First big woodworking project. Tell me what you think.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Review

I have to tell you first that I am a campy comic and action movie fan, but my opinion of the marvel and avenger franchise in particular has gone down quite a bit these last couple movies. They seem to have found a particularly profitable formula and now they are pumping on it till the well is dry. Good for them I say, but it doesn’t make for long lasting quality movies – The kind you show your grandchildren.

I should say that Its not quite Kubrick material. I mean it is an action movie after all. We aren’t expecting monumental plot twists and tear worthy dialogue, but in this movie it actually came close. I don’t know whether it was the large screen and the fact that I haven’t been to the theater in a really long time, or it really was the well thought out character development in this movie, but I felt really connected to the protagonists struggle.

Characters / Character development 4/5 stars

In this installment of the Guardians franchise, we saw a couple new sides to some of the old characters. Groot was back and cuter than ever. Nebula and Yondu had a lot more screen time in this movie and I am not sad about it. During some of Nebula’s parts, there were actually times that I heard audible gasps and sighs from the audience. It was moving and well thought out. Mostly Nebula is known for giving a fierce look on camera, and then storming away, but here she had a little more body language to display and a lot more lines. She delivered well.

Yondu was a great addition to the cast. In the first movie he was a secondary antagonist, but here he took on a much more meaningful role. It was a great wrap up to the question of ‘Why did Yondu never deliver Peter Quill to his father?’. Made for some pretty great sequences.

Eego / Kurt Russel. Who knew? This guy is known for cheap rubber stamp pulp action movies, and that’s not a bad thing, its just the truth. Here, he really sold his character. Kurt did tremendously. It was probably some of his greatest acting.

Plot / Story 3/5 stars

The theme in this movie was family and what it means to be a part of something greater than yourself. It had undertones of ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ type of vibe to it. The writing of the the plot was well thought out and it delivered a strong and poignant message. Which is something for a marvel movie. The first couple were great, but honestly they’ve become an excuse for running action sequences.

I thought it was obligatory that the movie had a plot twist, because it seemed everything was going a little too well there for a little bit. I have to say that I saw the twist coming, but I couldn’t have guessed the depth of the twist or how it would affect the gang. It was troubling for a character. Pleasantly surprised.

Visuals / Graphics / Storyboard / Screenplay 4/5 stars

Obviously fantastic. Well thought out. Not really much to say here, because its a marvel movie and they do their homework. Fantastic, as were the rest of them.

Overall 4/5 stars

Well worth the money to go see it in the movies. Thanks for reading.

 

Starting Raised Beds

This post isn’t going to be very long. Just wanted to give some of you guys an update on the Garden I’m making. I stated out above with exactly 7 2x12x12s  It was exactly enough for me to make a raised bed that was in the shape of a ‘U’ that was 3′ wide and 12′ all around, and also make another 3’x6′ raised garden bed that I could use somewhere else.

The site is on a slight decline next to my driveway. It gets a lot of sun there most of the day. The rest of my property is pretty shaded. I didn’t really have a lot of choice in the matter. It was either here or the legit front yard – which is where I’m standing when I’m taking the above photos.

So here I’m just getting the general layout of the pieces and seeing where it would best fit. I plan on buying some more wood and building another set of boxes further down the drive. For right now this was all I had.

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And here it is all put together. I’m going to get some dirt when I get the other load of wood. I’ll buy the plants too. Next year I should be able to go off the seed I’ll make this year. And I don’t have all my indoor starter stuff right now, so I couldn’t really take the time to start indoors. This will be my first year homesteading on this property so I’m just going to make the beds and plop some plants in.

When I put these together I had to make sure all the corners were joined properly. If they weren’t, The dimensions wouldn’t be right since I rounded everything off to the nearest foot, making it easier to cot pieces and not get distracted by assembly of pieces. Worked out pretty well.

I put together my hop bed, but that is coming in next with the other load of wood.

