Thursday, September 29, 2005

Come in, she said, I'll give you shelter from the storm...

Well that was interesting.

At about 2pm I left work, Doug needed to stay at work and couldn't go meet Geoff's bus, and seeing as I have an hour long commute timing is important. I left the office and the wind was blowing like mad. Not hurricane strong, but too strong for the stunt kite.

It is often very windy at my office, seeing as it is in Marblehead, and the ocean often gets more wind than we do, five or so miles inland. And I sometimes get my hopes up when I leave the office that when I get home we can do some kite flying. I get home to still, heavy air... and regret that I didn't have a kite at the office.

So today I drove home up the highway, finding it incredibly difficult to control my vehicle. On the exit ramp there were windows strewn all about, frames and all. They fell off a truck, and I drove around them thinking "Jeesh, maybe I should stop and move them" but realized I might get totally killed in the effort. You know how last week I went to do something giving and the universe repayed me with scorn.

I drove a little ways further up the road and there was a tree down. There was a car with its windshield smashed in, and the driver looking really confused. A tree limb was behind him, smashed to a million pieces. More tree limbs were landing all around the street, and traffic didn't know whether to stop or flee.

I pulled over, not under trees, and asked the driver if he was okay. He said he was unhurt but obviously couldn't drive the car. I offered to call 911 for him and whipped out the trusty cell phone. He nodded approval, and I offered him a place to sit in the car to wait for the cops.

Come in, she said, I'll give you shelter from the storm.

The police told me they were on their way, that other folks had called them. The man declined my offer and thanked me. I offered to wait with him and he semi-angrily waved me off, so I left.

More tree limbs were in the road ahead, going was slow. I walked in the door and discovered Jack had pooped all over Jessie's room. This sucked but it showed me that he is indeed eating once again so I only minorly scolded him and cleaned up, and took him out to pee...

and discovered the down tree in my yard.Tree

We have a lot of trees. This one was a young one near the edge of our property, and to be honest was not in my mind a tree that I thought we'd lose to a storm.

A long time ago when we bought the house there were two dead trees down in the creek, which we considered removing but figured they provided a lot of habitat. Nine years later, nature took care of that habitat and whacked both trees down one day when none of us were around to hear or see the event.

We also have a line of hemlocks behind the house that are seriously 100 feet tall. One winter storm cracked one of the tree tops off about 15 feet from the tippy top. I was convinced one of these trees would have been damaged in this windstorm today... but all of them are fine.

This tree though, it was young and nice. Struck down in its prime. The interior does not show rot or insect damage. But it fell. Now the top couple of feet are stuck up in our apple tree (the tree-climbing tree) and we're going to have to figure out how to safely get'r'done before too long.

Doug's ride home was equally difficult, with actual detours around dead trees covering entire roads in North Andover and Boxford.

And now it is sunny.

Weird day weatherwise. I know it isn't hurricane-like, but damn if it sure wasn't just a little more interesting than just driving home.

The other day I asked the universe to send me a tourist from Indiana to get stuck behind so I could go back to bitching and moaning about my commute. Well, I got my wish only it wasn't a tourist.

I was stopped at some road construction, sitting on my side of the one-lane road while a cop waved folks on. It was a huge, long-assed line of traffic. Everyone in the world was headed that way, except for me, so it was my turn to just wait for the entire rest of the planet to go.

The cop gestured to me to wait a second while one last straggler from the huge, long line came through. Which was fine with me, what's one more car.

I couldn't see the guy coming, but the cop could. No one was behind me, I was the only person heading my direction....

that is until some woman came up behind me at a million miles an hour, passed me on my left by crossing over the double yellow line, and then the whipped into the lane in front of me just as the little car was coming past the cop.

I laid on the horn because I couldn't think of anything else to do... the woman slammed on her brakes, as did the oncoming driver, and the cop FREAKED the hell out.

Can't say as I blame him.

What was this woman thinking, that I was parked where I was, just sitting there for fun? The whacko stopped just in time, and the cop ripped her a new one and waved the terrified oncomer through the lane.

Then, two more cars came up behind me and passed me on the left, getting stuck behind the woman who was being verbally assaulted by the incredibly irate cop. He freaked out at them too. I looked at the guy beside me like "what the fuck are you doing!" and he sheepishly let me pull ahead. As I passed the cop, he had this look of complete and utter incredulity and annoyance on his face. He could have been killed, and no doubt the oncoming car driver could have been killed. It was horrific.

At the next light, I ended up behind the asshat woman who initially blew past me. She was talking on her cell, playing with her hair, and sat for 13 seconds at the green left arrow which only stays on for 20 seconds but doesn't come on again for like five minutes.

The guy who sheepishly allowed me ahead of him at the construction scene was behind me and he beeped his horn long and hard. The woman ahead of me thought it was me who beeped, and flipped me off and started the whole freaking out so I could see her in the rear view mirror thing. She finally made the turn, and the guy behind me ran the red arrow behind me (I made it through on yellow).

And the entire rest of the way we were stuck behind this woman, going 20 in a 40 zone, making obscene gestures at me and weaving all over the place back and forth like that meant anything to me. I wanted her to crash into someone on the opposite side of the street, just so the guy behind me, who now was basically in my trunk would HIT ME and I could sue the ever loving crap out of both of their asses.

Believe you me, I would.

The guy behind me works in my office park, so he was up my crack for the entire ride in, and gave me dirty looks when we got to the parking lot. I'm not sure what I did wrong... except for get in front of him. And the universe gave me what I wanted for a story.

Now, I would like the entire rest of my year to not have anyone psycho behind me or in front of me or near me for the commuting time I need to spend in the world. m'kay? Thanks.

Other than that, there's nothing going on. More tree pictures on if you're interested. And on that note. Dinner time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Wake me up when September ends...

