Friday, July 31, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Really, Really Hot. Seriously.

So, I worked all day taking care of children at a campus that was, literally, as hot as a thousand suns all rolled into one and placed in a Frydaddy and deep fried then shoved into a bottle of tabasco then fed to me. Absolutely literally.

It was hot. The thermometers on campus got to 103, apparently. That is hot. Normally shy Bastyr girls were wearing nothing but pasties made of ice and a few sprigs of parsley. Which was fun, sort of, until you realize that most of them are insane and would scream at you for nothing. And when you realize that it's 103, and you don't want anyone near you in the first place.

We survived today, though. I actually think we may go to the zoo tomorrow, which shows either my commitment to the kids' fun or my lack of sense. I have plenty of both. Good luck to me! And my poor kids!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Arkaedi And Pretty Illness

We had one of those parent nights last night, with Arkaedi Sue puking on us and keeping us awake. It happens. Thankfully Viri decided to sit this one out, and after rolling over to see what the commotion was, cuddled up to his baby doll and went to sleep. That's my good lad.

Arkaedi managed to be pretty throughout, of course. The ability to remain pretty with vomit in your hair is incredible. I salute her commitment to the prettiness.

Things like this make me glad we are in the situation we are. I stayed home from work, fixed some oatmeal with an herbal concoction that Jaime prescribed, Arkaedi is napping, and we are sailing through the morning. Being mostly a full time Papa has some huge advantages, and flexible part time work is one of these.

I hope she is okay today. I definitely get into crazy father territory with Arkaedi. I can deal with Viri, but Arkaedi inspires an insane amount of protectiveness. Oddly, I worry about her less: she just seems so solid and strong. But when there is cause for worry, however slight, I get nuts. I've been monitoring her like an ICU doctor all morning. She finally just gave up and grabbed her phone and baby doll and plopped down in my lap. I guess she figured if she was going to be under my watch all morning she may as well just sit down and make a few phone calls.

So, back to watching over my sleeping princess. Get better Arkaedi Sue.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cougar Mountain

We had a much needed family fun day today. We hiked around Cougar Mountain. It's awesome, and has an amazing view of Lake Sammamish. The kids walked around. (Arkaedi Sue: "Walk? Walk? Walk? Outside? Outside? Outside?" ad infinitum)

I love our family days. We haven't gotten so many lately, for various reasons. Mostly NPLEX board related. That is down to the last few weeks though, so once Jaime passes, life will get way more fun. Or funner. If you like the sound of that better.

Cougar Mountain is a place that makes me wish my dad lived here. It's totally his kind of place, a huge park, woods, views of the mountains and the lake. We could easily spend days hiking there, checking out the animals and the birds. There are pine martens and muskrats as well as cougars and bears! (Mostly pine martens and muskrats. Still...pretty great.) I was interested in the variety of birds we could see and hear. I have to get him out here so we can check it out. My dad would really enjoy my old man hobbies. My kids already think I'm crazy.

They did like the woods though. They got a little tired, hiking on the mountain paths. (Viri: "Can we go home? It's really steep.") But they had fun, and were sound asleep by the time we drove back home. We made a slight detour to South 47 Farm, and J picked a bunch of fresh herbs. I still smell basil and lavender. Which is great. In fact, here is some lavender. Just smell the screen. Mmmm.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Conversations I Wish I Could Have Heard

You know they each said something cool.

Browsing. The Final Frontier.

I'm not typically one to gush over new features. I usually don't care at all, in fact. But I have to say I am really excited that the new version of Safari is set up to look like some science fiction spaceship.

You can chose among a series of little windows showing your recent history. It's really cool looking. I don't know how practical it is, I just got it. But along with all of my music being available at one touch, this continues Apple's success at making my Star Trek gadgets come to life. I'm expecting iPhaser and iTransporter by 2012, Apple. Do not disappoint me.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dinosaur Throws Out The First Pitch At Sox Game

Sports Videos, News, Blogs
Now if he could eat the person who let it be named "US Cellular" Field...

Charity Work At Blessed Sacrament

Our Hearts Should Do This More

I sit in the streets with the homeless

My clothes stained with the wine

From the vineyards the saints tend.

Light has painted all acts

The same color

So I sit around and laugh all day

With my friends.

At night if I feel a divine loneliness

I tear the doors off Love’s mansion

And wrestle God onto the floor.

He becomes so pleased with Hafez

And says,

“Our hearts should do this more.”


