Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Present Thief


Sometimes, when I sit late at night watching a fire, everything makes sense. Sometimes, the opposite is true and it all seems impossibly, well, difficult. Last night nothing made sense. I got to thinking about something Nick said Christmas evening - something I found, well, odd.

He said he was scared. I asked him if he meant he was sad, assuming he was suffering that post holiday sadness that can hit anyone - that hit me last night - but he said that wasn't it. He said he was afraid the stuff he got was going to be stolen by a thief, a present thief I guess, the very worst kind. He said he was afraid that everything would be gone in the morning.  It is hard to respond to that. I tried to laugh it off, maybe make a joke about it, tell him that it was very, very unlikely that a present thief would sneak in and steal gifts.

A "present thief," huh? Yeah, I lied to him, there is such a thing, isn't there? My present seems to be always being thieved. And do you know what, I think that's precisely what he was worried about. He knew he was happy, Christmas had been very good, 'perfect' Zack had even said, and I think Nick didn't want that feeling to be stolen from him. I am happy right now, please, don't take it away from me ... You know, don't we all feel that way sometimes? Lord, I know I do. It's that feeling I get constantly when I am thinking about things, dreaming, hoping, trying desperately to hold onto a thought, a moment. When you wish more than anything that you could just stay right where you are, when you are, that moment you try to stave off the present thief.

As many of you know I struggle - to put it gently - with time Time (an archnemisis should be capitalized, don't you think).  This thing, evil as it so often is to me, is my present thief.  The other night, the night I sat thinking sadly about Nick and Christmas, Time was in the room, egging me on, playing with my mind.  I think the old man's greatest weapon is making you think there is plenty of him to go around.  There isn't.  I am old now, not as old as some, but older than the majority of the people I would call my peers - the parents of the kids my boys know, the men I know at church, even my dear wife, Marci, is not as old as I - and Time knifes me at every opportunity it seems.

I have been over this and over this and over this in my head, but, in all honesty, I never considered time and the impact it would have on me as a younger man.  I never, ever considered it and, well, that's good.  So much comes from not taking on Time, ignoring him, pushing him away with a simple laugh and never acknowledging the power he has over you.

I absolutely marvel at the stuff I have found time to do in my life: the movies I've seen, good and bad and naughty and nice; the books I've read, Shakespeare to O'Neill to Irving to Doyle, a thousand useless sci-fi novels as a kid, and so many textbooks and plays and collections of poetry; I have marveled at uncounted (and I wish I had) sunsets, moonrises, sunrises and moonsets, seen dozens of meteor showers; I have had deep, meaningful, long conversations with thousands, I'd guess, of friends and I once found the time, it would seem, to estimate that I have probably served a quarter of a million people food, beverage and bullshit in my long restaurant career; I have learned the words to 'American Pie' and its chords, I've memorized poems by Frost and Whitman and Williams and Homer, I've labored over music's fingerings and rhythms, theory, and past, so much music...

Ironically - or self-servingly - I really don't have time to continue this list of the things I have found the time to do.  Here's the thing, I have found the hours to do so many things and I have found the time to consider those things.  I have stood along the edge of a forest, thinking about the woods, a poem, a person, a fence.  I have imagined the whole of Hamlet, looking into a fire.  I've heard songs I hadn't yet written in the wind and thunder, and listened to them over and over.  I've planned nearly every conversation I've ever had, important or not, in my head before time just so I could, maybe, make it right.  I've wept at death on a long cross-continental drive, all the way, and, I have spent endless, joyous nights in the quiet of bed wondering at the wonder that is love.  I've found so many different perspectives of the same cityscape, watching the cabs and cars through grimy urban windows and done the same out a picture window in the country watching squirrels and corn.

I have dreamed oceans.  I have hoped eternities.  I have prayed tomes.  I have loved unfathomably.

How is this possible?  I sit here, in the cold, cluttered basement, staring off at the stairway to the floor above and I am flooded with the memories that two simple paragraphs wash me in.  I want to cry and laugh and party and scream and dance and sing and... and, here's the kicker, it happened in an instant, maybe two.  All this in mere seconds of time as measured on the old analog clock that ticks above my desk.

Yes, the enemy of Time is God.  More accurately, maybe, is that the antidote to creeping, consuming chronos - whom I call Time - is Kairos.  God's time.

I am no ancient Greek philosopher - a merely play one on television - and I am unarmed in a battle of wits with even the most sophomoric of philosophers but, I've given this some thought and here's what I think.  Kairos is the time given to us and Chronos is the time taken away.

I just glanced up at clock, as I so often do, and thought:  "Hey, I could use a little of God's time here, before the boys get restless and Marci goes to do something and lunch must be considered and ... yes, please God, just a little of Your time?"

Well, that didn't work.  In fact, writing that sentence took about ten minutes for some reason.

And... I have to go do stuff.


