Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy Merry Post-Christmas Thingy

Netta is home from Vancouver.

Ian is home from Baffin-friggin'-Island (or what feels like it).

It's Christmas again.

The furthest reaches of the Partridge empire are drawn tight again today as everyone gathers on the frozen shore of Running Creek for a genuine, traditional, old time post-Christmas thingy. Naturally, the stockings are all hung from the stair bannister with care.

With only today and tomorrow left in 2010 we'll be busy exchanging gifts five days later than the calendar tells us too (bossy calendar, we'll open gifts when we choose to), thinking of a way to ring in the New Year without going broke, getting smashed, or driving any great distances, and we just might relax a little. Zedder will have absolutely no concept why Santa has come and blessed her twice (was she really that good?), and she'll surely lose track of nap and bed times as the rest of us already have.

It's a whirlwind visit with everyone as Netta will be in town for approximately 24 hours...Ian has a whopping 48 hours to throw into the holiday soup, and before you can say Dick $%#&ing Clark it'll be 2011.

Happy Merry Post-Christmas Thingy!

Happy Back-on-Dry-Land Birthday Avery.

Zo Xmas w kids 8
Avery and Zoey celebrating Zo's first birthday - Jan'10

Zoey's third or fourth biggest fan, her cousin Avery, is suddenly twelve years old. Well, yesterday she turned twelve years old. She was enjoying her birthday somewhere not very far from the Gulf of Mexico after woozling and stumbled through twelve foot Gulf waves on a cruise last week. Curious cosmic connection that the waves were the approximate same height as her age, but I digress...

Happy Birthday beautiful young lady. You are twelve now and officially of so-called recommended babysitting age. You're hired. No interview. No resume. No references. We love you, that's good enough. Zoey kinda thinks you're alright too.

Next year you'll be a teenager and won't have time for any of us, so I guess we'd better soak you up now before that tragedy happens (which I really don't believe for a second ever will).

Happy yesterday, and post-birthday days, and every other day for the rest of your life.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Your heart on a chain...


Every year my Mom says that I'm the most difficult person to buy a Christmas gift for, and every year I’m surprised by the sentiment. She claims it’s because I tend to buy what I want, when I want it, which is sound enough reasoning. I, however, believe that I wear my heart on my sleeve pretty literally and if you’re paying attention, you know what will thrill me. That’s all it takes, really…paying attention. This year someone was doing just that, in spades.

On Christmas Eve I opened a small box, wrapped carefully and neatly, and discovered that my Mom had taken my Grandfather’s service identification, his dog tag, and had it creatively repaired and put on a bead-chain. My Father had given it to me months earlier, as a surprise gift, and then she, in turn, had pinched it in an effort to consult several people on how it might be fixed. BLAM…on Christmas Eve it came back home in a tiny little box with a green bow.

I have only one of the identification tags, the other rests on a chain around my brother’s neck. My portion of my Grandfather’s well-worn World War II service ID had been broken free from the other, perhaps by accident, perhaps when he was so seriously wounded in Italy, but either way, it seemed impossible to hang from a chain, and so sat lifeless on a dusty shelf of a proud grandson…no longer. Now it falls from his neck and will follow him wherever he chooses to go…perhaps one day in the footsteps of his Grandfather’s European and North African service campaigns? I’d certainly like the chance. It would be an emotional journey.

With a wide grin on my face as I opened the little box I thought to myself, you’ll never ever be able to say that I’m the most difficult person to find a gift for, Mom, but then again, there might never be another one that means this much. The gift giving could be over for the rest of my life and I’d be content with this one.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Old Dudes Ripping...and other stuff

Bob Lake & Roger Mihalko: SF December 22, 2010 from solitary arts on Vimeo.

Just in case you thought old dudes were more falling apart than keeping it together these days you'd be wrong. Thanks to Solitary Arts for posting this bad boy (above). Now I'm gonna post some cool stuff myself.

This beautiful fall-asleep-to-me song sounds as if if fell flopping from the Before Sunset soundtrack.

The world would be a better place if we could still say what we really feel.

Spend a few hours perusing Electrospark's Flickr photostream...awesome.

My friend Mia snapped this pic in Brooklyn last night during the snowstorm that crushed NYC. Crazy shot.

Check out the amazing sakura flowers on this guy's sleeve...Those are beautiful.

Don't it make you smile?

Looks like some fun comin' just down the road.

I could probably watch this movie over and over and over times a thousand.

I have a feeling that this one will render me similarly stupid.

Best store this side of Osaka.

Cuter then anything ever, including baby bunnies.

If you can make it there...


Our good friend Betz just posted this pic of 5th Ave in New York on her Facebook profile today. This is what we're missing by not heading back to the city for the holidays. No worries...we don't have a 4-wheel drive stroller anyway. Being snowed in smack dab in the middle of Manhattan sounds kind of nice though.

Merry Christmas Betz and family...Merry Christmas Cowger family too! Would've been nice...le sigh.

Funny Farm


We spent a chunk of December 26th chasing goats, and dodging horse poop. Zedder was wildly adept at both. We visited my Aunt Cheryl's farm to meet up with some extended family and ended up snapping about a billion photos in the barns and paddocks of Cheryl's half organic, half manure filled world.


Zedder was entirely fearless, wandering through goat turf like she owned it. She herded the dozens of goats better than the dogs, and was easy to find. We just went in waht ever direction the goats were running from and there was Zed, grinning from ear to ear and jabbering on and on. She must have asked twenty-seven goats, "you want to play games with me?" Sadly, none of them answered. Fortunately one dog did...


...and at least one horse.


The farm trip was a hit of Rick Ruben proportions and Zed was wildly impressive with her absolutely unbridled enthusiasm and courage. She could have cared less that Kato the horse outweighed her by about a billion pounds, or that any one of the forty goats could have just knocked her head-first into bottomless puddles of poop. Nope, she just smiled and skipped through the frozen barnyard as though it was as familiar as her own backyard. She sat atop Kato as carelessly as the rocking chair in her room, only with a much wider grin.


She had a cast of six or seven hangers on doubled over with laughter as her barnyard tour progressed. She talked to goats, wandered beneath horses as though they couldn't ruin her day with a quick kick or startle. She begged friendship from chickens and tried to feed every living breathing thing handfuls of hay. She latched onto Aunt Cheryl as though they were long lost friends, and it didn't bother her one bit that it was absolutely frigid outside, and that the contours on the soles of her rubber boots were jam packed with poop. She was just happy to be hanging out with all those animals, and a pretty damn fun great Aunt.


It was a few hours of pretty exciting stuff and yet it still didn't manage to tire her out. In nearly two years she's only spontaneously fallen asleep without prompting or process on one occasion. The city streets of NYC couldn't do it. The beach couldn't do it. Christmas couldn't do it. Not even goats, horses and endless frigid excitement can do it. She's tireless, and that doesn't bode well for her parents.


I think trips to Aunt Cheryl's farm will be more frequent as the weather turns tolerable again, and I think it's pretty obvious that this little girl isn't going to be too scared of too much. That's both a good and a bad thing, I suppose. I guess it's up to us to teach her how to use all that energy for good instead of evil. Even that won't be too hard, I don't think.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas...kinda


In the midst of a Danny Ocean film festival tonight I reflected back on one of the strangest Christmas' of my life and half winced. I think we can do it better. The intentions were to make it less hectic, more of an intentional effort to keep it personal and start some new traditions for ourselves, and it fell kinda short.

We spent Christmas Eve exchanging presents with my parents...never opened presents on Christmas Eve before...probably never will again. It's just not Christmas yet, is it? No, it's not. It feels strange.

We used to spend Christmas Eve watching "Christmas Vacation at Uncle Brad and Aunt Headers house but not this year. This year they're somewhere in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico on a floating awesomefest. That was strange too.

