Jul 30, 2008

Ride at your own risk

I am sitting on Mom's patio drinking coffee, breathing the fresh Tennessee air and soaking in the (relative) peace and quiet broken only by the sounds of my brother Bratley mowing his lawn on his X-Mark lawnmower which is roughly the size of a Roadmaster Buick (my brothers have a fondness for big, tricked out lawnmowers--the bigger the better, double triple extra points if you can do wheelies with it).

I got to Mom's house yesterday afternoon and took my first ride on the Alzheimer's roller coaster here at Six Flags Over Mom. At first she wasn't all that surprised to see me since I'd only driven in from Knoxville and all (actually I had just made the three plus hour trek from Atlanta) but then she realized it was me and not my sister, and I had to remind her I don't live in Knoxville anymore. And then I had to apologize for not mentioning my out of state move earlier, even though I was pretty sure it had come up in casual conversation at least once in the last 32 years. And then I strapped into my seat and pulled the safety bar down real tight and the roller coaster took off.

Let me give you an example of how things work in this house. At one point in the evening I was sitting on the patio with my three brothers, my sister and Mom, talking about nothing in particular. As it began to get darker I lit a candle which helped a little but it was still pretty dark, and then my brother Paul remembered he had stashed some solar powered landscape lights in the storage building.

Paul: Mom, I just remembered I have some solar powered landscape lights in the storage building. Would you like me to put them around the patio to give us a little light?

Mom: That's fine. Do whatever you want.

Paul: So that's a yes?

Mom: If you want to. I don't care.

Paul goes to storage building and retrieves the solar powered landscape lights.

Paul: What about me putting them here in the flower bed along the front of the patio, Mom?

Mom: That's fine.

Paul: Two here, and two over there?

Mom: That's fine. Don't put them so close together--put that one more towards the end.

Paul: How about here?

Mom: That's good.

Me: Those are nice looking lights, bro.

Paul: They're really good quality. I used to have them at my house.

Mom: Do they plug in to electricity?

Paul: No, they're solar—they use the sun for power. There, how does that look, Mom?

Mom: I guess they look okay. They're not very bright.

Paul: They'll be brighter tomorrow night after they charge up in the sun all day.

Mom: Oh, okay.

We sit quietly for a couple of minutes admiring the landscape lights in the flower bed.

Mom: Where did those lights come from?

Paul: My house.

Mom: When did somebody put them in my flower bed?

Paul: Just now.

Mom: When?

Paul: Just now.

Mom: Who put them there?

Paul: Me.

Mom: Why didn't you ask me first?



Mom: You kids never ask me before you go changing things. You do whatever you please and never say a word to me. You treat me as if I were an idiot.



Mom: How would you feel if I came to your house and changed everything without asking you? You kids never tell me anything. Lord, please take me out of my misery, please. These kids do things to my house without asking me and treat me like an idiot. What have I ever done to deserve this?





Me: Those are nice looking lights, bro.

Paul: They're really good quality. I used to have them in my house.

Mom: Do they plug into electricity?

Jul 26, 2008

Let's talk wedding for a change

Just kidding. I am ready to talk--or think--about anything except wedding for a change. So let's talk lake instead.

We came to the lake last night to meet with the caterer and the DJ who'll be working at the weddi...uh, you know. We stayed on the boat and woke up this morning to a beautiful sunrise, the sound of waves slapping against the hull, and a long list of things we need to do up here, not the least of which is cleaning Seas the Moment so she'll look real purty to potential buyers. We close on the new boat in about a week and a half and we figure it's best to get our cleaning chores done before we get possession of the new one and are tempted to jump into working on it instead of doing chores on the old one.

In addition, later this afternoon the lady who is baking the cake for the weddi...uh, you know, is coming up to talk cake and I invited her to stay for dinner. Since we couldn't feed a flea with the food in the pantry at the moment, a trip to the grocery store is in order along with a few other errands that absolutely have to get done today. As you can see, we had to jump right out of bed this morning and get busy, busy, busy.

So here's what we did instead:

Our friend Bud closed on his new boat last week and we wanted to take a cruise.

