Monday, August 17, 2015


We got solar panels installed last week. They're not quite up and running yet (installation of new electric meters by El Paso Electric still needs to be done) but they should put a heavy dent into the electric bill for the new house. That has proven, what with summer and all, to be expensive.

The new house is still coming together. Carrie and I have been trying to knock out several things every weekend, but the list of things to do (of varying immediacy) grows every week. The next big thing is getting the support posts on the back patio replaced. We knew this was going to have to happen when we moved in, but there has been some troubling compression of a decorative wall above the south corner post. We've got a quote though and should hopefully have it taken care of soon-ish.

Having an above-ground pool has proven to be less vexing than I thought it would be. Part of that was coming to the understanding that chemical balance on it is a broad, moving target and as long as we get somewhere in there the pool will mostly be fine.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mixed Emotions

Piper's death went as well as can be expected. I fed her ribs before the vet showed up and she ate both the meat and the bones. We lay Piper down in the grass out in the yard, and it was over a lot faster than I expected. Gato was the same. There was so much anticipation that it felt like the process should have been more drawn out. We buried her out in the back yard, in an area near where we'll likely want to plant a tree this fall. Until then I plan on mounting a lantern over her grave, and lighting it once a month.
There's an absence, for sure, but in a weird way. Piper had been so intrinsically wrapped in our lives, I kind of feel like I'm not grieving enough. But then Carrie and I have both been in some level of mourning since she was diagnosed with diabetes. The initial grief then was pretty intense. We moved past it, but there was never really a moment in the past seven years that we didn't feel she was likely to pass away at any time. There were a few times in those years that she took a temporary turn, or we had trouble regulating her insulin, that it came back on me. But for the most part, beyond the tedium of regularity in feeding, she went pretty easy on us. Or at least that's how I prefer to remember it.
When we made the call that it was time to put her to sleep, that level of sadness was crushing. For the days leading up to it I managed to hold it together for the most part. There were moments, though, when I crumbled. So, yeah, her actual death came with a level of relief commensurate with having grieved, on and off, for almost seven years.
Maybe that why, less than a week after the feact, I still think about Piper, and think I see or hear her, but not as much as I expect I should. And that makes me feel guilty. But still relieved. And also glad that we could do as well as we did for her.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015


We weren't too sure what to expect with moving Piper to the new house. She lost most of her sight and hearing at the old place, but could still rely on muscle memory or something to navigate the place without too much trouble. There was some stiffness there too, but pretty minor. Since we've moved the stiffness has gotten worse and she spends almost all of her days sleeping. Her sight and hearing are bad enough that she bumps into things a lot, and even at the whistle pitches she can hear, she often misinterprets where it's coming from. We've been pretty lucky that she's only had two accidents in the house. On top of that her joints have been giving her enough trouble that we recently had to elevate her food bowl, since she was having trouble with what appeared to be her front legs and bending over to it. This weekend I opened a can of food, Piper sniffed at it, and then wandered off and went to sleep. She eventually came back around and nibbled a little bit, but left it alone for the most part. Since then she's been erratic with how much and when she eats. Today we stopped giving her the canned food and switched over to tasty things like eggs and pork chops and steak. Her current condition, coupled with diabetes, this is not sustainable. The last time I took her to the vet was over two years ago, when she had started losing weight. At that time the vet suggested we keep an eye on her, and that when her quality of life started to decline, then we could make a decision. We've decided to get ahead of impending, potentially painful, health issues and have scheduled a vet to come out to the house on Thursday evening. Carrie got Piper in October of 2001. She went through obedience training and came out the other end one super well-behaved. She was my companion on more desert walks than I can count. When she was diagnosed at 7 with diabetes in 2008 we were told the average lifespan after that was 3-5 years. She's beat that handily. We even credit that diagnosis and the proceeding management with (in a small way) preparing us for kids. She would have turned 14 sometime in August. Piper's been the best dog I've ever known and I'm going to miss her a ton.

