Saturday, April 30, 2005

The color of confusion

I'm asleep -- dead asleep, deeply and wonderfully asleep. And I suddenly hear my neighbor loading up his truck to start the day's work. He's a mason, gets out early and works all day. Right now is the start of his busy season, which will run into November. The guy works hard, and I appreciate that deeply, but he wakes me up every damn day with the loading of his truck. I've asked him before NOT to load the truck in the morning, but perhaps to do it the night before. He says he's too tired to do it the night before, but that he'll try and be more quiet in the morning. I've reminded him that it is against town bylaws to be as noisy as he is before 8 am, and that I don't want it to become an issue with us. He shrugs his shoulders and says the only thing he can try to do is be more quiet. Or is it quieter? It doesn't look right. That's one of those words that can go either way in my mind. But. I digress.

This morning -- I'm sleeping, and there is no quiet.

Rocks. Metal on Metal. Banging, crunching, crashing. And me, cursing.

I get up, pull on my fleecey pants and am ready to march out there and shove my size 10 feet sideways up his ass when I see the clock.

It reads 10:00am.

Uh. Murderous rage... subsiding.

See, it's one thing to wake my ass up at 6:50am. It's another one all together to wake my LAZY ass up at 10am.

And I am suddenly confused. How was it that it is 10am, and I was still asleep. And so was Doug. Had someone drugged us? Were we in a coma that could only be ended by the noise of masonry tools loading onto a flat trailer?

The sky was the first clue -- once again, cloudy and incredibly dark. No rain, but just incredibly deeply grey. This has been the case for four of the last five days of my life. Second clue, my daughter slept at a friend's house last night, so she wasn't here to fight with Geoffrey and give him a hard time at 8am the way she is sometimes inclined. Geoff had quietly woken up, made himself breakfast, and was playing video games. He's still on the couch, playing video games. Nice and quiet. He's starting to get frustrated with this one challenge, and I can hear him groaning and protesting when his character plummets to his death. But for the most part, when Jessie isn't here, he's quiet as a mouse and messy as an elephant (breakfast cereal, milk, unflushed toilet. Nice!)

The dogs never wake me up in the morning with their need to pee. They wait until I am out of bed, and stand at the bathroom door whimpering while I take care of my needs first. Some dogs wake their owners up at 6am with begging and pleading noises until they are taken outside to do their business, and then everyone comes back in and goes back to bed. My dogs would rather sleep along with me, and wake up frantic at 10am.

So my confusion is lessened. I don't like being woken up by noise from the neighbors, but heck... if he didn't wake me up I probably would have slept until noon.

You can file this one under the TMI files if you like. But I thought since I was writing about sleep confusing I'd share it here.

There is this dream I have once in a while.

I dream I'm going to the bathroom, and I can feel myself peeing. I wake up astonished and wonder "did I just pee the bed?" But of course I didn't -- it's just one of those ever-loving wonders of the human unconscious.

I schlep myself to the bathroom and go... the entire time telling myself that indeed I am not in bed and it is okay to pee.

Does anything like this happen to you guys? I am serious -- am I the only one?

So most of today has been spent burning up our phone. This morning a friend called with some disturbing and frightening news, which I shan't address. Suffice to say that even if you're a conservative Republican, you're still subject to the same scrutiny as an Al Qaeda representative. Your free speech is no more valued than anyone else's. That's all I have to say at this point in time. The poor thing.

And then my mom called. Two hours of discussion later, it seems that she and my dad will be moving (most likely) up this way. Not quite this far north, but more near the Cape/Rhode Island area. My husband is shocked. My son is mad because now he won't have a place to stay in New York. I told him it will be nice to see Grandma two hours away instead of five with NYC as a big fat traffic obstacle in the way. He's not buying it.

Now my husband is on the phone with his folks, catching up with news and life out there, seeing as we didn't do vacation with them and they went to Texas and we went to OBX. Listening to him talk makes me want to go back today. Sigh.

So if you're trying to call me, and have been since 11am, you now know why you can't get through.

Anyway -- not much else to report. I'm going to fold some laundry and clean the bathroom. It's nasty. More later.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Complement and Compliment

Well, I'll be the first to admit that I'm surprised. I found out yesterday that compliment and complement are different words. Hhrm. Imagine that. I had no clue.

I was checking some spelling on something at work, and the word listed was "complement." I thought to myself, "Self, that don't look right. I think it is spelled with an 'i' there instead of an 'e'." So I went and looked that word up. Lo and behold, yup -- not only was it a word, but dictionary dot com listed the following little sentence to help clear things up for your humble narrator.
Usage Note: Complement and compliment, though quite distinct in meaning, are sometimes confused because they are pronounced the same. As a noun, complement means “something that completes or brings to perfection” (The antique silver was a complement to the beautifully set table); used as a verb it means “to serve as a complement to.” The noun compliment means “an expression or act of courtesy or praise” (They gave us a compliment on our beautifully set table), while the verb means “to pay a compliment to.”

If that ain't just something. Dang. I had no clue. I feel like a dingus. But. Just goes to show, that one can learn something new daily. And hopefully by my sharing my stupidity, you've learned something too.

Doug found a few Napoleon Dynamite Soundboards online, and I could spend all day clicking on great sayings.

At work today, I shared the "Love Bomb" philosophy from "Invasion Iowa." I am now thoroughly convinced that MB thinks I'm mentally unstable. But. C threw me some good Love Bombs, and I tried to get everyone to gather around at about 3:30 and Love Bomb one another, but it just didn't happen. For some reason, Friday afternoons in our office are when excrement comes in contact with fan blades spinning at high rate of speed, and it gets just plain crazy.

So we didn't get to Love Bomb. I'm thinking Monday mornings would be a good time to Love Bomb one another. Yes. Start the week off with a Love Bomb.

Gotta do it.

Sunday Night's Simpsons Episode will be the 350th, and it is nice to know they haven't aged a day in their 17 year run. I'm currently reading "Planet Simpson" by Chris Turner. It's an engaging read, but I'm not learning anything I didn't already know (see above, where I learn something...)

The thing that I'd love to see is out of those 349 episodes already shown is the Episode "The City of NY vs. Homer Simpson" (4F22). I do believe that because it takes place at the World Trade Center, they will never broadcast it again.

And that sucks.

It is one of the funniest episodes ever, with Homer buying Khlav kalash from a street vendor, drinking a bazillion cans of Crab Juice (instead of Mountain Dew, to which he says "Yeuch!" when offered it as a choice), Homer yelling "Look at me, I'm Peter Pantsless!" while totally drunk, the boot on the car, the WTC Bathroom scene... so many funny moments in this episode. For the tragedy that WTC and 9/11 were and are, this episode would bring a smile to a face or five, to see the buildings immortalized with Homer peeing at the top floor. I'd like that.

Makes me super sad.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


I am feeling the grey. Yesterday and today, the sky was dark upon the hour of my waking and I had difficulty lifting my head. I felt like Natalie Merchant in the 10,000 Maniacs song "About the Weather." And the feeling follows me throughout the workday. The sense in the back of my mind that if I just put my head down for a second, I'm sure I could be fast asleep and dreaming in no time.

"By the force of will, my lungs are filled
so I breathe..."

Because I didn't wake up at the right time, and Doug was about 10 minutes behind schedule, I now find myself at that precarious point in deciding whether or not I rush to ready myself, or, I just shower AFTER taking Geoff to the bus.

The more I think about it, sitting here with my coffee, the more it looks like an after event.

We have two showers, 'tis true. I could shower, but while Doug is showering, the water pressure in shower 2 is really low, and the hot water goes fast. It's less pleasant to rush through getting clean, just to avoid freezing to death.

