Friday, July 3, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XXVI: 375-351

Dunno if this is part of getting old or what, but I feel like the Fourth of July becomes a little bit more special every year.

Here's to spending time with family and friends.

And here's to keeping what's great about this country and expanding upon it.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the fireworks if you're lucky enough to be around any.


Three Hundred Seventy-Five: The Band

      I don’t love The Band, but I do appreciate what they did.

Three Hundred Seventy-Four: thinking about eating healthy

      I’ve gotten to the point -- with all of the Mexican-restaurant accounts on I call on -- that tallying the amount of meals I eat without beans, rice, and tortillas has become easier than tallying those with. And believe me: it shows in my gut.

      The other night, while swimming laps, it occurred to me that I need to get serious about eating more salad. The goal will center on getting past the thought stage, but I’m grateful my mind made the recognition.

Three Hundred Seventy-Three: Saturday chats with my sister

      Some months ago, Tiffany and I started having quasi-regular weekend phone chats. I enjoy them in and of themselves, but our relationship has grown because of them. Very thankful.

Three Hundred Seventy-Two: disco

      Didn’t grow up in the era and don’t wish that I had. Do love it, though. The beats, the threads, the ‘dos, and the party. Very in line with who I am. I think…

Three Hundred Seventy-One: lyric difficulty

      I have a history of fouling up lyrics in songs, and by “fouling up lyrics” I mean thinking that certain words are such for years, then discovering I’ve been wrong all along. Humbling and funny.

Three Hundred Seventy: candles

      Dig ‘em.

Three Hundred Sixty-Nine: word processing

      Whatever the format -- Microsoft Word, e-mail, text, a letter, a note, or a list -- I love putting words together.

Three Hundred Sixty-Eight: my dad taking me to get Farmhouse at Streetside Records

      So many elements of love here: a) getting an album on the day of its release; b) when Phish puts out new material; c) the blessing of spending a ton of time working everyday with my dad in the year and change before his death; d) old-school music shopping; e) my dad supporting a passion of mine even though he didn’t understand it; f) one of the best albums of the last 20 years.

Three Hundred Sixty-Seven: citrus

      Lemons make a good butter sauce great. Limes make a decent drink dazzling. Oranges are great as juice or a snack, and let’s not forget the use of the rinds of all three.



      Hooray for citrus.

Three Hundred Sixty-Six: bootleg tapes

      Deadheads started it; Phish fans continued. Awesome having taper sections, tapers, and tapes. Such a lifelong treat.

Three Hundred Sixty-Five: the “treehouse” on Bradshaw

      When my dad and his wife and their girls lived in Oak Tree Meadows, my dad and I built this fort on stilts that we, for some reason, called a treehouse. Probably because it would’ve sounded silly to refer to it as the fort on stilts.

      Anyway, we got four of these huge oak posts from somewhere, dug holes, and concreted them in the ground. Then we built a floor, walls, a roof, a front door (that led to a porchy little ledge on which two could uncomfortably sit), a ladder that led up the front left post and a trap door in the floor for entry into the thing. We left gaps at the tops of each wall and screened them in, and we painted the exterior walls to match the house on the property. The thing was pretty cool. We hung out in it a little bit and slept in it once or twice.

      They moved from that home, though, and the property that bordered the Johnson County Community College par course later saw the fort on stilts torn down. What an experience it was to build that thing with my father.

Three Hundred Sixty-Four: Parliament

      George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, et al -- Where would funk be without you?

Three Hundred Sixty-Three: unnamed friend #33

      A true mountain man. A big guy. A teddy bear. A great smile, terrific laugh, endless sense of humor. Always wondered where this guy would go, where he’d end up. Turned out the answer was Montana.
      As is the case with many of my longtime friends, I don’t get to see him often enough, but it’s always awesome when he comes around. Great dad. Great friend. Wonderful human.

Three Hundred Sixty-Five: the birth of the sports-blogging world

      I didn’t discover what was really happening until around 2006, but my good friend introduced me to Deadspin, With Leather, and Kissing Suzy Kolber, and my world changed. I saw guys doing a new form of reporting. They did it online, they did it daily, and they did it with raw humor and consistency.

