Still Reeling, and not from Fishing…

It is absolutely mind-boggling just how much we did last weekend. Last Thursday night, we caught a plane from Saint Paul to San Francisco. Taking the red-eye flight was not as rough as one would think, even with our three year old boy. We slept a little bit, but not as much as we would have liked to. By 3 am, we were finally resting peacefully at my parents’ house.

So the next morning, we got up a little late, but managed to get out and headed north to see my Granddad in Sacramento. The poor boy got a little antsy sitting in the car for so long (it was about 8 hours worth the previous night) but he pulled through well. He was excited to be in Great Grandpa’s backyard to wander around and inspect things. Granddad hasn’t been in the best of shape lately, but he was in plenty good spirits for our visit. Somewhere, my dad even has a picture of now four generations of Fryer boys.

We stayed for about an hour and a half, then we were off toward the coast to visit the rest of my dad’s family in Saint Helena. We met up at my Aunt and Uncle’s winery for a light lunch and visit along with one of my cousins and my Grandma Mary (the Queen Mother, as she is in our family). It was so good to see them all, and Austin continued to be extra good, and impressed the family. He’s the first of the new generation, and I’m glad he was welcomed.

The big thing was when we finally got back into town and visited Grandma’s house. She had books and toys from when my cousins and I were young and visiting Grandma. He dove right in (there were big legos) while I took Michelle on a tour of the house. We wound up standing in the library and just pouring over all the titles on those shelves. Michelle especially was utterly impressed with it all, and it turned out that Grandma Mary was impressed with her interest in it all. As if I could marry anyone who isn’t a bookworm!

We piled back into my mom’s car and headed back to Turlock that evening so we could wake up and not have to go anywhere. That morning, Ken and Rachel come over with their baby boy, Evan. It was amazing to finally see him. He was wide awake in my arms and muttering and kicking with a strong pair of legs. He’ll be a tree climber in no time, I say.

For lunch, my Grandma and sister Leann came over and visited for the afternoon. It was all too brief seeing my Grandma, since I had to take off for the wedding rehearsal. At least she got to spend a little more time with my wife and son. I got up to Modesto and saw Ian for the first time in what felt like years. It was beyond good to see him, as well as Jaime and his family. The rehearsal was quick, then we were off to a pizza place where the rest of our brothers and Michelle joined us. It was grand, particularly when Ian fell over his bench.

It’s amazing that nearly every time we brothers are together, stories for the ages seem to be written right on the spot. After pizza, we went and gathered all our preferred beverages and headed back to my parents’ place for the evening. We did nothing but sit and talk, and it was grand. Warren’s dad even came out to visit for a while, and I tell you it was damn good to see him too. It may have even finally proved the fact that I did wind up growing up and having a family. Since he knew me since Junior High, he along with everyone else was pretty darn sure I’d screw up somewhere along the way (as he tends to put it). It was totally a gas having us all together, just as always, only substituting Mountain Dew and Dungeons & Dragons for beer and wives. We’re all just dopes who consider each other family.

The wedding on Sunday was perfectly lovely. The ceremony was short and sweet and we could then quickly get to celebrating. Erin looked absolutely stunning, and I tell you, Jaime’s parents were nothing but smiles. Sadly, Warren, Eric, and Bee couldn’t stay too long, but at least we finally made sure to get a picture of we five brothers together before the departures happened. It’s getting increasingly hard for me to say goodbye to them or anyone out west, for that matter. I get too choked up to talk most of the time, which is surprising considering that Jaime’s family from Mexico dubbed me the ‘radio announcer’ because I had the longest and apparently most clearly spoken speech of the evening.

Michelle, Austin, and I had to take off early to catch the plane home, and so we boarded our plane just after midnight, and by 7 am, we were home and sleeping in until noon. Next time we go anywhere, it needs to be when we don’t have a specific event to attend, so we can actually relax with our families; no more of this in and out in three days nonsense. But it seems that anytime we go anywhere, the family keeps on growing, and that is even true here in Minnesota…

Over the weekend, we adopted another cat. Puma is a fat orange tabby that belonged to someone Emily knew and had to find a home for. We figured Tyrone needed a brother, and it turned out Puma is just about a month older. They’re getting along okay, though Ty is quite a bit more territorial, of course, since it was his house first. But otherwise, it’s fun having more animals around. Although Puma is playful, he makes Ty look like a genius. Puma has managed to get himself trapped up by the ductwork above the furnace twice today. Boy do we know how to pick ’em…

It’s wonderful to be home, except when things around here are falling apart a bit. There turned out to be another leak in the basement, this time getting under the carpets a bit. Apparently over the weekend, our—wait for it—air conditioning system has leaked water (somehow) through our rusted-out ductwork. I am hoping it will have a simple solution, but fretting about it has delayed my writing this post a bit (that and recovering from the trip).

I leave you now with a few pictures, and hopefully more later. Toodles~
The Brothers: Ian, Eric, Jaime, Warren, Myself

Austin and his Tio, Jaime.

