Posts Tagged ‘Brother K’

Computer retirement home

Two weeks before Christmas, I was standing in Brother K’s kitchen with Sparkles for that 36 hours in Boston. We learned that my uncle wanted to get a computer for our Meme.

We thought the idea of our grandmother finally getting online was a brilliant idea. A couple years ago, we gave her an HP printer that calls home three times a day and gets her email. I started to occasionally send her posts from my blog. She loved it. So I’d send her crazier and crazier posts until I finally gave up and just had my blog automatically email her whenever I posted.

I know what you are all thinking. There is no way that you would send your grandmother some of the stuff that I write. Well, what I learned was that Meme has 50 years of experience on me. So even though she is sometimes surprised by my stories, she appreciates my candor, and we have the best conversations when I call weekly. I may live 3000 miles away, but I feel closer to Meme than I ever have.

I was so excited that she thought she might want a computer. So we quizzed our Grizzly Uncle on what the specs are. Turns out, she has been using Grizzly’s girlfriend’s laptop a lot lately. To play hangman.

Um…

So, she wants a laptop. To play hangman. We all kind of sighed in disappointment. But then talked about teaching her to use email. And video ichat. And how nice it will be to include her in the crazy family emails we send.

But a laptop? Well, we had all agreed we needed to get her a mac. There was no debate. But a 13″ MacBook wasn’t going to have a big enough screen when we lowered the resolution. And we couldn’t justify buying a new 15″ or 17″ MacBookPro.

Then I came up with the crazy, sleep-deprived idea. What if we gave her my laptop? It is a three-year-old, 15″ MacBookPro. And I’d been thinking of getting a new one lately. Since I do a lot of programming and use Aperture often, I need speed and lots of harddrive space. My laptop had already run out of space, and was feeling a bit slow during compile time. It was getting time to put her to pasture.

So I dumped the contents of the hard drive onto Brother K’s Drobo just in case my Time Capsule hadn’t backed up everything. He reformatted the drive. I mailed him the original box and cables when I arrived back in Cali. He wrapped it up to look like new.

Who better to get my old laptop than Meme? She will love it and care for it and appreciate that I used it to write all of those crazy blog posts she has read over the last three years. And hopefully she won’t care that I scratch the hell out of the ‘d’ ‘n’ ‘s’ and ‘m’ keys. I don’t know what it is that I do exactly, but The President has my old 12″ PowerBook and turns out, it has the same keys scratched up. I’m trying to keep my fingernails shorter now.

So my old machine has been sent out to a computer retirement home in Maine. May it live a good long life!

I’m already enjoying receiving email from Meme—although she still occasionally sends me notes in the post.

Lily Mac’s Irish Bar and Restaraunt

I have been looking for my very own Cheers bar. The kind where everyone knows your name. (Although Brother K reminds me that none of the regulars in Cheers were female. How sexist!) I think I might have finally found it at Lily Mac’s on Murphy Street in Sunnyvale.

I have visited three times. The first time, I was there to write Goodbye and Goodnight, Uncle George. I had three Guinness—one for me, one for Uncle George, and one for Dad. Sorry, but I couldn’t bear to drink Dad and George’s drink of choice—Budweiser.

That night I also sampled the cuisine. We had a bit of a mixup, as I had asked Fiona for Steak Bites and Fries, but she had entered Shepherd’s Pie. A totally reasonable mistake. And it was fixed immediately and without hassle. And I have to say, the steak bites with the pesto dipping sauce were fabulous!

I returned a week later, again on a Monday night, to see if I still liked the place when I wasn’t typing madly on my computer before the battery died. Sure enough, I love the way that they have decorated, although I will agree with others that the acoustics are a bit echoey for my taste, it is still a great looking pub. They do need to add coat hooks under the bar though. I had only gone in for a pint, but stayed almost til closing after two pints and a shot of Irish whiskey.

On my third visit, tonight, I brought a couple friends. Michael, the bartender from the second visit recognized me by name. Tonight, I had the Pear and Arugula Salad, although the arugula had been replaced by salted spinach. It included a strong blue cheese, and I have to admit, it was the best salad I have eaten in a while. I devoured it. And I think it didn’t stray too much from my new year’s resolution, although the two Guinness certainly did. Good news is that I should be able to burn it off by running two miles in the morning.

So when you get a chance, stop by Lily Mac’s. Maybe if enough people tell them I sent them, then I can earn some free pints or something. ;-)

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.

Cousin C’s Surprise 40th Birthday Party

The whole reason for going to New England for Thanksgiving was for this party. How could I miss an opportunity to get together with iDad’s side of the family? It was well worth the trip.

These aren’t my best photos, but there are a lot of them. You can find the full set on My Gallery, but here are the teasers.

Cousin C was surprised—mostly that his boys could keep a secret this big!

There was a good bit of dancing done by all. I have the blisters to prove it!

In addition to dancing, there might have been some drinking and some goofing around. Especially by my siblings and myself. If you get to the end of the full album, you can find the photos where Sister-In-Law T tried to convince me that I could lick my elbow or touch my elbows behind my back. I’m still convinced I can do it.

Just one word says it all. “Gov-nah!”

And apologies to Aunt K who wanted to stay up and party into the wee hours of the morning. As I explained, most of my adventures happen before midnight. Otherwise I turn into a pumpkin. ;-)

Strange dreams

The other day, a friend quoted Shakespeare, “To sleep, perchance to dream.” I said, I’d rather not because I have crazy vivid dreams. Here is the one from this morning. I bet dream interpreters would have a field day with this!