Woke up Christmas morning in our own bed, at our own house, with a smiling, excited, happy Zoey crawling into our bed at 7AM to remind us that it was indeed Christmas morning and that Santa had in fact come. That was pretty awesome, but pretty solitary.

On the road in the afternoon and spent the remainder of that evening and overnight at Baachan and Grandad's house...without Ian...without Netta...and saving Christmas for the 30th when everyone is together. That's not really Christmas either, is it? Nope. Strange.

Boxing Day was spent in a drive-by visit with some extended family and by the time the three days were over Christmas and had came and went without ever feeling much like Christmas. It wasn't exactly the movie version of the holidays but it wasn't spawned from hellfire either. It just was, and that can be a bit of a bummer. I don't like Christmas that just kinda happens, without fanfare, without heaps of laughter and face stretching smiles. Maybe it seems ridiculous to want the movie version, maybe that's impossible, but aiming for a Merry Griswold Family Christmas is perfectly admirable isn't it? Maybe those Christmas' don't exist? Maybe we'd just better get used to Christmas being about compromises shared amongst a half dozen stakeholders but Christmas just isn't Christmas when it's shaped and twisted and molded into something other than December 25th. It just isn't, and as every conversation leads to the same end result, of that's just the way it is I lose more and more faith in the idea of it all, especially when everyone's version of an explanation ends in a shrug. Every family Christmas needs more overzealous advocates than less, I think.

This was the first Christmas in thirty years, Grandad mentioned, that the Partridge household was quiet on Christmas Eve.

This was the first Christmas morning I can remember that was spent without the cumulative excitement of a half dozen grown up versions of little kids.

This was the first Christmas spent with the complete absence of siblings.

This didn't feel much like Christmas. It felt more like just buying presents, eating food, and driving around, and that's not exactly what it's supposed to feel like. I understand that life is complicated, and for everyone, but this year felt like we were hoping for the Rose Bowl and got the Little Caesars Bowl instead...the bummer was that our season ticket holders all went to Pasadena anyway and we played in an empty stadium.

Merry Christmas? Kinda, but Pasadena is better.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Zedmas 2010!

It was still dark when Zo dragged us from our pleasant slumber. In about three minutes she has Woody pulled from her stocking...her Fisher-Price farm out of it's box, Jenga spread across the living room, and Madagascar 2 on the television.

Christmas is like a drive-by shooting.

Merry Zedmas everyone! If we've never said it before, we are quite smitten with all of you...very smitten, in fact. We'll talk more later, but now it's back to the chaos!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Almost Christmas...


Christmas Eve morning, 7:30am to be exact, and already the day's booked solid. It's just me and Zed today. June has to work. So it's eat, dress, go...we've got stuff to do.

Zed was SO excited last night that she couldn't sleep. Mom tried to put her down for no less than an hour. Didn't Dad slipped in and pitched the last few innings of relief, and nearly died from exposure to whispered, muted cuteness.

"'Morrow is Christmas Daddy"...Well, almost's almost Christmas. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.

"We need milk and cookies for Santa"...Yup, we have to buy some more milk, and get our hands on some cookies too.

"We'll buy Mumma a present...Sure, that's already taken care of, but what's one more Zed approved purchase. Okay.

"Buy jingle bells for our Christmas tree too...Uhmm, alright. I don't know where to buy "jingle bells" but we'll try.

"And presents for Baachan" ...Okay, Mom's been pretty busy. I think we probably should. And Grandad too?

"No, Grandad doesn't need any presents" ...What? Of course Grandad needs presents.

"No. Grandad doesn't need presents." ...Why not?

No answer, but you can hear the wheels in her little Christmas drenched noggin' turning. She's silent for what feels like a long time.

"Grandad needs a Christmas tree" ...I think he's already got a tree, Zo. Didn't you help him decorate it?

"Okay, we'll buy presents for me" ...Wait a minute, what about Grandad?

"Ohhhh, I'm just kidding"...Huh?

It was about that time that she fell asleep smiling. I was wide awake doing the same. This kid knocks me over.

Today is going to be busy day. We've got some last minute things to take care of...stocking this and thats...some groceries...gotta make sure that Zoey's assertion about Grandad's Christmas isn't true...lot's of stuff. I'm also keeping in mind how we can strategically miss the play area at the mall. That's important.

How come every year I seek to make Christmas Eve as hassle free as possible and it never quite works out that way? I'd better get on my feet and get busy attacking the day. My guess is that a nap for Zo will be a hard thing to find today, and that sleep tonight will be ten times as illusive. No's Daddy and daughter today. Look out busy, ambivalent world. We're stepping out with a purpose today. We need cookies and jingle bells, and somehow I've got to convince Zoey that her Grandad really does deserve a present.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Boastful ghosts...

Cooper Wedding 1940

I regularly receive the kindest, most thoughtful of emails here...from friends and from strangers alike. I've met people in far flung places that I've managed to stay friends with, and stumbled upon new friendships simply via email exchanges and blog comments. I've reconnected with old friends, and tripped over new affections for all of the above but one of the kindest, sweetest, trip-me-gently emails came last week.

My cousin, Colleen, long a favorite friend of mine, sent me a message as heart warming as pulling into the driveway after a long, tiring trip home. She drops by The Zoey Blog regularly and finds faith and fun in between each and every post. She oh-so gently reminded me that I don't see the people I love nearly enough. We grow up, and we grow distant, and strangely enough it's that very act of growing up that surely would endear us to one another more than ever. After all, we are finally the people we were supposed to become, and often enough, or should I say fortunately enough, in my family, those people are pretty incredible. They would make their grandparents proud, and certainly each other.

When I was young, Colleen was older, not much, but enough to find little in common with. She was in college when I was in high school. She was married when I was still botching perfectly good relationships. We were connected and yet out of touch. As we grew, that changed, and although it's impossible for any age gap to narrow, the maturity one did, and we found ourselves as close to peers as we might. My brother and Colleen got close, they lived together and laughed together and while I wandered around my confusing post-secondary world...Kansas City, Peterborough, Oshawa, Ann Arbor...Brad and Colleen cultivated a friendship that I observed from a distance, first from a distant college campus, and then from a distant continent or coast. Brad was becoming part of his family's story...I was just becoming one. I missed out on a lot.

These days I find comfort in the fact that I am as close to being the person I was meant to be as I've ever been, but I lose heart over the distance that's grown between myself and the people I should hope to make most proud of me and my life, just as they might hope to find such similar reverence in my eyes. My family is full of incredible people, as most are, I'm sure. My family is something I am proud of, and yet something I've drifted away from, as most do. Colleen's email reminded me how much stored up affection I have for those people, and just how much it means to each of us to harvest all those seeds that were planted so long ago. I'm sure it bothers each one of us to watch what once were incredibly close relationships fall away, but it took a two paragraph email from one of my most favorite ones to remind me how easy it is to pull us all back together. I think my new year will be centered around plowing over what's been left fallow, and planting new seeds that Zoey, June and I can harvest for the rest of our lives. 'Tis the season for timely reminders it seems, and swelling hearts and eyes. It's been a long time since my grandparents have had the blessing of watching their grandchildren grow, but they'd be proud of what they've become. Floyd and Pearl can be boastful ghosts for certain.

Thanks for the note Colleen. I miss you too.

Only three more sleeps 'til Christmas...

Zedder might not be able to comprehend just how many sleeps there are 'til Christmas but her Mom and Dad can, and we're freaking out with excitement!

