Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's not an equation...

I woke up to this email from my new Doctor friend (and oddly sounding, colleague) at Duke. It made my barely-began day.


You claim to find it difficult to explain what you do, and to find any kind of professional validity amongst peers in the work that you do, and yet you still do it. I found this and am passing it along for you to watch. You should no longer have any difficulties explaining things to anyone. THIS is what you do. THIS is why I approached you.

Simon Sinek on Authenticity


I replied to Jeff that Simon Sinek's thirty minute diatribe on authenticity and trust was going to be hard to put on a business card, but that I was thrilled to see it, happy to be linked to such a notion, and seeing things differently because if it. I thanked him.

Now...articulate Simon's ideas into a meaningful communication with the world around me and I'll have something. No, wait...I already am, every day. That's the point. Oh, that Jeff's a smart guy.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Dreams are made of this...

Mt Kenya

Camp Zed got chaotic today. A phone call from a co-worker with a kid in bad shape called and so I went. June missed part of her morning at work watching Zo, then almost got locked out of the house because our back door sucks junk...All that and I got asked to go to Africa.


That's right. There's a group climbing Mt. Kenya in February 2013, they are led by a few experienced mountaineers (several just summited Everest this past Spring) and dragging along 16-20 young people and support staff with them. It's a life changing endeavor dreamed up by a couple of big dreaming, life changing dudes, and my friend Joe just dragged me into the fray for a meeting next week with the organizer. Apparently my name has been firmly connected to the project, especially with my rapport with many of the potential young people involved, and my so-called "dubious leadership skills," and so Joe was given the charge of dragging this agent back onto the reservation, in FBI-speak, to contribute.


I used to talk about this stuff like it was my next big thing, but living tends to get in the way of dreaming, and I never got to Africa. Never saw a sunrise from above the clouds, and never found myself dangling from a dream. I remember leaving a press box behind and dabbling in this world for a short time after I left U of M but I got tired of sleeping in sleeping bags on floors and wandered back to reality. It was okay to dabble in dreams but until you're living one already, it's tough for others to materialize. Now I'm doing what maybe, or at least what it seems, I was supposed to be doing all along...I'm good at it...I have an unbridled commitment and passion for it...and now the dream finds me. If you don't believe in synchronicity and the energy of getting back what you put in, well, you're a fool.


And people wondered why all the anxiety, why the stress and all that fumbling through this most recent part of my life. This was why. These were the kind of stakes that I was playing for. I knew that I was sitting at the high roller table, despite other people's insistence that things were cool, they were not. They were tenuous. They were weighty with the fat of failure and opportunity. There were possibilities dangling like carrots, and I saw them. I knew that they were there and the thought of not being able to reach them was excruciating.

Africa. Unless something goes very, very wrong, I'm going to climb a mountain in Africa doing exactly what I want oh-so desperately to be doing with my life. I have a feeling that it's a lot easier to change a life with a mountain involved. Stay tuned, I'll be able to answer that question in approx. a year and a half.

The dreams are drifting through these days like Marin fog.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Distracted By Awesomeness

This is what is pulsing through the speakers closest to my happy head these hot, humid days...Maybe you could suggest something else to distract by completely unfettered head?

Sean Hayes is brilliant...occasionally NSFW but brilliant.

Adele just sounds so damn good. SO damn good.

Kalai has to translate to good in some other language...has to.

Been waiting forever for this new record.

I wet my pants when I saw this. Seriously.

The best sunny day with your girl on your mind highway driving song ever.

Sounds like a buddy's band and I love it.

Matt the Electrician...enough said.

Zoey's favorite, favorite, favorite song.

Sigh...wish they were never discovered by the masses. They're too damn good for radio.

A Breathtaking Story of Devotion

I owe a small apology to Netta & Mark. I missed nearly a two hour chunk of their wedding day. I missed dinner, and most of the speeches aside from their own. I snuck off just before dinner to help a tired little girl rest, nap if we were lucky, and she did. I had intentions of putting her down, ushering in sleep, and quietly retreating back into the wedding fray of guests, family and friends, but that's not how it worked. The little girl fell asleep on my chest while reading our second Robert Munsch book, and I couldn't bring myself to put her down.

I thought of the wedding going on downstairs, of your Mom and Dad both beaming with pride and sweating the effort of it all, and I looked down at my daughter and found giant tears in my eyes. Someday she would do just as you had done earlier that day, and she would never in a million heavy hearted days remember sleeping in her father's arms that afternoon. It would slip past in the stream of memories that would rush past her on her hurried way through living and loving. After a few minutes I couldn't have managed to make it back downstairs with any coaxing. Zoey was sleeping in my lap and how could I be sure how many more of those moments I was to have before it was my daughter wearing white, and me saying goodbye.

She slept with her back to my chest, sitting on my lap, her head tipped to the side and resting on the inside of my arm and shoulder. From where her head fell I could see the beauty mark on her cheek, and I brushed away the blonde curls from her forehead as her hair fell across her eyes and crowded her face. Her eyelashes were so long. Her skin so fair and her mother's lips pouted ever so slightly. She would never again sleep through a wedding with only Robert Munsch and her Dad to keep her company. I might remember those hours as brightly lit as any in my life, but even as I feel that I owe you and everyone in attendance an apology, I wasn't trading my moment for yours, not for a million dollars. I couldn't even close my own eyes for fear I would sleep myself and it would all disappear. If I've learned anything about living after all these years it's that owning moments is less selfish than wise. They fall away far too fast. So as you were celebrating the biggest thing to ever happen in your life, so was I. Mine just had a far smaller audience and dinner would have to wait.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Smarty Pants...

"Whoa Zoey, Mom blurted, you're good at going down the stairs now."

That's because my legs are getting long," replied Zo.

Indeed, they are.

A New Favorite

Hiccup and Toothless

Zoey's become, almost instantly, completely enamored with How To Train Your Dragon." It's just about the cutest thing ever. I've taken to calling her Hiccup, after the main character of the film, and she smiles with approval. If you haven't taken the time to settle in and watch the movie yet, get on your dragon and do it. It's practically perfect.

Now I have to go and entertain a two and a half year old that just wandered into my bedroom, a little disoriented with tired eyes and a goofy smile.

"Daddy, can we watch How To Train Your Dragon? (that's exactly how she said it)

Sure we can. It doesn't always have to be me doing the entertaining here at Camp Zed.

Monday, July 25, 2011

One Year Ago Today...

Fairway Zo

One year ago today we were living in Brooklyn, and rolling through the Fairway Market in Red Hook. We were busy collecting as much goodness as possible in the short time we had to move our car for street cleaning and get back up to Carroll Gardens to score a parking spot close to our apartment. Zed was just a year and a half old, and we were just about the happiest people on the planet.

I'd sell my brothers left pinkie toe for another summer in Brooklyn...or even just a quick trip to the Fairway. Who needs a pinkie toe?

Sunday, July 24, 2011


At some point yesterday, while Aunt Netta was saying "I do," or while Mihoko was simultaneously managing a pedicure and rolling sushi, or perhaps while Gerry was sweating through making his second place pride and joy (behind his children) look primped and prepared as a waterfront could be, The Zoey Blog hit 100,000 visitors. Kinda monumental.

