Kansas City, you done us right

I put in a full day preparing the house for winter. This included vacuuming out the cold air intakes, changing the furnace’s air filter and putting on our storm windows. The windows take the longest. After about four hours I told C_ that I loved her as I went out to put the final storm window on. It’s in the backroom and I call it “the widow maker”.

The “widow maker” is a multi-step process. I slide the window out from inside the second floor and pull the bottom part of the window into place, using three hooks to secure the bottom portion of the window. Unfortunately I cannot hang this window, so it is an ass backwards approach. I climb high up on my ladder that is placed on our uneven brick patio and pound the top portion of the window into place with a rubber mallet. It’s not as bad because I have the method wired down, but back in the day it had “dumbass” written all over it. As in, “What was that dumbass thinking when he crawled up there and broke his neck?”

The night before we got back from Kansas City, Missouri. Such a frickin’ awesome town. We stayed with our good friends Rachel and Gabe and their delightful children Dexter and Vivian. I posted a bunch of photos from the trip over at my Flickr account. I’m not going to do a blow-by-blow account but I will touch on the highlights in list form. The easiest way to digest.

Thursday afternoon, arrival.

  • General settling in and much talking. Gabe and I got dinner from a burger joint. While we were “waiting” for our food we each had a stout with a nitro push. Delicious. Nitro makes stout beer go down like water.
  • General plan making for the next day and evening.

Friday, time to get busy

  • The early part of the day was spent shopping about, getting lunch and eating it amongst gigantic shuttlecocks.

Friday night, Union Station, Art walk, The American Royal

  • Left Rhen with Rachel’s mom. Be good! Much fretting by C_. Rhen did awesome. He cried a little bit and then settled down for pizza, some videos and a small nap. We took in Union Station, the second largest train station in the U.S. and had cocktails at Pierponts. A swanky lounge place inside of Union Station. My favorite part was when our waiter said to Gabe, “Sir! Your drink is dangerously low. May I bring you another one?” Duh.
  • The art walk! This is where things get a bit dicey because Gabe and I are sort of drunk and we need to plan things out for the American Royal. We’re having a great time! Kansas City does us right. Sure they love barbecue but they’re also incredibly talented. Rachel sums it up best. “It’s better than Seattle because it’s undiscovered.” No pretentious passive aggressive assholes talking about their Netflix accounts. C_ and Rachel stop at a little greasey spoon diner deal to have dinner. Gabe makes multiple phone calls to people. A short aside about Gabe. He’s the lead programmer for a company called LabelMaster. Watching Gabe solve problems is a little like watching someone turn lead into gold. He can manage groups with ease and confidence. I never worry about anything when I’m with Gabe. He’ll just do it and the plus is that he’ll even take time to show you how to do it yourself. So he coordinates meeting times with Dennis (Rachel’s dad) and his friend Brian (who looks a little like George Costanza). The four of us will rock the American Royal. The largest BBQ festival in the U.S.
  • The American Royal. Brian describes it to me as the “Mardi Gras of Meat”. It’s basically laid out like this, you pay admission to get into the festival grounds and then you mill about. There are like, 100 private parties going on at once. Dennis is a chemist for Bayer(?) and gets us into the Bayer party. We head there to load up on free beer and BBQ. The rest of the night is spent going from party to party–drinking, talking to people from all over the world, looking at cool smokers, fireworks and dancing with women! The four of us bond at the “booze luge“. A 300 pound block of ice with channels carved in it. A guy at the top pours the shots down it and you place your mouth at the bottom and receive it. We all took one. I remember a lot of camera flashes going on. Gabe and I walk home from the festival. The phrase, “ass-raped” is repeated often as we trudge through the streets of KC. I partied like I hadn’t partied in 18 mos.
  • Saturday morning, Block party breakfast and KC marathon. Haha. We didn’t enter the marathon but we did watch it from Gabe and Rachel’s neighbor’s porch. They had a breakfast block party deal. I traded between swigs of coffee and a Bloody Mary. Gabe managed the kid undercooking the waffles. What did I tell you about him? He’s a natural teacher. I like it because he never makes people feel stupid while showing how it’s done. Gabe and I also go to Bo Lings, a Chinese restuarant where I order chicken feet. I don’t want to go into it. Let’s just say chicken feet suck. Let also be known that I develop a deep appreciation for Aqua Teen Hunger Force on this day too.
  • Saturday night, grilled steaks. Gabe grills up massive steaks for us. I love meat. I love Kansas City. I love our hosts. Love love love! Dennis comes over to join us and makes a delicious bernaise sauce. He also brings over a bottle of wine and shows me how to use his fancy bottle opener. I fidget around with it because I feel like I’m on the spotlight (afterall, he is chemist) but he’s a good teacher and shows me how to do it right. He makes C_ open the second bottle of wine with it. She does a much better job of it. I eat my steak and half of Gabe’s. In the middle of the meal I proclaim that I feel human again.
  • Sunday morning. Light breakfast and mass amounts of coffee. We’re hitting the road as soon as we get our shit together. The car is leaking oil for some reason and I obsess over it quiety in my mind. Rachel’s mom comes over before we leave and tells us a charming story about Rachel as a child watching Saturday morning cartoons. Basically, Rachel calls it like it is. No way the coyote would still be alive. Everyone is in a good mood and rightfully so. It’s hard work travelling with a toddler. Rhen does a super job of it but he’s missing home. We take a group picture and say our goodbyes. Sniff. We ride out of Kansas City completely satisfied. KC is a great town but our hosts make it the best part. That’s the secret about travelling to a new place. It’s about the people, the town just compliments them.
  • Sunday afternoon/early evening. Somewhere in Iowa. C_ is using the bathroom and Rhen and I are walking around the rest stop parking lot. We stop by a Harley Davidson motorcycle. The owner gets on and smiles at us and tells me to put my kid’s ear muffs on because he’s about to make some noise. I tell him to rev it up. He laughs and tells me about how cold it’s been since Ames, Iowa. I agree. He’s revving his engine and telling me about using his camera phone while riding his motorcycle. Rhen is completely fascinated by the bike. This is what I love about travelling. Just talking to strangers you meet on the way. There’s no reason not to. Like Evan Dando sang, “You might have to talk to a park ranger, when you visit a park.” And that sums up my KC visit. I liked the big city. I liked talking to all the great people at the American Royal. During the American Royal I spilled my guts to Dennis. I told him I was adrift. Looking for something. Working at Target, obviously is not the answer. I asked him about why he became a chemist. Later on he asked me, “So Ted! What’s the answer?” This was at the Australian party. I told him I wanted to write a book, but not until I was forty because it seemed like a definitive age. Perhaps it is my way of looking forward to an age most people dread.

