When is a chore not a chore?

Cricket was gently informed at bedtime that he’d have to clean his room in the morning before he came out. It wasn’t a huge mess, but enough to make one wary of lurking Legos that lie in wait for unsuspecting feet.

In the morning he is all pouty-faced, sitting on the floor and staring at a 5-minute cleanup job as if he were saddled with a mountain with litter strewn everywhere for him to pick up. Continue reading


By J. Parrish Lewis

 I drove into sunlight
 63 miles an hour
 the Sun’s stare skipped across the heavens
 — a sharp pebble across the stream —
 godrays knowing
 as if knowing and illumination
 were one and the same
 I had to shield my eyes
 and pull down the visor
 but there’s no hiding brilliance
 that truly wants to reach you.

Mean Daddy, making me play!

I have such little tolerance for boredom in my kids. Ladybug spent year 7 of her life being bored all the time in the middle of her room full of toys and books and everything else. Cricket has been doing the same thing since he was 5.

He’s nearing 8 and I’m losing a brain cell every time I see him bored enough to flop on the floor like a fish. It wouldn’t be so bad if he felt like flopping on the floor was fun, but he doesn’t. Continue reading

Omelet Girl

“Can you teach me how to make an omelet?” asks 11-year-old Ladybug.

I think about it for a moment, imagining dropped pans and scalded fingers and melting spatulas, then say yes.

She learns quickly. It is a day later that she makes omelets for the entire family. Her attention drifts carefully from whisking the bowl of eggs for the next person to keeping an eye on the slowly-cooking omelet on the stove. She carefully places a slice of cheese and two strips of veggie bacon on the omelet, then folds the egg over it. It seems an act of meditation.

When she presents my omelet to me on my plate, she is all smiles and gentle pride.

I think about how many times I’ve made meals for the family and just rush through the process. I usually just want to get the meal made, for I am not a person that has loved the process of cooking. I have something to learn from my student. She reminds me to be attentive and appreciate the act of cooking.

Zen pops up in unexpected ways, even in the omelets a daughter makes.

That which does not make you stronger, kills you. -J. Parrish Lewis

The Raven Nevermore

By J. Parrish Lewis
Respectfully dedicated to Edgar Allen Poe*

Art by Justin Lewis

Art by Justin Lewis

     Once upon a wet night rainy, while I flittered, soaked and zany,
Over many a large and luminous house of begotten man,
     While I fluttered, dearly flapping, suddenly here went I tapping,
     As a raven, lightly rapping, rapping at a window pane.
“’Tis just a raven,” I muttered, “rapping at thy window pane—
          Only me and nothing more.”

     Oh, precisely I remember it was in a brisk November;
And each separate falling raindrop brought a frost upon my core.
     Hopelessly I chased the morrow;—sadly I had thought to follow
     With my heart’s desire to wallow—shadows of the lost Crenore—
For the dark and brilliant raven whom the Spirits name Crenore—
          Flightless now for evermore.

     And the sopping, slick, uncomfy drenching of each glossy feather
Chilled me—filled me with such spastic shivers never felt before;
     So that then, to calm the pounding in my brain, I sat recroaking
     “’Tis but one raven requesting shelter in thy chamber dry—
A wet old raven requesting shelter in thy chamber dry;—
          That it is, oh nothing more.”

     Presently my beak grew icy; the air feeling then so frosty,
“Cawd,” thought I, “oh human, only some warm shelter I implore;
     But the fact is I was flapping, and so soundly you were napping,
     And so softly I was rapping, rapping at thy window pane,
That I dare not hope you heard me”—there he opened wide his door;
          — “Over here!” thought Nevermore.

     Deep into that chamber peeking, long I sat there pondering, creeping,
Plotting, thinking thoughts no raven ever dared to think before;
     But the human was a moron, and his dullness sparked no hoping,
     And the only sounds I heard then were two whispered words, “Len Or?”
This he questioned, and so I merely croaked back the words, “Len Or?”
          — Merely me, oh Nevermore.

