Starting to Come Together

Hi there.

So it’s been about a week since I talked to you last (a brutal one on the work front, but that’s not a particularly entertaining story) and things have started to take shape around the house.

Operative word here being started

First, the living room:

Look at the size of those feet!

And you’ll note the happy absence of any pianos in here. (The next décor on the chopping block is that ceiling fan, though.)

Yes, a couple guys from Grunts Hauling Junk showed up a week ago and hauled the monstrosity out of here. Which, while we’re on the subject, was a seriously ridiculous process.
The two gentlemen actually tethered themselves together by attaching a long nylon strap to a pair of chest harnesses. Then they ran said strap underneath the piano, stood on either side of it, and lifted the thing straight up using their legs and backs. They they just waddled their way out the door with it. The whole maneuver probably took about 20 minutes, and I had sympathy backaches for over an hour after watching them do it.
One of them did confide afterward that he’d been working for that company for 4 years and this was the “heaviest damn piano that [he’d] ever lifted.” I apologized and assured them that I’d tried to get rid of it prior to moving in.

I’ll tell you though, the sigh of relief when they drove that thing away was probably audible in Burlington. It’s so nice to have that thing out of our living room…

No pianos here!

Now, the other side of the living room? That’s a work in progress still.

Hey look, a blog post!

The plan over on this side is to move Jib’s bed into a separate room…um…somewhere, and then have our wood burning stove, brick veneer hearth, and chimney built into that corner where the three shelves currently are.

Kinda like this, but with way less cookware

Of course, this is entirely theoretical at this point We have a local guy coming out later this week to take a look and let us know about the feasibility (and cost) of such an endeavor. That said, if I learned one thing from the Texas Snowpocalypse this year, it’s the folly of relying entirely on an electrical company to keep your house, and family, warm. (Wood burns even in the absence of electricity, you see.) So it’s very likely we’re going to work something out here and get one of these things.

You know, I think touring one room in the house at a time is enough for now…

Let’s move on to Daphne, who is doing pretty darn great out here.

Our earlier hike along the back of the property today
July 5th. 73° in the afternoon. Just lovely.

We also took a jaunt to the Vermont state capital last weekend. (Can you name it without Googling? Because I couldn’t.) Daph loved running around the park in front of the State House. And if there’s a Vermont PR firm that happens to be browsing ’round here, I think I have a little girl for your advertisements…

Vermont. Daphne approved!
The Capitol in the capital.

We ambled around for a bit until we happened to come across a Tex-Mex restaurant and, since we hadn’t had much in the way of lunch, it felt almost like a dare. So we went in and tried it.

And it was…passable.

I don’t think I’d go so far as to actually call the stuff “Tex-Mex,” but it was a quasi-reasonable facsimile. I’d say the biggest drawback to it was the utter lack of anything that even remotely resembled spiciness.

Wait! They have chips and salsa here?
Oh. It’s Vermont ‘salsa.

Although to be honest I don’t think this is a phenomenon endemic to just this particular restaurant. We picked up Green Mountain Gringo’s “Hot” salsa at the local grocery store to go on our tacos (the other options were Pace or Newman’s Own…bleh),

Weak sauce.

and I believe my first comment after trying it was, “This is what’s considered ‘hot’ here, huh? Hmmph. What’d they put in it…vinegar?”

So that particular area could use some work. Either that or we’re going to have to figure out how to bulk order some Mark’s Good Stuff up here.

I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time I smuggled Texas fare into New England…

The San Pellegrino just wasn’t cutting it.

The irony of this is not lost on me, though, since it’s always been the other way ’round. I had Marshmallow Fluff, blueberry Pop-Tarts sans frosting, and coffee syrup exported down south when I lived there.

Okay, I think we’re off for yet another Lowe’s trip. We need something to help loosen the soil in front of the house so Jen can plant her hydrangea bushes. I’m sure we’ll have more updates where those are concerned.

I’ll have to catch you all later.

Vermont Varmint

So we’ve put a bit of distance between us and Canaan these past couple weeks, so I’d like to revisit one of the more unpleasant aspects of our short time in the apartment up there.


“Pardon me, sir. Do you have anythin’ to poop on?”

So one weekend last month, the day after we’d come back from our hiking trip as a matter of fact, I found a triangular hole in the top of a salt & vinegar almond canister, with bits of blue plastic from the lid scattered all around it in the pantry. What’s more, on the shelf just above the almonds, the lip of my tub of Marshmallow Fluff had been gnawed to tiny red shards as well.

