Thursday, December 08, 2005

10 Months of Melody

Oh yeah, we put up selected pictures from the last ten months of Melody's life this past weekend.

Check out how adorable our little daughter is!

Even when things aren't so great, they're pretty good.

He Works Hard For The Money

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted to this blog. That’s because not much has changed over the past two months. I continue to look for fulltime work and we continue to stay with Lori’s parents. It’s not an ideal situation but it is what it is and there’s little I can do about it until I find fulltime permanent employment as an Art Director, Web Designer or Senior Graphic Designer.

There have been some nibbles though. I’ve interviewed a few times and I even thought I had one or two positions sewn up… and I’m waiting to hear back from at least one more. I’m praying for that to come through. But pickins are lean. I don’t know if it’s the holidays or if potential employers don’t know what to make of me (since I’m equal parts print designer and equal parts web designer).

In the meantime, I’ve signed up with an agency called Creative Focus. They send me out on occasional onsite freelance jobs. I’ve worked a few assignments for them over the course of the past two months, most notably the work I’m doing at The Designory in Downtown Long Beach. Today I got my own parking card and I’m now listed in the employee directory as Freelance Computer Production Artist.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

But I’m not above production work. I almost always end up doing most of my own production anyway so it’s no big deal. And it does bring home the bacon. At least some of the bacon. It’s not permanent though. This time out, it’s for a two week stint in their interactive department.

So, in my spare time, I continue to look for fulltime permanent employment. Which means, my future employer is presumably looking for me.

I sure wish he or she would hurry up.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Here We Are

Well here we are.

Sunny California.

Long Beach.

Or as Lori would say, "Home."

I must say that I share her sentiments on some level. I liked Colorado but there is something nostalgic about coming home.

The grave stone is in at my dad's grave site. It looks about right. Wish it were someone else's name on it though.

So we've been here for about a week now and we've had something to do every day... opening a new bank account, unloading the truck into the storage unit, researching neighborhoods, picking up Disneyland passes. Well, some things are more important than others. You judge. Not to mention looking for work, which is the prerequisite for getting a house or apartment. It's my highest priority. I must have applied for thirty different positions now through, and

So here we are.

We're sharing Lori's parents house for the time being, which isn't as unpleasant as it could be. Thankfully, we all get along. But I've been on my own for a long time, so it's quite an adjustment.

Yesterday we started our running again. We picked up a jogging stroller so we could take Melody with us. Running without the altitude makes quite a difference. I also noticed that the Mustang has a lot more get up and go than it did in Colorado Springs. That's cool!

I can't believe what they've done to Signal Hill. Two million dollar homes up there now! I remember when it was the gang hang out complete with dirt roads and it's own inspiration point. Now you can't even get to the top unless you live in one of the gated communities. Some developer somewhere is a genius.

Yet here we are.

If you're reading this and you know anyone in Southern California who's looking for an Art Director, Web Designer or Senior Graphic Designer, have them shoot me an e-mail at

I promise to be the best employee they've ever had.

Until I get work though, here we are.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Tick Tock

So, I put in my two-week notice on September 8.

I’ll say one thing: It’s good to be organized.

By the end of last week, my website duties had been transferred to one of my Creative Services colleagues and my catalog duties had been delivered to another. My music products ad duties have also been passed off to a new guy in the music products division. I’m finishing up a couple smaller projects this week and on Wednesday I’ll be packing up my desk and heading for parts unknown.

Well, not completely unknown.

I’m no stranger to packing and moving. Seems like I move every couple years or so. We really wanted to stay in our house for a long time when we bought it but we’ve decided to go to California. Essentially, we’ve chosen family over “stuff.” We started serious packing this past weekend and will continue it through this week and over next weekend.

We do have a couple music ministry loose ends to tie up. On Sunday the 25th, Lori and I will lead worship at Grace Be Unto You Outreach Church for the last time. It’ll be the last hurrah and we’ll have almost every musician in the church on stage with us for the send-off. That should be interesting. Lori and I play off of each other almost subconsciously but I’ll have to really work at giving directions to the others, which isn’t easy to do with both hands playing bass. But I’m sure it will work out. They’ll just have to pay attention.

Then on Monday the 26th, we’ll lead worship at the Springs Rescue Mission for the last time. On the 27th, Lori’s parents arrive to help with the move. On the 29th we pick up the truck and load it. On the 30th, we hit the road.

So now is the time for packing and staging everything in the garage.

It is indeed good to be organized.

And time is ticking.

California here I come. Right back where I started from...

Friday, September 09, 2005

Brain Drain

It's about 5:30 in the morning. I've been up since 2:30.

My head is swimming with so many things to do.

I put in my two week notice today at work. Okay. It was technically yesterday.

We're going to California in roughly three weeks. This time, we're not coming back to Colorado. In many ways, it's sad. But in other ways... well, we're coming home.

But it's a big undertaking. A grand adventure. Quitting a job. Selling a house. Moving across country. Staying with family. Aquiring new jobs. Getting a new home. Any of those things alone would be enough weight on the shoulders. We're doing all of it at once, barely a month after losing my dad.

To say I'm feeling stressed would be an understatement.

After all, I'm the husband. I'm the dad. It's all my responsibility.

So, while I was tired enough to go to sleep at 10:30 last night (after reading a chapter of pure escapism in my Star Wars novel), it was my turn to feed Melody if she needed it (Lori's teaching tomorrow, okay today).

Melody got up at 2:30.

When I laid back down after feeding and changing her, I couldn't stop thinking about what all needs to be done. Schedule the truck. Airline tickets for the in-laws (so they can help with the move). Packing everything (and therefore aquiring the needed boxes). Securing a car trailer for the Mustang. The list goes on.

So I tried to shift mental gears. Suddenly I'm thinking about work. What I need to do for the Westone website so there'll be a smooth transition. Who will I turn it over to and the politics that come with that. What about all the advertising for the music products division? Someone's got to pick that up. And I need to pass that contact info on to all of the magazines. I have my ideas about the best course of action but, after all, I'm not going to be there anymore so who cares what I think. I pick up so many pieces on a daily basis that no one even knows about. The fact is though that I need to start showing somebody all of the stuff I do every day so things won't fall through the cracks. After all, not every art director has another art director on staff to sweat the details. Some people are going to have to step up and start looking at the details. Or else they'll find themselves in over their head even more than they are now.

But what do I care? September 21 is my last day. It's not my problem after that.

And yet I do care.

Which is why I'm not asleep.

After stressing over both my personal and professional life for an hour in bed with my eyes wide open, I decided to get my mind off of it. I had a few episodes of the new Battlestar Galactica that I hadn't seen yet so I took them downstairs and watched two of them.

Just when I thought I was tired enough to hit the hay again, Melody started crying. So I had to coddle her back to sleep before I could lay back down.

By that point, my mind was back on everything that's going on... or needs to go on.

So now I'm up writing this. After all, this blog is more therapy than anything else. I should probably be working on my novel though.

In a half hour, Lori will be up... getting ready for work.

I hope she slept well.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

What I’m Reading: Goal, Motivation, Conflict

Been meaning to read “Goal, Motivation, Conflict” by Debra Dixon for a long time. Finished it this morning. It breaks down, you guessed it, character goals, motivations and conflicts into a very simple chart so you can let character decisions drive the plot of your story.

