Thursday, January 31, 2008

Insomnia Sucks

I can't really say for sure, but I am fairly certain that over the years the members of my family have spent more time laying in bed NOT sleeping than they have spent getting 40 winks. Insomnia and nightmares seem to run in my family.

For me, my insomnia manifests itself as a type of O.C.D. fixation where I can not stop thinking about a specific issue. Sometimes I am fixating on something important, and other times I am fixating on a conversation or idea that should have been no more than a fleeting thought.

On my worst nights, like tonight, I lay awake and my mind drifts off to work. I start to think about what I need to do the next day. It starts with mundane items like a server that needs to be overhauled. I start thinking about that, and then I remember all of the other more important things that need to be done like financials, 1099's, strategic plans, cost projections, forecasts, collections, and historical job costing.

Then I think about the people that matter most to me. My wife, my family, and my employees. Although after 10 years I seem to be figuring out how to run this company, I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I am constantly afraid that failure is just around the corner.

I lay awake stressing about where the next job or client will come from. I think of the people that work for me. They are buying houses and having kids. They depend on the business, and they depend on me to make it grow so that they have a career with a future and not just a job.

I think about my wife. She couldn't possibly be any more understanding or low maintenance. None the less she is my wife and I feel the need to provide for her. I want to provide her with adventure, fulfillment, and a great home. I worry that failing at the business would prevent me from delivering on all that she deserves. The irony is that I also worry that not casting off the business and setting off into the unknown will rob her of adventure.

Either way, one of my worst fears is that my wife would one day roll over and think that if she had married someone else she would have been happier or made better use of the time she gave me.

Of course, the best thing about my wife is that she would never hold me to that kind of standard. None the less, the instinct and fears are there and they like to make their appearance when my brain is unguarded during one of my restless, groggy, sleepless nights.

Now, all evidence to the contrary, I don't always take this insomnia and paranoia thing laying down (pun intended). Some nights I actively fight back by turning on the light and reading a funny book. I have tried a variety of breathing exercises, and I have used strategies that involve recognizing when you are fixating and actively changing the subject.

Other times I turn the TV on audio only and listen to an episode of the Simpsons or some other animated comedy. I listen and focus my mind on visualizing each scene, animating each one in my head. Occasionally, one of these tactics leads to a victory and I do get some sleep. However, as the old saying goes, "Some days you get the dragon, and other days the dragon gets you."

The fact of the matter is that in the grand scheme of things, none of us matter all that much. If I were to be run over by a bus tomorrow my wife, famliy, and employees would be sad. However, that sadness would pass and they would all move on. However, right now I am here. Those people could have worked anywhere, and my wife could have married anyone. They put their trust in me to do everything that I can to enhance their lives. Sometimes, that keeps me up.

Then again, maybe it isn't stress keeping me up. Maybe I am up because of some old family curse that was cast upon us when a long lost relative ran afoul of a gypsy. As long as I am up my brain figures it should be doing something, so it focuses in on this kind of thing.

Who's to say.

Either way, up is up. It's after midnight now and I don't have the faintest hint of drowsiness. None the less I should probably get back to bed so I can hurry up and not sleep.

Of course, the remote is right here.... maybe I will see what is on......

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Tour of Providence

Like I've said in a previous post, despite living in Rhode Island for six years I've never really taken the time to explore Providence. Yesterday I slipped my camera around my neck and took a bus into the city, and walked around snapping pictures. I browsed in shops, I looked up at the buildings, I smiled at people walking around and pretended to be a tourist.

Apparently I looked like a tourist, with a backpack strapped to my back and the camera slung around my neck. People struck up conversation with me on street corners as I was waiting to cross, "Where are you from?" When I told people that I lived locally and just felt like puttering around the city they lost interest in me. Then I began to lie and tell people I was from Indianapolis and they began to give me advice on interesting things I needed to see and take pictures of.

I walked around for almost three hours, until my feet ached and the camera ran out of battery power. Here are my favorite shots.

Westminster Street

Water Place Park. This is a great place to spend a summer evening as the city floats huge torches on the water. You can walk along the river, look at the fires, see some outdoor art exhibits done by students at RI School of Design, listen to music, etc.

