Friday, September 13, 2019

New Orleans, convention and weekend away

I attended a conference in New Orleans this week. It was a good time for sure.

This is the second time I've gone to this convention, last year was in Austin, TX. I love spending time with people in my field, people I give tech support for. I feel loved. And I get to meet some cool people from a lot of other fields in media.

I am happy and thankful that my manager sent me on this trip, and I got to go away for a few days. We have a booth at the convention, and I am pretty much a big fan of staying at the booth and repping for the company rather than going to sessions. We have people stop by all the time, just to say they love us. It's a good feeling. And it makes me want to keep working here.

Doug arrived last night to hang out with me here for the weekend.

He loves New Orleans, I can kind of take it or leave it at the end of the day, but I have a specific soft spot in my heart for the "city that care forgot" as it has been called since long before Hurricane Katrina.

We were here a couple of years ago, for a long weekend. One of my bit take aways if you don't have time to go read that blog entry from 2017, is this:

Stumbling upon a very real Mississippi river funeral with a brass band playing hymns like "I'll Fly Away" is very moving. Finding out the funeral was for a 14 year old boy who was a member of that band is even more moving. Especially when it was a suicide. You may find yourself standing on the sidewalk crying your heart out for someone you never knew, and a family you want to console but you know it isn't really the right thing to do, and you should just move along after the band shuffles across to Jackson Square.  
Knowing that these people are sharing an intensely personal moment in a very public venue that makes them look like they are simply entertainers like any other jazz group playing hymns in New Orleans is mind blowing. I thank them for being there at that time. And will not forget the roses flowing down towards the giant container ships and riverboats rolling out of the city.
Thursday night, we went to a bar that we "discovered" for ourselves that last visit two years, and I had told some colleagues about it. They were there when we arrived, and cheered when Doug and I walked in. The place was packed and we were shocked. We felt like celebrities or something. It was a great time with some fun people.

This morning, we checked out of our hotel, I ent to the conference and Doug walked all over New Orleans (he probably put 6 miles in before we connected again).

We went over to our new housing, Doug had scoped out a VRBO near Frenchman in the Marigny neighborhood, not knowing anything about the area, I didn't know what to expect.

The owner/host called me this morning to let me know the code for the lock box, and let us know we didn't have to check out in a hurry or anything. She's out of town, and basically Monday is ours for free.

Which is good, because we have a super late flight, and did not want to drag our suitcases all over the city with us!

I think I am in love with this spot. It is a tiny two-story cottage, with a gorgeous little courtyard. Doug filled the fountain, and ran it for a while this evening before we went out to dinner.

We had dinner at this cool hot dog shop called Dat Dog, it's where we sat and watched a 20 piece band play in the street last visit. We took a long walk (Jesus, if I were Doug I would have been like "no" but this was his idea to walk more). We sat on a park bench on the river and watched the full Harvest Moon rise over the Mississippi, talked about whether or not we'd take the ferry across to Algiers again, would we get a streetcar pass and go somewhere like back out to the Garden District. I had friends tell me about Willie Mae's and other restaurants I need to go to that are too far to walk but too good to miss. I'd like to go over to some of the breweries, like Brieux Carre near here, or Parleaux in Bywater.

I'm sure we'll see some great things.

Like this:

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Solo Labor Day Weekend, 2019

It is Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, I'm home alone. The last time I was home alone for the weekend, I unfortunately lost my Father in Law due to a stroke, so hey. Here's hoping for a better weekend, am I right?

Geoff has been desperately longing to go back to Massachusetts for a visit, so he picked this weekend so he didn't have to eat more than one vacation day. It was kind of weird to deal with. He just assumed he could take one of our cars, which we said a hard no to.

It isn't that I don't trust him, there are a lot of other reasons and that is not one. Primarily, I worry about either of our cars making the trip, and him handling it appropriately if something should go wrong. And him being alone.

Being under 25, he wouldn't be able to secure a hotel if he had to spend the night somewhere. I had that experience once driving back from Pittsburgh to my parents back in like 1987, and it was really scary. I still get a bit triggered if I'm ever near the Delaware Water Gap, so I really don't want him to be out there solo.

