Thursday, November 28, 2002

Turkey Day Travel Troubles. Redux

It never goes as planned, does it? It is 11:50 am and we are still here. But not for lack of trying.

Here's the story.

7:30am, Doug heads out to change the flat. Confident in his abilities and as always my hero, my champion, my knight in shining flannel, I wish him well with a smile and a sip of my coffee.

45 minutes later, after consulting the user's manual several times, he cannot get the spare tire to drop out of its nesting place under the truck. For the life of him. See, There's this long winchy thing, with a hooky thing, and you stick it in the holey space back there and turn it counter clockwise and it drops the spare.

Easy as pie.

Well then. Why won't it drop?

Doug used many colorful adjectives reminiscent of his plumbing escapades around Easter of this year. He came in the house, feeling dejected and stupid. "This should be easy. Why won't it work??"

We called to see if WalMart was open so we could obtain a patch kit. No dice. Nothing is open.

I called Dodge Roadside Assistance. We didn't want to really, because this is a simple thing, and we should be able to change our own damn tire. And it will take them hours and hours and hours to get here.


It was our only resort.

A very nice girl named Chantal took my information and called for a truck to come out... while I held for 15 minutes. Chantal came back and said "No one is available to come out to you unless it's for a tow. All you need is a tire change, and no one is going to come out for that on Thanksgiving."

Exqueeese me?

"Who cares if it is Thanksgiving. Millions of people are on the road, traveling, an NO one is available? What the hell kind of roadside assistance doesn't cover a tire change like this?" I start ranting.

"But you don't need a tow," says Chantal. "You just need someone to help you change a tire and no one is gonna come out if they aren't getting paid for a tow."


"If my keys were locked in the car, or the locks were frozen, 24/7/365 I'm supposed to be guaranteed help. This service is the equivalent of AAA. And you are telling me that no one will come out on a holiday unless they'll get paid the full price for a tow? What kind of service is this!?" I yelled.

I told her that I wasn't taking it out on her or anything, but that if it's Thanksgiving, Christmas, Ramadan or Yom Kippur, Sweetest Day, Remembrance Day, Boxing Day it shouldn't matter a tinker's dam if it's a tow, a flat, a locked key or any other fucking thing. The full Roadside Assistance Package knows no holiday. That's why it is called Roadside Assistance.

"Your car is in your driveway. You're not on the road." (yeah, bitch. I KNOW that. I'm SUPPOSED to be on the road!!!) "It's Thanksgiving, ma'am. I can call someone out of your area to come, but it would take a long time, and you'd have to pay out of pocket for that because it's not covered."

Wha wha whaaaa?????!!!!!!

I wanted to say "You fucking bitch!!! you ruined my fucking thanksgiving!!! fuck off and die in a hole on the side of the road. Bitch."

But instead...

"Thanks anyway... we'll think of something else, and if we can't think of something, well. We'll call back. Happy thanksgiving honey."

Doug and I brainstormed what to do... what to do. Doug went next door and asked our new neighbor Steve #3 (Steve #2 is Matt and Megan's dad, two doors up. Steve #1 is the dad of Jessie's best friend and good friend of ours) if he had a patch kit because Pete (our tenant) and HIS patch kit were at his mom's house elsewhere in the state.

He didn't have one, but he came over to try and get the spare tire to drop. He wasn't successful either. He wished us well.

Doug felt better knowing that a real gadget and truck kinda guy (Steve's a mason, has an ATV, a boat... he's the kind of guy who knows how to get the spare down, damnit!) couldn't do it either, his self esteem rose.

We called our other friends around the corner, Steve #1 and he didn't have a patch kit either, but he suggested we get the tire as full as we could and drive to the next town over where there's a Mobil Station that is a AAA call center, it's staffed all the time. They may be able to help us out.

Instead of just driving over there, I called first... just to be safe. The kid on the other end told me to bring it in, he'd have it patched in five minutes. Hot damn. Doug got the compressor from the garage and got the tire inflated. They had the tire patched in no time. While I was waiting I gave people directions (they were lost and late for Thanksgiving lunch). I filled the tank. We're on our way.

While I was waiting at the station the phone rang and it was for me (???). It was Doug. As I came to the phone I was afraid he was calling to tell me the house burned down, or that he shorted the electrical system out on the house and everyone got electrocuted and died, except for him.

He called to relate a story to me -- he blew a circuit breaker running the compressor, so he went to reset it. The breakers for the front part of the house are in Jessie's room, under the stairs that go up to the tenant's.

On top of her bureau, he found a shiny metal rod.

The shiny metal rod which goes on the end of the thingy that goes into the hole thingy to drop the spare.

"Did you bring this in the house???" He asks me.

Meanwhile, I'm standing there thankful that the house wasn't burned down. I am also very VERY thankful that I didn't make up a story about being a helpless widow with no man in my life when I got there!

I mean, had I made up that story, just for fun, and he called up the station identifying himself as MY husband, well! Would I have looked like some sort of jackass on wheels!

"I don't think I did. I don't know what it is..." I laughed about it and told him I'd be home right away. He showed it to me and I recognized it. When we bought the truck it was on the back seat. Geoff thought it was a "weapon" and brought it in the house to battle his invisible evil arch nemesis, Dr. Robotnick.

"It's Geoff's fault," I told Doug. I think I had put it on top of the bureau. I had NO idea what it went to, where he got it. What the hell its deal was. But now we know.

The tire is patched. Doug's in the shower. We ate a little lunch. We're leaving. It is now 12:15... and THIS, I assure you, is the penultimate entry from here about our Thanksgiving Departure.

Now... send us mojo/pray for us that nothing BAD happens while we're in transit, while we are there, or while we are in return transit. I don't think my good humor and kindness will be able to last

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Turkey Day Travel Troubles.

What a day, what a day.

You thought that by now I'd be sitting at Grandma Name is Shirley's house, suckin' on a Harpoon Winter Warmer, whining about the traffic and bragging on how good the truck handled the weather and the ride. Yeah, I thought so too.

But our ongoing bad luck with Thanksgiving Related Travel continues into this millenium. The day started out normally enough. Doug took Geoff to school for me because the Chevy has been experiencing technical difficulties (five years of faithful service and we're pretty sure she won't survive the winter, much less the week after we get back. Transmission, by the sounds of it... but we'll see, we'll see). So he took the truck, I had laundry and packing to do, and a ton of work for cateringman that I promised would be done prior to my leaving for Thanksgiving.

I had no idea how much time it was going to take me. Four hours! Holy cow! Anyway... I worked like mad, did dishes, and load after load of laundry. When Doug got home at about 12:30, I figured he'd be tired and want a nap before hitting the highway, so that would afford me at least another hour of work, and of dryer time.

