Friday, October 27, 2006

Detention Postponed

Because I know for a fact all y'all are waiting with baited breath for the detention patrol, I thought I'd give you an update tonight.

I talked to Conourtney's mom, and they got a letter stating that her detention is scheduled for 11/11 at 7:30 am. Good thing I talked to her to run this entire plan past her, otherwise I'd be out there in a huge rainstorm by my sorry assed self tomorrow morning at 9:30, and that would be embarassing to say the absolute least.

So we have to wait 2 weeks to do the detention-fest. Now, I wonder if teachers get paid time and a half to proctor a detention on a federal holiday. Even if it is on a Saturday (for those unaware, because you're maybe Canadian or Australian, that's Veteran's Day in the US).

Conourtney's mom said she thinks that they'll throw me out of the school if I even TRY to go sit in detention with her daughter. "You can try it, but I bet you get in more trouble than you can ever imagine knowing these people..."

She's probably right, having had a lot of experience on the high school level with her son. So I'll heed her advice and not show up with a copy of whatever book I'm currently reading in order to plant ass in a seat for 2 hours.

But she loves the welcoming committee party idea and told me she thinks I've officially lost my mind. She said this while laughing at me. Hard. She told me that I do not need to feel responsible for this. But saying it to me and trying to reassure me will not make that little white hot burning coil in the back of my brain go away.

I told her that I do feel guilty, and want to make things right by the kid, and if I can do it in a way that is both socially humiliating AND entertaining at the same time, hells yeah people. I'm there.

Right now, it looks like Conourtney's mom will join us, as will Mrs. The Kayla, and the girls will all be present and we'll welcome her out of her sentence with signs, banners, balloons, wearing prison jumpsuits (heck, it's halloween time, I bet I can find some on after halloween sale!) and we'll make balls & chains out of styrofoam material.

It'll be a freakin' blast and a half I tell you what.

In other news, I have a contractor coming at 8am to look at our back doors off the woodstove room. They are a bona fide heat-sink, and that room is negative eighty on most mornings when the rest of the house is toasty warm .

In fact, I think I need to call a plumber or heating dude because the downstairs rooms which we rarely use are about 80 degrees, while upstairs we're awfully chilly at night. Downstairs front is supposed to be on its own zone, and upstairs bedrooms are on their own zone. I think the zones are in the twilight location, because they sure aren't working as expected or desired.

Geoff came down with a fever on Wednesday and they sent him home from school. He was droopy and sweaty and miserable. And you want to know something sad? He's a pleasure to have around when he isn't feeling good.

Geoff can be ornery or just generally unpleasant most evenings. On Wednesday after I picked him up he politely asked me for tea, a hot fire in the woodstove, and cartoons. Then, he asked me to come join him on the couch and cuddle under the blankets.

It is incredibly sad that I love my son most when he is not feeling his best.

He stayed home with Daddy on Thursday and the two of them watched a lot of cartoons, a lot of Discovery Channel ("I saw this cathedral episode with Mom. A guy has to dive under to put cement under the cathedral so it will stop falling.") and he seemed quite on the mend yesterday and the fever broke so we sent him to school today. Well, it's back. He put himself to bed at about 8 with a temp of 100.6 or so.

I need to go check on him. Wait here.

Jess went to see the Tufts University Beelzebubs tonight. I stayed home because Geoff was not feeling well and Doug wasn't home yet -- and I knew trying to take Geoff could either result in him getting very upset and bored or him being cuddly and sleepy. I didn't want to risk the former. So we stayed in. I'm kicking myself hard for not going. Oh well. Some other time.

They did a very ambitious Guster song -- Ruby Falls -- off of the latest album. They shortened it greatly, but she had an "OH MY GOD!" moment while sitting there, plotzing in her seat while people around her were like "Huh?"

She couldn't wait to get home to tell me. Adam Gardner would be proud of them for taking on the arrangement.

Anyway -- I am off to bed. The boy is okay and sleeping. Jess wants the PC. Doug is watching many a zombie movie on some American Classic Movie channel. He's going to work tomorrow, making up the time he missed staying home with Geoff on Thursday. More later.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Detention! Breakfast Club is a reality this Saturday

Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you're crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us... In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain...
...and an athlete
...and a basket case
...a princess
And a criminal

Does that answer your question?... Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.

You are going to love this. I promise.

gonzo's new best friend is courtneyAfter the concert, I brought Jess' friend Courtney home here to sleep over, with the assurance that I would get the girls to school... rather than have her come in late and wake everyone in her house up. I figured it would just be easier if she was here.

They might be a little late but hey, they'd get there. I'm a responsible adult.

Jess managed to get up and get out to the bus at 6:55am. She didn't wake up Courtney, who was asleep here on our futon in the study. I woke up at 7:30 about 1/2 hour after I had intended. I finished getting Geoff ready for school. Doug left for work. Over coffee at 7:50 I told Courtney, "Let's go as soon as Geoff's bus comes, and I'll go inside and explain why you are late."

Honesty. It's the best and most beautiful policy, right?

We went to school at 8:15. We walked into the office and I explained to the secretary that Courtney slept at my house, and that I wasn't aware that she was still asleep and had missed the bus. So I am fully responsible for her being late, and I'm sorry.


Courtney was pulled into an administrator's office where they informed her that she had a detention for an unexcused absence, that my reason wasn't valid, and she would have to serve a 2 hour detention on Saturday Morning from 7:30am to 9:30am.

Whafuh? Are you kidding me?

She missed an entire period. She was quite late. But. I could have written her a note that said "Courtney had a dentist appointment and that's why she's late. Love Courtney's mom." Or, I could have had Courtney's mom in on the ruse.

Or, I could have called her in sick and she could have missed an entire day of school. But I didn't. I told the truth. And the truth does not set you free if you are in 9th grade. Oh hell no. It does not.

While we were pulling into the parking lot, I noticed about 10 kids coming in late, at the same time. I wonder how many of them will be serving detention, or if each of them had a little white slip of paper with a big fat lie written on it.

A big fat lie that teaches them that honesty isn't the best policy, that fibbing will get you out of anything. I doubt highly that they call every dentist, every doctor, every ophthalmologist in the region to find out "Was Billy in for an appointment this morning?" to verify the notes.

I thought my honesty in saying that I was responsible would be sufficient. But I was wrong. And now she's got detention.

I guess I'm just gullible beyond all imagination. God.

Her mother was pissed, not at me but at the school. She had a huge argument with the person who gave her the detention and he tried to pull counter arguments on her that I can't even outline here because they'd make your eyes bleed. It ends up that Mrs. Courtney's mom didn't win the argument and now she's got to serve detention. Failure to show up on time will result in her being suspended for a week.

So here is where I am ... I feel completely culpable and totally shitty. Part of me wants to call this guy and say "Sorry - I didn't realize that the punishment was going to be a hair shy of full disembowlment for the kid, why don't you cut her some slack because it isn't her fault it it TOTALLY MINE." I won't get anywhere though. It's like dealing with Ed Rooney on Ferris Buehler, or Mr. Vernon on the Breakfast Club. They're right. Everyone. Else. Is. Wrong.

