Friday, April 30, 2004


Because I am so lazy, and uploading pictures into blogger is tedious and time consuming, I'm just going to link to the old blog entry for these photos.


Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Someone is sleeping on my couch...

This morning I took off out the door to go to a geocache locally which we haven't done yet. I went not to find the cache but to find some lost items a fellow cacher had dropped at the site. When I got there, he was there searching again... turns out someone found the stuff last night and didn't log into the system to state he'd found the cache and the lost items. So the guy and I searched in vain (I came home to log the find and found the finder's note, posted sometime this morning, after I'd left).

I got home and there were four voicemail messages from the school nurse. My neighbor's daughter got sick in school and they were trying to locate her mom, who I guess is out and about. I brought her home. Now she's on my couch watching spongebob DVDs and playing with Geoff's Mighty Beans. Oh, if he knew she was touching those -- all hell would break lose.

So I don't know how long I'll have lil' E here at the house. She's quiet and kind of nice, but boy is she a liar. She just makes up the most insane shit and tells me these long drawn out stories which I later ask her mom about and find are just outright fabrications based not even on the most remote iota of truth.

Now I'm not sure if the story she told me about the boys in Geoff's class putting him up to hitting girls is true. All five boys got in heaps of trouble... and it could have been based on total lies. But. What's done is done and I listen to her a little more carefully now.

It's a shame... I want to believe kids. I don't know what would make her tell me stories like "My sister got in my bed last night and while I was sleeping she put glue stick in my hair and when I woke up and chased her back into her room, I had to go take a shower and it was like four in the morning, and then I went back to bed..." I asked her mom about this one this morning, and C just shook her head and said that there's no way it was true because the linen closet is in their bedroom and she'd have to come in there to get a towel, and the shower pipes are old and loud and wake everyone in the house up, so it just couldn't possibly BE. So she confronted her daughter who then said, "Yeah, I was joking."

Lies lead to mistrust. Lie once and then try to tell the truth and no one is sure whether you were lying then or lying now. I know John Kerry is going through this right now about the war medals and throwing them over the fence. Were they his then or someone elses then? Were they just the ribbons? If they were just the ribbons as he says in 1980something, why'd he say they were his medals in 1971? To some it's trivial whether or not he told the truth then or now. Bush is a liar, Kerry's a liar... pick your liar and run with it.

I don't think ANYone tells the truth anymore, and that makes me hugely sad. It's such a huge issue to me. Why lie when the truth just sets you free. You never have to dig your way out of the truth.

We went through stuff like this with Jessica a few years ago. One of my earliest Journal entries was about Jessica lying when we caught her doing something she shouldn't do. She had used M's razor and shaved a strip of hair on her arm. She nicked her wrist bone, and said that she'd scraped it on the wall in the hallway (that's some sharp drywall!) and then when we found HAIR in the razor, she continued to lie and say it wasn't her hair, even though M and I aren't blonde.

We made her stand in a corner until she told the truth. All we wanted was "Yes, I did it." Not even an "I'm sorry" or anything... just an admission.

And she fought with us, as if fighting for her very life.

Kids are so damn weird.

In yesterday's entry, I totally forgot to mention that we did another geocache while we were out in Western PA. We dropped some Travel Bugs off at a Travel Bug "Hotel."

It was not in a very nice place. It was in Racoon Township by the creek near the big state park ... and of all the nice and beautiful, pristine and gorgeous places there are in this town, you would think someone would put a cache somewhere nicer. Or at least less of a party down spot.

This cache is located behind a dilapidated steel building that served some purpose at some point in history. It has a huge engine inside, and turbine thingies on top. And there was trash everywhere, and porno stashed in the exact spot where we thought the cache would be. (We cleaned it up. Heh heh heh, stupid punk who thinks he's comin' back to find his titty mag! HA! Busted!)

I felt a bit scared leaving the travel bugs there, but ... we were there and it was there, so we did. I hope they don't come to a bad end there. We took three TBs with us and plan to drop them off in a new TB hotel in Haverhill this weekend.

Well, what else is going on -- oh yeah. I posted something in my journalspace journal which kind of cracked me up. The premise is to make up a fake "memory" about me that you and I share. Click here and go over there, and add to the madness.

Only one person has posted a comment so far and I'm sort of disappointed so I'm turning to you, the mad rabble, to get over there and leave some damn comments. You don't have to identify yourself, but it would be funny to know who you are. Non-journalspace members are enabled to leave comments.

Be funny, yo.

BNL and Alanis Morissette are going on tour together, in case all y'all didn't know. I'm not a big Alanis fan, she's okay. Fair to midling. I want to yell at her when I hear the song "Ironic" that none of those things are IRONIC, most of them are just unfortunate. duh.

And here's the tour poster, which I'm sure is going to make some people totally mental. They're so naked. Barenaked with a Lady. I love how she's standing, she looks so aloof with all these guys around her. Tyler looks like he's molesting Jim's shoulderblade. Kevin couldn't be cuter. Steve is totally hiding behind everyone, even though he's lost so much weight and has never been shy about naked, he seems... reserved. So the poster alone cracks me up. I may have to go see the tour. It's a fully split bill, not one opening for the other. And I don't know how they're going to do the Alanis fan club seats and the BNL fan club seats... but I hope they are available.

I hate that she cut her hair.

Anyway -- that's it from over here. E sounds restless in the living room and I think she's going through stuff she shouldn't be touching, but, she's a kid and kids do that. I need to eat something after that hike I took this morning... feeling lightheaded loopyness. More later, peeps.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Vacation Wrap-up

We survived our vacation and trip, and no Geoffreys were lost in the woods. Say hallelujah, say amen. Vacation was really good. The recap is as follows. Pictures are forthcoming. In fact, I have a month's worth of pictures that I simply have got to download from the camera today, Easter for the Church website (photo gallery needs updated) and I've got tons of great shots from geocaches that we've done that I want to upload into the cache site. I've got a lot of work to do.

Tuesday Night:
After almost losing my son (see previous entry) while Geocaching, I was in a pissy mood. I whipped up dinner and then we started a camp fire. I was completely on edge and stressed out by the experience, and it felt good to sit in front of a roaring camp fire poking at it with a big stick while drinking Vodka Tonics.

Up at 8am. Dogs in the truck, over to the kennel. I came back, folded laundry and got things packed (which is what I should have been doing instead of burning a campfire and getting tipsy the night before) while Doug fought with our computer and tried to get the TopoMap software to run on it.

Mind you, I spent hours the night before working on it (after the camp fire) -- in fact, I stayed up until 3 in the morning trying to get it to work. No dice. Our computer is once again sucking eggs. And Doug wanted to download the maps for Western PA/Eastern OH for our geocaching adventures there. He got all pissy and bent out of shape. I just said -- it is what it is, the shit ain't workin' bring the shit with us and we'll find a PC to load it onto and do it there, quit draggin' ass and let's GO!

We hit the road at noon.

This is a 12 hour trip. I was groaning thinking of how late we'd get in there, especially on my four hours of sleep.

But, even with stopping for dinner, we were there by 11:15, all told the "driving time" was 9.45 hours. Not too shabby. We only had traffic in the Wilkes-Barre to Bloomsburg area where 81 and 80 hook up. Everything else was gravy.

The hotel was really nice, it's about a year and a half old, and there hasn't been a hotel anywhere NEAR this area of the Beaver Valley, so it was cool to have such a place to stay. It was obvious that we were the only "family" staying there. It was mostly single business travelers. And that was cool because they're all quiet and not there while we're all hogging up the pool.

Geoff was up at 7 even though he didn't fall asleep until well after midnight. He wanted to go swimming, I made him wait while I dozed, and he eventually couldn't take it any longer.

Geoff made it a morning ritual the entire time we were there to open the hotel room door and retrieve the USA Today for Doug. He'd bring it over to his dead-to-the-world father and loudly announce, "Dad! Your newspaper is here!" It was kind of cute, except it was usually at 7am.

By 8am, I was with coffee an he was with pool, and we relaxed down there while Doug and Jessie slept. Geoff swam for close to two hours, and I drank as much coffee as I could stomach.

Doug eventually woke up, did the crossword in the paper, and called his parents. He told them we wanted to go geocaching, and I guess my mother in law changed out of what she was wearing (I think she thought we were just going to hang out at the hotel and chat, but not Team Screamapillar! We're on a cache-heavy vacation) and got sneakers and outdoor pants on and they came over to join us.

We attempted four, found three. Three caches were targeted in one area and we found two, but the third one was simply unreachable from where we were. Had we downloaded the topo maps we may have said "What are we, CRAZY?! Screw this!" but we were going with just a screen and a straight line to the cache, and it was hard going.

The area where Doug grew up is hilly. Very hilly. Hilly is an understatement. Dude -- these are some crazy hills. We were in Brady's Run Park where there are about 8 caches hidden. The first one was a piece of cake, we didn't have to climb far, and it was an easy find. The approach to the second one put us about 400 feet below it on a hillside that went pretty much straight up at a 15 degree incline. Dude. That's some steep shit.

Doug thought about going straight up and made it about 80 feet before turning around. Glad he did. We found a proper trail that snaked around the hillside, it was a slow and easy climb, and the much better way. We found the cache easily, and headed off to the third.

Now, I've never thought my inlaws to be sturdy. But boy did they impress me... we kicked their collective butt on this one, and they stuck right with it. No complaints, no "this is stupid!" caterwauls. Just a lot of oohing and aahing on my mother in laws part about the spring flowers that were coming up. And there were plenty of them. When it became obvious that there was no way for us to hit the third cache from above, where we were, and it was starting to rain, we bailed.

We went pretty much straight down, over 600 feet, on no trail, switching backing our way down the incline. It was INSANE! My mother in law and Jessie both wiped out and landed on their butts. Beats falling forward and down. Both took the falls with good nature and got right back up. Geoff took a branch hard to the face and it knocked his glasses off and made him curse nature while shaking his fist. We found the glasses, and he got a slight black eye but survived (good thing the glasses were there or it would have been worse. Going down uses a whole different set of leg muscles, and the fronts of my thighs were burning by the time we got out of there.

