Wednesday, August 31, 2005

When the Levee Breaks...

One of the few Led Zeppelin songs that I am still able to listen to after years of aural saturation over the airwaves is one that is running through my head. It is a bluesy, gutsy standard with a fuzz-driven angry guitar riff. The "mean ole levee" taught an entire city, region, and most of the country to weep and moan. And I can hear Jimmy Page's haunting finger work ringing through the back of my mind.

We had no idea while we were camping that the hurricane even hit the gulf coast. We figured it would, and would be a category two at best. We had no clue that it trucked up its force and blew into the monster it became. While driving home on Monday, we listened to CDs because radio through Maine is usually the suck.

We were in the dark.

Monday night it seemed as if everything was a mess in Mississippi but New Orleans was spared. We talked about how when someone is given the evacuation order, one obeys it... and the concept of "riding out" the storm when you live in a place that is feet below sea level is just wrong.

New Orleans was fine. Her residents were fine. Then the levee gave way, and another, and now. We watch what life below sea level can really be all about. It didn't matter that the hurricane hit harder a little bit to the east. New Orleans is a mess.

Folks didn't leave because no one takes the media seriously anymore when EVERY little thing is an "Alert!" Ooh! Fox News ALERT! (insert news swishy noise and big red graphic) Natalee Holloway still missing! Alert! CNN big scary red graphic, it's going to snow! AAAAAH.

And then, no snow falls. At all. Or the hurricane doesn't hit you. At all. I've joked here over the last few years about Category Four Kill Storms and the media coverage leading to complete and total devastation... in the grocery store aisles.

For as ignorant and stubborn as people can be sometimes, I blame the media for fueling complacency by making news Extra! Dramatic! And! Life! Destroying! At! Every! Turn!

Around here, they are constantly giving us "news" stories about things that could have been. Here is a bridge. It fell in the middle of the night. But millions could have been KILLED if it happened a few hours later. LUCKILY No One Was Hurt. But it Could Have Been Worse!

I think the residents of New Orleans who stayed behind and ignored evacuation orders were probably residents of the projects with no vehicles. It is hard to evacuate when you have no transportation. Initially I was angry that someone would stay behind, but then I realized that a lot of people maybe had no choice, and weren't given an option. Or, they went where they were told to go -- The Superdome. And they're there today as the waters rise around that structure as well, and the toilets fill, and the trash stinks, and there is no potable water and no relief from the heat.

I think it was on the O'Reilly Factor (forgive me for watching) where some man was on last night talking about how the levees were constructed to withstand a Category 3 hurricane.

Bill O'Reilly said "Wait a minute. You said to withstand a Category 3??? You know there are two categories above that ... why not build a levee to withstand a category 20 hurricane? Why stop at 3?"

The man said "Yeah. I wish we had invested the money then..."

Eventually, you pay for it. And we're seeing that now.

My heart is breaking for babies and small children who are going to die from diseased water and germs floating in the air. My heart breaks for the elderly. But I'm also angered that people are just sitting there.

Doug and I talked about it, and if I were there, I honestly believe I'd start walking to Jackson Mississippi, or Houston. Or Atlanta. I'd leave. I don't think I'd sit there and just wait for someone to come get me and take me somewhere. Unless I had the physical incapabilities of old age, handicap, or injury.

If all I had was lost anyway. I would just walk away.

I have never been to New Orleans. I've not really desired a visit there... there are lots of other places I'd rather pitch my tent and spend my touristy dollars. At this point, I personally think it is foolish to rebuild there, but the port is where 1/3 of all imported items from South America enter this country, and it is a vital location to our country's commerce and survival.

There's nothing else to say other than I wish them well in whatever plan comes next, that I send my financial support, and that I hope good and wise decisions are made. Like building levees to withstand a category 90 hurricane.

In the meantime, I'm off to work. My commute is killing my wallet. We filled the truck up with gas. One station was charging $3.29 for unleaded. It is totally arbitrary on the gas station's part... One station is $2.99 and another is three fiddy. There is no standard, there is supply, demand, and taking advantage. I may ask to telecommute a couple days a week until a lot of this blows over. Public transport is not an option from where I live to where I work. I figured out it would take me 90 minutes or more to go 27 miles... So hopefully my company can work with me a little bit over here. We shall see.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Big Butt Joey Revival Tour

The truck is packed. We're driving up the highway. Doug is scanning the radio dials for tunes and comes across a BonJovi song.

I sometimes have a hard time hearing people. I'm known to mishear stuff all the time. This is a very well established fact. Things are sometimes hard to hear, especially in the truck, with the noise, the road, the stereo, the everything. I could have sworn I heard Doug say:

"There must be some Big Butt Joey Revival going on or something, maybe he's going on tour... they're playing a lot of him on the radio lately."

And I'm thinking "Who the hell is Big Butt Joey?"

He said "Big BonJovi revival going on..." I started to laugh. And I could not stop laughing. I had to explain to Doug and Jessica what it was I thought I heard. We decided there and then that Big Butt Joey would not be forgotten. He would have his revival. And this entry is dedicated to him. Nothing but love, Big Butt Joey. Nothing but love.

We should have left Friday night. We would have had more dry time. This weekend was fun, but it was just plain rainy and drizzly. Meh!

We dragged our feet on Saturday, got up there around 3pm... set up camp and got all organized. We were waiting for Aaron to come, and decided to go to the lake to look around. When we came back, Aaron was there, tent all set up, life was good. We built a fire, made a dinner, kicked it into hanging out gear. A crashed early and went to bed. Doug and I enjoyed looking up at the small opening above our heads at the stars. We should have gone to the lake to see the sky. That was the last open sky we would see for over 24 hours.

geoff on waterSaturday morning dawned very grey and humid. Not hot, but moist... gross kind of. I took Geoff down to the lake for a swim, and it was unbelievably cold in the water. That doesn't stop him. I went out to my waist (well, the middle of my body because let's be honest kids, I don't HAVE a waist in the traditional sense...) and I stood there for a long time shivering. I just couldn't commit to the dunk. I tried. Really hard. There was no real big drop off -- the swimming area goes out quite a ways and doesn't get deeper than 5 feet.