Why Jess didn't even try to wake her up and have her take the bus is beyond me... but it is what it is.

And I feel totally crappy. Totally. Totally. Totally.

So she'll go in on Saturday to the breakfast club, and I am honestly thinking of doing the following:

a) Going in and serving it with her. Sitting by her side. Being right there. And you let them try and throw my ass out. I am more responsible for this than she is. There is no reason why she should take the entire punishment alone.


b) Showing up at 9:30 with signs and balloons. "Congratulations on your release from Prison Courtney!!!" And have a cheering section of my kids, the Kaylas, anyone else who wants to come with, and we'll all go out for Super Fatty Breakfast afterwards. Maybe we'll all wear orange prison jumpsuits and balls & chains. I think that would be a freaking riot and a half.

Because I feel I owe her. I owe her totally.

Wanna know what she missed in first period? Her science class watched an episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy. An episode she'd already seen. And there were two vocabulary words that they put up on the board, which she could have easily gotten from someone else.

That's a shit ton of great education that she missed out on isn't it?

I'm so bullshit right now. I can't even express. And this isn't even my kid. Could you imagine what I'd be like if it were Jess who got a detention for being late?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Beaners and Weens - Barenaked Ladies Live at the Verizon, Manchester NH

"Anyone perfect must be Ronnie."
-Ed Robertson, BNL BLAM Tour, Manchester NH 10/23/06

I am exhausted but overjoyed. Last night's BNL concert was one of the best ever. EVER I tells ya. Dispute it and I will have to give you a full frontal wedgie. For all of you who may have grown convinced that my love for Guster had eclipsed my love for the boys from Scarborough, think again. This show was tremendous, and I can't wait for the next. I'm pissed that I'm not at tonight's show, and I'm pissed that I'm not going to NYC

Barenaked Ladies 10/23/06We had eight tickets for the show, one set of four purchased on my membership and one purchased for me by Mathmarie. Jess has about 10 friends who have been nagging her to come with us to a show. Two agreed, and one backed out at the last minute leaving me hanging and needing a plan.

I invited TracyLee, who lives near Manchester and digs a good rock show (Thanks for coming Tracy) and my dangling ticket situation was taken care of. We had Jess, Kay, Jacob, Geoff and Courtney, as well as Mrs. the Kayla and myself. We got there in time to meet up with TracyLee and get my batches of tickets from Mathmarieand brand new auntie CMM (she got me 4 tickets for Agganis in Boston). And a good time was being had by all over pizza and soda before the show.

Former Soul Coughing Frontman Mike Doughty was the opener, and he was great, quirky, fun, silly. For hours after the show I was thinking about bacon that was too much for the pan to handle.

Guess you had to be there.

Nicely mixed, Mr. Doughty. Nicely mixed.

It was a good time. I enjoyed his set, and his techno-folk stylings. He has a great deep voice... I would have LOVED to have heard Super Bon Bon because it is my favorite song of his. He did a cover of Kenny Rogers "The Gambler" and I so wanted him to do the hand clapping thing and have the audience echo him, but he didn't. Still, it was a good opener, and BNL took the stage shortly after he wrapped up.

I was honestly worried about taking Geoff to a rock show. I thought it might be way WAY too much stimuli for him to handle. Especially at 8pm... but man he loved it. He was totally digging on Mike Doughty, and knew one of the songs from listening to the local radio station ("Bottom of a Well").

Before BNL took the stage, they had a little multimedia presentation running on the screens playing on the title of the new album.

the first screen showed: Barenaked Ladies Are Me.

Then, after the "Me" they added words like, Meticulous, Metonym, Metrosexual! And the audience ate it up. It turned to Barenaked Ladies are Mentally Ill. Barenaked Ladies are Messing with you! and finally -- Barenaked Ladies are Here!

Barenaked Ladies 10/23/06Let the chaos ensue. The black curtain drops, the band appears. And it is more than I could have imagined. The set design was gorgeous. After the past couple of tours which have been Holiday themed, this was a refreshing site. Five large columns ran vertically up behind the band. Tyler was moved to the dead center back of the stage with Jimmy C to his left and Kevin to his right, with a nice Keyboard set up. Kevin had for years been all the way to the opposite side.

Steve and Ed were in their "traditional places." Instead of Stage Left or Right, BNL fans refer to "Stage Steve" or "Stage Ed."

This time, we were up the center more on the Ed side, so I managed to get a lot of shots of him in all his amazing gorgeousness. Especially with his new purple and white girl guitar. Hotness. I swear.

The artwork from the album was echoed all through the set, form the vertical columns in the back drop to the rock star stage risers on either side of the stage, to the fronts of the light riggings above the crowd. It was at times surreal and at times very Beatles Revolver.

And it was absolutely beautiful.

I was in awe just sitting there watching how the lighting played across the entire set up. Halfway through the show, the five central columns rotated to a LED driven light display that rained or pulsated or spelled out words as the band played along.

The guys did several songs off of the new CD, which I blogged about a couple of weeks ago in (ridiculous) depth. As I'd hoped -- they performed "Maybe You're Right" and yes, I sang right along the way I told you I would (If you read the linked to above entry) and managed to do it without crying. And I sang the trumpet part with Steve. It was an amazing performance, an amazing evening, and an amazing experience for this fat fangrrrl. I can't wait for more.

Barenaked Ladies 10/23/06They did a wonderful fully choreographed dance number at the end of Angry People which was kind of a mashup between Bob Fosse and Full Monty and West Side Story. It was mind bogglingly funny, and beat the crap out of the Shopping Cart dance from E4E's tour. Very nicely done gentlemen.

It crossed my mind that this is the second time I've seen them kick off a tour. In 2003 when they started the E4E tour I saw them at the Orpheum. Long time readers may recall how I ripped my pants at that show. Classic (a)musingsness there ... (I need to finish the 2003 archives so you can read my horror show entry about my pants and the Orpheum...)

Getting the kinks out is something that can only happen life and in person. And I think that the audience for BNL is wonderful, supportive and kind. When they screw up, they laugh. And the audience laughs too. And they stand there and say "Hey, I messed up so bad... because Ed confused me!" and then they argue about it. And everyone enjoys a good giggle.

Last night was no exception, from Steve messing up the lyrics to Enid, to Ed playing all the wrong chords on a song, Steve following him, and Jim not even playing the right Bass for that particular tune. Ed's guitar didn't work on one song, and then his microphone cut out on another, so the audience sang for him.

Any other band and they'd get bent out of shape about the errors.

BNL rides with it, and the fans enjoy the gaffes. In fact, it goes to prove that they're doing it all live and doing it right there -- and doing it for people who appreciate the effort and the fun.

All told, by the time they make it cross country, all the kinks will be worked out and it might not be as drop dead funny, but it will still be a good time.

