Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas and Neuropsych testing

This is the third, maybe fourth, time I've sat down to write an entry since my last one. I either get distracted, or just sit here and can't think of anything to say. My brain is tired, and I want to go back to bed. But. For you, dear reader, I slog on forward. Duff Gardens! Hurrah!

It was especially difficult to sit and write when the brain is tired and TBS is running 24 hours of "A Christmas Story" and I was somewhat addicted to it... and can't ... focus... when Ralphie... is about ... to say "Oh, Fuuuuuuuudge." So I abandoned the entry on Saturday.

It was especially difficult to focus to write when it was Thursday and Sunday night and I was kind of overwhelmed by Monkey or Kangaroo wine.

It was especially difficult to abandon my husband with my parents on Monday and come up here and slog through an entry, so I abandoned you instead and sat and had a nice visit. With more monkey wine and a huge prime rib roast a la Douglas. And then I had a food coma, and one cannot write at all when one is in a food coma. Can one? No.

And as my hit counter tells me, all y'all were busy too. Because I think I averaged 20 hits per day from the 21st to yesterday. So I know I'm not alone in my busy and blank-brain slate state. I have a feeling we will all be getting slowly back on track this next week, and that will be good.

I hope everyone had a great holiday, no matter which one was celebrated.

We had a good Christmas here at the house. First Christmas here in our new old house. And it was nice. I know now how much more decorating I can do in the future, and am hoping that the two front rooms will be in a more organized state next year so we can enjoy them more.

For a change, this year I had all my shopping done quite a ways in advance. Except for stocking stuffers for the kids, and I always wait until last minute to get those... Go me!

Doug even did some shopping, because as of late he hasn't had a lot of work in the afternoons so he's been bailing at 3 and coming home. That's another story all together. So he went out and bought things, and helped out quite a bit. And for that I'm exceedingly thankful.

On Friday we had a nice lunch at work, and everyone left early. Except for me. I stayed late and finished what I needed to do. I love having the office to myself and get so much more done, that the three hours I had solo there were more productive than all the hours of the week prior.

Well, not really. It just felt like it. And that is always surprising to me, that perceptions are not always exactly what reality is, but things "feel" different and more successful when circumstances are altered.

On Saturday, I took Geoff to a doctor's office to have neuropsych testing done. His doctor had requested we do this back when he was in Kindergarten. So we did, and he was non-compliant. He took one test, or actually just a part of one test, and walked out of the room. He said he didn't see the point. It was stupid. He couldn't accomplish one of the tasks, so rather than go on he just quit.

Doug and I decided to give him some time to mature and understand the circumstances are that you just don't quit and walk away when you need to take a test. I made this appointment back in September and thought to myself that sure, two days before Christmas will be an EXCELLENT time to ask a very over-hyped and excited 9 year old to sit down and concentrate on neurological tests. I was actually just plain thrilled to get an appointment prior to two years from now, so when they threw the date out there, I scarfed it up like a hungry croc on a piece of steak.

I began to have second thoughts as December 23rd started to approach.

Geoff couldn't concentrate on anything. He was jacked up for Christmas. He was turned up to 11. He was probably more excited and anxious than I ever remember him ever being in his entire life. It started right after Thanksgiving, and I swear to you, I swear... if someone's head was ever going to explode ever in recorded history -- it was Geoff over the last four weeks of his life.

I thought about cancelling the appointment, rescheduling. Something. There was no way I could expect him to perform well on this test. What was I thinking? They threw the date at me and I said "yes! of course!"

I'm a dumbass.

boy of the blue tongue tribeBut we stuck with it and went. Geoff was a trooper -- he finished all the tests the doctor gave him, including two that most kids really hate doing. He was ready for more when she said they were all set and she didn't need to give him anything else. Lately his teacher has had the kids wear special "thinking hats" when they are organizing their writing and working on papers, so Geoff has this little fleece hat that hasn't fit him for a few years, and that's his hat of thinking cap choice.

So he wore it to the testing and said that it made all the difference.

Results won't be surprising. We've got a diagnosis of Nonverbal Learning Disorder. We know he has visual/spacial issues. We know he's left handed. We know all sorts of things about Geoff. This just consolidates the label for him, and allows people to know going forward exactly what he's all about, and hopefully as time goes by, this will help him have some concessions made through middle school, high school and college, so that he can sucessfully complete programs and get places.

I was exceptionally proud of him, seeing as all week he couldn't focus long enough to tie his shoes or eat or anything... so six hours of neuropsych testing was a lot to ask.

Way to go Geoff!

Sunday came and Doug took Geoff and the dogs for a long walk so I could wrap things. Excellent. That afternoon I went out and bought all the last minute things we needed.

Sunday night, we could not get Geoff to go to bed. I had to stay awake, lest I had another "tooth fairy" experience where falling asleep resulted in someone getting up before me and discovering the tooth still there... So by about 11:30 I was ready to kill someone shorter and blonder than me because he just couldn't go to sleep.

He went to bed at 8. Came out at 8:30 all amped up and excited. Went back to bed at 9:30. Came out at 10 saying that he remembered he had things to put under the tree... Went back to bed at 11... was singing in his bed at 11:30.

At about midnight, I switched over from watching "A Christmas Story" to "Dirty Jobs" (love me some Mike Rowe) and realized I didn't hear any more singing. No one was coming downstairs. It was time.

I set everything out, with Doug's help. And he stood there and looked at the two small piles and said "That's IT?"

doug and roboreptile 1Well, yeah. That's it.

Size-wise everything was small... but price-wise, it was huge.

I spent more this year than last year, and they got exactly what they asked for, save for one thing for Jess that I couldn't find and one thing for Geoff that I didn't think he really would ever EVER play with even though he asked for it.

The biggest thing under the tree was a Roboreptile from Santa. Geoff wanted a Robodog... but they were out of stock. Plus, he has three dogs already. He has no skeletal dinosaur monsters... so Santa figured this one would be a better gift.

