Aug 30, 2008

one hot shower, por favor

Advance warning--the following post contains limited punctuation because I am still using a Spanish keyboard with mysterious symbols on the keys where punctuation marks ought to be.

Tonight is our last night in Nicaragua and it has been a wonderful week. As I write this I am sitting in Amigos office at just before 7 PM on Saturday night. Most of the group has already left for home in the USA, and its just Morley, Carol, Juan the security guard and me here in the house at the moment. The medical team that arrived last night has walked to a local cantina for dinner, and Lisa and Doug are with the remaining group climbing a volcano about an hour away.

What a week. We have been absolutely filthy and bone tired every day but we ve loved every minute of it. Lisa and I painted a big exuberant mural on the side of the recently built medical clinic, and Lisa and Carol taught some art classes.

Morley and Doug planted several hundred fruit trees--literally--and shoveled tons of Selecto to create the foundation for new school classrooms. By the way, Selecto is a combination of lava rock and sand thats incredibly heavy and unwieldy to shovel but it compacts beautifully and makes a great foundation which can stand up to earthquakes. Please pretend there were parenthesis around that last sentence. I would have put them there if I could have found them on the keyboard. We shoveled, painted, moved things from Here to There, and cleaned out a farm shed. If its heavy, weve carried it or shoveled it.

The Amigos staff down here did two really sweet, special things for us this week. On Tuesday night--the first group dinner after Carol arrived from England--they threw a 60th birthday party for Morley, complete with a cake and a pinata. Morley swinging at the pintata was hilarious. I made home movies which I will gladly show you. Pretend there were parenthesis around that sentence too. Thanks.

The other thing they did was to devote one day to celebrating our upcoming marriage. The morning devotional was all about love, then they formed a circle around us and prayed for our marriage to be successful. The whole thing was so beautiful and touching and made both of us a little damp eyed and mushy.

That evening after we got home from working at the village, the Amigos group arranged for all 15 of us to go to dinner at a local restaurant. As a special treat they had arranged for Morley and me to be driven there in a real actual car which was a nice change of pace from riding around in the back of a pick up truck all week. The rest of the group walked to the restaurant to meet us and we literally drank every bottle of wine the restaurant had--all four bottles--and ate every single steak in the place--all five of them. The food was delicious, the company was excellent, and they ended the evening by giving us a wedding card that each of them had signed. What a night that was--we will never, ever forget it.

Tonight we pack up and leave for the airport in Managua at 4 AM so I need to get going and start packing my nasty clothes and get ready to go home. I'll tell you more stories about our adventures after I get home and get my hands on a keyboard that speaks English.

Aug 29, 2008

Hola from Nicaragua

I have about 10 minutes access to a computer so I will make this a quick one. You ll have to forgive the lack of proper punctuation because the keyboard is Spanish which means the apostrophe key does this ç and the comma key does this ñ and hell if I know where the key for the quotation marks is because the one labeled quotation marks does this Ç.

Anyway, we are here and doing okay. It is hot as blazes and humid as hell, and it rains every single day. Nicaragua is much the same as the last time we were here except now the people in the village are showing some signs of prosperity and a few people are even carrying cell phones.

Maybe Im getting too old for this or maybe my memory of previous trips is foggy, but I think sanitation is worst than it used to be. Loretta and Carol, dont EVER even think of coming down here--you would spend your entire trip cleaning. Seriously, the whole country needs some Lysol and a scrub brush and even I am having a bit of a hard time getting used to some things, such as the rat dookie in our dorm room. The two of you would spend every night sleeping on the front porch.

Anyway, my time is about up but here are some pix to show you what weve been up to

Ooops, times up on the computer so I gotta run. Hopefully you can tell we are having a good time and getting some good work done. See you guys in a few days right after I spend some quality on a manicure and pedicure.

Aug 24, 2008

Under the Volcano

It's so funny that all the things that have filled my brain to overflowing in the past several months--work, wedding, more work, tumors, work-- have fallen completely off the radar screen this morning. We're leaving for Nicaragua in a few hours and all we can think about is getting back to that village and checking in with our buds to see how they're doing.

For example, these kids, especially that young girl under my arm. That's Kenia and we're very best friends. She cries every time we hug her goodbye to come home and she springs out of nowhere and leaps into our arms every time we come back. She writes me often to tell me how she's doing in school (great) and how her family is getting along (great) and how much she misses us (a lot). And I write her to tell her how much we miss her and how many days are left until we get to come back to see her again.