Zedder's gonna get kinda spoiled this Christmas, and maybe next, and maybe for the rest of her life, but someday when all of our Christmas' are cold and there are no more fires to warm ourselves by, we'll remember these ones. Spoil 'em if you got 'em folks. Spoil 'em if you got 'em.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Color Purple

Kobe daughter

My daughter loves the color purple, and that's a relief. I don’t mean the movie, although , thanks to Grandma she’s much more than just faintly familiar with Oprah Winfrey. More simply, I mean the color…she loves the color purple. She gets inundated regularly with many things maize and blue, and that's fine. It might even come to be a natural thing, growing up in the shadow of the big house, and what is certainly the biggest collegiate marketing machine this side of Cam Newton, but falling in love with the color purple, well, that was something that I was worried about. A child growing up in the Great Lakes Basin isn’t exactly predisposed to Los Angeles Laker fandom, at least not in the post-Magic era of Laker loving, and especially not within a decent chest pass of the Palace of Auburn Hills and the Detroit Pistons. The truth is it was going to take a lot to make Zoey a Laker fan. Liking the color purple is an exciting and encouraging start.

We don’t have cable television at our house. Well, we do, but it’s thanks to a friend with pliers and ambition who helped us move five years ago. That unsolicited act of larceny was his oh-so generous gift to us on moving day. We had neither the courage nor the inclination to call the cable company and explain to them that we’d like to order the sports package, allowing us full access to the NBA’s League Pass, or the Big Ten Network, or any of the other cable entrees that we were interested in sampling. Instead, we were happy to just to leave things as they were, and we would much more affordably watch what happens to be on television rather than force our will on the great gaping universe of entertainment options. We’re not cheap, we’re just not eager to spend all that hard earned loot on something we don’t really need. Regardless, all it really means is that we get to watch about a dozen Laker games a year, maybe. It’s a hapless, nearly hopeless notion that our daughter might grow up fully appreciating that same thing that Jack Nicholson and her father so vigorously do. The Los Angeles Lakers have been a constant in my life since I was nine years old, but it might be too much to imagine that my daughter finds them quite as intriguing as I do. The purple helps, and popcorn too.

Zoey has already figured out that settling in on the couch with her Dad to watch whatever sporting event is on television is the easiest way to avoid many of life’s less appealing expectations – dinner time, bath time, bed time – and a regular dose of purple and gold would do wonders for the subtle, muted effort to win her over completely. Unfortunately, bedtime for this almost two-year old occurs far earlier than the West coast's version of Pacific prime time, and we don't tape and record and watch later in our household. It just doesn't happen. Instead we miss games, we color, and we go on adventures. Becoming a Laker fan will take significant influence from Zoey's father and he's just not sure he wants to be that guy.

I always said that I wouldn't try to influence my child when it came to such a stupid thing as sports...but I am. I can't help it. She can already scream "GO BLUE," and "MEEEECHIGAN!" at the top of her lungs, and she's beyond eager to jump up and down when the Red Wings score, or when the Tigers swat a home run, but she's hopelessly indifferent (as is half the sporting public these days) when an NBA game is on the television. In fact, she's much more likely to call it soccer than basketball, and she usually doesn't care at all when sneaker squeaks and dribbling basketball sounds fill the air. She just doesn't care. She likes purple though, so there's still a chance.

Staples Center

Maybe I can get her to fall in love with the colors. There aren't many sports uniforms in the world that are as recognizable as the Laker's purple and gold. Or maybe she'll find the Laker Girls intriguing? She is a little girl after all, and little girls like all that glittery dancing, prancing stuff, don't they? Maybe she'll grow up and find the star studded crowd something to take interest in? Maybe she'll spot Justin Bieber sitting courtside, freak out, and then never miss another game? It's all possible, but the notion that I might help her become a fan by telling her stories of the kind of absolute star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was, or the kind of Magic Earvin Johnson was capable of...the freak that Kurt Rambis was, or the what the sheer obscentity of the Kobe - Shaq championship combo was is ridiculous...I certainly won't be able to pull her in by telling her how cool Pau Gasol is, or the kind of stellar Dad Derek Fisher is, or what kind of Zen master buddhist, voo-doo freak Phil Jackson was...My only hope might rest with the color purple. I might be able to inspire a tough-to-explain hatred of all things green and white, both Spartans and Celtics, but even that would fall remarkably short of meaning anything to her. Purple is the key...purple is everything.

laker line up

My only fleeting hope is that the Lakers stay relevant, stay perennially awesome, because kids smell winners from a million miles away. Kids are unabashed bandwagoners, fickle front runners, and wildly flavor-of-the-month infatuated funsters. If the Lakers stay worth their weight in gold (no cheap ass pun intended) and she can find even a passing interest in basketball, they'll lure her in. A kid will align themselves with a winner way faster than they'll heartlessly mock a loser. Winners attract kids...period. Kids don't want to bear the burden of losing. They don't want to wear the sign of happless failure (so there no chance Zo becomes a Pistons fan). As long as the Lakers stay good, there's a better than average chance that my daughter never, ever becomes a Celtics fan. I'll cross my fingers but I'm really putting all my chips on the purple thing. I'll drench her in purple. I'll plaster her bedroom in purple and gold. I'll bake purple cupcakes on her birthday. I'll shamelessly wear Laker gear in her presence. I'll take her to Laker road games decked out in stylish, glittery, little girl loving purpleness. Purple...that's the key.


Under the table and dreaming...

Zedder finds the strangest spots to hang out. She likes the arm rest on the couch, and she's growing more and more eager to crawl across the back cushions of that same piece of furniture. She likes to stand on a chair and help out at the kitchen counter, and she loves few things more than crawling into Grandma's or Mom and Dad's beds and tucking herself in, but I think my favorite so far has been her affinity for finding herself a comfy spot under the kitchen table.

She likes it under there. Who wouldn't, you know, aside from the fact that it's probably what might be typically the filthiest place in the house. Debu likes it under there too, the surest attraction for Zed's ever expanding curiosity, but she heads under that wooden shelter even when her feline friend isn't there. She just likes to hang out under there, and I suppose I can't blame her.

We don't try to figure her out too often. She's a smart girl and usually, even at this stage, makes pretty good choices. Her imagination is ridiculously well drawn out, and she's never once been obsessive about a single thing, or impossible to distract, or difficult to re-direct. She's fine under that table and dreaming, and we're fine watching her do it. Everyone needs a safe place to dream, and if hers is right there at our feet for now, that's fine by us. It reminds us to sweep under there a little more frequently. Don't want Zo's dreams to be dragging cat hair and crumbs around with them, do we? No, dreams are usually a messy enough matter as it is.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday with a rock star...


Today we went shopping with a little rock star. We didn't stay out very long, and of course, most rock stars don't soil their pants or play hide and seek amongst the clothing racks, but despite all that Zedder still looked absolutely rockin' in the most regal sense. She's got some serious Sunday style. You can thank her Mom for that.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Seven Sleeps 'Til Christmas...


There's only seven more sleeps until Christmas morning, obviously only six until Christmas Eve when the whole thing really kicks off in my books. We've been working hard to get Zo prepped and now she's pretty much got Santa down pat. She gets the whole flying reindeer thing, and she's starting to clue in that Christmas is just about the best thing ever. She hugs her Christmas tree, and freaks out over Christmas lights. She is regularly pulling gifts out from under the tree and handing them out to whoever is available..."Here, you open this one," she'll say. Yeah, no worries about this kid latching on to the concept.


We read alot...about Santa, and about Christmas, and she asks a lot of questions, as Zoey tends to do. She's awfully curious about this whole thing, but she doesn't fight the excitement. Who care why we do this, let's just do it! The why is for a much later conversation which we're already thinking might be more difficult to get around than that whole birds and bees thing. Regardless, for now it's about bright, twinkling lights and pretty paper, and jingle bells. Right now it's about fat, white haired magic old men in red suits, and it's about being so friggin' excited that you'll hug a tree. That stuff's easier to explain.


All she knows at this amazing moment is that someone is going to give her presents if she's good, and that everyone, and I mean absolutely everyone, looks like they might love each other a little more at this time of year. That's terribly exciting to a two year old. If only everyone else could see things the way that she sees it we'd be good for the rest of eternity. She's doing a darn good job of helping us see the world through twinkle light lenses, and it's never looked better.

