Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

From Hornets To Ladybugs

These are my two boys, also known as Unorganized Hancock, playing the Talking Heads song This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody ).

It’s another selection from their performance at the Fryeburg Fair a week ago. This is the very last song I got on video. We recharged the battery in the camera between sets, but the kids outlasted it anyway. They played three shows, at one, two, and three o’clock. There was a particularly enthusiastic crowd for the third show, and the boys played a half-dozen encore songs, so the third set lasted for a full hour and ten minutes. All in all, they performed for 150 minutes, easy, not including two breaks. When I was a professional musician, a full day’s work was three, forty-five minute sets. My boys were paid as adults, and earned it.

As far as I noticed, the Spare Heir never made a mistake. Not one. He’s eleven. My wife told me he dropped a stick when I wasn’t looking, but he just picks up another and never hesitates, so I didn’t catch it. The Heir faltered here and there. Forgot a word. Fumbled over more than one Wes Montgomery lick. Then again, he had to play and sing for nearly three hours with only an eleven-year-old to help him. His might be the greater feat.

We fill the Spare Heir’s bass drum with stuffed animals to be amusing, because he’s been doing this since he was eight, but that’s not the only reason. He plays too loud for the room they practice in. He plays too loud for everywhere if I don’t stuff his drums. Playing loud is stupid, so I don’t allow it. But he plays hard. Halfway through one of the songs, he looked at his brother, never missing a beat, and informed him over the microphone that the bass drum beater, which looks like a short tympani stick, and is operated by a foot pedal, had come flying off. He never stopped playing. I could have played those drums until Kingdom Come and still not loosened that clamp. It was fixed between songs, and off they went.

We have an abandoned bedroom in the attic that they practice in. It doesn’t have any heat, or even any electricity for that matter. If the boys want to practice, they have to drag an extension cord all the way down the hall. The plaster is coming off the walls in big chunks. Until my Heir and I jacked up the house, the floor sloped like the Titanic two hours after they stopped for ice. It’s still kinda roly-poly, but a dropped pencil doesn’t make it all the way to the back wall anymore. The room used to be filled with hornets all the time. I’m allergic to hornets, and one sting will kill me in an instant, so I kept the drum lessons short. The roof over this room was open to the air when we moved here, and while we got rid of the squirrels when I climbed up there and fixed it, the hornets stayed. The windows in the dormer were in such bad shape that the hornets passed in and out through the defunct weight pockets and the window frames. My Heir and I got some old, salvaged windows from a neighbor’s remodel, and some boards from another neighbor who was cleaning out his garage, and we installed the windows in place of the old ones, and trimmed it out with the free boards. Now the room is filled with ladybugs.

I hope my boys’ lives will go from hornets to ladybugs in the same way — with patient, unyielding effort. I am filled with doubts. How much better do they need to be before anyone notices that they’re extraordinary?

[Update: Many thanks to Kathleen M. from Connecticut for her constant support of my boys. It is greatly appreciated]
[More up to date: Many thanks to Charles E. from The Land of Enchantment for his generous support. It is greatly appreciated.]

11 Responses

  1. Have hope. We, who gather here, have long known it, and, one day, someone who can actually do something with it, will too. Life also gives us ladybugs..

  2. I suppose it is only natural for a parent to have doubts. In my case it is more worry than doubt.

    But it is already self evident that your boys are extraordinary. And will only get more so — ladybugs are on the way.

  3. "How much better do they need to be before anyone notices that they're extraordinary?"

    I know. You know. They know.

    That's all the start you need. It's not a sprint. It's a marathon.

  4. This reminds me that you haven't completed the task of telling us how you jacked up the house.

    I met a woman who lived in an apartment that used to be military housing. The owners repaint every time someone moves out, so most of them are heavily painted. She'd been there a very long time, and her windows were a bit loose. She said she had hundreds of ladybugs in her bedroom–enough to make their odor obvious. I haven't seen any in my house, yet, but I don't get too many. And no laddybugs chasing them, either.

  5. "How much better do they need to be before anyone notices that they're extraordinary?" For you and the "heir's" mom, the day that they were born. The rest of us, not so quickly. However, they are well on their way because they have loving parents and they are being provided the one thing that turns disaster into cupcakes. Discipline.

  6. Sipp, my uncle Letsgo Lozko told me one time, complete with Hungarian accent, "Czarlie, you ever safe anybody's life it gunna be by accident".
    I figured out years later that he was speaking to self-awareness, motive and humility. If I tried to do good deeds with a "hey lookit me" attitude I failed or the good part of the deed was invalidated.
    As others have mentioned in this string your sons are very talented. Part of the appeal is the lack of ego. I played pro for some years, I know some ego is needed but nowhere near third base. The bible allows us pride, as in "well done my good and faithful servant …" and disdains false pride. your sons deserve praise and they ought to be proud. You and their mom should feel good as well. Letsgo also said "to know the parents look at the children".

  7. What Gerard said. Obviously they are extraordinary. Thoroughbreds. You're providing a safe corral for them to romp and kick and run, and us old hands are looking at the yearling and the young colt and thinking, "I'd put money on 'em."

    And if I had any, I would.

    One day, their corral will get much larger, the boundaries will move outward and, who knows? Their younger disciplines will stay them in a goodly hour, in its time. It's all good. Extraordinarily good.

  8. My Lad is nine; he is the absolute best at being himself that you could ever imagine. Much of the time this is good. I can only hope he incorporates whatever good stuff I have to offer, and learns from the rest. My dad said everyone has a gift, and mine was to be the best bad example there was. Explains a lot about me…

  9. Hello from Fryeburg Louisiana. It used to be called Hope but the train went on to Hope Arkansas and Hope Louisiana confused them.

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