Thursday, June 30, 2005

In my hot little hands

So this morning at 8:50, life found me sitting sipping iced coffee in the parking lot at WXRV radio, waiting until 9am for the business offic to open so I could go in and pick up my major award ("Fragile! It must be Italian!")

As I pulled into the parking lot, "Wilted Rose" came on the station. That was great timing and a beautiful thing, if ever there was one.

Last night when I got home from work, I told Doug about the win, and he was actually thrilled for me. He applauded my determination (I told everyone within a 50 mile radius of my big mouth last week that I would win, and I did, so he thought that was awesome).

(For a larger version of the above, click here and if you're interested in the entire set of BNL pictures I've got on Flickr, click here).

So indeed, he was happy for me. Genuinely happy. Instead of eye-rolly "Oh Dear GOD not another BARENAKED LADIES THING!" I think he was happy because this cost me zero dollars. And that makes it extra special, no?

I will wait until he is piss drunk to tell him of the giant shrine I'm going to build in the center of our livingroom in which I will store the guitar for posterity. It will feature a hermetically-sealed, safety glass, velvet-lined case, piercingly loud security alarm, framed pictures, ticket stubs, special lighting, and a kneeling rail for those to come and gaze upon its beauty.

Oh yes. Yes it will.

He will be more receptive to this fact once he's trashed. I figure sometime this holiday weekend I'll be able to drop that love bomb in his lap. And maybe I'll allow him to build a similar Dylan themed shrine, on the small wall below our air conditioner, or perhaps on the wall above the toilet in Jessica's bathroom.

After I picked it up, I drove to work and got there close to two hours late. It was worth it. Got me a Steven Page automagraphed guitar. Everyone in the office was impressed and happy for me. My boss cocked her head to the side and said "Ya know, I'm kind of surprised that you haven't yet built a shrine here at your desk of some sort. You just have desktop wallpaper of them and you don't have anything really... personal displayed."

She's right. I think my big fear is that based on the history of my job security over the last three years, I'm afraid I'll get laid off at the drop of a hat. It's happened too many times. Settling in and getting comfortable, homesteading the cube farm, always leads to a big box and a pat on the back as I turn in my security access card.

I'll take her comment as an invitation to go ahead and start building that shrine at my desk. Mwah ha ha.

I want to learn to tune the guitar. Maybe play some chords. You all know I'm not at all serious about the shrine as it were. I am serious about protecting it, especially from "the boy."

My big dream is to get it signed by the other four members of the band. I just need to figure out how to do that. Whom to (lovingly and non-threateningly) stalk and beg.

All in due time. In the meantime, it's mine. And I'm a happy gal.

Not much else to report to the masses. Just happy. Happy happy. This should be a very busy weekend, filled with the returning teenaged malcontent daughter and hopefully some wicked good geocaching.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I won! I won I won I won!!!

So all week local radio station "The River" 92.5 has been giving away guitars autographed by Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies. He's out promoting his new side project called "The Vanity Project," and he signed 5 acoustic guitars. I pledged I would win one. And this morning, I did.

Yes I did.

To win, one must answer a trivia question. Not so much the "what is this song about" kind of thing, but questions they posed to Steven in studio last week when he was in house pimping TVP. They would ask, and give four choices.

Monday, the question was "What did Steven Page want to be when he grew up?" The choices were teacher, animator, director and something else (answer turned out to be animator). I got a busy signal the entire time and never made it through. Rats.

Yesterday the question was "What is Steven Page's favorite fast food item?" Choices were Egg McMuffin, Whopper with Cheese, Stuffed Crust Pizza or Bucket o'KFC chicken. I didn't get through. It was busy the entire time again. For the record, the answer is Egg McMuffin.

The DJ hinted at what the question would be this morning, so I called my sister in her office and had her google for me. She couldn't find anything that fit, or matched, or even came close, so I thanked her for her services and decided I'd take the risk of being wrong... and start dialing.

The question was "What is Steven Page's least favorite BNL song?" I had an inkling, but wasn't sure until I heard the four options, and then knew my hunch off the bat was wrong. I totally knew the answer. The options were One Week, Million Dollars, Grade 9 and ... something else. I totally forget.

Phone busy, phone busy, GAH! I KNOW this! I HAVE to get through.

And then I got a ringer instead of a buzzer. It rang and rang, and I was afraid the stupid Verizon bitch recording would come on and say "Your party isn't answering" the way she does... and I would have been so irked. But. I scored. The DJ picked up and asked me if I knew, I told him I was willing to take a guess. He read me the four options and I asked hopefully:

"Is it Grade 9?"

Yes it was. (Insert Windows "Ta-Daaaa" noise here).

I started laughing and had to pull over. I won. I never win anything. And this, my friends and longtime readers who know my hairy obsession with the five Canadian men who write lovely upbeat ditties about mental illness, post-modern ennui, and chickety China, is the greatest day of my life.

I gave all my particulars to the DJ, thanked him wholeheartedly. I called my sister back, who was streaming online and heard me answer the question. She was plotzing as badly as I was. I called Jessica and had Grandma get her out of bed so I could tell her. She was not thrilled to be woken up but was totally thrilled that I won...

C didn't hear me win, she wasn't streaming (that loser) so she missed it. I told the story a million times at the office. I posted on the BNL discussion board and one of the members had a picture that she emailed me... she works for the company that makes the guitars. Thank you, Kelly! She told me that someone from the radio station took it. I have no idea who it was, so I'm hoping the nod and thanks there at the bottom is okay. Dude. Check out his T-shirt. Heh.

So I'm home, and there is this hellish torrential rainstorm raging outside, otherwise my fat butt would be right over there to the station picking up the guitar. I am hoping it lightens up so I can dash over and get it.

Pictures forthcoming.

I won. Holy crap, y'all. I won!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Geocaching and Giant Tikis!!!

The weekend was incredibly fun. Saturday we went to Michael and Jon's and did some crazy geocaching. We learned that when frustrated it is quite okay to kick things. You may be pleased with what you uncover.

We also saw this cool abandoned/disused Chinese restaurant on the side of the road that had a wicked cool tiki out front. Nothing more fun than hanging out taking pictures of a giant tiki, I tell you what.

Sunday was a whole lotta nothing, except for a brief visit to Home Depot. We have a revisit of termites in a new portion of the house, so we went out and got stuff to put into the Terminix containers... rather than pay crazy money for Terminix to come out and do it.

Doug is confident we'll have their little chewing asses kicked in no time. I can't tell you how pissed I am that these gnawing bastards are back... Terminix can kiss my ass. Yes! I said that. You heard me!

My commute to work this morning worked out great. I think I got into Marblehead just in time. I drove past the cemetery where Christopher Piper would be laid to rest, and the Marines were there with the bagpipes playing. The Leathernecks and the Hell's Angels were setting up perimeter. Neighbors to the cemetery had signs out thanking Staff Sgt. Piper for his service and sacrifice. They were getting ready to set up the road blocks just as I went through. I was lucky to get in without having to drive the whole wide way around town.

My boss J graduated with Staff Sgt. Piper. He attended the funeral and reported back that the protesters were there, set apart in a little mini-pen, and the state police had backed their horses up right against the fence. The protesters got a good look at horse ass while they were there, and folks coming out of the church were treated to a regal sight of beautifully groomed and majestic horses lining the street. J said that he had an opportunity to talk to the Marines in attendance who worked under Piper, and to hear them tell great stories of what a generous and giving person he was, and how their lives will be harder without him as their leader. He was very touched by their stories. He came back to the office very subdued but not very sad.

When I drove past the VFW hall, the parking lot was packed beyond belief. I'm sure all the friends, the soldiers, the community who knew him were in there lifting a glass or twelve. I'm glad in the end there was no chaos, and that the family was able to be surrounded by so many friends, and so many strangers who pledged their support.

There was a news story last night about a church in our state with just about the same name as the other church from another state that came to picket this funeral. They're getting hate mail and hate phone calls from yahoos who think they're responsible. The pastor made it clear they're completely unaffiliated with the other church. I have to feel badly for them.

Anyway -- dinnertime. I'm outta here.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


One of my co-workers can technically be classified as a townie in Marblehead, even though she no longer lives there. She knows everything, she knows everyone. Any time I need to know what is going on in Marblehead, she's my go to guy. I found out more information about Monday's funeral situation in Marblehead, and my worst fears could be realized. I also found out a little more about why his funeral is being protested, and like I said, I understand the mental inner workings of termites better than I understand the motivations of the coming picketers.

The picketers aren't protesting Christopher Piper's personal philosophy. They're protesting Massachusetts' legalization of gay marriage. So because he is from Massachusetts, they're protesting his funeral. It makes as much sense as if they came to picket at the funeral of an elderly woman who dies at age 90. Just because she lives in a state that legalized gay marriage. Christopher Piper didn't even live in Massachusetts anymore. He lived in North Carolina, according to my friend.

There will be a funeral service at Old North, and a parade up to the cemetery, which is near my office. My coworker told me that the town expects thousands of state troopers, army, navy, airforce and marines personnel to be in attendance. This is the first person from Marblehead to die during this war, and the town is going all out for him. Which also means, the whackjobs will be met with 10,000 push backs to their little pickets.

I hope they're prepared to not have their message heard. I get the feeling the army guys may just be... pissed. This should be interesting. We talked about whether we should go to the parade portion. I said I would play it by ear and see how things were going on Monday.

