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Friday, June 22, 2012

I'd let him turn this in as an assignment, if he paid me.

I was playing around with a type-writer I got at a garage sale and this came out. How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Jackson Beers The first thing you need to realize is that I'm not a bad guy, I just get carried away by my ideas, which sometimes aren't very good. For example, one time I wanted to see if a kite was strong enough to lift a dog. The problem is that we don't have a dog, so I tested my plan on my little sister. It took twenty-three kites, eleven weather balloons, and a helicopter I made from a leaf-blower and a ceiling fan. Of course, no one congratulated me on my sound scientific hypothesis, but that, as annoying as it was, is not the point of this essay. The point is this: it worked... eventually. My math was off at first, but I'm eight, so I blame school. I, Jackson James Beers, successfully sent my four-year old sister into the lower atmosphere, which, I would like to point out, did not kill her. Yes, she talks slower now and, yes, she blinks each eye separately, but she's alive. Don't know what the big deal is.  So, how did I spend my summer vacation? Tracking weather patterns and estimating where my sister would land, which is quite a bit more interesting than it sounds. You get to talk to a lot of scientists and other professionals and you get to see the inside of a holding cell and then, if your guess is correct, you get to drive to Canada to pick up your sister and you might even get to be on TV. Fun, fun.  Thank you, Matt Beers

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's like the Swan Station, but with more Playstation and less electro-magnetism.

Let me start off this post by saying what is exactly on my mind: Whatever is wrong with me, blame my kids.

Moving on...

The Books
Two years ago I whittled my considerable personal library down from close to a thousand books to around two hundred books. It was painful, but necessary. We hadn't the room and I was far too attached to some of the volumes. I got unreasonably nervous whenever I saw my kids migrating toward them.
Well, Brew Hampshire has provided me with the space necessary to store many, many books and I have begun rebuilding my library. I'm taking a very different approach this time around. I'm buying as many books as possible from thrift stores and garage sales. I'm amassing dozens of battered and worn paperback and trade editions. And I'm not freaking out when the kids handle the books (not outwardly, anyway). In the past couple of months, I have doubled the size of my collection and I see no reason to stop. I've even built a custom bookcase to display my crappy pulpwads.

The Bookcase
We have (had) these two, quite tall, ash trees in our front yard. They are (were) sort of tucked into the creek surrounded by some other trees so you don't really notice them. Anyway, they're dead. So... Wait. I think I already wrote about this. I chopped down a tree. Does that sound familiar to anyone? I think this is old news. Did I talk about the bookcase? Or had I built it yet? Whatever. I built a bookcase out of a tree that I chopped down and it's awesome. There. You heard it twice.

The Books and the Bookcase
My bookcase, which I made from a tree I chopped down in my front yard (three times!), is almost filled up already. No worries. There's another dead tree out there waiting to be a bookshelf.

I bought an amazing chair today at the Salvation Army. They sell chairs sometimes and sometimes I buy chairs. It's a good partnership. Anyway, today's chair is possibly the greatest second-hand chair I've ever encountered. It's covered in beautiful, aged green wool and has wooden handles. It rocks, it reclines, it appalls my wife... Everything I require from a chair and more!

I've been thrifting a lot lately. Chairs, books, art, LPs... I think I'm subconsciously turning my basement into someone's aunt's lake house. I'm desperately looking for a record player, so if you know where I can get one, please let me know.

Thank you,
      Matt Beers

Sunday, May 27, 2012


I chopped down a tree. Suddenly, I'm way more intimidating. And then I took that tree, which, once it was chopped down, ceased to be a tree and started its new life as a log, and I turned it into a bookshelf. What?! Yeah a bookshelf. A shelf for books. Now I'm intimidating, crafty, and scholarly. Take THAT Henry David Thoreau. Ugh. I'm writing this on my phone, by the way, directly onto the Blogger website, which is rather painful. What I should have done was write it as an iPhone note and then copied and pasted. I'll do that next time. Thank you, Matt Beers

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mid-May update

I have a lot to update and, as I haven't collected my thoughts and I'm doing some other stuff as I write this, I'm pretty sure this post will be a mess.

I got two new Nerf guns. Just getting that out of the way first thing. It probably won't come up again.

I'm going to the Dominican Republic this summer on a short-term mission trip. I have many people to thank for supporting me, but I won't do that here lest my sincerity be brought under question.

The house is holding up quite nicely. No major issues of which to speak. We're having two windows (the first of many) replaced tomorrow. It was difficult to choose which two to start with, so we picked one that wouldn't open and one that was about to fall out.

We're seriously loving our property. The creek, the trees, the squirrels and birds... I've been spending my time lately making walking sticks for my friends. The materials are everywhere. Just go outside, look around for a minute, find a stick you like, and there you go. Skin it, sand it smooth, rub in some teak oil and you've got a gorgeous walking stick. I also made a wand for a fellow Harry Potter fan. Good times. Nay! GREAT times.

Ferocious Quarterly is going strong. Head on over and check out issue #3. I'm not in it, but I will say in all honesty that it is beautiful. And if you get off your can and order one soon, you'll get a free poster and Ferocious patch.

