Thursday, December 21, 2006

Abby 1993-2006

Abby died one week ago today. I've yet to download the last images of her, as it still breaks my heart to think about it. Just about every time I take Teeva out, I think of her and my eyes well up.

She was my companion for nearly 12 years. Four times longer than I've known my wife. Six times longer than I've known my son. One-third of my entire lifetime. She will be missed.

I got her from a no-kill shelter in Bumfuck, Indiana. She was one of approximately 200 dogs and 400 cats that were on this farm. The farm was, according to the toothless man running the place, owned by the animals. Apparently, when the owner of the farm passed, she made arrangements for the farm to be owned by the animals. Not a bad deal, really.

I had been in Indy for a couple of months, and my GF at the time had recently arrived to be with me. I think we had been in our apartment just a week when we went looking for a dog. I don't remember much of the details of the search, but somehow, we ended up at this particular shelter. The dogs were all about 4-8 to a 20'x20' or so run, set up in a horseshoe around a larger enclosed area. The first dog we asked about was "unadoptable" due to behavior issues - she was a shelter lifer.

I went one way around and the gf went the other way around the horseshoe, looking for another dog. All the dogs were barking frantically at the strangers walking through their kingdom. Then I saw her. Perched on top of her doghouse like snoopy. Standing, regally, quietly. When our eyes made contact, it was magic! I knew she was the one. We got her out and played with her a bit and fell in love. "Sonja", I think, is what her name at the time was. We were told that she was about 1-1/2 to 2 yrs old. She had come from a family that had had her for about a year before bringing her to the shelter 'cause she just didn't work out, and had been at the shelter for a good six months. Now, anyone that knows Abby would have to ask, "what do you mean, didn't work out". We never got an answer, but we figured she must have been beaten by her previous "family". Whatever the reason, we signed on the line and were told to come back in two days.

Two days later, the gf went to get her. It was the middle of January, the temperature had dipped into the teens (during the day!), the wind was blowing and it was snowing outside. She saved Abby from the weather and brought her home.

She'd been with me ever since, from Indiana, to Vermont, then back accross the country to California, where she lived out the rest of her life. She's been to both coasts, numerous mountain ranges, parks, lakes, rivers and reservoirs.

She spent the last hours of her life in our garden. She wanted to be alone, outside, in the rain. That was the sure sign that it was time. We had a vet come to the house and administer the shots that sent her off for good. She died in the garden, surrounded by those who loved her.

We will pick up her ashes next week and then figure out what to do with them. I'd love to scatter bits of them wherever she'd been, but that won't be possible. I'm sure a few will go in the pacific, some in the atlantic and I want to go back to the green mountains in vermont and drop some there, as well.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Yesterday, when I went to pick Cobalt up after school, I was told that our little Rhodes Scholar-to-be decided that he would use one of his red chucks (that's his tennis shoes to those of you not familiar with the common name of the Chuck Taylor All Stars by Converse) as a bowl for his goldfish...

The other kids laughed, and then proceeded to remove their shoes and use them as bowls, too.

I always say that this kid is a born leader.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Santa Who?

Last year, much to my surprise, Kyle told me that she does not want Cobalt to know about or believe in Santa. I can't really remember which it is, but either way, I think it's kind of silly.

Me, I'm more or less a scrooge. Or at least for the last 30 years or so I've been. Whereas the missus is all about the holiday...singing carols, decking the halls, shopping, giving gifts. So now that it's almost the official christmas season, and time for me to be intoxicated for a month straight, I've been thinking a lot about this again.

Fortunately for us, it seems the kid is infatuated with snowmen. We've seen them out a few places like the zoo and on doors. And every time he sees one, he goes apeshit. It's incredible! It's his new big thing, after lions (roar!), a-bi-das (pumpkins) and motorcycles. So maybe that'll be the big mascot for us this year.

But the question I have is where does the love of the snowman come from? We live in California for fuck's sake. Last year we were in Boston after the storm, but I don't remember seeing any and I'm sure he doesn't. Maybe its the Boston-Chicago genes of his folks.

