Tuesday, July 31, 2012

One of the Coolest Things Ever...

Dominique Pegg - Team Canada

This is Dominique Pegg, from Sarnia, and Team Canada.  She works out at Zoey's gymnastics club...or perhaps we should say that Zed works out at Dominique Pegg's club!  Pretty cool any way you slice it. The funniest part is that Zo will probably be taller than Dominique and out of gymnastics by the time she's ten years old.  That's when she starts looking to Missy Franklin and her size 13 feet for inspiration.

Meet Aunt Netta World Peace...

Aunt Netta World Peace

The newest family pet has a pretty unique name, certainly a tad better than the last Betta fish that we enjoyed...Rasheed.  It does seem, however, that we have a habit of naming Beta fish after basketball players.  Aunt Netta World Peace is, of course, a mash-up of an NBA idiot and Zed's mucho appreciated Aunt Anette.  We like it.

The list of fish names in this house has been pretty ridiculous...

First there was Richard Millhouse Nixon...or Dick, for short.  His tank partner was Eddie...more formally acknowledged as Edgar Winter, whom we believe was eventually consumed by his only friend Richard Millhouse Nixon.  A turn of events that would surprise no one who ever knew Tricky Dick. Then there were Lenny & Squiggy, who met a similar fate to Eddie.  Eventually Dick's tricky ways led to his sudden demise and subsequent flush (mourned by no one).  Lastly, there is Booger.  A first rate algae eater with a longevity akin to Nolan Ryan.  He's still hanging on in a bowl all to himself.

If we do one thing right around here it's naming fish...and disposing of them.

Monday, July 30, 2012

I Love This Kid...

Missy Franklin

I love this kid...Zoey, are you paying attention to this?  The cute part is that she is.  She's totally stoked to watch the "swimming races" every night, and even wears one of Dad's old medals on top of her PJs each night.

Sigh.  Sometimes I wish I was three again...or seventeen.  Go Missy go.

What a Long Strange Trip...


Wednesday would have been Jerry Garcia's 70th birthday.  It matters almost nil to some, but somehow means a lot to me, but very likely, not for reasons you might imagine.  I don't remember the exact time that I first heard a Grateful Dead song, and I wouldn't wander within thirty feet of LSD.  I'm no flower child wanna-be, and I have a firm understanding of how harsh and un-loving that Summer of Love actually was.  I'm no musician, and the smell of patchouli...well, I actually kind of like the smell of patchouli.  For some reason, I have a heart warming, life affirming affinity for Jerry that defies explanation...but I'll try.

Jerry meant a lot of things to a lot of people, but what he came to represent more than anything else was that a guy could make it without hurting a soul...that a guy could have dreams and values and perhaps even ridiculously naive beliefs but still never, ever trade them in for cynicism and hopelessness.  He started out as a musician but ended up as hope...hope for a heck of a lot of people.

I like to hear his voice.  It doesn't sound like any other.  It's soothing, it is.  If you've never heard him talk at length about something, find it, download it, and listen.  I guarantee it soothes you.  You'd like to have known him.  Maybe he lived down the block from you, or you met him each night on the street walking home from work, and you exchanged small talk.  He looked dramatically unaffected by the world, and that alone makes you desperate to sponge a little more Jerry after even just the smallest dose.  I wish I was unaffected.  The fact of the matter is I'm always so damn dramatically "affected" by things.  I wish I were a cooler soul, a calmer man, but the truth is that away from my work, I'm not.  I lean on people a lot.  Perhaps it's that I use up all of my faith in a day, or maybe it's just that for once, I want someone to look out for me.  I don't know, but I do know that there's something about Jerry that eases me back into faith...that ignites a hope in me that sometimes fades, and it's oh-so important to me.

It seems as though I've spent all of my life searching for that kind of balance...the yin to my yang...that sounded awful.  It's true.  I've spent an inordinate amount of time searching for people who can serve as that kind of balancing pole that the Great Walenda used to span gaping stretches of high wire.  I need shelter, and comfort, and reassurance, and Jerry always did that for me, even before I found it in another person.  I've always laughed at my neediness. I'd make a terrible soldier, and perhaps an even worse Olympic athlete.  I get rattled, and I get shaken, and I need outlets to release energy, emotions and most awkwardly, faithlessness.  I expect that the universe will treat me fairly if I do the same to others but the fact of the matter is, and I've always known it, there is no such thing as fair.  Life is just life, that's all.  Jerry helps me to forget that.

So if you couldn't possibly care any less about Jerry's birthday, that's fine.  To each his odd own.  You could however tip your cap to faith, in whatever form it takes, and to hope, however it manifests itself.  You could take a moment to find a clip of Jerry and just see what that voice and that demeanor do to you.  For me it's always dried eyes, and filled lungs, and lifted my chin.  I think what gets me most about it all is that it helps me to believe that maybe, just maybe, some of us here on this cold and unsentimental earth are awfully unique and pretty special...that perhaps some people are just better.  That notion eases me in, if nothing else can.

Happy Birthday Jerry.

Is It Just Me Or Is This Picture Frightening?

Zo lacrosse shot

Zed has got some kind of game face when she pulls out of her bikini.  Looks like she just blasted one that missed the net by a mile and is not happy with herself.  Nice flip flops BTW...kinda dulls down the intimidation factor a little (as if the bikini didn't).


It's nearly August and it's been a dreadful summer.  I'm starting to feel as though summer just isn't my season.  We're recovering from all ailments around here slowly...and by we I mean me.  I just haven't had it in me to blog.  Sorry.  I've felt buggered and awful and have been barely squeezing life out of most days...Sound dramatic?  It's because it feels like it.  It's just been hit after hit, after hit, and I'm tired and sore, and frustrated, and a little (or a lot) beaten down.  I've lost weight, that's for sure.  I feel weak and about half the guy I was, and a most recent bout with a small flu-like virus has me at wits end.  It's not fair, and I'll say it out loud with no regard for how spoiled I sound.  It's just not fair.  I can take a lot, but one thing immediately right after the other, while the rest of the functioning world enjoys themselves is not fun.  Not good.  I'm not happy.  I don't even recognize this guy.

