After 40 years as a computer programmer and game developer—and the passing of his wife of 47 years—Rick has retired and is now living in Ye Olde Folks Home, where he still tinkers with tech and likes to write these amusing and/or thoughtful tales about his storied life.

The Eggshell Incident
First Chapel Service at Ye Olde Folks Home
A Yearly Ritual at Menards
“Mr. Loftus, the Town Hero”
The FCAL Project
Pepe Le Pew Finds New Lodgings
In Memoriam: Dale Lear
Bingo Bedlam at Ye Olde Folks Home
There’s a Shortage of Perfect Movies…
One Day at the DMV
A Visitor from Microsoft
“He Who Should Not Be Named”
Downton… Abbey?
This Home is a Liver-Free Zone
My 9/11 Rememberances
My Yearly Pumpkin Spice Rant
Done In By Baker’s Square
My Eulogy for Alice
“Dear Rikki…”
A Clean, Well-lighted Place for Books
Memories of my First Computer
A Little Excitement at the Staff Meeting
The Tale of Mrs. Butler
Sun, Sand, and a Margarita
“Thou Shalt Not Steal”
Troubleshooting at Ye Olde Folks Home
Stories of my Mother
I’ve Heard Angels Sing
Elevator Mishap at the Eye Clinic
One Day at Fair, Isaac
Saturday Morning Cartoons
A Sprig of Parsley
Fun With Recruitment Ads
Leave Her to Heaven
Bring me Dave Bringle!
Beware! The Oldsters Are Coming!
Life Among the Progressives
A Family Ritual While Watching Masterpiece
The Unforgettable General Oppy
“Don’t Even THINK About Parking Here”
A Dubious Plan Gone Awry
The Singing Christmas Tree!
One Day in the Hospital Lab
The Legend of the Broken Timer
Nelson’s Fruit Stand
This One Time in Glee Club…
Star Trek References for the Win
Family Psalm, Stuck in Lodi
Vacation in Branson
Clyde and Ruth Revisited
COVID Policies During my Wife’s Fatal Illness
I Guess I’m the Shadow IT Department Now
The Tale of Clyde and Ruth
My Garden of Gethsemane Story
We Might Get a Virus!

Stories of my Mother

Today is Mother’s Day!

When I was a lad, my mother cut womens’ hair. What is that called nowadays? A hair stylist? Back then she was called a cosmetologist.

Originally she worked with a group of other women in a beauty shop in San Rafael, CA, but her working conditions weren’t ideal so she decided to set up shop for herself.

Most of her clientele followed her, which made the ladies in the downtown shop pretty mad. They spread rumors about her having quit because of a “mental breakdown.”

She ran “Betty’s Beauty Salon” out of a remodelled outbuilding attached to our country farmhouse in Cotati, CA. It was a lively place, with lots of women congregating to chitchat and gossip while they got their shampoo and cut.

There was some friction with us two rambunctious boys playing just outside the shop, and my Mom tried hard to keep us quiet, especially after that fateful day I was loudly and repeatedly singing a playground rhyme I’d recently learned while the preacher’s wife was getting her hair done.

I don’t know why she was so mad. It didn’t have even one swear word in it! Here, give it a listen:

🎵 Lulu had a steamboat, steamboat had a bell 🎵
🎵 The steamboat went to heaven, Lulu went to 🎵
🎵 Hello operator, give me number nine 🎵
🎵 If you do not connect me I’ll paddle your 🎵
🎵 Behind the refrigerator there was a piece of glass 🎵
🎵 Lulu fell upon it and cut her little 🎵
🎵 Ask me no more questions, tell me no more lies 🎵
🎵 Lulu told me all of this just before she died. 🎵

And my brother reminded me that he burst into the shop one day to proudly show my mom the tattered and bloody remains of the hummingbird he had just shot with his BB gun.

That was not received well either.

And so we were told to play quietly outside the shop, and not interrupt my Mom while she was working. If I needed her attention I was to wait silently in the doorway while she talked with the customer, until she finally looked over and gave me permission to speak.

One time, after 10 or 15 minutes I heard, “Oh, good boy, you waited so patiently. Now, what was, it, sweetie?”

“The toilet is overflowing.”

“Why didn’t you tell me earlier!??” she cried out, dashing into the house.

When I look back at photos of her holding me as a baby, I am struck by how beautiful she looked. Not gonna lie; she looked like a movie star. Of course, I don’t doubt that I am biased on this point.

When I was a small child, one day I asked her, in all seriousness, “Mom, are you the most beautiful woman in the world?” I wasn’t trying to butter her up; it was a sincere question and not rhetorical at all.

After she recovered from a sudden fit of the giggles, (perhaps after wiping away a tear or two), she responded very solemnly.

I don’t remember what she said exactly, but I do remember she pointed out that this was quite probably not the case, and almost certainly also pointed out how unimportant that would be in the grand scheme of things.

Recently discovered photo of my Mom holding me as an infant.

That I’m in this photo isn’t really what interests me… I’m struck by the pride and delight on her face, and how young she looks.

She had to fight to get me, and I think it shows. I was premature, and required a lengthy hospital stay, which was a financial hardship; they weren’t going to let her have me until their entire hospital bill was paid.

“Well, I guess you’re going to have to raise him, then,” my dad huffed, turning on his heel and marching down the hall… they hastily called him back and relented, letting my parents take me home after they promised to pay off the bill little by little.

My dad joked that I was his “time payment baby.”