Life

Patio for Bindi’s Bungalow

Remember that time that we drove to Colorado to buy a wallaby and everyone thought we were crazy?

Me too! That was a great trip. Part of it…

Remember when, seven months later, Toby died traumatically in a fit of convulsions, wrapped in a urine soaked towel that smelled like maple syrup, while I listened to five women crying over the phone because I was stuck in traffic on the way home?

Me too! Vividly.

Remember when we (Supermom) didn’t remember what a poor idea it is to own something with half a brain and very little will to live so we drove to St. Louis and got another wallaby?

Me too! What is money made for if not for giving to strangers at an interstate truckstop? I blame the mothering gene for this memory lapse and glass-half-full look on life.

Remember that time that we built Princess Bindi her own she-shed palace and installed a web cam so we could be tuned in to any possible murder or choke-to-death scenario?

Yep, still remembering that on this end too. Sidenote: The word she-shed irks me. It is a terrible mishmash of letters that hurts my brain. Like calling a person who is insane, cray-cray. Which also sounds like a three year old talking about coloring utensils. Where were we? Weird pet things…

What about that time we built a door for her to go outside her domicile and get some exercise and eat grass and we hoped that she would be smart enough to be appreciative?

That’s because this one just happened and I haven’t told you about it yet.

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The door becomes the ramp. How creative!

We dug posts, trenched in a fence, created a safe and inviting environment, and knew without a doubt that giving her some room to hop about was the key to convincing Bindi to not be such a moody bitch-deer. We worked so hard. Blisters. Soreness. Wire cuts. I fought three bees in hand-to-hand combat and risked my life.

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A happy Supermom makes it all worth it. Look at that craftsmanship on that gate!

How did Ms. Bindi react to all this?

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She is thinking about the best way to freak out at nothing at all. 

Like someone was chasing her with a butchers knife. That’s how. She lost her mind. She refuses to go outside during the day and generally emerges for only a few minutes at dusk.

So remember kids… when your college fund leaves you a few dollars short of that “nice” apartment or the upgraded meal plan, you can thank Bindi and, by extension, your mother. Just kidding, I’m not paying for college. Get oppressive loans like the rest of us.

Bindi is almost as bad a pet as Jasper. Just kidding, Jasper is terrible. He is sweet sometimes but I have never owned a dog so frustrating. Neither will ever top the sugar gliders for unbearableness. Those guys were the worst. Bindi has gotten better over the last few days and seems adjusted to her expanded freedom. She is not much of a people person but then again she isn’t much of a person.

However, we have some newer pets who are much better people. More on that later…

If you toil away and find yourself unappreciated by the very thing that you are seeking to please, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

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My documentation of life has been lax lately. I haven’t felt the writing bug or even the ability to remember much.

We’ve had weekend trips and baby goats and all kinds of excitement. Donna Threeto got glasses (see below). We had a flood. Then another flood. I got to see Washington DC. I’ll share some good flood photos in another post. Maybe. Sometime.

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Yay! Baby goats!

Anyway. Work life has escalated. In a good way but a busy way as well. I have been traveling a little more and anytime I am out of town life seems to make trouble for me back home.

This week, trouble was in the form of a broken thumb. Who else but Prima, our graceful low calcium princess. She was struck with a dodgeball and immediately had swelling and bruising in her thumb. I assumed that she had stubbed it. Her teacher texted me a picture and I suggested the dad approach of rubbing a little dirt on it and proceeding with life. After all, who the hell breaks a bone in dodgeball? Maybe an ankle but to snap a thumb at the growth plate?

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Made you look. 

Supermom sent me the picture after a fun trip to the doctor’s office at 7:00 at night. She took all four children because all of our babysitting options were out of town. In fact, I was at another hospital in another town visiting one of the grandparents. I got a series of texts that let me know the bone was broken and that she is going to a specialist the next day.

