Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"Can't Wait to Touch the Bed..."

The commute last night was very difficult.

Jess worked in Newton and took the train over to my office here to wait for an hour with me. Because I am losing a day's pay again due to a holiday (there are pros and cons to being a contractor...) I didn't want to leave early and lose another hour. I also canceled my physical therapy (probably a mistake) again to avoid losing 2 hours of pay there ...

My knee was really hurting so we opted to take the Silver Line from Courthouse station over to South Station to begin the T ride home.

I have a lot to say about how stupid Courthouse Station is... but that's for an entry some other day.

We got to South Station and it was extraordinarily crowded. Down on the platform eventually there came an announcement that a train was disabled two stations south of where we were, and "moderate delays" were expected.

We'd already missed the 5:15 train since I opted to work a little later. The 5:40 was our goal, but it was looking grim. We opted to walk to Downtown Crossing. Now, on most days I would have just walked all the way to North Station. But this knee situation has ruined me for any decent walks. Jess knew how to get to Downtown Crossing so we hoofed it as fast as I could go. The orange line there was packed as well, people just trying to get from point A to point B. We enjoyed a nice Beatboxer dubbing over himself repeatedly and then kind of singing. First time out of all the street musicians I've seen there be one of those.

The Orange line was exceptionally poky as well as crowded and we got to the station four minutes after our train left.

An hour to kill, no desire to sit at the Paulaner bar and enjoy a beer, we waited. And my knee swelled up. Borderline miserable, we got on the train and headed home.

There was a young man behind us who asked the guy he was sitting with if it would be okay to borrow his cell phone, his was dead. "It's been a really long day and I just have to make sure that my ride is at the station to get me," he told the guy. "I was in Washington DC this morning. Got through Philly, New York, got to Boston and the Red line is broken and I ran up here to catch this train. I can't wait to get home. I can't wait to touch the bed."

 It put a big smile on my face as I thought about that longing that someone has after an exceptionally long travel day by train from DC to Boston... with obstacles like Red line trains dying and cell phones dying... having to run that mile between the stations just to make it on this train, knowing if you didn't the next wasn't for two more hours. And I thought that was kind of a cute sentiment. Oh yes indeed, son... I know I know I know. I can't wait to touch the bed either.

By the time I got home it was bedtime. Ate a quick meal, took some Aleve and got into bed, I touched the bed, with an ice pack on the knee and heating pad on the back of my thigh because my muscles have been doing so much work to compensate for the knee.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

"Someday we'll look back on this and it will all seem funny..."

Almost everyone I know is doing 2013 wrap ups. There is a lot of joy and a lot of accomplishment and borderline gloating about the awesomeness of the year in the posts of many of my friends.

I've kept this journal since 2001, and to be honest, I don't feel like any one year in this 12 year span has been a GREAT YEAR. But I also don't think any year has been as abysmally shitty as this one.

I told my friend Carrie the other day that I'm exhausted from trying to be optimistic. It actually wears me out always trying to look on the bright side of things. I do see the benefit, and as someone who is naturally optimistic and hopeful, I would like to end this year with a look back on some of the good stuff.

My contract job has put me in positions this year (as some of my blog posts about the city outline) where I can help people. I can stop what I'm doing, step outside my schedule, miss a train or be late for work without it hurting my heart and soul, to help someone who really needs help. I've carried the fronts of strollers down stairs at Downtown Crossing, I've given Japanese tourists directions on how to get to the airport, I've made funny faces and played "5 little monkeys" with my fingers in the palm of my hand with toddlers on the orange line, I've helped blind people not walk into walls, I've helped blind people get to the right platform. Wondering if I'll ever help a blind person not fall onto the tracks one of these days because I bet that's coming.

To be honest, being able to commit service to others has strengthened me and given me hope that I'm not useless, worthless and horrible. Having all that stuff happen with the house and finally losing really trashed my soul, my self esteem, my faith in other people (never in God, don't forget that... never felt abandoned by him just completely soul-raped by banks and people). So being able to miss a train because I helped some guy who has no idea how to get around in Boston is a blessed sacrifice. I'll do it again and again through my tenure in the Seaport.

I have some great co-workers who seem to like me. I still feel like I'm on the periphery of the team, though... not really part of it and not fully trained to know what is going on. It may have something to do with where I'm seated, it may have to do with the fact that I'm a contractor so why teach me everything and why include me on lunch call outs... I'm not really an employee.

But I want to feel that way, and hope to feel that way.

My co-worker Tim has to be one of the funnest people I've gotten to know, and it makes me sad to have to report that he got let go during his 90 day introductory/probationary period. He arrived there before me and applied for the open real position with the company, and got it. I guess that during the probationary/90 day/whatever period that this company does it was found that he just wasn't a good fit, and they let him go. It's kind of weird... I've been hoping they would have a full time real job for me at some point, and I have yet to ask if they'll be posting Tim's position publicly again or if it is now in limbo... I never imagined that my hoping for a real job with this company would come at his expense though.

Often I've said "be careful what you pray for..."

August was a hard month with packing and moving. It was very stressful. I never really let on exactly how upsetting this process was for me. And it is still upsetting because a certain bank keeps sending me letters saying "we want to help you save your house! Call us today!" which is just plain infuriating and insulting.

But for as horrifying as this all was, Geoff is in his school, he's doing great. We got a great big apartment. The dogs are good (when they aren't falling down flights of stairs because they're old and their legs don't work... trust me guys, I know how you feel!) I feel like the next year and a half will be very good for him. And I'm so hopeful for him and Eagle.

I miss my old house, and my old neighborhood and my neighbors, but there are things here that are magical and wonderful and I'm so deeply thankful. The sky here seems so much more full of stars at night even though we are much closer to Newburyport and what I would think would be a lot more light pollution. The land behind the house backs up to a farm on the other side of a thick copse of woods, and every day we watch four deer come out onto the edge of  the property and pick for crab apples and other treats. And we have a wood stove, which is a bit too far away from where I'm sitting but it is a lot more efficient than our last wood stove which seemed to always need fed. Logs seem to burn a lot longer in this one and I'm hoping the two cords we bought last to the end of winter. And my neighbors across the street are good good friends of ours from church whom I just plain LOVE, and I love their boys and I love their chicken eggs (don't love their rooster crowing all day every day but they don't love him either). I am blessed to have them over there.

We've gone through a bunch of cars this year in ridiculous and epic fashion. Our Jeep died, I totaled a car, the Subaru and then the 2nd Volvo both blew head gaskets. We don't have any money to buy a really super good car, and we can't get any credit anywhere until I have a real job with real earnings over a six month period so we were back at the NH state auto auction yesterday with a budget of $2000 dollars, looking at all the No Reserve cars. No reserve meaning the dealer selling the car doesn't have a minimum price that the vehicle has to go for. Doug picked out two cars that he was most interested in (operative terms for him: gas mileage and back seat leg room for the kids), and he bought one for $850. I hope it lasts longer than 6 months. He feels that if he scores a good car for under a grand and it lasts for 6 months, he's made out better in the long run than paying a 6 year car payment where banks make interest on our money and then the car blows up at in intersection in Buffalo NY on the way home from a conference.

