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PHOTO (permalink) 06.30.2011
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.
JUNE 2011

KIDS (permalink) 06.29.2011
a rare case where hot-sweaty would have worked too
bella keeps a dream journal.

most mornings you'll find her in bed, freshly woken, leaning on her pillow and furiously scribbling in a spiral bound notebook. if you walk in, she'll sharply hold her hand up so you don't talk to her. once you nod your understanding, the hand darts back to the page and continues its mad dash.

the other morning while i was showering, bella came into to go pee. she started telling me about her dream.

i had this babysitter. and she was hot. and then a second babysitter came and she was also hot.

are you saying hot like hot-pretty or hot-sweaty?


ok. that's what i thought.

well, then they got into a catfight over who was supposed to babysit me. and, oh, they were wearing swimsuits.

i don't want to say this dream was wasted on bella, but seriously, in a just universe, the ten year old girl doesn't get this dream, her father does.

WIFE (permalink) 06.28.2011
that's my girl.
when a woman judgmentally asked what marty was growing in her under-developed garden, marty replied, "children".

KIDS (permalink) 06.27.2011
permission to leave my post sir!
the kids had negotiated with marty the right to sleep through the night in the forts they made in the living room. once the unorthodox arrangement was penned, the kids got extra ambitious in their plans so that by the time i got home from work the entire living room was blanketed with sheets and stacked chairs and pillow doorways. when the bedtime hour arrived marty reminded them that if they screwed around and didn't go to sleep they'd have to go up to their regular beds. the brood excitedly acknowledged the terms and then scrambled towards the mayhem each dropping to the ground and crawling in various crevices and tunnels towards each of their individualized sleeping nooks.

after they disappeared from view and seemed to arrive at their personal hovels (as the giggling and shuffling subsided), i pulled a chair (the last unused one on the main floor) into the foyer and setup with my book to ensure they stuck to their end of the bargain. after about twenty minutes i had to get something in the basement. shortly after leaving my reading post, i heard someone crawling around. by the time i got back upstairs marty had caught anthony out of his makeshift bed. when she asked why he was up he said, "dad wasn't guarding us anymore so i had to run to the bathroom all on my own." he ended this declaration with an exasperated drop of his arms as if we would be equally astonished at this treatment.

i don't know if i should file this under "delusions of grandeur" or a "misinterpretation of the world around him". could possibly go either way, maybe even both ways.

FRIENDS (permalink) 06.24.2011
the downside of nicknames is you don't get to pick your own.
yesterday while remembering erik, i recalled another memory. it dealt with his nickname, skip. all of the guys in the band had nicknames. there was scarecrow and two-beer, and bee-keeper and eventually nick the new guy among others. it certainly seemed to be a simple and expected part of the terrain which they all accepted, all but erik. he was the one guy who seemed to dislike his nickname. after observing this distaste, one day when the group was sitting around, i asked about his reluctant moniker. erik's countenance winced at the question but all the other guys chuckled and looked at one another as if deciding who would be the lucky one to get to share the story. miguel, the guitarist, got tapped. he explained that erik was always a very good and conscientious student and son. one day his high school friends had talked him into skipping soccer practice to go screw around with them. erik was against the choice but his friends chided him into doing it through the usual adolescent tactics. so erik relented and didn't go to his practice and hung out, reluctantly, with the guys instead, where they did something completely inconsequential and unmemorable. as it turned out, on this day, the first day ever erik skipped his soccer practice and was not where he was supposed to be, his father, also for the first time ever, left work early to come see his son's soccer practice. ever since that day, erik was, to his obvious chagrin, forever known as skip.

