Tuesday, December 19, 2006

If You Love Something...

Even if you don't love it, set it free. My lesson for the week.

Thursday morning I was speaking with a client (wearing a headset) and got hit with one of those sneezes that comes out of nowhere, gets its start somewhere down around your toenails and launches itself from your being with the force of a typhoon, spray painting anything within shouting distance.

So I stifled it. Well.

Do these things go flying when you sneeze?

The result? A rather unique, exquisitely horriffic *pop* that emanated in my chest, followed by the sensation of a freight train traveling up my neck, riding my throat, stoked with coal and hauling ass. My client heard nothing. I ruptured a lung.

Remember how your parents told you not to stifle a sneeze? What do they know? They have kids so they can work like dogs the rest of their lives paying for us. They can't be that smart, right? Well, I've never seen any person blow themselves up holding in a sneeze, so at this point I must re-evaluate every IQ test I've taken.

What happened next? It was a real party. The air that escaped my lung had to go somewhere, so it made it's way toward the one place it would have room to stretch out - my head. And in a stroke of good/bad/odd luck, the train was derailed just shy of it's destination, bruising my vocal cords. That's right, I have a sneeze stuck in my neck. Ponder that one for a few seconds while I catch my breath.

Sola: "Pun!"

Author: Yeah, well either way there's no fun in this. It's one of those things that is absolutely not better than a stick in the eye.

I survived work. When the sun went down things got interesting. In a hacking fit at midnight I painted the kitchen sink red. I was spooked. The resident canines, however, were very impressed. They encircled me at the sink, staring me down. The smell of blood drew them to me. Here I stood; alone in the kitchen, late at night - eerily bathed in light from the Christmas tree, surrounded by two hundred pounds of salivating dogs. I considered my chances, and Mrs. Author's voice broke the silence like a beacon of hope: "Are you ok in there?"

I was not, and I knew it. I required rescue from the pool of drool that was hastily rising at my feet.

FudgePants: "We were hoping you'd hack up a steak next."
Nigel: "Gross! Oh wait, did you say steak?"

Author: Thanks for nothing. Did I mention that Truffles is an obsessive, food-driven Lab? We drove to ER for the customary round of X-rays and morphine. I was able to view the air trapped in my neck. I longed for that stick in the eye. When asked what my symptoms were, I told the attending, "It hurts when I canoe." The next day they stuck a camera up my nose, down my throat in to my lungs. It was very sexy.

This is not porn: Vocal cord closeup.

Now my mission is to caution those around me. Our new neighbors (four hippies, much writing material) heard the story and approached me yesterday. They asked about my condition. I told them I'd never be able to weld under water again, but that I'd be fine otherwise. One of them looked at me with a very serious expression and quipped, "Dude, we're letting everything rip over here now."

That's where I'll leave this story for now. I feel better. I dare not proclaim full recovery for fear that I'll cough and send objects and substances flying from every orifice.

So keep your distance. And in the new year, when you feel a tickle coming on, remember that poor fool in the hills of Vermont; hunched over a sink, lung looking like it just came back from a Dick Cheney hunting trip, dogs gnawing at his legs.

Remember me, and let everything rip.

Sola: "That does it. I'm never holding in a fart again. Don't want to get it stuck in my neck."

Nigel: "Terrific."

FudgePants: "Can we revisit the steak issue?"

Monday, December 18, 2006

Holiday Wishes

Another year has passed, and we are blessed.

Our home is full - seven beings sharing living space, life and love. The joy of this holiday season is not lost on us. We appreciate what we have. And our wishes for you this season are good health, happiness, peace and contentment.

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays if Christmas does not apply).

Friday, October 06, 2006

Ms. Treatment (And Then There Were Three, Pt. 2)

Ladies and gentlemen; Ms. Truffles

We have so much catching up to do! There will be plenty of time to fill in the gaps, but here is the short version.

Sola: "They have been cheating!"

Author: "Wait a secon-"

Nigel: "CHEATERS cheaters, never beaters."

Author: "Enough!"

I must proclaim - I did not choose the name. Mrs. Author is responsible for that one.

I just paid for her.

