Perfection Mis-Realized

Human tendency seems to be to meddle with perfection. We find something great and we immediately begin to formulate plans to make it better. Take, for instance, my back yard. When we first moved in, it was perfect. My house sits on 3/4 of an acre, which isn’t massive, but it is fairly huge. The house is on a small hill that slopes away to a beautiful flat meadow of lush, green grass. A large pecan tree stands to the northwest of this, shading a bit of less lush grass which gives way to a stand of bamboo in the far corner. To the north of the meadow is a raised pond planted with waterlilies. Below this, at ground level, sits another pond with waterlilies and lotus flowers. It was beautiful.

And then I decided we should drain one and fill it with sand to make a dig pit for my son. We threw up a swing set and a trampoline for good measure and I cleared off some beautiful grass for a garden. The garden is now a weed patch with a fence around it and it somehow sprouted a few vegetables. It looks like crap.

We mess with perfection. We find something nice and think “Hey, I can spruce this up a little bit.” And it ends up being crap. Either we are too ambitious and do so much stuff that the result is a cluttered mess of half-completed projects or we have no idea what we are doing and we end up turning something beautiful into an eyesore. This is the case with me, at least.

And this is the case with a certain shall-remain-unnamed chocolate sandwich cookie with mysterious white creamesque filling. These cookies have been perfect ever since I ate my first one at some tender young age I cannot quite fully recall. But I remember the cookies. And now they’ve changed. They’ve been changing and I hadn’t even realized it because I discovered the single positive change this particular cookie has made, the one which has been stuffed twice as full of the mysterious creamesque filling. I was buying some of those the other day and my laser focus was distracted for a moment by an equally addicted child asking if it would be acceptable to open the package in the car. I turned to assure him excitedly that we would most definitely be exploring the benefits of his amazing idea when I spotted the absurd abomination.

The white creamesque mystery ambrosia wonderful what-not pictured on the package adjacent to the one I wanted was a garish orange color and proclaimed to be candy corn flavored.

Why?

We have candy corn for candy corn flavor. Remaining unnamed chocolate sandwich cookies with mysterious white creamesque filling are perfect. We buy those when that is what we want. When we want candy corn flavor, we buy candy corn.

There are other abominations in the cookie world, but I am too disgusted to talk about them. The cookies were perfect. Why mess with them?

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…enjoy what you enjoy, even if it is an abomination.

A don’t…mess with something perfect. It cannot be made better and alterations take away from the original. It would be like cookie flavored pickles. We have two separate food items to fulfill both of those cravings. Eat the one you want. Exceptions are made for pregnant women or the severely depressed.

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About A Billion Tadpoles; The Neglectful Nature of Frog Forebears

There are about a billion tadpoles in my decorative pond. Last month, we heard frogs serenade us every night. It was loud. I was worried the neighbors would call us in as a nuisance. Either they didn’t or the cops don’t care if frogs are in your yard. Anyway, we were worried at first because we saw this string in the pond that looked like a strand of carpet. Very crinkly and colorful. I thought the frogs would get tangled in it and suffocate and almost pulled it from the pond before realizing it was a massive strand of eggs.

The neglectful frog parents have since moved on. They abandoned their young as they are apparently wont to do. Now every time we look at the pond, it is literally wriggling and squirming with aquatic life. I don’t know how I feel about this. It certainly makes for some nutritive water for my tomatoes, but some of these things have swum up onto the lily pads and dried and died. I blame their neglectful, abandon-minded amphibian, certain slang for the gluteus maximus parents. How dare you leave your babies to dry to death on my lily pads?

My oldest child is a girl of 10. She says we have to live here for five years to observe the growth of these tadpoles. She says it takes five years for a tadpole to become a frog. I freely admit she is smarter than I am, even though I am currently a college student with a 4.0 gpa, and because of this, I haven’t bothered to fact-check my child. It may take five years. But if it does, those poor tadpoles are doomed. They swim up onto lily pads they can’t get off of and dry to death! I’m more than happy to be some weird frog baby surrogate parent since I didn’t have to incubate them within my body, but I can’t be out at the pond 24/7. I have to parent my actual human young.

Who are these frogs to spray their offspring into my decorations and disappear? If I knew the number to frog 911, I’d have them arrested for neglect and abandonment. Its easy to identify them by their slimy green skin and loud, disrespectful, croaking nature.

Also, these billions of tadpoles will grow into billions of frogs that, without any frog-parent-figure guidance will simply continue the cycle of croaking in a loud, off-key and peace disturbing cacophony and the spraying and abandonment of young into unauthorized water sources. They’ll decimate the tranquility of my back yard with their inconsiderate caterwauling, should they survive to adulthood.

