Monday, December 27, 2010

Questionable Bios

Bios, as in the tiny biographies that magazines give contributors or blogs give their bloggers when you click 'About ...'
  • When not completing his collection of WWII hand grenade pins, Steve can be found volunteering his time with 'Explode This!', an interactive, hands on pyrotechnics demonstration for kids 1-4.
  • Fran takes her obsession with size-exclusion chromatography to pretty daring extremes, but not so much as to interfere with her career, a receptionist at Duluth's 16th highest grossing Century 21 office.
  • Travis enjoys his school marching band, being co-sub-captain of the Junior co-ed cheer squad, and taking all comers in his travelling full-contact "Octagon of Terror" (touring most of Norther Florida's retirement communities),
  • Marilyn's other hobby is sharpening steak knives, often not her own, and usually without anyone knowing.
  • Stamford says his most prized isolated pure virus is a variant of E. Bola he has secured with  patent-pending isolation  methodologies. He also breeds ficuses.
  • Besides being North America's foremost amateur expert in corn-husk and maize-silk based rope knotting, Kathleen is also Kansas's main importer of betel-nut and betel-nut accessories.
  • "Trendsetters!" 1987 annual issue named Jain the "One To Watch In Stand Alone Vending Machine Supply and Service", he hasn't looked back since.
  • Roger is the senior editor and owner of "Sticklers for Stickers", North America's premier magazine for sticker misprint enthusiasts since 1998.
  • Fazz also teaches jazzerskating at her local home studio. Still accepting students for the 2011 term.
  • You can buy Dr. Bioplanack's self-published book, "Taxonomy Ain't Just For Animals!' at Amazon.
  • Janet also is an avid horse jumper, horse groomer, horsefeed custom mixologist, horse tack adjuster, and horse shoer. She loves to keep her work varied and cites Leonardo as a kindred spirit.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Family Letter 2010

Another year has passed and that means another torrid and spicy family drama wrapped in the infamous Owl Family Christmas Letter. Maybe not torrid, and perhaps not entirely spicy, but certainly without the more earthy odours familiar to any parent who's kid has switched to solid food.

Owl Jr. is now almost two. TWO! His soberness and infinite sadness continue unabated. I do so hope he doesn't reserve that look just for me (however well-founded it may be). He's starting to speak. Not in any way or form that might be recognizable as such, and not in any way that might be measured in relation to others of his age, unless others of his age call everything 'Ma-Ma', 'Da-Da', or “CHOO CHOO”; especially “Choo Choo”. He's very much into locomotives and rail centered conveyances. I suspect it's because we're not allowed to expose them to more interesting and edifying things, like ninjas, robots, ninja robots, and perhaps vikings. He's a happy camper, more or less, going from Eeyore to Tigger in about the space it takes you to go for his armpits. He looks somewhat like I did when I was his age: morose, serious, and entirely Japanese.

He's not a picky eater. He'll eat anything that has fallen from the tree or bush (veggies or fruits), or, paradoxically, lunchmeats (that unholy alliance of stomach lining, advanced food preservation chemistry, and cow lips). He's an enigma, a mystery.

He's very mobile now, going up and down stairs like handrails are a luxury (in our case, non-existent) and gravity not quite the enemy. But generally he's to be found under some table or chair, quiet, playing with one of his many trains, or pretending whatever he has in hand is a train (books, teddy-bears, day-old macaroni).

There's not much more to say about him, except that he's developed this nearly Woody The Woodpecker type laugh, except quieter, and perhaps slightly less maniacal.

Owlet is a whole four years and change now. Her favourite punctuation is the question mark, her favourite things in life being TV or bargaining. Usually the bargaining to get more TV, so perhaps we should just say her favourite thing is TV but then we might appear even more remiss as parents. She has a bright future as a SWAT negotiator or TV critic, perhaps some sort of amalgam of the two.

She's still firey, perhaps more so. She has an expressiveness that easily matches Owl Jr.' lack thereof, and several pretty hilarious misconceptions about pretty much anything. As a pre-schooler, that's her right. As her parents, it's our right to listen to her and not correct her. Mind you, it might be because some of these misconceptions were planted in there by us (chocolate makes you shrink) and are useful to keeping her healthy; if it happens to be entertaining as well, so be it.

When not asking questions and being just generally very firey, she'll attempt to start talking about something. She's incredibly adept at starting to talk about something. “Dadda, when I was a.. when I was... Dadda, when I was a... when... I.. a little gi... Dadda, dadda, I have to tell you something, when I was a little girl”. It's funny, written down like this. But at the end of a long day, it's like Chinese water torture if the water was replaced with mercury and the torture was forever.

She's discovered the joys of drawing sea monsters, robots, and aliens, curious how she got to drawing those. I certainly had nothing to do with it.

Knock-knock jokes are a huge favourite for her. And for us, because rarely does she actually understand how the first bit and the second bit come together and you end up with a masterpiece of absurdist humour, “Knock knock,.Who's there? Banana. Banana who? Aren't you glad I didn't say orange?” I choose to believe she's doing this on purpose. She does, however, know how to do the 'interrupting cow' knock knock joke to perfection, and well, her parents are cheap laughs.

She's noticing Molly a lot more now, trying to give her commands, making note that she's the “cutest dog in the whole wide world”. Molly continues to base her affection in direct proportion to how much meat Owlet has on her plate at the moment.

This is her last year of pre-school. Next term (2011 September) she starts 5 days a week kindergarten. I assume they need more time to get into the trickery fingerpainting, the lesser used crayons, and perhaps some neon Play-Doh™, I'm not sure.