The boat's name is Moonflower and she is beautiful. This photo doesn't do her justice--it makes her look more like a big white sherman tank than a boat, but it was just a bad angle.

Here's Shelby taking a tour of the interior. The boat came nicely decorated and beautifully appointed. As you can see in the photo below, Shelby admires the gorgeous teak trim:

And here she smiles as she admires Bud's compact but efficiently designed galley:

And below she casts more admiring glances towards the teak in the salon. PS: You'll notice Shelby is politely averting her eyes from those clothes on Bud's sofa because it might be his underwear or something personal. Actually I think it was just a tee shirt, but you can never tell. It's best just to pretend like you don't see it.

After we took our cruise, we came back to our boat to get busy with our chores, but instead I pulled out our laptop and posted these pictures. And I looked at the photos of Bud's sofa to see if it was maybe boxer shorts or just a tee shirt. I think it's a tee shirt.

And now Morley is starting to look as if he's tempted to toss me overboard if I don't get busy and go shopping for grub so I gotta go. Hope you're having better luck in getting your weekend chores done than we are.

And thanks for not forcing me to mention the...uh, you know.

Jul 23, 2008

Mars vs Venus, the shopping edition

Thanks everyone for the sweet emails after my recent essay about Mom and her Alzheimer's. My sister cried when she read it and then she sent me something she had written along the same lines which made me cry. And then we began exchanging tearful, sentimental emails that made us both do the ugly cry at work which then forced me to lie to my coworkers by saying I have terrible allergies.

Thank goodness my niece who had spent the morning on the cc: line on all those weepy emails finally jumped into the fray with her own email containing a cyber slap upside the head and snapped us out of it, otherwise we'd probably still be going strong and my coworkers would be taking up a collection to buy me an industrial size bottle of Claritin and an oxygen machine. Anyway, after Shea helped us get a grip we all shared a virtual group hug and we all got back to work, and this morning in our usual phone call where my sister and I discuss Mom we were totally back to normal. So thanks, Doll--we needed that. We needed it real bad.

Now, what was I talking about before? Oh yes, the wedding (go figure).

Anyway, I was telling you about ordering the wedding dress of my dreams off the internet and being disappointed when it arrived and was much more revealing than it looked on the internet. It wasn't close to being a dress I'd feel comfortable wearing to a wedding, although it would have made a lovely choice if I was preparing to perform in a strip club under a stage name like "Alota Fogina" or "Booberella".

In contrast, allow me to tell you about Morley's efforts in the category of wedding wardrobe. He too had a specific idea of what he wanted to wear and I happened to find the exact set of threads he had in mind on the website where I bought my pole dancer's dress. I showed him the website photos and he said "perfect!" so we placed an order.

His clothes arrived in the same box as my dress and he tried them on over the weekend. They fit perfectly. Don't even have to have them hemmed. And they're of great quality and the design looks even nicer in person than it did in the photos.

In addition, I found the specific shoe he wanted on another website. I showed him the website photos and he said "perfect!". So I checked and of course his size was in stock--I was ever so happy for him--so I ordered the shoes and they arrived via UPS within 24 hours (free shipping! what a bonus! That must have been a load off his mind) and they look great and fit him to a "t".

So after, say, five minutes of grueling effort on his part, Morley is pretty much good to go for the wedding. Isn't that nice.

44 days to go and I still need a dress.

Jul 20, 2008

About Mom

My mother has Alzheimer’s disease. The first sign that things were not as they should be came many years ago, maybe a decade or more, when she began misplacing her car keys on a regular basis. At first we thought it was funny and teased her about it relentlessly because it was so out of character for someone who ran our family so efficiently. She was always a take-charge woman who raised six children largely on her own. It's not that Dad wasn’t around--he was--but he owned his own business and worked long hours to support the family and for much of my childhood was at “the station” seven days a week and often late into the evening if somebody needed a tow or a car auction was going on. His absence left most of the day to day drudgery of raising the family to Mom.