Eventually Geoff ended up splashing me while showing me his mad swimming skills, so I dunked and felt my heart explode and my brain shoot out of my eyesockets. Damn. It was frickin' freezin' in there people.

But before I knew it, I was acclimated and comfortable and had a blast swimming with Geoff. We were there around an hour. And then I figured we'd best go find out what the men had planned. We discussed, and decided, and the men pitched the tarp to keep the table and stuff left behind dry. Because it totally looked like rain.

We went Geocaching up on Center Hill in the park, and while we were there it started raining. The air could no longer hold all that moisture. We ate cookies in the car and drove to the next cache, hoping that the rain would let up. On the GPS, there was this road... it went straight to where we wanted to go. So Doug went to take it.

The road was paved for about 10 feet, then turned into a dirt road, and Doug was going about 35 when he SLAMMED on the brakes, scaring the shit out of me and the kids because we couldn't see why...

The road ended, and dropped off about three to four feet down. Then the road looked like a hiking trail... not a road. Holy shite. We just avoided major damage and possible airbag deployment. We just avoided becoming the General Lee, with Doug and Aaron playing Bo and Luke. We so would have been airborne completely. But.

We were stuck. Freakin' horribly stuck.

And it was pouring out. Aaron and Doug tried to push the truck while I rocked her, but it wasn't going anywhere. We debated going forward but at the angle where the road dropped, we'd probably bust our transmission as the truck bottomed out. Not cool.

Aaron got a neighbor two doors up from the end, and he pulled us out. He said it's a real road, and we could have driven it, but thought it would be better to pull us out with the rain and all. Kudos to him. And he had Bush stickers on his car, so one can honestly say that not all Republicans suck ass.

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- I love our truck. But she isn't All Wheel or even 4x4. We need a different vehicle for our crazy off-road lifestyle.

We tried to give the man cookies -- but he let us keep them. Good for us. We were free -- and soaking wet. We went to the waterfall.

Smalls Falls is located up Rte 4 from where we were camping. There are two caches there, and a really nice rest area to park the vehicle in. We COULD have driven to the road up above the falls, and did do that for a few minutes, but then decided getting stuck out there where there were no kind neighborly types... that would super suck.

We parked in the rest area, climbed up the trail to the top of the falls. Aaron went in first and Geoff followed. I figured I'd go with and keep an eye on Geoff while Aaron did some things that I didn't think Geoff should be doing.

If I thought the lake water was cold, I was totally wrong. This water -- this was cold. Unbelievably. My feet were instantly numb, my legs, knees and thighs again -- totally blue and numb. It took me forever to commit to the dunk, but eventually I did, and my eyeballs exploded and my lungs imploded. Damn, it was cold.

But once I was acclimated...

We had a great time there. Doug scored the cache, and we had a great lunch.

At this point, it was pouring out. We headed back to the camp to relocate the tarp so we could plant ass in front of the fire, and I discovered that our tent was seeping liquid. It has held against the rain spectacularly in the past -- why it decided to seep on Sunday was beyond me. The floor was wet, and it was wet where the door was and the window. It was the suck.

I ran all through the tent moving stuff to the center and drying the floor and corners. Aaron took Geoff fishing, Doug collected firewood. I was cursing the tarp set up, because we should have tarped over the tent. But in all our years of camping THAT has never been a necessity.

We either invest in a new tent or start tarping, the way I see it.

Anyway -- The rain let up around 7:30, and we enjoyed a huge assed fire and dinner. The tent was drier than before, but still kind of moist. I left all the flaps open to the air... inside the tent was hot even though the air outside was cool. I hoped that some of the moisture would evaporate and things would get more cozy.

Then, around 4am, the rain resumed. We had taken the tarp down because stars were out... what a bad decision. Stuff left out on the table was now soaked. Nothing was ruined... but my hat was out there. And our swimming towels. Oy. Bad planning dudes. Where is Big Butt Joey when you need him!

I was then totally paranoid about the rain. I sat up, checking surfaces, closing flaps, using a T-shirt to wipe moisture up where it was coming in. Shaking my fist at the sky.

Around 6am I finally fell back asleep. Geoff woke up shortly thereafter. I was up. That was that.

We had breakfast, retarped and dried the site the best we could. We took showers and hit the road before noon.

Around Augusta, the skies cleared. It was 81 degrees. Not quite sunny, but sure as hell not pouring.

I was so pissed. Stupid spooty weather.

We approached our town, and the skies were kind of ominous. I looked at them and laughingly said to Doug "You just watch, the minute we get home and start unpacking the truck the sky is gonna open up on us. I guarantee it."

And sure enough. Right when we got home. Zing. Rain. Gah.

This experience would scare off most. I think we may camp for Labor Day weekend next weekend, if we can get a reservation somewhere. I was totally stressed by the rain, the tent, the moistness. But at least it wasn't cold. I slept in a T-shirt, and was perfectly comfy temperature wise. There is nothing worse than camping and being cold... I hate that shit. So the forecast for next weekend is clear and beautiful, but we'll see what Katrina's remnants have to say about that when Friday comes.

Anyway. We're home. I'm glad. There's a photo set that goes with this weekend, if you want to go view it. I only got one license plate because my husband drives too flipping FAST and my camera zoom so doesn't work at all. That was the suck. We passed Montana, Oregon, Wisconsin, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Indiana, Illinois, Oklahoma... countless others. And I have NO photographic proof for my gallery. Pfth.

I'm glad to be home.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Busted playing license plate bingo.... Alabama!

I suppose I have to update or you may not hear from me at all until Tuesday. We're going camping, leaving in the morning. I'm dreading the folding and sorting of the 99 loads of laundry on my couch, so relaxing with my reads and firing off a quick one to keep you happy, all five of you, is all I'm going to have time for tonight.

