Sunday, July 30, 2006

I Heart Hot Moms!

There is a backstory to the title, don't worry.

Last night Jess and I met Linda and Ronnie for the Dave Matthews Band concert at the Meadows in Hartford CT. A good time was had by all, with plenty of opportunity to watch drunk assed idiots behaving like assclowns in public. Read on. Read on, gentle reader...

jennifer glassJess and I got to the Meadows at about 5:30, shortly after the gates were opened. I had seen online that Virginia Coalition would be playing the side stage before the show and I wanted to check them out.

Instead, Jennifer Glass was playing. She was okay, but trying way WAY too hard to be Sheryl Crow. Little black dress, cowboy boots... the whole scene. The thing is that she is more cross-country than pop, so she was far more listenable (long time readers know that I do not enjoy Sheryl Crow).

Her band was fantastic. I really enjoyed them a lot. They did a great job. I could have watched them all night. There was a guy behind me screaming "show us your tits!" in between every number, and I found that to be probably the most unbelievably disgusting and rude thing ever. Classy.

By the way, she didn't. And good on her.

And I never did find out where VaCo were playing, so that was disappointing.

We headed to our seats while we waited for Linda and Ronnie to call and let us know they were there. We knew the opener would be starting around 7, so we were looking forward to being in our seats. I didn't want to miss this band.

America, it was hot in there last night. It was so damn hot. This is a semi-outdoor arena, with a roof and a big lawn in the back... we were inside the pavillion and the minute I walked in there I knew it was going to drive me to pay actual money for water.

The air inside the shed was just hanging -- hot and heavy and humid, like nothing I remember ever sitting in before in my life. It was brutal.

Gov't MuleWarren Haynes and Gov't Mule warmed up for DMB. Dave introduced the band himself, coming out on stage with Warren beside him, saying a few words about how much he loves this band and hopes we would too. Then he went around and hugged each and every band member -- it was like going to church, it was so beautiful and sweet and loving. Sweet enough to make me cry.

The audience was going nuts -- what audience there was inside the shed. The vast majority of people were still outside in the parking lot or outside the arena, waiting for Dave.

Those folks missed a great performance.

The Mule were awesome as ever. It would have been nice to have seen them play longer. There were a lot of Gov't Mule fans there last night -- lots of older dudes who were obvious Allman Bros/Grateful Dead fans. And lots of younger hippie kids with their "got mule?" gear on. It was a really good time.

And now for the intermission and the hilarity that ensued while we waited for Dave. The title of this entry comes from a t-shirt that a guy three rows ahead of us was wearing.

He was this weird looking guy, kinda short and pudgy with weird puffy lips and thinning hair. He was rather drunk in the early moments of the show. He and all his buddies were hanging out and gabbing with people and the entire time he's facing us and he had this stupid "I heart hot moms" t-shirt on. They were talking about all kinds of randomness, like how his wife was home with their two month old baby, and that's why he hearts hot moms, because she's all hot and whatnot.

Quietly I wondered if she had a t-shirt that said I <3>

They were hi-fiving everyone who showed up to sit behind them, like it was some sort of a class reunion. There's a lot of this behavior at Dave shows, or jam-band shows that I've noticed. People just show up to their seats, and people who are already seated in the area are like "Hey!" and they go for the hi-five, like they've known each other for years, when in reality, this is the first time they've ever met. More oft than not the newcomers reciprocate and don't leave a brother hanging. Sometimes the return hi-five is not enthusiastic or interested. Other times the dude is like "Alright! Yeah!" and the Fives get spread all around.

After a while, some guys came by and I missed what went down between the I heart hot moms guy and the two white t-shirt backward baseball hat abercrombie guys, but it got ugly fast.

Mister I heart hot moms was held back by security and two of his friends, and the two other guys walked away, mouthing off over their shoulders from a distance, knowing that if they threw down, they'd be thrown out. Neither of them were drunk, so it was obvious they had their common sense chips firmly in place and they headed out to their seats without incident.

Mister hot mom lover was not satisified. They were holding him back as he's screaming and yelling and getting all out of control. I thought for sure security would politely escort his hot mom lovin' ass out of there.

The woman behind me and I were trying to figure out what happened, it happened so fast. I said that I bet he went for a hi-five and these guys left him hanging, and he wanted revenge.

Security let him stay once his friends sat him down, and...

they handed him another beer.

Excellent idea, guys! When your drunkassed friend is so incredibly drunk so early in the night that he's willing to throw down on two guys who are younger, bigger and obviously more physically capable of delivering an ass kicking to some drunk jackass... put more beer into this man.

Round of applause, and here's your Darwin Award in advance because eventually you'll earn it so I may as well hand it to you now...

It was shortly after that when the girl three seats down from Jess threw up.

All this before Dave Matthews took the stage.

Dave Matthews BandDMB came on at about 8:30. Immediately, within minutes, that poor boy was drenched in sweat. Like I said, baby, it was HOT in there, and I could only imagine how big guys like Carter and Leroi were holding up on stage there... wow.

Hot. hot hot hot.

They opened with a couple of big hits among them "So Much To Say" and "Too Much." And there was plenty to love for the jam band fan when they dropped down into a 20 minute or so version of Seek Up. There were some newer songs, stuff that I wasn't familiar with off the last album because I didn't like the two radio hits so I avoided it

And they played a couple of songs that I didn't expect at all like "When the World Ends" and a new, very beautiful song (new to me, not sure if it is new to the rest of the world) called "Sister" which he played Sister by himself in the spotlight, soft and acoustic... very personal and sweet. Again, sweet enough to make me cry.

They played Say Goodbye, and then later on played #41 with Warren Haynes on guitar, followed by a long slow elongated jam that just went on and on and on and... well. Jam band style.

Then Dave said "We're gonna play some new stuff, I hope you like it." And everyone left the shed and went to the lobby for a beer. People do that whenever a guy says "We're gonna play some new stuff..." The mass exodus of people who only want to hear "What Would You Say?" or "Satellite" begins when new chords of something not yet on a CD release start flowing.

I don't remember the name of the new song but it was alright.

There was a guy in a Papelbon Red Sox jersey ahead of me was standing there screaming what song Dave was going to play next. Through. The. Entire. Show.

"Oh yeah. He's so gonna play _fill in the blank_ next. He's got the electric on. What other song could there be?"