She was always busy doing the kinds of chores that I couldn’t begin to do in my own life. She grew vegetables on a grand scale in a garden that consumed much of the land beside the house, then she harvested and preserved her bounty for us to eat during the winter. She canned several different kinds of pickles, peaches, chowchow (a relish much beloved in the South), tomatoes, pickled beets, vegetable soup, green beans and any number of other things, plus she cooked vast batches of the world’s best fried corn and froze it in dinner-sized portions that filled a large chest freezer. She made jellies and jams and apple butter, and she and Dad grew peanuts which she dried in the hull for snacks or shelled them to make peanut brittle.

She sewed clothes for us girls and herself, and made so many quilts that they eventually filled an entire closet before she began sending them home with us a few years ago. She designed and made a unique child-sized quilt for each of her first several grandchildren, and on top of everything else did the bookkeeping for the business and ran it when Dad had to be away. I can’t remember a time in my childhood when Mom sat around reading a magazine, or even her watching television in the evenings in the living room with Dad without her hands being busy sewing or crocheting or writing a letter to some far away relative in her handwriting with its big loops and perfect spacing.

I distinctly recall the first time I realized that misplacing her car keys was more than just a funny new habit she’d developed. She called my middle brother who lives in the house beside her late one night and insisted he come right away to help her find her keys. She had spent the previous several hours searching her house from top to bottom and by the time she phoned Roger for help she was in a state of panic. He eventually found her keys in the freezer.

The next symptom of the disease that had begun to take her away from us was when she began to retell the same stories over and again. At first she’d repeat something she had told me in a phone call the week before, but a decade ago she’d usually catch herself mid-story and ask if she already told me whatever it was she was telling me. Nowadays she is often caught in an endless loop as she comes to the end of a story and immediately starts back at the beginning, telling it over and again until we manage to divert her attention onto something else.

Over the years many other pieces of my mother’s sharp mind have slipped into a dark cave from which they will never emerge. The woman who used to manage her finances with precision and efficiency asked her youngest son to take over the task of her checkbook after she received a cancellation notice on her car insurance because it had not been paid. The fearless traveler who was always the driver of choice when she and her lady friends attended family reunions in distant places one day asked us to disable her car so she couldn’t go for a drive some day and perhaps forget how to find her way home.

She returned to me her stash of her favorite peach scented candles I had always kept her supplied with because she was afraid she would forget to blow them out when she went to bed and might possibly burn her house down. And the woman who had always taken great pride in her kitchen skills as she prepared vast home-cooked feasts for the endless crowds who were always at our house—whether it was our school friends hanging out after a game or our many relatives—no longer cooks anything other than her breakfast of toast and coffee because she forgets to turn off the burners. Her meals are now delivered to her by her children who must beg and cajole her to please eat just a little because she no longer feels hunger or thirst.

There have been many agonizing moments as we’ve watched Mom’s mind slip away but I think my oldest brother might have witnessed one of the most heartbreaking. Early in her illness she still had awareness of what her mind was like before the disease and she knew she no longer thought or spoke in the same way she had before. One night the reality of what she had already lost and the realization of the terrible fate that awaited her came crashing in on her with brutal clarity. She wept with all of her being, her tiny shoulders shaking with gut-wrenching sobs as she grieved for everything she had already lost and was still to lose, and she faced the unfaceable truth that her life of independence and dignity was over forever. Her grief that night was so profound and so deep that it could only be subdued by sedatives administered at a hospital emergency room.

Today the person who looks like Mom is not really our Mom. She’s a 100 pound bundle of contradictions who, in the blink of an eye, can go from sweet child to hardened adult, from cheerful to bitterly angry, calm to frustrated, gracious to unbearably rude. Many of the stories she tells these days are no longer accurate because her mind has cobbled together the details of events that happened decades apart to form a single memory that bears little resemblance to real events.

