Category Archives: Sophie Stories

All about my Little Lady.

Karmastrophic 11-April-2012


Karmastrophic  11-April-2012


Five years ago I had my last seizure.  As much as I’d love to, and may yet, write a book about what led to my having seizures, and why I don’t have them anymore, that’s not my point today.  Today is kind of like Memorial Day for me.  I both celebrate that anniversary, and remind myself of the losses of that time of my life.  It’s important not to forget, lest history might repeat itself.  It’s also in the past, and best left there.


A long time ago, a friend posted one of those motivational posters that said, “Karma:  You get back what you give out.”  Or something like that.  I like that, but it’s not really that simple.  It’s not magical, or some mystical force that gets payback for you when people wrong you, or rewards you when you do good things for others.  It’s the way of things.  If you make sound choices about the people around you, and base your relationships on trust and respect, you’ll have a life filled with the rewards of those philosophies.  You’re still in for some bumps here and there.  But it stands to reason that if you make sound choices about life and people, your life will be a product of those choices.  Conversely, if you choose to fill your life with people who lie, cheat and steal, and congratulate and help you when you do, well, your life will be filled with all the things that come bundled with those choices.  But it’s all a matter of choice.  Not some chick named ‘Karma’ out for vengeance.  As much as I’d love to think she exists, because she’d be into me for a whole lotta ‘Large’.  But that’s now how it works.


With all that said, I’m still going to talk about Karma like she’s an old friend.  Because she is.  She’s very busy keeping balance in all of the universe.  Droughts that need rain, and floods that need dried.  Famine to feast and feasts to famine.  Mountains to erode with the sands of time, and oceans to fill with dust.  She still keeps up with the small things though…  if you get too little sleep tonight, she’ll catch up with you and make you tired earlier in the evening tomorrow so you go to bed early.  If you get drunk and beat your kids, she’ll taint their hearts with just enough strength each time you do so to prepare them for the day they can get away from you, yet not enough to make them hate you.  As much as I disagree with her on that issue.  If  you take a man’s wallet and leave him for dead, she may breathe life back into him after you walk away so he can warn others about you.  Yet it’s all your choice.  Karma is just a mirror for your conscious decisions.


Sometimes Karma gets behind with her work, and has to make drastic changes asap.  A fault line that requires an earthquake, or a volcano that requires an eruption.  Tyrannical rulers that need overthrown and cancers that need cured.  A 30-something man who won’t give up the fight to save his poorly chosen marriage, in spite of that fight literally killing him.  Tyrannical rulers don’t even know what’s good for themselves, let alone those they’re trying to rule.  Sometimes ordinary people don’t know what’s good for them either.  I was so hell bent on saving the family that I couldn’t see how bad the marriage was for my children.  Karma straightened me out.  My children and I are a family now that we could never have dreamed of being had I managed to save the marriage.  And Karma has played her aces on those who fought to destroy that marriage.  Tenfold.  I didn’t ask her to do that.  Remember, she’s just a mirror.


My kids think of me when they see a beautiful sunset.  They know my favorite sunset spots, and because I’ve shown them so many sunsets, they look at the sky when the sun meets the horizon, wherever they are.  Sophie said to me when she called to say G’Night from her other home recently, “I knew you’d take pictures of that beautiful sunset, Daddy!”  And I had.  And she was happy that she knew I had.  And I was happy that she thought of me when she saw such beauty.  Ezra recently called me “Dad come quick!” from his room and I found him next to his window with it open.  “I knew you’d want to see this sunset!”  We don’t have a clear view of the sunset from our home, but on that night the bright colors were shining sharply through the fresh green buds on the trees across the street.  He knew the urgency because he’s watched enough sunsets with me to know that the best part of the show lasts only a few seconds.  This is just one example, but my favorite.  I would have never been able to cultivate this amazing relationship with my children if I were still pouring all my strength into a doomed marriage.  As much as I still believe that trying to save a marriage is the right thing to do…  at the same time, there’s a point at which even a proud man should surrender.  Just shy of it killing you is that point, just in case you aren’t there yet.  Not everyone gets to come back.  I’m just a very good negotiator.  And a bit of a badass.


