Category Archives: Family
From a recent visit to the Chrysler Museum of Art. Humans pictured are family, not random passersby.
So, we stopped to pay homage to that not-quite-most-modern of gods, Television. Its younger sibling Internet was nowhere to be found, but maybe the artist will work on that next.
I’m not sure Lord Television qualifies as king, though. There’s its parent, or perhaps grandparent, Money.
Usually people are sneering when they talk about worship of television and money. When it really is worship, there’s plenty to sneer at and I do. But like those most ancient gods Fire and Story, the reality is more complex.
Isn’t it always? We try to simplify, and the universe laughs.
I’m a big fan of Story. And Book. Fire, too, because light and cooking and all the things made of metal and plastic. But I digress.
I can say I appreciate those gods. Revere some, like Story and Book. Internet, too, if I’m gonna be honest.
I spend a lot of time with them. And that’s where worship comes in. You can say plenty about what constitutes worship, but the basis is time spent and the devotion of attention and thought.
Lots of my time and attention and thought goes into Story and Book. Certainly into Internet – – have you seen how much I tweet? You should see how much I read there.
And I do end up giving what feels like too much time to mighty Television. Maybe I’m a worshiper of that one, too.
If we manage to nuke ourselves to extinction, alien archeologists will likely wonder if our televisions and computers aren’t altars.
They won’t be far wrong.
Children (my 2 youngest, 3 and 5) in the shadow of a gnarled ancient of a gum tree, with an electrical substation lurking behind.
Kind of a metaphor for our world, isn’t it?
As a bonus, the yellow vest is a Batman vest and the brown jacket is a print of Chewbacca’s torso. Geek life FTW.
So, it has been relentlessly, ridiculously humid here (Norfolk, Virginia) for the last three weeks or so. Door frames are swollen, everything feels damp including me, I am super over it, UGH.
Now, I’m not going to complain TOO much because in the wake of Hurricane Matthew there has been much human suffering not so far to the south of me in Florida, and just HORRIFIC damage in Haiti. Here in Norfolk we’re just forecast to catch the edge of the weather as jerky ol’ Matt does a donut and heads back to rain on the Bahamas some more, hopefully much deflated.
But we’re supposed to get seven freakin’ inches of rain in the next two days.
Norfolk is a major flooding area. We’re the second largest US population center considered to be at high risk for damage due to sea level rise. A lot of that projected damage happens when weather conditions cause flooding. It’s gonna flood! Thankfully my family lives in one of the higher, away from major watercourses area of the city — but that’s only personal relative safety. My town will suffer.
We’re far better off than Haiti, but I’m not expecting tomorrow to be fun.
Here’s our 5 year old proudly displaying the first fish he ever caught, just a couple of days ago. Itty-bitty little bluegill — and he went on to catch four more somewhat larger ones while I caught a decent sunfish, a crappie, and a smallmouth bass.
He was THRILLED to have caught more fish than I did. 🙂
When I was a kid we threw small panfish like that bluegill back. I have come to learn that panfish spawn eggs by the thousands, and in small lakes like the one we were fishing in they’ll generate a huge population quickly if someone isn’t eating them.
I’m sure the local bass, herons, and cranes eat way more than our little catch, but we took them home.
Small fish are good practice for my needs-work filleting skills. 5 year old Victor got an education in where food comes from: with my hands guiding his, he cleaned the very first fish he caught, and he ate it as a lightly breaded quick-fried fish nugget side dish.
If we eat meat, and all of us do but our 18 year old vegetarian, we should be aware of its origins, yes?
Also, with such tiny fish there need be little waste. The same light cornstarch & cornmeal dusting and a longer fry in slightly cooler oil, and you can eat the remaining bones and meat like crunchy fish potato crisps. But fishy and full of calcium. Chew carefully. Take small bites.