Zoey Sakura is two and half years old, and this blog is just a few months older than that. I don't know how I'll ever prune it down to something we could ever print in a book, but we'll try. After yesterday it became remarkably clear that this blog has turned into something a lot bigger and a lot more profound than just a trail of our memories. It's drawn in friends, new and's served as an outlet, a therapist, a tool to shape the people that we are. It's communicated with family across oceans and friends equally distant. It's reminded us of many of the things that a lot of us forget, and it's something I'm very, very proud of. I might not be able to build you a deck, but I can certainly build us a destination to which we all might aspire to find some hope and happiness. The Zoey Blog has become exactly that, the kind of place where people (including myself) go to escape the insincerities of the world that surrounds them. Our own individual Margaritaville without all that tequila and lime. I don't know what I'd be doing without all of the sunshine it shines in my life. It illuminates almost everything.

100,000 visitors. It's kinda hard to believe.

Wow. Thanks. We're a little speechless.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Aunt Netta's getting married... ご結婚おめでとうございます.

Netta Mark Harbour

Netta has a backyard wedding today. It will be busy, and Zoey's very excited. I'm preparing for a day of Zoey on display, you know, one of those fairly high maintenance days where a little girl gets a lot of attention, so you have to kind of sit back and let that happen, because it's gonna happen, but then be ready to swoop in because nobody's really paying 100% attention, as conversations ebb and flow and people come and go...and although she'll be a popular party favor, she'll still be just a two and a half year old that really deceives people with all her volcano and tornado talk.

June will be very busy. Grandad and Baachan will be very busy, and Aunt Netta will obviously be kinda tied up. Zo will be passed around like a tray of drinks and since Dad's the only one without a specific wedding task or responsibility, I am charged with keeping the Zed from disappearing into the neighbors yard, tripping down stairs, getting sunburnt, forgetting to eat, falling into the creek, changing diapers, and assessing the need for a nap. It's a vital role, and I'm looking forward to it, but it's gonna be beyond a busy day.

Zoey will be excited to see her Aunt Netta in a wedding dress, and she'll be excited to be all gussied up herself, just like Mummy. She'll be excited to help with things in any way that she can, and she'll very likely be a tiny little obstacle on occasion, but she'll be staring up at an Aunt, a Grandma, her Mum, and a host of other big girls and make no mistake about it, these are the moments that she will use to filter her ideas of how a marriage begins, so in that regard, it is no small day even for this small girl. These are the first, and perhaps lasting, notions of what she perceives big girls do. They grow up and get married, just like the princesses in her books. These things just deflect off of little boys armor, but girls are porous in these emotional moments. Girls pay attention.

Good luck Aunt Netta. Someone is watching.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Night Music...

Holy mother of mad good music...I've decided that if you're not listening to Suzanna Choffel then you're obviously disturbed. That's some catchy stuff boy. More for you right here.

Since I've got nothing to do this Friday night but prepare myself for a backyard wedding with a little girl who will surely wear me the #$%& out, and since I'm neglecting some very important school work to listen to good music and drink better beer, well, I might as well share all of my musical distractions with my friends...which sadly is you. I know, I know...loser. Get some real in-person friends to drink beer and listen to music with. I have some. It's just that they're all at the Hillside Festival and I'm not.

Here's some more musical goodness to spend your empty Friday night with...

Not exactly safe to play in front of kids or co-workers, but excellent for your own listening pleasure.

This song sounds like it fell out of 1949 Harlem. It didn't.

If this doesn't make you melt then you're made of marble.

Being Afeared Ain't Fun...Just Ask Me

I have big plans for next know, post-Aunt Netta's backyard wedding of uncertain culinary ordeals (somewhat major catering issues with an arrogant customer service/naive caterer who is obviously clueless at the unrivaled power of social media to ruin his business post-wedding)...I have every intention of taking charge of those parts of my life that can most often frustrate me, or that leave me feeling essentially victimized, which is what food often does. Kitchens are essentially kryptonite to me. I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know where things are. I am adept at only the most laughable creations. I don't know what the $%#! cider vinegar is for, or what the damn difference is between a shallot and a regular old onion. I hate it in there.

Not after this week.

There's more to it than just a selfish urge to rid myself of nonsensical fears, I also want the effort to impact Zed. Right now our daughter is a pretty good eater. She eats well, but cautiously, completely unlike her good friend Elle, who devours an impressive amount of varied and different foods. Zo likes rice, no...loves rice. She eats eggs, and french toast, and loves plain noodles. She likes peanut butter toast, and usually has no issues with meat. She's cool with broccoli and cauliflower, cooked carrots, and a vast array of fruits. The problem is that she has yet to melt into our dinner plans. She almost always has some variance to what is on our plates, and that may very well be normal, but I'd like for her to tackle what we tackle...exactly what we tackle, and to step out on a limb and try a few more things. This coming week we're gonna make the kitchen a better place for both of us.

We're going to shop together. We're going to cook together. We're going to try new things together. We're going to kick the kitchen's proverbial ass. I'm not even editing that last part. That's how heinous my relationship has been with the kitchen until now.

Often, with June working and not getting home until late, I've been left to either feed Zo (no problem), prep some basic dinner supplies (no problem), cook something simple (again, no problem), or wait until Mummy gets home if we wanted to eat something really good, or achieve more than just meeting our basic nutritional needs at the dinner table. No more. I don't necessarily like eating at 7pm, and I loathe not feeling capable enough to whip up something more adventurous than spaghetti, burgers, breakfast for supper, or whatever grilling I can swing into the routine. I want to be good at filling our faces with good stuff, and I want Zo to like jamming good stuff down her face as well. So this week it's on. Beware kitchen. You're going to see a Brian that you've never seen before. I'm going to be patient. I'm going to be organized. I'm going to be savvy, or as savvy as I can manage with a two year old helping me with the cooking, and I'm going to beat this aversion to the oven.

I can guarantee you several things...

The food will, in large part, be simple.

Zoey will have had at the very least a role in selecting the groceries (with heavy influence, nay, Orwellian supervision).

June will be surprised, both pleasantly, and also in a manner that might challenge her well developed sense of decency.

There you have it. My unlikely conversion to domestic b!%#h is in full upward spiral.

The Tao of Cheese

I just read this homemade cheese post over at Cup of Jo that got me curious, so I dove in and discovered that Urban Cheesecraft in Portland, OR is pretty cool...beyond pretty cool. I wanna do that. I wanna fiddle-screw around in a shaded, cool kitchen and end up with one of the those perfectly amazing little mozzarella balls that run you $5 at the grocery. That'd be impressive.

"Whatcha doin'?

"Uh, makin' my own cheese."

"What! Awesome!"

"I know."

Check it out. I don't care who you are, outlaw biker, two fingered welder, emasculated theater prop builder...making your own cheese is cool as $#%t. On another note. The whole process demands that you be there paying attention, you know, fully present knuckle deep in the cheese, so to speak. That sounded kinda gross. You get the idea though. Rough day, long confusing series of very unfortunate events has you frazzled rotten? Make some cheese and chill out.

I watched the recent Russell Brand film, Arthur last night (brilliantly stupid with a side order of hilarious) and there's a scene in which he hires out the entirety of Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan for a first date. In the middle of what is a strange but lovely date he begs that they fly off to Spain and with cell phone in hand is even eager to charter a plane that instant. His creepingly attractive date (by movies end you'd marry her yourself) reminds him that he's rented all of Grand Central Terminal for 45 minutes in the middle of a busy evening and that, perhaps, they should just sit there and soak it all in, enjoy the beautiful fiasco that such an enterprise might be. I bet you never thought you'd wring a profound life lesson out of a Russell Brand acting job did you? I didn't.

