Monday, December 31, 2012

The Box

Cash & Dad's Fourth Year and a Half

As I entered the River School gymnasium for the Beaver Class Thanksgiving lunch, your teacher, Mrs. Insley, grabbed me by the arm and guided me to a large paper turkey pasted to a wall. She was giggling. The source of her mirth mystified me. For the handwork of four year olds, the turkey looked passible. She then pointed at the splayed tail feathers. Within each feather was a quote from a beaver student answering the question:

“What are you Thankful for?”

Reading through the quotes, I saw the children were universally thankful for their moms, dads, dog and cats -- constituents that buy presents, provide food or love them. The exception was one lone red feather. This child was thankful for:

“The Turkeys that are alive.” - Cash

Seeing me guffaw, Mrs. Insley joined me in outright laughter. What is it with this kid I said. She responded, “Cash just thinks outside the box.”

You do, often publically, entertainingly. Unfortunately, River School makes it regular practice to post student responses to such questions -- a sort of exposition of cuteness I suppose -- at their community events. Your signature practice is to deliver answers that, well, give pause and a laugh. As your parent, I am both proud and a little embarrassed. Other parents must wonder what kind of household we run.

Let’s look at an instance from last year. The question was: “What would you bring on a hot air balloon ride?” Every kid brought his or her parents, siblings and/or a few toys. Then there was this:

“I would take my dog and some money. I would not take Luke in the balloon because he is very silly in a balloon. I want to be in the balloon by myself. I would also bring my movie called Star Wars.” - Cash

Imagine Rachel and me reading this in a crowd of class parents. Embarrassed. Yes. Proud. Even more. Cash, you truly think outside of the box.

I am astounded by the connections you make, how you can turn a thought inside out, and at such a young age. You understand deadpan humor. You know you are being funny. Woody Allen started out this way.

The irony is that a few days ago I witnessed you climbing INTO a box, a cardboard box that you instructed Luke to tape shut once you were inside. He did so delightedly. Rachel spent several tense minutes looking for her lost son before puzzling out your ruse. You enjoyed your joke a minute or two before you realized that, without aid, you were stuck in the box.

The panic that ensued should serve as a lesson, that even the most outside the box thinkers can get trapped in the box!



Friday, November 30, 2012

Fall 2012 Roundup

Top three household events this quarter:

1) Rachel joined the board of River School!
2) Daddy went to Burning Man.
3) Thanksgiving Grand Junction visit.

Three Songs I’ve been listening to:

1) The Veldt (featuring Chris James), Deadmau5, > album title goes here < (released 2012)
2) Bangarang (featuring Sirah), Skrillex, Bangarang (released 2011)
3) Store N Forward, Sugar, Single (released 2012)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Luke & Dad's Sixth Year and a Quarter

I typically avoid charities that involve me pandering for donations that later require me to complete some superhuman feat. Don’t get me wrong, I admire the dedication of those who run marathons and bike phenomenal distances for charity. I simply dread asking for favors and that dread is squared by the prospect of physical suffering.

I’m out.

I am, however, tolerant of making a fool of myself -- see my recent spread in Forbes:

So when presented with a clever charity where you do just that, I found pandering palatable. Movember, short for Mustache-November, involves growing a mustache, beard or somewhere in between for the month of November to benefit prostate cancer research.

How awesome is that? Pretty awesome if you like Halloween costumes to begin with. Pretty awesome if looking scruffy at work annoys your tightwad partners. Pretty awesome if you always knew a handlebar mustache would look killer on you.

I’m so in.

Unfortunately, being genetically downstream from me, you will find hair growth and retention is not a banner feature of our chromosomal disposition. So I started Movember a couple weeks early. After the first day of growth, I asked you whether you knew how to grow a mustache. Your response:

“You don’t shave so you can grow hair on your upper lip. Then you speak Spanish.”

I know every parent has a hallucinogenic hormone that selectively enhances your kid’s most drab dialogue to enchantment, but that shit is funny. Unfortunately, I couldn’t extract the source of your insight instead receiving a noncommittal shrug as if it was an obvious explanation. This must be an example of too few data points but strong correlation!

After lots of observational data this quarter, I’ve reached a new conclusion about you. You are a builder. You recently received a complex Star Wars Lego package aimed at ten year olds and I resigned myself to a couple hours of assembly. Procrastinating, I headed upstairs, but when I came back down I found your head buried in the instructions, putting the final touches on a fully assembled spacecraft. I was dumbfounded.

