Thursday, May 31, 2007

Stalling

I have a tedious and time consuming task to complete at work, and I am stalling (briefly) by writing an entry.

Michael (and, we suspect, a friend) drank all of Calvin's beer and the rest of his whiskey last night after we went to bed. That is a foul of major proportions and the child shall be spoken to this evening.

I am tired of juggling around my laptop, my purse, and my lunch bag as I go to and from work. Therefore, I purchased this, in navy. I was going to purchase this, but it wouldn't fit my lunch bag. Mama's gotta eat.

I heart eBags.

My Assessment of Prior Learning evaluation came back, and the stuff I learned at AcronymCo equates to 12 credits toward my degree. I think I'm done now, with the exception of maybe one or two last classes. Woot!

Calvin is leaving on a business trip for a week, in mid-June (is there a less cumbersome way to write that sentence?). That is poopy. But! I can cook "weird" things for dinner and watch reruns of CSI and Grey's Anatomy till the cows come home.

I got Calvin a 6-month subscription to the Beer of the Month Club for Father's Day. If Michael drinks those, he's a dead man.

I also bought something for our upcoming (five year!) anniversary, which I am eager to see how it turned out. Once I am no longer in danger of spoiling the surprise (say, in a week when I get it, even though our anniversary isn't until the 29th but you all KNOW how I can't keep a present from the person it's intended for until the date it's intended for) I'll tell you all about it.

Don't people that whistle tunelessly bother the HELL out of you? Once again I am turning in desperation to my iPod. I HATE working in a cubicle. But! I heart Luther Vandross. And also the new Finger Eleven CD that I bought.

Marie says she is moving out in two weeks. While not unexpected, it still comes as a shock to contemplate the thought that our youngest child is grown up enough to be on her own. Any danger (hah!) of empty-nest syndrome is unfortunately effectively crushed by the reminder that Michael ain't going anywhere until we're, like, retired.

Marie and her boyfriend, typical of all young couples eager to be all grown up and play house, have purchased a puppy from the local shelter (quoth Marie, "Hey, better a puppy than a baby!"). A very cute and sweet little pit-bull mix, who very kindly shared her kennel cough with Gadget and Gypsy.

Sigh.

Okay, I have to get crap done. Sigh again.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Dammit.

From the horse's mouth (aka the head writer and executive producer of Grey's Anatomy):

"Burning it down was hard. But next season… oh, next season is all about the fun and the pain and the new beginnings. Because our interns are going to become residents. Because everyone is single again -- well, there is the little matter of Izzie and George and Callie… but still…"

"...everyone is single again..." Which means Mer and Der didn't make it. Which just pisses me right off. Stupid show. Stupid Shonda. Stupid stupidheads.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

cope (-a cabana)

My ability to cope seems to have taken a hiatus today. I'm stressy - the stressors are no different today than they were yesterday, but for some reason they're on my conscious mind today and messing with me.

I had a job interview over the phone with a company in Maine this morning. It went well, I think... they like it when you ask them questions instead of abandoning the interview as soon as the, "Tell me about a time when..." questions are over with. Conversely, the success of the interview started me worrying - what if they actually offer me a job and the compensation is enough to make it worth our while to move to Maine? Will we be able to sell the house? What will the kids do? Should I leave AcronymCo with my tenure and four weeks of vacation a year and another sabbatical coming up in two years? Will Calvin be able to find a job? Will he want to kill himself (or me) halfway through the first winter? Will convenient access to J's Oysters be enough to compensate for that? Will we have to live apart for an undetermined amount of time??? God forbid on that one.

Did you know that acid reflux feels remarkably similar to anxiety? I just took a Rolaids (I've been living off of 'em, and Tums, and Mylanta, and Pepto...), and I have another appointment with the doc the first week of June. So is my physical discomfort causing my stressy feeling, or is my stressy feeling causing my physical discomfort? ("Yes.")

One at a time, the things I'm stressing over are not hugely urgent. But together for some reason they feel like they're taking me over. And it's not like they're unresolvable, panic-inducing concerns. I'm just being a BDB (that's Big Damn Baby) today.

Problem: The house is a complete disaster.
Solution: Clean it until it is clean.

Problem: The truck is still in the shop.
Solution: I have a rental car, so I am still mobile. And the truck's under warranty.

Problem: The kids (well, Michael primarily) have not left the nest.
Solution: Have a serious discussion with them (him) tonight about what their (his) plans are.

Problem: There are many things we need to do to the house to prep it for potential sale.
Solution: Get a storage unit this weekend and get started offloading the clutter. Make a list of all the stuff that needs to get done.

Problem: My health.
Solution: Doc's appointments next week and the week following, plus a renewed (again!) determination to eat better and exercise regularly. Until I give up again next week.

Problem: The sprinkler/drip system is on the fritz.
Solution: I have contacted our landscaper to get us a new control box.

Problem: We (I) are (am) still conflicted about moving, jobs, staying, going... will we progress or will uprooting ourselves send us into a spiralling descent into destruction that will leave us having to work for the rest of our lives?
Solution: Beer.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Vacation: Part the Last

The thing I couldn't recall about Wednesday of our vacation day is taking a stroll with Calvin along the Eastern Promenade in Portland, after doing laundry but before pub crawling.

Calvin along the Eastern Prom, with an ACTUAL SMILE!!!