Continuing in the theme of things one should do when one is sad, the other day I bought 2 tickets to the upcoming Barenaked Ladies show in December in Portland Maine. And as soon as they go on sale, four tickets to Mohegan Sun in Connecticut the following night. Four because Ronnie and Linda will join us. It's Ronnie's birthday on the 3rd, so it is a smash bang whammo fun casino birthday weekend. Nice! This cheered me up leaps and bounds. I'm still sad, but the Ladies always make me feel better.

There have been three or four pet deaths in the last week in my read circle. Nance lost her cat Nunzio. Andi and Joe at Worst Weblog Ever had a horrible loss when their cat Furio suddenly died last week. Annie's Lil Bear has been hovering on the brink of a diagnosis of FIP which sounds like it could mean imminent death and the possible contamination of her other cats if she isn't incredibly thorough in cleaning for the foreseable future.

And in the midst of this, I know someone who is adopting a gorgeous yellow lab mix this weekend. I can hope only that this brings some sort of karmic balance to our surrounding pet universe, and that by all the loss this rescue and adoption is perfect and wonderful and lasts for millions of happy geocaches.

Geoff has a field trip to Fenway Park today. I'm jealous. I wanted to go as a chaperone, but I didn't get picked. I never get picked for the cool trips, just the lame ones. So I need to go pack his lunch. Work has been ever chaotic.

Oh-- send Jessie good mojo this afternoon. She's got an audition (gosh, I sounded just like Wil Wheaton there for a second, requesting audition mojo! yikes!) at 2:30, and she wants a good role. She didn't get a lead last year, what with being in 7th grade, so she's hoping for a good one this year. Cross fingers. Please.

And that, my friends, is that. We're off to the bus.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Max Power Way

Continuing in the theme of things one should do when one is sad, we went geocaching yesterday afternoon.

The cache we picked skirts the West Newbury/Groveland/Byfield border and had been in our sites for months. We'd been to this area before with Michael and Jon, I think back in June of 2003 or whenever it was we did a different cache in that exact area. We parked where we knew it would be a dry walk in, but should have parked where our hearts told us to because it was virtually bone dry on the trails. By parking where we did, we added nearly 2 miles to the hike. Which was good because you know we need the exercise, but it sucked because it was just a mother-humping longassed hike and I wanted to do more caching and not do a five mile walk for one notch in my belt (by the way, we're up to 420 found, thank you very much).

As we've learned here in the past, there is the right way, the wrong way and the Team Screamapillar, I mean, the Max Power way. And we definitely did it the Max Power way. We always seem to do it the Max Power way, don't we? Perhaps we should change our team name to Max Power Team or something.

It was really good to be out and hike and take care of getting this one out of our cleared radius. Before it rains again and we can't go anywhere near it. Jack needed the long walk and the good swim. The entire time we were out there I thought of how this one would have crippled Kinger for the next entire week if he had been with us, and realized that I never would have done this one with him anyway. It would have been way too much on his knees.

My life feels a little more liberated now that he's not with us. I can go on more caches in a day if I want to, and not have to worry about things being more than two miles, because the dog would suffer. Jack can go 100 miles without stopping, and now I have no excuse not to.

Geoff was up butt early this morning, and we spent a bunch of time working on Achievement number 3 for the bear trail for cub scouts. Why America is a nice place. He had to research a state (Rhode Island) color their flag, write a paragraph on why America is great ("Because we're better than Canada!" he says to me. Where does he get this? Surely from the Simpsons... not from me, right?) and we had to discuss what service to your country means, and not just the military kind of service. So we talked about volunteerism, the Hurricane Relief stuff, the fact the trash men come around and collect our barrels. And he had to tell me three things that he does which help our community.

All told, it was a fun thing to do this morning, and it got him off the topic of space aliens. Which is good. I'm so sick of space freaking aliens.

I have had other thoughts and things I've wanted to write about, but the whole Kinger fiasco has clouded my thoughts and feelings. Chief among them, and growing out of a discussion I had with Big Bad Bobby K on the phone this week is how I'm feeling about my parents moving.

His parents moved away from our home town a few years ago, and he shared a lot of his feelings from that moment, and it helped me a lot to talk to him and really put them into perspective.

They're leaving, and now, I've left for good. Even though I left when I was 17, I am now leaving for good. When home isn't there anymore... you've been left with no opportunity to go back and have it be "home." Now, it's just another place that is a part of your past.

If I want to go to NY for any reason, I no longer have a free place to crash. There are far too many of us to crash at Tree & R's place.

And aside from Tree and R, what reason would I have to go back there. My parents are leaving my childhood residence, and my hometown, and there is nothing there (aside from my sister) for me anymore.

Not that this is much of a giant shock. Really. I left there when I was 17 to go to college and didn't go back. I got married at 24. I had my own life, my home, my existence in another state. But it was always there for me to go back and visit.

There are some memorable things about the place my parents are leaving, the place where I grew up. I'm feeling a twinge of loss as they're getting ready to go. And I think I understand how my dad must be feeling. I've lived a lot of great places. He's lived in the same town for like 60 years. I can't quite imagine that kind of root system, that kind of familiarity, and that kind of harvest of thoughts, feelings and memories when picking up to leave and move on.

You'll notice lately in my journal, there is a great sense of loss going on. I don't like that. I want to go back to bitching about the jackasses in front of me on my commute. Can I please do that, Universe? Will you cut me a break and give me some berk from Indiana going 20 in a 45 zone tomorrow morning so I can have my head explode and get back to soem semblance of normal?


Friday, September 23, 2005

Time In a Bottle

When really sad, one should go out to eat and fly kites. We did exactly that on Wednesday. Doug, Jess and I went to eat on the river in Haverhill and came home to meet Geoff. We then took the kites and went over to Salisbury beach reservation and flew for the first time since our Outer Banks trip.

geoff kite

As we were flying kites, I realized how horribly badly I missed my dog. How he would love to be swimming there right then in the perfect sun and the perfect light and the perfect water. Suddenly, with the kites and the dogs and the sun, sand and time, I missed Aaron and wanted horribly desperately to talk with him and tell him how I felt about Kinger. I had no way to contact him, he hadn't called us yet with his phone and address, so there was nothing I could do but miss him and miss my dog.

