TheMcKeeSpot is a blog by Steven McKee. The purpose of this blog is for me to explore things that interest me as I plan for my next 50-plus years on this planet. Starting out, I am writing about my family and activities, but as time progresses, it will be about anything. Stay tuned, check in often and enjoy the ride.
I have been writing this blog now for several years. I write about topics that pop into my head, often based upon what is happening in my life, or what I read from the internet, books, or magazines. At least a few people stop and read my posts. And while I do not limit myself to a specific subject matter or theme, it is obvious that I just post about things that have transpired since my last post. I will hope that when you read my ramblings that it puts a smile on your face, causes you to contemplate whatever I write about, or makes you think about commenting.
For me, this is a work in progress. I am a baby boomer nearing retirement and a single parent trying to raise two teenage children. Guess that makes me a late bloomer who married, had kids, then got divorced. For the past few years I have been trying to find my bearings and figure out what the next 50+ years has in store for me. Please come along for the ride, and come back often. We will not be making daily trips, but I will try to write when the urge exists or the muses help me out.
When the kids were younger, we would often go to the local stables and slowly drive the roads and look at the animals. Chickens, goats, a couple of cows, a llama and some turkeys. The main residents at the stables are horses. All different sizes and colors. A coworker of mine had a stable and several horses and on one of our trips, he and his wife were there. We stopped. Big mistake. Shortly thereafter, daughter was sitting on the back of a horse. A big grin across her face, she was immediately hooked. At that time she was three.
Eleven years have passed, as has several loaner horses, two rented horses, the local US Pony Club horse. Today she has a horse, a stable, and rides regularly and in competitions. Her horse is named Ruby, and she has become another family pet, much like the dog.
Here she is, greeting us for her evening feeding. She gets fed twice a day, and depending upon daughter, ridden every day. Daily practices are often in preparation for dressage, show jumping and cross country. My daughter competes in all three at the beginner novice level.
She enjoys it. It keeps her and her friends out of trouble. Yet, when I see her with Ruby, she still has that big grin across her face.
Today starts the final week of the school year for my son and daughter. Every year the schools send out information about summer reading programs, books to read, things to try to get the kids to read during the summer months. It’s a great idea and I try to do my best to get my children to read over the summer. There are two approaches that I take to accomplish this.
The first approach is pure capitalism. They get to choose the book and if it meets with my approval, then they read it. For every book that they read, I will pay them twenty dollars. The book has to meet with my approval, otherwise, the legal minds that are my children will argue over what constitutes a book. There is no prescribed number of pages, it cannot be a short story or a comic book. A collection of short stories is fine, but they have to read all of it. There is no quiz, or essay. I just need to see them reading. They are not speed readers, so devouring 100 pages in a day will cause me to question the actual reading. But it is the honor system, which I try to impress upon them is as important as being able to communicate well. The art of communication is dying in our society, between texts and tweets and emoji’s. It is certainly something that I struggle with and try my best to get it right. But I will let you be the judge based upon my blog posts.
The second approach is to lead by example. By that I mean if they see me reading, perhaps they will also read. I cannot ask them to do something that I then will not also do. I’m not going to pay myself twenty dollars, but I am going to read. One reason will be to generate ideas for future blog postings.
For the start of my summer reading, I have chosen a book that has constantly gotten the better of me. On a Facebook post once, I commented in the category of things people may not know about me is that I have managed to read the Bible twice, cover to cover. Odd as I am not a religious person, but we can explore that in some future blog. No my challenge for the summer will be my fourth attempt to read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Why? First is that being a Rush fan, their songs were influenced by the writings of Ayn Rand. Yes, I have seen the movies but the story is as important today as when it was written. Every time I start reading a book, I put the date and where I am at the time I am reading it. For this start, I wrote “here is hoping that the 4th time I will finish”. My copy is worn, having been purchased in the summer of 2011. I think I bought it as part of a trip to go see Rush in concert.
I’ll keep you informed of the summer reading challenge for both me and my kids. I’ll have more words tomorrow as I explore this new world of blogging and work to improve my own communication skills.
It is written that Memorial Day is a day set aside as a day of remembrance for fallen brothers (and sisters) in arms. Of late, it has become a three-day weekend, the end of the school year, the start of summer. It’s a day of some flags (depending upon where you are). Honestly, much of today is for working around the house and barbecues with friends. We should all take a moment to reflect upon those who have died in protecting our country; to honor those who do so today, or served and came home and returned to society, or those who unfortunately wander our streets, homeless because of some reason that we cannot or will not understand.
