Wednesday, July 16, 2014

more thoughts on dogs

Back in 2006, when we first got Brodie, she and Jack would "Face Fight," which is a dog thing where it looks like they are actively trying to kill one another by eating their faces, but really, it is doggie play.

She was so small when we got her, that she would stick her head INSIDE his mouth, all the way. All the way inside his mouth. Like a lion tamer with a lion. And Jack would stand there and look at me like "well, what am I supposed to do with this aside from just .... wait?"

Yeah buddy, you just wait.

Face fights were a frequent occurrence in our house.  And it was a lot of fun to watch.  I have dozens of pictures of the two of them doing their daily shenanigans. They played so hard with one another. They would run through the house and tackle each other. He was already full grown, at about 70 pounds and she was getting bigger by the minute, and the ruckus. Oh the Ruckus!

Gonzo came on the scene shortly afterwards, and he and Brodie never really got along great... when Jack and Brodie would do their "sibling" bonding,  with the biting and the growling, and the running and chasing, and jumping on the couch and off the couch and into the back yard, and AIR HUMPING! And the biting biting biting! ... poor Gonzo would stand there and BARK at them and look at us as if to say "Will you please stop the children from behaving in such a manner!"

It was intolerable at times to listen to him barking while they played and did their thing, so we would break it up just for peace and quiet.

The past couple of days, Brodie and Jack have returned to their face fighting ways. Jack is far older, not as willing to participate as the little girl is, but they go at it and it is amazingly funny.

Jack also attempts to "dominate" her once again by humping her general vicinity. The air, her side, near the couch... it is like he needs to remind her that with Gonzo gone, HE is the Alpha, and she is still, no matter what, the sub-Omega.

Brodie has taken to washing his face every day, which she used to do to Gonzo. They never got along great but she did a great job of doing some nice subservient things for him. Now she does them for Jack. This morning it was very sweet watching her wash his face, both of their tails wagging...

And no one barking at them to knock it off.

I'm not saying I'm happy Gonzo is gone. By no means. I'm just noticing the dynamic.

Two dogs is very different than three dogs.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

And then, there were two


In 2006,  Aaron asked us to take his dog.

He and his wife had separated and he took the dog to his parents' house because he thought the dog would be cared for better there. Turns out they couldn't care for him. He was too big, a handful, he needed a house with kids and running and yard and big dogs like himself instead of teacup yorkies.

So he asked, and we said yes. I long ago said that this alone gets me into heaven, or at least into the BFF with Dogs book that will make God smile on me. We always joked around that we got the kid in the divorce.

It was a big undertaking. We had just gotten Brodie, and let me tell you...  three dogs is a lot of dogs. Two has a certain dynamic. Jack and Brodie were doing great together as siblings. Jack and Gonzo had always gotten along beautifully. Brodie and Gonzo really didn't hit it off.

Things were challenging, and there were days when I wanted to give either Brodie or Gonzo away (never Jack. I would never give him away. He's the best dog ever).

We did good by Gonzo.

He was the smartest dumb dog I've ever known. His vocabulary was vast. He understood intonation and could never be tricked by being told one thing when we meant another. He was a master thief of anything left on the kitchen counter, and raided the garbage barrels in the house with unrelenting energy. We had to keep our trash up on shelves in the bathroom, and the kitchen trash locked up.

In the past couple years both he and Jack have slowed down. And then two weeks ago, Gonzo just slowed all the way down.

He died at home with Doug and Geoff by his side. Doug was going to take him to the vet, but then decided it would be too late even if they rushed there. So they patted him. Doug held him. He stopped breathing on the living room floor. And that was that.

This was a dog who loved to swim, who loved to get sticks, who would find tennis balls long lost under the couch and then try his hardest to get them. This was a dog who I think never really ever TASTED food. I called him Hoover, Kirby, Dyson... This was a dog who would bless me with his presence once in a while up on our bed or on the couch, and always took the right amount of real estate up without being a hog.  He hated fireworks and thunder. And he sure hated chickens one hot summer day in July when he and Geoff went for a walk at Farmer Matt's house.