"Oh yeah. Totally gonna play Dancing Nancies and go right into Ants Marching. Right guys? Am I right?"

"Louisiana Bayou. He's so gonna play that. Look where Stefan's standing. That's where he stands for the opening of Louisiana Bayou. That's what they did in _fill in the city name and year_ and Dave's got on the black electric."

He's yelling to people all around him, looking for confirmation. Two guys down from him there was a guy responding to every possible musical prognostication saying stuff like "Nah, he's gonna play Shotgun. He's got the little guitar out. You just watch!"

And then they'd argue. Dudes! Please! Just shut up and let Dave play what comes. Gah.

In the end though, Mr. Papelbon Shirt was right. Louisiana Bayou starts up and he sticks his hand up for the hi-five, because he was right! Yes he WAS!

Everyone left him hanging. It was kind of funny. He was so fishing for the hi-five, he ended up getting it from his girlfriend.

We went out to the lobby at the end of that song, figuring we'd wait to hear what the encore was and if it wasn't something we weren't into (ie: American Baby) we'd leave. Linda and Ronnie joined us, and indeed they didn't play American Baby but they didn't play a huge it... it was a really slow song and we could hear everything from outside. We decided we'd walk the mile back to our cars and get a jumpstart on the going while listening to the encore.

We were out of our parking spot in less then 5 minutes, and were home by 1:30am. Not too shabby.

All told, it was a really nice show. A little too far away to go, and I think that if Doug and Geoff were at least staying at a hotel up in Vernon or something waiting for me and Jess, it would have been a nicer night. A much more expensive night, but nicer nonetheless.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mighty Fine Monkey Wine

True confession time. I feel like Madonna asked me if I want to play truth or dare. Here goes. I hope I'm not the only one who does this, but...

When I buy wine, which isn't frequently, I pick a bottle based on the label. If I like the label, I buy the wine.

Please tell me you do this too.

Seriously -- I know nothing about vintners, vintages, what kind of a sauvignon is which... What's a Shiraz?

But if the label has a monkey on it, and that monkey is kind of groovy and stylized and funky, I buy the bottle of wine. I don't always buy monkey wine. Sometimes I buy something if it's got a groovy bare foot on it with some beach scene. If I'm feeling beachy in the deep summer. I've also bought stuff with bulls and birds on the label. Sometimes I feel my celtic roots and if there is a nice stylized gaelic tribal printy thingie on the label, that comes home with me.

I can honestly say it has been a long time since I bought wine that has only words on the label. Doug bought some a few months back and I looked at the label and was dismayed to see that it only had letters. And they weren't even fancy print letters in a wicked unique font. Seriously, what's he thinkin? I didn't even want to drink it. It made me sad.

I've done pretty well in my picking of wine. Monkey Bay wine came home with me a few weeks ago. It was awesome. And now I have a bottle in the fridge with a trumpet playing monkey on it called Papio or something like that, and I'm looking forward to drinking that at some point. I hope this monkey wine is as good as the last monkey wine.

If you're at all cultured, you are aghast right now and cannot believe I've made this confession. If you know my husband, who is quite the foodie and knows his stuff when it comes to the restaurant and wine worlds, you'd shake your head and ponder why he is still with me now that I've made this public.

I would never make a good sommelier. I can't even spell it.

My inlaws left yesterday afternoon and it was a very nice visit. They brought up with them several dozen things from Doug's grandmother's house as she's moved into assisted living. We have some cool crocks in one of our fireplaces now, and some nice colonial style candlesticks with globey things to go over them. For when our front rooms are put together. Doug's mother brought up the big box of vintage advertising. Now I need hooks and wire to go in the backs of the frames in order to get them hung on certain walls.

She also brought up some glasses. Doug's grandmother received these glasses as a wedding gift from her sister way back in the day.

Doug referred to them as wine glasses, but his mother corrected him and said they were water glasses from a company called Fostoria.

Doug said to me "whatever, we'll drink monkey wine out of them and call them wine glasses."

I know about as much about glass companies and their histories as I do wine, so when Doug's mother told me they were Fostoria and I didn't fall over on my side in shock and amazement she gave me this look like I had three heads.

"You DO know who Fostoria Glass is, don't you?"

uh. No.

She made sure to inform me and now I know who Fostoria Glass is and I know these glasses are worth more than the kind you get even at the nicest glassware section of the nicest homegoods store on the planet.

They'll be in the china cabinet, not in the glasses cabinet. For sure. I haven't even seen them yet, so I don't know what they look like. She packed them for transport and they're... packed. I think I have eight tons of wrapping to go through just to get to the first. They could be horribly ugly expensive glasses. Who knows.

Do not step off the blue stripe!While my inlaws were here, we went up to NH and Maine to visit old forts and enjoy the ocean. We went to Fort Stark first, and enjoyed it there greatly. Then we went to Fort Constitution closer into Portsmouth Harbor.

After 9/11 this fort was closed to public visits for a long time because the Coast Guard has its offices here. And it would obviously be a security risk to allow anyone to parade right through their parking lot and into the old fort. There would be chaos.

This blue line is painted from the parking area to the fort. There are signs all over informing visitors that they must stay on the line, they may not stray off the line, line strayers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law... etc etc etc.

You'd better believe I mocked that.
Here's a short video of me, behaving poorly, filmed by Jessica. Enjoy.
(quicktime, 1.23mb)

Anyway. I have to get a move on. Doug took Geoff to the dentist this morning for a cleaning. When we made the appointment in January it seemed so far away... now the summer is halfway over and I'm kind of stunned.

I think I may be having lunch with a friend from college today who I don't think I've seen in about 7 years. So that should be fun. More on that later.

And I guess that's about it. Have a good day in all you do. Oh! I have to remember to put the trash out. It is Wednesday already, not Monday. sigh.

Monday, July 24, 2006

New House.... first visitors

In yesterday's comments, Mr. Garfield poses a question to me. "But do you like the new house, Christine? Will you be happy here for a few years? I don't think you've said."

Guess I thought it was a given. The move in and of itself was devastatingly stressful, but I am incredibly happy to be here now that we're settling in.

Thank you for asking, Mr. Garfield.

