Monday, December 28, 2015

For Christmas

Early in December Geoff casually asked me what my favorite scent was in a candle.

"Why do you ask..." I knew exactly why. "Are you going Christmas shopping?"  Immediately I envisioned the horror and chaos of him trying to negotiate a busy shopping center parking log during the holiday season. I started to sweat and panic.

"Well, maybe. I might head over to K-mart, maybe," he answered.

Whew. Well that's a relief. If he's going over to the K-mart, there's hardly anyone ever there, they have a huge side lot near the gym he goes to that he can park his car in and be away from all other vehicles and pedestrians.

I relaxed and stopped seeing visions of him crashing into everything and scraping cars while trying to squeeze the jeep into parking spots. I told him I like things like pine and cranberry and cinnamon... It is easier to say what I don't like, such as vanillas and tropical fruit.

Doug came in the other day with a huge grin on his face and said, "I think I found Geoff's secret stash of things he bought us for Christmas. There's a trash barrel for the kitchen, and a rake, and some candles and a picture."

And indeed, that is exactly what Geoff got for us.

He bought a small trash barrel for our kitchen. We keep our trash up on the counter by the sink because otherwise the dog eats out of it and pulls it over. The one we had was falling apart, and tilting sideways. So he got a nice tall, thin, sturdy one for us. And he got Doug a rake because our rake was kind of crummy and missing "teeth," as he calls them.

I asked Doug if we failed at modeling good gift giving skills for the boy, or if we raised someone utilitarian and practical. If he got us a trash barrel and a rake, how strange is that?

And he indeed bought me cranberry votive candles, and printed a picture of himself and our dog Jack from 2 summers ago.  It warmed my heart that he thought to do that, and that he remembered me saying how much I love the picture. And that I didn't only get a trash barrel for the kitchen.

He told me he purchased the frame at K-mart and printed the picture off his phone at the library. The print out is horrible, the tape job on the back is a wreck. The frame is weird and square, but the picture fits in just fine.

All told that's one of the nicest gifts I've ever gotten from anyone.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

We come from the land of the ice and snow...

In October we found out that our holiday party theme would be Scandinavia.

Now, I have a soft spot in my heart for all things Denmark (for reasons I'll save) and over the years I've learned a lot about traditions in the Nordic lands. So I volunteered to help out (aka, run the whole shebang because I like to throw a good party) to make us have a rather unique and authentic Scandinavian "Jul" festivus.

Initially I'd asked my girl Jo if she could cater, but she was super booked and she referred me to some friends. There is a committee of people in the office who work on these things and initially I overstepped by being too enthusiastic. So right off the bat I pissed a couple of people off. I backed off and let them pick another caterer (I think my referral would have been just awesome but, I digress).

I'm not unhappy with what we're getting. We got a good deal on a caterer through one of the people on the committee who has a friend who was willing to hook us up for under $700 for the main dishes. A baked ham in mustard sauce, double roasted potatoes, chicken with a lingonberry sauce, mac and cheese for the kids, some green stuff and a veggie lasagna for people who can't eat meat or whatever.

I volunteered to make Swedish Meatballs (thank you Alton Brown for the very simple and easy recipe!) and Glogg (spiced wine).  I went to a European Market in Peabody MA and got hooked up with salmon, roe, cheeses, sausages, lingonberry and cloudberry preserves, elderflower and lingonberry concentrate for cocktails.

One of the most beautiful things was when I came into the office last week with all the supplies that I'd bought at the European Market, one of my co-workers just burst into tears as I unpacked the stuff and began arranging it on the counter. She spent a year abroad in Germany and while Germany isn't Scandinavia, there is a lot of cultural overlap. The cheese, the rye crackers, the little sausages, more cheese.... it all kind of flooded back to her, how well cared for she was that first Christmas really far away from home. I didn't anticipate that anyone would be moved by a box of marzipan.

I printed dozens of templates for snowflakes and encouraged my co-workers to sit in the kitchen and cut them out. As evidenced here, they picked up scissors and cut out bad ass snowflakes.

We are stringing them up on tooth floss and hanging them from the beams.

I bought 4 strings of lights and other people brought even more in. I wanted our kitchen to look, and I laugh, like a snowy sweet little fairy tale or something. I wanted the concept of 'hygge' of which there isn't an English equivalent but to me it invokes a cozy and safe feeling amongst your family and friends.

I went to a little store down the south shore that sells all Swedish and Nordic goods, and bought a lovely assortment of decorations for the event. So many halla horses and Julboks. So many.

I'm going to hook the Apple Play monitor up with a video of a Yule Log burning. The lights, the little decorations, the snowflakes, the food, the booze.

I think it looks slightly amateur but also incredibly delightful (pictures to come, of course).

And above everything, I think it looks honest.

We set up a yankee swap (which I renamed Viking Pillage) and an ugly sweater contest. I actually bought myself an ugly sweater. And I cannot wait to wear it.

Tonight, I find myself building a Holiday playlist in Spotify with requests from people from my office and an over-helping of Barenaked for the Holidays, of course. Natch.

My Glogg simmers on the stove and my house smells like a sweet, sticky and strange place, filled with cardamom and wine and oranges and cloves.

Last year at this time I was baking a shit-ton of Caribbean Black Cake thinking I'd win a contest that someone would actually judge. This year? I think I've contributed quite a bit.  And while there are so many things I could have done earlier, I will be in bed before midnight this year for sure.

My husband cannot come to the party, he had gotten hornswaggled into something with our church tomorrow night. So I'm hoping I don't drink too much Aquavit and can't get myself home.  I will miss him. And I think he would love our Julfest party. I'm sad he will not be with us.

So here's what's on the agenda tomorrow:


Appetizers: three cheeses from Denmark, Sweden and Norway (goat cheese, so good). Rye crackers and plain crackers, a Swedish bread with orange tinge and cardamom, lingonberry preserves, cloudberry preserves, roe (fish eggs), Norwegian Salmon, pork and potato sausages (to be steamed in my bamboo steamer over my fondue pot, of course).

Main course: Ham, prepared Scandinavian style with a mustard and breadcrumb crust, mustard sauce, Chicken pot pie with a lingonberry sauce, beets, spinach salad with goat cheese and berries, some veggie lasagna, roasted potatoes, mac and cheese for the littles.

Cocktails: I have the Glogg (I hope it tastes as nice as it smells?) We have that bottle of Gammel Dansk that the Danes brought when they visited last year and will challenge anyone to drink it. Aquavit instead of Vodka.  I have 2 recipes for cocktails that mix the Aquavit or the bottle of Gin that I bought at a local distillery in Everett (with cardamom, lavender) that mixes either Lingonberry or Elderflower concentrate with one of the two alcohols, with a splash of soda water. I can also make non-alcoholic versions with just the soda water and the concentrate. I think I need to get sprigs of rosemary and make lemon twists up. We also have Danish and Norwegian beers.

I promised myself bed before midnight, so I ought to get to that. I just realized that I do not have a present for the Viking Pillage (oh noo!) so I may have to run into CVS tomorrow morning.

Here we go.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

No Small Task

A friend of mine was selling a couch. He moved into a condo closer to the city and when the movers brought his couch it didn't fit in any of the rooms. 96 inches long.

We measured our space and it would more than fit, we'd have another foot and a half beyond the end.

So I decided I'd buy it.

We rented a U-haul van near his house and went over to pick it up. Thankfully, it is a light-weight couch from Bob's Discount Furniture and not a sleeper sofa from Jordan's or something.

Doug and I managed to get it down the stairs successfully and into the van.

We came home and Doug, like a bull in a china shop, started pushing things around to get the gross old dead couch (missing a cushion, beat up over the years of use, we were the third family to own it),  out of the living room.

I scrambled to move the rug and pick things up that were flying all over the place. He gets like this. This "DO ALL THE THINGS!" kind of spirit, like when he painted 3/4 of our living room walls a few weeks back (wall 4 will e painted when we pic an accent color, as it is the wall where the TV is...)

But we can't get the couch out of the room.

He has no recollection of how he, Geoff and Thane got the couch in here in the first place.

We sat on the cushion-less old couch (those cushions had been thrown into the yard in his efforts of fastness) and he tried to recall how the couch got here.

He realized it probably came in through the back porch.

The back porch: Where boxes and things we didn't exactly need or want to move to the attic just ... landed. In August 2013. when we moved in.

More things have moved in there since the big move-in. So it is kind of a mess. Ugh.

And now I need to kind of make it so we can get out that way, since we cannot go out the other way.

It is a project I've been meaning to do forever. And every time I look at it I groan. You've got to be joking me. This mess? Ughhhhhhhhhhh.

Can I put more Hs on that. Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.hhhh

Last night we did some organizing and got the couch out of the van so we could return the van (which we are going to do after we watch some football.

But I gotta get out there before Mister Bull In A China Shop does and he just makes an even bigger mess out of the situation.

God help me.

I feel like I need to take a day off of work this week to do this. Let Doug and Jess head into the city and I'll stay here and crank up the tunes and just clean up.

In the meantime, dead couch is in the kitchen.

We have another couch in the living room that Doug wants to put in the front room. I'd rather have Jess take it and be done with it. When we bought our last house the previous owner left it for us since we'd have more than one room in the house that could be used as a living room and he thought we could use it. But ... It's gotta be like 20 something years old at this rate and for the past 10 we've sat the hell out of it.

We got an accent chair with the couch purchase so Doug is perched in that.

