Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Time Off

Me and the Missus are taking the week off. We have no specific plans.
Today we are off to home depot... I have no idea of where this will lead us.
I am fairly certain there will be paint involved, and possibly some electrical work.
In case we get too 'involved' ... have a happy New Year.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Merry Joy Joy

Its finally here.

Me on the phone with our dearest friends Christmas Eve morning:

Dear Friend: "Hi, Merry Christmas, so what are you doing?"

me: "Merry Christmas to you too!! Guess."

Dear Friend: "Ha, cleaning... are you having company tonight?"

me: "no"

Dear Friend: "Entertaining tomorrow?"

me: "Nope, going to the in-laws."

Its all for me, folks. The cleaning is all about me. :o)


MERRY MERRY HOLIDAY - whatever holiday you celebrate.

and please remember - be safe...
Don't smoke around the Christmas tree.
Don't run with sissors.
Don't drink and drive... that's for amateurs.

Drink yourself into a joyful stupor - and stay put!


Thursday, December 23, 2004

Huh

I just ran down to the Italian Importer in town to get some things for the holiday.
I got some Parmigiano Reggiano, some nice Locetteli Romano, fresh mozzarella and some thinly sliced prosciutto. nice. all set for Christmas eve dinner.
I left my van unlocked... with the keys in the ignition.
It was still there when I came out.
Huh.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Just so you know...

The world has gone mad.
The pre-holiday frenzy has begun.
If at all possible, might i suggest that you stay in for the next couple days.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Roots

I want to share what may have been an insignificant passage that happened this morning. It got me to thinking about family and community and neighbors… and destiny.
My wife and I stopped in at our mechanic this morning. We have been stopping in there quite a bit these past few weeks (if you have been reading along …you know what I mean). This morning’s business was to get the paper work finalized on Ferris’ car and have it hauled off for scrap. Our mechanic, Dave, runs this family garage that has been in town for generations. Dave is the nicest guy you ever wanna meet. Always a chipper hello followed by a ‘How’s the family?’. I don’t think I have ever once left his shop without an anecdote or tale about his family… or perhaps another customer with a problem similar to the one I might be having at the time.

This morning was no different. And even though we were not there about the van… when I asked a question in passing Dave went right out to take a look, kneeling down peering under the carriage, opening the hood and poking around in this crazy 0 degree weather we are having. He made sure I could get through the next couple days safely.
Cuz that’s the kind of guy Dave is.

But what really got me to thinking today was this… while we filled out the paperwork – Dave noticed my wife’s last name on the title. He paused thoughtfully then said, “Say is the same [lastnamehere] who lived over on Suchandsuch Street” … and after some bantering back and forth they discovered that Dave went to high school with my wife’s aunt, and even remembered the little white ranch house where she lived.

These are the things that happen when you live in a community where you grew up, where your parents grew up, where you have local family businesses that have been around for generations. It's not all that common around here these days… in one of the richest counties in the U.S. – with transplants from all over, and so many who grew up here saying they can’t wait to get out.

I don’t think either of us stayed here because of any of this. We just did. It just happened this way, made sense this way, worked out well this way. This, I suppose, is what destiny is.
It made me feel good today, even proud… to still be here-- near where I grew up, near where my parents first met, near where my grandparents settled right off the boat from Italy.

My wife and I often marvel at how many times our lives intertwined before we met – without us even knowing.

We have talked of moving… off to PTown, or up to Canada to marry, or why not to a warmer climate – but if we end up here, where generations before us were, where we were born, where our children were born, so be it – perhaps… I will even revel it in.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Snow in CT

Got our first measurable snow here last night.
My fit and active wife wanted to shovel, saying it was such a small bit of snow…but I would have none of that.
I brought out the behemoth.
I love those tidy snow thrower edges.

It’s a bit chilly here too. It’s noon and its only 7 degrees.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Calm before the storm?

Went to the mall last night and it was eerily quiet.
Just got back from Wal-mart (which here at the office we refer to as the Evil Giant).
I easily got a parking place, and waiting behind only one person at the checkout.

What's going on?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Van-tastic

She's back. She's better than she was before.
No really.. get this. Not only is the van driving so sweetly, just like new --
but now the long broken rear wiper AND the odometer are working again too!
It's like a Christmas miracle.

Ok ..well perhaps not a miracle. But it's rather convenient.

So back to Plan A - which is to keep the old girl on the road another two years.
That would make her 15 years old and I ballpark about 190k. Then we can talk about moving on.
Or perhaps I can learn something from Karen whose '77 pickup is still working their land.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

My Quest

As I have said too many times…I love my van. Functionally it’s the perfect vehicle for our family. I got the van back when the kids were much younger. So when Ferris was playing both soccer and baseball as a lad – he would use the van (with its back tinted windows) as his personal locker/changing room. Running off the soccer field into the van – quick uniform change and a cool drink from the cooler and then up the hill to the ball field.
When our daughter was a teen, she could listen to her music through headphone hookups in the back seat, while her mom and I could chat quietly up front. Both kids learned to drive in the van (this is especially notable …since they are 8 years apart).
The windows have decals from most of the universities our daughter attended, and left over stickers from our Pop Warner days.
I still have an unused cellular antenna on the van… remember those? The first phone we had in the van required the cigarette lighter for power. It was mobile…but you needed a briefcase to carry it.

My van has captain’s chairs in the second row. One of those chairs has sat in the garage all these years, because it makes a perfect spot for a big dog to sit.

If I take out both middle chairs and slide the bench seat forward – I can fit sheetrock flat in the back. I have done that more times than I care to remember.

I can’t even count how many times my spontaneous wife and I were out shopping and bought furniture, or an appliance or a gas grille, a shrub or some other hard to transport item…and just popped it into the back of the van. Everything always fit.

It’s the ultimate vacation car. Pull out the middle seats; cram the back with beach paraphernalia and you can still fit 4 comfortably.

And let’s not forget its most recent fun trip, taking our kids to the DMB concert this summer.

My van is 13 years old, and has …well we don’t really know the mileage since the odometer stopped working a couple years ago…lets just guess about 160,000.
To look at her you would never know it. She looks good for an old girl.
But …as to be expected – her health is beginning to fail. Oh sure…there were signs. First the door locks started locking …at odd times… kinda like Alzheimer’s. The back wiper stopped working… could be arthritic. Lights on the dash here and there work intermittently. There’s more rattles and squeaks than there used to be.

Well, the old girl broke her axel the other night. Ferris was driving when it happened. Luckily he was just pulling out of a parking lot – and handled the situation like an old pro.

I spoke with the mechanic yesterday, they tell me there may be other problems … possibly the transmission; there is also something with the front suspension. We won’t know for sure …until they can get in there and fix the axel. So we wait. Pacing. Nervous. Not sure how it will turn out. It may be the old girls time. But I am not giving up on her yet. (Ferris would be rolling his eyes now…).
Then again… there is the cutest little blue Cabrio at the used car dealership in town.

Monday, December 13, 2004

such a clatter

Twas the night before last, when all through the house,
not a creature was stirring not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung so the Free dog couldn’t reach,
in the hopes that presents would soon be in each.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of new cars danced in their heads.
And mamma in her flannels and I in my cap
had just settled down for a long winters nap.

When down in the living room arose such a clatter,
We sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.


… and sure enough – the Christmas tree had fallen over.

Why is it these things always happen at 3 a.m.?

Friday, December 10, 2004

Just pay for the manicure

My lovely wife and I attended my company’s Holiday party last night.
She was a vision of beauty of course. And I painted my nails red for the occasion. I may have mentioned before – this is not something I do on a regular basis. Actually, I have only done it perhaps three or four times …ever.
I have a new found respect for the Nail Technician. This is not a DIY job to be taken lightly. Some things are better left up to the professionals.
But after 3 or 4 coats and some clean up (this was my own desperate idea…it involved tissues, polish remover and one of those cuticle stick things – it was effective although not efficient) and the mood-setting low-lighting I think it was passable.
Also, red nail polish is rather stubborn to remove. But it’s gone now and the nails have been trimmed back to their normal active length.
It was a lovely party. And better yet we were home and tucked in by 11:00.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Canada here we come...

CNN Alert Name: Same-sex marriages

Canada court approves gay marriage
12/09/04 10:20 AM, EST

Canada's highest court said Thursday the government can redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, but it added that religious officials cannot be forced to perform unions against their beliefs.

read the FULL STORY


...gonna make that drive to PTown a little longer this year.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Really big presents

We should probably just get rid of our TV.

