Wednesday, May 20, 2009

To boldly split infinitives

From blogs
I have tried my best not to get too excited about it.

Ever since I heard about this new Star Trek movie, I've been telling myself, "They're gonna mess it up. It will be another one of those typical summer-blockbuster mentality movies: All whiz-bang and no substance."

Well, I've been nurturing a some nerds of my own for the last 10 years in preparation for the movie event of their generation. And whaddya know? This one's it!

From the opening scene to the closing words and those familiar chords that tug any self-respecting nerd's heartstrings, it was a real winner of a Star Trek movie, despite what some other hard cores are saying, and despite it being the 11th movie in the series of Star Trek - breaking the odd-numbered movie curse.

Rachael leaned against me for the entire movie, gripping my hand during the intense moments and uttering squeals of delight for the Trekkie humor. Her review of the movie was obvious to me even before it was over: "Daddy, that movie was AWESOME!"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rare find

On Monday I took the girls to Virginia Beach to look for seashells. Since it was in the low fifties with a chance of rain all day, I made a weak attempt to talk them out of it.

"Girls, it's going to feel very cold at the beach today. Are you sure you want to go?"

"Yes daddy. If we go to the beach before it's hot, we might find some really good seashells before everyone else goes down there and gets them all."

"Ok. Let's go."

As I suspected, the wind was indeed chilling, but we took off our shoes and went walking in the sand anyway. And really, we were having so much fun that we didn't mind the cold.

Julia must have yelled out my name a dozen times: "Daddy! Look what I found!" as she would show me another half-broken shell. But I would always respond with a reassuring, "Oooh! What a pretty shell!"

Then she called out my name again.

Almost absent mindedly I gave her the reasurring words that were now almost automatic, until I saw what she had:

Wow. A seahorse. And a big one at that. Now that's a rare find, indeed!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Free to Comment

I find it troubling when intelligent discussion is stifled by emotions.

We're all human and often victims to the irrationality of our own inner voices, but that doesn't mean we should stop communicating. I don't know anyone that *wants* to be wrong, but we can't all be right either.

So if you feel that your voice isn't being given a fair hearing somewhere else, then feel free to express yourself right here.

I will leave your post intact, but with the following three caveats:

  1. Do not be vulgar or profane. If you can't express yourself without it, then cool off and come back later.
  2. Do not post slander here. If you want to be rude or get yourself into legal trouble then make your own blog.
  3. Do not abuse my hospitality. This blog post is for commentary that you feel would otherwise be stifled - not a bathroom wall for unintelligible or esoteric gibberish.
With that, I welcome your comments...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

10 Acre Woods

What do you do when you have 10-acres of wooded land, two little girls that love the outdoors, and a guy that's never going to grow up (if he can help it)?

You play.

When I was child, that is - before I started looking like an adult, I dreamt of treehouses in the woods where I could hide, read, play, and just sit and think. When I purchased this land many years ago, one of the prerequisite characteristics of the land was to have a stream, a place for trails, and trees that could support rope swings and tree houses. This land met all of those criteria.

With a little help from my friends, I've even put in this nifty fire ring in a clearing behind my house.

As for the treehouse, I started it back in December of 2007. How high is it? Well, it's about 24 feet from the creek that runs beneath it to the floor of the treehouse. Notice my two girls playing in the creek under the treehouse. Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos during the early construction phase.

Apart from a few hours of help in putting the floor joists in, I built this entire structure alone.

Many thanks to Kelly who gave me her used fence boards as siding for my home away from home.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A warm video

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Dobble-U's Surprise

I have a good friend from Argentina whose name is Walter Ruggieri.

Have you ever met someone who can travel to a foreign country and after a few days is able to imitate the accent well enough to be mistaken for a native (or perhaps even a peculiar native with a slight speech impediment)? Well, Walter is not that kind of person. Even if he didn't speak, you'd have to suppress a compulsion to say to him, "You're not from 'round here, are ya son?" And it has always struck me as rather comical that when he leaves me a voice mail, it is usually prefaced by "Ay! My-kell! Thees ees Wahl-tare... from Arjaynteena", as if I my brow would furrow in confusion trying to distinguish which "Wahl-tare" this was -- as if the accent wasn't a dead giveaway already.

