Author: Underdaddy

I am a well-intentioned father of four girls. I assume the identity of Underdaddy to carry out my mission of publicizing my mistakes and funny adventures so that others may smile. Engineer by day, I understand that if no one ever discusses failures then no progress will ever be made. In that light, I represent a lot of potential progress.

Uncensored

This update may be a little scattered around but I’ll share several pictures to make up for it. Work has picked up and I’m staying really busy. A routine has developed like a slow moving, low pressure system. The skies are steadily raining down the signs of spring. Warm weather. Cold weather. Green poking through the browns of winter. A few days of surveying offered some interesting views.

IMG_0464

This was an old wooden pile that is giving in to the moss and the moisture of the forest. Slowly being broken down with each change of the weather. You can focus in and see an entire world living under the microscope. Some infinities are smaller than others.

IMG_0466

The moss is having less success on a concrete drainage culvert downstream. The green is clinging to the grey and living on a steady stream of seep water and scant sunlight. On a long enough timescale the chemistry between the moss and the concrete will soften the surface and wear it down. Consuming it grain by grain.

 

Behind me, in the same culvert, lurked another anomaly.

 

IMG_3290

The elusive graffiti penis. A man can go a lifetime and never see one in person. How lucky am I to witness it in the native habitat? Undisturbed by censorship. A misplaced outline, waiting like a coloring book, for an artist with the skill to color within the lines.

IMG_3279

Jasper has a new trick. Instead of faking a heart attack, he faked a stroke. He did the normal lying around thing but when I jostled him awake he kept one side of his face completely still for a good forty five seconds. This dude is a master at deception.

IMG_3276

I stayed at a hotel and after a night of tossing and turning on a bed that sounded like rubber shoes in a bag I woke to part of the mattress exposed. I don’t know what this means but it is April so….

IMG_2189

I saw this truck on the highway. I’m not sure how to feel about their suggestion. I suppose if you are going to buy, buy local. I wonder if the driver looks like my daughter’s snapchat filter…

IMG_3273

Jane turned eleven today. That is ridiculous. She is the oldest and therefore a pioneer for her sisters. She represents the forward wave of my children crashing into the future. Each year teeters on being less celebrated as milestones start the process of spacing themselves out. This year we celebrated the young lady she is becoming. She loves art, music, anything Lord of the Rings, Greek mythology, and Weird Al songs. I couldn’t be more proud of who she is and where she is going.

IMG_3294

I thought maybe this picture was a ghost floating through a sea of red and built of the very fabric of the universe. He is holding a flashlight towards the sky and pondering if the answers for his existence actually exist themselves. Jane tells me I am wrong and that she painted a wolf howling at the moon. I see both.

IMG_3296

It says “Squirrels sometimes eat trash.” Don’t drip your computer trying to read it. 

We decorated for the birthday girl by writing fun phrases on balloons and hanging them in the hallway outside her room late last night. An important fact… if a balloon doesn’t float then your pre-written message will appear upside down. Oh well. We tried.

IMG_0183

Finally, Judy Cornbread ran into something outside and jabbed a hole into her chest. I don’t mean finally as in I was wanting her to get injured and after a long waiting period it happened. I just mean that this is the last piece of my update tonight. She is fine. It resembles a gunshot wound so I think the scar will be badass.

If you have been noticing the uptick in the pace of life, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Censored

Lady Bug dropped her forked. It hit the edge of the couch and clattered onto the floor. Her frustration rolled out of her four-year-old mouth in a crystal clear “DAMMIT”.

I looked out of the kitchen where I was preparing a beverage, eyebrow raised, “Excuse me young lady?”

She looked around like she was confused by my question. Like I was obviously deaf for not hearing her the first time. “I said dammit.”

Wow. I tried to play the stern parent who doesn’t deal with nonsense. “I know I did not hear you say that.”

“Yes.” She looked directly at me and reiterated,  “I. Said. D-a-m-m-i-t.”

She had doubled down. I shifted to negotiation phase. “You don’t need to use that word.”

She cocked an eyebrow. “Why not?” What else should be used in a moment of frustration?

She was wielding the logic of a child. It was simple but effective. A real world litmus test for a concept without a previous experience to taint judgement. I thought to myself, dammit, and then I rolled out the catch-all fallback position, “It is an adult word and you don’t need to use it.”