I'm not sure who enjoys it more... Doug or Geoff.

Speaking of Doug, I had a hard time picking something for him for Christmas. I didn't know what to get in the first place, and then I still was kind of hurt a bit from my birthday being a total fiasco and not getting a gift. Being sick was not his fault -- but not giving me a little something to unwrap, that was.

So I didn't know what to get. I've been of the mindset lately that unique things mean more than just some crap you're TOLD to buy by a TV commercial. My friend Amy said that the recent commercials from jewelry stores telling you what the necklace or diamond symbolizes is crap -- you don't get told by the store what something symbolizes, you create that yourself. I couldn't agree more.

I got in the car and went for a drive, wondering where my wheels would take me. I found myself at an antique store a town or so away, looking at cool things that would look cool in our house.

I bought a cool illustration/drawing thing of different types of snow, and what the conditions are when temperatures are in a certain range... it is meant for cross country skiiers, but I liked the art work. Doug HATES snow -- but I figured that he could shake his fist at the illustration of the scary snow cloud face man thingie while throwing another log on the woodstove, and that would give him some satisfaction.

Also, I picked up a small set of antlers mounted on a piece of wood. They are really small -- mostly meant for keys and whatnot to be hung on. I thought it would look equally nice in our woodstove room -- possibly over the woodstove itself. I like them. I only hope he does too.

Earlier in the month, I started shopping around for him for a Jack Lambert football jersey. I had asked Doug over the summer what player he would want a jersey for, and was surprised by his answer. NFL dot com sells throwback jerseys, but they are prohibitively expensive. Four hundred smackers for a jersey is too rich for my blood. So I dragged my feet and hemmed and hawed and finally broke down and did some searching. I found one online on eBay for $19.00. It was in Korea. They shipped it to me, and the shipping was more than the shirt (I didn't do next-day or express. It was just regular shipping. Next day shipping would have made it as expensive as buying from NFL dot com, I think...)

It arrived yesterday.

So I gave it to him this morning, and he was honestly pleased and surprised. "Too bad I can't wear it while watching them this year..." He said as he looked it over. Guess the season is over, they're done, and that's it.

There's always next year.

And I know that all y'all are wondering what he got me, if anything. He did. He hooked me up with some XM satellite radio in the Subaru, and bought me a stand-alone Epson photo printer. I need to set it up and figure it out, but it looks wicked cool. And the XM is going to come in handy when we take our trip to Florida in February... by car. Yikes.

So he made up for the lack of birthday giving with very wonderful gifts -- and no jewelry store can tell him what a journey necklace symbolizes. Screw that. XM radio is better.

Alright. I am officially very late for work. I wanted to stay home for a bit this morning because Geoff has been complaining that he is bored and misses me and hates that I'm going to work while he's on vacation. "Haven't you ever heard of WINTER BREAK! You need a winter break. You need to stay home on vacation like me."

Sorry honey, sometimes grownups don't get winter break. It's just that way. So yeah -- I'm feeling the mommy guilt today, and really want to not be at work but I have a lot to do... perhaps I'll stay late again on Friday when everyone bails early for New Years.

My contractor just pulled in the driveway, so I may stick around for another hour because Jess is still in bed. I've gotta email the girls or something and let them know I'm coming in later ...

Thursday, December 21, 2006


If we were English as in Engy-land, today's date would be 2112. For those of you unfamiliar with the prog rock stylings of Rush, that's one of their albums, and it is quite good. Epic. It is also today's date. And making 2112 into December 12th, it is also my sister's birthday.

So everyone should go over to her journal. EVERYONE. She hasn't updated it in a little while. Harass her to do so, and then wish her a very happy. You can leave anonymous comments in her journal. But say who you are and where you came from and I'm sure she'll get a laugh. Or... you can mail her at ljf1221 at gmail dot com and send her e-cards and lots of love there too.

Flood the bitch.


I do this because she always gets ripped off every year because her birthday falls four stupid days before Christmas, so I always feel badly that the shuffle of the holiday envelopes and consumes the most important day in an individual's little year. And gobs of loving attention from random weirdo strangers would be something that I bet she'd find amusing. I want you to go forth and bestow upon her many pounds of love and blessing. Please, take a second out of your busy day and do so.

And, if you really want to reach back into the way-out machine, go to the archives to 2001 when I wrote this gem of a piece as a gift to her. I didn't have any money to send her a present (and I am lazy and figured a huge journal article about her wonderousness would compensate for lack of wrapped doo-dads and gimbaughs).

And oftentimes, letting someone know that they changed your life forever when you were three and it wasn't a BAD thing at all (the way you probably thought it was when you were three, or ten, or fifteen) is the best gift you can give. Thanks to the internet, I can point that out every year and remind her that I love her beyond imagination.

Happy birthday, Linda. I know you're reading this. Brace your mailbox for at least five emails!

We have had a rough week. I got home from work on Tuesday night and the house was freezing cold. Absolutely freezing. I checked the thermostats and they were all comfortably set on about 60, so I cranked them to 70 to kick start the furnace. I started a fire in the woodstove and after a few minutes realized I didn't hear the old bitch kick on downstairs.

The furnace... was silent.


When we had the home inspection, the dude said that in his opinion, it would eventually need to be replaced, probably next summer would be a good time. I never imagined it would croak ass on me in December, a mere seven months after we moved in.

Doug got home and I sent him downstairs. If you're familiar with the movie "A Christmas Story" you know the dad would go downstairs to wage battle with the furnace, and swear and yell and carry on while black smoke belched through the wall grates and up the staircase. Well, it wasn't that bad, but Doug did come upstairs and yell fake swears like the dad in the movie, and yelled "It's a clunker!" which is one of the coherent things that comes out of movie dad's mouth.

