Saturday, November 17, 2007

the cafe question

What is it about coffee shops? On any given weekday you can go into any given coffee shop anywhere and see dozens of people milling about, casually sipping and eating and reading and it's freakin' noon on a Tuesday and you're like, don't these people work? Don't they have jobs? Families? Lives? They can't all be students and trustafarians and musicians in struggling rock bands who live at home with their moms. Or computer technicians drumming up work.

Right now, they are allegedly musicians who are singing Franki Valli tunes while the Doors are playing on the stereo. They look kind of old to be living at home, but with the size of some of the homes around here, their parents probably don't even know they are even there. Maybe displaced ski school instructors?

Since the phenomenon called the internet is unknown in the town I live in now, I've had to spend a considerable amount of time in coffee shops and libraries. Shamelessly enjoying chais in the former and taxpayer's money in the latter while looking for work, IMing friends, working on my websites, reading emails, blogging and sitting on comfy chairs. Oh yes, and enjoying my temporary reprieve from the working world. Of which sphere, I might add, I have rejoined as of last Monday. So, I've had a lot of time to observe this social group.

I know we are designed, weaned, trained from Day 1 to be productive members of society. And we are heavily guilted into believing that must involve some sort of droning repetitive pod-like dress-coded work for a larger corporate cause, a consumerist mechanism, a nice happy conglomerate. But, I have no idea how people come in here EVERY day! Egads! Don't they get sick of the food selection at least? The same people all day. If this were a bar, they'd be the town drunks. Wouldn't the conversation get dull? If you don't work and see the same people in the same place day after day, I mean, wouldn't you run out of things to say? Interesting things anyway?

Is the cafe question purely rhetorical or is there an explanation?

the duke of disaster and princess pansy

Susan told me that when one lives in CO, one assumes a new identity, a persona if you will. She had her alter ego. Shannon had hers. However, she then mentioned that I already had my CO persona going on even in MA, so never fear change. Always fear change.

Now, I fear my husband has assumed his. The self proclaimed Duke of Disaster has emerged in full force, complete with new facial hair which includes a full goatee and side burns ala Elvis. He is still completely hot so I don't mind one bit. Here comes the disaster part. He telemarks. For those of you who don't know what that is, look here. Rumor has it around town from when he lived here previously, that he is the king of explosions. Back in my Mount Snow days, we'd call when skiers fell, spectacularly or not so much, while simultaneously losing most of their equipment across the trail, as having a "yard sale." He goes from a yard sale straight to full explosion and has made a name from himself for the regularity of which he accomplishes this miraculous feat. The Duke of Disaster rules.

Since I am a chicken, complete with pompadour, and refuse to get off my snowboard to learn to tele, I am now Princess Pansy. It's great being a princess finally. Next week when the mountain finally opens, I will insist on getting my out-of-shape royal bottom on the less than royal chair lift right to the top and then take the sissy (read sissy for CO - double diamond in VT) trails down back to the bottom. Let the Duke have the back bowls. Pansy indeed.

But, will we be able to change, chameleon-like, back into our not as exotic East Coast personas on the plane back to MA?? Will our adoring public, oops, friends, recognize us?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

an aspen grows in colorado

There's a tree in our yard. On purpose. You know, the 3'x8' patch of grass that we "mow" with a weedwacker? We just had an Aspen tree planted and so far it seems to like us and some of the leaves are still on it. Maybe hummingbirds will nest there next summer? Here it is:
Don't mind the fence, it's a little tired today. It's really a nice cast iron fence with a gate in the front. I am going to mow this afternoon before it snows again.

Monday, October 29, 2007

doin' that tiki dance

For those of you who have never been, there is a great campy Chinese food restaurant in Hyannis called Tiki Port. It's been there as long as I can remember (30 years anyway) and I'm pretty sure that they have never updated it. The seats are red pleather, the walls dark and one room has a mural that goes around 2 walls. The third wall is all mirrors. The eats are cheap and good and the scorpion bowls make you giggle. We go there a lot.

It all began when I turned 21 and my friend Tricia brought me there (she had just turned 21 a month before) and the last thing I remember about that night is the 2nd headhunter and waking up at my house several hours later. No idea about what happened in between. On college breaks, we would go there, since as I mentioned before, eats are cheap and scorpion bowls make you giggle. Then I moved to Western MA and then VT and managed to return to the Port as often as I could manage.

After moving back to the Cape, during my job with the publishing company, I met a fellow Tiki (and Ring Ding) soul mate named Jenny. At last!! She too worshipped as frequently as possible at the Port and we were instantly friends for life. We even managed to get there and back on our lunch break on a number of occasions. We introduced our boyfriends to each other there. Her boyfriend ended up working with my friend Val's husband in Boston and then the four of us became six. When I left the publishing company, Jenny & I enthusiastically maintained our Tiki friendship and met there once a month to keep in touch and eat Tiki goodness. And so it evolved into many forays to the 'big city' - sometimes birthdays were celebrated there (Jenny's ended in a Ring Ding "cake" - more about Ring Dings in another blog) and we managed to have two going away parties there before we left for CO.

We're coming back to visit the Cape at Xmas so the appropriate emails were sent announcing our impending arrival and the need for Tiki. Jenny's boyfriend Jack sent me this:

I was in Hyannis this weekend and I saw Tikiport Boarding up the restaurant. They said they couldn’t afford to stay open without the large sums of money that you guys were dumping into the place. I told them that you were in Colorado so look for a Tiki opening near you soon!

Always the practical joker that one... See you there in December!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

cookin' with gas

Have you purchased a new stove lately? Did you need specific dimensions? Did it need to be a slide-in? Gas? We did. We bought a new appliance with a lot of specifications. The joys of married life indeed. After the avocado green one was determined to be too old and dangerous to work, we scampered to the nearest Sears outlet with Consumer Reports in hand and tried to pick a stove.