At the foot of the hill was a little "sugar shack," where they make maple syrup. My father in law hasn't been there in years, so he bought us a container and showed Geoff the place where they make the syrup... it was cool to hang with Grampa and check things out like that in the ole hometown.

We got back in the vehicle and the rain let up, so we drove over to this cache, and it was a hard but clever hide... we really loved it. Doug said the area used to be a dirt road that ran along the river's edge and people just sat down there drinking or doing whatever nefarious activities they wanted... the town of Rochester cleaned it all up and put in this huge flag history monument, and it's gorgeous. There is a mile long walking trail, and places to sit, and flowers... makes the dreary riverside look like a place of riparian delights.

After all that hiking, we went out to dinner and then back to the pool and hot tub. Doug and his parents relaxed in the hotel room while I swam the kids (and myself) and I soaked my tired legs in the hot tub. We all slept like the dead that night.

The plan was to go to Rogers Ohio for the Rogers Sale. It's a huge flea market they hold every Friday, and people come from a bazillion miles to this thing and buy all kinds of whack "treasures" and junk.

Doug's sister was expecting a refrigerator delivery, and Jessie offered to hang out there and help her with Elise, our niece (that rhymes you know, my niece Elise. It's fun to say). She hadn't seen her little cousin in quite some time, and she didn't want to go to Rogers Sale. She's been there before and finds it "boring," so we let her off the hook.

The weather was crummy, cold and threatening rain the whole time, and Grampa questioned whether we should even bother. Doug wanted to go find Ammo Boxes for geocache hiding (see, we're ALL about the geocachin' aren't we) and figured it would be worth the trip.

Doug, Grampa, Geoff and I trucked over, and while we found nothing important we did get nice new collars and leashes for the dogs, and Tony Hawk 3 from the game section, and saw everything from Amish cheese salesmen to hugely fat ridge runner ladies with tons of scabbyassed looking tattoos.

It's a great place to people watch.

We then headed up to Great Grandma's house for a visit there. She was disappointed that Jessica wasn't with us, but was happy to see us nonetheless.

On the way back to Auntie's to meet everyone for dinner we stopped to do a geocache. Of course. It was another great hike in a gorgeous western PA hilly area, with views and lots of lush green undergrowth. We ordered pizza at the hotel, and all of us, Auntie Diane and Uncle J, Elise, Grandma and Grampa, chilled at the crib. We brought Elise to the pool and she didn't really swim much, but boy did she enjoy playing with her cousins and hanging out. After they left, the kids kept swimming until I had to pry Geoff's wrinkly ass out of the water as he protested "But the pool is open until 11 and it's only 10:30 and I have more time!!!"

Uh, no. Mom is tired. Time to bail. Pool will be here in the morning. We again slept like the dead that night.

Up early. An old friend of mine from college is a professor at a local college and goes to church with Diane and J. I hadn't seen him since, I think 1988, and while I've chatted with him a few times in the last 4 years (since he ran into Diane and J and discovered our small-worldness) we've never been able to meet up. We planned on doing so at some point during this visit, and I'd neglected to give him a call until this morning. He was still asleep when I called, his wife told me she'd pass on the message.

I took Geoff to the pool and we eventually got our shit together and headed up to Diane's. Dr. MH (that's my college friend's code name here for the journal) called back and confessed he'd stayed up until 3am playing Civilization, and that he was wiped out, and we should try and hook up later that day. We were cool with that, told him we were heading out to do a geocache and where it was, he told us it was a beautiful place. We threw Diane and Elise into the Truckster to hit some caches.

Diane had wanted to try geocaching for some time, so we found some good caches not too far from her house and headed out to them.

While we were at the first one, Diane turns and looks down on the trail behind us and sees a guy sprinting up, and says "Gee, that looks like Dr. MH." And sure enough it was.

After he hung up with me he felt silly about postponing, so he jumped in his vehicle to see if we were there. Sure'nuff, we were. We got to hang out at the falls here at this geocache with him for quite a while, and it was so fun to catch up with him. My son took to him right away, even walking with him up under the falls when Dr. MH offered to show him the place.

We headed off to two more geocaches, this one and this one. Our niece is one tough little trailblazer, I tell you what. She was up and down these hills kind of like how Jackdog or a billy goat would have been. Jessica was given the task of chasing her, and did a really good job even though it wore her out fiercely. We found both caches no problem, and brought Diane and Elise home so they could get ready for something they had going on that night.

We headed out to dinner and Doug ran into one of his mom's cousins sitting in the booth next to us. They had a nice chat, and we went back to the hotel and crashed.

Morning came too soon... could have used more sleep. Took Geoff down for his last swim of the vacation after he delivered his last newspaper of the trip. Packed everything up and my inlaws came over to take us out to breakfast before we left.

We had a wonderful visit, and it's always sad to say goodbye, especially after a relatively stress-free time with the family. It's especially hard and sad to say goodbye in an Eat'n Park parking lot.

We hit the road at about 12:30, later than Doug had wanted, but... it is what it is. Doug wanted for us to stop at Penn's Cave east of State College, PA, south of I-80. After driving the route between here and there on I-80 a billion and a half times, he'd never stopped there or been taken there, and he figured it'd be cool. We took the scenic route 144 through Bellefonte, which is a gorgeous little town and I fell in love with it. I'd always wondered what it was like there...

As for the cave... it was pretty cool. The tour is mostly jokes about the shapes of stalactites and stalagmites, not enough good info on the geological formation of the cave and how it got that way. Geoff asked a few silly questions when given the "does anyone have any questions?" opportunity, such as "Is this cave haunted?" The other people in the boat were mildly amused. Oh that Geoff, he IS the living end.

We got back in the truck and it was raining and raining. We drove past Amish buggies and more farms than I've seen in recent memory, and through the southern portion of a gorgeous state forest on Rte 192. Looks as if it has a million geocaches and some great camping opportunities... perhaps this summer?

Doug drove for stinkin' ever and we stopped for the night near Maybrook NY. We slept and slept.

Geoff was up at 7 and was pissed that there was no pool in the hotel.

We had breakfast in a diner that was dineriffic with a waitress who had smoker's voice and a grandma's love and care for serving us. She told us tons of stories and kept the coffee flowing. We made it home at about 3, got the dogs, and I was very glad to sleep in my bed last night.

I didn't get the job I'd interviewed for at the college -- the director called me himself and told me personally. I'm somewhat crestfallen, I really wanted it. But. Everything happens for a reason, and now I'm going to do that resume-polishing thing that the guy from DUA told me to do.

Well-- there's a shit ton of work to do. Gotta get the oil changed, go to the bank, pay some bills. If you've made it this far, your reward is my undying love.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Wherein I lose Geoffrey in a Park

Well, it's wednesday morning. About 1am. I'm posting this quickly as I really need to be getting my ass to bed. I have folded all the laundry, the pile to go in the duffel is on the couch. I may tuck it all in after I get offa here, but I may wait until morning.

At 7am, I need to be up and moving. Getting everything finalized for our trip. I have to find Geoff's swimsuit. My swimsuit. The computer is shitting the bed and isn't letting Doug download mapping coordinates for the GPS for Western PA. He's asked me to look into it, but in all honesty, fuck all -- it isn't anything I can fucking fix. Our computer sucks ass hardcore, and there's not a stitch of hope for the shitter.

I'm tired. Can you tell? Yeah. I get a tad profane when I'm pushing the rock up the hill and am feeling cranky. I have other reasons...

Seeing as it is Wednesday, I may as well tell you about Tuesday.

I got up early and finished Aaron's latest web project. He called me tonight and said "I'm giving up Christianity and worshiping YOU." Which made me feel good. He had me add something to his website, and it kicks ass. It took me about 10 total hours, he did all the "real" work, but the website is nice. Science teachers across America should worship me. Too bad only Aaron does. That took a shit ton of time. After I finished his stuff, we took a break and went to pick up some money from the dart people. About $50 less than I expected. But. I'm not yellin'. I'm just happy to have a check -- any check -- after the amount of work I've done.

I'm a goddess...I'm proud of me this afternoon.

We got home and I saw that a geocache in the area that I've been waiting for got approved. Geoff and I ran over, leaving Jessica here. She didn't want to come, even though it'd be a quick easy in-easy out. Geoff was more than willing, and we found the cache no problem. In fact, it was our very first "First to find," which in Geocaching circles means you were... duh, the first to find the cache.

We took a picture with the camera in the cache, packed it up and started walking back to the truck across the baseball field. I was watching the little league team, and then I stood and watched a woman teach her kid how to field a grounder. Baseball was in the air. It was intoxicating.

I guess that's why what happened next happened.

I turned around to ask Geoff if he wanted to play baseball. I was inspired by the mom and the kid.

There was



?? ??



No Geoffrey behind me. No Geoffrey in sight.



I was slightly confused. I looked around. I looked at the playground. No Geoffrey. I looked at the ballfield thinking he'd invited himself up on to play. No. Geoff.Rey. No. Where is he?

So I start calling him, and I'm lookin' everyfuckingwhere.

I cannot find him. I run back to the geocache location. No No sign of him. Holy shit. The little league starts laps around the field. I'm standing in the middle of the field. They're jogging around me and I'm yelling for him. I look like an ass. I'm ... Dizzy. Confused. I run to the coach and ask "Can you help me please, I lost my son."

I lost my son.

In a city park.

I have been in the mountains, on the ocean, in deep woods with him and I've never lost him. We're less than 3 miles from home and I've lost my son on the Merrimack River in a huge public park. Oh. My. God. Please. No.

Where is he?

The coach? He's a cop. He's on his Nextel phone to the station while someone else hands me their cell phone to call 911. I talk to the dispatcher. Two cruisers are dispatched.

Everyone in this park now knows Geoffrey is wearing a grey striped shirt, navy blue cut off sweat-shorts, brown sneakers, white "And-1" socks, has blonde hair and glasses. The coach sends his team to run into the woods to look. The coach is on his Nextel. He is telling me to watch for the cruiser as he runs into the woods with the boys to look.

There's the river.