She was a gift to Mrs. Author. A little unwanted runt from the same neck of the woods Sola came from. She was the cutest little peanut, cold and lonely; we were the suckers. Her parents were beautiful, and it shows. But in case you missed it, look at her picture again. Truffles came with a nifty surprise, a bum leg. Angular Limb Deformity, or ALD. Google ALD and you'll find that it can be pretty rough. It has been.

Months ago (less than two days after she came home with us) we noticed that her leg was swollen and appeared slightly misshapen. Many vet trips and X-Rays and specialist consultations later we were forced to decide between three options:

1. Return her to the breeder to be put down and "replaced."

2. Amputate.

3. Spend ridiculous amounts of money to have a surgeon from Ohio State University fly in to join our local specialist in a tag team surgery that would leave Truffles looking like this:

The Not So Patient

I swear to this day Mrs. Author slipped me something, but the picture doesn't lie - surgery it was. For many weeks Truffles has not gone in or out without my having to carry her. The rest of her time is spent in an exercise pen (better than a crate) with Mrs. Author fussing over her, or in an exercise pen at the office with me doing the fussing. The dog has it made.

Not to say that she has not suffered: she has. She had the metal removed from her leg a week ago, replaced with a soft cast that was supposed to last a week. Truffles ate her way to her toes two days after it was fitted, and off it came. Pain is evident in her every move, despite medication. But she remains happy, a wagging bundle of joy, still wondrous with youth.

In the struggle, life continues to amuse. I wasn't down with the name selection, so Truffles also answers to another name: FudgePants. Well why not? She looks like she's wearing a pair. For the first few weeks she was here, the dog had to crap her pants every other hour. The causal observer might think our yard was paid a visit by Willie Wonka. After a few days of baking sun I would be forced to labor for hours in the yard with a golf club, taking careful aim for the neighbor's lawn. Fortunately FudgePants slowed her system down by swallowing the foot of her soft cast, not bringing it back up to show us for a couple of days.

Our surgeon has been terrific. He and his staff have helped us through this in every way possible. One thing I did find odd - prior to surgery the doctor mentioned to me no fewer than than three times that I would be sent home with a special surgical wrench. It was to be used twice daily to turn screws on the leg brace first to align, then to stretch the leg. That made sense to me. What did not were the stern warnings to "Never, ever lose that wrench."

Such was his concern that the second time it was discussed I asked what it might cost if one were to lose such a wrench. The surgeon's demeanor darkened, his gaze resolute. "That" he uttered, "would be a very bad idea. You're probably looking at two hundred dollars!"

Two hundred dollars? Our total expenditure for Fudge Pants and the leg is likely to be twenty or thirty times that amount. I decided to drop the wrench issue. After surgery the good doctor asked me to be careful not to lose the wrench as he handed it to me. I loudly asked (loud enough for all in the building to hear) if the doctor might have some unusual emotional attachment to this special wrench. Perhaps his first girlfriend had given it to him?

"NO" he snapped. "She did not, and I don't have any emotional attachment to that stupid wrench. Just don't lose it." We did not. The bolts were turned each day, an experience I don't hope to ever repeat. Truffles grit her teeth and healed, growing before our eyes. Nigel and Sola watched her with concern, being careful not to get too close.

Days before the return of the wrench (and follow up surgery to take the rods out of Truffles leg) I snapped a picture of the wrench. The morning of our appointment I sent the following e-mail to the surgeon's office:

-----Original Message-----From: Neil B.
Sent: Friday, September 29, 2006 10:03 AM
To: vet@unnamedorsomething.com
Subject: Wrench Ransom

The picture should be self explanatory. A briefcase full of small unmarked bills and a helicopter to a small airfield will suffice.


One might imagine my shock hours later when the following reply reached my inbox as I nervously awaited a FudgePants status call from Mrs. Author:

-----Original Message-----
From: PH
Sent: Friday, September 29, 2006 3:06 PM
To: 'Neil Brogan'
Subject: RE: Wrench Ransom

Do you care to negotiate? We have your Truffles "trussed up" so it is impossible for her to escape. We have blindfolded her as well so she cannot see who has taken her hostage. If she were to see us... well, you know what we would have to do. I must say her handwriting is pretty good and she made good use of the one piece of paper we gave her. DO NOT call the police!! We have your telephone line bugged. All those unmarked bills that were sent to you this morning - you can send them to us. As for the helicopter, we think we will keep that as well to aid in our escape. Time is short. Call while there is still time.