This weekend, we thought about going camping because Jessica was not going to be with us to whinge and complain about the outdoors. Then we found out there was Bullriding at the Topsfield Fairgrounds, and opted to go to that instead, coupled with geocaching with Michael and Jon today.

It is forecasted to be brutally hot, so I'm anticipating we'll take it easy, drink tons of water, ice the dogs, and generally have a good time. Funny how when we plan to cache or hike it gets monkey hot. Maybe I should just stop planning things.

I took a couple of pictures at the bull riding, but they didn't come out too sharp. I think it is time for me to upgrade my camera. I must do some research into what is best. This one is good for outdoors, hiking, beating on it. I'd like something sharper with a much better zoom and better functionality in lowlight settings... like BNL concerts or last night's bullriding arena.

So the best pictures I got were of the rodeo clown coming up into the stands to sit on the lady behind us. He was not as funny as he was last year. Same guy, same jokes, just not delivered with conviction.

Alright then -- gotta get red'up to go. I'm talkin' all rodeo like and whatnot.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

That which is so sad is revealed...

A couple of weeks ago I posted this enigmatic entry about how my sister is the most wonderful friend someone who is hurting could ever have. A lot of people have left comments expressing support for whatever was going on, and others have emailed asking if we're all okay. I wanted to give it some distance. I wanted to give it some thought. I'm ready to write a bit about what happened, and I am ready to share some of the sadness with you, if you're ready to read it.

My sister has a lovely friend, someone whom I adore. Someone I will refer to as V. V is married to S. V and S are lovely wonderful people. V and S have always been the best and most wonderful folks, and I've watched from the sidelines as their life together has started, grown and has flourished into a family.

V and S had a little girl.

This little girl, very lovely and looking much like her daddy, suddenly died at age 14 months on the overnight of June 4, 2005. I used the Dave Matthews song of "my Grace is gone" on the entry that I wrote for my random quote. That was her name and I'll never ever be able to hear it without thinking of her, at age 14 months, leaving our lives.

"Excuse me please, one more drink.
Could you make it strong cause I don't need to think
She broke my heart -- My Grace is gone."

Dave's song speaks of a woman leaving him, and his stint at a bar crying into his drinks. In this instance, the woman never got to grow to leave anyone. She was a baby, and she never got to stick it to the likes of Dave Matthews.

I never got to meet her, I have some pictures of her. I remember the happiness I felt for V for becoming a mom. I remember shaking my head as my sister hopped on an airplane and paid probably way too much money to immediately fly down there to be by her best friend's side and celebrate this birth.

My sister is that kind of friend, who will pay through the nose to be by your side when you need her -- in happy and sad times. I applaud that. Money isn't something she has, but it is never an object. More friends should think outside their wallets.

Grace died unexpectedly, suddenly, and has ripped a hole in many a heart. V has many siblings. The entire extended family on both sides is obviously devastated at this event, this moment in their lives.

I can only hope and pray that V can recover, that S can recover... that together they can move past this event, and whatever their future holds together -- no children or more children -- that they always and forever cherish this beautiful Grace, and recognize her influence on their lives. No matter how short a life -- we all have influence.

I'm sorry I never got to play with you. I'm sorry my children never got to dance with you. I'm so sorry that My Grace is Gone.

God bless and speed you, Gracey.

This is the fourth child in my life to die. My friend Sheri and her husband Steve lost their son to a congenital heart defect. A friend of Doug's from High School lost a son who was a week old. This past week, a former co-worker lost his 3 year old son unexpectedly.

This is an incredibly hard subject for me to even put out onto the screen. I have friends who are expecting. I have friends with little babies, with newborns, with toddlers. I have friends with teenaged children who just had aneurysms for crying out loud.

Children and the evils that befall them are often not the topic of discussion here. But. This happened, and bad things happen to little people. Rob R-H happened to mention a great quote in his entry of June 22nd, "Sometimes it's a hard world for small things." For those of you who know me, you know that's from one of my top five favorite movies ever. And it's the damn truth.

I've had several friends bear children with disabilities. Even my own son is classified with all kinds of labels and problems. He's great, he's funny, he's alive. But honey, shit happens.

Shit happens. And what are we supposed to do?

Why do I have both of my kids, and why do my friends and people around me lose theirs? Why is my roommate from college's son Autistic? Why is this other friend going through life with a child with cerebral palsy? What makes the difference? Where do we find the answers? Who deserves to suffer, who deserves to see the child walk down the aisle and dance at a wedding? Where is God? How does this happen?

What did any of us do wrong?

Why can't kids just be born, be healthy and grow up to dance at their weddings with their parents in joy and happiness?

I'm forever surprised and amazed that both of my kids are alive and walking today. I'm amazed that Jessica survived lead poisoning at 2 years to be the intelligent and beautiful woman she's becoming today. I'm surprised at Geoff just BEING most of the time, with the life of super danger he leads.

I have no idea how we got where we are today. I have no idea if tomorrow something horrible will happen to Geoff at camp, or on the way home from the grocery store. A year ago I lost him at a park. He wandered away from me and decided to walk home. I remember the terror I felt when I could not find him. I remember how the police suspected me, and asked me questions as if I'd thrown him into the river and then feigned his missing status.

I remember the dry mouth and heaves that came when I heard over the police radio that they had him, and he was okay.

I cannot possibly imagine what S and V went through and are going through, and will go through over time. All I can say is that every minute of every day they are on my mind. They are in my thoughts. They are in my prayers.

With the events of my last entry, and the people I speak of who are planning to picket service personnel funerals in Massachusetts -- all I can say is "Dude. There are much more important things in life to do."

There are such important things to do and to consider.

And that's why I'm writing this entry. Not so much to talk about friends behind their backs, because goodness knows they're not reading my journal right now. But because I want each of you, whether you have kids or not, to just stop being petty and ridiculous. To love one another. To touch the lives of other people, like Grace did in her short tenure amongst us.

I want love to rule... I want to see, hear, experience and know that those around me are doing love. Doing kindness. Doing things which bring joy.

I want each of us to make an impact on another person, and to do so in a positive, loving way. I want love. I want you to love. I want you to feel. I want you to shed the sarcastic attitude and just do something wonderful for someone. If you have a child, watch that child grow and change and teach that kid to give love to others. If you have no kids, just freakin' hold the door for someone sometime.

There is so much that is so important in life. And as of late, I truly believe no one is seeing that which is so beautiful around them.

So do me a favor... In Grace's name -- do something kind. Do something loving. Let her be a legacy to you, even if you never met her, got to play with her, got to dance with her. Just exhibit her namesake -- Grace -- to another. Stop bickering, stop whining about who parked crooked or drove past and splashed you in their Lexus (guilty as charged), or complaining about your body or your boss or your apartment or your debt.

That's all. That's all.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005


So, I watched the news before I got in bed, as is my wont each evening. I like for Kevin Lemanowicz to tell me how warm or humid or rainy or thundery or sunny it will be the next day, so my dress may be appropriate. One of the lead stories disturbed me deeply. It concerns the funeral of a serviceman who died on June 15, 2005.

The serviceman, Christopher Piper of Marblehead, died as a result of injuries he sustained in Afghanistan. He made it all the way from Afghanistan to Germany to Texas, and died. Friends and family are shocked, and deeply saddened -- of course. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

The news reports that there is this religious group from another state (whose name and philosophy I am reluctant to even mention here lest a Google search link me somehow to them) planning a protest AT HIS FUNERAL. This group has a problem with homosexuality. A big problem. So why are they targeting a married man with two teenaged sons if they hate gays and gay people? Because Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Christopher Piper was tolerant and supportive towards gays. According to the news report.

I went to their webpage, and they don't mention Christopher Piper at all as one of their picket sites. But they do mention plenty of other servicemen who were killed by IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) on their "Thank God for IEDs!" page. I get the impression they're happy that soldiers are killed by IEDs because an IED was used against their church. They also think Billy Graham is evil and plan on protesting him. I really don't get their reasoning or understand what they're doing. But I do know that what they're doing, even if I agreed with it, is in incredibly bad taste and exhibits pride and poor judgement that only truly fanatical and delusional people can show.

It isn't bad enough that these men suffered. They're dead... For Christoper Piper, his wife is a young widow, his kids have no dad. It isn't bad enough that men like him are in harm's way constantly and are doing so with the belief that they are protecting the individual rights of citizens here in this country to speak, live, breath, exist, and protest.

But because he was a nice guy to people, of whatever philosophy or stripe, a bunch of yahoos are going to come in and protest him. I can't think of anything that God would hate more than what they are planning to do.

It is getting completely out of hand with these people. They've protested gay students graduating high school. They've protested middle school students writing papers in school about gay figures in pop culture. Now they will drag their opinion into a private arena, where a woman and her two children cannot quietly and solemnly lay this man to rest.

I'm pissed.

I'm all for people protesting any stupid thing they believe in. Go ahead -- just do it somewhere appropriate. Don't like the war? Great. Protest it until your lungs fly out of your mouth, just do it on appropriate turf. Support gay rights? Yeah -- wave your sign and yell and scream... on appropriate turf.

At this man's funeral, there should only be family, friends, loved ones, members of the community who know and adore him - gay, straight, male, female, young and old. Not the frothing blatherings of someone's political agenda no matter what it may be.

There used to be places in society where rhetoric dare not tread. This was one of them. A funeral. Sacred ground. Find another venue, another spot, another something -- and allow this family to hopefully find the blessing of the peace that passes understanding.