Mother's Day was a surprising success at our house. Betsy, who now works part-time for our church, left Sunday morning (because she works... at church... on Sunday mornings...) and I leaped into a mad frenzy, putting into action a plan I had concocted only moments before my wife walked out the door. Gathering wood scraps from around the house (the top of an old buffet, some 4X4s from an old work bench, and some pieces of trim from our basement), I assembled a rough kitchen island, thinking that it would make a good study model. After a few weeks we would know exactly what we liked and didn't like and we would be prepared to go out and find precisely the kitchen island we wanted. Well, Betsy liked the one I made, so she painted it and distressed it with some gel stain and slapped on a few coats of polyurethane and we are apparently going to keep using it until it falls over, which, I'm kind of shocked to discover, might be quite a while.

Also, if you desire, you can follow me on Twitter. I'm 200lb_man.

That's everything I feel like sharing currently.

Thank you,
      Matt Beers

Sunday, April 8, 2012

It has been a great many days since I've posted a post... thingy. And I'm pretty sure that the last time I posted a post thingy I started said post thingy apologizing for having not posted in a while. Sorry.

So I went to see The Hunger Games with Betsy. It was quite good. I read the book several years ago when it first came out and was very impressed, but I never felt obligated to read the rest of the series. (I have since been assured by my wife that I now feel extremely obligated to finish the series.)

So, today is Easter, a celebration of the single most important event in human history. I'm considering breaking the news to Jack about the Easter Bunny, but then I'll have to explain about Santa and the Tooth Fairy. And leprechauns. And the Motor-Oil gnome. I mean, he's eight now. How much longer can he buy into this nonsense without embarrassing his mother and I? So, I'm trying to ease him into the truth. Maybe we'll watch The Passion of the Christ.

Anyway, it's Easter. Go worship God.

Thank you,
      Matt Beers

Monday, January 30, 2012

My thumbs were cramping up from trying to write on my iPhone.

My computer, a two plus year-old Toshiba laptop, recently died. Well, it didn't completely die. More like it went crazy. It started uninstalling random, rather important programs, like Norton and iTunes, and it has no idea how to access the internet. So, it may not be dead, but it's dead to me.

My good, kind, and dear friend, Eric Dunaway, found a spare netbook floating around his house, so he has agreed to let me borrow it until I can get back on my feet. I've never used a netbook before and I must admit... it's completely adorable. It's so tiny! I think we used to have a TV remote that was bigger.

The reason I need a computer in the first place has little to do with the internet. You see, I'm something of a writer. I write. That's what I do. Except not really. I call myself a writer, but lately I've been focusing more on Facebook statuses than novels. And by "lately" I mean, since I discovered Facebook.

So, thanks to Eric's act of kindness, I am obligated to write.

Truth be told, I love to write, especially when I'm in the zone. I love doing anything when I'm in the zone, but, for me, nothing compares to writing. There's a certain thrill you feel when you sit down and you have no idea what you're going to write, but from the moment of that first curious keystroke you're gone. You cease to exist as a physical form. The rhythmic clicking of the keys is hypnotic. It sends you into your story, into the minds of your characters. It lets you know their thoughts and their motives. It lets you smell their breath and feel the texture of their hair and clothes. Time passes, but you don't notice.

I'm always shocked when I snap out of the writer's trance to find two or three thousand words where, moments before, there was nothing. When you first come back from the zone, you might discover that you're famished or that you really, really need to pee. Your body was sending these urget messages, but you weren't there to receive them. You were in the zone.

Thank you,
      Matt Beers

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

This was written out of love, but I'm still probably going to get in trouble for it.

I frequently write things on Facebook that horrify my wife. Sometimes it's on purpose. Sometimes it's not. But I typically try to be sensitive to her feelings whether she believes that or not.

(I was going to write a whole bit about how I never harass her for the things she says in public because she's an adult and she's allowed to say whatever retarded thing she wants to say and I, as her husband, am prepared to deal with the consequences, but this post isn't about me being more understanding than her. I'll save that for later.)

That made me wonder, apart from occasionally refraining from making indecent remarks on Facebook (and in all other public places for that matter,), how else have I changed because of my wife? So I made a list. Here it is:

Because of my wife I...

take a multi-vitamin,
have a mattress pad,
have an actual bed,
had oatmeal for breakfast instead of donuts and chocolate milk,
have Q-tips,
don't have a mustache,
don't have a beard down to my crotch,
own an appropriate amount of Star Wars apparel,
stick up for myself,
keep in touch with my family,
have been to the Grand Canyon,
have more than two friends,
watch my language,
don't live with my mother,
drive a vehicle that doesn't need to be hot-wired daily,
eat salad occasionally,
don't feel bad about being bald,
don't spend ALL of my money on comic books and video games,
have three above-average kids,
keep my clothes in a dresser instead of a cardboard box,
never have to substitute anything weird for toilet paper,
have a bath mat,
actually change lightbulbs when they go out instead of just Helen-Kellering my way around the room,
have learned to judge for myself when an item of clothing is still wearable and when it needs to be laundered,
understand that, just because you CAN cut a hole in the wall to make a super-cool tunnel, doesn't mean you SHOULD,
have learned the benefit of fixing a problem rather than living with it,
have learned that I canNOT, under any circumstances, multitask,
don't usually burn things unless I have a good excuse OR unless I'm outside,
have three drawers in my kitchen filled with things I cannot identify but which are vital possessions if I ever want my food to be edible (this is purely heresay),
have 11,000 photographs of everything I've done since I met her,
understand that there are acceptable as well as unacceptable smells produced by the human body and my body is incapable of producing the acceptable kinds.

As you can see, this list isn't a list of favors and chores that I do grudgingly on behalf of my weak, nagging, feeble wife, but improvements that have been made to my life in general because of her. Except for those weird kitchen utensils. Those just seem like extra baggage.

