Thursday, March 17, 2016

November 13, 2008


With this entry, I am bringing this blog to an end. As is obvious from the lack of activity over the past six months, I no longer have the time to write entries and then do the HTML for this site. And after all Innisfree is gone and looking at the blog masthead makes me sad. So I have decided to go back to and continue recording our lives there.

Please visit us at the newly christened House of the FlyingMermaid

I will maintain these pages for the foreseeable future as an archive, given that they contain all the entries since my daughter was born. 

[addendum 3/18/2016 - Moiya, I was unable to maintain that site and so, as I said on the first blog entry in this series, I've reconstructed it here on Some of the material has gotten scrambled with time and some of the photos lost. But I've tried to get the sequence of the posts as near as possible to the originals] 

April 3, 2008

Night of the Living Dad 

Moiya’s a little confused on gender at the moment and so little oddities tend to creep into our conversation. “This is Andrew,” Moiya will say, holding up a doll in pink. “She’s a boy.”  She has another little girl doll, also in pink, which she has dubbed "Baby Jesus". (Cross-dressing Jesus was not a subject covered in Catechism in my day, but perhaps things have changed.)  “Some people are boys”  Moiya remarked apropos of nothing one day last week as we were getting into the car. “And some are persons.” She has a point.

But by far the strangest pronouncement to come out of my offspring’s head of late is her announced intention to raise my father from the dead.

I can only assume that this has something to do with the proximity of Easter and – as with Baby Jesus -- the religious instruction she gets at daycare. Moiya has always been a bit intrigued with my Dad, whose picture hangs in the living room. I believe I’ve written in these pages about her habit of occasionally picking up the phone, talking animatedly at length and then handing it to me saying “It’s your Daddy. Talk to him.”

About two weeks back, I was sitting in the living room and Moiya was looking at Dad’s picture. She’s struggling with the concept of death at the moment. She knows Dad is dead, and I’ve told her that the old roll-top desk she likes to sit at in my room was once his and will one day be hers after I am gone. (I usually hasten to add that this will not transpire until she’s an old, old lady).

So she looked at Dad’s picture and asked “Do you miss your Daddy?” I assured her that I did. Very much.

“That’s ok,” she chirped. “I’m gonna make him not dead.”’

“Umm.. what?”

“Next time we go to his house, I’ll make him not dead.”

I told her that I’d be glad to take her to the cemetery and she was welcome to give it a whirl. What the heck. No harm in trying.

So a few days later, Moiya is looking at my shoes and comments that they need fixing. I agreed that yes, they did need a spot of glue on the soles.

“Well, when I make your daddy undead” she assured me ‘He’ll fix them for you.”

So.. Jesus is the son of a Jewish carpenter and I’m apparently the son of a zombie cobbler. Who knew?

And then last week, as we were driving, Moiya informed me with great solemnity, “Daddy, you’re going to die.” So I said that yes, someday I would die as all things do, and braced myself to be all warm and reassuring. “Uh-huh. You’re gonna die Friday” she continued “and I’m gonna get your desk.”

I love our car conversations.

Moiya went on to reassure me that after I was dead, she would give me her favorite necklace to wear, but that I’d have to give it back when I got not dead. I asked if she was going to make me not dead. And she exclaimed with the long-suffering tone of one addressing the feeble-minded “NO Daddy! I’m already making YOUR Daddy not dead. I can only do ONE!”

Silly me. I asked who was going to make me not dead, and Moiya suggested that I could ask her Mommy to do it.


Mickey Mouse Songs and Cinderella Pants

Moiya has gotten pretty good at using the computer, and I’ve set her up a desktop with shortcuts to all the things she likes to do, along with a folder of songs and film clips that she enjoys. And somewhere in there while we were scouring youtube for goodies, she encountered the theme song from the old Mickey Mouse Club that I grew up with. And so when we were driving and she was bugging me to sing “Bitsy Pider” (Itsy-Bitsy Spider”) and “Old Man Song” (which can either be “This Old Man” or “Old Dan Tucker”, depending on her mood) I began getting requests for the “Mickey Mouse Song”.