It is weird to not be barked at when I come home, so that I can yell back "I live here, stupid!" at him and then scratch him on the head. I'm going to miss you, dopey dog.  Thanks for being my weird friend for all these years. You were a ton of fun.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Was it worth two cell phones and a key fob, and a little bit of dignity? Hell Yeah.

The long holiday weekend was upon us.

Geoff has been bored out of his mind stir-crazy since school got out. He wanted to apply for a job, and several places took his application but no one hired him. And in 2 weekends he's off to camp so it hardly seems worthwhile at this point for him to go get a summer job.

I was starting to feel awful, because my body hurts (mostly my legs, still) and I'm tired easily. I'm afraid this is the new normal for me. Since I got this job, which I do love and I love the money, and I'm happy there, I just haven't been able to make time to go to the gym. I miss Carrie, I miss riding the exercise bikes and bitching about everything with someone who gets it. I needed to get out and do something... fun.

Saturday morning I suggested to Doug that we go out on a canoe trip on the Ipswich River, take the "short" tour, rent one canoe so all 3 of us can go in it... just get out and have some fun. And I do love to canoe. I love it. I love not paddling and just sitting and looking at things. I love paddling to get away from things. I love when there is a challenging bit of river that you have to navigate through and work with your partner. It's fun.

And, it doesn't require my legs. While I'd love to go hike a mountain, or even a hill, I don't think that I can make it. It sucks.

So Doug agreed with me, we grabbed some sandwiches and a cooler, got a 6 pack of local beer, and headed to the put-in. We rented a canoe, I asked for a 17 ft canoe and they didn't have one so we got a 10 ft.  Which immediately was not a good idea but... we wanted to get out on the river!

We hopped in, pushed off, and started up the Ipswich. Beautiful day. Kind of a head wind, but with two paddlers working hard it's not a problem.

Until you start to approach the boughs of a tree hanging down over the water.

By "you" I mean "me."

I called back to Doug and said "Hey, Hey.... Um... we're going into some branches." And we did. And they weren't just branches that kind of whisk gently over your head, maybe knock your hat off. Make you giggle.

They were some serious fuck you in the face branches. And by "you" I mean... yeah.

The branch hit me in the face, and I grabbed it to kind of
  1. slow us down and 
  2. prevent it from swinging back and seriously smacking Geoff in the face, as he was the rider in the middle. 

The canoe didn't slow down, because Doug was paddling hard. So there's me holding on to the branch, which wasn't a branch it was a total huge tree part, and getting pulled OUT of the canoe, and that was when the whole canoe just went sideways.

And we all ended up in the water, with our stuff.

Now, without a sense of humor and the love for ridiculous, this would piss a lot of people off. Like my son. Who was livid. But ... no one got hurt (me a little, but the sting of the branch was quickly forgotten when I got dunked). No one was bleeding. And we were all standing chest deep in the river, a very gentle river, where no one was being washed away or drowning. The water was a lovely temperature, and no one laughed too hard at us as they paddled by.

We got the canoe righted and over to shore, dumped the water out and got back in.

We had a dry bag with us, inside my backpack.

Only, the only thing IN the dry bag was my camera. I had taken my cell phone out to start tracking the miles on the trip on MapMyFitness.com, and I thought while I was paying for the canoe rental Doug had put his wallet, phone and keys in the dry bag. But he had not.

Oops.

We continued on our journey, went a couple miles, had lunch. Doug's legs kept cramping up but I was perfectly happy and joyful... Geoff kept fearing that the canoe would spill again. It wasn't really built for 3 adults. More like 2 adults and one small child. But we made due, and it was beautiful.