Thursday (5/10 for those of you following along at home):

Thursday we spent the entire day driving up (and then down, natch) the coast of Maine, following Route One (murder during tourist season, but we were early by a few weeks). First we hit Waldo's ("Hey, I found him!"), a convenience store/gas station/ice cream shop/hair salon/small engine repair (I kid - but there are actually a lot of combo places of bidness like that in Maine) in Falmouth, to stock up on road-trip munchies and beverages ("All Dressed" Humpty Dumpty potato chips are THE BOMB). "Up the road a piece", we stopped at the Muddy Rudder in Yarmouth for brunch (MORE SEAFOOD, PLEASE), getting there a few minutes before they opened but not having to cool our heels long at all.

Our waiter was very, very swishy.

From there we drove north (and then south - peninsulas are weird that way) to Boothbay Harbor. Now this is definitely a town that's only awake during tourist season - nearly every place we checked was closed until the next week. We wandered into a gift shop (hello walnut sized bladder), where Calvin picked out a really pretty little starfish necklace for me. I love it when he does that. We bought a couple of little souvenirs and wandered around looking at the ketch that can only be found in these little hole in the wall places in Maine.

We discovered that McSeagull's was open, and we stopped for a couple of beers and tuna tartar.

us at McSeagulls, taken by one of the chimney guys

tuna tartar at McSeagulls

We listened to the conversation of a trio of chimney workers just back from their morning stint over on Squirrel Island (man, you can find ANYTHING on Wikipedia). We conversed with them a little as we all enjoyed our beers out on the patio - that was one thing Calvin was exclaiming over during the trip, how friendly the people are and how often they just want to gab.

That's where I get it from.

Upon leaving McSeagull's we wandered around a little more, but not much was open. I got some ice cream (black raspberry! yes!), Calvin got a couple of cigars, and we got back on the road heading south. We detoured at around the Bath area to ooh and ahh at the destroyers in the shipyard at Bath Iron Works, where my uncle used to work. You can see the HUMONGOUS cranes stationed there from miles away; certainly a major fixture in my childhood memories.

We then went down along another one of the "fingers" protruding along the coast, to check out the town of Phippsburg and Fort Popham. I'd directed Calvin and the kids to Popham Beach back in '99 when the four of us were in Maine, but we never made it to the fort.

Our attention was immediately caught by the pod of seals just off-shore. They and the loons were having a merry old time fishing; there must have been a large school of fish in the area to keep them there as long as they were. We took picture after picture (after picture - 19 made it through Photoshop and onto Flickr, but there were many more), getting our feet and pants wet in the process as we failed to notice the incoming ("INCOMING!") tide.

seals at popham

We then wandered around the fort, taking another bazillion-and-three pictures (36 made the cut). I think the best one is this one, with Calvin peering into the pitch-black cell ("I am NOT going in there...") and me lighting it up with the flash behind him.

Helloooo??? Any monsters or ghosts in there???

Exterior of Fort Popham

Interior of Fort Popham

We drove back to Portland with the top down, adding to our wicked scalp sunburns. When taking a road trip in Maine, I highly recommend picking up one of these. Not only does it show every single nook and cranny of Maine's craggy coast (plus the rest of the state, of course), it has a ton of information on recreation and activities.

Upon our return to our room, we got cleaned up and then went right back out again for another meal at J's Oysters. Calvin got a double order of crab legs - MAN were we moo-ing that night.

Friday:

We slept in a bit on Friday morning, and I once again ordered us a bit of room service so I wouldn't have to stumble down to the Map Room for their complimentary coffee. We left at around noon to head back to New Gloucester to visit with my uncle, and also my old neighbors the Marshalls (Brad's parents). My uncle and his girlfriend hosted us to a "little lunch" - fresh shrimp cocktail, baked asparagus spears wrapped in filo pastry, softball-sized steaks, and baked potatoes.

Moo. Again. Seems I was stuffed to bursting for the entire vacation.

It was so nice to be home, in the house that I grew up in. Absolutely nothing has changed, other than a little paint and updated decorating ala my uncle's girlfriend. The years just peeled away from me as Calvin and I walked up the Marshall's driveway, the way I used to so often, so long ago. We sat in their kitchen and talked for about an hour. They're such good people, and I got to see Brad's sister Christine for the first time in years, too. And a bunny! And their black lab, who is a clone of Brandy.

And they still have the swing in the barn.

It is such a relief to know that nothing changes about home. I can go home whenever I have the opportunity, and other than a few new houses and a few new stores (and a few closed businesses - the Burger King I used to work at when I was first married to X(m) is closed, and good riddance), everything stays the same. Thank God for that.

We stopped back at my uncle's (it's weird to say it's his place now, rather than Grandma's) for a few more minutes, and I went through some of my old belongings to weed out what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to throw away. Calvin was cracking up at my old school papers (a two-foot tall stack of them dating from kindergarten all the way through high school), and I pointed out to him the multiple A's and 100's. I laughed at my old high school yearbook and some attempts at artwork (I was never artistically inclined), and my uncle and I discussed how best to ship my mother's sterling silver flatware.

Though maybe he should hold onto it, in case we end up moving to Maine in the near future.

We intended that night to meet my sister and her husband in the Old Port for one final pub crawl on our last night there, but she never returned my multiple voicemail messages. Nor has she returned the messages I have left since my return to Arizona. I'm kind of pissed off at my sister right now.

I was feeling kind of crappy come Friday night anyway, coming down with the cold that is still lingering as I type this, two weeks later. Calvin and I went to back to Gritty's and back to 51 Wharf, but I was wilting fast, so we called it a night at around 10:30.

Saturday:

More room service, and I packed us up fairly quickly. We took one last stroll through the Old Port to secure a couple more souvenirs - including T-shirts for Calvin, Michael, and Marie's boyfriend that feature a black dog in what I will call the "pooping pose" emblazoned on the back. It's that Maine humor.