And somewhere along the way, she became making up her own songs to sing to me. Collectively they are all known as “Mickey Mouse Songs” for reasons about which I am unclear, as they can be about any topic that passes through her head. “Daddy,” Moiya will say “I’ve got a Mickey Mouse song about cars” or “I’ve got a Mickey Mouse song about trees”. (Only very rarely are they actually about Mickey Mouse, and when they are, the entire song usually consists of shouting “Mickey Mouse!” followed by lots of giggles). The songs can be long or short, though the best ones go on and on. One of my favorites consisted of a long and complex story about the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf and how Spiderman came and saved them all.

But my absolute favorite Mickey Mouse Song consisted of the words “Cinderella pants” intoned over and over for miles, like a mantra. I never did figure out what it was about, but it was surreal enough that if she chose to repeat the performance at a trendy New York locale and bill herself as a performance artist, Moiya could probably make a lot of money.

Cinderella Pants. You can’t make this stuff up. You really can’t.


Our Name is Legion

Our numbers continue to grow after the advent of Mr. Handy and his brother Fred (aka Puppet and Other Puppet). Now when we go driving, I’m also expected to provide voices for multiple entities on the fly, usually (but not confined to) rabbits, bears and babies.

And then there’s Mr. Sun.

For reasons known only to the mind of a three-year-old, my daughter now carries on daily conversations with the sun (who has a deep, booming voice, natch). Mr. Sun has to hear about her day. Mr. Sun has to be introduced to and carry on conversations with the aforementioned bears, rabbits, and occasional baby (you try creating an ongoing conversation between a flaming ball of hydrogen gas and a latex female Baby Jesus whilst traveling at 65 mph in the wee hours of the morning. Go on and try). On a really bad day, we have to talk to Mr. Sun’s baby and Mr. Sun’s Mommy as well. I don’t explain these things. I just report them.

And it’s no good trying to beg off on cloudy days. Moiya will roll down the window and holler so Mr. Sun can find her through the clouds. Hell, I had a hard enough time (well, ok. Mr. Sun did) convincing her that he could come through the window and she didn’t have to keep rolling it up and down so that he could enter and exit the car. Some days Mr. Sun comes into the apartment to see this or that. And yes, she opens the front door to let him out again. I have no idea what the neighbors think.

And then, there’s Pirate Dog. Mom gave Moiya a hand puppet of a dog last time we were there. And of course I had to give him a voice to and for reasons I cannot recall, I made him a pirate (“ARRRR…. I be Pirate Dog, scourge of these ‘ere seven seas”). He came, he went. It was forgotten. I thought.

And now he’s back. Moiya came across Pirate Dog in her toy box a few weeks back, and now he’s a constant companion. Most nights, Moiya insists on having Pirate Dog read her bedtime stories to her. His particular shtick (other than the “ARRRRR…”) is that he is convinced that all of the stories are actually about pirates, and that pirates are hidden in each and every picture if you only look hard enough. The first night, he attempted to convince Moiya that Santa was a pirate (“Lookit ‘is boots! Them be PIRATE boots!”) and that Mrs. Santa was actually a Pirate Queen named Big Nell. The second night he tried to convince Moiya that Strawberry Shortcake is a pirate as well. Which is when I discovered that it’s bloody difficult to read a Strawberry Shortcake story all the way through in a pirate voice.  But it is not as difficult as singing Rock-A-Bye Baby in a pirate voice, which I now must do on a nightly basis.

My life is so weird. I don’t know anybody else who has to stop and go stick a puppet on his hand in order that it can watch his kid poop.

