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.

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christmas 2011 after-action report.

We had a quiet and relaxing Christmas just like last year. With Robin’s family mostly in North Carolina and surrounding states, and my family in Germany, we don’t really have an opportunity to do the Big Family Gathering type Christmas too often. We got together with some local friends for lunch and a social afternoon on Friday, and then stayed home and did the Santa thing on Saturday.

Here’s a picture of the main loot recipients this year. They made out like bandits.

Time flies, doesn’t it? To me it seems like both of them were still in diapers just last week. One morning I’ll get up, make coffee, go to wake up the kids, and find that they’ve left for college.

The kids got the lion’s share of the presents, but Santa also dropped off a telescope and some stargazing books and charts as a family gift. Our friends also thoughtfully gifted us an annual 5-person membership to the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord.

The menu for the Christmas weekend included the traditional family Christmas fare–lobsters–and such German staple items as paella and lobster bisque. The lord of the manor also consumed way too many German gingerbread cookies, and the lord & lady together pretty much drank all the eggnog. Also, we seem to be out of Bacardi now. In short, it was a typical all-American Christmas. I hope yours was as good as ours.

40.

So hey–guess who’s 40 today?

<points thumbs at self> This guy!
I had this long and reflective screed in my head about aging and maturity and being aware of one’s mortality and all that emo stuff, but you know what? Forty doesn’t feel a damn thing different than thirty-nine, or thirty-eight for that matter. Everything that worked yesterday still works today.
There won’t be much celebrating today. I’ve been Skyping with the family in Germania (it’s my mother’s birthday today too), I already got a bunch of birthday loot ahead of time, and the wife’s out of the house until tonight. I may grab the kids at some point this afternoon and head to Dunkin’ Donuts for a dozen sugar bombs. Then I’ll go back home, stack all the donuts in the rough shape of a cake, put some airline-sized bottles of rum on top for candles, and have the best minimal-effort birthday cake ever.
So here’s to 40! <chugs breakfast martini, drops mike, stumbles off stage to halting and embarrassed applause>

curse you, tempting canadian comfort food.

On Friday, I loaded the kids into the car and went down to Manchester. We had lunch at Chez Vachon, which has the best poutine south of the border. (Side note: iOS autocorrect does not know “poutine” and thinks I mean “pouting.”) Then we went to We-B-Toyz, where the kids picked out Halloween costumes and some small toys.

Poutine, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is a Quebecois dish that consists of fries with cheese curds topped with gravy. It’s about as healthy as it sounds, but it tastes pretty damn good. I don’t know that I’d do the 120-mile round trip routinely just for a plate of it, but I’ll definitely go back there the next time I have business in Manchester or surroundings.

Also on Friday, we got an iPhone 4S (at the Verizon stand inside BJs, very little waiting in line involved), so now both adults in the house are schlepping around iPhones. This is actually my first Jesus Phone–up until now, I’ve used an old flip phone and an iPod touch for comms on the go. It’s nice to have all one’s digital tools in one device, and the iPhone is really an electronic Swiss Army knife. It has all the features of the iPod touch, plus a GPS and a camera (my old iPod touch didn’t have one), and it makes phone calls on top of that. Now I have a HD video and still camera plus a miniature laptop and a cell phone all in one little glass-and-steel brick. I immediately passed the Manly Pink Camera down to the kids, and they’ve been running around the Castle doing photographic essays like The Sleeping Dogs That Sleep All The Time, Out-Of-Focus Siblings, and Daddy Really Doesn’t Want His Picture Taken When He’s In The Bathroom.

The iPhone was my birthday gift from Robin. I got myself a modest little trinket for my upcoming 40th as well: a Spyderco Sage 2.

This is a handy little blade that combines the ergonomics of the Spyderco Native with the looks, feel, and frame lock of the Chris Reeve Sebenza. I’ve dubbed this one the Spyderbenza. The blade is only three inches long and should be legal to carry around in most jurisdictions outside of NH. (Here in the Granite State, we can carry whatever we want, no matter how long the blade or how it is deployed.) It’s also a very sedate-looking folder, without the black coating or serrations that make a knife twice as lethal in the eyes of office drones and police officers in more uptight localities.

