Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Love This Place

Took the kids to their soccer games tonigt at the same field I played on as a kid. Ascending the hill in the mini van is a lot nicer than cranking up it on my Huffy used to be. Waiting for the games to start I looked East over the valley that I live in and hung up for a second.

I. Love. This. Place.

With the field in front of me, tall, tasseled corn to my right and deep woods to my left I looked out over the patchwork of fields and forest. Late summer cumulus clouds threw the landscape into stark relief as they tumbled slowly off to the East.

I've lived elsewhere, I've roamed, I like being on the road. But like comedy without tragedy, like love without loss, there is no wider world without home. There is a deep, peaceful joy that settles in me when I take notice of where I am. When I drive these roads, when I see these hills, when I am tucked safely in under the boughs of sugar maples... I'm home.

P.S. Much love and prayer goin' out for mah man Irish Gumbo.


Wordless Wednesday - Hangin' Out

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gettin' Down

This post is the opposite of whining about work... read on.

Work has been getting me down a bit lately. With a huge project ramping up and the number of contractors in my life doubling overnight I'm looking at every aspect of my work day turning into cramming something in between two other things that I already don't have time to do.

But then some meetings happened.

I was off this Monday and returned to work somewhat dizzy from my allergies, not really wanting to dive back into the world of capital projects. The first meeting was with the Infection Control officer who was impressed by my calm response to a sink she caused to overflow. This is a woman that my department used to be at odds with. I'm happy to say I've won her over by listening to her requirements and attempting to meet them. I must have been the first because I don't usually manage to meet all of them but just trying seems to have scored big points with her.

The next meeting had me sandwiched between two contractors and my bosses. One of the contractors lead of with, "I don't know what you're payin' this guy, but it's not nearly enough." I dug in my pocket to hand him a tip but I had no cash. Uuuuuuhhhh.... still chuckling at the irony, which was not lost on my superiors.

Later in the day when I finally got down to doing some actual, hands on work, I heard from a co-worker that the general contractor had been asking about me. I had been trying to give the impression that I'm easy to get along with and it's my job to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. I guess it doesn't hurt that being charged with monitoring Life Safety measures makes me a fearsome sight in the eyes of outsiders. Once they find out that I have a truck load of responsibility and a thimble full of actual authority I'm sure we'll be able to settle into an easy working relationship.

Then the fire alarm system went haywire, keeping me from my lunch, but when I finally got to sit down it was across from a department manager who's always got good advice for me. When I told him that I felt like I was drowning he told me that it was all right because at least I was managing, "managing". He said it twice. Apparently my boss is so glad not to be stuck in the fray himself that he's got some leeway for the mistakes I make while I learn the job.

I guess the lesson learned is that as much as I would like this job to be like my previous experiences with chaos, running music festivals and such it's going to take a while. I'd like to be the guy on the ground with things running smoothly, using my expertise to thwart mishap and dodge calamity. Remembering back though, on the morning of my first fest I nearly threw up when I got out of bed and nearly got back in. It took a decade of running events before I got comfortable in the chaos. I'm hoping that decade pays off with a quicker acclimatization to this environment. I guess at some point though the work load has to peak and I'll manage to get my footing.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Babywearing, Not Just For Girls

I spent a couple hours yesterday with the wee bairn strapped to my back. The Missus makes these little carriers that look sort of like a slingshot but with a flip and a twist you've got your baby firmly on your back (or front) and can go about your business with your hands free. Here you see the two of us just grabbing some stuff out of my truck. Us boys were on the move, gettin' stuff done.We've been through all the phases of carrying a baby around. While delicately handling our first newborn we never even thought of slinging her around. Then we started spotting stuff in catalogues and got ourselves a Bjorn. Good idea, and the kids loved it, but we were constantly re-adjusting the straps to fit our different sized shoulders, and it wasn't really all that comfortable for the one's doing the packing.

Next came what was basically a frame pack with a seat in it, I think it was a Kelty, it's still collecting dust in the back hall. Another hefty investment that lead to all manner of muttered curses and strap pulling to get things situated. Again, the Shorties loved it, but it was a big pain in the neck (literally) and a hassle to cart around places.

Finally The Missus stumbled upon The Sling. A simple loop of fabric that just goes over a shoulder and your babe snuggles down in there, or if you hang it differently they can sit up or ride on your hip. Lo and behold, a method used by women for as long as fabric has been available to the human race hits the internet age.

