Friday, May 29, 2009

Happy 64th Dad!

It's my Dad's birthday today. Happy birthday Dad! Here is your card (because I didn't get one in the mail on time) and here are your presents (because virtual presents are just as fun as the real ones. Right kids? They nod their snotty nose heads in agreement and look at me with those forlorn eyes that say...please mommy, can we stop looking at the toys on the internet and actually get them).

Here is what Paul Bunyan got you:

Because you always get the person you love what you really want.

Here is what I got you:

Even though I know you don't have a Nikon (oh, but I do).

Auggie wanted you to have a Monster Truck so he drew you this:

I'm sorry the dinosaurs have run over it and smashed it to pieces.

Timmy thought you'd want one too; and besides, you have a two car garage so you can fit both of them (oh, and he also wanted to get you some tools, which might fit in the garage too, maybe):

Claire wanted to give you this:

Which is sort of her way of saying "you can have all my love and happiness, even though that face on the end represents the crazy bitch that I can sometimes be even though I'm only 7 years old and I know I can press all your buttons like my mom used to do and sometimes it's fun to see you get mad which is the only reason I do it. Happy Birthday Pop Pop! Love Form Claire."

So there Dad, I hope you like all your virtual gifts.

I do have some good news though. I finally spun the wool for your Christmas hat. You should have your 2008 Christmas present by Christmas 2009. Isn't that great news!

But in all seriousness, I appreciate all your love through the years...even when I was a screaming, crying wench, which it's pretty clear in this photo you had to deal with fairly early on.

Thanks for putting up with me! I love your side burns and I love you, mur

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Future Iowa Rasslers

Okay, since we're on the subject of college, I thought I would talk about a few of my experiences at Iowa. I was recruited to play field hockey there, which is kinda weird since they don't even play field hockey in the state. But that was great for us because we had the most spectacular fans in the universe. Sure, not the 60,000 that would attend the football games, but you know, pretty close. Some even wore their black and yellow overalls. All came to support our team because they didn't KNOW that field hockey was a really boring and long game to watch on grass because of all the flipping whistles and farkin' rules. But on turf, on astro turf, the game is fast and furious, and well, a lot more exciting as a spectator sport. So we were blessed with a home town crowd that rivaled any other Big 10 school. Many of our spectators were wrestlers. I don't know why this crew was attracted to that muscley bunch, but they were. It was a pretty sure thing that if my teammates weren't gay, they were dating a wrestler, or had played around with one or two along the way.

The wrestlers were a thick bunch and I'm not just talking about their muscles. They weren't the smartest cats on the block, but for some reason I really admired them. It may have had something to do with the 9 National Championships they won (or something like that) in row, or that they were constantly working out- day or night, or it could have been the tales that reverberated through campus about their head coach Dan Gable, who would (for instance) make them all run behind the bus for miles and miles after they just lost a match that should have been theirs.

As part of our training, we were required to run the stairs at Carver Hawkeye Arena, the Hawk's basketball arena. It wasn't fun. It kicked our asses and it was always a dreaded workout. But one day I walked into the arena and the wrestlers were running stairs and I thought to myself, "ah, those poor suckers," and I started to walk towards the elevators that brought us down to the locker rooms. And that's when I noticed that those crazy wrestlers were carrying each other on their backs, running the stairs. Yea, those poor (strong) crazy suckers.

One of my teammates dated one of the Brands brothers, Tom or Terry, I can't remember which one it was...they are identical twins whose names are still on the record boards in the wrestling room. She often had stories, as retold by them, about how they were raised; you know, steaks for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And after they ate, they would just kick the shit out of each other and then puke. It sounded rough, but kinda cool. I mean, that's what I missed in my game. I was a finesse player, but I lacked the kick-the-shit out of the opponent aggression that you can only get from kicking the shit out of your siblings. It just didn't happen in our house. I had a brother who had better things to worry about besides me; he was too busy playing with his star wars planes or figuring out the Rubiks cube for the 17th time. I think we came from different wombs. But anyway, now that I have these boys, who are loving and gentle and sweet....I kinda want them to beat the shit out of each other. Because, well, it wouldn't be so bad if they were legends in their own right at Iowa and they had 60,000 Iowans come to wag their tails to see them pin a Michigan wrestler in the second period.

