Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Cu-SeeMe problems; new neighbors

The above is what we expected to experience. But that is not at all what we got. "Well. Isn't that special?" I'm totally going to come off like the Church Lady in this entry. But let me tell you what -- I saw stuff today I didn't plan on seeing. Let me 'splain.

I just got home from my meeting down at the college. We did a test run of Cu-SeeMe on the lab computers. A major part of Professor MF's class is having student interact in cyberspace, as if they were sitting right next to one another. There aren't many products out there that we can see, so we contacted these guys. Initially they were all into helping us. Then they said it would cost us some dosh to set up a private room.

We don't have the money to shell out for it... in fact, most of the work I've done has been done unpaid. I just want to see it all happen. So the tech guy, I'll call him Mr. CuSeeMe, suggested to us that we run a public room and have someone serve as gatekeeper, kicking people out. I guess that will be my job. Sounded reasonable.

Professor MF, W. the LabLady and her assistant L. and I met. They got the cameras installed, downloaded the Cu-SeeMe, and we set up a public room.

All four of us were in there, the audio delay to the streaming video was annoying the hell out of me, but whatever -- Professor MF really wants it all to work. So she wasn't as annoyed by it as I was.

People were trying to join our room, as we anticipated. I was on the ready. As the room creator, I had the opportunity to zap or accept new entrants to the room. I was zapping people out left and right, but after about a half hour, zapping began to fail.

Suddenly, "Dieters" joins the room, and has his ... unit ... ahem... in his hands... I zapped him and zapped him, finally sent him a text message that told him to get the fuck out post haste because this was a G rated room and I was notifying CuSeeMe staff right there and then.

He left quickly.

Then, Magdalena15 got in the room. She and her vagina. Oh boy. She had the camera right up to it, was on her knees, and then... Dieters must have come over for a visit because suddenly there was a cock... right ... there entering the very special shaved space that was Magdalena15. Well isn't THAT special...???

Who's penis is that? Could it be... SATAN'S?!!??

And like a bunch of little schoolgirls, We all started screaming.

All four of us. In a mix of hysterics, disgust, fear, revulsion... and I started hitting the zap button as quickly as I could.

Who goes into a G rated discussion group and gets it going on doggie style with a web cam held in one hand? Obviously Magdalena15. And her friend Dieters.

Zapping wasn't doing it for us. She wouldn't go away. We minimized her window after the initial shock wore off just to get her off the screen so we could focus on what we needed to get done.

Still more people were trying to "come" into our room. I was zapping people left and right. L. got into a discussion with some guy on text messaging, who had no shirt on (he was ready to go but wanted to talk first, I guess) and she was laughing her ass off. I kept zapping him and yelling at her. Finally I zapped her.

We had a hell of a good laugh.

She came back in, we all made jokes repeatedly about these people "coming" into our interpersonal communication class. And were they ever giving new meaning to Interpersonal Communications. We made jokes about people putting their slots in one of our available slots (only 12 screens are visible at a time)...

We laughed ourselves silly.

Good God. I lead a crazy life, don't I? Never a quiet moment. And Professor MF kept saying "remember, this isn't just us looking at porno. This is for EDUCATION's sake. For the higher mind..."

And for the naked ass!

We laughed some more.

As I predicted, Geoff came home from school today thinking "the girls" would be next door and he would be able to go play with them. Our new neighbors are already moving in. They are from Salem, moved out here after selling their 2 family house for a ton of money. They moved from a 6 room apartment to an 11 room single family with 4 acres of land for 325,000. They are very happy. I think they paid too much, but if they made a killing on their place in Salem, they're all set.

She told me they're having a kegger next weekend. We're SO invited. Very different than the neighbors who just left this morning. They seem really wicked cool, but also a little wild. She's got a huge tattoo around her bellybutton... and had her white Tshirt tied up in a big knot to show it. I totally think my upstairs tenant and the dad are going to gel. He likes motor bikes and snowmobiling, and that's what Pete is all about. So it may be a great match for us. She's wicked friendly, they're over there moving in and drinkin' beers.

They have 2 little girls. One is 5. Same age as V., only Geoff is pissed to hell that she "stole V.'s house and kidnapped her." He is convinced that they are usurpers. I told him repeatedly that V. and E. were moving and would be gone when he got home. He was all about ignoring me. I'm some sort of liar.

Pile upon that the fact that Dan and Honey came and took Tiger and Buddy home. Voof. He's pissed.

Jessica has been over the neighbor's with her friend Megan since getting home from school. They are playing with the little girls, E. and G., and are having a blast... so Geoff is now out playing with them. I think he may warm up to E. eventually.