Thank you,
      Matt Beers

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 Christmas Newsletter (Lame Edition)

Christmas is out of the way and we don't have anything around the house leaking or exploding at  the moment, so while I have a free moment, I'll post the finished Christmas newsletter.

First, however, I want to explain that I am not particularly pleased with the final result. Hopefully, at a later date, I will post the newsletter I had hoped to write, but for now, you'll have to settle for this substandard offering.


Welcome once again to the Beers Family Christmas Newsletter (2011 Edition). I just ate one of my patented Newsletter Sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly with a handful of M&Ms thrown in) so this should be a good one. While we wait for the sandwich to kick in, let's get the boring stuff out of the way.

Betsy dealt Hollywood a staggering blow this year when she announced that the latest Twilight movie wasn't very good. Experts attribute the statement to stress and paint fumes. Matt attributes it to common sense finally kicking in.

Speaking of Matt, he is currently training for some crazy obstacle course/race thingy (he's not 100% sure what it is, exactly) and is on a strict diet of pickles and Coke Zero (I caught him eyeballing my Newsletter Sandwich, though).

Jack, seven, is doing well at his new school. He has unionized the bullies and they are currently on strike until the nerds start carrying more lunch money.

Macy, four, is afraid to flush the toilets or even turn on the faucet for fear that something will explode. She's got Crazy Cat Lady written all over her.

Zoe, two, struts around the house like she owns the place, which, due to some not-so-Kosher paperwork, she does. Let's see the bank repossess a house from a toddler!

You know what? I forgot to mention that the Beers family recently moved into a new house. That's kind of a big one. C'mon, Newsletter Sandwich! Do your job!

The Beers family recently moved into a new house. Well, it was new in 1968. Anyway, it's very large and sometimes not as agreeable as some of the homes Matt and Betsy have owned in the past. For example, the gutters needed replaced. And the roof, too. And a few pipes. And an entire bathroom which Matt refuses to take the blame for and which may be responsible for Macy's fear of exploding bathroom plumbing.

Moving on...

The Colts suck this year.

Betsy, always the go-getter... or is it "go get her"? 'Cause that would be weird... and awesome... and then back to weird. Anyway, Betsy painted the kitchen cabinets and they look awesome. The kids disagree, but they've only seen them from the inside, which Betsy didn't paint.

Jack wrote a Thanksgiving essay on what he was thankful for: gravity. He'll be writing the 2012 newsletter, if the Mayans haven't killed us all by then.

As alluded to earlier, Matt broke an entire bathroom when he tried to turn off the water. You can't possibly get more ironic than that.

Macy claims that her father doesn't know how to do anything. Her father agrees. He has a new bathroom to prove it.

Zoe spends most of her time being agreeable and cute, which is wonderful in real life, but remarkably boring in a newsletter.

Betsy and Matt recently bought a king-sized mattress. They've had to learn semaphore in order to communicate with one another, it's that big.

Matt is suspicious of the squirrels living on his property. He's convinced that they communicate with one another and that they're saying mean things about his clothes, which are pretty lame, he admits, but it's still extremely rude of the squirrels who.

Macy and Zoe have formed a rap duo called the Mother Effin' Buttons. I don't even pretend to understand anymore.

Jack has been trying to "wake the trees" ever since reading the Chronicles of Narnia, which is better than trying to start a national revolution like he did when he read Les Miserables. He was so close, too. He started the Occupy Wall Street thing and then got bored. Cut him some slack. He's only seven.

Betsy has taken up stock-car driving and chewing tobacco. Not at the same time. Safety first.

While exploring the attic in his new house, Matt discovered, among many, many other things, what at first glance appeared to be a diving bell or a space helmet but in actuality turned out to be an enormous plastic hamster ball. The inside was covered with racist graffiti and tally marks.

I am totally being swarmed by fruit flies, right now.

Macy has somehow developed an exceptional sense of smell, which is about the lamest super-power ever. Even Aqua Man would make fun of that.

Oh, you know what? There's just one fruit fly, but it's really fast.

I usually do a haiku right about here, so that's what I'll do right about here:

There is an actress.
Her name: Vivian Pickles.
Vivian... Pickles.

Well, that does it for my yearly holiday obligation. From the Beers family to yours, or if you don't have a family pass it on to someone who does (and try not to be a whiner about it... nobody likes a Gloomy Gus at Christmas), Merry Christmas!


Thank you,
      Matt Beers

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Holiday Stress

House troubles notwithstanding, I've been mentally exhausted lately trying to write this year's Christmas newsletter. Here are a few of the abandoned openings...


Salaam and good evening! We hope this 2011 edition of the Beers Family Christmas newsletter finds you well. I thought I'd change things up this year and do the haiku first. Everyone okay with that? Tough.

This Christmas I asked
for two pairs of earrings and
a ukelele.

True story.

After thinking about this for way too long, I've decided to skip the first nine months of the year (I can't really remember them anyway) and start the newsletter with October, when Matt and Betsy moved into their new home. This is their third, and hopefully final, house. It's a large English Tudor-style home on a half-acre wooded lot complete with a creek and lots of angry squirrels. Being an older home, the Beers' were fully aware that they would have a lot of work on their hands bringing the old girl up to speed. They were prepared to spend several years making necessary repairs and making sure each job was done right. What they weren't prepared for was doing all of those necessary repairs in the first six weeks.


 You know what? It IS the most wonderful time of the year. Merry Christmas, everyone!