At about 3:30 I decided it was high time I took the dogs to the kennel, as I figured they'd be closing early. I ran out to the truck, put them in the back seat (Kinger can't figure out how to get up into the bed, and I can't pick him up... Jack can't figure it out either, but at least I can lift him. I let them ride inside). I noticed we were just about out of gas, so I figured I'd swing by the gas station, drop off the dogs, and come home and load up Quimby for his big ride to Grandma's.

I pulled out into the street and could hear this horrible thumping noise. I couldn't figure out what it was as the truck was handling just fine. I turned the corner, parked in the Church parking lot, and got out to see what was up. We have a flat. A massive, huge, evil flat.

I couldn't leave the truck there with or without the dogs. So I drove home (four doors away). I cleaned the snow off the Chevy, and said a little prayer asking the Motor gods of Detroitus to get the Chevy at least all the way to the vet's office. I'd worry about what would come next when I got there.

(By the way -- we got about 7 inches of snow today. Par-tay!)

The car barely made it. I checked the dogs in and asked if someone there could spare a minute to drive me home, less than a mile away. One of the vet techs did just that... I didn't think the car would make it back. I got home at 4:30, found Doug awake and going through the mail, ready to go.

I filled him in (You want the good news or the bad news? Good news is the dogs are allllll set. Bad news is we're immobile!) He was none too happy. I noticed that there is a brass rivet in the tire, small... looks like something that got run over in the garage when I took Quimby in to get his sticker. So the sucker is flat, it's dark out, Doug and Pete (the tenant) start talking about getting Pete's patch kit out and getting it inflated. I said "Just put the SPARE on, it's a full sized SPARE, we have tire coverage for this... we'll deal with it later."

In short, it was pretty dark out, we opted to change the tire in the morning to the spare, we'll take it with us to NY to the Dodge dealership nearest my mom's house, and we'll have daylight for the trip. Doug is getting up early to do the tire, I'm making breakfast, then we're on our way. We'll be to grandma's at a respectable hour.

And if worse comes to worse, we'll call the Roadside Assistance and have THEM come change the tire. I'm sure Doug will be able to handle it. So we're home. I am done with ALLLLL the laundry, ALLLLL the cateringman stuff, the kids are watching Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh (which I SO don't get. What is the deal with that stupid show???) and Doug's asleep. Next time you hear from me it will be December. I won't get to post in the morning, and I'm sure none of you are reading anyway because you're all like ... settled in Drinkin' that Harpoon Winter Warmer.

Happy Thanksgiving. Be good, be safe. Here's some photo evidence of my yard in the snow today and Geoff at school.

some snowy tree action at the Way Out Inn, where the dogs did frolic, the wind didn't destroy the frosting, and this is the earliest REAL snow I remember here for quite a while.
Geoff does a Japanese Tourist/Sonic the Hedgehog Peace Sign thing in his Pilgrim hat
You can tell which vehicle left the yard today. Well, until I discovered the flat on Quimby and had to take the ole Chevy out...

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

My Thankful List

The alarm installation dude is here, putting the alarm and automatic car starter in on our truck. We wanted the alarm, because it knocks down some of our insurance and whatnot... but the dealership threw in the autostart at an incredible discount for us. How could we refuse. Imagine an icy cold morning, well, like Tomorrow, perhaps based on the weather we're anticipating... and sitting in the house while the truck warms itself up. Aaaaah. Or, conversely, when it is 10,000,000 degrees out next August and we have to all pile in the mother to go somewhere... the AC will have that truck fridge-compatible. Nice.

I'm psyched. I never NEEDED one of these. There's nothing wrong with schlepping out to start the car on a snowy day. But I'm a gadget fan, and I think the concept is cool.

Plus, it's just one more reason why it's so cool to be part of western culture. No camels, no barefoot farming, no sabre rattling anger at anyone -- just preheated monster trucks and a good cup of coffee in the morning. It's another reason why many cultures hate us. And to me -- that's just fine. They could have climbed out of the damn stoneage and invented the neon under carriage lights that pimp your truck out old school, but they didn't because they were too busy subjugating women and lobbing off the hands of people who steal loaves of bread. God Bless Technology and Western Culture and Inventiveness and our America. That's all I have to say.

What got me on that? Oh... it must be the intense feeling of joy knowing I have this pimped out truck. Word.

Which leads us to Thanksgiving. Most people celebrate Thanksgiving. There are some who do not because... well. They feel that Western Culture killed theirs, which pretty much is true. And that sometimes makes me feel bad. But 300 years later, here we find ourselves, sitting on top of a holiday that should cause all people no matter what their backgrounds are (colonialist, slave, revolutionary, victim) to stop and focus internally and find something to be thankful about.

And being thankful -- what does that MEAN? Thankful to whom or what? For me, you know I'm thankful to God our Creator, His Son our Savior, and His Spirit our Sustainer for providing me with individuals and situations which make my life worth living.

If you don't believe in someone/thing to be thankful toward, I suppose you are thankful to individuals and situations... thus bypassing the giver. Which is fine too. Because part of being thankful is thanking the humans around you (whom I believe are part of your life for a reason, sometimes bigger than you know or can fathom...)

So my second annual I Am Thankful For entry is as follows:

  • I am thankful that God is active in my life and the lives of many people around me, filling me with His sustaining spirit even when I'm on the verge of freaking out
  • I am thankful that I have a great husband who continues to make me laugh and smile
  • I am thankful for two healthy kids who make me laugh and smile
  • I am thankful for this house, the ability to pay for it, the tenants who live here and don't make our lives miserable. It isn't my dream house, and it has a ton of faults, but it is the best for me right now and I sure do love it
  • I am thankful for individual gifts of relationship with some unbelievably fabulous people, such as my sister, my mom, Aaron and Michelle, Gregg and Karry, Bonnie and Duncan, Wayne and Marcia and hundreds other people who wander in and out of my daily existence
  • I am thankful for CM and MF for keeping me busy and entertained, for their letters of recommendation, for their ongoing professional support and undying admiration of me. They are just what my ego needs sometimes and I love them for it. I am also thankful for the relationships with coworkers that I've maintained, such as with Deb (my old boss), with FL, with Rupa, Brian, Ben, and Dan, all of whom weigh more on the friend side now than the simple co-workers side
  • I am thankful for this year of being laid off, for the improvement in my son's academic and social development, for time that I wouldn't have had before, and for his wonderful teacher
  • I am thankful that Doug bought the GPS and that we started Team Screamapillar, Geocaching maniacs. We've had a lot of fun and a lot of sweat with it, and we've shared a lot. Speaking for myself, it's the best hobby I've run across to date, and I feel physically in better shape than I have in years
  • I am thankful for Doug's job. It's not the best job on the planet, but it gets us insurance, it gets us paid, and makes me less anxious about money
  • I am thankful for the friends I've made online, Tess chiefly among them, and for the writings they share. Some of them I've known for years (Amy and Virginia), others just recently stumbled upon. They are all interesting, vibrant, supportive, funny, cranky, upset, angry and fabulous and without them my morning just doesn't seem right
  • I am thankful for my little church congregation, for the people who go there and run the place, for the organist and the choir, for the other kids there to play with mine. I am thankful to the interim pastors for filling in while we search for a new pastor. I am thankful for the opportunity to bring in a new pastor and pray that it is the Best Thing Ever (TM)

