Happenings on the Moon

Getting Back to Normal

It's wonderful when life is blissfully "normal." After a year of living in crisis mode every day, pumping our son full of medications, watching him cry with pain every morning when he woke up, holding him down while his physical therapist put his fibula into joint three times a week (my husband got to suffer through those appointments), wondering if today was going to be another run to the ER, it's almost surreal that we don't have to live that every day any more.

Cole has had an amazing recovery. He was released from PT five months ago. He's participating in gym class, running around with his friends and playing baseball in the town league. To look at him now, you'd never know that last year he couldn't walk and was in such debilitating pain he couldn't go to school or even get off the couch. The transition into middle school was rough at the start of the year. Not only was he transitioning to a new school, he was transitioning back into school period. He suffered a bone contusion at the start of the school year and missed the first week which made the situation even more stressful. He missed that first week where none of the fifth graders (yes, in our district fifth grade is middle school) knew where they were going or what they were doing. He was walking but experiencing some pain from his bruised bone, not an uncommon injury after an allograft, and was slow. He was still sore and building up his strength. He hadn't used his left leg much for a year and had experienced atrophy even before his surgery in June and then spent five weeks in a full leg cast. 

Cole has always been a strong student and taken a great deal of pride in his grades, but after missing the majority of fourth grade, he found himself struggling for the first time. He had gone through tutoring, but that's still not the same as being in school and having six hours of instruction a day. He was stressed to the point of panic at the start of the school year. One morning he completely broke down sobbing and I had to spend an hour calming him down before taking him to school still in tears. He'd never had the experience of feeling lost or not understanding the material before. He was horrified when he received a bad grade, was late to class, or didn't understand the lesson. I explained to him that every day he attended school was a victory. That I was immensely proud of how brave he was to get through his injury and his surgery and now transitioning back to school. I told him it was to be expected that he was going to be lost for a while, that his teachers and I understood that and were here to help him. 

The day I took him into school an hour late in tears, the vice principal ushered us right into his office and re-iterated all the same things that I had told him. He also set him up with weekly appointments with a support group that met with the school social worker and told him that any time he was feeling like things were more than he could handle, that Cole could always come to his office. Cole was still very unhappy about me leaving him at school that day and it was yet another experience on this long journey that broke my heart a little bit, going to work and watching him walk with the vice principal down the hall to his class, still clearly terrified to be there. 

It took time for his stress and fear to ease. There were other mornings and evenings of homework that had him in tears and near hyperventilation. The district also issued Chromebooks to all the students for the first time and that was yet another new and intimidating adjustment Cole had to make. For months he hated that Chromebook and complained about why they couldn't do things on paper. Now he does his homework with his friends on Google Hangouts and I have to pry him away from the screen.

Slowly but surely, he continued to heal through the fall and into the winter. He started to catch up in his academics and his grades got better, he regained strength and mobility in his left leg. Now, it's almost as if it never happened. Cole has never wanted to talk about his injury and his pain, not with myself or my husband, not with doctors, not with counselors. Now that he's gaining some distance he will sometimes bring it up in conversations at the oddest times. Usually, it's in contrast with what we're currently doing. We were in the car a few weeks ago, headed to a birthday dinner, and he asked us, "Remember last year when I was in so much pain and didn't want to leave the house? That was awful."

Yes, it was truly awful, and I think for all of us, it's not that far away: the pain, the doctor's appointments, the fear, the confusion. It's always still lingering in the back of my mind. It was the first weekend in May last year when Cole experienced his relapse. He had been doing better. He was walking with a brace, had been able to attend school for a couple of months. It had only taken one day of playing outside to change all that. There was nothing specific he had done that day, it was merely the fact that he had played like a normal kid. We had played catch in the yard. He played wall ball with his friends. And he had been so happy and so upbeat. And then it all came crashing down again.

I couldn't go through Mother's Day this year without the memory of Mother's Day last year in the back of mind. It wasn't so much different. I ran the same 5K. We had family over for a cookout in the yard. And Cole can still be an ornery preteen. He didn't come outside to eat with everyone else, why I don't know, but I do know it had nothing to do with the fact that he was in pain. He did come out and play corn hole and swing with me for a while in the patio. He ran around the yard with his cousins. Watching him, I am simultaneously relieved but also still holding my breath a little. I panic every time he falls, every time he jumps, every time he slides into base. I know I'll be doing that for a while. I think he still is too.


