Thursday, May 31, 2007

Better to be pissed off than to be pissed on...

"Fool me seven times, shame on you.
Fool me eight or more times, shame on me."
- Amy Wong, Futurama

That's what they say, but the sad truth is right now I am a lot of both.

Picture this. 9pm, I'm really tired. I go to bed. Brodie is sleeping with me. Doug comes to bed. Doug is asleep. Everyone is fast afreakingsleep. Suddenly, WHOOSH! Brodie pisses in her sleep, all... over... me.

What the hell?

I jump out of bed, Doug asked me what happened, and I tell him as I'm scrubbing the mattress, knowing full well if I were him I'd be saying "shah, right!" He rolls over and goes back to sleep. It's millions of miles away from him on the bed. Like comparing the location of Yuma Arizona to Chicago Illinois, so he doesn't care. Schnooore, schnoooore, schnooooooore... I scrub the bed, I take a shower, I change. I take the dogs out where obviously little miss puppy pissah doesn't need to pee, but Gonzo and Jack take care of some business.

Then I look at the clock and see that it isn't even midnight yet. Great. Now I'm wide awake. Good luck to my sorry lame ass getting back to sleep. It's like taking a nap too close to bedtime, and then at bedtime you can't fall asleep. Only I was in the middle of bedtime and now I'm screwed. Oh the joy.

Just thought you'd like to know. Because I haven't updated the blog all week.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Holiday Weekend

I love long weekends. I love waking up on Sunday morning at about 9am and realizing that I get to to it again TOMORROW! How awesome is that. Here is a run down of all of the incredibly interesting things that have happened in my life since last we chatted.

We were going to go camping - but then we realized we didn't have medical records for Gonzo and Brodie that showed they have their vaccinations up to date. We realized it, of course, rather late into the game on Friday. I called the vet to find they were closed and that they were not open on Saturday due to the long weekend, but if we had a medical emergency to call blah blah blah...

So no chance of getting paperwork. Sigh. Instead, we've opted to do nothing but hang out and have fun here. And that is sometimes a really good thing.

idahoI got my last USA license plate picture taken this week.

For those of you who have been reading me for some time, you know that back in July of 2005 I started taking pictures of license plates from different states.

For the better part of the last year, I only needed Nebraska and Idaho to complete the set. Nebraska was found while we were driving home from Florida back in February, and I had high hopes that we'd see an Idaho, but no luck... Idaho is a long way from Eastern MA, so I was relatively sure I was doomed. But on Wednesday, I had to run by the mall for something. And I usually don't ever commute that way home. I picked up what I needed, and started heading to the highway when I noticed a car in the left lane driving relatively slowly... and everyone going around it and zooming up the left lane. I got into the left lane, knowing that I didn't want to get trapped behind this slowpoke... and as I approached I saw the plate. Quickly, I got back behind it and grabbed in my bag for the camera.

Usually in these instances, I find myself without the camera, or with it but dead batteries within. That day, the camera was THERE and the batteries CHARGED and man was I psyched. We hit a stop light and I zoomed in really close and nailed the shot and then sat there giggling. I really wanted the driver to pull into the McDonalds or the Dunkin Donuts, and I was so going to follow them in and ask them to take a picture of me WITH the plate so I could commemorate the moment with a self portrait... but they got on Rte. 1 South and I was heading to 95 North. But... I got it. License Plate Safari -- complete!

Well, complete to an extent... there are some Canadian Provinces I'd like to get, and I don't have a Washington DC plate or Puerto Rico (I've seen a couple) or that Guam plate I saw in Portsmouth NH... and Mexico! Maybe I'll see a Mexican state plate somewhere. We saw a lot of them in 2001 when we were in the South West. So yeah -- maybe I'll see more plates to add to the collection.

But all 50 US states are done. And that makes me smile. If you want to see the set -- it is here. Go ahead and bask in the glory of my awesome achievement. You know you want to.

231/365 towel dayFriday was Towel Day. Many people took their portraits for the Pool in Flickr, and I was among them. One of my favorites was a shot taken by Mikey, but because he's got it set up for only friends to see, you can't see it. Sorry.

But you'll have to believe me that it is a great shot. In the meantime, if you want to see another one of his towel day shots, this is a good one to go look at. It sums up visually all the reasons why I love me some skinny black man.

I didn't tell the girls in the office to remember to bring a towel... so I was the only one. Sigh. We had a picnic at G's house, and it was like 90 degrees out. The towel came in handy for patting my brow from the heat. Douglas Adams was right... towels are very important to have.

