Monthly Archives: December 2012

Looking Ahead to 2013

New Years

Happy New Year’s Eve! Lindsey and I had a tremendous 2012 by all measures, filled with family adventures, travel, and progress on the Double Dogleg.

A few of the highlights were our baby-reveal brunch where everyone already knew what was happening, but played along gracefully. And later, the gender reveal party shortly after Thanksgiving. We are fortunate to have family that are present, engaged, and unbelievably supportive. They set a wonderful example for us through each day of our lives, and I hope that we are able to return the love and pass it on as well.

Most exciting of all is the life we have ahead of us – the arrival of our son this coming April – the first grandchild for the family – the first nephew to his Aunts. When I think about my resolutions for the New Year, what comes to mind is that priorities will change – by choice – to putting our son first, focusing on being an awesome dad, and doing all that I can to support Lindsey as a mother.

With that I resolve to say, “I love you,” everyday to Lindsey and baby boy – although I do already. And to hug them each morning and night. To make the Double Dogleg a safe and adventurous home. To work more efficiently, so that I can support them and be with them.

Here’s to 2013 and beyond. May the rest of our lives be filled with more love, inspiration, and hard work than ever before.

OneWord: Sure

Sure: I was so sure, that I set the cup down. And I walked to her and said,”Hello, beautiful. Can I have this dance.” She looked at me with her blazing brown eyes and nodded. Just a little. And so I took her hand and walked with her to the edge of the hardwood that was the dancers’ floor. Like the boxers’ ring. And I had made it that far. And I was holding her hand. And my heart was racing. Pounding from my chest trying to reach hers to see if it, too, wanted the same kind of freedom. And all I could do was take that next step. The leather of my shoe skidding to a start on the dusty wood. I reached my arm around her thin little waist and pulled her warm body to mine so that I could lead her away to the rest of her life. For there was no turning back on this little leap of love. She was my wallflower. Me, her punch-bowl-mixer. And together we were everything at once. The disco ball above stopped to watch as we spun faster and slower around everyone who didn’t matter in that moment. And then I stopped us. The music stopped. And I dipped her ’til her hair was in the dust of that worn out floor. And I looked at those brown eyes of hers and I said, “Goodnight, Beautiful. I’m sure we’ll meet again.”

Our Sledding Chute

We did some bush whacking this morning to clear a sledding chute down the back of the Double Dogleg. Here’s a couple videos of me testing it out.

Take Two:

Now we just need some more snow to cover up the leaves.

Christmas 2012

We had a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas with our families. On the 24th, we met at Sorellina for dinner, and then drove around to see the Christmas lights before attending the 9pm church service. No dropped candles or broken pews this year, although Christy did have a bit of a laugh-attach early in the service.

Christmas morning had us up early shoveling a little snow, so that we could safely descend the driveway en route to Mom and Dad J’s house for early morning Christmas. It was fun to give Dan his golf club rack, which Lindsey and I built together. Then we were off to the farm to celebrate with Lindsey’s extended family. After enjoying some coffee cake, we opened presents, visited, and then returned to Old Mission Peninsula for Christmas turkey and gift opening with Mom and Dad R and Katy. Continuing with the home crafted gifts, we gave Mom and Dad R a footstool/table made from saplings felled on our property. I am anxious to see if it stands the test of time and the bites and bumps of Izzy and Calla.

It was a wonderful day of celebration and relaxation, and we’re very thankful to have so much loving family close to home. Now its time to start thinking of my New Years’ resolutions!

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Lemony Snicket, The Lump of Coal

It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season—like all the other seasons—is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be grateful for them.

via A CUP OF JO: Miracles

How Santa Makes His Rounds

To all those who have trouble believing in Santa Claus, I ask you to read the following with a bit of humor in mind and a leniency for the truth. Many things that are mentioned have indeed happened, and the rest…well they could just as easily be true. All you have to do is indulge your imagination and follow my lead.