Virginia

It is nice to be able to say that vacationing with the kids is getting easier. At 8 and 11, there are no diaper bags, no strollers, no tantrums, no chasing them around the airport, no crying on the plane. I don't miss those days. Not that I ever did that much traveling with them when they were babies. We don't need to travel to see our immediate family, we were tired and broke, and frankly, we didn't see much point.

Not that we never did it. We did. We went to Niagra Falls when LT was only 6 months old. I still remember trying to chase Trouble down in the hotel lobby while holding LT in my arms. Trouble got a spanking for that one, to which he screamed in indignation, "You don't do that to me!" Seriously, what three-year-old has that kind of confidence and assurity?

And we went to visit Polly in CA when LT was about 2.Trouble had a terrible asthma attack after visiting Sea World and he managed to slam his tooth into the sink and kill the root. We had a good time, but it was a lot of work.

We were going to drive to Virginia and at the last minute decided to fly.Unfortunately, our 6AM flight was canceled. We should have been in Virginia at 9AM. Instead we arrived at 4PM. It really didn't save us much time on the way down.And we landed in Virginia in the midst of a heat wave. Walking out of the airport was like walking into an oven. I knew we were headed south, but I didn't plan on landing in southern Florida.

Va_connor_ericaOur first night there was a terrible thunderstorm. Somehow Blackstone and the kids slept through it, but it woke me up. I heard the power go on and off a few times. I mentioned it to Brandon the next day who had missed the entire thing. Turns out we were one of the few units in the resort that had power. We were truly lucky to be one of the few that was hooked into the generator for some reason. There was a point in time when I would have said we're never that lucky, but I can't say that any more. We've been pretty lucky lately.

The second night, we heard our first real warning from the Emergency Broadcast System. Blackstone told the kids, "Oh, it's nothing, just a test," because honestly, they are always tests in RI. Maybe in my lifetime there have been some real warnings, but in my entire life I have never heard a real emergency broadcast. This was a tornado warning. Pretty scary to us Yankees who know nothing about tornados. It did sound lke it was going to be quite a storm and we actually hunkered down in the bathroom for a while, but the storm split and missed us entirely.Like I said, I can't say we're not lucky any more.

We stayed around the corner from Water Country and down the street from Busch Gardens. We managed to tour both theme parks, Yorktown, Williamsburg, Jamestown and Virginia Beach. The days we toured the theme parks we had to head back to the resort between 2 and 5 to avoid heat stroke in the 100+ degree temperatures. We did a ghost tour of Williamsburg at night. I enjoy a good ghost tour and the idea of touring the town in the heat of the afternoon had me swooning like a southern belle. (It could happen!) The boys did their share of complaining about the historic sites and tours, but they enjoyed it in spite of themselves. Trouble gave our tour guide for the ghost tour a real workout. He was just full of comments and questions.

Va_brandon_connorVirginia Beach reminded me of Myrtle Beach. They're both so built up you can drive down the coastal street and never see the ocean. As someone who has grown up on the beaches in RI, seeing Myrtle Beach was a shock. I had no frame of reference for seeing hotels actually sitting right on the beach, one on top of the other, entirely blocking the view of the ocean. If you weren't staying at a hotel on the beach, you had to pay to park in some tiny lot and find the small part of the beach that was designated as public access. Not that you don't have to pay to park at the beach in RI, but they are huge lots, and very little of the beaches are actually private. Much is owned by the state or towns, so it's more of a public park. I see now how spoiled I am, to be able to walk the sea wall, or choose between any number of beaches to visit, or just drive the coast line and enjoy the view.

Still, the trip was amazing, in spite of the heat, the canceled flight, the tornado scare. I would definitely recommend a trip to Williamsburg.

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Hoppy Squeeky But

Honestly, I know I'm not the only person in the world to make mistakes. I recognize that I am an intelligent woman and that I'm only human, but I don't like to admit it. And I certainly don't want anyone else to see it.

Mostly, my work, my writing is on the web. Nothing is ever permanent. You make a mistake, one person or a few see it, it gets noticed, and you fix it. No big deal. It goes away like it never happened. And this being a personal blog, well, I tend to worry about that even less. I mean, I run spell check on these things, but spell check doesn't pick up on the words that you skipped or that you typed "here" instead of "hear". I was an English teacher. I know the difference. I often see the difference when someone else wishes I wouldn't.