I also feel that without a navigator on the first trip north, the area around Elizabeth NJ going towards the GWB is kind of a nightmare for a first experience, especially one that can take up to 9 or more hours. I could have had him plot out a course that avoided NYC, but didn't want to add an hour or more to his experience.

Soon, someday, yes. He'll get to do it. Hell, I was like 19 when I was driving around the country in shitbox cars, so, I know he can do it. I just feel with these cars as my cars, I'll feel responsible if one busted down. So you can say I am momming all over it, but, I'm momming all over it for reasons.

After some deliberation, he took the Amtrak, which I am a big fan of taking up to NYC and I've done it a couple of times since we've been here. Up to Manhattan in no time. But the rest of the way to Boston is long.

But safe. And good. I was a bit confused by him going up Thursday and coming home Sunday, but... his vacation, his itinerary.

Baby's first vacation.

Thursday morning very early, I drove him to Union Station. I asked him if he just wanted to go in by himself and find the gate, but he asked that I come with.

I encouraged him to buy snacks and water for the trip since the food on the train is stupid expensive. We bought gifts for Thane, his pretty much oldest friend and Eagle mentor, who was hosting him for the weekend (he picked out t-shirts for him and his relatively new girlfriend).

He seemed anxious, but always is on his first experience of something. I showed him to the gate, got a real honest hug goodbye instead of a shoulder bump. Then I got a bagel and iced coffee at the shop near his track, and watched him stand in line from a distance, and then walked to work. Then, I walked to work.

He made it there safely, and texted me a few times with pictures of himself and Thane and the girlfriend. He went for a long walk Friday through the woods alone, and said "I can't believe you gave this up for a tech support job."

Yeah honey. Sometimes I don't believe it either.

That said, I did. We did. And I'm still unsure we made the right decision almost two years later. Doug, always the Devil's Advocate says "At least we don't get 100 inches of snow. At least it is summer here past Labor Day. You can wear flip flops until like October! At least..."

Yeah, there are benefits but. I do agree with Geoff.

I feel like we'll get him to his associates degree in Radiology. He'll get a job to get some experience on the books and build that resume, and then he'll move "home."

Can't say as I blame him. I know he's happy there, and while I'm glad he came here with us, and he's working so hard, I know he'll go back. And I am okay with that.

Maybe he can even drive his own car there, with his stuff in it.

He is on his way home on the train today. Can't wait to hear more of the stories of the things he saw and get his thoughts and feelings on the trip.

And I'm very glad he got to spend time with Thane. He loves Thane, and I know Thane has a life and a lot of other things to do. He has a full time job, has the girlfriend, has an apartment, but has always had time for Geoff. They had some bumpy and stupid things happen way back in Elementary School, but through time he's proven to be a good guide, and that Eagle Mentor Geoff needed.

So after two years apart, I'm truly hoping this was a positive experience and a great visit.

Baby's first, but not last, vacation.

Doug and I were both supposed to go to Pittsburgh together, and go help his mom with some things. Brodie has recently been having a lot of in-the-house accidents, and has been acting not her normal self, so without Geoff here to watch her, we decided we could take her with us and stay at a pet friendly hotel.

Then, she had some major accidents, and started to do these weird absence-like seizures where she just stood there, staring into space. Or she'd be laying on the floor, shaking and looking terrified. These are not normal Brodie things.

We took her to the vet and had her checked out. They did a lot of blood work and stuff but I didn't hear back by Friday. We decided I should stay home with her. So I did.

Doug has been texting me pictures of stuff he's helping sort through at his mom's. He sent me pictures of McDonalds collectable glasses, which were wrapped up and put away in 1981. According to the newspaper cocoons he defiled.

He told me these are coming home with him. And I hope he carefully re-wrapped them because maybe they are worth something? And if not, I really don't need them in my kitchen. I have enough stuff to deal with.

I am a little jealous that both boys got to go away, but I had a weekend in early August (I should write and tell the tale of that trip) so it's their turn to get away.