So on April 11th, I will now and always both celebrate the ‘Hawaiian Islands’ that our lives have become in the aftermath of what I could easily liken to a volcanic eruption, and I also do dwell just long enough to not let myself forget what I went through because I wasn’t listening to Karma.  She tried and tried to tell me kindly for years, and she finally got sick of that and just plain damn beat me to death.  So be it.  She’s just a mirror.  They were my choices.

And ever since April 11th, 2007, the primary reason I’ve written just about everything I’ve written is so that my kids will have these stories to look back on, and pass on, long after I’m gone.  So, all the bullshit and admittedly unbelievable truths about all that aside, there are two reasons I’m still here.  And I will not ever forget them.

1)      My 6 year old son screaming, “Get UP Dad, Get UP!!!” and trying to lift me up off the floor with all the might his 40-or-so pounds could muster.

2)      My 3 year old daughter standing behind him in the doorway, the windows to her soul welled up with tears, too scared to come closer but too strong to run away.

That day, we all aged in ways that time can’t measure.  That 6 year old boy is a fine young man now, and that 3 year old little girl’s soul has proven to be more timeless than Karma herself.  No man’s arms have ever been stronger than yours were that day, Buddy, no man’s voice ever louder.  Baby Girl, no eyes have ever given a man more strength than your eyes gave me that day.  These are the things I think of when life is kicking my ass, and they are what keep me getting back UP.  Not just on that day, but every single day since, and every day to come.  Always.  I won’t forget.  The two of you make me want to better myself, and to live long enough to see my Grandbabies overflow with strength and kindness just like your eyes and hearts do.  And most importantly, you’re what made me value each and every day I’m here, in the here and now.  I Love You two more than all the words I’ve ever written could ever convey.

Cheers from The ThreeFiveZero Karmastrophic Islands

Strong as You Think You Are 20-March-2012

Strong as You Think You Are
Strong as You Think You Are

Strong as You Think You Are  20-march-2012

Here’s a discussion I think we’ve all had with our 8 year old daughters…

Sophie-  “I’m never as strong as I picture myself being, in my head.  I always think I’ll be able to just stand right up and do the right thing no matter how hard it is, but then sometimes when it happens, it’s too hard and I can’t.”

Or something to that effect.  I probably don’t have her words exactly right, but the meaning I got loud and clear.

The key word in that sentence is ‘sometimes’.  And that’s what I told her.  “If you’re only not strong enough ‘sometimes’, Baby, then you’re way ahead of most of us.”

And then I listed half a dozen things she’s done recently that took more strength than any 8 year old girl should ever have.  And I tried to explain to her (again) how that big heart of hers will always give her amazing strength even though sometimes it will also, and at the same time, feel like a weakness.

It seemed to make her feel better, although I know it didn’t totally make sense to her.  Again the key word being ‘totally’…  I’m for the most part an adult and it doesn’t ‘totally’ make sense to me.  But she knew I was telling her the truth from my heart, and that I cared about what she was saying, and that I wanted to help.  That’s the part that made her feel better more so than the philosophy.  I think.

And since she is 8 after all, I didn’t stop there.  I tried to explain that her biggest strength is in that she has the ability to picture herself stronger each time.  She’s headed the right direction.  It’s when you picture yourself weaker each time that your defeat becomes inevitable.  I wasn’t telling her it’s how she should be, I was congratulating her on being what she is.  And what she is is amazing.  And even though not much of that made sense to her either, she believes that I believe she’s amazing.  And she believes me about that because I always tell her the truth.

Then I also pointed out that even though he hadn’t said much, her big brother had been sitting right there listening intently the whole time because he cares too.  And again she knew that was true.  I promised her that between the three of us, one of us will always pick up the slack if the other two are in that ‘sometimes’ zone of not quite strong enough on any given day.

So I sound really old and wise now, right?  I’m not.  I wrote this story because I didn’t know I knew any of that until I blurted it all out to my kids earlier this evening.  And I blurted it out because sometimes words are my only way to help her fight her fight.  I’m finding that when words come out as both a weapon and a shield simultaneously, I learn as much from them as my kids do.  That’s when there’s the most passion behind them, and therefore they are the most self-guided.  Somehow.

You don’t always have to be as strong as you think you should be, as long as you have the ability to picture yourself stronger next time.  You’re only as strong as you think you are, so think big.

Today’s lesson is brought to you, once again, by my kids…  They taught me to teach them that, and I didn’t know I knew it until they taught me to.