I think we all just need to stop and look around much more than once in awhile. It helps a humbling heap to slow down in life and appreciate what you've got. I've got a perfectly amazing wife, and a startlingly beautiful and intelligent child, and yet I can still manage to get embarrassingly flustered over having to repeat myself, as though perhaps, I'm too busy to have to utter the same words twice. By the way this awkward cheese and Russell Brand post is a strange sort of non-verbal apology to my tolerant wife whom I neglected to apologize to in-person for being such a momentary twit to last night. See, occasionally, and especially with us short-sighted, quick tempered men-types, we'd be better served by making our own cheese. I'm talking the edible kind, rather than attempting to use cheese as a euphemism for humility or pride etc...We'd be better off just staying there in Grand Central Terminal and enjoying the quiet solitude, and acrobats, of course. Sometimes we need a little help to really be present in something, and so why not cheese?

There you have it. Cool post about a cool discovery, with a bloody insufficient apology throw in. Happy Friday.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Camp Zed is an awfully artsy-fartsy place at times...

Paper Boat

Daddy has stumbled upon his childhood this summer, not that he ever, in fact, lost it. If there's anything that I've been accused of of that I'll take full responsibility for it's an overindulgent childish streak...perhaps a fairly rabid imagination, and something far beyond your average amount of creativity, at least in terms of my particular gender. I'll own those traits with a boastful kind of pride, no question. They don't help much in the oh-so weighty world of adult inventions, but they're nice to settle down with and heal your wounds, maybe regain some faith in the universe.

So when I wanted to make a boat, we made a awesome boat. It won't float, see, it's only made from a brown paper bag, some old disposable chopsticks, string, and a wee bit of scotch tape, but it looks pretty good, and it's excellent for inspiring daydreams and the like. It was an easy build, and I think I've just sparked a new interest in building boats...little boats.

Don't throw out a paper bag or stitch of cardboard around this twisted, regressing mind. It very well could be the next America's Cup winner, the Empire State Building, or a sweet, sweet subway car. I'm awfully proud of this boat. I might not be building sheds in my backyard, and I'd be hard pressed to put up new cupboards in our kitchen, but by God I can kick the $#%& out of arts & crafts time.

Draft Dodgers and Hiccups

Battling a bout of hiccups le Zed was having a difficult time falling asleep. Her Dad was laying right beside her trying to help said munchkin catch some afternoon winks and could feel the torso seizing hiccups in his own chest. They quietly sat up and crept to the bathroom for a drink of water. As Dad pleaded nearly a whole glass of water down Zo's throat she sighed an enormous sigh and smiled.

"They're all gone Daddy," she said.

"Are they?" He asked curiously. "I wonder where they went?"

"I dunno," she replied and then paused, "I think maybe they went to Canada," she added.

Canada huh? The true north, strong and haven for draft dodgers and more recently, hiccups.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A New Definition For an Old Idea...

I just read a story in which a young woman described her father as, "spectacular in both success and failure," and now I want to be just that. Shouldn't we all? What a brilliant depiction of the kind of man that we all should want to be for our children and spouses.

It suggests fearlessness, or at least, a willingness to be frightened. I think perhaps the term "fearless" is overused and maybe even a little misleading. Fearlessness translates loosely into stupid, whereas a willingness to be frightened looks an awful lot closer to what should be our image. I'd like to think that although I scare easy I'm also relatively uninhibited by the notion of flinging myself into the flames. I might not be much of a pretty picture before I leap, but I regularly swan dive into the unknown without so much as a knife between my teeth.

Spectacular in both success and failure. It's incredible really, isn't it? I have a difficult time accepting compliments, even timely, justified or hard earned ones, I just don't do it well. I shrug them off, disbelieve the meat of them, occasionally dismiss them as disingenuous...I don't know why I do that. This one, however, I would love to hang above my mantle and show the world. Spectacular in both success and failure. I love it.

Do you take risks? I suppose do, although I rarely quantify them as risks so they hardly count as that in my own mind. I try to go out and grab the things that I want, and quickly discern whether I even really want them or not, and then enjoy the heck out of them until, like a well chewed piece of chewing gum, the flavor's all gone and there's really no use in all that jaw tiring chomping anymore. I'm fairly calculated in that I don't often take chances on ridiculous things, but I lead with my gut, and I am drawn this way and that by emotion, and it hasn't failed me yet. I might find myself muddy and looking less like the man I or anyone else might recognize for a brief moment, but then I quickly get back to being the person that makes me most comfortable.

I take risks, but maybe I'm most proud that I don't define myself by those typical definitions of failure or success as others might. I've learned that failing is a good thing...a humbling, perspective shaking, priority re-defining endeavor that grows your shadow and legacy more rapidly than most successes. Getting knocked down and then getting back up is a whole lot more character defining then having never fell in the first place. Should the whole thing unsettle you? Sure it should, or you might need shock therapy, but the fact that your alive enough to know when something feels unsettling and should feel unsettling is a spectacular thing, a much more impressive thing than simply recognizing yourself in success.

I want my daughter to watch me fail, and then to catch me dusting myself off, perhaps even drying my eyes. I want her to be able to ask me questions about that, and for me to be able to answer them with the spectacular kind of answers that she deserves, so that she's never known what a man can't be, only what he should be. That would be spectacular.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I'm Bleeding An Impossible Fountain of Shock and Awe

I just saw a $50 tank top. I swear the world is falling apart at the seams. Then I saw this nonsense and nearly felt my heart stop beating in my chest. Hypothetically, if you were to spend $40 US dollars on this I’d punch you in the face. Hypothetically. Have we all gone insane? I mean, I get $200 for a pair of sneakers. I can get down with that, I mean, they’re sneakers, they required some serious R&D to hit the market and find themselves on the feet of professional athletes etc…and I understand the concept of ridiculously overpriced real estate. It’s real estate. Even Scarlett O’Hara knew the value of land. What I can’t comprehend is the audacity of commerce at every imaginable level. Forty dollars for a painting of the twin towers, Jesus and a rainbow. Am I on drugs right now. I don’t remember taking drugs.

First my side hurt from laughing, and then I went and got offended, and then I started typing. Oh, silly world. Your paralyzingly funny. Next you're gonna tell me that Bob Dylan is still touring even though he sounds like the pitiful muffled sound of your neighbor puking through a half clogged stoma and into his own bushes at three o'clock in the morning. What do you think I am, stupid?

Heat Stroke or Awkwardly Timed Philosophical Enlightenment?

Soccer 3

Today I watched a dozen young girls play soccer in the oppressive heat of mid-day, laughing, screaming, running, chasing down dreams, and I sat there sweating and watched as Zoey wandered closer and closer, enthralled by the big girls doing what looked to both of us like something enormously fun. I smiled widely. Someday this will be Zed, maybe, hopefully. I was struck quickly curious by my sudden urge for Zoey to be something of an athlete as she grows. Where did that come from, that urge? Why is it so important to me, to anyone? The idea oiled the machinings inside of me that ask the air such answerless questions all the time. The kind of questions that are typically rewarded with no resolution of any kind.

