Letters to Holly

Friday, December 7


We've taken to bribing the deputy to train him.

He stopped feeding himself at home a few weeks back. We had just moved him to the antique high chair from your grandmother and let him eat at the counter or table. When he stopped feeding himself, we threatened to move him back to what we now call the "baby chair." He's become aware of the privileges of the older kids at daycare, and we tell him he has to earn those things. Also, he can lose his current privileges if he backslides. He didn't respond well to the high-chair threat, so I went the other direction. I bought him a ten-pack of cars and told him he could have one each day he feeds himself dinner. That worked immediately. It still takes him way too long to eat, but we cut back his TV distraction to help that.

Your Sister bought an advent calendar, and I called an audible: He would get each day's chocolate if he fed himself. He doesn't automatically get advent candy because it's Christmas. He'll never know. But I moved the car reward to potty training. I set down the bargain each day: If he uses the potty and we have to flush something, he gets a car. Worked like gangbusters last night, and we wants to call himself potty-trained.

The daycare uses M&Ms to train the kids, and I told him I have no problem with this, unlike some parents. He's not getting fat; he runs way too much. Not me, unfortunately, and it's starting to show. I got to get out there again.

He sings pieces of songs, he throws small tantrums, he likes to dive onto furniture. He's a boy.

Picture of the Day
What do you get a jedi for Christmas?

Monday, November 26

What You Missed at Thanksgiving

In convenient list form!

1) A surprisingly docile nephew. 
He handled the drive just fine. We stopped before we reached the interstate the first time because he spilled half his water on his car seat. We found a convenience store conveniently open and covered his soaked chair in oven baking bags (I suggested a deflated pool raft.). With his books and toys, he was fine to ride for seven hours. We got McDonald's for lunch -- after breaking his heart by finding a playground McDonald's just as it closed -- and got back on the road within a half hour. I like this version of the traveling deputy. He was only troublesome on the drive back when he fought his nap.

2) The closest I've ever seen Your Sister come to telling someone to fuck off.
As we neared dinnertime, the deputy asked for a cookie. Your Sis said no. Immediately, our sis-in-law and her mom petitioned. Protested, really.
"Oh, let him have just oooonnnne cookie."
Your Sis resisted. "He asked me, and I said no."
They kept at it. "Awwwww, just one cooooookieeeeeee. Awwwww."
She got mad. Tight-lip mad. "He asked me."
Now a cookie bit was being put in front of him as they asked again. Your Sis was steaming. The deputy took the bite, and the gals were delighted they could give it to him. Your Sister was livid. Again, never before have I seen her so close to beheading someone.

3) Our sis-in-law threw two tantrums.
She was, as ever, obsessed with documenting the event more than experiencing it. Except, of course, documenting something means you don't compose and arrange. Which she did. Matching clothes, matching pajamas, arranged plateaus of family. When she wanted a picture of the cousins and their parents, she went ballistic when the youngest niece didn't sit exactly right. That girl was immediately lost in silent despair -- the crying so wrenching that the kid can't make a sound -- and our sis-in-law stormed out of the room. She did the same when her mom "ruined" a video of the girls doing a cheerleading routine in front of the football score on the TV. The girls did it four times as she directed them in all minutiae.

She and her mom left for Black Friday shopping with the decree that we keep the deputy awake long enough to take another pic of him and the girls in matching PJs. I said this was feasible as long as she came back in an hour. No problem. But it was. They were gone almost three. I called an audible and took the pictures myself so my guy could get to bed before he fell apart. She complained about the photos. And she chided her eldest because she wasn't sitting like a lady. She's eight. In full PJs.

And she and her mom gave us shit for keeping our guy on a schedule. "Just one more minute!" "Just two more minutes. He can't wait two more minutes?" Nope, we're done. Also they gave us shit for not striving to preserve the Santa illusion. We were both asked what Santa was getting him for Christmas.
I said, "I'm not sure what we're getting him this year."
"You are aware there are kids in the room, right?"
"Yes. And they are screaming their way through a dance game."

They both wanted us too often to concede their points or agree just to be nice. "But don't you think [something something]?" No. "But don't you -- ?" NO. We don't. We'd say so if we did.

We've been polite in the past. We are their guests, and I am a nice guy by default. But fuck that noise. Is this how they win conversations with your brother?

4) The girls were fantastic with their cousin. 
As soon as we arrived, they led him to a playroom. They babysat him throughout the visit. They encouraged his play and investigations. They made sure he played nice and safe. They gave him first turn at new games. I cannot overstate how good they were in this. I would let them watch him anytime. They were great hostesses. I praised them a lot. They earned it, and it seemed sincere and effortless.

5) I never get to talk with your brother as much as I'd like.
We can't find good common ground to provide traction for a conversation. We try. It hasn't happened yet. I'll keep trying.

6) The deputy loves the mango strips.
They're his version of jerky. He chewed and chewed.

7) I dished about Mom's new guy as much as I was comfortable doing.
I didn't mention we're blood relation. I'll leave that to her.

The drive was good. The food was great. The time with Your Parents was good. Your aunt has stumbled into the zionist conspiracy theory without realizing she's parroting anti-semitic horseshit. The drive back was good. The gifts to the deputy were generous, and the wine was necessary. I'm glad we did it. I'm glad we're home.

Tuesday, October 30

We're Fine

Our town only got some wind. Asheville has some snow flying around, but it's too warm to stick.

I met the high-school senior Sunday for observation time. We met at a restaurant where her dad works, and we had the place to ourselves. We mostly talked comic inanity (multiple universes, how the marriages of Superman and Spider-Man were magicked away, etc.). I also steered her planned minicomic to more polish, stressing that the grading panel will not care one bit about the content of the comic but will fail her if the product looks sloppy. She was going to show them art on comic boards. I told her she had to hand them a comic, inked and stapled I said she could get 10 copies for relatively little money at any office store. She seemed to take this to heart. We'll meet again in a week or so.

I started planning certain scenes in the 2013 comic, and I really hope I can keep it under 40 pages. 

The carving party went fairly well. The deputy had a very late night and crashed hard after a dinner consisting of crackers and chips. The neighbors are going to dry the habaneros I picked that night. I also yanked up the sweet potatoes, and found our basket weighed 20 pounds when I was done.

Picture of the Day
I don't think the cold will deter too many trick-or-treaters.

Friday, October 19

Not Much

 Depending on which local handyman you ask, the potential drainage issue at the house will either cost around $3,600 or is no needed at all. The crawlspace continues to collect water, despite the new cover we put down there. One handyman thinks we need to build a drain that circumvent the house and leads water down past the garden (and I'm fine with a drain going into the garden). Another says nope, it's not that bad. We also hired a third handyman to reattach the pipes to the roof the crawlspace. Home ownership.

I have convention crud, and it's no fun.

Despite the cold nights, our bell pepper and habanero plants are asploding with food.

Picture of the Day
He plays the card at dinner every day. He got vampire toys in McDonald's Happy Meals, and suddenly our deputy is dogpiled in vampires. I approve.

Friday, October 12

Weird Dream

I dreamed you sent us a large bundle and a note. The bundle was filled with these pigeon-sized cassowaries with elaborate kabuki-style faces. Under the tail feathers, the birds had giant bee stingers. Your note explained that the hospital required all doctors to now milk the bird stingers for the medicines they need, and that would mean 100 birds per dose. You decided that was too arduous and decided to quit medicine altogether. The bundle was about 20 of these birds, and they had already clawed and ripped holes in the burlap sack.

So yeah.

Tuesday, October 9

Show Within Sight

I went to town yesterday to use the office while the deputy was in daycare. If I kept him at home for Columbus Day, I would have maybe gotten one hour's of work done. I walked through downtown for a lunch break and noticed my column of shirts was no longer in MIA. I asked what happened and was told the store had changed employees, and items were rearranged. They kept up one shirt (the beer shiva). Right before I left, the new employee I talked to found checks for me based on shirt sales, one dating back to April. Apparently, they didn't have my address or email information once the former employees left. But hey, late money is still money. I told them I'd send along some roller derby shirt designs.