     Back nearby the window croaking, all feathers thoroughly soaking,
Soon again I went a-rapping somewhat harder than before.
     “Come on,” thought I, “come on, I am needing just thy chamber’s shelter;
     Let me in, then, where the warmth is, from this misery escape—
Let thy heart be kind a moment and this misery escape;
          — ‘Tis the raven, Nevermore!”

     At last here he slammed the shutter, then, with many a flit and mutter,
In there flew this weary Raven from the deathly touch of cold.
     Not the least of welcomes made he; not a cocoa poured warm displayed he.
     So, with mind of bird so sulky, plopped above his chamber door—
Plopped upon a dusty statue just above his chamber door—
          Plopped, and griped, this Nevermore.

     Then this quite bony man conjuring necromancy through his grinning,
By depraved and mad qualities of the expression he bore,
     “Thothi crustbe shor nand shay venn, thow,” he said, “urt shur noh cray venn.”
     Quickly then this baffled Raven suffering from this wordy chore—
Tuned I out his snooty speeches on that night’s Plutonian snore!
          Poor old Raven Nevermore.

     Much I wondered this unruly man to speak his words so coarsely,
For his babble very lacking—quickly triggered drowsy snores.
     And you cannot help agreeing that no living lordly raven
     Ever yet had graced a human being with his presence grand—
Bird of Kings upon a bulky statue with his presence grand,
          As such the bird Nevermore.

     And the human, staring blankly at my regal self, jaw dropping
At my name, as if my name in that one word prompted terror.
     Not a token did he offer—not a live worm did he proffer—
     Then he barely more than blabbered: “uth er frens hahv flon bea fohr—
Onthuh mar roh hee wil leev mee, asmi howps hahv flon bea fohr.”
          So croaked this Raven: “Nevermore.”

     Baffled by his dullness proven by discourse so lamely spoken,
“Doubtful,” thought I, “that its mutters are so truly thoughts and words
     Taught by some impatient teacher whose quite fanciful features
     Swallowed feats and hollowed creatures with his choice of pointy swords—
Till the fables of this Hero that bore a choice of pointy swords
          Were shared then, nevermore.

     And the human still befuddling my grey matter into numbness,
Straight he wheeled a lumpy seat toward me across dusty floor;
     Then, upon his cushion plunking, he postured his Self as coolness,
     Fancy and so schmancy, posing with a majestic bird to adore—
With this trim, unmanly, mighty, modest and majestic bird to adore
          Quite the Raven, Nevermore.

     There I perched ensnared in dumbing, with no interest forthcoming
In the man whose bleary eyes now fixed onto my noble self;
     Thus, therefore I sat daydreaming, with my thoughts a breeze streaming
     On a cupcake’s velvet icing that some sprinkles floated o’er,
But whose velvet chocolate icing with the sprinkles floating o’er,
          I shall taste, I never know!

     Then, methought, the air grew rotten, perfumed by the human’s bottom,
Stung my nostrils then, gross vapors spreading through my sodden core
     “Wretch,” I thought, “my God, what ate ye—oh these odors you hath sent me
     Mercy—Mercy and urgent rest from thy incursions of odor;
Help, oh help this poor raven guest to escape this gross odor!”
          Breathe, oh Raven, never more.

Artwork by Justin Lewis

Artwork by Justin Lewis

    “Beastly!” thought I, “scent of devils!—beastly swill, of good or evil!—
Whether breakfast vents, or whether noontime snacks be hairy boars,
     Adequate yet so distasteful, in this garish room disgraceful—
     With this man with manners hateful—smell me truly, every pore— Is the—is the stink in my feathers?—smell me—smell me, I do roar!”
          Fart-bombed Raven Nevermore.

     “Beastly!” thought I, “scent of devils!—beastly swill, of good or evil!—
By Lord Raven who rules above us—by that God I doth adore—
     Tell this bird with nostrils hurting if, within this musky chamber,
     You do have a certain perfume which angels name Lavender—
Have a fresh and reviving perfume which angels name Lavender.”
          Cawed this Raven, “Lavender!”