It doesn't mean I won't make the same mistake as I'm typing along as quickly as my fingers will go, listening to my children fight in the living room, wondering if I'll be able to get this posted tonight, knowing I'm pushing bed time and my luck. Typos happen. Sometimes I get around to fixing them before I post. Sometimes after I post. Sometimes never.

At work, I try to be more careful. But often I'm just as rushed, getting interrupted, trying to accomplish as many tasks in one day as possible. The typos still happen at work. And everyone loves to point out a typo to an English teacher. It's not so bad in an email, something sort of off the cuff to another co-worker. Like an email I sent last week asking if the Buy List was ready to be run. An email I send every month. Except this time, I titled it "But List". Yes, it could have been much worse. I didn't call it the "Butt List". Of course, I got the snarky email back asking what the But List was. I don't blame them. It was funny. It was just funny at my expense, which is just not so funny for me.

Graphics are always worse. You can't spell check in a graphics program. If I'm putting a lot of text in a graphic, I'll often spell check it first in Word. I'm not, despite the English degree, the world's best speller. I've always considered it a weakness I've had to overcome. Writing on the board when I was teaching could be nerve wracking. Students always love to see their teacher make a mistake. And there's no spell check on a chalk board. And you can't always plan what you'll be writing up there during a brain storming session. But over the years, all the reading and the writing, and the conscious effort to get better, it has made a difference. Still, I'm not perfect.

So last year when I designed the yearly calendar of the boys that I give as Christmas gifts every year, a task which takes no less than four hours of searching through photos, image editing and optimization, background selection and caption writing, one of the captions read, "Hoppy Birthday". A silly and forgivable mistake. But one which now exists in print, memorialized in a calendar that is the result of four hours of strain on my back and eyes. It's just such a kick in the teeth.

Print media is unforgivable. There is no do-over. No taking it back. No hiding it from everyone else's eyes.

My boss quit. His last day is Friday. I'm gunning for his position. I'm not sure if they'll give it to me or not. His leaving has spurred a frenzy of training in our department. Certain troubleshooting he does for programs, servers, printers and computers that no one else knows how to do. It's been busy. We're planning a going away party for him Wednesday. He would have received his five year plaque at the Christmas party, so we had an Almost Five Year plaque made up. It reads something like, "Thank you for your hard work and dedication deserting us."

My boss has been keeping a list of some of our CEO's favorite sayings:

  • "We need a bigger boat."
  •  "It's a marketing issue."
  • "It takes a short time to get from here to here."
  • "First to Market"

There are others. Most don't make sense out of context. So we had a beer stein made up with all of these quotes. I did the graphic work. And I did it with a spelling error.

    "The squeeky wheel"

And there's no taking it back. Here I am, trying to make a good impression, and now everyone's calling me Squeaky. I can make up a number of excuses. I spent much time making sure everything was within print margins. It's all done in different fonts, different sizes. Graphically it came out great. Except for the little kick in the teeth.

One of the owners pointed it out. I'm slightly mortified. I have an English degree. I should be above silly little spelling errors. To be completely honest, I'm not sure if it was a typo or a spelling error. But that doesn't really matter, does it?

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Trick-Or-Treat

Halloween was awesome this year. It was perfect trick-or-treat weather. Pretty warm, windy with spooky clouds moving swiftly across the full moon. We did double duty while trick-or-treating, we were also passing out our Scouting for Food Bags. So we'll be driving that same route to pick up canned goods Saturday morning. At least, LT and I will be picking up canned goods. Blackstone has some seminar and Trouble has Saturday school. Yes, Saturday school. It's part of our Title 1 program. Kids with below grade level reading or math skills are invited to attend for extra school time. This is about the third time Trouble's been invited and the second time he's attended. He doesn't mind too much. He reads below grade level. We work with him. I probably don't do it as much as I should, because it's painful. For both of us. I think Trouble would enjoy a root canal more. I know I would. They give you really good pain killers for that. And people are nice to you. They bring you milk shakes and soup, things you don't have to chew. Nobody's nice to you when you're teaching your kid to read. Nobody feels bad. Nobody gives you pain killers and milk shakes. Teaching Trouble to read requires a Vicodin or Xanax chaser.