2011 was a tremendously interesting year for the Beers family, but for the life of me I can't think of any events that don't relate to the unexpected adventures of home ownership, so let's talk about that.

In October Matt and Betsy purchased their third and, hopefully, final home. It's a 43 year-old English Tudor-style home with a large yard, lots of trees, and a creek. It's unbelievably comforting walking around the yard, collecting home-grown sticks for a fire to be built wherever the crap you want, listening to the rippling creek, and trying to ignore the angry chattering of squirrels. That feeling of comfort has a habit of fluttering away upon entering the actual house, unfortunately, because around every corner lurks the possibility of stumbling across a broken pipe or a faulty outlet or a family of Romanian gypsies, which, Matt tells me, are not all bad. You see, though the house has a rich and interesting history, none of it involves maintenance. Certainly, someone at some point in time said, "Honey, it's no big deal. I can fix it. See? I have tape." And that statement was never challenged, which is a real shame.


Matt and Betsy have asked me to extend their deepest regrets as I inform you all that there will be no 2011 Christmas Newsletter. In light of the excitement (and unexpected frustrations) of moving into a new house (which they did in October), they felt it was in the best interest of everyone involved if they just took this time to enjoy the holidays together. By way of apology, I offer this detailed and uncharacteristically accurate description of the past few months.

It was decided in Spring of this year that the Beers family had outgrown their home in Huntertown. They, as a family, fit nicely inside with all of their nick-knacks and do-dads and whatnot, but in order to continue operating the daycare they would need more room. So, they began searching and soon stumbled upon a home that they felt was just right for them. It had a large, open basement, a cozy family room, a big backyard, and a library for all of the books Matt got rid of last summer. It seemed rather perfect. But, alas, in order to purchase a home the selling of another is often necessary. While sellers were aplenty, buyers were scarce.

The seemingly perfect house slowly became less and less appealing as the weeks trickled by and Matt and Betsy discovered another house. This house, while not as charming as the first, had a much nicer basement and a fenced in yard (it also had dark beige carpet with flecks of lime green and peach, oddly reminiscent of sherbet, but I'm not supposed to mention that). This second house, although nice enough with it's shade trees and rippling creek just behind the back fence, was lacking something that Matt and Betsy had been searching for: personality.

Before I continue, it should be noted that houses, like people, can have any number of personalities. Often you'll discover that a house is jovial and welcoming, like a fat man with cookies to share. Other times you'll get the sense that a house has been built with wisdom in its beams, strong enough to keep out the wind, but kind enough to embrace you. And sometimes you'll discover that a house is like a grumpy toddler, completely unpredictable and, more often than not, wet on the bottom.

Guess which kind of house Matt and Betsy bought.


A wise man once said, "The truth is rarely as interesting as how we perceive the truth." That man was me. I had to go back and read that line aloud to make it true. Or maybe I didn't. Maybe I only perceived that I read it aloud. Nevertheless, I think it's time we moved on.

In the early months of 2011 some moderately interesting events took place which I cannot recall for the life of me. They have been utterly eclipsed by the fascinating events which took place in the later months of 2011. Among the events forgotten are, no doubt, ninja attacks, rocket trips to the moon, and, possibly, an encounter with a venomous, man-eating plant. Please, do your best to stifle the yawn tugging at your jaw. Those forgotten events, as I'm sure you will agree, are not the events that one would choose to include in a yearly update, not when presented with the colorful smorgasbord that purchasing a new home offers.


So (we're back to the blog part now), you see where the focus of this year's newsletter is. In the past my formula for newsletter gold has been this: Write one draft, purposefully unacceptable, to get out all of the cobwebs and get my brain into the appropriate rhythm. Then, the finished product just sort of falls from my finger tips. It's literally that simple.

Not this year. The house has me drained. And on top of that, Betsy is making ridiculous demands of me as the author of said newsletter and then undermining my confidence by offering to write it herself, as if she could.

So, I thought I'd whip out a quick blog post so that I can just have something to show for all of my hard work (by which I mean writing a few lines and then breaking for fifteen minutes to watch Juno and work on a jigsaw puzzle).

Anyway, thank you.
      Matt Beers

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I just bought the Carpenter's rap album on iTunes. It's very angry.

Okay, some updates and such...

It's snowing right now. Pretty much anything could go wrong and it would be mostly okay because of the snow.

Our basement is nice and dry now. Betsy and I just watched Parks and Recreation down there and we felt no dampness whatsoever, so it's safe to say that our $1000 insurance deductible was well spent. Tomorrow some guy is gonna come by with some floor samples and we're gonna pick the cheapest one and then our bathroom is gonna get fixed and our basement is gonna get somethinged. I'm not really sure what the plan is but some very professional-type worker guys are going to look at it knowingly and they'll probably nod and point and grunt back and forth and then they'll fix it... whatever "it" is. I have faith in them.

The main order of business currently is the attic. Considering the fact that we have more square footage of storage in our current house than we had in our entire first house, theoretically, the attic is completely superfluous. I ventured up there anyway and discovered that, maybe, the previous owner wasn't quite done moving out. I have so far filled four 39-gallon trash bags. I'm guessing that's about a third of the job done. Here's a brief list of some of the things I've found:

One (1) gi-NOR-mous hamster ball (presumably for a morbidly obese North American hamster),
three (3) screen doors,
a few (3-5) samples of carpet, some in rolls, others just piled up,
one (1) throw pillow that I'm a little afraid to touch,
one (1) purple Teletubby (also afraid to touch),
three (3) small, ceramic unicorns,
one (1) artificial 6-foot (1.8288 meter) tall Christmas tree,
one (1) broken electric football game,
one (1) red Venetian blind,
one (1) garlic press,
and an astonishingly wide assortment of files, papers, stuffed animals, and home-improvement flotsam and jetsam.

