Saturday, October 17, 2009


Yva and Esmeralda

Papa Seed found her dead in the chicken coop this afternoon. We have no idea what happened, she seemed the healthiest of the three and was the biggest and the Queen of the bunch. It is so sad, she was a fine lady and we will miss her.

Papa Seed named her after Yva Las Vegass who used to perform on the streets of Seattle, much to our delight, but who now lives in New York. I sent her a message on Facebook earlier in the year to let her know that we are fans, and that we named one of our chickens in her honor. She was very sweet with her response.

When we brought the baby chicks home, our neighbor, who used to have chickens in the coop when she and her partner who used to own this home raised them (a lot of connect the dots in that little phrase), said that having chickens means having to deal with death. About six months later our two favorites and the first to start laying were killed - Josefina and Lyra. We suspect it was a fox, but we will never know. Nicky was put on the bottom of the pecking order and was getting her feathers pulled and bloody spots on her skin. We spent a long period with her in "transitional housing" (a very large cage which took over the entire "movie room") and it took another two months of failed efforts at reintroducing them before we finally had peace in the chicken run.

I knew nothing about chickens when we first got them which may be why I can watch them for hours in complete fascination. I love the girls. They are not the kind of birds you can cuddle with, our hens are fierce and have no problem jumping up to peck, but they also will follow you around the yard if they think you are going to expose some good insects in your digging around. Now it is just Nicky - Mancub named her after an ex-girlfriend - and Esmeralda. From five to two in a year and a half. We buried Yva in the backyard. I suppose there were other options, but that is what we did. She had laid one last egg for us that was with her. I'll miss seeing her hop out of the coop in the morning, and singing good night to her when I shut them in after dark.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Week That Was

Listening to a really beautiful CD, Evan Caminiti's "Psychic Mud Shrine". Very fitting as the day starts to soften, chill, and darken.

Last week was a rebuilding of sorts. I started seeing a counselor again. I had started with him at this time last year, but stopped after a couple of weeks. The American Pharmaceutical Industry is a companion of mine, I guess you could say, and we had a misunderstanding the week before that caused an unintentional estrangement. I can't do that again. It was brutal. It was not the week for it to happen either. There was a good four day period that only Dante would be brave enough to write about.

Mancub and I have started seeing our family counselor again as well, just the two of us. Our second session on Thursday was more hopeful than the first. We listen better to one another when there is that third person in the room, listening to us both. Mancub complains of not wanting to see one, or has in the past, but once there he unlayers that onion pretty quickly. Fascinating to watch, but I am now experienced enough to know that won't translate into an immediate 50's sitcom when we hit the homestead.

Mancub and I also had eye doctor appointments. I'm getting my first pair of bifocals. Right now I have contacts for distance, and reading glasses for up-close. These will be my back-up glasses, but I haven't had the joy of bifocals before. Getting them does not make me feel years younger. On the other hand, Optometry appointments bring me a great deal of pleasure. I've always loved going to see the Eye Doc, the only medical appointment I enjoy. No kidding here, I love going. It is fun, exciting, and the machines are way cool.

The entire family - let me repeat that - THE ENTIRE FAMILY - went to see Abe Lincoln in Illinois at the Intiman, thanks in part to the kindness of a friend who has connections to cheap seats. "Cheap" as in comps - freebies. Free is about the only thing that we can do as a group now, with the extra mouth in our home. In spite of the fact that the boys had some gripe with the adults right before we left the house (I think it was a scolding about grades and homework) and did not want to engage with us or do any pre-play reading or viewing of material posted in the lobby, instead opting for sitting outside of the Men's Room and entertaining each other with "drinking stories" for all to hear (makes a Dad/Uncle so proud), they both loved the play. That surprised me, for I found the first act a bit dry and confusing - but then again my attention as usual was lost as I was worrying about what they were thinking/doing. I have to let it go.

It did build, and the third act was very impressive indeed. Mancub later told us, then his friends, then our family counselor, that it was "actually really, really good - and really emotional". Best gift ever. I have to remember these things.

Thursday was Curriculum Night at Mancub's High School. This is where the parents and guardians get to go through a mini-day of their child's, showing up for each class for a 10 minute talk by the teachers and getting five minutes between classes to get to the next class. Physically, I could not be in High School again. I was winded and sweaty going up and down stairs and running down halls to get there before the bell rang. Oh, the pressure. We had already met two of his teachers - one kind of a slacker football coach teaching Government and one a very popular, most excellent Japanese teacher. The rest were kind of flat-liners. Too bad. This will not help the emphasis we are putting on school, studying, and homework. We always take the teachers side and support them, but I wouldn't last a week with a couple of them myself. The Japanese teacher however is AWESOME. He even had the parents do a little sign to take home to encourage the students to study, learn, practice, and DO.

Still no word if I will have a job in January, but I sure did have one last week. Having been out a few days, and having had some technical issues one the days when I was there, I had a lot of catching up to do, plus I had a few days I had to scoot out early to take care of some of the business above.

