Sunday, December 1, 2013


Today marks week 4 since Craig passed from this life, and I have been intending to tell some good Craig stories. So here goes!


When we moved to New Jersey in the summer of 1998, I was beginning my senior year, and Craig was starting his freshman year in high school. I had fulfilled my Texas language requirements in taking Spanish, which was my only language option at Terry HS in Rosenberg. But ever since 8th grade, I had been fairly interested in both German and Russian, and suddenly German was an option. So I took it, as did Craig.

Craig and I were sat in tandem - me on the front row, and him directly behind me because of alphabetical arranging. So, for 1st period, the two new long-hairs with weird accents and strong opinions on everything were sat together in German. The class was taught by Herr Lovelle, a Frenchman from Alsace-Lorraine who spoke flawless English (and German, French, Italian, Spanish, and perhaps some others). Herr Lovelle had a weird sense of humor that I swear only Craig and I got. He purported to be fascinated with communist East Germany,  Deutsche Demokratische Republik (probably horribly misspelled, and I am not even going to look it up) - or DDR.

Herr Lovelle would respond to the classic, "Teachers and students, please pardon the interruption..." over the PA with a soulful, from-the-gut, could scramble the entire Luftwaffe, "NEIN!!" When students would ask for an extension on homework, he would shout something about the classroom being a little piece of "dee day day err" (the DDR), and refuse any such Kapitilist requests. Craig and I would laugh and laugh - but not so loud as to be sent to the Kuhler or to a gulag.

I am not sure where we got it, but we used to always say, "I dunno, som'in. Som'in like that." And we naturally translated that directly to German, which at least began with, "Ich weiss nicht. Etwas." We felt as though our German training was lacking in the regard of epithets and mockery, so we made up our own based on our limited vocabulary. Our favorite was to call people Fliegenaffen - flying apes. Dummkopf - dumb head - was another favorite. Knowing German would only get you so far in understanding Craig and me since we extrapolated plenty.

Also, at the beginning of the year, we were able to choose Deutsche names, and I chose Juergen, and Craig chose Wolfgang. We rarely used each other's given names ever after. He would answer my phone calls by shouting "Juerrrrrrgeeeeenn!!" sounding like he was gonna throw in an, "in the hizzie" after. I later heard from my BYU German professor from Germany that those names have a connotation of being of the alternative lifestyle set like adding -lyn to a girl's name in America implies stripperness. Oh well, what do you do?


Craig and I loved music - and we listened to a lot together. He used to laugh any and every time I would do my AC/DC "You Shook Me All Night Long" impression. But that was only because I had it NAILED. We used to jam the Toadies album Leatherneck on a regular basis. I have tried to remember other stuff we listened to together, and I know there were a lot of representatives from my favorite year, 1994. We would listen to Nirvana's unplugged album, Offspring's Smash and Ixnay on the Hombre. I remember one time he got a Pantera album, and I remember being afraid of it. Even before I heard it, I feared its extremeness.

Craig helped me set up my combination receiver/turntable/8-track player wired to a single huge speaker. We used to listen to Pierre Robert [sic?] on the classic rock station together. He was with me when I bought my first Stevie Ray Vaughan cd.


Craig was my number 1 wingman for adventures as a kid - mostly in Texas, but it carried over to NJ, as well. We would go to the Old House together - a creepy rundown house in a wooded clump in the middle of some fields. The rumor was that the farmer who owned all the land around was born in that old house. At the time, though, the roof had mostly fallen in, the floor had mostly collapsed, the walls were as much negative space as they were naked wood. There were generally various animal skulls hung on trees all around, and a little old corral with a small clearing of trees in its midst. Shotgun shells and holes abounded. Craig always wanted to go into the house, but I would stop him if I was there, because it was pretty freaking scary. I was sure the floor would collapse, Crag would fall in, get attacked by all the various dangerous wildlife available, and be killed. But it made for a good couple-hour journey via bike or hike.

Riding our bikes on the "farm roads" was some pretty serious exercise. It is no wonder that we never became too acquainted with having our wheels leave the ground. Those paths for the tractors were so lumpy that speed was basically out of the question. Come to think of it, I am not sure why we bothered bringing bikes most places.

The Gar Hole was another favorite destination. Some enterprising individual with access to earth-moving equipment had carved a dirt bike track out of the overgrown landscape just across the creek from the end of the runway from whence the crop dusters came. When we discovered it, we took our bikes there often, and would ride around on the track. Again, we weren't BMX racers, so we didn't exactly exploit the jumps the track could have afforded. Once though, I did have a bit of a spill that left a pretty intense gash on my gut from the exposed end of my handlebar. Craig mocked me at first, which was warranted, but he was pretty cool about at least being concerned after. There wasn't much to offer by way of help that far from home.

