Oct 31, 2008

A Halloween Story

When my niece Heather posted this photo of me and her dad (my brother Bratley) on my Facebook page last night I'm pretty sure she had no idea how spooky her timing was. This photo was taken exactly 47 years ago tomorrow and was one of the most memorable days of my life.

The tale of events leading up to this photo is one of tragic death, terror, suspense and mystery--in other words, the perfect story to tell on Halloween. Let us begin.

On a crisp Fall afternoon just before Halloween 1961, a friend of my dad's came to our house for a visit. While he and Dad sat on the porch talking for a couple of hours, Bratley and I played in the yard nearby, blissfully unaware of the tragic events that would soon unfold.

It was when Dad's friend got into his car to leave that tragedy struck. Unknown to any of us, the warmth coming from his engine had tempted my beloved kitten Ribbon to take a cozy afternoon nap under the hood. She was having such a nice snooze that the sounds of him getting into the car didn't wake her, or at least didn't wake her in time to make tracks before he started the engine.

The next few minutes are forever burned into my memory like one of those slow motion segments in a horror film. I remember this as if it happened yesterday: we heard the 'varoom' of the engine starting and then a horrifying, gut wrenching scream came from under the hood. Ribbon came flying out from underneath the car screaming in a tortured cry of agony that came from the deepest pits of hell. She flung herself up in the air over and again, then fell to the ground where she writhed and screamed for what seemed like hours but was probably only a moment or two. And then she went quiet and still.

I do believe I became completely hysterical when I saw this. I have absolutely no recollection of what Dad was doing or where Brad was, nor what my Dad's friend's was doing, nor what happened after Ribbon stopped moving. All I have is a foggy memory of watching her and then my Mother rushing outside from whatever she had been doing in the house, and her grabbing my arms and telling me to stop screaming, and of me not being able to stop. And the next thing I remember is Mom slapping my face for the only time in my life and telling me to stop screaming and then her hugging me and telling me Ribbon wasn't in pain anymore and was now in Heaven. And I vaguely remember hearing my parents trying to comfort the friend and telling him I'd be alright.

I don't remember one single thing that happened next, although I do hope there was a proper funeral service for Ribbon and I hope I attended.

Fast forward to Halloween. Because we lived in the boonies (zip code EIEIO), trick or treating was an affair that required a car and driver. Just before dark when trick or treating was the spookiest and best, Mom dressed Brad and me in our gypsy and hobo costumes (we were always dressed as a gypsy and hobo--thinking up new and innovative costume ideas was not Mom's thing--then she loaded us up in the Buick to head out for booty.

Mom knew all the best places to go, too: the houses with mothers who gave out homemade popcorn balls or cookies, and that one special house where the mom handed out the motherlode of all treats, homemade candy apples.

After a successful night of trick or treating, we arrived back home. The moment we pulled into our driveway my mother froze in her seat and issued an order in her most powerful, no-nonsense voice: "You kids stay in the car".

She had spotted an alien object on our front porch.

There, right in front of the door where we couldn't miss it, sat a wooden orange crate with a lid on it. With a muttered oath about someone putting a skunk on our porch (the named suspect being an associate of my teenage brother Roger) and with a final stern warning for me and Brad to stay put, she got out of the car and gingerly approached the orange crate.

She crept up on it, and while keeping a cautious distance between herself and the suspicious crate, she peered between the slats to see what evil lurked within. And then she said a bad word that starts with an "s"--which was totally out of character for Mom--and she flung open the lid.

And out of the crate came cats. Lots and lots of cats.

There were cats of every color, description and size--fluffy cats and short haired cats, big cats and little cats, black cats, white cats, brown cats, spotted cats, stripey cats. That orange crate was the clown car of cats. Cats kept pouring out of that crate, and when I saw them I sprang out of the car and dove right into the middle of them. I grabbed as many cats as I could hold in my arms and started hugging on them and kissing on them, all the while dancing around the porch in pure unadulterated joy.

The mysterious question of how those cats arrived on our front porch was answered later--most likely a confession extracted during a torture session administered by my mother.