But it's cold outside...

Snow fun

Looks like our days of staying nice and warm inside all winter are officially over...

Happy to to be in her sled

So Daddy bought new snow pants today...and new mittens...and warmer socks...but none of it will help me find the kind of happiness that Zo can find under all that snow...

Snow fun!

Say goodbye to warm winter weekend afternoons.

Say goodbye to wasting away on the couch with college basketball, weekend movies, or NFL football.

Say goodbye to drawing on the floor and hello to dashing down some cold crash-waiting-to-happen hill with a giggling little girl.

Say goodbye to traveling lightly when we visit grandparents.

Say goodbye to all of that. Zoey has discovered winter.

An Early Christmas...


So Zed...uhmmm, Santa usually brings the presents but tonight your cousins, Brent, Avery and Reece, and your Aunt and Uncle, gave you a bunch. It's kind of hard to explain. See, at Christmas time people just kinda buy you stuff...and since they're leaving for a Christmas vacation and won't be around over the holidays, you get to open presents tonight. Got it? You get presents from Santa and then from other people too.

Zoey...shrug...squeal...roll around in all the discarded tissue and wrapping paper. Smiling and giggling a lot...I mean A LOT...and wear down a 3 month old puppy with all your craziness. I'm not kidding. Zo put a puppy to sleep.

The kids were wired, and ready to exchange boxes of goodness, and every grown up eye was eager to see the kids falling over themselves to get to their early bounty. Avery got the Courtney Avery Michigan football jersey that she was begging for...and Reece and Uncle B scored authentic New Orleans Saints jerseys to wear on Sundays...


Aunt Header got a lottery stuffed Mountain Equipment soft briefcase for gettin' her professionalism on. Beezer scored four tickets to the hockey game, for him and his buddies, which is pretty much every 14 year old's nearly perfect present...Zedder scored the most wicked winter sled from all of them for her wily winter adventures, and we snuck away with new concert DVDs, and Zeppelin's '75 American Tour book amongst other awesomeness.


How much more fun is Christmas becoming with a little girl who freaks out at the very whisper of it? Christmas was starting to get expensive and difficult to organize and meant sleeping on a cheap mattress on our parents floor so that we could wake up with we've got our own family, and we can wake up somewhere other than on the floor at Gerry and Mihoko' maybe our own bed. In eleven years time we've never once slept in our own bed at Christmas. This year we will, and why not? Brad, Heather and the kids are gone...Netta and Ian can't get home until a few days after Christmas...and although the grnadparents, collectively, would sell their kidneys to spend Christmas morning with Zed, they're also cool enough to sit back and watch their own children become the kind of parents who have to make up Christmas stories, and leave out milk and cookies, and be shaken from their bed by a whacked out two year old all jacked up for Christmas morning. It's kind of the perpetual comedy of each generation and Zo's grandparents are happy to let in unfold somewhere other than their own living rooms. We'll see them all by the early afternoon, and then later that evening, so it's no biggie if we settle into our last Christmas here on the lake, and we do it the way it should be done...with Zed crawling out of her own and bed and losing her mind in her own living room, under her own tree...the one that she helped decorate.

Friday, December 17, 2010

In case you were wondering...


In a perfect world, we'd be doing this tonight as a family, but instead...since we're largely lacking creativity and typically void of ambition, we're just hanging out at Uncle B and Aunt Headers exchanging gifts before they leave for Florida. How modern suburban bourgeois of us. I'll be coming home with gifts tonight though...will you? I didn't think so.

It is to dream.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Name on the Wind...

Tanis...that's the newest name in my head. I like that name. It's the name of a stranger who helped me when I had nothing, and was fairly desperate, drifting through Europe without a dime or a passport. I knew her for all of five minutes, but she helped me when no one else would and I remember the name...Tanis. It means something to me...something important. For me it symbolizes the kindness in each of us, the untethered willingness to change a life without expectation. I've been lucky enough to have a dozen or more of those stories in my life, and I remember each of them as clearly as I do yesterday, sometimes better.

It's been asked of me on a number of occasions, what made me feel the way that I do about stepping into the lives of others, even if only for a moment...that I must have had some pretty significant experiences to shape and twist and bend me into this person who believes wholeheartedly in the power of caring, and my answer is always, "of course." The moments have been frequent and sublime, almost creepy. At every major interval of my life there has almost always been a kind stranger, a timely accident, a gentle and unsolicited voice of reason. That's why I like the name Tanis. It just crossed my mind tonight. I don't know why but it did, and there you go.

When's the last time you changed someone's life?

The 15th Day of December


I was born on this was he.

Some Stuff...

This may be the best thing I've read in a hundred years...maybe ever.

Yes, please...under the All I Want For Christmas category.

I'm a big fan of this kid.

Kinda always thought I'd do a thru-hike someday...Appalachian, Pacific Crest...somethin'.

This is a rad dude, and I like his style.


I'd like to hang around fast cars and the people who like them, I think.

I'm kinda desperate to know what's over that hill and around the bend.

I've been looking for the song that begins at the 8:35 mark of this video since luck.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Ahmm, CNN...they're called Provinces, very similar to your States, and this awful storm, the one that's turned the region literally 45 minutes away from Detroit, MI and approximately two f#$%king feet from your border, into a State of Emergency, is happening IN Ontario...not near Ontario...IN Ontario, you fools.

Do people really trust you to bring them the news? It's not like the 402 Hwy is a side road in the extends directly from the US border into Canada's southernmost, most populous Province all the way to Toronto, this nation's largest know, that city with MLB, NBA, and NHL franchises...and by the looks of it, you got the footage from your affiliate station here in Detroit, WXYZ. People in Detroit aren't ignorant of Canadiana, in fact, everyone in Southeastern Michigan feels more like family than foreigners...but Atlanta, you guys are out to lunch. Where is Atlanta anyway? Somewhere near Georgia, right? Unbelievable.

I typically spend a lot of time correcting people who tell giant fibs about how every American thinks that us Canadians grow up in igloos and that you can ski all summer long as soon as you cross the border...that's just flat stupid and not true and I defend your nation endlessly, telling those fools that such stories are just ignorant and perpetuate an untrue, unfair stereotype of Americans...but near Ontario....really CNN? C'mon. Apparently I grew up near Ontario my whole life, but not in it, I guess. I wonder what that makes me? Maybe smarter than the guy doing on-air graphics for CNN broadcasts. That intern just got fired.

In the meantime, here are some other, better oriented news sources. We're in a State of Emergency here...kinda crazy. We're safe, and happy, and watching Toy Story for the fiftieth time.

Detroit News story.

Toronto Star story.

CBC Story.

NY Times Story.

Day 2 of Snowmageddon. Rated PG for pretty great.

Photo 57

While I sit here staring out at the Snowmageddon happening right outside our front door, and pondering why the new Big Ten logo looks so stupid beside the new Pac 10 logo, why Cliff Lee had to go and sign with Philly surely making baseball conversations with my friend, Colin, unbearable this year, it struck me that I have never had two snow days, back to back, in my entire life...not once. That seems crazy. I live in Canada. I should be an expert on multiple, consecutive snow day adventures...I'm not.

A State of Emergency has been declared for our area. More than 350 motorists are stranded on the freeway, National Defense helicopters are assisting rescue efforts and everything East-West leaving our fair city has been closed to traffic. We're ruined, and it's interesting here on the edge of the Arctic Sea. We've been pummeled by wind and the spray from crashing waves for nearly a full 48 hours now. It feels like we've chosen to live on a rock overlooking the Bering Straight. Ridiculous. Nice little break from the everyday though.

My office and school is closed tight, so I get another Zed Day. Look out indifferent world, Daddy and Daughter are about to mix it up for the second consecutive day without the need for goodbye kisses and quiet, but oh-so cute "Have a good day," missives from a little, waving Zedder. Her head's gonna explode when she finds out that I'm not going anywhere.

