Spring!

This morning was the official front porch opener. The first morning I could sit in my rocking chair sipping coffee while Maggie the Wonderdog and the Indomitable Moxie sniffed about the yard keeping it safe from squirrels. Looking back at the postings from previous years, I am amazed to see it’s May 7th. This is a full 5-6 weeks later than usual, but I’m not complaining. I’m happy just to have any spring at all this year.

Last night we took a family bike ride for ice cream. Because, obviously. On the way home I tried to get the jump on 20 Prospect Jr. and started the sprint from the bottom of the hill. Damned if the little bugger didn’t reel me in and pass me in the last 10 meters before our driveway. Yet another milestone on my way to the grave.

Yet not even my slow decline to the grave can dampen my spirits this morning. With the spring sun filtering down through our smoggy haze (where did THAT come from?), I rolled the windows down and put on my Big Star station on Pandora. There’s nothing like earnest, innocent, jangly pop music on a spring morning. It was almost enough to wash away my Gen X cynicism for a few minutes, and feel what it must have felt like to be one of those spoiled post war baby boomers who thought they could change the world.

I’ve always felt like my generation was cheated out of that part of the American experience. By the time we came on the scene everything was in decline. My first formative memory of American Government is the Watergate scandal. My first formative memory of sports is the 72’ Olympic massacre in Munich. Vietnam war, Love Canal, Three Mile Island, layoffs, oil crisis, etc… Is it any wonder we are a jaded bunch of middle age misfits chewing on anti-depressants like JuJu-Bees?

Sure, we still had it better than our folks did. Probably the only reason I don’t keep a ball of rubber bands in the junk drawer in the kitchen.

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Alleluia!

We did it! We survived another winter. Winter’s back has been broken and the Greenland blocking high pressure has finally collapsed!011110_greenlandblock

(Being Minnesotan qualifies me as an Amateur Meteorologist.)

We are set to hit 70+ degrees for the next 4 days. What does this mean?

1.) Prepare for the always startling sight of pasty white exposed flesh. As much a sign of spring in these parts as the first Robin.

2.) Throw open the windows and let out 6 months of stale, germ infested air. (If you live down wind of Minnesota, this is your warning to stay inside the next few days)

3.) Every bike path and sidewalk in the city will be overflowing with barely dressed citizens. (See Item #1)

4.) Get to the liquor store early tonight. Stock up on beer, and wine because it’s time to celebrate.

5.) Light the grills!!!! OK, we grill out year ’round, even in subzero weather, but this weekend it is an official state law that we are only allowed to eat meat cooked outdoors over an open flame.  This is also a warning to those living downwind. (See Item #2)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go climb the nearest tree, and sing my fool head off like the Cardinals.

 

Curl up and die

There is something about living in a Northern climate that makes one prone to odd, self destructive behavior involving alcohol. Spend enough time snowbound inside your house, and you start seeing things. Just ask Jack…

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Thankfully we live in a Northern Suburb of Minneapolis, and not at the Overlook Hotel. Although the recent return of winter is now taxing our limits of sanity. So on Saturday night, Mrs. 20 Prospect and I joined a group of 20 some parents from Our Lady of the Subdural Hemotoma for a night of curling.

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What is curling you ask? Why just the greatest sport ever invented by drunk Scotsmen! (Sorry golf, get over it). The rules are fairly straightforward, and once you’ve got a couple of drinks under your belt they even start to make sense. Basically it involves sliding a 40 lb stone across a sheet of ice, to try to place it in a target, while a couple of broom wielding teammates try to control its speed and direction.

For a sport invented by drunks it requires an incredible amount of balance. Unfortunately Mrs. 20 Prospect found that out the hard way by falling and hitting her head on the ice not once, but twice. (It’s not a coincidence we decided to send our children to Our Lady of the Subdural Hemotoma.)

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While you are on the ice flailing about with brooms and dodging rocks, spectators sit behind a window in the warmth of the bar laughing at you. Seriously.