Thanks for checking it out. More adventures to follow.

How I Went From Tormented Veteran, to Peaceful Homesteader.

I grew up next door to a vegetable garden. It was quite large. At least 6 or 7 acres. I can remember the smell of the produce growing after the rain washed the heat off the plants. The spiciness of the cabbage and that unique smell from the cauliflower. I can remember the way that peppers smell still hanging from the bush. Green beans, corn, and pumpkin. There is a noticeable tang that comes from the leaves of any vegetable plant. Anybody that farms can tell you this. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was a smell I would never forget. I would yearn for it, and the sight of fog lifting itself from the fields as the sun burned away the heavy, damp spring weather.

I joined the army in the year 2000. It was a practical choice. My family didn’t have any money and I wanted to go to college. It was either factory work for the rest of my life, or do this for 4 years, call it quits and cash in. I didn’t foresee the epic mistake that I was about to make. When I first joined, things were, for the most part, copasetic. You did your job. People stayed out of each other’s business, and time kind of ticked away. My unit received orders for a peacekeeping mission to Kuwait. All seemed well. We were told we were to be given ammunition, but not allowed to fire it. If we accidently fired one round it would be a big deal. We got there, settled in for some nice desert sun, then 9/11 happened.

I won’t go in to it too deep. Everybody has their “Where were you when it happened?” story. But I will say that things started to change quite dramatically. Our leadership began a campaign with each other that was all about ‘Who could make their unit more prepared’. It wound us up pretty tight. Training happened often and unexpectedly. Then Saddam decided to have a little fun.

During my time in Kuwait, there were several air raid drills. They were designed to prepare us for an attack from Saddam. For decades since the gulf war in the 90’s they were there for training purposes to rehearse for the real thing. This was the year 2001. Before our invasion into Iraq and Afghanistan. One summer afternoon we heard the siren blare, and it was not a drill. Iraq had launched an active scud. We were told to get into bunkers and await further instructions. It was the most terrified I have been and will ever be. No person on earth should ever feel so helpless in their own future. My thoughts had been reduced to a never-ending repeat of ‘This is how I’m going to die. I’m going to get blown to smithereens. I don’t want to die like this’. On the other side of bunker, in gas masks, I could see hulkish figures heaving heavy sobs. Grown men crying, reduced to a primal, consuming fear. I wanted to go home.

The scud missile had been deemed a test by the Iraqi’s. It was detonated over their own land. I was safe, but I was not the same person when I came out of that bunker. I had been shown that my life was worth nothing more than the heartbeat inside my uniform. I had done nothing in my life worth merit. Nothing worth noting. In that half an hour inside that bunker the reason for me living had been reduced to nothing more than a target for another countries missiles. It was a thought that I would learn would follow me around for some time to come. Most veterans I talk to can relate to this.

When I got home I struggled, as most veterans do, trying to fit in to a place that I had outgrown. I tried several different hobbies and I tried to make music. I used my college money and went to school. I got a degree in a dying industry. I was flailing pretty hard. I had fun doing it, but something was wrong. I felt out of place, disconnected, used up in a way. I picked up rock climbing. I got married to the love of my life. We moved into a small house in the city and we got a dog. I got a good job where I was paid well, but the feeling of being disposable never left me. I sank into depression and the torment of feeling useless and ashamed. Then, more than anything, I wanted to revisit my childhood and get lost in the innocence that was there.

I began to yearn the smell of wet earth. I began craving the feeling of earth on my bare feet. I wanted to be in the silence that follows a storm. I wanted to watch rain drip off verdant leaves. I wanted to feel the dampness come off a field of vegetables. I wanted to smell the spiciness of tomato leaves. Above all other things: I wanted to watch things grow.

I started small, with only a couple of plants. A few corn stalks and a few tomato plants. Most walk-in closets have more space than my first garden did. I planted the seeds directly in the ground. I decided that even though I knew it would be easier to start them indoors, I liked the idea of the seed going in the ground.

