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.

Total Eclipse of the Part

The Perseid Meteor showers are gracing our skies this weekend. YouTube conspiracists promise the brightest showing in modern history sprinkled with end-of-all-humanity. I haven’t bothered to Google the event because it is partly cloudy here and I probably won’t get to see the action. Plus, we are only on Episode 9 of Season 3 in The Flash. The binge watch is real. I have become addicted to the characters more so than the plot lines but it is a fun show with some good complexity so I will keep watching. My dishes may lie dirty in the sink. My laundry may live in limbo between the floor and the dryer. My friends and family may report me missing and fear I have died but I know one thing… I will find out if Barry and Iris are really meant to be. This means that I probably will fail to notice the setting sun and I will wake up in the recliner, having completely missed the world’s most impressive meteor shower. Thank you Netflix.

That will be okay because on August 21st there will be a full solar eclipse. I plan on watching that event with my family. Our only decision to make regarding the solar eclipse is where we are going to watch and how we can avoid being part of an Interstate National Disaster. Experts expect millions of people to flock to the “Totality” zone where the eclipse will be an absolute darkening of the sun instead of 90% in the 100 miles adjacent. The ensuing traffic jam promises to become a disaster urban legend. I must decide if we will brave the migration of sky-watchers or settle for something less than amazing. My track record suggests the latter. I buy generic coffee for my Keurig because it is “good enough”. We clean out our van when we become unsure of “that crunching sound”. We are, generally, terrible at self-motivation and superstars at procrastination. (I’ll write a blog on that topic tomorrow.)

Not this year. We are cramming in some quality family memories. We are going to Disney in October. That should be amazing and exhausting. We will take pictures with every character that we encounter. We will buy the fifty-dollar, plastic and felt Mickey Ears Hat. We will be the best parents that selective photo posts on Facebook will allow.

As a warm-up, we are going to watch the solar eclipse in nine days. We might even try for a dinner together as a family afterwards. Anything is possible. No pain no gains.

I’m excited about the solar eclipse. I hope it makes a special memory for the girls and they aren’t preoccupied with having to go pee or wanting to listen to silly songs on XM radio. That is expecting a lot from a demographic group that mistreats toys but insist on playing for hours with empty Tupperware. Maybe the memory will be more powerful in their future adult brains.

I remember the first time that celestial objects seemed like real things. Not just bright spots in the sky. My sister and I went with our Grandmother on a road trip to Indiana to visit family. My Aunt and Uncle had a really cool house with a heated pool and a next-door neighbor who played football for the Colts. One night we were in the backyard laying on the trampoline, staring at the stars. My uncle pointed out a star that was moving faster than the other stars across the sky. “That’s a satellite”, he told me. It was a cool moment. It moved space and satellites from something imaginary to something I could observe and understand. We watched at least ten more objects coast across the sky over the next couple of hours. I hope the eclipse will do something similar for my girls. Of course, I will probably leave out all the dirty jokes my uncle was telling while we stared up at the heavens. I doubt the girls would appreciate tales of frogs who perform sexual favors or dogs who lick themselves and the old men who say, “You better pet him first.” I thought the jokes were hilarious. They were a hit at school later that fall. Thanks Uncle J.

If you enjoy the wonders of the cosmos and dirty jokes, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Return Of The Lizard King

We have had a setback. Over the last few months we have been slowly getting rid of animals. We sold the sugar gliders. James, Lily, Harry, and the future twins. Our snake escaped into the great wild beyond. Our gecko sneaked (snuck?) out of his open cage and was nowhere to be found. It was a very positive trend aside from the fact that two of the animals were reptiles and were roaming inside my house. At the current rate I expect we would be animal free in six months. Oh happy day!

Then one came back. Vanderwal the Gecko is alive and well. He was hanging off the side of the bunk beds about five feet away from his cage. The poor guy was emaciated and shedding a layer of skin. Probably just barely surviving on abandoned Froot Loops and idle cups of juice. We got him collected and lined out with water, food, and a heat lamp. Time will tell if he will survive. I can’t believe he made it this long.

Sometimes the things we are in charge of are stronger than we know and survive despite our poorest efforts. Thank goodness for that.

If you are a poor steward of health and safety, this post is for you. You’re welcome. Be careful what cages you leave open.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

All The Time

School starts back in less than two weeks. Summer this year was only about ten weeks long. We had lots of scheduled events and even some unscheduled ones that leaned hard on the fast-forward button of life. My oldest two girls are going horse riding for the second day in a row tomorrow. I let them go again because summer is drawing to a close, learning will soon replace riding for several months.

I don’t know why my mind has been fixated on perception of time but I was thinking about it on my drive home. When the kids go back to school they will probably tell their friends about riding horses all summer long. A teacher might ask about some of their summer routines and they might respond, “Oh sure, I did that all the time.”

If someone had asked me on a late August day in the 90’s what I did “all the time” I might reply in several different ways.

Swimming with my brother and sisters as soon as the water was warm enough. The pool was our summertime babysitter. Untold hundreds of hours of swimming. Millions of hot dogs on square plastic plates with a side of Macaroni and Cheese.