Fatherly Duties…

It’s odd that when growing up, one hardly has an inkling of just how much a father does to keep a house and family running. So now that I have my own house and family, it is a near constant feeling of dawning realization of just how much dads do. This is not to say that moms never do these things. I think it is more a case of if there is a dad around, these jobs more often than not fall on him. Hence, I am now billed with having to do what I affectionately call Fatherly Duties.

These jobs around the house are hardly of boasting quality. The first task, and the one that brings me back to the idea of Fatherly Duties nearly every time, is the emptying of the litterbox. This is also, I think one of the lowest jobs a person can do. It’s the job where, if extra terrestrials were watching, the obvious conclusion would be that I am not the master of this particular domicile. While it is probably true on other levels, I am still not a fan of thinking it in this way.

There are, of course, the maintenance and handyman type of things that abound from owning one’s own house, too. Frames need to be nailed back into place, electrical circuits need to be monitored (or in this house’s case, figured out just where they go, since what would be logical is not often the fact), furniture to be set up and/or moved, etc. I am also the designated mower of lawns and maintainer of yards. Nothing was decreed in as such, and of course I was not elected to this post, I simply do these things.

I actually like to maintain my house, and recently did enough cleaning of my garage to give me the hope of parking in there during this decade. But mostly what really falls on me to do is the unfortunate things. I’ve had to take care of a good many dead birds on my doorstep. And the truly unfortunate falls on me as well.

This morning, I was woken up by a knock on the door. Now, normally it is Austin waking up and coming to get me to basically yell in my ear that he’s going to the bathroom now. Today, however, it was our roommate Emily. I opened up the door when she said ‘It’s Tyrone…’ She explained that she saw him a couple blocks away in the street. My heart stopped for a moment, but I more or less froze. She felt so bad, so I hugged her as I thought of how I was going to take care of this while my boy was still sleeping in the next room.

I asked her to just stay at the house while I went and gathered up a box and a plastic bag and prepared to head out to collect my poor cat. It’s easier to hold down the emotions choking me when I have a job to do. My mind was racing as I tried to think of how I would break it all to my poor boy and my wife. We’re Fryers, so even the dumbest of our little animals is a part of our families. Austin is Tyrone’s big brother. This duty falls on me. I’m the father.

I opened up the door to the garage to fetch a shovel, and from the dark came a meow and Tyrone flew into the house as if nothing was going on (because he’s cat; nothing’s going on for him). He was in the garage as he usually is after following Michelle out and getting trapped in there when the doors shut. Emily and I both gasped in sweet relief.

I dodged the awful today. I can’t believe the luck I have in life sometimes. I do not shirk my duties, however. I live to take care of my family, no matter how terrible the things I must do are. I’m the commander of the submarine, and the responsibility to make us move without sinking is mine.

News from Hollywood…

Holy shit.

This completely boggles my mind. Is one of the big nine actually talking about a television program as if it were real? As if it had any bearing how we should rule ourselves? I’m still reeling a little bit and rubbing my eyes and going ‘WAH?’ a la Jon Stewart.

I even read the article from globeandmail.com and I still can’t figure it out. I want so desperately to believe that legitimate lawmakers and the judicature were just going through some playful banter.

I can see part of what was being argued. Should the allowance of beyond-Geneva-Conventions methods be shown on television as praised with no repercussions? I would say no, since we are (vainly and foolishly) trying to set a moral example for the world, we ought not let people think we can get away with the awful for a good cause. And if it were kept to that, fine.

But there is a line out there, that we all know and feel, and it is the borders of reality. There is a great difference between what is actually present and happening in the world and what are the fictions we create to either understand or at least get through those realities. Once those fictions are spoken of as if they actually happened, and if they have even remote bearing in our lives, then we are back in Socrates’ cave.

To inaccurately quote a line from Rocky and Bullwinkle, when Rocky was pursuing a train. Here are the conductors:
“I think I’m going crazy, Edgar”
“Why’s that, Jonesy?”
“Because if squirrels are chasing us, we must be nuts.”

Marcus Aurelius…

Just opening up my book of Marcus Aurelius‘ reflections, I came across this:

Do not act as if thou wert going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over thee. While thou livest, while it is in thy power, be good.
[Book 4, Part 17]

It seems oddly appropriate after my previous post.

While on the topic, I would recommend The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius to anyone. It is broken up into small thoughts and ideas that speak volumes. Nearly every single phrase is applicable to life somewhere. It has given me more wisdom and has reaffirmed other ideas I have attempted to live by. Also, for some reason, it is a calming book. I can open it up to any page and lose myself for a little bit. One passage, and I neurons are flying in all directions, removing me from a moment and I cannot help but to simply contemplate. It’s lovely.

