Tuesday, January 31, 2006

No More Messing Around...

“Someone, someone could tell me where I belong. Be calm, be brave. It'll be ok.
No more messing around and living underground, or New Year's resolutions.
By this time next year I won't be here. I turn on, turn on MTV. The volume's down
Lips move. They say... It'll be okay."

-Guster 'Come Downstairs and Say Hello'

Unlike the subject in the Guster song I chose to quote for today's entry, I am not at a threshold of telling myself tomorrow I move in a new direction. I don't need to be assured to "be calm, be brave. It'll be okay." I'm not at a point in my life where I'm at the bottom looking up hopefully that I can reach a better place.

I've had a really good year, and looking back over this journal's history, I can say that this has been the best year yet. Not an astronomically mind-blowing wicked amazing good year, but there were great highlights and few low-lights. Even the low-lights were dealt with well, and I'm feeling okay and optimistic on this New Years Eve Day.

That said, I know there are many of you who are good, dear friends who are not in the same place.

I know there are wonderful, super people who read this journal who have had the most craptacular year ever, or the most craptacular string of bad years ever.

Sadly, I know for a fact there is nothing I can do for you. I can offer kind words, I can tell you I love you, and I can mean it from the bottom of my soul. I can buy you things when I have money, I can spend time talking to you on the phone, in person, over the internet.

But I can't fix things for you. It kills me inside, it makes me feel impotent that I cannot find that home for someone who has to move, hold that friend whose marriage has fallen apart, help cure the friends who are at the nadir of their sadness, or fix the child who is in rehab again and again or fix the pain faced daily when one knows that their daughters should be passing certain landmarks based on their ages, but they're not because they've died...

All year, and for the past couple of years, I've sat here trying to figure out what to do for you. In the end -- I know that words are all I have to give. Words, prayer and time. And over the years, I hope that I've given a few of you one or two small things to hang on to in order to help in the process, to start to feel better. To "be calm, be brave" and know "it'll be okay."

Over the past five years here, I have watched people who were happy slide down and people I was afraid for rise up. I know all our lives are circles or roller coasters or have peaks and valleys. It's all so trite and cliche.

Regardless -- in the process of this year upcoming, I wish you all the best. All the best.

Be calm, be brave. It'll be okay.

So, how many of you make New Years' resolutions?

I don't. I never do, because I know they won't be met. I'm not a pessimist, I'm a realist. And I know that setting myself up to failure will set myself up for disappointment and ... well, that's not fun.

However, I would like to set realistic goals and objectives for myself like a tried and true HR professional (which I'm not but have been influenced by in the past). And here they are:

1. I will do a better job of getting unpacked and organized. We've been here since the end of May, and I still have boxes to unpack and things to find.

2. I will make use of hangers and my closet. No more using the foot of the bed to put the hang-up clothes on the footboard... I will make a better effort to hang things up when they come out of the wash, and put them directly into the closet. I've already taken hangers downstairs. Wish me luck.

3. I will return to walking all 3 dogs more often, not just one. Or none.

4. I will make a better effort to help Geoff get organized and learn to keep his life in order. I've already started with taking him to a psychologist and getting him to think of how he orders his life. He's doing a great job with homework and school belongings, so I'd like to transfer that to his life skills. We've made a lot of progress with him, and now I'm hopeful for the rest of the year...

5. Get back to geocaching.

Well then. Those are reasonable goals. I hope I meet them.

As for you, I wish you the best 2007. Be well, be happy and keep visiting.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Wherein my husband calls me a blog terrorist

Yes. My own husband. He accused me of being a Blog Terrorist when I took way too many pictures of him this weekend. And you know what. He's right. I am. And because I am, I will share with you all the things I terrorized this weekend.

Friday afternoon we had Cub Scouts. The meeting covered knot tying. Luckily, seven really tired boys had five willing grown ups, myself included, on hand to help them learn square knot (something I've never been able to do before but totally get now) double half hitch, bowline, slip knot and something else that I couldn't do and forget the name of, but I'll figure it out and own it the way I do the other four.

I am now officially the self-appointed queen of the bowline. I can tie that bastard with my eyes closed. I'm not sure all the boys totally understand the knots, but heck, I earned my ass a belt hoop, I tell you WHAT! Kickass. Yeah.

Feeling incredibly proud of my achievement, that night I went to sleep and dreamed of camping... complete with a site tarped up with carabiners, bowlines and all kinds of happy crap.

Saturday we got up early, I went over to Cateringman's to help with this data entry project he has. They bought some software last year to manage all of their recipes, orderings, bookings, appointments etc... it is cumbersome and mind boggling. It makes my head explode, so you can imagine how the Cateringmen feel. Sam said to me "What you did in two hours took me nine months to almost figure out." I'm going back on Tuesday night to conference call the software guy and ask what the heck happens when you fall into a hole in his program and can't get out. From a user interface standpoint -- his kung fu sucks. But. Cateringman owns it, paid for it, and now we have to make it work ... that and he made me breakfast which was awfully sweet. The perks of working for Cateringman.

EP dogbar wide shot lighthouseI got home and we immediately readied up to go to Gloucester to geocache. I think we found three of the five, knowing that one of them was definitely NOT going to be found. It's been missing since April of last year. But we wanted to go to the location where it was hidden initially, and it was well worth the trip.

We went to the last cache we did and all of a sudden I saw it -- a visual anomaly. Frosted glass in my field of vision.

Long time readers know what that means. There was a meteor coming my way. In the form of a migraine. I told Doug that after this find, we'd have to go home because I didn't feel I would make it through another one. I was right. We had a great time finding our last find, and it was a tremendous and beautiful place, but the headache started to own me, and we rushed home, got my medication into me and tucked me into bed. I slept for about two hours, felt alright enough to get up and eat something, and I was back fast asleep by 9pm.

The migraine could have resulted in my entire weekend being ruined, but for some reason this morning I woke up feeling alright, instead of feeling like I had a hang over. Which was a total relief, because it was Burn Stuff Day here at our house.

Remember a few weeks ago when we got the bedroom set? Well. A lot of our old furniture is simply unusable, ungiveaway-able. It's just broken, old and nasty. So we decided to get rid of it via the scourge of Prometheus -- fire. Doug went out and started a small fire and put all of my old bureau drawers on top of it. Within seconds the fire was 15 feet high, flames shooting out all over the place. He then brought out the body of the bureau and threw it on, flames then went shooting out the back kind of like a bizarre furnace.

