Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Watch Out For That Door

We heard the yell, “Mummy, and then heard the thumping of feet across the carpeted floor. We then heard the thump of a fleet but frightened little body running into a closed door in the darkness. The thud of her collapsing to the floor was the saddest part.

Poor little thing. She had a bad dream, bolted from her bed, and wasn’t awake enough to manage the responsibility that comes with running scared in the dark. Mummy scooped her up and escorted her to the bathroom, then back into her room after a short sojourn in her parents bed. So at 5am both June and Zoey’s long day began.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sick Girl...Sad Dad

Is it just me or does every Dad feel completely awful when his child is sick? I'm unnerved to the tenth degree, which then unnerves me even further still at the prospect of a real health crisis. A fever slays me...what will I do with something more significant?

When I was ten years old I was hit by a car while riding my bike. It was a bad deal...a heavy accident. I landed in UWO's hospital for over a month. I had lacerations, major lacerations, all over my body, particularly on my head. I broke my fibula and tibia, needed six pins in my lower leg and skin grafting on well over 25% of that same limb. I lay on the side of a busy road while my brother ran for help. From their kitchen my parents heard the wailing sirens of the ambulance. If that happened to Zed I might...well, I don't know the extent to which that might damage me. A fever unsettles me something terrible.

How do you manage your child's sickness? Are you cool and confident, or are you unnerved and anxious? Does it lay waste to Dads more than Moms? Am I a freak?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Nephews and Three Toed Sloths

Uncle and nephew, in their dangerous hours of unfettered foolishness, have decided that three toed sloths would be terrible travel companions, certainly terrible on game days when you're running late, and they may, perhaps, list "waiting" as one of their best attributes. They would also make terrible hide and seek companions, and would be the absolute worst choice for a pit crew. Since they mostly hang upside down we also thought that maybe climbing down out of their tree to go to the bathroom was a wiser choice than just going upside down.

Shrug...yeah, I dunno...that's the kind of stuff that we talk about.

Lazy Hotel Room Links

I woke up early when my nephew had a bad dream, and with the TV on (to whisk him back into the unfrightening here and half-light now) I wasn't falling back asleep. So I felt compelled to crack off some live links. You're welcome, unless of course, you don't care, then sorry.

I desperately want this...and this.

I'm down for this.

Do yourself a giant heaping favor and listen to this.

You gotta see this. You don't need to be a sports fan. It left me feeling...I dunno, changed.

This will be how we manage a cottage someday. I'll spend my loot on the land, not the roof over our head.

Kind of awesome.

I'd sell at least one toe, maybe more, for this work space.

New, unique take on the legend of Steve Jobs, and a perspective bender in the context of how we rise to the top.

Hmmm, I could throw an A-Frame design in the cottage shipping container mix, couldn't I? Be nice to have a tiny little upstairs to sneak away to.

Now this is what I call taking your work kind of seriously.

This looks like a nice Sunday morning, with one of my most favorite records ever.

With the new popularity of Pinterest, and by so many of your friends whom you never imagined would enjoy a good jaunt through it's aesthetically pleasing pages, it's confirmed. More people are interested in that kind of stuff than they admit.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Weekend in A2

M turf

Back in Ann Arbor for a little lacrosse, and there's a ten year old, wide eyed freak kid with me. It's fun. He did get an earful of Division I lacrosse coaching, which was funny. If he didn't know the 'F' word when he got here, he sure does now. It felt good to step back into Oosterbaan with lacrosse balls bouncing all around and a familiar face, that just happened to be Lacrosse Magazine's Man of the Year, putting his troops through their paces. Of course, Reece lasted about an hour and a half before I spied him playing games on his iTouch. Ten year olds don't exactly have impressive attention spans, and with all those indian rubber balls bouncing around, it was best to either get my nephew a helmet, or sneak out of Oosterbaan.

So as Uncle B tapes up random strangers at his Kinisio Taping Clinic, we're chilling on the Athletic Campus while the snow falls in giant flakes. Some skating at Yost later...some swimming in the hotel pool...surely more iTouch...surely an early bed time.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Nerves of Steel...or Really Strong Aluminum Anyway

They’ve spirited me away to some attic, storage room type place. There’s a large table and chairs, and of course, it’s well lit, with windows overlooking the library down below, but it doesn’t feel good. I’m supposed to meet a kid up here? I’ve got a weird vibe about this deal. He’s already having a bad day, so I’ve been told, and I’ve driven two hours through wet snow to quite possibly get shrugged off. That’s how my day can roll out sometimes.

