Gilford Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

As anyone who has spent more than 60 seconds in my presence can tell you, I have several yarns I like to spin about exciting moments I have had with the members of Van Halen. The man standing between Wonder Woman and me in the photo above is Kevin Dugan, a good friend to whom I owe a great deal of credit for quite a few of those experiences—the latest of which took place last week, and buried the needle deep into the red on the Holy-Shit-That-Was-Coolometer.

Kevin is the bass-tech extraordinaire for Mr. Michael Anthony of the once-mighty Van Halen. Though that band seems to have gasped its last breath, Michael and singer Sammy Hagar are very much alive and kicking, and are spending the summer touring together. For some reason, their only New England-area stop was at a shed up in New Hampshire called the Meadowbrook Musical Arts Center, which Wonder Woman and I discovered is located just north of The Middle of Fucking Nowhere. After driving for over an hour—a period of time during which we watched the weather go from bad to awful—we almost turned around and went home. It was largely because we didn’t want to blow off Kevin that we forged on … and, as it turned out, he made it more than worth our while.

Shortly after we arrived at the venue, Kevin set us up with passes and escorted us through the gate into the open-air backstage area, where we hung with him before the show and visited with Michael for a bit—and if there is such a thing as writing nonchalantly, I could try to do so right now, but I’d be bullshitting you … so forgive me for sounding like a starry-eyed fan-boy, but, as someone who began worshipping Van Halen starting at around age 12, it is still beyond surreal to have the bassist from that band recognize me on sight and say “Hey, Jon!” before shaking my hand and giving me a quick hug. To what I think is my credit, I respect this dynamic by resisting the urge to slip into starfucker mode and ask him to pose for pictures with us like he’s a prize deer when we see him. (And for those VH fans wondering: yes, Michael is at least as nice and as cool offstage as you would hope).

So, anyway, here’s the part where Kevin kicks things up a notch.

Wonder Woman and I had tickets that I had scored earlier in the week from Sammy’s publicist. Those tickets, it turned out, were for seats set a good distance back from the stage, which I have identified below with the two red circles in section E.

Meadowbrook seating chart

You know how sometimes a radio station or an artist will have staff members roam through the audience at a concert and give ticket upgrades to people with less-than-stellar seats? Well, Mr. Dugan, it turns out, has a similar such program, which last Wednesday involved upgrading Wonder Woman and I from the two red circles in section E to the two black circles located on the stage. Cha-ching! It is from there that we watched the entire show and hung with Kevin while he worked the bass rig.

Sammy’s stage is designed to look like the inside of his Mexican nightclub, the Cabo Wabo Cantina, and includes an actual bar. The moment the show began, the bartender delivered to Wonder Woman and me a couple of big, fat, delicious Waboritas (margaritas made with Sam’s own Cabo Wabo tequila—which, by the way, is muy delicioso). When we emptied those, he promptly delivered two more. “Mas Tequila,” indeed.

Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

The concert was split into two halves, the first half of which featured Sammy and his band—drummer David Lauser, guitarist Victor Johnson and bassist Mona—playing a bunch of Sam’s solo material and cuts from his days with Montrose. Michael spent most of that set hanging out with Kevin and us, then strapped on a bass and hit the stage with Sammy, David and Vic for the second half of the show—or, as I like to call it, The Part That Kicked Total Ass, which comprised about an hour of nothing but Van Halen songs.

Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

Cabo Wabo, NH

By the time it was over, Kevin had loaded us down with guitar picks, the setlist and an empty bottle of Cabo Wabo that Mike, Sammy and Mona had signed for us during the show.

The full set of pictures we took do a pretty good job of capturing the experience.

Meanwhile, I’d just like to say: Hey, Kev—thanks. For everything.

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Jayna: 11 months

Jayna, 11 months

Not too much new to report since last month, and I suspect that I’ll be writing a lengthy entry to mark your soon-to-be-celebrated first birthday, so I’m going to try to keep this relatively brief (which, when it comes to my writing, means that there’s a small chance you won’t die of hunger before you finish reading it).… [read the rest]

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Zan: 3 years

Zan 3, close-up

Nine days ago, you turned three. I am just now writing about it, and the delay is due largely in part to us marking the milestone with not just a birthday celebration, but rather a birthweek extravaganza. You, in fact, were feted with not one, not two, but three—count ’em: three!—parties. I’m hoping it is only a coincidence that you had as many parties as the number of years being celebrated, and not the start of a tradition, because I don’t feel capable of keeping up with that past, say, three.… [read the rest]

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A hiatus of biblical proportion

Hi. Remember me? Let’s catch up, shall we?

Flood: You know how sometimes during your average, run-of-the-mill rainstorm, there’s a sudden-but-brief burst of torrential, sheet-of-water, holy-mackerel-it’s-really-coming-down-out-there rain that makes you stop and take notice until it passes? Yeah, well, that happened here the week before last … except, instead of passing after only a few seconds or minutes, it came down with that same degree of sustained ferocity for five days.