Since it's practically next door, I gave my comic sales pitch to Downtown Books and News and was told they could carry my comics under commission. This makes the only store of the three that does that, which is fine; I want the visibility. Now my comics are in downtown Asheville.

Saturday was the airshow, and both mother and child were enthralled. They both got into planes and helicopters as regular airport traffic wooshed behind us. Big doings. The boy thinks we can now do that every day. I might have done the 5k had I run three steps since April.

I'm just about finished with the convention stuff. I found out I'm sitting next to the biggest name of the show (Top Shelf, a publisher), and I've got lots of reference pics for sketch chard commissions. The student will be there as art of her mentoring project, and I'll make her my gopher for lunch.

Picture of the Day
This is what's left of the Hawaiian Ginger. We didn't mean to eat it all at once.We're gonna try the marlin jerky with a meal. This was much too generous, and we shall eat it all.

Wednesday, October 3

What A Day

Here's my Tuesday.

1) Got a room at DragonCon 2013. 
The hotels go fast for Atlanta at Labor Day. The convention is maybe one of four events happening that weekend alongside college football, pro baseball, NASCAR, other conventions, etc. Because of this, the seven host hotels only offer a small block of rooms at certain times. Today is Oct. 3. The 2012 convention was exactly a month ago. The Hyatt offered their convention rooms Tuesday morning at ten. They were gone at 10:10. I barely got ours, and I opened up my browser to the reservation page 15 minutes early. The only downtown hotel left is the Marriott; the other host hotels have sold out their rooms since the convention ended.

2) Took my comic to the printer. 
And by "printer," I mean OfficeMax. I gave them my PDFs and the eMMA comic to use as a template and ordered 100 copies. That's an optimistic total, but I will probably sell some through the rollergirls. I had no idea how tension the delivery would dispel until a few hours later. Now I'm suddenly exhausted.

3) I got the freelance gig.
I found out a few minutes ago when they emailed to offer final plans and a check. I asked if we could meet earlier than usual on Saturday; we want to catch the airshow at the regional airport.

4) I kinda-sorta clobbered your mom via email.
Last week she forwarded an email about the murdered Libyan ambassador that included a screed against the president. I didn't reply. I treated it like the similar emails I got from your dad (except for the few I did reply to and was met with silence). She complained to Your Sister that I didn't reply. So I did. I tore it apart. I showed how Google and FOX News searches belied all the comments from that email. She replied by saying she didn't read any of the original text and only wanted me to see the dead ambassador and think about the deputy. I don't believe that. I think she was struck that the sage rhetoric of her friends may be the shit of horses.

Picture of the Day

Tuesday, September 25

The Rest of Saturday

In addition to the last post's doings, these also occured:

1) I had a meeting with a local business about a freelance gig.
They want to make a somewhat caricatured map of the town and county based on those made in Hendersonville and Asheville. The company that makes them wants too much money, and these local folks decided to find a local guy. I was recommended. I met with the company two weekends to get details. Between that interview and the one this weekend, I made a sample map using Google Street View. They seemed to like what I made, but they want to show the sample to their shadow partner (my bet: a local realtor). We also talked turkey about pay this weekend. I cited a flat rate. They balked, citing the estimate from another artist, and I underbid him to get the "contract." It's still early, but they have my quote and sample. They want to print by March to get the spring tourists, but I fed them some ideas that might affect that time table: Are all the buildings going to face the streets; we'd only see the front of half the buildings; and why not make a map inset for fall attractions?

In a bit of second-guessing paranoia, I wondered if they had manipulated the meetings to take my artistic temperature. In both meetings, a rescue dog was bouncing off the walls. Was that to measure my temperament? Was the estimate from the other artist a bluff to get me to underbid? Even so, that second point doesn't matter. My original bid was a lottery-ticket amount. The second number I gave them, slightly more than half the original, is still a respectable chunka change.

Looks like I won't get to work on the map until after the minicomic is all done. That's handy.

2) I might mentor another student about comics.
I got an email from a high-school student from another county asking if I'd help her with the senior project on American comics. I asked for the mentor paperwork from the school and got them from the school yesterday. We would have to meet for a total of 15 hours minimum. That's hefty. She wants to make a five-page comic as her final project product, and our 15 hours could involve that creation. But the travel is a sticking point. Unless she has her own car, she's gonna be dependent on others, and I got bit by that with the last kid. I don't want that disastrous mentorship to prejudice her project, but the time requirement and the necessary travel work against her.

I presume she found me via the ad in the roller derby programs. I'm going to email her teacher for clarifications.

Picture of the Day
This is my common sense tell my art brain to stop with the new gigs already.

Monday, September 24

Meeting the Man

Last weekend, My Mom called to ask if we could meet her and her new best friend for lunch on Saturday. She and her running buddy have been tighter than twins for a few months now after reuniting accidentally in the grocery store. They knew each other as kids, grew up near each other, but were kept apart by their parents. She married. He married. The marriages ended, and they now have no reason to not be together. It's a sweet story. Mom has used the term "soulmate" often when describing him.

She's never home anymore, and you can only get a hold of her via cell phone because she's either at his place or zooming about the state in his motorhome. They're living the life of convenient Bohemia -- retired, flush with cash, aging but still vital. After eating at McDonald's, Mom sat me down to explain their relationship: They agreed not to get married, but they are an item. What's hers will become mine, what's his will go to his sons, but they are acquiring things together as they be-bop to caravan sites. They are committed.

I have no problem with any of this. I wanted Mom to avoid the life of a recluse, and after a period of mourning, she has. She fixed up the house. She put in a pool. She changed up the yard for her convenience. She found people to socialize with. There were other pseudo-beaus before this gentleman came back into her life, and now she's the opposite of a recluse. She spends as much time at her house as I did in college (read: desperately minimal).

There are two small speed bumps that hinder my full embrace of the sitch-iation:

1) They're first cousins.
Now as I understand such things, first cousins are kept apart for fear of their offspring having four heads and hooves. Since we're talking about a couple in their later, later years, this won't be an issue. Socially, it might be. My Mom always stayed close to her mother's family, and her relatives from Pop and Granny are everywhere in the state. I was taught in third grade by a cousin through Mom. Down the hall in that school worked another cousin through Mom. My Mom constantly pestered me with the family histories of my pathetically few girlfriends for fear that I was accidentally dating in the bloodline.

I have some concern about how public their relationship might be, how well it would be received by the surviving family. Would she bring him to the family reunions we usually attend? Even if people don't know him, it's pretty obvious that he's family. He has her mother's face, and her brother's nose. It's shocking to see, which I did for the first time Saturday.

2) She kinda slammed Dad.
When Mom was delineating their relationship to me, she said she was so much happier now than she was with Dad because "something was missing." I imagine that something was intent. They didn't plan to marry. They were forced to. And they had nothing. Dad worked two jobs to support them and build up enough money to buy a house. He went to night school to get better jobs. He was a mensch about sudden fatherhood and husbandhood. He provided. And my memory of their marriage is that Mom was always angry about the up-knocking and being stuck with Dad (not her dream man) and me, the perpetually ailing urchin. She grew up around (and is now sparking) Good Ole Boys, but her husband and child were not of that ilk. Makes me a mite defensive about her reservations toward Dad. He worked hard for them. He worked hard to earn the family trust and love. Remember: This was his second family, his second shotgun wedding, and his near-child bride was a party girl suddenly made domestic.

