The Vixen and the Terror of Cirith Ungol

5 09 2014

Our house has a mailbox.

It isn’t so uncommon a thing, particularly in rural areas to have one. If we lived in a city I could see a PO box but since we live far from the jungles of glass and concrete and cement we have an actual, honest-to-goodness metal box sitting on a wooden post stuck in the dirt.

We have one of those rural mail carriers too. That’s a person that actually drives a car around to deliver your mail. This isn’t like a normal mail man though. They don’t have a fancy set of USPS shorts/pants/shirt/mailbag/poncho (for when it rains and snows.) He doesn’t drive a little white mail van with the blue stripes or anything. Nope. It’s a dude in a jeep of some sort that he owns. And sometimes when he isn’t around it’s a lady.

I don’t like the lady much; she waits to deliver the mail until waaaay later than the normal mail person.

But that’s all backstory. None of that is truly what is important. I don’t want to talk to you about the mail carriers or the box really. Those things aren’t that interesting. I want to talk about what’s inside the box.

One of Shelob’s distant cousins.

You remember Shelob don’t you? Well for those of you who may not remember/know what the hell is I’m talking about; it’s the giant spider that tries to make a lunch of a couple of hobbits in middle earth. That’s right, that thing guarded the pass Frodo and Samwise used to sneak deeper into Mordor. I’d take a picture of this mailbox dwelling beast but I’m afraid that if I tried the flash would send it into a seething rage and it might leap from its mailbox sanctuary to attack me.

Spiders never used to be something that I was incredibly cognizant of. Sure I would notice webs from time to time forming in out of the way places, strands of cob that you don’t ever see until they are thousands of tiny strands thick, clogging up a corner of the ceiling. I would also catch the occasional spider poking around the pool stairs when it was time to drag the things back to the pool so I could get in it again.

Now that the Vixen is in my life there seems to be a hell of a lot more. She has this weird sense. She is drawn to spider activity like shai-halud to a harvester. (Two uber nerdy references in one post, how do you like that?) Many a night I’ve spent responding to the horrified calls that yet another arachnid had been discovered and needed assistance in moving swiftly to the afterlife. (Which for spiders I’m told is hell given that it is their point of origin.)

No longer are these eight legged eaters of annoying insects allowed in my life. They have taken a different place all together. They are intruders and they are legion. A cobweb is no longer simply that. It is an indication that our perimeter has been breached and our defenses overcome, the only thing remaining that stands between happiness and the utter annihilation of my family is me and sometimes a long dowel or shoe or something for those times they are too high up for me to squash without additional reach.

That giant arachnid in the mailbox, easily shadowing a quarter with its size, is one that I have battle for my wife in the past. While she deals with turtles and turkeys and all other manner of other creature; she like any good superhero has a weakness. Arachnids are her kryptonite and being the loyal sidekick that I am in this crazy partnership called marriage, I step in to help.

I remember it like it was yesterday. The sun was high in the sky, it was hot, humid and the night couldn’t come fast enough. The mailman had recently been through so I volunteered to go get the mail. I opened the box and there it was, sitting on the lid, staring at me with all of its creepy little eyes which were actually big enough to make out fairly easily.

I moved to get the mail and it followed my hand, scurrying across the lid like a lion ready to pounce. I withdrew and eyed it for a bit. It returned to the forefront of the lid as if it were daring me to invade its newly acquired cardboard treasure horde. I told it to piss off. It didn’t.

So I got a stick.

When I returned to the box I found it had retreated down into the lip of the lid interior so that I could still see it but I’d have a hell of a time getting at it. The bastard knew. IT knew what I was doing. I thrashed and jabbed but either my stick kept hitting the lip or it was deflecting my blows. To this day I don’t know which it was.

Finally after I crossed the road and waited a bit it came out and actually started expanding a web on the exterior of the box. I waited until it rappelled down a bit, rushed over, hooked the line with my stick and pitched it into the hayfield. It flew a long ways and fell hard in the grass. And the box was safe.

Or so I thought. My work as a sidekick wasn’t over yet.

The spider is back.

It’s built a new web, inside.

It watches.

And it waits.


The Vixen and the Utica Pea Fowl

3 09 2014

Did you know pea fowl was even a thing? I saw it on a sign. Really.

The kids are big fans of the zoo. We’ve taken them on more than one occasion. We’ve even gone to more than one zoo.


