Adventures

Hero’s journey.

Cousin Ralph

I am forever amazed at the strength of women. It is something that can be seen throughout the age range. They have a perseverance that men don’t deserve. Allow me to explain.

We are in the throes of an illness that I am pretty sure is the flu. It started Thursday with the youngest child and if you have an aversion to these kinds of stories this is where you need to exit the story train.

 

I even gave you guys an extra space to consider your actions so we can continue. My conscience is clear.

 

So all this started Thursday with Lady Bug blowing chunks of curdled milk at school. Supermom got the call and picked her up. She was acting normal except for the vomiting so we thought maybe just a minor thing. A couple of hours later I got a text that let me know that it was not a minor thing. Lady Bug left the room to “go potty” and came back without pants on. Supermom asked why she had no pants and she replied that she was hot. Sitting around with no pants is not too out of the ordinary so Supermom let it ride for a few minutes. Some brief few moments later Supermom discovered that “I was hot” is code for “I completed ruined my sweat pants”. No worries because the dog had discovered this already and had done some pre-cleaning. That text alone gave me the flu over the phone.

I weighed the options and considering everything that has been swirling around school I decided to pull the other three out of school and maybe cut down on the spread. We divided all the children and passed out the sanitizer. We rubbed the belly on a Buddha statue. We drank Elderberry juice. We patted our heads and rubbed our tummies at the same time. Anything for some good luck.

Everyone stayed out of school on Friday. By Friday night we thought we might luck out. I had started a fever but none of the other symptoms. We all went to bed and things were good until about 4:00 am. Threeto was crying and had created a slight mess. Her bed is a rustic style wooden bunk bed. She sleeps on top bunk and had apparently tossed her cookies on the top step of the stairs on the side. It walked down to the carpet like a putrid slinky. I heard the call and rose to the challenge. Fever or no fever I was going to help. Except… about the time I got to the bedroom I realized I was in my own brand of trouble. I didn’t explain. I just turned around and went to our bathroom for some porcelain prayer time.

I don’t know if anyone else has encountered the dilemma of choosing which problem to tackle first but my brain wasn’t in a good place. As I sat on the throne and held the garbage can in front of me I had an inner voice, let’s call it an angel, whisper to me. She said, “You need to put your face on the tile to survive.” So, by the time Supermom made it to check on me I was in some strange contortion, face down, trying to get every inch of my naked skin to touch cold tile. It was a graceful thing to see. I made it back to the bed and dosed up on some Phenergan which kept me off the tile for the rest of the night.

Everyone else is on alert and Supermom has started showing some symptoms. That makes four of us and it inspired a discussion on the strength of women.

All of my girls, wife included, have this supernatural ability to remain upright while puking. The younger two girls actually voluntarily do it from a standing position. Who stands up? Cyborgs who are unfamiliar with biologic functions? My body is not built that way. I have to lay my head on the toilet seat and practically duct tape myself in position because my muscles are useless. If I pass out and break my neck then that’s just how it goes. I break into sweats and start negotiating with the baby Jesus for an ounce of sweet release. They are all fancy about it like other women will be watching so they better keep things straight. It is impressive.

Anyway.

If you have ever watched a virus progressing its way through the family you know the terror. This post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Swimming With The Current

I have been really terrible about documenting life lately. It has been swirling and confusing and moving very quickly. And slowly somehow. It feels like I am swimming with the current and I can’t differentiate between the times when I am going downstream because I want to go or being swept along. Ultimately it doesn’t matter. Both options are going the same way.

Things have been good. Just busy.

We have been crafty. I built a table for our dining room.

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I made it in our sunroom and used it as an excuse to buy several clamps and tools that I felt I needed.

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The polyurethane says to use in a vented area and that is legitimate advice. I think Supermom and I were both high by the time we finished each coat. We had the windows open and fans on but it is some strong stuff. At least it looks nice.

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I expect it to collapse like a country porch and probably kill our dog(s). But until it does… we will enjoy our new table.

