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WEB, PHOTO (permalink) 08.31.2012
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.
AUG 2012

KIDS (permalink) 08.30.2012
hidden depths.
as the school year approached i visited with each of the kids separately getting their pulse about things. both bella and anthony were starting at new schools (junior high and kindergarten). obviously they both had a good bit of nerves. when i approached alex, his presence drooped and he became somber. when i asked what was worrying him. he connected it to getting a new teacher and expressed sentiments about his last teacher, mrs. mcwilliams.

i just can't wait until i see mrs mcwilliams again.

yeah, have you you been missing her?


did you hear that she moved to kindergarten and that's who anthony is going to have?

yeah. she's a really good woman.

KIDS (permalink) 08.29.2012
better than caffeine
the day began with a game of "see if i can bite your finger". marty and her siblings played this when young. in it, one player has their mouth open wide and eyes closed tight. the other player then sticks their finger into the open mouth and tries to get it out before the closed eye person bites it. towards the end of their saturday cuddle marty and anthony started playing this. a surprising amount of laughter ensued. after a bit of play anthony peered into marty's gaping mouth and began charting what he saw. "i can see your teeth mom. oh, i can see your tongue mom. oh, i can see your vulva mom."

childbirth, she do take a toll.

and, i got cash money that says anthony's speech therapist has never been told to work on the enunciation nuances between uvula and vulva before.

KIDS, TV (permalink) 08.28.2012
same lesson, different vehicle.
bella likes the show the voice. i tolerate the voice to spend minutes with my daughter. early on, i found the judges to not be judgmental enough which on a show about judging is a reasonably damning trait. i did like the blind facet of the competition though. as the competition wound on and the delta in performance and talent got tighter, i felt for the judges who were forced to decide between two closely matched singers.

then one night bella and i watched two of the battles before bed. in each of the cases the pairings were quite close but in each case there seemed to be a clear winner. and in each case the person who seemed to outdo the other was voted off and sent packing. after this happened the second time i replayed what happened in my head and saw a pattern. in each case the person who gave the stronger performance was, in working up to the performance, also the more difficult to work with. they acted privileged and pouted when a decision was not to their liking (e.g. didn't like the song selected). the judges who had to make the call had to consider their smaller teams in the later rounds. they needed people who could work outside of their comfort zone, if need be, and were able to continue to give effort and more importantly positive energy to a situation that might be less than ideal. this is how these two people beat the more skilled competitors, by being versatile and continuing to work even when the cards didn't fall their way.

i shared my theory with bella. i rewound the show and pointed out the behavior i felt cost them the win. this is the sort of concept one can explain to a child, but without their own experiences and personal examples to lean on, i imagine it's hard for a young mind to fully embrace the significance of such a thing. thus, what a gift we had in this show, a show my bella is ravenously interested in. she saw vivid examples of people acting childish and then later suffering for their stubbornness downstream. cool way to discuss a nuance of attitude. i have new respect for the voice, and in particular for adam levine and chistina aguilara, for having the insight to not reward these prima-donna antics.

this unexpected moment also reminded me of an old, pre-republican, dennis miller bit. in it he said his father took him to a rated R movie at a very young age. in the movie one of the characters was killed which caused a young dennis to lean into his father and asked why that man got hurt. his father replied, "because he was a slack-jawed asshole and one day all slack-jawed assholes have to suck the pipe." i'm sure i'm botching the quote slightly but it is in the ball-park of what went down. i'm glad a found a more age-appropriate vehicle to share this message with my daughter.

KIDS, QUOTES (permalink) 08.24.2012
what passes for discourse in our home.

I'm the king of the world!

no. you're the king of your anus.

KIDS, PHOTO (permalink) 08.23.2012
scenes from the first day of the 2012-2013 school year

the thirty pound junior high backpack

walking to the bus

anthony's waiting smirk

anthony hamming, aleo perfecting

proud and relived parents with their kindergartner

WIFE (permalink) 08.22.2012
yeah, i guess it's possible first impressions are over-rated
one day the week before school started, ninth graders could visit the school and walk their schedule to get the lay of the land. in this they'd meet each of their teachers for ten minutes. during one session, a student interrupted marty midway through her spiel asking to go to the restroom. she eyed the student suspiciously and then, thinking he was gaming her, said she thought he was old enough to hold it for five minutes. the student put his head on his desk. two minutes later he lifted his head and marty saw he was four gulps of air from puking all over her brand new lab table. she immediately motioned to the door, saying the restroom was down the hall on the left. the boy fled.

later in the day another science teacher asked if anyone else saw the student running down the hall dry-heaving. marty shook her head no (which wasn't a lie as technically she didn't see his mad dash down the hallway). after telling me this story i told marty i've recently been worried that now that the kids were older and less mayhem-producing i'd be light on stories to write about. given how lively her re-entry to work-life has been i'm now thinking i might need to start a second site to shoulder the additional material.