I'm back but, I think I should finish up.  It's funny, I the clock moved forward an hour, but, I really don't care about that right now.  Now is the present, and no stupid "present thief" is going to take it away from me.

I do have a couple of things I'd like to show you, if, that is, you have the time.  You see, they're time-sensitive, if you will, and, well, it goes deeper than that.  We suspect this is the last year the boys will believe - if you get my drift - the last time they may ever do this and, I really find "lasts" very difficult, very sad.  A part of me feels like Time, the bad guy, has stolen this from me, from us, from them.  But, my dear friends, Kairos gave it all to me in the first place:




















I began this post a couple of days ago, sitting in front of a fire, thinking about a boy and a silly villain I made up called "The Present Thief."  I end it now with he sudden realization that this will be my last post of the year.  And it's about time.  That's seems appropriate.  And I didn't even know it...

I loathe New Year's resolutions.  I really, really do.  I actually loathe the whole New Year's Eve thing but, you spend thirty years of working in a restaurant every, every  NYE and you'd understand why.

Listen, I am never going to stop battling with time and, honestly, I will probably write about it again, but I hereby resolve to not take it so seriously, and to understand that it will happen in God's good time.


From Marci's "... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat ..."

Nick:  I shall never go to any zoo in China.


I love the word 'shall'...


Thanks for stopping by today, I shall try to post more frequently in the coming months.  My readership is waning and that gets discouraging sometimes, but, then I remember that I may never understand why I do this, why it matters so to me.  It all seems so silly and yet, here I am.

Merry New Year!

(I am advocating a simple word shift for future winter holidays, let's all say "Happy Christmas" because at its core is joy and "Merry New Year," because 'merry' has a jubilant connotation, think parties.  Thank you, carry on...)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas.thirteen


In my last post I mentioned these, in fact, they were supposed to be the main focus of the whole thing, but, best laid plans and all:



I want to go on and on about them but, I don't feel up to it.  It occurs to me that what I wanted to say about them may have seemed boastful.  You see, I am very happy they don't have mile-long scrolls of stuff they want and what they do want is wholesome and simple.  I'd wonder why that is but, I already know, and it's simple:  the boys don't watch commercial television.  If they do watch, say, Phineas and Ferb or something like Wipeout, say, it's either DVRed or on Netflix.  Simply put, they haven't been told what to want.

We emphasize the birth of Jesus and family and all that around Christmas, I suppose that's good, but, seriously - my boys don't know what they are supposed to want.

I think it's cute.  I think it is good.  I think it is right.

I was saying to Marci on the drive home from the first family Christmas this year at my wife's parent's house that I thought Christmas will never be brought back from the crass commercialism it has become.  It's just too great a fuel for rampart capitalism, I mean, you try to make a better economy driver.  It can't be done.  Buying stuff makes people happy, how are you going to argue that.  But, around here, we are sort of, just barely, hanging on to the sacred intent of the day... for now.

Zack wants a LEGO guy and a vest for his favorite stuffed bear, Bear-Bear.  Nick wants an elf hat and A stuffet (stuffed) animal crab, in aqua, thank you very much.  And a story book "including A horned toad, A kangaroo, A duck And A camel."  Part of me feels bad about these simple, dear requests, but, basically, fundamentally, I am proud that they are so sweet and pure and, well, decent.

See there I boasted and I didn't want to... well, actually I did.

Anyway, a horned toad, a kangaroo, a duck and a camel walked into a bar.  Who bought the first round?


You know what?  A blogger I know, Carter Gaddis at a great blog called DadScribe, wrote this piece, "How an 8-year-old Boy Sees the Universe" and it blew my socks off.  His tender and lovingly crafted words make mine pale in comparison.  Give it a look if you have time and then you'll understand why I had a such a hard time with this post.


From Marci's "... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat..."

(leaving a Reconciliation Service)

Mom:  "Sometimes I think I confess the same things over and over ..."

Nick:  "That's why I go to a different priest each time."

Well, there ya go ...


Thanks for coming around today, I know you are busy.  Someone asked me at school the other day if I was ready for Christmas, I felt sort of tired of all the busyness and all and, without thinking, I said;  "Ready for the birth of a Savior, or ready with all the gifts the boys are getting?"

Maybe I shouldn't have said that, but, it is certainly worth thinking about...

Happy Christmas, if you don't hear from me before then.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas.13


It's so cute when you try to be trendy and hip with references and stuff, like in this post title.

Did you hear something?  Oh, well...  I need to start a Christmas post but, I've got too much for one post and not enough time to write two and there is some other stuff I want to tell you about and ...

Well, you shouldn't have been so hellbent on that "spoken word" thing you did last time,  it was cute and all, but, dude, it took you, like, six hours to figure it all out.

You!?  I don't remember calling a staff meeting.  Anyway, I'm proud of the way I did all that and finally got it to do what I wanted it to do... with, well, some help, you know, from the dad bloggers group?

Yes and you fiddle-f***ed around there for a couple hours, reading "other" blogs and just generally wasting time.

