Saturday, April 30, 2011

Homemade F Train

Cardboard train

I want to make a train like this for Zedder's room. Lately I wanna make a million things out of cardboard. Why is it that we're always just recycling the stuff or simply throwing it out? Cardboard is some seriously cool, under-appreciated, under-utilized awesome stuff. I'm becoming quite infatuated with the sheer amount of amazingness one can achieve with a little divergent thinking, a utility knife, some packing tape, and a lot of cardboard. I'm a pretty big fan of it's cost effectiveness too.

We've been thinking about what we'll fill this new house of ours with, and we're kinda stumped. We certainly have no interest in the usual path of least money down, don't pay until 2013...and who the hell wants to own two or three couches? Hell, we just bought our first one a year ago. I'm sure the place will be half empty for the first year we live in it. We're also not the Better Homes & Gardens types either...there's no Martha Stewart magazines on our end fact, there are no end tables, so we've been having a bit of a difficult time imagining what we're going to do with the space. That's where the cardboard comes in. At least as far as Zoey's room is concerned, you can do some seriously cool things with cardboard. We're not talking about making our entire dining room set out of cardboard boxes, but it would be an interesting idea, maybe even a smart one. I mean, who wants to sleep over when the guest bed is an old refrigerator box? Nobody. And you thought all this cardboard talk was silly.

Zoey's Got 'Nastics...Daddy's Got a Cold

Zoey has gymnastics this morning...and Daddy can barely see twenty-five feet between the awful watery eyes of a sinus cold. Ugh. I hope Zo gets to do her flips four feet in front of me, otherwise, she's going to be a pink and blue blob of daughter, flipping and rolling around the Bluewater Gymnastics Club. Oh, and the sun's out for the first time in a week, you know, just to rub it all in a little more. Daddy couldn't enjoy himself today if you plucked him out of his misery and set him down in Chavez Ravine. Sinus colds are just plain old misery...a mild misery, but the kind that just wears you down.

Zedder is excited about her 'nastics class this morning. Daddy is too, you just can't tell. Zo looks cute. Daddy looks like he just climbed Everest. It's a pretty ridiculous contrast.

Mom's got the camera packed. Dad's got the DayQuil packed. Zo's got more energy than the day might require. THis is gonna be interesting.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Strange Inspiration


Okay, so these two random photos made me want to have more kids.


How incredible does this family look? Pretty #%&damn incredible! I want that...and I want that photo on the beach in San Francisco too.

Check out Julia-Wade Photography if you get the chance...whoa, awesome.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nuthin' like a few good links...

While you're recovering from the Bruins and Habs Game 7, check out these...

It's like this company was born in my closet.

Cool story. I could spend a decade piecing together a book about Bartman, a wildly curious case study in the ridiculousness of modern fandom.

Can't get enough of this.

On the eve of Thursday's NFL Draft...a story that reminds you what sports journalism could be.

The most honest, amazing children's book known to man (and woman) today.

This is what I sometimes do when stupid people are talking to me...

In a perfect world I'd be on a plane first thing in the morning headed for SF, doing this by noon.

My new philosophy.

We are stardust, we are golden. We are caught in the devils bargain, and we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Wow...kinda awesome.

Even more awesome!

Kinda desperate for these trunks.

I'm going to go to bed and pretend that I'll wake up in Napa, CA

Kind of an awesome Mother's Day present, don't you think?

My Reckless Records haul in Chicago.

Awesome link from my boyo, Dustin.


Memories are made of this...

Serree Rick Habs
Aunt Serree and her phenomenal faja, Rick, flying their Habitants colors proudly

When I was a kid the first hockey player I remember was Ken Dryden. The first hockey team I remember was the Montreal Canadiens. The first jersey I owned...Habs. My first set of official Sears Catalogue NHL pajamas...Les Habitants. Sadly, Wayne Gretzky, Grant Fuhr and the fellas stole my affections away from Montreal without so much as a see ya later, and I've never really flipped back in love with one of the most iconic franchises in sports history. I never forgot them though, and at this time of year I always feel a faint hint of affection for the team wearing the exact same sweaters as I did for my entire young and impressionable minor hockey life.

I grew up a whole lot since minor hockey, and I spent most of my time down at Joe Louis Arena through high school and into college, so the Red Wings eventually stole all of my attention, but it's difficult to forget about the logo emblazoned on your first set of hockey pajamas. I peed all over those pajamas, for Gods sake! You can't just ditch a team you shared a sopping wet bed with, can you? I should hope not. Those were traumatic times, what with all that bed wetting and all, and les Habitants didn't waver from their duty as a urine filter for a five year old. The very least I can do is embrace a whisper of nostalgia come playoff time.

Go Habs Go!