Apparently a mouse was making himself a Fluffernutter in our kitchen cabinet.

And so the question became…well, what do we do about it?

I mean, it wasn’t our house. So doing something like putting poison out was clearly out of the question. (The permanent motel resident’s little dog, Selena, might eat a poisoned mouse and get sick and/or die from it.)

And yes, I’m well aware of the dangers posed by mouse poison bait… I just don’t really care. I’m much more concerned about the dangers posed by the filthy little things themselves in my house.

And so, we took a trip the following day to the Lowe’s in Littleton where I politely asked where to find their Aisle of Death.

“Right over there against the wall. Just past the hummingbird feeders, across from the Adirondack chairs. If you hit the wind chimes you’ve gone too far..”

And so there we stood. Staring silently at a wall of deadly pest control implements.
Pondering exactly what kind of mousetrap defined us as people.

We very quickly decided we’re not of the classic wooden snap-trap variety.

All a bit too vivid

That said, we’re certainly not the live trap types either. Every mouse that lives might as well be a hundred mice down the road. Nope, they gotta go. (This sentiment will come to haunt me later.)

I’m also wholly averse to glue traps, after being traumatized by witnessing the suffering imparted upon the little gecko family that lived on our bathroom window in Fulshear.

And, as I mentioned, we couldn’t use poison bait…

So we were left with just a couple options.

First, we decided we’d give them a chance to leave willingly. So we bought a 3-pack of electronic Victor Electronic Pest Repellers and planned to set them out first. I’m guessing these play an ultrasonic version of a Justin Bieber album or something, causing the mice to scowl and move out while grumbling about contemporary music.

These, we felt, would provide the equivalent of a shot across the rodent’s bow. “Come about and head back from whence you came. Else we’ll be forced to remove you.”

We also picked up two electronic mouse traps, as a final response in case they felt like being cheeky and ignoring the Bieber Plugs.

This evil looking thing.

And so we returned to Canaan armed. We plugged in the rodent dissuaders around the kitchen, each of which glowed with an ominous blue ring, and hoped for the best.

Unfortunately, the following night I as I was up late reading, I saw a mouse on the countertop, padding inexorably toward my stash of Triscuits. I stood up to head him off and the little bastard turned and scampered right by the “repeller” and dove beneath the stove.

Clearly mice love Justin Bieber.

Okay, that’s it. We tried. You ignored us. Time to ride the lightning, varmint.

So I loaded the trap with AA batteries, dabbed some peanut butter on one end, set it on the counter, and flipped the switch to “Ted Bundy.”

I walked back over to the chair to read a bit more and, after just 10 minutes or so, I heard a faint *buzzbuzzbuzz….buzzbuzzbuzz…buzzbuzzbuzz…*

Then silence.

For a moment, I wondered if the trap had really worked… That is, until I saw a limp tail hanging out of one end of the contraption and the faint scent of burnt hair hit my nose.


So I popped the top and knocked the mouse carcass into a plastic grocery bag to throw away, washed out the inside of the trap with some hydrogen peroxide on a paper towel, and holstered Mickey’s Mausoleum back into the Lowe’s bag.

Then, things got weird.

About an hour later I heard this incessant little chirping sound coming from the windowsill near the front door. I figured it was just a cricket or something, and headed over to squish it before I went to bed and tried to ignore it for hours while trying to go to sleep.

Not a cricket.

A tiny mouse.

Standing on its hind legs in front of the window, it was about the size of a golf ball. And it was squeaking as loud as it possibly could.

I walked up to it, expecting it to dart away and hide. You know, like a mouse do.
It didn’t.
It just stood there, looking at me.

And so there I stood. And there it stood.

Um…what exactly do I do here?

I’m sure as hell not going to try to catch it. And even if I did what would I do with it? I could scare it away by throwing something at it, I guess. Or going to an old standby and flailing around like an idiot. But it will just go hide somewhere and I really don’t want it living in here.

squeak! squeak! squeaksqueak!

Okay. No word from the governor then. It’s time, little mouse.

Out came the trap again, out came the peanut butter lure, and I dropped the thing less than 4 inches from where he was standing and went back to my chair, completely unnerved by what had just transpired. After just a minute or two had passed…


Sayonara, Squeaky.

