Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Looking forward to Twenty-Funty. or 20funty, whatever we want to call it

For my first post of 2019 I wished everyone love, and that the year wouldn't be a dumpster fire of epic proportions, or something like that.

Well, for a lot of people it sure the hell was. What a freaking year 2019 was, amirite? 

I have to say that this being the second solid year I've lived here in DC, I've grown a little more comfortable here. I made actual honest friends outside of work which is fun. I had some amazing moments. I saw my sister more in this year than most of all the 10 years before... it's super easy to get back and forth between here and NYC, so we've been able to really have fun and connect.

One of the highlights for me was getting to see my favorite band a lot. Twice in DC at the 9:30 club, then in Philly, Ft. Lauderdale, NYC which got rained out in epic proportions and rescheduled, Vermont three times, and the rescheduled NYC show. If you don't count the NYC Central Park rain show, that is a successful 8 shows. 

I even got to drive up to Maine and surprise my friends by appearing at a "Moth" radio hour style fan essay reading, where the drummer Brian Rosenworcel used some of our writing, and we kind of ended up making him cry a little. I wish I'd gone to the other shows that weekend but am super glad that I spent the time with Carrie at her cottage and had a wonderful dinner and lots of fun sleeping with the farting dog and giggling the night away. 

2019 didn't suck in the Fun Department, overall. 

Here are two pictures that sum up the greatness. 

This image is of me, Brian from Guster, his son, and my friend Sara, after the Moth story hour. Brian is just amazing. I love this kind and gentle human. And to have driven up to surprise Sara so we could be there together while Brian read our essay, well, this was great. Highlight of the summer if not the year for me. 

My sister won tickets to a Guster show in Fort Lauderdale. One of the Guster fans won tickets to every single show they did this year, and for the ones he could not attend, he had permission to give them away to other Guster fans. He raffled them off and Lin was the winner of that show.

Seeing as her best friend Ginger and family live in the Palm Beach area, Linda and I recently got Ginger into Guster, and we wanted for her to attend the show so close to home. Linda bought me a ticket so we could all go together. 

But she plotted and schemed to deeper shenanigans. 

She flew Jess down, and got Jess a ticket to the show. I arranged for after show time, so Linda had to also email Brian to let him know Jess was coming and to add her to the list but not tell me, because it was a secret. Brian was thrilled.

Linda also reached out to Michael and Jon, my dear loves who long ago moved to Florida. They couldn't come to the concert but Lin and Ginger threw a party for me to do the big reveal of Jess being there, and invited them to join. We laughed long into the night, it was a truly memorable time, and Michael took this group "ussie." I loved it. What a surprise and a blessing this entire night and weekend were.

There were a lot of stresses for sure, though. Doug ran out of unemployment and we were literally weeks away from having to borrow money to pay rent when he finally got a job in September. 

We didn't suffer a great loss, like of one of our parents. Doug's great aunt Mae just passed away last week, she was 104 years old, and I'm sorry we didn't get to go see her before she passed, but we did get to visit a couple other times this year. What a life well lived. And I so enjoyed getting to know her.

We had friends lose parents; friends lost children. Those were the hardest ones, the children. Friends got divorced or broke up. A couple of those are still struggling with these events and I'm heartbroken watching from away. 

The entire country has been stressed out. Working at a media organization has made me feel both extra stressed out over this whole year and also numb and not-caring. 

We didn't travel as much as I would have liked, but did get to go to Massachusetts, albeit for a funeral. I got to make a trip up for meetings and see Carrie and my parents and others. I did several Drive-By Hugs of many friends. I miss so many people that going home I try to make it a goal to see as many people as possible. 

I reconciled a little bit, but not fully, with a friend that I'd fallen out with. I'm happily watching from a ways off their life now and am happy to see them online and be reconnected. 

I'm looking forward to next year. 2020 as a number signifies a clear vision, focus, a real sense of sight. 

And at least one Guster concert coming up. 

Happy new year to you, dear reader. As Jim's Big Ego sings, "Thank God It's Over." Watch the video here: 

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Brodie Bean and the Close Call

We had a close call this week. 

