Posted by toadstar on 12:00 PM

In Which the Author Waxes Philosophically on Comic Books:

When I was a kid, I remember finding an old copy of Tintin. It was an old Dutch version set in the American old west. I was never able to read Dutch, but I remember looking at the pictures and trying to sus out what was happening. I always kept on coming back to that book and since I only had the pictures to guide me, the story was different each time. That's one of the wonderful things about comic books, the way that they work on different levels.
Take for example Can't Get No, by Rick Veitch. The book is one long-form poem, but the images tell another story. One story being totally visual, leaving what was being said entirely up to the reader. Each time you come back to it the story is different, the poem adds more depth and feeling to the story, but could easily be read with out it (although I wouldn't recommend it).
That's one of the things that is so amazing to me about comics, the fact that as a story telling device it has so much potential to tell the whole of the human experience. We are not just visceral creatures, we are visual and intellect and sensual and comic books can explore all of this that makes us so unique.

Posted by toadstar on 10:46 PM
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Winter Comes to Houston:

After several days of, will it or won't it snow we finally got our answer, no. It did, however, rain then the rain froze leaving behind a world that looks like Batman's Mr. Freeze had run amok throughout the city.

It's amazing how much a little ice can change the way that you look at thinks. Little things like the leaves on the bush that I walk past at least twice a day, add a little ice and it looks like a sculpture or something. A simple everyday thing that you take for granted suddenly becomes beautiful.

I'll just shut up now and let the images speak for themselves.

Posted by toadstar on 10:42 PM
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A Little Taste of Winter:

We've actually gotten a bit of a cold spell. Two days ago it was in the seventies and now it's just hovering above freezing. They have been predicting sleet and ice for days now, but so far all we have is cold. I spent the ladder part of my lunch walking around near where I work. I love the way the cold makes your face tingle, it just makes you feel alive.

I remember before I moved down here my friend had stopped by to say goodbye to me. I didn't know when or if I would ever see her again. She came by early in the morning, there was still snow on the ground and the cold was as bitter as our goodbye. She has surprised me with this visit, so I had just walked out in whatever I was wearing. I don't even think that I had socks on.
Today whilst walking through the freezing cold I am reminded of that day, that bittersweet moment when we held each other and said goodbye. It was hard at the time to leave, but looking back on it now it pushed me on the path to where I am now and if I hadn't gone through that I wouldn't have my beautiful wife and son now. I miss Colorado, and the occasional blasts of cold air that we get down remind me of the path that I followed to get to this point, and I wouldn't waiver, not even for an instant if I had to do it over again.

Posted by toadstar on 12:28 PM
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On Trees:

I was off this past Monday for Martin Luther Kings Birthday, so I got to spend the day with my wife and son. We went to a resale shop to get Lucas some more cloth diapers. His recent stint with antibiotics coupled with his new found love of oranges has turned the lad into a bit of a fountain, so we are hoping that he will consent to wear them until his incontinence passes.

On the drive there, Lucas fell asleep in his car seat. I didn't have the heart to wake him, so I let my wife go in while I waited with Lucas in the nice warm car. While in the car I listened to the radio and stared out the window, mostly at these trees. I love looking at the intricate patterns that the branches make against the grey sky. Something about that speaks to me. I also love the phone lines behind them-it gives it this whole man v. nature thing and there is just something about the contrast between the straight geometric patterns of the man made against the free form patterns of nature.

Posted by toadstar on 11:50 AM

Birds and Silliness:

When I was in elementary school one of my teachers would reward us, for attendance, or good grades or whatever with a book. She had a big pile of them and we could pick whichever one we wanted. When it was my turn I excitedly went up to the front of the room and looked at the books. Right away I knew which one I was going to pick, it was a field guide for birds in North America. What little knowledge I have of birds today I gleaned from that book. I'm always looking out the window at the birds in my back yard, this Sunday I glanced outside and saw this cardinal hopping around the back yard. I immediately ran and got my camera and attempted to capture the little guy. Unfortunately I was too far away and had to use the digital zoom, which made the image fuzzy, but for some reason I still like the picture.