My Dad's friend had felt so terrible about what had happened that he'd done his very best to find me a suitable replacement. In hopes of finding that one special kitty that might replace Ribbon in my affections, he had gone around asking people if they had an extra cat and apparently everybody did. When he'd gathered up a nice selection he gift wrapped them in an orange crate and made his delivery while we were out trick or treating.

And that's the story of one of the happiest days of my life. It's a tale that's repeated in our family almost as often as the one where we accidentally forgot Bratley in the graveyard, and even today if you mention that friend's name to my mother who is now in the fog of Alzheimer's, she'll say that same bad word and talk about that damn crate full of cats that showed up on our front porch 47 years ago.

I, on the other hand, still feel joy when I think back on that magical night in 1961 when I had all the cats in the whole world right there on my very own front porch.

PS In case you wonder what we did with all those cats, they worked it out amongst themselves. All but one of them took off for parts unknown over the next couple of weeks, no doubt to find a house with less competition for the hugs and kisses of a five year old girl.

Or maybe...you don't think....you don't suppose that Mom....nahhhh...

Oct 29, 2008

Update From The Winners' Circle (not political)

I need a break from politics. My nerves are shot from talking and thinking about the election all day every day. And I'm guessing you would probably like to see something other than political videos posted here for a change. So how about an update on what became of the executives of ITMG?

For the blissfully unaware, ITMG was a corporation that employed 500 employees in 26 states back in the late 1990's. I was ITMG's President/COO, a title that carries with it the same honor, prestige and admiration heaped upon Edward John Smith, the Captain of the SS Titanic, except with less favorable media coverage.

Long story short: ITMG suffered a ugly fate. We had a nasty spat with our client--which just happened to be the US government--and the company imploded, we filed bankruptcy, then we sued the Feds for being a very naughty and quite disagreeable client. Three years later the Feds settled with us and handed over a butt load of millions which the lawyers immediately fell upon like buzzards on roadkill and divided among themselves. And then all of us former ITMG executives dusted ourselves off, rebooted our damaged careers and got on with our lives.*

*There was a bunch of other stuff that happened in there but that's a story for another day lifetime. I'm sick of talking about that too.

Anyway, by sheer chance I recently met the ex-husband of someone who played a part in that lawsuit which got me wondering what ever became of the members of my old ITMG management team. I started Googling and here's what I found out:

One of the largest stockholders founded another company, this one. He's doing fabulously well but that's no surprise--he's hands down one of the smartest people I ever met.

Another big stockholder owns a company in Denver and appears to be doing well also.

The former Chief Financial Officer is now a senior kahuna with a big corporation. That's no surprise either because he is a great tactical thinker. It was his brilliant idea to file bankruptcy when we did which, for reasons way too complicated to recount here, is what saved our bacon and allowed us to pursue the litigation that produced the multi-million dollar settlement which I got almost none of because the bastard lawyers kept most of it. But I'm not bitter. Issues.

Anyway, the real stunner is what our majority stockholder and Chairman of the Board--my former boss--is doing these days. Being as how he won the grand prize I'll have to say he is also doing well, albeit in a way that uses a totally different skill set than the one I was familiar with. Click Here to See A Current Photo of My Old Boss.

As for the other members of senior management, several of them were at my wedding last month so we got together for an Executive Photo Shoot. Here we are in the pose we frequently assumed when we were negotiating with our former client:

For the record you'll notice that all of us had our "L" backward except for Doris, the lady on the right. She was destined for the top, that girl.

Oct 27, 2008

Obama Radio Interview, 2001

Please. Just listen to this before you make up your mind. Is this really what you think is best for America?

Oct 23, 2008

Engineer Joke of the Day...and
No More TV for Old People

Q. How can you tell an Extroverted Engineer from an Introverted Engineer?
A. The Extroverted Engineer stares at your shoes when he's talking to you.

Doesn't that crack you up? No? Maybe it's just me then.

No More TV for Seniors:

Oct 22, 2008

A Lesson About Women
and a replacement video

About this photo, I'll get to that in a minute.

One day, when a seamstress was sewing while sitting close to a river, her thimble fell into the river. When she cried out, the Lord appeared and asked, "My dear child, why are you crying?"