So, I'll wait and write to you. I'll only be leaving for work about 20 minutes later than usual, which shoots the hell out of my staying late yesterday, but... as I am wont to say "It is what it is."

Yesterday at work I told MB about the journal here, and she wanted to read it. So I gave her the address. Hi MB. If you're reading today. Things at the office should be awfully quiet today. MB and C are out, and G is taking the morning off and may or may not be in later in the day, she's not sure. So it's me and M in our little corner of the world.

Hopefully he won't notice if I nod off, just for that one second... ZzzzZZZzzzzzz.

I don't know why I'm feeling logy and slothy. Returning from vacation kind of wore me out. While we were on vacation I think I slept past 7am once... thanks to the bird and my burning desire to collect shells and walk on the beach early. Now, I bet I could sleep until 11 without even realizing how late it is.

Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, as some guy once sang. Only, I think I'm doing it the reverse.

So yesterday, a few people left their five words for me. I've got them written down, and on my drive in, I'll think about what to craft around them. This is a fun little game. I like it.

Well, time to force the boy into shoes and take him out... then, time to get ready. Talk at you later.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I'm a goofy goober (rock)

We finally saw Napoleon Dynamite the other night. Everyone I know who has seen it said "Dude, you've got to see this movie. It is so you."

Well, it was. It truly was a film right up my alley, and I got it, and I felt it, and I loved it. I loved the simple weirdness of it, the strange little characters... Kip and his girlfriend particularly. I loved Pedro shaving his head because he was hot, and how he looked like he was perpetually feverish and sick. The glamor shot session with Uncle Rico. That conversion van he drove...

I loved the brown suit. It was sweet. I loved Napoleon Dynamite, and I'll watch it again and again.

The thing I loved most about it was there was no profanity, no sex, no swearing, and it was a funny movie. I could watch this with my kids... and they loved it. They loved Napoleon's assessment of chicks diging guys with skills, "like nunchuck skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills...," the liger discussion, they loved the Vote for Pedro dance scene. Jessica already has it memorized and told her friend running for next year's class president to say "Vote for me and all your wildest dreams will come true."

What I found most peculiar about this movie was my reaction and my anticipation of what happens next. In one scene, Kip's girlfriend arrives on a bus, and I'm totally thinking -- this is not going to end well. She's a dude. She's a he/she. She's a shemale.

But, she wasn't. She truly was a girl, she truly loved Kip... and as nice and sweet as that was, it wasn't at all what my modern sense of humor and comedy expected.

Thus, the movie was refreshing, because it lacked what has become overdone and common. It was a simple, nice story... weird, but nice.

And. That makes it a shining little gem in the world.

We also rented the Spongebob Squarepants movie, which was a lot cruder humor wise than Napoleon Dynamite. Funny how I expected things to be the other way around. Patrick Star in fishnet stockings and high heels a la 70s rock and roll gender bending at the end was a bit over the top for me personally... but overall it was an okay movie with a "believe in yourself, even if you're a kid and no one thinks you can do it" message. Add the live action cameo by David Hasselhoff and yeah, that's some funny stuff.

Both movies will play repeatedly in our house this week, until we have to return them to blockbuster.

I wrote a poem.

Stepping through honey sands, the waves
kissed by sunlight, playing, dazzling, dancing, retreating.
Replacing warmth with brief shiver, returning again
wrapped in foam and shell.

The title comes from the town we stayed in on vacation, Salvo, North Carolina. the play on words of Salve, Salvo, Ocean, Salvation, all these things played in my mind all week. I wanted to hide a geocache there, so other people would go and find it, and feel the same way.

Getting to work yesterday was interesting. I was immediately pulled into an office to have a talk with G about a global restructuring event that took place within the company while I was out of town. She's still my boss, but her job has changed drastically. My position straddles two groups, the creative group and the technical group.

Stop me if you've heard that sort of job description from me before...

So things are different in the office this week, and things are a little weird. There are a lot of hurt feelings, and a lot of mistrust and sadness, in areas outside of my cubicle. I really don't care. My immediate life doesn't change all that much.

One of the things that was supposed to happen this week is me coming on board as a regular employee instead of a contractor. I'm more inclined to stay as a contractor. I can't really discuss my thoughts around this here, because it isn't necessarily blog fodder. Suffice to say, I'd make more money as a contractor, and I could write some stuff off that I'd buy here and there, and just take time off without pay as I need it. I can't get on the company insurance because I can't really work 40 hours a week, so... contracting seems like it is the best bet for me.

Well, it's near time to shuffle the kiddies off to bed, and I have some other work to get to, so I'm off. That, and there are journals I'm gravely behind on, and must read. Have a super night, yins.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The OBX vacation wrap up

Friday, April 15th
Aaron arrived at about 3:30pm and we chilled by the fire. I should have been packing, but the wine and the camp fire just slowed me down. After an amazingly busy week at work, kicking back was what my body wanted to do, even though my mind was racing with the things I needed to get done.

Saturday, April 16th
The alarm went off early, and I got out of bed and continued the work I should have finished the night before. Aaron helped out a lot, and before we knew it, 8am was upon us and we were leaving 2 hours later than we'd planned.


We stopped at A's parents' house in Connecticut to get fishing gear, and then had to swing by his uncle's house because some of the stuff he thought would be there wasn't. We spent a little over 90 minutes with Aaron's family, and then hopped back into the truck hoping to make good time as it was already noon, and we faced many hours ahead on the road.

We were fully raging down I-95 when traffic just stopped around exit 19... there was an accident at exit 15. It was a big assed parking lot, so we bailed and found alternate routage (thank you GPS) and lost an hour worth of time through the nutmeg state. We cruised right through NYC with minimal delay, and then hit New Jersey.

It was a parking lot too. Traffic reports said every southern route was slow, so it didn't matter if we changed highways, we were going to crawl like a great big fat red lizard down the interstate.

Once we made it to Delaware, traffic cleared up. We took Rte 13 and Rte 1 (consult a map if you're curious) from Wilmington over to the shore area. The sun was setting, colors were gorgeous, I got to drive for a while and that was good. The windows were down and we were in the southland.

What's great about getting off the highway is that you can see stuff. What sucks is that it takes ten bazillion hours to go anywhere. We cruised along with minimal traffic but it seemed like Delaware would never end. And once we got to Maryland and the dangly bits of Virginia (eastern shore area) time was not our friend.

The sun set just before we hit the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel, and that bummed all of us out -- we all wanted to see the sunset there, and we missed it by about a half hour. I wanted to see the bridge, too, because it is one of those Discovery Channel super structure kinds of things that you see on TV all the time. I wanted to check it out in the light. No such luck.

There was a "virtual" geocache on the bridge, which means you read a sign, take a picture and email the owner. Kind of pimpy but it goes toward your bodycount, and it was the only cache we got in Virginia.

The wind was whipping like mad, and the waves were HUGE in the bay. I was freaking out. I could only imagine what the barrier islands would be like when we got there. In my heart of hearts, I was afraid that it would be a bad scene.

We got to Kitty Hawk at about 10:50pm, and stopped at a gas station to grab some beer (we didn't bring any, and we lucked out that places were still open and we could get some...). We then proceeded down Route 12 (consult a map) towards the town of Waves where our rental agency office was located.

On the way, we were crossing Pea Island and there was a sign letting us know there was water in the road. Okay, so there was a puddle or two. Ha! There was more than water in the road. There were sand dunes like snow drifts, and huge ginormous puddles.

At one point, Doug hit one of the puddles so hard I was convinced we had plunged into Palmico Sound. But we were alright. Nevertheless, it was a tad harrowing after riding for so long and it being so late. So close, but 15 miles from where we'd be settling into bed, and I didn't want to die a horrible death.

