Monday, October 27, 2008

Early Edition

I'm as mad as, well...

El Comodoro, dear readers, is hacked off this morning. We're talking Peter Finch mad, here. The 'roided up nerfball that opens up the gym decided to skip work today, and left us sucker madrugadores, as they say, out in the cold. The little man standing outside that I talked to had it right: "Lazy people!"

Alright, enough of the Captain's general staff's issues and on to the Captain himself. Uncle Mike, who's wife is working on providing Jack a bosom's mate, came over to inaugurate the longest unsupervised stretch without mommy ever. It was no sweat, however, since E.C. and Mike are parenting naturals, and yours truly is also incredibly lucky, as we discussed last week. Lots of chit-chat, a bit of Casino Royale, and whammo, Her Majesty arrived to bail the Cap'n outta daycare. We're a well-oiled, finely tuned machine around here.

The Top Brass showed up on Saturday for a quick visit and spot inspection of the Fleet. We had some lunch and some birthday pie, and it was a fine day for all of that. El Comodoro got a replacement for his favorite book-on-tape, Robinson Crusoe. The old copy had been listened to so many times that a tape or two was worn out. Now we have a new one to recite poor Robin's predicament to Jack also. I neglected to mention Jack until now because he was asleep below decks for all but 30 minutes of the visit. So much for respecting your elders.

Saturday night we suited Jack up in exceedingly festive Halloween garb, and got HMS Tahoe underway for a short cruise to Humble for a pumpkin-carving party. The Skipper directed the crew to carve the Jolly Roger, of all things, into the side of one ill-fated pumpkin. Essentially an advertisement for piracy and lawlessness (the Captain prefers the term privateering for fun and profit), the pumpkin now is on prominent display near 16th Street and Shepherd. It's a long story. But the crew enjoyed themselves, with one in particular getting all hopped up on candy corn. He doesn't get out much.

...and I'm not going to take this anymore!

Sunday morning came early for the revelers, and Jack groggily decided he'd like to dress in his baseball attire (see pic) in honor of the World Series. He grew weary of the very good lesson by our token Londoner, and retired to the nursery. Then, when all was quiet, and in blatant disregard for the solemnity of his surroundings, he decided to strike, El Tiempoing Melanie again, exactly 1 week after the last attack. I suggested that he go forward after church, but he was shockingly unrepentant. The kid needs some religion, if he could ever stay awake during the sermon. Pray that he turns from his evil ways!

Jack has found his fists this week, and is reaching, and grabbing, and punching. I don't see this ending well for the crew.

Monday, October 20, 2008

El Tiempoed

All Melanie wanted to do was to have lunch with her long lost friends. But Jack had other plans. Sinister plans.

The Captain's party graced El Tiempo for brunch on Sunday with nuestros amigos. Her Majesty was feeding Jack in the stern of HMS Tahoe while the rest of us settled in to the beginnings of a great luncheon on one of my favorite patios in Houston. Looking back, I did notice that they were taking their sweet time about it. But being the completely bumbling and insensitive jerk that I am cursed to walk this earth as, I had some more chips.

Meanwhile, back at the ship, Jack had managed to hose down the hold, himself, his peacoat and H.M. with gobs of poopy. And spitup. Did I mention poopy? Y'know that scene from The Exorcist? You're with me now. I could berate you with the gory, and I mean gory details my lovely wife bravely endured, but that would be in violation of our new Mission Statement. Gosh, from witnessing (and smelling) the aftermath, I'll wager it was horrendous. Glad I was swilling fresh-squeezed OJ and being overly chatty while all that was going down! I think parenting is half prayer, half caffeine, and half blind luck. And 3/8ths conflict avoidance. El Comodoro really dodged a bullet on this one.

The day was GORGEOUS. And in Houston, Texas, you treasure all 6 of those days above all others in the year. We high tailed it with the prevailing winds over to the semi-former neighborhood and took a walk at the park.

El Capitan continues to grow, and is smiling and laughing more. He's wreaking havoc on the fleet's lower backs by taking on even more ballast. Jack holds his head up for ridiculous spans, but looks a bit like the bobblehead in the car in front of you. And now a brief announcement from Jack:


More next week, everybody.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

General Quarters

I promised someone a more positive post this week. But more positive doesn't mean it can't be weird! Maybe this will give you a little flavor of our lives in the past week or so.

And you may find yourself in another part of the world.
I hastily sailed myself back over to the Port of Mobile last Friday, where I found Her Majesty and the Captain diverting themselves by playing croquet, singing The Wheels on the Bus and hanging mutineers. They were very pleased at my report on the goings on at Home Port, which were significant, let me just tell you. It was decided to sail back to Houston on Sunday, and we had a very VERY favorable wind to speed the Chevy Longboat towards home. When he was awake, Jack was a trooper, and seemed not too bothered to be dragged all over the southern United States by his refugee parents.

Ah, I almost forgot an announcement I was instructed to pass along:

You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack.
Well, he got darned close to Home Port, at least. We finally knuckled under and rented an apartment down on Washington that is quite literally, on the other side of the tracks. More properly, it's on the other side of other side of the tracks. It's a nice enough place, but the train horn will just about deafen you if you're lucky enough to be outside as one of the 1,862 daily freight trains pass. It's not to be missed. I worry that Jack will now grow up to be a hobo. Or a train robber. Or a train-robbing hobo.