In fact, here is a picture of Liz's dog trying to get comfy in it so she can look out the window and watch for mom.

Apologies for the floor - That's not a real priority for my landlord but this room would be so nice with  beautifully refinished floors. The exposed area there is where the old couch was, and the new couch will be.

Hopefully soon.

And it just goes to show with out lives. A small thing turns into a giant super unbelievable thing. And it is complicated when all you wanted was something small and simple. A couch. that's it. But now I gotta do a billion things.

No wonder I'm so dang tired all the time.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Weenie Quartet at Weenie Hut Junior II

Jess and her friends are getting an apartment together. I refer to the friends, lovingly, as "The Weenies." It kind of stemmed from an episode of Sponge Bob Square Pants about "Weenie Hut," and I referred to their (the 3 friends) place as such. "So, you going over to the Weenie Hut today? Hang out with the Weenies?"

And then, the nickname just stuck.

The lease on the Weenie Hut ran out at the end of September. They had been actively looking for a new place but had not yet found one. The landlord didn't want to renew on a month-by-month,  so they moved out, with no particular place to go really.

One friend, Liz, came to stay with us with her big giant dog, Capri. The other 2, Sarah and Eric, have been bouncing back and forth between their parents' places.   They actively were seeing a place, and I was finding things on Craigslist and a Realtor friend of mine was pulling listings. Things were either getting rented before they could call or they were out of their price range, or, there were issues.

They ran into the usual "we do not want to rent to people like you (meaning 23/24 year olds), thanks." They encountered the "oh, you have a dog? No dogs. Thanks." They also ran into "this  is perfect but it is too expensive for us," and the alternative "this neighborhood seems a little too stabby for my liking" when things were in their price range.

I was beginning to think we'd have Liz for the winter because there aren't many rentals to be found for December move ins. And Doug and I were okay with that. Sarah and Eric really needed to find a place.  He kept bringing them to horrible apartments in complexes and in really dangerous neighborhoods just saying "this one is great! Let's get it!" But Jess and the other 2 girls weren't convinced. He was getting frustrated and they felt he was pushing them into less than ideal options just to get in a place.

But they found a place two weeks ago and signed the lease last Saturday. After all the "out of our range/too stabby/no dogs allowed places," they secured an apartment in a multi-family house about 20 minutes from us in a decent neighborhood. Convenient for Eric and Liz to get to work, a bus that can get Jess to the train station (which is only 3 miles away), dogs allowed (after negotiation). Because of Liz' work schedule, she gets home at 5:30 or 6 in the morning, so easily she could give Jess a lift to the train.

All told, it looks just right.

Keys are in hand and the kids have been there painting since Monday because carpeting gets put down today.

Geoff offered to help move. Which I thought was very sweet of him.

In all of this, I'm weirdly unemotional, as is Jess. I ask her if she's excited and she shrugs her shoulders or gets defensive about me asking questions.  Jess is probably best suited to live alone because she is really introverted at times and retreats. She would retreat from us by going to hang out for days at a time at the original Weenie Hut, and then retreat from them and come stay with us. So in the best of all worlds her own place would be ideal but affording that, even with making really decent money, isn't a reality right now. I'm interested in seeing how this all pans out. I especially want her to be happy.

She said she's not in a hurry to actually move in yet, that she wants to paint her room, get organized, purge and purchase. Make a new nest all of her own instead of the things she's had for ... 18 years or so.  I think I'm going to buy Walmart gift cards for them because Eric gets an employee discount there. The money can go farther when they shop for what they may need.

Once she is moved out we'll go and paint her bedroom, which 2 years ago she got halfway through priming and did not finish. It is true, it is easier to paint an empty room. I would like to get a nice bed for in there so guests can finally stay with us when they visit instead of having to stay somewhere else.

While we're there. Who knows where we will be a year from now.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Good grief...

I really need to relax. He'll get better at this. I swear he will. I know he will. God please let him get better at diving the car.

He just went to leave to take the dog for a walk at a local park about 5 miles away. He's in love with this new concept of freedom. That's nice. That's all fine and good. Yes.


He almost took Jess's friend Liz's front end off her car trying to back out of the driveway... I had to run out, waving my arms madly and stop him, and reposition the vehicle. Pulling out into the street he didn't accelerate fast enough so I heard a car coming up the road slam skid to a halt behind him.

Jesus, God, so help me.

If I got this kid this far in life and he gets killed pulling out of our own damn driveway I will lose my mind fully and completely.

Where is that Xanax?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Driving, and why I am a bad mom

My son got his learner's permit in February, after he was all done with the Eagle Scout project and passing the board. He is a one-task at a time kind of kid. He has to fully complete one thing before starting the  another. And now he's all set with graduating, Eagle, started college and stuff and life, he needed his license to drive to class.

We already went once to get him road tested. He didn't even get to drive. The proctor asked him to show the arm signals, you know the ones you use if your brake lights/signals are all out or if you're riding a bike.

He didn't know them.

He should know them from Boy Scouts and bike safety sessions but. He should have known them from the Blue Book that he was allegedly reading all along which has everything in it that would be on the test.

Seems he didn't recall, so he didn't even get to drive.

And my husband was kind of super pissed off, not at G but at the RMV in Massachusetts.

America, I will ask you this: When was the last time you actually saw a motorist use hand signals? Or a bicyclist in the city, or country, or anywhere that isn't a road race or rally?

Hell, most motorists don't even use their signal signals around here. This knowledge is allegedly super important enough to make it so you can't even take your road test but hell if anyone's ever going to use it. The RMV should also sit at a highway on ramp and watch how people respond to the Yield signs. Not so much.

But ... I digress.

That was the first weekend in September.

The RMV gave him the "fail sheet" circling the thing that he failed on. He now had the list of everything on the test. Which was good. Now we knew. We knew what he'd be tested on. And we commenced to working on all these things.

With the failure, we re-scheduled the next test on 10/23.

And because Doug is currently not allowed to take any time off, I had to be the one taking Geoff out to his next appointment.

Now, I'm a pretty even keeled person. I don't freak out easily. I'm not nervous. I can probably stare down a zombie apocalypse or calmly face and earthquake or flood without panic.

But put my son behind the wheel of my car and put me in the passenger's seat and I'm not so cool. I am a freaking wreck, a freak. And I think we're both going to die. And he doesn't pick up on it, I've asked him if I make him nervous, and he shook his head. So that's good... I guess.

We left early, the test was scheduled in a town about an hour away, a little longer with traffic. Oh, why didn't we get to take the test closer to home? Because the Massachusetts state RMV is a disaster, that's why. But I digress.

I handed Geoff the keys, showing that I trusted him to drive us there. He did exceptionally well but honest to God he needs to learn how to merge into traffic better and it doesn't seem like however much we go over it with him he'll ever get it.

This is why I'm nervous.

He also drives Grandma Slow, unlike any other 18 year old boy I've ever known. So people come up on him at 100 miles and hour, and he just kind of deals with it. He got passed on the right on a town road here, because the guy behind him didn't think he was going fast enough, at the speed limit. I kind of wanted to come around the bend and find the wreckage of his car wrapped around a tree but then I remembered this guy was someone's son and maybe one time his mom was super worried about his driving.

Anyway, two large construction area slow-downs and we eventually got there. I told him while we were driving along that he was doing so well I'd ride all the way to California with him driving that well. He did great. I eventually let go of the armrest on the car door that I'd been gripping to the point of white-knuckling. Sigh.

We checked at the RMV. Some woman came in with a guy she was sponsoring, and was kind of mad that you had to make an appointment to take the road test. She actually thought you just walk in there, fill out a form, and then ... go.

The proctor told us to position the car in the Road Test Only spot and wait for him. We were 20 minutes early. While we waited in the car,  I last-minute quizzed him on everything on the sheet. The proctor came out and had him do the arm signals and the safety check with the lights and the emergency brake.

"It says here you took the test once before," the man said. "What did you fail on?"

"Arm signals, sir." Geoff answered. The man smiled.

"Yes, the state does feel that is very important and we start there. So you didn't get to drive at all?"

"No sir, that is what brings us here today."

"West Newbury? How long did it take to get here?"

I answered "About 90 minutes, construction and traffic." He nodded and told me that this week he'd had people there from Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod, and he shook his head. I told him that we wanted an appointment closer to home but we took what was available first.

We departed, the proctor continued to be friendly and chatty, turning over his shoulder to talk to me. I wasn't sure if he was baiting me as I know that when you are in the back, you're not supposed to talk to anyone in the front seat.

I kept my answers to a minimum. When he asked Geoff questions, the boy's answers were cordial, and articulate.  Borderline charming while being incredibly serious.

The man asked him "So, you're 18. Are you in high school or college?" Geoff answered and let him know what he was up to. The man seemed impressed with the EMT program.

Part of me wished I'd put the "I'm proud of my Eagle Scout" sticker on the back of the car to make G look even more awesome.

"Geoff," the man asked, "are we going to have enough gas to do this test? Your gauge is on empty." Geoff answered that our gauge doesn't work so when the tripometer gets to 300 miles we refill the tank, we just have to remember to reset the counter when we do that. "We have only 168 miles on the counter so far sir, so I think we'll be fine."

The man smiled broadly and I thought, God... I love my kid and his seriousness.

The boy executed a 3 point turn flawlessly, but messed up a few other things. We started to drive back to the registry with no parallel parking so I started to think "aw crap... no. He's so gonna fail him," but he didn't.