We five who used to be six had a good time together, except for the dickwad on his cellphone 40 feet away from us swearing his ass off at whomever he was speaking to, which is a story that I'll save because I just don't have the energy to get into it and what I think about people on cellphones in public in general. That's a screed for its own entry.

We saw a wicked lovely sunset, our kites were well flown, and Jack had a little swim. It was a fabulous way to spend a late September evening.

sunset toothpick 2

Thursday morning I just didn't know what to do with Jack.

Jess left for school. Doug left for work. Geoff got on the bus, and I came back to the house to get my coffee and Jack was just sitting there. He hadn't eaten anything since sometime Tuesday. His dish sat there full and waiting. He sat by the door and just looked at me with those little brown eyes, and the end of his tail gently flicked back and forth.

I couldn't leave him here alone. And I just started crying my eyes out. He's never been in this house alone. Kinger has always been here with him. Even when Jack spent full days in his kennel (which was up until about this past spring) Kinger would always spend his day lounging on the floor right in front of the kennel door. When we started leaving Jack out during the day, he would lie on Doug's side of the bed, Kinger would occupy mine, and the two of them would just watch the squirrels and the world as the day passed without their humans.

They were partners in crime, they were pals. And now. What's he supposed to do? Who's ass is he supposed to lean against on the bed? Leaving him alone, in my mind, wasn't quite fair.

So I brought him to work and he spent the day with me. He got some huge love from M and D the new guy, and for the most part didn't bother anyone else or bark or do anything obtrusive and annoying. He was the perfect office friend. And I'll do it again when my heart feels like it can't go on.

I stopped with him at the pet store and we bought some goodies on the way home. As we were walking around the pet store, Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle" came on the in-store media and I walked around crying, with my boy on his leash beside me. I must have looked like an ass, but jeesh if that song didn't just rip my heart out and throw it against the squeeky toys in aisle two.

When I got here Thursday night there was a message from Aaron with his phone number and everything. So I got to call my buddy and tell him about my dog. We talked of the good Kinger memories and what to do with Jack, and how the rest of the brood is handling it, most notably Jessica. It felt good to talk to him, and he was really just the right voice I needed to hear.

Today, driving to work was incredibly hard. I almost turned around and came home when I was just about to the office. I'm glad I went in -- we had a birthday lunch and a bunch of food and good laughs and it was just wonderful. And now I'm ready for bed.

Thank you guys for your nice comments, and thank you to folks who sent me the Rainbow Bridge story. More than one of you felt it important to share it, and I appreciate it. It's one I've been familiar with for a long time, and I felt it deeply in 2001 when we put Missy down. I have thought about giving it to Jessica but I think it will send her into a crying jag for days and she's finally not crying.

She tried to wear his collar to school on Thursday and I wouldn't let her. Not because I doubt her love and adoration and want to take away from how she processes and grieves, but because middle school kids are the biggest dicks on earth, and all she needs is to have one stupid jackass go "hey stupidass, what's with that collar, you a dog now? You want me to walk your fat ass?"

She might punch someone or flip out. I told her she could carry it. But she couldn't wear it. I emailed the ass't principal and asked her to check on Jess during the day to make sure she wasn't wearing it, and to talk to her about the appropriate way to grieve publicly.

If anyone has advice about this I'd appreciate it. Jack still has not eaten. He's hoovered up stuff we've dropped on the floor, but his full dog dish sits untouched, same with his water dish.

I was telling Aaron that Jack seems confused because he never eats first. Kinger always eats first, and Jack waits until he's done and then steps in and eats. We've always allowed our dogs to graze... to eat when they want to. Sometimes the dish is filled daily once or twice, sometimes it is half eaten and then the rest of it is finished the next day... they never ate just because food is there, like some dogs. Put food in front of it and it gets inhaled. I told Aaron that Jack knows he's not the Alpha dog. He knows he isn't even the Beta dog... hell, he's the Gamma dog in the pack... and right now, he doesn't know when it is his turn to eat.

Should I buy him new dishes? Will that help? I moved the food, thinking that if it was in a new place it would make him feel special and new... but that didn't help. I'm a little worried. I know we all grieve, and he most certainly has and will. I just am not sure what to do around this.

When Missy was put down, Kinger walked around looking for her and would whimper. But he ate. Jack, he looks around... he smells things... but he's not touching the food.

Well. Our lives go on. Jess is at K's house sleeping over tonight. Doug's asleep in front of BBC comedy night, and Geoff is reading his Bear Handbook for cub scouts up on his bed. We had his first den meeting tonight and it was utter chaos. I thought my head would explode. But there were three dogs there to love and pet and adore, and that made me happy.

And on that note, I have a dog that wants me to love and pet and adore him.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Ten Songs I'm Digging at the moment...

Here's what I'm digging:

1. Fix You by Coldplay
"And the tears come streaming down your face when you lose something you can't replace." I'm driven to think of S & V and the loss of Gracie. Also my daughter's best friend K who had brain surgery this summer and her vision is NOT going to return. She only has 12% of her visual field and it isn't looking like she will return to public school this year. Her parents are devastated as is she, and the greater circle, the friends of K, the families -- we are all very sad. This song is short, hauntingly lovely, builds to a mad crescendo and ends with Chris Martin and a piano, very sadly.

2. God Says Nothing Back by The Wallflowers
Same reasons as above. Very heartbreaking. Jakob Dylan is a genius. Why they are playing County Fairs in California this summer is beyond me. They are just amazing. Amazing.

3. Sin Nombre by The Refreshments
A very sad song about a cowboy, bad decisions, and dark deep longing performed beautifully by Alt Country's finest band (in my opinion). I'm sad they broke up but am very glad that Roger Clyne continues on with his Arizona Peacemakers.

