🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
So Long, Kid 👨👦
Chip & Joanna 🪚
Regular readers of my drivel know that I’m kind of an emotional guy, which is like saying that Jack kind of could have fit on the spacious floating door with Rose in Titanic.
So it should come as no surprise when I say I found myself fighting back tears as Boy The Elder drove down the driveway and back toward Columbia, Missourah, today to start his junior year at Mizzou. BTE has been home most of the summer while interning at a flavor company about 35 minutes away. It was good to have the Core Four back together under one roof, and as I watched him drive away, it hit me how much things in life are changing.
We’ve moved around the country a lot in that boy’s lifetime. He’s lived in Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, Florida, back to Missouri and then to yet another house in Missouri — and he’s only 20 years old. Despite all the crap I’ve gone through with my health and how I acted largely because of it, he’s a really, really good kid. He’s smart, kind, a tremendously hard worker at whatever he does, and, most importantly to me, he’s growing to be a good man. He understands that he needs to walk on the part of the sidewalk closest to the street when he’s with his girlfriend, that he needs to work hard now to enjoy good things later in life, that family matters.
There’s a good shot he’ll be under our roof again next summer, as the place where he interned this year seems to want him to come back next year. Hell, he’s going to be home next weekend; he and I go to an IndyCar race Saturday night. But it’s not the same as when he’s here here.
In the not-to-distant future (cosmically speaking, anyway), he’s likely going to be engaged. His girlfriend is awesome and I cannot wait to welcome her officially as my daughter-in-law. Soon, him being here will be called a visit and not “coming home.” That’s sometimes hard to wrap my head around when I think of the little guy I held on the day he was born as we watched our first sporting event together, the Kentucky Derby.
Change can be hard, even if it’s good.
I could go on forever, but suffice it to say that I’m proud of the kid.
Last night, the Core Four met at Outback steakhouse to celebrate Boy The Younger. I called for the celebration after BTY made the Midwest Rebels baseball team, ending a months-long saga of finding him a squad for him to improve his skills led by people of character and integrity.
His last situation ended rather ugly, to say the least, as his coach threw him off the team when I privately told him not to attempt to steal home with my son when the batter didn’t confirm the “take” sign, as I’d seen happen multiple times that season and that afternoon. To me, my job is to keep my kid safe, and if the coach was going to be that reckless with other kids, well, he wasn’t going to be reckless with mine. Baseballs smashed into faces at close range can hurt people.
In the wake of a private text, the coach pulled my son out of the game in the middle of an inning and threw him off the team, yelling at me and waving his hand and telling me to get out. That is 100%, iron-clad, undeniable fact.
From there, lots of angry words were said, many of them by me, as this supposedly Christian man and supposedly Christian organization acted in very non-Christian ways. Did I say angry, hateful things? Absolutely. I regret there were younger people around who might have heard them. Yet I do not regret standing up for my son and recognize without a shadow of a doubt that nothing angry would have been said had the coach not acted like a petulant child and took his immaturity out on a kid. That, I will never forget and never forgive.
As you can imagine, the entire experience was hard on BTY, though he handled it gracefully and with a maturity beyond his years. I would expect nothing different from him. That’s just how he is.
He then had to go through tryouts for multiple teams simply to do what he loves — play baseball. He did his thing on the field while Wifey Poo and I did ours behind the scenes, researching the leagues and the coaches to do the best we could to ensure nothing like what happened last time happens again. In the Rebels, it sure seems like we’ve found a place that knows what it’s doing, has people who know how to coach and employs actual decent human beings, regardless of their religious affiliation.
And so last night, we celebrated. BTY picked the place. We shared a Bloomin’ Onion (because of course) and downed some steaks. It was good and, to me, it marked the end of an unfortunate ordeal. So we move forward with a new organization and see a bright future in the game for BTY. He loves baseball. He’s an ideal teammate. His new coaches are already seeing that.
I’m happy for the kid.
For years, I believed I wasn’t the most handy guy when it came to fixing things. So bad were attempts early in my marriage to do things around the house that I just stopped trying, much to Wifey Poo’s consternation.