In the meantime, I miss V. I didn't think I would care that much, but meeting the new people makes me miss our little British Queen. The way she'd boss Geoff around. Her lisp. Her big grey eyes. Her excited way of telling me whatever little detail of some thing that she could any chance possible. The way she would call between the 7 foot tall fence to me "Mrs. Geiger! Mrs. Geiger! Can Geoff come play?"

I cried on my way down to my meeting with Professor MF. I needed a reason. Sometimes you just do.

Well, it's almost 6pm. Dinner should be made. Doug is napping. I'm working for cateringman tomorrow. I sent an email to Mr. CuSeeMe to ask him what we can possibly do to prevent mulitple penii and vaginii from "coming" into our public room... hopefully I'll hear back from him.

Don't people have anything better to do in the middle of the day on a Tuesday? Jebus

moving day for the neighbors

My neighbors are moving.

And I'm not heartbroken or sad about it. To the largest extent. We didn't start out on good footing with one another. They put a big fence up between our houses that screamed "Don't come over here" to us in a big way. Whether or not they intended that, in two years we've spent hardly any time with them.

Not a big deal. It's okay. Sometimes neighbors just don't gel. Just because you live next door to one another doesn't mean you're destined to be best friends. I didn't expect to become best friends with them. And my expectations certainly were met. I was friendly with them... and they have two lovely little girls who got along well with my kids.

And they'll be gone for good by the time I get back from taking Geoff to school. He doesn't realize they are leaving, or, refuses to accept it. The girls came over this morning to say goodbye, and he was playing school and told them to sit down and learn that two and two is four. I gave V., the oldest one, a copy of a picture Geoff painted last week because she saw it on the table and liked it so much.

I put our address on the back and told her to send us a Christmas card. I will be surprised if I get one.

A few weeks ago, when Michael On Wheels visited, the girls came over to play. They were curious about Michael, and it turned into an all day play fest. It was fun. I wish we'd had more days like that.

During that play fest, V. married Geoff in a lovely backyard ceremony conducted by Jessica. They came tearing in the house yelling "We got married! We got married! We're going on our honeymoon!!!" and they ran into Geoff's room and slammed the door.

Worried that V. might know more about what happens on an actual for real honeymoon than Geoff knows, I opened the door to look in. They were jumping on the bed.

"What are you guys doing?"

"We're on our honeymoon, Mrs. G"

"Really? Are you doing anything special?"

"Yeah! This is it! This is what you do on a honeymoon!"

She got that right. You run into a room and jump up and down on a bed. Carry on! Keep dressed. Have a nice time!

She bosses Geoff around as if she were really his wife. We looked out into the back yard later that day and he was reposed upon his back, hands folded behind his head, looking at the sky while she lectured him, wagging a finger for added impact.

Yup. That's what it would be like if they were 20 years older and married.

So my "daughter in law" and her little sister are going away. We'll see if we hear from them again. The girls came over to say goodbye before the bus came. Took a few pictures, just so I'll remember them.

Yesterday was Geoff's first day of school. The first official day of Kindergarten. It felt like any other day dropping him off at the preK/K where he is going. I guess not seeing him off on a bus makes it seem so routine. He has the same teacher he had when he was 3, but only for the next month. His actual teacher is out on medical leave and will be back in September. So Ms. Sandi will be his guide. She said he had a great day yesterday, and it all sounded like fun. He seemed really happy but very tired when I brought him home. He was in bed by 8:30.... 9:00ish.

Jessica starts today. She agreed to wear a skirt. I discovered that she hates dresses, but for some reason loves skirts. So... I'll be buying her skirts for dressing up occasions in life. When we went school shopping she picked out this lovely black canvas skirt which goes almost floor length, and has a slit up the front to her knees. We bought a nice red short sleeved dressy T shirt, and she wore her hair up in a black scrunchie. She looked so grown up. I was brushing her hair for the ponytail, and she had on her shoes and is just about the same height I am in my bare feet. It almost made me cry.

We fussed with her hair and put a necklace on her, and she almost missed the bus. She was walking out the front door and I was about to take her picture when the bus pulled up and honked. She started running for it, and I offered to drive her, but she said she'd make it.

She did. She waved to me as the bus drove past. I could have taken her picture then, but just watched her instead. One year left of elementary school for her, then she's off to middle school, up an hour earlier, and home an hour earlier. I think it's wrong that middle school and high school start so early and the kids get home so early. Gives them plenty of non-parent time to get themselves in trouble.

Hopefully we won't have to worry about that with either one of these kids.

So I've got to get Geoff out the door. The benefit of him going to this school is the extended day. Doug picks him up around 3:45, and school starts at 9:30 but he could always come earlier if I get a full time job. The bummer is I have to drive him. But it gets me up and out the door.

