chicken soup for me

A Monday evening greeting to you, blog readers. Hope things are well on the other end of the internet. Me, I’m sitting on the couch after watching the BCS championship with friends. Sharaun and I have assumed our standard post-repast evening roles: her watching TV, me half-watching TV with the laptop in my lap. We should really shake it up a bit, maybe play Twister or something… y’know… go wild. Today, I’ll regale you with some cutesy tales of Keaton and I. In fact, let’s go ahead and do that right now…

This past Saturday, I decided to clean out our much-neglected garage. I do this on something of a “cycle.” Knowingly letting things pile up on the workbench and around the cars, stacking boxes on the ground haphazardly, and ignoring the tufts of mown and dried grass that start to amass in the corners. Then, every few months going in and doing one big “sort, purge, store” operation. I’m actually OK with letting the garage go like this, it is the garage, after all, so I don’t mind if I can’t eat off the floor.

Anyway, I was in there Saturday rocking out to the iPod plugged the 1970s receiver, courtesy Goodwill, working away while it rained outside. At some point, I had to go back inside. Upon returning to the garage, Keaton ended up following me out. Since I had pulled both cars into the driveway so I could maneuver the ladder around and stuff things up in the rafters, she had the whole room to run around in. She brought her little stroller out, and began walking in circles in the middle of the garage while I worked. Soon, she began dancing to the music, and I just couldn’t help myself: I abandoned my garage work and joined the rainy-day garage dance-party with my daughter. We danced circles around that garage for a good fifteen minutes, and it was positively one of the best times I’ve had in my entire life – hands down.

And, if that weren’t enough heart-meltiness… here’s another one for you.

This morning, while leaving for work, Sharaun had Keaton in the bathroom sitting on her little potty. She was stark naked since she had just woken up and Sharaun took off her overnight diaper and pajamas. As I walked down the hall towards the garage, I stopped at the bathroom to tell Sharaun goodbye and give her a kiss. Since Keaton was occupied, I told her I loved her too and would see her later. She said, “Bye-bye Daddy!” and I headed off.

A few more steps down the hall I hear, “Kiss!,” and turn around to see the cutest buck-naked almost-two-year-old girl in the world bounding towards me with her arms out. My cheeks neared a complete loss of structural integrity from the sheer breadth of the smile on my face, and I squatted in a catcher’s position to received first a wide-armed hug, and second a nice juicy kiss smack on the lips. As far as I’m concerned, it was the best start to a day that anyone could ever ask for.

Oh, before I go – I wanted to let you know that my Enzyte arrived in the mail today (for background on the Enzyte thing, read here). That means that tomorrow will be my first day “on the pill.” I’ll try my best to make tomorrow be the day I debut my progress-tracking methodology and baseline status – so we can all get involved in the experiment from day one. Because, I know, you are just as interested in this as I am… right?

OK beautiful people… until the next blog, much love and safe-keeping. Goodnight.

George Foreman is a dirty liar

Well, we made it to December, blog-readin’ friends. If you’ve been around a while, I’m glad to have had you with me for another year. If you’re a newbie, hopefully you like what you’ve seen and might decide to hang out in ’08. I promise I’ll do better, OK? OK.

Sunday night and I just finished doing dishes. Let me tell you, George Foreman is a dirty liar. Every time I see that Sharaun’s hauled down that Foreman Grill to cook a chicken breast, my head sags. Just the thought of having to clean that thing out: the awkwardness of getting it positioned just right so I can direct the flow of water onto it while keeping the critical not-waterproof parts clear of moisture; the cumbersome need-three-hands job of holding the thing in place, open, and scrubbing it; and the detailed labor of cleansing every last toasted bit of chicken chicken from the ruts in the uneven grooved surface. I can’t believe they were allowed to market this thing with a phrase like “Cleanup is a snap!” Maybe a snapped-neck from the yoga-like positions you have to contort into in order to get the thing clean. Maybe that.

OK, moving on. Hope everyone had a good weekend. Here’s some stuff that made mine nice.

