Great pluckerin’ googly moogly

Elise decided that Buffalo wings would suffice for a wholesome dinner tonight. She professed as much when I pulled into the driveway this evening after getting home from work as she was swinging Maly in the swing.

So we went to Pluckers on South Lamar for dinner. What used to be a Black Eyed Pea is now a local, hip eating spot, chock-full of beer guzzling college kids and plasma TVs airing the NBA Playoffs.

What would have otherwise been a fun Tuesday night out became Elise and I facing each other from across the patio table, and facing the fact that we’re getting old. Knowing that there wasn’t much we could do about it, we had to sit there and watch our daughter eat nothing for dinner other than two ounces of ranch dressing while using a waffle fry as her spoon.

Tears trickled down our cheeks and we sniffled as we desperately tried to scarf down 20 wings doused with napalm. What would have once garnered laughter and countless beers back in our college days left us tonight in fearful anticipation of both of our next bowel movements.

And then there were the patrons who shared the patio with us on our family outing. I found myself saying, “Oh, awesome! And here come TWO MORE!” We seemed to have happened upon the South Austin Smokers Night Out. I remember a couple years ago when it was passed into law where smokers are not supposed to be 20 feet of a doorway. We were sitting outside, and I think the smokers were playing by the rules as they were at least 20 feet away from the main entrance, but only a few feet from the rest of us sitting out on the patio. Every hot, sniffling bite of Fire in the Hole Buffalo wing was full of a someone else’s wet Winston exhale.

Elise and I sat there, sitting across from one another and recalled the time, ten years ago, when we were the smokers. It went without saying that one day, these smoking patrons will one day, in ten years, find themselves with a hankering for Buffalo wings, a two-year-old child with ranch dressing dribbling from her chin and be subjected to cigarette exhaust while trying to eat dinner.

Although I was keeping one eye on the Dallas vs. New Orleans game, Elise finally said, “I WISH THEY’D TURN THE VOLUME DOWN ON THESE DAMN TV’s DOWN!!!”

I quickly and calmly rebuttaled with, “Don’t say DAMN in front of the B-A-B-Y!”

Chicken fried Spam day

Spam. Chicken fried. In bacon fat.

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Monthly Maly Letter: Month 24

Dear Maly,

You turned 24-months-old this past week. In fact, the day on which I’m writing this is exactly two years after your due date. You blessed us a week earlier than we had expected, which, from a time management perspective means you take after me. If you had taken after your mom, you’d still be inside of her, picking at things on the interior wall of the womb, double and triple folding the umbilical cord and recalling how your due date was supposed to be Saturday, April 22, 2006 and the sky was a beautiful shade of baby blue with puffy clouds in the — no, I think it was supposed to be Friday, April 21. Or was it… no, it was supposed to rain that day and it didn’t because the grass wasn’t wet when we left that morning and it was such a deep green, almost blue — Yes, it was April 22nd…

This month you definitely turned into a two-year-old. Your favorite word is “NO!” You throw tantrums, you defy, you scream, you disobey, you throw yourself onto the ground and bury your head if you don’t get your way and you look at us out of the corner of your eye when you’re doing something that you know shouldn’t be doing. And despite what I’ve told your mother that I’ve wanted to do with you a few times, I love you now more than ever — if that’s even possible.

This month you’ve taken to the all-too-girly princesses, which is very cute. I say it’s cute right now because I’m sure that in four more years I’ll be plenty sick of princesses. What’s so adorable right now is your fascination with the movie Cinderella, and your frequent requests to watch said movie: “Watch Cinderellellellella?”

I think one of the milestones worth noting is your improved dexterity. You use forks and spoons like it’s second nature now. You put Crayon to paper very well and determined. You’re precise when you build things with your blocks. And you do most of these things with your left hand. Your mom and I are both right-handed. Both sets of grandparents are right-handed. But we carry a recessive left-handed gene, which we’re thinking you picked up. It may be too early to tell, but who knows. Lefties are sometimes pegged as different, but I will embrace that difference because it pulls on a special heartstring of mine. Because my dad was nearly blind in his right eye, he had to teach himself how to shoot a gun and draw a bow left handed. I learned to shoot a gun and draw a bow left handed because I emulated my dad when he taught me how to hunt. And you favoring your left hand right now reminds me of that and how special my relationship was with my dad.