The Saturday meal went great. Her Guy/My Cousin bought The Deputy his first milkshake, and it was devoured. He slipped the deputy a $10 bill, which I plan to tuck into his piggy bank. He was generous, conversant, and polite. He and Mom clearly are thick as thieves. Personally, I have no qualms with him. He made a good impression. As I told Mom a while back, I'm owed nothing regarding the details of her choices and company. I consider her beaus the same way I consider yours: As long as the women are happy and treated well, I have no gripes. Mom and he were on a day trip to the mountains, but they've gone to the beach and other mountain sites for days on end. She's out and about. She's happy. I shall have no gripes.

She hinted she wants to stay home for Thanksgiving, and I told her there will be no stigma if she chooses not to go to Birmingham. It's a long drive with a toddler in a short amount of time. I don't begrudge her happiness in this or her new relationship.

Picture of the Day
Really not used to the new look, but Your Sister loves it.

Monday, September 10

Take a Deep Breath. Both of Us.

Since becoming a father (still a weird phrase to type), I've become much more sensitive to depictions of scenes of child abandonment or harm. I just heard a mid-century radio show about a stern space captain remembering how he didn't spend enough time with his son, you know ... the Cat's in the Cradle song 20 years before it was written, and I'm now swimming in vicarious regret.

Like I don't have enough that I've earned. I lose my temper with him, and yesterday was a bad deputy day. I fear we've made him overly reliant on routine, and any deviation from that gets him flustered. We fall too easily into routine, and it trickles down to him. When we veer, he resists. We've gotten him hooked on mealtime viewings of a BBC documentary, and the adults, at least, are getting sick of it. We're hoping to broaden his attention span with Sesame Street and Thomas the Tank Engine. He's good with normal TV material if it includes cars or water. Or ducks. If it has animals, he's very OK with it. He doesn't even realize Mister Lion is eating Baby Goat. We tell him they're playing rough, and please don't do that on the playground at school. Although the idea of the deputy stalking prey before lunch is something I'd pay to see.

Anyway, yesterday, we went walking in the woody areas where Hunger Games was filmed. The foot traffic there has picked up considerably, so much that locals complain about the potential damage done by tourists. That suggests there's a tourist ceiling not considered before as we fleeced them for roadside vittles and sports gear. He didn't handle the change of schedule so well.

We're trying to instill the concept of behaving, the idea that he needs to listen to us steer him away from what he really really really wants right now. It helps to trade off. If we can offer him something else he's previously enjoyed, he sometimes latches onto that, and the crisis is averted. Other times though, he stubbornly refuses everything -- even the very bauble he wanted a second ago -- throwing himself out with the bath water. We try to summon him back from the event horizon into that black hole of anger. Sometimes we can't. And sometimes I get pulled into that gravity well too. It's a learning process for us all.

But he has no problem sharing and welcoming new people to a group. He's good with his age range. That's a relief.

Picture of the Day
Like this guest star on M*A*S*H, I'm considering fake facial hair until my natural masculinity grows back.

Tuesday, September 4

DragonCon 2012

Pat Loika photo
You never know how a costume will come together.

We were maybe 15 minutes out of Atlanta in 2011, fresh from DragonCon, driving back home to fetch our deputy when we batted around costume ideas for 2012. This is me last year, on the left.

Amid the brainstorming she said "I could be Batgirl." And I said "hey, that lady in Target one time thought I was Gary Oldman. I could be Gordon." Yeah, we said. Let's do that. And we came up with a handful of other names as we zoomed back home.

(The Target story is this: About five years ago, I stood outside a Target dressing room as the missus changed clothes. The dressing room attendant yelled "I love your movies!" in my direction. I ignored it. She said it again, and I turned. She sheepishly apologized and said she thought I was Gary Oldman. I smiled and said I wasn't, which was probably obvious the first word I said. A few months later, a friend saw my drivers license and said "My God, it's Gary Oldman." And when watching certain movies, I'd see the resemblance -- The Professional and Lost in Space -- but I wouldn't have thought of it except for their comments.)

Months later, after we had nailed down our hotel and membership for the 2012 show, I asked her about our costume ideas. "Aren't we doing Batgirl and Gordon?" she asked. "Well, sure. Right. Let's do that."

I had it easy. I owned a black suit. I could get props through Amazon, and I bought a cheap blue dress shirt from the mall. That was pretty much it. She had to find an affordable Batgirl suit and order it, hoping it would be the right size, and make the mask work with her glasses and get decent boots and better gloves and adjust the cape, and it was one damn thing after another.

All I had to do was shave. Not that it was guaranteed to work. I put on my outfit the Thursday before, and I still had to imagine the face. I was glad to have made an ID badge just in case.

Turns out I kinda didn't need it a lot. Saturday morning, I shaved and put on the outfit, and the missus was floored. I thought she was being nice until I walked past a mirror. Yeah, I thought. This will work. And off we went to the parade. You can see my Flickr set here.

We had arrived Friday night, checked in, picked up our badges, and stopped for Mediterranean food for supper. We sat outside and watched costumes drift by for an hour (when we weren't watching the belly dancer, of course). We went back to the hotel room so she could fix her mask. We called it a night.

The weather was perfect for the Saturday parade, and so were the crowds. But the Batgirl boots killed her feet, and she had to ditch the costume. That done, we ate at Pitty Pat's Porch (best chicken in Atlanta) before diving into the convention. And everyone was wonderful.

The Gordon costume went over like crazy. People also reacted to Gary Oldman. We would talk about what a great actor he is, and all the other costumes I could do from his work. Some already had; I saw an Oldman Dracula and his villain from Fifth Element. Women asked to hug me (a first). People would stop me to ask about Oldman and then see the badge and realize I was dressed as Gordon. Many was the time I would hear people I just passed realize what my costume was. The rule was about five steps: Say hello, pass by, take five steps, and hear "That was Gordon." I'd turn to say hi, and that would usually end up with photos.

I made sure to approach all the Batpeople to get pictures with them. There were a great number of Batman and Banes and villains, and we got out pictures and complimented each other and had a grand Bat-time. I walked up to one group of Batvillains, and they froze for a second before screaming nonstop for a minute.

The missus crashed for an afternoon nap, and I went back out to the crowds. I went back to buy her supper at the Hyatt, and we charged into the Marriott to mingle and photograph. I walked her back around 9:30 and told her I'd be back before too long. I'd try not to wake her up. I needn't worry because she's out like a light that late. How late? 3 a.m., and I'd only quit the party because my eyes were going numb from the contacts. I didn't sleep for a long time though. I was drunk from convention camaraderie.

I got many great pictures, and there are lots more of me floating out there. But this is my favorite so far. 

So what do for next year? Let me think about that for a while.

Friday, August 24

The Call of the Colas

I haven't had a Coke or Sprite or any soda since I got back from Atlanta two weeks ago. There are days, like last night, where I crave it. Where the Sprite can sings to me from behind giant jagged rocks. I was dragging, and I dearly wanted the magic sugar syrup. I was good. I rebuked it. But I can still taste it.

The deputy is mesmerized by a piece of the Planet Earth documentary series: A family of ibex butt heads on a  rocky mountainside. He asks for it constantly, and it keeps him in a low gear during meals. I can't count how many times we've seen it, and I don't mind. There's no singing or morals. We've underscored how the headbutting is not something we do by telling him "goats play rough." And that's how he asks for it  -- "want see goats play rough." But he hasn't yet charged another daycare child to establish his alpha status.

We're a week away from going back to Atlanta. Your Sister is just about done with her costume, as am I. She got her boots a few days ago, and my suits come back from the cleaners today. A few tweaks here and there, and we're all set. My Mom will watch the deputy for a few days, and we'll be back in time to have a languorous Labor Day.

I just started inking the October comic, and I'll pimp it tomorrow online, the same day the ad runs in the roller derby program. We're also tailgating tomorrow with friends as a late birthday party for mememe. I also just emailed Malaprop's about them possibly carrying my comics. That would be quite a coup.