A portrait of young Harry shortly after moving to the Dursley's house. He had just gotten his first and only pair of glasses, which, when he was older were held together with tape until he met Hermione Granger and she fixed them for him. My apologizes to Mrs. Rowling for this.

Posted by toadstar on 11:39 AM
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I remember the first time that we gave Lucas solid foods. My wife would get a little spoonful of food and try and feed it to him and every time that the spoon would touch his lips he would grab the spoon and try and feed himself. It was if he said, yea I know how to do this, I've been watching you do it for the past six months. So here he is a year and a month later and he totally has eating with a spoon down, gravity, however, is not his strong point, but to paraphrase the immortal Bugs Bunny he's never studied law.

Posted by toadstar on 7:56 PM

A Rare Friday Night Out:

For Christmas my manager got us all gift certificates to Chili's so we were gifted with a rare night out. I was trying to get a picture of Lucas with his "cell" phone in his back pocket, whist he looked out to the world as if to say, Look at me I'm the coolest kid ever. I clearly missed, but I like this shot none the less.

This is another picture that didn't turn out as expected, but I still like it, it has this creepy kind of feel to it.

Posted by toadstar on 6:46 PM
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Books A Million:

Although I never really started reading books until my senior year of high school, I have always loved books. As a kid I can remember always looking at books and just being impressed with them, even though I hardly ever read any of them. There is just something about a book. I don't know if it's the look of it, or the artwork, the way the ink looks on the page. Now I'm never without a book, I guess that I'm making up for all that lost time, I love books even more. Each book is a part of me, the characters live on in me. They are also bookmarks of my life, I can remember where I was, what was going on in my life just by looking at a book. I remember when I moved down here from Colorado. I was in my little red VW Rabbit, going through the vast empty nothingness that is certain parts of Texas, it was foggy out, the sun had just risen, and this old oil rig loomed on the horizon like a dinosaur. That morning, as my dad and I drove onward to my new home, I was busy reading "The Dharma Bums" by Jack Kerouac. Now that memory of a road trip with my dad is intertwined with Kerouac's prose in the library of my memory, and that is one of the million different reasons why I love books so much. And as I watch my own library grow from one bookshelf to many, I am glad to know that the road that is my life is so rich.

Posted by toadstar on 11:56 PM

Lunchtime Reading in the Sun:

I just finished reading "Cell" by Stephen King. I enjoyed it for the most part. There were a few images that I could have spent the rest of my with out ever coming up with, and now will spend the rest of my life trying to forget. It did, however, keep me turning those pages. I must say that I was a little disappointed by the ending, it left too much unsaid. It did raise some interesting questions about what makes us human, and what would we have to trade to unlock the untapped 90% of our brains that go unused, and what lies in that 90%.

I took these pictures whilst on my lunch break. I love to go outside and read in the sunshine, and this past week there has been plenty of it. It wakes me up. It recharges my batteries. It helps get me through the rest of my day. More often than not it's the highlight of my work day.

Posted by toadstar on 2:14 PM

Conspiracy Theories Abound:

One of my favorite guilty pleasures is Rigorious Intuition. The site is full of conspiracy theories and deep politics. It helps me to look at the world in a new light-to connect the dots as it were. Through this site I have discovered Chemtrails. Chemtrails are like contrails, except that the trails left behind by the plains do not disapate after a few minutes, they spread out. No one really knows why this occurs, but of course many theories are floating around the internet, you can find some here, andhere, all over the net really, just google chemtrails.

I don't know if these are chemtrails or not, but it makes for some interesting pictures none the less.

