Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bluedude, A Retrotoast

I have a lot of posts that I would guess no one has actually viewed.  It turns out there is a little doojahickey thingy here on Blogger that tells me that many of my early posts went, shall we say, unnoticed The decision I had to make is whether to link back to them or show them again in their entirety.  The answer follows, shown originally in May of 2012.


 I am digging this guy:

You might remember him flying his jet in my very first post Ain't It True.  This time N drew him.

I really like this color palette, the blues and turquoises, a little red to rosy his cheeks, accent the sun and draw attention to the flowers he is holding.  I am not sure why he is wearing Paul Revere's hat and I have never been able to truly trust people in bunny slippers, but, I really do dig this guy.  (He strikes me as Swiss, as if he's preparing to yodel about his missing suspenders and his ironically large buttons.)

Here's the thing; there is more to it than just Bluedude.

Bluedude is what I get for not having much to do in my truck (he was drawn on the way to church on the little black sketchbooks the boys have in the backseat). 

Bluedude springs from imagination of a happy kid and an idle mind.  Giving kids nothing to do is probably one of the greatest gifts we can give.  Filling their days with endless practices and the like denies them the time they so urgently need to do nothing.

Bluedude is happy, nearly all the boys protagonists are happy, it's only the bad guys who frown.  Happy faces = happy boys, in my mind.

Bluedude is the result of something big; the time and energy we have put into making them feel safe and happy, nourished and nurtured, loved and respected.

Bluedude is officially my mascot, his arms forever wide open, silly hat on his head, flowers in his hand, a smile on his face... and bunnies on his feet.


In my mind I sort have a little explaining rationalizing bullshitting to do.  I talk about this blog being for the boys; how I want them to have something real and honest to look back on, a legacy if you will; how I so desperately want them to know and understand how very deeply and profoundly they were loved and cherished; how I noticed how perfect their imperfections, how worthy their efforts and failures.

Yeah, well, that's true, but...

Listen, here's the thing - recently, some people on the innerwebs have been very kind to me, complimentary even and, well, I like it.  People have been looking at my posts and commenting and noticing me and, well, I like it.  I personally feel like I'm getting better at understanding what I am doing here and, well, I like it.

Guilty as charged.

So, on Thursdays (it is Thursday, isn't it?) I am going to keep running these 'retrotoasts' and see if  anyone likes it.  I often look back at past posts and, nearly always, I think, damn it's a shame no one saw that, or I'll laugh again at the image presented, at  the sheer silliness that I like to showcase, and think yeah, I should run that one more time.

Thanks for taking a look, again...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

If You Didn't Know Me

I have probably mentioned the Dad Bloggers group on Facebook which I am a part of.  I even have the little logo-y thing over there underneath my popular posts widget.  It is a great group and there are so many fantastic blogs and such enterprising and hardworking and involved Dads and...  I wish I'd never heard of it. It makes me feel inferior and unsuccessful, naive and well-intentioned to the point of embarrassment, homespun and hickey, pedestrian.

I may have made a mistake early on in this experience: you see, I was well-positioned to have an anonymous blog; an obscure title, somewhat generic content, a blundering style and a conversational tone.  However, I didn't think to make up a pseudonym or use a different e-mail account than my own, so, rather quickly and with little forethought, I outed myself.  If I had to do it over I might have, gone anonymous that is.

If I had, I would be able to say some things that I am not comfortable saying since everyone knows who I am.  Stuff about being a SAHD, perhaps.  Like the other day when N said that he would like to either be an animal doctor or "stay at home and take care of my kids, like Dad does" and all I could think was:  worse pickup line ever, as in never tell a girl you are interested in that.

Yes, that's how I really feel, I guess.  Sometimes, when you are in the middle of something, you can rationalize your way into liking it.  Like joggers who say they love running, or kids who say they love sledding even though they are freezing their asses off.  I tell people all the time that I enjoy being an At Home Dad, a house-husband, a SAHD.  I used to tell people I was "the Stay-at-Home-Dad I never dreamed of being."  True that.  When it's all said and considered and thunk-out, I do like my life, albeit a life I never considered, and I am good at it.  I feel good in my role, I just wish more of you could feel good about me being in it.

If I had decided to remain anonymous, I would be able to tell you how unspeakably overwhelmed by my own aging I have become.  Nobody talks about it much, so I don't.  If I did though, I'd tell you about looking in the mirror and not recognizing the face and then, heartbreak when you realize it's you.  I would tell you how the daily aches and pains and the fear of hurting myself stupidly (like dislocating my shoulder skating or rupturing a tendon in my calf dancing) again, keep me from doing things I would like the boys to see me do.  I might mention the hurt I feel when people assume I am the boys' grandfather.  I have seen men wince at the notion of being my age with young  boys.  I might tell you that I feel a bit ashamed that they have an old man for a father.

I am not aging gracefully.  I am afraid to admit out loud that my hands hurt so badly, sometimes it is difficult to play guitar, and that breaks my heart.  I have noticed that sometimes, instead of asking "What's next?" as I did as a young man, these day I ask myself "What's over?"  Is this the last time I should get on the roof, is this my last gig, is that dream of a tree-house for the boys just folly?  Is this the last time a girl will notice me, or the last time a young person will respect me.  I might confess that I see my failings more than I recognize my promise any more.  I would tell you that it is tough to age, the body fails and the dreams grow dim.  Sad.

If I were unknown to you, I could tell you that twice in the past week a song has made me cry.  The first time I was doing laundry and this song, Stuff that Works, by Guy Clark buckled my knees:


I've always let myself cry, I think it's important.  I have heard this song before and have always related to the curiously joyous lament that is this chorus,

Stuff that works, stuff that holds up
The kind of stuff you don’t hang on the wall
Stuff that’s real, stuff you feel
The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall 

But on that day, the line that hit me was:

That's the kind of stuff I like to be around.