-----End Message-----

There was Pants, knocked out and tied up, her leg finally free. The phone rang. Mrs. Author told me to meet her at the vet's office to pick up our patient. I drove like a madman and rushed in to the waiting room to find her and the staff laughing wildly about our e-mail exchange. "You!" she exclaimed, "You have corrupted another office!"

That's fine with me. There is more than enough time to be serious in this life. It's the fun that counts.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

It Came in the Night

Nigel, disturbed.

A perfect summer evening, ruined.

A knock at the door delivered to us the most heinous sight imaginable: Mr. Neighbor- slightly stoned, ready to party, dressed in full drag, a pale green dress straining to contain it's offensive occupant. Hairy arms and a full beard rounded out the pukeworthy package.

And so the story goes.

*Knock knock*Author: I'll get it! (Bad call)

Neighbor: "Yo"

Author: (Pauses to catch dinner trying to escape from whence it came, breath coming in fits and starts.)

Neighbor: "Come on, tell me what you think."

Author: "Um, no."

Neighbor: "No what?"

Author: "You picked the wrong house."

Neighbor: "I need help, I can't do my own makeup. Is Mrs. Author home?"

Author: "Unfortunately she is."

Mrs. Author went to work with a smile on her face. I knew the deal: Ladies like to put makeup on men. The cause for this has eluded me, but I was comforted knowing that Mr. Neighbor would likely relieve Mrs. Author's itch to paint a male face. Ultimately, this meant one thing: I was off the hook for the foreseeable future. Instead of letting my senses collapse under the weight of this most unfortunate sight, I set out to find the impetus for Mr. Neighbor's transformation.

Author: "Um, you might want to put some duct tape on that."

Neighbor: "My Boa will cover it."

Author: "Might you wear eight or ten boas? What brought this about?"

Neighbor: "Dude shut up. It's a costume party, and I am gonna score. Chicks love this stuff."

Author: "Yes, they love to wear this stuff. They don't love you wearing it."

Neighbor: "My makeup is hot. Do you like my dress? It was on sale for $70, marked down from $130."

Author: "Oh, that makes everything ok."

Nigel: "Might I interrupt?"

Author: "What now Nigel?"

Nigel: "I was wondering if you could have working thumbs surgically implanted on Sola."

Author: "Why?"

Nigel: "I need someone to grab the melonballer in the kitchen and scoop my eyes from my head, rendering me joyously sightless."

Author: "I'll be next in line."

Neighbor: "Dude I am so hot."

Author: "You'll never make it to the party. You're going to drive off the road feeling yourself up on the way there. But do me a favor - let me snap a picture. I'll e-mail it to you so you can stare at it."

Neighbor: "I guess, but you have to destroy it, or at least promise not to put it on your blog."

Author: ;)

Oprah will be so proud. Click to enlarge if you dare...

Nigel: Has anyone seen the melonballer?
Sola: I'M USING IT!!!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Warp Factor Five

From the dense fog of a cool spring morning three figures emerge, moving at incredible speed; one of them visibly disgusted, a clothespin clamped on its nose...

That would be me, the unwitting participant of a most dreadful game - one that seasoned dog owners will recognize: The attack of the Klingons. No, this is not a fun, fantasy filled Star Trek episode reenacted. Instead, it is likely the least pleasant ritual a dog owner must endure.

Dogs eat grass. A plethora of theories exist that explain why. I'm not certain which is true, but that is of no concern to me. They just eat grass. And not the neatly trimmed grass of the lawn; instead they dine on select free-range blades of field grass. And I'll be damned if they don't eat them just like spaghetti! I watch Sola as a blade disappears in her snout like a snake tongue.

I never do get a chance to catch it and pull it back out. The dogs are usually not afforded the time to consume sufficient quantities to cause gastric distress, so they don't hack up yellow grass balls in your shoes like the cat does. They just sneak these grass noodles in, as I hear (from behind me) the zip of another blade going down the hatch and turn to see Nigel next to a well trimmed patch of weeds looking content, and guilty as can be. I get pissed when they do this and drag them inside.

I know it sounds mean, but I'm no joy burglar. I am just fully aware of what awaits me...