When I think about what kinds of noises I hear in the morning here versus the noises I heard most mornings there, a smile comes to my face. Sure, it's a busy street and usually about 7am some big landscaping or dump truck drives down the road and hits a bump and I hear its massive body make a humongous, thunderous crash... but I can roll over and go back to sleep if I choose. It stops immediately, it's over and done with. It isn't a diesel truck idling next to my bedroom window for 40 minutes or someone shooting baskets at 7am while they wait for their boss to come outside.

I have yet to hear anyone screaming at someone else. I think I may be the noisy parent over here now.

Aside from the skunk visitor, the neighbors are very wonderful and nice. The people directly behind us like the dogs, and they give them dog cookies each morning, with lots of petting and love.

My friend Nancy lives across the road and her son is sweet and plays nicely with Geoff. I really enjoy her being across the road. And the dentist sure doesn't load his truck up with dental cement at 6:45am with Lynyrd Skynyrd blasting from his truck speakers.

I love our backyard, our lilies, our trees. I love our woodstove room. I love this little loft room where the computer is. Where we had the office set up in the last house was Clayton's old kitchen and it was never comfortable, had no window, really was a no-fun place to sit and get work done. This room is yellow with a blue floor and two sweet little West-facing windows which catch the gorgeous sunsets and bathe the room in glow. It gets hot in here, but the AC downstairs with a fan pointed upwards makes this comfy. And in the winter I bet it will be chilly but I sure can get the slippers out and continue to enjoy it.

So yes. I am much happier here, and I plan on us staying here for quite some time. I think until at least after Geoff is done with high-school. Even then, it'll be nice to have a bigger house to have guests if my daughter and son go on and marry and have children of their own so people have a place to sleep as guests and there isn't the stress of needing to figure out what to do with people.

Speaking of guests, our very first guests are visiting. My in-laws got here at about 4pm yesterday afternoon, and we had a really nice barbecue and visit. I think today we're off to Portsmouth for some sight-seeing. No one wants to go into Boston. Wonder why?

Anyway -- must get back to being social. Brodie slept in this morning until 7am, so I got an extra hour of sleep, and now I feel like the day is burning.

More later.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A post that took a couple of days...

What better way to spend a few moments on a pouring-down-rain kind of weekend than to update my peeps on what is happening at the old homestead.

The work week was splendid -- Geoff's summer camp bus pick up was at 7:50 each day, so I was able to get to the office by 9 most mornings, and I think I worked late three of the days because Doug was on pick-up duty. I ended up getting two full, solid weeks ahead in scheduling and most of the way through a third week. This is good because I'm taking Monday and Tuesday off next week. My inlaws are arriving sometime tomorrow to spend a few days with us.

Another great thing to do on a rainy day is clean up the house. I think that this spring and summer's bad weather is all our fault. I finally figured it out. It is God's way of keeping us home and making us work on fixing stuff, cleaning stuff, and unpacking stuff. And the longer we take, the more rain there will be on weekends. So you can totally blame it on me.

Brodie is progressing nicely. Getting big and fat, and she is really challenging Jack to new and exciting games like "Bite the furry tail and pull as hard as possible" or "Wait until the black dog is peeing and then jump on his head." I'm sure Jack is thrilled.

(now it's Sunday) Woke up this morning to continue cleaning the house and to finish this entry, because I'm a quality blogger who never leaves an entry hanging. Right?

What we ended up with yesterday was:

-Jess' room cleaned and mopped. She did it herself, and her definition of clean is never what mine is, but she's getting closer.
-Bathroom, floor mopped, table set up, towels installed, tub and sink scrubbed, shower curtain washed.
-Laundry, washed, folded, put away. I even washed the comforter, and it wouldn't dry. I ran it for about 5 cycles, and it just kept rolling up on itself and the middle wouldn't dry so it's totally spread out on top of a bunch of boxes so it gets air instead of gets musty.
-Livingroom cleaned, mopped. The only thing I need to do there is the desk/built-in thing because it is just covered with junk that landed when we moved in.
-Dishes done, sink washed, stovetop washed, refrigerator reorganized and stocked (thank you Doug for going to the market) and the dining table scrubbed and pretty.
-Unpacked several boxes here in the study and cleaned off the computer table. I just need to dust and mop in here, because it is dusty and needs mopped. The futon won't stay in the up position, so it has become the default place for dogs to sleep while one is sitting here blogging and listening to Guster at top volume. It's not a bad arrangement.
-Picked up dog crap in the yard with the cool new Jaws dogpoop picker upper that I bought. Ewwww. It was gross as hell. I hate that.
-Fought with the morning glories to get them to train up the fence instead of train through the grass towards the house. Stupid fence.

Here is what the bathroom table looks like, prior to the hanging of clean towel on rack, and stacking of clean towels in table.

bathroom table

What didn't get done that needs done:

-Bracketing the platform for our bed and hanging the closet shelving still have yet to be accomplished. Doug got started on that project yesterday and discovered that the battery charger for his drill is dead. So he got rather irritated. He's been sick, between poison ivy and then getting some sort of stomach bug on Friday. So those two projects seem to be waiting until a new drill is purchased, because this charger is not sold by itself, it comes WITH the drill. Dumbass drill.
-The aforementioned built-in desk in the living room
-Hanging up of some of the advertising that we got from Grandma, but I don't have wire and eye hooks for the backs of the frames. I have to go visit a craft store and pick those up. I could do that today but.
-Putting stuff up in the attic that is ready to go into storage. A lot of it is sitting in the room outside our bedroom, and that is annoying me.
-The Guster CD mix that I've been making for my sister (I have more space on the CD that I can fill, and I'm trying to figure out what to put on there. I don't have a lot of Parachute on there, so I'm listening again and again to decide what to put on aside from Eden and Happy Frappy.
-I know that doesn't really count, but it is part of my mental project list.
-Fixing flat on Geoff's bike so he can ride this week.

So yeah. There is a lot left to do today, and I have to get to it. Doug's parents should be here around 2pm, so I would like to have this last bit of stuff done before they arrive...

Distractions being what they are, I've been having a lot of fun watching Brodie beat up on Jack. It's a distraction that brings joy to my heart. She loves to bite his face and tail and ankles, and it just cracks me up. Combine that with Guster today and I'm not very productive. heh. But my son is gunning to go. He is here with the mop and floor cleaner, ready to roll, so I'll end this and let him mop. Glad to have the assistance I must say.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Crunchy Frog???

You all know our love of geocaching. And I bet you'd be surprised to learn that in the past two months we've gone out once to stalk tupperware in the woods.