The seamstress replied that her thimble had fallen into the water and that she needed it to help her husband in making a living for their family. The Lord dipped His hand into the water and pulled up a golden thimble set with sapphires.

"Is this your thimble?" the Lord asked.

The seamstress replied, "No."

The Lord again dipped into the river. He held out a golden thimble studded with rubies.

"Is this your thimble?" the Lord asked.

Again, the seamstress replied, "No."

The Lord reached down again and came up with a leather thimble.

"Is this your thimble ?" the Lord asked.

The seamstress replied, "Yes."

The Lord was pleased with the woman's honesty and gave her all three thimbles to keep, and the seamstress went home happy.

Some years later, the seamstress was walking with her husband along the riverbank when her husband fell into the river and disappeared under the water. When she cried out, the Lord again appeared and asked her, "Why are you crying?"

"Oh Lord, my husband has fallen into the river!"

The Lord went down into the water and came up with George Clooney. "Is this your husband?" the Lord asked.

"Yes," cried the seamstress.

The Lord was furious. "You lied! That is an untruth!"

The seamstress replied, "Oh, forgive me, my Lord. It is a misunderstanding. You see, if I had said 'no' to George Clooney, you would have come up with Brad Pitt. Then if I said 'no' to him, you would have come up with my husband. Had I then said 'yes,' you would have given me all three. Lord, I'm not in the best of health and would not be able to take care of all three husbands, so THAT is why I said 'yes' to George Clooney.

And so the Lord let her keep him.

Moral of The Story: Whenever a woman lies, it's for a good and honorable reason, and in the best interest of others. That's our story, and we're sticking to it.

Now, about that replacement video. In case you're wondering what happened to that Halloween movie that was here yesterday, I moved it over to my family's website. The funniest part of the movie was kind of an inside joke so I put it over there where the insiders who get the joke can find it. Some of the people in my family...well, you gotta make things easy for them.

However, to replace the lost entertainment value for all my blog readers who are not family members (all four of you) here's another video with no inside joke whatsoever. It's just stupid. My brother Roger (the dancer in the fishing hat) and my brother Bradley (the goofy looking one) flashing their "whitey tighties"---now that's entertainment.

Replacement Video:

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Oct 20, 2008

Reason #498 Why I'm Glad I'm No Longer Single

Butt Ugly Boat Update, Part 2

Other than a half day meeting on Saturday morning, we took the entire weekend off and hung out at the boat. I came down with a miserable cold or flu (hard to tell which at this point) and spent most of the weekend sleeping, sneezing, blowing my nose and generally feeling lousy while Morley soldiered on without me fixing things on our very long to-do list.

Before we left yesterday I took some photos of the rest of the boat to show you our progress so far. First things first--your room. Here's the guest room before:

Here's what it looks like now--fresh crisp new linens and Now! Cootie! Free!

And here's the galley before. It's hard to tell from this photo but there was junk sitting everywhere--hardly enough free counter space to make a sandwich:

...and here's the galley now with lots of room to cook. That is, if you don't have a bad cold/flu and actually feel like cooking (sniff) (sneeze):

Here's the salon before:

And here's the salon now:That coffee table is just a temporary fix, by the way. It actually belongs outside in the cockpit but it does the trick while I search for a permanent solution.

We've made progress but we're still a long way from our goal which is to look more like this:

As you can see, we have a long, long, long way to go. (Sigh)

Moving on, here's a "before" shot of the office/third cabin:

This is my personal hanging-out spot when we're onboard (Morley's spot is the pilot house which I refer to as "Man World). Coincidentally it is also a very cozy place to sleep off a bad cold/flu.

Here's what it looks like now:

Basically what we have now is a clean boat but one that's still Butt Ugly--only new carpet and upholstery is going to transform this baby into anything short of Butt Ugly.

On other matters of the BUB: We spent our third weekend in a row with no working toilets. The only marine plumber we know has come by twice to "look things over" but hasn't started fixing anything yet--where's Joe the Plumber when you really need him--so we still have to use the bathroom on our other boat. I can tell you from personal experience that short walk is a real pain when you are not feeling well.