With the cars blowing up left and right, I am reminded that I am dearly loved by my friends. I put out on Facebook that we needed rescued DURING A SNOWSTORM and within minutes we had several offers of people calling us or responding that they'd come get us. Thankful beyond imagination for Amy who was the first to respond and drove us home up lonely 95 surrounded by snow plows.  I'm also amazed by the kindness of strangers, specifically the mechanic who declared our Subaru dead but was able to give Doug a ride to within 90 minutes of Boston that very night.  The guy's willingness to help Doug get close to home, refusing to take payment for gas ("We have to go that way anyway, so we fit you in the car!"

There was so much stress, but also so much to laugh about all at once. I could go on but I've got a carpet to vacuum and stairs to sweep before Doug gets home from church. As Mr. Springsteen says, and as the title of the blog attests, right now I may not be in the perfect space and things may seem a little bleak (more than a little bleak) at times... but I hope Mr. Springsteen is right.

Goodbye 2013 and all your bullshit. Don't leave any bad mojo residue behind for me to deal with in 2014.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Our car blew up on the way home, in a blizzard. That was fun.

While stewing with anger in the passengers seat (because Doug and I had a very huge disagreement about the logistics of what should have been happening last night) I had the following thoughts.

On the Subway: Assholes, you have to let people off the train before you can get on. And going forward if you try to muscle in on me, I will not step aside, I will push you down (you can tell I was angry last night).

Sometimes, when there is a task that does not belong to me it is very painful for me to sit there and watch someone else doing it. Especially if they are doing it entirely wrong.

There are people who walk around who just have dirty looks on their faces all the time. Cheer up.

I do not feel like I am a part of the team at work and it makes me sad.

I am glad I am not a dog, because peeing and pooping outside in 7 degrees looks like a challenge.

I have a pocket  full of cough drops. Would it be rude of me to start handing them out on the train?

There are more observations but i am thumb typing on the phone and finding it very tiresome. I prefer a full fingered keyboard experience.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Part time to Full time... I've been there before

Once upon a time, I worked as a part time HRIS person for a small company near my house the "IS" portion of that title is Information Systems. The other part is HR.

I'm not an HR kind of person. I have a lot of issues with using "humans" as "resources." I have a lot of issues with secret keeping, with obfuscation, and with laying people off while looking them in the eye and telling them everything is going to be okay and not to worry. I find the vast majority of HR people to be phony, liars, deceivers, and not really interested in the "human" portion of the equation.

The "IS" portion of that thing, I liked. I love building webpages and tools. I had great experiences building things with one company as the HRIS portal manager, and was looking forward to another job in that vein to build my skill set, even if it was a part time job.

The job wasn't panning out the way it was supposed to, for a number of reasons. I ended up doing a lot more employee care, direct counseling, worker's comp paperwork, and other things to fill in the gaps of the director and assistant director's lives.

They decided they were going to hire a full time HR person, and never once asked me if I wanted the job. When they did their first round of interviews I said something to the assistant director about how it would be nice to have a full time job, and I wished that she'd asked me if I wanted it. She looked surprised and said "oh, I thought you liked working part time. It never crossed my mind to ask you." Her head tilted to the side like a Golden Retriever waiting for the ball to be thrown or wondering "where did you hide that cookie?"


I'm trained, I know the job, I'm already doing it? Ask me first at least and at least give me right of first refusal? Yeah, I liked working full time but when I interviewed we had talked about the possibilities of a full time job, and now is the time, and now you're not even asking me if I want it.

She said something about wanting a "certified HR professional" in the position. Whatever. Long and the short of it is I knew that she was very much one of those HR people I don't like. And I was not an HR type of person, so she didn't like me very much.

Turns out that they interviewed a really good friend of mine for the job, and I was stoked that she could possibly be hired. I told them that I was friends with this girl and they terminated me. Because I'd been talking to her about the likelihood of her working there. They told me it was because "the higher ups decided that a part time person was not needed if a full time person was being brought in" but I knew that was a pile of crap.

Whatever, I'm happy to go.

Resigned with Resignation

My contract job has been requesting that I work a five-day work week for them.

The reason is two fold:

  • One, there is a pant load and a shit ton of work to be completed. My extra day helps. 
  • Two, it looks good. My boss is trying to create a full time position for me, and me being here full time makes it appear that I want to be here full time so the powers that be may consider me for a full time position. 

Which meant one thing. I would have to resign my job at the Cooking School. So Doug and I talked about it, and I talked to Jo, and resigned.  I felt horrible and conflicted about it. I love working there. I love everyone who works there. But I've been praying for a full time job opportunity, and this could very well be the one.

So, hithertoforth, I no longer work at "awesome" as I called it. Here's to hoping this contract turns into "awesome too." or ... "awesome 2." Or something.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

One year and 3 weeks...

Earn a total of 21 merit badges (10 more than you already have), including the following:
j. Swimming OR Hiking OR Cycling*
k. Camping, and

This is the list of Merit Badges that Geoff has finished. He just got Personal Fitness done today. I'm wondering if he can do it, if he can turn on the turbo and get the jets going.

He has one year and three weeks until he turns 18. 

Add to the middle of this that he needs to design and execute an Eagle Service Project. I'm a little nervous. 


Sunday, December 08, 2013

"It is a good day to be under 5."

The other day at the doctor's office, we were sitting in the waiting room where a dad and his two children were waiting their turn to go in and get flu shots. The little boy, Thomas, was 5 and a half. Caroline was 3. Dad was entertaining them and everyone was having a lovely time. The nurse came out to get them to do their shots, and said that she didn't have any in stock for the 3 year old, but that anyone "aged 5 and over" can come on in.

Doug turns to me and says "It is a good day to be under 5, I guess."

We heard the dad say that he wanted to go first. The nurse, who has been our doctor's nurse for as long as we've known him (mark this - he was our doctor in college, so since 1987 at least) stammered a little and said "we don't usually do it that way."

Dad wanted to show the little boy it was no big deal to get the shot, and insisted.

Big mistake.

Thing is, with 20 something years of experience the nurses know that if you do the kids first they don't know what's coming and boom it is done. Seeing a needle go into your dad's arm, even if he doesn't freak out or panic or say "ouchies," is still something that a little kid may find disturbing.

And Thomas did.

He lost his mind. SCREAMING and crying and "I'm not ready!" and "I really don't want or need this shot after all!" Dad and the nurse were both trying to calm him and get him focused, but there was no joy in Mudville at that moment. Poor Thomas.

 Doug and I both sat there chuckling uncomfortably, because you have this instinct to go in and try and help but you also know that really it is no big deal.

We talked about whether or not we remembered Geoff freaking out for shots and we didn't. He usually did incredibly well. Mostly because our doctor gave the shot, and would do something distracting to the kid like "hey, look at that thing on the wall, can you see that picture of the dog?" and the kid turns and looks at the picture and boom - done. "ouch!" a little surprise but usually no panic or upset as the lollipop appears or mommy gives the hug.

Thomas' meltdown went on and on for quite some time, and then we heard deep and most horrible sobbing as he got his flu shot.

The adult "that wasn't so bad!" response from the nurse and the dad did nothing to help. He was devastated. I'm wondering how much it really hurt or if he had knowledge that he freaked out over something so small that he was now ashamed and embarrassed, thus the tears.

I was in my appointment room getting my blood pressure taken (112/77 baby) and Doug reported that a flushed-red little blonde Thomas came out of the room, his sister leading the way. She tip toed up to the lollipops and got each of them one.

He said she didn't seem phased at all by witnessing the near mutilation and murduration of her older brother.

Truly, a good day to be under 5.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Hi, Knee

On Thursday at work, I found myself limping. My right knee just hurt like a bastard whenever I stood up after sitting for a long stretch of time. I had driven in that day, so I was very excited about not having a .6 mile walk to the car... throughout the day I stood up, stretched my leg, got tea, walked around the floor. Usually if my knee is sore, which it has been lately, use makes it feel better.

Later this month I have a physical scheduled where I was going to ask my doctor about arthritis, RA or osteo, because both run in my family.

Upon arrival home Thursday night, after an exceptionally stressful (and knee pain filled) commute home, I had to run out to deliver wreaths to some folks who had ordered them from Geoff's BSA  Troop.

I got to one house, stepped up on the first porch step and heard the pop, felt the pop, and crumbled to the next step on my left knee.

My knee basically exploded in pain - I thought for a second as I pulled myself up to a standing position "well, I hope that was just something out of place and now it has corrected itself."

But no. It wasn't. I stood on the porch having a conversation with the person who had ordered the wreath, smiled and said I had to go pick Geoff up at Scouts and limped down the steps back to the truck.

I couldn't put any pressure on my leg, I kind of skip/hopped to the car door and was panting in pain as I lifted my leg into the vehicle. I couldn't pull myself up in, so I took my leg out, rotated and hopped butt-first into the seat to then swing my legs in.

Holy crap, pain.

Driving wasn't hard -- I could use my foot ok and shifting my leg to the brakes was no problem... I made it to Scouts, got Geoff, and we headed home.

Doug and I discussed whether or not I should go to the emergency room or just RICE (or, ECRI as the order was that we approached the first aid) the knee and I'd sleep on the couch. We opted for the latter, because spending 4 hours in the emergency room with a 100 dollar copay to maybe be told to go home and RICE it sounded stupid.

We got in first thing to see our PCP, and she thinks I have an enclosed dislocation of the patella.  Meaning somehow that my patella has moved... she thinks possibly from a build up of fluids behind it that burst (hence the popping). She doesn't think I have a strained or torn ACL, MCL, PCL or any other L, or torn tendons or anything. I have good range of motion, it's all in the standing and walking.

She referred me to an orthopaedist. And they can't see me until Monday. Had we gone to the emergency room, we would have at least had X-rays done so she could see them, and maybe be able to tell more because I don't know if I have an enclosed dislocation of my patella. But I'm not a doctor. What do I know?

So, short term means I am in Knee Jail. My doctor told me I am not to leave the house, and am to stay off the foot, the leg, the knee, the walking until I leave for the orthopaedist on Monday morning.

I'm on the couch, sleeping with my knee elevated, and feeling the pain when I walk around. Doug bought me a cane, which was nice of him but I feel like a big huge fat old crippled lady. I'm really pissed off because I had gotten into a great nice routine of walking (unless it was pouring/icy rain) every day to and from the subway and train. I was going to the gym at least once a week, usually with Geoff on Sundays if the 4pm football games did not include Patriots or Steelers. I'd gotten back on track with losing some weight.

Isn't it always right when you join a gym that you go and injure the hell out of yourself? jeesh.

I'm sure that this will all be okay, a temporary set back. I'm just kind of frustrated because I missed work Friday, will miss work Monday, and who knows what the ortho is going to say.

My big fear is that maybe I will need to have PT three times a week and God only knows when that is going to fit into a life schedule. I should research if there is a PT place close to my office. I know there is one across the street from North Station.

And an even bigger fear is the possibility of surgery. Good grief. I've put off having surgery on my abdomen until maybe this summer (based on trying to save money, pay bills, get ahead now that I have this contract job) so I don't know if they will keep me if I have to have outpatient surgery and 2 weeks recovery or some shit.


Anyway. They used to say "Calgon, take me away," but today I'll say "Vicodin, take me away" and take a big assed nap. 

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

And like that, Thanksgiving happened

So here we are, Tuesday after Thanksgiving. December already. Having a hard time wrapping my head around this. I'm out of sorts a little, because Thanksgiving and Hanukkah happened at the same time instead of Hanukkah happening closer to Christmas. I feel my Away in a Manger has been robbed of its Baruch ata Adonai, eloheinu melech a o'lam as it were.

It is so weird.

We spent Thanksgiving with my parents, and it was a really nice time. Mom ordered everything out from Stop n Shop, which was very unlike her, but I guess I should get used to her wanting to scale back the hosting and entertaining portion of things since they are getting on. My dad's health issues this past year have put a toll on them, and it was great to be hosted. My dad didn't feel like coming up here, and they had an offer to go to my great uncle's down the Cape, but they passed on it because even though it is just 10 miles from their house, my dad just felt it was too much.

We had a lovely visit. Some great laughs. I microwaved all the side dishes. I incorrectly loaded the dishwasher and my mom reloaded it when she thought I was not looking.

I wonder where we will be this time next year and I shudder to think.

So, rather than think about that, we went to the New England Aquarium on Saturday. You may remember I gave a woman 13 bucks for her groceries, and she gave me four passes to the Aquarium. I had wanted to go the weekend before my birthday, but it didn't work out. Mostly because I slept that Saturday until 10:30am.

But beside that.

The passes expired on the 30th, which was this Saturday and damnit, the hell I was gonna lose out on that 13 dollars worth of nice that I gave out! That lady gave me passes to the Aquarium and even if I had to take three strangers I was gonna go to the freaking Aquarium.

On Thanksgiving when I told Geoff that's what we were gonna do he said "The Aquarium is for little kids and slow adults." It took me a minute or five to realize he was insulting my enthusiasm for the institution, and we all had one of those good laughs but I told myself that he'd enjoy himself. Oh yes. He would.

Shakes fist softly at The Boy.

We all were up and out the door, ready to go at like 11 am which is pretty damn good for the four of us. I made bacon and omelets for everyone. It was a great way to start the day!

The passes were accepted (to be honest, in the back of my mind I was scared that they wouldn't be, but all went well) and we made our way in. The seals outside were adorable as always. And the trek up around the giant central tank was lovely. It was nice to watch all the people silhouetted against the gorgeous blue of the tank.

And most notably, my son.

Who is the little kid or slow adult now, eh?

Before I left I mentioned on FB that we were headed that way and our "son" Byron's girlfriend squeed with delight that they were also headed there.

For those who remember, Byron was in "Hamlet" with Jess (Byron, Jess and Nick were the kids from her HS who did Hamlet that year and I think it was a wonderful experience for the three of them together... I know it was for me, and I'll never forget the time I spent with them being Mamma G to that cast).

We were there for quite a while and I was worried that we wouldn't connect with B and his girlfriend M but they found us. It was a joyous reunion next to the penguins.

Several extra visits to the Skate and Shark petting tank later and we were on our way home.

I don't think we'd been to the Aquarium since Geoff was in diapers, so this was a lot of fun.

For thankfulness, Thanksgiving time a lot of people talk about what they are thankful for. Some folks did 30 days of Thankfulness on their blogs or on their FB statuses.

I didn't participate in that. I've had a shit year. I recognize and embrace that. But even in the middle of a year that is "all a lot of oysters but no pearls," I need to pause and stop and be thankful.


I'm thankful that my kids have some friends, and that we have time continued with my dad after the shenanigans of health he's perpetuated on us over the past several months. I'm thankful that I got called out of nowhere to this temporary gig at the beginning of October that is running through at least the end of January and hopefully will turn into a real job. I'm so thankful for my Girl C for her kindness to me and for someone to always talk to and walk with when I have the time. I'm thankful for my dear friend Beth who now is my across the street neighbor, and gives me free chicken eggs. I'm thankful for my church, even with the flaws of the people within. I'm thankful for Guster. No seriously, I am. I think their music gets me through so very much.

And I am thankful for Jellyfish. Because they are bad ass ...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

And, just like that, I am 47

My birthday was yesterday. I turned 47. I realized that in keeping this journal over the years it has been literally a quarter of my life thus far. Kind of super crazy.

In the past I've enjoyed a stellar meteor shower for my birthday, and I've gone to see Barenaked Ladies and Ed Robertson made me cry.

This year was incredibly quiet, and some would say boring. But I am okay with that.

I've been working in Boston, and on Tuesdays Doug and I drive in together. He gets me to the Wellington T station in the morning, and I schlep in on the T. I then await a call from him that says he is done for the day and headed my direction if I want a ride home.

I have the option to tell him to head north, or to tell him to come get me.

He came to me and got to my office before 5pm, which is typically unheard of, but traffic was kind. He scored a spot in front of my office, again... unheard of. I came down to meet him and we talked about our food options.

Directly at the end of the block is a place called Tavern Road Restaurant, so we opted to go there.

Dinner was delicious. I have never had marrow butter and now want it all day (it's like gravy, for those who don't know what it is, so don't be thinking I am making butter out of animal bone marrow... gravy. think gravy. you like gravy... and you'd love marrow butter).

We were home by 7:30.

I was asleep by 9:30.

Welcome to 47.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Overheard on the corner of Dorchester Avenue and Congress Street

Gentleman in a very very nice business suit, outside the back entrance of the Federal Reserve Bank, leaning on the railing overlooking the channel. Cellphone to his ear, begins pacing back and forth as I approach.

And then he says loudly:

"Really, Really. Did that motherfucker tell the Feds that I was the one that took the money? He's a piece of work, I tell you. A fucking piece of work." 

He tells the guy on the other end to hang on as I pass. I get about 20 feet down Congress and he turns his back and begins ranting. I can't hear him over the traffic. I have no idea what is now being said.


Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Near Dewey Square, or ... the smelliest day ever.

Today, I was yelled at by a man because I had on a sourpuss face.

I was walking behind someone who was smoking. It was a particularly smelly and disgusting cigarette. Most of the time outdoors smoking doesn't bother me but I have no idea what kind of carpet fibers and cat litter this guy was smoking, it was NASTY. I was trying to get around him, trying to figure out a way to stop breathing. I knew I had on a great horrible "feh" facial expression. I could feel it all over me. My disdain was creeping down into my chest, my throat, and I felt like I might just lean over and puke into the parking lane (it wouldn't be the first time the parking lane outside South Station was puked upon...)

A man walking in the opposite direction, towards me, slowed down enough to make eye contact. He had this distinct look of incredulity on his face, and as I got closer, he said "What the FUCK is your problem? SMILE FOR GOD'S SAKE ALREADY! IT IS A BEAUTIFUL DAY!" With the last line he threw his arms up in the air, and continued on his way.

Not exactly my idea of spreading kindness and good cheer in the streets of Boston but ... I guess my face called for something. And in spite of the stench, I couldn't help but start laughing.

Crossed the street immediately and got whiffs of diesel, coffee, the Channel and sunshine. Which all smelled much better and subdued my desire to vomit.

Yesterday's smell fest only got worse. Somehow a sewer stench was coming up our elevator shaft. The receptionist on the main level truly had it bad having to spend the day there sniffing it, and dealing with the people coming in asking what the smell was. Someone microwaved something awful. That was great. Then, there was the burned popcorn.

Something I did not miss about working in an office building was other people's food choices and burned popcorn.

The Subway had a special dose of fresh hell for me in the form of a particularly gorgeous woman standing beside me with the worst breath I've ever smelled in my life. I thought it was me so I had a piece of gum. I should have offered her one, because it was not me.

On the way home, I told Doug about all of my olfactory insults. We were on I-95 just north of our former exit, headed towards Newburyport. My guess is we were still in Georgetown, possibly Byfield, maybe even in Newbury.

The smell entered the car - we weren't sure if we'd passed very ripe roadkill, an overturned trash truck, an kicked over porta pottie from the construction going on or what. The gaseous cloud invaded the vehicle. We started screaming. Doug rolled the windows down to get air circulating through the car. The freezing cold air was rank. We ran for miles up the highway yelling at the top of our lungs about the stink.

"This truly is the smelliest day ever!" my husband yelled at the top of his lungs.

Eventually, the stench faded. We put the windows back up. I thought maybe the smell had sunk into my clothing, my pores. It was horrifying.

Indeed. Yesterday was the smelliest day ever.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Commuting Observation

So, one of the things that I've been neglecting to share is something I have noticed while commuting: People bring a lot of luggage with them.

I'm often surprised by the lady with a pocket book/shoulder bag, a laptop case and a little suitcase on wheels that they're dragging around behind them, or the guy with the rolly suitcase, the gym bag and the laptop case. I watch them navigate down the train aisle... bumping into everyone and trying not to, or just bull in china shop motoring through the train station to get where they're going fast.

People travel to work on a daily basis with more stuff than I take away on a week's vacation. 

And I have to ask... do we really need that much crap? I mean, maybe they're lawyers and they have a ton of stuff in the rolly case paperwork wise that they HAVE to bring with them places. But I get the feeling sometimes that it is gym clothes (the dead give away is the yoga mat strapped to the side of the suitcase).

When they get to their destination, do they really use all that stuff or is it a just in case situation. Maybe there is a change of clothes to go out somewhere fancy after work with the girls.

Maybe they never get a chance to get to the gym, or go out for cocktails at Nebo, because they're always just too busy.

But... they're prepared.