The next day I got a text that I should cancel my schedule the next day because the doctor was going to place her under anesthesia and re-break the thumb to set it correctly. Fun. And they wanted her to check in at the hospital at 6:00 am. More fun.

We did have a fun pre-op experience though.

It is important to remember that Prima is our worry-wart child. She once cried for an hour because poison berries existed and she was afraid that one day she may not be able to stop her hand from making her mouth eat them. True story. She also decided she was afraid of bugs and would barely leave the living room for a week or so. She has done a lot of self-therapy and is much improved but still has a panic from time to time.

So… our pensive princess is sitting in the prep-room and the nurse hands her a gown. She is given the instructions to remove all of her clothes and put on the gown.

Prima asks, “Can I leave my panties on?”

The nurse responds flatly, “The doctor doesn’t like to leave anything that can catch on fire…”

Her eyes widen to the size of dinner plates. I can only imagine the images that she was putting together in her head. Supermom saw the problem immediately and assured her that she was not at risk of burning to death while getting her thumb fixed. Prima was allowed to wear her undergarment without further question.

She was nervous until the IV of Versed convinced her that nothing really matters and life is a warm pool of happy.

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Procedure went good. Recovery was slow. I think the medicine was rough on her. She passed out after trying to get up too quickly. Eventually she got to head home after a little Sprite and some vomiting.

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In about five weeks everything should be good to go. Just in time for swimming and summer.

If you have been injured in a game of dodgeball 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.

Ripples In the Pond

I have a lot of wonderful Christmas memories from my childhood. One of those memories surfaced recently. That Christmas Eve I was told that I should be on the lookout because Santa was delivering a big gift overnight and it would be on the front porch in the morning. Imagine that feeling. A kid in the age of doubt about the whole Santa process was just told the time and location of the Santa Claus delivery. I took this information as a tremendous opportunity to discover some of the mystery of life. From my cot by the window I could see most of the front porch. A yellow streetlight cast shadows across the front lawn while specs of frost glinted on the grass. I watched constantly for throughout the night, hoping to catch a glimpse of the gift or the man delivering it. I was primed to see a sleigh, some elves, a huge present… something.

Night came and went. At some point my eyes were too heavy and I fell asleep. I woke up while dawn was breaking and peeked over the window sill to survey the porch one last time before slogging to the living room to see if Santa had left anything at all. He had showered us with the usual living room decoration but the large mystery gift I was looking for was not around. “Did you look on the porch?”, my mother asked. “I didn’t see anything from my room.”

“Look again.”

I walked to the front door and opened it wide. Beside the pillar of the porch was a large box leaned against the column. It was just the perfect size and placement to be undetectable from my bedroom window. I dragged the box in the house and opened it to find a large telescope. Later that night we used the telescope to look at the Moon and Venus and some random stars. We could see things that our eyes weren’t made to see and it was awesome. Years later, in college physics, optics and focal length was relevant because I was terrible at finding things in the telescope and I figured out why.

Last week I was holding a telescope in Kohls when the memory came back to me. I had since learned that Santa was actually Mama C, my godmother. She loved computers and technology and the wonders of space.

She was the first person to introduce me to the internet. She had a series of numbers and decimals written on a piece of paper and when we typed them into the computer a NASA message board would load up line by line. She was also my teacher in high school for Computer Programming. She started as a math teacher and I have to assume was the first to volunteer to tackle a new subject concerning technology. We learned FORTRAN and C+. It was arduous to understand how computers work and the step-by-step logic behind it but I can’t count the times that it was helpful. The logic is beautiful and learning to think things through each and every step is good for an engineer.

I woke up a few days ago to the news that Mama C had passed away suddenly the night before. In seven short hours, she went from a normal day of running errands to gone from the world. She was resolute in her faith and her family was informed of her medical wishes so when the situation went from bad to worse, she was able to left on her own terms; on the eve of her late husband’s birthday she went to meet him.