Cheers from The ThreeFiveZero Strengths

Things of Beauty 09-March-2012

Things of Beauty
Things of Beauty

Things of Beauty  09-March-2012

A couple of evenings ago, we had the back door propped open to enjoy the warm spring evening.  Standing on the back deck, I heard Sophie, giggling, say, “Come look, Daddy.”  Being in gruff ‘get your homework done’ mode, I almost missed what she wanted to show me.

At first I just peered out the door, but once I saw the two birds she was watching, I stepped out there with her to enjoy the show.  “Look, Daddy, that boy Cardinal is chasing that girl Cardinal around the trees.  Every time she lands, he lands next to her.  When he lands, she flies away.”  And that was indeed the case.  Like it was choreographed by a pro.  He remained still until she had a new perch.  The millisecond he shared her perch, she found a new one in a nearby tree.  And so it went, her playing hard to get while he did not abandon the chase!

It was beautiful, and it went on and on for several minutes.  I’m assuming this is a normal pursuit for Cardinals, but I really don’t know.  The amazing part to me, however?  They went round and round like this for quite some time, Sophie smiling and giggling quietly, in a circle that appeared to be very tightly tied to Sophie’s field of view.  I kept thinking they’d be on their way down the street, or across to the woods where we see many beautiful birds.  Yet no, they went round and round our house as if they were putting this show on just for Sophie.  Eventually they did indeed take a new path out of sight, and while I don’t know how that love story ended…  I know that not a soul on Earth enjoyed it quite like Sophie did.  The way she enjoys the things of beauty around her makes her even more beautiful herself…

I often wonder what happens to us that ‘concretes us’ as adults, that makes these kinds of small miracles stop centering around us.  In one million percent seriousness, I do believe that all the world is a playground for children.  Because it presents itself to them in that manner as much as they see it that way.  Then us ‘concrete’ adults wonder why the jackhammer is so loud and violent?  Perhaps because that’s what it takes for the cosmos to get through to us?

Cheers from The ThreeFiveZero Mix

Post-It Notes 02-March-2012

Post-It Notes
Post-It Notes

Post-It Notes  02-March-2012

There are always at least a dozen Post-It notes on my desk, often more.  Sometimes the kids sneak one in there for me to find later, like, “Don’t forget to wear pants when you leave the house, Dad.” Or “Sackboy Ezra Loves you Dad!” It’s sort of their way of communicating with the whirlwind inside my head that I’m trying to organize when I sit down at the computer, I think?

Most of my own notes are just reminders though, or story ideas.  One that’s been there for more than a month says simply, “Sophie’s Butt”.  I wrote it one morning after dropping the kids off at their other home, when I came to my 8 year old daughter’s defense while she was being berated for having a ‘huge butt’, only to have Sophie stop me mid-defense by saying, “No, she’s right, Dad.  My butt is a size 10 and I’m only 8 years old.  It’s too big.”  I don’t have any kind words for that situation, so I’ll stop there.  Point being, I came home and wrote a Post-It about her butt, because I didn’t know how to fix that situation.  And I still don’t.  I don’t even know how to do damage control on it.  And there is obviously damage to be mitigated.  She truly believes her butt is too big.  Not that it would matter if it was too big, but atop the issue of self-image, the reality is that she is a perfectly shaped and sized 8 year old girl.  It never fails to amaze me how readily and easily reality can be bent by evil, and how difficult it is to reshape reality once it has a big crease in it.

This story is supposed to be comedy!  Last night as I was pilfering for a different note, I found that Sophie had added a Q&A session to my initial, simple, “Sophie’s Butt” note…  as well as a cute little drawing of a butt!  (That drawing made me laugh really hard.  Thanks, Baby, I needed that!)  I had come back to that note several times over the past month without being able to find the right ‘words’ or ‘talk’ to have with her about it.  As is often the case, she found a way to help me talk about it.  All I had to do was listen.  She hasn’t seen my response yet, but I put the note on the kitchen table where she’ll see it today after school.

I’m a ‘balance’ person.  (Sophie tells me that’s Ying/Yang, but I wouldn’t have learned about that if not for my kids.)  I believe that there is a silver lining in every situation, although I readily admit that it is often very difficult to find.  Here’s today’s silver lining though…  my kids can, and often do, talk to me about anything.  They know they can.  Often, our deepest talks arise from situations much like this one.  Situations I wish they weren’t in, yet at the same time, the very situations that drive many of the deep talks that have made us very close as a family.  In this case, this very short little exchange on a Post-It note that Sophie found on my desk will probably be far more effective than any long talk I could have prepared for her on the issue.