"Geoff," he said "I'm going to pass you. But here are the things I think you need to work on, and I would recommend you spend a little more time practicing. Some of them you'll never use again, but they're important." When Geoff had to back up 100 feet in reverse, which he did perfectly, he didn't turn around and look over his shoulder. You're supposed to.

Doug had been working with him to teach him how to use his side mirrors because if he's ever driving an ambulance, he won't have the ability to turn and look over his shoulder - you can't see out that way.

I wanted to explain to the man but kept my mouth shut. Geoff did it perfectly, and I think that's all that mattered.

And like that. 10 minutes. Done. Certified. Legal.

We drove home and stopped at Wendy's for celebration lunch and I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it.

Last night when Doug got home he suggested we go out for dinner but Geoff wanted to drive out to the Chinese restaurant and pick up take-out. So we called it in and he left in the Jeep. He was gone forever and I started to panic and worry... he got pulled over, he's dead in a ditch... but he came back and said the order took forever to complete, so that's why he was late returning.

This morning I woke up at 4am in a panic because I realized he'd be driving to school today. Driving on his own. To school. In Lawrence. Once a month his program has a Saturday session, so today was the day.  Jeeeesh. Panic! Worry! Argh!

I heard him go downstairs and followed. I offered to ride shotgun since he didn't have a parking permit, and I'd bring the car back and then come get him and he'd drive again. We'd take the BMW.  Heated seats. Superior comfort. Advanced German Engineering.

He could drive, and I'd remain silent while he made his road choices because I wanted to know that he knew 100% how to get there without me telling him.

But then I looked on the school website and saw that we could register for the permit, and he could park in the lot without difficulty if he put the receipt on the dashboard.

And he left. In the Jeep. Which will become his Jeep I think. With time.

I'll be nervous until he gets home... I think it'll take me a while to get comfortable with this new reality.

He hugged me before he left, and thanked me for all the patience and support. For going with him, for quizzing him, for giving him tips and instruction, and for figuring out the parking permit thing. He never gives hugs, so I was stunned ... I happily accepted it and told him it was my pleasure.

He asked me where were good nearby but far away parks to go hike that he can drive to on his own, with Brodie.

He asked if we need him to go grocery shopping this week.

He wants to drive, and I think I'm going to have to want to let him.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Carole with an E, the 50th, and some other things

The summer swiftly vanished, didn't it?

I thought often about the neglected blog, and the fact I should be taking time to sit with the laptop and write something. I've been excessively busy, and as my last post suggested possibly very tired. Also, without much important to say.

Not sure where to start with an update but here goes.

Get the sad part out first. My aunt passed away after a very long battle with cancer. But one that she took on with gusto and bravery. In the years since her diagnosis, she managed to travel the world, dance on Bourbon Street with her husband on their 50th anniversary and make it all the way to 53. She got some great-grandchildren out of the time as her grand daughter Melissa brought two adorable little girls into the world. She began to fade fast in early August. My cousin Debi quit her job to take care of doctors and appointments and housekeeping and an email list of hundreds of people who wanted to know "what's the update with Carole?" They ordered Hospice at Home, got the hospital bed moved into what used to be her sewing room, and streams of people came to visit, organized and appointments kept by Debi.

I got to say goodbye, and we had some good laughs before someone who wasn't on the schedule showed up to visit so I cut my visit short. The look on my aunt's face was priceless. "He's already been here. What's he doing?" and the side-eye she gave me cracked me up.

You don't get to say goodbye too often, with laughing. So. I think that was indicative of our relationship. "We had some really good times and a lot of fun, didn't we?" she asked me.

You betcha. We sure did.

Her funeral was packed. So many people and great stories. Again, my cousin Debi held up the family and ran the show. When you're the only girl out of four, you gotta know how to be in control or the boys will walk all over you. She had great strength and beauty, and such dignity... and her brothers were obviously thankful for that leadership. My cousin Mike had everyone in stitches with his stories. Tommy kept it brief and beautiful. David was a man of few words but a couple laughs, kind of a direct balance between Tommy and Mike.

And my poor uncle... 53 years of Carole, and now figuring things out for himself.

As he walked away from the graveside, my cousin Mike told me he looked over his shoulder and said "I'm right behind you, babe."

That broke the kids' hearts for sure, but they understood. And. He almost got his wish.

After the funeral he did not come to the mercy meal. Debi took him home and his siblings stayed with him.  He'd had a "stomach ache" for several days but kept saying it was stress, he was nervous, worried. He would go see the doctor after this was all over with Carole. No one should worry. He'll be okay.

Nope. Debi convinced him to go to the hospital that night, and while he was being examined she sent out a thank you email to everyone on the Carole distribution list and it turned into the Jim update list right then.

He had a hernia and his intestines had gotten pinched off into the hernia area, and infected, and on the verge of bursting.

He nearly died that night - emergency surgery at 2am. Again, Debi organizing things and continuing the update emails to the followers, family and friends.

They saved his life, and he ended up spending a couple of weeks in hospital recovering, and some time in a rehab, and finally came home this week.

At one point in the email updates, Debi asked "whoever has our family voodoo dolls, can you put them away now for a little bit, thanks!"

I am so proud of her strength and resilience. Proud to count her as my family.

Around the time of my son's Eagle ceremony in April, my sister began planning a 50th anniversary party for my parents. I'm very glad she is the motivated one, because I would have said "Oh, mom and dad's anniversary is next week let's take them out to dinner or something" because I literally don't think to do things much lately.

Also, because unlike my Aunt Carole and Uncle Jim dancing in New Orleans and celebrating, or my Auntie Bea and Uncle Kenny going on a cruise with all the kids and grandkids, my parents both would shrug their shoulders and go "meh" about doing anything.

So Linda, being the smart one, knew that the only way to pull this off was to have a surprise party. She lined up the venue, did the invitations, put together the "ruse" that would get my parents to the restaurant that day with help from my Auntie Bea, and I ordered the cake and flowers.

My aunt was so looking forward to this party. With that side-eye look she said "I can't believe I am going to miss this party!" And I told her, wellllllll you can hang in there, and we'll set up a computer with Skype and you can talk to them and see the party and everything, that'll be nice. And she sot me that look. Yeah right, Chrissie. Optimist. Not gonna happen. And it didn't, of course. She passed away before the event. Sadly.

The party was a great success, we had a ton of fun, and my parents were indeed surprised and I might add kind of shocked. A ton of people from my dad's side came up from New York to celebrate with us, which completely blew my mom and dad away. My Aunt Margie and Uncle John flew out from Arizona too, which was a real blessing.

Watching the three siblings that remain out of four (my uncle Herbie lives in Florida and cannot travel) it was very amusing to see all the childhood left-over behaviors like eye rolls and arm smacks when someone says something naughty.

So after the loss on one side of the family, having the other side swing back around to party with us was a real loving boost to all.

We rented rooms at a hotel a couple towns away from their house in Plymouth, MA, and spent Saturday night by the ocean, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, children and my parents talking and shooting the shit, having a laugh riot. The only thing missing was a bonfire in the middle of the circle.

At one point my dad was just walking around the hotel patio looking kind of stunned. I went over to him to ask if he was okay because, you know, with the last incident with my Uncle I kind of was afraid maybe after all the excitement there was something medically wrong. He was indeed just kind of stunned.

He said to me, "I can't believe you guys did this. We don't deserve this."

"What the hell do you mean, "we don't deserve this," dad?"

"We just... we don't really," he mumbled and wiped his nose and stared out into the darkness at the ocean.

My parents have had 50 years of marriage filled with the usual ups and downs, obviously. It was not a cake walk or a bed of roses. There wasn't a lot of joy between them. At one point, I think I was in high school, I said to my mom that it would just be better if they split up and just got it over with. She was furious with me. And I couldn't wait to leave for college and get away.

I didn't have the best role models for husband and wife, for sure. But it isn't about me.  They had each other. And as I left, as Linda eventually left... the animosity between them was a lot lessened. Because in the end, they had each other. When they moved up here to Massachusetts, they started new with new friends and new challenges. My dad has been in and out of the hospital and my mom has turned into Nurse Shirley organizing all of the medications and appointments.

There is a real deep co-dependency there, and sometimes yeah... I guess you can call it love. It's got to be love. Right?

And when my dad was standing there telling me that he felt like they didn't deserve a party, I think I instantly knew what he meant. I told him to shut up, that they did the best they could. I didn't say that this was a "survival" celebration, that you survived each other this long... but maybe that is what it is.

Contrats to B&S on your survival.

approx 1965
at my wedding, 1991

Geoff has been taking his classes for EMT and is doing well. He still needs to pass his road test so that is a slight challenge. He'll hopefully have that done in two weeks. Jess and her friends are looking for an apartment together, which is nice. I hope they find something they like and it is a good arrangement. She makes twice as much a week as they all do, so I am a little worried about her paying more than her "fair" share as it were, but that's not my business. I think about how people take care of me when they have more money than I do, and I take care of others when I have more money than they do, and in the end as long as we're all taking care of each other it's all good. No one should keep score. 

We were thinking of moving but I think we'll stay the winter here. Wood is ordered for delivery next week, and the wood stove cleaner comes in two weeks. We'll hunker down and last. 

I guess that is about it. Nothing else more exciting to report of great interest. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

sweet mysteries of life...