The Missus acquired a couple and also a podegi (like you see me wearing in the photo) and suddenly we're in babywearing bliss. A simple piece of fabric, one size fits all, and when you're not using it you can fold it into the diaper bag (or continue to sport it as a fashion accessory if you're crafty like that).

She made a few for herself, for a few friends and now our front room is practically a podegi factory. She's set up on Etsy and looking to spread the joy and earn a little mad money. If your back is tired of all the modern methods of hauling your wee ones around it's worth a look. I think she's even got a free shipping deal going right now. Happy babywearing!

P.S. Yes, this did start out as a cute pic of me and my Shortie and turn into the history of baby apparatus at our house and end up as a plug for my wife's Etsy store. That's blogging for you.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Turning Japanese

I got e-mail notification of a couple comments on an older post and whaddaya know... they're in Japanese. With a quick trip to Babel Fish I was able to determine that it was just spam. I had to leave it up though because the nature of the translation is on par with other such comedic pinnacles and, "We are capture all your base." Here's the link:

iPod Or Lightsaber


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Feel The Burn

For no reason at all today this memory jumped to the forefront of my mind. It was about ten years ago that I was down in NYC visiting a couple college friends in the Village. We were looking for a bit and I spotted the Yaffa Cafe where I had eaten once with my roommate as a freshman. So we ducked in there, got a table for six and proceeded to soak up the atmosphere.

I ordered an omelet with onions and peppers in it and jumped back into conversation. I was parched from the evenings activity and my ice water was soon gone. The place was jammed and I couldn't get a refill to save my life.

Well, the food came and I don't know if I had just misread the menu or if some unintentional slight on my part caused the waiter to retaliate, but the omelet was mostly jalapeno peppers held together with a single egg.

I was starving so I wolfed it down anyway, at one point shoveling with one hand and holding my water glass over my head with the other. I was sweaty to begin with as we had been out drinking in New York in August. Between that, the place being packed and the omelet from hell I was drenched. I think I was actually high from all the capsaicin coursing through my bloodstream.

Anyway, that just popped into my head and I thought somebody might get a grin from the imagery. I'm off to see what's spicy in the Dayton Cafe. Nite all.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dear Tooth Fairy

This week I'm mixing a youth theater production of The Wiz. Because of the production schedule I'm only seeing my family for about an hour and a half each day. Yesterday after tossing down a few burritos with my Short People The Missus got them bundled into the car to take the two biggest ones off to soccer practie. It was shortly after that when the drama began.

Miss O, who is six, grabbed her water bottle for a quick sip in the middle of practice and knocked out her loose front tooth. With a mouth full of water a little blood goes a long way and between her screaming and the shocked screams of all the people around her it was apparently quite a scene. The Missus described it thusly:

Oh, someone's child is screaming.
Whoa, someone's child is really screaming.
Wow, that kid is really bloo-ohmygosh!

It was some serious drama there for a little bit cause my wee gal enjoys her a good flip out periodically. But eventually everything settled down and by the time practice was over she was skipping merrily down the street.

That night at bedtime she was a little conflicted about putting the tooth under her pillow for the Tooth Fairy. She wanted me to see it first. So she grabbed paper and a marker and taped a note to her door asking the T.F. to please wait until the next night. Then she placed the tooth on a shelf by her bed, underneath a little silver bed so that if the T.F. didn't see the note, the bell would wake her up. (She also wrote in parenthesis at the bottom, "I Love You")

In the morning the tooth was still safe and sound and I couldn't wait to get home from work to see it. As soon as Miss O came bounding up the stairs she showed me the new space in her face and demonstrated her new found difficulty pronouncing "th" sounds. A few minutes into dinner I asked her how soccer practice had gone.

"Pretty good except for the bloody screaming part."


She looked a little put out that I was laughing at her but I explained, as I often do, that it should be taken as a compliment when someone laughs at your "good line". Well, the house is packed and it's ten minutes to curtain. I'm off to mix a show.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Aw Fer Corn Sakes!

IT'S HERE! (This tasty post is dedicated to my man Irish Gumbo who is likely in need of a little salty-sweet goodness this week.) It's finally finally here. As we were driving by on our way home from a trip to the Scottish Games near Syracuse we saw The Sign was out and Wolfleycorn is back!