Anyway -- that's all for now. Dan picks the dogs up tonight, I have a meeting down the college that I have to do work for this morning, so this is the muppet update from me until perhaps Thursday.

Enjoy your day.

Friday, August 23, 2002

Almost caught up... Bottlerocket Review

I am almost all the way caught up with Professor MF work, and have some serious catching up to do for Professor CM, but all told -- it could be worse. I'm feeling confident and healthy for the first time in days. Yesterday morning I got up at 7 and worked until 10 on her (MF) site, so that when we had our phone meeting I had a ton of content for her. Tuesday we are meeting in person and I want to have all the rest of the work completed.

I think I can do it. In between working for cateringman, dog sitting Tiger and Buddy, getting the kids ready for school... yeah. I can do it. No sweat.

Speaking of kids ready for school, we accidentally missed open house for Geoff last night. I got home from cateringman's at about 4:30, showered, we chatted, Doug cooked. Next thing I knew was he said to me "Isn't tonight Geoff's open house?" !!!

uh, yeah. I grabbed the flyer off the fridge. 4:30 - 6:30. We missed it. So I have to call his teacher and make sure she can make time to meet with me next week.

Sigh. I feel like I suck at being a parent. I mean, how hard is it -- you remember to make time to GO somewhere that you know about. Duh.

It's like leaving pillows in a hotel. What is WRONG with my brain lately that I can't remember anything (I have CRS disease).

Speaking of CRS, (my entry today will be entirely comprised of segues in "Speaking of..." form) Scott showed us "Bottle Rocket" when we were at his house... we'd never seen all of it.

I really enjoyed it... I was particularly stunned by how YOUNG Luke Wilson looked. He could play Scott Stapp in the Creed Made For TV Movie with his hair like that.

And I had no idea that James Caan, huge big important film actor James Caan, was in this little, independent very funny movie. And another couple of surprises for me were that Mark Mothersbaugh (of Devo fame, and lately of ... Rugrats Nickelodeon TV theme music fame among other things) did the score, and James L. Brooks was the executive producer. You may recognize the name from oh... The Simpsons.


How did Wes Anderson start off this good. And just keep getting better? Rushmore... Amazing movie. Tennenbaums... not quite as good as Rushmore in my opinion but one of the better movies that came out that year (plus my pal Ben Stiller is so funny).

Parts of Bottle Rocket were painful for me to watch. Dignan (Owen Wilson) was particularly hard for me to watch because for some reason all I kept thinking to myself was "Please God, Don't Let Geoff Grow Up To Be Dignan."

He was just too intense, funny and scary all at once. I wanted to laugh, but I also wanted to have the kid committed. It's a great movie with a weird plot twist, memorable characters and funny lines that stick in your head for good.

Go rent it. It's worth it.

Alright. What else is new. Doug just went out to go shopping for clothes for the school year. I am taking Jessie out tonight. I think Geoff is all set for a while yet, but need to completely rehaul his room/find all his clothing strewn about the house. I have laundry to do like crazy. I am working every day for the forseeable future for cateringman because his chief excellent dude Chris (aka Max Power) is going to be teaching in Lawrence this fall. He took his teacher test for the state of Massachusetts and has provisional certification to go ahead and get a job while he waits for the results. He knows he passed so he's got a full time job this fall. Cateringman told me he can keep me working almost every day through September... he's going to be swampped without Chris there. So I'm going to take him up on it and work as much as I can.

Tiger and Buddy are visiting us for a couple of days. They didn't sleep too well last night. They were up and pacing and making noise every couple of hours. At 1am Buddy started barking frantically and there was nothing to bark at. Tiger kept getting on and off our bed. Kinger slept the whole night through. I hope they do better tonight... that last night was just a big exciting night for them. We shall see.

Geoff has taken to running around the house in his socks. Which isn't good. Twice yesterday he wiped out (even though I told him repeatedly to take the socks off...) and the second time he cut his mouth and banged his forehead on the hardwood floor. We told him a million times... but he chose not to listen.

I told him to repeat after me: "Bad things happen when I don't listen. Bad things happen when I don't listen..." When will it sink in?

He scared the crap out of me, because when he wiped out that second time I heard a crack. I thought it was his cheek bone, his forehead skill bones, a tooth... Doug thinks it was the hardwood floor, that one of the strips of hardwood just made a crack sound. Geoff isn't showing any signs of broken facial bones or trauma. All his teeth are there. But I swear that boy is going to give me heart failure before Christmas. Damn!

Today -- he's got socks on. He came up to me and said "I have socks on my feet, but I'm walking very very slowly so I don't fall down." I told him that it would be better if he put on his no-skid slippers or go barefoot. But he assures me he'll be fine. And he is walking very gingerly around the house. No tearing ass from room to room for him today. Funny. Perhaps he is learning? I just wish that he'd do it the way I tell him to do it instead of try and convince himself (and me) that he's doing well.