If there is an equal and opposite reaction for every action in the universe, as both the Ying/Yang and your high school science teacher would have you believe there is, then I’m glad I’m on the ‘up side’ of that balancing act.  Sometimes evil loses the war in the process of winning the battle simply because it doesn’t realize it’s part of a greater circle.  So be it.  I can’t change it.  Maybe that’s what I’m supposed to learn from it?  If I can’t change it, I should put my energy into the benefits that come from it?  Those benefits will be the foundation for beautiful things long after the effects of the lost battle are long forgotten?  Let’s hope.  Let’s… hope…

Cheers from The ThreeFiveZero Butts

Breakfast in the Tea Room 18-February-2012


Breakfast in the Tea Room  18-February-2012

On our recent Grand Adventure, we had occasion to have breakfast in the Tea Room off the lobby of the grand old hotel we were staying at…  this became one of those times that all I could do was sit and watch and wonder what it’s like to see the world through Sophie’s eyes.

I saw-  “I’m really hungry.  I hope they have a good menu, and that it’s not too busy.”

Sophie saw-  “I’ll take the rest of my roses and give them away to people coming in for breakfast.”

After we sat down and read the menu, it became clear to me that I would not go away hungry…

I saw-  “Ooooh!  They have bacon!!!”

Sophie saw-  “Oh the table cloths are all fancy white linen, and the chairs are old and fancy too!  The flowers on the table even match my roses!  Oh and they have food too, cool.”

We were only the second table to eat by now, but quickly more folks started filtering in…

I saw-  “Uhoh, more people are coming in.  I hope they bring my bacon before these other people order.”

Sophie saw-  “Yay, people to give flowers to!  I think I’ll talk to everyone.”

The rush evened out though, right after we ordered, so we had a few minutes of quiet while we waited…

I saw-  “I hope my bacon gets here soon.”

Sophie saw-  “I have one more rose left.  I guess I can dance around the empty tables with it while I wait for one more person to come in so I can give this last rose away.”

Good breakfast!  Tummy full now.  Roses all gone.  Table cleared…

I saw-  “That was good bacon!  Let’s go take a nap.”

Sophie saw-  “Let’s sit at this fancy table a little while even though we’re done eating, so we can look out the windows at the sunny day.”

This must be what it’s like for my dog to watch me cook dinner, or drive a car.  Ol Willie is a good dog, but riding in the van must seem like magic to him, just like when I cook dinner and he doesn’t understand where all the amazing smells and sounds came from.  All he knows is that something magical happened, and he felt lucky to be along to enjoy it.  That’s what it’s like to watch Sophie watch the world.  I can no more see the things Sophie sees than Willie can drive himself to the park…  I was sitting in the same room that Sophie was sitting in, just like Willie is sitting right in the same van I’m sitting in while I drive it.  But just like Willie is only a passenger in the van, I’m just the passenger when I’m with Sophie…

Willie and I are both pretty lucky Old Dogs…  Thank heaven for little girls…

Cheers from The ThreeFiveZero Lucky Dog


My 4 Year Anniversary 09-November-2011

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Slide Show


My 4 Year Anniversary  09-November-2011

Today marks 4 years since I got my first ‘Yes’ on the best date I’ve ever had!

I spent some time going through pictures to find just a few of my favorite pictures from those nights…  and, of course, I’m no longer allowed to call them ‘Date Nights’, but a Daddy Daughter Night by any other name still feels every bit as sweet!

It’s happening fast… she was a toddler on 09-November-2007, and now today on 09-November-2011, she’s just about almost a young lady…  the story below is from that first date!

Here’s to 40-50-60 more years, Baby…  You name the time and place Baby and I’ll wear any shirt you want.

