Saturday, August 30, 2003

It's all about the geocaching...

Started on 8/29/03 at about 4pm
So, what's everyone doing for Labor Day Weekend?

We initially were going to go out to MDI, Bar Harbor, and recreate the havoc of July 4th weekend. But instead A is going to his parents in CT to see his brother and sister in law who are flying out this way from their West Coast home. A may stop here tonight on his way down, then again, he may breeze straight through. He's got his bike back on the road and is cruising down in style.

If the weather sucks on Monday, we'll probably stay here, and if he wants he's more than welcome to stop in and visit.

If the weather cooperates, Doug wants to do day trips this weekend and come home. Geoff wants to camp, so I will suggest we pitch the tent in the yard and perhaps burn some firewood in a fire circle (get some rocks, figure out a perfect spot) and make it an at-home camping trip.

And there is, of course, geocaching.

Check out this map from Geocaching's website of the state of Massachusetts:

Each of those dots is a cache. One year ago, there were about 1/3 the amount of caches out there. This is insane.

I suppose we could keep ourselves very very busy and do all those Worcester county caches!

Revisited 8/30/03 9pm
Well, we didn't make it to Worcester county, but three more of those little dots in the Billerica/Carlisle/Concord stretch were conquered by Team Screamapillar today. Jessie asked if she could bring a friend, and the friend of choice was not available, so I suggested another one, one who went to her birthday Aquarium trip and seems to be on the fringe/periphery of the group of friends. Jessie agreed.

Of all her friends, I thought she would get the most out of the GPS, the hunting, the finding and the seeking. The science of how geocaching works, the concepts of logging in to get coordinates, she knows what latitude and longitude mean... she was the perfect candidate.

While she is a tad weird, I know she and Jessie get along wonderfully. She makes Doug roll his eyes. She tells fibs or hyperbolae and Jessica nails her so she laughs and says "yeah, I was kidding, yeah." But she thought she could get away with a fib. So she did enjoy herself.

The first cache was pretty much 300 feet from the truck. In and out. I found it and took her picture, giving her mad props for her first cache ever. The second one was a quickie too, pretty much .15 away from the parking area. We deliberately took a longer walk so the dogs could get out and run. They were jonesing.

So our guest was totally enjoying herself... until the last cache.

We basically kicked her ass today, without intending to. See, I thought of all Jessie's friends she was one of the ones out riding her bike all day. She walks to the library all the time. I figured a 2 mile round trip 3 on a scale of 5 for terrain hike wouldn't wear her down. Having experienced Jessica on such trips, I know she can do it so I figured a kid who is more physically fit than her could definitely jump in there and take that hike. The way in to the site was great. .82 from the truck as the crow flies, but as the trails dictated it was more like 1.2 miles. Not bad. Very fun.

We left when we heard a couple peals of thunder (or advancing British Soldiers, depending on who you want to believe, me or Doug). A half mile back to the truck she started to break. "I can't make it back there," she tells me and Jessica, stopping in the middle of the trail, arms crossed. Shit... Meanwhile, a squadron of bloodsucking fiendish mosquitoes from the pits of hell were divebombing us, ignoring the fact we deet-ed ourselves and were supposed to be invisible to them.

Jessica started to show her true colors -- not just because I was standing there watching, but because it is who she really is. She became the trooper. The supporter. The leader friend.

I must say.

I was impressed by her behavior. Blown away even. Another friend might have started whining too "see I told you geocaching was too hard, meh meh meh!" Or blown a strand of hair up from her face and stomped ahead, unable to deal with the drama. But Jessica -- I swear to God. I don't give this girl enough credit. I am so gushing about her right now. Her strength, her abilities -- her amazing spirit. Gah. I'm speechless.

She offered to carry her friend's fanny pak, she started to try and think of ways to distract her friend from her discomfort as we still had .47 miles to walk, as the crow and mosquito fly. One of my favorite games to play with Jessie is "It could be worse" where we make up ridiculous things that could be happening to make this experience worse...

"It could be worse, it could be raining."
"It could be worse, a bear could be trying to eat us."
"It could be worse, we could be getting stung by yellow jackets!"
"It could be worse, it could start snowing and we're out here in shorts."

Her friend mustered a smile or two as we continued to walk but I knew that our little "It could be worse" game really only works for those who want to add to the sublime ridiculousness of playing the game to pass the time, and she didn't want to.

Her friend eventually said she needed to pee, climbed over a low stone wall, did the deed while Jessie and I stood with our backs to her swatting bugs. I then heard "thud" as she tripped coming back over the wall.

She twisted her foot, and we were still .37 from the truck. I had sudden recollections of Kinger walking a mile on what I thought was a broken leg and my stomach filled with rocks. She could walk but was very sore. Jessie told her that if Kinger could make it, so could she. I said, baby, if I, the big fat lady, can do this walk you can do it on one leg. And I offered to shoulder her burden. I let her lean on me and handed her the GPs so she could watch the tenths of mile drip away.

When we got to the last house before the trail began, she perked up and no longer needed my shoulder. By the time we were on the highway heading home, she and Jessie were playing handjive games and all was right with the world.

Tomorrow I do believe we're going to Mystic Seaport in CT. We've never been. And while it is an historic recreation and sure as hell we could go to Plimouth Plantation... dude, this is half as much money. I printed two geocaches close to the seaport museum. I don't know that we'll get to them, but hey -- may as well have them close by. Then we can say we've geocached in yet another state. Wooo.

Here are some pictures.

This first one was at Fawn Lake geocache. While we were looking for this cache, I let the girls do the "driving." I gave Jessie's friend the GPs and she was intently following the arrow, and getting frustrated when the tree cover interfered, showing us at 9 feet for a second, and 30 feet almost immediately after. I'd read the clue, so I knew where to look. I told her to get all Zen and the Art of Geocaching and take her eyes off the screen. Look with geocacher eyes. Grasshopper, ah so.

What doesn't look natural, what looks forced and out of place. Both girls snapped to attention when they saw the spot and they sprinted. And they were right.

While searching, Doug went over the ridge and found this chair. He carried it back over his head and brushed as many spiders and buggs off of it as he could. Tess, you never would have wanted to sit in this chair. Anyway, he sat in it for a while, and when we went to leave, it looked so weird sitting at the crossroads of the trail. Doug made a crack that it looked like the chair the devil would sit in if he were to be waiting at the crossroads in the woods.

