Happy birthday, dad!

Sixty-nine years ago today, my father was born somewhere in Liverpool, England during the middle of World War II. His father was somewhere in Italy and his mother was left alone. He was an only child, though a sister would be born ten years later.

I wasn't able to go and see him and my mother today. Frankly, I'd sort of blanked out that Memorial Day and his birthday coincided this year. Instead, I took a day to work around the house and basically relax. It had been a long time since I'd had two days off in a row.

But, I was wrong not to try to go and see him. My dad is a very important person and perhaps the biggest influence on who I am today. I grew up idolizing him and wanting to be him. I think I've learned a lot of lessons about self-reliance and self-confidence from him.

He and my mother moved over to the United States when they were in their early 20's. They first moved to Canada, but went south because my dad was lured by the prospect of big roads and unlimited potential.

When I ask him, he tells me he left England because there was no opportunity for him there in the early 1960's. Even though the Beatles were rising to stardom, Liverpool was in the middle of a rapid decay. The shipping industry was changing fast, and my dad didn't think he was going to advance very far. He also thought his Scouse accent would hurt him if he were to move south like so many people were trying to do.

My uncle, for instance, had emigrated to Scotland. My dad wanted to follow suit and examined possibilities in Australia, New Zealand but my mother insisted she would only go as far as North America.

Almost five decades later, he's a confirmed American who has contributed much to society. At one point, he owned a factory that employed nearly two hundred people in Campbell County. I earned a lot of pocket money working for him beginning from the age of 12. On that birthday, he had taken a leap of faith and decided to go into business for himself.

He's a very inspirational man, and I've learned a lot from him. I will make sure I go and see him soon. I guess I sort of know that I'll be seeing a lot of him due to the World Cup in a few short weeks. I wish there was some way I could let him know how much I appreciate him and all he's done for me over the years. I owe so much to him. I wanted to write this to publicly thank him for everything. 

We don't always see eye to eye on everything, but I always respect his opinion even when I believe he's wrong. We debate a lot about politics, though my mother always tries to put a stop to that as soon as it starts.

He's a fantastic grandfather who my three idolize, as have my sister's two kids and my brother's three kids.

I do wish he could retire, though. I'd love for him to get the chance to channel all of his creative energy into something fun for him. He's a funny man, good with song, and always has an interesting story to tell. I'd love to interview him. I'd love to set him up with a blog. I'd love to make music with him. He's my dad and I'm part him and I guess I just wanted to say that, even if I wasn't with him today.

Now I have to make plans to see him as soon as I can. 


Taking stock at the end of May

Working at a slow pace has its advantages. I'm typing this while making an hourly wage at Court Square Tavern, and I'm tinkering on my website, the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. There are only seven customers in here, and I have a feeling that may be about it. It's a holiday weekend, and the last weekend of the month.

I've not really marked the occasion of my site's fifth anniversary. In good news, this week I did meet with the folks behind Secretly Y'all and am now hosting podcasts of their stories.  That is much more in line with the reasons for creating the site way back in 2005. I wanted to create a community resource.

And, that's what the site has become, even though I've put very little effort into it since joining Charlottesville Tomorrow. That's where my energy goes these days, and I so rarely do anything to maintain the site. Yet, the audio keeps getting posted, and I'm hoping I'll be inspired my new friends to create some things once more.

I feel that I need to make new connections with the world. Everything I do, for instance, seems to begin with C. What would it be like to have an employee that begins with a different consonant. What if I decided to really wanted to live by working for a vowel?

It's been three years now since I've produced anything for the radio. These days, I write print and post work to our blog. And then I go to work and serve people beer. Tonight I'm all by myself here, using the slow time to delete categories from the site. I also created a new image header for the top.

I live such an exciting life.

There are so many projects I want to work on. I want to play guitar with people and see what happens. I want to get back to recording more interviews, and playing with sound. I want to write fiction. I want to create music. I want to plant gardens so I see the infinite beauty within. I want to help things get better.

