A Better Best Day

Sometimes the best days begin with an idea, such as “let’s go to Petoskey to search for Petoskey stones, hike, explore, and celebrate your birthday.” Sometimes the better than best days end with, “You’re our third waitress and we got zero service other than you picking up our dishes.”

Yesterday was a better than best day. We had a potential to travel to Petoskey, roughly 2.5 hours away, to spend the day doing what people do in Petoskey which if you believe the literature is look for rocks on the ground. Fine with us, we like things like that plus roughly half of us have not been to Petoskey.  To make the car trip more bearable for those of us who hate long car trips we decided to stop at quilt shops along the way.

Issue number one, stopping at quilt shops does indeed break up long car trips, but they increase the amount of time spent on the road and cause every almost everyone to want to go quilt shopping instead of traveling another 2 hours to a place we have not been for rocks.

Issue number two, a car full of easily distracted and amused people quickly get derailed by a trout statue. For this year’s C4 we stayed at a hotel in Kalkaska. From the hotel we traveled to C4 and back. We were not aware of the trout statue. In my head there is a statue to honor something, such as the trout who freed Kalkaska from the evil overlord or the trout who gave his life saving orphans from a flood. You know major things that trout can do, not because Kalkaska has a trout fishing day or festival. I like to fish. Fishing is a quiet activity. Where is the festival in that?

Which is how we found ourselves driving through Kalkaska for the second time this year. Being in Kalkaska, passing the hotel, we decided to head into Traverse City. Our logic being:

1.) Closer than Petoskey

2.) A quilt shop nearby

3.) We could walk around downtown on the gorgeous day

4.) Food

The quilt shop Renee’s House of Quilting is HUGE. A lot of quilting shops are tiny and built near a house. This was a HOUSE. Upon entering a lady asked if we had ever visited, we said no. She informed us that there were four rooms full of quilting stuff. This place is awesome especially when compared to other quilting shops. Funny thing is even though Renee’s is larger the atmosphere is the same as smaller shops.

From there we took the birthday woman to Nawbin’s bead shop. Because she used to bead and make her own jewelry.  While there she found a Petoskey stone shaped like Michigan, the kids found various stones, and everyone left happy. Onto the mall.

The mall? Yes, the mall. Why the mall, because someone had not been to the mall. And it was a good thing too. Along the way we found Top Comics Inc. where you can’t park anywhere we could see but inside is a treasure trove of comics. My collection of the New Wolverine is almost complete. But that is not the mall.

At the mall seeking food and fun we found SPONGEBOB. I now have a bright yellow hoodie with Spongebob’s face across the chest. AWESOME! A stop in a Spencer’s gifts for more necessary goods and finally food at Bagger Dave’s where the food was bland, the service horrible, and the management totally uncaring. That did not diminish our day.

Upon arriving at home we started a fire and made great food, built a futon, and enjoyed the rest of the evening.

Holiday Knee Not Writing

Back from break, but not back from break with new material. Hold on, don’t rush to judgment. I spent the holiday exactly like I hoped and wanted, doing nothing related to writing at all.

Barb made a Thanksgiving feast: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, brown-sugar glazed carrots, salad, glazed sweet potato slices, cranberries, apple something or the other (while I cannot remember the name for the life of me it tasted great), and rolls. All made at home, nothing out of a box.

The grandparents and a friend came over on Thanksgiving. A word of advice, if trying to find our place do not use mapquest, you will get very lost. Other than lost, the day was great. The grandparents saw our place, got to listen to the boy play the trombone, eat great food, and listen to our girl discuss her love of birds, her love to catch birds and teach them tricks…mostly pooping in other people’s yards. By the end of the night, everyone was well fed (overfed in several instances), and happy.

The next day, Paul stopped by for a few hours of conversation and more food. Barb made a lot of food. Another overfed instance or two throughout the day while talking about the nature of life, philosophy of the ancients, and how we could become better people. No, we talked about video games, movies and lots of fun things. Our boy did not entertain with the trombone and our girl kept her bird capture and poo plans quiet.

Now, at some point during the weekend I injured my knee. Not the knee on the leg with the ankle Shawn White messed up…okay, Shawn White’s snowboarding game and I must point out, I did win the game…but the other leg. I have no idea what I did, but it hurt a lot. I had to stand to relieve the pain or sit with my leg up. Getting into bed or the car, major pain.

So overfed and knee pain, the rest of the weekend passed watching football, hockey, the occassional food show, although the longer Food TV is on the further away from prompoting food they seem to get and closer to promoting their brand, which seems to be “stars” and crap merchandise. I pulled out the writing a few times, but nothing clicked. Just not the time.

If there is one thing I heed when writing is “not the time” mood. Forcing writing, to me, is worse than not writing at all. I didn’t want to fix forced writing. Thus, I spent until an hour ago, not writing. I thought about writing, particularly how to address a section of the game that gave me problems before the break. And the break worked, today once the writing started, the section flowed.