4. Wilted Rose by The Vanity Project
Steven Page's (Barenaked Ladies) side project, this song required some research for me to understand what he was getting at. It's very political and very Canadian. Two things I'm not. But I love Steve's voice and his symballant (sp? not sure) S at the end of certain words. Very sexy.

5. Landed by Ben Folds
Watching friends break up from the sidelines right now, and this song is very much in the forefront of my mind.

6. Pacing the Cage by Bruce Cockburn
"Sunset is an angel weeping, holding out a bloody sword." Cockburn is a lyrical genius, and the simple presentation of him with just the guitar is gorgeous. Also ties in to my "Tell me why" by Neil Young feelings from yesterday's entry. When having existential crisis, do not listen to this song.

7. Fade to Black by Metallica
Early Metallica beats the holy living crap out of new lack-of-guitar Metallica. Any day. And this is their finest. When I want to drive excessively fast, I listen to this.

8. Beetle (Big as Can) by Staind
Yes, a goof cover recorded live on the Howard Stern show a few weeks ago. Staind was live in the studio and put ten minutes in on an interpretation of Beetlejuice's theme song. I was scanning on the dial and heard Howard introduce them coming into the studio. I stayed to listen because I really enjoy Staind, and knew this could be really funny. Beetle's version is a happy go lucky ditty. Staind took it and made it sad, really painful. Is Beetle really big as can and knows he's the best? I hear this song and it is stuck in my head for hours. Aaron Lewis has the sweetest voice, and the band does an amazing job with this stupid song.

9. Wordplay by Jason Mraz
White boy pop-rappers, lookout. While Ed from BNL is still the master of the funky fast fresh rhyme by a white boy with a guitar, Jason is chewing on his heels. I'd like to see a throw down rhymin' challenge with the two of them. As with the last song, hearing this for a second gets it stuck in my head. And I can sing along with it, even when he goes fast. I can't do that with Ed on "One Week," especially the clubs you know the kind with tiny nubs just so my irons aren't always flyin' off the backswing.

10. What About Everything? by CarbonLeaf
Bunch of guys from Virginia sound like they are from Ireland, and they have gorgeous harmonies and clever lyrics. Love this song -- and highly recommend them to all.

How We Process

I'm sitting at the computer. Doug is driving away with the dog.

We talked to our vet about arrangements and what to do for him, for us, for the kids -- whether or not Tufts Veterinary School would want him, and whether we should just send him on a group cremation, group burial, or private cremation. We're spending the little extra money on private, and we'll bring him home and find an appropriate place for him. As a family.

The window replacement guys are upstairs over my head and my head is exploding right now from the noise of life going on, life continuing, other people oblivious to the fact I want my brain wrapped in mothballs and muffled and protected from sound and reality. I really cannot fathom that this has happened, and that he's gone for real.

I've gone over this a million times in my head. Would things have been different if I were home. I go and do the one totally selfless act I can do, and what -- this I how I'm repaid. Crap.

In my heart of hearts, I always knew there was clear potential for something like this happening -- I just never expected it would be Kinger. I always believed Jack would meet his doom at the chrome bumper and grill, but not Kinger.

Doug and I sat on the couch last night rationalizing. The "He's in a better place" kind of thing, but that sucks because this place was damn fine and we were pretty good to him.

But we could have been better, if you know what I mean.

I kept thinking about how yesterday afternoon I was too busy for him and for Jack. I am never too busy for them. Why yesterday? Just to compound my grief and make me sadder. Every day -- I come home, get loved and give love. I sit on the couch and they both jump up to glom on me and worship me.

And I didn't do that at all yesterday.

I keep going over the "It could have been worse, it could have been Jessica running out to stop him." I always try and play the "It could have been worse" game but really, that's the only thing I can come up with.

The thing that kind of upsets me is Geoff thinks that it's great that we still have Jack. He has expressed little or no concern or upset for Kinger's absence. I'm not sure if that's normal, or if that's just the way he is.

We all process things differently.

We were sitting on the couch last night and Geoff was lavishing Jack with love and affection and he turns to me and says "Mom, why are you so sad, we have Jackie! Jack is a great dog!" And I asked him if he even realized the finality of Kinger's death... and he said "well, yeah. But we have Jack and that's great!"

How he processes things is a lot different than the rest of us, I think. I warned the school that this happened, because we never know with Geoff when it just might... dawn on Marble Head.

I don't know.

Our lives go on. Right? I just talked to MB at the office, and we had a short, good laugh about a few things. Her dog survived getting hit by a car, so she knows how we feel in a way, moreso than a lot of other people.

And yes, I do have things in perspective before I get a snarky comment about the Hurricane Devastation or Some Kid Has Cancer Your Life Could Be Worse kind of thing. I know there are worse things, which is why I can sit here and think out through my fingertips. I know we were responsible for Kinger, and he was off the leash and shit happens when Dogs and Cars meet. I know all these things. I can still have my grief. So withold your comments to that point if you would.

As Jackson Browne sang "Don't confront me with my failures. I have not forgotten them."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

This is no party.

This is no party.

I know for a fact that unless I write this now I'm not going to get to fall asleep.

Jessie took the dogs out at her usual time, right after the Simpsons. They went to the corner of our driveway to piss on the fence, as is their wont. Kinger at least... Jack still pees like a girl and doesn't coat the corner of the fence with his scent. He just doesn't get it. Which is good because he doesn't pee on anything that he's not supposed to just because he thinks he is supposed to, like most other male canines. Jessie said there was a dog across the road, and both dogs took off across the street to chase it.

Only Jack is a lot faster. Kinger wasn't fast enough.

He was hit and died shortly thereafter. Doug said he didn't get up again and struggle and fight... He just laid there breathing for a little while and then died. It was quick, and we didn't have any options. No rushing to the medical center in Andover, no calling the Vet in a complete panic. Just. Gone.

I had an appointment to give blood this evening and I almost didn't go.

I couldn't find my license, it was getting late, I hadn't had supper, and I felt extrordinarily rushed because when I got home this afternoon it was all about the errands. And damn if this isn't just a humongous pain in the ass to go do when I have work that I brought home and the window replacement guys are coming in the morning and Geoff has homework, and ...