This is the Wall of Hope, located under a bridge just off of Water Place Park. The wall is made up of hundreds of tiles painted by school kids just after the September 11th attacks. It is a very moving exhibit, every time I see it I discover another favorite tile.

A view of the State House and the city from Benefit Street at dusk.

A very cool tree in a park just off Kennedy Plaza.
And now the most notable Providence landmark, the State House. I've never been inside the building, I think that will be on my next Providence site seeing tour.

Until yesterday I didn't even know Providence had mounted police officers. Here they are in Kennedy Plaza.

This is a map of Providence back when it belonged to farmers. The map is located near the Wall of Hope. Each farmer owned a narrow strip of land, and now some of these farms have become street names, for example Thomas Angell's farm became Angell Street, Thomas Olney's farm became Olney Street, William Wickenden's farm now has it's own exit off of I-195, well, Wickenden Street does. Mr. Wickenden would never have believed that his name would be on an exit sign if you told him about it back then.

This is the ice skating rink that gets set up every winter. I've never skated on this one, but it looks like fun.

Fountain in a park near Kennedy Plaza.

A doorway on Washington Street, I think.

Del's frozen lemonade is an institution in Rhode Island. In the summer you can see Del's trucks at all the parks and beaches. Del's is fabulous with a shot of Citron as well, or so I've read.

The Providence Biltmore sign has been a fixture on the Providence skyline for I don't even know how long. Just to the right is the hotel's glass elevator, the view from which is amazing.

This is the clock tower on the Providence Amtrak station. If you are ever catching a train in Providence, please be sure to wear a watch. As you can see, the clocks on the tower appear to be quite unreliable.


Monday, January 28, 2008


One of my exercise goals this year is to get my pedometer to read 3,000 by the end of the year. I started out 2008 with 1,801 miles, and figured out that over the course of 12 months I will have to walk/jog 1,200 miles to hit my goal, or 100 miles per month.

My goal for January was to hit 1,901 miles by the end of this month. Tonight when I arrived at the gym I was just six miles shy of my goal. I set the treadmill for an hour-long workout while Todd was off getting tortured by his trainer. In that hour I managed to put on 5.62 miles, just .38 shy of my goal. Todd decided he wanted to walk on the treadmill for a bit after his torture, um, training session. So I managed to put on the last .38 to get to 1901.

Behold the mighty pedometer. This is the thing that makes me want to run, so I can rack up the miles and hit my goal:
When Todd and I were on the treadmills at the end of the night, we were watching the little TV screens on our respective treadmills. When he wasn't looking I reached over and changed his TV to the Spanish channel.

He looked back up at the TV and said "What the hell is going on here? Why is it on the Spanish channel?" He turned it back to what he was watching. Then when he turned to look at the clock, I reached over and changed it again.

He looked at the Spanish captions and said again "What is going on with this thing? Why does it keep switching to the Spanish channel?"

I switched it again and he said "OK, I think we need to trade machines, this thing is driving me crazy." I did it one or two more times before I couldn't stand it anymore and started cracking up and he realized I was messing with his TV.

Then I finished my workout, and went to get the a bottle of disinfectant and paper towels. I casually reached over and switched his TV back to the Spanish channel again just before I stepped off my machine.

When I got back to his treadmill he was laughing and said "OK, that was not cool."


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Twas The Night Before the Showing

...and all through the house
Every creature was stirring
Like a Tasmanian Devil and her spouse.

We've had a few open houses at our house since we've had it on the market. Preparation for these open houses creates a flurry of activity in the day before and morning of. We spend a great deal of time cleaning the place so it looks just so, and baking something so the house smells homey and comforting. I take on the Tasmanian Devil persona, and am sure that I look like a swirling cloud running through the place polishing this, wiping up that, and putting everything else away. I obsess over paw prints on the floor in the dining room, the faucets at the sinks are polished to the point where a clear reflection of myself can be seen in them. Dust doesn't even think of falling on a surface when I am in Tasmanian Devil mode.

