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.

 

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An Offensive Gift, A False Scripture and a Moose; A Christmas at Work Worth Forgetting

Merry Christmas.

With holiday sentiments safely out of the way, let me tell you about a Christmas present I got at work. Rather, let me be vague about it and assure you that it was offensive. It was good naturedly offensive and I took no real offense at it. But I wanted to convey that I had been off put. Since I’m not saying much about the gift itself, I’ll go on at length about my response to the gift.

My response involved the fabrication of scripture. I understand that some may find this blasphemous (although I mean no disrespect to true scripture), and some may be offended merely by the mention of scriptures, religion or Jesus. If you are offended by such things, consider yourself forewarned that you may disregard this post as you see fit and hold me blameless.

Having performed my due diligence, and assuming you are still reading, I present below the full text of my response to the offensive gift:

Dear Sekrit Santuh (this is how the attached card was signed),

Thank you so much for the gift! I found it to be rather offensive. As I assume this was your intent, I applaud you on a job well done.

It wasn’t offensive in the way you might imagine, however. You see, I do not believe in Santuh. Neither do I celebrate the holiday he is associated with. I celebrate the holiday that inspired Christmas, which was originally called the Festival of Christ’s Moose.

This special day was set aside to commemorate the year that Jesus, upon his birthday, took leave of the Holy Lands and rode a moose to Anchorage. As he rode, a multitude of Inuits and Eskimos began following him saying, “Savior, teach us and lead us to salvation.” And Jesus, having pity on them, dismounted his moose and began to preach to them saying, “Blessed are the cold in heart, for they shall find warmth.”  And as he was preaching, the multitude began to grumble against him saying, “We hunger.”

And as they were grumbling, a thunderous noise was heard in the East and from behind a sparse copse of evergreen trees emerged a large, white man-like creature that walkethed upon two legs. And as the multitude hungered and cowered, the creature roared and it did beat upon its chest and did fall upon them with violent intent. And as the creature came forth to devour them, the multitude cried out to Jesus saying, “Savior, save us!”

And Jesus, having pity on them, stopped preaching and he said to his moose, “Go!” And his moose went and it plunged its antlers into the creature and killed it. And Jesus, remembering their grumbling, blessed the creature and tore it asunder and filled many baskets with the pieces and fed the multitude. And they who were once cold were filled with a warmth and it was not a physical warmth, yea, it was a warmth of the heart.

This is why most Christmas celebrations include Christmas Dinner, however, it should rightly be called Christ’s Moose’s Dinner and the main course should include Yeti steaks. Since these are very hard to come by, modern day celebrants have seen fit to do away with the truths behind the holiday and celebrate Jesus’ birth by eating turkey, a known non-cryptid.

Thanks again and may you all have a hairy Christ’s Moose.

Signature omitted

And thusly were those who offensively gifted me regaled. Much to my wife’s dismay, I also attempted to regale the children with a similar tale. They disregarded it out of hand. Smart kids.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…know that I understand the severity of creating one’s own scripture. It was a joke meant to shame my co-workers. I’ll not attempt to build a church around it or encourage others to adhere to my false tenets.

A don’t…read any truth into what I’ve concocted. The most that you can take away from it is that moose exist and it is cold in Anchorage. I’ve seen no real evidence to suggest Jesus ever even saw a moose in his Earthly incarnation.

I Believe in Bigfoot, But Does He Believe in Me? A Question That Doesn’t Really Need to be Answered

As may or may not be evident by the photo accompanying this post, I believe in Bigfoot. I won’t say that I believe completely in his existence; instead, I believe in the idea of Bigfoot and his plausibility as a living creature.

But is the reverse true for Bigfoot, if he exists? Does Bigfoot believe in me? As far as I’m aware, Bigfoot has never seen me. I’ve certainly never seen him. If he believes in the few representatives of Humankind he may have seen, he at least believes in me by proxy and this brings me some sort of comfort.

I like to think, though, that there are fringe Bigfoots (Bigfeet? Thank you Tolkien for your Proudfoots/Proudfeet exploration. It intrigues us still today.) out there that, being more adventurous than their contemporaries, have sought out the strange sounds blasting through the woods and laid eyes upon a Human or group of humans. Perhaps these “outsider” Sasquatches lope home and grunt excitedly to their families and peers about the small, hairless, bi-pedal Sasquatchoid creatures they have seen.

Perhaps Bigfoot, too, knows the sting of being thought crazy by the majority of his society.

