Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Christmas is Over

Well, post-Christmas was fun. My inlaws got to sit and watch us play a lot of Playstation2... lucky for them. We got a bit obsessed with Simpsons Hit & Run. Damn Dr. Nick and his 30 escaped chimps! Damn him! (shakes fist at sky).

Friday I made Doug take his folks and Jessica out so I could tidy up a bit. The floor needed to be mopped and I just needed a break. I would have taken myself shopping at the mall to take advantage of the insane discounts and post-holiday sales, but really didn't have the energy to leave, or to put down the game controller.

We went out to see the Zoo Lights at the Stoneham Zoo Friday night after Doug brought the contingent back from Newburyport and Antiquingness. We enjoyed the zoo very much, not many animals were out, but the lights were nice and the kids enjoyed the merry-go-round. Jessica was a kind and loving big sister and went on the ride with Geoff. My mother in law isn't a winter gear kind of person, so she was bitterly cold in her light jacket... we made haste from the zoo and went out to dinner.

I've decided that I'm officially swearing off chain restaurants like Pizzeria Uno, Bertuccis, TGI Fridays, Bennegan's, Applebees, The 99, Chilis, Chi-Chi's, etc ad infinitum. Every single time we've tried to go to one of these "Tchotchkes" style restaurants with their flair buttons and crazy crap on the walls, it's been a 45 minute to one hour wait.

And let's be honest folks, the food ain't that great.

Sure, they give you SCADS of food -- enough to feed a small village all on one table. But the quality isn't that great. Be honest. And after the debacle of Hepititis A in Beaver County PA from allegedly shit-grown green chilis imported from Mexico (thank you NAFTA for 650 new cases of near death in one small town) I want to go somewhere that I can get to know the kitchen staff, know where they're getting their food from, learn how they prepare it and what their philosophies are. At all those chain places -- it's get it cheap and serve it fast so we can get more people in here to buy our sub-par cooking.

So I've decided that from hereonin I'm going to local family establishments. There is a great place in Georgetown called Cuffee Doles, and I've gotten to know the owners. They kick ass (if you live anywhere adjacent to I-95 north of Boston, go to Cuffee's. Exit 54B, Rte 133. Follow into Georgetown, Go straight at the light, Cuffee's is a couple miles ahead on your left.)

This time, we went to The Tap in Haverhill. We went there for my birthday, and they have a brand new owner and brew master.

The food is good, there was no wait, the staff is friendly and like a family (our waiter was walking around with a "Kick Me I'm Stupid" sign on his back that the hostess nailed him with. And we laughed and laughed).

They have live music on Friday and Saturday nights, usually Jazz and or Blues. Geoff wanted to watch the guitar player, who was performing a selection of jazzy and bluesy christmas covers.

We went and sat in the bar at a table. And the guy watched Geoff and smiled. Geoff was really enjoying him -- and after his song he said to Geoff "I recognize you... you're that kid who wanted a BB gun for Christmas!"

And everyone laughed. Geoff said "Nooooo!!!!" because he gets this ALL the time. Ever since he was wee little and he got glasses.

In looking at that picture there, I'm AMAZED at how much better his left eye is these days. Look how it's totally turned in there. Holy shit. I haven't looked at that picture in a long time. I just happened to remember that I did it one year, and have had it on my drive forever.

So a guy at the bar said "You'll shoot your eye out!" and people were laughing, and Geoff luckily laughed on with them instead of getting belligerent and yelling "I'm not Ralphie I'm Sonic!" which is what he does at home.

And the guitar guy played a song just for Geoff, and wished him all the luck in the future for gettin' that BB gun one of these days.

What fun.

Saturday Doug went to work to make up for not working on Friday (he has no vacation time right now, so he simply moved his schedule around with blessing, and seeing as his folks would be hitting the highway he figured it'd be as good a day as any to work.

I played Playstation with the kids all day, forgetting there was Saturday Football, so I missed the Patriots complete spanking of revenge on the Bills. As Homer says... D'oh.

Sunday we got up extra early and got in the car, drove down to New London Connecticut to take the kids across Long Island Sound to give them to my parents. I paid a babysitter for three days last week so I could work -- there was no way I could do it again this week. What's the point in working?

So they get to go to hang out at Grandmas. And we had a lovely ride on the ferry -- it seemed so much faster than 90 minutes. I'm wondering why we don't do this more often? We did Mad Libs on the boat, and the girl sitting across from us laughed and laughed at us when the kids were giving me their words.

I miss them, but ... I don't. Know what I mean? Of course you do.

We got home just in time to see the Arizona Cardinals pull off an improbable win and kick Green Bay into the playoffs. I mean seriously -- fourth and 25??? They went for it -- it paid off. Holy crap. I thought I was going to die.

And then I went to bed.

Today I got to work extra hours! I stayed until almost 5pm which is impossibly late for me seeing as I normally am out of there at 3pm at the latest. I worked my ass off.

Knowing that at 2:45 there's no excuse for me not to start a project really makes a difference in my day.

Tonight we're meeting Ben-n-Amy, Brian and Dan for a pool night. They're all on vacation this week as the college is closed for vacation. Stupid jerks enjoying time off! While I indeed have to go to work tomorrow that doesn't mean we can't go out and have fun. We're going to River City Billiards in Haverhill (again with Haverhill) and my guess is it'll be a light crowd tonight. They have acoustic music on Monday nights, instead of the DJ or Band thing they have on weekends which makes the place impossible to have a conversation in... so I'm looking forward to a night out.

Thanks mom and dad for taking my kids! Woooooo!

In other news, my neighbor is pissed at us because our dogs keep going into their yard and doing business. They take off like bats out of hell when we take them out, and next thing you know we can't find them but they're next door shitting on the front lawn.

Yesterday S left me a very curt message and when I got home from work he was waiting for me so we could talk. "I don't want to be a dink, but..."