What I never, ever anticipated was that Zoey might find an affinity for those same Canadiens at almost the same age that I surely found myself plopped in front of those flashing red, white and blue jerseys. Just today she asked if we could play hockey in the living room, completely out of the blue, and now, tonight, we can't get her to stop running around naked and jumping up and down with the Boston - Montreal Game 7 roaring in the background. It's not a stretch to imagine that I did something very similar when I was her age.

We're certainly learning a pretty valuable lesson tonight...If you can't cheer for your team naked, then maybe you have no business cheering for them at all. Thanks Zo. Humility is overrated. I gotta send this pic to Rick and only a naked little funster could squeal, Go Habs Go!

The Relatively Infamous Kite Incident As Told By An Observer

kite incident

Flying a kite with a 2 year old isn't as easy as you might imagine. Not even close. See above.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day Off + Daddy + Daughter = Disaster?

I spent three days in Chicago thinking about my daughter. She took six hours to knock me down, and now I'm flustered, and feeling like a fool for imagining that I matter every day...Oh sure, some days I matter very much, it's just that I don't matter every day, and that's frustrating.

I had big plans for today, then Mother Nature got her stupid nose into our business, and those plans were laid to waste. Then I adopted moderately ambitious plans to which Zoey got in the way...and at the end of the day (not quite, but close enough) I was left holding a handful of wishful thinking, heartfelt urges, and a little regret.

We started our day at the Animal Farm...nice, except half the animals were on strike, apparently...union issue, I assume. We got hissed at by a not very kind goose, and Zoey wasn't all that happy to have bird poop on the bottom of her shoes. She was fairly enthusiastic about things in cages, but not so cool with walking where the geese walk. Meh...who ever is, really? On the plus side, she was looking every bit as cute as the word's definition allows.

Animal Farm Easter Bunny

She wore her hair in piggies, sported her pink rain coat, and carried her lunch box everywhere. In those moments I looked like a good Dad. If only those moments could have lasted. For a much too brief 45 minutes we were happy meandering fools, checking out rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, turkeys, geese, a donkey, goats, peacocks, etc...relatively unimpressive etc...and then the signs started to appear that perhaps the day was disintegrating.

Animal Farm...checking out peacocks

"I want to go home," Zoey said abruptly, not long after stroking a donkey's ear.

"Huh," I guffawed. "Home. Why do you want to go home? There aren't any donkeys or guinea pigs at home."

"I just wanna go home and see Mummy," she said.

I did my best to distract her with more animals, and a pretty ingenius poop dodging game, but the tires were slowly going flat. She was still paralyzingly cute but a little less than enthusiastic. I think I was caught up in the cute, and wasn't paying enough attention to the oh-so important unenthusiastic part.

Animal Farm...goats

So we left the Animal Farm and since it was only 10:30am, and I was hoping to navigate a full day with Zed, we snuck over to Value Village to root through second hand books and toys. I was thinking that perhaps we'd find a treasure to take home, and maybe that would inspire a new day. Nope. She was eager enough to look at books, and she was more than enthusiastic to litter the toys all about, but you can't buy happy. Rooting through the shelves of assorted this and that might be Baachan's idea of fun, but Zoey was only mildly entertained.

Like Baachan, like granddaughter

She put on a good face, and tried, but in the end she couldn't help but dampen the air with another familiar sounding plea.

"I wanna go home Daddy," she said.

"But I thought we'd go out for lunch," I suggested, "and maybe bring something home for Mummy?"

She reluctantly agreed, and so we headed over to the supermarket where we could eat, visit the live them to the frozen dead ones, and maybe sneak together a nice dinner for Mom to end her day with. Nope. Zedder wanted to go home and she was done with the store, done with listening, and certainly done with a hard-working and quickly deflating Daddy. We went home. It was nearing nap time, there were tears...a lot of them, there were hives...there always is short on the heels of tears, and there were hurtful words.

"I like Mummy better than you," Zoey announced, angry with me for asking for her attention, frustrated by my refusal to allow her to do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. Today Zedder wanted no barriers, while Dad, despite his eagerness to hang out, was in big favor of maintaining them. And with that one sentence, Daddy turned the car toward home, felt a surge of absolute heartbreak, and kind of wondered what happened in three days to have earned that hurt.

I put Zo to bed and didn't say much. I wasn't very eager to expose myself to the humiliation that only a two year old can dole out. Lesson learned...all your best intentions mean nothing if they're not someone else's desires. Of course, Zo was only looking for a reaction, and naturally, she doesn't understand the weight of her words, nor do I believe that she means what she says on most occasions, but it stings no less, and does little more than reinforce the notion that Daddy counts only when daughter wants him to count, and Mummy matters more. I suppose we all know that. Most of us fathers feel it on a daily basis, it's just rare that it gets verbalized. I thought I had until she was fourteen before I got stripped of my pride.

Day off + Daddy + Daughter = Disaster.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Restless in Chicago...

The View

Too tired to be articulate...