Today Doug decided that it was high time we got our fat lazy asses back out on the trail.

I was kind of semi-disappointed to hear of his plan, because while I do love to stalk plastic containers with a GPS, I also was enjoying the getting things donenessnessness that we'd been experiencing as of late. Many a weekend in the past at our former address was spent hiking when we should have been fixing stuff or cleaning stuff or just generally being better stewards of our property.

But we needed a hike. And our new puppy needed to be introduced to the trails. I just wish it wasn't so damn hot outside.

So we went out, and it became quickly apparent to me that I have grown soft. A two mile hike should not have kicked my ass as hard as it did. Even with the monstrously huge hill we had to climb, and all the bugs... I should have been able to better handle and process this effort.

The cache itself was hysterically funny. The box was huge and there were two cute stuffed elephants set up as playing poker on the inside. (Do go follow that link and go see the picture. It'll crack you up).

We laughed hard, and the bugs and poison ivy and heat seemed a little weakened as a result.

crunchy frog?On the trails, Brodie pup found a dead, desiccated frog sitting out in the open, so she picked it up and started crunching on it like a pig's ear or rawhide or something.

Echoes of Doug and me laughing and quoting Monty Python's Whizzo Confectionery Company skit were heard throughout the land as we chased her and tried to take it out of her mouth. It was rather revolting, but funny in the end.

We only did the one geocache, even though we set out to do four. Brodie was exhausted and I was beat beyond belief. Even Geoff, who is a never ending font of willing geocache energy, was wiped out enough to head home.

I'm ready for bed right now and it is only 7:30. What's up with THAT!? It was hot, but not any hotter than other days we went out caching so I'm kind of disappointed in my lack of ability. We must get back in the swing of things and fast. I'm not happy about losing steam in our quest for 500 finds.

Speaking of poison ivy, Doug is awash in a rash right now. We have a perennial garden that grows around our patio. He weeded it, avoiding the poison ivy that was in there, thinking he'd get it later in the year or rip it all out in the spring.

Well, the poison ivy oil was on every single plant in the garden. It didn't matter if he was pulling out a basic weed or a small maple tree - everything was coated in poison ivy.

And he got coated in it.

I got it by proxy. Jack and Brodie both have been running through the garden. Brodie has trashed some of the plants (my spiderwort is crushed to a pulp. Grrrrr!) and by sleeping behind my naked legs Jack has managed to transfer oils onto my skin.

So I've got a bunch of PI on the backs of my thighs.

I'll be sure not to use Nair on my legs like I did this time last year before vacation. Voof. I didn't blog it last year, but remind me to tell you the story about what happens when you put NAIR on your legs when you have PI and it isn't obvious because you never really break out in a rash.

Anyway -- Doug is a hamburgery mess. He's been on benadryl and cortisone cream for a week. Yesterday he decided that instead of waiting until next spring to pull out the evil weed he'd just tackle it this year. With rubber gloves and full head to toe clothing, he dove in and ripped the shit out. Some of the roots were 5 feet long.

And then he went into the shower and scrubbed himself within an inch of his life. I was afraid he'd BREATHE the oils, and we'd end up with him on life support. Gah. But he survived and didn't pick up any more of a rash.

Our garden looks all the more healthy for it.

Me, I can't tell what PI looks like. I wouldn't have known it was PI at all. So I'm glad he took one for the team.

Tomorrow Geoff goes to summer camp at the Cub Scout reservation up in NH.

This year they've managed to set up and keep a bus schedule. Last year they had to cancel it because not enough kids signed up for the bus, which made it an absolutely hellish experience for me.

I had to drop him off at 8:30am, drive 90 minutes to work, and then leave no later than 3pm to get back there in time to do pickup. Which meant I maybe was at work for four hours a day for the week that he was there.

Geoff is going for two weeks this summer. I'm not looking forward to the possibility of getting a call saying that the second week he's there will not have bus. Gah.

Anyway -- he has to be at the bus stop at 7:45 this week, so I've got to make sure he's up and ready. Brodie has been getting up around 5:30am at the latest, so I have a feeling I won't slink back into bed after I take her out to pee. I'll stay up and get myself ready for work and make sure Geoff's ready to go as well.

Right then. The dogs are face fighting under my chair. The Simpsons are on. Guess it is time to mosey. More later.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

This Stinks.

The other night Doug and I were enoying our backyard when the dogs suddenly went completely off the hook crazy and ran to the corner of the yard. There was a baby skunk hanging out between the outside of our fence and the chiropractor's office next door.

We'd had a report earlier in the month that down around the corner the police had to shoot a rabid skunk when it was in the park menacing the kids at little league. It was still pretty light out (it being summer in these parts the sky doesn't go all dusky until after 8:30pm) and I didn't think it was right to be seeing a nocturnal animal strolling around in the middle of a parkinglot in the light.

So I called the animal control officer. She happens to work at my vet's office during the day (I love small towns, don't you?) and her sidekick/ACO in training is Jen, the girl who takes care of our dogs when they kennel at the vet.

escaping across our stoopThey showed up pretty quickly, but between the time I called them and the time they showed up, little baby skunkness walked around our house, down our driveway, huddled between our lilac bushes and our basement window wells, scooted across our porch, cozied up under the azalea bushes on the other side and then settled down for a nap. I kept an eye on it, watching the little thing breathe deeply and restfully. Having our dogs go nuts and bark at it must have been kind of stressful, and he/she really looked shagged out from the scare. Running back to its den might have been a better idea, but a nice little nap in the bushes worked out well for it.

When ACO showed up, she educated us that babies like this little one are just trying to figure out the neighborhood, learn the ways around, and start looking for a new place to den once ready to move away from mom. She told us that more likely than not it would mosey back into the woods and live back in there.

They haven't figured out yet that they are nocturnal, so seeing a baby out during the day isn't a problem or issue. They just go out adventuring, like it's their job.

But if she picked it up, she would be required to euthanize it immediately. No relocation to the deep woods, no finding a better place for it to live. It's the law.

So I was kind of torn. It was indeed cute, tiny, helpless looking. It liked looking at us, and didn't menace or hiss or run in fear. It did hide when approached, didn't smell or spray, hasn't learned that part of its job yet obviously. I wanted her to take it away somewhere without killing it, that I wouldn't tell on her if she did... but she couldn't do that.