We got our key and went to "Our Spring House" as Geoff began calling it. It was in the little town of Salvo, and it was a beautiful place. I couldn't believe it when we walked in.

Four big bedrooms on the first floor, which was actually up a level so that the ocean could run under the house if necessary. Nice! The second level housed a huge living room with cathedral ceiling and fireplace, dining area, nice kitchen and a bathroom.

We unloaded the truck, the kids claimed their bedrooms, and we discovered the hot tub was warmed up and running.

The lonely beer filled the refrigerator, and we gladly brought some to the tub and jumped in, making the first batch of what we called "Human Soup" all weekend long.

We slept like the dead.

Sunday, April 17th
Doug and I were both awake at 6:15. Partly because we heard Geoff in the bathroom, partly because the sun pierced every inch of available creep-in space it could, and partly because there was this bush filled with crazy noisy birds right under the window.

We weren't mad -- we wanted to check the place out.

Geoff discovered the fussball table while we investigated things around the house and got breakfast going. Doug took the dogs out, and I investigated the neighborhood. There was a cool VW bus across the street, so I took some pictures for Dustin over at Westiewanderer... and there was a weird round house nextdoor to us. The neighborhood was quiet. The VW owners were residents, and the people to our back were too... with a garden and boat and pets. The rest of the houses were rentals, and none were occupied.

We had the place pretty much to ourselves.

We all took a walk to the beach, and the waves were huge. The weather channel reported that a storm had gone through on Friday night and part of the day on Saturday, which explained the sand drifts and the water on the road as we came south. They had huge snow plow trucks, and it looked like winter in Maine in places where they were plowing the sand out of the way.

There were public access trails to the beach near our house which were fully flooded, and north of where we were staying on our little road, the water still hadn't receded, and homes were under about a foot of water. Except homes were up on 20 foot high stilts, and only the first steps or storage sheds at ground level were in danger of being wet.

If this was just a regular storm that came through, Jebus -- I wouldn't want to see a hurricane and what the results would be!

We drove up to Kitty Hawk/Nags Head and did some exploring, especially in the form of Geocaching. We hit three in the Kitty Hawk area, and they were all painfully easy. There aren't a lot of long hiking trails that we could see at that point, so caches tend to be about 100 feet from where you park. The dogs had a good swim in Palmico sound, and we ran around looking at stuff all over the place north of where we were staying. We enjoyed the day to its fullest and had a huge early dinner.

Then, we discovered Brew Thru. A drive-thru beer distributor. It was like finding the lost temple of something ancient and wonderful. And they had funny t-shirts and stuff. We didn't buy those. We just bought beer. Their website has a funny flash animation opening, but there isn't much to it past that. But. They sell beer. And you drive in, and they put it in your car. And that's awesome.


We drank more beer and made more human soup that night. It was very good.

Monday, April 18th
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in North America. And we climbed to the top.

It was cool, and while I didn't do it all in one straight trek up... I made it to the top with little struggle. Took a breather on a few landings, mostly because the view through the small windows grew more and more spectacular as we rose up.

We spent a huge amount of time at the lighthouse, and Geoff worked on and completed his National Parks Service Junior Ranger badge. That was tons of fun. The ranger swore him in much to the surprise of a group of kids who didn't want to do the Junior Ranger work, and he got a badge and beamed with pride. Nicely done Geoff.

We drove towards the Ocracoke ferry, and opted to pass on going across on the 40 minute ride... knowing we'd have a 40 minute return. We opted for food and beer back at the house.

And Human Soup.

We also flew kites that afternoon. After the high seas and huge winds on the shore right outside our door, the weather settled down quite a bit and the wind was just right. We took Aaron and Doug's kites down to the beach. Jessica came down to the beach reluctantly (there's no TV down there, you know) and got to fly Aaron's kite. She was instantly hooked, and wanted to try Doug's which was a little more advanced. She ended up crashing it miserably and getting the line all coiled up, but she really wanted a kite and I promised her that I'd get her one, since she was so interested in something (hell, anything she's interested in I'm going to encourage. It beats the hell out of "meh" in regards to everything in life...).

Tuesday, April 19th
One of the things that one is supposed to "not miss for love nor money" in the Outer Banks is Jockey's Ridge. It is a higormous, gimungous sand dune state park, and people hang glide off of the dune.

We went, we hiked it. It was hot. It was spectacular. My legs still hurt.

Seriously -- Jockey's Ridge was amazing. We didn't just go and look at it either. We did the nature walk. So we learned stuff. I'm glad we brought the sunscreen. And I'm glad the sand wasn't heated up to Kiln Hot so our exposed feet were blistered beyond belief.

Going there in like August would be suicide. But April was just right. And it was tremendous.

Afterwards, we went up to the Wright Brothers' Monument and National Park Site, where we walked more, and I stepped in a hole and twisted my ankle. That'll learn me to walk across grass instead of using the pathway.

It was a fun place, but my foot hurt like a bitch when we were done. There is a virtual cache there, so we took the picture for the credit and we went out to eat at a place Doug saw advertised in a brochure. He wanted Oysters. They had Oysters. He wasn't disappointed. The food was good, but what was better is the place had the AC cranked beyond belief, and that felt really refreshing after running around on the Dunes of Death.

And we went to Brew Thru, because. You know. Beer goes well with Human Soup.

Wednesday, April 20th
More Geocaching. This time, we started with a cache in Nags Head and didn't know exactly where to go to find the entry point. We eventually found it after trial and error, and it was deep in a Nature Conservancy Park which bordered private land. There was a lot there that we could have explored, but some of it was kind of sketchy, and we didn't want to trespass and get in trouble.

Boundaries are to be respected when you are deep in strange woods.

There was a spooky little shack right at the parking area where we accessed the cache. And this was the only cache we did that had us walk more than 10 steps to find it.

We went over to Manteo and hit more caches there. I was seriously not impressed with the quality of caches in this area. Too easy. Walk up and open. But... it is all about the rising total sometimes. And there's something to be said with spending time doing other stuff instead of 10 hours in a swamp getting eaten by bugs when you're on vacation.

After visiting Fort Raleigh and being terribly disappointed in it (it was boring, and the only thing we wanted to see there was the garden and you had to pay to get in...) we stopped at the Weeping Radish restaurant on the way out of town. We wanted to get dinner, but they were closed for the day so all we could get was a quick Weiss beer and a rest in the sunshine. And a really funny picture of Doug and Aaron.

We went home and had food and beer there. Stupid restaurant closing for the day at 4pm. Pfth.

There was more kite flying, more beer, more fun and more Human Soup that night.

Thursday, April 21st
Got up early, again. And the boys wanted to go fishing. We drove down to Frisco Pier and dropped them off with their bait and poles and wished them luck. Before we drove away, Geoff said "this is going to be the most amazing day of my life."

I couldn't help but laugh.

Aaron had tried his hand a few times off solo during the week and found there was no one biting anything due to that storm earlier in the week. Folks had said the farther south the better, so without going over to Ocracoke we figured Frisco would be the best as it's on the flat, southern end of Hatteras Island.

Jessie and I went out and bought a kite. She picked out a really nice stunt kite and I told her that she'd better freaking fly the damn thing more than once.

We did some sight seeing on our own without the boys, and eventually returned to the pier to find that all they could catch were sand sharks, aka "dog fish" and a couple of skates. Geoff lost interest because he couldn't cast (Aaron and Doug thought that would be ill advised off the high pier with tons of people around) so he was more interested in running around and checking out what other people caught, and naming the dog fish.

Hey, whatever makes ya happy kid.

We spectated for a while, and then when the boys were sufficiently tired of catching nothing too thrilling we went home to fly kites.

The wind was very light, and would not cooperate with us. So we opted to pack the kite up and wait until later or Friday.