Trying desperately to pull myself together since there is a baby due in the next three weeks, but I'm having a hard time finding any point in hoping that this or that will find some resolution.  Seriously...does that even sound like me?  I'm that frustrated, and that defeated.  I'll just tackle every day, and talk myself into action, because inaction is for idgits, and it's about the only way we manage this run of bad luck.  

Day by day...and that might not include blogging because as my Mom used to say, if you can't say anything nice...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Summer of Our Discontent...

My phone broke.  Surely there are depressed and suicidal teens texting a phone that doesn't even work right now...that's the important part, the mild annoyance is that I can neither communicate with anyone or snap any pics of Zed and her summer shinanigans.  That part  means very little, but still, worth noting.

It's week three of tooth pain, and dentist's saying, "wait to see if the nerve settles down," which is frustrating.

The knee is good.

The back is far better.

The neck strain and inflamed glands, gone.

But this tooth pain...ugh.

The grand total of weeks all buggered up begins back in April.  Three months...three long months of NSAIDs, pain meds, ice packs, sleeping on the couch, muscling through work, and now camp, and now there's a baby coming...very close indeed.  Somehow, I need to not be in pain when that happens.

June is at term this coming Thursday, and our due date is approximately three and a half weeks away so I'd better get crackin' on that chore.

Anyone know a witchdoctor?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Converse For Everyone...

Daddy Daughter Chucks

Standard Chuck Taylor sneakers for Zed.  Jack Purcell Converse for Dad.  And the whole damn world is our oyster...even if that doesn't sound all that great.  Who wants a friggin' oyster anyway? I'll just take the Converse.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Camp Zed Tie Dying...A Tradition

Zo washing out tie dye

In the first year of Camp Zed we tie dyed t-shirts on Jerry Garcia's birthday.  This year we tie dyed them on the hottest day of the year because being outside and attempting any kind of activity with any kind of ambition was a bad idea.  So, the not so old Camp Zed philosophy reared it head...when it gets unbearable outside, tie dye stuff.  It's easy to do. Zo loves it. I love it.  We feel productive, even if we're really just hiding out in the air conditioning.

The only problem us we used year-old dye and now I think I've got a couple of pink tie dye shirts to rotate in and out of my summer  As if the tie dye alone doesn't say enough about you.

Two Girls...Three Phones...

Zed Avery three phones

Our thirteen year old niece, Avery, spent a few days hanging with Camp Zed this past week.  The help was nice what with a half dozen different appts scheduled willy nilly throughout the week.  My favorite part was watching the bind between girls no matter what age, and how one thirteen year old, and one three year old can use three cell phones.  Impressive.

Sick and Tired...Very Tired.

There's been a lot less blogging this summer, mostly because it's been a rough, rough summer.  It began with knee rehab, which in turn led to a back and neck strain, and then countless chiropractor and doctors visits, then headaches and then some pretty good tooth pain, followed by dentists visits.  The end result is a tender, delicate feeling back, residual tooth pain, and more rehab appts.  I have a feeling more dentists appts are looming.  It's been a rough July.

So if we're not posting the way we typically post, it's likely because we're flat on our back wishing that the world would show us some mercy and sympathy.  Be patient.  We're trying to be.

In Over Your Head...

Zed swimming lessons 1

Zoey failed Sea Otter.  She didn't really care, nor did she even really know that she did.  She got a piece of paper just like everyone else, and it was covered in stickers, just like everyone else's.  She's three, what's she care?  She doesn't.  So when it came time to register her for swimming lessons in the summer, they offered no Sea Otter level at the pool we were taking her to.  "That's okay, she can do Salamander.  She'll likely fail, but so what.  It's every day and she'll get a lot more comfortable." Sounded good to us.  She's three, what do we care?  But some people do, oh my, do some people ever care.

Just a few weeks before Zed was supposed to start her new lessons, at an outdoor pool -- every day for two weeks -- we ran into one of the parents of one of the girls in her last swim class.  She urged us to get back in touch with the centre, and that they were offering summer lessons after all (they weren't planning on it initially), and that Zo could still register.  She'd pass her levels there because the instruction was better.  She should be a legitimate Salamander.

Zed swimming lessons 2

First, no she shouldn't.  She didn't like dunking her head under water, and she wasn't all that great at the one meter front floats.  She didn't pass Sea Otter because she didn't do all that was required.  Done.  If she's going to pass a level we want it to be legit.  This isn't shot putting, it's swimming.  The one sport where you can die if you don't get it right.

Second, we don't care what level she's at.  We just want her to swim good, and to swim confidently...and to really swim.  No leaning on life jackets, googles, and floaties...just swimming.

Her new teacher is very attentive and good.  Zo's the smallest, youngest, and obviously, least experienced in her class, but she's having fun, and her boundaries are getting pushed, and if she fails, she fails.  No biggie.  She's learning.

Parents are freaks?  Three and a half year olds don't much care.  I'll hang out with the three and a half year olds...they're in it for the right reasons. Salamander schmalamander.  Zo dunks herself now when no one asks, just for fun.  In the end she'll still get a piece of paper full of stickers, and that'll be the coolest thing ever for her, which is cool enough for us.  Well, that and the head dunk thing.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Busy Day Links...Which Kind of Means That Maybe It's Not So Busy

Sometimes you can wake up early to call the Dentists office and be rewarded with both an appointment AND time to just sit and quietly type nonsensical links up for your friends.  So I suppose God does exist, I'm just gambling that he looks different than you've been telling me.

Practically the only reason I ever watched soccer.

Playing this game with Zo next time we're in the city.

A pretty great reminder to stay in the moment.

C'mon ladies.  I know you want to.  There's a five year old in you just freaking out at the idea of this.

