Monthly Archives: March 2016

How To Reclaim Your Garage

If you’re square-footage-impaired like we are, and insufficiently ruthless about finding new homes for old toys, the next thing you know ten years have got behind you and the kids commandeer your garage.

On top of your carefully curated disorganization, now there’s greasy kid stuff everywhere. And it will stay that way all summer and into the fall unless drastic dramatic deterrent steps are taken to reclaim your last redoubt of man space. You need to find one of these.

wolf spiders

No, not necessarily the actual spider, although if you do manage to snap a shot of one that’s great – but if not, do an image search for “garage” and “spider” and you should find a shot of some immense Shelob-looking thing scuttling across what looks an awful lot like your garage floor, walls or ceiling. Maybe this one matches your garage floor.


Here, some theatrics are called for. Get the picture uploaded to your phone, and then when the kids return from school or soccer practice or whatever, hit them with your best “There’s a HUGE spider in the garage, and I think it lives there now.”

Then you spring the picture on them. You may have to keep driving home the point that you’re pretty sure that the enormo-arachnid has made its home in some inaccessible corner of the garage, and that it’ll pounce if the kids linger too long in the garage.

If it works on them you’ve got your garage back – and if it doesn’t, it’s a decent April Fool’s prank. Let me know how it goes.


Riddle Me This

Dad is not supposed to empty the dishwasher before the kids get up, because it might make noise that will wake up the kids – the same kids who sleep through thunderstorms, passing garbage trucks and low-flying helicopter squadrons, and who fight like Rikki-Tikki-Tavi to avoid waking up every single day of the year not named Easter or Christmas.

When the revolution comes and I am el gran jefe, I will send an ice cream truck through town 15 minutes before the school buses arrive. No child has been known to sleep through an ice-cream-truck jingle, no matter how distant.

If You Give A Dad A Project

…the Mom will need a freshly-painted wall to go with it.

Re-painting the wall means re-painting the ceiling, and re-painting the ceiling means re-painting the hallway, but re-painting the hallway means the kitchen cabinets have to be re-finished to match the new living room walls, leaving the kitchen walls matching nothing – so they’ll have to be re-painted, of course. And then the appliances won’t match anything even though they’re black and Dad thought black went with everything but apparently that’s not the case, so since you can’t paint a fridge or a stove or a dishwasher, they’ll all have to be replaced with new models, and that’s going to take up quite a bit of time. Still, while we’re getting the dishwasher we might as well look into fixing up the water softener or installing a whole-house filter, but that’ll require getting down into the crawl space and re-arranging everything, meaning the spring cleaning we didn’t want to start until it was feeling more like spring outside is going to have to happen anyway, and ultimately we’ll get around to watching that new TV just in time for it to need replacing.

Which means we might as well re-paint the living room wall.

A Treatise on Filth

Indeed there are the days when a laid-off dad has too much time on his hands even after the hours of cover-letter editing, resume-tweaking, opportunity-poring, and reading of cautionary tales on how everything you’re doing to look for a job is wrong and what today’s now and with-it hiring managers are looking for are these other things over here which will be the wrong things by this time next week. And so he cleans.

This isn’t one of those days. Or one of those weeks.

That’s because this week Noodle, Beast and She all have a week off from school – and then some because of this past winter’s complete lack of snow days. So because the kids and their friends and the three cats have been in and out of the house tracking March Mudness all over the place, I’ve come down with a thorough case of the Ah-Screw-Its, and I’ve passed it on to She, who might have some space there under that blanket on the couch where she’s watching one of the Hunger Games movies.

Or so I thought, because She read this over my shoulder and now it’s time to reacquaint myself with my old pal Mr. Hoover and his friends Sponge and Swiffer.

Another Kind Of St. Patrick’s Day Advice

Just because you’re a grownup and supposedly long past the days of stopping by your local morning radio show’s St. Patrick’s Day green-beer hotmessery doesn’t mean your March 17ths will forever be free of the same kind of unfortunate byproducts of overindulgence.

Which leads us to today’s warning for you parents for today and future St. Pat’ses: if you’re thinking of staging an overnight leprechaun visit with these little doodads as your props…

FullSizeRender.jpg…and you have cats, you’ll want to give the mini-shamrocks and itty-bitty pot-of-gold accoutrements a rest – because sure as heaven’s above ye, your cats will eat the things and then give them back shortly thereafter. And you’ll be all Go ndéana an diabhal dréimire de cnámh do dhroma ag piocadh úll i ngairdín Ifrinn at the cat, and nobody needs that. The cat doesn’t understand it, and you’ll only be wishing you were…stopping by your local morning radio show’s St. Patrick’s Day green-beer hotmessery.


Hooray For Cat Barf

Over there is Lilly. She’s 17, or just about 84 in human years.