Also our battery charger crapped out sometime during the last week which meant we had no 12v system--no overhead lights and no juice to crank the engines to take a cruise. The dead charger was original equipment so rather than repair it we'll just replace it with a new one which our buddy Steve will install this week. Actually this is one of those bad news/good news situations--we already knew we had electrical problems (see BUB Update, part 1) and we were thrilled at the news that we'd have to spring for a new charger to fix them. Chargers are a lot cheaper than replacing the batteries.

Update added later: As it turned out, we needed a new battery charger and new batteries. So much for the Power of Positive Thinking.

Finally, Morley made big progress in the Onboard Entertainment department this weekend. While I was busy whining and sneezing and taking naps, he unhooked the satellite dish from our old boat and ran it to the BUB, so as soon as we buy some new TVs we can resume watching BBC America in bed. I'm really excited about this since I was starting to go into serious Cash in the Attic withdrawal.

So that's it for now. I am going to the office this morning just long enough to take care of my desk but not so long that I infect anybody else with this crud. And then I'll come back home and resume my reclining position on the sofa because (hack) (sniff) (sneeze) I don't feel so good.

Oct 17, 2008

Lost Marbles and Joe the Plumber

The "Joe the Plumber" episode made me really cranky. He was just a regular guy standing in his own front yard when a candidate for president walks up his driveway (albeit with a couple hundred supporters and several TV cameras in tow) and when the candidate asked him for his vote, Joe asked a legitimate question. And for that he got slammed and mocked and derided and made fun of. What's up with that?

For the record, I am a Libertarian (less is more when it comes to government) and also for the record, I truly don't give a rat's rear whether Joe has a plumber's license or if he's just a guy who does plumbing. I thought he asked a very good question.

I relate to Joe. I just finished closing out the books for September and saw that Morley and his partner worked a total of 481 hours between them last month, or an average of 60.1 hours per week each. Or to put it another way, they each did a week and a half's worth of work every week.

We sacrifice a lot because of work. I often blog about how rarely we have free time or even take an entire weekend off, and Heaven knows our family hasn't seen much of us this year because we're always working. But we don't mind really. Even though we get tired of it sometimes we're willing to make the sacrifices now so we can enjoy ourselves when we retire in a few years. That's the American way--the harder you work, the luckier you get.

Joe the Plumber is working hard to get lucky too. He's a single parent raising a kid and would like to buy the small plumbing company he currently works for.

Except in the opinion of people like Senator Obama, people like us and Joe the Plumber are bad guys--we're too fortunate. Ours is one of the evil businesses that will have to pay higher taxes so Obama can "spread the wealth around because it is good for everybody". (Oh, really?) It just isn't "fair" for us to have more than our fair share--how much ever he decides that is--regardless of how hard we work or what we sacrifice to get it. Never mind that we're soon to be old codgers and are working like dogs while we can so we'll be able to support ourselves in retirement. And never mind that the company might possibly use that money to pay employees or buy better technology or something else useful that would grow the business, rather than handing it over to the government so they can "spread it around".

In fact, they say it is our patriotic duty to pay high taxes so the rewards we reap from our hard work can be given to others who are not as fortunate as we are--you know, those unfortunate people who don't work 60 hour weeks and get to take weekends off.

And before you think I am some insensitive jerk who doesn't care about the least of my brothren, that's not true. I give a bigger percentage of my income to charitable works than Senator Obama does (based on the numbers in the his tax returns) so I'm already doing a better job of "spreading it around" than he is. That is, my money is where his mouth is, and like Joe says in that video, I don't need another set of parents called "The Government" to tell me how to run my life or what I need to do to be a good person. Really, I'm on it. Doing the best I can here.

My anger isn't just about tax brackets. It's about the mindset that a government should decide so many of the details of your life and take away so much of your liberty for the "common good" as they perceive it. It's anger that a group of elected officials believe it is up to them to decide how well, or how poorly, citizens should live or what's "fair". And it's the eagerness to heap derision and ridicule on some poor rube who had the nerve to ask a politician a simple question.

And while I'm on a rant here, can somebody please tell me where exactly in the Constitution does the government get the power of income distribution? What gives it the authority to tell you how you will live, or how you will teach your kid, or how "fortunate" you are entitled to be? If you find those answers anywhere, please let me know at your earliest convenience.