I cried because it validated how I feel about so much today; so much that doesn't seem to be working, so many policies and gadgets and misconceptions that serve us poorly and with so little satisfaction.  I know that to defend myself against the slings and arrows of the twenty-first century, I have to fall back on the stuff that works: love and kindness, crayons and pencils, discipline and self-respect, butter and bacon, integrity and courage.  And, I guess in joy or awe or praise, I wept at knowing there are still truths worth weeping for.

The other song came at me from the past as I was cleaning the baseboards in the dining room.  This song, Poems, Prayers and Promises, by John Denver:

These are the lyrics as I learned them in nineteen-hundred-and-seventy-five, hunched over an out-of-tune red starburst guitar, on a bed, in my room, in the quiet that is a house in the country:

I've been lately thinking
About my life's time
All the things I've done
And how it's been
And I can't help believing
In my own mind
I know I'm gonna hate to see it end

I've seen a lot of sunshine
Slept out in the rain
Spent a night or two all on my own
I've known my lady's pleasures
Had myself some friends
And spent a night or two in my own home

And I have to say it now
It's been a good life all in all
It's really fine
To have a chance to hang around
And lie there by the fire
And watch the evening tire
While all my friends and my old lady
Sit and pass the pipe around

And talk of poems and prayers and promises
And things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone
How right it is to care
How long it's been since yesterday
And what about tomorrow
And what about our dreams
And all the memories we share

The days they pass so quickly now
Nights are seldom long
And time around me whispers when it's cold
The changes somehow frighten me
Still I have to smile
It turns me on to think of growing old
For though my life's been good to me
There's still so much to do
So many things my mind has never known
I'd like to raise a family
I'd like to sail away
And dance across the mountains on the moon

I have to say it now
It's been a good life all in all
It's really fine
To have the chance to hang around
And lie there by the fire
And watch the evening tire
While all my friends and my old lady
Sit and watch the sun go down

And talk of poems and prayers and promises
And things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone
How right it is to care
How long it's been since yesterday
What about tomorrow
What about our dreams
And all the memories we share

It's weird to think that this song would end up making me sob as I scrubbed yogurt off a baseboard, some forty years later.  What drew me to this song (besides getting to mention passing pipes around) when I was fourteen years old?  What right had I to even sing it?  It seems so simple, perhaps trite even, now, but it was such a hit in those day that there's even a Muppet version.  I was so struck by the poetry and imagery, I had to learn to play it myself.  Back then it seemed a promise of dreams fulfilled and beauty of a poetic life lived, today it seems like a prayer of thanksgiving for the same.   So I cried at time around me whispers when it's cold and  I'd like to raise a family I'd like to sail away, And dance across the mountains on the moon.  How could I have known that this song would remain embedded deep in my soul and would reemerge just when my heart needed it most?  Stuff that works...

If I had decided to remain anonymous I could rant and rave about things that I deserve to rant and rave about but don't, because it's ugly.  I could make fun of my kids and say how they drive me to drink wine and piss and moan, but I don't, because it's ugly.  I could tell salacious stories and drunken, hilarious anecdotes, but I don't, because they're ugly.

If I could tell you something and you'd never know it was me, I'd tell you about how hard this all is.  Writing is difficult and time consuming for me, I gather not so much as others, but for me it is.  I am often overwhelmed by the words that appear on the screen before me; at the ideas I realize as I watch a ballgame on a hot, lonely summer night.  I'd try to explain how I feel like I am just given the words or, thief-like, I capture them as the fly by.  I'd tell you that the truths I find out about myself as I write are difficult and yet magical, terrifying and hopeful.

If no one knew who I was, I wouldn't feel guilty about the length of this piece.  I wouldn't feel embarrassed at mentioning John Denver, I wouldn't feel a sense of dread knowing I have admitted these things to you.  I wouldn't worry about how many people read this, or whether my peers would like it or laugh at it or blow it off.  I wouldn't feel so exposed and vulnerable.

But, I do own all this.  You know my name, some of you know me, my boys will come to know me here because this is a public forum.  Strangers will come to know me from these and the other words I have snagged and furtively copied down here.  This holds me accountable.  And, I'll stay on it, this journey, and I'll get mired in the mud of popularity, I'll try to be cool and funny and hip and topical - but, I'll fail and get my feelings hurt and misunderstand and self-deprecate, but through it all, I'll try to remember that I am here to celebrate and honor, cherish and adore, teach and nurture.  I am here to do the stuff that works

There is a poor quality image hanging on a neglected bulletin board above the computer I use.  I seem to notice it every day at some point:

Anonymous or not, I could use this image, and, whether you knew me or not, you'd understand why I do this.

You know what?  Since I do write publicly, everyone will know that I got this award:

Hey, could you do me a favor?  Could you sort of, like, maybe, well... let's just keep this between you and me, alright?


Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Concept Circle (or Not a Spelling Test)

I don't know what it means, I thought you did.  Well let's take a look-see:

Okay, it's an assignment for a seven-year-old so we'll just follow along.  "Write a word and make a picture in each section that goes with the focus word.  In the middle, write the word ______."

What the hell?  Write what word in the middle, I mean it's blank...  Is the word in the middle, the word that goes unspoken, the "focus word?"    What is the concept circle really about and why is the focus word in an oval?  Shouldn't it be "the concept circle around the focus word oval."

I am so glad I am not in primary school these days.  I mean really, this worksheet is very vague.  Lets assume the focus word (jeeze) is depend.  Apparently we define it, making it focus words, plural, in an oval.  "Count on, trust in" - well, that's good.

Now, I can only assume, because I do not understand the assignment, that we circle the focus word(s) with concepts about the word...  oooohkay. 