Geoff fell asleep during the latter half of the main set, and he woke up in time for the final encore. I took a million and a half pictures, of course, and they are here if you are interested. By far, I think they are the absolute best pictures I've managed to get at a BNL show. And I'm quite proud of them. So yeah -- go look if you want.

We got home about midnight. The girls immediately fell to bed, as did Geoff. I screwed around with my pictures and built the flickr set and had a great assed time checking them out and reliving all the humor of the evening.

We didn't stalk the band the way we wanted, but we sure had a great time no matter what. All told, it was a spectacular evening. Courtney's first show, Geoff & Jacob's first -- lots of different T-shirts bought, lots of laughs, lots of fun. I couldn't have been happier when I fell into bed, with songs and laughter spinning through my mind. Thinking of Ed and his brand new purple and white guitar, the funny head piece from Kevin's guitar set, the excellent Bluegrass set. All the jokes about a breakdancer named Ronnie... the fact that we made Ed laugh (we did, me and Jess) when he looked at us after singing the quote at the top of the page and we hit the ground laughing our asses off. It was a great great night.

Setlist for 10/23/06

Wind It Up
Old Apartment
Sound Of Your Voice
These Apples
Straw Hat & Old Dirty Hank
Some Fantastic
Baby Seat
Upside Down
Peterborough and the Kawarthas
Down To Earth

Acoustic Set Bluegrass Style:
Alternative Girlfriend
Everything Had changed

It's All Been Done
Maybe You're Right
Angry People
Pinch Me
Take It Back
One Week
Too Little Too Late
Falling For The First Time
Million Dollars

The title of the entry tonight is all thanks to Jess, who spoonerismed the "Weiners and Beans" rap to "Beaners and Weens" much to our squealing delight.

Gotta love you some Jess.

There is more to tell, but I'll write another entry. I have a saga about Courtney and this morning getting off to school. But don't want to sully the joy of this entry with the aftermath of what happens when you bring a tardy 15 year old to the high school.

All told, best concert ever. I know I've said that so many times that it has lost all meaning. But. You know. Best concert ever.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Not that there's anything wrong with that ...

Geoff has a friend sleeping over tonight. He's a nice kid... and we were sitting around talking about options for who sleeps where. I asked Nick "When you sleep at a friend's house, do you like to sleep in your own bed or are you okay sleeping in the same bed with your friend. He said either way was alright with him, it's different at each house. Geoff says "Whatdaya think I am, GAY or something?!"

I almost spit out my water... I was all ready to suggest that they both sleep in the futon here in the study, but I guess that's not gonna happen.

We told Geoff "it's not about GAY or anything, it's about hanging out with your pal and sleeping in the most comfortable, logical place for both of you." Jeesh.

No points to anyone because there were no takers on the title quote from yesterday's entry. Suckers. I expected better of my leftist readership. All two of you. I have placed the full quote and source at the top of this page for those who care. While I don't agree with a lot of Cockburn's politics, much of the poetry and imagery he has written over the past two (plus) decades sticks with me in all sorts of odd moments. And when I'm burning wood and there is a breeze, I hear the opening line of that song in my head.

Anyway -- not much to report here, it's been a busy week filled with work work work and all kinds of mundane details. Nothing interesting on the commute, nothing interesting at home. Nothing interesting in life. The NYC trip was the big interestingness that nothing can hold a candle to in the weeks following. I'm in a big interestingness lull.

Well, not entirely true. Here are the highlights:

I'm writing an article for and Adam Gardner from Guster was kind enough to answer questions for me, since he has an a cappella connection with the Tufts University Bubs. He was gracious and wonderful and his answers to my questions make an article in and of themselves but I have other people who I've interviewed who will be in the article too. Still, I just wanted to mention that Adam is very kind and smart and witty and wonderful. Two points for Adam

Monday night is BNL at the Manchester Verizon Arena. Eight tickets, so far I have one free ticket that may or may not be claimed, we have yet to get a straight answer from Jess' friend. I may be turning to boards with a plea for someone to buy it. I hate when people say "yes! I'm in!" and then they don't follow through with commitment.

Speaking of which -- Mathmarie and CMM, I will have your ticket money for your sets of tickets that you got me with me on Monday night. I've got cell numbers, you've got mine, and we're aiming to hook up prior to the show with plenty of time to get the swap off. No worries. And thank you thank you thank you for the ticket upgrade. You rule.

My commute has been the supersized suck for the last couple of weeks. There is paving going on everywhere in between my home space and my office space. A 50 minute commute is taking upwards to an hour and ten minutes some mornings. So I have taken to alternate routes through farm country and woods. Routes which may take longer than sitting in traffic but when one feels oneself moving, one interprets forward progress. And that is good.

casino night chipLast night was our school's PTA had a casino night, and we decided that it was high time we went to one of these things. The joint was jumpin', the place was packed. We hung out with Kayla's parents and a couple of the other cub scout parents. Doug made a killing in roulette... if that were real money, baby'd be goin' to Harvard. But it was fake money, and we exchanged it for raffle tickets. And won nothing.

Stupid casino night.

While we were at casino night, we had a huge wind storm that blew our satellite dish out of allignment. Stupid wind storm. So today Doug had to climb up onto the roof and adjust it while talking to me on the telephone intercom. It was a good time. Now, our tv gets better reception. Thank you wind storm!

We got two cords of wood delivered last week. Over one and a half of the cords currently live inside our gorgeous kitchen hearth. I'm not too thrilled about that, but at least it is indoors somewhere and we don't have to schelp out into the yard in the wasit-deep snow to get wood later this winter. The wood isn't fantastic. It doesn't want to burn, I don't think it was properly seasoned... even though the advertisement says it was. So being indoors will hopefully make it better. We managed to get a little fire going this morning -- but man alive, it isn't very good. Not like the wood that the previous owner left for us, which we rifled through in a few days because the novelty of having a woodstove just had us squee-ing with delight. Today Doug and I cleaned out the shed and stacked about 1/3 of what was left in the driveway up in the dryness. It has been rained on (stupid rain) because the day the stuff got delivered it started pouring and then just wouldn't stop whenever we were home and able to give the project some time. Hopefully it will dry out nicely.

We shouldn't have burned all that other wood, because it would have made nice starter kindling for this not-as-great wood. Lesson learned.

I have to do laundry.

My stomach hurts.

My dogs won't stop barking. By that I do not mean my feet hurt. Gonzo and Brodie just will not shut up.

Geoff is being willfully disobedient and if I could I'd punt him over the fence.

Monday night's Arizona Cardinals/NY Giants game was unreal. I missed it, but thank Jebus for NFL replay because they took the whole game, condensed it to an hour of great highlights and I watched the hapless cards blow a 20 point lead with only 6 minutes left in the game.

This afternoon I had two cub scout mom's over our house to help sort through all the coats and winter accessories we'd gathered up during the Webelo's Coat Drive. I have an entire room in my house that is filled with used winter wear. I've washed more than half of it -- other parents washed the rest. We are dividing the coats up amongst three different Merrimack Valley Shelters, and they will hopefully be delivered during the week this week.

