Archive for December, 2009

Early New Year’s Resolution

I decided to start my new year’s resolution early. Time to get rid of this extra weight I’ve been hiding, so I joined eDiets.com. What I like about eDiets.com is that they give me recipes and a shopping list. If anything, maybe I’ll learn how to cook and use my lovely kitchen. So far, so good, today. This was my dinner. I swear the chicken wasn’t actually pink inside, just my camera. The rice pilaf has onions, if you wonder what those are, like Meine Schwester did. I skipped the mushrooms. Still don’t like mushrooms. And I couldn’t even eat all of it. Guess that leaves me lunch for tomorrow.

Hopefully I’ll stick with it. Wish me luck!

LOL Cats

I left my computer for just a minute on the floor. Mitsy took over.

Which one are you?

Eighteen People You’re Scared Of on Facebook

And which one am I?

Where’d you go?

The sea lions have left San Francisco’s Pier 39. There were 1500 of them last month, and today, only 10. It sounds like they had a bad Thanksgiving dinner.

This made me think about odd animal migrations, which reminded me of the Great Migration of Penguins a few years ago in the San Francisco Zoo. The zoo took in six Ohio penguins that convinced the San Francisco penguins to migrate, making their pool a whirlpool for two weeks.

I mentioned this to the bartender last night and he told me about Gay Penguins. Googling it today, it seems that a gay penguin couple was broken up this summer at the San Francisco zoo by the conniving Linda after she left her long-term mate for an older male who subsequently died.

I’m still curious, Sea Lions, Where’d you go?

Surprise ending

I’ve been so productive over the last few days. Painted my bedroom, cleaned out my closet, and gone through a bag full of mail that I’ve ignored for a couple months.

Then I went to Sent Sovi for bbum’s continued birthday. Sadly, this required showering and putting on clothes that I hadn’t been wearing for days.

Because of the extrodinary effort I had put forth for dinner, I decided to go out after. So I went to my new favorite Irish pub for a pint of Guinness.

I paid the bartender for the pint because I would not be staying for more than that one. Then the bartender decided he and I would do a shot of whiskey.

Then the guys beside me decided I would do another. I traded it for another Guinness.

And now, three drinks later, I’m home at 2 am.

I guess it is vacation.

Grey is the new green

Christmas eve, Perl and I went to Santa Cruz. We walked a couple miles along the sea shore, did sprints on the beach, and drove with the top down. A perfect way to spend the day before Christmas.

It was all fun and games until I couldn’t get the top back up. The weather was warm enough for driving around the boardwalk, but not for the highway. I did manage to get it to close, but not without being very nervous for a while.

I really used Perl’s trip to the beach as an excuse to drive forty miles to get zero VOC paint from Green Space, and to look for ideas of how to remodel my bathroom. I know. I haven’t even shown you finished pictures of the kitchen yet. I will. Eventually.

Perl didn’t want the green color of my bedroom to go, so she had a sit-in in the closet. I finally convinced her that we had lived with this color for three years and it is time for a change. But she begged and asked, Why grey?

Well the rest of the house is grey.

But it is so boring.

Yes, but I want to print out some of my photos and display them and I don’t want the wall color to be the main focus of the room.

Grey? Really? Couldn’t you do something else?

I didn’t want beige.

But why grey?

Because it goes with everything. I’m sick of having to pick new bedspreads by bringing paint chips to the store. Nothing went with that green.

It took a couple coats to get rid of the green. But now my bedroom is grey with white trim. I’ll do the electrical outlets during the daylight.

And then I have to fill my closet again. I had a lot of stuff in that closet. Hopefully I’ll have less soon.

I do kind of miss the green.

Game Complete: Score 20254

I’m sorry for introducing you all to Globe Trotter. I’m addicted. This is the best I’ve done so far. How about you?

Global location game

Don’t hate the messenger.

http://samgine.com/globetrotter-xl/

Goodbye and Goodnight, Uncle George

As an adult, I find it curious what triggers the memories of my inner child. I was reminded of two of these triggers today: cigars and chainsaws.

