Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sign #148 that the world is coming to an end:

There was a time when I had a little respect for this guy...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What goes on four legs in the morning? Or...thoughts on death and baby's first steps

The ancient sphinx used to sit on its haunches outside Thebes twirling a bone between its teeth and waiting for travelers to pass under her long, winged shadow. Those who were unfortunate enough to cross her path were forced to answer a riddle, and those who failed to provide an acceptable answer were eaten, end of discussion--literally.

The riddle goes like this...

What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening?
Apparently, until Oedipus came along, the sphinx had, with this one sad riddle, lived nicely on a steady diet of not-so-clever Grecians, or, as I like to think of it, incredulous Grecians who didn't like the premise of the riddle to begin with and who refused to participate on principle and ended up dying for a set of convictions that would have made any 21st century PhD in English proud?

I mean, really, is it fair to expect a Grecian traveler to surmise that "morning, noon, and evening" are metaphors, especially when they're staring down the business end of winged cat-bird with a woman's face and a well-documented taste for human flesh, her breath wreaking of falafel, man sweat, and sandal leather?

No. It's not. But what really bugs me is that this scene is the most famous riddle scene in all of Western literature (I honestly can't think of any others, can you?), and the riddle is...well...lame.

Still, its what I thought of yesterday when I took this video:

I said something to the QB about how we all start and end life in the same way, and I thought to myself about how a child's first steps are charged with hope and anticipation and excitement (and dad and mom speaking in rather silly voices), and how none of that accompanies the slow, hobbled, steps of an old woman maneuvering her walker around the edge of her single-size bed that sits tucked in the corner of her care-center-studio-apartment like some over-sized pharmaceutical tablet--her frail hips one false-step away from cracking like a spent robin egg lying in the grass underfoot.

The first step and the last, life's genesis and its coda--this is what they mean when they say life can flash before your eyes--that I can see my ailing grandmothers in the sweet steps of my youngest child, and that in both images, I ultimately see myself.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Daily Snippet

I find I have less time for the blog than I'd like. But I don't want to say "forget it". So here's a daily snippet, the first of many (or at least a few more maybe).

2:07pm Wednesday
I'm on the couch in the family room with the laptop. Little Bruiser is asleep, The Monkey is outside playing in the warm sunshine (I know you're thinking it's cold and it's January! Oh yeah, we live in Lubbock, with only tiny pockets of actual winter, so it's probably nearly 60 outside) Mr. Baseball is at school and so is the Student, but only until 3:30 when they'll both come home and I'll finally go work out. I feel gross because I didn't shower since I'm working out at 4pm instead of 6:30 am when I didn't want to get out of bed this morning.

I'm trying to narrow down which books to recommend at Book Club on Friday night. Here's what
s running in my head:
"So many I want to read, but aren't they supposed to be ones I've read and can recommend? I like this particular one, haven't read it, but the student says it's good. Wait. Are all these books things I would recommend or The Student's recommendations? Does it matter? Will they think I don't have my own taste in books? What if nobody wants to read these books, oh but I'm sure some of them will. I'm sure everyone will love this one. And I have read parts of it. But it's the same type of book as that other one." etc.

And while I'm thinking this I look at the mess on the floor I should be cleaning up, specifically:
today's newspaper
a load of laundry in a new storage bin (because we only have 1 laundry basket)
plastic blocks
empty smoothie cup
stack of BirthWorks papers and books
my purse
the telephone
Mr. Baseball's old stuffed dog that needs a permanent keepsake place
2 empty boxes

Not sure what we're having for dinner, but I should probably get on that since I'll be working out during dinner-making-hour.

2:27pm. It really took me 20 minutes to write this? It will be shorter next time.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Have you heard of Wordle?

So, I published an essay in this online journal a few months ago all about my decision to go by "Joey," instead of Joseph, and today I pasted the entire essay into this geeky cool site called, and came up with this:

Wordle: Call me Joey no. 2

The site sorts all the words in the essay and then displays them graphically according to their frequency within the essay. Pretty cool. Here's one of the declaration of Independence:

Wordle: Declaration of Independence

And here is the Sermon on the Mount:

Wordle: Beattitudes

and the lyrics to "YMCA":

Wordle: YMCA

So, I know Wordle has been around a long time, but its fun, and I like the idea of words speaking for themselves in a way that's not possible through a simple reading.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

a year of projects and great finds

It has been a year of home improvement projects and great finds off of Craigslist, garage sales, alley ways, and thrift stores. Slowly, we're piecing together a comfortable home, and we're grateful for how much we've been able to do on our budget.

