Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween 2012

Happy Halloween 2012

Months ago we started out with the idea that Zoey would dress like Wendy, from Peter Pan, for halloween...and then the weather turned, as did our preparation, and we found a great Peter Pan costume at the second hand store...and then, on a whim, Dad tried dressing his daughter up as though she'd just gotten accepted at the Hogwarts School of Wizardry. Instant keeper.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Love Letter to the Zoo...

Zed running to the zoo

We love the zoo.  I love the zoo.  I love how it makes me feel eight and thirteen and how it reminds me that how I felt then was just as important as how I feel now.  It reminds me that we, us, ourselves, get to choose what matters to us, and what we ingest, and soak up and in.  I love the zoo because it's quiet, and peaceful, and on Fall days it's uplifting in it's solitude.  I love it because my daughter loves it, and I love watching her fall in love. I can't wait to watch her do it with a place, and maybe a husband, and a job, and with her own children.  I love the zoo because my grandchildren will come to this same zoo...because my children's grandparents came to this same zoo.  I love walking all day, and daydreaming, and ooohing and awwwing, and having the snakes give me chills.  I love the Tigers, and the penguins, and I stare wide eyed at the Polar Bears.  I love the zoo because it melts my daughter into a puddle of cute and excited, and I love the zoo because it's one of the only places we go to that doesn't feel ruined by less romantic hearts and minds.  It's as pure as we can imagine it to be, and someday the saddest part of watching these little girls grow up will be that they won't run the ramp to the gates and beg to ride the carousel, and not care about giraffes, or alligators, or peacocks at all.  That, I'm suspecting, will be the saddest day of my life.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Wizards of Awesome

As they passed the rows of houses they saw through the open doors that men were sweeping and dusting and washing dishes, while the women sat around in groups, gossiping and laughing.

What has happened?' the Scarecrow asked a sad-looking man with a bushy beard, who wore an apron and was wheeling a baby carriage along the sidewalk.
Why, we've had a revolution, your Majesty -- as you ought to know very well,' replied the man; 'and since you went away the women have been running things to suit themselves. I'm glad you have decided to come back and restore order, for doing housework and minding the children is wearing out the strength of every man in the Emerald City.'

Hm!' said the Scarecrow, thoughtfully. 'If it is such hard work as you say, how did the women manage it so easily?'

I really do not know,' replied the man, with a deep sigh. 'Perhaps the women are made of cast-iron

By the time I stepped into the house after two whole days of hustle and irresponsible bustle I was so beat, so completely fatigued that I barely managed to carry Zoey to her bed.  On the drive home first Zoey fell asleep, and then Maggie, and as I peeked in the rear view mirror I could see June's head bob.  I shook my head to rattle something loose enough to keep me awake.  It was just 3pm.  Two days of family and friends can burn a guy right to the ground.  

When I finally found a bed of my own it took almost no time for two hours of sleep to usher itself in.  When I woke June had both Maggie and Zoey with her downstairs.  The girls were watching Monsters Inc. and waiting patiently for the start of The Wizard of Oz.  Who knows how long June had entertained the girls, but as she did so she was also rooting through box after box of baby clothes...things that we had packed away from when Zoey was small.  She had laundry started and had eaten already.  I was barely awake as I stumbled downstairs.  I don't know how she does it so gracefully.  I don't know how any of you (women) do.

I was a poor example of fatherly attention this afternoon, and perhaps more so because there was June, assuming the role of wide awake parent.  My God, anything could have happened under my coma-like watch.  June held off the hordes of impossible dangers while Dad slept.  More often than not I don't know where the predominant caregiver finds their...ahem,

We'd spent the night with family first, and then slipped out late to celebrate a friend's fortieth birthday.  We didn't get in until 3am.  We left Maggie with grandparents and Aunts and Uncles, and we indulged our sentimental sides by lingering over long laughs in the kitchen of the Port Lambton Hall, a brick and tile floor reminder of a million youthful skirmishes with fun from the time we were old enough to defile ourselves.  I woke at 7am with Zoey.  June woke at least once before that with Maggie.  Together we didn't total a full eight hours of sleep.  We stumbled through brunch, then tripped over another visit with more grandparents, and by the time the middle of the afternoon found us we were fractions of our former selves.  It made perfect sense that I might collapse out of sheer exhaustion.  It makes no sense how June could manage not to.

I don't know how many times I can tip my cap to the women in my life, but I figure as soon as they stop confounding me I'll stop acknowledging their efforts.  My God, don't you need sleep?  It's ridiculous.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Christmas in October...