I am thankful for more stuff. Of course there is always more to be thankful for. But that's an extensive list, and one that I look on and smile. I hope that whatever your circumstances are that you can find something to be thankful for, to yourself, to your friends/family, to your situation or to your God. Take a moment and pause, look back on the last year of your life. I'm sure there is one thing that stands out that makes you happy to be alive. And sometimes -- that one thing is all you need.

Happy Thanksgiving all. I may or may not get to post again until after the holiday. Depends on what happens tomorrow with the weather. We're anticipating a southern storm, which may impede our departure to Grandma's house. Much to the annoyance of my son, who insists we're going tonight. So this may be it until December! Yikes. Where is this year going?

Saturday, November 23, 2002


Mr. Garfield emailed me and told me it is okay to nap, based on my comment at the end of the last entry. Naps are something I used to always take. When I was at the Oregon Extension in 1988, 3pm became the official time of "all those worthy of the name student" to curl up on a couch with a book and a couple friends and then fall asleep. Whoever woke up first was the dinner maker. Doug's roommate Andy started this tradition, and we used it many times through that fall semester, sleeping on the couch like a pile of puppies.

I think of Andy whenever I do get a chance to nap. Which isn't too often. I miss Andy sometimes. But that's a story for another day...

Yesterday afternoon. Interview. It was a momentous occasion, in that I got to drive the truck solo down the infamous highway to a west of Boston suburb (must find easier alternative route to Watertown instead of taking Rte 128. Could take Rte 1 to Rte 16 and cut across that way, but not sure it'd be a good move...)

Driving the truck is a pleasure. I cranked up Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds "Live at Luther College," and rocked down the highway. Found the location easily enough. They are a start-up company and a friend of mine works there, so he got me the interview.

This company is starting to grow, and needing desperately to pull people into the fold. I interviewed not necessarily for a job, but to figure out where my skills would fit into this growing company.

They basically said they'd want me to be doing web/print writing for technical documentation and user training, which sounds fabulous to me. They liked the samples of the work I brought. They liked me and told me they'd want me to come back in and meet the two chief dudes, one of which I met in passing and the other is out of town.

They are very flexible with work schedules. Most of the employees work from home or come into the office for a few hours a day. Others come in first thing in the morning and stay until all hours, working and working. Quite like Microserfs.

(In fact, I couldn't help but think of Microserfs when I was interviewing with the first guy because he kept talking about Look and Feel for web design. Look and Feel were the names of the gerbils or hamsters or whatever small furry they had at the Oop! offices in the book. I laughed. Look and Feel).

Anyway -- it'd be a dream job for me. But there is one problem.

They don't have money. So the employees are currently working unpaid...

The way it works is everyone keeps track of his or her hours, and are granted future stock in the company when the company goes public OR they are bought by a competitor.

Scenario 1 is: when the company goes public, and person A has 50,000 shares of stock, he can sell that day to make some money, in part or in full, whatever he needs. Or, he can just hold on to the stock and wait and see what happens (me, I'd be selling 25,000 shares that day so I can pay my bills!)

Scenario 2 is: if and when the company is bought by a competitor, they will arrange for all the stock granted to date to be converted to the new company's stock and given to the employees right then. So then everyone will get paid. So if say Microsoft buys them, person A gets 50,000 shares of Microsoft right then. If the company keeps all the employees, they go on the Microsoft payroll.

So there are no salaries as of yet, until they sell several versions of their software and service out in the world and established, with income to pay people before the IPO. They have one customer they are doing an installation for right this minute, another that was just signed up, and two more that are in negotiations. They aren't using Venture Capital funding (VC) but are using Angel funding, which I know nothing about. I don't know how it works. I don't know what the deal is with how the investment gets paid back. I just know they don't pay money.

They have about 15 people working there, for future stock. My friend has been there a year. The founders -- three years, with no pay. I asked the guy interviewing me how people make their Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab Truck Payments if they are not getting paid.

His answer -- most of the people there are married, and live off their spouse/partner's income. Others who are single and unsupported by another individual's income have sidejobs that they do in the form of consulting, contractor work. So they sometimes scale back what they're doing for this company for a few weeks, still working on their projects of course, but they focus on the moneymaker for a while. And the owners have no problem with that. They know what they have to do to get the company going, and they're very close to their big launch, and they seem incredibly willing to work with anyone's situation.


I'm sure they want me to work for them. I'm sure I'd succeed and do a very super excellent job. But. I have a truck to pay for, and not enough Life Energy to be a mom, work a side contracting job, and work for these guys. Hmmm.

The college I applied to work for sent me a letter letting me know they'd received my information and are putting me into the interview pool, and they asked me to fill out an optional EEOC form (are you white and male? yes? seeya!) and requested my transcripts. So those are en-route. I'll keep you posted there too.

What else to report -- not much. Can't really think of anything. I had something on my mind that I was going to write about, but can't recall what. I'm sure it will come to me when I'm not able to access this machine. I have work to do for CM and MF today, and more cateringman menus. They liked the menus I made and then came up with other ones that they weren't going to put into the format I designed, but then thought better of it.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Quimby the Truck

My Whole Life.

I've wanted very few things. I always wanted a house that was mine all mine. And I wanted a kid or so. And a husband who loved me and didn't beat the living shit out of me. Reasonable requests. These were the basics.

The icing on the cake for me, my whole life, as an insane desire to own a very big truck.

I've always wanted a big-assed mother-humpin gravel- crunchin' pick the fuck up truck. Tonight, my wish came true. Meet Quimby. Named for the Mayor of Springfield (because it is a Dodge truck, and they have this whole Mayor of Truckville campaign, we thought the name worked well...) This is my brand new used 2002 Dodge Ram 1500 V8 Quad Cab.

Yo. I am a very happy girl. And I know that the big trucks don't get the best mileage. I know that Amy recently had a run in with an SUV, and big vehicles are a bane to a lot of people. I am sorry. I have just always wanted one of these.