We ate lunch at Mim's (decent, but not thrilling - here is one person's take on it), then checked our car out of valet for the last time. Back on I-295/95, we drove south and detoured over to Kennebunkport to check out the sights. We had some time to kill before we had to make our 5:30 flight out of Manchester, so we drove slowly through the back roads checking out the village and the million-dollar houses.

In Wells we stopped at the House of Pizza for some wicked good three-way (a three-item pizza, for you flatlandahs).

Another hour on the road saw us at the Manchester airport. By this time my cold had really set in and I was miserable. To make matters worse, by the time we finally meandered to our gate (after killing a couple of hours in the airport bar and gift shop), we discovered that our plane was delayed due to bad weather in Philadelphia (our connection).

Thus began the terrible saga of our journey home.

Calvin was in fine fettle, as you can imagine, by the time we finally boarded our flight to Philly, nearly two hours late. We arrived at around 9:00, a half-hour late for our connecting flight to Arizona. Mayhem ensued as we tried to find a US Airways rep to get us booked for the next flight out.

The following morning.

10 hours spent overnight in an airport terminal. Because weather delays are not the airline's fault, and no reimbursement would be given for hotel or airfare.

Did I mention I was sick?

Calvin and I got some truly mediocre pizza at the two-minutes-to-closing S'Barro's. Yeee-uck. Then we found our terminal and moved two blocks of chairs together, because they all had arms so we couldn't stretch out without combining two sets and lying down the middle. It was freezing, blazingly bright with the nearby TV at full volume, and I was miserable. I bundled into all the clothes I had - a hoodie AND a sweatshirt which Calvin described as my "baglady look". A couple of airport employees stopped by to give us scratchy airline pillows and paper-thin "blankets", and we huddled in a miserable pile from 11:00 at night until 5:00 in the morning.

GOD what a suck night that was.

Sunday (12 hours after we should have been home already):

The plane from Philly to Arizona left at 7:30, and Calvin and I had the very back, non-reclining row. Of course. We leaned, layed, and scrunched (fortunately, no one else had the third seat), and slept the best we could.

We waited for EVER for our luggage (which fortunately made it on the same flight we were on), then grabbed the first ride out of the airport that we could. We were finally home by about 11:00 in the morning.

I'll tell you what, I am NEVER flying US Air again, and I am NEVER taking a connection through Philly. The airport was in chaos, with terminals that could only be accessed between one another via shuttle bus. ONE shuttle bus, with fifteen other perfectly functional shuttle buses just sitting idle on the tarmac. US Air employees are indifferent at best, rude at worst, and remarkably disinterested in being helpful or kind or polite AT ALL. Fuckers.

So, it was a homecoming suitable to our mood, since we were huffed that vacation was over and we didn't at all miss Arizona one minute, not one little bit.

Boothbay

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Monday, May 21, 2007

interruptus

I'll do the entry on the last few days of our vacation soon, but there are other things on my mind that are interrupting my thought processes.

I'm feeling pretty discouraged today. The most minor contributor to that is that my back is out, again. I turned wrong and dared to *breathe* at the same time, and out it went. The pain radiates from underneath my left shoulder blade up my shoulder and neck. It's nearly impossible to sit or lay comfortably. I drove Calvin crazy last night with all of my tossing and turning.

Stress is what causes this particular issue. It flares up a few times a year - I just got over one bout of it before we went on vacation, and hark! Here it is again. I don't know why but I carry all of my stress in this one area of my body. I'll have to find another cranio sacral therapist, since mine is only in Arizona a couple of days a month.

Of more concern is Calvin's youngest sister and a bunch of negativity she is going through right now. I don't want to disregard her privacy by writing about it all here, but suffice to say we're worried about her and her family. She was in a car accident on Friday and while she and her son (who was with her) are okay, it's just a culmination of a long history of negativity, bad luck, bad choices, and issues in general.

Finally there is Michael. On Saturday night he wrecked the motorcycle with him and his girlfriend on it. They're both okay - major road rash for him, more minor for her. Cosmetic damage for the most part to the bike; it looks like they just layed it over on its right side and skid along for a while. It's the damage to their helmets that gave us the most pause - scrapes and dents that would have represented major damage to their heads, had they not been wearing their helmets.

As I said to Calvin yesterday: "Of all the lessons that we've tried to teach Michael that he's disregarded, I just thank God that wearing his helmet was the one lesson he chose to listen to us about."

Calvin and I talked about getting a storage unit this morning, so we can start off-loading our clutter and neatening things up around the house to prepare it for sale. We need to feel like we're moving forward with our goals, if only in the smallest degrees. Some day we will look up after all of these baby steps and find the culmination of our goals staring us in the face.

It can't come too soon for me. Cross your fingers, I have a phone interview with a company in Maine on Friday morning. I'm not really expecting anything to come of it, but it heartened me that someone had an interest in my resume!

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Vacation: Part the Third

Wednesday:

Let's see. Just a week since we've been home and things are already starting to get fuzzy in my memory. Wednesday morning I ordered us some fruit, pastry, and coffee from room service and spent the morning reading, photoshopping, and relaxing while Calvin did the same with the paper and the TV. Around noon we took the car to get some gas, then drove to Dimillo's (a short walk from our hotel but we didn't want to put the car in valet again) to have lunch with my uncle, his girlfriend, my cousin and her husband. We were there for over two hours, enjoying fillet (Calvin) and baked stuffed haddock (me), drinks, and conversation.