We had a good laugh, mostly because we strive to find amusement in even the crappiest of events... knowing that the furnace was out, we had to make jokes to mask the sudden fear that ...

we'd have no heat that night. Aside from the woodstove... and we're not really equipped to sleep in the livingroom. Hard floors and nothing cozy to sleep on top of, I found myself kicking my own ass for not buying a couple of aerobeds when I had the chance.

I called our service provider, they pointed us to Keyspan. It was already 7pm, and I was up to my elbows in making chicken parm... The guy said someone would be there by midnight. Well, ain't that just grand.

My mind painted a picture of the guy showing up at 11:30 and needing to be here until 2 am working on the clunker. I thought for sure I'd be up all night.

He was here at 7:30, and gone by 10. He made similar banging noises and was kind of like the dad in "A Christmas Story" but no obscenities flew out of his mouth.

The furnace got going, but he pointed out exactly what was wrong (flow control valve thingies were corroded so the thermostats didn't know what to do... pilot light was out... furnace was a piece of 40 year old crap). He gave us a list of everything that needed to be repaired, and a quote of $7000, for parts, installation and labor. He said to go ahead and get other quotes, but that we should move fast because "If I were a betting man, I'd say it's gonna be dead in about a month. So you should start thinking about starting to think about getting it replaced."

Shite on a shingle.

A few nights ago I wanted to go buy a livingroom set for the front room, and use that savings money to do so. Now I'm glad we didn't... because I don't want to have to go to the well too much and drain it. And both would drain us dry. So I think the front room waits, and the furnace gets replaced. And we don't move into the woodstove room to camp for the rest of the winter.


Anyway -- I gotta jet. I just really wanted to get the news out to go harass a little sister, and dispatch you to do so now. Leave me a comment and let me know if you did. My Mr. Burns-ian "Excellent" will hang around you as you do so.

Now! Go! Bestow birthday wishes, my monkeys! Do my bidding! Mwah ha ha ha!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Trees and Company Holiday Party

Doug and Geoff went out and got our Christmas Tree last night. Normally we go up to Byfield to Pearsons Hardware and Deer Farm off I-95. They have a bazillion trees for sale at a really reasonable price. But they closed at 5pm, and Doug and Geoff got there at 6pm. Who closes at 5pm on what could be the biggest weekend of the cut down tree buying year!?

So Doug was on his way home and passed a roadside sale by the Jaycees, and figured he'd stop in. They had 20 trees left, out of over 400, and he scored a nice one for 20 bucks. Earlier in the week the sign said 35 dollars.

He didn't come home treeless. Which is good. Because I think Geoff's head would explode if they had to come home empty handed.

Geoff is obsessed with calendars, dates and time. Around my birthday he wanted to start decorating for Christmas. I told him that in my little world, Thanksgiving has to be celebrated first, and then after that the Christmas stuff could go up. Well, you know the day after Thanksgiving he's all "when are we getting a tree? Can we put some lights up?" and the nagging continued day after day...

I've said it before, but without the constant Geoff lighting a fire under my assness, I would never get around to doing any decorating at all. I would just leave it until Christmas week. It was obvious when we drove home one night and everyone around us in all directions, including the dentist's office, was lit up for Christmas. And our dark brown house sat in the middle of the lights (all very tasteful and colonial and pretty mind you, nothing wacky...) and it made us look as if we didn't want to participate.

Doug likes the lights IN the house where we can see them. "How often are we outside admiring our own house's lights? I want the lights inside so we can enjoy them where we sit..." So that's what we do. We get strings of little white lights all over the living room and put the tree up and decorate it, and we sit and enjoy.

I had wanted to get a fake tree for the pink room that has little white lights on it and just set it in the corner so it can be seen from the outside, glowing and pretty, in a colonial tasteful way... but Doug doesn't want to waste the money. Maybe next year. Maybe a second tree when we have the brown room all set up (we're looking at furniture and stuff for up in there) to have more formal look in the room. It'll be nice.

Anyway -- that's our tree story. It'll be decked while we watch football, and drink eggnog. And Christmas will finally be underweigh in our house.

Earlier I had mentioned Geoff's calendar and date obsession, how he starts anticipating things weeks in advance and rides the proverbial horse for days until he wears us down by dragging us behind him.

He is equally obsessed on the tail-end of things, when holidays are over. For instance, at school they are reading a book about some haunted town at Halloween time. They started reading it in November, after Halloween was over.

Geoff went ballistic and yelled at me and his teacher, that they cannot read this book because it is Halloween themed and it is not Halloween anymore!!!! She told him that the book came in late from the order, that she'd intended to have them read and report on it earlier, but that it was now there and it didn't matter because it is a good book no matter what date it is.

So he fought her on this and he'd come home crying every day because he didn't want to read a stupid Halloween book at Thanksgiving time. "This book sucks! It is awful! It is a stupid story! I hate it!!!" and he'd just go on and on...

Eventually, as the story got more interesting, like when a creepy hand goes crawling across the room, he got into it and now he likes the book and seems to be enjoying it. But I would almost put money on him writing his book report and having a sentence in there somewhere that says "Even though I had to read this book after Halloween when it was irrelevant..." or something like that.

Equally, Geoff likes him some Egg Nog. We got some egg nog and he'll go nuts drinking egg nog until he gains 15 pounds just from egg nogging. And then, December 26th, no more egg nog is allowed. It's not Christmas anymore.

Last year Doug bought a half gallon of Egg Nog the day before Christmas and Geoff only had three glasses out of it. We tried to get him to drink the rest. After all, he's the one who loves it. And he refused. Because Egg Nog Season is over.

The day after Christmas, he wants to take the tree down. We like to keep it up through Epiphany and even the day after, which is Geoff's birthday. So he nags and nags. But, to be fair, without his constant reminding it would be April by the time I got around to taking the damn thing down. Just like Homer Simpson.

Anyway -- pictures from my company holiday party are up. What is really scary is I posted the exact same amount of pictures this year as last. The yankee swap didn't get nearly as cut-throat as it was last year, but a good time was had by all.

