Saturday, March 31, 2007

Thunder Kiss '07

Henry got his first kiss today...that is, from someone who was not involved in his conception or anyone related to the responsible parties. We were in a semi-decadent grocery mood, so we stopped by Senseless Markup, er, Central Market because they gots the goodies AND because they gots a playground where the wee'uns can work off some o'that extra energy. So while The Ash shopped, The Biscuit joined the rest of the little folk on the playground. Me? I'll be honest, I sorta didn't know what to do with myself. I'm not used to Henry being able to run around on playground full of kids and hold his own. All of our park trips up to now have been with a crawling baby, so this was a somewhat different game. I tried to stick close without hovering. Go on Dad, you're embarrassin' me in front of the fellas! Soon enough I'll have to drop him off six blocks from school and leave the windows rolled up so none of his friends accidentally hear his Dad's old music.

Exaggerations one point, Henry got into a serious game of Dirt Pile with a little girl around his age. Rather than compete with separate piles though, they pooled their resources and cooperated on one massive mound. If we put our dirt together, we can make an even BIGGER pile, yo! The little girl's mom was standing nearby, and we struck up a conversation about how totally badass our kids are and how cool it was that they were exemplifying the spirit of cooperation. And that's when the lovebug must have bitten Henry on his fuzzy little head because he just reached over and gave his Dirt Pile partner a kiss. Not a speck of hesitation. So there I am standing there wondering, "Uh, is this lady about to freak cuz my kid kissed her kid? Am I about to have to pay for a cooties shot?" Fortunately, she was cool, and her response just about killed me - in an Austrian accent, she said, "What is it they call that in English? First base?" Yes ma'am, yes indeed.

Oh yeah, almost hit PUBLISH without dropping my good news on ya'll! I got an A minus on my first test! I don't really know how much letter grades matter at the graduate level, but it was still a nice feeling. Here's hoping that sets the tone for the rest of my time at the seminary.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Moon Dreams

I've found that I like the look of a night sky when it's full of rain clouds reflecting a city that doesn't want to be in the dark. There's just something about the nice glow it casts back on us Earth dwellers and our surroundings. Last night was just such a night. I was out walking Elliott when I noticed it, and I stopped and realized how nice it all looked. I guess I was in a contemplative mood.

Back in my days as a camp counselor, I spent entire summers under a Texas sky filled to overflowing with stars. For about the first week or so, I couldn't get over the sight of all those stars against that perfectly black backdrop. But after that I got used to it. The miraculous became the every night. But every so often, for whatever reason, I'd find myself looking back up there and I'd remember that, indeed, that sky was beautiful, and I knew I would miss it when I was back in the city. Not a sight to be taken for granted.

Watching Henry is kind of the same way. Right now as he grows and progresses, as he speaks new words and tries out using his little legs to carry himself around, as we watch this new human try out all his faculties for the first time, it's so blessedly easy to get excited about it. But as time goes by, I suppose the fact that he can walk will no longer seem so exciting, and perhaps we'll sometimes wish he'd stop talking for just a few minutes. But the fact that we forget to notice how amazing it all is doesn't make it any less so. Hell, the fact that any of us can walk or that we can communicate simply by opening our mouths is something to stop and be thankful for. Little every day miracles, like those stars in the sky.

I guess I'm still in a contemplative mood. It's where I like to be sometimes.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Speaking the word of dog

A new reality has descended upon the animal kingdom, which is that it has all gone canine. At least that's how Henry would have it.

See, "dog" was one of his earliest words. And he can point out a dog like nobody's business. If we drive past some man out walking his best friend, you can count on excited shouts of "dog!" from the backseat. If we arrive home only to hear Elliott barking his fool head off from inside, Henry's quick to put a name to the racket's source.

But dog is not limited to just actual dogs. When we look at pictures of animals, they're all dogs. The entire cast of the Farmer Says See And Say is dog, be they bird, amphibian, small woodland animal, or mud dweller. When we read Dr. Seuss, every fuzzy character is a dog. Reading The Foot Book goes something like this:

Holmes: His feet, her feet. Fuzzy fur feet

Henry: (pointing to large fuzzy beast thing) Dog.

Holmes: Small feet, big feet, here come pig feet.