I love to cook. My husband loves to save money. We live at 9,000 ft above sea level so a convection oven was an option so that we could cook anything in under 2 days. With the other specs needed, we settled on a lovely black Maytag for less than I thought and more than my husband was expecting. Eek. The plumber finally came and adjusted the piping, Randy installed a new electrical outlet (gas uses electric pilots now) and voila! the stove was installed. Hooray, the house no longer smells like gas and all of the burners work.

Here's the first home cooked meal in a week (we've been living on take-out and sandwiches until now):
It's chicken marsala, pasta and we had artichokes that only took 45 min. to cook! Yes this is the corner of our kitchen. The little window looks into the "breakfast nook" which consists of a bench seat and countertop to eat at. Dining table to come.

Funny side story - we were in the front yard yesterday (the one I use a weed wacker to maow the lawn for) and the postmistress walked by (we live next to the p.o.). Her father used to own the house before Randy bought it and she grew up in it, so she has a slightly vested interest in what we are doing to the house. We told her the progress of the stove's installation and mentioned the old one that was in the house. To our surprise, it was original to the house when she moved into it in 1957. Was it really time to replace it??

way too nice

We stopped at a local nursery a few days ago to buy a tree (an Aspen of course) and began discussing the world in general with the co-owner. Got to love the off season for time to chat with people. He was originally from Indiana and we got on the subject of how nice people are here. No, I mean genuinely nice. No facades, no agendas, just nice. His theory was that as settlers began moving West, that the most open minded, laid back and adventuresome moved the furthest West. These qualities magnified in intensity the further West you went until you hit LA. No explanation needed there. What a theory and one that explained a multitude of ideologies and behaviors.


The proof came shortly thereafter as we both adventured into the most notoriously rude and horrendous destinations one could end up in - the registry and the grocery store. Safeway (based in CA) has to be THE friendliest grocery store I have ever been in. At least 4 employees, of which there were numerous in view at all times unlike Home Depot or Walmart, asked if needed help finding anything and several just chatted. One in particular had his family in the town I live in now and his wife's family was born and raised in Gilman (a former mining town and now a Superfund site). They even offered to carry out my groceries. And I don't look helpless or old. Wow.

Now for something really impossible to believe - the registry. In CO, the state police stations are called Justice Centers (I was waiting for Aquaman & Wonder Woman to come out of the main courtroom). To get your car registered here, you go to the Justice Center, the make sure your car is not stolen (takes about 10 minutes and we didn't have to wait). You then go to you insurance agent for your paperwork (again, about 10 minutes and no waiting). So far so good. We were really batting 1,000 as all of this was 3:00 Friday afternoon. Impossible to even get someone's attention in MA at that time if you are lucky enough to get them in the office. Armed with our paperwork and some good new stories of our town (one of the agents was raised there and was married there) off we went to the Eagle County Court House which is where the registry is. In we went. No lines. No waiting. A smiling, helpful and super friendly woman at the counter who didn't mind that we both were standing in front of her with several transactions to make each. 20 minutes later, new CO license plates in hand and completely dumbfounded that we had done all of this in less than an hour.

The sour taste from my MA insurance agent is finally going away and memories of standing, sitting, endless paperwork, rudeness and ennui of the MA DMV staff are dimming. Which one was the dream? I am convinced that the nursery man was right on the money with his theory. We have been here a week (ONLY a week?) and have dealt with plumbers, the DMV, grocery stores, and retail store staff. All nice. Pinch me.

a few minutes later

Shortly after my breakdown, Randy came into Loaded Joe's after his meeting. His first question was "do you want to meet my ex? she's right over there." Good grief. I was a blubbering mess of course. I knew the time of our meeting would come eventually and that I would be unprepared for it, but I had no idea that it would be when I couldn't have been more at my worst. At least I wasn't wearing sweatpants and my hair was not up in a ponytail.

She reminded me of my friend Susan a lot. Randy has also said that and if circumstances were different, that the ex and I would have been great friends. No I am not taking applications. She and Susan are both Leos (of course) and of the smart, tall and graceful variety. The kind of women that, not on purpose, make you feel slightly awkward and uneasy about measuring up. Whoa, echoes of being around BPs in high school (of which I certainly was not one). They both are practical jokers and love to torment those they love although I'm not sure that the ex ever would have given Randy a wedgie and gotten away with it.

She was everything that I am not: a very successful environmentalist who founded and runs the Gore Range Natural Science School who's also getting her PhD, has a boatload of other degrees, has been there and done that, is related to famous people, is pretty and well dressed. She was very gracious as Randy introduced us and explained that I was all red eyed and red nosed because I had just read my best friend's blog on my leaving and that it was the one piece that made me realize that we were not on vacation.

Of course, when you meet your spouse's ex, there is always the "how do I measure up" feeling and the general comparisons on all levels. How did I end up with Randy if that was who he was with before? Was it the Birkenstocks? Was it my Toyota Camry? Was it location, location, location? My witty turn of a phrase? My crazy hair? Was he indeed bribed by Susan? Who knows. Wow, without knowing what I was up against when I first met my husband, I guess I passed his test.

As I shook her hand and looked her in the eye, I was no longer intimidated or awkward. She was exactly the nice person who I imagined my husband would have been with and was proud that he dated her. Woops, did I just grow up here??

Thursday, October 25, 2007

am I here yet?

Moving to CO was a little like moving to the next town. There was way too much crap to fit in all of the boxes (even though the Eastham Swap Shop LOVED me for a few days with my constant deliveries). Where does all of this stuff come from?? I mean really, did I actually buy all of that or, like 8th grade biology class taught us, was it all a result of spontaneous generation? That must be it.

The trailer, truck and car are all unloaded. Finally. Egads. The stove we bought in August was hooked up yesterday. Some new furniture arrived this morning. Dishes are unpacked and are in use. The coffee maker and tea pot have both been unearthed from their respective boxes. The new vacuum is still in its box and probably will stay there for some time yet. The much needed humidifier was turned on and goes through 2 gallons of water a day. The Venta Air Washer really is all they say it is and I'm not one for plugging a brand but with no deeescusting filters to touch or change, I was sold. So much for the household stuff.