Of course, the obvious answer is because you yourself laughed, screamed, ran, and chased down dreams, but that's not what fuels these deep, desperate desires for someone who just may have markedly different dreams than your own. I started to wonder what sports were for in the first place? I thought of my nephew Reece, and his rapid development into a pretty impressive, and oft times dangerous, lacrosse player. He's ten years old and just beginning to learn the subtleties of his body in space, how to use what a decade and genetics have given him, and how that interacts with the same discoveries amongst his peers. He's not a little boy playing lacrosse anymore. He's a lacrosse player. I get such strange joy from watching him play, from watching his father and an old, good friend, coach him into this thing that is no longer just a young boy trying to understand his connection to a game, but rather a young man oddly becoming defined by that game. He is a lacrosse player, but is he? Isn't he just a kid playing a game? I don't understand it, but I tried terribly hard to this afternoon as I watched twelve young women run, scream, laugh and dream.

What began as a simple question began and ended in the time it took for those young women to back and forth their way to the end of the game under that hot July sun. It started and ended all while I was standing there and I thought, this is it, this is our mythology, the awkward and inspiring compression of everything that we are. This is how some of us make meaning, by asking the kinds of questions of ourselves and others that only soccer pitches and lacrosse fields and floors can answer. What's at stake? What does it mean to win? What does it mean to lose? How good are they? How good are we? Is there such a thing as fate? Is there such a thing as destiny? As luck? Is there such a thing as God, and is God on our side? Or theirs? Either way, how can that be?

I think, how can chance embrace any kind of strategy? How can we attribute so much weight to something so seemingly weightless? What is luck? Where does it go when it leaves? Why does it affix itself to people or places, and how can it be with you for one moment and against you in the next? Exactly what is it that happens when we win, or what is it when we lose? Does it even matter? Did someone win? Or did someone else lose? Can something so arbitrary be considered yours or mine, exclusively? Is this really something that we need to be talking about? How can we possibly feel as though we have any control over the intersection of twelve people, over the impossible vagaries of a playing surface, of a bounce?

So what's the lesson in all of this effort? Patience? Persistence? Commitment? Love? Dominance? Ego? Eat your vegetables? What terrible flood of cliché do all of these games, do all of these athletes unleash? Because at the end of it all, there's no answer. There's only that brushstroke of random human order that paints us all, and a long unanswerable pile of questions that lead back to standing in a park watching girls play soccer, laughing, screaming, running, and chasing down dreams, or of watching ten year old boys doing very much the same. I suppose it crumbles down to the notion that everything human begins somewhere and ends somewhere and in between is our unlikely, and impossible joy and sorrow. In between is crammed full of unanswerable questions. What are sports for? Why do I hope Zo plays, and laughs, screams, runs, and chases down her dreams? It's this. It's exactly this...this humbling question that stirs something so seamless in us as a thought, or a smile? It's not because of what the game did for us. It's because of what we hope it does for them. It's a metaphor for something, probably a lot of things, but maybe at it's most elemental it not a metaphor for anything. It's just living. It's just filling that in-between with questions that we'll never figure out.

Today I watched a dozen young girls playing soccer and I nearly swooned with the desire to watch my own daughter do the figure it all out... for herself, with her own body, and her own joys and disappointments, with her own ideas, and understandings and mis-understandings. That's what it's all for I suppose. It's to remind us that in the end we can find our own meaning, our own joy, and the oil for our own inner machinings with something as simple as a ball.

I hope she chooses to play, and I hope that she finds answers to some of the questions that it all poses, but mostly I hope she just gets to laugh, scream, run, and dream.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tendonitis = Linkapalooza

An awful case of what seems to be tendonitis in my ankle means I'm not doing much besides surfing the internets....which translates into a ridiculous number of links! Here's you go.

Sometimes I feel like this.

I'd like to buy this wallet emptier but prefer to have a more crowded wallet.

Not worth $15 unless you consider the value of carrying Steve Zissou with you everywhere. Then its kinda priceless.

Pretty stellar lyric.

It's quite possible that we don't use the word lovely enough.

Thank you Matt Zoller Seitz. This is incredible!

Holy Mother of Munchkins I'd like to have these banners for my house!

I want this.

When I was a kid I was a forest wanderer. It's amazing how I never got lost. The deeper and denser the forest grew the more curious and adventurous I got. If I'd have found this I'd have never made it home for supper. I'd have stayed 'til dark.

Make sure you've got room on your credit card if you're gonna hang out here.

So how come I don't know the Guiffrida family? This looks like fun. These people know how to have a good time I think.

This is how I'd like to spend next summer. I'd linger here though.

I'd like to have a neon sign just like this in my house...just to keep my head on straight.

I'd like to have this cool photo by stellar photographer, Ramiro Chavez, framed and hanging on my wall thank you very much.

Buy this for me and I'm your friend forever. Seriously.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fear and Loathing in Durham, North Carolina

I was attending a Duke University Continuing Education whatchamacallit today, part of a National Symposium on Trauma, when the most unexpected thing happened. After a full day of group and individual work, the telling of our own stories, beliefs, and roles, and of unintentionally pulling in an audience of peers, I found myself centered out by the presenting physician and administered a sound chunk of praise and admiration. Our subsequent, and lengthy conversation (the first of it's kind for me and a Duke alumni), filled me with pride and purpose. I came to the training to learn more, and I left feeling quite certain of a good many bits of knowledge that I already possessed. The good doctor asked me if I'd be interested in helping them with a study, that is, if my employer would allow it. The study has a complex explanation, needless to say, but involves school age adolescents and flips and flops around grief, trauma recovery, and addiction. Sounds fun doesn't it? As much fun as it probably doesn't sound, the work and it's affiliation with Duke's School of Social Blah be blah is at least as much esteemed as it is astonishingly not fun (which I don't believe it to be in the very least). Eventually I accepted the offer, with a firm handshake (and the knowledge that I hadn't signed a damned thing), and will be arriving at the practitioner's assembly tomorrow morning with what is surely the look of envy on the faces of my peers, and an awkward hesitation about where all of this fits in the make up of me. Don't ask me how exactly I got centered out for this opportunity. I don't fully understand. The task is for me to somehow try to comprehend that once again (please don't say I told you so June) I am regarded as something I feel very strongly that I am not, which is far beyond competent and experienced, and it is my weighty and unfamiliar task to learn how to enjoy the honor and opportunity. I'm not so good at that.

Duke...really? What will I tell Aimee? I actually kind of loathe Duke. Apparently now I'd better learn to curb that heinous sentiment. It really seems quite surreal.

Before I accepted the chance, I must have looked equal parts skeptical, fearful, confused, and/or all of those things, and when I explained my perspectives about what it is that I do, and summarized them with a bold statement about not being sure that I wanted to become all of this...that I was very comfortable doing rather than fully understanding...with a little bit of bullshit about the integrity of ignorance, the good Doctor pulled me aside gently and said what is nearly the most profound thing I've ever had uttered to me. He said, "Brian, understanding will give you the will to do what you don't think you can, and I think that somehow you believe that there is a lot that you can't do." Then he fell silent and waited for my least I think he was waiting for my reaction. Uhmm, wow. He then continued in a certain effort to abate my silence (and I'm working my ass off to paraphrase accurately), " You put your soul on the line for the young people that you work with and care for, and make no mistake about it, you care for them. Why? Why do you do that?" I didn't have an answer. I hate professors.

"Hiding behind your fears of being something that you don't believe you're capable of being, he gently chastised, "isn't honoring that, it isn't helping the people that you're working with, and it isn't doing justice to the perspectives that you've shared today."

I found Jeff shortly after the day was all wrapped up and only a few people left lingering, I vigorously shook his hand, and said, "I'd love to get involved." He smiled and said, "I already emailed my coworkers about you. You're already in."

