Friday, January 27, 2006

A Visit with the Gnomes

Last night while enjoying Baked Chicken legs and a salad from the South of France there was a knock at the door followed by Molly barking like a mad dog. She sits out on the porch looking out the screen door watching the world that she can no longer hear and barking at anything that moves to let them know she is still to be reckoned with. One of the Gnomes, Richard, had come over because they got a new Cable box and he was having trouble hooking it up. Could I come over and have a look? I grabbed my shoes and walked over with Richard through the gate, around the hoop on the sidewalk, past the trampoline in the yard and into the house. It was about 20 * hotter in their house then ours, they have more money for that sort of thing I think, and the house smelled of stale air and cigarette smoke. I had a look at the cable box as the Patriarch of the family looked on. The cords were switched on the box so I unscrewed them and placed them in the right order, in from the wall, out to the TV. "He got it wrong didn't he?" The old man said with a wry smile on his face. "Just a little mix up that's all" I said trying to help Richard save face. There were only two ways to do it, 50/50 chance and Richard just chose the wrong one but apparently I had unknowingly settled a bet and cigarettes were exchanged as I called the cable company to get the box to work. I made sure all was set up correctly and left the TV on channel 12 for the news. On the way Richard told me about the Hoop moving to the back yard as well as the trampoline. They are going to redo the yard for their parents and make it "real pretty" for summer. I shook Richards hand and told him I would help when the time came and crossed the street back to my chicken and chilly house.

It is always cool to see inside people's houses and since the Gnomes house is the same layout as ours it was even more cool. Where we have a living room they have a bedroom with two single beds. Where we have an entry/seating area they have a living room with two lazy-boy chairs and a small love seat. Where we have a dining room they have a dog room with baby gates keeping the dogs in. I saw 4 dogs but I only made a quick glance so there could be more . Where we have a Library the have another bedroom. Our Two bedrooms, Kitchen, and bathrooms match up with theirs and I couldn't see past the kitchen. There is a lot of photos of the kids and a shrine to Dale Ernhardt set up in the living room. It looked a lot like how I thought it would, but my conversations with the dad were a surprise. His eyes lit up when he found out we were expecting a baby and you could see that he loved his boys quite a bit. I don't know why that surprised me but it did and I felt ashamed that it did.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Recent Reads

I have been reading this book on the CIA that I heard about while in Oregon at our friend Pete's house. The book is called The Secret History of The CIA and it is very well written and very interesting but it is hard to keep up with who is good and who is bad. I am not sure if it is me but it reads like an overview of a season of Alias. Either Alias did a great job of telling their story or I am projecting that on the book because I liked the show so much. Either way I have been enjoying the book and I am a little sad that it is coming to an end. There is something about cloak and dagger spy stuff that is just so cool for guys. My buddy Kyle wants to have spy stuff in his house like a retina scan to get in or books with hidden compartments to hide stuff, or the kicker, to have a wall that moves when you lift a certain book. He talks about getting this stuff and it is not casual joking. He will have these things as part of his house within the next 5 years I'm sure.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Something about Tuesdays

For some reason I only post now on Tuesdays and I am not sure why. Work has been really busy and the only time I can get online is at work so I have an excuse there. I have also been studying quite a bit during lunch and not dorking around online like normal so that has contributed to the problem. Anyway I wanted to write a couple of lines about this story in the Indianapolis Star yesterday about Day-Light Savings time. As most of you know Indiana does not participate in DLS so we are in one time zone in the winter and another in summer. Well the new Gov came in and said forget that noise and pushed through a bill to get us on DLS. I didn't know that was a legislative issue but it has been very contenious around. Read the article if you get a chance but here is my favorite part:

"I'm gay, and I care a lot more about this issue than gay marriage. Or property taxes," Fleischaker said. "I'm just kind of a time fanatic, and I'm just not doing it."