Instead, she advised that we just leave it be. And it would figure things out on its own. That our dogs barking at it sent it a "don't go in there" message and it probably was received loud and clear.

We all went our own ways, and we haven't seen him since.

I hope we don't run into it again in the dark in the back when it finally figures out how to spray. And I hope it figures out to go live someplace else.

Anyway, that's the update. If you have a high-speed connection and you want to watch a video of Geoff singing his song about how much he loves pie, click here. It is 60mb, and will take a month to load. But it's funny.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

North Brother Island

Many of my Masshole brethren have been following the fallout, literally and figuratively, of the ceiling "panels" in the 90 connector to the "Dead Williams" Tunnel these past few days.

For those of you unaware, on Monday night, a large "tile" made of concrete about the size of my livingroom floor (10x20ft) fell on top of a car. Killed in the accident was Milena (sometimes seen spelled Melina) Del Valle, a 38 year old woman. Her husband Angel barely escaped with his life. There was nothing he could do to stop the car, move out of the way, or otherwise escape the fate that befell his wife, and him.

The sad thing is, hardly anyone who lives in the Commonwealth was shocked or amazed that this happened. The tunnels and project have been rife with problems ranging from cement falling in on peoples' sunroofs and smashing them in, to a fatal car accident the first day the tunnel was open, to water rushing in and flooding the damn things due to leaks in the slurry walls, to ice forming inside the tunnel where the persistent leaks flow.

A little background as to why this has become the complete disaster that it is can be found by simply researching the "Big Dig" on many websites. There used to be a major elevated highway cutting through the middle of Boston. Many years ago it was decided it needed to be "suppressed" under the city, because that would make the city look nicer.

The engineering feat to suppress this highway is considered by some to be the greatest modern marvel of highway engineering in the universe, or by others the greatest boondoggle pissaway of billions of dollars and feat of futility since the Tower of Babel.

Currently, the Chairman of the MTA (Massachusetts Turnpike Authority) is a man named Matt Amorello. For the past several years he has been in charge of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and the Big Dig. But with the collapse of this massive "tile" and the subsequent safety inspections which have revealed that there are over 200 damaged or questionable bolts holding up similar tiles. Many people are calling for Matt's head on a platter, or his resignation. Neither of which he wants to tender.

Matt may not be entirely to blame here. Some of the problems with this project date back to when he was a run of the mill hack cutting his teeth on Beacon Hill. He inherited a mess, and has simply rolled with the signing off process and the 200,000 dollar plus paycheck that he receives for being "in charge" of this project and all that that implies. Which to many means the responsibility and culpability when something goes horribly wrong like it did Monday night.

I would like to clarify something before I go further. The tunnel itself didn't collapse, a tile fell down. The tile was huge and heavy and crushed a car, but it isn't like the full thing buckled and everything on top is now in rubble in a huge hole that used to be a tunnel.

A woman died, which is horrific, but based on the time it happened it is miraculous that it wasn't in a mid-day period when more people were in there. And the safety investigators are coming back with bad news reports to heap upon bad news report.

Matt continues to stand in front of the crowd and declare the tunnels safe. He had the audacity at a news conference Tuesday morning to proclaim that the tunnel would open by noon the following day. Upon what authority? A wild guess or an attempt to sound like he had a clue?

The man is delusional, and while I can't blame him solely for what has happened, when you're the head guy on a shit project, you take the fall.

Ken Lay squandered millions upon millions of dollars and got a jail sentence. I don't know that he had a hand in killing anyone, even by accident. And people were calling for Ken Lay to be skinned alive because of his greed and crimes.

Matt Amorello, he's worse than Ken Lay.

He is like a modern day Typhoid Mary (the link goes to wikipedia where there is a really good history on Mary Mallon. You should go read it). Typhoid Mary didn't believe she was causing any problems, and fought with people to keep her job. No one understood fully what she was capable of, and she insisted upon going back and stirring pots of soup and serving them up to families from Mamaroneck to Long Island.

In her case, one person died too.

She was exiled to North Brother Island, where she spent three years in quarantine. She was released under the agreement that she would not work with food again. But because jobs for Irish immigrant women (and I'm thinking that the same goes for hack politicians in Boston) were scarce, she found herself back in the kitchen, infecting more people... To her dying day, Typhoid Mary didn't think she did anything wrong and insisted she was a great cook.

Matt Amorello has stood up in front of the media, the taxpayers of the state, and has stirred a huge pot of lies, graft, and corruption. An exile to North Brother Island is too far so I suggest one of those little islands in the middle of Boston Harbor where he can look across at the Zakim Bridge and the suppressed highway, and ponder what he has played a role in.

Instead, they are working on a "deal" to get him out of his job. A "deal" which will probably ensure he has income for the rest of his life if he just goes the hell away. A "deal" that will mean he'll go somewhere else, like Typhoid Mary, lie about his achievements and successes and get another job where something else awful will happen on his watch.

Just you wait and see.

I would like to be offered a "deal" to go away sometimes.

Anyway -- the past several days have been consumed by what is going on in the city with the situation, and all I can do is sit back and watch and say a prayer for Melina's family. There but for the Grace of God go I.

As for Matt Amorello, it is criminal what he has played a part in, and if he walks away with a parachute of any sort it will be a crime perpetuated by lawyers and politicians who just want to fix things and not point fingers and call blame.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

July 4th Just Isn't the Same Anymore...

You all know we used to go to Maine a lot and hang out with A & M. And they split up. And now A, meaning Aaron, is out in Washington State working for the forest service.

Flying the Devil HornsToday is his birthday. And for the past several years July 1 to July 7 usually had some sort of Us and Them overlap for funness.

I automatically associate the fourth of July with Aaron. The fact his birthday is butt up against the holiday has a lot to do with it. The fact that he loved to blow stuff up with reckless abandon and have a huge assed party is another.

The most party we ever had was Pig Roast 2004. There is a Flickr set of pictures from back then, as evidence here on the left this is what it pretty much looked like the entire weekend. I was using journalspace to write journal entries at that point so if you want to go back and read feel free to do so. And it totally reminds me that I need to go through journalspace and pull out my good entries. Must remember to do that... before the thing vanishes on me.