You’ve got your ABC’s and 123’s down pat now. What’s great is that you quickly became pretty bored with your 123’s because we’d go to 10, applaud, be done and then focus on our ABC’s. The next night, we’d blow through our 123’s again and then I’d try going on to 11, 12, etc. I guess twelve is hard for you to say, so we’re somewhat stuck at 11, which is okay by me. Whenever I talk to other dad’s and the subject of counting comes up, I’m quick to point out that, “yeah but, this one goes to eleven.”

You continue to let your independence grow and shine. Very often you say, “Maly do it!”, which means you want to water the lawn, blow the bubbles, put the cinnamon on your oatmeal, strap yourself into your car seat and brush your teeth. You’re bold and adventurous, yet understand that you need guidance and protection. You’re quick to bolt out of the house through the front door when we open it, but understand the disparity in our voices if you’re too quick.

You have an interesting fascination with ants and moose that recently came about. A few times when you’ve come to me while I’m at my computer, you’ll ask, “watch movie?” I’ll pause, pick you up and say, “Okay.” You’ll immediately say, “ants!” So we’ll watch some educational video about ants on YouTube. Then you’ll say, “moose!” So we watch some video of a moose playing with a soccer ball.

Shortly after I told you that EVERYTHING is on the Web, you stored that information permanently and decided to test my recently imparted knowledge by asking, “butterfly?” And a few seconds later we were watching butterfly videos. Butterflies are such beautiful and graceful creatures and should be appreciated free in nature, never as a tattoo.

You’ve grown physically so much that it’s so hard to remember you as a wobbly-headed 8.5 pound baby who couldn’t fend for herself. Now you run, dance, ask questions and are trying to master the somersault. Now you’re regimented and have expectations that we’ve instilled upon you. You’re part of the operation, the ship, the ensemble that makes us a family. You’re growing, learning and defining your role in the family. You announce when you poop and when Daddy needs to trim his ear hair.

The other night your mom went to the Parents Morning Out registration lottery. There are a select number of kids that get to be enrolled in “school” by means of drawing names out of a hat. Your name was one that was drawn. We weren’t really expecting to “win” so we’re still in somewhat of a state of shock that in August, you’ll be on your own, without your mom or dad for four hours every Tuesday and Thursday for nine months. So it looks like we’ll be unleashing you unto the world. And more importantly, the church. If you can hold off on pointing out the location and professing from where your farts originate, that would be much appreciated.

But what stands out in my mind right now, is that night that we had together while your mom was at the lottery. Since I broke my ankle almost two months ago, I’ve been a little limited in the rituals that you and I have established over the course of two years. That night was one of the few nights where I was left to my own devices. And for both of us, despite my temporary disability, it was just like old times. You were excited about taking a bath and trying to catch the “vortex” (the water swirling down the tub drain), brushing your teeth and putting on jammies. I think these are things that have caused your mom unusual stress as of late because those are things that you and I normally do.

What was really cute was the part where your mom would ordinarily take over to put you to bed. That night, I had to fill in. In the past couple months, your mom would rock you in the rocking chair and sing songs to you. You have four songs that you like your mom to sing to you: Ocean, Edel, Beautiful and Trees. I don’t know any of these songs. And apparently you know this.

With your head on my shoulder, I rocked you and started talking about nothing, thinking that a monotonous voice would calm you and get you ready for bed. After a couple minutes, you asked, “song?”, instead of a request for a specific song that you would have otherwise asked of your mom. This was of great surprise to me. So I quickly asked, “Okay! What song to you want Daddy to sing?” And, of course, you said, “moose!!!” So I made up a song about a moose named Jeff who had bad breath. And when I ran out of words that rhymed with breath, I rubbed your back and said, “that was a great song”. And then you said, “butterfly!” So I made up a song about butterflies that rode motorcycles near the ocean. And, thankfully, I sang well enough to where you fell asleep with your head on my shoulder. That’s something you haven’t done in quite a long while. Instead of getting out of that rocking chair and putting you into your bed, I just sat there and held your sleeping body close to me for a few minutes. I will cherish that moment forever.