See, I think that maybe God would like that.

There are lot of things I personally and humbly think that God would like better. See, just because I've read the bible and believe the contents doesn't mean I can speak for God. So I can't say God likes this and God hates that. But I have an inkling of an idea. I believe God would rather see these people putting their efforts into, I don't know -- feeding hungry kids? Building houses for people who have no homes, no shelter? Maybe?

I think God probably doesn't like when people stand up and shoot their mouths off in anger towards others while saying that these are God's opinions. God likes when we mirror his love, mirror his compassion, mirror his understanding. In fact, I think God loves it.

I don't believe that God hates any one of us on the planet. If they want to pinpoint passages of scripture to back up their philosophy and say "See, this is why God hates gays or Sweden or Christopher Piper or whatever..." then I just ask why he'd send us the blood of his son if he hates the vast majority of the planet? Why would he have done that in the first place -- he so loved the world. Every last one of us.

And I still believe he does, even these jerks who run around spitting venom in his name.

Another thing that chafes my britches about this is that the funeral is Monday in Marblehead. I only know of one cemetery in Marblehead. I have to drive past it daily. There is a VFW hall in town, and it is across the street from the cemetery. I have a feeling this entire scene could get ugly. Fast. And I have to drive past it.

I have a sinking feeling this event could mess with my commute, or my going to get lunch, or my just having a pulse in that town on Monday. We'll have to see.

A big part of me wants to see one of these guys with their signs so I can go up to them and beat the crap out of them. But the smart part of me that doesn't want to go to jail says that they'll get theirs eventually, when they find out what God truly loves and hates.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

On Monday, I had one of "those" mornings. I did my entry after walking Geoff to the bus. I got some dishes done. I got some laundry going. I packed his bag for camp so he would have everything he needed when I picked him up from school. I went to the school, got the boy, drove him to camp. I realized when I got there that I'd forgotten his immunization records, a big no-no for any camp going kid. You must have proof of immunizations. So. I drove home. I got the immunization record. I drove back to camp.

I dropped off the document, waved to Geoff, reminded his counselor to put sunscreen on his ears because they stick out and always burn. I hit the road.

I was only 10 minutes later than I'd thought I would be that morning, so I figured, hey -- I'm doing really well with this.

Getting close to I-95, I suddenly believed deep in my heart of hearts that no one remembered (no one being me) to turn off the coffee maker. Because I knew no one would be home until 8pm, I knew I'd better go back and turn it off.

It was off. That was all for nothing. Gah.

Again, I headed towards my office. Getting to I-95, I hopped on the highway and managed to go less than half the distance to the next exit when traffic suddenly came to a complete halt. Oh, hell no. Two lanes closed for the big ongoing nightmarish paving project. FTS, I'm outta here.

I got off at the next exit and decided to head east to Rte 1. I could cruise down Rte 1, and then hit 95 again and continue on my way. Natch.

Just past the Topsfield Fairgrounds, again, traffic ground to a halt. Road construction. Double oh hell no. Detour into the neighborhood to the west. I was behind a nervous nelly who was deathly afraid to venture into the neighborhood and follow the big hugeassed orange signs at any sort of sensible speed, lest she blow past a big arrow telling her which way to go and she'd plummet of the face of the earth or be eaten alive by the aboriginal residents of Topsfield. So we crawled along like turtles. And me cursing her existence.

Eventually, we made it safely back to Rte. 1 and I blasted past Ms. Dingus at about one billion and a half miles per hour. Holy crap... I can't believe I was stuck behind her.

Back on 95, cruising along, 80mph, blasting past that police speed trap just north of Centre Street. Luckily, I was not the rabbit in the pack, and the guy in the other lane going about 10 mph faster than I was got nailed by the wolf. I cruised off the highway and into Peabody. Traffic was bumper to bumper the entire way. I'm cursing myself for even bothering to try and make it to work. Just give up. You'll never get there. By the time you get there it will be time to turn around and go back and get Geoff from camp.

This is how long it took me to get to work:

My 45-50 minute commute took me a hour and 47 minutes.

Today's commute almost had me turning around and heading back home, but for entirely different reasons. I got Geoff to camp on time, and was about 3 minutes from my office when I heard that Steven Page of BNL was making a live in studio appearance at the local radio station up near my house.

Holy Crap!

I slammed on the brakes. I almost spilled my coffee. Do you know the amount of will-power it took to keep me heading towards the office? Do you know the Herculean strength I needed to apply to my body, my feet, my hands, my brain, just to keep from flipping a big fat U-turn to go home, hang out freaking out Fangrrrl style for a couple hours and then going over to the radio station to salivate in the vacant lot across the street?

Believe me -- it was an effort.

Everyone at work was proud of me. G and C both were shocked when they heard him on air and realized that indeed, I was sitting there in the office.

I'm nothing if not messed up in my priorities in life.

And another example of me not having my priorities straight is that I didn't leave work the minute I got there to drive into Boston and go get a wrist band for tonight's in-store appearance by The Vanity Project (aka, Steven Page). I'm a loser. But the wristbands are all gone by now.

"That's all, that's all."

So it was asked of me by a few people: How did Geoff do at his first day of camp.

Well, for a boy who didn't want to be there, he tells me it was "the greatest day of his life." You may recall that he said the exact same thing the day that Aaron took him fishing in North Carolina. So I guess that he now has a new greatest day. Sad but true.

He liked it so much that when Doug went to pick him up, he denied that he was Geoff and said he was "Joe" so that he didn't have to leave. Doug was standing at the pick-up spot, and they radioed for the boy, and the response was 'uh, we don't have a Geoff down here...' there were only a few boys, so they rounded them up and got descriptions. Doug said "yeah, the blonde with glasses." And then Geoff got the royal lecture about telling the truth and yeah we're glad you liked camp so much but you can't go and lie like that because grown ups take it all pretty seriously and the like.


He also came home with a wicked bad sunburn on his back. I asked him if his counselor put sunscreen on him, and he said "Just my ears."

You'll recall at the beginning of this entry that I did indeed instruct the counselor to make sure he got sunscreen on his ears. All he heard, obviously, was "sunscreen" and "ears."

Boys. They crack me up. Rob will probably agree when he reads this that indeed -- yes, boys hear things differently. They do things differently. I called the camp director today and informed him of this fact and he said he'd go over sunscreen safety with the boys... and he thanked me for understanding and not freaking out yelling.

What can I say. I have a boy who does exactly these things.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Ferry the girl away...

My son. You'd think that a kid would WANT to start summer camp. They would WANT to skip the last day of school (half day on a MONDAY, who does that!?) and go straight to camp. But not Geoff. I told him that he was going to camp and he freaked out "but I won't see my friends again! I'll miss learning something! What if they teach something I need for the rest of my life!" Oh! The DRAMA of preadolescent youth!

Dude, more than half of them are going to the same camp. In fact, my guess is more than half of them will not be in school today, they'll be... AT CAMP! As for missing something, he just doesn't really get the fact that there ain't no book learnin' goin' down in no school today. It's the last day. It's a HALF day.

Man. My son...

So he went to school. I'm going to pick him up at about 10am, drive him over, get him acclimated, pat him on his pointed little head and wish the staff luck.

This should be interesting.

I am glad I'm staying home this morning, I am just plain worn out. Between the Geoff drama and our weekend adventures, I need just a few minutes to breathe, and do dishes.

And write a journal entry.

Today's quote of the moment is dedicated to Jessica. Read it, over there in the left side bar, and come back here. Okay. Explanation:

Jessica likes to sniff me. Yes. I said that. Jessica will be sitting on the couch next to me, and she'll lean over, stick her nose on my shirt and inhale. Sniffffffffff! I have NO idea where this came from, but it cracks me up and then we get into this whole "You may not sniff your mommy!" argument and I push her and she sniffs me. It's weird. It is one of those truly Jessica-Christine weirdnesses that I don't honestly expect anyone on earth to understand, comprehend, get.

She says she likes the smell of our laundry, and that sniffing Geoff or Dad is just weird. And sniffing me isn't? Whatever.

Yesterday on the ferry, we were getting ready to deboat and she sniffed me and said "You Stink."

What! Little brat! How dare she. "I do not stink."

Then she starts laughing and says "You stink. Yes you do. You smell like beef and cheese. You don't smell like Santa." If you don't recognize the quote, it's from the movie Elf and Will Ferrell's character, Buddy Elf, says it to the store Santa in the department store where he is "working." So she and I bust out laughing our asses off. Doug standing behind us, looking at us wanly as if to say "How did I get myself into this mess."

Speaking of busting out laughing, I got a phone call on Saturday from my old friend Dr. Bobby K, professor extrordinaire at some university, somewhere in the USA. Ole Rob there is just dying laughing, and I can't understand a word he is saying. Finally he gets out, "I've been laughing for 48 hours -- I had to call you and tell you why."

Rob was in a pet store in his current state somewhere in America, buying dog food for ole Cooper Dog. He went to pay the man at the register for said canine victuals. Suddenly he hears the in-store music playing "Easy Lover" by Philip Bailey and Phil Collins. And he uncontrollably busts out laughing in the cashier's face -- he cannot stop laughing.

The poor guy at the register must have been quite confused. But in his mind's eye, Rob sees me sitting in the passenger's seat of his car in like 1984, singing into the "mic" in my hand "She's a sleazy mother..." in a high, fake falsetto mocking tone.

And he can't stop laughing.