Pull this up every time you need to.  It's comforting, and I hope you feel it every day.

Passed this on to a friend of mine who fell from a Patagonia catalogue.  Looks kind of awesome.

This is how I feel today so pack a lunch if you're planning on taking me down in the next twelve hours.  Of course, I also feel a little like this too. Does that mean I'm complex?  Probably not.

For some stupid reason this makes me smile.

This made me smile firs thing this morning.

Find a song on YouTube, copy and paste it here...enjoy it later.  It's been my larcenous secret for at least a year now. Time to share.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Uncle B and Me...

Zoey and Uncle B

Zed loves her Uncle Brad, she does.  She doesn't get as comfy with most other men as she does with Uncle B.  It helps that he looks a little like her Dad, and I'm sure there are some similar mannerisms etc...all wrapped up in a different, intriguing, and super strange curious package.

Being a twin has some really strange side effects, one of them being that your child literally has to figure the difference out between you and your sibling.  It's a difficult thing to explain, but once it all shakes out, and Dad and Uncle are obviously separate and unique people, it gets kinda cool.  Cool enough for Instagram.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Captain Hook and Pirate Bay

Zed tipi

When you're all gimped up and absolutely incapable of parenting like a champ, you build a tipi in your daughter's room, download some movies, and pull up a pillow.  At least, that's what I did.  This afternoon we watched James and the Giant Peach followed immediately by our 741st viewing of Peter Pan.  I don't care where you're from, that's a good afternoon.

Daddy Zo tipi

This afternoon also firmly established that next Halloween Zed will be Wendy...Daddy will be John...and Mummy will dress up as Tiger Lilly, the Indian Princess.  That's the straight dope from Zed's  own lips.  Apparently she's a bit of a planner, you know, what with Halloween being three and a half months away.  Too much time around Grandma, I think.

Anyway, this is what parenting looks like when you're back is buggered.  Thank you Pirate Bay.

Gimped Up Links...Me That's Gimped, Not the Links. They're Solid

I'm not in the business of running track meets or even picking up things that I've dropped on the ground, but I can link the sh!t out an afternoon still...

I feel very strongly as though I must eat here, and here, and soon.

Just found out that I get to hang out with this badass lady in the Fall. Surprised that I'm as flat out excited as I am, but trust me, I'm ridiculously excited!

I'd like to own these pillows.

Can I just say that I love browsing through the New York Times? Love it.

"It was as if I'd entered a BBQ time machine." Coolest quote from the coolest story I've read in awhile.

Just ordered these...yes, all of them.  Proceed to slander.

Fun discussion. Even more fun looking movie.

Zed's Grandad is rockin' an even better mustache than the Dead's, Bob Weir these days, and everyone loves it!

Weirdest thing ever, but I sure wish that I'd found it first.

This dude here is right up some of my buddies alley...Scotty, Dusty, and Jimmy, take note. Apparently "Guns and Tacos" are a good combo.

Speaking of Taco.  I cannot wait for this guy to run out of the tunnel. I think I'll need a new jersey.

Extraordinary isn't even the right word.

Very, very cool.  I'd sell your kidneys to see this.

Zoey wants a treehouse.  I vote for this one, but a quick search for plans will paralyze you.

Why am I not going to this. It'd be a blast.

And someday this will be my house, and my daughter hanging out.

Nothing Says Love Like...

Pops and rubber dinghy - Ipperwash Beach 2012

Nothing says love like a sixty-two year old man blowing up an inflatable rubber dingy with a hole in it so that his granddaughter can use it for a whole fifteen minutes.  Maybe there are better images to articulate the concept, but that's a pretty good one.

On Thursday Camp Zed invaded Ipperwash Beach...wait, invaded probably isn't the most prudent use of language considering it's Ipperwash...Camp Zed meandered up to Ipperwash Beach on the shores of beautiful Lake Huron and commenced to getting it's groove on.  We visited Zed's grandpa, Pops, and generally mulled about doing not much of anything except playing on the beach.

Pops and Zoey - Ipperwash Beach July 2012

If you've never been to Ipperwash Beach then I just feel sorry for you.  You can drive out with your car, stake a claim on a sweet spot no less than a few feet from the water, set up a tent, a shelter, an umbrella, whatever...and enjoy your day.  It's a beauty day if there ever was such a thing.

Jeep and Zed - Ipperwash Beach July 2012

It was a nice way to spend a day at camp whilst Dad is recovering from more setbacks in his rehab.  It seems that rarely does one instrument play without the whole orchestra joining in, and so while the knee is improving, gait and posture, rehab efforts etc...have left my back, neck and shoulders tight, and out-of whack.  Chiropractic visits and stretching, and NSAIDs, and even a visit to the doctor to check on what seemed to be an inflamed lymph node or thyroid in my neck have all taken their toll and left Camp Zed's Director and only staff a flimsy shell of himself.   He even had a billion (okay, twelve) needles sticking out of him yesterday in an effort to remedy some of the madness.  Regardless, day trips in which others can help with the weighty task of delivering Camp Zed awesomeness has been a life saver.  A visit to Pops and Ipperwash Beach was just that, and a hundred times more as it was just nice to see Grandpa and Granddaughter having fun.  My father used to get into hockey fights for fun, and now he blows up inflatable beach toys (with holes) for excited little girls.  It's a weird, weird life, but a good one.

Now, if we can just get Daddy all back together in one solid piece. I'm not the least it interested in my story ending like Humpty-Dumpty's did.  There's the business of camp to run.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

We Live Here...

Top of Sarnia

A friend from Nebraska once raved to us about how blue the water was here, and sometimes we forget how amazing it is.  There aren't many places where the water glows as blue as it does here.  Zo sure loves it.

Zed top of Sarnia

She took this week to discover a place high above the mouth of the St. Clair River as it opens up to Lake Huron. It was awesome.  She just trudged up the hill and as I raised my voice into the wind to reel her in and WHAM..."Daddy, come look!"  Uhmm, okay.  Awesome view Zed.  Nice work ignoring your Dad just this once.

