I planned on turning some notes into posts today, but that is not what happened. Instead, I let my fingertips just work magic on the keyboard.
It’s been a while since I sat down and actually put a post together from my notes. I’ve been writing consistently in my notebooks, working on a bunch of different ideas and content. I’ve toyed around with shorter posts concerning random thoughts, stories and workouts (which you can read on the website). I took a small hiatus to restore the creative juices; I was beginning to get bogged down in the routine of creating. Since it’s a one-man show right now, having to come up with constant ideas was becoming a burden. I don’t want it to be at this point. I have enough to-dos with my family and working for the man. I want to get to a point where I have more time to devote to this endeavor, but it will be few more years before that becomes a reality.
I’ve been in Japan for 3 months now, while the family has been back in Virginia. The wife and I received some awesome news the other day; we will be able to live together here in Japan! Since we are a blended family, there were certain civil matters that needed to be addressed. While we planned on flying over as a family, our court case kept getting continued for various reasons. We lost our initial hearing (once it actually happened) and the appeal didn’t happen until this past week. We won. All of our money and effort finally paid off. When I left for Japan a few months ago, we didn’t know when the family would be back together. Was it going to be me flying home to visit, or them flying our here to live? To say is was a stressful situation would be an understatement. With my job, being away from the family comes with the territory. It was the unknown outcome of the court case that caused the most stress and heartache. I don’t wish this situation on anyone.
While being away, I have enjoyed the random videos I get of my kids. I watched my son smack his dome piece in his teepee and get back up like it was no big deal. My daughter got involved in gymnastics and is becoming quite the young lady (even though she is 4). I’ll be flying back to pick them up in about a month, and I can’t wait. There is still plenty to do, but we now know what direction to go. We have been sitting in a holding pattern waiting for the green light to land. My wife has been doing a hell of a job holding it down since I have been gone. Being able to facetime and talk daily has been a huge help. Both Kash and Lincoln enjoy when my face pops up on the TV (Isn’t technology is awesome?). Sometimes when I call, Hot Rod would get a hold of the phone and run off to hide, not wanting to share. If I had a weaker stomach, the motion sickness from his phone handling would have been terrible. He also enjoyed hitting the red button to end the call (future marine?). When I would talk to Kash, we came up with way to keep mom on her toes. The sandwich maker was not amused at times and used my full name a few times. 6,000 miles doesn’t really make a difference when your wife uses your full name. It still has the same effect.
The unknown can be a bitch. It’s something that is out of your control and you have to learn how to work with it. Plans can be made and executed, but it’s never a guarantee you will get the outcome you desire. We wanted to come to Japan as a family last year. We couldn’t, and we had to figure out how live not knowing when we would be back under the same roof. Sure, there are always things you learn that could have been done better, but beating yourself up over them doesn’t help. Looking back at this whole situation, I could have done some different things and maybe avoided some of this. Who knows? Hindsight is 20/20. All you can do is keep going and look to the goal. Shake off the missteps, press on, and adapt. If you have a hard time adapting, life will chew you up, spit you out and feed you to her chicks. 2017 was a rollercoaster of emotion for our family and we came out on top. While I would like life to slow down a bit, it’s still ramping up. The man has me working hard, the oldest will be starting school, and we will be living in a new country. It’s going to be awesome.
There are only a few things one needs for a garden. Some plants, lawn gnome, and a pink flamingo. When the wife and I got married, we bought this at our local big box store. While our garden was mostly dirt and weeds, the flamingo really brought it all together. It distracted from the ugly yucca plant and my wife’s lack of a green thumb (I still love you babe). It has survived hurricanes, punk ass kids, and relocation during flower bed renovations. It will be the one yard decoration we will carry through life until we settle at our forever home. This one is for you Pink Flamingo.
