Monthly Archives: December 2010

Curing my beardaphobia

You may remember that I started growing a beard back on the first of November.  It is a thing my Dad and/or brother started where beards are grown from November ’til sometime around Christmas and then are shaved.  We went to my brother’s house a few weeks ago and for me, it was time to shave off that mangy thing…

Brother, Dad, and me
Pre-trim...geez, do I look like that in the mirror?
Holy crap does it hurt to shave a beard!

When I came out of the bathroom with this look, Abigail honestly freaked and said, “You look like a maniac!  Get away from me!”   She acted as though she was truly a little freaked out by my appearance.  She’s a smart kid…proved again!

I think this look should be called "circus strongman"
Ahhhh....the lifeblood - a quart of Mt Dew!

Ok, so, as I look back over this, I think I might be pretty vain.  I have to tell you though, I am so glad to be rid of the squirrel as Emily calls it.  Some people look awesome in a beard but I don’t have their strength of character or whatever it is that they have to put up with it.  I am once again clean shaven and shall remain so…at least until November!

Redneck Games

Christmas has been a 2+ week thing for us this year.  Last weekend, we hung out with my family at my brother’s place.  This weekend, we stayed at home and did Christmas around our area with Emily’s family.  It was a great Christmas for us and the kids.  It was quiet yesterday and we just sort of took it easy…to recover.

You see, in the weeks prior, we (meaning me mainly) have been participating in the redneck games (as my brother-in-law termed it).  The first good snow a couple of weeks ago found us sled riding at my BIL’s house where there is a most excellent hill.  It’s hard enough to walk on in good weather which makes it dang near impossible in snow…which makes it the perfect sled-riding hill!  We went up and down a number of times in the usual way.  We went feet first and head first.  We tried sitting and laying.  Being one who folks can count on to act a fool, it occurred to me that we hadn’t tried standing up.

Yeah, it didn’t last long.  I rode a few short rides until my bones suggested that I had better knock it off.  I guess it looked pretty white-trash for me (still in full beard) to jump on a big plastic sled clearly not rated for stand-up usage.  I guess it could have only been better if I had a car hood to ride.  It was one of those, “hold on to my beer and watch this” sort of things (yes the hill is that steep) .

No bones were broken during that episode of redneck games so I tried again at my brother’s place.  He has a new 4-wheeler that seemed like it needed to be tested.  There was a little bit of snow on the ground…maybe 2-3 inches when we arrived at his place on Friday night.  We exchanged pleasantries and then got right to the destruction of his yard.  You see, we are both somewhat city-dwellers nowadays but we come from solid redneck roots and a 4 wheeler seriously magnifies that tendency.  We spun his machine around and drove all sorts of stupid (don’t tell my mom or kids or wife though).  Neighbors drove by and cheered us on (I figure they could see lights slinging around…plus it was 11pm when we stopped) which was all the encouragement I needed.  We only have pictures of the daytime riding when the kids were around…probably a good thing.

Ahhhh…the holidays are so nice!

A letter to Santa

I think all kids probably write letters to Santa at some time or another.  My brother and I always used to sit at my Mom’s typewriter with the JC Penny, Sears and Montgomery Ward Christmas/toy catalogs.  We’d pour over them for hours if not days.  I don’t know whether we were greedy or anything but I do know that the letters we typed were pretty much to the point…something like , “Dear Santa, here’s the stuff we want…”

Isaac and Abigail have been pretty varied in what they want for Christmas and how they ask for it.  One year when Isaac was much younger, he asked for batteries and a peach.  I guess we hadn’t replaced the batteries in his noisy baby toys soon enough to suit him.  That explains the batteries but I don’t know where he got the idea for the peach.  Anyhow, I still smile when I think about how simple his wants were back then.  Gosh, one year he asked for bottled water.  His tastes have gotten a little more sophisticated but he really only wants one thing this year…a pellet gun.  Now, he doesn’t want a Red Rider or anything like that.  In fact tonight, he quoted to me, “Dad, I think that pellet gun we saw at Gander Mountain (an awesome outdoor-sports store) shot pellets at 1600 feet per second.”  That’s no toy really at that point but still, he only wanted that one thing.  Isaac has never been much on writing stuff down so I think he had to hope that his Christmas wish-list made it through the ether to the North Pole.