I first really started pushing the issue when he hit October in his kindergarten year. Up to that point, I just figured he was a little immature, still young, I didn't want to push too hard if he wasn't ready. Well, at some point, one of us had to decide he was ready, and it was getting obvious it wasn't going to be him. He was five-and-a-half and I was trying to teach him five letters at a time. He would not, could not do it. I knew he wasn't brain addled. I tried flash cards, games, jello, pretzels, bribery, yelling, all to no avail. He smashed a glass pumpkin on the kitchen floor out of spite. He was miserable. I was miserable. He hadn't learned any letters.

It has gotten better. Sometimes he can read me a whole chapter of Captain Underpants without any screaming at all. Sometimes.

But, back to Halloween. The boys were both dressed as Swampfire from Ben Ten. I was Princess Leia and Blackstone was a Jedi. I've never been a princess for Halloween before. I guess every girl needs to do that once. Princesses are okay, I just prefer mine to be able to kick some ass. Blackstone is still disappointed I didn't get the gold bikini. I like sexy Halloween costumes fine, I just couldn't see taking the boys trick-or-treating in a bikini. It can be damn cold in October. I'll try to get some pictures up here. That's more coordination than I'm capable of right now. It means actually locating the camera.

Blackstone kept lamenting what a fabulous night it would be to spend at the clubs. Everyone dressed slutty, completely uninhibited. Yeah, I remember those days. They were fun. Now I dress in a chaste, polyester white gown and come home with four gallon bags full of candy. I'm trying to convince myself that this is more fun. I'm losing that battle at the moment. I'd prefer to whoop it up in club in a gold bikini. Well, there's a part of me that would.

Trouble has survived his pumpkin carving accident. He stabbed himself several inches deep with a steak knife after missing the pumpkin. He is so lucky he didn't do any nerve or tendon damage. A he's been telling people, "The pumpkin won."

So all's well that ends well. Time to get my little monsters to bed.

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My Life as a Football Mom

You may have wondering where I've been lately. When in doubt, look on the football field. In August, we had practice five nights a week for two hours. Now, since we have two boys playing and practice nights differ, we still have football four nights a week for an hour and a half to two hours and three hours worth of warm up and game time on Sunday starting at 8 AM. (Not to mention two hours of cub scouts on Monday and Saturday activities.) This Sunday in Needham. Mass. The period was not a mistake. Needham. Mass. Ugh. Last Sunday I spent three hours watching football in the rain. We were all soaked to the bone. It took me hours with a heating pad to get my core temperature back to normal. Only for my flesh blood. Honest to god.

We have done dance lessons, karate, swim, baseball, basketball. I was not prepared for football. Someone should have warned me. Someone should have given me lessons on how to put on all that gear. Someone should have told me to trick my kids into soccer instead. Someone should have grabbed me by the shoulders and shaken some sense into me.

At first, the boys didn't like it much either. LT flat out refused to go to practice twice. There's no forcing a five-year-old onto the field when he doesn't want to go. Somewhere in the last two weeks he's suddenly decided he LOVES football. I don't know how. I don't know why. I seriously hope he changes his mind again before next August. Now he all but sleeps with a football. And he has the potential to be GOOD. You can see it already. Honestly, you could see it when he was six months old, and I'm not a woman who sees these things. In fact, I'd really prefer to ignore it. Maybe he'll decide he hates it again. *Sigh*

Trouble is not exactly your model football player. He has cried at nine out of ten practices. It does not phase me in the least to see my son lying on the ground crying. Other boys would have to be in absolute agony. Not Trouble. He's a drama queen. He cracks the heck out of his coaches. They find him as entertaining as all get out. He came up to his coach after one of the plays at practice and told him, "I didn't block."

Coach says, "that's okay."

Trouble explains, "I didn't block because I forgot how."

Coach laughs as he tells me later. "At least he's honest."

Trouble did assist in couple of tackles last Sunday, though. For one of the smallest kids, he'll really go after the other kids regardless. He does have moments he loves it, but he really doesn't get it. Not any more than LT at this point. Not any more than me. I just learned Sunday that you get five downs every time you go ten yards. I thought you got five downs to get a touchdown. I couldn't figure out why they kept starting over while they moved down the field. I've simply never cared enough or watched long enough to notice. It's different when it's your kid on the field. I've been trying to explain that phenomena to Blackstone for years now. It doesn't matter whether or not I like to watch sports on TV, watching your kids play is different. I could care less about watching a bunch of over-sized, over-paid, steroid-popping, sorry-excuses for role models, throw a ball around. I will, however, invest myself in anything my kids show a sincere desire to do, as long as it's legal. And that statement may have a hockey caveat.