For two straight summers, we rocked up the coast with a truck load of fireworks purchased in New Hampshire. Aaron took up a collection from friends up there so we had over 400 bucks to shoot off the year of the pig roast. It was pretty awesome. We threw what I consider to be one of the best parties ever that year. I wish I could do it again this summer, but I know it wouldn't be the same. Whether I did it here in my backyard, or up there, or in Utah. It's just not ever going to be the same without Aaron around.

The best part was always the planning. The phone call in March that said "I have this crazy idea for the fourth of July..." and then the building, plotting, scheming that surrounded the execution of the plan.

We haven't heard from Aaron since March. And I've sent him several emails to touch base. I know he's remote but the last time he was stationed in this particular area he called once in a while or went to town to check email at the library. I've talked to his mom more in the past couple of months than to him.

I miss him horribly. I was thinking about the eulogy that Doug's uncle John got from his best friend, and he summed up everything I feel about missing someone, and having only memories, albeit pretty good ones, to hold on to. I sometimes feel like he and M are dead, because I never hear from them and it is really like a vast gully of sad in my heart.

Anyway. Happy Birthday Aaron. I know you're not reading this, but you know we love you and hope it was a good one, with whomever you're celebrating and with whatever methods. Be good, be well.

I miss M too, because she was pretty much my girl confidant. I have always had Carrie and my sister, but because Aaron and I were such good friends I built this great friendship with Michelle and I knew I could tell her anything like she could tell me anything. And I miss that. I'm glad I have two really good girlfriends still -- not sure what I'd do without.

Meh. Kind of sad.

little dog red barnOn another note -- we settled on a name for puppy. She is now Brodie officially.

Geoff wanted to name her Brady, Staley, Favre... someone has football on the brain.

We thought about Greta, Chan, Hey You Quit Crapping On My Floor!, and there were others. But Brodie seems to suit her well.

She has a doctor's appointment this afternoon. Get updated on some shots and get a physical from our vet and go forward.

And on yet another note - Amy had to put her cat Buford down this past week. A lot of my readers are friends but may not be aware. After a prolonged sickness and a series of different ailments, Buford just wasn't going to be able to sustain the strength of more medical procedures.

I believe Amy made the best and wisest decision for her kitty and for herself... I often think of myself in that position, the cat's position, and wonder if someone would have mercy on me. I wish sometimes we could actually do that for other humans if they've made their desires clear. Buford couldn't speak for himself, and let her know, but she knew for him. A hard and brave decision. I commend her for that.

Buford was a good cat. The skinniest Persian ever, in a totally vogue sort of way. He had wonderfully soft fur and was the best color ever. He would lay across the keyboard while Amy would try and type. She'd email me pictures of him doing this and it would totally crack me right up. He would do these really cute paw presses against her feet, kneading softly and purring loudly. He was an indoor cat who loved the adventure of time out doors, even in the snow! He was a stellar cat.

Amy could use your mojo. It's not expected that she get over this quickly. This was a long and hard process and we all mourn differently - I just hope for a smooth healing of her broken heart at this point. Mojo, babe. Comin' your way.

Alright -- gotta puppy wrangle now. More later.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Well, that was the suck...

Yes indeed it was. And this is a long and overly detailed entry that you hopefully will find funny.

We left here Friday morning after dropping the puppy off at Carrie's. We filled the tank and bought copious Kwik-E-mart snackage before hitting the highway. At that time it was about 10am.

I'd been rushing around since 7:45, dropping Jack at the kennel and doing this that and the other thing to get ready. We were ready ready ready. We were set to go go go!

Getting on the road we gunned it down the highway and immediately ran into a highway lane reduction at traffic total stoppage on 495. So we bailed and took backroads to bypass it. Worked like a charm.

Glad I know the backroads around here, too bad I don't south of Scranton or West of Clearfield.

We trucked along awesomely through the rest of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and NY State. Breezing, making great time. We were in Scranton in four hours.

Four. Hours. That is unheard of from here. Usually Five is good. But Four? Where's my jet pack officer? Sorry, I'm not showing!

We then hit I-80, and SAT in a PARKING LOT all the way to exit 241.

and this long line of cars...People were putting their cars in park, turning off their engines, changing clothes, having snack. There was a guy on a Harley behind me, and he was obviously traveling with the woman in the truck behind him because he parked, got off his helmet (doofus) jacket, and other riding gear. She handed him a sandwich, and his cigarettes. He stood there talking to her while he ate the sandwich.

It was kind of nuts.

If you click on this photo, be sure to go all the way to the original size shot and take a look at the reflection in my rear view mirror. And it went on and on and on like that behind me and before me. It was nuts. We entertained ourselves by saying hi to the truckers around us. The kids were in great spirits. The day wasn't too brutally hot.

We got to the lane reduction where jersey barriers and two guys talking about maybe doing some work I don't know kinda sorta hey what are you doing for this weekend I'm going to a barbecue. Barbara and Sam invited me over and...

I was pissed as hell when we got past that stretch and there wasn't a car in sight. Seriously. When traffic is backed up for 15 miles, where do all the cars and trucks GO the instant you get through the log jam?


We were trucking along, east of Lightstreet, and there was a car on the side of the road. A man was waving his arms frantically in the air and I pulled over thinking there was a medical emergency.

He needed a jump start, and I wasn't in a safe position to even remotely help so I offered to give them a ride up to the Lightstreet Bloombsburg exit so they could see if there was a service station, or they could call a friend from the payphone.

The man went back to ask his lady friend if she wanted to do that, and Geoff was SHOCKED! that I would offer strangers a ride.

"Oh my GOD mom! They are going to KILL us! They are going to ROB us! They'll abduct us and hurt us! They..."

"Honey, I'm not sure they'll do that," I answered, not sure that I believed myself but I just knew that he looked desperate and sad, and I wanted to be a help to someone after wasting two hours of my damn life.

"They just need a ride eight miles up the street to the next exit and they'll be gone. I promise, if they pull anything I'll kill them first, but trust me. Trust me..."

They jumped in, and we rode them up the road. The sky opened up and started pouring at that point, so I felt kinda good that I was giving these folks a ride. The woman was especially thankful saying "Oh Lord, in that rain NO one would EVER stop, and could you imagine if we had started WALKING and it started raining like this. Oh thank you for stopping!"

Geoff, I could feel it, was sensing that we'd done something somewhat stupid and risky, but in the end it was working out.

its a long long storyWe got to the exit and I dropped them off at a gas station by a Denny's.

