Three Forks Park And Rock Skipping Course

We visited Three Forks Park again today. It’s a great spot, seriously one of my favorite places I have ever been. It has mountains and rivers, basically, so it’s perfect. It reminds me a lot of the places I love in WV, but with panoramic views of the Cascades surrounding it. We are over on that side of the county because Jaime has a clinic shift in Carnation, and without that I never would have discovered the awesome places over there. Today included skipping rocks on the river and vintage motorcycles. If most of my days included those two activities with my kids and friends, I would be happy. Herc and Sarah came along for rock throwing and general hanging out. Arkaedi even said “Sarah” a few times, which was cute. This week she has added blueberries and belly button. So, Sarah is a natural next word.

Throwing rocks in water is one of Viri’s favorite pastimes, and it is quickly becoming one of Arkaedi’s. She was in super cut toddler mode again today. She made for an easy evening too. She played “toddle around and giggle at myself” for a bit, then climbed up into bed and fell asleep. If every day was that easy I would sign up for a thousand more kids. Having gorgeous summer days like today would help too. Although I can’t keep enough water and food on hand for them anymore. The really eat and drink a ton on these hot days. They are Seattle kids, trained to expect constant water falling from the sky, and fresh organic food every ten paces. The desolate wilderness of eastside is a challenge. I’m bringing a full portable kitchen staff next time.

We ended the day with a re-watching of Ratatouille. Viri is at the age where he is starting to enjoy it. We argued for a bit about the rats. He insists they are simply old or wet bunnies. I argued for a bit, but then I gave up. I can’t win an argument with him, and I eventually realize I have been saying things like “No, the RAT is cooking, there is no bunny!” and “Even old bunnies wouldn’t have long thin tails!” to a three year old.

I did get many “I love you, Papa” statements and everyone in bed by nine. So I sort of did win the day. They’ll rest up to challenge me again tomorrow. I’m able to maintain official Papa status as long as I can still throw a rock further across the river than my kids. So, eight or nine more years!


Hierarchy Of The Barker Clan

I’m at the bottom of the chain of command of our family. I realized this the moment Viri was born. I thought, possibly, that I could move up to second to last when the next kid came, but that was obviously ridiculous. I’m still at the bottom. It currently goes like this:

Dr. Jaime, Commander-in-Chief. The undisputed leader.

Viri, Generalissimo. In his words, he is Commander of Earth (where my house lives) and West Virginia, Seattle, and California (which is fun-fun.)

Arkaedi Sue. Pretty Princess and Head of State. All power really rests with J, and Pretty is the figurehead. But she pouts if you tell her that. And shouts for General Bubba, aka Viri.

Ryan. Assistant Janitor Trainee (Probationary)

I don’t foresee any changes to the command structure in my lifetime. Actually, I’d better hold off having kids, because I can only go down. At least now I am fourth, which sounds better than last. If it were the Presidential order of succession, I’d be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton!

(And speaking of that: WV Senator Byrd is third in line now. Wow. I really don’t think I’d trust any of us WVians as President. But, hey, good for Byrd. He must be 137 years old.)

This has been an insane week for our family though. Busy, and rushed. We are all anxious for Jaime to be graduated. It’s under a month away! I will heave a huge sigh of relief. Then get on to my next chapter of Waiting for Jaime.

Carkeek And Arkaedi Lessons In The Mellowness

I spent a very pleasant day at Carkeek park today. I’m getting to be a regular there. It’s an amazing place, and I highly recommend it. It’s quickly becoming my favorite Seattle spot. Well, my favorite non-food Seattle spot. The favorites would be Mighty-O and Wayward, followed by a lot of parks. I would be a liar if I said my absolute top spot in Seattle didn’t include coffee.

The summertime reminds me of the fun of Seattle, as well as the craziness. The park was packed tonight, and people were crazy. It gets a little sunny here and people start driving like maniacs and shouting. It’s like they are suddenly in a film about LA. Relax, my friends. We are still mellow Seattlites, lost in our own thoughts. Perhaps we should mellow? Here, check out a mellow Arkaedi Sue:

See? She knows how to do it.

Speaking of Arkaedi Sue, she is into full toddler mode. It’s really fun. She is racing with Viri, and throwing rocks into puddles. Viri is only a few months away from having a real playmate who can keep up with him. Which is making my job a ton easier. Even with Viri starting the exploration of his big kid boundaries, things have been easier lately. Maybe it’s just the nice weather. Either way, I’ll take it.