As you keep growing and take in the world around you, I just hope that the good advice and examples that we provide are the ones that stick with you, and that you continue to blossom to be the beautiful person that you’ve already proven that you can be. I constantly hope and pray that I do and say the right things that will stick with you. I hope I never miss that opportunity to impart my knowledge and love so that one day, you will know how to do better than me.

I love you so much, Sugar. More than you will ever, ever know.





Although I don’t think we do it often enough, every so often we have a video conference with Elise’s parents so they can talk to Maly. We’re in Austin and Steve and Joanne are in Des Moines — the distance is approximately 1,000 from driveway to driveway. Steve uses an iSight on their iBook and we use the built-in iSight camera built into my MacBook. Great stuff! I’m really happy that even though we’re so far away, Maly’s Boppa and Gran can see her grow and interact with her.

No good deed left unpunished

I ran up to the grocery store down the street yesterday afternoon for some dry rub to use on a chicken that I’d planned on grilling that evening. I hobbled on my crutches back to the car after making my purchases. When I got to the car, I noticed a cell phone on the ground to the right of my car. I walked over, picked it up and thought:

“Hmm. Someone’s cell phone. Wow! This would be the perfect opportunity to pay it forward. Less than a year ago I lost an iPhone in a cab in NYC and the person who found it made damn sure they didn’t try to find me. Oh, but there was that one time some 10 years ago when I left my phone in a bar. The guy who found it made sure to answer every incoming call and make sure that all of my friends knew he had my cell phone and gave them his contact information so I could call him.”

So I stuck the cell phone in my pocket, hopped in the car and drove home. When I got home, I opened the phone, found the owner’s address book and immediately scrolled through down to the H’s until I found “Home”. I hit ‘send’ and got either a modem or a fax machine. I opened the address book again and found the first entry to read “In Case of Emergency”. So again, I hit ‘send’.

This time a nice lady answered the phone. I told her that I had found a cell phone in the HEB parking lot and that I was trying to find the rightful owner so I could personally return it. Come to find out I was speaking with the owner’s mother in Arizona. She was obviously an elderly lady as the conversation went on for a bit and as she tried to find a number at which I would reach Darcy (the owner). She gave me a phone number and said it was Darcy’s husband’s phone number. I said thank you and told her I’d make to call him and make sure Darcy got her phone back. And I also made sure she had my name and my phone number before we hung up.

Just as I hung up, the cell phone rang. I answered, “Hello?”

Note: I don’t recall every detail of this conversation, but the gist of it was:

“Uh. I was trying to get in touch with Darcy”

“Cool. I just found this cell phone in the HEB parking lot and am trying to find the owner so I can return it.”

“Okay. Well I’m her husband. She owns a local coffee shop. If you’re out, maybe you could drop it by there.”

“Well, I just got home from the store, was going to start cooking soon and hadn’t planned on going back out.”

“Where are you?”

Thinking that he might be willing to come over and pick up the phone: “I’m in Circle C, right off Barstow”

I don’t recall much more of the conversation but do remember him saying, “I don’t even know if my wife’s in town”. So right there things seemed a little off, but I didn’t think anything of it. I made sure he got my name, home number and my cell number and I was kind of under the impression that Darcy would call me to coordinate getting her phone back.

My cell phone rings around 8:30 this morning as I’m driving to work. It’s Darcy. Cool. I can get her cell phone back to her. I was enthused that I would be given the opportunity to save someone the anguish of having lost their cell phone. I’d consciously kept the phone so I could make sure that it made it back into the hands of it’s rightful owner.

Darcy and I made small talk. I told her that I’d talked to her mother the evening before as well as her husband. She told me she was the owner of a local coffee shop and if it was possible for me to drop it off. Unfortunately I was on my way to work and wasn’t going to backtrack toward the house to return a cell phone. And I told her as much. I informed her that I had meetings in the morning, but if she wanted to, she could call me during the day and I’d be more than willing to meet her halfway if that was convenient for her or I could drop the phone off at the coffee shop on my way home from work this evening. I made sure to let her know that I worked in the OMNI in downtown Austin, thinking that might give her a point of reference should she want to meet at a midway point during the day.