I went, and while I was squeezing the squeezy bar and staring at the ceiling in the library in my little town, in my mind was thinking about what to write here. As I've had literally nothing to write about of any interest for the past several months.

I was thinking about how after 9/11 Carrie gave blood for the first time and I'll always think of her when I do this act. I was thinking about how restrictive the rules for donating are, and how some people are really angry about the selectiveness. I was thinking about how I needed to do this more often, but never have the time to do it. I just never do. Family, life, errands, things -- all of these weigh on me. Taking an hour out of a day to go get stuck by a needle when I could be home with feet under a dog watching a Simpsons rerun -- heck. How do you make that living sacrifice?

I got home at about 8:15, and saw that Doug had Kinger up on the tail of the truck bed and he and Jessie were waiting there for me. She is devastated, inconsolable, and I can't say as I blame her. I am as well -- but she watched it happen and that is just the part that breaks me into a million pieces. My poor little girl, watching the dog she so dearly loved, get killed.

So yeah. The dog who jumped off of a 15 foot high cliff and survived is gone. This was a dog with horrible arthritis and a torn ACL who could barely climb up the stairs sometimes, who loved to hike and hike and hike. When I would even move the geocaching bag that we keep our gear in, he thought it was time to go, and he'd get all excited and beside himself. This dog couldn't hear the words "go for a ride" without exploding with joy. God forbid you ever forgot to give him his good boy cookie after he went out to pee. He'd let you know it. He spoke to us like Chewbacca, and he'd stand there and just sing out "hey, stupid. Where's my friggin' cookie?" It always made me smile to have a dog who talked to me.

And I don't know what else to write or say. I won't be at work tomorrow. I'm calling the girl out of school and if the boy decides he wants to stay home, then I'll keep him home. We have to call the vet -- we don't have a place to properly bury him in our yard so we'll have her take care of the arrangements necessary, whatever those may be.

Now, I'm going to try and go to sleep. Let's see if I can.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Grandma's got a brand new bag

We went down to see the new residence which my parents will call home hithertoforth. It's a really nice little place, very shady, neighbors seem friendly, and I have to say that this is going to be a really good move for them. My dad is reserved and not too excited, compared to the giddy schoolgirl my mom is as she ran through the place showing it off to us and going over her plans.

34 years in the same shit-hole ghetto projects and she's got the pent up energy and excitement that goes into a new homeowner. We're moving this, those are getting changed, this is where this will go, I found a computer desk that fits PERFECTLY in that little corner alcove...

It was a fun visit. My uncle K and auntie B were there. They've been helping my parents with all kinds of things, bringing them around, hosting them before the purchase was solidified. We don't get to see them often, and this was a really funny visit. My uncle K cracks me up, and he's always got a good one to drop out on the table and make everyone laugh.

Geoff said to us in the truck "I never knew that uncle before, and he's such a nice guy! I really like him!"

Again I had all those conflicting feelings about how I never see our family a lot, or enough, and had a touch of sadness balanced with the knowledge that we just aren't close and that is just the way it is. I have a feeling now that Grandma and Grampa are living up this way that there may be more frequent sightings of these folks. We shall see.

And, on the way home it took us an hour and 20 minutes to get back. Not bad at all. It was easy as pie to get there too, which is very nice. I want to investigate the area more. My mom is the kind of person where I asked her what the downtown of her new hamlet was like and she said "I have no idea." I was shocked -- that would be one of the first places I went to visit if I was buying a house somewhere.

We think differently, I guess.

Today's agenda is a little different than most weekend days. Geoff's cub scout den is planting a tree. One of the boys in the den lost his mom to cancer two years ago. The den and the dad decided that since "cub scouts give goodwill" they would do this together.

I am on the outside of this little group (surprise) because they all knew one another, all the moms and dads, from pre-school. Geoff didn't go to pre-school and Kindergarten in this town, so the boys in the den have a tighter bond, and so do the parents. We're going beacuse it is the first thing the den is doing this year, and because Geoff gets Bear Credits for doing something like this. I'm down with that. And just because I didn't know her doesn't mean I don't care about her son and how he's growing and shaping. He is in Geoff's class, and I think it is important that they have this kind of moment in their lifeline together.

Hopefully it won't rain.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Now it's time to prove that you've come back here to rebuild...

"...Rebuild. Rebuild. Rebuild." Thank you Steven Page.

I was listening to some talk radio show this morning and they were going off on Bush's rebuilding plans for New Orleans and the entire Northern Gulf region. So the man says "let's rebuild her and make her better" and people are pissed because it will cost money and its stupid because it's only going to happen again and blah blah blah.

Well, of course it is. But honestly, what did anyone on this planet expect the man to get up and say?

If he had gotten up there and stood in front of the spooky building and statue with all the still, steady, quiet lighting and said "Ya know what, let's not rebuild it. Let's just leave it and relocate everyone to away, and make a memorial to mother nature, God, and the awesome power of poor planning," people would be screaming that he's a racist and if they were mostly white people houses and whatnot that were damaged he'd be all about rebuilding and blah blah blah.

He may be a monkey-faced asshole, but the guy just can't catch a break. Jeesh. I so wouldn't want his job.

Everyone's got an opinion as to why things should be done one way and not another. When things are done to the tune that someone doesn't like there is all this bitching and grousing and complaining the likes that no one should have to put up with. And dimes to freaking donuts their plan, the one that isn't being implemented, would just piss off an equal amount of people who would ride the B&M railroad right to its terminus.

Oh shut the hell up everybody.

Rebuild the area, but make it better please. Put some damn money into the friggin' levee system. Stop building ANY houses or business be they black/white/hispanic/whatever under the damn freaking sea level and just DO something for fuck's sake. And do it now.

Oh man. I'm so pissed off about this posturing, griping, fingerpointing and whinging. I'm done with it.