You hear about people moving into a house and finding a box of old photographs taken in Paris during World War II or a complete collection of Depression glass or a working antique mimeograph (there are still several piles up there to be moved, so my fingers are totally crossed for that mimeograph), but I'm just thanking the good Lord that I haven't stumbled across any Tupperware containers filled with squirrel testicles, as awesome as that would be.

So, I go up there every day and fill a couple of trash bags and then get all discouraged and quit for the rest of the day. I guess when you take into account all of the other projects around here that need attention (the questionable boiler, the twenty-five year old water heater, the chimney that needs repaired and cleaned, the water spots that keep growing on our bedroom ceiling, the windows that might actually fall out, the giant spider which, I was just informed, has taken over the basement, the approximately eleven trillion leaves that refuse to rake themselves, etc.) a clean attic isn't that big a deal. But it's something I can do without great risk to the rest of the house. That's good to know.

Although I was up there earlier today and noticed that, unless I step very lightly, the entire attic floor shakes in a rather alarming manner.

Thank you,
      Matt Beers

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I'm not typically one of those guys who looks at a thing he's never done before and says, "Oh, yeah! I can do that! Bring it on!" I might say that, but when faced with actually doing it, I almost always back out, and it's served me well for thirty-three years. But at some point in the last two days I developed an over-inflated sense of self-confidence. I decided, having never done, seen, or read any detailed instructions on how to do so, to install a pedestal sink in our 1/2 bath.

This is the result...
That is the friendly Carl Clean-Up (not really). He comes around with industrial-sized blowers and dehumidifiers when some know-it-all jack-hole breaks a hose while trying to shut off the water, flooding his entire basement as a result. In this photo we can see Carl taping plastic over the doorway into what was once our very adequate downstairs bathroom. He has to cover the door because the bathroom no longer has a floor. Well, it has a floor, but if you step on it there's a very real possibility that you could find yourself taking an abrupt and unexpected trip to the basement where you'll more than likely land in something wet. While you're in the basement please note that a number of ceiling tiles are missing. Don't be alarmed. They were simply washed away in the flood that rained down from the bathroom.

The greatest and most upsetting casualty of this most recent home-improvement debacle was Betsy's craft room. The total extent of the damage has yet to be determined, but several hundred photos were saturated and quite a lot of very well organized crafting materials were dampened. Also, we discovered that something is living in one of the walls. It sounds like it wants out. Hooray.

Thank you,
      Matt Beers

Monday, October 31, 2011

It's Halloween! Let's all go worship Satan!

When I was growing up (which I mean to finish doing eventually) we didn't do Halloween. We lived way the eff out in the middle of nowhere (14010 North County Line Road, Spencerville, Indiana... Punch it up on Google Earth and you'll see what I mean...) and my mom was a bit of a religious zealot, and, as we all know, dressing up like an astronaut would have made my soul vulnerable to all sorts of demons and the like. And somehow I've managed to avoid being bitter about it.

When I was twenty-two I carved my first pumpkin. It was okay. It was sort of like a smiling skull-thingy with a mohawk of nails and screws.

Here are a few that I've done since then:

I feel a little silly about my pumpkins sometimes. First, because it seems very childish to put so much thought and effort into a pumpkin and, second, because there are so many people out there doing a much better job than I.

Anyway, go out there and score some candy. I'll be doing the same.

(NOTE: I do not, in any way, condone Satan worship.)

Thank you,
      Matt Beers

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A tough-looking gang of girls just rode past my house on pink bikes.

I'd like to start this post by announcing that I do NOT have 200 lb balls. According to my blog stats, someone did a Google search regarding such a thing and it led them here. Allow me to lay those rumors to rest right now. My balls are mostly average.

Moving on...

Since we moved into this house

GRR! My wife just walked into the room, turned my music down so low that I can't hear it, and then left the room. Drives me nuts...

Since we moved into this house I've gone from an embarrassing 225 lbs to a slightly less embarrassing 215 lbs. I attribute my weight-loss success to a strict regimen of cherry cola and Halloween candy.

About six weeks ago my wife bought 1,800 rolls of the cheapest toilet paper in the world. She has admitted her error but makes ridiculous statements like, "Well, we can't just throw it away," and "Just double it up." Oh, good. So more of a bad thing suddenly becomes a good thing. Continuing to use this product is like hearing from your doctor that you have lung cancer, but you've still got an entire carton of cigarettes left and it would be wasteful to throw them out, so...

Right now I'm reading the autobiography Girls Can't Be Pilots by Margaret Ringenberg. So far I think she might be wrong because she was a pilot and a girl. Actually, Mrs. Ringenberg was the grandmother of my childhood best friend, Joe Wright. I even had the chance to ride in her plane as part of Joe's eighth birthday celebration. I was sick for two weeks following, but I doubt it was the pilot's fault.

I must go now because it's been three weeks and we still haven't managed to get our van in the garage. It has been strongly implied that this is my fault.

Thank you,
      Matt Beers

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I talk about books... and then it all falls apart. Curse you, Irish Cream!

I've got lots more house stuff to talk about, but I'd kinda rather not. I'm feeling a little fried in regards to the subjects of "home repair" and "unpacking" and "hanging stuff on the wall and not having it fall down."

