Wednesday, March 31, 2010

We've Been Reduced To Eating Cat Food

It's not as bad as it sounds. We have a sick kitty and after a dose of antibiotics the vet suggested we boil some hamburger and rice to feed him to help bulk up again. I was in charge of the operation and made a large portion so I wouldn't have to make more later. At the time I thought with a smirk that it would be funny to feed some to the baby or if the whole family wound up eating it.

The very next night we were strapped for dinner ideas so out the stuff came and we had at it. Here's the recipe:

- Saute one chopped onion in olive oil
- Add a quart of canned tomatoes, juice and all
- Add appropriate amount of burger/brown rice (cat food)
- Cook a while, season to taste and enjoy.

I used some sea salt, white pepper and a pinch of oregano. As cat food goes I'd have to say I highly prefer my version to some of the dry cat food I ate on various dares in college. The kids ate it with a minimum of complaining and that's an item in its favor as well.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Just Call Me "Crash"

So there I was. Driving home from a gig about an hour away and starving because I'd been up since 4:00 am with nothing of any substance to eat yet. I spied a McDonalds on the other side of a four lane street and found a spot to turn in just past it. I got through the traffic without getting clipped and looked to my left to see if I needed to get back out in to traffic or if I could just thread my way down through the parking lot.

Then this happened:

I heard Cruuuuuuuuuuuuunch! and thought, "Crap, I hit a shopping cart" but then realized I wasn't moving and turned to find a telephone pole had worked its way right up close to my dash board. I limped the truck back off it and into a parking spot and got out to check things out. I took a couple pictures and sent one off to Effbook because hey, own it, I say.

Here's the layout of this particular patch of parking lot:
The pole must have been in the A-post blind spot as I turned left into the lot because I blithely aimed my truck where one would usually pilot a vehicle in a parking lot. Between the rows of stripes. I was looking off to my left where I was heading. Except in this particular parking lot there happens to be a large pole right in the middle of the lane. One with a good deal of electricity supported on its upper reaches and not a bollard anywhere around it nor a drop of marker paint. You can tell it gets clipped all the time, my ding wasn't the only one.

Fortunately I was going less than ten miles an hour so the air bags didn't go off. The seat belt didn't even lock up. Unfortunately I had a trailer packed solid with sound gear behind me that approximately doubles the mass of the vehicle. Sans trailer I would have likely just needed a new bumper. With the extra momentum, I'm screwed. It may be a total loss.

So that happened.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Minus Two

I was commenting to The Missus the other day about overhearing some people complaining about their children. Somebody was whining about having to go and do several stressful things with, brace yourselves, both children! Not that I'm wanting to toot our own horns for surviving four children. Lots of people do lots more and live to tell the tale.

But it got me to thinking that if I had to go to say... three retail locations, the library and drop something off at a friend's house with two children I'd feel like I was on vacation! The Missus said she'd feel up for almost anything at that point. "Hey, let's go bra shopping!" she said. I think it's not necessarily the total number of children you have to tote around though. I think the critical number is negative two.

Example: Bill and Mary have seven brats darling children and manage to ditch have two of them spend the afternoon with friends while they take the rest shopping for school clothes. The entire time this happy, hypothetical couple feels as though a tremendous weight has been lifted off their shoulders and that anything is possible. I'd be willing to bet that even the Duggers* would experience some detectable change if they off-loaded a pair of offspring on the grandparents for an afternoon. It might take precisely calibrated scientific equipment, but I'll bet my lab coat it would be there.

*The Duggers are a family from Utah who have 27 x 10 ³ children.

This has been my 200th post at The Mister. Thanks for stopping by.


Monday, March 22, 2010

All Things Bright and Beautiful

A few nights ago I finished up reading a book to Miss O and started in on All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot. It was just another dusty old tome left over from The Missus' childhood. Some similar books that we have cracked together have been greats like "All The Mowgli Stories" by Rudyard Kipling (Where the Jungle Book came from), others have been duds due to her age and interest, "Treasure Island" was a strike out.

At any rate, tales of a Yorkshire vet in the 1940s have a certain resonance for me. Growing up I worked a couple summers on one of the few remaining homestead farms in the area. The last of a dying breed of farmers who supported their families with forty Holsteins and a few hilly acres. There's something truly timeless about working a farm like that, nestled in the hills. If there's not a jet going over and you happen to be looking where there aren't any power lines it's quite easy to forget when you are.

Sure, some days you're in the cab of a giant diesel tractor, with a kick baler and wagon in tow. Some days, however, you're leading the girls back into a barn that was built before the advent of electricity. Some days you find yourself mending fences with a sledge hammer that may have been used to build that barn. Everything is settled in. It's easy to forget the world at large and be covered over by the smell of sweat, old wood and sweet Timothy hay.

I've also seen the new face of farming. I've not only seen but had a hand in building some of the new factory farms. While the work on a small farm is repetitious and never ending, there's a certain futility that comes from screwing down two acres of aluminum roofing so 800 head of cattle can stay out of the elements. Sure there are lots of advances in technology and method that let fewer people milk more cows and keep the animals happy and healthy, but there's something distasteful about the whole thing.

