Monday, June 30, 2003

Photos from June 2003

Procrastination Flowers

We put in some flowers this weekend. Procrastination is my middle name. I got 40 bucks worth of perennials, all discounted by 30%.

Sometimes it pays to wait.

Pictures coming when they spread and grow a bit. They look really nice. If I can keep jack from walking through the flowers, my life will be good. And if the morning glories grow up the post this year ... last year they pooped out. The year prior they were extraordinary.

This year I got red and white ones.

Oh -- and I have some clematis growing that I never noticed before. I always knew the vine was out there, but didn't know what it was supposed to do. This year it has given me one purple blossom. And I loved it.

And my strawberries are ready. Next -- blueberries and black razz. Can't wait to make those pancakes!

I'm a little nervous.

On a professional level, I'm about to open myself up to my students and have them READ my journal. The course that I was supposed to design and co-teach last summer was back burnered and waylaid. It's running now. And our orientation for the participants is tomorrow. CM will go over using Blackboard and the course readings and requirements. I will introduce them to blogging, concepts and tools... set them up with Journalspace accounts and pat them on the heads.

I considered starting a third journal, just for class. I pondered the authenticity of doing that -- meaning I'd be a big fat phony in a lot of ways. Part of my philosophy in writing and journaling and blogging is to be honest, out there, and at times if that means I place myself in a position where people may think less of me, I guess that's a price to pay for being a genuine and honest participant in community.

The course focuses on concepts, community, man in machine, machine in man, how it all works together... and for two years I've been one of the many voices in the wilderness. I've yet to piss anyone off too completely, but like I say in my disclaimer, I may have said something at a time of anger or in the heat of thought processing, but most likely, I'm over it. You shouldn't be mad at me or hold it against me. If I'm over it, you should be too. And if you think it's something we should discuss or you feel I owe you an apology -- just tell me. I'm easily humbled.

But not humbled enough to pull the journal down or create an alternative persona for the purposes of the class.

So, IDS271 students, if you're here -- welcome. Read. Hopefully enjoy. And start counting monkeys.

Yesterday was an interesting day. Our neighbors had a big party for their daughter's 2nd birthday. It was an outright blast. Geoff loved playing with all the kids and S&C's friends are entertaining. I sat with the neighbor on their other side (Megan and Matt's dad) and we caught up with life and all. We don't see one another too often, and he's a laugh riot. So it was fun to spend time with him.

We then went to a reception for our new pastor at our church. She gives her first service (and yes, I said she. I don't think it's going to be quite like the Vicar of Dibley, but a woman pastor in our 130 year history is certainly a change of pace) on July 6th, while we're in Maine. We'll miss her first service so we wanted to make a point to meet her at the reception. She's coming up from the church we used to run our Coffeehouse out of back in the day where she was the associate pastor.

She seems really cool, very smart, stylie and funny. Hopefully a blessing and a great new start for our tiny Episcopal parish.

And, the greatest thing about being Episcopalian -- beer and wine at shindigs. Booyeah! Nothing stuck up and holier than though about us! My buddy Scott who is Lutheran refers to us as Whiskeypalians... and that doesn't bother me, one shotglass worth.

The reception was in an old house in downtown, right on the Merrimack. The house itself knocked my socks off, but what was more amazing was the rise of the hill behind the house, and the gorgeous slope down to the water's edge, and the gardens... I could live there. I told the owners "when you sell, call me. I'll find the money to buy this off of you come hell or high water."

It's been their family house for ages. I doubt they'd sell it out of the family... but it doesn't hurt to ask.

The Way Out Inn, with Riparian Entertainments on a Grand Scale. Can you hear Mrs. Bucket (it's pronounced BOUQUET!!!) welcoming her guests now? Yes, yes indeed, my candlelight suppers waterside will be the envy of all the old townies. Do come in.

Snap -- fantasy over.

Jessie and Lee Lee return tomorrow. I'm getting the cap on the truck tomorrow. Doug's working locally tomorrow in area nursing homes shadowing someone... and then tomorrow night we do the orientation and set up for our snoodents.

Wish me luck. I'm anticipating a sleepless, or at least a restless, night. Sigh.

More later -- over and out.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

C Temp x 1.8 +32 = Flerkin' Schtinkin' HOT!!!

Well, it's finally hot in New England. After a drismal spring where I was wearing my winter boots when walking the dogs in the yard most mornings, Mother nature suddenly stopped hitting her snooze alarm, got her lazy pot smokin' ass out of bed, brewed up some hot java, wiped the sleep from her eyes and whacked us with vengance.

It is 32 degrees celsius in my kitchen now, and it is 9 pm.

It was 37 when I got home. So... I'm playing "It could be worse" inside my head.

Why am I telling you the temp in celsius? We have an indoor outdoor thermometer that we picked up for cheap back at a walmart clearance sale ages ago. Last summer, it wigged out and will only read the temp in C now. We have no idea why. It just is what it is. Doug, math wizard extrordinaire, can do the conversion in his head. Me? I just say "Wow, it's only 11 in here this morning, crank up the heat!"

Rather than learn how to do the math in my head, I'm always calling out, "Honey, how much is 17 really?" And he knows what I mean and yells back "Oh, about 62 or 63 ish."

So I got home from work and took the C thermometer out of the fridge, where we've been monitoring the internal temps of Jerome since he arrived here. And I set it on the counter and watched the temp jet from 1.9 straight up the charts with a bullet. I laughed and begged for it to stop.

It was damn hot in here -- I took the dogs out, Geoff and I sat outside for a long time, but in all honesty it was the same inside as outside. At least inside I could aim a fan at my body. Geoff got a good bath, and is passed out on the couch for the second night in a row.

Last night we went up to C's cabin in New Hampshire. I've spoken often of C here... she and I have known each other since the summer of 1986 when she came to college and we drove around like crazy fools in my car looking for refuge from the heat.

She and her sister bought her parents' cabin from her aunt (long long story) and so she now owns a huge part of her childhood, complete with tape on the walls measuring all the heights of the kids as they came up summer after summer.

In the nearly 17 years I've known C, I've never been to the cabin. Both of us had a hard time just pondering that. Why hadn't I ever been there?

A lot of reasons... Long story short, she ended up dating my boyfriend from college and I was all bitter and angry at both of them for a very long time. I got over it, they got married, Doug and I got married -- and I'd say for the past 8 years or so I've counted her on my very short list of people I would trust with my life.

She came and sat by my side most nights that I was in hospital trying not to have Geoff. Very few people did that.

She took Jessica with her one day when I had post-delivery complications. I still can see her standing there holding Jessica's hands and her big box of crayons as they wheeled me on gurney down a hall to get my complications uncomplicated. She held Jessie's hand, and looked terrified... but they had a lovely lovely day.

