Confessional

Hero’s skeletons.

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

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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…

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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

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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

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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…

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


PHOTO 4

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

 

Tough Love Legacy

I was reading a book a while back and one of the exercises that it wanted you to complete was writing your own eulogy. Kind of weird. The purpose was to focus on the fact that time is limited and to motivate you towards creating a legacy. Try and imagine all the things that you hope people have to say. I’ve tried several times to complete that exercise and I haven’t had much success. I started writing things down that I hope my children will learn or that I would like to tell them at some point. It ended up something like this:


You cannot be anything you want to be.

Society wants to say you can. But that isn’t true.

You cannot be anything you want to be.

However, you can do the things that you want to do.

You are free to pursue your interests and learn about anything you want. You have more tools than any generation, ever. Don’t waste it on cat videos. (Not all of it anyway.)

You can do the things that you want to do. You can work hard at those things and get better every day. If you are successful and diligent you can find ways to keep doing the things you love.

You will become the things that you DO most often.

So, if there is something you want to be… don’t hope to be it.

Go and DO it.

If you want to be a writer. Go write. Start a blog. Write a story. Send op-ed articles to your local newspaper. Volunteer to write things that need to be written and learn your craft. Get a degree in it or don’t… but write.

If you want to be a speaker. Go speak. Join Toastmasters or a local club. Volunteer to be a spokesman. Go speak at public meetings. Make a YouTube channel and rant about the diminishing cuteness of puppies. Get a degree in public speaking or don’t… but speak.

If you want to be a farmer. Grow something. Start a greenhouse in your backyard. Buy land and livestock. Go work for a commercial farm. Get a degree in agri-business or don’t… but grow something.

Go and do. If you do long enough then you will BE.

It isn’t exactly that simple but then again it is. There are roadmaps and requirements for everything you can do. Go and find the recipe for your life.

Set goals. In six months I will do this. In three years I will do that. In ten years I want to be here. Dreams are fantastic in the moment but they fade in the morning light. We all know that if dreams aren’t written down and recited then they are forgotten. Make a list. Make a schedule. Work towards a goal. If you miss a deadline, don’t give up. Re-write the schedule. Reset the goal. Tomorrow is another day.

Get rid of the notion that people are born “good” at something. Know that people are born into this world with the ability to do two things; cry about their situation and mess their pants. EVERYTHING ELSE is learned. You’ll be ahead of the game if you forget the first two instincts somewhere along the way.

Ask questions. Lots of questions. Dumb questions. Smart questions. Ask them all and remember the answers. Look for connections. The world is a mystery but there are answers. An expert is someone who has failed in every imaginable way. Impossible is a roadblock for some people and a to-do list for others. Everything new seems impossible until someone does it. You live in a world of things that were impossible to the generation before.

Remember that people can be mean. They usually attack for one reason; fear. People fear things they don’t understand and things that threaten their beliefs. It is an animal instinct. Part of the reptile brain. That is why true debate about religion, politics, and if someone’s child is less than awesome – is not a good idea. When you feel attacked try to consider why your opponent feels the way they do and says the things they say. Most strong opinions are built around good intentions.

Don’t put up with bullies. Bullies usually feel powerless and need to pick on someone smaller to feel powerful. This is an explanation not an excuse. Don’t take their crap. If they attack you physically then by any means possible, defend yourself. A well-placed elbow can enhance diplomatic relations. All is fair in love and war. Just be sure that you had no other option. Be fast to forgive and seek friendship.

This one is touchy and I hesitate to say it but… College isn’t for everyone. I prefer you take your education as far as you can. That doesn’t necessarily mean college. If you want to work in a trade then getting a degree in Philosophy doesn’t make a lot of sense. If you want to work in manufacturing or sanitation then you might not need to rack up school loans for four years at a private college on a partial scholarship for badminton. On the other hand, a business degree can be handy if you want to own your own business one day. Just think it through and have a plan.

You are not bad at math. No one is. That is a lie that is easier to repeat than it is to cure. I challenge you to find a single employee who wouldn’t raise a ruckus over a paycheck being off. Or set three kids at a table, in front of a plate with only two cookies on it and tell me people aren’t naturally good at math. Algebra will have all three of those kids nervous because 2 cookies/3 people is less than 1 cookie per person. Life is a series of word problems. Most math struggles are a vocabulary issue.

Get involved. It doesn’t take long to realize that there is no THEY out there controlling things. Only a group of WE’s that made it into management. If you don’t like what an organization is doing, join that organization and DO things differently. Or offer an alternative. Pointing out problems is easy. Implementing solutions is the real magic.

And finally… remember that life is a competition but not against each other. Not for the things that really matter. Most of the time the competition is between humanity and mortality. We need resources and medicine and social fabric. You could be the hero who cures all disease or you might be the guy who delivers his mail. Every improvement is an improvement. Share ideas. Help each other. Get excited about any and all success. Be charitable. Be loving. Be kind. It does come back to you.

I have to tell myself this stuff every day. Part of the list of good advice that I try to collect. I’m always open to more suggestions and you should be too.

I Love You,

Dad

p.s.- Shut the door when you are in the bathroom. You are not barbarians.

Dryer Ressurection

Tonight I regained my man card.

With these two hands, and the problem solving skills of a love-child woven from the DNA of both Sheldon and McGyver, I reassembled a fully dismantled dryer. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, the myth of the handy husband is myth no longer. An appliance ninja snuck in and assassinated the faulty thermal overload switch.