Since that time, we’ve witnessed you putting together all manner of contraptions from electronic robots to plastic models. What is striking is your comprehension of complicated instructions and your terribly meticulous hands. You can manipulate and assemble the smallest and most complex objects. Grangie, upon seeing this, said, “You’ve got a brain surgeon.” Or maybe your (maybe girl) friend Ady said it best: you are “The best Luke in the world!”

As a final sign off, you had your first sleep over at Marley XXX's house on 9/21/12. We expected a homesick call around midnight. It never materialized.



Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Cinderella Incident

Cash & Daddy's Fourth Year and a Quarter

It was random. In the spirit political correctness, the parts for the Beaver Class Cinderella play were picked by lottery and any child could play any part no matter the sex of the character. Up until that point in the year, you’d been fortunate. You’d been placed in Mrs. Insley’s class, River Schools most singularly talented teacher, with lots of old friends and the Weller reputation to carry you forward.

On this day your luck ran out. As your hand slipped into the character jar, every little girl peered over your shoulder covetous for a certain blonde part. As you withdrew a folded slip of paper, the girls feverishly hopped around you.

At our parent-teacher conference, Mrs. Insley, Ms. XXXX and Ms. XXXX acknowledged their PC utopia had a vulnerability, a rickety flood dyke that a certain tidal wave could rip through. They knew you would never play a girl, much less the lead girl, but they rolled the dice. You opened the paper.


... and lost. Despair rose and crashed through the girls’ hopes.  “Uh oh,” echoed in the minds of your instructors. A slight pause, your back straightened, and then the roar.


Your fury cascaded through the boys in the class, all crying for freedom from hackles of female roles. The poor teachers had to reconstruct the entire casting of the play.

That's how you became Jaq, the ringleader of Cinderalla's platoon of mice. Its a fitting role. Jaq has scruffy hair like yours and speaks pidgin English that sounds remarkably like your chatter. You loved the part because (dude!) you got to be transformed into a horse by the Fairy Godmother! So cool.

Your bullheadedness can be, well, a challenge, but its a double-edged sword with formidable strengths too. Hiking with you to a high alpine lake called Diamond Lake 10,000 feet in the Rockies highlighted such a case. We hiked during a camping excursion with the Browns and Silvergleids.

Upon hearing the lake's name, your head filled with visions of a lake full of diamonds despite my assurances otherwise. You insisted on seeing it yourself. So off we went and the trail got very challenging quickly. Several in our party turned around.

But not Cash! You led a charge up the mountain, climbing rocky steps bigger than you, at a pace faster than everyone (including me). We were all shocked at your energy. You simply didn't give up until peered onto the beautifully silver lake.

The Diamond Lake march showed a toughness even in the face of pain, obstinance in your desire to attain your goal. I was so proud! But you were not:

"There are no Diamonds in this lake!"

The disappointment washed away every last ounce of your energy. Guess who was stuck carrying a sleeping Machine all the way down the mountain?



Friday, August 31, 2012

Summer 2012 Roundup

Top three household events this birthday quarter:

1) First baseball game watching Rockies!
2) Potomac house finally has exterior trim.
3) Camping in the Rockies with the Browns Silvergleids.

Three Songs I’ve been listening to:

1) Ain't No Stoppin', Ferry Corsten (featuring Ben Hague), WKND (2012)
2) Little Black Submarines, The Black Keys, El Camino (2011)
3) Ain't No Rest for the Wicked, Cage the Elephant, Single (2008)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Beginnings of Things

Luke & Dad's Sixth Year

The beginnings of things happen in unlikely places. In the early seventies, a dingy club in the backwaters of New York City hosted a raw form of entertainment, that of the stand up comic. Bud Freidman's Improvisation Club in Hell's Deep was the lair of a tawdry group of comedians seemingly intent on not being funny.

The acts seemed, at times, random. In one, a wayward hobo accidentally takes stage from the street. The audience is confused if its real, then bewildered as he emotionally breaks down only to pause … and break into an Elvis impression! Another comedian was so sensitive that if his first joke didn't go over, he'd leave the stage in a hurt huff.