Here we are with Kenia and her family two years ago. I can't wait to give every single one of these people a huge hug about this time tomorrow.

Please note my uber flattering 'do in this photo, which Morley calls my "Nicaragua Hair". The sun bleaches my hair out until it's almost white and the humidity makes it so curly that I can hardly comb it--I look like a bleached out Bozo the Clown. Not everyone can carry off the look but I think my pink Barbie fanny pack helps pull it all together. Just go ahead and say it: I am one fashionable chick.

Also, we have to look up this kid. We tease her by calling her "Devil Girl" because she's a bundle of mischievous energy every living minute of the day. Morley held her the first time when she was only a few months old and every time we see her she's grown six inches and has gotten even more beautiful. This kid is going to be a handful when she gets to be a teenager.

...and this is the poor guy is who will beating the teenage boys away from her door. He's her dad, and the lady in the background is her mom, Natalie.

I call Natalie "Maestra" (teacher) because she's the one who taught me to make tortillas a few years ago when my job was Kitchen Girl at the school. I can't wait to see her again, although I'm a little worried she might pull me into the kitchen for a pop quiz. My tortilla making skills are a little rusty.

And seeing this view is like old home week--the volcano we work under every day. When we first went to Nicaragua it worried us when the volcano steamed like this. Now we get worried when it doesn't.
And I can't wait to see my man in a 'doo rag, digging holes or pounding nails, or whatever he's going to be doing. Morley absolutely comes alive when he's in the village hanging with those macho men and doing manly things.

We have two rookies in our group this time (Morley's sister Carol and my daughter Lisa) and I can't wait to see the expression on their faces when they see this for the first time:

This is the daily rain storm rolling in. This is the rainy season so every afternoon at 3:30 a mega cloud like this one rolls in and it rains like a sumbitch. The cloud is so huge and so dense that it totally obscures the volcano in the background--they don't fool around when it comes to rain clouds--and when it rains in Nicaragua, it rains. The first time we saw a storm like this, we wanted to start building an ark and gathering up animals.

But now we know that after the cloud dumps several inches of rain (which only takes an hour or a bit less) the temperatures will be cool and nice for an hour or two, and everything smells so good. Plus we get to knock off work for the rest of the afternoon because the ground is too muddy to work anymore. And then we go home and take a cold shower (because we look like this by then) and eat rice and beans for dinner and sleep like rocks all night on inch-thick mattresses and pillows about as thick and fluffy as a rolled up newspaper. And then we do it all again the next day.

So we're off to visit some friends and help them build pigpens or dig latrines or do some other exotic project like that. I'll give you a full report in a week or so--just as soon as I get home and wrestle my hair into submission and get the dirt out of my ears.

Aug 22, 2008

Times' up, bridezilla.

I am no longer freaked out with preparations for the wedding and mission trip.

All the wedding details are now in the hands of professionals who will freak out on my behalf while I'm in Nicaragua digging pit toilets and working on my farmer's tan.

There's one small worry I kept for myself when I was dumping my worries onto the shoulders of the Professional Worriers: the matter of the missing musician. The musician who replaced the musician who bailed due to illness is now himself missing in action.

The only time I've ever spoken to Replacement Musician was a 30 second phone call last week when he told me the original guy had asked him to cover our gig and that he'd call me back the next day to discuss details. But I haven't spoken to him since.

With every passing day I worried more about it. Maybe our wires had gotten crossed? Maybe he didn't have us on his calendar? Maybe he had surgery like the first guy--maybe musicians are falling like trees these days? All these possibilities were running through my mind yesterday morning, and the more I thought about it the more worried I got, so I picked up the phone and called his house.

Mrs. Musician answered the phone and told me he wasn't home, that he's in Phoenix attending to an urgent matter, and she doesn't know exactly when he'll be back. I think she probably does know when he's coming back. I think she just said that to freak me out to get even with me for calling at the crack of dawn. Ooops, my bad. Sometimes I forget that everybody doesn't haul out of bed at 4 AM like we do, if you can believe it.

Anyway, she told me not to worry because we're on his calendar and he's played at lots of weddings and is an old hand at these things, along with a bunch of other comforting stuff a nice lady would say to a neurotic middle aged bride calling at 6 o'clock in the morning.

