Tag Archives: Rhodesian Ridgeback

KID COUNTDOWN: DAY 1

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Lying in bed last night, Jade and I staring at her belly, we watched The Baby shift and move under her skin.  With only two days to go we’re in The Zone wherein her belly most resembles something out of a cheap sci-fi movie.  Her guts shift and move, maneuver with liquid ease.  The right side is solid with ridges and divots; running my palm over her stomach feels like she’s swallowed a handful of oddly shaped rocks.

In the other room Quinn screams.  I ignore it because… well, this is what Quinn does sometimes.  She doesn’t necessarily want or need anything… except to see if one of us will appear at her whim.  When Jade and I still owned Kaidance (our large Rhodesian Ridgeback for any first time readers) we could hear her bark and know what she wanted or needed.  If there was someone in our yard, coming through our gate, she had a very aggressive, violent sound.  If she wanted to go outside or eat, she had a very high-pitched yip.  If she was happy that we’d returned from a long day out, she would just have this very middle of the road bark, neither aggressive nor naggish.

Don’t be fooled.  Infants and toddlers are no different than your run of the mill domestic canine.  When they cry, they tell you exactly what they need and you either give it to them or you don’t.  And sometimes, in my opinion, what they need, is to be ignored.  If I go running in there in the middle of some fit they’re having, the only thing I’ve taught them is that if they cry long enough and loud enough that it is I, and not they, that will finally break.  No, thank you.  This is MY house!

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Now, I can already hear the rustling in the seats and the hands going up and the objections being raised.  Listen.  I’m by no means suggesting you fully ignore your child.  Children are small creatures who need our help to survive but… I’m just saying that we, as adults, should just make sure that they need our help before we go in and smother them in it.  Baby bird needs to learn to fly on its own.

In fact, even as I write this, Rory sleeps while Quinn sits in their room saying, “Dad!  Moo!  Dad!  Dad!  Dad!  Moooooooo!” and I can’t tell if she’s hoping to genuinely garner my attention or if she’s mocking my weight, hoping to lure me in with insults.  In any event she does not need me and if I ran to my children at the first fart they made, I’d spend all day chasing smoke.

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Quinn and Rory have been sleeping through the night since they were six months old and we have people approach us on a regular basis and say, “You guys are so blessed to have kids that were born such good sleepers,” and we just smile and nod but let me say this now…  These two kids showed up at my front door with a predisposition for screaming and full moon parties.  In fact, for the first few months we owned them, we were sure they were at least partly feral (and in most regards, they were).  Children are wild animals – I say this with complete sincerity.  They run on instinct alone and it is our job to train them, not the other way around.

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The Belly twitches and adjusts itself, sending ripples and waves over the surface.  I lean down and place my face on her stomach and kiss her taut skin.  I hum a song; just random notes that I think sound soothing.  I place my finger in her belly button and say, “BEEEEEP,” and something hits me on the cheek.  A fist?  A hand?  A foot?  An elbow?  A buttocks?  I have no idea.  The Baby just slapped me across the face with a tiny brick and Jade says, “You just got slapped!” and Iaughs.

Quinn screams again, louder, same tone.  I roll over onto my back and ask Jade if she thinks it’s a boy or a girl.  She says, “I don’t know.”  Quinn screams one more time and then nothing, silence.  A moment later I hear her little feet march back to bed, I hear springs squeak under her weight and then, truly, silence.

I say, “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if it just had completely jet black hair?  Just totally left field from The Children of the Damned?”  Jade nods and The Baby shifts again.  I say, “AH!  I’m so flipping excited!  I just want to cut you open and take a look!” and she says, “Uh… don’t, though.”

She says, “Are you going to watch the C-Section?” and I say, “I hope so!  I want to!”  I say, “Let’s put a smile on that belly!”  Jade says, “Are you ready for this?” and I say, “It doesn’t matter, does it?”