My uncle presented me with my mother's class ring, which had been lost at one point and then rediscovered and kept for me. I got caught up with my cousin, whom I hadn't seen since my Grandmother passed away. I don't know why, but it continues to startle me how well I get along with my uncle, when I was so fearful of him (out of respect and the threat of his righteous anger to get me to behave) when I was little. My sister doesn't get along with him at all - she has a different history with him than I do. But more on all of that in a different entry.

Anyway, we all parted company at a little after 3:00, and secured an invitation for lunch at my uncle's (my Grandmother's, where I grew up) on Friday.

Calvin was out of clean jeans, so we looked up the nearest laundromat and spent an hour or so futzing around with the more mundane aspects of living out of a suitcase. We may or may not have taken a nap after getting back to the hotel, I don't really recall.

What I DO recall is the BEST evening spent with my favorite person (that'd be Calvin), doing a pub crawl all over the Old Port. We went back to Bull Feeney's for a quick beer, then wandered down toward the wharf so I could show Calvin the spot that I took pictures from Sunday evening, while he was napping.

the wharf in the evening, photo by Calvin

After rave recommendations from my uncle, we had dinner at J's Oyster Bar (the link is to another blogger who reviewed the place and took the pictures of the outside that I did not). The place is, like, three square feet and when I say it's an Old Port "institution", I mean that in the truest and most respectful sense. We went there more than once in our short stay. They had the best crab legs Calvin and I have ever experienced. Plus I got my much-craved steamed clams (and my yearly recommended allowance of sand). It's dim and crowded and shabby and fantastic. Real food with real people running the place, and the most unpretentious sort of clientele.

a blurry shot inside J's Oyster Bar

God, we loved that place.

Breathing deeply of the crisp night air, we set out with no particular destination in mind, and no plans other than to crawl our way through some pubs. We hit Gritty's and sampled some of their great house brew. I just have to say that I love the bars in the Old Port - all housed in old, old buildings with exposed brickwork and wooden beams, funny crannies and architecture that screams "converted".

Next stop was a bar on Wharf Street called "Cake" (can't find a link to it). It's newly opened and the bar tender (and part owner?) was eager to please. We sat on the whiskey bar side - the dance club side was empty in early evening awaiting clientele. We grabbed a couple of beers and ordered steak tartar and some crackers with cheese and caviar (very fancy schmancy are we on vacation!).

steak tartar at Cake

From Cake we crossed Wharf Street and went to 51 Wharf, a contemporary bar that was offering salsa classes that night, of all things. We declined the lessons and had a couple of Jamesons at the bar (after he tried to serve us SOCO. Yeesh.). The bartender was fantastically inattentive but we're low maintenance customers so after we got our drinks straightened around it wasn't much of a problem.

the view from inside 51 Wharf, looking across the street at Cake

By the time we stumbled out of 51 Wharf it was quite late, and I honestly don't remember us getting back to the hotel room. Which means we had a GOOD night.

Calvin at 51 Wharf

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Vacation: Part the Second

Monday:

We couldn't have asked for better weather for just about the entire week we were in Maine - a fact that the "natives" were more than happy to inform us on a number of occasions. After having the Patriot's Day Storm just a couple of weeks before our arrival, the nice weather we experienced was considered to be "freak".

Calvin and I went to Eggspectations for breakfast on Monday morning. This was the place that I took Marie and her friend a few times when we were in Maine during my Sabbatical in '03. I believe they were more enamored of the waiters than the food. Suffice to say, the food was acceptable but no more. A strange occurrence when you consider the RHAPSODIES we generally had over our meals during vacation. Ih, what can you expect from a chain restaurant. The ONLY chain establishment we ate at the entire vacation, by the way.

After breakfast we drove through Portland's West End, which is occupied by many stately manors and old Victorian and Colonial architecture. We had to stop at the State Street Church for about a thousand pictures (okay, ten that I posted, but a bunch more that didn't make the cut).

State Street Church

Driving on we took the Casco Bay Bridge over to Cape Elizabeth for the traditional and required visit to the Portland Head Light and Fort Williams (here is an interesting article on the Forts of Maine). We lingered for several hours at the light, exploring the tidal pools among the rocks below. I just sat and breathed for a long, long time. It felt so good to be there, and when it came time to leave I kept stopping and looking around to try to infuse my spirit and mind with the peace I felt there. The whole trip was filled with moments like this, as I tried to take away as much of Maine as I could, not knowing the next time I would be able to be there again.

Portland Head Light

We spend a couple of hours after leaving the light, exploring around Cape Elizabeth and gawking at the OH MY GOD houses there. Multi-million dollar properties perched along the rocky cliffs, owned by old money and old people who probably have rat bastard children who don't deserve to inherit the properties.

Hmm. Moving on.

Our next stop was The Lobster Shack, situated on the edge of Two Lights Park in Cape Elizabeth. Some adjectives: "cozy", "quaint", "teeny", "delicious"... and very, very typical of a Mom and Pop establishment in Maine. Complete with attack seagulls that whisk away your popcorn shrimp if you so much as glance in another direction, if you happen to be sitting outside on the picnic tables. Which we did not, but were vastly amused by a shrieking woman who did. Damn flatlandah didn't know bettah.

Seagull on the prowl

Leaving Cape Elizabeth, we headed back to Portland for a drive around Bayside and Back Bay/Back Cove, then north a bit to Falmouth Foreside for some more gawking at some more houses that we would never in our lifetime be able to afford. I guess any homes right on the ocean are going to be like that, no matter where they are.