When my first tomato plant popped its little jagged leaves out for the first time I was hooked, but it was more than simple pride in mastery over nature. It was more than a feeling of anticipation of harvesting my own tomatoes. I felt in control of something. I was responsible for something. I felt connected to something. I felt connected to the earth. I was growing my own nourishment. I was tending the very thing that was keeping me alive: Food.

As my garden grew I found myself looking at it after my night shift at 6 in the morning. I would spend an extra half hour in my small backyard while the rest of my neighborhood slept. It was strange how I loved to just look at what was growing. As the sun came up and revealed the dew drops on the green leaves a feeling of peace would come over me. I knew that no matter what happened while I slept, these plants would still be here. It didn’t matter if it were rain or wind or any summer calamity, the tenaciousness of the vines would endure. I learned from the plants. I learned that catastrophe happens to all living things. Whether it’s a scud missile, or a tomato worm, life will continue to try and bear fruit. Life in the garden began to reveal a reflection of how my life should be. I had been handed a rough deal, but not the roughest. My plants felt no self-pity, neither would I. My garden would always be there as a testament to how tenacious I should be in my own life. My garden would always try to overcome any obstacle to bear its fruit. My time to bear fruit was just beginning.

Please join me in my journey through simple living. Like and follow my blog if it suits you. Thank you.

5 Things You Must Know Before Planting Hops.

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Alright! So you wanna grow some hops for your beer brewing? Maybe even sell some to your local brew shop? Well, don’t go thinking you can get rich off of one harvest of hops. Many people already have a lot of skin in the game. You can, perhaps, get your local brew shop to buy them and sell them for you, but it would be a good idea to check ahead of time to see how much competition you have at that particular shop. Most likely, If you don’t have at least 5 acres devoted solely to the purpose of growing, drying and packaging your hops to ensure you have a foothold in the local market, you’re not going to make a lot of money doing it, but it is still worth it to grow them if you want to live the homestead lifestyle and be 100% sustainable. Also, it’s great to grow them and throw them in your brew and make your specific brew that much more unique.

So what do we first need to know before growing hops? First of all, you need to know that I am not a botanist. I have hop plants and they grow quite nicely. I am what you call a novice, but I am what you call a master when it comes to all things chlorophyll. I have been working with and around plants and vegetables since I was about 10 years old. I love it. It is one of my many passions. The next thing you need to know is that hops are a perennial, which means you plant them once and they will come back every single year just like a tulip or a daffodil. If you don’t know what either of those are you’ll have to look them up. Unlike the tulip and daffodil though, the hop grows from what is called a rhizome, otherwise know as a root, or mass of roots. The root, or rhizome, of a hop plant stores energy in the form of starch in the fall when the plant hibernates, and then releases that energy in the spring creating fast growing vines and fast growing root systems. In this particular blog post I’m going to walk you through the simple in’s and outs of how hop plants grow. Fertilizing and harvesting and fall care we will tackle in another blog. The last thing you will need to consider before planting hops is that they will need a lot of vertical room to climb and they will need a climbing medium to climb on.

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What is a climbing medium you ask? It is a thing that the plant can twirl itself around and spread itself out the way it was designed to do. If you leave it to itself with no twine or anything it will crawl on the ground and not get the proper amount of sunlight. This plant was meant to climb on other sturdier plants or rock walls. So, to give it what it has evolved to need, you must give it something to climb on.

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There are about a million different climbing mediums. Everything from aircraft cable to wood trellis to aluminum castings to bike rims welded together. I have found that the most success myself and other people have had is with good old fashioned fiber binding twine. The kind they used to use to wrap up a Christmas tree.

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They really don’t like anything else.

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As far as planting them is concerned, you will want, at the very least, 10 inches of soil for the roots to reach downwards. And you will want a lot of room around the plant for the roots to reach outwards. Hops want to spread their root system so you’ll want to give them at least a 18 inch radius per hop rhizome when you plant.