Is it going to be this way when he's like 15, 20? Is he going to always have to be right, even if he comes close to being proven quite wrong just so he can do it his way? Oy. Three more grey hairs just sprouted.

Alright. Off to dishes and laundry. The dogs are all wiped out sleeping -- Doug wore them out this morning and their long night of pacing furiously has them tuckered. I'm tired too. I may catch a nap if I can...

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Procrastination is my middle name...

No it isn't. Bet you don't know what it is... some of you do. Some of you would laugh your asses off if you knew. Okay. I'll tell you.

It's Louise.

Yeah. My middle name is Louise. Thanks Mom! Couldn't be something pretty, could it? Has to be something that Doug can call me "Weezie" with once in a while. He has done that since the day he found out the L didn't stand for Lollipop in my monogram. Louise. Flibbity Floo! Hurrah for me.

Anyway. I slept in. Not really sleeping mind you, with a puppy and a big dog rolling around in my bed trying to get the most love they could get from me. I caught up on my journal reading. And I'm sort of dragging my big assed size 10 feet on getting work done today. It is already 3:30pm. I have a 10am phone meeting with Professor MF tomorrow to finalize her site and I still have about 10 hours worth of work to do, damnit! I suck.

All that will change. I plan on working tonight... I work better under pressure. So Procrastination isn't my middle name, it's Danger.

Tess survived her oral surgery... poor thing. Before I left the mail came and in it was a box from her out there in Alaska filled with picture postcards of her city and dog treats for my dogs. Now how cool is that y'all? Get over there and give the girl some love.

What cookie? Oh, the brown mark there? Nah. There was no cookie there. Burp.

Chad and Remi, the expectant parents of twin boys there in South Carolina, had a scare last week. Remi got put into the hospital for 3 days in the middle of the week, she's in her 28th week and is 80% effaced... so she's on full bedrest a month earlier than planned.

The boys, aka Slash and The Bus to me and Doug, are "due" in December. They will most likely make it to November.

So please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Send good mojo. Lift 'em up. And I know how crummy Remi must feel. Having spent a month in hospital on bedrest and an additional 2 weeks cooped up at home alone and on strict orders not to get out of bed, it can become overwhelmingly depressing. So please pray for her to have an easy go of it spiritually and emotionally. And mentally.

After June's loss of baby Ryan, I'm keen to have another happy baby story shine on these pages. My buddy Sean's baby is doing well, and another buddy Sean in Chicago just welcomed his baby on July 30th... so there are happy baby stories out there. I want to keep 'em coming though.

Did I mention my buddy Dan and his wife are expecting? They're the ones who got married in November of last year. They are due in mid October... they didn't wait long. I guess Mrs. Dan felt they had lived together long enough, the marriage was a month old -- let's have a baby! They know they're having a boy, not sure of the name yet (or jokingly "Dan, has she told you what the baby's name is yet???").

My "baby" who claims he is not a baby, is currently playing a video game and singing a song from "Veggie Tales." Are you familiar with Veggie Tales? Essentially, it is a series of christian children's videos that are hysterically funny. So funny in fact that they make me pee. No lie.

Veggie Tales isn't your usual evangelical bible thumping treacle. It's all computer animated, and very intelligent, very funny stuff. There are little vignettes in the middle of the videos called "Silly songs with Larry," and they are... hyper silly. Geoff is singing the 'Cheeseburger Song,' which is a song from "Madame Blueberry," a retelling of "Madame Bovary," at the top of his lungs. Larry doesn't sing it... Mr. Lunt does, while Larry is sent on hiatus so the series can have a more sophisticated vignette segment called "Love Songs with Mr. Lunt."

It's one of my favorites. And he sings it to me when I'm in the kitchen. Making Cheeseburgers. If you have kids, or know someone with kids, these videos are fabulous object lessons based on stories from the bible and literature, and there are more than one nods to Monty Python throughout the series (my favorite being the French Peas in "Josh and the Big Wall," when they tell Joshua and the Israelites to "Go Away," a la the french guard in "Holy Grail...").

In other more boring non-baby, non-singing animated vegetable news, I am trying to convince someone I know very well to start a blog. Single, sassy and lookin' for booty is her theme. She's got some funny assed stories, and would have to remain completely anonymous in order to put up what she wants to say, but I guarandamntee it'd be a good read.

Like I have nothing better to do than to encourage others to become exhibitionists with their lives, and web journaling addicts. I so need a 12-step program to get me out of this journaling thing.