March 22, 2008


Moiya can spell her name now. She called from her Mom’s house to tell me. M-O-I-Y-A. Then she told Mr. Handy. Then she spelled it for Fred. Then for Duck. Then for our cat, Simon. And each of them had to try to spell her name as well, which of course they got wrong. So she would have to spell it again for them. So they could learn. It was pretty cool. And since she is now learning to recognize her letters, last week I decided to see if she could type her name as well. And she did. Needed a little hint as to which one was the “Y”, but she did it. And then she wanted to know how to spell “Dog” and “Andrew” and typed those as well.  This was on the same day that she looked at my digital alarm clock and informed me that it was 3:00 (which it was). Of course the fact that it was three was serendipitous, as she can only identify individual numbers, not any real concept of time. Nevertheless, things are getting pretty interesting.


Remembering Rose Carmine  

It is dangerous, I’ve found, to fall asleep with little people about the house. Nobody warned me of this. And I suppose that I should have know instinctively. Lord knows that when Moiya was a baby, I never slept unless she did, and even then I would awaken at the slightest sound from her crib. But she got bigger and mobile and at time almost seems like a real person. When she isn’t possessed of Satan, we have real conversations. And so I slipped into the naive assumption that she would not do something stupid whilst my attention was elsewhere.

Since then, of course, I’ve learned. At this point, if the apartment is suddenly quiet, I immediately call out to Moiya and demand to know what exactly she is doing., If she answers “nothing”, I dial 911.

But this was earlier on, when we still lived at the house after Jacq had departed and I was effectively a full-time single parent. And I was stressed. And tired. And it had been a quiet day. And I fell asleep while reading.  Big mistake.

At some point, as I began to awaken, the first thing I became aware of was that Moiya was sitting on my lap with her face very close to mine, grinning.

The second thing I became aware of as my eyes started to focus was that she was covered in blood. Head, hands, hair… everything.

This had the effect of awakening me rather more quickly than I might otherwise. And as the main part of my brain geared up into emergency mode, a small voice at the back of my mind offered up the opinion that human blood isn’t usually pink.

Mercurochrome pink.

As we don’t have Mercurochrome in the house (do they still make it, I wonder?) I pressed Moiya as to what exactly she had been into, getting the usual “nothin’” as a reply. And so I followed the trail.  There were pink hand prints all over the house.. on the walls.. on the banister… up the stairs. And straight to my old school desk, where Moiya had discovered my old box of Dr. Martins concentrated liquid watercolors. And discovered the full bottle of rose carmine. The bottle that was full because nobody in their right mind would ever use such a ghastly color.

Found it. Opened it. Poured it out. Played in the puddle.

I eventually got it off her and off the walls (thank God and Sherwin-Williams for semi-gloss). But the desk and the floor around it will be pink forever.

And then there’s the dog.

Moiya had been loving on the doggie. And so right in the middle of her back, on Wicker’s light sand-colored coat, there was a perfect, bright pink hand print. Wicker looked like nothing so much as a tiny war pony for some sort of gay dwarf Indian. 

I ended up leaving it. I figured the dog would mind the bath more than the decoration. And you never know when you might need a gay Indian war pony.

March 15, 2008


I miss Lanesville and Corydon, where we used to live. I try not the think about it, and don’t very often. But every once it awhile it will hit me as I’m out driving and see something that brings it back. I miss driving around with Moiya after school and looking for cows. I miss horses running in their pastures. I miss hay-baling season. I miss the fact that the clerks at our grocery store used to know Moiya by name and would come by to say “hi”. I miss the town square and the band concerts that were held there on hot summer nights. 

The last time Moiya and I went to Corydon, just before the move, we walked into the middle of a reenactment of “The Battle of Corydon.” when confederate raiders occupied the town and had to be driven off by the militia. Streets were blocked off as folks dressed in Confederate garb galloped up and down the main thoroughfare haranguing the crowds and letting off the occasional blast from their muzzle loaders and horse pistols. The crowds loved it, and Moiya was transfixed by the pretty horses and the exotic strangeness of it all. Of course, when one of the “raiders” galloped up and actually spoke to her, she scrambled up me like a monkey and would have perched on my head had I not stopped her at shoulder level. After that we retired to the safety of Baddy Books and viewed the proceedings from the second floor window of the children’s section, nestled amongst the giant teddy bears that keep guard.