His bureau then followed, with drawers. And then we went into the basement to find more stuff to burn. "I'm in a burning mood!" he said, and we found some old broken chairs, some wooden crates, Clayton's broken futon frame, an old bureau that we'd gotten out of surplus in college back before we were married -- it all went on the fire.

And I found one of those Lisa Simpson chairs, the kneely sitty things which are supposed to be good for your back but leave most humans crippled for life. Doug got it from a hall director in college when he was throwing it out. I used it when I was pregnant with Jess. It's been in the basement since the day we moved in here. I brought it out to put on the fire... and he tried to STOP! me. How DARE he.

"I want to keep that! I sat in it just now, it's really comfortable!"

The cloth was all ripped on the corners and the thing looked as if it would snap in half the second he sat upon it, not because of its weight but because it was all dried out and brittle.

I won the argument. He put it on the fire. And boy did that bad boy burn. Holy cow.

While we were burning all these old things, in my mind I was realizing that house fires burn so fast and so dangerously because of old nasty assed furniture that is brittle and dried out. I was glad to get the bulk of this stuff out of the basement, and was tempted to go through the basement and get every last stitch of old wooden garbagey crap out of there, but we'll need something for the next big fire. When we need to torch Geoff's old loveseat.

The coup de grace of the whole thing was when Doug went in the house and got this nasty old armchair that had been in the corner of our room for 10 years. When we were first married, Doug had made friends with the guy who fills the vending machine at the college. Doug was a public safety officer, and would have to let this guy in at like 4am to do his job. So they got to know one another, and after several months the guy said "Hey, I'm moving back to (insert native country name here) and I need to get rid of all my furniture Would you like to buy it?" Seeing as we had one couch, which we'd gotten from the side of the road in Beverly, Doug agreed to his price of like $500. The guy brought it over. It was horrid, but it was better than the one couch we had.

And we still have some of the pieces in the house here, even though I've made several attempts to purge them from our lives. So to see Doug finally part with this chair really made me happy. I wanted the loveseat (which is in Geoff's room, and he doesn't sit in it, he piles all his stuff on it, and it is taking up valuable play place real estate in there and contributing NOTHING to his life...) but Doug isn't ready to part with that.

28 Doug celebrates his country heritage I took a million pictures, because they were fascinating and scary all at once. And Doug decided to channel his inner Western Pennsylvanian and got out a bottle of Jim Beam to pose with, thus making for some comedy photo gold, seen here. Our neighbors came over to visit and hang by the fire, so I got some nice shots of 2/3rds of their girls, and there was some ATV ridin' goin' on, and Jack went airborne for some snowballs. All told, I am a blog terrorist, and that's everything that happened.

I need to get a move on. We have a lawyer coming tomorrow to sign papers for our refinance. Seems we do it every year. And the house is a wreck. But at least all the old crap is out of the middle of the living room, and I can mop the floors and accomplish something. Hallelujah.

Hope all y'all had a good weekend.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Minor Inconveniences

Jessica came to me last night with her brand new mp3 player in hand. "Um, Mom?" ... and I know what is coming next. Mom, it's broken. Mom, it's doing something wonky. Mom, I have a problem with my mp3 player. Well, with how OFTEN that thing is ON I bet you wore it out in less than a month. In fact, I'd put money on that.

I tried to figure out what she did. It power cycles up with the welcome, and then seems to reboot and go through the power cycle over and over. I emailed SanDisk and they told me to reformat it. I did. It seemed to work perfectly with 3 test songs on the thing. I should have left it at that. I reloaded all her music.

Now. It won't power on at all.

I'm late for work now, because I know my daughter is addicted to this thing and it keeps her sane. She went to walk to the bus this morning and asked me for her old one, which she handed down to me.

Um. It's at my desk in the office.


So she was very very sad. I can't say as I blame her.

The mp3 player she gave me is keeping me sane at my desk. Our office has grown to be one of the single noisiest places on earth rivaling that of Logan Airport at highest take-off traffic time.

I can't concentrate, I can't get any work done -- but little ole mp3 buddy helps me block out all the discussions that people feel they need to have over the top of my cubicle. I turn it up to 30.

I will be deaf by November.

If I didn't have it, I'd storm out of the office and go home. I'm sure of it. I'm getting incredibly worn out with all the commotion. And I'm afraid I'm going to make a catastrophic error because of my inability to concentrate. I don't have ADD, but let me tell you, I know how Geoff feels now. I totally understand. This mp3 player is my ritalin.

Thing is, my situation can be solved without medication very easily, but I won't go there.

I'm reluctant to go into the office today because I'm just so tired of noise. I am weary. Or as Elliott Smith sings so sweetly "I'm tired. I'm tired" in Waltz #2.

In other news all my bitching about office noise aside - Annie needs your prayers. Mojo, good vibes, whatever you can spare. A couple of weeks ago, her husband left her. And now her daughter, one of three (nieces and a nephew) whom she brought in to live with her as when her own sister died in 1996, has Cystic Fibrosis. She received lung nodes from family members last year. But right now -- it's looking grim. She's in hospital, and Annie's only note requests prayer for Natalie at this time because she is dying.

My mp3 problems are minor inconveniences. My noisy office is something I can easily embrace and cope with.

Anyway -- I am off to the office. This entry was started at 7am and now I just have to upload it and get going. The truck is pre-heated. The dog is fed. Let the day begin.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tot Finder

totfinderThis morning on the way to work I was behind a Salvation Army truck. The kind that goes around when people call the SalArmy to ask them to come over and pick up stuff that they can't be arsed to drive to the donation center themselves.

And I saw this Tot Finder sticker on the back of the truck and it brought back some memories. I had one of these in my bedroom window, so did my sister.

When we were growing up, my parents would bring us to the annual firemen's demonstration night. They gave big speeches about fire safety, and then set fire to a car or a temporary building to show off their training and skill. It was usually pretty exciting, especially for the ten and under set. To see the firemen set fire to a building, and then watch them use their ladders, hatchets, hoses and stuff to fight the fire once it was fully raging was pretty cool.

