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.

Advertisements

More Fishing Stories

I posted a few fishing stories last night. Remembering these events fished some older encounters up to the surface of my sea of memories. Here they are. Enjoy!

My brothers and I went fishing with our dad when we were teenagers. Dad is a singular individual, dissatisfied with relaxation. As I age, I identify with this. If I am not working in the yard, working on my course work or marketing my children’s book series (the first of which is called “How Sir Donkey Legs Became a Knight” and deals with a young boy who didn’t quite fit in until he accidentally “saved” a kingdom, and is available in paperback and ebook format from such reputable retailers as Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. You should buy the first, become hooked and wait breathlessly until I have enough money to publish the next installment, “Sir Donkey Legs Should Not be a Knight” which deals with the young knight’s sisters’ reactions to his erroneous accolades) I am not quite happy. As I lay prostrate in a hammock, attempting to forget the cares of a menial food service job, dad was above me in a tree, sawing limbs. We eventually burned them, but there were plenty laying on the ground for easy collection. I eventually had to get up, chased from slumber by the danger of falling branches. Later we traversed the perimeter of the lake so that dad could utilize his new net. It was weighted at the edges and had a retrieval line so that the fisherman could easily pull it back. Dad tossed it elegantly off a cliff, waited too long to pull it back, and it became entangled in submerged rocks. He stated his intention to not “lose my new net” and promptly stripped to his tighty whities. He then descended the cliff face hand over hand, dove, retrieved the net, ascended. It is bad enough when a  teenaged boy sees his father in wet tighty whities. Even worse when strangers pass by and he greets them heartily in his might-as-well-be-nude attire. How horrified I still am on so many levels, these many years later.

Once upon the same occasion, I, in a fit of woodsmanly premonition, froze mid-step with my foot hovering over a heretofore unseen baby copperhead snake. The youngster was coiled, ready to strike. I remained frozen, fearing the very worst. The snake, apparently a coward, suddenly slithered toward the lake…and my father. I screamed a warning and my dad, channeling a Comanche warrior, raised his small axe above his head and stood ready. As the offending bit of nature passed him he swung the axe with full force, producing sparks that, luckily, did not result in forest fire but could have. The snake escaped off of the aforementioned cliff with its head half-attached. It slithered in rather a funny way after dad had his way with it.

Our final tale comes from a former co-worker of mine. He said he had a friend who once rested a shotgun barrel on his boot-toe. An unintentional jostle resulted in the loss of the poor man’s big toe. A few years later, my co-worker and his friend were fishing from a boat. His friend fell off the boat, sliding chest first along the hull in the strangest version of falling off a boat ever. The man emerged from the water a short time later, screaming. When they asked what was wrong the man screamed, in a family-unfriendly display of angst, “I cut my titty off!”. And when the man again boarded the boat his friends found that, indeed, his nipple was missing. As he slid bare-chested down the hull, his nipple had caught upon some bit of roughness, excising the minute appendage from its natural perch. I asked my friend if he was still in contact with this man. He replied that he talked to the one-nippled, one-big-toed individual on a very occasional basis. I then asked if the man was now any more than a living nub and inquired as to whether or not the man had been successful in obtaining life insurance. No answers were forthcoming.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…exercise caution when engaging in any endeavor. Danger and humiliation are just around the next tree or bend in the river. Or, perhaps, just over the edge of the next cliff.

A don’t…forsake the outdoors. The clear and present dangers can sometimes provide stories that keep you and your wife awake at night with unbidden giggling.

Fishing Stories

Anyone who has ever fished has a story. In most cases these are embellished accounts of the approximated size of the one that got away or exaggerated size specifications regarding the one that didn’t. In a few rare cases, a large fish is landed, photographed, boasted of.

The following stories include none of the aforementioned qualities.

I am a poor fisherman.

My first fishing foray with my children included my two year old son suddenly jumping from the bank into the water and nearly drowning. I entered the water so fast that I was wet before I hit the surface. The only thing caught that day was, surprisingly, a severe case of athletes foot on my part. My son thankfully survived with no ill effect, other than a severely swollen pull-up.