We had an open house at our place today, I think this is our third or fourth one that we've had since October. In between open houses we've reduced the asking price a few times, and we make minor improvements here and there to make the house just a bit more appealing, and hopefully just a bit more sold. Before the last one we replaced the leaky faucet in the kitchen sink, and actually plumbed the sprayer on the side--about which I used to say "Oh, that's just for decoration" because it never worked in the six years we've lived here.

Our most recent improvement happened last night, and took us two and a half hours to complete. There used to be this Godawful paneling on the outside of our kitchen counter. It screams cheesy, and now that it's been subjected to 14 years of sun exposure it is a dingy, faded, pinkish color that makes Todd and I wince when we look at it. Last night we decided to do something about it, and bought some tongue and groove pine panels from Lowes.

This is what it looked like before. You can see where the molding was in the center, and how much the paneling faded in the sun when we pulled the molding off of the middle:

Here Todd is starting to install the new pine panels:

Todd and his miter saw, cutting the panels to fit the space:

Todd messing about with the outlet, so that it will fit with the new panels. Side note, when your husband is fooling around with electricity, don't take a picture of him doing so with a flash on the camera. It makes him jump about 20 feet in the air, and yelling "HOLY CRAP! WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?" It didn't occur to me that the flash from a camera might elicit that kind of surprised response. Sorry Todd, I didn't mean to scare you into thinking that you were about to be electrocuted. My bad.

This is what it looks like now that we've covered that terrible panelling with the pine boards:

And all it took was about $50 and not even three hours. I hope the new owners will like it.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Racking Up the Good Karma

I am a firm believer in karma. I believe that you get what you give in this world. If you put a negative attitude out there, you’ll only get a negative back. I am constantly amazed at the trivial things that annoy seemingly normal people. I understand that bad days are had, and tolerance for trivial annoyances is all relative to the kind of day a person has. But I am trying my hardest to not be one of those people who gets annoyed at stupid things, regardless of what kind of day I have.

The other day I was standing in line in my new favorite place—the Ocean State Job Lot store that is next door to our gym. (I have renewed my love affair with this place, where else can you get a tube of Carmex, a tin of mints, and two sponges for the kitchen sink for $3.03?) I was in line at the only open register behind an old man who was riding one of those Rascal motorized wheelchairs. One of the items he was buying didn’t have a price tag on it.

I felt the urge to tap my foot with impatience. Instantly the “Oh great, now the cashier is going to have to get another package of long johns, and I’ll be stuck here longer…” crossed my mind. Then I thought about it for a second. Why am I wasting my energy to get impatient with an old man who wanted to buy some thermal underwear that didn’t have a price tag on them? I asked the cashier where the thermal underwear was stocked, and went and got her a different one, so she wouldn’t have to leave her post at the register. She thanked me, and finished ringing out the old man while he struck up a conversation with me.

He paid for his goods, and proceeded to lay rubber with the Rascal and made for the door; without his newly purchased thermals and whatever else was in the half dozen bags he’d left on the counter.

“Wait!” I hollered, and scooped up his bags, “You forgot all your stuff!” He laughed about the onset of senility, and I helped him stash the bags all over the Rascal all the while joking about how “roomy” it is.

Later that day I had my success at the DMV, and I relate the ease at which I got my license with my helping the old man in Ocean State Job Lot. I left the DMV feeling like my karma had evened out. I did something nice for a stranger, and the DMV issued me a driver’s license without making me swear like a sailor or cry like a baby.

Then on the way home I saw a man walking across the street as I was stopped at a traffic light. His hat fell off as he began to jog when the light changed. He kept running and didn’t notice that his hat had fallen off. I rolled down my window and pointed out that his hat had fallen. I held up traffic as he turned around to get it and then finished crossing the street, even though my light had turned green. He waved a thank you, and I waved back.

Now I am ahead in my karma again, and hope that something good is in store for me to even it out again.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Rhode Island DMV: This Century's Seventh Circle of Hell

I have such a bad attitude when it comes to dealing with the Rhode Island Department of Public Vehicles. But this isn’t an arbitrary loathing of the department; the RI DMV has earned my hate—which can only be described as intense as the fire of a thousand suns.