So, post mortem, I’ve no idea what was going on with that little mouse. I could guess as to why he seemed to be completely unafraid, and why he just sat there and squeaked at me, but most of that would be me anthropomorphizing.

I will tell you though, despite my cavalier tone here, it was hard.

My rational mind knows that mice carry disease and will quickly turn into an infestation if left to their own devices. But the melty, emotional side of me is yelling, “but it’s just a cute little mouse!”

And I don’t like killing anything. Actually that’s not true. I have zero compunction with killing mosquitos, jellyfish, and now ticks.

I don’t like killing most anything.

Fortunately this whole mouse saga began when we had just a few weeks left in that apartment.

However, it would seem that I’ve just summoned one of them with this blog post…

Because, while typing this up, I saw the first mouse ever here in our new house. He nonchalantly rounded the corner from my office, took one look at me…

then turned and bolted through the bathroom and, likely, down a small hole that I’d noticed in the floor in the dining room.

–Fast Forward–

I began this post a couple evenings ago, and I’m just wrapping it up now. I’d actually already booked the exterminators to begin treatment in our new house, and they arrived yesterday. They climbed through the crawlspaces, setting poison, snap traps and, sigh, sticky traps in the basement. (Man, I hate those things.)

But hey, we live in a farmhouse now. And we’ll never make it here if we stay squeamish about that kinda thing.

Sorry little guys. You’ve gotta go.

Moved In

Hey there.

This is obvously a long overdue post, but as you might imagine we’ve been rather busy over here.

And, so as to not bury the lead, I am typing this from the living room of our new home in Vermont. (Specifically, I’m sitting right next to the old loveseat that used to be in my office back in Fulshear…because we’re between couches at the moment.)

That little guy there.

Yes, we closed on the house 10 days ago. Which, as it turns out, was exactly 20 weeks from the day we sold our house in Texas.

20 weeks…
That’s what it takes to move (vertically) across the country.

Although I’m not going to lie to you. I’m kind of amazed this little plan worked.

Don’t get me wrong, I drop everything and YOLO bail better than just about anyone. I’ve done it several times in my life and I’m rather good at it.

But, back in the days when I did this more often, I was young and single. So if I screwed things up it was just me who had to live in the park for a week, or suffer a 40-hour bus ride sitting shotgun to the onboard latrine, or become marooned in a small town in northern Utah with no means of transportation, or sleep on the floor and eat loaves of enriched white bread and tap water for a month in Baltimore…

This time I was trying to pull off one of my Great Escapes with a wife and child, so a certain level of comfort had to be taken into consideration with every step. Which made this a slightly more complicated proposition.

But I’m happy to say that all the dominoes fell in precisely the order that I set them up, and so here we are.

That trailer is actually gone now…

Now there’s just the ocean of stuff that came out of that truck to go through. And since there is essentially ONE closet in the entire house, there’s been an awful lot of panicked looking around followed by, “um, hey, do we really need this?” happening of late.

I’m also confident that I could build a small Sri Lankan village with the amount of boxes and paper I pulled out of that trailer, all of which is clearly multiplying in size overnight and oozing its way across the front yard.

Although I gotta say, it’s not like just because we’ve got all our stuff inside the house that I’ve suddenly stopped having to maneuver through hoops to get things accomplished.

For example:

  • Plumbers were here a couple days ago to fix the low hot water pressure in the tub, hook up the washer, review the possibility of running a propane line for the dryer (and installing a converter since it’s technically a natural gas dryer), fix a leaky sink, and set up the icemaker/water line in the fridge.
  • Exterminators were out yesterday to take a quick walk through the house and start working on a pest control plan.
  • Landscapers came today to review the lawn for regular mowing/tractor brush hogging, pruning the wild lilac bushes back a bit, using the tractor bucket to move some debris, and clearing an excessive amount of day lilies that are growing along the front of the house.
  • An electrician is coming Tuesday to install a few light fixtures and a drop chute behind the wall for television cords.
  • Piano movers are coming next week to get rid of that antique piano that’s there on the left in the earlier picture of the couch. The one that’s taking up WAY too much space in the living room? Yeah, that one.
  • Our contractor came back with an estimate that was triple the amount we originally expected to pay on the home renovations we need done, so we’re having to make some difficult decisions about what we can live without for the time being.
  • A dumpster is being dropped off on Tuesday so we can finally clear out all the rapidly replicating paper/boxes.
  • A living room rug was delivered yesterday and our new couch should be here in about another week.
  • A dehumidifier for the basement is…actually that one should’ve been here today but it never arrived. Hmm. Will have to check on that.