Wow...what a day. I think I'm starting to like Duke. Sorry Aim.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I'm turning 40 this year...


This is how I will spending my birthday this year, just so you know. I'll be rotting away in San Clemente, CA for as many days as I can negotiate, no less than two weeks, and will very likely miss Christmas here in snow laden Canada. You are cordially invited, but don't get upset with me when you are forever ruined for any other place on the planet. At least you'll know exactly where to to find me when I win the lottery. San-O every morning, Dukes for a lunchtime pint, cruising the Pacific Coast Hwy most afternoons, then the San Clemente Pizza Port in the evenings. It'll be a blistering schedule but someone has to manage it. I'm volunteering. How 'bout you?

A Mom With Dude Parts

Stay-at-home Daddydom is perhaps the best trick in the book for self-esteem. Don't think you're very organized? Slap a day or sixty of 'em together with a two and half year old. You might surprise yourself. Not sure if you're capable of juggling thirteen things at once and getting them all done, better than half-arsed I might add? Wake up and drag your funster around with you all day and see how you manage. Again, you might be in for a pleasant surprise.

I know that I can juggle a lot. My work days remind me of that...and I'm aware that I have varying degrees of patience, a scale that's actually quite ridiculous...from profound to embarrassing, but I rarely give myself any credit for the good stuff. This Camp Zed deal...quite proud of the management of it all (save those dirty dishes, I still rarely touch the dirty dishes). We keep a pretty good schedule. We're terribly creative. We're on top of meals and snacks...on top of sunscreen and extra this and thats packed. We're stellar with naps. The house is clean when June gets home. I'm typically ailing in some way, shape or form while doing all of this...back out of whack...achilles heal buggered...etc...but we manage. It's not that we manage that surprises me though, it's just what we manage that has me beaming with pride.

Take today for example...

I woke when June was leaving for work...6:45am. Homework 'til 7:40am. Shower, shave, dress. Put breakfast together for easy access. Wake Zed at 8:00 or so (don't make any comments about the the time, that's all planned and a direct result of our choices, and situation. If your child is up at 5am it's very likely they have to be, or they are because they went to bed at 6pm, and/or you've conditioned them to be. Not my deal, it's yours. Zed will be up earlier when our situation demands it). Slather her with affection, clean her up, dress her up, head downstairs. Easy peasy breakfast already laid out. Daddy's Hair Salon in full effect (I'm wicked good BTW). Bags are already packed 'cause they always are. Go, go, go...Ridding the world of boredom by 8:30am most days, 9am at the latest. Park, bubbles, etc...whatever amounts to amazeballs fun. Home for lunch. Food, conversation, cleaning up as we go. Camp Zed Mondo rad crafty type enterprise fits here. Nap prep (important Daddy trick he is unwilling to share)...nap, and now here I am.

Applause here.

No TV. No cries for crying period. No lost limbs or bloodied parts and pieces. We're good. In fact, we're more than good. After looking in Zed's closet this morning and feeling guilty at the embarrassing lack of Zopropriate summer clothing options, we got busy making this...

Yeah, that's a dress. It used to be my shirt. Now it's an acute pain between my shoulder blades (how do tailors and seamstresses do all that leaning over?), and has provided me with a keen awareness that June doesn't have a sewing needle anywhere to be found. There's lots of pins, but no needles. So we're in the business of making Zed some so-ridiculously-cute-I-could-puke summer clothes, while we manage the day to day curiosities of Camp Zed. No problem. Who's not organized?

Just for clarity, that is the beginnings of a dress. I did that...I, and no I don't feel any less manly, in fact, I feel like one @#$% of a man having made the clothing on my own child's soon to be cute-as-hell back all by myself. Take that universe. Also, for the sake of full disclosure, I don't want to ever hear one of you whiny playground super-Moms complain ever again, and while we're at it, stop looking at me like I'm a sideshow. I'm not a single Dad, and I'm a better Mom than you might ever be, and I have dude parts. That's what fifteen years of camp will do for you. Not the dude parts thing, I came with those, but the better Mom than you part.

Stay tuned for tomorrow when we do more cool $#%t.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Stay Gold

stay gold tattoo ankles

When I was a kid I transitioned from Huck Finn to The Outsiders rather than endure puberty, as most of my peers might have. I slipped almost seamlessly from Tom Sawyer to Ponyboy Curtis without so much as a voice change. It would serve as a major moment in the trajectory of my life. I don't kid myself into thinking that S.E. Hinton's classic novel about adolescence didn't have anything to do with the life and career I've chosen for myself. I associated myself with those kids from wrong side of the tracks very early on, and am proud I did. I never forgot what Ponyboy said when he laid out the entirety of my life's philosophy in one sentence to Cherry Valance, "Don’t forget that some of us watch the sunset too." It was the watershed moment that laid firmly the bricks of my sturdy foundation.

Does it make sense that I might want something from the book and film permanently emblazoned on my body? To some, no, but to others, for certain, and I might. There's something in between the lines of Robert Frost's famous poem, and what is arguably The Outsiders most famous scene, in this most recent experience of watching my life slip painfully from uncertainty into stability. In Nothing Gold Can Stay I have found the not too dramatic Felix Culpa of my own life, and in that moment I have come to see the world a little differently. Good and bad go together, pain and pride, accomplishment and anxiety. Without loss there cannot be redemption, and without The Outsiders and Robert Frost, there isn't the me that types this nonsense.

Stay gold good friends. Stay gold.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Friends Don't Let Friends Get Responsible All By Themselves

B&W Jace Zo feet
Zoey and Jace sprawled out on the living room floor, post-play, post-bath, pre-bedtime.

One of the more abstract parts of parenting has been doing it with friends. Watching the people that you care about taking care of people that they care about is a pretty pronounced example of maturing. I like watching the people we know multiply from two to three, and four, and sometimes more. It's exciting, as lame as that might sound to someone who isn't in the very middle of doing it. See, the guy who used to guard your cooler at parties is now standing over his sleeping son while his wife relaxes by the campfire with friends. That other guy who used to follow Pearl Jam around like a roadie, is now downloading bittorrents of Baby Rock CD's. It's a mesmerizing sign of what we're all capable of when we love something enough.

We don't get box seats to our friends raising families as often as we'd like but on occasion we get to see it up close, like last night, and it's far beyond thought provoking. We spent yesterday evening with our friends Jason and Kaylen and their children, Jace and Sophia. We nearly died at the hilarity of watching little versions of themselves running around our home.

B&W Jace and Zo running
Zed and Jace running post-water park circles around one another.

No doubt it's the same sentiment for them. I'm sure Zoey is the best and worst of both of us (mostly the best we desperately hope), and watching her run around her parents must be grin inducing for the people who know us best. Watching our kids play together is an easy kind of surreal to wrap our heads around.

B&W Jace Zo laughing
An intimate moment amoungst friends...or the children of friends.

With luck Zo is every bit of our best parts. We want her to be creative and contemplative, cautious and energetic, considerate...we hope that she is fun and friendly and ambitious enough to find happiness more frequently than regret. We're excited to see what these little people sneaking in and out of the shadows of our friends end up being. You can imagine what each will be just by watching their parents, just by recalling all of the curious things about our friends.

It was a nice visit last night...nice to have company...nice to see friends that we see too rarely...and nice to watch the future unfolding before us in a pile of giggling pajamas and messy hair, piling on top of each other, running, squealing, and reminding us why we're all friends in the first place.