Each year, I recall people walking away with these reflective window stickers and in the dark of the parking lot, headlights danced across them as they were held in the hands of the tot that may have to be found one day. The stickers are meant to be seen when the fire department hits a blazing house with a search light. Through the smoke and the insanity, the Tot Finder sticker will beckon out "There's a kid in here! This room is priority! Come help him or her now!"

As a child, I would ride in the car and see a Tot Finder in a window and think "Whew! That kid will be rescued, just like I'll be rescued if my house ever catches fire and I'm trapped up in my room!"

I had no safety route out of my bedroom. It was the only bedroom in the house that didn't have a porch roof below it, just a 20 or so foot drop to sure calamity. Honestly, looking back it was one of the things that scared me the most and actually kept me up at night.

Both my parents smoked. And it is no exaggeration to say my dad would often drink a lot. I feared on many nights that they both would fall asleep with their cigarettes dangling out of the corners of their mouths almost like a cartoon character would, and the falling cigarettes would ignite the house. They'd be burned to a crisp and my sister and I would be trapped upstairs. She could climb out onto the porch roof and maybe slink down to safety. I would be doomed to a smoky or flaming death!

... but I had a Tot Finder sticker, and it gave me great comfort.

I would sit on my toybox and look down out of my window and think of how bad it would hurt if I had to jump in an emergency situation. And I would thank the Tot Finder sticker for the sure beacon it would send out to the fire department search lights. I knew they'd come save me so I didn't have to fall and die.

Sometimes I would sit in the window and stare through the sticker where the street light from across the road hit it, and read REDNIF TOT and trace the helmet and bodies that were shining through on the other side. I would feel a sense of relief.

You can still buy these stickers, but according to the US Fire Administration (USFA), they don't support the program any longer for three big reasons. From their website:

  • One, there is no assurance that during a fire evacuation, a child will be in the room where the sticker is posted;
  • Two, many fire departments do not have the capability to keep current information on residences that have Tot Finder stickers nor do many families alert the fire department if they have moved; and,
  • Three, individuals in some areas do not like to identify rooms where a child may be located because of the fear that someone may be able to more easily victimize a child.

Number three never crossed my mind as a kid, but as an adult I know I've driven down the street and thought to myself "There's a siren call out to a pedophile if ever there was one." One of the things I found so reassuring as a child now seemed sinister and irresponsible.

I don't think my parents left the stickers in the windows once we were grown. I think they eventually peeled and dried out, and were removed from the pane long ago. My parents have moved from where I grew up, but in my mind's eye, I still see the sticker in each of the two second storey windows and it reminds me that my parents cared enough to put them there after seeing a fire demonstration one night in the 1970s.

On the back of this Salvation Army truck though, all I could think was "I doubt there's a kid in there."

Jess got the part that she wanted in the play. Thank you for the emails and questions. Cast list was supposed to be posted on Friday, but she delayed it until Monday, and then last night I just didn't have time to write, what with birthday dinner and all.

Doug's Birthday dinner was good. We went to Joe Fish in North Andover and it was very tasty. Hardly anyone was there, I guess Monday night is not a popular dining out night so we had the place pretty much to ourselves. The kids were pretty well behaved. My dinner was spectacular, but the one scallop that Doug shared with me gave me dinner envy. I should have had the scallops. Such is life. We talked about school and work and what we're reading. Geoff was tired and cranky, so we left without dessert and I think were all asleep by 9:30.

I guess that's about it. Oh -- one other thing. If you're a BNL fan, and you have iTunes (or don't yet have iTunes) BNL's iTunes Originals was released today. $11.99 for live recordings that they did in studio this past fall, mixed with a couple previously released tunes, and a mess of funny banter from Ed and Steve. It's a must have. I highly recommend it. If you're not yet really familiar with the band, I think it is a nice sampling, and the banter is very good... explains a lot about how they got where they are today. So go download it. I'm BNL's official pimp.

Have a great night.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Happy Birthday Doug!

Today, Doug turns 38. He's younger than I am, yes. I know. I'm a cradle robber like that. I met Doug when he was 18. And twenty years later, I'm still the happier for it. Tonight we'll trundle the kids out to a restaurant. Doug will eat his choice of dinner... the birthday haver always gets to pick the restaurant; even if everyone else objects it is where we go. Before he left today for work he made a hint as to his choice for the meal and I'm happy with what he's picked. I'm really looking forward to it. In fact, I plan on leaving work early so I can grab him a little gift and get home and head out to eat before it gets too late in the evening.

The biggest birthday gift that Doug could have received was the Steelers Victory over the Denver Broncos last night. Apologies to Nance. I can't believe they spanked the Broncs as badly as they did... it seems as if the Broncos didn't even show up to play. They must have exhausted themselves last week beating the Patriots. Jerks. I would have loved a Pats/Steelers AFC championship game.

But, whatever. Doug was thrilled with their game, how great they played... and he's looking forward to the Super Bowl with great glee. I knew the Seahawks were going to make it into the Super Bowl after the beginning of the season -- they're unbelievable. This should actually be a good game.

doug jack action 2This weekend we did a ton of geocaches. I think we hit five of six on Saturday, and four of five on Sunday. It felt incredibly good to get back out and into the field. The dog had a great time running like a maniac, and I think I took 100 pictures of him. They're all up in Flickr if you want to go see.

My hips hurt really bad (no, not my lips. I'm not Napoleon Dynamite and I don't need my chapstick) from the walking. I think I'm just miserably back out of shape due to the lack of real exercise over the past few months. Hopefully they'll start feeling better as the spring progresses. If it progresses.

Another sure sign that it is Doug's birthday is the fact that we're sure to get sleet or snow on the 23rd. "It wouldn't be my birthday without a blizzard" says Doug. And he's right. Last year at this time we got 30 inches. Today, we're only going to get about 1/10th of that, but still... it's snowing. You can set your calendars to it in these parts.

I just got back in from taking Geoff to the bus stop and man is it coming down. At 6am, when they make decisions to close school, there was a scant dusting of snow. We now have 2 inches. And it is coming down to beat the band. I could barely see walking back here.

