Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Conundrum

We have everything we need, in material terms. A home, safe neighborhood, space, plenty of food, music, movies, televisions, surround sound, Tivo, clothes (man…do we have clothes), toys, digital music players (last count, somewhere around 10 of them), and on and on and on.

And so Christmas comes again. Yet another year of running around buying stuff to give to people and each other. What do we buy? What do we ‘need’?

This cycle and focus on gifts is driving me crazy. Michelle too. But we still have two young ones that relish the magic of Christmas morning and the gifts from Santa. We have always been modest with gifts- we don’t go crazy. Santa brings each girl one gift a year plus a stocking, and we give the girls a few other gifts as well. But with 4 kids, and an ever growing extended family, what once was a month where we spent $300 or $400 is now a couple grand when all is is said and done.

And how are we better for it? In January, how are we different, other than the burden of the new stuff accumulated?

We want to do it different this year. But we are not on a course yet to do so. Do we forgo most of the gifts and take a nice vacation? How do we help others instead of helping ourselves to the plenty God has provided us? We are searching and talking and thinking about it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Winter Ramblings

I am sitting at my desk, looking out the double doors into my backyard. The horizon of the gentle slope of the yard always in conflict with the straight horizontal lines of the window panes.

The fullness of the trees beyond the yard are gone, and brown skeletons of 40 and 50 foot tall remain, looking eerily like the veins and capillaries of a human body. It’s almost as if they are soaking up the nutrients of the earth and feeding them up to the flesh of the world.

The drizzling rain, going for two days now, has deeply soaked the world outside, and all of the creation I can see is falling asleep- readying for the next few months of winter slumber.

This is the time my memories start to rush in. Some sort of connection to the ancient world, when winter brought an end to harvests, field work, wars, conflict, and forced the weary inhabitants of the northlands inside to spend the coldest days of the year in thought, conversation and memories.

I remember childhood, winter storms, snowball fights, igloo building, school closing, sledding, snow ramp construction for headlong death flights of fancy through the atmosphere 36 inches above the ground on a wood and steel contraption with blades that I imagined might slice off my leg.

Good and wonderful memories. I want snow. And lots of it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Maybe Your You-Know-What CAN Smell Like Roses

This has to be, hands down, the funniest new product I have seen in some time. Its aroma therapy for your arse.

Here’s the text from the ad (since it’s too small to read on this post):

Zum Bum

After a few spritzes on some T.P. and a few dainty dabs on your tushie, you will definitely have that, you know, oh-so-fresh feeling. So come on, booty up to our new “bidet in a bottle,” made with naturally soothing witch hazel, pure essential oils and vegetable glycerin.”

The hang tags on the various bottles read:
“Booty duty calls”
“Stinky rear ends here”
"Dump stinky rump.”

Hilarious! I know these folks well- they are the lovely people from I have shopped with them for years online, and even use them often for Christmas gifts to friends and family. One year they got all my gifts (25 or so) shipped out with the wrong gift cards- huge mess, and they fixed it quick by contacting everyone and apologizing and sending me a huge free shipment of soaps.

I think this year I may make this THE DigitalRich gift to friends. How funny will that be?

I guess the only thing that could possibly top this would be some sort of pill or liquid you consumer to make ALL your bodily functions smell mountain fresh.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Close To Home

It happened Wednesday night. I heard the sound of a helicopter outside, shortly before the kids came down to my office to tell me dinner was ready. I stepped outside wondering how close it was.

The drone of the blades sounded like it was just on the other side of the tree line…very low. I looked for blinking lights or anything that would signal its location but saw nothing. I thought for a second- why am I hearing a helicopter so low and so close? We have a ‘neighbor’ or two that has a personal helicopter, and I have no doubt that a few folks have come home on a helicopter. One nearby couple, you might have heard of them- Faith Hill and some guy named Tim McGraw- certainly have enough money and land to have a fleet of helicopters on property. Every few days there is one in particular that zooms over our property fairly low. It had to be one of those.

Except for one thing. It just stayed where it was. For too long. One the ground, very close.

I went back inside and didn’t think about it again until the next morning when I went to a clients office for a meeting. Matt looked a little tired and had a hard time focusing as we started our presentation to a major retailer. After the meeting he apologized for struggling in the presentation and said it had been a long night. He told me a relative of his had died in a car accident- not too far from my house- and he was with the family until early into the morning.

Two fathers died shortly before I heard that helicopter. Two fathers, way too close to my home. A young boy was in one of the cars with his dad, and their car somehow crashed head-on into another car with another father driving home on our insanely hilly and curvy road. The boy survived, and was the passenger on the helicopter I heard, life-flighted to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.

I can’t get this out of my head. Neither can Michelle. The kids too. None of us knew the victims directly; we didn’t have a relationship with them. But we know both families from a distance. The little boy rides our girls bus to and from school.

I have driven by the spot where the accident happened 9 or 10 times by now, and I always have a feeling of horror, loss, and anger. I think about these people with their lives ahead of them, just going about the daily routine of living, suddenly, in a split second, taken from this world.

Why? The same questions, asked by billions of people over thousands of years, flood my mind. Why would God allow this to happen? Does he or does he not see the future? If he does, and he knew this would happen the moment and place it did, why didn’t he just have the one dad leave work 5 seconds later? Or the other dad get held up at the traffic light in Franklin 3 seconds longer? Why? What good could possibly come of this? How will God use this for good?