Anyway. I really only wanted to post a picture of Jack enjoying the Dog Treats from Tess. I have to get to work, and I have to go to Walmart to get damn pillows (didn't go last night, ended up not having enough time in the day so we slept pillowless again. Not gonna happen tonight though!). I need to assess what the kids have for school clothes, school starts a week from today. I can't believe it. So much to do...

Wish there was something more interesting to post. But I need to be web design queen for someone other than myself now. So I'll chat later.

Monday, August 19, 2002

Roadtrip Report. Chicago will never be the same...

Oh my...

In a nutshell, it was from here to Chicago and back in 9 days, a station wagon, a little boy with ADD, my period in the middle of the zoo (ugh), pillows left at a seedy motel in Ontario, and the strong temptation at times to throw myself in front of a train or off the edge into Niagara Falls, and I've survived.

It was a great vacation.

Don't get me wrong by that little paragraph of whining. I had a great time. But I'm feeling that I don't want to be in a car for long stretches of time anytime soon.

We left on Saturday after I got out of bed early and worked on Professor MF's website for three and a half hours. I was making amazing strides, but there was work to be done. I had everything packed, Doug took Jack to the kennel for boarding, I did the dishes, we watered the garden, and we hit the road by 12:30. We got to the homestead at around 1am, and spent Saturday, Sunday and Monday at Doug's parents.

We made two trips to the mall to get Geoff's glasses fixed, the lens keeps popping out and we can't get it to stay. It happened again in Canada and we just didn't bother going to find a lenscrafters. I think I have to go buy an new pair.

Anyway, we bought toys at the mall... including a very cool air pump plane which gave us hours of entertainment. We also got to hang out with Doug's sister and her husband and their little girl who is about 17 months old I guess. She's a doll.

My boys get ready to play...
After the maiden voyage
The neighbor's garage... not the best place to have your plane land!
Elyse. She looks like her daddy.

There was an amazing thunderstorm on Monday afternoon that shook the house and caused great sheets of rain to fall, first rain since before July 4th I guess. The lawns were all dried straw and gardens were in death throes. It made me long for my lovely green yard and ripening tomatoes and big full hydrangea bushes.

We left western PA and had breakfast with Doug's grandmother in Eastern Ohio. She was tickled to see us. She gets such a kick out of the kids, and gave them their Christmas presents early that way she doesn't have to ship them. I think she thinks she's going to die. I hugged her and told her I would see her soon, and she started crying. "I don't know if I'll be around long enough to see you again, you are so far away." Guilt. Sadness. Reality.

I hugged her and kissed her on the top of her head (she's pretty short) and told her to hang tough, that I'd see her again. I mean really... way to break my heart grandma. We left there around 1pm and made it to Chicago by 9pm their time. A little lost and wandering, we called from a payphone in the pouring rain because I'd left the directions home. The GPS got us within a mile of the house, but put us way up north of their house on their street. They live in the 3600 block, and we were in the 6700 block. Eventually though we found ourselves in Down Town Scottsville and hanging with the Man, the Myth, the Legend himself.

Good God. I'm in CHICAGO!!! Jebus! It amazed me. Their apartment is so nice, three bedrooms, dining room, huge bathroom... beautiful built in hutch and fireplace and bookshelves... I had apartment envy. It's a gorgeous building, and so close to cool stuff in the city. Drool. Drool. Envy. Scott and S were lovely hosts to us, and we simply loved visiting. I can't believe I don't see that guy every day anymore. It hasn't been years since the days where we hung out all the time, but it feels like it was just a few months ago. My heart was silently breaking as I walked around Niagara Falls a few days later and I pined for him.

Oh yes, I pined.

Anyway, our first full day there we went to the Brookfield Zoo. Scott gets the official "surrogate uncle of the year award" for actually putting up with my kids and spending 6 ungodly hours at a zoo. When he could have been doing anything else on earth. So he wins. All you other surrogate uncles out there -- you've got nothing.

We got a real kick out of the baboon island... if Geoff had been more compliant we could have spent all day there. We were trying to figure out whether or not baboon's asses hurt (they sure do look like they do!) and the baboons were having turf wars on baboon island... there were four of them who were obviously paired off as teams and they were having these screeching biting fights which caused all the females to run and hide.

Scott and I had fun doing crazy stuff in the kids play area, we pretended to be animal doctors in a MASH kind of unit, Scott pretending to be the Vet from the Simpsons. We got some kids going and acting all crazy. Including my kids. See below.

The kid's play area of the zoo was the best ever. I put on a lemur suit (a vest with a lemur tail) and went into the pretend to be a lemur area. The kids there didn't think I was right, but they eventually warmed up. On my way out I tried to hand my lemur suit to another mom and said "wanna be a lemur?" and she gave me "the look" which said "what are you fucking out of your fat mind?!" and said "uh, no."