When the bus came, she was going about 4 miles an hour, much to the joy of the people behind her I'm sure. When she approached the stop, she applied her brakes 20 to 30 ft away from our stop and slid the rest of the way forward. She's a great bus driver, she's been doing it for years and years... and she knew in order to get the bus to stop AT the stop she needed to apply the laws of large yellow bus vs. wet slick icy asphalt. She did it perfectly, but it was really scary to watch a bus just skate down the street. While I know she has mad skill, I don't feel at all well about kids being on busses in this type of condition.

But they decide based on the forecast, and the forecast is that the snow will start getting heavy around 9am (liars) and will stop around 3 and hopefully all the roads will be cleared before the busses need to roll (not bloody likely), and expected accumulations were to be 3-5 inches. We already have 2 and it is just getting started. If we get an inch an hour between now and say noon, that's another 5 inches for a total of 7. It doesn't look like it is letting up.

Seeing the situation as it is, I would have liked a snow day or a delay of start by 90 minutes. There isn't enough really to plow, and everyone is trying to get to work and you know they're running late and being behind a big yellow bus going 4 miles an hour makes them upset and drive faster.

But the schools are damned if they do, damned if they don't. Had they cancelled class and the snow stops at 9, with 2 inches on the ground, parents would freak. So this time they don't cancel class, and it is snowing like it's its job. And parents (like me) are not happy.

Screwed comin' and goin'.

My neighbors both drove their kids to school, with adds to the insanity because now there are 10,000 cars dropping their kids off and the busses can't get into the driveway.

I'm glad I put the boy on the bus. I just hope it's safe and alright, and if they mark him tardy (the bus arrived at the time school is supposed to start, so I guarantee they got there 15 minutes late) I will be displeased.

Oh -- Jess was happy school wasn't cancelled today because they post the cast list today. We find out what role she got... after school. She told me she wasn't going to call me and that I'd have to wait. Pfth. Big Blue Meanie!

And now I need to go drive to work. Pray for me. I want to come home and go out to dinner tonight.

Have a good, safe day.

Friday, January 20, 2006


In the office yesterday morning, we all gave ourselves promotions. J, M, C and I were talking about how we all get along pretty well, so I said "Fine, let's run the company. We can be the CE or F or I or whatever O and get along and take corporate retreats on the shareholder dime."

C said "Oh, I'm not the CFO. I'm the CFUO." and we thought that was funny. So I had to share.

Not much to report, I'm just taking a second out to throw up (heh) an entry. Jess survived the History hand-in well, and then picked up her English midterm and found she'd bombed it in a huge way. Got a 52. She was devastated, but I think she'll recover. We had a huge discussion about what happened, how it happened, and how it won't happen again. I thought about punishment, but I think she beat the heck out of herself over it, so why pile on the misery.

Really, I got nothin' else this morning. The truck is preheating, I need to stop for gas, so I oughta skedaddle. I just wanted to say hi.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

BZZZZZZZ! You're Late!

At 7:25 this morning, Jessica rushed into my room yelling. I didn't know what the hell she was talking about, because I was fast asleep. Eventually I understood the words "overslept" "bus" and the dreaded "late." She was still in her pyjamas, so I instructed her to go get dressed, and that Dad has a dentist appointment across town there and can drive her to school. She immediately started to get upset.

"I have a quarterly exam that has to be turned in at 7:35am. I'm going to get a zero."

Mind you, it was 7:20.

"Honey, there is no way on earth I can get you there by 7:35. Just go get dressed and I'll email your teacher. I'll see if you're truly receiving a zero or if you'll just get a lower grade."

"But it's pointless now. I'm going to get a zero. I did all that work this weekend. I'm going to fail."

I'm not sure as a parent what can or should be said to a kid in this situation.

And this comes down to a lesson learned and an applied belief from my little world view -- Accept Personal Responsibility.

Without a doubt in the world, it is Jessica's fault that she is late for school and no one else's. All year long, she has managed her waking and getting to bed schedule flawlessly. Last night, we played Boggle until 10pm and we both went to bed. She very rarely goes to bed before 10pm, so it isn't like she stayed up late or I kept her up late with the Boggle Action.

If she had come to me at 7:10, I may have been able to help her out. But at 7:20, when school is 20 minutes across town with morning traffic, honey. There ain't no thing can be done bout that.

She owns this mistake.

That is a sad thing to have to learn sometimes. For a kid who has been so incredibly dutiful and responsible, to drop the ball on a very important morning is crushing. I've been incredilby proud of her all year. Normally I walk out into the livingroom at 6:45 and there she sits with a book and her watch on her knee so she knows when it is 6:59 and can leave for the bus without being too early. I can hear my tenant's daughter running around upstairs throwing things, looking for her shoes at 6:59 most mornings, while my daughter quietly and calmly walks out the door. All year she's been just about perfect.

But this mistake...she owns it.

As a parent, I don't see the point in arguing with her teacher if she gets a zero... and I don't believe I will. She owns the grade as well. If that is his grading policy, she can have a good cry, but she needs to own it. Hopefully she embraces her mistake and lets it be a tattoo on her memory, and I'll be incredibly extra proud of her.

When she was in fifth or sixth grade she was out sick for most of a week. She had a science test that she needed to take at the end of the week, and even with the homework that was sent home for her, it wasn't enough knowledge for her to pull off a decent grade. She failed the test.

The teacher asked her if she wanted a little more time and a retake. She refused it. "That's the grade I earned, that's the grade I deserve." We tried to convince her that when a teacher gives you a gift of opportunity, of mulligan, of do-over, you should take it. She had a staunch personal belief that she got what she deserved.

We'll see how things go this afternoon. If she's that same person, or if she has a breakdown. If she has a breakdown -- all I can do is offer condolence and "life lesson learned" speeches, and offer to take her to a real tattoo parlor to get the zero tattooed to her ass.

On top of all this, she's got a voice audition today, and she's hopefully going to overcome this morning's blow and get in there and take care of it. I hope she didn't miss it by being late for school, because it was first period, and that was pretty much her only shot.

Send Jess some mojo today, will ya? I think she can use it. I can't make a teacher change a grade, one that we don't even know she's got yet, but I can send her good vibes, prayers, mojo and love from around the corners of the globe.


Update: 8:40am
I just got email from her teacher saying she'll get full credit, no worries. Whew. I bet she'll be incredibly relieved.

Life's lesson learned.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Joy and Sadness...

