Harder to Kill: Quarter 3-ish

Hey… S’up?

It’s a little awkward coming back out here after being gone for so long – and leaving you with such a sad ol’ cliffhanger. The grief over the loss of my canine life partner continues, but i was back at work the following Monday and have been soldiering on… Granted, i couldn’t speak of it – even to my closest friends – for about a week, and it took a full month before i stopped sobbing at any fleeting reminder of his death and disappearance from my daily life.

That third quarter update on my annual goals was due at the end of October, but i had thrown myself into a variety of extra-curricular activities by then – including an unplanned excursion back on stage for the first time in seven years. With tech week, and the show opening in late October, i simply couldn’t carve out the time for a coherent update.

So here’s the short version of my two annual objectives of simultaneously becoming Harder to Kill while Preparing to Die: i am somewhat harder to kill, and no better prepared to die. This will also serve as the end of year wrap up. Mostly because even I’M bored with this!

i work out a lot. i eat poorly and drink too much – although primarily on weekends, this tends to blur through the holidays. Therefore, i’m still fat, but i am pushing more weights when i lift. With the frenetic activity that began with a two week holiday in September, i have done exactly dick when it comes to getting organized, clearing files, and doing further elimination of the material albatrosses (albatrii?) that will make me an unpleasant dead parent to my children.

Where am i? Momentary respite.

A business trip out west provided an opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with my son and his family. i decided somewhere along the way that the things i’ve been doing for the holidays would be parked this year – not feeling any inclination to decorate, or bake, or throw the two giant holiday parties i usually throw. Actively working to only tackle the things which bring joy, and with all of the balls in the air, all that other stuff would add more stress than joy this year.

Studley is about 8 time zones away on a business trip, and i’ve got an entire weekend to myself – hence the opportunity to poke my head back into the blogosphere and say “Hey”. Deliberately didn’t schedule anything – going somewhat off grid. Wanted to retreat and give myself time to fucking think. A luxury when one tends to deal with stress by increasing kinetic energy.

Valuable thing to do, it turns out. i’m sorting out all sorts of demons and dynamics. With the New Year waving at me from around the corner, i’ve realized that 2017 is going to be year of transitions – large and small. Navigating transitions is an important life skill. Sometimes we’re thrown into them, flapping and flailing and doing everything we can to get a toehold on the other side – nothing graceful about it. Sometimes we see them coming, and have some time to prepare ourselves to leave something behind as we start something new – an opportunity to better plan our navigation from one side to the other.


So consider this a warning. i’m back. i have a lot to work through with some major transitions ahead. In the meantime, i’ll be poking my head out and about, trying to catch up with my old blogmates. Wishing you and yours a most joyous holiday season!

How do you know it’s love?

It’s cold here.  Unusual Arctic stream alignment has brought freakish cold to places that aren’t used to freakish cold.  With a side of high winds to make it more festive!

How cold is it?

Ambient temp is -10°F (-23 C).  It will be about -20° F (-29 C) tomorrow.  There is a good 30 knot wind to assure that any exposed skin feels even colder.  Wind chill is estimated to be – 45° F (- 43 C).

To put it in context?  Here are some points of reference.

Great Wall, Antarctica………………….33° F (0 C)
Mt. Olympus, Mars (estimated)………21° F (- 6 C)
Avery Ice Shelf, Antarctica……………14° F (-10 C)
Ajan, Russia (Siberia)…………………..2° F (-16 C)
Curiosity Rover, Mars (estimated)….-19° F (-28 C)

It’s warmer in Antarctica and Mars.

But i’m fortunate.  My office closed due to extreme conditions, and my home is warm and well-insulated.  i have plenty to eat, internet for connectivity, enough booze to keep the Russian Navy afloat and no shortage of projects to do around the homestead.  i can hibernate in luxury!

Oh, wait.  My dog is not toilet, or litter box, trained.  He must go out.  As an old man, he has a fairly regular schedule for his digestive processes, requiring two walks per day (along with some short mercy breaks for his ancient bladder).

Being a skier wannabe, i have perfectly suitable gear for going out in this stuff, but i was worried about the pup.  In less-freakish cold, he has had some issues with the pads of his paws on the ice.  i was afraid he’d stick to frozen ground!