And he isn't, it's our responsibility to keep our dogs out of his yard not just because they crap in it but because Jack and Kinger both plow over their kids and knock them over.

Whenever I take them out I take them on the leash and walk them around the yard. Jessica took them out the other day and S told me he watched her stare up at the stars while Kinger pissed on his 300 car cover and then crap on his drive way.

I feel badly... but the crap factories are going to have to be restrained on a regular basis.

I long for the spring when I can just put them in the pen and let them be outside. Sigh.

Well -- speaking of the crap factories, I have to take them out so they can mass produce their wares. Joy. Gotta get ready to go up the billiard hall and hang with my boys (and girl).

Photos from December 2003

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Fly! You fools! [send]

And hello to one and all.

If you are checking in, I'm here -- we're here, and it's Christmas at the Way Out Inn.

Just like Lake Woebegon, "It's been a busy week here in the Way Out Inn..." We're all doing well and right now PS2 is keeping everybody entertained to some extent as I quickly slap an entry together.

Apologies for any sloppiness of language and grammar -- a bit too much cabernet sav. has taken its toll on me this afternoon. Wine never EVER used to get me this buzzed this fast -- especially in the presence of my inlaws! but ...

My enjoyment of it combined with my over indulgence has resulted in me not being able to feel my fingertips too fully, so typos may just occur. I know you will have sympaticos and forgive.

When we last left off here at the Way Out Inn, it was my sister's birthday and I gave her a little love, and I bragged on being well prepared for the holiday.

Not much has changed -- The biggest stories happened on Monday and on Wednesday. I'll entertain with both:

Monday: Jessica and I were watching Brett Favre kick some serious ASS on the Raiders (those black and silver fuckers). Brett just lost his dear old father Irvin on Sunday, God rest his soul, and Brett decided that he wouldn't sit out the game or leave to go home to be with family -- he played, and he routed. He kicked ASS at 41-7, most of that in the first half, and I loved every second of his playing.

Have I ever told you I think Brett Favre is a demi-god? Well. I do. Aside from just being cute as all get out, he's the most exciting qb to watch. And I love to watch him.

And his team responded to his drama -- and they played hard for him. And caught EVERYTHING he threw at them. And the GB defense protected him harder than ever, and he routed. He creamed. He kicked. Ass. For. His. Dad. And I cried for him.

Anyway -- while watching this game, Jessie and I saw a TV commercial for Verizon with some cross promotional shit they're doing with Return of the King. Which, by the way, we still haven't seen. But.

And she says to me "I wonder if the Companions would have had an easier time of it if they had text messaging with Verizon Wireless."

Which in and of itself is frickin funny, but we took it the next (il)logical step. We pretended to use our 'wireless' handhelds to text message dialogue from the movies (which we'd watched for hours and hours and ... hours all weekend, thanks to Starz and the running of both the first 2/3 of the trilogy all damn weekend).

"Shiiiiiire..... Baaaagggggins" [send]
"I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn" [send]
"Fly! You fools!" [send]
"Not the beard!!!" [send]
"No one tosses a dwarf!" [send]
"My preccccciousssssssss!!!!!" [send]
"The fat hobbit, he knows! Trixy hobbits!" [send]
"Get off the road!" [send]
"Mushrooms!" [send]
"What about second breakfast, elevensies, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, supper!" [send]
"He knows about them doesn't he!" [send]

We sat there, pretending to dial up the wireless text messages in our invisible hand held phones text messaging our 9 companions in our hands...

"Speak Friend and you shall enter!" [send]

and we laughed and laughed and laughed... and you get the point...

We went on and on and on like this for close to a half hour. Doug walked through the room and uttered "Neeerrrrrrds!" And yes, we are.


On Wednesday we had our office Christmas/Holiday Party, and I was, again, in charge.

I was given the duty of organizing the Chinese take out and the setup. Which I did. To the extreme. I got mad props and a kiss on the cheek from the CEO/president for it.

And that was nice. I however started my morning off with a shitty bang.

I stopped at the local liquor emporium to purchase a giftykin for my boss A. They had little pre-made baskets of cheer, of which I picked one for miss A and figured it'd be the best 40 I had spent in recent history.

I placed the little gift basket on the floor of the front seat, and when I drove away to head to the office the little basket of happiness shifted, and I felt that it was precariously balanced on the floor there, so I wanted to fix it. I pulled over, put Quimby in park, jumped out, ran around the side...

and while I was running around the other side the little basket of joy shifted, and leaned 'gainst the truck's insides. So when I opened the door...

the basket fell on the ground at my feet.

I heard a loud shattering of glass, and started to cry.

Forty dollars dropped straight down the shit hole. Nothing to give my boss. No gift to show for. No Grinch Who Stole Christmas music montage playing behind me telling me that it was all okay because as long as we have hands to clasp Christmas will be in our grasp...

I looked down, and the only thing out of the basket of incredibly fragile items that was destroyed was the cookie plate... the rest of everything, including the bottle of Brazilian dessert wine, was unbroken and fine.

It didn't spare me the good cry I had on the side of the road as I reassembled the pieces of the shattered major award that my boss was about to receive from me (Kudos to those of you whom the "shattered major award" thing means something) and I made it to the office and survived the day.

Aaron and Michelle arrived at about 3pm, for a quick side visit as they headed home to Connecticut. That and the fact they had purchased a Magellan GPS for Aaron's brother Jeff for Christmas and Aaron was having a hard time getting the thing to work at home, so he wanted us to help him with it. Can't say no as one is willing to share the philosophy and fun of Geocaching with a friend.

"Speak Friend and ye shall enter!"[send]

My inlaws came shortly thereafter.

The kids needed to be at the church no later than 4:30pm for the annual pageant, so I helped Aaron as best I could before bailing with them and leaving him with an incoming from work Douglas.

I guest-starred as a sheep, as Geoff was a shepherd in the pageant this year (and yes, he did sneak out the "It's superman!" line, but only the first couple rows heard him). We survived the pageant, and I made a fetching sheep.