Car Wrecks

I have only ever been involved with two car accidents in my life, and Craig was in the car both times. The first was Memorial Day, 1998. We were coming home from John and Jordan's house down Rice Field Road. We were coming from the east into the S bend, and John was coming in a bit hot. As he started turning in to the left, the back end started coming out. He actually applied some opposite lock (I had been int he ditch in his car before due to his NOT knowing how to steer in the case of fishtailing, and he got some verbal "encouragement" for next time), at which point we started heading off the road. So he applied positive lock again, rotating the car still further. By this point, we were off the road sliding sideways on the middle section of the S-bend's shallow-grade ditch which had recently been mowed. I was riding shotgun, and it was pretty intense looking out my window and seeing us going toward what should have been our 3 o'clock. Craig was right behind me when suddenly, the recently mowed grass was in my window, then the windshield, then the opposite side's window, and then we stopped right-side up. I had to do a bit of kicking to open my door, but mine was the only one with difficulty. The only injury was from Jordan flailing in the back seat unrestrained and hitting Craig and giving him a bruise. I think Craig would have preferred to do it again.

The second one was nearly 2 years later in New Jersey. We were headed to 6 Flags, I think with Eliot Omanson and Mike Mojjica. They were up front with Craig and me in the back - me on the driver's side. I was the only putz not wearing a seatbelt, and at one point on Route 70, Eliot was looking down at the cd player changing the (Kid Rock) song when the lady in front of us was slowing to take a left. When Eliot looked up, he slammed on the brakes and tried to steer left around the lady, but she must not have known what was going on because she turned anyway. We slammed into her left side, and left her facing the wrong way on Rt 70 looking east, while we careened into a deep ditch. I had kinda popped forward with my face between Eliot and Mike, and I pushed myself back into my seat just before dropping into the ditch where we slammed into the far bank. The airbags deployed, and I was thrown forward again. Craig hit his shins on the seat in front, and got a minor bruise on each. I thought the car was on fire from the airbag smoke. Craig stretched the truth a bit to the paramedics and police on the scene and said he had nothing wrong whatsoever, so he didn't have to go to the hospital. Eliot and Mike both had the weakest of injuries, so they were taken in. I remember Mom and Dad not being real pleased as if we should have done something differently. I have despised Kid Rock all the more since that day.

I will have to tell my story of Craig being a cop magnet later.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Now, the source of the large pile of white bricks in our yard is well known, it was a gift (purchased?) from Steve and Janet down the street.  I'm not sure anyone remembers why we had the bricks.  Most likely, they were acquired for some yard project that never happened.  Not saying we didn't use the odd brick to weigh down the black plastic over the garden or line a flower bed, but most of them just sat in a pile.

For a group of boys raised on leggos, the pile of bricks, whatever its source, was quite the windfall.  We immediately set out to build a castle.  Time and how short I was at the time make the dimensions a little foggy, but I'd say the walls were around four feet high and max 40 sq. feet of floor space (and by floor I mean dirt or a chunk of plywood, which is pretty close to what out actual floors were).  We went all out with the first one, it had a few separate rooms and even a circular turret (I believe Brian was our architect).  We camped out a few nights in these roofless huts and in general had a blast.  We'd always try to lure the cats to sleep with us to keep us warm,  although Brian just threw the cats (which have the tendency of landing claws out, knocking a brick or two down after them) from his room to ours which was a trifle annoying.  Naturally, the clean white brick walls were quickly covered in mud from our constant internecine warfare.

We completely dismantled our castle at least twice to rebuild a new one, usually not as elaborate, just trying to maximize floor space and then using plywood for the internal structure.  I think we even had roofs on some of them.  Half the fun was just moving piles of bricks all day!  Anyway, anyone else have any castle memories?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Zero Bars

You guys remember Zero bars, goey nougat and nuts encased in white chocolate? Mom would randomly buy them for us after filling up at the gas station. I don't remember ever begging for one or Mom using them as bribery. Just, every once in a while, Mom emerging from the gas station store with a plastic bag full of 6, 7, 8? Zero bars, one for each of us. Simple pleasures . . .

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Van of terror

We Rugglets experienced a variety of vehicles of varying levels of class and volume. The earliest I remember are the White Chrysler Le Baron and the tan 1977 Buick Estate Wagon (red vinyl interior? You bet! More stories on it later, I'm sure). They are both deserving of their own posts - I'm looking at you, Andy, with the various throttle fun you had.

But we outgrew our big-pimpin' wagon. There are only so many people you can fit in a 7-seat car before it starts getting unsafe. So we upgraded to the 1985 blue Ford Econoline van - our Mormon Assault Vehicle. It was blue on the outside, and possibly blue-er on the inside. It had the V8 to make the Mustang drivers jealous. 5.0? Please. 351 all the way!

There was all sorts of genuine fun and madness ensuing constantly. Vacations were downright roomy! Well, if you don't need legroom. We are tall folks - what vehicle short of a limo or luxury car has rear legroom for 6-footers? But we could have a spot open on each row to at least provide elbow room. Mom and Dad probably won't like hearing this, but we could alternate who would lay on the floor and who was on the seats. You grab your old-school music-playing implement of choice, lay down, and rock out! Or read.