While you are at it, if you find a single instance where a tax hike actually expanded, not contracted, the economy please let me know that too.

Has this country lost its marbles? Seriously.

Oct 16, 2008

So long, Jay

Yesterday I got the sad news that Jay Wilson died last Friday.

Jay was a retired engineer living near Sedona, AZ who began a blog after learning he had cancer. His writing was so exceptional and so good that it brought his readers along on his 18 month struggle in a powerful, personal way. More than anything, his writing showed such grace and dignity that even those of us who knew him only thru the internet felt like we knew him well. We cheered his remissions and were sad when he had setbacks, and the day he told us he had come to the end of treatment and was beginning hospice care we were so bereft that words were impossible to come by for a couple of days.

Even though we readers knew he was sick we didn't realize how quickly his health was fading, and so when he fell silent several days ago I just assumed he was once again so busy with visitors that he didn't have time to write. Sadly, this time things were different. Jay had asked a friend to post a final update on his blog when the time came, and yesterday the friend posted the news of Jay's passing. I was stunned. I guess you are never really prepared to get news like that.

I had written Jay to tell him how much I admired his grace, courage and dignity but I had planned to write a blog piece about the inspiration he had been to me and how much he had taught me about the quality of a person's character in times of adversity. This little piece comes a few days too late for Jay to appreciate it. Some things just should not be procrastinated upon.

The internet is a strange and wonderful thing when it connects humans who might never have crossed paths otherwise. I'm so glad I got to meet Jay, if only via the internet. I will truly miss that guy.

If you have some spare time, I recommend you read Jay's blog starting at the beginning with his first post and reading backwards to the final entry.

Oct 15, 2008

Dancing Dog

After my dog Shelby watched this video she just hung her head in shame. That "indoor voice" trick of hers looks pretty lame compared to this:

That dog probably doesn't play in the cat's litter box either.

Ode to Ensalada Caprese
or "We're Aerogardening"

Our girls gave us an AeroGarden. They know I have a serious basil addiction from which I suffer greatly all winter long (basil grows like a weed in hot weather but turns into black, slimy muck at the first forecast of frost) and my mental health depends on a steady supply of fresh herbs at all times. And it is a fact of life in this house that Caprese salad--fresh basil, fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced tomato, and balsamic vinegar--keeps me in a good humor when consumed on a regular basis. Thanks to the girls, my little garden is going to keep me in the happy place this winter.

An AeroGarden is a hydroponic garden that circulates highly fertilized water through little spongy plugs embedded with seeds and gently bathes the little guys in artificial sunlight for ten to twelve hours a day. There are several garden "themes" available, but the girls hooked me up with the gourmet herb version which sports not one but two types of basil. How cool is that?

Morley and I found a spot in the kitchen for our new garden, filled it with water, dropped in the little foam plugs, and added the little nutrient tablet. And then I hit the "on" button and the kitchen was instantly flooded with a bright light--really bright light. As in, "ET, phone home" bright light.

The light spooked the cats so much that they hauled tail to hide under the sofa for a couple of hours and Shelby dove for cover under the dining room table. Once Morley and I found protective eye wear and waited for the sunspots to fade from our field of vision, we agreed that the "artificial sunlight" an Aerogarden puts out is akin to having an alien spacecraft land inside your house. Morley is still getting used to it but I just look at our AeroGarden as being a handy night light. For everyone in our zip code.

But apparently gourmet herbs really groove on all that bright light and water circulation. Here's our garden sometime around day 7:

The little herbs are beginning to poke their heads up and some of them have already gotten big enough that we removed their little plastic domes.

And here's our little herb garden around day 20 or so:

All those herbs are jumping out of their little foam plugs and growing like crazy. And the best part...

The basil really, really likes it.

Oct 14, 2008

Butt Ugly Boat Update, Part 1

Judging by the number of people who've asked me how it's going with the Butt Ugly Boat, I guess I've been remiss in posting updates on our progress.

Ever since we got past the wedding craziness last month, we've spent almost every spare minute at the lake cleaning, polishing, and de-funking and we've now reached that happy stage of the project where everyone who comes on board does a little double take of surprise.

