Just 599 Days Left…

Until President Bush’s last day in office.

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"King George" by Clay Bennett

The record of this administration’s incompetency to govern our country reads like a grocery list of failures, scandals and impropriety.

These are only my own grievances (and not all of them). For a more comprehensive report, go here.

Thankfully, the midterm elections (that the President himself described as a "thumping") indicated that the country as a whole has had enough and recent polls put the President’s approval rating in the low thirties. But this means absolutely nothing if the Democratic majority will not stand up to an unpopular President and insist upon getting us out of the middle of a civil war.

Just to be clear, opposing the war is not the same thing as not supporting our troops. I support our troops, but I have absolutely no confidence in their Commander in Chief or in the decisions that he makes. Further, when President Bush says he supports them, he needs to be asked why he cuts their benefits or provides them with inadequate health care when they come home. The President’s "support" is hollow, political rhetoric which bears no fruit.

There are so many reasons that I am ready for this President to leave; as a teacher, as the son of a small business owner, and for all the reasons listed above and more…January 20, 2009, come quickly.

ThoseAwake Field Trip to Rehoboth Ranch


View Album @ My Public Gallery

A couple weekends ago, Shaun, Richard and I went to an Open House that a Ranch near Greenville, TX was having.  It ended up being much more like a harvest festival atmosphere than what I was expecting and we enjoyed ourselves. We learned about it through their booth at the Coppell Farmer’s Market and couldn’t pass it up.

Granted, Rehoboth Ranch is geared almost exclusively towards raising cattle, goats, and chickens, and I am obviously more interested in vegetable gardens, but this was still a great visit. Besides various tours around the ranch, they also had some booths that the organic-minded would find helpful.

The single most fascinating part of the entire trip was talking to a bee keeper. Now, I know that after watching "The March of the Penguins" I said that penguins were my favorite animal, but I’m going to have to take it up a notch and say that Honey Bees just might be my favorite organism in the entire planet. They are absolutely mind-blowing and I would love to keep a colony in the backyard (not happening for a couple reasons, though…namely, the stingers and a newborn might not mix.) I’ve got a PBS documentary about Bees on the way to me from Blockbuster and I can’t wait to watch it! But these guys are geniuses. When a worker bee goes out and finds flowers, he returns to the hive and performs a waggle dance which communicates the distance and direction of the nectar to the other bees! As the bee keeper said, they are architects because they design the geometrically perfect hive, engineers because they construct it, chefs because they make food and artists because they’re dancers. They’re all little da Vinci’s.

We learned a lot and enjoyed the trip. Next time though, I suspect we’ll visit a farm where we can sink our fingers in the soil.

Somebody’s…

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PREGO!

And it’s your friendly neighborhood Rheas! Laura is 18 weeks pregnant which puts the big arrival day at October 31st…Halloween! So this year it is Trick or Treat indeed!

Obviously, we’re both beyond excited and we can’t wait to get settled in to the new house so we can begin working on the nursery. The most common question we have been getting besides, "How are you feeling" (directed exclusively at Laura, apparantly nobody really cares about my health anymore…I’m like some nondescript cargo box down in steerage) is, "Do you know what you’re having?"

The answer is that no, we do not know what we’re having quite yet. We could find out in a few weeks for sure (technically, we might be able to find out right now but the chances are better later) but we’re still working this one out. Laura, the preeminent planner of the home, wants to find out for several very good reasons. Obviously, the practical aspect of being able to purchase specifics for baby but also being able to have that added connection of calling him or her by their actual name. These are wonderful reasons.

But, my reasons for not wanting to find out the sex until the actual delivery are less functional and more poetic. Poetry does not get you very far these days. The way I see it, almost everything in our lives can be predicted, controlled, planned for and forecast. The things that we can’t control tend to freak us out and scare us. Rather than allowing it to be a source of stress, I’m much more inclined to at least try to embrace it as a mystery and as a part of the adventure of Life. And what is more mysterious and wonderful than the delivery of a new life in to this strange and beautiful world?

So for now, we will just refer to the little cutie as a sweet potato.

Hypeful

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Our good friend, fellow Parisian and solid football player (far right) Lucas has launched himself a blog: Hypeful. "The emphasis of Hypeful will be on music, film, and other assorted cultural musings. I hope that you enjoy it and have a good time."

So, this guy is one of the funniest and most ingenious people I know, so if he’s putting his energy in to a project, I’m paying attention. If you have an interest in music, film and culture, give it a click. And in case you need a vote of confidence, he’s the guy that introduced me to Sufjan.

Influence

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When my grandpa on my dad’s side had heart surgery, the doctors didn’t
want him out in the hot Texas sun doing the yard work he’d been
accustomed to doing himself. One of the jobs that my brother and I took
on for him was mowing the yard. We were probably around ten and twelve
at the time; the perfect age to begin trusting young boys to push
around a rapidly spinning steel blade on wheels, propelled by the power
of 5 horses.

Grandpa was scrupulous when it came to post-mow maintenance.
At the time, I didn’t appreciate that scraping the underside of the
deck with a putty knife (after disconnecting the spark plug, of course)
helped the lawnmower perform at its best. I couldn’t see the reasoning
behind hosing it down after every use, it was just going to get dusty
and dirty again the next time we used it. But, that’s how it was done.
That is how you knew when you were finished mowing, when the lawnmower
was as clean as when you’d begun.

Fast forward sixteen years and now the mower isn’t Grandpa’s,
it’s my own. And while I must admit that I don’t detail the trusty
Honda as carefully as he would have insisted (I have abandoned the
putty knife), the ritual of hosing down and cleaning the deck after a
mowing has stuck. And now, not only do I appreciate it, but I can enjoy
it because I cannot clean my lawnmower without thinking about my
Grandpa, and I hear his gravelly voice, "That looks good Brian." Except
that he would never say Brian, but instead, Briin. My name in his voice
has one syllable and not two; the I and the N meeting without allowing
some A to get in the way.