She lived her life in the same way. She always had great love and purpose. Compassion beyond measure. She had no time for foolishness though. I remember one of the first days in computer class when a girl whispered to me that she heard Mrs. Davis was stern and that I should behave because she didn’t mess around. I didn’t tell her that I knew her as Mama C and that I knew better already.

I remember her and Daddy Ron smuggling Blue Bell ice cream from Texas in an RV. I knew whenever they went to visit Aunt Mia that we would have an ice cream party when they returned. A bowl of Blue Bell Vanilla Bean and a little whole milk chopped into a slush is still one of my favorite treats.

There are many other memories and people who hold those memories close. Her grandson wrote a heartfelt tribute that I’ve included it below:

For the 29 years you devoted to making me who I am, I owe you my life. 

Math is described as the abstract science of numbers, quantity, and space. It is often referred to as the universal language as it can be shared by all people regardless of race, culture, religion, or gender. There is something inherently beautiful about the ability to bridge divides and calculate the unknown in the ways that mathematics does. The irony here being that, though you can always provide a formula to find the answers you seek, you cannot quantify the impact on the lives that Mama C has touched.

She believed in leading by example, no matter how much dedication and sacrifice the situation required. She never turned away those in need, her contagious smile always worn for all to see. She would choose to put herself in the middle of narratives that others would scoff at, or simply not be brave enough to take on, all while making it clear she was doing all things in Christ. The beautiful home that would make Southern Living jealous could have just as easily become a Salvation Army Outpost or a Natural Disaster Recovery shelter on any given day. There always seemed to be room still left in the Inn, no matter the circumstances.

Mama C taught me to believe in my dreams, no matter how big or small. I remember the heartbreak I felt when I told her I no longer wanted to be a police officer because they had to endure being pepper sprayed during their training process. What was a 6 year old boy to do now that his dreams of being a sworn protector were now dashed? “Well, we’ll just have to find you something else then, won’t we?” she said. The next day, I set my sights on becoming the best race car driver in the world! Still waiting on how that one pans out.

Her and Daddy Ron also showed me what limitless, unconditional love was. Through the years, the bond between the two grew stronger, the flame evermore engulfing the two pillars that set the foundation of what I knew true love should be. The stories and life lessons they were able to share shaped the way [my wife]and I approached our marriage. Apparently, anytime you look at your best friend and life long partner and exclaim “You’re boring”, the next logical step is to do something spontaneous – like get your pilot’s license or go road racing at Daytona. This is known as problem solving. 

Without her, I wouldn’t know what it’s like to play guitar at a 2nd grade level, understand that the Power Rangers made taekwondo look super easy, or be able to use the ultimate trump card a la “Mama C said so.”

Without her, I wouldn’t know what it was like to be chosen by God himself to do great things beyond what the world told me was possible. I wouldn’t be able to have the courage to face new challenges down a career path I never knew I loved. We wouldn’t be making the impact we are in a culture that is hurting by promoting constant growth and change for the better. We wouldn’t be able to have the faith that God has a bigger plan in place and to trust the doors that He has opened and the ones He has not.

I am the product of the endless love and faith Mama C had for those around her. I have her fingerprints all over me as she helped shape me into the man you see before you today. I can only hope to continue her legacy with the same fiery passion and wisdom that she so effortlessly displayed. 

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22 – 23

If you had a Mama C in your life, this post is for you.

-Underdaddy

Merry Purgemas

Tis the season. So they say.

We joined most of the western world yesterday at a retail-outlet-near-you and completed our holiday shopping. Everyone had the same idea. It might have been just as busy as Black Friday at Hobby Lobby. Best Buy was a little better. Everywhere was crowded.

I had a better attitude while shopping this year and it freed me up to make some observations.