Abigail's letter to Santa

Abigail, on the other hand, is very expressive in her writing, and, well, everything really.  So a couple of years ago she wanted an art easel which she loves to use.  Recently she has taken to writing notes to Emily and me on the dry-erase part so it is pretty common for us to see a very detailed message or a clever note in her hand-writing on the board.  A few weeks ago we noticed an updated message and I have to tell you, I laughed out loud and still get  huge smile on my face when I look at the picture.  You see, Seph, our little orange kitten is a full sized cat now but he still likes to bite a little and can be quite the terror.  I don’t think Seph was actually chewing on Abigail when she wrote the note to Santa, but I absolutely love her creativity.  The best part is, after all of the details of the note, at the bottom she adds all that she really wants for Christmas – a chess set of her own.  We probably have 5 others laying around but she wants a nice one that is just hers.  I suspect Santa will help her out on her wish.  And besides my pride in her excellent writing, I am so glad that she, like her brother, has such simple Christmas wishes.  Merry Christmas kids and my blog friends.  I hope your Christmas is a simple one heaped full of awesome and love.

Edit:  It turns out that Santa just passed through and he left this note:

Santa's letter to Abigail

Give me a sign

We spent last weekend with my family at my brother’s place in MD.  We had all sorts of fun but I’ll tell you about that later.  So, Sunday, we were travelling back home to West-by-God-Virginia and had to make various pit-stops.  We stopped some for drinks or snacks, some for “rest” and some to shop.  Well, I don’t really shop much so I’d say our stop at the outlet mall in Flatwoods, WV was more to buy.  Anyhow, as Isaac and I walked into one store, we came upon a sign.  It’s funny…I love that the kids “get” stuff now.  Isaac looked at me, and I looked at him and he started laughing at the wording.  Lots of stuff ran through my head including the importance of words and education and planning, but I think that it was all apparent to Isaac, even if only subconsciously.  He saw the mistakes that were made in that sign and understood why words matter.  Of course, I think he takes that to mean that he shouldn’t write any more than is absolutely necessary.  He loves to talk but trying to get that boy to hand-write a note is like pulling weeds…with your teeth.  Anyhow, I am pretty proud to say that he can properly use “they’re”, “there”, and “their” and that he knew that the wording of the sign was completely wrong.

During one of our stops, we pulled into a rest area someplace near the top of the world (or so it seemed).  The rest area had a great view so we took a few minutes to observe before our ears froze.  After getting our fill of the landscape, we walked into the place and they had signs around including this one…

I don’t think it ever would have  occurred to me that the appliance before me was a water fountain.  Again, Isaac looked at me and I at him and we both just busted out laughing!  I am pretty germ-a-phobic (which is weird since I am not dainty about much of anything) so I am pretty glad we had alcohol hand sanitizer (which we call germ wash) in the car.  Honestly, I use the stuff every time I enter my car.  Weird, huh?  Anyhow, we subdued our thirst and pressed on towards home.

Here's the view where the water was not for drinking...

We had a great trip all around, but I think one of my favorite parts was this ride home.  It’s cool how the simplest of times with the family can make for the best of times!

A decade + 1

Today is Isaac’s birthday.  I know all parents say this, but holy cow, wasn’t he just born yesterday?!  He is growing into a wonderful young man and I am so very proud of how he is learning to carry himself, how he treats others (well, everyone but his sister) and how he sees the joy in life.

I can’t be happier to call Isaac my son!  His start was terribly rough and I never dreamed how he could go from that beginning to the wonderful kid he is today.  Happy birthday Isaac.  I love you!

Don’t jump! Just fly!

A few weeks ago, right before Thanksgiving, we had a paper airplane flying contest from the roof of our building.  We have done this a few years now and I, of course, aways win.  Well, I won this year anyhow!  That may seem like a small feat (considering how awesome I am) but this year’s competition was stiff.

My entries...

You see, it’s all about the rules.  Here are the rules:

<crickets chirping>

Simple, see?  It’s all about the rules.  I had several entries (which is well within the rules…see above).  One guy shot his plane from a paintball gun (and though appearing impressive, it can only be described as fail).  One guy threw a box top as far as he could.  Several folks had “engineered” planes and several had old fashioned detention-earning planes.

