Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Facial hair.  A large pickup truck.  Camouflage clothing.  Go ahead, sport it.  Doesn't mean you're a man.

On another blog I write, I talk about many subjects, some of which most people would categorize as "manly".  That's all well and good, but grilling meat, traipsing out of doors, and listening to country music doesn't automatically earn you an invitation to be in the Man Club.  That prestigious honor is only bestowed upon you if you are a good, moralistic, caring person that happens to be of the male gender.  At least that's how I see it.

Do you do all you can for your family?  In many cases, it's our job to commute to the office, factory, or field five or six days a week to earn that 100% necessary paycheck to maintain a certain lifestyle, or scratch and claw to provide food and shelter.  Other times we take a different role and commit to raising our children while our significant other earns the necessary paycheck.  This version may not be as old fashioned, but I don't find it unmanly.

Personally, I've done both.  I've worked an exhausting, honest 40 for the paycheck that helps provide food, a house, cars, and clothing.  I've served that role the majority of my life, sometimes earning decent money, sometimes barely getting by.

Currently, I'm staying at home, raising my daughter all day.  I've done that for about a year...she's 16 months old now.

This version of providing for your family, I've found, can be scoffed at.  I think that's unfortunate.

Being a father and a husband is about providing.  However you provide within your family structure at that time is what matters.  Do all you can.  Have morals.  Be good.

Then you're a man.


Friday, November 6, 2015


I'm a sap.  That's all there is to it.

Yesterday, while driving down the highway, my daughter in the backseat jibber-jabbering about God knows what, occasionally cracking herself up, a song comes on my computer-aided faux radio station.  I believe the station was "Jason Isbell" or "Chris Stapleton"--some good, genuine, honest country music that doesn't have glossed-up, shiny-faced douche bags singing it.  It was a slow song--couldn't even tell you who did it or what it was called.  But the combination of this particular melody along with the one thing in the world that I love more than anything, made me tear up.

A sap!

Let's back up.  "The one thing in the world that I love more than anything".  That's a bold statement.  A true statement.  Kind of.

When I was a kid, it was my family--parents and sister.  That's who I loved.  Of course, I still love them.  But when I met my wife, they obtained a different slot--a different category.  I still loved them, but not like I love my wife.  She's the love of my life.  She's number one.  Then along came my daughter.  Shit, man.  I didn't think I'd have to re-categorize my wife, but I do.  So, although I still love my immediate family, it's a different category than that of my wife...and even different-er now with my daughter.  And her category is now the prominent one.  Kind of.

Three categories of love.  Sounds like a Whitesnake song.

I realize I'm probably preaching to the choir here.  I'm a late bloomer of parenthood, so these feelings are brand new.  I've heard it all before.  Loving your child...whole new feeling...incredible journey...enjoy the moments...blah blah blah.  But until you experience it, it's all crap.  But when you do finally experience it, it's freaking unbelievable.

Ruby's laugh.  Ruby's smerk.  Ruby's strong will.  Ruby's disgusting eating habits.  Ruby's voice.  Ruby's hug.  It truly leaves me speechless.  All I can do is grin.  And tear up, apparently.

I don't know what the hell the three categories are called.  I just know that different people get dropped into different slots.  That's how it works in my brain.  It's fairly unexplainable, so I'll just be quiet now.

In summary:  My daughter's presence, plus a slow country song, make me a complete mess.  But that's okay.  It's called appreciation, gratefulness, and love.  And I'm okay with that.  I can't let her see me tear up, though.  She'll make fun of me.  She's got a lot of her mom in her, ya know.

ps.  this took me 7 minutes to write.  that's how obvious it is to me.


Monday, August 3, 2015

good women.

Up until lately I've been busy building my new blog,  It's been a lot of fun, diving into new subject matter and thought processes...thinking of material that I would actually read about and enjoy.  You know, barbecue, cold drinks, fishing, fantastic music, outdoor action, beautiful pop art and culture, and people who do damn interesting things.  Can't wait to get it more streamlined and branded, and branch out to more people and learn new things.

But for the past month or more, I've been MIA, and I miss my exploring and writing.

There's a reason behind my lagging.  If you by chance read my Blogazine entry entitled "up the poudre." about my camping/fishing trip in the Poudre Canyon with Cliff-dog, then you know that I took a slight spill in the high, run-off waters while trying to navigate the waist-deep currents with a 120lb retriever lashed to my belt.  I self-medicated the remainder of that evening by way of drinking feverishly.  It helped, but unfortunately not for the long term.