I have to remind myself every now and again that we live here.  and that it's pretty great.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

By The Way...

Camp Zed-mobile

This is how we roll at Camp Zed.  Exactly like this, only not typically in such an Instagram haze.

How About You Shut Up and Listen To This Stuff...

Try taking Sunday nights back by listening to music that you've never heard...maybe stealing some of it...for sure by passing it on to the masses, especially if the artists themselves are cool enough to be just giving it away.  Try doing that and then tell me how you feel on Monday a friggin' Saint I bet.  Go on, try it. It's easy.  I'll show you.

Take Summer Cult, for example.  This fresh breeze of a band from Syracuse makes me desperate for a studio version of the song embedded above, Touch Me.  Since I couldn't find it posted on Soundcloud I'll just have to pray to the MP3 gods to grant me my wish.  Fun interview and polished track here. These four funsters seem super cool and I want them to live in a house down the street.

Or maybe you should cue up, The Little Indians, and let them ease you into the early hours of Monday morning.  There have been worse ideas.

Of course, we're not above listening to a band that no longer exists.  In fact, they're no longer existing directly gave us the band above.  So it goes.  Nevertheless, enjoy.  You still listen to Milli Vanilli don't you?  Don't you?

Toothpaste Kisses just kind of sounds like summer, so what are you waiting for.  The Maccabees don't care if you gobble up all their awesomeness.  In fact, I bet they want you to gobble up all of their awesomeness.  I'd bet my left thumb that they do.

Just tonight I became a big fan of Dog Eared Summer by Brite Futures.  If this song can't get your head bobbing a little, well, perhaps you're dead.  It's entirely possible.  I'm not much into Electronica, but on this specific occasion I'm all in.

It's not much but it's like, you know, a start and stuff.  Now go out and get your own.  I found all of this stuff in one place.  I swear I did.  I already linked to it, way back there, the Summer Cult link on Ithaca College's Vic Radio blog.  I used to listen to Vic constantly, and then I forgot about them, kinda like literally half of my friends, and then I found them again...kinda like half my friends.  It's what I do.

No TV tonight. No reading...well okay, very little reading...just new music adventuring.  This is the summer of breaking bad habits, and it starts by doing the things that make me smile, and this made me smile.  Enjoy.

Oh-So Easily One of My Top Ten Most Favorite Photos Ever

Harmon & Simon on the loose at Assembly Hall

This is Harmon & Simon, and that, of course, is Assembly Hall at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN.  That's the same court where Bobby Knight famously chucked a chair, and also head butted a kid.  The history of the place just gives you chills...and if that wasn't enough then there's our friends, Kevin and Aimee's two little funsters running around like Steve Alford and Damon Bailey...uninhibited, largely ignorant of their surroundings...just a couple of happy boys running around a gleaming basketball court, you know, a place where they play basketball, oblivious to the church that it is.  Awesome. So endlessly awesome.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Famous, or Perhaps Infamous, Puslinch Burger @ The Old Marina Restaurant

Puslinch Burger

I ate this less than 48 hours ago, and it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be.  Is that bad? It might be bad.

Uhmmm, So This Isn't Quite The Way Things Should Be

Iced leg Burlington

Trip to Ikea with wife (Burlington Ikea kinda sucks BTW).

Three hours of walking.

$80 of stuff we probably didn't need.

Proud of our discipline.

List of potential future purchases.

Swollen S.

Giant zip lock bag packed just for this purpose.

Stolen ice from Lingenberry pop dispenser station.

Knee iced the way you're supposed to ice a knee.


First Official Day of Camp Zed

Camp Zed flag 2012

I don't know what you do all summer long, but I go to camp. So does Zed, and by the end of each day we're both cooked.  Today was the first official day of Camp Zed and it took June all of five minutes to get Zed to sleep.  We made flags, played at the Spray Park, enjoyed Zoey's first Slurpee ever...played and played and played.  I can't believe I get to do this each summer.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Perfect Summer Record Etc...

From PASTE Magazine:

"Ah, the ever-elusive “perfect summer record.” Every year, every time spring gives way to blistering heat, the search for the next best soundtrack to summer recommences.
This summer, Chicago-by-way-of-Los Angeles quintet Gold Motel is making a strong stand for the title, at least in the pop category. The band’s 12-track, self-titled sophomore release surges with pretty girl-boy harmonies and vintage reverb effects, and yet, it’s all grounded with an indie practicality."

So what are you waiting for?  I found the LP on Pirate Bay so you don't even have the shoddy excuse of not wanting to pay for some random recommendation, or wanting to avoid some costly musical experiment based on Brian's stupid, oft slanted and shamelessly pop influenced opinion.  Go get it, sneak away for a drive up the beach, roll the windows down and play it reasonably loud, enough to drown out the wind, and then thank me later.

That's what I'm gonna do...on my way to pick up our daughter from Gramma Camp where she's been having desperate amounts of fun on farms and in swimming pools, at lacrosse games, and chilling with her cousins, Zed freaks, both of 'em. She's gonna miss them.

We're eager to see her.  It's been 48 hours plus and we're jonesing for some Zoey.  We're hard core addicts and are in need of a fix.  She couldn't care less, and very likely hasn't breathed our names all week.  I don't think summer camp goodbyes are ever going to be an issue.

Have a glorious Friday all.  Be back later.  I think we're gonna drum up some ridiculous fun today...'cause what else should we be doing? Oh, that's right, letting Gold Motel take root in our brains.

Gramma Camp

Zed Aunt Cheryl  - July 2012

While Daddy was recovering from a small orthopedic setback this first week following school, and Mom was busy working, Zed slipped off to Gramma Camp to hang out with her cousins, ride horses, play with goats, and generally not give two loose s#!%s whether she ever see us again.  Swear to God, not a single call or mention of our names the entire three days.  I guess we can know what to expect in college.

