Sunday, January 31, 2010

Advice I might not always give.

I'm in a mood.

I don't know if you would call it reflective, or nostalgic, or contemplative, or goofy -- but I feel the need to pass on some advice to my children, that I might not otherwise share. So, I thought I'd write it down before the mood passes.

To my children,

Life is short.

You don't realize this yet. But before you know it, you'll be staring down the barrel of forty, you'll have a spouse and a mortgage and kids of your own. You'll have responsibilities and cares. That's the way of life, and it's okay. In fact, it can be wonderful. But, right now, you're very lucky -- childhood is a precious gift. Mine certainly was, and if I could grant you one wish right now, it would be for you to have the magical childhood that I had.

There are things that I want you to do....but not necessarily while I'm watching...

My advice to you is to stomp in the rain puddles. Make the biggest splash you can.

Pour glue into the palm of your hand, let it dry and peel away your new skin.

Eat snow. White snow.

Climb higher than you think you can. Higher than you think I would want you to.

Play with your food.

Run fast and walk slow.

Jump out of a swing.

Destroy your toys in creative ways (just not your new toys).

When you play games, make up your own rules.

Dream big dreams. You may never be an astronaut, or a secret agent or a superhero, but aim in that direction.

If you find something that needs coloring, color it.

Get dirty.

Get wet.

Sing out loud.

Sneak a kiss, when you get the chance.

Make good friends and big plans.

Build rockets and dig for dinosaurs and have tea parties.

If it's beautiful, stop and look at it a little longer. If it's not beautiful, make it so.

Dance badly, but enthusiastically.

Get to know your world -- hold it, taste it, feel it, take it apart, put it back together (disregard the left over parts), conquer it, stand in awe of it.

Hold every experience in your heart, and make memories.

Write a grand story. Tonight you have my permission.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Listen!....Do you smell something?

The 80's

Just writing those words, like, gags me with a spoon!

I HATE the 80's. The neon colors make me want to wash my eyeballs with clorox. The hair was a fire hazard. The parachute pants make me want to take a long leap off a short pier. The music makes, what's left of the hair on my arm, bristle. The Brat Pack should have been sent to bed without supper.

The 1980's were the most self indulgent, paper thin, phony, superficial time in history. Yes, in HISTORY! I've done the research. I get queasy every time I see Molly Ringwald, or Andrew McCarthy. On that odd occasion that I pass by a radio blaring some 1980's inanity (Wham! or The Thompson Twins or Tears for Fears or......) I go looking for an ice pick to poke holes in my ear drums. I HATE the 80's!



The problem is iTunes.

I'll log on to the iTunes store, innocently searching for some obscure song I heard in the credits of some television show the night before and, INEVITABLY, some title of some 80's song will catch my eye. I try to resist -- already knowing where this path lies. But it keeps calling to me...

"Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiisssssssss. ChrrrrriiiiiiiIIIIIIIIIIIiiiiisssssssssss. Click on me. Please. I'm not like the other stupid songs. I love you. And you love me. We complete each other. Go ahead.....everybody's doing it...."

And, I click.

And then I click on another, and another, and another -- and hours go by. What starts with "Don't Stop Believin'" from the Glee soundtrack becomes the original version from Journey. From Journey it's a quick step to "The Search is Over" by Survivor. From Survivor to Bryan Adams, from Bryan Adams to Cheap Trick to Eddie Money to Europe.


I bought "Carrie" by Europe today. This is how low I have sunk. I also bought "Walk like an Egyptian" by the Bangles. And..."Lost in your Eyes" by Debbie Gibson!!!!

Would you like to hear the worst part?

I've actually been listening to them, because...

I kind of like them. Please don't tell anyone. 

I'm actually craving LOVE BOAT reruns! I need a therapist -- or at least some commiseration. They say misery loves company...

