Saturday, January 15, 2011

Two Steps Forward... One Step Back

It was a pretty full week. And it was fuller because it was characterized by some 'milestone' activities. And while said activities were trivial in the greater scope of life, they seemed to hold more significance than many of my recent endeavors. (Granted, placing 1st and 2nd in your two fantasy football leagues is no small accomplishment). They carry with them a quality of 'growing up' as well as a reminder that I'll never fully grow up or grow away from the emotions of earlier days/years.

First of all... I got a library card. Library cards seem to have an automatic K-12 connotation, but for me it seemed to be evidence of progress and even maturity. I'm trying to watch less television and I miss reading fiction. So I found the closest branch of the city library and became a card-carrying member.

And, with some eclectic flair, I took home a newly-printed dual-novel of A Tale of Two Cities/Great Expectations by Charles Dickens along with two Louis L'Amour westerns. I've read Great Expectations, but knew nothing about 'A Tale' except... ' it was the best of times; it was the worst of times.'

I am slowly wading through the other-worldly writing style to add some culture to my existence. If that's not mature, than I'm not sure what is, right?

Secondly, I got a new phone. I'm a late-comer to the Android world, and am playing some quick catch-up to maximize the opportunities and utilities of the app-filled world, not to mention the increased convenience of having a high-functioning mini-computer in the palm of your hand.
So far, so good.


And finally, I re-entered the world of some pre-adolescent insecurity* by way of a basketball league 'tryout.' I use that term a bit loosely, but it was interesting to revisit some of the 'will i be picked last' emotions that most kids feel in a playground kickball game. It's not nearly as devastating to think about not being picked to play with guys I barely know, but there's a big part of my male ego that feels the need to prove myself. Even recognizing evidence of pre-teen insecurity in my adult life is significant, I think.

(*Actually, I think insecurity is insecurity whether you are 11 or 50. I just think that the 50 yr old has a more refined ability to deal with [or cover-up] the outside pressures and emotions that lead to insecurity...most of the time )

Anyway... 2010 was a year of a long learning curve. (read: hard year)  I wonder what 2011 has in store. It seems to be starting off 'full' as well as educational.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Home-grown Christmas

I hate shopping.

So, this year, I minimized the store time (and monetary expenditure) by making most of my gifts.

I made my two oldest nephews some mini-bats. My brothers and I had played with similar ones growing up, pitching and then hitting ping pong balls in our basement in a scaled-down homerun derby.

I also made 'quality time' a gift with my nephews by taking them out for a movie and some dinner, as well as 'trying out' the bats in my parents basement.  (*No basements, nephews, or uncles were hurt in the process*)

I also got some raw cedar from work and cut it down for a variety of other gifts.

 One of my favorites turned out to be a lighthouse for my parents. 

Special thanks to my friend Joe. He made his shop and wood-working expertise available to me through the month of December. I appreciated the time to learn and re-learn some things concerning the art of woodworking, and also had a great time hanging out with Joe and his family. He also helped me make some cedar toy blocks for a couple special girls. We spelled the names of my niece, Eyla, and my friend Evan's daughter, Etta, on four sides of the cedar cubes. (I've pictured some, but not all, of those letters)


I've fallen in love with the smell of cut cedar. I also think I've got cedar sawdust permanently embedded in my sinuses for the rest of my life. I guess I'll have moth-free sinuses.

 This was one of my favorite Christmas seasons in terms of giving, and putting intentional thought and time into the gifts made it special. It meant more to me, that's for sure, regardless of how the gifts were received. (Unfortunately, I've had several previous holidays of giving gifts after simply swiping a card or handing over cash). It was definitely a lesson in 'quality over quantity.'

And, given some more time and creativity, it's something that I want to continue in years to come.

A new niece wasn't a bad Christmas gift for me, either.

Snow Art: My Sistine Chapel

The Tools

The Canvas

The finished masterpiece...

Michelangelo didn't have to deal with stuff like blowing snow and wind chills, though. I think I've got an edge.

Actually, I should have made a snowman. It would have been more of a masterpiece, and the snow was perfect for it.

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