When Ben told me a couple years ago that he was buying a Dodge Durango, I briefly thought of running away with him, just for the truck (he wouldn't have me anyway... so don't go thinkin' I'd leave Doug just for a guy with a great big truck).

But it warmed my heart that a friend of mine, someone I adore, was buying the great big Durango and I knew I'd be friends with him forever because he was just that cool. He could have bought ANY vehicle... but he picked a crazy big huge vehicle.

When he picked it up from the dealership, he came to my desk, walked up behind me, and then dangled the keys in front of my face, whispering, "I've got it. Let's go for a ride." And at that one moment, sitting in the passenger's side of Ben's Durango, I knew I had to one day get a bigassed vehicle like that one. And here I am, three years later. With a big Dodge. Say Hallelujah.

It rides like a dream. It has room for six people.

It needs a bedliner, and probably a cap on the back so the dogs are nice and safe. It isn't super easy to get into, because it's high in the sky. Not that I'd be wearing any really short skirts, but this is positively not a short skirt vehicle!

Geoff loves it, as evidenced here. A little boy and his big honkin' truck. A beautiful thing.

It is in my driveway right now.

It is my truck. I can't believe I bought a friggin truck. I can't believe WE bought a friggin truck. Holy flerkin' schnit!

Quimby. If you don't like the name, suggest one. And by the way, this is the fourth Red vehicle we've owned. We were hoping to get a different color for a change, but this one fit our needs, and happened to be red. Oh well. And just to note -- Rudy the little Red Saturn. You did good by us. You were a fabulous car. I will miss you dearly. We put 39,000 wonderful miles on you in just two years, taking the trip of a lifetime out to see Utah and Arizona. You are in our photo albums filled with our stuff, our dogs, our kids and our laughter. You are well appreciated. You will be missed. Whomsoever ends up with you Rudy -- long may they run (sniff, weep).

Post-birthday report

Random stuff, not really a cohesive entry today. First things first.

Yesterday as I was driving home from lunch with my old boss, I saw the swan out in the pond near my house. He used to come hang out down closer to my house, but he seems to be very happy over closer to the big part of the pond. I wanted to get a picture of him. So I turned around, parked, got out and went to see if I could get him to come closer.

There were dozens of Canada geese in the pond, they were all trying very hard to be the swan.

He didn't want to come close, but I watched him for a long time. I watched all of them looking for food, sticking their long necks under the water, with their duck rumps straight up in the air. The swan is huge, so he was pretty impressive to watch in this process. And... they stay under a good long time. I was impressed.

The really funny part was that when I parked my car, two ducks came from the opposite side of the pond and followed me across the road like puppies. They were very unique. There were no other ducks in the pond that looked like them, and I've only ever seen ducks like them at the Topsfield Fair. The Canada geese and the mallards didn't like these two at all, and kept harassing them. Sigh. Intolerance in the duck world.

So here are two pictures from my Swan and Duck watching experience.

I'm in MF's class right now, working from home.

I wish I had broadband, because I get no visuals at home on CuSeeMe, just audio and text. It's better than nothing, and my only real purpose here is to zap the unsavory interlopers out of the room, so I don't really need to SEE anyone... just be here. I had to stay here because Jessie had a half school day and band practice after the half day... so I had to pick her up in the middle of class. It was either work here or go down there and try and arrange for another parent to get her. I didn't want to deal with the hassle. So I stayed home. It all worked out well. I abandoned the class for 10 minutes. People came in. The students asked them to leave. No one was given a hard time. Peace reigned and all was good in the world.

Birthday report -- well. It wasn't a Barenaked Ladies concert with a celestial event following, but... it was nice.

I kept Geoff home because of Grandparents' day festivities at his school, and we went up to see his best friend Pete in Maine. Hanging out with Marcia and the kids was very nice and relaxing. They have some snow, so the kids got to sled... it was icy and fast, and they really liked it. Geoff fell asleep in the car on the way home after crying for the first half hour that he wanted to move there and live near Pete and "my girlfriend Mary. I want to marry her and live in Maine forever..."

Dude, you're already married, twice!

Mary is sweet on him too... which makes it extra cute. They'd make a nice couple... in 20 years. Gah. I can't imagine that far into the future... so I'll drop that line of thought.

I got several emails (Thank you Amy, Carrie, Virginia, Tess... you so rock) and different online cards from people. I took a nice nap when we got home. Then Doug took all of us out for dinner at Stripers Grille in Salisbury, right on the Merrimack River across from Newburyport. If you're familiar with the area -- it's a great little place to eat, the food is awesome, and because it is on the other side of the river you get the view of pretty Newburyport... all lit up and New Englandy. It's a very nice place. When we got there, Geoff told the waitress it was my birthday and she gave me mad props.

There was a large table filled with partiers, celebrating an older woman's birthday there too. When they brought out her cake, Geoff protested. "Hey! They didn't say the right NAME! It's my MOM'S birthday," and he was mad. We laughed at how cute he was.

I went to the bathroom, and when I did the waitress came over with MY cake, unrequested by Doug -- it was her idea. And she was all "Uh, where'd she go??!!" because I spoiled the moment by needing to pee (vodka and cranberry juice drinks makes me gotta pee when I gotsta pee). So she got my name at least, making the singing part easier, and then they came back around to sing to me when I got back.

I put a napkin on my head. I was so embarrassed. Geoff was thrilled that I got sung to, and that we had cake. It was all very nice.

When we got home, I put the kids to bed, I got a call from my mom so I returned it and we chatted. I got a call from my sister, so we chatted. Doug fell asleep and then I remembered I had a meeting with cateringman in the morning and hadn't finished the menus! In fact, I was less than halfway done with the menus! And it was 11pm!!! Aw crap.

So I went into the study and finished the menus. I got to bed after 1am. I was shagged out tired yesterday. The meeting went well and they accused me of partying too hard for my birthday. I let them believe that. I didn't want them to know I'd stayed up on my birthday WORKING for them... they'd call me a nerd.

Yesterday I had lunch with my former boss, and a friend from the Marketing group who got laid off in June. We had a wonderful time, and it was so good to see him. I keep in good contact with my old boss, but some of my old pals I've been out of touch with since my layoff.

I went and bought myself a new winter coat (Kohls was having a 50% off sale. Wooo!) and got some stuff for Geoff -- he needed a new coat and sledding pants. I got the first of Jessica's Christmas presents but she went into my room and saw it on the bed. I got her a Simpson's Chess set. So there goes 20 bucks that was supposed to be part of Christmas for her.

My bedroom should be SO off limits!