Reading over this post I find it to be the blow by blow account I wanted to avoid. I think it’s more for me than you, because I don’t want to forget. KC is a beautiful city. Full of great people. I look forward to our next visit.

Now if I could only keep this mofo going

Huh? Two posts in one week. Not too shabby considering the last time I regularly updated this blog the world was celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall.

According to the so called stats package that tracks traffic on my blog, there were 865 unique people that visited my site last month. And I appreciate each and everyone of you that stopped by. Just like Fred Rogers said, “I like you just for being you.”

The scary part is that 865 people showed up at tedfoo.net last month expecting something. Not a post dated 2 months ago. MIA. 865 people is about 8 mega-sections (auditorium-sized classrooms) at a university. On average about 3 to 5 people make a comment on my blog, which keeps in line with my university mega-section analogy. A mega-section is the sound of 100 hung over college students sleeping and 5 non-traditional students voices occassionally booming over the hushed snoring, sometimes waking the professor holding the early morning nap session.

The problem is Flickr. The comment stream is pretty much where I blow my creative writing wad each day. So, unless I have a paragraph long insight on an alternative band from the 90s or Rhen does something incredibly cute, I’m pretty much tapped out. Nothing left to do except surf blogs that are more prolific in the writing department and not wasting their time on Flickr.

Speaking of mocha. I quit drinking coffee in order to save my delicate Ming vase of a stomach from further upset. It was easier than I thought. I’ve been drinking one cup of tea each morning as a pathetic substitute. I’ve gone through terrible lengths to convince myself that I like it. It’s good if I dump a pound of sugar into my cup. Really really good.

Now for the family business. So thanks Paula. I’ve been using the Twinings out of the tea bus you got me for Christmas.

Oh. And shortly you will have what you’ve been seeking. When are you coming down for a visit?

Happy mother’s day! Vroom-vroom!

Hi Mom! I hope you’re enjoying your day. Thank you so much for everything you do. Your support and love is unconditional. Such a great gift to receive each day. Thank you. I love you. Now, let’s take a look at a couple of pictures of Moms and their g-rides.

Mom!

Mom on the farm. Way back.

Here’s one of my favorite photos of C_. To me, it’s the very essence of suburban life:

Cul-de-sac. Check.

Go-Kart. Check.