Thanks Gramma...and thanks to you too Aunt Cheryl, we couldn't have gotten all that farm animal entertainment anywhere else!   BTW...nice hat.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Two Incredible Syllables

It's not until she's gone, off visiting, staying overnight at Baachan's or Grandmas perhaps, that I get really emotional over the sound of her voice.  I remember what holding her hand feels like, and I have a hard time wanting anything more than her sitting in my lap, snug beside me, happy and eager to just be close.  She plays with the hem on my shorts, or a fold in my shirt, and she smiles. She doesn't like t when I tuck her hair behind her ear.  She pulls it back out without giving me as much as a sideways glance.  It's habit now.  Her hair falls in her face, and I clear it away, and she puts it back. Not a word said.

It's difficult to imagine experience without her now.  Why do I want to see mountains or oceans or stars without her?  Why would I want to add something to my life that doesn't get added to hers?  There are people who will tell you that's not healthy, that you shouldn't get so entangled with your child, to which I'll ask, aside from my wife, what else is worthy of such entanglement? I used to sleep in the desert, and wander empty coastline, and stare up at buildings that extended into the sky, and I did it all by myself, and now I can't help but feel the emptiness in all of those experiences.  I didn't share them with anyone. I've spent a good chunk of my early adulthood college, on airplanes, on the road.  I slipped off to Ann Arbor alone, and stumbled away the same.  I declined a job that might have changed my life and instead slipped off to California...alone.  I read June's letters from Japan high on giant Joshua Tree  boulders, or in the darkness of my tent, with a billion desert stars lighting the pages.

I rode busses across an endless America, alone.  I shot solitary free throws on lonely, broken rims in empty places, and I sat in crowded ballparks, and packed airplanes, alone.  I don't know now how I did it...or why.  I know that it helped make me, that it offered me something that people didn't.  I know that Big Sur and Monmartre, and the endless windswept acres across Wyoming and Utah gave me something that I still use.  I know that how I define myself now, what I want, who I am, is in large part a by-product of criss-crossing a country by myself...of awe inspired phone calls home at odd hours, of sleeping in desert bus stop parking lots, and losing myself more than finding anything.  I'm sure of that.  I know that I wouldn't be leaning on the people I am now if I wasn't pushing them all away at point.  I'll need to explain that to Zoey someday and I'll very likely have a difficult time doing so.  I know that if she chooses the same path as I, it will be hard.  I don't know how my Mother managed.  I think sometimes she didn't.  I remember an old black man, a security guard at the Greyhound station in Detroit, meeting me as I stepped from the bus, disheveled and beaten down, broke, and telling me in no uncertain terms that, "you better call your Momma boy.  She's awfully worried."  I managed a smile but wondered quietly if I'd ever been so selfish.  I did all of that alone, and now I can't stand to be apart from my daughter for more than a few hours before I get antsy and emotional...before I miss her.

I think I'll close my eyes when I'm eighty-eight years old, and very likely alone, again...and I'll still be able to hear it just as clearly as I do now..."Daddy."  It's inconceivable how two simple syllables can fill your heart more than if you poured all those Joshua Tree stars into your chest. It's like nothing you could ever ride a bus through, or step out of a tent to.  I get scared of being alone now.  Two syllables.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Come Monday, It'll Be Alright...

Frisciante view - Slane

It's been a Red Hot Chili Peppers day this first day after Canada's birthday.  Not very Canadian, or ambitious, but appropriate.  I think I've left the house three times today, and never wandered further than forty feet from my back door.  It's ice and rest and RHCP today, and there are no arguments from this pale dude.  It's hot as hell outside and cool and easy in here.  I'm hoping to walk tomorrow so it's a fair enough trade.

Zed and June slipped off to Michigan for some groceries and adventure while I stayed home and wasted a perfectly good holiday Monday.  The least I could do whilst wasting away is provide you with some stellar links to peruse...Here you go...

I would maybe sell a foot for this jersey...What? I said maybe.

If you haven't discovered Nina Simone yet, then you're about 40 years too late.

This only feeds the voyeuristic part of my Tegan and Sara infatuation.

In case you weren't already aware, real estate developers suck junk.  This is one of the most fantastic playgrounds around.


I'd totally break into a store, steal one of these, and then risk the repercussions...or I'd just buy it.

Oh this ever going to start some discussions.

Because if you're going to build a backyard tipi, you might as well make it a nice one.

A war's last victim, and 50 years of reflection. Heavy stuff.

So so so so cool.

I'd like to get me some of this.

Seriously interesting.

Kind of a brilliant idea.

Would have been nice if maybe someone had mentioned this to me?

This blog is my version of awesome.

I may have posted this before, if not, I'm sorry.  If I'm posting it for the second time, I'm not the least bit sorry.  I love this place.

Please, if there is a God...just once in my life.

It seems like such simple advice.

We Stand Alone...

Zoey watching lacrosse
Zed watching her cousin, Reece, play lacrosse at the Sarnia Arena - June 2012

Michael Paterniti recently wrote for GQ Magazine...

"For the 10-year-old boy on that Little League field that stretches from coast to coast, baseball can be the cruelest of American-made sports. It's a messy, wonderful, monotonous, Oedipal, sublime wreck of pain and glory.  Between the chalk lines of youth baseball we watch ourselves becoming.  We stand alone, suddenly motherless."

Now that's some writing.  Who writes like that? Michael Paterniti for one, but who sees sports that way?  I do, and  I'm sure that there are a million others, but I find myself perpetually drawn to sport as metaphor, as lyrical prose, as romantic nonsense.  They're more than just games,  but then at their most basic, they're nothing more.