The first thing I remember in this nightmare was my siblings and I on the side of the divided road (like El Camino) and something happened. I think it was a bad driver, but I don’t remember exactly what rules were broken and who was breaking them. But this woman was pissed, and she was going to do something about it. I think she was a real estate agent, and she looked like someone on tv, but I don’t remember what show. I don’t know why, but she drove her sub-sub compact to a turn lane in the median, but to do so, she had to drive a few feet the wrong way down the road. As she did, she honked at some guy passing her, and I couldn’t get over how what she was doing was so much worse than what the other person did.

My siblings and I walked down the road. It got smaller and smaller until it was just dirt, and we came to the shack that we lived in with our mom. I was about to take Perl out for a walk when my sister’s friend came running up and regaled us with a story of this serial killer going around town. He had chased down a car and beaten two people to death with a tire iron. And no one could find him. I tried to convince someone to go with me to walk Perl, but I couldn’t.

Then, a man wearing a gorilla mask started pounding on the door. It took me two times, but I pressed 911 on my phone and showed him. That was when he pounded so hard on the glass next to the door that it shattered and he walked in. He took off his mask and it was a friend of my brother, so I hung up the phone and started yelling at him. How was I supposed to fix that glass? How were we going to keep the serial killer out now? Gorilla man had a friend behind him, and they went to find Brother K in the one story house.

At this point, I was talking with Meme in the living room. She was in a chair, I was sitting on the floor in front of her. My dog really needed to go out to pee. And in walks Meme’s best friend, thin and frail, and covered in dirt from head to toe. I couldn’t imagine she had outrun the serial killer. I gave her a hug and didn’t want to let go. She explained how she had gotten dirty, and even though it had been an accident, and on any other day, I would have been shocked, I just laughed because it wasn’t the serial killer.

So I left Meme and her friend in the living room and went to the bedroom where Mom was wrapping gifts for me to give my Indian friend at her wedding. Something long and rectangular, something the same length, but cylindrical, and something smaller and square. I was impressed with Mom’s wrapping skills. My siblings all came into the room, as well as my dog who still had to pee. We decided then and there to take a vacation somewhere until they caught the guy.

And I couldn’t take the stress anymore and woke up.

I can place some of it. On Heroes recently, Skylar beat a man with a tire iron. I was watching my friend wrap gifts last night for her wedding. I do have an Indian friend getting married, but this isn’t her wedding. I saw someone try to make a left turn through a space in a divided highway through a turn lane for the oncoming traffic. And I think the realtor was someone from a tv show I was half watching last night while painting my nails. Brother K was prominent because I was talking to him on the phone before bed. And yesterday, I was talking about seeing Meme and her friend this summer when I went to Maine. So it isn’t like my dreams are random, they just seem it.

And sometimes they are good dreams. This just wasn’t one.

Wedding sex

I have a friend who has a theory, that the best hookups are at weddings. So I’ve been trying to test this theory by attending a lot of weddings. Of course, this is the same friend I tried to pick up at a wedding. I failed, but he has some very good points that validate my attempt:

1. Location, location, location!
Weddings are in cool places with great ambiance and music that you can talk over and dance to. The venue is beautifully decorated, well lit, and romantic. And sometimes you find some really great dancers. I do love a good lead…

Weddings are not in loud, smokey bars full of drunks where your shoes stick to the floor, the neon signs are flashing their way to certain death, strangers grind up against your ass, and you get caught gasping in horror in the morning when you see your hookup in natural light.

2. Appropriate attire is required
Everyone is dressed to the nines and looking pretty damn pimp. This is what your hookup looks like at their best. People spend hours primping and prepping and ironing and curling. No detail is missed.

So even if your hookup dresses like a slob in every day life, you know that if you put some effort into him, you can get him to look more like this on a regular basis.

3. Attitude
People are in a good mood and ready to party. The only tears are usually joyful and not into a beer. Mostly (see #5). Funerals are not particularly good places for hookups. Those are usually done out of desperation and despair. Not that I know any of this personally…

4. Veni, vidi, bibi vino
I’m not even going to paraphrase my friend on this one. He says:

Everyone is always drinking wine. Sure, there’s beer, but wine just makes people want to take off clothing and get some skin on skin. (Sure, hard liquor makes folks wanna get naked too, but it’s different. You wanna bone and get raw when you’re boozing. With wine, you want naked skin on skin for hours, not just a quick “get me off” thrill like you want with booze.)

How can you dispute that?!

5. Timing is everything
My friend’s theory on this:

[Weddings] always end like, at 10pm or 11pm. Rarely do they go to midnight. It’s simply more difficult to find the energy to go get laid at 2am when you’ve been pounding swill. When it’s 11pm and you’ve had three glasses of wine, there’s plenty of time and energy left in the night to get it on.

Although I have been to a few weddings that lasted until the wee hours of the morning. One of those ended with me in my bridesmaids gown, sitting on the dance floor at 2am while Brother K pulled the hundred bobby pins from my hair as Meine Schwester’s ex cried about his broken heart.

What’s your theory?

Photos from Frankie’s Memorial Service

I felt a little awkward taking photos at a memorial service, but there were so many memories there. So hopefully, I will be forgiven for that—and for not using a flash, which produced a bunch of blurry photos.

I’ve attached a few below, but you can find all of them in My Gallery








Tents are popped

Brother K, Sister-in-law T, Ducky and Kanga have their 8 person tent. It has two rooms and a screened room.

They brought me my own four person tent. Brother K said I could bring home boys. Um, I can't figure out how to bring home boys to my condo, let alone a tent and a single sleeping bag. But thanks for thinking of me. :-)

Easter Birthday Weekend

I’m a little slow, but here are the photos from my weekend in DC for meine Schwester’s 30th birthday. We wandered around the monuments, drank and danced in an Irish pub, and made easter baskets that Mom sent.


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