So there is he is, two days later, still laughing. He said to me "I look back on those things we used to do, and we were funny. God, we were so funny."

Sometimes when 17 and 18 year olds are together, they think they're funny. More often than not, they are just funny in the moment. But. If they can get to age 38 and they are suddenly swept over by how ridiculously funny something was 20 years ago, and they can't stop laughing, you know that shit was true. True funny.

We were funny. We were damn funny beyond any shadow of a doubt. The crap we would do and sing and joke about was just downright juvenile and really funny. I wish to hell that I'd had a camcorder back then, to tape Rob stomping on the brakes and beeping the horn in rhythm to the Eagles' "Heartache Tonight" as I sang out the windows through all of downtown Huntington NY on a hotassed summer night.

Rob thinks he's lost his funny. I don't think so. I laugh my ass off still when we talk on the phone, and let me tell you -- God bless the phone. I seriously would have no friends on this earth if it weren't for the damn phone. We can laugh ass off about Geoff stories (I told Rob the bungee cord wedgie story and he just about died) and all kinds of stuff... he's still funny. He just needs a proper venue.

Bobby K -- this one's for you! Sing it with me now, brothers and sisters! "She's a sleazy mother, She’ll take your heart but you won’t feel it..."

Yesterday we drove Jessica down to drop her off with my parents. It was a long round trip, but we had a lot of fun during the day.

We actually got out the door 10 minutes before we planned... which, for those of you who know and love us, is a very rare event indeed. We missed one ferry by mere seconds.

The ferry ride over was cloudy and cold so we stayed in the cabin. I enjoy the ferry ride when it is hot hot hot and sunny. Crashing out on the upper deck and just enjoying the rays and tanning my feet -- that's the life. We met Grandma and Grampa in Port Jefferson, ate a great lunch at Papa Joe's right in town. Enjoyed the company, the beer, and the nice breeze. Port Jeff was certainly nicer weatherwise than New England was.

We then did some geocaches. One really tricky one right behind the restaurant, and another quick and easy one by the docks in the guardrail.

We did a third that required some more walking, so Doug and I went off to do that while the kids had ice cream with Grandma and Grampa. God bless Grandma and Grampa! The park where this one was hidden is under construction, and at first I didn't think we were going to be able to access the site.

There was a huge fence, and keep out signs everywhere, but then I saw this opening in the fence with a nice walkway to a statue... hmmmm. So we went in. It was a tricky find, but find it we did. Then we enjoyed combing for beach glass along the shore. A ferry came, and we could have hustled back and gotten the boy, but we took our time. We caught the next one after taking my parents for a nice walk all around downtown, checking out little stores and listening to South American pan flute music in the square.

The ride home seemed to take a million years more than the ride down. We eventually made it back. Our deck stairs still need fixed. So we're using Jessica's front door to get in the house, which is confusing the dogs. Doug said he'll come home from work early and get the deck fixed.

Geoff's cub scout den has their 'year end reward' for good behavior today. They're playing Laser Tag, and it should be tons of fun. I am hoping to go straight from work over there, seeing as I'm not at work now... it'd be good to stay at the office until 6 and then drive over... thus making up some time.

But I may come home first at 4 and get Geoff from camp, give Doug some time to maybe fix the deck, that way we don't need to sit in the dark with flashlights and bug spray.

That's the muppet update over here. I hope all y'all had a good weekend.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Turtle and a stretch of dangerous road

Today we geocached our mighty asses off. Found three and went to do site maintenance on another one. We participated in the safe road crossing of a turtle (Carlos Santana would have been very proud of us for loving the earth and being good creatures filled with love for others!). We were blasting down Lee Hook Rd. and Doug yells "Wow! Look at the turtle!" and bangs a U-turn and goes back to it. We got out, and the turtle had its head so far out of its shell that I couldn't believe my eyes. I've never seen a fully extended turtle neck like that before. He was sniffing the air and trying to figure out if he should cross or not.

We agreed that we would help him, but neither of us wanted to pick him up. Not because turtles are icky, but I was afraid of having my fingers chomped off, and Doug says that turtles carry salmonella on their bellies and shells and that if you're not able to immediately clean up you could regret the helping out activities later.

Knowing that a little girl in Florida was killed while trying to help a turtle cross the street, we kind of signalled to traffic to slow a bit as the little dude made his way across. Suddenly, another car passes and pulls over. This young Asian guy gets out and says "Hey! Are ya helping the turtle cross!?" He went and picked it up and carried it across the street. No fear of finger chomping or of salmonella on his part. He was beaming ... "It's good luck to help them cross," he tells us.

Yes it is. I wanted to hand him a quick-nap wipey thing, just to continue the good luck karma. Unfortunately I didn't have any.

I hope he washed his hands when he got home.

Well, Doug is making supper and I'm needing to help Jessie pack her stuff up. Friday morning Doug pointed out to me that we were mentally deranged if we thought we could take a night of rock and then drive Jessie to NY the following morning. I listened to his reasoning and fully agreed. So we're taking her down tomorrow.

More then.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Los Lonely Boys

Tweeter Center
June 17, 2005

Three brothers looking as if they might be the notorious Mexican Mafia step out on stage. Three men, standing in front of Carlos Santana's humongous stage set -- they look small, they look slightly out of place. A guitar, a drum kit and a bass are all they have.

And then they start playing.

The sound is Stevie Ray Vaughn meets the Refreshments. Immediately the semi-thug image of Ringo (yes, that's his real name) on the drums, with his bad-assed bandana melts away, revealing a young man who wants nothing more than to beat the rock out of the skins and send the beat flying into your face. His brothers, Henry (Guitar) and JoJo (Bass) step up to the mic and flawlessly belt out their art. Singing a gorgeous two part harmony while riffing tremendous Texas guitar-driven rock.

These are Los Lonely Boys -- these are the crown jewels of Texas rock. Heir apparent to the throne of Stevie Ray, they blew invisible walls off the shed of the Tweeter Center, and also blew me away. I was familiar only with their one radio hit "Heaven." I didn't know they were rock gods in blue button down shirts, pony tails and black pants.

Their short opening set at last night's Santana concert was worth the price of admission itself. At the end of their last song, Henry and JoJo performed some searing instrumental acrobatic feats which left people astonished and humbled. I mean, I can't even describe what they did it was so cool, funny, and awesome.

If you get a chance to see them live, do so. If you enjoy what they call "Texican" rock, great harmonies, latino flair and music played without overt and invasive technology this is a live show that you cannot miss.

I have a deep respect for anyone who can actually play an instrument, and play it well. Perform and perform well. I've always been a huge proponent of a lot of solo folk artists because there is nothing more pure, basic and incorruptable than a human voice and a guitar. Combine that with another gorgeous human voice and a bass, and another human voice and a set of drums which deliver the beat to your heart, and you've got yourself something so honest, so beautiful and so impressive. In an age where lipsynching is the norm and not the exception, hearing one off note and seeing the face of the musician who screwed up as he giggles -- it's all beautiful and good.

I loved them.

And they ushered in Carlos Santana. The master. El Papa. With his amazing lineup of about a dozen musicians, one would think the amount of bodies on stage were there to compensate for the man's age or inability to play.

Not so.

Santana's guitar work is as pristine and pure as if it were the 60s or 70s. And watching him you can see this is an older man with the heart of a little kid, up there, riffing like mad, flinging his arms in the air to bring the audience to its feet to dance. Maria, Maria -- the man is amazing.

I'd rather watch ole Carlos any day compared to that decroded piece of crap Mick Jagger. He is the elder statesman of Latino American rock -- and it was humbling to watch him last night.

Along with Santana's amazing guitar work goes this bizarre spiritual/visual video production with a picture of the earth and a foetus super imposed upon it, followed by a dove flying, and gorgeous views of mesas and some African Tribesmen dancing. It is truly surreal, and I suppose if you are baked half out of your mind it might have a lot more "meaning." But for the clean and sober it is kind of funny and really sort of campy.

It was a great night. And if I could, right this minute I'd be at Hampton Beach checking out Los Lonely Boys again. I'm into it. Bueno!

Thursday, June 16, 2005


I figured I'd better sit down and write an entry before work this morning because I honestly doubt I'm going to have a minute between now and late Saturday night to commit to this, my high art and craft. Heh.

Tomorrow night Doug and I are joining Gregg and Karry in a concert viewing of Mr. Carlos Santana and Los Lonely Boys. I've got a sitter lined up and I'm leaving straight from work to meet G&K and Doug to drive down in one car. Should rock. I've never seen Santana, I've always liked his music but it hasn't been on my list of things to do. Being invited is 98% of the reason I'm going to this one. I always love having a night out with G&K.

We were supposed to go to a birthday party for someone else but I thought the party was on Saturday night and totally screwed up the arrangements. I had finalized everything with Gregg and realized I'd better check with the party thrower to see if there was anything I was supposed to bring, on Saturday. She set me straight -- the Party is Friday.

Eeek. I'm a scab.

So I had to graciously back out of the party, because Gregg had purchased the tickets. I felt awful... she was quite forgiving. I'm relieved. I'm in no position in life to piss friends off permanently so that I have... no friends. That would suck.

Saturday morning we're driving Jessica down to Grandma's via the ferry. They'll meet us in Port Jefferson and take her the rest of the way to Nintendoland. Then, we'll come back up into Connecticut and geocache a bit. Should be fun and we should be home late.

So you see, I'm a busy gal.