Here are the four shepherds: from Left to Right, Geoff, C, D, and R.
The boy beside Geoff (aka C) could be Geoff in 2 yrs. They were all good shepherds. Two of the three kings of orient are glomming in on the photo oportunity. Typical of those three king types.

We had lasagne for dinner and hooked Doug's parents up with the couch, put the presents under the tree and I was out cold by 1am.

Geoff was up at 6. I told him to go back to bed or sit on the couch and not wake Grandma and Grampa. He did a good job until just before 7am when he couldn't take it anymore. I had Jessica take the dogs out while I made coffee, and Geoff opened one present while all of us got our acts together and got ready for the morning...

If it weren't for coffee, I wouldn't have made it.

Anyway -- the kids had a ton of fun opening presents. Geoff, for as impetuous as he can be, opened one thing at a time and played with it for a good long while before moving on to the next item.

The big hit that Santa left was a Playstation2 system. It has been played with all day, and may play us a DVD or three before we hit the hay tonight. I bought Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo for the kids, so that'd be a good thing to watch tonight.

Anyway - I am so tired. Five hours of sleep combined with good wine have made this fat little hobbit rather sleepy. I'll end things here, and wish you all a happy and fun Christmas.

Much love to you all. Each of you I hold precious.

"Precious... my precious..." [send]

Geoff and his electric guitar, performing BNL cover tunes on a couch near you!

Sunday, December 21, 2003

My Immortal...

I had a moment of grief last night. I was watching the dedicate live program on Fuse TV. I prefer Fuse if I want to see videos. And they play a lot of the heavier rock music instead mostly R&B by Mary J. Blige or Missy Elliott... I can hear Staind or Blink 182 at least one time in an hour. Which is nice, because I just don't care for R&B/Urban/Rap, which is mostly what MTV plays if they show a video, or "Adult Contemporary" Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock singing together crap which they play on VH1.

On Dedicate Live, they show a video and there is a box scrolling a "dedication" on the screen. On most of them it's "from X to Y, Yo whassup, math clas waz sik today. yu rock. letz smoke tomorro afternoon l8r." The dedications are categorized by love, hate, %*@)#, which I guess means I Really Do Not Like You.

They showed "My Immortal" by Evanescence, a video I've not actually seen but a song I'm familiar with. I've seen "Going Under" a lot more, and I wanted to see "My Immortal," as it reminded me a lot of stuff I've heard from October Project, only with more of a dark, sharp edge.

Most of the little dedications along with this song were sheer nonsense. The way they usually are. They had nothing to do with the song. Not sure why anyone would pick such a song to do a dedication to someone about "Yo, math class sux."

I was pretty much ignoring them, watching the art and the chiaroscuro of the skyline, Amy Lee's face and flowing clothing, all in blue, black and white. I was feeling very still and very moved all at once.

The dedications scrolled on... and then one jumped out to me, and put me on the brink of outright wailing.

It was from a girl in Connecticut to her mom. The "To" was "Mommy" and the message stated something along the lines of "I still can't believe you are gone -- I miss you." And then her name, and Feb 1955 to Oct 03, 2003."

And I didn't know what to do.

The sudden thought of a girl writing to her mother, not knowing what age she is, not knowing why she lost her or what happened or the state of their relationship at the time of death... coupled with the powerfully sad lyrics and the gorgeous images presented in the video caused me to just start bawling.

For most of you who know me, I do a lot of emotional transference. I cry at inappropriate times, when I cannot cry for the right reasons in my own life. For instance -- I didn't cry at Clayton's funeral, but the day after a TV commercial made me "lose it." It's a release for me. And I haven't had a lot to cry about in my life lately, there's been some stress but it's all under control.

But thinking of how this girl in Connecticut must feel, and how she has this Christmas for the first time without her mommy -- I felt for her. And I let it all go.

The next dedication made me laugh and took all of those tears away. Again, it was addressed to "Mommy" from another girl. The message stated "Hi Mommy -- I wanted you to hear this band. I love their music and I know you'll love them too. Please buy me their album for Christmas and let's listen to it together."

It made me think of Jessica, and how we listen to so much of the same stuff. Seeing "Hi Mommy" on the screen made me think of her little voice when she says that to me. And I was very happy that there was a girl out there who is like Jessie who can say to her mom "listen to this -- I think you'll like it..."

And I hope the mommy does.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Snow Caching

Wow are my legs sore.

Well, before I get into that whole thing, let me acknowledge my lack of updatingness and bewail my many sins which keep me from you, my fine peeps.

I have no excuses save one -- I've had literally nothing to say. Not a thing. Unless it's about how excited I am to go see BNL in February and March, in which case you, dear reader, will click your bookmarks or favorites and be driven elsewhere. I want to retain you, so I apologize for lack of substance here.

We haven't started our Christmas shopping yet, which has me in kind of a frozen peril state whenever it crosses my mind. I'll be folding laundry and then I'll stiffen up, envision the tree presentless all because of our parental collective sloth, and then eventually I black out. Three or four hours later I come to, and forget why I was sleeping.

So that has taken up a great deal of time.

Since my last update, things have been cool. I spent the entire snow day, as I mentioned in the last entry, working on a website or three. Which was good. The kids were fabulously behaved and I was able to get loads done on two of the three sites. The third site is the one I should have been giving priority to, but alas. You know me. Procrastinate, and then burn to shine. I will get it done but not before another couple of those freeze while freaking out moments.

In other news, my mom was in the hospital. She has bronchitis and last Monday my sister insisted she go to the doctor, my aunt ended up calling an ambulance. Long story short, she was not getting any oxygen due to her inability to breathe, and so they kept her there, IVed her up bigtime, and released her Friday to go home. She sounded much better after just 24 hours on antibiotics, fluids, and other meds. She was sounding pretty scary when I talked to her over the weekend, so I'm glad that she made use of her medical benefits and got taken care of. My sister's got a cold now, and my dad sounds like he's going to cough his stomach up (according to mom) so my immediate fam over there is in need of some health mojo.