Uncle George was not my uncle as defined by my family tree. But he was an uncle in every other sense of the word. Growing up, I don’t recall many of my parents friends. Most had very little impact on me, except for one couple, George and Ruth. They were Flatlanders, hailing from the state of New Jersey, and wielding thick Jersey accents. Sparkles recalls Uncle George’s accent and how the number 33 sounded like a gruff “turty tree” George perpetually smoked cigars, which seemed exotic in a world of Marlboro and Camel cigarettes. His voice, husky and thick from the smoke, made him seem scary to small children, but we all knew him as gentle and kind.

But what I remember of Uncle George the most is the sound of chainsaws, waking us up in time for church on Sunday mornings in the summer. I don’t know when it started, and I don’t know when it ended, but for the entirety of my childhood memory, every Sunday, Dad and Uncle George would fill up the chainsaws with gas, grab a case of Budweiser, and head out into the woods with the Jitterbug. For those of you unfamiliar with a Jitterbug, it is a big-ass, old, rundown truck, bigger than a pickup truck, but smaller than an eighteen wheeler. Ours was this green monster with a wooden flat bed in the back. Dad and George would toss in the chainsaws and beer and head out into the three hundred acre woods in search of trees to cut for firewood.

They would start in the spring after the snow melted, and finish up in fall sometime before the frost. The sounds of the chainsaws on Sunday morning through the open windows were hard to sleep through. And by the time we started running the fireplace in the late fall, we had about fifteen cord of wood stacked up under the tree.

I remember helping sometimes. I’m not certain, but if my memory of the story is correct, Uncle George was witness to my first word. Dad would take me with them into the field while they were splitting wood. Whenever Dad missed the log with the ax, he would say, “Shit.” Me, as bright as I was, took in the situation. And when I was ready, and Dad missed with the ax, I said my first word. “Shit.”

I hear it was funny until I was in church, during a very quiet part of the service. I dropped my book over the pew and said, “Shit.”

I didn’t swear again until I was eighteen.

I helped again as I was older. I don’t remember ever being taught how to use an ax or chainsaw, but my job was stacking. I remember hating to stack wood. As a teenager, I would dread hearing the Jitterbug come back out of the woods full of trees because it meant time for us kids to work. We knew it was a necessity, but like any kid, we didn’t want to participate.

I know that Uncle George must have taken a portion of their cut back to his house. He too had a large house and many children. But I don’t recall ever seeing his black truck full of wood. I do remember, however, using his truck with the carpenter boxes on the side, as a horse trailer.

For a while, I borrowed a pony from a family down the street. Their kids had grown up and gone away, and the pony was just hanging out in the field, so Dad made arrangements for me to borrow it for a few years. So yes, when I asked for a pony, I got one. I was as spoiled as my parents could afford to allow.

To transport the pony the three miles to our house, Dad and Uncle George used a couple 2x4s and loaded the pony into the back of Uncle George’s nicely painted black truck. I can still see the image of my pony in a pickup truck.

After their kids had left the house, my parents sold George and Ruth a parcel of land where they built a little cabin in the woods. Just one bedroom, a bathroom and an integrated kitchen/living room. Easy to heat during the harsh Maine winters, and beautifully constructed by George and his sons. And Meine Schwester. At that time, Uncle George referred to her as Punky Brewster. We always complained that she never helped with anything. But Uncle George knew better. He let her help build the cabin by nailing down floorboards.

A picturesque cabin in the woods. Made with love. The summer they were building it, my friends and Brother K and I would sneak out and meet there to play strip Trivial Pursuit. No one knew how to play poker and we never got further than bathing suits. Brother K was Tom Sawyer, sneaking out his bedroom window and climbing down the back tree. I was Huck Finn, going down the stairs, picking up the snacks Mom had left for us as I walked out the front door. I remember one night, walking home from their cabin through the woods and seeing my first meteorite streak down the dark trail. This is where George the Carpenter would retire. This is what made George and Ruth better Mainers than I would ever be.

