Our Loud Little People
Benscatter Hunhwhatsia The Otherwise Occupied. . . .
. . .and Milothian Authoritatius The Indignant
The Boys Are Back In Town
And when the boys are back, there ain't no foolin' around.
The Trip part of the trip to the farm & back was not ideal. Emily and our boys and us and our stuff was a tight fit in the Monster Truck, so the boys were in each others' space for too long on the way there. They have reached the "he hit me" "he touched me" "stop that!" age, apparently. And as much as the frazzled driver dad is mocked in film -- it's a real reaction to the constant whining & bickering. The trip home was a little easier since we rearranged the seating, but still Evil's Twin Minions are very loud little people. And then we lost AK's wallet somewhere in Belle Vernon. And then Ben was visited by Kirmy/Kirby (that's what he named his tummy bug).
The VISIT part of the vacation was just wonderful! Kids succumbed to mind-rot, watching TV in another part of the farm. Grownups got to have quiet grownup time. AK knit. I got some Ebay work done for Xmas money. We got to hang out with Granny, Aunt C and The New Oliver Crew. Our new nephew is a truly righteous baby, and he gets my full mental props (including mental high-fives, mental flying chest-butts, and mental surfer-nods/hang-loose signals).
Now we are back and readjusting to real life, albeit a much more Christmassy and perfumed real life. AK and Max went on a decorating binge Sunday, so we have one of the more Christmassy houses on the street now. Our tree is up & decorated, and I don't know what it is or if it's even technically Christmassy, but there is a nice aroma hanging around ever since they opened the X-mas boxes. It might be Fresh Breeze Scented Poop-Away Glade Renuzits Air Fresheners as far as I know.
On an unrelated note, AK's work load has lightened temporarily so she's been honing her Google Fu skills. Her internet research has proven beyond any even partially reasonable doubt that LEAVING LA WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. Take note, any of you out there who still think I went off the deep end simply due to a Bad Boss: it was so much more than that. We submit the following to the court. . .
-My kindred-spirit Honda buddy who was hired with me, worked with me, promoted with me, and introduced me to my own inner redneck -- who embodied the love of riding more than anyone and gave me my own reborn love of the sport -- who, as much as me, seemed to live his whole life only as preparation for his career with the world's largest motorcycle company -- and who was as happily married to that company as I was -- has been alienated. He left, and is gone back home where life can focus on the important things (with one less important thing to worry about: Honda).
-Riverside County now tops many People Who Know's lists of "Places You Don't Want to Own a Home Right Now On Account of The Market Being About To Crash And All"
-We got an ARM to lower our payments soon after moving there. Soon after we left, if we'd still had the ARM, we'd have been unable to pay the gigantic mortgage payments. The house would have foreclosed.
-The people who bought the house from us? They lost it. It went into foreclosure in September.
-Gas prices have doubled since we left. And that's important when you a)work 70 miles from home and b)live 30 minutes from civilization.
-When we sold -- and waited way longer than we thought we should have had to -- there were just a few 4 BR homes for sale. Today, counting just the 4 bedroom homes, over 1800 are for sale in Corona. Asking prices in our development are barely above what we got for our house 2 years ago.
Going Off Half Packed
Tomorrow is the day-long drive to The Farm for Thanksgiving festivities. That is a very good thing. Soon, AK will have her much-deserved break. And yea, and verily, she will knit herself unconscious.
Today was about getting my work wrapped up, then helping in any way I could to prepare for the trip. Part a took too long, as usual. Then part b went a little too smoothly (aside from the part of part b where the lovely and talented Mrs. Hults interrupts her work-inspired panic with bouts of fatigue-inspired nervous breakdown). Hence my suspicion that we will spend half of the trip discovering the half of the things we needed that were only half packed.
Oh well! It's halfway through the night and I'm only half sleepy. So tomorrow I will drive half of the miles (while AK finishes the last half of her work) in a half-awake, half-giddy haze. And I will have to laugh at every thing we only half packed. Because I will have my half-boy/half-man Max, I will have both halves of one very wiggy cell which mutated 5 years ago, and I will have my Much Better Half.
And she will have her halfwit dog.
"I haffa work on my yaptop"
That's what Max would say, with a very serious look, when he was Ben/Milo's age and had a toy laptop Leapfrog V-Tech game thing toy. He had an awful time with his "L"s and his "R"s, which was fine with us because it was downright adorable.
(as we fuss over which cartoon channel to watch) "Daddy, I don't YIKE Johnny Bwavo!"