Now C is divorced and has a new guy and a nice life and a great job and a cool cabin.

And I have CABIN ENVY.

She knew we'd get there before her, and warned me that the place was being worked on, that it was rough.

I walked in and fell in love. All the dark woodwork, the screened in porches, the functional kitchen, the gorgeous new bathroom fixtures. The amazing cozy feel of the place. Geoff and I started throwing open windows and turning on ceiling fans. She showed up and we went to the pool/pond and Geoff swam for an hour. We had dinner. We took a long relaxing walk. She told me the history of just about every cabin there at the camp... what families were lifers, who had the craziest parties back in the day (who has them now), and I didn't want to go home, but had to.

The dogs were here solo.

I want a cabin. I talked to Doug last night, and told him of my cabin envy.

Someday. Perhaps we'll have a cabin like this somewhere. Where it's close enough to throw everyone in the back of the car after a hectic work day, and get up there in time to still enjoy the sunlight and swimming. Where getting up a half hour early is the price you pay in order to get to work, just so you can have a really nice night's sleep in the open aired screened in porch.

We shall see.

In the meantime... Doug comes home tomorrow night. We're getting a cap on the truck on Tuesday. Driving to Maine Thursday night. Should be a blast. We need to get there not too painfully late because we'll have tents to pitch. Hopefully it'll be easy to see in the dark!

I'm hot. It's hot in here. I am going to make another heavily limed gin and tonic (light on the gin -- i HATE gin, but I love lime) and I'm taking a shower and hitting the hay.


Tuesday, June 24, 2003

We Found Nemo

After Doug left on Sunday Geoff and I killed some time and headed over to Haverhill to Chunky's Cinema Pub to go see "Finding Nemo." He's been dying to see it for weeks, and I figured it would be a great thing for me to do with him to take his mind off the fact daddy was going on a trip.

Mind you -- Geoff wasn't going to miss daddy. Geoff was seethingly envious that daddy got to ride on a plane and stay at a hotel. Geoff, you see, loves to travel.

Anyway... movie. Good distraction. And for those of you who don't know anything about Chunky's, it's a movie theatre with old Cadillac car seats on wheels, that serves food during the picture.

And beer. They serve beer.

We got in line, and it was a good long line. Geoff was all excited. I told him that there was a chance the movie would be sold out and that we'd head over to Methuen to The Loop theatre and see it there, so he couldn't freak out.

He agreed to not freak out.

The people in front of us in line got the last two tickets.

They were old people, too. Like in their 60s.

And even though he promised, I didn't believe that he would keep his cool anyway, true to form Geoff FREAKED out when the girl told me that the movie was sold out. She pointed to the ticket usurpers and said "that older couple just bought the last two tickets."

And I do mean, he FREAKED. Stupid old people gave him a dirty look. Hey, old farty types. This is a six year old kid who wanted to see the movie. You think you'd have like an ounce of compassion to go see, I dunno, some GROWN ALL THE WAY UP movie or something. But no. You had to get in front of US and now I have to deal with... Geoff.

I carted him back to the truck. I told him that if he pulled his shit together (not in those words of course) I'd take him to the Loop. If he couldn't compose himself, we were heading right home. He sobbed for a little while, and then after I started the truck and cranked up The Black Crowes he got all back to normal.

We went to the Loop. It was a mob scene. We were an hour early. We got our tickets and went up to Old Navy and got him a cool new swimsuit (10 bucks, thank you very much) and a pair of cool sunglasses for each of us (Four bucks, each, thank you very much) and he picked out a cool baseball hat. They didn't have his size, but he wanted a red one... so I got the adult size and it says "Long Island Stickball" on the front... whatever that random Old Navy thing is all about I don't care. He loves it.

We went to Borders because I wanted a CD, and he totally enjoyed walking around and listening to the sample headphones. He turned them all the way up past 11, and at one of them he yelled out "This ROCKS!!!" I needed to know, so I begged him to let me listen, and when I put my head between the headphones I heard what sounded like Satan trying to get a root canal and give birth at the same time.

Okay. Let's find another CD to listen to, shall we?

We wandered back to the theatre, bags in hand... still with about 20 minutes to kill. We got goodies at the concession stand. We went in and secured seats. The movie was sold out, and the place was jammed with mewling children and exasperated adults. I sat through the waiting period reading the new Douglas Coupland book that I'd picked up, while Geoff munched his Reeses Pieces.

For the first time ever in my memory, Geoff was the best behaved kid in the universe. He sighed at one point and looked around, and said loudly enough for the woman on his other side to hear him (and get a good laugh off him) "What is with this place? What a bunch of Chatter boxes! It's not your livingroom, ya know. Be quiet!"

We thoroughly enjoyed the movie. There was a ton of action, lots of adventure. I found Dory (Ellen DeGenneres, whom my husband refers to as "the alleged comedienne" because he doesn't think she's funny at all) to be annoying after about five minutes of her antics. I loved the turtles. I loved the fact Nemo has a gimpy fin and his dad is extra protective. The aquarium was amazing. I thought the voice of Gil was Denis Leary, so imagine my surprise when I see the credits and find out who he was really voiced by.

I thought the funniest thing in the movie was the picture of the dentist's niece staring into the fish tank with her hideous braces and her scaryass green eyes. I thought it was awesome how the lobsters had Boston Accents.

I won't discuss my thoughts/feelings on the plot. Suffice it to say it is a great movie about parenting and letting go. A fabulous tale of trust, relationship and damn scary fish with phosphorescent dangly things hanging off their foreheads. A tear or two was shed by your humble narrator, indeed. And it was a perfect movie to see as I pretend to single parent my son with the gimpy arm.

Who could ask for anything more.

We had pizza that night and were in bed by 9. Doug called at about 11:30, and that messed up my being able to sleepness. I read Neuromancer (one of the required books for the online class I'm teaching, starting in like ONE WEEK!!!!!! and I'm so not prepared!!!) and finally fell asleep.

Jack started barking like a maniac at 3. Woke me up. I was late for work Monday because I just couldn't get up. I made up for it this morning by being totally early... I just have a hard time with Mondays in the first place, and then the stupid dog... well. I'll stop.

Jack barked like a maniac again this morning at 2. I kenneled him... I feel bad for him because he is in the kennel all day with me being at work. Tomorrow I may take a long lunch and come home and run them around the yard and free him from the confines for a while.

Tomorrow night I am taking Geoff up to New Hampshire to C&M's cabin on the lake. Hopefully the dogs will be good. I'll stick them in the truck while we're eating. C&M have little wee dogs. I don't want to leave the dogs home because they'll be all alone all day... so we'll see if it works or totally backfires and I end up coming home. I doubt it.