Work was really slow and quiet this week. I ran out of stuff for Amy to do. I could have had her come in EVERY day and do my job while I sat there and did diddly squat, but something about that made my Protestant Work Ethic do a creepy unsavory shiver, and I thought it best if I let her know her services were well loved but not needed.

Funny how work can be feast or famine sometimes.

I managed to score a few more of those license plates for my set. I got Minnesota and Tennessee the other day, and while driving home today there was some sort of really super fancy car parked on the side of the road with Alabama plates.

I was like "Ho, no way!" and pulled over, ran back with my camera and took the plate's picture. Geoff was standing with me and we were looking at the "Heart of Dixie" detail little heart up above the 'a' at the end...

Just as a guy was coming down the street, the owner -- talking on his cell phone.

"Is there anything wrong?" he asked me as I gasped. Eeep. I'm busted!

"Is this your car?" I pointed to its luxurious, sleek, black exterior. He nodded. I smiled and said "We're playing License Plate Bingo."

Luckily Geoff was standing right next to me, reading the "Stars fall on..." bit at the top of the plate aloud. So it looked like a plausible excuse for a fat old lady to throw out there while crouched behind his super nice car.

"Are you winning?" he asked.

"I'm ... playing against myself." I admitted. "Thank you though, you're number 35. You have no idea how rare your plate is in these parts!" And he started laughing.

Whew. Crisis averted. But hey, huge score. Not some blurry assed picture taken as I zoom down the dang highway. But a nice, up close, shiny, with my body reflected in the chrome kind of picture. Just right. Hell yeah.

See the song lyric to the left and you'll totally understand me. As if you haven't figured it out already. Right?

I was going to write a screed about Pat Robertson, and how a preacher needs to be the mouthpiece of God and witness to the love of Jesus Christ. How he is becoming the moral equivalent of most insane Islamic clerics who call for all of us to be wiped out... and how I doubt Jesus would groove on that. Doug reminded me that Deitrich Bonhoffer called for the outright assassination of Adolf Hitler back in the 40s, and no one listened to him... so sometimes the mouthpiece of God says things that we don't necessarily want to hear said. No one would argue that Hitler was a bad assed motherfucker who should have probably been taken out by the Arm of the Lord, or any willing party, at some point before millions of people were killed in accordance to his vision.

Let's stop and think before we knee jerk react to the stupidity of Robertson's statements, and look into Hugo Chavez... a man I know nothing about but someone who perhaps requires some of our attention.

Before he grows into Hitler.

I still don't like when men of God call for killing one another, even if they may be right about the target of their desired bombing. I would like for men of God to call for feeding of children of all faiths, and building of lives. Instead of the destruction thereof. I think I prefer my assassinations to come from the hands of politically ideological governments, who hopefully operate without the name of Jesus flopping around in their mouths.

How 'bout you? What do you think? Comments are open.

And while that's not a screed, it certainly is a tad more interesting than "dang I have to fold the fricking LAUNDRY!" Which I must go do now.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The plan to move to Dover...

Yeah, I'm awesome. I got South Dakota on the way home from work last night. This after discussing my little game play with France, both of us agreeing that it would be near to impossible to get said plate. I wish Jessie had been with me, because I could have used a wingman to take the shot while I drove, and get a clearer picture. My camera cannot zoom in and focus anymore, so my shots are not coming out totally clear. I got Michigan and Washington (State) as well.

While they are indeed uploaded to Flickr and in the set, I'm unhappy with the quality of the pictures and am cursing my camera. But ... I may never get South Dakota again though. So it'll have to stay.

I also saw Ontario today while walking around Marblehead, but didn't have my camera with me. In town, I also saw Utah again, but already have it. And there were tons of NY cars for some reason. All the NY residents are in Marblehead today. Not sure why. And a bunch of Virginians. Oh, and Illinois and Indiana were coming the opposite direction in traffic, and I didn't get the camera on in time. So I lost out on them but saw them. Soon they will be mine!

And yes, I know I am certifiably insane.

Everyone needs a hobby though, right? I have 30 states and 1 Canadian Province. And I think I rule. Thank you very much.

No menacing wacko on the way home last night, but I did see him on the way to work. He looked right at me, going in the opposite direction, and POINTED at me.

I'm officially freaked out. He's a crazy bastard.

And then, of course, I get stuck behind a granny who isn't sure where she is. She made a left turn onto West Shore Drive in Marblehead, FROM THE GO STRAIGHT/NO LEFT TURN LANE. I knew she was going to do it too... I had been behind her for a good stretch, and she was all over the road, yielding where there is no yield, going through stop signs without stopping. Stopping AT a green light.

She was a Marbleheader, with yacht club sticker in her back window, but she was obviously confused. I ended up losing her when she pulled over somewhat in front of a driveway... after she almost sideswiped a car.

I really should have called the police on her... she's going to hurt someone one of these days (or minutes). I was just happy to get to the office in one piece.

My son cracks me up. He decided a while back that he was going to do the following:

"When I'm 22, I'm going to move out. I'm going to move to Dover Delaware and work at a Burger King. And I'll get a roommate to help me pay the rent, because I won't make that much money."

"I'll miss you," I say to him.

Today he decided that when he is 22 he's moving to Nantucket. And because they probably don't have a Burger King there, because rich people like NICE restaurants, he is going to be a chef or a policeman in Nantucket. And I am welcome to come visit him. "And so can Jessica, after she gets her Masters Degree. She'll be 26 by then. Almost 27. So she should have that finished by then."

He cracks me up. In 14 years, check in with me and see if he is in Dover or Nantucket, wouldya.