New memories are rarely possible since she forgets what happened as soon as it has happened. In telephone calls she complains that my sister never comes to see her, although many times I’ve just hung up from talking to my sister as she drove home after visiting Mom. She will insist my siblings remove some item or another from her house and take it home with them, then later will be absolutely certain the thing was stolen or removed without her permission. And when the item is returned to its original place in her house in an attempt to placate her, she complains it was dumped off because my sibling didn’t want it cluttering up their home (at one point my youngest brother had transported her white sofa back and forth so many times that we teased him about putting casters on it). Some of the greatest challenges for us come in trying to find humor in dark situations and learning to bend reality to fit the version of reality that exists inside Mom’s mind at any given moment. And all of us struggle mightily in digging ever deeper to find the patience required to cope with the constant twists and turns.

It is indescribably frustrating to listen to Mom express hurt or unhappiness over someone's unkindness to her when we know the event that is so upsetting never really happened. But we no longer have the ability to correct for any length of time her flawed and corrupted memories, so all we can do is listen and sympathize as best we can and try to get her mind on something else.

For me, when I think about Mom and Alzheimer’s disease the greatest emotion is not sadness but anger. I am angry because all the things I never got around to telling her can now never be told or truly comprehended, and questions I never got around to asking her will never be answered. What was her recipe for that fabulous vegetable soup I’ve never been able to duplicate? How did Dad propose to her? Was she scared when Dad went away to fight the war and she was back home with a house full of young children? I’ll never know the answers to those or an endless list of other questions, yet she is right there in front of me--she still looks like Mom and sounds like Mom but she isn't really Mom.

I get especially angry to think of the 20 year old beauty with the deep blue eyes who married the young milk pasteurizer from Marbledale and grew up to be a strong, fiercely independent woman who could shoot a gun with legendary accuracy, change her own flat tire, and bake a killer blackberry cobbler while balancing the books and raising six kids and is now being methodically taken from us one brain cell at a time by this vicious bastard of a disease. That makes me really, really angry.

The only comfort is that Mom no longer truly remembers what she was like before the disease took control of her mind. She can no longer see herself in any context beyond what exists at this very moment in her tiny universe comprised of her own house and garden. She would be utterly mortified and inconsolable if she could see anything more than that.

I’m not sure why I wanted to post this story tonight. I know it is a far cry from the normal silly stuff I talk about here but for some reason tonight seemed to be the night to talk about Mom.

Sorry for the downer. I’ll be back to talking about my usual mundane stuff tomorrow, promise.

Jul 18, 2008

I become Bridezilla

This morning my daily email from the nagging fishwife at the wedding website informed me there are 50 days left to go. As soon as I finished screaming and put on clean underwear, I collected my wits about me and made a list of things I have yet to nail down:

1. Food
2. Drink
3. Music
4. Marriage License
5. A bunch of other stuff

You'd think I'd be something of an expert in getting married but apparently I've gotten a little rusty in the 25 years since I last did this.

I was thinking all we had to do was pick a date, say "y'all come" to our favorite people, then I'd go shopping for a nice dress. As it turns out, there's more to it than that and everything is complicated. For example:

Wedding Dress: From Day One I had a vision of the perfect dress--feminine and classy, not too dressy yet not too casual, flowing and a little unique, in a style that revealed just a teeny amount of cleavage that was slightly sexy yet very modest and utterly appropriate to the occasion. And it would make me look like a size 4. And 24 years old.

I searched the world over and on the internet found exactly the dress I'd envisioned. It came yesterday. It shows more boob than a mammogram. With 50 days to go I still need a dress.

Most brides would be freaking out in this situation but not me. Oh, no. This is where my considerable prior experience comes in play. I remind you of the night before my wedding 25 years ago when I went to the mall to pick up my dress after its final alteration and discovered a terrible mistake had been made--the seamstress had shortened my dress many inches too many. As in, my dress was a foot or more too short. Less than 18 hours before my wedding I ran through the mall like Wilma Rudolph on speed to find a replacement dress that required no alterations whatsoever. Luckily (because I am just that lucky) I found a dress that fit me perfectly which I liked even better than the botched original, and I was able to buy it for a song off the clearance rack at the most expensive store in town. (Don't you love a happy ending?). So with that experience under my belt you can see why it doesn't scare me that I have 50 days to find a wedding dress that's somewhat less revealing than a surgical gown.

