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Family Tomfoolery

Img_4341 Thanks for coming, guys. We had a great time. Miss you already.

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The Matthew Files

Matthew and I had the obiligatory "What do you wanna be when you grow up?"conversation this week. He looked at me with a straight face and told me "Dad, I wanna be a Paranormal Investigator when I grow up."

Sheesh.

Well, he’s only seven. He’s got time to change his mind.

I should have seen this coming. He and a bunch of other kids at school formed a "Monster of the Month Club" – whatever that means. He begged me to find info on the internet about El Chupacabra – the mexican monster that drains goat’s blood. I also had to help him locate a map of area 51.

Parenthood is many things, but boring isn’t one of them.

Technical Support

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So that’s why my display is sideways and my character set has changed to Bulgarian. With tech support from these guys who needs cyberterrorists?

Nice Martin – But My Fingers Were Smartin’

All_hands_2_mod_resized We had a department meeting recently that was supposed to end early so the troops could head out for a game of golf. Since I don’t play golf, I was just about to head back to the office when I was asked to sit in on an impromptu jam session.  One of my co-workers had brought an extra guitar (a Martin – hence the title of this post), and was willing to let me make some noise with it.

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I could say that the guitar was forced on me, and that I only agreed to play after much modest protest. That would be a lie. It was a lot more like:

Steve: "Pat I brought and extra guitar. Would you like to pl…"

Me: "Sure!"

I hadn’t touched a guitar in six months, and haven’t played with anyone else or in front of an audience for at least twelve years.  Needless to say I was rusty.  Since I was still technically on company time, there was no possibility of a stiff drink to loosen up.

Luckily it was a pretty informal session, and Chuck, Paul and Steve were easy to play with.

We played for over an hour. I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think I humiliated myself.   

What surprised me the most was how much I enjoyed playing with a group of compatible musicians.  The first five minutes were nerves and cramped wrist muscles. After that it was pure joy.  I even sang a little (luckily very little). I may look dead serious in the pictures, but don’t believe it for a second. It was Nirvana (in the Buddhist sense of release from worldly cares, not in the sense of the 80’s flannel grunge band.)

One of the things that used to discouraged me was the fact that I’m not much of a natural musician. I’ve noodled around with a guitar since college, and took lessons a couple of times, but no one would ever accuse me of being musically inclined.  I stuck with it because I love playing music with other people.   In the 80’s and 90’s I played with a garage band called PC and the Compatibles.  It wasn’t until the band broke up (job relocations, marriages, babies, you know…) that I realized how much it meant to me. I consoled myself by reminding myself that we sucked.

Now it occurs to me that it didn’t matter a damn how technically proficent we were.  We were a bunch of musically compatible people who enjoyed making 20th century electric folk music (albeit very loud and dissonant folk music) in basements and cheap mexican restaurants. We loved the music, and truly enjoyed making music as a group.  It was ok that we sucked.

Anyways – The jam session was well received. We had an audience for a while, and I’m sure a lot of people were surprised to see that side of me. I’m usually pretty frazzled and humorless on the job.

My left hand was in pretty tough shape the next day. You need callouses and some muscle tone in your left hand to play acoustic guitar, and I have neither. Ah well. I guess I’d better start practicing.

Settling In

Dscf0065 A quick update on our new cat, Freddie – He’s settled in nicely, and growing fast.  He’s still losing the wrestling matches with Boots, but I  think he’ll have the advantage in a couple of months.

The first couple of days were pretty hairy (literally and figuratively). Boots hasn’t seen another cat in a while, and he treated Freddie like a cat toy. We couldn’t leave them alone for fear that Boots would playfully disembowel his new little frend.

They still play pretty rough, but as you can see from the picture below they’re learning to get along.

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SpongeBob O’Squarepants

Marty and I are taking Irish language lessons at his dance school.  I’m not really sure why we should be spending our time learning a jaw-cracking language that very few people actually speak. I’ve always thought Irish sounded really cool, and Marty has a real talent for languages, so we’re giving it a try.

Anyways, I was searching the web for Irish Language references, and I came across this video of SpongeBob SquarePants In Irish.

If you pay close attention, you can tell that Sandy the Squirrel is speaking Irish with a Texas accent.

Holy cow. You can find anything on the web.