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I pick up a book and Jade tinkers on the laptop for a bit and my eyes start to get drowsy, heavy, sleepy.  The words on the page start to blend together and I read and reread and reread the same paragraph two, three, four times.  Just get to the end of the chapter, I say to myself.  One… more… page…

Everything goes dark and then Quinn is screaming.  Screaming.  Not crying.  Her voice is in full tilt wailing, red faced, most likely.  The world comes back into focus and the blurry edges turn crisp and everything is sharp.  I hop out of bed, certain that someone has finally actually broken into my house to steal my children.  I open the bedroom door and jog down the hallway, reach out to push open the door and…

…Quinn is lying in bed, chest down, holding her head up and howling (again, picture a feral wolf) while Rory is dead asleep.  I stand in the doorway and say, “What are you doing?  What’s wrong?” and she says, “My leg!  My leg is stuck!  Dad!” and I imagine a coyote in a bear trap sounding not dissimilar.  I swing open the gate, saunter over to the bed and, assuming she’s somehow entangled her foot in the iron bars, I give her a tug but… no, she doesn’t move.  She truly is stuck.  Rory, still sprawled out on the bed, doesn’t even stir when I jostle the mattress getting up and down.

I lean back, grab the head board and pull once, hard.  The bed slides across the floor a few inches, scraping along the fake wood, and I reach down, grab her by the waistband on the back of her PJs and lift her into the air, free of danger.  I say, “Are you okay?” and she says, “Yeah,” and I say, “Good.  I love you.  Go to bed.”

Rory still sleeps.  Neither of them make another noise until morning.

I go back into our bedroom and lie down next to Jade.  I put my hand on her tummy and say, more to the baby than to my wife, “You see that?  Take note.  You’re next, little fella.”

I kiss the baby and go to sleep, thinking about the restless nights that await me later this week with midnight feedings.

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The Highways and GoodByeWays of America: Part 4

Welcome to the last leg of the journey. The final segment.

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For the past few years Jade and I have been discussing where we’d move if we left LA. On that list was Denver, Montana, Northern California and, until just a few months ago, Salt Lake City.

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This place is like little LA. It’s dirty, crowded and filled with crazies; the exchange rate is four Scientologists for every three Mormons, but it’s constantly fluctuating.

We spent roughly five hours in the city, driving around, getting lost, angry and annoyed until we finally stumbled upon the Great Salt Sea.

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We tried to park our car but were told that an Insane Clown Posse show was being held nearby and that we shouldn’t leave our automobile unattended. We drove down the road, past legions of men in their thirties dressed as clowns, until we found a little inlet. The gates were shut and I BELIEVE it was closed but we crawled over the fence and the dogs under and we ran across the dried up salty sea bottom.

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To get the dogs to do this we tell them both to look left. It’s really funny because Clementine doesn’t know her directions yet.

“LOOK LEFT, CLEMMY!”

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Jade says jump and I say…..

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We left The Great Salt Thing and headed south-west into the dark. When we awoke the next morning we found a dirt trail off the highway leading towards Blind Valley. I needed to know what it was so we followed the signs.

After only two minutes of driving it became obvious that this road was meant to be taken by nothing less than a Sherman Tank. There were potholes the size of tiny planets distributed fairly crookedly in front of us for as far as the eye could see. We finally came to a small plateau and decided we would never see Blind Valley, which was a little ironic. Instead we just crawled to the top of the hill and fed the dogs.

“Hey, Clemmy…..LOOK LEFT!”

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We’re able to take these perfectly framed pictures of ourselves in the middle of nowhere because I have ape length arms.

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Did I say we walked to the top? Kaidance is out of shape….well….she’s IN shape…..it’s just a nice curvy shape…..regardless, we never leave a man behind.

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Clementine faints from heat exhaustion in the Utah desert and Jade tries blowing in her ears. She says it’s a trick she learned in pre-med.

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Kaidance watches eagerly, intently, hoping, praying, for the death of The Small One.

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Revitalized at last she becomes strangley cocky because she has conquered death. “Big deal,” I say. “So what?” I say. “I’ve conquered death. I had cancer. You just passed out in the sun. Wear a hat next time.”

Little Dog challenges me to a duel.

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I teach her not to bite the hand that feeds and it lands me in the paddy wagon.

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We drive on into Death Valley, California and we watch the temperature meter….temperature gauge….thermostat……..it starts getting really hot and the thing in the car confirms it.

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Clementine has another heatstroke / panic attack / fainting spell and I lift the lost lamb upon my shoulder.

I don’t know. I really like this photo. It reminds me of…..someone…….who……

….someone who saved a lot of people……someone who was gifted with incredible abilities……..

….oh yeah, DUH!