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Despite the head injury, we had a great time. In fact it was so much fun that we are planning to sign up for the Instructional League to pursue our new found curling dreams. And why not? At 44 years old this is my absolute last chance to make it to the winter Olympics.

More importantly, it will give me an excuse to wear a curling sweater to the bar.

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The Dude would approve.

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Like this post or you’re a cotton headed ninny muggins

Dear Interwebz,

We need to talk. Lately there’s been some sophomoric behavior  going on around the inter tubes that I would normally just ignore. However, it has become apparent to me that this behavior is not going away, but seems in fact to be increasing in frequency. Specifically I am referring to the Book of Faces.

It is a well established fact that the maturity level of the internet is roughly equivalent to that of a Junior High School student. However, as a parent of 6th and 7th graders I must admit that I expect better out of them than some of the behavior I have witnessed on Facebook lately.

This is not the first time that such behavior has become rampant on the interweb. I think we can all remember the early ought’s when the initial euphoria of being able to send “electronic mail” to friends, family, and co-workers resulted in a deluge of requests from Nigerian Princes, disgruntled Neiman Marcus Cookie Eaters, and hopeful Bill Gates email forwarders. I had hoped we had outgrown that sort of conduct. Yet daily I am deluged with requests like this…

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or this…

Support our brave men and women who protect our freedom by clicking like on this post. Otherwise you are a god-damned commie pinko and I will unfriend you.

Support our brave men and women who protect our freedom by clicking like on this post. Otherwise you are a god-damned commie pinko and I will unfriend you.

or sadly, even this…

Little Timmy was born without a head. His dying wish is to get 1,000,000 likes on facebook. Please post this on your timeline, or you are cruel and heartless bastard and i will unfriend you.

Little Timmy was born without a head. His dying wish is to get 1,000,000 likes on facebook. Please post this on your timeline, or you are cruel and heartless bastard and i will unfriend you.

Now before you get your undies in a bunch, please let me clarify that I do not wish for our brave troops to get cancer, or my child to be born without a head. That is not the point. The point is you are all driving me freaking nuts with this stupid crap.

Now cut it out, or I am going to unfriend you.

I am a Consumer! Bow Down Before Me!!!!!

God what a glorious day! Granted it’s only 45 degrees outside, but the sun is shining and it feels like midsummer. Coming back from picking up lunch with the radio on and the windows down felt wonderful. Now I sit at my desk, sipping on my Diet Coke, and munching on my sub thankful that I live in a state where we still have the freedom to drink gallons of sugary beverages without fear of prosecution.

Not to get political, but WTF NYC? Banning supersize soft drinks to protect us from the scourge of beverage gluttony? Can’t you find something better to do with your time? If you really want to clean up NYC, ban fixies, and hipsters. If you’re more focused on straightening out the U.S. fast food industry, tackle the tyranny of Sub Sandwich service.

No seriously, I mean it. Our founding fathers did not birth this great nation so that we had to stand in line at Subway for 15 minutes having an intimate dialogue with a sandwich artist just to get a god-damned sandwich. I think the real reason that Jared lost all that weight was the hours he spent holding marathon conversations about toppings and condiments. Why in this day and age of technological innovation must I still have social contact with human beings in order to eat?

Jimmy John’s and their freaky fast annoying commercials are no better. Sure, they can slap an assembly line sandwich together in 15 seconds allowing you to order by monosyllabic numbers, but MUST THEY PLAY THAT MUSIC SO LOUD!!!! What the hell is up with those damn kids and their rock and roll? I just want to get a god damned sandwich, not be assaulted like the Viet Cong in the Ride of the Valkyries scene in Apocalypse Now.

And stop shouting at me like Norm from Cheers when I walk in the door. Honestly, when is someone going to bring back the Automat!!!!!