For my swap gift, I bought a bunch of incredibly inappropriate things from a company called Blue Q, and placed them in a wine bottle tube which my girl C had brought in to put a bottle in and put it under the tree. Her bottle of choice wouldn't fit inside her tube, so it was the perfect hiding place for things that were not wine. My company thrives on alcohol gifts. And I knew there would be a lot of booze related things there, so I wanted to go a different route. My stuff fit right into her tube, and I know people would fall for the ruse.

We have this guy who does our produce content for the screen (produce as in fruit and veggie, not produce as in make) and he always wears these Hawaiian shirts.

Does the candy tell truths or lies!?I wanted to get a nutty looking shirt and print out a picture of this guy and put it in the neck. That would be a great gag gift. And it wasn't a bottle of booze. But the stores I went to had no Hawaiian shirts for sale, what with this being ... December. So should have planned ahead.

But I stumbled upon these totally inappropriate things, and thought it would be a lot funnier. And it was. They were a huge hit, especially with this guy. This is the guy. He was all over these candies, and laughed his brains out, and it was awesome. I love that he plays along when I'm retarded and goofy... so cheers. Here's to you JM. You're not a stalker! I'm so relieved.

Last year our friend Mike got this wicked girly candle and he hated on it. This year, he got a gift that someone asked my girl C to pick up for him. We decided to wrap it in about 8 layers of giftwrap... and it was so funny that Mike picked up the gift. The look on his face as he unwrapped a layer, and then saw another layer and then...

My girl C was passing out behind him laughing. It was a real riot.

We all had a good time. It is nice to see the people from our Connecticut office, and from out in the field. For me, in my line of work, I have to interface very infrequently with these folks, so once or twice a year is a ton of fun.

Well, Doug wants to bring the tree in... more later.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Pop go the Ladies

Flickr is broken right now, so I have to entertain myself in other ways. It is sad because I have about 30 pictures from our company holiday party to upload and they're funny (at least I think so). I guess I will write a journal entry and bide my time until Flickr decides to stop being a whiny little brat.

Barenaked Ladies and the Boston Symphony OrchestraWhen last we spoke, your humble narrator had procured four tickets to see the Boston Pops holiday show -- complete with Barenaked Ladies as special holiday guest. I have never gone to see the Pops holiday show, so I didn't know what to expect. I have also never watched a TV broadcast of the Pops holiday show. Again, reinforcing the don't know what to expectness of the evening.

Doug told me we had to dress up. I was slightly confused. I mean, it may be the Boston pops orchestra, but it's the holidays and BNL and silly and... okay. If you insist. He puts on a tie and coat, and I get Geoff into his clothes.

He is FREAKING out. Totally. Freaking out of his ever loving mind. "I'm going to a rock show not a funeral or a wedding! I am a rocker! I'm wearing my jeans and a t-shirt!" I told him, well, if you wear the dress shirt with your jeans and a nice belt and tie, that would be fine in my mind.

But not in Doug's. Doug knew. This is a dress up affair. Not a dress somewhat halfway up. So he battled Geoff and got the dress pants on him. Absolute chaos reigned and I was almost ready to just call two friends and leave the boys home. Screw it. But we all went.

We get to Boston, find easy parking on Huntington Ave at a broken meter in front of the YMCA. Take that Mayor Menino! Ha! We go to Uno's and eat dinner. Geoff is struggling to be civil, what with wearing that tie and all. He argued with us the entire meal about how he's a "rocker" and has to dress like a rocker, not like a nerd.

When we finish up, he goes to the bathroom and comes out with his shirt all unbuttoned, tie off, shirt tails untucked, and this makes Doug's head explode. The fact the boy is alive is a credit to Doug's resolve to not ever need to be in prison.

We go over to Symphony Hall, and everyone there is dressed impeccably. There is fur, there are gowns, there are ties, there are bow ties. There are dress shoes, there are glittery blouses. Everyone is there, dressed to the nines, and my son finally kind of gets it. It's not a rock show -- it's a symphony. And now he's pissed because he doesn't want to see the stupid orchestra. He wants to see Barenaked Ladies. I tell him again and again, you WILL see Barenaked Ladies. I promise you, they are going to be here.

Reference the earlier part of this entry where I say that I've never been to one of these things, so I don't know what to expect. Well. I didn't know that the Pops and the Tanglewood choir would do several numbers. I did not know that a gospel singer named Renese E. King would be singing a couple of songs. I didn't know that Geoff would have to sit through that first. And it was a struggle.

"This is boring. This is STUPID! I hate this!" over and over. He hated Renese King and at the intermission he told my friend Mathmarie "I wanted that lady to get off the stage so the Barenaked Ladies could come on."

I saw my old choir director from our old church. She was there with her lovely daughter. I asked her if she was looking forward to the special guests, Barenaked Ladies -- and she looked at me like I said Purple Monkey Dishwasher. Blank stare. "Who is the special guest?"

Oh dear. I think you're in for it honey. She's very proper and very austere sometimes -- and I immediately got the feeling that the vast majority of people here did not have a clue what they were in for. Sort of like I didn't have a clue that the Pops would be playing without the boys at all... she didn't have a clue who the special guests were. And I looked around. Lots and lots of white haired old people. Lots of obvious BNL fans. And a vast ocean between them of what to expect.

Well, after the intermission, Geoff got his wish. The boys came out and opened with "Jingle Bells." If you have heard it, you know it opens the Barenaked for the Holidays CD that came out a while back. It starts out very traditional, sweet, slow, proper. And then they make it a foot stomping ridiculous romp through the snow with silly lyrics, crazy behavior, excellent drum work and the type of treatment that still gets BNL labeled as the Clown Princes of Pop Music.

My expectations of the crowd reaction were shattered when the boys got goofy. The crowd went nuts. You knew that this was honestly and wonderfully funny, entertaining, and unexpected to them. And people were all around me with their mouths hanging open, not in shock or disbelief -- but in absolute amazement and joy.

