Blogger Template by Blogcrowds

My mind was wandering a bit as I drove Rylee to school this morning. We were discussing the odds of her catching a leprechaun with the shoe box that she was bringing to school strictly for that purpose, when two squirrels raced in front of my truck. They were having a serious disagreement about something and it almost got them run over. I spent the next several minutes pondering what in the world squirrels have to fight about. There must be a thousand oaks just in my neighborhood and about a billion untouched acorns on the ground in my yard. Plenty to go around... What else would they be fighting about?

The conversation then turned to garbage trucks. "WHY would Henry, the boy in my class, LOVE garbage trucks?" Rylee asked.
"Well...They are really big powerful machines." I said. "And they are loud."
"But why does he love them?"
"I am explaining to you the attributes of heavy equipment that might fascinate a young man. Like hydraulics!"
"What's hydraulics?"
"Hydraulics are what power the arms on the front that pick up the garbage bins. They use fluid to push a piston in a cylinder. You know the syringe that we use to give you medicine?" And I continued to expound on hydraulic principals, but I won't bore you with that. I finished with "Boys just like big machines. Do you like big machines?"
"Umm, no." She said. I guess she isn't going to be my tomboy.

We pulled into the school parking lot "I hope your day goes swimmingly." I said
"What is swimmingly?" She asked
"That means I hope that your day goes smoothly and everything goes your way."
"What is smoothly?"
"I just hope you have a good day and that you are happy all day."

At this point you are probably thinking, "Yeah, you are strange." Well, I won't deny that, but I came across someone even stranger at the grocery store.

I pulled into the Sweet Bay parking lot to pick up some breakfast things for the other three girls. The lot was mostly empty, but I parked right next to the only car in the lot. It was a smart car. I have a Yukon and I couldn't resist parking my gas guzzling, DVD equipped, urban assault vehicle next to the sorriest excuse for a car ever invented and admiring the size difference. I have nothing against saving some gas. I cringe every time I pull up to the pump and have to swipe my card twice to fill up, but Smart cars just have no style. But I digress.

I did my shopping and hit the express lane, even though I had eleven items. (I'm a rebel at heart I guess. I also like to enter through the exit door, mostly because it irritates my wife.) In front of me was a ragged looking fellow. Worn out work boots, covered by filthy faded Levis, a dark blue Members Only jacket that was obviously purchased when they were still in style, about two decades ago. Long stringy hair, that in his younger days must have been blond, tumbled out from under a floppy, camouflage print, mesh hat. His face had that weathered look that one gets from years of working out doors and was covered with a scrubby looking goatee.

I had run across him a few times before at the check out. Always early in the morning and he was always buying beer. He looked about a step away from being homeless. Not that I have much room to talk. My daily wardrobe choices might very well put me in the same category, but he looked pretty rough.

As I said, I had met him before and he always seemed fairly personable, if not totally lucid, so I greeted him. "How ya doin?" I said. He gave me that look you give when someone greets you like they know you, but you have no idea who they are and so you try to pull off that you totally remember them. He sort of reeled back and opened his eyes wide. "Hey, buddy! I'm doin good?" He glanced down at my basket and then turned to the check out lady, Joy. "Put his stuff on mine." He said.
"Aw, you don't have to do that." I said.
"No, I'm getting it." he continued.
"Really, that isn't necessary." I said.
"Ring it up." He said, turning to Joy. "Let me do this." he said back in my direction.
"Well, okay. Thanks. That is very kind of you." I said.
He glanced at Joy's name tag and said "Joy, that is a nice name." and then he looked at me. There was a sort of awkward pause, so to fill the void I said, "Yeah, Joy, it's a happy name, isn't it?" Joy directed him to punch in his pin and then to verify the amount. The guy seemed a little confused by the whole process and I wondered if he was already hammered.

"I never got your name." I said, extending my hand. He shook my hand and then looked a little uncomfortable and said "I'll talk to you outside."
"Um, okay." I said with a shrug.
I loaded the bags in the cart and followed him out side.
"That was really kind of you, thanks a lot." I said, "My name is Mark."
"T.J." he said with a smile. Then he produced the receipt and said "The reason I did that is that I need some cash. It was $17.89. So if you could just give me the cash?"
"Ummm, I don't have any cash." I said with a sigh. I thought about reminding him that when you use a debit card you have the opportunity to get cash back, but as I watched him swaying on his feet I decided that it would be a waste of breath.
"Just a minute, I will go get some cash." I said. So I strolled back into the store and bought a pack of gum, Rylee likes gum anyway, and got $20 back. Joy looked at me with a raised eyebrow. "He did that so I would give him cash..." I told her.
"Do you know him?" She asked, clearly suspicious.
"I have met him in line here a few times. I think he is harmless." I said.
Joy gave me a twenty. "Could I have some smaller bills?"
"You will have to go to customer service." She said.

So I got change and walked outside where I left TJ and my grocery cart. They weren't there. I was thinking "Well, he paid for them anyway... What is he going to do with four pounds of frozen French toast sticks, two dozen eggs, some bananas and a loaf of Wonder bread?" and then I noticed he had walked a little ways down the sidewalk. He was standing there with a lit Marlboro rooting through my grocery bags. He looked up and nonchalantly tied the bag in a knot and set it back in the basket. "This is one strange dude, I wonder what he is up to?" I was thinking to myself.

I gave TJ his $18 and headed to my car while he was slurred something about bumping into old friends in the Sweet Bay parking lot. "Alright, I'll catch ya later." I said as I was getting out of earshot.