The garden has produced giant zucchini and armloads of tomatoes. It's starting to fade, and we'll need to decide what cold crops to try this year. Our habaneros are deadly unless they're smothered in cheese on a homemade pizza.

Picture of the Day
Behind the scenes on Kill Bill.

Tuesday, August 14

Breathing Easy

We have a new air system now. The installation took two teams: One crew to deliver and connect the new system to the existing duct work (now scoured clean), and another to hook it up to a new thermostat. Your Sister made it all happen, mostly because she was home to coordinate the companies. We hired the same restoration company that cleaned up after the water heater collapsed, and they cleaned out the crawlspace. The air company came in just within the last few days. They're not done; they have to apply the finishing touches and test the repaired system. The new system is strangely quiet, so much so that I suspect it's failed, before I feel the cold air circulate.

I turned 40 yesterday. It doesn't feel like the cold hand of death that I expected. I've been in the ages that orbit the big 40, moon-hopping closer to the number each year, that it;s a relief to get here. Ages 38 and 39 are just precursors. It feels like this is the first birthday I've had in a few years, and my brain no longer has that glee of a day that's mine all mine. I mean, I have that virtually every day now. I'm 40, and I make comics. I can run a few miles at a moment's notice. I'm attending a local comic workshop this weekend, I'm gonna have a roller derby party the following weekend, and the big costume party in Atlanta is the weekend after that. Things is good.

School started Monday, and Your Sister is back to the salt mine. This is the first year of a Google laptop distribution program by the district. Every student gets a Google Chromebook. Some parents won't sign off on them, so their kids have to leave them at school, even if it might be needed for homework. Do the parents think the kids have new access to online horrors? Probably. I knew kids who couldn't watch the sex-ed films in middle school and had to sit in the hall for almost the entire science class that day. The local pawn shops have been alerted to the new laptops, and they agreed to rat out anyone bringing them in.

One of the freshman parents informed Your Sister that all academia is now devoted to feminizing boys through cherry-picked literature which makes all men look bad. She also said everything in the Obama autobiography (used by her to illustrate rhetorical flourish) is a lie. Her son, by the by, is the only boy in that class. I've heard that anti-boy argument before, usually from wannabe pundits shilling their books on right-wing radio. Why are boys outnumbered in colleges these days? Because they're victimized by literature, and the entire feminist philosophy is to blame. It's not too far away from the same accusations about white students being shunned through affirmative action. White guys got it bad, I hear. Usually from very rich white guys with book and TV deals who dropped out of college.

My comic is moving along. I lost a week to the work convention, but I feel like I'm making headway regardless because this issue is so short compared to the last one. This one will be fully half as long. I might be able to start inking Sunday. The comic debuts in the middle of October for the new local convention. I'm advertising it in the August rollerderby program and again in September. The image I posted on FB and Twitter over the weekend is my comic's derby team logo. I'll tease more art as the convention nears.

Picture of the Day
Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno from the CBS Incredible Hulk TV show.

Friday, July 27

A House of Sickness

Your Sister hired an efficiency advisor to scour the house. After a four-hour tour, he found much too much humidity in the house, too little insulation around the skylight wells, and giant mold in the crawlspace. We've put dehumidifiers in and under the house, and we're hiring a restoration company to clean out the crawlspace. We may also get a new air unit.

We don't think the air has caused the deputy's constant sniffles. That's probably inherited from me (also, he coughs exactly like his mom). Your Sister picked up an ear infection, possibly from all her time under the house.

I will be in Atlanta next week for a work convention, and we'll be in the same hotel a month later for the Labor Day party. We have most of our costumes together, and I was spurred to finish mine this week after watching Dark Knight Rises, an exhausting, gigantic hero movie.

We plan to watch the opening ceremonies tonight,  four years after watching them in our beachside hotel when we attended your medical school ceremony.

Picture of the Day
A very localized storm.

Tuesday, July 10

So, Monday.

The roofers started attacking the house yesterday. Your Sister moved the car out of the garage to give them access to the attic. She left the car windows down. It rained like hell. The car is a bathtub. I was told of this when Your Father came by the office from the second time that day.

The first visit was to drop off a tiller attachment for a weedeater. When he mentioned these last weekend, he offered them and implied they were his old ones. What he delivered were brand-new components, fresh off the store shelves. He came back later to give us a long-handle magnet to pick up nails left by the roofers. Nice idea, but it doesn't pick up nails used on the siding. He delighted in delivering the bad news of the rain possibly leaking through the roof and definitely filling the car in his usual language of vague pronouns, chuckles and eyebrow movements. He's also adamant that the gutter covers we ordered won't work.

Today, I sit in a car seat covered in paper towels. I left my sketchbook at home so id didn't get water damage, like the exact same type of sketchbook I had to replace because it got water damage in the fender bender.

Picture of the Day
There was so much beer last night.

Friday, July 6

Well Damn

I returned home yesterday to find the yard had been shorn. Your Sis hired a pruning service that also tackled underbrush. They cut back significantly the trees along the driveway, and they cleaned out the garden beds in the front yard. When they did the latter, they also completely removed my favorite part of our yard.

The second plateau of the yard ended in a small arboreal cul-de-sac. I loved that spot. I wanted to put in a porch swing there. Now it's gone. Your Sister didn't spell out for me just what she intended to remove nor did she have any idea how much I enjoyed that spot. Neither did I, frankly. I teared up when I saw it and quickly swallowed it. She went to some trouble to schedule this, and anything I said would only have sounded ungrateful.

She noticed my distress and suggested later that we recreate it. It would take, what, six years? I'm too deflated to pull the trigger on that right now. I still have to remove the stump of the tree. As I type this, it feels like a funeral.

This is home ownership. It stinks a little.

Picture of the Day
Here's my model for the DragonCon costume. I'm looking at costume pieces and props on Amazon.

Thursday, July 5

Fourth of July

I found out at 3:30 Tuesday that I'd be off Wednesday. That didn't give a lot of time for planning. Your Sister and Nephew were going to meet the rest of Your Family for breakfast Wednesday morning before the Birmingham crew hit the road. I tagged along. Your Sister packed a whatever-bag for any notions that might have struck us while in Asheville. We ate at Shoney's and took lotsa pictures. The deputy can be distracted into eating new food if he's got something to twiddle with, like a kid's activity book. He did fine.

They had all visited the Asheville nature center the day before, and it was decided the boy should go back. I didn't remember a zoo being so close to my office, and it's a nice, quiet, woody walkthrough. Because it was hot, we didn't see some of the more popular animals: the bear, the deer. The wolves and foxes were sleeping, but we spotted them. He enjoyed watching the cougar pace its cage, and none of us noticed that it continued to follow him the length of its enclosure. We turned for one last look, and it was right there staring at the deputy. They have a tractor, and of course he pounced on that. He seemed to enjoy the whole day.

But he had a nightmare last night that seems to be related to the zoo. We heard him sobbing -- wrenching hitched, heaving cries -- and he had ruined his diapers. His legs were locked, and he was shaking. It was as close to a panic attack as I've seen. We got some water in him and took him into the shower, and he started talking about the wolves. It took about an hour to get him back down. He seems fine this morning.

We didn't even consider taking him to see fireworks last night. Maybe when he's a year older.

We showed him the cantina scene of Star Wars yesterday, and he was a tad mesmerized. He thinks Darth Vader's head is a car. He called the landspeeder an airplane and Chewbacca a dog. Speaking of whom ...

Picture of the Day
Director Irwin Kershner walks Chewbacca through the scene in Bespin City.

Monday, July 2

Holiday Weekend?

I had no idea this past weekend was the official July 4 weekend until maybe Saturday afternoon. The grocery store was packed. I normally go on Sunday, but the family was assembling at Chez Ass Smack that day, and I went early. It was a mob. As far as I know everything is still happening Wednesday -- the fireworks, the day off, flags galore. It seems like folks would want to start the holiday weekend the next day, Thursday, and stretch the holiday until Monday. I dunno. This is how I would run things.

