Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Last week was all about preparations for The Klondike Derby. The Klondike Derby is a wintertime Boy Scout tradition here, and I understand there are similar events in other snowy places. As much as I am just now recovering from all the preparations and of course the event itself, I have to admit it's a blessing. We just. Can't. Do. Any of the normal Scout program stuff until the damn sun comes out again. There is only so much First Aid and knots for the boys to study. They need to camp. They need to orienteer. They need to swim.

Saturday was the big day, and we were so fortunate to actually have SNOW for the derby. You want snow, see, because each team (ours was in the older "Iditarod" division had 3 11 year old Boy Scouts and 2 10 year old Cub Scout Webelos) has to transport all of their needs for the day in a sled on skis. Most are really dogsled-like in their design. Fortunately ours was the smaller box-on-skis design and a little lighter. All the teams come up with names and decorate their sleds, then compete for points by going to 10 different stations around the scout camp and doing scouty things. They cook, they do first aid, they do reading and attend a history lecture, they shoot (ACK!) rifles/shotguns/bows, take edible plant ID quizzes, etc. . . .

We learned the names of the other two (older boy) teams from our Troop were "The Chuck Norris Rebellion" and "The Bloodsucking Bunnies". This inspired the boys to name themselves "The Aztec Platypii", so I helped them decorate their sled to look like an actual platypus with fur and a flipper tail and webbed flippers. No duckbill unfortunately (how would YOU simulate a giant black duckbill on a sled?) so it tended to look like a flippered wolf spider from the front. But that was not an issue since the tail and most of the flippers were trounced/amputated not far into the event. They did a lot of work to color in their flag, my best sketch of what an Aztec platypus might look like, and Max was the brave Scout who volunteered to sew the velcro on the fur with a sewing machine.

There were highlights and lowlights for the boys. The highlight I think was when they got to shoot real guns. I'm a little conflicted about this, but didn't have much choice but to go along with it. I respect that for most of the country guns mean sporting and food and male bonding. I respect that no one else around here grew up thinking guns were for PEOPLE and caused death and loss and heartache. So when in Rome, we let kids fire rifles and shotguns I guess. 2 of my 5 actually hit their rifle targets. Poor Max kept steaming up his safety glasses and never could see what the heck he was shooting at. But then they went to the skeet shoot, where mostly kids shot in the general direction of flourescent orange flying discs. Then the kids mostly reeled in pain and amazement from the gun kicking them in the arm or shoulder. But (literally) blind luck was with Max. Max only generally aimed at the skeet, he later told me, counting on the fact I shared with him that if he shot at the height of it's arc he'd have a better chance. His eyes were closed, he didn't even see it shatter. But shatter it did, to the oohs and aahs of many scouts who were bored of watching the skeets fall intact back to the ground. Here I think he just fired . .

The lowlight was easily the cooking station. I'd prepared them as much as possible and they'd done much of the preparations and planning. And I'd warned them that I would NOT be leading them but standing back to watch. That's the Scout way, to let the Scouts lead the Scouts. My job is to support them in learning leadership. But in truth it's an awful lot to orchestrate for 11 year olds. Especially 11 year olds who have led relatively easy lives and are only as mature as they've each deemed necessary to get their everchanging needs met. So it was a disaster. And I let it be. And I felt embarassed as the "coach" who graded them watched over the bumbling, confusion and frustration of the boys. But my thinking was: they have many camp trips (at least 2 this Summer) and Klondikes ahead of them. Now is as good a time as any -- with someone watching and grading them, and with hungry tummies and limited time -- to learn WHY they should do twice the planning and preparation next time. I don't think I'll need to harass them next time to plan out exactly who will do what and how and in what sequence.

Tired but with tummies full of adventure we all crawled home from Klondike. I still have a beat-up sled full of dirty dishes and half-covered in cheap brown fur in my garage. But hopefully someone I know or someone I don't will somehow do something about it or steal it or something or something.

It's just inside the garage door.

The garage is unlocked.

In case you're, you know, somebody or something.



Saturday, January 19, 2008

My Wife Is Funny.

We went on a date tonight. After a Mexican dinner, nothing says I love you like trips to Michaels for airbrush paints and then to Wegmans for broth and a pound of beef. No? In line, I spy this. . .

. . .and say "hey look. Candy. Looks like rocks". Alaska says "Yeah. I thought they were rocks". Then (and she tells me this is a symptom of mania, and I should be concerned about it, her habit of constantly reciting song lyrics, but mostly it just annoys me. . . .) she says "Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got".

:) And then I loved her a little more for being as quietly clever as she is cute.

And then I told her joke to the checkout girl.

And then the checkout girl giggled and no doubt wondered to herself if the weird middle-aged people were up past their bedtimes or forgot their meds or were just suffering from that heinous, incurable disease called AGE.

Mostly today I painted. Still I only got two bodies done. Two of the four that are due. Four of the umptynine shizzlemillion that are on the Lux Graphics website queue. Aside: I don't know anyone who casually -- let alone correctly -- uses the word queue in conversation. I know it's an English thing. Mostly I just like to type it. Queue. I sound it out "KYOO-YOO" in my mind while typing. It's like the street I have to turn on to get to work: Presque Isle Street. It's pronounced PRESK ILE by the natives. But there were too many letters in it, and they're squished together on the sign so it not only looks like one word "PRESQUEISLE" but it looks like it should be prnounced PREE SQUEEZLE. So I use every imaginable opportunity to say PREESQUEEZLE. Try it! PREESQUEEZLE. It's the squeezle right before the primary squeezle.

YES today I painted. AK and Max went to the ski place so Max could ski on his skis and use the 1.3 billion dollar ski pass AK bought him for the Winter. Ben played Pokemon Colloseum, because he's big enough to play a Max game like that. . .

Milo mostly read. That there is a collection of Far Side cartoons. Does that count as reading?

Note to self: The reason those pajama pants were on top of the dresser last night was probably to set them apart from the pajama pants that FIT the boys. Those look like pajama bermudas. But you can see a warm "yarny sock" so at least his knees AND ankles were warm. If not the shins between.



Friday, January 18, 2008

It's a Matter of Toast

Last night rocked :)

I splurged recently. I was sitting in an airport last week, thinking how great it is that I really don't spend much time anymore sitting in airports, and missing my boys. I read a copy of "Town and Gown" a State College lifestyle magazine, and saw an ad for "Movin' Out". This is a Broadway "rock ballet" combining the works of Billy Joel with the choreography of Twyla Tharp. It won some Tonys when new, and is now making the rounds to places as geographically-obscure-yet-culturally-aware as State College PA.

Max. Loves. Billy Joel. He asked for Billy Joel songs on his iPod way before he asked for Earth Wind & Fire or Stevie Wonder songs on his iPod. He likes "We Didn't Start the Fire" and "Pressure" and "I'ts Still Rock & Roll To Me". So I bucked up and paid as much as anyone has probably ever paid for tickets to a show in State College PA. He's very excited, so we watched our Billy Joel music video collection last night in my workshop as I worked on Lux stuff. Ben and Milo, being Max'netic, settled in to watch the "movies of music". Ben was happy to sit and be erapt, no doubt because this is what Max was doing. But Milo.



I mean out. Literally. As in unconscious. From the twirls and leaps and spins that threw him to the floor (concrete garage floor with only in/outdoor carpet) on 4 out of 5 times. But he dug the tunes, he heard the rythms and the emotion and he just sensed on a very deep level that this was something you were supposed to move around to. Out of breath, after a particularly rigorous climax at the end of the song "Matter Of Trust", he panted. . .

"It's a matter of TOAST???"



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.








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