Although it’s perhaps a little on the analytical side, the book makes some good points. If used correctly, it would force me to really look at what’s driving my story before I ever type word one. It also has a great little section on using GMC to deconstruct the story into a quick little logline that can be used when pitching to editors and/or agents (or regaling your dinner guests with your latest literary masterpiece).

All in all, a good read.

Now I’ve picked up “The Evolution Conspiracy” by Caryl Matrisciana and Roger Oakland, which I expect to be similar to a book I read a few weeks ago (see previous "What I'm Reading" posts). This one, however, purports that there is a hidden agenda to deceive mankind regarding evolution and creationism. It was published in 1991. At some point I bought it and, once again, never read it. Anyway, I don’t know if I buy the whole conspiracy aspect of evolution, but maybe the book will change my mind.

I’ll let you know.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

What I’m Reading: Roaring Lambs

Okay. I did quite a bit of reading while we were in California. I went entirely through a book on "cherished American myths and fables" (I don't remember the exact name but there's tons of similar books out there). Very interesting what we’re willing to believe and what was, in fact, truth.

I read the myths book mostly as diversion. It was a quick read and easily jumped into and out of. It was also completely shallow.

So I picked up “Roaring Lambs.” I had actually purchased this book years ago because it seemed like something I could sink my teeth in to. But I had never had a chance to read it.

The book is by Bob Briner, who has since left us. It’s basically his manifesto on how Christians can change the world through the arts, an area that Christians and churches have basically abdicated, leaving “the world” to dominate in movies, film, writing, music, and the visual arts. Rather than boycott these things when they postulate non-Christian values, Briner’s solution is to offer up something that’s just as good that glorifies God. He proposes that lighting even one candle is better than cursing the darkness. To that end, he espouses the need for Christian writers and artists operating in mainstream America. Each chapter covers a different area of the arts and in this way it the book starts getting repetitive. His solutions are the same for every area, we need more Christians doing these things.

Still, overall, I like the book. Not in the same ways that I like Eldredge’s “Wild At Heart” or “Waking The Dead” (it’s not all that deep) but it’s solid reasoning and he’s saying things I’ve said for years. If you agree with the sentiments in the above paragraph, you might want to pick up “Roaring Lambs.”

Or maybe I just like to find folks who agree with me, even if they’re no longer with us.

Perhaps I’m the only one saying these things anymore.

Let’s hope not folks.

And The Walls Came Tumbling Down

On Friday last week, once work was over and everything became still, I finally turned my thoughts to what I had been through over the past month or so.

Thoughts about my mom and dad flooded back over me and I found myself laying in bed bawling, Lori holding me while I sobbed.

That continued for an hour or so and then I started to chill. Literally. A fever set in. I took a hot shower but I couldn’t seem to get warm enough. Lori gave me some medicine and ended up taking care of me for the rest of the weekend.

Finally, on Sunday (we had to skip church), I got over most of it. I did, however, have some difficulty swallowing until yesterday.

When I got up for work on Monday morning, Lori had the same thing I had. I don’t have a lot of vacation days left at work so I had to take care of her at lunch. When I got home from work, I sent her straight to bed and took care of Melody myself. Thankfully, Lori was well enough on Tuesday to take care of Melody during the day but she wasn’t really “all better” until yesterday.

All this just goes to show what can happen to you if you go full steam ahead for too long without taking care of yourself.

So, take care of yourselves.


Thursday, August 18, 2005

Remembering Mike Carhart

July 24, 1939 – August 7, 2005

"Your hero should always be tall, you know."
– Mike Carhart, 1958

It’s been longer than I would have liked since I posted to this blog. Moreover, I wish it were happier circumstances that had kept me away. Instead, a complicated set of events transpired that included my dad passing away, getting the family out to California and not only attending his funeral but helping with the planning and speaking at the service.

Only now am I even approaching recovery.

So, before the whole thing turns into a blur, I wanted to document this time.

My dad had been fighting a rare case of cancer that had attacked him in his jaw. The prescribed treatment included cutting open his face, grinding out part of his jaw and grafting bone from his leg into his jaw. This surgery was followed by radiation treatment, which was meant to finish off the cancer.

At first it had seemed successful. But the cancer came back. The wound on his face from the surgery, to my knowledge, never really healed and he found himself back in and out of the hospital over the course of a year. This past summer, he started chemo.

On July 13, he tried to stand and could not. My mom and brother-in-law called the paramedics and he went to the hospital. He was diagnosed with some big sounding name that basically meant his muscles had become mushy. They put him in a nursing facility to allow him to get stronger before his next chemo treatment.

A week or two later, his heart rate was down to 40 and he was sent back to the hospital, this time into ICU. It was determined that the chemo wasn’t working and that they were not going to continue the treatment. On Friday night, August 5, my sister called me with the news that the doctors had given my dad two weeks to two months to live.

All along, my dad had wanted to be kept in the loop. He didn’t want people talking behind his back or lying to him. So my sister told my dad the prognosis.

The next day, the nurses were unable to wake him. He had slipped into a coma. Lori and I started packing our suitcases. On Sunday morning, August 7, just as we were loading up the car, my sister called with the news that my dad had passed away.

Other than the fact that I didn’t get to see my dad before he passed away, it really didn’t change anything. We put Melody in the car seat, loaded up the back and made the drive from Colorado Springs to Long Beach, California in record time (we left on Sunday around 3 pm and arrived around 8 pm on Monday). When we arrived, Jim and Cheryl (one of my brothers and my sister) showed me pictures they’d found and things he had written in the hospital room. Chief among them was his will. Although probably not legally binding, this simple piece of paper attached to a clipboard detailed what he wanted his best friend to have and to divide up his knife and gun collection among his children. It was signed “James Carhart.” No one will dispute its authenticity. He knew his time was up. He had made his peace.

The next day, we were meeting with Jeb at Forest Lawn.

Things move quickly with funerals. So quickly that you never really have a chance to take stock of what has occurred until well after your loved one is in the ground.

The funeral was Friday, August 12, at noon. We thought that high noon was fitting for someone who loved the Old West as much as my dad did. Dad’s best friend, Allen Gonzales, picked out his favorite cowboy attire, including his hat, to have him dressed in.

Many of us decided to put something in the casket with him. Before he had gone in the hospital (and had been so heavily medicated), I had sent my dad a personalized copy of "One of the Girls," my latest book. Unfortunately, due to the medication, he never read it. It was that book, with the inscription, “Dad, hope you enjoy it,” that I had put into his casket.

Note that I said I had it "put into his casket." I, perhaps selfishly, chose not to view his body. Instead, I want to remember him playing catch with me in the street... or riding motorcycles together... or playing ping-pong with me after school... or drawing pictures for me after dinner... or working on my truck with me... or any other memory I have of him while he was with us. So Allen -- or maybe Jim -- put it in the casket for me. I don't know. I wasn't there.

Before the funeral, Pastor Nick Kerns (my mom’s pastor) told me that he had spoke with my dad about Jesus and they had prayed together. He assured me that my dad had come to the Lord. It was a great comfort to me. It is one thing to know that he no longer has to live with the pain he had been suffering. To know that he will live forever and that I’ll seem him again was a blessing.