I took the wife shooting a couple of weekends ago. It was her first time shooting a gun. While she was a little hesitant, she took instruction well and I was pleased with how she handled herself. She didn’t particularly like my gun, it isn’t sandwich size. I think when we get back into the U.S. we will get her one that’s easier to handle. I also worked my first shift as a waiter/bus boy at the 619 Cantina with my wife. I had a good time with all the hustle and bustle. In High School, I worked as a pizza delivery boy at Romano’s Pizza, but waiting was a different animal. The whole weekend was a rough one. It started off with a surprise (see below) and ended with the loss of the Bearded Lady. She was our king hen for a while, until she was dethroned by one of the black ones (they don’t have call signs). I was doing a count today and noticed she wasn’t around. I had left the coop open this past week, to let the ladies stretch their wings. Don’t know what happened to her exactly, but I didn’t find a body. She either ran off with Juan from down the street or was the victim of a hawk. The hard part will be telling Kash about it when she gets back from her dad’s house. It was probably her favorite chicken to wrangle up and carry around. Either way, the chickens will have a new home in a couple of months because of some big news that I am sharing with you today.
It’s official, the Clemens Clan is headed to Japan. The man has decided it’s in his best interest to send us there. We found out in January, but it wasn’t until now that we were sure of the move. It should be a fun one. I’ll mostly be working, but the wife and kids should have a blast exploring the area. This will be the first time in 11 years I have moved. I have been in the Hampton Roads area since 2006 and have about a month left. The Sandwich Maker and kiddos were born and raised here. We have already begun the prep to make the trip, like getting passports, coordinating what we want to get rid of, and making preps to get the house rented out. The house has been the biggest hurdle. While most of the work is simple, there have been a couple “oh shit” moments when diving into the work. This past Friday provided the biggest one yet.
The wife was prepping the back bedroom for paint. For a little history, the back bedroom was the room we always talked about renovating, but it always seemed to invite storage stuff instead. It doesn’t have carpet but does have a hole in the wall. Wasn’t going to be a big deal, the wife enjoyed using the joint compound to fill holes. She came to one hole that needed a patch kit. The kit she bought wasn’t working so she asked me to look at it. I felt the wall and was able to push it in with my fingers. I decided to make the hole bigger and clear away the suspect drywall (or plaster). I was going to use a piece of drywall I had left over to make a patch. I began to tear away at the wall, following the weak spots. I removed a good chunk of the drywall and thought I was good to go. I then looked above the window and noticed a bubble in the paint and began to investigate. Slowly I began to tear into the wall and noticed that I was meeting the hole I had started at the bottom. It was apparent at this point that I had some serious water damage. I continued to dismantle the drywall until I had found zero signs of damage. I had busted up about a third of the back wall, including the window (the window is an old cast iron counter weight system and had rotted a little bit). We were both in shock. It was apparent that this had been going on for some time. We called our siding guy (who also does windows) to come and check the size for a new window. He swung by and grabbed the measurements. He has been a big help for us knocking out some of the “to-dos” on our list.
Since the wall wasn’t going to get fixed this weekend, we emptied the room closed the door. There was another pressing another job to tackle, knocking down a useless chimney that had caused its own water damage in the laundry room. It had been in the work queue for a few weeks. The weather had not been cooperating. Finally, I had about 5 sunny days in a row, which was plenty of time to knock out the chimney and repair the wall. I had already reinforced the indie with some help from a buddy. Framing is new to me, so I needed some guidance. I tend to learn better by watching, then doing (that’s when I really learn how to do it). The chimney came down fairly easily. There was a point when I had to kick the shit out of it on the roof because the flashing (which is where the water seemed to be getting in) wasn’t playing nice. I finished in the late afternoon/early evening. There is now a huge mess of bricks behind the house that I am hoping someone wants to come pick up.
I still have plenty of projects to knock out and limited time. Most of them are small “after work gigs”, but the walls will take a little more thought and effort. Even with all the grief this house has caused me (I’ll tell the story of how the bathroom remodel started another day), I am going to miss this place. I am comfortable here. But it’s time for a new adventure, and the family and I are looking forward to it.