While the moms were here, we had two boys, a three year old girl, and our neighbor friend over playing in the yard. It was chaos. Good fun chaos. For three straight hours.

Well, I did the laundry after all and now my comforter is in the dryer, hopefully becoming dry sometime tonight. I'd better go check it. My not-gay son and his friend who doesn't really think of anything along those lines are now playing hide & seek. I should show them the attic.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Bike, Flood, Moving Day, TV

I don't watch a lot of network TV. Football when it is on the broadcast networks, Simpsons re-runs, and a steady diet of NickToons are the diet my eyes feast upon. Imagine my surprise then when I turned on the TV and caught Jason Lee's newest project "My Name is Earl" and I actually enjoyed it. No, seriously. I liked it.

It had semi-decent dialogue, a quirky premise, and yeah -- it had Jason Lee who played the best demon ever in Kevin Smith's Dogma. I like Jason Lee. He's got that peculiar nose and that lovable loser kind of presence on screen which make me think "hey, I could buy that guy a beer and hang out with him." In real life, I'm sure he'd refuse me buying him a beer... but the appearance of affable approachability is nice in a celebrity.

And because I enjoyed it no one else will and it will be canceled by the end of this season. Like Wonderfalls. Just put money on that.

Another recent finding that I liked is the Adam Carolla Project. I normally don't care for home improvement shows, but I like Adam's humor and he's got this band of merry screw-ups who are working on the house with him, and it is just funny. He has this gay personal assistant who the guys on the crew really seem to like, and he doesn't try hard to fit in with the butch construction guys, he's just himself and he's really sweet. Everyone gets along for the most part but they do argue and fight and then they eat Ozzie's super Barbecue and Adam cracks jokes. My kind of home improvement.

This will be a one-off because the goal of the show is for him to buy a fixer-upper (which he ends up buying from his dad) so he can refurbish it and sell it for a million dollars. So when the project is done, the show is over. Catch it on TLC if you like watching guys try to figure out how to get a huge air conditioning unit off the top of a house without caving in the roof.

I caught Breaking Bonaduce from the beginning the other day and it is one scary show. VH1 even refers to watching the show as a "train wreck" and it is indeed that. I'm not a big fan of a lot of reality shows at all, but this one sucked me right in because I am completely terrified for Gretchen and the kids at this point. Danny Bonaduce basically has an epic nervous breakdown, and the therapy that he and his wife enter into to try and fix where they are in their tenuously balanced marriage rips it to shreds. It can't end good.

On the kid TV front -- I've been watching Catscratch on Nicktoons, and it is really funny. It is about three cats who inherit their owner's fortune when she passes away. They get a butler who takes care of them, and the wackiness ensues. One of the voices is Wayne Knight (Newman from Seinfeld) and he's a riot. The dialog is fast and funny and we sit on the couch and roar.

This has been a rather busy week, and a rather rainy one. It started raining up this way about a week and a half ago. Last Saturday night when I was flipping around the dial, I went past the NH ABC affiliate (because we live so close it is one of our "local channels" in addition to the three Boston broadcast networks). They had a crawl going on the bottom of the screen telling people where they could go for evacuation, what roads were washed out, and all kinds of news and updates from NHEMA. So we watched their 10pm news, and were astonished to see the flood damage in Keene and Antrim and towns along the Connecticut River out in southwestern NH.

It was raining by us, but dude -- nothing like that.

And then it continued to rain all week here. Yesterday was kind of the culmination of some serious insane rain that threatened to have every river over its banks and up into yards and streets across the region. We went over to Haverhill to check out the scene.

merrimack river - Basilere Bridge

The Buttonwoods Trail down along the river is completely underwater, normally the water is about 4 or 5 ft below the trail. I didn't go down there to look because everyone in Haverhill was there checking it out so we went into town.

I've seen the water level high, but never like this.

Yesterday my parents moved.

They packed up the moving truck on Friday in the pouring rain, and drove up yesterday morning. It rained and rained on us as we were unloading the truck. Linda and Ronnie drove up with the cat while my parents rode up in their car along with the moving truck. They all beat us there ... Doug, the kids and I got there around 2 and would have been there a lot sooner if we could have driven faster than 50 on the highway. Roads and highways were being closed all over the place and we totally thought we'd be sleeping on grandma's floor.

It all worked out fine, and of course the minute we finished unpacking the truck the rain stopped. Nice touch mother nature.

Linda made quiche and chicken salad, and we made it home as the sky cleared and we caught the end of the sunset.

Today was gorgeous so we set out to Geocache (of course!) and only got one down before we needed to come home for football. We made it harder than it had to be by not having the right coordinates, but eventually Doug figured out his mistake and we claimed the find. We wanted to hit three, but one had to be our limit. Football is a priority this time of year.

On Friday, my sister bought her BNL tickets for Mohegan Sun. The fan club pre-sale was sold out by the time it was her turn, so she had to go to ticketmaster. She scored some wicked great seats, right on the side of the stage about eight rows back. Not too shabby, considering her fan club seats would have probably been in New Haven. I knew for a fact my seats were in the 30th row, and that made me sad... so I was psyched for her.

And then I got an email from the fan club and the ticket purchase program saying that my seats had been upgraded to section 2 or 3 because the fan club was able to negotiate better seats with the arena. I could be sitting right near Linda, only on the floor, so we can thumbs up one another the whole night.


I am so looking forward to these two shows in December. It cannot come soon enough!

Several weeks ago I asked for advice on how to teach a kid how to ride a bike. We worked on it forever with Geoff and it looked like he was not ever going to get it. I knew he needed a taller bike, and my boss' husband grabbed one at their local dump's "swap shed" and brought it in for us. It is only a fraction of an inch taller, but it is tall enough, and it seemed to do the trick. I spent a full afternoon with him out there talking about balance, brakes, and pedaling. I let him ride in the yard on the grass because it is a lot softer to fall on than the asphalt. Even though it is harder to ride on, it would give him the safe cushion that he needed for each and every inevitable wipe out.

He came home after school one day last week and in the spitting drizzle he spent four hours trying to ride... until I literally dragged him in the house and threw him in a warm shower.

I walked out this afternoon to take laundry down to the basement and he went whizzing past me, peddling like the devil. He got it. He figured it out. And when he saw me he wiped out.

"Do that again!" I yelled as I almost dropped the basket down the deck stairs in my euphoria.

And he did.

He rode around the dog pen and crashed into the swing set.

Okay. He'll spend some time learning about steering, control, brakes and safety. And yes, I went in the house and got his helmet. Now that he has speed, he'll need it.

He rode for another hour, and I'm pretty sure that he'll be able to ride elsewhere in about a week. Just in time for it to be too cold. We live on such a busy assed street that I don't want him riding up and down the road. I'm not sure where I can have him safely ride, unless my neighbor lets us allow him to ride on their trails.

