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Monday, August 23, 2010

The Cee-ment Pond Problem

Good grief, has it been another week already?  Sheesh.

My parents came down for a visit this weekend, and it was nice to see them, as always.  And Jack's activity level was supernatural, as usual.  With the grownups sitting around the table, it all looked like those time-lapse videos where people and dogs and squirrels run lightning-fast near a static park bench.  It was exhausting just watching the kid skim imaginary debris off the tile floor.  Yeah, so I incautiously let him watch me skim off the cee-ment pond and voila:  Copycat Pool Dude.

Majesty decreed, and rightly I think, that Jack should witness me doing more mainstream, sportsy-type dad activities.  So I spent a solid half hour trimming muscadine vines off of the inherited basketball goal in the back driveway.  Okay, waitaminit.  I can actually hear you snickering.  Yes, me shooting a roundball will be hilarious.  And yes, it's only a matter of time before I attempt to flip pucks up into the hoop.

I'm also strategerizing on how to install a putting green on my top balcony.  You think I'm kidding.

I read an article today about time, and just how much of it we're all wasting.  Which is ironic, seeing as how this blogging thing is a huge giant massive big big big enormous timewaste.  I choose to rationalize around the obvious conclusion.  Anyway, check this blurb out:
The authors of Discretionary Time write about the concept of "time poverty": "We all know about the working poor, people whose wages are so low that they cannot escape poverty even by working full-time.  There are also people who manage to avoid being 'money poor' only by making themselves 'time poor' -- that is, working terribly long hours."
And this one:
...the researchers argue that time is better than money as an indicator of success. [emphasis mine]*
By that measure, I told HM this morning, I have arrived.

No, really.  I think I have.  If that's the true measure of prosperity or success, then I've never had more time to spend with my family.  And I'm incredibly grateful for that.  And shocked, too.  And grateful.  Did I say grateful?  Because I am.  But contented?  Well, that's tougher.

I'm also hopelessly uncreative when it comes to whiling away those newfound hours in a fun, productive, memorable, good-dad way.  And so the kicker is exactly what to do with time, once you're fortunate enough to reclaim it.

*Zimmerman, Mike "How to Live Better on 24 Hours A Day." Men's Health Sept 2010:  140-141

Monday, August 16, 2010

Two Much

Jack turned two this past week.  So he's been in our lives (in a literal sense) for something like 33 months, and even longer than that in a larger, less specific way.  To tell you the truth, I feel like he has always been with us.  I occasionally note, "Oh, that was before we had Jack."  Which is an interesting way to recall things:  remembering what was not present.

Happy birthday, my boy.  You are our ever-whirling surprise and joy and pride and love.

I have a ton to write today, but will only get to a fraction of it.  I've been in 'travelogue' mode for most of a week, and I have accumulated more information than I can ever hope to record.  Another day.  So right after Jack's 2nd, I bolted off on an extremely rare business trip to the Pac Northwest.  And by "business," I mean sleeping like polished granite, unsuccessfully fishing for chinook salmon, and doing some serious meet 'n greet along the way.
Departure
E.C.:  "OkayIloveyoubye."
H.M."PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME WITH HIM!"

Arrival
E.C.:  "I missed you!"
H.M."Don't leave me again.  Ever.  You're not leaving again."
Evidently Jack got bored pretty quickly when I was gone, and took it out on The Help.  But he was nice enough to make suggestions:  (1) "Go Beebee's house." or (2) "Daddy elephant" [A then logistically impossible ride on my shoulders dodging low doorframes, singing the march from The Jungle Book].

When those didn't fly, I heard he tried to keep busy by doing some light yardwork.  He's obsessed with my Stihl leaf blower.  We constantly hear, "YOWD BAWAH!" [loud blower!].  He will.  Not.  Let it.  Go.  So when a large cardboard tube shows up in the house, he strikes.  Constantly wandering the house, the tube tucked under his arm, he blows off the terrazzo again and again.  Excellent.  Just the career path I had in mind:  Yard Dude.  Maybe I should have clarified that "Ivy League" doesn't really have much to do with tending actual ivy.  And get this.  When the 'blower' isn't in use it goes in the 'garage,' which is not the garage at all but, in fact, the space behind the couch.  Semantics.

And there's the counting.  Anything, as you can imagine, can be counted.  Shoes.  Dogs.  Ice cubes.  The Skip can reliably go to five in Italiano, en Español, and en Français, and a bit higher in the mother tongue.  But y'know, sometimes he gets hung up.  Like when you ask him to count the BANS [fans] in the living room.  There are two.  But no, to Jack, there are UN, TOO, FUH, FAAH, SEEKS, SEFUH.  Whatever.  Who really ever uses "three" anyway?  I mean, 2+2=4.

For his birthday, we got him another diversion, a little fakey kitchen.  With a grill*.  I spent the last part of a day of living death migraine assembling and putting the myriad stickers on it.  So when the counting and the yardwork became tedious, he headed over to make the first of a thousand pots of ghost coffee, and slap another (fake) ketchup bottle on the barbie.  Mmmm.  Fake grilled fake ketchup.  My favorite.