Posted by toadstar on 1:54 PM

Special Guest Post:

This is my sons first photograph. Since he's been sick we have been watching a boatload of Muppet Show DVD's, much to Lucas and my delight and much to my wife's chagrin. The other day I remembered that I had bought him this Baby Fozzie Bear toy, so I went and found it. I hid behind the love seat and called his name, when he turned to look I made Fozzie appear just above the chair and started to tell a Fozzie joke. "Did you hear that George the janitor is so cheap that his wallet has an unlisted pocket?" His face was all alight and he ran for Fozzie and grabbed him and hugged him. It was very cute, and it was go cool to see him so excited about The Muppets. Shortly thereafter Momma helped him to take this picture-not bad for his first time-I'm so proud.

Posted by toadstar on 1:04 PM
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Roads Go Ever On:

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

Roads go ever ever on,
Under cloud and under star.
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen,
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green,
And trees and hills they long have known.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone.
Let others follow, if they can!
Let them a journey new begin.
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

Still 'round the corner there may wait
A new road or secret gate;
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.

JRR Tolkien

The sunset from my front door, where many roads have begun, marriage, fatherhood, love and joy. They all come back to my front door and reside happily inside.

Posted by toadstar on 1:01 PM

ER Trauma:

Why is that the more that medicine progresses, the more the medical community seems to be stuck in the past-like 1950. Either that or once they stop going to school, they stop learning. For instance the way that they handle circumcision. Aside from the fact that they still do it, they don't know how to care for a child that is uncircumcised. The American Academy of Pediatrics states:

"The foreskin usually does not fully retract for several years and should never be forced. The uncircumcised penis is easy to keep clean by gently washing the genital area while bathing. You do not need to do any special cleansing, such as with cotton swabs or antiseptics."

This goes against the common misconception that you need to retract the penis everyday and wash it to keep it from getting infected. The truth is that the foreskin acts like a sphincter, and is never meant to be forced back.
Last Friday we took Lucas to the E.R.. He had been sick since New Year's Eve and on Friday morning, we noticed a lump on his neck. We were afraid that he might have the mumps, all the symptoms fit. We also noticed that his urine was dark and cloudy. My wife mentioned this to the loverly staff at the E.R. and they said that they needed a urine sample, and since he hadn't gone in about 24 hours, they were going to use a catheter. Before my wife realized what was going on the nurse forced his foreskin back and started to insert the tube. To say that Lucas was not best pleased is an understatement, but to say that he was only fussing because he was being held down is something else entirely. My wife then informed this lady that you are not to force the foreskin back like that, and to that the nurse said that we, of course should be retracting it every night and cleaning it. My wife, how I love her, informed the nurse that she is wrong and that the American Academy of Pediatrics even says so. But of course you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, so I don't think that it did any good. And my son had to go through that hell for nothing.
One of my first memories is having a catheter forced into me-it saddens me to think that it may be my sons all because some nurse stopped learning.

Posted by toadstar on 10:00 AM

Lazy Sunday:

Lucas is still sick so we just spent a lazy Sunday hanging out and watching TV. Here's a picture of my boy sipping his juice in the burbs.

We did go for a walk later in the evening though. I've had this camera for over a year now and still haven't really figured out all the different modes and settings. Sometimes I really miss my old SLR camera. Not that I was any better at taking pictures with it, I just liked having more control. But then again with a digital camera I find my self taking pictures of things that I usually wouldn't because I didn't want to waste film. One of these days I will find me a good job and be able to save up for a nice digital SLR. Until then you get happy little accidents like this one. I was messing with the night setting, which is basically just a long exposure, but I think that it turned out pretty cool.

Posted by toadstar on 10:28 PM
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Big Boy:

My son has developed quite a taste for jelly the past couple of days. I think that it's because the jelly has been moved to the bottom shelf of the fridge and he can grab it. He loves to help. He' grab the jelly and walk it over to the counter and lift it up and wait until I take it from him. Whenever I cook he wants to help pour stuff and stir. He's becoming such a big boy, it's amazing to me.

