Sunday, August 25, 2013


Oh my gosh. Moving. I hate moving.

This has been much better than the last time we moved, but it still has been an utter pain in the ass.

Sunday we met with the landlord and got the keys. The former tenant had left a mile and a half of shit in the driveway, and the town came Monday morning and took 2 trash barrels of trash, which is the town policy.  The place is a mess, he barely left with all his stuff, and left a crap ton behind. For us to deal with. We told the Landlord that we'd clean up but he'd pay for it with a dumpster... he agreed to that but said he'd try and get the tenant to make good. We moved some stuff over on Sunday night, and sighed heavily as we started thinking about the tasks ahead of us.

Monday I was at work and Doug, Geoff and Thane did a ton of work and moving with a rented van. Our friend Wayne and his kids came down and helped too. The two older ones were a big help. The three younger ones were good at whacking weeds and throwing stuff in the trash and keeping the dogs busy. I got home from work in time for Pizza and bee stings. We discovered the garage, beside which we were eating, was infested with bees, yellow jackets, hornets, flying evil bastards. That brought our fun to an end.

Tuesday, same thing. Fewer Bees.Thane came over again and the three of them packmuled everything that I had packed and could pack. Keeping up with them was a challenge. Thane left for NY on Wednesday, so we lost his help. Doug and Geoff continued to work hard, and by Friday we had movers bring over the heavy stuff that we couldn't deal with on our own. Beds, bed frames, mattresses, bureaus and the like. Friday night all of our beds were over here, so ... we slept over here.

Doug brought the dogs over while I was at work. All of them except for Brodie have settled in really well. She is completely freaked out, even two days later.

Friday was interesting for Doug in my absence. Our landlord had been trying to get the former tenant to clean up the mess he left behind.  The guy showed up and gave my husband attitude about how "it's no big deal" and Doug gave it right back with "if it is no big deal, clean it up, jerk." Our landlord had the guy pay my son 40 bucks to fill a dumpster, literally FILL a dumpster, with the shit he left behind.

We got our DirectTV and comcast service pumped in. I ran errands on Saturday morning, Geoff and I went on a shopping spree at K-mart to get cleaning supplies and stuff for the bathroom. My sister arrived Saturday afternoon, and we commenced to working and cleaning our asses off here at the new place. I didn't intend to have the whole day spent here cleaning when we still have stuff to do over the other house.

Today my sister and I did some cleaning here, some folks from our church joined us and we also went to the old house. I think we spent 5 hours at the old place, several of us working hard. Doug and Andy (our friend from church) cleaned the basement out. Andy's wife Jan tackled the kitchen and downstairs bathroom. I went upstairs to the bathroom and Geoff's room. Doug and Geoff went back to the house after Andy and Jan left, and I stayed and worked on the downstairs... my ADD was showing, as I walked into every room, did things, worked on things, forgot what I was doing in other rooms, and so I was not making the best use of my time. Still, I got a whole ton of stuff done alone.

We still have to do our bedroom and the study. Then mop.

I feel that we're going above and beyond on our end, so I'm extra grouchy about the douchebag of a former tenant giving my husband a ration of shit about 40 bucks and a dumpster that the landlord is paying for.

We're now thinking about paint. The former tenants didn't know how to use the woodstove so the entire downstairs smells like burning. There is soot on everything. My sister cleaned the fridge out, and it took her an hour.

I am super thankful for the dishwasher... so happy for that.

And now, Breaking Bad.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A very moving day, a very moving week

So here we are on day two of the diaspora from our beloved home into a 2 year rental that I am okay with but won't love with all my heart and all my soul. When we looked at the apartment, the tenants were in there -- and all their stuff was in there. Now 90% of their garbage sits at the end of the driveway, and the town didn't take it on trash day. They didn't "broom clean" the interior. There is stuff and crap everywhere.

We talked with the landlord about him hiring a contractor to move everything out, and we're going to just do it, get a dumpster (because really, it will benefit US as well if we have one and then he pays for it, if you know what I mean...) and I'm going to clean every surface that they left dirty.

There is a storage closet that used to be a bathroom. When we looked at the place it was filled with storage items, which makes sense. Now we see that where the tub used to be is unfinished - exposed floors and walls. I think I'm going to politely request that the landlord finish that room and make it a room instead of a half undone bathroom.

He mentioned he's going to pull the deck off of the back of the house as it is a mess, and falling down in places. So I would like for that to happen sooner than later, and really would like a bigger deck. where a piece of patio furniture and a couple chairs can fit up on it.

I have very few wants and expectations in life. My goal was to find a place in our school district that we could afford, and this is the place that we could afford. Considering there are three rentals right now in our district that are twice what this place is, I'm not complaining.