Friday, April 22nd
We opted to hang around the house instead of heading out anywhere. The only things that we figured would be left to do would be to go to Ocracoke, or drive up to Duck and Corolla. There were a few geocaches up there that we could have done. But...

There were kites that begged to fly. And we wanted to honor that wish.

We headed out with the new Jessie kite and Doug's kite, and she flew her kite twice and it crashed to the earth, snapping the center support post clear off the T brace in the center. Irreparable. Dead.

Doug, on the other hand, was having a field day. He was flying his kite like a mad man. Doing tricks and letting the incredibly powerful OBX wind pull and tear at the hapless nylon body of the poor thing.

After a couple of hours, I let him know that we really needed to take Jessie's kite back to the shop and see if the guy would exchange it for her. Doug reluctantly packed it in, and we went to Avon to the kite shop to exchange the poor, busted beast.

The guy who worked there said that he couldn't repair it, and exchanged it for her. He let us know when we got home where to try and obtain third party replacement parts, and gave her some more pointers on how to use the line bridle so the strings don't get hopelessly crossed and messed up (like they did -- twice).

We headed next door to the Dolphin Den restaurant, because they had a funny TV commercial and Doug wanted more oysters. The food wasn't as good as we hoped, but. It was better than me cooking.

Saturday, April 23rd
Crap. Time to leave. In some ways, I was ready. In others, leaving the beautiful house knowing I'd be going back to utter chaos and a huge mess was really bumming me out.

We cleaned, packed, and hit the road at about 8am. The going was cake up through to southern New Jersey where we once again ran into the Parking Lot of the North East. It was like that all the way into Connecticut, again. And then it started raining.

We stopped at Aaron's folks' again to drop off the fishing gear, and then stopped by his uncle's to get a meat smoker that he was getting rid of and told Doug he could have.

We made it home at Midnight. Tired. Cranky. Very.

This morning, Aaron left early to head home and we got settled in to life back at the dump. I mean, our house. I miss "Our Spring House" greatly. I miss listening to the surf. I miss how everything smelled at the end of the day, with sunscreen and warmth.

All week before we left to go there, Aaron and I were checking the weather forecast and we were upset to read cloudy and lower 60s each day... it was nothing like that. It was in the 70s, sunny, bright, hot, windy -- perfect. And I miss it.

Overall, it was a fantastic week. I'd do it again, just maybe not so far south. Like perhaps Rehoboth Beach Delaware or something like that.

For now though, spring and warmth and sunscreen will come to these shores soon enough. Until then, I've got a great big canvas bag filled with seashells. I'll play with those.

OBX Vacation Photos

Are all here.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Making a list and checking it elevendy million times.

7:15 a.m.
Almost all of the laundry is finished, even the laundry we're not taking with us. I don't like the idea of a pile of stinky clothes sitting on my bathroom floor for seven days. All must be washed. I have a tendency to clean the house MORE when we are about to LEAVE it, rather than when we're hanging about inside of it.

One would think I'd want to hang out in a house which is nice, organized and clean, but I've discovered that I really would rather play video games with the boy or joke around with my daughter than spend time mopping. Call me a Slacker Mom if you will. But. My kids are fairly happy folk, well adjusted, seem to be sane. And that's all I can ask for in life when it really comes down to it.

The great thing about tidying up before leaving is that we come home to empty trash and no moldy dishes trying to climb up out of the sink. And that is a beautiful thing.

I talked to Aaron for about an hour about fishing and kite flying, went in the basement and found our stunt kite, which has horribly tangled strings but both handles were attached -- and that is a good thing. Aaron said he can rewire it and make it fly. He's leaving his place at about 10am, and hopefully will be here by the time the kids get home from school so they can hang with him for a bit. I think I plan on bailing from work early. I'm more than 3 weeks ahead in the scheduling, and I have so much to do, that I bet G won't mind me bailing at lunchtime.

I'm glad MB is back from maternity though... hopefully everything will be perfect while I'm gone.

It's funny -- I don't really work there yet. I'm a contractor girl. I can walk away at any time. But I feel personally invested in what I've done and I get really anxious if I think there might be something wrong with stuff. I will re-preview all of next week's content and just make sure everything is beautiful, and will encourage MB to re-preview the following week because I don't want to come in that Monday morning after vacation to see a mistake.

I take this all very seriously.

Bonnie e-mailed me and let me know that her dad, Walt, is doing much better. His L-VAD device is keeping the old ticker regulated, but he is number two on the adult transplant waiting list right now. Thank you for your continued mojo for him... and please continue to keep him in mind.

Bon said that there are two babies ahead of him on the transplant list. Baby hearts and grown up hearts are two totally different sizes, so it isn't like they are in competition for the organs. In her email, Bon said that it really blew her away that there are babies waiting for hearts... as the mother to a fairly new-model little boy (Happy late birthday Liam. Ooops! I typed "Lima" by accident. Heh.) the realization that someone so small can have such a need is overwhelming.

A few years ago, long time readers will remember that a friend of ours lost a baby. He was about 7 days old, and suddenly just ... stopped working. He stopped breathing and his heart stopped. They rushed him to the hospital, where he held on for a few days and then died in his daddy's arms. A few years before that, a college friend of mine and her husband lost their son to a congenital heart defect. They had a few loving days with him, and lost him while... waiting for a heart.

Walt has lived a long and productive life, with four kids, a bucket of lovely grandchildren... it's been a good life. Contemplating the fact that as an adult, he needs for another adult to die in order for him to live... really blows my mind.

But realizing it from the baby perspective -- that another baby has to die in order for this other infant to survive... that's enough to shatter the most granite heart.

So -- continue to mojo Walt. And think of the babies. Whoever those two babies are, waiting on the list with Walt... Lift them up.

Doug finished our taxes last night while I folded laundry and made lists of what we need to bring and take and move about and do.

I have an issue with folks who get all crazy happy that they're getting a refund. If you're one of them -- hear me out brother or sister. You need edumacated.

See, that's your money. YOUR money. And the government has had it for months, earning interest on it. It isn't sitting in your bank account earning interest. It's in theirs. Your little refund, along with the eighty gazillion other little refunds, just netted the government a shit ton of extra money, thank you very much.

You should underpay your taxes. Figure things out, fill out your W-whatever forms right, and underpay by about 1000 bucks. Save the 1000 in your account where it earns you a couple o'bucks interest over the course of time.

And then write them their check and mail it on April 15th.

The way we work it is Doug takes all the different things that he's entitled to like Head of Household and the two kids and whatnot. I take Zero Higher Single Witholding. And in the end, we ususally owe about 800 bucks. It works out just fine.

We don't owe nearly as much as I'd anticipated we would, what with me contracting an average of 30 hours a week for the past six months... but we will next year, when this quarter is factored in. It was under $2000, because Doug made some adjustments to his witholding while I am contracting. And we were prepared for the worst, so writing the check we just wrote wasn't as scary as I thought it would be when I began contemplating these things back in November.

Working as a contractor semi-sucks. I mean, I get paid a nice chunk of money. I can write off my travel. I really should get a cell phone and write that off. I should buy a new laptop, and write THAT off. Maybe our tax burden next April won't be what I'm expecting it to be. I'll be happy to be brought on as a real employee, and that looks like it'll be in May. And we can adjust our witholdings and take care of everything so next year we hit the same easy check.

Geoff got up this morning and was devastated that I'm making him go to school today. He so doesn't want to go. He's on vacation. He's got Spring Break-itis (for an -itis, it's not a bad thing to have. My sister gets lots of -itises, and this one is one I'm sure she wouldn't mind). It is taking a lot of coaxing to get him to even eat his breakfast or get dressed. I can't say as I blame him. He's had a rough couple of months, and school is just another obstacle to fun at this point. I can't believe we still have 2.5 months to go. Gah.

