Conversations with my wife: Early birds

If it’s not the skunks, it’s the birds. None of God’s creatures wants us to get a good night’s rest.

I’ve mentioned before how we have a thriving skunk community in our neighborhood. They like to offer their perfumes to us in the night. If you’ve ever shared property with skunks, you know they can jolt you out of a stone dead sleep without saying a word.

The skunks come around from time to time, but in summer, the birds are out every morning. I have no problem with the birds. I’m a country boy; their joyful chirping doesn’t bother me. My wife, who is not a country boy, is driven up the wall by their chatter. By the laws of marriage (“for better or worse, richer or poorer, through plagues of birds, etc.”) this makes the birds my problem.

Every morning, not long after sunrise, the birds wake my wife, who reacts by closing the windows in our bedroom. Country boys are not accustomed to the noise of windows being closed on a pleasant June morning. Consequently, this wakes me up.

“Close the window if you don’t want to hear the morning announcements!”

 

WIFE: Sorry to wake you, but those birds are at it again.

ME: They’re just letting you know , “It’s morning time!”

WIFE: Could they whisper it? Or maybe wait until 7 o’clock? Let’s just leave the windows closed all night.

ME: It gets too hot in here. I’d likely be a wreck every morning.

WIFE: Let’s risk it.

ME: You know, some people buy recordings of birds singing to relax them.

WIFE: Singing? They call that singing? It sounds more like a brawl.

ME: Do you also hate the sound of a gentle rain?

WIFE: I swear, one of them is about to pull a knife.

ME: What about the ocean surf?

WIFE: The ocean is fine. It’s all one constant noise, not all these different notes and pitches these birds have.

ME: So if we could get more birds, and their noises all blended together . . .

WIFE: Have you ever heard bickering that blended together?

Not in our house, I haven’t. Wife wins that round.

Driving lessons from a preschool graduate

With the warm weather, we’ve pulled out the Power Wheels convertible. We bought it second-hand for Big Brother’s birthday, five years ago. He’s wanted to bring it outside since March. It’s cute how much he loves that car. Too bad it’s sad how he won’t accept the reality that he’s too big for it now. His knees stick up over the windshield when he drives it and I think I hear the electric motor gasping for breath.

Once Big Brother gets over his emotional attachment to the car, he’ll realize his bike gives him much more freedom than any rechargeable 12v battery can. It’s just that it may take him another five years to get over his emotional attachment.

highway

Blast from the Past: Big Brother taking Buster for a spin, circa 2014.

The car needed new battery. New batteries cost more than we paid for the car itself. I’m not sure I would have coughed up the cash to see Big Brother squeeze himself into the driver’s seat one more time. I was thinking more of his little brothers.

While Big Brother was finishing up his last weeks of 3rd grade, Buster and Big Man got in some valuable driving time. Buster has an aptitude for driving the car. He doesn’t over-steer and he understands the principles of a three-point (or nine-point) turn. His little brother isn’t quite there yet, but this does nothing to stop Big Man from demanding his turn behind the wheel.

He gets his turn, because practice makes perfect – perfect, in this case, meaning less likely to run over your father’s foot. Buster slides into the passenger seat and assumes the role of driving instructor.

It’s a comedy on wheels.

Buster’s mentoring is laced with annoyed impatience. He doesn’t understand why Big Man can’t follow his simple instructions, never appreciating that Big Man is not listening to instructions, simple or otherwise. Big Man is enjoying the freedom of the sidewalk, then the lawn, then the sidewalk, then the lawn again, then the sidewalk, then Daddy’s foot, then the lawn, and eventually the sidewalk again. It’s peddle to the metal and damn that buzzing in his ear.

If Buster knew any swear words his little brother would be buried under them. I must try to remember to forget all my best swear words before the boys get behind the wheel of a real car in 8-13 years.

In the end, cooler heads prevail, which means I rescue Buster from apoplexy by informing Big Man his turn is over. With the application of various threats and incentives, Big Man accepts the change and they switch seats. Buster executes a multi-point turn and they embark upon a straight-line cruise down the sidewalk, letting the highway breeze soothe frayed nerves.

The Corvette is passed to a new generation: Buster and Big Man hitting the road in 2017.

They are friends again, for as long as Big Man refrains from any terrible notions of it getting to be his turn to drive again.