She fired back immediately. “That is stupid.”

Double dammit. She was right. It was stupid. We spend our lives pretending we are better than we really are. An endless cycle where we try to convince each successive generation to be better than we know ourselves to be. I was impressed by her wisdom, her resolve. She might be the first person in our family to be free of society and our expectations. How could I respond? “It is stupid but that is life so don’t say it, okay?” I replied with a slight squint. Bracing for the rebuttal.

I played my last card. This was it. The bluff. The precipice. If she smelled blood in the water I might lose all the imaginary leverage that I held over her. I braced for her answer and walked into the living room to meet my fate. My terror of a teenager could emerge from her cocoon a full nine years before nature intended.

The world hung in the balance and she answered, “okay…”.

I breathed a sigh of relief and noticed she was staring at the cup of juice in my hand. Saved by a technicality. She is unable to pour juice from the massive Hawaiian Punch jug that I buy in bulk. She is at least smart enough to know that she needs my brute strength to survive.

I am the parenting version of a useful idiot. They let me believe I have some sort of power in exchange for my services. We both know that once they can drive a car or pour their own juice, I’m done for.

I was almost done for after a separate scenario.

Earlier tonight the girls were playing Mario Cart and talking about rhyming words. One said the word “Tickle.” Seamlessly, another said, “Pickle.” A giggling God tied their thoughts together and they erupted into a chant of “Tickle my Pickle. Tickle my pickle.” I told them to stop with the rhyme. They asked “why?”

“Because I said so”, I said as seriously as I could while rushing into the next room to wipe the smile off my face. It took me a full five minutes to gather myself and be able to face them again. It was hilarious.

If you struggle with censorship, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Possum Dog Chronicles

He lived a simple life, sleeping most of the day and doing the same at night. His well-worn pillow, crammed into the bottom of the black wire pet carrier, was a retreat from the noise and confusion of his new home. A home full of squeals from four little girls and sideways glances from a surly black and white cat who, judging from her demeanor, had begrudgingly decided to let him live. There was another dog who lived in the house as well. A large sandy coated hound of some sort who was easily excited and falsely vigilant with intruders. He knew her name to be Judy because that is what everyone shouted at her whenever the garbage was toppled or her long tail knocked a drink off a table. The cat said that Judy’s first act of unintentional defiance was crapping in the brown leather dress shoe of the human that the small ones called “Daddy”.

Of course, that was a story from a cat which is always to be taken with a grain of salt.

Judy was outside his cage at that very moment. Making desperate pleads with him to wake up. Nudging the door and whimpering. The Daddy was calling out. Concerned but not quite upset.

“Jasper. Jasper. Wake up Jasper.”

Jasper heard the words like an echo down a hallway. A disembodied voice calling him back to a world he had started to leave behind. Light entering the edge of his still open eyes shone upon a shrinking universe. The forms huddled outside of his cage were shadows flitting at the corners of his eyes. Blurry figures. Like trying to see someone through steamy shower glass. He wanted to answer. He felt the urge to meet the calls but his body would not respond.

“Jasper… jaspe…”

The sounds faded and he slipped into the darkness. This wasn’t his first trip but he didn’t know if it might be the last.

A week before, he had gotten excited when the Daddy had unexpectedly appeared through the front door. Never mind the fact that the Daddy had exited the house two minutes prior for the sole purpose of checking the mail. Put aside the fact that it was a Saturday and no one had actually left the property at all. In Jasper’s dog mind, the Daddy had returned. None of the details mattered. The Daddy was back and anyone coming back was exciting. Adrenaline rushed through Japser’s veins and made his hair tingle just behind his ears in the spot that he liked to be rubbed. The euphoria was too much for his elderly stomach. Jasper froze in a wave of nausea and puked up the lunch he had just eaten into a rusty red pile of Purina. He lay down to rest and fell asleep. Or passed out. A minor darkness.

Half an hour later he woke to the smell of something delicious nearby. Snacks! How fortunate that the Daddy had not seen the vomit and thrown it away like he did all the other times.

IMG_3217

(His bowl is inside so Judy Cornbread doesn’t eat his food.)