Only the strong survive, and if we're all to have milk on our tables it takes these huge farms. It's just kind of sad that it's become like any other industry. Computers read ear tags and feed out based on production. Automated barns and milkers mean thousands of cows can live day to day and hardly ever see a human being. Gone are the days when a man and his family knew every animal by name.

I'm glad I got a chance to see a society where the people who put food on our tables lived all around us. Not retired executives who run hobby farms. Leather faced men who lived in their fields and stumped in and out of town with shit up to their belt buckles. Men who ran tight little operations, tidy family farms with nothing but their wits and an old International. Dusty old guys in green Deere and DeKalb hats that consulted with the younger guys about the weather and crops and animals.

I may be idealizing it just a bit but I think you see what I'm getting at. All that is being replaced in the modern world. Internet research and GPS guided tractors, genetic alterations and growth hormones, mega-barns and turn-table milkers, it's just another business. It seems as though all the soul has gone out of it.

Fortunately I can still see a glimmer of hope. The more people become disgusted at what they're eating the more they'll be looking for organic stuff. And at the moment that only comes from small farms. It's just a glimmer mind you, but somewhere out there in the future it could all come full circle again.

Here's hopin'.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Takeoff Roll

So I'm up solo this morning getting mah boys ready for Sunday school cause The Missus was up all night with the babe. We had a pleasant piece of toast together, combed some unruly mops and then just in time we grabbed coats and shoes to head out the door.

Coats and...

Yeah, there in lies the rub.

My Missus has done a spectacular job making sure the Short People have the appropriate footwear for any occasion. They've each got:
  • Flip flops
  • Crocs (mmmmyeah)
  • Water shoes
  • Sneakers
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Work boots
  • Puddle boots
  • Snow boots
as well as some of them having ballet slippers, fuzzy slippers, Buzz Lightyear boots and a few other assorted items.

I've even gone so far as to build each of them a locker by the door, one pair of which has a large bin underneath for shoes. It's four feet wide, two feet deep and a foot high. Shoes generally spill out of it and sometimes completely impede the five foot archway that leads into the living room.

This morning, like many others I found myself scaling Mount Footware in a desperate search for a second shoe of pretty much any kind to put on little H-Bomb. He's the worst of em. Last year he lost so many shoes that The Missus bought him a one dollar pair of flip flops and that was all he was allowed to have. (He still has them, one of them at least as of this morning.)

Well dog my cats if I could find even a close match for that guy. There he stands, pants on, hair combed, jacket zipped, rejoicing at each new find only to have to wait a little longer to see if I can find the other one. He finally went out the door in one olive green imitation croc of his own and one blue one belonging to his older brother. His was a right and the other was a left and they were, of course, on the wrong foot.

Somewhere along the line he has come to a deep and profound understanding of left vs. right that is at odds with what we've taught the rest of the children and will not deviate from it for love or money. He is firmly convinced that his left foot is his right and vice versa, the kicker is that he also knows which shoe is the left and right (a correct understanding). So every time he grabs a pair, he carefully reverses them to make sure they're on the "correct" foot.

So finally, with two minutes to spare, I zipped the wee bairn into his fuzzy traveling togs and out the door we went with my blood pressure sky high and my pulse zinging in my ears. I don't know why this is such a big deal for me today but for some reason it is. At some point today there is going to be a grand reckoning of the footware. I'm going to cull the herd as it were and bring them safely home to roost in the comfy confines of the shoe bin.

So help me.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Say It Again

This. Does. Not. Suck.

Every once in a while I take a look around and think about all the possibilities of life. It's not good to spend a whole lot of time thinking about the might-have-beens and the could-have-dones but it's worth the occasional mull. Job choices, career moves, all of that stuff.

Thing is though, for most of my life it has been my top priority to get married and raise a family in my home town. It took a long time for that to float to the forefront of consciousness, but it finally got there and I've pretty much got it covered now. (See wife and four kids growing up in the house my grandparents used to own which is just up the street from where I grew up. I win.)

I deleted this paragraph four times trying to get it right, so here it is, short form:

I slave away to earn every dime we spend, The Missus slaves away to make every morsel we eat and my kids think things like home schooling and raising chickens on a town lot are normal. I can wear a kilt to work and get away with it. Rock stars and high rollers ain't got nothin' on me.

I. Win.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In Brief

Things are going great at work but I don't make enough money to live on.

eg. Deposit four figure paycheck on Friday. Have zero dollars on Tuesday. It's an equation that works out to the cube root of suck. Factor in that we're pretty much doing every single thing we can think of to be cheap miserly stingy thrifty already, there's really not much for it unless the music scene decides it wants to recover and keep me busy every weekend again. Mmmmmmyeaaahhh. Not holding my breath.

So I'm asking for a raise and doing a phone interview just in case.

But God... things are just starting to go right at work!

Sit tight kid, I know what I'm doin!


In other news the two cats that I sort of like are starting to look extremely scruffy and one is barfing regularly. Here's another equation. Sick cats + no money to fix sick cats = two down, one to go until we're obligated to buy the kids a dog.