We had a lot of fun with our little Audi A4 (and Calvin was devastated to learn how far outside of our financial reach its big brother the R8 is). We both got some pretty wicked sunburns on the top of our heads from buzzing around with the top down. Who remembers to put sunblock on their HEAD, for godsakes? But the weather was glorious, the roads beautiful with the trees just starting to bud their leaves, the ocean everywhere you looked, and the smell of the crisp salt air tinged with green, growing things. The best smell on the planet.

We went back to the hotel in the early evening for a shower, dinner, and then bed at a reasonable hour for us old folks.

Tuesday:

Tuesday was another early starter for us - who wants to sleep when they're on vacation? Except for the times when that is the point exactly. Anyway, we again grabbed breakfast at 20 Milk Street before driving south a little ways to Old Orchard Beach. We were early enough (in the day and in the season, come to find out), that very few shops and restaurants were open. We were okay with that, though, as we were mainly there to walk along the sandy beach. I love the fact that Maine has rocky coastlines to explore and sandy beaches to walk along. I took my shoes off to stroll barefoot in the FUCKING COLD sand dampened by the FUCKING COLD ocean. And there were actually people SWIMMING. Or, well, running in, shrieking, running out, then running back in again. Whatever, weirdos. Our stay was fairly brief (I had to GO, SO BAD, and no restrooms were around and/or open), and Calvin and I were suddenly struck with weariness, so we decided to go back to the hotel for a nap.

me at Old Orchard


A couple of hours later we were awakened by the hotel front desk. Apparently there was a leak (we didn't do it, SWEAR) in the room below us, and in order to get to it they had to go in from above the leak, and would we mind terribly moving to a different room for the rest of our stay? Well, since it meant a free upgrade to a suite (we were in a standard king room), we said "Hell, yeah," and packed in record time. We left for a hour or so for lunch at Sebago Brewing Company, and when we returned they had moved all of our belongings to our new room. We ooh'ed at the flat panel TV and the skylight in the bathroom and the general increased roomyness, then unpacked and made ourselves at home again.

Departing the hotel once again (and the valet guys made a killing off us that week, I swear), we set off to see if I could remember the location of "that really old cemetery off of Stevens Avenue". I must say that Calvin gave me some rather strange looks when I told him where we were going. I believe his exact words were, "You're going to take pictures? Of graves??? That's just creepy, Laura. Why the hell would anybody think to go to a cemetery for FUN??? Oh, wait, this is YOU we're talking about..."

Huff.

I've always liked the Evergreen Cemetery - it's enormous and just seems to keep on going and going. And it's way old, with graves from the late 1600's and early 1700's, all the way up through present day. I find it very interesting to read the inscriptions and look for family associations - mother to child, sisters, brothers, husbands lauded with fancy inscriptions while their wives get just a name and "wife of...". Lots of babies dying in their first year, lots of mothers dying in childbirth, many people in general dying at an age we would consider to be young today. Evergreen also contains a lot of monuments to historic people - Samuel Wilde, Henry Goddard Thomas, and the Wadsworth Longfellow's are some of the more commonly known.

Wilde Memorial Chapel

The inscription portion of the photo contest still has yet to be won, by the way.

We left the cemetery after taking fifty million pictures (34 of which made the cut) and drove north to my old stomping grounds of Gray/New Gloucester. We had some time to kill and stopped at Cole Farms to satisfy another one of my, "When I'm in Maine I have to eat HERE," cravings. My mother worked at Cole's up until she passed away, and I spent a lot of time there when I was little. Plus it was a popular employer of the local high school students, and one of the few restaurants close enough to where I lived to warrant a mid-week visit if the craving struck. Calvin got himself a burger, and I ordered fried clams with french fries and a side of their house dressing. Dipping fries in this dressing (when I was little I called it "doodle sauce") is something I used to get cravings for when I lived there. Calvin ordered dessert just because he knew I wanted a slice of their chocolate cream pie (to. die. for.) but was going to deny myself because I was, once again and perpetually during this trip, full.

We moo'ed our way back to the car and drove "out Poland way" to visit my sister and her husband and four kids. Their driveway was inaccessible without a four-wheel-drive vehicle (which we DEFINITELY weren't driving), so we agreed to meet them all at her neighbor's, who kindly opened up the use of his garage (heh, a Maine thing) for us to congregate, drink, and be merry. It's a distinctly Maine trait to fix up one's garage/barn/shop before "finishing" the actual home.

Propane tank behind the garage - left side's ladies room, right side's mens.

Calvin and I took turns taking all of my sister's kids out for rides in the convertible, and I got to have a little bonding time with my niece, who is 14 and taller than I am. My sister is fond of accusing her of being, "just like your AUNT LAURA." As if that could possibly be a bad thing. She is a lot like me, though - same sense of humor, same sarcastic mouth, same inability to NOT make little zinging comments about everything in general. I love the hell out of her.

We hung out for a few hours just gabbing, reintroducing my sister and her husband to tequila, greeting my sister's friends who have known me since I was born (she used to drag me to her parties if she was stuck babysitting me), and gawking at the stars (which are SUPREMELY visible in Maine and nonexistent in Arizona). It being a Tuesday, though, we didn't want to keep everyone up when they all had to work the next day, so we excused ourselves at around 10:30 and made plans with my sister to go partying in the Old Port on Friday night.

L-R: my nephew, my niece in the black, my sister's neighbor, my sister, and her husband.  In the neighbor's garage drinking tequila and beer.  Yeah.

Okay! Next part will be up sometime this weekend. And I have a TON more I could have written about this trip so far.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Our Vacation - an exercise in my summarizing skills

I didn't provide too much detail during the week Calvin and I were in Maine, because, well, I wanted to be OUT DOING instead of IN WRITING. So you got your little drabs and your BIG amounts of pictures, which I hope helped to tide you over. That is, if you needed tiding. Perhaps you were completely and entirely disinterested. Who knows what goes on it that brain of yours, anyway?

