than normal (preparing and shipping off your only daughter to a foreign country tends to occupy more than one faculty; she did not deserve a multi-tasking dad over the weekend) so my time has been squeezed. I have started several entries but now need to finish them. (I know, the world does not need any more people who cannot finish; I'm working on it.) Until I get there, here is another old sketchbook doodle, again from my earlier stint with the state. And this sentiment is one of the few that has not changed one iota.