Lost Time Smells Funny

A wise man once said, “Oh crap, where did the time go!”

That wise man was not me. I am the guy who not only forgot where the time went, but kept on going until someone said, “Hey, you not so wise man, you have something you should be doing!”

I replied, “The lawn looks fine.”

And the lawn does look fine. I mean the lawn could use a mow, just the back forty, but honestly I don’t mind the grass being a bit long and the longer the weeds and grass grow in the fire pit the more likely the next year the fire pit will be filed with…grass and weeds. Not exactly my best plan, but a start of potential…yep I planned on the weeds and grass and got a fire pit filled with weeds and grass.

And that is how I found myself in a car on the way to Grand Rapids to take care of a day of fun and business. What is fun and business in Grand Rapids? A trip to the same five or six store that we always go to. Sorry we are not those people who do exciting things in Grand Rapids. Honestly the town or city for those of you who are big on specifics drives me NUTS. Too many damn people, in too small of a space. City sized be damned! Why are all of the people where I want to go or in the way of me going where I want to go unless I wanted to get some food then there is no one around.

Why! I say why was Denny’s understaffed during the lunch rush so much that we stood there, a group of starving forelorn looking individuals who only wanted to spend money on food, for two passes of a haggard waitress who only had one line of dialog, “HODOR!”

Oops wrong film.

Her line was, “Sorry, someone will be with you soon.”

Why no you? We are good tippers. We are hungry. What is soon? Soon is too abstract of a concept, yet abstract enough that we allowed her to say it to us twice and a bunch of new people once before we took off for some other place that served food…sadly that was Burger King where…

the main dinning room smelled funny and the kids playroom smelled great. How do I know what a Burger King should smell like, I worked at several for two years and we have one in Big Rapids that smells of old fryer oil, sadness, desperation, and FEET and that is the main area. The kids area smells of sadness, feet, and pee. Thus this Burger King in Grand Rapids smelled of the same unless you were in the kids play area like we were. Stare all you want, I prefer to eat in relative quiet and not around smells that make me wonder why the mohawked manager was not doing her job and how the staff would react to me taking charge.

Which is how we ended up at home with a bag of glow in the dark rocks, some frames, some miniatures, and a few books to read. 🙂


Unfinished Summer Bucket List

I could tell you all of the things we have done this summer as part of a “How We Spent Our Summer” post, but if you are a regular reader and you are a regular reader, right? If not become a regular reader. 🙂 Since I routine chronicle what we have done how about something different the things we have not done. No, not in a depressing or complaining way at all…I hope.

At the start of the summer each of us made a bucket list of things we wanted to do by the end of summer; end of summer as defined by kids in school not by the end of the season. Try as we might some things have not gotten done…yet…there are plenty of summers ahead.

  1. Top of everyone’s bucket list, a trip to the beach. Given that the state is surrounded by water, most of it at least, going to the beach, any beach would seem to be a no brainer. Unfortunately due to a combination of weather and work schedules we have yet to go. In a way its funny because on Barb’s days off we either have something that needs to get done or the weather has not cooperated, cold temperatures or rain.
  2. Related to the beach, kayaking and canoeing. Neither on my list, but on most everyone else’s list. Seems one or two experiences in a kayak or canoe caught their interest. Like the beach above…in fact the beach above is why.
  3. Visit each of the Great Lakes, this was mine as part of a travel around the state idea, something I hope we can do. I thought it would be fun to see each of the lakes and along the way go to places we have not been. Problem is that we do not like long car trips or maybe more correctly, we are easily distracted and tend to stop in places, find a bunch of stuff to do and then instead of traveling on we head home.
  4. Fishing. Our girl wants to fish. I like to fish or at least I like to toss a line in and read a book or write. I have no idea why we haven’t done this, there is a bridge near our place where people routinely fish off of day and night.
  5. Visit a few local comic cons. Before the summer started we found as many small, local, single or weekend comic cons as we could. Then as the summer unfolded we discovered that some of them were further away than we thought, our bad for not researching the location, but more than a few were more expensive to get into that three days at Motor City.  On the plus side in a few months a couple of larger cons arrive.

Not bad for the top five things we have not done this summer and there are a few more weeks to go. Hopefully schedules and weather cooperate so we can go to a beach before the kids go back to school.