Pawz to the rescue!  i found some lovely, inexpensive and stylish kicks for my dog!  Other than the dog wrasslin’ required to get them on his feet, they fit well and don’t seem to bother him once in place.

Mr. P in his purple kicks

A bit tentative at first, he still managed to do his thing…

Mr P sproinging

Smilin’ and stylin’ before long…

Mr P Snow

i used to say “How much do i love my dog?  i pick up his turds twice a day!  If that’s not love?  i don’t know what is!”

Now? i can further qualify that statement.  “i pick up his turds in Martian-cold temperatures twice a day”.

And i’m delighted that i still get to do it…

The Weight

It’s easy to trace elements of my constitution to parental influences.  From my Father?  Intellectual curiosity, empathy for the less fortunate,  love of music and the arts, and complete comfort among people from diverse backgrounds.

From my Mother?  Cold, dispassionate strength*.  The kind of strength that would allow me to bury a body…  Umm… if ever needed.   She is fierce, in her way.  Good Appalachian-American breeding stock.

Unfortunately, i also inherited one of her more crippling afflictions.  She is a hoarder.  Excavating her house prior to renovations took three months.  i have to fight it, or fear that i will become buried in my ‘stuff’.

It’s not bad.  Yet.  But i catch myself saying “Hey, i might need this someday…” as i find a stash of wood scraps in the garage.  That old coffee pot?  “It might come in handy if…” Rubber bands that i’ll never need.  Twist ties.  Plastic storage bags.

i fight it.  i recycle aggressively, and throw things out regularly.  It’s there, though.  Percolating beneath the surface.  It isn’t obvious to others, since i’m fortunate to have a LOT of space.  Plenty of storage space lets me squirrel it away.

January is when i have traditionally launched my “winter project”.  Last year?  Organizing the office, and building the Murphy Bed.  This year?  i want to finish my theater room/exercise room/bar downstairs.  To do this?  Excavations are required…


It is hard for me to let go of a cardboard box.  You never know when you’re going to need a box, right?  i like a wide selection on hand.  As i started to dig, i was surprised at the number of empty boxes i had stashed in the storage room.  Round one?  Break ’em down and send ’em to the recycler!  Boom!

Reluctant at first, now i’m in a “GIVE IT ALL AWAY” state of mind!  The local thrift shops will be delighted to get the Jeep load of appliances, clothing and odd housewares!  Bed, book case, shelving unit?  See ya!

The “stuff” now feels like it weighs me down.  Makes me less mobile.  Pins me to the floor.  i am making progress…

Not only at home, but at work.  Last week, i started a new assignment.  New building.  New office.  This required a move.  After 31 years working for the same employer, i’ve got “stuff”.  i thought i was pretty brutal when i packed it all up – filling two large boxes with papers and documents for the industrial shredderator.  Many trips to the dumpster, too.

This week?  Unpacking and setting up the new digs.  Is there anything more promising than a clean, empty desk?  Vows to “get organized” sproinging around in my head.  Such promise!

And the purging continued…

Not too hasty, mind you.  This little pic?  A gag crafted by my colleagues.  Appeared on my office door.  While getting hammered at a conference team building during a business trip, i’d mentioned that i find intelligent men attractive.  i was challenged – “What about the smartest man on earth – Stephen Hawking?”  to which i replied “i’d have his love child”.

He wants me...

And this.  i have an obsession with post-it notes.  As the boxes were unpacked this morning, i threw post-its in a heap.  All shapes, sizes and colors.  These?  i’m keeping…

i can quit anytime i want to

Memories.  i discovered a map of Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, along with photos taken from my hotel room balcony.  My first trip to Europe in ’92.  i can keep these a few more years…

We'll always have Paris

At the end of the day?  Boxes.  So very tempting to break them down, and stick them behind the desk.  Prepare for the next move.  Always be prepared to move.

boxing day

Perhaps the best aid for rapid deployment?  Travel light.  The boxes went to the recycle bin.  Weight reduction.  Lean up for the new year!  i’m getting better at this…


* It occurs to me that i haven’t told her full story here.  Future blog homework.

i’ll just sit here. quietly. in the dark….

There are extensive written rules regarding airline travel.  Certainly in the US, we are given gigabytes of information on the ‘do’s and don’t’s regarding our behavior in and around airplanes.

