Month: May 2017

Birthday Goat Summer

School’s out for the summer. Yay.

Everyone passed their classes so everyone has leveled up. Donna Threeto graduated kindergarten. I guess a lot has happened since I last updated everyone.

We had a birthday party for Jane several weeks ago. She is ten now. We have gotten out of the habit of holding birthday parties for anyone but usually feel guilty enough to slap something together at the last minute. It isn’t that we don’t want to celebrate but rather we are poor planners. Who wants to juggle the coordination of locations, spending five times what you expected, and trying to have a guest list that invites everyone who would be offended if they were but is pared down enough to fit everyone into one space. Maybe we are just bad people or unmotivated. Who knows. Janes birthday was going to be different.

She felt a special significance towards reaching double digits and was emphatic about having a party. Her choice of party was having all her friends out to the farm to meet her animal friends. This would be a friends party and I made sure the invitations mentioned “Horses, Goats, Food, and Fun”. We folded the invites and wrote each friend’s name on the outside and packed them into her backpack.

Here is where I will offer a tip for other last minute parents. If you write out an invitation on the computer, save a copy. Or print an extra. Or write down the time that you invited everyone. I didn’t do any of this. I printed an exact number and closed the Word document without saving. About a day later I couldn’t remember the exact time of the party.

As the party date got closer the weather forecast became more ominous. Jane looked at me on the Wednesday before that weekend, with tears in her eyes, afraid we would cancel. She had been dealing with that transition from childhood to tween where the illusions of life begin to fade and mix with reality. She needed to know that a special fun day was still possible. I promised that rain or shine we would have the party. And we did. The forecast the night before showed rain until the start of the party and then it was predicted that the weather would clear. If we could deal with a few minutes of rain then the party might be a success.

Party2

The day of the party was cloudy and had been rainy right up to an hour before party time. We had three tailgating tents, a charcoal grill, and several camping chairs. Her friends all arrived with mud boots or flip flops. For the first thirty minutes everything went smoothly. Then the rain started. It got more intense and the wind started to drive it sideways into the safety of the tents. Lightning started to crash and everyone was pretty well soaked by the time we acknowledged time-of-death and moved the festivities indoors.

Party1

I was a little disappointed because I bought several foam swords and hoped to have an epic battle. We had one at the house later so that was cool. The only downside of the foam swords is that now Judy Cornbread is deathly afraid of anyone holding anything that looks like a sword. She is non-confrontational and watching us beat each other was traumatizing. Plus the kids have probably beaten her when I wasn’t looking.

What I went on the trip to California.

We had the traditional Mother’s Day. Good lunch. Good dinner. Supermom didnt get any time to sit alone and read which I found out is what she actually wanted.

Then things turned a little darker last weekend. I warn you about some graphic pictures to follow. Read on at your own risk.

So my mother lives near some bona-fide white trash pieces of shit who own some large dogs who roam the neighborhood and team with other strays to terrorize the countryside. They started a fight with Chester Sparkles last year and he fought them off but was hurt pretty bad.

Party4

This is Chester Sparkles. He is a happy boy. 

They have returned to kill a few chickens here and there. Last week they returned and got into the goat pen. Two baby goats are dead and two adults are seriously injured.

Poor_baby

Bite marks on the neck only. They had one intention. 

One of the goats is named Eli and is a favorite of the girls. He got goat polio as a kid and was nursed back to health by constant attention from my mother and the girls. He is extremely friendly and definitely a main character on the farm. The dogs did some damage to his front right leg and his hind leg. Another goat, named June, is questionable to recover because the dogs tore a muscle in her rear leg.  I’m usually a big fan of dogs but this rogue pack has two Rottweilers and a Pit Bull and no oversight from their owners. At the end of the day, dogs are pack predators and, if left in the wild, will act accordingly.

A couple of days after the attack, Eli was still not eating and was just laying around. Mamaw suggested having the girls come visit to make him feel better. The minute the girls got there he began eating and moved around more than he had the day before. He wanted to feel the safety of his friends. They lifted his spirits. She captured several heartwarming pictures.

Eli_Visit

Is there a sweeter picture? You are crying aren’t you? You should be.