Two days at Wrigley Field...a group of friends and strangers with seemingly stainless steal stomachs and frightfully efficient livers...missing my girls...Left the game early today, with the Dodgers seemingly firmly in control...and then they lost. Slipped over to Reckless Records with my new good friend, Jimmy Whynot, and bought three illusive Ryan Adams records to bring home with me...ate crap McDonalds tonight while the fellas were indulging in deep dish pizza, redeemed myself by buying a homeless guy some fries and a burger...Sitting in a bookstore on State St. doing homework while Chicago buzzes all around me. Heading home in the morning and I'll post from the comfort of my own couch and daughters loving stare.

Chicago been berry berry good to me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bye Bye Brooklyn...


Here are two of our favorite three people...the third is very likely the one snapping the picture. Our friends Jeff and Mel, and their little wonder, Elle, are on their way to Ottawa. Like Micheal Stipe once said, leaving New York's never easy, and I'm sure they'll miss their amazing little piece of Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. We miss it. It'll be so strange to head back and not find them there. We're sure to return to Brooklyn for more summers and there will be no park time with the Cowgerellis, no crammed and cramped apartment dinners with fun toddler games and way too much food. There'll be no more visits to the Y with the girls, and no more spontaneous picnics overlooking Manhattan along the East River, but mostly there'll be no more Cowgeraniums and that makes us sad.

We had one full and amazing (and hot) summer soaking up Jeff, Mel and Elle every bit as much as the city, and then enjoyed a stellar week with our favorite Carroll Gardeners just a month ago. It won't be the same, not ever, but such is life. They're such smile inducing memories that it's upsetting to think that we might never wander up Court St., or down Smith again, not with Mel and Elle, not with Jeff and I trailing and rambling on and on. We certainly won't get the chance to circumnavigate the near entirety of Central Park with three near perfect companions.

We wish them the best of luck back here in Canada, and we'll surely see them very soon. It was a nice run they had, but Canadians tend to eventually wander back to Canada. Although leaving New York's never easy, coming home surely is.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bought a house...

We just bought a house. I don't know what else to say 'cause I'm kinda in a stupor. We've pretty much decided to spend the next ten years, at least, on Lake Huron and a stone's throw to the Michigan border. Of course, anything can happen, and surely will, but for now we'll be calling Murphy Rd., one block off of Lakeshore, home.

Wuh...crazy. Kind of the most inarticulate I've ever been, but nothing much sums it up like, wuh...crazy.

House inspection tomorrow...closing on June 17th. Better start packing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I think our daughter might be racist...

Tonight while watching the Knicks - Celtics game Zoey yelled, "Hey look, that black guy's got the ball!" June and I stared at one another aghast. Just when we couldn't be more confused at where Zed might have gathered such a racially insensitive perspective, and just as I was thinking to myself that I better sit down for a talk with Grandma, she blurted, "I want a white guy to have the ball." June passed out, and while I was fanning her with a copy of Martin Luther King Jr's The Trumpet of Conscience, Zoey screamed at the television, "Give that white guy the ball!

It's a difficult thing to admit to yourself that your beautiful little two year old girl just might be a racist, but my discomfort was eased when June woke up from her shock induced coma, and observed that the Celtics were wearing their home whites, and the Knicks dark blue uniforms very closely resembled black from a distance, and that Zoey was, in fact, referring to uniform colors rather than flesh tones. June sighed a breath of relief and set off with Zo to run a bath. I stayed put, stuck in my shock and awe, and convinced that Zoey was indeed referring to skin color. Just as I was about to let disappointment consume me, it struck me that she was making reference to the Celtics and I hated them anyway. It eased my apprehension.

Now in hindsight we're quite sure that Zo was referring to the team's uniform colors, and that her bold exclamations were simply mistaken for something much more heinous than what they were meant to be...either that or she's a total bigot, and I'm not really sure what to say about that.

Thanks Tina Fey...and Heather Too


A friend of mine just posted this on her Facebook wall and so I've decided to steal it, mostly because I can, I mean, who's stopping me? But also because she's very cool and would be fine with my sincerity inspired thanks Heather.

Aside from the tattoos part (what kind of hypocrite would I be), this Mothers Prayer for a Child by Tina Fey is here you go beautiful people...

“First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels. What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen.Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, that she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back. “My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.


-Tina Fey

Brilliant...just brilliant.


Last night, before bedtime, when I was reading with Zoey on the couch, I took a break to indulge my swelling emotions (be warned not-yet-parents, 'cause that's part of the deal) and say to Zoey, "I love you Zo." She smiled widely and put her hand on my face, "I know you love me Daddy," she said softly, "I love you too...MORE."

Soft sigh and giant swoon...How are you supposed to keep it together all manly-like after that?

Just a question. Carry on.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Six Stories to Distract You From This Occasionally Boring Life...

I read a lot, and I like magazine articles if they're written the way that they should be. Here are a few distractions from my heavier posts of late. This is damn good stuff...

