Thursday, May 30, 2013

Moving Right Along...

Seven years ago this past weekend, we moved into our house. I love this house.

We had outgrown our old house, and could have put in about $20-40,000 in converting the whole first floor into one unit, and live in a construction zone for months... so we decided to pass on that idea and sold the house to my neighbor's cousin.

We spent a great deal of time looking for a new place, found this one and decided it was the right fit for us. Tons of room, fenced in backyard for the dog... we only had one at the time. Geoff got a Man Cave for his game systems and drum set. We got a beautiful room with a woodstove, a loft where the computer goes. Three big bedrooms and a room that was more of a glorified hallway more than anything but it was nice for bookcases and a bureau and the exercise bike.

Seven years ago we moved in, and in the coming weeks, we'll be moving out.

Many of you who read this blog know what we've been through over the past couple of years. Suffice to say, we've come to an end in that journey with dealing with a certain bank.

I can't discuss any of the situation any further. I'm not allowed to say anything. All I feel I can say is that we're done, it's over, and we lost.  I'm not Frodo, Doug is not Samwise Gamgee and my lawyer, though I love him dearly and appreciate all of his efforts on our behalf, unfortunately isn't Gandalf. We made it as far as we could. And Tolkien would be disappointed in us for sure, but ... it is what it is.


We are in the market for a 3 bedroom house to rent. Geoff has 2 more years in high school left, and we don't want to pull him out of the school he's in with so little time left. We also want to stay close enough geographically to town so he can stay with the BSA Troop. He's so close to finishing with an Eagle that I don't want to try and move him into another troop without knowing the parents and kids.

I will say that I'm happy that this is behind us at this point. Sure, yeah, I am upset. I am heartbroken. But it is a relief to be done.

I don't know what will happen to this house after we're gone. I worry for it, and it is one of the reasons why we fought to keep it. This is a special house... It was built in 1774. It needs to be owned by someone who isn't going to tear it down and slap up two smaller houses on the lot (it isn't protected by the historical society in town), it needs to be owned by someone who will love it like we did and the previous owner did. Someone who hopefully will enjoy this wood stove room, this lighting, this backyard, this hedge of lilacs, this extraordinary set of neighbors on all sides...  I will miss them the most.

I took this photo the morning after we moved in. I came down this morning at exactly 6:10am and while the table has a lot of mail and other stuff on it, the light was exactly... EXACTLY the same. And this I will so miss. So very much.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Life Scout

(pictured, Geoff and our neighbor, his role model and great friend Thane at Thane's Eagle Ceremony).

Tonight Geoff had a long awaited meeting.

Two years ago he became a Star Scout in Boy Scouts, and has dragged his feet on finishing some merit badges that were required to move him up in rank.

Over the summer he got Lifesaving, and had been working on Camping pretty much since he started Scouting. He is one requirement away from Physical Fitness, and has one meeting left with that merit badge counselor.

A few weeks ago he stepped up his game, met with the Camping merit badge counselor, and started knocking off the remaining requirements. He finished up the badge and had to wait two weeks for his Scoutmaster conference since we missed a meeting and the Scoutmaster missed the following meeting.

He's been chomping at the bit for this review, this conference. And it happened tonight. We had our town's Memorial Day observance, and afterwards the boys went down to the playground under town hall to run around and play crash into things kinds of games that they love. Geoff and Tom sat on the park bench, and fifteen minutes later he came to the car where I was sitting.

Success. Now he needed two committee members, and I couldn't be one of them, to do the board of review. Two showed up and he spent time with them, got his review and advanced in rank.

He's rather pleased with himself... Now he needs five more non-Eagle required badges and five Eagle required (or is it 6?) and an Eagle project to become an Eagle Scout.

Long time readers of this blog know that our journey with Geoff has been challenging. If you read all of our archives, entry by entry, many of them concern him being kind of a nightmare in elementary school. Bungee jumping out of trees, continual issues with school, with temper tantrums, with freaking out over all kinds of things. It took a long time for us to figure out how Geoff's mind worked, and how to deal with him, and a lot of maturity on his part to get to this point.