The way I see it, and this is my mantra, "It's only two years. Two years from right now, right this very minute, we can move again if we want to. Anywhere in the country. Anywhere in the world. Anywhere."

Doug has been a workhorse. I had to work yesterday, so he and Geoff and our neighbor Thane set out to work on loading the u-haul truck. Our friend Wayne and five of his six kids (the oldest is at college) came to help. Doug was happy that the older two were on the job, the younger three were a bit of a challenge but when they were given tasks they set to them and went to town. Doug had them hack down a ton of weeds in front of the house. They did a great job.

By the time I arrived from work, they were settling in to pizzas. We were sitting by the garage eating and chatting, and the three littles ran around playing... and then were attacked by bees.

So we had kind of a rough ending to the day. And have discovered the garage is full of flying stinging motherfuckers that we have to murder.

No wonder the tenants didn't clean it out.

So.... work is cut out for us. I'm just doing a quick entry before taking Geoff for a doctor's appointment. Then it is back to the grind.

More later.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Kitchen Spider

Usually, I kill spiders.

I don't like them. I don't like knowing they could crawl into my water glass and then bite me when I go to drink them (as happened to my friend Dan one night). I don't like webs and cobwebs. I do not like when I am sitting here in my ancient house and a spider has the audacity to lower itself from the ceiling RIGHT ABOVE MY HEAD and onto my laptop. I freak out. So when I see them, before they can get in my water glass or stealthily lower themselves down onto my laptop or do any other spidery nefarious activity, I kill them when I see them.

But lately, there is one spider I have allowed to exist.

It appeared this summer, early. It lives in our kitchen window, down in the bottom right corner. I would knock down its web every day when I came to get coffee in the morning, and it would build a new one every night. It didn't leave, and I didn't kill it.

This was a battle of wills between me and this little spinster.

We went away for a weekend, and I came home to find that the web was once again built, tougher and heartier than ever before, and there were flies in it. Right before we went away, some flies decided to come into my house and were bothering the crap out of me. But over that weekend the spider took care of them. Three big fat flies were dead in its web.

Aha! You are serving a purpose. Today, I will not knock down your web.

For weeks now, the spider has done its thing, and I have not knocked down its web. Sometimes it builds over to the dish strainer, and I have to knock down THAT part of things, because it will be in the way of me doing dishes ten times a day, which is literally how often I do dishes.

When I come down in the morning, get coffee and wash dishes that somehow accumulated overnight (cough, Geoff, Ramen, Pizza Rolls) it comes out of its little cone in the web, climbs up out of the window gap, stands there, and it watches me. 

"Good morning," I say to it. "Do a good job today on mosquitoes and other bugs for me. Have a nice day."

It does not reply. I wonder if it drinks or needs water ever, so when it isn't there I flick water off of my finger tips towards the web. The little beads sit there, and I do not know what becomes of them later when I'm not watching. Does the spider come drink the water or does it just evaporate? I realize I know very little about the needs of spiders.

In a week, we will be halfway done moving into the new house. Today as I got my coffee and washed the mystery post-midnight dishes, I started crying when the spider came out of its opening to watch me. I realized I wouldn't be seeing it every morning anymore, and that its companionship, if you can call it that because really, honestly, it isn't like a FRIEND or anything, will end. Our morning tet-a-tet will come to an end.

And that is just unacceptable.

And I know why I'm crying. I'm not crying because of a fucking six eyed bug-eating machine. I'm crying because I'm losing my house, because my car fucking blew up in BUFFALO of all places, good God. I'm crying because I won't be able to just open the back door in the morning and let the dogs run out into the acre of yard anymore. I have to tie them up. They aren't going to understand that. They're going to look at me like "seriously, lady... when are we done here and going home to our house."

I'm crying because I won't be able to look out across the yard to Nancy and Thane's house and see them in the kitchen light. I am crying because my neighbor Jim won't be giving my dogs cookies in the morning, and he won't be standing there watching them run and play before he leaves for work.

I am crying because I feel I have lost complete control of my life. It's not about the spider. But fuck. That's my spider, damnit. I'm going to miss it.

I seriously thought about trying to catch it and bring it with me. It jumps like you wouldn't believe -- it is so skilled! But that would be ridiculous.

Pretty sure that it will be just fine when we're gone, there will be enough bugs to be had. And I wonder if it will miss me? Will it come out in the morning expecting me to pour the milk in the green mug with Rocket Dog and Life Is Good on it, my favorite mug... Will it think "Oh, she went away for the weekend again, I'll see her later."

And then, this happened

Friday Doug was out in Buffalo NY at a conference. He took the Subaru, which was running perfectly and beautifully. But it decided to die in the middle of an intersection in Amherst NY as he was on his way to LensCrafters to get his glasses fixed at the end of the conference.

