Thought I Would be More Productive

I did not intend for it to be this long. One would think I had a bit to say. While not necessarily earth shattering, or even highly interesting, it has been eventful.

For starters, I am extremely craving moompies. Not exactly sure why, as it is not among my favorites. But now you know. Oh, my son, Jared, and his girlfriend, Meghan, have bought a home. Very nice, but so empty. Their apartment was a bit smaller and nice and furnished. It gives them something to enjoy, put together and enjoy as a statement of ‘them’. They were looking to paint the bedroom when we visited. Such creativity. It will be enjoyable to watch.

My daughter, Nicole, recently moved into a row home that she and a friend will be renting. She is spending weekends in Charleslet with her Tayler, her boyfriend. He recently graduated from NCSU and is finding his mark in a new job. Best of wishes to them.

As I said, there has been a bit going on lately of which I hope to share more than I have lately.

…till next time.

Family That Blogs Together

Well, my Tuesday’s with Nicole continue to be a high point of my weeks and the thought of her moving back home is exciting (another post). What is really cool, is that she is now blogging. OK, she has not yet laid down a trend to know if she will be any more prolific than her old man, but I do so enjoy reading her stuff… and it is not just because she says sweet things about her dad. So, go over and visit and while your there leave some comment love.

Tuesdays with Nicole

For about a month now I have been meeting my daughter for breakfast Tuesday mornings. We meet at a local coffee/bagel shop before heading to work. I really enjoy this time with her. I am always the first to arrive for our breakfast. Nicole is typically not distracted by being on time. I have come to believe this is a genetic predisposition for which she can thank her mother.

Nicole has a busy life full of all kinds of distractions; some more serious than other — not unlike most 22 year olds. She is working full time and going to school part time as well as working with a young boy through the Autism Society part time. Nicole has an incredible heart, for which I also think her mother deserves a genetic nod.

Nicole has been dating a wonderful young man for long enough to suggest it will be with him that she spends her future. With this comes the likely prospect that she will be moving away in the not too distant future; maybe next year, perhaps the following. It is this prospect that has me holding jealously tight to my Tuesday mornings all the more.

My Life As A Chew Toy

Allow me to introduce Dylan. He is a Labrador Retriever of the yellow persuasion. You’ll notice his coloring is a bit different from what you commonly see. He has the eye and nose coloring of a Chocolate Lab; green eyes and a liver colored nose. This is a totally acceptable coloring for the breed, but is just not common. We have grown so used to it that the dark nose and eyes that you typically see on Yellow Labs now looks peculiar to us. Dylan was born on June 9, 2007 and came to live with us at eight weeks of age. He is now 14 months old and every ounce of his 85 pounds is still pure puppy.

I can not think of a period of time in my life that did not include a dog. The list ranges from Dachshunds to St. Bernards. Most, however, have been mutts. Anyone who has had different breeds of dogs knows how each breed has certain characteristics and personality traits common to it. We had a Dalmatian for 13 years who simply longed to please. She also had a lot of energy. Our Corgi, being a herding breed, liked to think he was in charge… always… no excuses. What I am learning to love about Labrador Retrievers is that they are the quintessential dog. Dylan lives to fetch sticks. In lieu of any other distractions, he will sit and chew said stick until there is little left but a stub and a pile of wood -ships- chips. Oh, and don’t get between him and a body of water. The first time we had him at the park, he walked over to the lake and proceeded to step on in. There was no, “hmm, what’s this?” Nope, it was, “hey, this is cool!”

When Dylan is out in the yard he is off-leash. From day one he has not had a tendency to wander. When he is caught up in the various scents and goings-on outside he will regular check to see where his master is and makes it a point to stay near. He has, however, expanded his territory a bit by allowing the neighbors to become among his best friends. If there is someone out working in their yard, he invites himself over for a neighborly chin rub and a quick update on the surrounding scents.

While Dylan is still very energetic and inquisitive, he has thankfully out grown the puppy teething phase. He is such a sweetheart, but when the gums were bothering him he could not resist a good chew. Even though we kept a reasonable supply of allowable chewables, he often would prefer an arm or wrist — especially if it happened to be giving him a rub down at the time.

Dinner and a Movie

My daughter really likes watching movies with her dad.
My daughter really likes that her dad loves watching movies with her.

Recent my daughter and I watched the musical Rent. She has been talking about it for awhile so I put it on our online queue and when it came in we planned an evening. She made fajitas.

I am of the more traditional musical bent — Guys and Dolls, Hello Dolly… — you know what I mean. So, I was a bit suspect of Rent. To begin with, the story is not your typical musical fodder. It is a very gritty story about relationships; some breaking, some mending. It is about injustices; speaking out against, living with. It is about AIDS.