I will save my joy about the Steelers' win and disappointment for the Patriots' lost for the end. Because Jo has been tapping her feet, awaiting the photos and update, I'm here to share that first... Hello. Good afternoon. The pictures are up on flickr.com, and you can start at this one and use the previous to step back. It was quite an adventure. Let me tell you (and I of course will).

Doug and I finished cleaning the room at about 1pm, leaving three bookcases in the nooky corner, and I think I'm going to call my friend Wayne (the one who made the TV built-in for us a couple years back) to have him build-in a floor to ceiling bookcase along one of the nooky walls, and leave the fat short one on the opposite side. But that is neither here nor there.

When last you left me, I was blogging for a moment before going back in to do the final task -- vacuum. To my horror, I discovered that the belt had broken on the brushy part of the vacuum cleaner. And we had several dogs worth of dog hair on the floor, and I wanted it out of there. We quickly diagnosed the problem, and Doug tried to McGuyver something with a stick of gum, a bra strap and some duct tape (really, a plastic pull-tie but it's funnier because he himself said the other ingredients to the attempted mix) but to no avail.

Being my hero, he ran to the hardware store and was lucky to discover they had a packet of two belts which would fit our appliance. He rushed home, got it in there and boy howdy -- it worked like a charm. We vacuumed, and now realize we need to shampoo the carpet because it looks so incredibly assy. Had we planned ahead a few more days, I may have been able to achieve that. But. You know me. Last Minute Mary. I spot cleaned a few places, and the guys arrived with the truck.

They brought everything in, unloaded, and began to set up. They quickly realized that attaching the mirror to the dresser where it belongs would be impossible. Our bedroom is too short. Nice. So they showed Doug how to wire it up to attach to a wall, and told him to position it just behind the bureau so it will be best used and not get damaged. Curses. We said we'd figure it out once we got a clue (and got the carpets cleaned) and would worry about it later. The guys were gone before four.

Then we all took turns on the Tempurpedic Mattress, with Geoff discussing his horrible back pain and bed envy. Jess liked it and calls it Marshmellow world. Sure. Doug and I looked at the mattress and I ascertained that none of our fitted sheets were going to fit. The mattress appeared to me to be too tall (10 inches compared to the puny five inches of our last one) and I determined that I ought to go buy sheets.

Jess and I went up to Salem NH and went sheet shopping. The girl there told me that our regular queen sheets would indeed fit the mattress because queen sheets are designed to fit up to 14 inches high. But I figured while I was there I ought to buy one nice set of sheets for the super new bed and mattress. We picked out a set of pale blue sheets, and I went to look at comforters.

Doug's mom had bought us a comforter set for a wedding gift way back in the day (1991) and we're still using it. It was made for a full-size bed, and we're up to a queen. I always feel like Doug's got the most of the comforter, and my butt is hanging out freezing. I figured, this new bed is really tall -- I'm going to buy a KING comforter! So I went to look and everything was too fru-fru for my liking. A lot of white comforters, which does not bode well when you have a 70lb black furry beast who will be spending his days upon said comforter while everyone else is out.

accent pillowsI finally found a nice blue dealie that wasn't too fru fru nor was it too manly (and let me tell you -- the comforter excuse for too manly is manly fru fru. I didn't want that either).

I stood there thinking to myself, do I actually go for pillow shams now?

Oh dear Lord. I've become that person! A few days ago, I had mentioned the Seinfeld Episode where Jerry is worried about having orgy friends because with orgy friends there comes this whole new lifestyle, and new clothing and a smoking jacket, and a moustache! And I likened buying a new bedroom set to getting orgy friends -- I'd suddenly need and/or want accessories. So I quelled the desire to sham and bedskirt, and bought two little accent pillows to go with. They are pictured here, with a small boy. I figured, that's as far as I'd go.

Until I found myself looking at curtains, and wondering what color I wanted to paint my walls.

So yes -- I've become that person. I'm NOT that person in real life. I hate curtains because they are one more thing you have to take care of in life, they gather dust, they get in the way of things, I don't like taking them down or putting them up then taking them down again -- so I've never had curtains. I remember it being an issue for mom, and she'd bitch and complain and the rod would be bent or suddenly wouldn't fit or something -- and I didn't want to ever have to deal with that.

Will I subject myself to this? Yeah. I probably will.

In the meantime, the first night on the bed was great. I woke up and my hips didn't hurt for the first time in years. Doug said that he thinks the whole commercial with people sleeping through the night when their spouses get out of bed is a lie because he felt me get up both times I did. And I said there's no way someone jumping on the bed at one end would NOT spill a glass of red wine all over the place. Aside from the lies in advertising that we saw through in the first place, the bed is comfortable, and I like it, and I'm glad we bought the entire set.

Now I have to figure out the layout, the shampooing and whether or not curtains and paint are in the near future.

And now for the football. Apologies right up front to those of you who hate football. But this is something that needs said.

Y'all know in this house we love the Patriots and the Steelers. I am relieved that in next week's AFC championship game they won't get to face one another again. Relief comes with disappointment though.

I am disappointed in the Patriots. I think they played like horribly, and after the strong finish they had this year (after a slow and painful start) I thoroughly expected them to spank the Denver Broncos. It seems they under estimated that team, and so did all the fans here. Hats off to the Broncos for a hard fought season, and I hope you lose next week.

My good friend Rob from High School and I were talking yesterday and he told me that he doesn't hate the Patriots, he's just sick of them winning.

That's funny coming from a Yankees fan. Now he knows how the rest of the baseball world feels all the time when the stupid Yankees win left and right. I pointed that out to him and he tried to argue that it is different, but it isn't. The Pats have become the Yankees of Football. The team to hate... Doug said they are to football today what the 49ers in the 90s were, and the Steelers of the Franco Harris era. The team that wins all the time, and everyone loves to hate. The Cinderella story with the first win, and by the third or fourth everyone is sick of them already and they want it to be "someone else's turn to win!"

The Patriots have been a formidable foe to just about anyone who has crossed their path. Tom Brady was unstoppable, until last night, with 10 straight post season wins. Better luck next year though, boys. I'm glad Tedy Bruschi is back on the field, and I hope that 2005-6 season brings just as much fun and excitement.

