Max and Miles who, to Me, Will Always be Secretly Named "Gus"

The blog about Max and his little brother, Miles. Stunningly cute boys and future leaders of the rebel forces.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Long, Long, Long, Long, Long, Long Winter

When you live up here where, if you listen to Garrison Keillor, there's 9 months of winter and 3 months of mud (or something hokey like that), you learn to how to spell fun "i-c-e-y a-s-s c-o-l-d". Now the NPR juggernaut, G-Man, weather-wise, is full of poop and quite honestly it's damn nice here April to Most of October.

All that said, when it's cold and sucky here, it can't get much colder and suckier. You may think where you are is cold and sucky but, ha, no. No, it's not. The absolute brutality of the winter here makes the human brain do crazy things. If the brain is already artistically inclined and, by default, close to the edge of insanity, the cold distorts the creative process like a frosty funhouse mirror. So, thanks be to el frio, we get The Art Shanties. A few years ago, a friend of friend, actually, got a bunch of people together, drove out to some random lake and threw up a little village of wacky ice houses. In the great tradition of fun art projects, they've gone from weekend art frolic to fully functional non-profit. They've kept the fun in, though, so that's good.

To tell the truth, Katie and I are bad winter parents. Down in my basement, there's Super 8 footage of my mom pulling me in a sled across the frozen North Dakota tundra, breath pluming from her mouth, me bundled beyond recognition. I fall out of the sled, face-first, into the snow and the camera shakes as my dad, filming, laughs. My mom laughs, too! Before the Art Shanties, all Max and Miles knew about winter was that the trip to the garage became like a mad dash dive into the atmosphere of a cold, angry planet. We'd stand at the back door, dramatically count to three and throw open the door, screaming, "Deploy! Deploy! Deploy!"

Now, thanks to coo-coo ice houses, we know that Miles likes to do his scooty thing on ice; that Max likes to sit in a little, game-themed ice house, built like a die (six-sided, not twenty) and very, very seriously and methodically take all the cubes out of a Boggle tray and then, just as seriously and intently, return the cubes to the tray; and, even in the cold ass cold, these kids are stoopid cute.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Good Girl, Frankie, Good Girl

Lots of things happen much faster than you anticipate.

I would have assumed that both Katie and I knew that Frankers would be gone before either of the boys were at a stage of memory-banking that was permanent. Growing up, I had two dogs, one of whom I know only through my Dad's stories and the other who I remember more as an idea of "dog" than as actual dog "dog". If that makes any sense. Now, though, Frankie is gone and, what with the boys, we hardly have the time to miss the dog that, before we had kids, taught us what it meant to love something other than ourselves.

was our first kid. We had known her since she was just hours old. Very early in her roly-poly days, she would have a little puppy coniption fit (the good kind) whenever Katie came around. Katie tends to have that effect on men, her boys, and Frankie. We convinced Katie's Mom that Frankie was born to be her dog and, thus, we were dog owners.

We dragged the little fluff ball off to Pennsylvania where she helped me load kilns at all hours of the night and became accustomed to a grad student's life of long nights spent intimately with academic texts followed by late mornings of dark, life-giving coffee. A blatant hussy, she would roll onto her back, show off her belly stare at you until gave into the dog voice in your head saying, "You know you want to rub that belly." Also, she ate a hell of a lot of popcorn off our kitchen floor. A young undergrad, who could've been looking at any number of distractions you see on a college campus, saw Katie walking with Frankie and came up to me later: "Your dog is really beautiful when she walks!"

The ensuing years were less than organized and the poodle ended up back with Katie's Mom for a time. She was clean most of that time and well groomed but, with no popcorn to clean up, she became sadly weened of that fantastic skill. No longer useful to us as a renegade popcorn kernel cleaner, we decided to have a couple of kids.

It all happened so quickly, we didn't really have a chance to read up on how to break the news of Frankie's passing to Max. When Boots didn't come home from that last visit to the Vet, Max asked where she was and we told him that she was just staying at the doctor's office a bit longer. He said, "Oh", and went back to scooping out cupfuls of Dad's pancake batter onto the countertop.

That was almost a month ago. The last few nights, as we have everynight, we put Max to bed and tell him, "Mommy loves you; Daddy loves you; Miles loves you. Dream sweetly. Goodnight Max." The last few nights Max as added quizzically, "And Frankie-Boots loves me?"

"Yes, Frankie loves you."

"We need to pick Frankie up from the doctor's office?"

"Well, Max, Frankie's going to be at the Doctor's for a while longer."

"We will pick her up?"

"Good-night, Max."

Try not to get verklempt after that.

All I know is, when he's able to really remember, I'll tell him about our good dog. The wonderful white fluff ball, foo-foo dog, who could scare you shitless with her giant bark. About the time our neighbor asked, "Are you sure that's a girl dog?" after Franks gave him what for through the chain-link. About all the countless, innocent chew toys that were de-squeaked in a matter of moments. I'll tell about the gorgeous, white poodle who never chewed a shoe or a chair or a remote: never chewed anything she wasn't supposed to. I'll tell him about the very, very, very good dog we had once named Frankie, Queen of the Poodles.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Have Your Cake and Eat it too

Experts have pondered this question for eons: Can you busta move to Jonathan Richman and simultaneously read a book? Miles answers this ancient query with a resounding "Yes! Yes you can!" Oh, and, yes, that is Max singing along with the Modern Lovers.

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