He has 18 months before he turns 18 years (well, 19 months really ... January 2015). He has to complete this leg of his journey before then, and I think he can do it.

I believe he can do it.

The person he is today is one that I love so deeply and so dearly. I always have loved him but a lot of times it was with a "I love him but he's gonna make my head explode" kind of sentiment. If he doesn't make Eagle, I won't love him any less.

I will, however, invite everyone who doubted him. Everyone who sat across from me at Sped meetings or disciplinary meetings and told me that my son was a problem and needed to be removed from the school. I will invite each and every person who didn't think that Geoff could be awesome. I will ask them "so, how do you like him now?"

Gloating and prideful boasting aren't things I usually do, but so help me God there are some people I want to look in the eye and go "yeah. Check it out."

So, over the next 19 months, send him mojo. I hope the next picture I post is of him at the dias, on the podium, delivering his Eagle Response, or pinning me with my Eagle mom pin.

He started this journey on March 2, 2007. Here's to the journey's end.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

dog, doug, debt

i am literally fascinated right now watching my dog wash his face with his paws. it looks like he's trying to scratch his eyes out. it is rather entertaining.

i very much would like to take a nap but Geoff has a dentist appointment in 15 minutes, and wants to recycle cans/bottles (i let him keep the money if he does the work).

someone keeps calling out house and leaving these long rambling messages for doug that he won't answer/return. it's about some debt or something. i'm not sure why he won't talk to them. i think he's in a similar state of depression and avoidance as i am (hence the watching the dog wash his face for 10 minutes thing...)  they won't talk to me and hang up on me when i pick up the phone. so i have started disconnecting the call when the woman is in the middle of her script. i wonder how long it takes for them on the other end to realize they are no longer leaving a message.

really want that nap.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Weekend 2013

Friday night, we went out to eat at a restaurant near Doug's new office. He is pissed about commuting, but his new neighborhood is kind of amazing. I've been able to rekindle writing for the Shenanigans With Dave blog, because yes, we've had beer.

I hadn't had beer in about 14 months. But felt that two here and there wouldn't be bad, especially if I'm watching all the other carbs I'm taking in. And I do love beer.

This particular Friday night we went to the Thirsty Scholar, which was wonderful, and the wings were fantastic. I'll be writing that up a little later. We'll be back there. We left before the Bruins game, sadly, but we had a mission. The Dave of the Shenanigans with Dave blog is in the hospital after a series of nasty seizures. He'd been doing really well with very minor seizures, and got hit by a series of grand mal. And then his kidneys failed. So he's been laid up while they try and figure out what the deal is with the kidneys.

I wanted to visit him all week, but a surprise and unexpected meeting with our lawyer on Thursday stopped us from getting into town together (more on that later, just not in this entry as I am not ready to talk about it personally, and don't want the bank that shall not be named to read it here first)...

Friday night at the hospital is a good time. He's got a great room with a hugely beautiful view of Beacon Hill. We laughed our asses off. His nurse is a very nice Danish dude with an ADORABLE accent... he reminded me of my brother in law with his smile and his kind demeanor. I loved him.

Saturday morning I got up with Geoff and we went to the electronics recycling fundraiser that the Boy Scout Troop does each year.

Geoff was a trooper, worked really hard unloading vehicles, and playing with his friends. I love this picture - the bug belongs to Matt (Dave's son) and the boys piled into it and got all campy. I threw Matt in the middle of it. On the right is a first year Scout who just joined the troop and he is my new favorite person. So funny and sweet. Joined right in with the older guys. Just what I love seeing. They don't care that one is in sixth grade and one is in 11th grade... they're all in this together. Well, some are in the boot and some are not. I love that Geoff and the guys can work hard and have fun together. It really makes my heart happy.

Saturday afternoon Doug and I took the dogs for a walk, I talked to Aaron while the dogs swam and played hard even though the walk was very short.