All y'all know Brodie is an old girl. She's 13. She has outlived her two brothers, Jack and Gonzo, and made the trip with us to DC to continue her life. 

Old is hard. And if you're 13 well on your way to 14, things happen. 

In the fall she started peeing and pooping in the house. I took her to the vet, they did a lot of bloodwork and tests and thought she had Cushings disease. More testing to determine which kind of Cushings it was (so they could prescribe the right meds), and no conclusive results found. The vet said that she's just kind of old and encouraged us to limit her access to the parts of the house where she was going and making a mess, and for us to take her out more frequently to help combat her urgest and needs. 

On Thursday morning, I took her out before I left for Vermont to see some band named Guster (heh). She fell down a couple of times which is very unlike her. I brought her in, she went to sleep. Geoff texted me before he left for work and said she fell down the stairs to the back porch and she didn't pee or poop outside. I was in the car somewhere in upstate New York at that point, so I told Doug to keep an eye on her. 

He said Thursday she was restless and paced the house, didn't sleep hardly at all. Geoff was home all day Friday and reported that she didn't pee or poop all day. 

This was concerning. Doug kept an eye on her, and didn't tell me anything was happening - and I enjoyed my Guster experience with my friends and "GusFam" in Vermont. 

When I got home Sunday night, she didn't greet me at the door. I did some dishes that were left behind, I made a snack. I sat down to read email to get started for the work week ahead and she finally came out of the bedroom. 

She then began to pace. And pace. And pace and pace and pace - all night. Literally from Midnight until 7am, she paced the house. I thought she needed to go out. I took her. She did nothing but walk in circles around the yard. I made sure her water was clean and fresh and her food dish filled, but she had no interest. I called the vet at 7:30am, and they asked me to bring her in. 

Her temperature was 104.8, which is much higher than it should be. The doctor said that he wanted us to give her oral antibiotics, and take her temperature and get back to him. Over two days, the temp didn't drop and he was very concerned because all of her blood work indicated nothing abnormal. "She's perfect," he said. Literally for a 13 year old dog, all her numbers were just fine. Why is she running this "fever of unknown origin." He asked me to bring her back in on Wednesday morning. They hooked her up to an IV, and got her hydrated, and full of antibiotics, and continued to monitor her. 

He asked me to call him at 2:30pm and we'd see where we were. As the next day was going to be a holiday office closure, so we knew she couldn't stay there.  And we needed a plan if her fever would not budge.

At 2:30pm, she still had the very high fever, and the vet and I had a practical heart to heart. We could transfer her to the emergency vet, and she could spend the holiday at their office with 24 hour care. 

Or, we could just bring her home, get through the Thanksgiving holiday, continue the antibiotics, and if she still wasn't dropping we could let her go. Doug agreed. 

I left work early, met up with Geoff for a beer to talk about the plan. He understood and said we'd give her the best last 24 hours she could handle. I agreed. We talked about how since 1993, there was never a day in my life when I didn't have at least one dog. He said since the day he was born he didn't have at least one dog... we cried a little. 

He drank a little too much (he had a head start on me before I got to him) and was sad. I dropped him off at home, and I went to the market. Doug had not done any Thanksgiving shopping while I was in Vermont, and we were so focused on the dog, that we were unprepared. So we needed some something for dinner I guess.

As I was sadly dumping bags of stuffing and cranberries into the cart with no joy, no giddy anticipation, the vet called to report that her temp is 103.3... the fever broke. He wanted to keep her to 8pm to get another bag of antibiotics into her - but he wanted to release her to us, get through Thursday with two oral meds, and see how she was on Friday.

Her temp continued to drop through the next 24 hours. I'm completely impressed at how well Doug can give pills to dogs because hell I sure can't. And Geoff sure can't (Lord knows, he tried...). 

We opted to ... not put her to sleep. Her appetite had improved, mostly because we were feeding her hamburger and white rice since she wasn't touching her own food and the vet highly recommended we do that. 