You can’t buy memories like that. Or the image in my minds’ eye of Moiya jumping out of the car beside a huge field of contentedly grazing moos, only to have the entire herd flee in terror to the other side of the pasture. The sight of these huge beasts running pell-mell from my tiny child amuses me still. 

There will be other memories, of course. Already are. We're in a good location. We've found a little park near the aprtment. And the new library is lovely and much larger. There’s a waterfall indoors and a fountain outside where we tarry every Saturday and dip our hands in the cold water. There’s a drinking fountain that we climb up several times to drink from even if we aren’t thirsty.. just because we can. And there are puzzles to work, and a tank of tropical fish. And of course lots of books... many more and newer books than the old library had.

But I still miss Corydon.

February 27, 2008

In Memorium 

They are burying a good man tomorrow, and I won’t be there. My second ex-father-in-law (it’s bad when you have to start numbering them) passed away Tuesday after a long period of illness and Alzheimer’s.  I’m sure that all the trite truisms of “it’s a mercy” hold true for Bob, as they did for my Dad. But as with Dad... damn but I’m going to miss the guy.

Bob Beck was nothing like me. He was hearty and hard-working, and an avid outdoorsman. He ran. He kayaked. He went white water rafting. But we were both bound together as liberals in families of staunch Republicans. And he was the only man I’ve ever met who loathed parties and human gatherings of all types as much as I do. When the Beck/Shields clan used to hold their annual (and obligatory) Christmas festivities, Bob and I would stake out the most isolated and forlorn corner in the place and hide.  Literally. No small talk. We balanced our paper plates, ate our food with heads down, and rode out the terror until escape was finally possible.

When Karen and I were dating, neither of us had a car. So I used to ride the bus with her way out to south Louisville, and then walk her home the few miles to her parents’ house. After about a month of this, Bob was always “running an errand” just as I was leaving. And of course it "would have been foolish" not to drive me back to the bus stop. While running his vague errand.

One night he “forgot” to pull over at the bus stop and drove me all the way downtown to my little apartment. He “forgot” a lot, like that.

Kindness isn’t something I expect from outsiders. And it isn’t something I forget.

I debated much of last night and most of today going to the funeral. I reasoned that I probably would not be able to get away from work and arrive at the service on time, but that was just rationalizing. The truth is, I don’t think anybody there would really want to see me. (It’s an odd feeling as I write this to think of the number of places I once felt safe and at home and where I am no longer welcome. ) It would be awkward, rather than comforting, I think. A funeral is about friends and family. I am neither.

Still… I debated it. It seemed I owed it as a mark of respect for a good man’s passing. At one point I wondered in my head what Bob would do.

And I could almost hear him say in his funny, high-pitched voice, “Well Mike.. I’d hide out back till it was over.”

And I laughed. Damn, but I miss him.

February 24, 2008

It Begins 

It’s the most amazing thing.

When I left off this blog we were mumbling through the alphabet song together on the drive to work. Now Moiya is able to recite all her letters, count nearly to 20 (during potty training, I told her she could have as many jelly beans as she could count) and this past week, we’ve begun to recognize the shapes of the letters for the first time. This is huge. This is amazing! Once you know the shapes of the letters, the sounds aren’t far behind. And once you know the sounds and shapes, words begin to form.

Every night we sit down with our Baddy Books (Moiya is perfectly capable of saying “library”. But there seems to be a comfort in the childish forms. We still go and get Baddy Books every Saturday). Once I read them to her. Then Moiya “read” them to me (interesting stories, those). This past week, we started just scanning for pages with extra large text. I pick out a letter and she has to find it.

Not my game.. hers.