We set up a windsock so that participants could properly prepare for field conditions.  Let me tell you, atop our building, it was windy!  Anyhow, as usual, several planes ended up in the nearby trees while others crashed immediately into the building.  Like a rocket, my plane (well, one of the four) just eased out of the gate and cruised onto an impressive victory…it was effortless!

So, I also produced some prizes for various categories as well.   Windshield washer fluid went to the plane that cleaned up (except I could not give the prize to myself).   The…uh…plane with the most fail got milkduds.  The plane that opened up a can of whooping on others got  matching pair of can openers.  Not only do the planes make for a lot of fun, I also get to heap on a huge pile of trash-talk.  Just as a precaution, I always stand back plenty far from the edge.  I’d hate to think my fellow fliers might want to test the effects of gravity on the mouthy one of the bunch…

In the doghouse again

Dogs are easy, right.  Every kid ought to have a dog so they can grow up properly.  I had to be a good dad and get the kids a dog, right?  Oh, we got a dog alright.  It’s been a long time since I had a dog.  When I was a kid, we had a couple of animals but my responsibilities related to the animals were minimal…I was a kid.  Even, as an adult, I foolishly believed that my responsibilities from when I had dogs as a kid were the real extent of pet ownership.  I have since then been properly educated…

Over the summer, I dug postholes all about my yard to put up a fence to allow Ginny to have space to play and do what dogs do (which I have since found out is poop).  It was a big effort as I hand dug the holes and mixed concrete to hold the posts.  It looks great and seems to finally have been made Ginny-proof.  I next had to build Ginny a proper dog house.  I had all sorts of lumber scraps and stuff laying around so Ginny has a first-class house that didn’t really cost me anything.

I have not weighed the house but I suspect it weighs as much as my car.  Emily and I put insulation in the walls and ceiling and installed white siding so it will be the same color as our house.  Ginny doesn’t like to stay inside all day so I figured I needed to give her a heat source in order to be safe this winter.  We installed an outdoor light in the ceiling of her house and it keeps the space pretty nice for her.  I measured the outside temperature at 29 the other day.  Inside, after letting the bulb warm the space, the floor of her house was 44 and the ceiling area was much warmer.

Of course, for the light to work, I needed an outlet on the outside of the house.  The one and only outlet was on the other side of the house so I had to drill a hole in my brick and run power from the laundry room through the wall.  Without considering dog logic, I simply plugged an extension cord into the new plug and ran it to the light fixture in the ceiling of the doghouse.  The first day we left her alone with her new place, she decided to take a bite out of the pretty orange cord running into her house.  She got a jolt out of it I am sure.  It wasn’t enough to hurt her badly…she only had a small spot on her lip.  I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice another cord to see whether she learned her lesson though.

Being one to over-engineer whenever possible, I built an armoured cable to power her light.  I haven’t seen evidence of her trying her luck on the new cord, but I am pretty sure it is bite-proof and will keep her safe and warm.

I don’t know about you, but this whole dog ownership thing seems pretty easy, right?

Denver…it’s closed

I got up at 4:3o am this morning.  I don’t tend to do that often, but I had a ticket for Denver, CO.  I travel out of state only a few times per year, so it’s a treat to see what’s going on elsewhere.  I’ve never been to Denver so I was pretty excited but it is December and all…and I heard that Denver gets snow now and then.  I left Charleston in the dark where it was 25 degrees max and the snow was blowing.  Denver must be a real mess, if Charleston is so bad, right?

We finally made it into Denver (and I get the iron keister award I think) and I had to shed my heavy coat.  Yeah, in WV it was cold and windy and snowy and in Denver it was 55 and sunny.  Surely the end of the world is near…

The training starts tomorrow morning so I had a little time to spend roaming around the city.  Denver has some really cool architecture and museums.  I really wanted to stand on the steps of the state capitol so I could say I was exactly one mile above sea level.  Let me tell you friends, it is every bit as exciting as it sounds…

One mile above sea level!