Geoff can't swim.


I run back to the truck to see if he's there waiting for me. No. I run to the swings. No. I run to two other ball fields. No. I run to the playground.


The officers show up. I've got drymouth. I'm hyperventilating. I'm wondering if I should cry or hold my shit together.

They ask again for his description. One is talking to me while the other is radioing the description to the world. He is fat. He has on two gold necklaces and sunglasses. One necklace is a gold cross. He's very Italian. The other one is more Irish. He's got a shaved head. He's reassuring me.

The ball team comes back. No dice. No sign of him.

They... resume practice. I'm like "NO." Go help me find him. You're young, you guys can run, stop field ing grou n ders. Holy shit where is my kid.

Italian Cop tells me to run over to a field I've not visited. He starts walking to the river with his partner. I hear radio transmissions. I hear... static. I hear my heart. I think of a coffin. I think "All this shit, all this bullshit just to be a first to find a fucking GEOCACHE!!!???" I think, would it be better if I start crying now or should I not cry. Will they think less of me.

Where the hell is my kid?????!!!!!

The cop calls to me, I run back. He's on the radio. They found Geoff. He's at the bridge between towns. He's walking home. The conservation commission officer found him. He saw him walking up the road with a stick. "Hey, are you Geoff?" he asks.

"Yes!" answers a happy Geoffapillar.

"Your mom is looking for you," He's got his lights on, stopped traffic, as my son is about to walk from one jurisdiction to another. "Go over to that gas station so I can call her."

I was standing there as the conservation commission officer confirmed Geoff was there at the Citgo station, I fall on my knees ready to pass out and the cops ask me if I'm okay to drive my own vehicle. I need a glass of water, but yes -- I'm alright. My son isn't floating face down in the Merrimack and I'm going to drive over there and ... hug him.

The cops and I both jumped in our vehicles. They questioned him before I got there, and by the time I reached him they were laughing with him.

"Dude, you scared me so badly!" I tell him.

"Oh, sorry. There you are! I was going home..." he tells me as he gets cuddly and sweet in my lap.

I'm ready to lose my shit in front of the officers. I'm seriously freaking out. They had bought him a bottled water. I made him say thank you to the officers. I thanked the officers.

What happened is this:

Geoff was behind me. About 10 paces. I was walking slowly, watching the world. I always figured he was right there... right behind me. Watching the world too. He was. He just sees the world totally differently than I do.

He told me that he didn't know where I was, even though I was right in front of him. He didn't "recognize" me... which may be part of this whole learning disability thing. When he didn't see me, he decided that I'd left, and I'd gone home. And he should go home too. His intention was to walk home. He told the cops exactly how to get to his house, knew our address, knew his phone number... knew everything.

I told him after we'd found the geocache that we'd take a nice walk. When I talked to him later, he said he didn't think the park was nice for a walk, and that a walk home would be nicer. He knew the way, blow by blow, he knows the direction home. And he set off that way, crossing a hugely dangerous parking lot and getting ready to cross the busiest bridge on planet earth.

"Let's never get separated again, and lets never speak of this again, okay?" says Geoff to me in the truck as we're heading home.

We have spoken of it, we've spoken at length of it. We'll continue to speak at length of it.

I've taken him off his meds for vacation time to give him "a break," as the doctors say. I wasn't going to give them to him until Thursday when we're in Pennsylvania at Doug's folks.

He's going back on tomorrow. Attention Deficit is worse than I figured.

When we get home from vacation, I'm going back to the ballfield. I'm finding the team. I'm giving them gift certificates to the local Ice Cream stand. I'm saying thanks. I'm bringing Geoff.

To say thanks.


We had a campfire tonight. It felt good to sit with him, Geofflove... on the ground in front, burning wood, feeling the heat, feeling the warmth, letting his weight put my legs to sleep as I sat Indian Style... so happy to have him there. Relief.

And putting things on the fire. Can you smell the smoke? (thank you Ben Folds...)

Anyway -- I need to get to bed. We're tired here. I have to have the dogs in the truck at 8am, on the way to the kennel. I have to finish packing. Dishes that I didn't finish tonight due to the Geoff Adventures.

I drank some vodka. I'm feeling happy and cool and relaxed. I need to sleep.

More back at you peeps next Monday. Until then, keep an eye on the short kids that follow you, and keep Geoff in your constant prayers.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Cheese Life, In a Nutshell; Naked Eye better put on pants...

Good morning. I'm posting this entry first thing Just For Carrie. She requested I post something this morning, to keep her mind off the stress she's feeling with M's car project which isn't done yet and has to be on a truck on the way to Daytona today.

So Carrie, this one's for you! (the audience cheers madly!)

Funny kid facts. Let's start with Jessica.

Jessie greatly enjoys changing the lyrics to songs, and then singing them in her silly Weird Al kind of way over and over again. Not really a full song parody, but just a word or two.

Her latest is "Life, in a Nutshell" by BNL. She has added a new word. Instead of "All that matters to me is she" it's "All that matters to me is Cheese." If you're a BNL fan, next time you listen to Rock Spectacle, sing along. All that matters to me is cheese.

And cheese will figure in later in this entry, so keep in mind what I had to listen to all day on Saturday.

Now for a Geoff-ism.

Geoff is very literal. Part of his learning disability, according to the specialists. We have to explain things to Geoff that a lot of people take for granted... such as figures of speech. Although he breaks the mold because he has a sense of humor and recognizes things when they are "wrong" as "funny," the way most of us do, but figures of speech go right past him.

Anyway, the literal Geoff sees and hears things slightly differently than you and I. He doesn't pick up on nuances in language or nonverbal communication. That being said, he and I were reading a book on outerspace the other night, and the part about telescopes mentioned "The Naked Eye."

Geoff says, very straightforward and matter of factly, "Huh. I think the naked eye better go put on some pants." Geoff doesn't "crack jokes" very often. So I looked at him and asked him if he knew what the naked eye was. He said no, that he pretty much thought it was "some guy looking up into space with his while naked."

I explained, and he started laughing. He got his own joke, and understood the naked eye. It wasn't a joke initially but a misunderstanding of the term... both of us cracked up about the naked eye. I told him my eyes were naked, and that his always had pants on because of the glasses.

Later he was walking around without his glasses on and said 'Avert your eyes! My naked eyes are in the house!'

We had a good laugh. My kids crack my shit up.

The other morning I woke up singing "Rio" by Duran Duran. Mostly because I was dreaming about BNL and them doing that in concert... reliving a great memory. But then it was stuck in my head and I could not get it out. I spent the whole day humming it to myself as we hiked. I'm pathetic.

Are you humming it now? Good!

Since our last visit, my sister got engaged and the following day Ronnie asked my parents if it was okay. My mom got all weepy, my dad smacked him on the shoulder and muttered incoherently (I'm seeing visions of the same event in my own life about 13 years ago when Doug and Bart saw each other the first time after he proposed to me). My dad has been LONGING for a "nice Irish boy" to marry my sister instead of these Italian guys she kept dating. "C'mon Linda, why can't you find a nice Irish boy instead of these..." well, I won't insert the racially charged slur that dad would end the sentence with lest I offend any members of my readership who are of Italian descent.

So she finds the nice Irish boy, and he's happy, and she's happy. And who knows. Maybe this time next year they'll be married, maybe not. They haven't set a date and I have to let her tell the whole story in her journal, so I'll shut up now. I can't wait for her to come home and write it up. Yay Lee Lee!

Friday I had to go to that unemployment seminar thing. So I got the kids ready for school (or, red up fer school) and my neighbor drove. I crawled back into bed praying that I'd die in my sleep. I had such a sore throat and headache... Not the sickest I've ever been but certainly not feeling up to going to some retarded mandatory unemployment seminar crap.

I woke up at about noon, and had enough time to shower, dress and get in the vehicle to drive to Lowell. I wanted to make sure I was there in plenty of time, noting that the last time I headed out to one of these things I got stuck in traffic and was late and... screwed. Friday was the last possible day I could attend this seminar before they stopped my unemployment as a punishment for not going. Jerks.

Driving down the highway, I suddenly realized that I was on I-93 and not I-495. I was heading to Boston, not Lowell. I'm not sure how I did that. I think I thought that rte 125 through Andover would get me around the construction and bridge in Lawrence, I just didn't realize it would put me on the wrong highway. Duh?

I jumped off the highway and changed direction, heading North on 93 to get to 495 south. Luckily I was south of the bridge work, and made it to Lowell with five minutes to spare. They told us to be 15 minutes early, that if we were late we wouldn't be able to attend the seminar again... blah blah blah.

As God is my witness, eight people came in one by one well AFTER the seminar started. And I'm thinking to myself, what kind of bullshit is this, that at one center they're all laid back and nice and welcome people in 15 minutes late but at the other they're all insane scolding school marms with an axe to grind against the tardy.

The entire seminar was pointless. "These are the services our center offers. Now that you're in the system you can go to any center in Massachusetts and use the services. If you're a veteran we've got a special veterans liaison. If you're blind we have two computers with screen readers and low vision resolution... blah blah blah."

The girl doing the program was really nice, but the whole time she's up there I'm thinking "I could do this, and I could do it better. Why does SHE have this job and I don't." Not that I'd really want it, but...

Some of the people in the room were downright scary. There was this one girl there with a halter top on, showing her stretch marked, paunchy belly, and it said "Guilty" across the front in Gothic font. She sat there with her mouth hanging open the whole time. And you're unemployed because???

Her cell phone went off in the middle of the seminar AFTER the girl told everyone to turn off their cell phones, and she got up and left the room to take the call in the middle of the seminar.

I guess not only does she not have a job, she has no clue as well.

Who decides they are "above" or "exempt" from the established social behaviors? It has less to do with being an individual than it has to do with being a self centered bitch, in my opinion.

Top it all off with the fact that she yelled at the person on the other end of the line for calling her in the middle of the seminar.

My Lord. Like the person KNEW. And you're yelling at him -- why? You took the call, stupid ass. Hang that up and sit your ass down like the rest of us poor sheep who are just sitting here suffering through this crap to make sure our cash flow isn't interrupted.