Saturday night Gonzo couldn't even stand up. Both of his back legs would just crumble under him. He was very sore from the swim... so I stayed up with him until 1am. Jess stayed up with him until 4am. Geoff was up until at least 6am, came down off the computer when Jess went upstairs. I came down at about 6 when I talked with Geoff... Sat down here with the limpy crying dog until 8:45 when Doug came down.

I really wanted to go to church - we were installing a new Elder and I wanted to be there but I honestly got no good sleep. Doug let me sleep until noon. We took a wonderful walk, a little over two miles, with the one dog who can do more than 100 feet on the trail. He made me a cocktail and some wonderful italian sausages. My feet are up, we're relaxing, watching ParaNorman and happy.

Gonzo is doing much better. He can get up and walk around. But this one threw us for a loop and I'm worried about him. Sigh.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

A Sunday Afternoon Photo Walk - Boston Architecture and thoughts...

I am only posting a few photos in this entry, all of the photos I took are in a flickr gallery that I encourage you to go check out.

On Sunday afternoon, Jess had to work so we drove her down to Newton and parked in town to take a walk around Beacon Hill. Beacon Hill is the crown jewel of pretty architecture in Boston. But first, Doug wanted to show me what he considers the "Ugliest Building in Boston," even uglier than City Hall Plaza. If you can believe that.

It is the Government Service Center, which houses several Boston and Massachusetts state public health oriented departments like the Department of Mental Health, Unemployment Assistance, and others. The building is really two buildings, kind of like a complex with a court yard.

Now, admittedly, I don't know anything about architecture. Modern, ancient or in between. I know buildings are sometimes designed in unique and bizarre ways. Quirky is cool. There are styles, there are tastes, and personally I tend to like houses that are colonial or farm style, churches that have flying buttresses or gorgeous airy light interiors, museums that lead you to the next room of beauty in pathways and halls and corridors as beautiful as the art held within. I'm going to make a series of judgements on this complex and some of you are going to agree, some are going to disagree. I never in my life thought that buildings could be "controversial." But even the style this building is made in, the "Brutalist Style"  by its name alone, speaks volumes to the lack of beauty and comfort on the exterior.

Ironically, for years I worked at One Bowdoin Square in the lobby when I ran the Au Bon Pain there... which isn't there anymore. And I never once even NOTICED this building. Doug points out I was usually arriving at 4am in the pitch dark and was probably anxious to get into the building quickly so I could lock it behind me and be safe until the baker Said arrived and I wasn't alone, and I was usually leaving at 2pm, exhausted, bleary eyed, and focused on turning left to get to the subway and get home.

He's right.

To the tour. We parked in front of the Erich Lindemann section of the building on Staniford Street. I was immediately struck by the fun house ramps of stairs going up, the strange narrow ramps going between sections of the building, the "raked" exterior which looked to me like a horrible giant bear had dug its claws into the concrete while it was still wet, the bizarre light fixtures and wacky tubes that extended up from the ground or from the top of a blocky things, and the bizarre kidney-shaped "stairs" that went up and then down, for no apparent reason.

The next thing that caught my eye was the fencing around the entire building. There are these nice bench alcoves, which I liked and thought gave the building a touch of welcome, but they're fenced in. You can't sit on them. Ever. We figured it was to prevent the homeless from sleeping on them for one, and for another the backs of the benches were very low, and dropped down into a pit or to another level. We theorized that if people were having a fight or were incredibly drunk gravity may have its way and people could plummet to their deaths.

Then we walked into the court yard area between the two buildings and noticed that the fencing continued all the way around every possible area where anyone could stand, sit, lay down, sleep, or plant flowers.

Some of this fencing seemed excessive, especially the second photo above here. No one is going to plummet to their death sitting along the bushes. And because all this fencing is here, no one is maintaining the landscaping. No one is cleaning behind the fences. No one is maintaining any asethetic in an already dismal looking area.

Now, mind you, the purpose of one of this building is primarily  to help the mentally ill or people who feel they need help with ... life, the universe and everything. Alzheimers, Dementia, substance abuse.

Sadly, I cannot find an actual webpage that outlines any services that are provided at the Lindemann offices. All the webpages point to documentation on pdf or Word documents with their address and letterhead, for information technology policies and evacuation plans in case of emergency.