Once - I think after Andy had already left home, Craig and I sat in the back row on the way to Tim and Joann's making various projectiles out of some weird wax to shoot out of my blowgun (Thanks, Uncle Tim). We were going for highest pain quotient for the future twin hunting we had planned. We made slugs, and hollow-points, and the more traditional ogive (normal bullet shape). Then, I would have Craig pull up the leg of his shorts and shoot him in the thigh to gauge his reaction and get his feedback. In the end, the projectiles may have been a bit heavy, limiting the range, but they did their work as the twins can attest.

The van never embarrassed me like the wagon. Not that I remember, anyway. That being said, it occasionally sputtered and backfired. The backfires were dramatic as the exhaust developed some crack or something. People in the hood would duck and wonder who bought the light cannon on the black market for Mud Alley use. Andy figured out how to make it backfire on command. It was quite impressive. I remember him doing that in Pecan Grove as we were passing people - awesome.

That exhaust crack had another upshot: we could hear and feel Mom approaching home from a LONG way away. The frequency of the trembling would tell you how fast she was going - and we could literally feel her slow to turn off Mennonite Rd onto Powerline, and slow again to turn onto Mourning Dove. By the time she turned into the driveway, we were bouncing along the floor (where we tended to lie to watch TV for some reason). Except usually we would use the advance warning to do the chores Mom would assign before leaving home. There weren't many chores we couldn't accomplish in her last mile home.

Craig and Mike Lowe didn't believe us that you could feel our van approach. Once though, Craig (brother) and I were at the Lowe's after some activity at the Crane's/Thayne's. When the Blue Whale rumbled down the road and it made every piece of furniture in their full-foundation home tremble and sway - the higher the furniture, the more the swaying - and they had incredulous looks on their faces as they looked outside to see our MAV approach the complex.

I never drove that monster - but I'm not sad. I am a tiny car person in the end. It is weird. I have long realized it is weird that I like small cars in light of me being Texan, but I never realized until just now that it is counter to my automotive experiences in my youth. Maybe it is for me like leftovers for Andy. I think it is for purely nerdy physics reasoning, but I have to wonder. Anyway - that was a good one. Until it started sucking more than was worth trying to fix and we got rid of it. But it was good till then.

Except for the single-digit gas mileage. There is a little hole in the ozone that I think belongs to us...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Girls troubles and yes, even more stinging insects!

As long as I can remember I've preferred feminine company to masculine, and the same was true in elementary school. In third grade however my awkward phase began because it was no longer socially acceptable to hang out with girls (which did not end until high school *shudder*). Anyway, in third grad I tried to hang out with girls anyway, but they would always beat me up (if they could catch me, sic their older sisters on me to beat me up if they couldn't). I reacted as any warm-blooded Rugglet would: with spite and with science. Using a small plastic magnifying glass holder, I would gather as many honey bees as I could. In a confrontation, I would release my hymenopteran minions and let them scare away my foes. I always came off victor, but I never seemed to reconcile fully with the fairer sex till 9th grade.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


From my bizarre and somewhat deprived childhood I have but one regret: lack of documentation! We need to get more of our stories down, especially seeing as how the last Rugglet will start to contribute soon. I propose a flurry of activity in celebration of Adam's triumphant return, so get on it Rugglets. Rugglet spouses, get on your Rugglet's case about blogging. Cousins, feel free to chime in more often. Need inspiration? Start reading posts from the beginning, we mentioned dozens of topics that your memory could fill pages with. Cats, neighbors, bikes, lawn mowers, porches, piles of bricks, parafoils and DOS computer games are all waiting for their stories to be told!

Friday, September 17, 2010

"It sounds like something...evil..."

This is another story not about growing up in the ghetto, but the fact that we never grew out of it.

The summer after I graduated high school I spent in Texas working for Andy, and in general causing problems. It was one of the best summers of my life.

One day Natalie and Alison were over and we were watching Charlotte, long gone to bed, chatting. That's when we heard the chirping. I'd been hearing it all week, coming from the walls.

"It sounds like something...evil..." Natalie said, and for some reason that line became hilarious. We tried to track down the source of the chirping, but it seemed to be coming from the walls, and moving. A bird perhaps? Muhahaha.

The next day on the can I hear the chirping crazy loud in the wall right next to me, not near the living room where we heard it before and nowhere near the outside. Andy and I decided to take matters into our own hands and cut a hole in the drywall to remove....wait for it...a baby raccoon!

Never before have I been privileged to care for a cuter secret pet. I bottle fed the little guy myself up in my room hoping Jen wouldn't discover our machinations. My favorite part of the whole affair was actually when Jen did find out. 8 months pregnant at the time with Claire, Jen had little patience for us using her baby's bottle to clandestinely keep a varmit in the house: Andy and I got quite the talking to. The thing needed to go, and quicklike. We just set him outside and in less than a minute the momma raccoon was there and scooped him away like a cat. It was awesome.

P.S. To get a more hilarious version of this story, ask Jen about when we ripped a hole in her bathroom to catch a baby raccoon.