To purchase a hop rhizome you can order them from a variety of places online. In my experience one place isn’t better than the other. Just use your best discretion. It should also be noted that you should research into what kind of hop plant you want to buy for a specific hop taste. Different hop varieties have different tastes and a good beer connoisseur can tell the difference. If you just want to get your hands dirty and grow some hops, go with cascades. Hops have very little delineation of physical appearance between varieties so one plant isn’t going to look very different from the other unless you’ve been growing them for a while.

The final thing we have to discuss is when and how deep to plant your rhizome. It would be a smart thing to check with a local plant store to make sure you are planting at the right time. I live in Ohio. The time to plant may be different if you live in Louisiana. Planting your rhizome about 3-4 inches under the top soil would be ideal, or the length of you index finger if you don’t want to use a tape measure. Remember you also need a good 10 inches under the rhizome, so you will want at least 13 inches total of soil.

So let’s recap with the 5 things you must know before planting hops.

  • You will be buying a rhizome, not a seed.

Hops grow from rhizomes or roots. Like bamboo, aspen trees, and hackberry.

  • They will need something to climb on.

Wood trellis will work, but it’s not going to be as effective as good old fashioned binding twine.

  • Once you plant them they will grow back every year.

Hops are perennials, meaning they grow like daffodils or tulips, but they don’t have a bulb, they have a rhizome.

  • Be sure to plant the rhizome at the proper time.

You have to check with your local garden shop to get a good idea when to plant.

  • The rhizome will want to spread out as much as it wants to reach down.

Hops want to spread their rhizomes out to produce new shoots. Be sure to give them plenty of horizontal room to grow as much as vertical depth in the soil.

Best of luck to you in all you endeavors!

Social anxiety in children and what I did about it.

As a child in grade school I was terrified of what other people thought of me. To a certain degree, I still am. There were so many variables and things that could go wrong and I thought every encounter I had with other children must be perfect, because I couldn’t bear the thought of other people not understanding what I was saying or meaning. I would constantly have these dreams that my teeth would fall out or they were rotting out of my skull. Sometimes my tongue would fall out as well, or my whole lower half of my face would be in some horrific accident and I would no longer be able to speak or emote anything. It wasn’t until much later that I learned that those dreams are common among people who have high social anxiety.  The link being that, your mouth and teeth are essential to effective communication. If you dream that you are losing these parts of your body, then you are afraid that these parts of your body are failing you, or are worthless.solo-2051508_640

My teen years, as one could guess, were worse. It’s also when I learned that my mental suffering had a name: ADHD. I was horrible in class and doing homework, but my test taking abilities showed that I knew the subject matter. I was interested in what I was learning, but it was tremendously hard for me to concentrate on a task for school once I got home and got distracted by the million of other things I could be doing. A lot of great advancement has been made in the awareness of this affliction, which makes me over the moon happy. I just wish more people knew about it when I was going to school. mental-1389919_640

Many children who suffer from ADD/ADHD also suffer from depression, and anxiety. It’s called a co-morbidity. It may go without saying that many children suffer from certain social anxieties. They suffer alone, without anybody to connect with.sad-child-1759986_640

It breaks my heart because I know what they are going through. I went through what they are going through. These are smart, loving, wonderful kids whose main fear, in some cruel twist of irony, is being rejected. So I did something about it. I wrote a book!

It was a lot easier than I thought it would be and I am so happy that I have done it. With this book I feel like I can help parents help their children tackle the issue head on. It has huge pictures of cute pets and a cute and funny and most importantly easy story to follow. It is meant to address the issue early on in childhood in the 6 – 10 range. That way parents have a huge amount of lead time to deal with the issue and form healthy coping mechanisms with their child.