KIDS (permalink) 08.17.2012
that time, she is a-marchin'
today i will walk my isabella to the bus stop so she may attend her first day of junior high.

i'd tell you to send her some positive thoughts but i fear i may need them more. whatever happened to my baby girl.

and, like last year, we just snuck her dad day in before the end of summer. this year's day of decadence involved:

1. horseback riding
2. porterhouse lunch
3. bookstore hour
4. movie afternoon (step up revolution)
5. ted drewes custard

it was, hopefully, a day she'll remember. i know i will as i can't remember being that wiped out after a day.

and of all of that, i think she may have been most surprised and excited about seeing the step up revolution movie. at the end of the film she started an applause that the other patrons merrily joined in on. that may have been my favorite part of the day.

KIDS (permalink) 08.16.2012
the kind of manners that make you cringe when you overhear
alex spent the day at a friend's house. near supper time marty called over to ask about the plan. the lady said they had no particular ideas in mind and the boys were still playing strong. marty worried alex would be upset if we ate without him so had the lady ask him what he wanted to do.

alex. i have your mom on the phone. she's wondering what you want to do about dinner.

uhhh. what is my mom making?

FRIEND'S MOM (she asks marty)
pork and green bean stir fry.

uhhhmm. what are you making?

i think we're going to have eggs.

well. i do like pork and green bean stir fry more than eggs but will stay here and keep playing.

while assessing his choices might come off as a tad rude, his choosing the lesser option to stay in the woman's home may make up for any prior slight.

FAMILY (permalink) 08.15.2012
at least he used the scientifically-appropriate version of the word, which hasn't always been the case
last weekend we were invited to a family's lake house. this family has four boys, three of their kids line up with ours in age and grade. alex's friendship with his age peer predominately fuels the relationship, but marty and i have come to enjoy the parents as we've gotten to know them more.

the kids were nervous and expressed concern on the way there. what will it be like? what if we don't like it? do they have an indoor toilet? marty and i confessed ignorance to all points and explained that we were on a family adventure and needed to enjoy the mystery of it all. after arriving late, we walked up to the adults who were sitting in swings and on picnic tables while kids played below in the lake. our kids approached the scene sheepishly, as did marty and i greeting our peers. down below a young boy's voice bellowed FROG! bella's face immediately lit up and snapped to. she looked at marty who gave the 'go ahead' face and bella charged down the slope to join the chase. as for aleo, he saw two paddleboats chained to a dock. he immediately moved to marty's side and repeatedly looked from her face to the boats. marty asked if the boats could be taken out and when the hostess said of course, alex was lost to us for the next five hours as he took one boat after another out, commanding them just as if he were a proper riverboat captain. and anthony, well anthony mostly just hurled himself off any dock or structure his muscly little arms could pull himself onto.

a few hours into the adventure, the adults continued to sit atop the hill surveying the scene, their conversations accented by the excited play of nine kids about the lake. the playful banter and calls were then broken by some elevated tones from two of them, one of them being anthony. shortly after the disagreement began i heard a long declaration ring out across the lake "stop it you stupid penis head." i cringed at the discernible words but hoped that this was one of those moments where, as anthony's speech therapist tells us, there will be things he says that we understand but others don't. as the seconds ticked off without any reaction i heard another tinny voice ring out, "mom, anthony just called me a penis head." my shoulders slumped as now i knew something more overt than a "later-talking-to" had to happen. after pulling anthony out of the lake he asked what he did. i told him that he called the son of our host family a penis head. anthony immediately started with a "but he ...". i cut him off saying there is not a "but he" explanation out there that justifies calling the boy a penis head, especially yelling it across the lake so everyone can hear. then i thought about a few of the people i have professional dealings with and considered amending my statement. i opted to wait until later this week when anthony is at least six years old and has a better chance of discerning the nuance of when throwing down penis-head is not only acceptable but actually the best choice.