Ian and Meredith have been at the house for days now, and Zoey's found a brightness in Fall that only favorite people can inspire.  Bedtime is easy because she's exhausted, and waking up is easy because she's overflowing with excitement because of who's sleeping in the basement.  We haven't done much...the park, the petting zoo, World Series games at night and tickling games all day.  We haven't done much except make a little girl's week.  Zoey loves her Uncle Ian, and she loves her BFF, Meredith, and two days of their company is like Christmas in October, only better because we can wear shorts to the park, and play on the beach.  We didn't even care the Tigers were down two games to the Giants, and that the sunshine seemed to be making one last stand before winter.

Ian and Meredith are home, and Zoey's been smiling. Now if the Tigers could just win a few baseball games, I'd be smiling too.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It just is...

Ikea parking

I said that twice today...once to a kid who was desperate for answers that weren't coming, and never would...and then again to a teacher who asked about the tattoos on my arm, a quizzical, "why?" sort of query that I answered abruptly.

It just is...sometimes things just are...there are things in this life that if you're lucky, you just embrace, and let happen, and accept.

It just is.

You know what I've accepted?  I like going to Ikea.  I'm on many occasions overly prepared. I get angry quickly.  I have an unrealistic insistence on things being fair.  I'll just go with it rather than fight you if it doesn't seem worth it.  I like pop music. I used to be one thing and now I probably seem like I'm another.  I don't give a damn what some people think, and I don't care if they know. I'm a starter, not a finisher. I can be selfish. I get terribly, embarrassingly grumpy when I'm tired.  I don't like to eat leftovers or defrost things.  I hate being late.  I rarely nap. I have silly romantic notions and awkward excitable moments. I rarely do the dishes. I own too many hats.  I should exercise more. I should probably take better care of myself.  I need to write things down.  I need to take the time to find balance in my breathe.  I will do a lot for someone if they ask me to.  I have adult make authority figure issues.  I know exactly who I am and what I want, and it's not what other people want for me.  I don't give a shit about the job title.  Raising these two girls is all that really matters to me.  I have values and ideals that many people would scoff at.  I spent an enormous portion of my life with people I didn't give a shit about. I do want you to notice the effort.  I work alone. Sometimes I just wanna fight. If everyone is doing it, I no longer want to. I don't embed myself in my own here and now as often as I could, or should. I don't deal with conflict, contradiction, or challenge very gracefully...I push back. I don't think like most of the guys I know.  I'm not always the most accessible, but I'm never much of a mystery. The people I like, I really like.  The tattoos feel right.  No one will ever dress me.  I don't like airplanes. In hindsight, the sunglasses were a great decision. There are things that I really owe it to myself to get to. If I say I'm gonna do something, I might actually do it...maybe.  I can be obsessive, and impulsive. I don't go to bed early enough. I can be blunt. I'd rather just move on. I probably won't come to your funeral. I can't stand a crying baby. I get offended if you even as much as hint at something I already knew. I don't like to be compared to anything.  I've waited for a lot of things to come to me.  I probably should have tried harder. I believe that what I do every day trumps what you do, and I think that it's important that I think that way, after all, they're your kids. Sports aren't what we've made them. I'm not a nice drunk guy after a certain point. By the end of the day my patience is nearing empty.  I believe that the fastest way to make a presumptuous asshole is to give him a piece of paper in a frame. Dirty hands and humility are the only way to do things. I turn into a frustrated, impossibly angry man in the kitchen.  If all I want is something simple, I'd better get it.  I probably won't help you with that manual labor task you are thinking about asking me to help with. I wouldn't ask you. Don't waste my time. There are friendships I wish I'd have cultivated 'cause I think they'd have changed my life. Grown ups screw up kids.  We're all the same.  It's a crooked, selfish, ignorant world. I don't do the things that would make me the happiest.  I worry too much.  I cry too easily.  I'm so frustrated by so many men.  I turn into an angry ass with tools in my hand. I want you to treat me the way I would treat you.  Don't talk to me about money.  Do your job, that's all I ask.  Pay attention or your kid will meet me.  It bothers me that some friends will dismiss fifteen years of doing the kind of work that I do, and argue a belief.  Two kids doesn't make you an expert. No one is an expert. The only thing that I know for sure is that I don't know, and that means that I maybe understand. I'm more than happy to let you think you've got me pegged.  I won't kiss your ass. Oh, I'll work hard to be nice, and to extend an interest, to include you, but I won't kiss your ass.  Don't tell me how to do something. I'll take your help, but don't tell me how to do it.  I have no tolerance for people who have reached ages where self-awareness should be inherent, but isn't.  Be nice.  I can cross lines really quick if you push me in those directions. I don't articulate things very well when I speak.  I write better.  Sometimes you have to put friendship right in my lap. There are four of us in this family and three of the four are more important than everyone else in my life. Sorry.  Sometimes I don't really feel sorry.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Reason to Believe...