It is such a relief that I didn't have to put my dog to sleep and then drive up to see Guster. I don't know that I could handle putting her down and then going to listen to my band. the sadness would suck. The spending time with friends would be in a fog. 

Doug texted me yesterday that her temp is 101.5, which is in the range of safety. We have antibiotics to get through to Wednesday - and will consult with the vet tomorrow to make sure we know how long to continue giving them to her. 

And I get to go home tomorrow to my pupper. What a relief. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

The dream of Bonnie

I usually wake up around 4am, go to the bathroom, and go back to bed. The sleep I'm able to get between 4am and the alarm at 6:50 is usually great. My fitbit shows that I literally do not move at all, no rolling, no tossing and turning and restlessness. The best sleep of the night.

And usually, that's when the dreams happen.

This morning I had a dream about my college roommate Bonnie. I don't get to connect with her too often, but she's never far from my thoughts, especially this time of year as we've recently passed the anniversary of her dad's death two years ago. His funeral was the day that I was leaving Massachusetts, and I couldn't afford to stay at a hotel, and stay for that event, and to this day I regret not going. It stings when I think of it.

Bonnie's mom and dad were always very good to me, and from the moment I met her family, I knew it was going to be a great relationship. We met when I was 17. It always breaks my heart when I hear about friends' kids who have horrible roommate situations in college now.

So sad that they are not finding their Bonnie.


In my dream, Doug and I are at our mechanic getting a tire replaced on our car. The tire is shredded, and it is kind of ridiculous. Our mechanic Danny is explaining to Doug about how the tire doesn't need to be replaced, he can repair it. Doug wants a completely new tire, not a refurbished one, because he doesn't want Geoff getting a flat or having a problem. (Sidenote: A year or so ago, Geoff was driving to work and the tire/wheel everything on the car came flying off. No joke. It flew off, as he was driving up 95 to work. I applaud Doug for his good dadding and concern about the boy).

He and Danny are hashing it out.  I am getting anxious because we are invited to the marina across the street (mind you, there is no marina across the street from Danny's garage here in Maryland but it's a dream, ya know?) I am looking across the street at the marina, which has a restaurant with a big deck and awning. Very nice place. And I can see everyone out on the deck, and the sunshine on the water. The awning is yellow and white. Everyone is laughing. And we should go there like ... now.

Bonnie had invited us to join her family there, she had an important announcement and wanted me there. So I was jazzed, and excited, and couldn't wait to see her. I get a little snippy with Doug and Danny and ask them to just settle up on the job so we can go across the street and come back later for the car. Doug and Danny finish their discussion, and I drag him across the street.

Bonnie is very happy to see me, her kids are there, and her siblings are all there. Her dad and her mom are there. I get great hugs and lots of smiles. A glass of white wine is placed into my hand. The sunlight on the lake is bright, and it's hard to see people down the deck, so I'm shielding my eyes with my hands like a visor.

A man stands up and taps his water glass with a fork to get everyone's attention. He's someone I do not know. He is about my height (5' 7") and has dark hair. He is beaming, very happy, and he thanks everyone for coming.

He turns to Bonnie's dad and says "Walt, I really want to thank you for this day, and this being Bonnie's 50th birthday I'm letting everyone know we are getting married! Thank you for giving me her hand, and I look forward to joining your family!" and he gestures to Bonnie with cheers, and we all raise a glass in a toast.

Now, I'm completely confused. I don't get to see Bonnie too often, but these things I do know.

1. Bonnie is already married and has been for a good long time, to a guy named Duncan. I was at that wedding. It was a very good time.
2. Bonnie turned 50 three years ago.
3. Bonnie's dad is dead (so this being three years ago he'd still be alive)
4. Who the hell is this guy?

I decide I'll roll with this, and I ask Bonnie who her new fiance is. "It's Austin," she tells me. Okay then. So I realize, and yell out, "Oh! You guys can have your own hashtag for your wedding! It'll be #BAustin."

Everyone things this is great and clever. B for Bonnie. Austin for... Austin. And it sounds like Boston. I get a good round of laughs and smiles from Bonnie's clan and other friends.