We'll start there upper left quadrant with "anblans" which I can only assume is ambulance, but, screw spelling tests, we are working on a concept circle, whatevs...  Alright, it is an ambulance, obviously one from an episode of M*A*S*H, that Red Cross is a real giveaway.  Yes, we can depend on rickety, nineteen-fifties medical transports.

Next we have "bandad" which I always assumed was a dad active in the orchestra boosters, however, here it seems to have something to do with blood-spewing elbows and, uh, poop? scabs, yes, right then.  Oh... band-aid well there ya have it.

Next is "Comepuooter," (seriously, a spelling test would have been much more useful here, I have to say, than this twattle).  I am a little baffled by how a computer fits in conceptually with the focus word, depend.  I think 'computer' and 'depend' are antithetical.  Perhaps, because I did not get the full instructions, in this quadrant, we use an opposite like word.

And finally, "pain."  What?  You can depend on pain?  What, are the teaching existentialism and concept circles in some sort of Sartre based curriculum?  Well, at fifty-something, that is true enough, and, if you take a serious look around at the flaws in society, homelessness, childhood hunger and our deplorable infant mortality rate here in the U.S. I guess... wait, those blue pills aren't Vicodins, it's, oh, well, that's awkward.  It's "rain."  Well yes, we do depend on rain, how lovely.

(Good Lord in Heaven, do not google "concept circles" or you will be more thoroughly confused than you already are.)

I still don't get it.  All I can assume is that they are preparing our youth for the eventuality of being confronted with one of those stupid memes that use interlocking circles to compare toddlers to fraternity boys and Ted Nugent.  I never get those either.  I hope there is a spelling test tomorrow.

I suppose it's fairly obvious that I have lost it here.  The boys have been home all week with the cold/flu, fevers and lots of coughing, acheyness and general lethargy and pissiness.  So I didn't have enough time to do that important piece on "Mr. Mom is Dead" (no not Micheal Keaton, the archaic notion that dads are bumbling idiots) like all the other cool dad bloggers are doing.  Oh, well - maybe some other time... or not.  'Or not' mostly because Zach Rosenberg at 8BitDad did it better than I ever could of in his post "Mr. Mom Ain't Dead (he's just busy with the kids)."

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

N: "I hurt everywhere."

I think the cold/flu season is stalking Nicky

Been there, little buddy, been there...

Monday, January 21, 2013

Stars and Rainbows

The boys have been sick and it's already been a four day weekend and... I am not sure they'll be able to make it to school tomorrow.

I have trouble anymore doing just a quick post here.  I didn't used to.  (Do not look at that previous sentence and say it aloud forty times as I did, just move on.)  I guess as my ideas about what I want to do here have become a little clearer my subject matter may have narrowed.

As I said they may not be going in tomorrow and...

Oh look, here's one now.

Yes, I do want to see the new pet you got in Wizard101, a lot.

You can look at these while I am gone:

Well, you guessed it, I gotta post and run.

I really was going somewhere with these two images, but, I forget where.  I think it had to do with the importance of a well-stocked craft box or the use of color in Post-Modernism Abstract art... oh, well.

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

N: "I keep finding more weaponry."

Z: "Good, just keep it away from the church."

She does not make this sh*t up, I was there and those are the exact words they used...

But, just for fun, I will contextualize the scene a bit.

Nick was digging around in a LEGO box and kept finding this stuff:

And Zack Had built this Neo-classical structure using all these Citi-Blocks, I think they are called:

He kept calling it a church but, clearly, it is a temple.  In any case, this is the "church" he was talking about.

(As God is my witness, when I just went upstairs to get the camera to download the temple picture, this is what I found, hunched over the laptop:

 Of course I asked them to pose:

And, I also nearly slipped on this:

Yep, The Periodic Table of The Skylanders.)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Son Showers

We tried to watch a movie today, Enchanted.  It's pretty benign - not to Nick.

He drew this during the movie to distract himself:

I'm not glad that movies scare him, but I am glad that his heart races when the bad guy, or gal, enters the scene.  I am sorry that we can't watch anything too freaky but I am not sorry that he always wants to be comforted and assured that all will work out in the end.

When he was little we were watching something, I don't recall what, and he went running out of the room screaming "I only like the endings, I only like endings!"  Meaning, of course, that happy place where everything is as it should be.  I still feel that way, I just know that's not always the case.

And I am glad I got this.  We used to call them 'sunshowers' and I still do.  I'm not sure that's a technical meteorological term but, it works for me.  I guess I know that the sun is still shining above even the darkest of storms, the grayest of days, the gloomiest of clouds.  I just forget that.

Thanks, Nick.

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

Z: "Nick, you farted."

N: "No. I did not feel any gas come out of my butt."

Of course this happened at the dinner table and, as god is my witness, I tried not to laugh, I tried not to make eye contact with Marci, but (butt?) I failed...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"Younyin Sematary Rd."

I know I am not supposed to reveal to much about myself here, you know, too much personal information and all that rot, but...

... this is such an great likeness of me, I couldn't resist showing you this.  Maybe I do wear too much Reds gear, oh well.  And yes, damn straight, Mr. Peebles is your Dad...

And there is this:

Yep, it's a Google maps capture satellite image.  That's right out in front of my house on Younyin Sematary Rd.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Post-It Notes

Don't mind me...

I am blogjacking this thing today to do work internally, just the staff and I.  Well, really, I guess I just need someplace to keep a few notes.  Sometimes I have great ideas for posts and stuff and I just need them all in one place so I decided I'd dedicate a day I usually wouldn't post to listing these here, where they'd be handy, you know.

If you want to know the truth, you see...I am technically, uh, naive.  I don't twitter.  I don't even think I have seen an actual one in my life, a tweet, that is.  I know that makes me more than a bit suspicious.  Honestly, I hardly ever text, it seems so tedious.

