Monday, March 29, 2010

How Long Will It Take to Kayak to Work?

I don't know if you heard about it, but the President just declared a state of emergency for Rhode Island.  We've received an ungodly amount of rain.  We're a relatively flat state, Jerimoth Hill is our highest point at 812 feet.  We don't even get to call our high point a mountain.  We call it a hill.  When you're at sea level you don't have anywhere for the rain to go. 

The flooding has affected our house.  Luckily the water has stayed outside of our walls, but our lawn and driveway are overflowing.

This is our driveway, from the road.  On the left you can see that the water level is above the flower bed that runs along the driveway.  Todd had to cut through the flower bed, and damage the landscaping just to alleviate the flooding in the front lawn.

This is the culvert at the end of our driveway.  There is a storm drain near our driveway that lets out into the culvert just to the south of our driveway.  The storm water joins the water that is already in the culvert, and flows under our driveway.  The concrete pipe that runs under the driveway is too small to handle the load.  Here you can see the water overflowing the culvert, for lack of anywhere else to go.

Here you can see the flooding in the front lawn, the washing out driveway, and my house in the distance.  My driveway is unpassable on foot.  My Docmartens soaked through when I was taking these pictures only because there are no dry places to step.

Water flows from the culvert under my driveway and ends up here.  Through the woods you can see my neighbor's house.  The neighbor has 6 inches of water in the basement, and all the water that flows under my driveway ended up on his front lawn and in his driveway.

I went to visit the neighbor.  This is the view of their front lawn from the front steps on their house.

Todd cut through the landscaping to drain the lawn.  When he had broke through, the water flowed quickly across the driveway and into the woods.

Todd said that the water level had gone down quite a bit before I'd gotten home today.  You can see on the back end of the puddle where the water level was before he cut through the flower bed.

This is the view of the driveway from the garage.  That puddle is about six inches deep in the center.

As I walked back from the neighbor's house, here's where the culvert on my driveway lets out.  There is no trench across the front of his property like there is on mine.  So the water has more of an opportunity to fan out on the neighbor's lawn.  And he just finished the spring rake up last week, and now he'll have to do it again.

You can see how the driveway is trying to flow into the woods.  But there's just so much of it, it has nowhere to go.

It's 9 PM on Monday, and the news says there is a flood warning until tomorrow night.  It's still raining.  Todd has since called the Public Works department, because the culvert is their responsibility to maintain.  They said something to the effect of "Have you driven on the roads in Rhode Island?  There isn't any money to fix any of them."  The DPW guys came out, stood around, scratched their heads and then got back into their truck and drove way seemingly uninterested in the overflow from the storm drain and the lack of culvert in the neighbor's lawn.

I think the neighor is still pumping their basement out.  I have the phone close by in case they need help.

In the mean time, I am trying to figure out how long it will take to kayak to work tomorrow.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

All Aboard

I was doing a bit of data entry at work today and stumbled upon the date September 29, 2009.  As I mindlessly typed my mind wandered to the movie "Sliding Doors."

In the movie, Gwyneth Paltrow's character got fired from her job.  As she is going home from the office she missed the subway train by a matter of seconds.  At that point the plot splits into two story lines--what would have happened had she made it onto the train, and what would have happened had she missed it. The Gwyneth who caught the train caught her boyfriend in bed with another woman.  The one who missed it was mugged as she was trying to catch a bus, and none the wiser about the cheating boyfriend.  The one who caught the train threw the boyfriend out and started a brand new happy life.  The one who missed the train slogged along, picking up a job as a waitress, and was miserable.  It's one of my favorite movies, and really made me think of all those little moments at which the plot of my life could have split. 

The date I mentioned above got me thinking of this because on September 29, 1989 my high school boyfriend and I had gotten together.  Had I stayed with that boyfriend, I would have been with him for 20 years.  Our breakup, sometime in the spring of 1991, was probably one of those Sliding Doors moments for me. 