He got the car towed to a local shop, it was about 4pm and the guy was closing at 5 but gave the car a careful look over. He tried a few things that didn't work, and then told Doug that he was gonna have to look at it on Monday.

Doug called me and told me to look at some options for travel home. One way plane ticket, one way bus ticket. Bus was cheap but he had just missed the only one that day, the next one was at 12:30am the following day. Air was prohibitively expensive on such short notice. He sighed heavily and then the mechanic came over to talk to him.

"You from Massachusetts?" he asked in a thick Eastern European accent. Doug told him yes. "I am going to Ludlow tonight. Do you want a ride? We leave in an hour."

"Yes." replied Doug.

"Can you pick me up in Ludlow at about midnight?" he asked me.


"Sure." I answered. I had thought maybe our friends in Amherst, MA could grab him at midnight and I could get him the next morning, but I knew how I would feel in his shoes. Get me the motherfuck home.

"I'll see about borrowing C's car since I'm worried about the Volvo going long distances, and I'll pick you up in Ludlow around midnight."

C loaned me her car, I headed out to get to the rendezvous point and when I arrived there were four adults outside the car, two children sleeping inside. The mechanic and his girlfriend hugged me. I said hi to a man named Peter from Poland, visiting on vacation. Doug had his suitcase and a bag of stuff from inside the car all packed up with him. We loaded up into C's car and the mechanic said he'd be home Monday afternoon and would give us a call on what is going on with the car.

I thanked them for giving him a ride this far and the mechanic said "You're good people and we're good people so we take care of each other. It was no problem. We were coming here anyway."

Goodbyes exchanged, Doug and I drive back to the Masspike, and he tells me that for the last six hours he was in a car listening to Gypsy Polka music, surrounded by discussions in Polish, lots of laughter and snacks and happiness.   The mechanic had a lead foot and a penchant for the dramatic when talking about the Mafia State Troopers along the corridor who extort money from travelers and who are crooked as the mountain roads they were passing at a high rate of speed.

Doug and I had a good laugh, and I was happy to get him home at 2am, and we waited to hear about the car.

The engine is shot, gone, kaput. Just like that. The mechanic tried his best to fix it, and then started sourcing used motors for replacement. He found one at about 105k miles for 3k price. That wouldn't include the labor of replacing it. We'd be looking at around 4,500 bucks for the repair. Doug has opted to junk it. I'm bummed because we'll get about 400 bucks for the car, and I think the Dog Gate in the back of the car is worth that. I forget what we paid for it but it was a good amount.

I'm sad at a level I cannot even express or comprehend today about this. I loved that car. For as bummed as I am about losing the house, I am taking this car thing really hard. I am especially bummed out about losing the BNL bumper sticker on the back fender, because they don't even make those anymore.  I'm going to mourn the car far harder and more loudly than I will the house I think. I have a place to move to, I don't have a good car to drive my dogs around in now. And I'm fucking pissed and sad like I haven't been in forever.

Our 1999 volvo started making HORRIBLE noises on the way home from work yesterday, the back left wheel is screeching so I have a call into our local mechanic for him to take a look at it tomorrow.

I would laugh if I thought it would get me anywhere. I'd cry too, if I thought that could help.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Come Sail Away

This week I got to go on a cruise on the Schooner Ardelle. Geoff recently joined the Sea Scouts and got to go on as crew. The captain has made the ship available to the boys (and girls, if they join) to learn how to sail a ship like this. Which is pretty cool.

The Schooner fits about 30 people, and only 12 seats were sold so the Captain invited us me and Jess to come with.

I thought the offer of a free sail was nice, but also realized that the Ardelle is a ship that needs maintenance and costs money to run and the tickets support Maritime Gloucester, which in turn supports the Sea Scouts. I decided we'd buy our tickets to go. It was expensive and I almost regretted it, but ... I paid for it.

Read more after the break

Thirteen Dollars of Goodness

At the grocery store the other day, Geoff and I were in line behind a petite energetic young woman who was loading up the conveyer belt with tons of food. She and the cashier knew one another, it was obvious. They were chatting about the kids, how they're doing, what the summer has been like for everyone, how her 13 month old just started more than walking, almost running. Her husband is getting ready to depart for his fourth tour in Afghanistan. Career Army, four kids, fourth tour, she held her fingers up crossed with a big smile on her face and said "here's to hoping it's the last one!"

Her total came to $212.68, and she only had $200 cash on her. She started to pick through her food to decide what was going back. There wasn't any "crap" food on the conveyor, lots of fresh veg and three gallons of milk. If she had a bunch of junk food, I probably wouldn't have done what I did.

I reached into my purse, where usually there are zero dollars since I use my ATM Card all the time, and lo and behold there was $13 in there in ones and fives.

I handed the cashier the money.

The cashier and the woman both looked at me. I said "there ya go.  I'll give you my phone number and you can call me and pay me back whenever."