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It seats eight. We don’t have eight matching chairs but Im not a man who gets upset by details. 

Our search for an old barn-wood table took us to a giant antique mall. The lack of an old barn-wood table at the antique mall led to me building my own which means this part of the story is out of chronological order. We got other things from the antique mall. We bought a couple of fancy old lamps with questionable wiring. We got some Keebler Elf sized rocking chairs to refinish. I also got lots of pictures of strange and terrible and just plain weird things that people had for sale. I will share a few of these photos below…

 

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Classic Made-You-Look 

The next item looked to be some sort of traditional folk-art sculpture but I feel like the person has to pee.

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Madonna’s Muse?

The next one was peeing.

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This attaches to the top of a whiskey bottle. 

I have questions. A) Where was this made and sold? B) Is this a child or a cherub and is there a difference to the end-user? C) The “spout” is broken. What was the original piece? D) Who approved this at the whiskey novelty topper company?

At least the next one didn’t leave any questions. Well maybe one; Is this a slam or brag for people from Oklahoma?

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And for the last one…

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Just throw it away already.

It looks like something from a B-rated horror movie. A four point deer with cataracts.

In all of our nostalgia and looking through antiques Supermom started thinking about old pictures. She couldn’t find a specific box of photos from her childhood so we went searching in our storage shed. Turns out that a super colony of ants made a home out of the pictures box. We had to dump out millions of ants and sort through a pile of pictures one by one to clean off damaged inks and calcified ant urine. Many of the photos were a complete loss but we salvaged one that has become my new favorite.

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Supermom even got the socks right. Im proud. 

We discovered that we have matching photos from the mid-eighties. Apparently baby pictures at Olan Mills required a large rock and a timber bridge in the background. The hallway art project is another product of our recent crafty-ness.

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I look like I’m selling some sort of pyramid scheme to relatives.

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Same Rock. Same Bridge.

What makes these more impressive is the fact that we were born 3 years and 300 miles apart. The power of consumerism.

The photo wall is really cool. I’ll have to share that with everyone next time. And the refinished desk.

If you have been treading water already in 2019, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Ghosted

I am a grown man.

I am brave.

I do my best to ignore bumps in the night and a creaky old house.

I knew that when we moved in we would have some adjusting to do. The girls would likely hear things and make up stories. I was ready.

When they found an old photograph from right after the house was constructed, it was black and white and showed the father and mother sitting on the back porch, I dismissed it as something that was left behind.

When some of the doors move, I know it is a hinge that is misaligned from the foundation settlement.

When the girls created a Mrs Potatohead and dressed her in red and named her Lola which is also the name of the late matriarch of the house, I let it slide. Kids pick up on things. I don’t think they knew any names at that point but maybe they did.

When it sounds like someone is walking away from me when I go to the door at the carport, I could care less. Houses have their history and their owners. No need to get all excited about imagined ghosts and scary things.

But tonight… I must have had these thoughts hidden around the corners of my mind. They swirled and sat near the front while they waited for something to jump out and grab me. I needed a drink from the kitchen so I went through the living room where presents had been opened earlier in the day. When I rounded the corner of the living room and encountered the upper half of a torso rising out of the carpet, I nearly shit my pants. The wide dark eyes. The sparkling nails. The fact that something was emerging from my carpet and smiling at the same time. It all happened so fast that I didn’t have time to scream or warn my family. I just uttered an “uuggghh” while all my muscles locked into a ball of fear.

When I awoke a few seconds later I was face to face with the demon in the living room floor. I had one thought ringing in my head crystal-clear; Why did I buy this for Christmas and who the hell designed it.

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The room was darker. Stop laughing at me. 

My reptile brain didn’t even offer an alternative. It said, “Satan is crawling out of hell to eat your ankles.”

If you get freaked out over misplaced toys or strange shadows, this post is for you.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Oodles of Noodles

I have zero doubt that we are on a special radar at school. Red flagged. The Underdaddy children are subject to shenanigans and special trips to the principal’s office a couple of times each year. It’s fine. At least they are making a mark.