On Friday, on the way into work, I passed the Eastman Gelatine plant in Peabody the way I do every day. They were tearing down a structure, and had the road blocked off, and tons of equipment and cops and stuff everywhere. It took forever to get through the area. I hate my commute. But you never know what you're gonna see, so I pulled over and took a couple of pictures.

building destruction -  peabody maI have no clue what the structure was that they were tearing down. It's been there for a bazillion years, and I have been driving past it either as a commuter or as someone just going through the area since 1984.

Suffice to say that it is kind of weird to know that something that my eyes have crossed almost daily for three years will no longer be there. It isn't important to me or my life, and it doesn't change my commute or my point of view by it not being there any longer.

It is just odd to realize that something you see every day won't be there anymore.

While I was taking pictures, I noticed a woman waiting at the bus stop. This woman waits at the bus stop every day. No matter the weather. I tend to come through the area anywhere between 9 and 9:30 depending on how bad the traffic has been, and without fail I see her there during that stretch of time.

I've driven by during really cold weather and have actually thought about stopping to let her sit in the car because it would be so much nicer -- but I have no idea what time her bus will be coming, and I wouldn't want to make her miss it... if they don't stop because they don't see her standing there.

mary in peabodyShe was standing there watching the building get demolished, so I walked over to say hello.

We chatted for a while, and she told me she goes to the senior center every day, and then takes the bus over to the mall to walk. And then she comes home after lunch time. Every day she goes out because "it is pointless to spend your whole day inside looking at the same walls."

I told her I see her every day and I say a prayer for her (I do, honestly) and that I've thought of stopping to let her sit in the car when it is cold because I worry about her. She laughed and told me that is a nice thought, but the senior bus won't stop if they don't see her there. If she missed the bus and then I'd have to drive her.

She laughed... and she said she likes the cold because it makes her "old body feel alive."

I asked if I could take her picture and she told me no -- who would want to have a picture of an old old woman... (in the picture, she's saying "old"). I told her I did, and that I already took it. She told me to print it and burn it...

She said something that I think I've said here a few times, and that my friend Keri has also written about... "when I look in the mirror some mornings, I can't believe how many wrinkles there are, and how old I am. I don't feel the wrinkles when they come. And I don't think I look like that face. So I hate pictures of me, because they don't look like what I think I look like... so throw that picture out. Burn it." And she laughed.

As I walked back to the car, I realized that time is tearing down Mary and each one of us like the equipment ripping down the structure at Eastman Gelatine. Someday, Mary won't be standing there at the bus stop.

...It is just odd to realize that something you see every day won't be there anymore.

I heard the crunch of the machinery eating into the concrete, and looked over my shoulder at Mary placidly watching the work. And I found myself crying as I pulled back into traffic to head to work.

Yesterday Geoff stepped on his guitar and broke it.

I lost my cotton picking mind.

We had a huge argument over how he keeps his room, and he told me that because the room is so small it is impossible to keep clean. Bullshit. I started tearing it apart, cleaning it and throwing things out. Three hours later, it was rearranged, organized, and stuff was put away. He was shocked at how it looked and I told him that every single day he has to spend at least five minutes putting stuff away.

If he spends just that much time, the room will be fine.

Kayla was here visiting for the day and she and Jess helped out a little.

When Kayla heard me say that Geoff's guitar was destroyed she didn't believe me. I told her it was in the garbage, dead, gone, buried.

"Did he break the neck or just the body?"

Just the body. But it is trashed.

"It's not ruined. I can fix it."

Kayla likes to fix things, and thinks (rightly so sometimes) that she knows more than I do. We sparred back and forth and she insisted she could repair it. She wouldn't drop it, and finally I just gave up and told her "do whatever you want but it isn't going to work."

She went downstairs and pulled it out of the trash. She asked Doug for some duct tape and scissors and he didn't even question why one of our daughter's friends wanted duct tape and scissors -- he gave them to her. And she set to work.

She duct taped it all back together, wrote his name on the duct tape with a sharpie to make it look intentionally cool... and brought it to me. It's ugly, but as Kayla put it, "it's all rock and roll now."

"You give up too easily Mrs. Jebbie's Mom," she says to me.

I told her it wasn't so much that I gave up too easily, I so just didn't want to DEAL with how mad it made me that he wrecked something due to his own laziness. Every day I tell him "pick the guitar up, stand it in the corner, put it on the bookcase, put it on your bureau, stand it in your closet... it is going to get damaged or broken. Do it or you'll be sorry." And what I say is going to happen happens, and he blames the size of his room instead of himself. So it pissed me off to no end and I just pitched it.

Because Kayla is a lot like Geoff, she saw an opportunity to help him out. And I think she's sweet for taking it. Part of me wishes she hadn't because now he's not embracing the fact that his actions have really negative consequences.

Now he believes that duct tape fixes everything.

Anyway. His room is now spotless and wonderful and I hope it stays that way. And I also am mad at myself because there is still so much to do and clean and unpack from last year's move, and I feel like it will never be completed.

After cleaning Geoff's room, I went out and planted the plants that Geoff seeded in April. He planted a million morning glories and Mexican sunflowers. Of the million quite a few grew up into viable plants and it was time to get things into the ground. I planted 12 morning glory plants up front on the fence, and eight on the side fence. I disturbed a spider's nest and had eighty million spiders spring up out of the ground and engulf my leg. The fact I didn't run screaming into the street amazes me. I brushed them all off and actually apologized to them for wrecking their house.

Something's wrong with me if I'm saying stuff like that ...

Anyway, then I cut the grass that is all growing up in the giant irises and lilies. Doug did a ton of weedwhacking and the yard looks spectacular. Where in April the ground was bare and dog-tracked and just about completely wrecked, we've got gorgeous grass. He did a tremendous job of keeping the dogs off the areas that needed healed, and the dogs are now lounging comfortably in the deep and happy green sea of yard.

I still have some grass to cut out front of the house in the irises up there, and will get to that as soon as I'm done here.

Now all we have to do is go buy the stone for our patio, and things will be so rocking and rolling. Yay!

Yesterday, I cleaned Geoff's room and did gardening instead of going into Boston to see Guster perform a free concert (with about five other bands going on before them) for the WBOS Earthfest event. I passed on it purposely, because the last free outdoor concert I went to (remember, Tess?!) turned out to be a near disaster. I don't like crowds. I don't like going in and staking out some turf and sitting there for HOURS waiting for my favorite band, only to have shitheads show up right when that band starts and STAND IN FRONT OF ME... and when asked to move they get nasty.

Tess can attest. I will never forget the woman grabbing her flabby ass cheeks and shaking them in my face when I told her that I wanted to see Bruce Cockburn and not her rump.

So I knew that the free live Gusters would bring in a humongous crowd. It was a gorgeous day which meant even MORE people would be there, and I just didn't want to deal.

Although my love for the gus is great... I love my sanity more. I got some phone love from Maryanna (thank you) during Captain, and Ken took video of a few of the songs that came out really good (except when people walked in front of his camera while he was taping). The sound was great, and the band looked awesome... I'm sure that had I gone down early enough and got right up front there, a good time would have been had... but I am glad I stayed home.

If you'd like to see the roundup, Universal Hub actually has a nice collection of info and a link to one of Ken's videos. Go have a look. You know you want to.

Alright -- that grass in the irises isn't going to go away on its own. I'm outta here. Got lots to do today -- we're out of detergent so I need to go get some, and I want buffalo wings but there isn't any buffalo sauce or bleu cheese. So yeah. Lots to accomplish outside of this seat today.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Towel Day is upon us!

"Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we do now."
-Douglas Adams

Do not forget -- Today is Towel Day! In honor of Douglas Adams.
Do you have your towel? You know I gots mine!

May 25 , 2007 - Towel Day is upon us!

Dang. I let my daughter leave for school without her towel. Now HOW is she going to nerd it up at school? Tell me. How. She didn't wear a pi t-shirt on Pi Day... and now she has no towel. She's losing her geek street cred.

To be fair, I had just woken up and was dealing with Geoff, who was irritated beyond all imagination that there is no butter, peanut butter, jelly or cream cheese in the house for his toast. Any other day of the year he'd gladly eat it plain, but today he decides to make a huuuuuuge deal about it. He started playing his flute this morning at 6:30. No trucks used their Jake Brakes today but every dog on the street decided to start barking at around 5, so this morning has been chaos for my ears and nerves.

So Jess is towel-less thanks to my lack of parental supervision. I hope she survives the day. Perhaps I should drive over to the school in my pyjamas and unkempt hair screaming "YOUR TOWEL! You forgot your towel!" and run throug the parking lot in my flip flops frantically waving it over my head.

Perhaps not.

For memory's sake, here's a photo from the archives:

towel day on moving day 2006

One year ago tonight at about 11:30pm I took my picture with my towel after taking the hottest, longest shower ever (until the next day, when I took the hottest, longest shower ever after the big move).

I look bloated and tired, but I was confident that we were in good shape for the move. Boy, was I ever wrong. Holy crap was I ever wrong.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of our big and quite horrible move. One year. And many a towel has been around the neck of this hitchiker during that year's time. Hopefully many more will adorn me through the coming years here.

In other news, another Jess has helped me again with the feed thing. She taught me how to update the xml file and it takes about 12 hours to see the change if you're using bloglines. If you subscribed in the past, unsubscribe and resubscribe, and let me know if you have problems. Peter had difficulty with google reader, but bloglines worked fine for me. So I'd like to know who out there is getting on okay with the subscription thing. I feel so 21st century, even though I'm still a Dreamweaver using blogger.

Additionally, the other day I mentioned that we upgraded our DirectTV to the DVR. I don't know what we were thinking not doing this sooner. It is tremendous. I'm no longer trapped by what is being served up by "the man." If there is nothing good on, now I've got 8 episodes of Deadliest Catch to go through and can do so without the commercials. Doug recorded an afternoon marathon's worth of No Reservations, so we watched them all back to back the other night. And even though I can sit here on the PC and watch Mr. Meaty, I can now watch five or six episodes and laugh at the misadventures of my favorite fast food puppets.

The kids went nuts and checked off about eight million things to record. Which is funny when I'm actually watching live TV and the system tells me it needs to kick me off so it can tape another show. There are only 2 tuners in our version, so one records while you watch live TV or both record. I had to educate them that I may be cancelling stuff they're recording if I'm actually watching something "for real."

It's fun though -- I can't believe we have lived without it for so long. We're such luddites.

Anyway -- it's memorial day weekend. I double booked myself for a lunch date with my friend Keri to sign Jess up for her Shakespeare camp this summer, and didn't realize we were having lunch at Gretchen's house today. Hmmm. Good thing that I have little hanging over my head today and can run and meet Keri briefly and then go enjoy lunch with my office bitches.

I have a lot to do here this weekend and Doug is looking at stone for the patio today. Who knows... we may be laying some rock down at some point and gettin'er done.

Alright -- I'm off. More later.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Jake Brake

Compared to last May when we had recordbreaking rainfall, this May has been downright frigid. We had a frost warning the other night. And yes -- one should never EVER put their garden in before Memorial Day Weekend... but this is cutting it close.

A few weeks ago it got up into the 80s so our second floor turned into a furnace. When the heat broke and it got all cold again, the windows (and in some cases, like this room, the storm windows) were lowered. Sashes shutting out the lovely scent of the lilacs. Last night was warm enough upstairs that I opened our windows, again. And this morning at 6:05 I was shocked awake by a huge semi-truck barrel assing up our street at top speeds. Dude applied his Jake Brake, which sounds like a machine gun, right under my window.

Thanks. Asshat. Way to start my day.

I know it's morning and I know I have to wake up and get out of bed anyway, but there is something spectacularly unwonderful about being scared shitless first thing in the morning. I doubt that anyone would do a drive-by shooting in my neighborhood. Worst I think I can look forward to is perhaps a toilet papering, but I don't see that like we used to do back in High School.

A couple of years ago, they changed some major truck routes in our area for some humongous construction project happening in Haverhill, so the trucks go down our street instead of driving 2 miles "out of their way" on the state numbered roads. So they save time, they save gas money, and it reduces pollution.

Thing is -- these roads over here are not designed to carry humongous semi-trucks filled with dirty fill. The roads are degrading. There are houses around the corner from here that have started to show foundation damage due to the weight and rumble of the trucks.

But some construction guy is saving a few bucks so that's okay. I know for a fact that without trucks and truck drivers America stops. I'm aware of their importance in our society. Not sure why you need to Jake Brake in the middle of a residential neighborhood before the robins are up puling their first worm of the day, but that's just part of life and I should suck it up.

Whatever. I'm still pissed off.

I hate it being 7 am and I'm already in a piss poor mood. I don't enjoy starting my day angry. I hate my commute, I don't enjoy going into my office where it is 90 degrees inside due to our failed AC system, and sitting there all day with a headache already.

Wish me luck. I feel like today is the day wehre I just crawl into a corner and die.

And it just crossed my mind -- it isn't often that you get a real gripey entry from me. I've been incredibly good and optimistic as of late, so my apologies to those of you who come here looking for something a little lighter and less ... feh.

May 25th is Towel Day, and this time last year we were up to our asses in boxes and moving and horrors. If you recall, it was the worst experience of my adult life. To refresh your memory, you can go back to May 25, and 26, and 30th. It was a true horror show, one that I never wish to relive. To this day I'm shocked that it went as poorly as it did and am still mad about some of the events that took place during that week. But to this day I am also still incredibly thankful for my girl C (the non-office one) and Mrs. The Kayla, and my parents, and the two students from Gordon who came and helped us move. For the rest of my life, I can only hope that when there is a major catastrophe that there is at least one human I can think of who made a difference in my experience and made at least one tiny ray of sunshine come through. I learned a lot from last year -- and know we could have done things a lot differently. But I can't go back and fix things that went wrong and get that do over that I so desperately wanted on the 30th.

I love my house and am glad we are here. It feels like we've been here a lot longer than 363 days though... not sure why that is, that it feels as if time has not flown. But we're here, we're okay, and I'm never moving again.

I'll end on a good note. I got to have a nice long chat with a good friend from High School who I haven't heard from in a really long time. Hi Jon. I miss you. He found the journal by googling his wife. I happened to mention her and what she does a long time ago. So it was nice catching up and hearing his voice. In honor of him, I made a Yes and Genesis and Peter Gabriel mix CD to help me deal with my crap commute today and hopefully put a real smile on my face as I cruise down 95.

And this morning, Geoff decided that he would help me without being asked. He got all the garbage barrels together and pulled them down to the end of the drive. He arranged all 4 in a nice line, blocking the driveway, but in perfect order. I had to laugh... and went down to move them so I can get my car out. Only one of the barrels has anything in it. Dude dragged 3 empty barrels down to the end of the drive. As I dragged back the three empty ones, wondering what the hell was this kid thinking, I had to laugh a little. That's my boy.

At least he tries.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Days Go By

Yes I know. Blah blah blah no updates blah blah blah. Busy and my kids and husband using the computer all the dang time means... yeah. Excuses. But here's the update quickly, as I need to get my ass in gear and get in the shower and get Geoff out to the bus and whatnot.

boy and fluteLast week Geoff had a band concert. His very first band concert but not the first time he's been on stage. When he graduated from kindergarten (see link above) he did a really good job of making sure everyone in the audience (and southern NH and northeast MA) could hear him sing. Much to the glee of everyone in the audience -- and the pain in my sides from laughing so hard -- he stole the show. It is a memory that goes down in family history not as kindergarten graduation day, but the day of the "Number Rhumba."

This time was hardly any different. He played his flute loudly and with great enthusiasm. At the end of one of the songs, all the kids are called upon to yell "Let's Go Band." We know this from when Jess was in beginning band five years ago.

Most of them just raise up their instruments and shout in a rather normal and pedestrian way. It's always the way it has been. Slightly nervous, slightly hesitant, but they get to yell and they're on stage and they enjoy it... so in the end they seem happy.

Not Geoff. Geoff isn't satisfied to simply yell out "Let's Go Band." Instead, He leapt out of his chair and SCREAMED "LET'S GO BAND!!!" with his flute clenched in his fist, flying the rock and roll devil horns all the while. Looking like an latter day William Wallace challenging the British on the battle field (sans face paint and bare ass), flute weilded as sword. It was a moment.

I thought Doug was going to wet his pants. And I don't think that ever before in recorded history has there been a more enthusiastic flautist. Ever. My son may not be the best musician, but he's got the heart for it. While I hear his friends whine at their parents that they don't want to do this, Geoff couldn't wait to do it. For weeks and weeks he's been talking about the show and the songs and how "Shark Attack" was going to be really super awesome and scary.

This was a great Geoffrey moment, and I have to see if my friend Allison got a good shot of him from her seat in the front row.

We got DVR on our DirectTV this weekend. I don't know what we waited for. The funny thing is the documentation says (at least twice) that you cannot fast forward over live TV to pass the commercials.

First thing out of Geoff's mouth was "Dad, fast forward over this commercial!" while we were watching live TV. He didn't grasp that you can't do this.

I am a little concerned with the DVR action. Both kids have gone through and checked off all their favorites, but there are only 2 receivers in the system so I had to cancel recordings of stuff they wanted to record (I keep wanting to say 'tape' but y'all know that's just not right) because I was watching live TV.

Speaking of watching live TV... someone has got to smack me and tell me to stop watching Celebrity Fit Club and Charm School on Sunday nights. Between that and elevendy episodes of CSI, three of which I'd never seen before, I was up until 1am.

For the aforementioned VH1 shows, I must say that more than ever I'm madly in love with Ant, our host and local boy done good. And I think that he should hold Dustin Diamond while Harvey kicks the crap out of him and Dr. (Hottie) Ian stands over him yelling "This is what Fat Smash REALLY means, bitch!" but that's just me.