I drag my ass out of bed to leave for work at about 6:15am. I ride home exhausted, ready to fall asleep upon walking in the door. Then, dinner is always nice. And now it is 10pm and I'm wide freaking awake and unable to fall asleep.

Probably, I guess, I'll be awake until midnight and the glorious cycle will begin again.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Adulting is Hard

My son got let go from his part time job. There were a number of issues. A lot of it is based in his learning disability. And what looked like the absolute perfect match of a job (and it started out that way) seems to not be the absolute perfect match of a job.

He works with a job coach at his high school, and the person who runs where he was working had a list of issues. I talked those through with the Boy and I thought he'd be able to go back to work on Friday ready and corrected. She emailed me this afternoon to say she didn't think this was the right job for him, and that she can't provide constant supervision for him. So she was deciding to let him go.

I'm incredibly sad for him. And he is very disappointed, and feels that he could have done better for her. I think communication was an issue but she claims her staff was very communicative with him (thing is, he's not so... they can be perfect and he'll still miss the details).

So he worked for 5 months there, and I'm hoping she'll be good and kind and provide him a reference. That's all you can ask for.

Kind of feel like I have to job coach him, life coach him, all the time. And I don't know if it is part of his learning disability or the fact he is 18 that gets in the way. But man. Adulting is hard. I am still learning for myself that adulting is hard. And I'm watching it be hard for him too and it isn't fun.

My co-worker and I talked about it and she said that at age 22 she was just recovering from completely ruining her life. She said that  he's not ruined, he'll recover, he's got support. At least he's got that going for him.

And there was a news report recently of a young man who had threatened to blow up a local college and kill police officers for ISIL, and his dad turned him in. Doug said to me "so yeah, I guess it could be worse?"

I'm just bummed because he seemed incredibly happy and in the groove. Seemed is the operative term.

So while he was losing his job we got him enrolled in EMT classes for the fall. The more I think of it, the more I'm not even sure this is the right career choice for him. If he couldn't listen and follow instructions at a doggie day care, how is he going to work for an ambulance company. But this is what he wants to do, and I'm hoping it works out, if nothing else that he passes the course, gets his license and then either works at this or gets a job with the forest service as a ranger with extra skills.

I don't know. Adulting is so freaking hard.

Monday, July 13, 2015

the opening of a tiny vent

Dear Person,

Thank you for your followup on the issue that you submitted recently. I told you in the response that this was indeed a problem, and our team would look into it. I also said that as soon as I had an answer I'd get back to you. The fact that I haven't gotten back to you does not mean I don't care, or that we're not working on it. We just don't have a report for you just now. Yes, yes, I do know your request is very important. Of course it is. I value that. But to be honest, our team has a lot going on. And they're working on multiple issues. And yours is on the list. As mentioned earlier, as soon as I have an update for you I will let you know. You'll be the first to know. Please stop asking once a week. Stop. I won't reply if you ask again next Monday.  And then you'll have to wonder, did she die? No, no I didn't (I would say if you were to ask next Monday if I'm dead) you drove me nuts and I decided not to play this little update-you game. Just be patient, find something else to do with your time, and watch your email for a posted update when the situation is resolved.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Best always,

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

bad dream

I had a dream last night where a friend came over to our house for a campfire, and complained the whole time. This friend was smoking and yelling and carrying on, and complaining about the mosquitoes.

My neighbors were there, stunned at the behavior and wondering about the company I keep.

To stop the problem, I sprayed bug spray all over my friend, head to toe, in spite of multiple objections. Then I wrapped my friend in a roll of plastic wrap from the kitchen, tightly, assuring that this will keep all mosquitoes off.

Then, I set the person on fire with a Tiki torch and liquid bug repellent goo that goes in the torch.

My friend tried to get away, falling, flailing, screaming, engulfed. Dead. I sat and drank my beer and read my book. It was very quiet.

I woke up this morning with bug bites all over my feet.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

All men must die. And women too, I guess...

Death was busy in the past week or so.

My friend passed away, the one I stayed with on a long Saturday night recently.  And in typical me fashion, I missed seeing her before she went by about 45 minutes.

She was moved into a skilled nursing facility, thankfully, about a week and a half after I stayed with her. 3 days later, she passed on.

I was on my way to see her when she died.  I was disappointed that I didn't make it over to her after work the night before, as my plan was initially. And of course I kicked myself because I had every chance in the world over those three days, but I wasn't sure what the hours were that I could visit in the evenings and I was reluctant to find out. Saturday is always a better day. And of course, I laughed at myself. Because isn't that just like me to end up doing that.

I am honored to have had several days of time with her close to the end here. I met another friend who was headed that way and headed him off at the pass. We had coffee and talked for a good long whie.  51 years old, and 8 years of battling her cancer were finally over. But not without a hell of a good fight.

Well done, Good and Faithful Servant.

A lady from our church passed away the same day. This came as somewhat of a surprise.

Doug was her deacon, and he would visit after church when we went (which wasn't every week, but...) he would always make it a point to bring her the bulletin and any news. And on Wednesdays we'd get a nice thank you note in the mail. It always warmed my heart that she wrote thank you notes for a piece of paper and a five minute visit.

She was a lifelong resident of Newbury, MA, and lived in a sweet little house beside a cemetery and across the street from a church she'd attended since childhood. When that church changed philosophy (went from a "Christian" church to an "Earth Centered Kind Of Hippie Worship Church Which Didn't Mention Jesus") she started going to our church. It broke her heart to leave her church, but everyone loved her at our church and we all took good care of her.

Last year she moved into a nursing facility, with a gorgeous view and a giant solarium, giving up her little three bedroom historical house in Newbury MA and her lifetime of memories. It never felt like it suited her.

At the assisted living facility she often expressed how disappointing it was not to be in her house. Sure, they were nice. Sure, they took care of her needs. But she missed her house, and her things, and she wore a slight hang-dog expression when she'd gesture around the small room at her bed, her recliner, her bureau and the small bathroom.

Not quite the same.

The last time we saw her was a couple Sundays ago, and she had some complications medically, which she didn't want to discuss because it "wasn't lady-like" (she was very much the lady) but she did shrug and say "oh I may as well tell you..." I won't share it here with you, because you don't need to know.

She was fully dressed, coordinated, shod, perfectly groomed, and was waiting for her niece and grand-niece to come visit for the family reunion. I hope they were able to transport her there comfortably, and I hope she had a good time.

I didn't get the chance to ask her how it was.

Her funeral was on Wednesday morning June 17th, and Doug went representing us while I packed us up and got us organized for a trip west.

Mildred, "Middie," Grandma
Doug's grandmother passed away on Tuesday June 16th. Doug's sister had emailed me in the morning saying that she didn't think Grandma would make it much longer.

She was 97.

Over the past five or so years, every time we went to see her she'd cry as we were leaving and say "This is the last time I'll get to see you..." and I'd say, "oh Middie, you're talking foolish. We'll see you soon."

This is my biggest regret - that we didn't make it out there in quite a while to go and visit. I think it had been close to two years. But time flies and I can't quite remember.

I found out she and I have the same middle name, and I said to Doug "why didn't you ever tell me that her middle name was Louise?" And he looked at me and said "I suppose I didn't know that."

We stayed the weekend and helped clean out her room. A tiny little space that was packed with tons of things. Different than Janet's room at her facility, which was sparsely decorated and didn't seem to have a lot of things, Middie's room had tons of stuff in it. She had so much clothing. I took a Russian style faux fur winter hat that I'll wear with pride, and a dozen very fragile looking handkerchiefs. Doug and Jess laid claim to the weiner dog figurines. Grandma loved Dachshunds very much. When she moved into the assisted living facility, Jess got quite a few of the figures and cherishes them greatly.

She liked angels too, and people bought her angels. Bonnie kept trying to get us to take one, and to be honest I'm kind of creeped out by them. Now I kind of regret not taking one or two, just because they were hers, and she cherished them greatly.

I should cherish them greatly, because of her love. But I just couldn't.

There were these frog pictures that were in her bathroom for a million years. I remember seeing them in her house bathroom at the first place (the last house before the next two senior residences and the nursing home) where I met her. I kind of wanted them. But Doug didn't.

I laughed and said "come on, you want these! You took baths under these when you were like four! This is a big part of your history!" But he shook his head and quoted "A Mighty Fortress is our God" with the single line "let goods and kindred go."


Additionally, my friend Robin's mom died very unexpectedly. One day, she was at the playground with the grand children, playing on the swings and climbing the jungle gym. The following morning, she didn't wake up.

Robin said "I want that to be me. I want the last day I am on Earth to be a day where I'm playing and doing wonderful and fun things." How cool is that? Especially if you are 88.

So a lot of different deaths, and all of them women. Some deep in my life and some on the periphery. Long battles and short surprising ones. All told, Doug's stolen line from Martin Luther rings hard and true. But I wish I took those frogs.

Friday, June 12, 2015

"Please don't grow up..."

September 1997, Plum Island, Newburyport, MA, the United States of America, Continent of North America, Western Hemisphere, the Earth, the Solar System, the Universe, the Mind of God. 

I have a lot of friends who have very young children. Heck, I have friends who are grandparents. Let that sink in for you folks... people my age have grandbabies. It boggles my mind.

But I'm alright with the progression of time. I truly am. I embrace it as part of who we are, and want to love every moment of this walk.

Some of my friends, they are not willing to march along with the second hand.