I need to go encourage him, and get myself some more coffee, and find my shoes. It's going to be a long day, kids. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Warmer, Beerier, Hot Tubbier.

So last night Aaron and I were talking about our vacation. He called quite giddy and excited with all these evil genius plans about the crazy things we're all going to do, and wondering how he can transport his stunt kite to us while riding his motorcycle. It may not be easy.

We started thinking about the weather. What is the weather like in the zipcode where we are headed. I hit weather dot com to check the 10 day forecast, and it isn't looking pretty.

I'm hoping the weather prognosticators are wrong. It is scheduled to be partly cloudy and never out of the mid 60s. We were thinking the weather would be like it was this weekend here -- 70s and hot and sunny. Hrmm, this could dampen our fun. Especially if the partly cloudy turns to mostly cloudy with rain and thunder... like they're having right now.

Although, I would so dig a huge thunderstorm.

The great thing about the house we're staying in is that it has a fussball table and an air hockey table. Between that, the playstation that we'll bring with us, and the hot tub... I'm sure we can pass a rainy day or three.

And, if it isn't too rainy but is just cloudy, my body still has not acclimated to the warm weather. It was in the lower 40s here yesterday, so mid 60s is nothing to whinge about. My body, filled with winter fat and thickened slow blood, may just believe it's Africa Hot at 64 degrees. So it won't be too bad.

No matter what, it'll be warmer than it is here. And beer-ier too. And Hot Tubbier too.

In the end, that's all that matters.

Jessica had a half day at school today for some unknown reason. Professional Development day... which is stupid 2 days before vacation. Why not last week or the week before? She referred to it as Administrative Hoo Haa day. Sums up the whole academic experience from a 12 year old's perspective. She got home around noon, and I left work at about 2:45 to come up and hang with her and Geoff. I let my babysitter off the hook today and Friday. Pretty soon her semester will be over, and we'll lose her to her homeland of Canada. Sigh, she's nice. I wish she was here more, but it's a haul for her to come up here.

The kids seem to like her, and she said they're the easiest kids on earth to babysit. They do their homework and hang out, play video games, and watch cartoons. That's all I expect from them.

I remember being a baby sitter and the mom telling me that the kids were NOT allowed to EVER watch TV, and I had to... play with them all the freaking time.

I never got any homework done. Stupid Demandey Rotten Brat Kids. So my kids are a babysitter's dream. TV, video games, hang out, behave. That's about it.

I don't like the idea of having to look for another sitter for the summer, or having to pick where they're going to camp and for how long. Jessica wants to go to sleep over camp for two weeks. It's the next town over, but dude. Two weeks!? I'll miss her like mad! And Geoff wants to go to Cub Scout camp, so I have to see when his buddy from his den is going. I'd like to have them go together. If I can swing it, Jess can go to camp those two weeks too, and it'll be an easy two weeks down.

Hopefully, before we know it everything will be scheduled and all set. The effort kills me though. Meh. Anyway -- I promised Jessie a little trip to Kohl's to pick something up for vacation. I need to fold laundry, get organized. Sigh. I have 48 hours to get ready.

Can I do it?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Me bum hurts!

Yeah -- it does. I am sore. Especially across my lower back and me bum. Sunday afternoon we hooked up with Michael down in Littleton to do some caches.

We did three caches in the Oak Hill reservation, and then went over to another one near the Cisco Systems campus on the Littleton/Boxborough line. The trail started out in a less than auspicious way, fenced in on both sides like a cattle run at a ranch. But eventually it opened up and brought us up a huge esker ridge. And 3 miles later, my thighs, butt, and back are sore.

Three miles ain't nuthin, when it comes down to what we do to ourselves on a regular basis, but for some reason this ridge trail whipped us like red headed step children. On the way out, I was feeling whiney. And was proud of both of my kids for not being whiney. Mine was comedic whiney-ness "What is THAT!? It's a HILL!???? Who put THAT THERE!"

Pizza, water and beer later were the icing on the cake, and made me bum hurt less... but. Heh, "butt" I'm going to be feeling this all day today. What a work out.

It was so fun going out with Michael, because neither of my kids (especially the big one) put on the "I hate geocaching!" attitude and bitch and moan if an outsider is with us. When we take their friends, or when we cache with one of our friends, especially Aaron, they seem to enjoy themselves better.

So I think we need to take a fifth wheel with us from here on in.

When I arrived home last night, Doug had a campfire roaring. Oh the bliss and joy. He was reading by the fire and Geoff was sitting with him, playing his gameboy. I saw the two juxtaposed, the old column and the new -- yet both of them enjoying the basic happiness of something burning.

I love the campfire. I mixed up a vodka tonic, and kicked off my shoes and joined them. It was cold out this evening -- about 40 degrees. So the fire was refreshing and perfect. We chatted long into the night, grilled burgers and just enjoyed each others' company.

It's campfire season, y'all. Oh, that you could all join us in the plastic adirondack chairs this year... perhaps a few of you in local readership can. I should have an (a)musing party. Have all my (a)musing readers over to chill by the fire and discuss life, the universe and everything.

It could become a conference, bigger than SXSW! Ooooh.


Well, this is count-down week... I have so much to do that it is boggling my mind. Cleaning, laundry, organizing, planning. It is a bit much. I'm glad I'm way ahead of schedule at work, or I might have an aneurysm.

Aaron called on Monday night to say his Uncle has sport fishing equipment for us to borrow if we swing a bit east of our south through Connecticut. I'm looking forward to the possibility of catching a little something. Geoff has wanted to go fishing. I'm hoping this will convince him it is BORING and purge him of the desire to do so in future.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Somewhere Beyond the Sea

We just watched "Finding Nemo" for the one millionth time, and I still love it. It's fabulous. I can watch it a million times. My daughter's friend is a huge Ewan MacGregor fan, and the movie "A Life Less Ordinary" includes the same Bobby Darin song that closes out the credits for "Nemo."

So we just watched the credits eleven times, and the girls both know all the words to the entire song, and the musical stops, and ... everything.

It's pretty funny. But now it's stuck in my head.

Last night was a ton of fun. We met Carrie a little later than I initially intended because traffic heading north to get the girls was horrid. I really hate I-95 from Peabody to Georgetown. It is all torn up, a total disaster. And the speed limit is posted at 45, which is retarded. It's like driving on a dirt road, but is even and smooth enough that you don't have to go slowly.

The cops patrol it hardcore -- pulling people over left and right. So when I look down and I find myself doing 90... I do the mental math on what it's going to cost me when they bust my ass. And I slow down. And it takes forever to get anywhere.

We had dinner at Joe's, and then went over to get our toes done. It was lovely and relaxing. The girl who did my toes wasn't nearly as nice and friendly as the last girl who did it. And she went very fast... no long soaks in the blue foamy water. She was all business and all done in no time.

I felt... like I had been shorted.

While we were there, a girl came in to get a manicure and pedicure.

She was obviously a regular, and kept a jovial and teasing tone going on with the young men and women working there. She was loud, had huge fake boobies, a spray on tan and this annoying Fran Drescher like laugh. You know the type. You've seen her.

She was young, but looked totally used, spent... worked over by life. She was funny, she seemed nice, she liked that she drew attention from the other people (like us) in the salon. She made eye contact with each of us as she ribbed the guys about auditioning for American Idol, and laughed and beamed like she'd just killed on the stand up comedy circuit with her well crafted comedic lines.

She had this shopworn quality to her that made me kind of sad.

There were a ton of people in the mall that all looked exactly the same. Girls wearing the exact same kinds of pants and shirts. Lots of Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle Outfitter clothing and "I'm growing my hair and deliberately styling it so I look like I just got out of bed" appearances on the boys.