The Steelers really did scare the pants off me today. I couldn't believe they were winning so handily going into the third quarter, and then they came so close to blowing it. The Colts played like ass for the entire first half, it was like they thought the Steelers would show up with a running game and forgot to prepare their secondary and the holes, and Ben Roethlisberger just threw the ball straight in, non-stop, with no Colt defenders there to try and stop his receivers. It was a spectacular first half. Third was harsh, and then suddenly there in the fourth Peyton and the boys are clicking left and right.

Troy Polamalu was completely robbed of the interception in the fourth quarter -- I couldn't believe for a second that they overturned that and took it away from him. And that made for some scary football.

And Jerome Bettis fumbling on the .5 yard line on his way into the endzone was the hardest thing I've ever had to watch. The Colts could tie it with a field goal, and there they were with a kicker who has never missed at home...

and he missed.

17 seconds left on the clock, the Steelers win. That was a gift. Next week I hope they are prepared for Mile High and the Broncos.

Alright -- enough football (writing, that is. I'm going to go do dishes and then watch the Bears of all teams... who would have thought they'd get into the playoffs and look like they actually may win!)

more later!

Friday, January 13, 2006

"Are you a Springsteen Fan?"

Thank you for the mojo. Jess' play auditions went incredibly well. On Tuesday she has vocal/singing auditions in the chorus class for the specific role she wants. I guess the character she wants has to sing (Crazy German Opera Singers usually do). And she can sing -- that's not a problem. She's decided to sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," and will do it with operatic flair. The girl does have a sense of humor, no?

Continue your mojo and prayers if you will for our boy Aaron. He still hasn't found a job out in Washington, which sucks because I know he'd like to stay there. But here's an opportunity for ya -- Jess informed me the other day that her science teacher up and quit, or was released. This is the second science teacher this year.

The first one left under a veil of secrecy. Jess said the rumors were that he had a nervous breakdown. Not sure if that is true or not. So I had informed Aaron about that opening, he'd pretty much just gotten to Washington and was settling in, so he passed. A few weeks went by and they still didn't have a teacher lined up. So I called the school to ask what was going on. The assistant principal, nicest lady ever, told me that they had a teacher picked and his start date was in another week. So Aaron missed on that chance. They didn't receive a lot of applicants for the job, and it was rather disappointing for Jess to go several weeks without a teacher.

So it happens again -- vacancy. Same position. Same job. He's eminently qualified for it, the only obstacles are

a) he's in Washington
b) he's not licensed/certified in Massachusetts

He called the Assistant Principal to talk to her, let her know that he's willing to move back east, that he's willing to obtain licensure, that he's incredibly qualified, and more than willing. She wanted his resume immediately in order to take it to the superintendent. He sent that over to her. If they can "get over" as Doug and I put it, the fact that he is not licensed yet in MA, they could have a replacement teacher immediately. Or, they could show my kid and her classmates more Bill Nye the Science Guy videos for 3 or 4 weeks while substitutes and other science teachers in the district attempt to pick up the slack.

I say, hire Aaron. What do you say?

Doug and I talked about it last night, and we know what he can do, what kind of work he can do, the kind of person he is. And I said that other parents start ground swells for stuff they want. I can make a stink too. Hire him as a "long term substitute" the way they do for maternity leave. It's January for Crying Out Loud. Bring him here, get him in, and he can kick start his licensure through Salem State.

So -- pray for the right plan to fall into place. He needs a job. He needs it now. This is cookie-cutter perfect. And we can find a place for him to live, we can find somewhere for him to sleep, we can do those things and more.

Thanks for your continued care.

Geoff has a half day at school today, and then on Monday they've got the day off.

I am staying home this morning and when his bus gets here we will rush down to Salem to have lunch with Brian, Ben and Dan (and probably Peg) and then go to my office for a while... Doug will come to my office at about 3 and get Geoff for me, and then I'll be able to continue working. Over the next couple of weeks my job is changing and shifting due to some new projects. Things have already shifted slightly onto my plate that weren't there a few weeks ago, and now I am all over it. I'm taking over some of MB's tasks as she transitions into a slightly modified position. This is all new and interesting and ... cool.

In the meantime, we've been plugging away at cleaning out our bedroom in preparation for the high holy revered furniture set. The bedroom has become the Black Hole of stuff for our family. Don't know what to do with it? Stick it in the corner. Geoff's outgrown clothing? Yeah, I'll put it in a bag and stick it in the corner and take it to the Salvation Army (in 3 years). I've gone through my bureau and purged stuff I will simply never wear again. I've got old negatives and old pictures that will be boxed and placed in storage probably in the cabinets up above the computer here. There are piles of books, neatly stacked and organized, which will go onto bookcases that I'll get once the bedroom set is in there. The place will finally look like I wanted it to look when we bought the house 10 years ago.

I'm getting a lot done, and the bedroom set will be here sometime tomorrow, and so I'm pressed for time. Having the half day at this point is great. I will get a lot done, shower, run to the grocery store and be back all in time to meet Geoff's bus.


I'm drinking some coffee and waking up a bit first. No use rushing into things all higgledy piggledy though.

You know me.

I did not watch or listen to any of the Judge Samuel Alito confirmation hearings but did hear a little exchange on the radio.

I found a great transcript webpage (Google is my friend) which has the full exchange on it, which I figured I needed to share. Reminding you all, we're trying to get to the bottom of whether or not a man is fit to serve as a justice on the supreme court, and find out what his depth of constitutional knowledge is.

From Day 3 of the confirmation hearings. Enjoy:

DURBIN: Let me ask you, if I might, to reflect on a couple other things. You're a Bruce Springsteen fan?
ALITO: I am to some degree, yes.
DURBIN: I guess most people in New Jersey would be. They should be.
ALITO: There was a movement some time ago -- we don't have an official state song and there was a movement to make "Born to Run" our official state song. But it didn't quite make it.
DURBIN: We'll stick with Lincoln in Illinois, but I can understand your commitment to Bruce Springsteen. They once asked him: How do you come up with the songs that you write and the characters that are in them? And he said, I have a familiarity with the crushing hand of fate. It's a great line.


What the hell does that have to do with ANYTHING. Seriously. "We'll stick with Lincoln in Illinois." Well good for you, ya moron. Go march down the street to it while waving a big flag in the air. Knock yourself out. Who. Cares.