At the funeral chapel service, my sister Cheryl sang. It fell to me, perhaps because I am the writer in the family or perhaps because I am the oldest sibling, to present a sort of chronology of milestones in my dad’s life. I present that chronology now.
James Micheal Carhart was born to Paul William and Vonnie Leona Carhart in Mt. Vernon, Ohio on July 24, 1939. Since a very early age, he was known as Mike and he was always tall.

The Carhart family lived in Millwood, Ohio where Mike spent his childhood with his older sister, Carol.

Mike exhibited artistic abilities at a young age. He would also watch the serials at the local movie theater. His hero was John Wayne.

Mike attended Howard High School where he participated in both sports and the arts. He played baseball, basketball and was involved in chorus and drama. In his freshman year, he was the football manager. He was also on student council for two years and was on the yearbook staff. He graduated in 1958.

In 1959, Mike came to California with two high school friends. He attended Imperial Valley College in El Centro for two years.

In 1961 Mike moved to Long Beach, California and took a job at Pacific Valves where he played on the company basketball and baseball teams. It was with this company, now part of Crane Valve, that he continued to support his family until he retired in 2004. Nearly 43 years!

Mike worked with Jack Bridges. One day Jack showed Mike a picture that had his wife’s sister, Bobbie Fredricks in it. Bobbie had just come out from Kentucky and Mike was determined to meet her.

Mike was confident to show up at the Bridges house alone (with no support), while they were moving nonetheless, to meet Bobbie. Upon his arrival, she thought he was “strikingly handsome.”

For their first date, Mike took Bobbie to the Lions Drag Strip in Long Beach.

About a week later, Mike took Bobbie to El Patio. It was her first experience with Mexican food. The restaurant was a family staple until it closed in 2003.

It was around this time that Mike purchased a blue 1965 Pontiac GTO and had it customized to his liking. It was his favorite car. Selling it was perhaps his only regret. Indeed, the GTO and pictures he took of it was a popular topic of conversation for the rest of his life.

On November 20, 1965, Mike and Bobbie were married at The Little Chapel of the Flowers in Las Vegas, Nevada. At the time of his passing, they had been married for almost 40 years.

In early 1966, they bought their first house at 3349 Gondar in Long Beach.

On May 19, 1968, Mike and Bobbie gave birth to their first son, Paul Michael Carhart (named after Mike’s father as well as Mike).

Bobbie had a dream one night that Paul had run into the street and had been killed by a car. So Mike built a white picket fence around the yard. Bobbie, clad in a bikini, helped to paint it.

On March 21, 1970, Mike and Bobbie welcomed James Alan Carhart into the world (again, named partially for Mike).

In 1973, on July 13, the family welcomed their only daughter (Cheryl Ann) into the world.

The house on Gondar was now full so the family moved to a larger house at 3123 San Anseline in Long Beach. Although extensively altered, it is still the family residence.

In 1975, the family welcomed Brian Matthew into the world.

Growing up, the Carhart children were treated to John Wayne movies at home, Disney films at the drive-in, after-dinner time with Mike drawing cartoons for the children and summer weekends riding motorcycles and shooting cans in the dessert. The years were also peppered with occasional visits to Disneyland and summer road trips back east to visit family.

Although Mike always made a distinction from his daily job and his creative pursuits, he passed on many artistic traits to his children. He was proud of their accomplishments.

Mike was good with his hands. He would make necklaces and carve trinkets for his children and was good at fixing things. Mike would often scour garage sales for used guns and pick up bicycle parts. Mike started building bicycles from scratch. All the kids in the neighborhood would come to the Carhart house to ride the bikes that Mike built.

Throughout his life, Mike loved the time of the Old West and he studied it extensively.

One of his favorite things to do was to frequent the gun shows. Mike’s trademark cowboy hat could often be found towering over the aisles. He collected knives and guns and crafted his own custom pistol handles, knife handles and leather goods.

Mike loved racing. In November, 2003, before he fell ill, he delighted in fulfilling a lifelong dream of driving a NASCAR by completing the Racing Adventure 2 program with his son-in-law, Joe Benitez, at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, California.

Today, Mike is survived by his wife, all of his children and two grandchildren (Violet Benitez and Melody Carhart).

Over the years, Mike shared his love of all-things-western with a few select friends. His longest friendship was with Allen Gonzales.
That’s when Allen came up, dressed in full cowboy regalia, and shared his friendship with my dad. After a brief message from the pastor, it was time to go outside.

The pallbearers consisted of myself, my brother Jim, my brother Brian, my brother-in-law Joe, Allen and Bill Reynolds (another of my dad’s friends). With the help of a cart, we took my dad’s casket out to the grave site. We had a short graveside service where Bill spoke briefly.

After the service, there was what I can only call a reception (it wasn’t exactly a wake) at my brother Jim’s house where he had set up photo albums, a book of my dad’s drawings as well as some of his favorite guns and western wear. It was a fitting tribute.

Then we made the journey back.

Melody didn’t take well to the road. The drive was replete with scowls from the back seat. When we got home, she ran around the living room and then hugged Lori’s legs. As for Lori (who has stood by my side the whole time) and I, we are both emotionally, mentally and physically drained.

And yet, life goes on.

Groceries must be bought. Paychecks must be earned. And time with family, more relevant to me now than ever, must not be squandered.

I would like to take just a moment to thank everyone who sent a card, an e-mail or called us on the phone as well as everyone who has offered their thoughts and prayers both to my dad while he was in the hospital as well as to my family. We appreciate your support.

But, sad as it is that we all go, I know my dad would have rather that we buried him than he had to bury any of his kids. Children should outlive their parents. So, although his time perhaps came too soon and I will miss my dad, things are, at least in this one way, as they should be.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Now Available: One of the Girls

Okay. This is perhaps a little self-serving. However, I thought I’d just put up a quick little note that my new young adult superhero fantasy novel, One of the Girls, is now available in limited distribution from my website:

What? You want to know what it's about before you buy it? Very well. The blurb from the back of the book:

When sixteen-year-old Jana Swain discovers flying rocks coming to her rescue while fleeing bullies after school,she knows her life has changed forever. But she could have never guessed what would come next. With the help of her popular cheerleader twin sister Jeni, her comic book-obsessed younger brother and her neighbors from across the street, Jana seeks to get to the bottom of her strange encounter. What she discovers is that she's somehow received, in her brother's words, "super hero powers." She can move things with her mind!

With coaching from her siblings, Jana reluctantly takes the guise of PsyChick™,haphazardly using her abilities to fight crime. But she's in over her head and only her sister has what it takes to rescue the hero.

Indeed, powers or not, only by acting together can Jana and Jeni become the hero that neither could have been as long as they both emained merely one of the girls.

If you order the book from, I’ll sign it and personalize it for anyone you want (it doesn't have to be for you). The ordering process is through PayPal and there is a personalization field in the ordering process (so please use it). The price ($12.50) includes U.S. shipping.

So check out my latest novel before it goes into wide release and get it signed and personalized while you’re at it.

As always, thanks for your support!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

What I’m Reading 2

Moved on from “Faith, Form, And Time,” which made some pretty good points about why the theory of evolution is actually not the way the earth was created. When it’s all said and done, I'm not sure it really matters a whole lot but it was interesting nevertheless. And I do have an idea for a story in which the Young Age Creationism theories from that book could come into play... but that’ll have to wait until I finish the current novel I’m writing.