I’m always nervous in this moment…in meeting a new kid…in sussing out whether I like him and whether or not he likes me, at least enough to manage any kind of connection or positive result. Sometimes these meetings fall flat… luckily, not very often. It’s pretty rare that it doesn’t work on some level. I’m honest, open, accessible, fallible, obviously not their teacher, or any other oh-so typical adult in their life, and it just seems to fly most times. If this was translated into a batting average I’d be swatting a ridiculous .890 with a Bonds-esque number of home runs and RBIs. If you asked me the details about my swing I’d just shrug. I dunno what the hell my swing looks like…I just see big fat baseballs most days, and on the days that I don’t…well, I don’t beat myself up over it.

Funny how typing, and a good sports analogy can ease my mind and slip me into a groove better suited to winning over the heart, and mind of an angry yoof…that’s right, I said yoof, ‘cause youth sounds too condescendingly professional. I like to keep it real, you know.

You know what else is a strange occurrence in these moments? I think of Zed. I always think of Zed. I get caught up in who I’d want her to meet and talk to. I get reminded how good we’ve got it with her. I find myself making mental notes of all of things that I want to say to her someday, and of all of the mistakes that I want to do my best to avoid. I think of Zed, and it makes me better.

Alright. Where’s this kid? Let’s hear what he’s got to say. I have a feeling that I might be the only person he’s ever met here that’s started out on that foot.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Birthday Cake...Birthday Card...Birthday Suit...Birthday Girl

Zed Birthday Card

Zed reads her birthday cards, or at least feigns interest in reading her birthday cards, and it's just about the cutest thing on the planet. Sure, she tears into presents like any three year old worth her salt does, but all you have to do is remind her to read the card, and she does...and she almost always enjoys it.

3rd Birthday

Uncle Ian scored the card of the night with a farting dog inside that had Zed giggling as though she were being tickled by fifteen hands. At three years old there's not much out there that's funnier than a fart...except a fart card.

Funny card

It was a nice, quiet easy, peasy third birthday for Zed. There was presents with Gramma, then dinner, and presents with Uncle Ian, Baachan, and Grandad, then cake, and then craziness. By the end of the night she was completely naked, running around the living room playing a twisted version of soccer...a hybrid soccer/dodgeball combo that had everyone laughing out loud and Zed smiling wide. It was a good birthday, nothing special, nothing crazy, just nice.

It's kind of hard to believe that this little girl is three years old... almost as difficult to believe as a three year old that gets a kick out of birthday cards.

Happy Birthday Zoey Sakura!

Zed Birthday - Three Years Old

Today is Zoey's birthday. Three years old, and surely smiling the day away like any other. She's the happiest kid alive, and even more so lately. There was a package from her wee, little Brooklyn friend, Elle that came the other day...and Aunt Netta has one on the way. There's an ice cream cake stashed away in the basement freezer...Gramma has a new pile of puzzles for her...Baachan and Grandad are stopping by for dinner tonight...Daddy bought her the most vexingly cute dress for the occasion. It's no big deal, but then of course it is.

Happy Birthday Zoey Sakura!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dead Fish Etc...

Tonight was a busy night full of dead fish, cruxating, stinky nattō (なっとう), and questions about Mom's frenulum. It was a curious couple of hours.

What's cruxating, you say? I dunno. You'd have to ask Zoey. She was the one that made the word up while she pushed her little wooden stool around the kitchen. I think it's a form of spazzing out.

What's a frenulum? It's that little thing that connects your tongue to the bottom of your mouth. Zed was quite infatuated with it tonight.

Dead fish? Yup. One of Zed's fish died. Not a surprise since Mom's got this whacky clandestine plan to slowly eradicate her fish, one by's a sordid plan of attrition, and it disgusts me. Not really, but I occasionally like to feign indignation. So now we've lost Lenny and Squiggy, Richard Milhouse Nixon and now an unnamed orange dude. I'm not sure if you can file a complaint with the UN for crimes against common goldfish, but if you could, well, June's pretty much a war criminal right now. It got especially heinous when she tried to flush the fish down the toilet with Zoey's help...that got ugly.

Just in case I've never mentioned it. This is fun.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

He Said, She Said

She said, "my girlfriend..." and he said, "my boyfriend..." and the ease with which that is just tossed into a conversation makes me:

A] Amazed at the trust and comfort that I can sometimes find in these conversations.

B] Happy that life is just life, and love is just love.

3] Hopeful that this is the language that my kids will find commonplace.

I'm regularly floored by the epiphanies of these long days but there are some that are more quietly inspiring than others, like today, when she said, "my girlfriend..." and he said, "my boyfriend..."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Be The Change You Want To See In The World


In the wake of Joe Paterno's death, and the subsequent memorialization of the man whose epic fail so very few weeks ago rocked the entire sports world, I felt moved to scribble something...Something that mgoblog's Brian Cooke certainly beat me to publishing.