Sure, I didn’t use my own tools. No big deal. Plus my wife ordered the parts from Amazon. Anyone could have done that. I resurrected a fire breathing dragon that keeps modern life in business.

You may remember that the last condition of this dryer was scattered in multiple pieces under our Christmas tree. Get back in the workshop Santa. Daddy made some room tonight.

Yes sir. I dusted off that Y chromosome and put it to work. I wont even mention the two bags of garbage that I took to the curb. Like a domestic God bestowing gifts to the adoring mortals circling around my legs, asking me for juice. I waved them away to the living room while I sat in the kitchen, arms crossed, staring at the dryer working its magic. That big majestic whirlpool son-of-a-bitch. I hope it doesn’t burst into flame.

If you ever successfully did something that made you feel remotely useful, this post is for you. If you act like a hero after cleaning the cheese off you pizza plate. I feel you brother. You’re welcome. If you are a man who did something useful then take a rest, you must be exhausted. We aren’t built for being productive like women. They read instructions and would have completed this days ago probably. We have to take our victories where we can. Be careful out there. Pace yourself. You never know when man-flu might strike.

We did good today boys. We did good.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Teethpaste

Today’s confession will be a short one.

Lady Bug was going to bed the other night and I asked her, “Have you brushed your teeth?”

She made a sour faced expression and said, “No!”.

“Why not?”

“I don’t like the new toothpaste. It is yucky.”

I silently muse to myself, I don’t think I have purchased new toothpaste recently…

“Show me which one you don’t like.”

She stomped her way to the bathroom and pulled out the top drawer where the toothpaste is usually stored. I immediately saw her problem.

Teethpaste

I didn’t even ask which one she used. I located the actual toothpaste and removed the miscellaneous creams.

Fun fact: Toothpaste was invented in Alabama. In any other state it would have been Teethpaste.

If you are laughing and not judging, this post is for you. Also, the headless Santa is a decoration in my parent’s garage. I don’t know what happened to his head. Halloween at Christmas. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Disturbia

My children do things that disturb me.  I have worked hard to have them embrace their weirdness. To bolster their self-image and give them a sense that they are free to be who they want to be. I dare say the scheme has worked. They could give two shits what anyone thinks. They laugh at things they find funny and they use the word “fart” freely in public. I’ve instructed them in the fine art of shutdown of a bully through a sharp wit. I’ve heard them tell a boy that they didn’t care what he thought and they are way weirder than he could imagine so back it off. When we get a notice from school that the kids can ignore uniform rules on a Friday, Jane will pack a Lord of the Rings style cloak into her backpack and wear it all day. I caught her wearing a fox tail into school one morning and she was too far away for me to stop her. They have personal confidence. I can probably put this ship on autopilot for a while. I might even need to shame them a little for balance.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Supermom found her old Barbie’s in boxes in the attic. We brought a couple of the boxes home and the girls have been playing with them non-stop. The only problem is how they are playing with the Barbie’s. They think old style Barbie with non-existent underwear is the funniest thing ever. I have found half-naked Barbie in terrible poses all around the house. The kids hide her and then wait for me to find her topless torso in the kitchen utensil drawer while they look on from the other room. I act surprised and they die laughing only to run off and hide another Barbie somewhere else in the house.

Last night the game escalated.

Supermom called out from the bathroom, “You have to come see this.”

I walked into the bathroom and found this on the sink.

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I assume that Barbie crossed Skipper one too many times. Maybe the right-sized Barbie got jealous of the long legs and skinny arms from vintage Barbie. Either way, the kids thought this was really funny too.

What other disturbing things have they been up to? Hmmm. Oh wait I know. They insist on sleeping together every single night. All four of them in a make-shift king bed (two twins pushed together). I laugh a little at the thought of some people who probably had to share a bed thinking about how nice it would be to have their own space while my wolf cubs insist on sleeping like sardines. That isn’t the weird part. In fact, I find their strong urge to co-sleep kind of endearing; as long as they stay out of my bed.

The weird part was two nights ago.

I heard a strange series of thumps and, being a competent parent, I went to investigate. I found Donna Threeto curl up inside a large plastic container that she had placed in her quadrant of the community king bed. I dumped her out of the box and took it away. She was angry. She insisted that she wanted to sleep in a box. Twice she snuck out of the room to get the box and put it back in her bed. I locked it away in the closet. What in the world? Who tries to sleep in a box? The other girls acted like it was the most normal thing ever. This is coming from the same kid who has pondered the tooth fairy and instead of questioning her existence decide to call our bluff by cutting her hair and placing it in a ziplock bag under her pillow. I asked her, “Why did you do this to your hair?”. She replied, “I’m getting a dollar from the hair fairy.” She then stared at me to gauge my response to the idea of a fictional character. Well played Donna.

I didn’t dare leave a dollar for hair. We would all wake up bald when she realized what a goldmine was all around her. Not my head so-much but her sisters.

Also worthy of note. Supermom has embraced the small dog and bought him a sweater. Meet GQ Jasper.

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And Jane is working on a Science Fair project that is centered around swabbing animal spit and watching the bacteria grow. We want to see which animal has the most aggressive mix. Our test subjects are Cat, Dog, Squirrel, Rabbit, Gecko, Horse, Goat, Chicken, Human, and a blank Control sample. Leave a comment to guess which animal was the worst. I’ll share the answer in my next post. The horse is shown as the cover photo to give an idea of what it looks like when animal spit is cultured in a dish.

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This should be one of my kids. I would be so proud. 

Life rolls on here at the Underdaddy house. If you enjoy quirky everyday stories, this post was for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.