Cell phone etiquette is such a huge issue to me. I hate people who feel they can just talk to whomever they want anywhere on earth. And I hear their conversations -- nothing important is taking place in these conversations. Cell phones rang during my daughter's play performance on the first night. The kids on stage were distracted. It sucked.

I hate them.

Anyway -- I rant, therefore I am. Back to my story.

After the painfully useless time-sucking seminar I asked the girl running it if she'd give me a resume critique. I handed her my resume and she told me that the format was all wrong and that I should see the resume expert down in the center. So I went to see him, and he hated my resume.

Now, I always thought my resume kicked ASS. I love the format. My work history is on one side of the page, my technical abilities, software skills, seminars/classes taught and my educational background are in a thinner column on the other side. I use two tones in the table. My heading is stylized and pretty. My. Resume. Kicks. Ass.

He shows me these two resumes as examples of great resumes. Both are two pages long, which I thought was a total resume faux pas. He told me that in 1990 it was. Well thanks, HR gods and goddesses for letting me KNOW that. The top of one was all "action words" about this person. And a descriptive list of stuff that this guy knew. Then, underneath it was "Accomplishments" and a bulleted list of stuff that he's done.

Nowhere on this resume did I see where the guy has ever worked and for what dates. There were no dates mentioned, just a bulleted list of companies he's worked at over the last 20 years. Perhaps this is a creative way of skipping over hugeassed gaps in employment:

Applicant: "Like, I was a MCI Cedar Junction for three years, so I don't want anyone to know that, Mr. Resume Guru."
Mr. Resume Guru: "That's okay, Convicted Felon Java Programmer, we can format your resume so there are no dates!"
Applicant: "Cool!"

I suppose it's helpful for someone in my position who has spent excessive time between jobs while looking for jobs, and it's a good way to not have HR Benefits Assistant on the top of my recent job history. So it's not something I fully scoff at. But still. It's meaningless. It didn't show me that he had the ability to stay anywhere for a length of time. I always thought the dates and chronological list of employers was really helpful to prospective employers, so they knew where you were coming from.

On the second resume, the "Objective" was so vague it should have said "Experienced Accounting Director continues to have a pulse." Useless. And he had this "Summary" section which ended with something like "A real go-getter!"

It was inky bullshit on 24lb ivory Hammermill paper.

I took some of the resume guy's advice, but I swear to God my resume is much better than the two that he had sitting there.

He read my resume very carefully and went to my online portfolio. He loved my online portfolio... was completely blown away by it. I was worried at first because he has a small monitor and I swear he's running 640 x 480 resolution. The header graphic was humongous on his screen (must do cross platform/alternate browser compatibility testing on my resume... meh!)

He left me with "We need to get someone from here [points at my paper resume] to here [points at screen] so you can blow their minds. Your print resume isn't inviting them here [points screen]. And that's why you're not getting any calls."

And I think he's right. So I have a mission. I have to redo my damn resume. The format that has gotten me interviews many times over in the past no longer seems to pull the pants off the HR rep and spank her hard enough to give my resume over to the actual hiring manager.


So that was Friday. Saturday we got up early (is this entry long and distracty enough for you Carrie!?) and went geocaching.

We have pretty much exhausted caches in this area. So we headed out to Winchendon/Gardner/Central MA to hit some. There was a cluster of caches in a park that we thought looked good. Plus we could go to Smith's Country Cheese in Winchendon and Jessie could sing her cheese song to her heart's content (and my ear's wrath).

Cheese shop first -- we picked up some gouda and smoked cheddar. Doug had hoped we could go visit the cows or tour the shop but they don't do that, so we stared at cows from afar and peeked into the windows of the cheese aging area where there where wheels upon wheels of gouda. It was like a cheese library.

We found that many of the roads in the area are Winter use roads that haven't been opened yet. Road after road was blocked with gates... it was very frustrating. We drove all around Templeton, Winchendon, Royalston, just trying to get access to these cache areas. On the first one, we parked at a gate about .45 from the cache, which wasn't bad, in fact it's a perfect round trip walk. Bonus was we had the road to ourselves for the dogs to run around on, and the kids to meander behind us. It was really nice. We found the cache after little searching, and hiked back to a cheesy snack with yellow peppers and celery. Yum.

Then, off to this one at Lake Dennison.

Well, again, we drove all around and couldn't find an open gate. The closest we could find was about .60 from the cache. So we figured that wasn't too bad, and we set out.

We got to within 400 feet of the cache, and discovered we were on the wrong side of the river. And it was a nice fast river, as Jack and Kinger found out when they jumped off of what used to be the bridge and into the water.

Duh?! Stumped. So now what? Do we walk back to the truck, get in the car, and try and drive around until we get to the bridge that we think is .40 south of here, or do we walk it, and then walk back UP another .40 to the cache, turn around and walk back to the truck?


Well. Doug opted for the latter. We walked it. And it was longer than .40, and there were lots of good water hazards (lots of very very careful foot placements on rocks as we tried to go down what used to be nice flat trails).

As we're hiking along, realizing that the walk back to the truck is going to be about 2 miles, Doug says "Well, perhaps a visit to the web for a trail map would have made this easier..." Yes indeed, because there are great, detailed maps that would have showed us exactly how to get here the easiest damn way. And what kind of cheeses me is that when I hide a cache and there are good trailmaps online, I always provide a link to save the cacher time in plotting out his/her trip. Like here's the winter use trail map and here's the summer use trail map, knock yerself out. [click on the graphic once to enlarte it to readable size].

But some people don't.

Oh well. We hiked onwards...

We made it to the cache and stood there looking at the other side of the river, where we had been earlier. Pfth. Then we walked back. We opted for walking on the road back to the truck instead of going back on the waterlogged trail we'd just used. It was a much nicer walk but probably an extra quarter mile added to the trip.

We bagged going to the next cache, as it was then 5pm and we wanted to get home for dinner. All told, I think we walked a full four miles for two geocaches. I don't mind the walking, I just mind the low "body count" for such a hike and the amount of time spent.

But we played "It could be worse" and said that bees could be stinging us. The trail could be completely swamped and we'd have to walk through in our shoes. Our dog could jump off a cliff. Things that have actually happened to us. It was a gorgeous day, gorgeous area, and heck, what's body count when you're out just having a hike.

The one I feel bad for after that is Kinger. He was limping and tired by the time we got back to the truck, and he figured heavily into our not going up to Doane's Falls for the cache there. We didn't want to have him not be able to climb back up after a steep descent. Poor thing.

Sunday dawned and again it was gorgeous. So we decided to go hit some more caches.

Much to Jessica's dismay.

There are a few in the area that we haven't yet hit... so we thought we'd sew up the loose ends in our own region. First we went over here, a brand new one not too far from where we hid his birthday present last year.

We also checked on that cache, did some site maintenance, cleaned up a problem with two clues in in the same location (due to one falling out and being buried in snow during the winter, I went out in January or February and hid a 2nd one... so people were confused as to why there were two in that spot. Duh. Someone picked up the "missing" one once the snow fell and put it in the hidey hole, obviously). So it turned into a full hike of about 2 miles total for us, plus a big assed hill to climb up from the cache we did. Nice.

We drove over here, to complete the cache that resulted in us getting stung by bees last June. Jessica refused to go. She wanted to stay in the truck alone, and was borderline freaking out. I didn't want to leave here there, by the side of the road as we walked about .75 of a mile to the cache and then back, so we told her we'd skip it but she had to do all the rest of the caches without a single complaint.

She agreed -- anything to get out of there. I had promised her we'd come back before the warm weather, and now she wants to wait until it's cold again to visit this one. Thing is, I doubt we'd be attacked at this time of year by any bees in that area, especially if we walked past slowly and quietly. We wanted to conquer her fear of that area. And truth be told, nothing says we won't be attacked somewhere else. But... she's scared shitless, so we left.

Then we went over here, where we parked 490 feet from the cache. We thought "Pfth. How PIMPY. We'll be in and out of here in no time!" We didn't realize it was pretty much 300 vertical feet, and that we'd have to walk the trail around the backside of the hill, thus making it a lot longer of a hike. Again with the hills. Phew! It was worth it -- there was a slightly obstructed view down to Boston, and it was obvious no one ever comes there, and the trail was nice. And we had fun.

Then down to North Reading, where we did a cache in a very public park and we had to keep from being seen, which is kind of hard to do when you're a part of six large beings. In geocaching circles, when someone sees you hiding or finding a cache, they are "Muggles," which is, of course, Harry Potter-ism for non-magical folk but in this case they're non-cachers. We've been "muggled" a few times, and usually we explain what we're doing and let them know we're not terrorists of subversive evil underminers of woodland areas.

We weren't muggled there, but we quickly left to head over to this cache, which exceeded our expectations greatly. It was a beautiful conservation area, with tons of birds. All sorts of different birds everywhere, and it was wonderful to hear them ringing all through the woods. We found the cache with little difficulty and decided to call it quits. We had two more printouts with us, but it was starting to get cold, and Kinger was getting limpy again. He's a good barometer for us. So we piled in the truck and noticed that the property next to the parking area was for sale.

It is an old barn, on a little less than an acre of land. We weren't sure if the property was being sold just for the property or so someone could rehab the barn and make it a living space. We started fantasizing about it. It's 3 stories high. It would make a kick ass house.

While looking in all the windows, I knew exactly where I wanted the kitchen and the first floor bathroom/laundry area, and how the large sliding barn door area could be removed, and a huge fireplace built in by my current mason nextdoor neighbor. The front door would be beautiful French doors, with a mud room, and off the side there would be a deck to party on until we barfed.

The second floor could be easily three bedrooms and a cavernously huge bathroom, and each bedroom could have a cute loft area using the third floor. Plus, all that storage up there. It could be the dream house of the century. Preserving what appeared to be a very historic building and giving it new life.

Doug was evaluating the area and said that he thought that it was probably $200,000, and that the barn could be converted for another $150,000, and it would be a rustic, modern palace.

I looked it up last night on I almost plotzed. $479,000. Holy shit.