Last night I watch a flurry of commercials where couples give each other cars for Christmas.
One attractive slim woman came out of her very modern art deco home, guiding her husband who had is eyes closed to a brand new Jag in the driveway.
The next commercial was a clumsy young man trying desperately to figure out how to put a really, really big bow on the Lexus he just bought for his wife.

Ok… Here is my question – and really …feel free to comment cuz I really don’t get this.
Whose money is getting spent here?

If I went out and bought my luxurious wife one of these – I am thinking she may notice the $89,995 deficit in our account.
But really …it’s not the dollar amount that I am questioning.
Even if I went out and bought… lets say a more sensible car… I am still spending ‘OUR’ money.

I suppose you can say the same is true if you go out and buy any gift at all for your spouse…but c’mon people… this is not a new watch, or string of pearls here.

I also understand that there are people so rich that 89k outta the checking account is no big shake… but are these people sitting around on a Tuesday night watching NYPD Blue.
And would these incredibly rich people, watching weeknight TV, really see a commercial like that and then slap their forehead and say ”Oh! Yes… I can get Tom a Jag… what a great idea, I’ll pick it up tomorrow on my way back from daycare.”

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Got our tree!



















After all...

I am a tried and true Saints fan.

I graciously accept my defeat, turn briskly on one heel - and head straight for the bar.

Congrats Ace...and your blue Panthers.

Friday, December 03, 2004

oh and...

We got game.

Seems me and my blogger pal Ace have a bit of a rivalry going on this Sunday.

Of course since she actually lives in 'Panther country' she will get to see the game.
Me...I will end up having to watch the Jets, or Brady and the Patriots...or perhaps the Giants swapping quarterbacks all day.

I'll have my game face on...and my Official NFL New Orleans Saints Jersey, with my matching Fleur-de-Lis socks of course.
(tho, I don't have a nifty mascot like Ace does... might just have to dress up Riggs)
I probably should have mentioned we are not going to PTown until July.
(yes, we are that excited).

In today's pet news - our only healthy pet (the other two are hospice pets) has a magnificent case of diarrhea (yup..that's the FREE dog). Last night she was confined to the mudroom, and my poor wife found the horror of it all this morning. She was pretty pale and woozy (my wife...not the dog) by the time I got downstairs.

Well ...gotta run now. Going home to check on the 'explosive' situation.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Looking for some part time work

Made our PTown reservations …we are sooo going this year.
We have missed our annual PTown trip for the last couple years. Actually, it’s been three years since we have had a proper PTown vacation.
This year we will to celebrate our 20th anniversary there.
So we booked early.
Full week…in town.
I may start packing this weekend.

…in other news we made a disturbing auto-mechanical discovery yesterday. Ever hear of a ‘timing-belt’? Well we found out these things need to be changed... preferably before they fail.
And evidently this must be a very hard thing to do, because you pay dearly to have it done.

Both of our cars are going to need this pricey maintenance repair.

On the bright side, neither car has had an actual failure of said timing-belt – especially with my van at 160K miles we are very lucky, as this can pretty much ruin an engine.

technically speaking if you have an interference engine and the timing belt slips even one notch, the piston can crash into the valve causing serious engine damage by bending valves and breaking pistons. <-- this sounds bad

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Our evening

So we are sitting at the table last night for a while before going to the airport to get Ferris. My really smart wife was doing algebra while I was doing my nails…
Huh, what?!… this is where you say – You were doing your nails?
Ok, for those of you who don’t know, or have not yet been able to surmise from my writings – I am not so much of a ‘do your nails’ kinda gal. Not that I favor flannel shirts and work boots, I am just generally too practical. I work with my hands a lot around the house – from cleaning to home repair. And just don’t have the time and energy to worry about mucking up my nail polish. It’s kinda like… what? Oooh – you were wondering instead why my brilliant wife was doing algebra?
Actually, relearning may be a better word.
Ferris has been away over the holiday, and missed a couple days of school. Knowing he needed to do some catch up (this is done on the flight home of course) he called my math wizard of a wife and asked her if she could go over some algebra with him on the way home in the car from the airport.
So she spent much of that afternoon trying to remember algebra from the examples in his text book. It was quite endearing.
The car ride home was hysterical. It was very late. We were all a little daffy. The two of them in the way back seat of the van with the light on hunched over the algebra book. From where I sat I am not sure who was teaching whom.

My nails look great, by the way.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

More on hummers

No…nothing to do with Ferris.

It’s a commercial actually... that really ticks me off.

The scene is a mom driving her son to school on the first day…new school kinda thing.
The kid looks like a middle-schooler, and as you know middle school is all about appearances. So she asks him if he wants her to drop him off down the street a bit. We, the unwitting viewer, know its so the other kids don’t see him getting dropped off by his mom…which can be so uncool.
But the kid replies “No, I think it’ll be fine.”

The next scene shows him walking up the school steps and kids parting the way looking past him in awe at his ‘ride’. Mom pulls away in her jagumba shiny, new, black hummer.
Of course the kid is immediately accepted by his new peers.

Aaaaaaaauuuuuuuuggggggghhhhhhhhhh.

Great, so if mom has …say a 1993 minivan(sound familiar) then you are basically gonna get the snot beat out of you on the first day of school.

I cannot think of a worse message to send to our kids (specifically our adolescent sons).

I have yet to see the commercial a second time. I can only hope they pulled it.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Stuffed

I am still full - how 'bout you?

The accident ...in brief - so as not to upset our laywer: there was a minor miscalculation in entering a busy road*, which really should have resulted in a fender bender. But timing, positioning, and lay of the land caused a roll. Full roll, right back up onto its wheels. Seatbelts do work...wear them.

I got the call, at my desk at work - sirens in the background. He told me he flipped it, and that he was fine. I then called my perceptive wife, ever so careful not to use the word 'flip'. We both left work and went to the scene.

She said later, when I make these calls - that as soon as I say her name ...she knows...and reaches out to grab onto something. This is, of course, one of many times I have had to 'call' regarding Ferris. At 5 years old, he was dubbed "Rubberman" by his uncle when he was hit by a car in front of our house, nary a scratch on him. He lives up to this name all too often.
His thoughtful (and careful) sister said she that she was 'thankful for Ferris' at our Thanksgiving table.
Amen.
Oh...and we are in the market for a good used car if you know of any....



* this was 'our' busy road, must blog about our plans to move soon...

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone has a lovely holiday.
Stuff yourselves silly.
Drink yourselves merry (at home please).
Be thankful for any little thing.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

hummers

I have been remiss about posting.

I posted a short time ago about being fed up with the consumption in our suburban town. I specifically mentioned Hummers at the High School.

I would like to recant.
I believe my dear, exhausted and motherly wife would love our children to drive Hummers.
I will show you why. But I want to say first and most importantly – Ferris is fine. Absolutely fine. Also, he was not doing anything wrong…not speeding, not goofing around, not showing off.
It was an accident plain and simple.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

oy...

didja notice my daughters comments to the last post.
she mentioned Riggs' sister.

yes, they wanted two of them.
can you JUST imagine.
(and ...actually, I think I would have caved if the other puppies had not already been adopted...whew)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Chapter 12 - The Tally

Well here we are now.
Our FREE dog is going to be 3 years old on November 25th.

As I was tallying up - I began to remember more and more. Perhaps I was blocking.

…so many of Ferris’ hats stolen and destroyed, every throw rug and doormat I bought - mangled (after about 10 of them I realized …do not buy little rugs with a ‘looped’ weave). Too many pens and pencils to count (and the inevitable ink stains they caused), oh and the huge hole that she ate in our Pottery Barn living room rug (which I decided not to include since we are actually still using said rug …it has since been turned in such a way as to hide the hole under the sofa... we thought replacing the rug but we knew that was just asking for trouble).

And so here it is. The Tally.

adoption cost $ 25.00
baby gate $ 25.00
new door and hardware $ 150.00
crate $ 30.00
various stuffed animals $ 30.00
many of Ferris’ hats $ 50.00
my Serengetti sunglasses $ 125.00
obedience school $ 125.00
leash and collar $ 25.00
a better collar $ 20.00
a second leash $ 15.00
a stronger collar $ 15.00
chain link fence $ 3,000.00
wooden fence $ 280.00
repairs to chain link $ 300.00
repairs to wooden fence $ 120.00
3 shrubs $ 75.00
2 trees $ 80.00
garden fence $ 160.00
repairs to gates $ 45.00
tomato juice and douches $ 30.00
vet costs to date (included spay) $ 885.00
throw rugs and doormats $ 130.00
(estimated as there were sooo many)
TOTAL $ 5,740.00

but this…


well...ok, not priceless.
but we'll keep her.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Chapter 11 – Life on the Inside

Riggs is pretty well contained these days. Now when she gets out it usually out a door as someone comes in, or a gate left open by a child.
So for the most part life is good inside the fence.
However, even being contained she managed to get herself sprayed by a skunk. Full on in the face.