Keaton woke up around 7:30am this morning, hollering “Get out!, get out!” It was my morning to go get her up and changed, and after I did I brought her back into our room where Sharaun was still in bed. And, as is good to do on cold Sunday mornings before church, we all three climbed into bed together and snuggled under the covers for a while before getting up and getting going. While there, I asked Keaton if she had a good night’s sleep. “Did you have any good dreams?,” I asked. “Yes,” she replied. “Oh,” Sharaun said, “What did you dream about?” “God,” she replied, and then, “Frog… hiding.” “God and a hiding frog?,” we asked. “Garbamane,” she answered (her pronunciation of “garbage man”). The way I figure it, she had an awesome science-fiction like dream where God, hiding himself in the body of a frog, was trying to escape an evil garbage man. Sounds like a pretty cool dream.

Saturday and Sunday both, Sharaun and I spent time each day while Keaton napped assembling and decorating our Christmas tree. We haven’t even put up the tree the past two years, as we usually head to Florida around mid-December and it just didn’t seem worth it only to have to come home and take it all down again. But, since our annual Christmas-in-Florida trip doesn’t start until later in the month this year, Sharaun suggested we setup the tree. I was reluctant, as I still hate the thought of having to come home and take it all down after I’ve already “done” Christmas, but I agreed. In the end, I’m glad I relented. I forgot how much I enjoy putting up and decorating the tree. Putting the iPod on a Christmas shuffle, drinking some hot chocolate, and bickering over whether or not I’d hung two Santas to close to each other or gotten the “peaks” of two strands of garland “too aligned.”

Anyway, here’s some photos of the process we thought you might enjoy (sorry for all the grain… high-ISO, low-light, and I did my best to de-noise and re-gamma them… I’m just no photographer):

Anyway, it was a nice “family” weekend, and now, with the lights out late at night, the glow all those little multicolored lights on the tree help to remind me of how much I love this time of year.

That’s all folks. I love you all, but I’m outta here. Goodnight.

the hug voyeur

Still rainy and cold in Oregon, melancholy. I was supposed to do something with my brother last night, but he called and bailed after work. So, I stuck around my folks’ place and made a sandwich and a bowl of soup for dinner. A glamorous evening it was not. I thought about maybe going to see a movie, I’ve never gone to a movie by myself… could’ve been an interesting experience. But, in the end, I sat there on the couch with this laptop on my knee, oscillating between dozing and waking while the Grateful Dead station on Sirius played in the background.

Woke before the sun this morning to venture out into the frigid pre-morning and ride the train to the airport with my mom. And, after meeting up with Sharaun and Keaton, we hopped right back on for the reverse trip. Getting to the airport about a half and hour early, however, we had some time to sit around in the lounge area where people await their arriving friends and relatives. Sitting there, I found myself smiling as people leapt up to greet those coming from the terminal. Grandfathers beamed as little kids ran up to them, hugging their legs before being swept up into their arms. Fathers gripped and snatched up children two at a time. People whose faces said they may have been sisters shrieked and hugged while commenting on new haircuts and how good it was to see one another. It truly was a fun thing to sit and watch. Got me thinking, in fact, that someone could make a great short film of holiday airport receptions. Also got me thinking, I should totally do it. All you need to be a filmmaker these days is a camera and a PC anyway…

Movie or not, I decided that, if and when I ever become a solitary old man whose filled with bitterness, I’ll remedy the situation by going down the airport on the day before Thanksgiving, or Christmas Eve, and watching friends and family reunite. It really is a remedy for the I-me-mine mentality.

And… before I leave you. GetReligion, one of the best religion-focused blogs on the ‘net, has an interesting and well-rounded article on some recent changes made to the introduction to the Book of Mormon. I’ve been somewhat critical of the Latter Day Saints here on sounds familiar before, but this article is pretty well balanced. Read it up if you’re still hankering for some more writin’.

Until tomorrow, I hope you get safely where you’re going and into the arms of who you’ll be with this Thanksgiving. Peace.

poof! i’m in texas

Poof! I’m in Texas.