My dream flew out the window. I put the phone down, decided not to call Bob Villa or PBS to talk to whomever is the host of "This Old House." That's a lotta dosh. And it looks like the property is for sale with intent of knocking the barn down. And that's kind of sad, considering the name of the geocache right behind the property is "Vanishing Heritage." Someone can knock the barn down and build yet another personality-free box of a house as cheaply and quickly as possible.

Oh well.

But I did dream about the barn last night.

I had this wonderful dream about how beautiful it was when we were finished, and how we got a chandelier of deer horns for the dining area, and how the fireplace was huge and beautiful and the stone front was exposed all the way up to the top of the house on the one end, and the second floor was U shaped and had a railing where you walked around and could look down into the living room, and there were four bedrooms, not three, and a huge cavernous bathroom.

And the floors were sanded and stained, and polycoated, and you could see hoofmarks on the floor in my beautiful kitchen. And that was so cool.

I dreamed this, and woke up sad. Vanishing heritage indeed.

Well okay, I hope this entry has been distracty enough for you Carrie, it sure does meander about the whole universe, doesn't it? I am hoping I'll get one more entry out before we go on vacay... I was going to rant about the Boston Marathon, but pfth. Who cares. I'm up here in the woods with my dreams of living in a barn. Who needs the marathon.

Have a good day y'all.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Interview phase one

Special thanks to Carrie for giving my online portfolio a comb through, and pulling out all the snarls for me. Always have a good QA person with editorial content eye.

Yesterday, after my entry, I hopped into the shower, got ready and dashed over to Lawrence MA for my Unemployment Training Seminar. Oh rapture, oh joy.

I got to an intersection where there was a car accident. They rerouted us, and I ran into road construction which had a major road shut down to one passable lane with a cop on detail not really caring whether or not the cars got through.

I turned around and headed for 495. Big mistake.

495 was a huge mess. Three lanes reduced to one at the bridge in Lawrence. I could have abandoned my vehicle and run to the location faster. It was that close.

I was five minutes late.

I was scolded, along with three other people who also were late. One girl flipped out at the scolding lady with the "what the hell do you expect when every possible route here is blocked?!"

They rescheduled us. I am going on Friday afternoon now. Again, Oh joy, oh rapture.

So not having to spend two hours being shown how job search boards on the internet work, I went clothes shopping instead. I hooked me up with a couple nice skirts and blouses, got something for baby Liam, got Geoff some new skivvies and came home to finish the portfolio. I like how it came out. I used the sunflower graphic that I have on my first page. Life is good.

Overall, the interview went exceptionally well. I was very confident, even if my voice was shot from the cold. Brian got me a huge cup of hot water, which helped a lot.

They reviewed my portfolio, had me go through the college website and make comments and questions, which I did. One of the big things was when I was there initially I was told never to stray from the marketing/publications color palate. Now, I can't find a pixel of orange on the front page of the site. It's all blues in different shades... and the sanctioned font of Perpetua isn't being used in the navigation. My head would have been on a platter had I done that. So I questioned what the deal was there. And we discussed how the site is half branded and half freeform, with people still doin' their thing in the academic departments.

I also asked why the person who had the job had vacated the job to go work doing what he did before. Was it a management issue, was he sick of design and wanted to go back to the other thing he used to do. One of the committee members told me it was a hard decision for the guy to make, but that it had nothing to do with him hating his job or supervisor or team. It was a money issue and a love of what he was doing before issue. So that made some of my fears go away. I was afraid that he vacated the position because of problems with the supervisor. I don't know him well, but I think he's a nice guy... I couldn't imagine him being a psycho. I felt better for asking the question and getting an answer.

I think I'll be promoted from this round to the next round of interviewingness, which is with the person who would be my supervisor.

It was great to see the people that I interviewed with. And I checked in with Ben and Dan before I left for home for a brief visit. It was good fun.

Now, my cold and I have to go to the post office and pay our taxes, and my cold and I then will be hitting the sofa for a nap. My cold and I have some web updates to take care of, and my cold and I will be doing dishes. So if you need us, we're here. Just send an email or call.

I hope y'all are having a great day.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Unemployment and Employment

Today I have to attend an unemployment seminar. I'm sure those of you who have been unemployed know about these. For those who've never had the joy or privilege, in essence, it is a 2 hour sit around and find out how to find a job seminar.

It is mostly effective for people who need to learn office skills because they've been machine operators for 10 years. They will train you on all the basic computer software platforms so you can get an office job when manufacturing jobs are vanishing.

Office jobs are vanishing too, but that's beside the point.

That's going to be at 10am. At 3pm, I have a job interview at the college where I used to work for a web/graphics design position. I am not sure how I feel about the prospects of going back that way. I'm certainly not sure I'll make the final cut. I don't have that kind of cocky Prodigal Son sense that I will come back there and be embraced. I know I would be by several faculty and the friends I've maintained. But I'm not sure the administration will see it that way.

I've greatly missed the academic vibe. In addition to this job, I have submitted my resume to the Colleges of The Fenway system in Boston for a position at Emmanuel doing exactly the same thing. I'd gladly take either, although I'd have to figure out what to do about the huge commute from here to Fenway. I keep telling myself that we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. If I get a call for an interview. Should I get an offer...

The way the college where I'm interviewing does it is they have a search committee go through the resumes and rank them as yes, maybe, no way jose. The maybes get a closer look to weed out a possible yes or no. Then they go through the portfolios of the individuals, ranking the designed sites on a scale of one to five... five being the best. Then, of those people, they bring in the 3s and up.

From 90 resumes the first pass down to about 10 people. And I made that 10 people cut.

I know the four members of the search committee. Some very well, others in a close acquaintance and huge respect and worship from afar (the webmaster for the school of business is on the committee--I think he is tremendous and a very smart and creative designer. He awes me, and I feel shitty in his shadow). I have no doubt I will make it past these four to the next step, interviewing with the person I should have been if I'd stayed at the college -- the Director of the web team.

He was hired after I'd been gone for a while. I've met him socially. He has no baggage when it comes to me, and I have no history with him, so it will be very much like a regular interview. If I make it past him, it's up to the CIO if I get hired.

I left on less than perfect terms when I bailed. There were a lot of hurt feelings, mine especially. I'm not sure if I look like I'm slinking back there begging for scraps for work or if I look like the kind of person who left the nest, developed great skills and learned many things and now wants to come 'home' to continue the good work. I don't know how he'll see me. I don't think he liked me. He certainly didn't give me that impression, but he's hard to read. I'm really nervous and scared to go into that part of the interview process if I make it that far.

I feel that I've grown up a lot in the last four years. I learned a lot more at the internet company where I bailed to in 2000 than I ever could have learned if I stayed there. I know that this job is sort of a low man on the totem pole position, but it pays over 10k more than what it paid when I was there last, and there is about 1/3 the amount of work that needs to be done because the old job I had was split into several pieces.

This could be the best job ever, it could be "You can't go home again." We shall see.

Whatever it is, I have to take my stuffy nose, sore throat, sort of a fever thing into there and shine so that I'll be passed on to the next level. Wish me luck. Send me mojo. Cross your fingers. Here goes nothing.

On the subject of stuffy head/cold/nose/throat things... I noticed the other day that we all successfully made it through the fall and winter without catching anything. All four of us. That, my friends, is unheard of in this house. Especially with two school aged children and a man who works in a nursing home, where all sorts of evil, vile germies and viruses attach themselves to unwitting bodies and come home with.

Geoff had a bit of a runny nose and cough a week or so ago. Right after the play ended Jessica succumbed to something which put her in bed one afternoon and she slept until the following school day. Her body looked as if it was going to give up the fight before the play ran, but she held on and gave in the following Monday. She went through this past weekend miserable, but she's much better now. Doug caught it for a little while, mostly the sore throat sneezy/stuffy head thing. And now it's my turn. Just in time to go interview.

Hopefully it will clear up before next week. We've decided to go to Western PA to visit Doug's family. Actually, we decided a few weeks ago but were met with resistance as to staying at his folks' house (long story). So we were going to go to perhaps Washington DC. Geoff wanted to go to A & M's, which is where we go when our family doesn't love us or want us. (Two February vacations ago this exact same thing happened, so we went on what we called "The Northern Hospitality Tour" where we were welcomed with open arms and shots of whiskey at the door).

We are going to stay at a hotel with a pool, and we're going to geocache our fat asses off, and we're going to have boatloads and pantloads and bucketloads of fun, and no one is going to stop us, damnit!

I chaperoned a field trip yesterday for Jessica's class. It was a really good time. We went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and there were two chaperones to eight kids, boys & girls mixed, and a tour guide.

It took 90 minutes to get there. The bus driver drove through Beacon Freakin' Hill and we got stuck trying to turn a corner behind the State House. I was sitting there freaking out because you don't take a school bus through Beacon Hill!!! Oh my GOD!

But he 90 point turned and got us out of there, to all the beeping and consternations of the people in front of and behind us. I swear this one guy was going to drive his Mini Cooper up on the sidewalk and around us. THAT is a car for Beacon Hill.

The kids are studying Ancient Rome and Greece, AGAIN. They did this in fourth grade.

I'll save my comments for that for my next entry.

Regardless, the kids seemed to really enjoy the tour, and the tour guide did a great job with them. She was an older lady, but not too old, and very interested in hearing from them and talking to them.

We had two boys in our group with ADHD, and both of them stuck with it as long as they could. I could tell it was overwhelming to one of them. He did things that Geoff does. And I can see me chaperoning this trip again in 5 years with Geoff.

We walked through an area where one girl refused to go. It was the mummies and sarcophagi (??? spelling) and she was afraid, so I walked her around. She was honestly shaking, and told me that the room creeped her out so bad last time they came here that she passed out.


Anyway -- my daughter was Smitty Smartypants through the whole tour. She knew the answer to every question posed to the group by the guide. Why do you think they designed it like this? Who is this man in this carving with the lion skin over his shoulder? Is this statue realistic or idealized and why?

That kid. I tell ya. Eventually the guide had to pick other kids. And the kids didn't answer the questions. You know how kids are -- "Well, when my grandmother was buried, she was put into a mausoleum." That's nice Joanna, but why is this...