A trip to the registry is planned for tomorrow. Well, that was in response to Pike Insurance going ahead and cancelling my MA policy without telling me. It expires Saturday. Oh well - nothing like the present. The registry is near the closest bowling alley so we're psyched to go and bowl a few frames while waiting.

It's still a little surreal being here though. We've spent all of our vacations here and everything was a mad rush to fit everything in and visit with our friends here. Now we can see them next week. Or the week after. My husband went skiing yesterday and that's when it hit him that we're here to live. Not me. Not yet.

Until I just read my friend Susan's blog about my leaving and wept. In public at Loaded Joe's. I'm here. Not there.

A new adventure indeed. Bittersweet and scary and exciting.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

well, we're on battle mountain

The journey across country was uneventful - the cats only howled for the first 2 hours each day and then passed out from exhaustion. By the time we hit Buffalo, we figured out that if you covered the back seat and made it dark and let them out of their crates, they thought that they were under the bed. Sweet! Voila! No more meowing. They love Motel 6 now too.

Things to ponder - as you travel westward, the people get nicer (seriously!) and the bathrooms get cleaner. Also, in Iowa & Nebraska, we did not see one non-Caucasian working in the travel stops' fast food chains. The country is far bigger than you think it is and it makes the chaos and concentrated populations of the East Coast very outstandingly ugly.

Dilemma - where do we watch the Red Sox vs. Rockies baseball game?? Do we hunt down other East Coast transplants and hang with them? Do we keep quiet with our friends here - all avid Rockies supporters? Do we stay home and watch Law & Order?

Here's what we left (camera phone photo - sorry):





And here's what greeted us in Denver (again, camera phone sorry):

Nothing like a sunset over the Rockies. Except 8" of snow the next day! Glad we put the shovels on top of the other stuff.

Where's my snowboard?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

music and more music

We're getting an iPod. No, really. We are. At last, we too shall be like those happy folks on tv just dancing wildly to the coolest of cool music. Watching videos. Podcasts. True bliss as interpreted by the advertising agencies that run our every waking moment!

No one warned me about the interminable downloading of cd's. We have hundreds of cd's and after two weeks straight of daily downloading, now have 13 days worth of music. We aren't even half way through our collection. Not only has this been a test of my computer's tolerance, but proof of the Pavlovian training involved with hearing the "end of the download" jingle combined with a semi-aerobic work out.

Thusly:
Turn on tv/pack boxes for moving.
Absorb drivel/curse packing boxes for moving.
Hear jingle.
Jump up.
Trip over cats.
Run 3 feet to computer.
Eject cd.
Insert new cd.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Periodically get new stack of cd's from shelves.

My life in a nutshell. But, for 13 days, I won't hear the same song repeated. Every James Taylor, Ben Harper, Grateful Dead, Chucklehead, Babaloo, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Bonnie Raitt song recorded in one place. All of the 80's music I loved. In one place.

Now how do I plug it in?

and then there was tea

As we are getting ready to depart this coast, my friend Susan asked, "what would you like to do before you go?" Of course, have tea with her and Sarah, children optional, location negotiable, clotted cream an absolute must.

Here's what I got Tea At Sarah's and it was ALL THAT. Her garden is incredibly beautiful and as I've mentioned before, her house is like an overflowing treasure chest. Every time I go inside, I can't even hold a conversation and look around at the same time. There are so many cool things everywhere that I can't even believe it. It was the perfect setting.

Little did I realize that I would get a "real" tea cup too. And that we would use her grandmother's silver tea pot. I do not share my friends' addictions to porcelain or tea thingies, so I was stumped at the offer of getting to choose my very own tea cup to use for real (a cool old one with little purple flowers on it). Most people offer me paper or plastic cups. They know. Was she kidding? I was sure that the cup I chose was 100 years old and a family heirloom and that I would smash it into a thousand bits before the tea was even in it. "Yard sale" she told me - no worries! Susan picked the cup with Queen Elizabeth II on it. No comment. Studley got the matching mug.

There were four "big" people and two "little" people. Studley and Lucy Carol (the little people) got their very own tea table, cups, plates and "tea" (apple juice in case you need to know) and decorative gourds. While the big girls were chowing on curried chicken, salmon, and cucumber sandwiches, they got hummus, apples, carrots and crackers. Studley put his plate on his head, it was empty at the time, and Lucy Carol informed him in a quite authoritative tone, "Simon, that is not how we take tea." There was snorting at the adult table.

Sarah's husband hid in the house and refused to come out. He had "important computer work to do" - guess he didn't see the boxes of goodies that we unpacked from the Dunbar Tea Room. My husband would have jumped right in and joined us. Mmmm, goodies. I'm hungry just thinking about it.

We chatted. We ate. We ate some more. Studley and Lucy Carol went to play with/feed/harass the chickens. Then we noticed Studley on the riding mower next to the coop. His hands were on the wheel moving it back and forth. There was a moment when we all considered that he would ride off on the thing. Sarah mentioned that it didn't have any gas in it. But Steve had just filled it. Uh, oh. Was the key in the ignition? Yes, again uh, oh. Would he know where the ignition was? Sure enough, he was reaching for the key and trying to turn it. The Son of McGyver knows these details. Sarah raced across the yard and extracted said key. Let him try hot wiring it - that would take a while as his fingers are small.

Oh, did I mention that he's a toddler still in diapers? Speaking of, he then started shouting "poopie!" and facing us. Observation or statement? Was this a commentary on the tea? On our "girlie" conversation in general? Was there dog doo next on the ground? Chicken doo? Or had this been the reason behind riding on the mower? To drive it to the bathroom as he was referring to the state of his diaper? Lucy Carol confirmed the latter as she announced, "Simon has to poop." Clearly, the adults needed the clarification.

And all these years, I thought tea was for the snooty mcsnooters. Tea comes to the common (wo)man.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

the missing link

What is the phenomenon in women that causes pants' hemlines to rise alarmingly but not fashionably, purses to expand in enormity, and eye wear to increase in size and grotesqueness as they age?

This phenomenon crosses all fashion, ethnic, economic and social boundaries - go check it out. See for yourselves - the grocery store is a great place to start.