Even I have my limits.

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Home Improvement

I have been sleeping on the floor of my living room for a month now. On my mattress on the floor, but still the floor. Our living room is now our temporary bedroom. This is a result of the water damage done to our bedroom after the roofers took the shingles off over part of bedroom right before it torrentially downpoured. I was not home to see the damage occur. Blackstone and the kids were. It wasn't pretty.

While I do partially blame the contractor for not paying more attention to the weather, there was a 30-75% chance of shower almost every day in May and June. Sometimes it rained. Many days it didn't. If it did rain, it was often for about 15 minutes and then it was over. There was really no knowing what the hell was going on.

They should have been more prepared with tarps to cover the roof. They had a tarp. It wasn't big enough. They had to use one of ours too. And when they put the tarps up, they made the horrendous mistake of putting them over the gutters instead of under them. Our gutters run into a dry well which backed up and over flowed the gutter. We had a waterfall in our bedroom.

Our contractor assured us it would dry out and be fine. I would have called my insurance company immediately, except Blackstone had hired his uncle. Be forewarned. If you ever have a waterfall in your bedroom, call your insurance company immediately.

We ran a dehumidifier in our room for days, but still after a few days I started noticing it didn't smell right. At that point it was fourth of July weekend. Blackstone was gone, trying to reach anyone would be pointless. I was still loath to call the insurance company on family. I looked up the number of a specialized cleaning company that deals with mold. I gave my husband the number the day he got back and told him to get someone out to the house. They, of course, told us we had mold growing from the water damage and the wall and part of the ceiling would have to removed. It's also important to note here, that if you do experience terrible water damage to your home, if you get the cleaning company out there within the first 72 hours, they can dry it out without the damaged areas having to be completely gutted. I seem to always learn the useful tidbits of information after I need them. Perhaps I can spare you that pain and aggravation.

We explained all this to the Uncle who disagreed that we had any mold problems. He told us the cleaning company was just trying to make a buck. Once he finished the roof, we had him open a section of the wall. Guess what? Mold. And lots of it. At this point, we'd already moved out of the bedroom. My worst allergy is to mold and mildew. I didn't need any further proof than my own damn stuffed nose and itchy eyes to know the cleaning company wasn't making this sh*t up.

At that point, we just laid it all out. We had no choice but to call the insurance company and have the mold removed by an experienced company. The Uncle still disagreed. He said he could do the repairs himself. He did not, however, believe that part of the ceiling had to be removed. Even after I pointed out the mold growing visibly, albeit very tiny spores, on the ceiling.

"Just water stains," he insisted.

"No," I insisted right back. "In the water stains, there's mold."

We called the insurance company. Again, I was not here to experience the joy of being interrogated by the gustapo, aka the Insurance agent, who was none too thrilled that we had waited two weeks to call this in. They did cover the repairs though, because in the long run, it's going to be the contractor's insurance shelling out the cash. Of course the real kicker in all this is that the Uncle is not licensed in RI (only MA) and has let his insurance lapse. This was a bold faced lie told to us. We had asked him if he was insured and he told us he was.

I will never allow a contractor to do such drastic work on my house without having copy of their license and insurance in my hand. And that contractor will likely never be family again.

Luckily, one of the guys he had working with him is licensed in RI and has insurance. He's the one that's going to get screwed in all this. The Uncle is trying to work out some kind of deal here, to prevent any serious problems. The Uncle has been on vacation, and the licensed guy and his buddy did the repairs on our bedroom.

But now that our bedroom has been half gutted, we've decided to put in a radiant heat floor. We have electric base boards in our bedroom that are expensive and provide seriously awful heat. It's dry and dusty. Our bedroom was originally a garage, and that room gets extremely cold in the winter. The floor is always freezing, so radiant heat would be a great improvement. We purchased purgo to put in over the heating pads, and Blackstone, his brother, and a buddy ripped up the floor planks this past weekend. Guess what? No insulation to speak of under the floor. Nope. Just some two-by-fours over the concrete slab. No wonder it gets so f-ing cold in there.