Instead, I'd like to talk about some books I've probably already talked about.

Holes, Louis Sachar (1998)

I'd heard of this book and its movie-adaptation, but had familiarized myself with neither until my friends over at the Two Bibliomaniacs gave my son a copy for his birthday. I try to preview books whenever possible so as not to expose my son to anything interesting, and I was pleasantly surprised with this one. Less than twenty-four hours after picking it up, I was starting it for a second read.

Stanley Yelnats is about as unfortunate a wet blanket as you're likely to find in the driver's seat of a book, and that's what makes it such a terrific book. Look at Lord of the Rings. If a team of invisible stealth ninjas had taken the ring to Mordor, it wouldn't have been much of a story, would it? Actually, that sounds like a pretty awesome story...

Anyway, Stanley gets arrested and sent to Camp Green Lake which isn't really a camp. Or a lake. Or green. But there are lots of holes and none of them are in the plot. Fo' reals, yo! This was an exciting and funny book that has just the right amount of everything. Except kissing, because boys hate that crap.

A Wrinkle In Time, Madeleine LOL'Engle (1962)

"Wild nights are my glory."

I could stop there and have said all that needs to be said about one of literature's most adored offerings, but brevity isn't my way.

How about this gem... " the way, there IS such a thing as a tesseract."

And the world craps its pants.

If Stanley Yelnats is a wet blanket, Meg Murry, the hero of Wrinkle, is the puddle said blanket was used to soak up. She's a teenage girl and, like most teenaged girls, she hates herself. The thing is, most everyone else hates her, too, so you get the sense that Meg knows what she's talking about.

Ultimately, the story boils down to this: A young hero with low self-esteem and little hope for a change for the better has many questions about the fate of a parent. Enter small child with unique abilities and several odd senior citizens, one of whom speaks in an bizarre manner. The heroes travel to distant planets, always eager for news regarding the aforementioned parent and encounter more than was originally bargained for. In the end, it is love, not skill, courage, or weapons that save the day.

But enough about Star Wars...

My sister read A Wrinkle In Time to me when I was eight years old. Ever since it has been one of my favorite books. I just finished reading it to my son for the first time. I'm pretty sure he didn't understand all of the technical explanations about tessers and such, but I'm still confused twenty-five years later and that's never kept me from enjoying the story, so I don't think total comprehension is all that important.

In conclusion, I would just like to state that any book that starts out, "It was a dark and stormy night," and wasn't written by Snoopy has no choice but to be amazing.

(NOTE: I started drinking a tasty beverage of Irish Cream and milk about half an hour ago and my fingers and arms are starting to get sleepy, so if my style and focus start to slip... it's 'cause I'm gettin' my drank on.)

Other books... other books...

I just read the Kite Runner by Kahled Hosseini (2003), and it was pretty astonishing. It wasn't written pretentiously, like so many instant classics these days. The tone was conversational. Like reading an email sent by a good friend from long ago who just wants to bring you up to speed.

The narrator is an Afghan living in America who has just received an upsetting telephone call from an old friend. The story that unfolds is of friendship and betrayal, hope and heartbreak, fear and failure and redemption. Selfishness and self-loathing abound in this book, but it is told in such a way that you feel nothing but understanding. I was extremely impressed and, upon completion, immediately passed it on to a friend.

Fair warning, however: this book has a butt-load of sodomy.

(NOTE: I have used the "butt-load of sodomy" joke in the past, but never in such a public forum. Please keep in mind that I have been drinking a bit.)

(ANOTHER NOTE: I'm still drinking a bit. I'm eating Halloween candy, too. Our neighbor kids are too fat. They'll thank me one day.)

I kinda feel like this might be my last chance to safely pull the plug for the evening. I'm going to do so before I start losing followers.

Thank you,
      Matt Beers

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I'd consider moving again if it meant more pulled pork sandwiches.

I can mark the seasons of my life by looking at the friends I have had. When I was in elementary school (grade school for some of you) I pretty much had one friend. He was a kind boy who always tried to do the right thing unless I could give him a compelling reason to do otherwise. Then, in junior high, I made more friends and my grade school (elementary school for some of you) friend and I grew apart. These friends weren't quite so kind and weren't as concerned with doing the right thing. Then, right around my senior year, my friend situation got really bad and I met some people who not only didn't want to do the right thing, but they wanted me for company as they spiraled out of control. Then I met a guy whose thought process seemed far more appealing to me. In the interest of self-preservation, I ditched my old friends and went back to having pretty much just one friend. He encouraged me to make better decisions and to grow, even if he was a little mean about it sometimes. Then that guy moved away and I met another guy. This guy also encouraged me to grow, but he was way nicer about it.

My point is this: Up until that last guy, I never really had the kind of friends who would help you move. Now, five years after meeting that last guy, I have lots and lots of friends and they all encourage me to grow and they're all willing to help me move. All except one...

I don't want to embarrass him, so I won't use his real name. I'll just call him Rudd Ronson. Rudd was recently in the hospital for injuries received due to old-age and when the time came for us to move, he was unable to help. He felt bad, he told us. I think he was just bummed that he wouldn't get to carry a drawer full of my underwear. Anyway, Rudd told us that, since he was being a baby and couldn't lift anything, he wanted to help in another way. He and his wife, let's call her Recky Ronson, would feed us and our entire crew on moving day, lunch and dinner.