Last night we went to Barnes and Noble to exchange a book I got for Christmas. Usually when were there he loves to play with the trains (they have a Thomas the Train, train set in the children's section), but tonight, for some reason, the store was packed, and so was the train table. After a minute of fighting to get some space at the train table, he gave up and went wandering. He would follow me or hang out with mom, or look at the employees crazy when they cooed over him. A while later, he was ready to go, so he grabbed mom, and went for the door. Mom said, wait daddy needs to pay for his book (The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke), so he walked up to me and took my book, walked up to the counter and tried to place it on the counter, then went behind the counter either to a) say "hey would one of you help my dad out, I'd really like to go home now, or b) ring me up his self. He has a way of letting you know just what it is he wants.

Posted by toadstar on 9:59 PM
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We had thought that Lucas was getting better. We thought that the last couple of days he was doing a good job a healing, he was still off, he was still sluggish and wanted his mommy to hold him a lot more than usual, but on the whole, we thought he was getting better. Friday morning he woke up and had a big lump on his neck, a fever, and his pee was dark and cloudy. We thought about it for a bit, the Heidi went ahead and took him to the hospital. Around three, she called me at work and told me to get there now, so off I went. He's okay, they think that it's some sort of infection of his lymph nodes, so of course they started him on antibiotics right away. It's amazing how fast they went from OMG that looks real bad to dismissing it as "just a virus". Along the way my son was poked and prodded and dare I say tortured by some nurse that never bothered to follow any advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics. More on that in my other blog. This picture was taken after we got home, and momma and baby settled down for some much deserved rest.

Posted by toadstar on 1:53 PM

A child said, What is the grass?

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full

How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it
is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,

A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,

Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe
of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,

And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow

Growing among black folks as among white,

Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the
same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,

It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,

It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;

It may be you are from old people and from women, and
from offspring taken soon out of their mother's laps,

And here you are the mother's laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old

Darker than the colorless beards of old men,

Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!

And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths
for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men
and women,

And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring
taken soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?

What do you think has become of the women and

They are alive and well somewhere;

The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,

And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
at the end to arrest it,

And ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses,

And to die is different from what any one supposed, and
-Walt Whitman.

Posted by toadstar on 2:35 PM

Back To Work (Light Duty):

I had been off of work for the past two weeks for the holidays, so I got to spend a lot of time with my wife and son. Yesterday was my first day back, and I knew that it was going to be hard on all of us. During the break whenever I would get up before Lucas, or if I was out of the room, he would go looking for me. "Yaaaaya!" I would here him cry as he was looking for me. He wouldn't be happy until he found his Yaaaya. I was good for me, I felt like we had bonded, he wants his daddy, which is really cool.

I was feeling so sick last night-I think that I had what Lucas had on New Years. I came home and just collapsed on the floor. Later on Lucas was laying on the floor coloring. It was so cute I had to take a picture of it, so I slowly got up, fought a bought of dizziness and got my camera, and returned to the living room only to find out that Lucas had stopped coloring. I was feeling real bad so I rolled over on the sofa and fell asleep. A little while later I felt a tap, tap, tap on my back. I rolled over and saw my son holding my camera, he was using it to tap my back. I asked him if he wanted me to take his picture and he handed me the camera and I took this picture. Then I showed it to him, and he was so excited.