In the meantime, I’ve moved on to "The Search For Significance" by Robert S. McGee. I read it once about ten years ago (it was recommended by my pastor at the time) and found it to be great. But I’m in a different place now (married with child) so I thought I’d approach it again and see if I've grown any.

The tagline to the title is "We can build our self-worth on our ability to please others, or on the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ." It’s a pretty brisk read and it makes a lot of sense. The copy I'm reading has a 1990 copyright on it but I know a new edition was put out in 2003. If you’re self-worth is defined by a combination of your performance and other people’s opinions (and let’s face it, most of us have fallen into this trap at some point), I encourage you to give the book a read.

Of course all this nonfiction I’ve been reading has been taking a toll on my fiction reading.

But more on that another time.

Monday, August 01, 2005


What better need for a vent than excessive amounts of smoke?

Okay. So we went to the drive-in on Friday night. Both films were good in different ways and we enjoyed the family time together.


You knew there was a “but” in there, didn’t you?

What’s up with these people who must smoke in public? And I’m not just talking about one cigarette. I’m talking about the constant chain of multiple people lighting up.

Last week I was all excited to go to the drive-in and I encouraged the rest of you to join me. Now I suggest, if you go, you may want to bring a gas mask.

To our right was pick-up truck backed in for optimal viewing from the truck bed. There were probably eight people in this truck and at least three of them were lit up at any given time. Despite the fact that it was an extremely hot night in Pueblo, I spent most of both films with my window up. And it was a good thing too because, for some reason, whoever the driver was had decided to go to the movies but spend the entire time in the front seat on the cellphone with the window down. And he was even in a bigger cloud of smoke. He was like Pig-Pen from the Peanuts cartoons. I wish I were exagerating.

When I made a comment about it between films, Lori tells me that it’s been the same way on her side. To punctuate her remark, the guy in the car over there starts coughing up a lung. And the amazing thing is that he continued to take long drags from his cigarette… the only time, I might add , that he wasn’t coughing.

And his wife, in complete solidarity with him, was toking out too. Now that's love! I guess she didn’t like the idea of him dying first so she’s just going to “stand by her man” and they’ll go out together like one big Viking funeral pyre. Wait 'til the gas tank ignites!

Anyway, this coupled with how beat we were all day on the Saturday following will probably contribute to this being our last drive-in trip. It was fun while it lasted but I don’t smoke. Lori doesn’t smoke. We don’t want to smoke. And we don’t want Melody to have to breathe it either.

Guess it’s time to join Netflix.

Friday, July 29, 2005

An Old-Fashioned Family Tradition

When is the last time you’ve been to the drive-in theater?

For me it’s been only a month or so. And we’re going again tonight.

You see, in Colorado, there are still a few drive-ins. If you’re in Colorado, you can check out what you’re missing by visiting The site lists the drive-ins in Colorado that remain open and what’s playing.

So tonight we’re driving to the Mesa Drive-In in Pueblo where we’re gonna check out a chick movie for Lori ("Must Love Dogs") as well as a little something for me ("Charlie and the Chocolate Factory") all for pretty much the price of one movie.

Just like when I was a kid and my family would pile into our car, we’re gonna pop up popcorn ahead of time and bring a cooler of drinks (and maybe some candy bars) and, between 8:45 and 9:00 (when the first movie starts), we’re gonna watch the a couple movies through our windshield and forget about the outside world... at least until I have to drive us all home (around 2:00 am).

Truth be told, this is pretty much the only way we’ve been able to go to the movies since we’ve had Melody. It works out well too. Melody will watch the first movie from the car seat in the back seat (we reposition her in the center so she can see) and Lori and I can hold hands during the show. We get out of the house and have a little fun too. And Melody is usually asleep before the second movie starts.

And in case you were wondering, the days of the tinny old speakers with the crackling sound are gone. Now you tune your car stereo into an FM radio frequency for probably better sound than I get in my living room. Pretty cool!

You should try it sometime. Maybe these icons of American culture will make a nostalgic comeback someday.

Anyway, that’s what we’re doing tonight and I’m looking forward to it.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Exploring The Realm

On Saturday, I took Lori and Melody to the Colorado Renaissance Festival in Larkspur (next weekend is the last for the year). It’s pretty cool (if not historically accurate). The buildings are permanent, unlike many of the tent encampments I’ve visited at California fairs. There’s also a lot of stuff for kids to do. It’s not Disneyland, but it’s maybe the closest thing to Fantasyland I’ll find in Colorado.

This weekend featured the Scottish and Irish theme so, with Irish on Lori’s side of the family (Lori’s mother’s maiden name is Sloan) and Scottish on my side (my dad’s mother’s maiden name is Gadd which supposedly came through Scotland at some point, probably on its way to somewhere else), we thought it would be a great opportunity for a little fun.

First off, it was very hot on Saturday. We realized this as we stepped out of the Escape into the dusty parking lot. Still, there was a little bit of a breeze so we piled a couple sodas and a water bottle into Melody’s stroller and trudged down the road to the two spires sticking above the distant tree line.

Now, they’ve got a couple of free shuttles that guests can use to make the trek to the front gates a little easier but, with Melody, the stroller and various other paraphernalia related to our daughter and/or our own comfort, I opted to forgo the sardine experience and just walk.

By the time we got the gates, we were famished. But we had bought the tickets ahead of time so we didn’t have to stand in that line. We handed our tickets to the costumed girl with the really fake British accent and went straight on through… to the food court.

Where we could have had turkey legs or a variety of other sundry culinary delights. But those lines were too long. If we didn’t purchase and consume food immediately, I think Lori and I would have eaten each other.

Which is a story for another time.

After scarfing down a couple pieces of pizza and some bread sticks, we hit the shops, stopping for awhile at the heraldry shop. I’ve always wanted to pick up the Carhart coat of arms to display in our house so I stopped and chatted with a lady about it. Seems they can produce a Carhart history on parchment for a mere $20 ($45 framed). Pretty cool. My funds were short though so I held off (besides, if I was going to spend any more money, I would have rather picked up one of the really cool Pirate Pub T-shirts). Still, I asked about the coat of arms only to be told that we Carharts didn’t take one. She said she could do it with the coat of arms for England on it if I’d like. Why would I like that? After all, I’m pretty sure my Thomas Carhart genealogy book at home has a rough drawing if not a written description of the Carhart coat of arms. So I took their card. Perhaps I’ll write them with that description and see what it would cost to have one put together. I’d do it myself but I don’t know anything about heraldry and it would likely be an inaccurate representation of it.

So, a little disappointed, we moved on and stopped at the Globe Theatre (basically a few benches in front of a small stage) where we were treated to “A Celtic Duo.” These two were pretty funny. One guy played a variety of percussion instruments and spoke with a Scottish accent. He did most of the talking. Although his partner was an excellent bagpipe player, he had the weakest Scottish accent I’ve ever heard. It was like Kevin Costner’s British accent in Robin Hood. But they were good and they were entertaining, especially when hawking their CDs. Melody cracked up at them and danced in her stroller to their jigs so it was certainly worthwhile.