This boyfriend, Leonard, (he looked like Spock so I'll call him Leonard) married the girl that he'd dumped me for back in 91.  We had broken up twice.  The first time was a few months before, and I had learned that he asked out this girl, Olive, (she looked like Olive Oyl, from the Popeye cartoon) but she'd said no.  Rejected, Leonard used his mind meld technique and managed to get me back.  We stayed together for a few months, but his mind was on Olive.  She flashed him a green light, and he dropped me in a second flat.  (Then he posted some lousy thing in the yearbook "Thanks for the memories, Beej, but I am much happier now."  It must have been all the pesto that Olive Oyl served up.  Pfft!  Whatev!)

I've heard from mutual friends that Leonard and Olive are married.  They had gotten engaged when I was in college.  I saw them at the movies one night when I was home for a weekend.  I was about to go up and congratulate them, because I heard the good news.  They spotted me and quickly turned away; at that moment I vowed not to buy them a Misto for a wedding gift. 

They live in the town next to our home town.  They never really left our hometown.  I don't know what he does for a living, but I guess that it's some unimaginative gig.  My friend saw them in Walmart a few years back and said "I saw Leonard, Olive and their monkey child" so I know they have at least one kid.  (And I love that my friend, still loyal years later called their progeny a "monkey child.")

But I caught that train in 1991.  I sat down and stared out the window as it took me to college out of state.  Then it took me overseas to Australia.  It took me to the open mic night where I met the people who led me to Todd.  It took me to get my Masters.  It took me underwater.  It brought me to my sailboat.  Then my dogs boarded somewhere along the line too.  There is no limit to where this train will go.  The track has no end, and the ride has been fabulous.

Thanks for the memories, Leonard.  But you know what?  I am way happier now than you could have ever made me.

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Friday, March 19, 2010


I don't know where it's gone.  It must have been stolen.  I am not sure when I last saw it, and I don't think it'll turn up at a pawn shop.

I am talking about my energy.  It up and left.  I can't be bothered to do the simplest things.  The dryer?  It just dinged and I need to put some sheets on the bed before my mother in law arrives tonight.  Cannot.  Be.  bothered.  Todd was cooking dinner, and I was lounging on the couch.  I had the nerve to get annoyed with him for asking me to get him something.  Really?  The man is cooking!  For me!  Could I be any less grateful?

I've been training for a 10K race that will happen in May.  I've been steadily running 4 miles pretty consistently these last few weeks.  Yesterday I took the run outside, and couldn't even get through 1 mile.  Not even 1!  I bailed after 2 miles and went home.  How the hell am I going to get through 6 miles when I can't get through 1?!

Then my co-worker emailed this picture to me yesterday.  And I think she might be right.

I don't take my computer to bed.  But the beagley one ends up in bed with us.  So this is what I wrote back to her: 

They only steal sleep when they…
  1. incessantly claw at the blankets demanding to be let underneath
  2. crawl out from under the blanket 15 minutes later
  3. lick your face
  4. apply a cold wet nose to whatever human body part extends out from under the covers—usually your butt
  5. lick the carpet incessantly
  6. lick themselves incessantly, because all species need a thorough bath at 3 AM
  7. tilt their head upward and lick, apparently, nothing
  8. sit on your neck
  9. shove their business end up by your pillow
  10. claw at their dog bed to make it just a bit fluffier
  11. kick you when they dream about fetching, swimming, chasing, or whatever they love to do
And now it's approaching 8 PM, and the bed is looking pretty good about now.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Who’s With Me?

I have a sweet tooth that is so big I swear it’s visible from outer space. I often fantasize about ways to combine all my favorite desserts. I imagine a cupcake bisected by an oatmeal raisin cookie then topped with ice cream and then served as one crazy a la mode on a slice of pie. If I was Catholic, I’d give up sweets for Lent. Alas, I am not Catholic, so I never have to endure that torture.

Todd claims that he was never that into sweets until he hooked up with me. While I take my tea black, the lure of some concoction like brownies topped with crème brulee sprinkled with Andes candies never fails to seduce me. But I wasn’t always this way. Sure, I always liked dessert; I just didn’t have it every single day multiple times per day like I do now. In college I rarely had dessert after dinner. Never ate a cookie after a sandwich at lunch and never had ice cream at the ready in the freezer.