When we first moved to Rhode Island I had to get a RI license and get RI plates for my car. I called the DMV ahead of time and asked the operator what documentation I would need to accomplish this feat. She told me I would need a form that I could get at the DMV, proof of residence, and my Massachusetts drivers license. I arrived at the DMV, took a ticket, waited an hour (though I brought a book to pass the time, I didn’t need it as the people watching at the West Warwick branch is intriguing, to say the least) and finally my number was called. I proudly presented my Massachusetts license, my RI proof of residence, and the form that I had filled in. The woman at the counter informed me that I didn’t have another form that I had to get from my car insurance company (writing the policy numbers on the form wasn’t enough) and there was something else I needed too. She shooed me aside, and called the next number. It took two more visits for me to finally get my RI driver’s license and registration.

Then two years later Todd and I got married, and I needed to go back to the DMV to get my name changed on my license and registration. Again, I called the DMV and asked what I needed to bring with me so I could get this done. She said I just needed to bring the marriage license and my license and registration. I arrived at the DMV, and once again proudly presented my documentation. The woman behind the counter asked me “And where is your social security card?” I asked her why that was necessary, as the operator on the phone didn’t say anything about it. She informed me that my social security card needed to be changed first, and then my license. It took one more visit for me to finally have my married name on my license. I didn't bother changing the name on the car, figuring I would eventually sell it--thus taking the path of least resistance.

Then I bought my Jeep off of eBay a year later. The car was located in Connecticut, two hours away from where we live. I called the DMV to find out how to get a transit plate issued so I could bring the car to RI. I was told that the state of RI does not issue transit plates. Their solution was to go to CT, sign the bill of sale, bring it to the DMV, get temporary plates, then go back to CT, get the car, then go back to the DMV again and get the real plates. Todd and I decided that this process was less than ideal for two people who have jobs to go to and lives to lead, and instead created our own somewhat illegal process for bringing the Jeep home.

I went to the DMV with all the necessary documentation to register the Jeep. Something was amiss with my documents, and I couldn’t get the car registered that day. I left the DMV, frustrated as hell, and called Todd when I got to work, “Honey, I am begging you. Will you please register this car? I just cannot. do. the. DMV. I swear that organization hates me. Please!” The next morning I accompanied Todd to the DMV, with the same exact forms as I had the day before, and we left in five minutes with license plates. He gloated at me, “See, it’s all in how you approach the DMV. If you hate them they know it and they won’t work with you.” I grumbled as I screwed the plates onto the car in the DMV parking lot, “Let’s just get out of here before they realize that they cooperated with me and come out here to take my plates away.”

Last summer I got a notice in the mail that the registration on the truck needed to be renewed. Fortunately, RI has entered the 21st century and offers the ability to renew the registration online. Unfortunately I forgot to do it online, and missed the deadline to renew the registation online. This was my own fault, and I kicked myself over and over “Stupidstupidstupidstupid! Now you have to go to the damn DMV! What were you thinking?”

I went to the DMV, got my ticket, and waited a half hour until my number was called.

Beej: Hi, I need to renew my registration please?

Guy: We don’t do that here.

B: Um, what?

G: We don’t do that here.

B: I, um, don’t understand.

G: We. Don’t. Renew. Registrations. Here.

B: Um, but this letter came in the mail from the DMV, and I am at the DMV (looking around making sure I was not in, say, a bakery) I don’t understand.

G: (With a look that almost resembled compassion, if he wasn’t sneering with his mouth) I know you don’t understand. We just don’t do registration renewal here.

B: Then, um, where can I get this renewed?

G: Triple A. Next!

You can imagine my panic when I got a notice in the mail last week telling me I needed to have my driver’s license renewed. A license renewal cannot be done over the Internet, or by mail. I would have to go to the DMV to get this done. This morning I studied the notice to make sure I had everything I would need to renew. I packed my passport, my birth certificate, my social security card, my blood donor card and my current license into my purse, along with a book. I considered obtaining a letter of recommendation from my friends as well, you know, just in case. I arrived at the DMV, pulled number 144 off of the machine, they were on number 142. I sat on the bench, threw on a coat of lipstick in preparation for a new license picture. Just as I was putting my lipstick away, number 144 was called.

I walked up to the counter, prepared for anything the woman behind the counter could tell me that would prevent me from walking out of there with a new license. In two minutes I was out the door with a new license, registered to vote in the upcoming primary, and once again an organ donor (because they forgot to do that when I changed my name). I didn’t even have to take a new picture (how sad is it that my hairstyle has not changed in four years?)

My perception of the DMV is still that of hell on earth. But at least this week I will only have to go there once to get something done, and managed to get it done in less than five minutes.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Been There... Done That

I think that Todd and I have officially grown out of local boat shows.

In the past we used to barely be able to contain ourselves with the anticipation of local boat show season. We’d see the billboards go up along I-95 in Providence that tell us when the Providence Boat Show would open at the Convention Center. We’d speculate about which vendors we’d hit up and what kind of deals we could get at the show. We’d excitedly wonder about which seminars would run at the show, and what new things we could learn about sailing, navigation, or overall life aboard. We would spend the better part of a day at the Providence Boat Show, and leave it exhausted at the end of the day.

We started to notice an inverse proportion of importance when it comes to seminars and vendors. Each year the seminars we’d attend would be a bit more advanced than the ones we attended the last year. While the vendors we visited were less vital than the ones we’d checked out the years before. There was one year where we looked for a good deal on a Yanmar diesel and a hot water heater at boat shows all winter long. We used to leave a boat show discussing the pros and cons of spending all that money on this engine or that hot water heater. We haven’t had a post-show boat budget talk like that in a very long time. Several years ago we went to a coastal navigation seminar at the Providence Boat show that we still talk about. In that particular seminar the presenter showed us how to read a chart, figure out where we are, and how that would translate to using a GPS. We left that seminar feeling empowered with new navigation know how. Now we look at the seminar list and say “Been there… done that…”because, well, we have been there and done that.

We moved on to the Simply Sail Expo in Atlantic City a few years ago. We attended that show twice; during one of the trips we got the chance to take Tom Neale’s offshore cruising 2-day class. The other time we attended Simply Sail Todd went to seminars that focused on diesel engine maintenance, while I scoped out sessions that were delivered by women for women about subjects that had nothing to do with cooking aboard, and other home-ec.-on-the-high-seas topics. But even after the second time around for that show we’d already felt that the show had served its purpose for us, and we haven’t been back since.

This year we went to the Providence Boat Show, and stayed for only a few hours. We walked the floor looking at the boats, renewed our SeaTow membership (like AAA, but for boats) and renewed the registration on the dinghy. We attended one seminar on using radar, but the rest of the classes were ones that we’d already attended.

Saturday we went to the New England Boat Show in Boston. Again we walked the show floor, looked at the boats, walked by the vendors and only stopped to talk to a custom fuel tank fabricator. The tank we have in the boat now is 19 gallons and was put in as a “temporary” tank 4 years ago. (How pathetic is it that my little Jeep Wrangler has a bigger fuel tank than my 41’ boat?) We didn’t attend a seminar at the show in Boston, because the topics covered were ones we’d already attended seminars on in the past.

Todd and I were eating some free ice cream that was given away as a promotion on Saturday after walking the show for about two hours. We were thumbing through the show program trying to find something we wanted to see when I said to him, “You know, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve been there and done that with respect to the local boat shows. There’s nothing new here. Let’s go do Boston instead.”

But I’ll bet you anything that when January 2009 rolls around, we’ll see the billboards on I-95 and say “Ooooh! The boat show’s coming! Wanna go?” How else are Rhode Island sailors going to get their fix in January?


Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Dinner Guests Have Arrived

We are setting the table for 10:


Monday, January 14, 2008

Happy Birthday, Griffen!

This was Griffen the day we brought him home. He was 9 weeks old and look at the size of those paws!

Here's Griffen today, at 6 years old:

Happy birthday, pal. Thanks for everything you've added to my life for the last six years.
Good boy!


Friday, January 11, 2008

Not Providence, But...