Perhaps it is inherent in women themselves? Seriously, is this something we all have to look forward to as we age? Is this the one vital thing our mothers forgot to tell us when they gave us the birds & bees, boys, growing up, drugs, roles in society and responsibility lectures in hopes we would be prepared for the big scary world?

Maybe it was too much for them to bear telling us that as we got "older," not only would our life, love, beauty and happiness diminish (in theory), but that the very most basic items of our female lives - purses, glasses and pants - would so unstylishly spiral out of control?

Is there a correlation between responsibility and hemlines? A link between obligation and handbags? Maturity and spectacles?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

the dalai lama

He lives in the Colorado house. Well, a picture of him anyway.

Between bemoaning the vileness of the renters' filth and actually cleaning it up, we stopped in for dinner at a local popular restaurant, which normally is packed with a two hour wait in season. As luck would have it, was only 1/3 full this night and we were seated at a corner table by a very friendly maitre d'. Prime real estate! The waitress came up to the paper covered table (crayons were of course provided), wrote her name upside down and facing us on the paper while simultaneously introducing herself, pouring olive oil in a dish, and describing the specials. Impressive.

Wine and food were ordered, bread was eaten and my husband began drawing his ideas for the house addition on the table paper. I'm not sure this is what the town was envisioning when they told us to draw up our ideas or not though. This drew the curiosity of not only the waitress upon her return, but of the maitre d'. In the off season, there is plenty of time to chat, and chat we did with both of them. They ultimately asked if we were local, we looked at each other, and said "we are now - we've just moved back into our house!" The host promptly said he'd be right back as he had a house warming gift for us.

A gift? Seriously? He came back and handed us a photo of the Dalai Lama. A real unframed photo, not a stock promo shot, of the Dalai Lama laughing which the maitre d' had received when he met the Dalai Lama during his most recent US visit. What an amazing gift!

That gift blesses our home and as the Dalai Lama says, "Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions." No wonder the maitre d' was so happy. An inspiration to us all.

taking a simple test

Recently a friend sent me this link to "The Tibetan Personality Test" which supposedly is endorsed by the Dalai Lama himself. He of whom we have a photo. Story to come next. Anyway, you answer four questions and the answers determine your priorities in life, what you think of certain things in your life, where certain people stand in your life (Val you and I are the same color for each other and my husband is red) and then the inevitable "if you don't send it to some many people in this time period, your wish will not come true."

So my wish probably won't come true since I don't usually send those things along. However, I do have to admit that sometimes they are kind of fun to take. I was discussing the results with Lady Trout and I mentioned that "family" came up as my top priority. Career and money being down at the bottom of the list. No surprises there. The family result I found to be amusing since being an only child of divorced parents, what posed for normal was certainly not the Norman Rockwell ideal.

She also thought that, actually, the family being my priority was accurate. She went on to comment, that she believed that I had reinvented the meaning of family. Perhaps I have. My family consists of not only my actual relatives and spouse, but also of friends who have become as close as siblings.

There are connections with friends not only on a surface level, such as mutual likes/dislikes, commonalities and whatnot, but on a soul level as well. Something you can't explain. Does this kind of deep connection mean that you've been with that person in another life? Some may think so. How would you explain it? There really are soul siblings as well as soul mates.

My sense of family has indeed been redefined over the years by learning one very important lesson: I don't believe that since you are related to someone, that gives them full autonomy to treat you in any way they choose. I mean really - why on earth would you EVER tolerate someone treating you poorly, being disrespectful, or rude just because you are related to them? Would you ever tolerate it from a stranger, co-worker, acquaintance or friend? No. Does being related somehow make it right or acceptable? No. What misplaced sense of obligation/loyalty causes this acceptance? And why would there be guilt that it's unacceptable?

To me, it is that black & white. It's not an excuse for "not making the best of unpleasant situations" or avoiding relatives so I don't have to deal with them. I have indeed learned the lesson they have for me.

Life is short and there are lessons to learn from all people who come into your life. Surround yourself with those who make you happy. Who makes you a better person? Who challenges your intellect? Choose to spend time with these people. And just do it. Frequently.

My family of choice is one that I wish upon everyone. They make me a better person. And, when it comes right down to it, shouldn't that be the goal of every family?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

mac or pc?

Guess what? My laptop is finally letting me know it's tired. It's 5 years old and I guess it doesn't owe me a thing, but the prospect of getting a new one is making me queasy. Or was that lunch? Not sure.

I have friends in both camps - pc & mac. Of course, when I price them out, the ones I chose are at least $2,000 with all the bells & whistles. I mean really, if you are going to drop dime on a computer, shouldn't it last at least a year?

All of my programs are pc versions but old. The thought of having to replace Photoshop & Dreamweaver - ugh! PC's are the most software-compatible hardware and seem to be universal in oh so many ways. I hate Vista which is why I would even consider a Mac. Bill Gates can you hear me? It's NOT good. I find the jumping icons on Macs annoying. I don't care about cosmetics, am not a gamer or video person and don't even own an iPod. Yet. I want a computer that rocks, hard.

Any suggestions out in blogger land?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Shriek outs

Unlike a "shout out" - a "shriek out" is just that. When that is the only reaction that you could possibly have.

Yesterday was a banner day in the shriek department.

Shriek out #1: To my peeps at the Towers. Congrats on now having 7 cars, 5 adults, 2 children, 5 chickens, 1 dog and 1 cat. The shriek is for the addition of one adult-a new boyfriend who is SUPER nice.

Shriek out #2: The cost of getting my wedding dress cleaned. Yikes!

Shriek out #3: My small friend Studley. He, his mother & I were in the coffee aisle of Trader Joe's and I told here that there were two kinds of coffee that were really good (French Roast and Moka Java). She was in front of the unleaded versions and said, "they don't have that one in my weenie version." To which Studley used his outdoor voice and said "weenie! weenie!" The shopper next to us snorted as he walked by.

Shriek out #4: My friend Susan. For being brave enough to buy, and use, a new hair color.

