I knew I wanted to write a Father’s Day post earlier this week. I wasn’t certain what I wanted to say, so I just let the idea roll around in my head. Thursday night I was home alone, in the eery quiet that exists when the missus and our children are absent and it was becoming clearer what I wanted to write.
As so many other parents can attest, I really had no clue what being a father would entail once that second line appeared. I just put my Playstation controller down and held my wife. We were 4 years and 10 months early for our five-year plan. In other words: freaked out.
That was over ten years ago.
In the time since Madison was born (and Isabelle, four years later), I’ve learned a lot about “fathering.” From the get-go I wanted to be a hands-on parent. Diaper changes, swaddling, food, reading – the whole kit and proverbial caboodle. It’s easy to see parenting as a list of tasks. Especially in the early years.
Growing up, I saw my dad working a lot (sometimes not seeing him for days because he was gone before I woke up and home after I went to bed. So for a big part of my life I thought that was the primary need that fathers fulfilled was to work and bring in an income. While that is an important role, I know that my job is more than that. From hindsight I can see that my parents (both of whom worked) weren’t just supplying an income and material needs. There was a lot of teaching and nurturing, too. And of course, love.
Parenting is far more complex than a to-do list. What I realize now, looking back on a decade’s experience, is that every moment is going to be unique. A father has to be like Bill Murray a the end of “Groundhog Day:” versatile. It’s easy to switch from teacher, friend, Bad Cop, personal chef, Good Cop and cheerleader in an evening. That’s just with one kid – things can get hairy if both kids’ behavior is totally different.
But that’s been covered by an industry of parenting guides & blogs.
What being a father means to me is defining “normal.” I don’t mean “normal” in the sense of average or the same as everyone else, because I certainly don’t know what that means. What I’m trying to express is that “normal” is what my daughters see in me now and what they will expect from their partner when they reach adulthood. So I try conduct my self as a husband and father in a way that will give them the highest of expectations of what they can achieve and with whom they should be in a relationship with.
Of course, I’ve laid the groundwork for a truckload of quirk, like referring to inanimate objects by their name (i.e. “Dad, can I borrow Little Justice?”). And I hope that they will grow up to proudly fly their respective freak flags and watch all the DVD commentary they want.
I expect that they will not let someone else tell them what they can or cannot do. I expect my daughters to seek out a partner that is going to treat them as an equal (even though, let’s face it, they will be the smarter one). And I expect that they will have a fervent distaste of modern country music. Because frankly, it sucks.
Tags: Father's Day
Summer vacation is back, so the family and I are going to spend a lot more time at the Indianapolis Public Library. It seems as good a time as any to bring back the Bombardment Society Children’s Book Review.
This summer, with just 8 weeks of vacation* we’ve set a four book per week goal list for each girl. Complete with a thermometer poster to mark their progress. It may seem steep, but between us reading to Isabelle and Madison’s voracious reading habits, I expect them both to exceed the 32 book goal with time to spare.
I haven’t written a blog post about children’s books in a long time. However, I’ve kept a list going of favorites that we’ve read. So to kick off the summer I’m going to start with books we’ve loved and then I’ll get to a more in-depth “review” in future posts.
What we’ve been reading to Izzy:
- Peter H. Reynolds: The Dot, Ish, Skycolor
- The Lorax Dr. Seuss
- Don’t Squish the Sasquatch Kent Redeker, Bob Staake
- Happy Harry’s Cafe Michael Rosen, Richard Holland
- Dragons Love Tacos Adam Rubin, Daniel Salmieri
- This is Not My Hat Jon Klassen
- Uncle Wally’s Old Brown Shoe Wallace Edwards
- When You Were Small Sara O’Leary, Julie Morstad**
- When I Was Small Sara O’Leary, Julie Morstad
- Singing Away the Dark Caroline Woodward, Julie Morstad
Madison has enjoyed a lot of books on her own. Recently, she’s began reading more graphic novels and manga. This is only a partial list, as she reads so quickly it’s hard to keep up. Here are some of the titles that she enjoyed (in no certain order):
- Rapunzel’s Revenge Dean Hale, Shannon Hale, Nathan Hale
- Calamity Jack Dean Hale, Shannon Hale, Nathan Hale
- Pokemon series
- The Mapmaker & the Ghost Sarvenaz Tash
- Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat Lynne Jonell, Jonathan Bean
*Neither myself or my lovely bride are complaining.