So, this is the crossroads. Make a deal if you dare. Oh, sorry, he's stepped out. You'll have to wait.

Both girls after finding the cache. Even though I saw it first, I give them all the credit.

Kinger enjoying a swim in Bateman's Pond.

Disturbing the lilly pads and looking out onto the boathouse of the school across the way.

He didn't jump off the ledge to get to the water today. He followed Doug very nicely down the side of the ledges, down the trail, to the lowland, to the bottom, into the pond, and then adventured up, learning the cliff from bottom up... the right way.

Jessie with the Travel Bug we picked up. His name is Cartier. He's a Canadian guide dog for the blind.

I will have a very hard time getting this one out of her hands...

And notice that giant bugbite on her left cheek. We were quite the feast for the beasties.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

School Lunches, Sloppy Joe, Slop Sloppy Joe yeah.

I spoke too soon yesterday about the kids proudly foregoing school lunch in preference for ole ma's yummy sammitches.

Geoff had his lunch all packed and happy. He saw it was Pizza Day. Cardboard nasty assed pizza. So he made like he had no lunch. The lunch lady toldhim that's okay, he could charge it today because a lot of kids forget lunch money on the first day.

"Great! I'll pay ya later!" he enthusiastically says to her with a wave of his hand and a look over his shoulder as he beats hasty retreat... She asks him his name and class. He tells her a fake teacher name and his own name is "Sonic Hedgehog."

Now, the lunch lady, she ain't no fool. She be all married to Sloppy Joe, don'tcha know. They settled down, have a few kids now down in Lunch Lady Land. She knows who the boy is. She knows allllll the boy's tricks and he ain't even been in the bildin' three hours.

And tomorrow I have to pay for his lunch.

We'll devise some sort of plan where we'll review the lunch menu and decide the night before if we're sending or buying. Otherwise, that lunch ain't gonna get ate.

Anyway -- to answer all the burning questions, all the prayers and supplications on his behalf have paid off nicely, the boy did fine today.

We all got up nice and early, ate good breakfasts, put on nice clothing, got in the truck and drove over. Geoff confessed before we left that he didn't want to go to a new school and wanted to go back to Kindergarten to be with his old friends. I'd been waiting for weeks to hear him at least admit that out loud. His posturing and bravado in regards to "Kindergarten is for babies and my [old school name] sucks" was all a smokescreen. He was scared to go today, but we got him to make some cute faces and smile for the camera, and even forced poor Jessie to pose as well.

His teacher is a former special ed teacher from another elementary school in our district. She and I had a long talk on Monday night about discipline models, what to do when Geoff just gets up and walks away from something (she doesn't force, she lets them, and brings them back in when it's a more opportune time). She and I will speak whenever necessary (should he act up/badly in class) or just have a weekly progress report that I'll get on Fridays on him.

Keep praying. If you've kept Geoff in your prayers to this point, my expectations in yesterday's interview for him are very realistic. Mr. Gauthier told me he thinks I am being short sighted, but from where I sit and stand, I can only take Geoff as far as the end of each academic year in my wishes and dreams. Aiming further may just disappoint me and break my heart. I do believe the Gin Blossoms sang "If you don't expect too much from me you might not be let down," and I may be projecting some of that onto Geoff.

I want him to make it through this year unscathed and ready for next year. And the following year I will want the same thing. I want him to be successful, happy, and finish the project set before him, which each year will repeat. Lather, rinse, repeat. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Pray the Holy Spirit is with him, and that he learns to control that inner Incredible Hulk that he wants to unleash when angry and frustrated. Pray he learns to control that. Pray he can outgrow everything that society says he needs to be put on medication for. I don't think he needs meds. I think he can do it. With your help, with my help, with Doug's help, with his teachers' help, and with the help of God guiding his path, lighting his way... he can do it.

The best sign that this is a good year is he said he's going back tomorrow. Last year, after his first day of Kindergarten, I woke him up and told him that he had to get ready for school. He responded with "Kindergarten? Again! I went there YESTERDAY! I'm DONE with that!" and it was an uphill battle from there. If he hadn't had such great teachers and a small class environment, I don't think he would have made it through the year. As much as I love our public elementary school, I wish his little private Christian Kindergarten had a program up through third grade. I'd so keep him there at the expense. Yes I would.

Anyway. Here they are, Team Screamapillar's finest, off to school this morning. Many will get the print of the picture on the stairs. Jessie's got good rock star hair. She looks like she could be in Hanson or something.

I left work early today, around 4, to get home to the crowd and to hear the stories of the day. A nice boy named Zachary sits behind him. Jessie has two good friends in her class but the rest of them got split up. She was sad about that.

Jessie already had an hour's worth of homework, so I prepped dinner (chicken cordon bleu, yeah!) and we went geocaching.

We did four geocaches in the woods on the Atkinson/Plaistow/Hampstead NH town lines in the conservation lands. The caches were close together, and were very challenging. If the hider had put them out as a multi-cache this would have been the most challenging multi ever, but each location was its own cache, so our "body count" for lack of a less offensive term is up four instead of one.

I found three of the four caches, Doug found the last, but I eventually would have found it (cough) if I'da stuck with it. We got eaten alive, but had a ton of fun, and it felt great to get out there and cache wild and in the woods.

No dogs were injured in this excursion...

Four caches in one and a half hours. All told, a mile and a half hiked, some through very rough and unused territory (aka bushwhacking) and several handfuls of black raspberries consumed.

I love me some geocaching.

When we got home it was already 8pm. I rushed dinner into the oven, very happy that I'd prepped it all ahead, and it was ready by 8:45. Luckily all the homework was done, and all we had to do was watch a Blues Clues video for Geoff (we all enjoyed it, Old School Steve making Sock Puppets. Yo!) and we talked to the grandparents to let them know the day was good.

I'm off to bed now. It's been a day. And a night. And tomorrow will be another day. I have to remember to finish packing Jessie's lunch (she's opting to bring again. Huzzah for her!) and find out what Geoff wants to do for lunch, perhaps bring, but regardless, I have to pay for today's eatings. Or the lunch lady will sic Sloppy Joe on my aaaaaahhhhhhssss.