Damn, I'm good.

But Austin stands there looking at me and says "I don't get it. Why would we want the hashtag #Boston?" So I explain the B for Bonnie, Austin for ... him," and he is still just looking at me like a lost dog.

Oh this guy isn't any good.

I turn to Bonnie and say "Oh Bubble, where did you find this dipshit?"

And that's when I woke up.

My apologies to Bonnie's wonderful husband Duncan. And I guess Congratulations to the couple on their engagement three years ago. Wonder how they're doing today.

It was awful nice to have a visit with Bonnie's dad though. I guess even if Austin doesn't get how clever and smart I am, at least I know where I stand with Walt, if not Austin.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Day Off

I forgot to share this picture from the Dumbarton Oaks from last weekend. I loved it. These were pretty much the only flowers still in full bloom, along with some cosmos and some roses.

Next summer, I really want to get a pollinator garden going somewhere on our property. And these would be a lovely example of something to put in. Making a mental note for the spring.

Today is Columbus Day.

Up in Massachusetts, Columbus Day is pretty much a guaranteed holiday for most. Apologies to our first nations/indigenous friends who hate the day. I understand your feelings and recognize them, and know this is hard time of year for a lot.

When I moved to DC, I thought for sure that it would not be a holiday here at our office, but it is. It is a mixed bag here for who has today off. Federal holiday, not a county holiday, trains run on weekend/holiday schedule, banks closed. Some people are working, others are not.

Doug is working, Geoff is working.

And our trash schedule does not change.

I greatly appreciate a 4 day work week. I wish every week was a 4 day work week. I have enough vacation time stored up that I could make the entire rest of this year a 4 day work week if my boss would allow it. While Doug was unemployed for 9 months, we didn't travel anywhere really. I took a day off here and there. Recently my boss pointed out that I had reached the cap of what one is allowed to roll over into the new year already, so I should take time off. I didn't realize it was that much.

Most companies allow you 160 to 200 hours of vacation time rollover per year. It isn't intended for you to bank up and hold on to like a retirement plan. Vacation time is to be taken, says the philosophy. Otherwise, it's a financial liability for the company. Well played, company. Well played.

I worked for a company in Massachusetts, back about 20 years ago now, where they instituted this capping policy, but didn't grandfather in the fact that some people had a lot of vacation time stored up. They just capped it and "took money away," according to some. Even though we were told for a year that this was coming and were encouraged to use our hours over the X amount of the cap.

There was a guy, high up in the leadership chain, who had literally several hundred hours saved up. I think he was planning on cashing that all in when he retired.

But he was cheating the system and everyone kind of knew it, and when this announcement came a lot of things came to light.

He took off every Friday and Monday in the summer, and full weeks too, in order to go stay at his lake house in Vermont. It wasn't like he wasn't taking time off. He just was not reporting it. So when they announced this new policy he flipped the fuck out. All the way. Threw over a desk, screaming that he was getting a lawyer, that the company could not take away "his" money.

He was really wrong to do that. He got called to the carpet in a payroll audit about all the time he was out of the office and days that he didn't declare that he was out of the office. He made some big threats and ended up getting fired for his behavior.

I always thought it was dumb that I am required to do a timesheet for my hours, as a salaried employee. But the time sheets are to report those vacation hours, the sick hours, the bereavement and personal hours. And on days when I'm on vacation but actually end up doing work, you better believe I account for the time I'm working. So sometimes a vacation day is reported as 6 hours due to me getting called upon to help. And no one questions that. I'm nothing but lawful good when it comes to these things.

As today is a holiday, I am not working working. I've checked email, I looked at Slack. Several employees at the company are working (it is a 24/7 organization) so there is chatter out in the world. There is an event happening tomorrow that requires digital support so we got things ready on Friday and are standing by for any last minute changes.

But I'm not working. That's not work. That's just paying attention. Case in point, I just saw an email come up with some concerns about the thing tomorrow, and a reply from someone that I really want to jump on, but I'm literally ignoring it (and it is killing me) because it is a freaking holiday.