"I can't take that from you." she said, of course.

"Yeah you can. It's alright. I got ice cream back here and a 16 year old who will be horribly disappointed if it gets all melted so. It's okay. We'll figure something out for later."

The cashier went to hand me back the change and I pointed to the woman, "Give it to her so it stays an even amount instead of Twelve bucks and some change, which neither of us will remember."

She headed out to the car, and told me where she was parked so I could come out to her. The cashier looked at me with big blue eyes and said "I've never seen anyone do something that nice for someone in my life."

I think she must live a sad life.

"Well, I didn't pay for all her groceries. That would have been epic. But she needed exactly what I had. So it just seemed right to do. It's all good." The cashier was stunned, literally stunned. She had to be a little younger than Jess, maybe 19. And I'm wondering if kids are just not ever exposed to any kindness ever. How can we expect kids to BE kind if they don't ever SEE kind.

She rang up my items and I paid, with the debit card, and met the woman in the parking lot.

She was rifling through her console, obviously a Mom Car, filled with kid stuff and two car seats, sand on the floor and french fries between the car seats and seat belts. She was trying to scrounge up some money to hand me. "I called my husband, he's going to come over here with my ATM card and we'll pay you."

I told her to relax. I asked her what town she lived in and it happens to be the same town I do. I gave her my phone number, told her where I lived, and said that she can just come by whenever. She started to cry, and I told her to call her husband back and let him know he didn't need to run over with the bank card. "Just come by and pay me back some day. I live in that house until August 30th so you have time."

She reached into the center console and pulled out an envelope, filled with museum passes. "Benefits of military life, you get all kinds of things like this. Here, take them! Take them all, they're yours." I took 4 passes to the New England Aquarium, figured Doug, the kids and I could go down at some point together, like old times, like when they were little kids only Jess won't throw a temper tantrum because her blood sugar is too low and she's exhausted.

"Consider us more than even for this, you don't have to pay me back. I think I made out the better with this." I thanked her. She told me she grew up in Medford, and no one there was nice. They'd recently moved to our town and she really couldn't get over how kind her neighbors all are. She hugged me, I hugged her. We went our separate ways.

I got to the car where Geoff was loading in our bags. "You are always so nice," he said to me. I asked him if I'm the only person he sees be nice, and he said "Outside of church, yes. You are."

I told him we had passes to the Aquarium, and that we had to use them before November according to the date, so she was nice too. I told him to be nice. If he thinks nice is good and seeing nice stuff is good stuff, he should do that. Be nice.

It was only thirteen dollars, but it was a million bucks of nice for two kids to see, and one mom to go home with all her groceries.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Wherein I am not in my comfort zone

This is a 2 or so week long overdue post about the day I got to play pastor at church. And apologies to those of you who do not believe in God... but maybe you'll enjoy my walk of how I got through this adventure.

Late last year, our pastor told us he was taking sabbatical, which all pastors are entitled to.

We had no problem with it. As a session, we decided that the worship committee would line up "Pulpit Supply," meaning pastors to come in and do the whole worship thingie soup to nuts.

At our annual meeting in January, the moderator of the session announced the pastor would be going on sabbatical and the 10 weeks of pulpit supply choices were laid out to the congregation.

They don't get to vote on it, per se, the session decides. But one woman raised her hand and asked "why are we getting pastors from outside the church to come in when the Elders are supposed to provide the pulpit supply when the pastor is away? When I was an Elder, I had to step up and do it. That's like $150 a week. Surely, some of our Elders can help defray that cost?"

Insert cricket noises here. read more after the break...

Thursday, August 01, 2013

On shaking hands with the famous, and how Wil Wheaton would hopefully be proud of me

Before you read this, please read what celebrity awesomeness and genuine kind and unique person Wil Wheaton has to say about being the target of trolls who pretend to be fans. Click here to go back to his 2011 adventures at Comicon.


Let's talk about Tanglewood.

At the end of the concert, we were walking out of the park and my friend Abbey pointed over to our right and said "Chris, look. It's Brian. He's right there..." And indeed, there stood The Thundergod. My hero. Talking to a couple of people in the shadows outside the wings of the stage, near the buses.

I walked over to him and he immediately turned to me. I stuck my hand out to shake his and said "Happy Birthday Brian," he swung his hand out from way out to his side and slapped it into mine and shook it. He thanked me for the birthday wishes and said "Thanks, I'm old!" He just turned 40 so ... he's  6 years younger than I am, and I do not count that as "old" per se, but his friends laughed. "I'm going to go home and celebrate by going to sleep."

We all laughed and I told him it was a great show and I was touched by his daughter's appearance. He just smiled hugely and said that was awesome. Someone else said something I couldn't hear and he said "Yeah, it is my mom's birthday too so it is a double special night."