Also, I don't like to bother people, like right now, I feel like I am bothering you, wasting your time by telling you about how I don't like to bother people.  So, I can't imagine I'd really ever get up the courage to, I do not know the correct verbiage here, compose(?), and distribute(?) a tweet, do I capitalize that?  I just can't figure what I'd say in so few words that would justify interrupting you like that.

I always feel like I text at the wrong time as well.  I'd hate to interrupt a meeting my wife is in with a "boing" or "ribbit" or whatever her text ring is.  I especially don't want to text someone when they are driving, I mean you're driving, sorry, I refuse to accept that responsibility.

But, all that being said:  I do have a phone.  And, believe it or not, I do utilize some of its impressive technology:

Yep, I can use the notepad.  Poorly, indecipherably most of the time.  But I write them down for a reason, I'd guess.  Sometimes late night , or in a hurry somewhere, or in the kitchen, olive oil smoking, fingers greasy.  Lets just say sometimes that little tiny keyboard is APAININTHEASS.  And, I think my memory is getting full, if that makes any sense to any one.

Now somewhere, in an alternate universe I am not capable of understanding, a fourteen year-old could easily transfer these notes to my computer, but, alas I live here, in my world, where nothing technological does it right.  Oh I tried.  I pushed the back of the phone against the PC tower and the printer and tried magic words, I considered for about two seconds removing the card thingee, but it's too small for me to even recognize it as, well, matter.  I even tried a voice command, but it sassed back something about "invalidity" and "accepted commands."

So, honest to God, my first plan was to hand-copy all the notes, and then transfer them as I needed them.  That's what the pad and pencil were for.  However, my handwriting is ridiculous, so I decided that would be fruitless.  The second, only slightly less stupid plan, was to take a picture of each note. I know, go ahead and laugh, there's like sixty of them.  I considered then what may seem to be the only unstupid plan I concocted, writing them all into a document.  But, whenever I try to transfer text from my, dare I say it, Word Document, to my Blogger platform it mysteriously changes.  It's as though it went through some foreign editing exchange program and the fonts and spacing get all messed up.  It's true...

So, this is my not-stupid-but-highly-suspect plan.  I will write them down, here, for posterity and then I can delete, like that's a thing, them off the phone and start over.

In the interest of clarity and for my own sanity, I won't use quote marks, I think italics will do fine.  I don't think we need dates and times either, at least I hope not.  I will go in reverse chronological order, so the first is the most recent and I'll write them down as they appear on the phone, so, I guess just sic the whole damn lot.  You need'nt stay, but, if you can stomach the grammatical massacre to come, stick around.  It might be sort of revealing.

There'ss always something to consider (Well, there you have it, I have no idea what I meant by that... this is going well don't ya think?)

I am an infilltrator an anthropologist (Okay, I can work with that.)

He'll have to know the clutch.  thi ll NOT a car safety  (Yep, that's what it says.)

Lookitlookitlookit turns into "you don't have to watch us Dad  (They were writing in journals on the roof of the shed when this came to mind.)

Things you didn't consider before you had like ethinicity kidss  (Something about Scottish heritage and eyebrows as I recall.)

Karsch photographer.  (I had a grand sweeping plan about coffee tables and Kindles and the library, I think -  and injustice, but it evades me.) 

Creat something posite PIF  ("Posite" is very rare.)

 Primordal diet = ?  (Is this math or... I got nothing.  It seems there was an analogy here somewhere.)

Savor the sentence.  (That's a keeper.)  (Yep.)

Infalilbilty is oxymoronic  (No actually, not so much.)

I FLASHFORWARDED TO 1975  (This one's so good I shouted it, and, actually, I remember what I wanted to do with this; I'd think ahead to when my boys are the same age I was in 1975 and compare that to... well, it fell apart there.)

Ironically, keeping nick from freaking out about the siituation has kept me from having to deaal w/ it  (That was a very bad day.)

Ican put words in row  (Apparently with little or no clarity but as I recall, I was comparing myself to others and decided that at least I could write something.  It seemed important at the time.)

PARTY! vs the verb "partying"  (I can't remember if this was a superhero idea or a noun versus, more accurately, gerund, throwdown.)

It's a gun thing.  (That was a very bad day.)

Stop pulling your gum That's a thing?  (I think this was for Marci's "backseat" project.)

The Education of Ellery St. James  (That's what it says... who knows?)

HEIRLOOM quality post title  (That could go either way, a post title to hand down through the ages, or a post called "Heirloom Quality."  Actually you will see this one soon.)

my mind life is going faster than the sp2ed fconvrsation   (That's hilarious right there, that's a book title.)

About how endearing and painfully odd childhood seems  (That's a little vague...)

Marci library 45445308 (Ooops, just disregard that, that's what the cross-through thing is, you didn't read it did you?)

No voice can hope to hum not evensing  (Bob Dylan songs haunt me and that line has always mesmerized me, " voice can hope to hum.")

You need to look at your naybors as somedodt celebrating something else.  (Expect this one soon as well.)

There's just too much to think about when you aree old 33 44 55 66 77 88.  (Yepsure!)

THE VESPERS (Please let me mean the band and not something creepy.)

God amps up certain things (I stand fully behind that sentence.)

Kowtow to this catholic god with only the bewst intentions.  (I have no idea who put that in these notes, and note the small 'c' catholic...)

Defined life or life defined  (Well now, that's pretty good.  It's a quote I'm sure.)

Modernist cuisine  (It's a book title, or was it an Art term?)

I,ve no right to criticize halloweeeen whats not to like  (Oooh, ooh! I did this one, but I'll be damned if I can find it.)

Onn my way to happinews paving  (Indeed.)

Penn cook forest state park  (It sounds lovely.)

Stumble forward advice you caan what s in front of you. the pask bakwwards is messy.  (As messy as the the pask frunkwards, I would argue.)

Shit that sucked  (I remember writing this, I was sad and thinking about all the things I'd been through, feeling sorry for myself.  I wish there was more here, something redemptive.)

just like yoy  (Norwegian, I'm guessing.)