 Our canoe loves us.
 My mountain men on the shore while we ate lunch. I stayed in the canoe.
 The only Green Heads that we had to think about, which for this season on the Ipswich River is a good thing!
 Our map got wet. And ruined.
 But ... it was so beautiful and tranquil...
This was the only traffic jam we sat through. 

We saw tons of wildlife. The dragonflies were outstanding, so many dancing along the water. Fish were jumping. There was a huge gaggle of geese, and we had to wait for them to "cross the road." Other canoes sat there too and little kids were losing their minds. It totally made me smile. A small beaver swam along ahead of us and then went under the river bank ahead of us. There were huge beautiful yellow finches in one of the trees just singing and dancing.

I'm glad we got the chaos and disorder over in the first five minutes of the trip and then could enjoy the rest of it not worrying about it happening.

We got to the car and our key fob was soaking wet so we couldn't unlock the car with it. Doug used the key, and we got in and closed the doors. When he started the car the alarm went off and we drove through Ipswich for a while with the horn beeping. This amused Geoff greatly.

The beeping stopped and we figured the car was happy. We stopped for gas and when Doug opened the car door the alarm went off again. Several people stopped what they were doing and stood there and gawked at us. So we just drove away. We got home, and got out of the car, where the alarm once again sounded... Doug finally got it semi-disconnected so it doesn't go off all the time.

The key fob dried out in a container of rice. But the horn keeps chirping and wanting to beep and go off full force. Oh, the humor. Until someone thinks we're beeping at them and gets out of traffic and comes and punches us in the face.

I had a great time canoeing... We'll go do this again, I'm sure. For as long as we've lived in this area, we've never gone down the Ipswich. Next time, we will rent kayaks and have them take us to Middleton to the launch site up there, and with a kayak, if you fall out or over or whatever, you're the only one responsible. No one can blame you for anything. And, everything will be in the dry bag, I promise.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Setting Children on Fire

I want to tell you about Max.

I've known him for about 7 or 8 summers, he goes to my church, and now actually lives across the street from me. I am friends with his mom, and count her among my best friends.

There is something that happens with me and Max when I spend time with him. Jessica refers to it as "setting him on fire."

For some reason, Max gets extra beyond silly when I spend time with him. I ask him questions and he rocket ships to the ridiculous.

We were at our outdoor church service today, and Max walked up to me to show me his pregnancy. There's a soccer ball under that shirt. So I said "Oh, so you are havin' a baby. Mazel tov. I see you already have a photo of your baby on your shirt. Is that from the ultrasound?"

Boom. Set on fire.

This photo is pretty much the exact second where the conflagration starts. You can tell by the look on his face.  The hysterical laughter, the how can I make this funnier, the where is the next level we can take this to without me getting in trouble... Zero to 60 in about two seconds.

I'm not sure what it is about me and Max that it gets like this the second we're in the same space. I can say "apple" to him and he will lose his mind laughing.

We sat at a picnic table together with his parents with his brother, and me making him insane. His brother plays along with our insanity and encourages it. I think his parents are borderline horrified but also entertained.  Max's brother, Henry, is a straight man to the shenanigans. He doesn't quite burst into flames the way Max does, but he sure enjoys it. 

Gotta tell ya, it makes me super happy to make these kids lose their minds and send them off with their parents.


I was at their house one day and both Max and Henry were asking about the resurrection and why some things happened, and I started telling the story very colloquially with "this dude" and "Jesus was all like..." and they were dying. Beth told me "I need you to come teach children's church one of these days" and I said "You're joking right? I've got two kids peeing their pants and I'm not sure I'm theologically sound. You want that with 20 kids in children's church? There's a reason I do not teach children's church..."

In the meantime... I do enjoy setting fire to kids.



Saturday, June 28, 2014

I suppose an update would be nice

Hello interwebs. It has been a little while. I started the contract job in mid-May and have been busy ever since. Today is a beautiful day and what am I doing? Catching up on updating webpages that I edit (um, yeah... a bit behind on a couple of them) and I am conditioning a dutch oven that our son brought back from a boy scout trip several months ago... I should go outside and play. But I'd rather take a big nap.