But since this musician is the very one who is going to play the "dum DUM DEE dum" song I'm a little worried anyway. As a back-up plan, I'll feel a lot better if you'd practice humming the tune and brushing up on the lyrics--not the lyrics with "big, fat, and wide" verse, the other lyrics--over the course of the next couple of weeks. And bring your kazoo if you have one. Just in case.

I'll probably obsess a little bit about this while I'm down in Nicaragua swatting mosquitoes and digging crappers.

Edited later to add:
I've now spoken at length with the replacement musician. He's absolutely delightful and everything his wife promised he'd be. And it's all good--we're definitely on the schedule, he's definitely showing up, and he knows all the tunes I had in mind. And hooo boy, are you guys gonna be grooving on this guy. I'd tell you more about him but I can't because he's a surprise for you. You're gonna love it, promise.

One less thing to think about while I'm digging latrines in Nicaragua: check!

Aug 21, 2008


And now we take a break from the high octane insanity otherwise known as "my life" for this important message:

Aug 18, 2008

Engineers are too cool. Sez me.

Watch this video, circa 1978. The guy playing the guitar (left side of stage, wearing a vest and no shirt) is the Bristol of Spencer Bristol.

Who says engineers aren't cool, eh?

A View of Time (your mileage may vary)

Actual Time Remaining until Wedding: 19 calendar days

Actual Conversation at 5:00 AM this morning:
Me: I woke up feeling really anxious this morning.
Morley: Why? We've got plenty of time--nearly three weeks.
Me: You gotta be kidding! We don't have three weeks! We've got a day or two, max!
Morley: (blank stare)
Me: Seriously!
Morley: (blank stare) (adopts soothing tone in voice) We have lots of time--weeks!--and besides, everything is pretty much done. And don't forget we close on the new boat today! Isn't that exciting?
Me: (blank stare)
Me: I forgot all about the boat! How could I forget we're buying a boat?
Morley: (soothing tone of voice now tinged with a touch of alarm) Maybe you just need more coffee--you just sit there and rest, honey. I'll go get it for you. Honey? Susan? Hello?
Me: (blank stare)
Me: (blank stare)

My view of the timeline:
Subtract 7 days spent on mission trip to a third world country (where I will get a farmer's tan which ought to look awesome with my wedding dress), which leaves 12 days. Subtract 1 day for remedial work following mission trip (removing dirt from under nails, treating insect bites and sunburn, removing black volcanic soil from scalp, pores, luggage, laundry, etc), which leaves 11 days. Subtract 2 days getting documentation, travel arrangements and supplies ready for mission trip (I'm the Mission Trip Coordinator), which leaves 9 days. Subtract the day before the wedding and the actual wedding day, which leaves 7 days. Subtract 5 days (out of the 15 work days between now and wedding) spent in half-ass effort at my actual real job, which leaves 2 days. Subtract 1 day spent on mandatory pre-wedding activities such as obtaining marriage license, final meetings with DJ, caterer, musicians, photographer, minister, putting clean sheets on guestroom beds, buying groceries so houseguests won't starve, making arrangements for dinner following the rehearsal, picking up flowers shipped in the day before the wedding, delivering reception decorations to caterer, calculating final headcount, arranging with neighbors to pick up guests arriving at airport the day before wedding, etc.

19 days minus 18 days=1 day until the wedding.

And I totally forgot about closing on the boat today (minus 1 day) which means the wedding IS RIGHT NOW, THIS RED HOT MINUTE!!

Morley's view of the timeline:
break in new workboots for mission trip: check!
wedding clothes pressed: check!
buy a new boat: check!
get marriage license

Aug 17, 2008

Rules for the New (old) Army

This topic has nothing to do with anything, but my pen pal sent me this commentary in an email and I thought it was hilarious--and true.

I am over 60 and the Armed Forces thinks I'm too old to track down terrorists. You can't be older than 42 to join the military. They've got the whole thing ass-backwards. Instead of sending 18-year olds off to fight, they ought to take us old guys. You shouldn't be able to join a military unit until you're at least 35.

For starters: Researchers say 18-year-olds think about sex every 10 seconds. Old guys only think about sex a couple of times a day, leaving us more than 28,000 additional seconds per day to concentrate on the enemy.

Young guys haven't lived long enough to be cranky, and a cranky soldier is a dangerous soldier. 'My back hurts! I can't sleep, I'm tired and hungry' We are impatient and maybe letting us kill some asshole that desperately deserves it will make us feel better and shut us up for a while.