My uncle, one of my most favourite uncles, has been diagnosed with cancer. Actually, to say so simply that he has been diagnosed with cancer would be much too dismissive of an explanation for his predicament. Cancer has decided to sucker punch him, kick him while he's on the ground, and stomp him a time or two. It's bad. 

To be truthful, it's a difficult thing to type. He's something like a model man, the definitive Dad, a Cosby show cut out except, you know, white, and without four daughters and...well, nothing like a Cosby-esque character at all.  He may not be an ideal, but only because who really is? No one. He is, however, as close as you might imagine a guy can come. I've always loved him, even when I was an ignorant little boy, he stood out as someone worth giving your affection to. Despite great distance, and infrequent contact, he was always someone I felt happy to call mine, or ours, as it were. Now here I sit typing this nonsense on the verge of not knowing what will happen to one of the few men I dare to call a real man. Like the world needs less of that kind of thing. 

I'm not so often sure of what it is that I want out of this world, or what I want to define me, but I know that whatever he has it's something valuable, and worth wanting. I know that whatever it was that he did his whole life...his whole life...he did with a quiet kind of charisma and character...that people love him, and respect him...everyone.  I know that the light that he has shone on his family is bright, and has illuminated so much love it seems impossible to gather up with just two arms.  I know that looking around me my entire life I've found so much disappointment in people and then never in him, not once, not ever imagining that he could be anything but the man people measured other men by. It's true, there's no drama in that, no embellishment. He's always been a measuring stick kind of guy, even though he'd laugh at the notion. He laughs at a lot, but the anchors in our lives so often do. My Uncle Murray is every bit of that to every one of us. It was always hard to drift too far tied to Murray. He kept you tethered to something undefinable...maybe the desire to want to be worthy of his attention, or to be the kind of person that he wanted to talk to? I don't know. I only know that it made you happy to see his face light up when he saw you, to know that he was excited to see you, and interested in what you had to say, or just how you were. I know that he loved my wife, and made her feel special, and loved, so much so that she'll never be able to read this. 

He's more than my cousin's dad, so much more than my Grandmother's son, or my Mom's brother. For me, he has always been, in some ways, a figment of my imagination because no one could be as cool, and sturdy, and loving, and kind, and accessible as Uncle Murray. No one.  Yet he is. 

I spend all day, every day searching for reasons to believe in something, grasping for tethers to tie me down to something that I can find some faith in. God knows I see it so infrequently in the faces of the people that I struggle to understand, but then there's the notion of my Uncle Murray, and I'm reminded that sometimes we get this living thing right. That indeed sounds dramatic but let me insist that there are people standing in his shadow who have never known, and never will, the kind of hurts that I see every day...there are people who have been kept safe by his love and attention who might only have abstract ideas of what disappointment might be. How's that for living a life the right way? How is that for being the kind of man we should all hope to be? It's enormous. 

I'm quite sure that I could type forever, but there just aren't enough words, not even loving ones, to describe how I feel. Even now, he feels less like my Uncle, and more like someone I've just imagined. Now that's living.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Baseball and Enlightenment...

Father's Day 9

I like baseball...and I've managed to indoctrinate my wife in the church of baseball...but I don't want to brainwash my daughters.  Why?  I want them to fall in love with things on their own.  I want to try to inspire, more than influence, and if they end up loving baseball, perfect. If they don't end up loving baseball, okay.

This past week I spent a lot of time training with a man who works for the FBI. That's right, the FBI, amoungst other agencies.  He's a heavy guy...heavy as in impressive, not as in CC Sabathia...and he's done a lot.  He's an expert in Threat and Risk Assessment, specifically as it relates to youth, and maybe more specifically as it relates to schools.  He's seen a lot...Columbine...Tabor...the more recent Amanda Todd tragedy...he consults all over North America, and he's every bit like a CSI show exploded and landed on your lap.  He's mind boggling.  He painstakingly collects data.  He meets and interviews, and talks, and assesses.  He theorizes and hypothesizes.  He's rubbed shoulders with gang members, and the Secret Service, and impressive political turds, and he laughed at my jokes.  He's about as heavy a guy as I've ever been around.  I tell you that to tell you this.  He said something the other day that knocked me over in it's simplicity.

"Your dreams are not your children's dreams. Your Shangri-la is not someone else's Shangri-la.  It's yours. That's it. Yours."

Wow.  There goes the notion of taking a year off when Zo is twelve or thirteen and travelling around the world.  There collapses the idea that spending summers in NY or California, or wherever we can wander to is amazing.  There begins a lot of introspection and evaluation.

Your dreams are not your children's dreams.