Shriek out #5: Sarah's suggestion about meeting for lunch and then going to 4 Seas Ice Cream. Oh, and also for her fabulous house which is like an overflowing treasure chest.

Shriek out #6: For my Liz Kinder birthday present. Thank you Lady Trout.

Shriek out #7: To my indoor cat Mercedes. For calmly eating some plants outside and not running away after jumping out of the open kitchen window.

marginal?

What is it about people not thinking before speaking? I don't know about you, but that was a childhood lesson right up there with please and thank you. OK, we're all guilty of doing it, but I'm still appalled at what I hear.

Example #1: The last job I had was, initially, a great job. Until I began to notice the extremely high rate of employee turn over. Eeek. One of these numerous new hires was subjected to the always embarrassing "meet the new/current employees" gathering.** There were 5 people at the table. Four of whom already knew each other. I was odd man out. So I looked at the new hire and told her who I was and what I brought to the job. Including that I had a Master's degree. She was very nice and mentioned her qualifications (she had been CEO of a non-profit company, etc.) and that she never finished her MA as she didn't see the point. We laughed about that, but, not to be outdone, the boss jumped in and said, "well you should tell her what your MA is actually in, since it's not really relevant to what we do here."

WHAT?! When does higher education not matter? And, looking around, I realized I was the ONLY one with a MA at the table. Now, I do realize that an MA in European Renaissance Art History isn't currently in high demand, but it sure does make me an intelligent employee. Was I being put down for being more educated than anyone else at the table? Was she trying to make me look like an idiot since I had a degree that their new hire did not? Or was she just an imbecile?

Later that day, the new hire was being shown around the office, and upon entering my designated space in hell, the boss said, "this is where the marginal employees work" as her way of introducing it. Again, WHAT??? Was that really out loud? I'm going with the aforementioned imbecile conclusion. The new employee had the grace to look embarrassed but the boss kept rambling on unimpeded by propriety.

I wrote my notice that night and left the company shortly thereafter. Oh, I absolutely have to post here the job notice as it actually appeared on Craig's List (really!) advertising my vacated position. It was also the impetus for the woman who had been hired to replace me to depart forthwith.

Looking For A detailed orented Person With A Medical, Health Care , or Clinical Backround. Must Understand Progrm Consepts. Company Developes Programs For Doctors To Communicate With Patient Reserch. If intrested Please Call Maria or Mandy At 508-***-**** Or email Maria at [email address removed] The position Is a Permanent placememt full time with a salery of 40-60 thousand per yer based on Experience.
Location: Welfleet

I immediately sent my resume to the staffing agency that posted this since they clearly need a copy editor. Oh, make that my marginal resume.

Example #2: A person we know received a message, "We have a project and only need a moderately competent person to complete it. Would you be interested?" I don't think the call was returned.

Shouldn't you at least say please when asking someone to do something for you? Or is that now only moderately appropriate? Or just marginal?


**My friend Valerie was tortured by a similar experience - a new boss asked what he should say about her [this after 4 interviews with him]. She noticed that he had her name on his sheet as Natalie. She mentioned that she would like him to perhaps get her name right.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Birthdays

I like birthdays. Other people's especially. Even more when there is cake. I mean GOOD cake. Not the glop from the supermarket that makes your teeth itch and tongue feel greasy from the lard in the frosting.

When I met my husband, his family had a tradition of all getting together for one another's birthdays. Usually not on the day itself, but somewhen shortly thereafter. I came from a family where there were no themed birthday parties of 52 squealing children meant more to impress the mothers than the kids. No pony rides. No clowns (thank goddess on that one). Mine were more subdued and generally made up of my parents and/or my grandparents. Maybe going out to dinner. But there was cake. Glorious cake home-made by my mom. Yum. Perfect.

But something happened and the family birthdays slowed down and have now come to a complete halt. How sad. We don't get to see each other all that often and kids grow up so fast. What a shame. So much cake to be had.

Stemming from the family birthdays, the tradition of regularly getting everyone together in the midst of our busy lives was very appealing to me. The birthday part was just an excuse. My husband and I are blessed with some really great friends and maybe this was a way to make sure we all stayed in regular contact. Thus "the usual suspects" came into being. Coincidentally enough, there was a birthday almost every month. Sometimes two!

The birthday person gets to pick where they want to go and/or what they want to do. Sometimes it's dinner at a place we haven't been in a while or sometimes it's trampolines, sometimes it's a party under a tarp. When one of the suspects had a baby, there was a tutu party. We all wore tutus and it was a blast! Her children have been firmly embraced in this tradition and are just as much a part of this group as the rest of us. One member moved to Boston, several new ones have joined up or have been sucked in. Willingly. Sometimes different circles of friends overlap and start their own friendships. The fluidity is great. But the best part? They all get along even with very different political, religious, social, economic and personal views. There are no arguments, no bickering or posturing, no "oh no, we have to go to that party with them - can we avoid it?" Proving that this "village" of people can make a difference. They do to me anyway. New ideas are born and encouraged, new friendships made, different points of view are listened to respectfully. Old stories are told, new ones are created.

And there is always cake.

Flocks of Hummingbirds

Another lifetime ago, I was intorduced to Colorado on a tip. Literally, I received a plane ticket and accommodations at Copper Mountain as a tip while bartending at the Snow Barn at Mount Snow in Vermont. Seriously proving that you can never tell what drunk people will do. Anyway, I LOVED Colorado and after snowboarding my face off for the allotted two weeks, I was always hoping to go back. I liked everything about it.

Well, a number of years later, I re-met my now husband (long story) who, coincidentally enough, owned a house in CO and voilĂ ! The tenants announced that they were moving out in April. My dream of returning was soon to be realized. Huzzah!

So, after much plotting, planning and packing, we were off to the Rockies. Thirty-six hours later, we stopped at Garfinkel’s and had a few beers with my husband’s sister and brother-in-law and some of our friends from the area. Sitting at a ski resort’s slopeside bar in the summer when there are only 20 people in the place is a little disconcerting. One bartender, not five. Twenty customers, not hundreds. Sunny skies, green slopes, flowers, marmots and magpies everywhere. The song of the mountains was music to this Virgo's soul.