Excellent. Score one for the boys of Scarborough.

Steve even mocked the formal feel of the Pops by getting a silly dance on, and then stopping himself, settling himself down with his hands, and then losing control again. Over and over. Keith Lockhart looked over his shoulder while conducting to see what kind of a dance Steve was doing, and then joined in. The crowd again goes totally nuts. Look at the conductor. Mr. Maestro. Losing his professional seriousness and getting his goof on. It was priceless.

So they blast through that, the audience going as nuts as a symphony audience can go. Next they gave us "Three Ships." Kevin played his mandolin, sings the opening lines in his unexpectedly sweet little voice. The choir joins in, Steve almost makes a catastrophic error on entering the song while the choir is singing their part so he just stands there with his mouth open, frozen, as Ed is laughing at his near trainwreck. It is a lovely mix, with the orchestra and the choir. And I look at Geoff, who is sitting beside me, enthralled.

They did "We 3 Kings/God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and Ed tricked the audience with his "It would give me great pleasure to welcome Ms. Sarah Mclachlan to the stage!" joke. And they were sorely let down and disappointed when he said "I said it would give me pleasure but she's not here." ha ha. burned!

BNL did a little banter. Tyler noted that Keith Lockhart coordinates his socks to match his blouse. So the audience found the use of the term blouse entertaining. They talk about melting snowmen and how bottled water is nothing more than pure, sweet melted snowman.

Ed did a little thing on how everyone thinks snowmen are happy go lucky, jolly fellows. But if he were a snowman he'd be pissed off. You stand out there grinning, and then you melt. What fun is there in that? I knew what was coming next and my heart leapt. Jess looked over at me grinning hugely because she knew too. They did my favorite BNL song ever -- "Snowman."

If you want buy a bnl song on iTunes and don't know what to get -- start here. I think it is the sweetest little song, one of the best examples of Ed Robertson's songwriting and guitar work. It makes me cry. Few things on this earth make me cry.

So I sat there, fighting back the tears, and the choir sang back up harmony and the orchestra swelled.

They also did "Green Christmas" which is a little song off the Jim Carey version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." It is a cute, underrated song about envy and sadness at Christmas time. Again -- like the sad snowman song, not your typical "Hey Christmas is so great!" kind of song. Which is why we love BNL.

Hanukkah Blessing was also in there, and I loved hearing it. I love Steve's voice and love hearing all the guys sing the blessing in Hebrew.

And they closed with "Do they know it's Christmas?" The audience clapping along and singing with. It was a great time. At the end of the song, Steve belts into the end of "O Holy Night" with the full orchestra behind him, blasting and cranking it out as only the Operatic Rock Star Steven Page can do.

Someone on the discussion board said that when he does it, it "melts my geld." And I love that phrase. Yes indeed. He melted a lot of geld with that performance, even getting silly in the end by pretending to be surprised when the audience cheered for him as he held that huge high note at the end of "O night divine..." He conducted the audience to cheer and stop, cheer and stop, and then stepped right back where he left off in "divine...."

I enjoyed myself. Geoff enjoyed himself. Doug liked it. Jess was beaming. Our seats were in the absolute dead-last row in the second balcony. The Uecker Seats, if you get the reference. But that didn't matter. They were great. And I was happy. Merry Christmas to me.

We had a great time, but there were folks there who did not.

The people sitting right in front of Doug and Jess were total non-believers in the holiday joy that is BNL. They came to the Pops that night to enjoy a holiday pops show, and they got these jerky Canadian assclowns running around and acting stupid. The man couldn't understand the banter, and when everyone would crack up laughing he turned to his wife with this totally boggled expression, asking "what did he say?"

True, it was difficult to hear in the Uecker Seats. So they missed a lot. They were extra confused when BNL did "Deck The Stills," which is a four part harmonization of the names "Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young," repeated over and over to the tune of "Deck the Halls."

They did it with the full choir, so that was extra funny. Steve said it was the North American premiere of this super secret song. He did this whole DaVinci Code kind of thing, saying these were the original Latin lyrics, lost for centuries. They'd discovered the song lyrics when they were in college at the Sorbonne, and their teacher took them to the Lourve and they flipped over the painting of the Mona Lisa and found them there!

The girl in front of me kept yelling "Wooooooooo!" while applauding, and the woman next to her, the wife portion of the confused, unhappy couple, would shove her finger tips into her ears and look askance at the girl with this total glare of disdain as if to say "How dare you unwashed, uncultured heathens come into Symphony Hall!"

They didn't applaud once.

I felt badly for them on one hand, but on the other... it was very funny. Very very funny. I just don't know what else to say. Poor folks. It helps in life to know what you're getting into when you go somewhere. Like I should know that the pops and the choir perform for a bunch of songs; and they should know that the special unorthodox holiday guests will be goofy goofballs with jeans on and ridiculous fauxhawk hairdoos.

We were tempted to leave after the set was over but were encouraged not to by friends who saw the 1pm performance. The Middlesex County Volunteers Fife and Drum band came out in full Colonial dress and played a couple of songs. They were spectacular. I love the sound of the flutes in harmony, played perfectly, and they just looked kick ass. Geoff was equally impressed.

Santa came out and we did a big sing-along, which was lots of fun, and everyone enjoyed it. I was impressed that Jess knows all the words to "Let it Snow..." because I sure don't.

Then Renese King (yawn) came out again and sang one of my least favorite holiday songs, "Do You Hear What I Hear?" I hate that song. Almost as much as "Little Drummer Boy." Feh. And BNL came out for "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and they sang the Figgy Pudding part. And they were comical, of course.

I wanted more, but it was over. And we went home. I guess this was taped for broadcast "Next Year," meaning next Christmas... so you can see it too, in an overly edited schmaltzed up version on either Channel 4 or PBS.