It was stormy out today, so I didn't get the chance to go on my great Providence Expedition. However, I did cruise around when I was running errands today. I drove through City Park in Warwick, RI, and a blanket of fog had covered most of the park. By the time I drove home to get my camera, the fog had lifted.

The fog, was extrordinary. The trees were black from being soaked by the rain, and they stood out against the white of the fog. The silence in the park had an eerie feel to it, as I stood there in the fog while looking at it contrast against the trees.

You'll have to imagine these pictures with thick fog surrounding the trees.

Ladies and gentlemen, City Park, Warwick, RI


Thursday, January 10, 2008

City Fix

I grew up in a small town, as I’ve mentioned in past posts. My high school was so small, I graduated with 71 people. The house I grew up in had blueberry bushes, an apple tree and a pear tree in the back yard. I had chickens as pets. There was a farm next door, and the pasture from that farm extended behind my house. At any given moment you could look out the kitchen window, which faced the back of the house, and see horses, cows, sheep and goats grazing behind the fence on the edge of our back yard. There was a corn field across the street; there were cabbage and peppers grown in other fields down the street as well. On a summer day you would routinely see farmers driving tractors on our street, and they rode so slowly I could pass them on my bike as I did my paper route.

I grew up in the boonies, you get the picture. When I was in high school it was a very big deal when Burger King built a restaurant in our town. Now the town sports a multiplex cinema and a Walmart--which actually bums me out. I wish my hometown could have escaped all that development--though it did manage to escape becoming a low level nuclear waste dump, so that's good. When I was half way through high school my parents bought a house in an even smaller town—a town that still does not have a Walmart, a Burger King or a multiplex.

Like many other small town kids, I wanted to check out the city. Even though my parents forbade it, my friends and I used to cruise around in nearby Hartford or Springfield. My parents’ perception of Hartford was that of a city with drugs floating down the street and into my hands and mouth. “Mom, there aren’t piles of drugs lying around in Hartford. Do you realize that there are drugs in our town? You don’t need to go to a city to get drugs, you just need to go into the bathroom at school.” My parents didn’t understand that it was fun to be among buildings that were taller than the two story houses in our country bumpkin town. It was fun to watch people walk along the streets, and to check out people sitting in other cars when we were stopped at traffic lights.

Today I had an appointment in Providence. I’ve lived in Rhode Island for six years now, and still haven’t really explored Providence all that much. I’d long given up on being able to navigate in Providence. The moment I pull off the exit into the city, my sense of direction escapes me. I study my road map at traffic lights, and anxiously spot the “do not enter” signs and the “one way” signs that always seem to point in the opposite direction of the way I want to travel. I round the blocks over and over again, taking ages to find what I am looking for.

I scoped out the address of my appointment on Mapquest before I left the house. I studied the map until I felt confident that I knew where I was going. I parked my car next to a broken meter on Union St, and walked to my appointment on Westminster Street. I looked up at the old buildings and wish I’d thought to bring my camera so I could capture the gargoyles on this one building not far from Kennedy Plaza. I looked at the lights that were strung up over Westminster St, and remembered how festive they look at night when they are lit up. I stopped to look at a photo exhibit in a storefront window by Caleb Portfolio, and when I walked away from it I wondered how many people walked by it without even looking at the pictures.

I listened to a street musician playing a Lenny Kravitz song on his electric guitar. I smelled the exhaust from buses going up and down the streets. I felt my shoes skip over the cracks in the sidewalk. I watched people rushing in and out of buildings. I looked in the windows of the storefronts. I realized just then how much I miss exploring cities on my own. I came to a realization that I am an adult, not having to explain to my parents why I could possibly want to explore a drug infested city. Tomorrow I am going back to Providence to spend the afternoon tooling around in the city with my camera. I’ll be sure to post pictures of what I see.


Sunday, January 06, 2008


We love taking our dogs with us where ever we go. They can be seen in the back of our pickup truck as we are tooling around town pretty frequently. We have a cap on the back of our pick up truck just so they can hang out back there comfortably as we are on the go. We get lots of comments on the dogs, and they make friends where ever we go.