Maybe there are even Bigfoot Human watching groups. Perhaps it is called something like the H.uman B.eing R.esearch O.rganization or the Bigfoot grunting/howling equivalent of that. Perhaps they try to imitate the sounds of shotgun blasts or are hard at work producing the fluorescent orange colors they’ve seen during deer season. Maybe there’s some enterprising young Bigfoot developing scents he associates with people. I don’t know what they would be. Something unique that we probably can’t smell since woodsmen and hunters generally avoid scented aftershaves and colognes and such while searching for creatures to eat or study. Perhaps to Bigfoot we smell as bad as I’ve heard Bigfoot smells to people. Skunk Ape indeed. How crude and completely uncalled for.

And what if, just what if, the responses people claim to hear when they are call blasting into the night aren’t actual Bigfoot responses at all. What if these recordings people play to attract Bigfoot are something else altogether and Bigfoot, hearing these strange sounds and sometimes then seeing people, thinks these are the noises people make and is simply regurgitating what he hears in an attempt to attract us?

What if somewhere there is a Bigfoot attempting to imitate human speech and some Bigfoot researcher or frightened camper will one day hear from back in the tree line a tentative and gravelly “Hello?”

Just some food for thought. Bigfoot, whether real, imagined, hoaxed or misidentified, is a veritable buffet of such mental edibles.

And maybe he even believes in, or doubts the existence of, us.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…try to see both sides of all arguments. Some arguments, however, have two different sides from two or more distinct sub-groups. These 4 or more dimensional arguments are worth looking into from every angle.

A don’t…get caught up in the Bigfoots/Bigfeet plurality conundrum. It just isn’t really worth it. After all, rather than aruging semantics, you could be busy looking for a group of Big…well, you get where I’m going, I’m sure.

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.

 

A Day in the Yard or When Work Isn’t Work; Cherish it While You Can

I have three children. Of the three I have two accomplished bike riders and one aspiring. Strangely, my oldest at 9 and my youngest at 5 are the accomplished. My 7 year old is still aspiring. She’s a bit of a free spirit, though, and nothing holds her attention for very long. She’s getting very close to taking the training wheels off for good.

There’s no rush, I suppose. I know adults who never learned to ride a bike.

Anyway, the other day there was no school and the weather was perfect and after breakfast we went outside and I watched them ride bikes for about two hours. When their legs finally began to get tired and they drifted to other activities I got the wheel-barrow and rake and started loading up needles and leaves.

We moved into this house two summers ago and I thought I had an evergreen in the back yard. Apparently either I don’t or it’s very sick because last fall and again this fall, the needles have browned and fallen just like the leaves on our sometimes-greens. This tree drops so many needles that it covers the ground beneath it so thickly that it feels like walking on a shag carpet. Maybe the tree is an evergreen, and it’s simply a nostalgic sort of tree, pining away for the ’70’s.  A ha ha ha.

Ahem.

As I was raking and loading and trudging and dumping the loads of leaves and needles on my garden spot the kids began to follow me. They took my rake and began raking their own piles. They took my wheel-barrow and began carting loads themselves. They asked for rides and I gave them, at first in the empty barrow back to the trees and later (after my son was hit by a bolt of inspiration) in the leaf laden barrow en route to the garden spot.

Needless to say, by about 11:00 we were a bit hungry. I had worked up a sweat and I couldn’t think of anything better than sitting down in the cool kitchen for lunch. My oldest daughter insisted on a picnic. The electric company recently cut down a tree in our yard that threatened their lines. I asked them to leave the wood and they left slabs perfect for stools and a nice short, wide one that makes a fine table. As I performed one last task and maneuvered these into place, the kids ran inside to find their old Easter baskets.

We loaded the baskets with sandwiches, chips, “juice” pouches and dog biscuits.

I sat on a rough chunk of tree surrounded by kids and dogs and had the best grilled cheese sandwich and cup of coffee it has ever been my privilege to consume.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…let your kids help you work. I hear it won’t be long before they realize it isn’t fun. It is, actually, but only when you’re very young or getting old.

A don’t…blame your trees for pining for the ’70’s. The air was much cleaner back then. No wonder my evergreen wants to hold its breath for the winter.

 

Orion: A Constellation; A Memory Made; A Celestial Wonder With a Message for a Defective Man

When I woke up this morning it was still dark. I got the coffee going and woke up my kids. I stepped out the back door with my son with the dual intentions of feeding the dog and figuring out whether or not today was a short or long pants day (short pants were fine) and noticed that Orion was visible right over my garage.