Today I stayed home from work. Got my period on Thursday and fully believed that the 24 hour pain fest would start on Saturday afternoon and end on Sunday. Well, it started when I anticipated, and still goes on. So I called out, losing a day's pay.

But there is an upside. Our landlord had a call in to the furnace dudes on Friday and they didn't make it here over the weekend, so... I was home to meet the guy this morning and our furnace is now working. Which is good. Because it was 20 degrees outside this morning, and possibly 40 in my bedroom.

Curled up in bed with three dogs surrounding me, 40 degrees is doable. Down in the livingroom the space heater was cranking and when I got up I started the woodstove, so the place was manageable. I can imagine people living like this over the course of a winter in an old farm house like this. I can't imagine single digits or negative temps... that I couldn't do. But ... no complaints from me this morning. I'm happy it worked out this way.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween and the new house

My neighbor across the street told me that we should expect no trick or treaters. In all the years she's lived there, she has had none. We actually had one. Doug was shocked and unprepared. He gave the child an apple. The child was .... insulted.

I really miss our old house. I miss the neighborhood and the layout and the fact that yeah it wasn't 100 trick or treaters but it was always some. We had started putting a bonfire at the end of the driveway (channeling my deep celtic roots, and it being cold usually) with a cooler of options for the grown ups if they wanted a beer or a cider or a glass of wine before moving along. We were slowly becoming "that" family and I liked it.

This year, not only is it raining, but we are on a very busy street, and there is no chance at all of little wee cuties coming to my house for candy. No fire, no cooler of cider, soda and beer, no friends standing out in the drive for 20 minutes talking with us while the kids go do "the loop."

I've missed my house before, but tonight, I really miss it. I loved that neighborhood. I'm so devastatingly sad to not see my neighbors across the street and their three kids plus their two newly adopted boys all dressed up and in the wagon.

My heart aches tonight.

Not even Wallace and Grommit fighting the Were-Rabbit can cheer me.

In some other news

Today, my contract was officially extended to the end of the year.

Now, this is great because we very much can use the 600 plus bucks a week I'm pulling in (after taxes). It is a ton of money. I'm so thrilled and happy to be on this contract. It is equally great because I love what I'm doing, and I like the people very much, and I really would like this to turn into a job. For good.

I had an interview for a long-term contract with a company in Burlington. One of my good friends from the Bio-Labs contract was just hired there and I wrote him a letter of recommendation, he got the permanent position, and I'm up for the contract.

It is a "Long term open ended" contract, which is good. Pays about what I'm getting now.

But... I've agreed to stick where I am. And I'll be letting the other job know I'm removing myself from consideration. My friend Matt will be bummed, but ...

I have my reasons.

Being here for a month already, and being handed more detailed work and more serious assignments (ie: helpdesk tickets for immediate updates on the website)  and knowing that my boss and his boss really love me, I know they are working on creating a job for me. It may not happen until sometime next year, but in the meantime, sticking with something and building time at this location is a good idea.

Also, if they do hire me, they do international teambuilding trips. I want in on that.

In the meantime, I've got a job for two more solid months and baby. That's so good. So many debts to pay. Thank you God for hookin' a sista up.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

scavenger hunt, grown up style

This past weekend, I got to participate in the annual town-wide scavenger hunt. Now, I don't live in that town any more, but ... it's okay. 17 years of history and a willingness to say yeah for shenanigans was all I needed.

Our Scout Troop Moms were talking about doing it, and I got invited in. We the first hard part was what to call our group. We ended up with The Skeleton Crew. Our motto was "Nothin' Rattles Us." We had T-shirts made (we're that dorky)... and the big night arrived and we lined up with 24 other teams to go out, run around town, and find clues, answer puzzles and get to the end in one piece.

You had to keep all of your clue pieces as you found them or you'd be disqualified. You could not use your phone, any sort of electronics. If you needed to look something up, you had to call someone from a town business or pay phone, or go back to your house and use a land line.

We had a team of 5, one driver and four "runners" to jump out at the different stations, find the clues, and come back and either go immediately to the next one or solve whatever puzzle was related in order to figure out where to go. There were word searches, math problems, one was you had to eat a slice of anchovy pizza.

One of the clues I had to get involved rowing out into the pond in a kayak, in the dark, to a scary looking dude called The Grim. He was out in a canoe. We didn't see the sign that said two people should do this task, so I went alone. The second person was supposed to help pull me ashore! I was in the kayak, paddling back when I realized there was no way I'd be able to get out without getting soaked.

Luckily for me there were two guys who were kind enough to pull me ashore and then one of them yanked me out of the kayak as I was struggling to get my fat butt out. It was hysterical.

We overthought one particular clue. A slip of paper that said "how many do you know?" listed out 22 state Governors of Massachusetts. Instantly we knew it was on Governors Road, and I guessed that it was number 22. But the house at 22 Governors didn't look like it wanted to be disturbed by 25 teams running up to the house or searching in the yard. We thought maybe "know" meant how many Governors have there been in our lifetime... for some of us that would be more than others. A team with 20 year olds vs. us in our late 40s. Then, I thought maybe ... King. Ed King. There's a King Street in our town too so possibly something on King? We drove over there and looked up and down the street.

Finally, back to #22 and we saw the clue container on the stone wall and kicked ourselves for overthinking and worrying about whether or not there was some old lady in the house that we'd scare the dickens out of by stomping through the mums.

Aside from that one hiccup, we were a well oiled machine, figuring out clues, knowing exactly where things were. Debbie was a master driver, Nancy ate a piece of gross anchovy pizza. Pattie got scared by a guy in a gorilla suit in the woods, Sheryl was the total puzzle master, doing the word searches and cryptograms like a pro. With maps and history books and the fact that I knew exactly where Crane Pond Conservation area's actual entrance was, and an all wheel drive vehicle, we ruled the night.

Two and a half hours later, we finished finding all the puzzles, clues and kayakable locations.

And out of 25 total teams, 11 were disqualified and we ... we came in third place.

Nancy is already planning our attack for next year. We laughed our brains out. It was an absolute blast.

I'm glad I did it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I've brought my real camera a couple of times, but more often I am using the Instagram to record stuff I see when I am at work. The weather has been stellar. Here are some pictures.

 Seen on my walk, in the financial district, bikers know how to sport lovely bikes and make pantloads of money, i guess.

 Near North Station, this electric/utilities box is appropriately painted. very nice!

 I sometimes sit and watch the tour guides for the Boston Tea Party encouraging their tour participants to throw their tea into the "Hahbah." it is very entertaining to sit and eat lunch, and hear their cheers.
 My office is near the Channel, which in the 1980s was a place you did NOT want to hang out at. But today.... there is a children's museum, and lots of upscale niceness. And it is a lovely place.

My friend Sam is an actor, and I've connected him to a few people over the years. Right now you can go on one of his live tours with Ghosts and Gravestones in Boston, and he'll show you the scary part of Boston History.