My main reason for writing this particular bog is to see what everyone thinks about social anxiety. Maybe some of you guys out there have similar stories that you would like to share. I would love to hear all about them as I am putting together more books on the subject. I plan on having a whole series of books tackling some of the common problems children have today. If you would like to view or buy the book its here

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So please tell me a story about yourself when you were a child and what kind of advice you wished you were given. Or tell me, as a parent, what kind of book you wish was out there that you could go through with your child to teach them something, or help them through a difficulty. Your input is coveted. Thanks for reading.

Destroying gender roles as a father

Your wife or significant other, or baby mamma is expecting. You do a little shopping to prepare. You go to the baby shower to show support and love. You even go to the birthing classes with her, sit there and have pretend contractions with her breathing through them and focusing your center of mind for the big day. You are responsible and you want what is absolute best for your little bundle. You are proud and happy. You are excited and ready for the challenge of parenthood. You feel like there are going to be obstacles in your way, things to learn, but you are ready to face them and overcome them. So, why is it everywhere you look, society is telling you that you are doomed to be this fumbling idiot that doesn’t even know how to put arms through sleeves? On the racks of clothing, accessories like mugs and t-shirts with print on them. They all say that tired old trope: “C’mon daddy you can do this, it’s just a diaper!” “This shirt is daddy-proof” “Me+mommy= one broken daddy!” Why is it everywhere you look, you are confronted with this “monumental challenge” of being a father? Why does Hollywood depict first time dads with such glaring ineptitude? How about we do a little exercise and let the predefined roles play out theoretically. To a woman, motherhood comes naturally. I’ts easy. Cooking and cleaning and wiping butts and kissing boo-boos and putting the baby to sleep. And feeding the baby, washing the baby. Doing the baby’s laundry. Changing the baby’s diapers. To the father, Everything is foreign. He can not be trusted with anything. He is distracted by sports and cigars and other women. Caring for little things is for wusses and sissies. He forgets to feed himself, how could he possibly remember to feed another human being? He is rough and dirty and will most likely harm the child accidentally. Who is this unfair to?  What kind of behavior does this endorse? Where is the truth in this? How do we fix this? Why is it in our society as a whole we try to push the father, and the role of fatherhood in to this caricature of caveman stupidity, while mothers are naturally perfect, caregivers that are totally in tune with what to do, all the time, forever? Have you ever seen my wife when my son chokes on something? I feel like this contributes in a small, yet profound way to gender inequality across a whole, and here is an example: Changing stations in a men’s restroom. What’s the deal? Is it because we just couldn’t be bothered with caring for our children’s cleanliness? Most fathers, at least the ones I know, would gladly change their baby’s diapers. Its part of being a good parent. So why no changing stations in the Men’s restrooms? Does it take a stretch of imagination to ponder why women resent fathers for not changing the baby in the airport?

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At my wife’s baby shower, there were two totally different conversations being had with either of us. If my wife was talking to someone, they were telling her to relax and take things slow, one day at a time. “Let things come natural. When the baby sleeps you can sleep. The baby will tell you what it needs. Don’t be afraid.” If someone was talking to me it was a conversation that was totally different: “Are you ready for this? It’s a big change! Don’t forget to help out the Mrs. It’s stressful, so be prepared. You’re going to do a lot of drinking! Just remember, don’t drop the baby!” It’s as if people forget that first time parenthood happens to both partners. My wife was actually less acquainted with childcare than I was, as I had helped care for my two youngest siblings. I knew what a hungry cry sounded like, what a tired cry sounded like, what a painful cry sounded like. She didn’t, yet everyone, even people that knew me, were so quick to lump me in to this clueless idiot stereotype. I’m not saying that parenthood effects both parties equally, no. The female still has to carry the baby and all that good stuff, making motherhood far more trying and complex. What I’m trying to say is, that once that baby comes out. The learning curve starts, equally.