Vision vs voice rember and think!  (Oh, an exclamation point, something important, no doubt.  Actually I do think quite a bit about vision and voice here.  Oh, I remember, I was thinking that the vision I have here, a memoir and celebration of the boys, is best served in the conversationalist voice I utilize here.  There might be more on that to come soon as well.)

Technology skips and jumps all over itself and milk pries soar. HHd tv s are free but i cant  finid a decent steak.  (Preach it, brother.)

I can pretend  (Yes, Bill, you can pretend.)

Bike codes
bill 4343
z seed
n toad  (This one really has me stumped, some code or cosmic numerology, if I crack it I'll give you a holler.)

I want that picture on the fridge until the day I die.  Flanked by their Sr. picture.  (I promise.)

We wake one of the boys.  don't ask.  sounds... strange  (Ya think?)

Bookjacking  (This one is actually kind of important.  I had the notion that the characters I created in the beginning of a novel I started ten-plus years ago, get tired of the literary limbo they're in and take over the book and, their destinies.)

Some lives are small, containd  (This is true and should be considered more carefully.)

This is happening in real time, waLk with me.  (Now see, this is a good one.  I use a video camera to tape myself as I go into the folder in which I keep drawings and crap the boys did when the were very little, randomly pick a couple things and blog about them.  I don't really have a camera to do that though.)

Essayists = bloggers  ('Nuff said.)

Camper needs: kitchen bags paper plates, ziplocks, plastick cutlery, solo cups  (Some obscure code again, no doubt.)

Novel  "we are taking this thig over."  (See 'Bookjacking' above.)

So, who's gonna write it?  
We all will.
we'll divide it into 4s
the truth, the myth uh, the enotional and the sexual.
I'll take the sexual they all said at the same time.  (ibid.)

Hve you missed me?   (Aw, so cute.)

Balsam Range  (A band.  Vague proof the 'THE VESPERS' thing wasn't so creepy after all.)

Blue nountain (ibid.)

Most of us fall some whhere in between, ?rangew    e  (I am just the stenographer, folks.)

Safety=Love  (I'll go with that soon.)

Bragging, right?  (A play on words I liked, I was going to play with rites and rights, as I recall.)

Holding hands v hands free  (A vague reference to Rachel and her wonderful blog, no doubt.)

How am I gonna explain all this:  Aids reagononics the wpa tolstoy  (I must have used a word randomizer there in that last part.  I mean has anyone every lined those words up before?)

The next riight thing  (It's sort of a mantra of mine, perhaps I should explain that a little further someday.)

Sports helps men show and understand emotions  (I probably wrote this through tears as I watched a beautiful baseball game.)

Your life looks busy and hectic and frankly joyless  (I know what I meant, I probably shouldn't say anything else.)

Wholesolemnity  (A nice word mashup, I think.)

Necer assume  (You'll make a necer out of you and me.)

This whole f**king house is in second grade   (Word.)

Styles of music, not songs  (I'm not sure about this one.)

And fianlly, what seems to be my first note to myself:

Time sensitivity.  what I wwrite is dependent on when Ai think my audience will see it  (This is a difficult topic for me and merits a deeper look.)

So there, I'm done.  I have revisited some good ideas and some real gibberish but, I am glad I did it.

You may wonder I may wonder how I will fit some of these topics around the boys and the sweet nonsense I see from them.  I'll figure something out, hey, I'm a writer artist blogger good bullshitter.

Thanks for staying, that was nice of you...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Who'll Watch the Parade?

I made the classic syllogistic mistake; I joined a club that would have me as a member.  There's a group of Blogger Dad's on Facebook and I find myself included in their ranks.  I posted about them before in this post which has links to some truly great blogs.  Really, I am not sure I am in the right spot.  Compared to some of the other dudes' blogs, mine is amatuer at best, and, I would guess to some of them, pedestrian and dull.

I made a decision to be pedestrian and dull, which I would define maybe as ordinary and thoughtful.  I choose not to take political sides, or discuss religion except in vague non-committal references; I choose not to make tawdry anatomical references or cuss regularly and vehemently; I choose to leave out my college years and struggles with addiction and loneliness.  Also, I choose not to make fun of my kids or write things that they someday might find embarrassing or difficult to understand.

There is no doubt that these are great subjects for bloggers, and, I often wish that I too could, through the veil of anonymity, pursue some of them.  But, if you want to know the truth, I find that kind of posting a little too, well, easy.  It's easy to rant about football and men-hating Mommy Bloggers.  It's easy to make p*nis jokes and rely on sexual innuendo.  It's easy to link-bait and stir up controversy and vitriol and animosity.

(Yeah, this is why I shouldn't join groups; I don't play well with others.)

On the other hand, I think it is difficult, especially for men, to write about their deep love for their children.  Through the words of some of my fellows I have felt the pain of knowing your child is sick.  Through their words I have known the belly laugh that is parenting a toddler, the heartbreak of preschool, the smell of baby shampoo lost, the last diaper.

Writing about love and tenderness is difficult, writing with respect and wonder is difficult.  Acknowledging the pains and joys of fatherhood is a noble, gentle, difficult endeavor.  I will continue to celebrate my children, honor their childhood and remember them as they are today.

After that long intro I wonder if I should even get to the point or just call it a day...

The other evening, I guess it was a Friday, we had leftovers for dinner, you know, a little bit of this, a dab of that.  The boys hate it, but, there is almost always pasta, that's a good thing.  Nick is a fast eater (I try not to look, it's sorta gross) and, after he took his plate and such to the kitchen, he grabbed a piece of paper and a pencil and started drawing.  Z was soon done and he did the same.  After the dishes were cleaned up Marci and I joined them at the table and started drawing along, laughing and chattering and teasing and, well, being a family.

