Monday, April 29, 2013

"... what I was trying to say ..."

"Uhgggghhh!  I can't remember what I was trying to say..."  Nick said this during a conversation at dinner the other night and, I have heard Z say it as well.  And... I find it comforting to know that the fresh, new brains the boys are using brainfart just like mine does.  I very often loose track of the conversation or forget what I was just watching on cable.

Also, there is destinesia.  You know, when you reach your destination and have no reason why you are there.  I like to think I coined this word about twenty-five years ago, but, I have no proof.   It helps knowing that the boys do it to.  I found Nick in the guest room sort of slowly spinning in a circle, with a perplexed look on his face.  I asked him what he was doing and he answered, slowly: "I.  Don't.  Know."  (I employ the same slow spin and confused look technique when I have no idea why I am in the room as well, I can only assume it's genetic.)

As a quick aside, when I worked in kitchens, it seemed daily I would find someone standing in a dry-storage room or a walk-in refrigerator, with that look on their face, the I-can't-remember-what-I'm-looking-for stare.  I learned that you were always very close to what you'd forgotten so I always told people it was probably right in front of them, like literally.  It worked an awful lot.

Anyhoo, Zack sort of takes things to higher level by embracing what the medical community calls Nutty Professor Syndrome.  When you find a child trying to put on a second pair of underwear, wearing jeans for bed, standing in a hallway with two pair of shoes and no pairs socks when he should have had one of each, or any such misguided silliness, he might have NPS.  It's painfully cute.

Here's the thing, the other day, when N said he couldn't remember what he was trying to say, I heard the word trying.

"That's not what I am trying to say."

"What I am trying to say is..."

We have all said these, I do all the time.

It seems we spend a lifetime trying to say it right and forgetting what we are trying to say.

Like here on ihopeiwinatoaster, I could easily be accused of forgetting what I was trying to say.  I let me get in the way too often.  I have reconciled that to my conscience by pretending that someday the boys will enjoy knowing a little bit more about me because of some revealing words here on the web.  Yeah...

But honestly, I am trying to find the right words.  Words are wily and difficult to control.  They walk, in my mind, hand-in-hand with emotion and imagination and ego and dreams and hopes.  I try to get them to tell you things, but, I fail sometimes, succeed others, but, I am better for the trying.

I can only guess that the reason I like the images I put up here is because it is easier to show a little picture and note it's silliness, sweetness and worth than it is to describe with failing, fettering words the impact it may have had upon me.  I could write a thousand words about every image I put up here, and I have, but, those words can't make the visceral, instant impact that is visual.

For instance I went to dump the recycling bin into the big bin in the garage and just before I dumped I saw these:

My tortis (tortoise) is looking for food.  He loves grass.

My turtle is funny

I chuckled out loud when I saw them atop the unrinsed cans and milk jugs.  Simple, arbitrary and, for me, essential.  I can't really tell you why, but I'm trying.

That turtle is funny, now that I have been told.

What I am trying to say is, well, I am trying here.  Trying to show them them; you me; you them; them me.  See what I mean - words are hard to wrastle.

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

"Dad, when will we have bacon again?"

*a life or death question in our house*

There's always more to a story; isn't there?  Zack asked me that from the living room as I was in the kitchen, as he said it I was staring at three tomatoes in a bowl.  I knew I had frozen bacon in the freezer.  I micro-thawed it, fried it up and twenty minutes later we were eating BLTs with a nice fruit salad and some chips.  Later, I was trying to decide whether to have stuffing or mashed potatoes with the roast turkey breast, I asked the boys.  They agreed on mashers and then Nick said:  "Oooohh, with bacon."  Yes baked potato mashed with bacon and sour cream and cheese and white pepper and Kosher salt.

I love bacon day ...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Nick didn't have the best game in soccer the other day.  He didn't seem very aggressive (the good kind) and he seemed a bit, well, bewildered.  I asked him about it a couple of days later.  He said it was hard to explain.  I asked him to try and he sort of whispered:  "I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to be doing."

Yeah, me neither.

Here is all you need to know, buddy:

I sort of go through life unsure of what I am supposed to be doing.  It bothered me when I was little, but, as I got older, I began to understand that a lot of people don't.  Some just fake it better than others.

And, some people just don't mind being found out.  Like me.  When I started staying home with the boys I was LOST and it was obvious, I faked it for a long time and now, I offer advice to others sometimes.

(I found that piece of paper on the floor in the basement.  I have no idea what it is about, but, I love that three of the four plays have "me" in them.  I think Zack made it, but, clearly, anyone could run these plays.)