Monday, August 18, 2003

What to do when the kids are away

Things that theoretically can be done while the Children are away for a few days visiting with Grandma and grandpa in NY.

1. Sex
2. Geocaching after or before sex
3. Cleaning, organizing and purging of clothing that is too small for them
4. Sex after all the too-small clothing is put in bags and dropped off at the Salvation Army
5. Renting Movies
6. Renting Movies with the F word said often and loudly
7. Having Sex during the movies with the F word said often and loudly
8. Get up early for work and make it there ontime, even though we just had sex
9. Sex

Alright, you know I'm totally playing up the alone-ness of our kids being away. Both children were taken by my inlaws down to Connecticut, where they took the ferry over to the other side and were met by my parents. Due to lack of program and/or adult supervision, both kids needed to be somewhere. I tried to find a sitter here, but the ones I was contacted back by through the posting board at my college each needed a place to stay for the whole week. And that place is not here. We don't have a guest room or place for a nanny, so each of them needed turned down.

The sad thing is, I even posted that they needed to supply their own transportation and made no mention of a place to stay here. It was sort of inferred by each of the two ladies who responded.

I'll keep their email addresses, both seemed nice. If they get cars, who knows, perhaps I'll have willing sitters. God knows we don't have one at this time.

Everyone was up early today. My mother in law packed this morning and that took her the better part of an hour. Everyone else was ready and she was rushing around putting things into orderly compartments. Her style of packing is the total antithesis of my style. I throw shit in the suitcase. She puts her footsie stocking knee-hi thingies into ziplock bags. Whatever woman, cram that shit in and throw it in the trunk!

They hit the road 15 minutes later than they expected to, and 45 minutes earlier than Doug predicted. Nice. They made the ferry an hour early, and waited around for my mom. Not sure why they didn't call her from Bridgeport, perhaps they were pressed for time. Regardless, my parents and Doug's parents could use a cell phone.

I miss my kids. We had a lot of fun this weekend, when Geoff wasn't throwing hissy fits and headbutting my arm. It's amazing that during a fit of rage he now willingly sits down to argue about things, and I tell him pretty much why he's mistaken and why he needs to rethink his stance, and I win.

I shouldn't have to negotiate with a six year old, but it really is the only thing that works.

Case in point. We went to the Arnold Arboretum on Sunday. Apologies to Xeraphas and the retro-redhead, we were within blocks of both of their homes and didn't call and invite ourselves in to impose. With my inlaws here, we weren't sure what they'd be cool with.

Geoff sees all the trees and instantly starts thinking "It's Climbin' Time." No. I explain to him that an arboretum is pretty much a tree museum, that he must respect the trees. Grudgingly, he accepts this stance. Until we see some fat bitch sitting up in a Japanese Yew with her two little branch monkeys playing around. So, if she's up in a tree, it must be okay for GEOFF to scale the tree.

Upon reflection, I should have just let him climb the one branch. It looks as if this tree is sat upon often. But, there was a sign. Right in front of the everlovin' boughs of this stately creature, saying "Respect the Trees. Don't climb on them" or something nice to that effect. So I removed him.




fucking SHIT.

I shot the fat bitch a look, and she rolled her eyes like I'm some sort of liberal tree huggin' nature freak. I'm not totally, but man, I know that museum pieces aren't to be sat upon any more than I'd pull Whistler's Mother off the wall and paint a telephone or microwave into the background of the painting.

Geoff is making an unholy scene. Doug starts to reprimand him, but I want to take this one, because I started it with him in the explaining phases.

We go through the basics: 1. Just because someone else near you is making bad choices that break the rules does not mean you should. 2. Respect the damn trees, ferchrissake! Stay off of them here. You have trees in your yard you can climb. Climb at home. 3. Be a good steward. Be responsible for the gifts given. People worked really really hard to build the arboretum. It is a gift to us to enjoy and love. It is our responsibility to take care of it. When we had arrived near the Bussey gate, there was a discarded newspaper on the ground by a bench. I picked it up. I carried it all the way to the next trash can. I told Geoff, that was an example of being a good steward. I wanted for him to be a good steward too, and that meant taking care of the trees.

And here's where it gets interesting.

Explaining these concepts of stewardship to Geoff, he latches on to the element of responsibility and care and becomes the Tree Nazi... He chastises someone for having their dog off the leash because it disrespects the grass. He told me that Doug was going to go to hell for picking a leaf off of a tree. Doug found the leaf on the ground, but Geoff was convinced that Doug picked it off the tree, was a "bad steward" and hence was steeped in mortal sin and would plummet straight to the bowls of Hades to be poked and prodded by burning Black Oak limbs for the rest of eternity.

He jumped to the concept that not being a good steward was a sinful act. I didn't tell him that. I'm sure this is how basic rules of guidance turn into Talibanesque law. My son was out to right the wrongs being done to the bark and branch. He became crusader to the chlorophyl. Doug wanted him to feel some bark on a tree. He would have none of that tree touching! Don't touch it.


Doug is definately doomed in Geoff's mind.

Eventually he let go of his strict adherence to the laws and we enjoyed the rest of our walk. But man. It was a challenge. Step by step. A challenge.

Highlight of the day -- hawk in the park. I was waiting for King Dawdler as he poked around in the pouring rain, and a hawk flew down over my head and then coasted up the path, six feet off the ground, and only I saw him. Later, in another part of the park, the rest of our party spotted him in a tree, listening to Jessica's bird calling device that she picked up at the gift shop, his head cocked to one side, one foot up off the branch... waiting.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Camp no-fun

My inlaws should be here any second now. So this is a quick entry. I had the day off from Baby Ben, so Geoff (my son, not the DogSnotter) and I went to Kohl's to buy some school clothes, and went to Wendy's for lunch. We also cleaned the house, everything except the bedrooms. The place looks really okay and slightly orderly. I'm impressed. Geoff enjoyed using the swiffer on the kitchen floor. Didn't do a great job, and I had to do a ton of touching up, but you know what, he did it -- it kept him busy, and hell, that's all anyone needs, right?

[9:30am, 8/16/03]
We picked Jessie up from camp last night. She went to 4H camp, and there was this long long long long long ceremony at the closing where the camp director took time to recognize each of the 20 or more counselors at the camp, and then the counselors gave out the achievement awards to the campers who excelled at stuff during the week.

