Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My Final Blog

     And so it ends, this 3.5 year hemorrhage of words on my thoughts, deeds, relationships and recollections.  

      The title itself is a misnomer as it really isn't my last blog.  It will be the last one that I post to this site, but I do plan on writing a little more and compiling a collection of my favorites into a self published book tentatively entitled "Caramelized Ongion".  I envision 6 or 7 chapters with the
broad stroke titles of Faith, Family, Friends, Food, Fun and Finance.  I should be able to include my favorites under those titles or I'll make a catch-all for those that don't fit. I anticipate a one time printing of a few hundred copies, retailing for $20,  that I'll hawk to my family, friends, co-workers and fans of the blog.  I'll spend this year compiling, editing and writing and expect a late 2014 publishing date. A close family member has already agreed to do the editing, but I've given strict instructions to not touch the commas.   I received a very special gift this week from my sister Wilson that I will include in the book, and it was her blog entry of my brother Redface's life, a blog that I could just never write, and now I know why, because there was a person out there who could write it better. It will be included in the book.

     Endings are tough and as the guy most likely to be the last to leave the party, I'm not sure saying goodbye is a strong suit of mine, but I know the time is right.  I've faithfully given you 182 unique blogs over 3 and a half years.  I took 4 weeks off by re-posting some favorites, but since I gave you a 
few extras in there too, I'm finishing all caught up with exactly the right number for that time period.  I'm pretty proud of that.  I was assisted by 5 guest bloggers over that time too, and I thought each of their efforts well worthy of inclusion in both the blog and the book.  I've built a loyal fan base of a few hundred readers and many hundreds more who drop in and read a blog when they see a title that interests them.  This week, this blog entry will generate the site's 100,000th hit, and that's a good number to go out on.  For my loyal fans, I suspect that Tuesdays are now, and for a long time after, will be, associated with Blog Day!  I'll candidly admit on those mornings that I would publish a little late, the Facebook comments, the texts and hits to the site anticipating that week's post were especially flattering. An average blog took between 2-4 hours of pondering, writing, rewriting and scouring the internet and my computer files for the right pictures, not to mention the hundreds of hours that I spent in bars
I'll have another glass of research, please.
trying out my new material or meeting those special people that I introduced you too, and I offered it up for free (technically the site has a value of a little over $2,000 right now, but if you do the math, I would have made much more money putting those hours into saying "You want fries with that?") You'll notice that I didn't say editing, because early on, my wife edited all my blogs for me, but then, with my travel, and the early posting time, it became too difficult to coordinate, so I started to self-edit... poorly.  Some mornings, my sister Wilson would call or text me to let me know the blog would be missing whole sections in it (most people would not have recognized it from my regular dis-jointed writing style).  The blogging platform had that issue, so I'd have to copy the whole blog just before posting, in case it was truncated. This blogging  project inadvertently gave me a 3 and one half year record of my writing and editing ability, or lack thereof.  I can see my wife, in the
future, consulting with a doctor who asks "When did Bill start losing his mental faculties?", to which she'll reply, "I have his book, right here" (Think of the later journal entries in Flowers for Algernon here).  In any case, I gave you the best that I had to offer, each week, and you saw it, warts and all, and yet, you came back each week, and for that, I thank you.

     So, to review, where did I take you during this journey?   We went together to Boston, China, Halifax NS, Canandaigua and Hall NY, Ottawa and London Ontario, Phoenix and Sedona Arizona, Cancun Mexico, Rochester's South Wedge, and to the insides of countless small hotel rooms.  We traveled back in time to Roseland Park, Evan's Field, St. Mary's Catholic Church and School, Sonnenberg Park, Cdga Academy, to my childhood home on Fort Hill Avenue, to a Broadway stage at the old Studio 54 and to a high hill in a shopping cart.   You met my first crush, my first foe, my first car and my first boss, all of my siblings, my 3 children, my parents, my girlfriend, my cousins, my friend Frank, the organ recipient in Philly, the nameless girl at LaGuardia Airport, the stranger on my Facebook, the clothing lady with the one shoe story, the guy who stole my Christmas tree, my Boy Scout Troop, my wife's Girl Scout Troop, my
My first boss, Papa Frank
friend Eileen, my cat Nibbler, my dog Barney, a friend in need at Wally's Pub, and of course, my beautiful wife.  You had a front row view of Yarger events like eating at our dining room table, camping vacations, my sister Meter Maid's pig roasts, graduations and birthdays, our progressive dinner, our Christmas celebrations, our corn roasts, our mens shopping night, our family reunions, some family weddings and funerals and, of course, the Yarger Memorial Golf Tournament.  If I've had one comment repeated more than any other, it's been how much people would love to be part of our family, and trust me, I know how blessed I am.  I loved revisiting the classic family stories like the red jeans, pogi-ing behind cars in winter, things in my mother's purse, running away from home, Turkey Cake, and of course, the
Most of my siblings
flaming deodorant story.  I hoped that I've started some in my own family too, like awesome 26 cents, our imaginary house guests, the "I'm Sorry, But" jar, my best magic trick, and of course Skittle Pancakes.  Speaking of food, I've taught you how to make Uncle Bill's Clam Chowder, Nolan's Armadillo Eggs, Dan's beef brisket, a shark-shaped watermelon fruit salad, pure maple syrup, roast pork, dad's famous grilled cheese hot dogs, roasted corn and steamed lobster.  I've done my best to feed your souls with heartwarming and inspiring stories, and to feed your bellies with delicious treats.  Finally I attempted to tickle your funny bone with my unique takes on life,  a Schoolhouse Rock parody, my reputation as a hard partying uncle, squash season, and a few on my wife hiding my stuff, the Dixie cups and one of my favorites about her dimpled rear end... of her minivan.  This seems like a good spot to end this paragraph.