I’ll let them live, though. Despite their irritating qualities, they fascinate my children. I begrudgingly admit that they fascinate myself and my wife as well. Let ’em be, I suppose. If nothing else, they are a part of nature that I’ll simply have to tolerate and can perhaps learn to love.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…appreciate nature for all of its quirks. Nature cannot be helped.

A don’t…take my rant as a sign that I’m anti-frog. Frogs are fine, and cannot be held to human standards. I simply dislike the idea of a billion croaking frogs. I like sleep.

“Don’t Worry About What Other People Think” – People

I worry. I worry a lot. I worry that any statement I make will be found offensive and that those offended will seek me out and attempt to harm me. I have no doubt that I am sufficiently capable of self defense. I did the whole Army year in a combat zone thing and currently work in a capacity in which physical assault on my person  is a daily probability. I have been trained, I’d simply rather not deal with defending myself. I want to watch T.V. and listen to podcasts and paint the trim on the outside of my house a garish blue in relative peace. I want to reach in amongst the proliferation of weeds I haven’t gotten around to weeding to pick my tomatoes and, when I do this, I want the only red I see to be the skin of the tomatoes. I want to live in peace.

Throughout my life, my excessive worry has been addressed by many. People say, “Don’t worry about what other people think.” The problem is, the people who have said such things to me were, themselves, people. If I’m not to care what people think, does this also apply to the people who tell me not to care about the thoughts of other people? They never bother to specify. They never say, “Don’t worry about what people other than me think, and only worry about what I think when it applies to what I think about what you should think about what other people think.” So I’ve no idea what to think. What am I supposed to think when I don’t know what to think about the thoughts of people who think I should fail to think about the implications of what other people think?

I bid you adieu…and a don’t

Adieu…think about this.

A don’t…overthink it. If you do you’ll think that you’ve gone crazy.

Consensually Kidnapped: A Fiction

I was in the garden when he came for me. I was admiring an heirloom tomato that had a particularly brick-red hue. I daydreamt of crushing it into a pizza sauce. So deeply entranced was I that I hadn’t even heard him approach the edges of my visual field. This isn’t really too surprising. Although I’ve been trained to remain aware of my surroundings, I was in my garden; my safe place. Combine my lack of attentiveness with the facts that I am easily hypnotized by plants and he rarely makes any noises other than faint steamy hisses and those nearly mechanical sounding whizzes and pops when he moves, and it is practically a miracle I noticed him standing in my periphery at all. But I did notice him and, miracle or dark magic, it changed my life in dark and miraculous ways.
“You have been making comments.” He said it in a voice devoid of intonation, in keeping with his way. At the time I didn’t know that I knew he was capable of more. “The comments you’ve made are intolerable.”
I stared at him, smiling, not quite comprehending his intrusion. My garden, physically, is no safer than any other unfortified patch of land. There is a small fence around it, ineffective even in its advertised objective of keeping out small rodents. Beyond that it is completely open to weather, wind, falling branches, a hail of bullets or even an intruder on foot. So it wasn’t his invasion of my garden that confused me. My garden is a safe place for my mind. I can dig and prune and plant and harvest and focus on those activities predominantly. The general everyday cares, which my mind magnifies so supremely that I have been known to vomit over a day-late credit card payment, are stifled when I am in my garden. They plunge to my subconscious where they splash down into last night’s bad dreams and fall prey to the true horrors that live there.
And there this man stood, introducing anxiety into my safe place. There was no reason I could see, other than a stranger in my yard making odd comments about comments I’d made, to be anxious. He was barely five feet two inches tall and while he wasn’t emaciated, he could in no way be construed as stout. I could’ve bowled him over if I’d wanted. Dispatched him swiftly and turned him into compost. Actually I’m not sure he’d compost well. I wasn’t even entirely sure he was biological in nature.
I stared at him, silently thinking these strange thoughts as he grew impatient. A version of impatient anyway. It seemed to fluster him that I hadn’t responded to his statements and so, with a pop at his shoulder and a hiss at his elbow, he smeared his mouth across his face and repeated himself. The same two sentences pronounced in the same toneless voice, maddeningly devoid of any inflection.
Shortly he added a third sentence. “You will come with me.” I couldn’t tell if it was a command or a question. As I’ve said, he doesn’t inflect. He turned and walked away. Surprisingly, I stepped over the knee-high fence and followed him. As we passed through the gate and into the front yard, he stopped suddenly and sighed. He mumbled something I didn’t catch and his neck leaned over so far that his ear nearly rested on his left shoulder. I waited, expecting his head to lift as soon as he’d stretched out whatever crick or Charlie-horse he’d experienced, but he simply sighed again and began to walk. He moved slowly and by the time he’d reached the car parked in front of my house, his knees had nearly given out on him several times and his head had bounced so sharply and so much that I was certain he must now be suffering a horrendous headache.
We climbed into the backseat, he first and I following. As we settled into our seats, he performed a series of shoulder shrugs that eventually straightened his neck. His head fell back against the headrest. He opened his mouth and a series of clicks and whizzes uttered forth. His throat did not move during this maneuver, but soon his eyes popped open and I saw his Adam’s Apple bob as he said, “You’ve been making comments.”
The air began to haze and the haze moved about as if the car were full of cigar smokers who’d just cracked the windows. He turned his head towards me and the image of his smeared mouth seared itself onto my eyes as the sun came up over the dashboard. I heard, and felt, a mild whump and was unaware of anything else until he shook me awake to harass me about my comments some more.