A brief pause while I go look for bourbon.

And lastly, somebody made a movie about Lemmy. Can. I. Get. A. HELL! YEAH! Finally a rock biopic that I actually want to see. Dave Grohl gushing in the teaser was enough to make me want to go shave my beard into mutton chops.

And that's enough for one day. I'm off to scrounge spare change in the couch cushions while blasting Overkill. Good night and good luck. In Motörhead we trust!

P.S. The following video is not suitable for work. Or if you have small children around. And be careful, the song has three endings, this is not for the faint of heart.


Monday, March 8, 2010

In The Details

Scroll down one post if you clicked over here from The Dayton Time religion post.

I was just thinking about how social media come and go. Time was when to really be a hipster in the cyber-community you had to be on AOL. (shudder) I'll leave the reminiscences of the dark ages (IRC) for another time. Fast forward through ICQ, Yahoo, MySpace and so on and now it seems if you ain''t on Effbook and Twitter you're out in the cold.

But that's not what got me thinking. There's all these forums for digital photos now too. I'm not the shutterbug in the family so I have almost nothing to do with them. Apart from the few hundred snaps in my phone I don't have much to do with the photo documentation of our life. But it's a huge thing for me.

Looking back at the photo albums my parents have from when I was growing up you can easily see how a year-in-the-life translated almost exactly to one roll . An average of two frames per month of Kodak Gold 200 is all the imagery I have to look back on. Having a wife with a good camera who knows how to use it is such a blessing. She's the type of person who will take 2000 pictures throughout the kids' soccer season and cull the herd down to thirty really amazing shots.

The big fun for me is sifting through all the dregs though. Looking back at shots of my family growing up everyone else glances at a group of relatives in the kitchen around a birthday cake and remembers when Junior turned four. I look at the same picture and say, "Huh, I remember that blender..." And my eyes continue to hunt and peck around the periphery, taking in a snippet of wall paper and a dash of cabinet door handles along with a healthy dose of Grandma's horn rims and I'm solidly, vividly back in my childhood days. So a huge folder packed with failed shots are a treasure trove to me.

My mother's photo albums consist almost entirely of posed shots of everyone available arranged in ranks in front of whatever significant scenery was available. Pictures of backyard birthday parties don't look much different than trips to France. Catching the good bits is kind of tough. How much better to look back in twenty years and see all the odd angles of daily living and catch a glimpse of an annoyed toddler next to a stack of long gone books with a few branches from the dearly departed Maple tree peeking in the window!


Sunday, March 7, 2010

God And Stuff

The Missus is fielding questions about faith on her last post and linked to mine. While neither of us tend to go on at length on the subject it's worth bringing it up once in a while. So fire away in the comment section. I'll lay it down a little to get things started.

Yes, I'm sure there's a God.

Yes, I know there are thousands of examples of people doing heinous things in the name of religion and my best guess is that they are all getting what they deserve.

I likely don't know a single answer to any questions about communion or saints or anything else much in the way of true theological thought. My faith tells me to love my God and my neighbor so I've just been working on that.

In fact, there's not much that's overtly Christian about me. I'm "churchy" enough to make guys at work a little nervous and worldly enough to make people at church nervous. The thing is that I'm the same guy every day of the week and that's all there is to it. My goal is just to live my life in a manner that God would find pleasing and not crow about it too much. If somebody figures out what it is about me that's different and asks about it, then it's time for a conversation.

Quite often the answer goes like this, "You know me. Do you think I would do this if it sucked? Do you think I would take on this label if it wasn't worth it?"


Friday, March 5, 2010

Frame Of Reference

Even before my oldest was born I found myself looking around at other people's children. Mostly other people's daughters because while I have a basic knowledge of what it's like to be a boy, other than chasing them on the playground I really don't know much about girls.

It's turned into kind of a fun game. Whenever I run across some exceptional young lass I make kind of a silent prayer that my girl turns out as smart, or outgoing, or independent as the kid I'm seeing. From what I've seen of school age girls in the local theater scene I'm confident that my high hopes are not in danger of being dashed.

But now I'm finding that the game is no longer a necessity. Not being terribly self-aware in my formative years I was unaware of the following fact:

Kids are blissfully themselves until they go to school, then they spend a decade or two trying to be just like everybody else for the most part.

Which is not to say that my daughter came home from kindergarten all cookie cutter and stuff. But suddenly I was noticing speech patterns that weren't her, and her taste in music became decidedly main stream. She's still all the things that make her our special little kid, but there's a definite element of The Herd in her manner now.

So now instead of playing the game as a casual observer I'm playing for keeps. If there's one thing I could do over in my life it would be to have relaxed about being myself when I was in grade school instead of after college. So now, if there's one thing I accomplish as a parent I hope it will be to enable my kids to be as comfortable in their own skin as possible.

It's not easy growing up a smarty-pants oddball. I can't imagine it's going to be any easier growing up the progeny of a pair of such oddballs. The move that wins the game will be showing how being different from the heard has its own distinct advantages.

Game on!