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

"I am from Saturn. I dance on the rings."

Absolute poetry, I should write so purtily...

Monday, April 22, 2013

And Yet, I Opened Facebook

I rarely enter into writing here without the intent of, ultimately, hitting the publish button and letting it go.  I understand that if I write it here, and publish it out there - the screen you are looking at now - I understand, that it is a permanent thing.  Hell, I count on it.  I want this to be accessible, I want my friends and like-minded souls to find this, and, I want it here when the time comes for the boys to find it as well.

Consequently, I rarely get too revelatory, I may let something slip or infer something between the lines, cleverly, intentionally (you know, like people used to do before the advent of emoticons - insert winky-dude here).  I did once, and I regret it a bit, publish a post I maybe shouldn't of, this one, but, as I said before, everything is strangely, ironically permanent, here in cyber-world.  It is hard to escape what you've said.  There are no 'takebacks' on the world wide web.

That being said, I did like to tell you something very personal, something that I am ashamed of and deeply saddened by.

Nope, it's none of those things, although whatever you thought would probably be very interesting.

I often wonder if the words and terminology we use in our writing today, especially in social media and e-mail and the like, might seem ridiculously anachronistic in a few decades.  Like a bad seventies movie dripping with bell-bottoms and disco and psychedelic swirls, this Age may seem so empty of depth and personal contact, so rich in consumerism and imagined pathos, that it, too, becomes unwatchable, unsavory, laughable.

Wait, I was trying to spew my pain and shame, that's what the internet's for, right?

Here goes - When I approach my computer, I automatically open my browser and, I immediately, mindlessly, habitually... open Facebook.


Well, I'll tell you a story or more.

When I was in college I was into music.  I can't say I was into a particular band, or genre.  I was more about absorbing the sound, listening to lyrics, thinking about what the person, the artist, was trying to do for me, give me.  I am a product of the seventies, I was trying to dig the vibe, man.  Back in those days, whenever I went to a party or dorm room or apartment or field the second thing I always did was check out the music situation.  Not what was being played, I didn't care much, I just wanted to be sure there were going to be tunes and that we could crank them up if needed.  (Sadly, the first thing I always did was check out the girls.)

I could have sat down at my computer and started the music playing, I could have pointed my browser to Pandora (what's that, Dad?), which always gives me something new or forgotten to listen to, and yet...

... I opened Facebook.

I lived in NYC in the late eighties and was trying to write poetry, dipping my toes in prose as well.  I had a job for a few months at a publishing company as a personal assistant.  I had access to an electric, very modern typewriter, and, a photocopier machine.  This combination afforded me the opportunity to attempt to polish the stuff I was working on at the time.  Sadly, it wasn't very good in the firsts place but it sure gave me a sense of what was possible.  A decade later I was using a word processor program on a primitive Apple computer and wrote a very forgettable novel.

I could have, in three seconds, launched a word program and begun another novel, started a new post, or composed a thoughtful letter to a friend who could use some kind words right now, but...

...I opened Facebook.

I did a couple of years thinking I might have the ability to produce visual art, mostly vivid acrylics in a post-modern style.  I know, just stop laughing.  However, I really had a lot of fun doing it.  It was a very hands-on sort of thing at a time when my mind needed distraction.  I enjoyed feeling the canvases, the palette knife, the oozing paint from tubes.  Mostly though, I enjoyed arranging the shapes and colors and thinking about abstraction and distillation of image and balance and the like.

I could've sat down here and opened a drawing program called TuxPaint, which the boys use, which I think would have blown my mind in nineties, and had a very enjoyable and creative time.  Today, I could download or buy incredible software programs designed for artists and spend hours making the prints and images I could only imagine back then, but, shamefully...

...I opened Facebook.

I could have found the software and camera I used on the old computer, added it to this one, and opened it up, hit record, and spent a few hours working on one of the many of songs I am trying to write, but...

...I opened Facebook.

I could have googled any of a number of things I want to learn about but always forget - soccer positions, recipes for chicken breasts, semi-colons, fructose, baseball scorecards, consubstantiation - but, yep...

...I opened Facebook

You might remember that I write a blog about the silly, wonderful stuff my twins make and do.  I like to feature their beautiful drawings and take home stuff, their conversations and sports exploits, dreams and hopes.

I could have opened my scanner and scanned one of the ten things within arms reach of me right now; I could have opened the camera and put the memory card in the computer and in seconds begun adding photos to the folder I use to hold the future stuff for my blog.  Instead, mindlessly, embarrassingly...