They wasted breath and time with crap lines of questioning like this. Let's find out if he's a Springsteen fan just because he's from New Jersey. They didn't ask him if he liked the Rolling Stones. They didn't ask him if he liked Bon Jovi. No. Springsteen.

What would Durbin have said, I wonder, if Alito said "No, I don't really care for Springsteen, his music, or his politics." Durbin's response is the kind of thing that college boys talk about when they ask one another if they're into certain bands "Dude, I read this interview with Green Day in Rolling Stone, and Billie Joe said..." It has nothing to do with constitutional law. Shut. UP.

Why didn't they say, "Hey, you're Italian. Do you like Pizza or Spaghetti more! Answer the question! You're a Guinea for Jersey! YOU MUST HAVE A PREFERENCE! A PRECEDENT MUST BE SET! Would you over turn a decision to serve Linguini instead of Angel Hair! Don't dodge the question! What about canolis! Chocolate or Plain! YOU MUST DECIDE!"

Someone please hand Durbin a cocktail and tell him to go wait in the corner for Ted Kennedy and they can talk about their favorite rock stars for a few hours, and the "Glory Days" of their wasted and lost youth, and hopefully some other senators can step up and ask some relevant questions.

This is one of those little things that makes me want to run my car off a bridge.

Anyway -- I've spent too much time goofing off this morning. I have Things! To! Do! So I'd best get to them. More later friends. Have a super Friday.

Go blog that!

Long time readers know that I am not the greatest housekeeper. Part of my problem, I'll admit it here, is the rest of my family's inability to throw anything away. Chief among them, my husband. I love him beyond all compare. But the boy is useless when it comes to parting with stuff.

homecoming 93"NO! Don't throw that 1998 National Review Magazine away! I might need the article on Why Saddam is our Bestest Friend Ever in the Middle East!"

"What are you doing in there? You better not be touching my stuff!" He yells from the livingroom while sitting next to the thigh-deep pile of junk mail we've received in the last month, most of which is addressed to him, because he subscribed to National Review in 1998.

Once a year I make an effort to purge my life of stuff I no longer use... Doug will see me leaving the house with a plastic bag marked "Donation" and he gets all upset. "What is that, what are you giving away?"

In the bag: Washed and bleached underpants that don't fit our kids anymore, pairs of socks that are too small for both our kids, t-shirts the Geoffinator has outgrown.

"This T-shirt from the Pittsburgh Zoo is one of my favorites! Don't we have a friend we can pass this down to."

"No. This is too small for every single one of our friends' kids (not true) so give it!" I grab it back, shove it in the bag and RUN.

"My dad bought Jessica that shirt! You can't just give it away!"

Oh yes I can.

So the new bedroom set is scheduled to arrive today between 1pm and 4pm. I just thought I'd take this moment to do exactly what Doug said I would do. "You're going to blog this, aren't you?"


He went through the bureau and all the allergy-inducing, sneeze-causing, dustbunny-releasing madness that went with. And he finished. I need to vacuum and then the bed can come.

Pictures forthcoming. I really just wanted to share the picture of the T-shirt that Doug received from the college we attended. It was given to him as thanks for working at Homecoming that year, a task he was required to do... he didn't do it as a favor and all he got was a shirt.

I'm using it to dust the baseboards.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Break a leg

Jess has play auditions this afternoon. They are doing two plays this spring and they are going to a competition. She wants the role of Crazy German Opera Singer in the first play. Send her mojo between 2 and 4pm.

And so now it begins again, the leaving work early, getting babysitters for Geoff, the "who has what kid and when" and "no I didn't know rehearsal was out at five instead of four" juggling game that we go through each time she's participating. Hopefully K is participating and if her mom isn't too swampped I can get her to grab a boy or a girl here and there and help out.

It's a pain in the arse to be sure. But. I do it only for her continued happiness and well being. No other reason. Well. That and I like the leaving work early bit.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Happy Birthday Geoff

So my son turned nine yesterday. And it dawned on me that this is the fourth birthday that has passed for him since I started this journal. Which boggles my mind. Half his life so far (almost) in blog format. How. Auspicious.

geoff is 9 cake and candle 2We went to see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe yesterday and took one of his cub scout buddies with us. The movie portion of things went just fine. But at lunch the boys got cranked up on caffeine, didn't eat their lunch, got really gross in the restaurant, and Doug and I both decided without speaking that ordering cake would be an incredibly bad idea. So we packed up and brought Geoff's friend home, and headed down to Grandma's to watch the Pats game, have dinner with the grandparents, and have cake there.

It was a much easier to deal with scene, and I'm incredibly glad we didn't have a full-blown party with 9 or 10 boys here. A small gathering of kids and a movie is one thing, but I am not mentally in a position to throw that boy a party. Is it just boys this age that are difficult? Friday evening we had cub scouts and it was out of control. It is like they get together and totally forget they are humans or that adults are present. They become like a pack of feral animals. And they all get in huge trouble. And the following week, they do it again.

By Saturday afternoon I was so exhausted I thought my head would just simply implode, explode or possibly disintegrate and vaporize entirely. I didn't even get any good pictures of him for his 9th birthday. Seems like a total let down and rip off.

Anyway -- I loved the Narnia movie. I felt they stuck incredibly close to the exact story, with a few dialogue exceptions. Doug and I were afraid they'd wuss out with the symbolism to Christ and the sacrifice on the stone table. I loved the white witch, especially at the battle.

There was a family behind us with three really little kids, in the three to five year age range. I cringed when I came in and saw them. I had a bad feeling about them being there, knowing what was going to happen in the story, and hoping for my viewing pleasure the movie was as graphic as the book would be. To be honest, I really don't know if I would have taken either of my kids to this movie at that age.

My suspicions rang true. When Aslan made his appearance, walking out of the tent, I heard all three of them gasp. I turned around and they were beaming. The little girl said "Oh! He talks and he is beautiful!" And I instantly felt like crying. I was swept with this desire to grab all of them and run outside with them saying "Yes, he is a really pretty lion. Let's remember him that way, shall we?" But I knew they would need to see what was coming. And they did.

They were WAILING when Aslan makes his sacrifice. They sat there and wept openly, tears running down their faces and crying out loud and everything. The mom was trying to comfort them while the stupid dad sat there and did NOTHING and I wanted to smack him. Hold the kids! Tell them to watch what happens. Tell them to wait a few minutes, to listen, to know. Ugh. It was hard.