Moving on.

The problem with going home is that at least two days out of every vacation are fully occupied with travelling. We left Arizona at 7:30 in the morning Arizona time on Saturday, and got to our hotel in Maine at 7:30 in the evening Maine time. That's flights, layovers, and the drive from Manchester NH to Portland ME. Coast to coast travel is a bitch, people.

Saturday, The Remainder:

The hotel (The Portland Regency, and I doubt we'll ever stay anywhere else, the place was AWESOME) was a MUCH WELCOME sight when we finally rolled in, even though we only paused long enough to shower up and change clothes, then we were out prowling the Old Port.

Portland Regency Hotel

We stopped in the Armory Lounge, the hotel's bar, for some alcohol soaking food (Chicken Gorgonzola for Calvin, lobster salad on a croissant for me), and then went down the street and around the corner to Bull Feeney's, an Irish Pub that was packed and happenin' (and did YOU know that lobsters love Guinness? I didn't.).

I already mentioned the oddity that is Cinco de Mayo in Maine, with the Irish drinking songs and the VERY WHITE GUYS sporting very black fake moustaches and sombreros. There was "Fred", who loved everybody, and told everybody that fact repeatedly. There were these two guys that were wasted and standing, weaving, calling catcalls and encouragements to the live entertainment, and trying with little success to sing along. Calvin and I enjoyed ourselves hugely, drank tequila (which is per our standard, but the folks in the bar thought that was Very Authentic of us), got hugged by Fred about twelve times (who, it turned out, was just back from Iraq), and finally stumbled our way back to our hotel a little after 1:00 a.m.

Sunday:

Tequila = ow.

I already described how I woke up ridiculously early and how Calvin was forced to get out of bed against his will. How he could sleep through the constant calls of the seagulls was beyond me - they woke us up pretty much every morning. If I lived there I'd probably get sick of it, but at week's end it was still novel to me. The hotel is one street up from the harbor, and with all of the fishing boats coming and going, there was a lot of seagull conversating going on.

"Mine? Mine? Mine?"

We ate breakfast at Twenty Milk Street, the restaurant in the hotel. They had a very fancy-schmancy Sunday Brunch going on, but we ordered more standard fare. Calvin had corned beef hash made with actual corned beef (not those weird little Dinty Moore cubes) and poached eggs Benedict, and I had eggs over medium with bacon and toast. Good LORD people, can I just rhapsody a moment over the bacon? I don't know what they do to the pigs in Maine, but whatever it is makes the bacon taste like meaty strips of heaven.

Me at breakfast at 20 Milk Street

You do know that this entry is going to be primarily about food, don't you? Maine is very VERY big on producing and selling locally grown produce, dairy, meats, and of course seafood. Very little (if any) of the food we ate was from "away". Except for the tequila (and some guy randomly told us in Bull Feeney's that there's a tequila manufacturer in Maine. I'm not sure I believe him. A cactus would never survive the Maine winters, even indoors.).

Anyway. We took the car out (valet parking at ten bucks a day plus a fiver tip every time you take it out) and drove "out New Gloucester way", taking the drive I used to commute every day to and from work (and whoever thought I ever would have wanted to do that for fun??). From there we drove the back roads to Freeport, stopped briefly at LL Bean for the required souvenier gifts for the gang back home, then wandered back toward the Old Port. Lunchtime rolled around and, utilizing the directions we got from the bartender at The Armory the night before, we went to the Amato's on India Street for my Mecca Moment. I tell you what, we had to wait for over a half an hour for those darned sandwiches - the folks behind the counter couldn't get their acts together and misplaced our VERY SIMPLE ORDER (one large regular, one small roast beef, guess which one was mine), like, three times. But we finally made it back to the hotel room with the Italians and the Humpty Dumpty salt-n-vinegar chips (an institution, and what an awesome website MaineGoodies.com is!!!), and the Sam Adams.

I think I ate that entire foot-long sandwich in three bites. Oh, the pickles! Ohhh, the bread. Ohhhhhh, the fact that I'm three thousand miles and God knows how many months away from having another one...

Ahem.

After lunch we went looking for a sports bar with a TV that would sport the Suns game ("The who? What game are you looking for?" ("Basket. Ball.") "Uhhh... the Red Sox are playing...") We walked into one place and turned around and went back out almost immediately, having assessed their TV-less-ness. A (rather drunk) guy standing just outside the door looked at us funny and said, "What'd you do that for?" Calvin bristled, still operating on Arizona Standard Defense mode, and said, "What do you mean?" So the guy slurred, "Why would you wanna walk into a bar, then walk right out again? Oh, you have a camera. You're trying to (hic) capture something..." I just laughed and pulled Calvin away, reminding him that in Maine, any questionable circumstance would most likely turn out to be well meaning but weird, instead of violent and confrontational.

We finally settled in the Old Port Tavern. There was absolutely nobody there (it being Sunday afternoon), and the more beer I drank, the sleepier I got.

Calvin at the Old Port Tavern

Calvin got a little annoyed that I would want to take a nap (don't worry, the irony kicks in later). After about an hour of fighting it, I finally gave in and we went back to the hotel. I crashed in the room for ONE HOUR AND TWENTY MINUTES, that's it. He hung out in The Armory to watch the game (and have two more beers, and a PORT, of all things). He came back up to the room at about 5:20, at which point I woke up and got up to get myself ready for another evening of prowling around the Old Port. As I was in the process of dressing and grooming my hot self, he FELL ASLEEP. Fully clothed. Watching the game.