It is a well written story. I would have liked to have been taken deeper with some of the aspects, but it is a musical. There is a particular song of which one line went, “The opposite of war is not peace, it is creation.”

Imagine, if you will, Americans bringing peace to Iraq.
Imagine, if you will, Americans and Iraqis, together, creating…

So, What’ve You Been Up To?

So, what’ve you been up to? I’ve been rather busy myself. Life has a way of taking over. I say that not to suggest it is a bad thing. In fact a lot of what has been going on has been quite exciting.

The buggy is back from the shop and perfect timing too with gas prices doing what they are. A few short months ago I was paying $2.69/gal for diesel while others were shelling out about $2.15/gal for gas. Last week I filled up for $2.89/gal while the gas consumers at the same station were parting with $3.11/gal. Regardless of price, the past two weeks I have been fairly consistent in my driving — very few short trips and quick jaunts. With a 32 mile roundtrip each day, and most of it open highway miles, I have finally exceeded 50mpg. When my son and I drove back from PA last November we reached a trip average of 53.3mpg, as seen here in a picture my son took with his phone, but I have been unable to beat the mid 40’s during ‘normal’ driving… until now.

I have also been looking at an interesting option for fuel and intend on writing in some more detail about that thought process. As prices climb, the option is looking more and more obvious. I may even get a custom license plate that reads “OPECWHO”.

A while back I mentioned that a group of us began meeting to consider offering an ESL class in our area of the city. Febuary we began meeting every two weeks to plan out this project and things seem to be coming together well. Our intention is to kick off classes September 5th with a team of about 11 people. We have decided to name our project “English without Borders”. Sidenote: I am routinely amazed by this collection of Chirst followers. This is a team of 11 people from a gathering of about 60 regular attenders. I have been a part of congregations of several hundreds that couldn’t get a dozen people together short of a funeral.

In addition to the Ew/oB project I will began teaching a basic computer use course next Saturday with some students from the beginner “Life in English” class that our coach (Maria) runs. I am really excited about this. I love to share my passion for the use of opensource technology and look forward to opening such a world to others. The tough part will be keeping in mind that the students native tongue is not English and keeping the content within reason. I am starting out small with about 4 students, but Maria tells me of another class of 17 that are also expressing a keen interest. We shall see…

Lastly, the boychild (EvilEmpire to those in the LwC Fantasy Baseball League) graduates highschool in a couple of weeks. This is both exciting and bittersweet. He is our youngest and the house is already seeming a bit empty. Fortunately he will be attending college locally.

Well, that somewhat sums up what’s been going on in these parts. So, what’ve you been up to?

Good To Be Back

The family and I were in Pennsylvania last week; where we were able to sleep with the windows open and sit out on the porch until it got chilly. We had some great time with family and friends and thoroughly enjoyed our time together. With the kids getting older, I count these times when we’re all able to spend big chunks of time together as great blessings. Some high-lites of the week included: two and a half hours in Provident Bookstore, Roots Market and Auction, fresh sweet corn and tomatoes, playing Apples to Apples till late at night… oh, and Wilbur Buds.

Yes, we had a great time, but it is also good to be back.

That Day I Was Raptured

It was my ninth summer knockin’ about this planet and growing up in a rural area there so much to explore; even right there in our own back yard.

Earlier that Spring my brother, my dad and I finished building a pole barn. Well, I guess, if truth be told, it was more of a pavillion as it had no sides until a few years later. It was great fun to build. We first fell some poplar and a few oak trees on the back portion of our property. We then removed all the bark — trust me, not fun. Then we used the poles as the structural uprights with cross beams and rafters above. On top of all this we put a ‘tin roof’. It was actually aluminum, but ‘tin roof’ sounds much more rustic.

As with most construction projects, there is always leftover lumber. My brother and I were given the task to store away the lumber up in the rafters of the pole barn. It was as much a project to keep us out of mom’s hair during the day as anything else. My brother and I, and two sturdy ladders, were enough to hoist the lumber up into the rafters. It was slow going at one board at a time, but we stuck to it.

As a kid, I found that it is often in times a physical labor such as mowing the lawn, stripping bark off of logs or doing dishes, that I recieve some of my greatest inspiration. True, some ideas play out better in reality than others, but while storing up the lumber, I developed a killer plan. Now, to convince my brother.

