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The entire day was stunning: mild temps, sunshine, low humidity. Perfect. I spent the morning reading (“On Writing ~ A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King) while my in-laws took my young daughter to church. It’s rare that I have any peaceful time to enjoy such luxuries. My wife and I then went off to do some light shopping at the nearby Walmart, and got de fresh peaches and corn from a small farmers market. The whole day felt relaxing, which is something I have not felt here in years. Usually we invite three kids from our family as guests (a nephew, a niece, and their younger half brother). At the end of those stints, we can’t wait to get the Fuck outta there – we go home feeling more spent than when we arrived. What’s the point, right? The kids…it’s about them. Well, this year, it’s the adults turn to relax, and we are. With the exception of my three-year-old having a throw down grande mall tantrum in the middle of town (because she wanted soda pop over the fruit juice we got her instead), everything was great today. I stepped out for my night walk at around nine tonight, and here I sit in the same comfy wicker chair on my iPhone posting to my blog (the enclosed promenade of the Hotel Lakeside is wonderful, and they have a decent Wi-Fi hub for me to use). Tomorrow, we’re planning on getting into the lake; should be a hot one.

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Vacation at long last! We decided to stick with a known and trusted venue –Lakeside. The day leading up to our departure proceeded as planned. I had to finish up some client artwork (a gumpaste cake topper of the bride and groom in a victory pose, holding two small white poodles on leashes). The one detail that sucked buffalo balls was the ultimate fighting cage built up around them. Structurally…not much to it (dowel rods hot-melt glued together then covered in thin sheets of rolled gumpaste). The motherfucker was the chainlink femcing…OUT OF ICING. But I did it. Then my wife and I delivered a wedding cake to Cleveland — it turned out beautifully (the Mrs. is a pro). From there, it was off to Lakeside. The drive out was pleasant…I gave her a one-handed shoulder massage while she drove. Our daughter came down earlier with her grandparents,andwas waiting for us at the cottage. She did an adorable happy dance one we arrived. We all went to dinner together; I had some Lake Erie perch…mmm! Then we all went back to the cottage for some Harry Potter on DVD. At around 9:45 pm, the wife and I decided it was time to get our young one to bed. We both read her a couple stories, and she started to go down. Then she needed to go potty — by herself, of course. Moments later, we heard an enormous CRACK! My daughter was in the bent over position pulling up her diaper when she caught her head on the corner of the bathroom sink. We all rushed in…she was crying. We were lucky. No blood…nothing but a minor goose egg. She and Mommy went off to bed, and I for a walk through the comforting tar of night. I ended up at the Hotel Lakeside, facing the lake. A few pleasant souls breeze by me as I sit on the grande screened in porch/promenade. Everything else is crickets. I love it here.

When I heard Stephen King’s book (On Writing) was going to be re-released for a 10th anniversary edition, I had to get it. A whole decade passed by fleetingly. Unbelievable. So far, as with any other King book, I simply can’t put it down. The anticipation of his next chapters haunt me all day. What a phenominal artist he is. Brutally honest, helpful, no-nonsense, self-depricating. I love his style. Anyone who aspires to be a serious writer needs to have a dog eared, yellowed and worn copy in their personal libraries as reference and inspiration.

Increasingly these days, I feel as though people are changing. And not in any positive way. Ignoragce, blind hatred, fear mongering, and a total absence of reason or intellectual curiosity are on the rise. The champions of this devolutionary movement appear to be th so-called “tea party” folk. Ironically enough, this demographic isn’t who I originally would expect. Instead of boasting a membership roster of disenfranchised youths, it is comprised mostly of Baby Boomers. You know…the children of WWII vets. You would have thought this generation was a little sharper. I certainly was surprised to see images of our current president sharing billboard comparisons with Hitler. Do the minds behind such messages truly understand? Do they grasp the enormity…the terrible destruction of lives…the horrific price paid and the unflinching lessons hard learned by those men, women and children directly involved? No. If they did, anti-Amreican shit like this would even be beneath them. But they flaunt it…twist and distort it…repackage it…and abandon the truth completely in favor of blatant lies or fabrication. The old wisdom of ‘do not forget, or history will repeat itself’ seems more an inevitability than a distant, cautionary nugget. Frankly, as a father…a husband…a human being…as an American, it scares the shit out of me. Because if the first two World Wars weren’t enough…if we collectively played hookey from that heavy lesson…perhaps the next class will strive harder to regain our attention. Wasn’t the loss of tens of millions of men, women and children enough to get the point across? If not, then something even more horrific will. Some religious kooks are banking on it — they hope to be whisked away by Jesus off to heaven during a fairytale called The Rapture. And they are all too willing for humanity to do itself in in order to facilitate that belief. What kind of fuck-head would buy into this insanity? Millions, actually. My own countrymen and women scaree more than the threat of foreign terrorism. Why worry about attacks from afar when we are quite willing and able to do the job on ourselves?

Fuckin’ nuts, we are.

