29 October 2008

School Picture Day

I'm not a big fan of school pictures...or any sort of organized picture taking for that matter. Hell, I'm not even a little, teeny fan of them. I prefer candid shots. I have roughly a billion of them, so if I need a good one, it's just a quick digital flip away. The Wife however just has to have them. One or two a year. Now that The Boy is in kindergarten, we can at least forgo the whole scheduling routine. So here's how my first class picture went:

The night before, The Wife announces that The boy will participate in a bath and hair washing activity. He didn't seem to mind much. Boffo. So after dinner, she was on the phone and the boy wanted to play soccer in the house. (Hey, it was a soft, little ball, don't look at me like that. We hardly ever break anything.) I said, "Okay."

We play for a bit and I pretty much just stand there and block an occasional shot. One time (oddly enough, the last time for the night) I blocked a shot by trapping the ball. He kept running and launched a kick at it.


I was wearing shoes; he was not.

"Waaaaaa, Mommy!"

"Dude, are you okay?"

He calmed down after a few minutes and we found that he had bent his nail back a bit on his toe. Ouchy, yes, but he was working on a oscar.

One band aid and one popsicle later, all seemed to be well. Then The Wife said, "Let's go take a bath so you can look good for your picture tomorrow."

"Waaa, my toe hurts too much to take a bath."

Of course, I got 'the look' at that point. Wha? Me? He's the one not taking a bath and he kicked me. I was utterly not at fault here.

I went to do dishes. When in doubt, I find that some light housework takes the heat off.

The Wife came in after a few minutes and smacked me (playfully...mostly) in the shoulder and said, "You just had to sabotage me."

"Me? I'm an innocent here. It was The Boy."


and back to dishes for me...

The morrow comes...

The Wife has one day a week that she works an evening so I come in an hour early and we split the day. I'm at my desk and the phone rings. Hmmm...I see it's the cell phone.


*whud* *whud* *whud* (that's the sound the back of the car seat makes when it's being kicked...also insert assorted screams and wails.)

"The Boy will not get out of the car to go to school."

"Be right there."

Aside: I'm lucky here. Work is roughly two minutes from work. It would be one minute, but there's this pesky 'school zone.' in the way.

Tangent: School is also five minutes from my house. That's right, I can drive to school, boot The Boy out of the car, and make it to work in under seven minutes. My life rocks.

Anyway, I get there and she had coaxed the wiener out of the car. I grabbed his school bag and we trooped to the doors. He was still all blubbery, but I'm immune to that stuff. He's a first class actor. We got inside and the reason for the outburst was, "I don't wanna get my picture taken."

So I said, "You don't have to get it taken if you don't want to." Hah! Score one against the tyranny of posed pictures!

The Wife chimed in, "That's right, you don't have to."

Game, set, and match baby.

His teacher came down and we got him into the classroom and that was that.

Later, another call from the cell.


"Hi daddy! I got my picture taken today!"

I sure seemed to be my cell, but who was this child on the other end? I asked, "Did you have fun?"

"Yup, I was the first in line."

What I wanted to say: "Well what the hell was all that crap this morning?!"

What I said, "Well, that's awesome buddy. I'm proud of you."


This is why I hate organized pictures. They induce psychoses in women and children. I know it's some sort of plot by the Joint Photographic Experts Group. I will find a way to stop it. It's my mission.


Speaking of pictures:


That's right, that's me in my awesome, new, customized t-shirt from Jen at Steenky Bee. I was hand (well, mouth actually) picked by the only and only Henners. Seriously though, it's kinda the nicest one that I have. You know...since guys don't buy new ones until the old ones are pretty much unrecognizable as clothing.


Only a few days until Halloween if you're interested in my Halloween story : Click the linky.


26 October 2008

It isn't my fault

Here I was thinking that my church observations were over...all played out. I had even made a sort of pact with myself that I was going to pay attention and everything.

We got to church Sunday and normally there is a girl there who sings all the churchly hymns and stuff up front. She has a fantastic voice. Our lector for the day, we'll call him Mr. Flatty, did not. He had what can only be termed as a 'god-forsaken' voice maybe even a 'touched-by-satan-himself' kind of voice. He sang anyway, the brave soul. I was awesome though. I hardly chucked through his opening string of clinkers. My wife did not admire my restraint as much though so I received the first official 'look' of the morning.