So what have I done with my Labor Day Weekend? I'm chipping away at a rather long to do list that I set out to do. Here are the highlights:

1. Laundry, all of it. Wash, dry, fold. All of it.
2. vacuum, sweep, mop all the rooms
3. Clean Geoff's bathroom
4. repot the plants
5. tackle the cardboard recycling in the back porch
6. all the bedsheets/wash/change/etc
7. clean the entire kitchen
8. Scrub down the basement stairs, and then sweep/mop basement main room
9. sew the buttons on the things now that I found all of the needles and threads
10. put the IKEA shelves we got in the right spots and get the TV up on it (I need Geoff for this so I'm glad he is coming home tonight).


Laundry, wash dry fold is almost done - last of the laundry is in the dryer
plants are repotted and all the spider babies into new homes/pots
sheets are washed, need to put on beds (Geoff's are not, I'm waiting for him to come home).
Geoff's sink and toilet and floor are clean - but I haven't hit the shower. I may show him now to do that...
Dining room swept, not yet mopped

Thankfully, I have all day tomorrow to do things left undone. And with the boy home, a few heavy lifting things will be wonderfully accomplished.

Hope your labor day weekend was fun and satisfying, and if you had to work - I hope it wasn't awful.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Doug update

After my last post about Doug and his job search, he got an offer and after his contract is over, he starts a new job. He'll have a long commute, but we can deal with that.

And there was much rejoicing!

This week he's on the road. In fact, I'm kind of super jealous because he got to go to Tucson, AZ and visit with my aunt and uncle, and ran around the desert southwest playing Pokemon without me, sending me pictures of cool cocktails from funky wacky bars and pictures of airplanes and stuff.


He didn't come home over the weekend between two trips, but was able to stay out west with my family. Which was nice. But it made me super jealous. I would have joined him but we don't have the expendable income. We will in a few months. And then we'll have some fun... (see the last entry on going to see Guster. While Doug also does not enjoy Guster like I do, I think I'm going to make him come to this show. Or he can just stroll around New York City and enjoy that like he did in Philadelphia).

While Doug is away, I've been watching hockey by myself. It isn't as much fun as watching with him. I'm also rifling through the last couple seasons of Supernatural. Doug doesn't like the show, but I do. I'm almost done with Season 14 and not enjoying it, but I have to be prepared for season 15 and ready for that finale. (Edit: Boring season ended up with amazing season Finale, which was just what I wanted).

I am also trying to do cleaning things. Doug hates when I run the vacuum cleaner (he says the house smells after it is used). Geoff and I are also hanging out together and enjoying talking about things. He got good grades in his spring semester (an A in advanced writing, B in biology, which I told him was funny because he got grades that matched the course names. "Be careful when you take Chemistry, ha ha.")

That's pretty much the update from here. We'll know how life is when Doug starts his new job and what the commute is like, but that's happiness on our part.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Hello Mister Sun - Guster in Florida

You all know I'm a fan of the band Guster, this is no shock or surprise. Someone asked me recently how many times I've seen them and I'm trying to recall.

In the past couple years, every possible opportunity that has presented itself has been accepted for me to go see them. I hate the house of blues in Boston, but went there twice to see my boys. I don't think I would go see anyone else there. 

I attended two of the four 25th anniversary of the band shows at the Paradise in Boston. 

Baltimore twice since we moved here. Two nights in DC at the 9:30 club. Through the fan Facebook group, I met some people who are now "Guster Family." 

My sister met us in Philadelphia to go see them and she is now a sister in the Guster fan family. Sara & Sean who live up the road, Emily & Kelsie who just graduated from college in DC here. And, Joe. Crazy Joe from Pittsburgh. And his friend Deb who lives in Richmond.
Our little Guster fan family spied from the balcony.

This picture was taken by someone in the balcony at the Philly 20th anniversary of "Lost and Gone Forever" show and posted to the fan page on Facebook. It's during the song "Hang On," and it's kind of like church for me in a lot of ways.

If you're not familiar with the song, here it is. Please watch.

I brought my sister to see them in Boston, it was part of the 25th anniversary shows and according to Ryan Miller (lead singer) apologized for how weird everything was that night for if it was someone's first show... And it was. They had a giant spinning wheel of choice, and if the wheel landed on the same song twice, they'd play it a second time at double speed. It was a night of rarities, and some karaoke too, where a guy played guitar ("No! That's my job!" yelled Ryan) and sang Demons perfectly, because his high school a cappella group sang it, and that was his song.

