#71 – Paving the Way

Yesterday, Sophia showed me another letter her father received from our Homeowners’ Association. It seems an unidentified neighbor had complained about “some new architectural elements” installed in Vito’s backyard. The Association’s communiqué informed him – in a not so friendly fashion – that all outdoor improvements to his property were supposed to be approved by the Architectural Design Committee, in advance. As the notice further stated, in the event Vito failed to submit an application for approval within seven days, severe penalties would follow.

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#85 – Children Beware

I’m in trouble with my wife’s family again. Typically, the problem arose from my interaction with a child. I don’t understand why I’m to blame though, when Sophia’s siblings are the ones who allow me to speak with their kids. As even I know, parents commonly tell their offspring not to talk to strangers. If Sophia’s family would simply add “or Uncle Richard” to that warning, I’m sure we’d all be a lot happier.

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#120 – The Feast of St. Prometheus

“Prometheus” sounds like an awful big name for a little dog who just got his balls removed. I took him to the vet for neutering on Wednesday and picked him up yesterday morning. On the trip out, the unwitting pooch happily wagged his nubbin as we passed his friend, Tootles, playing in his yard. The scene reminded me of the classic “Far Side” cartoon, where a dog mocks his canine pal by telling him: “Ha ha ha, Biff. Guess What? After we go to the drugstore and the post office, I’m going to the vet’s to get tutored.”

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#135 – Swinging in the Breeze

Why is every interaction with my wife’s family a lose-lose proposition? The latest fiasco began two months ago, when Sophia assigned me the hopeless task of obtaining HOA approval for her father’s backyard “land of concrete.” To everyone’s surprise, except mine, the Architectural Design Committee rejected Vito’s after-the-fact application for the concrete, stone and cinder block improvements spanning his property. The Committee directed him to remove all the offending items and replace them with sod posthaste.

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#169 – Unhappy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving at the in-laws’ house yesterday proceeded exactly as expected, which is to say “badly.” The Mrs. insists I should be happy merely because, for once, none of her family members clamored to disown me. I may’ve been thinking I should be so lucky, but I diplomatically limited my response to: “Small consolation for ruining one of my favorite holidays.”

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#199 – The Miracle of Christmas

I’m beginning to think there’s something to this whole Christmas miracle thing. At least, I have no better explanation for the affection I received from Sophia’s family this morning. Along with Prometheus, we traveled bright and early to my in-laws’ house for the annual exchange of Christmas gifts. Knowing Sophia’s family tolerates me like a recurring case of herpes, I’d pulled out all the stops in this year’s shopping. And my extra effort paid off!

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