Not too bad for the first three minutes of church I thought. Then the priest walked up the aisle for mass followed by three Knights of Columbus (some Catholic club thing) in full regalia. Don't get me wrong, the feathery hats and capes are nice looking, I just don't think I could take myself seriously in this:


So they make the rounds and come to seat themselves two rows in front of me. Precisely one row in front of me is an adorable, little girls who blurts, "Are they pirates mommy?"


That's the sound I make when I poorly contain a belly laugh. Since I was already mildly unhinged by off-key guy up front, this bout of laughter took supreme effort to subdue. Again, I was quite proud of myself. Low and behold though; I had earned a second 'look.' C'mon, that was funny, Wife. I'm quite sure Jesus would have peed himself on that one.

Flatty set off on another voyage into what was, for him, the unfamiliar territory of music. I thought I would have been able to handle it until he made the daring move of trying to add an entire third note into his list of musical achievements. Even my wife was in shock at that one so I missed getting another 'look.'

It turned out that the reason that the KoC were there was that there was a new priest that was just ordained. He joined in with Flatty in 'song' and although I never caught his name, I can only assume it was Father Tony Deaf. The duet set me over the edge but I was saved by The Boy, who needed a potty break.

When we got back the Knights standing again with their Deluxe Long John Silver hats on. I gave The Wife the 'Hey,' look that you do in church and she replied with the, 'What do you want?' eyebrow. I leaned over and said, "Yarrrr." She laughed in spite of herself and I got a pinch. Sheesh, I try to add a little levity and what reward do I get?

The noob priest got to do the sermon and it turned out he had a thick accent. Awesome. Grand. I love a good, unintelligible sermon. After he got rolling, I caught on and picked up some phrases here and there. At one point he said, "They, like you were responsible for Jesus's death."

I thought, "Dude, I was nowhere near the scene of the crime." I don't believe in the whole 'sins of the father' line of reasoning so you're not pinning that one on me...and leave my boy out of it too.

There was another duet by the Flatty and Fr. Deaf. I was laughing by the end of it since if finished on some high notes that they abused soundly. It was then that I heard a child call out loudly, "Is it time for the cookies yet?" The child was located to my right and looked suspiciously like my son.


We got our cookies -- Jeebus flavored goodness -- and got out of there.

Am I the only one that this stuff happens to in church? Nearly every time I go there's something that I can't resist talking about. Maybe it's just Catholics. I give up, no more pacts. I'm just going to assume that God clearly wants me to blog in church.

Also: If you haven't seen it and are interested in my Halloween story gifty thing: Click the linky.

23 October 2008

Go to Sleep + an Award

Ahh, the wonders of not being able to sleep. A brief replay of my morning:
Brain: What time is it?
Eyes: 5:00
Body: Go to sleep
Brain: Want to know what song keeps running through me?
Body: No.
Brain: That song that FADKOG had on her site the other day. "This bed is on fire
With passion and love."
Body: Shut up. She's lucky she's awesome or I'd make some sort of public remark (say in a blog) about her keeping me up.
Brain: What time is it now?
Eyes: 5:05.
Body: Both of you be quiet. Eyes, no more answering brain.
Eyes: Gotcha.
Brain: We don't need sleep. We have day long access to the 'sleep substitute'...coffee. "The neighbors complain about the noises above."
Body: GO TO SLEEP. We have all sorts of computery crap to do later on.
Brain: Pfft. I can do that stuff in my sleep.
Body: Which is what you should be doing now.
Chest: What is going on?
Eyes: The cat is perched on you. Um...could somebody move the cat? His nose is like an eighth of an inch from my cornea and it's freakin' me out.
Body: Do NOT touch the cat. Then he'll know we're awake and get all playful and purrity and cute and crap.
Nose: I hate allergy season.
Body: Go to sleep nose.
Nose: I'd love to but...you know...allergies.
Body: I hate involuntary bodily functions.
Heart: Oh really? Do you?
Body: Bite me, you know what I mean.
Mr. Willikers: Heh, he said, "Bite me."
Body: I'm ignoring that.
Eyes: Hey hands, can I get some help up here.
Hands: What's up?
Eyes: Sleepy dust, the usual.
Hands: K, brt
Body: Ahh, the cat knows we're awake you buffoons. That's it. Screw you guys, I'm getting up.
Mr. Willikers: Heh, he said, "Screw."
Hands: Awesome, can we blog now?