Well, maybe it scares me a little bit.

Minister: Our first choice was the guy at the non-profit we work with in Nicaragua but it turns out he isn't licensed in the USA. I tried to talk him into getting ordained as a minister before September 6th but he wouldn't go for it--something about him needing to hear a call from a higher power and not just me begging him to do my wedding. Or some such nonsense.

A close second choice was the former head pastor at my church. He recently resigned out of the blue during a Sunday morning sermon and left our church the same day. He was hard to track down but I eventually got in touch with him only to learn he isn't a licensed minister anymore--obviously mistakes of some sort had been made. I don't know all the details and really don't care to know, and I still think he's the best minister I've ever had. Besides, if I talked about his mistakes it would only be fair to talk about mine and we don't have time to go into all my mistakes right now. There are only 50 days until the wedding and I'm kinda busy.

I haven't bonded much with the new minister who took his place so we moved on and found one who seems likeable and easy to work with plus he's available. I just hope he gets our names right at the ceremony ("Do you Sue take this man Marley...").

I have to go now because there are other pressing matters that demand my attention. For example, I have recently become aware that I was mistaken in my earlier assumption that food mysteriously materializes at wedding receptions. Apparently this is not true. I am told that I am supposed to actually meet with a caterer before the wedding to discuss food. There may be some expectation on their part for money to change hands as well.

If this trend keeps up the next thing you know somebody's going to tell me the courthouse doesn't deliver marriage licenses via FedEx or musicians don't happen to be driving by weddings just when you happen to need one to play at your reception.

Jul 13, 2008

Wedding Vows

We are currently trying to figure out what vows we'll use at the wedding which is just 55 days hence. We'd like the ceremony to be fun yet serious and thoughtful without veering too far on the gooey side. You know, just like us.

Our minister helpfully sent us reams of options to choose from, but after I read them a couple of times and still couldn't decide, I gave the assignment to Morley and he came up with a great ceremony I think is just about perfect.

Although I wasn't much help in picking the winner, I was able to rule out a few--for example, here's one that didn't make the cut:

Jul 11, 2008

And we see the bottom

Yesterday was the day we pulled the boat out of the water so we could take a look at the bottom. If we found any structural problems or nasty blisters in the paint it would have been a deal killer.

I previously filled you in on the problems we had in getting this boat out of the water. Due to this dang draught and the low lake levels we couldn't use the cranes, so our only choice was to rent a trailer and use one of the few (maybe even the only) ramp in the lake that could handle the job. Fortunately the marina we're in extended its ramp by fifteen or twenty feet last winter when the water was even lower than it is now, and we needed every inch of it.

A semi truck backed an enormous trailer all the way to the end of the ramp to get the trailer as deep in the water as possible, then Morley and PC, the boat's current owner, drove the boat up to the ramp. That's Morley standing on the bow:

Then PC gently guided the boat over the submerged trailer. He had never, ever put a boat on a trailer before--not even a tiny fishing boat--but he's an airline pilot and is confident in his driving skills. He got it right on the first try:

Then the marine service guys secured the boat to the trailer with some mega straps and the truck started slowing driving up the ramp.

To give you an idea of how low the lake is, look at the arrow in the photo below--that's our marina's guest dock where in normal times visiting boaters can tie up while they'll visiting someone in our marina. Guess we won't be expecting company any time soon.

The semi truck pulled the boat into the parking lot and everyone swarmed around and started peering under the boat to see if there were any ugly surprises lurking below.

The cute chick in the photo below is Martha, the boat surveyor we hired to inspect the boat to make sure everything is ship shape. I just love her. She's a certified surveyor (a home inspector for boats), holds a captain's license so she can legally pilot any boat--even huge ocean-going yachts--plus she owns her own marine business and charter company. She's a cool chick. I want to be like her.

And the next photo shows the bottom we were so eager to see. Not only were there no ugly surprises, everyone was flabbergasted at how great it looked. Morley said the bottom of Seas the Moment probably doesn't look as good as this.

