Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Longest Yard

Looking back, I'm not sure I'll remember how much of a challenge these last couple of weeks has been - because there have been a few highlights that will stay with me for a while.
Sara has been working like mad this month, which kind of changes the way we roll a bit... and when she works hard, she doesn't just come home late and grumpy - she throws herself into things and stays up for days at a time... calls faithfully at nine every night to give goodnight kisses to the kids, helps them get dressed in the morning, and spends every other waking second on the phone or in front of the computer. It's pretty impressive actually, because I think that she is genuinely happy when she's under the gun, staying up till five in the morning but making progress... and somehow manages to keep the kids blissfully unaware that she is pushing herself like a freight train. My account of this, I'm sure, is different than hers - but never fear, by the time she gets to the end of this paragraph I will be corrected, and my next post will surely be a retraction of some sort.
Meanwhile, I've been slowly slipping from a busy season into a slow but steady stream of work. Aside from the sinus infection that was bad enough to have me thinking about dragging the kids with me to the hospital on Tuesday night, there were some bright spots that smoothed everything over. One of the people I cater for on a regular basis had me for a couple of days this week. Over the last few years she has become my favorite people to work for - don't get me wrong, she is more than happy to work me to death, but always tips really well and in general is a pretty cool person. After a couple of days at her house, not only did she tip well, but gave me a case and a half of wine because she was reorganizing her cellar. Eighteen bottles of Mad Dog would even be nice, but she threw together some things like a 1990 Bollinger Grand Annee, some 1995 port, some Pine Ridge Pinot, and on and on... feel like I just got married...
To top off the whole deal, we got a house in the Poconos for the long weekend so Sara could decompress from the deal she just finished working on. I wasn't really sold on the whole thing from the get-go, but we ended up having a pretty cool time. Sam learned to fish, and spent hours with me on the lake even though we only caught a few crappy fish... and both of the kids got a good dose of back-woods Pennsylvania. The lake where we were staying was pretty private, and you had to have access cards to get through the gates to get into the little complex of cabins, so we were in our own sort of manufactured seclusion - but once we went beyond the gates into the real world we were deep in the middle of Pennsylvania's NRA loving, dentist hating, roadkill recipe-devising heartland. There were some pretty cool flea markets though, and it was really easy for us to find bait, ammo, and fireworks. Plus, we got to see a woman with two teeth and a "Danger! High Voltage Bitch!" t-shirt. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't really surprised that she was wearing the shirt, and just can't wrap my mind around how she actually got the shirt. I pretty much ruled out gift, so she must have picked it out... but was it on a rack with other bitch-themed shirts, and if so, how do you choose? Bitch on Wheels? Sexy Bitch? Biker Bitch? I'm Not a Bitch, I'm THE Bitch , and it's MISS BITCH to You? Danger, High Voltage Bitch! That's it! That's the one! I am a high voltage bitch! Anyway, were back and smelling like roasted marshmallows and nightcrawlers, so I'm gonna shower...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Screwing With Magellan

Great Father's Day weekend, thanks to the wife and our sea of offspring. I did have to wear a "World's Greatest Dad" medal from Lily on Saturday, and a "I Love My Dad!" shirt with a picture of Sam on it on Sunday, but I had such a nice couple of days I hardly even noticed everyone staring at my chest all weekend. There was all of the love and Hallmark moments of course, but the three things I'll most certainly remember from this weekend are a great find, a gift, and a story.
First of all, I found the Fisher Price Castle that I've been looking for for a couple of years. Not any Fisher Price Castle, mind you, but THE Fisher Price Castle #993 from 1974 that we had when I was a kid. I don't know what it is about this thing, but it's one of those toys that I remembered playing with for years... I remember all of the pieces - the pink dragon, the woodsman and knight, dining room table complete with painted drumsticks, and of course the secret room under the stairs - I don't even know how to describe it, but if any of you out there had one, you'll know what I mean. Sara, who didn't have one growing up, looked at it sitting in the hallway this morning and said that she thought the kids were too old, that they wouldn't play with it... of course, she underestimated the power of the #993, and by Sunday night they were completely absorbed... sucked in by the power of the castle....
When I woke up on Sunday morning - as if Sara could read my innermost thoughts and desires, even the stupid electronic-related ones - she gave me a GPS for the car. Amazing thing, this... On our drive into Jersey this morning, I asked for the fastest route, and blindly followed the instructions - and even though I wouldn't have picked the way it sent me, I was pretty impressed by how well it worked, and its route might have been a bit faster than mine. On the way home we were testing the limits a bit, and it didn't take much prodding to start screwing around. "Look, there are four cars lined up ahead of us, we should find an alternate route!" Sara said in as much urgency as she could muster. So we asked, and it gave us a detour... and I followed it - for a bit. Since I knew where I was, I simply ignored the next instruction and turned off to see what would happen. After a couple of beeps, a soothing voice comes on that says "Please make a legal u-turn at your next available opportunity", and when I continued on, I thought I sensed a bit of panic, "PLEASE MAKE A U-TURN AT YOUR NEXT AVAILABLE OPPORTUNITY". Two blocks later, "Please, just turn right here. I won't say anything, just go"... then some disappointed beeps, and then, "(sigh) Recalculating route..." No matter what I did, it found a way, but the coolest part was the ending. As we were pulling up to our house it gave us the last few instructions and then said, simply, "You have arrived". Of course, I thought, we live on the Main Line, I know we've arrived.
The icing on the cake of my weekend was Sam's book. He has a story journal of sorts, that he draws pictures in, and then asks us to write in the story that goes with the pictures as he narrates. So far he's finished chapter five of "The Spider and the Worm", and I've got to say, it's a pretty good read. Silverstein in parts and Joyce in others, but it's a work in progress. This morning, he started chapter six with a drawing of a couple of people playing and had Sara write out the first page. Just to give you a sneak peek, I'll share the beginning of chapter six that I think might be back-cover-of-the-jacket-quote worthy.
"Sam and Riley were playing with their balls, and then they got really tired and went inside for some juice."
I just can't wait to show his girlfriends in high school.
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