Enough cocktails later, off to the house we went. To find disaster where once a home had stood. And I do mean disaster. The tenants left the place befouled, besmirched and we were stunned that people could chose to live in such revolting conditions. I've been in cleaner fraternity houses. Really.

We slept on blankets on the floor that night, rather than the broken and cushionless full size couch that they had so graciously left in the middle of the living room, and woke up with rashes. In the daylight, the horror continued. Part of the front door was ripped off. The front fence was broken and sagging (it was otherwise a beautiful wrought iron picket fence) and the yard was in shambles. There was unspeakable filth all over the walls and ceiling of every room in the house. I think they were making beer at one point. I hope that's what it was anyway. Bugs in the cabinets from all the leftover dog food. Unidentifiable substances in the refrigerator from April. Broken windows and shelves, carpets that had been used by the three dogs living there. Three? There was a dead 8 person jacuzzi in the backyard next to a makeshift fire pit only feet from the house. Hello - anyone heard of wildfires in CO? Jackasses. As the day drew on, my disillusionment grew. The gross lack of respect only further proves my husband's and my theory that our society certainly is training its members well to not be accountable for their actions. Never mind being ashamed of bad behavior. But I digress.

While evaluating our situation, I looked out of the window to notice our next door neighbor sitting on his porch, playing a guitar and drinking his coffee. There were flowers all around him and several largish buzzing insects. Bugs? Here at 9,000 feet? No, wait! Hummingbirds!Positively squealing with joy, I ran out to meet this neighbor and get a closer look. Nick, a very pleasant man from somewhere in England by his accent, patiently informed me that there were indeed hummingbirds in my new home town. LOTS of them.

Later on that day, after spending over $500 in cleaning products, including enough toxic waste to kill every cootie that could possibly exist in the bathtub, we came back to find a hummingbird feeder and food on the stoop. No note. We promptly hung it up and waited to see who would come by. At 9pm, it was more likely to be some of the local color than a bird, I have to admit. The next morning we were rewarded by a whizzing noise followed by a ruby-throated humming bird. Then another. And another.

The symbolism of hummingbirds is this: "It is said that Hummingbird brings love as no other medicine can, and its presence brings joy to the observer. If you have Hummingbird medicine, you adapt easily to whatever situation you may find yourself in, and make the most of your new circumstances. You don't waste time looking back and wishing for "what was" for you are concerned with making the most of "what is." You take great pleasure in spreading joy and love and beauty to all around you, and have the gift of taking that inner joy into new and different surroundings. You have a talent for finding the good in people, and are not put off by a gruff or abrupt exterior, for you know that, if you can only get beyond that tough outside layer, you'll find goodness and beauty inside."

How appropriate. We were home.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

moving westward

“Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.” -Dr. Seuss

We're coming back. That's the plan.

After living here on the sandy peninsula of Codness, we have chosen to remove ourselves to the Rockies. Why you may ask? Because we can. Simple as that.

Why don't you buy a house here? Have children? Settle down? (my mother) - because we don't want to - on all points. Nor do we have to. We have not chosen the traditional (and expected) route for married couples.

Practically speaking, housing prices are prohibitive on the peninsula and desireable jobs/employers are few and far between. Besides mom, we already own a home. Which is almost entirely paid off. It's just 2,000 miles away.

We haven't started packing yet and we're leaving in a month. Gulp. Most of our things will be in a local storage unit awaiting our return in the Spring when we set up a yurt to live in on the croquet court at Trout Towers.

My moving back from Vermont in April of 1996 was supposed to be temporary. I even kept a job there that I commuted to on the weekends throughout the summer. I grew up on this peninsula and fled the territory after graduation. I despised living here and vowed never to return. I also swore I would never marry someone I went to high school with either. The universe surely does have a sense of humor.

Why I stayed this time? There were lessons to learn and people to know and teachers to meet. A lot of things happened in my life in that time, most good, some not so much. I lost my last two grandparents, moved four times, had eight jobs (not all at once), owned three different cars (not all at once either - that's my husband), developed a taste for sushi and Wellfleet oysters, and trod water waiting for my life to happen.

It took most of those 11 years to realize that life was indeed happening all around me and to embrace the opportunities that came my way, not just ignore them while waiting for the next one that might be better. I have girl-friends for the first time in my life. Seriously, I've thought most women as too mean and petty to even deal with. I'm a smug married with an amazing husband. I learned what the meaning of trust is. And trusting myself. I learned to let go of the things in my life that don't serve me, even if it hurt. And I learned that you can overcome anything programmed into you from your childhood.

So, I'm trusting that this move is the right thing to do.

Egads, does this mean I'm a grown up?

PS: Did I mention that I love, love, love the mountains?

our friends

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” -Dr. Seuss

We have amazing friends. I can't say that enough. Every time I look at our wedding party photo on the wall, I get get goosebumps. When I get the "tiki" email from Jenny. When Mike calls to say he's on his way from points far away. When our musician friends want to help launch my husband's singing career. When Susan wants to watch "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club" with Peter Frampton and the BeeGees. When Liam comes over with a bootleg of banned/politically incorrect Warner Brother cartoons to watch.

We can all say what we feel without fear of offense. We are all honest with each other. If something is bothering someone, it gets talked about. Dinner bills are split equally with no quibbling. The most childish jokes and entertainment are delightful and memorable: Paula fan dancing with turkey decorations, Mike's rendition of fairy while playing Outburst, Jill & Wendy's "sister, disco, rainbow" in another Outburst game. Deanna dancing to "Maniac" and peeing herself (she's pregnant). It goes on. And on.

"The Friends" as my little friend Lucy calls us, are just who they are with each other and never pretend to be anything other than their authentic selves. Who could ever ask for more?

New members are born into the circle and some even elect to join willingly. Recently one of the founding members of "the Usual Suspects" (which is our local "club" that enjoys having birthday celebrations together - well, just eating together, screw the birthdays) mentioned that she sometimes felt a little awkward with her two children in tow. Well my friend, they are most assuredly part of the group. Not only as extensions of you and your husband, but as persons in their own right who make their own contributions to the world of our friends. Besides, who would I color with while you take a smelly Shorty outside?