Another occasion in the same location resulted in a much surprising encounter. Have you ever fished with three young children? You have no chance to catch anything. My son was insistent on throwing every bit of equipment and paraphernalia into the water every time I turned my back to help one of the girls unstick a hook from the weeds. On one such foray, I heard a frantic rustling of leaves and assumed it was my son making another beeline toward the bank for a self-drowning experience. Turns out, it was a recently-skin-shed snake. It, in hindsight as scared as I was, slithered its stark white and loathsome body furiously toward the water. I disregarded its escaping from me, focused on the ferocity of said evacuation and scared my children by ascending the steep bank, in the opposite direction taken by the snake, mind you, screaming. My frightened youngsters fled toward the road, arms above their sweet little heads, inspired by my flight of unnecessary fright. I nearly had to tackle my son to keep him safe.

Just today my son, now six, was insistent that catching a big fish required putting an entire hot dog on his hook. I indulged him, then watched as nibble after nibble garnered no landed fish. One bite, however, was a farce. The bobber dunked furiously under the water, inspiring a mad dash on my part to assist my son in landing a real lunker. Turns out he had somehow gotten the line wrapped around his shoe…who knows how?…and had jerked the bobber trying to reach his tepid Sprite.

One final account includes my wife-type-person catching three fish, which she nobly let the children land, whilst I myself got nary a nibble. My manhood has been suspect since that fateful day. She fails to believe the tales I share, fraught with inalienable truth, that I have, at least once in my life, caught a fish. She has never seen me do it, therefore it never happened. Instead she laughs at me. She shares stories of her dad yanking too hard to set the hook and reeling in naught but a set of fish lips. Would that I could, in her presence, catch a fish. Even if it were lipless.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…fish despite your failures. Catching a fish is fun. Fishing with your children is fulfilling.

A don’t…let a fish emasculate you. Sometimes they are just too dumb to eat soggy hotdogs, plastic or stinky clay.

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.

Nerd Rant: Wolverine; Forget The Geneva Convention, Let’s Talk About The Health Code

To paraphrase Julie Andrews, let’s start at the very beginning; a very good place to start. When you count you begin with 1, 2, 3; when some unknown individual violates the health code you begin with Wol-ver-ine.

If you are unfamiliar with Wolverine, the basic premise is that he has the ability to heal very quickly. This ability allowed him to survive a surgery that coated his skeleton with super-strong metal. My first point has nothing to do with the health code, but why on earth would you need a metal coated skeleton if your bones can immediately knit back together? Anyway, Wolverine has massive claws that somehow reside within his hands, if the movies are to be believed. These claws may or may not have been present before the skeleton augmentation surgery. They come out when he needs them, somehow, and are the source of his many health concerns.

Wolverine can be seen clawing through many substances you wouldn’t want in your body. Metal doors, asphalt, helicopters and their requisite fluids and fuels, and various beasts, creatures and common-folk. Wolverine cannot be seen scrubbing or even wiping down his claws before retracting them. This is concerning and there are a few options here. First is the idea that perhaps his skin makes such a tight seal around the claws that offending matter is wiped off as the claws retract. Ideally his skin would then heal closed before particulate could invade the skin leaving glops of gook or grit, depending upon what he has clawed, between the knuckles. If this is so, he is never shown wiping between his knuckles. The other option is that the stuff makes it into his system on the claws and if this is the case, it indicates that Wolverine has antiseptic blood. Unless they simply don’t bother to address it, Wolverine never suffers from infection after retracting his claws. He must have terrible hand-acne if this option is correct. If all that grit and particulate make it under his skin, his body must be constantly working to push bits of doors, poles and people back up through the surface of his flesh.

