Category Archives: personal

it’s in the staying there


Yesterday evening The Deistette and I got back from one of the longest stretches of days of vacation without her two boys that I can remember. We were gone for four whole days and three nights! It’s sad that the excitement is genuine over a measly three night outing in Granbury, Tx and Dallas which are about four and a half hours away from us.

As many kids are this time of year, the boys were on Spring Break and had left last weekend to be with their father who lives about an hour east of Dallas. We took advantage of them being gone by… well, it’s sad to say but resting and sleeping and basking in the silence. But on Thursday morning just before lunch we headed out toward Granbury to visit with her aunt and uncle as well as her grandfather.

It was absolutely wonderful. And I hate to say it but it was entirely because the boys weren’t there to drive up the anxiety of her already anxiety stricken aunt.

The main reason we left Casa Deist for a few days though wasn’t to visit her family or head toward Dallas to pick up the boys after their visit with their shit-for-brains father. Nope… it was to celebrate a mile marker of ours.

the-deistette-and-deist

Taken near Post, Tx
Sept 13, 2008

Continue reading

healing after the ice storm


magnolia_leafSo mid week last week the temps had fallen into the mid-20s or so and with a mist of rain in the air during the night, ice formed on pretty much everything outside. Here are some pics from my backyard. My magnolia tree shouldn’t look like this in March.

On the drive to work that morning, I noticed a lot of tree branches had snapped and fallen during the night. Not sure if they were already dead branches or if the weight of the ice caused them to break or both but there was a trail of pretty big branches that started with a neighbor’s house a couple of houses down and just kept going almost all the way to work 15 miles away. It was strange. Some of those branches were pretty big and yet they snapped because of the heaviness.

magnolia_branchesSo all this happened on Tuesday and on Saturday I was finally able to help my neighbor out by cutting the really big tree limb that had fallen in her yard.

After cutting it, we talked for a while Continue reading

baking bread and patience


kneading bread

the boys helping knead
bread dough in November 2012

I’ve recently (the past 12mos or so?) been trying my hand at baking bread. I actually have to come to enjoy it and my two stepsons like to help out whenever they know I’m about to start the alchemy of putting flour, water and yeast together.  I’ve done it maybe seven or eight times and have had some success in that it actually tasted ok. Sometimes it turns out quite nice with a tangy, homemade, yeasty flavor to it. Other times, not so much. They were just… meh.

One thing that they all had in common though, tasty or not, was they were pretty substantial. Solid. Heavy… that is until this last loaf I made. This one was rather light and airy and I’m sure it was because I cultivated a little patience and let the yeast do its work.

Patience… [sigh]
If you read my “Exposed” post, you know I’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch. Actually putting it that way is a very nice way of saying I feel like my world is crumbling around me.

I don’t mean to be too cryptic about it so I’ll just say The Deistette and I are having marital problems, we’re having internal family problems and host of other problems all of which are tributaries and offshoots of the main issue… litigation with her ex. I’ll leave it there.

So to cope and deal with… well, with all of it I’ve been trying to do things that occupy my mind but don’t necessarily require a great deal of thinking… like, mowing the grass, raking leaves, hemming my slacks, finishing out a replaced window or…

baking bread.

Believe it or not, I can be somewhat domestic and baking bread is something that makes me think about the task at hand, not so much that it becomes real work, but enough to let time pass.

A couple of weeks ago I and my oldest stepson were working on a batch while his younger brother and momma did some grocery shopping.

I’ve noticed with both boys over the years that they are “pleasers.” They’re behavior is better when they have a job they actually want to do and that they feel is actually necessary and that they feel is helping the family or others.

do what you loveIsn’t that all of us though. I think I wouldn’t be so depressed, frustrated and angry if I were working in an occupation that fulfilled that list: was something I felt was really necessary, something I enjoyed or looked forward to doing and something I thought actually helped others and/or contributed to the common good.

