Thursday, February 28, 2013

Who Keeps Chuckling?

I've got some great odds and ends from the trusty book-bags today.  Abe Lincoln and some facts, from Nick:

"He was shot," and "he careyed evrething in his hat"

Why we "sellabrat" President's Day:

I've been talking a lot about how different the boys are, case in point, here's a story Nick wrote in class:

And here's the same assignment from Zack:


I have a little more to say if you could stick around for a little longer.  There's a cute "from the backseat" today...

There is an old saying:  "You plan; God laughs."  It's Yiddish, so they say, but I'd guess every culture, every religion, has had its equivalent, because it is a truth.

Now, since I have a cartoon imagination - which makes me silly - I see a kindly Old Testament God, smiling and shaking his head, looking not unlike Santa Claus, mouthing 'no' to my plans.  He doesn't seem mad, maybe a little bemused, but for the most part he seems kindly.  I sense from him that he knows better, he'll hook me up with what I need.  I think that look of bemusement stems from my inability to understand that, yet...

I try to post here on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  I also started adding a retrotoast post on Thursdays.

That was the plan.

It's Thursday today, I didn't post yesterday and, in all honesty, hardly anyone looked at the retrotoasts when I did that, so I'll just post this today.

Often, as I write these posts I come to an awkward crossroads.  I want to tell they boys something, but here you are, my current reader, and I worry that you'll think less of me.  Here's the thing, this blog has no real value.  If I were to put a number on it, it would begin with negative, for now at least.

Right now though, my real value is what I have been contracted to do; why, in real terms, I deserve to be fed.  How, you could say, I earn my keep.  Right now, the laundry needs switched, the sheets in the dryer need to go back on the boys' beds.  I have to vacuum the floors upstairs and need to do the basement as well.  I need to run to two stores.

Someday though, these words, this effort here on this blog, might be more important than all that stuff combined.  When I first started taking care of the boys I remember thinking that I should remember this thing or that thing, mostly to tell them about it, but also to store it in my heart.  I don't, didn't, maybe, and now I wish I'd had a way to do it.  Here, now, I have the opportunity to do that, make memories.

But it takes time, and it takes a plan.

(Who just chuckled?)

So, daily, I ask myself these kinds of questions.  I can't write this post as I sweep and change sheets.  Yet, I can't determine which has more value.  I know that my family and friends enjoy what I write, and I am glad for that.  I know someday these words will mean something to my sons, I've been all through that, I get that.  But, homes must be cleaned, lawns mowed, screens replaced, dinners planned, groceries bought.  Light-bulbs must be changed, wood split, clothes folded, floors scrubbed.  It's an endless list, constantly changing, and, I am the one who is to do it.  That's fact.

Perhaps the hope that N and Z will need this - this message from the past - someday is a fiction.  And, that is why it's difficult to prioritize, and, when I do, the real stuff, the stuff with tangible results, the, as I see it, necessities, always seems to win out.

I consider the consequences of this sometimes and, I don't always like them.  It's as though I choose the material over spiritual, reality over dreams, existence over hope.  And, that's not what I preach.

I have written a number of songs in my day, some good some not-so-good.  There are many my wife likes and several that my sons like.  I play perhaps a hundred or more covers and have forgotten twice that number I'd guess.  The pleasure that music and song-writing has given me over my life is immeasurable.  It made me friends, helped me understand myself, got me laid, showed me the power of words and chords, encouraged my wife to say yes, opened my mind to horizons I never imagined, and yet...

And yet, the other day, I had a great idea for a song, a sweeping five verse extravaganza exploring the changes and influences of five decades of my life.  A chorus came to me, parts of verses, images and rhymes and...  I walked away from it.  I didn't have the time to give it.  It's shameful and sad and it happens all the time.

Maybe, "God plans and I laugh."

Maybe, "God speaks and I don't listen."

This dilemma is not unusual, I'd guess.  The obvious choice is to do the stuff that needs to be done and do your best at creating things in the few stolen hours you may get.

I feel the need to clarify something.  It's not that I don't have any free-time, because I do.  However, that "free" time is punctuated with with phone calls and laundry changes and pizza dough timers and sweeping and shopping and, well, you either get it or you don't.  When I am concentrating on the words I write or the songs I sing I am not considering time, I am considering the words I am writing or the song I am singing.  It doesn't occur to me to do it quickly, or efficiently.

I have been angry lately, that anger that bursts out of frustration, and I think I may know why.  And the reason why is embarrassing, trite, unforgivable even:  I'm not getting my way.

Have you ever seen a person stopped still on unicycle or tried to balance a rake upright on the palm of your hand?  Balance is not static, the unicyclist makes small adjustments to stay still; the rake seems still, but, soon you are running behind it trying to keep it upright.  Balance takes work, energy.

Maybe I've got the whole thing wrong.  I know that both of the ways I wish to go are right and just.  I teach the boys to celebrate their creativity; I laugh at their silly songs and bad puns, I encourage their writing efforts, I listen to their imaginations and make it clear to them that dreams are important.  I also teach them to take care of their things and to understand that sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

Maybe God is laughing in delight, laughing in pride that you would plan such a thing, dream such a thing, hope such a thing.  I imagine him leaning his head back, roaring and laughing, all the time because he sees where all this is going.  And it is right.

And... I probably am getting my way.

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

Nick, at breakfast: "I think we should have a Reconciliation Party tonight to celebrate."

Mom: "What would you want to do at this party?"

Nick paused for a moment to think, then came up with this gem: "Play Pin the Bible on the Priest."

I believe my response was:  "I'd play that..."

(Thank you for sticking around and be sure to leave a comment, I always appreciate that.)


  1. Bill - Thank you for posting these!!! I love the "things you don't expect to hear from the backseat - and your blog is awesome. Looking ahead to the future, I'm sure N and Z will appreciate having these snippets of thir lives to share with the special people in their families....your thought about the laundry and sweeping reminded me of a poem I read long ago...

    Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow...
    For babies grow up,
    we've learned to
    our sorrow...
    So quiet down cobwebs...
    dust go to sleep...
    I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep!!

    I enjoy your posts!

  2. I really enjoy your blog. as I was reading this post, I wanted to tell you that the value of your writing will someday be much more than just to show your boys what they were like when they were little. It will show them what kind of a person their father was, when they're old enough to want to know you as a person and not just "dad." I sure wish I had something like this to remember my dad by.

  3. "Perhaps the hope that N and Z will need this - this message from the past - someday is a fiction." ABSOLUTELY not. What a gift to give them. I know you would love to have had something like this from your Dad.
    "And, that is why it's difficult to prioritize, and, when I do, the real stuff, the stuff with tangible results, the, as I see it, necessities, always seems to win out." You've got it mixed up.... the REAL STUFF is the stuff of interaction with others, especially your own two young ones. The other can wait.... for a while at least... you've seem the dust in the corners of my rooms. Mary Ann

    1. Thanks MaryAnn, sometimes a vote of confidence is really needed.