Geoff was rather well behaved, at times. At one point he chose to make burping and farting noises inside the lodge, so I yoinked him out of there and made him sit in time out at the foot of the totem pole. He then started screaming that the camp sucked, and singing Plankton's part of the Spongebob "Fun" song (F is for fire that burns down the whole town, U is for uranium bomb, N is for no survivors!!!") in a very very evil voice. And he told me he hated me and wanted a nuclear bomb to land on my head.


I couldn't laugh at him and think he was just acting out because he was bored. When you start with the "I hate you" crap with me and you're six, you're up the creek. I was none too happy with him. He was told that there would be no more dinosaurs in his life if he continued to spew forth vitriol at me (not in those words, of course) and that when he got home, away from the prying eyes of the parents at Camp Leslie, he'd have a date with a wooden spoon.

He shaped up. Temporarily. Later he ended up having a total hissy fit at the truck (I had chased him around the camp as he'd decided the ceremonies were concluded and it was time to go home). While one of the counselors played "Taps" on his trumpet to conclude the ceremony, Geoff screamed and threw a fit like a caged wildebeast for no one but me to hear (thank God).

He got yelled at and sent to bed when we got home. My father in law told Doug that Geoff didn't do anything too bad, but in the long and the short of it -- he did. I bet you 10,000,000 bucks that if Doug had done that when he was six, his father (mind you, thinks Geoffrey didn't do anythign too bad) would have let him have it.

It's amazing how grandparents change their parenting skills once they aren't the parents anymore.

Geoff came out of his bedroom a while after he'd been sent to bed and told me that he wasn't feeling too good because Jessica behaved well and he didn't behave the same. I thought that was pretty amazing. It didn't ocurr to me that he had some Jessie anxiety, envy, or whathaveyou. I asked him if he was jealous that she got to go to camp and he didn't and he nodded. I knew there was some envy there, some "Me Too"ness, and it's really hard for him to grasp the fact that he has to be 7 to go to camp, and that 6 year olds are too young. I told him to put his best effort towards doing a good job (note, I didn't say "next time act like Jessie" because I know for a fact she's a hard act to live up to, and I want him to just do his best, not necessarily to compete with her) and that we'd have a better day tomorrow.

It was not an easy Geoff evening.

This morning, he's entertaining everyone with his boundless knowledge of all dinosaurs, even knowing the periods they lived in, and is watching Jurassic park on the couch with Grandma.

Hopefully we'll have a great day in whatever we end up doing. We're still trying to decide. I need to get a shower -- so I should tie this up.

I just did, however, wish to mention that I am kind of jealous that we didn't have any part of the power outage. I would have liked Friday off of work. Oh wait, I did have Friday off of work.

My sister, on the other hand, was in hell. The poor thing.

I had no idea the scope of the power outage until Doug told me at about 9pm on Thursday night. I blame my mom -- on Wednesday she put an air conditioner in her window, on Thursday the power blows. Blame Canada? Nah, Blame Shirley! Tess, you're very very glad you weren't in NYC this past couple days. Whew!

Anyway -- that's it for here for now. More later

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Please Shave Your Back...

I had an interesting couple of days. Doug has been dropping me at work because our Passat broke. We dropped it off on Friday, and it was supposed to be done that day. Took them until Wednesday to complete the task. I'll outline all that later, but in short, for him to get to Hartford by 9:30am for meetings, I had to be to work at 7am. Which made for some interesting moments at work.

I got into the office and sat at my desk on Wednesday, and someone came in with a box for me that had just been dropped off by FedEx (delivery? at 7:05am? Jebus. That's service!) and he was wearing a red baggy basketball tanktop.

Dude was hairy. And I don't mean like Italian guy in a speedo at Old Orchard Beach Hairy. If you look up "hirsute" in the dictionary, there's a picture of this guy in this t-shirt. If I were to cast a movie of the Old Testament, I would say I'd found my Esau.

I do believe my gasp at the sight of him was not audible.

He smiled big and put the box at my desk.

"Had no idea you were in this early!" he quipped. I grunted "Aah, haven't had enough coffee yet have you?" His elbow goes up onto my filing cabinet. "I've been here since six. I like to come in very early in the summer time. I like to leave by 2, before the plant gets too hot," he scratches his hairy neck. "I let the boys work hard in the hot afternoon. It's hot out there!"

I smile big, nod, smile some more. "Um, erm yeah. It's awful hot in the plant. God bless you guys for being out there doing what you do."

"Yeah," he laughs. "Or devil take us for doing it!"

I didn't quite understand what that meant so I laughed along and shrugged, picked up my coffee and pretended to drink. He walked away.

Another office employee who is usually in the office very early on a regular basis, walks into my cube and says "That's one hairy motherfucker, ain't it. Damn hairyassed ape."

I was too shocked to laugh. This well dressed, very highly paid person is the king of propriety, very careful and selective with language. I think it shocked me more than anything has ever shocked me to hear this person say motherfucker. Wow.

So, philosophically speaking, I'm thinking that an all out waxing or shaving might have made this guy look less astonishingly simian to me. But, he still probably would have looked damn awful in that basketball shirt with his manboobs hanging around the sides and his very large flabby arms floating about.

See, there's something that I don't do.

I know for a fact wearing certain articles of clothing makes one very comfortable. Even though it's nice to air the pits, I do not wear sleeveless clothing. My arms are too fat, and no one needs to see my lack of muscle tone waving in the breeze. I do not wear tank tops. And even if I worked out in a manufacturing facility on a day where it is easily 97 degrees out, and in it's got to be pushing 130, I would wear a regular short sleeved T-shirt.

No one needs to look at certain things. I think someone could possibly grieve that as "creating a hostile and unsafe workplace," but to date no one has.

Top it off with the fact that A wasn't in yet, so I couldn't go tearing ass into her office to freak and overreact the way we girls do. "Dude! did you see him!!! Oh my Gaaaaawwwwddddd!!!!!"

I had to deal with it and process it all on my own. But, later in the morning at about 9am, I walked past a manufacturing meeting where customer service, R&D and some folks from the plant were at the roundtable discussing something, and there he was, in the middle of it all. With his hair.

I resisted the urge to run into A's office and start my overreaction. I just walked by and let it go.

About the car.