Anyway… so the boy and I were mixing and measuring, kneading and pounding. And finally we were done.

I looked at it and thought, “What a miserable excuse of dough for a loaf of bread.” It was rather puny and I thought, “this won’t make much at all.”

We put it in a bread pan and then in the oven that was slightly warm. I kept thinking maybe we should just fire up the oven to 350 and be done with it. But the boy kept saying “no, the directions said to wait an hour for it to rise.”

So we waited. And waited.
And waited, and waited and waited.
And waited some more.

What’s that saying?… “a watched pot never makes the dough rise as fast as you want it to?” :mrgreen:

Finally we reached an hour and in that time I think I added a little bit of that virtue with the help of the boy as we continued our exercise in patience. Not only had I gained a little virtue but that little bit of dough had doubled in size!

It wasn’t the best bread I’ve made but making this batch (particularly with the help of my older stepson) certainly taught me something.

Patience my boy…. patience.

I’m trying hard to cultivate the virtue of patience in my life again. I have strayed from my spiritual path and with awareness, faith, Providence and if I’m lucky grace, I’ll have it back again.

Exposed


20140118-215728.jpg

I used to take pictures.

It’s been so long ago that it almost seems like it was in a past life. When I first started, I was in the military and took pictures that were part of news and feature stories. A few years later I began to fancy myself an arteeest and began trying to create what I “thought” was art. I actually pulled some off and there were a few people who actually considered it art and paid for my prints or asked me to exhibit.

My first attempts were crude but in time my eye developed. I tended to drift toward my journalistic side and capture images that had a human element… you know, that showed where a human presence had been. I rarely did landscapes or what I referred to derogatorily as “snapshots of trees and rocks”.

The fact is “trees and rocks” are hard to shoot and shoot well and I knew it, so I tried to place myself above those Ansel-disciples and do my cutting edge Henri Cartier-Bresson impersonations.  What’s funny is I actually did a series of only trees one time AND… had it exhibited.

It’s been a long time since I’ve taken photographs like that.

But now and again, something will catch my “eye” (which surprises me that my photographer’s eye still works) that makes me think, “this says something” and I wish I had my old Mamiya loaded with some velvety Ilford Delta400.

The above image is one that did just that and all i had was my cell phone, It was taken in an instant, filters applied the way I would have liked to have seen a final print after hours in the darkroom.  It says something… at least to me. The roots are exposed. The tender part of a tree that should be covered which help it grow and mature are all out in the open.

[sigh]

I’ve been going through the some personal stuff that is really stressful. Really stressful… taxing on my soul and is one of those times when I hope with all the faith that I have that God is listening and will send angels to calm my spirit. I pray that Providence will cover my tender parts.

I have entered another dark period, one that makes me want sit with my back in a corner with my knees to my chest bracing for impact. I can’t get everything covered and I feel quite exposed.

reconnecting to music through a pub and my UU church


This was a post I had originally drafted in June of 2008 but didn’t quite finish. Crazy, huh… about a year after starting my wordpress blog. After my last post where I talked a little bit about my youthful aspirations of wanting to be a musician when I grew up I thought this was appropriate to pull it from the drafts and finish up.
***************************************************************
When I was a kid I was in the band… junior high and high school. I already had some musical genes gifted to me from my parents and others but being in the band cemented the fact that I like music. And as a lot of kids did, who grew up in the 70s and 80s, I listened to bands that would become pretty influential rock bands… KISS, Rush, Yes, Zeppelin, The Who and others despite my mother’s attempt to add country music in to the mix. On our daily ride to school she made me listen to Ronnie Milsap, Charlie Pride, Tammy Wynette, Buck Owens, George Jones and Merle Haggard. Mama tried. : )

I rebelled against country music in high school and my love for it didn’t stick until much later in college. I went to a small school in east Texas so country music started slowly but in time became a staple. However, I was also exposed to a new wave of music and embraced bands like Yaz, The Pixies, The Smiths, R.E.M. and Depeche Mode.