Posted by toadstar on 1:51 PM
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For a father pregnancy is an exercise in faith. I have to have faith that this child will grow and be healthy and strong. There is nothing that I can do to protect it, to make sure that it will be healthy and strong, I have to have faith that my child can find it's way onto this earth, that it's body is forming correctly, that it's okay. I wish that there was a way to see my child, to be able to know that it's okay, but I have to wait, and maybe in a few months I will be able to feel it wiggle under my touch or see it under and ultrasound. I remember seeing Lucas' ultrasound pictures for the first time, how amazing it was to see his little body, and his perfect little toes. It felt so good to know that he was okay, that he was a he. I didn't have to worry so much, knowing that he had ten fingers and ten toes.
I know that there are things that can be done to help ensure a healthy baby, eating right, not smoking, etc., but for the first couple of months especially I just feel so helpless, it doesn't feel real. I mean other that my wife being cranky and a couple of lines showing up on a stick when peed on, I have nothing tangible, if that makes sense. I mean I know that she is pregnant, but for the time being it's this abstract idea, there is nothing for me to hold on to, except for faith.

Posted by toadstar on 12:12 PM

Week 5:

According to Junior is:

The heart will begin to beat this week! It's amazing how much is happening so quickly. A transvaginal ultrasound will show about 90% of the yolk sacs. It is now possible to differentiate between the head and the tail of the baby now. By the end of the week that folic acid will be paying off as the neural folds begin to fuse. Your baby is now an embryo! Average length is 1.5 - 2.5 mm

It's amazing how fast the little guy is progressing. I'm just getting use to the idea of a second child, and Junior is already an embryo!

It's been a roller coaster kind of a week for us going from, this can't be real, take another test, best two out of three, best four out of five.... Followed by why, why, why did I do this? (The this in question is getting my wife pregnant, it is not to be taken any other way-just covering my butt, pregnancy, hormones and stuff.)Then one to maybe it was a defective test, or four defective tests. From there it was off to we're screwed, I'm not going to be able to afford this, and finally this is going to happen, we can do this.

All this happened with in the first couple of minutes. And for the past week and a half I have hopscotched from one emotion to the next and back again.

Posted by toadstar on 10:10 PM

On The Mend:

Lucas is feeling much better today, which means that I'm feeling much better today. We went to the mall this evening to exchange some Christmas gifts, and he was just running and running all over the mall. It did my heart good to see him acting normal again. I don't think that he even sat up on his own yesterday.

The full moon over the dormer windows at the top of my house. Orion is just to the right of the moon. I never really realized how much owning a house means to me until recently. It's so much more than just a repository for all my stuff, it is memories, and hopes and dreams, and it's a big part of who I am. I was lucky when I was growing up to live in the same house for thirteen years. I can still picture that house, just as it was when we moved out. I remember all the winters we spent there and Christmases past. I can remember our fist Christmas there, we had a small tree on top of a big box, my mother wrapped it in Christmas paper, to make it look less boxy. That year we had it in what would be my Fathers study. I hope to give similar memories to my children, of a warm safe home, a place that was always there, always theirs. A place that deep in their hearts they can call home, and even though the years my pass and they will move on, a part of this house will always be a part of them.

Posted by toadstar on 10:52 PM
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Happy New Year:

Lucas has been sick last night and all of today. So we spent the first day of the year taking care of him and watching movies. We started off with The Muppet Show Season One, then we watched Superman Returns and followed that up with The Sound of Music. Not to bad a way to start off the new year, minus of course the sick baby. There is something that makes you feel both helpless and humbled, taking care of a sick child. Helpless in the fact that I can't make him better, but humbled at watching his body and his spirit fight this nasty bug that he's caught. I took these two pictures of him while he was napping, he looked so peaceful and serene, just like a little angel.

Posted by toadstar on 4:15 PM
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Late Christmas Present:

The day after Christmas we found out that we were having our second child. I came as a bit of a surprise for us, we had intended to wait until our oldest son was at least three before we even tried, but as it turns out he will only be two when our second child is born. It has taken a couple of days to get use to the idea, but I think that we're getting excited about it.
So Bean Junior or just Junior as we are referring to he/she is due on September 2nd. That's just a day earlier than Lucas' due date was (I'm beginning to detect a pattern here).
So it looks like this year I got a Christmas present that I didn't even know that I had wanted, but it will be something that I will treasure forever.

Jackson Pollock by Miltos Manetas