Alright -- I'm outta here. Got a lot to do just to get out the door this morning. Take it easy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Fish in a creek barrel

After work yesterday, Geoff wanted to go fishing. We went down to the creek at the edge of our property and with a few old hamburger rolls we nabbed several catfish and several sunfish. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. The fish are semi-marooned there, until it rains. There is a deep pool and the creek isn't flowing because no water is running under the bridge, save for a tiny trickle. The pond water level is horribly low. So they are stuck, and they are hungry. And we fed them. We didn't just catch them to feed them, we threw a ton of the bread into the water to give them something to eat... it wasn't all just "ha HA! If you desire food you must first be injured! We are so eeeeevil!!!" Naah. Not us. Not too often.

It made up for the stress I experienced on my way home. I was tailgated and threatened by a guy in a Titan V8 truck, silver. I honestly thought he was going to get out and kill me at the traffic light on Lynnfield St. and Summit in Peabody... Suffice to say, I can't go any faster than the vehicle in front of me. I'm not speeding up to risk a ticket because some dickwad behind me is in a hurry. If it was a medical emergency or something, he should have called an ambulance. Sorry dude.

I think I know where he lives, and I will be cautious at 5pm when I drive by there, lest he be on my ass again. And I'll have the phone ready to call the Peabody police.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Is it hard to make arrangements with yourself...

"Is it hard to make arrangements with your self
when you're old enough to repaint but young enough to sell?"
-Neil Young

My quote of the moment there on the left is Neil Young's Tell Me Why, one of his greatest songs. It has been running through my head for days... and I get that little lick going when I'm dissatisfied with where my life is.

Let's evaluate together, shall we?

I'm happy to have a job, I'm glad my kids are healthy. They're developing wonderfully, even with the bumps and bruises and pimples of regular life. We have money and a roof over our heads. Our school district is okay, if not better than okay. I'm not happy about Geoff's teacher assignment but will fight tooth and nail for him, that's not a problem. Jessie is doing great in school, and she's a blessing to have around. I like her friends. I'm not worried about the next four years of her development, as long as all the kids stay their course. I'm ready for the usual challenges. I'm even ready for the catastrophes. I'm fine with the kids and being their mom. So my unhappiness isn't with them.

I've put my Masters in Ed program on hold because I realized that right now I make about 15k more than I would if I were a first-year teacher, and I don't have to struggle with the crap that being an educator brings with it. At work there are often power struggles over who gets to do what, who gets what, who has what task... and I couldn't care less because I just don't want to be involved. MB asked me one day why I wasn't more ambitious -- why I didn't WANT more decision making power. I've learned through the past several years that no one listens to me anyway ... so why bother fighting, kicking and scratching to get my way? I just want to collect a paycheck and go the hell home. I don't know if it is lack of ambition or pure common sense, but I just don't want to be one of the power players. I did that at the State College and was treated like absolute shit most of the time... even though my decisions were the right ones... someone else with a bigger mouth, bigger sack of brass balls, or bigger title always got his or her way. With disastrous results. And I left there and nothing has changed.

My being anywhere in the work world means to me -- a paycheck. My life, my being, my soul and my dreams are not in a brick & mortar. I'm more than happy to help out, to be the sled dog, the work horse, the whipping boy. But I want to walk away at the end of the day and just be done with it. So in my mind, work is not an issue. I get paid and as long as my checks don't bounce, I can put up with the rough weeks (Like last week. This week was a cake walk and reminded me why I love my job), the noisy office, the weird coworkers (not you france) and the commute.

My husband is once again considering an advanced degree, which is all fine and good. Sometimes he's like me and just wants the paycheck and to come home, and other times he exhibits this desire, this drive, to advance and be and do... and then I feel like my life is in flux so I worry and am unhappy. I'm good, giving and game when it comes to him making the life choices for himself, and plan on supporting them until he comes up with something that is just way too fucked up and stupid (Hey! Let's uproot the family and move to Iceland!).

My husband frustrates me but only in the normal way spouses get under the skin. He's a great man, and hell -- he wins father of the year for the fishing derby this past spring and I will never ever forget that. He's a good man... a little to cerebral and not fix-er-upper enough sometimes, but he stays home, loves camping with us, makes me laugh, and is a hell of a great cook. After 14 years of marriage, I'm not tired of him. I love him with the deepest depths of my soul. So I know my happiness is insured there.

I am kind of disgruntled with my neighbors, my neighborhood, the traffic and my tenants. When we bought this house in 1996, this was a busy street but it wasn't THAT busy. Now it is a major trucking route for some damn dump and construction vehicles. They start rumbling through at 7am and that shit doesn't stop until after 8pm.

I'm wanting to move. I'm wanting 11 acres of land and a house set far back from the street so I don't need to hear the goddamn traffic.

Is that all that is bothering me? Would I be happier somewhere else? New Hampshire, Michigan, Arizona? Or would I feel like I have the same redneck neighbors and same bullshit from the school district no matter where I am.


Ever since I was pregnant with Geoff I've been superstitious about wishing for things to happen. For instance, I kept telling my doctor that I wanted Geoff to be born in late December so I could get the tax write off. We joked about inducing me.

And I had pre-term labor November 22nd, and he was almost born 2 months early and I spent a month on my back in a hospital. And he was still born the following year, so I had all that crap and no tax write off, and now I have a little boy with some problems and issues which may or may not be associated with genetics, may or may not be associated with his precipitous delivery, may or may not be associated with the pre-term difficulties he and I went through.

Be careful what you wish for -- you just might get it.

Wishes come answered in packages of snakes. You get your wish, but it comes out all wrong and venomous.

Part of me wishes for money to fall from the sky. A cash windfall which then puts us in a position where one of us won't have to work. One would, just to get insurance, because I'm so not paying out of pocket for that crap.

In order for money to fall from the sky though, in our situation, someone has to pass away and leave it to us. That would suck. There isn't anyone I want to have pass away from our lives. And the one person who would be leaving us money would also be leaving a family battle for the money where we'll probably end up shafted anyway, so we'd lose her loving presence, and watch as the rest of the family ate itself alive fighting over things.