So far we have visited for:

Fear of Alien Abduction

Hearing Voices

Random Excessive Crying

Bullying and the Fallout

Defacing a Religious Text

Attention Deficit Disorder

Sassy Preteen Mouth

 

Our legend gets passed by word of mouth and each new teacher is given a briefing from the teacher before. “Bless your heart, I had that one last year…” or “She is a little eccentric but really sweet. Good luck.” I’m not certain of this but people are people and the teacher’s lounge is like any other water cooler gossip spot.

But never in the disarray that is our life did I think that we were giving off a vibe of abject poverty. My kids are malnourished but it is through their own personal choice. They only eat whatever things they can confirm that we don’t actually have. If I only have Mac and Cheese, they want Hot Dogs. If I have Hot Dogs they want Mac and Cheese. They exist on juice and imagined injustices.

And I will admit that some mornings we don’t all roll out the door looking polished and primed for the day. Maybe someone has a ring of Oreo Pop Tart around the mouth. Maybe someone’s hair escaped a brushing. Same for teeth occasionally. These are signs of being behind the schedule, not of being poor.

I wonder what stories my children are sharing at school?

Whatever the cause, fast forward or err… rewind to a few days ago and Prima sets her backpack on the counter. Inside the backpack are some generic cans of tomato and chicken noodle soups along with some instant noodles.

 

UD: What are these honey? (Holding up a can)

Prima: (Shrugs her shoulders) Someone put it in my locker.

UD: Why?

Prima walks off as if I wasn’t talking to her. Her sister walks in.

Jane: They do it randomly for kids who need it.

UD: Okay well, that isn’t random. That is targeted and how did it get in her locker?

Jane: The guidance counselor does it sometimes. I’ve seen her.

UD: Does she know whose locker she is leaving surprises in?

Jane: Yeah. Probably.

UD: Sooo… they think we are not feeding you guys?

Prima returns to the room.

Prima: I like these noodles they gave me.

UD: That’s not the point. And don’t walk off on me while I’m trying to talk with you. There are other kids who probably need these noodles.

Prima: Can I eat them?

UD: No! Maybe. I don’t know. (Turning to Supermom who just walked into the room) Can you return angel tree food? I don’t know the rules.

Prima: I’m eating the noodles.

Jane: I’m eating the Ravioli.

UD: I’ll eat the Ramen.

Supermom: No! This food is for the children.

UD: For our children apparently.

Supermom: No! Maybe… I don’t know. Put it in the pantry.

 

So now we have nonperishable food items for our underserved children to heat up and leave sitting in a bowl on the table while the go play their Nintendo Switch and wait for me to pour it out later into the garbage disposal.

If you have been on the receiving side of a community act of compassion then this post is for you. We are going to try and notch up our hygiene and nutrition plans since we are sending poverty vibes. I wouldn’t mind if it were true but I lament the fact that someone actually needs these things and they got sent home with a clan of children who have complete meltdowns over the wrong kind of juice or getting denied two types of meat in one meal. Example: Lady Bug requested a bologna sandwich with a side of hot dogs. She is a terrible vegan and, obviously, a princess accustomed to luxury in her processed meat selection.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

TOH 2 – Wallaby Trees

Part of our planning for the new home included building a place for our wallaby Bindi to reside. She needs a place that serves two purposes; 1) She needs to be protected from the elements and other harmful things. 2) She needs to be able to not shit in my house.

The Bindi Bungalow serves both purposes.

After checking with some local retailers, I realized that I am not wealthy and therefore would have to build the critter condo with my own free labor. And by “my own free labor” I mean my children. And a coworker who was willing to work in exchange for pizza and pasta.

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Maybe my only shot at an engineer.