An 18-year-old doesn't even like to get up before 10 a.m. Old guys always get up early to pee so what the hell. Besides, like I said, 'I'm tired and can't sleep and since I'm already up, I may as well be up killing some fanatical son-of-a-bitch.

If captured we couldn't spill the beans because we'd forget where we put them. In fact, name, rank, and serial number would be a real brainteaser.

Boot camp would be easier for old guys. We're used to getting screamed and yelled at and we're used to soft food. We've also developed an appreciation for guns. We've been using them for years as an excuse to get out of the house, away from the screaming and yelling.

They could lighten up on the obstacle course however. I've been in combat and didn't see a s ingle 20-foot wall with rope hanging over the side, nor did I ever do any pushups after completing basic training. I can hear the Drill Sgt. In the 'New army' now, 'Get down and give me ... er .. one.'

Actually, the running part is kind of a waste of energy, too. I've never seen anyone outrun a bullet.

An 18-year-old has the whole world ahead of him. He's still learning to shave, to start up a conversation with a pretty girl. He still hasn't figured out that a baseball cap has a brim to shade his eyes, not the back of his head. These are all great reasons to keep our kids at home to learn a little more about life before sending them off into harm's way.

Let us old guys track down those dirty rotten cowards terrorists. The last thing an enemy would want to see right now is a couple of million pissed off old farts with attitudes and automatic weapons who know that their best years are already behind them. If nothing else, put us on border patrol...we will have it secured the first night!

Aug 14, 2008

The Perfect Storm

Sorry I'm not posting much lately but I've had a "holy crap!" epiphany (above is an actual photograph of me at the precise moment of the epiphany). Realization has sunk in that there's a wedding in 23 days, Morley's 60th birthday in 10 days, mission trip to Nicaragua in 10 days, closing on the new boat in 5 days, plus I have a day job. Bottom line: Stay tuned and I'll tell you all about it later but right now I gotta fly.

Also, I need to do something about my hair.

Aug 12, 2008

Polish Paramedics

I am so totally not politically correct today.

Aug 10, 2008

Bon Voyage

Carol toasts Seas the Moment on what was likely our last "normal" cruise

On Saturday Morley, Carol and I took Seas the Moment out for a nice little excursion, sort of like expectant parents take their firstborn child to DisneyWorld just before his new baby sister is born and steals the limelight away from the poor unsuspecting kid.

In our case we're expecting a Butt Ugly Boat any day now (although I should point out that we'll go into hard labor after the baby arrives), and the blessed event will happen just as soon the current owner can arrange his flight schedule to get a layover in Atlanta. Once he's in town we'll rush to the hospital, er, lawyer's office to close the deal.

After the new boat is officially ours we'll be all excited and we'll want to spend all our time ooohing and aaahing over it and taking photos of it, and we'll hardly pay any attention to the old boat. We probably won't even throw balls with her anymore or go to any of her Little League games.

(This whole baby-boat thing is getting totally out of hand, isn't it? Okay, I'll stop now.)

Since this weekend was likely to be the last one when Seas the Moment is the star of the show the three of us went up to the lake to take her on a cruise. This is what we saw when we walked down the dock:

In the foreground is Seas the Moment, floating there minding her own business, not realizing there's now a "for sale" sign on her pole. In the background is the new baby--the Butt Ugly Boat which is soon to be rechristened "New Latitudes". I don't think I've mentioned it before but we decided against "Seas the Moment 2". We figured that a new boat, a new life, and new adventures calls for a totally different new name. We're still tossing names about but New Latitudes seems to be leading the pack so far.

The last normal cruise turned out to be quite a bon voyage party. By the time we left the dock there were nine people aboard and once we anchored out two more boats joined up with us. Seas the Moment felt really special and loved all day and she doesn't have a clue that we're about to dump her like yesterday's newspaper. We're not telling her either--it's a well known fact that boats tend to get even by breaking down and requiring expensive repairs at the very moment an interested buyer shows up. We're trying not to tick her off until we find a buyer and the check has cleared the bank.

We ended the day by going to an intimate little soire our marina threw for all 1,500 slipholders, and party animals that we are, we were back at the boat and ready to hit the sack by 9 PM. Here's a shot of Morley and my friend Max posing with the "Fair Tax" bumper sticker I scored at the party:

Unfortunately today (Sunday) all that bon voyaging and loafing about and having fun came to a screeching thud. We came straight home early in the morning so Morley could work in the office all day while Carol and I finished off some wedding stuff.