So I'm going to throw out a few obscene words to get you started and drag you down with me:

Like a Virgin, Huxtable, Beat it, Weird Science, Ferris, Bangles, Don't Worry, Be Happy, Starship, Air Supply, Tiffany, Lionel Richie, Bonnie Tyler, Alex P. Keaton, Shout, Duran Duran, Care Bears, Milli Vanilli, Every Rose Has it's thorn, You give love a bad name, Pour some sugar on me in the name of love, NORM!, The Final Countdown, Whatchoo talkin' 'bout Willis, I pity the fool! De Plane!, Excellent!, Bogus!, Condorman!, Sweep the leg, Wax on Wax off, Nobody puts Baby in a corner, Footloose, Need input, We are the world, Never tear us apart, I know you're out there somewhere, Time after time, Crazy for you, Don't dream it's over, I can feel it coming in the air tonight, denim, ghetto blaster, break dance...

I think that's enough.

Are you secretly, or not so secretly, crushing on the 80's? Do you have friendship bracelets and jelly shoes? When no one is looking, do you spray your bangs into a CLAW? Do you like to walk like an egyptian? Would you wear Spandex all day, every day -- if it wasn't a capital crime? Let's play word association: I'll say

"The 80's"

And you say...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Random Memories: The Hut

Eventually, these random memories will find a more permanent home on another blog that my best friend Aaron, and I are working on (well, supposed to be anyway)...

Did you have a clubhouse when you were a kid? Aaron and I built one in my back yard one summer (we also dug for dinosaur bones, and buried Gobots in the garden), and for some odd reason, I find myself thinking of it tonight. Here's what I remember...

A clubhouse to last for the ages. We were the first. The pioneers. The trail blazers. After we built The Hut (we didn't call it the clubhouse), everyone else and their dog decided that they needed some kind of clubhouse for themselves. And all theirs turned out better than ours. But there is something to be said for being the first.

We hauled scrap wood from all over the neighborhood (and beyond) and with our very limited understanding of construction, we built the ugliest hut ever. It looked like an outhouse built for two. Thinking back, I wish we would have cut a little moon in to the door -- for the limited time that we had a door. The thing I was most proud of was the fact that it had an upstairs. We had such big plans for The Hut that first summer -- we were going to sleep out there, and hold all of our clandestine meetings inside. Of course, like a lot of the big plans we had (Project Euphoria), it was more fun to plan than to actually carry out.

Sleeping in The Hut was really out of the question. First of all, it was only about six feet square. Secondly, it was so hot inside -- it was like solitary confinement in some Vietnamese POW camp.

The other great innovation was to build a sloping roof, with a little platform on the front -- just right for jumping off of, on to the trampoline (which was really it's primary purpose for most of it's existence).

I often wish I had a picture of the monstrosity.

What indelible memories do you have from your childhood?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Photostory Friday: 365 Week 4

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily

Day 22

January 22: We're all friends here, right? What happens at "Life...or a Reasonable Facsimile Thereof" stays at "Life...or a Reasonable Facsimile Thereof"?

I once confessed here that I sleep in socks and slippers. Well, there's more. This is Opus. Sharon gave him to me in my stocking on our first Christmas -- fifteen years ago, and sometimes I tuck him in the corner of my elbow, when I sleep.

This is just between us, right?

Day 23

The second phase of my electric guitar/decoupage project. Stay tuned for the final reveal!

Day 24

January 24: Welcome to our home! Sorry about the hair.

Day 25

January 25: Why do I take all the coolest pictures hanging the camera out the window, on the way home from work?

Day 26

January 26: This is what time it was when I stopped playing with my Raisinettes (that just sounds wrong), and decided to take a picture.

Day 27

January 27: This is not the greatest picture, but I wanted to document the event.

This is my right forearm (we come from Swedish stock, we are hairy men, I apologize). After an incident at work Wednesday afternoon -- involving a self inflating pack of exploding foam insulation -- I had to shave my right forearm, with a straight razor blade.

With my left hand.

It was more like hacking, than shaving.

It took an hour and a half.

It was the closest thing I can imagine to being tarred and feathered.

You don't realize just how hairy your arms are, until you shave one of them -- and neither does anyone else. Today (Thursday), I felt like a woman with new breast implants. Everyone talked to my arm.

HEY! My eyes are up here buddy!

Day 28

January 28: Any guesses?

Hosted by Chris

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The iPad


Pretty sure I'm gonna need one of these. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

5 Questions: The third installment

I'm really liking this little segment -- you guys are SO smart!

1. My life is suddenly surrounded by carbon (so is yours, to tell the truth -- and really, there's nothing sudden about it), which naturally makes me wonder about carbonation.