We actually do this with some frequency, just sit at the table and doodle, you know, stuff like this Picasso inspired sketch Z started and that Mom filled in:

Marci also likes to make these adorable wordle thingees, with suggestions from the boys:

Nick made these two owls, a jazz owl and an orchestra owl, I'm not positive who's who:

Zack makes stuff like this, a Ninja guy with a regrettable chest-piece, and a cruise ship:

Nick made this curious pictures of some "Littles" listening to what appears to be a Victrola, I don't know:

I tend more to photo-realism:

I know, these are all masterpieces, right?  Well, not really.  I guess to some they might seem sorta stupid.  But, I'll bet, in ten or twenty or thirty years when these picture reappear, they will remember those simple nights of crafting and drawing, of dance-parties and wrestling, of singing and silliness, fondly.  I know I will.

I guess to some this all seems ordinary... yep, that's my point.

I really and truly believe that in our twentieth-first century pursuit of, how to say this politely, of Pinterest perfection, we step right over the ordinary.  We leave it unacknowledged, neglected and forgotten and we fail profoundly at recognizing its inherent, even paramount, importance.

A better blogger than I, Rachel, wrote a blog post a while back explaining far more eloquently than I the importance of the ordinary.  In "A year of Ordinary Achievement" she explains that her journey from frazzled techno-junky to "Hands Free Mama" has led her to a profound and deep understanding of the quiet, gentle love that is the ordinary.  I have long agreed with her on the notion that the modern devices, cell phones, computers, video games and all the bells and whistles and tweets and twitters that accompany them, as well as the time so many spend managing them, are an invasion of the precious time we have with our children, families and friends.

So, along with Rachel and Neal and Justin and John and Chris and Matt and so many others, I ask you to celebrate the simple, the plain, the sublime, the beautiful, the holy, that is the ordinary - because, I think, that's where love lives.

I grew up in a small rural town here in Ohio and every summer they had a community festival.  All the civic groups and bands and veterans and business had a float, pulled by a tractor, or marched in the parade.  The kids in town, and parents and whoever, really, were invited to decorate their bikes and ride, in an incredibly unruly mob, in the parade as well.

One year, I was maybe nine or ten, I was decorating my bike for the festival and my Dad was watching.  I suggested that he should decorate a bike or march with the church float or something and he said:

"If everyone is in it, who'll watch the parade?"

You were right Dad.  I'll watch the parade.

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

N: "George Washington is in the refrigerator."

Z: "And Martin Luther King is stuck on our roof."

Now that's just weird...

Friday, January 11, 2013

What Is Revealed?

Sometimes, one of the boys comes up to me and asks me to take a picture of some arbitrary object, maybe a finished puzzle, a particularly satisfying Hot-Wheels configuration, a pillow and stuffed animal arrangement, or, something made from LEGOs.

Nick gave me this the other day and was particularly adamant about me taking a picture of it and printing one out for him:

I ask him why and he said, a little rudely, he just wanted one.  So I did it and didn't give it much thought until I went downstairs to get the picture from the camera and print it, and then I took a good look at it.  I got nothing, I flipped it around (which I have tried before) to no avail, I considered it a little too much.  Finally I just decided he must like because it was unusual and pretty and he made it.  Hey, I had to justify it somehow.

 I went back upstairs and handed him the print.  He quickly got a pair of scissors out and cut out just the LEGO shape.  Surely there is a plan here, I kept thinking to myself.  I asked him again and he didn't answer, he was cutting and he only does one thing at a time.  I see he's done and look at him and ask him directly, "What is it?"

"I don't know, I just like it."

And then he adds, "I think it looks like a monkey."

Well there ya go, a monkey, fine... wait... it doesn't look in any way shape or form like a monkey.  I mean, not even vaguely.  Oh well, I just manage the madness, mine is not to judge content.

The other day Nick had about a cubic yard of LEGOs and was making something, carefully, intently, precisely.  I asked him what he was making.

"I dunno..."

Okay, I guess.  It just seemed like he had a plan.  I let it go and went back to the kitchen where things make sense.

About six breaded chicken cutlets later I heard, through the din that is searching through a huge rolling box of LEGOs,  a light bulb go off and then, in an eureka sort of tone, I heard him exclaim:

"Oh, it's helicopter!"

And so it was:

I laughed out loud at the notion that he was waiting for what it was to reveal itself.  I do that.  I think writers do that as we wind ourselves to a hidden truth through the words we line up.  What something is ultimately going to be is often not as important as the journey that leads us to it.

Parenting is that way for me.  I have a notion of what I would like my kids to be like when they grow up.  But, at this point I cannot say what that will be for certain.  I just hope someday they look in a mirror and think:  "Hey, I'm a decent guy."  I can only hand them the odd, multicolored, seemingly random pieces one at a time and see what they come up with.  I am hoping for the best.

Honestly, the silly side of me had a lot of fun with this as well imagining da Vinci pounding on a rock and screaming: "Oh, it's David!  Everybody, it's David, you know, the David!"  Or Pollack looking down at his tarp and thinking: "Oh, it's not a mess it's abstract expressionism!"  Or some cavedude in a cave in France with a mouth full of semi-masticated beast sneezing  onto his hand as he is leaning against a wall to pee and thinking: "Oh, it sorta looks like a deer!"  Or a potter at a wheel, sweating as he pumps his legs to keep the wheel moving exclaiming: "Oh, it's a pot!"

I guess, in a way, everything has to be revealed, or reveal itself.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

"A Day in the Life..."

I get so much great crap in the take-home folders, I just love it.  Also, I think it is the perfect stuff to highlight here because it's usually already distressed from the book-bags and the bus ride and the, well, nearly eight-year-old boys, and often wouldn't even last until Mom gets home.  It is, frankly, temporary; crayons and construction paper and washable markers and pencil are not exactly archival quality, so I scan them and they're good 'til someone forgets how the internet works, or however that ends.