Rounding out the New Toy lineup is my latest pen acquisition, a Platinum Carbon fountain pen. This is an inexpensive Japanese desk pen for writing and drawing. It has an insanely fine nib that somehow still manages to be very smooth. It’s designed for Platinum’s carbon ink, which is a pigment-based waterproof artist ink that will clog fountain pens not designed for it. (It’s basically India Ink without the shellac.) The pen is just a bit over ten bucks at JetPens. I also got the desk stand for it to keep it upright when I’m not using it. This pen is kind of addictive to write and draw with, and the ultra-fine smooth line it produces makes me want to doodle tiny little stick figures in the margins of my notebooks.

So that’s the birthday loot haul, even though my birthday won’t be for another week and a half. I don’t have all the toys I want, but I most certainly have all the ones I need, and the rest is pure gravy.

Thank you again, all of you who hit the tip jar for the short story. I feel like I ought to be giving refunds–a buck or so seems fair to me for a short story, so many of you greatly overpaid. That little experiment makes me think about posting an entire novel on the same pay-me-if-you-like-it basis, despite my earlier assertions that I wouldn’t self-publish. Five or six bucks was the rate at had in mind for a novel, not a short story. (For any writer friends who may be curious: I’ve not made professional rate money on that little story yet, but it’s quite a bit more than I would have gotten from a market that offers semi-pro or token payment.) Most importantly, the story is being read and enjoyed by Actual Readers, not languishing in a folder on my hard drive.

For the rest of the day, I’ll be putting some ink down with the new pen, and later on there will be some interskyping with my brother in Germany on my new iPhone. I suspect this Sunday will also involve cocktails at some point. Living in the future is pretty cool.

writing across the room.

We did some rearranging, and the living room now has a cozy sitting corner. Just for giggles, I tried to do some work from the couch this morning:

couchwork

The Bluetooth keyboard works just fine at that range. I started up a text editor, blew up the font magnification to 400%, and wrote a few hundred words that way just for kicks. It’s not something I’ll be doing on a regular basis, but it’s nice to have the option.

I have a bag full of links regarding neat and interesting stuff I want to recommend, so look for a dedicated pimpage post a little later today.

I won’t post any 9/11-related stuff today, in case you were wondering. Today is one of those days I’m especially glad that we didn’t hook the Castle up to any television service. I’ll be spending the day writing, putting together a bookshelf for the wife, hanging out with the kids, and calling my brother and his family on Skype this afternoon to chat. In other words, I’ll be busy with life, which is the best way to mark the passing of that particular anniversary. And that’s all I have to say on that subject right now.

a whale of a time.

What we did with our Wednesday:

Whale Watch 004Whale Watch 005Whale Watch 008Whale Watch 009Whale Watch 011Whale Watch 012Whale Watch 013iPhone 041iPhone 043iPhone 059iPhone 103iPhone 131iPhone 137

It was a perfect 80-degree day. There was only a little bit of shipboard barfing involved. We saw a trio of fin whales, who obliged the camera-wielding hairless apes in their noisy metal float by surfacing several times. Afterward, we had a tasty lunch at a lobster shack in the harbor, and brought home some fresh lobsters that had been skipping across the bottom of the Gulf of Maine just a day or two prior.

New Hampshire is an awesome place. From where we live, it’s just two hours to the Atlantic coast, the White Mountains, Canada, or Boston. And yet I can shoot in my front yard without asking permission or pissing off the neighbors, we have the cheapest hooch in the country, shall-issue carry permits are $10 for four years (and may soon go the Vermont route), you can buy freshly-caught lobster and eat fresh clam chowder at roadside stands, the fall in New England is the most gorgeous season anywhere, and I can open a bag of Rolos in public with a switchblade without incurring the wrath of the local constabulary.

As far as Wednesdays go, this one was one of the better ones. Hope yours was tolerable, too.

(For the curious: We went with Granite State Whale Watching. It was a four-hour trip out to Jeffreys Ledge, and we have no complaints at all about the service or value received.)