Girl Meets World

The first one?  Got it when i was a 30-year-old kitten.  The passport photo shows a young woman with long brown hair, wearing an 80’s power suit with linebacker shoulder pads.

Stamped with my first overseas trip to Paris.  A business trip.  Alone.  Nervous, but excited.  Practicing my school-girl French on the kids, the dog and the empty seats of my car in preparation for my first international trip.  The City of Lights.  This little country bumpkin met up with some Brits with dancing shoes, and we closed that town the fuck down on our second night at the conference.

By the time that one expired, i was a seasoned international traveler, with five more trips under my belt.  Took my parents and my children with me to Germany on two different trips, knocked around Hong Kong and Bangkok with my sister, T, and dragged my spawn to visit London, Cornwall and Devon.

The photo on the next passport was taken close to my 40th birthday, and is my current active ticket to adventure.  Now THIS baby has seen some action!

Trips to Spain, Germany, and London in the first few pages.  Iceland.  Greece with my darling blogmates!  Peru and Ecuador.  The Galapagos, for fuckssake!  Visas to visit Vietnam and Cambodia!  The start of my diving adventures in Mexico, Honduras, Bonaire, and The Bahamas. Delicious trip with my children in Turkey last year.

ALMOST, but not quite, full… just a couple of pages in the passport book that are naked.

Renewal is tricky.  With a kid living halfway around the world, and a serious travel addiction, i need to keep a hot passport.  Find a window where i am not traveling, too.  Trouble is that it should be renewed about 9 months before it expires, and i probably should have done this immediately after my last trip in September.

But i waited…

Given that the next passport will last until i’m 60, it needs a decent picture.  So i was waiting until i had a good hair day.  i had such a day about a month ago, but i had also sprouted a grape-sized subcutaneous zit alongside my nose that would make me look like a mutant, so that good hair day got away from me.

Visited my hairdresser last night, and it always looks better with a fresh coat of paint.  Today was the day…  Good hair.  No zits.

This one will take me into retirement.  Once the shackles of the daily grind come off, it is my intention to burn a fucking HOLE in this thing!  And away we go!

At 30, 40 and 50.  There i am… Pinned in official State Department time…

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Dog Gone

Mom’s visit to Miami went very well.  My sister, T, and her partner, TK, fussed over her, fed her*, entertained her, and spoiled her for a week.  i went to meet TK and Mom at the airport on Friday, and was expecting to find Mom tired.

TK wheeled Mom up the jetway. When they emerged through the door, Mom was all smiles.  TK was huffing and puffing a little bit, due to the weight of the loaded wheelchair, and the steep incline of the jetway.

We shared hugs and tales of adventure.  i started wheeling Mom to baggage claim.  TK headed to her departure gate for her trip home.

It required a bit of dexterity to roll the checked suitcase, and Mom, out the door and into the parking garage, but i managed.  On the ride back to The Trailer Park, i learned more about the week.

daisyfae:  What did you think of the house?

Mom:  It’s just beautiful!  Easy to get around in, too.  T helped me into the shower, and even helped me wash up my feet.

daisyfae [shuddering at the thought of helping her naked, 84-year-old mother bathe]:  Great!  Did Thanksgiving go well?

Mom:  Oh, they were bickering a lot on Wednesday, but it was a nice meal.  Sorry I had to leave today, though.  I was looking forward to some of those leftovers.  T made us sandwiches for the plane, so I did get more of that ham.

And on it went…  Tales of an escaped cat, a manatee (and baby) near the dock, and feeding turkey bones to the fish.  She enjoyed the visit, appreciated all they did for her, and even said she wouldn’t mind doing it again!

daisyfae:  Well, i’m sure you’re looking forward to getting back home.

Mom:  No.  Not really.

We pulled in the driveway, and i helped Mom out of my car.  She made her way to the door, as i wrangled luggage and the wheelchair from the trunk.  Getting my arms untangled from the folded wheelchair, i was distracted by a commotion on the porch.

One of the three hounds had escaped, and my niece, DQ, her daughter, DQ, Jr. and the 5-year-old, DQ, III, were racing out the door.  Mom dodged them all, and dropped onto the lounge chair on the front porch.  Chaos!