Grandma is likely wishing she had more to do, and June is locked away in a trunk doing work from home. It's Daddy who's reaping all the benefits of this snowy tragedy outside our front door. Somewhere someone is trapped in a car while I'm watching Madagascar for the fifteenth time...and so is the great perplexity of life.

Who wants hot chocolate?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nice try...wishful thinking...

Apparently you can't write a book in a day, or at the very least I can't write a book in a day. Admittedly, I had something less than an abundance of free time to accomplish the feat, and it was a noble effort, but in the end I was a little too preoccupied with getting things a little too right. The cover looks great, and the back cover looks nice too. There are a bunch of words, and a nice sturdy direction to it all, but there are few sketches that I could hang my hat onto in between.

Nice try though. I suppose the challenge is to finish what I started, isn't it?

The gift that keeps giving...

In over her head

Dear Uncle D-Funk and Aunt K-Funk...

Thanks for the Richard Scarry kicks ass.

Love always...


Temperature conversion for us.


It's minus 23 degrees outside. Minus 23! Are you friggin' kidding me? In case you forgot how to convert that, and if you just so happen to be one of our good, good friends south of the border, well, West, from here I suppose...-23 degree Celsius is -9.4 degree Fahrenheit. Yeah, that's what I said, -9.4 degrees Fahrenheit...and that temperature was recorded several kilometres inland from here. The temps in our backyard are easily much colder. This beach living awesome in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, but it sucks the mustard in the Winter. Someone remind me why we live here again?

This weather's been harshing us out for thirty-something hours already, with no reasonable end in sight. Forecasts don't project these crazy winds or any of this lake effect snow to stop until early Wednesday. That means another 24 hours of pretending that we're Shackleton's Expedition and that doesn't sound like something I'd pick off a menu.

Snowed in...

Photo 39

Snow days aren't nearly as much fun as they used to be when I was a kid. They're still pretty good though. Zo and I had some pretty good times while the snow and wind tore things apart outside. We watched movies, and read books, and even invented some songs and stories...we mostly just hung out and soaked up the day. We ate breakfast together, we ate lunch together, we tackled nap time together, and we teamed up for multiple heinous diaper changes...we were full on BFFs for an entire Monday. I never get an entire Monday. That never happens. I never get an entire weekday of any kind.

Mummy was locked away, working in the bedroom. Grandma was hanging out while the snow whipped and the temps dropped. Debu mostly kept to himself, while Zoey and I acted like fools. We were happy to oblige that first rule of snow days. Get stupid, 'cause no one will see you.

I once wrote a book in a blizzard...

Let's say that there are no curve balls today. Let's say that the weather does what it does, but there is no power interruption , no nuthin' that would make our day difficult to manage. Let's say we have a perfect snowed-in blizzard of a day ('cause that's what we've got) and we can just hang out and hunker down...if we can do just that, I'm going to write a book today. That's right, a book, in a single day. Sure, I'm thinking just a kids book, for Zoey perhaps...artwork and all...and sure, that's not a massive leatherbound 80,000 word Iditarod OF literary sweat and strain, but it is a one day wonder...a four minute mile with pencil paper, computer, and creativity. Sounds fun, I think.

I don't have the first clue where I'd start, 'cept maybe by putting one foot in front of the other. The whole idea sounds better than daytime television. Maybe I'll start right here, right now with a simple sketch...then over coffee we'll have another idea, and then breakfast will bring a more detailed lunch we'll have something decent going, and then by the time Zoey lays down to nap we can really get busy with putting it all together. Before dinner, it'll look close to done. After dinner we'll get cruel with the editing, and by bedtime we'll have a story. It might not look as pretty as it possibly could, but it will be fun.

What else can a guy do when 50km winds and sideways snow have him pinned down in his own house? You can only play Jenga so many times before you hate that #$%^& game.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Yes, Zoey...

There are things that even though we know that they are fiction, we would so desperately like them to be fact...things like wishing on shooting stars, crossing your fingers for luck, and four leaf clovers...but believing in Santa Claus is something different. It's essential to believing in anything, I think.

"You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

Growing up is just about the most tragic thing that we do. You don't have to believe in Santa Claus but you do have to believe in the kind of magic that makes him possible. It's a cold winter if you don't.

When the going gets tough...

Drivin' home...whoa

When the going gets tough...June does the driving!

We snatched up Zedder from her uber-proud grandparents house, and shot home through some seriously crap weather. June drove, since she's the winter road expert of the house, driving back and forth to London as often as she does, and we passed half a dozen or so cars in the ditch on our expedition home. We were in good hands but that didn't stop Zedder from squeaking, "Oh my gosh," the entire way home.


The snow is beautiful and if it's gonna be winter it might as well look like this but it kills me to know that there are people on the planet that never have to slip in the snow, that never have to drive 20 mph all the way home, that never need new boots or snow pants, that never need to put their summer clothes away. I hate those people.

Sunday Snow...and more snow, and even more snow

Photo 31

Waking up to a literal winter wonderland on a day you don't have to drag your carcass to work is a bit of a gift. The snow is falling in giant, practically perfect flakes. The ground is completely white now. Yesterday it wasn't. There's almost no wind. The Christmas tree is lit, there are presents beneath it, the house is quiet, and coffee is coming. Now we just need our Zed. Zo's the roux in our collective gumbo. Without le Zed things can be kinda tasteless.

All this snow reminds me that I'm in dire need to snow pants and some serious winter boots. I suppose I'll need to indulge, but those are such bummers to drop loot on. We need a good sled. Don't have one. I'd like to re-invest in skis since I sold mine...all of them. Another three pairs of flannel lined chinos would be schweeeet. Alas, all of that costs good dough, and I'd rather jump in the lake than drop that much money on that kind of stuff...stuff being the key word. I'd like to enjoy less clutter in my life, and buying things is no means to that end. Right now I think I'll just enjoy the snow, get ready to get Zed, and be happy that there are three stockings hanging these days, where there used to be two.

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Big Chillin'...


Awesome...awesome...kinda dunno what else to type but awesome! After scrappin' for our seats and missing an entire period and then some we settled in with 113, 407 other people to watch the world's largest hockey game EVER! We barely got to see Brad and Header and the kids...totally missed Aimee and Kevin...was nowhere near some of our other friends but weren't too worried about it. We were too busy being amazed!

We got to hang out with two of our most absolute favorite people around, Dustin and Kelly, and scored some pretty funny stories to tell over and over again until people are sick of us, or at least until that good for nuthin', ancient mariner of a sad sack usher dies...whichever comes first.

We'll be missing for a few hours...

Zo is headed to her grandparents and we're headed to the hugenormous outdoor hockey game at Michigan Stadium today. We're slipping down to Ann Arbor with our good friends, Dustin and Kelly, and with Uncle B and Aunt Header and the kids in tow too. My old high school coach, Marc, will be there with his family, my buddies Adam, and Duckie, and we're hoping to cross paths with the Bergquists while we're at it too. Oh man...I'm so excited I can't even type.

110,000 at a hockey game! Jebus H Walter Gretzky this is going to be awesome!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Living with uncertainty...and some other junk.

This is what I decided today...that living with uncertainty is almost always more profitable than living with certainty.

People don't like doubt, so they pay money and give up incredible opportunities just to avoid it. Entrepreneurship is largely about living with doubt, as is creating just about any sort of art, and sticking to your beliefs and values.

If you need reassurance, you're giving up quite a bit to get it. If you can get in the habit of seeking out uncertainty, you'll have developed a pretty great instinct.

I decided that this was something that I believed in...well, that, and the fact that a Starbucks Venti Christmas Blend needs a crapload of sugar to go down easy...a crapload.

I also came to this random conclusion...

