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Don’t just get there. Arrive!

(actual GPS product tag lines)

I am infatuated with my husband’s new toy, a low-end Garmin GPS. DH has a MUCH better, bigger higher-end model that is waterproof for his new bike. That one has mostly stayed in the box, this not being the best riding weather, even assuming he had to time to indulge (he doesn’t).

I don’t think the little Garmin has been back in it’s box since he got it last month.

I have been scarred by years and years of poor map experiences. Many traumatic events involved a map that said the road went >>> this way, but the road in reality (if it was there at all) went ˆˆ or << instead. Other times the name of the street would change for no apparent reason. Mostly there wouldn't be any visible street sign anywhere. Good luck and God help you!

I would arm myself with multiple maps and meticulously plan out new routes only to be foiled by road construction or destruction detours. Whenever possible I would scout out a new location in the daytime before I needed to find it in the dark. I got hopelessly lost on the Staten Island subway once, and that only has a single track! I would suffer the most awful panic and anxiety attacks whenever it looked like I was going to be lost. When the kids were little I tried to hide this but they figured it out quickly enough. If mom turns off the radio and white knuckles the steering wheel, it’s a good idea to be _very_ quiet.

Part of the reason for the trauma is that every curve, every intersection was a new decision. Following the “logical” route was not a native concept to someone born in Michigan where all the roads are gridded, and going around the block meant right angles and a finished square. Up in Massachusetts, it is distinctly possible that you _can’t_ go around the block. They liked curls, squiggles, and narrow twisty roads. They brag that most roads are paved-over cow paths (and they brag about this?). While it makes for interesting and gorgeous scenery, it makes it damned difficult to correct a navigational error.

Now contrast those regularly occurring nightmares with my recent jaunt down to NJ. I hooked up the Garmin, and went where it said, even when it made no sense to me. I totally released all my worry and fear and trusted that little gizmo to get me where I needed to go. And it did. Amazing!

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My beloved is on a spending spree. He either spends or he doesn’t. Mostly it is a doesn’t. But the nightmare of repairing a water-damaged ceiling is nearing completion and in the giddy rush of seeing light at the end of the many-times-extended tunnel is having an effect on his normally frugal lifestyle.

Repairing the ceiling evolved into a major do-over of the living room. This repair has been on our lists for several years. Finding and repairing the leak which caused the damage was a matter of repeated trial and error. Ceiling leaks are truly devious and deceitful, hard to locate the source of, and harder still to fully repair where it doesn’t sprout up in another spot during a nor’easter.

Let’s just say it took years, a new roof, repointing and repairing a chimney, new flashing, new tar sealing the flashing (twice) and be done with it, shall we? No reference to curse words, damaged fingers, bank accounts, and bruises, now just moving right along.

In preparation for repairing the ceiling, I packed up the entire room, books, pictures, display shelves, right down to every stick of the furniture (except for the sofa because it would only go OUT the sliding glass doors, not IN any other room without disassembling it. That was sooo not gonna happen!). Everything was ready for the project, except the actual time and energy to do it.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. We called workers (Yes we got bids and referrals. People lie.) who swore they could complete the job including finishing the walls and new moldings before Thanksgiving. This was imperative because we stored all the debris er, contents from the approximately 13 x 28 room in the guest room where the in-laws would be staying over the Thanksgiving holiday. At the time you couldn’t even see the bed, let alone get to it!

No problem! It’ll be done a full week before Thanksgiving. “You’ll love it,” the contractor assured us.

Except, of course, it wasn’t. Still isn’t as a matter of fact. A lot closer, true, but still *not* finished.

While waiting for the carpenter to come back we located and had installed a new rug for that room. The padding cost as much as the carpet! Those workers showed up when they said they would and they did a really nice job WITHOUT damaging the work in progress. They got a nice tip.

As we admired the new floor covering, the puppies jumped in and out of their dog door which had been off-limits during earlier phases of construction. Not being able to go in and out on a whim seriously cramped their style and interrupted DHs work day even more as they pestered to be let in or let out. And they leapt in and out bringing pieces of outdoors with them…sand, leaves, dirt…

In another part of the universe, the NeDOD listserve group was filling the vacuum created by not riding with email regarding home care and maintenance. The topic of the day was Roomba. One user story was just too hilarious not to share.