Tonight we had the twins' Family Birthday, with gifts from us and relatives. Ben and Milo got their own V-Frog Game Top Lap Toy things (I don't think the graphics or software are any better than the one Max had :( but at least they were cheaper). As they opened gifts from Grammas, Grampas, Aunts & Uncles we tried so hard to coach them on saying thank you after opening gifts. This is because we're having The Bowling Ally Birthday Party From Beyond Reason on Saturday and we suspect they will be up to their eyeballs in gifts from the other kids. It did not go well, since the people they were thanking were not present and that added another layer of mystery to what we were communicating. Also, you know how a kid just glazes over where there is a brand new, brightly-colored, battery-operated, no-volume-control, over-packaged doesn't-matter-what sitting in their lap. We will be talking them down from Planet Gotmorestuff every 4 minutes so they can say "Thank you (name of friend)!"
Which brings me to something I've been thinking about lately: manners. I'm considering a commitment to "dying on that hill". AK always uses that expression. If there's a fight she's decided isn't worth fighting she says "I'm not going to die on that hill", meaning she'll concede that hill to the enemy and give her all on a more important subject. Well, I just may conclude that manners/respect/common courtesy or whatever you want to call it -- is worth taking a stand on in my ongoing battle with parenthood. I never paid much attention, but lately I'm thinking that a boy can be dim, ugly, clumsy, socially backward or all 4 -- and that boy will be alright if he's got a good foundation of manners & common courtesy. This means that I can screw up parenting my boys in all the ways I imagine I will (daily, on a near-hourly basis) but if I can win this one battle and imbue them with a fundamental respect for other human beings of all races & creeds, then I will achieve a modicum of real parenting success.
NO idea what the plan of attack is. It will take considerable planning and Napolean-like war strategies. Is it even a winnable war? Are there genuinely courteous & caring boys, teens & young men out there? Feedback is welcome here. . . .
Why I'm Sorry You're Gone, Thor Dog of Thunder
Indeed, Thor has passed. Photos & memorial at AK's Blog. Coming from a puppy farm as he did, he showed several physical symptoms of "bad breeding" like obesity (rare in poodles), bad knees, and the oft-blogged-of anal glands from hell. Perhaps for these reasons he went off the deep end a little earlier than one might expect, and was no longer safe to leave with the rest of the family's pups. I am sure he had a very good 7 years on this Earth, and he could have done much worse by miniature poodle standards. He was very well fed, got exercise, got his tummy rubbed and his brain scratched (that's when you put your knuckle in their ear. It produces eyes-rolling-back-into-their-heads-type joy in poodles) on a daily basis. Whether or not he liked it, he was never lonely and always, in his rare puppy moments, had other puppies with which to play.
I think the Hults who's taking it the hardest is Emily. They were equals in each other's eyes, and since he'd always been there for her I think she saw him much like Ben sees Milo: as another her, a part of her which had always and would always be there. She's skulking a little more. She's more likely to nap near us or touching us, less likely to nap on her own. And I think it's been more than a day since she obnoxiously refused to stop dropping her slobbery ball in my lap, insisting that I play with her. She doesn't bark so much without her favorite little bad influence to mimic, and while I'm sure I'll appreciate the quiet very soon, it's sad today.
I sometimes talk to my father here in the blog so maybe I can talk to Thor as well. If they read blogs in the afterlife, then they probably scratch poodle brains too, and just maybe my old Dad is flanked now by Sam (the silver Miniature I grew up with) and Thor.
Thor, I will miss you . . .
- Because you too were an alpha male. While circumstances never allowed you to realize this part of your nature -- and this was surely a part of your emotional undoing -- I felt this kinship with you. You more than any other dog in this house understood my need to (metaphorically, anyway) bark my presence in this world, mark my territory and protect my pack.
- Because you were the only member of our family with a worse Body Mass Index than me. Now I am unquestionably "the fat one" in the house.
- Because you were a part of my life through so many changes. Like Max, I often looked at you and remembered you in Iowa, or Minnesota, or LA, or in between. You provided me with continuity in reflection and a sense of time & seasons passing.
- Because, on the rare occasions that AK was gone and I was up most of the night hearing every little noise, your snoring was one of the few noises that calmed & reassured me.
- Because you -- again more than any other family member -- could relate to my unreasonable and intense grouchiness during long transitions from sleep to waking.
- Because you were smart. Smarter than the average dog and smarter than Emily. This made training you much more challenging, but I always gave you props for it. Even when you both escaped, Emily was easily duped into capture, and you eluded our every trick -- I found it charming.
- Because you were tough. Never has a smaller dog been more harassed by a bigger dog. Never has a miniature poodle had to sustain such a constant barrage of bullying. But you never ever let her feel like she had you. You stood your ground, snarled & nipped when appropriate, and sometimes even hunched that bitch right back.