That shit is easy.

Don’t carry liquids through security.  Ticket and photo ID at check in.  Take your shoes off for no rational reason whatsoever.  Allow yourself to be visually raped at the TSA checkpoint.  Don’t joke about “bombs”, even if you’re just talking about the most recent any Jennifer Aniston film.

It’s the unwritten rules that are constantly violated.  They’re not written down – but these are common sense, polite behaviors.  Things that fall into the “do unto others…” genre.

Oh, let’s take a hypothetical example.  Early morning “O-dark-thirty” flights.  Commuter jet, with perhaps twenty sleep-deprived humans aboard.  If the flight is leaving at 6 am?  NO ONE climbing on board this flight slept past 4 am.

Passengers sleep on these flights.  Flight attendants are careful with the announcements.  With the beverage cart.  With the lights.

Someone apparently forgot to inform Mr. Yappy McDickweed about this before my flight this morning.

He was seated behind me, across the aisle.  An older gent, in business attire.  His cute, young female co-worker in the seat next to him.

This oxygen thief did not stop talking for two solid hours.  Pre-departure, i was willing to cut him some slack.  It was when he jacked up his personal volume to compensate for the engine noise that i realized that he was an endurance mouth-alete…

After we cleared 10,000 feet, i snagged two napkins from the beverage cart.  Leaning into the aisle, i made a production number out of rolling them into tight plugs and then stuffing them in my ears.  A few disdainful glances over my shoulder for good measure.

i  managed to get in about 30 minutes of sleep, interrupted by his snorts as he laughed at his own jokes.  His companion was of no  help. Equally oblivious.

On arrival at the gate, he was still going – full bore.  Standing up as the ‘seat belt’ light went off, i turned around to face him – and caught a half a dozen other passengers glaring at him as well.

Making full  use of my training as a thespian, i pulled the improvised ear plugs from my ears – with a deep sigh and exaggerated eye roll.  My passive aggression fell on a deaf and blind man, however.

He never missed a beat as he regaled his young seat-mate with tales of past corporate glory.

The moral of this story:  Passive-aggressive behavior is ineffective.  i should have hauled off and punched him.

image found here. and if you enjoy passive aggressive refrigerator notes, check out this site.  But the mother lode of passive aggressive notes is right here.

Danger Monkey Has Landed

Last May, The Girl (aka “Danger Monkey”*) packed up for 6 weeks in London to get her certification to teach English as Foreign Language.  With the local support of her “Shoulda Daddy“**, she successfully completed the course, and then set about planning her next adventure…

Most schools start in September, and she was operating under the assumption that she’d have plenty of time to seek employment, interview and plan for a big move out of the country. 

When she got the offer to teach in Izmir, Turkey, however, it came with the requested start date of July.  That gave her about a week to think about it, then two weeks to plan, pack and buy the damn one-way ticket.

Which she did…

So while i’m off farting around in the big city, my kid is unpacking three over-stuffed suitcases in a gorgeous city on the Mediterranean.  And launching her life in another direction… 

Could i have done this at 25?  Maybe… but i was busy changing her nappies, watching her take her first steps, and being sleep deprived as a new mother.  She was a seasoned traveler by the time she was 18, and has independently traveled the world since.

No worries. 

Very proud of her…. and may have to pack up The Boy and see about making a family road trip over the winter holidays.  Stay tuned.  And check your local listings for episodes of  “Locked Up Abroad” in January…

photo found here


* She earned the name “Danger Monkey” after sailing around the world at 20 with “Semester at Sea” – where she managed to get booted out of a Turkish brothel in a fight, and visited the pyramids on camel back, after being adopted by a Bedouin family in Egypt.  And then there was her solo trip to Morocco when she was 21… And that semester in Beirut the following year…

** Not to be confused with “Sugar Daddy”, Bob is the father she was supposed to have… they really should be genetically connected.  i like to pretend that they are… although i know that biologically, it is impossible for conception to be delayed for 6 years or so.  right?