So far the one we favor is the Rosamond Gifford zoo in Syracuse, NY. (Which I like to pronounce wrong. If you tweak the ending just a little bit it sounds kind of like Arrakis! Two Dune reference in a week, BOOM!) It’s a lovely place; lots of animals, well maintained, inexpensive. The kids love it to death and the Vixen and I get a kick out of it ourselves, especially around the eagles with which the Vixen seems to have a special connection.

I’m pretty sure that she would take one home with her given the opportunity.

So what other zoos have we been to? I’m glad you asked.

The answer is the Utica zoo in the city of the same name. When we went there we went by accident even. Somehow the Vixen and I were both convinced that the zoo in Utica was the zoo from Syracuse and apparently forgot that we had even been to Syracuse in the first place. It’s like we had strokes.

So here we are stumbling around this zoo wondering why the hell everything looks so much different. We tried to reason that we came in a different gate than last time. We theorized that perhaps the renovations the zoo had been talking about on our last trip were just really quite extreme. When we had reached the end of the grounds and by using some quick google-fu we realized that we made a hysterical error and went to the wrong city.

These two places aren’t even close to being on the same level, I don’t know what the hell was wrong with us. Anyways, this is where the formal battle against nature first began.

We had just finished scoping out the monkeys which stood at the top of a hill where the gate was and decided that we would start heading downward toward whatever awaited us there. We had never been so we had no idea. Turns out the answer was a mouthy damn bird.

There was a point at which several paths intersected, several cages coming to a sort of crossroads clustered around a shed. Now it was my understanding that normally the animals are supposed to be inside some sort of fenced area or cage or something. Well, on top of the roof of that shed was a peacock. Soon as he saw us he started in with that ridiculous noise they make. It’s hard to reproduce but I think I have a decent impression down.

It goes something like this: Ur RuuuUUUUURRR!

Normally I wouldn’t think much of it but this bird was different. We had encountered peacocks at the Rosamond Gifford zoo and they were relaxed. This bird was all full or rage and angst man and he was telling the Vixen all about it.

Not wanting to perform a Pearl Harbor reenactment with this damn bird playing the role of the Japanese we took off for other parts of the zoo. Every time we started heading back that way though, even remotely close to toward the bird, it would go off. It was almost as if the peacock could sense my wife. Like he was seeing the chi of his enemy travel about the part, letting out braying war cries as the aura drew nearer.

That was the wake-up call. The moment of truth. The day the Vixen knew she would have to rise to the occasion and meet these animals head on.

My Wife the Superhero

1 09 2014

I always thought I’d grow up to marry someone special and I did. Clearly I had no idea how special.

Until now.

No one really expects that they’ll ever meet a superhero what with that being something you only see in fiction. Or at least that’s what I used to think. The Vixen changed my mind and the more that I think about it, the way I refer to her does sound a bit like a superhero moniker.

So she has a catchy name, that’s cool but it takes a lot more than a snazzy title to qualify as super powered. So what else is there? What is it about her that makes her so super?

I’ve seen her battle evil my friends. I’ve been the singular witness during several encounters with what I’ve come to refer to as “Nature’s Ugly Side.” Let me tell you about the most recent encounter.

The Vixen and I were on our way home from town (we live in a rural area so “going to town” means traveling fifteen minutes to the closest settlement that offers something more than a gas station.) by way of a set of heavily wooded roads that pass by a reservoir which supplies water to the before mentioned “town.”

I would have never seen it, for my eyes are the mundane optic nerves of a commoner. The Vixen’s finely tune sight detected her next opponent, even traveling at a speed of 45 MPH, there was no way she could have missed it. She grabbed me by the shoulder and I asked me if I had seen the evil. I of course was oblivious and had to admit my ignorance. She bade me stop and I pulled the car over to the side of the road.

We had passed her prey so I, feeling a lot like Shia Labeouf, turned the car around and brought her closer to the foul beast.

The sun was setting. The air was warm. The trees rustled gently as a hint of wind whispered through their evergreen limbs. The Vixen got out of the car and walked slowly (after checking both ways) across the street coming to stand silently, like an awesome stone tower before her opponent.

On the ground before her a massive turtle lumbered to face her. Clearly it was on its way to poison the reservoir in an attempt to ransom the “Town” for an astronomical sum! She picked up a stick from nearby.

What followed was a kind of adorable Gamera/Ultraman mash-up featuring a big ass turtle and a cute girl in khaki shorts. The special effects weren’t very good though. They even included a bit of humor in the many surprised expressions the Vixen had in response to the turtle snapping her stick to pieces.

In the end the day was won as the Vixen finally managed to push the stupid thing out of the road and back into the grass. There is even video. I know because I shot it using my phone. I didn’t even think about asking the Vixen if I could include it here since I already know her answer would be a super-powered “Hell no.”