Watching TGIF shows on Friday nights and eating Little Caesars pizza. The good kind. The square pizzas with the cheese fried into the corners. Drinking a glass full of coke with a couple of gigantic ice cubes and a layer of pizza grease floating on the surface because I didn’t stop to wipe my face between eating and drinking.

Riding horses and bicycles at the State Park near our house. Camping in the front half of the horse trailer under an air conditioner that leaked condensation. I remember one night during a thunderstorm especially clear. I was curious if the lightning hitting the ground near our campsite would destroy one of the tall pine trees and crush our trailer. The spidery purple flash and thunderous boom made it a risk I was willing to accept.

Playing Nintendo with my mom because she was addicted to Mario 3 and my TV was the only color TV that would hook up to the Nintendo.

Going squirrel hunting after school during my freshman and sophomore year. In a time when a shotgun in a truck was just a way to save time and not have to stop back by the house. Never thought twice about it.

I remember a summer when my cousin came to visit every day. It seemed like every day. We played GI Joes from breakfast until bedtime. We had a cassette tape of Bart Simpson singing “Do The Bartman”. We adventured in creek beds and streams and found a couple of places where people dumped old junker cars.

Friday nights in middle school were spent at my friend Michael’s house. Sometimes we played Gin with his grandmother. Sometimes we walked the country roads and got to experience some dangerous independence. Wild dogs and/or sasquatch were always at the edge of the streetlights.

In college, I was working at Red Lobster and would get finished with work late. Supermom would meet me after work and we would go dancing. Several times her dad would join us and we always had the best time. Cheap beer and crowds of mismatched people.

All of these things I can remember had a first and a last time. The first is usually memorable but the last one sneaks by you. Disguised as one of the times in the middle, it is over before you even know what has happened. I could recreate some of the events but it would be for nostalgia. You can’t capture an old memory. Memory has too many pieces. Too many moving parts. They boil down to a specific feeling for each and every instance. A smell. A feeling. A song. A swirling picture in your mind.

I hope my girls are taking note of the things they enjoy in a routine. The routines that seem infinite until you look back and tally the actual count. Years, weeks, days, and hours. Measures of time. They all have a finite number. We eat them like candy and spend them like quarters at an arcade. I spend a few of my slices of time tucking them into bed or giving out random hugs. Listening to creative ideas and encouraging them to try new things. I do those things some-of-the-time.

Tonight, my girls are whisper-yelling in their beds about an hour past when they should be fast asleep. I go out about every fifteen minutes and threatened to bring down the thunder. I never do. They will eventually fall asleep. Judy Cornbread is sleeping on the foot of their bed because the girls are her pack. Night unwinds in a usual way. We do this all the time.

 

I hope they keep that familiarity of the people and things they enjoy all the time because…

 

All the time, for the Summer 2017, was ten weeks.

 

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Ghost Buster

I do not believe in ghosts.

I do believe that some happenings are hard to explain.

I love watching shows or reading stories about strange phenomena. I want all the legends to be true because it means life is more complex and interesting. The only time I don’t want the supernatural to be true is when it happens near me. Then I am a fan of skepticism.

When Jane was younger she talked about her “ghost friends”. She spoke of them like they were real things that she interacted with which is not unusual. Lots of children have imaginary friends. I asked her one time if they were imaginary and she looked at me for a quiet moment before responding, “No. They are dead people…”.

“But I thought you said there was a ghost baby. Does that mean a ghost boy and a ghost girl had a baby?”

“No. It is just a dead baby.”

“Okay. Let’s not tell your mother about this.”

“I think one is my great grandfather.”

“Nope. Stop talking.”

“One of them is behind you.”

“Shhhhh. It is bedtime.”

“But…”

“No.”

We all went to bed and I tried to put the incident out of my mind. I’m certain that Jane just has a really active imagination. Just like my mother thought I had when I told her about the water faucet turning on randomly or the light globe from our ceiling fan dropping on my head one night. Both true. Pure coincidence though, probably.

The question always gnaws at my brain. What is the explanation for these strange events? Is there a shadow world beyond our sight?

The other night while the kids were away Supermom and I were watching a movie late at night. The dog was pacing around and suddenly fixated on something beyond our doorway in the room of our youngest two daughters. She froze and bristled every hair on her back. Her chest vibrated in a low continuous growl. Something was lurking beyond. Some other-worldly being that floats at the edge of reality, coming to life through the eyes of clairvoyant children and dogs. Whatever it was, it was there.

Supermom, in a severe setback for gender equality, declared, “You’re the man. Go see what that is.”

To which I replied, “If it possesses my soul then there is no way you can defend yourself against me. I could take you out so you should probably be the first to make contact. You know, in case I have to kill you.”

My logic fell on deaf ears and an unimpressed facial expression. I got out of bed and started a slow slinking movement around the edge of the room. I don’t know why I thought I could sneak up on a ghost. Ghosts are magical supernatural beings with understanding of the future and the metaphysical ability to pass though solid objects. I was hopelessly outmatched.

