Friday, November 30, 2012

Catplot & Abstracts

I found the cat, Paige, not Baily, Baily loves her Zack, dragging this piece of paper across the floor in the livingroom:

It is not a handwriting I recognize and why is there tape on it?

I am pretty sure I thwarted some evil feline plan.

I'm telling you, the number of unexplainable things here outnumbers the things that make sense.

These two have me pretty baffled as well:

Nick's Abstract

Zack's Abstract

On a side note, thanks to everyone who shared and read my post from the other day, The Future's Still Perfect Post.  It shot right up the favorites list and is now my fifth fourth third most popular post.

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

"Well, beat me with a chicken."
"Ow! Not literally!"

Try to work it into your conversations, is surprisingly satisfying...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Future's Still Perfect Post

The old man sits this time at an old, round, pedestal table.  Though tired and worn down, both he and it are still strong enough to take the weight of the time, meals, work, tears, laughter and joy that life so freely wields against tables, and men.

He looks long and hard at the other three chairs, empty now.  He remembers the parade of boys who sat in them; the little babies, eating the mush so eagerly shoved into their waiting mouths, the toddlers wrangling food with their own fingers, awkwardly, happily.  He hears the giggle of slurping noodles and forgotten, silly jokes.  He hears the mumbles of disagreement and discontent as the years go by.

He remembers all the crayons and pencils and markers and paint; the Play-Doh, the LEGOs, the models, the paper airplanes; he remembers cutting, smushing, glittering, wrapping, singing, yelling with joy and without.  He remembers the books, the writing journals, the laptops and tablets and all those damned phones, the years of homework.

He watches as the morphing memories in the seats change from boys to men and wonders when exactly that happens.  He remembers first seeing the whiskers on the bigger boy on a winter's evening as the light came through that window from behind him, golden and perfect, and realizing that boys need to be taught how to shave.  How had he missed that?

But memories dance and float and fly like ghosts for him sometimes now.  One replaces another so quickly and randomly and come at him like a summer storm, seeming so real, so palpable, he has to stand up, wipe a tear from his wrinkled face, and refocus on them one at a time.

He sees two little heads, firmly, intentionally, pressed against one another, peering in to a bowl of month-old Halloween candy, lamenting the loss of the good stuff.  He sees those same two heads bent over Christmas thank-yous, science projects and senior yearbooks.  He sees the frustration at a clay sculpture gone bad, a project exploded, a computer crashed, a girl gotten away, a place on a team or in a show not realized.

He seemingly remembers it all at once.

He hears a noise, the long rambling rumble of an air vent hit hard, intentionally.  He focuses on the sound.  Years of quietly standing in the hallway, listening to toddlers talk of God, tweens talk of girls, boys talk of life; years of listening closely when the quiet got too quiet, actually recognizing the soft sound of crayon on paper; years of squinting his ears to focus on the tone of the argument in the backyard or in the basement waiting to hear if it gets too angry; all those years of listening so carefully have made him expert at determining what a sound is.

Tick, tick, tick!  The sounds of sticks smacking against one another, medium velocity.  Previous to that, the vent noise.  Previous to that, the sending of two grown men into the basement to switch out a non-functioning power outlet, the one the lights for the boys' Christmas tree always were plugged into.

He shakes the memory of so many trees and ornaments and half working light strands.

"I have five-hundred health."

"Well. I have five-thousand!"

He hears laughter and he knows, he knows like you'd know an earthquake, and he feels the memory like one as well.  He laughs out loud and chokes up simultaneously...

The fall they were wizards and still believed in Santa.

He can still see them in his mind's eye, they were wizards for Halloween, inspired by an online computer game, the name of which escapes him, and there they are again, so young and beautiful, dripping with hope and playfulness, swinging long scepter-like wands at each other in mock battle, declaring their health and battle status.  Two-thousand-twelve he remembers for some reason.

Here is what he knows has happened:  He sent his thirty-three-year-old twin boys downstairs to change the outlet.  The outlet is on the ceiling.  They looked around, flashlight in hand, and found them, the old sticks, on top of the air vent.  Their dad, now that tired old man, had stashed them up there that November so long ago, unable to just trash them.  He knew then how much time and energy and joy they put into them and could not desert them. When he found them, laying criss-crossed, abandoned to the wind and rain on the porch he knew he had to save them, so, he hid them away and... forgot about them.

Until just now.

He knows they are smacking at each other with those long-forgotten sticks, reliving their youth, finding the fire that had fueled those scepters so very long ago again.