Sophie’s First Date  09-November-2007

It all started out innocent enough. I had dinner with friends Tuesday night and the kids helped me find a suitable shirt. I haven’t worn anything but T-shirts for so long I had to revisit my button-downs to remember what I had. It came down to either an all-black long sleeve button-down or an all-white. I won’t go into the parallels between the color of my shirt and the color of my soul, but I do think it may have entered the picture at some point. Anyway, Sophie wanted me to wear the white one and Ezra was voting for the black one. I told Sis that the white shirt was very nice, but it might be a little formal for Mexican food. Besides, I’m doomed to spill salsa on anything that will show it. So black it was… however, on the way to drop the kids off at Angie’s, Sis said, “Daddy, if you would wear that fancy white shirt I would go on a date with you.” I said, “You name the time and place Baby and I’ll wear any shirt you want.”

Now I have to break from the story for a minute to elaborate on the circumstances surrounding this story. Ezra turned 7 and Sophie turned 4 in September. Ezra and I do lots of ‘guy stuff’ together, and do get some one-on-one time with Sophie, but it’s usually my idea and I usually have to talk her into it. I don’t take it personally- she’s still a Mommy’s Girl and that’s OK. But when she hinted that she might actually *want* to have some special time with me I got a little excited. She’s at that age where her personality is developing so uniquely and she’s changing from a toddler into a little girl. And she’s oh so sweet. And too damn pretty for her own good!

So Friday came and Angie ended up having the day to spend with the kids, although I was appointed to occupy my little lady while Angie had some business to attend to in the afternoon. A brief trip to Wal-Mart netted us the cedar chips that had been absent from the puppy pen, as well as some pink carnations that caught Sophie’s eye since they matched her fuzzy pink shirt. She said, “Daddy, can I have these for our date?” Of course she can. She said, “Can we go on our date soon?” I said, “Well, Baby, let’s ask Mommy if we can do that this weekend. I’m not sure when she and Ezra are going shopping.” Shortly after picking Ezra up from school, he asked his Mom if they could go shopping, and I said, “Well, Sis, do you still want to go to dinner with me?” She said, “OK Daddy, let’s go.” And headed straight for the door. I was so excited!

We first had to come by my house and get the aforementioned ever-important ‘fancy white shirt’, which pleased my little lady greatly. A little overdressed for Chinese, but hey, it made her smile. Our first stop was her ‘new favorite’ Chinese restaurant near my house. This is also significant because for years her fine pallet has only allowed Chinese from ‘China Buffet’ near where we used to live in Lewisville. The people there know Angie and the kids very well and always enjoy the visit. I’ve tried several other restaurants nearby but never found one to please Sis. This past Saturday we hit ‘Malay’ nearby and not only was the food acceptable, but they have a small fish pond inside where the kids were allowed to feed the fish! Success. She still prefers ‘China Buffet’ because she has so many friends there, but on our date she wanted to feed the fishies. So we went. She had plain lomaine like always, and I ventured into dangerous (cat for those of you who believe the rumors!) territory with General Tso’s Chicken. Mmmm. Spicy! Sis whittled her way through nearly half of her giant order of noodles and sampled all the sauces available. This seemed to make our (first) waiter a little grumpy, so I dismissed him and the second waiter was much more personable. Sophie’s favorite fish was the (very hungry) black one with white spots (or white one with black spots depending on how you look at it) who was by far the most brave.

OK. Flowers for the lady. Nice dress shirt. Get the door for her. Dinner at her choice of restaurants. Now what? The mall of course! Ice cream. The carousel. Escalators. Glass elevators. Christmas trees. Hell *I* was excited and I’m (supposedly) a lot older than 4!!!

So off we went. The lady’s music of choice was ‘Kidz Bop 12′ which she knows most of the words to, and she was kind enough to sing to me most of the drive to the mall. Our first order of business was some window shopping (with her riding on my shoulders) at dresses and Christmas trees and fancy sheets and even a few whispering waterfall-type nicknack things at one of those kiosks in center of the mall. Our initial search was intended to find the carousel, but the waterfall thingies caught her attention. One was of the ‘floating ball’ type that has enough pressure beneath a marble ball to let it ‘glide’ over the water. Sophie’s curiosity got the best of her and she picked the ball up to find that there is significant pressure under there to spray/soak a small child! Profuse apologies from the vendor directed us to a nearby hot air dryer in the bathroom. Small pitstop and we were back in search of the carousel.