So here I sit, leg extended, hoping I do not need to get up anytime soon, writing once again. 🙂

Hope everyone had a good holiday.

My Favorite Holiday

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

No other holiday comes close for me.

I enjoy watching the kids open their presents and that really has been my favorite moment of any Christmas, but a day later nothing has changed other than more toys lying about.

New Years was another excuse to party, but those days while not necessarily gone (the party has changed) the situation hasn’t been setup for parties of any kind for a while. Thus New Years is an excuse to…well nothing different at all.

I like my birthday, okay I love my birthday, but retail marginalizes Halloween in ways I cannot stand and with children the day is supposed to be about taking them trick or treating…except we live in a region where the weather is unusually cold, wet, snowy, or a combination of all three.

Thanksgiving regardless of where we live is always good. A day of great food, mediocre television, thank deity for video games and videos. And, when opportunity permits a day with friends and family. It took us a few years to convince people that Thanksgiving would be our day. We would not travel anywhere. Instead people travel to us for great food and companionship.

Our best Thanksgivings, the place where we lived filled with friends. Our worse Thanksgivings, just us. The difference? The volume of noise. Best and worse still ring out strong in my head with fond memories of things I was thankful for that year. Top of the list each year, the people at the table, my family and friends. Without them I would not be the man I am today.

This year is no different. While this year has not gone the way we planned, hoped, ore even expected. There have been more deep downs than exultant highs, this year has been about the people around me. Support, words of encouragement, listening, and all of the other ways people let other people let one another know they care. That is the thing that stands out most to me in the plus column, big and small people I know showing they care.

For those who like lists here is my list of things I am thankful for, off the top of my head.

Friends and family without you I would not be who I am there would be less walls, guidelines, reasons to do more, and fun.

The place we live, after five years of some of the most hellish conditions we have ever been in (and I lived out of a car for a while) this place while not the prettiest on the outside (getting better every month) has been the happiest we have been in a long time. The children play in the yard, doing all of the things children do or used to do-bikes and kites. No longer do they dread going home, they want to come home so they can play outside or inside (really crappy weather today).

Time to do, five years of college lead to a sense of non-stop go-go do and do a lot of things that while in the interest of college were not necessarily of interest to me. Since graduating, I have started to learn to take and make the time to do for me. This change resulted in some changes in…a lot of things, this blog for one thing. Speaking of which, I am thankful for you the reader. Hopefully you are enjoying the change and finding value in what you are reading.

As I said above, this year has not been a good year for us, but we have stuck together persevered and continue to move forward. While my list of things I am thankful is numerically small, it is of great value to me: people, place, time, sense of self-satisfaction and worth. Those are priceless.

Enjoy your holiday, however you celebrate it, take a few moments to think about what you are thankful for and I will see you in a few days with more Puddles and Whiskers among other stories in Stroud. 🙂



This Satisfies My Tummy

HomeIt has been a long time since I have felt like I was being a good parent. Say what you want, but I, in the capacity of parent, have not felt like I am doing my job. Which job, you might be asking? Providing a home for my children where they can do the things that kids do without having to unnecessarily worry about their safety. Our campus home was not safe for children to play.

No one will ever be able to convince me otherwise. Too many years of watching cars race in and out of the court. Too many years of watching parents let their children wander around the court unwatched and watching children get in trouble and injured with no parents around. Too many years of watching the drug dealer operate and grounds destroy what little bit of nature existed around us. Too many years…

Home 2Two days here and I feel better. The children want to go outside. My initial response is NO. That was the only answer on campus housing. Now my answer is YES, with the caveats that they avoid the fire pit and screaming too loudly. They run around as only kids can having fun. It is in a word, amazing to watch. And watch I do, not because I am worried some college fucktard will race across our yard, but because standing outside, something else that was rare before, is fun and feels great.

While the kids play, we continue work on making a home. The kitchen, as I spoke about yesterday, is at a place where I can cook and reorganize at the same time. Today we started work on the laundry room, office/library, and our bedroom began. Barb and our girl installed the washer and dyer, after overcoming the problem of getting three legs of the right size and one way too long. Our boy, ever eager to demonstrate that his is a master builder, has been building ever shelving unit we have. I have to admit, I am impressed. He works fast, asks for assistance when he needs it, and follows the instructions well. All of those years of Legos have paid off.

All in all, pretty good so far. Sure there is a lot of work to do around here, both ours and the relators, but everyone is pulling their weight and then some to make this place a home.

Home 3On our way home with a load of supplies we saw a family restaurant. Best decision of the day to stop in at Sharon’s Country Restaurant. Right down the road from us, from both old and new house, Sharon’s does not standout from the road. If you have a desire for home cooked food, good prices, excellent service, and good portions stop in they are open until 10pm. French Dip made with actual pieces of roast beef, cheese and mushroom omelet huge, and so on. Each meal was delicious. The owner took our order and she is great with kids and parents, showing the kids similar meals to what they wanted that gave them more and cost us less.