Money would make it so we could buy something elsewhere, fix this up nice, sell it (while living somewhere else) and just take that natural next step in the homeowning process. This being a "starter" home, I feel we've started the hell out of it and can and should progress to the next place that culturally we're expected to go.

But we don't NEED to. We're fine here. ""Is it hard to make arrangements with your self when you're old enough to repaint but young enough to sell?"

Yes, Neil, it is.

Anyway. The men went to vacuum the truck. I'm supposed to be cleaning the dishes. It feels good to just kind of sit and write. Thanks for listening to my bitchfest. No matter where I am, here's where I live. And you're my neighbors. Now get your dog out of my yard and clean up his crap, wouldya?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Window Replacements

Right now I'm all dressed and ready for work, and having a hard time fathoming the fact that in two weeks Jessica will have already left for the bus and at this time will be finishing with homeroom/skills and moving onto first period.

tanfeet I feel like we've had a very fun summer. My feet aren't as tan as last year (see to the left there, August 2004) when I was underemployed. I didn't get to teach this year with prof CM and that made me very sad. But camp kept the kids happy and bright, and Doug and I were able to coordinate all the picks and drops so that no one was left somewhere accidentally. I wish there could be a few more weeks before school starts. But that just isn't the case. There's a lot I need to do in the next few weeks to get them ready, and I just don't want to wrap my head around the tasks at hand.

I dread the end of summer.

We are having the upstairs windows replaced.

The guy is supposed to be here to take the measurements between 7 and 8 am. It's almost 8am. I'd like to leave for work, buddy. Thanks. Glad Doug is still in bed so he can take over for me so I can go.

I'm waiting on Geoff to finish breakfast and get his bathing suit on. He lost his watch at camp on Wednesday and didn't tell me, so I don't know if we'll ever see it again. I'm kind of disappointed. It was a cheap burger king watch, but he did SUCH a good job all summer long with taking it off before swimming, keeping it with his glasses, taking care of it and putting it away at night. He didn't tell me because he thought I'd be mad, and because he's (I think) disappointed in himself. I'm going to ask at camp if it has turned up. If it hasn't I think I'll get him a nicer watch for the school year. Something that won't make my head explode if it gets hurt or scratched or damaged, but certainly something nicer than just a burger king cheapie.

Not much else to report. I'm sure I'll have a post-pool party report about all the fun-ness that we have today. I have a big ole bag of marinade on some steak tips chillin' in the fridge. Bag o'meat.

Need more coffee and ready to hit the day. Hope you have a good one!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Geoff Haircut

To quote Nance, who yesterday morning "...poured a cup of coffee and sat on my dead ass for about 2 hours, surfing the net and cussing all of you who do not update regularly. Boring drivel is better than no drivel at all, people. Embrace the updating already!"

Heh. Embrace the updating. Yeah -- I've been slow in the update department myself, and I'm sure she visited here once or twice in the past couple of weeks and said "Gah." As did many of you. But it's just been insane, and I should really get the wireless router hub thing put in here so I can use the office computer online and upfreakingdate from the couch when Doug and Jess are on the PC.

Well -- I took Geoff for a haircut the other night. For a kid who didn't want a haircut he did sit wonderfully and was well behaved and we were out of there in 12 minutes. He's enjoying camp a lot this week, and that's a great thing. Tomorrow we have guys coming to measure the upstairs apartment windows for replacement. As if my life isn't a big enough mess. But they have been living with leaky windows that have panes falling out, so it's high time I cowboy up with the money and pay for them to be replaced. Tomorrow we're also having a barbecue at work over at G&D's house. I need to shave my legs. They have a pool and I will probably go in. I'm marinading steak tips right now because I am the queen of the grill.

I guess this qualifies as a "Boring drivel is better than no drivel at all" kind of entry that Nance longs for once in a while. I bet I'll have more to write about later. I've been thinking about Cindy Sheehan, war protests, soldiers who die who enlist of their own free will, sweet neo-con, stupid Mick Jagger, expensive concert tickets, why the radio station never plays my BNL requests (jerks), Amy, Steve and Virginia, and beer.

But nothing which can really fall into the form of an entry, so I have to just leave you with that rambley bullshit for now. In the meantime, the License Plate Bingo set on Flickr continues to grow. Go visit and enjoy.

Monday, August 15, 2005

"I lied about being the outdoor type..."

G is for GeoffreyWhile geocaching at the Mystic River beach (Sandy Beach) which I presume is in Medford, not sure which town it is, we ran across this little grove with cement animal figures in it. They stand apart from the rest of the action, far, far away from where little kids are. Which is sad, because they were so damn cool.

There is a whole set of pictures of these animals and their one friend -- Geoff. If you want to go check them out. My girl "C" at work told me that on the Nahant Beach at the rotary there used to be this same little herd of alphabet animals, and she used to play on them. She has pictures of herself and her sister and cousin on the animals.

I would love to have one of these animals in my yard. The "G" had "ays" written after it on the giraffe's body. God Bless Photoshop. Or else I couldn't have taken the nice picture of my son I have here.

Are there more of these around the MDC parks? I should ask at Universal Hub or something...

By the way -- Geoff is looking totally "Lord of the Flies" lately. It is time for a sheering. C'mere Little Sheep! Buzzzzzzzzz

So indeed, as per usual, over the weekend we did a little geocaching. Yes, on Saturday especially it was hot, Africa/Monkey/Tarzan hot. You pick the adjective to describe how hot it was and it was most likely that hot if not hotter.

But we do not fear the heat.

We picked this series of Geocaches that run along the Middlesex Canal. There are 12 caches total in this series, and each cache is a multi-stage (meaning more than one stop) cache. We did the first two on Saturday. They start on the Medford/Sommerville line, and progress north to Lowell. The great thing about the caches is the hider(s) really put a lot of time and effort into researching the history of the Canal system between the Merrimack river and Boston, and they provide historical tid-bits for each stop on the caching hunt trip. Pretty cool.