This wasn’t her first encounter with vicious wildlife though. And you should consider yourself lucky she’s out there keeping the roads safe for you and me.

The Littlest Necromancer’s Ultimatum

29 08 2014

So to the casual observer probably thinks our daughter is kind of creepy.

If you’ve been following along with the rest of this week’s posts you probably know what I’m talking about. Hell you might even agree. I think I’m a little excited about it to be honest with you. The world needs more interesting characters in it and by the power of Greyskull, I think we’ve got one.

The girl child expressed her thoughts to me the other day on what had recently happened, with the funeral I mean. Do you want to know more?

I was sitting on the couch with book in hand enjoying another quiet afternoon with the kids. I was making great headway in my current read when the world’s smallest, blondest necromancer approached me.

“Daddy, are you reading?” she asked, peering over a sheet of paper longer than her torso. (She loves to draw and sometimes I think they may even be normal people drawings of dogs and butterflies and stuff. Not diagrams of the levels of hell.)

“Why, what’s up?” I ask.

“Did Grammy really die?”

I put my book down and pat the cushion beside me. She accepts the invitation and plops down, frown and all.

“Yes she did. Do you want to talk about it kiddo?”

No sooner had I finished my question than she lit right back up, a toothy smile replacing her momentarily distressed face.

“No, that’s okay, I’ll just go see her later.” She says as she hops up and heads out of the room. I stop her and try to refocus the conversation.

“You can’t actually see her later, she isn’t around anymore.”


“Do you remember what we did when the dog died?” I asked her, trying to frame this in a way she would understand.

“We put them in the ground.”

“That’s right. And we did the same thing with Grammy; we put her in the ground kiddo. She can’t run around or talk or play or anything anymore.”

I thought that might do to trick. It didn’t of course; she just cocked her head and looked at me sideways for a minute. (A lot like her mother does come to think of it.) She smiled.

“That’s silly Daddy. It’s okay if she’s in the ground I can just play with her later just like the puppies.”


“You can still play if you’re in the ground. It’s okay Daddy, I’ll just go play with her and the puppies later.” She repeated.

Then she turned and headed for her room. I didn’t stop her that time since I was having a difficult time trying to make sure I understood what she was telling me, the implications of which, lead to the same conclusion.

I think I’m raising a Necromancer.


D’awwww. Even death can look adorable.

The Littlest Necromancer Draws Your Doom

27 08 2014

The saga continues as the tiniest wielder of magic both dark and terrible continues to make her powers known to the world.

Mondays are usually days of great bonding and adventure in our household. The kids and I watch movies, run around outside, and all manner of other fun stuff. I’ve been putting quite a few hours into a sketchbook recently so the girl child at least has decided that perhaps she should do the same. She already loves to draw so it is no surprise really.

I was sitting on the floor at the end of my bed listening to music on the record player, phone nearby waiting for my wife to call and tell me how work was going. I had my bag of pencils, erasers and tiny metal sharpener on the floor beside me and was scrawling away at a page in my sketchbook.

Enter the necromancer.

“Hi Daddy.”

“Hi weirdo.”

“What are you drawing?”

“A face.”

“Is it a real one?”

I had to stop for a moment here. Not because I didn’t know how to answer but because I was afraid of how this conversation was going to expand.

“Well no. It isn’t of a real person; it’s more of a cartoon you could say.”

“Oh.” Ponderous head scratching follows for a few silent moments.

“Are you going to draw the skin?” she asks.

“Well I’m drawing it with skin on, yes. It would be a skull instead of a face if I didn’t draw the skin.”


I couldn’t help myself. “Why do you ask about the skin?”

“Last time I drew a person he didn’t have any skin. He had a helmet and a horse and a big shield but no skin.”

“Why was there no skin?” I asked.

“I’m going to go finish this picture; you’re really going to like it.”

Dodging the question. Slippery little speaker of the dead. I tried my best not to think anything of it and went about my own sketchy business (tee hee). The peace lasted about six minutes before she returned again with a large piece of paper in tow that looked like it may have been used to clean up blood splatter at a murder scene.

“Daddy, look at this, look at what I drew!”

I look. I can’t make out what I’m looking at, but I look.

“That’s very elaborate kiddo, what all did you draw here?”

“It’s you and your doom.”

“Oh. Wait, what?”

“It’s you daddy. See? There’s your beard.”

“Okay, sure I could see that. What’s all the red stuff though? Is that a spear in my chest?” I really start squinting at this thing because…damn.