Today we're going to see my parents' new place. I think we're leaving here at 2, driving the 2 hours down there (dude, I thought Massachusetts was a small state!) and I think we're going to have an early dinner with them.

Right now I'm all about getting some dishes and laundry done. We have a lot of sloth that we need to take care of, and the more I think about the mess my home is in the more I'm simply paralyzed and do absolutely nothing.

I'm not sure I'd be an effective leader in cleaning up the wreckage of some major metropolitan city if I can't clean my own house.

Haven't heard from Aaron yet in his cross-country trip. I called his mom yesterday and he's at his brother's house in Washington State or Oregon or wherever that is. I think this weekend he drives out three hours or whatever it takes to get to his new job and home. I wish him well. I would love to hear from him but I know he'll call us in his due time.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Life That Ate My Blog

This is yet another week that seems to have exploded on top of my head. I went to start an entry on Tuesday but someone needed to do some stupid homework research paper. So I let her... rather than have her get a big fat F on her homework or something. And last night I worked until very late, came home, ate and watched two hours of Mythbusters.

This morning, I was all about the update. I didn't have to rush to get ready for work because I had a 9am dentist appointment. But after putting Geoff on the bus I realized that holy crap -- there wasn't a clean dish in the entire house! So I did dishes, then I showered, then I paid some bills and was five minutes late to the dentist.

I tried to write a little while eating my lunch, to email an entry to myself to refine here... but that didn't happen. I ate my lunch over a two hour period, ending up with half of it uneaten and back in the fridge to save for another day.

Mornings are all about getting the boy ready and doing homework with him. We're back into our routine from last year. So far his school year is going okay, and for that I am thankful.

Top all of that life stuff off with the fact that I just have nothing truly important to say and we find ourselves in a quandary of sorts. If there's nothing really to say, why sit down and like ... blab?

Well there is stuff going on. We met with the financial panther (which, in addition to being a really funny Simpsons reference is also some sort of cool looking band ) and are starting to figure out how to put money away for the kids for college. He did some math for us and found we could and should be saving close to 2000 a month. He asked where the 2000 a month was going and both Doug and I couldn't figure out what the deal was.

We're not good with money.

I know I'm spending a lot of it on Starbucks. And lunch out. So I plan on cutting back on both of those. And then we can put some money away. And she can go to something other than a community college and we won't have to borrow a bazillion dollars to send her, just a gazillion.

My parents are beginning their big move this weekend. They'll be coming up with boxes of stuff and I think that towards the beginning weeks of October they'll be using a moving company to get the rest of the stuff up to their new place. It occurred to me today that they won't be using their old phone number anymore. I was very sad when the area code changed from 516 to 631. But this is more of a bummer. I love their phone number and I'll be sad to lose it.

How petty of me.

Because I'm not full of anything supremely interesting, I will leave you with this.

I love a good sandwich.

I like bread that doesn't have too hard a crust on it. Crust is okay so long as it doesn't gouge my gums and the roof of my mouth. Seeds in the bread are okay too. French bread or french rolls bore the hell out of me. I enjoy a hearty, soulful bread with lots of grainy goodness.

I enjoy cheese with tomato against it, especially when it's been wrapped nicely and sitting together for a little while. I enjoy sprouts on my sandwich, and even cucumber if it is sliced very thin. Too much stuff on a sandwich is messy, and should be avoided because let's face it, then it becomes a salad with some sliced meat on top because it flops out of the bread and back upon the plate. You may as well just eat a salad.

Right. Anyone agree or disagree? Use the comments to discuss. Thanks for reading and stopping by.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Where did my weekend go???

Oh my God, what just happened? The weekend? Where is it? Where did it go? It was right here ... and. Heavens. I do believe I squandered it.

This weekend, we stayed home, and we did next to nothing. I mean the adventure outdoors fun stuff kinds of things didn't get done. Some dishes did. And some laundry. Oh and Doug mowed the lawn. Aside from that... I think I slept, read, and watched football.

And this is a crying shame, because this weekend was one of the most gorgeous ever. But we didn't enjoy it with gusto. Sigh. What a waste.

Now I have to go back to work and feel cheated. Where was my fun? It sat there waiting for me. Why didn't I embrace it and grab it and run with it? I am a durn fool. That's why.

Enough crying. I got what I paid for. It's my own fault.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

"Hello Allis!" - Camping at Allis State Park Vermont

I did embrace the updating there pretty good for a while. This week just totally got away from me, and I found myself very not wanting to type and write. So instead I built sets.

One is from this past weekend's camping trip, which I shall write about here. The other I did for Aaron. He doesn't have Flickr, nor does he have internet access at the moment. I found his old pictures from his Antarctica and New Zealand trip and posted them for him so he can show people when he gets to Washington State. More on that later.

coffee and fireSo yeah. Camping. Saturday morning Doug, Geoff and I went to Vermont with the dogs and went to Allis State Park in Randolph, just south of Norwich and Barre. It is a really cool place, very beautiful campsites all spread out apart from each other. I'll defiantly go back there.

We set up our camp, did some hiking, and settled down for the night. We were looking at the stars and admiring the fact that even with the lantern and the fire we could see the milky way. I looked down at my book for a minute, looked back up at the stars and didn't see them at all.

"Hmmm. That's funny, the stars vanished. I wonder wh-"

splat, drip, deluge. Crap! The sky opened up. We scrambled to cover stuff, threw the dogs in the tent, grabbed our books and jumped in ourselves. It was pouring like I've never seen before. We were saturated in less than a minute and now we had two sopping wet dogs in the tent with us too; two dogs who didn't get a chance to go for their night time walkies. Great.

I had to use my shirt to wipe up the tent floor where the flap was open and we were jumping in. So my shirt took one for the team. Luckily my fleece was on my sleeping bag or I would have been topless until further notice (with Geoff in the tent, that is no fun. Otherwise... you know).

I sat awake until it let up, ran out to the truck for a dry shirt, and took the dogs for their walk. I then had visions of water leaking into the tent all night based on our Mt. Blue camping experience and cursed my husband because he said "eh, it's not gonna rain this weekend."