We built a footing, joists, and a floor fit for a queen. The pad was ready for the DIY Shed kit from Lowes

We traveled across the barrens of asphalt and traffic known as “The Bypass” to the home improvement store. I purchased a pre-cut, unassembled shed that would look great and wouldn’t take more than a long afternoon to assemble. How could it possibly take longer than a couple of hours? It couldn’t. Impossible.

The staff at the home improvement store were not what I would describe as the sharpest knives in the drawer. They almost crushed my truck with a fully loaded forklift because of a general misunderstanding of gravity and geometry. I was able to wave them off before the springs exploded and I redirected them in actually unloading the pallet of wood into the bed of the truck. The load was really long and was trying to fall off the forklift so the operator stacked a pallet of mulch on top of the shed and tried to set both in my truck.

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FYI, these kits don’t include roofing or paint. 

I drove home and promptly began construction… on something else. Then the next day I was able to begin on the shed.

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Just as I finished the walls, our fall weather brought three inches of rain. It was a hard week of finding time to finish shingles to protect the high-quality particle board walls.

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A few more days of details and painting and the structure was finished.

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Then we started on the inside of the house. We waterproofed the floor with flex seal and added a wire grid to keep our dear wallaby away from the front door and prevent her escape; an escape that we have determined from past experience, is probably fatal.

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After a solid three weeks of effort. It was time for Bindi to come home. She had been a resident in Mamaw’s basement for entirely too long. She had forgotten who we were and gave exactly two shits about leaving the basement. Oh well.

We loaded her into a pet carrier and drove home. We spread wood chips on the floor and wrapped her crate in blankets for insulation. Winter was approaching and she hadn’t put on any extra fur. Supermom had the fear that she would freeze to death. I had less of a fear and more of a scientific curiosity about the matter. I hypothesized that she would respond to the cold and grow fur. She did so everyone is happy.

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Queen Bindi in her new castle.

We could tell that Bindi was stressed from her new environment so Supermom decided that she needed to be able to watch her remotely.

SM: I need to see what she is doing. She could be eating the floor coating or something could get in there with her.

UD: Video would be just like a baby monitor. Whatever bad things you are worried about, listening or in this case watching isn’t going to help. You just get emotionally scarred by watching the murder happen in real time.

SM: I need to see her.

UD: She is going to be fine. She is a T-rex goat deer. She doesn’t have a box of razors or hard narcotics. Very little to monitor.

SM: I. Need. To. See. Her.

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Infrared wallaby cam 3000. 

Long story short – we got a solar panel, Wi-Fi-cameras, and a battery powered *(won’t stay charged so now I am likely running a power circuit out to the wallaby shed to power a 12v, 5mA) webcam.

Also, queen princess on high Bindi requires a leisurely area for her majesty to stretch her legs outside of her dedicated 8×12 day room so, I will likely be building a small fenced in area and a doggy door in the shed for her to hop in and out as she pleases. And I know that five minutes after I complete the fence and the webcam and we settle in to watch all the excitement beside a window-that-we-could-open-and-do-the-same-thing-but-it-is-cold-so-we-don’t, a giant hawk will swoop in and carry her away.

We will both cry but for different reasons.

Just kidding. I love Bindi and the shed and the challenge of making things work for this weird pet. It makes life interesting. And I don’t think a hawk could carry her away, she is getting huge. An eagle maybe, but a hawk? No.

Somewhat related subject – The previous owners left a palm tree and it is an impressive palm tree. I did notice that we live in an area where palm trees are not native but I really like the palm tree so I had an interest in keeping it alive. They told us that it would need to be moved into the sunroom for the winter. Makes sense.