She went on to say that she needed her phone, that she uses it, it has her calendar in it and her kids call her on it, blah blah blah. Yeah, I totally get it (I’m thinking to myself), but I’m on my way to work, the cell phone is safe, you’ll have your phone by 5:30 tonight at the latest.

If memory serves me correctly, she told me she’d call me later. She already had my cell number and also asked for my office number, which I gave to her.

Around noon my cell phone rings. It’s Darcy. Cool. I was almost done with my meeting and I could leave to meet her and delivery her cell phone. She said she was about to leave the coffee shop and come to the OMNI to pick up her phone. Even better! I wouldn’t have to leave the office. I told her to just call my cell phone when she was in the lobby and I would meet her downstairs.

Twenty minutes later, my phone rings. It’s Darcy again. I told her I would be right down with her phone. She asks, “but how am I supposed to know what you look like?” To which I replied, “I’ll be the only guy on crutches.”

So I take the elevator down (From my office. Where I work. Where I go every day to work hard and earn good money to support my wife and daughter) and hobble over to the Starbuck’s kiosk, where she told me she was waiting. There’s nobody at the Starbuck’s kiosk that looks like they’re looking to be reunited with their cell phone. So I call the number that had just called me a couple minutes prior. I get the coffee house’s voicemail. Hmmmm.

Next thing… BLAM. No, I didn’t get hit, but I might as well have. Some guy made a mad walking dash and stood right in front of me, his face barely a foot away from mine. A little too intimate, but hey, I’m a nice guy and I smiled.

“I’m Darcy’s husband!”

“Great! Here you go.” And I took the phone out of my pocket and handed it over to him.

He then said something to the effect of, “Just so you know, this is really, really, Really, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY CREEPY!!!”

My inner monologue immediately kicked in and said, “WTF?!?”

Then I lowered my brow with inquisition and said, “How’s that?”

To which he rattled on about how “really creepy” this whole thing was. About how they had asked if I could return to phone to the coffee shop or to the grocery store or to the concierge’s desk at the hotel (the OMNI is half hotel – half office buildings – which in hind sight probably did seem weird: “Hey, lady, I’ve got your cell phone. Meet me at a downtown hotel to pick it up). I don’t recall the request to leave the phone at the grocery store or at the front desk of the hotel. The did twice inform me that they owned a coffee shop and I could leave it there, which I was totally fine with doing on my way home from work when it was more convenient.

The conversation quickly became heated. He said, “look at this from a woman’s perspective.” And again he pointed out the creepiness. Which I didn’t think of at the time. I was just wanting to make sure that I personally saw to it that someone got their phone back. While this guy was berating me, I was trying to let him know that I was no way insistent that his wife meet me anywhere, all the while I could see where he was coming from. I threw out the good samaritan card, which he threw back into my face. It was at about that point that I’d pretty much given up on the conversation. I told him I had a wife and a daughter. He didn’t care. He pegged me in public as a sexual predator. A premeditated cell phone recovery rapist.

I gave everyone involved in this situation up to this point my home, cell and office numbers. They knew where I worked. Approximately where I lived. I went so far as to give the husband my business card. In hind sight, that probably wasn’t a good idea. I was done with this guy. He used the word creepy a few more times and I just walked off.

I was just so taken aback. I was completely knocked off guard for trying to do the right thing. And the way that he immediately jumped in my face and all but called me a psychopath, I was thrown into this innocent defensive mode, trying to defend myself against something I wasn’t remotely guilty of.

I hobbled back to the elevators shaking. I couldn’t believe what had just happened to me. Part of me was still shaken because I was conscious of the fact that at any point during that conversation, it wouldn’t have surprised me if he took a swing at me. And the other part was just filled with rage because I was totally caught off guard, completely unarmed and not aware that there was any kind of paranoia on their end.

And finally I just went back to my desk and resolved to the fact that I was just hurt. I tried to do something nice for someone and was rewarded by a kick in the nuts.

I steamed about it for a while, consulted with one of my friends and then had the whole ordeal pinging me in the back of the head for the rest of the day. I was at a point where I started putting a lot of my faith back into society and then something like this has to happen.

So I hope this guy, Darcy and the rest of their family does their research on me. I’m not that hard to find.

