O.P. Update


My recent Irish trip bumped the following news update about our tenant/wannabe-barncat, Oh Possum. But I’m happy to report:

Oh Possum has been evicted.



After several unsuccessful attempts to catch O.P., Martin camouflaged the trap with bits of lumber — an act that I endlessly mocked. (“Really, that’s going to lure him in? A few pieces of wood? Ha!”)

But it worked.

The night of the snow storm (not the last snow, but the one before that), we discovered Oh Possum, trapped like a rat.


I was elated, but our chief trapper? Less so. Martin was reluctant to locate the marsupial, in lieu of the weather. “I feel bad, taking him out of his environment to somewhere new in a snow storm,” he said.

“Okay…” I said warily.

“Maybe we should keep him in the cage, and — you know — feed him for a few days.”

“Not a chance,” I flatly replied. “He ships out. Tonight.”

“Well, then maybe we should let him go. And then we’ll catch him again when it’s not snowing.”

“Are you crazy? Catch him again? Do you really think he’ll fall for the lumber covered trap-trick again?” I asked. “Listen, the snow’s not that deep. He has plenty of time to meet his new, charming woodland neighbors and learn the lay of the land.” 

After that, there was a debate about who would handle transportation (“I’m not taking that thing,” I said.) And a discussion over the transport vehicle (“No way, Martin! You are NOT putting Oh Possum in Flash!!”)

Finally, around midnight, Martin and Cayden loaded the hissing beast into Big Rig’s flatbed and drove off into the dark.


You’re taking me where?”


Oh Possum is now a resident of the great state of Virginia (should he wish to return, he’ll have to cross the Potomac River). I don’t think that we’ll see him again. However, Martin has detected more scratching in the crawlspace above his office.

Perhaps an O.P. sibling or cousin?


Photo Op


In the winter months, newspapers love running seasonal photos. You’ve all seen them after a snow: a caption beneath a picture of dogs romping in a park; or kids in puffed-up parkas, careening down a sled run; or the silhouette of a lone cross-country skier, commuting to work. (I know you’ve all spotted that last one; it’s an editorial fave.)

So nice, picturesque images of a winter wonderland.


Typical caption: Child cavorts in Saturday snowfall.


The photo above is from my archives. Hadley, a few years ago.


This one, however, is a recent snapshot of winter revelry.


Caption: Pigpen wallows in salt, sand and other road scum after recent snowfall.


Pigpen was so filthy, so completely caked in corrosive chemicals, I had to document it. That disgustingly dirty car, in its element.



Somehow the kids managed to carve a few letters out of this mobile art medium. But it wasn’t easy.


I should have taken it to the carwash but instead, I let yesterday’s sleetish-rain wash away Pigpen’s ghostly glow.

Just in time for tonight’s ice show… and another round of sand, salt and grit.

It’s a good winter to be Pigpen.

Christmas Day: Intermission Tradition


Celebrating Christmas with 3 young kids, Martin and I are in the tradition-building phase of the holiday. Annual practices and habits reappear and nestle themselves in and around December 25. And one in particular has staked a permanent claim.

The forced march.

Actually, we’d never call it that. It’s “intermission” — a cease fire in the rapid destruction of Santa haul beneath the tree. We rug-up the kids and take a long walk.

The origins of intermission date back to 2010, when we discovered Cayden and Hadley early Christmas morning, methodically and indiscriminately tearing through every present and package. We extracted them from wads of crumpled paper and tape, and pushed them out the door with baby Brynn. They were tearful and remorseful, but the walk bucked them up.



The following Christmas, we versed our early-risers on the “open only the gifts in your stocking” rule, but set out for a late-morning walk. We ditched Brynn’s stroller and opted for a combo of Bugsy/wagon transport to crest the top of the neighbor’s hill.





The next year, we officially announced “intermission” halfway through present-opening. That was last Christmas. Bugsy carted two kids to the yak-cow property, to check out a new lamb.

This year, a few days ago, I decided that Bugsy deserved a lighter load. Just Brynn. I hoisted the older kids aboard Jazz — who was probably baffled by the octopus effect of four bareback legs. A vast departure from his racetrack days. But the journey’s purpose was the same: take a break from new-toy acquisition and appreciate the day.


Double duty on the way up….



…just one passenger for the return leg.


I have no doubt that intermission will continue, maybe with bikes (if the kids ever learn to ride them) or perhaps with a fleet of horses.

Either way, it’s an official Christmas tradition… and perhaps the impetus of another tradition:

The post-intermission nap.