Trailer Park: Catching up

It’s my thought avoidance mechanism habit to stay pretty busy.  Lately, with a stream of business trips, home improvement projects, summer holiday planning – oh, and a lot of drinkin’ and whorin’ entertainment – it’s been even worse than usual.  i’ve been delinquent in a couple of updates regarding my trailer park people…
Hurricane T:  My sister, T, and her partner, TK, have come through the meltdown.  T has found stability, accepted the “new normal”, and is looking forward to finishing the renovation of their new home – despite the necessary move into a small condo until it’s completed. 
Moving day was particularly stressful, and i was pricing tickets in case TK needed on-scene support – TK hadn’t asked directly, and i hadn’t offered. Just being prepared.  i finally realized it’s not my game.  If they are to have a long and happy life together, they need to learn how to do this.  In the end?  Their relationship is about as strong as any i’ve ever known.  Made stronger by this experience, no doubt.
The turning point for my sister?  T continued to rage about TK screwing her over, about TK caring more about the boat and the new house than anything else.  Ranting that she’d been forced to sell her beloved home against her will, claiming “homeless” status.  While laying all this on her therapist, the therapist simply asked “If your home was on fire, and TK was on fire, which would you put out first?” 
Apparently this was answered with silence – the first silence T had managed for weeks.  And it was pretty much over.  Just like that.
The Trailer Park:  While inhaling fine California wines during a business trip out west a couple of weeks ago, i got a text from my niece, DQ.  “Next month marks the 2 year anniversary of Granny being in my living room.  I wanted to let you know that today I moved DQ, III out of her bedroom, and I’m moving Granny into her own room.  BJ is still making progress next door, but I just needed to make some changes until we’re ready to move”.
i about fell off my stool.
Since Mom moved in, i’ve been aggravated that the 3-year-old and 15-year-old each had their own bedrooms, while Mom stayed on display like a crotchety zoo animal in the middle of the living room. 
Every time i’d ask Mom if she wanted me to bring it up?  She’d say “I don’t want any trouble.  Besides, the only motivation they have to finish the work on my house is that I’m in their living room.  If they pack me off to a back bedroom, they can just forget about me and let me rot…”
My mother.  Pure genius.  She has been orchestrating a Trailer Park Mexican Standoff.  Who am i to intervene?
The first time i talked to Mom after the move, i asked how she liked it.  “It’s cold.”  i suggested that perhaps blankets would help, and asked if she enjoyed having a little privacy.  “Well, I can at least hear the TV…”
So it goes…

 brilliant pic found here

Warning: 12 year-old boys at work

It started here.   And as is always the case, plumbed the depths of molten-core stupidity within a few minutes.  i love these crazy bastards…
cramnitram:  Bad news.  How long can you survive on beer alone?  Long enough to get scurvy!

daisyfae:  Drinking only Blue Moon, with substantial slices of orange, could certainly delay scurvy.  More experimentation.  We need science, damn it!
ninjaneer:  But then Blue Moon ups the prevalence of the trots and subsequent dehydration……question is, does this constitute a reasonable trade-off?
RN:  Not to mention if your drinking Blue Moon then you have a high probability of being gay, giving you a statistically higher chance of dying from AIDS. Beer alone is ‘iffy’, but Busch and Ring Dings probably has all you need. 
ninjaneer:  I would have to concur with this assessment.  I, myself, stick with Bourbons and the occasional Tennessee Sour Mash.  Beer drinkers have always struck me as slightly effeminate, and frankly, unable to carry on serious barroom discourse through their constant preening, primping and giggling. 
daisyfae:  RN, your use of the words “busch” and “ring dings”, amidst your obvious homophobia, are a bit much.  Tone it down, please.  I’m trying to work here…
ninjaneer: A sure sign of Living in Lifestyle Denial if I ever saw it.  Classic Textbook……
RJak:  I have to agree with RN.  Blue Moon is the VW Jetta of beers.  It is socially acceptable for women but for guys it leads one to ask “Is he …?”  And if a guy drinks a Blue Moon with orange slices – question answered. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
RN: It gets even worse, did you know Ring Dings are a product rip off of Ding Dongs?  
ninjaneer:  ….and how does this all relate to Dong Rings
cramnitram:  Dong rings are just a bigger version, except in your case, ninjaneer.
RN:  It relates via the mysterious yogis in the Kentucky mountains who live on nothing but bourbon, the movie was “Lord of the Dongs”
TC: ….as the ninjaneer always used to say……’Dong Rings before Ding Dongs….never sicker…..Ding Dongs before Dong Rings…..’  uh….I can’t remember the rest. 
RN:  Ding Dongs were made by Hostess I think and Ring Dings was something I can’t remember.  Same crappy cylindrical black cake with crème in the middle
ninjaneer:  I’m not a big fan of Dong Rings…..but when she insists – think radiator hose clamp…..
RN:  …and “Ding Dongs” changed name to “King Dons” for a while, then back to “Ding Dongs”.  I know all that, and you say I am not a MAN?