Not many people acknowledge that today is a special day with the simple act of hanging the flag. In the little complex where I now live, only two houses hang a flag. It is sad that people cannot take a moment out of their busy lives that hang a flag, to be thankful and to reflect upon the meaning of the day or what the flag represents. Sadly, to many, respecting our country is a bad thing. The flag is a symbol yes, but there is substance behind it if you take a moment and ponder. And while our country and our history is not perfect, the ideals that founded our nation over 200 years ago ring true today. The freedoms that we take for granted are in jeopardy, and we run the risk of being overrun in a world where there is still evil, a world where there are those who want to take away our rights, our independence, our freedom.
Picked my son up from school this past Friday. In his hands were parts of a school science project. A plastic cup with green water, a snail, two fish and some grass. He was excited, as was I. More animals to add to the menagerie that live at my place. In addition to these new creatures we have the hampster, gold fish, one silver dollar fish, a dog, and of course a horse. The animals come and go. Over the past five years of setting up our second home, we have had an older dog, many aquarium fish, lizards, hamsters, birds, and guinea pigs. The guinea pigs were rescued from their daycare. Of course, we have talked about goats to keep the horse company at the stables, rabbits, snakes, huskies, and cats. No cats because we think daughter is allergic to them.
The terrarium fish and snail have been transplanted into a more permanent home: the brandy sniffer. The dog has migrated from the cage to the floor to the sofa. Just another member of the family. The aquarium sits in the corner of the living room, noisy because of the constant running of the filter.
Not sure of what Sunday has in store for us. Daughter has another riding lesson so there will be a morning car trip. I have things to do around the house, and the stable, and hopefully find some time to read. Son will play games on his iPad, invite me to enter our Minecraft world, and then quickly move on to some other games. Enjoy your weekend.
It’s Saturday and it is my weekend with the kids. The custody arrangement has me, as a divorced single parent with two kids, keeping them every other weekend. This starts Thursday night and ends Monday morning. An ok arrangement most weekends, but this weekend is different. Daughter has a weekend of riding planned between a horse clinic and working for free at a local stable. I don’t have a suitable truck or trailer to haul, so it’s up to mother to get daughter and horse to the desired location. Local in New Mexico is something within a hundred miles from where you live.
The zombie apocalypse is not the horse riding, but it is the fact that daughter spent all last night multitasking between her cell phone and her iPad. Preparation for today was part of the plan but never implemented. Both of my kids spend too many hours on their iPads and iPhones to the point where they are in a zone, unable to be bothered with their immediate surroundings, work to do, angry if you interrupt them. You ask them a question and it’s either a monosyllabic response, or the sound of silence. They are truly zombies in that regard. It is apocalyptic if you interrupt them when they get into that state trying to make eye contact. They have that relentless drive, much like the zombie attacking a non-zombie as depicted in TV and movies. They watch smart mouthed YouTube millionaires do truly stupid things and find it funny. Granted, some of the pet things can be funny, but really… Much of it is ridiculous. They become millionaires doing what? For me, YouTube is where I get to listen to my favorite musicians aside from an Apple tunes download.
Needless to say, we spent Saturday morning frantically trying to get daughter ready for the trip and horse riding clinic today. Of course, daughter was glued to her iPhone watching some videos and listening to music. To take it away would be withdrawal, much like some drugs. It was clear that the zombie state was starting to kick in. It’s easier to text then to try to speak.
It’s Friday. A cool 36 degrees as I take Jewel and myself out for our morning walk. Just around the block but it is the best time of the day. Before sunrise, very little traffic. The air is clean, the moon is above the clear sky as the stars begin to fade in the sky. Wearing my old LL Bean jacket, walking down the road kicking pine cones as I ponder the day ahead. Take the kids to school, feed the horse, and then off to work for a few hours. Although it is my Friday off, the work never seems to end. The paperwork piles up. I wonder if it will ever get any easier, knowing that it has not after 28-plus years. Don’t get me wrong I still have fun at work. Lately it seems more headaches and challenges than science, but it keeps me going.
Not sure where this adventure will take me. I thought about that on my walk. For the moment, I think it will be my daily musings of thought that I have on my morning walk with Jewel. Lots of ideas running through my head. Didn’t jot them down, but we will get to them as the writings continue.