Summer Vacation Nearing The End

School for the children is soon and I am looking forward to them going back to school. I say that now and I know that a few months after Christmas I will once again complain that the children are not getting enough time to be children and play games with the family. However, that being said, right now I am close to being very over summer vacation.

I figured once I graduated I would have all the time in the world to write and in a way I do. Unless you count the children who have a very nasty and irritating habit of interrupting my writing time, unless I am working on a blog such as this one. Seems they no problem letting me write about them, parenting, games, and life. But the second I even think about writing Puddles and Whiskers or anything that requires thought and potential they have something that needs my attention or a distraction or…fuck all just being kids.

Any guess what time of day or night I write Puddles and Whiskers? Your guess and the actual time may explain a few things about Puddles and Whiskers drafts that appear here. I’ll wait while you guess…




Who said 1am?


If you guessed 1am you are correct and you have an idea why sometimes Puddles and Whiskers was written by a very tired individual. Unfortunately that is my time to write anything serious while they are on summer vacation and I have had about enough.

Other than the writing, fighting, work ethic (currently our boy only, hopefully not infectious), and general inability to entertain themselves as much as I would like I love having the kids home. The amount of fun we have had between the above list 🙂 is staggering. Summer vacation, at least this one, has been busy doing stuff we as a family have not been able to do for over a decade and watching them grow is amazing.

When we first moved in, late last August, we got to see a hint of what they would do with almost 2 acres. This summer more bike riding, more running around, toss in a sprinkler-the fun they have had with spraying water was worth the price of the sprinkler-attempting to fly kites, attempting to fly a drone, driving a remote controlled truck, disc golf, frisbee (NOT disc golf as our girl routinely “yells” at me), discovering what is at the center of a golf ball, the various bugs, bird feeder, chipmunks, and everything else not on the list.

They took to outside and have not looked back, for the most part. Until last year they never had a yard to do anything in and right after we moved in they went to school, thus play time outside very limited. Which why other than my very small list of complaints and who doesn’t like to read the adventures of two cats written by someone at 1 am this summer vacation has been one of the best times of this parent’s life.

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.

It’s Got Skulls On It

There is something about me, the way I dress, the way I speak, the way I act that seems to push people in certain directions when interacting with me, especially if they do not know me…say in a customer service roll. I don’t mind, but I do find the interactions difficult to slog through or circumvent.

On our epic road trip to quilting stores around Michigan to collect rows for the Row by Row event. Row by Row, as we learned from Barb who stumbled upon the event, is a yearly event held by quilting/yarn/etc. all stores. Each store has a pattern for a row for a quilt. Each row is unique to that store. Collect 8 or 9 rows, make the full quilt and return to one of the stores to win a prize. Some stores have patterns for kids to do.

We do not quilt. We do like to travel to places around Michigan. Even better places we have not been. Thus, we made a list of places with patterns we liked, there is an online resource with images of rows from most of the shops, and headed out. Awesome thing happened, at each store the people were more than happy to answer our questions, offer suggestions, and in general talk to us.

Even better or more awesome, we found the occasional place in a new town to do something or to look at. We even found ourselves misplaced by the map ap and the kids knew what to do. 🙂 Most awesome of all at one shop, on display glow in the dark cloth one with skulls and one with candy skulls. I love glow in the dark stuff. I collect glow in the dark stuff.

I do not care what the thing is, if it glows I must have. I have skulls, brains, dogs, cats, stars, planets, a jellyfish, two sex toys (a vibrator and a giant glow in the dark dong), magazine covers, patches, and so on. I don’t care. Thus when I saw these cloths, I had to have. They woman behind the counter assumed that I only wanted the things because of the skulls. She was adamant that because of the skulls I was purchasing them.

Our kids stifled their giggles. Barb watched. I, in my desert cammies, sriracha shirt, and button festooned militaryish vest, attempted to explain to her that I could care less about the skulls, only the glow in the dark part. The look in her eyes said, “Sure.”

Three stores, down the coast, and back around to Grand Rapids for the return trip, we stopped for sushi or all of us other than our boy stopped for sushi, he had dumplings. We were already planning another trip to different stores for different patterns, there is one with Amish buggies I want, when we saw much to our surprise right next door to the sushi place a quilt shop with their row in the window. Not a bad trip.