Tonight we're going to look at a new truck. We've been thinking for a long while that we want a truck, but have the family to sit in it. So. We're looking at a Dodge Ram pickup, extended cab. Seats 6. Great payload area for the dogs and gear (we'll obviously get a cap so the dogs aren't just... floating around back there, waiting to jump out and get killed. Decent mileage (18city/20hwy).

We don't want a minivan. An SUV is out of the question because that won't keep the dogs in the way back. And there aren't any decent sized station wagons that seat more than 5 people. No one makes the way way back seat anymore. And the middle seat is virtually useless in the front if you manage to get a car with bench seating... so going with the truck is where it's at. With 0% financing right now, we can trade in the Saturn and have the same ballpark payments that we have with it if we buy now.

This of course puts a crimp in Doug's Big TV Fantasy(TM). He wants a bigassed mother 36" TV for the built-in, and even picked one out. It costs like 1400 bucks or something. I forget how much. It's expensive. We may have to live with the pimpy TV for a year longer. Unless I get a job in the next couple months. Which I'm so hoping for. Then, we pay off all our debt, buy the truck, buy the TV and finish fixing the stuff we need to fix! Money -- it's helpful.

I've sent out resumes to head hunters. I'm dying to hear back from that college I just applied to. Yesterday was the deadline for submissions. They probably have an internal candidate already hand-picked and the advertisement and I'm not going to even get an interview. I have an interview tomorrow with a company in Watertown, which is SO far away, but it's a writing position that I'm really hoping I can make part time or flex time, and work from home. They are a young software company and a friend of mine works there. He is working for next to no money while they sell the first round of their product. They need a few more clients before they can give everyone who's been there since the start some serious money for sticking with it. But, they need training documentation and tech support manuals. So... that's what I'd be doing.

I'm sort of nervous, feel very under qualified. I have to dig out my tech writing samples. I'll probably have to go with the engineers to installations to work with the training process and then have stuff written for training afterwards, so this could be more of a pain in the ass if it doesn't pay well to start. I'll let you know.

Plus, if they give me this job, at very little pay... what do I do when I get the call to interview for the other job? What if I get the job at the college that I really really want? What if I walk away from a company that ends up with a great IPO and I miss out on gajillions of dollars? Meh.

I don't want to think about it. I won't get either job at all. In the long run... all that matters is I get the dishes done today, and the laundry folded. After this class is over. And a nap. Yeah. A nap.

I'm old

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Enrique sends me his love...

I am sleepy. I opened my email this morning, and lo and behlold, I got an email birthday greeting from Enrique Iglesias!!! I'm all like "No freakin' way!!! He REMEMBERED!!!"

Check'm out! He's Sexay!!!!!

The card played his sexy music, with him singing all this lovey stuff to me personally, I'm sure.

And the script on the page spelled out while he was singing. It was like magic! I swooned. I swayed. I fell over and hit my head on the table.

I came to my senses. I hate Enrique Iglesias... but the card comes from my sister who admitted the cheesiness of the card but was imagining the look on my face when I opened it. She was right. It was worth sending to me for a larf.

I have GOT to laugh at this picture though -- I think it is hysterical the way they position his face in pictures so you don't see that hugeassed mole on the right side of his face. You can see it once in a while in videos or interviews, but most of the time, you get the "better" side of this boy's visage.

Doesn't he have enough money that he can go get that hairy mole removed already, fer cryin' out loud!?!

Anyway. Today is indeed my birthday. I'm 36. The other day Ernie was stressing in his journal that he is 26 and his life is going nowhere. I felt the need to email him and let him know it doesn't get any easier, better, successful. The next ten years are as dismal as what's on your plate today buddy.

Geoff and I are leaving for Maine in about 10 minutes. I just wanted to post a quick note and share the gorgeousness of Enrique with you all. I know you love it.

Monday, November 18, 2002

Staining the built-in

We survived the storm.

Now, all the bread I bought will get moldy. Fudge.

The weekend was a mostly stay-at-home event due to that weather. Jessie spent the day at a friend's house (the "K" girl who was in my group for the field trip earlier this year, the slightly odd one). So it was quiet around here, and I got Geoff's room completely cleaned up, again.

Sunday was sort of rainy and icy, and all seven members of the choir, plus the organist, the pastor and six parishoners turned up for church. It was kind of sad. The roads weren't that bad. But Sunday School was cancelled (the Sunday School director obviously had worse roadage near her house than I did...) which was why there were no kids and hence no adults in attendance. Our 10am service is all families and a few older single people.

We all stayed after church for coffee. It was a lot of fun, and I'm glad I went... normally I'd be wrestling with Geoff or Jessie'd be whining in my face that she wanted to go to her friend across the street's house for the day.

Football watching was fun. We almost had skin failure when Tommy Maddox of the Steelers was shown splinted up and being hauled off the field with an obvious back/neck injury (nearly jumped online to email Leatheregg, Chadster, CJK and Smitty all at once screaming my head off). But I restrained myself. I almost started crying when I saw him there, they flashed over during the game they broadcasted here (Bills. yawn).

He's got an amazing story -- He is this year's "Kurt Warner" in "amazing stories" kinds of ways. He was an insurance salesman, wanted to get back to football... He sent out letters begging any NFL franchise to give him a chance and the Steelers got him. He's had a great year so far stepping in as the QB for the struggling Kordell (although I love him, he just isn't ... performing as well as last year). It would so very suck to see the guy lose his ability to walk, lose his career... lose his second chance at everything. Sigh.

Today -- I finally got Home Improvement Project #2 - the built in cabinet - just about 100% completed.

Yes. I stained the bad boy. Holy cow it was a bitch and a half. Four and a half hours, 1.25 cans of stain. My hands are a mess.

After deliberating with my sister via long distance about whether or not I'd need them, I bought gloves and started the project at about noon.

The gloves were pimpy-cheap and my fingers popped through the fingertips, so I ended up tossing them. And yes, Linda, there was polyeurethane in the stain, so getting the stain off my hands was a party. The interior of the shelves was the hardest part. I made a big big mess.

It looks great, but I can't take a picture of it because I loaned Cateringman my camera so he could take some pictures. Plus, I'll get more email that says "your tv is still too small and pimpy in there..." Yes. I know. But it is the only TV I gots!

I applied for another job that I really really want, this time it is at a community college here in the Commonwealth. The position is exactly what I did at the college where I used to work, but it pays 12k more to start than I was earning four years ago. Which ain't too shabby.

I am perfect for the job, yet again. I want the job... yet again. I'm not getting my hopes up.

I sent my resume, portfolio and transcript to them via email. I asked all my former bosses/friends/cheerleaders for letters of recommendation. We'll see what happens.