True story:

I was working from home one day, dialed in to a team teleconference. The Roomba woke up for its scheduled cleaning pass, and started noisily trundling around the living room. I was in the middle of giving my status update when I simultaneously noticed (1) the Roomba was leaving weird muddy-looking tire tracks (2) my cat had barfed several times around the room and (3) the Roomba was headed straight for one of the larger juicier piles.

Randomized exploration algorithm my ass – that perfect trajectory was nothing but pure robotic spite.

Time seemed to slow to a crawl as I leapt across the room. I got to the Roomba with my hand outstretched just as it enthusiastically ran down the barf. In slow-motion horror, I watched as the overwhelmed vacuum consumed what could be consumed and its brushes sprayed the rest in every direction. I snatched the Roomba off the ground, using the removable bin as an ill-considered handgrip, my thumb right on the “detach” button.

The arc of my energetic lift resulted in a dramatic stage separation about hip-level. The main body of the Roomba shot off at tangent towards the couch, trailed by an explosion of partially digested cat food and barf-coated dust bunnies. It went everywhere. *Everywhere.*

I stared at mess in shock, shaken back to reality by a muffled “Beep-boop” coming from the eviscerated machine on the couch. The Roomba sounded vaguely accusatory as it declared mission failure.

Nothing lets you know that you’ve arrived in the future (and the future is very weird) like signing off early from a global teleconference with the phrase “I need to go clean up after the robot.”

-rg

So DH ordered a Roomba.

I wonder if it will be up to the challenge? And what will we name it?

Things to be thankful for.

Liam chased the small golf ball in circles, running off the energy of fabulous food and the excitement of far-flung family and friends nearby, whooping cheers of “home run!” and “touchdown!” as he went. Brandishing a pint-sized golf club, he took aim. Great-gramma chimed in with “Fore!” Without missing a beat Liam chirped “Five!”

As the adults convulsed in laughter, Liam hopped and giggled to another “score!”

Not two weeks ago this dear child couldn’t reliably get past counting to two.

For all the bright memories of holidays past, I thank my own (now fully grown) rug-rats, Susan and Philip who celebrated the holiday in far-away places. Perhaps next year…

The melody instantly took me back to days of yesteryear, when I sang along with my daughter and nieces the “Hello Song” from Magic Garden. It was a perfect intro selection for:

The 35th Annual

World Hello Day
November 21st, 2007

Greet Ten People for Peace

WBZ Radio noted that today, November 21, 2007, is the 35th annual World Hello Day. Anyone can participate in World Hello Day simply by greeting ten people.

World Hello Day was begun in response to the conflict between Egypt and Israel in the Fall of 1973. Since then, World Hello Day has been observed by people in 180 countries. For more information, including the names of those who work at promoting this annual event, visit http://www.worldhelloday.org.

I love the internet. In no time at all I found a clip of the song (sung slower than I remembered, but that’s probably just me) and happily sang along as I scanned the long list of people who also had strong fond memories of the program. The Giggle Patch with their truly awful jokes (“What is green and green and green and green? — A pickle rolling down the hill!”). Sherlock was a hot pink squirrel who was forever trying to cadge extra peanuts off of Carole and Paula. The story box always had neat props and costumes to act out the story of the day.

There are worse ways to start the day…

You add Triple Sec, Vodka, and salt to make margaritas.

When you offer to take a gazillion plastic bags for recycling you create…

I love Halloween. It is one of my favorite holidays. I held annual Pumpkin Hunts for years and invited kids and kids-at-heart to join me in creating all sorts of ‘Great Pumpkins’…I literally had them join me at pumpkins fields to select pumpkins, or scavenge them in my yard…how I miss having a ready supply of rug rats to join me in my adventures…

Sans children in the household, I took advantage of the Fall Rummage sale at my church to load up on books, wool blazers, toys (for me!) and $4 later I had amassed 5 HUGE bags of loot. Later on I was in the clean-up crew, and (insanely) offered to take the plastic bags for recycling…until I saw the mountain of plastic bags in near-perfect condition… and a wild mania dreamt a new reality for them….

