Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Patio Turns Six Years Old

Allison hulas on the patio.
Six years ago today I posted my first ever blog entry. "The Patio" was open.  Only I didn't have a real patio back then and my blog was called, "A Time of Reckoning," after my infamously unpublished novel.  That was back when I had time to contemplate the deeper issues of the human condition.

Allison and Emily were three months old when I started blogging. When I peruse my old entries, I feel the stress of those days in my writing.  The blog was a place to vent. That wasn't the original intent. I wanted to connect to the writing community. Life however, had other plans.

Allison and Emily took root in the center of my universe. For the past six years I've been meaning to get back to novel writing. My life reminds me of, A Year In Provence.

Emily swings under the deck.
In the meantime I built a patio in my back yard. One year on Father's Day, Kelly gave me a plaque that said, "Daddy-O of The Patio." I started referring to myself as such.  Allison and Emily occasionally call me that too, and so I figured, if the shoe fits....

Some of you used to visit me on this site. You probably haven't been here since I opened my new cyber patio. I rarely drop in myself. I look back at the pictures and read about my life and times and I think: this is the story of what happened as I was on my way to becoming one of the great novelists of the 21st Century. I'm cool with how things turned out. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Daddy-O Has Moved

First there was A Time of Reckoning.  Then I evolved my blog to Daddy-O of The Patio.  Then I ran out of free storage space there to post pictures. Consequently, I have created a new Google account and started a new blog. It's still called Daddy-O of The Patio. Going forward, you can find me here:

Daddy-O of The Patio

The new blog is missing the five years worth of posts that led up to its creation.  That's because I'm preserving precious storage space.

The good news is, the patio is lit and open, and you're all invited to hang out.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Snowflake Lane

Dark clouds were rolling in low and fast over Bellevue on Friday afternoon. The temperature was hovering in the low 40s. We all; Auntie Kathy and The Captain included, sat in the living room in the gathering gloom; kids playing with their Polar Express train set, parents spread out on the surrounding furniture.  Kelly wanted to go to Chipotle for a bite to eat and then walk across the street to Snowflake Lane. I hemmed and hawed about the weather and the traffic and the crowds but I knew she was right.  What the hell, I figured in the end, I said I was going to get us out of the house on Friday nights from now on and besides, despite my low expectations of having any fun, it would still be better than sitting around doing nothing. And it turns out we had a lovely evening on Snowflake Lane.

The plan was for me to drop off the group at Chipotle, take the truck back to PSE and park in the garage, then hoof it back the two blocks to meet up. I'm glad I drove.  My routes are designed to avoid choke points and I'm telling you I saved us major time by coming in to downtown Bellevue the back way. The line was long as usual at Chipotle but it was moving fast.  Auntie Kathy snagged the corner booth by the door that easily seated our party of six.  Emily went through the line with Mommy and me. I let her sit on my shoulders.  She was yelling at Allison from across the restaurant and though she didn't have the vocal power to make herself heard in the cacophony; the place has lousy acoustics BTW, it's always super loud in there, Emily did get herself seen by her sister.  By the time I set the food tray on the table, Allison was leaning against the wall in tears.

That set off an evening of the girls taking turns getting piggyback rides from Daddy. Allison rode on my shoulders to Snowflake Lane. It's a strip of Bellevue Way that runs in front of Bellevue Square Mall.  There are drummers, singers, dancers, Frosty, Rudolph, fairies, princesses, colorful lights, piped in music, manufactured snow, and a bunch of other Christmas characters whooping it up, posing for pictures with children, passing out candy, and generally spreading good cheer for about half an hour every evening.

The kids took turns on my shoulders and eventually loosened up and got in the spirit of the season. Soon they were high-fiving Frosty The Snowman and others, and they actually posed with the some of the other cast of Snowflake Lane.  The crowd was formidable but friendly.  There was a lot to see.  I even found myself singing along and swaying with the music.

We slipped away via the pedestrian path that leads up to the transit center, then strolled the block back to PSE to pick up the truck.  I wanted everyone to see the PSE courtyard with all the trees wrapped in lights and water flowing from the fountain and the giant Christmas tree in the lobby.  The place was dark. Turns out they were working on the parking garage and so had cut some power.  Anyway, from there it was an easy exit to home.