Walter (or Dobble-U, as I refer to him with Philia) is a gregarious fellow who is married to Melanie, and this weekend, he celebrated his 30th birthday.

30 is one of those birthdays that pass by with anonymity for most people. No black balloons or walkers for 30-year-olds. On the other hand, there are usually no big birthday bashes celebrating a rite-of-passage either. Most of us just quietly pass into the age that as teenagers seemed old but not yet decrepit.

Melanie, ever the good wife, decided that quiet transition was not suitable for her hubby. Quietly, secretly, she planned for a birthday party that he would never forget.

On the day of the big event, fifty or so of his friends occupied the private party room of Roma's Italian Restaurant in Richmond, Va. We watched a multimedia presentation followed by a short video of his parents wishing him a Happy Birthday from Argentina. It went kind of like this: "Blah, blah, blah, blah Wahl-tare blah, blah blah" (it was in Spanish.) Then his father who is an accomplished musician on the accordion (If there is such a thing, then this man is the Liberace of the accordion!) played "Happy Birthday" to Walter.

It was a touching scene, and Walter was visibly... touched.

Then, as if they stepped through a Stargate, Walter's parents stepped into the back of the room, with full accordion accompaniment, continuing the song that had just been playing on the video.

Walter was astonished.

How can they be here? Is this a joke? Are they holograms or impersonators or something?

Melanie had been planning for months. She obtained visas, coordinated passport updates, bought plane tickets, arranged for lodging... the WORKS! And his parents had been in town for two days, just waiting for their grand entrance! They'll make their stay worth the trip, since Walter's parents will be in town until June 26th.

It was an amazing scene that I was blessed to be a witness to.

Happy Birthday to you Wahl-tare (from Arjaynteena).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

How are you, anyway?

A dear friend asked me today how I was doing. It's the kind of question that a person is asked far more often than the answer is relevant or even desired, but in this particular case, my dear friend really did care.

The answer was worth posting here, so here it goes:

Me? Little ole' me?

Well, health-wise, apart from some sneeze attacks and itchy eyes (which are typical maladies for me this time of the year), I'm pleased with the state of my health.

This past Saturday, Rachael and I went riding on the motorcycle to Richmond. On the way there, we stopped at a rescue squad open house where all sorts of rescue equipment was on display, including a brand new, shiny, sparkling, yellow helicopter. The pilot told us to hang around for a few minutes because we'd get to see him take off, which we did. As the grass was rippling outward from the center and the trees limbs were dancing to the music of the chopping blades, the helicopter slowly defied gravity as it rose into the air. With windblown hair and detritus swirling around us, Rachael and I were both smiling and cheering excitedly like little kids.

We then mounted our motorized steed and were off to our favorite ice cream store. The store always has the smell of fresh-baked waffle cones. After briefly perusing over the myriad of choices she settled on the chocolate-chocolate chip and I ordered the almond-amaretto. We sat outside on semi-circular benches, licking our treats, trying in vain to keep it from dripping on our hands while telling fun stories.

We then rode downtown to historic Richmond. People walking on the sidewalks and sitting on porches kept smiling and waving at us. I was wondering why people were being so friendly. Then I noticed that Rachael was busy smiling and waving at everyone that we passed. When I realized this it made me smile even more. She's such a friendly and passionate person - the kind you want to have around you because just having them around makes you feel better somehow.

We rode by the monuments on Monument Avenue, and I stopped at the monument of J.E.B. Stuart to tell Rachael about our famous cousin. When we were finished looking at the statue of the red-headed general, I turned around and pointed to the window of the room where her great grandfather departed from this life at Stuart Circle hospital. I told her what a profound influence that man had on my life, how much he meant to me, and how much he would have loved her if he could have met her. (Rachael was conceived just days after he passed away.)

By the time we got home, the sun was giving everything a deceitfully warm hue, but we were a little chilled, so we put on our swim suits and jumped in the hot tub for a good warming.

So, how am I over all? Well, I'm still a friendly and passionate person, but I'm having trouble finding a starting point in this maze of mental disarray. It's like a large, tangled mess of string that I somehow have to put back on the spool. Not a task beyond my ability, but I just long for the patience that I had 20 years ago.