Stay tuned (patiently) as we occasionally throw updates on here about what steps we're taking to get to our end goals, DIY tricks and life-hacks, child-rearing tactics (strategery), etc.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

THURSDAY FEELS: Taking Back the Middle Class

I know this isn't what typically goes in feels, but I'm passionate about it, so I'm putting it here. I'm taking back the middle class.

With this whole project, moving into an old trailer, down sizing, saving money, etc., I have begun to think that this is the new face of the middle class citizen. Wages have fallen when compared to expenses. Houses are more expensive. College is more expensive. Food, gasoline, meds and doctors visits, all of the things we need to survive are so much more expensive when compared to how much money we're bringing in. Families used to enjoy the privilege of one parent working, while now, both parents work, usually with one parent making maybe $100 more per month then daycare costs. It's ridiculous.

However, I'm refusing to give this society that much of my time and money. I'm moving into a trailer, a tiny house that we've completely paid off already. We're going to park it at a mobile home park for $300/month plus utilities. This may seem cheap and tragic, but I don't see it that way. I see it as living within my means, responsibly, and not in excess.

It used to be that people saved up for a house. The average down payment was half of the purchase price. Now, people wind up paying so much money in interest to the bank for a suburban, cookie cutter mansion they can't afford, with a huge garage for their SUVs that they drive, solo, to work every day.

We can do better than this, and I think my generation is going to face a very harsh reality: America has messed up pretty badly. We've done on the government level what we've done on a personal and family level. We have tons of debt, we don't have any drive to get real jobs, the kinds of jobs that involve physical labor. We value sinking tens of thousands of dollars into degrees that help us work in retail and refuse to invest thousands of dollars into a certification that would potentially earn us close to six figures with overtime. We're lazy, and we're all moving in with our old parents.

So I'm downsizing. I'm working nights. I fix my own things when I have the means. I'm being happy with what I have, what little there is, and I'm saving for my future.

Help me take back the middle class.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

WEDNESDAY SKILLS: Family Creations

I don't have any creative projects that I've worked on lately. Truth be told, we've saving up to do this trailer thing. However. In the spirit of Christmas, here is the Boy with a sonic screwdriver I made from a keychain, an old pen, and some duct tape. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

TUESDAY UPDATE: The BattleStation

I figured I'd show you guys some of what we're getting into.  These top two pictures are the inside of the tiny bathroom in the back of the trailer.  Everything works,so we'll be moving in and re-modelling shortly thereafter. The bathroom floor will be replaced, a small electric heater added, and the cabinet and sink will be replaced.

Here is the interior.  The first thing we did after cleaning is take down all of those gaudy drapes.  Yuck.  Feels way better in there now, but work to do all around.

This is the outside.  1971 22' RoadRunner, apparently built in Utah.  The Woman looks like a boss, locking it with authority and pizaz.

Here's the kitchen area.  Counter tops will eventually be replaced.  We haven't decided what the counters are going to be made out of, although I am leaning heavily towards making it all a usable butcher block.  The fridge is plenty huge.  The furnace works, and the stove is all gas.  On one of our window shopping expeditions, The Woman picked out a back-splash/wall treatment that looks like the pounded copper in old-timey saloons.  I'm totally fine with that.  

Here's a better overview.  The dinette will likely be taken out and replaced with a couple of simple, folding barstools and a table that folds down and out of the way, creating much more usable space for kiddos to run around and get into no good.  We won't only be living in here with The Princess, but The Prince will be staying with us occasionally, too, as well as The Duke, a little boy whose parents we trade babysitting with.  The dinette will be the big project, however, afterwards, between where it is now and the bed/couch, I'd like to install a small office table to have a place to design or work on projects inside.  I feel like it's crucial to be able to stay inside, as the high today was 5 degrees here in Bozeman.

That's your sneak peak.  I'll let you know when there is more.  Our target date for move-in is January 1st.  We'll be throwing more pictures up as things progress!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

THURSDAY FEELS: A Few Notes on a New Career

It's just after 2 am.  A month ago, I would feel anxious and tired, but now that I'm working nights, it's not so bad. I'm still adapting, but coffee and I always had a basic understanding that we're currently expanding on.