I've no doubt that our bedroom will come out of this more fabulous than before, and that perhaps there's a silver lining here.

Right now, I just want my bedroom back. That and my walkway that Blackstone had jack hammered up two months ago that is still a pile of rubble. By the end of the summer I've told him. I WANT my damn walkway back. I was happy enough with it the way it was to begin with.

I'm really hoping after this, that there are no more home improvement projects for a while. Of cousre, Blackstone's already talking about radiant heat floors for his office. Lord help us. How much home improvement can one marriage take? We've been at this for two years now. The floor refinishing, wall paper removal, painting, an entire new kitchen, three new toilets, a new roof. I mean, it's great when it's done. But when do we really get to be DONE? You know, as in, there is no room in my house or part of my lawn that is torn up right now?

When they ask you what finally drove me over the edge, you'll know what to tell them, right?

She just couldn't take any more home improvement. Just give her a prescription of Xanax and keep her away from the circular saw and everything will be just fine.

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A Decade

Today, is my tenth anniversary. We have officially hit double digits, that point when time spans become marked not only by years, but decades. Well, one decade anyway. A decade sounds way too old. I'm way too young to have already been married a decade. Of course, I was just a child when I married, really. And so it's already happened.

Truly, it doesn't feel all that auspicious. It seems we should have some special way of marking such an occasion. But in reality, it's just another day. Just another day at work, just another night at home with the kids, or one of the kids anyway. Trouble's doing BS camp during the day and LT's spending the week at my mother's. Another night with me sitting blogging, Blackstone watching TV. Not that I mean to make it sound dreary. I don't find my life or my marriage dreary. Not by any means. I am happily married after ten years. We had a wonderful vacation earlier this year. And honestly, I don't need a huge to-do to appreciate my life. I enjoy the day-to-day just fine. I don't find it mundane or draining. I enjoy family dinners, date nights, exercise, story time, watching the kids do karate, baseball, basketball, and starting Monday, football (lord help me on that one!), sinking into the tub with my Kindle, walking the bike path at lunch. Life is good. It could be a little less stressful without the recession (depression), the money worries. But other than that, seriously good. Like, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, good. Because with more than 50% of all marriages ending in divorce, when's it going to happen to me? How do I get to be the lucky one? Not even just still married, but still enjoying it.

My relationship has been the one thing in my life that I've always been able to count on. It has been largely without drama, fighting or stress. Often, it's been the only part of my life without drama. Except for that year around when we got married. That year sucked . . . hard. But I know why it sucked. It was hard because it was a year of so many transitions for us and our families. Not just the marriage, either. That was also the year I quit teaching and when back to school. The year Blackstone finished grad school and started working for the state. The year my parents moved back from VT and lived with us, and then my in-laws, and then us again while they were trying to sell their house.

That was the year we almost didn't make it. No year since in the past ten years has been that hard. Somehow I had the confidence that we were strong enough, devoted enough to each other, to make it through that year. Not that there weren't moments I had my doubts. I remember telling Blackstone a week before the wedding that it was too late to call the whole thing off, but that if things didn't start turning around soon, I'd have no problem turning around and divorcing him. We both agreed to put all our fighting aside for the wedding and focus on the fact that everything with us had been good before and that we both believed it could be good again. I really enjoyed my wedding, and my wedding night, despite the fact that we'd barely spoken in weeks. Bookgirl likes to quote one of the guys that saw me partying my anger away at my bachelorette party, "Yeah, that marriage is going to last."

Things are not always what they appear.

Even though Polly grabbed my arm and told me not to do it right before I walked down the aisle. Even though after the JP asked for the rings, there was the tinkling sound of the ring dropping to the floor and rolling right to the edge of the deck. Despite the fact that after signing the third marriage certificate, even I was getting a little superstitious. And even after starting marriage counseling pretty much immediately following the ceremony, here we are ten years later. That ring is still on my finger, that marriage certificate is still binding, and Polly can still be seriously inappropriate.

A decade. Who knew. 

Of course Blackstone is actually on his second wedding ring. He lost his something like six years ago now. He was doing a soil evaluation and was flinging dirt off his fingers in a six foot hole in the cold and rain. At first he was afraid to tell me. Then after a while he decided to see how long it would take me to notice it was missing . . . . Two years later I finally asked about it.