And it’s a fairly elaborate carousel for no bigger than the mall is. Just what you think of when you hear ‘carousel’, dancing horses and fancy carriages studded with jewels. A teacup. Her first ride was on a white horse with a fancy saddle, which proved to have a sharp bite when I tried to pet it. It gave her a nice gentle ride though, and she expressed concern that the black horse (the black stallion, significantly bigger and more spacious than the other horses) might have been more fun. Next time. For now though, she was itching to have the ice cream I had previously promised her for eating such a good meal. Hershey’s Ice Cream was convniently located near the carousel, so off we went. Sis had Mint Chocolate Chip in a cup and I hit the other end of the spectrum with Peanut Butter Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough in a sugar cone. (See ‘Midnight Ice Cream’ for the significance of sugar cones…) Neither of us was able to finish our single scoop, but it did hit the spot. Several more references to the black stallion led us back for one more round on the carousel. An extra long ride this time as we were the only ones left at this point, and it was really time to head home as it was nearing her bedtime!!! (I know her Father personally and this is one date I didn’t want to bring home late!!!) A couple more trips up/down the escalators (totaling 437 times) and a brief trip in he glass elevator, and we were off. Er, I mean, after she talked me into a quick gander at Santa’s workshop. But then straight to the car with you little lady! Er, I mean, after she talked me into a quick stop in the family bathroom… But right after that we were done!!! (Sis loves the family bathroom at the mall because it has a tiny potty and sink and dryer just her size, and I love the family bathroom everywhere we go because I don’t have to stand guard in the *generally filthy* men’s room while my little girl goes tinkle. Win-win.)

Unfortunately, her Father is also a little forgetful, and couldn’t remember where he parked the car! A lengthy search of the (very large) mall parking lot gave her another opportunity to ride on Daddy’s shoulders as ‘lookout’ helping to find the car. Before we found the car though, we were accosted by a tiny (yet viscious) little attack dog in a car we walked by, which scared the daylights out of both of us. I think it was an American Eskimo, but in any case a small pfoofy little thing that sounded far more terrifying than it looked. Buckled the lady into her seat and took her music request again… her latest is ‘Girlfriend’ by Avril Lavigne, mostly because it’s a catchy tune that’s fun to sing. So I sing along, although if I sing too loud I get scolded for not sounding very pretty. I would rather hear Sis sing any day anyway.

By this time I noticed that she was starting to nod off, and we ran into traffic on Silas Creek Parkway due to an accident, so our brief trip home was extended significantly. She insisted that I put ‘Girlfriend’ on ‘repeat’ so we could sing it over. And over. And over. But this was enough to keep her awake all the way home, and as we pulled in the drive she actually said, “Daddy, can I go to bed early?” Of course she can.

Now, I’ll start a new paragraph here because this was my favorite part of the whole evening. I absolutely loved the entire thing, but this part got me. We were in the Camaro, and her carseat is in the passenger rear set, so I have to turn around to unbuckle her before I exit. She was oh so tired and wanted me to carry her to the house, and as he always does when exiting the car, she climbed over the console and into the driver’s seat to step out. I stood in the door and extended my hand to her to help her into my arms, and she paused as she took my hand and said, “I had a really fun date with you Daddy.” I’m a relatively tough-as-nails sorta guy, but I’ll stand straight up here and tell you I shed a couple of tears over that one. I felt like I was helping my Princess out of her carriage after a wonderful night of dancing at the ball. Why does she have to grow up??? I know she’s going to grow up all too soon… but not today.

I reminded her several times throughout the evening that if she didn’t remember anything else from our date, she *had* to remember that one day when she’s ready to date (when she’s 35 and not a minute sooner!) she can only go on a date with a boy if he treats her at least as good as her Daddy does. If she finds one that treats her as good as her Daddy does, I’ll walk her down the aisle. And not a minute sooner.

Baby Girl, someday a long time from now when you’re all grown up and on your own, please remember that you’re never too old to go on a date with your Daddy. You name the time and place Baby and I’ll wear any shirt you want.

Cheers from The ThreeFiveZero Home

Heart and Soil 18-October-2011

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Slide Show


Heart and Soil  18-October-2011


“The town crier didn’t say the storm was raining acid.  Did he?  I recall his dramatization, but I recall nothing about the storm being able to wash away life itself.  He should have mentioned that.”  Gunnar was good at making light of bad situations in order to survive them, but Elizabeth could always see through him.  He was truly worried.


“It will pass.  All storms do,” she replied softly, knowing that her own voice was one of the few things that could soothe her brother, although he was unlikely to admit it.