After that, we went down to the jousting arena but they were done for a while. Instead, the highland athletes were competing. How do I know they were athletes? Because they were sporting brand new Nike tennis shoes along with their kilts as they threw their stones as far as they could. If they weren’t athletes, why would they be wearing Nikes?

After browsing a few more shops and a stop at the eternally grimy “privies,” we were ready to head home.

But that was before we spied the “Children’s Realm.” Little more than a glorified petting zoo, there were llamas, cows, ponies, pigs, rabbits and even a rooster to pet. There were also animals to ride. Melody is only fifteen months old though so we just pushed her through to take a look at these strange beasts. She was quite interested.

But we were all tired.

So we made our way back to the front gates and took a pass through “Ye Olde Mister” to cool off. The walk back to the car was all uphill so I left Lori and Melody in the shade and went to get the Escape.

Once safe and sound in our climate controlled vehicle, we made for the nearest Dairy Queen where I treated myself to a Blizzard (naturally Lori got whatever she wanted too... but Melody was asleep... finally).

Supernatural Interference

So Lori and I were set to lead worship at church on Sunday. We were doing a couple new songs that we needed to go over with the drummer.

But Melody decided she was going to climb everywhere and then fall from everywhere. She was crying. She was hungry. She was tired. She wouldn’t stay put in the Sunday School class.

And it was frustrating the heck out of me. After all, how could I go over the new songs with the drummer in half-chorus chunks?

Naturally, the fact that I was getting frustrated over it just made Lori frustrated with me.

Needless to say, my heart wasn’t in the right place about fifteen minutes before the service started.

So we had two choices. We could just forge ahead and try to do the best we could or we could take it to God and give it to Him. We chose the second option. We gathered the band together and prayed. I confessed my jerkiness and we sorta folded up the rehearsal.

Despite the fact that we were only two voices (Lori and me), keyboards, bass and Melvin on drums, the band seemed extremely full during the worship part of the service. It was almost as if we were getting supernatural help.

After the service, Lori remarked to me on the way home, “That was probably the worst rehearsal we’ve ever had… and maybe the best worship we’ve ever lead.”

Funny thing about how God can work.

Now let’s see how God's going to use us tonight at the Springs Rescue Mission.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Adventures At Lunchtime

Yesterday I went home for lunch like I do almost every day. I get to see Lori (we’ve only been married for just shy of two years) and Melody (if she isn’t asleep) on these occasions and it helps breathe some real life into the otherwise hectic day that characterizes life in any art department.

I should preface this little story by stating that things have been a little tight this summer for the Carhart clan. Lori’s a teacher and the summer just isn’t the time for a teacher to bring in any additional income. The good news? Lori gets to spend a lot of time with Melody. The bad news is that we’re pretty much relying on my income and whatever I can bring in freelancing for at least three months a year.

So, due to the thinning of the Carhart wallet and the increase in gas prices, I decided to consolidate our gas funds into what has become known as Lori’s car. Actually, both the Escape and the Mustang are both of our cars but Lori primarily drives the Escape because it’s easier to get Melody in and out of it.

So the Mustang was on empty and I started driving the Escape to work... just until payday.

But, you see, we were also running low on groceries. So yesterday we decided that Lori would go to the grocery store after I returned to work from lunch.

I got in the mustang, started it and headed off down the street. About four houses away, the car chugged to a stop.

Out of gas!

It’s only happened to me maybe twice in my life (including yesterday). I couldn’t believe it. After all, I only work three minutes from the house.

I swiped the garage remote control and dragged my weary behind back to the house where I picked up the lawn mower gas can and trudged it back to the car. Did I mention it was probably a hundred degrees yesterday? Anyway, I emptied the can into the Mustang and turned the key.

No luck. Not enough gas (it was probably only an eight of a tank).

So I put the car in neutral and pushed it backwards back to the house. Just as it crested the slight hill, the car started rolling on its own. I was grateful because I was by myself and pushing the car alone wasn’t exactly easy. But then it started going faster. I had the top down so I could sorta steer it, but I was in front of the door and I couldn’t get a hold of it.

The car picked up speed and I started to panic. I cried out for help but there was no one around (I found out later that Lori had gone inside to secure Melody and put on a pair of tennis shoes to help me… I guess I should be more patient).

Finally I was able to grasp the handle on the door and swing myself into the driver’s seat where I quickly put on the breaks. The car stopped right in front of my garage.

With that fiasco over, the lawn mower can and I took the Escape to the nearest gas station where we filled up. I emptied the can into the Mustang and it started right back up like nothing had ever been wrong.

I ended up with a little longer lunch than usual, but at least I wound up with something interesting to post here.

Which is, of course, the important thing.

Rest assured both the Mustang and the Escape now have gas in them.

Have a happy and safe weekend!

What I’m Reading

As a writer, I’m sometimes asked what I’m reading.

Well, other than the predictably fun and satisfying in a “get-what-you-want” sorta way Star Wars novel, “Shatterpoint” (I’m always reading two books at a time, one a sci-fi or fantasy novel, the other something nonfiction), I’m reading “Faith, Form, And Time: What the Bible Teaches and Science Confirms About Creation and the Age of the Universe” by Kurt P. Wise.

I know. It’s a mouthful (not to mention a very long sentence). While not as spiritually deep as my previous nonfiction read (which was “Waking the Dead” by John Eldredge), It actually is an interesting, if overly analytical, read.

Wise makes a lot of good points in his book. Although I’m not certain I agree with 100% of his claims, I am interested to see where he’s going with it all.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Testing For Princes

The other night Lori and I were being affectionate.

And who do you think witnessed it?

Princess Melody.

The next thing we know, she's leaning into our faces and kissing us. These kisses mostly amount to her biting my bottom lip. Occasionally she'll stick out her tongue too, which is hilarious. And, of course, because we're laughing so hard about it, she keeps doing it.

Proof positive that we need to watch what we do and say around Melody. While this instance is certainly cute, I don't need her exhibiting adult behavior any sooner than she normally would. Kids grow up too fast as it is.

I can see it now: My little princess getting in trouble at school for kissing boys. I don't think I want to have to deal with that.

And I don't think I want her kissing frogs either.

My Mom

Sorry for the shortage of posts recently. Life’s been moving quite quickly.

Yesterday was mom’s birthday. I called and left a message. I can assume that she was out to dinner with my siblings or else she was visiting my dad.

Speaking of my dad, he’s no longer in ICU. He was moved to the heart center early this week and on the 19th he was moved to a nursing facility where he will hopefully regain his strength only to go back to chemo next week.

But word is he’s looking better. Just a little weak. So thanks for all your prayers.

Mom’s been taking care of dad for just about a year now and I can tell it’s taking a toll on her. Last time I talked to her, I told her to use the time that dad’s in the hospital/nursing center to rest up so she’ll be ready when he comes home. I hope she’s taking my advice.

I’d say that both of them could use continued prayers.


Friday, July 15, 2005

My Dad

I'm a lot like my dad, I've discovered.

It's not really something I ever wanted to be but sometimes there are just things that you don't have any control over.

When I was a kid, my dad would draw Disney characters for me. He was good. He could just look at a character and recreate it on paper. Of all the talents that my parents have passed down to me (and there are many), the ability to draw has probably served me best. It forged my identity in school. After all, I was the kid who could draw Mickey Mouse. And, without it, I wouldn't have the career I have now.