Funny ancedote for you -- before leaving for the field trip yesterday, I dropped the kids off and ran back here to have my breakfast. I threw my money and my camera batteries in my front pocket because I didn't want to bring my entire pocketbook. After a few minutes of running round the house here, my pants started to feel hot and very burny. My front pocket was about to catch on fire.

Never put batteries and pennies in a confined space together. Doy???

So I had to change pants, and I was late. I got on the bus and announced that to the kids with a big goofy face and double thumbs up. Everyone laughed hysterically. All the boys were asking me why it happened and how they could do it. I encouraged them not to but still explained why.

It was a big hit.

Anyway. I'm in need of getting in the shower so I can get ready for this unemployment thing. It's 1/2 hour from home. I have 20 minutes to shower and dress. I was going to color my hair for my interview, but... We all over slept this morning.

For some reason none of our alarm clocks went off. And because of Daylight Savings, our human alarm clock, Geoff, got out of bed on his own at 7:40. A week ago he would have been up at 6:40 making all his Geoff noise. If he hadn't been all door slammy and mad a the toilet lid, we might all still be asleep and he'd be sitting on the couch playing Sly Cooper.

More later, peeps.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Good Friday Good Saturday Good Sunday

It's all about the update
Well, things have been busy since I was here last. Wednesday I took Geoff to Children's Hospital for what I thought was going to be neuropsych testing. I was prepared to spend about 4 hours there waiting while they did the full battery of neuropsych on him... but instead, it was a consultation with a neurologist to determine whether or not Geoff needs a neuropsych evaluation... even though I already have documentation from a psychologist and a psychiatrist who both say "Geoff needs a neuropsych evaluation." And, once that neuropsych evaluation is done, he interprets it and writes recommendations for Geoff for school and living ... but he doesn't do any testing. He looked Geoff's paperwork and school IEP testing over and said 'uh, yeah. Geoff needs a neuropsych evaluation.'

Well, Duh, buddy. Why do you think I'm here?

So in essence, it was kind of a wasted day. The doctor told me the neuropsych department at Children's has a 2 year waiting list for evaluations, so he gave me a list of doctors to contact, and then from there we'll interface with him and he'll write the report of findings and stuff after the whole kit and kaboodle is done.


So on Thursday morning I spent a few long hours making phone calls to find out these other doctors had 6 month, 8 month, 15 month waiting lists or they were "not taking new patients at this time."

Of all the messages I left, only one called me back. Mass General can see Geoff for testing sometime this summer, and then the reports can be analyzed and back to the school by the beginning of the academic year. A full diagnosis will be in hand, and the school can put whatever Geoff needs into place... but not until they have all of that.

All this should have been done in February in order for things to be in place and perfect for the beginning of the year.

There is a doctor who comes very highly recommended to me, and he's pretty close to us geographically. He can see us now. But he doesn't take insurance, and it is about $2000 out of pocket to pay for it. Not sure which is worse, having my wallet raped or having my son's time stolen.

I'm thinking we'll lean to the testing in July. If I had a lucrative job that paid me well, 2000 is a drop in the bucket to get this taken care of. But I still want to talk to this other doctor and find out what the deal with the no insurance thing...

I told Doug the other day that after my experience trying to get a human to even talk to me, I feel I should go to graduate school, get a degree in Neuropsychology, open a private "testing center" in the upstairs apartment and never have to worry about being unemployed again. Hell, I called a doctor in Springfield only to find out she's got a waiting list too.

It seems ridiculous that there are SO many doctors, but an overwhelming number of kids (and adults) who need their services. Fucking hell.

I found it all incredibly frustrating. I wanted to go for a ride, go to the ocean, go get a big pizza (no! no! Diet must not suffer! do not succumb to pizza temptation because of doctor frustration!)

But our truck was in the shop on Thursday for the day (leaking power steering fluid like mad) so I was without vehicle.

To deal with my frustration, I grabbed the GPS and went out. And the next part of the entry begins...

It's All About the Cache
I took a walk.

I went out and hid a geocache in our neighborhood. I didn't realize that there are over 50 acres of "town" land out across the pond, and I felt it needed some cache action. I spent three hours plotting this one out. First, I walked to the sanctioned parking area about .40 miles from my front door. I started into the woods and found the trails submerged. I tried to ford around... but the ground was like quicksand and I barely got out of there with my shoes. Heading home, I realized that I'd read somewhere that there was an alternate trailhead, so I walked back to my house and past it, up the road and back into the neighborhood that abutts the conservation land.

Sure enough, I found the trailhead and plowed in. I went all the way over to the area of the pond that I tried to walk over to on the opposite side, just to measure the distance and meter out a hide that would be equidistant from both trailheads. I found a pretty awesome hiding spot about .35 miles from both trailheads, but only after wandering around in there for a good hour checking everything out. I so should have made it a multi-step cache. I could have made a good one. No one says I still can't though... mwah ha ha.

My frustration with the American Medical Bureaucracy was slightly lessened, or at least my murderous rage was diminished. It was a wonderful time outside, and I really enjoyed the solo time and the hide.

Friday, Geoff had a friend over for the day as they had no school for Good Friday. Instead of taking his Jewish friend to Good Friday services, I figured it would be cool if we all went and hid a cache over in Rowley. He (Zack) was very impressed with the hike, the hide and the concept of Geocaching. His dad was too when I explained it to him later that day.

It was like church, only steeper and rockier. And with bees. I saw bees but didn't get stung. Whew. We had a camp fire that afternoon with Zack, and everyone had a super excellent time.

Saturday we got up early, and headed into Maine where we did five caches. We drove past one that we'd programmed in last year and forgot to do, so we started here in York, ME. It was a micro cache in the wall of a cemetery. Very cool and very nice. The weather was perfect. As always, we spent a lot of time reading tombstones. The major cool thing about living in New England is the history and the dead. A lot of other parts of the country don't have the kind of gravity that the east coast has... where settlers came in 1701 to start a little community north of Boston a ways, after getting law degrees at Hahvahd... There was a lot to see and read. But time was burning, and we headed to Ogunquit.

We went to a cache that had us stumped. I thought I "got" the joke in the first step of the multi and we headed over to where we thought part two was. It was hard to get to, and on private land. but after talking to Fismo and the Owenses we learned that my really cool-assed hunch was ... wrong. I think the clue is totally missing, although the cache owner was there one day in late March and states that it is indeed there. Hell if we didn't see it. I thought that my idea of using what I thought the coordinates was pretty smart... it would have been really cool to put it where we headed, but it was wrong.

We didn't head back to look again. Yesterday was gorgeous... we got a lot of funny looks from "muggles" as they're called (non-caching humans) who couldn't figure out what we were scouring a signpost for. The crowds and the frustration got to us -- we bailed and headed to Wells.

Aaaah. No crowd. No problems. Great swimming for the dogs and an easy find here. We enjoyed the scene for a bit and then hopped in for the next one up in ... Biddeford!

Yes, Jen, I could have called you if I knew we were heading your way. I thought we were going straight past and up to OOB, but there we were at Clifford Park. We snuck in the "back" way where the construction is taking place. What a beautiful little location this turned out to be. We grabbed and ran, as some muggles watched us. Oops.

Then over to Ferry Beach State Park, where the longest walk of the day was had. It was .36 to the cache from the car, but then we walked the length of Long Pond and headed across Rte 9 to the ocean view. We hung out there for quite a while, enjoying being the only ones on the beach, sandwiched between a view up to Portland and down to Biddeford Pool.

The day was starting to burn away, so we trucked back to the truck and went to this cache. Another decent length to walk (about .35) to the cache, and all were doing well. Geoff managed to step off of a little ice lip and right into the creek, which was up to his knees. So he was soaked, Kinger was starting to limp, and we were all getting hungry so it was time to pack it in.

We got home and RSVP'ed to a campfire at another local cache-ing team's house the next town over. We cheated on the diet and had some 1 carb per bottle malt beverage (aaah. fire. resting. cool drink. springtime) and spent about three hours hanging out with people we'd never met before, and the Fismo team, who knew us both.

All told, a full day. A full, fun and wonderful day. Spring is here. Our family had fun. And to steal from PG Wodehouse, "God is in his heaven and all is right with the world."

It's All About the Christ
Today being Easter, we dragged our sorry tired butts out of bed and went to church. Geoff, on his meds, was a saint. Normally he can't sit through a whole church service... especially a long one with a huge long communion (when the church is packed, communion takes For Ever).

At the end of communion, when the organist stopped playing, Geoff applauded. Everyone cracked up. I asked him if he liked the organ playing once we were outside, and he said "that guy played for such a long time while everyone waited in line. He worked hard. It was like going to a concert. That's why I clapped."

Makes sense to me.

We did an Easter egg hunt on the lawn outside. Geoff is the perfect age for this, and he enjoyed himself fully. All the older kids (a bit older than Jessie) did the hiding. I love how they put stuff right in the middle of the lawn so the two year olds can walk right up and find things.

After church, we came home and dyed Easter eggs here at the house. The kids did a great job... and they came out lovely. Geoff was so into it... it was so much fun to be here with him while he pondered how to make two-toned eggs and how there should be a cool machine you can buy that holds the eggs in half way so they dye nicely and you don't have to sit there and hold onto it with the wire thingy yourself.

I love Easter. I love springtime, the concepts of Resurrection, the rebirth of hope. Our pastor's sermon today was about personal rebirth, the kind of effort it took Christ to rise from the dead can happen in your own life if you will release yourself from the tomb. Angels are waiting to help you push the stone away.

Wherever you find yourself, she told us to think about doing just that. You don't have to be Jesus, you don't have to be a saint. You just have to be willing to die to your past life, be it alcohol or drugs, anger from broken relationships, depression over your life and situation, whatever the case may be. Die to it, arise from the grave of sadness, and become new again.

Your life may not be perfect, but you should take what you perceive as a death or ending and turn it into a beginning, a birth. And run with it. Show you are willing and you will walk free. Very wonderful sermon... lovely day.