     “Let that end your time of farting, vulgar man!” I willed, imparting—
“Give this shack unto thy damp guest and walk swiftly on out the door!”
     How his shrill squawks were a proof, then, of that sign his brain hath broken!
     “Leave thy grouchiness unspoken!—quit this room I now adore!
Take thy feet from off my rug, and walk thy self on out my door!”
          Quoth Lord Raven Nevermore.

     And the Human, ever gritting, still is spitting, still is spitting
With a putrid gust of bad breath just beneath me like a spore;
     And his mouth spouts all the seething of a dragon’s that is teething,
     And perched I right o’er him breathing, watching mad throes of a bore;
And my wings over those mad throes that cry flopping on the floor
          Shall be sopping—nevermore!
*This poem has been crafted carefully with the utmost respect for Mr. Poe’s original poem, The Raven. When I was a young man, I read his works obsessively and was inspired by his mastery. Today I remain a fan of Mr. Poe’s work. In the process of creating this poem as a humorous homage to his famous work, I developed a deeper appreciation for how much talent he possessed in order to write the original. I don’t know what he would have thought of my version, but I Iike to think that perhaps it would have brought a few laughs to a man that wrestled with a lot of darkness in his own life. May he have found peace and laughter in the afterlife.

It was a dark and stormy Father’s Day

Thunder crashed. Wind lamented its life with haunted howls. Cats screeched or perhaps meowed. I heard none of this, of course, but it happened. Lightning flashes lit up the frame of the front door.

The doorknob turned. Slowly, steadily, ever so mercilessly. From across the room, sitting in my Daddy chair, I watched. The lights flickered in the room, then extinguished one by one until I was left with only the darkness within and the bright storm without. An imagined click sounded in my head as the door popped open just an inch.  Continue reading

Moving Boxes

We recently moved to a new home, which meant we were in possession of boxes upon boxes upon boxes. We started out at the old house with everything (well, about half of it mostly everything) packed neatly into boxes.

We forked over extra to have professional movers for a few hours, but amazingly we had much more stuff than I would have figured, so the movers did half while we took care of the other half. Carload after carload, and a truckload from a friend as well, before the movers came to do the rest. Continue reading

Cloud 9 With Chance of Bunnies

Tipped my head in Ladybug’s direction, talking to my wife. “She said earlier today, ‘when we move to our new house can we pleaaaaase have a compost?'”

The eavesdropping Ladybug jumped forward and launched into her reasons why she wants a compost, which is admittedly fantastic and shows she’s a better environmentalist than I am.

“Should we tell them about the rabbits?” my wife asked. I nodded. Continue reading

Unidentified Flying Orange

{An orange flying through space looking like a UFO}Went to Farmers’ market this morning, with the kiddos in tow. Got some leeks, Romaine, free range eggs -sadly, the white- and a trio of Greek delicacies including the necessary dolmas.

Out of nowhere, a large orange flew at my head, smacking me right in the middle of my forehead. Then it hovered in mid-air, spinning like some kind of micro-planet detached from its normal rotation. Continue reading

The Daddy Pooh

He squeezes the bear as if the act with bring it to life. It is older than he is, because it was my Winnie the Pooh once upon a time when I was still a child. There’s something special about having a stuffed bear that is older than you are.

I gave Winnie to Cricket gladly, last year, with one caveat: Take care of him.

He treats him like a treasure, exactly as I’d like. He holds my memories in his arms.

“Love your Pooh Bear?” I ask.

“My Daddy Pooh Bear,” he says, throwing me a smile.

Leaving childhood far behind is made so much easier by having the privilege of being there for his and his sister’s childhood. I am blessed with two children who know the value of a stuffed animal.


Ladybug Reading

Isn’t it amazing when kids become bookworms in this day and age? My daughter’s as bookwormy as they come. She even mocked my Kindle reader.
“That’s SO not a book,” she said.
“Well, it’s got an abundance of books.”
“Still not a book,” and she buries her nose into her treasured book. For every book is a treasure.


