Where have you hidden my manhood this time?

These days I have a devil of a time laying hold of that six-inch long piece of equipment that constitutes my manhood. I suspect I’m not the only husband and father with this trouble. I bet lots of men roam their houses, in desperate frustration, searching for the TV remote.

Just as he needs a comfortable chair, set squarely before the TV, a man need his scepter of entertainment power, preferably programmed to skip anything educational and the various Lifetime channels.

With three boys and a grown-up woman in the house, I don’t get charge of the remote very much. This is a hard knock, but I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve learned to be satisfied with a few minutes of executing my will over the TV after everyone has gone to bed, on the nights when they go to bed before my time is up.

Who needs  the remote?

“The remote? Why would you need that? The TV’s already tuned to cartoons.”

What drives me up the wall is when I finally get the TV to myself and there’s no remote to be found. Since it’s technically the cable remote, I can’t even change the channel manually. I’m stuck watching Ninja Turtles as my reward for outlasting them all.

They all have their different methods of losing the remote. One routinely takes it to a different room, where it no doubt also controls the toaster. One loses it underneath couch cushions. One throws it into a toy box.

I caught on to all these tricks and was renewing my acquaintance with televised sports when Big Man began his own love affair with the device. Big Man doesn’t care what channel the TV is on, but that remote is just full of fat, juicy buttons to push, and some of them do things to the TV that make his family react in the most hilarious ways.

keeping watch

Guarding your stash is a 24/7 job. Handcuffs for trespassers are optional.

My wife is a self-proclaimed, part-time hoarder. On the other hand, she hates clutter. She reconciles these positions by stuffing her hoard into cupboards and baskets. This issue would not be related to my difficulty locating the remote except Big Man seems to have inherited these contradictory conditions from her.

He has a little cache behind the stereo  where he keeps his prized possessions. His prized possessions are objects that caught his attention for a minute, until he decided it would be fun to drop them into a hole. He has a second cache behind the kids’ chair in the living room. In these caches can be found Leap Frog toys, plastic soldiers, the tail section of a Mega Bloks helicopter, a good portion of my once-pristine CD collection (with or without cases), and something I spent most of a Saturday afternoon looking for so I could watch something besides Peppa Pig for a damned minute.

Oh well, TV is overrated anyway. Maybe we should investigate some more intellectually fulfilling pursuits, like reading to each other or going to family hoarders’ therapy. Maybe we could just relax and listen to some nice music. Oh wait, where are my CDs?

An old dog’s new trick: asking for help

I’m not good at asking for help. I’m much more comfortable helping than being helped. I don’t know why; it’s probably some kind of pride thing. Or stubbornness. Who knows?

This self-publishing biz has taught me there are some things you can’t do alone. Writing is a fine thing to do alone, but writing sometimes leads to publishing, and publishing beats the hell out of introverts.

You don’t have to ask for help if you can afford to pay for it, but I can’t do that either. Take that, foolish pride!

I’ve had to learn to ask. I’m still learning. It’s a long lesson.

So this is me, practicing asking for help.

If you’ve been following this or my other blog, you may know I’ve been preparing a new book for publication. It’s taken a long time, but I’m finally on the cusp of having the project pulled together. My wife is planning a small release party for me on June 25. (This happens to be the anniversary date of Custer’s Last Stand, but I was never into omens, and it was a pretty good day for Crazy Horse.)

Over the past couple years, I’ve asked and received valuable help from beta readers, editors, and a talented artist named Jessica O’Brien who provided the amazing cover art.

Jessica's wonderful cover art.

Jessica’s wonderful cover art.

Now, I need more help, lots more. Perhaps even your help, if you are willing.

Besides visitors to my blogs, and a sprinkling of people on Facebook, few others know about this book. Once the book is released, this has to change. I need people to help spread the word. So, to any who are willing, I humbly ask that you use whatever social media you are comfortable with to help. Whether it be a link on a blog, a Facebook post, a Tweet, whatever you’d like to do will help.

I will announce the official release. (You bet I will!) I will then welcome your assistance. You don’t even have to tell me how you’re helping spread the word, although it would allow me to thank you if you did.

Helping does not mean you have to buy or read the book. I’m just looking to let people know the book exists so they can make their own decisions about their interest in it. If you want to read the book and share your impressions of it, that would be fantastic, but just pointing a few people toward the book to see for themselves is also very helpful. Whatever you are willing and able to do is appreciated. And if you’d rather just wish me luck, I’ll take that too.

Some info about the book.

Title: A Housefly in Autumn

Genre: Is Young Adultish a genre? I’ve tried to write a story that would appeal to Young Adults as well as General Fiction readers. In doing so, I have incurred the risk of missing both audiences, but what is life without risk? (Just ask Custer.)

Blurb: A Housefly in Autumn is intended for Young Adults and up. A historical novel, set in 19th century Europe, it follows the life of a young man whose dreams have crumbled down around him. In an act of heroism, he sacrifices his own promising future to save the life of another. Now he must decide whether to cling to the unlikely hope of regaining his old life, or aim his efforts toward making the most of the life fate has dealt him. Though it is difficult to let go of the rewards that life once promised, perhaps the greatest rewards are the ones earned by building new hope from the bits and pieces of wrecked dreams.