There was about another 45 minute's worth, but you get the idea.

The Point at Which an Award is Acknowledged in a Timely Manner:

Carrie over at Confessions who gave my this award which appeals very much to writerly ol' me:

Thank you very much Carrie. She's great and is going to fill out that pirate costume in a pretty inspiring way, I'm sure. Stop over and check her blog. She even left a comment -- in plain sight (that is to say where I could see it...with ease) -- to tell me about it.

The Victims (these are all great blogs that you should be reading if you aren't already. I won't wax prosaic though since these awards things take almost as much time as memes):

  1. Mrs. D. at A cup of thought, an ounce of sass, & just a dash of crazy
  2. Loralee at Loralee's Looney Tunes
  3. Maggie at Okay. Fine. Dammit.
  4. Mr Lady at Whiskey in my Sippy Cup
  5. Mike at The Newborn Identity

The rules (I actually followed them for once):

  1. Name 5 other Super Scribblers.
  2. If you are named you must link to the author & the name of the blog that gave you the award.
  3. Then you must display the award and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
  4. Finally you must visit the aforementioned post and tell your name to Mr. Linky. Then they will have a record of all the people who are Super Scribblers!
  5. Post the rules on your blog.

20 October 2008

Giving the Government Way

The other day I walked to my mailbox at work, and there it was; the 9 x 12 manilla envelope. That can only mean a few things here...either more work or more crap for the recycle bin. In this case it was an annual appeal for the SECA campaign. This is not to be confused with either A) Sega SegaGenesis1

or B) Seka


I know Sega is much more enjoyable and I suspect Seka would be but I have no first hand experience with her body of work, so I'm guessing there.

Anyway, SECA stands for State Employee Combined Appeal. What that boils down to is the state of PA comes to my mailbox and asks for donations to various charities and they will lovingly deduct straight from my check if I would so desire. Every year I toss it unceremoniously in the garbage can. This year however, I have a blog, so it has a few days of respite.

Why toss it? First and foremost, I am a past president of the local American Cancer Society and remain on the leadership council. That's where I volunteer my time and most of the money that I donate to charities. Secondly, when was the last time you can think of your state correctly managing anything remotely associated with money?

For a lark, I opened it up to see where the ACS was listed. Hmmm...it wasn't under 'America's charities' which would sort of belie the whole of the letter 'A' in ACS. Ahhh, there it is. Listed sporadically in separate counties...under the headings of 'PA United Ways.' So let me get this straight. You would like me to donate to a third-party who will give that money to a third-party who will finally give it to the place I already donate to so that the state of PA can rest well tonight.

I'm thinking that the ACS will probably be lucky to end up with a quarter of what they usually do in this deal.

If your charity isn't listed in the little book, evidently the state thinks they blow. Go find another one. Screw those homeless waifs and get a real charity dammit.

What will also be fun is the emails and messages in my mailbox urging things like '100% participation' and promoting our university 'through the spirit of giving.'

What I would like to see is having it promoted the way it should be. "Let's get 100% participation so those charities can get less of what you give." or "promoting our university through the spirit of wasting," would be awesome.

Hopefully, some year, people will come their senses, look in the little book for their favorite charity, and give to them directly.

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19 October 2008

Sunday Randomness

A line you don't want to hear when the kids are playing in the other room from one of the girls your son is playing with: "Dare me to stick my tongue in it?"

AHHHH. I don't even want to know. God lord, don't make me look around that corner. Then I heard a mechanical sort of "whirr," from one of his toys and thought, "Phew, at least it's only going to be a flesh wound."


When you're driving down the highway and they have one of those signs that tells you how fast you're going in the construction zone and it's Sunday, the point is to get high score, right? I don't want to think I've been doing it wrong all these years.


We went to pick pumpkins today at the farm that we go to every year. A view of the mountains today from the hayride. I think we're a little past peak here, but it's still a nice view.



16 October 2008

Poor Child

I'm thinking this is some father-son thing or some 'I'm six now and will show my independence regardless of the consequences' thing, but my son will just be contrary at random. It's more pronounced when he's tired. The Boy doesn't get tired; he gets pissy and then passes out. Yes, this is the same little angel from yesterday, but we all know the score. Most days it's sweetness and light and then you get those days.