**It seems that many of the views on this post are related to searches of Sara O’Leary. I requested her books specifically for Julie Morstad’s illustrations. The stories are excellent and both girls loved them. I highly recommend these books for the writing and the images.
Tags: Bob Staake Happy Harry's Cafe Michael Rosen, Calamity Jack, Children's Books, Daniel Salmieri This is Not My Hat Jon Klassen Uncle Wally's Old Brown Shoe Wallace Edwards When You Were Small Sara O'Leary, Indianapolis, Isabelle, Ish, Jonathan Bean, Julie Morstad, Julie Morstad Singing Away the Dark Caroline Woodward, Julie Morstad When I Was Small Sara O'Leary, Library, Madison, Melissa, Peter H. Reynolds: The Dot, Pokemon, Rapunzel's Revenge, Rapunzel's Revenge Calamity Jack Pokemon series The Mapmaker & the Ghost Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat Lynne Jonell, Richard Holland Dragons Love Tacos Adam Rubin, Skycolor The Lorax Dr. Seuss Don't Squish the Sasquatch Kent Redeker, The Mapmaker & the Ghost
Gardening seems to be a pretty huge deal in Indiana. Several years ago I started planting herbs, and later, a small Victory Garden on the side of the house. Last year, due to some brutal heat, I opted out of gardening. It’s no surprise that I was anxious to have a summer of fresh veggies in 2013.
Last Monday, Melissa and I began tackling the garden beds. They were in rough shape. Some boards were a little warped, plus weeds and ants had taken over. We considered rebuilding them altogether, but we really didn’t want to delay planting any longer. We hand plucked and raked weeds. The afflicted portion with ants was given multiple soakings until they moseyed on out of there. I hammered the warped boards back into submission with these extra long, spiral nails.
We added two bags of manure and six bags of soil to the beds. There was a surprising amount of soil left from the last garden. That actually surprised us both given the time since anything grew there by our intention. This was fun and after getting it raked through and even, I stood there and admired the soil. It looked nice.
But alas, I wasn’t gardening for the looks. Nope, we had plants to grow for making dishes like this and this and even this. So we dug in with our spades and added several tomato plants. Two Romas, a golden-yellow heirloom, Jet Star (a favorite of Melissa’s grandmother / regional gardening super star) and two different kinds of cherry. Summer is tomato season.
Through the few years I’ve done this, I’ve had success with cucumbers, squash and zucchini. So those are returning this year too. We sowed two seeds each. Since the plants get huge, we may move a few so the remaining will thrive. We’ll see.
I’m also taking a shot at hot peppers. Last year we finally went through the frozen Cayennes from my father-in-law’s garden. I wanted some again, so I decided to try them. I meant to grab two plants, but ended up with a Tabasco (because someone didn’t put one back in the right spot at Home Depot).
I’ve read a little bit about companion gardening and it’s helped in the past. We sprinkled packets of basil seeds and put 16 marigold plants in the ground. Basil for the flavor and marigolds for the bees. I also added a lavender plant. I didn’t really want to, but I found cat feces one morning, so it was a recent addition. Apparently cats aren’t fans of lavender, but it won’t hurt them. Seems to be working (of course the several broken stakes I put in the ground could be helping too).
So the place looks drastically different now. A significant improvement over the eyesore that it had become. Now, we just have to keep it weeded and watered until it’s time for some harvesting.
So, with the Billy bookcases trimmed out with pine it really looked like one big piece. Of course we couldn’t abide the two-tone look, so phase 2 needed to be completed post-haste. Let’s not forget the stacks and stacks of books covering our living room carpet.
Phase 2 began with Melissa and me filling in holes with wood putty and hitting the corner pieces with caulk. It was a giggle fest as you can imagine these two maladjusted misfits saying “caulk” over and over. Maybe we were just slap happy. As I said, I’m not the expert carpenter I imagine, so there was a decent amount of caulk going in around the mitered edges.
I took one of the Ikea shelves to Home Depot and had a quart of Behr (with primer) matched to the its color. The next day, Melissa began sanding the pine and hitting it with paint. It took a few coats (and a few more patches with wood putty). This process took about two days (spread out over four). The finishing touch came from a blog post on Young House Love. With white painters caulk (giggle) Melissa filled in the empty shelf holes in the Billy book-case* to make them less noticeable.