One day I walked down to the Market after work to get the fixin's to make dinner. It is three blocks from where I catch the bus, but I never stop there - I'm always wanting to just get home. I walked after my counseling appointment, and I was thinking of all the times I used to stop there when I was a solo kind of guy, leaving work to go live in my solo apartment or solo room in shared housing and doing my solo guy kind of stuff. Life is so very different now, and there are several decades wedged in there to make it so, but there is something at the core that is still the same, but is buried deep now and doesn't know how to resurface.

Industrial Poetry Part I

Few things are as peaceful and centering for me as quiet streets, off hours industrial areas, lonely train tracks, back alleys gone to rust and Sunday afternoons spent wandering within them.

Last Weekend

The last few weeks have been difficult. This whole parenting thing is harder than either of us ever imagined it would be, and now having two teenage bodies as the center of our world has caused some seismic reworking of what is our new normal.

It had been fragile eggshell walking, with last weekend finally shifting our mental status into just fragile, but a bit thicker than an ovum covering. Sunday we took one of the boys with us to the Northwest Tea Festival, a pretty tranquil event. We didn't stay long, but long enough to sample some good teas and learn a little more about how little we know about tea. I've never been a very good tea drinker - I'm a Coffee Dude all the way - but I'm dabbled a few times trying to increase my awareness of all the pleasures and traditions of the world. That's me - always trying to increase my awareness of all the pleasures and traditions of the world. Sounds better than "Glutton", but kind of the same thing going on. I'm not really a wine guy either. I like beer and I like rum. But, I've assigned myself some self-taught adult education courses for the next year or two or three, which includes Introduction to Tea, Wine 101, and Opera for Beginners. I'm both the student and the teacher, so I've got my work cut out for me.

Since I prefer green tea to the other varieties (and was glad to hear one of the speakers totally dismiss "herbal tea" as a tea, because that stuff makes me gag), I now know that like other real teas it is made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis (a fact that was buried in my head, but not available for recall), and that it is the oxidation, or lack of it, that makes a tea green, or black, or something else. I already knew that my favorite of the green teas is genmaicha, and due to my years of studying Japanese (alas, almost entirely forgotten) I know that "ocha" is the Japanese word for tea. I'm going to need a review study session for the basics of brewing, sipping and history.

It was all supposed to be a bonding experience with Mancub. He likes tea (although with a cup of sugar in it) and is studying Japanese. A perfect event for us to go to and have fun and learn, except he didn't want to go because he wanted to hang out with friends. The women at work swear that this is normal, that the idea of a "family outing" is laughable at best in their homes, and that the sounds coming from behind the closed bedroom door are the only way of knowing that this person is in your life. This doesn't stop me from becoming the frustrated and sad 13 year old when my brilliant ideas are ignored, forgotten, or snubbed - usually for the excitement of "hanging out". I would have loved to be my Dad. I know all of the cool things to do and learn. Alas, we don't get to create little perfect humans made up of all of our values, interests, passions, skills and experience. What we get is the opportunity to try to keep someone safe enough to last to adulthood, and sometimes even doing that seems like a tremendous thankless job.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

My Two Cents

* I still think that empty wine bottles make the best candle holders.

* Milk tasted better when it was delivered to your doorstep, and you reused the bottles. You also used to be able to visit the farm where it came from. I know it is more expensive, but I think I'm going to find a dairy that still delivers.

* TV shows were better when they had theme songs and closing songs and credits. Not the little side panel thing where the words zip by faster than anyone can possibly read, but real full screen closings that wrapped up that week's show with an image that stuck in your mind. And they began with a song that set the tone and that helped one transition from your real life to the magical one you were about to enter. Songs that you could hum or sing and they would conjure up the characters and places and fun and drama of the shows.

* There just will never be another voice like Aretha's. There will never be another voice with such power, grace, grit, pain, hope, desire, strength, depth, range, color, comfort, and soul. There are many singers with beautiful, powerful and amazing voices that can still stun, but then you back to Aretha and it is just over. It is done.

* It is good to know the names of your neighbors. It is even better to know a bit about them. And it is a better world when you can greet them, and help them, and check up on them, and borrow from them, and get their mail for them when they are on vacation.

* Joy is a Great Big Musical on a Great Big Screen. Musicals were better when they didn't try to put the songs in a real life context - High Schoolers and nightclub singers. Musicals were able to put difficult subjects such as racism, bad work conditions, poverty, and the pain and struggle of life into a tonic that could heal. Nothing is better than a Sunday spent watching a wonderful musical.

* Racism should always be tinged with horror.

* I liked it better when it was harder to get certain foods, when you had to travel to a certain place, or maybe store, or wait for a specific time of the year. Having access to everything at all times in all places is not a plus, it is a minus. It adds to the shallowness of life, allows us to skim over life, takes away the reflection on the specialness of things that gives life depth.

* Cars looked so much better in the 50's.

* I often wonder if it was better when people were quirky, eccentric, difficult, stubborn, odd and weird instead of labeled with a diagnosis. I know this can lead to what may be dangerous territory, and I'm not in a position to reverse this trend which is probably a very good thing, but I ponder this quite often.

* Brando is the greatest actor of my time. He had an essence that burned on the screen that hasn't been seen again.

I appreciate email and having a computer to research anything at my finger tips and within a moment. I appreciate so much in these times, but I'm constantly longing for what we've lost.