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Gravity’s Pull

The full moon was floating like a balloon in the western sky as I drove to work this morning. The sun just starting to add a pink glow to the steam rising from the buildings downtown as I made my way through traffic at this ungodly hour. The Mazda leaned into the curves, the steering wheel tugging back on my hands with a satisfying feel as the interstate snaked through the city. Is there any better feel when driving  a car than the bite of the tires as you enter a turn and centrifugal force tries to throw you off the road? There is something visceral about the feel of speed that will always draw men (and women) to push whatever vehicle they control right to the very limits of physics.

Perhaps it’s the feel of the chase encoded in our DNA from our Paleolithic ancestors running to bring down a mammoth with their spear points. Or maybe there’s some unknown organ hiding in our brain that releases some wonderful chemical when it feels the tug of gravity pulling at it; our moods rising like the tide as the full moon tugs at the earth.

At this latitude we spin at 700 miles per hour oblivious to the tug and pull of celestial bodies. Our earth flies around its orbit at a further 67,000 miles per hour without our feeling the slightest force. Yet the slight pull of my Mazda as it dips into a curve is still enough to excite my senses. Physics is a funny thing. For all we know and have speculated about the forces that move celestial bodies around us we still puzzle to really grasp them in our little brains. Well, I do at least. I can’t speak for Stephen Hawking.

Staring at the heavens our Paleolithic ancestors must have felt the same thing for as long as man has lived we have projected the causes of our struggles upon the movement of the stars and planets. Many of us still do. The stars align, the planets conjoin, and the earth trembles. Surely the center cannot hold forever. Surely there will come a point at which the wheels slip, and rubber no longer grips the road. A point at which we are overcome by one force or another, and sent hurtling towards our demise.

I press down upon the accelerator, and feel the force increasing, a smile breaking out across my face. Until that day, may our senses still tingle at gravity’s pull.

Standing in the field

It was a glorious sunny day on Saturday. One of those late winter days where even though the temperature was below freezing, the heat of the sun was enough to make you unzip your winter coat. So I packed the mutts up into the car, and took them to the dog park. It’s their favorite place to go for a walk, a 3 acre plot of rolling Oak Savannah, dotted with mud holes and woods, and surrounded by a wire fence. The one place where I can take them off of their leash and let them run wild.

Because of the weather the place was packed with dogs and owners out enjoying the scent of spring. There was much running with the pack, and barking, until exhausted they limped for home and a bowl of food before finding a soft spot on the couch to spend the evening. We returned again on Sunday, but true to Minnesota fashion, the weather had shifted, and we now walked beneath steel gray skies. As much fun as the dogs have when the place is busy, I prefer to be there it when it’s quiet. The hounds sniffed around, and explored to their hearts content this old field that was once the home to a farm. In the woods by the entrance, the old foundations of the farmhouse still sit surrounded by new grown birch.

I’ve always been attracted to places like this where the remains of earlier ages still linger in their slow surrender to time. The empty spaces where the vestiges of the past still cast a shadow on the landscape. Whether it is the stone foundations of old homesteads overgrown with weeds, or the crumbling hulks of old factories, I am always drawn to place my hand on the ruins and imagine the lives of those who built them. Did they know how transitory their creations would be? For that matter, do we?

No. No person would sacrifice their blood and sweat into raising up a monument unless they expected it to outlive them. Yet nothing outlives decay. Even the great pyramids will someday become a pile of sand, long after the names of the pharaohs who built them have been forgotten. Go to any rural part of America and you can see farmhouses whose busted windows look like empty eye sockets, the skeletons of an agrarian country that no longer exists.

Standing along the edge of the field I could almost hear the wire fence singing in the wind. Or maybe it was the ghosts of the pioneers who broke the sod, and tamed the land that were singing to me. The dogs seemed not to notice, absorbed in tracking the scent of some animal through the woods. Putting my hands in my pockets to warm them, I closed my eyes and felt the cold wind blowing over the field.  If I listened close enough I thought I could hear their voices through the soft hum of the breeze. Whispering their advice to generations who followed in their footsteps. “Put your energy into love. In the end it is all that will remain.”