WIFE (permalink) 08.14.2012
schoolin' laura ingalls style
last year marty subbed for three weeks. after the tour i asked her if there were any noticeable changes in the classroom over the last decade. she said, yes, one, there were no smartphones ten years ago.

now that she's there more often her time off is showing in other ways too. when the teachers were getting their rooms ready marty walked into the science teachers office and asked:

does anyone have an easel-pad.

what's an easel-pad?

it's a big sheet of paper you can write stuff on.

i don't have an easel-pad but i think i got some slates you can borrow.

TELEVISION, LIFE (permalink) 08.10.2012
we get one shot and it is happening now.
we haven't seen much of the olympics. sad and curious. sad because i would have enjoyed much of what there was. curious because we were traveling when they started and always found ourselves in spots with great, sometimes multiple, large televisions. the problem we encountered--we were always out. and when we got back, we were often too spent to do anything but go to bed. of the nights we did watch, i observed something about the coverage: commercials, and lots of them. of all the ones i saw, the one below struck me the most.

TRAVEL (permalink) 08.08.2012
grace and panache, dearmitt-style
our first day in the mountains began perfectly enough. we arrived to the cabin early enough the night before to get unpacked, settled, fed, and to bed at a reasonable hour. the next morning we woke to clear skies. we dressed, ate and headed up the poudre canyon. our first hike this year was to be the one that eluded us last year--the neota trail--as we couldn't find the trailhead. with renewed guidance from our hosts, liz and john, we easily found the start point this time. about a half mile into the trek, alex (9) pointed at the peaks ahead and said it looked like rain and perhaps we should head back. marty and i scanned the sky and said it should hold out for this shortish hike and urged the kids to continue. alex re-expressed his concern. this was not the first time alex has given us weather counsel we should have listened to.

ten minutes later the clouds darkened and a few minutes after that opened up with a light rain. we assured the kids it was just a drizzle and things would be fine. five minutes later the thunder cracked, loudly. and five minutes after that the peppercorn sized hail began to fall. with this latest turn, marty ushered the family into the trees where we took cover from the hail under a dense clump of pines.

i took this time to brighten my dour crew by complaining about the how much these added frills were going to cost me when we got home. the children inquired what i meant. i explained that all of these antics, rain, lightning, thunder, and now hail were going to surely be on the bill i received when we got home and how it was sorta like a hotel experience and every order of room service or movie viewing would be a line item on the final invoice when the stay was over. and every time another crack of thunder rang out, i'd grouse, "oh great, there's another fifty cents". and when the hail started i complained vigorously, "hail! hail! oh wonderful, that's surely going to be like three, maybe even five dollars extra!" my theatrics mostly confused my kids as they tried to figure out the mechanics of such accounting. but my wife stood under a her tree, soaked sans rain gear, possibly wanting to cry but instead laughing uncontrollably through my exhibition while the kids looked at one another fully confused and asked questions like "who sends you the bill?" and "do we have to pay for rain at home?".

this short trail along a high elevation meadow is known for wildlife, especially moose. to this point in our walk we'd barely seen a bird or chipmunk. i'm confident this outcome was largely due to the kids boisterous way of life. now twenty feet off the trail hiding out from the weather, the meadow had nary a human peep. when the hail stopped and the family filed back towards the trail shushes were suddenly passed back and a call for a camera. i looked up to see a mother moose and her young moose kid/calf/mooselet walking not twenty feet from marty and bella who were at the head of our line. both of our proper cameras were buried in the pack strapped to me. worried about the time and noise it would take to get to the gear, i instead reached into my zippered thigh pocket for my iphone, pulled it out and sent it up the line.

i think, i imagine, i reckon this is where the cabin key fell out of my pocket and onto the ground. i think this because after we finished our hike and drove down the mountain and i walked to the front door and reached into the zippered pocket where i put the two most valuable things--my iphone and the cabin key--for safekeeping and found no key, my mind flashed back to me looking down at the pocket lining sticking out of the zippered mouth of the pocket after i quickly pulled the wet phone out of the wet pocket in attempt to get a picture of a momma and baby moose. i'm pretty sure that is where i lost it. i explained this much to marty and asked if we should go back to the trail to test my theory (as i pulled the phone out for other pictures after that as well) or do we drive the hour down the canyon back to town to get a backup key from the owners. without pause, marty voted for the sure thing and i slid back behind the wheel and we headed down-canyon to fort collins.