...I opened Facebook.

So there it is, I told you.  My point isn't that there is something wrong with Facebook or even the internet.  My problem is me.  I am simply not using this tool, my computer, to the full potential it offers.  Imagine what the artists, writers, musicians, thinker, poets, dreamers of even a mere century ago could have done with this remarkable, ingenious, miraculous even, tool.

And, sadly, I opened Facebook.

As a peace offering, in atonement for my sins, and, because I like to always have an image or two three lots, I give you this:

Nick's Spi Journal.

It's got a pen and a pencil, a decoder there on the left, it's WiFi capable and, get this, it has a paper grappling hook, attached to a string.  It's pretty nice although I am not sure I would have gone with the pink.

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

(on the way to First Communion)

"Let's do this."

And, they nailed it... 

Thanks for stopping by.  Now, I'll hit publish and go post the link over there on Facebook.  Yeah, that is pretty ridiculous isn't it?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Books From The Backseat or Mysteries Begun

We have always tried to have something for the boys to do in the back seat of my truck, something that's always there.  At first it was MagnaDoodles, I think they are called, and since those I have tried a variety of things.  White boards and dry-erase markers - the boards get stained and the sun and cold dry out the markers; grease pencils - melt; crayons - don't do it, what a mess in the heat.  Finally, I got them colored pencils and a couple of of those four-color-switchy-pens (that's what they're called).  Here's a glimpse into the backseat:

Why, yes, yes those are bi-colored pencils, artist quality, why?  Because my boys deserve the best, oh, and, good colored pencils don't very often break and last much longer than cheopo Crayola ones -  Crayola = Crayon, 'nuff said.  Anyway, I don't often look into them except when I clean out the toxic waste that accumulates back there.  (I did mention them once before in this post.)

Now Zack likes to draw cars and trucks and the like.  I like this one although, for obvious reasons I'll not be writing out the name of this one, suffice to say 'triple letter Destroir.'

And then there is this jewel, the truck car vehicle is hard to make out but the name is decidedly unforgettable:

Yep, "Optomisom."  I can't imagine a better misspelling.

Zack sometimes works on elaborate, inexplicable instructions, you know, those no language ones like LEGO does:

Nick, on the other side of the backseat, tends toward more character-oriented drawings, like these two happy dudes (drawn on pages that have fallen out of the book):

I like this blockhead guy, it's fun to see the progression from sketch to finished dude:

I love that acorn top hat, with a swirl.  I also think he was a rifle there in his wing.  Odd...

Even when Nick tries to draw a thing, you know, an object or a vehicle, they tend to look more like cartoon characters with real personalities.  Case in point:

I am uncertain what that top thing is, but, it talks.  And, there at the bottom... "bus       man."  The seventies called, they want their bus back.

So, that's what I found out there, in the little books, in the backseat.

I'm stalling...

I'm stalling because, for one thing, as usual, I don't have a very good segue from the above to what I want to talk about now.  I am also stalling because I don't want to put anyone off my blog here.  But, as you may know, I can't always make this good for everyone so, I am going to forge ahead.

The boys have First Communion this Sunday, they are excited about it, honestly, so am I.  I am the first to admit that I don't fully understand the Catholic sacrament of Holy Communion, I do not participate because I was raised a Presbyterian, which is fine with me, and I have a difficult time coming to terms with "real body and blood."  It is important to note that this is hardly the fault of religious teachings on either side, but, it is a failure of my own intellect in fostering the deep relationship with Jesus I admire in so many.

What I do know is that this is an important moment for them, not as Catholic boys, not as Christian boys, not as God-fearing boys, but, as human boys.  Moral Law and Divine Law will always be debated, however, the power and essence of morality and divinity are undeniable.  I need, and I feel, we need, to present our children with the moral foundations that the teachings of Christ imbue.  Love thy neighbor, sacrifice, charity, acceptance, all are essential to our coexistence with those around us.  I think it is simple, others don't think so.

I also think there is a primal impulse in all humans to search for God.  Of course this is not news to social anthropologists and historians and, well, everyone, but, it is of deep significance.  I have known that draw all of my life; I hear it in the questions my boys ask; I see it in the look in their eyes as they witness beauty and ugliness; I sense it in their hearts as they reach out in understanding to those in need; I understand that it is written on the template of their souls - insert God here.