The fall wasn't severe at all--just a bruised hip, a scraped palm, and loud, angry words that frightened birds and squirrels from miles around.  I've actually had much worse spills on the same river that could have been incredibly severe if it weren't for some divine intervention (ie: God stopped that motherf&*%# boulder from falling on me!).  Anyway, this latest slip has caused by spine to go awry more so than normal, prompting two surgeries (for now).

Needless to say, I've had other things on my mind.  This is where this blog comes into play.

In this blog, I can write whatever the hell I want to write.  I don't restrict myself to stay within a certain mind frame or brand or style or whatnot.  It's my journal, and sometimes I let everyone read it.

Today has not been particularly pleasant, pain-wise, and I get to get my spine sliced open again for the second time this week on Wednesday.  Hopefully that's the end of the unpleasantries.  Boo-hoo.  But if you've read this blog, then you probably know where my mind might go.  It goes to mushy shit like wanting to hold my daughter, but I can't because I'm not supposed to lift over 15lbs and she's in the 94th percentile in weight.  Height too, so she's proportionate.  My mind goes to extra-deep shit like being nervous about not waking up from the anesthesia.  If I don't, then what?  That's the deep stuff.  Stuff that maybe most people might think about, but try to push it to the backs of their minds.  That's probably what I'll do.

I'm new to surgeries.  I don't care for them, especially when they are in my spinal cord.  And maybe I'm different, or maybe I just admit to thinking about it and expose my sissy-ness, but being in the middle of this process has made me appreciate so many things so much more.  I'm not trying to make this routine surgery seem like more than it is.  It's a two-hour outpatient deal.  I'll be celebrating with a cold beer by noon on Wednesday.  But still, in a way I'm glad it's made me re-realize what's important.

My three most favorite women in the universe are currently living with me, putting up with me, taking care of me, and it's humbling.

My daughter, Ruby, who just turned one, is keeping me grounded, happy, appreciative, laughing, awestruck, proud, and other words that describe feelings that I cannot think of.  Feelings that make me smile every minute that she's in the room, or singing from her crib upstairs, or chasing Cliff, or saying "Kay Kay", which is a multi-use word that means Cliff, Cat in the Hat, and Aunt Katie, who happens to be my forth most favorite woman in the universe.  And up until last week, Ruby was keeping me exhausted.  In my poor, sad, decrepit, weak, woe-is-me condition, I cannot take care of a "healthy sized" baby properly without crippling myself even more...and then subsequently writing to you all about how horrible I feel in hopes of sympathy, but not coming right out and asking for it.  That would be tacky.

Last week is when reinforcements came.  Reinforcements means that I texted my mother from the doctor's office the day I found out I had to have surgery, asking, "Do you have plans for the next month or so?  We might need you.", and a day later she had driven 784 miles from Springfield, Missouri to Broomfield, Colorado without a hint of hesitation.  Mina Beth Todd is a saint.  That's funny to say, because it was on an Anchor Man movie and Vince Vaughan said it, but with "Dorothy Mantooth" being the subject instead of "Mina Beth Todd"...but by God it's true.  Also to be noted, my family and I were planning a road trip to Springfield just a couple days after my doctor's visit.  Festivities were planned such as pool swimming, boating around the lake, a magnificent game of wiffleball, days of meat grilling, and so many other wonderful activities planned that you would crap your pants.  My mom dropped all plans immediately, packed a suitcase, and drove her Mini Cooper Clubman (Jack Clubman...) to my house to take care of my daughter while I writhe in pain and my wife works a full time job to pay for our lives.

My mom is a damn angel.

Then there's the love of my life.  April Reins-Todd, who dedicates her every moment to taking care of her family in every way possible.  She's like a smart, beautiful, scary lioness who will kill you without thinking twice if you mess with her loved ones.  She works very hard at her job, is very good at her job, and makes it possible for us to live in a nice house, have nice cars, and eat Chinese delivery from time to time.  It's none of your business, but shortly after Ruby was born, we rearranged our financial situations to allow me to be a stay-home-dad instead shipping Ruby off to daycare every morning.  It hasn't been particularly easy, but neither of us would have it any other way.  So you can now appreciate April's hard work even well as her impeccable damage control skills when her stay-at-home nanny/dashing man of her dreams falters.

Although April is from the school of "Rub some dirt on it--suck it up.", she makes it her life's mission to ensure that Ruby and I are taken care of when shit happens.  That's exactly how it should be, friends.

Keep rooting for these three.  They've got their work cut out for them the next week or two.  I'm not an easy patient and I tend to become grumpy from time to time when I don't feel all that great.  And when I get hungry.  I love and appreciate them more than anyone can imagine.

Man, I've got amazing broads in my life.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

new project.

As I've mentioned before, I dearly need at least one creative outlet to keep my mind functioning properly.  Writing is one of them.