The world's worst boss is you. That's what I said,

In a single, solitary moment of quietude today I found myself scribbling this nonsense. Even if you aren't self-employed, your boss is still you. You manage your life, your day, your responses and reactions. You manage how you sell your skills and your education and experience...and the way that you talk to yourself, that inner voice, it's your own. Odds are, you're doing it poorly. We all are. I know I am.

If you had a manager that talked to you the way that you talked to yourself, you'd quit. If you had a boss that wasted as much of your time as you do, they'd fire her. If an organization developed its employees as poorly as you are developing yourself, it would go under.

It's surprising how often people choose to fail when they go out on their own, or when they end up in one of those rare jobs that encourages you to set an agenda and manage themselves (like mine). Faced with the freedom to excel, they falter and hesitate and stall and ultimately punt. I don't want to punt. I don't even like kickers, let a lone kicking. I want to go for it on fourth down...every fourth down. Punting is for, well, punters. Punters suck.

You're surprised when someone self-directed arrives on the scene. Someone who figures out a way to work from home and then turns that into a two-year journey, laptop in hand, as they explore the world while doing their job. You are shocked that someone uses evenings and weekends to get a second education or start a useful new side business. And you're envious when you encounter someone who has managed to bootstrap themselves into happiness, as if that's rare or even all that difficult to manage.

There are books on being a good manager. There are fewer on managing yourself. It's hard to think of a more essential thing to learn. It takes time, and it takes honesty. A lot of us aren't used to either.

Blah blah blah blah blah...and the colored girls go doo da doo, da doo, da da da doo da doo...

I was stuck doing interviews all day today...trying my best to give ten kids a life altering opportunity to make money, get stable, build connections, and maybe, if they're really right and really ready, find some inspiration and some mentorship. What I find every six or so months is that it's a rare thing to find someone who knows what they want, knows why they want it, and goes and gets it. It's an even rarer person that will reach for the ring when they haven't got any of the answers to those questions yet. We're bad at inspiration. As a society, we're awesome at pulling the curtain back and showing people what's out there, but that's not necessarily inspiration. I'm just sayin'...

I think I wrote more of the stuff down that was happening in my head than I did what was coming out of the interviewees mouths. Is that bad? It sounds bad.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Back to the drawing board...

Floor drawings

We draw a lot…less these days than before, but Zoey’s getting older, and paper and pencils doesn’t always hold her attention like it used to. Her tastes are becoming more refined. She’s starting to like crafts. Looks like Dad needs to get crafty.

It shouldn’t be a desperate stretch. I got to go to camp until I was thirty-something years old…literally. I think I can muster up some honest to goodness Daddy/Daughter craftiness. Is it strange that Dad is doing that? Maybe to some, and then maybe not at all to others. It’s funny, I challenge a decent Dad out there to sit down and create something fun with his son/daughter and not grow a big grin. It’s cool, in a much different way than a Pearl Jam show is cool. It’s honest to goodness, healthy, home-cooked happy practice, and if you’re not doing it, well, you’re not as happy as you could be. A little glue, some scissors, and maybe some googly eyes or a bead or two can make even the sturdiest dude melt a little…or it should. Someday my daughter won’t give a $#!^ about sitting on the kitchen floor with her Dad and glueing tissue paper onto a cardboard circle to make the lamest looking Christmas wreath ever. Someday there’ll just be the wreath, and no daughter. Little girls grow up, as this one is remarkably illustrating.

Tonight we’re going to make one of those damn wreaths, or maybe six of them, I dunno. Maybe we’ll mail you one for your damn fridge…who knows? What we do know for sure is that I’ll be in the silent minority of fathers gluing crap onto cardboard with their daughters tonight. I’m okay with that…in fact, I’m oh-so very proud of it, boldly so. I’m not above revisiting the four year old inside of me. I might even venture to say that it’s an integral part of who I am. Kind of a definitive character trait, I guess…and I might even be bold enough to place it at the top of my resume, I think, which kind of makes me wonder what ingredients went into my making. More camp crafts than Mastercraft, that’s for sure.

I wouldn't lose any sleep over it...

Are you supposed to be articulate at 6am? I'm not, at least, rarely so, if ever. Of course, I'll try, and of course, I'll fail miserably. Life's too short to stress over how good you are at anything at 6am. As a child, I used to be dragged out of bed at 6am for hockey, and I didn't much care how good I was then either. I always thought that it was an ungodly hour to strap metal blades to your feet and allow partially awake pre-pubescent morons barely in control of their own rapidly developing bodies to sling vulcanized rubber at you at great velocities. In fact, it was stupid. There's hardly ever an hour that makes that sound reasonable. 6am is for waking up miserably, changing diapers, or getting to the airport, that's it. Nevertheless, I am awake, and typing.

Zoey is fast asleep. June is getting ready for work. I am laying in bed, under a heated blanket, typing nonsense into a plastic box with an apple emblazoned on it. No one's changing any one is going to the airport...that leaves only miserable attitudes but, strangely, no one is sporting one of those either. This morning we're busy dismantling my theory about 6am.

I slept like a child last night. I don't always sleep that way. In fact, I usually don't sleep that way. I'm restless. I have nightmares. I wake up with strange injuries from my tossing and turning. I don't now how June manages it. It must be like sleeping on the line of scrimmage. Lately I've been sleeping better. I've got a theory about that, a much better one than that 6am rubbish.

I let go of some stuff...and then I grabbed hold of some stuff...and then I settled in under a heated blanket.

What did I let go of? Some insecurities, some anxieties, some out-of-my-controlities. I'm a fairly naturally anxious person, always have been. I probably always will be. When I was a child I personally inspected the interiors of every available restroom at Walt Disney World...I didn't ride a single ride. I was too worked up. When I left high school and found myself in a dorm room outside of Kansas City, Missouri I panicked. I used to get sick before games. I'm not at my best on planes. Get caught up in a mistake or error, I'm probably a little too hard on myself, a little too humble. Oh, I know nervous.

I decided to work hard to be more of a conduit for those feelings and not a repository.

What did I grab hold of? My faith, first...the overwhelming feeling that I believe in myself, and the irrepressible feeling that I am a good person, with good intentions, and a good conscience. I settled into the feeling that what everyone else has isn't necessarily what I want, and that what I want is good, and noble in a lot of ways, and I should be proud of what I am doing with my days, not busy evaluating them and placing them on some kind of scale. I grabbed hold of the notion that I am exactly who I want to be, and that the people that matter most, know that.

What's the deal with the blanket? Get one. If I have to explain the incredible benefits of heated blankets...well, you need more help than electricity can provide.

I sleep wonderfully now, That's right, I said wonderfully, and I'm not too cool to use the word. It's how I sleep these days. Just last week I had a meltdown of sorts, a tearful, head buried in the chest of my wife, knock down, head spinning, day spent in a jail cell consoling a kid, how'd I ever get here, kind of day...and I was summarily whisked away by the most heinous and insidious wave of anxiety I've ever felt. My chest was caving in under the weight...I couldn't get a clear thought out of my mouth...I was falling apart. For 48 hours it felt as though I was holding back tears throughout much too frequent intervals of my days...and then something happened. I came home one day and I looked at Zoey and saw the absolute wonder that I get to nurture, not the never-in-time brand of helping I do every day, but a way ahead of the game kind of nurturing, and it struck me that despite the occasionally life altering moment of desperate reasoning and hopelessness I wander into because of what I do, I manage at least one thing, and probably a lot of other things, ridiculously right. I watched Zoey play, and I listened to her talk, and I slipped and fell under her healing smile and her casual I love yous and it struck me that I might never, ever, deserve a better reason to sleep soundly than the one that I have right now. I wouldn't totally discount the heated blanket though.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Two years goes by awfully fast...


Two years ago, at nearly this exact time of year, we were fast approaching June's due date and neither one of us had any idea what was almost upon us. Everything we knew or had come to understand about life was about to flip sideways and then somersault three or four times as we struggled to spot one another. Two the blink of an eye. No one told us that it would move this fast.