I am hurting for these families. The pain and anger constantly cycles into a nausea, and back again I end up reeling, thinking about how easily it could have been me with the girls in one of those cars. Or Michelle.


Friday, November 09, 2007

Do You Like Being A Mom?

Little kids have amazing thought processes. They are trying to think through, sometimes, deep and complicated issues with very simple immature minds. One of the few basic thought processes that most young children master first is cause and effect.

If I push this button, the light comes on. If I try to walk down the stairs, I will fall and hurt myself. If I throw food to the kitchen floor from my high chair, my mom or dad will repeatedly pick it up no matter how many times I do it in a row.

Many times cause and effect works as a scientific method of observing our world. But not always.

The other night before bedtime Michelle was making lunches for the coming school day. The whole family was spread out in the kitchen and the adjoining open great room engaged in various activities. I was on the couch working through my self-taught guitar lesson (currently learning to chord every Beatles song), K was on the computer pretending to do homework while chatting with 3-4 friends on Google Chat, L was doing homework and A was too. R, our 6 year old, was observing Michelle make lunches.

“Do you like being a mom?”

That was the question R had for Michelle after quietly observing her make lunches. Wow. We all stopped and looked up. What a deep question for a 6 year old to ask. What was going through her mind? Was she thinking about Michelle and how she is dealing with all of her sisters growing up so fast? The burden and pressure of taking care of a workaholic husband, keeping up the house, caring for 4 kids and trying to discover who she is as a person?

While the family paused in their activities and silently observed the conversation Michelle looked at R and said “Yes. Of course. Why do you ask?”

“Because you have a really mean look on your face while you’re making our lunches. I was just wondering if you like being a mom and having to do work.”

Thursday, November 08, 2007



You could have read it if you had a reader program and got it delivered earlier.

If not, too bad.

She felt it would have hurt too many feelings. She's sensitive that way.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Doble Digits

A couple weeks ago I trekked to my old worksite for a meeting. While there I wandered by my old office and peeked my head in to look around. It’s been exactly two years since I worked there, and the space no longer generated a familiar feeling. It was now replaced by something more foreign and distant.

It did bring back a fun memory though.

My office had a series of large windows, each about 3 feet wide and 6 feet tall. There were 5 across one side, and 3 across the other. A nice roomy place to work. On those large windows I used to write out ideas and objectives in erasable marker. The windows made perfect ‘white boards’ that allowed anyone that wanted to graphically make their points during meetings in my office. I also had one of the walls covered in sheet metal which worked just as well for an impromptu white boards as well as a cool place to use for magnets to hold posters, brochures, anything.

For my kids, the windows and the sheet metal wall were a magical and mystical thing that allowed them to do something that they couldn’t, wouldn’t, do in the real world. Write on walls and windows.

Each time Michelle brought them by the office they went straight to the markers and started to draw and doodle all over my office. There were several temporary works of art that adorned my office for days afterwards.

One particular day L, our second child, came in the office the day before her 10th birthday. She was so excited about turning double-digits (that was her big thing) that she drew a marvelous portrait of herself and a birthday cake wth a giant heading to the picture proclaiming “Tomorrow I turn DOBLE DIGITS!”

I teased her a bit about the misspelling, good naturedly, and she wanted to correct it. I didn’t let her. It was too precious. It stayed on that window for at least 6 months.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Halloween Is Lame

I’ve tried. Over the years I have tried to make Halloween work.

Even as a kid I remember struggling with the stupidity of Halloween. So, you dress up in a costume, and you walk around your neighborhood knocking on doors and observe strange people you don’t know, or maybe you do know them and they freak you out a bit because they have a mean dog or their kid is a bully, drop candy in your bag or bucket. You stand there at their door with a mask on and mumble some magic words. Candy materializes.

Then you go to the next house and do it all over again until all the front porch lights in the neighborhood start to flicker off signaling the merciful end to this weird “holiday.”

And all of this celebration centered on death, demons, witches, ghosts and various dark things.

How fun and happy.

Of course, the amount of candy you collect is roughly equal in volume to the candy you (or your parents if you’re young) hand out at your house.

This all seems pointless to me. There is no redeeming element to Halloween. No feast, no gathering of friends and family (unless of course its at a Halloween party with alcohol and the resulting drunk driving), no message of hope or love or kindness.

I don’t get it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Oh Canada! You're So Nice!

In and out trip to lovely Canada. Arrived in Toronto yesterday afternoon about 1PM and went through customs in a flash. The folks I was meeting with picked me up at the airport, gave me a guided historical tour of Toronto on the way to the office, and expounded on all things Canadian.

The current state of being for the Canadians seems to be estacy, for two reasons. 1) Its hockey season again. 2) The Canadian dollar is now of greater worth than the US dollar. And this last one seems to please them to no end.

During the meeting the European-side of these people shined through: fine coffee and a splendid array of fine fruits, breads and sweets for an afternoon business meeting. Unlike the American way- stale coffee from a few hours ago and a piece of hard candy if you're lucky.

The meeting went well, deal sealed I believe, and then a drive to the hotel. Exceptionally nice people. I can't say that I've ever met a mean Canadian. Indifferent maybe, but certainly not mean.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Picture and Story 11

This is my nephew Jacob being tortured. Enough said.