Only Way is Dapper Ways

gingergrizzlyIt is not easy to look this great. It takes years to find the right diet, plastic surgeon, fitness program, but more importantly, the right hair dresser.  And I have been doing the latter wrong all these years of my adulthood.

My hair has been messed up with no clear direction and simply trying to get some styling done has proven to be a utter challenge.

Like so many trend setters before me, men have gone to high street hair salons, operated by wonderful women who had or has little understanding for a man’s desire to look awesome.  I need to look like a lumberjack, fresh from the mountains, and still rock an office doe that will make my male colleagues stare in amazement wondering who this awesome dude is.

The answer has been simple and right in front of me, but I haven’t dared to sit my feet in a barbers since I was 9 years old.

Back then, in the late 70’s, I went to the local barber in my home town.  The “barbers” had no training whatsoever and probably learned how to cut hair on Barbie dolls, sheep or blind folded.  They knew one cut, and if you asked for another, they frowned and gave you the standard cut.

Because I was 9 and had been running around all day, I was rather tired.  As a result, I started to doze of in the barber’s chair.  For the record … BIG MISTAKE!

haircut misfortune
obviously not me – just taken from Internet

I most have tilted my head slightly as the older (70+ year old) barber was cutting, and my fringe ended up with an increase of 2 inches from left to right.  It looked as if I had a half open curtain across my forehead, resembling characters from “Dumb Dumber”.

As a 9 year old boy, that is not cool.  I knew I would get a severe beating from other boys at school, or at least be humiliated in front of my 3rd grade crush. Utter devastation loomed.

I begged my mother to correct the mistakes, either by cutting the fringe straight or buying me a cool woollen hat, despite it being mid summer and 80+F degrees.

Years later, the trauma was still haunting me, when Felicia (3rd grade crush) laughed at my fringe that had been corrected by my mum, and was not 3 inches above my eye brows and none-existing.

Being happily married, and only other dad’s to impress at local school, I decided it was time to find a suitable barber.  You see them all over and I’ve sent my son there a few times with ok results.

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 17.37.16I found this cool place, Dapper Ways, and booked a time.  I had no idea what the different options were (gentleman’s cut, etc.) but that was part of the experience.  Dapper Ways has a cool interior and something seemed right.

Upon arriving, Nick greeted me.  He happens to be the owner and carries this amazing beard, and arms covered in tattoos.  I was greeted with a smile and took my place in the barber’s chair.  The next 40 mins was an experience I had not tried before.

This dude knows how to cut hair and beard.  He was using the buzzers, scissors and blade razor.  I had warm shaving foam on my face, hot towel and he even edged my sides to perfection.  Man, this was awesome.

I looked sharp.  I had a hair doe that made me feel like a million dollars, and Nick had been a true gentleman when doing his thing.  I can only say, you gotta try and visit Nick.

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 17.36.54This was absolutely the best hair dresser experience in decades, when I tried to impress a cute girl who was a hair dresser and learning Italian … another blog post entirely.

It was so good my wife smiled and winked at me, and pinched my left butt cheek.  My co-workers parted in front of me like Moses at the Red Sea, and the guys were asking what happened.  OK, slightly exaggerated, but it was bloody cool.

A few weeks later I took my son, and Nick did another splendid job.  Please note, my son has Down Syndrome, and sitting still is an Olympic challenge, but there was no moving around and just cool attitude towards getting his hair done.

3 thumbs up - Go visit Nick and Dapper Ways!

Icicles and hairdryers

Ok, I normally don’t use foul language in my blogs, but to be fair, 2018 had a pretty fucked up way of saying welcome to my family.  Seriously, we hadn’t been spending many hours in the new year until she decided to kick me in the nuts – smack in the pubic bone!

Thanks to digital streaming on the AppleTV, we missed the ball dropped live.  Apple apparently decided that there’s a lack, so despite stating ‘live’ on the screen, it is actually delayed by almost 2 minutes.  I suspect that is false advertisement, but we somewhat say the switch to 2018 twice.

Anyway, a few hours after the famous Waterford Crystal ball dropped, we moved our ageing corpses to the beds.  Gone are the days of drinking all night, dancing like crazy on the tables, mingling with strangers in a smelly night club or having to clean the house from alcohol left-overs, smoke and confetti.  That is the curse and benefit of being responsible adults, and also the fact that kids give zero fucks about hangovers.