Now? It’s everywhere. And it’s my own doing. Yesterday Todd and I were talking about the decline of our eating habits, when he brought up the topic of our dessert consumption.

“I’ll bet you can’t go a week without sweets,” he teased.

“I’ll do you one better. I’ll go to the end of the month! What do I get if I win?”

And on the conversation went until it eventually evolved into a month-long challenge that will end on April 15th. Todd and I have resolved not to eat sweets until April 15th. If he caves, he has to take the trash barrels to and from the curb every week for a month. If I cave… well, I can’t remember what he gets if I cave. I am sure he does, though.  And even though I cannot remember, I am sure it'll be mildly unpleasant enough to keep my competitive spirit going strong.

So, Internet, I invite you all to join our dessert free for a month challenge. No sweets until April 15th.

All the cool kids are doing it. Are you in?

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Monday, March 15, 2010

I Love it When That Happens

Restoring a sailboat is a financial mirage. Things that you thought would be a very cheap and easy fix often end up being very expensive. This is usually due to ripping a system out to find something like rotted wood behind it or another broken system that also needs replacing adjacent to the one you just ripped out. Or it’s due to a crappy former boat owner who did something stupid like splice wires together with masking tape, so then we have to replace the broken thing, or the rotted thing, or the masking taped thing as well.

Todd and I are in the midst of replacing or 7 year old temporary fuel tank. We have a space for the tank that’s 45” by 39” and 13” deep. The companion way (door) that is about 29” inches, thus making it impossible to get a 39” tank through the door.

Imagine buying a gigantic couch that will fit beautifully in the room, but it’s so gigantic you can’t get it though the door. So, instead you buy a sectional so you can get the pieces of your gigantic couch through the door. That’s how we’re handing the fuel tank/door issue. We decided that we’d have two tanks constructed that we’ll link together, so that we can fill as much of that space with fuel as possible and still get the tanks through the door.

We constructed plywood templates of the tanks that we’ll dry fit into the space first, and then we’ll have aluminum tanks made. We need to find a vendor to make these tanks, and we're fairly certain it won't be cheap.  Just today Todd and I had this conversation about it over email:

Todd: I just got a quote back on the larger of the two tanks. (Insert a number that is easily 1/3 of what we expected to spend.)

Beej: Was that quote from a welder or an origamist?

Todd: A welder.

Beej: But will the tanks be made out of, you know, actual metal?

You never really know until you get the finished product, I guess.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Adventure is Almost Beginning

We’ve made a list.

It includes all the boat chores that need to be done. We need to fabricate a fuel tank that holds more diesel than my car can carry. (Seven years ago we installed a “temporary” fuel tank.) Also on the list are things like finally installing the anchor windlass we bought 6 years ago. We bought the chain to go with it. Six years ago. It’s been sitting in Maggie and Charlie’s yacht rigging shop since then. They used to tease us about it. Now they use the chain’s container as a table.

I put in for two weeks vacation in July, and got approved. I also requested two weeks unpaid in August. I don’t think I’ll get the August time, so we’ll have to figure something out with that.

I grabbed a book from the library about where we will sail to. Todd read some of it last night and used Google pedometer to plot how far away our destination is. 405 miles.

Destination: Chipman Point Marina in Orwell, Vermont. We will sail east through Long Island Sound to New York City. We’ll have the masts taken down and head up the Hudson River and into Lake Champlain.

We’re at that exciting and overwhelming time at the start of the trip. There is a lot to do; a lot of phone calls to make, a lot of plywood to cut to build the prototype for our custom fuel tanks, a lot of time spent trying to figure out why the radar won’t work, and a lot of calls to Raytheon technical support.

There’s a lot to do at work to make sure my absence won’t stress out my co-workers and boss.

There are provisions to plan out and buy.

There are details to arrange, like sailing the boat to Essex, Connecticut the weekend before the trip, then taking the train back to Rhode Island.

Then we need to figure out how we’ll get back to RI from Vermont.

Spreadsheets have been made; measurements have been scrawled in notebooks.