Friday, February 27, 2015


Owen came down with strep again. Second time in as many months. Going to consult with a specialist, see if tonsillectomy is needed.

Had Larry over for board games Wednesday night. The garage was cold but the games were fun. One game each of Pandemic and Lord of the Rings. Pandemic, on easy, was a breeze. Lord of the Rings, we made it to Shelob's Lair before Sauron consumed us.

Abby has been sleeping a bit better, waking up only three times a night, instead of every hour or two. Hopefully the trend continues.

Later today Carrie and I are headed to El Paso for Alex's dad's funeral. His pops passed away Saturday after a month or so of home hospice. Sad times, but glad we can be there for him.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Of Tooth and Flame

Abigail cut her first tooth. Also, she's five months old. Crazy. Could be that teething is why she's been waking up about every hour or so through the night. But that tooth is out, and from what I remember once it breaks through the discomfort is over. Sleep issues continue. Speaking of, sitting up with Abby late on Saturday night, I decided to put on the second of the new Hobbit movie. I figured some hobbit and wizards and swords and orcs would be nice. About 15 minutes in I turned it off and bought a digital copy of the Rankin/Bass animated Hobbit. I love it. And it's less than 90 minutes long.

Last Thursday Alex, Ben, and Tony came over for Fire Night, the annual burning of the xmas tree. I had put it off since early in the month and I'm glad we finally got around to it. Was a lovely relaxing evening spent having beers and bourbon and bullshitting on the patio.

The weekend was primarily composed of cleaning out the garage, which seems to be a semi-annual event. We cleared out boxes of stuff to the storage unit, Goodwill, and the dump. Just in time to start up Wednesday garage gaming again!

Last night I made chicken bacon fried rice. It was amazing and delicious, both for dinner and lunch today. Full marks to Carrie for having the idea in the first place.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Abigail, since getting sick (at least, it seems to correlate) has been waking up a lot more through the night. Carrie reports that she's been waking up about every hour or two for a week or so. You might be asking why I'm relying on her reporting to know this. This is because my wife is self-sacrificing and a bit too worried about how much sleep I'm getting. Of late I've been actively trying to usurp this behavior. This generally manifests as me taking Abigail out of the bedroom and letting her sleep in my lap while I watch tv. Last Thursday and Friday I sat with her from 10pm -1:30am and 10pm-2am, respectively, finishing off the 5th season of Downton Abbey. Saturday night the twins went over to Mom's for a sleepover, and while that cut out us having to run through the bedtime routine for them, Abigail decided she would fight going to sleep. We eventually let her cry herself to sleep after trying for about 2 hours. She still woke up often, but with the twins out of the house we got to sleep much later Sunday morning.  Last night I went to bed early and got up around 4am and let Abby sleep on my lap till about 6am while I caught up on Last Week, Tonight. I'm really hoping this regression is just her still getting over her cold and not a more permanent behavior change.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


I finished The Martian. Not great. It's a real easy read, but it felt like the main character was Science. The logs of the astronaut read like bad LiveJournals, and the third-person scenes back on Earth may have been worse. As riddled with clich├ęs as the Martian surface is with craters. After that I read Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer. Reviews of the book seem split, but veering toward the positive. I'll add mine to that side too. I enjoyed its Lovecraftian bent, with layer upon layer of spreading infection. Also, pretty short. Now I'm on to Silver Screen Fiend by Patton Oswalt. So far, immensely engaging and fun to read.

I watched Chef. I thought it was ok. It's gotten good reviews, and I'd heard a lot of hype, but it didn't hit that high of a mark for me. Too rosy, maybe.

There's a new sickness assailing the house. Owen had a fever and coudg/sinus issues most of the weekend and stayed home two days from daycare this week. Then all three kids went in for vaccinations. Last night Abigail got feverish and it's carried over into today. Might be a side effect of the shots, but she's also got a cough. Add to that both Carrie and myself are feeling (sleep-deprivation notwithstanding) a bit lousy and I think maybe whatever Owen had is finally spreading.