Anyway, not sure where this is going, but it'll be sure interesting to see.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Cars, Trucks, a little art and a whole lotta love

On November 10, 2006, Cobalt turned 2. Kyle and I took the day off from work to hang out with the little guy. We had a fabulous day. We let Cobalt sleep in, which allowed mom and dad to have some "adult time" in the morning. After he got up, we took him down to Bean Bag for breakfast.
That afternoon, we took him to the zoo to see the Feeding of the Lions. However, we did get to see the Feeding of the Penguins, although not as cruesome, it was still quite fun for him. Cobalt did get to see the lions, but they had pretty much had their way with the bunnies by the time we got there. All that remained was some fur and a little hamburger. Cobalt loved the lions so much he kept running in and out of the feeding house until they closed us out.
He didn't nap that day, and he fell asleep on the way down to the zoo. However, being the good parents that we are, we decided to wake him when we got there. It was a calculated risk, and one that paid off. He loved the small primates, jumping around in their pens. The giraffes in the "african safari" area, or whatever the fuck they call it, were a hit, too. He even got to go to the petting zoo and feed the sheep. I think that was just a little too much like feeding the dogs and the thrill wore off pretty quickly. But he loved all the other animals, and go to see an owl eat some kind of dead fleshy thing, as well.
The next day, Saturday, was truly the Big Day. Dad baked a cake and mom decorated it, as only she can. This time, instead of an abstract piece of art she made the truck you see above. I've gotta say, that it turned out a hell of a lot better than I had expected. (She's really got a talent, that Kyle!) I also made the biggest lasagna I'd ever seen, but neglected to take a picture of it. We decorated everything with the Co-2 symbol you see at the right. Even the lasagna!
Anyway, the party was a blast. His oldest friend Zuby came down with his brother Benny from Ukiah. Sidney and Ian were of course there, as well as the ever-so-stylin' Beckett. His new friends Evan and Chloe brought their folks, and little Radlee is no longer little.
It's fun to watch the interaction of the young ones. At first, they are shy and cautious, most clinging to their parents. But after a while, once they realize that they are stuck with each other for the next few hours, they seem to loosen up. There was lots of running around, screaming, crying, laughing. The house was full and full of joy. The food was good, the beer and wine were flowing, and the cake was a hit.
In the end, Cobalt made out like a bandit with gifts or cars, trucks, trains, Darth Potato(e) Head and more. We're even thinking of cancelling christmas, but I doubt that will happen.
Thanks All and Happy Birthday, son!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Air Guitar

I just started to teach Cobalt how to play air guitar yesterday. After his first lesson, he kind of "got it". In fact, he was doing it without any prompting. Of course, trying to capture this on video was another adventure. So this is an edited down from the original 49 seconds.

Personally, I think he looks more like an LA Skinhead from Repo Man or something. Either way, HE ROCKS!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Halloween follow-up

Cobalt sent a little note to Kyle's boss, apologizing for breaking his vase. Bill sent this reply...

Hi Cobalt. Howyudoin? Hey,, I just opened your note tonight when I found it in my sportcoat pocket. I guess I put it in my pocket last week at work expecting to open it when I got home. It was great having you here last week. We hardly ever have interesting people like you over cause my kids up and went and got too darn tall. Short ones are a whole lot more fun. Actually, they are just as interesting at any age, they just get different, but equally challenging at any age. Now for instance, my son just decided (after $32,000 of flight time), that flying is too boring for him. You wouldn't do that to your parents would you? . I suggest you pick something nice and cheap like Neurosurgery.

Ok, back to Halloween, not to worry about a stupid pot, stuff happens all the time. I can tell you for sure that my mistakes cost a whole lot more than a pot, and a even a whole lot more than my son's escapades.

Have a great week, I will be in DC on work and visiting my perfect
Daughter (all daughters are perfect)--you won't need to remember that, cause your mom will remind you.

Some day when you make a pot in school and it's not worthy of saving in your memorabilia box, send it my way and I will but it on a the shelf