So special thanks to Dave and Gretchen for the bike. It works. And it's fabulous. And you know what this means... Now I need one.

geoff bike

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Breakfast, Woodsmoke on the Breeze...

Points to whomever can reference the quote for the title without using google. Have some pride, people.

Part of me feels we could just live in the livingroom and loft portions of our house now that the woodstove is being used. And then I think, "yeah, right" when Geoff has been up my ass for about 20 straight minutes. Or when someone other than me needs to sit at this computer.

For instance, right now Doug is asnooze in front of the TV and woodstove. The temp has been cranked up thanks to the loving sacrifice of some wood, long cut and sitting in the cubby under our TV set. The previous owner left it for us, and we've rifled through the stash he left behind in about 5 days. Not sure how long he intended it to last for us, but it was a nice gift seeing as neither Doug nor I got around to calling and ordering firewood until today.

puppy woodstove2This past week It got cold enough to want to try out the woodstove. Not to need the stove, if you know what I mean. Friday night I got home from a meeting with Cateringman that lasted until 8 pm ish... I was dogshit tired (another quote from the person who gave us the title), and was surprised to find my house dark and quiet.

Coming in through the deck, the TV was on, kids and Doug were on the couch, and the dogs were in front of the stove. Except for Gonzo, who, we have discovered, fears the woodstove. Jess said that Brodie barked at it when she came in and discovered the first burn. But since then, it has become her one and only love. I think she would climb into it if she had the chance.

Sunday morning Doug was up at 6am and I smelled the fire starting mixed with the smell of bacon and eggs. I thought to myself, my house smells like Camping. Half awake and somewhat dreamy at the hour, I wondered if this was my house or if I was at the house of someone far cooler than I ever could be.

Perhaps I'm at the Hydes'. They heat with wood, and make a killer breakfast for guests. Or I'm at Aaron and Michelle's up in Maine. But Aaron and Michelle never had a woodstove, and they are not together any longer so I wouldn't be at the WindAway... They had plenty of gorgeous mornings and breakfasts for guests there, complete with ocean views when the visitor sat up, rubbing eyes and blinking at dawn herself as she danced over the Blue Hill sunrise.

I want people to come to my house and not mind being woken up by woodsmoke and breakfast, or dogs barking and dancing on their heads. I want to play host to friends who sleep in this room and Geoff wakes up with his waltz-through, but they are able to slip back into sleep as he takes the dogs out to run around the yard.

Want to come stay a night? It's cheaper than a hotel on Travelocity, I swear.

Speaking of staying a night -- one week from tonight we go to Manchester NH to see BNL. I need to figure out what the game plan is, but for the most part I think we will have at least one Jessfriend sleeping here after the show. If things go well, Lizzy and Conourtney will be with us for the show, and we will have girls sleep here in order for me to bring them to school the following morning, albeit maybe a little bit late.

They'll maybe wake up to woodsmoke and breakfast smells.

On Nov. 1st, I may have four tickets to sell. I don't think I've got four takers, so if you are reading as part of the BNL board and you're in Boston -- please leave me a comment or mail me. I will turn to the board shortly, methinks, to unload the 4 tickets I have left over.

Such is life.

That's November 1 people. Keep that in mind. Agganis Arena.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What beautiful catastrophes I have seen

"A hundred times I have thought, New York is a catastrophe,
and fifty times: it is a beautiful catastrophe."

-Le Corbusier

The quote I picked today is from the NYC guidebook that Doug bought for planning our trip. I thought it was beyond appropriate. It is almost like Le Corbusier read my mind.

We left Friday night and luckily caught the last Ferry over to Orient Point. It was rather late when we arrived, and Ronnie and Linda had the fireplace going nicely. Because this was our first visit to their new house, we got the grand tour, settled in, drank g&t's by the fire, chatted, crashed. The queen sized aerobed was set up next to the fire, and by far it was the most comfy place ever to go to sleep.

super fatty breakfast chefThe next morning Linda made us "Super Fatty Breakfast" which consisted of meat, meat, meat, biscuits and sausage gravy, eggs, meat and some more meat. It is no wonder I gained 11 pounds in four days starting things off with a meal like that one! Jeesh!

Here we have Chef Linda whipping up the Super Fatty Breakfast. She outdid herself with deliciousness for sure.

We then went out to look at the Sunken Meadow Pavilion where they will have their wedding in September of 2007. It was a gorgeous day, beyond imagination, and I totally forgot my camera like some sort of dingbat. We enjoyed a nice walk on the boardwalk, made fun of some old lady's pants (seriously, I wish I had that camera, you needed to see these things. They were not a beautiful catastrophe). And then we went out for Mexican food, enjoying every minute of the sangria and the Yankees loss to the Tigers. It was hard not to stand up and laugh out loud in the restaurant as I watched Jeter and A-rod pouting, and the Tigers spraying champagne on the fans, the cops, the entire city of Detroit. Stupid Yankees, I'm glad you lost.

Sunday morning Doug got up at oh my god thirty and started getting ready. We hit the road at about 7:30 and arrived in the area of our hotel at about 8:30. We knew we couldn't check in until 3, so we just wanted to get down there, park, and then go have fun for a while. We scored a really sweet on-street spot right by Trinity Church on Broadway in lower Manhattan, one block away from our hotel, two blocks away from Ground Zero.

We wandered around the little cemetery beside the church and enjoyed the flowers and the tombstones, some dating back to the late 1600s, including heartbreaking graves of small children who didn't survive the first few months of life in this new city. There was one family who laid to rest eight of their children in that one spot. Not sure if they all died at once, or were one child lost after another at a very young age. It ripped at my heart.

100806 7 inside trinityThe church was open, and we went inside to look around. Services were scheduled to start in less than 10 minutes, and an usher invited us to stay if we wanted to. So we did.

It was a nice service, the organ in there is just unbelievable. The priest was excited because at the 11am service they were dedicating their new bells in the chapel. A gift of 12 brand new "change ringing bells," some of which were sitting out in the church yard, were being blessed and dedicated in order to be installed and ready by the end of October.

The sermon was all about philanthropy and commerce. Being seated in the middle of Wall Street, the church actually owns a lot of the land many of the buildings sit on. The pastor really painted a picture of a lot of New York history and the church's role in it, how farmland became sky scraper land, how money begets more money but must beget kindness, giving, support of the full community. And when done everyone benefits. He then talked about the church's relationship with South Africa, and its sister church, and how the 'Rabble rouser for peace' Desmond Tutu will be coming to visit when he is in the US on his book tour later this month. For more information on the change ringing bells, click here. It's really interesting. The photos of the bells in the foundry being constructed, the history of the art... and if you live in Manhattan you can train to be one of these people, the change bell ringers who send out the peals through the canyons of New York.

I think if I lived in Manhattan, this would be my church.