Zo likes to swim, and gymnastics allows her a physical kind of freedom that most playgrounds and parks don't.  She grows confidence in bushels, and she finds friends skipping along the padded floor, or swinging from the uneven bars.  She more recently swung a baseball bat and swatted a teed up soft foam-ball no more than five or six times. She then proceeded to run willy-nilly all over the backyard yelling, "first base...second base...third base...home!" while sprinting in random directions, touching random pseudo-bases, like hammocks and lawn sprinklers and bushes.  It helped me to imagine what kind of challenge teaching her the intricacies of baseball might be.  She has lacrosse sticks, but picks up the ball with her bare hand to set it in the mesh, every time.  She mixes up football and basketball and hockey...even doesn't even have a ball.  She's athletic, and co-ordinated, as much so as any three and a half year old can be, but she's really only sincerely interested in certain pursuits, often Olympic and solitary in swimming, and gymnastics, and running and jumping in Decathalon-like bursts.  It's cute.

"We stand alone, suddenly motherless."

There are really few pursuits beyond the athletic that at such an early age pit child against him or herself, and others...motherless, without parent.  There are valuable lessons to be learned there, ones you can't find reading in your room.  Although admittedly, reading in your room does magical things as well, but it's a different kind of challenge.  Sports is indeed, "a sublime wreck of pain and glory,"...even in such small doses as your typical three year old endures.  They are vital.

Who knows what Zoey will become, if she'll engage in such painful ritual as sport, or if she'll shun such seeming nonsense for more practical indulgences?  Who knows?  All I really know is that I hope that she chases those dreams and all that fun.  It will be something that she does motherless, and if she's really lucky, something that shapes her and adds meaning and definition to her days.

So what if she can't hit a baseball, or could care less about a hoop ten feet off of the ground.  All I really want is that she experience the joys and defeats of it all, and that she do so without us. There's an overwhelming urge for modern parents to mine the solitary nature of sports for their own personal meaning, allowing neither the child or the experience to do the kind of work it's done for centuries.  There's an annoying tendency to get involved, and steer, and help, and in most cases hinder, and we'll avoid all that.  We'll pay the fees, and buy the gear, but we'll let Zoey experience the enterprise.  After all, it's for her, not us.  They're more than just games, but then at their most basic, they're nothing more.

Man Hands and Little Girl Braids

Daddy learning how to braid - July 2012

I've never braided Zo's hair. I've never braided anyone's hair, for that matter.  There kinda has never been the need, you know.  Today I wanted to learn.  Not that it would take much.  I've made about a billion gimp bracelets at camp so how much harder could it know, aside from the fact that what you're braiding is attached to a living, breathing human being?  Turns out that it isn't all that hard.


Now I'm sure that braiding well is a little more difficult, but just the simple task of braiding...cinch.  Of course, there are some subtleties that I could master.  It would be nice to figure out the perfect hair to braid ratio...and naturally, different plots of land on Zed's head certainly must rear different looking braids...there are angles at which you want the braid to fall, and then it gets really complicated when you throw in hair berets and elastics, maybe even a little frightening, but the basic braid...easy peasy.


This whole braid post was really just a simple ruse that allowed me to snap this pic, and post here in reverence.  You can't even see the damn braid, which is a bit hilarious, but it's my blog so I guess I'll post whatever nonsense that I want.

The real hilarity was in seeing my rough looking man hands doing all of that supposedly delicate little girl braiding.  It was anything but delicate.  My God my hands look large and weathered.  Quick, someone pass me some lotion...ahem, excuse me, moisturizer.  Next lesson, French Braids.  I'm a little scared to be perfectly honest. That's a whole new level of ulra-cool emasculation that I'm just not sure I'm up for.  Oh, I'm down for it, just maybe not up to the task.  Those are some big fingers after all. There's no amount of gentleness that makes up for large hands. None.


It will be seven weeks this Wednesday since my knee surgery.  I was doing good...limping, icing, still sometimes some swelling and stiffness...nowhere near 100%, but good. Then yesterday reminded me that I'm not working hard enough, that my body will do it's own business when it wants to, and that this is going to take a long, long time.  Today I'm barely walking, so I'll rest, and ice, and try to avoid getting angry or upset about it. It's been a frustrating process.

Humility comes easy when you're obviously not as good as others.  It's a simple task, this quiet deference to the walking world, and the ripples extend out affecting so much of everything else.  I've been finding it awfully hard to be my usual self in the middle of working and waiting for change.  I'm hesitant...I'm only rarely enthusiastic...I'm often very negative...I'm jealous...I make a lot of ridiculous promises to myself.  I don't imagine that I'll want to do this again anytime soon.  It's been excruciatingly trying.

Camp Zed is about to begin...I am set to go on a two day sneak-away road trip with a's so hot out that the notion of crutches makes me wince, and still...crutches.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

It Isn't Olympic Trials but It's Pretty Darn Cool...

Kindergym Graduation - Level 1, June 2012

Zed wrapped up Kindergym this a certificate and red ribbon and everything, but the best part...the absolutely most incredible part, was the bow.  Before each child got their certificate, their name was called, they stepped to the mat/podium, and took a bow...Olympic style.  It was pretty awesome.  Beyond awesome maybe.  It made all those Saturday morning of gymnastics parents kinda worth it.

Finding Your Way in The Dark

Granderson Zed

I didn't read the baby books.  In that regard I could relate to Seth Rogan's character in "Knocked Up." Before Zoey was born I thought, this is between my child and me, so I mostly ignored people's unsolicited advice, and I sought out practically zero help in understanding what was about to happen to me.  I say me because although something very obviously physical was happening to my beautiful wife, and something undoubtedly emotional was about to occur to us as a family, I was wholly ignorant of the powerful tsunami that was about to consume me and wash away so much of what I knew about myself.  I doubt whether any of the baby books could have prepared me for all that was about to come.