When I was a kid, we threw the little ones back, even though we often suffered food insecurity in the first 10 years of my life, when we lived in Wisconsin and our main income was my dad’s construction work — which tends to be seasonal, oddly enough, up north where it’s cold as hell in the winter. If we’d had more sense, or less pride, or thought of fishing as a way to get food instead of recreation, we’d have eaten them. Interesting, how our minds partition things based on our life experience. Dad was a city kid from Detroit, mom from a middle class background in a small town in Wisconsin. Fishing was something you did to have a good time, not to eat.
Well, times are tough and my family lives below the poverty line. I’ll be damned if I’m paying for a fishing licence and not turning a profit on it in seafood! (Side note: I’m trying to write our way above the poverty line — look above, there’s a tab marked “Support me on Patreon.” Look to the right, there are links to places to buy my ebooks. Even picking up a free one makes me a smidge more visible on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or wherever you get it from. I appreciate the hell our of anything you might do to make my dreams come true and my family’s bottom line healthier!)
And I hope you’ve had something wonderful in your life recently, something that compares with watching your kid catch his first fish.
I’m still smiling about it. 🙂
This was taken a couple of days ago — you can tell our littlest takes his berry picking and playing in mud puddles VERY seriously.
Berry-picking is also a practical matter. My family is cash-poor, and berries are expensive. We’ve gone out a few times and besides having fresh berry snacks and desserts have put up a good 20 pounds of frozen whole berries and puree. We’ll have them when money is tight and when winter comes.
Honestly, though, we’d pick mulberries even if we were rich. It’s good, delicious family fun.
After a few rainy days in a row, the clouds finally let up and the sun came out yesterday, so my wife and I bundled up the two little ones while our oldest was in school, and we went mulberry picking. We picked twelve and a half pounds, so we have them fresh and sugared and gave some away and pureed a big batch to freeze — they keep very well that way and we’ll be having mulberry treats well into winter. Especially since there are plenty of picking days ahead.
When we made it to the last tree on our berry picking hit list, a grand old giant perched on a hill, there was a magnificent puddle at the top. So while my wife and I picked the last couple pounds of berries, the little ones had a great time splashing and throwing mud and digging in it with sticks and splashing some more.
In order to get them home without soaking their car seats too badly, we stripped them to their underwear and carried the sodden clothes and shoes home in a plastic bag.
As he was stripping down, the older of the two said, “I’m so wet I have to be in my underwear!” (He has a talent for stating the obvious, but I kind of expect that from a guy who just turned five) I answered, “if you’re driving home in your underwear you probably had a good time.”
Young or old, I bet a few of you out there can agree with that.
This is a story that comes, in part, out of my own life and experiences. Unlike David Brown, I am not yet seventy years old and I did not miss out on the love of my life. But I do know what regret is, and I do know what it is to wonder if my chance to have a good life got left behind in the past. David did leave his good life behind, and he’s wondering where it got to, and how he got so old. David’s redemption is in a little bit of magic that he mistakenly left behind at his boyhood home, if only he can find it and figure out how to use it. And maybe a bit in his grandson’s unknowing help.
My hope and redemption, you might (not) be startled to discover, is in writing stories like this. There’s a bit more of my past in it than usual, not that you’d notice if I didn’t tell you. David’s boyhood home is basically one I lived in when I was around five years old, though I didn’t get to finish growing up there like David did. The staircase and the vertigo one gets looking down it are there, if the house still stands. David’s grandson’s room is right where mine was, though of course in the mid-1970s there was no computer in it. I took some liberties — I had to move the creek across the field to a different position, and the creek needed to have a road next to it that never existed. I think the fishing is better in David’s creek than it was in mine, too.
But that’s fiction for you. We have to move some things around to make room for the fantasy. We have to include enough of the real for the fantastic to be grounded in our thoughts and feelings.
And we have to read it, of course. I hope you’ll read this one. David and I will thank you for it.
It is also included among the twenty-one stories in the Not Gruntled collection, which is available in trade paperback as well as ebook formats.