It's supposed to be roasting hot tomorrow. Yippee. We go from the dregs of a long and depressing winter straight into the Dog Days. I'm stuffy nosed and headachy all of a sudden. Thanks, God. Way to manage the seasons. Duh.

Sorry, sorry. No, just kidding. No bolt from the blue to fry my keyboard or my cranium.

Tonight we rented a couple Pokemon Johto League videos and Big Fat Liar. A movie I highly recommend. Nothing beats a good revenge movie, especially when the bad guy is so unlikeable by everyone on earth. Great cast, awesome performances... and a monkey.

More later... Geoff's in the tub, I'm hoping he'll go to bed early. I am beat!

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

Doug leaves for his trip to Florida today. It will be weird without him here to assist me in yelling at the boy on a daily basis. We had a great day yesterday, not perfect but great. Geoff wasn't on his best behavior and we had to take him out in public.

Friday night Doug's aunt called. Seems she has been attending a doll conference in Lowell. Yesterday was the only day in the week she had any time free, so we met her for lunch. We went to a Greek restaurant in town that we hadn't been to in at least 10 years, I think the last time we were at the Lowell Folk Festival was the last time we were there. The food wasn't as good as I'd remembered, and the shish-ke-bob portions used to come with the roasted onion and tomato, but now it's just four little pieces of lamb.

Geoff was extra goofy and wired, to have a new audience to "impress" with his burp jokes and his fake story about getting bit by a Garrados (pokemon) and that's how his arm was broken. I'm sure Doug's aunt (who rarely gets to see us due to her geographical location) was unimpressed with his behavior, but, she was good humored and it was overall a very nice visit. We don't get over to Lowell much. We had some fun walking around the mills and the museums. Doug's aunt's attendence in the convention got her entrance to the museums and we figured we could go in, but we'd be policing Geoff in his hyper state and neither of us would enjoy the mill visits, so we split.

We thought Aaron was going to swing by for a brief visit on his way back up to Maine from coming down to get bike parts, but I think we misunderstood his agenda. He was going to stay with another friend who lives in the area overnight, which is all good, but I misunderstood him saying he'd come by. So last night was lowkey, hanging out, watching TV, and doing nothing.

Today has been a low key day too. Doug's packing, so he did laundry and took care of a bunch of stuff. I'm kind of steering clear so he can do his thing and I won't be "hovering" and in the way. Geoff has been pressing every one of my buttons today. He hid his splint for his arm, he lost the tag off of a Travel Bug for geocaching and I'd love to wring his neck but I'm sure we'll find it. I was going to take him to the movies this afternoon after Doug leaves. Geoff will freak when he goes, not because Dad is going away but because HE (Geoff) isn't going on a trip. The boy loves to travel. All the time he's begging us "Can we go here, can we stay at a hotel with a pool, can we go camping, I want to go to Chicago, I want to go to New York."

I have a feeling the kid will work for "Lonely Planet" or "Frommers" or something someday.

My upstairs tennant told me his niece moved out. He has no idea where to, and asked if I'd seen her. Last thing he knew she'd gone to Canada for a week with her boyfriend, and when he (the tennant) came home all her stuff was gone except for her bed.

I'm a little worried -- she's been depressed for a few months. Top that off with my tenant getting a new girlfriend... I hope the new girlfriend doesn't move in and be a complete psycho like his last one. The past year or so has been bliss.

But, on the other hand, he could end up moving out if they get serious... hmmm. Then I'd either have an apartment to rent or a whole new floor of my house for our family to move up into, and projects up the ying yang to do to merge the house back into a single family.

That's been my dream for years. When we picked the house out we knew if we stayed here that we'd spread to the upstairs. I have a visual in my mind of how I'd like it all to work out.

  • Three bedrooms upstairs, possibly two if we wanted them to be huge. The "master" bedroom would access the "master" bathroom which would be up there when the kitchen and bathroom upstairs are combined floorplan wise. Big nice jacuzzi bathtub... all the luxury of a house on MTV cribs but without the bling bling of excessive spending. I'm all about the nice bathroom but don't need gold plated fixtures. And the master bedroom would, of course, be the one that has the current door out to the upper deck, which we'd make bigger, because the potential for that kinda thing is up there.
  • Geoff's current bedroom as a formal dining room, or we'd keep it as another bedroom/playroom
  • Jessica's room returned back to it's original state of formal livingroom with the staircase going up to the second floor and lots and lots of built in bookshelves.
  • This area where I'm sitting, which used to be Clayton's kitchen, would be turned into another huge bathroom with the washer and dryer moved up here
  • Our bedroom would be the office/guestroom.
  • Our current bathroom off the kitchen, I'd gut and make a 1/2 bath with just the loo and the sink, and there would be our staircase to the basement... which this house does not have.

And life would rule. We'd have a four/five bedroom 2.5 bathroom house. Not Too Shabby.

Money to make the improvements down here has been tight enough. I don't know what the hell I'd do if given the option to do the full one family project on this place. I'm glad Doug's got a better paying job, and mine is okay in pay for part time... it could all work out and we'd have a hell of a friggin' house, I tell you what.

Dreaming, dreaming.... dreaming.

Ah well. Dishes. Shower. Bye to Doug. Maybe a movie. Maybe just blockbuster and the pick of the shelves for the boy. I am going to start skimcoating some of the walls in Jessica's room where Geoff has written on the walls in pen over the years. When we repaint the room the pen marks won't show. Stupid kid.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Geoff is a graduate

My sister was witness with us to one of the funniest events in our family history.

Geoff's commencement from Kindergarten featured his entire grade singing and acting in skits showing stuff they learned throughout this school year. It was the usual painfully cute stuff that only parents and immediate relatives of kids would possibly find cute or entertaining.

But any human coming into the chapel, even the most hardened "Kids Suck" kind of a human, would have found Geoff entertaining last night. He was off the hook. He decided that he wanted to make sure he sang, in his words, "loud enough for mom to hear."

Some might think I must be stone deeeef, or that I was sitting North a ways up in Exeter NH.

Geoff turned it up past 11. In his words, he "turned it up to 982." And it was hysterical. It didn't start out so loud, he sang the first two songs like all the other kids. But then, they did the "Number Rhumba." And I don't think I ever knew he liked numbers so much. The singing/screaming and the look on his face... combined for a spectacle of comedic proportions that few can compare to.

Doug and I were both laughing so hard we had tears rolling down our faces. And everyone else in the chapel was laughing too.

I've never been a proponent of camcordering all the stuff our kids do/say/sing/eat. We have a camcorder. It's in a closet. I'm not a big fan of sticking a machine in front of my face and taping... I take the words of writer Paul Thoreaux to heart and like to take the video or pictures with my mind, my brain, my memory.