Loosen up lady. Be a lemur. Unfortunately Doug didn't get a picture of me lemuring. It was funny as all hell. He laughed and laughed at me. I don't get that kind of reaction from him too often, where he isn't mocking me. He laughed towards me instead of at me.

Facepainting, she asked for a bear paw. Best I could do.
Scott is amazed at Geoff's care for the plants in the botany room.
Geoff was diligent... he squirt bottle watered every single plant in the room. Most of the kids ran around squirting each other. He took good care. Will make a great gardener some day...
Jessie with one of the millions of large polar bears around the zoo. There was a red, white and blue one. She liked this sea creature themed one.
Geoff the Junior Zookeeper. Those were nice shirts. He looks the role...
Yup. The box says "Poop." In the junior zookeeper area, there were many boxes, with fake food for the fake animals. And fake poop to clean up with the broom.
Dr. Geoff carefully inserts body parts back into an alligator.
"Let's see here.... is this his heart or his spleen?"
"Ah, yes. Ms. Tiger. All the lady tigers are getting lypo these days. Here, let me take a little unsightly patch of fat off your shoulder..."
The real thing. The lion exhibit has a cubby with a glass wall where you can see the lion up very VERY close. He was snoozing.

Anyway, right after that I got my period... talk about a buzzkill. It was five days early, I was so unprepared for such an event, and all that walking around and pretending to swing from vines must have brought it on. I got really crampy and tired that night, and slept like crap.

Which made the next day a challenge.

We went down to the Shedd Aquarium on Thursday, where Geoff was a holy horror and Jessica gleefully wandered off and did her marine biology thing. She's incredibly into sea creatures and could spend a thousand billion hours in an aquarium.

On the way into town, we noticed jet planes zooming in and out of the city, between the buildings, all over the place. Scott recalled that the air and water show was running that weekend upcoming, and it being a couple days away the jet planes were practicing. We got to the aquarium, and you wouldn't even hear the damn things and they'd be right on top of you, zooming right over your head close enough to see the friggin pilots in the cockpits. I tried to take a good picture... but they were so damn fast. This was the best I could do.

I was already a nervy mess from getting my period, but seeing jet fighter planes zooming around a city sort of put me ill at ease. I was scared for the first time in months. I rode in the back seat watching for them, and thinking that if I didn't have someone in the car with me who knew what was going on, I'd probably be bricking.

Scott and I talked about how living in the city makes him sort of nervous. I told him that I'd be sick to my stomach daily.

Jessica was pissed because we didn't go downstairs to the Oceanarium area, but we knew we wouldn't have enough time to see everything, and we'd spent 8 hours at the zoo the day before and we were non-humanoid creatured out. The benefit of going down to the lower level is, of course, to sit and look at the view of Chicago, which you can get by walking around on the cement boardwalk behind the building... Doug and I didn't really mind skipping the beluga whales, but her nose was out of joint. Geoff, as I mentioned, was a complete nightmare. He fought with Doug, screamed, tried to bite us... it was scary. Eventually he got in control, but it was not so a good time. That's when throwing myself in front of a train was looking mighty tasty.

Scott, Jessie, Doug and Geoff walking along Lake Michigan towards the Aquarium from the Planetarium.
Us in front of a nice view of the windy apple.

We went out for Thai food that night, to hook up with Doug's friend Lee from High School, only he was in one restaurant and we were in another.


So I didn't get to see him and meet the fiancée. I haven't seen him since about 1995 or 1996, when we lived in Lynn, before we moved up here. That was his last visit to the Boston Area. He's getting married in October, and we're not sure if just Doug will go or we'll both go -- how will we swing it? Who can we ditch the kids on? Hmmm... that's a topic for another day.

We went to the Sears Tower Skydeck after breakfast on the last day we were there. It was a beautiful view, an overcast day, but that meant no squinting and no blinding glares. Chicago is such a beautiful city. I could live there. Totally. The traffic sucked, but honestly, where doesn't it?

Scott getting hammy
Don't fall out the window, kids!
We were down there yesterday! Right there, at that round thingie
A view looking north...
From the ground, a quick shot that didn't betray me being a tourist.
Jessie is all urban and hip.

The funniest thing about the Sears tower was the ridiculous crap 10 minute movie they made us watch before we went up. We waited in line to buy tickets, then waited in line to be shuttled like cows into a boxcar theatre where they showed this 10 minute infomercial of how Chicago used to be all farms and stuff, then trains came and it changed everything... then some guys played blues music and a big building or two got built.

Scott and I both were thinking we were getting put in a room to be euthanized.