Today, without a big sister to boss them around they started to rassle on our guest bed. I got this out of them:

Here is what is wrong with this video:

1) Auggie wants to rassle again after he sees I'm video taping him...I don't know what this means.

2) Timmy is worried about Auggie wrecking his shirt...not what an Iowa wrestler worries about.

3) Wrestling is a sport and an art. There is no kicking or punching. That is ultimate fighting and THAT is not allowed.

Here is how the whole thing concluded:

Here is what is wrong with this video:

1) Timmy cries...Iowa wrestlers don't cry.

2) That I made Auggie apologize about kicking the shit out of his brother....Iowa wrestlers don't apologize for hurting anyone.

3) Auggie thinks that the cut he received after punching the shit out of Timmy was actually Timmy's fault...Iowa wrestlers like to give themselves pain. It means they've worked out.

4) Many of you probably think I should not have laughed at the end, but I just wanted Auggie to know that it was fun and funny to watch him punch the living shit out of his (bigger) brother. Sorry if you think that's wrong. But we're in training here.

So, it's apparent that we have a lot to work on. But at least we now have video to study and learn where we can tweak moves and improve holds. And I think it's helpful that I just ordered a $2,000 wrestling mat for the basement. Just kidding Paul Bunyan; but hell, if it gets them a full scholarship, what's a little investment now?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bottom of the Ninth, Two Outs, Full Count

I dated a baseball pitcher in college. He was a 'finisher' or 'closer', as they say in the baseball world. He would go in and save the day if they were losing and finish it off if they were winning. He was a southpaw (lefty). He was tall and beautiful and strong. He was the first man I ever really loved. And he cheated on me. So let's just say, he wasn't the greatest finisher. He didn't save the day in my world; he quite significantly wrecked it.

Sometimes I don't feel like the best closer. I'm more like the 'wrecker' at the end of the ninth inning, with three people on, and two outs. Well, more like the 'unfinisher'. Take for instance, my knitting basket. I've got three sweaters started. Most are almost done; I've got maybe sleeves to finish. But no, they lay unfinished like pieces to a jig saw puzzle waiting completion. Or perhaps I could tell you about my photo album of Claire, photos from the predigital era that need organization and emphasis; unfortunately, they lay in dusty piles of unfishedness. There is also my garden, which finally got planted yesterday (yeehaw). Having your garden sowed, for me, is like slipping into a set of freshly cleaned sheets. Everything feels clean and new and complete and tucked away. There isn't a weed (yet) to be found. But invariably, I start off strong, weeding as they come; yet, they come with arms and backups and backup arms, and they threaten with their continuous attacks, which I can't defend myself against and then I'm left with a full and lush weed garden, and very little produce to speak of. I wreck it!

Every year I have the same feelings of redemption. THIS will be the year I finish strong. This will be the year I'm out here every day killing those scum bags called weeds. This will be the year I have enough tomatoes to can and cucumbers to turn into pickles. This will be the year I don't have to weed before I turn the soil over again in the fall. I promise...this will be the year.

My mother-in-law (well, father-in-law too) arrive next Thursday. We're so excited for their visit, because they haven't been here in two (!!) years. However, I feel like it's been that long since I've cleaned my bedroom, where they have to stay because our king size bed is the only one in the house big enough for Popi to sleep in (he's 6'4"). So the dust bunnies, the size of bunnies, have to be removed. This is all good. I have moved a big box (every time they come) from one corner of the room to the other corner of the room. Inside this box is a set of beautiful frames that I ordered from Red Envelope four (!!) years ago. The frames connect and hang from a rod. It's quite fancy and modern and was intended to house black and white pictures of the boys (and Claire) at 6 weeks and 6 months old, all predigital era. Why we paid a woman (a lot of money) to take photos of us in our most exhaustive state is beyond me, but some of them came out okay. The photos are ready for the frames. I have yet to put them in them. They are thus...unfinished. And now the wall we are going to hang them on needs repainting. But my "finisher" of a husband will get that done soon. I promise.

