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.