One of their other dogs is a 3-year-old Sharpei.  This dog has had allergies, skin problems, and stinks like swampass most of the time, but she’s a sweet critter.  She’s been getting out of their backyard fence and running the neighborhood.  She joined in the festivities, and went bounding down the street after the other escapee.

i suggested DQ hop in my car, and that we try the old “Road Trip” doggie retrieval method.  We cruised to an adjacent neighborhood, where the dogs had disappeared a few moments earlier.  Gave us a chance to chat.

DQ:  I’m glad she had a good week with T.  I REALLY enjoyed the week off.

daisyfae:  Well, Mom wants to try it again.  We’ll make it happen in March or April if Mom’s up to it.

In the meantime, the dogs had disappeared.  We returned to the homestead, and found the dogs racing up a neighbors driveway.  DQ jumped out of the car, and chased the sprinting animals.  They bounded away, and she turned around – taking a vaudeville-style tumble on the way back.

Nothing broken, but some scrapes on hands and knees. She returned to the house and i continued to chase the dogs.  Using leftover cookie shrapnel from the floor of my car, i was eventually able to get the wayward animal back home.  The smelly Sharpei followed along… i gave her a bit of a cookie, too.

It was a madhouse when i opened the door.  DQ pissed off at the dogs, and wiping her scraped knees with a towel, DQ, III howling in sympathy, offering band aids.  Mom trying to sit, without tripping over the dogs.  Television blasting at “eleven”.

DQ  [referring to the Sharpei] :  I swear, I’m going to have to put that damn dog down!  She’s losing her hair again, smells awful and she just won’t stay inside the fence.  I don’t care if she gets out!  Tired of chasing her!  Maybe if she gets hit, she’ll at least be going on her own terms, you know?

Figuring that the best thing to do at this point was disappear, i hugged Mom, said my goodbyes.  i’ve suggested finding an animal rescue organization before.  There was too much noise to bring it up again.

As i drove away, had to wonder if DQ’s approach to animal care makes Mom a little nervous…

* When she visits me, i give her fresh fruit and a bagel for breakfast.  They were dishing up cooked-to-order omelettes, served by the pool on the lanai.  Show offs…

Operation “WhiteBird”

The plan was hatched last month.  My sister, T, and her partner, TK, finished renovations on their beautiful home in Florida.  They wanted to find a way for Mom to visit, but Mom would not fly alone.

TK is a frequent flier, and needed to rack up a few more segments to maintain her “AssKiss Preferred” traveler status.  She offered to fly up in the morning, pick up Mom, and fly back with her the same day, giving Mom a week in sunny south florida.

My job?  Picking up Mom and delivering her to the airport.  Knowing that i would need a ‘gate access pass’ to get her through security in a wheelchair, i enlisted Studley to help with transport.

Yesterday was the big day!  We had agreed to stay in touch by text, doing group messaging to keep all members of the team on track.  By 7:00 am, T had gotten the ball rolling… With T, her partner TK, and her sister KK in the loop, we made it happen!  Game on!