As I'd mentioned before our new used Passat had some problems. There was this front end squeak with the bushing/shock in the front passenger's side tire. So Doug made an appointment to have it fixed.

A few days later, the exhaust pipe became disengaged from the catalytic converter, which drowned out the squeaky noise from the bushing but also drowned out the ever-loving thoughts running through your head and caused people to turn and look at us as we drove down the street. It also caused my mother's car alarm to go off every time Doug started the car during the week she was here. So we called VW to have that added to the list of work.

Then, the thunderstorm shorted out the radio. We didn't call VW, because I figured I'd just tell them upon arrival.

I dropped the car off on Friday, thinking these three simple things would be fixed. Friday night arrives, they tell Doug that the car will be ready Saturday.

Saturday comes and we find out the car isn't ready, they don't have the right part for the exhaust and will have it done Monday, which started our Ride-Share program with him dropping me and Geoff off at our respective locations at half past Oh My God It Is Early thirty.

Monday? No part.

Tuesday? No monkey reference and no part so no car. We decided to go out to dinner Tuesday night, because we were all dressed nicely and figured it would be fun to do. We go to a restaurant, eat, and Geoff then pukes in the middle of the aisle. Right as this 20 or so year old girl gets served her food. She doesn't puke but she turns green.

I get Geoff out of the restaurant while Doug and the manager clean up. It's a red letter day. Doug is tempted to tell the aforementioned 20something and her date "Do yourself a favor guys, Don't Have Kids."

We finally got the car on Wednesday. We went out to eat again. "Are you sure you want to risk that?" I asked Doug, recalling Geoff the night before. He laughs. Geoff won't throw up pizza!

And he didn't. Life was good. We have our car back. God is in his heaven and all is right with the world. What a friggin' ordeal though. Gah. I told Doug that we are SO not using this VW dealer's service center again. I was not happy with Doug for going down to this dealer instead of going to a dealer that he forgot we know (YEO VW in Amesbury). Dave said he'd take care of us, but Doug looked at his inventory on line and didn't see the car he wanted. He found the car he wanted in the inventory at the other dealer, and this is what we get. Crap service and a crappy experience with this car. I hope it's all smooth sailing from here. I feel like saying to them that they can suck on the catalytic converter and take the damn thing back, but it's Doug's car. I'll blissfully drive my mofo bigass truck, thank you very much.

And speaking of the bigassed truck there are fruitflies in the truck. I couldn't figure out why. I went to the market, and decided to look under the back seat. It flips up for easy storage.

There's one of Geoff's two lunch bags there. I haven't seen it since Grandma was in town. I had a sinking feeling when I saw it there, and I lifted it up to see what the cause was.

I won't tell you, but suffice to say, the fruit flies were coming from the bag. The bag itself was a total loss (a nice little red thermo bag that he has had since he was 3). I pitched it in the trash when I got home (there was no exterior trash at the market for some reason. Probably too many people threw their kids' rotten lunches in them and they took them all away).

Now I have to go bug bomb the truck. Gah. If it isn't one thing it's another, right?

Finally tonight, lately I've been getting some "stranger" emails. I got one from a guy who found my pictures of hydrangeas but thought it was a shame I had such a trash mouth.

I wrote him back and told him that I was glad he liked my pictures, and that I'm sorry my language offended him, but that he didn't have to visit ever again, and don't steal my photos, and bugger off.

Another one was from a woman who said "Okay, I'm very interested in what you're doing here, but why?" I briefly explained blogging to her, I didn't hear back.

I got another email today from Bill, who said this (and I quote him without his permission, but it's such a nice email and made me feel really good):

I try to visit as many websites as I can and I enjoyed reading your website, both the contents and the design. I think you can learn a lot by going into cyber space and visiting with people. What they know, what they feel and what they think. Thanks and best regards, Bill

Thank you Bill. In a world of crazy people, myself included, it's nice to be appreciated. I hope you keep coming back, and you enjoy my contents.

Alright. That's all the contents for me today. I'm off to bed! Big day tomorrow -- Grandma Bonnie and Grampa Gary are coming to visit for the weekend. They'll be taking the kids with them on Monday down to the ferry in Connecticut, and the kids will be staying in NY for a week so I don't have to take a week off of work. Pray for my inlaws as they put up with Geoff for the car ride and the ferry ride. I know my mom can handle him once he's at her house, but Lord send your spirit to Gary and Bonnie to handle Geoff -- actually, send your spirit to GEOFF to behave and listen and not be completely off the hook on the boat. Gah. That kid wears me out just thinking about him!

Monday, August 11, 2003

Rock And/Or Roll - the Disgusting Gotes

This is a quick little entry, but I wanted to let you know that the Bacraders, Geoff's rock-n-roll band from a few months back has, very sadly, disbanded. But fear not fans of rock and or roll, Geoff is managing and promoting a new band. They are called "The Disgusting Goats."

the disgusting goatsHere is what Geoff wants me to tell you.

"The blue guy on the left. He's the singer. His name is Max Fudgey. [ed note: hint, see the microphone in his left hand and his larger, more prominent placement in the band photo]. The guy in the middle is the sax player. He is Hawaiian Kid. [note; he's smoking a pipe. But Geoff corrected himself and said that's his saxophone and he's "smokin'" on the sax]. The other guy is the trumpet player. His name is Jack Wilson. [Note: the trumpet hanging down on his left side. He's laid back, and gettin' ready to swing].

They have 9 CDs and 9 cassettes. There are more and more and more people in the band, because these three guys need more people behind them on saxophone, trumpet, violins, and drums.

They sound like "Ben Folds Five.""

Note they all have unbuttoned shirts, because that's what rock-n-roll is all about y'all. This cracks me up totally.

So for those of you wondering what happened to "The Geoff Geiger Project," and then the "Bacraders," here's what Geoff is up to now. He's no longer in the forefront of rock, the way he once was. He's producing and promoting, and he's out to let the world know that The Disgusting Goats will rock your world. Watch for the VH1 special, coming soon.

By the way, if you go to that link on "the Geoff Geiger Project," I just re-read the content in his "behind the music-esque" about the project page. I wrote that 3 years ago and it still makes me laugh. I'm so friggin' funny.

"Where are the cookies? Yeah, where are the cookies?"