This darkness was different. Deeper. More confining. He sank into the warm comfort of the nothingness while flashes of his short seven or eight years memory played in his mind. The home he shared with his first family. A father, a mother, two girls, and a rambunctious boy. He remembered laying in the sink in the bathroom while his Mother dried her hair with a magic contraption that created a wonderful stream of hot air that made his curly white hair ripple in the flow.

He thought of the house he was living in now and the baby bird in the backyard. He had been released into the backyard to pee. Somehow despite poor vision, a lack of teeth, and a general smallness; he had managed to track the bird to a small space under an old dog house. For a moment, instinct seized his sensibilities and forced his congested heart into service. Oxygen soaked into his inefficient lungs. He launched blindly at his prey and sank his one decent tooth into the baby bird’s vulnerable neck. He knew it was wrong but something in him cried out for murder. To show his power. To prove he wasn’t the feeble eyed, tendered footed Jasper. He was a conqueror. A warrior. The world was survival of the fittest and very rarely was that him. This memory made him feel large.

He thought of cheese snacks that he got every night and the little white pill hidden in the center. The powdery substance was bitter but the creamy goodness of the Kraft single was worth it. So savory and delicious. Even now, his dying mouth watered slightly at the thought; just as Pavlov hypothesized that it might.

Sound returned. Jasper’s ears became keen to the world around him. The humans were talking.

“What is it Judy? What’s wrong with Jasper? Uh oh. Hey honey… I think Jasper is dead.”

“What?”

“Jasper. I think he died.”

“You always think he died.”

“This time I think he really did. Judy thinks so too.”

He heard more of the humans press closer around the cage. Peering at his lifeless body. The oldest female, the one called Mommy with the colorful hair, leaned in close to the cage and asked, “What should we do? Oh God. He is dead isn’t he?”

The small humans ran into the room. “Mommy, mommy, what is wrong with Jasper? Daddy what is wrong?”

“I think he is dead.”

The smallest of the group declared, somewhat inappropriately, “Boom! Jasper’s dead.” And she ran out of the room.

The Mommy was worried. “What are we going to do?”

“Dig a hole in the backyard I guess. What else is there?”

The Daddy left for the kitchen to get a ceremonial shovel and the customary garbage bag.

IMG_3215

98.7% deceased. 

Jasper held tightly to those last words. A hole. In the backyard. A spark fired in his brain. Suddenly the darkness he thought was warm began to feel cold. A loneliness crept into his soul and he fought against the fading of the light. Fear. He swam towards the voices. Panic. He kicked against the currents. Desperation. Think of cheese. Think of killing birds in the backyard. This is not the end. Do not go gently into that good night.

Slowly he felt the tingle returning to his paws. He felt the rise and fall of a breathing chest and the irregular thump of an old dog’s heart. His eyes flittered and wiped away the milky glaze of death. He had returned and, just like the Daddy returning from the mailbox, he was excited. Jasper rose from the depths of the afterlife with a renewed vigor. An urge to spin circles and yip loudly like small dogs are prone to do. He was alive and excited! Resurrected! Full to the brim or hope and adrenaline and… nausea.

IMG_3211

He danced in a circle and then vomited a small yellowish pile of stomach acid at Daddy’s feet.

“Never mind. He was just asleep.” The Daddy walked to the kitchen for yet another paper towel. “Welcome back buddy”, he said as he scooped the warm goo into a trash can, ruining what was sure to be a decent midnight snack.

If you enjoy stories about certain death that is overcome by the power of life, this post is for you. Happy Easter. I don’t think Jasper is any sort of savior but his name does start with a “J” and he has visited the realm beyond. If only he could talk.

You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Country Fried Childhood

The modern interpretation of “country” is nothing more than a misplaced label. It is a fashion fad that includes shiny trucks, fancy boots, domestic beer, and songs that manage to weave all three themes together with a catchy tune. The term “rural” probably applies better to the contemporary trend. Country is an ethereal way of life that is hard to define but when you see it, you know it.

I recently discovered a treasure trove of old pictures that I would like to submit as evidence towards a country certificate. This can be a game. First, look at the picture and try to spot everything interesting you can see. I will then assist by pointing out the things I see. We can compare notes in the comments.