Everyone feels better after a visit from their friends.

Eli_Note

As far as the dogs. I hope they die of parvo and heart worms. Slowly. One upside to living in the country in the south is that neighbors are all armed and have no trouble protecting each other. Offering hide out and snipe the offenders was as common a response on Facebook as the tearful emoji.  I expect it won’t take too long to relocate the problem animals. As far as the crappy owners, that problem is not likely to resolve itself. Unless their meth lab explodes or the moldy cement blocks under their rusty El Camino crack just as one of them slides under the frame to cut off the muffler for the platinum catalyst because he read on the internet that it was worth “big bucks”. I’m sure if he drank less than a case of Natural Light by noon each day then he would be able to feed his dogs instead of letting them off the chain to go scavenge. Fucking hicks.

I’m venting and assuming. I don’t really know them that well.

Take a breath. Count to ten. Okay… Moving on.

Lady Bug came to visit me at work the other day. She enjoyed some delicious pizza and then proceeded to draw a little over 105 separate rabbits. One of my co-workers drew a recognizable rabbit and then Lady Bug attempted to recreate it.

Rabbits

She actually has some good scale and artist skills. She is turning four in a couple of weeks so I’m impressed.

Jane is trying to convince me that we need a snake as a pet. Petsmart has a pink cornsnake that she wants. I think we need a new house or a small petting zoo before we add any animals.

If your life is going a little, birthday goat summer, this post is for you. You’re welcome. Here is a funny picture of a dog photobombing an Easter photo session.

Ruining_It

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Thanks For Mom

In a movie every character is important. Every line has meaning towards developing a character or moving the story forward. If one character doesn’t play the part correctly then the story will fall apart. Next weekend is Mother’s Day.

Mothers are the main characters in most life stories.

Since I was little I knew different aspects of my mother. Everyone always let me know how smart she was in school. I could see myself her being beautiful and compassionate. The one thing I have never really known is her backstory or the difficulties she faced before I was born. I’ve pressed her to tell me histories and fill in the blanks but she has always been hesitant to share. Last week she sent me an email with a personal story from her past. I found it interesting, emotional, and reflective. She made me think about how our stories are woven with other people. How endings are beginnings in disguise. And of course, I wanted to share it.

Here is what she wrote:

For every damn thing I went through in my youth and as a young adult, I’m talking stressful or traumatic events, I just had to suck it up. Truthfully, I never realized there was an option. That’s why I have a difficult time relating to the younger generation who feel the need to cuddle and drink hot chocolate when things don’t go their way. I don’t think cuddling and hot cocoa are necessarily bad things. As a matter of fact, had I been able to cuddle and drink cocoa I’m sure my behavior would have been much better. That’s all I have to say about that.

                There are things that have been erased from my memory. I’m sure that is a self-preservation quality of my brain. Other things I have absolute clarity about. Moments I can replay in my head in slow motion; smell scents, see sights, and experience emotions. These moments are often turning points. One in particular is an event that put me on a path to hope. You may not have realized it had you been around then, it took some time for hope to grow into something more. This is the event I wish to share today.

                A series of events led up to this moment. There were incidences that made it impossible for me to continue to live in the circumstances I found myself in. I knew something had to change, I could no longer cope. I was smart enough to know if I simply left home, I would be retrieved and returned. I was a minor, the law would be on the side of the adults. So, I turned myself in to DCS (Department of Children Services). I was picked up shortly after I made my call by two men in suits who transported me to a juvenile facility. I don’t remember the name of it, but I recall some of the residents. I remember the facility’s van taking me to school, quite an embarrassing circumstance for a 15 year old. I stayed in this facility while my situation was being investigated. I waited for the court date that would determine my fate.

                I can’t remember how long it took for the day to arrive. Memory block. I do recall several people testifying including my case worker who recommended I not be sent home. When my turn came I was, thankfully, escorted to judge’s chambers to testify in private. I didn’t have to speak in front of dissenting adults. The judge started by commending me for my good grades and positive teacher recommendations. We talked a minute about plans for the future, etc. Then he asked the question “What do you think will happen if I send you home?”

                The.Entire.World.Stopped.Turning.