Deciding that I didn't want to glom on him any longer, I told him "hey, happy birthday to your mom too. That really was special. Thanks for a great show," and he had a big smile on his face and thanked me again and wished me a good night.

I walked away.  I think my heart rate was about 200 bpm right then, I could feel my pulse in my eyeballs. I fell in next to my daughter and we started to walk to the car.

"That's it?" my daughter said leaning gently over to me. "You're not going to get a picture and talk to him longer?"


See, I don't know if he was surrounded by fans or real friends who came up from around the region to see him. I do know that in the end, me spending any more time gushing about my adoration for him would be meaningless.

Asking him for an autograph, or talking about the harbor cruise I took with them in Boston with the release of "Ganging up on the Sun" was awesome (like he'd remember me) would be extra meaningless.

I had my moment to thank him, and leave him alone. To be honest, I'd love to sit and have a slice of pizza and a beer with him and talk about babies and Brooklyn and life and the Road Journal and stuff.  I would love some time to be The Fan that sits and talks to her favorite person ever. I have a very short list of people I'd like to spend time talking to, and I think Brian Rosenworcel is on the top of that list.

He on the other hand doesn't need me to bother him. He just played his ass off, he's hanging out at a show where his family is in the house, and ... he should be able to spend that time with them, with friends, and have a freaking life.

I didn't need an autograph, I didn't need a flash flushed out picture of us,  with me looking wilty and sweaty and him with his eyes closed or looking the other way.

I had a pretty close to perfect moment, and that is what I need.

Thinking heavily on what Wil Wheaton had to say in his autobiography "Dancing Barefoot," I actually had this thought in my head as I walked away:

" It's about that brief moment, that brief encounter with a Star Trek cast member, that is so important to the fans. That 30 seconds or so of hopefully undivided attention is what they're really paying for, and I always do my best to make sure they get their money's worth. Contrary to popular belief, sitting at a table signing hundreds of autographs for several hours without a break is hard. It's not just mindlessly scrawling my name; It's stopping and listening to the always excited, sometimes shaking, always sweating, sometimes scary dude who wants to know exactly why I did “X” on episode “Y” and would I please sign his picture in silver, because Marina signed it in gold and now he wants the men in silver and the women in gold, and I hated your character and here are 25 reasons why and I expect an answer for each one of them and I'm not leaving until I'm satisfied."

I think I came off less overwhelming than the person demanding an autograph in a particular color demanding to know why x and y happened on an episode. I most definitely wanted to shake the man's hand, the hands that play a drum set that rocks my entire heart and soul, and thank him for a great show. That "30 seconds or so of hopefully undivided attention" that Wil Wheaton talks about is truly all that mattered to me last Tuesday night and that's all I need.

By the way, Wil Wheaton is on my short list of someone to share a slice and a pint with too. But in the meantime, I like to think that the fan behavior I exhibited while meeting my most favorite rock star ever was sufficient.

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013... Guster, Ben Folds Five and Barenaked Ladies. Tanglewood

Pictures from Tanglewood are here.

My friend Chris asked me why on earth I would want to see the same concert twice in a week. Oh honey.

Thing is, I knew for a fact it wouldn't be the "same" concert twice. I don't know what bands he goes to see, but in my experience with Guster and BNL and other bands really, the setlist is not the same 2 shows in a row. And, the antics are not the same. And the interstitial nonsense is never ever the same.

I would have preferred to see four shows in a row over a two week period, but I restrained myself and didn't buy tickets to everything bearing the "Last Summer on Earth" name within driving distance of my house. Be proud of me.

Jess and I left home around 11 and went to visit the aforementioned Chris, his wife (and my former roommate in college) Laurel, and their son Elijah. We spent the afternoon sitting and chatting and then headed over for dinner at The Hangar in Amherst. Truly a transcendent experience. Deliciousness and wings and more wings and deliciousness.

Chris and Laurel told us about the Tanglewood Culture, which I didn't know anything about. They said that show attendees bring picnics. Only they aren't picnics. They are adventures in haute cuisine, with gourmet flair, $200 bottles of wine. Tables! Chairs! Candelabras! Servants! Well, not really the last one. But still. Impressive. I thought about taking a box of take-out wings with me to the show, and maybe giving them to Brian Rosenworcel for his 40th birthday. But I changed my mind. But... next time I go out there, I'm bringing a picnic.

We needed to get to the show early so that  I could have visit time. See, my good friend Eva (from back in the day, all the way back in the day, like our whole lives friends) married a guy and had a kid and that kid is kind of a big huge Ben Folds fan. I convinced the husband, Brian, to buy tickets to the show even though his wife, my dear friend Eva, could not attend. So he would be there, and we would get to meet in person for the second time.