I hate malls. I like shopping... but I always feel sad when I look at all these people who buy their identities. All in the same store. All at the same price when it's on sale.

My daughter and her friend aren't anything like the other kids we saw in the mall last night, and I want it to stay that way. I know for a fact Jessica couldn't buy her clothes at A&F or AE, they don't make her size. Same with her friend. They liked walking around and looking at "shiny things." This is some sort of running inside joke with the two of them. Jessica likes acting the retard and staring at shiny things with this look of utter fascination and bemusement on her face, while her friend pretends to drag her away. They cracked me up.

We came home and watched Moulin Rouge (again, see the Ewan MacGregor addiction mentioned above). I went to bed at about 1am, the girls stayed up -- I have no idea when they finally went to sleep.

At 10:30 the phone rang. Woke us all up. No one left a message. It was God's alarm clock, letting us know not to burn the day. I hooked the dogs up with some outdoor peeing action, put on some laundry and Geoff and Doug showed up. I was surprised to see them home so early, but Doug was tired and wanted to just get home. I guess it was an arduous drive down there, and he slept okay but not wonderfully. So he's crashed out and napping.

I think I'm going to take Geoff up to Sam's Club and see if we can get some plants for the garden... get that started and in the ground before we go away on vacation. I need to seed some sunflowers and get them growing before we go. Arrange for someone to water things while we're out of town.

The fact that we are going to be in the truck for our drive in 1 week really boggles the mind right now. It looks more and more like Aaron will be joining us by himself... so I'm psyched to have his company and have him along. I wish they'd both join us but it looks as if this is just going to work out for him solo.

Tomorrow I think we're going geocaching with Michael. Doug looked up some good spots for us to meet at in the Lowell area, so it'll be fun. Looking forward to it already. And then, in a week we will geocache in North Carolina.

Boggles my mind, honestly.

Alright -- the girls are nagging me, saying they want to go to the friend's house. And it's on the way to Sam's so I'll take them there. Get my plantings on. Til the Earth. Stuff like that.

Friday, April 08, 2005

GNO & Battleship Cove

My boys are going to Battleship Cove on Friday Night. With the Cub Scouts. 40 Boys, and about 37 dads and moms. I'm not going. This kind of thing befalls the daddy. I feel for him -- but it is the price to pay for having a boy and saying "We should get Geoff into Cub Scouts!"


So, while they're away doing boy things on a Battleship, I'm going to take Jessica and a friend to get pedicures and go out to dinner. We'll be joined by my good friend C, and it will be lovely, thank you very much.

I'd never had a pedicure before early February. I don't know what I was thinking not going and doing this. I thought it was stupid and fruity and a waste of damn money.

Now, I want one weekly. No. Daily. I want a daily pedicure. With foot rub and soak and calf massage. I want to be treated like the queen that I am. Worship me. Lavish me with attention and relaxation. Hit that pressure point on the base of my foot, no, the one there at the arch -- yes. That's it.

I live for this.

I hope Doug enjoys his Boys' Night on the Boat. I know I'll enjoy being out with the girlies.

I'm allowing Jessie's friend to sleep over. Jessica is going over her house after school and then I have to drive up here and get them. Too much driving for my liking but it is what it is, and it has to be done. The price I pay for working in Marblehead.

Speaking of Marblehead, I went to go get lunch today. Normally, we don't go out for lunch, but D was going to McDonalds and I didn't want anything from there.

There were electricians, and noises, and distractions a-plenty in my office today, so I ran screaming for the door. I ended up stopping by Amy's apartment, hoping to get some kitty love from Shirley Blue and Mr. Buford, but neither of them lavished me with the attention I crave. And to see Amy because, like, she was there and is cool and whatnot.

Amy walked with me over to grab a salad at the local Roast Beef joint. When I walked in, I instantly recognized the lady behind the counter. She's a little older than your average counter girl, and very well dressed. She used to run the sub shop near the college where I used to work.

"Didn't you used to work at Dina's?" I asked her.

"Yes! I know you!" and after a few minutes she said "Where are the guys? You don't have your boys with you?" Meaning Ben, Brian and Dan. I explained that I didn't work at the college anymore but was having lunch with them tomorrow.

"Bring them by! Tell them I said hello!" She hasn't seen us in probably four years, but she remembered. Funny. It cracked me up. And it made me sad. I missed seeing her and having her ALWAYS know exactly what I wanted and how I wanted it. Extra feta on my salads, steak tips or chicken right on top so the feta gets all melty. She was the best. I'm so psyched she is nearby.

How sad is my life that I'm psyched to find Dina the Sub Lady again? Jeeesh. Someone smack me.

It could be worse. I could have exciting deadly horrible scary things happening. I could be having an ongoing brawl with my boss' wife about grammar. That'd be impossible to deal with.

Right now I need to go pack stuff for the boys for their big trip tomorrow. Get them as organized as I can. Be a helpful den mommy. And I have to find the flip flops for my pedicure. ta for now kiddies.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Team Geoffrey Report

I cannot, for the life of me, get out of bed before 7:30am any longer. I hate this. And because I cannot get out of bed earlier, I can't beat Doug into the shower, and thusly must wait until he's done, which is too late for me to get Geoff out onto the bus... so I'm not getting ready until 8:30. And it sucks.

I was getting up at 7, or 6:30 without fail... for months. I blame all of this on the change in time. Sure, I love the evening light. But... not making it to the office until 9:45 is a total drag.

I've been incredibly busy. I've got thousands of things I want to write about but just cannot find the time to sit down and formulate the thoughts (mostly because I can't get up in the morning and I do my best writing while Doug is in the shower and I'm waiting).

The big item on my agenda, my thought-plate is Team Geoffrey.

This week we had a Team IEP Meeting for Geoff. It could not have gone better, and could not have been more reassuring. I have this team of people, "Team Geoffrey," and they're surrounding him not with an attitude of punishment or derision, but with helpfulness, support, brainstorming and problem solving.

The district behavioral specialist was brought in to observe Geoff and offer recommendations, and she said Geoff's not a "behavior case" in the traditional sense of the term. His problems, in her opinion are not behavior based, but learning disability based, and working through issues surrounding his LD will help clear up the behavior. She had some great suggestions, and it was awesome to sit there and watch people like his aide and the Occupational Therapist (I've told you -- I love her) writing stuff down, and thinking, and planning what they'll do next for Geoff when they need to apply different strategies.

His learning disability of Nonverbal Learning Disorder is "textbook"... and if we treat him as a behavior case, it won't help him in the long run. Teaching him to work through the problems he encounters that are based in his disability will diffuse the behavior issues. Educating the staff and teachers more on what Nonverbal Learning disorder requires is essential, and she offered to "join" the team and have the IEP amended to put her in so she can work with him, and us.

As I read a lot of blogs dealing with parenting, school, learning issues, problems and the like, I've learned that the vast majority of people are suffering through their experiences with their special education teams. I can't possibly be having a more different experience unless I were to find myself on Mars. Then, things might be MORE different than what my peers and fellow parents are experiencing. For instance, following Rob's trials and tribulations in what he's trying to get done for Schuyler. What the hell is going on there?

Rob -- move here. This team wants to work with kids. Like Schuyler. Like Geoff. Like anyone with a problem. I have never seen a more willing team. Even his teacher, who back in November and December seemed like she had no desire to work on this team, is on fire for helping Geoff out. She's coming up with suggestions, trying new things for him. She's learning and we're all learning and ... it's amazing. It's scary.