This is the QB's Christmas present--a tv stand to hide all the wires and loose ends that the Little Bruiser likes to play with so much. Inspiration for the project courtesy Ana White, though the design is more or less my own. the cabinet is made almost entirely of scrap wood and spare hardware we had lying around the shed, and the paint is left over from a project we never started back in Ohio.

"You'll shoot your eye out"
When Mr. Baseball fashioned a toy wooden rifle out of a splintered old fence board in the backyard, I knew it was time to do something about his lack of toy firearms. I made these two wooden rifles out of scrap 3/4 inch plywood and sawed-off broom handles. The paint is from a garage sale and the design is from my noggin (with a few looks at some wooden rifles available online).

I did not build this ark (though I wish I had), but I did fix a few broken hinges and the QB and I stayed up late one night repainting all the animals from this garage-sale find.

Perhaps our most exciting Craigslist find. We've been talking about getting a piano for years, and we've been talking in earnest since Mr. Baseball started piano lessons in September. Its a 100-year-old Shoninger and it plays really well ( a little tinny, but considering the student who sold it to us let us have it for $25, we can't complain).

I built these shelves (there are two of them, plus the computer desk I'm typing at right now) last Christmas break, but they still haven't gotten any primer or paint. However, for Christmas this year, the QB got me a spray gun and I borrowed an air compressor, so tomorrow, I'm going to finally finish the job.

The find our boys are most excited about is the Wii. Santa brought it, despite my insistence to Mr. Baseball that Santa would not be bringing any such thing (and he wouldn't have if one of the Wal-Marts in town hadn't been practically giving them away during a special, unadvertised promotion that sent me speeding down the highway on a race to pick one up--a rare moment of impulse Christmas shopping that I neither regret nor wish to repeat any time soon.)

And finally, here's the kitchen table I refinished last May. It was a pealing and shabby garage sale find in Ohio, and we've been meaning to refinish it for a long time, but we finally got to it . The boys helped me sand down the chairs and the top coat of the table only took two tries (after putting on two coats, the finish began to blister and I had to start over completely.)

Crazy December

We've been so busy lately (and by lately, I mean the past year and a half) that we've done little more than report on events, upload a few photos and add a few captions, with little time for rumination on this long-term project of parenthood that seems to have caught the wind and is coursing out ahead of us faster than we can spool out line to keep it up in the air (eh...that metaphor is almost doing what I want it to, but its nearly 11pm and I'm going to leave it at that). I'm afraid tonight won't be much different, but perhaps its an observation in itself that ruminating about a lack of time to ruminate is about as deep as it gets sometimes (most times) as a parent. Though, I'm not sure that's entirely a bad thing. Hindsight enjoys a little more distance from its subjects than I typically want to give it, and perhaps the rumination on months like this will come later. In the meantime, we've got pictures.

Like this one, of the little bruiser, whose crawling so fast now all we usually get is a blur of fleece pajamas and the residual smell of mashed pees and diaper ointment.

And this one, of the boys and some friends who came over to make gingerbread houses (graham cracker, really) a week or so before Christmas.

Everything worked out...the frosting was thick enough, the crackers didn't break, the kids actually put more candy on the houses than in their stomachs. No tears, no fights, no "why did we do this again," moments from any of the adults involved. It was magical.

We even managed to have a real formal Thanksgiving dinner with our friends, the Grovers. We thought we would be eating alone (all four of the families we invited had sick kids or plans or t travel that kept them from coming), but bad Utah weather ended up keeping them from traveling and so they joined us for dinner. There were four adults and three little kids and we had enough food to feed four times that many (including four pies. There would have been three, but about two hours before dinner was supposed to start, I realized there was no chocolate planned for dessert, so I put together this chocolate cream pie!)

On Christmas Eve we went to the Mall. Yeah, I know. Crazy. But we got there right around 9 AM when they opened and the place was empty enough to get through the Santa line in about 5 minutes and have plenty of time and elbow room to romp around on the indoor play structure (for which Mr. Baseball is hopelessly too tall, but as we were all but alone there, we figured he'd be okay as long as he didn't jump too much). rumination necessary....they're grand!

A rare cold moment this December. We've spent so much time together the past few weeks, working and playing and getting ready for Christmas. We were very sad to not see any family, though, and it made us appreciate the distance that really does separate us from those we care most about. Texas never feels larger than when we imagine traveling to visit our parents and siblings.