Wednesday, November 18, 2009

kid stuff.

AAron has been really enjoying kindergarten. especially his music class. They also use a lot of song as mnemonics in his regular classroom. He is learning a lot.

sung to the tune of "Oh my darlin' Clementine" - "Oh my monster, Oh my monster, Oh my monster, Frankenstein - You were built to last forever - You're so scary, Frankenstein".

And now he's reading to us. Reminds me of when Amelia, now 28 and teaching at Montesori, was about his age.

Time goes on.

Life is good(scary sometimes, but good)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

new house, old back

There is sand in this picture. There is sand in this post.
close enough.

We are pretty much fully in our new place - nice little two story townhouse. cool ceilings. better area, just on the edge-farm field 1/2 block away.

I've got a tiny(20'x26') little private back yard with an appropriately sized patio. It has dirt - and bushes-wooden fence-all that. It has weeds. It has weeding and some serious but tiny landscaping. I have a yard debris cart. There is only one way into the back yard. Through. the. house. Technically, the cart will fit through the doors. But it's just wrong. Now I've got to go buy one of those long skinny "runner" drop cloths just to get the unwanted portion of my yard's bio-mass to the curb. Still, I love my new previously unattended, unloved and disturbingly muddy(at this point) back yard.

Yay for life changes(sometimes, like new different homes)

My darling oldest daughter, scavenger and thrifter deluxe, recently brought me one of those green plastic turtle sand boxes for her 5 year little brother. She called me before she delivered it to ask if her little brother would find it's lack of eyes as traumatically disturbing as she thought, and if so where to get eyes. Craft warehouse. Her friend _-_-_-_, had meticulously cleaned it and the new big brown puppy eyes are kinda cute. now for sand. Six 60lb "truck tubes" were acquired. (you know, they go in the bed of one's pickup to add traction when nature takes some back during winter) Ow! 60lbs(times 6) weighs more than it did 20 or 30 years ago. The tubes are now stacked neatly in the garage. waiting. they will wait until: A. we decide where we want the sand box turtle for ever and all time(I'm not moving this stuff all in one pile) B. my back to stop hurting, or at least to hurt less.(went to the Indian Clinic today and got a couple of week's worth of Vicadin)

Boo on life changes(like what happens to the human body,slowly, over 50 or so years, while you're not paying attention-heavy is heavier, tired is tired-er, the ground comes up faster- and hits much harder, etc.)

Still, the sand box is worth the pain. Liking the new place A LOT.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

new home.

I'm actually still here. I know, it may seem from this blog as though I'm not, but I am. I've been really busy, and I've not known shat to say here.

Yesterday my wife and I signed the lease on our new townhouse across town. we will no longer be living in public subsidized housing. this is both scary and exhilarating. There are all the usual arrangements to be made. There are a ton of things to be done, in addition to all the usual things.

It will be a new phase in our lives. Oddly, I find there are actually things I will miss about where we live now. One of those will be my frequent drives down Marine Drive, right next to the river(Columbia). Obviously, there will be just as many good things that will be different(or else we wouldn't be doing it.

Onward through the fog.

Friday, June 26, 2009

...and home again...

Family and I just got back from a small vacation to my Folk's place back in Kansas, some 2,000 + miles to the south east of our present home/location here in Portland, Or.

Got to help celebrate my father's 80th birthday. That was great. One of the guests help put things in perspective for him I think, when she said "I wish I was 80 again...that was a while back". Now THERE'S a sentence one doesn't hear often.

We went to the local little river damn. we saw long horn cattle(not the norm in Kansas). We saw buzzards on an armadillo carcass('dillos haven't been in Kansas that many decades - they're extending their territory to the north gradually) Arron thought both were very cool.

I noticed a lot more birds singing in the early mornings in my Dad's back yard than one hears in Portland.

I believe a good time was had by all. It was stormy and then it was hot(to us) in the mid 90s F, with much humidity.

We skipped most of the outings we had hoped to make - Woolaroc museum and etc.(Google it if you want info), the local safari zoo(home of the retriever nurtured white tiger cubs - google book TIGER PUPS).

There were more hoped for, including Aaron's 1st fishing venture - also didn't happen.

That's all just fine. We had a good time hanging out with family in the profusely glorious central air conditioning, something not that common here in the Pacific Northwest - it's just not that necessary here.

Took a couple of short road trips, compliments of my brother and sister in law's generous loan of a snappy little Saturn automobile ... Suddenly I'm hearing in my head ZZ-TOP - "she don't love me, she love my automobile..." big fun.