While zombie walking through the house, more asleep than awake, I turned the heating down … or so I thought.  You see, we live on the East Coast, and this happens to be winter. So, it gets a little chilly outside and the last few days had been sub-zero.  If I didn’t know better, I would say that we were about to reenact “Day After Tomorrow” scenes and experience arctic super deep freeze.

Next morning as I stumbled towards my coffee machine to get a caffeine kick, I noticed that the ground floor was chilly.  Did I mention that my absolute favorite coffee brand i ‘Black Riffle Coffee Company‘ – they kick arse.

The thermometer showed 52F so I instantly knew something was wrong.  It’s not like I’m a natural born plumber, but when the baseboard pipes are colder than my freezer, then something is off.

Thankfully the heating in the basement and 2nd floor were both working, so I used those areas to heat up the rest of the house.  I spent the remainder of 1 January 2018 heating up the baseboard pipes using hot towels, hair dryers and my Scandinavian charm … nothing worked.

hotshotNo other option than called in the cavalry in the form of the local plumber.  He showed up with what looked like an oversized car battery jumpstart kit.  Two larger clamps were attached to the copper pipes, and 2 hours later he had managed to thaw the pipes.  Heating was coming back 🙂

It takes a big man to admit when he has made mistakes, and I’m no big man!  That said, I had accidentally turned off the heating when going to bed, and with the sudden drop to arctic climate, the still water in the pipes decided to freeze.

The plumber that came to help was top drawer.  An amazing customer service and fair priced I suppose.

I can honestly say that this was not the way I had hoped for 2018 to start, but at least we have heat, food, each other and 363 days to get back to Christmas.

Not like in the movies

Morning y’all – it was the morning we have all been waiting for for the past 9 weeks.  Kids are returning to school.  Mums and dads will have all the time in the World to relax, do adult stuff, sit on sofa, and smile with freshly brewed coffee while kids are off to learn the common core … which by the way sucks!  There, I said it!

Reality couldn’t be further from the imaginary story TV ads and movies will all have us believe, which shows every morning as a magical experience.  Kids come flying down the stairs singing Mary Poppins, fully dressed in latest fashion, laughing at each other, hugging and kissing us (parents) and ready to take on the day; eager to jump on the yellow big bus to school and learn stuff.

To most new parents, I hate to burst your bubble, but that shit only happens in fairy tales!

welcome-back-to-schoolOur back to school “adventure” actually started the evening before, with a quiet family post Labor Day dinner.

Obviously it was rather chaotic dinner as we also tried to go through the endless check list for each of our three kids and planning a few trips to the local Walmart.  You can always trust Walmart to have everything needed for school start. But seriously, how many pencils, glue sticks, erasers, tissues, zip lock bags does a 2nd grader need?

The conspirator in me would state that the class teacher is stockpiling supplies and selling them on eBay to support some shady activities.  I do not have evidence of such a crime 🙂

Showers, clothes laid out, school bags packed and alarm clocks set.  We were ready … not!

Sure enough, on the day of days, the kids are not eager to get out of bed.  All summer they woke before the sun even got eyes, and now they can barely walk.  It’s like a small hoard of zombies walking/crawling down the stairs, uttering simple commands “fooooood”.  All while barely opening their eyes.

Once food had been somewhat consumed, it was time to get dressed.  Suddenly the kids had to look at the weather, wind in the trees, mood rings, color matching, spider nests, migration of butterflies, just to make sure that they would send right impressions on this day, day of days.

T-10 min before the front of our house would look like Grand Central, with three buses stopping our three kids, going to three different schools.  I did consider calling the local cops to get them to direct traffic, but figured the bus company had the routine down to a fine art.

T-1 min and now my wife has gone from understanding Sound of Music nanny style, to female version of John Wick minus the dead dog and killings … but calm and assertive, shouting directions to the kids to get their a*** in gear and run to bus stop.

I calmly walked to the curb with my son, a few minutes before the bus was scheduled to arrive.  15 minutes after the scheduled time, and still no bus, it started to rain.  But, it was first day of school and delays would be expected.