And in addition to Ant, can I get some love for Ross the Intern? I don't watch Leno too much, but have seen a lot of his stuff on YouTube, and he is just the funniest and sweetest thing ever. The first video of him and Steve Irwin cracks me up beyond all imagination. He's lost like a million pounds, and he is just cute. Adorable. And lovely. I love me some Ross.

And I don't know if Cledus T. Judd is half as funny at half the size (if you think Weird Al Yankovic style parodies of country songs are funny, which I do...). The thing that worked great for him was he was big like Toby Keith, so it was easy to do parodies of Toby and "I love NASCAR" and whatnot. If he's all skinny like ... Kenny Chesney, well. That's not nearly as funny. To me at least.

Anyway -- long and the short of it is I need to stop watching TV on Sunday nights. Now that I have the DVR..... mwah ha ha ha. I can watch whenever I want. Excellent.

I had sworn off Celebrity Fit Club, but damn if they didn't just suck me right back in by getting the crazy all up on the TV again. I'm not sure there are any more celebrities out there who need to lose weight at this rate. Jeesh.

Doug starts a new job today in ... six minutes. I hope to hell he makes it there in time. He's working in Boston now, and I don't know that he really grasps the time he needs to leave for work. He was still here at 6:15, and has to start at 7:30. I would consistently budget leaving at 6 and then if it only took 45 minutes to get there it would be paper and coffee at the nearest Au Bon Pain or something. Getting into Boston in the early morning can be hit or miss. It takes just one person to screw it all up for hours, making a 40 minute commute a 2 hour one.

Send him mojo and wish him well. He wanted to change jobs and wanted to get his foot in at this particular location... so I hope it works out for him. When they offered him the job he said "2017 Doug is going to thank 2007 Doug, the way 2007 Doug thanks 1997 Doug." 1997 Doug went back to graduate school and got his Masters in Speech Pathology, and I do know that without that decision we wouldn't have this house. So 2007 Christine thanks 1997 Doug too... let's hope 2017 Doug and Christine look back and remember to thank 2007 Doug.

And in other news, 2007 Christine needs to get showered and dressed. More later. Hope your Monday is fantastic.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Grover Street

This time of year reminds me of a little street in Beverly Massachusetts, and a number of other Maytime recollections that make me feel aged and past prime. In 1986, I was finishing up my sophomore year of college. My roommate Laurel had a little blue car that we'd zip all over the North Shore in. I'd drive without a license (I didn't take my driver's test until I was 21) and we'd have all kinds of adventures from Gloucester to Middleton.

There is a place in North Beverly called Nick's Roast Beef. I don't know if they are actually open 24 hours a day, but conveniently, they were always open when we were hungry at 2am. Laurie and I, and any assortment of other John Cusack Movie-esque people would pile into cars and go over to Nick's to stuff our faces with the foods that we (or, at least I) currently wear around our midriffs in the form of love handles and fatness. On the way home, this time of year, the air would be thick with lilacs. The scent would be almost overwhelming, and if it weren't for the fact that Laurie was driving 50 in a 35 zone fresh air wouldn't be able to rush into the vehicle and prevent us from being overcome.

She would often cut down Grover Street, even though it took us out of our way. Mostly because we thought it was hysterical that there was a street named after a muppet, but especially because of the lilacs. She'd turn off her headlights sometimes, and turn off the music, and we'd float at high speed past the homes of Grover Street and eventually over to Rte 22 in Beverly, which would take us back to school. Back to reality, back to a lilacless existence.

This memory comes to me every year this time as I drive to work or the grocery store. And it is especially strong right now, because the house we moved into this time last year is surrounded by lilacs, and they are beginning to erupt. I haven't lost sight of the memories that I had... but I have destinations of great importance, I am chasing something. I am never satisfied where I am.

In The Little Prince, the Prince tames a Fox, and the Fox teaches him of the importance of the wind in the wheat, and how when the sun shines and the stalks dance in the tall grasses. Because he has been tamed, he has these memories and so forever the fox will remember the one who claimed his heart.

And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat . . ."

The lilacs this time of year are my annual reminder of life with Laurie and a time when I didn't have a destination, a deadline or a purpose.

The lilacs are my wheat.

I actually stay far away from Grover Street. I never go to North Beverly. Mostly because I don't want to go there and see that what I remember isn't like it was. I want to remember Grover Street as twisty and windy and filled with lilacs. But what if it was really straight and boring and not as much fun as I recall. What if the fun only came from the fact it was Laurie driving and us laughing and the night sky filled with stars and fragrance? I don't want to be disappointed and lose what I have cherished for 21 years.

