Cracking a Smile


I have plenty of reasons to smile these days—and I’ll be sharing a few of them soon—but something that never fails to make me happy is gathering eggs from my chickens. The range in hues on the shells is amazing, and the flavor and color of the yolks inside puts store-bought eggs to shame. It’s like seeing the sun on a clear day vs. through layers of clouds.

Despite writing a book about a kid who cooks, I’ve never thought of myself as much of a wizard in the kitchen. I’ve aspired to be someone who follows—and even improves on—recipes to create memorable meals, but my actual culinary skills are … not so much lacking as underdeveloped. But one day I decided to learn to scramble eggs really, really well, and then I moved on to frying. Maybe poaching is next, since it’s something my oldest daughter has already pretty much mastered. Hopefully she can teach me.

My kids would probably tell you that my signature dish is hamburgers. While I do have a go-to house recipe for those, I’ve always found that the most fun is in topping them, and my favorite thing to stack on a patty is, yes, a fried egg. It’s all the more delicious knowing that the key ingredient came from just a few steps away.

construction.JPGDespite having a fancy place to lay (that photo above is me building our coop with help from my parents), my hens have started hiding their eggs around the yard. I suppose it’s my fault for giving them free reign of the yard during the day. They most often now lay them under a jasmine bush, and if I don’t get to them fast enough or I miss a few, there’s a creature in my yard (I’m thinking possum) that snatches one or two away for a late-night snack. I guess I’m not the only one who likes fresh eggs!

finished coop.JPG

Whether you’re a human or a hen or an egg-thieving marsupial, I hope you take some time today to appreciate something that makes you smile. Or whatever the equivalent expression is for animals with beaks. And if you’re so inclined, let me know what it is!

hens in coop.JPG


Tradition Week (Christmas): Not Blogging

Hey all! Sorry I didn’t post for the 26th. I was enjoying the follow-up to a semi-tradition my wife and I have of staying at a bed and breakfast on Christmas night. The next morning started with sleeping in and some eggs benedict delivered to our room, and everything just got better from there, so I decided to make a day of enjoying life instead of enjoying writing about life. And doodling. I did doodle little caricatures of my wife and I in the B&B’s guest book, and I only now realized I should have taken a picture of that for the blog.

My wife slept for her first night ever away from the thirdborn, which was a full night’s sleep 16 months in the making. I slept pretty well, though I got up to pee in the middle of the night and then banged my leg on an antique chair as I was walking back to bed in the dark. The bed was so tall, my wife needed help getting up on it. It had a lot of pillows, too.

I really liked our room, except there was this door to an unknown feature—closet? adjoining room? hallway to outdoors? Narnia?—that was locked and had a doorknob that endlessly spun when I turned it. Anyone or anything could have come into our room while we slept. I managed to get to sleep, though—a couple of times.

In fact, just after we checked in at 5:30, we both fell asleep for about half an hour. We took a nap on Dec. 25. Merry Christmas to us. Later on—after not sleeping for a while—I was reading out loud to my wife (Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan) when I suddenly declared that I was tired, and, apparently, according to my wife, instantly fell asleep. It was 9:30.

Cut to the day after Christmas, when we finally managed to get all three kids asleep by 9:30. Their usual bedtime is 6:30. I could use another Christmas sooner than next December.

Health Week: Breakfast

Health Week: Breakfast

My wife made pumpkin spice pancakes for breakfast this morning, and I ate 10 of them. With butter and syrup. I don’t know if I’m pleased to say that or if I regret it.

As I put a cap on Health Week, I felt it important to mention that, in addition to Movember, October is also American Diabetes Month. While my moustachioed face is meant to raise awareness of and money to fight prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health issues, I figured I could also mention a disease that almost 26 million people in the United States—adults and children—deal with, and another 79 million or so are at risk of developing.

I’m certainly not an active or especially healthy guy. I used to be: walking everywhere, playing Ultimate a couple of times a week, eating OK. But then I got a desk job and married a woman who, as you can see, cooks stuff. Good stuff. Great stuff.

My gut is certainly not her fault. I tend to eat quickly, so I’m full far before I actually feel full, meaning the “maybe I should stop now” feeling kicks in sometime around seconds or so. Plus, I’ve never been a team sports guy, and I tend to spend the time I could be running or enjoying some other sort of exercise reading or writing.

So I’d like to be more active. Wife, when you read this, hold me to it. You all hold me to it, too, if you don’t mind.

And even though I’m prepping to move on to a new theme (I take suggestions, by the way) for next week, I’ll keep talking about Movember throughout the rest of the month.

And I might just have carrots for dinner.

Identity Week: Four Score and Seven Years

Identity Week: Four Score and Seven Years

Abraham Lincoln is said to have said, “Whatever you are, be a good one.” Possibly. He possibly said it.

The quote isn’t as ubiquitous on motivational pillows and Pinterest memes as is “Keep Calm and Carry On” and its unnumbered parodies and paraphrases, but the Great Emancipator’s possibly apocryphal thought is still a popular one.

I disagree, though.

If you’re an axe murderer, I want you to be a really, really crappy axe murderer. Like, the worst there is.

Also—and this is totally unrelated to that previous thought—what if you don’t know what you are? (Not me, of course. I’m asking for a friend.)

It’s easy to toss out a quick “I’m a journalist” to anyone who asks me what I do. I might say “I’m a writer.” If I’m feeling righteously confrontational, or confrontationally righteous, I’ll say “I’m a husband, father, and editor,” though that’s more of an answer to the Caterpillar’s “Who are you?” in Wonderland. Also, it sounds deliberately smug, so I don’t say it much.

But still. If I’m a writer, and I’m to be a good one; and I’m a husband, and I’m to be a good one; and I’m a father, and I’m to be a good one …

This is how my brain works. But it’s worse than that. I’ll get into my own head and start splitting the effort down into infinitesimally ridiculous categories in which I should be succeeding: I need to be a good dad who makes lunch for his oldest daughter while making sure both girls eat breakfast by 7:45 on school days—except for Mondays, in which case the deadline is 8:45 because of late start.

Note that being a good dad at the breakfast thing—which is not a regular achievement, I must say—is different from being a good dad in any and every other possible sliver of a segment of dadhood at which I could need to be good. So even if I hit one, I still have a nearly limitless field in which to not be good. And let Honest Abe down. (Not really, because he likely didn’t say it.)

And I also simultaneously need to be a good husband who’s letting his wife sleep a little longer than usual because the baby was up a lot last night considering his six teeth coming in, and she did most (all) of the dealing with his crabbiness. And all the other good husband stuff, too. And good employee stuff. And good son stuff. And good friend stuff. Blogger. Musician. Citizen. Shark saver and rape ender.

I know success isn’t measured this way—success isn’t something easily measured in any way—but I’d be dishonest if I said I didn’t struggle with the struggle now and then. More so now than then.

Fortunately, I sometimes remember that I’m more than the sum of my scattered parts, and that helps, too, so maybe I just need to be a good rememberer.

Also, Abraham Lincoln (maybe, but probably didn’t) said “be a good” one, not a “great one,” so there’s that. He could’ve set the bar a little lower at “be an OK one,” but I’m not going to hold that against him.

How about you? What are you? Who are you?