On Friday mornings, at 6:03, you can find me with a group of about three dozen or so dads, at the church.  We discuss kids and our relationship with our families.  It's called Father's Team and, although it is never perfect, it has been a positive experience for all of us, I'd think, considering it has being going strong now for a couple of years.

I wish I'd have had a camera this morning.  I wish I could draw a picture or recreate it in Photoshop, but, alas, all I have are mere words to describe what I saw.

My memory is always present tense.

The meeting comes to an end and the thirty or so guys shuffle forward, left hands extended, right hand reaching for the shoulder of the man to their right.  The hands in the center do not all pile on to one another like a cheer before a game, there are too many of them so, palms downward, they form a tight circle hovering above a chair, an empty chair, draped with a simple purple cloth, representing Christ among us.

Some of the hands are well-manicured, smooth, with cuff-linked wrists and suit jacketed sleeves.  Some of the hands are rough and grease-stained, a sweatshirt instead covers the wrists.  Wedding rings, gold and silver, spark in the light.  They form a powerful image; a sacred, timeless image of unity and purpose.

The opposite hands rest warm and easy on the shoulders of their fellows.  A gentle pressure, a knowing, a feeling of strength on your own shoulder, a sense of place in this circle of men; the simple, elegant power of the scene is moving.

If you could but fly above this circle, and look down through the ring of hands, onto the chair, you'd see two simple hand-knotted rosaries, both blue, one lighter than the other, draped over the purple robe of the ever-present Christ.  The early morning light is diffused, the hands lay quiet shadows over the simple corded necklaces and yet, they radiate.

Add now the sound of voices, men's voices, some deep, confident; others quiet, hopeful.  Listen now, you know the words," Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name."  A chant, an incantation, a prayer, a hope, a miracle.  Brotherhood.  Humanity.  Mankind.  Masculinity.  Sacred, essential goodness.  The words, lost perhaps in their hopelessness to describe the indescribable, echo in the high ceiling, and come back to the men reassuring, comforting, eternal.

"And the Fathers said to the Fathers, Amen."  The group says finally.

 A blessing, said over a chair, over these two simple knotted strings, will remain with me until the moment I can no longer love, forever, in other words.  Thank you, gentle men, gentle souls, gentle sons of gentle fathers.  Thank you.

Marci made these, or rather, facilitated the making of these.  Each knot was tied by her or me or by family members, teachers, priests, friends and loved ones.  Each knot a prayer of hope, a gift of grace, a promise of peace and love everlasting.  We will give them these before their Mass on Sunday accompanied by a note explaining them and a list of those who participated in their making lovingly crafted by Marci.  I hope they have them forever, I know I will.

Thanks for stopping by and, throw some good vibes our way this weekend, if you feel so inclined...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Dandelion Web

Why do people hate them so?  They are beautiful and harmless and, well, let's find out some more...

(Well, that disproves the whole rant I was going to go on about the internet.)  I learned some interesting stuff in just a couple of minutes.  The word "dandelion" comes from the Old French dent-de-lion, or tooth of the lion because they are so long rooted, or toothy, in gardenspeak.  Cool.  However, in modern french the are called pissenlit (or vernacular pisse au lit).  Literally, piss in the bed.

Why is that and why did it sound so perverse?  Well, the plant, when ingested, is a strong diuretic and is known to aid liver and kidney function, effects that have been known to man since prehistory.  That's cool, too.  Every culture where the plant is indigenous has adopted it into their diet, as well.

When I was a boy, sometime in the Spring, Mrs. B - the Mom next door where I grew up - would send us out with old pillowcases and we'd stuff them full of dandelion blooms and stems.  She had a lot of children of her own and she also elicited the help of all the other kids on our rural road in the farmlands of Ohio.  All I actually remember of the process was the smell, earthy and sharp, on our hands and noses, and the look of piles and piles of that yellow blanketing her garage as she crushed them, by foot, into galvanized tubs.  That last thing I remember is that she put water over them all and they sat for a while.  She was making "Dandelion Wine."  I remember tasting it once and it wasn't very good.  It occurs to me now that she was probably making it for more medicinal reasons that for a pleasure drink.  I did not know that.

I have had them a lot in salads, often with a vinegary hot bacon dressing.  It's actually a classic of French Cuisine, frisee au lardon.

So why do people hate them so in their yards?  I don't get that.  They are the same color as daffodils and everyone loves daffodils.  Also, what if we'd have genetically modified dandelions like we have tulips and tomatoes.  I bet by now we would have something really cool, like broad-leaf dandelions, or bush dandelions, or multi headed ones.  We might have manipulated the colors and now we'd have pink and red and white and even variegated tiger-striped ones as big as a fist.