On the social media scene, folks with the wee ones are often posting pictures of the kids and saying "Please stop growing!"
"Don't grow up!"
"Stay this way forever for me!"

and the like. I find it distressing. I hold my tongue, because I know what they are saying - they love their babies. They love their little ones. They cherish the cute, the small, the new adventures every day. They want to stop time. Freeze this moment.

How many songs are there about "Time in a Bottle," and holding back the hands of time. It is a truly romantic ideal. And when you're staring into the big googley eyes of your little one, with drool on their chin and banana in their hair and they smile that giant two-toothed grin at you, you kind of die, right there.

And you don't want to move along, ever.

But it frightens me, you know why?

If you want a baby, or a toddler, or a young boy, or pre-tween girl to stop growing, stop aging, you're basically saying "die now." And I'm not kidding when I say that. That is what you're saying.

Don't progress past this point, don't grow, don't learn, don't change, don't learn to back-sass, don't learn to apologize and accept responsibility. Don't.

Cease your development, because I like you this way.

And the parents, if I were to say this to them would back track hard and say "no no no no no no that isn't at all what I mean!"  I know. But it kind of is. And they need to stop saying that.

Instead, I want to offer an alternative. I want parents to say this.

"Grow up to be amazing, as amazing as you are right now!"
"Be the greatest man you can be when you're big!"
"Can't wait to see what you are like in 5 years!"
"Keep going! You are making me so proud!"

When I look at that picture up there, before we had a diagnosis for Geoff for Nonverbal Learning Disorder, before they both did Shakespeare in the Park, before Jess needed back surgery, before Boy Scouts, Camping, Theater at high school, that's a pretty special little point in time there and one would think "wow. I want to keep these precious babies just like this."

And to be honest, I don't think I ever said or felt that even once.

As a parent, instead my mind was on now, today, and points beyond today. My mind then, with Geoff eating sand and throwing it in the air (I think almost immediately after this was taken he got sand in Jess' hair and she pushed him over) was on what they were going to be, when Geoff would walk, would Jess like to bike ride and hike (no, and yes). I never once imagined Geoff would join Cub Scouts, and stick with it all the way to the end. I never imagined at all that Jess would be mini-me with her sense of humor or everything she likes and loves (well, yeah, I hoped it).

I want parents to look at their babies and say "I love the grown up you will be." And then make them be that grown up.

Train them, teach them, guide them, support them, live as a wonderful example to them even when you make mistakes.

And then when they grow up and they plan on their own wedding, something like this may end up at your seat at the rehearsal dinner.

This image is stolen from my friend Maria who is currently Facebook posting gorgeous pictures from her son's wedding weekend and cracking everyone up. 

Looks like Maria did exactly what I hope parents will do.

I know I enjoyed them small. I bet Maria did too. But let me tell you, when you're a grown up and you watch your grown up "baby" do amazing things, the world moves. You see that small Cub Scout, or you see the little leaguer, or the girl in the t-shirt and overalls trying to ride the bike, and you say...

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

She's got a way about her...

Last night as he was leaving, my father in law hugged me and had tears in his eyes. He said "I just want to say..." and he looked away, "you've got an air about you."

I smelled my armpits and told him I'd be more careful with the roll on antiperspirant in the future.

He kind of laughed and said, "no. I mean, with people. You have something. Watching you talk to people at the graduation and then the neighbor kids in the yard and playing with them with the dog. You just make people feel so comfortable. Those kids wanted to tell you everything they think and know. And your neighbors coming over to see you. You just have something."

Never have I received a bigger compliment.

He left and I went upstairs to get ready for bed. I've always loved my father in law. He's a character. And I adore spending time with him. I told Doug what he said and he agreed, "it is one of the things I love most about who you are."

Anyway. I want to always be that person, that my Father in law talks about me being.

It was hard not to cry myself to sleep.

In other news... My son graduated from High School this weekend. That's the only other big important thing that has happened lately.

Some of you (3 maybe) have followed his tales through this blog and other places over the years. This is a special moment. I never doubted he'd graduate. But it was a long road to get here, wasn't it?

I talked to the parents of a girl who used to sit next to Geoff in first grade and my fondest memory of their daughter was how helpful and loving she was with Geoff because he had no concept of boundaries. The end of my desk is the beginning of yours and I should not put my stuff on your desk? What? Watching all these kids, some of them he was close to back in the day and others who he is close to now, walk across the stage and take their place as No Longer High Schoolers in this world.

The Eagle ceremony was the "big" event. But this was super nice. And look. He smiled for a picture.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Doggie Heatstroke

Yesterday, Geoff took Brodie for a long walk. He has taken her on this walk many times, but for some reason, yesterday was not a good day. It wasn't really that hot, but she started to struggle. About a half mile from the house she just laid down by the side of the road panting hard and fast, her eyes bloodshot red, and she wouldn't get up. He tried to coax her up... and started to dial my number on his phone.  He didn't quite know what to do. 

A woman had passed him, and turned around, came back and offered him a ride. Now, most kids might say no - I'm calling my mom, but Geoff agreed. She was half his size, no possibility that she was looking to abduct him or hurt him. She opened up her hatchback and Geoff lifted Brodie in. They were at the house in a matter of minutes and Doug began hosing her down with the garden hose. 

Bringing her inside, she laid down on the rug and was just not doing well. I got to google the heat stroke first aid and we figured she needed to be put in the tub after we took her temperature and it was 105 degrees.

Cool water in the tub for her to be in, and cups of water poured over her head. Eventually she started drinking the water too, which was a good sign. 

We got her out of the tub and she stumbled around drunk-like. She flopped down on the floor on the shower curtain (which Geoff had dramatically torn off the wall to get the tub accessible. I had to laugh - dude. Shower curtain moves to the end of the tub but ... whatever). 

We let her sleep on the floor for a while, checking in on her. Doug put the air conditioner in the window in our room, and brought her in the bedroom with him. 

For the rest of the day, she walked around with her tail between her legs looking like she thought she did something wrong. I felt awful for her, and then coming here to my friend's house all I can think of is how Brodie is doing... 

Can't wait to get home to see her. 

Long Night

It was a long night for everyone...

A couple of years ago I reconnected with a college friend on the Facebooks, you know, like you do.

My friend has advanced cancer of the colon and I think the liver. She vanished from Facebook for over a year and a lot of people on a regular basis were calling out to her ... are you there? hello? anyone? can someone get us an update?

She updated us that she was in and out of hospitals, receiving treatment. but nothing was working. I got a text from her one day saying she was in the hospital, she wanted to see me. So I went.

She is in great need of 24 hour care but only gets partial care. I won't go into what she has to do on a regular basis, but she's incredibly uncomfortable and just really wants to be admitted to hospice and finish this life.

Hospice cannot admit her, she's not at "that point" yet. She was not receiving the kind of care she wanted from one hospital so she went to another hospital, not for more treatment but just to try and get relief from her pain and discomfort. The second opinion from the other hospital resulted in the decision that she needed a surgical procedure to try and widen her colon to allow her to more successfully go to the bathroom. That procedure was done last week and she came home from the hospital yesterday morning. She asked me to come be with her on the overnight. I had told her I could be available on the weekends to help her out and I think she heard "I can stay every weekend."

She was in a panic when I told her that I wasn't sure that I could come, so I came. I spent the night here... came without real hesitation but I'm sure that she should not be home alone. Part of me is incredibly worried and upset - there isn't 24 hour coverage for her and I can't do this every weekend. I have no idea how long she will live... it could be 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years?

Anyway - I brought my laptop and did some work for work. My other laptop for the job that I don't really have anymore that I'm helping with got a virus so my friend is clearing it up for me. I have to pick that up today.

I got a horrible night's sleep, not because of my friend but because of her neighbors. She lives in a beautiful old one-story ranch house with a mother in law apartment tacked on the back - one room, kitchen, bathroom, private entrance, parking on its own.

The people who live in the big house have a room butt up against this one where they watch TV. I can see the kitchen and living room from here - it is an L shaped house, and the lights were all blazing, the tv was turned up all the way, and a 2 hour infomercial for classics of American Country Music from the 60s and 70s was in full force.

Dear God. Two hours!

I had turned the air conditioner off so I could hear her if she got up or needed me.  I didn't realize how good the AC was at drowning them out next-door until I stood here in the dwindling cool and the silence.

My friend took meds at 11pm and told me she needed to take the round of pain medication again in 3 hours. 3 hours later, with Johnny Cash blaring through the wall, I went in to see her. She told me she could skip the pain meds for another hour or two, so I set an alarm for 4:30am to go check on her. The people in the next room started having a fight about something. I just wanted desperately to pound on the wall and scream, but I don't know them, and I didn't want to get my friend in trouble here. Which also is part of the reason why I think she wants to go to Hospice.

The yelling stopped, I dozed, the sky started to lighten, my friend needed medication so I hooked her up and we went back to sleep. Pouring rain began so I closed the windows and listened to the birds, the rain, the crickets, with the one open window so I didn't suffocate (it is super hot in here).

My friend woke up at about 7:30 and called my cell because I was so deeply asleep that I didn't hear her call me from the next room. We did her pain pills and I made her a hard boiled egg and she ate it with some yogurt and tea. We sat together quietly for 2 hours.

The hospice nurse came to the house and knocked on their front door at about 9:30am. POUNDED on it. I think the neighbors are all still sound asleep, so I sat here laughing. Ha ha. That's what you get for keeping me awake until 3am!