Our most heartfelt gratitude for making our lives better for your presences in it. Thank you to all who will read this and to all who don't even know that I have. My husband and I are truly blessed.

instead of working

My husband refers to me as his "semi-retired" wife. I took the summer off.

For the second time.

The first time turned out to be a nightmare as the 401K that I hoped to have cashed out and was told all was a go in April before I quit being employed by a pompous liar with a Napoleon complex in May, now actually turned out to not be happening until September. I got the check at 2pm on December 31.

I scrambled though several part time jobs, one of which was working for the Wellfleet Beachcomber managing their retail inventory. Yessiree, I do know my way around an Excel spreadsheet and it makes my little Virgo heart happy to instill order on chaos.

In desperation, I took a full-time job in August which turned out to be more horrible than the French Revolution. Napoleon was now a paranoid Scorpio woman with control issues. I bided my time and took their money and tried not to cry before going to work.

I quit in May. I told them I was moving but I neglected to mention when. Now armed with a full bank account and no debt, I was prepared to do as little as possible. I am accomplishing this with aplomb.

I work for the Wellfleet Beachcomber 2 1/2 days a week. I sometimes work for Sumptuous Foods Catering. I go to the beach. I have read six trashy 500+ page novels in two weeks. Really trashy. The Library Ladies are so disproving that I have to wear my sunglasses and hat when I go pick them up and then furtively scurry away hoping that the new Ladies won't remember my face and point in horror when they see me in the grocery store.

I've played croquet on a Monday morning with friends and made new ones. I've played with the cats all day (which really pissed them off when they were sleeping). I go out to lunch with friends. Sometimes I nap. I go to yoga and ball class several mornings a week. I even stay up until 11 because I can.

I have not packed. Anything.

Have I mentioned that we are moving? To Colorado. In August.

Of this year.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

while i'm on a roll

Respect.

Not just Aretha deserves it. Why does it seem that people have lost respect for each other, as well as themselves? Respect covers a lot of ground. How you interact with other living beings, how you walk on the earth and see the world around you. How you treat yourself.

From simple observation, this basic tenet instilled by parents on their children at a tender age seems to have gone the way of the record player. Some people still have one and some people have no idea what it is.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Men are respectable only as they respect.” A backbone of my beliefs are summed up by the rule of three - what you put out there comes back to you threefold. More clearly stated “Treat others as you want them to treat you because what goes around, comes around.”

Is there any more to say?

the double standard of freedom of speech

Not too long ago, my husband ceased working for a Peetown client on a complete gut and renovation of their house. Let me clarify, one of their several houses. This was the never ending project - I kid you not - it started with a deck in 2003 and moved onward and upward from there. Years of working on a house that was destined for Architectural Digest. Years of making the smallest, and sometimes ridiculous, changes at a moment's notice on because that was what the client wanted and because my husband is really, really good at what he does and takes a lot of pride in his work. Years of making a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Years too of tolerating sexual harassment. Yes, that's what I said. The girl who rarely gets offended regardless of the jokes, innuendos and crass comments. He was called names that a woman would not have tolerated under any circumstances and for which she would have sued the pants off of an employer for. But in this case, these names were to be accepted you see because the client was gay. And being gay in today's society allows you to do and say pretty much anything you want without repercussions.

The "nicknames" my husband was dubbed with were something that we both ignored, excusing it as "well, that's just George's way" and leaving it at that. However, this past weekend my husband and I were in Peetown working on finishing a small carpentry job for Mark, another long time client. Well, Hot Carpenter Man was working and I was lending moral support and playing with the client's puppy. Both very important tasks.

Side note: The actual reason why my husband doesn't work for George is that he was fired. Without notice. You see the scapegoat for the inability of the sow's ear to become that silk purse became my husband. "Why this wasn't finished," "why that didn't get done on time," blah blah blah. Never mentioned was that the client called one night last summer to say "stop working, there is no more money indefinitely." Never mentioned was that the sub contractors who the client personally selected were sub standard in their work. Never mentioned was that the bathroom tiles had to be sorted by color gradation so they could be installed from lightest to darkest at a 45 degree angle outwards from the shitter.

Side note #2: Oh, one of the bonuses that came out of this? My husband paid each and every one of the sub contractors himself personally out of his own account to make sure that they wouldn't get screwed by the "ran out of money" problem despite almost going broke himself. He now has subs that will gladly work for him anytime, anywhere in a building community where you can't get an electrician or drywaller for at least 2 months out. He earned respect.

Back to Peetown. My husband mentioned to Mark that he was no longer working for George and told him briefly the circumstances why. All Mark could say is "I'm sure that he'll be backstabbing you around town like the queen he is and that you'll end up being the bad guy in this because you're straight and you can't tell a fag to go to hell. I can call him a fag but you can't."

There's that double standard of freedom of speech rearing its ugly head again. Only gay people can call each other fags or fairys or whatever with impunity. It's still an insulting thing to say. Only black/afro-american people can call other black/afro-american people "nigger" and get away with it. It's still a horrible and disrespectful word no matter what the color of the uttering mouth is. Why is it acceptable that anyone can say these things to other people at all? Never mind that our books, movies, video games etc. all make it commonplace.

Why should someone actually be responsible for what comes out of their mouth?

Why is it that Americans feel that just because it's their constitutional right to have freedom of speech that they can say absolutely whatever they want and then hide behind that First Amendment fence and thumb their noses? When insulting and degrading terms become commonplace and used without boundaries, shouldn't we look at our "freedom of speech" a little more carefully? What about respect? Calling a gay person a fag just because you are gay yourself doesn't make it right.

Just because you can say something doesn't mean you should.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

In a position to wreak havoc.

OK, so I have never wreaked (wroke?) havoc in my life. And here I was, poised on the brink...

My best-est friend asked me if I would join her in doing something completely queer. Since we both understand that "queer" really means odd and ridiculous rather than homosexual, I happily agreed to it before knowing what, in fact, we were doing. You see, we've done oodles of queer things and it ALWAYS ended up with us needing Depends and snorting & laughing until we cry.