It's a beautiful spring morning, birds singing, sun burning off the fog that had set in overnight. Nigel, Sola and I stop to take huge gulps of the spring air that rolls across the lawn from the stream that winds past the house. It's the kind of morning that makes you feel as though you might take on the world and win if you tried. Then your dog crushes your spirit.

My mother will choke me when she sees the Waterford candlesticks she gave us used in this context.

Nigel and Sola part ways when they need to "drop off a few friends", and I strain my eyes to keep them both in my field of vision. I know they enjoy their privacy, but I have to be on the lookout. While I wait for Nigel to get started, Sola finishes her biz and springs from behind a bush. I go pale at once.

Sola is not alone. Flapping behind her is an unwanted passenger. My good friend the grass noodle has been resurrected and is hanging half out of the dog, a chocolate donut hole attached. As I retreat from Sola, Nigel swings around, his own stench weapon making an arc toward my leg. I engage the thrusters as I am forced to dance like a football player working the tires; knees carried high, dogs dancing, putrescent munchkins swinging behind them. I am on the holodeck of hell, and the door is locked tight.

I seek out a big leaf in the midst of this bizarre stink dance. What follows is exactly as you might imagine. There is no joy in this - I'd rather spend the next year sitting atop an Iranian nuclear reactor than pulling grass noodles from the dogs.

You have to attack quickly or the rear third of your dog will be spotted like a Leopard. The enemy must be extracted with precision. Pull too slowly and you'll be overtaken by the polluted air around you. Yank too quickly and your dog will never forgive you for the paper cut-like wound you'll inflict with that big blade of grass that taunts you from nether regions.

Laugh all you want if you are not a dog owner. If you are, heed this advice: Avoid tall grass, collect large leaves and carry a clothespin. Never, ever eat donut holes, at least not the chocolate ones with a blade of grass in them. And keep your photon torpedoes locked and loaded.

We'll be seeing you on the holodeck...

Mine Enemy

Nigel: Did someone just floss me?!?
Sola: Please pass the Novocaine, I have something like a paper cut.

Friday, April 14, 2006

I Nearly Forgot....

So many have asked for the results of This Prank

The short, sweet answer: They decided to "just be friends."


Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Sorry to check in late. Sola has been recovering from surgery for two weeks.

In January Sola went in to heat. That would not be a big deal had she not been spayed a year earlier. Yes, that is not right.

The Patient Recovers

The veterinarian who performed the spay left behind ovarian remnants. More than one. Judging by the jar of tissue I observed (after this sugery) it seems her spay was a hack job.

Nigel: Jerks!

Author: Right on. So we ditched our vet of the last decade for a new one. Good choice - Sola is doing well, looks like she should be fine. We are relieved, and our adventures will resume shortly. Very shortly ;)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

My Neighbor is a Freak

Um, ok.

My sensibilities have been offended. Remember This Guy?

War has ensued since that story posted. My neighbor and I have engaged in the most enjoyable form of battle: Pranks. Pranks of all sorts. One example...

Our power company sucks. They must have a suck-as-much-as-you-can rule in their employee handbook. And they are nice folks. They are always kind and polite when we call them.

Yet if a Crow farts on a power line seven towns go dark. And it takes hours to repair. My neighbor and I are internets-addicted, so power outages leave us biting our nails. We will stay home bundled up with the dogs while he goes to Starbucks to get his www. fix. We have an old phone that works when the power is out, so he calls every two hours to see if the power is on. We usually tell him it is on four to six hours after it is actually restored.

We hate power outages, Mrs. Author included. She needs TV and a hair dryer. We have never camped. She likes keeping lots of lights on. Neighbor hates losing his surfing privilages. So he was taken aback when I sent him this e-mail:

From: Vermont Electric Company [mailto: notify@wesuckatelectricity.c0m ] Sent: Thursday, December 25, 2005 10: 47 PM To: CustomerList Subject: Power Customer Storm Notice

Valued Vermont Electric Company customer:

Current weather conditions are responsible for multiple outages for VEC customers in 7 towns across central Vermont. It is anticipated that further accumulations of ice will cause outages for most customers in the surrounding areas. Due to pending repairs from previous storms it is impossible to predict outage durations, but current estimates are for 72-96 hours for repair completion. This estimate is subject to change. Please seek alternate shelter if necessary.

