Thursday, December 3, 2009

Parent's Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas
when all through the house
I searched for the tools
to hand to my spouse.
Instructions were studied
and we were inspired,
in hopes we could manage
"Some Assembly Required."
The children were quiet (not asleep) in their beds,
while Dad and I faced the evening with dread:
a kitchen, two bikes, Barbie's townhouse to boot!
And now, thanks to Grandpa, a train with a toot!
We opened the boxes,
my heart skipped a beat-
let no parts be missing
or parts incomplete!
Too late for last-minute returns or replacement;
if we can't get it right, it goes straight to the basement!
When what to my worrying eyes should appear
but 50 sheets of directions, concise, but not clear,
With each part numbered and every slot named,
so if we failed, only we could be blamed.
More rapid than eagles the parts then fell out,
all over the carpet they were scattered about.
"Now bolt it! Now twist it! Attach it right there!
Slide on the seats, and staple the stair!
Hammer the shelves, and nail to the stand."
"Honey," said hubby, "you just glued my hand."
And then in a twinkling, I knew for a fact
that all the toy dealers had indeed made a pact
to keep parents busy all Christmas Eve night
with "assembly required" till morning's first light.
We spoke not a word, but kept bent at our work,
till our eyes, they went blurry; our fingers all hurt.
The coffee went cold and the night, it wore thin
before we attached the last rod and last pin.
Then laying the tools away in the chest,
we fell into bed for a well-deserved rest.
But I said to my hubby just before I passed out,
"This will be the best Christmas, without any doubt.
Tomorrow we'll cheer, let the holiday ring,
and not run to the store for one single thing!
We did it! We did it! The toys are all set
for the perfect, most magical, Christmas, I bet!"
Then off to dreamland and sweet repose
I gratefully went, though I suppose
there's something to say for those self-deluded-
I'd forgotten that BATTERIES are never included!

~ Author Unknown

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Vinyl Withdrawal

I really miss record stores. I just realized the other day that there are no longer any shops that sell new music in Athens. I suppose with the advent of digital music, itunes, and mP3, the market for these sorts of stores has gone the way of the dodo. There are a few used cd places downtown, but that's it. To me, that's sad.
Before Wal-Mart came along, I can remember quite a few record stores in Athens. There was a Tower Records, or something like it, at Beechwood where Borders is now. There were two places at the mall-- I think one was called Starship Records. I can even remember looking through vinyl at the ancient department stores downtown. It was either Belks or Macy's/Davidson's because Sears was over at the aforementioned Beechwood.
I loved record stores the way I love bookstores now. There's something great and visceral about being able to lay your hands on the product while you browse. To be able to immerse yourself in different styles of music and to find new stuff that you never new existed. There would always be someone hanging around perfectly willing to tell you, "Mannnnnnn, you just gotta check this out."
I'm sure people will say that you can do all of that on the computer, but downloading music is a pain in the rear end. It's tedious and I can't shake the notion that as soon as I get all of my favorite tunes safely on an iPod, the technology will change and I'll have to do it all over again.

Call me archaic, but I'll take vinyl any day. CD's are fine too. You can have your iPod.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Proclamation, 3 October 1789

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

The previous was by our first President, George Washington. Anyone who says that the Founders were not religious men is deluding themselves. Or trying to re-write history.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Beware of Doug

I feel like this sometimes. Cartoon courtesy of Gary Larson's The Far Side.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Isn't this awkward?

My six year old son William had inserted himself into a phone conversation between his mother and his Aunt Cheryl in Iowa. He wanted to talk to his cousin Mitchell, and the two ladies allowed it-- even after William insisted that the talk be a, "secret".
Jennifer left the room for a few minutes to give William his privacy, during which time William apparently told Mitchell a, "big secret". Later we found out that his, "big secret" was that he had recently lost two of his teeth. Something that was not really a secret to either one of us.
After Jennifer returned and reclaimed her cell phone, Cheryl asked to speak to William. She told him that her son had told her all about his, "big secret". Jennifer said that William's jaw dropped and he said, without missing a step, "Well, isn't this is awkward?"


Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's Me, Joshua

My son Joshua has had a habit of wanting to come into our room and get into bed with my wife and I. He's done this ever since he could walk and clamber out of his crib. He's always been quite the little acrobat and daredevil. Ask my wife about the time when he was about two and he climbed out his bedroom window because he wanted to play on the swing set outside. You might think that was adorable until you learned that his bedroom window was about seven feet off of the ground! I doubt that even the legendary Alcatraz could hold my son.
But I digress. We tried everything to get him to stay in his own bed for the entire night. Ordinarily, we would have simply sent him back to his room. He got sneaky about it, however, and would slide into our bed with all of the agility and grace of a seasoned cat burglar. We would wake up when our alarm would go off and viola, there he would be.
We tried tiring him out before bed so that he wouldn't wake up. We tried bribing him with treats and money. We tried threatening him to within an inch of his life. I think he may have known that we were working from a position of weakness, because nothing worked. I think he may have even found it to be a little funny.
The clincher for me was the night I got the bright idea to lock our bedroom door. I had been threatening to do it for weeks, but my wife would get a guilty conscience and talk me out of it. I was tired of waking up sore, so one night, I locked it while Jennifer wasn't looking.
Sure enough, about three or four that morning, I woke up to hear a tiny, tentative knock on our bedroom door. A small, plaintive voice whispers in the darkness, "Mom? Dad? It's me, Joshua." After I finished laughing myself silly, I opened the door and let him come in to snuggle with us.
I gave up after that, and tried not to make a big deal about it. He's about grown out of it, although he does relapse on occasion. His younger brother William is another story, however.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Honor of Veteran's Day

This is King Henry's St. Crispian's Day speech before the Battle of Agincourt in Shakespeare's Henry V. It is perhaps the finest example of comradeship and devotion among veterans. I get chills every time I read it.

If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.