And she’s doing well as such things go for cats of her age, but there are a number of age-related issues – one of them being that she loses track of her surroundings.IMG_0908

Which means that from time to time she loses track of where the litter boxes are (we have 3 cats, thus the plural) and does her business on anything that feels somewhat litter-like underfoot.

And she has a thyroid condition, common in older cats, that means that from time to time what she eats makes a return appearance.

The adults in the house are okay with this.


Here’s why: for years we’ve been trying every tactic under the sun to get Noodle and Beast to hang up their jackets and stash their shoes away when they’re done with them, to no avail.

It turns out that waking up in the morning to discover their jacket on the floor has been decorated with reverse-peristalsis product, or the deposit from the southern end of a northbound Lilly-cat, is a far more effective organizational reminder than any parenting experts’ strategy or nagging.

And on the now-rare occasions when an item of clothing is left on the floor, the children are told, in our best cat impersonations, “Oh, thank you ever so much, children – that is a wonderful jacket for me to puke on. Let me hork something up for you right now.”

A blur of tidying-up activity follows. Works every time

Say “Hi” To My Unhealthy Obsession


You may have seen it referred to elsewhere on this site because She can create pies that send me and the kids into dizzying heights of comfort-food ecstasy.

I bring it up now because this is British Pie Week and what with the weekend upon us, I need some good new begging strategies that will persuade my beloved She to summon up some pie-baking juju. Feel free to share your theories.

Also, it’s nearly March 14 a/k/a Pi Day.

The Noob Stumbles (Part 1 of Many)

Trouble is, the kids are digitally-savvy, but not so much so that they can’t figure out simple things for me like how to get my other new site rolling (more about this soon!) and stop it from redirecting to this new site.

And stubborn old me, the aspiring WordPress autodidact, is too cheap and occupied with job-search necessities to devote the necessary attention span to getting to that “oh, right” moment where I realize I’ve been reading the instructions sideways.

That’s one good thing about being among the ranks of the laid-off: when you find yourself stuck for any reason, you can always head down the hall and think things over in the bathtub which is supposedly the place where great inspirations occur.

We shall see.

As soon as I find my duckie, anyway.

I May Just Get You Some Winter Yet, Kids

So it’s El Niño that’s responsible for the wet-but-pretty-much-snowless winter we’ve had here in the northeast?

Poppycock, nonsense, balderdash and twaddle, I say.

It’s ME.

I wrecked winter.

Here’s what happened: back in November, She and I debated whether or not to spend $300 on snow-blower repairs, or hope the old warhorse held on for one more winter. Ultimately, we decided to spend the benjamins, especially since local long-range forecasts were calling for a colder-than-normal winter with above-average snowfall.

Yeah, about that.

So today, the start of a week where temperatures are expected to hit the 70’s, I’m looking longingly at the potential of opening up about 15 square feet of valuable garage dadspace –  yes, moving the snowblower (and her significant other the generator) out to the shed for summer storage, along with the snow shovels, roof rake, and mostly unused ice melter.

I’m thinking that once that’s done, a nice fat 1993-style March blizzard should hit. This would delight my kids, especially if the snow came during the upcoming spring break since they wouldn’t lose any of the extra days off that have popped onto the calendar thanks to their school district only using maybe one snow day this winter.

So I throw it open to you: do I move the equipment out to the shed and taunt the weather spirits, or leave things as is until the vernal equinox and risk a situation where I’m moving the stuff out to the shed on some freakishly warm and humid spring day?



In Which The GOP Reaches Out To Future Voters

Full disclosure: I try to keep my political-junkie activity quarantined elsewhere on the internet but once a newsguy always a newsguy. But still…dayum, guys – what in Sam Hill was that middle school locker room mess last night?

This morning I awoke to a discussion between Noodle and Beast that was vastly more substantive:

Noodle: Well, at least when I was 2 and ran outside naked, I didn’t pee in the storm drain!

Beast: Oh, yeah? At least I don’t pick my nose and eat the boogers!

Dad: Already this is a more mature discussion than the Republican debate last night.

Noodle: Wait…who’s running?

Did she just…ask a serious question about…a grown-ups’ topic?

The school bus was due to arrive in 20 minutes, so I put off the secret silent parental fist-pump hooray that she and her brother were taking an interest in how we’re governed, but they did get the ten-cent walkthrough on how the presidential nomination process goes. This led to a mostly non-indoctrinatory discussion of who represents us in Washington, although She and I did say we thought our current congressman and possible future governor was one of the few good-guy standouts, and that Dad got to interview him several times and came away mightily impressed, and She added that pretty much the only other time Dad was more of a shameless fanboy on the job was that one time in 2007 at the Genesis reunion-tour press conference.

Now comes the difficult part: demonstrating to our offspring that while the two parties have presented us with thoroughly disappointing choices at the national level, it’s not like they’re the ones in charge of plowing the streets, making sure the village park is tidy, and ensuring a proper level of gnarliness at the village skate ramp.

Dad is going to have to raise his civic-duty game.