This is totally becoming more of a to-do list than an update about our move, isn’t it?

Once we get more of the above accomplished and this little building turns from being a house into a home, I’ll try to do a walkthrough tour for you or something.

But, if you’re super interested, here’s the first drone flight I took around the property this evening.

And, because I’m pretty much exhausted all the time right now, here’s another flight I took the following day (today) after I passed out waiting for YouTube to finish processing that last one…

Yes. I’m Old Man Peabody. (You space bastards.)

As for Daphne, she’s settling in pretty well. I think there’s still a little trepidation about the overall permanence of things here…

“Are we going to pack the car up and move again, old man, or is this it?

But I think generally she’s doing well with all of it.

“Okay. I trust you.”

And if we haven’t been absorbed up by the Trash Heap on bath salts that’s taking over the front yard, I’ll try to give you all an update on how things are going before the end of the week.

See you soon.


So we’ve gotten close enough now, and everything else has stayed relatively on track the past 2 months, so this is the part where I tempt fate and talk about something that hasn’t quite happened yet:

Ceteris paribus, this will be our new house in about 10 days.

It’s an old house, built in the early 1800s, about 1600 sq. feet inside. And it sits on 11 acres of…Christmas tree farm.

Our new backyard

Yes, really.

It’s up a hill in a small town set in what’s affectionately called the “Northeast Kingdom” of Vermont, or NEK for short…

In Lyndonville, to be specific.

Which is about what you’d think of a little town in Vermont with a population of 1400.

Not a big box store or a freeway in sight.

And before you scoff, you should know that the population of Fulshear in 2012, when we first bought our house there?


Anyway, we’re more than ready to call Lyndonville home here in a couple weeks, once we get all the paperwork resolved.

Speaking of which, the seller of the house has done all the repairs that we’ve asked for, things like running the dryer vent to the exterior, having the boiler inspected (it seems that houses up here also boil things?), fixing a sizeable tub leak, and burning all the brush piles in the backyard…albeit perhaps a bit too exuberantly.

We’re told the fire dept. was called out for this last week.

I mentioned this in my last post, but Daphne has already made herself quite at home.

And, as you can see, there’s a lot of work to be done back there.

The fencing on the left is for the compost, which is one of about 9,000 farm processes that I know absolutely nothing about but am about to get a crash course in. And just in front of that is what’s left of an old vegetable garden, which will need a lot of love, a lot of tilling, and perhaps a fence too at some point.

I’ve no idea what I’m going to do with that huge hill, or how exactly I’m supposed to mow the damn thing, but it’s going to be entertaining finding out.

There will undoubtedly be many more pictures and stories ahead once we’ve completed closing next week (hopefully all will go well there) and all our belongings from Houston finally arrive…

This feels like a very long time ago…

The timing of which will be a logistical feat in and of itself… But, one miracle at a time.

Anyway, we’ll talk to you soon. And hopefully from the safe confines of our new home.

See you there.

Cruising Canaan

Hi there!

So I’m attempting this radical concept called “taking a weekend off.”

It’s a new thing, and I assume many of you are as unfamiliar with it as I am, so I’ll try to explain.

It apparently involves allotting two entire days toward simply relaxing, pondering, daydreaming, spending time with family, and perhaps, if you’re feeling adventurous, even doing a spot of writing and some spring sprucing of the ol’ blog template. (That menu bar is still a work in progress, by the way.)

The remarkable catch is that you must utterly refuse to address any transaction imports, note deletions, report requests, impending project deadlines, file transfer alerts, and/or helpdesk tickets while this is “weekend” thing is happening.

It’s unsettling, but it’s also quite nice. I should do it more often.

Okay! So when we left you all we had just arrived in Canaan, VT and I was lamenting the treacherousness of the staircase that leads up to our little apartment…

And now, 5 weeks later, I can say…

Nothing’s changed. It’s still a ludicrously difficult staircase to manage. But Jen and I have become slightly more adept at clambering up there without having Aetna ready on speed dial. (As long as we’re not carrying groceries.) Daphne, however, has actually become quite the pro at it.