This past Sunday I worked at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic church's soup kitchen, with a group of my fellow darvishes from the Sufi house. It was really interesting, strange work. We served a really nice meal to hundreds of people, and I poured gallons of coffee and fruit punch. A large part of our order is chivalry, how we treat others, and these periodic efforts in the community are a way to perform some good service together, as an order. Different houses, or khaniquahs, do different things. We help out at Blessed Sacrament.

I was impressed with their operation. Say what you will about the Catholic church and its problems and faults; they can pound out the charity when they want. The whole thing has been going on for a few decades there, and they have it down to a science. We were neatly plugged in and the day just flew. There were a few elderly people who were skeptical of us; I've never met so many people who had never heard of Sufism. We explained simply and politely, and they politely left us alone. They were glad for the help, I think, but they never did get why we were there. Maybe they thought we were a Sufi gang doing community service. (I want a jacket that says the Darvishes!)

The people who came to the kitchen where all types, but mostly who you would expect. Mostly men, middle aged, with varying degrees of problems. A few people had to be asked to leave, but by and large they thanked us and ate in peace. It was mostly white, but there were a lot of Native Americans, which was sad and alarming. Considering the total population in Seattle, to see so many so down on their luck made me really ashamed of my ancestors. (You know who you are, 17th and 18th century Barkers! Not you, mom's side. You're Irish and came here in 1920. We're cool.)

It was really great to be of help. We do so much for ourselves, and so little to help out others, and when there is a direct and obvious way to just give out food and keep people fed, it feels great. All of the darvishes who showed up, even with their own families and busy schedules, are amazing. The Master asked us to perform this small service, and many of us did. Those who made the effort, they inspire me to be a better darvish, and they make me proud to have started on this path.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

West Seattle Summer Fest! Everybody Fest!

One of the things I love about Seattle is that there are always things to do. There are things and stuff, and even junk to do. Today we went to the West Seattle Summer Fest. I don't think that is the official name, but that's generally what it was. It's a street fair, with music and food and crafts and such. Herc got a donkey load of records, which Arkaedi is probably really looking forward to pushing back against the wall, Viri got to ride a giant inflatable bouncy slide, everyone had fun.

Speaking of those giant slides, when did they become ubiquitous at every event on earth? The kids love 'em, and they are really great. But they are a parent torture; you have to say yes to them. And you usually have to pay. And it's low enough that you can't really justify saying no. At least I got nice words out of the deal. ("May! May I want to ride the giant bouncy slide please Papa? May?" "Um, yes. You may want to.")

We had a good time, and I love having the chance to get out and do this. There were multiple events this weekend, actually, including milk carton races and a U district street fair. We picked this one, because I get to use my MST3K Soultaker references aplenty. (There is a vague fest in that show.)

Oh, and check out this picture! Pretty Sue, courtesy of the Smartz family! Thanks guys!I love when I get random photos of my kids. Especially Arkaedi, who is less well documented than Viri. The curse of being the second child, and less of a ham than the first. Of course, Viri post-Arkaedi is poorly documented too. (I say, as I write the newest blog post on them...wait...)

Now, everybody fest!

Friday, July 10, 2009

I'm Having Fun Fun, Old Man!

I probably have a lot of weaknesses of which I am totally and blissfully unaware. In fact, I am sure that I have. There is one weakness, however, that I and everyone I know are well aware that I suffer from: I am attached at the hip to my kids. So, today, Viri is off playing at the beach with a friend. This is a great thing, he'll have a great time, and I am reminded that I don't need to micro-manage my children.

For some reason, it's especially difficult with Viri. Arkaedi is younger, but she seems so stable. She seems so tough. She is my baby girl, but I sense her strength in everything she does. She even sits at the top of tall slides with a confident swagger.

Viri has strength too, of course. He just seems fragile from certain angles. He will do great things, I know. But he needs support. I want to provide him with all of that support and more. People don't always get him. He's odd, I admit. But I don't want people to confuse that oddity with problems. He is very sweet and smart. He is definitely an avatar of justice, and he wants to make things right. At three, that can be obstinate, or whiny. At thirty, it will be leadership. He's a better man than I'll ever be, and I want him to have the chance to realize that greatness.

As Arkaaedi Sue sleeps peacefully on me, I am happy to have this chance to let him go out and be an independent little boy. I want to write this down, to remember how blessed I am. I have a sweet daughter cuddled to my chest, a great and wild boy running around on the beach with friends. I also have, hopefully, the sense to let them go when they need to go, and shelter them when they need protection.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

John Agar Hates You Too


Tomorrow Is A Day

I am back into my normal routine tomorrow. Instead of mostly caring for the kids, I am full time caring for the kids, and working with other kids who I didn't sire. It's busy, crazy fun. I have mentioned often enough that I like kids, so I won't repeat myself more than I have to. Okay, I will repeat myself more than I have to, just not more than I can. That's all I'll promise.