So. I figured, okay. I'll let him rest. I needed a nap too, after all. I grabbed the camera and went down toward the wharf to take a bunch of pictures.

I can has buckit?

I was gone for probably an hour or so, taking my time and enjoying the evening and the weather and the light. I wandered back up to the room at about 6:30. Tried to wake Calvin up. Got a grunt and a snore. So I sat at the computer and photoshopped the pictures. Tried to wake Calvin up once every half an hour or so. Finally gave up at 8:30 and let Calvin sleep. For the rest of the night.

Ahem.

I went down to The Armory with my book (The Dreamhunter by Sherrilyn Kenyon, and I have to say I didn't particularly like the book), grabbed a burger and gabbed with the bar guys while they ROARED over The Family Guy. I don't get that show At. All. There was a random 10-minute sequence where the dad on the show battled it out 007-style with a man-sized chicken. For no apparent reason. And then just stopped. Again, for no apparent reason. Something was lost in translation for me, that's for sure.

When I was done eating I went to the Map Room (which I never actually took a picture of, but it's a lovely sitting room with leather and mahogany furniture and model ships and maps everywhere) and read for about an hour. Then I went back up to the room, didn't take too much particular care to not disturb Calvin (not that it would have made a difference because I would have needed a marching band AND an earthquake), and went to sleep.

Aaaaand obviously I can't "summarize" to save my life, so I'm going to post this stuff in chunks. More tomorrow! I'm sure your riveted.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

To be or not to be

This website lists the latest and greatest in network television shows - those who have made the cut for the '07-'08 fall season, and those which have been dropped.

Surprised:

The Class. I'm surprised that this one was cancelled. Especially after it won an Emmy last year.

Jericho. This cancellation surprised me too - and the fact that the series finale aired on May 9th. The article says they lost their following upon their return from hiatus, and I must say that was my issue as well.

The Real Wedding Crashers. Cancelled. I thought this one was going to make it. The couple of episodes I watched were hysterical.

Numb3rs. I'm surprised that it's returning. I can't believe a show with this premise lasted this long.

Not Surprised:

Raines. Cancelled. I called it.

Knights of Prosperity. Hokey is as hokey does. Cancelled.

Andy Barker, P.I.. Cancelled. Not surprised, any show with Andy Richter in it is doomed to end after only a few episodes.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

A contest of sorts.

During one of our days in Maine I took Calvin to see the Evergreen Cemetery in Portland. It kind of creeped him out that I would want to a) go to a cemetery for *fun*, and b) take pictures of other people's graves and tombs. I find this stuff fascinating, though, and eventually he did too. While Evergreen Cemetery is one of the oldest non-private cemetery in Maine, it is by no means THE oldest. The majority of graves were from the 17- and 1800's, but there are plenty of cemeteries all over Maine that have graves dating to the 1600's.

Anyway, while there I discovered a tomb whose inscription I couldn't fully decipher, and I thought it would be fun to make a little contest out of it for my readers. So, the first person to respond with the completed inscription wins a prize! Just send me an e-mail.

heritage_grave_evergreen_05_08_07
"A heritage of life
Beyond this guarded gloom
A kingdom - not a grave
A Heaven - not a tomb
Shall come to thee Our souls deep dreams
Our young affections have not (?) in (?)
Soon in (?) We shall (?) the (?) streams
And with the past be sorrow death and pain"


We also kept seeing these plants all over the place, does anybody know what it is?

evergreen_05_08_07_6

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Friday, May 11, 2007

More pictures

There's more pictures that start here (click on this one to take you to the set, and isn't this a nice picture??? McSeagull's Bar & Grill at Boothbay Harbor. We're extra special cute, we are.). Soon I will do an entry that will explain all of the pictures and the details of what we've been up to for the past week.

PLUS, as an EXTRA SPECIAL FEATURE of being readers of my little ol' website, I shall host a contest to see who can help me translate some tomb inscriptions, as well as who can identify a particular plant that we've become fond of out here.

Home tomorrow (wah), more soon!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

It's Thursday already???

More pics start here, or start at the beginning of the vacation set here.

Tuesday - an early drive to Old Orchard beach for a stroll along the ocean; a nap; poking around Evergreen Cemetary and taking pics of tombs and graves to freak Calvin out; fried clams, french fries with house dressing and chocolate cream pie at Cole Farms; then hanging out with my sister and her family.

Wednesday - a hangover; lunch at D'Millos with my Uncle, his girlfriend, my cousin, and her husband; laundry; a pub crawl of the Old Port that included Gritty's, Cake, J's Oyster Bar (with the best crab legs EVER), and 51 Wharf.

Today - a drive up the coast via Route 1; lunch at The Muddy Rudder, beers and tuna tartar at McSeagull's in Boothbay Harbor, a drive over to Fort Popham, and now we're back at our room about to head out to J's Oyster Bar again. Pics of today (with seals!) are forthcoming.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Down the way

Yesterday the weather was just lovely - high 60's/low 70's, sunny, breezy. We got up early-ish (early for US! 8:30 or so...) and went for breakfast at "Eggspectations" (hi, Marie!). After breakfast we decided to just drive around and enjoy the weather. We drove along the West End and enjoyed looking at all the OLD colonial architecture, and stopped to take about a hundred pictures of the State Street Church.



Then we crossed the Casco Bay Bridge into Cape Elizabeth for the required visit to Fort Williams and the Portland Head Light.