With phases 1 & 2 completed the Billy’s looked like an entirely different shelving unit. We were proud of ourselves. From there it was time to begin filling in the bottom half with books. Memorial Day evening Melissa and I began this process. I’m pretty picky (as is Melissa) about how books are organized. She sorted them by subject and I placed them on the shelves. This took three hours. Three glorious hours.
For a very long time, I’ve been a huge fan of cover songs. Probably stemming from being in a Rush “tribute” band and wanting to add hip-hop beats (which didn’t exactly work). For whatever reason, it’s become a bit of an obsession for yours truly. Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of Nada Surf’s “If I Had a Hi-Fi” album, which is exclusively cover songs. My kind of album.
Anyway, I’m always on the hunt for great cover songs. Know any outstanding covers? Let me know!
Here is a list of fifteen cover songs that I find exceptional. They are in no certain order (with some classic Bombardment Society commentary).
- “Dreaming” Susannah Hoffs & Matthew Sweet (BLONDIE) I love Blondie, and the original is one of my favorite songs already. There’s something about Hoff’s raspy voice that mixes so well with the lyrics of this song.
- “Handle With Care” Jenny Lewis (with Conor Oberst, Ben Gibbard & The Watson Twins) (TRAVELING WILBURYS) I already knew about Rilo Kiley, but it was this song (which Melissa found) that made me really take notice of Jenny Lewis’ amazing voice.
- “The Lovecats” Luke Doucet & His White Falcon (THE CURE) This cover rivals the original pretty closely. Doucet once noted that he and his band “had no business” playing this song. I strongly disagree.
- “Circle” J. Mascis (EDIE BRICKELL & NEW BOHEMIANS) J. Mascis was a common name flipping through Hermano’s GuitarWorld magazines during the 90′s. I never dug into Dinosaur Jr’s music, but this song is making me want to check some of their CD’s out from the library.
- “Time After Time” / “The Scientist” Willie Nelson (CYNDI LAUPER / COLDPLAY) This isn’t a sanctioned “best of” list, so allow me the freedom to have a “tie.” “Time After Time” is already a powerful song, but Willie and his band bring a dynamic dimension that is simply outstanding. His version of “The Scientist” was first heard before a movie in Chicago. Again, Willie Nelson adds a depth to the lyrics and melody that just kills this song.
- “What a Fool Believes” Self (DOOBIE BROTHERS) Self recorded this song on toy instruments. I can’t emphasis that enough. Toys people. This cover has a really cool, poppy vibe – makes me smile every time.
- “Let My Love Open the Door” Sondre Lerche (PETE TOWNSEND) I don’t like the original. Like, at all. Probably from hearing it a gajillion times waiting tables at Chili’s. This version redeems it for me.
- “Enjoy the Silence” Nada Surf (DEPECHE MODE) This one was kind of sneaky. The first time I listened to this song I recognized the melody but didn’t know it was a cover (hadn’t looked at the song titles or liner notes yet). There was a “is that?” moment but it was only when the chorus kicked in that I was certain. They took a great Depeche Mode song and made it a just-as-cool Nada Surf song. This actually makes me jones for a drum kit again.
- “Panic” Spoon (THE SMITHS) Spoon at the Vogue in Indianapolis was one of my favorite concerts ever. They ended their encore with this song. It was fitting because The Vogue was figuratively pushing them off the stage to bring in a DJ for one of their dance nights.
- “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” Peter Gabriel (VAMPIRE WEEKEND) His name was already in the song. It’s almost like Vampire Weekend dared him to do it. He did, in classic Peter Gabriel fashion.
- “Iron Man” Cardigans (BLACK SABBATH) If I were putting this in order this would be number 1. Why? Because of the reaction it gets from die-hard Sabbath fans. Like rubbing sand on a kids ice cream cone. It’s fantastic. That being said, it’s a great re-interpretation of the original. And Nina’s voice. Case closed.
- “Wonderwall” Ryan Adams (OASIS) This song was huge when I was in high school. Apparently it still is. Ryan Adams made it dark. Very dark. It kind of hurts to listen to.
- “The Man Who Sold the World” Nirvana (DAVID BOWIE) Given the choice between Bowie’s original and the cover, I think Nirvana wins. Maybe because of the tragedy of his death. Maybe because it’s just awesome.
- “I Fought the Law” The Clash (SONNY CURTIS / THE CRICKETS) That’s a cover? Yup. I’d say it’s one of those instances where the cover is more famous than the original (even if you substitute Bobby Fuller’s version for The Clash). But let’s be honest, Joe Strummer was born to sing this song. If I had a time machine I would have made certain that this was the first version released.