They didn't have money for the payphone and they wanted to call a friend in Williamsport (50 plus miles away) to have him come help them. So I loaned them my cell phone.

"I HAVE your money for you. I'm just STUCK! Stuck on the damn highway. The traffic was so bad, and the car broke down and we're in Bloomsburg and we ..."

Uh, I have your money for you? What? Uh, can I have my phone back now so we can run? Not sure what I just participated in, and if my number will turn up in some sort of DEA wire tapping situation, but damn.

She gave me back my phone and thanked us for the ride, and we jetted out of there. I was having misgivings for stopping until I heard Geoff.

"Mom, helping people even when it seems somewhat dangerous, that's a good thing. I mean, those people were stranded and in trouble and we helped, and I feel really good about that."

Great buddy. I feel mixed but hey. I'm glad you feel good.

At the next place we stopped, Geoff stood and held the door for everyone coming in and out and he was extra kind and thoughtful to Jessica.

Maybe I'll help stranded weird people more often.

The middle of the state went by like a dream of laughter, bad jokes printed on potato chips, and Jessica doing Jazz Hands to Guster Songs. We laughed a lot, but I was starting to get really wiped out and the headache was growing. We stopped at a McDonalds, I got a large iced coffee and I honestly think that is what kept us alive the rest of the trip.

By 7pm we were in Clearfield. And traffic once again ground to a complete and total stop. We bailed and went to Walmart, me cursing the sky for not having the GPS with us so I could figure out where this road and that road led to so I could bypass the obvious logjam there on the highway. I was starting to really feel exhausted. My hands hurt from holding the steering wheel. Jazz Hands to Guster Songs was no longer making me laugh. We sat and watched a pretty decent sunset over I-80, while watching cars and trucks go absolutely nowhere.

I knew we were about four hours away from where we wanted to be, if not five. Doug called on the phone as I sat in the hellish traffic at 8:30.

"Hi honey, how are you? I'm in the car with Diane and J, we just left the visiting hours."

"Oh, I'm okay I guess. I'm in Clearfield."

"I don't know where that is."

"Way east of DuBois."

dead silence.

"Oh. That's kind of far."

"Uh yeah, you're telling me. I'm stuck in my second major two hour back up of the day. I'm not at all happy right now."

"I'm sorry to hear that. Can you get the truck washed before you come to the funeral tomorrow morning. I'm not picky about a lot of things but if you're going to be in a funeral procession, you should be in a clean car and you've been driving across 80 so..."

Insert noise of a needle scratching across a record here.

I am aghast.

"You've got to be kidding me. I am five hours away and feel like I may not make it there and you want me to get the truck washed? How about this. If you want the truck washed, you get up tomorrow morning and come down to the hotel and YOU GET THE TRUCK! AND YOU GET IT WASHED!"

"Wooo! Sorry!"

I think I hung up on him at that point.

His request was not unreasonable. It was the timing. At the point above where I said "I'm not at all happy right now" he should have thought to maybe make his request in the morning. Right there and then I was in hell. There was a big huge honkin' truck beside my head using his jake brake every ten feet and it sounded like rapid fire gunshots ripping through my skull. It was POURING out, and the traffic jam had no end in sight. There were motorcyclists buzzing up through the middle of traffic IN the dark IN the rain, and I almost took one of the fuckers out right there intentionally. Yes. Intentionally. I saw him coming and had the opportunity to pull to the left and change lanes and had I completed my maneuver, he'd be dead. But I pulled back, and he dropped behind me, then pulled beside me and spit at me.

Nice. I hope someone really does run your ass over you retard.

Eventually the traffic and the rain broke. Breezing onward to DuBois, Clarion, Mercer, Sharon. No diversion to Quaker Steak and Lube even though my soul ached for a bucket of buffalo wings and a beer at this hour.

My sister calls and checks in on us at 11pm. We're still about an hour away but I tell her we're 20 minutes. South onto rte 60. We're in the homestretch! WDVE comes in loud and clear. I may hear a Donnie Iris song if I'm lucky!

New Castle, Beaver Falls, Brighton, Beaver, Monaca. Here!

We check into the hotel at 12:30. We are all in bed at 12:40. I'm twitching and shaking from the caffeine and the stress but terrified to take a Tylenol PM to fall asleep faster so I go without, the day playing back in my head.

Me being mad at Doug playing back in my head.

Me not getting a chance to say good bye or hello to Uncle John in the past two years ... playing. over. in. my. head.

I set the alarm for 7. I will get up and get the truck washed and then take Geoff to swim. We'll be okay.

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

The next morning I sleep through the alarm, so does Geoff miraculously. Mr. I'm Always Up at 6am is still dead asleep at 7:30. The fact that I wake up before him frightens me and I check his ankle for a pulse.

We get up, get breakfast and I drive over to Vanport to the carwash to find it closed.


holy crap. This is the only car wash that I know of in the area. What am I going to do now. I'm going to go ask at the front desk of the hotel, because I'm sure there has to be another and they'll know where.

We drive back to the hotel, and I notice a shell station with a carwash, but they don't open until 9. I figure it'll be better to get in a swim and then grab a car wash on the way out now that I know they are there.

As the hobbits say, second breakfast, then swimming. We swim and swim and swim. Then at 9 we go up to shower and red'up our selves. Jess has gotten out of the shower and is dressed and...

her shirt is too small.

She picked out a shirt that had technical difficulties in the wash, and damn if it isn't clinging to every roll and bump in her person.

No worries. We're across the street from the mall. We can grab something to go over it.

No worries, this is how we roll.

No worries. I am freaking out. I throw Geoff in the shower. I then get in the shower and find they've both used all the shampoo.

I also find that not only did they use all the shampoo but Jess used the hand cream on her hair. It is in a little vial marked "Soften" at the Holiday Inn Express. Soften is for hands. Wash and Tame are for hair.

So my daughter has washed her hair with Wash, Tame and Soften.

You've got to be joking.

Jess gets me some shampoo and I chastise her for using Soften on her hair. duh. IQ of eighty million and she uses hand cream on her hair. Whatever.

We're all ready at 9:45. We go to the car wash. It is the slowest car wash in America. We are 10th in line. We watch as the guy vacuums out the cars and then sends them into the thing. Why can't the vacuuming happen at the end! Why is it happening NOW! Hurry! UP!