After everyone spent about an hour looking at bottoms and trim tabs and props and drive shafts (that is, everyone except me. I was busy taking photos and trying to find some shade to stand in. It was hot as blazes yesterday), it was time to put her back in the water where she belongs.

Martha nonchalantly walked towards the ramp with an 18 wheeler rig carrying a zillion ton boat rolling right behind her. Martha is a very cool chick. I want to be like her. I might have already mentioned that.

And here's the boat coming back down the ramp. This photo shows an even better view of the land-locked guest dock lying on the ground.

And then the marine company slowly eased the trailer back into deep water and took off the straps holding the boat, and it gently floated off the trailer.

And then Morley drove it back to the slip and parked it.

Looks like we're buying a boat.

FOR SALE: 350 Carver Mariner on Lake Lanier. Lovingly maintained, excellent condition. Motivated sellers just purchased another boat and must sell. No reasonable offer refused. Call for more details.

Jul 10, 2008

Pulling the Big Boat and a Quote

Today's the Day:

At 12:30 today we get to see what the bottom of the Butt Ugly Boat looks like when it gets pulled from the lake on a big trailer. Needless to say there'll be plenty of photos and maybe even a video clip to follow.

Stray Neuron and the Best Quote of 2008:
"From the time Barack Obama was sworn in as a United State Senator, to the time he announced he was forming a Presidential exploratory committee, he logged 143 days of experience in the Senate. That's how many days the Senate was actually in session and working. After 143 days of work experience, Obama believed he was ready to be Commander In Chief, Leader of the Free World, and fill the shoes of Abraham Lincoln, FDR, JFK and Ronald Reagan. 143 days. I keep leftovers in my refrigerator longer than that." - Columnist Cheri Jacobus

...and lots of people just can't wait to vote for him. That's just scary.

Jul 9, 2008

Please Stop Yelling at Me

Soon after we set our wedding date I signed up with a wedding website that sends me little email reminders of the stuff I ought to be doing at each stage of the planning process, and each email includes a handy little countdown timer across the top telling me how many days are left until the big event.

At first the emails were like love notes from my new best friend, full of excitement and good ideas and encouragement, and they always had a cheerful "isn't this fun" kind of attitude. Back when there were lots of days left to go, I would get an email every week or two gently suggesting I take care of one task or another, most of which I blew off thinking I had plenty of time to get around to it.

Now the emails are being fired at me on a damn near daily basis and those previously gentle suggestions from my perky best friend have turned into a nagging tongue lashing from an ugly fishwife who screams at me over my failure to take action on some pretty mission critical stuff. These emails have taken an ugly turn, actually.

Oh sure, to the untrained eye the emails I'm getting these days might look exactly the same as those early ones but I am not fooled, not one little bit. I can see the dark underbelly and it ain't good. These emails look me straight in the eye and call me a slacker and remind me that it won't be pretty when everybody I know on Planet Earth shows up for a wedding and there's no minister. Or food. Or music. Or tables. Or chairs. Or cake. Like I don't already know that. Sheesh.

Even worse, they've taken on a mocking tone of voice sort of like Kathy Bates in the movie "Misery". And that little countdown timer at the top line screams like a banshee now. Really, it does--I hear it in my sleep almost every night. And I definitely heard a sarcastic "I told you so, you moron" when our first wedding gift arrived and I suddenly realized I had failed to order thank you notes.

And today the ugly fishwife email screamed at me that there are 59 days to go. I wish.

Since I let Morley talk me out of rescheduling the mission trip to Nicaragua--for which I am the official mission coordinator--I don't really have 59 days. I have to subtract some days on account of (1) my wedding planning abilities will be limited while I'm in Nicaragua since we won't have telephones or internet or other stuff, for example notepads or ink pens (2) we'll be awfully busy digging toilets or building pig pens or something equally non-wedding related and (3) I have to spend some of those 59 days coordinating the approximately 100,001 details for everyone else who's going to Nicaragua and what we'll be doing once we get there.