I need to leave here at 11, and the next person does not come until 2pm so I am feeling horribly guilty and sad. I don't want to leave her alone here. She doesn't really like the guy who is coming, and it is kind of hard to watch her treat him. He's trying hard and she doesn't appreciate it. He is, admittedly, a little annoying and I bet I'd be annoyed if he was here trying to take care of me.

It's hard - I asked her where her family was. They live an hour away but her dad is ill, and a recluse, and doesn't ever leave the house. Her mom can't drive or travel. Her brother lives an hour beyond them and I guess hasn't made a huge effort to be of assistance.

I'm sitting in the living room while the Hospice nurse is doing her second round of paperwork. Turns out she was on the list, and receiving Hospice at Home for a week or so, but the procedure she had done this week actually kicked her out of Hospice eligibility ... so yesterday she called them and unleashed. So the nurse is here. Doing her intake over again. Doug explained to me that in a six month period you can only go through intake to Hospice twice, so ... this would be her second. And you can only be on Hospice for six months. I hate to say it, I really hate to say it, because I love my friend but ... I hope this sticks, and I hope someone sees that she really needs to be in patient somewhere. I don't think this is fair to her.

Meanwhile, in the living room here I'm surrounded by tons of stuff. She has a ton of things, stuff, boxes, gifts clothes, some sort of a wooden barrel with blankets in it. Styrofoam ice boxes. There is a ton of stuff in here. And I can't imagine who takes care of this when she's gone. It's only one room. I think that when she goes into in patient care or she passes away, that's when everyone will show up to help. All the people who don't stay over. I just have a feeling. I don't want any of her things.

So I'm okay being here for her. I don't know for how long. I would love if she was able to move into a skilled nursing facility or something but ... she's here. We'll see what happens next.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Running into the Former Co-workers

The first contract that I worked down this way in Boston was at a travel agency, working on their websites. It was before the whole hospitalization wackiness, and when I lost that contract I was sad. 

I really liked my co-workers. One specifically, technically my boss, Andrew. What a nice guy. Super laid back, I think he was from Georgia, great sense of humor. And he'd come to me and say "Hey. I'm in a pickle. I need your help." 

And I'd say "Please tell me about your pickle." He'd laugh. I'd laugh. And he'd tell me about his pickle. 

The pickles usually were about incorrect data on the website. Someone gave wrong descriptions of trips and then someone from legal or "upstairs" would notice and heads would roll and screaming commence, so Andrew would run down and have me fix it. Or once the developers built some module where the price and percentage of savings were entered, and the system would just do the math, so that later if 20% became 25%... no one had to think about it. But the math thing was wrong. And 159 trip packages all needed fixed now. Because customers were doing the math and coming back with arguments. 

Very important pickles. And they always seemed to happen at 4:30pm. Sometimes on Fridays. 

I had coffee with him last fall, and they'd moved him into a new position doing analytics and performance stuff. He was distracted the whole time by his phone, emails and texts, and I was disappointed because I wanted to sit and talk to him like people, without other people butting in. I asked if he was in a pickle and he pretty much said yeah... so I told him to go find someone to get him out of it. 

Yesterday I was out for a walk around 2pm. I was meeting another friend for late lunch, and he was walking down the street toward me. It was wonderful to see his smile, and we stood and chatted on the street for a bit. I gave him the elevator speech about the contract end and the real job starting, and how our office moved and we're all the way down there (I pointed) now. 

He told me he missed me, and no one could get him out of pickles as well as I could. 

Friday, May 01, 2015

Concepts of Oversharing

On Facebook, I have an acquaintance (someone from my town, her son used to be in Boy Scouts so I'm friends with most of the moms who have gone through the program). She has several kids from a couple different marriages. Some of those kids are adults now, older than my own. She posts stuff about them, how difficult they are, how they say and do things that upset her. I know a lot of people do this... but ... I always notice that her posts are public posts and that these adult children are on her friends list.

So they can read her badmouthing them. Which is unfortunate. She does the same thing with her husband's family, and goes on and on and on about how they treat her. And they are public posts, which anyone can see if they look. I pointed that out to her once and she actually told me to mind my business. Okay. Just trying to give you some helpful advice, and I'm not surprised that they respond to you the way you describe if you don't care what you post in a public forum. "It's my wall," she says. Yeah, but you're broadcasting like an FM station with 700,000 watts across a major metropolitan area. But... carry on.

Recently, one of her kids (one of the adult kids) had a medical emergency. A cancer scare. She posted to the TOWN page all about his medical situation. She didn't just post it publicly on her personal page, she went to the town gossip/news/gripe page...

She was asking for prayer, which is something I am okay with.  When people do it on their own walls, and it is a friends only post.

Instead of posting something, discreet shall we say, she posted long detailed descriptions of his pre-diagnosis.  She included a direct link to his Facebook profile, and encouraged people in town to send him messages of support.

I sat there reading, cringing, thinking "Oh I would kill my mom for posting this..." I read on in horror as hundreds of comments flowed in on her post with support, emojis of fingers pointing up (I guess that's... something like prayer) and weird hearts and angels and gifs of prayers (oh, MySpace...) from people all over town.

A follow up post said something along the lines that her son took his Facebook profile down, "probably because he was depressed..." she theorized.  No, probably because you unleashed the hounds of town onto him to send him unsolicited messages of love and support. And I bet you a million dollars that was something he didn't appreciate.

She just posted another update to the town page about how his surgery went well, and he was recovering, and thank you everyone for support... again, all sorts of responses about how that is great and wonderful.

And I am thinking "Am I the only one who thinks that she's way out of line? Am I the only one who finds this a horrible overstep in their relationship?" I mentioned something to a friend of mine in town in an email about how uncomfortable this family drama unfolding on the page was making me, and she agreed fully about the hot bag of nuts this is... and I asked "well, should we politely point out that ... it's not cool?" And my friend said "No way. I'm waiting for her kid to say something... pull up a seat and dig into the popcorn..."

But then I think about this blog. Is it any different here? I've way overshared on my kids here before, and while they were very young, without the ability to respond or confront me if they think I'm wrong... And I think that while I was blogging here and being open and honest, if they went back and read some of this very "secret public journal" content (hat tip to Mike Birbiglia) they may be offended or aghast. Heck, I may be offended or aghast at some of my feelings and responses to situations at the time.

I kind of feel that it is good to self-censor, that over sharing (especially someone else's story) is uncalled for. I think before I point out that I think that someone else is not using social media correctly I should think about my paths through the tech.

And maybe just blog about dogs that are cool.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Momming all over it

I love my kids, and I love being their mom. I always thought I'd have more of a relationship with Jess where she'd talk to me about "stuff" but she's completely closed off from me more often than not. Getting her to talk to me makes her defensive, and I'm not sure why. Then I thought about it and realized I was often the same way with my mom.  So I look at this relationship with slight longing, but knowledge that yeah ... if she needs me she'll let me know and I have to just let that be, rather than make her feel uncomfortable.

Geoff wanted to look at a local community college last week, even though we don't have money for him to go to school. He knows this, but signed up for the tour anyway, and I didn't want to squash his dreams. We talked realistically about money, and I told him I was proud of him for looking at community colleges instead of ... Harvard. While we toured, with about 20 other parents and kids, I let him walk on his own, and I positioned myself in different places. He and I made eye contact and nodded, or raised an eyebrow when the guide told us things of interest. Afterwards I told him that I gave him that space on purpose, so that I didn't make him uncomfortable. He liked that and indirectly quoted Bart Simpson and told me that he appreciated that I didn't "Mom all over it." He noticed many of the parents were incredibly bossy or "guidey" with their kids, and he liked being on his own.

In fact, it was great to see him smiling as he walked around the campus. He told me "I can see myself going here." And that made me happy. I texted Doug while we were touring and told him that Geoff's smile alone made me want to see this happen for him.

When we dropped Jess off at college, she was confrontational, rude, and disrespectful to us. And it really pissed me off. What I didn't realize was that she didn't really want to be there. Academically, I knew she had the chops to do it, but ... she didn't want it. When we toured Buffalo, Pitt and Syracuse, I should have listened to her social cues. But I didn't. And she went for, as Ben Folds sings "three sad semesters," and dropped out and came home.

So it is different seeing Geoff wanting this, and being excited about it. I wanted Jess, and still do want her, to get a degree. She's the "smart one," I was willing to sink all the money into her that I could but she didn't want to do it.  Geoff, however, is the motivated one, and I think steering him towards something he can do vocationally, something he can do while working (and finding him a job to do while he's going to school) is a worthy goal.

One of the reasons I changed jobs was to bring in more income. I was perfectly happy in the other job with the short commute, and was getting super comfortable with the work and the people and the projects (more on these thoughts later). Being able to write a check to the local community college for Geoff over the next couple of years will be a big undertaking since we won't get any loans, we don't qualify for financial aid, and he's probably not going to receive any grants or scholarships (we're starting to apply for those).  I knew that in order to get him going we'd need more money. And ...  here we are.

Hopefully I'll be able to say to Jess "Do you want to take a class? We have the money now. Pick something, I'm more than happy to pay for it." And we'll see what happens. But... I'll do it without momming all over it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

And about Marcia

I keep thinking about Marcia, not just yesterday's Marcia but Marcia through all the years.

Doug and I have always felt that she simply has something in her makeup that no one else we know has.