As of tomorrow we are officially in Serious Crunch Time: just two weeks to go until our mission trip to Nicaragua, then the wedding is only six days after we get home. I have two weeks to have every single detail resolved before we leave, plus be ready for a houseful of company as soon as we get back. And somewhere in all that we're going to have a Butt Ugly Baby. Er, boat. I meant to say Butt Ugly Boat.

Aug 7, 2008

A new perspective

At the risk of sounding uncharacteristically sappy and/or preachy, I want to tell you what happened last night.

Morley and I are the kind of people who just naturally stay busy most of the time but these days we have a lot on our plates even by our standards. Too much work and not enough people to do it, planning a wedding, keeping up with the house and garden, a mission trip to a third world country, buying one boat and selling another, fighting with our health insurance company, all on top of the other normal everyday chores and worries that everyone has---it's a lot to fret about.

The endless list of things that have to be done and not having enough time to do them has finally gotten to us. We're worn down mentally and both of us have been a bit cranky lately, something that is truly unusual for us.

Last night we dragged ourselves home from the office around 6:30m. We were physically tired, mentally spent and really hungry so we started digging to find something to cook for dinner. But the pantry was bare because we haven't had time to make a grocery store run in ages. A dark mood of crankiness descended and we began to focus on dark clouds and not the silver linings.

After we spent a few minutes wallowing in our frustration and gloominess, it began to dawn on me that lots of people would gladly trade their burdens for ours. Even though it's true that we have too much going on right now, at the root of almost every "problem" was something good.

In an economy where some people worry about having a job tomorrow, we're desperately looking for people to offer jobs to because business is booming. We're stressed over planning our wedding but the root of that "problem" is we've found our soul mates at a time in life when most people would have already given up and accepted that they'd never find theirs. And all those worrisome wedding logistics come from having an abundance of friends and family in two countries who love us and wouldn't miss our joyful occasion for the world.

I methodically went thru the list of things bugging me and to my amazement there was something good at the bottom of almost every single one of them. Keeping up with the garden is killing us--an abundance of food! A mission trip to Nicaragua--I'm helping instead of being desperate for help! We're in a dispute with the insurance company over the cost of the "out of network" treatments Morley received at the Mayo Clinic--he was miraculously cured! And the list went on and on just like that.

After I eliminated the list of problems stemming from good things, the list of remaining problems was astonishingly short. Our spacemaker microwave crapped out last week and the replacement we bought turned out to be DOA (which we discovered only after we'd installed the thing). Shelby needs to be taken to the vet to see about the strange rash on her paws that isn't going away on its own. We need to make a grocery store run to buy one of everything. All simple, everyday, ordinary stuff that anybody, even I, can handle.

After I thought about it some more even these problems come from being abundantly blessed. For most people on Earth it is unimaginable to have the ability to buy as much food as you want or have ready access to medical treatment (for an animal yet!). Even the "need" for a machine clad in stainless steel to cook whatever you want to eat in just minutes is unimaginable to the average Earthling who has far more time to cook than food to eat.

Changing my viewpoint snapped my attitude into a 180 degree barrel roll. All my crankiness and frustration were kaput, I felt a surge of energy, and this morning I feel completely different about the things on my To Do list than I did this time yesterday. I still have the exact same list of things I need to accomplish but I no longer see the glass as half full but as overflowing with good things. Who knew? It really does boil down to how you look at it.

It was an amazing and enlightening experience to kick myself in the ass like that.

Okay, I'm done being sappy. And now we return to the regularly scheduled program of shallow, self absorbed topics that normally appear here:

  • Last night we sucked it up and dug around in the kitchen until we found a package of frozen hamburger, a jar of sauce and enough spaghetti to cobble together dinner and thus we did not starve. We have solemnly sworn to make a joint trip to the grocery store immediately after we leave the office this afternoon.

  • I'm taking Shelby to the vet today and returning the DOA spacemaker for a working model. I also convinced Morley that it wasn't necessary to remove the mounting bracket to return it with the dead microwave since they'd only give us another one just like it with the new working version.

  • The revised version of my dress arrived yesterday and my hooters do not hang out as much as with the first version, plus Saint Carol says she can modify it to cover even more of my girls. Thus I solemnly swear you have heard the last of my whining about not having a dress to wear to my own wedding.

