Category Archives: family

Anything related to my family, immediate and extended

I visited Arlington, former home and land of Gen. Robt. E. Lee

Arlington house, the former home of American hero Robert E. Lee behind us.

On my recent getaway to DC, we took an entire day to visit Arlington Cemetery.  Arlington is one of the places I’ve always been interested in visiting since I learned it’s history and connection to American hero, General R.E. Lee, so many years ago.

I realize what I say might make some of you unhappy, but I was really disappointed in the whole thing.

First, Lee’s home was closed for renovation and they don’t expect it to be re-opened until late 2019 or 2020. Honestly, the home is the main reason I’ve always wanted to go. They tell you that you can still walk the grounds of the home, but it is surrounded by a tall fence with a sort of curtain (you can see what I mean by the picture) – so you can’t really even see the house while you’re up next to it. You can see it from a distance at many places around the park – but it’s not the same.

Me at some amphitheater near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Secondly, the park claimed to have “artifacts from the home” at the Women in War Memorial – but those artifacts amounted to some brochures of what you can’t see because of the renovation. The Women in War Memorial was also a pretty sad presentation, especially in light of all the amazing things women have contributed to the US War effort from the beginning of US History. Yeah…if you go to Arlington, skip the Women in War Memorial. You can find far better content on the interwebbynet.

I know I’m supposed to tell you how awesome the JFK Memorial is, but…eh, It was a slab of rock and a flame. I was not impressed in the least.

We took the bus tour – which I can’t say I recommend. Oh, it was nice not to be walking around the entire thing and UP the hills, but we whizzed through most of the grounds just getting from one stop to the next. Out of the 400,000-ish tombstones at Arlington, they mentioned only about 10 “in passing,” and about 8 of them were “First African American” this or “first woman” that, that is seemed like such a blatant attempt – to me – to ignore any others of note that weren’t either women or black. One memorial (I assume it was a white guy, but I don’t know who it was) was mentioned twice simply so the tour guide could mention that the person in question thought Lee was a traitor. And yes, he really did make a point to say it twice. Why? What was the point of that?

Thought we might drop in and catch a bite to eat with Trump…yeah, they still wouldn’t let us.

The highlight probably will not surprise you. It was, of course, the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is pretty somber to watch the guard march back and forth, guarding the tomb. The attention to detail by the soldiers in the ceremony is pretty incredible. It made the entire trip to the park worth it, and I highly recommend you stay for the ceremony if you get to visit the cemetery.

Even though I was overall disappointed, I’m still glad I went because it was one of the things I’ve always wanted to do.

And now I have…thanks to my wife.

(pictures by her!)

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I saw DC!

Me & wifey at Trump’s house…he wasn’t home…well, they wouldn’t let us see him, anyway…

The wife surprised me with a trip to Washington, DC. Seems she thought I really needed to get away (see my recent blog post about my high BP – which is slowly improving, thanks) and so she whisked me away.

We wanted to catch the main things on day 1. She got us a hotel close to all the sites, so we got a lot of walking in. First place we headed was Trump’s house! We were surprised to find the main road in front all blocked off. You could still see the house, but it wasn’t like I’d always seen in pictures.

Trump wasn’t home, so we made our way around back were we learned we’d only just missed the Christmas Tree lighting by the First Lady the night before (we were likely in the shuttle on the way to the hotel). They were still taking the stands d  own from the night before so we decided to come back and visit when it was dark.

Me & wifey at the WW2 Memorial, Washington Mon in the distance.

We made our way to the Washington Monument but couldn’t get close as they were doing repairs. Seems Spiderman had gone at it against the Vulture or some such. We got a good look from just outside the fences though.

We made our way over to the WW2 Memorial and it was very cool. It is right beside the Reflecting Pool that leads to the Lincoln Memorial, so we walked along the pool a bit before heading over to the Smithsonian for American History.

I had no idea they were free to enter. I entered the front door fully expecting to pay an admission of some sort… but it’s FREE! We were there several hours–honestly I lost track of time so I’m not sure how long…but regardless, we didn’t get to see all of it. 😦

Needless to say, I enjoyed the heck out of it! We we were worn out. WE got in 16k steps that day for those keeping track.

The next day we spent the entire time at Arlington. It’ll write about it separately–in part 2, because Lee’s former home deserves an entire entry!

Trump’s tree was big…so big…it’s the biggest tree I’ve ever seen. So big.

