Letters to Holly

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?