Tomorrow, Geoff doesn't know it yet but we're taking a little trip up to see Wayne and Marcia in Maine. Geoff's school does a "grandparents' day" every November. Last year I ended up going and picking him up because he was SO distraught that his grandparents weren't there and everyone else's were. We're not running the chance of him going through THAT trauma again for a day of grandparent worship. If it were a Friday or a Monday or something, I'm sure my parents would come up for the weekend. But a Tuesday is a tough request from people who live 5 hours away. Doug's parents are 12 hours away in the far west of PA, so we never even ask them. So tomorrow will be a special day for Geoff and mommy, and his friend Pete... and I'll enjoy not having to sit here looking at the ceiling, which is Home Improvement Project #1, and it still isn't complete. It's close. But not complete.

I got some cool email about the roller conveyor. My friend Mr. Garfield shared his stories with me. And Tanager told me there's a conveyor roller slide at a park near Coolidge Corner in Boston. She also indirectly told me I had a fat ass... which made me laugh.

I'd share their emails with you. But I accidentally deleted them because I was on the phone with my sister and was distracted. I thought I was deleting the two pieces of spam I got today... but it was their emails that went down the tubes.

Enough. Dinner's in the oven. I'm gonna relax a bit, kick it in front of my beautifully stained home entertainment cabinet, natch!

Friday, November 15, 2002

Kerry and Wine

My former co-worker and friend Kerry had a party tonight. She invited me over 2 weeks ago, and I forgot I was invited until about 12pm this afternoon when my former boss mentioned it to me.

"You going to kerry's tonight?"

"Uh, yeah! looking forward to it!" Wondering how I'm going to spring this on Doug when I know he's going to come home grumpy. Starting to sweat:

"Uh, honey, I'm invited to a cocktail party tonight so I'm going, okay? I'll make dinner first"

groan, comes the reply from Doug.

Can't say as I blame him. See, I've got friends from two former jobs who love me and make me go drink alcohol once in a while. And sometimes inviting him is good, other times no.

Tonight he would have not been into it, even if I got a sitter (which Kerry told me to do). It was just a little too silly, and a lot of insider humor. Which was fabulous for me, but not so for him... (the fact that my former uber boss went into Kerry's bathroom and put on her bathrobe and came out dancing was funny to ME, but may not have been to Doug...)

So I'm glad he stayed home and was able to have a quiet night here. Luckily the only one who posed difficulty was Jack puppy, who has developed a liking for eating my bras.


In the meantime, I had a blast tonight with Kerry, Marcia, Malissa, Janice, Liz and my former UberBoss Jeff. He is just the funniest. And I missed my old boss Deb by about 5 minutes. She'll hear from me later! I got there at 6:10!!!

I picked up a bottle of wine on the way there. I know nothing about wine, and picked the bottle because the label looked like an Enya song, and I thought Kerry would like it. She laughed and laughed. I'm glad. I'm such a loser with wine, I have NO idea about anything wine-wise. It is a nice label and I may buy a bottle of it for ourselves just to check it out.

We had a lot of fun, we picked on Kerry a lot. She's a good sport. I hated leaving them and coming home because I felt the party just got really underway. But... it was getting late and I owed it to Doug.

Plus, another glass or two of wine and I'd be sleeping in Kerry's guest room. I love Kerry and I miss her. I'm jealous that so many people I like still get to see each other often. Sigh.

Category 4 Kill Storm; Halesite Supermarket memories

There is supposed to be a big storm tomorrow.

A big huge category four kill storm.

The weather forecasters are putting the fear of God into bread, milk and egg buyers. They are the shrieking Cassandras, foaming at the mouths, uttering cries of certain death and doom unto us all.

You'd never know the killer storm approacheth. It is a gorgeous and delightful fall day out today. Warm. Sunny. Slightly breezy.

But in 24 hours we'll all be repenting our sins while crouching in the bathtub, hoping our bodies will protect our small children, surrounded by our couch cushions, if you listen to the weathermen.

We were low on food anyway, so I planned on going to the grocery store today. But Doug made it a point to remind me to go. Last night he told me to be sure to go to the market because a storm was coming, and "bread will never be made again!"

Yes. The weathermen are right! Avenues of commerce across the north east will be clogged with the bodies of the dead, abandoned vehicles, 8 feet of snow, fallen trees and power lines! I'd better buy four loaves!

Bread will never be made again. Shudder.

Nor will there be meat! Ever again. Better buy a lot. We'll freeze some, then use the frozen steaks to whack the heads of the looters and home invaders when they come here because our roof is the only which hasn't caved under the sheer weight of the heavy rain and snow! I may have to inflict serious pain with those chicken breasts -- better make sure they are bone-in so they'll be super sharp and pointy when my former friends and neighbors come over to kill us.

Dog food! The dogs must have food or they also will turn on us and eat us alive in this post-storm apocalypse. Better get two bags.

Toilet Paper!!! Everyone is going to buy milk, bread and eggs. But they will forget TP to wipe their asses with after they eat all their French Toast. But we will have plenty. Lots and lots of TP.

A great big bag of charcoal would be nice too. Not only will we be able to have cooked meat on the grill after we pummel our former friends and neighbors to death with it, we'll have warmth. The power will be out! Gas lines severed! But we'll fire up ole' Mother Weber and huddle round her with our well fed dogs and our fleece blankets, with frozen meat and poking sticks in our hands.

And we will laugh at those who are under prepared. Hahahahahaaaaaaa!

Even if the storm doesn't kick our collective Northeastern Asses, we'll have food for the next few weeks.

I like going to the supermarket in the morning.

It isn't crowded. People working and shopping there are much older so I feel so hip and young. Once in a while there is a stay at home mom with one or more rug rats, or a new mother with her new baby in the new car seat perched in the brand new shopping cart, looking shiny and happy.

The cashiers and bag "boys" are all in their 50s and 60s, and perhaps 70s. They are exceedingly friendly. Today when I was putting my stuff on the conveyor the cashier lady I always go to recognized me and asked how Geoff was doing (he is sometimes with me in the morning when we run in and get juice boxes due to my poor planning skills).

Note to self: Improve planning skills if I am to survive after storm, as Doug will surely die as a result of shoveling heavy snow off the roof to prevent cave-in.

Note to self: Try and figure out now what to do with his corpse as no rescue vehicles or coroner vehicles will be able to come get him.

The bag boys were talking about how great the Pats played last week. They are older greek gentlemen who slip effortlessly between English and Greek. The bag boy I had today is named "Chris." He always sings to me when he loads up the cart. Today I needed two carts (the dog food was to blame. And the 90 packages of chicken, and 200 packages of Ramen Noodles, and 15 loaves of bread) so Chris pushed out one cart and I pushed out the other. He offered to help put the bags in the back of the station wagon. I told him I could do it from there (improving my self-reliance skills for survival after the killer storm), and I went to hand him a dollar for helping me out.