How does this work? Why is my Sprite bubbly?

2. Is it really possible that there have never been two identical snowflakes?

3. What possessed me to rent Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, from Netflix?

If you say "hair envy" I'll ban you from my blog.

4. If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

You had to know this one was coming?

5. A freight train leaves a station traveling at 30 mph. A passenger train leaves the station one hour later, traveling at 50 mph.

How long will it take for the passenger train to overtake the freight train?


I need your input. I want to use some themes for my 365 project, for the month of February. I want to gather seven daily themes, and then repeat them each week for the entire month. Your mission (should you choose to accept) is to supply me with those themes. I'm game for anything.

Almost anything.

Good luck, I'm counting on you.

This blog will self destruct in five secon..........

Monday, January 25, 2010

25 things I ought to be doing

Twenty five things I ought to be doing on the 25th

1. I ought to be working on my "Five Olives Photography" blog.

2. I ought to be doing the dishes.

3. I ought to be folding some laundry.

4. I ought to floss my teeth.

5. I ought to get a head start on my pictures for this week's 365 post. Thursday will be here before I know it.

6. I ought to write something meaningful about what's going on in Haiti.

7. I ought to write something meaningful -- period.

8. I ought to vacuum out my car.

9. I ought to be more informed.

10. I ought to drink more water -- and less soda pop.

11. I ought to stop being my own biggest impediment to success.

12. I ought to clean the black boogers out of my nose.

13. I ought to work on editing the rest of the pictures from the wedding -- almost two weeks ago.

14. I ought to be listening to more Jimmy Buffett.

15. I ought to make my lunch for tomorrow -- because I never do in the morning.

16. I ought to look for more old friends on Facebook.

17. I ought to spend less time on Facebook.

18. I ought to get around and visit more of my blogging friends -- I think about you, does that count?

19. I ought to care more about the time I have with my children, and less about the messes they make. Constantly.

20. I ought to kiss my wife more often.

21. I ought to play the piano more.

22. I ought to work harder for my daily photograph -- I can't stick the camera out the window, on the drive home  EVERY DAY.

23. I ought to oil my bullwhip.

24. I ought to have my wedding ring resized -- but I have to get it off my finger first.

25. I ought to give more thought to writing these daily blog posts.

That list was surprisingly easy to write. 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Our family. Such as it is.

We had Family Home Evening tonight. I know we're supposed to do it on Mondays, but we get credit for trying, right?

We had a lesson from Matthew on the importance of getting our work done before we play. He gets credit for trying too  :)

We had root beer floats for a treat, and then Emma provided our activity: Everyone drew a picture of the family.

Art is short for articulation, it is our personal perspective on the world. I found it very interesting to browse through the family "art" tonight, and have a look at our little family, through each of their eyes. Up first:


This one is full of subtle context. First of all, we're all sort of "bursting" on to the scene -- like something from a broadway musical. I'm on the far left, and I have a "Y" tattooed on my forehead -- but it looks a little like the swastika tattooed on Charles Manson's forehead. Emma is on the far right, and her head appears to have exploded.

This is the most accurate representation of our family.



Matthew is a minimalist when it comes to art -- which is why we look like flowers (or the aliens from Close Encounters of the Third Kind). He's also a little vague about who is actually in the family -- I have no idea who Dan is.

Then there's:


Jordan is our artist. She works the longest, and takes the project the most serious -- she's going to be a fashion designer when she grows up. So, even though we all look like thumbs -- we're impeccably dressed thumbs. And I have eyelashes every man would kill for -- the kind you can pick things up with.

Followed by:

Dad (that's me)

If, while perusing my blog, you have ever asked yourself "Why did Chris start taking pictures?"

Well, this is why. We look like we have Tyrannosaurus Rex arms. And I embellished the amount of hair I actually have on my head. But, you'll notice that my picture is the only one that actually included our dog, Vader.

That's because Vader only exists virtually -- I created him on the Wii Fit Plus. But, I have to tell you, as far as pets go, he's been virtually no trouble at all. Ha ha.

We are a symmetrical bunch though....

And last of all:

Sharon (mom, the boss, numero uno honcho, the big cheese...)