I have nearly eight years before the real fun with cars begins. I should spend some of that time practicing keeping my feet out of the way of tires.

The best 10 years, so far

Ten years ago, this happened.

She was young and beautiful. She’s still young and beautiful. I’m still short on hair. I wouldn’t want to go changing on her.

She’s given birth to three boys since then, which makes her youth and beauty even more amazing. The boys alternate between aging me and making me feel young. Somehow she always manages to stay young.

Do we drive each other crazy sometimes? Yup, that’s part of being married. But after 10 years, we have a good understanding of why this happens. We have different perspectives on some things, and these perspectives are bound to clash sometimes. At the heart of it, we have similar core values, which keeps the clash of perspectives from getting out of hand.

Most importantly, we can be confident we are not being driven crazy out of malice. When you know there’s no malice involved, it’s much easier to move past any disagreement. She’s never made me angry enough to forget how much I love her. She’s never come close to that.

Mostly, we drive each other happy. I know that’s not a real saying, but I’m trying to keep up a consistent theme. It’s why I’m not coming home wearing a toupee out of the blue. I’m trying to be consistent. Plus, toupees are kind of creepy. I think I can speak for my wife when I say that’s a core value we agree upon.

Five years ago, I commemorated our anniversary with this post: Five Years of Trading Bacon. I probably said it better back then than I am now. After a while, it gets harder to find new words to express how you feel. Also, we don’t trade as much bacon anymore. Three hungry children don’t leave us much bacon for anything. I’m sure bacon is one of the boys’ shared core values.

So how do I find fresh words to express a love that’s been the bedrock of my life for this long? I guess it’s just a matter of bigger numbers and greater degrees.

Happy anniversary to the love of my life. After 10 years, I am more happily married and more in love with you than ever before.

How neglecting lawn maintenance killed the dinosaurs

I’ve figured out why the dinosaurs disappeared.

The answer lies where the lawn meets the sidewalk.

In a word: edging.

Long after the dinosaurs disappeared, I came along. Being a country kid, I didn’t know much about sidewalks and their struggles with the encroaching Earth. Hence, I believed the dinosaurs were probably killed by an asteroid or something ridiculous like that.

As a suburban adult, I’ve had my eyes opened about how rapidly a hungry lawn can overrun the sidewalk. The Earth is a devourer of all things immobile or complacent.

The dinosaurs grew complacent. This is why their bones are found deep below the Earth’s great lawn.

But why? What made the dinosaurs give up their vigor to the point of allowing the Earth to swallow them up?

Dinosaur children.

The Lesson of the Dinosaurs: become complacent and this world will devour you.

Evidence for my hypothesis:

Over Memorial Day weekend, my family embarked upon an edging project. Day one consisted of a little bit of edging and a great deal of children being in the way. By “being in the way” of course I mean “helping.”  They helped by demanding to be allowed to use tools they were not strong enough to lift; misplacing the tools they could carry; fighting each other for the right to misplace them; bringing their disputes to the edger-pushing parent every minute on the minute; tangling electrical cords; placing themselves exactly in the way of progress; and rendering similar forms of useful assistance.

On the second day, I got smart. I let the boys play video games. The big boys didn’t even notice me go outside. Only Big Man held his interest in helping. This left him no brothers to fight. The only one to argue with was me, and once I got it through his head that he wasn’t running the edger, the pace picked up considerably. We finished the job in no time, freeing the concrete from the amazing amount of sod that had overrun it in just a year or two.

Don’t think it could only happen to dinosaurs. Seen any saber tooths  lately?

It all makes sense:

The Earth will eat up anything that stands still long enough.

The beginning of the end for the dinosaurs came when they abandoned their edging and became complacent homeowners. The Earth covered over their sidewalks and then it overwhelmed the dinosaurs themselves as they waited for the children to grow up and move out so they could straighten up the place.

The dinosaurs gave up on their edging because they had too many dinosaur children helpers frustrating their efforts.

The dinosaur children were always underfoot because there was nothing consistently reliable to distract them from helping.

These facts lead us to:

The core causality of the Great Extinction:

Dinosaur culture crumbled for the lack of compelling video games. That long ago, they couldn’t have had anything more sophisticated than Atari.

Think about that next time you lament your child’s affinity for screens.

A group of non-extinct animals demonstrate the safety of a properly edged walk.