We drove all around Cape Elizabeth and came across Two Lights State Park and the local much-lauded institution, the Lobster Shack. We crammed into the tiny place and enjoyed our lobster roll (me) and shrimp plate (Calvin), then wandered around taking a few more pictures and enjoying the antics of the seagulls terrorizing a woman eating her food outdoors. After THAT we decided to head back North toward Portland, and drove around Bayside and Back Bay before heading to Falmouth Foreside, home of the OLD money and FABULOUS houses that we could never afford. Then it was back to the hotel for a shower and dinner before crashing again in our room.

More pictures start here, click the right arrow to see the rest of yesterday's pictures. Or start from the beginning of the set here.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Mecca Achieved

Italians from Amatos

The rest of today's pictures are here.

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Country road, take me home.

You have never experienced Cinco de Mayo until you have experienced it in Maine. The guys we saw at the bar last night would have gotten beaten up in Arizona, is all I'm saying. I bet the vast majority of the population here have never met a person from Mexico. And yet, they were celebrating their independence very enthusiastically. With Irish drinking songs. And sombreros.

I woke up this morning at 6:30 a.m., still a little bit buzzed, I think. I tried to convince myself to go back to sleep, but my internal clock didn't care that it was 3:30 in the morning according to Arizona. I just could NOT go back to sleep. It's 8:15 now, and I've showered, dressed, hair/make-upped, unpacked, got the wireless Internet access working (hi), found coffee, and am now typing this entry. Calvin, who only had trouble staying asleep this morning because I was making noise, is grumbling and in the shower as I type this.

The flight over here was hellish, of course. Calvin promptly fell asleep and stayed that way for almost all of the Phoenix to Philadelphia leg of our trip. I finished my book about 3/4 of the way through the flight, couldn't sleep, couldn't get comfy, and so sat dwelling on the fact that in a few short hours I would be HOME.

There was a scene on the plane before take-off in Philly - a church group of 28 members were missing five of their compatriots, whose seats were given away to standby after waiting for almost a half hour for them to show up. One woman wanted to stage a walk-out and get the other 22 members to get off the plane - "We all go or none of us go, are you with me?!?" I felt bad for the poor flight attendant, who was trying to get folks to sit down and shut up. Finally one of the church group members volunteered to get off the plane and stay behind to arrange another flight for their missing friends. You'll be glad to know that by the time we landed in New Hamster, it had been established that they caught a later flight and all was well.

I was darn worried, too.

I cried a little bit on the car ride from Manchester to Portland, my head and my heart singing "HOME HOME HOME". Calvin thinks I'm a little bit nuts. I think I might be, too. We do have a WAY fun little car that we're driving - An Audi something or other, zippy with a convertible top. That was a pleasantly unexpected upgrade.

The hotel is very elegant indeed. Lots of leather and dark wood. I keep finding pictures that I want to take and shall probably embarrass myself playing tourist with the camera always stuck to my face. There are so many angles, great arches and brick work, lots of old buildings and fantastic light. I hope I can do justice with this new camera.

Okay, I'm going to go ply Calvin with coffee and futz around and take some pictures. Innernet access on vacation is way kewl.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

A proud, proud moment.

A couple of nights ago Calvin and I went to the mall to pick up a few new shirts and a pair of jeans for him, in prep for our trip to Maine. Then we went to BJ's Brewery ("Where you can give me a BJ! Seriously! It's okay because the restaurant is named after it! People must do it all the time!") so we could have beers and I could have a salad because I was STARVING, it being 5:00 and I hadn't eaten yet that day.

ANYway. "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol was playing in the restaurant.

Calvin: "Huh! This is the second time I've heard this song today."

Me: "I love this song."

Calvin: "It makes me think of you. And, it makes me a little sad."

Me: "Why?"

Calvin: "Well, because you love all things Grey's Anatomy..."

Me, interrupting, because Calvin thinks Grey's is stoopid: "WAIT! You knew this was from Grey's Anatomy?!?"

Calvin, "Well, yeah. And it makes me a little sad because it was playing during that scene where Izzy was laying with Denny after he died..."

Me: "You are SO turning me on right now."

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The most annoying and disgusting cube neighbor ever.

I have a cube neighbor who pretty much LIVES in his cubicle. He eats there, I'm pretty sure he sleeps there. He CLIPS HIS TOENAILS into his garbage can, and I know for a fact that they don't all make it in. He uses that canned air spray to dust off his desk, sending dust bunnies wafting over the wall and onto my desk. He gets phone calls on his cell phone constantly, from someone who either hangs up or has a bad connection. Seriously, I counted how many times he said, "Hello?" this last time before he gave up and hung up. Seventeen. SEVENTEEN times he said hello and then finally figured out that no one was there. He eats some sort of disgusting, toxic, fishy smelling dish for lunch nearly every day, and it completely fumigates the entire floor. I have actually gotten nauseous from smelling his lunch. He sneezes a lot and doesn't cover his mouth, and it's the juicy kind of sneeze. And then he blows his nose. Enthusiastically. Juicily. He's on teleconferences a lot and speaks incredibly loudly, as if he needs to make himself heard by his conference participants in Asia, WITHOUT the technological benefit of a telephone.

GAH, I can't stand this guy. I think I'll start a petition to get him evicted.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

'Toid Update

The doctor called Calvin back yesterday afternoon. They said they didn't know what the lump was but that we "shouldn't be concerned", and to come back for a follow-up visit in three months.

Hello????

They don't know what it IS, they don't know what it ISN'T, and yet they know that it's nothing to be concerned about and we can just go on our merry way for another three months??? They don't want to do any more tests or scans or ultrasounds or the thousand other things they could be doing to figure out what this thing is???

Fucking doctors. After we get back from vacation, I believe I shall insist that Calvin get a second opinion.

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