This morning I was going over our finances in my head. We've had some cash flow problems in the last three months, due to Doug stopping one job, starting another, and the fact I spent about 6 months with no income once my unemployment trough ran dry.

I thought to myself, a gift from somewhere, somehow of about $1000 bucks would make sure that none of our current outgoing checks would bounce, I could pay off the balance due to Geoff's school for the remainder of his summer bills.

And maybe we would still have some extra clams to blow 100 on cheap booze and hookers! Note, there would be a lot more cheap booze purchased than actual hookers solicited.

In the mail today, a check from the US Treasury for $800. At the bottom it said "Tax Relief for American Families."

I never thought I'd say this outloud but "Thank You Uncle Dubya." It isn't quite the $1000 that I was imagining, but it sure as hell goes a long damn ass way in helping balance our checkbook and prevent the bouncings.

Now, perhaps if I just imagine bigger, like... I would love to pay off my house in one fell swoop, a great big fat check to my mortgage broker... and all the money that goes to paying the mortgage each month could go straight into college funds for my kids. Because, you know, we haven't saved a goddamn red pfennig for their higher ed. And that's concerning me greatly.

So? Karmic balance? Should I dare ask where that money would come from? Who on earth would just GIVE me 130k? I should be very careful what I ask for... it could mean someone's death. But I don't think any of my relatives would bequeath me that much dinero.

Anyway... it's nigh unto dinnertime. Geoff is wondering what's for supper. Doug's sleeping. I think pizza and Blockbuster may be in the cards tonight... what do you think?

Sunday, August 10, 2003

What a Day!

First, briefly -- Friday night after Geoff and I finished babysitting baby Ben, Doug came and picked us up and for a larf or guffaw we went over to the Salem Willows. Doug figured blowing up some aliens in an arcade game would be fun. That and pizza for dinner.

And, the musical monkeys are there.

I love the musical monkeys. I took this nice closeup one of the one with maracas -- they look like boobies and it always makes me laugh. And this guy looks kind of wicked, like he's thinking lascivious thoughts. Naughty Monkey!
Geoff and I can barely be seen in the reflection in back. Not quite Mirror Project material but we wer there for the monkeys, not the digital photography art opportunities, don'tchaknow...
If you've never seen the musical monkeys in action, it's hard to explain. Circa, oh, I don't know... 1950? these monkeys rock out to big band sound on record, and cost a dime to get their jive up. A couple of them are in ill repair, their heads look like they are going to go flying off, and I always feel a twinge of fear and guilt when I feed my dime in to get them started. But they totally crack my shit up.
Geoff and I had fun playing air hockey. An action shot here, the best one of the night. Jessica is in the way far back playing Tetris.
Doug fired up the guns to blast the crap out of the brain sucking zombies. He had quite a bit of fun at the Simpsons pinball game as well.

And here's a quick shot of the arcade as we were leaving. All the punk kids come after dark, so we ran frightened back to the truck.

Actually, Geoff melted down, so we knew a good thing had come to an abrupt end...

As for today...

As I mentioned in the 11am part of this entry, I knew a busy day awaited me. But, as my 90 day review rings true even in my homelife, organizational skills and preparation are not my strongest suits.

We had a gift to buy, laundry to wash and dry, and pack, and all kinds of other insanity to do before leaving the house. I barely got all Jessie's clothing dried and packed in time to rush out the door, and still think I probably should have packed one pair of long pants for her, but ... she'll live.

A tad harried, we left here at 1 and got caught in Red Sox game day traffic. So we got to the party fashionably late. But the hanging out on the patio and the Red Stripe beer combined with awesome cheffing up of chicken and sausages by Mr. Duncan himself made for a wicked pissah of a day. Chloe's birthday party was a smashing success.

Here are a few pictures.

Jessica got to hang out with Austin, and Austin got to chew up the plastic cup. Rock on, Austin!
Me and Bonnie girl hamming it up right before we had to speed off into the sunset!
What a great birthday cake!!!
Dig them crazy tasty bugs!
And isn't she just a doll?
Happy birthday babe!!! I love this kid!
The party goers all feasted and chatted, rocking the patio with uncompromising force.
Geoff serenaded Miss Chloe, and after we were all done singing, he shook her hand, said "Congratulations!" and walked away. She was confused.
Miss Brooke and cousin Chloe. Absolutely gorgeous darlings! And here's Geoff, after getting soaked in the wading pool. I think he looks astonishingly like my father in law right here... I gave him Billy Idol Hair, and he's saying "Oy, it's a noice day for a whoite weddin'"

The piece de resistance for me today was this awesome bottle top opener of a wicked evil cat. Check out those teeth!

I must have one of these! I must!!!

Anyway -- we left before I could see if Chloe loved my monkey gift (today's monkey reference, by the way) and rushed up to drop Jessie off at sleep over camp.

We made it there 15 minutes late, but the check-in lady hadn't closed up shop yet. And tonight, she's at camp. There's a kind of hush all over my house, tonight. All over my house... it is the kind of hush that means a sister has gone away to overnight camp, the boy has collapsed into bed after way too much fun and excitement, and Doug's reading and waiting for me to come to bed. So I'll finish this up.

I'm going to go brush teeth and look at me -- planning ahead, I'll make Geoff's lunch before bed tonight so that I don't have to burn 10 minutes tomorrow morning doing it.

Be proud of me. Really.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

About Gene Robinson

Religion discussion warning
For those of you who don't give a rat's pitoot, you can skip reading me today. Or, read on and ... maybe like it? Agree with it? Disagree with it? Your choice. If you choose to leave here, come back another day when I'm not so inclined to do something that I don't do very often here -- I want to talk about this man over here on the left. I want to talk about Religion and Homosexuality.

Oooh, Big Red Flag Issue! Well... This guy is another reason for me to smile because I'm affiliated with the Episcopalian Church.

He us the Rev. Gene Robinson, Bishop Coadjutor, New Hampshire.

For those of you who don't have any idea what's going on (I didn't thanks to this being TV free summer, until today), at the Episcopal Church General Convention 2003, the house of deputies voted to pass him up the chain to the house of bishops as their blessed and chosen candidate to be Bishop of New Hampshire when the current bishop retires in 2004. The house of bishops will vote at 2pm tomorrow.

Rev. Robinson would be the first openly gay Episcopal Bishop.