What I was moved to type, rather than the millions of missives focused on the career and dismantling of that man whom the college football universe came to simply and affectionately call JoPa, is not a commentary on his death, but rather on his life, or the illusion that it turned out to be.

When statues cast shadows that remind us to deify the living, the living had better live up to the immense honor and responsibility of being cast in that stone. We can believe now, as debatable as some might have us think it is, that Joe Paterno never least not the Joe Paterno that we all so eagerly, and prematurely cast in stone. When you've been offered or have assumed a super human role, it makes sense that you be just that, super human...that your decisions be irreproachable, and your actions unassailable. In fact, they must be so. That's not to say that we must deny our most inspiring leaders the fallibility that the vast majority of us enjoy, but it demands that our trust, faith, and affection be honored with truth. When we are denied that truth, we are denied our faith, and too often we are desperate for some. Maybe there never was a JoPa. By the available facts of the ugly matter, I suspect that there wasn't. Seemingly lesser men have made vastly better decisions, have led quiet but miraculously better lives. Seemingly lesser men, without statues, go to work every day and are required to make difficult decisions and get them right...every time.

I was painfully reminded of JoPa's misguided memorialization today because of a seeimingly endless onslaught of awful discussions and decisions that I was forced to manage all day, from the very minute I stepped into the world where I work until long after I was supposed to call the day complete. It began with a dangerous decompressing of a young man who will spend the next year of his life in custody, as I dodged thrown books and epithets, and ended with a difficult discussion with a young, crack-addicted mother...a discussion that will very likely lead to the loss of her infant child. Across those, and every tearful talk in between, I felt the weight of responsibility and of uncomfortable obligation. I have no statue, nary the most humble of followings, and I will never court the curse of any kind of fame. In fact, my version of success stands alone, a solitary definition, and finds little to celebrate in the company of others. I feel the impossible weight of doing the right thing every day. I ask myself each morning if I'm prepared to be the kind of person that I want to be, and I don't get the privilege of answering my own question.

Men who symbolize so much less so often do so much more. Joe Paterno was not the man many made him out to be. There is a statue in Happy Valley that casts an impossibly cold shadow and dozens, if not many more, young men and families will forever rue the day that they believed JoPa to be anything more than a man undeserving of that stone immortality. It's unfair that one of the few things that will last longer than the scars and pain of those young men who were abused under JoPa's watch is a statue immortalizing the man who chose not to honor the one that was bestowed upon him.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Zoey, Her Dad...and Forty-Eight Pages of Giant Peaches and Talking Centipedes


After Daddy and Zo snuck off for our usual Sunday breakfast...and Mom slaved over a filthy carpet...we did some book shopping and came home a few hours into the morning with a bag full of books and an eagerness to dive into them. We slipped through Peter Pan's Return to Neverland, and some space pirate treasure nonsense, an ABC mystery book and before you could say Fantastic Mr. Fox we were busting into James and the Giant Peach. I had only bought the book to stash away for a day when Zo was older, and perhaps, more interested and capable. She's never shown much of an interest in being read chapter books...until this morning!

We laid on the bed, as sunlight poured through the window, and read forty-eight pages of James and the Giant Peach this less than a dozen or more chapters, and Zo was enraptured. She laid beside me and swallowed page after page whole, she mimicked the dialogue, and pretended that peach juice dripped from the ceiling into her mouth...she giggled at streets full of rushing chocolate, and she smiled enormously at the notion of forty-one pairs of boots on that centipedes feet. Occasionally Mom poked her head in the door, and sometimes jumped onto the bed and helped dramatize Roald Dahl's awesome nonsense, and Zo was transfixed.

Forty -eight pages...we only stopped to watch Tom Brady and the Patriots, and even then, we thought twice about putting it down. Forty-eight pages, and she's not quite three years old. I think we've successfully built a reader.

Precociousness vs. Water

Sometime yesterday, or during the night previous, Zoey's fish tank leaked. We discovered the near disaster when we were shuffling some things around in her room...her carpeted room. Now there's a bath towel sized water stain on carpet that is less than a year old, and dirty fish water makes for a bad stain. June is confident that we can lift it out, I am loathing fish tanks, and Zoey is hilariously perturbed and simultaneously disturbed by the turn of events. She doesn't like that stain in her sir. That's her space and before all this fishy nonsense, it was pristine, now it is not. She's not happy about it.

She woke up this morning and flew into our bedroom yelling, " room was leaking!"

We already knew that.

"We need to fix it."

We're going

"Let's fix it right now."

Sure thing Fidel.