The biggest improvement so far doesn't translate very well to the internet--smell. The BUB smells way mo' bettah than it used to thanks to liberal applications of soap and water followed by a couple of gallons of teak oil and topped off with an entire weekend strapped to a carpet shampooer. The delicate aroma of deisel fuel with a top note of crud and a subtle hint of cootie is gone. Morley now feels free to walk about the cabin without his shoes on and Shelby no longer whines and holds her nose when she's aboard. I could kick myself for not taking a photo of the carpet after just one pass with the shampooer--it looked like one of those TV commercials for miracle carpet cleaners. Except a lot more gross. And disgusting.

Anyway, here's a fairly current view of the salon after 20 trips (at least) to the dumpster with a dock cart full of crap:

It is cleaner and there's less junk sitting around, but no dramatic changes in decor change yet. And here's a fairly recent shot of the master cabin. I replaced the old bedding with some fresh, clean cootie-free linens:

...here's what it looked like before in case you forgot (shiver) (retch) (gag):

We've started making some repairs and improvements too. We replaced the funky, decrepit 1980's style leather/brass cabinet pulls with some new ones made of brushed pewter that are slightly retro-yet-sleek (plus we replaced the cabinet hinges--all 86 of them).

The kitchen faucet had been leaking for ages so Morley installed a snazzy new one. Please note that the faucet in the photo below is the old leaky one, not the snazzy new one:

We'll eventually reconfigure the entire galley to move the sink towards the wall, install an 18 inch dishwasher, then replace the countertop with Corian--but that leaky faucet had to go now. Keeping a bath towel wrapped around the kitchen faucet didn't exactly compliment the decor.

Our project this past weekend was to figure out the electrical system and its mysterious ways. Sometimes the boat was slow to crank after we'd been sitting for a while which made us suspect the batteries weren't charging as they should. We crossed our fingers and hoped it was a simple solution because we have huge 4D batteries aboard and they are darn near impossible to manhandle in and out of the engine room (they weigh 130 pounds each). We dreaded the prospects of having to replace them and getting his-and-hers hernias, not to mention they ain't cheap and we have three of them.

After a little investigative work we discovered all they needed was to more water, and fortunately water--even the prerequisite distilled water--is cheap. Just topping off those bad girls took about three gallons' worth of water and took about half an hour. They are seriously big batteries.

The next big thing is to make some major decisions on the new decor because our favorite upholsterer, brother in law Jim, has put us on his schedule next month. We'll spend the next few weeks debating the merits of various shades of beige, then choose the new carpet and the leather for the sofas. And then Jim will liberate us from our 1980's den of decorating hell, and then we'll have a nice memorial service for that gawd-awful blue carpet--may it rest in pieces--and the BUB will look modern and cheerful and clean forever and ever. Amen.

So that's the news from the Butt Ugly Boat. I'd like to announce the BUB is officially a cootie-free zone with a fresh Springtime scent. It's safe to come visit us now.

PS: Matt, I'm looking at you.

Oct 8, 2008

Oct 5, 2008

Sunday Custody

It's official. Heather, the brat, has flown the coop and now lives in her own place. One of the conditions we negotiated in the deal is that we get custody every single Sunday for the rest of her life, so sure enough she moved out on Saturday but was back the next day for Sunday dinner.

To show what good sports we are that she selfishly insists on having her own life that does not include living with me until she's 85 years old (but I'm not bitter) we surprised her with a housewarming gift.

...a set of very cool black and white stripey dishes. They'll come in handy since we plan to show up for dinner at her house the other six days of the week.

PS: I tried to toss in a bonus gift that I thought matched her decor to a "T", but she wasn't having any of it:

This is a short video that has nothing whatsoever to do with Heather moving out but I thought it was pretty cool.

How in the world do you train a dog to say no to a treat? Shelby won't tell me.

Modern Conveniences

This is our "new" old boat, Magnificent Obsession. We love her because she is roomy and solid and has lots of modern conveniences. That's Carol standing in the cockpit. Hi, Carol!

We love all the nice features on our "new" old boat. For example, it has an washer/dryer to wash your clothes or sheets, or a load of dirty towels such as the ones I washed the other day after we'd used them in cleaning the funk off the boat. The washer/dryer worked great...