This guy is a clock collector and he is so worked up about this DLS issue that it is the most important issue in all of politics. Really? Seriously? Maybe I'm just a simple West Coast guy that has had this DLS business brainwashed into me but this is an issue for you? How can your identity be so tied up in your time zone. This isn't a business issue for him like it is for the folks in Gary Indiana that work in Chicago and want to be on the same time. This is just a personal preference. Sorry Dude, move to Arizona if you want to be in the dark ages, we are going with Spring ahead and Fall back. The train is leaving the station my good man, get on board.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

All the news that is fit to Print

I passed my test so I am A+ certified through and through and I am now studying for Network+
I went to the Colts - Steelers game on Sunday and witnessed the drama first hand (thanks Tom!)
Kate and I painted a couple rooms in the house with paint procured with a Sears Gift card over two years old. By Kate and I painted I mean Tom and I of course as Kate went shopping with her mom instead of painting. Pregnant girls can get away with anything.
Kate has an interview on Wednesday Morning for a Temp job helping people get Temp Jobs.
Jesse and Carly are coming for a visit early next month Sweeeeeet ahh
my mom and Dad have taken in another teenager. They have a foreign exchange student from Brazil for the semester and all I can say is that is one lucky kid.
That's all I can think of right now, hope you are all doing well on this gloomy rainy snowy gray day.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

IT is going to be a boy, or it is a boy, or it's going to be...

We had our first and probably only ultra sound today and what an experience it was. I was blown away at that alien looking being growing in my wide's belly. There was a spine and little feet. There was a fave and and hands clasped together. There was movement and changing expressions. There was life and it was almost too much for me to absorb. Because of our recent reproductive history I have continually worried whether or not there was something real in Kate's belly and today was a resounding yes. I will try to write more about how it was and how it felt but for now there is a crazy alien picture that to me is beautiful.

The Smoking Man

Every morning on my way into the side doors of the office I pass this guy lurking in an alcove to the left of the door. He is always bundled up with one hand in his pocket and the other hand holding a cigarette to his lips as he takes long deliberate drags. He is shadowy and mysterious and way to X-Filesesque for my taste. I keep waiting for him to blow my mind with some startling revelation about secrets I shouldn’t know about. I haven’t talked to him apart from the “hey” that accompanies a quick nod of the head that acknowledges his presence without the need for conversation. I haven’t ever seen the guy in the building or during any other time but he is there every morning. Maybe he is spying on me for the Soviets, or maybe he is the look out for a book stealing crime syndicate that steals books one at a time. Maybe he is a recluse editor that slowly smokes as he plots how he is going to blow up the place if someone doesn’t return his stapler. Those or the three best ideas I have, what are yours?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

IO.SYS + Coffee + TCP/IP + fresh bread = A+

I'm sitting in Panera fresh from finishing a practive test for the A+ OS test that I will be taking on Thursday afternoon. I got an 86% and I am feeling much better then I did earlier today. I am tied up in knots worrying about this test and the various practice tests I have taken do little to lessen that anxiety. I am feeling more and more prepared and the questions are starting to take on a familar patern. I know the stuff now, it is just a matter of answering the questions. Once I finish this test I will be A+ certified and have finished the toughest two tests of the cert process. Though they cover basic info the tests are much harder then the later advanced ones because of the large area of knowledge they cover. I have set a goal of finishing all my tests by the time the baby is born and that is going to mean a couple late nights at Panera studying but I know I can do it. As you think about it can you be praying for me or think good thoughts or whatever it is that you personal beliefs call for in times like this. Most of you all reading this are the people who give me the most strength.

Not exactly Tuesday's with Morrie but I like it anyway

The excited tone of my phone alarm breaks the early morning silence and I am greeted with the chilly pre-dawn promise of cold floors and a groggy shower. Tuesday mornings I get up an hour earlier to have coffee and chat with some guys in the neighborhood. We meet under the guise of “Prayer Group” but must admit that we don’t often pray during those times. We do chat and drink coffee though and I am coming to look forward to those times earlier and earlier through out the week.

There are two or three guys that come every once and while, another that comes most of the time, and two of us that are there every Tuesday. We talk about God and Babies, Horror movies and wives, anxieties and insecurities and we laugh. There is no magic to the meeting and two hours later I can’t tell you what was so funny or so great about that time but I wait expectantly for it starting at about 10 AM on Tuesday. I file away thoughts and stories to tell the guys when I see them next and pray for them when there face comes across my mind. There is something quietly building there beneath the surface, unseen, and the glimpses I get are beautiful.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Fountain Square: I’ll keep it this way

Kate Rohl
By almost all accounts,
Fountain Square is going in a very good direction, or at least a cleaner more Starbucks-friendly direction. For now it is sort of endearingly diverse in both its problems and its charms. It has that distinctly Midwestern feel that comes with American made cars with Bush campaign stickers from the first election and “God Copilot” license plate covers. It has the problems of predominately low-income neighborhoods where kids’ parents work and so they get away with more and maybe have less expected from them. The police make regular rounds. Nobody rakes their leaves.