Snapshot: Catch

He comes out of his room bearing two mitts, a pink ball, and hope written in his expression.

“Play catch with me?”

I am tired, mentally and physically, and I’ve just sat down on the couch to relax. But there is so much hope in those eyes and in that simple request. I am reminded of the countless times he asks me to play this game or that game or anything else, and how I often say, “not this time.”

“Sure,” I say, dragging myself outside.  Continue reading

Repeating A Grade Can Be Good News

A few months ago, my wife figured out that our adopted son started school a year earlier than he should have, placed into Kindergarten by his foster parents before he ever moved into our home. When we first brought him home, he was in 1st grade by then.

He was barely literate at the time. Struggling to read even basic picture books. A year and a half has passed since then, and he is doing fantastic. Yet he still felt bad about himself. He was comparing himself to the other kids in the grade he was in. Last year in 1st grade and this year in 2nd, he’s compared himself. No matter how much we try to get him to not compare, he does it. Continue reading


The Goblin Road available for purchase

jessecover2I have decided, after a lot of thought, to make The Goblin Road available for purchase again through Createspace.com and Amazon. Perhaps one day, I’ll find a more permanent home for this novel. It’s my first (ahem, complete) novel, so it has a cozy little nook in my brain. Ouch.

If you want a paperback, because paperbacks are just so good to hold, order it HERE.

If you want a kindle version, you can get that on Amazon. Saves trees, but less cool.

If you want an autographed version, well, e-mail me. I may be willing to drag myself over to the post office. Because, you know, I like you people. Well, most of you. The ones that buy my book.

Meanwhile, I will go back to working on the sequel, one sentence at a time.


Snapshot: The Tea Maker

Cricket’s got into the habit lately of begging me to be able to make me a cup of tea. So I relented. You know, because I care. I don’t want his childhood memories to be of being deprived of the privilege of making Daddy a cup of tea. Totally unselfish.

He drags a stepping stool over to the cupboard and selects the Daddy cup. Fills it halfway with water, because any more than that will lead to puddles. He drags the stool to the other side of the kitchen and pulls out the box of assorted teas. He’s not ready for the tins of Joy’s Teaspoon loose leaf, but I will remedy that, because I don’t want to hold him back. He sniffs a packet of Twinnings Irish Breakfast and, satisfied with the scent, puts it on the counter. Continue reading

ASL Students Fully Engaging

At just about every deaf social event I go to, there are ASL students. I am one of many deaf community members that really welcome ASL students to our events. I wanted to write this post as an encouraging one for these students.

I see most of you sitting on the sidelines. Perhaps it is shyness, perhaps it is fear. Probably it’s that and more, that keep you lurking on the edges of the tables and in the corners, away from the deaf community you came to interact with. Continue reading

Holographic Interpreters and Google CC Glasses

The title says it: the two inventions that need to happen right away for the deaf community.

We really just want to understand what is being said around us. Imagine, if someone who uses American Sign Language as his primary mode of communication was able to press a button on a smart phone or a smart watch or a smart toothpick, and a holographic interpreter popped into existence?

“Ready for interpretation?” asks the interpreter, who is entirely composed of light. Continue reading

Sibling Rivalry

My dear fellow parents,

Gladly, I will accept your two cents or more on any successful methods you’ve used in reducing sibling rivalry, at least the severity and frequency of it. As someone who once was not a parent, but still had ideas about parenting, I really do feel now that it makes a tremendous difference having kids and being able to implement all those ideas. What I thought back in those pre-parenting days would have worked, hasn’t always. Sometimes we come up with ideas that we wouldn’t have had until we had kids.

Share your wealth of experience, please. Continue reading

Deaf Driver

Apparently, as I was driving off on an errand, the postman was honking his horn at me to get me to stop for a large package. I obviously didn’t hear, being profoundly deaf, so he went to the door and my wife answered.

He mentioned his having uselessly honked and my obliviousness to the ruckus, so my wife said, “yeah, he’s completely Deaf!”

And then comes: “and THEY let him drive?!” Continue reading