Happy Easter to you all.

It's All About the Cash
We thought it was supposed to start raining this afternoon so we skipped the caching action (no! really? A day without caching!!!). Jessica was relieved. She's got a cold and didn't want to be hiking again, although I told her I could tell the fresh air did her body good the day before but she doesn't believe me. When she was all smiles and happy at 11:45 at night by the camp fire regaling the host and other team with her bee sting stories... well, I saw that the day of hard hiking had done her body good.

But we stayed home because there was a very important task at hand. Doug did our taxes instead.

He always waits until the very end... and pulls through in a few hours what would take me a week or five to do. The only thing we have left to put in there is the interest paid on Doug's student loans and our kids SSNs, which I cannot find. I have no idea where I put their SS cards last year after we entered them into the form. Ooops. Guess what I'm doing tomorrow.

We're getting a small refund, very, and we owe the state a small amount so it kind of balances out nicely. I was afraid we'd have a huge debt to pay... meh! Glad it isn't that way. Normally I greatly enjoy paying the government our taxes instead of getting a refund. I'd rather have the money in my account earning me interest until it is due than the GOVERNMENT earning interest on my money until they feel like sending me my refund. But this year, I'm glad we don't owe much of anything. Not working sucks.

More resumes are flying out the door. Three more go tomorrow. I'm sending resumes into Boston, whereas I said I wouldn't do such a thing. Gah. I have to get a job and get some money.

Speaking of money, not quite sure how we are going to do this but we're going to go to Doug's hometown area for a couple o days next week for school vacation. My husband decided that he'd rather go and have us stay in a hotel than have our plans dictated to us by someone else's scheduling needs.

Guess what we'll do while we're there...Geocache?


It's All About the Conclusion
Anyway -- that's pretty much our past few days all summed up. Sorry it was all about the Geocaching... but then again, it's spring. We're reborn. We're outside. It is fun. Hallelujah, Christ is risen. Our batteries are charged and we have a map and a truck. Get out of our way.

More normal stuff later. I'm kinda goofy tonight. Much apologies.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Green Eggs and Play Pictures

I can't even begin to explain the plot of the play. It was crazy, complicated, weird, funny. It all worked out beautifully... as you can tell, in addition to my own daughter I was quite taken by the orange and purple haired spirits. Everyone was. They were tremendously funny... very talented girls there. Not a single line between them, but they were in just about every scene. Kudos to all the kids. Bravo!

I don't like eggs.

I've never liked eggs. The texture, the smell. I can smell eggs boiling in the pot. At Easter time, I have to open all the windows while boiling eggs for the kids to dye, lest I puke.

So this Atkins diet thing requires me to eat high protein, low/no carb foods. Eggs are eggsactly that. Oh, how punny.

But I have had this lifetime aversion to them. I think it is a deep seated hatred from my before-Four years. I distinctly recall my Aunt force feeding me eggs for dinner one night. I wouldn't eat them, she held my face and shoveled them in. I think I was sick for days. I think I was violated (her intentions were good, make sure the kid eats dinner... so she made sure the kid ate dinner), hence the egg aversion.

My sister asked me "Why are you eating things that make you puke? What kind of diet are you on that requires you to do this to yourself?"

The kind of diet I'm on doesn't require me to eat foods I gag on, it requires me to not eat foods that I worship.

I could just eat 10 slices of bacon and a stick of butter. That would be Atkins friendly, but that's not good nor is it appetizing to me.

My breakfast food of choice is french toast. I love me some French toast. Five or six slices, cinnamon, brown sugar, tons of butter, tons of syrup. Insert Homer Simpson drooly noise here. I also love breakfast cereals. I could eat Corn Chex all day every day. I love Raisin Bran Crunch. Captain Crunch. Crunch, crunch, crunch.

So running out of options and getting sick of Canadian Bacon fried with a slice of swiss cheese every day, I have turned to "the incredible edible egg." I've tried to figure out how I can eat these things without immediately reversing peristalsis.

The other day I made myself an omlette, and choked it down. If one who loves eggs had been here, one would have LOVED this omlette. It had sautéed yellow pepper, mushroom, scallions and ... spinach. A beautiful slice of muenster cheese and two pieces of crumbled bacon were in the middle. It was topped off with scallions and shredded cheddar. Perfectly seasoned, perfectly folded. It was picture-book perfect in an Omlette Lover's Paradise.

In my reality, it was barely tolerable.

A few days later, I had breakfast with C. On the menu were scrambled eggs with boursin cheese. Well. That sounded intriguing. I asked for sautéed mushrooms to be inserted, and got sausage and chopped it up and mixed it in. One would think the boursin cheese would be too gross inside scrambled eggs, but it was actually great. I was surprised.

Today, I revisited the eggs (again, very sick of Canadian bacon, and didn't want to eat turkey for breakfast).

Another omlette. This time with bacon, onion and mushroom, and because we lack boursin I used an ounce of cream cheese, cubed.

It was, again, perfect. And this time, I liked it.

What is becoming of me?

I went to the school yesterday morning to re-hang the black and white headshots and a "Congratulations Cast of the Play!" sign at the school. I printed out some candids from my digital camera, which mostly came out okay but could have been better if the lighting was better, but I won't bitch about that...

When I got there, I realized the Art Teacher had absconded the window panes where the black and white headshots were SUPPOSED to go that morning. Traditionally, the headshots are up for a week before the show, come down and get posted up at the theatre (middle school building), get taken down the last day of the performance and are re-hung in their spots the following morning and stay up for a week. I was surprised to see she'd put pictures up, but the music director (2nd in command) who had given me the task of doing this had taken the day off (deservedly so) and I had no one to turn to.

I couldn't quite take down the Art Teacher's pictures, so I went to the principal to ask her what to do.

She directed me to a board in the foyer for pictures or events and activities. She told me to go ahead and take down everything that was there, and hopefully everything I had would fit. I knew it would be tight, but I did as she directed.

The pictures that I took down were of the sixth grade camping week last October. They'd been up there for quite a while... It was about time they came down...

I was about 80% finished hanging the pictures when the school janitor came up to me. He stood there behind me and just stared at what I was doing.

"Is there a problem with these?" I asked.

"Well, they're going to have to come down, they are in violation of the fire code," he tells me.


In F
ebruary of last year, a nightclub in Rhode Island burned down in about 4 minutes flat. 100 people perished in the blaze. The fire and its aftermath resulted in Fire Chiefs throughout the northeast making a rule for school buildings:

No art/paper/flammable objects on the walls in the public school buildings. None. Period. End of conversation.

Why? Well, oh my GOD! The artwork could catch fire and burn the school down, and kill millions of children. Won't someone please think of the children!!!! Our Fire Chief jumped on the band wagon about 3 months into the school year. The town over from us took all their artwork off the wall a few days after the fire. As if the school were to suddenly combust and explode that day.

The thing that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever is the fact that the fire was at a nightclub. A nightclub building is VERY very different than an elementary school building.

The differences:

Nightclub: 50 plus year old wooden building with no sprinkler system because of a grandfather loophole in the law that exempted them from having one installed. A building that is wood and old should defiantly NOT be grandfathered out of anything fire safety wise, but, it is politics as usual in bullshit New England.

Most Public Schools: Concrete, Brick, Steel and Glass, with workable and inspected annually or or twice a year sprinkler systems in every room and hall, clearly marked fire exits, fire drills, kids familiar with the layout of the building, fire drills, teachers who are level headed and know the rules, fire drills, no intoxication resulting in slow action/confusion on the part of those evacuating the building.

The nightclub fire was a very horrible event, tragic, unbelievable. I feel horribly for each and every family impacted by what happened, from the guitar player in the band to the barmaid, and each fan of the band that was playing there who was lost.

But. It totally could have been prevented. Let's examine the causes.

The nightclub fire was caused by:

Illegal Soundproofing Material (egg crate foam) spraypainted with highly flammable paint

Indoor pyrotechnics which the nightclub stated they had no idea would be set off, and they were set off a few feet away from the foam

Overcrowding in the club

Poorly marked fire exit signs

Lousy fire code inspections and a lax system where no one knew what someone else was doing, no one was accountable and fingerpointing continues to this day

Tell me how a concrete elementary school where there is a fire exit in between every two classrooms is the same as the nightclub.

Show me a case of one elementary school in this entire country that burned to the ground and had casualties because of pictures of fish or Egyptian gods and goddesses on the walls.

Elementary schools don't burn to the ground in a heartbeat because of art on the walls, for God's sake. The nightclub burned to the ground because of irresponsibility on the part of the band and the club owners and the Fire Inspector. It was a little tinderbox waiting for a spark, and unfortunately that spark lit that little community up, and many souls were lost.

For schools, building by building district wide solution should have been put into place instead of an outright ban on any hanging paper. If there was a four story wooden schoolhouse with wood framing and wood this and wood that in this district I'd be all for having a paper on the walls ban.

Instead of THINKING our Fire Chief had knee-jerk reacted along with just about every other one in the region. It's just easier that way. Don't analyze, don't think, don't inspect, just outright flat out ban. Damn the results.

What are the results? Think of your elementary school classrooms and halls. If your school was anything like what my kids enjoyed up until about November of this year, it was vibrant, interesting, constantly changing. What's a school without the artwork and projects of the kids hanging on the walls in the classroom or in the hallways? It's a dank, boring, institutional building with no life and character.

The teachers don't like it, the students don't like it, and the parents are disappointed by it.

So that's the backstory. Our hallways suck. Our classrooms have no life or character. Teachers aren't even allowed to use the windowsill for storage because something could suddenly burst into flames because of the heater...

It's ridiculous. But I rant (therefore I am).

"But there were pictures here that have been hanging here since October. Were they in violation of the fire code?"

"They were supposed to be taken down, but nothing was supposed to be posted back up. A guy is coming to hang a glass display case here, sometime this week... not sure when. It could be today, it could be Friday."

Oh, how convenient. SOMEtime this week. Sure.

"Well, Mrs. K___ the principal (your boss!) TOLD me to hang these here. I'll take them down if you want, but you'd better go talk to her first. I think she's under the impression that they can stay here a few days." And I went back to hanging them up.

