Knott Blog

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.

My Photo
Location: Dark Side, The Moon

"Don't you know that I'm still standing, better than I ever did, looking like a true survivor and feeling like a little kid..." - Elton John

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The End

Well, guys, it's official -- this blog is over. I can't really say why, but this might explain a little.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Captain Black Cloud

There's this lady I know -- actually, I am serially related to her, but more on that later -- who used to listen to me when I got in one of these foul, bitchy moods with great sympathy and restraint. I say restraint because instead of telling me to get my head out of my ass as I'm sure she was tempted to do, she would say, "Wow, Captain Black Cloud certainly is visiting you today."
Well, she was right, he did like me pretty well back then, and days like today prove that he hasn't entirely given up on our relationship yet, either.
First off, I ended up sleeping on the couch more or less all night. My son still has his strange, symptomless cough, and the doctor didn't offer to see him as an emergency, so we're still fussing over him in hopes it will improve things. Then, when I got up, all of the power was off. My house is very, very old, and there must have been a stroke of lightning some time last night (or even just a flash of heat lightning, it's so old) which tripped all of the circuit breakers. So, I had to wade down through my basement to the circuit board and reset things before I could even properly shower. Y'see, my house used to be what they called a "spring house." Back before refrigerators, farmers would make a small building right on a stream bed, and let the running water keep things cool for them. The stream ran right in one wall, through a trench in the floor, and right out the other wall -- which it does to this day, regardless of how I try to stop it.
Then, I couldn't find anything at all when I was trying to get ready. Oh, my wife (a saint, blessed be her name) got my clean towel, underwear and socks ready for me last night, but I still couldn't find my shoes, belt, comb, cologne, wallet or ID badge. If I'd been able to turn on the light, it might have been different, but she didn't want the baby disturbed. On the way to work, my car kept making this suspicious noise, which makes me think that my tie-rod is getting ready to let go, a $200 fix. Once I got to work, the woman I share an office with was back from vacation, and neither one of us was glad to see the other. She hates me, and I would return the emotion if I had that kind of energy.
So  I came straight here and read my motivational spam about how "I am the only one who can decide what kind of day I'll have today," and "nobody can make me feel bad, I can only let them make me feel bad," but before I could get to "so I'm going to have a good day today!" I realized that I was going to hurl if I read all of that happy crap.
But I AM gonna have a better day today, even if it kills me.

Monday, July 26, 2004

True confession

I tried and tried to get my older son to take a picture of me that didn't make me look fat. I kept telling him, "try another angle," and "what if I stood over here?" Finally he looked over the camera at me and said, "You know, they say the camera adds ten pounds, and you've obviously been photographed sooo many times before...."
So now you know. Despite all my efforts, I am fat. Oh, not so's you'd notice in a crowd of my peers, but when I stand next to The Boy, who is two inches taller and around 60 pounds lighter? Bingo! Moby Dick.