Uncle George was an integral part of our lives. Through good and bad. Again, I don’t know the details, but I know that he was there the day tragedy struck and I learned the lesson about operating heavy machinery while drinking. Uncle George’s truck flew down the driveway as if it was defying gravity and friction. It was a few hours before we found out that Dad was in the hospital. Meine Schwester recalls seeing Uncle George’s torn up thigh. The only detail I recall is that my father’s hand had been cut by a chainsaw. Dad’s tendons were cut in the last two fingers of his left hand. This wouldn’t have been as tragic if Dad wasn’t left handed.

Dad used to play guitar better than anyone else I knew. Of course, I probably thought that because he was my father, but he was incredible at picking and created pure magic in the air with his twelve string. Dad and George would play and sing, and no matter how bad things seemed, we always had music. It is what kept us all together. Dad’s injury wouldn’t have seemed so tragic, except that he does everything left handed except play guitar.

That was the day the music died.

I don’t blame anyone. I don’t know what happened. I don’t even know what year that was. But I feel like it was a turning point for my parents. Eventually, my senior year, they divorced. I wasn’t upset. They weren’t in love. I was excited that they were moving on with their lives and they could stop being miserable. I went off to college, Dad moved away. My family moved out of the big house and into a smaller house that didn’t require fifteen cord of wood to heat. My pony moved back to his home. I was busy learning about differential equations and stress/strain curves of materials. The sounds of chainsaws and guitars, and the smell of cigars faded into my memories.

Until today, when I learned that Uncle George had passed away. I hadn’t known he was ill. I hadn’t heard much about him for the past few years. I read the obituary and saw that his kids had all grown and married and have families of their own. I don’t know how long he lived in that little cabin in the woods. I don’t know if he still played guitar and smoked cigars and forced trees into works of art. But I do know that he made a difference in my life. And I never took the opportunity to tell him.

Thirty-six hours in Boston

I couldn’t blog about it earlier, but I spent the weekend in Boston. Although that isn’t entirely accurate because it is hard to spend a weekend in Boston when I live in California.

I took a redeye flight on Friday night. It was supposed to leave at 10:30 pm, but didn’t leave until after midnight. So I didn’t land until 9 am, which is the time I told my high school friend I would meet her for coffee.

It was freaking cold when I landed, and I was half an hour late, but I managed to get to Mike’s Pastries. I hate to admit it, but Facebook makes it possible to call up someone I haven’t seen in over a decade and say, Hey, I’m gonna be in town for 36 hours. Wanna meet for coffee?

It was great catching up. So many things have happened over the years to get us to where we are.

We talked for a couple hours, then my mom arrived and was double parked. I picked up the cake my brother had ordered and said my goodbyes.

My mom and I went to CraftBoston and saw a lot of really great work. It was great to have a chance to spend some time with her since I won’t get to see her at Christmas.

I do feel bad that I passed out in the car on the way to New Hampshire to pick up Motorcycle Man. Hard to stay awake after taking a redeye.

We then went down to Brother K and The President’s house for The President’s 30th birthday. I am surprised that it was actually a surprise. I thought that Sparkles may have ruined it when we were at our Cousin’s 40th surprise party two weeks earlier. Luckily, the jug o’ wine from Olive Garden had clouded The President’s memory.

My apologies to The President for not keeping up with drinking. I know that is my duty as resident Asshole, but I just can’t live up to the expectations. ‘Tis the problem with getting older.

Sunday I slept in just a little, that is until MiniMe woke me. Hung out with the fam for a little bit, then my cousin dropped me off at Logan.

And that was where I was, a week ago, as I wrote this post while sipping a winter solstice ale—deep red in color, malty and generously hopped—at the Boston Beer Works. So it is only fitting that today, on the actual winter solstice, I find this post half written. No, it wasn’t the beer that made me forget to finish it, it was because the WordPress iPhone app had crashed, lost half of what I had written, thus pissing me off.

This was the last of my travels for the year.

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