Archive for the ‘weather’ Category

Live Each Week Like It’s Safe to Go Back in the Water


It’s a well-known fact that I live each week like it’s Shark Week. The only thing that changes is the shark. Or my underpants, depending on said shark.

This week is no different, but instead of contemplating the circle of life we’re looking at some of the other fish in the sea. That’s right, it’s review time.

Here’s what happened: A) My last post changed so many lives and made me so popular that I have more followers than I need. I figure a long review post should weed out the bandwagon. 2) While packing for the move I found a whole bunch of unkept promises behind the couch, and if there is one thing that Whit Honea almost always does, it is sometimes keep a promise.

For instance, did you know that Saturnian 1 Sport “… has the world’s easiest balls to grip.”

Seriously, it says that.

I know.

They are pretty cool though. The Fun Gripper Balls (what are you, 12?) are made from soft, durable material that makes “grasping, tossing, flinging…” Jesus, I can’t do this.

Here’s what you need to know, Saturnian 1 Sport makes sports equipment that is easy to hold and throw, and they make them in bright, fun colors. They sent my kids some footballs and soccer balls and they really do love them, and yes, they are much easier to grip than a regular ball.

Now grow up.

Speaking of fondling things, Freehands makes gloves with “flip back caps to expose your thumb and index fingers” so that you can text, email, game and pick your nose while you’re driving in the winter or a walk-in freezer. Except the driving part, don’t do that.

The good people at Freehands.com were good enough (that’s why I called them “good people”) to send me some gloves to check out. They also sent a pair for my wife, which was a nice touch. I really should have covered this during the winter, which, for the record, just ended here last Thursday.

And now…

The Arts

Seattle is well-known for its music, but did you know that one of the best genres here is aimed at kids? True story. In addition to my pal Chris Ballew (hope I didn’t hurt you when I dropped that name, see also “dropping babies“) there are a number of great acts. Take Recess Monkey, please!

Recess Monkey has a new album out this month (release date is June 21, 2011) called Flying, and it’s pretty darn catchy — in a good way. The Monkeys were kind enough to send me a copy, and my boys really dig their funky sound. In fact, now that I think about it, they kind of dance like monkeys when they listen to it. I’m going to assume that this is just a coincidence, but I’ll keep you posted.

 

Here is what I know about Bob Logan: He has a blog called boBLOGan, which is freaking clever, and he is the author/illustrator of the book Rocket Town. Emphasis on illustrator.

Mr. Logan has a day job as a story artist at Dreamworks, and as such he has worked on such animated hits as Madagascar, Open Season and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. As you can imagine, the pictures in Rocket Town are out of this world.

See what I did there?

If I Could Keep You Little… is one of those books that make people cry in the bookstore. I tend to buy things like this for my own mother so she remembers how awesome I am.  This book, written and illustrated by Marianne Richmond, is even more sappy than most — that is to say, if you love that sort of thing you will love this, and if you don’t you’ll try to write the nicest review you possibly can without saying it was just too much for you.

Like that.

 

Aron Nels Steinke is the talent behind The Super Crazy Cat Dance, which is, as you may have guessed super and crazy. There is also dancing. And cats. LOL.

The Super Crazy Cat Dance is for the inner crazy cat lady in all of us, and by all of us I mean my wife.

But seriously, folks, it’s good fun and written in a style easy for kids and enjoyable for adults. Who doesn’t love that? People that aren’t kids or adults, that’s who. Also, dogs.

 

And there you have it, gentle reader(s). Shark Week but without the sharks plus reviews. Next up, a visit from the Green Lantern.

Believe it.

 

I received all of the items mentioned above from the featured companies and/or artists (or an agent working on their behalf) for the purpose of review. I’ve also received other stuff, but I don’t write about items that I (or my kids) don’t like. Negative vibes make negative people, and I don’t have time for that crap.

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California Dreamin’

I was fairly stationary as a child. I lived in the same house until college. Then I lived in the same area for another ten years. I was never more than 40 minutes away from anyone, friend, family or foe. Not that I had any foes, but I did have a love for alliteration.