Sayings of Susan

I actually used an old line of my mother’s today, in exactly the situation she would have. I was preparing my kids for bedtime, and Viri was fussing. He said the standard “I’m not tired,” and without pausing I said, “Well I’m tired of ya, so it’s bedtime.” I must have heard that a million times growing up, and I hadn’t thought of it in years. It brought up fond memories, oddly. I guess the remembrance of being forced to go to bed is nice, even as the experience was, to my young mind, traumatic.

I do a lot of things differently than my mother did. I would never subject my kids to the bedtime song. (The complete transcript: “B-E-D-T-I-M-E, HA HA HA!” The pitch and speed increased as bedtime became closer.) The song is seared into my head as a death knell, but again I remember it with some fondness. The distance, and understanding of the joys of your children going to sleep after twelve hours of craziness, changes my perspective.

One of the things that is hardest about losing a parent young is the experiences that you have that allow you to relate to them are not able to be shared. Having two small kids, I get a lot of what mom was always saying. Even if I am quite different in many ways in my parenting style, and we are really different in our life experiences, I still come out with some of the things I heard as a boy from her.

Actually, maybe the bedtime song isn’t such a bad idea. I really could get into the HA HA HA chorus.

We Fear Change

When I was a wee punk rock lad of 19, things were different. Crust punks were skinny, not huge. (Jaime: “Maybe it’s a west coast thing? Like the big raccoons?”) Punk rock clothing was random and optional, not available in malls, and emo meant intense screamy music for hardcore kids.

At some point, this changed. I was in the University District today. Which, as I have written before, one should never do. But, this was for Pizza Pi, so it was worth it. It was for Italian Melt Sammichs, so definitely worth it. So, in addition to vegan yumminess, we encountered the giant gutter punks. (Which, now that I think of it, may have a lot to do with Pizza Pi…) And we saw the usual gaggle of fashion shows, from generic hippie (“Peace Love and Wander About Aimlessly!”) to the increasingly frustrating “emo” kid.

I admit, I fear and hate change. So, when it comes to the metamorphosis of the term emo to mean pasty semi-goth kids with horrible indie rock and dagger sharp hair, I am angered and nauseated. I think I may have vomited in rage.

Why did this term escape us? How did they get their pudgy little hands on it? Who lets them out of the house looking like that?

I’ll accept some stuff as my fault. Straight edge was all righteous rage, that turned into strange gangsta hoodlum-core. Okay, we could have seen that coming. Anarcho-primitivist earth firsters were self-righteous suburban kids on activist vacations, we could have guessed they would have flown off to the post-apocalyptic Mad Max gatherings in Oregon. We struck out there. But the emo thing? That was insanely unexpected. (Okay the chubby crust kids kinda gets me too.)

I think there has been a conspiracy. Some CIA guy way down on the totem pole infiltrated the hardcore scene, decided he was mad at his superiors, then started this crazy project with his buddies in the goth and indie rock divisions. They concocted it all, and since it was the Bush years, no one was paying any attention to the intelligence community. Now they are assigned to another department, and we are stuck with Fall Out Boy.

If Obama unearths this and ships every guy with a flop to Guantanamo, I’m voting for him.

Mountains And Rivers (And A Discussion Without End)

I’m really into Harpers Ferry lately. Jaime and I have a continuing debate about where to live and why, and I continually look up Harpers Ferry and get really excited. I like the town, of course. It’s on the Appalachian Trail, it’s at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. It’s a short trip to DC for my vegan food and social networks. It’s got a lot of what I want. It’s too small, really, but with the nearness of everything back east I wouldn’t feel like it. (And it really is small. Not thirty thousand people small. Three hundred people small. After living in Seattle, with a metro area of over three million, that us unimaginable. Three hundred people live within fifty feet of me. )

I miss the east, though. I feel silly for it. I don’t feel like I should miss it. I’m not a history buff, and I don’t like humidity. But the honest truth is I miss it. I need to live within a decent distance of culture and food, so I need a city. I also don’t want insane traffic and crime, so I need some distance. And those green rolling hills of WV…

The cannons are optional.

I have no idea where J and I will end up. I like Seattle, and I could take settling down here. I admit, objectively, that it is a better place for the kids to grow up. Easier, at least. We do have mountains and rivers here, and I enjoy them. They don’t feel the same, though. Here it is harsh, intense and beautiful. In WV, it is simpler. The land is comfortable and human sized. The scale is reduced, and everything seems to fit my personality better. I’m at a loss as to what to do, but I do look up information about Harpers Ferry a good deal more than anything else. Maybe it’s a good sign. Or maybe it’s a chance for me to find something that turns me away from it for good. Either way, we need to decide in the next few months if we are staying here or moving. I’m not up for the decision yet, certainly. Harpers Ferry sure is pretty, though. I need to get a cannon.