An Antique Man and His Anachronistic Existence, Part Two; In Case There Isn’t an Apocalypse

I posted last night about how I’d love to travel dusty roads in a donkey-drawn wagon full of my experiences recorded in journals, books on edible forage, a guitar and my wife. In this day and age, this isn’t a very realistic dream. Folks would think me nigh on to outright looney. Oh well. A man can dream.

I have a backup plan though. This one is a bit more realistic in that it doesn’t require some sort of apocalypse to befall us. I’d love to buy as many acres as I can get my hands on (and afford) and build a field stone windmill to grind my own flour. I’d only use ancient grains. Not because of their health benefits so much as because it would make me feel as though I was truly in an earlier period in time. I would have a bakery from which I’d sell artisan breads baked using my own flour. I’d even sell my flour; and for a reasonable price, no less. I don’t think people should have to pay a lot of money to experience history.

I could even make it into some kind of immersion bed and breakfast type thing for others who share my desire to do seemingly simple things with their own hands. They could pay me to stay in a cabin and work my wheat field. Then I could teach them about milling flour and baking bread and the health benefits of eating bread made from non-over-processed grains. Did you know that there are healthful oils in bread that are removed from commercial flours and breads to extend the shelf life? These oils supposedly strengthen your heart, but also make bread go bad more quickly. I will leave those oils in and see if it’s true. Perhaps, if we all just lived like antique people we’d be much more healthy and happy.

But it would be hard to accomplish. I feel that the “antique” people would be shunned at best. At worst they could become a society of pariahs.

But is that really such a horrible thing?

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…embrace your dreams and ideals, even if they aren’t mainstream.

A don’t…judge others who wish for a simpler life. After all, does all the modern technology benefit us that much? Sure, it’s fun and we feel more connected, but modern technology has reduced us to a society who can’t, without extreme effort, even get all the nutrition needed without some sort of supplement. Our sustenance fails to sustain us. How odd.

An Antique Man and His Anachronistic Existence; A Wondering About What Could’ve Been and May Yet Be

I’ll start off with an anecdote only very loosely related to the topic of this evening’s post. My wife and I had a humorous misunderstanding at a local Mexican restaurant this evening. We both, for some reason, deviated from our favorite Mexican cuisine ruts and ordered something called “Special Dinner”. We visit this place fairly often due to the quality of the food and the fact that every server and staff member we’ve ever dealt with has been extremely friendly and attentive. We each have our favorites, but they’ve re-done their menus and added a few items. Special Dinner has a chile relleno, a chalupa, a tamale (my least favorite Mexican food, but I really wanted all the other items), a taco, an enchilada, refried beans and rice. My wife was looking at her phone when a waiter and waitress arrived, each bearing two plates loaded with food. They set the stuff down and we just stared at it for a moment. As my eyes perused the offerings on each plate relaying suggestions to my mouth about what to try first, I forgot that my wife had been looking at her phone when the food arrived. I heard my wife’s voice floating, as if from outer space, on the periphery of my hunger limited audio zone. She said, “Do you know any 24 hour plumbers in town?” My brain slapped back to normal speed so suddenly that I just stared at her, slack-jawed. To me, the food looked amazing. Nothing that would cause the need for a plumber soon after eating it. So I said so. Now it was her turn to stare, slack-jawed. Apparently one of her friends had come home to frozen, possibly burst, pipes and needed an emergency fix for baby bathing and formula fixing and whatnot. Oops. We laughed ourselves even more hungry. After my wife sent her friend a link to Roto-Rooter, that is. We aren’t jerks.

This brings me to what I really want to talk about. I feel like I’m an antique man in a modern body. Nothing would make me happier than to wander dusty roads in a wagon pulled by mules or some other such beast of burden collecting stories like the one above and jotting them down in neat looking journals that I’d stow in my wagon and read from to random villagers at festivals. My wagon would contain everything a man really needs. Fire starting materials, a guitar, books on edible forage, a bow and arrows for hunting (this antique man needs his meat), and tome on tome on tome of historical accounts, and, hopefully, my beautiful and wonderful wife. I’m sure antique her would be up for a nomadic life spent with a penniless scribe. I suppose the closest I can get in these modern times is to finish up the history degree I’m currently working on, blogging and writing books and trying to grow amazing tomatoes, succulent corn, nutritious green beans and giant pumpkins. All that and darkly and guiltily wishing for some sort of apocalypse.