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IT REMINDS ME OF BATMAN!!

We all run and play on the fine sand dunes….all except Clementine. She plays but she doesn’t run. On occasion she does this thing where she just mysteriously hovers inches above the ground and floats from location to location while a strange buzzing noise emits from deep within her being.

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…and again….still floating….levitating….

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…..while I just throw my arms about all willy nilly as I often do….

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WEEEEEEE!!!!! WILLY NILLY NELSON!!!!!

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We drive on to a place that was nearly the death of us….

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The Aloha Inn.

Room 119.

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This place was bad, bad news. We thought it was a hotel – you know, the kind you rent a room at and stay in overnight. The kind of place weary traveler’s might visit. No….no….not so much. This was a place for rehabilitating junkies and ex-cons. It was filled to the brim with people you’d cross the street to avoid. The sheets had blood on them and the room smelled like stale cigarettes.

There was a strange door in our room and I was certain Leatherface was going to come tearing out of it during the night with a sledgehammer and a bondage mask and we’d be done for.

This room, this night, was not enjoyable. It was SO bad that we opted to sleep in the bed, sans comforter, with all our clothes on.

Even Clementine, who licks the places dogs do pretty regularly seems to look pretty off put by the whole scenario.

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What’s that? A broom closet? The entrance to the pool supply closet? The janitor’s storage space? No. That’s our room. It’s right next to the drained pool with the dark brown water at the bottom and the fire pit with the cigarette butts and used condoms in it.

Great ambience.

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After the night of disgust we make our way towards home, back towards Los Angeles. Only four more hours….

I think Kaidance pretty much sums up three weeks worth of adventures with….

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The Highways and GoodByeWays of America: Part 3

In 2007 I was introduced to the wonderful world of disc golf by my sister, seen below. It combines the skill and accuracy of normal golf with the lazy stroll and mindless drivel of regular frisbee. It’s sort of like regular golf meets mini golf with discs.

I only play when I go back home because I’ve never had my own disc set but this year Theresa was kind and generous enough to buy Jade and I each one for my birthday. I have yet to take them out in California because I can’t seem to find any (courts? greens? turfs?) around. If you know of one LET’S PLAY!

Below you can see me taking, what I like to call “My Frankenstein Stance”. I stand very rigid and only bend my arm for maximum scoring possibilities.

Theresa is wearing a tye dye t-shirt. Tye dye is to disc golf as plaid is to regular golf.

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This one could be on a playing card……wait, is the disc coming or going? Is Jade throwing or about to get hit?

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After our five day stay in Sioux Falls, Jade and I made our way to Mitchell, which is, traditionally a simple one hour drive. However, thanks to the strange vortex that exists between these two towns the drive often feels as though it bends and stretches into a decent half day journey.

Just for kicks we decided to try to make it without the assistance of the interstate or highway. We stayed on dirt roads the entire way and what did we find? A pasture of meat eating cows. That one in the center was drooling, staring at me. His eyes were red and I think he had mad cow disease.

I could tell he was in a gang because he had a pierced ear.

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Me preparing for the big shot put competition.

My mother-in-law LITERALLY squatting in a cucumber patch.

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I used to have a motorcycle in LA but almost died on it. A guy in a speeding brown hunk of crap cut in front of me on the freeway and I slammed on both brakes, front and back. This was a mistake but, what can I say? I panicked. My bike wavered and began to tip at 70mph. I stuck my foot down and kicked the freeway and popped back up, my stomach in my throat, my mouth dry and my brain raging with anger. I sped up (brilliant) and pulled up next to the guy (moron) who almost killed me. I looked into his window (ie took my eyes off the road) pointed to my eyes and pointed to him. I don’t really know what I was trying to say. Maybe “Watch the road” or maybe “I’m watching you”. Whichever it was, he was probably really afraid. It doesn’t matter how big of a nerd and how heroin thin you are. If you ride a motorcycle, nobody will mess with you.

Because of that incident I sent my bike packing back to South Dakota and now only ride it when I’m home.

You can see how happy I am, cruising down 7th on my way to Taco John’s. Could things be better?

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If I’m at an all you can eat buffet I have a very difficult time choosing what to eat. I don’t want to just eat SOMEthing. I want to eat EVERYthing, even if I don’t want it. For some reason I just feel as though I’ve purchased everything and now it is my job and my job alone to get my money’s worth, which usually means shoving hideous amounts of food down my greedy throat until I’m sick.