Went to see my brother's new(to him) house in Topeka. very nice. kind of bungaloish, not far from Washburn University.

Visited Ginny's folks in Blue Springs, MO(Not far southeast of K.C.)

Took a few pictures. may post some later.

I always find the whole experiencing one place, jet ride, then experiencing some other place half way across the country thing to be kind of surreal feeling.

Now we're back home...or was that back home, I get confused.

LOTS of boat work to get done in the next few months, probably more than is actually possible to do. both unnerving and exhilarating in that "good to have work" way.

Have been enjoying reading some fine blog posts from some of you, as well as your tweets. If you haven't, check out HEY LOLA (You'll have to find your own way there, too tired to do the link thing = sorry)

Wanted this to be much, entertaining.....too tired...sorry.

more later,

john ross

Friday, June 5, 2009

This Week.

What a difference a week makes. Aaron has been getting out more. He's found a couple of boys about his age to RIP around on big wheels with. He chased a bee. He caught it. He learned about bees. He's learning to dribble a basket ball - pretty well. We thunder storm yesterday. I'm really busy at work. Stressing on deadlines. I'm going to Dad's next week - very good. Exploring more twitter (when can, It's a lot more diverse than previously realized). Back still hurts, some more - some less. That's about all I know right now.

Friday, May 29, 2009

more kid stuff

Aaron went out to play. He had his favorite CARS ball. He wanted to play with some of the other kids in our apartment area. He was very enthusiastic. They were a little older. They weren't up for him. After telling him to go back to his patio, which he didn't get, they dealt with it by throwing his favorite ball over the fence into the yard of another apartment place. by the time I got home from work, about nine, it was too late to go back for it. The thrower did at least apologize. He said he meant to throw it into the yard next to the yard it went into. There were other kids in that yard, throwing the balls back and worth to our apartment places' kids. Having been alerted to the situation I brought him home a toy golf set he can use outside or inside(so he could use it as soon as I got home). He's not too worried about his other ball now. T-T-T-Tiger Woods ya'll.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Discoveries of the life long variety.

Aaron discovered my razor(disposable -triple blade) on the bathroom counter the other day. He is now sporting a small band aide on his chin which I believe to be quite adequately reminding him of the meaning of "sharp".

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Twenty some odd years ago, my landlord & neighbor had mercy on me and helped me teach my daughter to ride a bike. I had been attempting, for some period to teach her, and kinda freaking out on it in typical john-angst fashion. She eventually got it down. She has been just fine.
She teaches at a Montessori now. She is reasonable well adjusted and happy I think.

I have been trying, very sporadically to help my son 5, to learn now. I'm still not very good at it. Somehow, I get too "coach' like. Not in a good way. "Son, if you're not willing to go faster than that, you're never going to get it to balance without the training wheels." He thinks the training wheels are just fine. If you want it to keep moving, ya got keep pedaling". "No, no, NO! you've got to steer son! Keep it on the path!, watch where you're going, not everywhere else!" " Look, I didn't bring you and the bike out here just you could go only as far as the play ground."

I'm not sure why this is. I think part of it is that I see other children, who are not, i imagine, as "young" for their ages as he, happily ripping around on bikes, sans training wheels. He is young and small for his age. Just no getting around it. I know, it's NOT a competition. but still, it IS a milestone, a rite of passage, and one that i want him to successfully pass, perhaps more about me than him.

I have often been accused of being over protective.

I'm not sure if this is part of that or not.

I know eventually, he will learn. I know it will be OK.

Friday, March 20, 2009

My son loves his school

As many of you know, My son Aaron is five. He goes to Early Special Ed at a local grade school half days, a couple of days a week. He is not quite autistic, but has some autistic type tendencies towards obsessive fixations, language, etc.

He loves his school. Since we've changed sitters to one that is not in the school's bus area I've been dropping him off at school on my way to work. Once we get into the building it's hard to hold him back from running to his classroom.

He is always greeted warmly by his teacher(s), and pretty much forgets I exist once he has put his things in his name labeled cubby and settled in to color his name on his name pad at his ever moving place at a table. I think they do this so the kids will learn to recognize and find their own names. I can tell he's happy to be there and enthused to start what ever the day will be.

When he sees other kids from his class on his way to the room he will invariably yell "there's my Friend!", run up to them & try to engage them in a conversation. They almost as invariably shy away from him, turning in towards the parent's legs, saying nothing in response. I've seen this reaction to him at other, outside of school gatherings like the Pumpkin patch train ride we took him on last fall. He doesn't seem to notice the lack of response in kind.