I do want to offer a caveat or a p.s. to my mother and stepdad for what you are about to endure. I cherish everything about my childhood, it most definitely gave me perspectives and opinions that I would never have gotten. Plus I got lots of awesome pictures for my blog. Also, we are now square on the you-shooting-me-through-the-kitchen-window thing.

Okay disclaimers out of the way. Who is ready to play?


PHOTO 1

Country13

Lightning in Buffalo River

This one is easy. I’m riding a horse in a river. Notice anything about my horse?

No? Let me assist…

Country14

If your original answer was “Oh, I notice your horse looks like a victim from Jeepers Creepers or maybe the horse from Sleepy Hollow.” then you win. This was Lightning and he was the slowest stallion on the planet. A tumor left him with only one eye and he walked with his head slightly tilted to the left so he could see where he was walking. He was also really tall which is handy for lumbering around with a visual impairment. He was a good horse though. I hope he died of old age and not from wandering into traffic.

Bonus: I think I’m wearing one of my parent’s T-shirts.


PHOTO 2

Country8

You might be a redneck if entertainment was rolling down the hill in front of the house and letting the dogs chase you. It was good during snow but a little bumpy on grass. Also, I am wearing rubber boots which is the official childhood boot on a farm. Cowboy boots are for riding.


PHOTO 3

Country16

This is awards day at my elementary school being held in the parking lot. The only parking lot. Where did everyone park? We had a gymnasium. Why?

I don’t suppose this picture really goes towards the whole country theme but check out how deliciously 1980’s this day truly was…

Country1

Is that Michelle Duggar? What is she wearing? They still own this camera.


PHOTO 4

IMG_3154

This photo.

Family vacation to Fall Creek Falls. What the hell were we wearing? Did we share a new pack of tube socks? This photo counts towards country because I showed it to my mother yesterday and she said, and I quote, “This looks so suburban.” On what planet under the almightly Lord’s sweet creation is this style any measure of “suburban”? Good lord.

A) I don’t think my sister has pants. Mom swears she does but I’m unconvinced. I do remember her Pizza Hut shirt was from a Land Before Time themed birthday party.

B) My stepdad looks like he escaped from the law and robbed the first elderly man checking the mail that he happened upon.

C) My cousin has rainbow short shorts. God bless the eighties. This might have been early nineties but those clothes are a hold-over. And we shared a haircut style too.

Who thought, Hell yeah, this is a moment. Y’all squeeze in close for a picture. They were right. This is awesome.

I may frame this one.


PHOTO 5

Country17

We built this barn like the Amish. Except the Amish get lots of people and do it in one day.  I remember building the skeleton of the barn and then adding to it every season by recycling some nearby building. Maybe a neighbor had a chicken coupe that they no longer wanted. Piece by piece we sculpted a masterpiece. There were these eight inch nails that were forged by the devil himself and intended to drive you insane because they would bend in a slight breeze. If you didn’t hit the nail perfectly it would bend in half. The nails were ribbed so they were impossible to pull out once they got started. I hated those nails.

Thirty years later and I think this barn is almost done. In multiple ways. I love sitting in the barn while it rains on the tin roof. It is very soothing.


PHOTO 6

Country15

This is a picture of my mom with a newborn foal but the item of interest to me is the livestock trailer in the background. The infamous “red trailer”. The yellow top is a recycled chunk of school bus and the sides and front were welded onto a regular flat bed trailer. Everything was then spray painted red. A few years of UV damage and some miscellaneous rusting created an awe inspiring symbol of country perseverance.

The foal was a girl and named Grace. She is an ornery old lady now. Also, that stall in the barn now has a solid back wall. When did that happen? Who knows. Barn gnomes.


PHOTO 7

Country4

We put a lot of effort into super fancy dog beds. This is Alicia, patron saint of our farm. She lived to 123 in dog years and in her final months of life she appeared to be a solar powered skeleton. She once fell off of a spiral staircase onto a concrete floor. Smacked like a bowling ball. Any mortal dog would have died from a brain bleed but not her. Nine feet down and she walked it off like a zombie that got shot anywhere besides directly-in-the-head. She was a really good squirrel dog and loved hunting down rats that lived under the dog houses.

All this stuff counts right?