- “Rusty Cage” Johnny Cash (SOUNDGARDEN) Another great head-scratcher on first listen because it is so incredibly opposite of Chris Cornell’s massive pipes and Soundgarden’s driving pulse. It’s all Cash (with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – thank you Rick Rubin).
Want to hear some of these great tracks? Here’s a playlist with most of these songs.
Tags: Ben Gibbard, Black Sabbath, Blondie, Bobby Fuller, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, Circle, Coldplay, Conor Oberst, Cyndi Lauper, Depeche Mode, Doobie Brothers, Dreaming, Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, Enjoy the Silence, GuitarWorld, Handle with Care, I Fought the Law, If I Had a Hi-fi, Iron Man, J. Mascis, Jenny Lewis, Joe Strummer, Johnny Cash, Let My Love Open the Door, Luke Doucet, Matthew Sweet, Nada Surf, Oasis, Panic, Pete Townsend, Peter Gabriel, Rdio, Rick Rubin, Rusty Cage, Ryan Adams, Self, Sondre Lerche, Sonny Curtis, Soundgarden, Spoon, Susannah Hoffs, The Cardigans, The Clash, The Cure, The Lovecats, The Man Who Sold the World, The Scientist, The Smiths, the Vogue, The Watson Twins, Time After Time, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Travelling Wilburys, Vampire Weekend, What A Fool Believes, Willie Nelson, Wonderwall
I’ve been bad about running my other blog for Squid Head Independent Design & Photography. While I’m still debating on consolidating and just having Bombardment Society, I’ve decided to post some pics from last weekend’s photo shoot with local pop-punk all stars Crash21.
It was a shot and easily my favorite location: Indy Swag’s warehouse in Indianapolis. I processed my favorite 60 or so and this is a handful of those shots.
Last year, Melissa and I picked up a few Billy bookcases from Ikea for our living room. It was time to retire the Lack shelves and consolidate our “library” to a more central location. We have three of them and for the past year it’s worked well and looks great The books aren’t normally stacked like in this picture.
Melissa showed me a Little Green Notebook blog post where the Billy’s were trimmed out and made to look like built-ins. We love built-ins. Unfortunately, the space that we have doesn’t exactly lend itself to creating them (our living room window would be ever-so-slightly blocked by a bookcase if we tried). Even still, there was a lot of ideas we could apply to our Billies.
After some morning yard work, Melissa and I headed out to buy some pine from Home Depot. We opted for a 1×6″ plank to wrap around the bottom, a 1×4″ for the top and 1×2″ pieces for the vertical edges. We also picked up a T50 staple and brad nail gun, too.
To start, we cut two 2×4′s (which I already had in the garage) to length and used them to lift the book cases up. Given that our ceiling is only eight feet, we decided to lay the planks broad side down. It’s amazing how much just that 1.5″ added in perspective. They already looked significantly larger. Once those were in place I anchored the bookcases to the wall again.
Now, everyone knows the adage “measure twice, cut once.” Even me. However, it’s also important to remember what kind of cut you are doing. I didn’t and therefore my measurements and cut were off on the bottom trim piece. Yikes. So the project sat still until Thursday night when I came home with a replacement piece of wood. Armed with a wounded pride I made certain not to repeat that mistake as I made all the mitered cuts for the top and bottom.
I began adding the trim pieces Friday night. I began from the top down to ensure that the unit looked level. I mounted the top pieces with “L” brackets to the Billies and brad nails at the corners to join the mitered edges. Which is about the time I realized that I’m not the expert carpenter I imagine myself to be. But that’s okay because I bought caulk (more on that later).
Next was the base trim. This had the added complication of the existing wall trim. Not to fear, I have a jigsaw for that. On Monday, after making the previously discussed mistake, I practiced cutting out for the trim on some scrap wood. This helped tremendously when I went to cut the finished pieces for the sides. I screwed the bottom front piece directly into the 2×4′s plus some brad nails. The side pieces I used just brad nails.
Finally, I cut the vertical pieces. I’m glad that I took measurements at each vertical edge, because there is a slight variation in the length from one side to the next. But with my trusty level and Field Notes pencil, I was able to mount them with each piece perfectly upright and not diagonal.
Phase 2 is now underway. This involves caulking and painting which I hope will be done sooner, rather than later. For now I’m going to keep staring at my handiwork.