Oooh... scarey

I cannot believe it. I was sitting at my desk today, and one of my co-workers from the Financial Aid department stopped by my desk. She had this neat little magazine all about federal and state financial aid, and how much your child qualified for based on your income, and how you and your child can increase the amount of aid (both in grants and loans) that you can receive. I thought it was a pretty slick little publication, and was idly leafing through it -- yes, it gets that boring at my job when classes aren't in session -- when it suddenly hit me like a brick right between the eyes.
I am in my mid thirties, and I have a child who will be going to college in two years. No, LESS than two years. I honestly thought my chest was gonna cave in.
Y'see, she's my daughter from my first marriage. I was married very young and VERY disasterously to a lady with some major personal problems (alcohol and fidelity would top the list) for a roller-coaster ride that lasted less than two years. When we split, she went into rehab within eight months, and I got custody. (Not just of her, but also of her sister, my stepdaughter, who is in college right now and making us incredibly proud. But that's another post.) I was already dating my current wife (no wait, that doesn't sound right. My forevereternalforgiving wife, that's better), and as luck would have it, we were already seriously with child. I remember those days very clearly: lots of emotional turmoil, lots of not knowing how we'd ever make it through alive, and not a lot of clearheaded planning for the future. But then, we had The Boy, and things looked up. We got married, we moved back to my childhood home (and still live here!), I got a really great job with the phone company, and everything started gushing out some serious blue sky and roses.
Of course, time seemed to take longer back then, if that makes any sense, and after things had gone well for what seemed then like a long time (and in hindsight seems like five minutes) , we decided to have ANOTHER baby. The only one we planned, god bless us. We were starry eyed, we had big dreams for our children and for the future--
And it all came crashing down faster than you can say young and stupid. My wife had an unbelievably difficult pregnancy, culminating in a mini stroke and confinement to her bed for the final two months. The phone company traded our whole division to Bell Atlantic for some of their wireless territory, and EVERYONE got fired, right down to my boss who'd been with the company for 26 years. My car caught fire -- an engine fire -- and halfway exploded before I could properly pull over. The baby was born with complications, and she's had problems ever since. We spent five minutes consoling each other about five weeks after she was born, and four weeks after that we found out we were pregnant again. I mean, the skies practically clouded over and rained shit for a solid year straight.
We pulled out of it eventually, of course. I got another job, my wife got better, and there were years and years between our middlest daughter and the next one.  (Okay, four and a half years, but it seemed longer to us.) Things got better, and worse again, and better... we lived and we learned.
But things speeded up somehow. Time got shorter. The kids grew an inch every time we turned our heads for a minute. Right now, inside my head, I'm only twenty six, maybe twenty seven tops, because there hasn't been time for the outside to soak through my thick skull to the inside. I think things are still the way they were... until I get one of those sudden flashes like I did today, which is kinda like an icepick in the kidney just when you least expect it. How can my little girl, the one I had on my own (for that ten minutes between practice wife and real wife, natch), how can my sweet little princess be a JUNIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL, for God's sake?
I tell you, it's all just some dirty trick. I don't remember who said it (I'm famous for forgetting the little things like that), but it's still true: youth is wasted on the young.

Just too funny

This is hysterical. I actually laughed out loud, especially since I appear to be the only one in our entire office who knows the difference between a dog toy and a marital aid on a consistent basis. After I thought about it, though, it actually gave me serious pause for a moment. I mean, what does it say about someone when they can't tell the difference between an implement intended for a dog's mouth and an implement intended for a person's.... wherever?

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Pet Population

Let's see: one dog, two cats, a tree frog, two anoles (little chameleons), a firebelly toad, an albino african clawed frog, three aquariums with twenty four fish, one goldfish pond with seventeen fish, four frogs, and an eel.
Wouldn't a chinchilla be redundant?


Kids and pets go together, right? At least that's what I'm trying to tell myself. The older of my littlest girls just told me she wants a pet for her room, just like the other kids have in theirs. I'm thinking maybe dwarf hamster, hermit crab.... a ginea pig at the outside. I ask her what she's thinking; she strikes a very serious pose, finger on her chin, and mulls it over.
    "I know," she finally says. "I want a chinchilla."

Today's Weather

It was fairly nice for most of the day today, but I was still kinda bummed. Today is the (symbolically) the last day of the vacation. Tomorrow it's back to the salt mines with a vengeance. I am soooo ready to find another job.

Smart Mouth son says (apparently oblivious to my presence):
     "I want to weigh as much as Dad..... Only I want it to be all muscle."
     "Hey!" I say. "I'm all muscle!"
     He smiles. "That's what I said."
     He's so lucky that I love him. But then, so am I.

Bitchin' in the Kitchen

I'm teaching my oldest daughter to cook some of their favorites. One of them is the masterpiece we're rendering today, my own Cheapass Barbecue. This is how it goes:
You buy the small cuts of pork left over from cutting butt and loin roasts (around here they call it "city chicken" and it sells for around 1.09 a pound) and brown it in a large skillet. In a jar, you mix half a bottle of ketchup, about half a cup of honey or corn syrup, to taste chili powder, pepper, garlic powder, fresh ground onion (get all the juice!), molasses, brown sugar, white sugar, a tablespoon or so of french dressing, a tablespoon or so of soy sauce, and a cup or so of salsa. Mix it all up and viola, you got barbecue sauce faster than you can say stone broke trailer trash. (But we live in a real house!!! just so we're clear)
My daughters will inevitably break something. I don't know what. This morning it was a beautiful hand-blown glass thermometer, the kind with  the little glass balls full of colored water inside? I think I have a picture -- anyway, she was wiping off the shelf and oops! there it goes. Naturally, we're too poor to have bought something like that on our own -- it was a gift -- so we won't have anything nearly as nice to replace it with. (okay, I might get lucky at a yard sale, around here you never know what you'll find.) Okay, enough with the boo-hoo for me parade.
The girls are in the kitchen banging pots around, which is my signal. I better go before they bust that really nice Braun mixer our Aunt gave us.