She is funny, smart, down to earth, brave, unruffled, filled with amazing common sense and a kind of spirit that is just overall difficult to define. If this were the Oregon Trail, she'd be there with the wagon, a baby on her hip, leading the horse, instructing the boys how to find food, dealing with the daughter who just got her period in the wilderness, trying to come up with a plan for dinner, and maintaining a calm collected spirit. She'd be teaching them to love God, obey her and dad, but still have fun somehow. She'd be teaching them to read and what plants are poisonous. All while her husband is sick in the wagon.

Marcia is somehow like no one else I've run across in life as a human being.

When Wayne was dying, she cried, she wasn't stoic or emotionally distant. Don't get this picture in your mind of someone who was just perfect and unruffled and nonplussed. There was sadness expressed, there was difficulty for sure. A lot of tears. But she was also so present in the moment, wiping his brow with a cold facecloth, talking to him and letting him know who was there. She kissed his forehead and cheeks. She told him that she was going to miss him so much. She attended to the children's questions and needs. She encouraged them to come hold daddy's hand and be there, and if they didn't want to - she didn't pressure them. She never once lost it with them.

And then we cracked jokes, had some laughs, got some more tears all mixed in there.

As Wayne was dying, at the very end in those last 15 minutes or so, she didn't ask anyone to leave the room, go away... I know a lot of people would. She told me he would have wanted us all to be there if he could tell us. She knew her husband, knew his wishes, knew exactly the person he was. And she abided by that so beautifully. 

As you and God are my witnesses, I swear... please allow me in this universe to be a small portion as strong as this woman was on that day in anything I can come up against. Let me keep my cool. Let me assess and reflect, not attack and react. Let me release selfishness and embrace some selflessness. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The greatest of these is love

Yesterday, my good friend Wayne died.

Sunday night at about 10pm he passed out in his bathroom, his wife is a physical therapist and is well trained in medical response, so she tried to revive him. He was completely unresponsive. He suffered a bleed in his brain stem. Surgery was not an option. He was fully unresponsive. He never regained consciousness.

She and her son used Facebook to get the word out to friends. So this was really weird, it was the first experience I had with Facebook being the method of communication for people sharing this kind of experience.

I woke up in the morning on Monday and while drinking my morning coffee checked in on the news feed and got the report. I called Doug who was on his way to a meeting, and let him know he should come home as soon as the meeting was over.

We were by Wayne's side by 2:30pm. And he was gone 3 hours later.

He was surrounded, about 20 people were in the room... we told stories, we laughed, cried and prayed. Laurel sang and forgot the words. But it was okay because it was pretty. And he would have laughed.

Wayne and Marcia have six kids. I've written about them here before, we have spent many fun days with them. This was not something I expected we'd all be doing on the first really super spectacularly beautiful day of the year... but there we were, saying goodbye. Suddenly.

It was surreal. Watching the numbers on the monitor. The beeping, the sounds. Every breath he took with the assisted device was a struggle. And then it was over.

When I got to the hospital, I got a sharpie from the computer in his room, and wrote a heart on each of the kids' hands. And I put one on my own. I wanted to put one on everyone. I wanted them to have a mark to be reminded when they left there that "the greatest of these is love..." Natalie took the above picture for me this morning. And I hope they remember always that they have each other, from age 20 to 7 down the line.

A friend of mine had said that as Christians we believe in heaven, we'll see him again. Death has lost its sting, but no ... it really hasn't. I rejoice in his faith and the fact we believe we will be together again. What I mourn is the now. The future events he will be notably missing from. The fact that while I'm here, I won't have him to joke around with.  And that I really didn't do enough joking around with him this last year.

So if you have a friend that you say "you know, we really should get together sometime," why don't you go ahead and set that up. Life is short, kids. And it gets shorter all the time.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Newburyport Walk

In about 2 weeks from now I'll be back in the Seaport in Boston. I'm having a hard time really grasping that.

On my last contract and the contract before that, going back to early 2013, the offices I was working in were in the heart of things. Not too far from South Station, near the courthouse, off Congress. In December the office I was in moved and we landed a bit further down towards South Boston, down A Street. I feel like that took us out of the heart of things. Not as many great places to go grab a quick coffee, or lunch to go.

The new office is forever away from anything quick and tasty. There are a couple of nice bars/restaurants, but not your grab a sandwich and be on your way to sit by the channel kinds of spaces. I really liked being right off Congress Street and Seaport Boulevard. There were so many options... The Metro, Bee's Knees, Flour, and then the wonderful Bon Me brick & mortar cafe opened up right before my contract ended. Not to mention the food trucks. Oh, the food trucks. And just the nice walkies, the park, the canal, the Children's Museum. I greatly enjoyed being over there. I'm not in love with the new neighborhood.

Working in Newburyport for the past several weeks, I was waiting for it to get warmer and nicer. March has just been a wasteland and so far April is not shaping up for early spring goodness.   The worst winter in the history of the universe has left the sidewalks impassable in many places, so getting out for a walk to one of the many sandwich shops was not happening.

I brought my lunch just about every day. There have been only a handful of dayswhere I ventured outside.

Yesterday was one of them. It was cold, but I needed to get out of here and get a walk in. I have had a horrible cold, and going to the gym has not been on my agenda, sleep has. So ... I went for a stroll around town, walking up the bullnose past my favorite usual sandwich shop. I wasn't ready to sit down and eat just yet. I ventured past Jewel in the Crown and thought about a giant Tandoori Chicken lunch. I was starting to get hungry, but I kept going.

I ended up at 17 State Street cafe. It used to be the newspaper stand and kind of a sandwich shop called Fowles. People still call it Fowles. When I told my co-worker where I had lunch, she had no idea what I meant when I said 17 State, but ... I corrected myself and she knew. My girl C and I meet there for breakfast some mornings. They do a great job, if you're ever in the market for a meal.

The burger was delicious, the place was packed, even though it was on the very late end of the lunch shift. I read the paper and thought to myself... this is what I was hoping for being in this town and having lunch.

I'm on the verge of regret when I think about going back to the office in the city that doesn't have any really good choices for a meal. I can walk out my door here and in a few steps be at about six great sandwich shops, a bagel shop, several bakeries, Thai, Indian, Chinese, Italian, Mexican... pizza. without breaking a sweat.

I think it is my fault the weather has been so crummy. I'm being prevented from falling a little too much in love with where I am geographically, so I can make the transition back to Boston.

Today is not a walk-around day. It is snowing/raining/something, about 30 degrees. Cold, windy, horrible. I'm happy I brought leftovers. But I'm hoping tomorrow is a good go out for a walk and eats kind of day. And certainly I hope next week will be as well. We shall see.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

What's done is done, and cannot be undone

I gave my notice at work on Friday. I felt really anxious and horrible about it. My former future boss told me not to give notice until I had the offer letter in my email, and I wanted to give at least 2 weeks notice, so on Thursday morning I was ready to do it but could not connect with the current future former boss easily. I had to grab him on his way out the door Friday afternoon.

On Thursday he told me that he was so happy he had hired me, so it made me feel extra awful knowing that I had to tell him goodbye.

I kind of felt like the average girl who dated that really hot BMOC for a few months, but he then broke up with her.... and there I was with this nice new boy friend, someone adequate, kind, a little needy but in all respects nice. And the BMOC comes calling saying "baby, I shouldn't have broken up with you. Come back..."

I also felt like I was kicking a puppy. I felt that uncomfortable about it. And I still do a little bit.

My current future former boss didn't try to talk me out of it. He basically said "you're sure that this is the job you want to take and you've made up your mind..." and I said yes. I told him that I deliberated long and hard, and what it really boiled down to was money, and I didn't expect him to try and match the pay offered to me. I'd be doing something totally different, not web-development, and I don't think I'm worth that money here.

So he went home for the day on Friday and then sent me the job description and asked me to help him revise it and make it better so we can get the best candidate in.

I told him I'm super happy to train this new incoming person, whenever he or she is found, but I can't really go past April 22nd, I don't think. My former future boss wanted me to start as soon as possible, and the 2 weeks notice means I would start on the 20th (Monday) in her best world.

But I kind of feel like if the person moving into this seat needs me for an extra day, or two, I'd like to help that person out. Plus, that is April School Vacation week. what if I wanted to do something fun with my kid (who am I kidding. We'll just sleep until noon each day now that he's not in Boy Scouts).

In our staff meeting yesterday afternoon everything seemed to go well, we made jokes, everyone seemed happy. He had made some decisions on things a few weeks ago that he then completely changed, which changes how I did something that I thought was done but that's okay. I'll change it to the way he wants it. Everything will be okay here. I know it.

So in making that decision, my husband is very happy that we will be able to dig upwards out of debt. I'll be making about 300 dollars more a week, every week, and this particular salary is pretty much what I was making when I lost my last full time job in 2010.

It has been an exceptionally long time working for little money, and combined with losing the house and all the other crap that has happened I can breathe a little sign of relief. Maybe things can get better and more awesome. Maybe we can get a used car that isn't from the auto auction and might last longer than a couple months. Maybe we can get a new couch.

Hopefully this will be a job I'll want to stay at for quite some time. I think that if my last job hadn't folded 5 years ago last month, maybe I would have still been working there. Who knows. I just know that what's done is done, and cannot be undone.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hard Decision Time...

When the contract job ended, my then boss "S" told me that literally the minute someone on the team gave notice, she would be calling me to offer me a job.  One of my former co-workers gave her notice on a Monday morning in early March, and pretty much by noon the Boss S texted me and said "can we talk?" She wasn't kidding.