Today was no different. Todd took the boys and went to the supermarket, and a few other places—leaving me at home to sleep in and fight off this cold that is desperately trying to take over my body. He was bringing the groceries into the front of the truck when a group of people with special needs was walking by. Of course this group of people wanted to meet the dogs, so Todd opened up the cap and let the people pet the dogs.

One of the women in the group was holding a sandwich as she approached the back of the truck. Griffen spied the sandwich, and his Labrador senses kicked in. He focused all his attention on the sandwich and took advantage of her lack of defenses and swooped in for the kill.


Woman: Hey, that dog took my sandwich!

Todd: Yeah, they do that.

Woman: And look! He didn’t even chew it!

Bad dog!


Friday, January 04, 2008

A Life of Transition

Todd and I are trying to buy a new house. Needless to say we’re trying to sell our current house as well. We’ve re-painted nearly every wall, we put down new carpet through the whole house, and we built a new deck on the side of the house, to cover the huge mud puddle that forms there every spring. Then we packed up all of our extra stuff. Our dive gear, camping gear, camera gear, gear gear and any extra things we don’t use on a daily basis now reside in a storage unit. We wanted the house to look less cluttered and show better for potential buyers. (You would not believe how many houses we’ve been in over the course of our search whose owners did not do this, and it looks terrible. We even went into one house where the sellers didn’t bother to clean the multiple plies of dog shit off the floor in one of their rooms! Yet we’re paranoid about paw prints on the floor when we show our house.) The house looks great; we’ve been more concerned with keeping it neat just in case the real estate agent calls with a last minute showing request all in hopes of someone ponying up.

We found a house that we love and we put the offer in. The deal ended up falling through—which is just as well because our house hasn’t sold yet. We thought that we would be in the new house in December, but it didn’t happen. We are still in our current house, but without all of our stuff. There are no pictures on the walls, there are no books on the shelf and hell the shelves are gone too. Now that the Christmas tree has been kicked to the curb, I can hear a slight echo when I speak in the living room. The only things that are left in our house are most of our clothing, furniture and our kitchen stuff.

I never knew how nerve-wracking it would be to have all our stuff in storage for an indefinite period of time. There are 40 some-odd boxes in our storage unit. Each box contains some little thing that we want to use, but we cannot find these items without taking every last box out and opening every single one until we find it. Needless to say, we haven’t gone scavenging for our stuff just because it would be too much of a hassle. But I cannot charge my iPod because the charger cable is in a box the storage bin. Todd couldn’t transfer all the data off his dive computer onto his laptop because that cable is in the storage unit too.

Lately we are getting to the point where find ourselves buying duplicates of things we already have, because it would be insane to go through the whole storage unit to find the one thing we want to use. A few weeks ago when we went to a holiday party we realized that we had packed any shoes that would go with his suit or my dress. On the way to the party we had to stop at a shoe store to get shoes that we could wear to the party.

At this point I do not know what will take longer, for us to find a house that we want to live in or for someone to buy our house. I do know that I am thisclose to driving the truck to the storage unit and getting our stuff out again, just so I can listen to my iPod at the gym again. If I have to hear “Electric Avenue” over the gym’s musak one more time…


Thursday, January 03, 2008

El Bano Esta Aqui*

*The bathroom is over here

Speaking of South Padre Island... Augs’s comment on my “Surf’s Up” post reminded me of a story from when Todd and I went to South Padre Island. South Padre is located at the southern most end of the Texas coast, almost in Mexico. We spent half a week there on the Texas leg of our honeymoon, and drove there from San Antonio.

The first evening in South Padre we went horse back riding on the beach. This is something he and I had never done together—we both had been a few times in the past. But it’s not something we did very often. I think we can each count on one hand the number of times we ever went horse back riding. It’s safe to say that we are novice horse riders. So, when we had the chance to ride horses on a beach in Texas, we jumped at the opportunity.

