Much Anticipated, Finally Happened

Note from Craig: Yep, a “classic” post about the opening of Perkins in Apex. For those keeping score, the column mentions our thirteen-year-old daughter Anna. Anna is now 29, so I’ve succeeded in embarrassing her for two generations!

Yes, it finally happened. I’ve been watching carefully to monitor the progress and have eagerly anticipated the opportunity to finally experience it.

Many times when a person anticipates something a great deal, it turns out not to be as good as you expect. But it wasn’t true in this case.

Okay, I’ve been obscure long enough. I’ll let you in on it. Perkins has opened!

You’ll remember if you’ve read this space for any period of time that I like to keep you up to date with all the new eating places that open in Apex. There are some good places to eat in Apex, as I’ve chronicled in an exhaustive way in the past, but Perkins adds some variety to the lineup.

Perkins is a chain, and there is one in Raleigh. But we don’t get over that way very often. But I have some good memories of Perkins.

When my oldest daughter Anna was in kindergarten, during her spring break I took her to Orlando. My dear sweet wife was pregnant at the time, and too far along to travel so it was just Anna and myself.

Now I thought that she would want to spend all our time at Disneyworld but she really didn’t. What she wanted to do was to swim in the pool at our hotel and play miniature golf. So we did.

Within walking distance of our hotel there was a Perkins, and Anna really enjoyed it. She wanted to eat about every meal there, and I had to steer her to other places.

So those pleasant memories of Perkins made me anticipate the opening of Perkins that much more. The big question around town the past few weeks has been, “When will Perkins open?”

In fact, overcome by curiosity, a few weeks ago I accompanied local realtor Buddy Cummings and insurance agent Steve Smith as we went over to Perkins to see inside and get some idea when they would open.

We got to see inside and talked with one of the managers, who told us that they were in the process of hiring between 80 and 120 employees to staff the restaurant. Wow, I had no idea that it took so many people to staff a restaurant!

After the facility is finished, all those folks have to be trained, and I got the impression that Perkins does fairly extensive training.

The training showed when my family visited Perkins on the first day they were open, Monday, April 12.

We thought it wouldn’t be crowded on a Monday. Boy, were we wrong!

Although we went shortly after 5:00 p.m., we had to wait for a table. The staff was very attentive though and really concerned about getting folks to tables as soon as possible. That’s refreshing to say the least.

We saw a lot of people we knew, and that just added to the fun. Apparently we weren’t the only ones waiting for them to open. We were seated, and the lady seating us also brought along a basket of toys for the kids. Our two younger children, William and Ashley, weren’t sure about Perkins, since they’d never been to one, but that helped make up their minds about it real quick.

They even had stuff that was cool enough for thirteen-year-old Anna, plus I must admit that I sneaked a peek at a few pages of an Archie comic book in the basket. How do Veronica and Betty stay so young?

The food was great and the service was unusual in how good it was. I hope they keep it up. I wish some other organizations would spend the time in figuring out how to give superior service, as Perkins seems to have done.

If you haven’t figured it out, we really enjoyed our visit to Perkins and we’ll be back…often. Hope they have another Archie comic next time!

A Trashy Kind of Guy

Note from Craig: This is another “classic” post about a time when I participated in highway trash cleanup. Some things have changed since then; for example, Burger King is no longer  my breakfast place of choice. Enjoy!

Some would say that I’m a trashy kind of guy, so it may be surprising that I haven’t done it before. But I haven’t.

But that’s what life is all about, trying new things. It makes life interesting, exciting and fun. Okay, this is not going to be another column about my habit of going to the same place for breakfast (it looks like Burger King has currently won out on that one), but about something I haven’t done before.

I know by now you must be sitting on the edge of your seat wondering, “What did the fool go and do now?”

So to keep you from falling all the way on the floor, I’ll tell you. I helped with highway trash cleanup. Isn’t that exciting? The state started the highway cleanup program a few years ago to help keep the highways trash free. People and organizations were encouraged to sign up for an area of highway to keep clean.

It worked great at first, with many people and organizations signing up for areas to clean up and actually doing the cleanup. But it seems that the politicians in Raleigh have found other political hobby horses to ride and the program seems to be suffering a bit.