Well, I guess that's it. I have a holiday party to report on next. So watch for another entry either tonight or tomorrow.

A special shout out of thanks to Bree here, because she tried to get me hooked up with her housemate who works at Symphony Hall, to see if we could upgrade our seats. The guy at the box office was no help and didn't know who Joe was, so we just kept our seats. But I do appreciate that a sistah would let her housemate know that a huge fan of BNL was in the house. Thank you darlin.

Alright. more later.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Not attending this one by phone

A few months ago, tickets for the Boston Symphony Orchestra went up for sale for their Holiday Pops series. There are usually dates with pop/rock/fun bands mixed into the schedule. This year, it was the boys from Scarborough, my boys, my favorite band, Barenaked Ladies. There were two shows scheduled, for 1pm and 8pm today.

Tickets were sold out rather quickly for the night performance and I missed the chance at getting them. I struggled with this fact. BNL, doing a holiday concert, with full blown kickass orchestra, and me not going to be there. Sigh, such is life.

Well, folks offered me tickets for the 1pm show, and I passed. I couldn't justify going to a middle of the day show without at least my daughter with me.

So on a lark I called the box office this morning. The discussion went something like this:

Her: BSO, how may I help you?
Me: Hi. Is there a snowball's chance in hades that you have any tickets available for tonight's 8pm Barenaked Ladies show with the Pops?
Her: Yes. We have tickets.
Me: *Crashes the car*
Her: Ma'am, are you alright?
Me: Absolutely.
Her: How many would you like?
Me: Ooooh. I'm not sure. (I was confused. I was there in traffic not knowing if Doug and Geoff would want to go. I was suddenly having an aneuyrsm from the fact that she said yes instead of laughing in my face, so I didn't have time to really think this through. I expected "NO!" with a great big peal of witchy laughter. I never expected her to have some, and then offer them to me, and ask me how many I would like). Well, two or four, if you've got four together, let me know.
Her: Let's see (typing noises)... here we go. I have two second row seats for $115 each, together. I then have four seats together in the second balcony, row G. Those are $35 dollars a piece.

Well. Conundrum! Second row with Jess tonight alone, or make my entire family join me. Meaning make DOUG join me. I knew the kids would want to join me, no problem. Doug... wellllll.... He's not too keen on Barenaked Ladies. He thinks they're over rated. He doesn't think they're nearly as funny as I do. He thinks they're "okay." He's seen them twice, and that was enough. In his opinion. He doesn't get my obsession. He's tolerant of it. And I suppose that's alright in the end.

But I recalled after the show was sold out, we were discussing the fact that I didn't get tickets and he said d "well, with the BSO, I would have been interested in seeing them. Too bad you didn't get tickets."

Knowing that he said that, I knew my answer.

I got four tickets, Everest-high balcony, for less money than the two second row seats would have been. And we're all going. We are going to see my favorite band with a full kick-ass orchestra. And that's the fact Jack! I'm thrilled. I'm stoked. I'm freakin' out! I'm so excited. I can hardly contain myself!

The kids just got home, and I told them. Geoff said he can't go out on a school night, but I told him that they'll probably do a version of "Jingle Bells" wherein they will malign Batman for smelling awful and Robin will lay an egg. Now he's psyched. If you'll be at the show, you'll hear him squealing from the Balcony, I'm sure.

Anyway -- I've got to get ready. I mean, I don't know what I'm even going to WEAR tonight! It's the BSO! It's SYMPHONY FREAKIN' HALL!

Which tour t-shirt and ripped pair of jeans do I wear?

Kidding. More later. I'm going to a concert.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Attending a concert by phone

So my girl Abbey is in Hartford tonight (and I presume my girl CMM is with her, right!) attending the holiday concert with BNL and Guster. And she's giving me phone love. Lots and lots and lots of phone love.

She called me during Guster's set and I got to hear Satellite, One Man Wrecking Machine and Amsterdam. About an hour later, BNL took the stage and I'm listening to their entire set. So far I've gotten Pinch Me, Old Apartment, Angry People, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and a rap where Ed says that he's a fan of Guster.

I feel like I am so there. And I'm missing "House" in order to 'attend' this concert by phone. Oh snap! Someone else just called me, I don't know who. I'm so loving this phone love thing from barenaked dot net people. Damn.

I wish I could hear what Ed was singing about in this one song he's doing -- it's some funny improv song after Pinch Me. I'm sure Abbey will write something in the comments.

This afternoon I got an email from the guy who does a bunch of programming stuff for my company. He runs a ticket agency out of Connecticut. He had two tickets for tonight's concert and I could have taken them, for free... but I would have had to drive to New Britian CT by 4 pm to get them. And there was no way I was going to be able to do that without like ... leaving the office high and dry. I don't think my boss would have understood.

"Uh, Gretchen, I need to um. .... leave?"

Damn. I was close. So incredibly close. I sat there pondering... pondering... poindering. And then I realized Doug would probably be like "WHA WHA WHAAAAA?" when I called him to say "Hi doug, I'm in Connecticut seeing Guster and Barenaked Ladies."

yeah. that would have gone over really well with Gretchen and with Doug.

My addiction does know boundaries. Sad to say. Very Very Sad. But you should be proud of me and my self control. Damn it! BE PROUD OF ME!

Anyway ... I just thought I'd do another quick entry. And you all missed me for 10 days didn't you. Three entries in less than 2 days. HA!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Boobscan, Backdoor, Guster

Get in line if you want to bitch at me about not updating. Without much further ado or apology, here's the skinny on what has happened since we last spoke. You can hear the voice over man saying "Previously, on (a)musings" and we flash back to the multitude film montage of recent happenings.

As you probably can guess, we've been unbearably busy over here. And a lot of monkey wine (and llama wine, and emu wine, and penguin wine and kangaroo wine) has been consumed by your happy author and her spouse. So much so that I'm sick of wine and will be drinking iced tea until further notice. Meh.