No one told us anything of any value. The whole parenting experience was so absolutely unique. We really have no answers that would explain what we have now. After 22 months we have a beautiful, intelligent, audacious little girl. She's the happiest kid I've ever seen. She wakes up smiling. She listens. She has manners...incredible manners. She's is curious and caring, and she travels like a National Geographic photographer. She is healthy. She is eager to show affection, and easy to figure out. She makes us look good.

Two years ago...I don't know how we managed to make a little person this perfect.

It's my poddy and I'll cry if I want to...

Zedder used the poddy tonight. She's no stranger to it's awkward embrace but let's just say that she's not intimate with it's more subtle nuances. Tonight she was beyond excited to pee on her poddy and we celebrated with a sticker for her little plastic wonder carriage. With any luck she'll be pimpin' it out with more stickers as each and every day passes...She was so excited tonight that as soon as she was finished using it for the first time, she wanted to give it a go again. I think she was just jonesing for more stickers.

We made a pretty big deal out of the whole thing, as we should, and after a night that included a trip to the library, a tour of Christmas lights, and the chance to curl up with her Mum on the couch to watch Christmas Specials, using her poddy was her favorite. We've got to work on this kid's priorities.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...

There is a Christmas tree in our living room. It's a ridiculously modest tree, bought with some money that was given to us for our wedding by my cousin, Al and his wife Lindsey. It was important to us that we use it to buy something that would be with us for awhile, so we bought our first family Christmas tree with it. Good decision, 'cause we think of Al and Linds each and every year we put it up. It doesn't look like much, but it means a lot to us.

Zoey was excited...correction...SO excited, to help get Christmas rolling around here. She bounced around the living room while we assembled the tree. She dove into the decorations box and started chucking paper cranes all over the place, although mostly in one isolated spot on the tree. She did her best to help put lights on the branches she could reach, which meant mostly just dumping entire clumps of light strands on single branches...still wrapped in their twist-ties. She was all smiles and trembling hands. It was kinda breathtaking to watch. We so easily forget the overwhelming idea that Christmas is to a child.

We tried to take video...didn't work. We tried to snap a few photos...they looked awful. Mostly we just tried to remember it all. This, Zoey's second Christmas, will most certainly feel like her very first. She is old enough to know what's happening, and wide eyed enough to make us all feel small. I get kinda choked up thinking about it. She's got a lot of Christmas' ahead of her. We've got a lot of remembering to prepare ourselves for.

I try to remind myself that I need to be fully in each moment, watching and contributing...helping the holiday revolve around her, at least for as long as it can. It won't be long and we'll beat her out of bed in the morning, and she won't be so eager to dive into the box of decorations. She won't lose her mind when she sees her Christmas lights outside, and she'll probably have to work at the mall on Christmas Eve. So we're watching... and June's snapping pics, and I'm trying to scribble as much down as I can, but we know it's no use. Parents better than us have failed at the same task. It's the shared experience of this complex thing we're all doing, parenting, I mean, that we're doomed to forget, to take for granted, to lose perspective, but we duke it out with time and memory regardless. It's our right to try.

Our Christmas tree is up, and right now a little girl is bouncing around the house like it's the first day of the rest of her a painfully heart filling, incomprehensible way, it is. Now I have to stop writing because I keep mistyping through these very unmanly tears.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Building forts...

When I was a kid I was mucho adept at fort building. I was. Ask my brother. I was special. It was largely a combo of imagination, commitment and an unrivaled sense of outlandish adventure. Give me a few old pallets. a tin bucket and some rope and you wouldn't see me for hours. By the time you came looking for me I'd have built a Trump Tower of discarded detritus somewhere high off the ground or buried beneath some half rotted tree. I had skills...mad skills.

It doesn't really translate into adulthood, I suppose. Well, maybe it does, but the reason I mention it is that I believe very strongly in the notion of magical thinking, in turning old pieces of forgotten this and that into dreams. I still think I'm pretty good at fort building, it's just that the bent and broken things I'm using to build them now are people's hearts and hopes, and although I could still get lost in that effort for hours and hours, it's harder and harder to reach the kind of heights I hammered shoddy scraps into soft wood when I was a kid. These days the forts are a lot closer to the ground, and probably even less sturdy.

I was thinking tonight that everything I've ever been really good at in my life wasn't exactly the kind of thing that was easily converted into cold, hard social standing and respect. The kids that really dug my forts back in the day were the kind of kids who were looking to get that far off the ground in the first's the same kids today. The people I most connect with are the ones who are willing to connect, the ones with open hearts and minds. The kind of people who issue diplomas and sign pay cheques don't often appreciate the fort builders the way that the fort sitters do. I'm okay with that.

Zoey's going to make-believe a lot, and with any luck, she'll build as many forts as her head can imagine. I hope that she keeps building them her whole life. I hope that the only tool box that she ever really needs is the one on her shoulders and between her ears. I hope that she can play for hours and decades in the secret places she conjures up, those places where she is whatever she imagines herself to be. I'm still doing it, and sometimes I smile at what I can build with utter junk.

When you know...

December 7th, 2010

I have every intention of drinking some stellar coffee and watching Serendipity tonight while Zoey sleeps peacefully and I pine for friends like John Cusack and Jeremy Piven. I'll brainstorm Christmas gifts for June, and dream about skating in Central Park. I'll play Bing Crosby during the commercials.

I don't care if I have to hand in my man-card for liking Serendipity...we're talking about a couple of awesome buddies, Kate Beckinsale, and New York City...I shouldn't have to even justify it. The definition of man is so $#@%ing lame these days anyway. If you watch movies that things blow up in then you're a dude, I guess. Whatever...I'll take Jonathon and Dean's buddyhood over some Band of Brothers frat crap.

How come I don't have a buddy like that? Why don't I know an Obits writer from the NY Times who's willing to wild goose chase with me across time zones and embrace all the fleeting manly whimsy that two dudes can stir up? I'd like a friend like that...I've got a few good ones, but none exactly like that. And come to think of it, I need a little more of that impetuous frivolity, the kind that Piven and Cusack go chasing after all film long.

"If you want to improve be content to be thought foolish and stupid"...Epictetus said that. Write that down. It's good advice.

I think I'm going to place an ad for a friend like Dean, but for right now I want to be in New York with my wife and daughter, and I want a Shawn Colvin soundtrack in the background and yellow cabs and Central Park ice rinks and buildings that drift up into a snowy sky. This Saturday night is just fine the way that it is, but I wouldn't be too upset if somehow we were just transported to a dinner table in Brooklyn with friends and a city all to ourselves. That'd be practically perfect.

What do you want right now?

My life feels like this...and I'm not complaining.


Ever feel like your oh-so indifferently carving your initials into the bark of society's tree? It feels good. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, but mostly it feels good.

Zoey's new affinity for emphasis...

Good morning Zed

We noticed yesterday that Zoey had adopted a new disconcerting way of eagerly expressing emphasis. I just now heard her say...

"I SO need that Mummy. I just need to put goo on that thing."

She is sitting at the kitchen table putting stickers onto construction paper while her Mom cuts apples. She's adding glue to the back of the stickers, you know, in case they aren't quite sticky enough, and she is very emphatic about her need to do this.

She is SO into it. She's been using the overemphasis + SO combo for no more than 24 hours now and we're wondering who replaced our daughter with this inflection machine.

WTH did she learn that? She's talking like a fifteen year old cheerleader from Riverside, which is fine, I suppose, as long as she's 22 months old and talking about stickers and cookies and Strawberry Shortcake dolls etc...

Who taught her to talk like that? It SO wasn't Grandma or Baachan. It wasn't me. June doesn't talk like that. It's like she was watching old episodes of Square Pegs or somethin'...It frightens me. It's SO 1983. It's like Cameron Crowe is filming an 80's high school comedy in our kitchen.