As soon as we realized what had happened, we had to think quickly. If Riggs just got sprayed by a skunk, then the skunk was inside the fence. If Riggs is inside the fence and a skunk is inside the fence and WE are inside the fence this greatly increased the probability of more spraying.
So …nitwit that I am – I immediately took her into the mudroom. Where we both immediately teared up and coughed until we choked… it didn't really dawn on me that being closed up in a really small room was NOT a good idea. Luckily my clear headed wife yelled to us to go BACK outside. (there was a lot of YELLING…not angry YELLING…but the kind of YELLING that happens when you are in an emergent situation…as if you need to speak loudly and clearly over the din of the event).

Of course we had to throw everything away that had been in the mudroom with us.

Ok so now…we need to wash.
The little wrinkle with that is …Riggs is petrified of the bath.
So we started by giving her a sponge bath out on the patio with LOTS of tomato juice. And then did it again. Then we heard we should be using vinegar and water douches. So we went to CVS and bought out their supply of Massengills. You can imagine the looks we got…(just what are those lesbians up to?).
We found that the douche works quite well actually. The vinegar seems to really get out alot of the odor and the applicator is shaped perfectly for a dog whose been sprayed right in the face.

After two tomato juice bathes and more than a few douches -- she was still not quite ready for re-entry into the general living area, so we coerced her into the tub.
Of course I had to get in with her, while my steadfast wife stood right behind me to thwart any escapes. After some initial thrashing about, she settled down enough so that the bath went fairly well. And really we only sustained very minor injuries.

So for a couple of bucks in feminine supplies and cans of juice it wasn’t so bad, well unless you factor in all the stuff we had to throw away…various lunch bags, a pair of flip flops, the throw rug, a hat…

And now of course we had to figure out how to keep skunks OUT. There’s always something to be done when you have a fence.

Next week we’ll tally up the results. I also have some pics from around the house of stuff yet-to-be-repaired. I suppose I will include those as a future expense.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Chapter 10 – Looking for Clues

As security tightened around the encampment, it became increasing difficult to figure out how Riggs kept getting to the other side of the fence.
There were a couple spots in the wooden part of the fence where she got under. I added pressure treated boards in these areas and that seemed to stop the problem.
She started to nose at the latches on the chain link gates. You’ve seen them – the ‘U’ shaped latch that simply folds over the gatepost.


We installed clips on all of them to keep them down.

One afternoon I was in the garage, leaning into my car organizing and gathering things to bring into the house. Riggs walked up and poked me with her nose… a friendly greeting. She seemed winded, as if she had been running. She runs a lot – really fast -- in great circles. It’s rather comical. I am hoping to get a clip of it sometime.
I pat her head and leaned back into the car to get a couple more things.
Then…. I stopped – froze, my head tilting to one side my eyes gaze quizzically up to the left, one eyebrow raises. If I were a cartoon you would see the light bulb glow over my head.
I turn, ever so slowly, and nonchalantly – patted Riggs on the head again… and GRABBED her collar.
The garage is not inside the fence.

Once again, we walked the fence line. Looking for breaks, or a ditch, or a hole of some kind. It wasn’t until I came back twice and noticed the big back gate was off its post hinges and just resting in an upright position.

From what we could gather – she squeezed under the gate lifting it off its hinges.
Then the gate …just out of shear luck landed in such a way that from a distance you couldn’t tell it was off the hinges.
After some pondering, I installed an extra post hinge upside down on each gate, restricting the gates from any upward movement.

The subsequent breakout stunned us. After fixing the big back gate, there was about 5 inches of space between the ground and the bottom rail. Now remember, the gate no longer has any give upward at all.
But there was a cat. A cat on the other side of the gate. And Riggs still had the memory of getting under this gate. And – there was a cat on the other side of the gate. I saw her run full out towards the gate and chuckled to myself, knowing she would be foiled.
But that 75-pound dog squished herself down to an unthinkable size and squeeeeeezed herself out. Did I mention there was a cat on the other side?
I would not have believed it if I didn’t watch it happen with my own eyes.

I put a 4x4 piece of wood there temporarily. She moved it.
I put a rock against the 4x4. She rolled the rock and moved the wood.
I put a 2x6 against the fence and the 4x4 against the 2x6 and a rock against the 4x4….

Finally, my exasperated wife added to that 2 cinder blocks. So far this is working like a charm.

I will estimate $45.00 on various gate parts, and more pressure treated wood.
But I still need to come up with a more permanent solution for that gate.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Welcome to Wacky New England

We are both rather sore from raking all day Sunday.
Raked the yard in shirt sleeves cuz it was almost 70 degrees out.
Tomorrow its going to be below 20.
Last night on my way home from work I noticed someone had their Christmas lights up.
Gotta love this place.

Stay tuned for "Chapter 10 - Looking for Clues".
New boss starts today - and thats a whole nother story.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Chapter 9 - and so it continues...

Well… we plant most things on the other side of the fence.
My wife’s tasty vegetable garden is INside the fence. Riggs likes vegetables.
After she had eaten all of the broccoli we had planted, that left room to play in the dirt.
We sorta gave up on the vegetables that first year, and by the end of the season the garden was well tilled.

Just when you thought you were done building fence…


10 4x4’s and 100’ feet of wire fence – $210.00

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Chapter 8 – Boredom

Well after some ‘tweaking’, the bars at the bottom of the fence worked. Is anyone keeping a tally yet? Not to worry – I will provide a spreadsheet if I ever get to the end of this story.

So Riggs was confined. She was a caged animal. Can anyone tell me what caged animals do? Anyone? Anyone?
They get bored.
When you get bored you either – become lethargic and depressed…or get creative. Wanna guess which path Riggs took?
Let’s just say 3 shrubs and 2 trees later we realized she had found a way to entertain herself.

-- my wife the gardener and I conversing while walking around the garden

Me: Wasn’t there a shrub here?
Wife: yes
Me: Like a 7 foot shrub?
Wife: yes
Me: Did you move it?
Wife: not exactly
Riggs romps by happily with a 7 foot branch in her mouth.

…short while later
Me: Who put this chewed up stick in the ground over here?
Wife: that’s a pear tree.


Ok, so that’s. 3 shrubs lets give them a replacement value of $25.00 each.
And two trees (given to us by my mother to plant around the new fence) at $40.00 each.

We plant things on the other side of the fence now.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Chapter 7 – Escape

During the first weekend with the fence- we walked the entire length and shored up any high spots. I made sure that the fence was no more than 2-4 inches off the ground in any spot.
So we were ready. Yay. No more walking the dog on the leash. Just open the door and let her go. One minor glitch was that Riggs didn’t seem to be able to see screens. We had screen doors off both back doors. Riggs not only repeatedly ran head on into them – she would also paw at them, which would of course rip them to shreds. So back to Home Depot to buy a new screen door for $40.00 bucks which I then modified for our needs. (the screen flaps like a dog door)

Now we were truly free.
Riggs could run in and out as she pleased. And when we wanted her on one side or the other we simply closed the storm door.
Riggs was so happy. So much room to run, time to herself to explore, or sleep in the grass or hunt bugs and play with sticks.
It was a couple of weeks of sheer bliss. Until… Riggs, and we, learned – chain link bends.
Yup. If you push the bottom of it, it will bend. It bends enough to fit a 70 pound dog through in fact. It seems there were a couple spots where the space was just big enough and the chain link just flexible enough where she could get out.
As a temporary measure we piled cinder blocks along the bottom of the fence in these areas.
There’s no way she could move cinder blocks.
Which was true.
However, what she COULD do was to grab the chain link in her teeth and pull and twist and bend it, until she pulled the fence up over the cinder blocks.
And of course escaped… again.

So now – Riggs can get out of the fence…pretty much at will.
With Riggs back on the leash, we called in our fence guy.
He said not to worry, this happens all the time. For only another $300.00 he could install a bottom rail.
So of course we replied, “How soon can you come?”

When he got there to do the installation, I showed him where Riggs had mangled the fence to get out.
He looked at me in amazement and said “A dog did this!?”

Monday, November 01, 2004

Patience

sorry for the delay in our story kids.
but its 6p.m. e.s.t. and I have been here at work since 7 this morning.

stayed tuned.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Chapter 6 – Confinement …on a larger scale

For this chapter I will step back in time slightly. Because the following events actually started prior to the Obedience School and .... are actually ongoing.