When I think about it, I really liked all kinds of music and knew different types quite well… everything from rock to country, Motown, jazz, classical. Hell even disco. (please don’t hate me for that) But I had never really heard or paid much attention to the lowly singer/songwriter.

So fast forward about 17 years… it was about 2002 when I heard my first “guy and his guitar”. By chance I stumbled upon a little pub on my way back from dropping off my daughter after having her for the weekend. The sign on the front said BREW PUB.  With my affection towards good beer, I thought I’d see what they had on tap. Coincidentally it just so happened to be Open Mic Night. Most people might think this would be the worst way possible to be exposed to singer/songwriters. Turns out what I thought would only be a half-hour-long detour wound up keeping me there for more like five hours.

My visits to the Brew Pub started off a little intermittent but after several months I eventually was going every other weekend as I came back from dropping off my daughter on the other end of town. What I loved about the open mic at this pub is almost all the performers were doing original music… or at least their own take on a published song.

Of course not everyone was good. In fact most were quite bad but many, if not all of the patrons on a Sunday night are musicians/open mic-ers and are very encouraging as well as very forgiving. And the host ALWAYS makes each open-micer feel like he or she is THE headlining act of the night. It’s pretty damn cool to be honest.

So after a couple of years of sitting as a spectator I bought my first guitar thinking i might try to teach myself how to play and start making music again. (sixteen years earlier I had left the music department in college thinking I was completely done with music).  So I would sit at the very front of the little stage and tried desperately to remember the shapes their hands and fingers made as they played their guitars and I would race home and attempt them on mine at home. Evidently I was trying to learn guitar a la the Phoebe Buffay school of guitar learning. : )

That isn’t exactly the best way of learning. Plus I would put the guitar down for weeks at a time and it took about a year before I really decided to give it an honest go of trying to learn. I’m proud to report I have since gotten better, which isn’t saying much because I was REALLY crappy when I first started. And wouldn’t you know it… I got my nerve up and did my first open mic about a year and half after really buckling down and consistently practicing and trying. I remember the date: Jan 23, 2005. I know because it was my birthday.

And about two years after that, some friends and I formed a band. We even play at the ol’ UU church now and again. That’s how we all met was through our UU church.
So thankful for that little pub, my friends from church and oh how I love making music again.

I have a ten year old little girl in my house


Faith has lived across the street from us for not quite a year. She, her mom and her two tween sisters moved in just after the school year started. I think that’s when it was. Maybe it was just before the school year. I can’t remember. Apparently, her mom went through a divorce and I assume couldn’t afford to keep her previous home and so began renting one of the little wood frame, shotgun type houses that sit on my street.

We haven’t really met Faith’s mom although I’ve seen her on a handful of occasions getting groceries out of the car or heading off for work. Turns out those times I’ve seen her were rather miraculous because the woman works about 18 to 20 hours a day! YES… 18 to 20 hours per day. This happens about five days a week. On the other two days she may work one of those days for eight hours.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the policies and culture of a country that claims to be the best in the world, yet there are still people who have to work that many hours of a day to provide the barest of essentials for their family.

And that is the reason I have a ten-year old little girl in my house.

Faith knows The Deistette from the bus stop. Continue reading

it’s on the verge of flat lining


Last week The Deistette and I were winding down from the day and she came to my blog and said, “I think it’s dead.”
I’m starting to concede that idea.

I mean I’ve only put up two posts in five months not including this one.

I think part of the trouble I have is a lack of time but also this blog is more of a personal blog, vice being about a cause or product. I think the title insinuates religion and/or politics but I don’t really have the desire to enter the UU blogging community again… it’s become too… I don’t know. Too… silly. There is a contingency who have taken the Red Pill and I have other things I need to tend to right now rather than argue an unarguable debate.  And politics is more of a hobby which is basically me yelling at the AM radio hate-mongers of right-wing talk shows.