I wasn’t planning on coming here, but here I am. Work’s monopolized my time the past few evenings, leaving me with zero time to do the things my nights are normally for: playing with Keaton, talking with Sharaun, and writing. And now, thumb-typing this entry into my BlackBerry as we fly over the desert, I can’t help but feel an acute sense of lost time and anxiety.

I’ve been getting steadily worse over the last couple days. My mind swimming with this thing and that thing which need to get done before my sabbatical officially starts next Friday. Most of it is loose ends at the sawmill which need to be wrangled before I check out, but a good bit is simple stuff like, “How’m I gonna get the lawn mowed in the few random days I’m at home between trip X and trip Y?”

More than anything, though, I feel this strange sadness. This awful sensation that I’ve been forsaking Sharaun and Keaton by being so utterly consumed with work. The early mornings and late nights stealing their portion of me.

Being me, and knowing me, I recognize this weird homesick feeling as one of my natural responses to stress. My gut tells me to run, to hide, to lock myself away with only the things I need and love: it’s my desert island flight response. I still look for that womb when things get a little hectic.

I guess, despite all my planning, everything still somehow managed to get the drop on me, and I’m in a preparation tailspin. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever achieve the sense of “readiness” I’m sprinting after, and I’m just a little bit worried I’m going to have a hard time breaking away. I mean, I know that come Friday, I’ll have no problems washing my hands of it all for nine weeks – I guess I’m just wanting a “cleaner” break… Or something.

This is it. Too hard to write on this thing with my thumbs. Barebones tonight, no flourish, no flare. Goodnight.

no. shut up.

Works sucks. No. shut up.

I am totally serious. Work is killing me. Right now. Every day. Just a little bit every single day. I don’t write at night because I work instead. Not fun.

I just don’t know, you guys. Don’t know if it’s my pending sabbatical (nine weeks of not-work), or if it’s the fact that work is at one of its “peaks” right now. Maybe both, as that would make most sense… But, whatever the reason, I’m suffering from a severe case of the “oh no I have to go to work tomorrow morning” blues. Much worse than I’ve had it before. Things are just so busy, and I’m having a hard time commanding the focus I’m usually able to. I think it’s just high time I was out of there. Thankfully, I have only nine more days left as you read this.

Last week I was helping Sharaun get some of her party planning done (Sharaun’s rolled her life-odometer to the big three-oh this past weekend). I knew she was stressing, and it seemed like a good time to work on the musical playlist she had planned: the top few songs from every calendar year she’s graced this Earth (plus some standard perennial party faves). I had a lot of them on-hand already in miscellaneous 80’s directories, but we still needed to go down a fairly long list and “acquire” a few more (of course, we did so by exchanging real, gold-backed, American currency for the digital representations of said songs). Anyway, as I downloaded each bit of party fuel, I queued them up in Winamp and we did some real-time “checking” of each to ensure quality. This, inevitably, turned into a living-room danceparty, starring my wife.

I loved it, because I could see she was having so much fun. With each new (old, actually) track that came across the speakers, she’d get more and more excited. “Oh. My. God.,” she’d say, “This song is the best!” Sometime later, as the string of hits continued to deliver, she paused and remarked, “See… people won’t get nearly as much from this as I do. People just don’t like music the way I do.” It was like she was reminding me of one of the reasons she’s the best. “Yeah,” I replied, “Most people don’t really care. But, don’t let it get you down.” Anyway, who cares right? It’s just beats and words in the background, anyway.

Anyway, the mix worked out great, and the party was a good time for all. I’ll post some pictures as soon as I get around to it.

The other night I decided to trawl through the music collection on the ol’ harddrive and find something that I haven’t listened to in a long time. Turns out I stopped on a live album recorded when The Quicksilver Messenger Service played Winterland in 1968. As one familiar with the “San Francisco” sound at that time, you may suspect that this performance is nothing more than a humongous set of noodling on old blues numbers, each wandering off into the tens of minutes, some if it interesting, some of it boring. Anyway, it sounded good to me, and it was the sound at the time. Put ’em on a bill at the Fillmore with Country Joe, the Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, and Beefheart – and you’d pretty much sum up the late 60’s west-coast sound. And, before I move on, check out the Concert Vault website, which apparently bought up the rights to all Bill Graham live material from 1965-1980 (Winterland, the Fillmores, etc.), as well as the entire King Biscuit Flower Hour catalog. Interesting indeed…


you see the balls on that thing?