This is definitely satisfying our tummies in more way than one. 🙂

I’m So Excited!!!!

The kitchen is open for food.

Boxtopolis continues to fall.

And is there such a thing as a fancy bar?

These questions and many more will or may get addressed in today’s issue of Adventures In Unpacking.

My kitchen is at a state where I can begin to cook regularly. I cannot express how excited and happy this has made me. I could, but I would have to use vulgarity and I am not that guy…oh who am I kidding, I had a full-on Kitchen Works Chubby once the last plate was stacked. Is everything where I want it, not yet but I know where my cooking equipment is, I know where my ingredients are, and best of all I found my spice racks.

Already I am planning the first series of meals. After the obligatory rice will be a dish of cold noodles. Then I want to…oh my I forgot to mention this, my wok. I found my wok, five years in storage because the stove at the college did not work with my wok. This stove, WOKABLE! Wok Chubby!!!! So after the rice and cold noodles, practice my woking skills. I am so excited.

Obviously, Boxtopolis continues be taken down. The kitchen alone was 12 boxes and that does not include the 3 boxes of cookbooks. Next up would be games, but I unpacked many of them first in the hope of gaming this weekend, even thought I only had a place for 5 of them. Which five, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Krosmaster Arena and Quest, Star Wars Rebellion, Rivet Wars, and Munchkin, of course. 🙂 With the kitchen table assembled we have a place to eat and game.

In a few moments I will start unpacking books and putting them on shelves. This will clear space for me to start working. Remember back when I graduated and had goals? Yeah, I don’t remember that time either. Yet, I am told I had goals as such, once the books are on shelves there will be space enough for me to put in a desk and start…what is it I do again?


Are you sure?

Why that degree does include the word write. Hmmm…I will have to take your word.

Food, Games, and some life. Sounds like things are heading towards center again. As part of that process, it took two days of sweltering muggy heat to figure out how to cool this place out. When hot and muggy apply fans is usually the answer, but that made things worse. Today, I turned the fans around, so that they sucked the air out, after I woke up from passing out from holding my breath (I didn’t want to assfixIate), I immediately noticed home is much cooler. Ahhhh.

Lastly, a friend of ours has been invited to go to a fancy bar while on vacation. The friend has no idea what a fancy bar is. I tried to explain that fancy bar was code for either place with boobs and wings or wings and banana hammocks. Our friend insists that the person who invited them to the fancy bar would not go to a place with wings. So I ask, is there such a thing as a fancy bar? Lets ask The Todd from Scrubs.



The Fall of Boxtopolis

Good morning.

Another gorgeous morning…with the exception of the fan hitting the floor and the sunlight streaming through the one crack in the blinds straight into my eyes and brain…those are minor things, its a good morning. One last day to clean up the old place and then like every other place I have ever lived, I will forget the address and move on. 🙂

Here, it is one box at a time. Despite labels, admittedly I got lazier and lazier with labels as the packing stretched onto the horizon, there have been many “what the…?!” moments unpacking. I finally found the dishes, in a box labeled, “kitchen stuff.” At least the box labeled, “spices duh” had spices, but no spice rack. Ugh!

I am up and running as far as being online and being able to start writing. An awesome component of this place, I have a space to write in. Yes, my own space. There is a window to look out on days when I am stuck or it is too cold to sit outside and write. There is no door, but I don’t care because there is more than enough space for all of my books, which has not happened for a long time. Of course I need some bookshelves first…which box were they in?

Overall, everyone is happier here. Now I know this will change with time as everyone moves from “must leave here” into “now that we are here.” But for right now, even as Boxtopolis is being torn down and nobody understands my box labeling system (not even me), we are happier. We stand on our deck and marvel at how different it feels to have a yard. The kids spend time outside.

My only concern now when they step outside is which one will fall down running around. No more worries about some fucktard speeding through the court. Hell, none of the bullshit involving the court at all. I look out any window and I see signs of nature before I see a road or car. Yesterday and today while putting away mislabeled boxes of “kitchen stuff,” I watched birds hopping around on the trees, doing bird things.

First meal, mac-n-cheese…out of a box. Actually, the first meal was the steak and corn cooked on the grill, but I did not cook that, I was moving stuff. So, mac-n-cheese was the first thing I cooked here. When I find the rice, I am cooking a large batch. Time to get this place smelling like good food. Good food means home and nobody is hungry.

Games, at least those we play and those we want to start playing have been found and unpacked. This weekend should see some game play for the first time in several months. I know it will because everyone is chomping at the bit. I have not had helpers unpacking dishes, but I had several helpers unpacking the four Pathfinder Adventure Card Game boxes. We do have our priorities around here.