Months before she was born, I talked to Zoey.  I told her things, as if she might hear them from within the safe confines of her mother's rapidly expanding belly, believing already, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she was the intelligent human being that she would eventually become.  I told her about Curtis Granderson, and how he'd better start hitting lefties or she wouldn't get a chance to enjoy his awesomeness (because certainly she was a Tigers fan, and certainly Curtis Granderson was awesome), and how she already had a jersey emblazoned with his number, and it would be a shame for it to go to waste.  I told her how Michigan Basketball would be back across the span of her beautiful lifetime. I told her how she'd come to expect yearly Tournament invites, and how she'd get giddy for March, and when John Beilein's charges were stacking up wins in December and January I would feel nudges from the womb that only could have been interpreted as celebratory inter-uteran high fives.  I had plans of singing Jimmy Buffett songs to her as she slipped off to sleep, "A Pirate Looks at Forty," but others too...and we would listen to Israel Kamakawiwo'ole in the darkness and dream of far away places under gently rotating mobiles of paper flying ships.

We had a bond, an agreement, and an understanding about how this Daddy and daughter thing would go.  We were partners...dare I say buddies, and I believed that all of the revelations that I would ever need would come naturally, through some kind of loving osmosis between her soft, incredible smelling skin, and my own rough and enormous hands.  We would share a moment of silent understanding with one another after all those months of one sided communication. We had a deal.  She would like baseball stadiums and flying on airplanes, and I would fix everything that was ever broken, and rescue her each and every time rescuing was required.  She would be attached to my hip, and Daddy would be the cure for all ills.  I would gently coo "What a Wonderful World" to her as her eyes grew heavy and she slipped into a gentle, trusting sleep.

The moment that I thought would come was illusive.  It didn't happen in the hospital when the physician handed her to my teary, uncharacteristically emotional wife, or when her tiny fingers gripped my trembling own.  It didn't happen when she wiggled and writhed in my arms that first time, her bright blue eyes boring through me as though I were a stranger, or worse, a fraud, incapable of fixing anything, let alone everything. It didn't happen when she squealed her unique squeal through the night those first few long and empty evenings as we tried to figure her out, the panic engulfing both her mother and I...mostly I. Over those first few sleepless nights no amount of rocking or singing could soothe her.  I crooned "A Pirate Looks at Forty," and walked in circles for hours but she didn't respond.  She didn't care.  My wife urged me to be patient, and she taught me tricks from those very baby books, or that our mid-wife had shown her, but I was resistant, indignant even. I didn't want to have to resort to tricks to soothe my child.  I wanted her to know me, and to hear my voice and have that alone make everything okay.  I wanted my touch and smell to ease her breaking heart and desperate cries.  I wanted her to believe that as long as she heard her Daddy's voice that everything was going to be okay.  It wasn't. On one disturbing occasion when I swore to my wife that I could handle it, when I promised myself patience, I humbly handed our daughter back over to her after what felt like hours of bumbling, and I swore that I was through with her, that I would never attempt to tackle this deceptive Dad thing ever again.  I was dented and broken and discouraged.  June was confident and skilled and whatever she did to dismantle each and every situation actually worked.  Zoey would calm and the crying would stop, and I would slink back to the couch and beat myself up over my obvious deficiencies.  I was confident that I was the fraud that I had been so frightened of being.

"She's a baby," my wife would reassure me in her perfectly practiced motherly tone, "she's just going to take some figuring out," but the figuring out part was well underway in June's world.  They had established something that I could not.  They were a team.  They needed one another.  No one needed me, nor were they expanding the roster, although Mom wished so desperately that I would make the cut.  She didn't want to play without me.  Mom's bear the unimaginable burden of childbirth, but they also inherit all those infamous, "Hi Moms," on glowing TV screens, and all of the dying breaths on distant battlefields.  Dad's get ties on Father's Day, and feelings of inadequacy.  June was as measured and deliberate as the Colorado River carving into the Grand Canyon.  She was good at this Mom thing.  She was capable, quick to act, calm in crisis...everything that I wasn't...and Zoey was a good baby.  She slept in giant chunks.  She fed well.  She wasn't colicky or fussy.  She adjusted amazingly to strangers and strange situations.  She flew fifteen hours on a plane across the Pacific Ocean.  She sat in her car seat for fourteen hours across the middle of America needing only to stop for a few hours after crossing the Mississippi River, some nine or ten hours into the trip.  She was an incredible baby.  I, it seemed, was the only one who wasn't handling things well.  I didn't do well on the flight to Hawaii.  On the drive to Kansas City I needed to stop for the night in Hannibal, MO if only just to maintain my sanity.  I was the one who looked terrible in the morning, and exhausted each evening.  For the first time in my life I wasn't doing anything right, and nothing came easy.  Meanwhile I sat in awe of my wife.  She had the most natural of difficulties, the kind that you'd expect, but she managed them with a Michael Jordan-esque professionalism and focus.  She was never off of her game for very long.  I felt as though I was drowning in incompetence.  I was heartbroken and hurt.

Mom spent every day with Zoey, almost every waking hour.  I went back to work almost immediately as so often is the case.  At work, I helped someone else's children through their most difficult and intimate struggles, meanwhile I would occasionally close my office door and allow my own eyes to fill with tears from occasional exhaustion and near constant inability to connect.  It was hard.  There were days I could do neither job very well.

For the first time in my life I couldn't talk myself into feeling better.  I considered actually talking to someone else.  I regularly helped adolescents access counseling, and therapy, but had never before considered myself as a candidate.  I found myself Googling "post-partum depression men," and the query's results helped make sense of things.  It didn't make me feel any better, but it did make better sense of some of the things that I was struggling with...incompetence, an incomprehensible de-valuing, a slithery kind of unpreparedness, naivety, embarrassment, disappointment... Google assured me that if I could just hang on three or four months that things would get better...that this was a natural phenomenon, but the moment that I thought would come naturally wasn't coming at all.

