I Dream Of A Great Feast, First Though…

“He’d noticed that sex bore some resemblance to cookery: it fascinated people, they sometimes bought books full of complicated recipes and interesting pictures, and sometimes when they were really hungry they created vast banquets in their imagination – but at the end of the day they’d settle quite happily for egg and chips. If it was well done and maybe had a slice of tomato.”

-Terry Pratchett

Thank you for indulging my need to not write here every day. I say thank you because in spite or despite of my lack of continual writing people still visit in the numbers they did when I posted every day. That says a lot to me.

The last ingredients for Thanksgiving were purchased today. We are ready to begin cooking. Normally I would not say we I would say Barb is ready to cook, as Thanksgiving is the one day of the year where she cooks and only she cooks. There are several famous helper “incidents” that I could tell you about; cutting to the end of each, “She yelled at me because I didn’t do X Y or Z.” Unfortunately due to a conflux of events she may need/want help in the kitchen this time.

Event 1, she has a cold or at least sounds like she has a cold…she says she feels fine despite a cough that wakes the dead (read me)…sick people (or not) need a hand, thus she may have a helper

Event 2, her work schedule…being a pharmacist does not leave a lot (read any) free time around the holidays when you are the new person on the block…funny new is a relative term, seems pharmacists stay for long times making seniority something measured in decades…unlike previous years she has one day for prep instead of few days, thus she may have a helper

Event 3, mouse season, this has nothing to do with cooking, but cleaning. Seems in   there is such a thing as mouse season, we have gotten several independent references to the time of year when the weather turns cold and filed mice look for places to hide…they found our place

I declared WAR! Turned our house into deathtrap dungeon and instituted a strict policy of cleanliness. Not that we were dirty people, but with four people messes happen, and with one primary cleaner (me) some messes lasted longer than necessary. Not anymore. Knock on wood my war is being won and with the timely assistance of at least one if not two feral cats we have not seen a mouse for several weeks. Vigilance remains the word though, which means Barb will have at least one dishwasher in the kitchen with her at all times cleaning as she uses cookware. Hardly ideal, I already have a rotation worked out for those too “stressed” by her potential “yelling about X Y or Z.”

We shall see.

What I do know is that Barb’s Thanksgiving meals are looked forward to each year by everyone who has ever had the pleasure of being at our table. We like to have as many people over as possible, although there are times the numbers are not as large as we hope, the dream is to have everyone over once a year for a great feast.

“I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.”

-Jon Stewart


A Little Nate Inside You

I promise this isn’t self-erotica…wait that would be masturbation and this will be a form of masturbation and with that sentence at least half my audience has left and with that sentence I may have proven or started to prove why everyone needs a Little Nate inside of them.

Or maybe not.

We shall see.

People who have known me for a long time (we are speaking long time in human terms not geologically speaking) have at one time or another told me a story where at some point…

“And I heard your voice (or could see what you would do)…and I did the opposite (or did not do what Little Nate said).”

Perhaps you know someone like me who speaks his or her mind (opinionated, judgmental, asshole), is blunt (rude, tactless), and has no problem saying those things that you are thinking (horrifying, embarrassing, funny). If so you are a lucky individual indeed (in my opinion), because most people will not share what they really think. I like that level of honesty, even when directed at me. I understand that most people do not.

Having an uninhibited nature to do new things or behave in a manner not consistent with societal expectations, witness the way I dress, helps a lot. Suffice to say, you cannot take me out in public without something happening. And I am okay with that.

Why am I okay with that, because for me this works. Even when the shit hits the fan, my way of living works…for me. Smart people do not try to be me. What I do works for me because I am me. Not so smart people, try to do what I do in word and deed and get into a lot of trouble. They do not have a Little Nate inside of them, they have rejected the lessons that can be learned.

tyler_durden_airplane-sceneAccept the lessons of me through the process of internalization; put a little Nate inside of you…and do not do what Little Nate says he would do. Little Nate is not the devil on the shoulder, that devil is your own impulses. Little Nate is a step beyond that, a metaphorical Tyler Durden, if you will. The way you would like to react if you could get away with it.

Little Nate will get you into trouble.

How do you get your own Little Nate? You manage to survive around me for several years. This is not easy. I am not an easy individual. I am fine with that. One day you will be fine with that, especially when you hear Little Nate tell  you how he would handle the situation you find yourself in and you smile and do the right thing.

I have my own Little Nate…wait…no, that works too…sometimes I find ignoring my own voice hard and…you know this has crossed over into self-erotica. To those friends and family who have a Little Nate inside them, thank you for sticking around and keep on ignoring Little Nate as this Nate will get you in more than enough “trouble.”

And now for a picture of a house with a pole in it.



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. 🙂



Our Day In Photo

When life takes a dump on us, we wipe off the dump and find the best possible outcome. Today was a good sized dump. Cleaned, we went to lunch with good friend Paul Zube who put a smile on our faces and laughter in our hearts. Not willing to let the sunshine, cooler temps, and white clouds go to waste we wrapped up the last of the wiping and headed out of town.

A spur of the moment decision found us in Newaygo again instead of Grand Rapids. I can’t tell you why I decided mid-trip to detour to Newaygo, but I did and I am glad that I did. Bay Leaf Books never fails to put a smile on the face, but the real surprise was Fired Up Clay Arts Studio. Unfortunately for them they are going out of business. Fortunately for us and them I wandered in.