Oh man it’s great having a blog that works. Or, I should rather say, it’s great having a host that works. I can write with ease, I can preview with ease, and, hopefully, you can enjoy the end result with ease (or, at least you could not-enjoy the end result… but still with ease).

A long, long time ago, I wrote a blog wondering about how penguins “do it.” This was a genuine question on my part, albeit passed off for laughs for the blog. The question had stemmed from a curiosity that I’ve had since I was younger: Where are birds’ naughty bits? I just took it to the extreme form of bird in an extreme environment for the sake of the blog because I thought it’d be funnier. Actually, I looked it up, and it’s a pretty decent entry – you can read it too, if you want. Anyway, this is a relevant opener for my blog today – because I finally figured it out.

Today, folks – today I saw a bird with huge balls.

I got home from work around five. Stopped on the way home to see the Saigon Turtle (I love this guy now, every time he cuts my hair I just sit there and marvel silently at his backstory). And, of course, my slight OCD requires that I must take a shower post-haircutting, lest those little unseen bits of shorn mane find a way to burrow into my skin and sprout more of the evil stuff I’m cursed with (which I clearly do not need). Anyway, my dome’s tightened-up, I’m home, and I’m showered – that’s where we were.

Fresh from the shower, I step into the living room to Keaton smiling as she toddles towards me chanting, “Dada!, Dada!” My heart melts, and I scoop her up and whirl her around a bit. Then, I ask her, “Wanna go outside and check on Daddy’s garden?” Not really giving her much time to answer, I assume she does, and crook her in my arm to head outside.

And now, I’d like to switch the narrative voice here to Sharaun, and write the next sentence as I like to imagine she would recount the tale:

Then I heard, “Oh my God! Quick, get the camera!”

There. Done. Now back to me.

As I turned the corner to inspect my garden, I could hardly believe my eyes. There, inside my less-than-twenty-four-hours-old “Fort Knox for Strawberries,” was my arch-enemy: the dang bird. One ripe strawberry, folks… one dang berry. I had intended to pick it today, and was happy that the dang bird hadn’t even touched it yesterday (must have been full from eating the one that prompted Fort Knox or something). And here, flapping madly, I had my quarry penned. Keaton “oohed” and “ahhed” as we approached the increasingly frantic berry whore. I still couldn’t quite believe it, it was almost too good to be true – and my mind immediately went to how fun it would be to write this very entry. “But, it’ll be nothing without pictures,” I thought as I once again hollered to Sharaun for the camera.

A full thirty seconds went by while Keaton and I examined the trapped beastie… fruitlessly (well, depending on the definition) flapping around looking for a way out. I laughed. Sharaun finally arrived with the camera, and I edged in to get a good shot. As I did, Mr. Berrybeaks became even more agitated – obviously sensing his impending doom. He threw his winged body wildly against the confines of For Knox for Strawberries. I snapped one picture:

As I reviewed the image, I was unhappy with it, and moved closer for a better shot. Then, out of luck, Berrbeaks found a weak seam in Fort Knox and was free. You’d think, harried from such a terrifying experience, he would immediately fly fast and far away. Oh no, not that bastard Berrybeaks – that bastard has an image to maintain.

He instead flew to the fence, alighted there, glanced down at me, shat, and then casually took wing.

OK, so I made up the part about him crapping – but I bet he tried and just couldn’t make, knowing him. Alas, I only have the one picture. But, I’ve gone to the trouble to go extreme-closeup for you:

I don’t really know what I was going to do had he really been trapped and at my mercy. I’d like to think I would’ve wrung his little bird neck. But, then again, I am the guy growing delicious berries outside in full view. So, feeling incredibly defeated, I set about fortifying Fort Knox for Strawberries. I think I found my flaw, a weak front-flap opening I designed specifically for picking access. After being so handily beaten though, I doubt it will work. I guess I’m just not meant to have strawberries… dang bird.