  • Everyone I interacted with in-person was nice and in a good spirited holiday mood. Some were tired from shopping and navigating crowds but nearly all showed some genuine goodwill towards men. One lady gave me a $20 coupon that she wasn’t able to use. A cashier suggested I make two separate purchases because the rewards system would save me $15. There was overwhelming care and concern.
  • Every car I met on the parking lot battle ground was a chunk of fiery metal cast from the forge of hell and the demonic drivers were all consumed with moving forward towards an unspoken destination and could give two shits about manners, traffic signage, or running over an elderly grandmother crossing the street. Civilization was coming apart at the scenes. I found myself happy that cars aren’t equipped with guided missiles because I would have blown at least three cars turning left (across five fucking lanes of traffic) into a flaming heap of aluminum and cheap plastic. I would have rummaged through the wreckage and taken any unburned gifts as my trophy spoils of war. There was overwhelming angst and rage.

Once we emerged from the madness and were on the ride home I thought about the whole experience. Is it possible that rage is an important ingredient in the Christmas spirit?

Is the holiday shopping experience just a version of the Purge? Do we empty the hate from our hearts onto random strangers so that we have more room for the good? Is this a version of the Orwellian Two Minutes Hate?

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Hear me out. Is there a pattern to holidays? Do you have to have good with the bad?

Let’s try some out.

Easter. It kicks off with Palm Sunday. There is a parade and kids get to carry palm leaves in memorial of the welcome ceremony for Jesus. The next Friday we get to remember the Angel of Death flying around Egypt and honoring an agreement that if a family will kill a sheep and rub its blood all over the front door then God will not murder their children. Seems more than fair to me, I love my children and I am lukewarm when it comes to sheep. There is also a brutal torture/murder where Jesus finds out he was setup by the trifecta of Jews, Judas, and (plot twist) his OWN FATHER. I guess the Romans had some blame as well. He handled it like a champ though. There was anger, sadness, violence, and the sweet release of death. Life starts to return to normal. Then BAM, Sunday it’s all rainbows and unicorns again because, just like a trick birthday candle, Jesus bounced back to life, busted out of his granite grave and encouraged a large rabbit to deliver candy eggs. DEATH WHERE IS THY STING? Jesus FTW! (Thats For-The-Win for you older people who are not hip to the text slang. If you read it too fast it would look like WTF and that would be an inappropriate sentence to associate with the resurrection.)

But you see what I mean about the holidays. The up and down mix.

What about Lent? There is a celebration period that climaxes with Mardi Gras which is notorious for splurge and excess and showing breasts for plastic beads. Drink all you want. Eat all you want. Steal a kidney or two on Bourbon Street. Live it up! Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and a week of fasting. After that, food returns and everyone is happy and ready to repeat it all next year. Except the guy who lost his kidney. He probably had enough of the whole thing. I’m out of my depths with this Catholic holiday stuff. Don’t bother correcting me on this one. I never listen.

Christmas fits this same mold. We start with Black Friday; a shotgun-start to the financial footrace to outspend each other to show our deep love through material things. There is the gluttonish excess of Thanksgiving and the pleasurable swiping of the credit cards to get discounted deals. The continuous holiday parties and office lunch. The parades of cars looking at lights. Sitting on an old man’s lap and asking him for free things. Holiday TV specials where underprivileged people are given thoughtful things by over-privileged people and we all smile on the inside because justice has been served. Life has balance. With all this warmth filling us up from the inside it is no wonder that our normal amount of ba-humbug is condensed and squeezed to one end until it erupts over the jackass who stole our parking space.

I propose that we no longer fight this process. Feel free to scream and swear. Make rude hand gestures. Throw some serious Facebook shade. Get in a fist fight in the checkout line. This is America, we do what we want. No guilt. No apologies.

In fact, I think the shift towards a real and raw America has already started. I offer the following proofs…

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Gold plated metal turkey decoration.

If anyone reading this has one of these bad boys just say “guilty” in the comments. I want to know who Im dealing with.

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No PC language here. Just some genuine Piss-Remover.

Is urine a big enough problem to get a dedicated line of stain remover? Can we blame this on free range parenting? I feel like I am missing some context here.

If you have enjoyed holiday shopping, this post is for you. I’m exhausted. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.