I don't know how you're going to spend your Sunday morning but ours revolves around fish water, carpet, and someone in pajamas demanding that everything be perfect. It's like we live with Moammar Gadhafi.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Emptying the iPhone

Zo - Mall Horse
Zo getting her fun on riding the penny horse at the Lexington Meijer...that's right, one penny per ride - 2011

A quick flip through June's iPhone revealed a treasure trove of unseen photographs and ancient wonders. There were pics of Zo that I'd never seen, some as old as two years ago. I quickly put a dent in her data package and emailed myself no less than sixteen photos. A curious number of them were of Zed riding mall horses...her apparent achilles heal.

Zo - Birch Run horse
Zed enjoying a ride on Quicklsilver at the Birch Run outlets - Fall 2011

Between cameras and cell phones there are an obscene number of photographs that get overlooked. When you pause to consider the staggering number of photos that we actually manage to upload to Flickr, or store on our computers, it's a little embarrassing. At the very least Zed's going to have an exhaustive record of her childhood, in the best case scenario this blog and these ramblings last well into adolescence and young adulthood. Either way, we've got a stellar record of all these awesome, fake horse riding, years.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Best Adventure of All...

Bri @ Bixby Bridge
Dropping the pack and setting the camera on a rock near Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur, CA - 1997

Daddy likes adventure...mostly in arguably mild gulps, but abnormal bouts with adventure nonetheless. Kind of like Cameron Lawson and Brett DeWoody and their wild, 350-mile bicycle and packraft journey from Yukutat to Cordov, along Alaska's "Lost Coast." Following bear and wolf tracks, navigating heinous brush and swollen river deltas, engaging in true wilderness under their own power. Sounds awesome. Sounds like it fell out of a Patagonia catalogue.

Back in the late 90's I took some time away from the maddening crowd to do some of the very same sort of unnecessary adventuring. I walked the length of Big Sur, mailing packages of food and supplies ahead of myself. I lived and rock climbed and generally dirtbagged it amid the boulders and ghostly trees in Joshua Tree National Park. A few years later I wandered the Eastern Sierra with a good friend while my nephew Reece was busy being born back home in Canada. I slept in tents, on floors, crossed the country no less than three times, nearly landed smack dab on top of a rattle snake, ran out of money, got stuck in my rain soaked tent for a full 48 hours during nasty El Nino storms. I grew whiskers, got stinky and sunburnt, and acted as a general miscreant for months on end. It was beautiful. In large part I disconnected with giant chunks of society, disappointed friends, missed a wedding or two (Kev and Aimee), and mostly just avoided all normal social interactions in lieu of absolutely abnormal little selfish adventures.

Back then I was embracing a very unique state of mind, certainly one that was not sustainable, but one that was wildly experiential and incredibly life changing. I've never apologized for any of it...mostly because I don't necessarily feel as though I needed to...but do regret a thing or two. I would have liked to have seen my friends Kevin and Aimee get married. I probably could have given friends a heads up that I was leaving for large stretches and not coming back (but I always did come back...eventually)...I could have dragged June along with me to live in a tent in the middle of the desert rather than just wander off for a weeks upon weeks, but I don't think the most important people in her life would have appreciated my dragging her down into those hot and dusty indulgences with me. To a lot of people it's not so fact, it was kinda dangerous. I'd change some subtle details of those years but I wouldn't trade a single lesson, or sunrise, blister, or snake inspired freak out for anything. Those things are a big part of how I see the world now.

I don't sit around and wonder what if, like a lot of other people. I don't rue the things that I've lost or never had. I knew what I wanted when I left, and I was even more certain of them when I came home. Some people have referred to those years, and those mild little adventures as my "bum" stage, to which typically I laugh, and occasionally agree. It may have looked like it on the surface, or from a distance, but it's part of my path to here and now, and in this place that we call home now I am happy to have what I wake up to two beautiful girls, and a great career, and purpose and meaning and perspective. Part of all of that got baked into my skin by desert sun, and Pacific sea spray.

I used to walk into Twenty-nine Palms from Joshua Tree National Park to pick up packages that June had mailed me from Japan. At that point in our lives we were just friends...good friends, and certainly two people who knew, even then, that we were somehow connected. I walked those miles under the cool early morning desert sun to pick up letters and surprises from a girl I never knew that I'd marry...whom I never imagined would be the fantastic mother of an equally fantastic daughter...whom I couldn't have anticipated giving me so much, and it took the distance of thousands of miles, oceans, continents, and me falling asleep under a billion bright desert stars to make clear the notion that despite wanting to wander, I didn't want to wander too far away from this girl.