It used to annoy me that they'd call and ask me "what do you do for Geoff when he is in this situation?" or "what kinds of things work at home for him?" But the more I see it now, they're looking for my guidance because they've not had to experience a kid like Geoff ever before in their professional existences. And they're including me on the team, instead of saying "We're the professionals. You go sit down over there and we'll tell you what we'll do for him."

Even within our district, talking to other parents has been slightly humbling. They're not getting the help they need or want. Why am I feeling so supported and surrounded by people who want the best for Geoff? Is it that they're not sick of him yet? He hasn't gotten on that last nerve that drives the specialists and teachers batty?

I guess I'm lucky and thanking those stars. And I can breathe easy knowing that for right now at least we're where we need to be with Geoff, and working on making it much better.

Breathe, just breathe.

There were some questions thrown to me the other day in the comments that I really want to ponder and answer... mostly surrounding how one deals with the minor disagreements one has with an organized religion. I've lived through some of them, I still have some of them. I want to really sit down and comb through my responses and make something coherent with them, instead of just pounding them out.

So that'll be an entry for another day. Hopefully soon. I also have thoughts on a different comments and email based discussion I had with Bill recently surrounding one of his entries.

I love the blogsphere -- when there is thought, discussion, interchange of ideas. It's so damn cool.

Right then -- work is cool too, and I should get over there and ... earn me some money. Have a great day, all y'all. More later.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Early Morning, April Fourth...

This entry might piss some folks off. But. I remind you -- this is my journal. If you agree or disagree, feel free to use the comments to the left. I encourage discourse. Longtime readers will know that I profess Christianity, love the Lord, have this "personal" relationship with God... but I don't like the policies of the Catholic Church. I'm not Catholic, and the fact I have issues with Catholicism is often shrugged off by friends who ARE Catholic as something I don't have a right to have. Because I'm not one of them, I'm somehow not entitled to have an opinion about certain things. I've been told this repeatedly by regular readers and casual stoppers by.

"You just don't understand what it is like... You need to lay off us, it's not any of your business what we do."

But it is my business, and it is everyone's business when there seems to be this huge... hypocrisy surrounding the faith.

I especially take umbrage with American Catholics who complain about the policies of the Catholic Church in the World and its stance on abortion, homosexuality, sex before marriage and the like.

They demand that the Catholic Church change its stance on many issues near and dear to them. The want the Church to bend to their progressive beliefs, their "modern" beliefs.

I tell them, these friends who claim Catholicism but don't do ANY of the things required of them by their faith, these friends who fuck before their wedding or who eat meat on Friday or who get abortions or want priests to get married of have women priests, that instead of bitching about the Church policies that they find another church that fits their philosophies.

You're not Catholic. Face it. Instead of demanding the Church itself change to fit your needs and wants, opinions and philosophies, find one that fits you better. Perhaps you are Episcopalian. Perhaps you should take an online "Which Religion is Right For You?" quiz(*). Find a new shoe that fits, Cinderella. Let the faith of your choosing be your Prince Charming.

The Pope, the Holy Father, in my opinion was a good man. A conservative man. A flawed, human man. Not some actual diety, but a man who tried incredibly hard to do good works in the world, and in my opinion fell short in a few places. But. Overall, I think he did a great job at being Pope Guy. From incredibly humble beginnings, from poverty and from communism, he came forward and helped change the landscape of an entire portion of the globe.

He was a man dedicated to the support and stability of his philosophies and his Church's staunch conservative roots. He was unwavering and uncompromising in what he believed as Right (with a capital R).

He also was a man who gave refuge and sanctuary to Bernard Cardinal Law, saving him from the ravages of what the Boston Area Faithful and Not So Faithful would have done to him had he been left out to face our legal system for the things he allowed to happen to young boys over the past several decades.

On the whole, I always admired Pope John Paul for who he was and where he came from, overlooking some major differences in opinion he and I may have had. To be honest, my Catholic friends are right that I don't have a right or a claim to anything in regards to the Catholic church and its policies in the world. I am a neighbor though, and am encouraged to Love My Neighbor, even if they put bathtubs in their yards with Mary statues in them. Which I just think is plain gaudy.

About one fifth of this planet subscribes to the philosophies of the Catholic Church. I trust my American Catholic Neighbors are looking forward to a Pope who will fall in line with their progressive beliefs. To them, I say -- do not be surprised if you get someone as conservative and hard-line as John Paul over there. And if you don't like it, Unitarianism is really friendly, nice, and all embracing. You'll be welcome there. Find something that makes you happy, brings you joy, and connects you to the divine. As America goes, the rest of the planet does not necessarily follow suit. Keep that in mind.

Time to mutter, you know. Sundays. or Mondays as this may be the case. I say ... and you think ... ?

1. Renewal:: Spiritual
2. Someone to talk to:: Best Friend
3. Count:: of Monte Cristo
4. Expiration:: Registration
5. Upload:: Webpage
6. Publish:: Webpage
7. Holy:: See
8. Change in the air:: Springtime
9. Titillating:: Tease
10. Glorious:: Sunshine

I'm so boring. And unlike Mikey, there are no mentions of boobies.

Seeing as my life lately has been filled with William Shatner, I thought I'd share my ketchup label with you.

I had to laugh when I saw it, and had to buy it.

Just thought you should know.

I don't know if it tastes any more amazing or incredible from having this Kirk endorsement on it. But it does make me laugh.

Saturday it rained harder than I've seen it rain in ... months. But Praises Be, it wasn't snow. I don't know what I would have done if it had been cold enough to sustain snow. They were saying we were to get about five inches of rain, in reality it was less than 3.

We were cooped up inside for the whole day on Saturday, and so when we turned the clocks ahead on Sunday we were especially cranky and aware of the painful cabin fever that was gripping each of our souls. We set out for Geocaching in Ipswich, and wouldn't you know it that the trails were flooded and it was messy and the dogs gut mucky and wet. And it was glorious.

It was warm enough to shed the winter coats, warm enough to sit out at a bench at one cache and really enjoy the view of the marshes and the sun breaking through the sky.

It feels like spring is here. Finally. Next, we'll get ticks when we hike. Then I'll be wishing for the cold again!

My ride home tonight was spectacular. The first Monday after Daylight Savings is always astounding. I'm aware that if I want to, I can go for a nice walk after work, in an area other than my neighborhood. There will be enough light to get me over to the woods or the park or the state forest, and enough to be with me while I walk. It is so refreshing and delightful. I feel my heart sing.

This is the day that I'm aware that summer is coming. And again, the singing heart thing happens. Oh Frabjous Day! I worked exceptionally late this afternoon, leaving the office at 6:30. And it was still light outside. Normally, I would be leaving before 5. But. This late, and this light, and ... oh singing heart.

It makes up for the fact that I so couldn't drag my ass out of bed this morning because of the effects of the hour change. This whole week takes me a while to get used to, and I hate it.

But I love the commute home. Love it.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Invasion Iowa - "Love Bomb"

"Shatner, I'd fight William Shatner."
- Ed Norton, Fight Club

Last night was the two hour finale of one of the funniest things I've ever seen in my life, Invasion Iowa. It was fabulous, not just because they punked an entire town, but because it was touching, bad, evil, funny, redemptive and just plain weird. And you know I love when all those things can be rolled in together. For those of you who don't want to know specific details and "spoilers" to this (ie: if you're waiting to see it when SpikeTV rebroadcasts it, if they do) skip this entry. For those who missed it, or haven't heard anything about it, or want to read -- here's the synopsis and my detailed thoughts about what went down in Riverside Iowa, Population 928.

William Shatner brings a movie crew, actors and a script to a small town in Iowa. This small town is the fictional future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise, so of course it is a fabulous place to film a Shatner outer space alien invasion themed movie.