We’re Not Lost, Just Misplaced

I made a right instead of a left. I figured out my mistake well past the turn around and fix it stage. More around the “This doesn’t look familiar” and odd I don’t remember that many Amish buggies on the road anywhere near us.

Getting misplaced used to be a big deal for me. Now not so much and not because I have access to a map, but because

A.) I have misplaced myself entire states

B.) I have been misplaced enough that I enjoy the new scenery

C.) The kids were in the car and I thought this would be a good time to teach them some skills I never learned as a child

And that is what this post is about, skills to start teaching your children now before you get misplaced.

  1. Teach your children how to operate your phone. Sure you may think they know and they may say they know, teach them and make sure. Having a child who can operate the phone is a plus when misplaced.
  2. Teach your children how to work the map ap. Teach them how to input information. Teach them how to read the map. Teach them how to relay information, such as miles to next turn, name of next road, and other information that is infinitely useful and a pain in the ass to try to read while driving.
  3. Teach your children that getting lost is not a big deal. However, also teach your children how to be prepared just in case you get lost.
  4. Teach your children landmarks that they can easily recognize and remember. Nothing makes a misplaced person feel better then seeing something familiar on a route home.
  5. Teach your children to keep a look out for useful information, such as hospitals or churches or police departments. These places can give directions and if they cannot they have access to phones.

Those are the five things I learned this misplaced adventure. Once they realized that we were not truly lost nor stranded they started to enjoy the new scenery around us and even found us passing through Altona a second time funny. Seems that if I had kept going through Altona we would have gotten where we needed. I didn’t know that at the time because there was, no IS, no internet out in the boonies of Michigan.

Now I have two children who can assist me or another adult the next time we or they become misplaced.

A Handful of Vomit & Pork Belly

I don’t make plans. See here if you don’t believe me or understand why.

I have children. Children derail anything and everything.

Got that?

A trip to Grand Rapids was necessary today. A long trip. Going to Grand Rapids is not something I do lightly, as I hate all of the traffic. The people are a mixed bag, but I can deal with the crowds. The traffic though, hate it. On top of my list for the long trip, find pork belly.

Despite living around several farms, I cannot for the life of me find pork belly. Lots of people who swear they sell pork belly, but to date nope. Thus I have to travel to Grand Rapids to the Downtown Market. I like the Market, a reasonable butcher and fish monger. Good cheese shop and other goodies. Problem for me is that the Market is not really a market, but what people with too little knowledge, too much time and money think is a market. Everything is too packaged and too clean to be a real market, more like a different kind of grocery store. But they have pork belly.

Then the child vomited. All of a sudden. No warning signs at all. Standing near the meat counter…BARF. Being a parent, I do the following:

  • try to comfort my child which is where the screen of my “military grade” phone cracked
  • try to contain the mess, which is how I ended up with a handful of vomit
  • try to, and I shit you not, get ANYONE from behind the counter to do something more than ask, “Can I help you with something in our display?” No shit. Tried to sell me meat while my kid is puking.

To many perfect people and families walk by with that look of “oh my look at those poor (not poor as in sympathetic, but poor as in not dressed like us, people.” Finally, an adult behind the counter sees the problem and assists, but by then the kid was off to a bathroom and I cleaned up the mess. Fuckers!

But I got pork belly.

A trip to the nearest pharmacy for some stomach meds hoping that it takes care of the problem and we are off to the next stop, Rider’s Hobby Shop. Way to much money and one almost vomit incident later we, the adults, debate the merits of returning home or heading to Momma Lee’s. Consulting with the child, go to Mama Lee’s because I need ingredients to cook a lot of stuff. In case you are curious why we didn’t go home after pork belly, the sick child had been looking forward all week to Rider’s and would not be deterred…not even by a second almost vomit.

Momma Lee’s, like clock work. Let’s put food in all of us. What happened next is not a testament to Denny’s…the car stopped, the child bolted, the parents said wait, the child exploded all over the empty parking lot.

Now we head home. Something I haven’t mentioned is that we need rain. Very dry around here. Want to guess when it rained?

If you guessed when the kid had to vomit, we pull off the road, I join him outside the car, and then the sky opens up. Soaked and feeling miserable, the child fell asleep less than a mile later. The rain stopped a half-mile after that.

At home the child feels better, which really is the important part of the whole story.