Things began to change last year when we prepared to move from our subdivision out to our Humble Country Home. There was stuff that needed to be done to get our place ready to sell, and my cheapness overcame my lack of self-confidence. In the process, I realized something: I can pretty much do anything, as long as I have Youtube and the right tool.
So in the past year, I’ve installed a kitchen faucet. I’ve put in a smartlock on our front door. I’ve fixed this and repaired that and actually been … handy.
This isn’t just inside the house, either. I’ve figure out ways to jury-rig a gutter downspout so that it actually stays on during heavy rains and doesn’t get blown off, allowing water to pool and flood our basement. I’ve cut down trees and fixed garage fire tape and changed my car oil and a variety of other things.
Today, I finished trimming off branches of a huge cedar tree in our yard. The original plan was to cut the tree down. But after I lopped off the dead and annoying lower branches — and cut down the five full-sized trees hiding underneath — well, the result is that we’ll actually have a great outdoor shady sitting spot, once all the crap underneath is cleaned up.
But I wasn’t done. Wifey Poo has been hankerin’ to redo our kitchen pantry to provide more shelf space. That was on our agenda for today. She came up with a great idea to use the existing shelving in new ways to create a boatload more storage space. All I had to do was trim up some of the shelves. Again, cheapness emboldens me.
So I tested out my circular saw on some old wood to make sure I could cut precise straight lines, Wifey Poo set up the sawhorses, we found some of my father-in-law’s old C-clamps, and 20 minutes later, we had two precisely cut shelves ready to be repurposed.
Wifey Poo said that it made her feel like we were Chip and Joanna Gaines. I’m not quite sure who those two folks are, but I know they mean something to her, and I know it means something even more to her to see that she has a husband who now believes in himself when it comes to this stuff.
Smart businesses allow data to guide their marketing. The ability to do this is relatively new and likely not to last too much longer. A firehose stream of information is available on a company’s marketing campaign performance, its customers and its potential customers. That stream is so strong that there’s a movement afoot to create…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Wifey Poo and I are seeing Where the Crawdads Sing today.
- I can’t wait to create the new outdoor sitting spot.
- I can’t wait even more to watch BTY play baseball for a real team.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Oil Change 👨🔧Goose Lover🛦Church & State⛪ Based on my history, the last place anyone should ever look for me is underneath a car. Yet that’s where I found myself late this morning, side-by-side with Boy The Elder as he showed me exactly how stupid I’ve been all my life. I’m not…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Media Bias 📰Rudy’s Sandals 🩴Lack of Faith ⚖️ I’ve watched with interest the blowback against newspaper tyrant Gannett following its reminder to its journalists in the wake of the Supreme Court’s undoing of Roe v. Wade that they are not to take sides on social media. “You cannot use social media…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Censorship 🍈🍈Newspaper Talk 📰Toothbrush 🦷 I did my first actual “work” thing at my new job yesterday. The first two-plus days have been filled with meeting new people and learning about the kazillion awesome products we sell so I can talk somewhat intelligently about what we do. But then Nu Bossman…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hitler Talk ⚖️Chicken Postscript 🐣Green Seats ⚾ I wonder when the average German in the 1930s/1940s said something akin to “Oh shit.” There has to be a point when the rational, sane sauerkraut-lover realized that perhaps his or her vote for a certain mustachioed politician was a really bad idea. For…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Take Me Away🛀Period Tracker🩸Choose Wisely💒 Arriving for the first day at a new job is kind of like showing up in a new town after throwing away your old identity. It’s a blank slate, and you can be anyone you’d like to be. Want to go by a different name? Go…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Racist Billboard🐲Roe Silence😶Guest Bulldog🐶 Driving out of rural northern Arkansas today to return home after several days in a cabin in the boonies, I passed a billboard that was startling, to say the least. It starts off innocently enough with a very true statement: “It’s not racist to 💗 people.” I…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Uranus Sleeper🔭Cabin Rules🩲Taco Seasoning🌮 