Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sea Monkeys

I did not know, though I'm not at all surprised, that sea monkeys hatch from eggs, require fish food, and grow to maturity in five days. The sea monkeys will also live in my bathroom, next to the toothpaste, and I'm not allowed to play with them.

My daughter is happy, delighted actually; I just feel confused, like cows are forming a political party.

Good night.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Flowers

I put some mums and daisies and daffodils in our containers out front today. Sunshine yellow and paper white and a kind of fuschia purple that you might find in a big box of crayons. After the heavy rain overnight and this morning, the soil was moist and clumpy and perfect for planting. It's a delight to see those colors after the drab winter.

When I dream of the few years I'm likely to allow myself for full retirement, I dream of gardens. A space filled with bright annuals and persistent wildflowers and bushes and perennials that require seasonal care and attention. A place to sweat and get the good soil of the earth under my nails.

You see I spent a good part of my young adult years caring for other people's gardens. It was good work while I was a student. It left me time to think and to dream. It gave me wholesome work to do while I was still unsure of how I would make my way in the world. It's good to begin in a garden.

And in the event the pleasant garden of my retirement does not materialize someday (though I very much hope it does), I spend a little time - a day each season at most - uprooting and pruning and making my little temporary garden fresh. Yellow, white, fuschia and the black moist, musty soil of early spring; they're all in my thoughts today and will be in my dreams tonight.

I'm looking out at those flowers now. I know the earth and all its changes are stirring and that new things will come. I wonder what this season will bring. I'm planting the flowers and hoping. I'm thinking and dreaming of what will come.

Good night.

Monday, March 14, 2011

What to do?

Everyday is a tough day for somebody. I hear the news, personal and local and from far away and know there's always something tough going on somewhere.

But some days it just feels like there is a lot of that toughness coming down, like a bad winter or a hot summer or a rainy spring. I can just feel it like I imagine some animals can feel the approach of a weather front, though it may be miles away.

But what to do? Grab a shovel and hop on a plane? Sit with my head down and worry? I know today that neither of those impulses are correct, but sometimes I struggle to find the motivation to do anything at all.

I once saw a quote of Ghandi's posted at eye level on a colleagues' desk that read something to the effect of "Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it."

And in the way of the best advice, those words startled me and puzzled me and stuck to me persistently. Those words came back to me again and again whenever I felt like putting down a dull task, or letting my feelings delay a necessary task. Those words dogged me and made me uncomfortable when I was already uncomfortable.

It's been at least ten years since I read those words, and that colleague has probably moved to a new job, just as I have. But now I find them a great comfort. When I feel helpless, like there's nothing I can do to help a situation far beyond my control. When I wish I could be there, or could have been there, and feel like chucking whatever insignificant task I'm working on, those words keep me steady and on track.

And so today I'm trying to remind myself that the small actions and decisions of people who had ordinary responsibilities in ordinary jobs just a week ago had impacts they could never have foreseen. That the small, seemingly insignificant tasks or routines that they had done countless times before would ensure that a valve worked, or a sensor was functioning or a monitor would shut some itself down automatically if the earth shook.

So today I'm trying to focus on the small tasks that I've been given, however small and unimportant they may seem. And today I'll try to keep my mind on the little wheels and cogs that would only matter if they stopped. Today I'll be responsible. I guess it's time for me to get back to work.

Hope you have a good day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Techie Days

I'm trying a new method of posting from my smart phone - my new toy - so these new on-the-run posts may be short; hopefully it will encourage me to be concise.

I'm a reluctant techie; I work in technology but drag my heels to use it. My kids are already more comfortable with the new tools and toys than I think I will ever be.

And even though I'm on a smart phone, I can't bring myself to use texting abbreviations like 'K for okay or 4 for for or u for you. Which all makes me a bit of a dinosaur by most measures - but I'm soldiering on none the less.

I wonder what my kids will think someday when they read all this (if all this is still here) - part of my reason for blogging is to provide a record for them of this time in their lives. I wonder how quaint it will seem. I wonder what they will think.

Well, this post already is long enough to be disqualified as a tweet - the new bantam weight of pith. So please bear with this old dino Dad as he tries to evolve before the next meteor strike.

BBN - sorry, couldn't resist.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Free Sample

I had an embarrassing parent-ashamed-to-be-seen-by-their-child-in-public moment on Saturday.

I had my son with me and we were stopping for a cup of coffee at our corner shop before going to join my wife and daughter for services. While waiting in line, I noticed one of those square ceramic serving plates the shop sometimes uses for free pastry samples - I'm not to be trusted around those. It was sitting on the counter near the register and on it was the last lonely piece of a butter croissant.

I looked at that bite of croissant the way my son sometimes eyes a lollipop he's not supposed to take. I wrestled oh so briefly with my don't-take-the-last-of-anything scruple sensor and then did the what the bad angel whispered in my ear; I picked the flaky bite between forefinger and thumb.

You can likely guess the outcome.

Somewhere in the second between taking the sample in my greedy fingers and popping it in my mouth, I realized it was not a sample.

That awkward fact dawned on me as I saw the horrified look spread across the face of the twenty-something male barista who looked as though he'd just seen a baboon making donuts. I quickly tried to recover by offering to replace the soiled article, but the poor woman I'd pilfered from was gone in a heartbeat and there was no easy way to recover.

This left me facing the smirks and glares and open mouthed stares of the folks in line behind me - not to mention my impressionable son. Was I ever wanting to sink through the floor.

I left with what dignity I could recover (not much) and tried to imagine how I could manage my life without my daily stop at my favorite coffee shop - not a happy prospect.

A couple of days have passed since my confection transgression and that glowing red embarrassment in my cheeks has faded to a guilty pink.

I went back to the scene of the crime this morning to take my medicine and let the attendants have a few laughs at my expense. It felt about as bad as seeing someone after an awkward date, but it had to be done.

After re-crossing that threshold, I had a couple of thoughts about the whole thing.

On reflection, I think I made a terrible faux pas, but an honest mistake; I've decided to try and let the incident roll off and move on. I've also decided to not to attempt an apology if I ever run into that poor lady again; there's no sense in making things more embarrassing for her. I'll just have to remain that guy who took that lady's food for as long as folks remember and bear with it.

And if one thing is for sure, I've also decided to swear off free samples for life.