Riggs does not come when you call her. If you take a step towards her – this is a game. The object of the game is to elude your captor. The loser usually gets a bath (often times we both lose). The winner gets to run wild and free.
This was part of the catalyst behind Obedience School. But you see where that got us.

So obviously we needed a FENCE.

(on a side note: we had tried tie outs, runs and kennel enclosures with our last dog. They were ineffective at best and in some cases simply cruel. I did not want to have a dog tied to a chain in the backyard.)

We are intelligent and thoughtful pet owners, so we discussed our options at length. Our choices were of course: Invisible fence…or an actual fence… hmm.

If you recall from the last chapter – this dogs threshold of pain is remarkable. This made us leery of the invisible fence. Since it was a fairly big area we wanted to enclose, the theory was she could get a running start and at top speeds would be on the other side of the wire by the time she felt the shock. Then, of course, would not be able to get back home across the wire again. So, although it would have been more attractive and certainly more affordable, invisible fence was not for us.

Now onto the myriad of choices for fencing. The first thing we learned is: Fence is expensive, and attractive fence is astronomical.

Compromise was in order.

The most affordable fence is chain link. The ugliest fence is chain link.
Ok, so the compromise-- we would get chain link fence for most of the enclosed area, but it would be the black-coated chain link to make it somewhat more attractive.

So 3k later – we had ourselves a fence. Complete with two gates, one large enough to pull the tractor in, and plenty of room to run.
But we were not quite fully enclosed yet.

Part two of the compromise was that no chain link fence would be near the house (for aesthetic reasons).
First we priced attractive black aluminum – knowing that the iron we really wanted would be out of reach. For the two short runs of fence we would need the price was higher than the entire chain link. That wasn’t going to happen.

And so… we returned to our DIY roots.

Saving thousands of dollars-- the whole family chipped in and we built ourselves a fence.



An attractive fence for just a couple hundred bucks in materials.

Oh, and we learned one other thing about fences… .

Monday, October 25, 2004

Chapter 5 – Control

With Riggs continuing to get bigger and stronger, we soon realized we needed to gain control over this happy beast.

So we asked around, and asked our vet. Everyone suggested Obedience School.

At first we scoffed. C’mon how hard can it be to teach a dog some basic commands?
But Riggs was willful. And so we succumbed. We enrolled in school, $125.00

We were told to have a long lead and a chain slip collar…another $25.00.
Off to school we went.

My very patient, animal loving wife took the classes with Riggs. I went to the first couple classes to observe. Which was probably not a good idea because every time she noticed me she wanted to come visit. With Riggs over 70 pounds now (remember…this is ALL muscle) when she wanted to go – you followed.

It became readily apparent that we had no ‘control’. The stern Obedience Instructor suggested we may want to invest in a ‘prong’ collar – since Riggs did not seem to respond what-so-ever to the simple chain choke collar. Conveniently she sold them there…for only $20.00. So after about two classes of Riggs pulling my 120 pound wife around the room like a doll. We coughed up for the prong collar

The collar worked… a little. She still pulled – this dog’s threshold of pain is remarkable (remember that point, as it will affect decisions down the road).
But we could make it through a class, so we had hope. We did have to replace her lead (was it once or twice …I can’t remember) cuz she bit through it.
But by this point we were basically just hoping for a passing grade. The Stern Obedience Instructor nicknamed Riggs ‘Mr. Muscle’ (mistaking her for a male).

Riggs readily learned commands. But she had an attention issue. So many dogs, so little time to play. And she couldn’t seem to understand why none of the dogs wanted to play with her. If we weren’t so tired and frustrated I suppose it may have been sad or endearing.

The prong collar was helping to keep her from running like a maniac all over the room… but there was going to be no lying down, or sitting and staying when there was another dog right next to her to play with. It got so bad that other owners tried to position themselves away from us in the circle.
Suffice it to say we were not at the top of the class.

At the last class…the one where you find out if you pass (at this point we really just wanted it to be over). I needed to take over for my ailing wife.
I …we… were doing miserably. So bad in fact that once when Riggs jumped up on me, the ‘stern Obedience Instructor’ made me hold Riggs up by the front paws to teach her a lesson. I was to stand there holding her up, as the class continued on, until she told me to stop.
So here I am holding up the 75-pound unwilling beast. Who is gnawing politely at my fingers to get me to let go… until the apparently insane instructor felt like telling us to stop. After a short time my arms started to shake. I began to wonder just who was getting the lesson here. I was finally allowed to release her and we were both relieved. Although neither one of us was more obedient from it.

On the very verge of failing I remembered I had a pocket full of dog biscuits.
So I slipped her one.
She sat immediately and obediently at my side.
A short time later she poked me with her nose.
I slipped her another one. She sat like an angel.

We were then told to walk around the room in a circle. This was a common class exercise that on the last three attempts we managed to turn the entire room in to chaos.
But now… now we had a plan. I showed her the biscuit…palmed it and began walking. She followed my fist like a pro.
I stopped …she sat. I slipped her the biscuit. Perfect.

She must have had 30 of ‘em that night.

When it came time for the Stern Obedience instructor to walk around the room and give each of us a Pass/Fail. Riggs was sitting sweetly by my side. Poking my hip every so often for another biscuit. The instructor came up to us… looked at Riggs approvingly. She told me we passed, and isn’t it amazing how that technique of hers worked on such a wilfull and strong animal.

Ha.

Ok. So – ‘bought $200 bucks, and 8 classes later… we still have no control.

Time for another plan.

Friday, October 22, 2004

We will return to our regular blogging shortly.

Sorry.
Not enough time today to blog Chapter 3 - please tune in next week. (promise)
In the meantime, perhaps we could all spend the weekend just trying to be more conservative.

To calculate the average size of each person's [footprint], it measures land use, pollution, energy consumption, and the level of carbon-dioxide emissions. It then determines how many hectares of land are necessary to produce or absorb what one person uses.

The impact of an average North American is double that of a European, but seven times that of the average Asian or African.

read the article

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Blue


***We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging to bring you this:
***


It's Spirit Week at the high school.
The kids show their school spirit by dressing differently each day. Yesterday each class was to wear a different color. Seniors wore black, Juniors wore blue, Sophomores wore red…you get the point.



Well, you CANNOT tell Ferris to wear blue. They were just asking for trouble.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Chapter 4 – The Beast Within

Riggs continued to grow and grow.
Beyond our expectations and much to Ferris’ delight.

She started to go through her mischievous stage. I suppose if we tally up everything she destroyed during this period it would up our grand total considerably. However, the losses were happening at such a rapid pace – I don’t really even know what we lost. We are still finding stuff out in the back yard – years later. We do know she ate a number of Ferris’ hats, a lot of pens and pencils, any Tupperware should could get her teeth onto and then… there was the Kermit massacre.


Yes, Riggs had developed a taste for …. stuffed animals.


We also learned during this period that Riggs liked to …no… NEEDED to run.
She ran in circles mostly, big circles and very, very fast. With seemingly no purpose other than to RUN. Sometimes she would carry huge sticks when she ran. It was also during this time we learned she had an incredibly high threshold of pain and was more powerful than any other dog we had known.
Clearly we needed a way to deal with this new phase and this freakishly strong dog.
And so we contemplated our next phase of confinement… and control.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Chapter 3 - Confinement

And so we learned – Riggs was not easily contained.
Since we really had no doors on the first floor with which to contain our new puppy (doncha just love an ‘open’ floor plan) we decided to invest in a crate. Crate training is supposed to be very good for a dog. They say they actually grow to love their crates as their dens. Julia is crate trained and that works very well. So off to Wal-Mart I go.

Hmmm, what size, what size. Based on the size of Riggs mother, and that the dog is only supposed to be able to comfortably turn around, I select one of the larger medium sized crates, (yes, I am sure you know where this is going) and for $29.95 I am outta there.

Riggs was adjusting nicely, and she and Julia started to play together.

The crate was working out pretty well (except we had to have it in our room at night to keep her from bouncing it all over the house looking for us).
But, as you may have guessed, it wasn’t long before we couldn’t stuff her into the crate anymore.

Luckily we are able to borrow a larger crate.

We put her favorite Batman comforter in there and she seemed happy enough.
As you can see we lined it with some rubber flooring material because she would dig so hard at the metal bars to get out – we thought this would protect her. HA.

Shortly thereafter, we gave up on the idea of a crate altogether.


She was happy, which of course made us happy. But this still left us with the problem of not being able to confine her.

We decided we needed a door.
So we bought an interior French door (we needed a door with some glass) from Home Depot for $125.00 and some hinges and a doorknob for another $25.00 bucks.
I hung it myself.
It’s a little crooked.
But it keeps the dog in the mudroom.