We're all healthy as horses, so I cannot complain.

We're so healthy that we did a little carpe diem and went out geocaching in the 29 degree weather today. It was either that or clean the house and get ready for putting up the Christmas tree which we have yet to buy (see above referenced comments on buying presents for what happens when I think about that sort of thing).

We headed down to the Middlesex Fellsway vicinity where there are literally dozens of geocaches hidden. If you're caching and you're going for bodycount, well, you can't pick a better place to spend a day.

We figured if we did three or four of them it'd be an exceptionally good day. We've done two in that area already, back in April or May, and the views of Boston are extreme and awesome. Today was no exception -- the air was crystal clear and the city a shining metal diamond set beyond the hills of snowy goodness.

The first cache was incredibly pimpy. It isn't maintained well and is really in an open and exposed area. I think it gets pillaged often... so we left a cheap box of crayola chalk there and moved on. Urban caches are often raided by neighborhood kids, as it's really incredibly hard to be discreet at times. We aim for discretion, but... with two sometimes whiney kids and two incredibly happy to be outside dogs, we appear to be rather conspicuous.

The second cache was up past an area in the Fells where I guess it's a dog party on a daily basis. The parking area is at the gate for the Sheepfold, which in name made me think of pastoral rolling hills, bleating four legged wool factories and handsome boys with crooks and overalls. And naughty smiles.

Instead there were upwards to about 10 dogs running around off leash when we got there. We were such newbies -- we kept our dogs on leash until it became evident that we were going to be killed by them pulling and us slipping on ice. They romped, they played, they sniffed butt, they were in heaven. More and more and more dogs came out of the woods. They brought us sticks. Look, a brindle something sort of pitbully! Look, a Jack Russell in a little jacket! Look, a Berner! Look, thousands of fluffy dogs that look like Jack! Look, purebred golden retrievers with tennis balls!

All the owners were nice, friendly, asked questions about the dogs like "so, what kind of dog is he? Looks like a rottie, but...?" And all admired Jack's friskiness.

I was in heaven. Friendly dog people, standing around while their children romped and played. Gay couples, yuppie couples with their little kids and sleds, older women out for a walk with their schnauzers. Oh, it was heaven. I felt so happy and my dogs were happy.

We then headed into the woods past the dog party (once we got Jack to come with us) to go to the cache. It became evident very quickly that we'd need to go up... and there wasn't a good way to do so, and we couldn't see a trail. So. We just went up. The way we do. The Max Power Way. Jessica had ignored me when I repeatedly told her to wear her hiking or snow boots, and she wore her sneakers. So she was excessively whiney. Oh, and there were pricker bushes that we had to walk through... she bitched about that and eventually found a way around them that afforded her little pricker bush exposure (even though I walked right through it and my coat and four layers of clothing protected me from their evils).

We made it to the top, I took a couple nice pictures of the kids. We met some people with dogs who were commenting that their camera batteries were dead so I gave them two. When the guy with the camera took his pictures he went to hand me back the camera and I told him to keep them, but to "pay it forward" and they laughed. "If I've learned one thing from Hollywood," I said, "It's to pay it forward." So that was entertaining. Doug found the cache and we enjoyed the view for quite a while... Geoff then put a big snowball right into Jessie's face and we knew we were done there.

I turned to lecture Geoff about how bad it was to hit someone in the face with ice and snow, and when I turned around Doug, Jessie and the dogs were gone. A guy approached me from the north and said "Oh, are you looking for a girl in a purple coat and a couple dogs? They went that way." And he pointed to the trail where he had just come from... so we went that way.

Geoff and I walked about a quarter of a mile with no sign of Doug, Jess or the dogs. Usually if they're ahead of us, the dogs run back and forth between us so we know exactly where to go. Kinger hates to get seperated from one of us and gets very worried. We were walking on a well established trail in the snow, and all was looking pretty good, but according to the GPS we were now heading way too far north and were on the totally wrong side of the big hill. When we got to a creek that we couldn't walk across in any way, even though it was obvious the trail continued on the other side, we turned around and went back.

Geoff was incredibly pissed with me, and I was incredibly pissed with life. All of a sudden, Geoff decides he's a dog and he's going to walk on all fours and lick snow and roll around and communicate with me by barking.

I'm so not happy at this point and really want to kill my husband. I have the GPS, the cellphone, and the boy. The boy. And he won't go any faster than a crippled JRT.

Eventually, we get back up to the top of the hill (much easier getting up with this trail, wish we'd known of it on the way up the first time) and the summit dishes up more magnificent views as it is now getting to be about 3pm. Boston is reflecting the glories of the coming sunset, and it's all nice and my dogboy is now somewhat more obedient and walking on his hind legs. We go back down exactly the way we came up the first time, piece of cake.

Back to the Sheepfold where I once again have visions of saucy shepherd boys minding their flock in field. More dogs come say hi to us. Geoff pets everything he sees.

Doug and Jessie and the dogs are in the truck... they were told by the same guy that I had gotten bad advice from that we'd gone down the hill once they realized we'd gotten separated. Doug told me he called and called for us, but we didn't answer. By then we were too far off, and I guess my poor hearing and my hoodie and coat hood up over my head kept me from hearing him.

We really need those cute little walkie talkies I think.

They were just a little ways away from us when we split up, but because of the boy's antics we ended up 20 minutes behind them. Luckily for me I had the GPS and the wherewithall to turn around and go back when it became obvious that my trail was not going to loop to the west and south anytime soon... and we all got home safely. Hurrah.

Well, I am very sore, my legs are killing me from hiking in snow. It feels good -- a good work out in the snow and the cold really can do a body good.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Mad Libs

I jumped online before church to check my email and see if the person I'm designing a site for had sent me what I need to finish their product (while they keep bitching at me that I'm not done, but I don't have all I need... Catch 22 of sorts) and there was a big headline on google news announcing the former Iraqi leader's capture.