Someone, encourage me to take a big nap. No? oh, okay.

So the job goes well, I like my team but at times I'm confused as to how to pursue things and what is going to not get worked on and what will get worked on. I have a servant's heart so not doing something that someone has asked for often is not something that makes sense to me. I feel there is a lot of historical, community knowledge that I don't know, so I'm often told that I'm asking people too often for things.

This is why I dislike tech support.

Anyway - overall, I am doing okay even when I don't exactly understand why they do things the way they do. I've grown to like the folks in the office. I'm having fun. And the pay is good.

We are getting ready for me to miss a week of that pay - we'll be going to Aaron's wedding in August, and he asked me to be his Best Man. I asked him to call me "witness for the groom" and he said no -- "you're my bro, so... Best Man!" And I'm not hung up on gender stereotyping so ... it's cool.

Some people think it is weird, and then someone asked me if Aaron was gay... it is something for people to have to fit their heads around a little bit, I guess.

We are looking for fun stuff to do that week, and I think there will be fishing and kayaking in the mix, and there may be pub crawls to bars that have Sasquatch statues at them.

We shall see.

All told -- I'm doing alright. I don't have much to say, although I should go on my rant about the vegan food truck that parks at the end of my street once a week and limits the Monday food choices for me, so I bring my lunch so as not to have to deal with it. 'Murica, all like that.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Early one morning the sun was shining, I was laying in bed...

This morning I had the unique experience of having a very vivid dream where I was in bed, hitting the snooze alarm on my cell phone repeatedly so that I could fall asleep again and keep dreaming whatever the dream was that I was dreaming.   And while having this dream, I was in real life hitting the snooze alarm on my phone repeatedly so I could fall asleep again and keep dreaming the dream I was dreaming, which was, of course, to be in my bed hitting the snooze alarm over and over so I could go back to sleep and ....

Waking up from something like that is at times unnerving. I went into the bathroom, and had to convince myself that I was on the loo, that I was awake, and it was safe to go ahead and pee because I was no longer in my bed hitting the snooze alarm over and over.

Slowly I began to get to an awake point. I turned on the shower and got in, almost forgetting to take off my t-shirt but I remembered while my left leg was in the stream of the water.

After my shower I came downstairs to see what was going on in life, Doug was on his way upstairs to get ready. Geoff looked at me and said "Getting a late start today?"

Normally I'm dressed and ready and sitting on the couch by 6:15 while Doug is either still in bed or in the shower himself. I guess yeah, I was getting a late start if this was already 6:45.

Mercifully, the Traffic Pixies made the way clear, and while we left after Geoff's bus (which we never do) I was here at my desk at 8:20am. Pretty fantastic commute. Even with the woman in front of us from Tennessee who couldn't figure out for the life of her that she needed to pull up into the intersection to make a left hand turn. Or even GO when no traffic was coming, to make a left hand turn.

We were happy to lose her as she headed toward the airport and we headed to the tunnel.

Friday mornings in the "summer" usually are just that. We make it into the city in no time. Last year when I was driving Doug to his job and continuing along to "Awesome" I was often at my desk the earliest on Fridays.

It is the getting home part that hurts on a Friday. Everyone is headed to New Hampshire, and everyone is in our way.

This office is full of late arrivers, which is fine. I normally like being a late arriver. But if you are a late arriver, you usually are a late stayer. Doug tries to get over here to get me by 5:30 or :45, and then it takes us until 7 to get home. So getting here before 9am is a good thing for me. I can get a full day of shenanigans in under my belt.

And on that note, the tea is getting cold, and I have help desk tickets to solve. Onward.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Holiday Weekend Mode

Oh hello Saturday morning. I've been waiting for you.