Basically here's the bottom line: I have to get everything done on the wedding before we go on the mission trip so I really have about 49 days max left to pull this baby together. Although Morley is willing to help out, he's still working ungodly hours at the office and simply doesn't have much time to pitch in. He did, however, put the postage on the invitations and drop them off at the post office. Didn't he do nice work with that? And I didn't use the sarcastic wedding fishwife voice when I said that either--if he hadn't taken care of that task your invitation might well still be sitting here on my desk screaming at me to mail it already for Pete's sake.

(Should I be worried that lately I'm hearing voices from inanimate objects? No? Good. My placemats are such liars sometimes. I don't know why I even listen to them.)

Anyway, my point here is that isn't easy simultaneously planning a mission trip to a third world country, working like fool to get ready to be away from the office for a couple of weeks, and planning a wedding with guests coming from two continents. And as an added bonus Morley's 60th birthday--an event that cannot go uncelebrated--falls smack dab in the middle of it all. Nah, I got nothing going on down here. How about things at your house?

Well, there is just one more thing going on but it's a fun one--planning for our commitment ceremony in England. It's essentially a second wedding ceremony that Morley's family, his old school friends and our new dear friends Les and Ros (whom we met on our cruise last January) will attend. It will be held in October at a castle about an hour away from where Morley's family lives.

Thank goodness Carol (Morley's darling sister Carol, not my friend Carol who is helping me with the ceremony here--you can never have too many Carols in your life) is doing most of the work in planning it. It will be a more intimate event than our USA wedding and we are both looking forward to it a lot. It will be the grand finale of the whole marriage process and a combination wedding, honeymoon, celebration and vacation. Plus, it can't hurt to get married two different times in two different countries in front of two different groups of witnesses. I reckon we'll be good and truly hitched after that, don't you?

Enough whinging for today--"whinge" being a new word taught to me by my future sister-in-law. It means "to whine". (I wonder what might have brought that up? Don't answer that). And now I really need to get busy and accomplish something if I want to avoid another tongue lashing email from the wedding planning fishwife tomorrow morning. The wench. I hate her.

Jul 7, 2008

Mellow was good while it lasted

We had a great long weekend at the lake. On Thursday night we took the boat out to watch University Yacht Club's spectacular fireworks show from the water--it's very cool to see the fireworks right over your head and reflected on the water's surface--and on Friday night we hung around the dock and watched the fireworks display put on by Lake Lanier Islands. Morley loves, loves fireworks so he was in Heaven.

On Saturday we spent the night on an island tied up to our friends Steve and Joe (I should clarify that we tied up to the boats owned by Steve and Joe, not tied up to Steve and Joe personally. You can never be too clear about these kinds of things).

It was a perfect combination of the best and worst of boating. On the "worst" side of the equation, all three of our boats had electrical problems at one point--our generator wouldn't start, but Steve happened to have an extra battery with him which fixed the problem. Then Steve's generator crapped out and he couldn't get it fixed with the parts he had on board, but Joe let him run an extension cord over to his boat so Steve could still make coffee and watch the NASCAR race on TV. Then Joe's boat had a problem with his 12v system, but Steve was able to get it fixed which restored power to both of them. There are two lessons in there: (1) something is always going wrong with boats and (2) Steve is a handy guy to know. We don't call him "MacGyver" for nothing.

The best of boating came when we sat around on a peaceful island talking with friends, cooking dinner on the grill, watching a gorgeous sunset, then going to sleep with the boat gently rocking in the water with the sound of waves lapping against the hull and cool lake breezes coming through the windows. On Sunday morning we woke up to a spectacular sunrise and had our coffee up top watching it sparkle on the water. It was good.

On the way back to the dock Sunday morning we cruised by one of the crane companies that had turned us down when we asked them to pull the Butt Ugly Boat so we could inspect the hull. They told us there wasn't enough water at the cranes to handle our boat and I guess they know what they're talking about--here's what the crane looks like normally:

And here's what it looks like now:

To give you some perspective, look at the boat sitting in front of the building to the left. It is a pretty good sized boat so you can see just how far below ground level the water is these days--about sixteen feet less than it should be.