The Sunday get-together was the usual collision of good intentions and awkward adjustments. Your Sister had to go to church early Sunday, and she asked Your Mom to come to our house not long after to take the deputy to church. Why I wasn't asked to take him and leave him there with Your Sis, I don't know. Your Mom comes over Sunday morning, about five minutes after I learn any of this, and she says she wants to sit in our car to get used to it. The plan, it seems, is for her to drive our baby-seat-equipped car to the church, and since she doesn't know our car, she wants to sit in it to take in its operations. Download it into her brain. Osmosis it, maybe. I veto this immediately. I know Your Mom can't work the baby seat. Your Sister can barely do it. So I say, no, I'll take him to church, and I'll stay through the service and drive him back home. (Again, why didn't Your Sis ask me to trade cars with her before church started? Still haven't got an answer.) Your Mom takes this veto badly and starts to cry.

Here's something you may not know about me: Argument tears raise my blast shields. They do the opposite of their intention. Instead of growing sympathetic to the crying person's stance, I get draconian. I've been through too many arguments over the decades where tears were deployed on purpose to win the argument. I've grown calloused. So Your Mom, whether she intended to or not, only made me more resolved to not let her leave the house alone with her grandson. And when she suggested, you know, she could maybe loosen the baby seat to make it easier for her, she may as well have dared me to go. I took them both, and I stayed through the service, and I drove them back home. If Your Mom came to our town solely to take him to church, then her trip was a waste.

The rest of the family (minus your aunt, who didn't want to risk a car breakdown in this heat) arrived about half an hour after we got home. Your Sister arrived with lunch maybe 20 minutes later. My Mom arrived almost 2 hours later (probably on purpose, she's going through a phase again where she wants to be home). Lunch went well, the nieces were deputy-crazy, and the adults got to chat. Your Sis hired a photographer for this late birthday party for the boy, and it was a good idea. The outdoor pictures were done quickly due to bug swarms, and it's possible they were pushed together into our yard by the giant storm that hit later that night. But before then we all ate at the second Tupelo Honey, and good golly that's good eats. Also, I spotted across the street a Five Guys Burgers and almost ordered a second supper there.

The visit went really well, thanks to Your Sister's party planning and the deputy's good nature. Also he was asleep for most of it, and the girls got to watch Monsters Inc., one of two DVDs we have that might be kid-friendly. (If you're wondering why we showed them a film with naked Halle Berry, that's Monster's Ball. Different film.) He got a giant bulldozer toy and a red bouncing ball. Your oldest niece almost snapped her ankle riding his scooter down the driveway (she's fine), and your other niece is a charming kid these days. The Birmingham family are in town until the 4th, and they'll spend some time today with Your Sis and Nephew, playing hooky from daycare. I'm at work. Shock. Your Mom got over her upset quickly. I think she was happy to see the boy and my mom.The big storm last night brought a lot of rain and noise but no damage.

I finally got my convention stuff unpacked and sorted. I'm now planning for the local October show. I probably will not make a full-sized comic for this, but I might make a very small minicomic for the occasion. I will solicit sketch commissions at large-ish sizes in the months beforehand. Those sell pretty well at conventions, and this might create a full artists interaction experience for those who can't go to to a bigger show.

Your Sister is investigating roofing companies for the house, and pitting them against each other for good estimates. Crafty wife scheming is taking place. We should get a new roof before she goes back to school. Our house is relatively simple and small; shouldn't take that long to slap on shingles and new gutters.

Picture of the Day
This is a page from the young-reader Spider-Man series during his Electric Company days. It's goofy stuff.

Do you remember those Spidey segments?

Tuesday, June 26

Two Years

The deputy turns 2 today. Seems like a little more has gone by since that Saturday night in the hospital. I could see a difference in his word use after just those four days at the convention. He can ID some letters and he's building the number chain between 1 and 10. I joke sometimes that I like him more the older he gets, but it's true. He's developing a personality. He wants to try everything. See everything. Not so much eat everything. But he knows that time-outs help him gather himself in a tantrum and decide what he really wants.

I also came home to an aggressive garden. The zucchini plants are as tall as my chest. The tomato vines look like shrubs. Your Sister wonders if it took this many years to properly alter the soil. She credits the compost. I credit crop rotation. One zucchini made three cups of shredded greens for zucchini bread.

Your Sister is using the summer to fix all the lingering yard aggravations. We're gonna replace the shingles and gutters, prune the big trees, mulch the front-yard beds, and maybe remove some dying trees.

I'm still dragging a bit from the convention, and last night's very late dinner didn't help. Your Sister is on her relaxed summer schedule, but I'm not. She likes to tarry with the boy in the morning, and I'm scooting him out the door for the commute. She also doesn't mind a 10pm supper, and I am both fading into oblivion and desperately clawing at the table in hunger.

Picture of the Day
A handy chart for all your travels.

Monday, June 18

Father's Day Weekend

As you may know, when summer hits, Your Sister likes to indulge by planning things. Parties, mostly. Sometimes travel. She's talked before of becoming an event planner when she retires, and she gets in her practice when she can. She digs it, it's her thing, and I won't begrudge her.

However, the weekend before I man a table for the first time at HeroesCon is a lousy window to plan Big Things on consecutive days. Because Your Parents will visit her and the deputy while I'm gone, Your Sister wanted to give My Mom equal time on Saturday. Heavy sighs for lots of reasons. Mom is coming up here in just two weekends when your family assembles. I put on a good face. I did not grumble, and when asked outright about the weekend scheduling, I tried to be subtle. I think I said "I'm a little anxious about the time to prepare for convention." What I wanted to say was "HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND?!"

But I was able to burrow into the workshop to make my price displays and gather up some sketches to sell. I also mailed out thank-you copies to Danielle and Rebecca, my high-school friends who helped me with the comic's kickboxing scene.I also mailed out a 5-card row of robots to a customer in Seattle. (Trivia: He's closer to you than to me by 60 miles. I Googled.) I also played with color sketches, and I decided to also offer color face cards for $2 more. I'm working up a larger piece of art for the annual convention charity auction. I might color that too. Maybe.

The visit with Mom was fine, if short. We warned her that we would probably be able to only do lunch because the boy would nap immediately after. We ate at McDonald's because the food was ready quicker than at a real restaurant. He ate well and played on the smallest slide in the playground. He's becoming quite the climber. He can scale his changing table in both directions. As long as one of us is within arm's reach, I have no problem with this. He's building muscle and balance.

Mom balked initially at buying the comic 4-pack. She hasn't bought a comic in decades, and the prices are closer to $3 an issue than the 60 cents she may have paid when I was a kid. I sweetened the deal by offering two eclairs, and she denied that she initially balked. Oh, she balked. There was balkage.

She gave us a little Wal-Mart truck Pez dispenser for the boy. She said it was from her friend Ricky, and she once again declared they were only friends and would be only friends. When I mentioned this to Your Sister on the way home, she said that Mom would talk about him at the beach house when I left the room, and she was convinced that I didn't like the guy. I haven't met him. (Mom mentioned meeting him Saturday, but I said the window with the deputy was too small to be fair to either of them.) And I've told her repeatedly that whatever relationships she enters into now are entirely her business. As long as she seems a) happy; and b) treated well, I have no qualms. I'd much rather she be out and about than living as a hermit. When we left, I told her to thank the guy for the truck.

We picked up a glider bike (a toddler bike with no pedals) that morning, and Your Sister put it together that afternoon while I took him into town. He has to learn how to balance on the bike, and he moves very slowly on it. We fidget with the seat height constantly to make him comfortable. We ended the night by eating on the deck with the firepit all lit up. I engineered a new alfredo recipe that went over well, and I'll probably put it on the Doom blog today. We also ate on the deck Sunday night because why not? We only have to move the table 15 feet.