I know, but, I think it's important to read other blogs, consider what everyone else is doing, be supportive, courteous... it's fun.

Crap! 

Huh? 

That's crap and you know it.  You just didn't want to put your head down and do some work.

I lit the candle, dammit!

Yes, you did light your precious "focus candle" whoopee, but you didn't get much else done.  How on earth could it have taken you so long to download one recording to SoundCloud and upload that to your blog?  It's child's play.

I was "thinking", you'll never get that.  Thinking takes time.  Anyway, if the candle was lit then I wrote a legitimate post, that's, like, a rule.

No it's not!

Is now. 

So I suppose just because the candle is lit now you can justify this twaddle a post as well.

I might... in fact, it's damn fine idea, I'm glad I thought of it.

I thought of it!

You am I... are me.  I am you, no, that's doesn't work.. You are I.  Right, well, perfect.  So we all agree it was my idea to go on with this post in this format.

It's a shitty idea.

You came up with it!

No, just up there you used perfect logic to steal the idea for yourself.  What do you have so far?  Tell me there is more than, just, well... this?

Yes, uh, yes, there is... I have these:




It's The Three Wise Men - Nimis Gr... 

Really?  You capitalize them... doesn't look right.

I don't know, you google it.  Anyway, we'll try it your way, the three wise men; Nimis Grotus hin, Whitestorm and the orange one.  That's funny, right?  You know, a little joke on the curious names of the three kings, uh, I think it's, uh ... 

Just a sec, folks, he has to google it ...

You don't have to tell them that, jeez.  Here it is...  Gaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior. I think it's funny, it says here that they aren't really named in the bible, only their gifts are.  Oh, it says that each gift symbolizes and foretells an event in the life of Jesus and...

We all know that.  It's a wonder you ever mange to get anything written.  Okay, it's a cute idea, but...

But what?  It's Christmas and here are adorable little misnamed wisemen, what could be wrong with this? 

Well, it would be great for Epiphany, but that's not for another, uh...

Now, who's looking shit up?

... not until January sixth.  You should use it then.

Look, your right but, it's a technicality, we'll let it slide.

Well, that's your choice but, if it were up to me, I'd just wait. 

Fine, we'll agree to disagree.

I'd never agree to that!

I already uploaded them, they are going to stay.  I'll link it up again on the actual day if that's what you want.

Alright, sorry, fine.  Uh, anything else?

Yes, yes.  Maybe something less secular?

You never get that word right, secular, it means not religious, you understandI'm just trying to help.

You.  Are. Not.  Helping. 

You're not actually going to leave that that way - word, period, word, period, word period.  Dude, that's lame.

Shut up! Would you like to see something more? 

I would, something in a creepy elf, maybe.  All the cool bloggers are blogging about that, what's it called, that "elf on shelf" thingee, you could actually make yourself seem relevant or, God forbid, hip.

I am too hip... no, no I'm not.  Creepy elves I got:







I like that first one, the one on the left...

Do you mean the one on top, Nick's?

They should be side-by-side...

You know I have a lot of trouble doing that here on this Blogger thingee.

Okay, it's just that it all gets very linear when you just list all the images in a row.  I am just sayin'...

See! Now it's all messed up and the bus will be here soon and I have a couple more things I wanted to say and...

 So, uh, Zack's, over there on the right, well his looks more like a misguided cookie, like in that story, uh ...

"The Gingerbread Boy", that book that freaked Nick out in kindergarten.  He does sort of look like him, has sort of that same deranged persona thing going on.  Now, dammit, you've got me off track.  I think they are fine creepy elves, although, actually Nick's, at the top...

...and left...

... seems pretty happy in his finely curled hat and fine finery and all. 

What?  That doesn't even make sense.

How about this, we just call them Christmas elves and move on?

 Well, that's not nearly as funny as "creepy elves."  Which, as we have determined neither is, well, either.

Shut up!  And I'm not gonna cross that one out.

Surely you have something else, something, perhaps, well,  interesting, for instance.

All right... Yes, I have these two images, and they are just right:



A creepy Christmas Nutcracker and a Santa scene drawn on a dreidel?  Yeah, boy, that's the perfect ending for this post.

I thought you liked creepy!?  And it's not a dreidel, it's a, uh, it's, an, uh, whimsical cutout, no, no , I know...  it's an ornament.

I think you should probably call it a day, all these ideas, well, they are sort of falling short, and, as you said the bus will be here soon and...

Wait, I haven't even gotten to the Pièce de résistance, the...

Who says that...?

I do, stop interrupting.  I've got the lists the boys made for Santa, and I know we can agree on those, they are adorable. 

I'm not so sure...

Nick's is on the left and Zack's is on the right:

Don't.

What? 

Just don't.  Please... 

But, it's what I've been going towards this whole time, I mean this whole device was to disguise and deflect the unexpected beauty of those lists, to lessen the impact.  I mean, seriously, it's gonna be the best part. 