A scene from just a few days ago:

Me: "Jacob, did you see that?"

Jacob: "Don't call me Jacob."

Me: "But that's your name. I can get your ID if you would like...Jacob." (Yeah, I know the added Jacob there was just to get under his skin, but if he gets to razz me, I get to razz back.)

Jacob: "Stop calling me Jacob."

Me: "Okay, I'm going to call you Matilda then."

Matilda: "Stop it."

Me: "Okay, Matilda."

Matilda: "Don't call me that."

Me: "Hmmm...we'll need a form of address though in case of emergency." At this point his eyes narrowed. He's smart and is well-versed in my satiric ways. "I'm going with wiener then. If I need your attention I'll just yell out, 'Hey, wiener,' and you can respond."

Weiner: "Mawm! Dad's picking on me!"

Another random scene:

Me: "Hey, buddy. You tire is looking a little low on your bike. I'll get the pump and you can fix that with me.

Jacob (at least for now): "Stop picking on me."

Me: "Only trying to help."

Jacob: "Stop picking on me."

Me: *practiced silence*

So The Boy rides off, takes a corner too quick, and flops over. He gets up and seems to be in one piece.

Me: "Are you okay, buddy?"

Wiener: "Stop picking on me."

He gets back on his bike a wobbles by due to a wonky tire.

Matilda: "My bike feels funny."

Me: "That may be because you need a little air in your tire."

Uber-wiener: "Mawm! Daddy's bein' mean."

Fortunately, The Wife has seen this stuff happen and no longer feels the need to ask what's going on. If I roll my eyes she knows that he's in 'wiener mode.' She is much better at dealing with wiener mode than I am. I tend to play it as a scene from an Abbott and Costello movie. It's going to go south anyway, so I may as well enjoy myself. She, however, does special mom things that are startlingly similar to my initial dad things to pull him out of the perilous spiral of total wienerfication.

I don't know if any of you see this stuff, but I'm guessing he'll grow out of it eventually. At least it gives me material.


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15 October 2008

Child of Our Hearts

Jen over at Steenky Bee and I are both adoptive parents. I forget how she found out that I was. She stalks people you know...it could have been through any number of sources. After she did though, we thought it would be nice to do a dual post with the theme of how we are (or in my case, will) talk to our children about adoption. Here's mine. Stop over at Steenky Bee after and Jen will show you hers.

Our son is just turned six last month. My wife and I adopted our son from Korea. He arrived when he was six months old. He knows he was born in Korea and he's faced the inevitable, "Where are you from?" question numerous times. (He answers with his hometown -- we've taught him well.) My Wife and I haven't made his adoption an issue yet since we know it will come up in due time. We don't know how it will come up or how much he will want to know. Nothing is a secret though, it's just how it is. We're a family; he's our son. The deeper questions will come though so I just thought I'd answer a few now.

"Why wasn't I born in your tummy mommy?" You had an extra special birth. Even though you were born in Korea, we carried you in our hearts from half a world away. You grew in your birth mommy's tummy and we love her for that.

"Why did my birth mommy give me away?" She wanted the best for you. She felt like she couldn't give it to you because of her circumstances -- the way things were in her life -- but she knew we were here to take perfect care of you.

"How did I get here?" You came by airplane. You had an escort who had the most important job in the world -- bringing our family together. You looked so tiny when you came down the ramp in the stroller. You just looked around while the people getting off the plane congratulated us. They said you were very good on the plane and didn't cry at all. I was scared and nervous as your escort placed you in my arms for the first time. You weren't though. You were calm and peaceful. You knew you were home.

It's amazing how much I would like to tell you now...about how we stared and stared at the pictures that your foster mother sent us until we had them memorized...about how the wait was so hard -- even though it was a mere nine months...about how, after so long trying to conceive, we finally were able to make our family whole. You're only six right now though and you're more concerned if we have any red popsicles left or whether you can go ride your bike with your friends on the block.

No matter what happens or what questions you have or when you start to be curious, we'll be there for you. We found each other across continents and our family was made whole. You were born in our hearts and will always remain there. Let the questions come


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13 October 2008

Dust Bunnies

One more story from my college days:

When I was in the living in the dorms I had a buddy who lived across the hall. I'll call him, Steve, but only because that's his real name. He had a roommate whose name was Dustin.