On the way home I saw a dead cat in the road. The poor guy was flat as a pancake. There was a vulture standing next to it and as I passed another vulture landed next to the cat and the two birds stood very erect and eyed each other. Neither making a move toward the cat. I was trying to imagine what they would be saying if they could talk.
"You gonna eat that?"
"I was thinkin bout it..."
"It looks a little ripe."
An awkward pause.
"Why don't you try it?"
"No, no, after you."

Then on reflecting upon what had been going through my mind I started to wonder if maybe I am the strange one.


I am going to have to give my girls some insturction on identifying different types of rocks and minerals.

Recently my job took me to Athens, Greece. I walked up to the Akropolis and thought it would be neat if I brought some rocks back for the girls. I didn't steal any marble slabs or anything, just some stray stones from the walkways. Ever since I gave those to the girls they have been obsessed with collecting rocks. They have spent hours digging through the yard and come up with some interesting specimens. I had no idea that we had that many rocks in the yard. It appears now that there may be more rocks and sand that grass.

This morning I stepped out side to feed the dog and notice a good size pile of rocks on the patio table and I stopped to take a look at their collection. Most of them were white in color, but at the top of the pile there was a darker one. I thought "What is that?" So I looked a little closer.

Yep, the reason it was darker was that it had previously been dog food.

It occurred to me that I don't really spend that much time doing things with the kids. When I am not flying I spend most of the time at home trying to get the kids to leave me alone and stop whining long enough for me to get some dishes washed or food prepared or a wall painted. I was starting to feel a little guilty that I had not spend any "quality" time with them. And so today I took Reagan from school straight to Dairy Queen. That was nice. I picked up Rylee early from her after school program. That was nice too. Then I thought it would be fun if I got the big green ball from upstairs and we all kicked it around together in the back yard.

I had images in my head of my daughters frolicking through the back yard with huge grins on their faces, their hair shimmering like gold in the late afternoon sun. I pictured them being overwhelmingly happy that Dad had taken some time and devoted it strictly to playing with them.

It took about ten minutes to find the ball and convince Jordan to put on some pants. I finally got Jordan and Rylee out the door and told them what I had in mind. For emphasis I gave the ball a good kick. It soared into the air, bounced off the tree and went into the pool. So I had to take down the pool fence to get it while Rylee lectured me on the risks of getting her feet wet and dirty by playing with the ball now that it had been in the pool and advising me to dry it off before we continued. "It'll be fine. It will be dry in no time. Don't worry about it. Come on." I said.

I proceeded to kick the ball down the hill and out into the open grass. Jordan followed me down and Rylee stopped at the top of the hill. "I don't have shoes on, Dad." She said.
"That is okay." I said and kicked off my flip flops.
"But I want shoes..."
"You don't need shoes."
"I'll be right back." She said and disappeared inside.

I called to Reagan and Madison, who were playing on the side of the house. "Reagan...Reagan...Madison...REAGAN..." They must be deaf.
I walked back up the hill. "Madi and Reagan, come here. Lets play ball." Madison came trotting over with a smile. Reagan, who had just seen the neighbors sprinklers come on disappeared without a word to retrieve her bathing suit.

So for a few minutes Jordan, Madi, and I kicked the ball around and were having a pretty good time. Then Rylee came out, stood at the top of the hill, lifted up her left foot to show me the flip flops that she had donned. "Okay, you have your shoes. Come on." I said. She trotted down the hill. "Alright, Rylee, I will kick the ball to you and you kick it to Jordan and Jordan will kick it to Madi." I said
"No, no, no, Dad, I wan't to play basketball." She ran over to the fence and started to explain the rules of her version of basketball. She was describing the placement of the imaginary hoops when Reagan reemerged from the house in her swimsuit, trotted down the hill, kicked the ball and began dribbling it down the yard like Pele. "NOOOOO! Dad! She is cheating! REAGAN!!!" Rylee shrieked.
"Rylee, come on, lets just kick the ball." I said and ran after Reagan. Rylee scowled, marched up the hill did an abrupt about face and with arms straight down at her sides, fist bunched into tight fists, yelled "I'm not playing! This isn't what I want to do!"
"Rylee..." I said with what must have been an exasperated tone. But she turned on her heel and marched into the house and slammed the door. She did come back out to shout at us a few minutes later, but it was unintelligible.

So Jordan and I chased Reagan for a few minutes. It took Jordan about two minutes to realize that she wasn't having fun and collapse on the ground in tears. Madison reappeared. She had slipped away to put on her swimsuit as well. For a moment I thought about the fact that they had just added to the amount of laundry that need to be done, but banished that to the back of my mind. I tried to organize them into a rough circle so that we could kick the ball back and forth. That didn't really work... I have a new found respect for kindergarten P.E. teachers. Every time the ball was kicked to anyone but Jordan she would collapse to the ground and begin to sob again. "Jo, come on, we have to share. Madi, kick the ball to Jo." I said. Madison instead threw herself on top of the ball. Reagan, who was surely only trying to help (uh huh) tried to kick the ball and instead connected with Madison's arm. "Oops. Saweeee." she said, not looking very concerned, as Madison joined her sister in wailing at the top of her lungs.

It pretty much went down hill from there. I did get a few more giggles by picking them up under the arms and twirling in a circle, but every time I put a kid down she would start to cry again.

So my attempt at family time ended up with four dirty kids, two of whom where crying inconsolably, one who was having a temper tantrum, and me feeling dizzy and somewhat nauseous.

And then I stepped in some dog poop.


Newer Posts Older Posts Home