I'm not sure what this does for the state of the war there, whether finally with the lassooing of their overlord the people will fall in line and get with the program and put forth their best foot to rebuild their nation instead of constantly blowing stuff up and thwarting any efforts by ANYone, western or eastern, in fixing stuff up. It sure takes the attention away from the Halliburton oil price inflation for a wee bit. Hmm. Nicely timed, my liberal conspiracy-theorist friends might say.

Regardless of what it means going forward, I know what it means looking back. His regime is truly over, there will be no triumphant return to Baghdad with his supporters. Hopefully the coalition can build a democratic entity that can rule all the feuding factions justly and equally. Who am I kidding though. I'm a pessimist when it comes to this region. And I've long held a rather hands-off policy. Since we got into it, and we're there, I'd like to see it all finished up and over with and us getting out. For good. Doubt that will happen anytime soon though. This capture brings us one step closer, and for that I'm grateful.

Geoff's new obsession is Mad Libs.

I guess they have some at school, and he filled up a whole book of them there. He's got his grammar thing down pat, knows each of the categories (noun, verb, adjective, adverb...) and I can thank School House Rock! CDRom games for that.

So Jessica pulled a book of mad libs out for Geoff and he's been doing them non stop.

I did one with him the other night, and the blank that he needed to give me was "Famous Person."

His answer?

"Brian Wilson."

I started laughing. "You mean as in 'I'm lyin' in bed just like Brian Wilson did," by BNL?"

"Yes. You told me Brian Wilson is a song about a famous singer who went crazy. So he's famous. So I pick Brian Wilson."

Good answer.

So that is now our immediate fill in whenever it asks for "Someone Famous," or "Famous Person (Male)" or any other kind of famousnessness.

I'm still laughing about that. Too darn funny. My son, a mini-me BNL fan.

Today at church we had the first rehersal for the Christmas pageant. Jessica gets to play Caesar (speaking of despots) and Geoff is a shepherd. He has no lines because can't listen, obey, follow through and do what he's supposed to do. Quite annoying for me, as I've now seen the need to volunteer to be a sheep and be in the pageant. There are four shepherds. At one point they do a little star gazing and try to figure out what's that up in the sky. Shepherd one says "It's a bird!" towhit Shepherd three says "Nah, too big for bird." Shepherd two then says "It's a plane!" towhit Shepherd three then says "We don't have planes yet."

So what do you think should naturally come next after bird and plane, for a big laugh?

Well, in the script it doesn't. Whoever wrote this piece tried to write some humor into it and only took it to one level instead of to utter chaos and hilarity, where kids want to go.

Geoff yells the line, "It's SUPERMAN!!!!" in rehersal and they tell him not to. Well, why not. It's funny as heck. I'm disappointed that they won't allow him to be a clown and throw the funniest line ever out into the audience.

He'll do it anyway, I know he will. He got a huge laugh off of it in rehersal, so the bait is set in the humor trap and Geoff will not be able to resist it. I guess I'm the sheep that is supposed to clamp my cloven hooves over his big mouth during the performance, but I doubt it'll work.

Makes me think of Ben Folds Five and the song "Regrets"

"I thought about
sitting on the floor in second grade
I couldn't keep the pace
I thought I was the only one
moving in slow motion
while the other kids knew something I did not
but if I acted like a clown
I thought it'd get me through
it did,

but that don't work no more..."

It wouldn't be so bad if he stopped with "It's Superman." But then he starts dancing around yelling "AAAAH!! Superman's attacking! Superman's attacking! AAAAHHHHH!!!" and it kind of ruins the moment.

We'll see how it goes.

And as for me, I need to find a sheep hat and maybe a cow bell. I'll take the dinger out of the bell but wear it around my neck. And I have a white sweater, but it isn't wooly enough, so I'll have to figure out what to wear to pull off a convincing if not incredibly large sheep.

Any suggestions?

Speaking of church, Doug and I both busted out laughing (almost) during the prayers for the people. The Episcopal church has a Book of Common Prayer, and in it are prayers for everything, every possible condition of life or need or praise and thanks for whatever.

Today's prayers, read by my coworker who makes too much noise in the office and I've whined about her before (but she really is a wonderful nice person and I need to not whine, but that's a whole other story) included prayers for people who travel and it reads as such:

For those who travel on land, on water, or in the air [or through outer space], let us pray to the Lord.

And we both just found the bracketed [meaning it can be omitted] portion about outer space hysterical. I started to giggle, and looked at Doug who already was giggling himself, and the two of us couldn't really proceed with the prayers.

Our reader did omit the part about outer space.

How funny is that? I guess it is really good and nice to pray for astronauts. There are people up there now... perhaps we shouldn't have skipped that part? What if they need prayer, they need our mojo to be sent to them?

But it is funny.

No mention of people who travel under water, as in submariners in the Navy. And no mention of those who travel through time in addition to space. No prayer for Jean Luc, I guess.

I'm still giggling. I'm such a dweeb.

Anyway -- lunch is ready, football is coming on soon. Another class five kill storm is approaching, so I have to make sure we have enough beer to go with all the bread and candles that I bought, and that I have a shovel to bury the bodies of my neighbors when they come to steal all our beer and bread because THEY didn't take the forecast seriously. You know they won't and I'll have to fight them to the death to protect our pumpernickel loaf. And the babka. Chocolate babka because cinnamon is a lesser babka.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Snow Days and Sand Castles

A longtime reader of this journal and lontime good friend has requested that I "plug." All five of my regular readers (actually four, seeing as he's one of them) may benefit from this.

My friend's father has written a book which you may find interesting, or which you may feel would make a good Holiday gift for someone.