Dustin never talked.


It sort of freaked Steve out. I think he used to get a, "Hi," out of him now and then, but other than that it was silence. After a few months of this, it was freaking Steve out.

Steve, my roommate (Ecks -- not his real name, but that's what we called him,) and I used to play cards together every Friday night. Dustin used to vacate the room for us and we would hang out in Steve's room and play cards for a while.

One night, we got to talking about Dustin and how he was wearing on Steve since he never talked to him.

Steve: "It's really weird. I don't even like being around him. It's not normal. I keep waiting for him to snap."

We agreed and the night wore on. We got a little impish at one point and started playing tricks on Dustin. Nothing serious...we turned his drawers over so his stuff would fall on the floor when he opened them, we glued the pages shut in an unused notebook...you know, standard college pranks.

The night wore on and we kept playing cards. Normally we only played cards for about two hours and Dustin would come back. That was usually our signal to break up the game. He didn't come back that night though, so we kept playing. After close to four hours, we were getting tired, so we were ready to call it a night. Ecks wanted to squeeze in one more prank though. It was just a simple tie all his shoelaces together prank.

Ecks reached under Dustin's bed to grab some shoes.

Ecks: "Um...guys?"

Me: "What?"

Ecks: His voice quavered a little, "Um...Dustin is under the bed."

Us: "You are so full of shit."

Ecks: "Why don't you come look?"

We shook our heads and walked over. We laid on the ground next to Ecks. Two eyes glinted back at us from the the far recesses under the bed.

You have never seen three people depart a room as quickly as we did that night. We got back to our room.

Steve: "There is no way I am sleeping in that room tonight."

Me: "You can sleep here. Of course, he can get through that door with an axe pretty easily."

Steve: "Hate you."

We all jumped when the door flew open and Dustin stood there. He slid a chair into the room and said, "You forgot your chair."

He left and Steve said, "That's the most he's said all semester."

Eventually we all calmed down and Steve went to confront psycho boy. It turned out that ultimately he was just really, un-freaking-believably, shy. He had hidden under the bed that night to see what we thought about him and since we never left, he was trapped. He came out of his shell after that and we all became close friends.

We were sort of lucky that he wasn't a psycho though. He would have totally murdered us in our sleep for that one. The headlines would have read, "Three college students found murdered with 733 stab wounds...each."I still laugh when I think of what it must have looked like from his point of view with the three of us peering under the bed at him.

He still remains the first and only person to have ever burned me in effigy though. That happened after I started calling him 'dust bunny."

12 October 2008

Late Sunday Randomness

In response to Kelley for pictures (or in this case a picture), I can at least offer her this:


Ahhh, scars. The memories that last a lifetime. This should also make Ellie happy. She was concerned as to the location of the brand. She seemed mildly frightened while asking. Odd.

My birthday was great. Thanks to all for the well-wishing. My actual birthday was so busy with pre-scheduled activities for The Boy, that we had my birthday dinner today. It was this. If you like lasagna, this one is awesome. I'll have to flush my arteries with a firehose to clear the cholesterol from all the cheese in this one, but it's well worth it.

The Wife had a friend come in from Florida for a visit, so I assembled the lasagna myself. That's okay though because I love to cook. Eating a good meal is fine, but creating it adds to the whole experience for me.

My wife knows me well. I got this (with an accompanying bottle)


and more importantly this:


It's one of those little video recorders. This could make blogging even more interesting. I guess I could capture family moments too, but I've gotta have priorities.

Just a little update for today.


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11 October 2008

The Road Trip

Today is the day that I turn 40. It's no big deal to me since I'm precisely one day older than yesterday and I think you're only as old as the crap you can still pull off. Since it's a nice, round number though, I've decided to honor it by blogging a few experiences which have made me happy that I've actually survived to make it to 40.

Don't try this stuff at home kids. I'm a highly-trained idiot.

I belong to a fraternity, the name isn't important here, just the fact that we used to road trip regularly to the college where our fraternity was founded. This was done to show how proud we were of our heritage and I think there was drinking involved too.

So some of us hopped in the car it was off to New York with us. It was a station wagon from the 60's and was just about as long as your average houseboat. In short, the perfect road-trip-mobile.

We got there around eight or so and promptly started drinking exploring our heritage. After a few hours, when we were appropriately sauced, we took a tour of campus and made our way back to the house.