There's an old saying that goes something like this: "It's funny how much my dad has learned over the years." The irony, of course, being that Dad had known plenty all along, if only I would have listened to him. Now that I'm a father myself, it all becomes oh so clear. Truly youth is wasted on the young.

Of course, as with everyone in my family, my dad is a character. He lives in Southern California but, with his cowboy hat and boots, he looks like he ought to be living in Texas. Or else he's in the right place but in the wrong time. He's a big John Wayne fan and we grew up with such Dadisms as "Never start a fight but if you end up in one, you'd better finish it" and "Never say you're sorry. It's a sign of weakness." Such things make my wife shudder. What am I going to teach our kids? But that's Dad. And there's at least a shadow of truth in those statements.

Of course, I don't know how anyone can stay married very long without ever apologizing.

And I'm not about to find out.

I suspect Dad doesn't know either.

But back in my youth, Dad was an innovator. In fact, he invented the television remote control. It was me! He'd tell me to get up off the couch and change the channel. When it wasn't a western, he'd have me up again changing it to another channel. When we finally got a TV that came with it's own remote, I thought I was off the hook. Unfortunately, it became my job to locate the remote control on a nightly basis. Either that, or I'd have to go back to my old job.

I know Dad loves his kids. He had transparent ways of showing it. Indeed, the fact that he was such a good artist, probably a better one than I am, and he gave up following any artistic endeavors so he could work in a factory to provide for his wife and family now speaks volumes to me.

My thoughts turn to my dad now. You see, he's in the hospital. He's been fighting cancer and, for the most part winning. Yesterday he was weak -- unable to stand -- and his heart was racing. So my mom called 911 and they rushed him to the hospital.

I have faith that it's just a bump in the road and he'll be back home shortly, continuing the fight as only John Wayne could.

But today I'm thinking about him.

And I'm praying for him.

I'd appreciate it if you would too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Whose Genes Are Those?

Melody has this habit of not sleeping.

I'm not talking about waking up when she should be sleeping. I'm also not only referring to her penchant for getting up at the break of day, although both aspects are part of the problem.

What, I believe, it boils down to is that Melody does not want to sleep. Ever.

I don't know if she just doesn't want to miss out on what’s going on in her absence or what the problem is.

But she doesn't want to sleep.

She gets so tired that she’s falling over and hitting her head on things. She wants to be held but doesn't want to be held. She cries for no reason other than that she's plum tuckered out. And still, she will not go to sleep.

Lori will hold her. Sing to her. Caress her.

And still, she doesn't want to sleep.

Well fed. Clean diaper. It doesn't matter.

So I'm left wondering whose genes are in there. Because I would sleep until noon every day if I could and Lori would go until at least ten in the morning. Not only do we like to sleep in, but we don't have a problem dropping off at night either.

The biggest problem is that when she doesn't sleep, no one else sleeps.

I wonder if she’ll ever come around and realize the joy of a well-slept-in bed.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Best Mexican In Town

In the spirit of my ravings about Carrabbas in a previous post, I'd like to shed a little light on a new Mexican restaurant in Colorado Springs that deserves your patronage.

It's called Pueblo Viejo and it's on Academy just south of Vickers in the building that used to be Dos Hombres. The guacamole was excellent. The chips were crisp and warm. And the beans were like pudding. Just as it should be. Lori and I agree that it’s the best we’ve had in Colorado Springs... and we've been searching for almost two years not counting the five years I was out here before we got married.

Thanks to my friend Chris Weil and his family for spreading the word to us about this restaurant.

So check out Pueblo Viejo and let me know what you think.

Friday, July 08, 2005

A Busy Weekend Looms

But it's still the weekend and I intend to enjoy every blessed minute of it.

First up is the last run of the week (along with 200 situps and 30 arm curls with the old 40 pound weight). I gotta get three miles done tonight before I can move on into the worry-free portion of the weekend. It'll also make Lori proud and start the weekend off on the right note.

But there’s still lots to do. Lori and I are leading worship again on Sunday so we've got to get the music together tonight and get it out to the others. I was also hoping to make a some progress on my novel tonight... but we'll see.

Tomorrow, we're playing with some friends on the stage at Acacia Park in downtown Colorado Springs between 11 and noon. Feel free to stop by and say "hi." I'll be playing bass and Lori will be singing background vocals (the band also consists of a keyboardist, acoustic guitarist, lead guitarist, drummer and lead singer).

On Sunday, right after we lead worship, we're heading over to Sunnyside Christian Church to attend the wedding of my friend Chris and his wife Dema.

What? She's already his wife? Then why're they getting married?

Because they got married in Hong Kong and now they're doing it again for us state-siders, including his parents.

So that makes for a pretty jammed up weekend. But we'll enjoy the time together anyway. After all, I've got Lori. She's got me. And we've both got Melody Hannah. What else is more important?

Of course, there's still no time to use those Renaaisance Festival tickets.

Perhaps next time.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Running Gag

Okay, I guess I’d only gag if it was right after dinner.

But Lori and I have been running (okay, jogging) every night now for a few weeks and I think we're beginning to see results.

Back in the day, I used to run three or four miles a day, eventually running and completing (very slowly, mind you, and with walking) the Los Angeles Marathon.

I'd love to take credit for our new health kick but it's really Lori's doing. Left to my own devices I'd probably tap out another chapter in whatever novel I'm writing, read one of my many tomes in the stack of "To Be Read" books or watch a TV show that I taped who-knows-when.

But Lori is serious about this and thus so must I be.

So Lori started walking around the grass common area in front of our house while I kept up my workout on our Gazelle (which allows me to work out AND watch a previously taped TV show). Pretty soon, Lori was jogging about half the time and walking the other half. Then she started encouraging me to join her.

I recalled the days of running in my past and I know how I felt after that marathon.

I remember my friend Chris speaking those words of encouragement. "Man, you just ran a marathon!"

I think I said something along the lines of "I'll never do that again." Actually it was probably more of a gasp and I think I gasped it many times over the next week of recovery.

But, as I said, Lori is serious about this.

So I told her, if she really wants to do it, I know how. I've done it before.

She put me in her care.

So now every week night (we give it a break on the weekends) we park Melody in the stroller on our walkway and, after stretching, start our journeys around the grass common area. So we can keep an eye on Melody, we stagger our running so when Lori’s at the top of the track, I’m at the bottom.

Lori started with five laps around the grass common area. I started with ten. We figured out that seven times around the grass common area was very close to a mile. So each day we added a lap to what we were doing.

Last night Lori completed two miles. Two nights ago I got tired of trying to remember how many laps I was at and jumped up to twenty-one times around, which puts me back at three miles for two nights in a row.

Lori has already noticed more shape to her (as have I) and I'm sure that noticeable weight will soon drop from me (if it hasn't already).

Oh, what we do for love.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Weekend That Wasn’t (Or Was)

I guess it just depends on your point of view.

We didn't go to the Renaissance Festival and we didn't go to Memorial Park for fireworks, but we had a good three-day weekend nevertheless.

I don't remember a lot about Saturday, which is as it should be. Lori and I both enjoyed the rest and, with worship-leading responsibilities at church on Sunday, we decided to bask in the laziness of it.

Sunday was about what I expected. We led worship at church. We made hamburgers for lunch. Etc.

