Saturday, January 22, 2005

As Big as Four

January 22nd. Today is my daughter’s birthday -- she turns four!

This morning I woke her up and held up four fingers. “How many fingers am I holding up?“ I asked. Big, wide grin. She doesn’t miss a thing.

She got up and stood in front of the mirror and asked me if she were bigger. I told her she was as big as a four-year-old today.

And she is.

We are having a birthday party for my daughter and her little friends this afternoon, and the children want to dress up and pretend to be princesses. So my wife made some little princess skirts out of colorful material, and the kids are going to make little crowns to put on their heads so that they can pretend to be princesses.

There will be only one prince at the party. His name is Miles. He will be here with all of these other little girls. But he can hold his own.

For her birthday I bought my daughter a big house for her Barbie dolls to live in. (Right now, Barbie is living in a cardboard box with a window cut into it.) The new Barbie house is pretty neat. It has lights and a doorbell and a shower and furniture and everything. I know she will enjoy it. She already enjoys playing with her Barbie and Kelly and Wonder Woman dolls and dressing them up.

Wonder Woman is my favorite.

My mother-in-law came into town for the birthday party, and she and Caryn made a birthday cake. I think everybody will have a good time.

Even Miles.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Sunday: Penguins, Loaves and Fishes

I have just concluded Sunday breakfast with a steaming cup of chamomile tea.

This is day three without coffee, and no headache yet. Since becoming ill with an upper respiratory infection Thursday, I have given up the coffee in favor of juices, chamomile and green teas, and have yet to experience any adverse effects. So far so good. Let's see how long I can last...

I always enjoy Sunday breakfast. It is the one day of the week my family is together during breakfast time. (We are often together Saturday mornings, but not always). Sunday usually means the biggest breakfast of the week, and sometimes my wife will fry bacon or sausage or cornedbeef hash and make homemade biscuits and we will eat so much that we don't want lunch until two in the afternoon.

Sunday also means Sunday paper, and I have been pleased with the return of the penguin Opus to the Sunday funnies. I was a huge fan of Opus in the 1980s, when I was in high school and college. Steve Dallas, the womanizing lush of an attorney from the 1980s comic strip "Bloom County," has appeared recently in Berkeley Breathed's "Opus" Sunday strip. Seeing attorney Steve Dallas back in action -- now graying and raising a son -- reminds me that 1985 was twenty years ago, and that I, too, am graying and raising a child.

And on Sundays I often take my child to Sunday School.

Recently, the Three-Year-Old class learned about the loaves and the fishes. In the story, Jesus is preaching to a huge crowd of people and everybody gets hungry. So a couple of fish and five loaves of bread are gathered by the disciples and Jesus then performs a miracle by feeding everyone with such a small amount of food.

The miracle did not register with my daughter, but the gathering of the loaves and fishes did:

DADDY: What did you learn about in Sunday school today?
HARPER: About Jesus.
DADDY: What did Jesus do?
HARPER: Jesus talked some kid out of his lunch.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Lost on Gilligan's Island

My friend Michael pointed out to me on the telephone yesterday that "Gilligan's Island" and "Lost in Space" were essentially the same show.

I added that among the obvious thematic similarities there was another aspect to both shows to consider:

One show was supposed to be funny, but usually wasn't.

The other show was supposed to be quite serious, and was often unintentionally funny.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

A Bitter Pill

On October 10th of last year my friend Peter and I attended a St. Louis Rams game at Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks. By the middle of the 4th quarter, the Seahawks were up 27 to 10 over St. Louis. But the Rams pulled it off, spectacularly, winning the game 33 to 27 in overtime. Seattle crumbled in the fourth quarter. The Rams stepped up and did what they had to do to win the game.

Peter and I were bitterly disappointed.

The Seahawks fell to the Rams again five weeks later, this time in St. Louis. The final score was 23 to 12, Rams over the Hawks.

Now, with the Rams returning to Seattle for the NFC Wild Card playoff game, I thought it fitting that Peter and I attend together, and offered him the ticket.

All week meteorogists had been calling for a winter storm in the Puget Sound region. We’d had snow in the North Sound, and in the mountains and foothills, of course, but nothing in Seattle but a little rain. As of Wednesday, they were calling a game day forecast of low-30’s and snow flurries and a wind chill in the 20’s.

Peter grew up in North Dakota, and I was sure such bitter temperatures for a football game were not intimidating to him.

But in the end the weather forecasters were wrong. It was cold, but not bitterly so. And we of course saw no snow. (We did see a bit of rain, which, interestingly enough, marked the first time it had rained on the Seahawks at home in Qwest Field.)

In the end, however, it was Peter and I who were bitter: Rams 27, Hawks 20.

Maybe next year.

Excuses and Dead Dogs

I have not posted anything in some time, and it is mainly because I have had little to say.

Or perhaps what has been on my mind translates poorly here. I have become less than an intermittent blogger. I have become a lazy one.

Besides, what else can be said about the tragedy in the Indian Ocean?

In November I traveled to South Carolina for nearly two weeks, leaving me rather busy at the office the remainder of that month. I posted nothing in November.

And in December I was occupied with completing a short story called “The Third Christmas Tree,” which is the fifth in my Christmas series, behind “The McBeezles and the Christmas Tree,” “The Mean Spirit of Christmas,” “J.T. Thornton’s House of Freaks” and “Merry Christmas from Medford Orchards.” I send these stories to members of my family as Christmas gifts.

A few friends in Seattle saw this year’s story well before most of my family on the East Coast. Problems with the mail. Also, I think I inadvertently sent most of them Media Mail instead of Priority Mail. I should have double-checked with my postman, Juan, but I did not.

I received a call yesterday that brought me some cheer. A friend named Danny had loaned “The Third Christmas Tree” out to someone at a Christmas party, and I guess the thing had gotten around. This woman in his office had asked Danny for more Christmas stories, and Danny obliged her. He reported to me on the telephone yesterday that his friend said she read the one from two years back very, very slowly, so that it would not end too quickly.

For any writer, that is a fine complement.

(This is the same Danny whose wife would not allow “Merry Christmas from Medford Orchards” read to their small children. She’s right. The story is PG. The death of the dog is rather traumatic, even for me. Furthermore, Danny‘s Labrador Retriever and my Labrador Retriever are sisters, and the dog that dies in the story is a black Lab, and was based on our two dogs.)

Speaking of dead black dogs, I have just completed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a novel by Mark Haddon. The book opens with the night-time discovery by an autistic boy of a murdered poodle on the lawn of a neighbor. The book is presented as the boy’s own diary, and his investigation into the death of the dog leads him to uncover family secrets that turn his world upside down.

I do recommend the book. Its power is in its unique point of view: that of a fifteen-year-old autistic boy who fears the colors yellow and brown, cannot relate to other human beings, and whose life must be perfectly ordered. I recommend the book unless, of course, you are bothered by the image of a black dog on a lawn with a garden fork through its chest.