I may have inadvertently forgot to mention that one way of celebrating our heritage was by getting a brand. You read it right -- a brand. Just like cows. But dumber. Why dumber? Because cows have no choice and can't opt out. I should mention that I would totally do it again, but that's because wisdom has not been bestowed upon me across the board. It's shown a sense of whimsy and has been selective in enforcing itself.

Here's what I would not do again:

When we got back to the house, it turned out that the dude in charge of the brand was dead drunk in his room. Which was locked. I mean he was really drunk. I don't know how many people could sleep through four rowdy inebriates pounding on their door at midnight, but I do not number among them.

After a while we gave up. I, however, am a creative thinker. Outside the box is where I live so I said, "Maybe we could get in through his window if it's not locked." We all thought that idea was boffo until one of my brothers pointed out that we were on the third floor.

"Pfft," said I, "That just means his window probably isn't locked."

We entered an adjoining room and found that there was no ledge.


We did notice though that there was one of those ladders that unrolled in each room so that there was a method of egress in case of fire. We borrowed it.

This house had no fourth floor, but it did have an attic. The house had a flat roof and a trap door that led up to it, presumably for star-gazing or a quiet afternoon of cloud watching and tea. Most definitely NOT for drunken assholes looking to mutilate themselves.

But there we were anyway striking fear into the heart of common sense.

The ladder was unrolled and with three guys holding it at the top -- they had to since there was no place to hook it on to -- I descended. On the way down I heard someone say, "If we drop him, his mom's gonna be pissed."

I thought, "and I should regain the power of speech and walking in only a few short years." I was drunk though, so it was really funny at the time.

I got down to the third floor and found that I was at the window that we had pilfered the ladder from.

"Hey, you guys need to swing me over to the left one window." Being the accommodating lads they were, they swung me over while I held on tight. I got to the window, which was unlocked, and climbed in.

I heard someone say, "Holy shit! Did he make it or fall off?" He sounded worried so I called up, "Not dead."

I flipped on the light and shook the guy awake. Once he was up I asked him where the brand was. He found it and handed it too me. About this time, he had regained most of his senses and said, "How'd you get in the room?"

I just said, "Window," and let him ponder that one. I unlocked the door and the rest is fairly self-explanatory. If you've ever wondered what a localized third-degree burn feels like, it's not too bad. I know because by the time it came to get the brand I was pretty much sober. It's the healing part that's sort of ouchie.

More daring adventures later!

05 October 2008

Pet Extravaganza '08

My wife is on the board of the local SPCA and once a year they have an event where lots of people show up and brings their pets. It's a nice fund raiser for them and it's a good time for everyone involved. One of the main events is the doggy olympics where people complete (good-naturedly) with their dogs. The events are the tunnel race, the ramp run, and the carry-the-egg-on-the-spoon-while-heeling-your-dog race. The contestants all have a good time, but those dogs end up having all the fun. I've come up with a few ideas to make it better.

1. The Tunnel Race - This is where the owner has their dog run through a tunnel. Dogs, by nature, don't like tunnels and prefer to go around. I'm thinking we should have the owners do something they don't like at the end of the race. Perhaps a quick dental checkup at the finish line. Hey, I'm only thinking of people's health here.

2. The ramp run - This is another thing some dogs don't like. For Example:


So I figure we should have the owners run along side...for motivational purposes. Except that's an awfully low ramp. We should grease it for a little challenge. We already have a dentist there if someone does a face plant.

3. The egg race - This one is easy enough. I noticed this year that very few people dropped their eggs though. That's the whole point, isn't it? Next year I'm bringing along a bag of squirrels to release mid-race. Anyone who comes back with a whole egg after that will deserve a ribbon.

The Boy helped out during events too. He's a future volunteer like his mom and dad. He helped set up the events for the dogs and also registered people. The only drawback there was that everyone he registered were hard to differentiate since they were all listed as, "YOU."


Eventually The Wife and I will have to tussle over where he volunteers. He's definitely leaning towards the SPCA right now. Those damn cute puppies and kittens win every time. I need to get him to a relay-for-life event to see if I can pull him over to the ACS with me.

We wrapped up with our annual blessing of the pets by my priest. (On a related post, check here for a good laugh) It turned out to be a great day overall. The SPCA raised some money and it was a beautiful day.Despite some reluctance on the parts of some dogs, they had a good time too. I know; I saw them wag their tails.