With the new job, I need to be up and in the shower by 5:30am. If I'm taking the train, I aim for the 6:30 and usually make the 7. after that there is a long wait for the next run. If Doug is driving and I'm riding, I'm happy if he's in the car by 7, and would rather he be in the car by 6:45 so we can leave a touch earlier.

Early is so not my thing.

Carrie and I had been meeting a couple times a week at the gym, between 7 and 7:30 most of the time, and that was a struggle, getting out of bed and into exercise clothes and a scrunchy by 6:50.

This morning, my dogs were up at 4:45 wanting to go outside. I thought about being up for the day but got back under the covers and cuddly and fell back asleep.

Waking up at 10:30, my normal very favorite time to wake up.

This being a holiday weekend, I plan on sleeping as much as happily possible.

I love my job, but really love my sleep. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sort of Born to Run

Yesterday. Doug took Geoff to a doctor's appointment and on the way home, one of our cars suffered a water pump failure. He managed to get it home to the driveway. It gets towed to the shop tomorrow (Yes, I got AAA earlier this month. I was proactive).

I drove in Monday because I was dressed and ready at 6:10 and figured I didn't want to wait for a train I should have gone to the gym but... whatever. Drove in again yesterday after getting some blood work done. And then Doug drove me in today.

It is nice to get dropped off door to door.

But. Our piece of shit pickup truck is designed for the short runs: to the market; to the bike shop.

Not for three straight days of driving into The Big City.

On the way home today, the check engine light came on. So we both looked at each other with the "you gotta be shitting me expression" and laughed. It had been running flawlessly for for weeks. Doug had replaced some gasket thing in the transmission fluid and did a whole bunch of work. Basically taking his phone out to the truck, watching "how to" videos, and getting things done.

Typical Doug and Chris fashion here, kids.

So there we were, in the Tip O'Neill Tunnel, not moving. I was worried that the entire thing is going to explode. And we'd be "those people" on the news or something.

We made it up Route 1 to the very same gas station that let us leave the Volvo there when it died in a blizzard in December. Doug checked the oil and it was super fine. He added some transmission fluid, thinking that may be the problem.

No dice - the light didn't turn off. But it didn't turn red. So we just looked at each other and went onward.

Somewhere about 10 miles from home Mr. Springsteen came on the old radio. The drum intro rolling into "Born To Run"  made me start to laugh. Doug dislikes Springsteen while I do enjoy him greatly.

in the day we sweat it out on the streets...

How amazingly perfect. Our "runaway American Dream," in a Dodge Pickup Truck. I would rather be "Barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a Dodge drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain," but there ... there we were.

It's a death trap! It's a suicide rap!

We were singing at the top of our lungs, windows down, my hair EVERYWHERE, running up the highway (jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive!) laughing and singing. We counted the "ONE TWO THREE FOUR!" Doug was doing 78mph, and the truck was just rocking along. 

We got home. The truck is in the driveway. The car is getting towed to the shop tomorrow and Doug may see if our mechanic can find out what the check engine light thing is.

And we had a moment. One of those Doug and Chris moments. One of those very special moments.

God, may they never stop. Well, may the stupid cars exploding all over the place stop - but the moments that make us Doug and Chris .... let's keep them going.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Welcome to the Working Week

So, I started my job this week.

I am in way over my head. The girl who is training me tells me every day how impressed she is with how fast I'm "getting it" with their tools and platforms.

In the past three days there have been a lot of meetings I have sat in and I have no idea what they're talking about. I'm exposed to terms like scrum, scrum master, agile, vigilante, spike, sprint, grooming and my favorite "ingested into the API." 

Within this group, they build all their own software tools. So there is our side and the developer side. It is kind of unique because it is a small office. I talked to a friend who said that there is no reason for me to sit in Dev meetings, but I think that the lines of communication between training and support (our group) and product ownership/development (their group) is really strong here because we go to these meetings. We talk to the users, we tell the dev guys, they fix the things. They add the features. We report back to the users. We then train them on the changes. 