It breaks my heart to see. I wonder how long he can go on not noticing that his "Friends" don't talk to him. I hope and pray that the responses I see are only outside of class, and tell myself that this is a "special ed" class and maybe it says more about them than him. But like I say, I've seen this before outside of school, with kids who are supposedly "normal". Next year he will start Kindergarten, still with special ed help.

I remember my own kindergarten and grade school experience with learning to socialize. When I was in kindergarten I was pretty much golden. Almost all the other kids treated me like a friend. I was engaged three times(though the student teacher did turn me down saying she was just too old for me, I could do better)

Then I went to grade school. Everything turned to crap. The guys liked to beat me up, the girls thought I was creepy.
It got some better, by about the fourth or fifth grade. I had a few freinds, I was considered "smart" by some teachers, some kids. That was mostly not bad. Looking back though, I did retain the Oddness or Different-ness factor that I had come into during first grade, & never did really feel normal again. Eventually, being normal was not even something I aspired to. It just didn't seem relevant. I 've since heard that normal is what you think people are who you don't really know. That's supposed to be a joke, but I think it true to some degree.

Still, I want a better school time childhood for Aaron. I know fitting in is not everything. At the same time, not fitting in is certainly not always a good thing either.

I would guess that this is a pretty normal parental concern - "but, what if he(Norbert) don't like it in Romania, what if the other dragons are mean to 'im?" - Hagrid - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

I hope and pray for my son, for all of our sons & daughters(and our baby dragons).

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to take Aaron's monkey- head foam hat/visor off of him and carry him up to bed.

He's fallen asleep watching Transformers (again).

Saturday, March 14, 2009

computer wierdness

Perhaps things are turning around, to a minor degree, towards the positive. I think My general, and traditional winter bad times are about come to their yearly end. thank god. My commputer suuddenly can't "see" the printer. It's not the usb cable, SO, either the computer has lost it's mind, or, I've killed the usb jack in the back of the printer. For some time every time I boot up the computer, I've had to unplug the printer usb or the computer just won't finish booting. so, the usb cable has had a LOT of being plugged and unplugged. bummer. Now that's really screwy. this posting template thingy, won't respond right to entering a line space. what up wi dat? Ok, not doing this with that kind of wierdness, I NEED my enter function. I don't know how to write without it. I can't space things well without. more later.

Monday, March 9, 2009

just another day

Yesterday we changed to daylight savings time. Thank you Ben Franklin. Today in Portland the for cast calls for scattered snow turning to rain showers later in the day (OH my god, I'm talking about the weather again!). This is the latest I recall having any snow in the 8 plus years I've been here. I'm ready for Spring.

While working on a bunch of paper work for the state last night I discovered that the computer can no longer see the printer. Now I have to go 25 miles away to borrow a computer and printer to get the required document copies, and either drive back the 25 miles to turn it in today(pretty much blowing a day of work), OR turn it in a day late tomorrow and hope all Hell doesn't break loose. As Jessica would say "Day-Um!"

A number of people I know now have those online faux lives - you know, design and build a separate reality. I thought, Hmmm, in the near future people will make money designing and selling things like art, accessories, etc. to people for those....My lovely wife informed me that once again, I'm behind the times. Apparently that has already come to pass. I've got to get more tech literate. I'm obviously missing some creative and financial opportunities.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dancing with the Paisanos

I haven't posted anything here in over a Month. Some times it's hard to know what to say.

Had an interesting experience the other weekend.

My wife and I were invited by a coworker of hers to a dinner and dance thing. We shipped Aaron, now 5, off to his big sister's for the night, got all dressed up(for us) and headed out.
We found the venue on the edge of a wooded park, just on the outskirts of Portland.

It was the home of Portland's Club Paisanos. This meant nothing to us. I was picturing an average Resteraunt/club type place before we got there. What it is though, is a Big old Dance hall type place the serves as the home for an old, venerable Fraternal Society of Italian Business Men and their families. This was one of their yearly open to the public dinner-dances.

We pulled around the gravel lot, among the large trees, found a spot, got parked. We got in the door and up to the host desk only to find out that, no, they didn't DO credit cards, this was a cash only kind of group. OK, we had a little cash, no problem. Got our tickets, found our places at the back of a long line waiting to get our salad and spagetti from the buffet, and took our first real glances at the rest of the folks.

I said this was an old association of Itallian businessmen and their families. We later learned that it dates back to the 1940s. I think that many of the three hundred or so people there were there in the '40s. To say that it was a crowd advanced in years would be an understatement.