But unlike most hospitals or doctors offices, there is no actual dot com or dot edu or dot gov that outlines doctor information or services are rendered here.

If I'm in need of assistance for my mental state, I do not know if this is a place I want to show up to and get help. The most interesting piece I did find was an article from Singapore Architect, April 2010, pretty much agreeing with my initial assessment that this wacky a building is not a healthy place if your mental health needs help. Go read the article... see if you agree with how I feel about it.

I took 20 pictures of a building I honestly hope I never have to set foot into. There but for the grace of God go I.

We were standing on Cambridge Street facing the building and looking at Bowdoin Square (where my Au Bon Pain once was...) and I turned around and saw this:

And my faith in art and buildings and everything was instantly renewed. Crossing the street, we headed up to Beacon Hill to walk about and cleanse our palate from what we just looked at.

Beacon Hill was in full bloom, gorgeous gardens, window boxes full of pansies and hydrangeas, flowering trees of every color and shape.

A few yards needed a little help, but for the most part everything was perfectly maintained and just plain gorgeous.

Historic markers on fences and doors let us know what builder or colonial leader lived there. We walked around Louisburg Square where our former Senator once had a fire hydrant removed because it was in the way of where he wanted to park (true story). There were tourists a plenty, folks walking their dogs, people walking back from the market texting and smiling.

It was a gorgeous day to walk around a gorgeous neighborhood. Before we knew it, we had walked about 4 miles. Just in this one neighborhood. Up and down hills, up and down same roads to get over to another road where Doug remembered there was this  "pocket park" that he wanted me to see.

He had wanted to show me a little synagogue tucked into the neighborhood, very unassuming and unexpected. The door to the Vilna Shul was open, so we asked if we could take a look around. The girl brought us upstairs where a man was giving a tour to some Hebrew School students getting ready to do their bat/bar mitzvahs. A lot of people don't realize that in this neighborhood where now there is some of the most exclusive and expensive real estate there were once some of the poorest immigrant neighborhoods, and the Shul is evidence of the Jewish community that once lived there.

The gentleman, named Steve, welcomed us into the tour. We learned about the painting restoration project and the four layers of paint that were being very carefully exposed by the experts. The students went downstairs and the man continued to show us around. He told us he is the executive director of the Shul, and he loves this place, and is retiring at the end of June.

Through his tour, I could feel his joy about the history and the building. We talked about Judaism and Christianity, about our church (also an historic building going through restoration right now) and I invited him up for a tour any time he wanted. We talked about all the symbolism in the woodwork of the Ark, including the "live long and prosper" sign and the American Eagle at the top.

The pews in the women's section of the synagogue were once part of an African American church, and when the building was sold, the pews came here. Steve told us the "Glory" regiment sat in these pews, and the synagogue is so happy to have retained this piece of Boston, Black and American history. 

How lucky were we to meet him on this particular day, close to his retirement, and get a wonderful personal tour of his beautiful synagogue. Such a wonderful time, and we felt so blessed after we left.
Thank you Steve. Enjoy your retirement. 

We continued onward, stopping for a snack at Emmet's Pub. We walked down to Tremont Street, looked at the City Hall building, pondered the Big Apple Circus which seems to have taken up permanent residency on the plaza... walked on down to look at the bridge from the overpass, from the top of the greenway, from the top of the tunnel.

TD Garden is decked out for the Bruins who will hopefully quickly dispatch each opponent and once again win the Stanley Cup (a girl can dream...). Light was fading fast, and so was my camera battery. I caught one last nice shot down an alley way of the Custom House in the magic hour light.

We stood watching the traffic running down the bridge. I thought of what buildings were the West End before they tore everything down in the 1960s and put up that monstrosity of a building.

I thought of pubs and houses and people living there, dying there, worshiping there. I thought of how Beacon Hill was once upon a time full of immigrants struggling to make a living and how now you can't buy a townhouse for less than a cool million.

A building I hope never to enter, houses I will never own, and a worship space that isn't mine but made me feel welcome. A pretty good day in Boston, if you ask me.