They had spent the day ziplining through the Berkshires, and the son, Sam, was a bit exhausted. Brian and I had a nice visit together while Sam sat quietly. He slowly opened up and we talked about shows and concerts and Ben Folds and how this was going to be great.

Their seats were opposite us and several rows back. We were in the sixth row, right behind Ben Folds' butt. Better seats than Mohegan Sun. I couldn't wait to see the show now.

The shed was pretty empty, and a friend told me that a lot of people don't come to their seats until they feel like it, and stay in picnic land. Sometimes they never come to their seats, and just stay out there and watch the show on the big screen.

Being in the sixth row, I felt that being anywhere else was stupid. Boothby Graffoe came out and his set was nice. He's a very talented singer, and his songs are funny and slightly cringeworthy, which I adore. BNL came out and joined him on a few songs, and Ed was genuinely amused by Boothby's antics. You can tell they're used to one another and the silliness that comes from touring together.

Jessica coveted his BNL/NHL crossover hockey shirt.

Guster came out and I was completely thrilled. So close! I think this is the closest I've been to Guster seat-wise at a show.

I immediately yelled out "HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRIAN!" when they started to take the stage and after the initial clapping subsided. A few other people did too. I wanted him to know that we knew it was his birthday. He smiled, and they started rocking. 

Adam was always very close to the edge of the stage so getting pictures of him was easy.

I even got great shots of Brian, who you usually can't get a good shot of because he is moving so fast and my camera just can't hack it.

The crowd was very quiet and serious, and I was feeling bad for the Gusters. They played "Come Downstairs and Say Hello," and when the song picks up I told Abbey and Jess that we just couldn't stay seated anymore, we needed to give them some rock love and get up and dance.

So we did. I noticed more and more people getting up, and you could tell Ryan was enjoying that. "Hey, you're standing! That means we're doing something right!"

I kind of feel like maybe Guster was feeling short shrifted on this tour with opening and only having about 45 minutes to perform. There was hardly an audience, and the initial energy was lacking. But slowly the audience started feeding them, and they started giving it back.

Ryan noted the picnics, and how awesome they were.

"Homecoming King" got people up rocking and yelling out the line "back in Massachusetts," and the hooting ensued.

Their performance was fantastic, I loved every minute of it and every song.

But the best part of the show was when Ryan introduced Brian's daughter and his mom, "three generations of Rosenworcels on one stage!" to bring a gift out to Brian for his 40th birthday. 

I think it speaks volumes to how wonderful and sweet this band is.

Look at Brian's face as Jolene hands him up the present. She was so cute, and kind of scared but knew exactly what she needed to do. His mom was very caring in guiding her over to her daddy.

It was also Brian's mom's birthday too, which is kind of cool. I wish we'd all been able to sing happy birthday to them. But Ryan didn't strike up the crowd. They just continued to rock.

Ed Robertson came out and sang lead on "Barrel of a Gun," and that was fun. Because he was on Ryan's microphone, I was happy to catch this shot of Ryan and Adam. I think it is one of the better concert pictures I've ever taken.

Ed was fantastic, and the audience loved it.

I really wanted more Guster, but ... sadly their time was up.

Between the Guster and Ben Folds Five set, I went to find Brian and Sam.

I wanted to offer them our seats, so that they could sit close to Ben and that Sam could watch him play. Abbey pointed out that the people beside Jess had not arrived, and that we should all just stay there until they show up. If they show up, okay. Jess and I will go to Brian and Sam's seat. I don't think Jess was happy I volunteered her seat up but I wasn't thinking of her. I was thinking of Sam.

He just turned 13, and he is a huge Ben fan, and I really felt deep in my heart he needed to be as close as possible, and in fact seeing Ben's face or seeing him from the side of the piano was nothing -- he needed to be where we were to see his hands, his playing, his posture, his moves.

Brian was a little bit blown away by my generosity. I didn't give it a second thought. They came all this way, this is his kid's big hero -- hell yeah I'd give up my seat.

I'm glad the people next to Jess never showed up.

We got to sit there through the entire set with Sam and Brian, and let me tell you what, dear reader, Ben was all business for this set. It's almost like he knew I was disappointed in the Friday show.

We got the three songs that I wanted, "Philosophy," "Narcolepsy," and "Army," complete with the audience belting out the horn section and knowing exactly what to do (excellent job, Ben Fans!). We got "Underground," which was hysterical, and I was so proud to hear my daughter belting out every word. So funny. They also did "Alice Childress" and "Landed," and Brian was very happy for those.

We were high-fiving and cheering and just generally in our glory for the 45 minute set. "Dicks on a wall" was a lot better received here. Ben talked about the last time he played with the Boston Pops (Tanglewood is the Summer Residence for the Boston Pops orchestra) there was a riot in the crowd. Two people got into an argument over "some one of them songs from Star Wars or some shit," and then he did an imitation of them hitting each other with chairs. He shook his head and said "My fans would never act that way."