I like adventure...the kind that finds you climbing on rocks in distant deserts, and riding bikes beside crashing ocean waves, and sleeping on cramped Greyhound busses across the endless landscape of a large continent, but my favorite are the kind that leave me sitting here in this couch, in this home that I've made with this girl and this child. So far this adventure is the best one yet...and there's no rattlesnakes.

I Guess I Can Now Introduce Myself...

Oh my.

A simple, on-going, back and forth e-mail conversation with Bruce, a very good friend of mine and my old boss in the Michigan Athletic Department, found it's way into UM Athletic Director, Dave Brandon's blog.

Our conversation was about this...Denard Robinson being a college student, like any other college student, at the Michigan - Michigan State basketball game this week. For me, it was the best part of the game.

I wonder how many people read Dave Brandon's blog? Ian and I saw Dave Brandon at the Nebraska game but I had no history with the man, or any real reason to interrupt him. I suppose I could introduce myself now.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Two girls...Ten Years Between Them

Birthday cousins - Avery & Zo, January 2012

There are ten years between Zoey and her cousin Avery...but they're buddies...good buddies. Some people say that they look alike, but I'm not so sure about that. They both have blonde hair, and will certainly both be tall girls, but the more overwhelming simlarities might end there. They're not sisters but they can act like it sometimes. It's sweet.

Avery's birthday is in December...Zo's is in January...and despite the fact that they're not sisters it doesn't feel a bit strange that they share a birthday cake. Two beautiful girls, one cake...ten years between them. Two dads ready to lock them in the house come high school.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Never a Wasted Breath...Well, Almost Never


No one told me that this parenting thing would require endless amounts of "reminding." It's not that Zoey wasn't hearing what we were trying to say to her, it's just that she forgets...or gets too caught up...or perhaps hasn't quite analyzed a situation as we'd hope...She listens fine, mostly.

Occasionally we need to sit down and Mom and Zo did tonight, on the stairs, about the stairs...about that very act of listening. We talk about listening a lot, mostly so that we don't have to scream about it. We mostly choose not to scream around here. We don't want this to be a loud and screaming kind of house. So tonight when Zo wasn't quite remembering the lessons of her very short past, Mom sat down with her on the stairs to talk about it.

No one told us that we'd be doing all that "reminding" and so sometimes it feels like it's incessant, but the benefits of all talking is a girl that doesn't need all that much of it by comparison. We're kind of spoiled. Still, sometimes it feels like we're sitting on the stairs a lot. We're not.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Series of Unfortunate Events...

I've been drinking tea...that's right, tea. I don't know the reason why. I just started drinking Red Rooibos tea like some kind of Red Rooibos junkie. And then I went and re-arranged Zo's room today. That's right, I moved my daughter's furniture around in an effort to feng-shui her butt back into post-8am waking. I don't know the first thing about feng-shui, but then I don't know $#!% about tea either and that's not stopping me. It's all got me wondering when I turned into a Mom? In defense of my masculinity, I didn't do the laundry, lifted nary a finger to do the dishes, and somehow avoided bath time with Zed. It all works out.

Much Better Late Than Never

I should be writing about how we enjoyed a fairly impromptu family Christmas this weekend...yep, this weekend, but can't seem to muster the most appropriate words. It was fun, and felt much more like Christmas, for me at least, than my actual Christmas. We missed our friend Dustin's birthday party, bonspiel to be specific, but soaked up a perfectly spontaneous holiday-ending get together. We bowled (girls vs. boys)...we ate a ridiculous amount of food...and, of course, we opened presents. There was football on the television, and snow on the ground, and although Christmas came late, it came.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Rules of Horse Grooming According to Zoey

Mane braiding...Jan 13, 2013

Zoey: Gramma, can you help me put barretts in my horse's hair?

Gramma: Horses don't wear barretts.

Zoey: (authoritatively) This one does.

Horse berets...Jan 13, 2013

While Zed and Gramma were discussing the finer points of horse grooming...Gramma from experience, Zoey from her imagination...the topic of barrets in horses manes came up and Zed quickly set her Gramma straight. Although it may not be oh-so typical to use hair barrettes in a horse's mane, as far as Zo is concerned, its standard practice. Just like wearing your toque at the kitchen table. Take that rule book.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What She Should Be...

I know that I posted this before, a long time ago, but I just re-visited it, and it struck just as powerfully now as it did then. I hope Zo can grow up this strong...can juggle this much perspective...I hope Zoey never needs to apologize to the little girl that she once was...that she still is. I wish, as a father, that I could ever have this much impact on her as Maya del Valle may have here with a million young women. Wow...that's some powerful poetry.

