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.