Thor Dog of Thunder was a sarcastic joke name, given that he was the most adorable ball of black fluff when we got him. But he did live the life of a Greek god: large, loud and full of drama. Lord over all he surveyed, he lived rich and died young. There's never been a dog quite like our Thor, and we are so lucky to have known him. I imagine Thor Heaven looks a lot like the Black Farm in Indiana, where he can run with no fences, drink from a stream and there's no shortage of, um, organic things for him to sniff, lick and roll around in.
Oh yeah, and in Thor Heaven, EVERY dog is smaller than Thor. :)
When a dog loves a ball. . . .
. . .can't keep her mind on nothin' else. Emily, in this photo, REALLY thinks we should be driving to the dog park.
I suspect that if she had opposable thumbs she'd be driving there herself by the time I got the camera out to document her expression. As you can see, she needs a haircut and resembles a Mongolian camel more than a standard poodle.
Lux While normal orders are slowing down a little (indicating I've finally raised my prices to reflect true market value), this allows me time to a)explore other areas of airbrushing and b)take time & really do unique or higher-quality RC work. These are both good things. Here are photos of Max's TT-01 (how serious can the racing be when the cars have hatchback bodies?) which he has dubbed "Little Lux Lightning" and of another recent TT-01 order. Max's uses really expensive, difficult to paint paints that I needed to experiment with. It gives a hard anodized metal look that you can see in the orange. The tree frog body is something I'd really like to do more of, it's totally outside-the-RC painting-box. Usually outside-the-box doesn't sell, but in this case I have a client who trusts me implicitly and says things like "just go wild, Chris".
Netflix I'm sorry, I couldn't get through Syriana. Like Eternal Sunshine, it took a great deal of faith in the middle of the film, at it's murkiest, that it would all tie together and make sense. I just don't have that kind of effort for a movie right now. Max and I watched "The Life of Mammals" series with David Attenborough (the original Croc Hunter) and Max just loved them. VERY good bit on the Naked Mole Rat, just in case any one reading this remembers anything about Naked Mole Rats. Just yesterday I watched a rare thing: an art flick that, in all of it's artsiness, long expressive headshots and slow pacing, actually manages to make you feel for it's characters and reflect on living in it's world. It's "You, Me and Everyone We Know". It touches on some themes that are taboo in the U.S., like puberty, so it seems to have never made it outside of the film festivals but it did well at those and I can see why. It's main theme, just under the surface (not deep under the surface, no faith or excessive cogitation necessary) is a non-judgemental look at how technology is affecting our relationships. We borrowed Madagascar from the PGMUFCPCC archives, and like many animated films it's better the more you watch it and pick up on the subtleties. Max has been moving around the house like an undercover Penguin operative for the past 3 days.
AK's BLOG has good leaf-raking photos. Our neighbors all curse this chore, and it is one heck of a chore, but it's going to take a few years before I hate it. It's a small price to pay, I figure, for the natural miracle that is Fall Colors. I can see how people take it for granted & I would too if I'd grown up anywhere but in CA, where trees just don't ever DO this. Seasons (which a lot of CA completely lacks) provide a wonderful sense of time and it's passing. Seasons teach us that change is good (this is why Hollywood cranks out sequels & more-of-the-same all the time, they don't have seasons to teach them). Seasons teach us that the passing of time is natural and beautiful (that's why they spend so much on plastic surgery out there, they can't see the beauty in age).
Carpet Racing started Friday night, & Max & I are going again today so he can smash the everloving life & daylights out of the pretty new body I made him. I'm not loving the carpet racing so far, but the indoor off-road track is SO far away. We'll see how the winter plays out. Max is jonesing to get going, I'd better get going.
Pupp Daddy Dog spends his days working as an entrepeneur and as a Dad. He is passionately in love with/obsessively neurotic about his family. Imagine Kicking Bird mixed with Albert Brooks. Oh, and throw in some Notorious B.I.G.
Alaska is the frustrated but caring cat at the center of our canine universe. All of us alternately worship, rely on and ceaselessly whine to her. Her need to control everything is confounded by the fact that she really pretty much does control everything, so in her few free moments, she knits and searches desperately for things to fuss about.
Max is smart and handsome, with a big heart. He is not only growing like a weed, but he has the attention span and concentration abilities of a weed. Despite my best efforts, AK keeps feeding him and he keeps growing. Our plan is to keep him so busy with school, sports & the arts that he won't notice he's a teenager and is supposed to hate us. T minus 2.5 years to teen launch, so far so good.
Ben and Milo are phenomenal little creatures who remind us minute-by-minute not only how little control we have in this world, but why we should cease our controlling efforts and just laugh at all of God's jokes. Lately, Milo likes to dance and is good on the piano. Ben likes to mimic Max and enjoys manipulating adults and anyone else who has no idea how quietly brilliant he is. Both of them would love your full and complete attention. Really, stop reading silly blogs and join the fan club now. Ok? Ok.