Linda was hooked though. She knew two songs going into it, and she was in love.

Earlier this year, she won tickets (through the FB fan group) to go see them in Fort Lauderdale in April.

She told me I had to come with her (of course) and she bought a third ticket so her bestie Ginger could join us. 

Little did I know... 

Linda set into motion several plans and schemes. She bough Jess a ticket and flew them down. She invited my good friends Michael and Jon to join us but they couldn't come to the actual show. She asked Carrie to come down, but Carrie had been traveling so much that she declined due to the need to be at home for a minute. 

I had my own plans and schemes for this weekend. I emailed the band to see if there was a way we could hang out after show with them, because I thought why not make Ginger's first show experience unforgettable. I told them our names, and the drummer Brian said that we were all set for after show. 

My sister was already in Florida, and I forwarded the email from Brian to her and told her to let Ginger know "because I wasn't sure if Ginger liked surprises like that." 

Surprises. Heh.

My sister got my email while they were on the way from the Airport after picking up Jess. The first big secret. Realizing that Jess would not be on the guest list because I didn't know about her coming, Linda emailed Brian immediately to get Jess added to the after show.

She told Brian that it was a surprise for me, that I had no idea Jess was coming.  Brian thought that was very sweet. 

More secret things happened during the day on Friday, I flew down and they lied to me that they were late picking me up because of traffic. They were really late because they had been prepping for my arrival party. 

Jess was back at the house making party food with Steve and Jason. Michael and Jon were on their way over to Ginger's house. 

When I got there, Ginger gave me the tour of their new house. We got to the bathroom off their bedroom and Ginger said that she had a big claw foot tub in there... opened the door for me to see, and Jess jumped out of the shower and yelled something like "and also me!" 

And yes, I was completely surprised. 

Steve showed me the office, opening the door to reveal Michael and Jon sitting there pretending to do work at the desks (hysterical).
Michael, and Jess, and Jon after surprising the pants offa me.

What an incredibly joyful surprise. We spent the evening entertaining our new friendships, Jon and Michael were new to Linda and Steve and Ginger, so many multiple conversations were happening all around in circles. It was a riot.

The next day we floated around in the pool and had lots of laughs. I won't post the video of my sister attempting to mount the large inflatable unicorn.

Sunday we went to Jason's Plywood Regatta and then the hotel where we'd be staying for the night in Fort Lauderdale. Got to the venue early, and enjoyed the opening act (Saintseneca, great harmonies and super friendly humans).

The venue was really small, so while I'm against the back wall here, I am about 20 people deep. There had been opportunity to be about 3 people back, but I liked the wall for leaning, especially as it was a small room. It was hot as balls, because Florida.

My sister got these nice shots of Ryan during the song "Doing it by myself" where for the past several years he's come out into the audience to sing. He gets himself into wacky positions, and this particular night he went up on the 3 people deep balcony, came down the stairs, danced on top of the bar and drank someone's drink.

For a middle aged dad, he's kind of a riot. The extra funny part is he uses a corded microphone, so someone on stage has to do the cord maintenance. And the audience helps a lot too.

After the show, we had our fancy wristbands so we got to hang out. I was talking to a couple other fans when Brian came out, headed straight towards me and hugged me.

"Did it work?! Did the surprise work?" His face was beaming, he was so happy.

First off, I was kind of astonished that he knew who I was just on sight without me walking up to him (blame Facebook profile pictures and relentless posting in the fan group, but he's a member too so he knows who we are. Which is very cute when you think about it).

And I was happy to report that yes, the surprise worked. I was able to introduce him to Jess, and to Ginger at her very first show. And to my sister, who arranged the shenanigans.

"I love surprises!" he said. And that made me so happy. We had a lovely chat, and I then got to talk to Adam Gardner. I told him about my dreams of opening a brewery and all the songs were named after Guster songs. I ran down the list of some that we'd come up with. Our flagship beer is "Hoppier" which is a very hop-forward IPA. Adam thought our idea was genius, and he commented that so many Guster fans were super talented and crafty, mentioning the Gustard mustard and the handmade fan made soap from Lisa Shea's soapery.