The two spent days inside the cave, looking out at the rain, watching all signs of life get washed away.  At first the rain only wilted the leaves and plants, but eventually it washed away…  everything.  Even after the rain stopped, Gunnar insisted they remain in the cave until the ground dried, now nothing but brown mud without a hint of ever having sustained life.


When Gunnar and Elizabeth did leave the safety of the cave that sheltered them from the storm, they found the same story painted everywhere they went.  The entire town had been washed away, from its heart of townsfolk, to its very soil which had sustained the town and its people.


Over the following days, some of the townsfolk returned only briefly, to say good bye and collect a few belongings.  What once was their home would no longer support life, let alone an entire town.  It was time to move on.  Some of the townsfolk did not even return to claim their belongings.  In a matter of days, only Gunnar and Elizabeth remained.


“You know that fate calls for us to go now as well, right Elizabeth?” Gunnar grinned at his sister.


“And you know very good and well that I won’t be going anywhere,” she replied sharply to her brother.


“Oh I know.  Nor will I.  I just wanted the record to show that on this day, I spoke common sense, and I wanted history to remember you as the one who ignored it.” Gunnar couldn’t hold back a full, glowing smile now.


“Common sense, like all things noble, would be wise to know when to stand down to a Lady.  Take your smug grin to the next town down and bring back some seed.  I’ll furrow in the absence of your grin,” Elizabeth grinned back.


“Aye, Miss!” Gunnar saluted and went on his way.  Elizabeth furrowed, as promised.


For months, the two planted furrow after furrow of seeds, while not one of the seeds sprouted.  The two worked hard.  They argued.  They cursed the dead soil and they had to survive on rations they gathered from far away woods and neighboring towns.  Gunnar and Elizabeth were even whispered as having ‘gone mad’ by folks in neighboring towns, as the soil they had been born into, yet continued to work, had been long dead.  Yet the two remained, and planted seeds.


Now, as old folk tales go, you might expect that Gunnar and Elizabeth eventually lost hope, left the dead town, and one day far in the future returned to find it alive and well.  Or, you might think that just before leaving the town permanently, they spied a small sprout that gave them hope and helped them decide to stay.  You might think a lot of things.  But you’d be wrong, because none of those things happened.  Souls as old as Gunnar’s and Elizabeth’s carry no end of new folk tales.


Gunnar and Elizabeth continued to plant seeds in the dead soil, in spite of the fact that even with their strong wills and faith in the soil, they also knew that they might do so for a lifetime without a single seed ever sprouting.  Yet they chose to do this because it was their home, and it was what they were made of.  They did not hope that one day folk tales would be told of their hard work rewarding them.  They did not wish for the day they could tell all the naysayers how wrong they’d all been, or the day they would feast on the fruits of the seeds they’d planted.  They did not attempt to convince others to work the dead soil alongside them, with the promise of future fruits.  Often, they did not even look toward a future where their home would once again be fertile.  They sewed their hearts and souls into their homeland, because they could live no other way.  It was not a choice or decision they made consciously.  It was simply who they were.  Old souls know that some storms, or the damage done by them, do not pass in a human lifetime.


Fortune did in fact shine on Gunnar and Elizabeth though, and eventually seeds did sprout in the dead soil.  Not like they do in fairy tales, though…  it wasn’t a magical moment where the sun shone down and a single seed sprouted instantly into a mighty oak tree.  For years, seeds sprouted then wilted.  Some seeds grew well then died overnight.  Eventually though, the ground did become fertile, and supported an entirely new crop.  It was different from any others that had grown in that soil before, and it took time to learn to farm this new crop.  In the end though, Gunnar and Elizabeth’s efforts were fruitful…  life did certainly, once again, flourish there.


If your home is truly where your heart is, your heart will never stop beating within the family that grows from your home.  Gods may grant your soul immortality, and doctors may revive your body after the heartbeat within it has gone silent.  Strangers can tell of the man they knew you to be.  There are many ways that a man can leave a legacy, can be remembered, or can be defined as immortal.


Immortality isn’t achieved through books or pictures or folk tales…  well, not entirely anyway.  Generations sew what you’re made of into themselves as well as future generations, and what parts of you they plant in the soil you gave them will shape the lands around it just as much as the passage of time will.  It’s a type of immortality that you can only achieve if you aren’t trying to.  It’s a byproduct of having your heart in the right place.