Brubeck From Woo to You...and Me

I'm kind of a closet jazz geek. My good friend Ally posted this Dave Brubeck link today and then I binged on Brubeck for the next three hours straight. I've got a serious Wynton Marsalis addiction, and I could probably cue up about three Josh Redman albums up one right after the other. Whenever we're in New York my favorite part is how I can just twist the radio dial and every third station is blowing the best jazz within a thousand miles. When we were living in Brooklyn that summer there was a lot of jazz. Here, at home, it slips into my days and weeks whenever the sun goes down. When the sun is shining I find myself listening to a hundred other things, but when the sky gets dark, and especially if I'm driving some long, lonely bit of road...the horns softly blow, and the smile softly grows, and I could drive all night... which on a completely unrelated note reminds me of one of the best Springsteen songs ever.

Everyone's a closet geek for something...everyone. Let it out, indulge it...kick that closet door wide open. I've got me some more good ones but that's for an entirely other post.

Thanks Woo. You filled my head with horns today and that was wicked nice.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Next Natalie Coughlin...Day 1

Dad Zo swimming lessons

Today was Zo's first swimming lesson, and as we were hoping (translation: expected) that she was awesome...all smiles, super excited to be there...listening...following instructions...staying cool while the little boy in her class was busy freaking out. She never once looked for Mom or Dad, in fact, she could have cared less that we were even in the building. She blew bubbles, and patiently waited for her turn. She was brilliant, and we are embarrassingly, sickeningly proud. Step one toward learning how to avoid sinking! The Olympics are a cool goal but we're really just focused on that not sinking part.

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Friend Jason...

This is what I like about my friend Jason...He is becoming himself more and more everyday. There are no more influences. He has no desire to impress or find approval. He is his own man, and does what he chooses. He hasn't the hubris to hide his affections away, or pretend to be something that he's not. He likes storms and wants to chase them, and doesn't care if you know about it, or what you think about it. He hasn't always been that way. His sensitivity, and uniqueness used to be the worst kept secret of his entire group of age old friends. Problem was the people that it was a secret to were the ones he thought that he was closest to. These days he blogs about being a father. He feels no embarrassment about doting on his girls or about slathering his son with love. He's a man, a 100% unabashed, unapologetic man, and a good one at that.

Why am I writing this? I dunno. I just read a blog post in which he pledged his lifelong dream to chase storms and it was much more than a testosterone fueled, dangerous adventure type was sweet. How emasculating is it for me to call a friend's sentiments sweet? Very, but they are. So many of us give up hope on our dreams, and rarely share them with anyone for fear of being mocked, or being found foolish. Not Jason, he wants to chase storms. I think I wanna go with him. I think my point in typing all of this is that I think that Jason is helping to reshape exactly what a man is supposed to be, regardless of who's watching, or judging, and I wish I had more of that to bask in everyday. Ignoring all of the other voices so that you can hear your own more clearly is an impressive thing.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Dreams That You Dream Of...

I want a life that feels the way Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole sounds. I want it to be lyrically accurate too...ukulele and everything. I figure all it takes is a good measure of magic, and the most sincere, genuine heart I can muster. That's my intention for the coming year. I want it to feel that song in my every waking the soundtrack to my sleeping. I don't just want an ordinary life. I want a beautiful one. I want to start sowing the seeds of the most surreal years that we can muster. I don't know where I'll my own house, perhaps, with my own daughter and wife. I hope that I manage it awkwardly already, but I want to be much more deliberate about it. I can start with my relationships with others...I can galvanize them, and make known the depth of my affections. I can bring home flowers and spend more time outside. I can soak the girls that live here with an inexhaustible amount of love and patience and respect. I can be better. I can start with that.

It's gonna be a good year.

Sunday at the Beach

Zedder exploring the Canatara Park and the beach - January 2012

Beach days are our favorite...especially in January...especially with a bright and precocious almost-three year old skipping in and out of all that sunshine. Especially when we've got our camera with us, and especially when strangers offer to take our photo.

January Beach Family Pic 2012 copy
Strangers take good pictures - Our first family shot of 2012.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saturday Morning

Zed's asleep. June's stirring in the kitchen. I should be showered and ready to get out of town. I'm not. I will be soon. We're going to pick up some packages today, hit Ikea so that the basement gets a little more useful, and then I'm going to get a ladder and crawl onto the roof to seal a chimney I couldn't care less about sealing. I'm going to try to listen to music in the car today, if Zoey lets know, it interrupts her talking and that's just not something she's willing to tolerate. I'm going to think of something to do tomorrow. It would be nice if any of the people that we knew on this planet ever called our house, like ever, because I'm so totally done with trying to pull them into something interesting to do.