As for Canaan itself? Well, there’s not a lot to show, really…

Here’s the intersection.

Yes, the intersection. There’s only one.

Having trouble reading that sign? Here, let me help.

Yes, “Canada. That-a-way.”

We tried it too. Totally works! You run right into the Canadian border patrol. (The last ‘Murica stop is the Ethan Allen furniture factory.)

I will confess that my mental image of this event was that we would be greeted by a phalanx of Mounties on mooseback, all eating poutine and brandishing hockey sticks while politely apologizing for not allowing us to cross…

You can imagine my disappointment when the border crossing looked more like…a Circle-K.

Fill ‘er up, eh?

Slightly disappointing.

We’re also told they’re not letting anyone across the border for a least another month, so it would appear that the rest of our time up here will be spent entirely within the confines of Canaan proper.

That’s not to say that we dislike Canaan. Quite the opposite, actually. It’s absolutely beautiful here. I think Jen and I say that to one another at least 4 or 5 times a day.

“Wow. That’s amazing. It’s so beautiful here.”

That’s the inaugural Flight of the Bumbledrone, by the way. And I apologize about the unedited footage and for any nausea that it may impart. I’m still learning to fly that thing and I can’t download my copy of Premiere Pro to edit the video because the house we’re staying in is connected to the ISP That Time Forgot.

Oh, that’s something to add, isn’t it?

Yeah, the DSL running into the house is every bit as bad as I’d originally envisioned. Worse, actually, since I think we’ve data-capped the ISP for the month and so they’ve throttled us to 300kbps. My work computer gets dropped 8-10 times a day from its VPN, which…

Waitaminute! **needle scratch**

No, no… No talking about work.
Man, this is hard.

Okay, moving on.

So, hey! Who digs hiking? Because that’s totally a thing that happened a couple weekends ago.

We drove over to a trail called Kilburn Crags just over the New Hampshire border, which promised a relatively easy walk for first-timers.

And look! A diamond-rare picture of my beautiful wife!

It was a little less than a mile in each direction, and while the trail itself was a but mucky and swampy in places, the payoff at the top was totally worth it.

The whole trek, including 30 minutes resting at the picnic table at the summit, took us about 2 hours, and it was a lovely way to spend part of the afternoon. That is, until we got back down.

Given that it’s early May in Vermont, we performed the requisite quick tick check before getting into the car. (I’m a little freaky about Lyme disease, you see…) I knocked two of the little bastards off of my pants, one off of Daphne’s, and another one off of Jen’s. We all lifted our arms, pulled our sleeves and cuffs up, pulled down our socks, checked our necks, did the Ticky Pokey and turned ourselves around…and we all appeared to be in the clear.

So we drove over to Littleton proper (which has rapidly become one of our favorite little cities up here so far), and pulled over to call in our pizza order to Gold House Pizza on Main St.

But right after I’d done so I felt this odd, quiet, gentle little tickle on my upper arm… I looked down and…

“Oh. Hey. How’s it goin’? Uh…candygram?”

I lurched upward in the driver’s seat while pinching the little bloodsucker off me and hucked it out the window.

I had just enough time to get out, “Ugh! What the hell! Where did that thing come fro-” before Jen yelled “TIIICK!” snatching another one off my arm and jettisoning it out the window toward its buddy.

Now, the words “panicked conniption fit” don’t properly do justice to the odd flipping, convulsing, and bodily searching that ensued after finding this second one. Because, at the time, it felt like they were… All. Over. Me. Exsanguination was clearly imminent within minutes. I’m gettin’ all itchy right now just thinking about it.

We actually pulled another three more of these damn wood ticks off of me while we were sitting there (thank God we were parked at the time), and after a grand total of 9 ticks being plucked off of our family, we’ve sworn off of hiking entirely up here until we can get some permethrin-coated pants and socks for the lot of us.

And perhaps a human-sized hamster ball, within which I’ll be more than happy to hike anywhere at all.

Try it now, you little arachnid bastards. I dare you.

So, aside from those events, there’s not a whole lot more to report.

We’re making what seems to be solid progress on the house front currently. In fact, hopefully by my next post I’ll have more concrete news to share. Obviously there’s a lot in the air, given the sheer insanity of the current housing market, so I don’t want to jinx anything.

For now, I’ll just leave you with this:

Talk to you soon.