It might sound kind of cheesy, but I’ve realized that taking
care of the lawnmower is my way of honoring and remembering my Grandpa.
There are other seemingly mundane, but on closer inspection, noble
things in my life that are there because people that I love put them
there whether they meant to or not. Who could’ve imagined that
insisting on a clean lawnmower would one day
open that child’s eyes even wider to the awesome, terrifying and
beautiful power of an individual’s ability to influence? It’s these odd
little realities in our lives that make them so mesmerizing to look at
and wonder about.

Wringing Out the Sponge

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I feel like I’ve been in "absorb" mode for months now. There are too many books, too many blogs…it cannot all be done. Anytime I am on the internet I’m checking out my RSS aggregator, taking in the latest posts, following links and then following links from those links.

If I’m caught up on the blogs I read, I sift through delicious or technorati for keywords I’m interested in. And of course, I’ve got iTunes playing the latest episodes of my favorite podcasts or the latest album I’ve downloaded the whole time.

So I’ve been taking it in, as best I can anyway. Which isn’t altogether a bad thing, but if sponges are wet for too long, then it’s just Spring Break for bacteria. It dawned on me that I’d been reading, listening, absorbing without putting much back out. I need to wring out the sponge, lighten up on the absorption and create something. A story, a painting, a song.

Years ago I used to write songs on my guitar. They weren’t any good, and I couldn’t carry a tune if it came with two handles, but when I would sit down with my guitar those were the songs I would play instead of stumbling through some Jack Johnson song I’d (half)learned. That used to be meaningful and now I can’t remember a single one.

I’ll bet someone wise has said something about the ratio of things you learn to things you create. I’m also willing to bet that it was more profound than, "Ehh, about 6 to 1 is pretty good." Regardless of what that guy might have said, I know that my ratio is terribly unbalanced and I can feel it.

This isn’t going to end with some pledge to write five essays, three songs and create one painting in the next four weeks. It’s just to say that the next time I think about going to my Google Reader, I might grab a pen and paper instead. Or, the next time I want to listen to music, I’ll try to write some of my own.

This doesn’t apply to everyone reading this post, but to those that it does: let’s create more. Write a song and play it for someone. Start a podcast and read one of your poems once a week (poems are always better heard than read anyway!). Quilt. Write down a story before you forget it. Scrapbook. Go for a walk and create a memory. Quit reading this blog. :)

Happy Mother’s Day

I remember leaving school one day, it had to have been kindergarten or 1st grade, and I had a paper that I couldn’t wait to show my mom as she sat in the "Momma Bus" line in front of Cecil Everett Elementary. It was one of the very first days of the school year and we had done some sort of cut and paste activity, the kind where you might cut out the word of an animal sound from one page and paste it in the speech box of the corresponding animal. I don’t remember the details, I just remember that I had gotten mine back from my teacher and I couldn’t wait to show my mom this example of my budding genius.

I must’ve burst out of those east doors with images of legendary base-stealer Rickey Henderson flashing through my head. My skinny, bowed, white legs churning, propelling me at six, maybe seven miles per hour in the direction of the two-toned Ford Aerostar idling in the drive-thru. Clearly, my supernatural burst of speed created a vacuum in the surrounding atmosphere and the resulting wind grabbed my prized school assignment and sent it tumbling across the yard.

My stomach churned! No, I couldn’t lose it! I had to show it to my mom!

I turned on a dime and chased down the runaway craft; easily, of course, because of the superhero speed that I’ve already described. With the crisis averted, I descended upon the minivan. I threw open the sliding door, hopped inside and shoved the paper in front of my mom’s face. There was only one problem: the grade on this project that I’d been so excited to show off and had so carefully guarded, U+. Unsatisfactory! But, at least on it’s way to making the leap up to merely Needing Improvement.

Today is Mother’s Day, and as I think back to this event that happened twenty-one years ago, one thing that sticks out to me is that I don’t really remember my mom’s reaction to the U+. She might’ve played it off and cheered me on for giving it my best; she might’ve shaken her head and said, "Oh Brian, you can do better than this." I don’t really remember. But what I can remember as if it were yesterday is that I couldn’t wait to get to that minivan and it’s because I knew that my mom loved me and that she was proud of me. Well mom, I love you and I am proud of you.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Rheas on the Move!

Effective May 31st, 2007 the CoppellRheas are pulling up stakes and will become the GrapevineRheas!

We are extremely excited about the neighborhood and are especially looking forward to getting involved in the Grapevine community. From what we’ve seen and had a chance to partake in, Grapevine has maintained a small-town vibe amidst all the craziness of suburban Dallas and it seemed like the right fit for us to settle down in.

The location of our new house is exactly what we wanted because it backs right up to the woods surrounding Grapevine Lake. Our back gate literally opens up to a massive wooded area with bike trails and plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. As our realtor said, "You’ve got a huge backyard." And for that, we are extremely grateful.

But we have to say goodbye to our home of the last two and a half years!

Here is a photo album of our house in Coppell

And here are some pictures of our new digs in Grapevine

New Photos

I’ve been toying around with integrating iPhoto on my new MacBook with Google’s online photo storage site Picasa. On a side note, I have totally sold out to Google’s gMail and gCalendar…they are awesome. So, after briefly toying with the idea of a Flickr account, I decided to just keep it in the family and go with Picasa.

For other iPhoto users who might be interested, Picasa offers a nice little extension that makes uploading albums a snap.

So, here are a couple of the things we’ve been up to lately…I’m also going to get a big post put together with before and after pictures of the house before we move out (May 31st!!).

The Rhea’s Picasa Album