Monday, May 21, 2012

Beautiful Weekend

What a beautiful, busy weekend for me. It started Friday night, with an Indians game with my family and my cousin, whom I hadn't seen in many years. My daughter was shy, since Bill was a stranger to her. My son was pretty typical, for him. He became a handful once the game was in the latter innings and finally broke down by game's end. We were able to catch most of the fireworks from just outside the field, between the Jake and the Gund (now Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena). His bawling turned to leaps of joy when he saw my car. He can be such a silly boy.

Saturday began with French toast for my wife - her favorite. It had been awhile since I had made French toast, so I made a bit of a hash of it. I allowed the egg to soak too much into the bread. My second attempt on Sunday morning was much better.

As usual, I made a to-do list for myself over my morning coffee and paper. Mow the lawn, wash the cars, take the family on a walk, etc. If I don't do this, I piss away the weekend in front of my computer then wonder what I did come Monday morning. We did the walk Saturday afternoon. From the spillway to the boathouse on Hinkley Lake, and back. It was enough to get the legs stretched and the blood pumping. Hope, I fear, had the hardest time. We will have to do more of this if we are to do any significant sight seeing at Yellowstone and Grand Teton in comfort.

I washed and waxed both cars. They are both showing their age with dings, scratches, and rust. But at least they are clean. The lawn looks great, which was my contribution this weekend. My wife's were a pair of delicious dinners - crusted pork chops on Saturday and an antipasto salad for Sunday's supper. Granted, "antipasto" means "before the meal," but for us it made a nice meal in itself. It featured basil grown on our back porch and went well with a small glass of sangria.

On Sunday, I wiped the dust from my bicycle. It hung on the wall, a garage decoration, for the past two years. The temptation proved to be too much for me. I took her down, wiped her up, and rode my bike around the neighborhood. It worked fine. Surprisingly, so did I.

I needed weed killer. My wife needed more Lysol wipes. I decided to take my bike to the store a few miles away. After all, it's almost entirely downhill. Easy. I made sure I was well-hydrated and brought water with me. Nothing to note on the trip down, other than the lack of a bike rack in front of the Giant Eagle (there was one before they remodeled), so I locked up at the racks in the center between the grocery store and the Home Depot (which was my destination, anyway). I ended up buying a gallon of weedkiller, so my folding panniers came in handy. I was more than halfway back home, facing a hill that I didn't remember, when I received a call from my wife. She had bought the wrong thing to go in her antipasto, so could I be a doll and go to the grocery store for her? She needed mozzarella pearls.

Meanwhile, behind me, a skunk almost made it across the road.

I don't know why the skunk was out during the day. I don't know why it decided to cross Center Road. I do know that it was run over at the curb on my side of the road. Fur, guts, blood and stink.

On my way back to the grocery store I got to experience the sight and smell of a freshly-killed skunk. I found it notable how quickly flies were drawn to it. Shit has nothing on a freshly-killed skunk for attracting flies. Worse, I got to renew this experience on my way back home.

So today I am sore. Mostly muscle aches in my legs, but nothing feels unaffected. But it also feels good, if that makes any sense. Good enough for me to do again, if only for pleasure.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Being a Man

So I was reading on the Art of Manliness about men who still felt like children. As much as I am a "fun dad," I don't relate to this problem. I guess I've felt like a man since my early teens.

It's not as if I didn't understand that I would be more mature and knowledgeable tomorrow than I am today. On the contrary - I was very aware of my growth as a man. I still am. I just view that natural, positive change as, well, something that you should expect to happen. It doesn't make you something less than a man today. There is no magical threshold you cross, despite our attempts to ritualize one into being.

The way I look at it, I am a man today. I was a man yesterday. I will be a man tomorrow.

Perhaps what those man-children are feeling is the desire to play. Perhaps they believe that, when they finally feel like men, the desire to play won't be felt. If so, they're being silly. Maybe they view their hobbies and pastimes as something less-than-manly. They may simply not grasp what a man is.

There are plenty of articles that purport to tell you what a real man is. Each of them lists what the author values, and thus present many points on which to differ and discuss. I'll not add more noise to that channel aside from this: being a man is possessing and developing those traits that one thinks a man should exhibit.

If that leaves you flat, then contrast manliness with childishness. A child is self-centered and dependent. The opposite would be empathetic and a provider. Such a definition applies to being a woman, as well, without resorting to stereotypical gender roles that may or may not apply to anyone in particular.

So, did I care about my fellow human beings and provide the world something of value yesterday? Today? Tomorrow? That is definition enough.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bad Dad on Mothers' Day

I have a running joke with my wife and officemate. I am the ultimate Bad Husband when it comes to gift giving. I will give my wife something ridiculously practical on occasions that require sentiment, such as birthdays and, well, Mothers' Day.

My wife happens to love practical gifts, and it's not that I don't have a sense of romance. Like I said, it's a running joke. This year I bought my wife a set of cookie sheets for Mothers' Day. Goes with the spatulas I gave her for her birthday.

Granted, they're somewhat pricey Caphlon non-stick baking trays in three different styles, but they're cookie sheets. No roses. No candy. A "card" that was a picture I downloaded, with a couple sentences printed on the opposite side. I played it to the hilt.

My wife, who truly loves me, plays along.

Our daughter did make a lobster dinner for us, with baked potatoes, steamed peas, garlic bread, strawberry margaritas and a lovely dessert of raspberries and lime yogurt in parfait cups. I helped (a bit). The only mishap was that I dropped Louie Number Three (all lobsters in our house get named Louie) when he made for the rocks by flipping his tail vigorously.

Since it was Mothers' Day, I took care of cracking open the lobsters for my children. Steve always needs help and Sarah hasn't quite figured out the techniques to disassembling a lobster. She will, though.

Despite it all, my wife insists that she had a lovely Mothers' Day. That's all that counts.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cabinet and Shelf Done


Or nearly so. Now I'm going to find myself anxious to move this project forward in some other way. Oh, I'm still making a thin shelf box and finishing the shelf that goes in the vanity, but those are trifles. Just like the cabinet pulls, which I will mount last, or the cabinet floor holes for the water pipes. That can come later.

Leave it to my wife to keep me humbled. She looked at that cherry shelf box, then looked at a nearby $25 Walmart bookshelf - particle board covered with a wood pattern laminate. To her, they looked the same.

Yes. I imagine they do. The desk I am sitting at is covered particle board held together with quarter-turn fittings. The laminate has worn off the front edge and is permanently loose. The top is cracked and bowed along the edges. Perhaps one day I will make a desk for myself.

This has been an interesting "winter" project. That I am overly self-reliant has often been pointed out as a weakness of mine. In that light, I find it fascinating that I react to my want of cherry woodwork in my master bathroom by learning woodworking and making the items myself. My reaction to wanting a tiled bathroom floor is to take a Polaris class in tiling.

I have a hundred dollars worth of floor tile sitting in my front room, waiting for me to tear up my bathroom and install it.

Is this me, or is this me rebelling against a label by living it in spades?

My midlife crisis continues unabated. I showed my daughter a video of a shuttle launch and explained that I saw one a couple years ago. She told me that she would like to see one, too. She was not happy when I explained that we had retired the shuttle and had nothing to replace it. I had gone back to NASA to make an impact - to put some poor sot's butt back on the moon or sling a hunk of iron to Jupiter.

Perhaps Jimmy Buffet put it best in A Pirate Looks at Forty.

Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late
The cannons don't thunder, there's nothin' to plunder
I'm an over-forty victim of fate
Arriving too late, arriving too late

Maybe I'm not two hundred years too late, but fifty. Arriving too late, indeed.