Where did it all go wrong for the dandelion?  They seem to have a respected history, and a modern importance and yet... people poison them and rip them out of the ground violently and leave them to wither and lose their essence wilting in the summer sun.

I don't get it.

You might remember (although I sort of wish you didn't) that I mentioned how I was going to go on about the internet.  How, you might ask, was I planning to segue from dandelions to the world wide web?  Well, I figured when I went to Google the subject that I would get a lot of misinformation and advertisements and false pages and popups and the like.  However, with "safe-search" on in just a few keystrokes there I was, learning about these friendly weeds.  Cool.

Perhaps the internet is like a dandelion, so misunderstood and not used to it's full potential 

I refuse to bore you with that pedestrian, pedantic and, actually, inane analogy.  I'll  wait on the big internet scoop I've got in my head, it's a secret that I know and you should, too.

Oh all right, I'll tell you:  The internet is one big advertisement.

You know what's wrong with dandelions?  You know what their problem is.  You can't see them, understand them, admire them, because they are lost in that stupid sea of green unending lawn.  Maybe that's how these two seemingly unrelated things are connected.  It is very difficult to see the decency in the web because of this sea of tripe that surrounds it...

Note to self: dandelions and the internet are not analogous.

Without dandelions I wouldn't have the sweet story of Nick calling them "puffballs" because you blow on them and they float away.  Without dandelions I wouldn't have the memory of their delighted faces as they watched those seeds drift of in the wind, happy and free, both seed and boy.  Without dandelions there were be fewer yellow hands and noses and not so many wildflower bouquets for Mom:

Without them I wouldn't have this memory:

Or known this joy:

Or had tears in my eyes as I witnessed this sweet coronation:

And, if it weren't for the internet, I wouldn't have a place to share this with you.

Wait!  I did it, I at least reconciled the dandelion and the internet, got them to work together, there at the end where...

Oh nevermind, thanks for stopping by

Here is something Marci might have posted in her '... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat...' thingy if it had indeed happened in the backseat and she'd have noticed it and, uh, other explanatory dribble and stuff.

Nick (screaming):  "Epic fail!"

Zack (likewise screaming):  "Banana Town!"

Repeat ad naseum.  Always screaming.

It was super annoying but it had this Waiting for Godot vibe to it, it's weird here...

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Silly or The Serious?

Sometimes I can't decide whether to put the important stuff I want to tell you first, or start with the essential nonsense and then segue into the good stuff.  Truth be told, I am not even sure which thing is important, which is primary, the silly or the serious.  Oddly, I guess I have already addressed that some where else, perhaps at a staff meeting I missed, because I tend to mix it up.

We are given gifts.  You can argue against that, if you want, but what I wrote - 'we are given gifts' - is written so that it is inarguable.  It is a fact to me.  In a recent post, I covered some of my feelings about the gifts we are given and how I feel that these gifts are ours to open, that others should not open them for us, we must discover our own gifts.

We should be led to our gifts though; our dreams, hopes, ambitions and even fears can show us our way.  As parents we try to keep it all on the table.  Sports are good, sure.  Music is important, yes.  Faith and religion, the fundamentals at least, yep.  Good nutrition, check.  Sleep habits, helmets...  You know what, that's an impossible task isn't it?  We can't do it all, show them it all, experience it all.  What if I accidentally left out curling and opera (which I might) and that is their gift?

Back to 'we are given our gifts.'  If they are ours we will find them, or, more accurately, they will find us.

Marci, in whose Faith I have absolute faith, often finds things for us to do, spiritually, if you will.  She found this:

This is was the master - as I realize there that Nick arbitrarily added his name to the copy I had sitting buried on my desk - and I made copies for all four of us.  After explaining that if you felt you had a gift you checked it off, we went of into our prospective (is that the right word?) corners and filled in our sheets.  Then, we got back together at the table and each person went through the list, telling the others if he or she had this gift.

It was sweet and funny and a little heartbreaking at times.  It was revealing and reassuring and confirming.  I'm not sure what the boys came away with, when it is all said and done, but, I'd really recommend this little exercise.

I once said that I wanted to "show them them" here.  I love when you see inside your child; when you look beyond the sweet outer beauty, beyond the freckles and dimples, deeper than the golden hair and shining smiles, and see their inner beauty, see the rich beauty of their souls, shimmering, radiating, maturing.