She had to post the job internally for 2 weeks and the job goes public today and will be open for 2 weeks for the "interview process...." She's encouraged me to apply for it. And verbally I think the job is mine. I would be the only candidate with the training on the products unless someone from a station that uses the products applies for the job, and that most likely in all the world will not be happening.

And so, I have done that. At about 1pm, I did apply for this old but new job.

I think she loves me, and she has said things to me about my personality, and how  I bring something to the team in the form of care and passion that she values deeply. She was very unhappy to let me go. And I think if she had not had to let me go, my co-worker who left might still be there... and we'd still be working together (which was great) but the fire wouldn't have been lit for her to find a job that she wanted more and to leave.

There are several pros and cons to the decision I may have to make shortly. I'll try and outline them, mostly because I want to remind myself later of whatever my decision was/is, so I can thank Past Me or kick Past Me's ass.

The Old Job:
  • I was good at it and I enjoyed it.
  • People liked me. I felt happy on my team, and with the other teams.
  • Every day was the same, but different. 
  • Cache of saying where I worked when people asked me always got a raised eyebrow and a lot of discussion. 
  • Doug will be happy to have me back in the car with him. He says his commute is sad and lonely without me. 
  • About 15k more a year in pay.
  • One work-from-home day a week, which I'd try and match up to Doug's day.

  • That Boston Commute. Jesus help me ... I didn't realize how tired I was doing that commute for nearly 2 years between the last 2 jobs. 
  • No real chance of any sort of advancement. I'll be in tech support forever. But at nearly age 50 am I a climber or am I happy being a foot soldier?
  • Fear of falling into an unhappy rut with the duties of tech support. There were a couple of people (outside of my building, people I had to support) that I was growing to despise. I am afraid my not-so-nice side may come out quickly when I return to that noise. 
  • Did I mention the commute?
  • Really, the commute is the big con for me. Enough so that I feel it is outweighing all the Pros listed above. 
The New Job 
  • The Commute for sure. I am a few miles from my front door. I am sleeping in (by "sleeping in" I mean 8am) and getting to my desk before just about everyone. I can work until 5:30 or 6pm, and be home, cooking dinner, in 30 minutes. 
  • Location. The town where the job is is just ... superb. Restaurants, beautiful places to go walkies, a river! My office view (see previous posting). I am relaxed. I am rested. I am truly happy.
  • Small office, 5 people.
  • Very flexible/relaxed work schedule. As long as I'm getting my work done, where I'm doing it isn't super crucial. I can stay at home, as long as I tell everyone. The only day they like for everyone to be here is Monday for a 2pm staff meeting.
  • Getting stretched beyond my skill set. I was initially unhappy to find out that I'd be doing certain things (nothing dirty, you perv!) but I'm enjoying learning new software and figuring things out. There are a couple of things that I still have no flipping clue about, but so far I feel like this works as far as work goes. 
  • My boss seems like he really likes me and values my opinion. I can talk a big digital strategy game. And I am slowly helping him realize some of his ideas. It would suck to walk away from that kind of a role.
  • Small office means we're up each other's butts when we're all here.  There is some office drama. I am trying to engage some of my co-workers in giving me feedback about what they want to see change on the site instead of just saying "our website sucks and I hate it." They frustrate me. I'm trying to build a website that makes your life easier. Tell me what you want instead of "it sucks, I hate it."
  • Boss sometimes doesn't give any notice of things happening, ie: someone coming in for an interview (for another person's job and they are being laid off...and they're sitting right here instead of on a day where they can say "I am leaving early..." And "Christine you have to edit and layout this book that is 90% finished" or "We have a skype meeting at 2:30." He seems to have his own schedule in his head, and then we just have to kind of drop things. 
  • He has some ideas and visions which are great but he needs to hold off on until the new site is built. But he is currently on the phone talking to someone about a shared content sponsorship program, and I have no idea how that fits in with our new site, or old site.
  • He seems to lay people off that he suddenly isn't agreeing with. I took someone's job that was doing what I perceived was a great job, but there was something going on there between them and ... she got the boot and I got brought in. It is happening again to someone in the office here (senior editor).  So he tells me I'm doing a great job, loves my ideas, very encouraging... but in 8 weeks will that be the same? 
  • Location is making me lazy. I promised myself I'd get up and go to the gym. I've done that once in nearly 2 months.
So yeah. Those are the pros and cons.  Doug said the money alone is enough to make the decision. He wants to move closer to Boston after Geoff graduates, maybe in the fall or next spring, so he thinks I need to put on my big girl pants and go back to the job in Boston.

I'm sure the money will be hugely helpful. We could buy a car. We could pay for both kids to take classes. Money is nice.

I'm just not sure that walking away from this job before we get the sites rebuilt and optimized and rolled out is something I'm comfortable doing. I feel awful about the concept. But if I choose to stay here, and then find out I'm being ousted in say June or July because he has a change of heart about how he thinks the job is going, that will suck (sounds all very Alice in Wonderland, I know).

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

a picture of me, for a change...

In my office, sometimes I'm the only one here. People work from home,  a lot. I can work from home, and I have once or twice.

One particular day, I found myself alone here at my desk. I was a bit ADHD and very cold. So I took this picture of myself.

I normally do not like pictures of myself. I look fat and stupid with a big Peter Griffin double chin so the scarf helped out this one a lot. I put this through a filter on Instagram, and it caught the sun coming through the window behind me. The black and white helped out my skin tone.

The only thing I really would have liked to have done is  blend out the circles under my eyes... but this was the day after Jack died, and i think it holds a certain sadness.

Additionally, I've always liked my nose, and my skinny irish lips look cute.

So... I like this photo.

The J.O.B. Job

My contract at work didn't get renewed at the end of January. I had gotten to the point where I was pretty solid on the support I was providing, and learning still. Which is always good. I felt like 80% of the stuff coming into the helpdesk was a drop kick done deal that I could answer, 10% was stuff I had to question and then 10% stuff that didn't overlap with me.

So feeling safe and happy was good. I also had gotten to the point where there were a few people (out side of our building, people who sent in help desk requests) that I wanted to never hear from again. Two maybe. Which is a tiny fraction of the people I had to deal with on a regular basis.  I suppose that is bound to happen in help desk work.

When I knew they weren't renewing my contract, I started looking for a new job and I secured one, which started one month ago yesterday (a short month, but a calendar month nonetheless). It is very close to home, only a few miles and a few minutes of a commute. The view is outstanding... and it is hard some days for me to focus when I get to sit here and gaze out upon the gorgeousness of the Merrimack River.

It is kind of a good thing that my job ended when it did because the commuting into Boston situation was sort of impossible for a couple of weeks, and for some is still impossible. Doug said it took him over 3 hours some days to get into work. And if he had thought he'd put me on the T on his side of the Charles River to try to get to my side of the Charles River, more often than not I'd pretty much just be stranded because the T essentially ceased to be.

February 2015 goes down in history as a commuter's nightmare. And from the people I'm still in touch with at the old office, it sounds like the city has just given up totally, and the hope is that spring will just melt the snow away.

My sanity rejoices for this commute, and being here. And I can make a nice big dinner and pour a cocktail or pop open a bear for my road warrior husband when he finally gets home long after 7:30pm. The poor kid.

So the job. My title is Web Manager. Sounds reasonable. It is a 5 person office. I had two half-days with the girl I replaced. The replacing was awkward, I think there was a money issue or personality issue or something between her and the boss... and he decided to get rid of her and bring in someone else... She's lovely, really. And in real life she and I would be best nerd friends ever. She trained me to the best of her ability with short time of my being here, but I feel that I really needed her for a week. I'm trying to make do. Or is it make due? Anyway.

I got hired to do a job that I thought was as simple as updating text in a newsletter (InDesign) templated by someone else, saving it for PDF posting online, and updating content on the website. I quickly found out that my job entails:
  • updating the templated newsletters (3)
  • updating that content on the websites (3) 
  • proofreading and editing and making content updates to a book that was supposed to be published in December (uh.... okay?) 
  • designing marketing collateral for print in In Design (designed it, but the printers come back with blah blah blah spot color cmyk bleed blah blah blah problem blah blah blah) 
  • posting tests/quizzes on a Moodle site (piece of crap and a half. Moodle is from Satan)
  • posting products (like the book!) 
  • project managing a big rehab of our site(s) with a company out of NH.
Outlining and detailing all the challenges and house fires I've had to do since starting here does no good. I am boring you to death as it is, I'm sure. I have posted the newsletters for this month (it only took me 4 weeks to do it), I have revised, tweaked and fixed this book a million times and yet the senior editor still keeps coming back with "oh, I missed this one thing can you fix it?" So it just went to the printer for proof today. We are getting ready for the March content. We're talking about site redesign and what we want to see in the new layout on the User Experience front and back end. I drew up a little mock-up for the front page of the site and the office manager loves it. We'll see if anyone else agrees. I just realized I need to post the one-off "a la carte" tests for each the newsletters and the instructions on how to do that are so bat-shit crazy I can't even.

The literal saving grace is that everyone here is cool. So cool. There is no yelling. There has been panic, and the 4 co-workers I have who I deal with most all have great senses of humor, so it is super nice. We joke around about needing valium or heroin to get through the crisis du jour.

And the view. The view is pretty sweet...

This is the view from my office window.
I am longing for the snow to be gone, and walkies to happen.

And my co-worker has this dog.
She came to visit and it made me very happy.