You're saying I'm just a device...

Well, it's just that, I mean, it's only been a couple of times, and, uh... you're a good device, a great device really, but...

Dude, I was just kidding. 

Why shouldn't I use the lists, then?  What's your angle?

Listen carefully - those lists and what you will find in your heart to say about them are important and sacred enough to stand alone.  One story at a time, Bill, one story at a time...

Right, thanks, Bill.  Thanks, a lot.


What about a backseat thingee, lighten the mood.

Great idea, how about the one about the warriors. 

I thought you were going to use that for that backwards formatted piece you were thinking about.

Oh, right...

Just use the big list Marci just gave you yesterday, you are hopeless sometimes.

Fine...


From Marci's "... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat ..." 

Don't press 'one' 'cause I have a boomerang in my mouth.

Now that is some good advice...


What about that other thing?

What other thing?

You know, that link to that post you wrote last Christmas.

Oh, that, well... I don't know, maybe tomorrow...

Do you not want to link it because it makes you hurt so deeply every time you think about it? 

Maybe.  Anyway, it makes you sob like a baby every time you read it.

And you don't thing sadness is a part of the season, a part of life.

Well, I understand that it is, but, well... no, I don't think I will.


I will then.  Last Christmas we wrote a piece called O Holy Night.  It was a follow-up to a piece called Chase Kowalski.  The pain and sadness of this tragedy has permanently pierced our collective heart and changed everything, forever.

I wish you wouldn't...

Do you really think anyone is still reading this at this point.  Give 'em more credit than that... Now, thank the nice people in that aw-shucksy-folksy style you think is so clever.

You know, I am so fed up with you right now I could just   You're right, you're right... Thanks for stopping by today folks, and I am sorry for the interruptions, he's sort of an ass...

Hey ...  Happy Christmas, Bill.

Happy Christmas, other-one-me...

Um, are you going to keep that post title?  It's not very good and it looks sort of stupid and...

Shut. Up.

Word, period, word, period.  Lame...





Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nick's Story




Hit play and read along, it's a lot of awesome weirdness.



What makes a kid want to do this?  Hope, I think.  Happiness, yeah.  Imagination, of course.  A sense of safety, yep.

When he reads it, notice the ellipses - he says "dot, dot, dot" -  I might adopt that.  Who knew that ellipses were genetic?

I love this.  I love knowing he does this kind of thing.  I love him dot, dot, dot ...

"He ored like a maneyack" He oared (rowed, I assume) like a maniac.  The misspellings in this are epic, folks, absolutely adorable.  I probably should stop finding his spelling so damn cute and start some spelling intervention.  In our defense, the other kid spells great.


From Marci's "... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat ..."

(At a stop sign when there was a break in the cross traffic for us to go.)

Nick:  Mom!  Hit the exhaustion!


Yeah, well, not quite right there, son ...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Post Oblige


I had planned to do a rather ambitious piece today about Christmas and journeys. I had planned on showing the lists for Santa from the boys and had decided on a giant theme about wholesomeness. I'd even planned to use the phrase Noblessse Oblige and it's opposite Duresse Oblige.

Wouldn't that have been fancy?

But, then I saw something bright and shiny. It made me laugh and feel lighter. Lately, my thoughts have been heavy, grayer... difficult, actually. That's cool, you understand, we should all dwell where we need to, that's fine. But, sometimes – more often than not – you just need silly and easy and delightful and, well, true.

These are from the backseat of my truck.  I've long advocated a ready arsenal of crafty crap, pencils markers, all that, so, a while back, when I encountered, buried in a box of blog fodder carefully preserved memories, a couple of old journals the boys had started in kindergarten, I grabbed them and, long sentence short, I chucked them in the backseat.  Well, they found them and had a grand old time, uh, well, basically, making fun of their stupid earlier entries.

Here are the covers:






















For some reason, Zack thought this was hilarious:


We aren't really sure what that script part says - "enesis" Zack thought - but for some absurd reason, he thought this was funny.  Yeah, I get it, it is funny.  Sweet funny, good funny, simple funny.

Nick's journal had this which he himself had trouble decoding:


It's really quite simple once you realize that's not an 'o' it is a 'd' and that third word is the most creative and curious spelling of stars "sdors" you'll ever see.

Let's just look at it as he wrote it:  "I Like sDors / sDoRs r BRit / the sDors kuM / AWt At Nieet / I Love sDors / By NiCK."  Honestly I can't help but think, was this his first text?  And, well, why does it read like one of my latenight notes to myself (winky guy).

Underneath it is the cutest little orphan of a handicapped star you ever did see.  Don't you just want to take it home and love it forever?  Cutest.  Star.  Ever.

Here's a page from Zack's:



"kapin Irile" was a true stumper.  But I got it:  "I like to play with you / I like to go with you / Camping (kapin) I really like to / Play with you / I love you and i like / you.