We get through. We run over JC Penney in the Beaver Valley Mall. Jess immediately finds a blouse that will go over her current shirt VERY nicely. I find Geoff a tie, because I couldn't find one for him at home or at Kohl's the night before we left. In fact, this is the World's Most Perfect Tie Ever© and I'm thrilled.

We throw our stuff on the counter and the lady rings us in. She cuts off the tags so I can instantly clip Geoff up and Jess can slip into her blouse.

We must look like fugitives getting in disguise to her. I look at her and thank her and say "I suck at planning well, and we are most certainly NOT fugitives from justice. We're going to a funeral in Beaver."

Oh, I understand. She replies. We fugitive ourselves from her store and my cell phone rings. It is Doug. I send it to voice mail.

I stop at the drug store to get skin cream and cover up, the bags under my eyes are deplorable. We make it to the funeral home at 10:45 for an 11am ceremony.

I breathe a sigh of relief. Doug is a pall bearer. I'm only hoping he rides over with us because I am not 100% sure where I'm going after this is over.

But my truck is shiny and beautifully clean. And my daughter's hair is wonderfully soft.

The ceremony was short and sweet. No one seemed to want to get up and speak, so John's best friend Mike and uncle Don both got up and did their things. I had hoped Andy would get up and share. I would have loved to hear from him there, eulogizing his dad. But it wasn't to be.

We went to the cemetery and I had to control myself with every ounce of self-control to keep from whipping out my camera and taking pictures of these garish seat-cover things that were cookie-monster blue. At the end of the service, Doug came over and asked me if I'd noticed that they'd killed Cookie Monster. I let him know he should be so proud of me for not being a blog terrorist because I so desperately wanted a picture of these chair covers!!!!!!

Geoff Marine HatGeoff got to meet Doug's cousin Daniel, who is in the Marines.

When we initially got to the funeral home, Geoff was astonished to see a man in uniform... and equally astonished to learn he was related to this dashing young lad.

Daniel picked up on the admiration and winked at him from across the room. At the end of the graveside portion of the service, he walked up to our truck, and we rolled down the window. Daniel reached in with his hat and placed it on Geoff's head and I thought Geoff would explode. He was filled with a lot of emotion, a lot of wondering about death and life and who Uncle John was and how come he didn't remember him very well, and then suddenly this handsome and beautiful Marine marches up to him and gives him his hat.

It was kind of surreal.

We went to dinner afterwards. Immediate family and friends. Andy was sweet. I wanted to spend more time with him, ask him about life and work and stuff. But everyone hogged Andy and I got to hug him and fade into the woodwork and chill with the kids and the cousins.

Diane and J's daughter, our niece Elyse (I've mentioned how I love how her name rhymes) joined us at the table. Rumor has it she never leaves mommy's side, but today she was all about hanging out with her cousins. J came over and asked if she would be joining them at their table and she said "No, I'm sitting with Geoffrey. Now you go to your place right now." And she waved him off.

She was nothing but a delight, even when Geoff was an aloof, disinterested boor. She was tons of fun and really made me laugh. She loves Geoff and Jess and really had a lot of fun with them.

Hours and hours and hours later it seems, we finally left the restaurant. We went back to the hotel and the kids changed. Doug passed out on the bed. I read Douglas Coupland's "All Families Are Psychotic" (I didn't bring it intentionally, it was next on my to-read list. Honest) and fell asleep myself. Jess took the boy to the gym and he ran on the treadmill and rode the bike for an hour. We eventually went up to Grandma's to hang out.

Doug's grandma is not doing too well. She's slowly but surely getting ready to go into an assisted living facility not too far from home. It was wonderful to see her, to talk to her, to be with her.

I worry that I won't get that chance again.

Eventually Geoff ran out of gas and I brought him and Jess back to the hotel. We crashed. We slept deeply.

Sunday was a blur and a mess and I don't want to get into it. Suffice to say, it was a bit much and I'm still overwhelmed. The best part of Sunday was that Diane and J came to the hotel while everyone else was still hopelessly undecided as to what we'd be doing for the day, and the kids swam in the pool with us and we had a terrific time.

jamiel and the poolThere was this little boy at the pool named Jamiel. His bigger brothers and cousin were really playing hard and rough housing, and he couldn't deal with being in the pool with them. It was obvious he couldn't swim.

So. I took him for rides around the pool on my back. I encouraged him to go the whole length of the pool around by holding on to the side. Later on, he figured out where our room was and knocked on the door to give me a big hug. When I woke up the following morning, there was a five dollar bill sticking under my door. I have no clue where that came from but I have a guess.

I will have Jamiel in my thoughts and prayers for a long time. He's from Columbus Ohio. He is 8. He was and is a really sweet little guy.

We were in the pool for two hours. And it was awesome that Elyse wanted to swim with me and play with me. Last year she wouldn't even get in up to her knees.

Craig even got in on the fun, and we had a blast. It felt good to play with cousins, and to visit with Diane and J. I don't get to see them often enough. In the evening, we went out to Ohio to see Great Grandma G at her place. We went rather late, I think it was around 5pm when we got there. It was a short but lovely visit. And I had a great time.

Monday morning Doug came up and got us after Geoff and I swam in the pool. We went up to Grandma's again to spend some time with her before leaving, and we had lunch. Diane brought the kids down, and I think they were sad to lose their cousins after having them for three solid fun and sad and fun and complicated days.

The ride home was tremendous. Ten hours instead of elevendy. We got here at Midnight. Carrie brought the puppy back. And we lived to tell the tale.

I am happy to be home.

Anyway -- that is kind of the lost weekend with no alcohol or drugs causing the loss. There was so much I wanted to do. And now I'm back at Wednesday going to work and getting back into the swing of things. I'm tired.

The best part is that I got a few more license plates for my licenseplate bingo flickr set. Now I only need Nebraska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho and Washington DC.

I saw Arkansas today when we took Doug up to get his car in Manchester, but he deliberately sped up so I couldn't get my camera out in time. He sucks.

I saw a Manitoba plate on I-80 but traffic was moving too fast and it was dark and the flash would have probably freaked the driver out. So we passed on grabbing that one.

I can't believe I have only four states left and the DC plate. It seems weird to have made it to this point.

Now, if you don't mind, I have a cramp in my finger and a beer is calling me names. I must go confront it and teach it a lesson. Prepare to be schooled, Sam Adams!