He wears the new one now when we go out. But he's left handed and he's taken to wearing it on his right hand, so technically he's out with his widow. Maybe it's easier to stay married when your wife is dead.

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Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Well, I think Polly, Bookgirl and I proved we can still party like we're rock stars this weekend. I haven't seen Polly knock back that much Tequila in a while. Maybe it's because she lives so close to Mexico now. It could be seeping into the ground water. The woman has quite a tolerance. Night and day compared to last time she was here and we had to bring her home early. This time she was fully fortified with a nap before going out. and Tequila once she got there. A red eye and three hour time zone change can seriously drag you down. And frankly, no one should look that good twelve hours after a red eye. She was all decked out old school in her chucks too. So cute.

I, myself, am not a big fan of going out on Friday nights. Friday is generally movie night at our house. And the past work week was quite a stressful one, tipped off by a killer Friday. I was still on the adrenaline rush when I got out of work. And before I could start crashing too hard, I started the night off with a Red Bull and vodka. Not generally my drink of choice, kinda sweet for my taste. But it certainly does the trick in a pinch. That or an espresso martini. My parents' bar isn't exactly the martini place, though.

And Bookgirl looks terrific! She did amazingly well sticking to her meal plan under the duress of a weekend filled with partying and drinking. She didn't even eat any birthday cake at Polly's cousin's wedding. The wedding I sort of crashed. I wasn't technically invited, and Bookgirl was Polly's date. I was more an approved tag-a-long. I showed up after dinner. They didn't have to feed me. The wedding couple was so cute! About the same age Blackstone and I were when we got married. So young . . . . We hit our tenth anniversary in a couple of weeks. After our wedding, at around two o'clock in the morning, Polly and Bookgirl were sitting with us at our kitchen table eating the top of the wedding cake. Honestly, Bookgirl. No wedding cake. That's impressive.

We met up with an old friend we hadn't seen in years who is a tattoo artist now. Partied with my sister and her best friend. Danced until late into the night, and then continued the party at my parents' hot tub. And that was only round one. We danced our feet into oblivion again at Polly's most-adored-cousin's wedding, and then landed ourselves back in the hot tub. At least until the violent thunderstorm kicked us out. And we brought one of Polly's cousins with us. Not the newly married one, a different one. One we partied with more than a decade ago on another very memorable night.

She had just turned twenty-one then, and we had crashed another of Polly's cousin's weddings. (Girlfriend has a lot of cousins.) We went clubbing in Providence. And thank heavens Blackstone was with us. The little twig of twenty-one-year-old passed out while walking down the stairs at the Complex. If Blackstone hadn't managed to catch her, it could have been seriously bad. On the drive back to our apartment, Polly and her cousin made him pull over on 95 so they could pee. Not only did he have to pull over on the highway, he had to half carry both of them drunk down the embankment and hold them up while they peed. And up the stairs to our apartment when he got there. That husband of mine, he's truly something.

Twiggy wanted to know if I was still with the same guy, the one who gives the really good back rubs. You bet I am! You don't let the one who gives the fantastic back rubs get away. Mama didn't raise no fool!

And Bookgirl made me breakfast. I heart you. I couldn't tell you the last time someone made me breakfast.

Oh, and long live the HBP ladies ; )

Kisses,

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Summer? What Summer?

Fourth of July weekend was fabulous. Mostly because we had two gorgeous, sunny days with absolutely NO RAIN. Because, from what I understand, it was only the sixth coldest June we've ever had in NE since they started keeping records, which you couldn't really prove by me, so maybe those other five happened before I was born. However, it was the June with the least amount of sunshine EVER! Did you notice? You might have noticed.

I noticed. I noticed because I'm in the midst of having my roof redone. (Yeah, shut up! I can hear you laughing.) It's my husband's ex-uncle that's doing it. (Is that what you call it when your aunt gets divorced? I'm really not sure of the protocol there.) And he had the bright idea to take off part of the roof over my bedroom right before one of the thunderstorms that dumped inches of rain in the space of an hour last week. Flooded one corner of my bedroom. Fried the cable box, but the TV still works. Soaked the rug. The ceiling needs to be repainted. We're calling in a specialized cleaning company to make sure there's no mold problems developing.