"A Day at the Beach -- How Absolutley Anyone Can Successfully Build Sand Castles and Build Even Better Beach Memories" by Doug Smith is an exploration of relationships, vacations, tools, sand, kids and a sandcastle creation. For many people, living near the ocean means constant trips to the seashore. For others, ocean vacations are a real treat. This book explores how you can take the long summer days and turn them into great memories by building sand castle, whether it is a weekly trip to where sand meets water or a once in a lifetime jaunt.

Sand castles are often washed away or kicked over by bullies. But the memories of building with a friend or child, or even the challenge of doing one by yourself that pushes you to your granular architectural limits can last a lifetime.

Plus, with all this snow on the ground at this point, wouldn't some wonderful pictures of beaches, the dream of sand between your toes, and plans for what you're going to build the next time you get to wear sunscreen and shorts be nice at this point in time?

So go buy Doug Smith's sandcastles book. For you or as a gift for some friends. It's unique and different. Better than that new Sevendust CD. No really. Go buy it now.

(a)musings commands you.

Thirdly, Mutterings: (and you can be proud of me that I didn't delay all the way to say Thursday on these. I remembered at the start of the week. Hurting my arm patting me on the back...)

1. Blizzard :: Of Oz
2. J :: My Brother in Law
3. Control :: Freak
4. Blood :: Simple
5. Mysterious :: Circumstances
6. Annoying :: Noises
7. Throat :: Scarf
8. Condom :: Sex
9. Search :: Engine
10. Heartfelt :: Apologies

Number 4 is a Coen Brothers movie. Number 2 is honestly my brother in law's name. He doesn't even us a period at the end. Just the letter J there. The rest of them are fairly obvious. And none of them are BNL lyrics or songs. Who woulda thunk it?

How 'bout you? Did you play along?

Well, it wasn't a day at the beach for us this weekend, although looking at the pictures in Mr. Smith's sandcastle book made me long for less clothing, sweat, sand, margaritas and the smell of sunscreen.

It snowed like a friggin factory for almost two full days, finally stopping somewhere around 9pm.

When we went to bed last night we were certain that Monday would be a school day. The roads out there were perfect and lovely. Why would they cancel? Surprise, surprise. They did. At 8am, our neighbor girl came over for her ride to school.

Seems her mom called the school hotline and the recording didn't mention the school closing. So she got her all dressed and ready. Doug sent her home and two seconds later the phone rings, it's my neighbor "What the hell do you mean school is closed? I called the thing like we're supposed to!!!"

Yup. I know. I called it too. But Channel 5 news showed me that the school district is closed, closed, closed.

Part of me then doubted Channel 5.

The school would update the phone-in messagey thing, wouldn't they???

Doug laughed at me and said "Well that'd mean a school secretary would have to DO something on a day off in order to update it..." and he laughed at my naïveté.

He made sense. I didn't trust my own thoughts though. I dialed the school again at 8:40 AM and their recording still didn't state whether or not school was closed.

I left a voicemail at the main office stating that I thought it'd be a good idea if someone updated that recording to state the fact school was closed. I wondered how many other parents called it and didn't watch the news. How many parents drove their kids in today? How many kids went to stand at the bus stop. One shouldn't have to go to more than one source of information to obtain, confirm, contrast and ponder the truth in these little situations, should one? No.

I just called again at 1:30pm. It has been updated. But it's funny... it says "due to inclement weather school is closed today" which is technically incorrect. The school isn't closed due to inclement weather today because it is friggin fabulous out there today... sunny, not windy, gorgeous.

And on top of THAT, the recording doesn't specify today's date. I wonder if they'll leave that turned on for tomorrow, the next day and the next until some parent points that out to them.

So, in my over pompous and more smarter than everyone elseness, it should state:

"Due to potentially unsafe road conditions, school is closed on Monday December 8th, 2003."

Even though I am a consistent fuckup in life, even I could get this one right. Good gravy.

Well, it's almost 3pm and I've spent the better part of the day working on two web projects that I have taken my damn sweet time on. One of which should have been up forever ago. Another one I need content and information from the owner in order to put up the terms and conditions and prices.

My kids have been borderline saints today. I think I'm going to get Geoff all dressed up and throw him outside though. And go down and do laundry. Maybe I'll take him up the sled hill in town... maybe not. If he's outside playing nicely I can continue to work on things that need done.

The snow total here was probably close to 20 inches by the time all was said and done. Just south of here they got over 30, just west of here they got maybe 12. Regardless... it's pretty. The dogs have been romping and playing. And I know a little boy who needs to get out and enjoy it, so I'm going to suit him up and get him out there.

More later peeps.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Holiday party success, or "I told you so, bitch."

How pathetic am I to come right home after running my corporate function to jump ass right into my journal and edit/write an entry.

Yeah, blog addiction. It's certifiable.

Anyway -- I'm not shitfaced. 10 more minutes and 2 more drinks and I'd be saying "uh, yeah. I'm shitfaced." but I'm not and I'm home.

Highlights of the evening --

-- having every single attendee approach me and tell me it was the Best Party Ever.

-- The two cambodian girls who work in the production area of the plant, the only 2 who came, had a great time. One of them got up and sang a song a capella for us and blew us all away.

-- Knowing my boss knows my inner rock star is something to be reckoned with -- priceless.

I'm incredibly exhausted.

The morning didn't go well. There was a ton of stuff to do and then at noon the BNL website/ticket office was out of commission and I couldn't get through on the phone to buy tickets for the March 2nd show, so I was a fucking BASKET CASE for an hour until I finally got my ass through on phone. I was freaking OUT! but it all worked out and no one bothered me during that period between noon and 1. Good thing too or they may have died.

One of my co-workers, a delightfully wonderful woman, found out some very very grim news about her mother in the middle of the day and actually pulled out of attending the party. She ended up coming to the party because her mother insisted she come -- and we all had a shitload of fun. And she danced. And she NEVER dances at these things. And she told me it was all because I threw the party and it MADE her dance. We hugged and danced and she cried.

I'm not sure what Monday will be like at work, but. Tonight was good for her and for many. And for me.