But sneak I did.

The room was dominated by darkness. I peered around the door slowly taking more of the room into my view. Judy Cornbread sensed my tension and it amplified her own. Her teeth were bared and the low growl was becoming a deep roar. Familiar shadows formed in the room for the bed and the dresser. One shadow lingered in the middle of the room. Hovering in the air about four feet tall. Wavering and occasionally giving off a shimmer of light from the hallway. I held my breath as I reached for the light.

The switch snapped on and the room flooded with light. I saw it.

A balloon. A damn balloon with a stupid happy chicken on it.

I turned to give a disappointed look to my brave guardian, Judy Cornbread, but she had already retreated to the living room. A dedicated soldier. As reliable as Mexican tap water. Traitorous worm.

I’m such a brave hero. I expand my motto for creepiness, Children and Pets are Creepy.

If you ever get worked up by a mentally challenged mutt, this post is for you. You’re welcome. A special thanks to baby D for having helium Mylar balloons that we passed on to my children for their enjoyment.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Late Night Raid

Sometimes my analytical mind gets me into trouble. I reason through problems, unchecked by pesky facts. As long as my thoughts are logical from one point to the next then I feel reasonably satisfied that the end result will be okay. That is not always a reasonable assumption.

Example.

I know that the exterior doors on my house have weather stripping to prevent air leakage from inside to outside. Those plastic-coated foam inserts seat firmly against the door and keep cooling costs to a minimum. Surely there is not a better seal available outside of bank vaults and the doors on aircraft. Air tight.

I also know that there are spiders in my garage. I walk into webs every time that I decide to go outside to find a tool (Allen Wrench) to repair a household item (stop the squeaking of children’s furniture). The spiders live in every crack and crevice. I know that dispersing a gas and allowing it to soak into each crack and crevice might be an effective approach.

I also know that the warning on Raid Bug Bombs suggests that “people and pets be removed from the residence for a period of not less than four hours” and that “upon returning to the residence, ventilate area for a minimum of thirty minutes”. A powerful warning and wise advice.

However, I remembered that the door to my garage has weather stripping and there are spiders in my garage. These two facts made me confident that I could disregard the instructions on a Raid Bug Bomb because, thanks to the door, my garage is outside my house. A) House is safe. B) Spiders must die. Thereby and heretofore there is no actual threat to the pets and residents inside the house and insofarsuchto the arachnids will perish.

Now, I know what you are thinking. Holy shit dude. What if some of that bug nerve gas seeps in through the cracks in the weather stripping around that air-tight door? It could wipe out your entire family. Not a problem. I learned enough in my freshman year of college to understand how to correctly tape the edge of a door frame. My RA didn’t smell any pot. These bugs will be sealed to their fates. Which I did with packing tape right after I deployed the Bug Bomb in the garage at 7:00 p.m. on a Tuesday night while the dog and children played in the nearby living room. Yay! I make decisions!

The moment that the last piece of door tape had been applied I started to have second thoughts. Maybe they could be described more accurately as Delayed-First-Thoughts. Thing like, “Hmmm, is this a good idea?” and “Maybe 7:00 at night was a bit late in the day for an experiment.” I began to implement some additional safety measures. I decreed the bonus room as off-limits because it was directly above the garage. I started to think about the attic space not being separated from the garage at the soffits. I began to think about the fan for the air conditioner that was located in the attic and how the aluminum cover on the circulation unit is not exactly air-tight. I became convinced that I had not only accidentally exposed my family to a deadly nerve agent but that I had injected this poison with ninja-like precision. I started having ghost pains in my chest.

Thirty minutes later, while walking through the living room, I smelled a faint odor of fresh flowers. Similar to using six dryer sheets with a load of towels on high heat.

“Hey Supermom…”

“What?”, with an eyeroll.

“Walk by the stairs and tell me if you notice anything.”

Big sigh as she sets down her Kindle, “Hmmm, not really.”

“Do you smell something like dryer sheets?”

“Sort of. I don’t know. Maybe.”

I decided that to be safe I would venture outside and walk by the garage to see if any similar odors were present. They were. Strongly. Bigly.

Fuck.

I went back into the house. “Honey. Get the kids dressed and grab some iPads.”

“Where are we going?”

“Walmart parking lot for three hours I guess.”

“What about the dog?”

“We rescued her and let her sleep at the foot of our bed. It’s been a good life. If she doesn’t make it then that is a burden I will have to bear.”

“Okay.” Shoulder shrug.

 

So… we evacuated our house to Walmart parking-lot-purgatory while Supermom read her kindle and wondered why she married me or allowed me to reproduce with her so often. After about an hour we had all had enough and decided to return home and welcome death with open arms.

Upside – The house smelled amazing and the spiders in the garage were definitely dead. Live and learn.

If you are an idiot and bug bombed your residence with a total disregard for safety or directions, this post is for you. I hope you killed your spiders. You’re welcome.

 

-Underdaddy to the rescue.