As we speak, it's raining again. It's been thundering again. They worked on the roof this morning and now there's a huge blue tarp covering the front of my house. You may be thinking, why plan on working on a roof when there's rain in the forecast? The question of the summer here is : When the fu*k will it stop raining? The depression rate most be soaring. What's happened here, as I imagine what happens in England and Ireland, where you expect this kind of incessant, gray, wet, disastrous weather, is you just start to function around it. You play baseball in the rain. You wait out the shower at the beach. You work on the roof during the patches of sun (or at least no rain) and cover it with a tarp when it starts again. You keep living your life and get a new prescription of Xanax or pick up some Melatonin from GNC, because what other choice do you have?

And it's not just the rain. The thunderstorms have been vicious. The building I work in was struck by lightening. Twice. We didn't have phone service for two days. Our time clock was fried. The whole town was without power for over an hour. It's been Build-Your-Own-Arc, Armageddon kind of weather. I hear there have been tornadoes in CT. Hail the size of golf balls is threatened twice a week. Luckily, I've yet to see these gems, but I'm on watch for them, as well as the frogs and locusts.

The one good thing about all of this, is that we've always had this problem with our basement flooding. But at the beginning of June, Blackstone had special drainage pipes put on the front and back of the house to stop the flooding. And miracle of all miracles, it actually worked! So while our bedroom may have flooded, the sump pump in the basement hasn't come on once! Not one drop of water. It's fantastic. That husband of mine, he's pretty smart when he's not forgetting everything. So I guess if the roof caves in under all the rain, we can go sleep down there.

Oh, and Bookgirl and Polly are coming in, so if Armageddon is on its way, it better hold of until Sunday. Party starts Friday night at my parents' bar. Feel free to come whoop it up like it's actually summer or something.

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Get Real

I managed to give myself a little panic attack this weekend. Signed up for a food service without taking the time to research the company first. The things I'll do after a glass of wine. I tell you. Couple that we the fact that I sat through church for absolutely what reason I don't know, that I'm getting ready to fly out of the country for the first time in my life, Trouble's birthday party is on Saturday, I'm cooking Easter dinner on Sunday and driving to Boston on Monday night, I think the panic attack is understandable.

I'm not used to being off kilter, I don't make rash decisions, and I don't like change. Blackstone isn't used to seeing me lose my cool. It's only happened a handful of times in my life. Generally it's reserved for big events - getting married, buying a house, changing jobs. And it doesn't usually last long. I'm a person who knows how to make a decision and stick to it, for better or worse. I will research the change in question, Google it to death, wrestle with it in my mind for weeks, sleep on it, and generally after all that, I can take a deep breath and know I've made the best decision possible. Occasionally, it doesn't turn out to be the best decision. I've learned I can live with that too. But I hate being wrong. Hate looking stupid infinitely more than being wrong. I will relive the mistakes, the embarrassments over and over in my mind for the rest of my life. When I develop Alzheimers in my old age, there is no doubt that the mistakes are the ones that will stay with me. When I forget my kids and my husband, can't remember my own name or where I live, I will still remember every stupid thing I've said, every public fall I've taken, every line I've fallen for. There aren't many of them, but they eat away at me, make me scream with frustration at myself at random moments in my life years later. I'll be driving in the car yelling for no reason and scare the begeezers out of my kids who are wondering what the hell just happened, because nothing happened, not now anyway. I'm a million miles away torturing myself for no good reason, and they're in present watching their mother act like a crazy person.

Blackstone tells me that I've never admitted to him that I hate change before. I suppose I may give off the impression of embracing change because I am forward thinking and rather unpredictable. That's not change. That's me being the same brand of unusual and introverted I've been my whole life. I want to like change. I want to be a great world traveler. I'm not. I like structure and order in my chaotic and liberal life. I spend my life looking at seemingly random and unexplainable problems and I apply order and reasoning to derive a solution. My way of thinking is simultaneously minute and all-encompassing. It may be radical or bizarre, but it does not make me a free-spirit or easy-going. I am likely the antithesis of the free-spirit. I am relentless, thorough and intense.

Blackstone tells me this crazy feeling I had of not being able to find my center, of not being able to reason or research myself into serenity, that other people suffer from this more than I do. Well, I suppose all I can conclusively draw from that is that  he suffers from it more than I do. It's just about the worst feeling in the world, to feel as if something inside you is spinning and you can't make it stop. It's like your heart is nauseous or something. Luckily, my head normally rules my heart, which for me, is as it should be.

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