Mine is just a dream, but he's right. There are some downright clever and fun fan side projects.
The beautiful "vampire" who never ages, Adam Gardner, my sister, and my extremely red sweaty face, because ... Florida.

All told, a fantastic and fun night. I finally got to talk in person to two members of my very favorite band.

What's next? We will see them in New York City in August. And again, I expect to be super sweaty and gross but ... for this band? Yeah. I'd do that. Every day I'd do that.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Travelin' Man

Doug lost his job in September. We've done pretty well on just my salary but the past couple weeks have been rough. He picked up a contract position and that has him traveling right now. The pay is good but he had to up-front some big travel expenses for the most expensive trip of his collection. We also had about a thousand dollars worth of car work that needed done to both vehicles (after months and months of things running just perfectly).

The contract is great, he likes what he is doing, but he already knows after three weeks that traveling for a living is not for him. He's relieved that it comes to an end, but I'm worried about when it does and he's back to not having work. The job prospects are not cooperating. So many interviews, so little results.

It's funny because I am by myself a lot right now. I talk to the dog a lot.

Doug and I don't talk while he is on the road. I don't really understand people who talk to each other multiple times a day. He texted me last night about a nice restaurant he ate at. He comes back here tonight and tomorrow flies out to Michigan.

I've never been to Michigan.

A nice thing about Doug being on the road is that I can catch up on shows he doesn't like, such as "Supernatural." I think I'm finally in Season 13, and he would so hate watching this. But I'm happy to have the time to myself for these things. I'm hoping to catch up before he's done with his run. I used to have my Tuesday work from home day to myself and I'd play an episode or two in the background while working. But since he's been unemployed he's here, on the couch, in the living room, in my space and in my way.

Our wedding anniversary is coming up and I thought about flying out to connect with him where he'll be - Las Vegas. And then spending the week with him as he goes to Tucson. I can go hang out with my aunt while he works.

But I also want to put that money in the bank so hard so that we can get through July and probably August with just my salary.

We also thought about flying him out to see Aaron as Aaron is working on a boat project and could use the company. Listening to the two of them on the phone was a complete joy. I think it would be nice to send him out to California in the last weeks before Aaron's boat is done, or to Oregon for when the boat gets there.

Fingers crossed for something to pan out for him. Because I'd like to travel too, but we need that money in the bank and not really spent.

The next fun we have scheduled is in August. My sister bought a ton of tickets to see Guster in NYC at Summerstage, so we'll be headed up to that.

That's about all the fun here. Not a lot else to say.

Monday, April 01, 2019

"How is your soul?"

I got to go to Boston this past week. Our office hosted a series of meetings over two days, and I was encouraged to go. It was really interesting, even if a bit out of my wheelhouse. I was able to make some face to face connections with people from across the company. And some new people who really need my help. Overall it was not a waste of time, but I felt under-needed, and a bit out of place.

My boss also was at the meetings, and she encouraged me to go so we could go back to Boston. She and I were walking around Boston University/Comm Ave, which was dusty and dirty, and under so much construction, and full of students. She screeched at the top of her lungs that she just loves this filthy dirty place that is emerging from winter and not into spring and is just a mess. A gorgeous mess! We stood on Comm Ave and looked towards the skyscrapers, the views, the vistas, and lamented that DC just isn't interesting to look at.

And this was. We were joyful in our souls, standing by the Agganis Arena and just smiling. We must have looked like freaks.

She gave her notice the week before last. This is her last full week with us, and I'm not here in the office on Friday.  We knew this was coming. She's fought the great fight here for good things for our customers, and for our team, and she's run to the end of her journey.

She's off to different pastures that I hope are better and more fulfilling.

I truly am happy for her. We made this move here together and she told me when we were all debating what we'd do back in 2017 that she couldn't do this without me.

For what its worth, we had a great run, and I'm glad that I stuck with it and we came down here.