I love baseball, but Zoey might not.  Maggie might not.  I want the kids that I work with to have a life, but that's not as important as them wanting to have a life.  It's simple stuff, so simple that we walk right past our health, like having a job, like having people who love you, like friendship...they're easy things to overlook.  My dreams are not Zoey's dreams, or Maggie's, or June's.  My dreams are my dreams.

It took a genius to tell me what I should have already known, but all it takes is an idiot like me to pass it on.

Links and Links and...

This ain't make believe b!%ches...ain't no fairy tale painting. This place is real, and I wanna go!

Best photo ever.

I can't do any of this stuff, but there's a reason why there's a quiver of these in the basement. Because it's awesome.

I used to live and die in these, and I'd sell my kidney to have another pair.

I could pull this off. I know I could.

One of my favorite places.

This kid is a genius.

You will be mine. Oh yes, someday you will be mine.

Interesting stuff. I like the "we need all the help we can get," statement. Ain't that the truth.

Banned books.

I'm not so sure if my wife, or any woman, would have dated a guy with a car like this, but if they wouldn't, I'd still want one.

Politically incorrect...probably. Rad as #%!k...yep.

True dat!

It Ain't Easy...

Practicing their Japanese alphabet.

The Tigers are in the World has suddenly turned stressful and insane...beautiful blue Fall skies have shifted to grey and wet ceilings that tend to insulate the depression of coming winter...and almost all I can ever think about is how hard my wife is working to juggle two kids.  I can see it wearing her down, and although most days she's smiling and balancing everything like a champ, other days I see her overwhelmed and struggling.  There have been occasional tears.  It's hard.

I try to help, although I know I could try harder.  I come home and steal Zo.  I could do better stealing Maggie but a guy without the ability to breast feed, and who can seemingly only carry his daughter in one awkward, shoulder straining position without inspiring tears, is only good for so much.  Soon enough I'll be able to kidnap my daughters, both, and go for Saturday morning drives, or evening visits without the breast confectionary that Mom's presence seems to be.  For now, I struggle to stress all day and then come home to take over.  It's hard.

The point being, I guess, that this stuff is difficult, and we're managing...doing quite more than managing I suppose, but there are times where we're short with one another, or where we do less for one another than we should, or could, and times where we feel that we mismanage this, or that, and it's kind of par for this difficult course.  Blue skies helped...and a World Series will help...and an equally sudden shift back to semi-normalcy at work will help...but for now we're trying to adjust to light sleep, early mornings, late nights, not having a moment to catch our breath until 9 or 10pm, and the absolute disappearance of any semblance of a social life (where'd everyone go?) and stumbling through days and weeks on our way to what we know will be awesome.  It's very often awesome right now, but it's just as often sigh inducing.  It's hard.

Did I mention that it's hard?  I think I did.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Game #4...

Two jerseys

After a full day of school shooter talk, and risk assessment, and trauma response, and knives in lockers, and guns in backpacks, and endless depressing's almost time for baseball. It's Game 4 of the ALCS and despite having tickets for Game 5, we're hoping that the Tigers can close out the Yankees tonight...well, Daddy is hoping. Zoey occasionally likes the New York Yankees. How do you watch a long, boring baseball game with a three year old? Like this...

  Cardboard baseball game

Oh, we're creative around here. Not so creative when it comes to keeping Zo's Richard Scarry figures "scuffling" on the some Cardinals-Brewers replay from last year. Daddy's spent the better part of the last half hour talking to the scufflers and making sure that actual bullying isn't an issue. It seems we've got a pretty aggressive, bossy rubber giraffe around here, and he's stirring up all sorts of pre-game s#!t.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Zoey w Glasses and Maggie Two girls. Sometimes the notion confounds me. Two girls...that's a lot of estrogen, if you include their Mom it's even more. Two girls and a woman, and I'm much more than okay with that. I'm a big fan of estrogen. I'll take it in great big giant piles. If I must admit to it, I prefer it. It's a bit of a giggly dream returning each night to a house full of smiling females. There are much worse things, but few better.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sleep is the New Black

Comfy and cozy in our bed We sleep around here. Maggie sleeps...alot. Mom sleeps...when she can. Zoey sleeps...without a pull-up for over a month now with not a single issue. Daddy sleeps...well, not enough. He goes to bed late, and gets up early, and just this past week looked an awful lot like the Energizer Bunny running out of juice. Daddy needs to sleep more. He blames the Detroit Tigers, but it's really more than that. He needs to take better care of himself. He also needs to stop typing in the third person.

The Earth Stopped Cold at Dawn...

