I want a hippogriff! And I shall name it Buckbeak. I like saying Buckbeak.
I will have many, many good books to read while I am recovering from having my wisdom teeth removed. I'm saving all my new reads until then, so I have something to look forward to.
Miles to go before I sleep... I have late meetings today.
Oh, damn. Some guy down the isle from me just ripped a LOUD fart. He muttered a quick, "ohmygod" before everyone in the vicinity started cracking up.
"Is it getting better,
Or do you feel the same?
Does it make it easier on you, now.
You've got someone to blame."
U2 - "One"
2003 - Sabbatical chickie.
2002 - Killing an hour.
2001 - Michael's departure to Boot Camp. God, that was three years ago?!?
June 10, 2004
Cool, I can talk about it now.
A while ago I hinted at a really cool Father's Day gift that I had planned for Calvin. Marie and I being the weirdos that we are, we couldn't wait until it was actually Father's Day to give it to him. Actually, I co-blame Marie when it was really mostly my fault, and she was just willing to go along with it. If she had put her foot down and said, "No, we wait until Father's Day," I would have managed. I've mentioned that particular fault of mine, to be so eager to unveil the surprise that I wind up doing so weeks (sometimes months) ahead of the event/holiday/ what have you. Hey, at least I got it in the same month this time. Only eleven days ahead of schedule. Not bad, for me.
Some backstory. The celebration of Father's Day is, I think, more important to me than to Calvin. His parenting skills just stem from him doing what he does, he doesn't stop and ponder what would win him the Father of the Year award or anything. I have lived a fatherless life, and so in the observation of how he just IS a Dad, I am very inclined to be appreciative of him. The kids are, too... it's not just me insisting to them, "Hey, your Dad is great!" They already thought so, without my input. So they enjoy getting on board with my (sometimes weird) ideas for how to demonstrate our appreciation.
In the whole giving vs. receiving thing, I am WAY more about the giving (I meant it when I said I just wanted to order stuff off my Amazon wishlist for my birthday, Calvin, so put your guilt away). I start thinking of "what to do" for people - birthdays, Christmas, Valentine's, our anniversary, Father's Day, etc. - months ahead of time. For example, I already know what I'm getting him for his birthday. Which is in October. And Marie got her sixteenth-birthday truck, as you know from the blog, in June. Her birthday's in September. We just couldn't wait, and hey, now she has the whole summer to practice driving, so she can drive herself to school sometime in her Junior year.
Anyawy, I came up with the Father's Day gift idea back in April. I was thinking of one of the well-received gifts we gave him several years ago - a collection of photographs, matted and framed, that I'd taken of the kids at the park. They're still hanging in our entryway. I wanted to do something along those lines, but not exactly the same thing. I just knew that I wanted to somehow capture the nostalgia that Calvin feels over Michael and Marie's childhood, the pride he feels about both of them now that they've grown, and commemorate the milestones that are happening in both of their lives right now.
Calvin and I have also been talking about updating the "artwork" in our game room, with something classier than the neon-lit stuff we've got in there now (huh, I should do another "this is what the house looks like now" entry - it's changed since that one). Which caused a bell to go off in my head. I started pondering the idea of getting portraits of the kids done - drawings or paintings instead of photographs. So I started looking around on the internet... and came up with artists that will "paint" you in a sitting for $2000. And studios that will scan your photographs and turn them into a print that "looks like" a black-and-white drawing, for $800. And other scenarios that didn't seem too likely to me.
A chance Googling lead me to Ethan Ledden of Ethrian.com. And I actually got goosebumps, people. Possibly because I'm a dork, but more probably because I just knew that this was exactly what I was looking for. Ethan takes your photographs, and from them creates hand-drawn pencil portraits. I looked through the sample work he has displayed on his website (and is it just me, or does the existence of a well-structured website make you more likely to trust the quality of a person's/company's work?), and immediately starting thinking about what pictures I would send to him.
I sent him an e-mail asking for more information about his methods, timeframes, the kinds of pictures he prefers to work with, etc. He responded right away (another brownie point) and was most helpful. We batted a few ideas back and forth, thinking about individual portraits, or possibly taking two separate pictures of them and creating a single drawing. But I still wanted to have a "then-and-now" type of arrangement. So I asked him if he could do a sort of montage, with two individual pictures of Michael and Marie as they are today, and a single picture that I have of them together as small children. He was very enthusiastic about the idea, so I sent off a deposit and the pictures that I'd had in mind.
Less than a week later, he send me a scan of the three pictures, sized and arranged with the pictures of Michael and Marie as they are today as the primary focus of the piece, and a smaller inset of the two of them as children. I tell you what, when I opened that file, it brought tears to my eyes. I loved it so much that I printed a copy of it and it's tacked to my cubicle wall as I type this. I immediately fired off a "This is EXACTLY what I was looking for!!" reply, and then started to worry about how I was going to keep my mouth shut about this until Father's Day. My immediate solution? Tell my boss, my co-workers, Calvin's sister, Michael and Lilly, Heather... pretty much everybody but Calvin. And it helped. A little.