Sometimes pathetic isn't so pathetic after all...


I just read the term pathetic fallacy and swooned. That's right, I said swooned, because that's how it felt when I tripped over those two words. How much of my life aside from my wife and daughter feels like that? Happy accidents, timely opportunities, unexpected results...serendipity even. It's true. I've rarely set out to do something and accomplished it. $#!% just kinda happens. I'm an awfully flexible guy for never having tortured myself with even a day of yoga. I get by. I roll with punches. I pick myself up and carry on. I tell myself whatever I need to tell myself to manage what I need to manage, and what's worse, I believe my own bull$#!% sometimes.

My life is full of pathetic fallacy. I'm tragically opportunistic. I don't actually aspire to things as much as I latch onto them. I don't want to teach Zoey that, well, perhaps some of it, but not all of that. I'm being hard on myself, I know, and I'm leaping and bounding over the best qualities that I'm sure I'm a proper host for, but those things all sit alright with me. It's the sturdy take what comes stance that bothers me. You don't sweat the good stuff, just the bad. I need to remind myself of the good stuff that all that ambidextrous living has allowed.

I had a grandmother call yesterday to say thanks. She's taken custody of her fifteen year old grandson and it's been rough. He's had a few setbacks, great big, giant, setbacks, and was lifeless, truly, he didn't want to live anymore. We met. We talked. We laughed a bunch. We got some things set straight, and then we planned to meet again. I'm going to get him a job. I'm going to pay some attention to the things that other more familiar and vested men should have paid attention the shaky sound of his voice, and the vibrant hope laying just beneath all of the brooding the laugh that needs to be coaxed out but that still comes if you ask for the obvious size of the hurt and the much less obvious inability to patch it all up. He left my office type cave thing with the kind of promise that he should have been getting from others. I will pay attention to you, and I will listen to you, and I will try to understand you...I will invest in you with part of me, even though I typically don't have a lot to give, even if I'm spread pretty thin, even if it's not enough, it's something, and I will give it...not because anyone is asking but because you deserve it. We all deserve it, yes, but I've met you, and I've talked to you, and I like you. You deserve it doubly because you're pretty cool, even if you don't have a mirror that tells you that...even if you wouldn't believe it if it did. I'll remind you. Grandma said he's been feeling pretty good ever since. He looks different. He talks different. He's excitable and talkative, and eager to live out every little moment. She said that i did that. I thanked her because that kind of conversation never happens, and I felt happy, and humbled, but I also reminded myself that I didn't do anything except show up. I'm smart enough to know that it's more than just that, but I'm also smart enough to plead with you that it isn't.

Yesterday I willingly walked into what amounted to a housing project I had never been in, to visit a family I barely know, but who needed the attention. It was a housing project like any other housing project, no different because it's here and not in Red Hook, no different even though the faces are deceivingly diverse, the languages many and the smells conflicting, rather than ethnically imbalanced as they might be in certain parts of America. Here in Canada poverty typically has no face anchored in the racial stereotype we are used to. The housing projects hallway smelled of curry, and dope, of burning cedar, and frying hamburger, and dirty shoes (in winter when old snow battered sneakers are left in filthy, wet hallways to kinda sorta dry, the housing projects always smell like sweaty feet). There is no community of one specific culture or another, there's just poverty...Indian, Caribbean, Eastern European, Aboriginal...and with it residents are robbed of even a sense of community beyond the social and economic factors that they share. In housing here, you are just poor, nothing else, just poor. I knocked on the door and was gestured to come inside by an Aunt. The girl I stopped to help hadn't been in school since the 6th grade. No one had ever called to inquire about her. She was in the most definitive sense, at least according to the local school board, disposable. There on her dirty couch, we talked about it. She expressed her desperate desire to make something of herself and that she knew she never would without being able to read and write and think in a way that was even close to resembling the rest of the working world. She was easily confused and wanted to not be. I made a few phone calls, and arranged a meeting for her to register and take a few courses not at a school, where she would surely fail, but at a local resource house that she was familiar with, with a teacher her Aunt worked with, and that she felt comfortable with, and that she was eager to see. Done. School for the first time in a long time. She was excited. She wanted to hug me but I declined, so her Aunt did. It felt awkward, and I turned to leave, opening the door and finding the sneaker smell where I left it. How had no one helped this kid? It was easy. It was a visit, a gentle urging and a phone call. By the time I got back to my office she had called and left a message to say thanks again. I smiled as I deleted it, knowing that it was better to graciously accept the sentiment but leave it behind me, the bulk of it's value used up already in that first instant.

That's the good stuff, and just from yesterday afternoon alone. I suppose, those are the kind of things that I can orbit around...the things that I should orbit around, not the overwhelming feeling of pathetic fallacy that I sometimes get bogged down by. There are things that I can be proud of, and naturally, there are things that I struggle with. I probably shouldn't be so concerned with direction, as long as I have purpose. They're two remarkably different things that are lumped together all too often. Even if I don't always know where I'm going, I'm nearly always certain of why I'm going, and that's more important, perhaps.

Pathetic fallacy...maybe I just wanted to type that. I don't think I really believe it. I'm sure it exists, and very likely in great big heaping amounts, but I just might have an answer for it in my everyday. I suppose there's also the notion that it's who sees you for what you really are, and how they see you that's most important. Those friends of mine whose wet shoes are drying in those dirty hallways don't much care if I've never stumbled from point A to point B do they? No, they're quite happy I haven't I guess. That's relativity, I tell myself. Einstein's all about those random smells of curry, and dope, of burning cedar, and frying hamburger, and those dirty, drying shoes. For the rest of my life I'll remember the smell of those drying shoes and feel a little better about my pathetic fallacies.

Friday, December 3, 2010

See these two funsters...


These two kids are gettin' hitched and we're super stoked about the enterprise. He's one of my favorite people on planet earth and even though she's handicapped in a strictly baseball sense, we've got her in our Top Three Favorite Women of All Time, regardless.

Mucho love and affection Joe and Erin...nice timing too...if the Lions beat the Bears this weekend you can always give Joe the ring back.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I'd like to wake up to this...


If there is anyone out there capable of answering wishful dreams, I'd like to wake up in the morning to this...

I'd write more but I'd like to get back to dreaming.


Heart cloud

Stop and Goethe...

"I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”

- Goethe

Today worked me over pretty good, enough to leave me wiping tears away with my wife's blouse. There has been better days, and surely, there are worse. Thank Jebus for Christmas Specials, Goethe and little girls...and for big ones too. Thanks June for picking me up whenever I fall apart.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Our new life...

Photo 60

How we live is ridiculous...We don't want for things. We don't think about what we do or how we do it. We cruise. It's time to make some changes. We want to be more financially responsible. We want to save. We want to invest in the future and pay off the past. We want to feel good about the way in which we manage our lives...proud. Right now we feel fortunate...capable and responsible might feel better. Kinda like how you always feel better when you clean your house, or rake up all the leaves. We have high hopes of getting in shape, period.

We're going to be a family and keep things simple. We're going to enjoy the place that we're in. We're going to hunker down and accomplish things. We're going to find the people under all these layers of luck and lackadaisical living. There will be more photography, more artwork, more writing, more visiting friends and family, more reading, more exercising, more local adventuring, more of an investment in us, in the most simplistic ways. I'll stop buying books and start going to the, stealin' all of it from now on...clothes, got, can be nourishing ourselves more consciously and better...there's a lot of things that we can change.

Tigers Opening Day...maybe, season tickets, ahhh, nope...big concerts, few, if any at all...there are plenty of small cheapola shows to and lunch out every day, waste of money...etc...surprising etc...

We want to start living deliberately, and so we will. We have a feeling that we're going to like the people that it makes us become. In the end, that's all we're really looking for. We want to be something a little more impressive that what we are right now. We're so excited that it's hard to sleep.