FRIENDS, MUSIC (permalink) 06.23.2011
always my answer to what kind of music do you like.
in the early 90's a former high-school classmate of marty's invited marty and i to a concert. the friend's name was ligaya and her brother's band was performing in a local venue. as for me, i never met this ligaya NOR did i know anything about this band AND i had recently sworn off loud and smoky bar scenes so was highly unenthused about event. marty wanted to see her friend but didn't want to go alone so asked, kindly, if i would take one for the team and go with her. i relented.

upon seeing us arrive, ligaya waved us to some seats she had near the stage of an intimate local venue (the duck room of blueberry hill). ligaya proved to be a charismatic and engaging young woman. she and i quickly discovered a shared fondness for latin american literature and began exchanging thoughts on books and authors. while ligaya and i lost ourselves in our impromptu book chat, marty caught up with other old friends also at the table. so compelling was the ligaya time, (coupled with the fact i was facing away from the stage) i lost track of time and my surroundings for while ligaya and i were deep into borges, the band had taken their places on the stage, donned their equipment and were primed to play. so it was without warning that the sentence i was in the middle of was interrupted by the distinct clap of drumsticks as the drummer called out one-two-three-four in unison with the clicks. hearing this call, i turned towards the stage. i found i was sitting less than three feet in front of the horn section of a six-piece band. before i could blink twice to adjust my eyes to the stage lights, the horns let me have it. if my hair was the kind of hair that moved, it would have moved. before the first song was over, i had become the most ardent fan this group would ever know.

their name was the secret cajun band and they were a lively ska band comprised of young men that were every bit as lively and interesting as the songs they wrote and performed. their act was indescribable. it was a constant sea of unpredictable motion and antics. you'd constantly marvel at their ability to play an instrument while skipping merrily across the stage or balancing one-footed on a speaker or running, vigorously, in place. halfway through the show they were soaked through with sweat but the fans were even moreso as they were also driven to motion and excitement through the raw energy that emanated from the stage.

after that first night where those horns transformed me, i never missed a local show. their cassette (it was in the early nineties, mind you) was the only tape my car stereo played for more than two years. i, and at times marty, became a mainstay at a scb concerts. i'd help them carry equipment in or out, i'd watch the merchandise table, i even once was called up on stage to help sing big house with skip and skank with miguel. through my constant and doting presence, i came to know the band members. as for them, they grew up together and had a camaraderie and comfort i'd think all young men, lacking such pals, covet and i was surely no exception. they were such a colorful and quirky lot my relationship with each proved unique. some were easy and light, a few strained and awkward, a couple grew mature in time.

one of the relationships, the one i want to speak of today, was with the lead singer, erik, referred to as Skip by his bandmates. erik was a charming and handsome young man with lots of quiet charisma. add to this a soulful ability on the sax and top it all off with a distinct and strong singing voice. to an awkward musically incompetent fanboy like me, erik was just about everything a young introvert could hope for. in time, erik, marty and i became friendly. after shows we would sometimes sit for twenty minutes and after praising the night's production would talk about any and all topics. on a few occasions we went out to eat after a show. these would inevitably be at some all night diner where we'd continue our talks over soggy burgers and even soggier pancakes. on these more involved outings a common conversation point was relationships. in hindsight i got the sense that erik admired the straight and simple relationship marty and i shared just like i admired the exotic and famous lifestyle i imagined he lived. i still remember those late night conversations in those overly bright diners (extra-accented given where we just came from) like they happened five days ago and not fifteen years back.

the reason i bring this up is that erik rogers died yesterday. those of you who knew him, or his family, may have been keeping up on this, but a few weeks ago erik fell off a ladder while working in his backyard and was gravely injured in the fall. at the time of this accident, he was long past the music scene and was a working man and the father of two young girls. while it's obviously hard to see any young person unexpectedly pass, especially a father of young children, it is extra hard to loose those that were so bright with life and promise. completely heartbreaking.

i leave you with some of my favorite erik-sung cajun band songs from their big house album:

KIDS (permalink) 06.22.2011
anthony's willingness to play doesn't bode well for his college years.
this weekend while lazing around the living room, alex asked anthony, who was wearing only underwear, if he wanted a wedgie. you'd think that might be the funny part of the story but it definitely got better after anthony said, "yeah, sure." marty and i took a break from our game of junior monopoly to watch alex position himself behind his brother, get a good hold on the elastic of his batman undies and near lift his brother off the ground. by my estimation it took an enormously long time for anthony to start rapidly saying, "ouch! ouch! ouch!" than i would have ever guessed it would.

and as if that wasn't enough, which i assure you it was, having anthony reach behind him and curiously feel the rope of fabric that was wedged between his paper-white butt cheeks with a wondrous look in his eyes as if her were petting a stingray at the zoo or touching a freshly born baby may have been the most unexpected bit of it all.