Monday, February 2, 2015


Just finished reading Designers & Dragons: The '90s. I dug it. The '90s was when I really came into gaming, so this volume had a lot more direct interest than the last two. I wasn't sure what to read next, but knew I wanted to read something else before starting the '00s. Ben recommended The Martian. I read through 30 pages or so and the writing is not to my liking. To this point it's reading like a bad blog. And having read some of my old LiveJournals lately that's sticking in my craw more than I would have expected. Maybe I'll give it a little bit more. It's not a particularly long book anyway.

Phantom Phatness

Quick trip to Carlsbad this weekend for Ross and Julie's birthday. Ross has been digging on Dungeon World a whole bunch lately, so I picked him up a copy of Class Warfare. Apparently he's got a group of about 8 of his swim team playing in a game. Good on him.

Yesterday was Super Star Wars Sunday. Our annual 'We don't watch the Super Bowl' thing. I doubt Carrie would be too against going to a SB party but I'm glad she's down with doing this too. We watched Phantom Menace. Haven't seen that one in a long time. Wow. Bad, bad, bad. Also, we picked up rolled tacos, chile con queso, and guacamole from El Sombrero Express and we junk food-ed ourselves miserable. However, the kids were all asleep by 7, so Carrie and I had a lot of time to relax and let the food settle out.
Today is Carrie's first day back at work after maternity leave, and Abigail's first day of daycare. No one is particularly excited. Hopefully everything will go smoothly.

Saturday, January 31, 2015


Isaac was in town for Amtgards this weekend. Met up with him at Spotted Dog Thursday night. Their amber ale is delicious. And there was parking this time, unlike when mom and I tried to go a few weeks ago. Haven't had a chance to just sit and chat with Isaac for a while, was refreshing. Wish he was still living in Cruces. Friday we picked up El Sombrero Express and had him over for dinner and to visit with the whole family. Isaac graciously helped me slay the Smaug Stout I got for Xmas while we watched Frozen.

Alex stopped by for a little while before heading down to El Paso. His dad has had some recent health complications and his heart isn't doing good. They're just starting up home hospice. Sad.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


I looked back at old LiveJournal entries yesterday, expecting to be mostly embarrassed at whatever it was I was talking about 10 years ago. Or at least bored. I wasn't expecting to be kicked in the gut by nostalgia. I had thought that all the minutiae would engender more boredom upon rereading but I think it frames all the other crap I was talking about and gives it context. Man, I had a lot of time on my hands back then.

So, what's home life like now...

Abigail May. She was born on September 22nd. Four months old now and I'm finding that equating this new baby to whatever we went through with the twins doesn't track. Carrie's mentioned more than once, since she was born, that we deserve medals for dealing with twin infants. I don't disagree. It's easier, for sure, but this time around Carrie and I have vastly different obligations. Since she's breastfeeding there's only so much I can contribute. But I'm doing what I can.

My day-to-day for the past four months has looked something like this:
Get up in the morning, feed Piper, shower, then we get Owen and Paige dressed and fed while they watch a little tv before daycare. One of us takes the twins to daycare and I'm off to work, generally getting in between 8 and 8:30. Work 8 hours then home where Carrie's picked up the kids. She's a lot better than I am about keeping the tv off till I get home most days. Then fix dinner, feed piper, and get the kids baths and into pjs. Let them watch a little tv before brushing their teeth, reading books, then into bed for them and Abigail. After the kids are down Carrie and I watch some tv then she goes to sleep and I stay up a while watching tv or reading (books or comics or internet). Sleep.

That's pretty accurate I think. It doesn't account for Monday being swim lessons for the kids, which means Wendy's (usually) for dinner. Or for when the kids were in soccer this past fall. Or when I get home and there's still some light out so we actually get outside for a little while.

Abigail starts daycare on Monday. Constant flux, this parenting thing.