I'm particularly pre-occupied with wondering why bands and artists must play their shows on random week nights rather than weekends because I can't go see you at the Lager House in Detroit on a Wednesday night because I have to drive an hour and a half in the cold darkness first thing Thursday morning to listen to a kid cry about how he got kicked out of his house the night before. That doesn't sound fun, and so neither does your stupid mid-week show. It's a painful pre-occupation I've been enjoying for the past few years. I don't know why it's resurfaced this morning but it has, so there you have it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to wash my hard to reach places leisurely, and in quiet solitude. Then I'm going to wake Zoey up, and then I'm going to go to another country and tease people that look funny. I'm also going to eat swedish meatballs and drink Lingenberry juice, and maybe drape my wife with public displays of affection while also behaving badly in that same public space, you know, so that she doesn't get spoiled. I hope you have a good Saturday. I'm going to go about mine gently, with a steaming hot cup of awesome in my hand to remind me that life can taste as good as it feels.

Friday, January 6, 2012

We Almost Lost Detroit...

It's Friday night, and, yes, you're welcome. Here's Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. singing the classic Gil-Scott Heron number at one of my most favorite music venues in North America, West Hollywood's, Troubadour. If you do nothing else at 3am when you get home drunk and starving for some awesomeness, watch this. You can thank me later. I can wait.

Then knock yourself out by scanning this list of the greatest cover songs of all time...that's right drunk boy...ALL TIME. Again, you can thank me at your convenience.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect...or Painful, Either/Or


Zed and I headed back to the rink today for another go at skating...or hockey as Zo calls it. She used to have almost no affinity for any sport really. She cheered for Michigan no matter who was playing, or what they were playing, and she tended to call everything football, but ask her now and she'll squeal about how much she loves hockey.


She's getting the hang of it...slowly, and sometimes I forget that she's not yet three years old. She's doing good. She's having fun. What more could we be expecting? At one point she fell and quickly busted into making snow angels so all hope is not lost, she's still easily distracted.


We might still be able to avoid spending almost every winter weekend on dark, snowy roads, and in cold, crowded arenas. Snow angels are hope...scant hope, but hope.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hey...Why Does She Get To Wear a Helmet at the Dinner Table!?

Zed with dinner helmet

Someone is pretty smitten with her new hockey much so that she needed to wear it at the dinner table. And of course, why wouldn't you need a helmet at dinner? Don't be ridiculous, it makes perfect sense. Do we always indulge our daughter in such a manner...uhmm, yeah, probably too much. Still...who says helmets aren't for dinner? Close minded communist types I bet...and druids...probably druids for sure. Maybe even anarchists...wait, no, not anarchists, but druids for sure, I bet.

Sugar Bowl Comparisons and Tolerant Roommates

I'm not always the best man that I can be, and sometimes I'm even ashamed of myself. I can swing for the fences on issues that deserves bunts, or better yet, base-on-balls, but there is no Superman cape, as my friend Bill so reminded me today, and I shouldn't beat myself, or others up over anything.

Today I slipped into a frustrating day on two or three hours of sleep, a resurgence of what I thought was my rapidly retreating cold, and a sick little girl with the runniest nose of all time. I was snappy, and even sh!%ty to my wife, and muttered enough nonsense to myself that even Zoey told me to, "stop being so frustrated." So I stopped...or I tried to. In response to a text message from June I apologized for being a turd, and I apologized to Zo for something similar, and then got busy trying to remind myself that I'm as fallible as the next guy, perhaps even more so because I'm so loose with my lips and rants. It's just a plain fact of life that sometimes you look like Michigan did beating Virginia Tech in the Sugar crap. I still came home to a patient, loving and I don't know why, but forgiving wife, and spent the day with a testy but still beautiful daughter, and the sun was shining all the while. Sometimes you win even when you shouldn't.

The Smallest Bit of Wisdom and the Biggest Lesson Learned

Zed and Sheep
Zed visiting her favorite sheep before moving on to some pretty impressive turkey appreciation.

Today we visited the Animal Farm and Zed was pretty desperate to feed the ponies and their donkey pals some apples. Before we got to them, however, we stopped to visit the sheep, and then some turkeys and ducks and chickens. At one point one of the turkeys approached us and got very close. Off-handedly I said how ugly I thought he was. Zo got pretty offended and looked up to chastise me.

"He's not ugly Daddy," she said emphatically. "I think he's beautiful."

"Beautiful," I retorted.

"Yeah Daddy, he's beautiful. I like his feathers, they're pretty."

"What about his face. His face isn't very pretty," I said.

"It doesn't matter Daddy," she sweetly cooed. "He's still beautiful."

Lesson learned. Thanks Zo.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A First Time For Everything

Dad Zed skating Jan 2012

After 770 days of breathing her own oxygen and eating from things other than an umbilical cord, Zoey Sakura skates. She is two years and eleven months old with wickedly strong ankles.