It was good to get back to all the insanityMajesty assured me that next year, she's the one skipping town for a few days, not me.  Told me not to even try it.

I'll try to post some (arguably funny) travel stories scribbled in my notebook during the semi-boring return flight.

*It's WAY cool.  Has little fake flames and everything.  Heck, I'll sit there and play right alongside him.  I'm 33.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Doppelganger Home Tour

Another Apology?
After a week of vacation, I have plenty to report.  I have plenty of pictures to show off.  What I don't have is the camera cord that went missing in the house somewhere.  So then, I'll unwisely promise a full photo montage visual extravaganza of our adventures in South Alabama later on, both from land and sea.  (Print this out as your rain check.)

Where the Skies Are So Blue
As is required on vacation, we did a lot of things we don't ordinarily do.

Like falling into a river while kayaking (that would be me).  I thought H.M. was going to hyperventilate.  After splashdown, I just heard a lot of stifled laughter and a wheezing sound.

Like going shopping for Jack, without Jack (Majesty).  Every time we hit Mobile, H.M. is sure to crash all the baby clothing stores.  The city's economy pretty much revolves around our vacation plans.  If you're not familiar, generally kids in certain parts/families in the South are dressed differently than in other places.  The whole thing's very traditional, involving white shoes and smocking (smocking sounds like a frat hazing ritual to me).  So it's a huge no-no to dress babies like, you know, lumberjacks, in distressed jeans and work boots and flannel shirts.  Hmmm.  I think I've written about this before.

Like going to the driving range with Uncle Buck Uncle Blake.  That makes my 4th formal golf experience to date.  You should see that poor place.  While I was chopping excitedly, I almost killed 3 raccoons and a fox (really).  The little critters must have been scared out of their minds, and they dashed across the range like a WWI movie charge across No Man's Land.  (They survived.)

Like having a Date Day.  We went to a little PseudoMex place for lunch, a gallery for local artists, and finished up at Cafe 615 on Dauphin Street.  I think Reese Witherspoon's younger sister waited on us.  She upsold me into the fried green tomatoes, and I'm grateful for that.

Like boating to dinner.  I mean, I don't really frequent a lot of joints with piers and tie-ups by the front door.  Unless they're for horses.  We had a big dinner with Jack doing wind sprints from either end of the deck beforehand.  Uncle Jay and I refereed the track meet.

Like playing in a fountain in your skivvies (Jack).  We had dinner at a pizzeria in one of my favorite downtowns.  After dinner we stripped Jack to his overnight and he played in the water until it dragged the ground.  He sat on the fountains.  He got sprayed in the face.  He laughed.  And ran.  And giggled.  And screamed.  And we mined pictorial gold.  And got lots of post-dinner entertainment.  He liked it so much, we did another round when we got back to Texas.

Robert Plant, of all people, was about to play a concert a block away, so his roadies all got to witness Jack's madness.  I was on the lookout for the frizzy blonde hair of a certain aging Englishman.  "Mr. Plant!  Mr. Plant!  I'm a huge wet diaper fan and can you sign my son's Led Zeppelin?!  Mr. Plant?  Wait!"

Like going out to a real-deal ice cream parlor.  Old Dutch has been in Mobile for 40-something years, but I had never been in there until this trip.  We got Jack the kiddie-sized strawberry, and he obliterated it.  The sugarbombed kid was so high that he started doing his Spider-Man trick between the table and the wall.  He was NUTS and didn't go to sleep until I think past 10pm.  Uh, I think ice cream will be a very rare treat for Captain Calorie in the future.

Like going out to a grownup movie.  Christopher Nolan's Inception?  Wow.  I mean, wow.  One of the best films I've seen.  Go check that out if you want your noodle baked.  Wow.

1st Annual Doppelganger Home Tour
One last thing.  There's this wacko idea floating around called Doppelganger Theory.  If memory serves, it states that every person on the planet has an exact copy running around somewhere.  So in Australia, or The Gambia, your exact twin is also flipping out over their encroaching gray hairs and too-long second toes, just like you are.   Now, that's probably all a bunch of hooey.  But darn it if I think there might be something to it, now.  I've discovered that we left reasonable facsimiles of ourselves in our old neighborhood, tending our old house.  Know how I know?

After we got back into town, Majesty and I toured... Home Port 2.0.  With the new owners.  This odd little experience is RIPE with blog material, but I'll just say that visiting your own (former) home, filled with someone else's things, and someone else's dog, and most importantly someone else is surreal beyond imagination.  They had received some mail for us, and wanted to return it.  We were going to be nearby the next day.  Okay, great.  Turned out to be really nice folks.  So in this Bizarro World alternate universe, he's a hockey guy, she has precisely the same interior deco tastes as Majesty, they have a dog named Baloo*, they had their house hit by a tree during the Ike citywide insurance claim bonanza fiasco, he works in the general area I do, and everybody got along pretty much like peas and carrots for forty minutes.  They are us.  THEY ARE US.

Majesty said what was on my mind:  "You know, I think I'd like to hang out with them."  At least I won't have to ask for directions.

* Frequent visitors to CJMP will note that Jack is unnaturally obsessed with Disney's 1967 Jungle Book.