This one is my favorite of all. The girls in the family all grow beards, my hair is some kind of punk purple, pink, brown conglomeration (but at least it's there), the men only wear ties, and the women only wear lampshades.

So, that's our family. Feel free to drop by anytime.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blah. And then some.


Blah blah blah blah blah! And then blah blah blah. But the last time blah blah blah blah. BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH! I didn't even blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. So I stuck it in the blah blah blah blah blah, and it fell off of the blah blah blah.

You have no idea about the blah blah blah blah. So she took my blah blah blah blah, and kicked the blah out of the blah blah.

Blah blah to the stinking blah. Then the blah ghost and werewolves and blah blah blah blah. And BLAH! But, I'm not going there.

Blah came to the blah and blah the guppies and puppies and blah blah blah blah.

Blah just made me want to blah all over the place, but I blah blah blah until I fell on my blah!

So, in conclusion, BLAH! Because blah doesn't blah, but sometimes blah does blah. And that's where all the blah went. Blah blah blah blah blah blah the size of it.

And that's really all I have to say tonight.


And just because I like you, a random Calvin and Hobbes:

(Don't you miss Calvin and Hobbes?)

Friday, January 22, 2010


Have you met my wife, Sharon?

She's still alive.

I know what you're thinking -- duh.

A year ago today, I took her life for granted. But, a year ago tomorrow, everything changed. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the first visit to the hospital. The day we found out it wasn't just fatigue and it wasn't an ulcer. It was the day the first doctor said cancer.

We hadn't heard of a rare form of stomach cancer called a GIST (Gastro Intestinal Stromal Tumor), nor had we seen specialists and cried and prayed and asked the same question over and over and over again: why?

I thought, looking back, a year out, all I would see would be blackness. But things turned out a little differently. Sharon came through the cancer. She is cancer free. And that event kicked off a remarkable year for us. In many ways, 2009 was a very rough year for many families, including ours. But this kick in the teeth changed us, and perhaps it strengthened us for challenges that would come later. For all the struggle, our marriage is better than it has ever been -- and it's always been a good one.

I thank God every day that my wife is still by my side. Sharon is my muse, my best friend, my most honest critic, my sounding board, my greatest cheerleader, my strength, my companion and partner, my whole world. The thought of watching her slip away was more than I could handle, and I guess God knew that. Words are cheap, but if I could have taken the burden from her shoulders, I would have, and it would have been purely selfish -- it would have been easier for me. God gave me a second chance to love her better, to appreciate her more, and to show her that her life means more to me than my own.

I'm not a perfect husband. I don't say these things as often as I should, but Sharon, I think them constantly.

I love you.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Photostory Friday/365 Week: 3

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Michelle

Day 15

January 15: My first reaction, when I see an empty watercolor tray, is delight. My littlest is full of life, and she paints in broad strokes and bright colors.

My second reaction is resignation. She painted on every piece of paper in the printer.

Day 16

January 16: Bleak midwinter. Sometimes beauty is so subtle that you have to look long and hard to find it. I stomped around in the weeds and snow for a good hour, trying to find a way to make this landscape beautiful.

Day 17

January 17: The Star of Bethlehem? No, just the street light, in our cul-de-sac. I was actually trying some creative photography, that didn't quite work out. That ghostly blue stuff is the lights flashing from the wheels of my son's Ripstick. I was going for light streaks. I laid on the cold pavement for a good half hour.

Day 18

January 19: Lines always grab my attention, and I see these power lines on my way home from work every night, but I've never been able to figure out how to shoot them (while going 60 mph). Monday, the clouds and the sky showed me the way.

Day 19

January 19: Self Portrait.

This is my newest identity -- at least temporarily. I began working this week for a company that makes drill bits for miners and geologists -- VERY BIG DRILL BITS.

It is a noisy, dirty job. Very dirty. I am no longer just a carbon based life form, I'm also a carbon COVERED life form.

Day 20

January 20: A twenty-one mile round trip. Such is my movie theater popcorn mania. It's worth every mile. (Incidentally, I just get the popcorn and go home -- who can afford to go to a movie these days?)

Day 21

January 21: I've been eating a LOT of chocolate lately. Truthfully, I've been eating more Raisinettes than Peanut M&M's, but Raisinettes look like rabbit droppings.

Hosted by Chris