      This movement probably inspired my writing efforts today more than I recognize. Kudos to those guys and many more for starting what they did and continuing to do it today.

Three Hundred Sixty-Four: the anticipation of the boy getting out of his crib

      It feels like our daughter being small enough to sleep in a crib happened in another era. I have vague recollections of her transition into a bed; I believe it to have been a willful switch of ours.

      I think the boy will be the opposite.

      I suspect that he -- quite soon -- will climb out of his crib and fall to the floor. I suspect the tumble will scare him, and I imagine he will brush that off via the immediate recognition that he will have found a permanent solution to his confinement.

      This will change a lot about how our household operates.

      Instead of his bellows waking us from down the hall, he will now enter our room with some mixture of joyous giggles and moans of hunger pangs, imagined or otherwise.

      We will make a trip to IKEA, I reckon. We will procure a bunk-bed set and we will assemble it. We will rearrange the room and say goodbye to our daughter’s big-girl bed which has been a staple of our lives for over two years. We will have an adaptation period, and then we will grow used to it, just in time for our children to grow tired of sharing a room. I feel eager and sad by the anticipation of this transpiring, but for now I enjoy the mild comedy of imagining him examining his options for finding freedom.

Three Hundred Sixty-Four: unnamed friend #34

      This guy married a Canadian. Not just any Canadian. A beautiful, sweet Canadian who made him swoon enough to agree to sacrifice his United States residency.

      They have two beautiful children together and I can’t tell you much more about them than that.

      He does something with software. They met in Chicago and they are wonderful people.

      Unnamed friend number 34 has always done his own thing. He was born with the gifts of intelligence, humor, and compassion.

      One day we will visit them in their northerly dwelling and I envision it to be an amazing experience.

Three Hundred Sixty-Five: unnamed friend #35

      Fascinating creature. One of the most unique I’ve ever known. Intelligence on that proverbial other level. Hilarious wit. Awesome smile. Even better laugh.

      He got on the married/kids train earlier than any of my other buddies, so long ago that he and his wife are now parents of at least one teenager; the other isn’t far behind.

      I used to envy this guy because he published a book, but I realized that -- in addition to his talent and relationships -- a lot of it had to do with timing.

      I don’t think he writes anymore, which is a shame.

      Our families see one another maybe twice a year, which is also a shame considering we live 15 minutes apart.

      Love this guy like a brother, though. Wish we hung more often.

Three Hundred Sixty-Four: South Park clip #13: evolution



Three Hundred Sixty-Three: my buffalo-skin drum

Three Hundred Sixty-Two: William Faulkner

      Can’t think of a more important American author. Own a bunch of his stuff but have yet to read it all. I strive to achieve (at least) a semblance of his legacy.

Three Hundred Sixty-One: Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume

      Two of my favorite authors as a kid, Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume will forever remain early inspirations and initial sources for my love of books.

      If we make it two weeks into April of next year, Beverly Cleary will turn 100 years old. I like that sentence for the simple fact that someone that influenced my young mind that much is still alive.


      I’ve never revisited any of Cleary’s books, nor have I made it far into the list of her complete works, but I’ll always remember reading the first couple chapters of Ramona the Brave. In fact, Ramona Quimby could bear the sole responsibility of being my first addiction. I moved on to Ramona Quimby, Age 8, tackled Ramona & Her Father, Beezus & Ramona, and Ramona the Pest. At some point I moved on to The Mouse & the Motorcycle, Runaway Ralph, and Ralph S. Mouse. Later I consumed Ribsy, Henry & Ribsy, Socks, and Dear Mr. Henshaw.

            Without having reread any of those books, I can’t recall what about Cleary’s writing captivated me so much, but I think it had to do with her ability to reenter the mindset of a young girl, and it came across so well on the page. I loved the joys and struggles of Ramona, the adventures of Ralph the mouse, and the emotional ups and downs of Leigh Botts.

            Judy Blume’s work reared the head of a different animal, but the momentum of having read Cleary’s stuff made the leap to Blume manageable. I remember reading The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo. I remember digging Freckle Juice, and I remember when Iggie’s House and Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret created a wave in the reader pool of my female peers. Taking on Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Blubber, and Superfudge felt necessary and noteworthy, and by the time I’d finished those, I think my interests leaned a different direction.

            I give eternal thanks to Cleary and Blume, though, and know that they still -- in some way -- inspire me to want to write well. I’m proud of these members of the body of American female authors, that their talent and dedication reached readerships over 60 years ago.

Three Hundred Sixty: my son talking

      Raising your second child creates this mixture of things you kind of remember about the first and things you distinguish as different. Observing the boy construct his vocabulary has generated a kind of joy I struggle to recall from when our daughter did the same. Not that our daughter wasn’t sweet -- she was -- but this child seems to have an unbridled charm roll off of his tongue every time he opens his mouth.

      His voice sounds angelic, an audible gift, and I especially enjoy his three favorites (aside from “more,” “bite,” and “up”): “Aa-yine” (his favorite person), “ow-yide” (his favorite place), and “bur-tsee” (his favorite winged singing creature that he sees every time he looks ow-yide).

      Except for when he’s not, he is the happiest boy I’ve ever known and observing as he learns to communicate has caught me off guard with how much I love it.

Three Hundred Fifty-Nine: Tony Gonzalez

      For 12 of his 17 remarkable seasons as a professional football player, Kansas City Chiefs fans had the luxury of watching the best tight end in National Football League history. When it became all but clear that number 88 would not retire a Kansas City Chief, I penned this crummy little post to try and honor him.
      In my 30-plus years of watching football, I’ve never seen anyone work -- on every down -- harder than Tony Gonzalez. What a joy, a privilege, and an honor it was to have him on our team for more than a decade.

Three Hundred Fifty-Eight: the sounds of the piano

      Always admired the keys, be they electronic or otherwise.

Three Hundred Fifty-Seven: my pregnant sister

      On September 19th the offspring gods have me tabbed for unclehood. More important: My beautiful sister will become a mom, her husband a dad. I couldn’t be happier for them and I cannot wait for my first opportunity to meet the little booger. I’ve gone through the whole thing of becoming a parent myself; now I get to experience the joy of a loved one doing it.

      So thankful.

Three Hundred Fifty-Six: Sam Smith’s “I’m Not the Only One”

      Something beautiful about this dude’s voice, the melody, the feel, and everything about this tune. Love trying to belt it out with him.

Three Hundred Fifty-Five: fakes

      I’m thankful for the existence of fake people for the simple fact that the image of their face reminds me how I do not want to be.

Three Hundred Fifty-Four: the lap lane

      Not a fan of running. Don’t wanna ride the stationary bike. So when I’m not being too lazy to get my cardio on, I’m grateful for the opportunity to swim. I’m thankful that my mom had me take lessons as a child and I’m glad she always encouraged me to be on swim team. There’s something soothing and thought-provoking about this workout, and even if most of those thoughts resemble some form of, I hope my heart doesn’t explode on this lap, I’m glad I have the luxury of getting to strap on the goggles and take off my shirt in front of strangers. Yay.

Three Hundred Fifty-Three: Jack Johnson and John Mayer

      Thanks, guys, fer, uh, writing all of those songs that sound identical. Thanks for pretending to be two different people, and thanks for reminding the rest of the musicians to get their acts together and not let allow the audio world to head in the direction you pointed it.

Three Hundred Fifty-Two: finishing yardwork as the rain begins to fall

      Even if you gotta hustle into the garage with running equipment in your hands, it’s a nice feeling to squeeze one in in the moments before Mother Nature opens the skies. Kinda makes you feel special.

Three Hundred Fifty-One: pants and shorts with appropriate pockets


      As a dude, I feel naked if I leave the house without my usual half dozen pocket residents, and I hate wearing an article that doesn’t appropriately house all of my items. Makes you appreciate the ones that do.