  • We still have tomatoes coming out of our ears but it occured to us that we have not yet fully exploited the neighborhood. Thus we will begin delivering bags filled with tomatoes to our neighbors' doorsteps after they go to bed at night.
Note added several hours later: I told you we were out of everything. We just finished putting away the groceries--$600.84 worth. I think we just set a new all time record.

Aug 5, 2008

Hello? Is this thing on?

I can't believe it has been so long since I posted, but truly it's not for lack of trying. I've been in a dither for the last week due to (1) work (2) wedding and (3) boat, not to mention (4) the little matter of a mission trip to Nicaragua in just three weeks. And as icing on the cake (5) my cell phone has suddenly decided to stop ringing and has become a one-way communications device. I want my mommie. (Actually I want to throw this piece of dookie Samsung phone into the lake and buy a Nokia, which I will do just as soon as I catch a spare couple of hours).

Anyway, here's a down and dirty update on what's news in our house:

Work: If the economy is slowing down, you can't tell it by us because we're still humping. I won't bore you with details because it's the same stuff I talk about every time--you know, the usual: yada yada, proposals due, yada yada, insurance audit, yada yada, need another engineer, yada yada, trying to keep up. Yada yada. Woe is me. Yada yada. Yada.

Wedding: We're now within 30 days of the event, the time frame in which "anything" is no longer possible due to production times, shipping times, and every other kind of time--from this point on we'll have to work with what we have or source it locally. We're at that stage in the lifespan of every project where the dreaded phrase "what a great idea, too bad we didn't think of it earlier" comes into play.

I still have no dress, although a replacement for the pole dancer dress is allegedly in UPS hands somewhere between Atlanta and Colorado. Saint Carol has once again come to the rescue by promising to figure out a solution to the excess-boob-showing problem. Her confidence is reassuring and I'm helping her help me by managing my own expectations. My initial goal for a dress that's "uber chic, flattering, gorgeous and unique" has been modified to "anything that falls in the middle of the scale between stripper and Shaker, and white". That's a lot of wiggle room to work with if I say so myself.

One musician cancelled last week due to his having surgery two weeks before the wedding. The good news: he promised to find his own replacement. The bad news: said replacement has yet to contact me nor has the original musician responded to my emails asking about the replacement musician.

In addition, I have become a shameless caterer stalker. Ours is super busy with other events (the "peak season" at the lake is now building to a crescendo that ends with a bang on the holiday weekend before our wedding) but in our hit-or-miss voicemails she tells me she has some ideas we need to talk about plus the menu still needs to be nailed down. No kidding. Call me, we'll talk. Oh wait a second--I forgot my cell phone stopped ringing. Don't call me, I'll call you. Or maybe I'll just drive to your office and sit in your parking lot for days or weeks if necessary until you show up which you know and I know you'll have to do sooner or later. (That didn't sound desperate did it? No? Good.)

And one final wedding note: after the bazillionth person (an approximate number, not an actual count) hounded us about not having a gift registry, we finally caved in and set one up. Details are on our wedding website if you insist on doing the wedding gift thing and want ideas.

Butt Ugly Boat: I haven't mentioned the Butt Ugly Boat in ages, but oddly enough yesterday two different people--actually three since one of them was bringing another person along--asked if they should appear at the Butt Ugly Boat this coming weekend to begin the much anticipated decluttering and decootie'ing of the new boat. (Even though it was only Tuesday it takes a few days preparation to suit up in protective gear akin to what CDC scientists wear on the days they handle anthrax specimens).

Sadly, the answer is no. The bank handling our financing had a problem getting their paperwork prepared in time for the closing tomorrow, and now they say the earliest the funds can be released is Tuesday. Rescheduling the closing (again) requires us to break the news to the seller whom we fear will blow a gasket when he hears the news. I checked my To Do list and didn't find "placate pilots blowing gaskets" anywhere, so this task has been handed off to Morley. I'm sure it's on his list somewhere. In fact, I'm positive about that.

Part of the problem is the bank decided the most expeditious way to do this deal was to extend a line of credit Morley has there. He does business with the "private banking" department where they treat you like an actual human being, as opposed the "what do you want now" department that I bank with. Usually the private banking people make things happen in a snap and Morley has previously used the line of credit without any problems when he bought a couple of rental houses. But since the financial markets are in a tizzy and bankers are so nervous and jumpy these days, they have new procedures involving extra paperwork and hoops to jump thru.