I cursed the campground because there weren't any good trees for us to tarp onto in order to cover the tent to prevent something like this (that was my plan) from happening. I cursed myself for not being able to go to sleep. I was exhausted from our hike earlier in the day but constantly fearful that in the night, without my diligent eye, the tent would leak like a sieve, we'd be soaked and wake up swimming. Everyone else slept great.

Sunday morning dawned grey and gloomy and I thought for sure it was going to rain like a bastard on us all weekend. We went up to Barre to go shopping and geocache, drove on some insane dirt roads and backed out of a few because we didn't want a repeat performance of the truck getting stuck the way we did in Maine the weekend before.

That's just embarrassing.

By about 3 in the afternoon the gloom cleared and we had nothing but gorgeous blue Vermont skies with giant marshmallow clouds and soft wispy breezes to keep us company. It was perfect. That night was also perfect, and we had a raging campfire under the same stars, only this time they didn't vanish behind the deluge.

Monday was awesome. More unbelievably perfect weather. We took our time striking camp, because the park was closing. It wasn't like anyone needed to be in our space that night so the ranger totally relaxed on us and we left an hour after check out. We geocached around Randolph, and up into Roxbury, and then went to Texas Falls in the Green Mountain National Forest. The waterfall wasn't going very fast, and unlike the waterfall of our Maine Weekend, there were signs everywhere forbidding anyone to step in and take a dip. No swimming, no walking here, no touching that, no this, no that. The difference between National Forest and state park is incredibly noticeable.

We had a really nice picnic, and got home around 8pm. It was a lot of fun, and I'm incredibly sorry to see summer dwindling to a close around me. I need like two more nice sunny cool weekends with a totally worry-proof tent, and then I'll feel that 2005 summer can gracefully exit stage left.

Aaron came and stayed with us on Wednesday. It seems that for right now he and Michelle are going to be splitting up. Which sucks. For them indeed, but totally for me because they are all my fun in the whole world.

He's taken a job in Washington State with the Forest Service (the same people who say no to swimming in the waterfall in Vermont). She'll stay in Maine.

I can't really address the details of what is going on with them here, but I'm really sad for them. I've always loved them individually and as a couple. They've been the most steadfast friends we've had for over a decade. I'm hoping to not lose contact with either of them, and wonder what the future holds for them.

In the meantime, if you pray, please pray for his safety and happiness as he goes West to Washington to the National Forests to patrol by motorcycle and ATV. And pray for Michelle to find solace and happiness in her life. That's about it.

It was really nice having Aaron visit, and say bye to the kids, moreso than to say bye to us... He went to the bus stop with me when I took Geoff up. He could have spent time packing his bike, but he knows. He knows that he is Geoff's hero and that Geoff isn't going to see him for quite a long time.

So yeah. Sad here. Geoff is taking it well, but I know in mid-October he's going to say "I want to go see Aaron, and go to his house and go hiking and play with his dog..." and honey, that just ain't happening again. Aaron's not there. Michelle is, but I don't know if she'll want a house full of us without Aaron there. It's kind of weird.

This weekend is football weekend. And in years past every time I've written about how much I love football and cannot WAIT for the season to start, something horrible happens. September 10, 2001 I wrote a big big thing about how football is the single greatest thing in the universe and then we all know what happened September 11th. So I won't jinx us. Football is nice. I'm happy it's back. Let's leave it at that.

As for the whole Katrina mess, I have a lot of thoughts and opinions and feelings, but really feel it's all been said and shared elsewhere. I just am tired of the talk and the pundits and the blame and the fingerpointing. I'm weary... and just wish for all of this to someday be behind us all as a nation. It sucks.

I will say that there is nothing cooler than a surprise gift in the mail. I got home from work one day this week and ETS had mailed me a CD of the Young Dubliners. I haven't had time to pop it into the CD player in my car (it is in the trunk and it's a bitch to take out and yadda yadda so I want to listen to it in the truck), but I'm longing to do that. It gave me such a laugh to get real mail. How sad is that.

Alright -- there's your update. Thrilling. Sorry it took so long for those of you who were worried. I'm just a bit befuddled and occupied. Embracing the updating will be something that happens more frequently, I'm sure. In the meantime, go enjoy pictures.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

"What the Hell?!"

I was watching Fox News while folding laundry and getting ready for our camping trip. Night was descending on New Orleans and the reporters in the field are increasingly frustrated. Geraldo Rivera is stationed at the convention center, and I am witnessing a man as he is quickly becoming unglued.

He had tears running down his cheeks as he was holding someone's 10 month old baby, a baby who probably hasn't had a diaper change in 2 days. He was freaking out about how people there are being ignored and were dying. Tourists and guests at the W hotel were put into the front of the line to get out of town days ago, and the residents of New Orleans are all still there. Stranded. Food and water by the truckload has been coming in to the Superdome and other places but the Convention Center is under lockdown for some reason. No one can even walk away to go somewhere else, to strike out on his or her own... and they are dying there and on the highway above.

Geraldo was screaming at the camera, screaming to anyone who will listen, "Why won't they let the people leave, just walk away from here. Go and find food and water. Why are they being held? Why won't they let those who can go. WHAT THE HELL!!!!"

As the sun is failing, so is his composure. Shutting down, turning dark, and coming undone.

They interviewed Shepard Smith, who is standing on the bridge above the Convention Center, and he said the same thing. He responded to Geraldo's "What the hell!" with the fact that a checkpoint is on the end of the bridge preventing anyone from leaving. Convoy trucks were driving behind him, passing the hundreds of people camped out on the bridge. Not stopping. Most likely filled with supplies, but not for these people on the overpass or underneath at the Convention Tomb.

I had to walk away. I had a bad feeling that it was going to be a very bad night in New Orleans.