Come back next year but wear Michigan colors, not Stanford

Uncle Bill

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Halloween Post

Well, I supposed I need to post about Halloween. I should have written this post that night, or perhaps the day after, but I am swamped with not much time on my hands. But since I need to have it fresh in my mind, I'm taking a little bread from work right now to take care of it.
This year, like last year (I think), Cobalt went as a clown. He wore the costume that his uncle Mark and his father both wore when they were kids. Although I think we wore them when we were about a year older. His Great-Grandmother Strahle made the costume, and and have kept them in a box in their crawl space all this time, just waiting for the day that they could give them to a grandchild. Thanks Mom and Dad!
We didn't really go all out this year, or at least that was the plan. Both Kyle and I have been busy with work and things like workin g on the yard and fixing my car that we haven't really had that much time to worry about Halloween. In fact, we were lucky to get out at all. So we didn't even bother to put any clown make-up on the boy, or even try to get him to wear the cap that goes with the outfit. The pom-pons on the front of the jumpsuit were not put back on, either. We've also blown off going to a pumpkin patch and carving punkins, as well. But none of this was lost on Cobalt. I think he knew something was up. Afterall, he got to carve punkins at school, and everytime we've passed one in the last couple of weeks he's screamed, "ABIDAS!"
For what I think is the first time ever, Kyle and I were able to pick Cobalt up from school, together. What a treat! We even brought the dogs with us, so that we could wander back through the park in order let them do their thing so that we could stay out with me worrying or having to rush home or even take them out when we got home.
This year, we had plenty of options for parties and trick-or-treating, too. We had an invite over to Beckett's for his annual monster bash. The neighborhood had a party that included fun and games at a local cafe' as well as a blocked-off street party. And lastly, we were invited over to Kyle's boss's house for cocktails, too. Because of Kyle's recent accolades and title-promotions at work recently, we opted for the latter of the three.
So we headed out to 29th and California, out close to the area of San Francisco known as Sea Cliff - an exclusive neighborhood that overlooks Baker Beach, the Presidio and the Marin Headlands and is home to many famous wealthy folks like Robin Williams. And since I mention him here, I continue by saying that yes, we did stop at his house (Kyle wasn't very impressed by it) to get a glow stick but more on that in a moment.
Apparently, unbeknownst to myself, Sea Cliff is like a Mecca for trick-or-treaters from all over SF and elsewhere. The three of us were a minority in this neighborhood for the following reasons: we are neither rich or in high school, and english is our first language (bet you couldn't tell from my grammar, huh?). The streets of the neighborhood were swamped with people. I'd say there were at least a hundred or so folks outside of the Robin Williams house at any given time. And the neighbors definitely take advantage of it.
I didn't get many pictures of the decorations, but probably should have. Many of the homes had displays, ranging from large inflatable pumpkins to dracula climbing from a coffin (Bill's and Ruth's). Many, many houses had jack-o-lanterns out, indicatint that they had candy for the kids. Some of these people must have spent a few hundred dollars on candy there were so many visitors.
So I mentioned Bill's & Ruth's above. For those of you that don't know, Bill is Kyle's boss at work. The reason we were out in that neighborhood in the first place was that they had invited us and other colleagues, friends, neighbors, etc. over for adult treats. We were outside in front for a while, watching Coffin Guy scare the bejeezes out of the kids (and some adults, too). His schtick was that he was kind of mechanical... almost fake, but very real. Cobalt stood about 8 ft away, staring at the guy, trying to figure out what was going on. The person in the chair next to Coffin Guy was the Candy Phantom...a lady with a mask like the Phantom of the Opera's, sitting with a bowl of candy on her lap. He would make a move, then go back. Their was another kid there too, and he stood behind his mother. Coffin Guy was taking it easy on the little guys, not really stirring or trying to scare them. Cobalt started to make a move, and the cast and crew urged him on...but he came back. A few moments later, however, he made his move. While staring straight at Coffin Guy, Cobalt made a bee-line for Candy Phantom's bowl. Coffin Guy stayed laying down, barely moving his eyes, as Cobalt scored the swag and returned with his prize. The other boy (who was 3-1/2) was still behind his mother when the amassing crowd cheered and applauded Cobalt for his bravery. What a guy!
We then entered Bill's house, studying it as we enetered (it was our first time there). We made our way to the gathering back by the kitchen and breakfast table. (Where else, but in the kitchen? Why do parties all end up in the kitchen. Cobalt made us sit down at the table, after Kyle got a bit of food. Cobalt was playing with the chips and dip, while we were enjoying our break with a glass of wine. Just as we were settling in , we heard the sound...cccrraaaaasssssshhhhhhh.
I'm sure a stream of profanities left my mouth when I turned to discover what I already knew. Cobalt had found the clay vases on the credenza and smashed one on the floor. What were we to do? Cobalt had just broken a valuable at his mommy's BOSS's house!
Thankfully, Bill is a swell guy. He simply swept the shards out of the way and said "don't worry about it...I guess our house is no longer child-proof." Then he went about with the party as though nothing happened.
After a while, Cobalt started to get antsy again, so I decided it was time for us to go, so as not to have anything else ruined. I honestly, thought that we were going to go home. But when we left the house, Cobalt turned left instead of right and headed for the next Jack-o'-lantern. He contined to hit what seemed like every house in a 2 block radius, filling his bag with candy and not slowing down. He would occasionally let out a "trk-trt" and always "bye-bye". When we went passed the car, we got in and headed home.
Back in our neighborhood, Cobalt wasn't done. He didn't want to go in the house and we wanted to see what the rest of the neighborhood looked like. We headed out and right next to the apartment building where I used to live, and Cobalt was conceived, was an open garage filled with people, food (a buffet), drinks and candy. Cobalt got some goodies, and we continued on to see the rest of the hood. By then it was mostly shut down, and we heard tales of the loads of people and just about everyone ran out of candy. Overally, it looked like a success! We decided that we would stick around the neighborhood next year.
We stopped again at the garage down the street for a nightcap and some non-candy food. We got back home just before 11 and Cobalt examined his treasures: