Gianna’s First Parade

Gianna Watching the Parade with Grandma

Yesterday we went to Gianna’s first parade, the University of Montana’s Homecoming Parade.

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I’m not at all a football fan, nor am I a fan of annoying sports-crowds. But I agreed with Melissa and my mom that Gianna would like going to a parade, so we took her. For the occasion, I dressed her in her princess dress from MisCon and her Christmas hat from last year. It still barely fits.

She was scared of the first marching band (it was noisy), but she quickly got used to what was happening and had fun.

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Finding Bigfoot: Hidden Giant of the Woods or BS?

Tonight I got stuck watching a few episodes of Finding Bigfoot.

I want to believe. I do. I love the idea that the woods are a mysterious place we haven’t fully explored. It would be cool if

Clyde in the Snow
Oh my god! Is that Bigfoot?!?

sasquatches wandered around in the woods, wouldn’t it? As a kid, I always thought they did. I’d see them out there in the woods, especially on the legendary “Indian Land” adjacent to our cabin at Flathead Lake.

Indian Land is property owned by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Native American tribes.We weren’t officially allowed (by our parents) to slip through the barbed wire fence and go exploring on Indian Land, and in general, we didn’t. We knew bears roamed the woods, as did cows–we’d hear them mooing almost every morning. Sometimes we’d see them wandering through the trees. A badger took up residence along the edge of Indian Land one spring, adding a measure of danger to the whole thing. Looking back, I’d say that the forbidden nature of that stretch of the woods just added to the mystery of what sort of creatures lurked there.

I knew Bigfoot lived there with fairies and werewolves and witches and elves and other secretive things. Maybe even dragons.

But nowadays?

Well, I’ve walked those woods and many other forests. I’ve spent time wandering the hills and absorbing nature. I’ve seen some pretty cool stuff, but I haven’t seen any of these things. Does this mean I’m sure they don’t exist? No, it doesn’t. But it makes it a lot tougher to believe any of that stuff is actually hiding out there, doesn’t it?

I suppose I feel like an adult who left Neverland and forgot about the magic.

So back to Bigfoot and the really terrible tv show Finding Bigfoot on Animal Planet.

I’d like to think that Bigfoot lurks somewhere out there, but the odds are stacked against it, especially in this technologically advanced age. The people on this show . . . let’s just say they annoy me. They go around looking for Sasquatch, or Sqwatch as they say, implying some sort of easy familiarity between them. They present themselves as foremost experts on Bigfoot, and pretend to have vast experience with them. They have all the modern techno devices a Bigfoot hunting team should ever need: infrared cameras, 360 degree nightvision cameras, microphones, you name it. They are so geared up that they should be able to find any 7 foot tall creature in the woods.

So where’s their proof?

Branches and the Moon
"Now that's a Squatch-ish moon, if I ever saw one"

I watched them wander around Georgia and Minnesota, looking for signs. They found some tracks they thought were evidence of Bigfoot, but no hair or imagery or anything else. Even at night with nightvision and infraread–they found nothing at all. What they did have were a lot of stupid sayings:

“That’s a very Saasquatch-y sort of thing to do . . .”

“Sasquatches have flat feet. Not an arch, like us. That’s what I look for.”

“Sasquatches tend to find a place they like and keep coming back.”

‎”This is what I call Sqwatchin.”

Now, a reality show is only as good as the people on it. These days the subject of the show doesn’t seem to matter nearly as much as the personalities of the people you’re watching. I love Swamp People. I don’t really care so much about alligators, but I really like following the people.

The idiots on Finding Bigfoot are extremely annoying. They rub me the wrong way and make me want to disbelieve in Bigfoot.

I want to believe. What about you? Do Sasquatches exist? If so, how do they manege to elude us? Why don’t we have more definitive proof?

The Car Graveyard: It’s Not Just Junk. It’s a Time Machine.

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As you wander through a car boneyard, you can smell everything rotting around you–the fabric of the seats, headliners, rubber tires, gaskets, window seals. Some of the cars stink of mildew and off-gassing formaldehyde. The zillion colors of fading paint almost flake off when you walk by, and rust clings to everything. The cars have often sunk into thick mud. I’ve seen a tree growing up through the floorpan of an old GTO.

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A lot of the cars are just junk to most people, me included, but sometimes you’ll find some cool old stuff from the 1960s and earlier. There’s not much like suddenly coming upon an old 1930s Oldsmobile that has mostly gone to hell and getting a chance to see how they were built, the craftsmanship involved, the styling, the design. I like the steering wheels, in particular.

I got my 1955 Cadillac from this private yard outside Hamilton, Montana (the guy also had running cars) back in 2003, I think. We had gone there to look for parts for my dad’s 1959 El Camino that he was restoring.

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I just went along for the ride, really. I never intended to come home with a car, let alone an old Cadillac. I have always been into cars, and in more recent years, while the muscle car craze was in full swing, I developed an affinity for 1950s classics. They’re bigger, curvier, chromier (new word I just invented). They’re larger than life. They epitomize the good parts of 50s American prosperity (as opposed to all the racist events of the day). And in the case of my Cadillac, it makes everybody smile when they see it drive by. I fell in love with the big green monstrosity as soon as I saw it sitting there covered in dust.

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Being as my dad is always working on cars (and has been my whole life), I grew up going to car graveyards. When I was a kid, it sucked. It wasn’t any fun. But in those days, we were going there to find a cheap but necessary repair part for one of our vehicles. That’s not nearly as much fun as hunting for some little factory Cadillac or Oldsmobile or Chevelle or GTO part they don’t reproduce.

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Wandering around these paces makes me nostalgic for days that vanished decades before I was born. It makes me think about what the old days were like, and the people who designed, built, sold, bought, and lived in these cars.

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Junkyards like this are usually quiet. You might hear distant highway noise, but most often you just hear a little bit of wind, especially if you go off alone. I’m not sure why, but it always seems to be both muddy and windy when we go parts-hunting. The sighing of the wind just adds to the sense of being dislocated from our time and transported back. It makes me think of Laverne and Shirley, All in the Family, and Taxi, all tv shows from my early childhood.

It’s almost like I hear Archie Bunker sitting in his armchair bitching about hippies and I feel a little sad. Isn’t that silly? But it’s true–it also makes me think of all my grandpa’s stories of the cars he had throughout his life, the crazy things he did, the times he ended up in the barrow pit, or blew up a motor racing some guy in a Ford. I guess it’s a way for me to connect with the past in some way, whether it’s the real past or some strange amalgamation of real and imaginary things drawn out of my memories.

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I suppose I have been waxing nostalgic lately. It’s probably because Gianna just turned a big one-year-old yesterday, so I’m thinking about the passage time and what’s gained and lost as the world grinds on. It’s that and the fact that the novel I’m working on, Unleashed: the Eddie Black Story, takes me back to another era.

What about you? What brings you back to the “good” old days?

You Don’t have to Worry, Bozo

I’m not a worrier.

Worrying is  not in my makeup. I’ve never really wasted the energy or the time worrying. Well, I say never, and I mean it, although just like anybody else, I have certainly worried about specific things here and there–maybe the night before giving a speech or a test, or in the minutes before some important event. But I almost never worry about anything.

Why?

Who knows? I sure don’t. I suspect it’s genetic–if you could examine my makeup, I bet you’d see that whatever gene or genes are responsible for making us worry are just not expressed in me much. It’s a chemical thing that I can’t control one way or the other. I guess my way of thinking is also just not compatible with worrying. I’m always thinking about the things I’m working on–this keeps me busy enough that I am generally constantly moving from one project to the next and don’t take the time to sit around thinking about how things aren’t going to turn out.

There’s a reason this website is called Hey! There is No Try.

So, even though I’m the way I am and don’t have to worry about worrying (pun intended), I have one idea for how you worriers might be able to forget about your problems: do something.

Be creative or productive, or do something fun. On the rare times that I do find myself feeling anxious or tense about something coming up, I just throw myself into a project 100%.

I write, or blog, or jump into the MisCon schedule, or play a video game (damn you, Skyrim! *shakes fist at sky*), take Clyde for a

On a Walk
I recently took the dogs and the kid for a walk by myself.

walk, go for a run, play with Gianna, kiss up Melissa, whatever. Exercise is probably one of the best ways to divert your attention to something positive, especially since it saps your energy and whips you into shape.

Try it.

You’ll still worry, but you’ll have accomplished something and feel better about yourself.

As a side note, I got thinking about worrying this morning after reading an excellent blog post from Dakota over at Creative Chimera. She’s talking about being present and in the moment. Plus, she’s cool since she helped put together the program book for MisCon 25. Anybody who volunteers for a great science fiction convention like MisCon has to be pretty cool, don’t they?

So, as usual, get out there and do something. Don’t just sit around worrying.

Do or Do Not. There is no Try.

Fun With Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoid Image Not Available

Today, I’m going to talk about Hemorrhoids.

That’s right. Hemorrhoids.

Luckily, I haven’t had hemorrhoid issues for a couple years (knocking on wood right now). But I have had some terrible trouble with them in the past, let me tell you. It all started about 9 years ago . . .

Funny True Story:

One summer, my cousin was working for us, helping scrape the paint off an old farm house down in Corvallis, Montana. It belonged to an 89-year-old lady who had been born in the house and lived there ever since. She had a dog named Dish Rags (he looked like a little pile of dish rags).

So we were scraping away, and my cousin started talking about his hemorrhoid issues. He had been moving sort of gingerly all morning, like something was wrong, but I hadn’t thought too much about it. He’s 5 years younger than me (in his early twenties thenHemorrhoid Image Not Available), and I was pretty surprised to hear him admit something like that (I was even more surprised that he had hemorrhoids in the first place since I knew nothing about them and thought they only affected unlucky old people).

Unfortunately, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

We talked about his hemorrhoids for a little while (he’s very candid), and I remember basically thinking “Jesus, that’s terrible–glad I’ll never have that problem!”

Right.

Literally, a few minutes later, I went into the house, used the toilet, and whamo! Youch. What the hell was that? Why is my anus suddenly burning like crazy? Did I rupture something? I probed down there and could feel some kind of swollen worm-like thing that terrified the hell out of me. Holy %$#@!

I never in a million years considered that I had just spontaneously developed a nasty little hemorrhoid.

I pulled myself together and went back outside, wondering what the hell was wrong with me. Since we were working about 40 miles out of town, I couldn’t very well go home and lie down, and I had to get back to scraping paint. And of course in those days I couldn’t just whip out a smartphone and Google “I just pooped and now my butt is burning,” (which is exactly what I would do now).

As the day went on, the burning got worse, the little bastard got bigger, and it started to itch. In my very lucky life, I’ve never had a broken bone, never really been especially sick at all. I wasn’t used to having something wrong with me–this whole burning, itchy butt thing sucked.

I took this as a lesson in the mysterious ways of Karma–don’t be smug about someone else’s misfortune, cause you’re next, numbskull.

It was also a lesson about proper pooping techniques: it’s not a good idea to just let her rip and push like hell. Sometimes you end up with hemorrhoids. Even in your twenties.

But above everything, do you know what absolutely blew me away? LOTS of people have hemorrhoids.

That’s right. Lots of people have them, but NOBODY talks about it.

I learned this because, as I do with everything in my life, I went around discussing my hemorrhoid dilemma with pretty much everybody I knew.

That’s right.

I bitched and whined and complained about it. I wasn’t shy about heading off to the bathroom to apply Preparation H to my nether region. I described it to everybody (in more detail than I have here, if you can believe that).

I read all about hemorrhoids online and learned that many women get them after giving birth–sometimes they last for decades. Seriously. Decades. Since I was so open about it, other people started piping up about their secret hemorrhoid issues. I was shocked to learn that almost every adult I knew admitted to having them at some point. Almost everybody.

I mentioned this to some of my older relatives and found out that one still suffers from hemorrhoids from having kids in the early 1950s. Yes, the Fifties.

Usually hemorrhoids show up for a week or so, then fade away. Maybe they pay you a visit off and on throughout your life, then for the most part they go away. But 50 years?

Oh my god.

Really? I mean, come on, really? It put it into perspective for me.

Hemorrhoids are not for old people or weaklings or invalids. They’re a human thing that almost everybody gets at some point, especially when you least expect it. So if your butt starts burning one day(if it hasn’t already), don’t be embarrassed. You’re not the only one and welcome to the friggin’ club.

I’m curious to see if any of you respond with your own hemorrhoid misadventures . . . come on, I dare you!

Picture of the Day: Beaver Slides

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Beaver Slides are the contraptions in the background of the picture. They were used to gather up hay back in the old days (when my grandpa was a kid). These ones used to sit (and still might) near Deerlodge, Montana.