                I have no idea how my face appeared or what my heart looked like as it lay there on the floor. I do remember turning my head to look out the window. It seemed to turn very, very slowly. The view was not great, merely a red brick wall. Looking back now it seems symbolic.

                I couldn’t find my words. My mind was trying to focus but all I could think about was how sure I was I would take my own life before I went back. The only time I was seriously, dangerously, considering suicide. I’ve never told anyone about my thoughts. I can’t explain it but for that moment I was absolutely sure of the answer. However, the only words I could squeeze out were “I don’t know.” The conversation basically ended there.

                I was returned to the courtroom to hear my fate along with everyone else involved. Judge WBH saved my life that day. In truth, he and my brother and sister-in-law saved my life. You see, my brother had offered me a home and the judge saw fit to accept his offer on my behalf. The rest of the day was a blur but I was thankful not to have to return to the unnamed facility. Some of those residents were certifiable!

                I’m sorry to say, even though this was a life altering day, it didn’t change the bad behavior I had indulged in for some time. I’ve never asked my brother if, not having told him this story, he regrets bringing me into his home. It cost him something. At times, it cost him lots. I was too young to appreciate him. There is no way to repay someone for saving your life. You pay it forward and hope that is enough.

                There have been a series of wonderful people in my life. People willing to help with no consideration for the cost to themselves. I shall tell their stories one day. There would be no other stories to tell had my slow motion panic gone unnoticed by a judge who cared and who had an alternative. The one day I didn’t have the ability to suck it up, I didn’t have to.

 

All I could think as I teared up at the thought of the whole story was this… It is hard to thank someone for saving you. For being a link in your safety chain. There is usually a thread of guilt or shame woven into the situation. Nothing you say seems to be enough. That is okay. Love is an investment and it doesn’t always pay back right away.

On Easter weekend we went with my mother to my uncle’s house for our annual hunting of the eggs. My cousins and their children were there. Together, with my wrecking crew, there was a yard full of laughter and fun. We played whiffle ball and hunted eggs that were stuffed exclusively with loose change. We sat around telling funny stories and relating to each other’s parenting woes. As always, it was a beautiful time with people we love. Now I know the story could have been completely different.

So, to who it may concern, thank you for my mother.

Oh and Happy Mother’s Day!

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Wander Over Yonder

There is something about life and the steady march forward that is, at times, depressing. I hadn’t been able to put my finger on it for the past few years but I’ve felt it. The feeling that each step forward requires leaving something behind. Things that define me. Little intangible things that become faded memories. My hairline recedes while my waistline expands. It is hard to remind yourself that the past doesn’t exist and the traditions you left aren’t lingering just beyond view. They have moved on as well.

I have a few friends who have been a part of my story and life is doing its best to spread us far and wide. Our kids don’t know each other and given our histories, that seems criminal. I have some other friends that, honestly, I don’t know all of their kids’ names. I try to commit them to memory whenever I see them scroll by on Facebook. It is difficult at best. Until I say them out loud a few times, in person, I probably won’t remember. Nostalgia and a longing to keep connected wrestles with an impossible schedule. I can’t seem to carve out time to clean my garage to change the hard-to-reach light bulb in my stairwell. How can I expect to keep up friendships?

A couple of years ago I took a trip to California to be best man in my best friend’s wedding. It was a great trip and I met a lot of great people. Since that trip, my friend’s life has changed and his little girl is getting older. We tell everyone that we are brothers from another mother and my kids know him as an uncle that lives across the country.

One night I was texting with my friend and lamenting to my wife that I never got the chance to go hang out anymore. She was obviously bored with hearing about it and told me I could go visit. I quickly searched for tickets and lo-and-behold there were cheap ones. Like really cheap. I booked a trip leaving on a Thursday and returning the following Monday so I would have three unimpeded days of “hanging out”. Neither of us really considered the logistics but I was very excited to have a chance to see my friend and his young family.

I also learned that when you tell family that you are going on a weekend trip across the country by yourself, they have one of two reactions. 1) Is everything okay? You know… martially? And 2) Are you looking for a new job?