No ramps, Boys, tunnels, or animals were hurt in the posting of this blog.

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03 October 2008

Charlie's Place

It's Fall. Something a little different today...

We were riding bikes with The Boy the other day. It's a nice neighborhood where everybody on the block literally knows everyone else on the block. There's a house on the corner that's Charlie's house. The Boy usually rides in his driveway before coming back out to the road to meet us. He never used to ride on his lawn though. Charlie was meticulous with his lawn.

I remember when he would occasionally get his picture in the local newspaper posing in front of his garden. He had A yard full of tulips of every hue imaginable. The only thing grander than those tulips was the smile he would show for the photographer. He was one of those people who could plan his garden so that something was in bloom every single week. As fast as one flower would fade, another would take it's place with no trace of a wilted flower anywhere.

If the wind was blowing in the right direction, you could catch the faint scent of the flowers from our back porch. This usually led to a walk or a bike ride past Charlie's place so we could see what had popped up in his garden.

He had a few friends that would stop over just about every evening. They had a swing at the far end of a lawn the color of green that would make golf courses shake with envy. They would always wave and call our son over. I used to tread lightly when we walked across the lawn to visit, but Charlie never cared. The only thing he enjoyed more than his gardening were the kids in the neighborhood.

Charlie slowed down and the leaves out front became a problem for him during the fall. Offers for help from neighbors went unheeded while his would catch his breath on the curb halfway through raking. Eventually the grand, old oaks in front of his house came down to save him the trouble. It was a little shocking for those of us so used to the view. The sky seemed garish against his house; clouds scoured his roof line. The mountains loomed up behind his house and bore it down.

His friends would only stop over once a week or so now. We started to see someone come over and help out with the garden and the lawn with Charlie making a guest appearance now and then. He still always made sure to wave when he was out.

The first weeds started to show in Charlie's lawn late one Summer. We stopped and gawked and then moved respectfully on. No one waved at us from the swing any longer. The scents from his garden no longer greeted us on our back porch.

Charlie passed not too long after the first weeds showed up. Now they grow tall...taller even than his tulips once did. The house sits abandoned and The Boy can be seen riding his bike across his previously pristine lawn before we call him back.

Hopefully someone will move in soon and bring some life back into that small corner of the organism that is my neighborhood but I'm pretty sure, no matter what, it will always be Charlie's place.

UPDATED: In a peculiar turn of events, the day after I posted this, we saw a few vehicles at Charlie's place. They were moving furniture and other items out. We finally got an opportunity to talk to the people moving while we were riding bikes. It turned out that Charlie's niece, one of the people who used to stop over nearly every evening and swing, had bought Charlie's place and is moving in. She's retired now and it will be a few weeks until she moves in. I'm heading over to tomorrow to mow those weeds for her and give Charlie's place fresh look for a new start.

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02 October 2008

Things that make a dad proud

There are moments in life where you really get to see what kind of influence you are having on your son.

A short list of some cool stuff that's making me all proud:

1. He'll be all dressed to go somewhere and I'll come downstairs wearing, let's say black jeans. He looks down at his jeans, trots up the stairs and comes down in his own set of black jeans. For some reason though I'm the only one that ever gets the line, "Is that what you're wearing?" from The Wife even if we're dressed identically.

2. I have a big pirate flag in the office and occasionally, The Boy will have me attach his own pirate flag to whatever he's riding at the time. I see it flapping behind him as he rides around and think, "Yaaarrrrr! That's me boyo makin' his pa proud."

3. He knows the all the words to Margaritaville and Pencil-Thin Mustache and will sing them in the car with me. I try to make sure we're already singing in the car when The Wife gets in so that she won't be able to put on that damnable country music she listens to. She would never interrupt a sing along.

4. He will also request that the Flogging Molly CD be played in the car. He hasn't quite got the lyrics down yet, but it's only a matter of time.

5. He says "sweet' with the proper inflection. (That would be 'suh-weet' for the uninitiated out there.)

Yeah, yeah, he's all polite and respectful and crap too. He gets that from us, but I was talking about the really important stuff up there.

There are the occasional bad influences we have. When he says "shit," though, that's his mom's fault. I will, however, totally admit to it being my fault when I hear a "Jesus H. Christ," out of him.


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