Oh the White…

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it finally happened. The weather I’d been waiting for… real snow! Lots of snow! Tons of snow (literally)! And all in the course of less than twenty-four hours. This is what awaited me outside my door on Sunday morning:

It almost hides the beauty marks on my car! And aside from the car, you almost wouldn’t have even known we had a driveway there.

Technically, our town only got about thirteen inches of snow, but around my entryway, the wind blew a larger amount toward my garage and door, so once I had shoveled a little bit, I could finally see the ground…

Yeah, I hadn’t even gotten to the driveway proper by then.

Okay, and this picture is here just because I liked the snow drift above the front door (that’s still there) that’s just waiting to fall onto some unsuspecting religious solicitor…

But amazingly enough, I pulled through, as well as some or all of my back, and single-handedly cleared my entire driveway. I think it’s durned impressive, as well as cool to see yourself eighteen inches below the level of the rest of the world.

So yeah, just as my always wonderful wife reminded me, my neighbor was kind enough to loan me his snowblower halfway through. And thank goodness for that, because I’d probably be dead otherwise.

It was a bigger storm than has hit the region in several years, which really just goes to show how lightweight the winters have been out here compared to the Eighties and Nineties. But who knows what the future will bring, and I’m sure there will be plenty more big storms to turn me into a proper Minnesotan. In fact, as I write this, a two-day long snow storm has just begun.

In huge news out here, Michelle got a new job working for Target’s corporate offices in downtown Minneapolis. It is an incredibly huge opportunity for her with lots of room for advancement, and will be a wonderful boon for our fledgling family. I’m so excited for her, and I’m glad it finally came to them offering the position after a couple of very long, antsy weeks. After her good interview at the offices two weeks ago, what did we do? Went to bookstores in Minneapolis. How about that for knowing what makes you happy?

That’s about it for now. I’m getting over some kind of rubbish that made as sick as I felt when I had a pox cursed upon me years ago. So I leave you with a couple family photos:

Some Late Christmas Pictures…

These here are mainly for Ken ‘The Claus’ Howenstine, but good for anyone to enjoy.

I honestly don’t know where he picked up the wide-eyed smile. Doesn’t it throw you off a bit? I think he knows it does, because he’s done it to me at dinner, too…

My Family Just Keeps on Growing…

Meet Tyrone, the newest member of the Fryer Family:

He is my birthday present from my amazing wife. A rather large five month old kitten, Tyrone’s very docile and cool, which is good since if he was high-strung, living with Austin would be a bit of a crazy nightmare. Right now he’s snoozing under the couch where I’m typing in our spare room. Just to give you an idea of just how cool he is, here’s him blending in well with my jazz instruments:

We absolutely love him. There’s just something about having a cat around that makes this place feel more like a proper home to me. Much like my aunts and my father, life isn’t quite whole unless we have animals around, cats or dogs, preferably both. Tyrone’s already so big for a kitten (which makes me doubt his age a bit), but he still has big ears and some length of his tail that tells me he’ll be getting bigger still. At least he’s got a good looking mug on him for when he takes over the neighborhood come spring. Plus, he’s got a nice strong motor in him. It’s definitely a sound I have missed.

I love Tyrone already; it happened as soon as I picked him up. And I love Michelle, completely and absolutely. She was mocking me when we were driving Tyrone home, saying that if I’m this bad for a cat, how will I handle when we finally have another child. I just said that I’ll probably wind up holding the baby for about a month straight.

Gotta love those birthday animals~

Politics Dictating Faith…

When reading my dear friend Ben’s blog, I was sad to see news of his Church shrinking in membership. All while growing up, the people I had known from that congregation have always been above-par nice, good-natured, and thoughtful. Being raised in Turlock gave me higher than average exposure to varieties of religious denominations, and the Presbyterian Church to which he belongs always seemed more tolerant and inclusive than most. I remember seeing concerts and playing on their grounds without a feeling of being pressured or unwelcome in any way, which is amazing to feel when one is a lone atheist boy. If there is a way for me to eventually repay that kindness, I hope to do so.

That, however, is not what strikes me to write here. In reading the article he linked to from the Christian Post, something struck me as not quite right. It described some of the governing politics tying the various Churches together. But this appears as an attempt to govern something that is utterly ungovernable.