So this queerness was a croquet clinic being held at 10am at a lovely place called Heritage Plantation in Sandwich. Of course, doing anything at 10am on a weekday that doesn't involve employment was enticing enough for me. I was in.

Suddenly, I was overwhelmed by visions of Great Gatsby-esque men & women sashaying across perfectly manicured lawns twirling croquet mallets whilst sipping on iced beverages. Actually the vision was a deja vu of a time when I attended Ocean Edge's Wine & Croquet Fundraiser in 2000 with the owners of Brewster Wine Cellar & Spirits and ended up on the society page of the Boston Globe. White dress, picture hat and all. True story.

What was I getting myself into this time? Initial costs were significantly cheaper ($10 not $250) and I was sure that no iced beverages would be served. Should I go? Would I really have to play croquet? This was a "sport" I had managed to avoid. Until now. Carpooling was arranged; there was no escape.

We met a friend of hers and her boss (yes, her boss is indeed that cool) in the parking lot and off we sauntered to the field. The field of perfection. Where the grass was so mind-numbingly green and well manicured that you immediately wanted to hurl yourself upon it and roll around shrieking "woll in da hay, woll, woll" ala Terri Garr in Young Frankenstein.

Snapping us back into reality was a very perky cruise-directorish woman who cheerily announced the start of the clinic. The clinic, ergo us, were to be duly honored by being led by a 2 time world croquet champion. A WHAT? There are world championships for this? Are you kidding?

As I glanced at the other attendees, who were nodding most gravely, I realized that we four were decades younger than everyone else there. Uh oh. Fun factor could be reduced drastically. As the honored champion began his elaborate instructions on the finer points of the strategy involved (strategy?!) and the proper way to handle a mallet, Susan started giggling when Sarah whispered in her ear, "he said shaft." He did not just say that. Being of the potty humorist ilk, we were of course, reduced to uncontrolled fits of giggling. There would be fun goddammit and we were the ones to make it.

Our professional then released us to our courts, with the directive "you're now in a position to wreak havoc." Havoc? In croquet? He just said havoc, right? Aha! We had ourselves a motto. We scampered off to find suitable whacking devices and targets, however, no one else followed our snickering quartet to the far corner; in fact they all moved away from us with suspicious glances. Perhaps we were going to come near them? Desecrate the sacred whiteness of croquet. Egads, NO!

The fun we had goes beyond words to explain it. There are photos but I have been threatened with bodily harm if I post them. I still am laughing - what a blast! When any of us actually made it through a wicket, a leaping high-five was the reward. I think our octogenarian co-attendees were jealous. We had proved that white girls, can indeed jump! We raced around the croquet court like wild women - laughing and truly enjoying ourselves in only a work-skipping, cell phone-free, temporarily childless, sunny summer weather kind of way.

After our 2 hour clinic was over, we were off in search of lunch in Audrey's convertible Beetle. Actually, tea. At the Dunbar Tea Shop. What else could we have possibly done after playing croquet? There was chicken curry. There were scones. And best of all, there were dishes of clotted cream. A tea pot with a tea cozy. And the stories. I think that was the best of all. All of us being smug marrieds, we exchanged "how we met" tales and laughed more. What a day.

Susan and I then scampered off and met up with her husband to make the kid & car swap. The truly best part of my day was when her kids repeatedly shrieked "Auntie Iss!" at the top of their lungs when I walked toward them. The perfect ending to a perfect day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cartman and Corgis

OK, so you have to admit there is something slightly wrong with the Welsh Corgi dog proving once again that the Universe does indeed have a sense of humor. If you don't know what a Corgi is, click here.

Recently, while lounging at a local bay-side beach, I noticed a woman walking her Corgi. As I was thinking, "Lady, did you not see the sign that says NO dogs on the beach after Memorial Day?" I realized that the dog was enjoying himself thoroughly, so I continued to watch without getting all righteous on the owner.

It was a very calm day on the water with an onshore breeze and an incoming tide (Craig, I do know the difference) and the waves were of the height to knock over my little friend Studley (see Trout Towers blog), so they were about 1.75 inches high. This Corgi was running, if you could call what a dog with legs a 1/2 inch high does, and leaping, yes, leaping over the lapping wavelets.

In fact, the resemblance to Eric Cartman was so strong that I started giggling. And laughing. Snorting in fact. Tears were flowing as dog's front end went up, then down, then the back end, went up, then down, to be repeated over and over again - a breaching of sorts.

Truly a vision of Cartmanesque-ness.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Word is Crapulous

The first planting in the word garden.

Crapulous is how you feel on Thanksgiving Day after ingesting two pounds of turkey, three cups of stuffing, mounds of mashed potato, and four glasses of red wine. You feel, in short, like crap, and yet crap and crapulous are not related to one another. Crapulous derives from the Latin crapula, meaning intoxicated, though in English the word has been associated since the sixteenth century not just with overindulgence in drink, but also with gluttonous eating.

Crap, on the other hand, belongs to the Germanic branch of Indo-European; the word also exists in Dutch, for example, where it is spelt krappe. Originally, back in the fifteenth century, crap denoted the husks that were removed from grain in the milling process — what we would now call chaff. By the sixteenth century, however, crap was being used to denote the crunchy residue left over after rendering pig fat. Also known as graves, crap was considered dog food in the sixteenth century, but by the mid nineteenth century it was being served to company with tea, usually seasoned with salt, mustard, and vinegar. It would seem, however, that crap was considered by most Victorians to be a second-rate snack, as the word developed a further sense of excrement in the late nineteenth century.

By happy coincidence, the development of this sense of crap occurred around the same time that Thomas Crapper, a London-based plumber, began to market a toilet that he promoted as "Thos. Crapper's Patented Waterfall No. 1." The name-brand recognition of "The Crapper" was no doubt facilitated by the accidental word play implied by his surname.

Hearts & Homes

If home is where the heart is, I live with a lot of unsuspecting people all over the country.