Yet, the comedians pushed each other, stretching how comedy was defined, abstracting as Picasso does his lovers. Slowly, amidst some very bad behavior, each came to realize something special was emerging. They were ushering in a new generation of humor that reverberates today, and many became ridiculously famous. Out of that group came Jay Leno, Richard Lewis, Larry David (the hurt huff) and, probably most importantly to me, the (possibly) late Andy Kauffman, the hobo.

The most innovative things are not sought after. They are therefore the least predictable. Such inventions emerge from nowhere, or somewhere close to nowhere, rising from a group of individuals following a shared passion, who collaborate and compete, and who suddenly, collectively, realize something amorphous but important has happened. I didn't know I needed the Internet until it existed; neither did its creators. That is the magic of being at the beginnings of things.

I mention this because it speaks to staying true to your passions, those areas you naturally want to spend your mind. Over and over the biggest successes arise from individuals like those comics who follow their instincts into unlikely and maybe even unsightly places. They collaborate with like-minded people and create something new.

In you I have a son with many fascinations and a gifted imagination. I can sometimes inspire your interests or at least nudge them one direction or another. Its my job to reinforce the instincts that seem most natural in you, even if I don't share them, even if they seem risky. And I expect that some of your passions will diverge from my wishes, a primary theme of youth from Romeo & Juliet to Finding Nemo.

Nonetheless, follow your nose Luke. And remind me wrote this when I get scared.



Saturday, June 30, 2012


Cash & Dad's Fourth Year

Dropping you off at school can be an embarrassing experience. You often hop out of the car a tattooed punk star, skin stained a bouquet. The ink is unintentional body art, residue from many artistic ventures. Add your blonde hair’s propensity to spike and your teachers believe you are Billy Idol reincarnated.

Leondardo Divicni is more like it. Over the course of a day, you get paint and Crayola markers on your face, arms, hands and legs. No matter how hard we scrub you, you still wake the next day with markings of the prior day’s binge. You just love your artwork. 

Like Leonardo, you don’t limit yourself to drawing and painting; you have several creative outlets. From your Gramps you've inherited a real eye for photography. When Rachel and I found Cashy pictures on our iPhones, we assumed they were accidental. Only after witnessing you scout then shoot subjects did the intent behind the compositions become clear. Many of your photographs make the mundane look artistic and we can’t help wondering what the Cashy-mind was thinking as each picture was snapped!

You also engage in Davinci-like experiments. Starting with a bowl of water, you dissolve things, many things, and you watch the emerging, swirling vortexes of color. You seem to mentally capture the patterns before the beauty of each structure passes. Unfortunately, the experiments involve significant cleanups and checks on Churchill for poisoning – you test your concoctions on him.

Perhaps this blog's Leonardo fetish is borne of our international escapade to Tuscany, Italy. We vacationed with the Linehan’s -- Chip, Molly, Cormac and Mia –- in a beautiful house just outside of Lucca, an ancient city that weathered the Etruscans, Romans, Irish, French and the Wellers. No wonder it has massive walls surrounding it!

We left the trip with many great memories of your multifaceted nature. Mia, the Linehan's one year old girl, was upset after falling. Without warning, you walked up and presented her with a flower and a hug. Where did you learn that move? Not from me, Cashanova.

Lucca's piazzas share a feature common in many Italian squares: pigeons. As we ate a pizza dinner, you, Luke and Cormac were entranced by the birds and decided to engage them. Your course of action?

"I'm gonna catch a chicken!"

A classic line. That line, however, was trumped by a scene I'll never forget. One afternoon, Chip and I took you, Luke and Cormac for gelato. After ingesting your sugar hits, you boys were so out of control we retreated to a nearby park. 

You and Luke raced towards a beautiful Italian sculptured fountain shaped like a modernized peace Dove. Conversing with Chip, I wasn't looking your direction when I caught sight of a woman covering her mouth her mouth in shock. I turned ... only to see two shiny fannies staring back at me.

You guys were peeing in the fountain.

One last thought on Mr. Divinci since I'm on the subject. While Leonardo's thirst for knowledge is well known, his notes show how organized he was about that cultivation. Knowing he was visiting Milan in 1489, he wrote "get Brera friar to show you De ponderibus," a work on medieval mechanics. A few lines later he mentions a book on optics by a writer known today as Witelo: "Try to get Vitolone which is in the library at Pavia." He kept an inventory of sources and where he might find them during in his travels. That forethought is impressive.

Cashy, take your artistic passions and explore the questions that arise. Apply a little planning and you may find yourself a rarity in the world. Happy birthday Cashy!



Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spring 2012 Roundup

Top three household events this quarter:

1) Awesome trip to Tuscany, Italy with the Linehans.
2) We partied at SXSW!
3) Our Potomac house got a roof.

Three Songs I’ve been listening to:

1) Trojans, Atlas Genius, Through the Glass (2012)
2) The Cave, Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More (2010)
3) The Fusion, Omnia & IRA, Single (2012)

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Boss

Luke & Dad's Firth Year and Three Quarters

I’m sitting at the bottom of Bald Mountain at Sun Valley, Idaho in cozy River Run Lodge waiting for your mom to complete more aggressive skiing than my snowboarding skills allow. Frankly, I spent the last hour falling headlong down the mountain, yearning for the warm hearth I am now enjoying. How the hell did I ever Snowboard without a helmet?

Anyway, I’ve been anxious to get a few moments to capture a classic Lukey scene from yesterday. Rather than drop you and Cash off at Dollar Mountain’s ski school as we usually do, the Weller clan engaged in multiple family activities including bowling, arcade games, swimming in a steaming outdoor pool, riding gondolas, eating cheese fondue and generally mucking around. We had great fun despite the occasional Weller scuffles here and there.

On the way home from pizza dinner that capped the day, you started asking for “goggly eyes”, little plastic eyes that morph any object into a creature of remarkable personality. All you need is a little glue. You wanted to add these eyes to black paper and cutout the outline of a spider. Sorry, not just a spider, but Shelob, the wicked spider-god from Return of the King and your current obsession.

What came next was a chain reaction of Lukey realizations that was fascinating to watch. You decided you were not satisfied with just one spider, so you decided to manufacture lots. Then the first light bulb went off:

“And I’ll sell them!”

My head snapped your direction. Do I have a budding entrepreneur on my hands? Does my son take after the many visionary risk takers I work with? That’s when your eyes widened, the second bulb igniting, blazing away any doubt of your potential.

“Because its my idea, I get to be the boss!”

Boom. Inspiration and creativity are core to entrepreneurial drive, but the mother of all invention is not wanting a boss, ever. So absolutely yes, if its your idea, you get to be the man! The possibility of working for myself didn’t enter my mind until my late twenties. You beat me by two decades, son.

When you noted that you’d like to run a toy store from which you could sell your Shelobs, you asked another observant question:

“What if no one comes to my toy store?”

After a pause you said, “Maybe I’ll put up signs.” You’ve already got marketing figured out. (Maybe you could teach me a thing or two about marketing as I seem incapable of marketing myself.)

Aside from the entrepreneurial possibilities, we may also have a budding ski stud. Here at Dollar Mountain, they facilitated a series of kid ski races. You won your five-year-old age group despite this being your first week of skiing ever. Between you and Cash (who also won his age group), I can see us spending an ungodly amount of money pursuing this hobby. Luke, the sooner you get that startup going, the better.



Saturday, March 31, 2012

What is a Boy?

Cash & Daddy's Third Year and Three Quarters

This quarter, my father, your Gramps, sent me a treasure: an essay penned by your Great-Great Gramps Harry Deets Weller, Sr., about his son, your Great Gramps, Harry Deets Weller, Jr., titled “What is a Boy?” Your G^2 Gramps makes observations that describe you and Luke well, and you are right at the age he reflects upon.

So, your guest blogger today is your G^2 Gramps Harry Jr., and make no mistake Cash, he is talking about you and me! Here is a copy of the actual letter followed by the text, blog-style! If only Harry Sr. imagined his letter in this form ...