The AAC (Anglican American Council) opposed the move, and many lay representatives and clergy are afraid of him becoming Bishop, but he got 2/3 of the vote an only needed a majority. What are they afraid of? Well, that their parishoners (and their money) will leave... but what of it? Really. What of it. Let them go. There's a church for everyone out there, they can find another place of worship the way so many others move to places that are more in line with their personal world view.

I'm quite okay with it.

From what I've read about Rev. Robinson, he is a practitioner of faith. Open about who he is (gay, divorced, father of 2) and very active and giving, he stands in my mind as a symbol of what's good and right in people. Not people who are different. But just people.

I know the Bible has outright passages stating that a man cannot lie with a man and be without sin. It says that the ACT of homosexuality is a sin. It also says that women have to wear coverings over their heads, be quiet and supplicant to men at all times, and you can't have that porkroast you're enjoying right now. It also has dozens of other laws and rules which we as a species pretty much recognize were culturally based for the time the scriptures were being written (ie: no pork? Germs. Your husband dies, you have to marry his brother and no one else. Masturbation? HA! The sin of a Onan - man who didn't want to make a baby with his brother's wife even though the brother had passed on).

Personally, I don't care WHAT you do, hetero or homo, as long as you are faithful to whomever you are with, you don't bring strife into your bed by involving other bodies and hurting feelings, and you remain kind and true and loving to your partner, spouse, significant other, best friend, life partner, old man/lady and the kids you may have and the extended family you group into.

And I'll say this -- I apologize up front if I offend anyone of the Catholic faith by throwing this statement right here... I have kept this out of my journal for quite some time, but here it is:

I'd much rather have a big, fat, honest and caring fluffy poofter-man leading my flock than one who buggers the children behind the parents' backs and does so with the complicity of the head honcho of the organization AND the protection of the state government.

Yes I would.

So, rock on, Gene Robinson. A far better witness for the gospel than Paul Shanley ever was or could be.

I also think that's coverage of the conference has been interesting and fair. I have had no TV in the house (other than video tapes)

For more information about the Episcopal Church General Convention 2003, visit the website. By the way, I'm not saying that Episcopalians are more right with stuff than Catholics. Especially keep reading the content below and you'll see where I'm coming from.

I'm just saying that it is good and right to discuss, grow, include and share rather than banish, shame, and denounce. Our pastor read the opening conference comments by the "Primate" of the American Anglican Church (hee hee, Primate) Frank Griswold this morning. And I lift from the ENS webpage here to include what I think is the most poignant thing I've heard anyone say in recent history. Bold emphasis mine.

At this particular moment, it might be also be instructive to remember that we are inheritors of a theological tradition born out of conflict. The 16th century was a difficult time in which opposing theological points of view warred with one another. On the one hand there were the values of the Catholic tradition, and on the other the passions of zealous reformers. Each group was sure that the truth was theirs. However, in the context of common prayer, and a joint yielding to the yoke of Christ mediated by word and sacrament, these opposing points of view found the place of their reconciliation, and gave birth to the Anglican tradition. This was not because either won over the other, but because God graced them to step beyond their positions and recognize one another as brothers and sisters in the breaking of the bread. The genius of Anglicanism was to contain divergent and passionately held points of view. This capacity to contain difference within a context of common prayer is who we as Anglicans are called to be. And this is the charism we bring to this present moment.

These Anglican sensibilities are particularly needed in a world dominated by notions of winning or losing, yes or no, either/or. Unfortunately we are not immune to the ways of the world, and the thinking that so dominates our culture spills over into our community of faith. And yet, I deeply believe that having the mind of Christ means we are able to see reality not as either/or but as both/and. Both/and thinking is reflected in Christian orthodoxy at its best. Here I think of the classical doctrine of the nature of Christ established in the fifth century when heresies which held that Christ was either human or divine were overruled by a church council that chose the route of both/and, declaring Christ to be both fully human and fully divine. The logic of the heretics was overruled by the paradox of orthodoxy.

Of course, practically speaking: we will say yes or no on many matters over these next days. Some of them have the potential to be very divisive. Predictably, the topic of homosexuality has received the most media attention prior to our coming together, and has also been a focus of some of our internal life. I am very aware that there is a great deal of energy on the part of those with various views of the question. Some perceive this as an absolutely decisive moment, and the time for resolving all of the pertinent issues about homosexuality in the life of the church. Here I think it is important that we remind ourselves that the church is always, in some sense, becoming the church, and is continuing to grow toward maturity in Christ. Therefore, anything we do or decide is partial and incomplete, though we hope and pray that it reflects something of the truth into which the Holy Spirit is always seeking to guide us. My prayer is that this Convention will be part of a continuing process of discovery and growth.

Amen. Amen to that. Thank you. I've been surrounded by so many people for so long who believe they are 100% right in their faith. It's nice to hear someone say, hey, it's both/and, we're growing, we're changing, and anything we do is partial and incomplete. Instead of passing down edicts that sit for decades, and then when they change the edict (ie: Vatican II - lifted that ban on red meat, which was originally put in place so fishermen could get more business, not for any reason that Jesus WANTED people to eat fish on Friday. And even though the ban was lifted 3 decades ago, Catholics still don't eat meat on Friday by the droves. Why? Good question... )

Anyway, in case you're wondering, the Vatican is gearing up on it's campaign to ban gay marriage. This is the resolution recently voted on by the Episcopalians. I'm all for the blessing of union. For a long time I've held the idea that "marriage" as a word isn't what it is in the case of same-sex unions... I think that word in and of itself should remain assigned to hetero unions. That said, there is no reason in my mind why a similar legal and recognized union for same-sex couples can't exist... whatever name we want to slap on it.

Hey, while you're at it, Vatican -- legalize child rape. It's just as fair! Ban one, which prevents grownups from making educated loving decisions about how they'd like to spend their lives together, accept the other which victimizes the helpless. Makes a ton of sense. Sorry, sorry. Snarky. Mean. Forgive me. I've got a TON of Catholic friends. I've had some very clear and frank discussions with disinfrancised Catholics. To them I say, there's a church for you out there. Find it. If it's the Episcopal Church or a home church where you sit around, read scripture, eat bread and cheese, drink a bottle of wine and talk -- more power to you. Join in the communion in a place that serves you more comfortably. And if you're Catholic and continue to go to Catholic church and mass, well... work from within to fix the damage and my brothers and sisters -- I'm praying for the Holy Spirit to strengthen your walls. Just remember, you can't change the higher ups. And as long as they continue to allow abuse and neglect, sit upon shitloads of valuable property and assets, and tell YOU to give them more money to defend priests who rape (note -- not "gay" priests, but sick people)... then that's your choice. Good luck to you and God bless.