We did two more on Sunday, only to have our hunting time called to a halt by a string of nasty thunder storms, and an attack of bees.

Yes. I was stung again on Sunday. So was Geoff.

We were in Winchester, at the final stage of Part 3 of the Middlesex Canal caches, and Doug was about 20 yards to the north of us. I was so convinced he was totally way way off, and Geoff and I were going through a pile of brush and logs that were set off the trail. Caches are often hidden under brushpiles. Which is lame and stupid, but I figured it was a good enough place to look. I've often found caches without the GPSr in hand, simply by looking at the "landscaping" around on the ground. This pile of rocks doesn't belong here. These several branches don't match this tree that they are under.

I looked at the ground after a while and there was this hole. And the hole seemed to be moving, bubbling if you will. They looked like little bits of fool's gold -- shining in the sun, wings reflecting the rays. I realized it looked like angry fool's gold. Then it suddenly dawned on my bear-of-little-brain mind that fool's gold doesn't fucking move.

They were bees. Very angry bees.

So I got stung while I stood there, and jumped and started running as I felt about ten more bombing my head. I ran past Geoff and yelled at him "Run!"

He turned to me and asked "Why?"

Now, let me tell you kids something. When you see a 200 pound old lady running as fast as she can out of the woods, you do not ask "Why?" Because the very next thing you will utter is:


Like Geoff did, as I yelled "Bees, Geoff! Bees! Run run run!"

He got stung once on the arm, I got stung once on my fat roll on my back. Stupid mofo bees. I killed four of them when Geoff caught up to me and they were walking up his pants and shirt. I smacked them with my bare hands, left a big pink handmark on his poor belly.

And the retarded thing is once we got back to the truck, regrouped, and put ice on our injuries (always prepared -- we had a cooler with iced down waters) we drove closer to the spot where Doug was looking and he walked right up to the cache, found it, logged in, and wasn't stung once.

I lied about being the outdoor type. I have decided I'm staying in for the rest of my life and playing Playstation. Well. I'm pissed at being stung again, I don't know that I'm officially divorced from Mother Nature, but I'm not pleased with her stinging bullshit.

Alright, well... you know I'll be out there next weekend. I'm a sucker.

The super sad thing is I'm more angry that we didn't get the third cache of the day yesterday because that would have been #400 for Team Screamapillar... we didn't get it because of this:


Grrrrrrrr. Bees and thunderstorms. My Sunday funday was ruined.
Mother Nature is gonna get my foot.

We were going to go camping this weekend but Jess had a sleep over party Friday night, and Doug doesn't like camping for one night because it's so much effort getting everything ready, set up, and then boom -- strike it and go home.

We've been talking about a long weekend trip in Maine, not to Aaron and Michelle's house but somewhere new that we haven't gone yet. We would need to leave on a Friday night, and drive and set up when we get there so we don't want to go farther than three hours away. Aaron will most likely be joining us the Saturday night after he gets out of work, so he didn't want to ride too far on his bike into the possible darkness... so it had to be somewhere not too far for both of us.

Doug and Aaron were on the phone Friday night brainstorming places for us to go.

Mount Blue State Park in Weld, ME seems to be the best place for us. Aaron can get there in about 3 hours. It is about an hour longer than I wanted to drive but that's okay as long as we can be 100% organized on Thursday night. All I want to have to do on Friday when I get home from work is pack the cooler with ice and throw the dogs and it into the truck and then go. We'll see how successful I am.

The place looks really cool. There seem to be a lot of geocaches in the area, a ton of campsites in the state park -- I can only hope they're not booked solid. That would suck.

So yeah, it looks like in two weeks we'll be making a major trek up for some tent camping and some Aaron time. I'm looking forward to it. Gotta buy more propane for the little burner. Woot!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Amy pointed out to me at the office that I haven't been writing lately. I've been very busy, to the point where even thinking of coming in here and sitting and writing makes my head hurt. Work during this week was incredibly busy. Amy being there helped out immeasurably, I must say. And in the past two days we managed to not only schedule one of the most complicated weeks in our company's programming history but we scheduled the week after that, so on this fine Friday afternoon I find myself a week ahead of schedule. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

The working week sapped the living life out of me. Coming home at night I found myself with the laptop and floor plans, and writing some support documentation because we've totally moved from one platform to another and I was the only one who knew how to use it, 'cept for C who I taught a little bitty bit to at one point.

I know I didn't work nearly as hard as G and her husband did this week, I wouldn't trade places with them for anything... but I still had a long, rough week and I am relieved it is over.

By the way -- you know life is getting weird when you're eating your lunch at your desk, surfing your daily reads for updates and you hit two of the people sitting right behind you. I have never worked with other people who keep blogs... so it's kind of funny to read someone's update when you could just yell over the cube farm to them.

Geoff and the Does anyone have any advice on how to teach a kid how to ride a bike? Geoff is trying to learn, and we go out to the school parking lot and he tries and tries but totally isn't getting it. He says that there is this great bike riding club in Hartford that he wants to join, and they'll never let him in.

So, leave comments -- this harried mom needs some advice.


Today the elementary school posted the teacher classroom assignments for next year. I'm not thoroughly pleased with the teacher my son has been assigned to. K's (Jessie's friend) mom told me her son had this teacher last year and that she is "nice but easily overwhelmed."

And that is the last kind of person I need with my son. We just went through that. I sense a conference before the school year even begins.

I don't think I'm being aggressive or out of line. I am learning from experience here... and I'm not going to let what we went through last year happen again.

For those of you who recall, my five long-term readers who have been with me for five years, last year I was unbelievably dissatisfied with the teacher Geoff had assigned to him. Two days before school started, the teacher Geoff was assigned to was promoted to Assistant Principal, so we got this new assignment and I freaked out.