After the capitol, I headed to the Denver Art Museum (it’s full of DAM art as they say).  Anyhow, I walked up to the entry of the DAM which is a super cool building, by the way.  Of course, the door showed that the place was closed on Mondays.  Ugh.  Foiled.  Why on Earth would they close it on Mondays?  Didn’t they know I was coming?  Even when they are open, their hours stink so I guess they will have to go on without being able to say that I visited.

Well, since Denver is on Mountain time, and since I rarely see 4:30 am, I am sort of glad that the city closes early.  So, what did I miss?

A dream come true

I was once  a little kid.  I had hopes.  I had dreams. Well, I guess I still do.  Anyhow, yesterday was my birthday and my wife, being a kind and benevolent wife, sought to fulfill one of my childhood dreams.  I have wanted a pair of cowboy boots since I was in the 2nd grade.  I loved the pointy toes and the fancy stitching and I especially liked boots made out of exotic and wild creatures.  Boots were never terribly practical though, not being a cowboy.

Just so you don’t think I was deprived as a child, I’ll tell you another childhood dream that was fulfilled…I wanted calf-high green gumboots and by golly, I had green gumboots as a kid.  I wore them all day, every day in school.  But still, I longed for cowboy boots.

Fast forward 30-some years and we were driving around in Ripley, WV.  We saw a sign that said something like, “Warren, buy cowboy boots here”…something like that.  So, on one trip, Emily took me there to get me some boots for my birthday.  I searched and searched and found that they basically had size 8 boots…that’s about it…only size 8.  I wear size 10.  I thought my dreams were about to be crushed as we stumbled out into the parking lot.  I gazed across the valley and to what did my wondering eyes appear but a Tractor Supply store with a sign for John Deere.

Oh, I danced a little bit on the inside (as I never dance on the outside…not in public anyhow) and I skipped down the hill and across the highway to TSC. Well, not really, but in my bliss, I sort of forget the actual driving part.  I walked in the and the only thing I saw was the boot section…they had sizes other than size 8!  Emily claims I was as bad as shopping with a woman which is really pretty funny when you consider it.  I tried on many boots and finally decided on a pair.

And just when I thought my life was complete, I spotted a Carhartt jacket on sale.  Could my life get any better?  I think not!

Black and white special

Ah, the old black and white got me again.  It rained just under 2 inches in the last 24 hours.  Sometime last night, the weather further delighted us with a dusting of snow…it’s the first sticking snow we’ve had this year around the house.  I hate snow…have I ever said that before?  Well, I do.

Did I ever mention I hate snow? Well, I do.

Of course, since we got Ginny, she likes to be outside as much as she can.  Two inches of rain plus bare ground = muddy dog so we have been trying to keep her inside as much as possible.  Until I can potty train her though, I will have to keep on going out when nature calls.  Well, nature or the clatter of stray cats that congregate on our patio called a lot last night.  She had to go out last night several times as Mother Nature delighted us.  Did I ever tell you I hate snow?  Well, I do.

Early in the evening, I took Ginny out with fully intact feet.  Isaac and I went to taekwondo last night and did our thing, however.  We practice kicks and forms and the usual stuff at TKD.  At the end though, we get to “free fight”.  As I have said before, it feels like a special sort of crazy to enjoy fighting and watching my kid fight, but it really is thrilling.  Anyhow, we were free fighting and having a good time doing it.  I usually have to fight black belts as they are mostly adults and despite my beginner status, by size alone it would not be fair to pair me with anyone under 16 or so.  I think most of the black belts like it though, because I am able to really fight with them which gives them some semblance of a challenge.

Some friends of mine have mentioned that they could never do TKD because they felt like they would just get mad and go to town.  I am certain that if one got out of control during TKD, the black belts would end it very quickly.  They are good folks and are very skilled.  All that is to say, they like to spar and get a workout and they like control.

Ignore the hairy man-feet

So, I was fighting my favorite guy to fight last night and he told me to feel free to really go for it…so I did.  I did a series of kicks, the last of which was aimed at his head.  For that one, I had no intent of making contact (as that would probably end my evening), but he had to throw the block as if I were.  TKD is done barefoot so his block + my bare foot swinging (at near light speed) ended in my having a black toe this morning.  Have I mentioned I hate snow?  Well, I do.  I also hate black toes.  Black and white are kicking my butt today!