Now this is an amazing story.

I bet I read this story once a month.

I carry a copy of this story with me in my bag. I read it whenever I need some perspective. I occasionally give a copy to a kid. I love it.

This story about Frank Sinatra for the April 1966 issue of Esquire Magazine is a classic, and there deserves, at the very least, to be a photocopied version laying on your night stand.

When Len Bas died I was paying attention. This Bill Simmons story reminded me why I still do.


Thank You John Ralston Saul...for one inexhaustible idea

Reading John Ralston Saul's book, A Fair Country, and a passage struck me as something I might call life altering. A discussion regarding the awful history of Canada's residential school system, and it's terrible impact on aboriginal Canadians, led to a fairly beautiful acknowledgement of our role in one of the more heinous events in North American history. The passage read:

"The Canadian government was right to apologize in 2008 for the destructive residential school system. It should and could have done it in the 1980s or 1990s. And Canadians were right to believe that the apology should be made. It was an act of dignity that befits an adult nation."

It struck with the force of a clenched fist. "An act of dignity, that befits an adult nation." What an impressively simple yet incredibly articulate statement. It was beautiful, I thought, as my pride pounded a little in my chest, and my heart warmed to the notion of a nation doing their best to do very hard things right. I careened off into an almost impossible to quell feeling of wanting the very same in my own life...of seeking dignity in difficult things, and the idea might now be a life changing notion for me. Whatever it was that was so difficult to explain before now had a reference point. I wanted to find my way through doing difficult things with dignity. It was an easy enough idea, but articulating what I felt seemed elusive for what felt like decades. No more. I want what John Ralston Saul so simply wrote in that text. I want to do difficult things with dignity. I'm not sure if I'd have ever found my own words for such a profound thing.

A Reasonable Argument...

we all scream for ice cream!

Cute is good. Cute means getting a break every once in awhile just on the merit of making other people smile. Cute, combined with reasonably intelligent, translates into opportunities that not-so-cute and not-all-that-smart don’t always walk head first into. I’ll gladly take cute, and hope to inspire smart, and then cross my fingers for the best.

There’s a billion reams of paper, full of several trillion pages of several zillion words and statistics, that support the notion that cute kids who don’t upset people, and achieve a reasonable amount, somehow manage to succeed at a higher rate than kids like me.
It’s true. In fact there are probably several million references that I could cite, but haven’t (and couldn’t be bothered).

we all scream for ice cream!

So we’re fairly confident that Zo is cute, at least the Zo that we get to enjoy each and every day right now…and she seems, to completely inexperienced parents, to be reasonably intelligent, if not much more than that, and so it looks as though all of the pressure is on us. If our daughter turns out to be something less than what any parent would hope for, then I figure it’s entirely our fault. She should pass grades 1 thru 3 just on blue eyes and smile alone.

If she fails to manage that then feel free to blame us…and we’ll deflect it onto any number of other factors.

Damn dams...

I often beg people to be open and honest. It’s usually a struggle. It’s sometimes a boon of pushover easy peasyness. It’s not very often that I have to remind myself to do it, but occasionally I do. When I do stumble into those moments, those times that I would equate to beavers building an emotional damn out of fallen timber right there in my head, heart, and throat, it tends to come rushing out like a flash flood. Typically when that happens my openness and honesty destroy everything in their path. It’s ugly.

On the weekend I burned out and melted down a little. Burdened with actual tasks, obligations, and responsibilities, and mixed with presumed expectations, roles, and my own humble but often Gulliver sized ambitions, I kicked in the dam holding back all of that stagnant water and it burst forth a flood of irrational but sincere emotional detritus. When it was all over June was left clinging to a piece of floating floxum…not jetsam, but certainly floxsum.

I wouldn’t even know where to start save to say that trying to be something is much more difficult than it is to actually be something. You can’t want to be everything to everyone and even come close to managing it. It’s impossible. And if you muddy the concept up with the notion that you’re probably a whole lot more than you give yourself credit for anyway, well, then all that effort and anxiety and inevitable disappointment will sink you. I’ve been very busy trying to be a lot of things and not paying very good attention to what I might actually be already.

I want to be an incredible Dad.

I want to be a stellar husband.

I want to be a good person.

I want to do meaningful work.

I want to be good at what I do…very good.

I want to orbit around a somewhat unique life.

I want to be better than I am at almost everything that I do.

Those are lofty ideas, and probably impossible to manage without dropping the ball here and there. So when I wake up worrying about my work day, and then watch for little Zedder’s eyes to open and get busy being a Dad when I can (some days she’s just not awake when I leave the house), and then actually get waist deep into my ugly day, and juggle all of…that awful and amazing stuff…then hurry home to pick up Zed and find the Dad in me again… dinner, diaper, desperate hope that Zed is really digging Daddy that day…at least until Mom gets home at 6:30 or sometimes 7pm…and then want to be there for bath time, and bedtime (less of late), and then dive into homework…by that time I typically don’t want to talk about money, or buying a house, or any number of endless other things. I just want 1+1 to equal 2. Holy Mother of Magglio Ordonez, I need to find some perspective in there somewhere.