About a week after receiving the original scan, Ethan sent me a scan of the drawing, still incomplete, to make sure I was happy with how it was turning out. I clarified a couple of details with him, gave him my heartfelt blessing to continue, and sent off the remainder of his fee. Which, considering the fact that a) the montage was a type of drawing he'd never done before; b) it was of four subjects; and c) he was spending several weeks DRAWING it, was exceptionally reasonable.
Finally, I received an e-mail from Ethan saying that the drawing was complete, and he was putting it in the mail. Two days after that, I arrived at home to discover a canister waiting for me on the kitchen table. A couple days shy of a month after my first e-mail exchange with him, I had the drawing in my hands. I kid you not, folks, the word "SQUEE!" actually passed my lips. I high-tailed it up to Marie's room to open it with her (Calvin was on the couch and eyeballing me like I was a madwoman). Once in her room, I popped the end off the canister, pulled out the drawing, and unrolled it with a flourish. Marie and I both whispered, "Oh, wow," in unison. It was just... remarkable. I just couldn't - can't, still - believe how well it turned out.
The next day I took the drawing to a nearby Michael's to have it matted and framed. I tell you what, it was HARD for me to leave it there with them. I just kept picturing something happening to it, and I damn well know I would have CRIED if something had. But it didn't. That took two weeks, and yesterday I got a call at lunchtime saying it was ready.
Again with the "squee!" My friends at TUS would not approve.
Michael's did a fabulous job (but GACK, I had no idea the cost of framing and matting). It turned out just perfect, and once framed the drawing took on a whole new element. I drove home and dropped it off in Marie's room, now even further convinced that Calvin would be getting an early Father's Day.
After work, Marie and I went to see a 7:00 showing of Harry Potter. Going to the movies with Marie is always a blast - I immediately revert back to fifteen years old. Calvin was in no way, shape, or form interested in seeing it, so it was girl's night out for us. Sitting in the theater and waiting for the movie to start (VERY uncrowded - I highly recommend mid-week movies), we called up Calvin's sister's to wish her son a happy birthday. They weren't home - come to find out later that Marie's cell phone comes up on caller ID with X(f)'s name (she pays for Marie's cell), so Calvin's sister just didn't pick up... and then immediately called him asking, "Why is She calling me?". Anyway, I sang Happy Birthday To You (cha cha cha) on their voicemail, which should cause the nephew to blush. Heh.
The movie was fabulous, of course, though it did leave a lot of details out, which I was trying to explain to Marie afterwards. It will be interesting to see how they deal with the Quiddich World Series game in "Goblet of Fire". "Prisoner" was a lot darker than the previous two, and I know the series gets darker still from here on out. I gave my hardback copy of "Order of the Phoenix" to Lilly, so one of my birthday purchases will be the paperback. It's not out until August, but the fun will be in the pre-ordering, forgetting all about it, and then having it show up on my doorstep, all unexpected.
Anyway. We got home at about nine-thirty, and Calvin was playing DJ in front of the stereo. Marie gauged his mood to be "just the right amount of warm-fuzzy", so I got the picture from her room while she distracted Calvin. I heard him cracking up, and peeked over the banister to see Marie striking poses and saying, "Hey, lookit me!" so I could put the picture on the kitchen table without him seeing. I told Calvin to close his eyes and took his hand. He pulled back, and said, "Are you about to disappoint yourself by giving me the gift early?" To which I responded, "I had no such expectations upon myself." "Oh, okay then," he replied.
Marie stood by, grinning away. I lead him over to the table, counted to three, and told him to open his eyes. He looked down, saw the picture, and stood there for a long, long moment. He didn't say anything at all at first, but the coolest smile spread over his face. It was bittersweet and nostalgic and proud and a little sad. Then, "Wow. That's really, really good." And then, "Hey! I recognize that picture," regarding the inset of Michael and Marie as kids. And, "He got them exactly right. Wow." Marie did her traditional, and infamous, "Look at me!", as she does when faced with any photographic situation.
I asked him, "Do you love it?" He turned to me and had tears in his eyes, and gave me a long hug. Then he turned to hug Marie, and she said, "Aww, Daddy!" when she saw the look on his face.
And then I totally ruined the moment by exclaiming, "Yes! I win! I made him cry!" It was a dumbass thing to say, but Calvin knew what I meant. I wanted to give him a really moving gift, and it was. I asked him if it would have been better to keep it until Father's Day, and then take him out to some fancy dinner, and then present him with the wrapped picture, but he said, "No, this was great." So, yay! Still no expectations that I learn to make myself wait. If I keep this up, the day will come when we'll be having Christmas in July.
We took down the photographs on the wall opposite the foot of the stairs, and hung the new picture. Then we spent the rest of the evening wandering around and looking at the plethora of family pictures that inhabit the walls of the rest of the house ("I don't want them to lose that sparkle they have in their eyes, that light that little kids have," he said, looking at the kids' childhood pictures. "We all do when we grow up," I replied. "No all of us," he said, pointing to a picture of me when I was little, sitting on my mother's lap.).
It's obvious when people enter our home just what is the most important to us. Our family.
Here's the original pictures I sent to Ethan:
And here's the finished drawing:
The photos don't do it justice. I highly recommend Ethan's work. Go forth and send him lots of business!
Comments on this entry? Head on over to Colloquial!