Nothing else to report, really. I need to shower and get ready, and get Geoff ready. He's very angry now because Jessica gets to go to Grandma's and he has to go to stupid summer camp. He would like to go to Grandma Nintendo's, but it is too much on her to take them for two weeks, plus -- I paid for camp so he's going. I'm hoping he gets out of his blue funk. I'm thinking a special gift to celebrate sissy's being away is in order -- he's dying for this new Pokemon gameboy game... I may have to stop at Target on the way home.

And that's about my life. This afternoon when I get home I'll be cleaning like a madwoman so the livingroom/kitchen and Geoff's room are presentable for the sitter. So I won't be here to chat with you. Have a super day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

power issues

Last night while Doug was at the market and I was working on the laptop the power went out. It was a little after 7pm, and we were on the fringes of a huge thunderstorm, according to the weather map on

So, I didn't think anything of it. The power goes off all the time. Doug brought the food home and we quickly jammed essentials into the freezer and a few things into the fridge. The salad items could wait. The cheese could wait... butter hopefully wouldn't melt to liquid before the power returned.

We settled down to wait. Geoff asked a lot of questions about pioneers and settlers and their lifestyle... Doug started the grill so we could have dinner. It was about 7:30.

By 8:30 we still didn't have power. I was getting kind of stir crazy in the hot house and opted to go to Blockbuster to just drop off a movie that I hadn't viewed yet but knew it would be overdue momentarily. I quickly realized that two doors up they had power, and across the street they had power. But we didn't have any. I then wondered if the power drought was us popping a circuit breaker.

So I took a little ride through the neighborhood.

On my street, five or six houses were without power. Everyone else in town was juiced. Hmmm. That's interesting.

I then began to wonder about my neighbors, if they knew that the power was on elsewhere, and we were a little oasis of darkness in the midst of an electrified burgh. So I called the police dispatch to ask if there was an emergency number for the power company, I'd like to report our power out. The dispatcher told me that the repair guys were on the way. She asked how extensive it was. I told her and she said she'd make note. She said there were other clusters in the area that were out, on Gardner Street and Seven Star.

I came home and got the kids and took them out for ice cream. We'd been trying to convice Geoff that the pioneers lived by candle light and cooked on open flame too, and he should pretend he was a pioneer. But he wasn't having it. He was lamenting "Oh, there will never be technology again!" Doug and I try not to laugh in his face when he is like this but we couldn't resist. The drama of no power! I can't play video games! my life as I know it is over! It's like the damn Planet of the Apes!

Going out for ice cream cheered him up, and he wanted to know if pioneers went out for ice cream. As often as they played video games.

When we arrived home the electric guys were up on the pole working their magic. Within minutes the lights came on, then went off. Came on again, and as quickly went off. Each time a cheer and a moan from my kids. And then they came on and stayed on and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

I, especially, because Real World/Road Rules Inferno II was about to come on. And I really wanted to see Tonya stick it to the bitches on her team...

Oh, technology! Where would I be without you!

Anyway -- the power returned, life goes on. Neighbor girl told me that her parents threw out all their food from the fridge last night because of the power outage. I was stunned. The power was out for three hours. It wasn't the Great Blackout of 2005 or anything. We kept our fridge closed. I figured if the power was out in the morning that we'd have to chuck some things. But all the food?


Sunday, June 12, 2005

I am schwetty

Wow. It's hot. Today the ACs go into the windows, and by Wednesday we'll be back down in the upper 60s. But at least I'll get a great night's sleep under the comforter tonight. Last night was a bear. But I survived and there will be no weather related whining.

I think last year or during the winter or summer or something I got on a whole "don't bitch about the weather" tear because too many bloggers were just going nuts with kvetching about it being too hot or too cold or too whatever. Shutup and deal with it. That's what I say. I will also say that it sucks to take a shower, get out of the shower, and the effort to dry and get dressed results in your being just as drenched in sweat as you were before you got in the shower. That bites.

And to give credit to my daughter, yesterday I could not recall the second award that she got. It was honor society. She missed high honors by a bit, but was incredibly happy to get into honor society. May she stay there, long may she run indeed.

We took the cub scouts hiking yesterday in Andover. From the parking area to elephant rock and back is close to a three mile loop. Doug thought it would take us a lot longer than it did, but even with a long, leisurely lunch break we were done an hour faster than he budgeted the time for. Geoff was joined by three of his mates and they all did a tremendous job.

Pictured here is one of the boys, with a friend found on the trail... he found five toads on the hike. This was the only one I managed to capture with him. He'd pick them up, say hi, and let them go.

I had a really great time talking with another mom who came, and with the den mother. She cracks me up -- and I really like spending time with her. Her husband and 2 year old daughter came with us too, and they were awesome.

The mini-Super Hiker grabbed herself a hiking stick and lead the way. She only had to get in the backpack a couple of times, much to her father's relief.

It was a really great time. I'm glad this den is staying together next year. They're good kids and I really am having fun being involved.

Pictures in Flickr if you're interested in the few I managed to get.

We picked Jessica up after the hike and went to Chunky's Cinema Pub in Haverhill for dinner and a movie. We brought K with us for the third straight year... remember from prior posts that K. is the friend with the brain thing going on (by the way, the big surgery is June 21st, so continued mojo in her direction please).

We haven't been there in years, and I can't imagine why we don't think to go there. Two birds, one stone. Dinner and Movie. The food is good and there is beer (Hallelujah!) for me and Doug. The last time we were there was when Jess turned 10. Three friends and the movie Spirit. I think that once I get to June in the archives for 2002 I will find the full review.

So the dinner and movie thing was fun, and everyone had a great time. We saw Madagascar which wasn't nearly as bad as some of the critics have made it out to be. I found David Schwimmer's giraffe annoying. I really liked the king of the lemurs... he was crazy funny. The interplay between Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) and Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock) was great. There were a lot of funny pop-culture jokes going on in the film but the best is when Alex the lion does a kind of Zoolander "Blue Steel" look over his shoulder. I almost laughed my ass off -- it was there for a split second, and I don't think that anyone else in the theatre got it. At one point, Marty starts running away from Alex when he knows Alex is going to kick his ass for getting them lost at sea, and he yells in slow motion "Sugar Honey Ice Tea!" And you all know what that means. THAT was something I haven't heard since I was maybe ... 12 years of age.

I think I'm going to start using it often. It's funny.

When the movie finished, the little boy from the table beside us got up and ran down front to dance to the credits. He was obviously handicapped -- but he had this air about him that I found incredibly irresistible. I turned to his mom and said "He's not happy or anything, is he?" and she cracked up. "Do you mind if I join him? I have to dance too." So she gestured for me to go ahead.

And I did.

I danced with this little kid, who at first was shocked that someone else was with him, but he warmed up to it and the both of us did The Airplane. We shook our groove things, and K. and Jessica died laughing.

I don't know what came over me, but I swear sometimes I see little kids who are so in the moment and it infects me and takes over my soul. It's why I would make a horrible elementary school teacher, because I'd just go nuts with the kids and they wouldn't learn a damn thing.

Jessica and Geoff are kind of used to this incredibly stupid behavior on my part. Doug didn't yell at me to sit my ass down, but they probably sat there shaking their heads. And I don't care. I had a blast and it was so fun and he was so happy and made my heart fly.

On the way out K. said to me "I don't know you. I'm not with you." while laughing her ass off. I grabbed her, hugged her and said "Oh yes you do. You are One Of Us!"

The poor child.

After the movie and dinner thing we stopped for birthday ice cream at a little place on River Street in Haverhill. I was still feeling a bit silly from my dancing. When we were all served at the window, I handed the girl my money and she brought me back my change.

"Thanks hon, and can I ask you guys to do me a favor?"

"Sure, what is it?" the window girl responded.

"I gestured to Jessica and said "Today is her birthday. Would you guys sing to her for me?"

"Yeah, all of us?" she asked, and I nodded. So four girls came over to the window and sang with me to Jessie while her friend K just about died. They both think I'm certifiably insane... and you know I am too. See the sidebar quote of the moment for even more evidence.

Doug has started installing the ACs, which means in about five minutes he'll be calling me to hold something still while he whacks the Sugar Honey Ice Tea out of it with a hammer. So I'd best finish up and move along.

Have a good day.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Warm Spell

Like I predicted, as I prognosticated, we went from 50 degrees to 90 degrees in like one week. It is brutally hot with no soft, gentle ramp-up to hot. And I'm cranky but... I gotta say. I prefer it to freezing my big A off. Bug spray and sweat while hiking beats regretting not putting that other fleece layer on a mile from the truck when the wind rips through my flesh.

I have been crazy busy at work, and crazy busy at home. There hasn't been much to update since my last writing, and I've been uninspired and sad. Focusing on my job has kept my mind off of sad.

Friday there was an end-of-year presentation at Geoff's school and at the exact same time the 7th grade award ceremony for Jessie. Doug went to hers, I went to Geoff's. Doug was reluctant to go, he didn't think parents were invited to this and Jessica said she didn't care if we came or not that it was stupid and a waste of time.

She got an award for French, and for something else that I cannot recall and she's gone to bed.