     So I should start my summation now, or I'll lose my readers with short attention spans.  Each week, as I finished a blog, I tried to convey a lesson or at least give you some points to ponder.  As I finish this project though, I'd like to tell you all what I have learned.  You see, it's tough to bare your soul and life each week without being a little
A recent photo of my family
introspective yourself and when you do it for this long, there are bound to be improvements.  I thought writing the blog would be somewhat therapeutic and it has been, but would you be surprised to know that during this time period almost every aspect of my life has changed for the better?  I was, a little.  I shouldn't have been, because I tend to squeeze more out of things than I put into them, but as I started to count my blessings, I was amazed at how many there truly were.  I'll start with my siblings, as without them, there would be no blog.  I've invested more in these relationships and almost without exception this has borne fruit.  I've stepped up my communication with each of them and make a point to try and visit on as regular a basis as my schedule allows.  I do the same with my nieces, nephews and cousins.  A week or so ago, I got a random text from a niece recalling a night where we danced in a group and she said it brought
My wife and my girlfriend, trying to hide their identities.
joy to her heart.  It brought joy to mine just hearing that.  I think it's fair to say that I've grown closer to each of my children and my wife during this period too.  I learned a little late to truly value the time at home with them, but Nolan has been the beneficiary of a lot of extra time spent together doing some interesting things.  With my adult children, I've tried to visit as often as they'd like me to, while still giving them the space that they need.  If I didn't do as good of a job of spending time with them while they were home, at the very least I taught them the value of keeping up with their siblings, and almost every week they choose to spend some time together.  I am glad for
Me with some of the boys, doing more research.
 this.  As to my wife, if you had told me that it was possible, after 26 years of marriage, to fall more deeply in love, I would have been skeptical, and yet,  I have.  Most recently, I've tried to "fix" some habits of mine that I know slightly annoy her, and she has responded in kind, trying to do more of the things that I like to do.  Through the blog and with this constant examination of the relationships that are important to me, they all have improved.  I've gained a deeper appreciation of my in-laws, they are a tough group to crack, but I get to know them a little better each year.  My close friends, grew closer and we chose to spend even more time together.  I had a 30 year high school reunion and I both reconnected and connected for the first time with some of these classmates.  In the midst of the celebration, one of them remarked that my wife and I, telling our story of managing our relationship, had helped to save her marriage, and for one of the few times in my life, I was left speechless.  It was sometime later that I realized the possible effect that these 
Practice hiking for Jamboree
stories that God has given me to tell,  might have amongst those who hear them. I have celebrated life in this blog, but always given the credit to him for providing me that opportunity.  I don't talk much about my work in the blog, as less and less I let this define me, it's just what I do, so that I can do all the things that I love, but I've had some of my most successful years during the course of writing this blog. My Boy Scout Troop, similarly, has thrived during this time and we have outgrown our meeting space, sent 9 Scouts to the National Jamboree, and have 4 Scouts currently working on Eagle projects. The Troop currently is at it's largest point in membership in recent years, at a time where participation in Scouting is dropping.  I am blessed to have a great leadership staff and supporting committee.   On the health front, during the course of this blog at one point I lost 19% of my body weight, but more importantly incorporated regular exercise into my weekly routine.  All the weight didn't stay off but I recently had the best physical of my adult life, because the exercise became habitual.  One year we lost 30% of our annual income and not only survived that year, but thrived.  I suffered the loss of my mother, but as deaths go it was quick, she was surrounded by family and a favorite priest and it was the time of her choosing.  She was ready.  I also lost 4 cousins, who deaths were untimely and tragic, but also learned what a wonderful support network extended family can be at times like that and it brought me even closer to a great group of people.  I grew more spiritual during this time too, and recommitted to weekly church attendance, something that I value, but had not prioritized.  I'm proud to say we've not missed a week since making the commitment.  I could go on, but I won't, and I hope you don't feel as if I am bragging about these blessings, I'm just grateful that I've cast my bread upon the waters, and it has come back to me in so many meaningful ways.

     I'll close now, as I've already exceeded my self-imposed limit on blog length, but I figure you'll forgive me, as it is the last one.  It has been my great honor to share these stories of my family, my travel, the people that I've met and my life,  with you.  I've tried my best to entertain, amuse, enlighten and possibly inspire you and I hope you've found my efforts worthy.  I've appreciated all the Facebook and blog comments, and those in-person encounters where we've conversed about the latest post.  If you'd like to be given advance notice on the book launch, please send an e-mail to wyarger@rochester.rr.com and I'll send you a note when it is ready to order.  As always, for this last blog, feel free to comment or share, and the blog may be ending, but I hope to be around for a while.  Be Well. 
Thank you.




Kim Constantino said...

Perfect ending, love it! Thank you for sharing all of these wonderful stories with all of us. Now I really want to go back and read the ones I've missed.
Oh- and I LOVE how many commas the last sentence has. ;)
Blessings to you and yours!

Anonymous said...

You've captured the essence of the Yargers that I know. I look forward to the book.

Ace said...

Nice...now what to do on Tuesday...great job bro ,stop by for some research,maybe smoke a research...ace