 It is really such a pretty view. I love where I'm working.
 On the way home the other night, the sky was on fire. So beautiful.
An early morning arrival, bright sunshine, and pretty yellow boat against the water.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Commuting and Do a Good Deed Daily

I've been meaning to write about things I see on my commute.

My first train ride home found me sitting across the aisle from a guy who was clearly impaired, drugs most likely as his eyes were closed and when they were open they were past bloodshot. He was on the phone with a friend talking about his job as a credit card collections agent.

He went on and on and on about how people who don't pay their bills are douchebags, they deserve abuse, they deserve to be berated, and when he gives a "settlement" they don't realize he gets 30% of whatever it is they agree to pay. Laughing. So much laughing.

So he is awesome. The most awesome. When they were done with their call, he then sat there and picked his nose, all the way up to his second knuckle deep up into his nostril, like he was trying to scratch his brain.

Because I wear an invisible sign that says "Hey, Talk To Me!" he then tried to talk to me. But because I was so infuriated about the trash he had to say on the phone to his friends, I didn't wish to engage.

I pretended to take phone calls instead.

I wanted to tell him he was a big bag of dicks and he should eat shit and die for his attitude about people who "don't pay their bills" because he has no idea what people are going through. Fuck you, ya douchebag.

Pretending to take phone calls and looking out the window was a better bet. I sometimes can't hold my anger, and I would have let shit fly from my mouth better left unsaid.

Another day, I flirted with a Dutch baby in a stroller who didn't want to be on the Orange Line, and helped his parents figure out how to get to the airport safely. They almost didn't get off at State Street, until I asked them if they were Airport Bound, and if they were planning the blue line or the silver line from South Station. They looked at me and both said "uhhhhh, blue line to airport?" so i put my foot in the door and didn't let it close, and helped them off the train, told them how to get to the blue line in the maze and tunnels, as my train rolled away and I then had to wait 16 minutes for the next one.

More baby adventures on the orange line, as a young mother and her sweet little girl were very entertaining. Baby kept handing me her shoes. I kept giving them to her mom. She was a handful and by the time we made it to Downtown Crossing she'd pretty much had it. It is hard to be the baby. Momma strapped her into the stroller and she lost her mind, we walked down the platform and then got to the staircase to head to the Red line, and I turned around and took the foot rest of the stroller and helped carry baby down the stairs. I didn't even ask if mom needed help. She just smiled and accepted it. The baby stopped crying and looked at me, fascinated that I was holding her stroller and helping her schlep down the stairs.

We sat together on the red line, for the one stop I was on the train for to South Station, and when I got up I said "bye baby, and bye momma." And both of them smiled.

I wanted to ask their names but baby and momma will do.

Yesterday I was on the escalator coming upstairs at South Station and three women in front of me stopped at the top of the escalator. I crashed into them, and said "woah ladies, you can't ever just stop at the top of the escalator!" and I started to walk towards the orange line. One woman said "Sorry, I'm blind!" and I realized two of them had walking sticks and one was obviously visually handicapped but could see well enough to get around. I turned around as they were trying to figure out where to go, and I said "okay ladies, how can I help you? Where are you headed?"

The destination was Downtown Crossing so I told them to follow me. The women each had a suitcase, their walking sticks, and I guided them to the stairs. We were walking down and holding up traffic so I offered to help take a suitcase down to the bottom of the stairs so they could walk unecumbered. I started to drag the suitcase, which weighed about 200 pounds, down the stairs. "Jeesh lady! What's in here? A dead body!?" I asked. "Yeah, my ex husband! He pissed me off!" she responded. 

A guy behind me offered to grab the bottom of the bag and I nodded yes, so he and I carried the thing down the stairs. "I'm not stealing your bag, me and the ex will wait for you down the foot of the stairs. You take your time." The guy smiled and we hustled down the steps so people could get around the blind women, and not be held up by us.

I set the bag down and the guy and I smiled at each other, I thanked him and he hopped on the train waiting there. The ladies eventually all made it down the steps, and I gathered them together. I ushered them to the end of the end of the platform and told the MBTA lady to put them on a less crowded train bound for Downtown Crossing, because the one that was just arriving was sardine packed. I waited for the next one, realizing that I was most likely going to miss my train home. I told them they'd be going one stop, and asked them if they were in a hurry. I described the tightness of the crowd, and told them they would probably be better suited to wait a couple trains, while I was going to grab the very next.

They repeatedly thanked me, and the MBTA lady stood there and just watched me give them guidance and assurance. A train arrived, super crowded but I had to take it. I bid them farewell and MBTA lady looked at me and told me that was the sweetest thing she'd seen in forever. I smiled and said "make sure they're okay for me, cause I gotta jet."

My train was one minute late in leaving. I made it. Relieved and exhausted, standing for the first five stops.

Today I helped a German find the Alamo car rental to return his car. I sat next to a beautiful little Chinese boy on the Orange line who had a ledger book that he wrote words and drew pictures in, and they all looked so much like some of the wonderful things Geoff used to draw. And it made me cry a little bit as he wrote Boston Boston Boston on all the pages with square bodies and big round heads.

One of them was probably me.

I saw a fight on the Orange Line as people were trying to get off the train, but people were pushing to get into the train. Basic physics dictates that you have to let people OUT before you can get in. Assholes. So there was yelling and screaming and a bunch of fat old women who just didn't give a fuck just kept pushing their way into the train as some well dressed businessman yelled at them "Ladies, you CAN'T DO THAT!" Yeah yeah yeah no speak english whatever.

Tonight, I left work at 6pm to begin the  mile and 3/4 walk to North Station from my office. It is dark at  6pm now, which is very sad. I made it to the station in plenty of time and overheard  a conversation between a woman and the ticket agent for MBTA. She was without her phone, it was dead, and her Amtrak ticket was on the phone... dead. She missed her train unfortunately, and needed to get in touch with someone at Amtrak to fix her reservation and get on the next train.

The MBTA guy was apologetic, but couldn't help her, because he doesn't work for Amtrak. Their office was closed (stupid move on their part). She asked if he had a cell phone she could use to call them, because, of course, there is no customer service phone on the outside of their office and there is no payphone in all of North Station. He didn't have a phone for her to use, so ...

"I'll let you use my phone," I told her.

She was incredibly relieved, and the MBTA guy said "okay, this nice lady will help you." I had all of ten minutes before my train was going to leave. But hell, I figured ... If I miss it, I'll go have dinner at the Beer Works and watch the ball game.

She called Amtrak and they needed the credit card number she used to make the reservation. Well, that was at home in Maine. They gave her a reference number, and told her to call back with the number. She was on the verge of tears, and called home to her husband who had the credit card in his possession, and he made the call to Amtrak, called my phone back, and said "She's all set" to me.

Two minutes until my train leaves, and she's all relieved and happy. Her train doesn't leave until 11:30pm, so she asks me if she can take me to dinner for my kindness, but I politely decline, because that there train needs me to be on it. We hug, she tries to pay me and I told her to do something with the money for someone who really needs it. She asks what my favorite charity is and I tell her Kiva or Heifer Project. And she smiles.