I love the work I'm doing now. It's such a huge departure from what I used to do. No creativity here. No deadlines. No production and quality control.

Just interaction, and safety. I provide those two, simple things. Some of these kids have rough stories. Some have inept families. Some make bad decisions. But I'm finding, the more I get to know them, that they're my kids. They mean a lot to me, and if the shit hit the fan, I'd pick all of them up before I left town for safety.

The crazy part is that a year ago, I had no idea I'd be here. It's scary, but I can't afford to contemplate the future too much. Time to focus on the now.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

TUESDAY UPDATE: The Pending Move

We've talked, the lady and I, and we're going to try to move into the camper after the first of the new year. That gives us a little bit of time to go through the trailer, fix anything that may need attention, keep everything all good for living in.

We've found a wonderful storage space with a wonderful guy, Bob, who lives on scene. The rates were reasonable, and it's very secure. If you're in Bozeman and need storage, look up Abba Dabba storage.

After we move it, we're looking to move the trailer out to a local mobile home park. Hopefully that will give us the freedom and privacy to start really working on the trailer, tearing out walls and what not.

So that's the news structurally speaking. As far as career-wise, it's a crap shoot. The work at the group home is really rewarding. I really enjoy these kids, they crack me up. But as far as a permanent home, I remain skeptical.

Total side note: today is election day. Please vote, please, please vote. Take your country back.

Friday, October 31, 2014

ARTWORK FRIDAY- The Book of Genesis...

I'm working on a hobby project to re-write and tie together all of the major spiritual texts of the world to serve as an appendix to a sort of sci-fi novel.  Long story short, here's the very first look at the (I'm sure to be plenty revised) project that may take me YEARS to finish...