Now I have to get back to work. There are dishes that have to be cleaned. I have to clean this place up. Tomorrow begins the first real weekend I've had in a while, with two days and two nights off in a row. The other day I heard a woman telling a man parked outside Forest Hills Park explaining that she needed a vacation to get her mind clear. I believe that's almost certainly exactly how I am at this moment as I type these words into a little box in the hopes of making sense at the end of May.


Finding a focus

I need a plan.

I find myself saying this a lot now, which is odd, because up until this point I've more or less winged it. This was not necessarily the best way to lead my life, and certainly left me prone to being blindsided from time to time, sometimes with disastrous results.

I did not mean to start this whole running thing, and these days there's a war of sorts inside myself as sloth and ambition seem to be campaigning for the time that has gone to running for the past year and a half. I must make sure they don't win.

These days, I pretty much just get there and run when I can. I don't have a particular race lined up for the fall, but I need to select one now and begin seriously training for it. My number one goal this year is to run at least one marathon, preferably under four hours.

Last night, I ran 11 miles in under 90 minutes, so I may be on track for that still. My fitness is pretty high, and I am getting much better about knowing how to regulate my body. I know if I feel exhausted, all I have to do is slow down a bit and my energy level goes back up. I keep trying to push my limits, and when I'm spent, I'm comforted in knowing my body can recover while still in motion.

But these little lessons need a plan, or I may find myself losing interest.

While writing this post, I've decided to run a race this Sunday in Louisa County. That's my plan, and I'm sticking to it. My goal is to hit as many little milestones as I can, do the best I can, and try to be prepared for anything.


Seedlings bracing for the cold

Tonight, there is a pink sheet and a beige sheet covering the fledgling plants in my garden. I've slowly been transferring the tomato and squash  seedlings to a patch of ground out behind my house. The weather forecast is for frost and I don't want all of my work to go to waste.

My kitchen table is occupied with eggplant seedlings that finally graduated from starter tray to container this afternoon. I have completed the first round of my garden.

The end of that transition was celebrated yesterday afternoon when Katie made me a cappicola and tomato sandwich with my basil from my own garden. I harvested about ten pieces, and none of the plants seem worse for the experience.

Gardening appears to be the running of 2010. Last year, I transformed myself by learning how to run, and I'm still learning what I need to do to get better.

This year, I'm enjoying the challenge of exploring solitude by paying close attention to little creatures that I chose to bring into the world by preparing places for seeds to sprout. For the past six weeks, I've been captivated by the seedlings I first planted on my kitchen table, but have slowly moved outside.

I will confess at the top. I have no idea what I'm doing. So far, most of the peppers I've tried to transplant outside have met with a sad, sad fate. They had looked so healthy in little containers I'd purchased.

And tonight, I am hopeful that I've at least given the tomatoes some chance at survival by creating a little fort for them. In a bit, I have to go figure out what I'm going to do for the four squash plants that are still alive. Of course, one of those is hanging on a thread.

The ones in my living room are perfectly happy, of course.

What I'm finding is a real interest in how plants grow. How do they work? What's going on that makes these delicate creatures thrive if given the right environment? Why am I risking sneezes to delve into the garden with such aplomb, despite the pollen that pervades near everything?

Similar to running, gardening is about preparing for another day. Despite having partaken of the basil, there's a lot of nurturing that has to take place before I can have a meal with the fruit of my labor.

But that's not the point.

The point is to simply enjoy my life. Until now, I have despised yard work. Now I'm looking around wondering how I can make my garden look good, and be somewhat functional.

My second round of seeds shall include lettuce, cilantro, chives and cucumber. I don't know if any of this will come to pass. But, I am truly enjoying the glory of this earth by spending several hours a week trying to transform soil, light and water into green shoots of beauty and majesty. Another hobby that reminds me of how absolutely fantastic it is to be alive.