There, problem solved. Dog contained for only $180.00.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Chapter 2 - The First of Many

When we got her home…she and Julia were the same size.


Our kids had already picked out a name.
"Riggs" - after Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon – they actually wanted us to get two puppies so they could name them Murtaugh and Riggs. Luckily when we arrived to pick her up all the other puppies were spoken for.
Our other pet’s names are also from the big screen – the kids are movie buffs. Julia is named after Raul Julia, because she has those big dark eyes; and our cat Willow is named after Willow Ufgood from the movie Willow.

On her very first night, we made a cozy bed for her in our mudroom. She had her water bowl, newspapers for the inevitable accident, a toy we brought home from the pound with the scent of her litter mates and a little soft music to sleep by.
Since there was no door on the mudroom we put up a baby gate to confine her for the night.
After about an hour or so of whimpering and crying there was finally quiet.
Silly us to think that she had fallen asleep – when in fact – that little darling 6 week old puppy ATE her way through the baby gate. She chewed a hole in the heavy plastic mesh making a small little hole, and squeezed her way out. Her first successful escape.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Free Dog - Chapter 1

There is just so much to say about our FREE dog that I have been avoiding blogging about it.
I have decided to do it in a series. Hopefully this will make it more manageable. Kinda like when your kids start to get older and their bedtime stories become chapter books, you read one or two chapters a nite. So I will begin this series, and as regularly as I can will blog until the story is finished. I will try to keep the chapters short and I will include pics whenever available.
Enjoy.

In the beginning….
A brief history.
Years ago we had a black, pure bred Lab named Rikki (Rikki Tikki Tavi). She was a phenomenal dog. She was that dog that would lay on the porch with you or catch and return anything you threw and follow you everywhere (sometimes she used to follow behind the tractor as I cut the grass …back and forth, back and forth). She helped Ferris to learn to walk …he used to pull himself to a standing position by grabbing her fur. She never flinched. The girls (the daughter and my sister in law…who we used to refer to as ‘the girls’) used to put hats on her and make her be in their Barbie movies. Rikki was a remarkable dog. I know that now more than ever.
We lost Rikki when she was 10 years old to our busy street. Black dog at night running across the street… it was my fault … I let her out and expected her to stay in the yard as she usual. She didn’t.
We miss dear Rikki.

After Rikki died, well, we still had Julia…who is really just a tiny replication of a dog. She is a 6 pound mini-pincher. And she never really filled the ‘dog’ requirements.

So I suppose there was always a hole in our lives.
Oh, about 2 years later, the daughter comes home with some information about some lab puppies at a local pound. I really can’t tell you what possessed us to go and look…but we did.

Now, dogs from the pound are FREE, which seemed such a deal after the hundreds of dollars spent on our last dog. We had to go through a rigorous interview process to be sure we were going to provide her with a suitable home. I was actually nervous. We plotted and conspired on how to answer questions so that we would pass, so that we would be granted permission to take home a FREE puppy. We assured the animal control officer we were not the type of family to simply give up when the dog started chewing or barking or shedding. We were competent dog owners and there was no way this dog would be returned to the pound or tied out in the yard all by herself in the cold. We were RESPONSIBLE dog owners.

This is the puppy we chose at the pound.




Thursday, October 14, 2004

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Catching up...

ok ok...trying to catch up.
Had an exquisite birthday weekend. Thanks to my generous wife and awesome kids.
The wine tasting adventure was so much fun. Here are some shots from our day. Also got to have birthday pie (which is from now on a tradition at our house...no more birthday cakes - just pie!). And lots of presents :o)
I do so like October. The daughter's b-day is coming up at the end of the month. So more birthday pie to come!

In other news....
Do try to tune into the debate tonight - if for no other reason than to get handy one-liners to toss around the office tomorrow. Atho, the wife and I have made a pact - that if they start off as nasty as they did last week we are going to watch Sopranos repeats.

Why can't just ONE presidential candidate answer a question with ...
1) the ANSWER (this clearly must be rocket science)
2) no derogatory comments about his opponent (not part of the answer now is it)
3) some data, statistic, facts even conjecture to back up the ANSWER
4) and focus people... when asked a question about the budget - don't answer with someone's attendance record
5) and this is probably too much to ask - but if most of what you say already sounds like a joke - don't try to make jokes, we can't tell the difference

Remember Perot... wasn't he a hoot. If we can't have a really good candidate - why not have a really funny one.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

back real soon

sorry been busy. busy at work ...well actually, we took yesterday off to go wine tasting. i have some pics. will post them soon.
Monday is my birthday. Its also National Coming Out Day.
So if you were planning to come out this weekend, you may wanna hold off until Monday. More on this next week....

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Couple-a-new ones

I am matting and framing some pieces for my artsy wife for some upcoming shows she will be entering this fall. I take photos of them as I frame them generally - so while I was sitting here...thought I would post 'em.
Won't she be surprised. :o)

This is Ferris in Italy. They went last summer. He is enjoying a gelato and its about 120 degrees. (remember that crazy European heat wave last year!)


Gelato by the Trevi
~watercolor~


This next one is currently untitled, as Ferris is researching an accurate name for this architectural detail from Madrid.


untitled
~watercolor~


My adventurous wife took our daughter to Europe when she was a teenager (which is probably coming up on 10 years ago now). The daughter got to pick all of their destinations. She favored London, Belgium, Paris and of course Italy.
Well, last year was Ferris' turn. He surprised us with a strong desire to visit Madrid, they also spent a bit of time in Italy visiting Rome, Naples and the beautiful Sorrento.
The daughter wanted to take in as much as she could, she's an adventurous traveler with non stop energy. Her goal was to visit as many places as time would allow. He wanted to stay as long as he could in each spot. Getting to know the rhythms of real life in other countries, relaxing and making the most of each visit.


Monday, October 04, 2004

Weak for Appliances

I just went down to the local Sears store to buy a new filter for the vacuum.
This store has just added appliances to their offerings. I can’t just walk by appliances. I love them. I need to open the doors on all the fridges and look inside to see if our stuff will fit, and how the shelves work and how they can be configured. I need to examine the ranges to see if the stovetops and controls will be easy to clean. I look into the washer tubs… just because the lids are open. For some odd reason I am drawn to appliances. I want new appliances.
Actually… we need new appliances. No… really we do.
Our fridge is about 10 years old, I have repaired the door hinge at least 3 times and the door still bangs loudly when you open it. The bottom drawer has completely broken its tracks so you can’t put anything heavier than a couple bags of salad in there. I have replaced the butter door…but it doesn’t really match. And to my wife’s dismay it’s a side by side. She would love a bottom freezer. The stove too is in a sad state. We are down to three burners now, and really, its just plain ugly. I want a new snazzy one. Actually, I really, really want this one. I have been waiting for someone to invent this. I can’t imagine why it’s taken so long. I don’t want an over the stove microwave, and our counter space is very valuable. But it is Ferris’ single source of food preparation so… we have to find a way to live with it (remind me to blog about how we are getting rid of the microwave, 4 of our TV’s, cable and a couple of pets when the kids get their own places), and this seems like the perfect solution.
I left the store today without any major purchases of course. But shortly there after I emailed my very, very patient wife with some thoughts on getting some new enameled wonders for the kitchen. Have I ever mentioned she was the most patient woman in the world? Which is good because I am now emailing her links for new fuel efficient, cost effective cars I want to buy.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

For Beth

Because I am so thrilled Beth and Nerdstar have been reunited, I am blogging for Beth today.
She asks:
'The first topic I'm curious about is not so much how you knew your love was "the one", but the idea of pre-wedding jitters - or any panic you had when you realized you were committing yourself to them for the rest of your life. Was it easy or hard to make that committment, was it easier for one of you than the other, is it easy to keep that committment?'

This is easy. Follow my patient and loving wife's way of thinking. For the last [near] 20 years she has told me "I love you today."


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Some days

All do-it-yourselfers have days where nothing works quite right. Every cut is off, no matter how many times you measure. Things get dropped all the time, but on these days it’ll hit your foot every time…same foot.
We all have ‘em, we can all commiserate. But compound one of these days with PMS… and you have my morning yesterday.
The woodshed did get built, but … well…it’ll keep the wood dry (after another couple hours of fidgeting with it). But its not the innovative design that I had envisioned.
Its ok, its behind the garage, I will be the only one who ever really sees it. (well, the wife may see it in daylight – but after dark, in the winter – I would be the one fetching wood, she likes to be INSIDE when its cold and dark out – right next to the wood stove, for which we are harboring all this wood).
All that aside, I had revelation later in the day which made the whole day worthwhile.
No more 4’ x 8’ s. That’s right, I am swearing off sheetrock, plywood, cement board, and any other material in that size/weight category. I am done building ‘stuff’. And I am happy.
No more remodels, no more building things in the backyard, no more heavy renovations. (well…I have one window to put in the back of the garage – but since there is a gaping hole where I took the other one out, I kinda gotta finish that up.)
I would even go so far as to say I no longer need the van… BUT – the van sure came in handy when we found the cutest little chair on sale at Pier 1 on Saturday.
Ok... so keep the van – lose the big projects.
This is my plan.