When it comes to faith, there is something intrinsically personal about it. While there may be elements of it that are enriched by communing with those who share one’s faith, it is still, at the core, how just one person perceives the world. It is the mind’s bridge to the soul. There is nothing and no one that can touch or change that relationship. Religous groups and other people may help by presenting their ideas and interpretations of just what exactly will best get one across that bridge, but it may only be traversed by the one person possessing it.

The associations and alliances of Churches, however, should not be construed as a poor idea. It is a grand one and generally a genuine pact of aid. When combining economic support systems, groups that fall on unfortunate times have a much deeper well of resources with which to recover (*cough*Universal Health Care*cough*). This is another citing of that wonderful part of human nature to help one another and be stronger as a group than each can be individually.

The line is crossed when it is an outside act to change how one’s faith should operate and what it should be associated with. Leaving one sect and joining another, deciding that the differences among the old and new members is of no importance or tolerable to forget cannot actually work, can it? A dictate cannot come from some ranking person in a hierarchy nor from a simple majority stating that everyone shall now belong to and believe something different. Or does human belief and faith actually operate like that?

I was raised with a multitude of options and thought of them as many different paths to Heaven. It was all a matter of personal choice, personal faith, and it was different for each person. I don’t know. I have so far wound up with an understanding of life and soul of my own, along with a rather severe cynicism of the idea of organizing religion at all. So if there are any who read this can add their two cents on governing belief. I will admit my own lack of insight on most religious ideas, as I have always been an ouside observer squinting in the distance occasionally.

Since When is it February!?

Okay, please, someone explain to me how it is already a week into February. We just celebrated the New Year, I still hesitate a bit when writing the last digit of the year, and there’s barely any snow on the ground. I guess it means the world needs another update from me by now. Just when I think nothing has happened, I turn around to find that worlds of change have happened without my notice.

Starting this month, I’m not only teaching Jazz Band after school. I’ve started a new class called Digital Animation, where kids learn to create short films using traditional drawings, stop motion, and time lapse techniques. The digital part comes in with the tools we use, since they’re all digital cameras and computers we save and edit the images on. I think the coolest idea they came up with yesterday is a human clock. I’ll post up the videos as they are created. Jazz Band has been going on for a few weeks now, and the kids are coming along quickly. We’re working on great classics, such as ‘Tuxedo Junction’ and ‘Caravan’. I’m still having trouble assembling a rhythm section, but the horns have had a good showing so far, considering it is a forgettable once a week rehearsal currently. Come Monday, I think I’ll be having them sightread ‘Satin Doll’, just for my own peace of mind.

Michelle’s been seeking out better work, and has even had a couple of really good prospects come up. Soon she’ll be going through all those wonderful interview processes, which are always nice and nerve-wracking. We’re both quite antsy, as her having a properly paying job for once will be quite a boon for us and make our lives noticibly more stable. Also, it would give me the chance to go back to school without it being an endurance trial. Please, if you have room in your hopes, send some thoughts to her.

The big news on the home front as of late is Austin becoming potty trained. It’s taken us a long time, but he’s there with fewer and fewer accidents. Michelle and I were completely beside ourselves with joy. Perhaps a little too much so, as that was the higlight of our month. The way I see it, all I have left to do is teach him how to tie his shoes, and the kid is set for life; I’ll be done raising him. Other than that, he’s just himself, good days and bad days. Mostly, though, he’s been so happy to have his Grandma Pat in town.

For a nice long weekend, my mom flew out here to visit. I took a couple of days off to spend time with her, and she managed to survive the cold and eventual snow. I had been missing my family and friends out west a lot, so it was really nice to see her and have her around. Austin just loves her, and especially having her read to him. That voice reading stories came across as strangely familiar, since I don’t have any actual memory of my parents reading to me; I simply know that they did. I was a little worried that she was starting to feel a little bored out here, since we didn’t get out and do anything, just puttered around town. Michelle and I both had work, so she was on her own for some large bits of time. But she never let on that that was the case.

I dropped my mom off last night. She and I are always bad at goodbyes, so we kept it brief and I took off from the airport. The tougher goodbyes had to have been for Michelle and Austin. But, in all, I just keep remembering the fact that I’ll see my folks again sooner than not, so it’s easier to deal with. For now, it’s life back to normal, though not really. We’ve had less than one third the normal amount of snow for this time of year, so I’m not shoveling anywhere near enough as I’d like. I’m odd and like to physically shovel. It’s some exercise for me, and it gives me some alone time with tunes in my ears.

Toodles for now~