After many months it appeared that Google was indeed right.  It started to feel better.  Zoey started to look as though she might be feeling comfortable in my awkward arms, and I could sometimes soothe her, sometimes help her find sleep, and even occasionally coax a smile, even a giggle.  I was getting there, but where I wasn't sure, and it didn't look anything like that place I thought I'd be, singing Louis Armstrong and staring into the eyes of someone who unequivocally adored me.  That's not where I was on the impossible road map of this fatherhood journey.  I was no longer lost, but I didn't recognize a thing around me.  I'd spent every waking moment trying to be something that I felt I might never be, and the occasional base hit was doing nothing for my average.

Suddenly, and more strangely than I might have imagined there came an evening when the planet flipped on it's axis, and everything changed.  On that particular night the baby books mattered little to the universe, and no amount of motherly whatever-you-call-it could make a dent in the demeanor of our daughter.  No holding, rocking, feeding or funny face from her Mom could make her still, nothing my wife tried worked.  She was sleepless and forlorn, and so was our daughter.  I was eager to pinch hit, so  I picked her up, my wife having long since given up the chore, and we walked.  We walked in circles, around the house, her tiny writhing body tucked onto my forearm like a football, her delicate head resting in the palm of my hand, her soft, wet eyes staring up at her father's smiling face.  I kissed her on the forehead and again on the cheek.  I kissed her small lips and touched my cheek to hers in the gentlest of hugs that I could muster.  I talked oh-so softly.  I told her how much I loved her.  I couldn't put her down, and I couldn't stop circles, around and around the house...through the living room and kitchen, down the hall, and back into the living room, around and around we walked as I cradled her and cooed lovingly at this little girl whose face looked wholly unfamiliar and yet a lot like my own.  Eventually she fell near silent, balanced there on my arm she stared at me, trying to figure me out it seemed. Her eyes grew heavy, and we walked, and I talked, and I felt her relax in the palm of my hand.  I actually felt it.  I slowly strode back to her darkened room, and we sat down in the chair her Baachan had bought for us to do exactly this.  I raised her to my shoulder.  She heaved a giant sigh and she burrowed deeply into my chest.  We swayed back and forth in the soft glow of a dull night light, and I started to sing.  "Mother mother ocean, I have heard you call..." This beautiful little girl, the daughter that had eluded me, quieted further still, her sniffles softening, and the shoulder shuddering attempts to stop crying, the kind that only children can manage, grew further and further apart, and less forced.  With my hand on her back, gently patting, I could hear her heave and softly sob for the last time and then drift off to sleep.  I rocked and sang until the previous four months melted into the softness of the moment and deep into that Spring night.  The sound of my own voice soothed even my own earlier anguish.  I stayed there for hours, until I could feel her heartbeat beneath my hand.  Eventually I drifted off to sleep myself, dreaming of far away places under gently rotating mobiles of paper flying ships.

* I woke in the early hours of morning, distracted by some distant notion drifting through a quiet house.  Oddly, I thought of my friend Dustin and how he might find his own songs to sing in the middle of the night, and how he too might forgo the baby books in search of something just a little more profound.

Being Neglectful Takes Some Work...

C-Fam visit

We've been definitive neglectful around here.  We missed blogging a little something about our niece, Avery, and her graduation.  We're beyond proud of her and it's embarrassing that we never sat down and typed something.  Our good friend's Dustin and Kelly called to announce their pregnancy.  I was three steps past excited about the news, and then I didn't write a damn thing.  The Cowger's, of Brooklyn infamy, came to visit and it felt like we were on our own home...and nothing, not a single key punched, or sentence constructed.  What kind of monsters are we?  The truth is that we've been a little pre-occupied with being pregnant (mostly June), and with school ending (mostly me), and with recovering from knee blah be blah, which still has me on ice and in discomfort, and we've just flat out been selfish and pre-occupied.  So let's fix this with a little flat out honesty and some photos...sound good?

Avery...we're so proud of the woman that you're turning into...You're kind and oh-so conscientious, and you're values seem well developed and unshakable.  We love you and only hope that Zoey can tackle her first thirteen years the way that you have.  That would make us awfully proud.

Dustin...well, you're just flat out my favorite, and Kelly, you're pretty much the perfect side order of beautiful and thoughtful.  There's a child on it's way that has absolutely no idea how fortunate it will be to have the two of you to love he or she.  No idea.

Cow-fam...oh my, how'd you do it?  How did you make us feel as though we were on holiday in our own house, and while I slipped off to work even?  Collectively you're the sharpest three people we know, and individually we find ourselves more smitten with each of you each time we get a dose.  Mel...a calm and cool bomb of a girl. of the most wildly intelligent three year olds on planet earth.  Jeff...quickly turned into our favorite rock geek and physician (unless one saves my life someday then he or she wins the title) and the guy who surely has left a beers on the deck and fossil hunting at the beach void in my summer.  Just cool and oh-so kind people...oh-so kind.

And now the photos...hang tight.  It's something like a Vegas buffet of photographic evidence that the last few weeks have been, in the words of Sammy Sosa, "berry, berry goo to me."

Photo montage 1
Photo montage 2
Photo montage 6

Of course, there are the requisite Instagrams, though we're not quite cool enough to shoot pics exclusively with an iPhone.  That takes some serious street cred of which we have little...

Photo montage 4
Photo montage 5

Of course, you can see all of these pics in their original un-montaged form here (un-montaged should totally be a word)...or you can just ignore all of this because they're neither you're friends, or your kids. We won't be offended, but it does raise the question, what the @#$% are you doing perusing this blog in enough detail to read this?  Some people are just strange I suppose.

The Stars Fall Into The Oceanside...

Ryan Adams is the most prodigious songwriter on the planet earth, and probably a few other planets, and almost everything that falls from his fingertips.  He melts a million small affections of mine together into this unique mould of amazingness that no one else can manage to distill.  The genre undefinable, the style ever changing, the muse an illusive metamorphosis of love to loss to lazy observation.  Like I said, can't get enough.

So rather than just mull around in all that solitary infatuation I thought I'd drag you into my mess.  Here you go, I hope you forgive me when you're searching Pirate Bay for every release he's ever had.  Sorry.