Sunday, November 28, 2010


From November 2010

Leila asked me to write a moment that captured Aleah's personality for her birthday. As I talked about what to write about with the other girls they each wanted one. We will see how I do.

We had a picnic after work one evening with a dozen breeders and our bosses. Leila wasn't feeling well and I needed to get the kids out of the house so I dragged them along. We were the only ones with family there.

When I opened the of the van, Aleah jumped out and ran into the mix of mostly middle aged men playing horseshoes and washers. She grabbed my boss's boss by the hand, gave him a quick hug and inserted herself onto their team. For the rest of the night she moved from group to group, playing first horseshoes, then washers, and finally bocce. She laughed at their jokes and told her own and cried on the way home because she wanted to stay longer.

From November 2010

At dinner a few weeks ago, I got after Aleah for "talking baby talk." Colleen, turned to me with her hands on her hips and said contemptuously, " Me no talk baby talk, my age. Aleah talk baby talk." And chuckled to her self. Ever since she will tell you proudly that she doesn't use baby talk, "her age."

She is currently asleep face down under my chair. She won't take naps, another part of "her age" she tells me. When I ask her about her nap today, total denial.

When it gets dark, she will come in and inform us that "The clock say, 'nighttime'." Yawn loudly, stretch and ask for help to get into her pajamas.

Me and the kids
From November 2010

Sometimes I get stir-crazy and want to do "Something Fun." Last week the girls and I went to Ames to go bowling or ice skating. The first bowling alley we went to looked like it had been closed for a decade. No lights. Railing falling down. Then we went to the ice skating rink. It was closing for a hockey game in 15 minutes. We loaded back into the van and went to the bowling alley/laser tag/arcade/pizza place. I only yelled no whining because we are having fun once.

Emily bowled 87 points and only beat me by ten. Colleen insisted on using a heavier ball than the other girls and would carry it like a boulder to the edge and give it a push. It got stuck once halfway down about three feet from the bumpers.

American Gothic Emily
From November 2010

This is a great picture of Leila and Emily lurking in the background. We went to Nauvoo to go to the temple, but of course we forgot to call ahead, assuming it would be open on a Saturday in October. It was closed for cleaning and new carpets. I have been to the Salt Lake Temple three times and every time it is closed for repairs or cleaning. There is a message there. I try not to think about it.

We had a great time wandering around the sites and then we drove back. On the way back we stopped at the American Gothic house and took some pictures. Emily has studied it in school and was in perfect form at all times.

Emily has also started cooking. Last night she made the entire dinner - homemade mac and cheese, edamame beans, and sweet corn. Today she is making pigs in a blanket, but since we don't have hotdogs made mile high biscuits and then meatloaf "pigs". She insists on doing it by herself without much consultation.

From November 2010

Kate's classic pose is thumb in mouth, hand in hair, on her knees. She doesn't walk, or really talk, but has mastered communication by grunt, yell, lean, and grab. She wants me to hold her as soon as I get home and I end up carrying her in the backpack carrier or on my shoulders until bedtime. She is basically spoiled rotten.

Blog Stats after 6 years

From November 2010

Image from Wordle applet

When Aleah turned 6 a few weeks ago, I realized it had been some time since I have written here. Between work and laziness, I have not spent a lot of time writing.

I was surprised to see some of the changes in blogger when I logged in that show stats on number of visitors etc. Apparently, this blog has had 1838 page views since June of 2010. Now that isn't near as many as wildly popular blogs (I like Roger Ebert's blog and Orangette are two I frequent. I don't know how many people visit their blogs a day, but each post gets hundreds of responses so it has to be huge), but I am surprised that there are that many eyes looking at my blog.

The majority of visitors to this blog still go to my post about Riverbend. I still don't know what happened to her, but I wish I did. Apparently people all around the world are still thinking about her enough to google her and visit my blog occasionally.

The next most popular post was Chicken Killers. The other posts are about equal in number of visitors. The reason these are higher I suspect is that if you search the phrases in the titles my blog comes up in the top number of links on google. I have gotten the most comments on posts about political issues, books, and my visit with my Dad in Hawaii.

Of those 1838 page hits, a bunch of them are me as I compulsively check my blog for comments. I have a widget that lets me see where visitors to the blog are from and I can piece together some of visitors to this blog. Many are friends or family from Texas, Utah, Indiana, or Boise as our lives have drawn us away and scattered us across the planet. But, for the rest of you, please let me know you were here and leave me a comment, even if I don't know you.

Because, unlike Facebook that is presumably only visible to Facebook-Friends (and any commercial entities that mine those relationships for ad revenue) this blog is open to the world, and I like that. This last year my use of Facebook has increased and my blog posts have decreased to only 17 so far this year. Part of that is I have felt my life in a crazy-busy routine and part of it is laziness that Facebook appeals to. I can write 20 words instead of an open letter to the world. I can peruse my "friends" in just minutes, but it isn't the same as a blog. It has been nice to reconnect with old friends that way and it feels more like a conversation than this blog has. On the whole, I prefer this medium. My virtual door is open to visitors that can drop in and say hello. Just like my own home, except if you visit in person I can promise pie.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Problem Diagnosis

I have a problem. I am a chronic perfectionist. For those of you who don't live with such a disorder, let me enlighten you.

For example:

My wife is a great quilter, mostly machine piecing, but is currently working on a large hexagonal hand-pieced quilt. As we sit and watch TV at the end of the day, she works on her quilt. I thought, I should do something like that. So, as I thought about what I wanted to do, I found this:

We actually have three blocks that we bought at Pike's Place Market in Seattle hanging in our bedroom.

Leila laughed at me. Because this is crazy.

I did make a quilt once, I did some appliqué for a quilt for my sister's son. But a kite and some clouds are not small geometric concentric shapes.

My attempt lasted just a few minutes. Then I was frustrated because I couldn't do it. Of course.

Many times I have run into the same thing. I have woodworking projects half finished in my garage because I tried to make cabinets before I knew how to make a box. (I had a hard time with my mortise and tenon joints and making the doors just right). I did make a workbench that I am proud of, but it took all of my willpower to keep going because it wasn't turning out like the ideal.

Plato described "ideal forms" that exist in an eternal sphere. In this mortal plane, actual representations of these ideal forms always fall short and exist like shadows on a cave wall flickering in the firelight. If a hypothetical person was forced only to see the shadows on the wall, he would believe that the shadows are the true forms.

Unfortunately for me, I have a mental image of what this ideal form should be - whether it is a song I am trying to play on the violin, how my house should look, the report I need to write, the woodworking project gathering dust in the garage. When I attempt to mimic that form, my imitation falls short, and I become discouraged and frustrated because I can't do what I meant to do.

What is the solution? It is to embrace the shadows on the wall. Because even shadow puppets are better than nothing. My neighbor gets so much done that is done so well, but each project is flawed when you look close. Most people would never notice. Probably no one would notice the flaws in what I do but myself. So that is my goal: To let myself do imperfect work. To begin where I am and see where it takes me.