But now I'm feeling a little disjointed and not scared at all, or worried, but sad and kind of defeated. I am tired. My job is tiring. I love it, but it takes a lot out of me. They told me when I took the position in May of 2014 that people never last longer than 2 years in this seat and I had a "Hold My Beer" attitude. I have no real desires to climb a corporate ladder or jump from job to job to increase my salary and get my title to grow. I am not joking when I say I love what I do.

But yeah, I'm kind of exhausted. So I can only imagine how she feels deep inside and how she had to make the move.

While we were in Boston we got the old crew back together. My co-worker R was already in town for PAX, so we figured it was a great time to gather us all up again.

We all met up at a pizza/bowling alley in Somerville, and there was much fun and chatting. I didn't get to spend a great deal of time with some of the folks, but, I got to spend time with quite a few. On my way out at the end of the evening (for me - I didn't want to have too much to drink and not be able to get back north safely) one of my former co-workers and I got to have a minute together. She had gone off before our office closed to a great opportunity to do her dream job in Scrum/Agile development. She's training people all over the world, all over the country, and training people in-house in Boston on how to do the things they do. She is a beautiful, fun, radiant human being.

She and I hugged and she took my hands and asked "How is your soul?"

And I almost burst into tears right then.

Great question. How is my soul? I asked her what she meant, and she told me that I always had the best, kindest, willing and joyful soul in the office "I just want to make sure that is still the case!"

How incredibly kind and thoughtful. I told her, well, to be honest I'm not sure how my soul is.

Right now the thing feels a little weary and battered and but not broken. I'm not sure how it will do in the coming weeks once my boss doesn't work here anymore. But we'll go on. We'll go on. I recalled reading about Neil Peart's "little baby soul" and how shattered it was after the deaths of both his daughter and his wife in a very short period of time. He got on a motorcycle, and left. And each step of the road trip was a step in healing. With plenty of tears along the way. "Ghost Rider" is an outstanding book if you're looking for a good read.

I don't have the luxury of being able to get on a motorcycle and leave. And certainly, my situation is nothing like what his was. Mourning the great love of your life and your child all at one time is enough to break anyone. I am in a lot better shape and a great place in the universe, believe you me.

But yes, I too have a kind of a soul that once was big and bright and exuberant, but right now it feels more like the tiny spark that is left. It's been squished. And it hurts.

I didn't realize how depressed I maybe am.

I pondered these things for the weekend, and did things that helped bolster that little baby soul and make it feel bigger and stronger.

 Hanging out with Jess and drinking beer with her and her friends and laughing hard, and meeting the new girlfriend and new boyfriend of two of those friends. Seeing friends from church like Beth and Kara, and playing with both of their dogs. Talking to their kids, and we all call each other "lady" no matter if we're boy or girl, going back years now. Those kids are in 11th and 10th grade. Seeing my parents, listening to my mom tell stories to my kid, and my dad was sleeping a lot but still nice to see.  Breakfast with Amy, a full more-than-an-hour massage therapy appointment with Sue. And seeing the Boy Scout troop. Going and seeing the Troop brought me great joy. It isn't like it was a few years ago when all the moms would stay and hang out and talk. But there were a couple mandatory moms there, and mandatory dads, and a few of the boys still in the Troop moving towards their Eagle ranks, I was truly happy to see them.

And all the fun I had with Carrie. The mandatory Newburyport Sweatshirt trip was needed. I am so happy to have a new fresh one. Breakfasts, her going to pick me up at the wrong hotel, going to the beach, driving around Newburyport and just talking. Just having the time to not think about work but to talk about all kinds of shit.

I felt pretty rejuvenated there, until about 10:30am into my workday.  My little baby soul, it's hiding in a corner.

And I'm looking forward to when I get to go back.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Harpers Ferry

Compared to last winter, this winter wasn't as bad as it could have been. Weather-wise we only had a couple of days of severe cold, compared to last year when it felt like solid weeks worth.

Longtime readers (all five of you) know that we like to go out for adventures and have fun, even in the cold. With Doug not having a job right now we've curtailed a lot of said fun and travel. I've longed to take a trip to New Orleans or to go out to see Aaron. Go to Montreal or Quebec City... but we've been staying home and not venturing far afield. Which can bring a soul down during a long stupid winter.