The second event she planned was a Father's Day/deputy birthday party with the neighbors. We picnicked and rode bikes or walked on the town trail. He wanted to ride the big slide, and I followed as he climbed the stairs. That was maybe ten feet up, and he did it repeatedly. No fear at all. He got a toy school bus from the neighbors, and he won't let it go. I'm not surprised. He had a cupcake. I have Father's Day Krispy Kremes that somehow have lasted since Saturday afternoon.

I think what I'm really feeling about convention is a reflexive panic. But I've done virtually everything already. I can relax. Maybe a little.

Picture of the Day
This is Liu Yang, China's first female astronaut. She went into space this weekend. 

Thursday, June 14

One Week Out

This time next week, I'll be in Charlotte, checking into my hotel and wondering who to contact to set up my booth. I don't have much left to do. I need to make price signs and pack. That's really it. Buy some snack food. Grab some folding money. We're going to visit My Mom for Saturday, and I'm now feeling pinched for time to prepare for convention. It's Your Sister's idea, but I wish we could just wait to see her on July 1, when the Birmingham gang drive up.

We were invited to a bar trivia night for Tuesday, and I went. I declared that Your Sister would go the next time, but she's not into it. However, I did manage to shoo her to the local yoga class, which she has tried to get to for almost a year now. She's really winding down from summer. She wants to slowly release the deputy each morning to school, and I have to steer him toward the door and the car so I can get to work on time.

Bar-Trivia Trivia: I was told by a trivia teammate told that a third teacher is telling people Your Sister is about to move away. Like out of state. I responded by saying I had heard nothing about this. I'm not surprised by the gossip nor the source. That teacher, by the way, moved away. Like out of state. Seems like she's burning bridges behind her.

Picture of the Day
Almost time to pack.

Monday, June 11

Seven Year Itch

Your Sister is recovering slowly from the dental procedure, but the antibiotics are killing her.She's pounding down yogurt and ginger ale to keep her system working right. She was miserable last night.

The Deputy is suddenly much more verbal. He's aping words with relative ease and babbling sentences as he pretends to read aloud. He was apparently very helpful and communicative to the babysitter on Saturday. We were away to a friend's house; he wanted to show of his home theatre with our Star Wars blu-rays. I took him a 4-pack of comics, a gesture I can't do too often. Those things are too costly to hand out.

I'm very close to finishing the major convention chores. I need to assemble the rest of my four-packs (98 left; I sold one last weekend online). Both the babysitter and the Saturday host asked if my work is for sale at the local comic store. And it is. The store owner told me Sunday that he'll put my full-size comic on the shelf with the other comics. THE SHELF. I'm big-time. I'll do maybe two more sheets of cards and two more sketches to sell, and I'll be done with the big big stuff. I still need to make table displays & price cards and pack.

I continue to get chiropractic and legal mail following the crash. I'm glad they don't have my email. The body shop has the estimate and is ordering the parts.

Your Sister hoped to buy the boy a glider bike (a short bike frame with no pedals), but the store she went to sold their floor model the day before. They've ordered another, and he'll have one in time for his birthday.

Sunday was our jailhouse-a-versary. It seems unlikely, but there have been enough mile markers to make the time credible. The deputy's obviously the big one, but the theatre and volleyball and comics and Olympics all mark the span. If I hadn't kept that envelope in which she sent me the local paper's Halloween banner, and if she had moved in the time between that letter and the one I mailed her when I was suddenly alone a few year's later, none of this would have happened. I don't think the comics would have happened. I'd be a bachelor theatre stalwart in Greenville.

Picture of the Day
They started work on Iron Man 3. Should come out next year. I think.

Thursday, June 7

Fetch the Popcorn

This nose/face thing seems to be fading finally. Your Sister is recovering from dental work that will severely limit her eating for about four days.We'll both get thinner.

Here's why I'm really posting: The first trailer for Tarantino's western, Django Unchained, is out. Django was a recurring character in Italian westerns in the '60s. Spaghetti Westerns were huge here during that time, their global heyday. Eastwood's tough cowboy image came from there in director Sergio Leone's "Dollars trilogy." This is another love letter to a film genre for Tarantino, and the cast looks solid.

Wednesday, June 6

About Time

Finally, a week after the crash, an insurance appraisers looked at the car. He provided an estimate to Your Sister and recommended a local body shop. I thought the Jim Barkley dealership could do the repairs, but no, they have no body shop. That stuns me. They always advertise as full-service. The estimate will got to the body shop this week, and the car will get there the 19th. Should be fixed in a week. That leaves Your Sister with no car while I'm in Charlotte, but we're covered for rental cars by the insurance.

I'm now putting sketches into my portfolio, hoping they'll sell at the convention. I already pre-sold five sketch cards just yesterday. 
+  +  +

Ray Bradbury has died. The 20th-century SF prose genre was PACKED with talent. Bradbury, Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein, Niven, Anderson, Herbert, Le Quin. These are the people who inspired the radio dramas and movies and TV series. And Bradbury's body of work is gargantuan. I'm not sad he's gone; I'm too gobsmacked by everything he wrote.

I knew the Electric Grandmother story before I knew who wrote it. The Something Wicked This Way Comes movie scared the crap out of me before I knew who wrote it. I took at least one of his anthologies to the beach house last month.

Picture of the Day
All in a day's work.

Monday, June 4

The Checklist Is Shrinking

I picked up my comic reprints from OfficeMax this morning. They sat behind their shelves for longer than it took to print them. I got the call Friday afternoon, and I was already back home. It took them just two days to print about 110 comics. I spent Saturday in the workshop organizing my display materials from the previous shows, and I've got a little list to pad them out a tad. The only major expense left is the hotel room. I'm taking a lot of my work from sketchbooks to sell. I discovered I had, between the  Facebook Sketchtember and the theme art on heygregory.com, quite a bit of work that could sell. Most everything else I'll buy will come from a Michael's store.

We had a scare with the deputy last night. He asked to go to bed before supper, and he was flushed. Your Sister found he had a 102 fever, and gave him a warm shower to cool him down, which he did quickly. But he screamed and screamed for a half hour. I think he overheated outside. We should have changed his church shirt before he and I went downtown. He may also have dehydrated after the gelato. This morning he was fine; his temperature was the perfect 98.6.

Your Sister has begun cycling down from work. She spent the evening shopping online for summer clothes, and I approve of her relaxation. She has only a few school days left, and at least one of those is to make up for her missing school last week because I couldn't find a baby seat in town.

Picture of the Day
I need to practice drawing these guys for the convention.

Friday, June 1

I Take a Humble Bow

The response to the Arsenal page, including your link and tweeting, is overwhelming. It really felt like the tiniest of gestures as the months dragged on, but the premise surprises people. I asked his mom if I could put him in a comic, and I might very well make an Arsenal mini for the fall convention.

Yes, Asheville is gonna get a second convention. The unofficial Fanaticon replacement failed to wow folks, and they did not do a good job about getting the word out. This unrelated convention in October looks to the May show as an example, and I wouldn't be surprised if the they merge if they prove moderately successful in the coming years. I told the new show's organizers to sign me up for a table, and a new mini might not be impossible. A true mini, I mean, not another full-sized comic.

The Boston court ruling on DOMA is muy interesting. The argument over federal tax benefits gives this a booster rocket to the Supreme Court, and a conservative court, as I've argued for sometime, already leans toward individual sovereignty. This could cement the schism between political and social conservatism (the moral scolds). It won't be a factor in the November elections however.

P.S. During lunch, Arsenal's mom said bluntly, "you need to update Cooking With Villainy." So I did later in the day. 

Picture of the Day
This is the Dragon capsule from SpaceX, the commercial space enterprise. Dragon docked with the space station and returned without a hitch, moving us that much closer to a private company sending people into space. Wow.

