Saturday, August 29, 2015


         I got the call at 3:00 AM, and could finally relax.  My first born child had successfully given birth to her second son at a hospital in Virginia, and both she and the baby were fine.

         And I feel like a Bad Dad for not being there... Instead, I was processing soccer pictures and getting set to take our niece to the Embassy Suites for her birthday party sleepover with friends.

         Can't wait to see the new baby (and to see how the first born Young Prince handles the competition!)

          Amber has named the new baby "Ashton", and if you mention "Kutcher" she's quick to let you know "He doesn't own the fucking name, okay?"

           Chip off the old block...

Friday, August 28, 2015


           I've been living here with my lovely (and dangerous) wife for over ten years, and one of the things that I've been meaning to take care of (my phrase for "putting off") has been the disposal of a rusty old glass-top table in our backyard.  It's been rotting away out there, like some sort of yard ornament.  Rust never sleeps, and that's certainly been true of the corrosion eating away at that poor table as it sits exposed to the elements day after day, year after year.

           Several weeks ago I took it upon myself to dismantle the table and recycle the metal.  I couldn't part with the oval glass top, even though I had no idea what purpose it might eventually serve.  Something made me pause on my way to the truck... maybe I can use this?  So I leaned it up against the back of the storage shed... and I've been mowing around it ever since.

           Night before last I asked Sarah to put down her precious iPad for a few moments and pose behind the glass for me.  I took two or three shots, then put the glass tabletop back behind the shed.

           She didn't seem to understand what we were doing, but played along for the sake of expediency.  She's learned that things move quicker if she just does whatever batshit crazy thing is asked of her...

           I like this photo.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


           Our niece Sarah has officially competed her tenth lap around our planet's sun, a date that she's managed to wiggle into every conversation (hourly) for the past eight or nine months. I never knew a kid's birthday could be so vitally important.  I'm pretty sure my own childhood B-days didn't drum up this much fanfare... because we weren't allowed to make that big of a fuss over ourselves.  Having three siblings is a great way to keep a kid humble.

           No child's birthday since the virgin birth has commanded as much attention as Sarah's tenth. She's made it clear to all concerned that "double digits" is a monumental milestone, one worthy of headlines and ticker tape parades through town.  A conversation about vegetables was just as likely to end up being a discussion of her party plans, and it was a rare thing to get through a meal without the details of her celebration being mentioned.  

            Having been duly reminded, we had our bases covered yesterday.  But the kid hopped out of bed singing "Good Morning, Good Morning!" over and over and over, and made several references to the fact that it was indeed a beautiful morning, fit for a princess.  I tried to explain that it wasn't cool to behave like a weasel on crack before adults had consumed caffeine, but there was no talking to the child.  She was wired.  

             On our trip to school yesterday morning, we made a stop at Publix to pick up our order of 30 cupcakes for her to pass out to her classmates, and she made certain everyone within earshot of the cash register knew they were for her birthday celebration at school.  I hadn't had enough coffee for all this excitement, so I was more than eager to deliver the kid and her cupcakes to school.  She jabbered away excitedly as we sat in the school parking lot and waited for the doors to finally open.  What followed was an epic stream of consciousness, complete with tapping feet and waving hands and occasional musical renditions of "Good Morning, Good Morning!"...  You would have thought it was Christmas morning and she child was seconds away from ripping into a stack of presents, not moments away from homeroom attendance.

              I had a few hours to myself after Miss Hyper entered the school, a respite I used to prepare myself for the evening's dinner plans. We had told Sarah that in honor of her birthday we would take her to the restaurant of her choice, and she had smiled and threatened to find one that would cost "at least a hundred dollars!"  She chose TGIF Fridays, so I figure my wallet got a break on that deal...

              Her actual "party" is scheduled for this coming Saturday. We've reserved a pair of rooms at the local Embassy Suites, and she's invited four of her closest friends for a sleepover, complete with swimming in their indoor pool.  Every moment of that evening has already been meticulously planned out, I can assure you.  The child should consider a career as an event planner...

              Our birthday present for Sarah was an iPad Mini, something some of her friends have been using, and a device that she had mentioned frequently in the run up to this monumental event.  We had tried to program it earlier in the week, but like everything else around here, it required a modicum of technical expertise above our pay grade.  Immediately upon opening the iPad's box, Sarah signed in, created a pass code, chose a wallpaper for her homepage, and began chirping questions to Siri... all the way to Fridays.  She made sure the wait staff knew it was her birthday, and nodded approvingly when they offered a free dessert, complete with a cheerfully annoying Happy Birthday song no one recognized.

              When we finally got the kid wound down enough for bedtime, I looked at my wife and said, "At least we have 90 years before we have to worry about triple digits."

               Of course, in a couple of years we'll have to make a big fuss over the "teens".

               Sigh.  It never ends.

Monday, August 24, 2015


            If you've not read any of Bill Bryson's travel books, get thee to Amazon or your local library and check out any of them.  They're all great, and you'll learn more than you ever bargained for, I promise.

            My favorite Bryson book is "A Walk in the Woods", about his ill-fated attempt to hike the entirety of the Appalachian Trail with an equally out of shape companion.  It's a funny, informative tome about rekindling old friendship, self-discovery, and the painful consequences of being woefully unprepared.

            When my lovely (and dangerous) wife and I stayed at a mountain chalet in northern Georgia this past spring, we ventured over to a nearby state park that boasted the tallest cascade waterfall in the southeast.  While touring their visitor center, I noticed an entire rack of paperback copies of Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" and was informed by the staff that a portion of the movie based upon that book had been filmed within their park.  Apparently, we had stumbled upon a state park that was only 8.5 miles from the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail... a little 2,175 mile hike all the way to the mountains of Maine.

             I can't even imagine trying to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. Shit, I couldn't even make it up the 600 plus steps at Amicalola Falls...

             Seeing Bryson's book again reminded me of how much fun I'd had reading his struggles on the AT, and stoked my anticipation for the new Robert Redford/Nick Nolte film.  The previews look promising... I just hope the movie does the book justice.

Friday, August 21, 2015