I make my train.

My contract has been extended through next week.

I think I could make a daily ministry of good works if I keep this up, but I also wonder if people don't just get bitter and jaded and filled with apathy about stuff like this. When I'm at the stations, my eyes and ears are always open to people who may need a hand. And I am surrounded by people who just don't give a shit.

I'm not better than them, for sure. Heck, I sometimes cringe when people gesture towards me for help. It worries me that I may be scammed or hurt or somehow taken advantage of but so far these past several weeks I've been deeply blessed by opportunities to help, and want that to continue.

In Boy Scouts, the boys are taught to do a good turn daily. I think I've done that. And hope to continue doing that.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

real live updates to come i promise

I am running out the door to go to Geoff's Court of Honor for Boy Scouts. dude tried to wash his shirt and failed miserably. It's a great story. He's accepting of his mistake and if anyone questions it, he'll answer honestly.

Work has been good, the commute has been long. There is a distinct possibility that a job may be created for me. The guy I'm working with has already been hired. Part of me says yes yes yes and another part of me knows that I will then have to give up CAC and will be having to get up at 5:30am DAILY (oh, the horror).

It will be nice to end three years of drought and financial discomfort. We'll see what happens.

In the meantime, I've been walking my butt off, at least 2 miles a day, sometimes 5. I feel like I am accomplishing things. I like my co-workers.

There are pros and cons to the possibility of working in Boston.

Off to boy scouts. more later.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Short Term Contract

A couple weeks ago, on a Wednesday afternoon, my cell phone rang while I was helping Carrie move some stuff from point A to point B. It was a recruiter who wanted to see if I was available to take a short term, and by short term she meant two to three weeks, contract in Boston.

Two to three weeks? Sure. I can do that. I just wasn't about to give up my Fridays at the cooking school on such short notice for a short term contract. If it was a six month contract, I'd give up the Fridays and figure something out after the six months were up.

They wanted me to start the next day. I laughed as I sat there surrounded by boxes and mess and told the recruiter that I could start next week. There were still a lot of loose ends I needed to tie up. 

I learned a lot about contract work when I took the last "short term" contract in 2012. February 2012, I joined a team which had been put into place September 2011. They told me it would be a three-month contract.  That contract is still going.  In the back of my mind, I am prepared for this contract to be extended for weeks to come. And that would be good.

The first day i was there, the manager came over and asked me and the guy I'm sitting with if we were able to keep working past October  11, we both agreed and right now she got her way and we were extended to the 18th and may be extended longer.

Lesson learned about contracts, lesson applied.

The job is in the Seaport District. It's something of a challenge to get to at times. The train from where I live takes an hour, the subway nearest to the location takes another half hour, and then there is a half mile walk.

Right now, the weather being sterling and gorgeous and amazing, I can dig it.

Add some rain, wind, cold and snow and I'd be cursing the hell out of it.

Over the past two weeks I've walked from North Station to my desk, or my desk to North Station,  which is about 1.70 miles. Not a bad walk at all and in fact I can be at either destination in the same amount of time that it takes the subway to get me there. And with the weather being what it is... I'll take that.

I haven't worked in Boston since before Doug and I were married. I don't like a long commute. I don't like 2 hours of my there and 2 hours of my back being eaten up by travel and being surrounded by people coughing, sneezing, hacking, talking on their cell phones, picking their noses.

If I'm going to travel the 2 hours (and sometimes it takes me 2 hours to get home from the cooking school) I'd rather be in a car singing my brains out and looking at traffic, or bailing off the highway and taking backroads with my GPS leading me the way.

So far though, I've enjoyed this little excursion. I get to look at a lot of things, and lights and blue sky and colors and stuff are pretty. There are plenty of places for lunchtime walks, and I can pound out a mile and a half stroll in a half hour, grab a sammitch from an overpriced eatery, and be back at my desk in 45 minutes tops.

A girl can get used to that.

I'm exhausted most of the time when I get home. I am sleeping like I'm dead. This is a good thing, right?

Anyway... the company is a travel agency for people aged 55 and over. They have a very media-rich website and they upgraded from one version of the software to another, and things broke (just like the other contract). I'm wondering if things are going to be broken enough to keep us around longer than October 18th. God knows I need the money.

I really love the people I'm working for. E and A as supervisors are fantastic. And I think they love me. The guy I'm working with is maybe 25, and we have a lot in common from sports interests to music to art... and beer. So he's fun to talk to. And he's easily distracted, which is so much fun. I will say something and he won't know what it is, so he immediately goes to Google and checks it out.

"How do you know so much stuff?!" he asked me. I say "It comes from being 46! I've lived a long and interesting trivia fueled life!"

We decided that we could rule at Pub Trivia with him taking the sports questions and me taking just about everything else.

Working at a travel company is fun, because the content is interesting, but it's also painful because it reminds me of how little money I have and how many places I want to go visit. 

In other news, we replaced the dead red Volvo with a little brown 2 seater pickup truck. Doug went to the state auction in NH with 1200 bucks in his pocket and walked away with yet another thousand dollar car. I was really mad at him for doing it, I wanted him to wait a couple of weeks until we had about 3000 bucks so we could buy something a touch more decent. Plus, 2 seats? really?

It's cute though, and God knows I love me a little pick up truck.

It needs work, the muffler/exhaust needs help and it is leaking fluid from places. He's playing mechanic and doing a lot of work on it. I'm proud of him for the effort he's putting forth.

I had mentioned in a previous entry that my landlord had told us he would replace the deck and the garage doors. He came this week to measure for both and I'm hoping by the end of this month to have a nice new deck and garage doors that close. He also said he'll get a dumpster to pull out items the previous tenant left in the garage (the last dumpster was to clean up the items he left on the side of the road and in the driveway). We could have a place to store our stuff before it snows. Sing Hallelujah.

Not much else to report. I feel I've lost momentum with unpacking and organizing. I spent an hour this morning going through the laundry upstairs and getting things on hangers, and items folded and into bureaus. Quite a challenge for me. I need to get back to the back porch and getting that organized and cleared up.

So why am I here on my blog. See you later.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Dream About The House

A couple of nights ago, I had a dream about the old house. I knew it was inevitable. In the dream, the dutch door was half open (top half, obviously) and I opened the bottom and ran into the house. I felt like my heart was exploding with joy. I was running in to my family, who I knew were in there waiting for me.

I made it about 8 steps into the house, and it was empty. It was just the same way we left it on the last day, on August 31, empty.

I was standing in front of the giant kitchen hearth, and I felt the sadness just drain from me. I felt wave after wave of unbelievable loss.

Waking up from this, right at that moment... I felt the loss in my heart while the dogs and Doug all snored softly around me, in my same bed from that house, my same sheets, my same pillows. My same everything.

And I thought about how you can really see a lot more stars here at this house, when standing out in the yard, you can actually see the Milky Way. That is kind of cool. But when I am in my bed, I can't look out the window above my head and see Orion guarding me, as my bedroom is on the total wrong side of the house.

These things shouldn't bother me.