We also made it back to the White House at night and the street in front was open so we got to get closer than before. We also got to see the tree at night. The base has several model trains – which, of course, I really enjoyed. Another cool thing is that there are 50 trees around the tree, one for every state. The ornaments on the trees all come from a middle school class in the respective state. Pretty cool.

All in all, a fun little get away planned by wifey!

(pics by wifey!)

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I promise I’m not ignoring you

So, it would seem like I’ve been ignoring this space since Brett graduated from high school. While I confess to being absent from the page, I promise it isn’t intentional.

Let’s catch up!

So, yeah…Brett, my youngest, graduated from high school in May. >sniff< My baby and all that.

May also saw me and some very talented artists run the CAT & MOUSE #1 kickstarter. That was funded in two days thanks to some very generous support by some very cool people—many of you included!

June saw me working hard to get it all together: get the comic as well as all the other goodies (sticker, bookmark, trading card) printed. My good pals at Ka-Blam handled the fulfillment, taking a HUGE load off me and doing a TREMENDOUS job. If you’ve got a comic thing and you want it printed: hands down, go there! Tell them I sent you!

July and August I taught considerable overload at the university. In August, I had five (5!) classes (my “normal” load is two: one campus and one online every month). I pretty much only did that—and a few store signings trying to promote C&M #1.

In September, I still had four classes, but exhaustion was hitting me from the earlier months and I just wanted to rest when I wasn’t doing school stuff.

This month, I’m “down” to three classes and things SEEM to be getting back to something resembling normal.

We’re working on CAT & MOUSE #2, but that’s all in Dean’s hands for now. I’ve got several other comic things happening that I’ll just tease you about here and get more detailed as I get more:

I’m working on a CHAMPION AND MISS FURY mini-series with my longtime pal and stellar artist Jaxon Renick. Another spectacular artist and longtime friend Chuck Bordell has agreed to ink it! Jax has done some very cool sketches that I’m not quite ready to show you, but he’s working on the first issue as I type this.

I’m working on a sci-fi short with another longtime friend and super artist Henry Martinez. Without much art, we’ve already been approached at the possibility of the story being in a sci-fi anthology!

I’ve been talking to Paul Pelletier about a new DEMON mini-series…he’s just looking for a hole in his schedule as DC is keeping him very busy.

I’ll name drop some other artists, but it’s still a little early to talk about specifics with them: Alan McMillian, Willie Peppers, Mike Belcher, Mike Kooistra (new artist—you’re going to dig what we’re working on!), and Eagle are all folks I’m still in early stages of story with. Would love to see them all happen in 2019!

No, I haven’t been able to talk Deonna Herrold into more TINY or even something new—but I continue to try!

I’m also about 95% convinced to “bring back” Silverline as a more active indy participant. There have been some pretty cool folks offer to help me this time around, and I’ve dropped lines to writers and artists that I know and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. With the woes at Marvel and DC, this seems to be a good time for independent comics to come out with some good content! And, as I know a lot of really cool comic folks, it’d be fun to do that again.

So…yeah…now we’re caught up and hopefully I won’t be so absent.

Oh—and my hogs are stinkin’ up the football field this year. My WOO PIG has become WOE PIG!

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You2 are the one

You

are the one who was so anxious to enter the world that you put your mom on bedrest for two months before you were born.

You

are the one who arrived three weeks early despite the above.

You

are the one who peed on your sister the first time she tried to change your diaper.

You

are the one who, as soon as you learned to walk, ran and tackled your mom every time you ran to her.

You

are the one who had to have breathing treatments so frequently as a baby that we bought our own nebulizer to save money.

You

are the one who wants to beat his sister at everything you do…and often do!

You

are the one played with your army men anywhere and everywhere…and we have pictures to prove it.

You

are the one who, as Superman, wanted Batman (me) to wake you every morning.

You

are the one who started first grade a year early because all the teachers said you were ready…and now you can’t stand school. Thankfully—you graduated!

You

are the one who, when dodging balls thrown at him by his sister, smashed his head into a brick wall which necessitated a staple…which earned you the nickname of “metalhead.”

You

are the one who has made your own way: marching band, jazz band, symphonic band, and two senior superior ratings—where’d that come from?

You

are your momma’s wild thing—and yes, you make her heart sing!

You

are truly my son: the only one in your class to have read The Constitution by fifth grade and to not just know that Lincoln freed no slaves, but why he didn’t.

You

are truly my son: you’ve read more cool books and comic books than most of your friends…and you’re proud of your “geek” badge!