To update from my last entry, my boobscan came back all negative like, so there is no fear there. I hope it stays that way, and thank you ladies and gents for making me laugh in the comments. Regular check ups are in my future, and I'm sure other parts of my body will be checked up on as a close family member was recently diagnosed with cancer in every nook and cranny of her reproductive system, from ovaries to uterus to cervix. My second family member to have such diseases... so I'm sure a lower body check up will be scheduled before the summer.

If you pray, and I know you do (some if not most) please lift Carole for me. She really needs the spirit of healing, the hand of God, and lots of mojo.

I've been Christmas shopping and have pretty much everything I need to get for everyone except Doug and his 3 year old nephew. Seeing as I have to ship the gift to the nephew and niece (via his sister and her husband), I'd best get on that. Last year I waited until last minute and the shipping to guarantee it getting there by Christmas was the same amount as what I spent on the gifts themselves. Seeing as the kids are wee little, they probably won't care about whether or not auntie and uncle got the gifts there on time... they would have been just as thrilled if they got to open more presents later in the week. But I have this skewed sense that everything has to be done by the 24th. That way you and your monkey wine can just kick back and enjoy the tree and lights.

This year I want to have everything shipped by next weekend. I feel I've got plenty of time. Watch me start panicking after the 17th.

Doug's parents shipped up a box of ornaments that belong to Doug. I haven't looked at them. I bet they are highly fragile... and I may want to put them away until the children and dogs don't live here anymore.

Wall-lessI just hung some Christmas lights in the woodstove room, where we spend the vast majority of our time. It looks kickass. Four strings of 100 lights each makes for a happy site.

Now all we need is our tree, which we'll get next weekend.

We haven't gotten the tree yet because we are having the doors replaced on the back side of the woodstove room. We knew when we bought the house that the things needed to go, and so they're in process. For you home improvement lovers, I'll talk about what's being done in length later.

Speaking of lights, all of ours were in the way back of our garage from the day of the move. The two boxes of Christmas decorations were moved over the night before we actually moved, and with the help of Carrie (My Other Girl C) and her big white truck.

Or maybe it was the morning of the move. I forget already.

Anyway -- I realized with great sadness that the two boxes were buried behind all the stuff that we still needed to sort through. All the stuff that should be up in the attic but hadn't made it up there yet.

So in order to access the Christmas things, I emptied the entire damn garage. And my children carried everything to the attic.

This is a very very good reason to have children, all of you sitting on the fence and wondering if you should procreate or eschew fecundity.

When you are old and 40 and your back hurts from tugging on the 800 pound camp kitchen that your friend Aaron left at your house three or four years ago along with the 90,000 pounds of other stuff that you accumulated that your husband didn't want to throw away before the big move, it's good to have two very able bodied children to schlep the crapola up the two flights of stairs. They earned all that they will receive from Santa, all in that one day.

Wonderfully now, our garage is fairly empty. And the attic is fairly full. That's the way it should be... it's good to have this major project out of the way. Now if we could just go buy the couch and set up the front formal living room the way we want it, life would be extra good.

The Onion - our gift to mikey!My Girl C from the office and I wrote and laid out a terrificOnion parody for our friend Mike. You need to click on the picture and then view the full-sized version to fully appreciate how awesomely funny it is.

I am a huge Onion fan, and we were talking about last year's holiday party and recalling how funny this incident was. Mike ended up with a girly gift (bought by Courtney) so we thought it would be hysterical if he would be mad this year if he got a crappy gift.

And then the story wrote itself.

Go read -- you know you want to.

We printed it out and then mocked up a very official looking FedEx label making it look as if The Onion offices was mailing him something. We even spelled the name of our company wrong (everyone always leaves the "e" out of our name, so we followed suit...). At first, he was a bit baffled, but he opened it and loved it. To see his reaction, click here.

This past weekend we got to go celebrate Carrie (see big white truck reference above) otherwise known as My Other Girl C (not to take away from My Girl C in the office) and her wonderful birthday. Her M and sister R rented a limo and invited us, E&J and DS (not knowing if they want their names mentioned I fall back on the initials). We went with champagne and brie down to Boston to PF Chang's for dinner.

I got to sit with DS and talk about his involvement with the Playomatics in the recent Boston 48 hour film project events, among other things. Specifically I was able to gush to him about how much I loved their 2004 entry where he uttered the phrase that gives us today's title. It was wonderful to see him. It's been far too long.

We then made our way, stuffed to the gills, across town to Mike's Pastry in the North End for cake and cake. Seriously. Chocolate cake and Strawberry whipped cream cake. Cake and cake. And the cake and cake was delightful. And My Other Girl C was ready to explode with joy.

I've not been to Mike's in many years, so it was fun to go. And the place was mobbed. The entire North End was one great big huge mess with 98,000 people per square inch. But we managed to get out of the limo, get into the cake, and get back in the limo and have a great time while millions of other people were standing there looking lost and hungry in line. Ha! Good times.

Friday night, I was sorely SORELY tempted to go to Boston to wait out in the cold for hours for the opportunity to hear 4 or 5 songs by Guster, live and in person. First Act guitar studios hosted them, and in small waves of about 100 people they let folks into the building to hear short sets by the band.

The cold was a deciding factor for me. I knew that Geoff would want to go, and I would want to take him so he could see his huge heroes live and in person. But I want to take him to an official show, not a four song set.

God decided for me -- I ended up with a catastrophic migraine that landed me in bed at about 7pm when they took the stage.

But seriously -- we missed out totally. Adam is over his pneumonia, everyone was in great spirits. From the discussion going on at the boards the crowd wasn't nearly as huge as I'd anticipated it would be (the cold may have been a factor) and everyone who waited got to get in to see the boys. In any case, someone videotaped most of the set they were in for.