THE FIRST BOOK OF MOSES, CALLED
GENESIS
CHAPTER I
In the beginning, we were told, God created the heaven and the earth. We were told the earth was a dark, formless waste, and that the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.  Then we were told about everything else God made, everything from food and water to stars in the night sky to dry land, light and day, and there was even a blessing in to have as much sex as we could muster.  God wanted us to live in bliss.
We already had everything we needed.  We had a fertile planet, not too close to the sun, abundantly rich in oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon.  We had intelligence.  We had figured out how to farm, how to have our food much easier than hunting for it.  We were set.  So when the Anakim told us 4,000 years ago that all of this was God’s creation, to enjoy it, to be prosperous, you would think we would have simply said “thank you”.
CHAPTER II
            The Anakim had arrived and terraformed of the most barren and uninhabited land on this foreign planet.  Not much was known about us from their perspective. The third planet in a system of 8 regular planets, typical young star, ripe for life with intelligent inhabitants, but those inhabitants hadn’t yet understood their place in the universe.  They didn’t know their world was one among many.  They still believed in Gods and other superstitions.
            This made the Anakim’s arrival that much more dramatic.  As any futuristic happenstance is viewed as magic from the previous generation, the arrival of the [ALIEN A] was an act of God.  Their ship, bright and hot as the sun from its journey through the atmosphere, slowly landed and transformed the land around it, a procedure that takes, well, about 145 hours or six days.  They prefer to terraform the environment around their ship before meeting the locals as kind of a goodwill gesture.  It’s their way of saying “we mean you no harm.  In fact, look at this beautiful piece of your planet we’ve created for you.”
            Originally, the seventh day was the First Day, the day the Anakim made their first contact with us.  We took it as a blessing that something so magnificent could be interested in us.  It must have been God, yes?  I mean, it seemed like every plant on every field was growing.  It had rained for the first time in years.  (This was the middle of the desert.)  One could understand how a hunter-gatherer with no ability to even fathom creatures from other worlds could feel like he had a whole new life given to him, a soul, previously denied him by his too-simple existence.
            The ancient word for this place where the Anakim originally landed was called Itl-Eden, or as it was popularly simplified over the centuries, Eden.  In this place, in their grandest symbol of peace and friendship, they created a spectacularly bountiful garden, overflowing with fruits and vegetables, lush green trees, no predators.  It was a place for early humans to live and have the opportunity to think more, to evolve as a species.
            Part of their terraforming created a lake in the center of the development area, mined from a nearby aquifer.  Enough water sprang from the lake that four rivers left Eden, flowing through different lands, and gaining different names.  The Pison flows through the entirety of Havilah, where gold, bdellium, and onyx are mined for trade.  The Gihon, similarly, runs the entire length of Ethiopia.  The Hiddekel cuts through the east of Assyria.  The fourth river, of course, was the Euphrates.
            To keep our early ancestors safe, the Anakim sent a guardian to live amongst the humans.  They tried their best to replicate the appearance of humans, but they usually lived for centuries, sometimes millennia.  Even in human disguise, they still lived for hundreds of years.  The first one they sent was named Ahdam.
            To say Ahdam was a guardian would be selling him far too short.  Ahdam was the Anakim’s equivalent to a highly trained survivalist and goodwill ambassador of sorts.  They sent him with every tool he could need to win over the locals.  This garden, of course, was a great start.  The second phase of the terraforming project creates more complex organisms from the host planet.  Ahdam was crucial in this process, spending time learning about the native flora and fauna over his stay on Earth.
            One night, while Ahdam was sleeping, the Anakim sent another guardian to Earth.  She carried a message from her commanders for Ahdam.  She handed him what looked like a twig or a branch.  When he grabbed it, an image projected in a faint blue light from all of the little tips of wood.
            Ahdam, this mission just got much more dangerous.  The Baalists have found this planet.  We’ve intercepted several reports that they may already have spies there.  The orchard has an emergency distress beacon.  It’s wired into the red apple tree.  If you sense anything out of the ordinary, take a bite from an apple from the tree. Your messenger is Eive, and she will be your partner for the remainder of the mission.  It may take a few revolutions in this sun’s vortex before you see any signs of a Baalist invasion, so your mission in the meantime is to try to learn as much about the local species as possible.  Observe their customs and traditions, and emulate as much as you can.  Enjoy this opportunity to learn about a group of aliens nobody else has ever seen.
            The transmission ended, and the tips of the branches all simultaneously ignited into tiny, candle-like flames.  Ahdam and Eive looked at each other and smiled.  They realized they were both naked. (The Anakims are an advanced warm-blooded species, able to regulate their temperatures in much warmer and colder environments than humans.  They were also more emotionally mature.  Thus, they had no need for clothes.  They turned to face the humans that had already gathered to see what the spectacle was.  They continued to smile.  This was science.  This was forming bonds with an alien species.  And even though local human customs of the time demanded they wear clothes, they were not ashamed or embarrassed.  They just laughed it off, grabbed a few nearby fig leaves, and got to work building a habitat like another couple of the native hunter/gatherers who had shown up to investigate all of the commotion.
CHAPTER III...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WEDNESDAY NO SKILLS: I don't work in signs anymore

Weird, but I'd been making signs for almost twelve years. Start to finish, I've been in the trenches, designing, creating, constructing, and installing everything from businesses cards to billboards to vehicle wraps, banners, cop cars... so many great experiences, and so many defeats.

The scene here in Bozeman is lack luster. My first employer here was corrupt. They wanted a production manager, but they weren't expecting a competent one. I found that they weren't paying one of my guys for OT. Didn't last a week after that.

The second place I worked was more honest, but just horrible at everything. One guy owned the place with his wife. They were nice enough, but I was treated like I had no experience. I hated it.

So now, my skill set is put on the shelf, and I'm working overnight at a teenager's group home. I'm the security/data entry guy. Four nights a week. And... I kinda like it. Sigh...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

TUESDAY UPDATE: The BattleTrailer Strikes!

So here we are, looking the future in the hairy eyeball. We bought our trailer today, or future home that will bring us (hopefully) closer to our dreams. It's a 1971 Road Runner trailer, beautiful and old, and it'll be our house. We're hoping to move in after Thanksgiving. We'll keep you all posted.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

TUESDAY UPDATE: New Job, New Goals

I started an overnight job at a group home for teens.  We have eight kids in the house, coming from all over the state of Montana.  My job is to make sure they don't sneak out, hurt themselves or each other, and stuff like that through the night.  In the morning, I get them up, make sure they've taken their meds, etc.  I may even make them breakfast one of these mornings, just because I can.  ;-)