My New Favorite Player

The Mariners had a great walk off win tonight, and I got to hear it on the radio. It was a great game all around, the kind of game where you just knew they were going to come through with a win. It meant they took the series from the Red Sox, too, which is always great. (If you live in Boston, congratulations for having a good team and supporting them. If you live anywhere outside of New England and wear Red Sox gear, then boo to you, sir or madam.)

I also have a new favorite player, as the photo at the top of this post will tell you. It’s new Mariner Mike Sweeney. I don’t know much about him, except that he is a longtime Royal and getting ready to retire. But I heard a radio story about him babysitting Mariner’s catcher Rob Johnson’s baby boy so that Rob and wife could have a date, and I was impressed. Okay, so I am mostly a stay at home dad, and I have a lot of love for people that don’t pawn their kids off to daycare forty hours a week, sure. But a major league player volunteering to watch a baby for a teammate? That is first class. You are awesome, Sweeney. You get extra cheers from me.

This game also had some great defense, which doesn’t translate quite as well on the radio. Overall, baseball is the perfect game for the radio, but I do have to check out video highlights of the great defensive plays. It says a lot about me that my two favorite baseball plays are throwing out a runner, and hits after intentional walks. I like justice and redemption, apparently. Tonight had both, with a game winning hit after an intentional walk to Ichiro. I love when the hitter makes you pay for thinking he is an easy out.

This is all I ask from baseball. I don’t need a World Series champion, or even a perennial playoff winner. I just want good games, with some great plays, and some nice numbers to look at in the box score. (Ichiro’s hitting .321, by the by)

I won’t make my Father’s Day game, since J is getting crowned Dr. Jaime the next day. Maybe I’ll catch Minnesota the first week of June. I need to cheer on Mike Sweeney, show him he has the stay at home dad support. He’ll appreciate that.

There Were Times Like Before

I have really reworked my music collection in the past few years. I haven’t added a ton, but I have filed away a good portion to digital storage. Or purgatory. I don’t really listen to a lot of music that I listened to in college, much less high school. I occasionally listen to a song here and there, and Jaime listens to more than I do, so I hear it. I feel like they do not have the resonance with me they did, even the ones I can still artistically appreciate. The few I can artistically appreciate, I should say. The one band I will periodically dust off and really enjoy is Avail. Jaime has a real soft spot for them, since she hung out with them more than me. She even helped them with their Japanese during their tour in Osaka. She has some funny stories of karaoke with bewildered Japanese girls and tattooed Virginia boys that I still get a kick out of hearing. That was in ’98, I believe, which seems like a really long time ago. Of course, I first heard Satiate in 1992, almost exactly 17 years ago, which really seems a long time ago. I greatly enjoyed the first four albums they did, and didn’t hear anything after that.

I don’t know what it is about that band. The music is fun, and pretty good, but they don’t blow you away with amazing work. There is just a consistent quality about the sound, and a relevancy to the lyrics that most punk rock, and especially most of that era, miss. They weren’t exceptionally ponderous or dull, or pseudo-poetic. I can’t take a lot of the early 90s hardcore now for that reason; so much of it sounds like it was written for an English class with an especially pompous professor. Avail was made up of reasonably smart but normal guys. They embodied a style we (mostly) jokingly referred to as “southern hardcore,” and defined how I dressed to this day. If you see me on a normal day, I am wearing Dickies, a black tee, a boy scout belt, with a hoodie or simple fleece zip up. I don’t wear boots as much, simply because I need running shoes to chase my kids. But I dress how I dressed in 1992 when I first heard of Avail, and saw they dressed like me. The only difference is I typically don’t wear the shop shirt. I still have a closet full, though. I could break ’em out at any time.

When my kids ask me about my high school and college experience, I think I’ll be honor bound to point them towards Avail. If I am totally honest with myself, they were the band that I liked the best, and listened to the most. That’s not bad; there are a lot worse bands out there. There are probably better, I suppose. But there are none that my young self more resembled or appreciated.

You’ll Miss It

I sat in on a Conscious Fathering class today, a class that I’m preparing to teach. It was really interesting, with some great information about the first few months of being a father. The one thing I wanted to say to the dads was that they will miss that early time.

You don’t think about it, and you might think you’ll be glad it is done. But I miss the baby smell, and the tiny little person. I’m glad they don’t stay that way. Children grow up, they move away. (Sometimes, as Woody Allen reminds us, to ridiculous places like Cincinnati, or Boise, Idaho.) I’m glad my kids are growing. But enjoy that baby time, dads.