Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Week in Haiku

Thomas, Tank Engine
Came to Rusk for Jack to see
Short ride up?  Snowcones

We went up to the Texas State Railroad in Rusk two weekends back.  If you're within striking distance, you can't miss this, whatever your age.  It's basically a very limited railroad complete with period steam engines and coaches.  I actually did this trip when I was very young, taking the longer available trip between Palestine, TX and Rusk.  No, no.  PALLUH steen.  There you go, that was good.  I vividly remember the ring pop mom & dad bought me.  My first.

We drove up there to come full circle and repeat history to see Thomas.  You know the one.  The obsession of bahzillions of little boys.  Random Thomas the Tank Engine factoid:  Ringo Starr used to narrate the TV show.  Former Beatles reading to your child is awesome.  Where was I?

Thomas in Rusk, yeah.  So somehow dude found a way to get from the island of Sodor down to Tejas, and there he was, in all of his full sized, blue-painted glory, smoking smokestack and all.  Hooked up to a real train.  That you ride on.  Jack's head almost exploded.  Grammy and Grandpa met us over there, and we all tried to stall the exasperated Yakubu while we waited for 10:45.  He got his picture (which we forgot... parenting FAIL) made with Sir Topham Hatt (for you uninitiated, just picture Mr. Peanut, but as a doughy Englishman, and you're pretty much there.  He's the mayor/jefe of Sodor, if memory serves).

The train ride through the rough piney woods was beautiful, and ended far too soon.  We'll do the longer trip to Palestine (no, no, STEEN.  Right.) a few years from now, I think.  But the weather was absolutely pristine, and uncharacteristically breezy.  So the drive up was way more pleasant than I would have ever predicted.  But hey, put me behind the wheel in the Texas hinterland on a picturesque day, and I'm beyond happy.

After we got done with Thomas, we all had a picnic under a pavilion and ate tutti frutti and tiger's blood snowcones.  We looked like the local vampire family.

Jack was so beat - he was still recovering from the World's Longest Running Illness AND a huge growthicus spurticus - that he ended up lying in Majesty's lap, the rest of him spread out down the picnic table bench like warm peanut butter.  That's what they call COMPLETELY UNHEARD OF, people.
"C'mon Aaron, let's
Go play" was heard... Hermann Park
Norah watches them
Jack, Aaron and Norah and their respective parental folk went down to Hermann Park for even more picnic action.  I'm told it was picnickeriffic.

Visit entertains
Bebe and Poppa bring floss fun
Chuy’s is delish

They came.  They saw.  They Chuyed.

Jack played with Poppa in the CAWH Saturday morning.  When Majestad went to check on them, she told me she saw her dad sitting in the back seat.  Jack was in the driver's seat wearing Uncle Blake's golf hat... and was busy flossing his teeth with real dental floss.  Her reaction to all this?  "Whatever."

Oh, and we went down to a local hangout one night, and ran into some of our neighbors that we'd met before.  This deserves a complete post to itself, but we're basically living parallel lives with them.  The dude works in my industry, is from my (relative) part of East Texas, they lived one street up from Home Port 2.0, their son was in Jack's gymnastics class, and they were there in Rusk to see Thomas the day we were.
Jungle Book they act
A play Jack sleeps almost through
Sore adult bottoms
You're detecting a theme.  In a novel interpretation of "intermission," no-nap Jack decides after 30 minutes that the actors dressed up like Baloo, Shere-Khan and Kaa could manage by themselves for a bit.  He passed out, laying across three of us in a (the?) high school theater in quaint Tomball, Texas. 

Train to hunt eggs well
Eggs found in bright BATYAWD sun
Other kids?  No chance.

You train for victory ahead of time.  And there's no chance that Jack will be allowed to eat much of anything he gathers on Easter, candy-wise.  So I'm basically trying to introduce a guided, deadly, Easter egg-snatching Predator drone into this year's fray.  To.  Get.  Me.  Candy.  So we drilled and practiced egg hunting on the patio last weekend.  A lot.  Those other kids are GOING DOWN.  Believe it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Remembrance

re·mem·brance, noun. \ri-'mem-brən(t)s also -bə-ran(t)s\
1.  the state of bearing in mind
2a.  the ability to remember:  MEMORY
  b.  the period over which one's memory extends
3.  an act of recalling to mind
4.  a memory of a person, thing, or event
5a.  something that serves to keep in or bring to mind:  REMINDER
  c.  a greeting or gift recalling or expressing friendship or affection
Considering the date, it's storytime.  Turn back now if you don’t want to hear about dearly departed puppy dogs and such.  We’ll call it even and just part ways here.  See you next week.

I had just started my first hedge fund job, and was hip deep in a world I only partially understood.  I had been scraping along in a lion’s den of a Big Six firm.  Really.  I’m surprised they didn’t have to-the-death gladiatorial contests and child sacrifice up in the training rooms on 15.  I loathed every picosecond there.  Majesty and I had been married only a short time, and, incurable nerd that I am, I had made a dire-looking spreadsheet illustrating the exact moment when we would run out of cash.  Not we’d be a little short.  I mean, run flat out.  The we can’t make rent kind of run out.

But, the LORD in his beneficence freed me from that hellish place, a story of its own that I won’t tell today (think plagues and parting seas).  And so I was off to a new gig, where you could make money if the market went up or went down, if companies did well or if they limped disastrously close to the edge of ruin.  All was new, polished and shined.

One day our admin lady told me to clear my calendar on a certain night, because the fund had bought a table at some charity event.  I didn’t care one whit about going.  I didn’t have much to wear, so I picked the better of my two (what I'll charitably refer to as) suits.  It was the tatty black one I picked up in college for literally $150.  I had been wearing the slacks to work and church about every other day since then.