Geoff was well behaved in his presentation, but the heat and the noise really got to him after a while. Can't say as I blame him. After it was over we all went to all the classrooms and had snack. I had a long talk with his one-on-one aide and she told me that all the sped aide staff is being laid off in 2 weeks, and they may or may not be re-hired to their positions for the fall. I'm semi-freaking out, because if he does not have a one-on-one aide, third grade is going to be just as sucky as most of this year. The only saving grace this year was his 1-1 aide. Otherwise, it would be a wash in many ways in my opinion. I'm going to have to make some phone calls, and I'm incredibly glad I have not signed his IEP for next year. I'll hold that until I have a guarantee that someone will be assigned to my son. So help me, Jebus.

Today Jess is 13. We don't have anything planned for her for a party or any sort of marking of the occasion. She didn't want anything. She asked specifically for three things, two of which I could find, the third can wait. We may take her out to dinner.

Today she is going to her friend K's house to hang out while Doug and I lead a hike for the cub scout den. Yes. It is 90 billion degrees and we are taking the cub scouts on a wicked long hike. Thing is, they have to do this before Monday or they can't get their World Conservation badges... and only the boys who go will be receiving the badges.

It's a busy time of year and I wanted to make sure everyone could make time for this, so we planned it out and I tried to communicate with the parents clearly. I gave people plenty of notice that we were doing this. I asked specifically "does this date and time work for you. If it does not, please let me know and we can work something else out..." and NONE of the parents responded. So yesterday at the assembly I asked all but two kids' parents (I didn't see the other two). "Oh, yeah. he's got a baseball game at 1 so that doesn't work out."

Well, we could have left at 8 instead of 10 and he could have come with... why didn't you let me know?

"I forgot."

Okay. Whatever.

I don't think I'd be a good den mother. I think I'd get pissy because there is nothing I hate more than when people don't even respond at all, and the participation in the group is seen as something that is ancillary to the rest of life.

But my son will get his badge and we'll have a good hike, even with the heat. I just packed his lunch and have to stop and get plenty of water.

I think three out of nine boys will be there. Just as well. It might be hard to watch all nine on the trails. They are a nightmare when all nine of them are together.

Well, I'd best get my act together and get ready. I bought Geoff a bureau at a yard sale yesterday and it is in the back of the truck. Lots to do so I'd best do it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

"Hello Bithes!"

Before I got sad news (see last entry) I was all set to do this funny entry on a bit of graffiti that I saw on Sunday. We were up in New Hampshire, Geocaching as usual, and there was this fire tower in Stratham.

The fire tower had graffiti all over it, but most especially at the top level, where the best views were to be found and obviously the best place to sit, hang, and get high and play with a Sharpie.

And where there are drunk/high kids and Sharpies... well. Hilarity ensues.

There were several references to Nikki and who she loves currently. There were references to the very same Nikki, and her friends Alexis, Jaquie, Jannelle and Rachel, who allegedly are going to be whores 4 ever.

And on the railing in giant letters it said "Hello Bithes!" With the "c" missing from the word "Bitches." Say it out loud - Bithes. It's funny. Walk into a room and intone loudly to your friends "Hello Bithes!" And see if you don't laugh.

Drunk Girls with Sharpies. That's some quality entertainment.

There were other items of graffiti up there. One was "If I can get drunk, y is it against tha law to get hi?" Because it kills your brain cells, bith, and makes you unable to spell. And there was another one that said "Graffitti is dumb. Graffitti is for krazy ppl." Yes. Yes it is. Glad you realize that. As Alanis sings, "Isn't it ironic? Don't you think. A little too ironic? Yeah, I really do think."

I'm experiencing a weird sort of spike in visitorship.

I've gone from an average of 65 hits a day to over 90, and today I'm up around 99 and it is only 8pm. I'm using Sitecounter, I can't really tell who is coming to the site because it only shows me the URL sources of about 20 of the most recent visitors, and there are no search engine keyword hits in the logs to account for the spike.

So one of you bithes (heh) must be visiting an extra 30 times a day. Thank you. Either that, or something wacky is going on!

I described the weather in the office to people today as "Monkey Hot." And that got me a huge laugh. I know that many of you have used the term Monkey Hot, or Tarzan Hot or Africa Hot... Monkey Hot is my favorite of them all. And no one in my office had heard the combination of heat and humidity such as what we are experiencing today as such.

G turned to the new employee and said "Christine often just comes up with things that are so weird and we just run with it." Another one that they weren't aware of was "Assy" as an adjective. I know Taunia and Amy both use Assy... and it is oft my favorite. It is simple. It is fun to say. Almost as much fun as Bithes.

Today at work, we got a laptop for the operations group to share. I'm primarily going to be taking it for the floorplan project. I find that sitting in here for 10 hours a week is a drag, and the laptop would make it easier on Doug and Jessica when they need to use the PC. Jessie has had several end-of-year project things that have had her needing the PC for longer than what I'm used to, so I haven't been able to get as much done over here as I like. I'm psyched to use it. Yay productivity!

Monday, June 06, 2005

My Grace...

"Excuse me please, one more drink. Could you make it strong cause I don't need to think. She broke my heart. My Grace is gone. One more drink and I'll be gone..."
- Dave Matthews

There's something I can't write about yet. Suffice to say -- something happened in our circle which causes me deep grief, but nothing compared to what our friends are feeling. And nothing compared to what my sister is feeling. I didn't get any sleep last night. I am sad to the core. And there is nothing I can do.

I cannot yet write in detail and address what happened or how I feel about it. But I do want to say something. Because I will not sleep tonight unless I let these words out.

I want to tell you about my sister. I want the world to know the kind of person she is. And I want you to think about people in your life, and the kind of friend you are.

I want to tell you that if you are my sister's friend... she will be the first person to drop everything and rush to be at your side in your dire time of desperate sadness and need. She will feel what you feel, and feel it in a way that you probably never could imagine someone outside of your shoes could possibly experience. But it will be as close to your real pain and surprise and suffering as if it were hers to own.

She will put her life on hold to come hold you. She will give everything she has and everything she is for you, her dear friend. She will thumb her nose at work and conventional wisdom, and she will weep with you. She will be your guiding light, she will do things for you that most people will not even get from their families.

She is your angel, she is your best friend, she is the light of your soul and while she cannot remove your pain or make anything better, she is right there beside you and holds you up until you can be better on your own.

She will do the same for you in your moment of joy. Giving and doing and helping in ways that boggle the mind.

And this is the truth, my dear reader: If there is a heaven, I know she will be there because there is no selflessness like hers. There is no ego that needs fed in her. There is only this beacon of what God wants each and every one of us to be like.

The big part of why I am so sad right now is because I know what she is feeling, and I know that there is nothing more in this world that she can do to help -- and that hurts me... to know she's helpless in this situation.

What kind of friend are you? Are you the saint? Are you the one who does what Linda does, who gives as Linda gives? To the point of foolishness at times, yes?

Please let her be your model. When someone you love needs you, please be there like Linda. Be the one that turns mourning into dancing, if you can.

I love and admire her so very much for what she does and who she is, that it hurts. This is not the entry I wanted to write tonight. But this is going to keep me awake for the next few nights, and letting a little of it shine for her -- in praise of her and what she is and does -- is all I can really share.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Hot hot heat

Not the band, but the weather. So we did exactly what I thought we would do, weatherwise. We've gone from 50 degrees and raining to 90 degrees and sweltering in one week. Yesterday we went out geocaching in the Exeter area, and it was gorgeous hot. The woods were humid with the moisture seeping out of the fresh leaves of the trees, and the smell of damp earth and sweet flowers was intoxicating.

Yes, in Exeter.

There were two nice trails that we went on. One was on the backside of the Phillips Exeter campus, the other was in the Oaklands Forest up on 85.

The only reason I say this is because I tried to call our friend Mr. Garfield (a frequent commenter and should-be blogger) but when I called the number that Verizon Wireless gave me, it was some guy Fareed's house. Unless Mr. Garfield is a silly man who has "Hi, you've reached Fareed. Leave me a message" on his answering machine as a goof, I couldn't leave a message. I didn't want to invite Fareed hiking with us.

Should have brought your number and address with me. Mea Culpa.

Yesterday was great. In the Oaklands forest there were mountain bike trails, and this system of ramps and jumps along the granite shoulders of the trail... Napoleon Dynamite would want to know if you took your bike "off any sweet jumps" and you could say "Yeah. This one."

When we were in Exeter at the Powderhouse, there was this gianormous crane or heron or something, and it was flying all around. I got one shot of it, because we never knew where it would be. And we saw an otter. First time we've ever seen anything like that especially not out in the wild where one might expect to see some wildlife like that. The view from the Powderhouse trail is really nice. Exeter is a cute town and it was fun to visit there yesterday.

It felt really good to be out. We didn't get too many miles logged because we left late in the afternoon, and only hit three caches. But at least we didn't get caught in a thunderstorm this time.

Last night I spent a ton of time going through the archive folders for 2001 and fixing all the broken relative links... the content has gone from one computer to a CD to another for storage, back onto a different CD... so all the links were broken, and some of the graphics are missing but I'm sure I can find them.

I finished June through November 2001. What a difference three or four years make in a kid. I especially like this picture of Geoff from back in the day:

Anyway... I'll keep whacking at the archives and getting them up on the server. I'm sure that you're just dying to read them. In the meantime, I'm afraid I actually have to water my garden today. Haven't had to do that lately!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

These Dreams

In the past few weeks, I've had several very bizarre dreams. Because this is not a dream journal, and I don't really think blurting out the contents of my subconscious is a good thing to do in an online arena, I avoid sharing the images of the night with you, dear reader. But the dream I had last night brings some thoughts to mind, which are things I should think about and wonder during the daylight hours. Plus, I'm at a loss as to what to write about today.