Do work, be rad
Note: Since I wrote this post and sent it to my new editor who works for weekly calls and Factiming (Is this a real word yet?) with her grandkids; I have finish tearing down the rest of the wall where the chimney was. A friend came by and we spent yesterday (Monday) ripping it down, inhaling soot from the chimney rubble and installing some plywood.
This trip snuck up on us. We had planned it a couple months out, and next thing you know it was here. I almost wanted to break this story into two parts, but then I stopped being a little girl and finished it. I become impatient when I write sometimes, especially when my message or story in my head gets ahead of my notes. I know how I want it to end, and sometimes rush to get there. I am listening to Childish Gambino (Camp), drinking a Cattywompus (it’s a fancy IPA by Devils Backbone), and Hot Rod is in his high chair eating some cheerios next to me. Kash was a party pooper (she felt a little under the weather this evening) and fell asleep watching Zootopia on the couch.
I began finalizing this on Memorial Day. I have found the best way for me to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, is to no let their death be in vain. Celebrate them, raise a glass, and continue to live your life. Enjoy the freedoms you have, but never forget those men and women who have died defending those freedoms.
It was 430 AM on Saturday morning. The sandwich maker and I rolled out of bed and drug our ass’s downstairs to get ready for our mini road trip. I immediately went for a quick shot of strike force and took a shower. We quickly loaded up the jeep (we forgot the watermelon) and started on our short journey to Krissi’s great-grandmothers house. The kids had spent the night with Maw-Maw, and rode with her for the duration of our trip. For the record, Krissi’s mother is a lunatic and in denial. And no, we are not talking about the river in Egypt. But, we love her anyway. She is a great Maw-Maw and is always down to take the kids off our hands. The kiddos love here and Gran-daddy (probably because of the brownies the eat over there, ha). We wouldn’t trade them for the world. It gave Krissi and I some adventure time without the kiddos. The drive up was relatively quiet, minus some a-hole driving dangerously around some 18-wheelers. We stopped for gas in Crozet, VA and had a quick bite at Legacy Markets. This ended up being the best gas station ever. Made to order breakfast, walk in beer cooler, and an upstairs patio to enjoy the view. The breakfast burrito I had was delicious and so was the coffee (if you are ever traveling on 64 near there, check it out). We hopped back onto the highway and continued on towards Natural Bridge State Park (we were stopping the before going to grandma’s). We met up with Maw-Maw at the Pink Cadillac Diner for some more breakfast. Another neat joint. It was very 50’s-esque and the building was, wait for it…… pink. There was a small wait, enough to make Hot Rod antsy and fussy. He had been satisfied through the trip thus far, but he was itching to move around. He attempted to eat most everything he could get his hands on, but soon discovered how some things aren’t that tasty. Once we sat down, it took both Krissi and I to keep Hot Rod from tearing down the building. Kash was focused on eating her food and “brought her manners,” as she says. Lincoln figured out he could stand in the restaurant high chair (it didn’t have straps) and would attempt to grab anything but his food. He somehow was able to snatch a piece of toast off Krissi’s plate (he really just caught a moment when Krissi and I weren’t watching him). Once he had that toast, he was content. He propped his foot up and chowed down. We wrapped up breakfast and finished our trek to the natural bridge.