Monday, September 27, 2004

soon..

sorry for the lack of posts.
work has been busy.
today i am home, waiting for the tree guy.
while he climbs trees with a chain saw (see... as a do-it-yourselfer i do know where to draw the line) i will be constructing a wood shed.
winter is coming, i gotta get my ducks in a row -- or at least get my wood into a dry shelter.
more later...

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

just testing

Today I am testing the new SEC rules that surround stock options whose value will exceed $100,000 in a calendar year.
Would someone please grant me enough stock options where I would have to worry about such nonsense.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Fall is Football

How 'bout them Saints. 30-27 over the '9ers.
(yeah yeah...possibly over a bad call - I'll take what I can get)

Yup. Here I sit in my CT suburbia, a Saints fan. I've never even been to New Orleans (which is remarkable because I logged over 80,000 miles a year while traveling with work... this was back in the late 80's, when I truly honed my fear of flying, and had a closet full of expensive designer name suits -- BUT this is a whole 'nother story... as usual).

So why the Saints you ask?
My theory on sports is (me ...the consummate athlete, who at 42 is being taught how to stop 'throwing like a girl' by my son... oops digressing again) aaaanyway - my theory is: you look good, you play good. Sports is so about confidence. If you feel good about how you look its a huge confidence boost. I have to wonder how can you feel confident wearing skin tight teal pants.
Now the Saints...now there's a good looking team.

And yes, I do know their record. But for sure this is the year things will turn around. And even if it doesn't I will continue to don my "Weese 20" official customized NFL jersey every Sunday with my matching socks with their fleur-de-lis insignia. Because I am a loyal fan. Win or lose, I am right there with ya... 'scuze me while I grab another cold one outta the fridge.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

I'm not morbid, just frugal

So I had this great thought yesterday.
I have had my van for 12 years now (I love my van). I figure I can eek out 2 or so more years on it.
So … that means… if I can get 14 to 15 years out of a car, I will only need to buy two more cars in my lifetime!

My ever-patient wife simply nods when I start talking like this. Our daughter - the psyche major in grad school - thinks that some folks may find that disturbing.

Personally, I am very pleased.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The Fam

It was my mother in law's birthday recently and my thoughtful wife thought it would be a good idea to take a family picture and pop it into a little frame for her.
Easier said than done ...
and do you wanna guess who was not all that co-operative. :o)

Monday, September 13, 2004

Belated

I had meant to post this on Saturday.

An email from my wife received Tue 09/11/2001 9:22 AM:
a few minutes ago, a commercial airplane crashed into the world trade center. the plane was flying directly above park avenue...it passed directly above my head as i was walking from grand central. i couldn't believe how low it was flying, and then i saw the billowing smoke from downtown.

absolutely horrible. ambulances, firetrucks, and helicopters are everywhere, racing down town.


I tried to call her, but there was just that really fast busy signal, so I tried email.
I replied:
I heard the pentagon has been hit... can you get out. I can't call you!!!


received from my wife at Tue 09/11/2001 9:57 AM:
yes, the pentagon was hit too.
i heard the plane that i saw was highjacked from boston.
they've shut down lower manhattan.
they're also shutting down the subways, airports, and bridges.

i can't call you.
call [our sister in law] and find out when my parents' flight gets in.


then finally at Tue 09/11/2001 10:04 AM:
i am going to try to come home now.

Friday, September 10, 2004

The burbs

Forgive me please. It was never my intention to use this blog as a place to bitch and moan. So …I don’t …well… generally.
But you know what – I am simply weary of suburbia.

I am tired of jagumbo SUV’s with full home theatre systems inside, and would you puleeezze… what. is. with. the. Humm-mers. Sheesh.
If you think the SUV’s are outta control – you outta visit the high school parking lot.
Incredible.
And could the houses get any bigger?
Looking for a home? Here is the new construction in my town.


I am just tired of the fa├žade of wealth, tired of the undertones of competition, tired of meaningless pursuit of bigger and better ‘stuff’.

Bitch session over. Back to our regularly scheduled blogging.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Rain, snow and other weather stories

It’s raining again here in CT today. I like rainy days.
I am not sure why, but I like the grayness of them, and there is a closeness that I find comforting… nurturing. I kiddingly say it ‘centers my chi’ – but it's not so much of a joke.

It's similar to the way I feel about winter. I don’t like the cold, nor do I ski or snowboard …or any other winter sport for that matter. But I like winter as a season. I don’t mind the short days – getting up in the dark, going home from work in the dark. It’s a season of healing, of rejuvenation, of hibernating – well without the sleeping all day, I am not one to sit around much, let alone sleep in the day time – nope, no naps for me.

I also like a good storm – a windy rainstorm or a blizzard. Not the dangerous kind of storm, I am not a thrill seeker…and I really don’t need any repairs added to my long list of things to do. Just storms that make you pause and watch their fury and their glory – lightning is always a nice addition to such a storm. I like the business of preparing for a storm… a hunkering down. Preparing some good warm food, setting out candles, perhaps a nice hot toddy, or some mulled cider. I also have an odd need to be home when a storm is approaching. This can actually cause me some anxiety if I am at work and it’s nearly time to go when I see a stormy sky. If I am out running errands I will cut them short if I see one blowing in. I like to be home to watch their approach. There is a familiarity to watching one blow in, watching the west go dark and ominous. My wife and I often enjoy summer storms on our covered porch, although I freely admit to fleeing when the lightening gets close (safety first). My brave wife will stay out there – thrill seeker that she can be sometimes. Also, it’s best for me if everyone is home when a storm is coming. But I have learned with the kids getting older that this is often not the case, and my supportive wife has helped me to let go… I find solace instead in making sure that all the pets accounted for.

With fall fast approaching, I am making ready for winter. I am like a squirrel gathering nuts… although I do try not to race out into the road with armloads of firewood. It’s almost time to batten down the hatches, put away our summer toys and pull out the woolies… oh, and rake…and rake… and rake.
Gotta get me one of these.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Getting in touch with my masculine side

This weekend I helped my energetic wife prepare some of her extraordinary perennial gardens for winter. I don’t normally get too involved in the gardening per-se, I usually stick to the lawn. For example – we have a lovely vegetable garden which my wife plants, waters, weeds, nurtures and harvests – I eat the vegetables. Other things that would fall into my realm include say – building a fence around the vegetable garden to keep out the ‘FREE’ dog ..
(gotta remember to blog about the dog – you see there is a fence to keep the dog IN the yard, and another fence, around the vegetables, to keep the dog OUT. We have become quite proficient at fence building and repair since we got this dog…and I will cover that in more detail when I blog about the FREE dog.) But – I digress.
So my task this day was to cut back or cut down large masses of perennial flowers, which have passed their beauty and are ready to rest. I was given a pair of pruning shears to do this.

Ok, so I am about 15 minutes into this thinking, c’mon – there’s got to be a better way – there has got to be a power tool to do this, there has got to be a power tool in my own shed which can at least be modified to make this task go A LOT faster. Are you with me guys?

Coming up with nothing that I thought may be acceptable to my wife who so lovingly and gently puts her flowers to bed (yes, the weed trimmer crossed my mind – and I think if I had that blade attachment I may have been able to make a case for it)…I continued to cut and pile and dump and cut and pile and dump until I noticed a little something that needed my attention --so I went off to get a shovel and a spade, while I was in the shed I noticed that some of the tools were on the wrong hooks and when I went to move the steel rake to its proper spot I remembered I had to plant some seed along the driveway, so I started to look for the seed which was behind the 10W30 so I put some of that in the hand mower cuz I needed to cut the front lawn shortly after I went down the street to get some gas for the tractor, and probably should get that spare propane tank filled since I was gonna be out and all…

Friday, September 03, 2004

Prime Time at the RNC

So... what did you think of that speech last night?
Well written...well executed, kinda riveting -- perhaps informative.
Did it help you make your decision on who to vote for?
Ok ok... relax. Nope - didn't see it. We watched Sopranos reruns.
tee hee.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Philanthropy

My 2 cents on philanthropy.
Bill Gates…Oprah… even Angelina Jolie
They call these people philanthropists (well we can call Angelina pretty much anything) .. and that may be true according to the Webster definition of the word.