I’ve noticed quite a few areas do not have anyone to clean them as people and organizations have declined to continue their commitment. Other places that do have signs are showing signs of neglect.

The Apex Kiwanis Club has cleaned up an area almost as long as the highway cleanup program has been going. We have the area of Kildare Farm Road from 1010 to Holly Springs Road.

Now when I first heard where our cleanup area was, I said, “That’s not in Apex.” But it is. Although Kildare Farm Road is known more to be a Cary street, it also goes into Apex.

So early on a recent Saturday morning, four of us from the Apex Kiwanis Club gathered to pick up trash. This was my first time to pick up trash because every other time trash pickup has been scheduled; I’ve been out of town.

But local financial advisor Steve Smith, who coordinated the effort for the club, picked a weekend that I could make it. Local attorney Jeff Zdenek and one of our newest members, Wayne Kennedy, joined us. Peggy Mowrey came by just as we were finishing up. Great timing, Peggy!

Actually, to be real honest, I was a few minutes late. I have a hard time rolling out of bed most mornings, but the problem is made even worse on Saturday mornings. But when I finally arrived, the other guys were already at work.

Impressed with their enthusiasm, I quickly joined them. I was fitted with a state issued bright red vest, given a supply of state issued bright orange trash bags and started picking up trash.

I had no idea that folks threw so much trash out of their cars! There were areas of the road that were fairly clean, but other areas required some extra time to pick up all the accumulated trash.

We had just enough state issued bags for the job, so we’ll have to restock before the next pickup time.

I led the group in finding dead animals, with two birds and an opossum. One of the other guys found two dead opossums, so he was close.

That’s a whole lot better than what happened on one highway pickup. Wake County Sheriff’s deputy Jimmy Byrd was helping with the cleanup that time and he picked up what he thought was a piece of water hose. It turned out the “hose” was a snake.

See, highway trash cleanup can be exciting! Get involved, and don’t throw trash out of your cars!!

Still Dreaming After All These Years

Note from Craig: This column is a continuation of my long ago musings on what my dream house would look like. Enjoy!

Have you been dreaming since last we met in these pages? I hope so, because I sure have!

If you remember, I was taking you on a tour of my dream house, since our local builders have recently had Dream House Showcases and Parades of Homes. I guess you could call this Craig’s Dream Home Tour.

Last week, we toured the outside and my play/sports wing. One thing I failed to point out last week is the children’s playground. When they’re not on one of the fields and just want to play, then they’ll be able to on the large selection of equipment provided for them.

It will be wooden equipment, but I personally will paint it the brightest red I can find. I have two reasons for doing that. First, it will show everyone around that I do not live in Cary, and second, it will ward off those land grabbers in Cary from ever wanting to annex my dream home.

Then if I want to have more than two pets I can do so, if I want to put up signs, flags and banners I can do so and if I want to put up a unique mailbox I can do so. In other words, I will still have some of my personal freedoms intact.

Okay, enough Cary-bashing for now (even though it is fun, isn’t it?).

Let’s go back inside our dream house, to one of my dear sweet wife Deborah’s favorite rooms, the kitchen. I never realized how important the kitchen was until I started looking at houses with Deborah. I remember one house we looked at that we liked a lot, but the kitchen wasn’t quite right, so we crossed that one off our list.

Our current kitchen is okay, but it’s on the wrong side of the house. It would make more sense if the kitchen were next to the garage, for ease in bringing in groceries. But our current kitchen is at the opposite end of the house from the garage, which makes it a bit harder in getting the groceries there.

So Deborah’s dream kitchen would be convenient to the garage, and the kitchen would be spacious enough to easily store all the kitchen stuff. It would have a large pantry with room enough to keep my four year old son William well stocked in ABC’s and 1-2-3’s and Spaghetti-O’s. It would have all the latest equipment and would be exactly the colors that my dear sweet wife Deborah wanted.

Deborah has always wanted a small desk in her kitchen so we’d put one in for her and also have her a computer for keeping track of her kitchen inventory, recipes and other stuff. Of course, she would have a link to the Internet so she could download even more recipes. The computer would be tied in with the kitchen equipment so she could program in when she wanted the equipment to do its work, whether she was there or not.