What an amazing gift. The best pulled pork I've ever eaten, homemade Twix bars, cheesecake cupcakes with Oreo cookies buried inside, and two kinds of pasta, both of which knocked my socks off. Rudd knows what his gifts are and he makes sure he uses them whenever he can.

You may remember a while ago I mentioned a friend who mailed me a pizza. Rudd. He also stopped by my house on his way home from Chicago the other night with two Italian sausage sandwiches he picked up on the way. He hadn't seen his wife in three days, but he took the time to stop at Portillo's and buy me a sandwich.

And I'd also like to mention my friends Stew and Stashly Quaker (not their real names) who have been waiting for over a year to adopt from Ethiopia, the last few months being incredibly trying, and even in the midst of their trials, they took the time to bake cookies for everyone and load and unload truckload after truckload.

And Pyler and Patalie Chord (another pseudonym) who procured a truck for us at no charge and whose cooler is still sitting in my garage (you'll get it soon, I swear). And R.J. Ronson (son of Rudd) and Derrick Runaway and Kevin Assley (his real name) and Ken Krump and Ryan Boss and everyone else who helped and got lost in the crowd that stormed our humble little castle that day. Such amazing friends can only be gifts from God and I am thankful for each and every one of you.

Matt Miller (who didn't help and therefore doesn't get a made-up name) was "sick" on the day of the move, but since he received such a severe and shameful beating from me the other night in Modern Warfare 2, I'll forgive him.

(NOTE: Stew and Stashly are current in Ethiopia collecting their daughter, Stoe.)

Thank you,
      Matt Beers

Monday, October 24, 2011

One man's trash is more often than not actual trash.

Brew Hampshire is our third house. It's also our oldest. Our first house was only fifteen years old when we bought it. We lived there for three years. Our second house was brand new. We lived there for seven years. Brew Hampshire is forty-three years old. I hope to be buried in the backyard, hopefully not by accident.

When you buy an older house you discover all sorts of interesting things. For example, you might discover, like I did, stacks and stacks of unused U.S. Postal Service boxes in a basement storage room. Or you might discover roughly one (1) nautical mile of coaxial cable running through the walls of your new home. (If anyone knows of a coaxial resale business, please give me their number.) The discovering seems to go on forever.

Random odds and ends left on window sills, high closet shelves, buried beneath a swing-set... When you buy an older home, you learn a lot more about people than you do about buildings. You learn that at some point in the past, someone painted over a lot of rotten exterior wood and then moved. You learn that a previous owner had heard of, but had never seen, a workbench when they decided to build the one that is falling over in your garage. You learn that paint will only hide the water damage in your bedroom ceiling long enough for the house to sell. The adventures never end.

Betsy and I have no intention of moving away anytime soon, so any repairs we make will be done properly... by other people who know what they're doing. We will have the boiler inspected regularly, the chimney cleaned yearly, the yard mowed bi-annually, and the leaves raked whenever the neighbors complain.

I've already replaced one light and hung a chandelier over the dining room table. We've had the locks re-keyed (one of them fell apart the first time we used it... the locksmith is on his way over right now to fix it) and the gutters should be repaired sometime next week. I've added a swing-set to the backyard (for a grand-total of three rickety play-structures) and removed a fountain that was a safety issue for the daycare kids.

The discovering goes on. What wasn't done right in the past, how far we're willing to go to do the job right, what was important enough to buy, but was nevertheless left behind...

I haven't even been in the attic yet.

Thank you,
      Matt Beers

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Welcome to Brew Hampshire! (that's what I call our new house)

Welp, here we are.

I'm sitting in our new house, in a large chair in our family room, laptop on top of my lap. Sunlight is cutting sharply through the autumn leaves (of which there are still many clinging stubbornly to the trees) and splashing all over the floor. Oh, wait. Cloud. AH! Cloud moved. Sun's back.

Betsy is gone for the weekend. Scrapbooking retreat. Macy is prancing around town with Grandma. Jack is lost in some drawings he's doing. Zoe is marching around the house with a bowl full of Cheerios making improbable demands from inanimate objects.

This is very nice.

Our new home is pretty awesome. It's very large and very full of personality. Like me. We have a separate area for the daycare so at the end of the day we don't feel like we're still at the office, we have an immense backyard full of trees that is perfect for exploring and playing (complete with our own creek), a full basement ("full" meaning "full of bigscreens and couches"), and a garage stacked high with cardboard boxes that we haven't bothered to empty yet (on the one hand, it's only been two weeks, but on the other hand, we've had two whole weeks... look at it however you choose).

The thing about houses with personality... they usually have quirks, too. Sometimes quirks can be fun, like the old carriage-style light hanging over the breakfast nook or the decades-old textured wallpaper in the basement stairwell or the laundry chute that provided Jack and Macy with hours of thrilling enjoyment when they first discovered it. But, quirks can also be not-so-fun, like the gutters that are trying to jump off of my roof or the fruit flies that have apparently made our house National Fruit Fly Headquarters. But we're prepared to deal with quirks. For example, we had an issue with our front door. Well, issue might not be... Betsy couldn't open it. One phone call and one signed check later and our front door opens smoothly and all of the door to our house are re-keyed and we have a half-dozen shiny new keys to put in a drawer somewhere and never, ever use.

The biggest hiccup by far has been the gutters. Having so many trees, our gutters fill up pretty quickly with leaves and then get clogged and then overflow. At one particular point, the overflow was flooding a small section of our landscaping, but water being what it is and finding ways to drain and whatnot, the overflow seeped into our basement, right into Betsy's craft room.

We called some people. We're getting quotes. It's all good.