Part of the new paperwork involved the bank updating their appraisal on the house. They called an appraisal service and the appraisal service dispatched a clueless moron to do the job. He came back with an appraisal value $60,000 less than any other house in our subdivision, which then caused our interest rate to jump from Prime Rate minus .5 to Prime Rate plus .75, and that news in turn launched Morley and me into orbit around the Planet Saturn.

Fortunately (or unfortunately if you're an appraiser) he had left his business card with me and I passed it on to Morley last night when his orbital path looped close to Planet Earth. He snatched up the phone and called the guy to share his thoughts, and after an extended period of, uh, very enthusiastic sharing on Morley's part, the guy agreed to take another look at his analysis and to use houses within a two hour drive of our neighborhood this time. I'm sure the guy's ear drums will be good as new in no time and Morley certainly felt better after having shared.

Mission Trip: This one is in deep doodoo. There are very, very specific requirements involved and I am seriously afraid that we've blown some of them. After my relentless begging Morley for help over the past few weeks, he has taken on the project so it's moved off my plate onto his. That's a big relief for me since it's the very topic that wakes me up at 3 AM every night to do some extra worrying and obsessing. Even though Morley has taken on the worries of the project I won't be able to relax about it until he digs in to see exactly where we stand.

and finally, let's not foget to talk about...

Tomatoes: We continue to haul at least a bagful of those babies out of the garden every single day, and now people are starting to avoid us because they're wise to our tomato pushing ways. I even dropped off a bag full at the office of our storage unit yesterday after they had closed for the day (thus no opportunity to refuse the donation) with a jaunty note to "enjoy!". We are shameless 'mater pushers who do not give our prey the chance to just say no.

And that's the news from our house.

PS. Even though I'm whining about all the work involved with the wedding, we are really looking forward to it.

PPS. We won't make you take home any tomatoes.

PPPS. We might serve tomatoes at the reception.

Aug 3, 2008

Summer Rain

It's been a busy few days since I got home from my visit to Mom and the 'fam in Tennessee.

Thursday I was outta there at 4 AM to attend meeting back in Atlanta at 8 AM. My very thoughtful brother hauled himself out of bed at that ungodly hour to make coffee and see me off, and I managed to walk into the office just as they were closing the conference room door to start the meeting. The rest of the day was a blur--an insurance audit that was drop-dead-due by close of business on Thursday was finished just in time, then I arrived home with ten minutes to spare before our friend Didi arrived for a visit and dinner. Friday was more of the same and after Morley and I went out for a quick dinner we crashed and were asleep by 9 PM. We are crazy rock stars.

Saturday was a catch up day. Morley went to the office early and I met him there a couple of hours later. We got home a bit after 5 PM and just as we were trying to decide whether we wamted to go to the boat for the night a huge thunderstorm rolled in. The lightening was intense and the storm was full of driving rain, so we elected to stay home. And because we are crazy rock stars, we were in bed asleep by 8:30 PM. Please forgive me for talking so much about our glamorous, thrilling life.

The upside of all that rain--other than sleeping like a rock (star) during the storm--is that it was just what the doctor ordered for our gardens. It has been dry here and my flowers really needed a good, long drink. This morning when I took Shelby out to do her urgent Morning Dog Business, I was struck by how lush the garden looked after all that rain, so I took my camera outside and walked around in my jammies taking photos.

This is the new flower bed I started earlier this year. It's doing great, although now I can see I needed to plant the Elephant Ear behind the hydrangea:

And here's how the garden around the pond is doing. My banana tree (to the left of the pond under the cedar tree) has finally decided to start growing tall. For awhile there I was worried I had a banana tree with pituitary gland problems, assuming of course that banana trees have pituitatary glands.

The flowers in the flower bed around the deck are taking off. Those white flowers are "David" phlox that I searched high and low to find earlier this year. I grew them at my old house and loved them; they'll keep filling in the rest of this year and come next summer this area will be a solid mass of white blooms:

And here's a view towards the vegetable garden. See those red things lying on the stone wall? They're tomatoes.

Here's a closer view. This is how many tomatoes we picked yesterday afternoon after we got home from work. We didn't bring them into the house yet because...

...we haven't finished eating these three bags of tomatoes we picked the day before. And we haven't finished the three bags of tomatoes because...

...we're still working on this basket and this platter full of tomatoes we picked the day before that.

We have tomatoes coming out of our ears. We are the Rock Stars of Tomato.