Many of you know my mom. Swirlie is a good nickname for her, bestowed upon her by my dear friend Wob from High School. Swirlie is a great grandma, a fun person. She lets me and my sister make fun of her all the time, and she can dish it out as well as she takes it. I credit her fully for my sense of humor (dark and sinister as it may be) and thank her wholeheartedly for supporting me, helping with our stupid weiner kids when she can, and for just being the best mom she could be.

The one thing I have a problem with is her smoking. My whole entire life she has smoked. I had horrible allergies. Mom took me to several ENTs who said "she's allergic to smoke." But no one in the house quit smoking. I went through a bottle of actifed a week instead.

I locked myself in my bedroom for four years and didn't come out because I just couldn't stand smelling smoke anymore. I'd go to youth group meetings, and the holier than thou kids would wrinkle their noses at me, thinking I was the smoker when I really just carried the stench from the car ride, which my mother was gracious enough to provide for me. I felt judged because of her habit. I really hated that.

She quit for a while in 2003/2004. For quite a while as a matter of fact. And then she started up again. It really bothered me when she did. I mean, she was in the hospital for like a week one winter, and quit out of necessity... and did a great job of staying smoke free for a good long time. But with any addiction, there is the backslide. And she didn't maintain her "sobriety" as it were.

She gets defensive about her smoking habit, and often times says "It's my only vice. I don't drink, I don't gamble, I don't do a lot of bad things. This is all I've got as a vice so lay off..." While it is true that video games are her only REAL vice, dude -- she's such an addict -- she does the smoking thing, and I guess there's nothing I can do to change it.

A long time ago, I asked her if she realized what she was doing to herself. Again -- the defensiveness, and she brought up that I'm overweight and turned the tables asking me if I'd considered what I'm doing to myself. Touché. She doesn't seem concerned or worried that she'll end up like Auntie H who passed away in February, refusing to use an oxygen tank or any other COPD breathing assistance when she is horribly emphyzemic and suffering.

This all brings me to my dream. In my dream, she finds out she's got advanced lung cancer and it has spread to her bones. And that two years ago when she was sick and in the hospital, the cancer had started and they didn't detect it at the time... and so she's gone untreated for two years.

And she is crying.

She is crying, weeping and sobbing, which in and of itself surprises me... for someone who has always been "Ces't La Vie" about her smoking. Whatever will be will be. But now, faced with the undeniable truth that she is going to die a very painful and horrible death... much sooner than later, she's devastated.

And she is ranting. She is SCREAMING... not taking this very well. She is blaming the doctors, the nurses, the entire hospital system for not catching it when she was in there. She is blaming off-shoring, "some goddamn Indian in some backwater lab reading her chest X-rays in 2003 didn't catch it" and it's all their fault. She's blaming my father for quitting in 1993... because he continues to stress her out and MAKE her want to smoke. Stress is more to blame than the doctors now. And now the neighborhood in which they live is to blame. It's a horrible place and so it stresses her out even more and she smokes to deal with it.

And I'm sitting there in the dream, growing more and more furious...

... because what I don't hear her saying is what I expected. That "Whatever will be will be" attitude that she wore so well for so long.

"Oh well. I guess it is all my fault for smoking in the first place and continuing to do so for 50 years."

I hear everyone else on the planet is to blame except for her.

And I lose it.

I start SCREAMING back at her. I am shocked as I'm sitting here just recalling this dream and the fury that I unleash upon her as she's reduced to crying and tears and pain... and I'm screaming at her that it is all her own fault. She cannot have the unmitigated gaul to blame an X-ray technician for misreading her film. She needs to own this. She needs to embrace it... it's her creation, not some sort of "Call Attorney Jim Sokolove and get all the money humanly possible out of the medical malpractice suit that you can!" situation.

I call her a stupid selfish bitch. And I leave her there.

I wake up. I'm deeply aware... of how horrible I was in this dream. That I am not the person I play myself to be. Where the hell did this absolutely violent freak-out against my mom come from?

More often than not, I believe very strongly that I am a giving, supportive and kind soul.

I'll hold your hand when you stub your toe or your house burns down. I'll donate money to your kid's Big Box Of Words fund. I'll give you money for your cat to have surgery. I'll write about your problem and send you all the mojo and prayer I can. I'll hand your resume to everyone I know when you lose your job. I will listen to you bitch about your boss, and try and add humor to lighten the situation. I sit in incredibly busy and stressful office situations and always try and be the one who steps up, takes jobs, helps out -- take one for the team.

I do so not out of some sort of "I feel so much cooler about myself when I help people!" deal -- but because I believe so deeply that God wants us to love and support one another at every possible turn. As much as he wants us to praise him in thanks when things are going wrong, he wants us to be his vessel of love and lift one another up. That is how God works miracles. That is love. That is what makes the world go round.

And there's my mother.

How do I treat her in my dream? Like filth. When she needs me to put my arm around her and say "oh, honey..." I verbally rape her heart and soul with the most vile emotional beating that I can give out. It's beyond "Hey, I told you so." It's outright damnation.

I don't doubt for a minute that in the next 20 years I'll truly face this situation. How will I handle it? We joke around, my sister and I, that Tree is the one who will get to deal with Swirlie when the time comes to pick a home... and then Doug says "But I work for a nursing home chain, so I get a 10% discount if you put her in one of ours." As always, we deal with what may be the harsh reality with a lot of inappropriate humor. When the time really comes though... I hope I will handle the situation with a bit more kindness and dignity.

But really -- am I wrong in my dream? My position is the truth. Did I just deliver the truth with a bit too much loud, angry honesty and not enough gentle, political aplomb? "Gee honey, sorry you have such a rotten and horrible disease but... you yourself should have seen it coming and it's no one's fault but your own. There, there. Have a tissue."

Because it is a dream, I don't know where it leaves off. It's not a movie, a DVD that I can pick a scene and watch over again to spot the flaw in my action. It is a leak in my true feelings towards my mom, and what I may be left to deal with because of choices she made in the 1950s... and continues to make today. I'm afraid I may not like the ending... but will try and do better in playing my role when the time comes.

I love my mother. I truly and honestly do. I want the best for her... not the easiest out for me when her time to shed the mortal coil comes. And really, who knows -- I could die before her, and even though she smokes up until her dying day she could be an 90 year old grumpy old lady yelling at people in Doug's nursing home (10% discount! Woo hoo!) when I'm dead and in the ground 10 years from some fat lady disease.

And she'll be able to say "I told you so."

Friday, June 03, 2005

G, E and a snake!

Today I got to leave work early because Jess was out with her school chorus at a competition and then a trip to Canobie Lake Park. So there was no one here to meet Geoff. I didn't get ahold of the neighbor girl upstairs in time this morning, once I realized that he'd be home alone... so I got to pull leave early on a Friday for boy duty.

I had plans when I got home. There was vacuuming to be done. And dishes were waiting. And a journal entry. And floorplans. And I wanted to take Geoff out for an hour and maybe fly his pirate kite, which hasn't been flown since the shores of OBX a month and a half ago.

Geoff got home, and he didn't want to go out and play, he didn't want to do anything. He was tired... so he curled up on the couch and played some video games. Doug came home, and I realized I just really didn't feel like doing anything either. I folded three loads of laundry, just to get them off of the bed so I could take a nap.

And I napped.

Oh, Lordy, did I nap. I died for about an hour. Barking dogs. Huge semi-trucks. Paving equipment and loud radios across the street. Geoff getting pissed at Sly Cooper. None of these thinks disturbed this sleep of deep death. I woke in time for Doug to come into the bedroom and mumble at me that I needed to move so he could nap. I was on his side of the bed, and that was just ... unacceptable.

I felt pretty crappy before I took a nap. Now I feel stupendous.

It's good that I feel so great. Because I have been taught the next step in the floor plan operations, and M has asked me if I would be so kind as to assist him with that part of the project. I now have the power to determine where our screens will be placed in grocery stores, and can go ahead and position them in the document.

Mwah ha ha ha.

Our neighbor Emily found a snake.

She kept it in a bug cage for a couple of days, and finally this morning her mother told her to let it go. I do not know what garter snakes are interested in eating, and I'm sure that in the bug cage, whatever she could provide for it wasn't what it wanted, so I'm incredibly glad her mom went nuts and yelled at her to release it.

So she brought it over to release in our yard. Naturally.

Now, many of you know that my husband Doug hates snakes with a mad, burning passion. His inner Pappy Snyder comes out and he goes insane when he sees a snake... the Kittanning Hillbilly deep in his core emerges, and he starts yelling in Pittsburghese and he gets a hoe or starts the lawn mower and is bent on destruction of the slithery beast.

Picture Groundskeeper Willie with a beer belly and less of a crazy head of red hair... and no Scottish accent.

A herpetologist he is not. A herpemurderer he is.

I didn't get mad at E for bringing it over here (or her mother for suggesting she do so... It's nature. It's all good to me) but I was sure to tell E to release it down by the creek (or, crick for you WPA folk). What does she do? She lets it out at the foot of our deck and she and Geoff lean over and watch it slither around in the grass, not heading anywhere fast.


"Um, E honey, you best take that down to the creek, LIKE I SAID TO, or if it's still hanging out there when Mr. G comes home, it won't live long."


So the kids took it down the creek (aka crick) and let it go. It gleefully slithered to the fast moving water and was gone before I could wish it good luck and good riddance.