Emily remarked that when she met The Snow Princess, she got so excited she peed a little. To me, that alone made the entire evening worthwhile.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Weekend In (a culinary) Sin City

Lordy what a weekend for food. I succumbed to the season. Friday was a decadent breakfast at Lil Jon's. Ever been? Classic American Diner fare. Then on Saturday it was The Annual Christmas Party at Auntie Kathy's. Sunday was wine and cheese while watching the UFC event at Key Arena that I had recorded on Saturday night.

Going in to last Friday I couldn't tell you the last time I'd been to Lil Jon other than to say it had been years.  It's tucked away in Eastgate, between a car dealership and a strip mall. Killer breakfasts. Kelly was meeting John there, and I slipped out of work at 9:30 AM to crash their party.  So did Auntie Kathy, it turned out.  I had the #4: hash browns; two eggs ( I ordered them sunnyside up), and four strips of bacon.  It comes with toast as well, but I gave that up at the suggestion of the waitress when she heard me order a pancake side. The pancakes are the size of a dinner plate.  I washed it all down with standard American Diner Coffee, which I embellished with two non dairy creamers and a package of equal--about three times.

Oh yeah, that did the job.  I was still stuffed at 4:00 PM when I went home.  If you've been following along you know I've renewed my vows to get the family out of the house as much as possible just for the sake of us keeping our sanity.  Well, the weather was not cooperating, so viewing the Christmas lights at The Bellevue Botanical Gardens or the goings on down Snowflake Lane was out of the question. Long story short, we ended up at Vince's, in the Renton Highlands, for pizza.  

We couldn't have gotten out of there for any cheaper.  I mean, it was two salads and a large bacon pizza. Waters all around, one of which Allison tipped over.  No surprise there.  Anyway, with tip I totaled out at $30. That's twenty bucks cheaper than our usual bill at the Mexican Joint.  So I was cool with our Friday Evening.

I ate pretty well from an Eat To Live standpoint on Saturday.  Yes, I did break the plan with the chicken sandwich. But I also had vegetarian chilli and a fresh fruit smoothie.  When I got to Auntie Kathy's and Uncle Eric's, I circled their dining room table which was loaded with snacks, few of which held my interest. Pumpkin bread, Cheetos, cheeses, individual sized quiches, a soy ham. Blah, blah, blah. What caught my attention were the cookies. They weren't even homemade, but I had a craving.  The choices were Snickerdoodle and Choco Chip. I had about ten. That and chips with dip.  No booze.  

Are you kidding me? Nope I sh*t you not, I didn't drink at the party.  Funny thing, Auntie Kathy and Uncle Eric have been hosting a Holiday Party since they got married in 1997.  That first year is legendary for the debauchery.  Funniest part about that year is, I didn't drink at that party. They lived in Everett you see, and I volunteered for some unknown reason to be Designated Driver.  Everyone else got absolutely trashed. Auntie Kathy had to repaint her bathroom.

Since then, the party has progressively toned down. We've all grown older, kids came along, yada yada. On top of that, this year it turned out Microsoft was having their Holiday Party the same night as Auntie Kathy, wiping out about half the guest list.  I've mentioned before that I don't jive with the Microsoft crowd. I guess I'm just to Old School. So you'd think it would be cool with me not to have to listen to their banter about the latest gaming issues and whatever.  Same with the cops. I respect cops but they have a certain attitude. Uncle Eric usually has a bunch of his cop buddies over, but again, it just so happened a lot of them had other obligations. They are all basically nice people but blow me off due to a perceived (?) lack of social standing. At least they are entertaining. I found myself missing them on Saturday night.

This year, the guests were way too polite and conservative. Everyone brought a bottle of wine but nobody was drinking. Near the end of the night I counted half a dozen unopened bottles sitting on the counter. Kelly had a beer. John had a couple small glasses of wine before switching to Cream Soda. I stuck to Diet Pepsi.

Made up for it on Sunday.  Kirsten was going out with a friend for lunch. This at the same time I had four quality UFC fights on the DVR. Not only, but John had brought a couple of top shelf wines on Saturday--so good that upon seeing them, I immediately deemed them too good to take to the party.  John came over and we drank those on Sunday. That called for snackies. In particular, salami, cheese, and crackers. We finished it off with champagne and popcorn while watching Pink rock the house in an episode of VH1 Storytellers.

Sounds pretty bad; and it was, don't get me wrong, but the fact is, I really didn't eat that much or drink that much until Sunday.  My metabolism; fueled by a weekly spin class and a daily long, brisk walks, kept my weight at the status quo.