Recently, when we were in Huntington for my aunt's funeral, we drove past a house that I lived in up until I was seven. I remembered the house was on a very steep hill, and that it was a nightmare to walk up it every day.

Looking at it as we drove past, I wondered who brought the house down several hundred feet closer to the road? The hill? It wasn't a hill. It was a hill to a 5 or 6 year old girl, but to a 40 year old adult, that was no hill. The stairs to my attic are longer and more steep.

My recollections of that house are different now. All the details that I remember from inside -- I'd love to go back and see if they're still there. I have wanted to go back and knock on the door and ask to go to the second floor to see if the hardwood floor is still there, and see if the knot in one of the wood planks is still missing... at an angle where I could look down into the livingroom and watch tv if I crane my neck just right.

But I don't think I should go back and see. Just like I don't go back to Grover Street.

And on that note, keeping The Little Prince in mind... I'm off to work.

Chapter 21
"Good morning," said the little prince.

"Good morning," said the railway switchman.

"What do you do here?" the little prince asked.

"I sort out travelers, in bundles of a thousand," said the switchman. "I send off the trains that carry them: now to the right, now to the left."

And a brilliantly lighted express train shook the switchman's cabin as it rushed by with a roar like thunder.

"They are in a great hurry," said the little prince. "What are they looking for?"

"Not even the locomotive engineer knows that," said the switchman.

And a second brilliantly lighted express thundered by, in the opposite direction.

"Are they coming back already?" demanded the little prince.

"These are not the same ones," said the switchman. "It is an exchange."

"Were they not satisfied where they were?" asked the little prince.

"No one is ever satisfied where he is," said the switchman.

And they heard the roaring thunder of a third brilliantly lighted express.

"Are they pursuing the first travelers?" demanded the little prince.

"They are pursuing nothing at all," said the switchman. "They are asleep in there, or if they are not asleep they are yawning. Only the children are flattening their noses against the windowpanes."

"Only the children know what they are looking for," said the little prince. "They waste their time over a rag doll and it becomes very important to them; and if anybody takes it away from them, they cry . . ."

"They are lucky," the switchman said.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bridal Showers and Cub Scout Hikes

Absence makes the heart grow fungus. One of my favorite lines from Barenaked Ladies, and it applies here ... You've missed me, I know. I've kept quiet long enough for Mr. Garfield to decloak and ask where I am. When the Mysterious Mister Garfield starts wondering your whereabouts, you'd best step forward and reveal. Reveal!

How's everyone doing? Good I hope. Well, rather. I hope everyone is doing well. There hasn't been a lot to report really, I've been busy making funny pictures for gusterboard members celebrating birthdays, taking small but not quite small boys hiking in nature reserves, working working working, cleaning the house, playing Tetris, watching House and drinking wine. I'll try and recap the things ye need know... aside from the fact that beauty is truth and truth beauty, but that was covered in my last entry now, wasn't it?

204/365 - TP Bridal Gowns...A bridal shower and a baby shower both passed across my calendar since last I wrote.

One event was for a co-worker (my girl C) who is getting married in June. I was the only one there from the office and if you know me I was terrified to meet new people and be on my own.

That's a larf. Ha! I sat at a table and got to know some folk, and then I took a bullet for the team and my new pals and got myself wrapped up in toilet paper for the sake of fun and games. I am pictured here with the bride's sister Shannon -- Maid of Honor to the extreme. It was all rock and roll. We had way too much fun.

The baby shower was for my boy Ben and his baby mamma Amy (heh), who expect their little girl round about Jessica's 15th birthday.

First of all -- I can't believe I have friends who are having babies when I have one in high school That kind of monkeywrenches me and causes me to flip over the handlebars and break my metaphorical collar bone. Second. I can't believe Ben's gonna be a baby daddy. I've known him since Geoff was about 3 months old, and it just seems an eternity... my baby Ben has all grown up and whatnot.

At the baby shower, I fell right in with a former student coworker who is now real live employee at the college. My girl M and I teamed up for some bad ass word descrambling (yes! Prespam is Pampers bitches!) and we had a really tremendous time.

I can go forever without seeing some folks, and when I get to be with them, there isn't an awkward "so. Whattayadoin these days?" It goes straight into "how can we cheat on these baby name meanings? I know! Let's call my daughter and she'll google the answers for us!"


Best wishes to all parties involved at both showers.

Geoff's cub scout den had an appointment with a nature education ranger at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport on Saturday. We had a great time there, and seeing all the things made me pine for Aaron, wherever he is. He should have been the one teaching the boys about the importance of the preserve, consumers and producers, the importance of conservation of these kinds of properties and the like. I miss him so badly sometimes, but he's paintchip flaked off the wall of life and we haven't heard from him since August when he asked us to take his dog.