Here is one of the shots.

I know. I know. I need to get it on the wall. I need to get them all framed (they're all this cute). I'll get it done; I promise. I will!

I can make these promises. I'm going to do my best to finish all my projects. You may not believe me. That's okay. But here's a promise I hope you'll trust me with. These little thingies...these little crazy beautiful people...I'm gonna finish with them. They won't sit in my bedroom corners, or in my knitting basket, or go unweeded in my garden. I'm going to follow through with them (!!). I'm going to be there in the end, and I'm pretty certain that if some unforeseen thing happens to me that I have an army of friends, all with their arms, and backups, and backup arms to help me finish this off. That's what team sports are all about, right? It may be the bottom of the ninth, three people on base, two outs and a full count, but I've got someone behind me to catch that pop fly. These thingies will not lose. No one on my team will let them. And for that I am grateful.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Beautiful People

I realize that this is a really crappy photo of Paul Bunyan's tattoo. My camera battery died when I was finally able to pin him down long enough to rip his shirt off. I had to resort to the old point and shoot.

But I was able to find his original sketch that he sent me from the dark state of Alaska, where he designed and paid for and then received his painful body art.

This is the Hopi Sun symbol. Paul Bunyan grew up going to this boy's summer camp and while up in the northern, bug infested woods of Minnesota, he was immersed in Native American lore. When I asked him last night how he came up with this symbol, for the very thing he wanted to paint permanently on the center of his back, he said "I dunno". Seriously, you don't know? You simply don't have some really deep reason that you chose this symbol over all the crazy Hopi symbols (like the Symbol of the Plumed Serpent, or the Corn Maiden Kachina, or the Hopi eagle, or the Spider Woman's house). Well, "I dunno" wasn't good enough for me. So, I've made up my own answer:

I chose the Hopi Sun symbol because I believe that I was once a Sun God in another life and that in the broad valleys where my people had their agricultural lands, 600 feet below their villages on the mesa, they planted widely spaced hills of corn, beans and melons and peppers. I was paramount in their lives and helped their peach and apricot trees bear excellent fruit, and all were able to flourish because of me.

Doesn't that sound better? Anyway, I think Paul Bunyan may have had something to do with the sun shining on us all yesterday. It was supposed to be raining with thunderstorms. And we had planned an evening of eating, and drinking and playing, which isn't very fun to do indoors, especially when the newly mowed green grass beckons like a fresh baked cookie.

We were lucky enough to be joined by beautiful people.

Including this beautiful person, whom we have yet to meet; although we are very excited for its arrival in the next few weeks. We're waiting with baited breath beautiful person!!

And there was this beautiful person, whom Mud birthed almost 5 (!!) years ago.

Oh, and this isn't so beautiful. We could do without these. Any guesses?

Look at those eyes...

And then we have these beautiful people...yay girls! Girls!!

And this beautiful person (the woman, not the baby just quite yet) is my friend Jen.

Here is Jen RSVPing to our barb-a-que

090524_001 - Jen B.

Oh, and now let's meet this beautiful person.

This is Cally...short for McCalister Jane

Yea, I know...she's beautiful.

This is Cally's beautiful mother.

Are you kidding me?? Seriously?

And this is Cally's beautiful Daddy.

There aren't many things more beautiful than a father and his daughter.

Don't hate him when you're 13, Ms. Cally Jane.

Oh, and then there are all these beautiful people too. They're crazy beautiful.

Thank you Sun God for showering us with sun (and the crazy beautiful people you helped me create).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Little Slice of Summer

We almost got a goat. Paul Bunyan thought we could just chain him up outside the house and build him a dog house and he could eat the lawn...and then he (PB) would never, ever have to mow the lawn again. We tried to herd the alpacas up the hill to chow on the long grass last week. We didn't have enough herders. I don't usually see Paul Bunyan get pissed. He was pissed. It didn't work.