Wolfleycorn? Yeah, that's right, Wolfleycorn. Alloneword. That oh so delectable, home grown variety known as Butter & Sugar that the Wolfley family lovingly tends and sells by the side of the road is what I am talking about. Every year the townsfolk for miles around watch the fields and keep tabs on the weather and wait for the sign to appear.

Then the word spreads like wildfire. Faster than flames can jump from the parched boughs of a California redwood the word is passed across back yard grills, shouted from car windows, mulled over with salivating expectation between porches and sidewalks, it's even on Twitter this year! (I wonder if Wolfleycorn has a MyFace page yet?)

And then the moment finally arrives when one get's to the stand, a humble picnic table in the Wolfley's front yard. A few small bills are folded into the slot in the cash box and a dozen ears slide into the conveniently provided recycled plastic bag. Now for what you city slickers pay for a few tough old ears that we wouldn't feed our swine, much less our children, we are fairly rolling in the golden goodness over here.

The happy bundle is hurried home, often to a waiting pot of boiling water, hurriedly cooked for a few tense minutes and then... Oh sweet, salty, full-fat buttery Heaven! It's so tender you hardly need cook it at all. It's more to warm it so the butter will melt than anything else. The only way to get corn that is any more fresh and tender is to take boiling water into a field and bend the stalks over into it.

Little children dance and sing, old men glass over with nostalgia at corn so fine as this. OSHA requirements for the safe handling of butter go flying out the window and it drips from pairs of elbows on to the table cloth. A dozen ears disappear and talk breaks out of going back for another dozen for dessert. The menu every night for the next month is more than likely to include a healthy dose of Wolfleycorn.

Surely there is no doubt that all is right with the world. God is in His Heaven, smiling down on the residents of Alexander. The bounty of the Earth is ours to carry off and fill our bellies full. It's summer. The Sign is out!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Breaking The Surface

I'm like a stealth submarine surfacing after a long mission. Tonight I felt like putting a few words down to remember this time at a later date. We had some friends over for dinner and just had a time of it. Let me start at the beginning though.

I walked through the door today to hear a noise that sounded like my vacuum cleaner was going to need service. It turned out to be a Kirby salesman showing off the new model to The Missus. That was not the first thing that I noticed though. The first thing I noticed was that there was a greasy giant in my living room next to my wife. (And that's not a statement lightly made as I am 6'2") So with my hand on my knife I learned that the sweaty, porn-stached man was cleaning our couches for free and we did not intend to buy a new machine from him as our (very) expensive old one worked just fine and didn't sound like it was broken.

"It's the power" he said

"You couldn't pay me to listen to that" I said

"It only sounds like that in houses with hardwood floors" he said

"We've got hardwood floors" I said

He kept cleaning. We kept ignoring him. We paid him no attention as we prepared for dinner. He would extol this virtue or that one as we passed through the room. We continued to ignore him. The company showed up. He took a smoke break. He finally finished up and left a couple dozen filthy filter pads spread out on our floor, ostensibly leading up to a presentation about how much dirt was in our couches. Yeah. We know. Did you miss the four children (plus two visiting) in the picture dude?

At last we sat down to a quiet dinner. At least in relative terms. Six children fussing over dinner at the kids table in the other room is easily ignored when you roll like we do. The dads took turns getting up to give our ladies a break.

It was my first time hanging out with my wife's friend's husband. We had met a couple times but never had a chance to talk. We like all the same stuff. They raise animals, make wine, garden extensively. He was a true townie though apparently. He claimed no knowledge of a number of things that should be in the manly lexicon. How to change one's oil, tools, carpentry, the use of the word "shit" in polite conversation. (Really, it's totally acceptable if you live in the country. If you spoke to a farmer about a "manure spreader" he'd probably skip his groove for a second until he figured out what you were talking about.)

So now I've got a buddy who needs to learn some stuff and I love to learn people about stuff. Even better is that he's interested in putting on his own steel roof and I'm just about to do one at the Dayton Ranch. What a perfect opportunity. I have a feeling there's going to be a well worn path between our places before long. It's a rare event 'round here when the women folk can sit like hens while the men folk go and play. I'm excited.

And out of words. It's bedtime. G'nite.