when we arrived at the house the kids were in different states of dress given the wet clothes had to be removed from their shivery bodies once we got back to the car. hours later the kids were no longer frost bit but their clothes were still a soppy mess piled in the back of the van. now more hours later yet, anthony was fully naked, although this is nothing especially unique. alex was wearing nothing but a blue-grey pair of camouflage boxer-briefs. and bella also was in just underwear but was additionally wrapped in a picnic blanket marty had on hand.

both Liz and John were obviously at work it being the middle of a monday and Will, their son, was out and about as a high-school age man on summer break should be. over the phone, liz talked us through where to look for backup keys. it turned out they had all been loaned out and not yet returned making the key on john's keyring the last available copy. liz called him. he was visiting with a client. not wanting to disturb them any further we offered to drive to him. the house was just down the street from liz's girlhood home and easily found.

i was nervous about this intrusion into his day but the smile john flashed upon walking out of the home he was working in was warm and welcoming. we quickly recounted what happened and apologized about the bother. he said no worries and handed over the key. he asked that we make a couple copies and leave the extras in the realtor-like lockbox at the cabin. it was here that i got to top any blows the day had delivered by confessing that neither marty and i had a wallet, having thought we were just going on a brief mountain hike, and asked if i could borrow some money to make the keys. this bought another flash of john's youthful smile while he reached for his wallet. he leafed through the bills looking up to ask with a smirk if we needed any extra money to feed the children or possibly go to the movies. earlier in our visit i was offering to let john adopt me given his vibrant and covetous lifestyle. as he handed me a few bills to get me though the day i felt a step closer to this relationship. although john may have been less sold on bringing another dependent on given this performance.

as this trial unfolded and lengthened the family did surprisingly well. given the fatigue, the hunger, the cold and even in the different states of undress the kids and marty proved champs. and when the conversation did turn to "when will we be home" or "how long is this going to take" i would remind them of great thing that was occurring right now. when they asked what that might be, i replied, this is a story that will be told around our dinner table for decades, possibly generations to come, and there is nothing more that can be asked for from a day than that (assuming no real peril or evilness of course) so instead of wishing it to end we should be basking in the awesomeness of this memorable individual life moment. a set or two of eyes may have rolled at this paternal wisdom. i can't say as i didn't look. i couldn't bring myself to glance in the mirror and chose to believe they were all nodding in understanding and appreciation. this is a little trick i have in dealing with with the world around me. it may have its flaws but has been working for me wonderfully to date. and yes, if you are wondering, i am glad i can't see your expression right now.

WIFE (permalink) 08.07.2012
slight change on the home front.
after a nine year break from professional life, yesterday marty re-entered the workforce.

as the time came to leave she moved towards the stairs. i followed her down the hallway wanting to say goodbye as she left the house. before starting down the steps she ducked into her bedroom, crouched down and pulled a black eastpak out from under her dresser, a spot it's possibly sat since she last taught. she held the pack up before her and gave it a few punches knocking the dust off. after a few bats her eyes narrowed and she set it down next to the dresser. it would have to wait until tomorrow.

then, just moments before stepping out the door the phone rang. it was bella. she was down the street looking in on some dogs she was sitting. bella reported that one of the dog's pooped on the floor, as it had the day before. yesterday marty helped, largely, clean it up, taking a bucket and scrub brush down. on this day marty explained that she was running out the door for work and calmly counseled bella on a plan saying things like "you saw what i did yesterday right?" and "start with water and then step on the towels". marty then hung up the phone, gave me a kiss and darted out the door.

ten minutes later bella came through the front door, fighting back tears. i asked about her trouble and she explained that the dog pooped on the floor again and she forgot to take out their recycling as they had asked. i gave her a hug and said everything would be ok and we'd get through this one pace at a time. after a few moments, bella calmed down, stood back from me, wiped the tears from her face, straightened herself up, and went to the basement. she returned with a bucket and scrub-brush and wordlessly walked out the front door. through a french door, i watched her walk down the street and around the corner towards the job she now had to do on her own, without her mother.

marty stopped working so she could fully focus on raising her kids. five minutes into her return to work, she's still raising up her children, arguably in ways that she couldn't have raised them by staying in the home.

best of luck marta. you're going to do great. and so are we.