...except for the drain. Actually the drain works great, except instead of draining the water overboard, it drains it into the floor of the guest stateroom and hallway. I got the spend a whole afternoon using a shop vac in this area. I now know this part of the boat very, very well.

This is another modern convenience onboard our "new" old boat: a full bathroom just for guests. It works great too...

...except for the toilet. Well, the toilet works great, except instead of pumping the water into one of the holding tanks, it pumps it here:

...this is the other full bathroom on the boat. This bathroom doesn't work so great. The pump on this toilet doesn't send the water anywhere. It just makes it swirl round and round inside the toilet bowl. We got to know this part of the boat very, very well too.

We never could get things working and so we had to place a call to the one and only marine plumber we know on Lake Lanier. We've now been waiting a week for him to show up and get the plumbing problems fixed.

In the mean time, two slips down from our "new" old boat is our "old" new boat which we are trying to sell:

It's a really nice boat except it doesn't have as many conveniences as our "new" old boat--but the toilet works great. These days we refer to her as our $100,000 outhouse.

Oct 3, 2008

Flying the Coop

After an embarrassing amount of begging and pleading (plus maybe a teeny, tiny amount of crying and clinging on my part), Morley and I convinced Heather to move in with us a couple of years ago. Even though we realize she's a grown woman and all, we just like having her around plus we had all that space upstairs that nobody ever used which we were paying for anyway and was going to waste, plus we already had a storage unit where she could store her stuff, plus it would be fun for the three of us to hang out together--for us it was a no brainer.

But for Heather it was a big decision to give up her own place to move in with the old folks so we chipped away at her until we wore her down and she finally agreed to be our roomie, except she put strict timelines on the deal.

When her deadline for moving out came, Morley and I shamelessly ganged up on her and locked her in a dark closet with no food or water until she agreed to an extension, and then we immediately returned to our happy place of denial that she would ever mention moving out ever again.

Well, the extended deadline has arrived and this time the little brat is sticking to her guns. A couple of weeks ago she found a cute place in a swanky neighborhood close to her friends and great places to shop and lots of trendy places to hang out, and this time she ignored our whining and pleading.

To snap us out of our denial she put in her car last week and took us to check out her new digs.

On the drive over Morley tried talking her out of it, but she just turned up the radio really loud to drown him out.

We gave the new place the once over hoping to find a serious infestation of bugs or a major structural defect--something! anything!--we could use as ammunition to scare her off, but no such luck. It is a darling place in perfect condition.

I scouted out the neighbors trying to find evidence of a serial killer or even a Obama campaign sign but all I found were a bunch of nice people with good solid jobs and no criminal records, plus a few Libertarian bumper stickers and a couple of McCain/Palin and Fair Tax signs.

I informed Morley of what I'd seen in the neighborhood and here's how he reacted: he said he thought it was a cool place. The traitor.

And then Heather ordered us out to her car which just happened to be crammed full of stuff that needed to be carried into her new place.

I think she'd planned this whole thing.


Oct 2, 2008

Hitching Delay

The very moment I slipped the noose, er, ring on Morley's finger

Bad news: Morley and I won't marry each other twice in one year after all. Good news: we're getting married two years in a row.

Business continues to boom and our hands are really full, so we simply can't take off to spend a couple of weeks in England right now. Wah. Point being, our commitment ceremony at Banwell Castle has been rescheduled for next year which means we'll be getting hitched in 2008 and 2009.

To be specific, our ceremony will be now held on Sunday, April 26th at 2 PM in case you want to come. (Michelle, I'm looking at you.)

Even though we are both very, very, extremely disappointed we won't be going this month, at least we now have something to look forward to while we work our arses off all winter. Plus the weather in England will probably be nicer (read: less rainy) next Spring.

And besides, how cool is that to get married in an English castle, eh? Worth the wait, no doubt.