Henry: (pointing to pig) Dog.

Holmes: That's a pig.

Henry (emphatically) Dog.

Holmes: Pig.

Henry: (slower, patiently, as if talking to a child) Dog.

And that's the thing that cracks me up, the little guy is so very patient with me when explaining what these things are (dogs, of course). One day he'll know the names of all these things and more, and even plenty of stuff his old man never quite got around to learning about. But right now, it's all dog, it's all good, and it's hilarious.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Nah, I ain't come to snuff no rooster

I found some Cheddar Bunnies mixed into the dirty laundry earlier. You know, like Goldfish, except in bunny form. The Ash tried to tell me that Henry had put 'em there and then she acted all innocent. Wife, please. I know she's secretly hatching a plot to turn all our clothes orange, though I can't imagine why since she's not the one that went to UT. That would be me, though I must admit, I'm a crappy Longhorn. I own not a single item of burnt orange clothing. I guess that's what happens when you're one of the three people in Texas who's not into football.

Lest ye think all I did today was laundry, I've actually been rather productive. I got up early to go join in a Habitat for Humanity build. First thing I see when I walk up to the work site was this monstrous rooster just walking around, proud as could be. Huge, I tell you. I asked if he was the foreman, but he just ignored me and wandered off clucking something about somebody owing him money and a ring in the basement of a bar somewhere.

Turns out I was assigned to the crew of yet another Holmes...Larry Holmes to be exact. No, not the boxer, nor any relation that I'm aware of. Thanks to Larry, I now know more about putting up sheet rock than I did yesterday, which was zero.

I left the build a little before lunchtime. On my way out, I looked in my rear-view mirror and spotted that rooster beating up a couple of teenagers. Sorry kids, I'd love to help you out, but I don't need that rooster pissed at me, and I've got a birthday party to get to. Besides, you're teenagers so you probably deserve it.

The aforementioned party was for none other than the first birthday of Stella, daughter of our friends Tim and Julie. Many babies, lots of food, a fridge full of beer, delicious cake, and plenty of familiar faces - can't ask for much more than that. Julie even dished up a baby-safe cake that the little munchkins scarfed down like it contained breastmilk. But I don't think it did. Anyway, Happy Birthday Stella!

Following the party, I spent the afternoon engaged in some serious playtime with the Googanator. That would be Henry. We don't have any one single pet name for him, more like hundreds, each of which has several variations and spin-offs of its own. Ash and I are the same with each other's pet names. It's just like that around here. If I sat down with a pen and paper, I could probably trace the pet names she calls me now back to the pet names she had for me when we first hooked up. These things evolve.

The morning's spirit of industriousness was apparently still lingering because I finally hung up the window shelf that The Ash has been asking me to take care of for a few weeks. I been busy, yo, lay off. But it's up now and it's beautiful. Only seven bajillion more projects to go and we'll be done.

On another note, you may have noticed that I've been messing with my template here recently. I just kinda got tired of having all my widget bling squished into one column. Not sure I'm happy with it just yet. I dunno honey, maybe we should put the couch against the other wall under the deer head? But in the midst of moving stuff around, I noticed that my archives go back to March 2005. The Holmes as a blog has existed for two years and I didn't even notice it. I should clarify, it hasn't always been at this address, I moved it over here last September when I decided I didn't feel like paying for my old site where I had pages devoted to what an amazing playwright I am. I couldn't stand the thought of all those posts just being lost in the ether, especially since that blog started right about the time The Ash and I went public with the pregnancy. I couldn't just let the record of the months leading up to our son's birth be lost, so I actually went to the trouble of moving them all over, which is why there are no comments on any posts before that, it's not just because I suck. And before The Holmes blog existed, I was blogging over at Loaded Gun Theory for I don't even know how long. Point is, this blogging thing has been a part of my life for something like four years now. I wonder if the day will come when I just decide blogging is for idiots and that I'm no longer interested in posting my thoughts and the events of my life for just anybody to read. I don't know. All's I know is that was one big ass rooster.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


So early last month, I posted about Henry taking his first steps, at which point The Ash and I just assumed it'd be no time at all before the little destructor was full-blown biped. I mean duh, right? But then, as Ash mentioned in a recent post on her blog (quick aside: yay, Ash is blogging!) the little guy didn't seem to want to progress past just those initial few steps, preferring instead to keep things nice and low to the ground. Perhaps to stay at eye level with the dog? Which was cool and all, but as more time passed, we started to wonder if we should be concerned. Was there something we were supposed to be doing? Some trick they forgot to teach us at the hospital? A section of the baby owner's manual that we glossed over? Or was in fact everything just fine, and we just needed to chill out?