daisyfae:  “Ring Dings” (by Drakes) were the original chocolate sponge-cake hockey puck, and they sued Hostess for infringement when “Ding Dongs” were introduced.  The “King Dons” name was a negotiated solution.  Hostess, however, bought Drakes in 1998, returning the name to “Ding Dongs”.  I have finally proven that the internet is good for something other than porn.

ninjaneer:  I’d like a minute for rebuttal…..
daisyfae:  yeah, but you’ll have to explain to the guys in bio-environmental health what all that stuff is on your monitor.
TC:  you mean that dribble on the floor?
RN:  “Don King’s Dong Ring”
ninjaneer:  ten times, really fast!

Roadtrip Follies – Spring Edition

Speaking of travel disruptions…

i’m curled up in a corner of the Philadelphia International airport. Sitting on hard tile, near an outlet. Backpack serving as backrest.  Tummy has had a couple pints and a snack.  The place is just lousy with people…. People in a hurry.

i will be here awhile.

Left the office mid-day yesterday for an easy trip to the east coast.  Kick off meeting for a new project, i was to be “meat in a seat” – the Management-Like-Object who sends the “Yes, we care enough to send the high level salaried folks” message to our new partners. 

i was in a good mood at the airport, encountering no lines, and had plenty of time before my flight for a change.  Directed to go into the plexiglass “millimeter wave imaging” scanner, i decided to sing “The Stripper Song” and do a little ‘bump and grind’ for the agents about to visualize my lumpy middle-aged bits in a far off room…

The gentleman from the TSA who welcomed me outside the door smiled – saying “We don’t get many folks enjoying the process this much!”

daisyfae [cheerfully]:  It was “the stripper song”… it reduces my stress levels if i’m doing this as performance art, as opposed to being visually raped by strangers!

TSA Man:  Oh, that’s what that was.  Didn’t recognize the song!

daisyfae:  Maybe if i worked on making better trumpet sounds, that would help…

TSA Man:  That opens up too many obvious jokes!  I’ll leave it there!

Refreshing, for some strange reason. 

Had a nice quiet night, ditching my travel mates for dinner, and opting to knock back a couple pints at the hotel bar.  Spent the evening in my jammies, reading a book.  Civilized departure time of 0830 allowed me to even sleep a little later than usual.

Meetings were fine.  Enjoyable, even.  i learned new things.  We even laughed a bit.

It was on the drive back to the airport that we got the “flight cancelled” message via text – and from the backseat i started working travel options from the phone and blackberry-accessible internet. 

We found an alternate airport.  Flight will get us home after midnight.  If it goes.  Had to adjust rental cars a couple of times – as we’ll need a place that stays open late. 

We have another five hours to kill in the airport.

Went for a pint.  Talked with a pleasant couple hoping to get home tonight to the Carolinas… Patient, and delightfully surprised by the extensive beer offerings at the little hole-in-the-wall airport bar.  We chatted while listening to another woman bitch endlessly into her cell phone about the horrors of a travel delay*.

i sit here, with free connectivity to an internet.  i really have no idea how the internet works, yet it allows me to read the newspapers from around the globe – including my hometown.   Allows me to send messages to my family/friends regarding my travel disruption.  Allows me to check the hours of the rental car facility to make sure the lights will be on if when i get there tonight.

As i read about the loss of life in Japan… the continuing uncertainty regarding the status of the nuclear reactors… the stories of those who have lost their homes… i stop feeling the hard tile under my ass.

As i read about the now international civil war in Libya?  i stop worrying about getting off an airplane at midnight and having to drive for an hour to get my car, and then drive another half hour to get home.

As i watch a young couple playing with their four year old son – who is in a wheel chair?  i remember that i need to call my 22 year-old and see how he’s doing.