Actually, the movie was so boring I was thinking that maybe it was the precursor to the mass drowning or gassing that we were going to suffer through, we'd all be stunned and sedated from the boring movie so fighting the actual method of death wouldn't happen. It would have been a relief...

I mean seriously, I don't want to be infomercialed everywhere I go, damnit! I want to go up to the top of the damn building and look out a window here, people! Why put me in this room and "entertain" me with this crap when I could be talking to my friend in line and READING about the architecture and looking at cool assed old pictures?

It took us forever to get up there, then we had to wait in line to come down.

Doug had a great theory -- they should make it so that admission is FREE if you walk all the way up and all the way down. Your calves would hurt, but you wouldn't have to pay to stand in a room with a million other sweaty, tired tourists watching a movie.

The views at the top were splendid... and it was funny to hear all the different people talking about the city. Australians were in the house in droves. They were a riot.

We left Down Town Scottsville and headed east, driving to Port Huron, MI. We got there in less than 7 hours. The middle of Michigan is kind of flat and boring... I had hoped it would be all woodsy and thick, like from the pictures I had in my mind from the Hemingway biographies I'd read. But that's up north in Horton Bay (I called it Horton's Bay once and Ms. Shelley corrected my geographically challenged ass right quick like).

We chose to go to Port Huron because Detroit is the bigger city and the more popular crossing point. We spent the night at a decent motel with a pool filled with chlorine and a little water, and slept very fitfully with the AC cranked to 50 degrees. There was frost on the doorknob when I opened the door in the morning.

And we left two brand spanking new pillows at that hotel (the ones I bought a couple weeks ago when Doug's folks came to visit because we didn't have guest pillows. We decided to bring our own pillows traveling this time because it's always such a hassle to get the surly hotel front desk jerk to give you a second wafer thin pillow. As if the one damn crappy cotton ball they give you is enough to support a tired head and neck, and you asking makes you the friggin' princess and the pea.

So we just now realized we left the two yellow pillow case covered pillows in Port Huron. We're mentally defective.

I had totally stressed before leaving the house, insisting that we had to have our proper IDs or we would be screwed trying to enter Canada. It was a breeze. We got right in without any eye contact from the border guard. Okay... that was odd and I was sort of disappointed.

We made reservations to stay in Niagara Falls from the road in central Ontario, around London. Good thing we did too. The place was mobbed when we got there. The guy at the Info Centre (spelled it Canadian like, eh?) said that the past 9 nights every single room in town has been booked. He wasn't kidding. I've never seen that many people there. The hotel was a cheap and sleazy place called the Marco Polo, but it had an outdoor pool with little or no chemicals in it. The used some organic stuff, and it was much easier on the eyes. Geoff was a fiend in the water -- he swam for hours that night and the next morning.

This hotel also now owns three of our pillows. Two with matching white and brown cases and one with my favorite flannel case.

What the hell is wrong with us that we forget pillows when we travel?

Someone shoot me.

Anyway, back to our story. We spent that first afternoon looking at the falls and walking along the very crowded viewing area... and walking through an unbelievably crowded Clifton Hill. Niagara Falls is a great place to people watch. Every one from all over the planet comes there. It's somewhat affordable, the view is amazing. There's something for everyone... so it brings out the entire Indian family from Bombay and the Mennonite honeymooners from New Wilmington, PA.

The next morning we did the boardwalk down low after the falls but before the whirlpool. We'd never gone down there before. It was amazingly beautiful and scared the shit out of me at times. That water is so fast... I couldn't imagine falling in. Or my kids falling in. Meh. Nightmares.

My family, note the boy has to make a goofy face in pictures lately...
Doug has a tight grip on him...
There were a TON of these Mennonite girls and guys running around. They were all dressed EXACTLY the same, no variation. I told Doug that it must be the team uniform.
Jessie is silly. And not a Mennonite
Me, looking sunburned and quite tired.
Me and my new boyfriend, My baby's daddy. The alien from my encounter.
A motorcycle went by and Geoff didn't like it.
Again, Jessie is silly.
And it never fails. Everywhere I go. Something reminds me of CAL. A harmless tiny triceratops in a box filled with dinosaurs. And this one was all the way off by itself, away from the others. And all I could do was think of him.
Jessica leans over the railing at the boardwalk along the river...
A nice shot of the girl under the Whirlpool Bridge.
Daddy and Jessie examining the river...
Proof positive that once in a while my daughter is kind to my son. She held his hand and they walked together for all of a block.
Danger boy by the Danger sign...
My turn to be subjected to picture taking...

The best part about Canada is this:

Yes, that sign on that bus bench says "Dial A Beer."

My kinda country! Jessica spotted this and laughed, and I agreed. Dialing a beer delivery is damn funny. So I had to get a picture of it.