The only thing that would have made this set better would have been "Best Imitation of Myself," and "Uncle Walter." Also, if I could have requested one of the mellow songs to be "Magic," I think that would have made my night.

Another thing that I noticed about this show was it seemed extra loud. Extra powerful. Really turned up and amped up and at blow the roof off the joint levels, not just because of the song choices having more energy but just in general. I don't think I ever expected to hear Ben Folds this loud and powerful. And it was a great experience for me. Sam had his ear plugs in to protect his hearing... but I gotta say I was alright with leaving mine out. Oh, and that fuzzy bass... bliss. 

Thank you Ben Folds Five for melting my face off, and for making it the best night ever.

Looking over at Sam's face was worth it. Seeing him just staring at Ben, and watching the energy and the awesomeness, I felt like I was on another planet, one made of joy and happy all day every day.

Sam and Brian left to go wander the crowd at the picnic area, and they were going to watch some of BNL and take off -- it was a long day for them. I wanted them to stay with us but understood completely.

BNL came out and opened with "Limits" again, and it sounded great. They did a lot of repeats from the Mohegan Sun show, nothing that blew my mind like "Oh my God I can't believe they're playing this! NO WAY!" or anything like I felt with Ben.

They brought the old timey microphone set up out, and I hoped for the bluegrass rendition of "One Week," but I honestly can't remember what they sang here -- it was cool to watch them perform in the Grand Ole Opry set up again, with Tyler behind them on a single drum.

Ryan came out on the same song from Mohegan. No Brian Wilson and the thundergod for an encore. They stopped right at 11 with nothing beyond "Alcohol" because I think Tanglewood has a very strict time-stop clause.

It was a good show and a great set, and a very happy crowd. Lots of joking about the cost of vacation rental properties in the Berkshires. Ed invited everyone over the next night for a BBQ at a place he was renting from 4:30pm to 6pm but they had to be RIGHT OUT at 6 because the next family was coming in for their 90 minute rental.

They talked about a tree tour that they went on and Kevin did an imitation of the tour guide talking about the Shagbark Hickory in the area. They even talked about the picnics out on the lawn, with walnuts lovingly harvested from the local trees by hand, and artisinal shagbark hickory salad dressings...

As always, the ride home made me think that I should have stayed at a hotel, or stayed at Chris and Laurie's for the night because it is a long haul back to our house from the far northwest corner of this little state. And as always, remorse about not buying tickets to all the local shows immediately seeped in. What shenanigans would happen in Maine in a couple nights? What about Brooklyn, where Guster is always such a big freaking hit with the hipster young audience!? Oh man, what am I going to miss?

Indeed, why on earth would I buy tickets to more than one show in a tour. Because of these guys, these events, these songs and these moments. Somewhat repetitive but also unique. Each night a gem in and of itself.

Last Summer on Earth Tour 2013... Guster, Ben Folds Five and Barenaked Ladies. Mohegan Sun Arena

Photos from Mohegan Sun are here.

In the deep dark winter, I bought tickets to two concerts that I knew I had to see. Basically my holy trinity of bands were going to be on tour together. BNL, BFF (Ben Folds Five) and Guster. My father, son, holy ghost, all in one place.

Suddenly, the end of July arrived and it was time to go enjoy the "Last Summer on Earth" tour.

Mohegan Sun arena is a small venue, which is nice. Our tickets weren't great, they were on the floor but kind of far back, 20th row I think. Jess and I got stuck in traffic getting out of Boston, and my friend Valerie and her friend were there waiting for us to arrive. I had emailed her tickets to her but she couldn't access them on her phone.

While we were stuck in traffic, she worked with a manager at the box office to get her tickets, and nothing would work. Something about ticketmaster's transfer system wasn't showing the tickets to her. Eventually the manager canceled our tickets and gave us new tickets, in the 10th row.

Now, I appreciate that greatly. Super nice of the manager to do that, but really, it would have been nicer to buy those seats myself to be honest. The way the casino works is that they don't sell these seats, they comp them to high rollers and people spending a lot of money at the casino, or people in a package deal with hotel and stuff. So the "fans" get to sit a mile away and people who barely know the band are in the front row. It worked out quite amusingly at a former BNL show where some very drunk women decided to take off their underpants and throw them on stage THREE SONGS after "Pinch Me" when the usual underpants throwing takes place. Steve was singing something very serious and had to look up in the rafters to keep from laughing his ass off watching them contorting themselves and falling all over the place trying to get their panties off.

Anyway - our seat upgrade was nice, but the people all around us were bored, didn't care about Guster or Ben Folds... they were there to see Barenaked Ladies. The people to our right left halfway through Guster's opening set, guess they didn't like the band. So we spread out and had a row of ten seats for five people. It was kind of nice.

