Thursday, August 30, 2012

Have You Seen Me?

The other night Gus left the door to his snake's habitat open. In the morning, Zeus was gone.

We've searched high and low - ripping Gus's bedroom apart - literally going through every piece of clothing, but still nothing.

Let me tell ya, it goes against every survival instinct for a primate to actively search for a snake. On one hand, I hoped to find him; on the other I prayed I didn't.

As of today, Zeus is still MIA. Gus seems resigned to the fact that his snake may be gone forever. I just hope he makes it home soon, I've got a "pinkie" in the fridge thawing for him.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Yeah, I'm a Hard Ass

A couple of weeks ago I was looking at the boys' chore charts when I saw a new listing: "take care of rabbit." This struck me as rather odd, since we don't have a rabbit.

The next day we found ourselves at the Humane Society looking at bunnies. Frankly, rabbits never really did it for me as pets - maybe it has to do with the fact that my great grandmother's maiden name was Lagodontis, which loosely translated means "Rabbit Tooth." The boys weren't overly impressed either, so they wandered off to see the cats.

Now you may remember that last October we got a cat at the Humane Society. Meant to be an indoor cat, Athena discovered the doggy door and basically moved out. She stops by a couple of times a day to eat, but otherwise wants very little to do with us. We even learned from the neighbor kids that she's found another family to mooch food from down the street.

Nevertheless, we didn't need another cat, so I followed my dad's advice and put my foot done - we returned home without another feline, and I spent the rest of the day being about as popular with the boys as Todd Akin at Lilith Fair.

The next morning, still being shunned as an animal-hating monster, I went to a meeting and lunch. When I returned, a jubilant Niko met me at the door yammering, "Guesswhatdaddyguesswhat?" as a defiant Gus stood at the top of the stairs holding a kitten. They'd gone to the Humane Society without me.

Apollo, as the boys named him (Athena's brother in Greek mythology) is awfully cute. But I wanted nothing to do with him. As you can see, I'm a total hard ass.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Creepy Jeepies

Growing up, every Friday night right after the news, I would watch Nightmare Theater. It was our local scary TV program, showing really low-rent B-movies.

Whereas the movies weren't all the frightening - in fact, when I was really young, I always fell asleep well before the monster ever appeared on screen - the opening of Nightmare Theater scared the living daylights out of me!  The camera would pan across a scene of pastoral rolling hills dotted with trees, obviously a miniature train landscape. "Lightning" would flash, and the sound of an impending storm could be heard. Then, the camera would focus on a single, old creepy building and the lights would flash on and off again.

And that's when it would happen - the maniacal, evil scientist laughter. It would thunder out of the TV and send shivers down my spine, scaring the bejebus out of me. Most Fridays, as soon as I saw the camera headed to the scientist's lab, I would flee the living room, throw myself onto my parents' bed and cover my head with a pillow to block the fear out. (Often times I was followed by my big brother, John, doing a mocking impression of the laugh!)

The kicker is, I knew damn well that the laughter was created by Fireman Frank, the character played by Ron Ross on a kids' television program. But that didn't keep me from getting a bad case of the creepy jeepies every time I heard his voice.

Not surprisingly, like most 9-year old boys, Gus is fascinated with the "paranormal" and scary shows. So we've started a little dad / son tradition: our own "Nightmare Theater." Now, what constitutes as "frightening" has definitely evolved since I was a kid, but we started off by Netflixing the series, "Ghost Adventures."

The premise of this "reality" show is three men spending the night "locked down" in a purportedly haunted site. With night vision cameras and electronic voice phenomenon recorders, they wander around old mental hospitals, speak easies, mansions and the pitch black. In the dozen or so episodes we watched, not one location was deemed to be ghost free.

Now, to be honest, during the first few episodes, I tried to provide Gus with a healthy dose of skepticism. I went so far as to explain the idea of false hypotheses to him - arguing that the one "false" hypothesis that these guys could never disprove was their own imaginations. "Look," I said, "they're in a dark, cold place at night, they've been told it's haunted. Of course they're going to think they see ghosts."

Then I thought, "What fun is that?" So I let go of voicing my doubts, and embraced Gus's wish to believe. Pretty soon I no longer asked him to close his eyes when they played an EVP to see if he heard what they claimed they had (he never did), and instead wholeheartedly agreed that I had heard the disembodied voice say "get out" too.  (Even though all I heard was disembodied static.)

