Saturday, October 15, 2005

"You know you live on the Gulf Coast..."

This came in from Lynne R., a dear friend of mine in Biloxi, MI. Lynne and her husband were quite lucky: their house was relatively undamaged, but I understand a lot of their friends and neighbors weren't half so lucky. She sent me this recently, which, coming from her, qualifies as "gallows humor."

You know you live on the Gulf Coast when:

  • You have FEMA's number on your speed dialer.

  • You have more than 300 C and D batteries in your kitchen drawer.

  • Your pantry contains more than 20 cans of Spaghetti Os.

  • You are thinking of repainting your house to match the plywood covering your windows.

  • When describing your house to a prospective buyer, you say it has three bedrooms, two baths and one safe hallway.

  • Your SSN isn't a secret, it's written in Sharpie on your arms.

  • You are on a first-name basis with the cashier at Home Depot.

  • You are delighted to pay $3 for a gallon of regular unleaded.

  • The road leading to your house has been declared a No-Wake Zone.

  • You decide that your patio furniture looks better on the bottom of the pool.

  • You own more than three large coolers.

  • You save plastic containers all year (like kitty litter jugs) to use to flush the toilet.

  • You can wish that other people get hit by a hurricane and not feel the least bit guilty about it. (Lynne's favorite!!!)

  • You rationalize helping a friend board up by thinking "It'll only take gallon of gas to get there and back"

  • You have 2-liter coke bottles and milk jugs filled with water in your freezer

  • Three months ago you couldn't hang a shower curtain; today you can assemble a portable generator by candlelight.

  • You catch a 13-pound redfish. In your driveway.

  • You can recite from memory whole portions of your homeowner's insurance policy.

  • You consider a "vacation" to stunning Tupelo, Mississippi.

  • At cocktail parties, women are attracted to the guy with the biggest chainsaw.

  • You have had tuna fish more than 5 days in a row.

  • There is a roll of tar paper in your garage.

  • You can rattle off the names of three or more meteorologists who work at the Weather Channel.

  • Someone comes to your door to tell you they found your roof.

  • Ice is a valid topic of conversation.

  • Your "drive-thru" meal consists of MRE's and bottled water.

  • Relocating to South Dakota does not seem like such a crazy idea.

  • You spend more time on your roof then in your living room.

  • You've been laughed at over the phone by a roofer, fence builder or a tree worker.

  • A battery powered TV is considered a home entertainment center.

  • You don't worry about relatives wanting to visit during the summer.

  • Your child's first words, "hunker down" and you didn't go to UGA!

  • Having a tree in your living room does not necessarily mean it's Christmas.

  • Toilet Paper is elevated to coin of the realm at the shelters.

  • You know the difference between the "good side" of a storm and the "bad side."

  • Your kids start school in August and finish in July.

  • You go to work early and stay late just to enjoy the air conditioning.

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    Good news

    Here's some good news to leaven the last item: We signed papers for our new house. That is, we've found a builder we like and trust and has some lovely designs. He's really got his act together and, surprise of surprises, all the things I was suggesting to our former builder that he might do for enhancing otherwise crappy communications, this guy is already doing. Gee, who'd-a thunk o' that, eh? This builder is clearly running a varsity operation from what we've seen so far.

    So, we've signed the papers for a lovely 2500sqft number. Ground will be broken in February 2006 and the house will be ready in late summer. It'll be very pretty and the development is quite attractive. And it's on flat ground, so we won't have the BS of trying to explain to the builder why the driveway isn't anywhere near as gently sloping as he promised.

    Long day tomorrow. I'll tell you more about it soon.

    Also coming up: I need to post photos from our trip to Portland for Topaz & Larry's 25th wedding anniversary and the family vacation to Leavenworth for Oktoberfest last week.


    Friday, October 14, 2005

    Willow is sick :(

    Susan noticed a large growth on Willow yesterday: a 2-1/2" mass about 3/4" high on her upper right rib cage. It wasn't causing her pain when I touched it, but it sure said "sarcoma" to me. I took her to the vet, where, during the exam, we also discovered that some of the cartilage in her breastbone is gone. Much worse sign.

    They x-rayed. No good news: her right lung is almost completely opaque. She's dying and there's nothing I can do about it. The only good news is that she's not in any pain and she's as affectionate as ever. She's currently curled up and napping in my office (where Bo the leapybounder can't get at her).

    I'll be taking a lot of pictures of her to remember her with over the next few weeks. The vet isn't sure how long we've got, but it could be anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months. I'll be keeping a close eye on her in case she gets distressed. The vet said that kitties will go and go and go and look healthy and in good shape until they just can't, at which point they suddenly look like hammered shit and run away and hide or just fall over. Willow will probably keep her continuing low profile of curling up and napping for most of the rest of the time.

    But damn, I hate it when the kitties go away. :( :( :(


    Philadelphia, then home!

    We embarked on the final leg of our vacation in the morning. We bade goodbye to Nancy (with promises that we'd return here, too) and after a brief pause for photos, we headed off towards Boston again to drop off the car and catch our shuttle to Boston.

    Our trip took us through New Hampshire and down 89 towards Boston. It was a pleasant drive. It turned out that the Babe needed a larger size of knitting needle for the shawl she'd been working on, so we stopped at a store in Manchester, NH. Actually, we first stopped at a visitor's center on the freeway near Manchester and got wuuuuunderful service from the two people on duty there, who looked stores up in the phone book, drew maps, and gave us first-rate directions to a Michael's. We got there without any problem, the Babe got her needles, and we continued towards Boston.