Owl Jr. and Owlet continue to get along famously. When not ignoring each other or making each other laugh they are making each other scream (sometimes out of fun (I'm not sure how screaming has been associated with fun, for them, but there it is), mostly out of frustration). They do seem to care about each other a whole lot. Most disagreements arise because Owl Jr. can't see why he has to wait to play with something just because Owlet happens to be holding it. Owlet is invariably the put-upon party, since she's learned such things as 'sharing' and 'mine', while Owl Jr., noble savage that he is, is blissfully unfettered by such ideas.

They like making forts together, and sometimes just taking turns screaming and laughing at each other which is something that goes quickly from adorable to 'how can I cover my ears inconspicuously'.

Molly is still going to work. She's far too friendly to new people who come into our office but that keeps me from having to do small talk, which is a relief to all parties, let me tell you.

I'm still where I was last year. My rut is extraordinarily homey, thanks for asking.

At some point during the summer I took a weekend and went to NYC to see some friends. It was hot, it was fun, and I wasn't mugged above seven times. I'm told it's because I kept to all the touristy areas. The Chrysler Center, Central Park, and other land marks are just as you imagined them, as long as you add about thirty times more tourists and ensure it's hotter than a malfunctioning bathhouse in the third circle of Hell.

Mrs. Owl is still working part time at a long term care facility. The old people are still old, I'm told, the pleasantly confused are still both, as well. During the summer she took a weekend to go to Vegas with her friends. She's since asked me what a 'lien' is, and I don't know, and I assume it's not related to the Vegas trip. Or choose to believe.

And that's all the news that's fit to cram into a Christmas letter, in all its torrid, spicy glory.

Best wishes for you and yours, and may the new year find you as this year has hopefully found you: healthy and wealthy and wise.

Owl Family (Mrs. Owllle, Niteowl, Owlet, Owl Jr. & Molly) Christmas 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Owlet has this doodle pad, it works with magnets somehow. You use a magnetic pen and you draw stuff, and when you're done, you erase it with another magnet. Owlet enjoys making sea-monsters and aliens and robots and all sorts of things that I'm sure I had NO hand in putting in her head.

We've taken to doing these things collaboratively, each adding a bit more. I used to draw a bit in elementary, jet-packed leopards with flamethrowers, aardvarks with rocket launchers, the usual stuff. Ok, maybe not usual, maybe the product of a war-and-apparently-zoo-obsessed 10 year old, but, no letters to home, so it's all above board.

In any case, I enjoy these collaborative efforts: sea monsters look something like the Loch Ness, with added various eye-stalks, claws, flippers, jaws, and tentacles; robots are generally squares with other square like things added on, invariable jet wings, or something of the sort; aliens are more humanoid, lots of antennae, and, well, overlap alot with sea monsters.

So we'll add and add and tweak and at some point Owlet feels like the monster/alien/robot might be a bit cold and gives them a sweater, more or less blacking out a large part of the body. We know what's under there, and I guess that's what matters.

Anyhow, after veritably minutes of work, she'll just kinda shrug and pull the eraser across the board. I always catch myself being surprised. We toiled over that creation. Poured together our limited and infantile imagination into every tentacle and misplaced jet engine! I never cease to be even more impressed by how zen Owlet is about the whole enterprise. Complete detachment. Or maybe I"m just looking too far into these things.

She'll be drawing over-armed aardvarks in no time.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Went to a friend/coworkers place for a Christmas work dinner type thing. Good company, food, and the many, many kids didn't leave lasting scars on each other, so, a success in my book. There was a Secret Santa with all the excitement and bubbling enthusiasm that free loot tends to engender and the kids were relatively happy about what they got, or well-bred enough not to make obvious their bitter disappointment.

What was interesting was realizing how far I've come, well, how far anyone comes when they hit adulthood. Doubly so when you have kids and you see how excited they are about the whole thing and its stark contrast to your own mild enthusiasm.

For me it's become a thing to endure. Hopefully something I can make memorable for my brood. Christmas magic and all that. Christmas songs, eggnog, turkey, Christmas cookies and what have you. But I'm far beyond being in the moment, the suspended magic of it. Because, well, I have a bloody mortgage don't I? And responsibilities, and don't see how cool a train set is, and usually think of it in relation to how it fits the family budget.

So. It's sobering. Looking at them have their fun. It's great, it makes me smile, I enjoy seeing them enjoy themselves, but I'm never going to get that place they are now.

Course, I can eat as much Christmas chocolate as I want and drink gallons upon gallons of egg-nog without having to give the what for to anyone except perhaps my cardiologist or coroner, which was the Great Freedom I yearned for when i was a child. I could also walk into a Toys R Us and literally buy anything I wanted for myself, now that I don't find any of it remotely interesting. Odd, life.

The dinner was on an island, and we took a water taxi out there. A boat. It's about a 25 minute ride, going out there was choppy as heck, but fun in its own way. Coming back it was pretty smooth, except somewhere near the end where I was starting to calculate how long I could tread water in near freezing water while keeping my kids afloat. Not long.

One was asleep, one didn't even notice we were more pitching at 45 degree angles than merely hitting chop. I'm a worrisome sort, so maybe the other parents didn't think much of it, but if they did, and I imagine they did, it seems like another thing about adulthood. Being the wizard behind the curtain, aware of how all things works (gifts, Santa, possibility of drowning and hypothermia enroute to home), knowing about the bitter realities, worrying about the horrifying consequences, but making no note of it, shouldering it, keeping on.

Mind you, the roast beef was quite good.