The movie, titled "Invasion Iowa" concerns a man sent back in time to stop the impregnation of a local young lady. The young lady is to become the mother of a race of Human/Gerclon monsters who bring on the end of the universe, and the ultimate death of Earth. Shatner's character, Shane, must stop this from happening -- he's the only survivor from the future.

That groundwork having been set, they audition locals for roles in the cast and production crew. And the filming begins.

What happens over the next 10 days is short of miraculous. Shatner and his wacky Hollywood "crew" of supporters are taken in fully by the people of the town. This little midwestern burgh embraces the open and blatant weirdness (Steve the Spiritual Avisor "Sympathetic" especially) and makes them a part of their daily lives. Even when the cast, crew, and Shatner request things that most folks (like me) would outright walk away from, laugh at, or question, these folks join right in and say "yes."

And it is more than "These are famous Hollywood people so they know what they're doing so okay!" kind of attitudes. These Iowans are genuinely interested, and want to help and participate because they LIKE the people they are dealing with.

The most amazing and poignant part of this program was the relationship that developed between Shatner and a local elderly man, Don Rath. Each day, Shatner would start his day with coffee at the local Kwik n EZ. Don Rath really reaches into the heart of Shatner, and ends up taking him out to his wife's grave to "meet her." And this sassy old man, stands at her gravesite while William Shatner kneels down by her tombstone, and says something along the lines of "Ma, I'd like you to meet Bill Shatner." And they cry together, and it is just... crazy painful and sad and beautiful. It shows Shatner not as some big celebrity, but a friend to this old codger who "blesses" people with his racoon penis (yes, I said racoon penis) which he carries in his pocket. It shows this amazing bridge between levels in American culture. And keep in mind -- this is when Shatner and his crew aren't "acting." This is real.

Conversely, when Shatner is "acting" his part he pushes it too far with the local Catholic priest. He wants to film a scene in the church that will require blowing out one of the priceless stained glass windows. That went over like a lead balloon with the priest and you could see that this kind and gentle man, who genuinely was willing to help out (and totally not "acting") to provide whatever the cast and crew needed or wanted, was genuinely put off. Shatner's character's shallow philosophy of "it's just a material thing and you shouldn't be attached to material things now should you?" really shows the very real vapid nature some people have in respecting the faith and philosphy of others. The exchange between the two (followed up by another equally painful exchange between the Priest and Shatner's Spiritual Advisor) showed the chasm between different factions in America when it comes to faith and value. The 'Traditional' versus the 'Hollywood' philosophy.

The truth in the experiment is mostly found when Shatner and others are not "acting" very hard. When they are sitting down, face to face with people, talking and engaged in relationship. But they are playing two roles, and the townsfolk are playing just one -- themselves.

The days pass and it becomes more obvious that this is going to hurt more than they thought it would. There are many fearful meetings where they know they have to confess the truth - come clean, be honest and let the town know they've been "had."

In the end, it goes over better than I expected. Partly because Shatner is incredibly sweet and honest and no one does it MTV Generation-Kutchter Punk'd style jumping up and down while pointing, screaming and laughing in the faces of the foils. Shatner sits everyone down to a beautiful dinner in the backyard of one of the assistant to his assistant, Scotty Riggan, and lets people know. Only one person in the town's "inner" circle, Wayne, takes it badly and leaves.

Another reason why the town isn't as pissed at Shatner and Friends as they should be is that they aren't left empty handed after the joke. Shatner gives each of the local members of the team a monetary gift. Having gotten to know them very well, he gives them gifts to benefit their exact needs, dreams, and desires. Brooke, his leading lady, has a horse that she can't afford to keep boarding any longer. Shatner tells her that he wants her to use the money to board the horse. Scotty Riggan has always wanted to go to Hawaii. In the winter when Iowa is unbearable. Shatner cries, and very eloquently and poetically wishes for Scotty and his family a beautiful escape to the warmth of the islands when the winds and dark of the hometown are too much to bear. And they all cry. And it is beautiful, sweet, and money certainly aids forgiveness.

I think these folks would have forgiven the hoax without the money. They seemed genuinely okay with the trickery on the face value of things. But one cast member was really ticked, Wayne Simon, local farmer. He leaves the dinner and it is questioned as to whether or not he will return for the 'reveal' later on. But he's there. He forgives.

One of Wayne's big fears is that Shatner and his Hollywood Pranksters will portray them as dumb bumpkins, yokels, and idiots when this makes it to air, as if saying -- "Look at these poor dumb dimwits! They fell for it! We're awesome! They're suckers!"

But Shatner wants to do nothing of that, and from the outset he makes it clear to us, the audience, that it is not his intent. He stands up in front of everyone and states that is not his goal -- he isn't there to play them for fools and hold them up to the rest of the world as easy marks... quite the opposite. He wants to show them as the fabulous and loving people he got to know. And when they 'reveal' the truth to the entire town, most of the town laughs and is okay with it. The gift of $100,000 is a nice bandaid on any hurt they may feel.

The crew of the show took up a seperate collection and raised $12,000 to give to the local elementary school book project, which shows how the ancillary members of the project were so into these people -- and that was extra touching.

The greatest part of the reveal was when Shatner called out his friend Don Rath, thanked him for the racoon penis blessings, and let him know they'd be placing a park bench in town dedicated to the memory of his lovely wife Nita, so that "all can enjoy the beautiful Iowa landscape."

Overall, this was one of the most fun and amazing pieces of "reality TV" I have ever seen in my life. I loved this town, and the people in it. Everyone came across as having such willing and giving souls and hearts, even when they were confused as to why they were doing something. Only one person involved in the process figured things out, Bill Blank, one of the town "punks" who is actually an actor from another town. And in the long and short of it, I think it sums up what is really nice about this country. People, kindness, happiness, fun, forgiveness and friendship.

And that's my official "Love Bomb" for the show.

Friday, April 01, 2005

April Fools Day

I got to speak with Bonnie for quite some time last night. The hospital operated on her dad and installed an LVAD heart pump to keep the ole ticker working for the time being. Bonnie said his coloring is 1000 times better. She was used to him being... grey.

He still needs a transplant. But. To quote the "dead" man in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "I'm not dead yet. As a matter of fact, I feel better!" The statistics for heart transplants are pretty grim, this hospital only does 10 to 15 a year... and I'm sure there are thousands who die waiting.

This whole week, with the Terri right to die thing and Walt getting a second chance -- all these things have given me time to pause and ponder. I'm glad to have Walt around for a while yet, so my cold can clear up and I can go into the dreaded city and smack him and say "Knock it off! Quit Almost Dyin' on us Pops!" It's nice to know that sometimes there are second (third, fourth) chances. I wonder where God is sometimes, when a little girl has to make a 911 call because she finds her parents shot dead in their bedroom; where God is when Asia continues to be rocked by earthquakes; where God is while people on two sides of an issue are using His Will as their own.

God is quiet in all of this sometimes. Ultimately, I know there is a plan for each of us -- and sometimes one doesn't know what the will of God is. It remains mysterious, locked and hidden from our eyes. Sometimes it is evident for a moment -- that we continue to have someone in our lives when they could be dead. So things can be said, hugs can be shared, waterworks can flow. Take everything as an opportunity. Exercise your will to choose, live, lead, help and love while knowing your path is guided, and ultimately, His will is done.

I was going to write this morning about the stupid truck driver who ruined my afternoon on I-95 yesterday afternoon, but bitching and ranting about it wouldn't do me any good.

I was going to start with "Dear selfish jerk. Thank you for ruining my day..." but my day wasn't ruined. It was temporarily soured. I survived, I got home, we grilled. I watched Invasion Iowa and South Park (oh my GOD, don't get me started on last night's South Park just yet. Did you SEE that!!!), and crashed. Like a truck on I-95. I'm off to work now. Have a good day.