Two weeks. I've got my books shelved, but my clothes are still in a pile in the bedroom. The TVs are all set up in the basement, but we still can't get the van in the garage. We're slowly but surely getting things in order. But my wife will be coming home in a few hours and my immediate concern is getting the house "Betsy-ready," so I must go.

Thank you.
      Matt Beers

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Stuff always make life harder. Except for Swiss Army knives. And personal robot assistants.

Two days. In two days, less, actually, we will be signing the closing papers that will put us in our new home. And when you think about all of the requirements that needed to be met, it's pretty amazing that we're moving at all. God has a way of giving you no options so you can sit back and see how limitless He is.

I know I've been doing this a lot lately, but I do want to apologize for not posting much. Selling and buying houses is pretty exhaustive work, when you figure in all of the repairs here and there and all of the packing and all of the paperwork and phone calls (neither of which are being handled by me). I'm quite literally beat. I'm standing here at two in the afternoon and I feel like I could sleep until tomorrow morning.

So, two days. That's pretty good news. We met the current owner of our future home and I think she's going through pretty much the same thing we are. Considering how amicable she was with some of the repairs we requested from her, she's just as eager to move as we are. But, to be perfectly honest, if she hadn't been so willing, I don't know what we would have done. Another sign of God's hand in all of this, I guess.

The kids' rooms are almost all packed up (except that Jack has already opened every box in his room and made a rather large mess) and Betsy's craft room (which used to be my library (which used to be our walk-in closet)) is packed up and has been re-converted into a walk-in closet. I have one window to replace (I'm still waiting for a call from Menard's that it has come in) and a lot of clothes to pack, but for the most part, we're ready to go. We still have daycare stuff out because we've still got kids coming until tomorrow evening, and we still have most of the kitchen to pack (a friend is coming by tomorrow to help with that), and I've got lots of little random bits floating around in the garage, but when you consider the personal belongings of five people and the monumental task of packing it all up, along with purchasing new appliances and getting everything ready for our daycare inspection at the new house, and then all of your regular life stuff on top of it all, you've got one incredibly long sentence. Cram that incredibly long sentence into three weeks and you'd be pretty tired, too. And I doubt you'd be very funny. Also, I'm sick.

Thank you,
      Matt Beers

Thursday, September 15, 2011

And no, I don't know how to do any of those things.

Before I really begin I would like, first and foremost, to apologize to those of you who have arrived at this blog, this unutterably excellent blog, by mistake. My online statistics tell me that many of you were brought here while searching for information on receiving your PhD online (which I'm not sure is the best idea) or something of an equally shady nature.

Secondly, I would like to apologize for the recent and future lack of posts on this blog. Things hereabouts have been hectic to say the least. Also, I bought a new Nerf gun last week, so I've been pretty busy shooting the kids.

Our house sold, mostly. I say "mostly" because there is a stack of paperwork that needs to be signed before it's official. Those papers, God willing, will be signed on October 7. That's three weeks away. We've started packing and planning our redecorating attack (Betsy thinks we're gonna need new plates), but it isn't 100% OFFICIAL. So, our house is sold, mostly.

The house we're buying (mostly) is 43 years old. It sits on a half-acre wooded lot and even has its own creek. The back yard has a fence and tons of trees. There's a big driveway with a basketball hoop and lots of room for the kids to ride their bikes without having to go out into the street. It sits on a full basement and has a second set of stairs leading from the garage to the basement, for quick escapes, I guess. There are a few issues, but we're prepared to deal with them. All in all, the house has buckets of personality, which is not something we ever knew we wanted until we lived in a house with no personality.

I have some pretty big ideas about what I would like to do with our new house. I want to build a big tree house for the kids. I want to create a fancy covered area for a fire-pit (think of a lean-to with seats and a nice wooden floor and a brick-lined pit for the fire... a good place to sit in the rain with a pipe and two or three of your favorite Hobbits). I want to install a fountain-beverage dispenser in Betsy's craft room (that should be good for at least a year of nocturnal affection). And then I want to take a nap in the hammock I hope to string between two trees which have already been prepped for a hammock.

So, we've been pretty busy the last few weeks. And on top of it all, my computer has decided to live up to its price tag. I've been unenthusiastic about doing ANYthing on here because it's just too frustrating. Hopefully the problem will be resolved rather soon.

That's all.

Thank you,
      Matt Beers

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I used up all of my fancy words for something else.

Holy craparoni. I just said that. Sorry.

Our house has been on the market for about three months with no offers. We've had eleven showings and today we had our first open house. And there is a very real possibility that the open house has brought us a buyer! They want to come back and look at the house on Tuesday. At 10:00 in the morning. While we're doing our daycare thang. It'll be awesome.

In other news, I meet every Thursday night with a writing group. We mostly just sit around and make up excuses why we aren't writing anything. But this week, we have an assignment. It's kind complicated, so pay attention.

PART ONE (1): Write a short story approximately 1,000 words in length. Next, rewrite the story to exactly 100 words.

PART TWO (2): Write a something exactly 100 words in length and rewrite it to exactly 20 words.

I have accomplished part one of part one. I wrote a short story which came out to 1,774 words. I then spent two hours chopping it down to 1,199 words. Rewriting it to 100 words should succeed in causing my internal organs to explode.

And, as I'm spouting randomness due to an internal server error in my brain, I forgot to eat dinner. I'll see what I can do about fixing that. And Iron Man is a pretty awesome movie.

Thank you,
      Matt Beers