I've got a few days scheduled off this year to keep under the threshold. But I promise next year that we will go do some fun stuff. Doug doesn't have a lot of earned vacation time yet. He had two days and used them in September to come down to New Orleans with me, as previously reported. I want him to save up some hours so in the spring we can do something like maybe go see Aaron in Oregon, and the new boat business.

I did take the day before my birthday and my birthday off, for the first time. I have a colleague who always takes their birthday off and they told me once that people should always do that. And if your birthday falls on a weekend, take off Friday or Monday or why not both. Treat yourself. So this year, I do not think we'll go anywhere for my birthday (like the days of old when we went to Montreal) but I'm going to stay at home and treat myself. Mimosa Monday Morning and Birthday something or other. Why the hell not?

So, what have I done so far with my day off? Well. Every six or so weeks, my dishwasher is smelly, and I get mad at it, and I clean it. I rip it apart, clean it, bleach it, swear and yell at it. I have never had a dishwasher that does this. The trap/filter area in the bottom of the dishwasher never fully drains, and I do not think the heated dry/sanitizer works because when I open the dishwasher after it runs, everything is still wet. There's something not right, and after weeks and weeks it just starts to go afoul. That got done, and things are much less stinky. My new philosophy is to leave the dishwasher door open at night so it isn't sealed up tight, and it can air out. We'll see how that goes.

 Geoff and I baked cookies.

I am about to vacuum.

I scrubbed the walls of our upstairs shower and will be scrubbing the tub next (so I can take a shower myself, in a nice clean spot).

Doug did 6 loads of laundry over the weekend. It all needs to be folded. I will get it folded.

Geoff and I gave the dog a bath. We've been here two full years and have not bathed her here. Before that it was the summer of 2017 and we would take her swimming a lot, and she was always kind of clean and nice after, even without soap, so she never really needed it. We used to take her (and the other two, Jack and Gonzo) to a DIY dog wash in Salisbury. All three of us (Doug, Geoff and I) would bring the pack up there, and wash them up, get their nails trimmed (the dude that worked there was amazing). But we didn't do this frequently. So the last time must have been somewhere in 2016. I remember he had a cinnamon soap that was a homemade concoction for flea/tick repellant and I loved it.

So right now I have a big snoring clean dog. She needs a good brushing, but as I've traumatized her pretty badly with the bath, I'll hold off on brushing her.

And I'm going to make a pie. And a Tuna Casserole for dinner.

That's the story of my day off work. It's pretty exciting. And worth it. Time off is time on, in some ways. But very differently.

Right. Time to vacuum, since the laptop is about to die. Gotta get on with my many things of doing on this non-work day.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Am I Happy

Just celebrated our 2 year anniversary of moving here to Maryland.

And by "celebrated" I mean we did nothing to mark the events. It is what it is. Doug was here September 15th, and then I followed (if you want go check my update at that time, here's the blog entry).

It's been a weird two years for sure. This time of year I'm especially homesick for fall and the beauty of New England. I wallow in photos that friends are posting on Facebook of trees and stuff.

Trees and stuff here are not doing as much stuff. In fact. It is October 12th today and the weather is just what I want. It was in the mid 70s. All our windows are open. And everyone back north is whining about rain and cold.

But our colors have not changed, our September and October have been exceptionally dry, so everything is just brown.

On Monday I took my dog out and I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops. My neighbor walked by in a parka, a winter hat, gloves, sweatpants, and her dog was wearing a coat.

"A true Bostonian" she pronounced me.

"It's not cold out," I replied.

"It is 45 degrees," she countered.

"I've been waiting for this," was my retort.

Our windows are open. a sheet is finally required for a good night's sleep. It is October. And I'm happy.

I just took a short walk up to a Pokéstop for a daily requirement, and am in the same t-shirt and shorts as the other day. Some guy drove down the street and looked at me as if I were naked.

Maryland, you are ridiculous.

Someone asked me if I was happy here and to be honest after two years, I do not think so. Things could be worse, and I shouldn't be sad but there it is. There it is.