Paul Bunyan's been trying to come up with every excuse to NOT mow the lawn. He even had to go so far as to replace a culvert in the dirt road, which leads up to the pole barn, which is where the mower is stored over the winter. He said (yesterday) that maybe we should just let the grass keep growin' so that we could harvest the seed and sell our very own, local (!), grass seed.


Here's why I don't like the grass so long:

1) the dogs still shit in it
2) the kids can't see where the dogs have shit in it
3) the kids step in the shit because they can't see where the dogs have shit in it
4) the kids track the shit, that they couldn't see, that's in their shoes, into the house, where you know who, has to pick it up

So I was very happy to see that this was happening today.

I just love a man and his son on the tractor...

even though I know it's completely against all rules of safety to have a child on the tractor while it's running.

Here is the littlest grunt cleaning up the toys in the yard. Poor Grunt, he got the short end of the stick.

And now I'm spying on the beauty of the event through the tamarack tree, just so Paul Bunyan can't see my excitement.

Get out of my way tree.

Yes, now we're talking.

Ooooh, what is that?

Ooooh, I think I like that back. Yes, I know I like that back.

It's the same one I couldn't stop wrapping myself around when you were wooing me thirteen years ago. Remember that? Paul Bunyan? Do you remember?? Oh, Right. I won't bother you. You're too busy mowing. Thank you, by the way. Oh, and have I told you lately? I really like your tattoo.

*more about Paul Bunyan's tattoo tomorrow

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Spring on the Homestead

On Winter's Disappearance

The fragrant dance is about to start.
But beware: it only lasts a few days.
Its sweet siren's song will spring forth,
And let winter's whisper fade away.

I dream of sleeping on beds,
Made from your scented petals.
Or perhaps unfurling myself in your sails,
As we drift quietly in a cool nights' breeze.

How easy I forget my winter's frozen blood,
How quickly it washes into the stream bed,
When the silent slumber in your stalk,
Finally, stretches in the sun.

Things are..

About to...


Monday, May 18, 2009

Our Woodsplitter Apprentices

Paul Bunyan says that it's the husbands, the tough wood splitters themselves, who come into the Emergency Department with fingers dangling by ligaments or packaged in sandwich bags, saved to be reattached. Guilty wives stand next to them, trying to tell them how sorry they are. The women are the ones running the lever on the splitter; husbands, being the stronger gender, place the heavy logs on top and invariably lose appendages because the wife wasn't looking, or wasn't paying attention, or didn't listen and flipped that lever into the forward position, squeezing the log against the blade and inadvertently chopping her husband's finger off. Woops.

I've been hesitant to run the splitter with Paul Bunyan for this reason. I don't want to be standing beside his hospital bed, apologizing to his favorite colleagues (who are trying to stitch his index finger back on) that he will no longer be the 'go to' nurse for pediatric i.v.'s or digital disimpaction because I wasn't watching what I was doing. They'd be very upset with me. So, needless to say, I was very happy to see these two grunts learning the ropes of the splitter. Beside the hum of the Honda motor, the valley echoed with the booming voice of Paul Bunyan yelling, "FORWARD" and "BACK". There was no way for the little apprentices not to hear his commands; but still, it was a bit of a risk to have two four year olds at the helm.

Especially when they need one of these to operate the machinery.

Paul Bunyan can't get his fingers smashed with this's too big.

But with one this size, if all parties are not paying attention, it could be the "wrecker".

I hope this goomba finds splitting this fun when he has to do it after a night of binge drinking with his buddies.

But I'm definitely glad he's trying to concentrate.

Even if it is just for a short time.

Yea, I'm glad it's you and not me buddy.

Keep workin' hard and daddy just might buy you an excavator (a real one, so he can use it).

Or maybe a skidder, if you really want one.

And probably a dump truck (so you can sell and deliver all this wood). That is, if you don't chop his fingers off. Good luck (and pay attention)!!