Bring on the thunderstorms.  i got nothin’…


* Weather.  Entire east coast/midwest.  Not a fuck of a lot the airlines can do with hail, lightning, snow and big winds, folks…

Rock and Roll – Now With Ovaries!

One of the things ‘on my list’ is to find a band.  Not a serious band that is all “let’s practice until we’re good and make recordings and travel” and shit… But a band that wants to just play – with a few gigs here and there to force a teeny tiny bit of discipline into the enterprise.

Last fall, my organization was rumored to be getting a new Director.  This is the guy in charge of some thousand research and engineering dorks, so it’s a fairly high level position.  Word on the streets was that it would be WB – a known good manager, and studio quality guitarist. 

i’ve known of WB for years, and he’d heard of me – musicians tend to talk a lot of shit amongst themselves, so if someone plays, word gets out.  But we’d never had a chance to connect musically.

When we had the organizational Christmas party (i think it was last December…), it took all of a nanosecond for a colleague to convince me to join the ‘Lab Rat” band that was providing background music.  They were doing just fine, but didn’t have a vocalist, and were mostly playing Christmas music.

Dropped in, did some rock and roll with them, and dropped out.  Why?  i considered it my ‘audition’ for WB.  As could be expected, word got back to WB before he even occupied the front office.  He was on the lookout for me… His band plays out at a local bar for a happy hour gig on the first Friday of every month, so i was easily convinced to drop by after work last night to hear them play.

Sitting at a table near the stage by myself, i was instantaneously blown away by two facts:

1)  They were really good.  Probably “Out of my league” good.

2) They already have a woman in the band – vocalist playing keyboards.

Anyone who knows anything about bands knows the Laws of Band Dynamics. 

The First Law of Band Dynamics:  If you introduce a female member to an existing band of males, you will lose one of the original members within six months.

The Second Law of Band Dynamics:  If you introduce a second female member to an existing band that has incorporated a female member, you will completely destroy any chance of the band staying together.

My hopes of finally finding the right band were dashed, so i just sat back and enjoyed the gig.  Good stuff, but fantasies of fronting this particular band disintegrated. 

Joining me later in the evening were two other work colleagues – one of whom insisted on introducing me to WB after they were done.  He’s good, and personable, and i’m still finding it hard to believe he’s going to be “Large and In Charge” of the organization… 

We discussed music tastes, and my general disdain for ‘chick songs’, and he strongly suggested i drop in for a future practice.  Reminding him of the “Laws” – which he fully acknowledged as gospel – he still insisted that i drop in, and that the laws could be managed… 

So let the month of February begin, with the prospect of finally finding the right band of brothers, and a sister, to get my music-jones satiated…

Oh, and by the way?  The best way to overcome the Laws of Band Dynamics?  All chick band.  And if it’s an All Chick, Japanese Rockabillly trio?  Even better!

Hell Week Happy Ending

It’s been a gnarly week in the office. Returning Monday morning after five days of business travel, i was instantaneously inundated with three “on-fire” projects, and was on the hook to prepare a presentation for my trip next week.  All day, i was hopping as though there were electrodes under my arse, delivering rapid-fire e-mails and delegating project bits to minions team members.

My level of productivity – without panic* – was such that by mid-afternoon my Division Tech Director poked his head in my office to say “Damn, woman, you’re earning your salary today!”

daisyfae: So long as i only have to do it once a week or so? i’ll stick around…

Finishing up the presentation yesterday, it was shipped upward for “information” – to my Director. Given that it’s to a fairly high-level corporate audience, and given that he lives in mortal fear of “looking bad”, he asked me to visit him this afternoon and go over the presentation**. 

i sent an e-mail to let the entire tech team know that i’d be doing the informal flip-through with the big cheese. Immediate reply from my DivChief.

DivChief: I have complete faith in you!

daisyfae: I won’t wear my slippers. Or flash him.

DivChief: He’ll be disappointed.

daisyfae: Yeah. They’re pretty cool slippers…

They are Rocket J. Squirrel Slippers. And i can't find a pic...

* This is entirely due to my complete inability to give a shit. i keep trying. It isn’t happening.

** At 3:00pm on a FRIDAY?!?!? Totally cutting into my “i’m going to leave early because the sun is out” plan…