Life

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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….

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.”

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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.

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.

Snowmageddon 2018

The last few days have given us the gift of togetherness. We have no option because we are snowed in. On Friday a winter storm dumped an inch of sleet and four inches of snow. All of that came on the heels of an inch of rain which made preparations, like salting, impossible. Typically, a southern snow will be gone in a couple of days because we live on the boundary of the battle between the Arctic Vortex and the Gulf of Mexico. I’ve seen many days where a six inch snow in the morning is melted by a seventy degree heat wave that afternoon. Not this time.

The oldest two children went to Mamaw’s house on Thursday night. They planned on helping with the farm animals and getting an early start on the snow day. The sunshine after the snow has done very little to melt things thus far. We are going on day three and our road is a solid sheet of ice.

Day One:

My Facebook feed is full of bad driver and icy pileup compilations. This was one of my favorites.

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Everyone becomes an expert driver. So many people get out for stupid reasons and end up in the ditch. Lots of people drive for perfectly reasonable reasons and also end up in the ditch. We decided that we had no reason to be out and about. Instead, we bundled up and ventured outside.

We made snow angels.

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Not everyone is jazzed about the process.

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My snow angel. Awww.

While they enjoyed the snow I filled up two buckets with snow for snow-cream. In a tremendous show of my will power and self-restraint, I only had three bowls.

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At least the bowl is organic.

 

Day Two:

Netflix and Screen time. All. Day. Long. Lots of food and two more bowls of snow-cream. I learned to use SketchUp.

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Its a water control structure. I’m a water nerd.

Day Three:

A lot like day two. We did make it outside though. We journeyed through a field across from our house to see how messy the road was between our house and the highway. Spoiler: The road was an icy mess. Our walk was a good one. We stopped by a pond to toss ice chunks onto the surface and listen to the cool sounds that echo through the surface.

On our walk back I took a picture of a moment that caught me just right.

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She is plotting her course.

The snow and ice had built up on top of the grassy field and wasn’t actually on the ground. Lady Bug was struggling with the walk because each step would break through the ice and throw her off balance. She started to walk in the same places where I had stepped because it made her work easier. I blazed ahead of the group trying to plot our course through the field. Supermom urged me, “to slow down and ease my stride because she was trying to follow in my footsteps.” It was one of those moments when a shallow comment speaks a deeper truth.

Slow down and ease your pace because she is following in your footsteps.

Leave it to a snow day and cabin fever to teach a lesson like that. We made it back to the house and surprise, surprise… ate more snow-cream. Baths. More Netflix. We will see what tomorrow brings.

If you sometimes need Mother Nature to pump the brakes for you, this post is for you. You’re welcome. I’m looking ahead to more snow and a low of eight degrees. My HVAC unit is making a weird noise so I can bet which day it will self-destruct.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Candle Hug

Some people are unspoken leaders. Unrecognized.

They lead through actions, often from the back of the pack.

They are gentle and kind. Giving example and reference.

Their influence comes when other people decide to “act more like so-and-so”.

Seeds are sown that grow and blossom at odd times. Usually in the winter of discontent.

Love grows when and wherever it needs to. Maybe the seed is more like a flame.

I’ve read that love is like a candle’s flame. It can light a thousand other candles and the heat and flame the first candle carries will not be diminished.

Each love that burns has unlimited potential. Each flame extinguished is immeasurable loss.

No wonder that new love excites us and a loss is bitterly mourned.

When people are sad about the death of a loved one they are offered the words, “Sorry for your loss.” It feels misplaced. Don’t feel sorry for me. My friend carried the flame of love and it often warmed my heart. I’ll carry it always. Grieve for your own loss; one candle that you didn’t get to see in action.

Tend your flames. Don’t grow cold.

Hug someone long enough to realize they are warm. Enjoy it. Its why we hug. To verify love is alive and to keep it that way.

 

If you sometimes meander in your thoughts, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.