121983-650-366 In that moment when Derek Jeter could not pull himself up from the infield dirt early this morning I could have snapped my finger from the third row of the third base side box seats and a whole stadium would have heard it. The Captain winced, and he could not get up. If you were wise enough, or resilient enough to be awake this morning when Jose Valverde failed to find one more strike, and Raul Ibanez made him pay for that failure, you'd have seen something historical. The New York Yankees had just become something no one envied. June had just woken after nine innings of slumber with Maggie. Zoey was at Grandad and Baachan's house. I had my face half-buried in a pillow, doing my whole-hearted best to replace it's stuffing with expletives, when The Captain went down. June's eyes popped and became moist. I fell silent, and all of New York felt their shoulders droop, and exhaled whatever inherent hope that Yankee fans are born with. Derek Jeter was being carried off of the field by his own Manager. The Detroit Tigers were returning from the dead just as the wounded were being carted away in the Bronx, and suddenly 1 a.m. didn't feel so late. You can say what you want about Derek Jeter but it's no surprise that he can harvest such emotions. The earth just tipped on it's axis and even baseball haters felt the temperature change and saw the stars disappear. Something historical happened early this morning and some of you didn't see it. Of course, it happened on a baseball field and so, so many people will easily dismiss it as nonsense, but anything that can make seven million New Yorkers turn silent is monumental. I kind of remember Delmon Young's post-season poise rearing it's head, and Drew Smyly stands out as looking like anything but a rookie...a kid...but it's Derek Jeter lying in the dirt that I'll always remember. And Maggie was asleep, and Zoey was away visiting, and it was just June and I watching. Sometimes I wonder why I watch sports...why I allow myself to get so invested, or why the stories keep pulling me back, and then somewhere after midnight this morning I had reason enough to suppress those questions for a little while longer. We just watched something significant happen, and we did it with a few million other people on the planet. Maybe that's how I'll explain such things to my daughters some day? Or maybe I'll never be able to explain it. Whatever happened, it made my wife's eyes water, and set me down in front of this keyboard not eight hours later. In that moment we were all human. In that moment a good many of us felt our hearts sink. I could have snapped my finger from the third row of the third base side box seats and a whole stadium would have heard it. That's a hard thing to forget.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Daddy, Stuart Little, and Justin Verlander...

hi-res-148397194_crop_exact There's a little girl singing upstairs in the darkness, the Tiger game on the radio next to her bed, her soft voice crooning some unknown song from the shadows of her room. Her and Daddy skipped bath time tonight and went for a walk instead, Zo wrapped tightly in her sleeping bag, tucked snugly into her red wagon, Dad dragging her around while Zed pointed her flashlight at potential Halloween stops. "That'd be a good house Daddy. Look how bright the lights are." We made mental notes of the houses that we decorated for the holiday, which streets, and perhaps even what path we might follow to reach them before all of the neighborhood kids had ravaged their supplies. Zed is coordinating one heck of a Halloween. By the time we got home it was late, much later than usual, and we snuck off to bed while Mom tried to find the Tiger game on the awful cable package that we currently loathe. We read some more of Stuart Little, and then tuned into Justin Verlander's bold attempt at advancing the Tigers to the ALCS. Zo went to bed smiling, and Dad felt like he left something of an imprint tonight. After a difficult day a sleeping little girl and the Tigers game on the radio help to make the whole wicked world disappear. If you consider the added comfort of knowing that Zo and I already have a solid game plan for this Halloween thing, I'd say it was a stellar night. It was a buggered day, one that left me speechless, and searching for perspective. I found it tonight in a little red wagon, and in the soft singing of a little girl framed by the distant voices of Jim Price and Dan Dickerson. Don't kid yourself though, Justin Verlander helps.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Super Mom(s)...

Sleeping Mom and Maggie Sometimes I don't feel like much of a Dad, not when Maggie and her Mom are so inseparable. The truth is that a lot of days I can't muster the post-work strength to rip that little girl from her mother's arms. Maybe I sneak Zoey away just to give Mom something of a breather, but I rarely walk in the door and assume infant duties. I say hello. I coo. I hold her for a moment or six, but I don't grab the reins. It's something of a sore spot for me. I don't like being bad at something. This, I occasionally feel, I'm bad at. June, however, is the champion of all champions...patient, confident, selfless. I regularly need some space...need a chance to gather my thoughts, piece together some sort of perspective...I'm not winning any medals for Fatherhood, not in these first few weeks. June sleeps on the couch, so that she and Maggie won't wake me when they rustle about all through the night. June doesn't want me driving all over Southwestern Ontario all day with three hours of sleep. Who does that sort of thing for their husband? She does. Tonight I told her that I wanted her to come back to bed, and she just smiled. Maybe she bet is that she doesn't. Sure, I get up in the middle of the night to find Zoey's blankets on the floor, to ease her through a nightmare, but I've even slept through some of that, and then June picks up the slack. I suspect that my wife is best and brightest of her breed, and trust me when I tell you that I have a good sample size to choose from...a cadre of incredible Moms that I know, from our friend Mel to our own Mothers...I've seen some Moms, and June looms large. She certainly stands in no one's shadow. Tonight she fell asleep with Maggie watching "Bagger Vance," waiting for the Tiger game...the Tiger game that I wanted to watch. She was waiting to call me up from the basement to let me know that it was on. Instead, she just settled in with our fragile, newly formed daughter, and unknowingly posed for a new favorite photograph while sleeping. I don't know what to say to all of the Moms I know who recognize something of themselves in June's incredible approach to all of this, and whose husbands, sadly, took no note. I don't have words. I know what it is that you've done, and I know how lucky I am to watch June do the same. That Mom crap is hard, and you earn every ounce of sleep that you are able to cuddle up with and coax out of your child. I don't feel as though I'm always earning mine.