SOCIETY (permalink) 06.21.2011
excuse me, but the seat of your chair doubles as our chopping board
i think a large part of the reason marty and i are as thin as we are is because our kitchen is so poorly designed. i say this after recently hearing a woman go on about the inefficiencies of her kitchen layout and her lavish plans for her new lavish kitchen. by her description things in her original kitchen seemed so barbaric i find it a wonder any food more complicated than ramen ever culminated out of such a primitive setup.

and if you're wondering how ill-conceived our kitchen is, given my record of only living in one-bathroom homes, i'm reasonably sure i've never lived in a home that could claim a smart and properly considered food-making room, by one woman's estimation at least.

FASHION (permalink) 06.20.2011
i call 'em my biking cheeks.
a recent conversation between bella and marty.

mom, has dad been wearing the same pair of shorts for awhile now?

well, yes, but he has a couple pair of them.

BELLA (reflectively)
oh. ok. that's good ... that he has more than one pair. i guess.

the worst thing marty may have ever said to me was that not only did my capris look nicer than my cut-off jean-shorts, but that they actually looked good on me.

my two best friends got to see me in my new manpris recently. one said they looked less girly than he expected and the other said it made my butt look fat. my fashion style has long aimed for a less-girly sort of look so it's nice to see me in the vicinity there and regarding my butt looking big, my butt is big.

PHOTO, FAMILY (permalink) 06.09.2011
kooky people in a kooky tree

click to enlarge

KIDS, QUOTES (permalink) 06.08.2011
yeah, 'we' don't because 'you' don't have one mom
"anthony, we don't close our penises inside library books."

the most interesting part of the story is not that marty had to tell our four year old to stop closing his penis inside a library book but that she had to go on to explain why.

KIDS, QUOTES (permalink) 06.07.2011
just imagine the list she could surely spew forth now.
back when bella was about four or five years old, she and alex would occasionally stay the night at my folks house. on such weekends we would meet my parents at a mcdonalds that was halfway between our homes. there was a period where bella was saying the word "god" a lot, as in "oh my god!" if surprised or wowed. this was definitely gotten from her mother as i was trained young to never play around with the lord's name, even in any of its derivative forms like gosh or lordy or jeezo and the like (from my own mother). oftentimes on the drive to meet my folks i would remind bella that grandma didn't like that word and she should say something else when visiting. my dad recently told me, through great laughter, that at one of those pickups bella excitedly ran to the table my parents were sitting at and slid into next to them. before saying hello or anything, she animatedly said:

i know the thing i'm not supposed to say at grandma's house.

oh yeah. and what's that?

'oh my god!' because grandma doesn't like it.

this was one of my folks favorite grandkid stories to tell to any who would listen.

KIDS (permalink) 06.06.2011
i'd like to say he doesn't normally look this way, but that would be a lie.
there is a detail i forgot to mention about aleo's bike crash episode last month. after i carried the bloody boy into the fire house and the paramedics looked over his mouth and head, one of them wanted to cut his pants off. when i asked him why he said that it looked like his legs got banged up given how torn up his pants were. i had the enviable task of explaining to the man that that was what his pants looked like before the accident.

there are two reasons for this predicament. first, alex has only ever worn hand-me-downs from his cousins and second alex ardently refuses to change clothes for days at a time. the result of this innocent combination is most days, aleo looks like a full-on vagabond (and i'm not even including his mop of hair which he's recently decided he doesn't want cut anymore). so as if his oral trauma wasn't grueling enough, i also got my first taste of feeling embarrassed by one of my children's appearance. and i know you're thinking i should have crossed this bridge long ago, but my children have historically been more embarrassing sounding than looking. like for instance, the time bella said to her preschool classmate's overweight nanny, after studiously looking her up and down, "boy, you sure are fat all over!" marty and the nanny just exchanged looks before smiling uncomfortably and walking their different ways.