Talking about goals, the Hetero Life Mate and I have decided to return to the roots of the BattleWagon Chronicles.  We're looking for a trailer that we can pull with our Suburban and park somewhere instead of paying as much rent for this apartment we're in.  I've talked to a guy here in Bozeman who has an organic farm and orchard, and we may be able to park the trailer there relatively inexpensively in exchange for some work on the farm.  Bonus points for fresh, organic food if that's the route we go.  Other options include renting a spot at a long term campground/RV park like a KOA.
First thing is first, though... we need to find a trailer.  We're looking for something in the 20-30 foot range.  We'd prefer a bumper-pull trailer, but we'd settle for a motorhome.  As long as it has a somewhat functional bathroom, kitchen, furnace, a bed big enough for the HLM and me (and the Baby on and off), and a separate bunk or bed for Baby and/or Little Man, we'll jump on it.

It's the time to shed the bondage of debts and paycheck-to-paycheck living.  Like so many lower-middle class Americans, we make too much money to qualify for most assistance, but not nearly enough to survive.  Society wants us to buy into this by being lemmings, pushing the idea that we must live in a nice apartment or house that we really can't afford.  Breaking these bonds are how we thrive.  We're going to live in a trailer.  We're going to have it paid for in three-months rent.  We're going to own a house, and we're going to have the ability to take it wherever we please. Life is good.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WEDNESDAY SKILLS: "Resume Work" or "The Seach Continues"

I've been in search of some better work opportunities, so I figured I'd share some of the resumes I've built to get in the spirit of things.  If you like what you see, let me know, and I'll make you one, too.
This one was my first attempt at something creative.  It's not really the best work in retrospect, but it did get me my favorite job, in Alaska.  I've since updated it.  I haven't sent it out anywhere, but I always keep it up to date.  

This is actually a copy of a resume that I built for my (hopefully future) mother-in-law.  She wanted something simple, concise, elegant, but not fancy.

This one I built to come to Bozeman.  On my professional version, it has horizontal lines across the top referencing my salary history.  As it's specific to sign-making, it's usually accompanied by a short portfolio and sheet of references, both of which were made in this same style.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

THURSDAY FEELS:

Here I am, on the heels of the third job I've had in Bozeman since we moved here in February. Three jobs in six months. That's a record for me.  I never thought I'd have to step so quickly backwards and downwards to make ends meet, and still, here I am with nothing except my family, my partner, the kids, and a clean house. It has to be clean, after all. What else am I going to do with my time?

Well, maybe spend this time, really spend it, with my kids. They're beautiful. The boy is 4, and he's bright, energetic, and curious. He loves Iron Man, and he LOVES his baby sister.

The girl is 6 months here in a week or so. She's beautiful. Red hair and a smile that she busts out as if she's just reminding you that life is worth living. Big, curious blue eyes, and the beginnings of a chuckle that is as contagious as it is disarming.

I guess my point in celebrating these kids is that there is a pretty significant low in my head, a low that feels like it's drowning in a fog of failure, defeat, ineptitude, and payments for decisions made years ago. Still, in this fog, occasionally I see another face, and these faces are representative of unending love. I am so thankful.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WEDNESDAY SKILLS: Too busy to post regularly...

 I haven't really had the opportunity to create much at work, so I'm just posting a couple of pictures of some sand-blasted signs in progress.  The ones pictured above are for a local dentist.  At this stage, the two on the left are blasted out.  The rubber that prevents the sand from blowing through is still on the borders, and the inside has been painted.  The sign on the right was blown out all the way to the edge, and has been stained.
 This sign was blasted out of foam.  The background was chiseled by hand to give it the effect of being blasted from wood.  The cherries and the leaf were also carved out to look a little more three-dimensionally realistic.  The entire sign was spray painted a beige color as a first coat.  I've since painted the border a dark brown, the letters maroon, and the cherry, well, cherry-colored.