And there's a little picture of a guy in a really cool hat with a crescent moon on it, his arms outstretched smiling under a swirly sun... no, wait, that's a 'C' on his hat and, well, I can't really tell through these tears but, I'm pretty sure that's me. Well, whaddyaknow?  I need a tissue...

This was in Nick's book:


"I like me, my name is Nick."  Yep...

Zack did a stars thing, too:


"I like stars, they are pretty / I love cats they are nice. / I have a guitar. / I have a bear (bar). / I have two hands. / My favorite animal is a zebra."  I have two hands, I like that part.

This entry seems sort of odd:


He's right, shaps are fun, and flawrs are prite, and, little boys are perfectly imperfect.

Both boys seem to have devised a hair-brained scheme.  Nick said of his when he found it again, some three years latter:  "What the heck is this?"



Sadly, no one knows what it says, but it is clearly nefarious in concept.

And, speaking of which, this is Zack's plan.  It's sort of hard to explain, but, it is on two pages, beginning on the right side of the portfolio, and, uh, there is half a page torn off and it flips, left in this case, to make the top half of the second part of the scene...  Right:





















All that matters is there, at the bottom on the left, dude lands on his head.  That's hilarious... you know what?  Is it a frog?  That's even funnier.

Nick did an octopus:


... Beecus (duh) ocdupasis.  (I love the sword thingee.  What the hell?)

Just a couple more and I'll get to my point.  That's funny, like I planned to get to something...

"Her name is grace..."



I love Muthe NaChr (Mother Nature) too, Nick.  And I hope someday we all have cloud hands...


Now, let's fast forward a little more than three years and see what they are doing in their journals now.  Here's Nick's latest, written on the way to and while waiting at the dentist:


"Plowing on a Wednesday"  (a Poem)

Plowing on a Wednesday at 5:00AM, Milkin the cows galowr (unknown) eating bacon, sladuring
 (slaughtering, that's pleasant) pigs.  My dads in love with a pig named Glove (WTF!), great plow Ox named Box, theres a fox named socks hunting grubs not rugs.  Penut butter and jelley my favrot spaggety its right after lunch and I have a hunch pizza for dinner, yummey and i'm a dummey no pizza out hear deer i'll hunt deer Gee I'm filled with glee I see a deer with a big ear  I hunt it I boil it I cook some stew yummey galoo I go to bed with a cofey (comfy) pillow to rest my head, good night.  By Nick

Holy cow!  When he read it to us it had sort of a rap beat that morphed to the tune of B-I-N-G-O.  True story ...

Somehow, in some bizarre separate reality, Nick's poem inspired Zack to write this:



"Plowing on a friday"  (I believe that is a musical staff above the title.)

I live on a farm / with corn on my arm. /  And lettuce where they met us. / The fox named Sox is making / a fus and I must be / wrong cause The plow / went Ding Dong!  While where (we're) / plowing on a Friday. /  The fog is around.  On satur - / day with a hog in a bog

This was sung to a rather medieval tune not unreminiscent of Greensleeves.

Shit got weird don't you think?

Honestly, the funniest part was how brutal they were on their old selves, somehow I find that sort of strange, but, I know the feeling.  In fact, just recently, I made the mistake of thinking I was done, had reached a place, a destination.  But, like Nick's orphaned "sdor" I still have a lot of growing to do, even if I am all nice and sparkly.


From Marci's "... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat ..."

"You know what should be an Olympic sport? Pillow fighting."


Winter or Summer?  That's all I'm askin'...


Thanks for stopping by here today, the road is strange, long, and so very, very beautiful, I appreciate you sharing it with me.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Destination Road


We must all come to understand our faults, and, in so doing, they can become assets.  For instance, I think I have a problem with destinations.  I don't get that, uh, them...  I never really want to get there, wherever it is I'm going.  Or, even more frustrating, just before I reach my destination, I change my mind about it.

I don't really dig completion.  It seems so, well, complete.  Not to say I haven't finished things and been satisfied with them and all that, but, sometimes the words in an old journal, an old picture, a simple jolting memory will take me back to something I assumed at the time was complete but, now, with the memory in the present, I realize there is so much more the previously finished thing has to teach me.  A perfect proof for the notion that most things are never truly done, we never really meet our destination, whatever, whenever, whomever they might be.

That's some convoluted thought right there, isn't it?  Let me try to make it a bit more concrete.

On Sunday, I was welcomed into full Communion with The Catholic Church.  I converted to Catholicism.  Wait, what?  That's a pretty big story there, isn't it?  Yeah, it is.

But, that's not the story I want to tell.  I haven't reached my spiritual destination, yet.  That's what I want to tell you.  I have been journeying toward yesterday for a long, long time.  Anyone who knows me knows that I did not make this decision lightly, easily, or frivolously - if that were the case I would have done it long ago.  No, I gave it lots of consideration; I read, I asked, I prayed, I listened, I noticed.  All along the long, long way.