Two Girls...Seven Weeks

Week7 - Zoey and Maggie Since so many people insist that Zoey and Maggie look so similar (and to be fair, a good many think they look nothing alike), June slapped together a quick comparison...both at seven weeks, both looking fairly, I dunno, out-of-it in a baby kind of way...neither looking much like the other. I think the potential exists that we have sisters that end up looking nothing blonde haired, and one black or brown haired...different noses, different chins, even different colored eyes...which I think who would be preferred by the girls themselves. Trust me, growing up a twin, it's nice to not have to work for your individuality. I can't imagine who sisters wanting to look alike, not if given the choice to look entirely like themselves and no one else. One fair, one dark...o ne blue eyed, and one brown...both happy. I think we'll keep them.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving...

First family photo in forever - Thanksgiving 2012
It was the first family photo in no less than 25 years. Which means that it was the first family photo with spouses and grandchildren. It was certainly the first family photo with Pops since the was something to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I'm oh-so grateful for my friends and family. My family knows just how much I love them, but I worry that sometimes my friends don't (despite saying out loud into a microphone in front of their respective entire group of drunken wedding guests). I'm especially thankful for those of you who surprised me with the frequency of your visits here...Robin, Trace, etc...that knowledge was the absolute most pleasant of surprises, so sincerely pleasant. This is my family, and this is me, and it's all, at times, so difficult to type, and at other times so easy. It's easy to be thankful for people who know so much about you and still love you enough to keep peeking in on you. That's impressive business.

 As Thanksgiving fades into these cold October days I've got a ridiculously beautiful wife, an astonishingly smart and paralyzingly cute daughter, and another little girl who smiles when I talk to her, and quiets when I walk with her in my arms, and I couldn't be any more blessed. I do something for a living that I believe in with every ounce of my heart and am lucky enough to be good at it. I have memories that help me to sleep with a smile, and enough people to love to pour everything I have into that affection and never run out of sighs.

 Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Mucho, mucho love and all that sappy crap.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Two Out of Three...

Mags & Mom - 2012 Brigden Fair In the immortal words of Meatloaf...c'mon, like you've never quoted Meatloaf before... Two out of three aint bad...because it isn't. They don't just make those old sayings up, you know. What are the odds? What are the odds that I could end up with three phenomenal girls in my home...waking me up each morning...laughing from the other room...staring blankly at the strange behaviours of the lone man in their house? What are the odds that I'd be so blessed with three? You'd imagine that two out of three would be something of a cosmic coup, wouldn't you? But no, thus far I have three, and I'm not apologizing. I'll brag, and show them off, and wax on endlessly about their sublime perfection...but I won't feel bad that I've been this blessed. Nope. Go look for guilt in some other corner. This one's reserved for people who quote Meatloaf and feel like they won the lottery.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ten Minutes More...