Then not a week after her post, the little guy up and decides he's gonna give this walking thing another go. We caught it on video, and since I yam who I yam, I couldn't resist adding a soundtrack.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

You see us as you want to see us: in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions

I was sitting here the other night studying over the possible essay questions for my upcoming ethics test, and I found myself playing with my pen in that way that Anthony Michael Hall does at the beginning of "The Breakfast Club" when he's trying to figure out what to say in his paper about who he is. Realizing this, I just went with it and started mumbling, "Who am I? Who am I?" with the pen clipped to my lower lip. I then turned my head slowly towards the invisible Judd Nelson glaring at me from the neighboring table, and sheepishly removed the pen from my mouth. There was no audience, so you'll have to trust me that it was a brilliant rendition of a great moment in film. It called to mind other moments of cinematic authorly procrastination, including Billy Crystal in "Throw Momma From The Train" (The night was...sultry) and Nicholas Cage in "Adaptation" (I need a muffin).

The real reason for my procrastination, however, was not laziness. See, I'm currently enrolled in a master's program at a seminary. An Episcopal seminary to be exact. The Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest to be even, um, exacter. You might find that surprising given that one of my most recent posts talked about how much beer I used to swill. Honestly, sometimes I find it kind of strange that I'm on this path. Strange in a positive way though. But that's not the evening's topic. Perhaps another time, and another post. Or ten.

See, I was going over the possible essay questions that may be on the test. It's one of those "two of these six questions will be asked, so you'd better be ready for all of them" situations. I'd already coasted through the first five, gone back and compared them with my notes, and was happy with what I'd come up with. Mostly just comparing and contrasting different ethical theories, considering what each has to say about what. Interesting stuff, to me anyway, but the questions were much too abstract to really be all that inspiring. The last question though, hit very close to a subject that I feel particularly passionate about. I had to really think about how I wanted to articulate my answer, hence the putting-off of the writing, the pen play, the goofiness. The question was basically along the lines of "what political questions should Christians raise when making ethical decisions about our shared life?"

Wow. Where to begin?

As I read it, it basically goes back to the fundamental question of what to do when you have several billion people all stuck on the same planet. You know, like in real life? All these people want a lot of the same things, but the differences between them feel as vast as the universe. And then you throw something as powerful as faith into the mix and you’re lucky you don’t have people killing each other. Oh wait.

Faith makes things tricky because of just how core it can be to one’s persona. It permeates every facet of a person’s being, affecting their viewpoint on everything. This in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. It’s what moved people like MLK, Gandhi, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. But on the other side of world-changing people like that, you have those whose faith makes them arrogant, unwilling to listen. I think too often people of faith forget that they’re on a journey and instead think they’ve already found their ultimate truth. Listen, anybody who tells you they’ve got it all figured out is a liar. These are the ones who, when put into a decision-making role, will attempt to mold their little corner of the world into some kind of ideal vision, a feat which is unrealistic, dangerous, and doomed to fail. God help us when we find ourselves at the mercy of these kinds of people.

So I won’t bore you with the entirety of what I wrote in response to the question, but it basically all boils down to humility. It’s about trying to stretch ourselves to accommodate another person’s point of view. It’s about remembering that even those who agree with us are human beings as much as we are, or in Christian language, children of God. And they’re entitled to as much dignity and respect as those with whom we take communion.

Fortunately, I think my professor agrees with me on this one. I’d have a pretty hard time in this class otherwise.