We arrived at the hotel close to 5 o’clock, and on a whim called a horse barn on the island. They were leaving on the sunset ride in 15 minutes or so, we raced to the barn and were saddled into the last two horses they had available. My horse was great; he was very responsive and good natured. Todd’s horse, however, was a barely broken in stallion. The moment Todd sat on this horse, the horse turned his head and bared his teeth at Todd. At that point Todd knew he was in for a memorable ride. We had just begun the ride when his horse harassed the matriarchal horse that was leading the pack. The matriarch ended up kicking Todd’s horse square in the chest, and Todd and the horse went down. They were both lying on the sand when his horse turned and looked at Todd as if to say “What the hell was that all about? You believe that chick?” Todd said to him “Don’t look at me, pal, you’re the one who bugged the momma horse. You’re on your own.”

My horse behaved perfectly. Todd’s horse didn’t respond to any of Todd’s commands. I enjoyed the sunset over the beach. Todd fumbled on the horse’s back, barely holding on as he pestered the other horses, refused to move, went too fast and all around wasn’t paying the slightest attention to Todd’s commands.

After the ride we went to a Mexican joint for dinner. (Augs, I don’t know if this is the place you mentioned in your comment, I cannot remember the name. If it’s off South Padre Island, then we definitely didn’t go there.) We ordered our drinks, and decided to head to the bathrooms to wash our hands. I headed for the door labeled “Banos” while Todd headed for the door labeled “Restrooms.” At the time I wasn’t sure why these two doors that were leading to the bathrooms were close to each other, and didn’t think anything of it. I opened my door, and jumped as Todd opened his. The door to the “Restrooms” was a fake door. There was a brick wall behind the door, and a loud alarm rang out as soon as he opened the door. The lamp above the door flickered on and off, and the patrons in the bar began to hoot, holler and cheer loudly. We laughed at how Todd was suckered into going to the restroom instead of the bano, and walked into the door leading to the Banos.

We had a wonderful time on South Padre—the water was heavenly warm, we saw a naked fisherman in the water wielding his… um… pole, we rode jet skis and saw dolphins splashing in our wake. But the look of surprise on Todd’s face, and the jump and screech that escaped my lips when he opened the door to the restroom definitely made South Padre Island memorable.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year

We went to my brother Kaz’s house to spend New Year's Eve with Maggie, Krys (our sailing crew from last summer) and their little sister Hali. Todd and I brought a projector, our PA system, and projected movies onto the wall in the dining room and blasted out the sound with the PA. We moved furniture, took pictures down, ordered and ate near lethal quantities of pizza, watched a bunch of movies and overall had a blast. (And then we shocked the heck out of my brother and his wife with their house rearranged, and the speakers from the PA system shaking the floor with their volume. Good times.)

On New Year's Day we visited my dad (a few miles away from Kaz and Melissa’s house) and then we popped over to my brother Walter’s house, also a few miles away. By the time we left Walter and Debbi’s house, the snow was falling in clumps. It looked like cotton balls were falling from the sky, and quickly accumulated on the roads as we tried to make our way back to Rhode Island.

Here’s the scene from the Massachusetts Turnpike on the way home on New Years Day. Oh, and did I mention that there was absolutely no snow in Rhode Island when we crossed the state line?

Speaking of the New Year, have you made any resolutions, Internet? My resolutions are to re-claim my handwriting, and to establish better connections with my family. Yesterday I wrote a letter to my sister in California, (see how smart? Two resolutions, one stone!) in which I wrote “Excessive computer use has rendered my handwriting into something that resembles hieroglyphics from outer space.” And it’s true, which is why I’d like to get my neat handwriting back. Maybe recipients of my Christmas cards next year will actually be able to decipher the scrawled “Merry Christmas” on the inside of our cards.
I know they are rather boring resolutions. I also want to post on this blog at least 3 times each week. We'll see how that one goes. I've been doing well with it the last few weeks, and I've succeeded in incorporating the blog into my life. I think about things that happen to me day to day to post about. I think about how to tell you all about the things I see when I am walking around living my life. I think the next big step is to actually take the time to write them down for you to read.

I haven’t posted pictures of my obnoxiously cute beagle in awhile. Nemo loves fleece. He loves it even more when a human is under the fleece, warming it. When I am on the couch under a fleece blanket, he’ll position himself so that the maximum belly surface area can be warmed by the human under the blanket.

In this picture I had my knees bent. He jumped up and rested his belly on my shins, so that all I could see was his snout over the tops of my knees.