It would be fun though. I’ve always been a nomad at heart. My current job is the only one I’ve ever stayed at for more than a year, other than the Army, but they forced me into six years of servitude. After I signed a paper promising six years of servitude. Anyway, the Army provided me free trips to Kuwait and Iraq and the means to afford a month and a half long trip to Europe. This was a veritable glut of travel to a life-long nomad devoid of the means to roam. And it was fun, even if there were bullets and rocket propelled grenades flying all over the place for a while. I’ve also lived in Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, and fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada with brief stints in Kansas, Washington State, South Carolina and California thrown in for good measure.

It’s been quite a life so far and it can only get better. At least once I earn my degree I can rightly call myself an historian, even if I never get the chance to travel lesser known roads in a mule wagon loaded with tomes and tomatoes.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…let your antique self express itself if you have it. Be who you are even if who you are is anachronistic compared to when you are.

A don’t…deny your modern self if you’re of a more technological bent.

 

Re-purposed Costumes and Child Prodigies: A Proud Father Horrified

A couple of quick insights before we get into the meat of this post:

  1. Halloween costumes are cheaply made (the ones we buy are, anyway) and might as well be re-purposed.
  2. I am aware of the dangers of trampoline ownership and usage. We monitor the kids closely when they use it and have had no trampoline related injuries in the 2 years we’ve had it. Well, no injuries to the kids, anyway. I’ve pulled several muscles moving that ridiculous thing out of the way so I can mow under it. Oh, and also the blood blister from trying to stretch those extremely stiff springs during setup.
  3. Bicycles the size of the ones my 7 year old daughter and 5 year old son use are not equipped with kick stands. I take this to mean that the manufacturers do not expect that children that young will need the training wheels removed. What it likely means is that they’ve already spent money installing training wheels and don’t want to spend more on manufacturing and installing a kick stand.
  4. I choose to believe that my son, despite the bicycle manufacturers implied assumption, is a bike riding prodigy. I choose to believe he will be the bike riding equivalent of Beethoven and/or Mozart.

With all that said, let me explain the intent of this post. My son can ride a bike. He enjoys riding his bike to an extent that horrifies me because, the more confident he gets, the more risks he takes.

Before he learned how to turn, his risk was to get as close as possible to the trampoline before stopping. As his turning skills improved he decided he simply MUST try to ride around the lotus pond.

This caused me much consternation. I didn’t want to discourage him, however, I especially didn’t want him to fall into the stagnant, odiferous muck that inhabits the pond now that all the blossoms and leaves have fallen into the water. This stuff is very nearly alive and I rue the windy and overcast day that it finally burps up some strange, dripping, glob-like life form.

Side-note: I refuse to clean out the lotus pond in the fall because not only will the lotus grow up and hide it in the spring, but he muck makes a wonderful addition to mulch and I want it to get as mucky as possible before I scoop some out in the early spring to schlop onto the garden.

As soon as I saw him headed toward the pond, I took off running. He rides with his knees out to the side and I don’t know how to describe the sight, but he pumps his legs so fast that the sight of those knees bobbing out on the sides of his bike is very comical. So I laughed as I ran. Just as I caught up to him he executed a perfect turn mere inches from the edge of the pond.

When he stopped his bike by intentionally running into my theoretically evergreen tree I lectured him on the dangers of what he had just done, implied there would be consequences if he did it again and sent him off to ride a different route.

He was proud of his turn, though, and kept bringing it up. “Hey Daddy, did you see, I, I, did you see me I turned and didn’t splash?!”

Apparently this gave him confidence and, feeling that he had mastered the challenges of turning before riding into a pond, he decided it was time to tempt fate another way.

When he disappeared into the house, I figured he had to go to the bathroom. Instead he came back out in his Halloween costume and decided it would be fun to horrify the dogs and his sisters as he rode after them helter-skelter, cackling and crashing into obstacles he couldn’t see through the inadequate eye holes of the Halloween mask.

Here’s the moral of all this: There may be many ways to repurpose a Halloween mask. Bike helmet is not an acceptable option, even though it has the potential to be hilarious.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…allow you children a few eccentricities. They are good learning opportunities for you as well as them. While sometimes scary, they can also be hilarious.

A don’t…feel guilty if you monitor them closely when they have their “good ideas”. In most cases, they are envisioning positive outcomes that only exist in the realm of the miraculous.