                                                    (part of why I have little time. I’m taking baby steps replacing all the siding on my house.)

And although this is pretty much a personal blog, I don’t really like the idea of posting stuff about my daughter, stepsons or wife. I have now and again posted about them and offered a picture here and there but it’s been few and far between. So not wanting to post things about the people who are most involved with my personal life, kinda turns the ol’ blog a little stagnant.

                                        a pic of the wife waaayyyy off in the distance watering some of our veggies in the elevated bed I built.

Not sure what I’m afraid of in that regard. I mean, I’m not a celebrity. I don’t have any stalkers. Hell, I barely have any active readers of this blog any longer. Amazing what happens when you stop writing how far the stat numbers go done huh.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

(I guess I could have kept my numbers up by writing about the super cool garden we have going on.)

Near the end of June, I’ll be at the five-year mark of this blog. To be honest, it feels like I’ve been at this so much longer. It feels like a lifetime since I first started writing down my thoughts and “met” some of my favorite people in the blogosphere. They’re not around much anymore and I miss them.

I bring up the time frame because five years is kind of a marker of sorts I guess and I’ve been thinking of starting over and letting go of this one. I don’t know.  If I do (which I’m really leaning to) I’ll be pulling away from WP.com and doing the self-hosted thing. I’m still looking into it. The thing is, blogging here on WP doesn’t feel the same as it did four or five years ago but it has been so important to me that I don’t want to just abandon it.

I guess we’ll see.
For now, know I’m still alive and kicking despite having posted anything in a while.

the power of prayer and my magic ring


The past few weekends The Deistette and I have been working for my sister in-law at a wedding facility she manages.  She was short handed at the last minute one weekend so we agreed to help her out. Well, that one weekend has turned into four. I shouldn’t complain. I mean the extra money has been nice but because it’s about an hour away from us so it makes for a pretty long day.

It’s a neat venue for having a wedding.  They do the ceremony in a small garden-like area that can accommodate about 150 people. The couple does their thing in a gazebo to exchange vows and afterward everyone heads into the reception hall about 30 feet away.

A couple of hours into the reception, someone will start putting away the chairs and decorations from the ceremony. Last weekend that someone was me. Ugh. There I stood looking at a hundred wooden folding chairs thinking, “holy crap it’s humid out here.”  It took me about 40 minutes and two trips to load them onto a flatbed cart, wheel them to the storage area and unload them. Afterward I went back into the reception hall and started picking up plates, restocking items in the kitchen, breaking down the bar, then other clean up. It was pretty much non-stop until we left.

Ugh… when we left.  That’s when I realized that I’d lost my ring… my wedding ring. God I was sick. I took it off when I started putting away the chairs because I didn’t want it to get smashed or cut into my fingers ’cause I was sure my hands would start swelling as I was putting them away.

After telling The Deistette about my lost ring, I called my sister in-law while we drove home. My sister in-law had already left the venue but said she would take a look the next day.

Well, she didn’t go in like she thought she would on Sunday and wouldn’t be there until Monday afternoon. I was sure I had put it in the pocket of the vest I was wearing so it would have to be in the washing machine — unless it fell out while I had been putting the chairs away.  Holy crap. 😦

She didn’t call until about 5:00 Monday evening.  She said she was sorry but she couldn’t find it and she had looked everywhere she thought it might be.

The next day I checked my pants again and again. I checked the floorboard of the car, under the mats, under the seats. I checked around the driveway where we park. Nothing, nothing, nothing and nothing.

I don’t think I’ve ever really delved into the details of my spiritual beliefs other than what I have in the title of this blog and the two tabs about the beliefs of a deist and UU. Not to get into a long treatise about it but I will say part of my spiritual practice includes prayer  — and not like praying to win the lottery or praying for the healing of a loved one. Just prayers of thanks is mostly what I have in my bag of prayers.