I met my wife, and on a whim we hit the road. Once the moving started we couldn’t stop — kind of like dancing, except with less alcohol. My wife and I dropped pins all over the left side of the map. We were up, down and then up again. We had U-Haul on speed dial. Our last stop found us just outside of Seattle.

There are things here that we love. There are friendly people, incredible neighbors, wonderful summers, scenic beauty in every direction, fantastic schools and a sense of community that I haven’t known since my childhood. We live in a quaint town where roots are deep and well-watered. It is a perfect setting in which to raise a family.

But there are things that are dark and press against us, and the silver lining has become harder and harder to find within them. The clouds stretch from the sea to the summer, and their constant soaking leaves a layer of cold tucked tight between skin and bone. There will never be enough logs upon the fire.

Seasonal affective disorder comes and goes, literally with the seasons, but with each ebb it grows slower, and every flow seems more fond of shadows than sunlight.  Sadness grows like mold in the corners of our happy household.

The children do not go through bouts of depression, but rather sit beside them and grow restless and frustrated. They do not want to go outside into the cold and the rain, but they would enjoy it if we took them there.  The trips are few and far between. The children suffer secondhand, which is full of shame and lacking in justice.

We have tried to compensate with manufactured light, an overextended calendar and daily supplements, but all it has done is make us face the truth. It is time to pay heed to Harry Nilsson and go where the weather suits our clothes. It is time for sailing on a summer breeze.

Come June, when we are done with school and leases, we will follow our footsteps back to the sands of California. There is where opportunity awaits, and with it a warmth to bask in. Our running is equal parts to and from.

The leaving is bittersweet, and it packs a heavy heart, but the journey should find us nearly healed and the arrival somewhat lighter.

The ocean stretches from July to forever. We are the stones that skip across it.

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Son of Tucson

I was born in Tucson, Arizona. I lived in the area for over 28 years. I ran barefoot through the green-spotted desert as it turned from the square quilts of cotton fields to the oval patches of over-watered golf courses. I rode my bike on gravel-lined dirt roads that grew overnight into car-filled highways. I shot a BB gun in my front yard and waved at passersby, calling to each by name.  I remember when that Dairy Queen was the only thing out there.

The majority of my youth was spent in Marana, a town just north of the city that my family helped to settle and govern. My father has served the town of Marana through seats on the council, and now as the mayor, for over 30 years. Unlike the indigenous vegetation in the area, the roots of my family have grown thick and deep into the clay-baked soil of the Sonoran Desert.

I attended the University of Arizona and graduated without honors. Somebody has to. I met my wife on two-for-one night in a bar just off campus. I was drunk on whiskey, and I’m still hearing about it.

Many of my family and friends remain, meaning my ties to Tucson are more than just margaritas and sunsets, although both are fantastic.

I grew up in a conservative home. The earliest jokes that I can remember had Jimmy Carter as a punchline. We went to church every Sunday, and on holidays my uncles would sit in the shade of my grandparents’ porch, sip iced tea and wrap themselves in layers of racism, homophobia and laughter. I didn’t know innocence from ignorance, and I laughed just as hard as they did, happy but to be there.

My parents taught me things that transcended politics. They taught me how to be happy with very little money, and how to treat people with respect, courtesy and humor.  They never suggested that I consider violence as an option, and when I outgrew religion they never tried to tether me to it.

Ours was built firmly on trust and understanding.

I left Tucson as an adult, and although I’ve returned for weddings and funerals, each visit made it more and more clear, you can’t go home again.

It used to be the heat that kept me away.

And then technology went forward as technology is prone to do, and suddenly I found myself looking into metaphorical windows, staring into a world that I had left behind — a world where many never noticed that other paths diverged, and so they continued along the only way that they had ever known, easy and slow and bending forever backward. The path most traveled is paved without thought, and it has made all the difference.

I found that I missed it less and less.