But Damn, I'm SO askin' one of the moms I know for a copy of her tape if she's got Geoff prominently featured. It's priceless.

This is the only time I've ever wished for a camcorder at one of these things.

It was a very nice ceremony, and pizza afterwards was good.

Geoff receives his certificate and a gift from his teacher When the director (standing in the dress to the left) called his name, he jumped up and yelled "Woooohooooo!" and ran over to his
teacher without shaking the director's hand... everyone laughed, including the director. His teacher encouraged him to go back and shake her hand.

My smart lookin' little guy up on the hill, hanging out in his pickup truck

I call this one Ham and Cheese. Guess which one is the ham.

This morning I ran Jack up to the vet to get some shots and met a little tiny fluffmuffin of a toy terrier thingie named "Monkey," and I thought that was the funniest thing I've ever heard. She's seriously the size of my hand. Jack loved playing with her... and she loved being played with.

Jack was visibly nervous though, because normally he licks and nips and does puppy things. But he knew that he could swallow this one whole if he wasn't careful.

I explained the monkey reference thing to the vet and trainer, and they thought it was a great idea but couldn't believe I actually keep track of it.

What can I say? I'm a weirdass.

I didn't have baby Ben duties today. Dan and the family went to Sesame Place for the weekend, and to see the Red Sox play baseball. So instead I made an appointment with the prof I'm co-teaching a class with online this summer. He and I had a lot to go over, and he's incommunicado next week due to a family vacation so we had to meet today.

We had a great time... great meeting. Geoff played with CM's kids, and had a nice time. He didn't want to leave, especially because they had a large plastic guitar so that he could pretend his band, the Bacraders, were having a CD release party.

He told CM about his band and CD party, and when CM asked what the CD was called, Geoff replied "It's called 'We're Goin' to Hell,' by my band, the Bacraders." I thought CM was going to die laughing.

My son. Hot ticket as of late.

Linda took Jessica to NY with her today (thank you lee lee), and we'll get her back sometime next week. Doug's going to Florida for training for his new job, so Geoff and I will fly solo for a while. Before Doug leaves though, we play host to Aaron for an overnight on Saturday. Perhaps we'll do something different for a change, like drink some beer? Who knows.

While I'm solo mom-ing with Geoff, it brings me back to the last time I was solo mom-ing him. Before our trip cross country. I was thinking fond thoughts and memories of our trip to Utah, and then out of the blue I get email from Stacey-Ann from "nothing but love" reminiscing about her time there in exactly the same places. Nice.... I'd so love to go back to Capitol Reef and then over to Moab. Someday.

Anyway -- I'm incredibly wiped. Gonna get G-love ready for bed and start reading one of the four books for the class, so I know stuff, like I'm a professor and have a clue, eh? They're good books. I'm sure I'll be blogging about them. William Gibson, Douglas Coupland, Mary Shelley... it's all good.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Happy Blogaversary to me

Two years ago yesterday I said, Man, I think I've got stuff to write about so I think I will!" And I started this journal. Two years ago, I didn't think I'd still be doing this. Nor did I imagine I'd make friends through this. Nor did I think I'd inspire anyone else to write too. All those things have happened. Now if I could only get my husband to finally start his own journal, I would feel we've accomplished something here.

Anyway -- I've noticed in the last three months that my "hits" counter has doubled. I'm sure that doubling is totally Andi hitting my site every day and reading through my entire archives. She paid me a great compliment today and said I'm consistently funny and that makes me feel purdy good y'all. So thank you Andi.

Keep hitting the site. One day I'll break 100 hits and I'll just be beside myself with joy. It's the little things, ya know?

I got two "stranger" emails yesterday, which is something that doesn't happen often and never happens on the same day.

One was in reference our October Geocaching trip in my hometown of Huntington NY. The writer found our kicking the Walt Whitman poem stone and yelling Homer Simpson's "I hate you Walt Freakin' Whitman! Leaves of Grass my ASS!" funny, and regaled me with a story of a trip he took to an historic location that had three rangers manning it (one for each of the three people in their visiting party) and their overt eagerness to share the life story of this historical figure made them think of many "Myth of Jebidiah Springfield" episode quotes. I had a good laugh. A noble spirit indeed.

The other email was from someone who found my pictures through a search on hydrangias, and he wanted to know why I swear so much in my writing.

Part of me was indeed tempted to spew forth a response laden with a litany of colorful words... and the nicer part of me prevailed.

I pretty much explained to the guy what I've said here many times before. It's my site, I'll talk here how I wish. I'm not a newspaper columnist, I publish for no one but me. The internet is a big place and I'm sure there are other sites that use less profanity than I use here so maybe go read them, or, get over it and enjoy your visit.

I also noted that I swear a lot less these days (well, except for my recent journey into the joys of the word "Asshat" which I still find ever so entertaining) and that we are all works in progress.

He hasn't written back, but I hope he goes through the site and comes away with something that makes him laugh or smile.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Father's Day Geocaching

I am so lame. Now that I have a job, I have no time to write. Even on days when it is cold an dreary and rainy, I don't sit down and commit to an entry. It isn't like I don't have things to say. I'm just never able to get in here long enough to write more than an email before someone needs me or I have to break up a fight.

For instance, right now it is 11:30pm. I should be sleeping. Instead I'm wide wide WIDE awake after doing three geocaches, the last of which was very challenging, and I'm sort of up and twitchy. Everyone else is asleep. Me, I'm drinking water and scratching bug bites, so I thought I'd sit down and tell you about our weekend.

Yesterday was a wash out. The kids wanted to go to the movies desperately but we can't afford even the most cursory "fun" expense until after Doug pulls down a few of his new fat paychecks. So instead we cleaned Geoff's room and did laundry. The kids did pretend pokemon battles until Jessica could no longer be a good sport (three hours of it and she was very done) and Geoff didn't like that idea so they had a battle royale of the sibling kind.

Doug put more spackle on the ceiling.

That was about the extent of our Saturday. The weather definitely made this place Camp No Fun. So when we saw the weather report today, we knew it was Camp Yes Fun. And we set out Geocaching.

First stop, Massabesic Ledges. Awesome. Gorgeous. Wonderful. Jaw Droppingly lovely.

Massabesic Lake is a lovely place east of Manchester, and the recreational boaters were out en force. We approached the cliff from the bottom and had to climb up, and it wasn't bad at all but it had Kinger very worried. The cache contents were sort of lame, but the being there and the view made it all worth while.

Second, we were off to one called Bearly Hidden. In the same lake area, by a pond called Tower Hill Pond. We had a hard time finding the parking but once we got there it was a quick and easy in and out. Jessica walked us right up to this one, and our geocachers eyes went straight to the hidey place. And sure enough -- there it was. Huzzah!