I know that I’m a good father, and I’m certain that I’m a salvageable husband, if not one that requires very little maintenance…patience, sure, but maintenance, no. I know that I tackle very meaningful work, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be reminded time and time again that I do it very well. Everything on my resume and in my memory serves as an example of remarkably unique choices, and most of that lends an air of being a decent person across the breadth of my life, but somehow, someway, even when I don’t have the time to breathe, I do manage to allow doubt and anxiety to slip into my schedule. I always seem to have time for that. And, of course, I don’t know whether it’s a by-product of all of my life experiences, or if it’s something I’ve just picked up in more recent years, but I never, ever feel good enough…not even close.

Compliment me and watch how I react…awkwardly. Assure me that everything is going to be fine, and I’ll almost always allow for the possibility that it won’t be. I tend to fill in the blanks with my own version of the story, almost as quickly as the real one unfolds. Call it a byproduct of the day job…insist that it’s a result of a life spent writing my own endings, in-betweens, and very often beginnings…but it’s something that allows ample opportunity for beavers to start building those emotional dams the minute my guard is down.

And so, although I know that I’m very likely better than I imagine myself to be…and although I’m reassured that it’s impossible to be all that I want to be, I’m still very much aware of the fact that on occasion I’m not so good at being the open and honest guy that I demand others to be with me, and then the dam bursts.

It burst on the weekend and June bore the full brunt of it (like a champ) without so much as a whisper of intolerance. If anything I may have broke her heart a little. I don’t look good unraveling. See, sometimes it’s all a little too much, and even my own reflection gets to be too impossible to stare at, and all of those reassurances of being the kind of person that I always wanted to be, just serve to remind me how impossibly hard that is. So after a brief stint in the world of “what-the-#$@%-was-I-thinking,” more widely recognized as your run of the mill meltdown, I have stumbled back into a somewhat familiar rhythm of semi-conscious worry and anxiety over those things in my life that I can’t control. It’s what I do…and I’m good at it. Sometimes the dam bursts, and sometimes it needs to.

Damn beavers.

At least I'm not this guy...nice parenting Ernest.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream...

new ice cream set from ikea... minus the playdoh

Ikea and little wee funsters is pretty much a home run. If you're avoiding Ikea for some random reason, and you have funsters at home that could benefit from all that Swedish ingenuity (that sounds funny, even if I know it to be true) then you really need to shake your inhibitions loose and go get some meatballs and an ice cream play set...maybe a chair or book shelf, while you're at it.

Zedder scored this new, awesome Playdoh ice cream play set thingy a few weeks ago, and it's been a pretty popular hit. Sure the ice cream tastes kind of awful (as most modeling compounds composed of flour, water, salt, boric acid, and silicone oil do) but the service is top notch at Zed's Ice Creamery, and the owner is awfully damn cute.

new ice cream set from ikea... minus the playdoh

Zed's got herself a pretty amazing imagination, as most squirts do, I guess, and I'm sure we've fostered it quite a but with the kind of toys that we surround her with, but she just seems to have the personality and perspectives of a kid absolutely made for imaginative play. She's a curious and bold play pal in social situations, but she'll happily play alone too...and do it astonishingly well. She makes up stories, and acts out fairly hilarious dramatic conflicts between stuffed animals. She never forgets a line from a book or movie, and she's better at grouping and organizing things than her mom and I combined. She's pretty damn good at this playing thing.

new ice cream set from ikea... minus the playdoh

I know these next couple of years are shaping her quite possibly more than any other development that she'll enjoy across the span of her whole life, but it seems baffling to me what she locks onto, and what she finds interest in. I am floored at the absolute consequence of every interaction and each moment. When she wants to talk about something, boy, you'd better be ready to talk because the meat of that conversation is very likely going to stay with her. We thought that she was developing fast before...not even close to the speed with which she changes and grows now. For me, it's become pretty obvious that early on it's as simple as pouring every amount of attention and energy into how you're interacting with your child. THe ice cream still tastes like $#!^ though.

Girls will be girls...

Happy birthday Valerie's baby!!!

Lately the talk around our house, ahem, castle, has been, "Mummy, you be the Queen, and I'll be a princess."

"What about Daddy," June will ask Zoey.

"He's just Daddy," she'll happily blurt, and off she goes, skipping around the house, with crown and scepter/magic wand...sometimes in a tutu. It's such a natural phenomenon all this princess talk, and subtle gender association's in the books Zo reads, it's on the television programs and movies that she's everywhere. Now it's in our living room.