On Sunday afternoon Morley hung out on the dock with our pals Bud and Joey talking about the new boats they were thinking of buying while Heather and I walked up to the marina chapel to take some notes and make some decisions on the upcoming wedding (which, by the way, is now less than two months away). It was a peaceful day and we were relaxed and mellow to the max when we packed up all our stuff and headed home.

And then on the way home I (literally) almost killed Morley when I (literally) almost ran over him with my SUV when we stopped at the grocery store to buy cat food. And then half an hour after we got home our neighbor's house caught on fire.

But I'll have to tell you about that later. I've gotta get to work.

Jul 3, 2008

And we're off (work)

...not to be confused with "they're off" posted a few days ago. Apparently I am limited in my abilities to come up with catchy, original headlines this week.

Today is the last day of work before I drag my ex-pat Englishman to the lake to celebrate the day that America starting a steady decline in the Queen's global real estate holdings. As you might imagine, Morley always takes some ribbing on the occasion of Independence Day.

We've really been looking forward to this weekend since we are way overdue for some relaxation. Even though we didn't go to the office the week Morley had his recent surgery, that does not count as relaxation. At all. In fact, referring to that week as relaxing is like referring to Daniel in the lions' den as being at a petting zoo. (I should point out that in that example I would have played the role of Daniel and Morley did a masterful job in the role of Lion. I'm just saying.)

The last time we had any good quality time to goof off was last January when we went to the Southern Caribbean for two weeks. This is what Morley looks like in a relaxed state:

Handsome devil, isn't he? And very, very mellow.

And here's a photo of Morley taking a photo of the ocean:

Doesn't he look relaxed? People like to take photos of a the ocean when they're mellow. It's a mellow person kind of thing to do.

And this is what he looks like now:

I took this photo in the back yard after we got home from the office yesterday. He's picking gravel out of the lawn and putting it back in the pathway, one tiny piece of gravel at a time. (OCD much?) This is not a task that would cross the mind of a mellow, relaxed person. I rest my case. Definitely a dude due for some R&R.

And here's a photo I took yesterday afternoon of our goldfish in the backyard pond:

The picture of the goldfish has nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of this story. I just thought it was a cool photo.

Anyway, I hope you have a great weekend and get to do some goofing off of your own. Note to Bratley and family--don't forget to call me with your travel plans and let me know when we should expect you guys. I'm making the grocery store run this morning and I want to be sure we have enough grub, otherwise we might have to eat fish caught in the lake and you really don't want to do that. Or at least I don't think you would want to. Anyway, call me.

Happy 4th of July! God save the Queen.

Jul 1, 2008

we hit a snag

The deal on our Butt Ugly Boat, which for purposes of brevity I hereby dub "the BUB" (say "dubbed the BUB" out loud a few times--it's fun), has hit a minor snag. One condition of the deal is we want to see the bottom of the hull before we close to make sure there aren't any problems below the water line. The seller agreed for us to haul the beast out of the water and now the problem is how to go about it.

Normally it would be no problem--there are companies that do this by putting huge slings under the boat and then using a gigantic crane to lift it out of the water so you can walk around underneath and take a look at the bottom. Well, technically speaking I wasn't going to walk around with a 45 foot long boat swinging over my head, but Morley was going to and I was going to stand somewhere less perilous--such as under a shade tree--and catch all the action with my camera.

Unfortunately we've been turned down by all the crane companies. Thanks to the draught there's only four feet of water in the part of the lake where the cranes are located instead of the normal 15 or 16 feet, and four feet is way too shallow for the BUB to go into. So we've moved on to Plan B: find a ramp on the lake that still leads into deep enough water to handle a boat this size, then rent a mega size boat trailer for a couple of hours.

One marine company says their ramp still has enough water to accomodate us and they'll have a mega size trailer available in a couple of weeks. And that's where we are: waiting for the trailer to become available and praying for the water level to hold steady.

And that's all the news for today. Now I'm off to the office to welcome a new Electrical Engineer who starts today (another fun thing to say after months of looking for just the right person) and see if I can get some work done while I'm at it.

PS Dig out your chrome polish and your buffer--we're going to need all the help we can get when we close on this beast.