Devil-may-care attitude. Check.

Gokart Mom!

C_ rockin’ the suburbs.

Sick Chick and Upgrade Twitters

I did the noble thing and opted out of the Merry Murray Christmas Celebration. I’m a sick chick (again). Most people would say you shouldn’t let a cold stop you from living your life. To that I say, bullshit. If you’re a frequent reader of my blog you will know that I am the drama queen of sickness. It’s my right.

So, I decided to do a little upkeep and upgrading around the house and online. Assembled Rhen’s toy storage rack (9 mos. old and he already has 12 bins full of toys) and upgraded to WordPress 2.0 (more on that later).

Leisure pursuits of the day have been spent watching the digitally remastered version of Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining. Wow. It is sooo good. Remastered, Kubrick’s choices of color/tones (everything has just this creepy precise glow) and sound just come screaming out of the screen. Chilling to say the least. So Paula, come down and we will watch. So good! Yes, I’m gushing. Oh and Nicholson? Yeah, I’m a believer again. Especially the bar scene. I’m watching it right now. It’s my favorite part.

All twittery upgrading to WordPress 2.0. I broke the site for like, 10 minutes because I forgot to copy a new folder over to the root directory. Oops. So, when I deleted the old directory and uploaded the new one I said a small prayer to whatever saint loves geeks and refreshed the path to the upgrade file. All systems go. And for that I was glad. Like I said, I am sick and didn’t know if I had the personal energy to troubleshoot anything more than a broken file path. Even the thought of the upgrade made me shake and sweat a little. I had some fun though. I backed up the entire site before the upgrade and I even backed up my database as recommended by the good folks at WordPress. All new to me. They have the best instructions. See the WordPress Codex if you have any questions about upgrading to 2.0.

I’m still reeling at this digitally remastered version of The Shining. The bathroom scene where he makes out with the dead decaying starlet. OMfG. The creepiest green and yellow ever. I just got chills. People you need to see this version if you love horror, Kubrick or The Shining!

Ending this post without gushing about the movie is becoming harder than I thought.

So, I would like to take this time to wish all of my readers a very happy New Year. All the best from our family to yours. Cheers!

Our Personal Holiday Best


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Hey hey! The Christmas juggernaught is almost, almost over. We celebrated the end of the insanity Monday afternoon by leaving my Aunt’s Christmas party early, but then suddenly realized that we still have C.’s extended family Christmas event on New Year’s Eve. So that’s four, and that is a new record for us. At least I think it is, and plus it feels more like twenty-two with child in tow. A child is nice to duck behind during awkward conversations. Yep, a child makes the perfect accessory for any family function. Get yours today.

Teddy and Rhen in the Xmas spirit.
Rhen and I getting in the spirit of things. My mom, drunk again.

Over the holidays, we enjoyed the company of my brother Patrick, and his wife, Alisa who came far from Seattle. We also were fortunate to have my sister and her husband join us. Paula and Terry, who just came down HWY 61 from the Twin Cities, not as far as Seattle, but an equally grueling journey.


Long lost brother and sister-in-law, found in the basement!

Lots of family. Nice to see. I think next year I would seriously consider stepping off the Christmas train. It’s almost too insane and I think Rhen amplified that feeling with his needs. It’s enough to keep it together when it’s just you, but add a child, and you add a whole new pepper to the salsa. Ha. I just made that up and I’m not deleting it. Maybe it’s time to start our Christmas tradition. Well, definitely when Rhen is older.

Teddy and Rhen flopping on floor
Dad and Rhen, fighting off “The Silent Cone of Holiday Madness” by rolling on floor and ignoring people

The entire holiday event weekend (I haven’t fogotten the Murray party) ended with a drive in the country. Rhen fell asleep coming back from my aunt and uncle’s Xmas bash so we decided to extend it by driving around the county. It was nice to chat about the weekend and unwind. We drove by Blackberry road. It’s a long low maintenance road near my parents house that winds up to the ridge. Last week a meth lab burned towards the top of Blackberry Road. A young man was arrested. Winona County has many of these township roads that I’d imagine make ideal locations for cooking crystal meth. It’s a complete bummer to think about because Winona County is a beautiful area.

Melanie and CPR mask
Melanie helps her mother with a CPR mask. No need to panic, it was a gift. Melanie is a registered nurse.

Well, that’s about it. Looking forward to the new year, like OMG, the past year was a total blockbuster for C. and I! I’m sure it will only get better from here out. So, from our family to yours, we wish you the best of luck in the new year and your continued happiness and success.