I’m in Heaven…

Yesterday evening, I was cooking dinner. I had some giant kosher hot dogs on the grill, and the sun had sunk low enough in the sky to shade part of my deck. So, while the dogs were cooking, I sat down on a padded chair next to my son, and read the newspaper. He, in all his adorability, took on of the other sections of the paper to ‘read’ too. There was a pleasant breeze putting the shade at a perfect temperature. My beautiful wife came out to join us, reading her favorite author. There was nothing beyond that deck that concerned us in any way. It was a perfect slice of time that froze, and I watched it and consumed it for what felt like all the time in the world.

I do not know when or how, but long ago I ceased to believe in an afterlife. It simply does not make sense to me, and it comes across as a rather egotistical notion to think that of all the creatures to which we are kin, that for some odd reason, we may be granted eternity. We are all bound by the same laws of life and death, physics, thermodynamics, genetics, etc. To think that we have been given even more beyond our gifts of reason and mastery of earthly materials is rather presumptuous.

My studies have also confirmed that others see the idea of eternal damnation/salvation as I do. Namely, it is only a tool created and perpetuated to keep people in line. The reward of an eternal life beyond one’s current misery by following the rules and listening to people in charge certainly sounds like false hope. The master will always tell the slave, ‘next go around, you’ll be free.’

However, the touch, the spark of the divine is not absent from my life. I just do not see a time for me to exist beyond where I am in this form. Nor do I want it. There are too many questions, too many different sets of rules, to know exactly how to wind up in the good portion of an afterlife.

The lack of a beyond is not a point of depression for me. It is quite the opposite; it is a motivation. This is all I have. Why do poorly and wrong in this life, then? It’s my one chance to live. It is short, and above all, finite. I have no control over that. But I will have a say in whether it will be nasty and brutish.

I do believe in heaven and in hell, of sorts. For me, they do not coming in the hereafter, I rise into and delve into both during moments of my life. There are times when the soul boils when experiencing or witnessing something terrible. It can be personal or impersonal, but it makes one squint at an indefinable pain that exists only on a metaphysical level. Hopefully, those moments are rare, especially so they are never dulled. When dulled, the awful may happen beyond what one should reasonably have to put up with.

There are in life those opposite moments, too. Those times in hell do get burned into the mind, yes. The heavenly, though, are encapsulated in the heart. They are those moments when, even as they are happening, you can step outside of yourself and watch and realize that you are in fact in heaven. And they are remembered well, too. Those moments in heaven become treasures that can be returned to whenever wanted, and more importantly, when needed.

So yesterday evening I was cooking dinner, and I wound up in heaven.

Whew…

I made it through the end of the year no more scraped and bruised than I began. Plus, I managed to make off with a bunch of new toys to play with for the summer. (I’m doing ‘research’ on how to make readily usable mobile recording studios for the school). This decked-out MacBook I’ve snagged is pretty sporty, if you ask me. Once I’m in a position to upgrade (and I actually need to), it will probably be what I get. Though the black is nice and sleek, it shows greasy finger spots and scratches more readily than the white, so I will mostly likely spare myself the fifty bucks to go black, and thus also allowing me to go back if I so choose.

The past weekend was spent turning into something more akin to vegetation than animal. I’ve been reading and playing games and doing a few chores around the house and the yard. The lawn, as of today, has finally gotten fertilized and will hopefully soon be returning to its former green glory. We’ve also planted a few flowers in pots out front and on the deck, which, while rather sparse, do make a little difference in how those spaces feel.

At this point, I am still looking for summer work, and have been going through the classifieds in the local shopper, as well as word of mouth and fliers for summer lessons. Though I know I could be trying harder, it’s a little tough to get motivated for it. I do rather enjoy reading and working on things around the house that have long been postponed and, at some point, writing again. Because of those personal things I’d like to do, I hope that summer lessons or some website work could come along, and then it could be done on my own time from my home.

Michelle and I are keeping Austin in daycare for the summer. He is doing far too well there and loves it too much to just pull him out and slow down that progress. He just moved into the next room up, where there are only about ten kids, and so he gets even more attention. Plus, Austin’s with kids closer to his age, instead of anywhere from a year younger to half a year older. That kind of disparity at his age means that things had to be a bit simplified so the younger ones wouldn’t just lose it and start veering.

I keep trying to reflect on what I’ve done at work, and I feel there’s nothing really to tell. I did my job, apparently, well above par, and have job security there for as long as I want it. It’s a great place to be, and aside from the occasional annoyances that crop up for every service position I couldn’t be more pleased to work with the staff there. And if I could ever wind up with a proper teaching gig there, with my own classroom and everything, I’d be one happy little camper.

Ta~

An Apology…

I must apologize to my teeming masses of readers and groupies for not having my usual amounts of larger, more legitimate posts of my own thoughts as of late. Being in education, this is by far the most busy time of year and my personal life is somewhat full during the latter half of May as well. Rest assured, there will be more coming, especially with summer vacation around the corner. I am slowly but surely researching into the current immigration debate, namely because what I keep hearing and reading is becoming increasingly troubling.

Bless your hearts for continuing to return and bearing with me.