A further 15 minutes and I was not too sure I could blame it on back-to-school-traffic.  After a further 5 minutes I called the bus company, not to bite their incompetence heads off, but merely to state that I was patiently waiting, only to be told that the bus driver went on a road trip and forgot to swing his bus my way.  Thankfully he was sending a spare bus.

Low and behold, the spare bus came up the road, only to drive past our house, but the driver did waive.  at T+55 min, I rang the bus company again, explained that driver waived at me and never returned.  A few screams were heard in the background, as the guy on the phone shouted at the missing driver.  Magically, the bus arrived 3 mins later.

Day 1 of back-to-school was finally kicked off, now off to work 🙂

Lost in the Wild

IMG_4851We are not the Robinson family, although we do like to explore. We try to experience something new on our new country, when we leave the house, ever since we moved here.  It has been an absolutely fantastic adventure, despite some minor less fantastic moments – but let’s not dwelve on the darker times.

In recent months, we have talked a lot about getting more familiar with the great outdoors.  We live in the mountains, next to a huge state park, and pride ourselves of having joined the great scouts organisations for both girls and boys.  As such, we must learn and explore!

Last week we finally build up the courage to face nature head on, and go into the great wilderness – well armed with bug sprays, water, pocket knife and of course iPhone.

We found what we thought would be a good beginner and family trail, in the majestic Bear Mountains which is over 5000 acres of trees, lakes, rivers, wild life that will kill you and of course animals.

For this virgin trek, we even brought our loco brown 2 year old Labrador.  She hates other dogs, gets extremely hyper when she meets people and pulls like a bull.  It would be good for her to burn some energy and at the same time train walking on a leash like a normal dog.

The family SUV took us to the starting point and we prepared ourselves for a “short” trek around in the woods.  My dear wife sprayed all of us with insect repellent.  With the amount she used, mosquitos quickly became an endangered species in a 5 mile radius.

Hi Ho Hi Ho – off we go … we are family … we will survive” were tunes that we spontaneously started singing while climbing our first little ledge.  I personally prefer the soundtrack from “Sound of Music” but perhaps not relevant at that very moment.

The girls climbed large rocks, ran into the wilderness, looked at all insects and screamed by the sight of most insects.  It was a true family bonding moment.  Our son was less impressed as her prefers so watch movies about outdoors, and not being inside it.

Marking a tree in case we don't make it back!
Marking a tree in case we don’t make it back!

I felt awesome.  Putting my scouting experience to use and explained random things to the girls, hoping they would pay somewhat attention.  I showed them the markers on the trees, showing the trail we were on (little did I know that these would become essential for our survival 2 hours later) and was skipping along the path in my trekking sandals.

In hindside, none of us had selected the best footwear for this outing, but we still managed and took our time as we scaled various cliffs and streams.  We had fun and that was important.

As we got deeper and deeper into the wilderness, we encountered less and less people.  They obviously knew something we didn’t or had better trial maps.

2 hours in we finally met another family.  They asked us for direction and we joked that we were heading back to the car and pointed towards a wider trial.  It was only when their lead scout shared his map that I realised that we were slightly of course.  In fact, had we stayed on the trail, we would’ve ended up 10 miles from our starting point and car.

somewhere here
somewhere here

I tried not to panic in the presence of our kids, who all looked at me for guidance.  A nervous giggle emerged from my throat and I proudly pointed towards the path we just came from and exclaimed with a trembling voice “we are going back on the trial we just came from“.  Inside my head I as screaming “we are lost and will die!

Thankfully the kids did not argue and simply turned around.  They just turned, faced the path and started walking while humming.

The good thing was, we knew the path challenges already, and we could easily find our way back to the car as we followed the trial markers. I told you they were important!

Soon we could hear cars again and suddenly I spotted our car in the parking lot, and we had one bar coverage on cell network. It was a joyous and emotional moment being back in civilisation.

Part of me doubted my tracking skills, but my fatherly GPS senses kicked in and navigated us back to safety.  My wife actually kissed the car and hugged all of us with tears rolling down her face.

What did we learn from this family bonding adventure?

  • My youngest daughter knows how to pee in the wild
  • We need to wear better shoes
  • Would be ideal to have a trial map and compass
  • Bring more water and perhaps snacks
  • Prepare to be lost better!
  • Bring pen and paper to write letters home
  • The loco Labrador can actually work nicely (probably exhausted too)

All in all, it was a great afternoon spent with the family and we are absolutely returning to the wild in the near future.