I see that innerness, that soulfulness, everywhere, when I look for it.  I see it in the classroom, that determination to learn and make friends; I see it on the sports fields where I see the duality that is determination and dignity; I see it at church where a face lights up when a truth is revealed through ritual.  I watch them watch things - movies and television, baseball games and concerts, big kids playing and adults interacting, video games and Battleship and, and, I see the gifts as they are presented to them.

The gift of Wonder.  The gift of Truth.  The gift of Art.  The gift of Courage.

I am glad I look in them, as they look out, because it forces me to remember when I was given these gifts.  And that is a very good thing, because, well, I have forgotten them, forgotten their innate importance.

Someday, maybe soon, I will have the courage to tell you - you reading now, in the spring of '13, and to you, my dear sons, as you read this some day off in the future - tell you of the dreams I have, for I do have them.  Tell you about the gifts I have let go, squandered perhaps, and tell you that the gifts don't stop, that gifts turn into dreams and, even if the dream doesn't come true, the value of the gift remains unchanged.  The gifts are golden, the dreams are but fragile lace.

Honestly, anyone with any sense would just end this here.

Not me...

The Academy of Meteorological Iconography, AMI, has recently revamped the symbols your local TV guy and newspaper will be using:

I like them, they are fresh and eye-catching and I think we'd all agree that "clowdy" is a better spelling of the word.  There is a second page:

I am not sure how necessary the "lava" one is but, I really like the "dew" one.  I personally like to know when the grass is going to be be soaking wet, you know, so I wear the right shoes - sandals suck in the dew.

I think AMI has done a great job with these, you'll be seeing them soon.

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

"I think we just broke the law."

Yes, yes we did, son...

(In my defense, it was a 'no left turn' sign out of a school that was only for school hours.  Alright, that was just implied, not actually stated but, the road wasn't very busy and I didn't want to get lost and... oh, bother.)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


... and then he kind of pivoted around on the swing and face-planted right in the mud.  Man that was funny.

Yeah, but it's not really what we do around here.  It seems a little mean, if we only had a picture of it, well, then, maybe ...

Alright then, how about scanning those two paper standup crosses they made and decorated on Easter Sunday, those are sweet and genuine.  Oh, and we could tie that in with the preparations for First Communion coming up, that's important.

Well, I dunno, that seems to drip with religiosity and we've avoided that so far.

Oh, come off of it, we talk about God and prayer and all that spiritual crap all the time.  Why's this any different?

I know that.  I feel like that's where should keep it, in the realm of "spritual crap," as you so elegantly put it.  What else ya got?

Gay Marriage ...

Nope.  I think we should stay away from that one.  Anyone who knows me, knows my position on that.  I went to Theater School for crissakes...

So, we aren't coaching this year, how do you feel about that?  Maybe, how it tugs on your heart a little to not be the coach, the hero?  How you won't hear one of them say "my dad is the coach" with that little hint of pride in their voice?  How you see the space between your heart and theirs widen as you stand farther away in the crowd, and not on the sideline with a clipboard in your hand? 

Yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah ... haven't we been all through the coaching thing by now?  There have already been way too many posts about that.  Anyway, I don't know what image we'd have for that.  We must always use an image.  You know, I have always thought that a bit odd about this blog.  I mean I'm a writer right, I wrote a hopeless novel, endless pitiful poems, several songs; I mean, I've always relied on words, right?  I wonder who decided we should always have an image.

You did.  And you do it because you don't feel like your writing is strong enough to stand alone.  

Dude, come on, gimme a break...

I know, how about writing on your family and love and devotion and all that shit from a grownup perspective and compare it to how they boys perceive it?  Oh, oh... and you could use photos of you as a boy and photos of the boys at similar times and places.

My God, man, we are Midwesterners, we don't talk about that kind of stuff.

How about some more SAHD posts, we don't go there very often.  You could talk about being older and having young sons; about how disalienated you feel as a dad in a mom's world; about how you wonder what sort of impact being an at-home-dad has had on the boys; about feelings and stuff like that.

Oh shut up!  Anyway, every time I talk about that I get all riled up and I start to rant and...

... don't want to get Popoed, now do we?

Right.  Are then any, like, any good ideas around here?

I got it, how about starting that series we were thinking about.  You remember, the one where you take all the chapter headings in Kahlil Gibran's The Prohet and comment on them.  Remember?  On Love and On Marriage, On Children, On Giving, On Eating and Drinking ...

Yes, I know the headings in The Prophet.