Fatherhood is tough. Parenthood is tough. You are already thrust into this foreign role of caring for another human’s life. And not just being responsible for their health, education and emotional stability, you are indirectly responsible for the role they play in the world and the impact they have on their community. I mean, we still talk about Hitler’s parents. Should we really continue to harp on the role of fatherhood and depict it pretty much the same false way in our movies and literature?

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Most guys I know, and a couple girls, are great fathers. Wonderful fathers. They are Providing and caring and responsible. Not afraid to learn. Fluid and flexible. Compassionate and resolved. Committed and devoted. They make the best of a situation. They aren’t afraid to play with toys, or get lost in a childhood activity. This is what fatherhood is. Now whats the difference between that and motherhood? (after the childbearing of course). That’s just run of the mill parenthood, and most males and men I know fall in to this role as naturally as can be expected.

According to the direct needs of the child, the pressure to be a good mother is just as strong as the pressure to be good father. We (responsible human beings) don’t need extra antagonizing to remember that when we become parents, there is someone that needs us in a profound way. We all know that Stereotypes hurt. Prejudice hurts. Lately I’ve been quite proud of how humanity, at least in America, president notwithstanding, has tackled inequality and begun a transition into understanding that we are more diverse than we originally thought. Slowly, but surely, stereotypes and prejudice are becoming relics of past generations. Today you can have a vagina and be a tremendously wonderful father. We must put these “stupid dad, inept father, Dad’s only good to go to work and make money” stereotypes in the same box labeled “weak woman, women can’t drive, women don’t make good scientists”. We need to tape it up and store it under the ‘Shit we don’t need in our lives anymore’ category.

 

 

 