She loves “M” because, as she explains “It means Moiya”. Interestingly, she has some trouble distinguishing it from "W". But for reasons unknown, she can always nail “X”.  And we’ve seen progress in just this one week, by being creatively silly; We make fish faces for “O”, “C” (which Cookie Monster taught us “Looks like a cookie with a bite taken out of it” usually results in our singing “C is for Cookie” from Sesame Street. And after “S” became “sneaky, snakey Ssssssss” she latched on to that.

It’s hard to describe watching this in action.. and Moiya knows that this is Big Stuff. It's great to see the glow of pride on her face when she's showing off what she knows.

February 16, 2008

Mr. Handy 
Some little while back, in an attempt to amuse my daughter, I drew 2 dots on my hand and made it “talk” to her, a la Senior Wences.  Had I known what I was starting, I might have reconsidered. But there seemed little harm in it at the time.

Now, several months later, Mr. Handy is an enduring part of our lives… Along with his brother Fred, and recently  Duck.  Moiya has some difficulty distinguishing Fred from Handy, which the two of them find deeply insulting since, as they life to tell her, they look nothing alike.  Usually she refers to Handy as “puppet” and Fred as “other puppet” which seems to satisfy everyone all round. (Unfortunately, Moiya now expects anything and everything to talk. Daddy drew the line when Moiya wanted to hold a conversation with his ears).

We like Handy, I suspect, rather more than we like Daddy, which is understandable. Handy doesn’t fuss (usually) and Daddy was dubbed "Grumpy Daddy" during the recent Unemployment Interval. I rarely have a phone conversation with my daughter anymore where she doesn’t ask at some point to talk to Puppet. Handy has to come and see her poop. Handy has to watch her eat. Handy has to watch her get dressed. Handy has to watch her dance. (Occasionally Handy has to dance as well.. though usually it is Fred because it seems he’s the better dancer.) One morning I was dropping Moiya off at daycare when she called “Have a good day, puppet!!” as she was walking away.  I’ve no idea what the people at the daycare make of all this, if they even notice. We get some odd looks at the grocery, though.

The other day, Handy and Fred were employed to get Moiya to do her homework. Her teacher sent home a sheet on which Moiya was to practice tracing the numbers one through four, as well as her name. Handy was instructed to go get Fred. Whenever Moiya calls for “Puppet” to show Handy something, it is usually followed by a command for Handy to go and fetch his brother and tell him all about it. Fred's function is to be the eternal cynic, challenging Moiya's ability to do whatever feat she is about to attempt, and then reacting with vaudevillian displays of shock, amazement and surprise when she succeeds – which makes Moiya laugh.

So Fred had to be fetched and Handy had to then explain what Moiya was preparing to do (love is carrying on a five-way conversation, four of whose participants are yourself). And Fred responded with his usual "No way, man. Ah don’ thin’ you can do that!” (Fred sounds a lot like Chech Marin... Not for any particular reason.He just does.)

Now this is pure gold, because it turns out that Moiya will do just about anything to prove Fred wrong. The volume of vegetables we ingest each night while Fred keeps count just so she can crow about him being wrong would astonish you. Bless Fred.

And so we wrote our numbers and our letters for about the next hour. Fred would have to hide while Handy watched and Moiya wrote. Then Handy would have to call Fred, who would come hopping back to express utter amazement at Moiya’s work. (for reasons unknown, Handy just levitates, while Fred – lacking legs – kind of bounces along. Which is giggly fun when he bounces up Moiya so he can talk to her face to face).

By the time we were done, we had an extensive ritual: Handy was calling Fred. Fred was being amazed. And Fred in turn was having to bounce off to find Duck (who doesn't talk and likes to eat everything, but is especially fond of hair), who would fly in, pick a different color of crayon for the next letter, spit it into Moiya’s hand with a loud "ptooey!” and fly off again. Repeat.

We got it done. We had fun. Sometimes life is good.

Weird, but good.