It's difficult to raise a daughter and not have her find those images, and I'm sure it's of less consequence than many people will have you believe. Not every little girl that reads Cinderella is going to grow up with a complex, in fact, it seems quite ridiculous, but it amazes me how quickly gender association happens. Sure, Zo will have tools to play with, and yeah, she likes getting dirty, and has no aversion to bugs whatsoever, but she sure likes to play princess.

That's cool, but I'm drawing the line at ballet.

Friday, April 15, 2011

For The Record...

Record Collection

Music is a relatively personal thing to me. I think it is for most of us. Songs and albums and musicians that we feel belong solely to us even though we know that they don't, help us to levitate our connection to music to an almost religious level...spiritual at least. How we listen to music might be more important than what we listen to. For me, it's such a personal thing that I very often don't share it. It's not uncommon for me to obsess over a song or musician and for June to have no idea. I enjoy music so much more when I'm alone...when I don't have to share it. I like to lean on it, to lose myself in whatever healing it's so much more than capable of doing, and I don't very much like to advertise my affinity for whatever music happens to be healing me at the moment.

I pay for downloads. I steal music. I buy CDs. I buy LPs. I rip music DVDs off of bittorrent sites. I can spend entire nights with YouTube and a bottle or four of beer. Probably your average music fan. The only difference being that I get crunchy if I have to share those experiences. I don't mind tossing the odd playlist out, or talking about a random affection here and there, but mostly I hoard whatever muse I've found in my headphones. It's kind of a funny thing.

There are friends I'd open up to...friends that get it...Dustin, Johnny, Scitter...and I don't mind lobbing an easy one Gerry's direction, or soaking up what my Uncle Dennis has to say about something, but for most part I keep it to myself. We all do whatever it is that we do for different reasons, and of course, I'm no different. I have musical affinities that are certainly unique to me, but I have others that are so commonplace that I'm nearly embarrassed to admit to them. One of the more enduring ones has been vinyl. I inherited my father's collection, and portions of uncles, the tune of several hundred records. I had at one point contemplated abandoning them all and starting over with something that was entirely mine, but a friend convinced me of the madness such thinking was. It's much more than just music now. I have records that belonged to my Father...records that belonged to my Uncle Dennis...records that belonged to June's father, Gerry...records from Netta's Mark...records from friends...records from random family...and records I've gripped tight exiting crowded music stores by myself. It's more a family tree now than a record collection, and I love it.

I've yet to indicate who shall collect them next...when I'm all done with them. I'd hope that it might be Zo, but maybe not. There is no niece or nephew, no little, impressionable funster yet to show a wild and unruly connection to music, and so I cross my fingers and hope that Zoey finds herself in music. Maybe then all these albums that have belonged to those people whose very DNA has helped to make hers, shall find a home other than on the shelves they now rest gently on. It's not a big thing, but it is a pretty personal one.

The list of MUST HAVE record releases tomorrow is frighteningly long, but with a house hunt fully underway, a music room at the forefront of our house tours lends even greater importance to this Record Store Day. April 16th is absolutely one of my favorite days of the year. Find your local independent record store (for us that's Cheeky Monkey in Sarnia) and go give them your money. It's a pretty easy equation. You help to keep independent music stores survive and score an amazeballs music collection.

My list of gotta get Record Store Day Only releases, in no particular order...

Must Haves

So excited...I'm almost embarrassed.

What am I listening to as I type this?

playlist pic

Just for the record (no pun intended) if you're not listening to Ryan Adams, "When The Stars Go Blue," more frequently than not, well, then I just feel kinda bad for you. Similarly, if John Lennon's "Watching The Wheels," isn't in your regular rotation then we need to sit down and talk.

What if we're wrong...

That's a question I've been posing to teachers and administrators, parents, and community activists for the better part of a year now. What if we're wrong? What if the way in which we do everything is potentially missing the mark. What if we don't even know what the mark is anymore?

What the hell are you talking about? This...

Ask yourself that simple question, about everything you thought you believed in.

What if we're wrong?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

House Hunting and Random (Disturbing) Observations


SInce our last house offer fell through (owners pulled out at last second), and since we're committed now more than ever to something awesome, we're not settling for anything less than this kind of place (above). If it doesn't have bookshelves like this, well, we're just not going to consider it. Its a bit of a priority what with June's enormous MAD Magazine collection.

Needless to say, we're still house hunting.

Strangely, while I text June new houses I find, and thoughts I tend to lose...she texts me this kind of ridiculous stuff. Bless her whimsical little heart.

June cell

I think I'd rather be looking at overpriced and underwhelming houses than forty year old men in Edwin overalls. Yikes!

When we win the LottoMax...

ocean view

So when June and I win the LottoMax you might be able to find us here...maybe.

A First Time For Everything...