She's sleeping right now, not three feet away from where I type. It's quiet here, and I feel connected to her by her soft breathing not more than arms length away from my spot on the floor. Sometimes I like to just linger...long after she's drifted away to sleep. I brush the hair back from her cherub face, and rest my palm on her gently heaving back, and sometimes I just smell her, fresh from the bath, and smelling as only she does. It sounds crazy...a grown man, and certainly in the rarified company of what is typically Moms doing this sort of thing...this tuck you in and stay...marvel...swoon. It's not the first time I feel fairly I solitary in the most masculine of senses. Most of the men I know spend most of their time in garages and watching Sunday Night Football. Not me. I suppose, to be fair, I should say that I don't have a garage, and that I couldn't tell you who plays football tonight. I only know that my daughter fall asleep tonight to the sound of her Dad's voice reading from E. B. White's, Stuart Little, and that she wanted me to rub her back while I did so. It didn't take long for her to slip away into usually doesn't when Dad's big hands rub circles into her warm back, and his voice urges sleep to waste no time coming. I'm a forty year old man and even I can imagine that it's a nice way to nod off. I'm tempted to ponder the notion again how it is that most men miss this, but we've gone there before, and they have only themselves to blame, and their decisions to regret. I know enough about regret to know that you should cultivate it. It manages to grow through the cracks of the sidewalk easily enough on its own. Tuck your babies in gentlemen, lest you wish you had when it's long past the time you can. It's one regret I don't ever hope to harvest. You reap what you sow, they say, and I want to sow this feeling forever. She was tired from the Fair, no doubt, but I like to think that Daddy's big hands and soft voice helped. I really should get up from this floor and carry on with my night, but what's ten minutes more. Someday I'll wish I traded my soul for just ten minutes more. I'll fall asleep a little later knowing that I didn't have to, not tonight.

Flashlight and Fleece...

Untitled There are no mountains in our backyard, but a beach is close by, and there are few forests to adventure all through, but there are bugs, and sometimes they are adventure enough. Zed is a fearless hunter of insects, mostly to benefit her pet Mantis, but also just for kicks. She's never once declined a bug hunt...never once said no to a flashlight and fleece night out hunting ugly little things. She's a champ that way, and I don't think I've ever expressed just how proud it makes me. We always dreamed of a little Patagonia kid...a child of nature, unphased by weather or web, curious about the natural world, and eager to explore it. It's easy enough to forget that it's exactly what we've got. Pick up a problem...hold that snake, ok...there isn't much she shirks from. We were reminded by a good friend of ours, Layna, just how fearless this little girl is, and sometimes you need reminding of the things that are right under your nose. Like little bug hunters wrapped in warm fleece, carrying nothing but a flashlight and a jar.

The Fair...


It sneaks up on you most times, and you're hardly expecting it to be that time of year when the Brigden Fair comes around. It's been happening for 162 years and Zoey's been there for two of them. At three and a half years old, that's a better average than Ryan Raburn. She loves it. We love it. It's an easy tradition.

Riding the motorcycles

Like a scaled down State Fair, it's been more than a local staple for more than a few local families, and much more than a few tourists, for as long as we can remember. When I was a kid the fair was made of adventure and romance, and fun beyond measure, now it's about watching my daughter burst with excitement and joy. I like to see people that I haven't seen in years, sometimes decades, and I like how everything reminds me of growing up in the country, with horses in our pasture, and endless fields for miles...with neighbors who knew your name even if you didn't know theirs. It reminds me of my Grandmother...little Gramma Fufu...and my Grandfather...Pink Floyd, and it reassures me that no matter how much my life has changed, and how remote those days seem, we have foundations that  make us who we are.


I grew up on a dirt road near the river, next to a tile factory surrounded by corn and tomatoes...with a pasture full of boarded Standard bred horses, and the occasional calf. I played in my grandparents barn, and went for wagon rides behind heavy horses that seemed like ancient giants.  My Uncle staked his livelihood on the fortunes of a single Champion Quarter Horse named Eternal Sun, and his daughter, Colleen, rode that same horse's bloodline into a quiet family pride in fairs and exhibitions just like this one.  The first money I ever earned was from mucking out stalls, and filling the water troughs of horses that we were forbidden to ride, but did.  The endless fields and farms that surrounded my childhood were a playground unrivaled, and laid a foundation of daydreaming and adventure that would last a lifetime.  Sure, we once packed up our lives and moved to Brooklyn, New York, and Manhattan was where we were married, but at one time such things were impossible daydreams...small county fairs were the height of romance and adventure for me for big chunks of my life. Make no mistake, I live a life a long way away from the farms and fields of my youth, but at one time it was what defined me.

These days the Fair is less about adventure and more about nostalgia, but I'm always aware that my daughter might see it differently, and by the look in her eyes all weekend long, I'd say those wide eyes look awfully familiar.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Once Upon a Time...

Seven weeks sleeping

Once upon a time there was a little family that had started as just an idea that basked in the warm Southern California sunshine, in a hotel room along the freeway in San Clemente, California. You could see the ocean from the room, and smell the Surfin' Donuts below.  The traffic from El Camino Real rushed past, and in that morning light two people who loved each other very much decided that, yes, they could do this giant thing, and so they got more and more used to the idea every day.