... On Work, On Joy and Sorrow, On Houses, On Clothes, On Buying and Selling.

I get it. 

On Crime and Punishment, On Self-Knowledge, On Beauty, On Prayer - these are great topics dude, this'll work.  We could include an image of, or by, even, the boys that illustrates your brilliant copy perfectly.  You could try that more poetic voice you have been considering...

Please don't call it "copy."  It is tempting.  So literary and smart, timeless and retro; clever even.  Very ambitious.  We'd need to find the book and begin to match images up with the titles, and, what maybe fifteen hundred or so words for each one.  Yeah, this is great...  Seems like a lot of work, though.

Yeah, and no one would know what we were talking about.  I thought we were on to something there.

Yeah, what else?

Hey, how 'bout something from their school backpacks, something cute and sweet that we could lovingly tease about with our tongue in our cheek and a tear in our eye?

Oh man, that is a great idea.

I know - that blueprint thing that Zack did, and that adorable misspelled zoo thing Nick did.


Zack did this at school during the dreaded "inside recess":

 I know think imagine can only guess at what this all is and, my guess is that it is a space ship, sort of a space-lab kind of thing

I am pretty sure this is how it looks at lift-off, pretty cool technology at work there, what with the tubes and rockets and such

I think this is a detail of the landing gear, but I don't think this thing lands so, I am probably wrong.  It's important because it was on the the back of that first one.  On blue paper.

This seems to be a plan for the bathroom module, it's not clear to me if it is deployed later or how that all works.

This one is sort of a stumper, in hindsight it may not be part of the space thingee, but, an actual plan for a duplex with a shared rooftop play room accessed by a really cool outdoor, whole-house, elevator system.  That's tight...

Here is a map of a zoo N made at school:

Don't mind me, take a look around.  First you'll have to find the entrance:

There are a lot of animals and such:



Poler bears



Chetas and bettls


flying Squrrls
Lions, snakes, kangroos and bunnys

There is also, get this, a Lodge:

I had planned on translating the brochure for you, but, I have worn out my kid-to-adult decoder ring on this already.  And yes, 'lions' and 'snakes' are the only two he got right... oh, and he nailed 'bear.'

I was going to spare you but I changed my mind.  I just can't resist this stuff.  (Are there support groups for the spelling challenged.)


A robot zoo!  Who knew?

You know, there might be a future for him in copywriting, what with the "skittering" and "slithering."  He'll need a good editor though.  And a researcher.  Maybe he should just be a blogger...

Bazinga, I like that ending.

No, it's too cutesy.  And the whole thing is to damned long.  I'll have to make it shorter.  Maybe it should really be two posts, break the zoo thing out and expand the brainstorming session part and...

Dude, you don't need to, it's a blog, nobody, uh, really cares...

Yeah, your right.  What was that one, about the muddy faceplant?

Oh, right.   Maybe we could get a picture if we staged it, like on a rainy day and...

Shut.  Up.

Thanks for stopping by our all-staff meeting.  Nothing ever comes of these...

You forgot the 'backseat' thingee.

No, no, I did not, this is already too long and I don't think Marci posted anything new.

Just use something you heard them say, it's a blog, who'll know?

Just shut up...

Monday, April 8, 2013

From The Craft Table

This is Bob, not Turn-Around-Bob, a different Bob:

That last panel, on the bottom there are Bob's shoes.  He is standing in mud, which Nick, the imagineer behind Bob, thought was hilarious.  Bob hung in the dining room for a few weeks, all taped together.  He had to go to make room for the birthday banner we made the boys.

This is a photo I took of the backyard from Zack's chair at the dining room table:

Here is the drawing Zack made of that same scene:

Friday was Nick and Zack's eight birthday, Sunday we had a "Boy Party," nine boys in a big backyard on a beautiful Spring day.  I'd post a picture or two but, I'd venture to say you've seen a gang of boys, wielding sticks as swords, kicking volleyballs, climbing playsets and getting rowdy before.

But, I'd also venture to guess that you've never seen Bob before or "A Still-life with Yellow Cushions."  Both Bob and the picture were done of a winter's evening, after dinner, passing the time before bed.

Every birthday I think back at the things I am afraid won't happen much anymore.  I hope we always can find time for goofing off with a box of colored pencils and crayons and a pile of paper as a family together, but, I wonder, what with Z's baseball and N's soccer and choir and "Shooting Hopes" and biking and all.  I hope we will do it again sometime soon, like, say, November.

I hope they will still want to.  They grow faster than my heart can keep up with them.