What is a Boy?
Between the innocence of babyhood and the dignity of manhood we find a delightful creature called a boy. Boys come in assorted sizes, weights and colors, but all boys have the same creed: To enjoy every second of every minute of every hour of every day and to protest with noise (their only weapon) when their last minute is finished and the adult males pack them off to bed at night. 
Boys are found everywhere -- on top of, underneath, inside of, climbing on, swinging from, running around or jumping to. Mothers love them, little girls hate them, older sisters and brothers tolerate them, adults ignore them, and Heaven protects them. A boy is Truth with dirt on its face, Beauty with a cut on its finger, Wisdom with bubble gum in its hair, and the Hope of the future with a frog in its pocket. 
When you are busy, a boy is inconsiderate, bothersome, intruding jangle of noise. When you want him to make a good impression, his brains turn to jelly or else he becomes a savage, sadistic, jungle creature bent on destroying the world and himself with it. 
A boy is a composite -- he has the appetite of a horse, the digestion of a sword swallower, the energy of a pocket-size atomic bomb, the curiosity of a cat, the lungs of a dictator, the imagination of Paul Bunyan, the shyness of violet, the audacity of a steel trap, the enthusiasm of a firecracker, and when he makes something he has five thumbs on each hand. 
He likes ice cream, knives, saws, Christmas, comic books, the boy across the street, woods, water (in its natural habitat), large animals, Dad, trains, Saturday mornings and fire engines. He is not much for Sunday school, company, schools, books without pictures, music lessons, neckties, barbers, girls, overcoats, adults, or bedtime. 
Nobody else is so early to rise, or so late to super. Nobody else gets so much fun out of trees, dogs and breezes. Nobody else can cram into one pocket a rusty knife, a half-eaten apple, three feet of string, an empty Bull Durham sack, two gumdrops, six cents, a sling shot, a chunk of unknown substance and a genuine super-sonic code ring with a secret compartment. 
A boy is a magical creature -- you can lock him out of your workshop, but you can't lock him out of your heart. You can get him out of your study, but you can't get him out of your mind. Might as well give up -- he is your captor, your jailer, your boss and your master -- a freckled-face, pint-sized, cat-chasing bundle of noise. But when you come home at night with only the shattered pieces of your hopes and dreams, he can mend them like new with two magic words -- "HI, DAD!"

For me, the work simultaneously transports me back to my own childhood while capturing today’s experience of being a father. That memory of childhood coupled with the experience of fatherhood, those two notions together in close proximity, conjure a question:

Would I want me as a father?

That’s a tough question to answer. But the answer may matter less than the process the question represents: the process of asking myself that question each and every day. I want to be the best father I can be(come) for you.



P.S. Well, how about this: the essay ISN'T by G^2 Weller, but rather by someone else! A nice reader pointed this out as you can see below. I'm now going to go a pop Gramp's bubble!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Winter 2012 Roundup

Top three household events this quarter:

1) Santa came to Washington with a bound!
2) Daddy went surfing in Costa Rica
3) Monster Truck Show at Verizon

Three Songs I’ve been listening to:

1) The Cave, Mumford & Sons, Sign No More (released XXXX)
2) Trojans, Atlas Genius, (released XXXX)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Old Man

Luke & Dad's Fifth Year and a Half

One of the perplexing things about getting older is that you realize you haven’t drawn conclusions that, as a youth, you were certain you would. Take my feelings on God. I would’ve thought I’d have God all ironed out by now. All it took was one question from an inquisitive son to expose the shoddy workmanship of my personal religion.

“Daddy, did you know God is an Old Man?”

Glancing at Rachel, I was surprised by the question. I’d never heard you interested in God. I was admittedly pleased too because, for a religious question, this one I could handle.

“Actually, God is not a man. He is everywhere, in everything.”

Scraping God like butter over the entire universe fits my thinking. God and the universe being one allows for every possibility. It leaves open the possibility that heaven exists, that the soul perpetuates, that purple aliens will eventually show up.

“If God is everything, can’t he be an old man?”

The issue with all those possibilities: you can hide in them. And then forget you are hiding. That is, until your son points out that your logic folds in on itself, contradicting earlier statements.

“Dad, Bryce told me God is an old man at school. You don’t know and he knows.”

My opinion carries less weight than a fifty-pound kindergartner? This is another suffering of age. I may face a reckoning for my incomplete God assignment, but I’m not going to be shown up by a kid. Faith, logic and experience compete within to make a great man, but every now and again you summon the animal spirit, the forcefulness that keeps man safely distanced from enlightenment. That is the example I provide, my gift to you:

“Luke, as far as you are concerned, I am your god.”

Speaking of God and gifts, I’ve been working on convincing you and Cash that brotherhood is a gift from God. The two of you have been competing a bit too much over, well, everything. Even when I buy two versions of the exact same Star Wars Lego toy, somehow there is a battle over the indistinguishable.

So, I’ve been working a new mantra: “Team Weller!” From the moment you both wake up, I make sure we do a group hug and scream “Team Weller!” Whenever there is an upset, I get you both to look one another in the eye and say “Team Weller!” Having a brother is a friend for life: God’s gift to you.