I read poetry and philosophy, books on wildness and men, I read them because I was afraid I might forget them if I became a Catholic.  I was wrong.

I asked a lot of people what they thought and I got a lot of negativity, and only a little bit of hope.

I prayed, a lot.  I am no stranger to prayer so, honestly, that lifted me.

I listened in places new, between the real conversations.  That helped.

I noticed, I saw little things I'd never seen before.  I saw the hope where I'd never seen it before, I saw...


(I have been working on this post now for two days, and, I can't get it right.  I have deleted four times what you have read up to here.  I have agonized over whose feelings might be hurt if I said this or, to be honest, didn't say that.  I am going to do something I haven't really done before around here, publicly, at least - give up, let it go...)


I expressed a lot of doubt to a friend of mine, a priest if it matters, as we stood outside, feet up on a split rail fence on the grounds of the Seminary he runs.  "I'd have never guessed this would happen," I said, "I'd have never bet on this."

"And yet, here you are," was his quiet answer.

Yes, here I am.  I guess it all doesn't have much to do with the boys and all that, but, it occurs to me, it is something they will remember, something that happened on their road to adulthood, and...

That's my point.  I am on a journey.  This Sunday was hardly a destination for me, as I mentioned before very little is.  No, I want people, Nick and Zack especially, to understand that I am on a trip, a journey through so much known and unknown.  The road, high and low, muddy and rutted, paved and stone, happy and sad, painful, hurtful, silly, unjust, plain and wonderful, the road is my destination.  It's where I meet you, them, myself and, in all that, I am finding God.

I feel certain a day will come when I will share more of my journey in faith but, for some reason, I have found it all very painful, revealing even this much.  But, there is one story I want to tell you today.

I was challenged to pray daily in my search for an answer to all of this and, on the Friday before I was to be confirmed I got an answer.  A silly little answer.  I small trinket of understanding.  One miniscule missing piece.  I was praying, kneeling in the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel at the church we attend.  I was floundering in prayer, as I often do.  I was restless, scared, sad, sure of only my uncertainty when, in sheer desperation, I reached for a prayer book under the little desk and kneeler I was at.  It was a simple book, Prayers of Adoration, or something like that, I opened it and this fell out and landed with a pleasant little "tink":




It's a tiny little butterfly.  And it made me weep, and hope, and love and give thanks.



I'll just leave it at that.  Thanks for stopping by.  For all, and there are many, who find this whole thing incredulous, especially coming from me, well, step onto the road with me, I can point out a few beautiful things, I promise.  Let's all journey together.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sellabrashin Day Post


(Something seems wrong with that title but I can't seem to figure it.)

Here are a couple of turkeys with Thanksgiving haiku written on their bellies.  Don't see that every day now, do ya?























Anyone who has taken a look around these parts know that Nick's spelling is a great source of both amusement and frustration for me.  That being said...

Sellabrashin day
Grandparents are coming hear
the stuffing is good
(Nick)

Falls the best season
Frost is coming very shortly
Happy thanksgiving
(Zack)

If you tried to misspell 'celebration' a don't think you do any better.  And, for the record, in Zack's mind "very" is only one syllable - he was, well, pretty adamant about that.

Nick, no stranger to writing poems, also wrote this on Thanksgiving morning and read it - too quickly and inaudibly, I'm sad to say - at dinner, later that day:



Rhyming
By Nick Peebles
Rhyming is timing, chicken pot frying.
Snowing in July, a nice rhyme would be growing.
Chicken pot frying, hot when crying.
Boiling
Bubbling, nice hot stew.

Yummy in my tummy.
Nice hot stew.

I am no stranger to poetry, I've done my papers and had my discussions.  I've read more than many and, well, if someone told me this was a poem by William Carlos Williams or Robert Frost, well, I just gotta say, I'd believe them.

Honestly, I've been laughing at my sophomoric-past-self analyzing this poem.  That first line, well, rhyming is not timing, but timing is rhythm and the meter in that line is delicious.  Is the second line a well crafted simile, comparing the beauty of snow to the wonder of growing?  Third line?  Chicken pot frying, echoes back that first line and reminds us of the necessities of life, its daily measure and beat.

Boiling, alone, menacing, nice hot stew.  Relax, it is all good.  And then, a break and the silly childhood aphorism, the one no one forgets, the one we still smile at - yummy in my tummy, so well placed and needed.  Nice hot stew, what an ending.  It's quite a little ride this poem, pastoral somehow, important.  It really goes at one's senses, doesn't it, that comforting aroma of chicken floating behind thoughts of domesticity and scenes from home.   Sort of his ode to Williams' "Red Wheelbarrow" don't you think?

Of course, I'm joking, but - it's not a long leap of imagination to think that this is how carefully and fully Nick chooses his words.  It's a lovely poem and, I will cherish it always, with just the same heart and hope as I do the great poets of my memory.  Oh, and I am pretty sure, most of the great American poets made little pictograms with construction paper and tape and stuff, but, unfortunately, they are all lost to the ravages of time.  But, we all understand it is a great literary tradition, right?