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

"Maniacs are supposed to be nice."

Most I've known were...

 Thanks for stopping by.  Seriously, what's up with Bob's shirt?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"Shooting Hopes"

I think most people who blog - I hate the term "bloggers," the word seems unsavory and suspect somehow - most people who blog about their kids - (cringe) "parent bloggers" that is - find it ironic that they can't find time to write because they are too busy doing the stuff they write about.  There are worse predicaments, it occurs to me, so maybe I should just shut up about that.

Recently, I was sitting up late basically just thinking because, well, sometimes you just gotta think a thing or two through, and it was, like, one in the morning and I remember wishing for the clock to stop, so I could just get caught up.

I never really thought much about time growing up and as a young man.  I see now that I thought I had had plenty of it; plenty of it to waste and while away the hours watching old movies; plenty of time to wallow in piles of poetry, weeping for William's red wagon and Frost's yellow wood; plenty of time to watch the sunset and sunrise often on the same warm Midwestern summer's night.

I've smelled the roses.

I've watched for hours, scenes of highways and backroads, scenes of domesticity and drama, scenes of great, unbearable sadness and scenes of unfathomable joy.

I took the time, my time, sometimes your time or a friends', but, I actively grabbed the time, I plowed through time, I nurtured seeds in it, I planted thoughts and characters and dreams in it's rich soil and, I found myself rewarded.

Now, now time scares me, I can no longer manage it.  Time for this, time for that, plan this, that must be done or this and this and this can't happen.  Now.  Soon.  Man, how do we keep up it all?  I can't just do something, I have to consider it, both literally, as in planning and execution of a, say, trip to the park.  I also have to think of it through the filters of words and feelings.  What are the implications of a trip to the park?  What does this one thing add to, build on?  Who is served by this, who is the beneficiary of this trip, this place we go to?  What is the memory I am building, what is the metaphysical meaning of this?

I know, it's annoying isn't it?  But, I never really minded in the past.  I remember once I went canoeing with a group of friends.  I fell in once, had a change of clothes, fell in again as we came into the livery and, I had a change of clothes in my truck.  I always had a change of clothes in my truck, or car, or backpack, or...  Well you get the picture.

I was prepared, because I'd had the time to think it all through.

Honestly, these days I don't.  I once wrote, in a post called "Who Keeps Chuckling" that "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."

Sometimes a make a note of it, I talked about that in "Post-It Notes".  Sometimes I bid it goodbye, often wondering if it will come back again, more mature, less needy, more compelling.

I once read that genius was not simply smarts, but it was more a fiery wreck at the intersection of intelligence and timing, perfect timing.  You invent the exact thing that is needed at an exact moment in technological history, genius Edison.  You imagine an ideal government just as it is needed, nice job bearded Greek dudes.  You get a commission to paint a ceiling at exactly the time when the paint will last for ages, and inspire forever, beauty, Michelangelo.

I think genius might lay elsewhere, I think it is in the sheer audacity of choosing one single thing out of the miasma of neurons flying through our minds, and knowing it is perfect, it is the one to pursue, the way to go, knowing it is right.

Thing is, that takes time.

I'm no genius, you're no genius, the boys aren't geniuses, unless, unless that is... we all are.

On the way home from practice the other day I asked Zack what he was thinking.  I do that, it's annoying, I know, but I don't think it irritates the boys, yet.  He said he was thinking about what he could do better in baseball.

On another trip Nick, when asked the same question said that he was just thinking about "friends and soccer and words and stuff, you know."

Yes I do know, buddy, I do know.

So, I say waste your time when you can boys, watch movies and cartoons, throw a ball into the air and catch it as long as you can, kick that ball against the garage wall all day, sing a song in an endless loop in your head.  Dig in mud, jump from a shed, climb a tree.  These wasted hours are the stuff of dreams, the place where hope and happiness are foundered, steeled.  These days of youthful lost hours let you imagine, consider, divine even, your way to your future self.

It takes time to grow a boy; take it, I'll give it to you.  I promise.

We head down to the park quite frequently to shoot some baskets on the court there.  The other day Nick felt compelled to write a note to the, uh... pets.  Not his mother, but, the pets.

Here it is:

Yep, "shooting hopes."

Every hope is like a shooting star, destined to end in a short time but also  destined to live on; in our memories, in our thoughts, in our prayers, in our hearts.  As long as we take the time to think about it.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

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

N: “It is every man for himself here today …”

Z: “That sounds awful.”

(I agree, buddy)

I got nuthin'...