Not because she's a bad teacher or a bad person. Jessie had her in fifth grade and liked her. I just knew that she lacked the kind of knowledge and experience needed to work with a kid like Geoff. I knew from what Jessica told me. "Geoff is going to eat her alive, mom." I knew from K's mom's experience that fifth grade year that this teacher was not equipped with knowledge in special needs.

I went to the principal, I asked if Geoff could be reassigned. He said no. I argued with him. He told me that he had "the fullest confidence" in this teacher. I don't know how he could possibly have because he was new and she was coming back from maternity leave with great reluctance. He didn't know her except on paper.

She had a pulse, so what -- that gives great confidence?

His first grade teacher got wind of this sudden change and went and argued with him. He told her she was out of line.

We both tried. The first grade teacher was the only one who pegged Geoff's problems the first week of school, told us what she believed was wrong with him, and gave us great guidance and was a fabulous teacher to him. I was sad to move on to second grade, and then to have this particular woman assigned to him just blew my mind. But. We tried.

The year sucked.

It took until February for things to be okay between the two of them. She didn't really know how to respond to him and his personality and needs. By the end of the year, she finally had a good routine with him, and they ended the year on a good note but guess what -- she's not returning to teaching next year, and I don't think it is because she's expecting. I think her experience last year was just as negative as Geoff's. And that is a shame. She's a good woman with the right kids.

Problem is, you can't always have the kinds of kids you want to teach in a classroom. Sometimes a curve ball is thrown and you have to dive into the web or books or something to learn about someone's special needs. If a parent sits across from you and offers a book he or she finds helpful, take it. Read it, learn it. Don't just sit there and sigh and say "I really don't have time to read a book on this."

So the little tiny tidbit of info I have on this next teacher kind of makes me groan little Marge Simpson worried noises.

Pray for Geoff and his teacher.

Another thing that has me concerned is that there isn't a single boy in his class that he is friends with. Not. One. There is a boy from his Cub Scout den, one of the boys who went hiking with us on the world's hottest day this past June. He's an okay kid. A little weird, a little way too smart, and inappropriately silly and very domineering. I like for Geoff to be apart from him when we're at cub scouts because he brings the worst out in Geoff. And that's his classmate.

All of his good friends, all four or five of them, have the same teacher. And he isn't in that class. He looked at the list and turned around and walked back to the car, somewhat shocked, somewhat stunned, positively dejected. He didn't cry. He said it was good that M was in his class, but he was nowhere near as excited as I'd hoped he'd be.

I tried to let him know it was okay, they'd see each other at recess, and perhaps it is good that he has a whole bunch of new boys to make new friends with. But my words rang hollow and weak in the car over a sad Ben Folds song. Geoff said nothing in return to me. Normally, he'd enthusiastically argue or agree... this time he said nothing.

I want to stay home and homeschool him. I don't want public school any more. I don't know what these people are thinking over there... I'm really sad for him right now.

Anyway -- not the sunniest of entries. But hey, I wrote. Heh.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

So much fun in the summer sun...

So yesterday we did something we have never done before. We went to Canobie Lake Park. For those of you who live within a 50 mile (or perhaps more) radius of Salem New Hampshire, you've no doubt been assailed by the radio jingle, and just seeing the words printed at the top of my screen I do believe the song is stuck in your head.

Jessie has been a few times, but we've always skipped it because we thought it was too expensive. Most of the time amusement parks are indeed way incredibly overpriced, and the lines to wait for the rides go on for halves, quarters and wholes of hours when the ride itself takes 7 seconds. That is a pain in the ass. If I want to stand still, I'll stand in my backyard for free, thank you.

But, my parents are visiting. Normally, we would just go tromp around Newburyport or Portsmouth, and we figured we would just do something a little different.

While indeed expensive, we had a great time. Geoff is a fearless rider, and Doug went with him on a few and got a little like I get -- nauseous, dizzy, and generally discombobulated. I can't go on those rides anymore. Doug quoted Toby Keith when he got off the Matterhorn and said "I ain't as good as I once was."

I didn't realize the extent of water related rides there in the park, or I would have had us dress in bathing suits and brought towels and a change of clothes. We ate dinner there in the park, which was overpriced and overburned, but was wonderful because it took a couple of low blood sugar kids from bitchy to fun again, and we were able to continue riding rides and doing stuff. Doug and I went on the Flume, and I'm almost sad that I didn't buy our picture. It was hysterically funny.

Seeing as I don't do well with rides, I was perfectly happy doing the bumper cars and the flying swings, known at the park as Davinci's Dream. I rode it once and felt so sick after I got off. I agree with Doug -- I ain't as good as I once was.

Speaking of pictures, these guys were awesome. Jess and I kept seeing them walking around the park with their girlfriends. A weenie hat and a burger hat upon their heads.

Everytime we saw them, we'd crack up. They were having a great time -- you could so tell. All four of them were laughing, and the couples were hand-holdey and life was good. I knew I had to have a picture of these dudes. So I saw them, stopped them, and had the girls totally step off (a bit mean, but they didn't have on cool hats) and they willingly posed for the shot.

I love the Frank the Tank t-shirt on the one guy!

It was an awesome day.

Friday, August 05, 2005

When I got to work this morning, my little bird's nest was gone. If you didn't read the entry from the other day, go read.

The property management came and scrubbed the front glass doors and the patio, and it looks as if they removed the nest from the backside of the 4 in 40 about 20 ft up in the air. I felt an amazing sadness this morning.

Poor birdies. Too bad they're so stupid that they nest inside signage instead of some really nice trees, which are abundant around our office park. I go lots of places and the way the signs are designed the birds just love to nest there... and in this case it was a very bad choice.

Sorry little guys.

In happier home news, my parents have found a place to call their own.

They are in their early 60s and haven't ever owned property. In fact, they've been renting the same place for over 30 years. It somehow boggles my mind that they didn't make the move earlier, but circumstances were not where they could be in order to help them make that leap.

Things have gotten so bad where they live (both my sister and I have written about the projects in the past) that they had to make the move and had to make it NOW.