Over the next few weeks I learned that I am the only person on the planet who doesn’t fully understand the value of this palm tree. Apparently, a palm tree that reaches eight feet tall in the south is an equivalent value to one of the tablets that Moses carried off the mountain where he talked with the burning bush and it burned moral suggestions into solid stone. I learned this fact in the following way…

One afternoon I decided to move the palm tree inside. I found it was rooted through the container directly into the ground. Problem number one. No matter, the roots were small and I could probably break it loose by grabbing the top and swaying it from side to side. I grabbed the top and felt a shooting pain through my fingers down to my spine. I swore loudly, “Holy border wall Batman! What fresh hell have I summoned?”. Of course, that is a paraphrase but the Lord was referenced at least once. I looked at my now bleeding hand and realized that this particular palm tree has a double row of serrated teeth that look like the back of a dragon. I let go of the base with my other hand and the tree rocked back into place and slapped me with a giant palm frond. My next thought was, “Fuck this tree. It can die in a deep winter freeze and rot in the spring like an unharvested potato in a field.” I relayed this sentiment to Supermom who disagreed.

UD: We don’t really need it. We will have to do this every year!

SM: I like it and they worked hard to keep it alive. We cant just let it die!

UD: Watch me! Effortless!

SM: Do you know how expensive a nice palm tree is?

UD: People pay lots of all kinds of stupid things. We bought a wallaby for godsake!

SM: You don’t mean that!

UD: I’m just angry about the thorns in my hand.

SM: It is a scratch.

UD: TWO scratches!

SM: We are keeping the palm tree.

UD: In a hole in the ground after it dies.

A few days later my stepmom, GJ, is at the house.

GJ: You need to bring in the palm tree.

UD: I’m not keeping it.

GJ: Are you just going to let it die?!

UD: Pretty much.

GJ: You can’t do that. That is a really nice palm tree.

UD: Only nice palm trees deserve to live? It is not native. I will have to do this every year.

GJ: They are expensive. Your dad can help you move it inside.

UD: I’m not in good standing with that tree I think we just need to let it die.

Later that afternoon my phone rings.

Dangraddy: GJ says you need help moving a palm tree.

UD: Nope.

Dangraddy: Did you already move it?

UD: Nope. Screw that tree.

Dangraddy: That is a nice palm tree. You cant just let it die.

UD: YES I CAN. IT IS MY TREE. I DECREE IT HAS OFFENDED THE KING AND ITS SENTENCE IS SLOW FREEZING DEATH ON MY PORCH. WHAT IS IT WITH THIS PALM TREE? DOES IT OWE YOU MONEY OR CURE CANCER?

Dangraddy: Your wife wants the tree you need to save it. It is going to frost tonight. Cover it up and I’ll come help you move it tomorrow.

UD: Just look the other way and this will all be over tomorrow. We can go about our lives and forget about this magical albatross tree.

Dangraddy: Cover the tree. I’ll see you tomorrow.

UD: Fine.

I attempted to cover the tree with a bedsheet and a canvas drop cloth. It was comical but it worked. The next morning we wedged it out of the ground and moved it into our sunroom with a furniture dolly and a work ethic fueled by bitter hatred of the tree. I stepped in dog shit and cut my hand a few more times. One of the barbs went right under my thumbnail and into the layer below. Other than those little annoyances the move went smoothly. I thanked my father for his help and for forcing me into the right decision. Supermom was happy and the tree was safe for the winter.

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Perfect fit. 

Five minutes after getting the devil tree settled.

Supermom: That container is kind of ugly and falling apart. Can we change it to a bigger pot?

UD: (Left eye twitching) …No.

With the wallaby safe and the blessed palm of Jesus safe we moved on to other projects. Like the fact that we can get a really tall tree into the sunroom.

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Everyone likes the tall tree. Supermom was right again.

If anyone is a constant victim of what they feel is misplaced effort, this post is for you. You’re welcome. It is all worth it in the end and happy wife does equal happy life. I promise. More of our adventures to come.

Oh and I almost forgot. I got this page from a coloring book and I am trying to interpret what my seven year old was trying to convey. It is from a fire safety book.

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All I can deduce is that Bob’s mom has a hot ass. Supermom says I am incorrect. 

What weirdo hangs the smoke detector on the wall. It goes on the ceiling at the highest point. They would be dead before this thing went off.  And the floating tree out the window. Why are they checking the smoke alarm in a tornado? I’m so confused.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.