We spent a great deal of time here, climbing around the rocks and really digging the place. It was a beautiful little pond. Nice place to just go for a walk. A lot of mountain bikers though, and in the winter it looks like the home to a New Hampshire based snowmobiling mob, er, club.

Next we went to Norton Cemetery. Like last time when we cached with Xeraphas we had two parking choices. The shorter approach was once again all washed out. The road was impassable, so we hopped back into the truck and approached from the second option.

We were in a newly built residential neighborhood and parked next to an unfinished house that will soon be sold for close to $400,000. There are a ton of ATV trails behind this development, and a good 3/4 of a mile back into these woods there is a small abandoned cemetery. The cache page speaks of the family buried there as having been wiped out in a year from disease.

We lost the trail at one point, and looking at the GPS Doug went "as the crow flies" as much as the terrain would let us. The terrain rating on this site was a two, but by losing the trail we turned it into an eleven.

After close to an hour and no cache site in sight, Jessica started to lose it. I can't say as I blame her. We both wore our hiking sandals (hers are Columbia and mine are Ocean Pacific. See banner above) and when you're on the trails sandals are no problem. Off trail though and in the deep bushwhacking, sandals are sucky. And the bugs were very hungry. Very very hungry. Even with our 2000 percent DEET (hyperbole there folks) she was the hors d'ouvre, the entree, the desert and the after dinner mint for a nation of mosquitos.

The cache site showed us no headstones or markers that we could find. There was a giant rock, and we sat on it while Doug did the hunting. I pondered the clue and after a while yelled to him "It's in that tree stump."

And sure enough, there it was. I signed the log book with some snarky comment like "Now, Where's the Beer!?" and we hightailed it off the rock.

We heard ATV'ers and motorbikes, and then saw them whiz by just north, so there was the trail we should have come in on. We soon found that this cache would have been a cake walk if we had managed to stay with the trail. Trucking along, I looked down to my left at one point and lo and behold, there, sitting on a rock, was a can of Bud Light. Unopened. Unmolested. And it was cool to the touch. It had probably fallen out of one of the ATVs that run the trail, and ended up right there for God only knows how long.

But it was there, and it was ours. Doug and I enjoyed sharing this beer, which may have been there since the winter. We even let Geoff have a sip to wet his whistle (we were all so dehydrated, and the water was at the truck because I didn't feel like carrying it this time... duh). The crappy weather prevented this little trail beer from getting all warm and skunky. Huzzah for trail beer!

The point of all this is -- free beer is awesome. And God answers snarky comment prayers. We discovered that there were two possible trails to go in on once we got back to the truck, and the way out was far easier than the way in. Jessica and I walked through streams and flooded parts of the path with our sandals and just didn't care anymore. It felt so cold and so nice on our very sore feet. Tonight, we both used the hand held Homedics massager on each other's feet.

And I have to take the time here and give mad props to my daughter. A year ago, this hike would have resulted in her leaving the family. Or dying. She would have given up and died on this one. Instead, she maintained a steady whine through the last 1/4 of the hike and didn't start crying heartily until we were 400 feet from the location, instead of 1/2 a mile from the location.

I'm seeing great improvement in her abilities here folks. And, we had to go the same distance out as we did in, but once we were on the nice trails, she was all about kicking ass and hiking. And she was great. I gave her compliments, because to be honest, I would have started crying a lot sooner if I were here. And she didn't. She kept it together and kept going. She earned her "black death" squishy from the Slush Puppy store, and I'm crazy proud of her for doing what she did.

One of my biggest fears with my kids (well, with her really)is we're going to make them rebel in horrible ways. Especially with this outdoors thing. She is going to become one of these nature haters who lives in the city and doesn't care if she never sees another damn tree or hears another bird as long as she lives, as long as she's got cable and squishies. She'll go to raves (if those still are hella popular in 10 years) and she'll hang out with all her urban friends, indoors, with the windows shut. She will be so anti-hiking. She'll take cabs places. All the time. She will cease reading about marine biology and horses. She'll read Ginsburg and Kerouac, but she will never ever ever want that wanderlust to go "on the road" to enter her heart.

I know we're creating that rebel force.

My big hope (contrasted to that big fear) is that she won't. She'll continue to like going outdoors and hiking and going places. Especially now that she's getting better at it. I somehow doubt it. But I can hope.

So here's to Jessica. Best Geocacher Ever.

I'm really worried about Kinger tonight. All told I think the total hiking mileage we did with the 3 caches was about 4 or so miles. But that last cache was hard on us all, and he rock climbed, and he kicked ass. He's very sore. He can't get up when he's on the hardwood floor. I almost had to help him but he managed. He didn't want to go out and pee for his before bed walkabout. He stood on the porch and waited for Jack.

Jack could go out right now and do all four or more miles of what we did today, right now. He's all set. He's healed amazingly from the accident a month ago... but he'll sleep really well tonight.

Alright... so I wanted to get sleepy and less jacked up, and I am. Tomorrow should be fun. It is my boss' birthday and I suggested we all go out for lunch. I'm going to stop and get her a card on my way in. Yes, I'm a suck up and a brown nose.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Birthday Fun

Earlier in the week we phoned some Jessie-friends and invited them to come with us to go out to the Aquarium and to the IMAX movie.

All four invitees were happy to come.

There were at least two others we would have liked to have taken, but there was just so much room in the truck. I feel bad about excluding one girl, but hopefully she won't notice. The kids had a half day yesterday for the end of school, so I had lunch with her at home and went over her report card (very good). Yesterday was also the day I was supposed to attend a web conference with professor MF, but the hotel's internet connection crashed and burned yesterday morning, so I worked through the period of time I should have been presenting on line, and didn't have to participate. So I got to skip work early because I'd budgeted my time this week to eat up at least an hour for the conference (excellent!). I got home, changed, and we rounded up the troops and headed to Prince Pizza on Rte 1 in Saugus.

We'd never been there. The pizza was okay, the service was hectic and the place was mobbed. I doubt I'd go back, but it was a fun place for the kids and we were in and out of there in no time. We didn't want to be late for the IMAX you know.

We got down to the Aquarium, parked and had 40 minutes to goof off and hang out checking out the sea lions in their big swimmy display before the show. The Aquarium was rented out for a private function, so we couldn't even go into the gift shop, which was a total bummer. The girls were a bit whiney about that, like girls can be. We got them through the waiting time by walking around the building and checking out the harbor.

Then it was movie time.


First of all -- if you live in the Boston area, you have no excuse. Go to the New England Aquarium and see one of their 3D movie presentations at the Simons IMAX Theatre. It is very affordable, and only about an hour long. So it won't chew up your entire day.

I highly recommend it.