And we almost missed the bus. But it was fun and worth it, just to be outside, settin' free the snake. I had this happy feeling that we were all living so nicely with nature in these parts, and it joyfully welled up in my heart.

Then, I saw the dead fox.

He was the next town over, on the side of the road. He looked as if he was positioned there carefully after his death by whomever hit him or perhaps another passerby. I don't think he crossed the road and laid in his final repose so perfectly. Plus, there was a tell-tale drag mark across the road, and his feet were arranged rather politely.

An animal in death throes does not arrange feet politely upon collapse.

He was large, and very very beautiful and reddish brown. My heart sank when I saw him. I've never seen a fox in this area, much less one this size, with beautiful fur and a lovely, healthy body. I can only imagine how the person who hit him must have felt. Surprised, I'm sure... reverent enough to stop the vehicle and move him so he wouldn't be run over again and completely splayed across the road, like the turtle that is out by our driveway right now (making me swoon with nausea each time I pass it). Guilty. Sad. I know I felt sad.

When I drove home, he was gone. Animal control must have come out to remove him. Funny... they'll leave a squirrel, a racoon and a billion turtles, but in less than five hours they're out collecting the carcass of a fox with gorgeous fur.

I wonder what will become of him.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Dinner sans children

There are very few opportunities that Doug and I have to spend time alone without the kids. God bless our neighbor and friend S for taking both of them in exchange for me driving her daughter to soccer practice. They only needed to be there for two hours or so... but it was enough for me and hubby to have time to ourselves and enjoy a meal in a restaurant that caters to grown ups and not the "family" crowd. I'm not against dining with kids, but once in a while, it's nice to just go out with us... no kiddies, and no one elses' kiddies there either.

And last night was perfect.

We were going to go to Newburyport to the Black Cow. Not sure if it is related to the Black Cow in S. Hamilton, MA ... but 14 years ago on the 31st we sat at the Black Cow with our entire wedding party sucking down beers and having a ton of fun. Some of you reading this were there. Cheers to you!

Before getting hitched the following morning (not sure if I ever blogged about it, but I got married barefoot because I lost my shoes ... nice!)

We ditched that plan because Doug got home at six, and it would be late and yadda yadda. So he suggested we go to Haverhill to Bistro 45.

That table there in the corner by the windows? That's where we sat (yes, I lifted the pic from their website... but it was lovely and I loved being there and wanted to show you exactly where we sat). We went there last year when the kids were staying with my folks down in NY, and figured it would be a good time to go without them again. The menu has no chicken fingers or hotdogs or other kid things, and it is definately "haute" cuisine for the area... and we love it.

The salad was field greens, bartlett pears, goat cheese and a strawberry dressing. Ummmy yummy yes! We had crostini for two -- six pieces with different toppings ranging from melted goat cheese and red pepper to roasted garlic and brie. Very nicely done. For the entree, I had the beef tenderloin in pan sauce with potatoes and carmelized onions, the sauce was to die for. Doug had the pan seared tuna on couscous with roasted red peppers and green beans. Dessert was for me -- a chocolate mousse, for Doug the orange cheesecake with creme fraische (sp?) in an oreo crust. With a chocolate martini.

They have crazy beers from weird far-away places, and we had some of those. All told, no better way to mark 14 years than this meal, in this lovely restaurant, by ourselves, early in the evening.

This is the kind of place I'd want to bring my swanky city-acquainted friends to show them how wonderful and well the Merrimack Valley does haute cuisine. Any takers? Let me know when you wanna meet! It is right near the commuter rail stop. You can come up from town easy. Nice!

We were home before the sun set, got the kids, watched some Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry while Jessica finished writing a paper that was due today, and all were asleep by 10pm.

Life is good.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Today is a special day for Doug and me. It's our wedding anniversary. Some of you were there. You may recall. It was a gorgeous spring day. The weather was perfect. The pine pollen was flying. The rhododendrons were in full screaming bloom. Fourteen years. I'd trade it for nothing.

Jessica says the sentiment "I'd trade it for nothing" is grammatically incorrect.

"Here's my married life, wanna trade?"
"Here's nothing in exchange"
"Thank you."

She may be right.

What I mean is, I wouldn't trade my marriage, my life, for anything in the world. So I wouldn't trade it for anything. Instead of I'd trade it for nothing.

Stupid, wiseacred 12 almost 13 year old second guessing my writing. Go away! (there. she's gone!)

Last night , my husband and my first born were watching some home shopping TV channel and laughing their asses off at a chocolate fountain thing. The hawkers were talking about what a great and classy, romantic and lovely gift it is to have this three-tiered volcano of chocolate running on your living room table as you dip all kinds of craft into the sugar lava flow.

I'm so glad they were laughing. That is why I love them. But the longer they watched it, the more I feared the likelihood they'd lose resolve, break down, call and order it, like Opus Penguin and the turnip twaddler and salad spinner from back in the day (from Bloom County, for those who do not get the reference).

The past few days have been incredibly busy. On Monday, we decided since we'd gotten literally nothing done all weekend, that it was useless getting started (another reason why Doug and I get along so incredibly well...) and opted to head out geocaching. We planned seven. We ditched Jessica with a friend and headed up to southern NH. The first cache we headed to was in Rock Rimmon state park. Doug found a trail to go to the summit of the "hill." But the trail vanished for absolutely no reason, and we ended up bushwhacking about .24 to the main trail that we should have taken had we stayed on the path we were on... I was bitchy for a few minutes but as far as bushwhacking goes, it was no Norton Cemetery. We got to see this humongous rock which was truly insanely huge. Had we been on the trail, we would have missed that.

See, I'm ever the optimist.

We got to the top... the view to the south and east was stunning, gorgeous -- filled with light fluffy clouds and the sense of happiness. But I turned around and behind us was ... thunder. Huge, oppressive black clouds were coming from the north west... and we were doomed.

We found the cache and skeedaddled. After getting onto the trail that we should have taken on the way up, it started to rain. We stood under a tree and convinced Geoff that it was Nature's Umbrella... for about a minute, until it began to deluge.

It was a shitstorm of rain. Sheets of pouring rain. Doug and I just looked at each other and said, well... we are wet whether or not we stand still or walk, so... we started walking. We thought it would be a passing shower, but hell no. It rained.

This is the third summer we've been doing this game, and this is the first time we've ever been caught by surprise and hit with the rain. We didn't do the other six caches. We came home and I worked on floorplans instead.

The weekend was an off and on washout. But as I told someone at work today, no one got hurt, no one got into a fight, some laughs were had and we survived.

It beat being in a tent somewhere.

My tenant's daughter has moved in with them.

C, the mom, told me today that last weekend they went down and got all her stuff from where she was living with her grandmother, and brought her up here. All this school year she'd been getting into fights with some people, and this time it got to the point where she had a size 13 boot bruise on her leg and the police arrested all involved, and she was expelled from school. She tried to hold her own all year, but finally -- she just couldn't.

So, with two weeks left in the academic year, she's here... and started at our high school today. Much to my daughter's surprise and glee. She likes D a lot, and is psyched to have her here.

She's really sweet, and I like her... and I'm incredibly glad she had an out. Our school district is much much better than where she was. But her moving up here monkey wrenches the hell out of my plans.

Doug and I were going to let P and C know (the husband/wife team) that in September we were hoping they'd move out, and we'd even help them find a place or do whatever necessary to help them.

You see, we have TOTALLY grown out of this space. When we picked this house in 1996 we decided that we would turn it back into a single family house once we were in a financial position to do so. When Clayton moved out in 2001, we didn't rent out his apartment. We took over his unit. His old kitchen is our "study" where I'm sitting now. And his old livingroom is Jessica's bedroom... but it should be a formal living room, and have a nice staircase going up to three bedrooms and a full bath upstairs.

I have a total vision on a plan. We just needed for us to be in a financial position to make it possible, where we didn't rely on their small rent just to make the ends meet each moth. And, I was banking on us being in that position in September... at the earliest.

Now, I'm feeling kind of bad. They just brought this girl up here, she's enrolling in our school system, she's a good kid -- and what. I'm going to ask them to leave just as she's getting settled?

Had they spoken to us first, or had we brought our thoughts and desires up with them, perhaps things might have been different.

I know they'll be cool about it. They love living here, but C has expressed to me that the neighborhood is fifty times noisier than it was a year ago when she moved in with P. And it is. Our neighbor with his truck, and the neighbors across the street are under construction and start at ungodly thirty in the morning... and the dog kennel two doors up with their freaking barking beasts is making her mental ... so she might be keen on the move. I know that her business just failed, and she's got a new job she's starting on Monday, so money might be shaky for them, especially now that D is with them.

I was thinking the summer would give them enough time to get their stuff together and be stable for a move, just the two of them. But if they couldn't find a place here in town... the daughter would have to change schools again.

Housing in this area is insanely expensive. They pay next to nothing in rent. The rental income isn't even really an issue to me... I don't raise their rent because we aren't landlords to make money hand over fist. We charge what we feel is fair for an apartment that size. Combine that with the fact they are hella good people, and we're quite happy.

I know they won't find ANYthing remotely affordable in this town or the next five around us. I'm feeling guilty for even pondering this. Perhaps this time next year would be better, and would give them a full 12 months notice... and if something awesome came into play between now and then, I'd so bless their going.

I am not sure what to do. Any advice? It's always welcome, you know that.