Geoff asked me yesterday "If they rebuild New Orleans, will they name it New New Orleans?" And I thought of New New York on Futurama and had to laugh in spite of my feelings. Thank you Matt Groening. I have no idea what they'll name it or even if they should rebuild it. Not that it isn't worth it, but can we afford to go through this again?

I wrote the rest of this entry before I wrote the above. It has a more jolly sense to it, and it is about camping and having fun and being stinky willingly. Upon reflection, I was going to delete it, but it just shows that I'm going through some mood swings and really should not be watching Geraldo Rivera freaking out.

Indeed, Geraldo. What the hell indeed? God save us all.

Allis, Here We Come!

We cannot check in until 2pm. Google Maps tells me this trip should take just under four hours. We gassed up last night, before the prices rise yet again this morning. I think we're going to go and buy a French press for coffee... if we can find one. The coffee singles by Maxwell House just do not provide enough life-lifting elixir for my liking. I'd also like an air mattress and a new tarp. So a visit to Sprawl-Mart or Target may bring me all my camping desires.

I'm not high maintenance or anything.

A lot of my gal readers may be totally skeeved out, but I can honestly forego showering for a couple of days. Ewww! I know! How French of me. Seriously though, I am in touch with my inner caveman. I can shower Saturday morning and be perfectly happy not showering until I get home on Monday night. I will get good and sweaty and hikey and muddy and stinky on Saturday, maybe get a swim in some sort of aneurysm inducing freezing pond or waterfall, and be perfectly happy sitting around in my own filth that night. And I'll do it again on Sunday... and then Monday, perhaps a shower before the drive out just so my truck doesn't smell too assy by Tuesday morning.

Yeah, baby. That's what camping is all about. Releasing all those inhibitions. My hands and face will be clean. I'll have a hat on to hide my scary Medusa locks. Cleanliness in other regions of the body won't be that important to me. I'm free from the Health and Beauty slavery for a few days... not that I'm much of a slave to it in the first place.

We're going farther up into the north of Vermont than I would have liked. It was one of the very few within a four hour drive that had space. We could have gone somewhere with "primitive" facilities out in Western MA but Doug didn't book it on Thursday night when we were shopping for places -- thank Gord. I may be low maintenance but I prefer not to use an outhouse shitter this late in the season, if you know what I mean.

I was incredibly happy to score this spot after trying all the southern Vermont tier campgrounds. The staff member I spoke with was incredibly friendly and nice, we joked around about how Massachusetts people drive right over the border and just plop down. He said they were remote and he always has space. I told him I didn't want to camp a mile away from I-89, that remote sounded damn good to me... so he said "Alright! Rock on."

Any state employee who says Rock On is a friend of mine.

Jessica is not coming with us. She was invited to go RV camping (aka FAKE camping) with her friend Courtney and family. For someone who hates going camping so damn much she sure was eager to go with someone with an RV. I'm going to miss her horribly because even though she is reluctant she can be helpful. She sleeps in the truck with the dogs, which means this time the dogs will have to be in the tent with us... and that could prove a tad over cozy. Maybe I'll pass on that air mattress after all... hmmm.

We dropped her off and Geoff was PISSED that she was going RV camping. He made me miserable for three hours in the afternoon yesterday bitching and moaning about sleeping on the ground and in a tent and not having an RV and they have a cool RV and why can't we have an RV.

I was ready to put him under the RV. Just drive back over there and say "Hey, Lyle... back up over this lump wouldya?"

I don't want an RV. I don't see the point in getting back to nature in a building that I drive to nature in. I don't see the point in getting 3 miles to the gallon. It's bad enough I get 17 in the truck. I think getting away from the four wall rectangle or square concept is important once in a while. I'm not saying I'd like to live in a geodesic dome or anything, but I'm all set in breaking free from the modern constraints for a while.

Like a week, but with a shower in the middle. Like I said, I'm not high maintenance.

So. This is it. We're off. Allis, here we come. Hopefully I'll have some stupendous SUNNY pictures for you and none of this freezing cold rain crap that I've had to put up with lately. Whatever you're doing this weekend, be happy and safe. Or else my sweaty armpit is gonna gitcha on Monday night!

Friday, September 02, 2005

I hate you Walt Freakin' Whitman...

I knew someday I would be. Someone picked up on one of our pictures and featured it in their journal. RadioOpenSource used (with permission) our Doug doing Homer Simpson imitation for their latest piece on Walt Whitman. Click here to read, and to listen if you want to. Now, our ongoing passion regarding all things Simpson and the fact I grew up in Huntington has FINALLY paid off! Wooo!

Today I am working from home. I have spreadsheets, floorplans and tons of stuff to do. Finalizing yet another chain for installation. I like having this opportunity to be at home... especially when unleaded gas is $3.29 a gallon. I can't find it any cheaper in our direct neighborhood. And it seems to be totally arbitrary. One station is $3.29 and across the street is $3.50. Who decides? Why the huge difference? Does a back rub and foot massage come with the $3.50 because I tell you what -- it should!

I'm disgusted with what is happening in New Orleans... I'm so sad for the people there and the painfully slow response FEMA and other agencies are exhibiting. I was listening to the mayor of NO on the radio this morning blaming everyone but his own administration for the chaos. No blaming the cops who themselves are looting, no blaming of anyone in his administration for not providing transport out of town for those lacking. The president's response is uninspiring. Politicians continue their vacation instead of running back to the capitol where they belong to work on things...

This is serious down there people! The fact that families on high ground are taking in people because there is nowhere else for them to be shows me that you can indeed rely on the kindness of strangers, but it seems to me like the folks who are supposed to spring to action are standing there numb. "Hurmmn. Will ya look at that. Jeezh, that's a mess." Um, yeah...

We're going camping again. We're leaving tomorrow. I need to get to work again, having worked a bit this morning and now am waiting for the batteries on the laptop to recharge. I made reservations for us at Allis State Park in Vermont... Hopefully we'll stay dry this weekend.

Oh -- and I love Amy's quote on the sidebar there. It somehow makes me think of Stewie Griffin. "Damn you Starbucks!" Heh.