We missed the opening act, Boothby Graffoe. He opens for BNL a lot, and I've always managed to miss him.

We arrived halfway through Guster's set, and that broke my heart. They were cranking out the end of "Airport Song" when we walked into the arena and I was pumped. Adam blew everyone's eardrums out with his trumpet part on "What You Call Love," and the audience seemed particularly entertained by "This Could All Be Yours." I managed to get some decent shots of them in the short period of time they were on stage for us.

Ben Folds Five came on after Guster and I was very underwhelmed with their performance. Very mellow, very low key... Not at all what I wanted from Ben.

I've managed to never see him or them live, and I wanted my face melted off by "Philosophy" or "Narcolepsy." I wanted to sing the horn part to "Army" at the top of my lungs. Instead I got to listen to people talk all around me, and watch them play on their cell phones while he played very nicely. Overall, I can't really complain.  He gave us "Alice Childress," which was lovely. "Landed" which was GORGEOUS.  I honestly could never hear "Brick" again as long as I live and of course he has to play it because it is his biggest hit (and how out of his entire catalog a song about taking his girlfriend to get an abortion is his only major hit... is beyond me). He did play "One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces" which got the crowd going, and closed out with "Song for the Dumped," and sadly most of the audience didn't know to yell "Fuck you too!" but Jess and I did.

He did a lot of new stuff and I just don't care for the last BFF album, I think the songs fall short in both structure and songwriting compared to the old stuff. But... One of the highlights of the show was the song "Dicks on a Wall," off the new album, which made people walk out... the refrain is "If you're feeling small, and you can't draw a crowd, draw dicks on a wall." He says motherfucker about 300 times in the song (okay, maybe twice) but it was enough to push the sensitive out the back door.

And I laughed.

All told the people behind me talked through his entire set, the people in front of me were groping each other and making out. My friend Val was bored and it was obvious. It felt slow and flat and I really wasn't loving it as much as I do love Ben. I was a bit sad and let down.

He was lovely to watch, and Darren Jessee is such a tremendous drummer, such a joy to behold. Robert Sledge's dirty fuzzy bass playing was like getting a spine massage. They harmonize so beautifully, and it was a pleasure to hear them.

Even if it wasn't what I wanted overall from a rock show.

Barenaked Ladies came out and blew the roof off the joint. They opened with "Limits" off their new album "Grinning Streak," which on the album I dislike but live it just rocks.

The last two albums from them have left me unimpressed, really overproduced, too many "noises," and not enough straight forward rock, and way too much electronic drum machine nonsense. They have one of the world's best rock drummers in their band, and it shows in a live show -- why can't it show on the albums? "All in Good Time" disappointed me, and "Grinning Streak has several songs that I like but don't love.

As much as I am crazy about Ed Robertson as the lead man and super rockstar in this Post-Steven Page era, I'm just feeling like things aren't what they could be.

Boothby Graffoe came out and did "Be My Yoko Ono" with them, and it was very funny. Seeing as I didn't get to see his opening performance, this was my introduction to him. He didn't disappoint -- he was very funny and not at all what I expected.

They gave "Enid" a sound-lift, changing it from a ska-esque song to a slower, dirtier, grungier, grindier tune and I loved it.

Ryan Miller came out and performed with the on a song off the new album called "Gonna Walk" which requires audience echo participation.  And it is a very cute song that has been stuck in my head for days.

They blew the roof off the joint with their medley of current big hits like "Thrift Shop," "Trouble," and "Titanium" (ooh, all T songs. How funny) and for some reason "Blinded by the Light." Tyler Stewart's performance of "Alcohol" is always exceptionally amusing. There were lots of jokes and Ed mocking Kevin for liking his sparkly accordion. The interstitial raps were a riot, echoing former raps in this location with "Mohegan Sun, won't you come..." so it is nice they remember their history. Lots of joking about betting and gambling. Boothby Graffoe made a joke about "Grinning Streaky Bacon" which had the band in stitches and the audience confused. Go figure, Americans don't know what the English eat for breakfast.

Brian Rosenworcel came out and joined them on stage for the bongo part on "Brian Wilson," and that was truly lovely. 

It was a great show from BNL, and I really enjoyed it. I would have loved a lot more cross over between the bands, some Ed with Ben, some Ben playing keys with Kevin, some more of this wonderful Thundergodding with BNL.

Overall, a lovely performance. Thankful that it was indoors. Each of the bands did comment on how they've been sweating balls all summer long at outdoor festivals and this was kind of nice to play inside.

We didn't linger to gamble in the casino. I got to talk to Abbey, who I'd be sitting with at Tanglewood, and Alex and Ken. It's nice to have made friends with people through love of certain bands, and to see them at shows. 

Next, the write up from Tanglewood!