QUOTES, BOOKS (permalink) 06.03.2011
a crazily quote-worthy book
Next I followed a practice learned from the best officer I ever had. He was Charley Edwards, a major of middling age, perhaps a little too far along to be a combat officer but he was a good one. He had a large family, a pretty wife and four children in steps, and his heart could ache with love and longing for them if he allowed it to. He told me about it. In his deadly business he could not afford to have his attention warped and split by love, and so he had arrived at a method. In the morning, that is if her were not jerked from sleep by an alert, he opened his mind and heart to his family. He went over each one in turn, how they looked, what they were like; he caressed them and reassured them of his love. It was as though he picked precious things one by one from a cabinet, looked at each, felt it kissed it, and put it back; and last he gave them a small good-by and shut the door of the cabinet. The whole thing took half an hour if he could get it and then he didn't have to think of them again all day. He could devote his full capacity, untwisted by conflicting thought and feeling, to the job he had to do—the killing of men. He was the best officer I ever knew. I asked his permission to use his method and he gave it to me. When he was killed, all I could think was that his had been and good and effective life. He had taken his pleasure, savored his love, and paid his debts, and how many people even approached that?

another excerpt from John Stienbeck's The Winter of Our Discontent

KIDS (permalink) 06.02.2011
summertime blues
the school bella has gone to since kindergarten just closed after its 98th year of operation. it is the oldest and possibly most storied school in the district. a number of things led to the changes our public school district is going through but things have sadly gotten to the point that the administration is stuck making decisions that aren't always done because it's the best or right option, but because it is the only option left. i was at the school when it let out for the last time. i was there picking bella up for her special end-of-year day out. there was lots of tears and hugs on the playground in what would stand as this building's last education-related act (it was very hard all year to not play the "this is the last time ..." game at every bend and turn). after saying our goodbyes bella and i stole away to begin our ritual-celebration of her completing another year of school.

later in the day while eating at a restaurant, bella slid her notebook across the table and said, do you want to read my story about delmar-harvard. this is what i read (transcribed further down the page)

click to enlarge

By: Isabella DeArmitt

Watching from the back of the window I watch Delmar-Harvard get smaller and smaller. This was my last day running up its pavements, worrying of being late, my last time raising my hand in those oh-so memorable desks, my last time feeling that proudness swelling up inside me when someone asks "what school do you go to." and why I'm proud is because that was my home away from home, those teachers my relatives, those room my rooms, and last that school myself!

As I melancholy walked outside I saw all around me all my teachers/family and siblings/students hugging with tears in their eyes, I saw part of myself being left behind.

But I know that I would only build that part back, that arm or leg, then lose it, just to rebuild a newer version, because that rotation is called life.

if i held it together on the playground, i surely almost didn't after reading my ten year old daughter's first reaction to the event. and i'm doubly impressed that she caught the emotions of the moment as it was unfolding. i'm crazy jealous of her work.

and i am to blame for her use of the word melancholy. she had asked me about the word and i gave her bum feedback for what she was looking for.

KIDS (permalink) 06.01.2011
imagine the stakes once she can hold a job and drive a car.
bella and a classmate had a cookie sale for the victims of the joplin tornado. seeing the diligent effort she put forth saturday morning making a few dozen cookies i planned to match their meager earnings as these affairs, by grownup standards, always seemed more of an exercise in adorability or americana than a way to move the world. later in the day a friend saw me at the pool and commented on bella's initiative. i agreed. the person went on to express surprise at what they raised in just a few hours. not having seen bella since dropping her off at the stand, i asked about the figure wondering how much i would be out. the answer was $340. i immediately began trying to figure out how to change my contribution to a request for a loan.

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