"Put down those wizard-wands and change that damned outlet, boys," he yells, focusing his voice towards the heater vents as he always did.

He smiles knowing how much the have always hated how he seemed to know what they were thinking and doing.  He told them there was something magical in his powers but, it was admittedly just sheer deduction and maybe a little inspiration.

He turns to walk over to the steps that lead to the basement, happy to have this particular memory come up, so real and so unremembered for too long.  He starts down the steps slowly, carefully, feeling the weight of his seventy-seven years bear down on his knees as it had his memories.

"Hey Dad, how'd'ya know we found this old stuff," the darker, more serious of the two asks.

"I always knew what you guys were up to."

Nearing the bottom of the steps now, he looks over where they are standing.  He stumbles a little and sits down on the steps.  He puts his face in his hands and begins to cry.

They had remembered where their old costumes were, in a chest full of silly stuff for "dress-up" and...

They are standing there in their full wizard regalia, gowns too short, hoods too tight, giggling like the seven-year-olds they once were, and are, once again.

"Zack, what'd you say?  Are you all right, Dad," the fair son asks.

"What's wrong," Zack asks.

"I miss the little guys you once were, boys.  I really do," the man says, into his hands, slightly ashamed at his emotions.

"So do we, Dad," they say at the same time and then immediately, "Jinx, you owe me a soda..."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thangsgiving Daily

I don't have much time, the boys are watching the Macy's Parade thingee.  I wanted to show you these quickly before things get too busy around here:

There at the top is a lovely drawing Nick did at school.  I often wonder what the schools would do without the deep and moving canon of heartwarming turkey iconography.  Do they ever make the connection that we, uh, well, er... slay them, pluck them, eviscerate them and then eat them?  I hope not.

That second image is from Zack and is, obviously, The Grinch Who Stole Thanksgiving.  At least that's all I can figure.  I think it's a rogue turkey on steroids.

Thanksgiving is easy to understand, essentially.  Things get a little mixed up when kids begin to study it, what with the Pilgrims and Native Americans and all that.  Honestly, they seem to get it, at its simplest level, and that's fine with me.  Here's the story they understand:  Dudes names Pilgrims came here, Natives accepted them and helped them and they had turkey and pie to celebrate.  Basically a party.

The other night I watched a Frontline producion on PBS called 'Poor Kids' which tells the story of hunger and need from the perspective of kids in actual poverty.  It was very difficult to watch and it wounded me in my  most vulnerable place; that place where love and honor and decency, hope and charity and duty all meet to form the walls that protect our children.  Sometimes those walls aren't built with enough integrity to stay up, sometimes they are not secured correctly and, sometimes, they have simply been forgotten.

The night after I watched it, I was doing laundry around here and was bitching in my head about how much there was to wash, eight friggin' loads to be exact.  One of the kids in the documentary said:  "If it wouldn't fit in my bookbag, I couldn't take it to the shelter."

Today Everyday I should be thankful for abundance, and pray for a day where I don't complain about it.

One of the kids on the show said he missed his cellphone because "we move all the time so it's the only way I can keep up with my friends."  I complain about how slow one of our computers is and I often wish I had a slick new iPad or a better scanner.  We actually have three working computers and yet I feel the need to want more and better.

Today Everyday I should be thankful for connections; the connectivity that computers and the internet and phones give us, thankful for the amelioration of loneliness and homesickness and sadness things like Facbook and even this blog might offer.

I watched as a Dad crouched in the cold, barehandedly working on his car, tried to decide what part of his car's brakes to fix, and what could last another few weeks, wondering what would be safest for his family.  I sometimes wish I had a better truck or a slick SUV or a new mini-van.

Today Everyday I should be thankful for safety; the relative security of knowing our two working late-model vehicles are reliable and, should they become not so, we can afford to get them fixed.

One boy, nearly a man really, marveled at the irony of sometimes having cereal and no milk and other times, having milk and no cereal.  Another girl spoke through tears about how sometimes she didn't want to get up in the morning because there was no breakfast.  Sometimes, I wish we could eat more expensive steaks and fish and such; I wish we could go out more often or order carryout.

Today Everyday I should be thankful for a full pantry and the two gallons of milk in the fridge.

A newly homeless mother walked into a rented motel room and, although apparantly promised, there was no mini-fridge or microwave, and she wept in worry about that.  The other day I went on a huge rant about how much I hated my stove and needed a new one, the very stove which was baking corn bread and cooking a nice pile of pork cutlets.