Thursday, May 31

Aches and Pains

I am sore. Not crippling sore. Not hobbled sore. But sore. Stiff. Like I did too many sit-ups. I can't torque my neck enough to crack it, but that's the extent of loss of quality of life. I walk OK. I sit and stand OK. I'm not taking anything for it although I do intend to have beer tonight.

I was informed via email yesterday that my comics are being mailed to me. Now I'm all atwitter over the fear that there's a giant mistake on the comic that will be immediately noticeable when I open the box. However this is tempered somewhat by the voice in my head yelling I MADE A GODDAMN COMIC! HOLY BUG BUTTS, BATMAN! Just this morning, I took my minicomic PDFs to OfficeMax to get more copies made to fill out the four-pack bundles.

Your Sister took her motorcycle to the shop. She borrowed some new gas from my lawnmower supply, and the shop suggested her carburetor is clogged. They may do the state inspection when they fix the bike. She won't admit this but the crash gave her a good reason to make the bike a daily vehicle. I had to chase down USAA to start my claim properly. I have yet to hear from my assigned adjustor, but she may not need to call now. Once I told USAA that I was talking to State Farm (the other driver's insurance), they snapped to work, recording my statement and walking me through the process. We have to wait a week to get an appraisal because we live so far from a certified USAA repair shop. I intend to take the car to the Toyota dealership. I bought a new car seat during my lunch break yesterday. We tried to find the exact model we had, but all we found was an expensive upgrade. That's fine; we're adding it to the insurance claim.

Picture of the Day
Here she comes! Here comes Speed Teacher!

Wednesday, May 30

The Crash

So here's what happened:

I picked up the deputy early from daycare because we had to go to Hendersonville to pick up a package at the UPS hub. They won't deliver wine without a signature, and we work. On the drive there, his big-boy water cup turned over in his lunchbox, and the water leaked in the passenger seat and all over my sketchbook. It was bulging with comics and prints and convention to-do items, and they were all soaked.

I got the address of the warehouse from the UPS site, and I knew roughly where that address is. But the hub isn't obvious from the street. I saw the UPS trucks in a gravel parking lot and a building I assumed was theirs. But the parking area was gated and locked, and there were no accessible doors. I parked near that building and schlepped the deputy to it. That's when I saw the tiny "AT&T" signage. Not our building. I walked to the UPS trucks and headed toward the back of that lot, still not seeing anything that looked like a public door.

Juggling the deputy and phone, I called the UPS hotline to at least confirm my package would be there and the place would be open. As I talked to them, I found a mechanic working on a truck, and he pointed me toward a door around yet another corner. We walked in, and there was no one. This was the slightest of public venues for UPS customers. It was an afterthought. Someone walked by the door and took care of us. The box was light enough to carry while the deputy walked beside, and back we went to the car as the rain started up again. Back home we went.

Five minutes later, I was stopped behind a car turning left. The rain made the road slick, and I made sure to leave space as I braked. I was at a full stop when I heard the squeal, and I knew immediately it was behind us. I braced my leg to keep the brake on, and we got hit. We slid and hit the car in front of us. When we stopped rolling, I turned off the engine and checked the rear-view mirror for the deputy. His seat was askew and the baby mirror was knocked over. I waited for oncoming traffic to clear before I moved to the back to check on him. He was surprised and teary, but OK. His face contorts when he's fighting a big cry, and it was on display. The driver of the truck that hit me was at the other passenger window asking if he was OK," and I yelled at him to wait. I was right mad. I wanted to clobber him. But yeah, the boy was OK. I kept him in the seat and called 911. I told them I was shaky, and I couldn't say definitively we were fine.

The firetrucks arrived first, and they confirmed everyone was OK. I think it was about that time the drive of the car I hit walked over to me. She had moved her car out of the main road and onto the street she had stopped for originally. She asked if I hadn't seen her signal. I said I had and was stopped and then I got hit. She hadn't seen the truck behind me and its damage, much less the back of my car. The deputy stayed in his seat, where he would stay for the rest of the time. His seat had been shoved forward and crammed against the front passenger seat, but otherwise it was fine, and that was the best place of the time being.

We moved the cars to the side street before the ambulance arrived, and an EMT checked out the deputy while I signed hospital waiver sheets. The EMT said the baby seat had to be replaced because it was in the accident, and I said the replacement price would be worth it. Cops arrived about ten minutes later, and they took the registrations and licenses. During all this the truck driver was anxious about the deputy. I assured him he was fine, and bullets were dodged. The car sounded OK when I drove it, and other folks who looked at the back tires said they seemed fine.

I had called Your Sister twice and left messages before reaching her. I told her to stay near her phone(s) in case we needed a ride home. The police officer gave us each contact and insurance info for our claims and ticketed the truck driver for hitting us. The car I hit was sent home because there was no damage to their car or my front half. I got home and called USAA, and the claims department is not winning me over. The phone agent says no one can look at the car until Tuesday. I can still drive the car until then I suppose. But that's a very long time. I may go back to GEICO when this is over.

You've had worse accidents. You've gone through all this. But GEICO spoiled me when I had my wreck in 2003. My car was in a shop within two hours.

Your Sister gave me Balcofen to stave off muscle soreness, but it did nothing last night. I have tightness, but nothing Advil cant handle.

Picture of the Day
Unleash the tooth demons upon our insurance company!

Tuesday, May 29

In Which It Might Be Nice to Breathe

I am baffled by the head flu. It has clogged me up entirely -- at times approximating the feeling of sleep apnea -- and neither decongestants, Dayquil, nor allergy medicines make a dent in it. It's better today but only by the slightest of increments. Your Sister's doubled-over coughing seems better, and the boy is recovering. It can't be allergies.

We sat him on the couch as Return of the Jedi played on TV. Some channel was running a marathon, and we caught the part of the movie where the rebels and Ewoks attack the Endor moon bunker while the Falcon leads the attack on the Imperial fleet. Normally, he watches TV with constant commentary, pointing out vehicles or animals. But as he watched these little teddy bears fight a machine that walks like a chicken, he was dead silent and utterly still. Mesmerized. As the scene switched to the space fight, he saw the TIE Fighters and made "helicopter" hand signs. When the scene changed to the Vader/Luke/Emperor scene, he got bored. Rightfully so. That bit goes on for days. That scene drove him from the couch, and out the door we went. So, yes, when he's old enough to watch the films, I think he'll be interested.

Your Sister graded the majority of the papers last night. She felt OK about those she didn't get to, and none were handed to me for simple proofing. I offered to help a lot, but she wanted to fly solo. OK. I'll watch TV.

My ad ran in the Blue Ridge Rollergirl program Saturday, to what might be the smallest audience they've hosted. It was Memorial Day Weekend, after all. The next home bout is during the July 4 Weekend, and that audience might not be any bigger. I'm still debating running the ad again. I got some page views but no orders. What was odd was one of the visiting team members is named Bat. L. Royale. She wasn't present, but I asked a teammate to let her know about the coincidence. I'm also now convinced that the next comic will have a roller girl heroine.

And this was the shirt I coulda sold for tens of dollars.

Thursday, May 24

Exploring Possibilities

Your Sister is considering applying for another job at the school, a job with less classroom time. She'd still have an AP class, and she'd oversee the school paper, which is now an online-exclusive publication. But she'd also act as a gifted-student guidance counselor. She likes that in theory, but I noted it would mean dealing with parents petitioning for specific class placement, a headache she already despises in her current classes. This new position would see that annoyance magnified. That's all the job would involve. I suggested she ask the previous counselor what the job entailed. I understand why it sounds like a good package deal, but she needs to do her homework on this before moving into a job that sounds much more expendable if another budget crunch occurs.

In preparation for graduation, she took in her robe. A lot. 

The deputy can now name colors, and he discovered how to jump. He delivered a beaut of a head cold to the house, and I'll gladly suffer it now than a month from now in Charlotte.