So we will welcome them to the commonwealth of Massachusetts, as they take possession of their trailer in September. By the way, fuck you if you're laughing at "trailer." Yes, it is a mobile home in an over 55 community. It's all they can afford, and to be honest, it's all they need or want. If you think trailers are trashy, go spend a week where they're living NOW and you'll see that a pastoral community park for grown ups is a real blessing to them.

I am very proud of them, they made good decisions on which one to pick, and had a hell of a great buyer's broker working with them and on their behalf.

My mom had been working with a real estate agent early this year, and the woman was pushing my parents to make a decision. We had a similar problem when we started looking for a house in 1996. A very aggressive real estate agent who took us to see things that we didn't feel were "right" for us, and got mad when we changed our minds about what we wanted to see. In my mom's case, the real estate agent wanted her to put $10,000 down NOW on something, and my mom didn't realize that if the deal fell through she'd lose that money. She panicked because no one was educating her on how the process works, so she withdrew her offer and ran for the hills, discouraged and upset.

While on the phone with my mom, I told her that when we experienced pushy bullshit from a real estate agent, we ran for the hills too, and found a buyer's broker.

World of difference.

Our experience could not have been more positive, so I encouraged my mom to not give up, but to try and find a buyer's broker and go that route instead. She didn't even know where to start, so I googled and found this woman in the general area where my mom was looking. She was a name on a website of buyer's broker in southeastern Massachusetts.

With my mom on the phoen, I emailed her and explained my parents' situation, and what they were looking for, and encouraged her to contact my mom or myself for further information. The next morning she called me and we talked for 40 minutes.

And then she called my mom.

Mom had some serious constraints on the choices she could make, one of which is her cat. Doug and I were laughing that "the cat is making the decision for her..." because everything my mom looked at had to be a place where the little shit could be happy. Letting the cat dictate exactly where you're going to live is something unheard of to my husband, but I bet many of you have had these considerations to make in the past and can empathize with her dilemnas.

So my mom and the buyer's broker worked together like mad over the past several weeks, and when my mom couldn't come up to go look at things, Jackie would go in her place and give her an honest opinion of the property. They found a great spot, and there were a few trailers for sale there, and they picked one that is "the" one. I think my mom is tickled pink, and I do hope that this is a great move to a perfect place for her and my dad.

My dad's two comments were:
1. It's too quiet there, it'll take some getting used to.
2. We have three rooms of wall to wall carpeting for the cat to piss on.

I hope the cat his happy.


Anyway -- I should go visit and spend time. I need to figure out what the hell we're doing for dinner. Doug is napping and everyone else seems disinterested. So. More later.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


I must say, I love me some Grampa Simpson. He cracks me up. If you don't like him I'll give you the glowering of a lifetime! Anyway -- not much to report but it seems like a lot going on. Work is busy, and my boss G brought on Amy to help. It's convenient for her because we're in the same town as where she lives (she came in this morning and sighed and said her commute was hell! That bitch! Ha kidding...). So she's managed in two part days to help me get a full day ahead of my regular life schedule. Normally I'd be done scheduling tomorrow. But I'm done today. Horray for Amy. So I stayed a little late at the office today getting organized for starting to schedule for the week beyond next, which will be more complicated and hairy than I've ever imagined... good thing G got us some Amy.

My parents have found a place to buy, so it seems, down in the Massachusetts Armpit (get out a map, look at it, realize that Cape Cod is Massachusetts flexing an arm muscle in a curl, and you'll be able to find the armpit) Region. They're down there now wheeling and dealing and negotiating and binding stuff. They're hoping to take possession of it September 1, if all goes well.

Which means my sister will be the only real reason for me to go to Long Island anymore. She isn't happy there, and with my mom moving, there will be less of a reason overall for her to sit there in that godforsaken hell hole of a place where the least expensive house is a $599,000 "tear down" that you get .12 acres of land and have to build a whole new house on the spot. Nice.

So there are hemmings and hawings in the world about where she and R should head next. I hope it is somewhere wicked cool. Or somewhere she'll be incredibly happy.

Not "New Jersey with Palm Trees..." aka Florida.

Anyway, Grandma and Grampa were supposed to be here tonight, but their massive purchase situation makes it so they'll come here tomorrow. Gave me a reprieve on vacuuming under the couch. Whew. I can do it tonight, if I don't fall asleep first!

Today when I got to work there was a little bird sitting on the ground near the glass doors to the building. He was just sitting there, and had just enough room where he was positioned to not get hit by the door (and crushed). I tried to shoo him out of the corner, but he flopped around and tried to fly into the glass. I realized then that he was either injured or immature... and couldn't fly.

So I picked him up.

I held him, his little heart beating like mad against my hand. He walked on my fingers and chirped. He was perfectly happy hanging out on my hand. I thought he was pretty awesome. I called my buddy M in the office and told him to come down and see what I had. He was a touch freaked out by it, but also thought it was kind of cool. We realized he must have fallen out of the nest up in the 40 above our office door, way way up above our office door.

And there was no way I could get him back up there. I could hear mom (presumably) chirping for him, and I put him in a bush beside the door and hoped for the best. He chirped. very loudly when I set him down, but there really wasn't anything I could do for him. I walked away, totally worried about him and wondering if I should call animal control or the Audobon Society for some advice.

I went back an hour later to check on him, convinced I'd make him a Shoebox Bird if he was sitting there still. But. He was gone. He wasn't on the ground, or under a car dead, or smooshed in the glass doors. No feathers or obvious signs of cat attack... so I'm hoping some other feathered friend gave him a lesson on how to get back up, way way up, to the 40 nest.

Sometimes, I'm a wicked softie. Sniff. Go little birdie! Go!

I have pictures of birdie on my camera, and have to figure out how the hell to get them off of there, so you can see him. And my bee sting. And some other junk.

Welcome to nature's freakin' journal.

Right then. Well, it being late, I need to figure out what to feed my family. I'll gab at yinz later.