These creeps are the same blind zealots who pay loads of money to pepper our hethen landscape with inane pro-Jesus billboards (with important messages like “Why did they take the Christ out of Christmas. ~ Jesus”, rather than practice His true ministry (which I believe was to glorify Him through good deeds towards our fellow human beings and the Earth around us…like spending that money on the starving homeless instead of mega churches and billboard ads…but that’s just me.)

It was on a bright and sunny July afternoon in 2005 that my then fiancée agreed to spend her life with me – and I vowed the same to her. It’s been five years now, and I marvel at what we’ve accomplished together. In 2005, my wife decidede to chase after her dream of becoming a business owner of the future premiere specialty cake shop in our area. I have supported her and those dreams from day one. Now, five years on, she has made a name for herself in the cake biz – I am so very proud of her. She started this all while pregnant with our now beautiful 3 year old daughter, and is a fabulous mother to her. She has stuck by me and my many personal battles – some medical…some psychological. We have come to the brink of divorce and back, and have seen one another through some truly dark times – together. If the first five have been this packed, I can only imagine the life lessons we have in store for us. One thing is for certain…I thank God every day that I found my wife. Without her, I’m lost.

For a while there, my creative juices were backed up.  I went months without committing a single letter to anything worthwhile.  Instead, I focused on trying to be the best cake decorator I could be.  One discipline was thriving at the expense of the other.  Well… I have made the conscious decision to start working on screenplays again.  It’s slow-going, but I feel a rekindled joy that hasn’t been present for a long time.  Sure, most of the crafting takes place in the wee-hours of the morning, when I’m not exactly firing on all cylinders.  But if I don’t force myself – even if I’m tired – then I risk not writing at all.

Better to write and loose than to never write at all.  The script I’m currently developing is based on personal experience – supporting my wife in her dream to become a successful business owner/cake diva.  It has been a funny, fascinating, and oftentimes bizarre journey for both of us (perfect fodder for a comedy/drama).  We’ll see what becomes of it.

In any event, it just feels good to be writing again.  I’ve also started keeping a sketchbook as well.  Late night, when I find myself channel-surfing, I’ll find a movie (usually from TCM or AMC) with an interesting face, pause it (love DVR service!) and draw.  My goal is to actually FILL and FINISH a sketchbook… something I’ve never done in my 38+ years.

Creativity is a funny beast; feed it too much, and it may turn to consume you… starve it, and it may go away for good.

Since late winter, I have started the practice of maintaining a “SH*T LIST”.  It hangs on a distant wall in my creative workspace.  I’ve never really been one to hold onto long-term grudges, but for some reason there are a select few who deserve to be banned from any future interaction.

It is no secret that my wife and I started up a specialty cake bakery five years ago this coming fall.  I cannot begin to describe the emotional rollercoaster ride we have endured, nor the amount of literal blood, sweat and tears we have both sacrificed to get where we are now.  The road we travel is not an easy one, but it sure is rewarding 99.9% of the time.  It’s the other .1% of that road which occasionally trips us.

Yesterday, while my wife and I were out delivering wedding cakes together, our staff (at the shop) received a nasty phone call from one of our ‘customers’.  This woman went on a psychotic diatribe, accusing us of not only making inferior, ugly cakes, but of upsetting her husband and disappointing her child to the point of tears!  The woman went on to say that in the three cakes she has ordered from us, NONE of them were agreeable – in fact, she hated each and every one.  WTF…?

When my wife and I returned to the shop, a staffer told us the bad news (customer complaints are always taken seriously and investigated thoroughly by us).  The staffer told us that contrary to what the woman stated over the phone, the husband and daughter were present at our shop… saw the cake… LOVED IT… and were not irate or driven to tears over it.  Again, WTF…?

The more I heard, the more I came to my own inner conclusion – this woman was either psychotic, or she was concocting bald-faced lies in order to guilt us into providing her with a full refund… in essence, a cake for free.  My gut chose the latter, and I became pissed.  Where do these a-holes get off lying about something beautiful… something perfectly good and delicious… in order to steal from us?  Have they no shame? 

The further we probed the allegations, the more they disintegrated before our eyes.  This woman was kind of pathetic, actually; someone so incredibly cheap and without scruples as to fabricate an elaborate falsehood to guilt us into giving her freebies.  My wife and I are not made of money.  In fact, we live a very modest, Spartan lifestyle… pouring all of our limited resources into this dream of ours.  For someone to come along and try to steal from us on the basis of a lie is unforgivable.

We cross-checked our references, and got a complete character assessment about this woman from people who know her.  They reinforced my original suspicion – she was simply being an unscrupulous bitch.  Now, my “SH*T LIST” has a new name… number three.

The names on my list will NEVER get a cake from my shop again.  I do not want to deal with them.  They have, in essence, stolen food from my daughter’s plate and offended the honor and dignity of our business (and good name) for no other reason other than some petty need to lie, cheat and steal.

If you want a cake from us lady… you will find our shop unable to accommodate your needs.  Take your sorry ass to Giant Eagle for one of their frozen, artificial ‘cakes’ for all I care… you don’t deserve one of ours.

No cake for you.