The refrigerator would be huge, but still would stay full (an inside family joke there). You could get ice from the door, but also juice, so the children could fill their juice glasses themselves. That would be great!

Since we’re close to it, let’s go to the garage next. We have two vehicles now, but our garage has room for at least three cars. That gives us the possibility of being able to get at least one car in the garage. The garage would be one of those new Auto-Expando models, so if I did need more space, I could just press a button and another bay would pop out automatically.

So don’t stand too close to my garage.

That door at the back of the garage leads to my workshop, where I have a huge assortment of tools. Never again will I be frustrated doing a job because I don’t have the right tool. When a new tool is invented, it’s automatically shipped to me so I’ve got what I need for any job.

Underneath this huge dream home I’m describing is a full basement, used mainly for storage since my dear sweet wife Deborah and I are both accumulators. The full basement will enable us to hide our accumulations, like a squirrel hides its nuts for winter.

Going back upstairs, okay let’s put in an elevator and stairs, we go into a large family room. I guess you could call it a great room, but it’s kind of a family gathering room, although the TV sports room I described last week would probably prove to be popular also.

Next to the great/family room is a somewhat small formal living room. I just threw that in for now in case we ever have a use for it. With two preschoolers we’re not very formal right now, but who knows, that may change some day so we’ll put it in.

Besides, you must have at least one room in your house where the kids can’t play and you fuss at them if they do play in there. The living room will be that for our dream house.

Going back through the great room, we come to a door that leads to the children’s play room. It’s large and bright, well-used and messy. How else can a play room be? William will have enough room to set up his Thomas the Tank Engine trains without taking up all the floor space and the girls, Anna and Ashley will plenty of room to play too.

Next to the play room is the train room, where I can set up my electric trains and leave them set up. They are for the kids of course (do you really believe that?), but I have a lot of fun messing with them.

Nearby is a hobby room for my dear sweet wife Deborah and myself. My part is filled with cards and stuff, while Deborah has all sorts of stuff in her part.

My dream house will also have nice large bedrooms for each child, appointed in the way they want them and a huge master bedroom for my dear sweet wife Deborah and myself.

Dreaming is great, but reality tells me that it would take someone approaching Bill Gates or Ross Perot to pay for such a house. But I’ve already got the most important ingredients of a dream home: my dear sweet wife Deborah, and three great children Anna, William and Ashley.

Who could ask for anything more?

Craig’s Dream House Profiled

Note from Craig: This is one of the earliest columns that I can find. I mention my four year old son Will in this column. Will is about to turn 23 later this month. How time flies!

It’s nice to have dreams. They give you something to reach for, and while you may never achieve your most lofty of dreams, you probably will accomplish more than you would have if you had not dreamed at all.

So, with that in mind, let’s dream a bit today. I guess what got me to thinking about dreaming was first of all, the fact that I am a bit of a dreamer all the time anyway.

If you were to ask my dear sweet wife Deborah and if she was totally honest with you (not necessarily dear or sweet, but honest), she would admit that I walk around like my head was in the clouds most of the time, so I must be in dreamland, even when I’m in theory awake.

So it’s easy for me. And with the recent Dream Home Showcase and the Parade of Homes going on, it got me to thinking…and dreaming. My dear sweet wife Deborah likes going to look at the houses on those tours, so she goes, while I just dream about what my dream house would look like.

I recall seeing a couple of episodes of the popular sitcom “Home Improvement” where lead character Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor (played by Tim Allen) created his dream bathroom and bedroom, so I guess the dreams started percolating when saw those episodes.

If I knew how to spell Tim Allen’s famous grunts, I would do that now. The men who are reading this column may now pause to grunt, scratch and make a few other disgusting noises. Ladies, if you aren’t in the presence of a man doing those things right now, think back on a time when you experienced such a display and say, “Ewww, gross!”

Now that we got that out of the way(wouldn’t such displays spice up the presidential debates?), let’s proceed on with our tour of my dream house.

Let’s begin outside, since you have to have land to build a house upon, unless you’re living in the Russian space station. Then you just need space.