Geoff knew what happens because he was familiar with the story. He did sit there kind of stunned and sad, but "I know it'll all be okay soon. I know the story" was what he said to me.

Eventually, the stone table is broken, Aslan returns, and the kids behind me stop weeping. By the end of the film (I'm hopefully not spoiling this for you, am I?) when the crowns are presented, the little girl in the family is standing up, holding the seat in front of her, beaming as each crown is set, knowing this is a happy ending after such suffering.

I still wanted to kick the father on the way out though.

While it was brilliantly done story-wise. I have a couple of technical complaints that I wish to air here, and I wish that movie makers would stop doing these things because they piss me off.

First: Mr. Tumnus plays a musical instrument. You've seen the scene a million times before in a million other movies. In every single damn movie where someone plays a musical instrument, I wish to high heaven in the name of all that is good and pure that someone, somewhere would make the fingers on the freaking instrument GO WITH THE SOUND OF THE MUSIC. Fingers moving when no notes are changing. Fingers not moving when notes are going up and down. Mouthpiece between lips where it is obvious no blowing is happening to allow air to move through the instrument to make such noise. We are not stupid. We can tell he's faking it, whether it's a flute, a guitar, a piano. Stop. It. Get a clue. It looks like crap. And it ruins the scene. For heaven's sake -- get an instrument and a musician, and film some fingers playing the right damn tune. Stop pissing me off.

Second: When someone is riding in a sled across an open field at high speed, please add some freaking wind to make that person's hair move around, or blow on the person's face so they squint like they're getting hit in the face with cold nasty wind. The manes on the horses move because of the wind, but the hair on the rider or on the passenger of the sledge isn't moving. Fake fake fake fake! Crappy crappy crappy. Stop pissing me off.

Third: Snow melts when it hits flesh. I know the snow is a figurative metaphor in Narnia, as a literary tool it symbolizes imprisonment, death, hibernation, lack of growth. But it's also snow for God's sake. Make it melt instead of sitting on shoulders looking like dandruff.

Fourth: See above for the fact that if it is freezing, and characters are standing there in pyjamas saying "I'm FREEZING," and everyone knows it is cold -- take the time to either film the action IN the cold, or, take the time to CGI in some FREAKING BREATH coming out of the mouths of the speakers. How hard is that? They can make a lion's mane waft in the breeze like a glorious wheatfield, but they can't add in freeze breath? Stop. Pissing. Me. Off.

Enough about what I found fault with -- overall it was a great movie. I'd see it again, and I really hope this team makes the rest of the books into movies, because they are tremendous tales and wonderful stories and I love them. This was done well enough that I bet Lewis himself might not have hated it.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Lambert! Could you show these twenty good people the dog kennels, please?

The title has meaning. Trust me. But first, we begin our first journal entry of 2006 with a view of ass in a window, with special guest, Amy.

amy pointing assAs Amy and I were exiting the office building today, I noticed (yet again) that there are people using the gym. Which is all fine and good. But what strikes me daily when I leave the building is that the stair climber equipment is right in the second floor window, and the users of said equipment have backs turned to the window. They are facing into the gym...

which means all I see upon walking out of my office after a long day is a window full of ass. Nice. Hey! Lookie here! Ass! Ass! More Ass! Hurrah!

I'm thinking, I would rather have the machines turned around if I were using them because I'd like to look at the world. There are big TV screens across from the machines so I guess people like watching those. I wonder if they are oblivious to the fact that they offer the world a gorgeous view of posterior every day.

Morning, noon and night, no matter what time of day I leave my office, I've got full-blown assview. Amy assisted me this evening in taking some nice pictures, so you can share the joy of ass vista as well. I hope you appreciate it. I know you don't come here for the political witticisms and the movie reviews. You come for my rants and raves about ass. I keep you satisfied, don't I? Yes I do.

close up pointing to ass

Now, the title. We bought a bed last night and no one put a paper bag over his head and required his co-workers to stand in a fish tank and sing "Jerusalem" (MPFC fans, I'm sure you think this every time you go bed shopping). I giggled the entire time and thought about being one of the twenty good people willing to spend eight hundred pounds on a sixty foot long mattress. Or, a dog kennel as it were.

We have a bed. We bought it from a guy selling them on the side of the road out of a storage container in Portsmouth NH in 1997 for 300 dollars. The bed, over time, has gone down hill. And so we decided that it was time. High time. And we went out last night and spent way more money than I ever imagined we'd spend on any type of home furnishings.

I guess mentally I'm still in college. I am accustomed to hand me downs, buying used stuff from friends who are moving away, buying used stuff from the Salvation Army or Craig's List or Yard Sales. I never in a million years imagined I'd pay a ton and a half of money for a mattress, box spring and bedroom set. That's right, not only did we go get the mattress and box spring that we needed, we dove in head first and swam the length of the pool. We got a bedframe, head and footboard, bureau with mirror, tall chest of drawers and two bedside tables. It all matches and looks very nice. And now I need to buy new sheets.

While we were shopping I was thinking of the old Seinfeld episode where he was talking about getting orgy friends, and how that brings all sorts of complications because once you have these friends, now you have to go out and accessorize with the clothing and the mustache and the smoking jacket. I kind of feel the same way, not because I have orgy friends but because now I need to go buy the accessories. I need nice bedside lamps for reading, I need sheets that fit because our old mattress was 7 inches high and this one is about 3 feet tall. I need a new comforter. Do I go with some sort of bed skirt? What is a schwag!? What is a schwag!? Oh dear. I'm going to pass out.

After 15 years of marriage (almost, not quite) we now will have a bedroom set. A suite as it were. And this also means that our bedroom needs to be gutted and cleaned and the carpet shampooed. Here I go again with the orgy friends...

Doug is not fond of big projects. Those who know him, know him well, and know that this one will be a big project. He has been a bear about this, and I may end up with a tantrum or an aneurysm before the delivery date of January 14th, but so help me, I'll have a new bed.

I guess that's about it. I took a bunch of pictures in Marblehead including Amy making friends with a window dog at a pastry school (Jo, are you familiar with the Delphin's Gourmandise pastry school?)

On that note, go see flickr, and for the sake of all that is good and pure, keep your ass out of windows.