It's a sorta sweet story that starts with her Uncle B scoring her first pair of skates from the same wood stove warmed, and oh-so welcoming skate sharpening shed as her Dad and himself had. When we were children we remembered driving into town so that Dad could get his skates sharpened at Frank Dymock's. Back then we didn't know who Frank was, just that his shop was a converted garage, and that it glowed with heat and kindness.

Franks shop had walls full of pucks nailed flat to the wood, racks of hockey sticks and dozens of old skates scattered amoungst the wooden duck decoys that he carved when business was slow...but it was never slow. We got excited to watch the sparks fly when Frank turned his back and got busy sharpening Dad's skates, and we were always a little confused when he took money from the visitors before us but never from my Dad. Eventually his hands gently held all of our skates and worked them through that giant old sharpener, and of course, my brother and I never once paid for the service either. Customers would come and go, some would pay...maybe most, and some would not. We never did.

As we grew from boys into young men we learned that Dad never paid for Frank's services across the span of his life. It turns out that Frank had watched my father grow from the wily little street urchin that he was to a sturdy little hockey player and then a man with his own little urchins. It made sense then that the new little twin urchins didn't pay either, and he watched those twins grow into sturdy little hockey players too. About the only money that ever changed hands was for a last minute stick, perhaps, or some tape. To say that Frank was the kindest keeper of the game would be falling short of the role he played in our lives and a lot of other lives.

By the time Junior hockey rolled around all you needed to do was throw your skates on an old hockey stick in the dressing room and one of the trainers or managers would run the skates over to Frank's shop for their daily or weekly tune ups. I never once fed that old broken Louisville through the blades of my skates. I took them to Frank myself, if only just to walk into that warm shop, and chat with the man whom I was quickly starting to understand was a legend. I don't know how old Frank is, I only know that his shop is warm, and his kindness is even warmer. There were stories that he once played against Gordie Howe, and that he learned his lessons the hard way and found the fastest path back to his hometown that he could. Maybe they were true, and maybe they weren't? It didn't much matter. Frank was a legend to us regardless. All of my friends had similar stories...Johnny T, Kenny, dozens of us. Frank watched generation after generation of small town hockey players grow up into fathers that brought their own children back to that warm garage. During those raucous junior contests it wasn't unusual to look up into the crowd and see Frank standing there watching "his boys". It distracted you and made you wonder who was stoking the stove while he was gone?

Last year Uncle B walked into Frank's shop and told him that his brother had a daughter now...that I was finally back, close to home, and that I wanted her to start skating. He asked Brad what her name was, and then asked how I was doing, and what exactly I was doing...information for his own blossoming family tree of boys and men who he watched grow up. Brad told him all the details...some he already knew, and some he didn't. After taking it all in he smiled and asked Zoey's age and shoe size. Brad told him and then Frank rummaged through a few racks of used skates, searching for the right size and fit, and as Brad tells it, the best pair. He emerged from the dusty piles of well worn memories with Zoey's first pair of skates. A good looking pair of used Bauer Callengers, size 8. They would turn out to be skates that would never find their way back into a used pile ever again...a shelf in Dad's office perhaps, but never another pile of old skates. And so, after thirty-six years Frank put another pair of skates on yet another DeWagner, and perhaps the first Partridge...for certain the first little child with Yamaya genes... and now her Dad's heart may just be warmer than that old skate shop ever was.

Thanks Uncle B...and thanks Frank, for everything.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year From Zed and Co.

Photo 130

Wishing you all the most amazing 2012 you can imagine. Our intention is to knock it flat on it's @$%, and walk away smiling. We have every indication to believe that the next year is going to bring us some sturdy good times.

Thanks for everything that everyone did for and with us in 2011, and apologies to the people we didn't spend enough time with last year, or that we wished we managed to enjoy more. Let's fix that in twenty 12.

Mucho love and affection, and all of the mushy, sappy crap we can muster. If you're reading this there's a good chance we love you more than any silly blog post can articulate.

Merry Christmas...on Film

Zo helping to make Grandad's infamous shortbread cookies...a near famous family recipe.

With half the parenting team literally out of commission this Christmas we ended up with less photos than we might normally have had if both of us were fully functioning, healthy human beings. Still, we snapped a few...


Zed's Aunt Netta was home from the wide wet West, and Zo milked the most from her Christmas visit...or perhaps it was quite the opposite, Aunt Netta was milking the most out of her excited niece?


Best present of the entire holiday season? It would be a contentious issue but it's all about perspective...from her parents...this friggin' hat! From Zoey's perspective...maybe her new dump truck.


My vote is with the hat.