The most egregious violation that Wolverine commits is the disrespect he shows for the people and creatures he claws and the teammates fighting beside him. Even if he has antiseptic blood, it doesn’t mean that victims of his clawings know this. And let’s say it is a huge battle with many, many clawings. Does he pause between attacks to sanitize his claws so that he isn’t spreading potentially infected blood from victim to victim? And let’s also say that he is clawing to kill and isn’t concerned with infecting those he’s fighting. Does he just assume that everyone else has antiseptic blood? As he’s viciously slashing un-friendly folk, is he paying attention to the blood-borne pathogens he’s potentially flinging about in a manner that is much more intense than conventional war-time mayhem?

It has been said by some, and refuted by others, that Wolverine had bone claws before his skeleton surgery. Perhaps when he allegedly fought in the Civil War, this wasn’t an issue. Bone is porous to an extent. Perhaps the claws used to absorb the very blood they shed for neutralization by his internal organs. If this is the case my previous point is moot. He doesn’t realize the danger he is placing others in. HIV and tetanus may mean nothing to him, and he may not even realize he’s flinging these things about. Still, I’m sure those of us who actively avoid infections hope and pray that, one day soon, OSHA, EPA and maybe even PETA get together and educate Wolverine on modern health and safety concerns. Maybe even some sensitivity training is in order. He needs to consider that not everyone is a giant walking Germ-X factory and the true wolverines from which he derives his name may not wish to be besmirched by an inconsiderate maniac.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…enjoy the superheroes of your choice despite their downfalls. After all, they’re just as super-human as the next individual.

A don’t…follow in their footsteps. Unless you have money and are a Batman fan

 

Reflections on Death and the Burial of a Strange Man

My wife and I spent the weekend visiting the graves of our respective grandparents for some reason. It got me to thinking about a lot of things. Mainly, I considered the death traditions we celebrate and the secondly it got me to thinking about the manner in which I’d like to be laid to rest. If you are sensitive to conversations regarding death and interment, you might want to seek reading material elsewhere. My sense of humor is less than sympathetic in this regard. I think it’s a coping mechanism. Still, it could be offensive. Consider yourself warned. Proceed at your own risk.

It is strange the way we commemorate our dearly departed. We generally either put them in a box in the ground with a stone to mark the spot or burn the body and dispose of the ashes in a treasured location or store them on a mantelpiece. We visit the resting places of our relatives to reflect and place tokens. It seems, to me at least, a more meaningful tradition is to visit the places my loved ones lived and laughed and loved rather than the plots in which they were buried. My wife and I did this, also, on the way to the respective cemeteries. We drove past our grandparents’ old houses and various other places of interest in their lives. I found this much more satisfying than marveling at the fact that I soon stood over the resting places of their remains. I suppose I can see how being close to their mortal leavings can provide a sense of closeness with their eternal being.

All that aside, I began to think that if people are going to visit my resting place after I’m gone, I’d like to give them a show. I want my sense of humor to live on despite the death of my body.

I’m inspired by some inappropriate 1800’s era tombstones from New England I read about in a book call “Weird New England”. If you enjoy the thought of someone’s body spending eternity underneath a stone engraved with insults, you should check it out. If I’m cremated when I die, and you should stumble upon my urn, you’re likely to read on the side a saying such as “They burned me, then urned me.”, or, “I was incinerated; my mortal remains herein incarcerated. My soul is gone, my ash remains; if I should spill I’d likely stain.”

If I should be buried and I die in some horrific fashion, a photorealistic engraving of my expression at the moment of death will adorn my stone. With or without the engraving, my casket will be buried in quicksand with a thin layer of false turf covering it. There will be a fine-print engraving to encourage one to step closer to read it. The resultant motion of the person thrashing about as they sink into my grave will activate a recording of me either screaming an ear-splitting, pterodactyl-reminiscent scream or moaning a loud and disorienting zombie-esque moan.

Burial or cremation, one thing is sure; you should probably avoid me in death as much as in life unless you enjoy heartless and narcissistic pranks perpetrated upon your person. My poor wife. She’s going to have to be buried next to this.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…think often of your lost loved ones, as they were as well as as they are.

A don’t…feel compelled to visit my grave. You really don’t deserve that.