The nacho buffet at M&H gas station is no exception. I fill the container up with cheese. I dump some salsa in. I put in black olives and onions. I dump in jalepenos and sauerkraut and shredded cheese on top of the nacho cheese. This concoction reeks. It smells like dirty feet and B.O. and has been dubbed with the name Dirty Nachos or B.O. Nachos. This is not a title I have personally given it. This is a label my friends and family members have given it over time of me bringing this overlooked delicacy into their presence.

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My dad and I had our first joint birthday party, which was pretty interesting. He was turning 50 and I’d just turned 27, our birthdays being nine days apart. We had all of our friends and family over and just hung out all evening. It was great fun and there was cake and food and flies. There are always flies in South Dakota where there is food.

Look at my stupid little beard. It is so pathetic and weak. I am ashamed.

Look at my dad’s mustache, so proud and vibrant, resting on his upper lip like a Sasquatch caterpillar.

Someday…..

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This is Derrick. His grandparents live next door to my folks so we were forced to grow up together, often times playing “Guns”. This is the game where boys have fake guns and pretend to shoot each other but end up spending most of their time arguing over if they were actually hit by the pretend bullet.

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Derrick now has a beard and I hate him for it.

Someday we’ll show them all…..

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I call this one, “Rolling Thunder”.

Look at Jade’s flowing locks. I use to have flowing locks. That was before I began to bald. That was before…..when I was still happy and confident in my physical appearance.

That was….all…..before…..

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My grandma has this fascination with dolls. It’s something that happens to older, older women. It’s just a part of growing up, I guess. First you hit puberty, then you get married, then you go through menopause, then you collect strange little dolls. I don’t know. My mom seems to be hitting her Doll Phase early. She’s got these creepy little things with devious grins hanging out about the house.

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We left Mitchell after our five day sojourn and then I dropped Jade off at her home….

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Our car was packed…..PACKED…..but I managed to find a little room for My Pet Monster. I cannot yet tell how the dogs are reacting to him. I can say, however, that when I got back in the car after grabbing some coffee, I’d found his fingers nibbled on a bit and clementine with some strange bright blue latex clinging to her lips.

She’s a hateful vandal but is awful at espionage.

Sometimes I think she wants to be caught.

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We were planning on driving from Billings, Montana down through Yellowstone. We drive an hour and a half south and get to the Yellowstone entrance and the ranger tells us that there’s a fire or some fallen trees or ice or something and the roads are blocked and we can’t get through. She tells us that we’ve got to drive ALL the way back to Livingston, which is about 45 minutes from Billings.

The morning is shot. We see everything twice.

Here is the Yellowstone entrance, apparently historic.

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Here’s what we saw the first time going through:

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Here’s what we saw the second time, after it started to snow:

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Me looking like an angry old man trapped behind the wheel of his automobile.

Clementine looking depressed as per usual.

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After driving the same thing twice we decided to just stop at the next town and spend the day relaxing at the hotel, maybe go out and grab a bite to eat, watch some TV, go to sleep early, read a book.

We pulled over in historic Butte, Montana, a wonderful and antiquated town. We saw this place:

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Looks pretty nice. Looks pretty fancy. We call to get pricing, just for kicks. We figure it’s way out of our price range and we figure they definitely don’t take dogs. Truthfully, I don’t know why we even bothered.

As it turns out, they were the cheapest hotel we spoke with and they DID take dogs.

Weird.

We walk inside of this elaborate lobby (think The Shining) and the lady gives us our key and tells us that JFK stayed here once. She tells us to pull in around back….

…..where we find….

……this place….

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Okay….this makes a little more sense…..The Historic Hotel Finley where JFK stayed. Certainly they mean that he stayed in the nice part. They should really advertise this as the historic Hotel Ghetto where Lee Harvey Oswald probably LIVED.

Dogs welcome.

Sure, sure….why not? Drug addled maniacs welcome. Prison escapees welcome. Vagabonds welcome….

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We introduce Clementine to snow.

It does nothing for her hair.

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Room 160.

This is where the magic happens…

….Magic: The Gathering….

Alright my little noobians, just one more blog to go until our trip is over and then it’s back to regularly scheduled programs!

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