Picture of the Day
She's ready for school to be over any minute now.


Monday, May 21

So This Needs to Be Cranked up Again Properly.

As the daycare was closed Friday, I stayed at home with the deputy. It was the rare weekday when we two are home and everything in town is open. The previous weekend, he visited the car dealership for a child safety event. Fingerprints were taken for us to hold onto to. He also registered for a raffle for an age-appropriate scooter, and he won. We picked it up Friday, and the dealership ladies cooed over him, and we both strolled the lot to stare at trucks. By happenstance they service center was working on two ambulances, and he was hyp-mo-tized.

We strolled downtown, and I took him to the fire station again. I discovered they had a chunk of I-beam from the WTC, and that gave me pause. The plaque dedicated the piece to firefighters, as one would expect at a firehouse. But that doesn't sit right with me. 9/11 resonates so strongly because it hit every demographic and profession. Firemen, EMTs, police, the full range of office professionals, government employees, military staff, airline employees, you name it. To claim the day and it's solemnity for one group of folks turns the memento into a trophy. If our town is gonna have this remnant (and that's shocking in itself), it should be in a public square, a venue representative of the full range of people taken away. Even the library would be nice. Might encourage visitors to read about the world beyond their gardens and hunting nests.

And all that flashed in my brains as I was also debating whether the boy could last another half hour in that diaper. I also found sweet potato vines at the hardware store a few doors down the street from the firehouse.

Later in the day, we hiked the forest, and I encouraged his obsession with throwing rocks into the river. He yells out "splash" just as he did at the beach. After Your Sister got off work, we visited the neighbors and talked about their garden. They spread hay over their unused soil, and that reminded me that we had hay bales left over from the Halloween party. The next morning, I planted the sweet potatoes along with leftover yellow potatoes to go where the first round of potatoes failed to sprout, and I spread those bales over the garden.  I forgot that my grandfather did the same thing for his garden to control weeds.Your Sister and Nephew visited Your Parents that morning while I was in the garden.

I took the kid downtown again later in the day, and we once more hit the gelato shop. I like having a spot that just he and I hit. Guy time.

The next morning I finally made my Power Jam shirt for the roller girls. I used the iron-on packet I bought to make your shirts. I can't use the same image for the local shirt shop because they can't print white ink. That's limiting, but I can make line art of the image and submit that. I did want one shirt that was a photo for the jam jar and label because I had used a similar image for a MetreoBEAT cover years ago. When I had my shift with the boy, we visited the buses at the school and did another tour of the grocery store in a cart car.

Last night, I took the teen neighbor comic-movie buddy to see Avengers. It works better on a second viewing, and I picked up a lot of little details I missed the first time. The DVD comes out in September.

I wish the weather was a little cooler so I could wear that OBGYN UPS shirt ...

Picture of the Day
But it's too darn hot.

Thursday, May 10

Settling Back In

The drive back wasn't bad at all. We drove through I-40 and ate an early lunch at Cracker Barrel. The deputy slept a little, and My Mom minded him almost the entire way home. She bought him a toy car at the Cracker Barrel store, and that placated him. When we stopped the second time, it was, by utter coincidence, at the same exit we took for supper on Friday. This time we stopped at Dunkin Donuts to let him walk around. We got home around 5:30, and Mom drove home immediately. Your Sister took the boy for a walk while I unpacked the car. He had broken the car by supper; the doors came off. No big deal.

However, he may have toilet trained himself. He asked for the toilet while in the bath, standing and pointing at it. I set him down, and we both thought nothing had happened. As it always does. I picked him up, and he had actually cleared out his belly. I yelled for Your Sis, and we applauded him. I don't think he knew what he had done. We're treating it as a fluke until it happens again.

My garden is mostly OK. Some plants are dead and gone already, probably from too much time in the store pots. But we had enough rain in our absence to power the rest of the plants to victory.

The printer tells me I'm still on track for the May 31 shipping date, and I can only hope that's so. I need to make a drawing for a friend's son, and I wanna finish up my t-shirt idea before next week,

Picture of the Day
Loki plays around on the set of The Avengers. He nailed that role.

Tuesday, May 1

For You

I just found this online:

Tuesday, April 24

Planting the Seeds

The next-door neighbors and I had talked about starting our gardens since September. They wanted to start one but hadn't tried it before, and that made me the default garden expert. OK. We agreed we'd rent a tiller from the town rental shop. Turns out, though, that the new neighbor across the street (with the chickens) has a tiller, and our next-doors had asked him for it. This saves us a chunk of change and the hassle of taking the tiller back to the rental shop. Originally we agreed to use the tiller two weekends ago, but the next-doors weren't ready yet, and we decided we could do it this past weekend. Just sometime. Whenever.

I was awake for about 15 minutes Saturday when the next-doors called to say they had the machine and were ready when I was. Your Sister and Nephew were leaving for their Saturday morning outing (tailgate market, library, etc.), and I walked over with some coffee. The tiller is a beast. It's much bigger and stronger than the rental model I had used for years. The neighbor husband offered it to me first as they were heading out for Earth Day. I said I could start it up now and take it to my garden so he could watch, and we could work out the kinks. We did that, discovering the contraption's ins and outs, and he left for the family events while I finished up the tillin'. It was about half-an-hour after I woke up, I hadn't had my coffee yet, and I had the house to myself. I decided that momentum directed me to stick with this and get the garden started right.

I drove to the local Lowe's (despite the store's past efforts to drive me mad) and bought a stack of cow manure. I didn't know how much would fit in the car, so I stopped at eight bags, bought those, loaded them up, and went back to get more. That done, I went back home to toss the unopened bags onto the soil and see how much coverage I bought myself. I decided I needed more. Back I went, and more I bought. After two trips, I had bought 17 bags of manure. Those are 50 pounds each. I heaved each of the them onto the carts, into the car, out to the garden, and then cut them open and slung them about to spread the manure. I figure I lifted 2,600 pounds in an hour's time. I covered that with a bag of fertilizer and mixed all that into the dirt with the tiller. By this time, Your Sis and Neph were back, and he was eating lunch on the deck. He loves him some engines, and he was hypnotized by the tiller. I took the tiller back to the next-doors before going back inside.

I finished up just after he was put into bed, and I was fairly exhausted. It was getting too hot to keep going, and I needed a break. When I took the deputy out and about later in the day, I made sure to stop by to see if the next-doors had any luck. Their plot was tilled up, and they were unloading their truck of soil materials. They're going wholly organic, and we talked about that before he casually mentioned it was going to snow in a few days. I hadn't heard about this, but a quick check showed we were at least gonna freeze. That kept me from doing any garden work until, maybe, tonight. If I can get a chance to run outside after work, I might get the potatoes in the ground. The plantings I bought a two weekends back are getting too big for the pots. They gotta get in the soil soon.

Meanwhile, I'm just about done with the comic. I'm gonna send it to a real comic printer and hopefully get a real comic back. I only have to finalize the cover coloring and the inside cover text blocks. That's it. And it's not even May yet. I'm going to advertise in the next rollerderby home program; I already got a QR code for my website. I also designed a rollerderby t-shirt I hope to get printed by the store that stocks my shirt designs. Suddenly, things are coming together.

Using the address you emailed us yesterday, I was able to Google movie theatres. Emerald Isle has two, and I'm hoping the adults can watch the deputy while we three run off to see The Avengers. Even if we can't this trip will be a great way to cap off the comic effort over the past five months. And of course, your ECU tenure. Thanks again for putting this together. Mom's gonna want to pitch in on some expenses, even if it's stocking the house with food.

Picture of the Day

Thursday, April 12

Braggy Brag Brag

Braggadocious Picture of the Day
Here's the book in Barnes & Noble. Technically then you can go into their stores and find my words on the shelves.I might not ever get over this.