The mouse doesn't work that way

I was so out of it this afternoon at work that I actually moused my cursor up in an attempt to use it to tap the little bobble-headed turtle that sits on top of my monitor. I had entered a state of mind where such a move should have worked. Lucky for me, the cursor reached the top of the screen and went no farther. It did not exit the monitor. I don't know how I would have gotten it back in there if it had. The turtle took no notice.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I used to be in the business of keeping Mickey's in business

Which is why if you were ever to find yourself checking out my left calf, you'd not only be a strange one indeed, but you'd also see this here little beauty:

Yup, that is indeed the Mickey's bee. Second tattoo I ever got, and though I no longer quench my thirst with 40 oz. servings of that fine malt liquor as I did in my younger days, I have, as they say, no regrets. About the tattoo anyway. Things done under the influence of Mickey's? Well, I guess drop me a line if I owe you an apology or anything.

This weekend though, my little tattoo got ID'd by what I would have thought to be the unlikeliest of culprits. See, with The Ash off at a cooking class, it was just me, a baby, and a dog. So I strapped Henry into my custom-made mei-tei, enleashened the dog, and headed down the block for a little swing/slide/crawl around in the dirt action at the park. The place was mostly quiet, but there were these two little boys, no older than 7 or 8 years old, riding their bikes around the perimeter. And every time they came back around near us, they wanted to pet Elliott, who is about as likely to bite as a tulip. "Hey Mister, can we pet your dog? I have nineteen dogs at home, but he don't 'cuz he lives with his mom. Hi little baby!"

And then one of the little dudes noticed the tattoo. "Hey that's that bee on top of the beer bottle, huh?" Um, yeah kid, that's right. "Yeah, I seen that before" And then he takes a careful look around, smiles, and says "Don't tell nobody, but I drank some before, and I liked it! But I can't tell nobody my secret!" I pointed out that he'd just told his friend. "Oh he already knows, he won't tell nobody." I pointed out that he'd told Henry. "Oh he's just a little baby, when he grows up, I bet he won't even remember." I didn't bother to point out that he'd told me his little secret, for some reason I was safe in his book since he'd volunteered the info. Guess it was the ink. What do you say exactly when a kid that age tells you that he's already discovered the joys of really cheap beer? I laughed at the time, but it was more an uncomfortable "oh geez kid what are you gonna tell me next" kind of titter than a guffaw. Guffaw, what a great word. But really, I was left kind of speechless. Was this kid before me a future alcoholic? What was his home life like? I pictured a broken down Trans-Am up on blocks in an overgrown yard next to a driveway full of beat-up trucks in front of a house badly in need of major repairs. That's totally unfair on my part, sure, but hey, I think we all knew that kid growing up.

Henry fell asleep in the mei-tei on the walk home from the park. For some reason I've been thinking about that little kid ever since then. Here's hoping he stays sober a few years.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Sven, the guy who sells furniture

So this evening, we drove past some great big huge monstrosity of a new shopping center that went up recently, and their slogan is some such bullshit like "Now you don't have to go to Dallas or Houston to experience upscale shopping." Mmmm, well, how lovely. To which The Ash pointed out that there are plenty of locally owned places all over town that already sell lots of shit we can't afford, so we really don't need any chains to do the same, thanks. Damn those chains. Did I mention we were on our way to Ikea? Oh chuckle chuckle chuckle. Holmes, you lovable hypocrite, you.

It's true, the vast majority of our furniture comes from the blue and yellow European beast that is Ikea. It's not a fact I'm ashamed or proud of, it just is. But we found ourselves talking about chains and their standard business practices, and for some reason The Ash found it odd that Ikea, like most other chains, offers lines of credits to its customers. We wondered if this was their standard business practice around the globe, or just in the States. And then The Ash just burst out with "Vee take zose Amewicans for as mach money as vee con, ja?" Because that's how all the people at Ikea talk. All of zem. As you can see.

That wife of mine. She cracks me up, ja.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Henry's face. His expression. It was calm, matter of fact, rather unimpressed. It said simply, "this is what we do and where we do it." Unfortunately, the "what" was pooping and the "where" was the bathtub. Said pooping had been foreshadowed just a minute before by a few bubbles in the water, just a bit of baby gas. Cute harmless little tub farts. It had been enough to get me on the alert, but when nothing happened, I fell back into a false state of calm, believing the little GooGoo's waste expulsion to be over for the moment. And for the moment it was, but then the moment passed just a little too quickly for my liking. Next thing I know, I'm scrambling out of the tub and calling The Ash for help. And Henry? Absolutely no help. He was downright casual about the whole matter. I can say that he at least didn't try to make it into a toy, but maybe that's because I got him out of that tub post-fucking-haste.