And this is a little taste of what we missed:

Jesus on the Radio, performed live in Boston 12/8/06
video by armwriting

Well that's pretty much it. There's other stuff that I'd love to talk about if I could only remember. I should blog more regularly, then I wouldn't forget what I wanted to talk about. Right?Anyway -- more later, and I will promise to you it won't be a 10 day break. For those of you who care.

Project Backdoor

When we had our home inspection, the guy said there was one thing that absolutely had to be done to the house. And that was the set of doors on the back of our woodstove room would have to be replaced.

The back of the woodstove room is primarily a wall of glass. It looks awesome and gives you the sense of being in a sunroom sometimes, but it is really worn down and beat. There are four vertical panes - the center two are doors that open into the room while the outer two are fixed and don't open.

The doors are probably 20 years old, and were rather cheap -- single pane glass, not very thermally sound. Really not made for use in this part of the country. The first couple of cold nights in late November really woke us up to the reality that this wall of glass was a heat sink, and it was probably warmer outside on the other side of the glass than it was on the inside.

lucas jake geoff
gonzo brodie geoff

From these photos, you can see that the bottoms of the door and the door frame outside are trashed. The deck and the house are flush to one another. There isn't a step down. This is often referred to as "California Style" decking, when you just walk straight from inside to deck.

That's great for California, or the desert, but in places where it rains, the water hits the deck and splashes back at the doors and the house and you end up with a lot of water damage. Especially if the roof doesn't have a gutter or a diverter or a really nice long lip to channel water away from the deck. Which our roof does not have.

And that is exactly what was happening here -- the water would hit the deck and splash up. For years and years. The doors were swollen and weak, and Brodie was able to eat the moulding off of the doorframe one day when she was out on the deck hanging out this summer. Combine the poor thermal properties of the doors with the splash back California style decking, and we've got a project. We hired our contractor to come out and figure out all that needed to be done.

We wanted the following:

1) new doors, in the exact same style as what we have but really good quality.
2) deck - gone. We'll decide what to do with the space later. We need to go a step-down and one cannot really step down out of the doors to another deck... there isn't room between the house and the ground to have a step to deck. So we're thinking patio.
3) inside the room, a 20 square foot area of tile where the doors open, because the wide pine flooring in that area is already beat to hell and we're just going to wear it out more with dogs, kids, mud, dogs, mud and kids.

Todd, our contractor, was afraid when he pulled the deck off that the sill under the doors was going to need to be replaced. Luckily, it was in fine condition. The siding all around was shot, and he discovered that up above the doors there is a mysterious water source that he can't pinpoint the location of. When he took the doors off and the siding down, water came flowing towards him from up above...

Just what you'd expect. The minute you start to do one project, another one rears its ugly head. He thinks the area around our chimney for the woodstove may be compromised and leaking so when he is done with this, he'll climb up there and take a look.

So that's where we are. The doors were removed, the deck was removed (see yesterday's entry for that photo) and new doors were put in. They're great -- much better at keeping the room somewhat warm than the old things, where if you placed your hand on the glass it would freeze like Flick's tongue in "A Christmas Story." I double dog dare ya.

The finish work needs to be done, and the flooring inside. Todd should have all that done by next week. He's got three projects going on and the holidays are upon us. I wanted to have this done before Christmas, but I guess I'll be happy to have it done for New Years. And we won't freeze to death in the end. Horray!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hooray for boobies

In addition to discovering that when I cough very hard I pee my pants, turning 40 has revealed yet another joy to me. My doctor sent me in for my very first mammogram. Horray!

I had a physical in May, and he said "Oh! I notice in six months you turn 40! How cool is that! Guess what I'm getting you? A referral! For a mammogram! You'll thank me later." Groaning, I took the referral slip from him.

"Don't complain. When I turned 40 someone stuck their finger up my butt, so it could be worse. You could be a guy."

Nice. Thanks Doc. You're funny.

Six months passed and I totally forgot that I had an appointment until a letter came in the mail on Monday reminding me not to drink caffeine and to not wear any deodorant because it will make weird shadows on the x-rays and I'll have to come in for a mulligan. Bleah.

Un-caffeinated and un-deodorized, I made it to the hospital. I was the first person in the waiting room, and about 10 people came in after me. Nine of them were called in before me, which had me irritated and questioning what the deal was. I don't know why they all got to go first.

Perhaps they were all there for doctors appointments to discuss biopsies and cancer, mastecotmies and treatments. There was a woman there who was undergoing radiation and chemo for breast cancer. She came up to the reception and gave her birthdate and I overheard that she was two years younger than I am.

She had a lot of make up on, and looked as if she's been going to a fake & bake to get a glorious tan. She smelled of cigarettes. Which makes me think that just because she is two years younger than I that she had made a lot of prior bad life choices (and continues to probably do so).

I felt her life choices put her in a more at-risk league than I may be. I felt for her, but also had to sit and wonder (not judge, just wonder, mind you. There is a huge difference) what she was thinking. One could say the same thing sitting across from me, noticing how heavy I am when they are a size 2. I guess we're all in the same league after all.

I finally got called in (a half hour later than my appointment) got undressed and johnnied up, and went into the room. The tech looked at me and realized she could use the tiny squisher panel, not the huge heavy-duty squisher panel. That made me feel pretty under-endowed. But somewhat relieved.

Horray for small boobies!

She set me up and was very calming and reassuring even though I didn't need to be calmed and reassured. I knew that what I was going through was something of a rite of passage, a mandatory act for women crossing my age threshold. I stood there holding my breath while listening to the x-ray machine make its buzzing noises thankful that I lived somewhere that this kind of screening is very readily available to people, and thankful that my joking-assed doctor sent me in. I held my breath and said little prayers for anyone going through cancer treatments, anyone getting a call-back from a bad or questionable scan.

I thanked God for my 40 year old tiny boobies and finished up after being squished 8 times (4 on each side. Horray!) and went to work.

I know yesterday was World AIDS day, but my thoughts were with the pink ribbon clan instead.