Wow. Where did all that come from. Again, apologies to any staunch Catholic readers in the midst, which I doubt I have but I'm open to hearing from you. I know Mr. Garfield will send me an email and tell me I'm being too hard on my brethren who kiss the ring, and I willingly accept the scourge of his electronic flogging.

Anyway -- I was going to write here today about Geoff's obsession with tombstones since our geocache last week to an historic cemetery, but you know what, I feel much better now for having put this out here. I talk way too much about my kids anyway, and I really wanted to say these things, and the conference gave me push.

Come what may.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Happy Birthday, "Mike!"

I have a very hard time keeping a secret.

I usually am busting out with giddiness just thinking about fun and exciting things, like surprise parties, which need to be kept on the QT, and to whom I can blab this under wraps information.

So I am incredibly proud of myself for not breathing a word in the weeks leading up to today...

As Milhouse says, "This guy. This is the guy!:

Yay! Happy birthday Michael!

A few weeks ago Jon emailed us and invited us to Michael's significant landmark big 30th birthday shindig. We accepted and I struggled for weeks as to what to get for a landmark birthday for someone I feel I know, but not totally, and somoene who is almost completely out of my demographic.

I mean, really now. What... a sweater from the Gap? A gift certificate to ... something? Some restaurant? He's already got the new Radiohead CD so that got shot in the foot. A gift certificate to Home Despot for all his sink replacement needs? Oh no, wait. He took care of that himself. And maybe just maybe Home Despot is a touch uninspired and impersonal, don't you think...

Geocaching then came to mind, especially after I pitched the idea of a geocaching related gift for him over to Jon and Jon gave his stamp of enthusiastic approval.

I thought of buying him all kinds of geocaching related swag from the online shop.

Then I thought it would be a more classy gift to give a family membership to the Trustees of the Reservations, an organization of which we are (proud) members. The TTOR buys/is gifted properties all over the state and has a few super swanky bed & breakfasts and some campgrounds in its jurisdiction, in addition to just general properties saved from development.

For geocaching, the maps and trail guides which they publish are great. And you top that off with super discounts at romantic get-aways, the invites to the wine & cheese gatherings AND a newsletter and it's the perfect gift.

So that sounded all fine and good and I realized while it was cool that it too was rather impersonal.

What's with me and wanting to give a PERSONAL gift. Shut up -- gift certificate to Amazon or B&N or something. But no. I'm struggling with this. Then, I get it -- I tell Doug I wanted to put a geocache out in the world for Michael, the way I did Doug's own Christmas present. And have him be the first finder, and that would be a cool gift.

Doug agrees.

Last Saturday we all went out and hid the thing, made it a multi-cache, totally got hot and sweaty and sticky and bug-bit and over tired. Jessie cried when we were almost done (but she stopped when she realized we were finally at the top of the hill) and all told I think it's a pretty nice geocache.

I know I liked putting it out there, and last week was just bursting to write about it here. I was so proud of us, all the fun we had finding the nooks and hidey places, the planning, the "how can we torture this guy and make him so work for this!" kind of discussions Doug and I had when placing the clues.

And I'm extra super proud of me for keeping it a secret.

I loved the look on his face when he opened it. I think he liked it.

Here's the link to the cache page -- and once he finds it I will put in the correct coordinates (right now the system coords are off the coast of Maine) so the rest of the world can go enjoy "Xeraphas Hill."

The party was fun -- Geoff was a little off the hook, way to excited combined with chocolate mousse cake made for a kooky ride home. The funny thing was that Michael's brother and mom seemed genuinely entertained by his burping at the table. We were, of course, aghast... but they thought (or so they lead me to believe) that he was a laugh riot. And part of the fun for Geoff is a willing audience. And he knew that they thought he was funny, so... fuel to the fire.

There were some very funny pictures taken, I think there's one of Jon with Geoff where Geoff's got the Spongebob hat on his chin. My camera batteries were close to dead, so I only got the good picture of Michael up at the top and this one of Jessie:

Backstory on the ... weirdness. Michael's brother took a Spongebob hat and placed it on a balloon, which in and of itself was pretty damn funny. Then, he realized that it could stand on it's own, upside down on the point of the hat. Well. After we stopped laughing at that, we foraged on to several experiments of "What can we stand this hat on?"

Subjects included Michael's poor grandma (who seems to have a great sense of humor or the patience of a saint, or both), the straw coming out of Nathan's soda, my head, the pepper shaker on the table and other Spongebob hats. Hence, Jessica here. What a riot.

We got home and needed to go for a geocache, so we went to do one of the ones from last week which resulted in our frustration. Found it with very little difficulty and moved on to another part of Andover for this one, and it's sister... but found we didn't have time for the second cache, and may have the coords messed up so we bailed on it and came home for dinner.

I did manage to take a picture that I'm rather fond of, and may do some stuff to it in photoshop and print it out.

I am a big fan of blackeyed susans, and I took this picture with the macro feature of my camera, so the lens is pretty much right up against that front flower. I love how the greens and yellows all came out in this.

Overall today I think I'm rather pleased with myself, I sound it, don't I? A nice change for someone who is usually D'oh-ing herself.

Anyway -- I'm rather tired, Geoff wore me out today. Caching energized me but now I'm feeling ready for the evening crash. Hopefully the weather will cooperate, there are two brand new caches within 5 miles of our house, so I want to get out there and get 'em! Grandma is here until Monday morning, so if she doesn't want to come maybe she can take Jessie somewhere. Oh, speaking of the Jessie again, she is still healing from her yellow jacket stings, the antibiotics that our doctor put her on have worked wonders on the infections. This is a good thing... if they still looked like they did 2 entries ago, she'd be in the hospital on an IV. Hurrah for antibiotics! She's still a little geocaching gun shy... I think she'll be reluctant to go until the fall, when things cool down and bees are slumbering.

Slumber. Sounds good to me.