We heard snipets of conversations like "The last time we were in Rome, things just weren't the same." I saw more diamonds flashing there than anywhere since I went to shop for my wife's engagment ring, and these diamonds were all MUCH bigger.

We got through the buffet line, and found a spot at one of the very few empty tables. we ate our food, as the table filled up with others closer to our ages(obviosly "the grand-kids" of this group). While trying not to stare at everyone else, we looked for the people who had actually invited us to this shindig, but we never did find them. we were on our own.

Did I mention that neither my wife or I are even a little bit Itallian? We're basically Scotch-Irish-Native American. We were getting some looks. Okay, maybe I imagined that. Maybe not.

About eight or so, the Band - Sand Point set up and began to play. They were quite competent, begining with some old '40s big band kinda stuff, then going on to '50s, 60's and even '70s pop dance stuff. They seemed to be able and willing to play about anything requested.
I never heard someone go from Tommy Dorsey to Bob Seager in one set before.

Then, the old Itallians got FUNKY! These people could Dance! These people had OBVIOUSLY been partying together for many decades.

We decided it was time to let down our gaurds and start drinking some red wine.
We got up. We danced. For a brief time the economic and other woes of hard winter February fell away. We were transported to an entirely other world of existance, one where We had a great time, and literaly forgot about our troubles for a while.

I briefly wished that one of my Native American ancestors had broken with their tradition and mated with some Itallians, just so I could join Club Paisano. (I think you have to be invited anyway).

That was the best part, and the saving grace of our February this year.

the end.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

mixed feelings.

This is an odd feeling. I think I've felt something similar before, but I can't remember what or when. There is a lot of anxiety. It is, I'm sure the same kind that many people are having now. business is slow. money is tighter than tight. Even my clients, the yacht owning crowd, are feeling the pinch and telling me that their businesses are hurting. Guys who never looked twice at my invoices are now bitching and moaning aboutcost effectiveness. Bills are late to be paid - to me and from me. We'll/they'll just have to wait.

So far my wife's car has racked up about a grand in repairs and we may not be done yet. I've been running the car back and forth between the shop and the Department of Environmental Quality inspection place for, either two weeks or always, I'm not sure which. The thing seems to run fine, but different pesky computer codes keep popping up after each new repair, after it takes about 300 miles to reset. Everyday is waiting for the other shoe to drop (wonder where that saying came from).

Sorry, I realize that we normally don't talk about money here, but am I not just voicing what many of us are thinking, or similar.

I know that for years I have looked around at the kind of money being thrown around by the general consuming public, and at the questionable real value of some of the things some of us do for money, and figured it would eventuallly all fall down, and now, it seems, it has. Many of us are going to have to come up with more real, more directly valuable work product to adapt to this new world.

And yet, I also find myself feeling a considerable amount of hopeful anticipation. Something is about to change, and it will all be alright - eventually. Different - probably, but alright. Is it because it's a different world now? One where America actually can and did elect not just a black man, but a smart, articulate, sense - making black man.....This particular man, black or otherwise. I like this guy...I actually heard him say, in reference to one of his cabinet choices that didn't pan out - "I screwed up". What are the odds of that kind of candor and honesty from a U.S. president? Three simple words, I suspect never before heard spoken publicly by a U.S. president. It makes all the difference. I find myself saying that frequently. Somehow, I now feel like I'm in good company there.

So, here I am, along with millions of others, anxious, tired of and from so many recent setbacks, somewhat fearful, and yet hopeful and looking forward to a better future.

God bless us, one and all.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The New Header. and The Road I'm On

I thought this was going to be a blog post about the blog - the new header that is, but it's really not...

The new header is a slightly adjusted photo of Mt Hood, here in Oregon, taken from a gravel parking lot, just off of Marine drive, between the Sheriff Station boat ramp and PDX airport. It's a zoom in of the view I see through my windshield driving home some evenings,
if I get headed that way while it's still daylight.

I'm not native to this area. This kind of scenery is not what I was raised on. Growing up in Kansas you just don't see stuff like this. Ever.
There are a number of things I miss about Kansas.
First, that bunch of my family that's not out here.
Second, some of the scenery there. It's not as spectacular as much of the stuff out here, but it has it's own impact, it's own kind of power.
A Kansas sky, if you take the time to see it, can be pretty impressive.
It's really, really big, and sometimes way wide open, in a way you just don't see here.
I miss my friends-all three or five of them.
I miss the times I had there in my young adulthood.

