One of the problems of being lost and found is all the explainations you have to make. So having recently bobbed back to the surface like some bloated corpse in a cheap thriller, a bad penny back in circulation, I have to guess many of my faithful readers (maybe both of em) are wondering Whatever Became Of Baby Thaddeus? I mean, two years? You never write? You never call? Nu?
Fair question, and I'm sure the answer won't be satisfying, but here's trying.
To start with, Trump happened. I mean, really happened happened, like death and taxes and extinction level asteroid strikes. And while humans are distinct in the hierarchy of zoology in being able to get used to anything, the whole era of Star Of Business, Television And The White House took a whole lot of getting used to. I had a mantra during the Shrub years (which in retrospect are assuming the cast of a time of peace and harmony): Relax. Storm troopers are not marching down the street. Well, ask Charlottesville if that's still relevant.
Now granted, I live in the Pacific Northwest, walled off by several mountain ranges from the more contentious parts of the country, but the poison still leaks out here and there, and I assume it's just a matter of time before some gymcrack home-grown Moscow-funded "populist" front starts ramming bullshit up our collective nose. After long absence, the LaRouche trolls are back in front of the post office, tanned, rested and ready to incite dischord with appeals to Support Trump! Jail Mueller! This from the warm and wonderful organization that displayed posters of Obama with a Hitler moustache. Free speech is not free, it costs a buck o'five. Random vandals leave ugly notes on immigrants' doors or distribute fliers by cover of night. In something of a backfire, such events usually result in a mushroom bloom of We Welcome All Our Neighbors and This Is A Hate Free Zone lawn signs, in my hood anyways. Don't mess with my hood. We'll love you to death. There are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn't advise you to try to invade.
So that was a thing. Still is, last I heard. But it takes more than a thing to keep Mighty Mouth off the digital interstate. It takes... a baby. Specifically, River Pixie Zuidema (why yes, her parents are neohippies, why do you ask?), my almost unbearably cute special-needs grandling by marriage, a staple on Facebook and a caution to us all, who moved in (along with her papa) rather abruptly the summer before last. Lemme tell ya, an extinction level asteroid strike gots nothing on a 2 year old, especially one with a gigawatt grin and her own tiny pink wheelchair who calls you "Zee-dee." Here comes River Pixie. Six months ago I could not even spell Zaide — now I are one.
And that, fellas and gals, leads us directly to the meat of the matter, the crux of the biscuit, that great American passtime, please welcome — The Remod.
Immediately upon arrival, River claimed undisputed possession of the spare bedroom, displacing couch, backup dresser, 50" flatscreen and everything not directly associated with nursery to the winds of whim. Son Ben, on the other hand, was vanquished to the art studio I built for Ada down down down in the blackberry-bedecked backyard long about five years past. Built on the 120-square-foot we-don't-need-no-steenkin'-permit plan, it was barely large enough for a growing boy's domicile and lacked running water and sanitary amenities that even third world countries take for granted. He suffered through one chilly winter in exile without complaint (okay, without much complaint — this is a Millennial we're talking about), but in the spring it occurred to me that while I kinda liked having the whole dang garage for a music space, I was being a dog in the manger. The garage sported indoor plumbing along with about twice as much room as the Chickadee Dell Academy of Fine Arts And Wayward Garden Impliments, and I was by no means using it up to capacity with my quaint little hobby businesses.
We'd already determined that it was house revision time. The roof was fading, the windows and doors were falling off, and the kitchen and bath were grotesque. Our equity was up and mortgage rates were at an all-time low. But while we'd originally considered an addition, practicality and budget stepped in (like they always seem to do) and dictated upgrading the garage instead.
How hard was it, Johnny? Well, let's just say that over the course of 2018 I dropped ten pounds of ugly fat in the pursuit of House Beautiful, and I didn't even have to cut off my head to do it. I subjected forty years of random cruft and music fixin's to a draconian disinvestment, crammed what was left into the back room, built a new bathroom and plumbed the prexisting shower circuit in the now-empty garage and invited Ben in. This while twenty-odd kitchen and bath cabinets magically appeared on our front porch and contractors replaced the roof and windows with almost superhuman speed and grace (no, I didn't try to do them myself and boy am I glad I made that decision). Then I squashed Bard's Cathedral into the The Cabin In The Dell (heigh ho the derry oh) and redid the kitchen. We cooked out on the porch for two months until the cabinets, the countertops and the new appliances went in. Then the rains came.
So it's been big fun, big work, the new kitchen is awesome (m'gawd, I have a dishwasher!), the bath still awaits, not to mention the bedroom and the exterior paint (gonna be deep purple, b'gad) and in the course of all this my writing has taken regrettable boot in honorable pants. Which is what I'm working on correcting now.
But don't worry! No matter how many times I shoot off my mouth, it always grows back.