That's about it for now.  As I said, way too busy, but I haven't forgotten about the blog!  I'll post more when I get a hot minute!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

WEDNESDAY SKILLS: Recreating a Wax Seal

It's been a while since I've posted, and I apologize, but I've been so busy.  However, I haven't forgotten about ya'll.  Here's a project we worked on last month at the shop.  It was a sand-blasted wood sign, and the customer had asked for what looked like one of those old wax seals that you'd see in official mail and what-not.  My boss provided me with a picture and a piece of 1" thick foam.  I used a drill press to score a large recessed area in the middle, and began chiseling away at the block.
 After getting the shape roughed out, I sanded all of the harsh edges with a piece of 80 grit sandpaper.  All of the corners and rough edges were rounded and smoothed out.  Then I put a coat of plain white latex primer on the piece.
 After the primer dried, I took some regular drywall paste and filled in the hole left by the drill bit in the center.  When that dried, I put on a coat of white 1-Shot paint.  (For those that aren't familiar, 1-Shot is a paint originally made and still marketed to sign painters.  It's oil-based, and freakin awesome.)
 After the white 1-Shot dried, it was time for some color.  We chose a maroon 1-Shot for the second coat.  One of the nicest things about 1-Shot is that when you put it down, it really flattens out for a nice, smooth, even finish.  I had an idea in my head of what this was going to look like, and this really exceeded my expectations at this point.
After the maroon paint dried, I put on a second coat, just to make sure that the color would dry in a rich, color.  It wound up really looking like melted wax.  When the second coat dried, we got some imitation gold vinyl and cut out the letter and ornamental ring and stuck it down on the middle of the emblem.
 Here's the finished product.  The outside border of the sign was stained with a regular wood stain.  The background was painted with a latex beige paint, and the inner border and letters were painted with 1-Shot.  The wax seal piece really brought it all together.  Check it out!

Friday, May 23, 2014

ARTWORK FRIDAY - My Baby Announcement...


I designed this when my daughter was born.  A fun little project.  Turned out pretty good, I think.  ;-)

THURSDAY FEELS: Optimism in Brief

I count my blessings tonight.  It's been a rough few months, months that included a move across the country, the arrival of a beautiful baby girl, the loss of a job, the borrowing of money from family members, the receipt of gifts from family, friends, and strangers, and the list goes on.


I count my blessings, because, in spite of have to go to the food bank to get it, there is stuff to eat in my cupboards.  I count them because, inspite of the fact that the paint is all flaking off, it's rusted out under the doors, and it has trouble moving when you step on the gas too hard, we have a truck that gets us from A to B and even allows us to drive a short way out of town for hikes.  I count them because even though I'm not making as much money as I was making in Alaska, I have a job that I really enjoy, working for honest people, and making stuff that's incredibly beautiful.  I count them because I have a son who I get to talk to almost every day, even though he lives 15 hours away, a happy dog who doesn't realize he has only three legs, a beautiful girlfriend who told me not to stay up too late (it's 12:30 am now...), and a daughter who has already been "memed" twice at 2 months and 2 days (3 days now) old.

It's funny how true the cliche is that implies you one doesn't realize the value of the small things until you lose everything else.  We've had to sell so much stuff.  Our kitchen table has a metal folding chair and another chair I found by the dumpster a few weeks ago with no back.  We don't have a vacuum cleaner.  Some of this stuff is just ridiculous.  Still, we have free internet, which allows us to invest $8/month in Netflix, and that's a beautiful thing.

We found a church that has been wholly supportive of us.  We're going to dedicate our daughter there soon.  The Unitarian Universalists are wonderful people, and no matter what sort of spiritual cravings we have, we can satisfy those cravings there.  That, and they've really looked out for us there.  We found our mechanic through them.

Now we're ramping up to dig out of our hole and downsize even more.  No matter what happens, we'll be happy because, despite everything we lost, we have each other.  We can play rummy and watch documentaries about Nazis and re-runs of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  We can come up with 50 creative ways to cook rice.  Whatever we do, we laugh, we hug often, and we both don't waste a day forgetting how lucky we are.  When you get there, that's all you need.

WEDNESDAY SKILLS - What's New with Work!

We have been doing all sorts of cool stuff at work!  Here's an old sand-blasted sign that they made at Signs & Designs Unlimited (my new job that I lucked out and love.  It's been re-painted once already, and I was told to do it again. The first step was sanding off the white paint on the numbers to give the new paint a place to stick.  

After sanding it, I taped the edges and then "gound" in the background with a color called "Hamilton Green", a color created by the owner of my shop's dad, the man who started this business in Bozeman, Montana in the early 1970s.  (This makes us the oldest running sign shop in Bozeman... no big deal.)  After letting that dry, I hand-painted a coat of white letters and the Emerald Green border.  This was done in 1-Shot, which is one of the coolest paints I've ever worked with.  