I sometimes miss being 19 years old, sure I had it all ,
a happy, pretty girl by my side,
me driving my Dad's blue pickup down a mid-June country gravel road,
equally sun and tree shadow striped, with
Jackson Browne turned way up loud, both windows fully down,
smelling the summer grass and the
rippling creek under the flat cement slab bridge, while
a family of raccoons crossed just in front of me and the
Red Tailed Hawk passed just over, from left to right.

That road led to this road.

Robert Plant and Alyson Krauss turned way up loud,
the tallest volcano in the Cascade Range in front of me,
Columbia river on one side and the bustling airport on the other,
the Black Cormorants bobbing just out of sight in the river, where the Monster Sturgeon waits to pull some fisherman's boat around awhile, and the Great Blue Herons stand watching me, watching them, as the
Red Tailed Hawk passes just over, from left to right.

This life, It does spin 'round and 'round doesn't it.....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

AT LAST, a moment in time

I don't do political stuff. I sure as hell don't do mushy stuff about political figures...But, just this once, perhaps-

Last night, I, along with millions and millions in the US, and around the world, breathed a sigh of relief. Sounds kind of cheezy perhaps, but, there it is. As Beyonce Knowles' absolutely belted out AT LAST, by Eta James, I turned to my wife and said "This is going to be one of those moments we look back on and say "I remember when..." . As the Neighborhood Ball progressed, the mood and the level of emotion never seemed to abate, though No one could top the obviously sincere Adoration Beyonce' evoked for the Obamas, the moment and yes, her country at that moment - along with millions of the rest of us.

It's going to be, as my father would say "A long row to Hoe". None the less, there does seem to be sense of hope and determination that I not sure I've ever seen before.

In case you missed it, here's the Beyonce/Obamas First Dance.....

Now, off to work....

Saturday, January 17, 2009


One summer somewhere around one of the Falls, columbia River Gorge.
I'm still here. Nothing is coming to mind worth putting in text. I swear I used to be smarter, more creative, and a whole hell of a lot more clever...Or maybe in my youthfull ignorance I just thought I was and now have learned better...
I'll try again later - promise.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Aaron's first evening with his new mini-vivitar.
(click on collage to enlarge)
Those shots of him were still frame captures from it's PC CAMERA mode-
Dad(I) chose when and clicked the mouse for those.
Ok, it's a "what was I thinking?" kind of event. This tiny little camera has only two buttons, and yet a full camera's worth of "modes" and "functions" .
It has a tiny little pop up view finder with the worst possible plastic view lens in it. This makes it nigh on to impossible to actually or accurately see what you're taking a picture of. Framing is, at best, an approximate kind of venture.
It has cryptic two character codes for functions which appear in the tiny and not well lit lcd display on the front of the camera. It will time itself out and turn off after a thirty second period of no button pushing. So the Dad has to tab to the correct code, hand it to the four year old and then say -
"go take pictures FAST, but remember to be very still while shooting, and remember to keep your fingers/thumbs out from in front of the lens - even if you DO think that's hilarious, and remember it has no flash so try to shoot stuff that's in good light(try explaining the photographic meaning of good light to a 4 yr old), and no, you won't get what you want if you hold it out like Daddy does his camera, 'cause there's no view screen to aim with, and yeah, I know it's hard to see through the little view window, and, and, There you Go!, you've taken a beautiful picture of something neither one of us can identify, and SURE, we can down load those thirteen pictures so you can see them and then start all over again......."
Ok, so it might be good to spend a little more than ten bucks for your kid's first digital camera....on the other hand, he couldn't be more thrilled with it, even if I could.
He particularly loves the PC CAMERA MODE because he can point the camera around (as far as it's three foot patch cord will go) and see what it sees, real time, while it's doing it. I still have to point and click the mouse on the capture still frame button. He can't be expected to do that, hold, point the camera, and try to tell it a story or sing into it because he Doesn't understand that it JUST DOESN'T DO sound.
And then the not well translated from Asian instructions on the included software will actually let you save to something else like picassa 3 so you can do an utterly heart warming, if not finely artistic, collage of your little person's first shooting experience with their own camera.
Ok, that was SO worth ten bucks, a half an hour's worth of frantic direction deciphering, and patient camera coaching of a four year old.
In retrospect, this would probably a lot more practical for, say, an eight year old, although an eight year old would be more immediately aware of the little camera's limitations, there by inciting I'm sure much lobbying for a bigger/better camera. Of course, I guess, many eight year olds now probably have a camera built into their personal cell phones that they can picture message with.... Ah, life in this, the best of all possible twenty first centuries........
And so it begins.......