Vermont Electric Company Customer Support

He lost it. Very breifly. I let him sweat for about thirty seconds. I pinged him on Yahoo IM laughing. He realized I'd forged it just after forwarding it to a new lady friend he was chatting with. Hook, line and sinker.

It was only a matter of time. Eleven days actually. Mrs. Author called me in a tizzy, laughing and disturbed by Neighbor Nate's latest creation. Once she's explained it to me I begged her to get the camera. Fortunately she obliged:

What the hell?
Neighbor had built a charming snowlady. Close enough to the garage to prevent easy access. I pulled in just as the snowplow driver was finishing the driveway. He refused to plow down the snowlady, and instead worked around her. And then he drove past me, looking straight ahead, speeding off in to the night. I thought nothing of it.
I grabbed my computer bag and approached the snowlady and it struck me that I'd forgotten the details. This was no ordinary snowlady. Not by a long shot.
She had nipples, big ones. with peanuts in the middles. Her eyes were peanut butter cups, cute enough. Her necklace and eyebrows were crafted from carefully placed ribbons of easy cheese. Odd. But her nose was the dealbreaker, the pièce de résistance. It was a purple dimpled battery operated personal massager. That's right, ladies.
My neighbor had devised and produced a twisted, triple-x artistic rendition of his vision in snow. I now understand why the snowplow driver wouldn't look at me. It was a redneck freak show. I made my way inside, shocked and awed.
I dreamed of ways to destroy her. For a day. Mrs. Author fretted, expecting to find Sola running in with a new purple toy. From inside the dogs stalked her, growling. I went to work. And I had an idea. When I arrived at home last night Mrs. Author and I went to work. It was time to ditch the tree. The Christmas Tree. We furiously stripped the tree of lights and ornaments in a cloud of needles. Mrs Author moved the breakables as I opened the huge window above the garage.
Direct hit, bombs away.
I surveyed the damage this morning. Not bad for my first tree launch. What remained was a sad sagging torso, headless, one boob on the ground. I decided to finish the job. I dragged the tree out of the way, took aim, and flattened her with our truck. She was left to melt by a snowbank (Nigel's favorite). Sola ate the cheese eyebrows from the driveway. I felt much better suddenly. But not quite better enough.
I'd still been had. If she had been seen by the neighborhood kids I know I'd be getting hate calls from their parents.
Author: "Hello."
Angry Parent: "You freak, what the heck you got goin on up there? You wanna hear what my kid done sang ta me? Huh?
"Hey Johnny, sing the song for your nice neighbors. You don't want to sing it? O.k., I'll sing it for you."

"Frostette the snowlady,
Was a happy horny sleaze.
With a bath towel hat,
A vibrator nose,
And eyebrows made out of cheese..."
Author: "Good God that's a cool song. You have one smart little kid."
Angry Parent: "Nice try jerk. Get rid of that crap and stay away you pervert!"
Author: "But it was my neighbor-*click*
That could have happened, which would have made it a grade-A prank. I had to find a way to get back at my neighbor as quickly as possible. Why the rush? Beacause he had a date coming for dinner. It was only their second date. I grabbed the camera and called Sola and we ran back out.
"Sola!" I called, "Get the toy!" And she was off! Snow flew as she dug her way through the bank, emerging with the battery powered purple personsal pleasure device. We ran next door together under the cover of cold winter darkness. I asked her to drop it and she did, right on my neighbor's front porch steps.
Sola: Tastes like chicken.
Author: That's just not right. Anyway, I turned on the flash and snapped a pic:
Click to enlarge, ladies.
My neighbor saw the flash and came out to the door. I was thirty feet away, facing the driveway.
Neighbor: "Dude, what you doing?"
Author: "I was just getting a long shot of the basketball court with the dead snowlady."
Neighbor: "Dude, I think there is going to be a story about my snowlady."
Author: "There most certainly will be."
He went back inside, without taking notice of my datewarming gift. Sola and I ran inside laughing. She is sleeping at my feet now, a smile on her lips. We have shaken off the cold, the Patriots game will be on in twenty minutes, and my neighbor's date has arrived.
It is going to be an excellent night.
Nigel: The neighbor scares me badly.
Sola: Me too, but I'm pretty sure he is in some serious trouble...