Doug got to come to the party and I think he got to see how hard I work.

A was delightful, wonderful and lovely.

A's husband is delightful, wonderful and lovely.

I got to know someone I hardly know, and found him to be funny and entertaining instead of the ogre and ass everyone makes him out to be. How cool is that.

The party is over.

And I'm so relived.

Thanks to everyone who has been pulling for me, sending me mojo, praying for me, letting me know that it's all going to be okay. There's a reason why I keep this journal. It's to keep me connected to some sort of nebulous entity out there -- the overall huge network of friends and acquaintances who take a minute to let me know that all will be okay and that "it is what it is" and I can then deal once I have things in perspective. Each of you who have sent me a funnyassed email, or a note of support -- each of you are little stars in my sky and I adore you.

As I mentioned -- I finally got through to the BNL hotline and bought my tickets to Manchester NH, and my party kicked ass.

I'll sleep well tonight knowing a job well done was indeed well done.

Right then -- for those of you amongst me facing the class 3 death storm, you know how funny I find it when the media blows everything out of proportion. Suffice to say - I have milk and bread and a strategy to prevent my neighbors from invading my home to steal said milk and bread once the storm grips us in death.

I hope you have enough milk and bread. G'dnight!

Thursday, December 04, 2003

My head will not explode....

Work. Geoff. Busy. Committments. Parties. Work. Kids going on school break and no one to watch them. Work. Geoff Geoff Geoff. I will not let my veins, arteries, capillaries explode. I will not allow December 4th to be the busiest and worst day ever. Or December 5th for that matter.

The one thing is, aside from my house getting suddenly completely remessy right after my parents left, and the fact the Geoff won't stop singing in class (or picking his nose) I've got the work/holiday party thing completely under control. A asked me if there was anything she could do to help -- wrap a present, print and cut names for the raffele, write names on Post-It notes for our icebreaker... nope, nope and nope. The only thing I have left to do are print some certificates for 4 PTO hours for raffle prizes and to get checks cut from our AP office for to pay everyone for their services.


So it's all good. And I'm looking forward to this being over. Cross your fingers kids -- it's supposed to start snowing sometime tomorrow or some shit like that. Watch it ruin everything and everyone goes home at like 8pm because of the weather. Like the Hurricane which screwed up our Summer outing in August...

I spent a half hour on the phone with Geoff's teacher today. He's been in the principal's office every day this week. On Monday he had a horrible day because my parents left without taking him with them to NY. On Tuesday it was for singing and not stopping. On Wednesday it was for throwing handfuls of soap all over the bathroom in a fight with an invisible adversary. Today it was for singing and sticking his fingers up his nose, and then refusing to use a tissue and blowing his nose like a Minnesotan bachelor farmer.

I am so worn out from dealing with him. It wasn't even 7:45 this morning and I'm screaming at him. He took a pair of scissors and cut a big hole in one of his shirts while he was sitting on the couch. "I wonder what happens if I do this!" he said, and Jessica said "Don't you dare!" and I heard... *snip!* "Uh oh!" and sure enough he'd cut a hole.

We needed to walk out the door to go to school, and there I am making him change shirts. He didn't want to do it because our neighbor (the little girl we ride over to school) was there, and I finally just ripped the thing off him.

I read something about a family in Texas or Atlanta or something where they'd beaten their 11 year old daughter to death after tying her up on Thanksgiving.

Let me just say, that's heinous. I'm not sure what she did to get in trouble. But I have to keep thinking about this family and saying "I will not go there. I will not go there."

I will not go there. A shirt is nothing. I'm angry, I'm irritated, but hell. I'm not beating him to death no matter how pissed he makes me.

This will be my mantra with him. This will be my song.

Anyway -- it was a weird day. I got to work, got a little scold because people were asking A for directions and asking her specifics about the party, and I hadn't sent that information out to the masses yet.

I guess I should have earlier this week.

So after the scolding I took care of all the questions, printed directions, printed this did this wrapped that opened this put batteries in that did this went there and ran...

... back to my house in time to meet a pick up truck that carted away Clayton's car.

After being parked in front of our house in Fall 2001, the "Hot Rod" as we so affectionately referred to it all this time, has been carted away.

To her credit -- ole "I" there, Clay's sister, tried her damnedest to get the car donated to a charity. They all rejected the car. So I ended up calling a place to have it towed away for free. Done and done. Last night Doug and I pushed it up out of the yard and towards the driveway. We couldn't get it all the way up into the drive and Doug was wicked pissed. See, without even asking us our tenant moved it back in October so he wouldn't have to plow around it.

Even though we knew that it would immenently be on a tow truck. The thing won't run, so in essence, he rolled it into our yard just to get it out of the way. We agree that it was in the way, but dude -- talk to us first wouldya?

So Doug has been pissed about it sitting there in our grass. And when we couldn't get it up to the driveway he threw a hissy.

I offered to postpone the visit until we could get our tenant to help us get it up the slope into the drive. Doug told me to just have them come and do what they can and if they can't then we'll reschedule.

They brought a ramp truck, and it actually worked out beautifully. The car wouldn't have been able to be put into the truck if it were in the driveway because the truck would have had to block the entire road for like 10 minutes. He winched that sucker up, and drove away.

And I stood there and cried and cried and cried...

The last remnant of the Clay legacy, the big fat piece of shit car that no one wanted, not even the most needy charity. Gone.

And a huge chapter in my life, finished.

I know that I cried from transference, for the near running over of the kid that I did the other day, for Geoff being a complete piece of work lately, for stress stress stress. It had little or nothing to do with Clayton, with the stupid fucking POS car. I hated that POS car. I'm glad it's gone. Totally glad it is.

I was just due for a good cry.

I went back back to work and continued another three hours of asskickingly awesome HR duty fulfillment. And that is about all one can hope for at this point.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

The busy girl buys beauty

If I were to start a whole new journal, I'd name it "The busy girl buys beauty" from the Billy Bragg song of the same name. It's been totally stuck in my head for the whole day. Can't get rid of it.