And you may tell yourself, "This is not my beautiful house!"
Melanie took pretty well the shock of seeing her semi-former home trashed to high heaven, considering part of it's ripped down to the studs and soaked in Clorox. We did what we could to prepare for the movers, and after they removed the furnishings to the cargo hold, we're all set to renovate. I think.

And you may ask yourself, "Well, how did I get here?"
Even though we're a bit dazed now, there's at least the awesomeness (you heard me) of seeing Jack much more alert now, and smiling lots more. I don't really ask him the reason for his jocularity, I just go with it. Because I don't want to know. Actually, because I already know.

And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile.
Jack LOVES his BOB hansom, and turns downright narcoleptic when he gets pushed around all over creation. Incidentally, if you find yourself moving into apartments/dorm rooms, you pre-children folks would do well to borrow one of these things. It's awfully handy, and way cleaner than a pack mule.

And you may ask yourself, "How do I work this?"
Another of the Captain's favorite activities is a good hard kick workout on the Baby Einstein playmat. I had never been exposed to the playmat phenomenon before, but these things are, well, genius (but you knew that from the name). Imagine if you had a big soft comforter, with all kinds of animals or shapes colorfully illustrated on it, and 2 crossbars with plush animals and toys and rattles hanging from it. It plays music, flashes lights, and it probably makes a good cup of coffee. I mean, this is the nuclear option in baby diversionary tactics. Best 15 bucks ever spent on resale, hands down. So the baby's job is to lie there and be entertained. And exercise. And learn cognitive skills. I guess it's equivalent to watching opera on a treadmill. While we're on the subject, Jack is into toys far more than when his absentee father last saw him. Stuffed puppy dogs, giraffes, monkeys, and ducks are all included in the faux-menagerie we've started.

Into the blue again, after the money's gone.
I can't describe how glad I am to have the family all within the same state line again. So I won't. But it's good. Really good.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Running off the map

In days of yore, before all of this GPS foolishness, sailors would carry maps, sometimes hand-drawn ones, to help navigate the oceans as they knew them. There's an obvious problem here, if you happened to stray somewhere your map didn't illustrate. You sailed right off the edge, if you will. I'm sure this wasn't an everyday occurrence, but I'll bet it was significant when it did happen.

I've gone off the map, and gosh I feel low. Lost and adrift. Without a compass, to continue the analogy. I miss Melanie. I miss my JackBaby. I even miss smelly, shedding, neurotic First Mate Belle. In lieu of updated pictures, which I don't have, I post this one, courtesy of Jay's iPhone. Between this imposed-singleness, insurance hassles, remodeling, my day gig, and Townes Van Zandt songs, I'm not going to make it for long. That's it - I'm officially putting out the call! · · ·— — — · · ·— — — · · ·— — — · · ·— — — · · ·

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Stormbraining. Brainstorming. Whatever.

I traveled back to Mobile on Friday past where I gave the Captain and Her Majesty a full and complete report of my activities and observations whilst marooned. They are well, and approved of my supervision of the tree removal at home port. They were, however, none too pleased with the lack of progress in procuring an insurance adjuster (neither was I, to tell you the truth).

Jack has grown! In the 10 days or so that I had been away he was a bit heftier than I remembered. He must have been dipping into the ship’s stores overmuch. Don’t tell him I said that. Really. I also heard this week that the Captain had made his first official foray in his new hansom. It'll have to work until we can acquire a Lipizzaner stallion. Uh, yeah. Anyway, Melanie paraded him around her parents' neighborhood to show the locals our fine example of infant humanity. Early reports are saying he enjoyed himself immensely, at least when he was conscious during the ride. It's so tiring to be master of all you survey.

Back to Houston on Monday. It was very tough leaving my newly-organized family behind, but somebody's got to line the coffers. I had a good long time on I-10 and a beautiful day to muse the national goings-on, and hit the Talk Radio circuit with gusto. In light of what I do for a living, it was a heckuva day. A $700 billion with a ‘buh’ bailout, a near 800-point drop in the Dow, LIBOR popping, the commercial paper market grinding to a halt, and a partridge in a pear tree.

If you aren’t a financial-type, and don’t know (or care to know) a yield curve from a yield sign, I hear ya. But what’s happening, I’ll have you know, is historic. So let's say you build houses. One day you drive up to a job site, and the guys have run out of nails. They need more. But you can’t get more. Actually, you discover that you’re fresh out of not only nails, but everything made of metal. Everyone is. The stores don't have it. It’s nowhere to be found. That’s what it was like Monday, on some level. An essential tool or resource, in this case credit, was scarce. Word of the day: spooky.

I continue to be amazed, and daunted, about how complex this world is. By extension, I wonder how to tell Jack about all that when it’s time. I was talking to someone recently that I think has great wisdom. I really don’t know them that well, but do I know enough to know when to shut up and listen to somebody that’s wiser than me. Do they understand every nuance of what’s going on in the world and why? Nope. But what I found astounding was that they understood enough about themselves that it didn't matter. Maybe that’s the answer: knowing just enough, and being at peace with that. On the other hand, I'm pretty darn sure this person knows a whole lot about their faith, about God, Jesus, and all them ‘postles. It's something to think about, in terms of parenting, anyway.