The Natural Bridge was amazing. Words and pictures will not be able to capture it’s size and glory. As you walked underneath, it would rain on you and there were plenty of smalls streams along the trails. We were able to borrow a toddler carrier for Lincoln and we used the Boba for Kash. The toddler carrier was perfect. It was easy to get him comfortable and simple to adjust for comfort. It was rad listening to Lincoln baby talk his way throughout the hike. I would occasionally use my phone to see how he was doing (I later discovered a small mirror attached to it, after the fact) and record his monologues. He would play with my hat and want to touch the surrounding nature. The layout of the trail followed Cedar Creek, a tributary of the James River. Along the trail was a living history camp set up. It was of the Monacan Indians, and it had a few hut’s, frontiersman trading post and live cooking demonstrations. One lady was building a new hut, tying together the timber used to build the bones of it. We continued on along the trail to a creek crossing. I took advantage of a sweet bench by the bank to put Hot Rod down for a few minutes. Kash saw a bunch of snakes and of course wanted to pick them up. They weren’t deadly and seemed used to the traffic, they didn’t flinch at all when you got close to them. The trail doubled back from that point, continuing along a limestone wall on one side and the creek on the other. It was a fairly straight shot from there until the end. I gave Lincoln the opportunity to touch the rocks, and of course he tried to eat them. Once we made it to the end (or turn around point), we sat down and took some obligatory family pictures where the kids weren’t looking and I have the same smile in all of them. Both kids were tired at this point. Kash didn’t know if she wanted to ride in the Boba or walk and Lincoln was upset when he couldn’t touch anything. As we headed back, Lincoln fell asleep. Kash pressed on, enjoying the ride on Krissi’s back. We passed by all the attractions we had seen before, but once again slowed down and took in the sight of the bridge. It still hadn’t lost any amazement. The real kicker in the trail is climb up the stairs you walked down in the beginning. And it’s a steep climb. My legs were burning at the end. We loaded back up in the vehicles and made our way to grandmas’.
We didn’t initially realize it, but we had driven past her (grandma’s) house and hour before we arrived at the Natural Bridge. So, on our way there, Krissi and I broke off to go check out Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company.
Devil’s Backbone makes one of my favorite beers, the Vienna Lager. It’s a go-to beer for me. Their other brews are delicious, but not as common as the lager. We pulled into the parking lot, and immediately became excited to see where the magic happens. The crowd was small, as they had just opened. The tasting room was smaller than expected, but the assortment of beers was great (as it should have been). We went super-touristy and grabbed a flight (for those who don’t know what that is, it’s a sample of X number of beers to see which ones you like). There were fancy beers and down to earth beers, all were delicious. At the brewery is where I began to jot down my notes for this post. Once we were finished, we grabbed a case of beer (for $20, I might add) and set out for our destination. We finally arrived at g-ma’s house.
We took a load off and Krissi’s brother gave me a tour of the place. There is a lot of history in that house. From the foundation (it was literally built on a rock) to the pictures of relatives from the late 1800’s.
We checked out the shed’s and garages and found some neat (in my opinion) stuff. There were some old woodworking hand tools, an early model chainsaw, and a dead snake. Grandma showed me her porcelain doll collection and some of the tools needed to make them from scratch. Later on, in the evening, Krissi and I went out to dinner in Harrisonburg.
One of her friend’s son goes to JMU and works at a local joint in town. We had some food and drinks and made our way back to the house. By the time we got back, everyone was asleep. It was like being an adolescent again, sneaking through the creaking house hoping not to wake anyone.
The next morning, we held a small surprise breakfast birthday party for Krissi’s great-grandmother. All of the aunts and uncles on Krissi’s mom’s side of the family showed up with some food and conversation. I cooked the bacon and Krissi coordinated the rest. The whole family crammed into the tiny kitchen to sing her a happy birthday. Once the cake had been dispersed and reminiscing had quieted, the crowd began to filter out. Kash was outside with her cousin, attempting to bust open a geode we bought at the natural bridge. Krissi used a pick axe to break it open finally. Hot Rod had some fun with all of the relatives and crashed out in his pack-and-play. Around noon, Krissi and I loaded up the Jeep and headed home. We hit fog early on and stopped in at one of the scenic views to check it out. It was smooth sailing until we hit Ft. Eustis. Typical fender bender causing a ridiculous amount of traffic. Once we got home, we unpacked, showered and relaxed until the kiddos arrived. It was good to have them home. Kids went into the tub and then it was movie time. We all crashed early that night. All the fun and adventure of the weekend had finally taken its toll.