  • Yes… yes.
  • No

I just want to go do hoodrat stuff with my friends. Is that too much to ask? (A YouTube video reference)

The weekend that I selected was for the exact purpose that our calendar was absolutely clear. Nothing going on. Within one week of leaving the schedule started to fill. Severe storms threatened with tornados and flooding. Jane had a horse riding event to go to. Prima had her first overnight birthday party. Jungle Papaw was coming to visit. My sister from Florida was coming to visit. Plus Supermom does not deal with me leaving in a particularly pleasant manner.

I flew away with a storm brewing at home but I was still excited. The flight out was long. I started in Memphis. Flew to Tampa to change planes and fly to San Jose.

Cali1

An alarm sounded and a cap came whizzing by on a Segway. 

I watched security transfer 10 Million dollars out of the belly of our plane. Bag after bag of cash came down the conveyor. I expected a shoot-out and explosions but it didn’t happen.

Cali2

I managed to see all of the oceans of America in one day. The flight from Tampa was awesome. I sat next to a mother with a six month old baby who liked to breastfeed and fart every thirty minutes. When he wasn’t eating, he was drooling on my arm and kicking his legs while trying to make sounds. Cute kid but it made for a rough five hours.

I finally arrived in California and started the trip with a delicious In-And-Out double double. With fries. It was late so I went to bed. I had accommodations in the most comfortable bed I have enjoyed in a while. I didn’t even mind the Anna and Elsa pillows although I did feel guilty kicking Ms. K out of her room. The next day we went to Stanford to see the campus. We went to San Francisco and had an amazing sandwich. Went to The Ranch and played golf in the hills over-looking San Jose.

Cali4

I lost about sixteen golf balls and got into some stinging nettle plants. That night we went to a craft beer brew house and ate burritos from a taco truck. I got to meet several really cool dads. Shout out to my new friend “Alejandro” and fellow member of the JMSC. (Stay strong) The next day we took a family trip down to Monterrey and looked at the ocean. It was beautiful but the beach was not a useful beach. Cold water, coarse sand, pieces of seaweed, and cold breeze off the ocean.

Cali5

Later that afternoon I called Supermom to see how things were going on the home-front. She had just left a birthday party and was sitting at a traffic light when I heard a smashing sound and she said, “What the f&$%?!”

I could hear a wavering male voice in the background saying, “Don’t worry, don’t worry, I have insurance.”

Supermom said, “I’ll have to call you back. Someone just hit me.”

She hung up the phone and left me with a lot of questions. In about thirty seconds she called back in tears. “He ran away! I told him we needed a police report and he jumped in his truck and left! What an asshole!” I could hear people walking up and asking her if she was okay and offering their witness testimony of what happened. The man was driving a 2006 Toyota Tacoma, wearing a red hat, clean shaved white male in his mid-twenties, drunk, and a terrible person on the inside. If you see him, slap him.

The policeman arrived and according to procedure had to check Supermom’s information. We did not put the new insurance cards into the glovebox so she almost got a ticket. Luckily, the officer had a heart that was connected to a brain so he followed her to the house to see the new insurance card. A ticket for being the victim of a hit-and-run would have been icing on the cake.

Things got better the next day and we Facetimed and I managed to capture a screenshot of my wife wearing Harry Potter glasses. She said that if I planned on any physical contact for the next month then I probably should keep it to myself. What fun is that? (I do plan on physical contact so I will not be sharing.)

I got to see the inside of a Trader Joes so that was cool. The last evening in California we had a really great cookout. We tossed around a football and kicked a soccer ball. We ate steaks and corn on the cob while listening to 90’s era music on a blue tooth speaker. It was a good time and a good end to the weekend. I felt updated on my friend’s life and a little better about the speed of my own. I think adding a few memories here and there help to keep connected.

Flight home was uneventful. Snow on the Sierras. Turbulence near Houston. Supermom and Lady Bug met me at the airport. Everyone was happy to see me but the dog. Judy Cornbread was beyond excited, she was ecstatic. She was circling and making this strange sobbing sound. I thought she might need sedatives. Dogs are ridiculous.

So that’s my recent adventure. I’m tired from jet-lag, missing my family, and drinking a few too many beers. I know I need to post a little more frequently. I haven’t been in the writing mood. Thanks for sticking around to read this stuff. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.