"I'd hate for you to have to go through all the work of hanging these," he was very sweet, and I understood he was just doing what he knew he was supposed to do... but if I had to take them all down again I would. I just wasn't doing it without Mrs. K knowing. I thanked him for his concern for my hard work, told him I had all the time in the world and I wanted to do the right thing by the cast of the play and get these pictures displayed for them.

I saw him enter her office, and then a few minutes later he left. He didn't come back and tell me to take them down, that "the guy would be arriving soon" to hang the glass display case. I'm thinking the guy isn't going to be on time, or that perhaps they've been waiting a while, and Mrs. K just wants them displayed this week. She commended my work and the arrangement, so she didn't seem concerned.

The collage is wonderful, and it's still up today because I got a phone call from a mom telling me that it looks FABULOUS and asking me for a copy of one of the candids that I took. I hope it can stay up until Friday.

Stupid friggin' fire code crap.

Well, the sun is shining for a change and it's about 40 degrees out. No better time than the present. There are errands to run, I have a geocache that I need to go hide. I need to pick up some swag for the box. I need to go to the bank and make a deposit. I have to finish graphics for the dart people. I have so much to do.

More later!

Monday, April 05, 2004

Chloe has a brother...

Two and a half years ago I welcomed Chloe here... and it is a pleasure to bring these tidings to you once again. May I be the first of the Boston Bloggers to welcome Liam into the loving home of Bonnie and Duncan, and big sister Chloe.

No one has cuter babies than Doug and I do (hee hee!)... but I think these babies have always given them a run for their money. They are gorgeous.

First of all, Chloe is a goddess. Check out those cheeks and that smile. She's the perfect blend of mom and dad... I see both so clearly in her face. Like no other child I've ever met. And Liam, look at his adorable nose and fuzzy blonde hair.

I can't wait to see them and hold him and sniff his babyness. That sounds kind of creepy, but... I can't wait.


So happy for you guys, I can't even begin to verbalize it. Suffice to say -- congrats and may the Lord bless your kids and you with all the love, guidance and protection you need.

All told, the play went perfectly. As always there are little gaffes here and there, but having sat through all three performances I can say that yes -- this was a great success. I can't believe a bunch of 11 and 12 year old kids pulled this huge production off. The costumes were outstanding, and of course, my daughter, our Jessie, was stupendous.

Kudos to her.

They had the cast party today and it was a screaming success. We dropped her off and went hiking. She so didn't want us hanging there, crampin' her way too cool for you style. She came in the door with a giant blow-up lobster that she used as a prop in the play (long story) and when "they" entered together the girls went wild.

The Geocache that we planted yesterday up in Newbury was approved. Two finders have made it out there so far. It's well received... excellent!

While Jessie was cast partying, Doug, Geoff and I went off to scope out another geocache location. We have plans for like 8 in the area.

The cache is up in Georgetown, on a huge hill where there is a radio tower and a fire tower, and we found the perfect not too obvious hiding spot. We mwah ha ha ha'ed our way back to the car because it's going to be so cool and SO hard in the summer time (150 ft of pure bushwhacking from one point in the trail to the actual hidey hole). HA! So mean.

I have to return with the swag box tomorrow (as long as the snow holds off... what's up with that??? Snow!!!???)

We also drove over to Ipswich and Rowley to scope out a couple other places. Doug thought we had plenty of time and couldn't figure out why it was getting so dark out. Then he realized the clock in his VW hadn't been changed for daylight savings, so we were an hour later than he thought. It made him mad. I couldn't believe it was 7:30 and it wasn't pitch dark.

Thank you sunshine! So we hightailed it home for dinner. We were all feeling pretty sick and gross and hungry and tired at that point.

So between hiking and mudding and hiding caches and scoping caches and play performances and parties... it was a banner weekend for the Screamapillar clan. Yes!

It is now Monday morning, and I am supposed to go over to the school and re-hang the pictures of the cast and a congratulatory banner, so I ought to get to that. On my mind right now is the fact that in a few short years this will hopefully be stuff Bonnie will be looking forward to. I'm thinking she'll be a helpful super mommy. I know I'm not wrong.

Alright, more later. I'm sappy.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Stage performances and Mud stuck

Well, all the leading uptoness of the play and we are 2/3 the way through the experience.

All the rehearsals, the planning, the worrying about the costumes... I can't really believe we'll be more than finished with it all by this time tomorrow.

I should preface this with a little story. Her elementary school goes up to grade 6. Each year, the sixth grade does a voluntary full stage production with a lot of music. Rumor had it that this year they'd be doing "Oliver." But they quickly realized the price for the rights to put the play on would be astronomical, and there is absolutely no budget for the production. Parents volunteer their time, buy things, and they rarely ask to be reimbursed for time and effort.

Last year they did a particularly atrocious play, and each year it seems to get harder and harder to find a good play for the kids to do.

Key important fact is they usually have 50 6th graders try out for the play, and they like to give them ALL something to do, even if they aren't speaking role material. So finding a decent play with about 50 parts is pretty difficult in the first place. Finding a decent play with 50 parts the school could afford to pay for production rights was downright impossible.

So this year, facing the fact that the kids would be let down because they couldn't do "Oliver," a play that most of them knew the music for already and were really looking forward to, the teacher at the helm of the production wrote a play herself. From scratch. With about 50 roles, some of them were dual roles, girls who did one thing in the first half changed costumes and did something else in the second. There is a huge complicated dream sequence, crazy choreography, monsters, animals, spirits... it sounded pretty insane when I heard the description from Jessie after she auditioned.

When she was assigned her part she was very disappointed. She wanted to be the villain, the evil real estate agent who wants to sell the reputedly haunted school and make a killer commission, and also ruin the lives of six kids who put a secret animal shelter in the basement.

The role she received had three lines. During rehearsals, she'd make wisecracks on stage. As they were doing the readthrough and blocking the scenes, she'd throw out a smart alecky comment, and one by one they all were added into the script. The teacher in charge didn't tell her to shut up, but let her run with it, and most of what she threw in was pretty clever... and it fit. So her role grew and ...

She doesn't exactly steal the show, but she got the biggest laughs.

Friday night she kind of rushed through a few of her lines, but tonight everyone had a rhythm down and things went really well. Both nights I got to watch as complete strangers, school teachers, other students and their parents all came up to her to congratulate her on a job well done. Did my heart good. She wasn't the star, she didn't have the biggest lines, but I heard people leaving the building doing an imitation of her, and that means she stuck to them.

Last night when I saw the play I couldn't believe that most of these kids were kids she was in Kindergarten with just a few years ago, and here they are -- totally acting for real, totally doing the most complicated choreography (they do a really interesting dance to "Rock Lobster" and "Thriller"), boys and girls (mostly girls, there were tons of girls) completely having it all down pat. It blew my mind. And tonight was no different. They were better tonight than I expected them. Even when they obviously messed up they recovered beautifully without laughing and giggling and yelling 'oh my god I messed up so bad!!!'

And I can't believe the teacher wrote this thing. She did such an amazing job. Kudos to her.

Anyway -- tomorrow's the last show. The music teacher who co-directs the performance with the author/teacher said that a lot of the kids feel totally let down after the performance is done. For weeks now every day after school and most Saturdays they've worked on this. No matter how big or small their roles, they were required to be there. Jessica read about five books during this period, just waiting for it to be her turn, when she wasn't busy watching the choreography or watching the leads work on their lines.

I have a feeling she'll be relieved and let down.

Pictures coming forthright.

Today we left Her Royal Hiney home so she could diva it up and paint her nails and relax with the playstation2. We went out to hide a geocache, one that we'd been planning for a little while.

Again, preface with little story.

Last week it started raining, and it rained for like three solid days. Movie rain, like in Spider-Man where Spidey kisses MJ while he's hanging upside down. It rained without ceasing. You should see the creek running on my property. It isn't running, it's stampeding. It's out of control. Scary. I won't let Geoff or the dogs near the lip of the edge of our yard lest they fall to their watery and fast graves.

So, with all that rain, you think we'd go hide a geocache on high grounds. Some sort of drumlin, hill or mountain in the area.

Naah, we went to a salt marsh in Newbury. At one point, the trail was so completely underwater that we gave up trying to dance through on branches and rocks and just slogged our way, water totally up to mid shin, shoes and boots filled with muddy water. We just slogged ahead and then realized that where we wanted to put the cache was probably just beyond an area that was so deeply flooded it was over Jackdog's head and he could swim for real, not just bound across it with unbridled doggy water joy.

We turned back, found another spot for it, and then headed home. As we were driving down a street on the way home, we noticed a road going through another part of the marsh. It was so pretty. So lovely. We decided to drive down it.

We got to the end of the road where it turned into the woods, and it became unpaved. We decided after all that rain, it wouldn't be a good idea to proceed. But it was a little dangerous to drive backwards out of the area, so Doug went to execute a three point turn...

And our tires left the tarmac, and we sank deep in the mud in rear wheel drive.

There was NO getting out for us. Doug tried everything. We just kept digging in and digging in...

A tractor came down the road towards us, he called out to Doug asking if we had a chain. We did not. Doug asked if he had one. He did not.

He proceeded into the woods to the other marsh to harvest his hay... we continued to try and free ourselves for about 15 minutes and he finally came back. He got out of his tractor with his 10 year old son... He put his son behind the wheel, and Hay Farmer, Doug and I pushed on the front end of the truck. He popped right out of where he was, all it took was three strong folk a pushin' like mad.

We drove away humiliated and embarrassed. The guy said it happens all the time, and had we kept going we would have gotten stuck out there too, it was really wet on the road. Normally it's passable. But not today.

So we came home, our truck is caked in mud, our shoes and boots need to go through the was desperately. It was a funny assed day, I'm still embarrassed about us getting the truck so deeply trapped in that mud, but... at least God sends his angels to the stupid and foolish, eh?

Right then. Off to bed. I can't believe we have to leap forward. Gah. I lose an hour of sleep. Booo! Boooooooo Daylight savings change! Boo!