PC Archaeology

We have a new notebook pc coming, so I decided to clear a spot for it amidst the chaos that is our home office.  As I started moving things around, I realised that the number of unused cables, speakers, mice, and other peripherals lying under the computer desk was amazing.  Speakers from the PC we had two computers ago.  Docking stations for long defunct PDAs. The modem cable for my much loved but now long-gone Mac SE (heavy sigh).  Parallel printer cables. A whole bunch of blue ethernet cables I don’t recall installing.

I finally stopped looking. I was afraid I’d come across a couple of vacuum tubes or maybe a piece of an IBM punch card reader.

Snakes on a Pool Cover

When I took the cover off the pool this spring, I left the pool cover on the ground, so it could dry. Of course I never got around to getting it off the ground, and now it’s time to close the pool. I was cleaning it off today, when I turned over one section and discovered four garter snakes (minimum length 18") slithering around.

Naturally I had to grab one and show it to the kids. It’s what we do at our house. You finda critter, you have to capture it for further study.

You would have thought I had discovered a live dinosaur. Marty & Matt were fascinated. They were practically beside themselves as I continuted to find more snakes ( a word to the wise – snakes smell bad. Smart people leave them alone, even the ones that don’t spit or inject venom). They put them in a box and fed them spiders. They invited the neighbors over for a viewing.

I eventually declared the snake research complete and ordered the critters released.

Ah well, soon enough I’ll have a pair of blaise teenagers on my hands with no interest in such things. I may not be a perfect dad, but at least (for now) I’m a dad who captures creepie crawlies for my guys.

Hiking in the Land of Coolidge, Anastasio and Dean

Day 4

Even though we’d been outside all day, every day we hadn’t been doing much running around. Matthew needs to run around. A lot.  As a result, he had the worst case of hyperactive Tasmanian Devil psychosis we’d seen in a long time. It was time for a strenuous hike.

We hiked the Palisades, since the trailhead was practically just outside our door. It’s a steep hike to the top of a sheer cliff that overlooks Fairlee, and the neighboring town of Orford, NH.

The view from the top is amazing. The problem is that you have to walk perilously close to the edge of a real, honest-to-God cliff; the kind that Wil-E Coyote was always falling off while holding a little sign saying "help"Img_1493_1 .

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The hike did the job of pooping out the kids without sending mom or dad to the emergency room.

Later in the day, we went fishing again, and Matthew caught his first Bass EVER.

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My lousy fishing luck continued.

That night as I was closing the door to the garage something flew past my head in the dark with a soft whoosh. Owl? Bat? Unquiet Spirit?

I’m thinking owl.

I found a copy of Eric Idle’s book "Greedy Bastard Diary", and read a few chapters.  It was a good read, but afterwards I found myself singing "The Philospher’s Song" out loud. I had to do a lot of self censoring –

"And Rene Decartes Was a drunken HMMMMM

I drink therefore I am."

"Socrates himself was permanently HMMMMM"

If you’re a Monty Python fan that will make sense. If not  – go back and look at the pictures from the hike one more time.

Vermont Vacation Continued

Day 2

We did our best to do as little as possible. By 1:30 Matthew was the only member of the family to have caught a fish. He caught too many teenie tiny sunfish to mention, and a decent sized perch.

As for Marty and Dad – Squat.

Both kids can now change lures, bait hooks and unhook fish unassisted. This may not sound like much, but to me it was a major breakthrough. Not on the scale of , say, potty training, but another step closer when I can tell them to drive to the store and pick me up a case of beer.

We did some canoeing, and I landed a largemouth bass.

Beth somehow ignored the flying hooks, dismembered worms and generally fishy odor as she caught up on her reading and Margerita consumption.

Everyone is in full vacation mode by now.

Day 3

Catch as of noon:

Matthew – 7 or 8 Sunfish

Marty – 5 pounds of weeks, 5 Sunfish and a very nice Bass.

Dad – Zip

After lunch we went to the Udder Delight for Ice Cream and to Chapmans for more worms. 

On the way back we drove all the way around the lake.  We tortured beth by playing disc 1 of "Live Phish".  Unlike the rest of the family, Beth is definitely NOT a big Phish Phan.

She had to listen to us sing the three vocal parts to "Bouncin’ Round the Room".  I have to pause now and wipe a small tear of joy and pride from the corner of my eye.

Did I mention that they look good in tie-dye?Img_1198

We headed back to the house where we resumed our default positions – Me fruitlessly fishing from the dock, Beth with her book and Margeritas by the bucket, and both kids playing in the water.

We seemed to have the lake to ourselves.

Aaaaah.

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