First there was a daughter, a beautiful, healthy little girl...Zoey Sakura, and she changed their world so entirely that they hardly recognized themselves.  This blog began keeping track of those changes, and the words that we used to describe them pulled in friends and strangers.  At times I swear it saved least it saved him.  Then came another girl, a New York girl.  As much as Zoey was born out of unfiltered California sunshine, Maggie was something that grew into being from the meandering sidestreets of Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.  That's where the idea of her first breathed oxygen.  Of course we could do that giant thing again.  It wasn't that difficult, was it?  I didn't remember. I think it was, but we managed the last one pretty good, didn't we?  Still, I think it was pretty hard. Turns out, yes, it was pretty difficult, but it was also pretty amazing.

Once upon a time this was all just an idea.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Last Will and Testament...

Last will and testament

When I die, there will be a great road trip...someone will entertain a momentous road trip on my last amazing, sunset laden, endless humming highway, Grand Canyon, endless blue skies bleeding into vast, almost bottomless starry nights.  There will be camp fires, and ancient roadside motels, and truck stops with buzzing parking lot lights.  There will surely be notes on road maps and photos that will someday fade...there will be an early morning in Monterey, watching the fish trucks empty out on Cannery Row...there will be winding Blue Ridge Parkway, and endless empty cracked highway and gravel road, and dirt path.  I will be buckled into the passenger seat, and people will talk to me.  My wife, my brother, my daughters, my friend Dustin maybe...whoever wants to see the mountains and count sunrises with me.

I want to hear stadiums roar, and the wind whip through prairie grass.  I want to see Wounded Knee, and Yellowstone.  I want to drive the Pacific Coast Highway with a Tom Petty soundtrack.  I want to sit at diner counters, and knock off parts of Route 66.  I want to drive across Florida causeways, and walk across a few bridges over misted rivers on our way to wherever.  I want to see the Hotel Lorraine, and stay in the room where Gram Parsons died at the Joshua Tree Inn & Motel.  I want to go to one last concert, or six.  I want to listen to music float up into the California night sky at The Hollywood Bowl. I'd like to hang out in the balcony at The Troubadour.  I hope that I'll get to spend days wandering New York, and walking the park with my daughters. I want to meet new people, make friends, and move on.

I want wander Utah Canyons and ride a carousel with Zoey.  I want to float down the Mississippi, and watch Minor League Baseball.  I want one more trip on the Greyhound.  I's like it if I got the chance to swim in the ocean with my brother.  I'd like shoot baskets in an empty gym, and smell the new ice in some distant hockey arena.  I hope that I might get to drink pints with friends, spilling tears and beer and stories across entire evenings of laughter so full it leaves us sore.  I want to sit on the hood of a car and watch the train roll by, and I'd give anything to find a swimming hole and dive in with best friends.  I want to watch the boats harvest kelp from a campsite in Capitola, and sit in the Big Sur sun.  I want to spend a week in San Clemente with the people I love the most.  I want to go to Vegas one more time...again, and again.  I want to walk the Backbay all the way to Fenway.  I want to watch just one more game from the rooftops at Wrigley. I want to stand on giant boulders in Bishop, and feel the cool chill of a desert night, and I want to watch the stars with you.  I don't want to be alone...not ever, not once for the rest of my long, full, life.

Can someone promise me that?  Can someone assure me that something magical will happen when I'm gone?  I hope so.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Maggie and Miggy

Maggie and Miggy

Do you really think that this pose was just a coincidence? Even at 6 weeks old this kid knows what's up.  Detroit's Miguel Cabrera wins baseball's Triple Crown, and everyone gets tickets to the gun show!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Some People You Just Like...

How many times have I tapped a keyboard here in an effort to express my affection for people? Too many to count, I'm certain. This morning it struck me again how eager I was to do that again. There are things that never get old, and hearing about how much someone likes you is one of them. It struck me as news came that my Uncle Morty wasn't doing so hot, diagnosed with a bum rap by the universe, a '27 Yankees version of Cancer, and all I could think of was how much I liked him.  It's some kind of love, I'm sure, but somehow it feels thicker than fog, if fog can be drenched in affection. Sometimes I think love can be oh-so irrational, so inexplicable...but "like" isn't. Like is very deliberate, and has very specific ingredients.  Try to explain why you love someone and watch how quickly in articulation strangles you. Think about why you like someone and the reasons rush throu your frontal lobe so fast that you need to sit down.  There are very specific reason why you like someone, and with Morty it was simple. I wished he was mine to have whenever I wanted him...whenever I needed an Uncle...a gentle voice of masculine reason. Maybe it was because he seemingly liked me, and being liked is a pretty good reason to like right back, but I think it was more than that. He wasn't like everyone else's Dads or Uncles. He was always more, I dunno, accessible, in that way that so many men are not. I like my Uncle Morty and It got me to thinking about how much I like so many other people and how they can never hear it enough. I'd say it again right here but I'm terribly busy "liking" Mort right now. That guy's one of the good ones.