I have a fondness in my heart for local businesses going under and art. We spoke with one of the business owners and artists for about an hour. Color blind he painted broken masks with beautiful designs in black and white. He talked to us about art, he is an artist and I am a writer. We both marveled at the art that the other produced. At the end of our conversation, we left with a really nice selection of handcrafted art. Small moments like that put a smile on my face for a while. The business may be gone but the conversation will live on.

Hungry we hit Newaygo Brewing Company for four pizzas. I know I have written about Newaygo Brewing Company before and I stand by my assertation, best damn pizza in the region. We pigged out on a BBQ chicken pizza, BBQ pulled pork pizza, a four meat pizza, and a Mediterranean pizza. Not much better than sharing food with friends, thus we ended the day as we began it…after the huge dump.

Here are some photos from our day.

Newaygo 1 Newaygo 2 Newaygo 3 Newaygo 4 Newaygo 5 Newaygo 6 Newaygo 7 Newaygo 8

Priorities and Perspective

There are times when you drop what you are doing and do something. Today was one of those days. Big Man, a long time friend who was in state because of a death in the family, let me know he was returning home much earlier than expected. Thankfully, timing worked out in our favor. We were able to drive down to meet with him and his wife for a much longer and more satisfying visit than our meeting a few weeks ago.

Today was one of those days that puts things in perspective and allows a person to look at their priorities. I wasn’t sure how out of whack mine were getting. For me, there has been this overwhelming sense that a large portion of life is out of my control and when that happens I tend to overcompensate the other way, to create some sense of control. So far as I can tell that overcompensation has not occurred.

I am thankful for that. Everything we have been doing has been thought out. Sometimes over thought out. While there have been some hurt feelings, nothing has been malicious or because I/we have acted without thought in an attempt to gain some semblance of control. In the past, I would have lashed out at anyone and anything around me in an attempt to feel in control. Maybe age. Maybe experience. Probably a bit of both. We have weathered uncertainty before, maybe not on the scale of this home issue, but in the past when faced with uncertainty we acted. Often just to feel like we were doing something. Not so much now.

So while today initially seemed to be built solely on reacting to various stimuli from people, today was well thought out. In the case of Big Man, he has been my best friend for a long time and he means a lot to me. Thus, it was important to move heaven and earth to make every effort I could to see him. However, it was also important to me that I keep a previous plan with Paul without disrupting those plans.

With some thought, a little luck (Barb’s day off), I/we were able to do both. A pleasant lunch with Paul with the entire family who have been dying to see him and then onto the road. Several hours, one small flurry-the disappointing McDonalds things* (children needed to use the bathroom)-and a whole lot of construction later we had pleasant dinner and said our “see you laters” (with plans to visit them when they get back to Utah).

In the past, we would have done all of this and a whole bunch of other stuff, usually spending money we didn’t have in an effort to feel in control and soothe our battered sense of being. Taking a breath, analyzing the situation, and looking down the road is something new for us during times like this. Visiting with friends new and old helped put priorities and perspective on our situation. Not bad for a day.

* If you have to choose between McDonalds and Burger King for ice-milk deserts, go with Burger King. Why? Cheaper and larger. For the $8 I spent at McDonalds I would have been able to feed four more people and have some pocket change left over at Burger King. Note, I am not espousing their food, just their ice-milk treats…sorry ice-cream (ha).

500 Words At A Time: The Same

The end is in sight and on a calendar as well. The question has popped up, “What would I do the same, if I had to do this college experience all over again?” This question has a flip side of “What would I do differently?” and that is how I am approaching this topic, because there are things I would do exactly the same way or at least in a similar fashion. Those things I would do differently, in another 500 Words. 🙂

Program: I would choose the same program, Technical-Professional Communications. The English degree at Ferris is closer to a Literature degree and I like to write. The skills I learned, adjusted, refined, and defined took me from someone who knew enough to be dangerous to myself to someone who can craft many kinds of documents for a variety of audiences. I have seen these skills put into action and the results amaze and please me greatly, and those people who get better grades because of my assistance.

Family First: I would not change my attitude of family first. I missed many classes due to family and while it caused me some issues here and there, I am glad that I put them first. Choosing family over school is a choice that most students will not have to make, but if you do let your professors know up front. They will (or should) appreciate your honesty and if they have children understand your position. College will take a lot from you, try to lessen that impact upon your family where you can.

Grades: I did not care about my grades as many a professor learned. Passing or failing were not things that concerned me, other than for my own sense of satisfaction. I went into re-college as a lark and ended up taking classes very seriously, but at no time did I fret over my grades. A letter is just that a letter. What I learned is more important. I can tell and show you what I learned. A grade is only a letter.

Home: This will show up on the other post as well. Living on campus had several benefits. The best was centralized location. From our home we could walk to main campus, take the kids to school, and grocery shop. Having a roof over our heads that we didn’t have to worry too much about was nice as well. The neighbors for the most part were also good; our girl made her first real friend here and we got to know a few families before they moved.

Friends: I did not make a lot of friends, but the friends I did make I value. I would not change this. Being an older individual, even an outlier such as I, made friendships and relationships with fellow students difficult at times. Older individuals doing the college or re-college thing will have to make up their own mind about making friends with fellow students. I do highly recommend, regardless of age, making friends or at least acquaintances with professors. There are many opportunities and benefits to having a professor as an acquaintance. Many more as a friend.

The list of things I would keep the same may not seem that large, but they are all keystone things that without them I would not have ended up where I ended up and I am happy with this current final destination.