Seems to work for them. Another friend said "you don't need to know what scrum is, you just need to know how they do it in your office and be aware that when you move somewhere else that they scrum totally different."

And each time they say "scrum" I giggle to myself and think "scum."

Each of the people I've met are really cool. Our entire team is comprised of women, and that's new to me. I'm used to a mixed bag or mostly guys.  Fridays at 4 is beer time. Yesterday one of the dev guys supplied the beer from the tiny little micro brewer in our neighborhood and I told them about Shenanigans with Dave. They were fascinated by Dave's story, and our adventures in beer and food. It was a lot of fun to talk about all the different craft breweries we've gone to.

That's what I do - bond over beer or football.

I do feel that it is a good match though, even if I don't speak the language. I probably should start planning ahead and bringing my lunch instead of spending 11 bucks on food daily. Except for Thursdays when my favorite food truck is parked at the end of my street. Mmmmmm.

Bittersweet

This morning I'm looking at the facebooks and seeing tons of graduation photos.

This would have been graduation time for Jess, had she not withdrawn from school after, what Ben Folds sings, "three sad semesters, cost me only 15 grand."

She made the decision she had to make for reasons known to me and some that remain unknown still.

God knows she's a big help being here in the house and in our lives. But I feel this "failure to launch" kind of thing going on in life with her.

Maybe not a full failure to launch but more of a "yeah, we had a launch and then got scared about something in the plane so we turned around and landed carefully and TSA removed the threat from the cabin but now we're not gonna launch again" thing.

I suppose it is better than "we had a launch and then we crashed and burned horribly in a field somewhere in the middle of nowhere."

I'm looking at the newsfeed and seeing all these photos of kids she graduated high school with, wearing those caps and gowns, walking up to podiums, smiling with their parents. There are the kids of my friends from high school or college, kids I don't know, all diplomaed and graduated up.

It is an instant news flood, it is a stab to the heart each time I see one of their smiling faces and I think of how sad and dissatisfied with the universe my kid is.

This feeling didn't hurt me with all the prom pictures, or even some of the wedding pictures that I've seen (yes, kids who graduated with my daughter and AFTER my daughter are getting married). The feeling I get when I see the prom pictures isn't the same - because Jess chose a different path with prom too, but it was one that brought her joy and fun.

Instead of "wasting money on prom" listening to "songs that make her want to stab her eardrums out" she had "Pie Prom" for a couple of years. Her friends came over and they baked pies. Pies are so much cooler, and you can buy expensive high-end ingredients and still only pay a fraction of the cost that the ticket, the dress, the suit, the flowers and all that crap would cost. And you get to listen to music you want to listen to, and you get to eat pie.

Pie prom was a successful, quirky, Jess perfect alternative to the stupidity of Prom.

But she hasn't yet discovered the Jess perfect alternative to the stupidity of a Bachelor's Degree. Instead she's home, watching anime, running the dishwasher, and not making successful real adult forays out into the world.

I know, I know. Everyone runs on their own life schedule. I've recognized the "different life path" thing even for myself. It took me six years to get my undergraduate degree. You have to want it. You have to say "this is my goal, I will work towards it, I will take time off and work three part time jobs and cry because I'm exhausted" and want to get it.

For Jess, I have no idea what she wants. And I don't think she knows what she wants. And it is frustrating.

I kind of feel like someday she'll figure something out. She's interviewing for jobs. She interviewed for two part time jobs this week that if she gets them she'll be working more than full time hours. I think that if she gets to that point she'll get more confident and will start to figure out what she wants to do.

And maybe someday she'll achieve that cap and gown moment, and not wear it, not walk across a stage, not shake hands with some college president she doesn't know but will have a Pie Commencement instead.

In the meantime... I'll settle for seeing "my kids" get their degrees and send them love and congratulations from the couch.