Well, thanks for coming around again and thanks for your support.  During the last month I had given a great deal of thought to what direction I wanted to go around here.  I guess, I've decided to just see what happens.  For now, since I took a month off from posting and explaining the essential, childhood nonsense I so adore from these boys, I find myself with a backlog of silly, joyous, touching, serious, stupid stuff, so, I'll get back to that for a while.

Oh, and this guy says "hi."  I literally found him in the bottom of the basement trash can, under the liner, sticking his tongue out at me and winking... sort of.


(Oh... the plural of haiku is... haiku.  Who knew?)


From Marci's ... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat ...

Nick: "We get to do Christmas at Nana and Papa's, at our house, AND at Grandma's ... it's EPIC ... we get lots of presents that way."
Mom (jokingly): "Cause it's all about the presents, right?"
Nick: "No! I mean, I like God too!"
*back-pedaling, back-pedaling*
LOL


I adore the word epic, and the boys use it so well, cracks me up every time...




Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Swansongs and Renaissance Boys


I've started it a hundred times probably.  "It is with great regret..." or "In the interest of my personal sanity I feel I must close..." or "Sometimes, it seems, all the stories have been told..." or even "It has come to my attention that I actually suck at this and to escape further embarrassment..." and "Swansongs are easy, comedy is hard..."

I planned on citing busyness and time, my lack of business acumen and digital savvy, the limits and questionable permanence of this medium as reasons to not continue.  I worked up some great justifications - based solely on fear, it occurs to me - about risk and protecting the boys from the big mean world.  A fear of actual success falls in here somewhere as a reason to not go on.

I put a lot of emotional and intellectual effort in this little corner of the universe, and that can be, actually, physically taxing.  I am worn out.  I feel as though a great party is coming to an end, an epic party, but, alas, all my old and new friends must leave, called away to their place; I feel the music slowly fading out, although it was so loud; the booze, though it was strong and free-pouring, has finally run out; I feel the early throes of dawn and I sense I must move on.

I've said to myself that I have learned the lessons I needed to learn here.  I've learned to watch and savor what the boys do.  I learned to watch them, their faces, their hearts, their souls, as they consider this life which they must learn to live.  I've learned to see things differently, I really have.  I've learned to think about love more deeply or, more accurately, I have come to understand the bottomless depth of love and the soaring heights of hope.  All because of two little boys and the call I had to tell you about them.

I entered into this month with a sense of wildness.  I felt the winds of change, and feared them.  Wildness scares me - my own, that is - and I was afraid of what I might find myself doing.  At the beginning of the month, I had decided that I must be done here.  There were a few things I needed to get done, some final stories to leave you with, a laugh or two, and, a heartfelt goodbye and an even deeper thank-you.  It seemed so wild and freeing to let this go out into the winds of time and hope for its best.

 But, you know what?

I am really not too busy, in fact my life meanders pretty slowly and freely; I've got the time.

I've never been afraid of effort, taxing or otherwise and, as Robert Earle Keen says, "The road goes on forever and the party never ends."

Only a fool would think he's has learned all a boy could teach him and I do not suffer fools.

There are always more stories to tell, and the wilderness is a helluva a good place to tell them from.

It's funny, one evening, one event, really coalesced my thoughts and focused in me a new resolve, a renewed vision, a different destiny.  Do you mind if I tell you about it?


(It's funny, after all this time, all these posts, all these words: I still can't figure how to start a story. Jeeze, I do still have a lot to learn.)

After dinner one night Zack wanted to show Marci how to make the paper owls they learned to make in school that week.  He began and, of course, Nick got started on one as well.  It, well, snowballed.



They were so proud to show their new found knowledge of owls.  Dioramas were necessary, obviously, to showcase their owls and serious crafting skills:



Somewhere in all this, in one moment, as we - Marci and I - were savoring the uncanny absurdity of it all I realized I must go on here.  For one thing, what other forum would I capture these moments in?  A scrapbook - mine are forgotten in a chest, lost to the deterioration of time.  Photo albums?  Again forgotten?  My own memories?  Inaccurate at best.  So, although so very flawed, this space on the Internet is where I choose to leave these love notes and pictures and, in all honesty, a big piece of my heart.

The final owl presentations were recorded, here they are:

video

video


Sometimes I like to think about all the different things the boys like to do - the crafting, the cutting, the coloring and pasting; the sporty things, the ball throwing, the made-up-backyard-games, bike-riding, stone throwing, hiking; the singing and recorder-playing the music appreciation the love of beauty, all that and so much more.  They notice a beautiful sunset, watch the setting moon, look at a cat or a dog with deep adoration.  They laugh so wholly and cry so fully.  They shape hope into dreams, they battle foes with sticks and imagination.  They play computer and video games and when told to stop pick up a book or a pencil and take their minds to another place.