After the service we looked at some more historical information about Alexander Hamilton, and some photography of the area after 9/11. This church is the mother church to the small chapel that sits directly across from Ground Zero, St. Paul's. We walked up to Ground Zero and indeed my thoughts were filled with the voice of Ryan Miller from Guster singing "Empire State" softly and sadly as I looked at the site. We didn't spend much time there. I actually was very annoyed with a lot of the people who were visiting the site.

A lot of people just act like monkeys when it comes down to it. We seem to have lost any sense of reverence for the dead and for the events of 9/11. The hole in the ground is just like any other hole, or perhaps like the grand canyon. You have your photo taken in front of it, grinning like a maniac. You stand there, talking on your cell phone to someone on the other end and say "Nah, I'm not doing anything special. I'm down here at Ground Zero."

T100806 15 special placehe sign tells us that this is a special place. It should be a special place. People shouldn't be chittering like chimps. They should shut the hell up for a minute or two and think. Why is it so damn hard for Americans to be respectful of anything anymore. This is not an amusement park, people. It's a crime scene. A murder site. Shut your mouth for a minute and just ponder.

Perhaps it's too much for someone to do. Thinking about the dead, the loss, it can consume you. And perhaps that is why so few people were doing it.

Another thing bothered me greatly about the site. The multi-media messages hanging around the PATH station identified the dead as "Heroes of 9/11." Doug asked me "when did becoming a murder victim make you a hero?" It boggled my mind, that the concept of heroism, what a hero IS, is very warped these days. Showing up to work and sitting at your desk, and then being blown up doesn't make you a hero, it makes you a victim. A victim of circumstance, a victim of ideology that differs from yours to the point where someone wants you to not exist, to be vaporized. Similarly, the concept of what a victim is has deteriorated horribly here in the US for the past dozen or so years. You're fat, so you're a victim of McDonalds. You smoke and have lung cancer, so now you're a victim of Phillip Morris Corporation's greed. You're not a victim of your own stupidity and free will based choices. No. It is someone else' fault.

The people who died on 9/11 aren't heroes unless they were rushing into the building to try and save the lives of the folks inside. All the people who weren't firemen, or cops, were victims. That said, I'm sure there are stories from inside the towers of individuals doing heroic acts at the moment to try and help others around them. But we'll never know them, and they take those stories to the ends of eternity with them. I would say that indeed heroic acts were done, by victims.

100806 19 st paulsHaving just looked at a series of photographs of what Trinity Church's yard and St. Paul's yard looked like once the dust settled after the towers fell, it was very moving to walk around and look at the late summer flowers, the impatiens, the black eyed susans, the deep green grass...

The only smoke rising around the yard this beautiful morning was from the sausage vendor, who had fired up his hibachi.

Tourists from all over the world wandered the yard, and were far more respectful and reflective here than they were over at Ground Zero, which was directly behind us as I sat on a bench to take this photo. Church services for 11am were underway inside the building, and we'd already attended one Episcopal service that day so I thought sitting in on a second would be a tad much. Instead, we wandered the yard and read inscriptions on things and admired the fact that not a single one of the panes of glass in this building, built in 1766, were broken. A huge sycamore tree saved the building from being destroyed -- and the stump of the tree sits close to the building now, as a memorial to everything that was destroyed and the sacrifices made by others.

St. Paul's was pretty cool.

100806 33 fraunces tavernAfter St. Paul's we walked South, going down past Trinity again, and down between the Canyons of Southern Manhattan to look at all the colonial era buildings that sit in the midst of the skyscrapers. I never knew any of these still existed in the city -- I took a million and a half pictures, you should go visit my Flickr set for NYC. Really. It's worth it.

The contrast of the colonial brick buildings with the glass and steel skyscrapers is really amazing down through here. My favorite was Fraunces Tavern, and the India House, and the Seton Memorial building down by Battery Park. There is a little street called Stone Street that has restaurants all down it, and the cobblestones and three or four story house like buildings lead right up to a monstrous sky scraper. It's pretty amazing.

After soaking in all that architectural texture and contrast, we walked up South Street Seaport up Water Street. I'd never been and had always wanted to go. Yes I know it's just a glorified mall anymore, or like Fanieul Hall in Boston. A tourist trap. But once upon a time it was the Bowery, the skids, the waterfront immortalized in the rough and tumble movies of the 1950s. The ghost of Marlon Brando and Jimmy Cagney would be horrified that now you can eat at Pizzaria Uno, buy a Yankees Jersey (ha! they lost!) and have the finish line for a breast cancer walk where there used to be hoodlums and knife fights and organized crime.

The ships in the pier slips were really cool, and I wanted to see the view of the bridges north of where we were, especially the Brooklyn Bridge. There was indeed an Avon sponsored breast cancer walk taking place and finishing up on that spot, so there were a million pink shirts, pink hats, and screeching cheerleader women making me nuts with their noise.

Doug noted that all the T-shirts they were wearing were emblazoned with the name of the walk. It is the Avon Walk For Breast Cancer.

Read that again.

It doesn't say walk for a cure, walk for awareness. It is a walk for breast cancer. So they're walking FOR - in support of and to help - breast cancer.

From a grammar standpoint, that is all kinds of wrong kids. All kinds. Walking FOR breast cancer. Have these pink shirted women lost their minds!

I'm not a big fan of organized "walks" for anything. I'd rather someone say "Hey Chris, give me 20 dollars and I won't clog up the streets for three days walking for stuff." I know the sentiment behind the walk is philanthropic and supportive, but I'd much rather people stay out of the road and just ask for money. I'd pay to sponsor someone to NOT walk in something. Or pay to sponsor them to do something like plant flowers.

And I'd definately not pay anyone to walk in a charity walk that is grammatically incorrect. Sorry. It should be the Avon Walk AGAINST Breast Cancer, or the Avon Walk for a Cure for Breast Cancer. Someone should have thought that one through.

After making fun of T-shirts with my husband and laughing about misused prepositions for a while, we walked under the Brooklyn Bridge and then headed up to Chinatown.

Doug wanted to do dim sum in a secret, cozy little place on the corner of Elizabeth and Canal street, but he had left his book at the hotel and we couldn't find the restaurant he wanted. Instead, we wandered around to Mulberry, just south of Canal, and got into a cute little Vietnamese spot where the food was unbelievably great and the beer icy cold. We bought Jess some porcelain chop sticks at a gift store and talked about buying a huge waterfall fountain lamp thing for Linda and Ronnie. It was wicked cool, and you could put dry ice in the bottom and it would raise smoke all around. And then there was a cool statue of porcelain people doing the nasty. I thought that would be a nice gift for my sister and her husband too. But then we realized we'd have to carry them around with us and that put the kibosh on that plan. Oh well. Linda and Ronnie, we were thinkin' bout'cha, honest. Next time I'm in the city, I'm so getting that lamp for you.

I think I'm going to stop here and post this and write the rest later. Timeline wise, right here it is about 2pm on Sunday in case you're wondering where we're leaving off. Next up -- the Subway and the Morgan Library! Wooo!

Stay tuned kids. Stay tuned.