I'm excited to be back into my schedule, really. The one thing I will not miss is the freedom to take the kids everywhere. This week, we've been to the zoo, the beach, the library, and stayed home. I've been doing my normal work with them, but wherever I wanted. I've had the ability to rework a plan when they are hungry, or fussy. When I'm with other kids, I can't shift gears so fast. And I am nothing if not a creature of habit. I'm such a creature of habit that I use cliches like creature of habit, even though they make no sense.

I hope all goes well tomorrow. I'm stocking up on food, I have various toys ready. They are going to bed at 7:30 tonight to give them a good night's sleep. I've planned it all perfectly. Which, as we know, means absolutely nothing when dealing with kids. Especially my kids. Which is a big reason I love it.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Father Of An Agent And Patriotic Day

It's the holiday of holidays in America. The Fourth. The day to celebrate all things USA. I tend to skip it. Unless there is pie; I'll show up for pie.

As I have documented here, I am in the middle on a lot of issues. Not a moderate, but interested in all sides, that's me. The one place I am probably far to the "left," much as I dislike the term, is jingoism. I do not support a country, any country, for the same reason that I do not support a political party: I don't accept that others who think differently, act differently, or speak differently are in any way inferior to me.

That said, I do LIKE it here. I live here. My parents were born here, as well as my kids. It's a lovely place. There are some good people, some nice places to live. I just don't really feel the need to go nuts expressing things I like about the States, especially at the expense of others. I certainly don't want any of my likes or dislikes to get caught up with issues like military might and imperialistic financial systems. It's a far cry from "the Cascades are pretty" to "bomb Iran," in other words, and I'd prefer to just be left out of the whole discussion.

Because the one thing I do actively hate about America is our violence. This is a country that fetishizes and relishes violent spectacle. We love it. When people ask me what I liked most about Japan when I lived there, I usually talk about the transportation system, which is great. But the honest answer is that I liked how peaceful, in general, the people were. No one was ever going to resort to violence to solve mundane problems, and I liked that. As a person who loves people, and wants the best for them, seeing how easily we rely on violence in this country, how much we seem to enjoy violence, sickens me.

I'm not a complete pacifist. I admire those who are. I would even admit that they are probably better people than me. But though I would never swear to refrain from any violent activity, I don't think it's good. I don't think it's nice, and certainly I would never say it's fun. It may be, may possibly be, necessary, at times. But it's awful that it is.

I wonder what I am teaching my kids about violence. I wonder if I can even shape their opinions. Viri, yesterday, was walking past a police car. He pointed at it, and asked if it was a police car. I said yeah. I wasn't really paying attention, this is a big city, police are everywhere. He pulled me around to face the car, and said very seriously: "Thank them, Papa! Thank them for the hard work they do!" I laughed, and it was funny. But I wonder what conversations are in store for us. What will Viri's attitude towards these institutions be? It almost makes me want to move somewhere else. If it is his nature, however, there is no where that would really matter. I guess what I can do is teach him, steer his ideas, and accept who he will become. I definitely don't want him to grow up to be a carbon copy of me. The opposite of me is fairly scary, too. I hope he finds kindness and wisdom, and is a good Taviri. I hope this country, the good, the bad and the ugly, is a pathway to that. Happy Fourth, I guess. Don't hurt anyone today, America.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Kites Are Fun: The True Story

As all my friends and family who read this know, all I do all day is hang out with my kids. I really enjoy doing this. But even I run out of things to do after weeks and weeks of twelve hour days. I have, however, found a perfect solution: Kites!

They are fun, I have a ton of windy beach to hang out on, and the kids calmly watch the kite float up in the air. It's the perfect activity for a summer or fall day in Seattle. As long as it isn't raining. (Which, in the summer and fall, is usually the case.)

We currently own a tiny kite, a trial kite. We bought it to try out the entire concept on the kids. We learned that the kids enjoy kites, and that Arkaedi is not too keen on waiting for her brother to get bored before flying her own. We also learned that children randomly let go of kites, and Papa has to sprint to catch them. Luckily, Papa is a sprinter more than a distance runner. (And to think the gym guys made fun of me for only running two miles! Ha! The 9 minute mile still counts, even at 8 a week!)

So, my new fun activity for the kids is flying kites. That is the kind of intense, fast paced life I lead. Hold on tight, friends. It's going to be a wild one.