We go into the city once in a while. The parking at the metro is free on weekends and we can go into town and back for less than 10 bucks each round trip. Mostly we go to free things, like the museums, and play Pokemon, and have a beer and appetizer of some sort just to keep from losing our minds. 

We have gone to the Folger Shakespeare Library a couple of times, and Library of Congress. The "LOC" as people around here call it, is gorgeous. A beautiful color scheme and fantastic art mixed in with great literary quotes all about the walls. We spent a great deal of time just reading the quotes and trying to figure out what famous author wrote them. Doug and I both realize that our literary education has faded off into the distant memories, as there were so many that we didn't recognize. 

We went to the Smithsonian Natural History and American History museums. We shelled out some cash to see Peter Jackson's WWI documentary "They Shall Not Grow Old," and that was money well spent. 

And by the way, if you can, please go see that and make sure you see it in 3D, and make sure you stay for Peter Jackson's commentary at the end. It's worth it. Completely. 

With spring coming though, both of us are starting to get a little more restless. Spring does that to you, I suppose. And Aslan is on the move, as they say.

Last weekend Doug wanted to go out to the Shenandoah Mountains and toddle about Skyline Drive but it was closed due to ice and snow. We will save that for a couple weeks from now, I guess. 

Instead, we went to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. We didn't quite know what to expect on arrival and were confused when the visitors center was really far out of town. Luckily, you pay for parking and there is a nice shuttle that takes you into town. There isn't any real parking in town, a small lot at the train station, and aside from that you are out of luck unless you're at the bed and breakfast or an employee of the parks service. 

I'm a big fan of the national parks, and they've done a really great job with this little town at the convergence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. There is a lot of history that happened here, most notably John Brown's raid before the Civil War. 

And as sometimes happens, the man who is most allergic to cats was found by a cat who wanted his affections. And he agreed.

The weather was still cool and windy, but the sun was very warm and walking around we were comfortable. We walked about a mile's worth of the Appalachian Trail in downtown and up a hill to Jefferson's Rock, so I can say I did that. Ha. 

After walking around town we found a brewery, of course.

The Harpers Ferry Brewing Company sits up above the river and has sweeping views of the area. The beer was refreshing, and the BBQ food truck on site provided good eats for us to sit and enjoy being outside. For early March, I gotta say this area is a blessing for getting out of the house and being able to not freeze to death.

Yesterday we drove down into southern Maryland, which feels like it should be a completely different state from where we live, or from the far western part of the state. 

Maryland is so weird. 

We went to Fort Washington, which I think took almost 2 hours to get to because traffic. Once we got there it was a really nice place to spend time. It reminded me of all the old Forts around Portsmouth and Southern Maine like Fort Stark, and had a really cool view of DC. 

We wandered over to the Piscataway Farm a little bit to the south, and enjoyed a nice flat stroll around the property looking at the pigs, cows, sheep, and buildings. This was a good vantage point to look back north up the river and see the big yellow welcome center at Fort Washington, and across the river to Mount Vernon. 

From there Doug just continued to drive south. There are a lot of scenic drives and by-ways through here, and he picked one from brochure he'd gotten on a previous trip south. It is pre-pretty out, so the scenic drive was less scenic and more headache invoking, but eventually we found route 301 and some gas, and got our bearings about us to decide the next move. 

We ended up heading to Cobb Island, and getting dinner at a place called Captain John's Crab House. The food was alright, the beer was cold, Doug played a couple rounds of Keno in honor of my dad. This place would make him very happy, we thought. 

Great sunset, and back home. 

Alright. On that note... this post has taken me like two weeks to write, I started it after Harpers Ferry. I'm sure I will have something to write next week, or the week after or after Ft. Lauderdale. 

Monday, January 07, 2019

Weird Little Yellow Car

Over the last couple of weeks, I've seen this weird little yellow car in my neighborhood a couple of times. It looks like it may be a mini-cooper of some sorts. Normally I wouldn't think anything of a weird yellow car. In fact, I love when cars are interesting colors. It makes them noticeable in traffic, when you see a little orange speed past you, or a bug-green car run a red light. These are helpful little cars when they are that color.