Here's a different project, one of three sand-blasted signs for a local dentist.  This sign was stained, and then I used a color called "Chamois" to paint the letters.  I'm finding that attention to detail here is crucial in preventing touch-ups, an inevitable step, but the fewer I have to do, the better.

Here's another sand-blasted sign.  The paint is all down, and we're just waiting on vinyl lettering and graphics and the pin on the bottom that makes it official.

This is the same sign (albeit with a blurry picture), to show what the finished product looks like.  We should be installing this one next week.

Here is one of two concrete trucks we did graphics for today.  My boss and me and a couple of ladders took care of this job.  The graphics on the drum were printed on Oracal RapidAir film, and went on pretty well, all things considered.  We had a couple of hiccups, but my boss is very competent, and anything rough was smoothed out.  All in all, it's been fun!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

TUESDAY UPDATE: What's New with the BattleWagon

Phew... so what have I been up to?  For starters, I have the newest BattleWagon, and her name is Road Kill.  She's a beautiful beast of a 1983 Suburban.  It's the perfect truck for what I have going on, living in Bozeman, Montana with my new family.

Our long term goal is to have enough property for a few farm animals, a garden, and a yurt, and maybe another property back in Alaska to visit or shoot for as a bug-out.  For now, we're in an apartment with a year-long lease that ends next Spring.  We also got caught extremely off guard moving here and losing work, so now we're digging out of quite the financial hole.

Still, living here is beautiful.  I had the experience of the country song on a back road in Montana in an old Chevy truck with a beautiful girl sitting in the middle of the bench seat, right next to me.  It was amazing.  And, since we're cheap, we go hiking and have fallen in love with Hyalite Canyon, one of the many, many canyons that have raging creeks and start at small, clear lakes high in the mountains.

As practice for bugging out, we're going to do some family camping trips this summer.  The funds simply aren't there for the ultimate goal of yurts and overlanding, but we'll get there.  We're lucky to have landed in a place that has tons to offer in relatively close proximity, and for that, we're thankful.

MONDAY THROW-BACK: December 17, 2007 - Monday - 4:55PM - Denver, Colorado

[Personal Journal]

"My body is sore from a ¾ day of snowboarding yesterday at Loveland.  [The Chin] has made a very dramatic improvement since I rode with him about a year ago at Eldora.  A few more times up, and we may  be able to try some trees together.

"[BattleWagon1] has an oil leak somewhere.  I may be grounded for Christmas because of it.  I'll email Dad and get his thoughts.  If only I could ride the old Columbia to Salida and not die...

"Work today seemed productive.  Since [Lindey] was training to run the new printer, I had few distractions and accomplished a bit.  We were supposed to get a truck this afternoon, but it never showed.  I hope that doesn't throw off the rest of my week.

"I've been thinking a bunch about [The Oldest] over the past few days.  It's a little unsettling having him here.  I wish we could scatter him at Lily Lake, but I don't think [His Mom] or I are ready to discuss it yet."

It's interesting looking at brief accounts of what I was doing over seven years ago.  Here, one of my best friends, a dude with a huge chin, a total asshole of a pervert with the biggest heart you'd ever find, went snowboarding at Loveland Ski Area.

My first van, the original BattleWagon had a leak, too.  I remember one time I drove it from 13th & Quebec to 13th & Grant in Denver and had to put three quarts of oil in it to get me there.  I was convinced it was going to cost me thousands of dollars, so I didn't drive it for weeks.  It turned out to be a $100 (with labor) O-ring.

Lindey Staar, one of my favorite co-workers of all time, was working on the FujiFilm Acuity flatbed printer that the company I worked for at the time had recently purchased.  Since it's December in this entry, I'm guessing the truck I was talking about was one we were going to do graphics on.