But they really do.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

a eulogy not delivered...

at marie's funeral, we weren't sure if we were going to be given a chance to stand and say anything. As a good Boy Scout Leader, I was prepared anyway.

I've edited this so it is a blog entry instead, simply to say it, have it said, and have it out there.

Her funeral was nice. I'm not a big fan of Catholic funerals. I always feel the Priest is a supply staffer who doesn't know the family, the family maybe on the whole doesn't really BELIEVE any of this Catholic stuff. The service is always long, weird and disjointed for me. The Priest doing this service was very young (maybe in his early 30s?) and Filipino. At first his accent was a little hard to get past, but I have to say as far as these things go, where my perception is the Priest is a borderline stranger, he did a tremendous job. He told the story of how he met Marie 6 weeks ago when her son called the parish and asked for someone to come pray with his mom. By the sounds of it he had the opportunity to spend quality time with her and her family. He may not have been her pastor for long, but he certainly "got" her, the family, and the friends. So... hats off to him. Well done, sir.

So, here's what I would have delivered, maybe.

If you are a Boy Scout, scout leader, former Boy Scout, or even if you just know the words please rise, and Scout Salute.  A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.  

Please be seated. You may be wondering why I opened my comments this morning with the Scout Law. 

For weeks now when I have been thinking about Marie I reflect on how she was all of these things and lived the Scout Law in her life daily. 

I’d like to say she was the best Boy Scout I ever knew, gender roles, rank advancement, and merit badge completions aside. 

For those of you who do not know me,I served on the BSA Troop 87 Committee with Marie, and several years ago she encouraged me to be the Troop Chaplain. Hopefully no one is offended in stating the Scout Law in church, but for me each of those items trace back to Biblical principles, straight out of scripture. So I’m comfortable saying these things, and feel they have a place in this space. 

As the Troop Chaplain, it isn’t my job to convert anyone to anything. It is primarily to set a spiritual tone in the Troop, which I think I do when I’m not being excessively silly.  Chaplaincy guidelines are less about trying to tell someone what you think they should believe than they are exercising compassion in action, providing care, encouragement and love. Acts which in and of themselves are spiritual in nature. It is an honor for me to be the Troop Chaplain. But I'm not just that for the Scouts, but to the adults in Marie’s life and to her family. And I especially feel compelled to be here and share with you today because of Marie’s love for me.

Marie was an excellent role model. When my son came into Troop 87 in 2007 after receiving his Arrow of Light, Marie and Jim (the Scoutmaster) welcomed us in with open arms. My husband and I knew that for Geoff to have a successful transition into BSA from the Cub Pack, we would have to be involved. Doug went on camp outs and off to summer camp as an adult leader, and I joined the committee.   

I remember going to a committee members training with Marie a few years back. There was a NH Troop committee chair who basically said that she was the committee chair, treasurer, and the committee along with her one scoutmaster and assistant scoutmaster. She looked at the four of us and was jealous that we had four people on the troop committee. We sheepishly let her know that we actually had a lot more than four … and we had a lot more scoutmasters than two. She asked me how we motivated parents to be involved. I thought about it and told her that we just have incredibly committed parents, but the truth of the matter was that we had an incredibly committed committee chairwoman. 

What I have gotten out of this experience the most since our son joined the troop is that as a parent, I’m not just invested in the success of my son in scouting - I’m invested in the success of the other boys in scouting. Marie set forth an example of what a scouting parent should be. She let us know that it’s not just about “get your kid to Eagle,” but … get all boys to enjoy themselves. Build a quality program with excellent activities. Sure, monitor their advancement and their achievements in merit badges and encourage that … but also encourage their growth in relationship with one another and their joy in the troop. 

And in doing so, you connect with the families, the parents, the siblings, and the community. 
As you know, this past Saturday was (our town) Day. For the last five years I’ve coordinated the details for the Boy Scout Troop. Marie were my right-hand man in this, and starting in April or May each year she’d start touching base with me about what was arranged. To be honest, our vendors didn’t want to hear from us in April. But I’d always have everything ready to go and wait another month or so before I started reaching out for the donations.
The most important day leading up to (our town) Day for me was always the Thursday BSA Troop meeting right before the event. 

This past Thursday, I was out at the trailer with Thane, Stan and Stephen, moving stuff around, loading up coolers into the three vehicles that were going to go get ice. I could hear her voice… “is there enough charcoal? Are the coolers clean? Do we have trash barrels? Recycle bins? Is there enough shade cover? How many paper plates do you have?” She always thought of something that I was missing or asked me about a detail that I’d accidentally overlooked. 

Some people probably don’t like having someone double checking their plans or their work but for me, her shadowing was indispensable.  I don’t have ADD, but there are times that even with lists, spreadsheets and checking things off I’m discombobulated and I miss things.  In working with Pattie, our new committee chair, this year, Pattie certainly rose to that task, serving as external checklist, walking the plot plan of the field with Kathy and myself on that Thursday. 

I love Pattie dearly, but that particular Thursday was always the Marie Day for me and I missed her voice, her cocking her head to the side and asking me about detail a, b, c, d, r, x, z… 

After the meeting on Thursday I wanted to go to her bedside and sit next to her, and tell her that everything was all set for the big day. My big concern was ice and keeping the meat cool without using all of our coolers and our ice to do so. Gotta keep the customers food safe. 

I wanted her to assure me that I didn’t need to panic, that we’d planned right. She would know and double check and count every year. This year I knew she wouldn't be able to respond to me, but I just wanted her to know. 

I didn’t want to make myself sad, and so I didn’t go Thursday night. Instead, I promised myself that I would come visit on Saturday night, tired and sweaty, to let her know how it all went. But she left us on Friday night, a little earlier than I wanted.  

Well, I know you can hear me, Marie. So. Here’s how we did, honey:

Marie, it was awesome. This year, we had everything down. The only thing we missed was a detail for one item newly introduced to our set up in the form of a hand washing station courtesy of the Board of Health. I didn’t buy soap, and we didn’t have enough paper towels. (Note to self: add hand soap and paper towels to the shopping list for Sam’s club next year.)
Marie, you would have been so proud to see so many boys out there helping customers and cleaning up. You would have been proud of the dads, Scoutmasters, and older Scouts working on the grill. A couple first timers on the Wok were rocking the peppers and onions, tempting the masses with delicious smells. And I was so pleased that some of the older Scouts truly love to use the Wok as well. You would have loved to have seen Thane’s grill tops in action. They were awesome. You would have loved to see how many parents there working, early shift, later shift.  

We ran out of hot dogs and sausages, which I didn’t expect because we had so many left over last year. Luckily we live close to Market Basket and we had willing parents to brave the parking situation and run out to grab what we needed. And this is always why you monitored what I did, because it’s always something. And we learn. 

You would have loved it. And in some ways I felt your presence with us. And will always feel your presence with us.Thank you. Long may you run.

Thank you everyone for letting me share this with you. Marie was a great Scout. You be a great Scout, even if you’re not a Boy Scout. Do your best. On your honor.