But that night, as Emmie fell asleep and I lay there in the dark…    against everything I believe about prayer, I prayed my ass off  that my ring would somehow make its way back to me. I prayed that I would relive in my dreams the events of when I put it away.  I begged my memory not to fail me any longer and give me even the slightest hint where it might be. I rolled over and touched Emmie’s hand where she wears her ring and fell asleep.

The next day when I got back home from work, Emmie told me she found my guitar capo. It had been banging around in the dryer while she was doing our laundry. The night before I had been looking all over for it before heading off to band rehearsal but couldn’t find it. Then she said, “look what else I found.” And put my wedding ring in my hand.

I was stunned. All I could do was hug her. And believe it or not, I cried. I was so happy to have it again. And in a really sweet, whispering, sort of lilting way she said, “you have your magic ring back.”

She said it must have been in my shirt. I don’t know. I swear I checked every pocket I had twice. Who knows, maybe it was in my shirt pocket or maybe it fell into the cuff of my pants leg.

my magic ring

The Deist's wedding ring with inscription that reads "my friend who is next to me"

I’ve called it my magic ring for a while saying it keeps me and The Deistette connected. I usually say it within ear shot of my stepson but being 7 years old he’s getting to an age where he doesn’t really believe in magic anymore.  The tooth fairy, Easter bunny and Santa Claus have kinda had their day for him.

I don’t know.

What I do know is one day I didn’t have my magic ring and now I do. Maybe there is something to that prayer thing after all — or maybe my ring is magic and keeps me and my wife connected after all.

A bit of dead air


This is the longest break in posting I think I’ve ever had in the four years I’ve maintained this blog.

It’s been a hair more than two months since my last post and it isn’t for a lack of anything to say.

I’ve had some things I could have written about: my continued work and fixes on my house which I’m learning to do as I go along… learned mostly because of the awesome people on YouTube who post how-to vids, the feeling of loss after having sold my little 16-acre piece of land that I paid on for nearly 10 years, what it was like having my ex-wife’s 16 year old daughter come to the house unexpectedly (seeing my stepdaughter was wonderful by the way), the hard transition to only one car in a city that is designed in such a way that citizens really need a car. Or like how last week, my continued Wednesday date night with my daughter has now crossed a threshold and I have only 51 of these left until she turns 18 and is no longer obligated to spend them with me.

Those are some of the biggies.

There were a bunch of little things that I could have written or shown you pictures of that involve just random, mundane, every day things.

But I haven’t.
I’ve been tired.

Seems like everyone needs a piece of me and it’s sapping my energy to near zero by the end of the day. My physical, mental, spiritual energy seems to be running on fumes and it sucks.

The other thing though is I havent’ really been inspired to write about what’s been happening with me.  I wonder if blogging, not just for me, but for the blogosphere as a whole is waning.   Maybe it’s simply taking on a new shape.  Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and a few other sites have different way of blogging and I imagine have pulled some away from Blogger, WP and Typepad.

I don’t know.

I’m here though. Not dead.  Still alive and kicking.

Milestone marked at Chez Deist


Since The Deistette’s Little Man (her son for first time readers) moved in shortly after she did a couple of years ago I have felt an enormous amount of pressure in the role of Best Second Daddy Ever, a term he coined knowing that he has a Dad already (who unfortunately for himself lives in Amarillo about 11 hours away and can’t be here for moments like this) and The Little Man not really understanding what the term step-dad means. I’m not sure the title carries much weight since I’m the only second daddy he’s ever had.

Meh… I’ll take what I can get.

My very first act as best second daddy was a very short time after he arrived when I caught him from falling down the stairs from the very top. When he came to live with me he was about four and a half years old. For all intents and purposes… really just a baby still. I mean shit he was still wearing pull up, had to be helped to go to the bathroom, and all kinds of stuff that goes with being a very small, young person.

Since the day he came here he’s hit some pretty big milestones already: graduating to big boy skivvies, reaching beyond a chicken nugget in his diet Continue reading