Follow along and see if you can figure out what was happening.  This went on for about 16 hours!

~~~~~~~

T:  Plan in execution.  TK is Giraffe, KK is Zebra, T is Lion, Mom is
WhiteBird.  Daisyfae is?

T:  Giraffe is at gate.

TK: Giraffe is on plane and ready to take off toward Motherland.

daisyfae: daisyfae is Moose.  Moose is scratching her ass, playing “Angry Birds” and having coffee.

T:  Lion snagged pumpkin pie ice cream for breakfast.

KK:  Zebra just finished morning gallop.  What time is Giraffe’s return flight?

daisyfae:  Giraffe and WhiteBird return 9:40pm.  Moose and Squirrel
(Studley) will update on launch from Motherland.

T:  10-4

TK:  Giraffe has landed in Motherland.  Beautiful day!

T:  Giraffe went to watering hole. Sign says “Dry til 1:00pm”.  Shitty
luck.

TK:  When will Moose arrive with WhiteBird?

daisyfae: Moose and Squirrel inbound to pick up WhiteBird.  Will send
smoke signal on next leg of safari.*

TK:  Roger.  Out.

daisyfae:  Moose and Squirrel have WhiteBird in hand.  Repeat.
WhiteBird inbound! Smoke signal on arrival at aviary to arrange Giraffe
connection.*

daisyfae: At curb.  Squirrel out for recon.

TK:  Giraffe is with Moose, Squirrel and WhiteBird!  Headed to feed.

daisyfae:  Found oasis near aviary.  Negotiating terms of hostage
transport over wings and beer.

TK:  Cleared Checkpoint Charley with WhiteBird and Moose.  Waiting at
gate.

T:  Lion guarding tropical bird nest.

daisyfae:  Moose taking WhiteBird to litter box after Giraffe returns
from provisioning at aviary snack shop.  Squirrel waits in parking lot,
protecting “Angry Birds” from green pigs.

T:  yee-HAW!

daisyfae:  Moose and Squirrel northbound.  Giraffe and WhiteBird
preparing to board magic carpet to Lion.*

TK:  WhiteBird and Giraffe on magic carpet waiting for the rest of the
animals to settle.  Moose and Squirrel did a great job handing over the
goods.

KK:  YOU GUYS ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY!

T:  Stand by, Zebra.  WhiteBird is about to fly.

TK:  Magic carpet engines ON!  WhiteBird and Giraffe are buckled in
and headed to tropical nest.

T:  Left gate early.  ETA now 9:30pm

KK:  Flight tracker ETA 9:10.  Tailwind.

daisyfae:  Moose and Squirrel back at Northern Command Post.

T:  Zebra with Lion at tropical nest.  Awaiting arrival signal.

TK:  Carpet ride is over.  En route to meet Zebra and Lion after
collecting gear.

KK:  Zebra in motion.

T:  Giraffe – report location

TK:  Still at gate.

T:  Zebra and Lion waiting safely in Ant Hill.  Ready to deploy.

TK:  Have goods.  To curb for retrieval.

KK:  Zebra is moving.

daisyfae:  Moose has vodka tonic.

T:  We have WhiteBird.  Repeat: WhiteBird reunited with Lion!

daisyfae:  Mission Accomplished!

* While i was driving, Studley served as communication officer.  Messages marked with an “*” are all his…

Dig it!

It started with a wedding in Boston.  One of my former junior enginerds was getting married, and he invited a few of the old crew to share the celebration.  Rather than just go for the day, i invited Studley along and we decided to make a long weekend of it.

It was one of those amazing weekends spent with a diverse collection of friends.  i’ve done it before, and wrote about it here.

We hit the ground Friday morning.  Managed to meet up with the lovely Amber for drinks on Friday night, after visiting dead relatives in Methuen. The wedding was in Salem, and we threw it down hard.  From there?  The plan was to drive to New Hamster Hampshire, and spend a couple of days with one of our SCUBA buddies, Chris.

i’ve written about scuba people before.  More about divers in this post.  They are a unique set of creatures, and some of my favorite folks on earth are divers.  We planned to just hang out, have some beer, and maybe do a little hiking.

As he showed us his house on Sunday afternoon, he unveiled his collection of scale-model excavation equipment.  He is a collector, as he works in the industry.  When both Studley and i sprouted virtual boners at the sight of all those diggers, he asked the innocent question “Would you guys like to go to work with me and play in the big sandbox?”

Took just about five minutes for us to change clothes, fly out the door, and park ourselves in his car like to puppies headed for the bark park!

THIS was the view when we arrived.

…and the steel angels sang “Hallelujah”

With some basic instructions, and a little training, he turned us loose.  An excavator.  Day-glo orange, diesel-powered lust on tank treads!  Joy of joys!  That bucket will hold 18,000 pounds of dirt, gravel, or zombies.

Studley and i played.  We dug holes.  We moved dirt with bulldozers.  We giggled, and smiled.  Chris coached and cheered.  We were giddy!  He spends a lot more time in an office than he does in the sandbox, and welcomed the opportunity to share his favorite form of therapy.