B&W group hug
An invisible Sophia gets slathered with affection from her big brother and an excited Zed.

Weekends that used to be filled with weddings are now busy with water parks, and responsibility has replaced the selfish indulgences of Saturday nights, but that's cool 'cause we're watching ourselves all over again...giggling in pajamas and messy hair, piling high on top of each other. If this is what they call growing up it's a way better deal than what Peter Pan told us it would be.

Friday, July 8, 2011

When We Were Kings

Big air...little kid. Learning to fly was mostly a summer pursuit.

Wanna learn how to spend a summer? Follow any nine year old boy worth his salt around around and you'll get a glimpse of why we were meant to have two months off each year. It's a time for re-charging, for exploring, for a different kind of learning, experimenting, adventuring, challenging yourself, making friends, etc...endless etc... Little boys get summer right.

My cousin Scitter used to jump off of perfectly good structures that had water beneath them. I mean giant things, and he was generally the scourge of Midland, ON for at least a decade. He knew how to enjoy a summer. A little bit of trouble, a lot of laughter, plenty of adventures, never too much boredom. He used to jump from the roof of his house into his pool. It's safe to say that Scotty knew his limits, it's just that he learned early on that they were a lot further out than he had expected. That's a young man taking advantage of his summer. If you can wipe away even a fraction of timidity and build just a sliver of new confidence, all while dripping wet and laughing your @$& off, well, that's pretty much a definitively good summer. Nowadays people replace that kind of awesome with beers around campfires, and grilling steaks on $900 BBQs. Gimme a cold hot dog as I run out the door with my towel in hand and some change in my pocket so I can pillage the variety store later. Ice cream is a perfectly acceptable lunch.

In just two weeks time I feel twelve years old. I take my time going to bed. I linger a little every morning. I forget what day it is. I want to do something fun and different every day. Camp Zed is turning me into a twelve year old boy that wants to jump homemade ramps and swim in rivers, and eat like crap everyday. It reminds me of a dozen or so summer's when I was free to figure out who I was and wear myself out trying. I think we forget the value in that. Certainly the working world has tried to beat it out of us, but there it is, still there if you get the opportunity, to remind us that we're all needing a little re-charging, and a lot more adventure and fun. I don't recommend jumping off of things, especially the roof of your parents house, but a ramp is easy enough to build. As the song says, "summer's here and the time is right..."

Now if you'll excuse me I have to go wake our daughter and then get busy smelling of sunscreen and irresponsibility.

Random Ridiculous Quote of the Week

"Daddy, why does everyone like my bum so much," staring back over her shoulder in front of her own reflection in the window.

"Who is everyone Zo?" I ask.

"Everyone Daddy." Alternating views over each shoulder.

"Like who?"

"All the people." Craning her neck to see.

"Oh, that everyone. I dunno."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Good Morning Thursday. How Are You?

For your Thursday morning pre-work listening pleasure Slap this on, then go fix your hair, or eat some Cheerios or somethin'.

A steal guitar makes me melt a little. I dunno why. I'm not Country Hank or his trusty sidekick Muleshow Jim, but I like me the sound of some whining pedal steal...I just do. I especially like it when Joe Rockmusic guy slips a little into his musical arsenal rather than just leaving it to George Straight and his cult of broken hearted country twang maestros. If you don't dig a little steal yourself then that's cool, I'm just saying that I do. Just sayin'.

Anyway...Happy Thursday. It is Thursday, right?

Netta's Niece

Pickles and hot dogs

Zoey's Aunt Netta is more intimately known by her family as the girl who will eat just about any combination of foods left in the fridge. At least that's how Netta used to be. Her palette has most certainly improved after having lived and worked in two of Canada's largest, most metropolitan cities. Still, I don't know anyone who paired such weird things together standing there in the half light of a gently propped open refrigerator door. There are times Zo reminds me of her gastrointestinally superior Aunt Netta, and it gives me heartburn just watching her.

Just the the other day it was hot dogs and pickles, not bad as far as combinations go, but not one I'd have settled into comfortably. Two days ago she wanted french toast and hot dogs, and just last week she was eager to tackle some rice and peanut butter toast. There are times I throw up a little watching her eat lunch.

Mostly Zed is a pretty bland fan of food....rice, plain noodles, toast, cereal, ham, crackers, etc...and at regular intervals she's mildly more adventurous...cold noodle, sushi, etc...but those are really just loftier versions of the previous things. She could care less about the dinner table most times, but on occasion she gets pretty punk rock and wants sushi and pancakes, or hot dogs and pickles. I'm blaming it entirely on her Aunt Netta.

OMG...The Best Thing Since Fingers Were Invented

Adam Parks runs a site called The Illuminated Mixtapes. It's an awesome series of mixtapes that he put online for your streaming pleasure. Wait, that sounded bad. However you cut it, the site is amazeballs, and you're a foolish twerp if you don't at least check it out and give it a decent try.

Guess who's stealing a lot of music today?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Apples and Oranges...and Derek Jeter


This blog post isn't for isn't for an Aunt or Uncle living very far away...this blog post is to just say wow, and make a silent wish out to the universe that I could be this good, for this anything. If I could just be three quarters as good as Derek Jeter has been in his career in my own a person, as a Dad, as an employee, at anything, then I'd be beyond proud.

This is kind of incredible.

Oh Captain, my Captain, indeed. I wanna be that good at something in my life. It's astonishing really. When placed in the kind of historical context that Jayson Stark sets it all down, just wow...that's about all I can muster.

That's how you define greatness. Unbelievable.

Once, when I was little...

When I was a kid, and first learned about the rotation of the earth, I thought I should be able to jump in the air and eventually get places. That the earth would turn, while I was in the air, and I’d move like that: One jump at a time.

Sometimes, it still seems like that should work, but it doesn't. What did you believe in as a child?

I thought that I might one day float down the Mississippi River on a raft. I believed that if I wanted to be a cowboy all I had to do was be a cowboy. I never imagined school mattering that much. I thought that one day I might live in a trailer and just drive around. I believed with as much sincerity as my naive little heart could muster that nothing bad would ever happen to me...that I'd stumbled through my quota of bad things early on and would be past all that by the time I grew up. I believed that I would stay best friends with my best friends forever. I thought Toby was the coolest dude I knew. I wanted to be cool. I didn't think about money. I thought that maybe, if I wanted it long enough, and the right idea struck, that I could write a book. I believed that practice made perfect. I thought that I could hop a train and survive all on my own. More than anything I thought that earth's rotation thing would've worked.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Books and Bridges

Bridge lunch w Zed
Zoey and her manservant doing a little light reading under the Bluewater Bridge.

When I was a kid I was usually pretty desperate to go to the library. Today wasn't much different only I'm not a kid anymore. I used to get excited about sneaking under the Bluewater Bridge for fries and shenanigans too. It seems I still get a little excited for that too.

How full can a day get before you call it a day, I mean officially? After a morning of leisurely waking, eating and leaving, we wandered to the library, then met Mom in the park for lunch, then played, then snuck home, and now Zo is supposed to be sleeping, but isn't...and I'd like to be, but now can't. So I beg the question, when is a day officially scribed as being full?
'Cause this one feels like it.

Reading w Zo
Oliver Jeffers "Up and Down" is first rate reading.

We scored Oliver Jeffer's recent book, Up and Down...awesome. We love us some Oliver Jeffers every chance we get. We also scored Pirate Girl by Cornelia Funke...stellar. Parks are just flat out better with books. They just are, no arguing. Especially free books, as libraries are kind of in the business of providing.