You

are the one who isn’t sure what he wants to do for the rest of his life…and that’s okay because you have the rest of your life to figure it out!

You

are the one who waited nearly a year to get his driver’s license, despite the fact that your mom and dad continued to encourage you to do so regularly!

You

are the one who is incredibly musically talented, despite your ability to recognize that fact (and yes, you can sing!)

You

are the one with whom I’m still close, despite so many of my friends telling me that would end at sixteen.

You

are my gaming buddy.

You

are the one who still loves me despite my parental errors.

You

are the one of whom I am incredibly proud for so many reasons. I hope you at least know some of them.

You

are my big helper.

You

are my buddy.

You

are my one and only son.

You

are the one that I love…

One, two, three!

 

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Happy New Year? And Florida Pop Con!

The question mark comes because we’re 30 days into 2018 and I’m just now writing those words here. ARGH. Okay, I’ll take my abuse now—bring it on.

But, while you’re doing so, watch this video (made on time, but I’m giving you the link late) and enjoy well wishes from my family!

2017 was a good year, but man did it fly by! It marked an entire year since my daughter moved out of the house and to La-La Land. L Hush. That’s just dust in my eyes!

But we’re deep into 2018, so let’s roll!

I had Auburndale CityCon on my calendar for January, but multiple emails to them have gone without a response…so I guess the convention is no more?

This weekend, though, I’m a comic guest at FLORIDA POP CON, an inaugural show that isn’t that far from me! It isn’t “just” a comic con, it’s got a little of everything. There will be actors there from The Walking Dead…if you’re into that kind of thing. 🙂 I’ll also have something new at the show (read on!)

In April, I’ll be a comic guest at the one and only Daytona Comic Con. One of the very best in the area, it’s jammed packed with comics, always a good thing for the comic fan. I know I always walk out with near as many comics as I walked in with! If you’re a comic fan, make the drive and attend this show!

In August, I’ll be returning to the Pikeville Comic Con in Pikeville, Ky. This will be their 2nd annual show, and the first one was so much fun and so well organized. It was hard to believe it was the first one. But I’m looking forward to a return trip!

In November, I’ve got an informal invite to be a comic guest at ComicConWay, a show I’ve been itching to get to for several years now. They’ve had quite a few of my comic making pals there, and they all rave about what a good show it is. Plus, I just love Arkansas.

While the date isn’t set yet, I’ll be appearing at the Altamonte Springs Collect-A-Con, another great show very local to me (I always tell my comic reading students they should go!)

Hoping to add a few more to the calendar and am hoping to add shows in GA and SC. Just hoping to hear positive things back from the organizers of those shows.

Hoping this year is good to me for creative work, too. This weekend, I’ll debut the collected version of TINY! Deonna has a full time gig now that she’s done gone and got herself graduated…but I keep the bug in her ear to do something else.

We’re about halfway done with Cat & Mouse #1. I’ve got to say I’m super-stoked to be working with such a great art team: Dean Zachary, Barb Kaalberg, and Kevin Gallegly are really turning in some superior work. Here’s page 1 just to whet your appetite! We’re…VERY close to launching the Kickstarter for it, so I’m telling you now to sock away a few bucks for it so that you can help us out.

While I can’t exactly talk about the project yet, I’m working with longtime pals and spectacular artists Jaxon Renick and Chuck Bordell. Really close to getting a colorist lined up…but he hasn’t confirmed yet (maybe he’ll do so when he reads this! Haha)

There are a few others…but probably too early to talk about them.

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Trials of a band chaperone

This post is not for the weak at heart. It will contain gruesome images of my skint (yep, and that’s how we SAY it down South!) knee and me moaning in pain on the floor! Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

My skint knee. It actually looked worse than it was!

One of the joys of having a high school student in the band is acting as band chaperone. For those who might not know (I didn’t), it’s exactly what you might expect—and so much more. It’s a combination chaperone and heavy metal band roadie!

The chaperone part is yeah—just watching them and making sure they don’t do things they’re not supposed to do; like slip off under the bleachers and start necking (oh come on—you’re not THAT far removed from high school that you don’t remember that!). The roadie part is moving stuff from here to there. Most of the heavy stuff is handled by the “equipment crew,” a bunch of dads who really just assist the students who do most of the grunt work themselves. Sometimes, though, chaperones have to kick in, particularly with our really large pit. No, not the race car pit, but the music kind (no, I didn’t know either): it consists mostly of xylophones, but there’s a full trap drum set, a gong, keyboards, and other such stuff. It’s not as easy to push that stuff through the grass/sand as you might think—I’ve done it.