I called for my daughters and, when they had stepped out and shut the back door (it was nearly dawn and the light from the laundry room was enough to blind us to the stars) I pointed out his belt and the four stars that insinuate his feet and hands. They couldn’t see it in its entirety. My middle child only saw his belt. I think they might have been having trouble connecting such unreachable dots. Either way, though, I was proud. It felt good to share something like that with them. I stood there staring at Orion long after they’d lost interest and I suddenly remembered that the North Star is part of one of the constellations. But which one? I simply cannot remember. Is it the bright star at the bottom of Orion that denotes his left foot? Or is it part of the Big Dipper?

Thinking about this took me back to basic training and all the times during our land navigation courses that I disappointed my Drill Sergeants (not to mention my Battle Buddies who trudged through the woods behind me in the exact wrong direction) to the point of nearly giving up on me. They never actually quit trying to teach me, but they were certainly frustrated that, hundreds of push-ups later, I still couldn’t sufficiently navigate my way out of an MRE bag when given a map, a compass and a block of instruction.

Then I thought about all the times in my civilian life when, trying to back-track some road-trip route, I swore up and down that I needed to go left when I actually should’ve gone right.  I don’t tend to give in to the fact that I’ve taken wrong turns, and, though suspicions are sneaking up on me, I continue making wrong turns until the web of wrong turns is so convoluted that I can’t even reverse the wrong turn route to get back to the first wrong turn I took. I’ve ended up turning around in so many private drives with no trespassing signs posted that I’m surprised my back bumper isn’t riddled with bird shot. I’m also surprised my wife has never actually thrown up all over the car. She gets car sick, especially when a twisty-turny route is combined with the stress of knowing she’s lost with an idiot who won’t admit he’s lost. She’s a real trooper. Thank God she didn’t know me in my Army days when my poor direction finding could’ve landed our necks under the blade of some radical’s machete. (They never gave me the map in a combat zone, by the way. I made it perfectly clear that doing so would mean certain death.)

As I thought about all these things this morning, staring up at the sky with my children chirping at the periphery of my hearing that we needed to go inside and eat breakfast, I realized I’m a defective man. I don’t have whatever it is they say men have that help them find directions. I don’t have a genetic compass, and for a moment I felt cheated. I mentally shook my fist at Orion for bringing on this realization.

We finally went inside to get ready for school and as my daughters ate granola bars and my son dumped peanuts from the jar to a bowl and back again for some reason, I realized, no matter what I may be missing in my own genes, I have my children. I have my wife. We have a house and food, jobs, cars, our vision and hearing and health. We have hope for the future and a contented complacency in the present.

I may be a defective man, I realized, but I’m perfectly OK with that. Thank you, Orion. Thank you for speaking to me simply by sitting in the morning sky. I mentally unshake my fist at you, you big celestial dude, you.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…step outside in the dark now and then and let the stars speak to you. You never know what they might say.

A don’t…forget what you do have when you’re bummed out by what you don’t have. What you do have is probably pretty great. You might just need to take a few quiet minutes to realize it.

Mothman: Another Misunderstood Monster

As far as I can tell from all the Mothman stories I’ve read and that one movie I watched, Mothman, although menacing in appearance, was after nothing so substantial as our very souls.

I’ll explain. I read no accounts of disemboweled animals. No eviscerated owls or exsanguinated cattle were ever found that I know of. Simply humans. Frightened horrified humans. And what is one thing that all humans, especially suburbanites in the 50’s, have in common?

They have clothes on. Right? No one that I read about was out for a nude stroll when Mothman confronted them. They were out with their families having completely G-rated (and in the case of the teens that saw him/her/it no more than PG, it was 50’s conservative suburbia, for crying out loud). They were wearing clothes!

Moths eat clothes. Men wear clothes. Mothman was either hungry or ashamed of his nudity. He didn’t want to horrify folks. He wanted to eat their Sunday best. He didn’t want to scare them. He couldn’t help that, by nature, he was scary. He wanted to either eat or wear their clothes and he hesitated. He never killed anyone because he just couldn’t decide which clothes looked tasty and which looked fashionable and I think, deep down, he didn’t want to kill anyone anyway. Otherwise, he would’ve.

Now, about that bridge collapse and the idea that Mothman prophesied it. Perhaps he truly did. But I think, in his innocent monster way, he didn’t show up to warn people about it. I don’t think he truly realized that people were dying. I think he simply thought “CLOTHES BUFFET!” And all the carnage was lost on him because it all had this decadent stagnant water sauce on it and he didn’t even stop to think about the terror that had been wrought on the small community he’d been terrorizing. He was, after all, a monster. A hungry, naked, confused monster.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…wear clothes, even though it might attract mothman.

A don’t…stroll nude to repel him. The police are much more prevalent than mothmen and much more likely to complicate your life should they find you unclothed in public.