Back in the 70s and 80s when people tried to do 3D stuff, it was good but not... mind blowingly good. The movie we went to see last night, Ocean Wonderland, really was 3D perfection. All the kids went kooky and Jessica especially was annoyingly trying to grab stuff as it swam towards her. I wanted to thwack her... but it was her birthday so I let her behave idiotically. Quality wise, I was truly impressed.

Content wise, I wish environmental documentary makers a would stop beating us the hell over the head with their message of imminent global death.

I mean, Do NOT get me wrong here -- I'm all for cleaning our shit up and making it so we are good stewards of our great bounty, and we make a difference and leave a living legacy instead of a watery death hole for our children's children.

But do we have to constantly be told that we suck and it's all our fault and everything is going to be poisoned and dead within 20 years? The sea turtle swimming around telling us that it's a shame this particular coral reef died because trees were cut down in the United States was pretty much what pissed me off the most. Please. I get it. I just want to see some 3D stuff now shut up!

I would like for learning about the earth and conservation to return to a more educational and less reactionary message. I recall being in fifth grade. We learned all about trees and oceans and soil and stuff, and about pollution and our impact on the planet. But I do not remember being guilted by EVERY single science/nature program I saw. There was science FACT, and then there was ECOLOGY. We learned both. We could see a movie about coral reefs that wasn't constantly telling us "This is going to be dead in 10 minutes unless you change your life!"

And cartoons, and Disney movies, and EVERYthing directed at kids in the guise of teaching them stuff is constantly veiled in this burkah of environmental demise.

Does anyone else notice this?

I mean, what should I expect -- the movie last night was produced by the United Nations Environment Programme, so of course they are going to agenda-ize the production... but for once can someone please show me a nice ocean movie with happy dolphins and sea lions and fish and stuff who are just doing their thing, and not all "oh we're doomed because of YOU" and in my face about it.

There's a limit to the amount of preaching a person can take before they rebel.

Think of children who are raised in really strict religious households -- don't most of them wig the hell out and get their noses pierced and start smoking and sniffing glue? Or they go on The Real World and get all freaked out?

I'm not saying I'll do the environmental equivalent of such and go dump raw sewage in the nearest harbor, all I'm saying is enough. We get it. Now show me a happy damn fish!


Getting out of Boston was interesting. I missed a turn to get onto 93 and had to back track into the Financial District and then onto 93 at the entrance of the Liberty Tunnel. While trying to drive to the tunnel, the girls all decided to sing.

And they sang loudly and out the windows - God Bless America, This land is your land, a bunch of crazy crap they learned in choir and second grade. They even sang a song about Mobius Strips. I mean, who learns songs about Mobius Strips?! What incredible NERDS!!!!

And it was lots of fun, but they were friggin loud and jacked up on end of school and sugar sugar sugar (I let them buy shitloads of snacky sweeties at the IMAX concession stand).

I fell into bed exhausted last night. It was a great day. And I think that she really enjoyed herself, the queen for a day.

And my husband bought her an Iron Chef book the other day... what birthday in this family is complete without a Food Network publication? None.

Today was Doug's last day in the world of education. He begins his new job on June 20th. He blew off the end of year luncheon to hang out with me and have lunch, and that was a very sweet thing.

Geoff gets his cast off tomorrow... we hope. I want them to X-ray the arm first before taking the cast off. My cousin's son broke his arm a few weeks before Geoff broke his. They took the cast off and then re-X-rayed the arm... only to find out it wasn't healed. So they had to get another cast and it took forever and blah blah blah.

I'd much rather they X-ray first and I'll have Doug insist upon that. No way we're gonna sit around and wait for them to put another cast on. Geoff will FREAK too. He wants that cast off and off NOW... so if it comes off and they have to put a new one on, it ain't gonna be purdy.

Alright -- I gotta jet. More later.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Fridge Day!

It is currently 1pm. I am home at my house, awaiting the fridgeguys. I have a huge sign on the front door directing them to the side/kitchen/main entrance (the front door is a door that leads into Jessie's room, and not a main thoroughfare). My dogs are asleep on the floor in the kitchen, confused by the relocated old fridge and the gaping ripped somewhat symmetrically aligned drywall gouging that was done to make way for the new fridge. Geoff had a field day yesterday once Doug had moved the fridge and made the big hole. He felt it was his own secret superhero escape path to his room (the fridge is blocking his doorway, and only he fits through the opening now).

This morning I phoned ahead to find out the delivery time. The guy has us down for "noon to 3," for our window. So lucky my boss is all cool and Thursday is my super slow day at work. I left the office at 11:50 in order to get back here right on time, heaven forbid I not be here and they actually arrive at noon. I mopped the kitchen floor, removed all of the remaining items from the body of the fridge that didn't need to be kept super cold (ie the non-dairy, the leafy veggies and fruit, the really really really nasty old can of peaches!) and I threw out anything that was not going to take residence in the new fridge.

I have unplugged the fridge, the items that are being kept at fridge temp up in the freezer compartment are safe and cool until the guys get here. And I am waiting for my lunch to finish cooking.

Here's a lesson for you -- I typed out a great big huge entry here, and neglected at some point in the last half hour to hit save.

My PC crashed, and I lost the whole thing. Essentially, I suck. And I don't have the energy to retype and say what I was in the process of saying. I'll try and bring my defeated self to restate the musings at some other point.

The guys still aren't here. I need to eat my lunch. Doug just called and said some really funny things, he's always good for getting me to laugh ass.

I will however leave you with this. The other night we watched "Keen Eddie" which is a new series on FOX. We really enjoyed it. NY cop goes to London, cultural absurdities abound.

It had the look and feel of a Guy Ritchie production, and really made us laugh. Lots of good British humor, with a kind of Bruce Willis-esque NY cop with some 'tude.

And a dog who shags cats.

Anyway -- try and catch it. Seems like it will be a good program, even if it is a tad formulaic.

Alright -- I'm going to do some more dishes while I wait for these guys. More on the fridge later, we hope!

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Knock Knock, Who's There?, You're fired!

So don't panic if you read the title. I'm not fired. You all know Doug went and got fired the other day. And I was in an online painful poke me in the eye with burning hot sticks training class this morning when I get email from Linda saying "I just got a phone call. I'm fired."

I was all like Kyle's mom. "Wha wha whaaaaat!!!???"

Essentially she'd had a fight with him last week. She called in sick yesterday and today. They called her up and fired her. I asked her the reason. Her boss states that it is because of her recurrent absences causing the project they're working on to not be working.

Considering it sounds as if the project wouldn't be working at all even if she worked night and day and sleep there. She read her employee manual, and each of the levels of "protocol" that they are supposed to do (verbal warning, written warning, counseling, dismissal) were never done prior to her being fired, I'd say she's going to go in there tomorrow and give them hell. She doesn't want her job back, but she feels she is unfairly dismissed and wants HR to know what happened. I talked extensively with my boss and with A... they feel she has a case for unemployment and I know she should fight for it if they give her a ration in a bucket.

