Saturday, March 24, 2012

Birthday Girl

I can't believe it's been seven years.

Happy birthday sweet Wrennel. 

Here's the birthday song your California friends (who held that tiny bundle up there before almost anyone else) wrote for you on your fifth birthday.

I love you very much, munchkin.  Every nice thing that song says is still true, and you're just getting better and better.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lessons from my Dad - Part 3

When you make a fist, put you thumb on the outside. Hit them hard enough that they know you mean it.

The front part of the big dipper points straight to the North Star.

You'll remember a criticism a lot longer than a compliment. Be careful with your words.

Only eat the ones with curled tails. A straight tail means the crawfish wasn't alive when it went in the pot.

It's one of the worst things that can happen to a person -- falling in love with a crazy person.

Your siblings are the only ones who will know where you really came from. You won't always be fighting and one day you'll need each other.

Never get on a motorcycle. Never.

Invest in a quality turkey roasting pan- the cheap ones will bend and dump a gallon of boiling grease into your boots. You'll spend Thanksgiving being thankful for vicodin.

Here -- you should read this book. It meant a lot to me.

If you get hungry enough, you'll eat anything.

Stand up for your little sister when someone picks on her.

If they're saying it about someone else to you, they're saying it about you to someone else.

The person who gets the bite with shot in it has to help Granner wash dishes.

Point the big part of the oyster down, point the hinge toward you, slide your knife in to pop the hinge, then around the inside, then tilt it up and eat the whole thing in one bite. Unless there's a pearl.

If you get up before five every morning you can make the coffee exactly how you like it.

Never put any part of your body between the dock and boat. You're not stronger than the ocean.

A flat muddy spot on a sunny bank means there's probably an alligator around somewhere.

Always keep your wake low around canoes. It's common courtesy.

Gentlemen don't wear hats indoors.

Pardon my French.

Life skills from my Dad, Part 2.

Never smoke with fireworks in your pocket.

It's very hard to tip a sailboat but it can in fact be done. Especially with a seasick daughter aboard.

Dig a small hole, put a can in the bottom, spread a plastic bag on top- held down by rocks, with a pebble weighting it over the hole. Water in the wilderness.

Make friends with people who make music.

Devote several hours every weekend to playing catch with your daughter, even though it's obvious to both of you that we're not exactly dealing with a softball prodigy here.

Aft, Bow, Port, Starboard, and most importantly, Tacking.

Be a good friend- that way when you need to pour a slab, you'll have 15 volunteers with cement mixers.

Take the stack of palm fronds and pick two - weave one up and over, then under the other. Make a basket, or a shelter, or a silly hat.

After you till, wait a week and let the weeds come up - pull them out by the roots.

You can get an extra year out of a broken starter by hitting your starter solenoid with a metal pole when it won't start. This will make your daughter an object of bemused interest in her high school parking lot.

Don't care about what the kids in your high school parking lot think of you.

Be a peacemaker.    

Don't get drunk and try to lift a truck. You'll lift it- but you'll tear your achilles tendon.

You can know a whole lot, and be helpful to a whole lot of people, without being a know it all.

There's a sandwich in every can.

Grab the dog by the jaw and squeeze their lips over their teeth until they drop the tennis ball.

Give a dog a boar's hair brush to carry around to teach a soft grip for duck hunting.

River bottoms shift over time - watch out for drop offs and currents.

Put a cheeto between your toes and you'll get a minnow pedicure.

Wash your coveralls in a separate load.

You never know what you'll find in a seine.  But jellyfish are a good bet, if you're in the gulf.

Keep an extra paddle around for digging earthworks in sandbars, trenches around tents, spraying sleeping canoe passengers with water, and of course, stirring a giant pot of gumbo.

You might be the smartest guy in the room but it's better to be the kindest.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Life skills, from my dad.

When you're in a left turn lane, don't turn your wheel until you start moving. That way, if you're rear ended, you'll go forward, instead of into oncoming traffic.

Spread a sheet over your canoe, then shake the mayhaw tree. The berries will be easy to gather.

Control your temper.

Put the kindling on the bottom, then stack larger logs and sticks like a tent, to let in the oxygen and get the fire going.

Pinch the sides of the jaw, and slide the hook out gently, sort of wiggling it. That way, if the fish is underweight, he'll be fine when you throw him back.

Say thank you. A lot. To everyone. Be sincere in your gratitude.

Measure twice, cut once. Unless you're in a hurry. Then just make sure your thumb's not in the way.

Gulf wax works great for canning if you don't want to bother with sterilizing lids.

Never give two dogs a bone.

You can use timber from the land to pay back taxes on the land. You don't want to be the guy who sold the land.

Wait under water until they unsuspectingly swim over you - the push off from the bottom will give you enough momentum to toss an average child about 5,000 feet into the air.

Never get between angry dogs. Get a hose. If that doesn't work, get a gun.

If you're walking, and you see trash on the ground, pick it up. Always keep a trash bag when you're camping, so you can take out any trash you find.

Press your thumb into warm beeswax, repeat about 50 times, pressing the bottoms together, until you've got a little rose. Give it to someone you love.

Hang little red christmas ornaments on your tomato cages- it will confuse the birds and they won't eat your actual tomatoes.

Did you go to the circus? I heard the heat was intense.

Stand with your legs slightly spread, don't lock your knees, sight, and be ready for the kickback. Geez not that much kickback. It's a .22.

It's okay to cry. Especially when you're singing.

Red and yellow, kill a fellow.

If you take crabs out of someone else's trap, re-bait it before you leave. Same with anyone's trout lines.

Snakes actually CAN bite while they're swimming.

Respect your parents.

Always be ready to pull another chair up to the table. Never be slow to show generosity.

This is about .5% of the total, but I'll keep working on it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

84th Kite Festival

A good thing about an annual tradition is that it lets you keep track of other things as well. 

For instance, Jane has been miserable and sick during the Kite Festival for as long as she's been vocal. She's had to be carried on someone's back from Rock Island all the way up the hill to Bluebonnet Trail. 

It's perfectly clear that the festival coincides with the beginning of oak pollen season, the moment at which the already pretty crappy immunity of my family is at an all time low. But I'm sure the day is coming when the kids will kick and scream and not want to go anymore. When it won't be so miraculous to get the kite in the air and keep it there, only bashing random onlookers in the head a couple of times. 

When it won't be so hilarious to see a billion dogs getting their leashes tangled up in a billion kite strings. Who am I kidding- that's always going to be hilarious. 

But we did it! Kite in the air! Port-a-potty challenge accepted. Stroller with a flat tire defeated! Parking on top of giant hill completed! 

Squeezing a grumpy dehydrated family into a tiny station wagon (with no AC and windows that are stuck closed)?

Done. Totally worth it. We'll be back next year.