Oct 1, 2008

Good Luck

I am a very lucky person--not all the time, of course, but most of the time things work out pretty well for me. (On the other hand, Morley is a realist with a touch of pessimism. Positive results always come as a total surprise to him). Here's a case in point about how lucky I am:

When we were in Nicaragua last month we had a day off work in which we could do whatever we wanted to do. The choices were:

  • go to the beach
  • go into the town of Leon for a nice lunch and some shopping
  • climb this volcano:

Our group (Morley, Doug, Lisa, Carol and I) decided to climb the volcano. Don't ask me why because I don't know why.

PS: I voted in the minority for the nice lunch and shopping option.

Since I was utterly uninterested not as excited about climbing a volcano as the rest of the group, they got me to shut me up and stop whining by agreeing to have lunch afterwards graciously offered to have a nice lunch after they finished climbing the volcano.

We were too small a group to justify using the truck so Amigos arranged a hired car for the day. The vehicle that came for us was by far the nicest one I've ever seen in Nicaragua--a fairly new and immaculately clean mini van. And it had air conditioning!

The driver didn't speak any English so the Amigos staff told him what we wanted to do and where to take us, and since he wasn't familar with the particular volcano we were going to climb they told him how to get there. He nodded at the directions, then smiled at us and waved for us to enter our chariot. We piled in and headed off to the volcano.

Here's the view of the road to the volcano:

Out the window we could see the volcano. It wasn't very far away and that made me very happy indeed--this volcano climbing thing was going to be quick. I was already looking forward to lunch and a nice cold beer in town.

Unfortunately, roads are not very well marked in Nicaragua (no comprendo "street sign") and the driver missed his turn. Apparently instead of turning left beside the brown ox with the black tail, we turned right. And soon the road turned to this:

The road was so narrow and overgrown at times that we could hardly get through and the road was really, really bumpy. We bounced along on this narrow muddy/sandy road for an hour before the driver began to suspect we were lost (I'm only guessing that's what he suspected since he didn't speak English and we didn't speak Spanish, but he definitely had that "oh, crap" look on his face that people get when they realize they don't have a clue where they are).

Finally he stopped the van so we could walk into a clearing for a view of the volcano to see how close we were. This was our view of the volcano:

No volcano. We were lost. Good and truly lost.

And we couldn't exactly stop at the next gas station to ask directions because there was no sign of civilization anywhere. In fact, the only living creatures in sight were oxes, horses, python snakes, and bad men carrying machetes who were intent on robbing us. I didn't actually see any pythons or bad men with machetes but I'm certain they were out there in the jungle.

Undeterred by the lack of a volcano in the vicinity or the impassable roads, and with no new directions to guide him, our driver waved us back into the van and kept going. I tried to convince the rest of the group to bail on the volcano climbing idea but they wanted to keep going. And so we did.

And after another 45 minutes of driving, the road looked like this:

By now I was starving and thirsty. And starving. And cranky. And starving. The road got so bad that our van began to get mired in the mud and sand so our driver took off on foot to see if the road got any better up ahead or if there was another way out. He left the five of us in the middle of Nowhere, Nicaragua to wait (and hope) for his return.

While we waited, I whined and bitched about being hungry entertained the group with cheerful banter about Nicaragua cuisine and kept repeating "I told you so" thoughtfully pondered aloud the wisdom of following one's instincts.

By now it had been hours since we'd left Amigos' house and we really needed a bathroom. Real bad. The guys went off into the jungle to whizz, and although I was tempted to do the same thing my fear of getting a snake bite on the butt kept me close to the van.

Finally, the driver came walking back and through gestures communicated to us the message "no freakin' way, Jose" so we piled back into the van and starting back the way we came, except this time in reverse.

And then....here's where the part about me being lucky comes in, just in case you were wondering...as we're driving down that muddy one lane road in Nowhere, Nicaragua, we passed a guy pushing an ice cream cart. Seriously, I am not making this up. We hadn't seen a car or another person in hours and we bump into a guy pushing an ice cream cart through a jungle. That's just the kind of lucky person I am.

I yelled Alto! Alto! ("stop! stop!") to the driver and then I whipped out some Nicaraguan cordobas and bought each of us a frozen Eskimo bar.

And then I stopping whining about being hungry until we got back to town where we ate like pigs.

I would tell you what we ate except the menu was in Spanish so I don't know for sure. One of them tasted like fish I think.