Aha!

Dixie and Duncan were very curious about this project of mine. Their idea of helping didn’t. I had fun stuffing my body and posing him. Finding clothes for him to wear that would survive a few weeks (I takes my time changing porch scenery) exposed to the elements. The shoes/boots I would gladly “lose” because they are only good for protecting my feet while riding on the bike. Walking in them is very ucky.

The next generation of pumpkin pals stopped by for Halloween. Aidan wore the pumpkin costume his older brother fussed so about when he wore it. Of course, Aidan didn’t have to try on an entire wardrobe of costumes, so he was much calmer about the unusual attire.

Liam had a blast. He loved his costume and he especially liked having his own flashlight outside in the dark. He flashed the sky and hollered “I see the moon! I see the leaves!” Then he would flash the flashlight left and right on the ground and announce gleefully “I see the grass!! I see the stones! I see my feet!”

He must not have been outside after dark before. Already over two years old and hitherto deprived of a childhood rite. He was having so much fun with the flashlight that it took almost 45 minutes to go to 4 neighboring houses. He chattered loudly in the street and all the way up to the doorways and then….silence. Big grin, no sound. Typical.

Being a two-year-old means you fill up your pumpkin basket and happily hand it over to mom and dad in exchange for your very own small box of raisins. Mom and dad made out very well.

…and not in the New England/Boston sense of ‘wow!’ or ‘awesome, dude!’.

Think evil. Think awful. Think sickening.

Rotten timing comes to mind as well… Her birthday was last May, but it took until November to get tickets to the Broadway production of ‘Wicked’ as her birthday present. It also seemed to take forever for the day to arrive, but finally the weekend was upon us.

I left work and drive down, trusting to my husbands GPS toy to get me down the familiar path most expeditiously, adventuring along new routes if it so directed me to.

And they were different indeed! Had there been no rain, no construction, and no traffic in all of New York City (like that has EVER happened???) the route it took me on might have been quicker. I’ll never know because the last two items are a constant in and around NYC…but I digress …I did get to Susan’s eventually, and it wasn’t my longest drive down. That record is still held by the nine and a half hour nightmare with Phil back in 2000, I think.

I unloaded, we gabbed, and then we hit the sack. The alarm was set to allow us a comfortable leave time of 9AM for lunch in midtown Manhattan before our 2PM show.

The morning news show gave us the bad news. A strike was called by the stagehands that began at 10AM that morning. It affected 22 out of the 27 or 28 Broadway shows, and yes, ‘Wicked’ was one of them.

We went to the theater anyway. The picketers were very polite, and even offered to take these pictures for us, handing us a sign as proof we got there, if nothing else. They caught me showing how I really felt about the whole mess.

There were a lot more adventures awaiting us in NY. Finding a place to eat was top of our list. We wanted a real restaurant, not a street peddler or a fast food joint. It had to be something with prices NOT in the stratosphere…and then we added things like…not in the mood for Italian, Chinese, or Thai. The Bubba Gump Shrimp Restaurant was packed wall-to-wall with a waiting list and time into the dinner crowd. My wonderful new boots began to inform me in no uncertain terms that a day of wear in a carpeted office was NOT the same as strolling the concrete of 42nd Street.

I walked gingerly on… we did find a suitable dining place where I collapsed and immediately ordered a glass of wine. It helped restore my spirits and my feet, but not my brain. I left my gloves there.

I insisted on taking the bus downtown to the ferry (the why we needed to take the ferry to get to the car is another story for another time) to admire the buildings and architecture. This also allowed us to get off at Ground Zero and check on the progress of the new building. I admit I saw only construction equipment, no actual ‘building’ a’ tall.

At this point we were halfway between 2 subway stops of the ferry. We decided to walk. My feet were NOT happy. I told them to stuff it. They retaliated by making my camera take many fuzzy pictures.

As we went through Battery Park, we saw several ‘living statues’— people covered in paint and drapery imitating the Statue of Liberty. They called out to us in heavy Mexican and Italian accents to come take a picture with them. As we got closer, we realized that they wanted to charge us $5 to have us use our own cameras to take pictures with them. How New York!


The real thing.

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