On Monday, we decided to just check out what fireworks we could from the front porch and I took some time to work on my latest novel. It was nice to finally have some time to put aside for this project. I went through my outline earlier in the weekend and realized that it really is a good story. When I opened the Word file, I found page upon page of narrative that I don't remember writing and was delighted to discover that it's pretty good.

So I finished off the chapter before it got dark.

Unfortunately, we couldn't see much from our front porch. So we climbed into the car and headed out into the crazy 4th traffic. Still, we were able to catch the tail end of various fireworks displays (including the illegal ones on our street).

Since we were out I decided to treat Lori to something sweet (Melody was already asleep). We went to a place in town called Good Times that serves frozen custard as opposed to ice cream. They were offering a Red, White & Blue Sundae. How novel! Lori wanted one so I ordered her one while she made use of the facilities... only to find out that they only had enough custard to make Lori's sundae and I couldn’t get anything!

Vent alert: This is a custard place! And they're out of custard? That’s like KFC running out of chicken or Arby's running out of roast beef! I bet McDonalds doesn't run out of hamburgers.

Anyway, without Lori there to decide if she still wanted her Red, White & Blue Sundae or if she wanted to go somewhere else, I dusted off the gentleman beneath and ordered for her. Then we went over to Sonic (a burger and dessert place styled like a 50's drive-in diner) and I got what amounted to a cup of soft-serve ice cream with a few chunks of cookie dough on top.

So I guess our fourth of July coulda been a little better. But we had fun and we enjoyed ourselves and we got out of the house. Which is something a writer doesn’t always accomplish, especially on a non-work holiday.

On a side note, I put down another chapter of that novel last night after Lori and Melody hit the sack. Now if I can only maintain this Momentum.

But I'm sure I'll be sidetracked again. It's my way.

After all, we still have those Renaissance Festival tickets...

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Three-Day Weekend

The three day July 4th weekend, in my opinion, is well-deserved.

I'm tired and, to be honest, it'll be nice to just relax with my family.

That's what I always think though. We've got a lot going on this weekend.

On Saturday, we may go to the Renaissance Festival in Larkspur. It's pretty cool. Very festive and something you can only do in the summer. This weekend is also the Children's Weekend so Melody oughta get a kick out of it. She loves other kids. Of course, we may not go on Saturday either. We're weighing it with the weather. It's supposed to be quite hot so another weekend might be better. And Lori and I would both enjoy some of the other themed weekends. Of note is the International Music weekend and the Irish and Scottish festival weekend. We probably will only go once this year, so we’ll see what happens.

On Saturday, Lori and I are leading worship at church. So we've got to go over the music on Saturday as well (another reason to perhaps put off the Renaissance Festival). Of course, we lead worship almost every Sunday this month, so there may not be a "good" weekend to go in that respect. So perhaps we should just bite the bullet and go. Who knows what we'll decide?

On Monday, Independence Day, the plan is to head over to Memorial Park where the Colorado Springs Philharmonic will play and there will be fireworks. It's illegal to even possess fireworks in the Colorado Springs city limits, so this is a good alternative to shooting off your own on the street like we did in California when I was a kid. I'm looking forward to seeing Meldoy’s reaction to the fireworks.

So we've got a lot going on this weekend but in between things, I hope to get to some writing and some other computer-oriented errands.

Whatever the case, I'm looking forward to the extended time away from work.

Praise God for three day weekends.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Playing the Waiting Game

You ever get tired of waiting?

I'm at a place in my life right now where I find myself waiting a lot, seemingly for everything. It’s very frustrating. Lori and I are currently waiting on something in probably three or four areas of our life.

Can’t we just forge ahead? Why does life, which is short enough already, have to be wasted with waiting for things to fall into place?

Do things really need to fall into place? Do we have to play it safe all the time?

I don't know. Those are some of the questions I ask in my prayers these days.

Or perhaps God’s just trying to teach me patience.

I asked Him about that too.

I’m still waiting for the answer.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Living Up To Her Name

Thankfully, Melody seems to have a real love for music.

Of course, she’s only 14 months old. So how can I really know? Well, for one thing, whenever I pick up my acoustic bass and just start messing around, she dances and laughs. Also, whenever Lori’s playing piano and singing, Melody wants to join in (she can now reach the keys). We also take her with us when we do music ministry both at the Springs Rescue Mission as well as at church on Sundays and other special "performances." So she’s quite well exposed to performed music and not just an occasional CD in the car.

But wait! There's more.

This summer (since there’s not a lot on TV), Lori and I have been watching episodes of the 90s series "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" (which, at about twelve years old, arguably are not all that new). Every time the opening credits run, Melody stops what she’s doing and stares at the screen. Nothing will interupt her attention. While the sci-fi geek in me would like to think that she’s enamored with the concept of Superman, it's obvious that she just really digs the theme music. She will watch it until the music is over and then she'll go back to eating whatever living room candle or remote control she was already gnawing on.

To test this, I've even (at Lori's behest) rewound the opening credits and played them again. It's akin to hypnosis!

Please note that our daughter's name is not Dialogue or Dramatica (although she’s quite the drama princess) so it only makes sense that she's only interested, at least at this point, in the music. As soon as the credits drop out into commercials or even during the bulk of the show, Melody is much more content to pull off her socks and eat them.

On Sunday, Lori and I put in the recent version of "The Phantom of the Opera." Most of the film was largely ignored by Melody (she’s not really sophisticated enough to tap into the idiosyncrasies of musical banter nor does she care about love least not yet). However, at one point the music became quite bombastic and overtook the film.

And this got Melody’s attention.

Our daughter stood from where she was playing in the living room and proceeded with much haste to Lori’s piano where she apparently intended to pound out the score along with the film.

So we're going to keep an eye on how this love of music evolves into and effects Melody's talents as she grows. She already has several musical toys including a pink miniature grand piano that Lori's parents gave her as well as a new xylophone and a Leap Frog drum that was handed down to her from friends at church.

She plays with these musical toys more than she plays with dolls and stuffed animals.

The musician in me thinks this is just great. I mean, we named her Melody. I'm pleased as punch that she's got a musical bent. But the Disney geek in me doesn’t want her to miss out on her childhood. Surely there's a place in Melody’s heart for Winnie the Pooh too.

I guess it's time to break out the Disney "Sing-Along-Songs."

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Best Italian In Town

Colorado Springs isn't the restaurant mecca of the known world. I would argue that pretty much better Mexican, Indian and even hamburgers can be found where I grew up in Long Beach, California. It's safe to say that Lori would agree.

But I took Lori out to Carrabba's on Saturday night.

We both agree that it's probably the best Italian food we've ever had.

It's also got a great environment. We've eaten at two different locations, so this isn't only true of Saturday night's experience. The service is top notch and the waiter was even a good sport about Melody being the handful that she sometimes is.

Of course, being Saturday night, we had to wait about forty minutes. But it was well worth it. The hostess even offered us drinks in the waiting area and Melody played with this table of wires with little painted wood shapes that could travel along the wires. Who knows what the heck that thing is called, but they're commonly found in doctor's offices and Melody loved it.

When we were seated, we were provided with some very good bread along with some spices that were mixed on a plate with olive oil. The house salad is splendid as well.