Main Entry: phi·lan·thro·py
Pronunciation: -pE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -pies
Etymology: Late Latin philanthropia, from Greek philanthrOpia, from philanthrOpos loving people, from phil- + anthrOpos human being
1 : goodwill to fellowmen; especially : active effort to promote human welfare
2 a : a philanthropic act or gift b : an organization distributing or supported by philanthropic funds

Personally I beg to differ. Sure they give a lot of money to various causes and do a great deal of important work -- they also live in luxury I cannot even fathom. They give…but not so much so they couldn’t buy another car, or luxury liner or gold plated manicure set.
We give. And for us to do it – means we go without something.
Sorry Bill – I win, hands down.

Heifer.org

Monday, August 30, 2004

My Blogfather

Got to meet my Blogfather this weekend. My lovely wife and I visited with him and his family on their trip to the states.
He was the catalyst that started me blogging. He also guided me on blog-ways and blog-etiquette as I got up and running.
I have known David in an online sorta way for many years but we had not met until this weekend. Our connection however goes waaaay back. We went to high school together, although we did not know each other while we were there.
It was a pleasure and an honor. He is, as he sounds on his site -exceptional.
His wife, Zahava is enchanting, bubbly and funny. She makes you feel instantly at ease. The kids are great story tellers (hmm, wonder where they got that), Gilad cracked us up and Ariella was sweet and very eager to join in the conversations with her own anecdotes, while little Yonah tried to hold himself together while waiting for his Tylenol to kick in (poor guy ...).
He and his family are just as he portrays them in his tales. Kind, inviting, witty and just good people.
For sure, the next time we find ourselves in Efrat we will stop in.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Shawna

I picked up Ferris from driving school yesterday afternoon, and he motions for me to get out of the drivers seat on his way over to the car with a buddy. Since he has gotten his permit, he drives EVERYWHERE.
He and his buddy get into the car, he gets situated behind the wheel, and turns the key.
Of course the engine is already running – so it makes that really loud embarrassing grinding noise. At which point they both start laughing so hard they can barely sit up. Evidently, there is an attractive young girl from his class watching him as he is doing all this and he is VERY aware of it. He is mortified, and his laughter is almost out of control.
He pulls himself together enough to back out and drive past her through the parking lot. She is watching the whole time – he never stops laughing.
We get around to the back of the building, and rather than going out the exit he says, “I’m going around again.” His friend in the back seat is now hysterical – I am starting to giggle too. So – we go again. She watches, smiling, the boys are still hysterical, and I am watching the road because my GOD someone has to. We get to the back of the building again and he says, “I’m going around again.” This time he turns the radio up and plans to kinda do a point his finger / wink gesture at her… not meant as a cool thing but as a way to sorta laugh at himself and the situation. Of course he is too hysterical laughing to do that, so we simply drive by again, him watching her, her watching him, buddy in the back seat roiling with laughter, and me…just along for the ride.
This time – when we get to the back of the building he pulls over to do some planning about how to get her number. It is eventually decided that the buddy will go.
He jumps out of the car cell phone in hand and disappears through the buildings.
He returns successful. Her name is Shawna, her number has been saved to both their cells.

Do you know the scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – where Jennifer Grey meets up with Charlie Sheen in the police station.
Sheen : You didn't tell me your name
Grey : Oh, well it's it's Jean, but a lot a lot of guys call me Shana.
And there is this swell of music in the background “Shaaawwwnaaa”
Its pretty funny, and the guys had to play it as soon as we got home.

There is mandatory 3 day waiting period before the initial call can be made.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Not sure why

I never do these.
Got it from Lachlan.

1. Your name spelled backwards. Asil. I kinda like that.
2. Where were your parents born? Norwalk CT; Bridgeport CT
3. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer? Scanner driver.
4. What’s your favorite restaurant? Jeffrey’s with my love, Buffalo Bills with the fam.
5. Last time you swam in a pool? 2 years ago. PTown.
6. Have you ever been in a school play? nope
7. How many kids do you want? Already have 2. Would now like about 4 or so grandkids.
8. Type of music you dislike most? Really loud music.
9. Are you registered to vote? Yes.
10. Do you have cable? Yes, digital, every channel.
11. Have you ever ridden on a moped? No. But my adventurous wife wants to get a Vespa.
12. Ever prank call anybody? No. Not even as a kid.
13. Ever get a parking ticket? Yes. And towed! In PTown. Oops.
14. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving? If I could do it from about 2 o3 feet up.
15. Farthest place you ever traveled. France, England, Belgium… which ever is farthest?
16. Do you have a garden? Yes, vegetables, perennials, annuals, weeds -- we have it all.
17. What’s your favorite comic strip? Don’t really read ‘em. But I love Calvin and Hobbs.
18. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem? Yes.
19. Bath or Shower, morning or night? Shower – always morning, sometimes both.
20. Best movie you’ve seen in the past month? Have not seen a movie this month. (note to self – gotta get out more)
21. Favorite pizza topping? Most things.
22. Chips or popcorn? Popcorn. But I rarely eat either.
23. What color lipstick do you usually wear? Back in the day – whilst wearing suits to work…hmm that was so long ago I don’t remember the color.
24. Have you ever smoked peanut shells? Well…But I didn’t inhale.
25. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant? Not that I can recall.
26. Orange Juice or apple? Either. But I rarely drink juice.
27. Who was the last person you went out to dinner with and where did you dine? The fam! Last night for wings and a pitcher.
28. Favorite type chocolate bar? I had to stop eating chocolate... so ANY kind is now my favorite.
29. When was the last time you voted at the polls? Town budget referendum – last summer I think.
30. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato? Yesterday, and I have one for lunch today too.
31. Have you ever won a trophy? No. not ever. :(
32. Are you a good cook? I am an adequate cook.
33. Do you know how to pump your own gas? Yes, and do.
34. Ever order an article from an infomercial? Ha! Yes. The Ginsu knife when we were a silly young couple starting out (still have it 20 years later). And some cleaning product I think – ordered while drunk.
35. Sprite or 7-up? Neither.
36. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to work? Yes. Would like to wear one now too (I have a ‘thing’ for lab coats).
37. Last thing you bought at a pharmacy? Sports Illustrated.
38. Ever throw up in public? Yes. At 16 or 17
39. Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love? True Love = millionaire.
40. Do you believe in love at first sight? Yes.
41. Ever call a 1-900 number? No.
42. Can ex’s be friends? Anything can happen.
43. Who was the last person you visited in a hospital? My step Dad – I was with him when he died.
44. Did you have a lot of hair when you were a baby? Yes! Dark and curly.
45. What message is on your answering machine? Blah, “You have reached ###-####, please leave a message.”
46. What’s your all time favorite Saturday Night Live Character? Anything Gilda.
47. What was the name of your first pet? Muffy.
48. What is in your purse? Wallet, sunglasses, cell, pen, and a medical emergency authorization for our son (see what gays have to go through). Purse goes into a backpack – which can be compared to Mary Poppin’s bag, everything I may need is in there.
49. Favorite thing to do before bedtime? We usually watch a show together before bed – but sitting on the patio on a warm summer night beats that.
50. What is one thing you are grateful for today? As I am every day. My family, my love.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Politics - my way

I woke up this morning to the radio telling me the Republicans were going to put the Constitutional ban of gay marriage on their platform.
This makes things easier for me. Before I felt like I should have some good, sound political reason for voting for Democrat.
All I had so far was… doesn’t that Teresa have a sexy voice, and as far as condiments go – ketchup is right up there.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Ow ow ow ow

Would someone please remind me… and my achy wife, that we are over 40.
We need to stop the madness. We seem to be on a project jag.

This weekends projects involved heavy things. Things so heavy they should really be just left where they are.
The catalyst for this project, as it is for so many, was the FREE dog. (a post soon to come is the list of improvements done to accommodate our pound puppy)

There is a place in the back yard by the fence where the dog has worn away any semblance of a lawn. It’s where she goes to greet (attack) people when they pull into the driveway. We have been trying to figure out a solution to this problem for quite some time. We finally came up with – rocks. Rocks are heavy. So is digging out the dirt where you want to install the big, heavy rocks. My wife loves working with rocks. We are pretty sure she was a mason in some former life – but at 5’2” and 115 lbs wet… she is not really built like a mason.

Add to that – me and my bright ideas. I decided mid way through the project that we need to purchase a couple of 6”x6”‘s to install in an area adjacent to this, since doing it at a later time would simply be more work.
Have you ever lifted a pressure treated 6”x6”? Well, evidently when you want to sink one halfway into the ground and level it – you end up lifting it a lot.