Enjoyed every bite and sip. Gone are my urges for a big breakfast and afternoon wine. I'm ready to clamp back down on my eating regimen. Having said that, I enjoyed my weekend visit to a culinary Sin City.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Day of The Broken Record

Pearl Harbor Day.  Less significant: it's the day my life began. No, it's not my birthday. The beginning of a long, twisting, grinding, uphill, journey. I might have to bust out the wine this evening after the kids go to bed. Today is truly a day to celebrate where I am in life, modest though it be.

There have been so many places I've gone wrong. So many bad decisions I've made. And yet I feel like I've landed on my feet. Things worked out. I'm grateful. I'm fortunate. Blessed. Humbled.  If I had to sum up my life in one word, that word would be "perseverance."

I tend to take the long way and to do things the hard way. I can be hard-headed. A dumbass. A slow learner.  But I hang in there. Whatever "there" is.

Rather than make like a broken record with another re-hash of my journey, you can if you're interested, read  all about it from last year's blog post by clicking the link below:

The Day My Life Began

When I get time (if I ever get the time), I'd like another quiet afternoon with some coffee, to break apart the different segments of my journey.  Alas, The Big Kahuna has got to keep rolling for now.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Being The Big Kahuna

It's not often I get enough quiet time to sit and analyze, digest, and put in perspective, all that's been going on in my life over the past five years. This afternoon, with Kelly at work and the kids at their grandparents, I bolted a tad early from the office, got a coffee on the way home, and sat alone with my thoughts in the living room where I went in to a state of reflection, mostly about my mom's life.  There's a lot to be learned from her journey. I'm still  finding my own way in this world. You'd think at my age I'd know who the heck I am by now. Daddy-O of The Patio, right? Sure, that's one role I play.  In the grand scheme of things however, I need to become The Big Kahuna.

My mom has been gone nearly a year. Hard to believe.  As I thought about her life, it occurred to me that when she was my age, my dad had begun a seven year decline in health that ended with his passing. I sat there in the afternoon darkness with my McDonald's coffee and tried to put myself in her shoes: spouse suffering from emphysema and some form of blood problem that required regular transfusions.  How'd I like to be the age I am now and caring for a dying spouse?

My thoughts skipped ahead to her years as a widow.  She basically shut down--not that she was ever a real going concern.  Sure, she talked about wanting to go to a ballgame or to a show or whatever, but did she ever? Rare. It was walking the malls and bingo and playing cards with her girlfriends. Home before dark. For all her hopes and dreams, that was her life from the ages 60-75 or so.  Then she began her own decline.

During that period in which she was still fending for herself, I scoffed at her big talk of all the things she said she was going to or wanted to do, and I disrespected her for her lack of follow through.

How does all that relate to me and my life?

Last weekend I was off my game. Sunday in particular was a real killer: lots of big talk but no actual plans--remind me of anyone? I cracked at one point. Had kind of a meltdown. Because why?  Because everyone was on my nerves because we were all bored?  Shame on me.  They were looking to me; The Big Kahuna, to take charge. And I wasn't up to the task.  Was my supposedly meek, mild-mannered mom mentally tougher than me, the self-proclaimed Big Kahuna?

I've since vowed that I won't shut down anymore.

Another weekend is upon me.  I've been thinking up activities for the fam. The Bellevue Botanical Gardens have all their Christmas lights up. That packs in the sightseers.  Snowflake Lane is open in front of Bellevue Square. What a zoo that can be. I'm not much for crowds. Parking is a turnoff. But damn the masses, I'd rather deal with that stuff than nothing at all.

Point is, I'm up for getting out in the world. And while I'm at it, I'd do well to stop with the bitching. It's a requirement of being The Big Kahuna.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Patio Goes Dark

Google has me bamboozled. I can't post any more pictures to my blog because I've used up my free storage space on Picasa Web. That is, I can't post any more pictures to my blog unless I want to fork over my hard earned dough for more storage capacity. I'm searching for a work-around.

Yes, I could create a new account and start another blog.  I already have two, with half a mind to delete the A Time of Reckoning site. The point of the whole blogging exercise is to create a cyber-footprint that my kids can retrace when they grow up--and that I can use as visual cues to remember what the hell I did with my life. I want to have it all in one place rather than a conglomeration of multiple blogs.

So how much money is Google asking me for?

$2.50 per month. Doesn't sound like much, I know. And yet it's enough to make me stop and consider my options.  Right now I can still post, just not with pictures. So for now, the patio is dark.