Today Everyday I should be thankful for the appliances and modern wonders which literally surround me and, honestly, embarrassingly, I take for granted.

One little girl, the same one who didn't want to get up in the morning, spoke excitedly about how much she loved to dance and hoped someday to be a dancer or a cheerleader, all on an empty stomach.  They showed some eerily moving footage of her practicing dance moves and tricks using the railroad tracks in her backyard as a makeshift balance beam.  I complain we have to many toys and the boys complain they have too few.

Today Everyday I should be thankful for the opportunity my children have to dream... with a full belly and a houseful of toys.

I am not trying to bring you down with this, it's actually an attempt to lift you up, to lift us all up.  I love Thanksgiving, not because of the turkey or the family, the memories or traditions, the pies or the Brussel sprouts.  Although I love all those things, I love even more the face slap that is the weight and responsibility we all have to give thanks, not just today but, on a daily basis.

I was talking to Zack the other day about today and he said this.  "The best part about Thanksgiving is that it reminds you what to do."

Yeah... it sure should.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"vinila and choklit"

Well, there are four now.  Four abandoned attempts at posts left, as orphans, on my list of posts here on my corner of  Four posts marked, perhaps forever, as 'drafts.'

For the last few days I have been working on a nice, scope-sweeping, heartfelt piece that was going to segue into a cute Thanksgiving thing and then that was supposed to build up to my one year blogiversary post on Friday.  Well, that ain't gonna happen.  Sometimes, when you put words in a row as I do, they just don't seem to want to line up right, pushing and shoving each other until they're basically just a confused, chaotic mob.

There is a prayer by some holy guy, St. Francis of Something or Another or Aquinus, that's not what's important, that begins 'Lord make me a channel of your peace...'  That's how this should go; I get something, then show it to you.  If it gets too hard or seems too unmanageable it probably isn't meant to be.

So, in lieu of something that is clever and heartfelt and, well, showoffy, I give you this:

 "one time after school my Dad went to U.D.f. with me and Nick to get a milk shakes  I had vinila and nick got choklit"

The boys seem to be sitting politely drinking their shakes from their groovy ergonomically designed spill-proof cups.  I, on the other hand, am inside clearly distracted by the gumballs in the gumball machine.  The clerk is shouting at me (I think I forgot to pay) and the little short dude there seems to want some snacks.

I am not at all sure what this has to do with "Making Connections" nor do I know why Z chose to use the old-timey term "soda shop" (shouldn't that be 'shoppe'?) nor do I understand why the sun is setting inside.  However, we are all wearing our ball caps.

The boys look happy enough though, don't they?

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

"You don't know everything.  Only God knows everything.  He has a VERY BIG brain." 

At times, I think I have a very small brain...

Here's the prayer as I first encountered it:

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace;
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.
(Found in Chapter 11 (Page 99) of the "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions", a book published by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pirateclipse of my Heart

This is a pirate:

This is an eclipse:

This what happened to the pirate as he witnessed the eclipse:

It's weird here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Picture's Perfect

I wrestle around with whether or not I should use more images of the boys instead of by the boys around here.  I try not to for a couple of reasons.

I guess the obvious reason is to help maintain my, perhaps misguided, sense of comfort here on the innerwebs.  Yes, I know that I am mistaken, everyone knows that the internet = bad.  I am not so naive to think everyone around here is nice.

Another not so obvious reason for limiting the number of images I use of the boys is that that's under control.  My wife does a nice job making albums for them and the digitals are backed-up on one portable hard drive.  I feel that they are going to be available when the time comes to look back, me as an old man or them as young men, both, perhaps, still searching for answers.  On the other hand, construction paper and markers are surprisingly short-lived and even keeping them in a folder is no guarantee they'll last.

That being said, sometimes, just as with a story, there is more to a photograph (if I can I still call them that).  Some just require more explanation, back story and that sort of thing.

I had arranged a bunch of pretty words and stuff to tell you what to think of this picture but, I decided not to use them.

I do this whole bloggy thing for, well, that... not him specifically (in this case), but childhood.  This picture makes me joyful.  Growing up should be joyful.

This one is more recent.  They came home from church, took off their dress-shirts, changed from khaki pants into shorts and went about their usual nonsense.  They forgot to take off their dark socks.  The fifties called and said they wanted their little hipsters back.  I did a double take every time I saw them, it just cracked me up.  It's a cute pic and a cute story:

But there is more here, it again so iconically (for me) shows that intangible thing we call childhood; that thing called joy; that place called memory.

There are so many other photos I could put on here, telling the stories behind them, celebrating them.  But for today I won't.  If something important needs to be shown, I will.

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

N: "Zack, join me in the beer shack! Grab a beer and come in and relax!" (He literally followed this statement with glugging noises like he was drinking)

Bill (quickly, and hopefully, interjected): "Cool! Are you having root beer?"

Nick: "Yeah, Dad, want some?"

Wait, a beer shack, in the basement?  Sweet...

Monday, November 12, 2012

"Unitid Stats of Amaricka"

It is Veteran's Day:

We really need to work on our spelling around here.  And I don't think Zack quite gets the I "heart" something concept, I think he is supposed to just draw a heart, not write the word.

To all the vets out there, little boys remember you.

Friday, November 9, 2012


I follow other blogs, once you get into this you sort of have to.  I mostly read Mommy and Daddy blogs (it occurs to me that just calling them that practically negates their validity, maybe parent blogs would be better).  I sometimes get discouraged that there are so many people doing this and so few people reading this.

Now, mind you, there are blogs on everything under the sun and amongst the inexplicable madness of the blogarena are blogs about blogging.  Blogs that review blogs, blogs that explain how to get a blog started.  Blogs on how to make your blog a better blog.  Bloggity-bloggity-blog-blog.

One of the former offered these three essentials; be honest, remain true to your purpose and open yourself up.

I am honest here.  I decided that at the outset, I mean I might jigger a timeline here or there, perhaps change the names and, well, personalities of some of the ancillary characters.  Sometimes I might nuance a narrative to go where I want it to but, I keep it relatively true.  Yeah, I'll work on it...

Seriously though, I do remain true to my purpose which I so eloquently stated in this meandering post.  That is once I figured that out - about a month ago - before that I was trying to do another thing - which was different than what I started out with...  I'll work on that too.

Finally, open yourself up.  I can only guess that means make myself vulnerable.  Wait, I don't do that.  I was raised in the Midwest where stoicism and uptightedness meet in a silent, noble, unstable balance (in my opinion).

So, an honest, purposeful and touchy-feely post.  Ah, jeez, I dunno...  I'll try it.

I am in a funk.  It is easy sometimes for me to get down on myself.  I especially wrestle with feelings of inadequacy, specifically  the notion that I am not doing enough.  I do a lot, any parent does.  I serve the children well, I try to show my wife and the boys I love them, I honor my mom.  It just never seems like enough.  I wonder what I am doing wrong.

I anger too quickly; I cry too readily; I fear too often; I feel sorry for myself too easily.

I have no right to, none at all.

You might wonder what that has to do with ihopeiwinatoaster, and so might I.  My most recently stated purpose here, and I quote is:  "I blog to remember."  I need to remember these times, these, dare I say it, feelings.  I need to let the boys see, some day, that everything seems at times difficult or pointless or sad or just plain shitty.

I consider a post in my head for a while before I begin it here.  I make an occasional note like this one:

I jotted it down on some weird drawing by some weird kid. Down on the corner it says:  "Turn Around Bob I owe them more than this mood I'm in."  (It also says "problems that this way/challenge this that way" clearly not as inspired.)

And I do I owe them more than this mood I'm in.

Here is where it gets wonky.  Literally, just now, I went upstairs to get some coffee.  I wondered into the dining room as the brewer finished gurgling.  I saw something out of the corner of my eye.

Do you remember Bob from a couple posts back, The Elements of a Post?  Here he is again.

Bob had an unusual quest:

"Bob has to get out of the middle of the racetrack, swim across the pond cross over the racetrack again and exit through the green door of safety."

Now that you are up to speed, this is what I noticed, as the coffee pot gurgled away, in the "maybe-keep bin" crumpled up and in sorry shape:

It's Bob!  And he turned around.  And he is happy.

There's more.  On the reverse side of Happy Bob is this depiction of Bob practicing for his quest.  I believe those are circling piranha and, yes, I believe that is a limb flying through the air.  Oh, and Bob is Happy.

I'll tell you the truth here, I sort of felt sorry Bob when I thought he was faceless.  He seemed sad and unfulfilled and his quest seemed arduous and fraught with danger.  It turns out I underestimated Bob.

It turns out, that was Bob's back.

It would also seem that Bob is well-prepared for his quest.

I'll bet he is a knight.

You know what?  I am going to face some challenges in the future; challenges to my time and energy; challenges to my patience and tolerance; challenges to my faith and spirituality; challenges to my integrity and character.

You know what else?  We all are.

So, I am pulling a Turn-Around-Bob.

My boys do deserve more than this mood I am in.  They deserve the happy determination of Bob. They deserve his style of silliness.  They deserve his serenity.  They deserve bright buttons and red vests.  They deserve wide embraces and relentless joy.  They deserve his hope.

They deserve all that I can give them.

The Bob abides.

So there you go.  I was honest.  I served my purpose.  I opened up.

Tomorrow back to the nonsense, that I've got a handle on.

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

N: "I am a human spy. Zack thinks I am a dog spy, which is really obnoxious."
Z: "Then why are you barking?"
N: "I make imitations of things. I am. a. spy."

What part of 'spy' don't you get...?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Not a Post-Election Post

I considered it, really, I did.  I have some opinions about politics, but they are naive and idealistic, chronically romantic even.  Basically I think people should help and respect others.  I believe that end has been served in this election.

That being said, the whole thing still affects (or is it effects, damnit, I don't feel like looking it up right now) our household.  We don't really watch TV live, but, occasionally some of the ads are seen; some of the vitriol and cowardly accusations witnessed; liars are seen calling liars liars; moody Wagneresque music is heard swelling as images of doom and sadness flash on the screen.

And guess what?  Yeah.  I get to explain it.  N actually asked me if we'd be okay if so-and-so was elected.  He said, as an ad showed closed businesses and shuttered factories, "Dad, I don't want it to be like that."

"I don't want it to be like that."

I want you to think about that with me.  A kid, in second grade watching a presidential political ad while he is trying to enjoy AFV, says that to his his parent.

"I don't want it to be like that."

That is messed up folks.

He should see this process as the hopeful right so many have defended and celebrated over the years.

He should see this process as an honor.

He should see earnest debates, charitable candidates, men and women of decency running for office as representatives of the interests of the constituents they serve.

He should see a happy future, a safe future, a peaceful future.

He should see a worthy future where he has a role.

Z was watching that same night and a similar ad came on.  It was quickly cut, fast, and the music was all minor key and doomsday.  I looked over at him as he sat on the couch, hugging his bear tightly, cowering down.

"What's wrong?"

"This scares me," he answered.

Again I say:  That is messed up folks.

None of this crap is serving our children very well, is it?

(I told you I was naive.)

Now, I turn the page and I offer you this, the most baffling jester ever:

And this wonderful bit of confused whimsy:

"The witch was speeding on the Beach while eating two ham and chease (cheese) sandwishis (sandwiches)."

He did not draw the pumpkin, but he nailed that hat, didn't he.

I love anything absurd.  I love non-sequiturs.  A love abstractionism and anything odd.  In my estimation, it doesn't get any better than these.

Seriously, why was the witch on the beach?  Is she a beachwitch, you know, the surfing kind?  Why two sandwiches?  Why ham and cheese?  And, how exactly does a witch speed?

Why is the jester holding a baby mummy?  Is there a "spiter" (spider) crawling up his leg or, is his leg being accuse of spitefulness?  Why is he ranked there on the bottom right?  Are those good numbers?  What are the rectangles about?  Is his hat named "tree man?"

I love this stuff, I really do.  It is a great pleasure to share it with you; to keep it here for the boys; to reflect on and revere and cherish it.  You see, that is not going to change.  I promise.

From Marci's '...things you don't expect to hear from the backseat in a phone call home to say goodnight to your kids..."

I was helping with a retreat away from home and called the boys to tell them goodnight. Nick answered. I asked him what he was doing ...

"Oh, just hanging out. Playing some foosball. Listening to The Beatles."

My 7 year old is now 17.  (I edited out a smiley face here, they irritate me.) 

It's all true.  I was there, spinnin' the vinyl...

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Elements of a Post

I am having trouble getting started today.  Here's what I have so far...

These pictures:

Diapers on a shelf

An important reminder

Roses by a shed


Bob's quest

A shed by roses

Words to include: ennue (look up how to spell it), denounment (ibid.), savored, and either cherish or honor, or both (the words I purposefully repeat in a great deal of my posts, for emphasis).

Ideas to include:  An aborted Halloween rant; the last rose of summer and the last known diaper in the house, an analogy; how and why Bob got in the way of things and the nature of his quest; the time Zack said: "but it's important to me, Dad"; a little story about the manners paper Nick made which his teacher is making in to a "real poster."

Other considerations:  Perhaps a Play-Doh reference wrapped in with the crap about the diapers.  Avoid calculation of how many diapers I have changed.  Wax poetic on something or 'nuther.  Self-deprecate amusingly.  Avoid overwriting and using run on sentences and generally using too many damned words.  Add at least on pointless aside, on something like, say, guitar strings or lawn-mowing.

Needed:  A device to include all these things in one post and a pot of coffee.

Time allotted:  One hour and fifteen minutes.

Note:  Use italics to show result. 

Well, let me think about it while I go get a cup of coffee...

A couple years ago now we received a lovely little rose bush, a Knockout, I think it is called.  It does well planted out next to the shed, and it seems like, late every fall, it produces one last hurrah of blooms.  I think of the line about 'the last rose of summer.'  I've always thought that a beautiful sentiment.

For reasons I guess I'll never quite understand, I note the last of things, the endings.  For instance I certainly do not remember the numerous times I mowed the lawn this summer but, I remember the last time I did it; I remember the crispness, the smell of the leaves; I remember the tractor started without a jump, I remember thinking this may be the last time I do this this year.

I wonder if I thought that when I put those last three diapers up on the shelf a couple years ago now, that they are the last of the thousands, I won't do the calculations, of diapers used around here.  I don't miss the diapers, but I do miss the one-on-one face time changing them gave.  It's a great time for kids to show their personalities, to giggle, to ask.

So, when I found the diapers on the shelf, next to the nearly forgotten Plah-Doh, I thought of 'the last rose of summer.'  I thought of the beauty the diapers represented, the joy I had laughing with the boys as we changed on that table, also forgotten.  And just as I did with the roses by the shed, I savored them, I smiled when I realized what they were, I laughed to think these were the last, and, as with a rose, I nearly fell to my knees as the baby pure scent came off of them.  Forever, roses and diapers will make me weep.

I think endings are particularly relevant here.  We are suffering the ennui of some significant denouements around here.  The Evil Avocados ended their particularly satisfying season and, sadly Halloween is over.  I have for some time been preparing a long and dangerously snarcastic tirade against Halloween.  I don't like it, I think it is silly and stupid and...

...the boys love it.

A while back I had dinner made and hollered down to Z that dinner was ready.  He grunted.  I called again.  He grunted.  I got irritated.  I went down the steps to more emphatically tell him dinner was ready.

"I have to finish this battle," he said.

"No Zack, it is time for dinner."

"But I'm in the middle of this battle and blah blah..."  I had stopped listening because it was time for dinner.

"C'mon Zack, dinner's on the table," I said, annoyed.

"Dad, I have to do this, If I don't..."

"That's not important right now.  Let's GO!"

"But Dad, It's important to me right now," I wise little voice creaked through a sob.

I broke, literally.  My heart cracked, my eyes teared up, my soul sighed.  I had to honor him.

"You're right, son, it is important to you right now.  Show me what you are doing and let's finish that battle."

"Thanks, Dad."

"Sorry, Zack."

This conversation is one of the reasons I don't have the heart to go on about the six pounds of candy they accumulated in less than an hour, about the silly parade at their school, about the...  You know what, the boys get to dress up in something wacky, adults are cool with it and give them candy, they march around at school, they get to eat candy for weeks afterward and it makes them happy, the whole thing, Halloween, it is what they love.  Perfect is how I should describe it.  An ideal holiday from a child's perspective.

So the other reason I won't rant about it is Bob:

I mean, how can you rant when Bob's around.  The opposite side of this picture of Bob is this:

Bob has to get out of the middle of the racetrack, swim across the pond cross over the racetrack again and exit through the green door of safety.  Tough break, Bob.

Oh goodness, look at where the time has gone.  The reason I included the manners poster is for the same reason I included the story about what's important to Zack.  You see, the kids in the class at school all made posters when they discussed manners in class.  The teacher liked Nick's so much she apparently decided to make a full size poster of it.  He told me about this a while back, and when this came home he was very pleased to show it to me.  I really don't know how but, it ended up in the recycling bin in the garage.  I saw it when I was putting something in said bin, fished it out and laid it, temporarily, on the other bin and... forgot about it.

N saw it in the garage, on the ground, after it blew of the other bin and said to me:  "Dad, this is really important to me, why is it out here?"

I didn't explain that I rescued it from the trash.  I just told him I didn't know and quickly put it inside.

I am out of time.