Wish her luck. Hopefully she can get unemployment. And this could turn out to be the Summer of Linda. We shall see.

Monkey references are coming 2fast, 2furious if you ask me. Sunday was a monkey filled day, and Monday Andi at Worst Weblog Ever (she's my new hero, ya know) posted a link to 100 monkeys, a website all about monkeys, with gobs of wicked cool monkey swag. Holy crap it's awesome.

She also informed me that she bought a monkey pocketbook at WalMart. How damn lovely is THAT!

So my little dip in the amount of monkey sightings has rebounded. Either feast of famine... either one monkey or a herd. Can't escape them.

And it isn't even like I'm actively HUNTING for monkeys. These are casual observances of monkeys. Mr Garfield found some good ones over the weekend in the funny pages. How apropooop. If he had his own mad crazy weblog, he could share them with you (I accidentally deleted his email. But they weren't my sightings to share, even if they were very funny).

For the anniversary we all ended up going out for Chinese food. All of us got to go because Doug was so engrossed with the paperwork for his new job and we didn't confirm our need with Carrie to come and sit. We figured it'd be a lot easier, and it's a family affair. Everyone was on good behavior, and there was icecream at the end. And when we got home, there was more mother nature in our yard.

Earlier in the day on Sunday, if you recall, there was a cool toad to play with. This time, we came home to a turtle trying to scale our steps. Obviously lost on his/her way to the creek.

It was really cool, and the dogs got a kick out of sniffing it. And sniffing it we all did -- this bastard was STIN-KA-LIC-IOUS. Damn!

Doug sent him back towards the creek and I guess that's the way it wandered, cause we've not seen it since.

And also in the other day's entry I asked you if you had independent bands that you wanted to plug. So far only Bree has written with hers. She says the Dropkick Murphys and the Confidence Men, both of which I will be checking out. Local independent air monsters WFNX are often touting both bands, but they never PLAY them (go figure). I know my sister, if she were not thinking of ways to get back on her former employer, would tout the band Stage from NY. She knows those guys. I have some of their MP3s and they're cool.

Any others? Send 'em in.

Alrighty then. Big adventures, I tells ya. Well, I have to get Geoff out of the tub and ready for bed. My daughter and husband are enjoying their shared hatred of what's on FOX tonight and I can hear them laughing and scoffing at top volume, especially my daughter. I should go join them, because I'm all about the mockery. But I noticed something -- first they had American Idol and you couldn't be above a certain age to be on it. Then this, where you have to be fresh out of pull-ups in order to participate. And next, I've seen they're introducing a Seniors version, where you have to be over 55.

Now will someone please tell me when my girl Taunia's age group is gonna git a fightin' chance to get up there to diva? I mean, fo real. Foh-Ree-eel. Between 30 and 55 is a great big age group full of talent. Gah.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

It is Pouring Out....

Twelve years ago today that was not the case. The only thing that was falling from the sky was a heavy rain pine pollen, which got in Doug's eyes and makes him look rather red-lidded in our wedding portraits.

Today, however, it is just plain pourin' down like freakin' mad. So far today I've not had a most romantic or exciting anniversary. I slept until 11am. My bedroom becomes a sensory deprivation chamber of sorts with the pouring down rain. The rain pounds on the roof, and the sound blocks all other noises from the rest of the universe right out.

I had mind-altering and very disturbing dreams and visions. I had a horrible dream about a dog biting me on the arm in front of my office building, at night, in the middle of traffic, in the pouring rain.

I had a very strange dream about living in an apartment building in a very big city, and the apartment across the street (these were skyscraper kind of apartments, not like a brownstone... big big buildings with thousands of people in them) was occupied by a pair of serious exhibitionists with no regard for pulling down the shade when "doin' it" as Kelso would say.

I had four roommates, all male, and I'd come home from work and the guys would be sitting in the windows, pulled back just far enough from the glass so the other couple couldn't see them watching, and they'd have popcorn and beer.

It was like living in a porno store. Go figure.

And I think the sad part of the dream is I had four male roommates, none interested in "doin' it" with me.

I wake up from dreams really confused sometimes. I wonder "where the hell did THAT come from?" and I analyze what's going on in my life or work or what I watched on TV looking for a connection. What dreams may come usually are just of their own making.

But I do feel somewhat skeeved out and disoriented after them. Not fun. I like waking up refreshed and ready for the day instead of wondering where that guy with the arm growing out of his forehead trying to feed himself soggy pizza is coming from.

Mr. Garfield emailed me today to say he's sad that my monkey sighting streak was over, but I don't count it as over. Stacey had emailed me and I got the email late, so in my cheating mind, it sure as hell continues.

And it's funny that some days are drenched with monkey, and others I get barely a reference. Saturday, for instance, was a monkey filled day. Everywhere I looked on Saturday it was monkey this, gorilla that... And this morning I wasn't out of bed 2 minutes when Jessie and Geoffrey were fighting on the couch and she called him "Chimprey." I even found another blog referencing monkeys in the title. That will be my next aortal.

Mr. Garfield also reports that his sister in Connecticut is logging her simian sightings as well and finds that she's seeing at least once a day.

I'm tellin' ya. It's hard to avoid them there primates.

Today I discovered a toad on the walkway on the way down to the basement. I stood outside with the umbrella as the kids and the dogs had a field day watching it try to hop around. Jack was especially entertained and chased the poor thing around the yard. I'm shocked that he didn't try to eat it, pick it up with his teeth or even bark at it.

Geoff is saying "C'mere little fella, it's okay" and trying to pick it up. When it jumps, so does he, screaming. This went on for about 10 tries until he turned to me and said "you pick him up, mom!" My hands were full, with camera and umbrella, but I tried. The stinkin' thing jumped away into the grass and I wasn't going to give chase. That was Jack's job. The picture to the right is the top of Jack's head, nose aimed toward the ready to leap toad. We all came inside after Jack lost track of the thing in the dog pen.

Yesterday was a geocaching day. We figured we'd get a couple in before the rain hit, and a couple we did.

We went to Gloucester to do one of the two caches in Dogtown, an area we'd heard a lot about but never had visited.

It is town land owned between Gloucester and Rockport. There was a settlement there in the 1800s, but the ground was too rocky to cultivate for farming, and was too far from the ports to encourage anyone to live out there, so the area was abandoned. There are dozens of rockwalls and foundations of homes there, as well as an area with dozens of boulders with one-word things engraved on them. We were nowhere near that area, and there's another cache that involves all of them, it's a big puzzle and we'll do that one with Ian Eagle Eyes some other day.