The psychotic amount of rain that fell resulted in the worst flooding the region has seen in 70 years. One family we know ended up with so much water in their basement that it rose high enough to destroy their furnace and electrical box. Yikes.

And so it is with tremendous relief that I can report that my basement remained dry as the proverbial bone. The symphony of sump pumps and parade of plumbing trucks that became the hallmark of our neighborhood in the days following the flood made me suddenly feel that our modest little Cape, complete with its cramped quarters and Lilliputian second floor, had transformed itself into an awe-inspiring fortress, and I now have a new love for both our home and the little hill upon which it sits.

(Worth viewing: flood photos, and more flood photos.)

Locusts: Well, not really. Moths and inchworms, actually. (I’m trying to stick with the biblical thing, OK? Work with me, people.)

In the late fall/early winter of 2004, during which time we were just settling into our house, I would sometimes look out the window at night and take note of the fact that there were a number of moths flying about. “That’s odd,” I thought to myself. “I don’t recall seeing moths flying about during the late fall/early winter of years past.” I didn’t dwell on it. They were moths, they were little, and they were outside, and so who gives a shit, right?

Almost exactly one year ago, during our first spring in our current home, we began to notice an alarming number of inchworms in our yard. They were multiplying faster than the U.S. national debt, and were rappelling down from the trees onto just about any surface where one might cast one’s gaze, to include all over Zan’s then-new swing set/slide/play-gym thing, which required a daily inchworm extermination detail.

After a little investigating, I discovered that these inchworms are known as winter-moth caterpillars, and that they are the new-millennium equivalent of the ’80s-era pest known as the gypsy-moth caterpillar. Of course, back in the ’80s, I wasn’t a homeowner, and so the gypsy-moth caterpillar infestation was disgusting, sure, but I was busy being an awkward, geeky adolescent, so who gives a shit about gypsy-moth caterpillars, right?

According to an article I came across during my investigation, it is estimated that these winter-moth caterpillars can infest one’s yard to the tune of about a quarter of a million per tree. We have several trees that cover a significant part of our back yard, house and front yard, so it’s probably safe to assume that, for the second consecutive spring, our yard is under siege by over a million winter-moth caterpillars.

So here’s the thing: 1 million-plus winter-moth caterpillars who do nothing but devour all of the leaves in our yard create a positively staggering amount of winter-moth caterpillar shit (which, by the way, I’ve learned is called “frass,” just in case you’re ever on “Jeopardy” and the category “Insect Excrement That Starts with the Letter ‘F’” comes up). For those not familiar, this makes one’s yard, home, cars, trash barrels, outdoor toys, swing set, etc., look as though someone hovered above your property in a large helicopter filled to the brim with 100-pound sacks of poppy seeds, cut said sacks open and heaved their contents into the air. Of course, unlike poppy seeds, caterpillar shit has the added bonus of being just moist enough when it first falls to stick to whatever surface it lands upon. For example, my lovely white car looks something like this right now.

Supposedly, it’s only going to get worse each year between now and 2010. If anyone owns a party-tent business, it’d be swell if you could hook me up with one large enough to completely cover my home and yard, OK? Thanks.

Tequila: I was gonna go with the heading “Blood,” but I already pulled a bait-and-switch with the locust/caterpillar thing, so I’m abandoning the biblical-plague theme.

In the years prior to the arrival of my children, I would occasionally utter the phrase “I need a drink.” Now, roughly three years into the adventure of parenthood, I have a bulletin that I’d like to share with the childless among you who have invoked that same phrase:

Guess what? You don’t know from needing a drink.

Each day at Casa de Scratches, from about 5 p.m. until about 8 p.m., Wonder Woman and I live through a three-pronged hazing ritual known as “Family Dinner, Bathtime, Bedtime.” I have discovered in recent months that, on those days when I have run out of nerves for my children to get on, few things make this period of time more tolerable than the magical elixir known as alcohol—the preferred form of which is a Cabo Wabo tequila-filled margarita … and, thanks to my recent discovery of the most delicious ready-made margarita mix I’ve ever tasted, why, “Family Dinner, Bathtime, Bedtime” has never been more enjoyable.

———

Alrighty, then. This long-winded, stream-of-consciousness ode to Moses is my way of saying: I’ve been gone. I’m back. Sorry for the eternity between posts.

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Zan: 2 years 11 months,
Jayna: 10 months

Zan: 2 years 11 months; Jayna: 10 months

It has been an eventful month, kids … so much so that I am again writing you a combined letter—a format I may just stick with from here on out. You were born on the 11th and 12th days of your respective birth months, and writing separate, lengthy, back-to-back missives is proving to be a challenge for me. So challenging, in fact, that, not only am I combining this month’s letters—I am also writing to you four days after Zan’s monthly milestone and three days after Jayna’s. (I’d like to be more punctual, but raising you keeps getting in the way of writing about raising you. It’s really annoying. I think you should start fending for yourselves more.)
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