You know, tip the bag boy.

He waved it off and laughed and said thank you, but he didn't want it. I'm not sure exactly if he thought it was a nice gesture and genuinely refused it, or if he was insulted. He told me he likes taking stuff out to the cars because he can get fresh air and stretch his legs. He waved good bye and went back inside.

I thought you were supposed to tip bag boys. Do people still do that? Am I such a loser that I think that still happens?

I am suddenly reminded of the grocery store when I was a kid. We used to go down to King Kullen in Halesite, there was no good grocery store up near our house, so we'd go down and shop there.

The name King Kullen just makes me laugh to myself now. What a funny name.

I have a memory in my head of the exterior of the store. Under the big awning, there was a metal roller conveyor belt, and there was a door from the inside of the store where they would slide your bags out and they'd be taken to the car (or you could take them if you want, but I remember guys doing it for us).

I always wanted to ride the conveyor belt. The metal wheels would make the greatest jingly sound when the bags would roll down them, and a boy would grab the bags and go off to some lady's car, put them in the trunk, and get tipped.

Those "boys" are now in their 40s. Funny to think that. We would run down the platform, and roll the rollers to see if we could get them all going. I remember trying to perfect my roller starting skills. Whole hand, whole arm, or one finger across one at a time... which is fastest. I guess it depended on how fast you ran down the line.

The metal roller shopping bag delivery system. One of the greatest memories of my child hood.

I also remember standing in the parking lot and looking across the lot to the woods and fields behind the lot and store. They aren't there anymore.

Okay, before I start getting all "Joe Tronzo" on you (that's a reference to the crusty old Beaver Valley Times columnist who used to reminisce about his childhood sitting under the gas lights in the summer spitting watermelon seeds up towards the moon) I'll finish this up. I am invited to a little party this evening at a former co-worker's swanky pad and I totally forgot to tell Doug, so I don't know if he'll be mad that I want to go.

Better go there and have fun. I may never see her again once this storm hits. Okay -- for the rest of you. There is no bread left. I bought it all. Don't come here looking for any. Your sloth and poor planning shall make a lovely liner in your own coffin!!! Mwah ha ha!

Thursday, November 14, 2002

I'm not sure I understand concert promotions and marketing anymore. The local radio station I listen to most but not all of the time, WXRV, 92.5 the River, made no mention of the fact that Counting Crows will be performing THIS Friday night at the Paul Tsongas Arena (ghetto website, check out the events schedule... formatting -- horrid. Worst Site Ever).

No mention of said event, even though they play them ALL the blasted time. I happened to be scanning the dial while on the way back from Waltham where Geoff saw his eye doctor, and heard a DJ on another station casually mention the event after playing a Counting Crows song.

Now, why is this the first I've heard of it?

Clear Channel Entertainment is sponsoring the Counting Crows tour, which might have something to do with it. They have this stranglehold on radio, music distribution and concert promotions in the country as of late. And I don't listen to any of the four Clear Channel Radio Stations in the Boston area, so if it was advertised over there, I would of course not hear it at all.

The station I heard the mention on was WBOS, which is 2 clicks up the dial from WXRV, and I rarely ever stop there because they play even MORE Don Henley and Bonnie Raitt than WXRV (hard to imagine).

I went to the Tsongas Arena website, tickets are still available, but they are going for thirty bucks a pop.

Screw that.

I thought it would make a nice birthday present for me to go with Jessie and Doug to see them, but feh. Not for 30 bucks a seat. And when it comes down to it, not for a Clear Channel event. Sorry Adam Duritz, you've sold out to the man.

The aboved linked articles have got to be some of the more interesting coverage on Clear Channel I've seen. "Why Does Radio Suck?" is the question they ask -- and there's your answer. Venues are owned by Clear Channel, radio stations are owned OR have MAJOR payola accounts with Clear Channel.

I know a lot of the bands I like are part of this scheme... and it breaks my heart. It also makes me sick, because there are talentless slobs who get in on a good contract and then get marketed, shoved, and triple branded into my face everywhere I go.

Today's MF class was fabulous. A few technical glitches, but all told it went well. My buddy from the media department came and hooked up a VCR to one of the PCs and we taped the class. Only one penis in attendance! And we got it on video! Aren't we just the lucky ones!

Cu-SeeMe is introducing private rooms, with advanced features like CuCreeps, where you can ban someone from the room for ever and ever. How sweet it is. I love knowing that this will soon be available, because then I will not have to technically facilitate the classes, and if I get a full time job sometime soon I won't have to worry about MF not being able to run the class, with penii flying through the virtual room. I don't know if our pushing them and whining and complaining all the time has anything to do with their moving in this direction, but it is nice to see it happening. The tech guy I spoke with in May of last year said they were thinking about doing this, but that it wouldn't be free... well. Looks like it is free. And the class is working so well that this is an all new and very exciting way to do education. I'm sure they'll charge us for it eventually, but seriously -- perhaps 20 bucks a kid per class per semester or something. I can see the kids paying that. They pay a lot more for textbooks. This would be cheap in comparison.

Today I got to stop in and see the guys, only Brian and Ben were there. Dan was actually out working someplace. Brian ragged on me for not going up after class last week. I told him to stuff it. Glad to have such great friends.

And he also told me about the latest editions of Rolling Stone Magazine -- with the Simpsons Covers. Hot Damn. Go to the website and check them out. I'm not sure how long they'll be up there, so I'm going to keep each picture here locally. Too funny. Personally, I think they should have done a version of the middle of Joshua Tree, the way I did last year with my family's faces -- but they did make fun of U2 pretty good (see the Homer and U2 at Moe's picture for proof. Ass cracks are really funny). The Fleetwood Mac "Rumors" cover is pretty darn classy. Nice work.

I've gotten some interesting feedback on the built in entertainment center from friends. Usually in the form of phone calls, but a couple good emails.

"Dude, your TV is too small and pimpy, get a bigger one!"

That's the general consensus. Now, Doug is thinking about our need for a TV which will fill the opening better. That could end up being our Christmas present to ourselves.

See what happens when you do home improvement? What you had was passable. Now you have something nicer, and you gotta improve the stuff that goes with it. Pretty soon, we'll need a new house. Oh well. Anyway. Go check out the Rolling Stone Simpsons stuff. It's a riot.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Down the Cape

Yesterday we left the house to drive down the Cape to go see my grandmother, AKA "Gammy," because we never go see her. Knowing we had a day off I was thinking we'd go geocache in the Worcester area, there are a few new good ones out and about that way.