Posting these entries are also forcing me to talk about my kiddo, the oldest son of mine, who passed away from SIDS when he was less than 5 months old.  He died in 2006, about a year and a half before I wrote this.  I had just been given my "share" of his ashes, and was bitter with his mother for a long time and for various reasons, many of which remain unjustified.  I was also crushing on a place called Lily Lake, a small, high-altitude lake on the backside of the Blanca Peak Massif in southern Colorado.  The Chin and I had hiked there a few months prior, and it was a truly religious experience

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Big Sky Series: The Update

It's been a while since I've posted. Life takes some turns. I find myself in Belgrade, Montana, quietly waiting for a young lady to run to the bank and get a title squared away. Last night, my family sold our only car, Chandler, a 1996 Geo Prism, and this morning, I'm adopting her replacement, a 1983 Chevy Suburban named Road Kill. We've found that having a sedan is difficult when there is two adults, a toddler, a newborn, a dog, and any amount of groceries or stuff to haul. Sacrificing fuel economy to be able to put everything in one car and still have room to pick up other people could be a game changer.

Yes, I've said it. A newborn. For those who don't follow me on Facebook, our little Fidget was born March 19, joining our growing family in our new place to call home, Bozeman, Montana. We decided to move here from Ketchikan, not in response to disappointment with all of the grandeur that is Alaska, but to be closer to The Boy, my son and My Queen's step son, who lives with his mom in Denver. The community here has been beautiful, and we found ourselves hitting the ground here running with overwhelming support from friends and family, new and old. K and J, friends of friends, let us stay on their futon before we found a place. The Unitarian Universalist church here has been wonderfully supportive and intellectually challenging. Gas is a dollar cheaper per gallon. Our biggest hurdle to overcome as a family continues to be financial, as my income after child support for The Boy and rent continues to allow only a hundred dollars for food, fuel, and various other expenses.

Still, My Queen and I feel optimistic that we're going to come out on top, knowing before we left Alaska that this was going to be the most difficult year of our lives. We're confident that, in a few years, we'll be able to tell stories about how hard life was and how we got through it together, laughing about the times we had only a few boxes of store brand macaroni and cheese to last us until payday, three days away.

Life is fickle, but it is also beautiful and to be cherished. We're going to be okay. We have help, donations of furniture, money, clothes and baby gear, all thrown our way, and while we'd love to pay it all back, we're accepting that, when we can, we'll only be able to pay it forward, and we'll do that. Life may be fickle, but it's so damn good to hear The Boy laughing when I get home from work that it's all worth it. Don't let the bastards grind you down.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Kindness and Hardship, my take on 2013

Life. Life is one crazy shit storm. Life hits you hard in the face, and then watches you bleed, and in the next moment, it patches you up and wraps you in a mother's embrace.

Last year was a hard year. 2013 did not skimp on the hardship. There was plenty of anguish and strife. My son left just before Christmas in 2012 with his mom in Denver. Until just before this Christmas, I hadn't seen him since.

2013 saw me selling virtually everything I owned to stay afloat. I had a 1976 Jeep pickup, lifted, with 35s. Gone. My TV, X-Box, Netflix, furniture, Honda... all gone to make it by. I moved on to a sailboat for four months, and now I have an apartment and can't afford that either.

It seems horrible, I know, and at times, it feels horrible, too.

However, now I am simple, and I love it. I have next to nothing that is collectable or impractical, but when I've reflected on 2013, I realized that I have EVERYTHING that really matters.

2013 saw the union of my girlfriend and me. It saw the incredible trust and companionship of this relationship, and in all of the most meaningful ways.

2013 was the year that my son did get to come have a Christmas with me in my house with my new family, his sister baking in her little oven until the end of March.

2013 was the year I met some of the most inspirational people, from the kids in Ohio who belong to my lady, friends and family that have protected and entertained her for years, all of whom took me in instantly as one of their own.

2013 was the year Pope Francis came, and while I'm not Catholic, I dig the shit out of that guy. You do good work, I do good work. We'll meet there.

2013 was the year that I went halibut fishing, and it was the year I got to camp on the beach with a beautiful woman and a three-legged dog.

For all of my gripes and bickering about how hard my life is, I have to continually remind myself that I have a loving family, I have a roof, food and water, clothes, a job, and a few dollars to my name. That's good enough.

I hope that 2014 is a relief, but I'll expect it to be worse, and that's okay. I can do worse. But I'll have people in the worse with me, and that's okay. I'm a lucky guy. I'm a very simply a lucky man. I hope I never forget that.

Here's to this year.