The cache is called "Whale Jaw Hollow" and there's a rock that looks like a big whale jaw there, but we never saw it. We were way in the wrong area coming in, and had to bushwhack back to the area where the cache actually was. We totally missed a right turn pathway, it was hard going for a while.

We found the geocache we sought, got bit by mosquitos, got a Motley Crue tape (insert secret devil sign here) and had a great time getting in and out.

The second cache was much harder and without Doug's tenacity we never would have found it. This one is in Ravenswood Park, a beautiful Trustees of the Reservations property.

It was a "micro" cache, which meant that there was a damn good chance we'd be out of luck finding it, what out in the woods and all. Tiny little film canisters hidden in 9 acres of land... they aren't easy to spot.

I won't give away any secrets here, but if you go to do "Nevermore" do email me and let me know and I'll give you one important pointer. Because it's a microcache, you can't put anything big inside. I took out a Dilbert comic with Catbert the Evil HR director (now that I'm in HR I can lay claim to such things and feel I know what it means truly to be evil and in HR) and I inserted a little grey furry mouse. He fit just right, and I have a feeling he'll be there for quite some time. This cache isn't often visited.

We decided to keep walking on the trail rather than go back the way we came. It turned out to be a beautiful hike, but a lot longer than we intended. We heard two owls talking to one another at one point -- their voices echoing in the ghostly quiet, the thick greens and browns darkening the forest. We stood right underneath one tree where one of them was, and Geoff pretended to be an owl for a while, echoing their calls. It was cute at first... then it started to incredibly irritate me. God bless my kids, I tell you what.

It was starting to get cloudy we were still a half mile away from the truck when the showers started. I was sure we were going to get completely drenched and Geoff's cast would be totally ruined. Our luck held, and it didn't start pouring until we got home. Plus, the tree cover was very heavy and kept a lot of the rain from reaching us. We covered a lot of ground in that reservation, and there is still another whole part of the area to investigate. It was really nice.

It was really nice until I dropped a wad of money somewhere in the woods. That's right boys and girls -- I had about 28 bucks in my pocket at the 2nd cache, and I pulled the trail map out of the same pocket at one point to consult how far we were from the truck, and I dropped the money. No one in my family saw it fall (I was ahead of them) so it's still out there.

If you find it, let me know.

We discovered our loss when we stopped to get slush puppies for the kids on the way home. I felt like a total shit, and Geoff cried and cried because he didn't get a slushy. This is the first time something like that has ever happened to me. I'm usually really good with not dropping cash in forests or on city streets.

Even though we're poorer in the wallet, the dogs, the kids, and the grownups all slept wonderfully last night. It was a very good day.

From the Mailbag:

The Avril things continue. Andi found a website dedicated the world rising up in an "Avrilution," which cracked my shit up, like she's Che Guevara or some shit.

I am not sure if it is a pro-Avril site or an Anti-Avril site. Sort of like the "Black people love us" webpage, the message of satire may be overwhelmed in my mind by the outright serious stance of this. Seeing as they want average and regular people who are just your regular musician types to get attention instead of the mass-marketed music out there, which Avril happens to be.

I'm getting mixed messages. There is no clear "marketing has created this monster and she must be stopped" agenda (the founder espouses his views in the Spin magazine content, which never got printed in Spin magazine, it got boiled down to a little splash on the page).

and Amy writes to me:

Hey, did I tell you that my sister and brother in law took the girls to see her in Lowell recently? The girls really wanted to see her, so P and M suffered through it. They said that there were LOTS of little kids there (in the requisite outfits), and her performance was less than stellar. That she basically just stood there. There were also two opening bands, one called "Gob", and my brother in law kept saying "I need a Gob-stopper!". Ha!

But as a musician, its more than just annoying or funny to see such slavish devotion to such crap. It speaks of the incredible power of marketing, the kind of rabid audience that only millions and millions of dollars can buy you. The same reason that Clay and Ruben, both decent - but not amazing - singers or performers, are now "celebrities". Its not about talent - its all marketing.

How does little ol' independent music stand any chance against that?

Steve from BNL also recently touched upon this in the BNLblog. They are both completely right ....

So all y'all need to get out there and support your favorite SOUNDING bands, and not just the bands that get marketed to you by Clear Channel Radio. Make it your mission. M'kay?

On the Avrilution site, please laugh as hard as I did at all the disclaimers like "Avril Levigne does not endorse this site."

Someone needs to create a fully and totally honest not in the least bit ironic website about stopping the complete marketing frenzy to create stars movement that is out there in the world. Avril may just be your average kid, but her celebrity status is based upon nothing more than the fact she wears clothes from Hot Topic and has nice hair and sneers well.

By the way, if you have a favorite band, email me and tell me about them and I will plug their shit like crazy (especially if I agree). I turned Tess on to some local independent musicians that I love, and she's way the hell up in Alaska. The power of communication in cyberspace is the only thing that can possibly compete with the marketing blitz of media giants. I swear that's the only way small and independent musicians can compete. Build a following and create their own buzz.

And on Johnny Cash, I got this from Faryn:

I have to agree on the whole Johnny Cash/"hurt" thing. I'm from Nashville and the NIN version was actually quite well played when it first came out (even though this city is overrun with country and Christian stations). It is not remarkable. It does not "crank my tractor". I'd much rather hear the song from Trent himself. Have you heard Mr. Cash's version of U2's "One"? Heard it once......hated it.

I never did intend really to say that south the mason/dixon all one could get was country or rap. Although my drive through South Carolina with my sister last year could be held as evidence to support that theory. Nashville is full of radio stations that play everything, it's quite the music mecca for many different genres. As for Mr. Cash's version of U2's "One," I have not yet heard it and don't wish to.

I actually have an MP3 cover version of U2's "One" that Clayton gave me. I guess some members of U2 and REM got together and did it, they called their little ensemble "Automatic Baby," taking from Automatic for the People and Achtung, Baby. The vocal by Michael Stipe is lovely, and the backing harmony by Mike Mills is fabulous. I highly recommend it instead of Mr. Cash's... even though I've never heard of it.

I think Johnny Cash's latest also falls into the it's popular by mass marketing philosophy. He may have been a legend in the first place, but this latest album is popular just by being pumped. Not because it's any good.

And Faryn, I love the crank my tractor line. Nice!

Doug is filling out all his paperwork for his new job, and I really need a side trip out to Target or Walmart for some things... sigh. With all this rain, I just don't even want to go out to the truck to get something I left on the front seat. I doubt we'll be going out anywhere tonight for dinner, even though Carrie said she'd babysit for us... I hate going somewhere in a weather mess. I'd rather go out another night and not worry about running my ass across a crowded parking lot in a nice dress and getting soaked by a passing car. It's easier to get a pizza delivered