Santa Claus is real, and so are all of the trimmings that we associate with him. I have seen him in the mall many times, and having been fortunate enough to chat briefly with him upon a couple of occasions, I consider myself very knowledgeable about his ways. Many people have tried to tell me otherwise, but I know the truth. The truth is that there are elves at the North Pole slaving away to make children happy come Christmas morning. There are flying reindeer that pull not only Santa and his sleigh, but also his sack of gifts, which must be enormous in proportions. Thousands of kids wait patiently, all year long watching what they say and how they act, in hopes that they will receive their chosen gifts. (This includes me.) I fall into the category of believers who also believe in the Easter Bunny, angels, and miracles. Hence, in the midst of the Christmas season that is racing around us, my focus is on proving to you that Saint Nick does in fact exist.
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Ira Glass on Storytelling

STORYTELLING

Two main building blocks

  1. Sequence of actions – anecdote – that creates suspense and raises questions along the way (and readers expect those questions to be answered)
  2. Moment(s) of reflection on the suspense and questions raised

Can have great facts, but boring execution of above; can have boring facts and excellent execution of above.

Difficult to find a real story. What about for fiction? Looking within? Is there a tipping point of personal memories that create a story?

Every story isn’t going to be great or usable. Need to learn to abandon crap. Don’t want to be making mediocre stuff. Like golf – looking for that one great shot that keeps you going until the next time.

When starting a creative career, your taste may be killer, but your ability is below what you like. You know that your work is crappy – need to get past this phase!

Common pitfalls

  • Trying to imitate something you’ve seen. Just talk like a normal human being – this could go for writing, too. Go with your own flow.
  • Not showing your personality interacting with other human beings. Can’t have too much “you” or too much of the other characters.

Daily Routines of John Grisham and Ben Franklin

For a long time now, I have been interested in the daily routines of successful people. Here are two of my favories:

Author John Grisham’s routine, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 5, 2008:

When he first started writing, Grisham says, he had “these little rituals that were silly and brutal but very important.”

“The alarm clock would go off at 5, and I’d jump in the shower. My office was 5 minutes away. And I had to be at my desk, at my office, with the first cup of coffee, a legal pad and write the first word at 5:30, five days a week.”

His goal: to write a page every day. Sometimes that would take 10 minutes, sometimes an hour; ofttimes he would write for two hours before he had to turn to his job as a lawyer, which he never especially enjoyed. In the Mississippi Legislature, there were “enormous amounts of wasted time” that would give him the opportunity to write.

“So I was very disciplined about it,” he says, then quickly concedes he doesn’t have such discipline now: “I don’t have to.”

Ben Franklin’s routine, source unknown:

Ben Franklin Daily Routine

OneWord: Five, Game, Sate, Scatter

Five: Across the street, backed by climbing ivy and silver graffiti hearts, is a young couple sitting on a green cement bench. The axis of his world tilting towards hers. A lean to her gravity – to the sunny disposition of her beautiful smile, and all of the kind things that come with it. And then he lifts his left hand, which is covered by a mitten, and runs it along her right jawbone to pull her cold lips to his.

Game: We played a game each night. As a family, while sitting at our kitchen table, talking face to face. The best thing was that for an hour or so there were no phones, no TVs, no invasions from the world. Except, perhaps, the occasional neighbor dropping by for a cup of sugar or an old friend from downstate checking in. It was the four of us and our cards and conversation.

Sate: To sate his desire, and growing appetite, for a slice of Lakeshore Berry Crumb pie from the Grand Traverse Pie Company downtown, Chris went to the trouble of bundling up in his vintage 1980’s one-piece polyester lime-green snowsuit, complete with snap on hood and matching Smith brand ski goggles, gassing up his 1987 Ski-doo and motor-sliding down the middle of M-37. It was, after all, the worst blizzard since the inception of his snowsuit.

Scatter: “Scatter, Buster, before mom sees you on the tile.” The dog sulked backwards to his usual spot in the corner of the TV room. He was safe for now, but unhappy and wanted to play.