‘Reflections in the steel’ Finding things

      This happened a couple months ago at the steel mill. Every part of it is true. I was asked to do one of the millions of things guys like me – roughnecks – are asked to do that showcases the talents and skills that I have learned thus far in life: pick up trash. When you are asked to do a thing in the steel mill like pick up the trash, you start to contemplate your place in life. NOBODY picks up after themselves and people routinely treat the concrete floor and pretty much every surface they see as a trash can until someone like me gets asked to clean it up because, hey, boredom. I got my trash bag ready and gave it the couple of shakes you do to fill the bag with air so it can be ready to accept what ever the hell it is you are going to find up there. Then I began my journey upward. In to the maze of high rise catwalks and corridors. Hot surfaces and imperceptible CO clouds. Zinc dust rain – yes it sometimes showers little bits of cooled zinc that is blown of the strip. Off in to the great dim wonder I went, to find the things nobody gives a shit about. A couple times it was necessary to grope my way along the wall or hold on to gas lines to make sure I didn’t fall 300 feet to my death. On through the hazy dimness of the artificial light. On to the first elevator. Then, through a whole other maze of the mill and on to the second all the way to the top. 19 stories high. It’s up there where it is especially miserable. Heat rises and so does the volume of the voices in my head asking me “What the hell are doing? You are 19 stories in the air picking up a zagnut wrapper from 1985 for money?” On more than one sad occasion I’ve had no answer for them. I just listen and move on and let the thunder of the strip drown out the silence I rebuttal with. Some of the time I can get away with getting a chortle out of myself by changing the voices and what they say. Donald Trump voice: “Daryl is the most fantastic trash picker upper there is, believe me. I’m serious people. Let me tell you. Whenever there is a dirty, disgusting, oily rag that people have overlooked for a decade, Daryl will find it so good and so fast. Its magnificent. Not just rags either people I’m telling the truth. Its great. He does a fantastic job.” Or I’ll do a J.F.K. voice: “I declaihr this job to bee a majah bummah. Not because it is easy, but because – why in the flying hell is there underweahr up heeyah? Jesus people have a little class.” Ugh. The shit I find sometimes makes me ashamed of what I’ve become to be honest. Why couldn’t I have been a marine biologist on a boat somewhere on the sea in the crisp air, or an archaeologist or something adventurous? Or have no job and work freely, living low. The possibilities. How in the hell did I get to this part of life? And why do I feel like I am not where I need to be. The thought that I should be somewhere else doing something else being someone else is so deep and real sometimes I find myself gripping the handrail and looking over the edge through the 100’s of feet of air to the bottom. Not saying I would ever jump or anything like that, no. I’m not being dramatic. I just look out and wonder what is coming next. 30 more years of this? J.F.K. and Trump speak in unison: “Impossible, You’ll go crazy.”
      It was up at the top amid the hazy humid artificial light, my eye caught something unusual, out of place. It looked at first to be another rag, but the texture was all wrong and the color too. As I got closer, gaping the opening of the bag I realized it was an animal. Not just an animal, but a bird! A medium sized bird of some hawk or falcon variety. I told myself I could help it somehow. Get some clean water to it and get it down to the ground level where I could let it go, or if it was in real bad shape maybe I could find a way to get it to a vet. When I got close enough to touch it my hopes were dashed. It was dead. long dead. Maybe a year give or take. Like most of the trash in this place it sat there un-noticed tucked away in a corner. Face down on a stretch of diamond plate. I rolled it over and examined it. Its bones showed through its impeccably kept and still beautifully colored feathers. When I picked it up it was nearly weightless. Around its beak was a smearing of a black liquid I could only assume was oil. Most likely during the process of starvation, it had tried to drink what it thought was water from one of the countless puddles of toxic or carcinogenic fluids this mill routinely leaks. I don’t know weather it was, in a small measure mental illness, or it was the image of the bird lying lifeless in front of me. I just sat there for a good half an hour contemplating the humanity of it all. It probably flew in the bottom through one of the truck doors and flew around for a bit before trying to get out. Through the millennia of evolution its mind most likely told it to go higher and higher still. “When I reach the sky I will be safe.” “I must fly higher.” “I must find a way out.” Little did it know, there is no way out up here. I pondered its death as well. Did it remember a favorite meadow it frequented before it died? Did it yearn for the sun on its back and the wind in its face? Did it panic before accepting its death, or did it die in the manner we as humans envision all wild animals dying. With dignity, bravery and a fearlessness devoid of self pity. However it died it died here without a soul knowing its suffering. How many shifts of people came and went below it not knowing this animal’s struggle to be free. Would it require a grand stretch of imagination to envision this bird flying from one handrail to the next thinking with it’s limited comprehension “I beat my wings against the air, but I am not free. I am not where I should be.”? And then after succumbing to it’s fate, it was not even allowed to return its remains to the earth It lay here suspended from the circle of life and the order of the natural world. That, to me, was the most profane thing about the whole image. It echoed an argument that me and Jessica had about her not wanting to be embalmed. I could see now why she thought returning her nutrients to the earth was so important. It was in this moment I simultaneously connected with this bird and had a grim epiphany. I could be this bird one day. I could fall in a basement or cellar and no one would find me for days. Hell I could have had a heart attack right then and it would be a guaranteed week before anyone would bother to look for me. “I thought he went home.” “Why didn’t he come back to work?” “Is his car in the parking lot? I don’t know What does he drive?” This place is THAT big. It has happened before.
        I then had an almost irresistible urge to bury her. To canonize her. To care for her like i would have had I found her alive. After all this revelation, she was kin. She fought my fight and lost. Realizing burial was an impossibility so far away from soft earth, I carefully put her in the bag. And as I groped my way back down the dark passage, I swore under the cacophonous thunder of the mill, first to her in the bag, and then to myself: I will find a way out.

Breastfeeding, giving up breastfeeding and the role of the dad.