Only your children can grant immortality to the very essence of who you are, and what you’re made of.  If you’re really lucky, they may even manage to breathe that essence back into you when Gods and doctors have failed to do so.


Cheers from The ThreeFiveZero Soil

Stargazing 09-September-2011


Stargazing  09-September-2011


Little Lady turned 8 yesterday.  (She finally decided to turn 8 instead of staying 7, because of the booster seat issue…)  We closed off her Birthday with a quick trip out of the house to a dark, quiet place to do just a little stargazing before bed!


A couple weeks ago, Sophie and I had our first Daddy Daughter night since May.  While I still have deeply conflicted feelings about how wise it may or may not have been to teach her to, essentially, ‘go parking’, fact of the matter is, I did, and it was a big hit.  We started out on just a quick T-Tops-out-cruise to the grocery store, but ended up lying on the back glass looking at the crystal clear starry sky that night.  Her little 7-year-old footprints are still all over the back glass!


As with any good Birthday, the Birthday Girl got to choose our activities last night and she decided she wanted to go Stargazing for a bit before bed.  Growing up in the flatlands, it was easy to find a clear, dark, open, flat place to see the entire night sky…  in the city, it’s a bit more of a challenge.  You have to get away from towering trees and street lights, find a quiet spot with no traffic, and most importantly have a clear night to see into the heavens through.  Last night, we got all the ingredients right!  Icing on that cake is a warm blanket on a slightly cool night, and someone you love to share it all with.  Win.


I snapped several pictures before I got scolded for the flash interfering with the show, but in this picture, Sophie was trying to show Ezra which constellation it is that she thinks looks like Baxter.  She showed me that one the first night as well, and I have to go look it up to see what astronomers named it.  In The ThreeFiveZero History Books, it will henceforth be known as ‘Baxter’, regardless of prior naming conventions.  I’m just betting Galileo would approve…


Take some time to look up.  The sunset, the night sky, storm clouds, the moon…  all shows that are never late, free of charge, and humbling in a really healthy way.  Stargazing isn’t *just* for Birthdays anymore!!!


Cheers from The ThreeFiveZero Stargazers

Ying Yang Hearts 10-August-2011

Ying Yang Hearts
Ying Yang Hearts


Ying Yang Hearts  10-August-2011


Tonight, the Oracle drew Ying Yang Hearts and spent some time explaining souls to us in a little more clarity.  This is something I learned from talking to her, although not really anything in particular that she said verbatim.


It’s hard to know which people to keep in both your heart *and* your soul.  Sometimes you have to make your soul move on, even though it has to leave behind someone that’s still in your heart.


And the really really hard part is knowing which people are only in your heart, which ones are in both your heart *and* soul, and which ones to leave behind.  You see, having someone in your heart feels so good that sometimes you keep them in your live even though your soul knows it has to leave them behind eventually.  Prolongs the heartbreak.  I think.


Tricky part, Baby, is learning to tell the difference between the feeling your heart gets from having the right people in it, and the feeling your soul gets when it doesn’t want to let go of someone it has to say goodbye to.


I don’t think I’ll try to explain any of that to her until it’s time for her to make her soul let go of someone that’s in her heart.  Maybe I’ll get lucky, and she’ll never have to…


She drew these pictures while we talked.  It helped the Blind Ogre ‘get it’…


Cheers from The ThreeFiveZero Hearts

Purple Flowers 16-June-2011

Purple Flowers
Purple Flowers


Purple Flowers  16-June-2011


These flowers were in a hanging basket we bought a month or so ago. We bought 2 hanging baskets, and put them on the front porch. 3 feet apart and both get the same amount of sun and water. This plant was dying while the other one has flourished.


So, I told Sophie she needed to talk to it and see what the problem was. She went out, talked to it, came back in and said, “It wants to be planted in the kitchen window thing.” So I planted it in the kitchen window thing about a week ago, and it’s flourishing now…  It was all but completely dead. You can even still see some of the dead shoots in this picture. So today she went out and checked on it, and reported back that all is well.

Per Sophie, they’re saying, “Thanks for planting us here, we’re much happier now.” Just in case any of you don’t speak ‘purple flowers’…

Cheers from The ThreeFiveZero Flowers