SPORTS, TRAVEL (permalink) 08.06.2012
the most triumphant moment of my break
i started biking in my mid twenties. technically my biking journey began after marty commented that i looked a little doughy in the middle. surely when we met, thanks to a job unloading tractor trailers, i had a predominately dough-free middle. after some research and recruiting a friend to help, i bought a bike. my first ride, to marty's family home, was five miles long and concluded with a short but steep hill. to climb it i had to turn in a big circle every fifty feet or so to give my muscles enough of a break to continue the ascent. after that abysmal first showing i declared that i would ride this bike every day for one year, and i did. in this time, there were beautiful days but there were also rainy ones, and snowy ones, and ones that were so cold that i had to, mid-ride, stuff newspapers down my pants to keep the wind off my junk. the dough, largely, went away.

over the years, my rides got longer. by the end of the first year i could go out for twenty miles without great fear of not making it back. then in my late twenties while visiting my home town, i decided to try a ride some friends of mine once did. so i grabbed my $300 bike and my one bike bottle and set out to ride from fort collins to estes park. this was a thirty-five mile trek, one way, twenty five of them being straight uphill. after half a day of peddling and strain, i crested the final hill, rolled into estes and ate lunch on the front lawn of the stanley manor.

i've tried that ride three times since then, twice in my thirties and once in my forties. none of those attempts proved successful. the first time i got beat mentally and turned back on my own (i later learned i only had to round one more bend and i would have been there), the second failed attempt i didn't respect letting your body acclimate to the altitude and attempted the ride less than twelve hours after arriving in the state and couldn't breath (that time i didn't even make it five miles up the canyon), and the last time i just gassed out halfway up (due to an aging body and poor nutrition plan).

obviously these failed attempts have been plaguing me and besting that ride has been on my shortlist since the last time i didn't make it. last thursday, our last day of a two week colorado vacation (ensuring proper acclimation time), i attempted the ride, and with what was not a trivial bit of exertion i completed the ride for the first time in more than fifteen years. truth is i'd say i'm presently in the best shape of my life. in thinking through why i struggled so much in the last five miles, i attribute it to our vacation lifestyle. in each of the in the seven days before the ride, we had some physical family adventure. these mostly included hiking, canoeing, water-worlding, and even stand-up wake-boarding. the day before the ride we went on a four mile mountain hike that took us above the treeline (more on this soon). the hike in was the equivalent of climbing two miles worth of stairs, well, that is, if the stairs were uneven, of varying heights and never level. when i recount the happenings of the prior week, i think it's amazing i even came close to completing the ride as in some regards the deck has never been more stacked against me making it. certainly a testament to what swimming has done for me.

another, fortunate part of the experience was a few months back i mentioned this plan to bookguy who happened to be spending the summer months in new mexico. he had the notion of driving up and doing the ride with me. while there were many neat things that came from his participation, selfishly, the coolest were the pictures he snapped of me coming around the last bend and casting a fifteen year monkey off my back. i didn't know he was clicking off these pictures and he was obviously holding up far better than myself as taking pictures was the last thing on my mind while he was busy riding the same hill as me but shooting pics at the same time.

grinding out the last hundred feet
on the way back down bookguy made a most poignant comment. he said you don't realize how impressive climbing this hill is until you blast down it the other way. the reason for this is there is something difficult about gauging terrain in the mountains. there are times you look ahead and are sure you're looking at a downhill slope and wonder why you're struggling so on it. i imagine you could liken it to a mirage seen by a parched castaway. it's not until you fly down the other direction that you realize there were no downslopes at all and you just climbed a twenty five mile hill.

cresting the last bit of hill
i wasn't able to stand very long as my right quad cramped the second i'd lift out of the seat. this inability to vary how i approached the hills in the last few miles surely didn't do me any favors. in the end, i don't think i'd ever been so glad to see the end of a climb.

entering estes park proper
bookguy was miffed at the bad luck of having some guy taking out his trash just as i was passing the sign. marty felt the pedestrian chore gave the picture some good and real flavor. liking authentic imagery, i think i side with marty on its presence.

bookguy and i on the lawn of the stanley
just below this phenomenally picturesque veranda sits a pool. on this day it was unused and looked so cool and refreshing. the notion of hopping the fence and diving into the pool was the closest i've come to conducting an arrest-worthy offense, like, ever.

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