Typically, you’re male. You have no breasts. You have no part in the feeding of the baby until much later. Typically your good lady wife and the baby wind themselves into a tight little relationship that is picture perfect. The baby is fed. Mamma is happy. And dad can cash in on the last few months of person-hood he has until the baby really starts needing two sets of arms and not just eating and sleeping. That’s how things should go. Formula is out of the question, as you both have read countless articles online about the benefits of breastfeeding and skin-on-skin time and bonding with your baby. And you doubtless have read other articles on the horrors of Formula and G.M.O. and David Wolfe and stuff. But what if things don’t go as planned? What if you find out that your wife’s body is just not meant to feed a child no matter how hard she tries? What do you do when after trying for two months your wife looks at you desperately and asks YOU what she should do?

My wife got a cesarean. Everything went great. We learned that if we would have tried a conventional birth it might have given us great difficulty. We were grateful. We were on cloud nine. Our new baby boy was healthy and hit all the hallmarks a baby should. We were set to go home at the prescribed time. The only hurdle that we were trying to get over was breastfeeding. My wife’s supply wasn’t there at all. The nurse assured us that sometimes milk doesn’t come in for a couple days, even a week or longer, that it is quite normal for a cesarean section mother since her body didn’t go through the normal process. This gave my wife instant anxiety. “Why cant I do this?” “Whats wrong with me” “I should be able to do this.” I don’t want to give too much information about my wife, but we will just say that she is not shaped in a way that is conducive to latching. This furthered the anxieties. She actually kept referring to that part of her body as “Broken”. It hurt me to hear her already so aggravated at herself for nothing. Our baby was healthy and fed and loved. In my mind everything was perfect. So we made back up plans to pump and keep trying to latch and we went home. FB_20160414_10_52_00_Saved_Picture

It wasn’t too long after we got home and settled in that I began to think that breastfeeding was not going to be viable. My wife’s milk was in, but our baby still couldn’t latch. Which lead us in to the next den of horror: Mastitis. I had weighed what I had thought beforehand. I had thought about finding breast milk donors and other options before formula. I had thought about the evil of formula and you know what? Feeding my child and making sure that he was full and happy was first and foremost. Everything else, every other care in my life went out the window when I knew that was going to be my safest and most reliable source of food for my child. When it came to tell her, let me tell you, she was not quite on board. So we entered this ongoing argument where she would get terribly upset that she and her body were not performing as nature had intended, I would try and console her and tell her that formula was not such a bad thing if it meant our boy would be fed, which made her upset in thinking that I was giving up, which spun me into the role of standing my ground while trying to be supportive and empathetic. Shakespeare would be green with envy at the drama. It was a nightmare. All of this turmoil had one root cause: The internet.V__3D16

It finally struck me that pretty much all of my wife’s frustration and mine came from trying to overachieve the people on the internet who were actively lying about overachieving. My wife was sobbing daily. I felt helpless. And for what? What were we gaining by continuing this madness? I lived everyday trying to decide if I was doing the right thing still supporting my wife’s choice to breastfeed even though it was driving her insane and making her bedridden ill. It was time to face the music.

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My wife stuck to her guns for a while before she gave in. Jackson was fed. It was more expensive, but it gave us peace of mind, which in those dark hours, was precious gold.

I came to the realization that my main goal wasn’t to make my wife give up. It wasn’t to make my wife see it my way. My goal wasn’t to convince her that my suggestion wasn’t the easy way out. My goal ended up being to show her that ‘internet Julie Andrews’ didn’t have all the answers. It was to show her that our baby and I needed her to be happy and healthy first and foremost. That her well being was sacred to both of us. My goal was to love her and show her that Jackson was going to love her no matter what. If reaching those goals meant that I quit? That I threw in the towel? That I am not a member of the instagram and pintrest parents with their perfect hair, clothes and bone structure? Gladly. With pleasure.

If you are facing this problem at home. Don’t be shy about it. Its common and people go through it all the time. If you’re a guy who doesn’t know how to approach the problem, just approach it with love and understanding. Quitting a thing that you have committed to is hard for some people. Don’t Let it get in the way of the happiness of your family. Our baby boy is a year old now. He’s happy healthy, and he loves his mamma.

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