Aaah Billy Bragg. My favourite Labour Party Leftist Liberal Troubador. I do love me some Billy Bragg. How 'bout you?

On the flip side of things I love me some Toby Keith too.

I have what I refer to as a fair and balanced turntable. Heh. That'd be a fun mix tape. A mess of Toby Keith boot up your ass America's pissed songs backed up with Billy Bragg's unemployment life on the dole I'm a striking mine worker in the mid 1980s in England protest songs.

I've been a mess lately. Busy with everything. Busy with running around and doing work related stuff and dealing with the kids. I've had a hell of a busy work week, which will culminate in the holiday party that I've been spending ever living breathing moment of my life planning for the last month, which no one at my company is coming to willingly.

I'm serious.

People are being FORCED to come by their managers. And they're all pissed because they don't WANT to go to a holiday party.

As of Wednesday of last week, 10 people had signed up. Of those four were solo, six were bringing a guest... for a total of 16 attendees. Nice. That was the RSVP deadline, so at noon I sent an email to the president of the company and asked him if he still wanted me to throw the damn party (not in those words).

He pulls my boss into his office and implies in no uncertain terms that I am not "selling" the party enough.

The hell I'm not! That week and the week before I went up to every person individually and personally and told them to come to the party, handed them an RSVP, told them it was going to rock them like a proverbial hurricane if they were there and make them feel like they missed the greatest thing EVER if they blew it off.

Most everyone just rolled their eyes at me and said, "Nah, it's on a Friday night. I don't go to company parties on a Friday night."

Now, hit the rewind button on my life and let's go back to September, shall we? When I was told that I was to arrange this festivus. I was told "Pick a Friday or Saturday night, not after December 17th." Right. December 17th was the date my boss S was going overseas for the holidays, so she wanted to be able to come to the party. That left me with December 5, 6, 12, or 13 to work with.

Most everywhere was booked on the 13th. I struck out with every location that I called. Our president, he had other plans on the 6th. That left me with the 5th or 12th. I informed my boss it'd be on a Friday. She ran it up the chain of command. They blessed it. So I pick a hall, line up the caterer, and we go with December 5th because the hall and caterer are both available that night.

Mind you -- this is now mid September. About 11 weeks ago. I send out communication to the masses that the party is on Dec. 5th, a Friday, and not a single person says anything.

I hang up signs in the plant where folks who don't have email can see it, and not a single person says anything.

Until last week.

"Why's the party on a Friday? Why's the party so early in the year?"

??? Excuse me? I went with the date I could work with, our President, the Director of HR, the Plant Manager and the VP of Ops blessed it. Why didn't you voice opinion 11 weeks ago when I could have done something different.

"Well, this is the first time in the 16 years I've been here that the party has been on a Friday, so I'm not going."

"I don't like to go out after working from 7am. I just want to go home."

"Why didn't you book the party on December 20th?"

"Why are we having it there? Why not at the dog track in Seabrook New Hampshire. It's very very nice."

--on that last one, fuck the dog track in fucking Seabrook New Hampshire. I don't care if it is the fucking Taj Fucking Mahal, I'm not having a corporate function at a dog track in New Hampshire. Who the hell would have thought of THAT one!

"Is there going to be Spanish music at this party? I'm not going if I can't dance to something I want to listen to."

-- uh, not unless anyone requests it. Are you requesting some Spanish music. If so, give me some artists and I'll talk to our DJ. And I'm sure the Laotians and the Cambodians are going to enjoy your spanish music as much as I will.

I realized that I can't make everyone happy. I realized that even if I booked the party on a Saturday night, I would have gotten "I spend five days a week with these people, why do I want to spend my one free night in the weekend at this thing."


Anyway -- our president and the manager of customer service went out into the plant to drum up support.

All the Cambodian girls were pissed because they wouldn't have time to go home and change for the party (uh, neither will the people who work until 5:30, like my boss A, who is going to get dressed in the restroom at the office). So they wanted to go home an hour early WITH PAY. And THEN they'd come to the party.

The plant manager got wind of this and came down on them like an overturned tractor trailer on an icy road.

So now they're not coming. Fine. Whatever.

As of the time I left today, there are now 48 total attendees signed up. Last year there were 65. There are 100 employees in our company. Most of the attendees are from the corporate office, only three people from the plant are coming. I guess after I left on Friday my boss got embroiled in a huge argument with everyone about how we ended up having the party booked on a Friday night in the first place and she wasn't in on the planning stage, S was. (S has since resigned and left, leaving us with this big mess. This big huge mess). So Monday morning I got scolded and lectured and "In the past we've always done it on a Saturday, how'd you pick a Friday" lectured, and I wanted to put my boot up someone's ass.

Not A's mind you -- it's not her fault. She's right. In the past we've always done it on a Saturday. But, no one told me that. I was told to pick a Friday or a Saturday. We'll have our party, those coming will have a good time, I swear to it on my mother's eyes and her nicotine filled lungs, and I will immediately book the party for next year on a Saturday night. If I'm still there, I'll throw them yet another fucking awesome party. If I'm not, at least they'll have the Saturday.

It is what it is. We've got what we've got. And I'm getting fucking shitfaced at this party.

Today I made centerpieces for the tables. I'm so damn Martha Stewart. Actually, most of the idea I stole from Meg at meish, in a photo that she took last year of fairy lights in a beer glass. I liked that look so much, so I decided I would recreate it. I went to crate & barrell while my parents were here (they have an outlet store in Kittery, ME) and bought 12 British Pint glasses. I got 12 strings of battery operated fairy lights from Honey (Baby Ben's mom), and 24 little bendable star thingies to make into wreaths for the bottom of the glass.

A and I wrapped the star thingies around the glasses today. This evening I drove down to get the fairy lights from Baby Ben's mom. I walked in more than half expecting him to run the other way, but he was so happy to see me.