My husband has a way of reminding me that there are other humans in my life.

I called her on Sunday morning, and she was thrilled to hear we'd be coming down. Back in May she broke her arm and has been having all kinds of trouble with it. She was pretty much on the mend, and then on Saturday her patio door got blown into her face and she shot her arm out to stop it. Needless to say -- she's reinjured herself, and it pisses her off. So our coming down there I'm sure brightened her day.

I feel like a shit most of the time because I rarely think of contacting family, and I probably shouldn't because it isn't like my phone rings off the hook (unless it's my girl LeeLee callin' me from the F.L.A. yo), if you catch my drift. For me, I know my family down the southlands is busy. They have lives. I don't get phone calls asking how I'm doing because my mom is that conduit for communication with them. So I don't feel abandoned or neglected, and I doubt they give it much of a second thought themselves.

Getting down near the Cape is something I hate attempting nearly 7 months out of the year. Right about now, before the winter kicks in and makes weather so miserable is the perfect time to go.

It takes about 2 hours, with no traffic. Now, for us, we have two traffic obstacles -- Boston and the Cape bridges. It can be an hour in each location (getting through the city, getting to the bridge to cross it) and then the time spent getting to the obstacles. It has taken about 4 hours for us on some days. It sucks.

So we never go down there.

"Where do you want to go to lunch, Gammy?" I asked.

"McDonalds." She replied.

"No seriously, we want to take you somewhere nicer than McDonald's."

I wasn't sure if she was suggesting McDonalds for the kids or for it being an inexpensive place to eat. She doesn't like people spending money on her -- when I call her on the phone she rushes me off because it is expensive (meanwhile, we have this eastern Massachusetts calling plan deal where we can talk for a billion and a half minutes and it's way cheap, and we never go over the minutes allotted. but... she still thinks we're paying through the nose to call her). So we took her to the Hearth and Kettle, Cape Cod cooking at its slowest. The waitress was really nice and even goosed Geoff when he was wiggling around in his chair, which made us all laugh (some people would have been immediately offended, not us. Goosing a wiggly kid is funny stuff).

But the food took forever to get there, and it wasn't as good as I recalled it being. But, nonetheless, it was a lot of fun to hang with Gammy. We took her down to the ocean beach at Falmouth, and she told me she used to take my cousins Billy and John there when they were little, with some KFC for lunch. They'd play in the water and the sand and she'd sit in the car and read.

Geoff was semi-obsessed with Gammy's broken arm, and I must have told him a thousand times to be kind and gentle to it. So, when I asked him to pose with her, he decided to show that he was kind and gentle to the broken arm. "What happened to your arm?" was the first thing out of his mouth when he saw her. She explained... and he said "Oh, are you okay?"

He's sweet that way sometimes. Then he told her he was going to "grow up like a doctor. Like a scientist. and EVIL Scientist!"

Gammy was thoroughly entertained.

And I took two pictures of Gam and Jessie, and in each one Gammy decided to look AT Jess instead of at the camera.

I got after her for turning her head (it isn't the first time she's done it in my experience with her. Note, she did it with Geoff too. Right before the flash goes off, she turns). She told me that she didn't want a picture of her looking at a camera, she wants to look AT the kids.

So I let her have her way and didn't take a third.

We drove around past "the Knob" which I guess is an infamous party spot in Falmouth, but is really beautiful (cateringman grew up there and when I told him we were by his old stomping grounds he laughed, "Oh, I could tell you stories about stuff I did in my wild youth at the Knob, but I'm a good Christian man now and it'd be a sin just recounting those events..."). There's a geocache there, and if it hadn't been raining I would have wanted to go do it after we left Gammy, but weather did not permit, so another visit is in order.

And we drove over to Nobska light and past the cemetery where my Grandfather is buried. "Bampi" is what we would have called him to his face, and we called him that all the time growing up. Still do. Never knew him. Wish I had.

Gammy told us more stories about going to Nobska when my Bampi worked there. He'd call her and tell her to bring him his lunch, and when she did, the guys at the lighthouse would sound the horn as she turned the corner (on his request, of course) and "scare the devil" out of her. She laughed and laughed. She also showed us where she would walk with my mom and her sister when going to the beach when they were little. It was a nice little drive around, and it sucks that it was all rainy, because it would have been so nice to get out and walk around things...

but, another visit.

When we got home, we had a nice surprise waiting. I'd left a key for Wayne and he finished the built-in cabinet for the TV. Now. I have to stain it and figure out how to run power up underneath from the basement. But -- here it is. With plenty of room for a big assed TV to nest in there. Wahoo!

It was Veterans' Day yesterday and I almost totally forgot because most years (except this one and the 2 when I was at the college working) I've been on the job, so I hardly think of it as a holiday.

There are very few veterans in my life anymore. There's my father in law, who served in the Air Force in Vietnam, and was in the reserves in Pittsburgh for several years after the war... in fact, he retired from the reserves a couple years after I met Doug.

Doug's grandfather fought in WWII and was at D-day. He had all kinds of amazing stories about his experiences, and I know I said thank you to him once or twice in the short time I knew him.

In the discussion group for my old company's stock, there was a WWII vet called "CT" who would often talk about his service days. He took a shine to me, and a couple other people, and we'd email bad jokes back and forth to each other.

Even though neither of us have posted on the stock board in over a year, he still sends me a daily joke, and journal like emails which he sends to his family. It's kind of weird to be on that distribution list, with his family.

I feel I've gotten to know him pretty well, even though I have no idea where he lives. I know he took a year long "assignment" at a state forest on the coast of California last year to be the camp caretaker. It was something he always wanted to do. So it was neat to get these updates from him about life at the camp, the people he met. He is a friendly and active old dude, and I'm sure he made other people's lives a living hell at the camp. He seems the type. So I emailed him last night, the message was:

No joke today, just a simple thanks. Thank you CT for your service to this country, and thank you for sharing your stories with me over the past 2 years.

The email back was:

You made my day. My own kids haven't yet thanked me, in their lives. Thanks for putting a smile on this old face.

I feel like calling my father in law, to say thank you, but I don't know. He doesn't ever talk about Vietnam, his experience, his life... one would never know he was a serviceman because unlike so many others he simply doesn't bring it up. Once in a great while he'll tell us a story, usually something really funny. He doesn't talk about being in combat or any of the negative experiences he may have had. I know Vietnam veterans often go off the deep end, and have a reputation as people who can't handle what happened to them in their lives.

But my father in law -- if anything truly horrific happened to him, or if he witnessed something horrid, you'd never know it. He doesn't let it show. He never discusses it. And that's probably a good and bad thing.