But for my dream house, we need land, plenty of it. It has a nice plush lawn that mows itself and stays green no matter what the season. No, it’s not artificial turf, but real grass, since artificial turf causes nasty rug burns when you slide across it. I don’t want my children to get rug burns from playing in the yard!

Look there at the edge of the yard and there’s a beautiful pond, stocked with big fish. I’d regularly drop a hook in and the fish I caught would go into the Deluxe Fish Cleaning and Filleting Machine installed conveniently next to the pond. Then I would take my prepared filets into my dream house to be cooked for supper.

But we’re not going inside yet. We’re not through with the outside. Surrounding the house and yard are woods, with plenty of wildlife visible. You’ll be able to see deer, rabbits, squirrels and birds galore at home in their own habitat. I would be able to get my trusty camera at any time and capture all sorts of wildlife on film, right at the edge of my yard.

Also, back behind the house, take a look and see the full-sized soccer field and the baseball field. The baseball field also has a batting cage. With fields becoming so scarce around here, I want to be sure that my children’s teams always have a place to practice and play.

I played baseball growing up, but children have more choices these days. My four year old son William likes to run so much I think he’ll really like soccer so he’ll be taken care of in this way.

Over here is my practice putting surface, right next to my driving range. Maybe with my own driving range I would finally use those new clubs I’ve had for over a year(don’t get me started on that, please!).

Also notice the bike paths running through the property, so the whole family can bike safely and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors all around us without having to dodge cars.

Okay, now let’s go inside. Ah, we’ve entered at one of my favorite places. I don’t know what you’d call it, other than Craig’s dream TV/messing around room. Notice the large screen TV screen covering one wall of the room. This room has the capability of receiving any sporting event I’d ever want to see.

What if I want to see more than one thing at a time? I call your attention to that bank of 30” monitors on that other wall. I about got it covered to watch as much sports as I want to. Plus notice my electronic recliner that rotates to the optimum viewing position no matter what TV in the room I’m watching.

What’s that odd attachment on the recliner? I’m glad you asked. That is a specially designed card sorter so I can combine two of my favorite pursuits, watching sports on TV and messing with baseball and other sports cards.

That other attachment next to the cup holder on the recliner is a tap that automatically fills my cup with my favorite beverage, diet Mountain Dew, when it gets low (hey, what were you thinking?). It’s on a timer so before 5:00 p.m. it dispenses diet Mountain Dew with caffeine, but switches to decaf after 5:00 p.m. so I can sleep at night.

Okay that about does it for this room. Now, lest you think that I’m going to vegetate in the sports TV room all the time, let’s move to the exercise wing of my dream house. Yes, one look at me and you’ll know that I need to spend plenty of time here!

First of all, check out our full-sized basketball court. I love shooting hoops. There’s also a walking/running track around the court. Open this door and you’ll see the racquetball court. I like playing racquetball as much as I like playing golf and play it just as frequently.

Through this door you’ll see the Olympic-sized swimming pool. It’s heated so we can use it year-round, and it has a retractable roof so we can open it when it’s nice during the summer.

Oops, I’ve dreamed away a whole column and we’re not even through the house yet. Dream a few dreams until we meet again in these pages!

Yes, I’m Back!

For ten years and over 500 columns, I published “One Man’s Views” in the Apex Herald. I wrote about many things such as my family, our pets, my church and things that angered me, such as the many actions of the Wake County School Board and the North Carolina “Education” Lottery.

As this aging raconteur gets older, I began to look for a way to display those columns and maybe even add to them. So this website has been born.

I will be re-publishing some of those “classic” or old columns. I didn’t do a great job of saving them, so I’m trying to recover as many as I can in various ways. If you have any old copies of the Apex Herald with my columns in them, I’d appreciate the opportunity to borrow them to add to this collection.

But I still do have “original” thoughts, and many government bodies are still doing incredibly stupid things that I’m about to bust to give you my opinion about. So I will be adding new columns to the mix of past columns. Plus, I now have grandchildren to write about as well!

I hope you’ll join me here in cyberspace on a regular basis. I’ve missed doing this and am excited to be back!