The WORST thing about where we stayed was the TV coverage. They claimed to have cable. We think they HAD a cable in a box, and that was the cable they had. There were 13 stations on the TV, most of which were like FRENCH, and we weren't even in the Frenchy part of Canada, so that baffled us. Luckily for my cranky self Doug took the kids out to get icecream and I got cleaned up and this was on TV:

That's right ladies and gentlemen, That's Tom Brady. They were showing the Patriots Pre-Season game. So I got to thoroughly enjoy some football while splathering myself with cucumber and ginseng body lotion and relaxing sans children. The Patriots sucked majorly, but at least it wasn't French TV.

We spent the afternoon goofing off, and on our way out of town to cross back into the USA we went to see the humongous floral clock at the far end of Niagara Falls.

What a gyp.

They touted this floral clock as being so cool. It was dumb. We thought so at least. We were punchy and silly at that point, so it really could have been wicked cool but we were up to mocking something.

Doug yelled out "I don't appreciate your ruse!" from "Clerks" (Kevin Smith fans will get the reference) and we laughed and laughed at ourselves. The stupid thing is a million miles away from anything else remotely interesting. I pity the poor bastard who stays on Clifton Hill and rides a bike out there in the 90 degree heat just to see that stupid thing.

We crossed over into the USA again without being asked to show ID, but the customs guy made eye contact with both of us. Doug almost wanted to kill me for giving one wiseass answer to one of his questions:

Customs Dude: "What is your nationality?"
Doug: "American."

Customs Dude: "And you?" [looking at me]

Me: "American."
Customs Dude: [eyes the children in the back] "What are you bringing back with you?"
Doug: "A couple of t-shirts."
Me: "Memories."
Customs Dude: "
Uh, you, smart asses pull over we're SO searching the CAR!" [radios for drug and bomb sniffing dogs].

But that last thing didn't happen. The guy didn't look amused though. It just kind of popped out. Sometimes I just can't help myself. Stupid things that I think are funny fly out of my face. I'm an ass.

We stopped at Virginia's house in upstate NY and met her husband and kids. It was a lovely visit. It is so funny to visit with someone you haven't laid eyes on since 1987 and feel like you saw them just last week. It was great to meet her husband (Doug was sort of embarrassed that I told him I think he looks like H.I. McDonough, if you know the reference...) and the kids had a blast playing together. Geoff and Andrew hit it off instantaneously, playing Toy Story with Andrew's Buzz Lightyear laser hand. Geoff talked about him for an hour after we left the house, and then passed out and slept all the way to Utica.
Heather smiling behind the suckie.
Jessie and Heather got along great. It was fun seeing Jessie play with a little one.
Andrew gives mamma Virginia a big hug in front of the blue house...
The two kindergarteners!

Virginia confessed to me that she owns a jogging stroller, mostly because her husband is so tall and those strollers work better for taller folk. Let me just say that I don't hate ALL people who own jogging strollers, my point was that this particular woman, using that particular item of yuppiedom was pissing me off fiercely in my last entry (return to it to read my bitchfest). I love Virginia... I doubt her husband would be a blonde jogging bimbo with a cell phone who doesn't look both ways when crossing the street. That woman did though and she incurred my wrath for that day.

We stopped for dinner and guestimated that it would take us at least another 4 hours to get home, it was already 8:30pm. We were tired. We were at a really nice restaurant called Jack Appleseeds, and they had Saranac IPA on draught. The food was delicious and filling. Before we knew it, we were checking into the Motel 6 across the street.

We moseyed home today after a fitful night's sleep and a morning of cartoons and reading in bed. We had a million pieces of mail. 957 email, of which 800 were offers to make Doug's penis bigger because I want it to be bigger and I'll leave him (according to the emails...) so I deleted them so as not to give him some sort of complex.

Our garden is beat to shit. Well, at least everything except the tomatoes. I guess it didn't rain once the whole time we were gone. I meant to tell Pete upstairs to water the flowers if he thought of it. The morning glories are growing up along the deck but the buds aren't opening. None of the sunflowers are open, but one is about 8 feet tall. The cherry tomatoes and the others are bursting out all over the garden. The squash and zucchini are dead. And the blue hydrangea? All but dead. I watered it liberally this evening and then let Geoff water himself liberally. I hope it rebounds. It was so pretty when we left.

Now it's nose to the grindstone to finish Professor MF's stuff and finish the two projects I have for Professor CM. We need a trip to the market and a trip to Walmart to get new pillows (cue Chris Farley pounding his forehead with the palm of his hand screaming "Stupid Stupid! STUPID!!!!!") Geoff has kindergarten open house on the 22nd. Jessica starts school a week from tomorrow. Then it is Labor Day. I wonder what we're doing that weekend???? Where's the summer gone?