NYC Narrative, part 2

I left off with lunch in Chinatown. And shopping for obscene porcelain figures for my sister as a gift. Chinatown was insanely crowded. There were many points where we had to simply walk in the road to get down the street.

Part of me loves Chinatown. The crazy produce, the huge vats of seafood fresh from the ocean this morning waiting for someone to make a purchase and create a galaxy of prawns kind of dinner. All the different languages floating in the air. The rich white kids trying to be slacker chic, the old Vietnamese and Chinese women looking for tonight's meal. The huge black men muttering "DVD DVD DVD DVD" or "Rolex Rolex" as they pass by. That's a Rolex as much as I'm a supermodel dude. Keep moving. The lucky bamboo trees.

Another part of me hates it. Store after store filled with the same useless piece of crap fake leather pocketbooks, the bootleg DVDs, the t-shirts with slogans that were funny last year but have lost any ribald charm.

In thinking about what the pastor at Trinity had to say about commerce and capitalism being good, it is this environment where the cheap and crappy is peddled to the masses that I actually turn my nose up at free enterprise and long for something to buy that is original (like a crazy lamp waterfall thing. I only saw one that day. I saw 50 million John Lennon in a New York City t-shirt standing in front of the Statue of Liberty T-shirts). I didn't smell or see any philanthropy. I didn't see anyone benefiting really. I saw products which will soon line landfills and Big Lots shelves. I saw what makes people really hate Americans. Really.

I told Doug that I simply wasn't enjoying Canal Street, even though I was thinking of the Simpsons the whole time...

Marge: (walking along the streets of Chinatown) Are we still in Little Italy?
Lisa: Actually I think we're in Chinatown now
Marge: Only in New York!

Chinatown wasn't meeting me where I live as far as experiences I want to have go. It was hot, rude, pushy, crowded and dirty. And I had my fill. We started walking north and stopped in at an Army Navy store because Doug wanted a new belt, and I was looking for an interesting backpack. Both of us had our needs met, and we crossed the street to Yellow Rat Bastard to look at Chuck Taylor sneakers with flames shooting off them and Paul Frank Julius monkey shirts. Inside was an odd mix of tourists and goth city kids, skateboarders and Dolce & Gabanna sunglass wearing Long Island girls with big hair. The music was loud, the environment inside was fun. It reminded me of when I was in high school and we'd go shop at the Canal Street Jean Company. Only this was more obviously retail and a lot less punk than it wanted to be. It was like Hot Topic but not in a mall, and with its own magazine.

We decided that because we hadn't even made it into the numbered streets yet that it was time to take the subway up to 37th and Madison to go to the Morgan Library to see this Dylan exhibit they had there because Doug loves him some Dylan history and memorabilia. And I enjoy it too.

We got there and the exhibition was sold out, so we couldn't go in (d'oh). I was actually really irritated because we came all the way up there just to see this exhibition. I was having such a good time way downtown, especially after getting off of Canal Street and into Soho where I could mock the shoppers and their pretentiousness in my head. Doug bought tickets anyway, much to my bitchy chagrin. I didn't really want to go through a museum and look at other stuff when it was so beautiful outside.

Gotta hand it to him -- it was worth the visit even without the Dylan exhibition. I mean, I so would have loved to have seen the Dylan stuff. But once I got over that fact, and my uber-bitchy attitude, I was pleasantly surprised by the things I was seeing... The Morgan Library has some unbelievable stuff, and anyone who loves literature in all its forms really needs to go see the collection.

There is a room filled with precious literary artifacts. Wonderful bestiary books from Persia handwritten and painted in gorgeous Arabic script. Tarot cards from before Tarot was done as fortune telling. Song books by Wagner and Gershwin. A handwritten lyric sheet by Bob Dylan of "It Ain't Me Babe," from when he sketched it out in a London hotel room. Illuminated manuscripts of Jonathan Swift stories. Tiny masterpiece mini-books so delicate and old that I felt even looking at them may destroy them and turn them to dust.

I actually started to cry as I stood there looking at the rough sketches that Jean de Brunhoff did of Babar the Elephant before he wrote the very first book. I'm not sure why it reached out and caught me so off guard in that way, but I was just so deeply moved by realizing these tiny sketches by this one man were such a mustard seed, as he was thinking about making this elephant character and his family -- so small and tiny, so bare and skeletal in design-- and look where his work has grown to. He died so very young, just six years after the first book was published. And while I am sure he knew Babar was popular, I'm sure he never really grasped what would be the success of his franchise. And that blew me away.

We left the Morgan and decided it was time to head down and finally check into our hotel. The subway line we wanted was not running, (the 4 and 5 are messed up on Sundays). We were instructed to get out at this one stop and change to the J train, which never came. Doug entertained himself by watching rats race on the rails. I was semi miserable because there wasn't a place to sit anywhere. No benches, no nothing. Feh! My legs were so sore now because they had stopped moving.


We gave up waiting for the train and walked upstairs and exited the subway, finding that we were at City Hall. We decided to just walk back down towards the hotel. Had we made a better choice and taken the 1/9 to the Staten Island Ferry it would have worked out much better for us. But we had no idea until we made our choice that our line wasn't taking us to Rector after all. Boo. Hiss. The walk wasn't too horrible, but by then my legs were killing me, and I was ready for a cocktail, a hot shower, and a nap.

We checked on our car, it was still there... not towed away like on The City of NY vs. Homer Simpson. We had reservations at the Club Quarters Downtown NY on William Street. It's a membership hotel and they open up their rooms to the Expedia/Travelocity crowds on weekends. But if you want to stay there during the week you've got to be a member. The room was nice and had the best shower I've ever had at a hotel. The desk guy was really nice, and informed us that the holiday parking rules were not in effect for Columbus Day, he thought. But he wasn't sure. Not knowing for sure could have resulted in our car being towed, so we checked with some policemen near the Stock Exchange and they confirmed that the car had to be moved by 7am.

So we moved the car and went out to dinner.

We ended up going right back down to Stone Street where we'd been earlier in the day. We had seen several cool restaurants gearing up for lunchtime, so we figured the places would be open for dinner too. They didn't disappoint. We thought about going to Brouwers or Smorgas Chef, but ended up at the Irish pub Ulysses' because they were the only restaurant open who had had a big huge projection TV.

And the Steelers were playing Sunday Night Football. So that won us in.

Irish pub, football, and on top of that it was Trivia Night. Hells yeah kids. Hells yeah. So we ordered up, we got wings and oysters. We played trivia, we watched the Steelers. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

100806 45 black and tan at ulysses
100806 46 trivia night answer
100806 44 ulysses

Just like with Trinity Church being the place where I'd choose to worship if I were to live in Manhattan, this would be my bar if I were to live in Manhattan... I had an awesome time.

Monday morning Doug was up incredibly early. He'd started to come down with a cold and woke up because he couldn't sleep. He made enough noise to wake the dead, mostly because he wanted me up so we could go explore some more. I finally got up and he went out to get coffee. We didn't have to check out until noon, so it was 9 and we decided to go explore more of the southern tip of the island.