Allegedly a day of rest, at least for those who have no children.
Actually, it isn't too bad most Sunday mornings, as there's nothing that really interests the children on TV. They tend to stay in bed, or to congregate upstairs and engage in weird little fights conducted entirely in whispers.
Last night, though, the little guy was sick, so my wife and I were up a lot. He's got a bad cough, but no fever or sore throat; I think he's working his way up to full-fledged asthma or something. My oldest brother had it, but he outgrew it. Or, if you prefer my mother's version, she bought him a chihuahua and "that dog just sucked the asthma out of him." She absolutely swore by this theory, because she'd read it in Dear Abby. I have already assured my wife, dear readers, that we WILL NOT be getting a chihauhua, or however the hell you spell it. We have one furry eating machine already, and I absolutely loathe the way those overbred little yap-yap dogs tremble constantly. It's like living with a meth-addicted soprano midget who occasionally pees on the carpet, just for comic relief.
Anyway, we were up a lot, so this morning started very early. Pancakes and fried eggs on todays menu, with lots of syrup and butter. I figure at the rate we hand out carbs, red meat and cholesterol, they should all be super-vegans by the age of twenty one out of sheer rebelliousness. I have to work a little today, but only a little; if the weather holds up, look for pictures. The kids have a full agenda planned: tormenting us, fighting with each other, and the ongoing demolition of our home.
I just saw the dog trot by with a fried egg in her mouth. Gotta go. 

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Breakfast at our house

2 boxes of cheap knockoff cereal:         $4.50
1 gallon of milk:                                       $3.38
1 loaf of bread:                                         $.79
1 stick butter:                                          $.69
about ten bananas:                                 $2.29
1 pot of coffee:                                         $1.00
Total:                                                        $12.65

Mind you, I'm not griping, or at least not very loudly. That's getting off pretty cheap compared to what it costs for one person to eat breakfast in a reasonably priced restaurant in the city. I'm pretty much already running my own little restaurant -- not only for my own, but also for their little friends who always want to hang around because our house is "so cool."
There's a ringing endorsement for you.
In fact, there is a small restaurant in our fair town for sale, and if my credit weren't so terrible, I might go for it. I'm a pretty good cook, I have lots of experience at preparing several different meals simultaneously (no matter what you fix, there's always someone who won't eat it), and I spend my life rushing around cleaning up after other people. Plus, my wife's primary work experience is as a waitress, which certainly comes in handy around here.
Anybody wanna lend me about $50 thou? I'm good for it.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Twilight Time

I love this time of day. The sky is still blue and beautiful, but the shadows are long enough to hide how badly my lawn needs mowed.

More Weather

It finally did get decent here this evening, and since the temperature's settled down the ground is drying out a little bit. I hope it doesn't rain again first thing in the morning.

Today's Weather Forecast of Doom:

Our weather has achieved new permutations. Today it was cold (and yet humid!), then rainy (and catastrophically windy!), and finally hot, humid, but occasionally pierced with a strong, cold wind. But at least it beats the winters here!

Long Day

We had to go to the city to pay our quarterly tax payment today. $780 is a big bite for our little budget, and pretty much wipes us out until next Friday. The kids were kind enough to lend us some money. (they joke around about interest, isn't that cute?) That will cover us for gas for next week, so we'll slog through somehow.
But, on top of having to visit the "county seat" and the courthouse, my son was doing a volunteer stunt for a charity, and that took a good chunk out of our day, too. I'm really proud of the way our kids have turned out; evidently we learned something from our parents, because they're a lot less screwed up than we were, at least so far. Time will tell, I guess, but like all parents I'm hoping for the best. What else can you do? Anyway, they do walk-a-thons and 5-k and 10-k runs and stunts, and they have to raise money for each one. This time my oldest son raised $100, which isn't bad considering he hits the same circle of people up for a donation about once every three weeks. I'll always be proud of him, provided he doesn't become a politician. I mean really, we must draw the line somewhere, right? (Just kidding. If he turns out to be a politician, I'll squeeze it for all it's worth, natch.) Long story short, he demonstrated once again that he's a good unselfish kid, and got his picture on TV for around 5 nanoseconds.
Then we all came home, and I grilled. My wife has to work, which sucks; I'm investigating a job in town, a non-desk-job (if that makes sense) which rocks; and to the kids, it's just one more day of endless summer.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Evening coming on

Everybody says how good the old days were, when they were younger and things were better. Of course, I don't think that things necessarily were better back then, but what I do feel kinda nostalgic for is the way time seemed to pass at a reasonable pace. As I get older, it seems like time flies by faster and faster without anything good to mark it. That's really a tragedy, too, because when you're younger, you just want time to pass faster so you can get to the good stuff, and when you're older, you wish it would slow down so you could better enjoy however much you have left.
Right now, I'd give just about anything for a few of those long, meandering hours I spent in the days before college, without anything to do. Even when I have time to myself these days, I feel compelled to use it to some advantage, instead of just enjoying the moment I'm in.
So I think now I'll go hang out with the kids, and see if I can find the old moment again.