“No that’s you and you have all the stuff you were drinking that’s red like blood and that thing (indicating what looks to be a spear) is your wheel and this (pointing to what looks to be a horrifically jagged metal cube) is your doom. You’re going to go fast too because that’s what it does.”

I stare and stare at this picture hoping that something that makes an ounce of sense is going to pop out at me but it’s just not coming.

“Doom?” I ask.

Sadly the conversation didn’t go any further. She ran off back to her room screaming “Doom doom, dooooooom.” So you know, that’s over with I guess. Up until the time I’m typing this nothing has happened to me yet. There has been no indication that any sort of doom is coming my way. I’ve stayed away from elevators and spears, batons, javelins, and any other pointy thing I can think of. Hell I even tucked the letter opener at work into a drawer in case she was drawing that and just screwed up the perspective in the picture so it seemed huge.

Thanks for the comforting thoughts little friend of dead things.

I’ve got my eye on you.

The Littlest Necromancer Strikes Again

25 08 2014


So I may have mentioned the Vixen and I having a couple days of funeral activities with the girl child in tow. Oddly enough I thought I’d discuss it some more. Now, much like the last post that explored the recent death in our family, this one really isn’t that sad either. How is that you might wonder?

Well, because we had a child with us of course.

The day after the casket-licking incident was the day of the actual internment in the ground. There was a catholic mass held before hand. This would be the scene of the second incident; calling out the clergy.

I cannot say that I have been to a lot of specifically catholic events. There were a good many years that I was an active participant in the Christian scene, regularly going to church and other religious functions throughout the week. As you may have guessed from the unconcerned usage of profanity and the referencing of Sesame Street themed lubricants, I don’t really do that these days.

That of course is an entirely different discussion for an entirely different day.

At any rate, I am unfamiliar with Catholicism’s rituals and practices but there are a few things that this particular flavor of Christianity seems to have in common with its cousins. The one that is most important for this story is the practice of communion. I have seen it done a couple different ways in a couple of different churches. The idea is the same though. You eat the wafer, you drink the juice, and you listen to the ditty about the blood and the body being broken and eaten and stuff.

This happened toward the end and the clergyman stood in front of his altar and dispensed the wafers to the long line of attendees. This is where the Necromancer in all of her diabolic glory stepped in.

After studying what was happening for a few minutes she felt comfortable enough to announce this holy man a fraud with the declaration of “That’s not a body!” And you better believe that as a fractioned of the dead arts, that girl knows a real live, uh, well…dead maybe? She knows a corpse when she sees one.

The Vixen even had the audacity to try and silence her damning cries.

I prayed for the first time in a long time that night that my wife would be saved from the adorable yet lethal vengeance of the littlest necromancer.


I’m Raising a Necromancer

16 08 2014


So my daughter licked a casket.

Do you want to more?

Imagine if you will that you are at a funeral. It’s at a lovely little funeral home on a busy street in a little town in upstate New York. The employees are friendly despite the town typically thinking too highly of itself. Through a doorway from the main viewing area (which is lined with pearly white chairs) there is a smaller room. The dimensions aren’t important; just know that it is about half the size.

The new room connects to others even though it does so without using a single hallway; just a collection of rooms with neat little cuts that make them all fit together. In this half-sized room (just off the main, remember?) there are two pitchers of water. Each is smartly curved and full of ice and some of the most peculiar tasting water you’ve ever had. Why is that? Maybe it’s just the way the town water tastes. Maybe it’s because the water at funerals never tastes quite right; like it knows something is off and it should feel upset too.

Then again this is upstate New York so maybe a raccoon just had a bath in it twenty minutes ago.

You take a glass of water and head back into the main room thinking about how happy that raccoon had better be when you’re foxy wife approaches you to ask if you had any idea what the girl-spawn had done. You answer “No” of course since you’ve been in the other room thinking about how you’re probably drinking Rocket’s bath water.

So the Vixen quietly informs you that the girl-spawn put her hand on the deceased’s casket (as opposed to the non-deceased since apparently that’s a thing all of a sudden) then licked her hand. Furthermore, because that isn’t strange enough, she make the declaration that “Yes, it does taste like wood.”

The above story is true.

One thing you can always rely on a child for is the opportunity to look at something in a way you never thought you would. How does this child, who is still a month from entering kindergarten, manage to take a person’s death and turn it into something to smile about?

I’ve mentioned before how interesting I find death to be and that I love exploring it more through writing and as it turns out my kids might be coming along for the ride too.