And we're loving every minute of it.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Burnin' Rubber

Nemo's got this whole exercise thing worked out. 


Sunday, March 07, 2010

Birthday Week: Day 4 and 5 and a Computer Virus

Birthday week has come to a close.  It breezed right by me, in a sugar rush haze of chocolate, cupcakes and Girl Scout Cookies.

On Thursday morning, the day of my actual birthday, my dear friend Charlie brought me a box of chocolates from the world's best chocolate shop, The Chocolate Delicacy.  The label on the box said "Calorie Consuming Anti Matter Chocolate," and then the other label had the atomic symbol on it.  Of course, the box had all my favorites in it, because Chocolate Dave knows what I like after having been diving with me and eating post dive chocolates with him.

Then I met Todd for Mexican for dinner.  He presented me with a group of papers stapled together with a riddle on it.  He'd bought me tickets to see Willy Porter again (swoon) in April.  But he won't be around to see the show with me.  So he hooked up my friend Dennis from work and his girlfriend Nikki to go with me. 

Then on day 5 he baked me a chocolate cake, and got me a device from Amazon that will measure how much electricity (and money) the lights and devices in our house use.  Which I think will be fascinating to play with.  And maybe it will help me to bitch less about our electric bill every month.   So, it'll bring peace to him as well. 

Also on day 5 I caught a computer virus, which was both good and bad.  It was bad because I didn't get the chance to work on the book, or the freelance project I'm working on.  But it was also good because it forced me to unplug for a weekend.  Todd just finished fixing it a bit ago.

Thank you, love, for an amazing birthday week, and for spoiling the hell out of me once again. 

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Birthday Week: Day 3

On the third day of birthday week
My true love gave to me
A red velvet cuh-uh-up-cake.

And then this morning I ran 5 miles on the treadmill to keep up with the excess consumption of goodies.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Birthday Week: Day 2

Birthday week, day 2 brought two boxes of Caramel Delites.  My favorite.

And they're great with Twisted Tea.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Birthday Week: Day 1

It happens the same way, and pretty frequently too.  The doorbell at work rings.  One of my co-workers who sit near it answer it.  They groan and say, "Beej?  Really?  Again?"

Todd likes to send me things at work.  He sent me flowers last year on the first day of spring.  He sent me flowers this year on the first day of February.  I've gotten them for Groundhog's Day.  I've gotten them just because.

Yesterday an Edible Arrangement arrived--chocolate covered pears and apples.  The card read "Happy Birthday Week!"

The women rushed in to share, because I ALWAYS share in my bounty.  And then they rolled their eyes, because it's my birthday week.  I get presents when it's not even my birthday.  (Hell, he's gotten me presents on HIS birthday.  Figure that one out.)

Is it wrong that I was pushing for a birthday month?  Not necessarily for gifts, more for chores.  For example, "I shouldn't have to chase the dog to the neighbor's again.  It's my birthday month."  Eventhough I often call Todd "Excellent Husband," he's not buyin' into the whole birthday month thing.

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Monday, March 01, 2010

Mistaken Identity, Again

It happened again on Friday. I walked into Subway to get lunch. I rarely go there for lunch, and normally pack a lunch to eat at my desk. Then I spend my lunch hour huddled over my laptop in my car to work on whatever I am writing.

“Hi Debbie,” the woman behind the counter said to me. The first time she said that to me, 4-5 times ago, I looked at her puzzled. This time I ignored her and placed my order.

“You’re not Debbie, are you?” she asked me, while she laid out my turkey and provolone on a 6” piece of wheat bread.

“No, I’m not.”

“I’ve asked you that before, haven’t I?”

“Yeah,” I sighed. “It’s OK.”

“You look just like this woman Debbie I know,” she told me, again. Debbie has some long and complicated Italian last name. (Yeah, because Polish last names are so much easier.) She told me the Italian name, again.

“Is she Italian?” I asked.


“Hmm… I am Polish,” I explained, hoping that it would help her to not think I look like Debbie.

But then, it must be that Polish Mediterranean skin of mine throwing her off