Whole Family

So there you have them, my entire repertoire (did I spell that right?) of offspring. Not bad for a busy guy, huh? Of course, they inherited all of their good lucks and redeeming qualities from their mother, who has not yet consented to have her picture posted here. I'm working on her, though!
So, to those who wrote me to express disbelief over my number of progeny, I say a big 'so there.' (But not to HR Lady, I love your blog.) I'm very proud of all of them, and of my wife and I for surviving in spite of them for this long. Don't take any bets on how much longer we'll last, though. There's not a bookie in Vegas who would touch those odds.
Now I'm going out to take the little girls for a walk, and take some pictures. I'm sure I'll be posting more of them soon. Maybe I'll even take a nap. I understand they're very refreshing.

Seventh Son

The boy we thought we'd never see. "What a little devil," to quote his grandfather. So far, he seems to be exactly like me at his age. Poor kid.

The Little girls

They're always together, so it was easier to take their picture this way. Both very smart and talented, like their older sibs, but dedicated to true princesshood and GIRL POWER.

Our Middlest

Our resident diva. She knows she's fabulous, and you'd better too. A winner of contests, pageants, and athletic events too numerous to name.

Next - To - Middlest

She's our "special needs" child, although so far as I can tell those needs amount to mind-warping video games and goofy anime tv shows. We love her, and she manages to tolerate us quite nicely.

Oldest Son

For a long time, he was our only boy. It's made him a bit (*cough* understatement! *cough, cough*) headstrong, but he's amazingly smart and good in school.

Oldest Daughter

The oldest, and most in command. She babysits, washes dishes, and rules with an iron fist. Next conquests: cars and boys.

Day Off

Wow, a very rare day off. With pay, no less.
Of course, the place I work (the med school) has such an aura of draconian repression about it that I actually spent the early morning hours (5 AM - 6: 30 AM) worrying about whether I'd get in trouble for taking the vacation days. That's when I'm usually getting ready to go to this job, provided I haven't worked the other one the night before.
Oh, I jumped through all the hoops: first I asked my boss, then I called and asked the HR Overseer Lady. I was going to take it off unpaid and just work extra time at the factory job, but HR Overseer Lady said that's bad, it counts as absentee time whether you have permission or not. Take vacation days instead. Okay, so I go back to my boss with a memo saying I would like some vacation days, please (think Oliver Twist asking for more gruel), and he says okay if HR Dragon Lady says okay and Office Manager Dominatrix says okay too. So, I copy the memo off to Dragon and Dominatrix. The nice Dominatrix lady came tottering over on her four inch spike heels (bad if you're not height/weight appropriate, kids) and gives me signed approved copy of my memo from HER boss. So, now I have a signed okayed copy from my boss, from the Dominatrix, from the boss of the Dominatrix, but nothing from HR Whipslinger Lady. So I said screw it, I know she got the memo, I'm just gonna proceed on faith. Plus I didn't tell the other woman who works in my office with me, which will probably be what gets my tender parts caught in the vise again. She hates the idea that I get vacation now (especially without having to beg her for permission, too!) and last time she screamed -- and I do mean screamed -- at me for ten minutes about how I didn't deserve a vacation, and the fact that I had a second job was keeping her from getting one, and how completely selfish, inconsiderate and pigheaded I was for breathing in the first place. So this time I just didn't tell her. Screw it.
I'm soooo very ready to quit the day job, but it really keeps the money coming in, and it has health insurance (really crappy medical insurance, mind you, but insurance just the same), and I'm just frankly scared to be without it. I'm supporting eight other people, and responsibilities like that can do strange things to your mind.
But this is the last time I'm going to even think about it between now and Monday morning. After all, if they fired me, at least I wouldn't be able to blame myself for quitting, right?

Go See Bubby!

She beats the pants off Dear Abby in my book. You can read her advice to me in the July 12th post.