Library books
Score and score...a library trip with some taste.

I'm much to definitive a sucker for a Caldecott Medal winning, or Prix Saint-Exupery award winning book it's ridiculous. Have you ever paid attention to the award winners? There's a giant gap between what takes home either prize, and the rest of the children's literature published that year...a giant gap. So when I saw A Blue So Blue by Jean-Francois Dumont my heart skipped a little (geek) and I snatched it up and tossed it in our bag. If you haven't flipped through it then you've missed an absolutely amazing story, with incredible artwork and the most unique idea. It's better than shade, I swear. Find it...offer me thanks and over the top affection later.

We have every intention of making the library a safe, fun spot for Zed. It was for me, so much so that when I was struck by a car at age ten, and in obvious shock laying there along the side of the road, when the ambulance attendents asked me where I was I answered, "at the library." I guess that's what you call "finding your happy place." Zo seems to love it already. I would quite say that it's her happy place but it's a pretty cool one.

Sometimes there are cooler things than reading
That's my daughter. She's for sale if anyone is interested in buying a geek.

The problem with book borrowing when you're only two and half years old (almost) is that you're typically finished the books that you borrowed almost as soon as you check them out. A child's picture book only goes so far. The three books today are a collective 89 pages...some with words...some without. That kind of meagre verbiage gets swallowed whole by Zed. I know, she's 29 short months old, but she's fairly voracious in terms of how much reading she enjoys being force fed. I suppose, all that means is more trips to the library, more time at bookstores...more opportunities to read in the park with a little girl who still wants to be read to.

Day 6 of Camp Zed...full, and very much in the business of building foundations.

Dream a Little Dream

boat over whales
Painting by increder-steller-ble artist Sandrine Mercier

How's your imagination? Mine's just fine. I used to beat myself up over my astonishingly meagre capacity for technical know, this measures four inches and 12/16ths, and cut that at a 45 degree angle, and this needs a lag bolt...What the schmanck is a lag bolt? Then I realized that 12/16ths of my motor neurons fire up and leave an awfully impressive imaginative wake trailing behind a shooting star might. Then I don't stress the number of tools in my tool box, not with 400 sketchbooks piled high, and 200 journals, and an overflowing hard drive. My head works a little differently than yours perhaps, but I love the difference, don't misunderstand. I love it.

I close my eyes and see tattoo chairs and floating balloons...flying whales and accordian playing dogs. If I sit down with a pen and a piece of paper there'd more than likely be something worth oogling when I'm done, just as my Father-in-law might build an impressive bug catcher our of an old computer fan and whatever tidbits he's got laying know, because he can. Similar to the line from Good Will Hunting, he probably couldn't hit the ball out of Fenway but when it comes to that stuff he can just play. It's familiar territory for most of us I think, it's just that each one of us can just play at something very different from the other.

Divergent thinking is the key, I think. What places can your head and heart go to without being led by someone else's hand? If they can find curious places all on their own, and using whatever is set before them, well, you're gonna be just fine. Of all the things that we hope to bestow upon Zo, I hope the ability to do just that is one of them.

I'm sure a summer playing pirates, and reading books wherever the notion strikes us, and drawing and coloring and painting might just help push her in the direction of a healthy imagination (ahem, more healthy imagination...her's is already pretty well developed), but at the very least mine will be well watered. I've had six incredible days of finding my most childish self every day and I'm quite hooked on the feeling. It's like camp all over again. I think it's safe to say that all of us were children once but that many of us were either denied a proper childhood, or can't remember any part of it. That's sad. So just in case you've forgotten I'm going to remind you by sailing boats with whales today. You can do it too if you just try. It's nice to have a two year old to help but you're very capable of doing it on your own. I choose to sail the boat while you might choose to build it, or perhaps your head drifts off to that place where the boat is sailing from, or to...or maybe the whole story rises ahead of you, or the entire dream is in technicolor, or maybe you're just happy to watch other people sail with whales. Whatever it is, however you do it, dream a little dream every day and I promise you"ll remember what eight years old feels like. I promise.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Water Park, Schwater Park

Blanket art studio
Zo playing with Daddy's uber-portable mini art studio. Perfect for the uber-prepared.

Kids should freak out at a water park right? Zo did the first time that we took her...not this time. We've been back to the Spray Park three times and now it's old hat. She splashed around for a little while today and then wanted to chill on the blanket with Daddy and draw stuff.


Camp Zed is full of don't try to figure your two year old out, 'cause you can't. Forty squealing kids and mind-blowing water fun no less than thirty feet away and she doesn't even care. Instead she lays on the blanket, covers herself with a towel, and smiles at me with deadly eyes.

"I love you Daddy," she whispers.

"I love you right back...times ten," I answer.

More smiles. What water park?

Meet My Daughter...Geek

Parking lot intellectual

This is my daughter waiting to leave the YMCA this afternoon...patiently...with a book. Geek.

This kid's a freakish anomaly. She's a social freakshow, doing her best to make friends with lesser life forms at every opportunity. She's super fun and can be both assertive and reserved at different times depending upon her mood. She runs and runs and jumps and squeals and falls down...and then sometimes she reads. This morning's pirate turned into a parking lot intellectual by the afternoon. It's funny to think how absolutely far she is from defining herself even a smidgen. She's all over the map and it's an awfully damn big map, and will only get bigger. It baffles me to think what, out of all this stuff, will stick. Maybe a little bit of all of it will? Crossing my fingers.

Chasing Pirates...

Spent the morning abandoning our pirate ship, escaping from other pirates that overtook our ship near the beach, and then hiding from everyone in the park thanks to generous tree cover, fast little legs, and wicked good imagination. We commandeered a ship to get us back home and did our best to lose the pirates before we got there. No worries though, home is considered neutral waters and according the pirate code we can't be touched here.


Day 5 of Camp Zed fully underway.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Summer Reading List

Ever realize that as well read as you believe yourself to be, it just might not be with the right books. The BBC has released it's Top 200 books and if you want to be humbled check off the ones on your resume. Ugh. I'm determined to knock some of these off this summer (those book I have read are printed in bold.

1. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
7. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
10. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
18. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
20. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling
23. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
24. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
25. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
26. Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch by George Eliot
28. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
29. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
31. The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion by Jane Austen
39. Dune by Frank Herbert
40. Emma by Jane Austen
41. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
42. Watership Down by Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm by George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
48. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
53. The Stand by Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
56. The BFG by Roald Dahl
57. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
60. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
61. Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
63. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
65. Mort by Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
67. The Magus by John Fowles
68. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
69. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
71. Perfume by Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda by Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
77. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses by James Joyce
79. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
80. Double Act by Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits by Roald Dahl
82. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
83. Holes by Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
85. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel by Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
89. Magician by Raymond E. Feist
90. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
92. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
93. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
95. Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer
96. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
97. Girls in Love by Jacqueline Wilson
98. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
99. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
100. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
101. Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
102. The Beach by Alex Garland
103. Dracula by Bram Stoker
104. Point Blanc by Anthony Horowitz
105. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
106. Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
107. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
108. The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
109. The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson
110. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
111. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ by Sue Townsend
112. The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat
113. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
114. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
115. The Dare Game by Jacqueline Wilson
116. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
117. Shōgun by James Clavell
118. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
119. Lola Rose by Jacqueline Wilson
120. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
121. The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
122. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
123. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
124. Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
125. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
126. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
127. Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt
128. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
129. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
130. Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
131. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
132. George's Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl
133. Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
134. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
135. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
136. The Thirty-nine Steps by John Buchan
137. Girls in Tears by Jacqueline Wilson
138. Sleepovers by Jacqueline Wilson
139. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
140. Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
141. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
142. It by Stephen King
143. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
144. The Green Mile by Stephen King
145. Papillon by Henri Charrière
146. Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
147. Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian
148. Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz
149. Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
150. Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett
151. The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett
152. Atonement by Ian McEwan
153. Secrets by Jacqueline Wilson
154. The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier
155. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
156. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
157. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
158. Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon
159. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
160. River God by Wilbur Smith
161. Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon
162. The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
163. The World According to Garp by John Irving
164. Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore
165. Girls Out Late by Jacqueline Wilson
166. The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye
167. The Witches by Roald Dahl
168. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
169. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
170. They Used to Play on Grass by Terry Venables/ Gordon Williams
171. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
172. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
173. Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder
174. Dustbin Baby by Jacqueline Wilson
175. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
176. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
177. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
178. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