More description can be found here. I will post purchase links when they are available.

A big Thank You in advance to all willing to help.



Always play safe in Thunderdome

The boys’ uncle sent them a trampoline for Christmas. Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time to build outdoor toys. The weather is finally warm enough to play outside; enough months have passed since Christmas to make it seem like a brand new gift; and parents have an extra day to recover from the trauma of assembly.

This trifecta of perfect timing was marred only by my being sick. I had just your garden variety virus, but my throbbing head and weak limbs did not feel like trampoline-building.

This did not stop my wife for a moment. If I couldn’t do it, she would. I begged her to hold off, but she was a woman with a plan, and that plan involved happily bouncing children. All I had to do was bring up the box from the basement.

Rather than stand in the way of a mother’s goals, I did as asked. Then, I entertained Big Man in the sun room as Mommy and the older boys exited to the back yard.

She did a good job building, but a trampoline, with all its required tautness, presents a struggle for any individual builder. By the time two female neighbors had come to check on her, I realized I had to abandon this being sick business.

I’m sure the neighbors saw me moping around in the back room. I’m also sure my wife explained my infirm state to them. But I’ve read enough mommy blogs to know that when a wife tells her friends her husband is sick, she rolls her eyes. I also know the friends take any husband’s illness as code for, “He’s faking so he doesn’t have do any man work.”

I took Big Man out to help Mommy. With two adults working, we finished the job without much trouble. The worst part was keeping track of the two pages of instructions among the 20 pages of safety guidelines. On the plus side, that was 20 pages of booklet we could ignore.

Don't do this at home

If this picture were in the instruction booklet, it would have a giant, red X over it.

I did notice one headline in the safety area. It was accompanied by picture of two stick figures bumping heads, complete with pain lines radiating from the skulls. It was a funny picture, accompanied by a ridiculous admonition: “Only one person should be on the trampoline.” The entire family had a good laugh over this one. Why didn’t they just tell us to take it apart and put it back in the basement? One person at a time? How could that be fun?

Yes, they were likely to bump heads, and yes, that might hurt for a minute, but hadn’t I just risen from my deathbed to make this fun possible?

They went two and three at a time. They crashed into each other in all kinds of hilarious ways, and they all got over it. Because it was fun. Because sometimes fun comes with bumps and bruises. Because we’re not the kind to make trampoline memories; we make Thunderdome memories.

I got next

The next challenger is ready. Just imagine how awesome it will be once we get the chain saws and pikes hung from the sides.

Let’s just move to Alaska so we don’t have to go to bed at all

It’s hard not to want to welcome the arrival of spring. This is especially true since my winters hold a lot less skiing than they used to and a lot more shoveling. Now that winter is more about searching for lost mittens than a quiet trail through a beautiful woods, there’s not much left to recommend it.

If there is one thing that has begun to lean in winter’s favor, it is winter’s lack of Daylight Savings Time.

DST used to be a good thing. It used to let carefree, childless me play outside after work. It used to lend itself to pleasant evenings in open-air seating with friends, food, and spirits.

Now, all DST does is convince children it can’t possibly be time to go to bed. We spent all their lives training them to sleep at night, and now demand they go to bed in the middle of the afternoon.

Lets screw parents everywhere!

Can you believe people actually wrote to Congress asking them to prevent me from having a quiet moment to myself at night?

This time of year is enough trouble without DST, but why settle for a little trouble when we can have a lot?

Nobody told the sun school is still in session. He stays up late, mocking children who have to go to bed before him.

Big Brother understands DST and the growing days of spring, but it still makes him angry. It’s darker when we wake him up than when he goes to bed. That must be why he prefers morning sleep.

A few short months ago, Buster and Big Man (formerly New Baby) were checked out by 8. Now, 10 o’clock is a good night. They can’t tell time, but they know when they can still see the colors of things outside. Day means play.

Congress must be eager to add more playtime to their days after work, the way they’ve kept spreading DST out over the calendar, but don’t those guys pretty much come and go as they please anyway?

They say it helps farmers, which is something I might buy if there were more than three family farms left. Aren’t all the farms owned by G.E. or some similar giant corporation? Can’t they just manufacture bigger light bulbs to use in the corn field factory?


. . . because you won’t have a minute alone with your wife until November. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

Of all parental responsibilities, putting kids to bed is one of my top 1,000 least favorite. You know what, kids? I have work in the morning, which means I have to go to bed at a reasonable hour, which means every second you resist sleep is a second taken from the only precious little chunk of down time I’m getting today. So don’t look at the sun, or any of the natural time cues you recognize; look at the clock, that man-made fabrication dictating our lives and begging, nay commanding, you to go to sleep so I can have a quiet cup of tea, or during these rough nights of Daylight Savings Time, scotch.

On the other hand, I don’t relish the idea of them getting up at 4:30 a.m., so can I get three cheers for that wonderful sunrise delayer known as Daylight Savings Time?