Sometimes, I know the feeling... How it needs to be that you go, far and away and reinvent yourself and rediscover yourself after a divorce or after ... something. And sometimes I'm angry and hurt and abandoned and Honest To God do not know how I'd react if he called here right this second to say hi. Part of me wants to rip him a new one. Part of me is like "hey baby, we went on a nature walk, it rocked. You so woulda loved it."

So anyway -- the boys had fun with the ranger, and the ranger arranged for us to not have to pay at the gate to go down and take a hike and explore the trails and all that the reserve had to offer. Several of us went, and it was probably the best overall experience I've had with Geoff and his fellow cub scouts.

meeting strangers on the trailThere were two memorable moments on the trail that I have to share. One was where we came upon some people gazing into the low trees and bushes at some bird that was nesting. They were still as saints, and the boys came upon them kind of loudly and suddenly. They stopped dead in their tracks when they saw the birders, and a woman motioned them over and shared her binoculars with one of the boys. She had them kneel and squat and look into the trees and explained in small, hushed, wee tones what they were seeing.

Normally, we discourage the boys from falling right into the laps of strangers, but this was different. We stood by and watched as three careful moms as our cubs bonded with weird birding ladies on the boardwalk.

When the bird hopped off and everyone was satisfied they'd seen enough, I smiled and thanked the lady with the binoculars. "I raised my kids in your pack," she said... noting they were in uniform with their unit numbers and den on their sleeves. So she had a special reason for embracing that moment for the boys. She had done the same requirements years ago I'm sure, and was passing on the spirit of Akela to our young men.

It made me smile.

Oh -- hang on I'm gonna go eat dinner. Doug just got home with some Chinese food. Mmmmmmm. Chinese food.

Great stuff. Okay -- I'm back.

Second thing that was cool about the hike was this:

reflection of the sunWe took the Hellcat Trail, which is about a one to one and a half mile loop trail through the marsh and then up to the dunes.

In the marsh area, there was a woman ahead of us, standing and staring into the water... taking a ton of photographs. When I got to the spot that she vacated as the boys and I reached her... I looked into the water.

"Was she taking pictures of fish?" one boy asked.

"I don't see anything worth taking a picture of there..." said another.

I looked at the still water, the sun, the branches, the dead leaves, the absolute stillness... the fact that the sky was bright blue but was not reflected here, and I said...

"Oh yes, there is something worth taking a picture of here." I encouraged them to relax their eyes, to stop searching for fish. and just look at the surface.

One said "wow... the sun looks really cool with those branches. That's neat... I don't think I've ever seen anything like that before."

That's what it was, what I wanted him to see, and he got it... so I took a picture.

I think this is a very small moment that when this boy is graduating from High School, I'll look back on and remember fondly. As long as he doesn't turn out to be a gargantuan insufferable jerk. And well, even then. I'll know he got it.

212/365 birdSunday I was sitting on the couch with coffee and dogs and blanket and coziness and relaxation at about 8 am. Suddenly, the sound of a projectile smashing into our doors jarred the dogs, myself and my coffee right up into the air.

Another robin smacked into the glass.

Good lord.

A couple of weeks ago, a pair of robins flew into the glass probably at about the same time.

I found them at about 9am, and the male was deceased, but the Mrs. fought for a good long time. She finally expired and I "dispatched" them together in the same ziplock back in a location away from where three curious dogs do dig. So I had it in my mind I'd be interring another bird in the same spot sometime during the day.

In my coffee-covered sweatshirt and blanket, I went out to survey the damage. The robin was flopping around and trying like hell to take off. My dogs were going insane inside, so I thought I'd leave him in peace for a bit, put on some clean clothes and come back and check on him.

I found him sitting rather still, looking stunned, his entire little body vibrating. I went out, picked him up, and had my shoebox ready for him to house in and maybe pass away in, warm and comfortably like the last occupant.

After picking him up, he jumped from my hand and ran around the yard. This bee's got some sting left in him! I rejoiced.

I managed to get him again, and decided instead of a shoebox bird, he'd be a bird in a tree next to the house where I could watch him. I set him up in the branches, and a few hours later returned to find him gone, but not flopping about on the ground or dead and ripped to shreds by a neighborhood cat.

To my relief.

Perchance he made it. Came to his senses after a few hours in the tree. Perhaps. I'd like to think. I'll keep telling myself that. It sounds like a good story.

And happy endings are what it is all about sometimes, innit? On that note...