There are a few things that make me happy.  I spend time thinking about this a lot.  Walking around my neighborhood tonight when I went up to the Pokéstop, I realized that while I can always hear the beltway in the distance, and sirens out on Georgia Avenue (seriously, I've never lived somewhere I can hear so many sirens) I'm in love with my sweet little quiet neighborhood.

I've gotten to know 3 of my neighbors recently. Pat and her dog Ollie are across the street and we have dog-sat for them several times. I call Ollie my fat little sausage. She is a nurse. Ollie is a 13 year old Jack Russell Terrier.

Catty Corner to us is Tony and Becky, and they had a baby in June. I've spent time with Tony more than Becky, but both of them are lovely. Tony likes jam bands and metal. And craft brewing. They helped us out with Brodie during our last trip while Geoff was out at work. We brought him back some beers and pralines from New Orleans.

And directly next door is a very old couple, only they are not a couple. Anna is the woman, and she is the caretaker for Bob. I thought they were married but she corrected me a few weeks back when they got a taxi back from the grocery.

People take walks, and a lot of people have dogs and babies or dogs or babies. Sitting out on the porch in the morning with coffee this time of year there are a lot of waves and hellos as folks walk past.

My neighborhood is delightfully quaint.

Doug continually finds things for us to do. Last weekend we went to the Dumbarton Oaks and went to the gardens. It was lovely. You had to pay admission, as opposed to the Arboretum which is free, so fewer people were there.

I loved it. I loved the grounds and the walk and the flowers and hills. I loved the building, and sitting in this pavillion reading a poem around the interior that read:

"Feathers in a row
Measured left to right -
How shall you chart the morning
How track the heels of night."

There is a library and museum there that are free, and we are saving that for a horrible winter's day for a visit.

We will for sure be back to this garden in the spring, and summer, and many more times, I'm sure.

But still, I am not at home here. I am planning Jess' Christmas trip here, and looking forward in two weeks to my sister coming to visit so we can attend a house concert at my friend Sara's place for Joe Pisapia.

I am not sure how long it takes to feel it is ... mine. Home. This. You know? I suppose that I should just let that longing go. Recently something happened at work that was people related and I was not happy about it, and my colleague asked me "what did you expect? Can you just let that go, that you want Boston while you are here?"

And I think I do need to let Boston go. But how do you do that?

So much a part of me, as the blog entry I link to reads,

17 years on Long Island. Up to Massachusetts in 1984, with little side jaunts to Oregon and Atlanta. Back to Massachusetts in 1992. There ever since.

That's a lot.

Anyway, I'm looking at the rest of the calendar year and it doesn't look like I'll end up back north before the end of 2019 unless (God Forbid it 1000 times) something happens with my parents.

So I need to embrace stuff about down here.

Here's something that makes me happy.  By my office, there is a vacant lot. Locals to the NOMA neighborhood use it as dog park of sorts. There is one a few blocks to the east that they are supposed to use but they don't.

I stop to look at dogs in the morning or the afternoon. It sometimes makes me late for work, or late for home, but, it is worth it.

There is this one guy with a yellow lab named Samson. I do not know the dog dad's name (oh I did at one point but cannot recall) and I love to talk to him. He does politics and policy and recently quit his job. He is so young and lovely. I really like him. He's so friendly, a Texan from Austin... he likes Pokémon (He's seen my phone) and we have a lovely chat when we see each other. His dog has a game he plays with two tennis balls. You throw one, he goes and gets it, and waits for you to throw the second ball and he brings both back.

This guy knows all the dogs, and will tell me their names and stories. Since he quit his job he has been walking dogs and dog sitting for his neighbors.

I have to say he's the highlight of coming to or leaving from work. I'll try and get a picture of him and/or his dog.  You have to see this DC power couple.

That's kind of a big part of my joy. I'm sitting here thinking on Samson and what's his name. How sad is it that this guy and his go are my favorite things about DC?

Maybe I need a therapist? Or maybe more time?

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.