This is Uncle Ian painting Zoey's finger nails, you know, like no manly man pilot type guy would ever do...except Ian's an Uncle to a fairly adoring niece and so all those hours logged flying a metal contraption high above the earth mean s#!t when confronted with the task of painting an excited little girl's fingernails. Instrument rating my butt, you got polish all over her cuticles Ian...brutal.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Time Flies...

Zed Mom walking
Zedder and Mom...Brooklyn, NY...July 2010

I’d once heard this terribly suspicious bit of information that said people in temperate climates have a greater difficulty in remembering events from their past. The wisdom is that lacking any really obvious and discernable seasons to attach their memories to, they float untethered and eventually drift off into the fog of several decades worth of similar experiences. It sounds plausible, and just might be true, but living here in Southwestern Ontario most of my life I’ve had more than my share of seasonal beacons to strap my memories to. None, however, more sturdy than the aging of this daughter of ours.

Zoey is two years old, with approximately two more months and two more weeks piled on top of that…an impressive span of twos stretching across the page, and I can mark most of my moments from these past two years with an intimate accuracy that trumps anything I might have routinely anchored in a season before. My life has now become partitioned off in Zoey moments rather than complex events or seasons, and it’s stunning how much more aware I am, and have been, these last eight hundred or so days. It’s difficult to slip a memory past me now.

Dad Zed walking
Daddy and Zed...Central Park, NY...March 2011

In California, years are said to pass like weeks. Everything happens in the fog of a perpetual spring. One day you are 23 and single and poor and drunk most of the time and the next day you are 33 and a bit richer but still drunk most of the time. It's difficult to distinguish one stage from the other. However, even in the near perfect weather of California's Central Coast I'd wager a parent could quickly connect the dots that compose their life's most meaningful moments simply by making reference to their child. Parenting, I've learned, is certainly in direct competition with the calendar. Here, resting comfortably atop Southeastern Michigan, we've not only got Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter to lean memories on, we've also got first steps, first words, Zo's first big girl bed, poddy training, and a million other markers to remind us where we are in space and time. California would be nice, but for the time being we're living on Zoey Island anyway. It's a pretty nice place to live.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Growing up, one house offer at a time...

304 front view
The offer's in on 304 Charles St...the white little cottagy bungalow on the right...

We may have just bought a house, which even as I type has me flabbergasted. I mean, we put in an offer, and there's nothing too complex about it. There's one other offer with about a billion provisions attached to it, including the sale of another home. Our offer, however, just requires a home inspection, that's suppose we wait and see what happens. We don't really know what we're doing here. We could be buying plutonium and be just as knowledgeable.

This feels strange...but awkwardly nice. Kinda like the first time a girls boob brushed up against my arm in the sixth grade.

If the deal goes through we'll be falling asleep to the sound of bellowing lake and ocean freighters passing by. It would be exactly 900 metres to find yourself standing directly under the Bluewater Bridge, chilling by the St.Clair River. Hop on your bicycle and pedal north a few blocks and your toes could be buried in the sand on the beach at Canatara Park, 200 acres of awesome, and not even a kilometre away (probably between half and three quarters of a mile for you 'Muricans) from the front steps of this very humble abode.

304 Charles St. Map 2

It's nothing crazy...probably not much over 1100 square feet on the main floor, with an unfinished and oddly shaped basement, about half that size. There are ten foot high ceilings and an absolutely mind twisting openness to the place. It needs about 50 yards of fence in the back yard, and the hidden back half of the house wasn't shingled with the front, and really should have been, but the surface area is no larger than the roof on a garage, and a simple single peak, so not too much to get worried about. It'll very likely need a new furnace in the next few years, but to our surprise, that's not as big of a whoop as we had imagined. So it fits our criteria of absolutely livable, with some reno needs that aren't absolutely urgent, and the potential price may be absolutely right. You'd make sick if I told you. Sorry...I just wanted to use the term "make sick"...but you probably would.

It's old, and from the outside looks much more like a cottage than a bungalow, but the interior is nicely put together (here's a rough layout) and doesn't look anything like any cottage I've ever seen (monstrous gas fireplace, obscenely high ceilings, etc...). We'd have to patch together a Grandma room, since the three bedrooms it was listed as is really two, but there's the potential for a room in the unfinished basement, and there is ample room in the giant living areas to section off something informal with bookshelves etc...It's nice, and we kind of spat out a subdued, "Wow," the minute we walked into the place. Impressively humble we'll call it.

Living room (view from the middle room towards the front of the house/entrance)
The front living area, front door, and body disposal sized gas fireplace.

Here's a link to a Flickr photo set with more pics of the place...crappy iPhone pics, but more pics nevertheless.

It's in a cool little community, ridiculously close to a good elementary school, with quick access to the highway, and the twin bridges that we need to cross to get over to Meechigan, and to those Tiger and Wolverine games we waste our time with. There are parks a plenty, and two large marinas each no less than two minutes away...maybe time to start saving for a boat? I can get an anchor tattoo and June would surely look cute with an eye patch. Okay, maybe not, but maybe some Sperry's, a wicked tan, and some wind swept hair? Zo could practice falling off boats, and we could keep Gravol in business.