Nothing like a turd floatin' in the water to get everybody's adrenaline pumping.

The Dirty 30K

Because I like the idea of large groups of people getting together to participate in a loosely defined activity with only the vaguest of rules to guide them, and because I seem to have shied away from discussing anything even remotely political on this here blog of mine as of late, and because I'll almost certainly need something to write about on that day, I've decided to participate in this here 30000 bloggers thing. The link has all the info, but in short it goes a little something like this:
  1. Send an email to with the subject: Yop!
  2. In the body of the email list the name of your weblog, and the URL.
  3. Your weblog will be added to the list of participating weblogs.
  4. Tell your friends who blog about it, and urge them to send in their weblog as well.
  5. When the list reaches 30,000, a date and a word will be listed on the page. On that date, every weblog on the list agrees to make a single post with the word as the title. The content of the post should be about what you want for the world, whatever that may be. The purpose is not to make a particular political statement, but simply to make a noise. If 30,000 weblogs all post the same unusual word, it WILL be heard.
Honestly, I detect my naysayer side coming up here. I don't know quite what this can actually hope to accomplish. There is of course no expectation that everyone sing the same tune, only that they sing a song. But really and truly, if the most effort it's asking of me is that I write a blog entry about what I want for the world (wow, I might need to get started now), then I think I can maybe swing that. The true question, I guess, is what more can I do?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Quitting is for quitting quitters

Man, I picked a hell of a day to start cutting back on the caffeine.

See, way back in the day, before I was the Pops to the little howler monkey known as Henry, I decided one day that I wasn't comfortable with how dependant I had become on caffeine to wake up and be alert and function. Just didn't seem right somehow. So over time, I eased my coffee intake way back and finally got to where I only had a cup every now and then on the occasion that some especially good stuff was readily available.

Enter baby. After Henry was born, sleep left our midst for a little while, so I found myself fiending for the Joe. I was like the junkie who'd been clean a little while calling up his old dealer. I could practically hear my trusty Houston Rockets mug mocking me. Yeah, you thought you was done with Old Joe, but I knew you couldn't hack it without me. I knew you'd be back. Pretty soon, I was even drinking the sludge they serve up at my office. I needed to function and Joe had what I needed.

Then the other night, our friends Brandon and Courtney (collectively known as Bratney) took us out to dinner, and the conversation turned somehow to coffee, which it turns out they've cut way back on for reasons nearly identical to my own from way back when. And it occurred to me, now that sleep has returned to our house, even if not as a permanent resident, mayhaps it's time I start easing off my habit. I was, you might say, inspired.

So today was my first day with no coffee, just a couple of cups of black tea. Compared to a typical day's countless cups of coffee, I thought this was pretty good. But like I said, it was a suck of a day to go messing with the chemicals my body was accustomed to. First off, it was a Monday, and I am among the Mon. - Fri. crowd. Add to that I had to sit through an intensely boring hour and a half presentation about some Microsoft product tool thing whatever...something about increasing efficiency, facilitating better communication, central repository, blah blah zzzzzzzz. I kept nodding off through the whole thing. I was certain I was going to wake up on the floor surrounded by a bunch of IT geeks. "Is he okay?" "I don't know, kick him." Follow that with more meetings. We just love our meetings at my office, probably because we love each other so much.

But I made it, and hopefully tomorrow is a little easier. Hey, this is nothing compared to quitting smoking.

They say good help is hard to find

Henry the kitchen helper baby

Up in the dishwasher

Loading the sippies

Cooks helper

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Gonna drive me to drinkin'

Henry's got a capacity for risk-taking that would do a day-trading stuntman proud, a fact which frequently scares the hell out of his Mom and I. That's the topic for this month's Dadbloggers post.

In other news, my friend Tara sent out this website that I can't seem to stop looking at. The Ash thinks it's stupid, but I can't stop giggling. Then again, I'm a sucker for "I'm in your blank blankin' ur blank" humor, especially when it features kittens.