Friday, November 02, 2007

Hobbies

This photo is called "Good Country People." As you know, photography is my hobby, my passion really, so to mark that observation, I'm posting for the second time a story about another dad who has a bit of a hobby:

A Boa and a Chihuahua

I have a few hobbies: photography, cooking, collecting books and writing. The girls either tease me mercilessly or glare furiously when having to deal with me when I’m in one of my hobby modes. If they see me holding a camera they might run to their rooms or break out in their best Paris Hilton parody poses. They roll their eyes if I should suggest stopping by the kitchen gadget store and have been know to throw grapes at me while I stand in the produce section trying to select the perfect stalk of lemongrass or handful of morel mushrooms.

It drives them both crazy when I detain them while I browse in bookstores or get in their way of the television as I rearrange the bookshelves to make room for my latest book; the one I might not have the chance to read for years. As an author of books, a blog, the occasional magazine article and now and then a poem for Jill, I take lots of notes about what I see and hear. To that end, I carry a small pocket-sized spiral notebook with me everywhere I go. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard them groan, “Here he goes again,” as I’ve reached for that notebook in the middle of dinner, at church or even while driving down the road. You just can’t control when genius strikes.

One day I opened my notebook only to find Linley’s handwriting. Thinking she had written me a note, I smiled. Then I read it. “Hi, I’m Gregory Eugene Lang. I can be cool sometimes but mostly I’m a boring guy. I need 2 add some excitement n2 my life!”

They are convinced I have too many hobbies. I received a letter from a daughter that decidedly tells me otherwise:

“My father's hobby is having hobbies. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. In fact, I think I would say that my father's hobby has mutated in the last few years into buying things on e-bay for his hobbies.

Lest you think I'm criticizing, I want to say that all of this was quite fun for us as children. Not everyone gets to use beaver skins to cover their playhouse on rainy days. I remember many happy times with Dad, learning about black powder rifles, fishing, camping, doing beadwork, and playing with the lumber he bought for projects that never materialized. He was a boy scout as a youth, and those man-of-the-woods hobbies have always interested him. When he became a preacher he also worked with our churches' boy's program, which involved many camp-outs and Frontier-man type events. When I was little we shot bow and arrows, threw tomahawks and knives, and even helped him tan hides; all in our backyard. Yes, the neighbors thought we were loony. We had one neighbor who rushed his kids inside when we started throwing tomahawks. We were dangerous people, apparently.

When Dad was in his archery phase, the house was littered with bowstrings, shooting gloves, extra strings, whatever. He even made his own arrows once, which means feathers, sticks, metal for arrowheads, and a fletching kit. He also made his own outfit for the Buck skinner stuff he did, so we had bead looms, beads, leather, and a tackle-box full of leather-working tools.

There was also all the black powder rifle paraphernalia. I knew how to load and shoot a black powder rifle before I had the slightest clue what to do with a basketball. Dad even had a gunpowder bag made of deer skin and a real powder horn. I thought all of this was normal as a child. As some might say about me, it explains a lot.

And of course there was fishing. My father had over a dozen fishing poles and tackle boxes full of spinners, bait, flies, and lures. He's really into fly-fishing right now, so I'm surprised he doesn't have tie flying kits out on the table. He probably does. It's not that he goes out to buy all these things either. It's just that when something is on clearance, he gets it.There's also back-packing and camping, and all the gear that would go with that. Whenever I or my friends want to go camping, we know who to ask for a stove, lantern, water purifier, or a survival kit. This stuff fills a set of shelves in the basement.

When Dad finds a new food he likes, he does it right. Take Turkish coffee for instance. My mother now has an entire shelf in her kitchen full of tiny Turkish coffee makers, little cups and all the other things required for this tiny, yet apparently very complicated, drink.

Let’s talk about rice. There's a bamboo rice steamer up in the cabinet, an automatic rice cooker and the coolest little chopstick sets with special rests and dipping bowls.Have I mentioned the books? Oh my, the books. My father cannot pass up a library sale, and his books reflect his various interests. When we were teenagers and had begun to realize how unique my father was, we would read through the titles on the shelves and stand in awe at the variety. His office is full of all sorts of reference books and such, and he shops for antique books on e-bay.I haven't listed all of Dad's interests. Not by a long shot. There are houseboat plans, lighthouses, airplanes, and the list could go on and on.

It’s only fair to add, though, that Dad has passed his hobby jumping and mini-obsessions on to me. When I'm interested in something, I head to a bookstore and get books about it; I go to the library and research it; I go to a store and buy the gear. I get those looks from my husband, the kind Mom gave Dad. Oh well; everybody's got to have a hobby.”

I’ve given both girls cameras which they carry with them everywhere they go. If the truth be told, they probably take more photographs than I do, albeit usually of themselves or each other posing like Paris. They might have gotten the photography hobby from me, but I swear they’ve never seen me with a boa and a Chihuahua.

Have a great weekend! Now go out and hug somebody!

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