I don't write as much as I'd like to, mainly because the content that floats around in my brain is either too personal for me to post on this blog, or it's just stupid.  I could literally fill this blog up with pictures of my daughter and entries trying to explain why the smell of her hair rivals that of bacon & onions frying...not that it smells like bacon & onions, it's just a strangely great bacon & onions is.

See what I mean?

So in order to kind of challenge myself to write about other things--other things I'm interested in, of course--I'm starting a new blog.  It's a little bit different, whereas I'm focussing on people, places, and things that I think are damn swell.  I know a lot of interesting, talented people who do really interesting things.  Craftsmen, artists, cooks, photographers, anglers, and the like.  Folks that really dig what they do, whether it's their profession or a pastime.

Scattered among these stories about cool people, will be entries about places I visit.  Not just your fancy, touristy spots, but real places with real people.  One example is, I'm driving to a small town in Nebraska tomorrow for a friend's wedding.  Nebraska is incredible, in it's own right.  I'm very much looking forward to viewing this small farm town from a different angle than I generally would.  When you're in Nebraska, there's just a different feel.  It's slowed down, it's family, it's farming, it's honest.  I'm hoping I can capture some of that via blog-rambling and far-from-professional photography with my iPhone.

My blog will have reoccurring themes and segments, like weekly toasts or socials.  I'll have ongoing BBQ segments, maybe a fly-tying corner.  We'll figure it out as we go, cool?

At any rate, I hope you dig  It's a fancy new magazine format--be sure to click on the date ribbon-thing when you get there.  It'll start to take life when I get a few more posts on there.  Definitely a work in progress for a while, but should be fun.  Thanks.


Thursday, June 4, 2015


The other day I went to Target.  I rarely go to Target, or any store for that matter.  At least not without April.  But I needed a picture I went to Target and bought one.

As I'm walking back up to the front of the store to pay for my picture frame, I start to walk past a mom and her son.  He's maybe two--isn't talking all that well yet, but the words that he is manufacturing are pretty damn cute.  He's sitting in the shopping cart kid seat thing, jibber-jabbering to his mom about God knows what, when he stops abruptly as I walk by.  He stares me down, turns to his mom, and says, "Mama, that's a man."

I turn back to give him a head nod and a grin, and reply, "You're damn right."

Thankfully, mama laughed.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

uncle bob.

My Uncle Bob passed away last night.  It was unexpected.

When an 80 year old man passes away unexpectedly, it means he was living well.  When friends and family are shocked that complications removing cancerous tumors took his life, that means the man is viewed as bullet-proof.  This is a good thing.  This means the man lived young.

If you have ever met Bob Blevins, then you know, one: He was virtually bullet-proof.  And, two: 80??  Yes, 80 years old.  I know.

I don't want this to come off the wrong way to my relatives, but I viewed Uncle Bob as my Godfather-in-law.  I actually had to ask my mom if he had inherited me as a Godson...wasn't sure how that worked.  My actual Godfather is Jerry Russell, my Aunt Joan's (mom's sister) first husband.  He died of cancer shortly after I was born.  Several years later Aunt Joan married Uncle Bob.  Joan and Jerry had two kids, Kathy and Robert--both of whom I feel I am very close to, at least at some point in our lives.  Joan and Bob then had two kiddos of their own, Michael and Carrie--same thing, very close.  Those are my four Russell-Blevins cousins, and I love them all to death.  Uncle Jerry and I were never able to spend much time together, at least in my memory--so Uncle Bob is really the only uncle I've ever known from that side of the family.

So there's your background.  There's your view of our tree.

This ramble isn't to receive "Sorry for your loss" or "You and your family are in our prayers" comments on the Facebook or texts or what have you.  That's nice, but that's not why I'm writing this.  I am writing this because my Uncle Bob was incredible.

As an "old" dad myself, I've recently viewed Bob as a bit of role model.  There was never a time when he wouldn't take us out in the yard and knock fly balls to us.  Tirelessly, he would entertain me, Robert, Mike, and whatever friends happened to be by.  Fly ball after fly ball.  Tired of shagging baseballs?  Let's play some horseshoes.  Touch football...tackle football!  Let's get in the pool.  Hey, the Cardinals are on!  Let's watch the game.

Uncommon Bob's.  Yes, yes.  That is what we call my uncle's special marinade that he used when grilling.  Pork butt, pork shoulder, ribs, brisket.  If anyone reading this was lucky enough to attend mine and April's rehearsal dinner in Lyons, Colorado, then you sampled some of Uncle Bob's grilled meats.  He was manning the Weber Texas Ranch Kettle stacked with pork and beef.  I'm cooking some tomorrow.  I suppose it will be in his memory, but I was going to anyway.  That's how good it is.  Him and I will chat tomorrow while the smoke is rolling.