I think we're getting ahead of ourselves. Maybe we should just wait for an answer before we start swabbing decks and building fences? Probably.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Opening Day That Wasn't


It's Opening Day in Detroit and I should be there. A friend passed away a few days ago and there's yet another funeral to find myself at instead of being down on Woodward, but I couldn't really miss Dion's big day. He will, however, get a cold earful about his awful timing.

Dion was a different guy. He certainly had his demons, but dead and gone before 40 wasn't what I'd have ever expected from the scrappy little forward with the powerful stride. Dion was a caricature of himself on most occasions but never on the ice. On the ice Dion was exactly the guy he was supposed to be, and in the middle of a hockey game you had the most honest relationship with him that you might ever have. Dion was himself with skates on. I think he struggled with finding himself without them on. I know he did.

So no Opening Day...maybe next year. Today I'm going to say goodbye to Dion.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Poddy Like a Rock Star

Tonight Zoey told me that she wanted to use the poddy to pee. She was sitting in my lap, wrapped in a towel,having just exited the bath. She warned me that if I didn't let her go she was going to pee on my lap. That's what she said. Then she ran for the crapper and peed on her poddy. No cue, no coaxing, just a warning to Dad that if he didn't want wet pants he'd better let her get to it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Quiet Place to Play...

Zoey Baachan whisper

Zedder has grown accustomed to spending at least one night each week at Baachan and Grandad's house. Sometimes our schedules don't match, and so she occasionally misses the chance to inspire astonishment in her grandparents, but typically Zo steals away her grandparents attention on a weekly basis. It's nice because we get to hear about Zoey's growth and development from a fresh perspective, and the changes that happen so gradually, and even subtly, that we often don't notice them find more than attentive measurement under Grandad and Baachan's watch.

Often by the time we arrive to pick Zoey up and head home she has put into practice new words, expressed new ideas and found new and interesting curiosities...all things that she would not have the chance to collect were she to stay home every weekend. We feel it's important that she find multiple influences and learn to navigate multiple expectations and so the trip to Baachan and Grandad's is much more than respite for us, or Zo time for her grandparents, it's an important chance to develop without our influence. Someday her Mom and Dad won't be around to straighten her crooked paths, and it will be then that we'll be confident of her ability to adapt and adjust. It's not just fun time at Baachan and Grandad''s a chance to grow up much more independently, and much more Baachan loves it more than breathing.

Six Degrees of Smoke On This Sunday Morning


I woke up and wandered recklessly into the dark realm of post-grad education wearing nothing but my underwear and a batting helmet...and I sliced and diced my way through two assignments and then wheeled a karate chop followed by a deathly accurate roundhouse kick to the midsection of my final...all the while screaming, "Heeeyaaaah!" Thumbs tucked into the waistband of my excessively large Ralph Lauren Outlet sleeping boxers, I proudly walked the creaking hardwood of my rental home with an air of confidence bordering on arrogance afterward. It's not every day that you wake up, slay six or seven dragons, and only then consider showering. I haven't even eaten yet. Despite what Mick Jaggar says, sometimes you can get exactly what you want when you want it.

I did today. Consider it a victory for all of humankind.

Now go enjoy your day while I wait for Sunday Night Baseball to ease me out of this impressively good humored assassin's mood. I wouldn't get too close to my hands or feet between now and then...or my lucid and dangerously limber mind. As of 11:20 this morning I am a deadly force to be reckoned with.

Now I'll grab a coffee, a mild one perhaps, and go get my daughter. Don't mess with the bull Mr. Professor just might get a random You, Me, and Dupree, movie reference and an even more random blog post, that is, in addition to the PERFECT score on my exam.

Heeeeyaaaah! Child's play...child's play.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cut and Paste...and Daydream


It's the rooftops above Wrigley where I'll be watching the Cubs and Dodgers with friends in April, and I'm giggly as a schoolgirl. You can do it too. Get more info here.

This article is both insightful and funny enough to make you pee in your pants a little.

I can't stop listening to this friggin' song...I'm in serious trouble of spending $9.99 and falling away from the rest of the planet socially whilst I enjoy my new Middle Brother music alone and smiling.

Next tattoo? Unless this wiggles it's way in first.

I just ordered this guy's jersey...pretty psyched to open that package.

Holy Mother of Magglio, this thing would make me much more inclined to tinker with tools of my own. It's not even $7,000 USD...I could sell all of my hockey cards and maybe buy one of these stunning ladies.

This looks like a nice way to spend a Saturday night.

If I've never linked you here, I'm sorry. This might be my dream escape from planet ridiculous. Someday...someday. With friends and family we could book up the whole enchilada. Yes? Maybe? No? Someday...

How 'bout this place then?