179. The Suitcase Kid by Jacqueline Wilson
180. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
181. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
182. Silas Marner by George Eliot
183. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
184. Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith
185. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
186. Goosebumps by R. L. Stine
187. Heidi by Johanna Spyri
188. Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
189. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
190. Man and Boy by Tony Parsons
191. The Truth by Terry Pratchett
192. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
193. The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans
194. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
195. Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett
196. The Once and Future King by T. H. White
197. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
198. Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews

And somehow I've lost two titles? Hmm...It doesn't much matter. I'll never get to them anyway. I've got a lot of reading to do!

Sunday Links

Water Slide
Re-posted from Sand1man at Flickr

Sundays have turned into homework days, with a liberal number of web procrastination moments thrown in. Regardless of how nice it is outside (and it looks plenty nice outside right now), I resolve myself to doing what I need to do,a nd in this particular situation it's homework...and finding awesome cool stuff on-line. Like the photo just feels the way summer is supposed to feel.

Whoa, who's fort is this!?

I saw these guys in concert a long time ago...yeah, I did!

I want to make these for Zoey.

The definition of divergent thinking

Paper cranes are just about my favorite thing ever.

I don't know anyone who writes this good, in fact, it's kind of hard to fathom.

I didn't understand Shakespeare until I saw this, and then I remembered every word. BTW...Paul Rudd wasn't always cool.

I'd like to be in England down at the pub with friends tonight. Why can't North Americans get the pub right? We always bugger it.

Typically most animals don't knock me over with awe, but this one always does,a nd particularly this photo.

Uhmm, wow.

One of my favorite views on the planet. High above Monmartre with all of Paris falling away beneath you.

The end of long weekends always feel like this.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Morning Markers

Morning window markers
Mummy and Zed soaking up some morning sun together

There are memorable mornings because of where you woke up, because of who you woke up with, or because you simply woke up...and then there are mornings where you wake up and see your wife and daughter drawing on the window, the window of your own house, and those two girls are everything you've come to love about waking up every day, not just some days...every day.

The number of swoons that I had accumulated across the weeks of my life before Zoey came along were embarrassingly scant, but in the past two and a half years they've become impossible to measure.

Window markers and quiet mornings weren't on my list before. They are now.

Most Awesome Idea Since Window Markers

Ever use window markers? Well, they're awesome. This idea is more awesome. Swings make people happy so there should probably be more swings in the world, right? Easy math.

Sadly, swings make me wanna puke. Just sayin'.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ain't No Poddy Like a Zoey Poddy

Light poddy reading
Zed splits her focus between two different things on the big girls poddy.

Zedder decided that she would crawl up onto the big poddy today. You and I call it a toilet, but stick with me, we've got one foot in a two year olds world here. We were fresh home from swimming and changing clothes, she was naked and eager to rid herself of waste...and obviously ambitious...big poddy.

Of course she had to princess it up a little. She needed a towel draped around her to ward off the goosebumps (she doesn't like goosebumps much), and she required some light reading, like Japanese board books. That's right, Japanese board books. We're not trying to be Montessori type freak parents, it's just that she likes herself some Japanese here and there. Blame it on the DNA. Blame it on Baachan. You can even blame Aunt Netta and Mummy, but the fact remains that this funster gets her Japanese on every occasion it's offered and thats a good thing.

Her favorite food is rice and furikake. She excuses herself from the table with a muted and coaxed, go chi so sama deshita, and she could eat nori by the bag, and all by itself. She likes the sound of someone speaking Japanese. She likes the inflection in the phrasing, the tone and rhythm of the conversation. Even when we were living in Waikiki and she was just a small baby she would turn her head at the sound of Japanese tourists talking. Of course, by then her own Baachan had cooed into her ear for six months. She likes her Mummy's Japanese songs, and she apparently likes to read Japanese board books while she poops.

It'd be nice if she ends up showing some kind of affinity for the kind of culture that her Mom grew up with, and that she's been exposed to so far, but for now we're a little more excited that she wants to use the big girls poddy. I dunno how you spell toilet in kanji but that matters infinitely less then her wanting to use one.

The True North Strong and Free (and quietly ambivalent)

It's Canada Day, which for all our unfamiliar 'Murican friends means we have to eat maple syrup and shoot pucks at moose all day, then spend our evenings apologizing to one another and anyone else who'll listen. Large quantities of beer must be consumed, you must wear a plaid shirt, and say something offensive about our typically kindred southerly neighbors. That's the way it works. Then we shoot off fireworks and bitch about our taxes while we wait for the beavers to come out and deliver us some new pale skinned babies, and carry all our garbage off to dumps in Michigan.

How do you celebrate the fourth?

Canada Day never meant a whole lot to me, not growing up a short bike ride from the US border. Even when I was a kid that whole National Pride thing seemed kind of silly to me considering that we were celebrating imaginary lines and illusionary cultures. I mean, were it not for certain circumstances wouldn't Texas and California be more fervently celebrating Cinqo de Mayo than the Fourth of July anyway (they kind of do anyway, don't they)? If it wasn't for a small little conflict in 1812 wouldn't half of Ontario be Michigan? My great grandfather stepped from a boat onto the streets of New York City and just because he knew someone in Detroit he wandered West. Then it turned out there were a lot of people from his neck of the woods chilling out over in Canada so he slipped over that imaginary line (no need for a work visa in 1912, or whenever it was) and settled in. Oh sure, I'm a proud Canadian, but Canada Day doesn't stir my soul or give me goose bumps. I leave that for events that really mean something, like Sidney Crosby's gold medal overtime goal in the Vancouver Olympics, or not having a housing market that looks like Joplin post-tornado. Today's a holiday, and people do some pretty cool stuff, and that's all.

Wait...that attitude in itself might be super-Canadian? I may have just wrote a post that has only an equivalent in a sincere shoulder shrug, and it may very well have summarized Canadian culture without even trying. Uhm, profound.

No we're not dressing Zedder in red and white flag paraphernalia today. We have frontal lobes that we use. She'll wear sunscreen and perhaps pig tails. We'll tell her all about Wayne Gretzky and feed her bacon all day, but we will not drape her in a flag. Of course, we'll hide her when the beavers come, and we'll spend a big chunk of the day teaching her funny things to say to her American friends, but most of our time will really be consumed listening to Glass Tiger records and wondering if Randy Bachman really is the anti-christ.