We walked over to Federal Hall, which was where George Washington was sworn in as President once upon a time. It also overlooks the New York Stock Exchange, and the statue of George looks as if he's waving at it. It made us laugh.

Inside, there wasn't a lot to see, it was a nice building, if not a bit austere. Come to find out it isn't the original building where George was sworn in, but a building put up much later after the original was torn down in 1812 and the new building was built as the Custom House for the city. There was one nice presentation about National Parks in NYC, with smaller supporting linked themed panels showing similar parks all around the country. So it was more of a display on how cool National Parks are, not so much how cool THIS building's history is.

In one room the National Archives had a table set up and Doug went over to see what they were showing. He immediately knew it wasn't something he was interested in spending time looking at, but the woman would not stop talking.

Have you ever been in that situation (uh, like you aren't right NOW!) where the person won't shut up? Yeah. We were trapped and couldn't get away.

Luckily we eventually managed to tear our ears away from her grasp when she needed to blow her nose and cough.

We then went over and learned about John Peter Zenger. Do you know who John Peter Zenger is? No? Well neither did we. Seems that no one covered this for either of us when we were in High School History and American Studies classes, so this was at least something interesting to learn about. If you want to find out what he did and why you should know who he is, click here.

On the second floor there was this huge exhibit of Living Memorials to 9-11. There were several small plasma TV screens set up on easel stands spread out through the hallways. Many of them were running sound AT THE SAME TIME.

It was an exhibit about exhibits. It painstakingly outlined the different types of exhibits. Forests, found spaces, city centers... random crap on the side of the road memorials. Oh my Gravy. It was, by far, the biggest waste of space and resources I've EVER seen in my life. The audio all running at the same time was disconcerting and dizzying. The fact that there is an exhibit about how they classify exhibits was just ... wrong.

Doug and I made some more Simpsons themed jokes, like a multi-media presentation dedicated to the makers of multimedia, audio visual presentations. And we misquoted Principal Skinner saying "I'm only in here to get directions for how to get away from here." We could not wait to get off the second floor. It was horrible. Interterrible, as my sister would say.

Overall it seemed like a poorly managed National Park site. There were a lot of park rangers on hand, so it certainly was wonderfully staffed, but there really wasn't anything to do or see.

Japanese TouristWe gawked at the Stock Exchange building and took some cool pictures of the flag, the architecture... the whole area. We walked back over to Broadway up Exchange and went over to the giant brass bull. It was completely swarmed by Japanese Tourists all taking their picture with it.

Some were crouched down behind the bull, grabbing its giant brass balls. They'd take a picture and then chimp it, laughing their heads off. A Dutch or German camera crew desperately wanted to take shots of the bull without the Japanese climbing all over the damn thing, and they politely requested in heavily accented English that everyone clear off so they can "Please just get one shot, please." So the Japanese cleared off, the camera man swooped around the bull, and immediately in his wake the Japanese swooped back in, hugging the bull and posing with it.

I was immensely entertained by this display.

We then walked along but not inside Battery Park because there was all this weird solid fencing up and we didn't want to figure out a way through the maze. We stopped in at the Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, simply because the building was gorgeous and we couldn't resist this gem of architecture.

There was no one inside the chapel, we had the place to ourselves and enjoyed looking at the stained glass and enjoyed the solitude. There was a very peculiar children's book series of pictures posted on the wall, which sort of weirdly explained how Elizabeth came to be Catholic and eventually founded the Sisters of Charity. I found Seton Shrine's website explains her history much better than anything they offered in the building for me to read.

God bless the informative internet.

After Seton Shrine we walked up by Fraunces Tavern again and discovered the restaurant open for lunch, but the Tavern was closed. We asked if we could walk around and take a look. The girl was very nice and allowed us run of the dining rooms, both of which were, well, very incredibly Colonial. It was almost like being at my own house, to be honest. Except with more classy furniture and no dogs. Or dog hair.

5/365We strolled back up Pearl Street where we found a giant inflatable rat, which you know I had to have a picture of because I am a complete and total flickrwhore.

And because, honestly, when is the next time I'm going to see a giant inflatable rat anywhere?

Special thanks to photographer Doug for taking this shot.

We had no idea why this rat was here. We had an idea that perhaps it had something to do with all the street construction they were doing. Maybe it was there to let people know they'd be poisoning rats soon. I don't know. If there are any New Yorkers reading this who can hazard a guess as to why a giant inflatable rat was standing on the side of the road, do leave a comment and let me know.

Hotel checkout went smoothly. Parking garage took forever. We were out the door and up the road in no time, eventually finding our way to the tunnel we wanted and the Long Island Expressway. We got to Linda's and got the kids packed up. Doug was fading fast - the cold was really starting to grip him and he was cranky and tired. So we didn't linger, as much as I would have liked to.

Proud Chrysler OwnerWe hit a ton and a half of traffic going up to the ferry. All the vineyards and pumpkin farms on rte 25 were overflowing with families from the western lands come out to get their fall paraphernalia. We got into the standby line for the 4pm ferry and didn't make it on. Good thing we had reservations for the 5pm. The day was gorgeous -- Doug napped in the car and Geoff and I went and threw rocks and talked to a man who was towing a 1941 Chrysler Highlander from Long Island up to Ottowa Canada.

And yes, he was thrilled to have his picture taken with the car.

The sunset on the sound was unbelievably beautiful -- so I am very glad that we missed the 4pm ferry. We wouldn't have been treated to the beautiful display. I was the queen of friendly up top on the ferry -- playing with my camera I attracted the attention of the couple sitting behind me. They asked questions about digital cameras, because they still had a film camera. I took their picture with the sunset with their camera, and it was the last shot. They were very happy. I took random pictures of little kids playing with the near-far lookers. I took pictures of a lovely black lab and its owner, feeling how much the man loved his dog.

After a while, I asked if I could take a picture of him and the dog. He gladly agreed, and I took a nice one, and met his lovely dog, Buka. Geoff and Buka got along great and there was a lot of love and talk of dogs and how great they are between Geoff and this guy.

I spied another woman using the same camera I have -- and she was having a hard time getting her shot steady. So I walked up and showed her how to change her settings, walking her through with my camera, pressing buttons while she pressed hers. Then we both took the same shot, and had a great time until her battery died.

We got home at about 8:30, and the dogs were so happy to see us. I was happy to see them. In my mind I was pondering the things we didn't get to do that we wanted to do. The Dylan exhibit, taking the subway to Brooklyn and then walking back over the Brooklyn Bridge. Riding the Staten Island Ferry back and forth just to take pictures of the skyline. Taking a circle line sunset tour. We didn't get attacked by C.H.U.D.s or pimps, like Homer Simpson. I guess that is probably the best part.

With all the things we didn't do, I would say we still did a lot. And none of it was wasted time.

And that was my weekend. How was yours?