Lori had Scampi Damian for her main course while I had my usual Chicken Parmesan. Instead of the Fettuccini Alfredo on the side though, I opted for garlic-mashed potatoes (which is a departure for me). Of course, it was all indeed the embodiment of perfection.

We were stuffed but we couldn't leave without dessert. We ordered the Sogno di Cioccolata "Chocolate Dream" to go and had it at home later that night.

Some might consider Carrabba's a little pricey but if you can afford it, I whole-heartedly recommend a night in their capable hands.

Friday, June 24, 2005

If You Don’t Like The Weather, Wait Ten Minutes

That’s how it has been lately here in Colorado.

When I first moved out here in 1998, in the spring and summer it would rain every day at 3:00 for about an hour. Over the past few years we’ve had a drought but this year we're back to the daily deluge.

Which is kinda cool. I mean, Colorado summers can be notoriously hot and dry. This way, the grass stays green and we get a cool breeze coming in from the mountains for at least a couple hours a day.

Of course, there are also the lightning strikes. A friend of mine just had to replace the Ethernet card in his computer due to a proximate lightening strike. And there's hail too. Last year there were at least two hailstorms that caused body damage to a lot of cars in southern Colorado.

But if it wasn’t lightning and hail it would be something else. There's hurricanes in Florida, tornadoes in the plains states and earthquakes in California. If you want to hide from natural disatsers, there's basically only one place to go: six feet under in the graveyard.

I’m not ready to go there just yet.

So I’m enjoying the variety in the weather, often within the same day.

Sometimes the pleasure is in the surprise.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Mornings: The Deceptively Dark Side Of The Day

You may love the morning. You may love getting up with the sunset and the sounds of little birdies chirping out your window. You may love the fact that you’ve already gone for a jog and snapped up a bagel before 7 am. You've still got the whole day ahead of you. You probably don’t even drink coffee, nor do you need to.

And I may hate you.

Okay. Hate is a harsh word.

Let’s get something straight though. I am not a morning person. I never will be a morning person. And, to be quite honest, I don’t want to be a morning person.

Left to my own devices, I would get up sometime between 10 am and noon and I would stay up until about 3 am. That’s when I’m most awake. That’s when I’m most productive. It’s when all of my creative thrusters are firing. And I’m fine with it. After all, everyone is different and it takes years to discover how to tap into one’s creativity. I’ve finally figured it out, but to what end?

It’s not that I envy morning people.

The problem I have with morning people is that they have somehow set the standard for the way I’m supposed to live and work. Basically, because a handful of analytical eager beaver insomniacs feel the need to seize the day with both hands, I’ve got to drag my groggy self outta bed at the God-forsaken hour of eight o’clock in the morning and into the office to keep them company.

The paradox is that I was hired for my creativity. But instead of tapping into the natural flow of my creativity, I’m expected to pretend for the first half of the day because someone somewhere decided to start the day at an unreasonable hour.

What's wrong with these people?

The really sad thing is that, over the years, I’ve gotten pretty good at it.

So, if nobody’s disappointed with my work and I’m still getting paid, I guess there isn’t really a problem. I guess I'm just venting.

Except I sure would like to sleep in once in awhile.

I guess that’s what vacation days are for.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Once Upon A Time In Anaheim

When I lived in California, it didn’t take much of an excuse to get me out of the house and out to The Happiest Place on Earth.

For seven years I enjoyed my Disneyland annual pass (I took my last pass with me to Colorado in 1998). Since then, nearly every year, I’ve visited friends and family in California at Thanksgiving, usually taking a day to visit the park. For most of this time I was single and I could just sorta drift through the various lands and take in everything from the landscaping to the architecture... the music to the costumes... the shows and signage. I was my own grandpa and, although there was a certain freedom to such aimless wandering, something was missing.

After all, Walt Disney designed Disneyland as a place where parents and their children can come to enjoy shared experiences.

Now I have a wife and a daughter. I always expected we would enjoy Disneyland together but we live a thousand miles away and things are different than I had envisioned.

Last week, I had the opportunity to preview the upcoming Disneyland 50th Anniversary DVD at the Broadmoor Hotel here in Colorado Springs. Forest Rose Productions, a company co-owned by Jan C.J. Jones (a colleague of mine from Pikes Peak Writers), produced it. This Julie Andrews hosted film, directed by Jan's business partner Bob Garner, was a breath of fresh air and I can’t wait to pick up the DVD when it comes out in July. But with all of the hoopla surrounding Disneyland’s 50th anniversary, I find myself again longing to share the park with Lori and Melody.

Sure, we can go at Thanksgiving but rushing through the park during the holidays isn’t the same as really savoring the details.

Lori really wants to go home.

Perhaps I do too.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Customer Service Still Rules

Okay. On Friday, I inadvertently ran the Mustang up the driveway curb at work, just where the driveway curb starts to slope upward. Apparently, this caused my rear passenger-side tire to pinch inward. Pop and squeal! I was out of air before I could put the car in the parking space.

Other than feeling stupid, I wasn’t all that mad about it. Besides, since this "accident," at least two people have told me they’ve don’t the same thing. So now I don't fell that stupid.

Plus, all four tires were only a few months old. Surely they’re under warranty. Right?

So lunch was spent putting on the spare. Side note: How many artists does it take to put a spare tire on a Mustang? Apparently two. Kris (my art department colleague) helped and after that, I dug into my lunch, including a small bowl of ice cream and some extra drinks that Lori dropped off to lift my spirits.

At the end of the day, I drove the Mustang, donut tire and all, to Discount Tire Center. If you’re familiar with Colorado Springs, this particular location can be found on Academy just south of the Citadel Mall.

I rolled the wheel into the lobby. The guy took one look at it, got my name and punched me into the computer.

How much to replace the tire? $15.

Not bad for a $98 tire.

How long did it take? About a half hour. I was able to start my weekend with not much of a detour at all.

I don’t see any reason to get my tires anywhere else.

And you probably thought I was going to rant and rave. Shame on you!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Melody’s First Tooth

Melody’s been walking now for about three weeks and running for perhaps one week.

But on Saturday, while we were heading back to the car from Spring Spree (a downtown Colorado Springs street fair), Lori gave Melody an ice cube. Lo and behold, there was a little tiny tooth poking out.

What does this mean? Well, for one thing, the era of the pacifier (or binky) has come to an end. Lori wants to make sure Melody’s teeth are as straight as can be and that means no more sucking.

It also means that Melody is taking a lot longer to fall asleep (she fights it to no end as it is) and when she wakes up in the middle of the night, there’s no quick solution to get her back to sleep.

For now, Lori has bravely taken on the task of getting Melody to sleep and/or back to sleep but she can’t do it forever so I’m going to have to spell her at some point.

I'm hoping that Melody will get over this quickly and start sleeping like her daddy (through everything).

Maybe then we'll all get some rest.

The Carhart Blog

Well, I've done it. I've gone ahead and started a Carhart blog.

What can be found here? Posts from one Carhart or another, most likely. Probably mostly from me (Paul) because I'm the writer in the family but Lori may post from time to time as well.

I'm sure I'll sound off on things that interest me from Sci-Fi to Disney, graphics to writing and publishing, music to Christianity, books to movies.

What Lori will have to say... well, let me just say that I've learned not to speak for Lori.

We'll probably also share family news and observations about Melody too.

So let's see where this goes...