We hooted, hollered, and snorted!  Smiled until our faces hurt!  As much fun as it was to dig a hole?  For me, it was FAR more therapeutic to put the dirt back in…  A form of Obsessive Compulsive Pattern Disorder (OCPD).  The same thing that makes me bus my own table in a restaurant, stacking plates just so.  i needed to put the dirt back where i found it.

First attempt?  Both Chris AND Studley abused me for being a wimp.

With just the slightest bit of encouragement?  i started to knock it the fuck down!  Oh, yeah!  Who needs a therapist?!?

Glory be!  i am the luckiest!

Four Years After…

It’s November.  How’d that happen?  Everyone seems to be getting their NaBloWriMo groove on, or are working through the reasons they’re thankful.

i’m sitting in a chair, wondering what i could possibly have done last night to make my feet hurt this badly, scratching my bits, and considering options that could possibly make this day at least fractionally productive.

Decided to look back at my posts from four years ago.  November, 2008.

Some scores and highlights:

– Returning from my trip to South America, i sumarized my equatorial experiments.  Putting the myth of the toilet swirl to rest.

– The Girl was studying in Beirut, and The Boy was studying about an hour away.  She’s still living abroad, and he’s learning all sorts of things working through the post-hurricane mess on the east coast.

– A lovely Halloween opportunity to embarass one of my children!

– Having recently moved into my new home, i was still attempting to decorate.  At that point, i didn’t have furniture in the living room.  But i’d already purchased my whole-house integrated audio/video system, and a billiards table.

But then i found the post below.  Four years after, it’s still just as relevant.  We remain a polarized, divided and angry nation.  Fear-mongering is now an acceptable leadership tool. As we make our way through the final days of a gruelling and stinky presidential election cycle, we’re pretty much in the same situation as we were then.

Regardless of the outcome on Tuesday?  We’re screwed….

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Grieving on Election Eve

No matter what happens tomorrow, i’ll be sad…

We will remain horrifically divided as a nation.  There will be cries of election fraud regardless of the outcome.  There will be outbursts of intolerance – potentially from either side of the argument.

What brought me down?  Two separate conversations over the past week tell me that i need to get working on my “Find Me a Husband” profile on a Canadian dating website.

The first?  In the office.  After a strategic planning meeting with the working troops, a few of us were doing the post-meeting analysis.  One mentioned that he was encouraged to learn that a mutual friend – an outspoken lifelong democrat – had “seen the light” and plans to vote for McCain.  i expressed surprise, as this individual had been so far left of center in his positions, he made me feel downright uptight in my own.  But he was apparently appalled by the “scam” that is Mr. Obama.

colleague A:  well, you know, they’ll riot no matter what happens.

daisyfae:  Huh?  Who?

colleague B:  you know, they riot no matter what’s going on…

daisyfae:  Seriously, who “they”?

colleague B: Remember Rodney King?  C’mon… you know there’ll be trouble no matter who gets elected!

i was stunned.  But rather than express an opinion, i did the best i could – and played dumb.  Keeping with the “who are the ‘they’ you guys are talking about?” to see if they would eventually say it…

colleague A:  They riot when their sports teams win or lose, so a presidential election with this much at stake is bound to get them in the streets!

daisyfae: What? Ohio State football fans? Not tracking here, guys…

and so it went…  and by the end of the conversation, i was just very sad.

And then there was this little bit from Mom over the weekend.  Mom has made her choice, is disturbed by the direction the country has taken under 8 years of Republican leadership, and voted for Mr. Obama.  She shared that my sister, S, is worried about the outcome of the election.  S works in downtown Cincinnati, at a large law firm.

Mom:  S is thinking about taking the day off Tuesday in case there’s trouble.

daisyfae:  What?  What sort of trouble?

Mom:  She said she’s seen so many foreign people downtown for the past few weeks.  They’re taking pictures of the buildings.  Wearing backpacks.  All the people she works with are worried that there will be bombings or riots.

daisyfae:  You’re shitting me, right?  She’s serious?

Mom:  It’s not just her, but it’s everybody she works with… there was talk of letting everyone work from home because people are so nervous.

What do i grieve for?  The loss of critical thinking skills, rational thought and intelligent debate…  We’re fucked, people… And i’m off to learn the words to the Canadian National Anthem.