Days ago a young girl was shot and killed. A judge joined her. The tally rose to six innocents dead and many others wounded. The target had been a congresswoman, full of courage and reason.  The shooter had been a boy, full of madness and confusion.

I blame the line between fear and reason. It zigs where we are told that it should zag.

Of the victims, know that their story is not here. I am not qualified to write words on the victims or their loved ones. I cannot comprehend the depths of their loss, nor will I cheapen their memories by attempting to do so. Just know that I grieve like we all grieve. I anger like we all anger. I can only wish things weren’t as they are and think thoughts of better days for those they’ve left behind.



I once thought of Tucson as a beacon of light in a state of gray and darkness, but in the years since my absence I have watched it grow overcast and haunted. Or, I thought, perhaps I am only now seeing how it has always been.

That’s not to say that there are not stars there. They are many, and I reflect upon them fondly. But the night is bold, loud and howling. It twists words like the wind and wrings sweat from the brows of the misguided. It is spreading swiftly.

I feared that the Tucson I knew, or thought that I did, was on the verge of disappearing forever.

And yet, the stars shine brighter but for the darkness.

Last night I watched a memorial for the fallen. The president spoke. My father was in the stands. There were tears as far as the eye could see.

For the first time in a long time I saw a glimpse of what I once took for granted. What has always been there, only hidden too often by levels of bureaucracy and the sad fact that ignorance and hate sell more papers than rational quotes and the good deeds of everyday people.  Amid the pain and loss of a country I saw the courage and strength of a city, and from its collective diversity came a roar of passion that the media couldn’t comprehend. I saw Tucson’s heart and it was sad, but strongly beating.

For the first time in a long time I saw the place that I used to know.

I saw Tucson, and it felt like home.

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An Early Year Stretch

I’m alive. I haven’t left the building. Yes, there are cobwebs covered in icicles hanging on the hinges of Honea Express, but it’s not like I haven’t been busy.

For example:

My latest at DadCentric – One Foot in Front of the Other

My latest at BabyCenter – 2011: This One’s for the Boys

They said that 2010 was the year of the Dad Blog, and yet it was fairly quiet around these parts. I’m aiming to fix that. I’m not sure what fodder will fall to these pages, but whatever it is I hope you join me for the ride.

The following was Bill Watterson’s goodbye to Calvin, Hobbes, and us. I think it also makes a grand hello.

Hello, 2011. Welcome.

_______________________________________________


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Bad News for Beautiful Mornings

By the time I reached the Tin Man my heart had already been found, touched and smashed to bits.  It was all lacks of brain and courage.

The morning sky was framed with clouds, the morning ground was wet from rain, and the morning paper was full of ads and sadness. I could save 10% off new releases or I could look an inch to the left and read about a 2-year-old child beaten to death by his father. The man wore his gloves laced tight and placed punch after punch to the head of his son.  He claimed he was trying to teach the boy the art of the sweet science.  It landed like a sour ton of bricks, a haymaker from hell.

The news is page after page of death after death and a baseball team that is gasping for breath.  Also, it’s time for back to school savings.

We are all heroes and victims and fodder for the pressing.  We are all clowns.  We are all crying on the inside.  We are all interested in wines on sale.

My Sunday morning head is full of a Saturday night bottle. My coffee cup seats two comfortably.  There is a bird at the window and he tilts his gaze, knowingly.  Quoth Wonka: We are the music-makers and the dreamers of the dream. We show no signs of slowing.

There was a small article about Jack Haley, the actor who portrayed the Tin Man so many years ago.  He is long since gone.  As I read the piece I felt something stir and a need to stop and listen.  Somewhere Over the Rainbow was playing and the timing was both odd and perfect. I sat there with the paper in my lap, memories of coffee heavy on my breath and a view that included hills and mountains and a bird in the window.  The morning sky was full of countless drops of sunshine falling lazily across stretching fields and flowers slowly waking. The morning sky was full of Blue Angels, rainbows and the birds to fly over them.

I stood there and watched it for as long as I could.

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