This is what I’m talking about–how the coolers are loaded on a dolly…full of water!

Anyway, the whole point this blog is that at a recent competition I was lugging water around (it was terribly hot that day) on a dolly (heard some folks refer to it as a “hand cart,” but there’s not much “cart-y” about it!); two round containers FULL of water (meaning, heavy), lugged around on the dolly.

So I’d dragged this dolly to one place—it was the wrong place. I had to take it all the way back to where I had started. I hadn’t been there very long and it was time to go again. By this time, I’m beginning to get a bit tuckered out. As we head down a slight incline, I go to change the hand that’s pulling the cart (changing from right to left, but not sure that matters) and the cart begins to set up on me. Not a big deal, except it catches the back of my heel and I begin to fall forward…and bring the dolly with me, full water containers and all!

Immediately I felt more embarrassed than hurt, but it didn’t take long for me to realize blood was running down my leg and my arm hurt like crazy. They took me to first aid there at the competition where it was mostly band kids having issues with the heat (including Brett a little later). They looked at me, cleaned the knee a bit, and then suggested I get the arm x-rayed. I laid down in the floor while waiting to figure out how I’d get there (see the pic)…I’d ridden the bus with the band and didn’t have a vehicle.

Here I am, ice on my arm, trying my best not to moan!

A fellow chaperone had driven her vehicle and she took me and BJ to the local Urgent Care where they x-rayed my elbow to tell me it wasn’t broken and it was probably just a deep muscle bruise. But I’m telling you, it hurt like crazy.

In fact, I went to follow up with another x-ray on Wednesday (four days later) because I still had a lot of pain. Nope, still wasn’t broken; the doctor said it was probably just a deep bruise and—here it comes—I was old and didn’t heal as fast.

Three weeks later and my arm still experiences some pain if I move it the wrong way. I’m frequently being told by some of my more smart-mouthed friends “don’t move it that way, then.” Sometimes the pain is still sharp.

I still think I broke it…the x-rays just aren’t picked it up.

Old.

Hmph!

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Raising a girl-child and a boy-child

I’m the proud owner of both a girl child and a boy child—and they couldn’t be more different from each other if we had tried. (okay, okay, neither of them are actually a “child” anymore…just roll with it) Thing is, we didn’t do anything different with the two when they were babies.

I can remember before my girl child, my firstborn, arrived. We were in California at the time and were offered untold suggestions, hints, advice—all un-solicited—but all welcomed from veteran parents. Most of the advice was good as it was practical: avoid these foods, watch out for this diaper, be sure this happens before you leave the hospital. It came from the voice(s) of experience, and they were passing that “been there, done that” experience on to us.

One common thing we read, though—and we read a LOT—wasn’t about practical stuff, it was about how not to brainwash your kid. Okay, that’s not what they said, but it was essentially the meat of it. In a nutshell, the argument was that kids turn out the way they do because of the way we raise them. If we provide all gender neutral colors, etc., they won’t grow up like the “stereotype.” Whatever that means.

So, when my first—the girl child—came along, we did much of that: we avoided pink, and girly, froufrou stuff. Yeah—like that mattered. As soon as girl child was old enough to pick what she liked, she went pink. ALL pink! EVERYTHING was pink because that is what she wanted. We didn’t push it on her, she chose it!

She’s since moved on from pink, preferring the more subtle purple, but still…the whole point of this was that all those magazines and books we read about what to do when raising the girl-child were so much hooey. She was born with her unique personality and she wanted to do the things she wanted to do…and that was to be a pretty in pink princess. (she’s still my princess, but that’s another blog for another day)

My boy-child is a completely different story. Like his sister, he chose his own unique style, and gravitated towards blues. (today it is blacks and greys) When BJ re-decorated his room—without talking to him about it first (it was supposed to be a surprise from him, moving from his “little boy” bed to his “big boy” bed)—he was very blunt. She asked, “what do you think?” His response? “I don’t like it.” And yes, we’ve got it all on video.

Moral of the story? All the so-called child-rearing experts (the social ones, not the medical doctors—them, we love!) are full of so much hot air. Dress your kids the way you want to when they’re babies. Put them in dresses, or spots outfits—they’ll make their own choices when they’re old enough to figure it all out. God’s already got a plan for them, so when they DO make those choices…roll with it. It’s all good.

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