Winter is Coming with a Body Slam

signThe winter had been pretty mild.  We’ve had a fair share of freezing my butt of cold days and nights, and some days my eyes froze.  But, nothing severe like 2-3 feet of snow in 12 hours or a sudden avalanche from the nearby mountain.

Deep inside my rather shallow body, I had a suspecion that we would get absolutely creamed and dumped on.  We couldn’t just get a mild winter with a few inches of snow.  I needed to use my snow blower, and at least 100 lbs of road salt (from my 1000lbs stash), to proudly be able to say “winter is coming!“.

When they decided to consult with a rodent, the annual groundhog day, I was not surprised when the furry critter predicted another six weeks of winter.  He too knew winter was coming.  I must admit, asking a small furry dude to predict the weather is rather odd, but hey, stranger things happens.

It was rather pleasant when we had a 62F winter day, and I could drive with the windows down.  Little did I know that winter was indeed coming.  The weather guys did warn the population, but when you sit in a t-shirt, listening to Shakira, you can’t really take them seriously.  Surely winter is over!

Later that evening, snow did cover the night sky, and temperature dropped.  By 4.30am we received a call from the school, saying school would be closed – followed by a number of emails and text messages.  All stating “winter is coming!“.

dayaftertomorrowEarly morning and first light, showed how busy Mother Nature had been.  Everything was covered in a thick layer of snow, and it did not look like stopping.  It just kept coming and coming.  As if Mother Nature wanted to make a point “it ain’t over until I say so”.

Mid afternoon the snow finally stopped, although a rather brisk breeze kept blowing snow around.  Winds were howling and my eyeballs got frostbites when I peeked out the door.

I knew I had to deal with it.  I prefer not to engage in cardio exercises when it is this cold, but when you have a 200 feet driveway, and it is not electrical heated, someone has to clear it.  AND, that someone is obviously me.

All three kids had “sudden” symptoms of fever or coughing, and informed me they were unavailable for child labour.  My wife had to work (new job and trying to impress the boss) and my loyal brown Labrador was pretending to be paralysed.  All in all, a sorry bunch of heroes.

I dressed up for my arctic experience and started my 30″ snow blower.  This beast could take on anything; jaw crunching snow eaters and strong caterpillar track.  We were going to conquer this together.

clarkThe size of the task became apparent when I opened the garage door in best Clark Griswold style.  The snow was about a foot deep, and had completely erased my landscaped garden and driveway.  It was there somewhere.  I just had to find it. … mission accepted!

Snow was flying all over as my snow monster was eating through all the snow, trying to find the surface.  We were in this together.  The red paint was gradually being covered with snow and icicles, and so was my beard.

2 hours later and I had cleared the driveway.  Well, there was still a thin layer of snow on the tarmac, which at this point was starting to freeze.  A few times I almost lost my footing, but mostly recovered while letting out a few yelps.  It was manly yelps in case you wondered.

As I was preparing for one final turn, a small pivot with my snow blower, my legs literally disappeared underneath me.  It was like watching a movie in slow motion, and felt even slower.

I made a few graceful attempts to recover the inevitable, only to suddenly lift off the ground and body slam into the ground.  Not a hope of bracing the fall with my arms, as I for some reason decided to hold on to the bloody snow blower.

The wind was knocked out of my chest, and as I laid there looking at the tarmac, I melted the ice with my breath.  I couldn’t even call out in pain and was stuck for several seconds.  It was pretty clear that body slamming 200lbs of Scandinavian bacon does some impact, and the pain quickly shared that observation as I could feel a shooting pain in my chest.

I’m not a doctor or expert, but it was obvious that I had fractured or bruised a rib or two.  But, in true manly spirit, I got up, and continued my work … at least for a further 23 seconds.

At that point I did what all men does.  I walked to the porch, sat down and waiting for anybody in my family to notice me and give me some sympathy.  That failed, and after 12 minutes of self indulged suffering, I went back to spray salt on the fecking ice.  That’s how you deal with it.  You spray salt on that shit.

Now I’m praying and hoping that winter is truly over.  I’ve had enough of this white stuff.  Winter did come! Mother Nature kicked my arse, and big boys do cry.

wintercame