We've abandoned Ghost Adventures in favor of a scripted series called "Supernatural." First off, writers are always better at telling stories than 3 terrified former frat boys with night visions cameras. In fact, when I watched the first episode to determine if it was appropriate for Gus, I found myself jumping a couple of times.

The show is about two 20-something brothers investigating paranormal mysteries as they search for their missing father, who raised the boys to believe in - and destroy - all manner of the supernatural after their mother was killed by some evil entity.

As usual, Gus provides me with a running commentary of his thoughts, predictions and advice for the two main characters.  And after a couple of hand-grabbings to scare each other, we've agreed on a truce - of course, I can't even put my arm on the back of the couch without being accused of a potential violation of the treaty.

I love this time we have together, and the opportunity to just enjoy something with one another. Even if today's scary TV options are more chilling than the b-movies I watched on Nightmare Theater, they still can't hold a candle to Fireman Frank and his terrifying laughter.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hello, Derwood

When I was a kid one of my favorite TV programs was Bewitched - frankly, though, I never understood why the heck Samantha would suppress her supernatural powers just to please her husband. Or, for that matter, why he'd not want her to use them. Dude, get a grip: a little wiggle of her nose and you're on Easy Street!

My favorite character was Endora, the wisecracking mother-in-law, who insisted on calling her son-in-law, Derwood.  I liked her viewpoint about husbands not subjugating wives.

Well, it dawned on me recently that whoever my boys choose to marry won't have to deal with a mother-in-law.  That doesn't seem right. Who's going to tell my future daughters-(or sons)-in-laws, "That's not the way to do it, dear?" Who's going to go that extra mile like making them homemade pasta and cutting it by hand? 

Just look at 'em! They deserve hand-cut pasta...

And whomever the marry had better understand that!

\And yes, that is Apollo the new cat you see in the background. :-)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

It's Huge!

Recently I wrote about Panagia, one of our Maran chickens, beginning to lay. Her first egg was tiny. After consulting with my friend Ann, who lives on Maple Corners, her farm in Minnesota, I learned that the size of the new hens' eggs would gradually increase.

This morning I went out to the coop to gather eggs and what did my little eyes spy? One blue-green egg from one of the Ameraucana hens, one tiny brand-new Maran egg, and one giant Maran egg. I mean, for little Panagia - significantly the smallest of all the girls - to have laid an enormous egg like that was simply a feat of amazing engineering!

When I brought the eggs into the house to show the boys, they took one look at the ginormous egg and belted out, "Oh my God! It's huge!"

I actually had to agree.

 Compared to a newly-laying Maran hen's egg and a mature Ameraucana hen's egg. The boys have deemed the Maran eggs the color of milk chocolate.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Ah, What Do They Know?

Somehow I stumbled across a tongue-firmly-in-cheek "quiz" to help people determine their sexual orientation. So for a laugh, I took it.

Answering questions like how much I spent on my last haircut (under $10 - hey, they had a sale!), and how often I get a manicure (every time hell freezes over),  I knew I was probably in trouble.

I've often joked that a lot of my straight friends without kids are much, much better gay men than I am. I mean I haven't been to a Pride parade in over a decade - yet my buddy Sam was in this year's! (Of course he's a Shriner and was driving one of those little cars...)

A couple of the questions were actually rather tough for me: what event could my girlfriend not drag me to - a toss up between a ball-room dancing competition and a Cher concert. And whereas I know who Carson Kressley is, I have no idea what his new career is.

When I finished answering the 20 questions, I hit the submit button and anxiously awaited to learn just how gay I am...18%. Exactly sure which 18% remains a mystery!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

An Odd Egg

It's been our experience that hens usually start laying when they're about 6-months old.  That's about when Yia yia Peeps and Eleni dropped their first eggs.

Our new girls are only about 5-months old, so we really didn't expect them to start laying until September. Much to my surprise, the other day I went into the coop to collect the eggs, and what did I find sitting next to one of our green-blue eggs? A small, brownish red egg.

I admit it - seeing it there threw me off a little. The "new girls" are, um, a heftier breed than the other chickens, this egg is tiny by comparison. 

And the maran eggs are supposed to be a purplish-red color.

For a brief time I considered that the new egg wasn't from one of the chickens at all, but from some rogue bird...that somehow flew into the chicken enclosure, into the coop, and laid an egg in the nesting area. Yeah, maybe not.

A first-laid egg did explain the incredibly loud squawking coming from the coop early Monday morning. Kelly reminded me that laying an egg is hard work -  and the chicken who laid it probably freaked out a little.

I know I would if I dropped an egg!