    We dropped the car off without any problems, caught the shuttle to the airport, and checked in. We then needed a bit of lunch and a chance to sit down and so we ended up lunching at--ta-daaaah!--Yet Another Legal Seafood. Shucks, if it works, don't fix it. We had a lovely lunch without lobster this time and played some more honeymoon gin. (Note: Despite my strong desire to have some again after 15 years without, I never did order bluefish paté. Next time, next time....)

    We got to Philadelphia in short order and were met by Sarah, our favorite Ph.D. candidate (and the Babe's oldest daughter; I'm sure those two facts are somewhat connected) and Narda, who is Sarah's favorite Ph.D. We drove back to their house, a lovely old townhouse in a pretty part of Philadelphia. We ate dinner and then Sarah and Narda introduced us to a game that they were very fond of called Settlers of Catan (a great game series created by Klaus Teuber) which proved to be exciting and very addictive. We stayed up until the wee hours playing, then all went to bed and fell over.

    The next morning, we had breakfast and decided that we were going to go out to buy the one of the expansion sets for Settlers of Catan. This took us over to Collingswood, NJ to a game store that had the expansion sets. We purchased the Cities and Knights expansion set and then scampered back to Narda and Sarah's place to read the rules and play the game with the expansion. The expansion set proved to change the game dramatically, but it was still a lot of fun. We stopped playing Settlers of Catan for a while so that the Babe and I could teach Sarah and Narda a game that we'd just learned from one of the Babe's sisters called "99," a simple card game that allows for a lot of "screw-yer-neighbor" tactics. We got to bed at a more civilized hour this time because we had plans for the next day.

    We went to the Farmer's Market (that's not the name of it, but that's kinda what it was) in Philly. There are actually a zillion other things there including a bunch of really great food things, though. One of our first stops was a novelty store, where the Babe demonstrated one possibility for Halloween.

    We moseyed around for a few hours, smelling things and tasting things and looking at fun stuff. It was a riot of color and activity and delightful smells and sights.

    I actually didn't get a lot of photos of Narda and Sarah while we were there, but I snapped one shot of them at the market.

    After the market, we walked through a public swap meet nearby, then walked about half a mile towards our ultimate dinner location, a very good Caribbean/Cuban restaurant that Sarah and Narda had eaten at before and liked. It was beastly hot and humid, so we stopped at a café and had cold liquids and rested our feet and enjoyed the AC for a while. We went to dinner and we all ate way too much, then headed back to the house and (unsurprisingly) played still more Settlers of Catan.

    The next morning, the cats were being exceptionally silly, so I got a number of pictures of them. Narda and Sarah have two cats, actually: Rooster, who's a young obnoxious cat at the moment, and Mojo, who's older and bigger.

    Rooster was playing "zoomcat" and was romping around the bedroom and attacking the blankets, the air, and most anything that moved… or didn't, for that matter. The rug, for example, had been lying there minding its own business when Rooster figured it needed to be taught a lesson.

    Rooster squared off at one point with Mojo, who played along briefly but clearly doesn't think of Rooster as a real threat.

    The last time we'd been in Philadelphia to visit (a couple years before), we'd gone out to the town of New Hope, PA, a delightful arts colony full of shops and little places to explore. I'd bought another Stetson out there, the Babe had bought some lovely dresses and wraps, and we'd all had a lovely day. This time, we decided we'd try a couple of other places nearby, so, after a sumptuous breakfast at Narda and Sarah's favorite breakfast place, we hit the road for Doylestown, PA for an autumn festival.

    The center of the town (about 6 blocks by 3 blocks) is nothing but booths and activities. In addition to which, there were lots of established shops on the streets to look in. One of the activities for children was "scarecrow stuffing."

    As each scarecrow was finished, the contestants would line them up near the scarecrow-stuffing tent.

    It was a bit strange, really, seeing all these humanoid figures slumped against the wall, but there were moments of affection and romance as well.

    Despite everything going on, I actually didn't take many other pictures there, but I've always been a fan of good street theater.

    Twigby the Autumn Elf was working the crowd (and occasionally mugging for pictures). He obligingly posed for another shot.

    There was still a few hours of daylight left when we were done and we made one more stop: Peddler's Village in the nearby town of Lahaska. Peddler's Village is an area of maybe 1/2 square mile with close to 200 shops in it. I was looking for a leather shop to buy a new wallet (my old one has lasted about 23 years, but it's getting to be kinda manky). While we found a really nice leather shop, they didn't have anything quite as... slabby as the wallet I've got now. The wallets they had--which were a real bargain and quality items to boot!--were clearly not strong enough to stand up to more than a couple years of the normal abuse I put wallets through, so I passed.

    We went home, played still more Settlers of Catan, and then went to bed. Narda went off to work early the next morning. We spent the morning with just Sarah (yes, we squeezed in one more Settlers game), then we cabbed out to the airport. We got in to Boston on time, spent a little time hanging out at Logan Airport, then caught the flight to Seattle, then home to Eugene. It was a very long day of travel.

    It had been a wonderful vacation and a delightful way to celebrate our third anniversary. We were glad to be home and glad to be sleeping in our own bed again at last.