They are Renaissance Boys... and I am so very proud of them.

Why would I ever stop showing them that?


I heard Nick say this as I passed their bedroom door, I don't know the context and... I don't care:

"...and we could hang them like kites from the ceiling and everyone would know they were dreams..."

I hope someday I can say something as beautiful as that...


As always, thanks for coming by.  I am going to continue on here at IHIWAT and, honestly, that surprises me.  My life always seems to surprise me and, well, that's pretty cool.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nananananananana, Thatman


I don't really want to be "that guy," you know, the one always showing off and bragging about his kids.  The guy that talks only about his kids, as in when asked 'what's up' he starts telling you about his kids.  I don't want to be the guy so focused on his sons that he forgets that he can still be himself, and not just someones dad.  I don't want to be that guy that shows funny pictures and tells you heartfelt stories, teary-eyed and earnestly, forgetting along the way, that he had once dreams and aspirations of his own.  I don't want to be that guy that lives through his kids...

I choose to be "that man" instead.

I honestly gave some thought to this, for once.  I took a look back through a lot of the nearly two-hundred-and-eighty posts I have laid down here and, overall, I don't think it sounds too braggy, does it?

I mean it's not really bragging if I show you something, like, say... the giant-ass LEGO scene they conjured and cobbled together with pieces from dozens of different sets.  It wouldn't be bragging because I would tell you that the boys spent hours on it inspired by the LEGO magazine they get.  I'd tell you that they wanted me to take a picture of it to send in to get published in that esteemed periodical.  I might go on and on about the nature of heartbreak, how I knew that it would most likely not be used - for one thing Zack looks demonic in it and Nick is, well, upside-down - but it's fun to try and such and all.  I then might point out that all I really want to do is have a picture of it here so they can remember the excitement in sending something in, remember filling out the forms and using cursive to sign their little release forms.  I'd tell how cute and earnest they were choosing the name "Jungle Palace" for it, how hopeful and optimistic.  It wouldn't be bragging then, right?


It is pretty cool...

It wouldn't be show-offy to show, say, a couple of interesting crayon drawings that I think are ushering in a new era of a more symbolic style art, a tentative, exploratory foray in to personal iconography and metaphoric thinking.  It wouldn't sound like too much of a boast if I wrapped some fancy words around it and tied it up with thoughts about hopes and dreams.





















Nick did "Dragon-Fly At Noon"and Z did the, well, other one...

It wouldn't be bragging to show a paper dragon that Zack made because I could introduce it with the notion of invention and necessity and how, improvisationally, he came to invent the leaf-spring on which his majestic dragon hovers as if in midair, so convincingly brilliant.  But, it wouldn't be bragging because I wouldn't have to tell you the genius of what he did because it is so obvious. 


I'd just be being silly if I added this image and told a little story like...

I asked Nick what he was making after he'd been working on this orange construction paper and string creation for over an hour and he said:  "I do not know, I think it might be a Christmas ornament."  I could hide my boastfulness in a chuckle, and, perhaps, I'd add something about  mindfulness, being in the moment and the profound art of unitasking, which he is so very good at.



If I were to over-analyze an image, dissect it a bit, poke a little fun at it, find wonder in it; if, say, it were a quick sketch of what appears to be a rocket girl a snow suited girl a snowman, uh, girl a Rockette a figure, it wouldn't seem like I was bragging on it.  Would it?  I could ask myself why it seems feminine to me and why, for what strange reason, is she, well, sorta hot?  I could vamp a bit about Earth Mother imagery and, feminine mystique, and happiness and no one would think I just think it's a really great image and I wanted you to see it...


It wouldn't be showing off Zack's mad math skills if I showed you a difficult equation that he figured out because, I'd just say self-deprecating things about how I'd never be able to do it the way he did it and how he is being taught a far deeper and more accessible style math than I ever was.  I could laugh off my jealousy and make you wonder how much you truly understand math.


Seriously, could you do it that way...  now, see, that sounds braggy.

I could show this cool "storey bord in comic form" that Nick came up with.



We could have a laugh or two at his poor spelling:  "creashion" for creation, "asosheashion" for association.  I could chuckle at what is not his first adobe church with three crosses, and his curious habit of writing upwards when he works in graphic novel form.  None of that would be too boasty, just fun.



But, on this one panel, if I were to show it to you - yeah, I'd be bragging, because I am proud and stand in awe at the beauty and love and understanding and creativity and empathy that is in the heart of all children:


Well, so, is what I am doing here a sort of bragging?  Yeah, I guess it is, but, I am trying beyond measure to justify it and make it seem like I am not.

I still don't know what's going on in Marci's backseat so, here's a visual something you don't expect...


What makes it so odd is that is clearly a tsunami wave not a "blizzerd" and, I feel confidant, Nick might have been able to spell tsunami correctly, I mean, it already seems misspelled ...

Thanks for popping in today, I hope I didn't seem too smug.