on heavy boxes, sciatic nerves, and minivans.


That coffin-shaped thing in our backyard by the vehicle gate is a Thing of Great Surprise for the kids, destined to be put together by the handymen while we’re on our trip to the South. There is a Tarp of Deception on top of it for counterintelligence reasons, to keep the Great Surprise as such.

The Thing of Great Surprise comes in a single box that is eight by two feet and weighs in at over 300 pounds. Your humble correspondent, not being the brightest bulb in the cupboard, backed his minivan up to the vehicle gate and then unloaded that box all by himself, to stage near the area where the Thing of Great Surprise will be assembled. Your humble correspondent had to pop an 800-milligram Ibuprofen a little while ago, and will be doing very little in the way of bending at the waist for the next day or two.

Because our road is still muddy, it has a 6-ton weight limit on it. Because the freight service delivering the Thing of Great Surprise sent it in a semi, your humble correspondent had to chug out into town and take delivery of the goods in the Home Depot parking lot.  Once again I am impressed by the cargo-hauling abilities of that Grand Caravan. I have on occasion hauled a bunch of standard 8×4 drywall sheets in the back without trouble. I’ve hauled cargo and passenger groups with the minivan that I couldn’t have transported with any other vehicle. When the time comes to replace the Grand Marnier, I may just forego the AWD and buy another one of these. AWD is useful three months out of the year, while seven seats or 160 cubic feet of cargo space and a flat-load floor are useful year-round.


clean-up, aisle 1.


Pop quiz:

You leave the house with the kids to do a grocery run. Before you leave, you lock up the dogs, except for the mommy dog and her puppy upstairs.

You lay out a newspaper by the door just in case the mommy dog has to answer the call of nature while you are out. As additional mess insurance, you also put down a puppy piddle pad nearby.

When you come home, where will you find a big lake of doggy pee?

a.) On the newspaper

b.) On the piddle pad

c.) On the floor between the aforementioned objects

If you answered c.), give yourself a pat on the back. For bonus credit, you can also mention the poop right in front of the door, not two feet away from the unsullied newspaper.

situation: muddy.


We’ve had an uncharacteristically warm winter here in Upper Cryogenica. There was a surprise early snowstorm in October, and then…pretty much nothing. A few minor storms kept refreshing the snow layer in the backyard and maintaining it at sledding levels, but we totally missed out on the regular northern New England rock-‘em-sock-‘em, six-inches-of-snow-every-day-for-two-weeks type of storms.

It’s mid-March right now, and the snow has been melting for weeks. This is what the Castle looks like at present:


And the grounds in front of the portcullis:


And our road, being a dirt road, looks like this right now.


The town road crews are valiantly leveling the road and pouring gravel into the worst spots, but it’s warm, the glop is deep, and every time something heavier than a Smart Car drives down the road, there are ruts in it again deep enough to lose a herd of cattle in.

Robin’s Forester has been braving the mud heroically. (It’s about a mile to the nearest pavement.) My Grand Caravan has not yet had to face that challenge, but this afternoon, I have to spend my Dadcation over at the car place to get the leak in the AC system fixed. If you don’t hear from me again, send out some Navy Seahawks with dipping sonar.

name! that! puppy!


The puppy is nine days old today. In that time, he has managed to almost triple his birth weight, from 8.5 ounces last Tuesday to to 22.5 ounces today. He is one chubby little thing. I’m thinking low-carb diet, or he’ll never be trim enough for those dog food commercials.


Now he just needs a name. The naming conventions of his line gravitate toward Arthurian names, but we’ve already used Arthur, Bors, Ban, and Lancelot for previous dogs. Mordred is pretty much right out. Any suggestions from the Internets? Bonus points if it can be shortened into a nickname—this is just for his kennel name in the AKC papers.

grrrgl & etc.


I had to go to the vet last night at 2am because the doggie mom was being extremely restless and panting at an alarming rate. All is well now, but counting the c-section and the ER visit, that puppy is now worth about $200 per ounce.

I got two hours of sleep Tuesday night and about four hours last night. Now excuse me while I suck down some caffeine sludge to stay awake for the home appraisal guy due at noon. Talk amongst yourselves while I get my brain functions back online. In the meantime, have a puppy picture.


the weekend that wouldn’t end.

So yeah, about the last few days:

  • Quinn turned 7 yesterday. Parental schedules being what they are, we had an early birthday party for him on Saturday. We had eight kids and as many adults in the house, and it was pretty lively. There was chili, cake, liquor, and those awesome little cocktail sausages that someone slathered with a home-brewed BBQ sauce which turned the little things into CRACK. Then one of our friends and her three kids stayed for a sleepover, so festivities were not really concluded until noon the next day as far as the kids were concerned.
  • Yesterday we took our female dachshund in for her planned c-section. We bred her again because we still don’t have the girl out of her that we wanted so we could continue her mother’s line. OF COURSE the c-section yielded…two males.
  • Last night wasn’t so hot. I had to stay up and check on the mom and pups every 15 minutes or so. I fell asleep around 2am. Robin got up just after 4am to discover that one of the pups had died. Now Raven is down to a single-pup litter, and we’re hoping he’ll make it. He’s active and nursing like a champ, so chances are good, but they’re not really out of the rough until they’re a few days old at least. He’s a very pretty color, deep red mahogany like his sire. I predict we’ll end up retiring Raven from breeding, keeping the male, and then buying a female to breed him to when the time comes. So this breeding didn’t go as well as we had hoped, to put it mildly, but we’ll make the best of it.
  • The wife and kids are coming down with something, possibly acquired when the house was packed with adults and kids on Saturday. That means I’ll be getting it too sooner or later.

So that was my exciting weekend that sort of dragged all the way into Wednesday and shows no signs of ending. I could stand about a week away from Daddy duties at this point, maybe drive down to Key West and pound down some Mojitos at the beach or something. Alas, I’m never off the clock here. At least I can do the mojito thing.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a garage to clean up and some furniture to reshuffle for tomorrow’s refinancing home appraisal. Then I have to start the sausage & kale soup for dinner, and possibly collapse on the couch and sleep for eighteen hours straight.