What does Cuba, Uranus, Sleeper, Doolittle and a billboard saying “If we don’t return to 2 Chronicles, than were finished” have in common? They all were on the route from my Humble Rural Missourah Home to the cabin in the boonies of Arkansas that is my home…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Check Engine 🚗Declined 🥡Murder Suspect 🔪 Every once in awhile, life throws you a pleasant surprise that seems to even the score a bit. Wifey Poo’s car is up for an emissions inspection this year. Her “check engine” light has been going on and off for a year or so, and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩River Thoughts 🛶Little Annoyances 😠Birthday Boy 🎂 I didn’t know what a float trip was until I met Wifey Poo. I’m not even sure today that the term “float trip” is used outside Missourah. But if you’re a Missourahn, when someone says, “Wanna go on a float trip?” you know a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩My Boys 👨👦👦Work Drinking🥃Feeling Good 😎 I’ve understood since seventh-grade science class how a child is a somewhat random and yet somewhat traceable mish-mash of his parents and their parents and their parents ad infinitum. It’s so cool to see that play out with my own boys. Boy The Elder is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Stinger 🦂Inflation 🎈Housing Costs 🏘️ There’s something quite amazing about witnessing a human dinosaur be thrown through a stack of four tables. That was just one of the scenes from last night as Boys The Elder & Younger and I attended AEW Dynamite and Rampage. The biggest news from the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shitty Goodbye 💩Bald Is Beautiful 👨🦲Housing Market 🏘️ It’s official: My duty ensuring the continued breathing of roughly 20 chickens for Wifey Poo’s and Boy The Younger’s vacationing friends is over. Success! All birds were present and accounted for this morning, as I said goodbye to my new friends — Gertrude,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩CrytpoStupidity ₿Coffee Seltzer ☕Chicken Update🐓 I like to make fun of Matt Damon. I know this comes from a place of deep-seated insecurity because Matt Damon is, well, Matt Damon and I am not. Yet it’s fun to make fun of Matt Damon, precisely because he is Matt Damon — all…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Meatloaf🦎Ugly Fish🐟Chicken Update🐓 You can buy insurance for many things. Your car. Your home. Your boat. Your health. Your eyes, teeth or brain (which, for some reason, is separate from your health). And now, according to a Missourah court, you can buy insurance that pays you if you contract a sexually…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Kentucky Fried Idiot 🍗Johnny Boy Marketing✏️Airplanes!🛦🛦🛦🛦🛦 There’s a scene in the 1979 film Rocky II in which the titular character (sorry, I’ve always wanted to write that …) is tasked by his trainer Mickey with chasing a chicken. Rocky was pummeled into oblivion — though somehow managed to eek out a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Rogue Golfers 🐝Nay Voters🐟Chicken Day🥤 Golfers are known as being a genial sort. Whereas a basketball player could maul an opponent driving the lane, leaving him bloody and unconscious, and still complain about the foul called on him, golfers actually call fouls on themselves! Yet the world of professional golf is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bees Suck 🐝Bees As Fish🐟Cup O’ Pee🥤 I hate bees. Yes, I know they’re somehow the lynchpin on which our species’ survival will turn, but seriously, if we’re so fragile that we’re depending on a stinging invertebrate to keep us going, well, perhaps we’re not really so special after all. My…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Poultry Responsibilities 🐔Fine Dining🥩Crappy Year For Music🎵 I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a marketing guy, a storyteller, a jokester, a damn good parallel parker and a guy who played on a basketball team that lost 135-3. What I am not is a farmer. I left my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩NASCAR President ₿Creepy Coffee☕Chef BTE 🍖 We all know that just about every politician at any level is, in some way, bought and paid for, right? I mean, perhaps your local school board representative isn’t (though she might be owned by her kid), but when you reach the state and national…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dessert, Not Desert 🍨Happy Belated Birthday, McLovin 🎁Men Kissing 🏳️🌈 I started out my career in the news business and quickly learned that people suck. I mean, back in the mid-1990s, the internet was just becoming a thing — we even capitalized it … Internet … and wrote “e-mail” instead of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩New Job🧑💼Happy Times🤗Small World ⚾ Buckle up. It’s story time. Today I made a reservation for Ruth’s Chris steakhouse on Sunday for me, Wifey Poo and Boys The Elder and Younger. The Core Four is getting dressed up. Keep in mind, we are not Ruth’s Chris people. It’s not that we…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Pants on the Ground👖Pimp Slap✋Pissin’ in the Wind🌬️ I had occasion to wear a suit yesterday. This was notable because I evidently hadn’t worn said suit in about a year. Over those 365 days, I’ve lost roughly 30 pounds. Thus, I showed up to the engagement necessitating a suit looking like…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chainsaws Suck🪓Early Arrival✈️Shrimp on the Barbie🦐 I awoke bright and early this morning, kissed Wifey Poo on the forehead and went outside ready to put chainsaw to felled tree. I live far enough out in the country that crankin’ up a chainsaw at 6:30 a.m. on a holiday morning isn’t a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Racin’🏎️Heat☀️Gorilla Guy🦍 When I was a small boy, the Indianapolis 500 was must-see TV. I’m not sure exactly how it started, but it must have been around 1978 — when I was a 4-year-old boy who loved Matchbox cars and big wrecks. It was around that time that Pops brought home…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩My Fullback 🚑Sicky Poo 🤒Helium Shortage 🎈 I don’t get paid anywhere close to enough to deal with St. Louis traffic when it rains. Not that St. Louis drivers are uniquely bad. I would imagine large swaths of drivers in other cities react just as poorly to the presence of moisture…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Taking Toys Away 🔫Checked Out ✈️Windsurfing Kid 🌬️ Many moons ago, I had a toy rubber snake. That my parents would have allowed such a purchase is shocking, given that Mother Dearest was terrified of anything remotely reptilian and Sister wasn’t that far behind. Yet there, in the depths of my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shut Up🤫Waffle House 🧇Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes🤗 So here’s something I don’t quite understand: Why is anyone, especially our political leaders, expressing “shock” over what happened in Texas yesterday. Dude … the sun rose yesterday. The sun has risen every single freaking day for the course of humanity. The sun will rise tomorrow. That’s…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Subway Obsession😞Guard Dog 🐶Chainsaw John🪓 Every child is peculiar in his or her own way. It’s an early indication we all should recognize that none of us is normal. We’re all weird. And that’s OK. Boy The Younger has always had his peculiarities. As a small child, he was fascinated with…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Musical History🎹Why Write? 🖊️Loser Level😔 We finally have only one piano in our house! Now, don’t get to thinking we’re this uber-musical family. We’re not. Wifey Poo, from what I hear, was a helluva clarinetist back in her day and did, indeed, take piano lessons. Boy The Elder is really good…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beyond Tired😫Busting Ass 🐝Covid Sadness😔 Everything is knowable. When I look back at the pace of change in my life, I think that’s the biggest difference between my life as a child and my life as an adult. Back then, if you wondered something, you just … wondered it. I mean,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sad Anniversary😞My Back! 😳Dachau😭 Thirty-five years ago today, my first grandparent died. Grandpa was my favorite grandparent, and in looking back, I think it was because of his willingness to join my world. Grandpa played games with me endlessly. He taught me how to play rummy. He would spend hours on…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bye-Bye BTE✈️Rival Riot Rumble 🤼♂️Old Man John🤕 In a few hours, Boy The Elder will board a plane headed for Germany. He just completed his sophomore year at Mizzou, and now he’s going overseas for a two-week study-abroad session in which he’ll allegedly learn more about food science and fermentation and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Double-U🧸Big Sis 🦸♀️Preggo Healer 🤰 Anyone remember Speak & Spell? If you’ve seen E.T., you’ve seen it before. Don’t know why, but I was thinking about this toy the other day. For some reason, spelling wasn’t school if you had one of these things to play with. I can still hear…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Heat Wave🥵Lawn Mowing🚜Last Podcast 🎙️ It’s hotter than balls outside in my section of Missourah, and I’m not happy about it. I am not a hot-weather person. I hate heat. I sweat easily. I turn red even easier. Having a bald head does not match well with sun exposure. And has…Keep reading