That being said, there is another reason I am so drawn to them, perhaps a symbiotic reason:  they are immediate.  They are reflective of the now of these little boys lives.  The things they write and draw and gather and craft at school are as revealing as a photograph, and yet so much of it is given a cursory glance then thrown away.  I often wonder how they feel about that, seeing that project, on bats, say, they worked on so diligently and earnestly in class and then explained to you so eagerly and proudly at the dining room table, seeing all that work just thrown away.

Oh don't get me wrong, it must be thrown away, the sheer volume of output from the schools would bury most homes in just a few years.  I try to honor them by looking at it, savoring it, even, if I can admit it, milking it a bit.  Every now and then they want to save something, I do, and some of it I offer up here.

Z did this assignment this week:

I don't feel the need for my secret kid-to-adult decoder ring I so often needed when they were younger as much these days.

So, what can we learn about this Zack.  It says his favorite movie star is Charlie Brown, that's either sort of sad or, very, very adorable.  Likes his Wii.  He's got a good friend in class (I smeared the name because I refuse to implicate others in any way around here) "because he helps me."  That is a good friend, I am glad for him.  He likes the songs on his iPod, cool, I am glad Marci found those old things and spent the time loading them with music.  A good "restrount -" seriously I can barely spell that word and I was in that biz for thirty years - Skyline; it's a local thing, chili.  His favorite place is his house, awwwww...

I can only assume the assignment was of the "a day in the life" variety so overused in elementary schools and Irish Literature.  Let's see what Zack did.

"A day in the life of..." (yeah, yeah, yeah, that kid really likes to write his name) "today I woke up and it was a new day I woke up and I drew a pitchure (picture) of a knight."  Oh wait, that drawing is still on the table upstairs... Here ya go:

"And then I played with  my brother.  Then for our breckfest" (breakfast, but I do like that spelling) "we had blue berry muffins.  They were delishes (that means yummy.)"  (Don't patronize me, boy, jeeze) "and they were super.  In fact I ate 3 of them!  after that I got on the bus and had fun at school.  At school we wrote about our favorite things.  I wrote these answers:  My favorite movie star..."

Yeah, he looped back to the beginning there.  It's like when you tried to pad a college paper, or a short chapter in a novel, just as an example.  Novelists never pad their chapters.

I think you can see he is a happy, productive kid.  I draw strength and encouragement from this sort of thing.  It makes me feel like we are doing things alright around here.

The same week N brought this home and handed it to me as he got off the bus...

I hesitate here.  There is something I don't want to bring up, not because it implicates someone, or is bad, or would shatter a political career, no, I don't want to bring it up because it hurts me when I think about it.  It hurts me in a way, in a place, that is deep and vulnerable... and then I cry.

Briefly, Nick has been suffering some deep anxiety about things that happened in place far away in a school, somewhere else.  But, not far enough away for a sensitive, naive boy who is afraid of cartoon villains and Wagnerian minor chords.  He's been quiet and withdrawn a little at school and becomes very distressed when he is tired here at home.  He's coming to terms with it, as am I, but, I often ask him how he's doing and reassure him that he's safe and that sort of thing.

So, as he got off the bus, he fished around in his pocket and handed me this:

I'd like to be able to say I easily recognized that, well, creature, on the front there, but, nope.  After some consideration, and I am only speculating, I think it's a "Little."  They have tails, and wear gourd hats and utilikilts... I'm not sure about the football connection, maybe it's a rugby ball.

The inside reads:  "I ham (am) having a grate (great) time at school today.  Today is gym, some people got to have an esta (extra) gym I did  "oh and Mucik (Music)."  We finist (finished) are (our) math.  I don't know when testing is.  do you?  Sorry that I forgot my folder fore (for) two days.  Love, Nick."

I love that "oh and Mucik" is in quotation marks, as if it just popped into his head little voice style.  And I do get annoyed when they forget their folders but, but...

...I think he wrote this to reassure us, to show us he was doing okay, "grate" even.  I know he knows we are concerned and this was his way of showing us that he was getting better.  Dear, sweet boy.

So there you have it, a little take-home folder nonsense - explained.  I was going to link some of the other posts of stuff from school but, seriously, it's like half my posts, but a good example of one is this post in which I lament "The Last Take-Home Folder" of First Grade.

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

(Daddy's attempt at a philosophical conversation)

D: "What do you think is the difference between a house and a home?"

N: " A house is H-O-U-S-E and a home is H-O-M-E."

*thanks, kiddo, that clears it up* :)

There is no 'u' in home... huh?

(I responded to the Sandy Hook  tragedy in a post called Chase Kowalski and in this post as well.)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Better Piece

I have been working on a better piece

I have been working on a longer piece; a bigger, sweeping piece about bigger, sweeping stuff.  What I have to say is important and I need to make a point of telling it to you.  But, the words aren't doing it right.  It keeps coming out awkward or foolish or angry or disingenuous or bloggy or self-centered or any comic combination of them all.

I was going to quote people and "pay-it-forward" and have lots of color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph about each one.  But, the pictures aren't doing it right.

In a fit of embarrassing arrogance, I was trying to get the words and images to say what I wanted them to say.  That never works for me, and yet I forget that and, I try.  So, to the gods and the trinity and inspiration and the muses; to the hearts of boys and the playgrounds of childhood; to the sea of energy, the stream of life; to whatever, whomever, spawns creativity:  I apologize.  I know better.  Forgive me.

So, forget my brain, this is what made my soul sing today:

Why yes, yes, this is a scene from The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein.  Zack drew it in his classroom  from a bigger image projected on the screen as his beautiful, dear, sweet teacher read it aloud to them.  I am not sure about the wall of blue there on the right.  A waterfall? A sideways sky?  I'll be damned it just hit me, it's an unfinished sky.  An unfinished sky... wow, that's so lovely and appropriate and metaphorical and philosophical and metaphysical and sad and melancholy and hopeful and dreamy.  And it was just dumped on me like a bucket of blue Gatorade.