My husband James and I moved to Fountain Square five months ago so we are neither authorities on its history nor observers of its progress. But as transplants from southern California’s mountains, ocean and privately asture residents, we are at least privy, as maybe only outsiders can be, to its contradictions and idiosyncratic appeal.

The business district around the intersection of Virginia, Prospect and Shelby streets offers its own demographic study of the surrounding area’s polarity. The posh, vegetarian-friendly Decadent by Design CafĂ© sprang up across the street from Peppy’s Grill, a grease-pit favorite of late night drunks, drag queens and police officers. And a favorite Indy character Deano, opened his bigger and swankier Deano’s Vino where art and music types stop for a bottle of wine or a mug of the recommended microbrew. But the vast pedestrian crowd that has already reached a point of intoxication that makes vehicles (even bikes) unnavigable, will always prefer to swagger down the concealed alley to patronize the Liquor Shop. It’s all just food and drink though. And sometimes you do just want a plate of fish-sticks and a bottle of whisky in a bag.

In terms of the homes, we are proud to say that our block, minus the bank owned eyesore at the end of the street, has been predominantly reawakened to its historical beauty. That is to say, most homes are privately owned by families where the people outnumber the dogs, the parents work in some reputable or at least not illegal profession and the abandoned cars are mostly relegated to the back yard. The eaves and front porches have been updated to current building standards but most maintain almost the same gabled, gingerbread-type appearance that they did in the late nineteenth century when their working class owners first moved in. In fact, besides those of us foreigners from the suburbs who thrill in “roughing it” in a troubled neighborhood, the families are still the same lower class, vastly white, blue collar workers that their predecessors were. They just have cable TV and Ford trucks.

Other blocks are not so well accoutremented. We hear horror stories of drug shootings and white-supremacist gangs a few close streets away and police sirens often scream into alleys to quell the frequent domestic disturbance complaints. Most homes are rentals, ill kept and heavily populated. Any historic charm has been chopped up by multiple entrances and masked by hordes of decrepit children’s toys and mangy dogs in the yard. A few beautiful homes have been bought up and fixed up by wonderful outsiders--families or organizations.

We have great friends in the area who come from other places and wanted, like us, to be a part of a neighborhood rejuvenation project and buy while prices were low. They are students and psychologists, lawyers and stay-at-home moms, artists and professionals. If more like them would come to Fountain Square, we would be on our way to Georgetown sophistication or Greenwich Village erudition. But I think we would all miss the current charm we have; a charm that comes from a more diverse diversity than any ideal projections of multi-racial success.

I for one would miss the family across the street--a role confused collection of grown brothers and unmatched children living with what appears to be a set of industrious parents who support the whole lot. We affectionately call them “the gnomes” because all male members of the family go shirtless for the non-winter months and sit around the front yard like round-bellied garden statues. We would miss our Fountain Square native next-door-neighbors--a couple who can claim neighborhood authority by both longevity and attentiveness. The husband Ron patrols the area from both front and back porch while strumming his guitar and crooning songs from his former rockabilly fame in the fifties and sixties. He lectures us over our chain link fence on deadbolts and motion lights while shooing their pair of constantly yipping white dogs and yelling for his quiet wife to bring his cigarettes from the kitchen. He remembers when the theater was a theater and then when it sat empty. He is offended at the idea that Fountain Square would become another Broad Ripple. And despite his sometimes nearly offensive comments about the gays next door and his diligent conviction that if we are not attending his Baptist church on the corner, we are damned, he is a wonderful man.

In fact, when James and I came home from work to find our front door smashed in and all our drawers overturned by an intruder, Ron felt personally responsible. He said it must have happened around noon when he went inside to watch Andy Griffith, otherwise he would have seen. And if he had seen, the perpetrator would still be on the ground with Ron’s gun pointed at him and the police on their way. The gnomes came out to hear the story and put in their part. As it turned out, Junior, one of the shirtless brothers who talks slowly and with a slur, had seen the man leave the house but hadn’t realized he had intruded. His older, more intelligent but not less intoxicated brother harangued him for his inaction. As penance, Junior went inside, put on a shirt and came out to wait on the sidewalk to give his statement to the police. He repetitively listed to himself, “black hooded sweatshirt, white gloves, couldn’t tell black or white.”

Since the only thing missing from the house was a Boris Yeltsin doll filled with change, our sober, more sophisticated neighbors found a jar, took up a collection and gave us back our change. More change actually; we made a profit. But Ron would have shot a man and Junior put his shirt on. That’s something. I would miss that.