Uncle Bob was fun.  I rarely saw him in a sour mood.  That means he appreciated things.  His kids.  His grandkids.  His wife.  But what you need to know about my Uncle Bob, whether you knew him, or this is just some ramble about a guy you've never heard of, is that he was the most selfless man I knew.  My uncle would drive thousands of miles to help you...and he did.  You were in a jam?  A bind?  Hard times?  Don't think twice, Bob will do what he can to help.  Bob didn't have a ton of money.  Didn't matter, he'd do what he could to help out a friend or a loved one...and he did.  As far as being a good human being goes, it doesn't get much better than my Aunt Joan and Uncle Bob.

This just isn't hearsay, it's the damn truth.  I'm not just saying that Bob seemed like a good guy, so he would probably do this sort of thing.  He did.  He helped more people than you know or I know.  And he did it all under the radar.  No accolades, no drama, no pats on the back.  Just pure, honest selflessness.  That, friends, is a legacy.

So it's onward and upward.  I don't care if you are a religious sort or not, Bob Blevins is in Heaven.  Doesn't matter if you're Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, or some other belief.  I even question my beliefs at times.  But I don't question that Uncle Bob is in Heaven.  This is a man that God is already considering giving a promotion.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Acquisitions and Soap Box.

First off, I got some new stuff.

While Ruby and I were checking out a local flea market, I ran across a stack of old iron-ons from the 70s.  You remember, the kind you would get at K-Mart and your mom would iron them on (hence the name) a crisp, new white Fruit of the Loom t-shirt for you.  They generally had pictures of cars, super-heroes, warlocks and/or wizards, or some other cool 70s image.

Well, I bought one.  It wasn't cheap at $10, but too damn cool to pass up.  I'm pretty confident I got the coolest one.  A couple days later I bought a cheap t-shirt at Target, and presto--coolest shirt on earth.

If it were only a mesh half-shirt...

Then, a couple days ago while the fam and I were walking around the block, we ran into some random crap in someone's yard with a "free" sign on it all.  A little BBQ smoker caught my eye.  But man, I've already got three grills.

We returned home and April encouraged me to go pick it up if it was still there.  I jumped in the truck and went back to the yard of junk.  Everything was still sitting in their yard, so I grabbed the smoker.  Damn thing had to weigh 60lbs.  There was a little metal table too, all rusted out crunchy--but kinda cool--so I grabbed that too.

I spent an hour or so that evening cleaning them up, putting a fresh coat of paint on them, and giving them some new life.

The 'after' pic.

A little rickety and rusty.

A crescent wrench makeover, new high-heat paint job, and a little varnish.
My fire pit shot craps, so a perfect night for a test drive.  Next up: meat.

*Now, not to be dramatic, but I'm angry about something and I'm going to use profanity to express my frustrations.  If you are worried that this outburst might change your saintly image of me, then you might want to skip this part.*

Apparently there is a fashion company called Dolce & Gabbana.  My wife thinks I'm an imbecile for not knowing of them.  In truth, I'm kind of proud of myself for not knowing.  This is not why I'm angry, though.

The owners of this company made public comments saying that in vitro fertilization create "children of chemistry" and the children are "synthetic".

I don't care about who these people are.  What bothers me is that people actually feel this way.  And I'm assuming the majority of folks who feel this way do not or have not had any trouble conceiving children.  When I hear comments like this made, it feels like a direct insult to me, my wife, and my beautiful, innocent 8 month-old daughter--who was conceived via IVF.

I guess Elton John got mad and retorted in some manner.  Good.  But I still really don't care about that either.  What I care about is people with an ancient, archaic way of thinking, expressing their unjustified opinions.  I understand that you have the right to have an opinion, just like me.  But think about all the people you are directly insulting with your beliefs.  You're attacking good people who believe in family.  Not to mention the innocent, happy children you are belittling. 

I don't care if you have religious beliefs that you think justify your opinions.  If you do, I feel sorry for you.  I don't want to be a part of any god that shuns life and love.

There is nothing synthetic about my baby.  There is nothing chemical about my baby.  The only thing you need to know about my baby is that she is happy, healthy, and fucking amazing.  I'm pretty sure that God (or whomever) likes her, too.

Stop caring about this shit.  Stop it with your anti-IVF, your anti-gay, your anti-non-traditional family, your anti-black, your anti-Jew.  Just fucking stop.  No god that I know is with you on any of this, so why care about it?  It's just people, love, life, and family.  There's nothing bad about it.  So shut up.

Thank you April.  I love you.

Picture of a synthetic, chemical baby that should not have been brought into this world.