This little detail from the book is slightly different:

In the book it says m.e. + t in the heart, as in the little boy and the tree.  Zack's says, I think, "Z" + and he's left the other side blank, not unlike an unfinished sky.  He somehow knows, even though he's only eight, he somehow knows there is oh-so-very much in front of him, in front of you, in front of me, in front of us; so very much more to come.  Our unfinished stories unfold in front of us.  And, here is what I need to remember: that's a good thing.  To look forward in hope is what we have, it's what we do, it's who we are.

On a more serious and urgent note, something is amiss in Nick's bed and it scares me.  I went into their room to open the blinds and when I turned around, this scene confronted me:

This Skylander thug, "Eruptor," of the Fire Element (or so he says)...

... is holding these dudes hostage.  The rainbow pill-bug, that's "Gumdrop" and he's the leader of the whole bed-pal posse and he is all, dare I say it, legs-up.

Nothing good can come of this.

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

"Don't startle Jesus!"

That strikes me as good advice...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Planned Unending

I thought I would end it today; actually, I thought I would end it today several months ago, this blog, that is.  I had picked an arbitrary mile-marker as a good stopping point and, within a few hours, I should get to it.

I dabble around in stuff, arty stuff, things that catch my attention or at which I wonder.  I have tried, and failed I guess, (though I never see it that way) many different art styles and the like.  I have written and still write some pretty good songs.  I wrote a book of angst filled poetry in the eighties.  I also tried my hand at painting with acrylics and big canvases which resulted in something resembling Pollack puke.  I wrote a novel, it’s okay, a bit overwrought and wordy, but, I stand by it.  Not so much the paintings…
I do have a point here, all those projects are done, I speak of them in the past tense.  That is at times difficult; every time I pick up the book I immediately want to re-edit the whole damn thing.  The paintings might actually work as a ceiling in my unfinished basement.  The poems should be hidden from my children.  But, I am done with those chapters (pun retro-intended).
But, and, finally, the point is - I am still blogging.  I am doing it right now.  It doesn’t feel done; it doesn’t seem to have offered me all it may; I still have something more to learn.
So, as I reach the ten-thousand mark, I think I’ll let it flip and see what’s next. 

Nick Made this a while back, 'kinderneogothic' is what they call the style:

 Buttresses?!?  Buttresses...?!?  We don't need no stinkin' buttresses, even if they can fly.

Here's a retro post from Marci's '   "..things you don't expect to hear from the backseat..."

N:  (While drawing) Why did you make me have just one eye!?!

Z:  That is a nose.

Damned cubists...

(Thanks to everyone who has encouraged me along the way, I appreciate it.)

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Yep, we did it.  We got the boys new phones for Christmas.  In fact, we are so cool we let them design their own phones from scratch.

So, when they came to creating their new phones they ended up with slightly different products.  Here is the front of Nick's:

It's got all the standard keys.  A big OK button.  I am not sure what a "sift" key is.  I can only hope that it goes through all the stuff that's important, finds none, and shuts the whole thing down.  That's just a guess.

Let's flip it over:

I can't say if that is a very slick, personalized, falling-water-themed skin, or, if it's another screen.  Either is pretty cool.

This is the front of Zack's:

Sort of an unorthodox approach to number sequence, but, hey, I'm old-school.

He's got what I can only assume are hotkeys on the sides:

I am pretty sure I want a "specker" key, it makes people explode when they are being dicky...  nevermind, I made that up.

Here's the one he'll wear out:

Games, just games.

You might remember from the posts Com(paper)puters and The Paper Arts that they are not strangers to the challenges of cutting-edge twenty-first century design:

The Paper Arts

I see some kids my boys' age with cell phones.  You know what?  When I was a kid all adults smoked, but, even then the grownups had the sense not to give a second or third grader a lit cigarette.  We had to make do with candy cigarettes that blew little puffs of powdered sugar, and Pixie sticks.  I think for now I'll just let my kids pretend a little while longer.  I don't want to hand them a lit cigarette.

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

Z: "Why would you want to see a movie called Less Marbles?"
M: "It is pronounced Les Miserables."
Z: "Oh ... so then what is it about?"
M: "Um, well, people fighting in France."
B: "And they sing."
N: "They sing?"
M&B: "Yes, they sing."
Z: "Marbles would be better."

Singing marbles would hold my interest longer than that musical ever did...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Years End

All new years end; last year's did just a day ago.  I am really not ready for that so I am just going to deny it.  Our collective mood in the house this year was subdued; perhaps the boys noticed my thinly veiled melancholy.  I felt oddly guilty in my sadness that some had no one to open the presents and we did.

Yesterday the Christmas stuff came down and I found these in a pile of drawings near the tree.  Christmas wishes I forgot to send on?  Gifts from the boys?  Santa bribes?  I am not sure.

Nick did this one:

It's actually our living room.  We put up the letters J-O-Y on the wall above the fireplace.  You know, in retrospect I just may have put that 'J' up backwards this year.  Well, that's embarrassing.  I really dig his fire in the fireplace, it is simple yet dynamic.  We hang some sparkly ornaments above the window and we have a very fluffy tree, with six ornaments on it.  And N's catchphrase is indeed "Horay."

Zack designed a fancy card for next year I guess:

He's been experimenting with a cursive sort-of font and it seems to be evading him.  Overall though, I like it; the colors are nice, I like the tree iconography and the message is simple and inclusive.

I also found this from Nick:

They told him they were poinsettias but they are actually those horribly colored brown maroon mums you see every fall.  It's still festive but I think he needs to go deeper into the Crayola palette and find some happier hues.

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

"Let me get my monocle!"

Game on...

*a feature first introduced in the post Yesterday's Math.