I made short work of conveying the shear brilliance of my idea to my brother and he bit. A fort. Not only a fort, but a secret fort. Not only a secret fort, but a secret fort that was almost eight feet off the ground and had its own ‘tin roof’. Yes, with a couple of hammers, a box of nails from the basement and the two sturdy ladders we set out to nailing various planks to the rafters which then supported the other boards as they were laid out to create the floor. A ‘tin roof’ and hardwood flooring; how cool is that? Sure, it was a little rough around the edges. We toyed with the idea of cutting everything to length, but figured the odds of cutting this lumber to the lengths that my dad would actually be able to use someday was rather slim. Plus, sawing lumber by hand is only slightly more engaging than stripping bark. Instead, we decided leave the excess hanging over the rafter. With the afternoon quickly closing in on the time dad gets home fom work, we hurried.

Dinner was great that evening and both my brother and I ate well. We explained to dad how we were able to get all his lumber up into the rafters. Surely it would stay dry until he needed it. We decided that was enough information for dinner conversation. Too much detail would have served no reasonable purpose. Besides, my brother and I wanted to play in our new fort.

I finished dinner first and made quick work of scooting out of the house before mom had a chance to remind us of the dishes. Dirty dishes usually had a way of still being there when we got back inside anyway. I made a straightline for the fort. A few steps up the ladder and a quick tug up using one of the rafters and there I was. Cool, I could see all the way down to the house and most of the way up through the woods. Neat! I started adjusting the placement of some of the boards and making more room. I noted how huge it was. Cool!

It was while rearranging some of the boards that I heard something. A perculiar sound. Not exactly a creak, but yet very unpleasant. Then the bottom felt out… literally. From my perch just beneath the ‘tin roof’ I suddenly fell to the ground with lumber of all kinds falling around me. For me time almost stood still, but not for my dad. I didn’t even have time for an explative and there he was, right there standing next to me. In a shaken voice he asked me, “are you OK?” It was precisely when the word “yes” left my mouth that I was raptured. Oh yes, first my butt left the dust of this earth and then my feet as I was taken up. Up toward the clouds, but it was a short trip with a sudden stop.

There before me was my dad. I was eye to eye with the one man who could make my bottom lip quiver just by me knowing he was on his way home from work and I would have to explain why my brother had three stitches above his right eye. The man who could fluster me beyond reason just by asking me what I was up to. Yes, there I was aloft and eye to eye with my father. Then I heard it. Not exactly a trumpet, but still with a most biblical intensity, “Don’t you ever do that again.” I know I tried to respond with a respectful, “yes, sir”, but I doubt much but a stutter of air came out. Just as suddenly, I was back on terra firma. As he walked back to the house I heard him say, “now clean that mess up.” This was actually one time I was thinking ahead of him. You see, I had caught my breath, regained my composure and had already figured out what went wrong. Bigger nails. Yes, next time we’ll use bigger nails…

Coach

Practice was over. We were gathering all the stuff together and cramming it into a huge, well worn, canvas duffel bag. A bit of excitement on the field caught our attention and all eyes turned toward the area between the pitcher’s mound and home-plate. The team troublemaker/bully was standing nearest to home-plate and another player was positioned just in front of the pitcher’s mound visibly upset as his father approached him from behind almost a little too quickly. His father was mad. In his right hand was a bat.

My father not only coached our little-league baseball team, but in the absence of any ‘official’ community sponsored sports leagues in our area, he also conceived of, and organized the league. He convinced my mom to fabricate several sets of bases from an old canvas tent and some odd, picky stuffing we had about. He successfully recruited several other fathers to coach a handful of teams made up of youngsters between 8 and 12 years old. My dad loved baseball. My dad loved kids.

As we gawked at the drama unfolding on the field we hadn’t noticed Coach quickly making his way onto the field. With all intention he positioned himself between the bully and the other boy’s father. In that silent moment that followed I heard Coach ask, as he stood there empty handed, “Is there a problem?” The intensity on the face of the boy’s father is still in my memory of that moment. “He’s going to hit someone”, I remember thinking to myself. “What in the world does dad think he’s doing out there?” I mumbled to my brother. Time seemed to take on a bizarre quality; an almost surreal sensation of both standing still and potentially running out of control.

Suddenly, there was a change. The father’s grip on the bat relaxed just a bit. I heard him quietly, but still very intensely say something about making fun of his son’s ears. My brother shot me a look that suggested confusion. Was this guy serious? However, Coach did not react very quickly, but rather took a deep breath and asked the father to take a good look at him. You see Coach was not the most aerodynamic from the neck up — my brother inherited dad’s ears. After looking coach in the eyes the father relaxed so that I almost thought he was going to just flop right down there on the mound. Instead, he and Coach headed over toward the parking lot having a gentle conversation along the way. We resumed packing the stuff.

My dad never did share any of the details of that conversation between the two men with my brother and I. In fact he never really talked about it much at all after that day. I have certainly played out in my mind what they may have talked about. I have also wondered how things would have gone if my dad approached the situation with his own bat…?