PHOTO 8

CountryBird

This photo has lots of options; the wooden cows, the gun by the backdoor, the outdoor plant hanging inside, the playhouse in the backyard that was crammed full of junk or chickens (I can’t remember which), the curtains, and the pet bird (Spike) that was later eaten by a cat.

CountryCat

This is the cat, Patches. She avoided a brutal broomstick beating and lived to be an old lady. Its a miracle mom didn’t take her out with a shotgun after Spike got eaten.


PHOTO 9

Country5

This one is self sustaining. House trailer, trucks, dogs, a spare tire, gravel road. A song in a picture.


We had some farm animals that were dangerous and we kept a stick with us for self defense. We had a turkey and a goat that were both mean and immune to physical assault. I watched my mom loose her shit on the turkey when it tried to spur her. She grabbed a stick and whooped that dude like a dirty rug. He lived but not much longer after that incident.  I couldn’t find any pictures for those.

If you enjoy pictures that capture an era frozen in time, this post is for you. You’re welcome. To my Dad and Stepmom, don’t think you got off easy. I just haven’t gone through photos on your side in a while. Soon. soon….

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

 

Hopping The State Line

For some reason, society has decided that living life with anything other than two kids and two pets is crazy. Absolutely and certifiably, insane. If you just got married then you get a pass but it is only temporary. Time is tapping a toe and looking at a pocket watch. Get this show on the road.

If you are a little confused over what is expected of you have no fear, Hollywood and magazines have you covered. Or you could ask the internet indirectly by posting a picture and a phrase like “guess who is expecting!!”. If you have one child or less then you will get hundreds of likes. Maybe a few shares. Try it if you already have three kids or more and crickets…

So what is ideal? In an effort to save time I have looked into the matter. The ideal family has the following ingredients; a hard working father in a semi-physical trade that he can provide a good living but is definitely tired at the end of the day, a mother who makes a fuss over the family and is dramatic but she has a heart of gold and manages to cook all meals including school lunches; a son who is the oldest, good at sports, and is protective over his younger sister; a daughter who is the youngest and free spirited, highly pursued by boys but she is too busy with her studies for tomfoolery; a dog who is either a beagle mix or a golden retriever and was originally purchased as the companion to the son but is now best friends with dad; a cat who is fiercely independent but loves rubbing against legs when people are carrying large objects, she belongs to the daughter but you would never know it.

Throw in a white picket fence in a neighborhood with sidewalks and you have yourself a slice of America. Right out the oven.


If you don’t follow the recipe above then expect some of the following questions.

“Are you trying for a boy/girl?”

“When is the next one?”

“Are you ever planning on having kids?”

“Aren’t you going to give them a little brother or sister?”

or in my case…

“Four kids! Jesus. That’s one way to live your life.”

Old ladies in the supermarket are the most brutally honest. I have heard more than one person mention suicide if they had “that many” kids. Suicide! In front of my kids no less. It sounded more like, “Oh my. I’d don’t know what I’d do with that many. Probably jump off a bridge.” But honestly Gladiss, that is suicide.

Why wait lady? If life is that tough already. And thanks for letting my kids think that they are an unbearable burden.

It is just weird.

I have good kids too. They are polite and kind hearted. Definitely not “jump off a bridge” material.


People are no different with animals. The first dog or cat and people are all, “That is so sweet. Animals are such a blessing! Your kids will love it!”

Then hit them up with news about a rabbit or another dog or feeding an abandoned baby squirrel that lost its mother to a freak cat accident.

“Oh my.”

“Are you crazy?”

“What do you feed them?”

So what if I know what shows up when you type “squirrel nipples” into the Google search bar. It was a legit search. Go judge someone else.

I know people who spend more on booze than I do on animals. Or cars. Or fancy dinners. Hell, I spend more on fancy dinners than I do on pets. Which proves you can’t justify one bad habit by comparing it to a worse one but still… There are worse things than being an animal person or a having a large family.

All of the stuff above here was just a setup to say, “Hey we bought another wallaby. Her name is Bindi Lou Who.”

IMG_3174

Now maybe you will feel guilty about giving me grief over it.

Maybe not. Either way.

If you like wallabies and secretly knew that we were crazy enough to get another one, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.