So of course, after installing these ridiculously big and heavy pieces of wood, I spent the remaining time trying to convince my wife that quitting for the day and having cold beers was a really, really good idea. She put me to work while I was trying to talk her out of finishing the project that we ended up finishing. She is very clever, that wife of mine. And we are both very sore today.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Early fall in CT

Fall seems to have arrived early here in CT this year. I know this, because the ‘webs’ have arrived.

In the fall, the spiders like to build these massive webs that span from the lower tree branches to the ground – to other trees – to nearby towns… These things are big. They can span 10 feet easily. And they are everywhere, with these big brown spiders sitting contentedly in the middle. Waiting. There seems to be certain conditions that these spiders favor, making our side yard the mecca of spider inhabitation.

Yesterday evening –- me on the tractor cutting the grass with all this web activity was pretty high on the ‘neighbor entertainment scale’.

I shudder just writing about the feeling of driving through one of these things on the tractor. Often times you don’t see them at all. There I’ll be, driving along enjoying the scenery and suddenly my whole head is wrapped in sticky web-ness. The first thing that goes through my mind is where was/is the spider. This is when I start to flail about, peeling the stringy mess off my face, brushing wildly at my head and neck just in case the spider is there, all the while looking for remnants of the web. It is then that I remember that I am on a moving vehicle with whirling blades careening toward a tree or stonewall or sometimes the street. Sudden corrections in direction are often necessary to avoid an accident. My tractor also conveniently comes with a ‘kill-switch’, so that when I shift my weight on the seat (during the flailing) the engine starts to stutter and sputter. The flailing will go on for some time after the correction to the cutting pattern, as I still have the creepies thinking there are spiders on me. It eventually calms to a sort of nervous tick, until of course I hit another one. Sometimes I have to stop the tractor all together and compose myself.

From the neighbor’s point of view – sans the spider web explanation of course, all they see is a lunatic on a big orange tractor (We’ve got a big yard and a respectable tractor to cut it. It’s a Husqvarna, 15HP, 42” cut swath, hydrostatic transmission…with a cup holder).
There she goes again, that crazy lady next door, cruising along on her big orange machine, waving her arms wildly, twisting, writhing and cutting her lawn in crazed erratic patterns. That’s when the neighbor’s call out the family and get their lawn chairs.
“Hon! Lisa’s cutting the grass again – c’mon out and bring the kids.”

I have started to drive around holding my claw grabber tool (used to pick up the billions of dog toys without jumping on and off the tractor) in front of my face. This way, I usually notice the web as it wraps around my hand before it gets to my head. This is somewhat better. I suppose now I look like some crazy parade master on a big orange float.

I did miss a couple last night and got one full in the face. I need a better plan.


Thursday, August 19, 2004

Town

Check out PTown today...it is mobbed!
Carnivale week.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

It’s only paint.

Vacations can be relaxing, and fun and in our case damned hysterical.

My wise wife told me over sushi and saki on the last night of our vaca that she thinks every couple should do what we just did. Take a week off, at home, and see what comes of it. Don’t take the week for a big project (as we have so often done in the past), just let projects come your way… or not. We found that we ended up doing small one day projects that probably would have sat on a list forever or perhaps had never even been thought of.

And what’s better than sitting with a cool, refreshing cocktail while admiring your work. Or … in some cases – sipping that drink while trying to figure out how to fix what you have just spent all day screwing up. (warning – this may require numerous cocktails, so please refrain from driving to Home Depot, or operating power tools and heavy machinery)
Cocktails are key here – if you happen to be a tee-totaler – might I suggest some Paxil, perhaps pot, meditation or even sex.

Our ‘project gone awry’ this week was “Painting The Foyer”
But with mutual understanding and respect, and the availability of many colors to mix in our very own basement… (and some cocktails… so key) after only painting the room 2 and half times (and twice on the trim) we arrived at something we love.

Surviving a home improvement project gone wrong is one of the greatest accomplishments of a relationship. Anger will not make a 5’2” door fit in a 5’0” opening, shouting will not stop water from spewing all over a room from a failed pipe sweating, slamming around power tools certainly won’t add an inch to the new trim you just cut to short. So stop all that – turn to the one you love, the one you have just spent so many sweaty hours with creating this horrible disaster, look deep into your loved ones eyes, knowingly – lovingly - then go directly to the fridge, grabbing your checkbook and the phone on your way back.

Whatever the project– revel in the accomplishment. And if the results suck – turn off the water, shut off the power, step away from the paintbrush, grab a cocktail and laugh.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Back from Vaca

I am back. A bit busy here at the office for a proper post...
but the vaca was FAB.
We had so much fun, we laughed so much. We got a bunch of stuff done too.
Now - we detox.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Day 5

before...

after...


after after...

Monday, August 09, 2004

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Saturday, August 07, 2004

photo of the day

I have decided that while we vacation here at home this week - each day I will post a photo intended to capture the essence of the day.
Stay tuned for pics.

Friday, August 06, 2004

vaca

We will be kicking off our vacation this evening.
As I may have mentioned before, usually we spend a week in PTown with friends each summer.
For various financial reasons we have decided not to go this year.
No regrets, we will enjoy a luxurious week at our favorite place - home.

But if you want to see what's happening in Town, go here.
And if you've never been - well, I highly recommend it.

If we do anything worthy of pics next week I will be sure and post it.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

DYI

When we moved into our house 16 years ago our neighbors took out lawn chairs, grabbed a cocktail and settled in for some entertainment.
You see, we are Do It Yourselfers.
I can’t tell you how many projects we have started which were WAY over our heads. It wasn’t unusual for us to have to call in reinforcements. Professional reinforcements.
I remember coming home from the store one afternoon to find my new wife standing in a pile of rubble of what used to be the plaster ceiling in our kitchen. This was of course the catalyst for a new kitchen. Sometime later that summer we decided we could no longer live with our cracked cement porch steps.
Both of these project required professional intervention.
I have since hidden the sledgehammer.

Older and wiser now, we take on only projects we are fairly certain we can finish. This weekends adventure was to remove and replace some tile in our small kitchen foyer. Seemed like an easy enough project for the same people who gutted and rebuilt their own bathroom last summer.

Being the well oiled project team that we are – we divide the project tasks between us for which we are best suited. For example, my patient wife was the one who chipped off each old tile.


I took on the removal of the sub floor. Since we couldn’t find all the screws buried in the old mortar, the floor had to come out by brute force. It was a long, arduous battle. The sub floor almost won.
This is where we learned the invaluable lesson – if you don’t have the right tool, use ALL the tools you have.


She took over the next day to lay the tile, my job during this time was to occasionally cut tiles and keep the dogs at bay.

It was during this part of the project that we learned our second lesson. Even though my wife of superior intelligence can do complex algebraic formulas in her head -- never let her estimate materials.
Which brings me to my other job responsibility – making trips to Home Depot to pick up more materials.


Last night we finished up the job with the tile grout. Again, this falls into the realm of my meticulously skilled wife. My job… copious compliments on her amazing grouting capabilities, supplying water, and keeping the dogs at bay. And just after midnight we had our finished product, and it looks damn sparky.

(sorry about the picture quality – did I mention it was after midnight)
So the room is done. Well... except for painting, and replacing the trim molding, spraying and reinstalling the heat registers, and possibly that door sash... but that's it.

We both have next week off from work. Project TBD.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

coming soon

to a blog near you....
a post

no really
soon...

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Have I ever mentioned that my wife of 19 years is a talented painter.

Monday, July 26, 2004

7.26.04

Happy Anniversary my love.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Race Day

Another big happening over the weekend which I am slow to report on.
Our daughter ran her first race! It was a local 5k sunset race. She has been running now for just a few short months and she ran this very hilly course at a 9:00 pace.
She started running because she found that her walking a few miles a day was no longer challenging, she started walking because she found that her exercise tapes were beginning to get a little rote, she started exercise tapes because she wanted to augment a diet she had started, she started to diet because she was 90 pounds heavier than she is today. Yes. 90. And she doesn’t weigh much more than that now.
We are so proud of this young woman.
Look at our little peanut.


Here we are prior to the race, with the fated Gatorade (Gatorade ...bad).
Her biggest concern here is missing a turn and running off the course.


There she goes!


At the finish line!
*gag*... damn Gatorade. (Actually...I was snapping pic after pic to try and get a good one of her finish. But people kept stepping in the way. Then, there she was right in front of me... great shot huh...oops)


It's all good. A little water, and we feel MUCH better.
Yay! Victory!.