Moving on.

Sharaun lost her keys again today, she called me as I was sitting down for lunch at home. Called while performing a CSI-style grid-search of the local grocery store where she and Keaton were now stranded. I asked her if she checked with the counter to see if someone may have turned them in – she had, and no one did. I asked if she’d checked the parking lot between her car and the store – she had, and they weren’t there. “OK,” I said, “I’ll be right there.” I hastily finished my food and jumped in the car. As I pulled into the parking lot I spotted her and Keaton standing around. I parked, used my key to open her trunk and loaded her bags, then lifted Keaton from her buggy-seat for a hug. Eventually, when I got to opening her driver’s side door, I ended up finding her keys there on the floorboard.

Something wrong with that girl… but man do I love her.

Wow, I’m quite proud of all the linking I did in today’s blog – I have back-references galore, huh? To me, if I was a reader, that’d be key. It’d be like getting several more paragraphs than there actually are (y’know, by virtue of the old stuff you can go back and read?). Yeah, well, I liked it.


a truly awesome way to spend an evening

Hey hey friends, I want to pre-let you know that I have next to nothing to write about tonight. In fact, before logging into WordPress and typing this I had actually planned to go entry-less tomorrow. Then, I got the vapors and decided to go for it. I’m crazy that way y’all, it’s just a part of my chemistry. Don’t leave me alone with your women, I might get all crazy and pitch woo (in blog form, of course) at them.

Tonight I got home from work and almost immediately hopped in a car with Sharaun and Keaton. Sharaun had, in an awesome display, cooked soup for an older couple from church with whom we’ve become acquainted. We headed over there and had an outstanding meal with this couple we barely know. We traded abridged life stories, theirs much more abridged than ours (by necessity,) and just sat and talked. I had a terrific time, listening to stories from a former WWII B26 tailgunner in the European theater; stories about his children, his time in the army, his various home-improvement exploits, his thoughts on aging… it was like sitting down in front of a living, breathing piece of history. Not just history though – a man with experiences, a piece of history you can interact with and ask questions. Honestly, I had an outstanding time, simply taking 3hrs to have a meal with people; to listen. Don’t misunderstand me, this isn’t the same “high” that you’d get from dishing at the downtown soup-kitchen – not a charity high. What I am beaming about is some kind of “human contact” high, some idyllic Mayberry porchswing thing. I place high value on sharing experiences with people, even if just by listening to accounts of past events. When we got home, I made sure to thank Sharaun for her selfless act of non-charity – it was a truly awesome way to spend an evening.

And now for something completely different. I have no idea quite how this happened, but last night I somehow happened to find scans online from a 1935 Santa Barbara, California highschool yearbook – one of the years my grandmother attended that very institution. Amazing, right? So, curious, I began “thumbing” through the scans to see if I could spot any photos of her. Turns out, my grandmother was quite active in school clubs and activities, and as such I was able locate her in several different group photos (apparently, only the graduating seniors got headshots, and she must’ve been an underclassman that year).

Anyway, I had already posted this blog by the time I found the yearbook after midnight – but I came back just to add this bit, so I apologize if the writing is hasty. Pretend I’m conveying all sorts of amazed sentiment at such a random online find – the only digitized Santa Barbara yearbook online and it’s the one my grandmother’s in. So, without further ado, here is a picture of my grandmother in highschool, as a member of the “Welfare Council” (click for larger versions):

But wait, as amazing as that is – want to see something even more incredible? In this particular picture, the young woman standing next to my grandmother is none other than my great-aunt. That’s right, my grandmother standing alongside her future husband’s sister in the same Spanish Club – now that’s a true internet find! Check it out (grandma on the left, her sister-in-law to-be on the right):

Seems my my great-aunt and grandmother were also both members of the apparently less exclusive “Scholarship Society” and “Girls’ Athletics Association,” although they’re not standing next to each other in these (my great-aunt in green, grammy in red):

That internet y’allz, that thing is wild… OK seriously, it’s like 1am and I haven’t even taken out the trash yet – goodnight lovers.