The “table” my fund bought went for something like ten or twenty grand.  Which is by most folks’ standard, a potful of money to swap for dinner near an ice sculpture.  The soiree was held at the newly minted American Airlines Center in Dallas.  You walked in and a bunch of fake paparazzi took your picture if you looked wealthy and/or famous.  (We didn’t.)  Quite a few pro hockey players showed up, and I was just floored to see Mike Modano and Guy Carbonneau strolling around amongst the finance stiffs.  They looked as out of place as Majesty and I must have.

I actually knew a good number of people in the crowd, just by way of tooling around Dallas for a few years.  My very good friend at the time, Katherine (not her real name) was strawbossing the event, which included a live auction, with who knows how much dough going to the charity du jour.  Katherine was walking around with this sleepy (and, we’d discover, spectacularly doped up) white Llewellin Setter puppy with faint brown spots on its ears.  The puppy was to be one of the auction lots, and had been flown into DFW from an out of state breeder.

The puppy was cute, sure, but not my type.  I was a Labrador man.  Was going to have two enormous thug chocolabs, I was.  But Her Majesty and I got to stroll around carrying her, babysitting while Katherine barked orders and schmoozed effortlessly.  Hey, it passed the time.  Katherine had worked at the same accounting firm that I had and ended up marrying a client.  In gun-shy, risk averse CPAville, that's what we'll call... complicated.  She ended up with her pink slip, but it didn’t faze her much.  She had married a zillionaire.

Our local NHL broadcasters (Ralph & Razor), handled the auctioneering that night.  Without the faintest chance of buying anything (remember my spreadsheet), I didn’t pay much attention.  And I didn’t notice who ended up with the cute pup.

What actually happened was this.  James (not his real name, either), the head of an i-bank in town, whom I didn’t know (although I know him fairly well now!) got blasted with a friend of his, and ended up directly in front of Ralph and Razor during the auction.  Right.  You see where this is going.  Naturally, they tried to outbid each other for the dog.  I heard the money got up to $1,500, but I don't know for sure.

Katherine came up to us shortly after the auction.  “I can get you that dog.”  “What?” I said.  “The puppy.  I can get it for you if you want.  I’ll go talk to James.”  H.M. and I just looked at each other, partly  stunned, partly amused.  “We can’t have a dog,” Majestad said, looking at me for confirmation.  “Can we?  I looked back at Katherine and said something like, “Sure we can!  I think?"

Not three minutes later, Katherine comes back, (comatose) puppy in her arms.  “He’s going to give her to you, but he has some conditions.”  “Conditions?” I asked.  A very nice, but uh, saturated gentlemen followed, declaring that he was to be the “dohg’s gahdfathr.  I wahnt visitatshun rights, pichtures, everything.”  I agreed and we swapped info.

I couldn’t believe this dude’s generosity, but I was grateful.  Yet, maybe it wasn’t 100% altruism.  He told me afterward that he had called his wife right after the auction to tell her he had won the dog.  She told him flatly that she was pregnant, they had two kids, and two dogs, and that he’d better not bring anything else home.  Period.

Katherine explained that the pup, a female, came with pet insurance.  She came with papers and a substantial pedigree.  Breeding rights.  Serial numbers for an (implanted) ID chip.  Phone numbers to national associations.  Instructions on how to get her ears tattooed (with even more ID numbers).  There were free vet visits.  A big carrier.  Treats.  Squeaky toys.  Bags of dogfood.  (You should have seen the look on the valet guy’s face as we dumped all this into my car.  It looked like I had held up the SPCA at gunpoint.)  Oh, the little pup was even a close relation to “Hank” from a show called “Hunting With Hank” on OLN.  Hank's son Dash had his own show, too.  Bigtime, high caliber bird dogs, these were.

Majesty walked around regally for the rest of the night, the puppy in her arms.  Every single rich lady in that room fawned over our sleeping pup.  We talked to fifty, sixty people, minimum.  They all wanted to know everything.  How we got her.  What we were going to name her.  I heard Majestad respond, “I’m going to call her Belle, because she’s the belle of the ball.”  It was decided.

It was February 13, 2003.  I looked over the papers.  Belle had been born the previous December, on the 10th.  My mom’s birthday.  We took her back to our little upstairs apartment very late that night.  By that time, Belle was climbing out of her druggy haze, and decided she was sober enough to poop on our floor the second we took her out of the carrier.  I think she was getting even for us stealing her away from the pampered life she would have no doubt enjoyed.

And so it began.  The sweet, speckled, gentle, mischievous, panty-eating, neurotic, serial butt-sniffing, ever-shedding ball of atomic energy was ours.

Monday, April 11, 2011

First Quarter Photo Blast (Part B)

98... 99... 100!

Gravitational challenges.

Go west, young man.  No, the other west.  Your other west.

Jack's Great Granny actually lived in one of these.  No fooling.

But wait, if we throw him in, which one of us gets the wish?

Dude, you're totally missing those kids.  You have to lead them.

And you should see someone for these warts.  Yikes.

Soothing the savage beast.

The savage beast needed even more soothing after the soothing.

Cousins = hilarity.

Le Peep?  Le delicious.

Too...  many... captions... Can't... write them... all...

But what's it FOR?!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

First Quarter Photo Blast (Part A)

Like everyone, I need a little help with landscaping.  Exhibit A?  The Help.

But help is, I suppose, relative.

We actually keep him in there with a bottle of Spray 'n Wash.

The first time.

But not the last.

I actually ate some of these, and I'm still upright.

Probably our best trick photo, well, ever.

I can't wait for my mother to unsuspectingly stumble across Jack's new pet.

The very embodiment of Mardi Gras.

Maximum cheese level?  Check.

We love you, Texas Burger Madisonville...
For the memories.  For the ketchup.