Link to OneWord.com, which prompts me with each of the words and provides one minute to write about that word. Sometimes I run long.

Poking Fun at Alpha Parents

Here is an excerpt from an articled titled, “Why You’re Never Failing as a Mother,” from the website/blog Pregnant Chicken.

You are in the trenches when you have a baby. To the untrained eye it seems pretty straightforward and easy – you feed them, you bathe them, you pick them up when they cry – but it’s more than that. It’s perpetual motion with a generous layer of guilt and self-doubt spread on top, and that takes its toll.

Feeling like you also need to keep on top of scrapbooking, weight loss, up-cycled onesies, handprints, crock pot meals, car seat recalls, sleeping patterns, poo consistency, pro-biotic supplements, swimming lessons, electromagnetic fields in your home and television exposure, is like trying to knit on a rollercoaster – it’s [omitted swearword] hard.

We live in a time when we can [G]oogle everything, share ideas, and expose our children to amazing opportunities, but anyone that implies that they have it figured out is either drunk or lying (or both) so don’t be too hard on yourself.

Your job is to provide your child with food, shelter, encouragement and love, and that doesn’t have to be solely provided by you either – feel free to outsource because they didn’t just pull that “it takes a village” proverb out of the air.

In a similar tone, I’ll point you to a recent poem I read in the New Yorker magazine titled, “Goodnight Nanny-Cam,” which is parody of the book, Goodnight Moon.

Winter Is Here!

The snowblower started right up, but wouldn’t keep going when I activated the drive or blade levers. I quickly abandoned that and returned to shoveling. It took about an hour and forty-five minutes to shovel the main driving areas of the driveway, which is good enough at this point. Hopefully, the snowblower will work better when it’s not 5am and dark. Time for work, coffee, and a cinnamon roll.

Kicking and Naming

Lindsey is often laying on the couch watching TV in the evenings, with her hand cupped against the lower portion of her baby bump feeling Mr. Rogers kick. She’ll get my attention and not only can we feel him kicking, but we can also see it when watching the baby bump. It’s unbelievably cool, although sometimes my presence appears quiet him.

Naturally, we link this activity to Mr. Rogers’ potential future athletic prowess at such sports as soccer and track. And the next step is to think of names from those sports. However, the only two soccer names I know are Ronoldo and Pelé. Nothing against those names, but they are not at the top of our list!

Timeframes

From a speech titled, “10 Timeframes,” given by Paul Ford to MFA graduates. (LINK) This is an excerpt of the second of his ten timeframes

You know that decades are a recent invention? Decades are hardly a century old. Not the concept of having ten years of course, but the concept of the decade as a sort of major cultural unit, like when I say “the 90s” and you think of flannel shirts and grunge music and great R&B music, or when I say “the 80s” and you think of people with big hair using floppy disks. You need a lot of change for a decade to be a meaningful demarcation. Back in the 1600s they didn’t really talk about centuries as much either. It was all about the life of the king, the reign (of King James and so forth), or the era.

And then they invent clocks and clocks get cheaper and cheaper. Clocks are an amazing experience, right? Two hands, and a bell. This sense of relentless forward motion and they go in only one direction. Imagine doing user testing on clocks.

You say, “You’re a farmer—tell me about a normal day.”

And the farmer says, “Normally I wake up then depending on the month I might plant or reap the harvest.”

And you say, “How do you know what to plant?”

And the farmer says, “I’ve got this poem that we’ve been using for generations, so like, in June I mow my corn, in August I harvest my wheat with a sickle, stuff like that.”

And you’re trying to build understanding, you say, “That poem sounds really useful. But I’d like to talk about a new approach to time. What if I could divide every single day into 24 big parts called hours, and each of those into 60 little parts called minutes? So now instead of having just a whole day, you have 1,440 little pieces of time and you can arrange them and do whatever you want. What is your reaction to that?”

And I think the farmer would probably be polite but I’m guessing he’d be thinking, “Clock? That’s the single stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”