This little yellow car always has a guy in the driver's seat, an older gentleman. And he's looking at my house.  On Sunday, Geoff noticed him and said "What's that asshole doing looking at our house and pointing to us?"

Doug and I both got up to look, and sure enough, there he was. Someone was in the passenger's seat, and they were parked facing the wrong way down the street. The man was pointing and gesturing. And when he saw us looking out the window at him, he pulled away from the curb. In doing so, he almost hit a car head on (remember, he's pointed the wrong way down the street by parking in the incorrect direction). That would have been comical, if no one got hurt.

And we could go outside and say "dude, what's up with you looking at our house and stuff?"

I'm intrigued but also nervous.

Our lease is up at the end of July. What if this is the owner, and he's thinking of selling the house? We currently rent through a rental agency, and I was going to wait a month or so to talk to our agent about renewing the lease for another year.

Houses in our neighborhood are typically $450,000 and up. A cute little one around the corner was just rehabbed top to bottom and is on the market for $599,000. I hardly think it is worth it. It's pretty and all, nicely newly restored. But wow that's expensive.

A lot of properties in this area are skyrocketing due to Ah-may-Zahn HQ number 2 opening in Virginia in the future. They hadn't even granted the town the deal when prices for rent started to climb. Everyone figured it was a foregone conclusion, and they should jack up the rents to get in all those employees gonna make big paychecks at new HQ. The timeline for the HQ to be open is still years in the making - no one is going to be working there because there is no there for quite a while.

But even on the other side of the Potomac, up here in the county I live in, things have gotten very expensive housing-wise. If they don't renew our lease, we have to find somewhere else to live and to be honest, I may have to find somewhere else to work. Commuting down here from say Frederick MD (a wonderful place to live) is a challenge traffic-wise, and I would love to live closer to the ocean, but again... housing costs are insane and traffic is not much better out towards Annapolis or Upper Marlboro. I'd be living in a car, both for my commute and where I live!

And, Geoff is doing great at the community college where he is taking classes, he's very happy, and really working hard. I don't want to upset the apple cart that we carefully got into place with him this year.

So back to weird little yellow car and the man inside. Back in the day, I'd probably make up a narrative about hit. I used to do that with Dave when we did our Shenanigans. We'd sit at a bar and make up a short story about someone down the other end, holding court like they do in the middle of the afternoon.

But maybe I'm getting older, and I'm not as much fun as I used to be. I am starting to slightly panic over this. I'm kind of convinced he's the owner and he's going to want to sell the house and make a fortune on it. And I'll have to move. And now I'm worried.

Hopefully it is nothing but my imagination runs wild in the not-fun direction. We'll see what is going on...

Friday, January 04, 2019

These Dreams

Happy 2019, dear reader. All five of you real humans who I think still read this blog - I hope 2019 is full of love and joy for you. Or at least isn't a dumpster fire of epic proportions.

I don't put a lot of stock into dream interpretation. I've written a couple of times here about dreams I've had that were super bizarre, like my dream about Steven Page singing in a taqueria with incredible interior design.

Lately, I've had a lot of dreams about barns and about roads.

The barns are empty of animals, and are being used for events. In one dream I have often, we're doing some repair to a barn door. Hinges, new wood frame, making it secure and safe. I like the kind of barn doors that are on a rail or a track, and they slide open instead of barn doors that swing open. Last night, I had a dream where my boss was getting married, and the wedding was in a barn (very not her style!) and I was in charge of keeping an eye on the small children in attendance.

Sounds very much like my style if it isn't hers.

At the wedding, most of my daughter's high school friends were there. Which is weird, because only my daughter knows my boss. The cake was really good.

I dream about off ramps and bends in the road a lot. The other night I was dreaming that Geoff was behind the wheel, and he was eyeballing some dogs the way some dudes sometimes eyeball hot babes. He had a big grin on his face, and missed the turn. We went off the road and rolled over and over on a beach. I was yelling at him, neither of us were injured, and he was defensive and angry, and I think embarrassed that it happened. No dogs were injured in our roll over incident.