I’m sure it’s going to bug me for a while. And if I find a lost item of value in the future, unfortunately I’m going to think twice about doing what I feel is the right thing. I guess what’s most important is that I’m sorry that this family had to endure whatever happened to them that has caused them to react this way.


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I had my cast sawed off at the orthopedic surgeon’s office this morning. In a word: Liberating.

A couple gross things to note: my left calf has become a chunk of loose, flabby flesh. It’s amazing what 6 weeks can do to unused muscle tissue. And the dead skin I sloughed off the bottom of my left foot this evening could’ve choked a donkey!

The bad news is I’m on a walking cast for four more weeks. Doc says I should continue to use at least one crutch. This walking cast isn’t very conducive to walking as it weighs about ten pounds and is more clunky than the old cast.

The good news is plentiful: 1) I can take the walking cast off and exercise my ankle whenever I want. 2) I can shower instead of sitting in a bath of my own diluted filth every morning whilst throwing my back and hips out of alignment by dangling my casted leg over the edge of the tub. 3) I’ve decided to keep the walking cast and crutches after I’ve healed. That’ll make for generous accommodations at future live events.

So I’m happy the cast is off, even though the boot is really heavy and awkward. And it feels so good to have my leg out in the open air and be able to rotate my ankle — although it’s still a bit tender.

And it’s scary how quickly the accident happened and how long that accident has had me partially out of commission.

So I’m happy to be (sort of) back on my feet!

3 days

I have an orthopedic appointment on Tuesday where, I’ve been told, I’m getting my cast sawed off and getting a walking boot. It’s hard to believe that six weeks will have already gone by since I broke my ankle while skiing in Colorado.

And I’ve been cheating. Although I was told by two orthopedics to not put any weight on my left leg, against doctors’ orders I have been walking around on my cast. Although I’m still slow and have to stumble around, I’m convinced I’m more mobile on foot than on crutches. The downside is that I have to peg-leg around with my foot pointed out to the left as I use my heel to walk. This has taken its toll on my back, neck, shoulders and hip. So after I get the cast off on Tuesday, I plan to make a chiropractic appointment soon after as well as a massage and a pedicure for my left foot. Yeah, my left foot is pretty nasty. I’ll probably need to take a belt sander to the bottom of it next week.

So the past six weeks have been pretty difficult. I’ve taken for granted having four functional appendages in the past. While I’ve seen the good in most people, just yesterday as I was walking into our office building, I caught the reflection from the glass door of a guy coming up behind me. I thought he was going to get in front of me so he could open the door. Nope. Blew right past me and used the revolving door. “Thanks, dude!”

Trotting around on crutches means I have to swing open the building door and the plant my right crutch so the door doesn’t swing shut on me. Getting in and out of the car is always a spectacle. Four weeks ago, playing with Maly was a difficult task. And now that Spring is here in full-effect, there’s work in the yard and around the house that needs to be done, but I’m limited, so Elise’s workload has doubled.

When I wiped out on that mountain and knew I hurt my ankle, I didn’t think I broke it. Halfway to the clinic I thought it might be kind of cool to have a broken ankle and be in a cast again, just like being a kid again. And it was, for a few days. But then the cast and crutches became hindering. And friends, family and coworkers would get onto me about not using my crutches. All the while I hated being partially immobile. I guess I’m an on-the-go kind of guy.

In the meantime, we’ve started to see the bills trickle into our mailbox. I guess we’d quickly forgotten how much of a pain in the ass it is having to deal with our insurance company. Apparently the leg splint that I was put in was not an approved splint, so we’re expected to pay $300 for 24″ piece of fiberglass that probably costs a dollar.

So the next time I break a bone, I think I’ll just set it myself and fabricate a cast with wet newspaper and Gorilla Glue.

What American Idol has brought to our relationship

“Is it me, or is the band drowning out Dolly Parton’s singing?”

“Yeah, I can’t hear her.”


“If only we could get a gospel band for you.”

“WHATEVER! I might not be the greatest singer, but Maly loves it when I sing to her.”

“I wasn’t talking about your singing.”



“Well, if only we could get you to sleep with a dryer sheet in your ass crack…”