Open for the Holidays

It’s on at Chez Daisyfae this year…  Getting through Thanksgiving, hosting gatherings of friends, has gotten me in the mood to celebrate.

Got the tree up by myself last weekend.  Sometimes this can be a bit of an emotional quagmire, but this year?  i had a little more fun with it…He's behind me isn't he

Wait?  What’s that back there?  Over the fireplace?  Ermagehrrrrrrrrd!

om nom nom

Christmas.  My way.  Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray and the like can check their ribbons and potpourri at the door.

The first batch of almond biscotti is toasting away nicely in the oven.  The bar is stocked.  Various party staples are tucked into the fridge and pantry.

Happy Alcoholidays, folks!  Let the decadence begin!  Drop in parties for the entire month – but call first to make sure someone can stumble to the door!

Life is short.  Celebrate.  Stay out of the damn shopping malls and bigassbox stores and spend time with people.  Reconnect with an old friend.  Play cards.  Eat without guilt.

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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!

There is life after high school…

If it hadn’t been for Angie, i would have ignored the invitation.  A High School Marching Band reunion.  i played bass clarinet in the marching band for two years, before bailing out to drink and smoke weed focus on academics.

She was an enthusiastic clarinetist, a year behind me in school.  She was the reason i switched to bass clarinet.  As a second year student, i was “second chair, first clarinet” and Angie was “first chair, second clarinet”.   She wanted to move up, and i was in her way, so just about every week she would “challenge”.

i got tired of it, and asked to play bass.  i was a slug, but i wasn’t going to let her beat me!

i’ve gotten pretty attached to her through the eff-books.  An engaging woman, battling her lifelong problem with her weight, she has been one of the few positive voices in the cacophony that is facebook.  We’ve corresponded over a variety of things – from her challenges with her teenager, weight loss/gain, and medical issues.

She is a five-year survivor of ovarian cancer.  She was recently diagnosed with early stage MS.  She drove 500 miles to go to that damn reunion.  i wanted to give her a hug.

And i did…

We started collecting at the American Legion hall.  The reunion was for all years of marching band alumni, including the drill and flag team members, so there were about a hundred folks attending.

What?  No bar.  No beer.  Crap.  No flask, either.  Deep breath.  Realized it wasn’t the end of the world, but when dealing with ghosts of the horrid high school years, it’s a reasonable way to take the edge off.  Potato chips?  Close enough…

Angie wasn’t too far behind me – and i got to deliver that hug i’ve wanted to give her for the past few years.  It felt good.

The big surprise of the night?  The Band Director, retired after 30 + years, showed up.  Mr. P.  A wiry, hyper man. Yelled a lot.  Cute as hell, we all had terrible crushes on him.  Jazz musician, he’d won our hearts with his quirky sense of humor and crooked smile.

His greatest talent, however, was being able to bitch us out in a constant stream while pulling, packing, lighting and smoking a cigarette.  Throwing his clipboard to the turf, he’d stomp around, and give us holy hell for being losers…

These are, sadly, all things that teachers can’t do anymore.  A pity.

When Mr. P walked in with his wife, the place erupted in cheers!  Mrs. P, another band alumni, had been one of my pals from those years ago, and it was great to see her, too.  She was a couple of years behind me in school…

By the time i wandered over to say hello, Mrs. P’s eyes bugged out of her head as they moved from my face to my name tag, and back again.  “Daisyfae?  Really?”

They both dug around for words… but i saved them the trouble.

“Go ahead.  Say it.  i look better now than i did then.  Same weight as i was then, i just stopped giving a shit about it, and i own it… and i’m really happy.”

But given how i looked in high school?  It really doesn’t take much to look better….

Jackass 6: The Old Lady Edition

Alex:  So… Is it too early to start calling you “Dumbass”?

From my Admin guy, as he drove me to the emergency room Tuesday morning.

i rode the motorcycle to work – gorgeous day for it.  Took a carefully planned route, not a bit of trouble.  Felt great.  Went to park it in the motorcycle lot, and as i did a slow u-turn to park it?  Dropped it.  Managed to jump off in time.

Turns out?  it’s a heavyfuckingbike, and there was no way i was going to pick it up myself — doesn’t mean i didn’t try a couple of times.

Fortunately, help arrived soon — the organizational motorcycle safety rep pulled in and helped me get it righted.  He stayed with me for a few minutes. Because he knew i felt like a total dumbass, he proceeded to tell me of all the times he’s dropped bikes and said it’s part of the learning process.  i was just embarrassed, and furious at myself for the fuck up…

Collected my gear and got to my desk by 8:30.  Walked downstairs and grabbed coffee, cleared some e-mail, yakked with some folks.  Felt a little dizzy a couple of times.  Didn’t think anything of it.  Figured it was the adrenaline leaving my body.

Somewhere around 9:30, i noticed that my left sock felt sort of wet.  Went to the bathroom to check it out.  Boot was full of blood, and there was a rather disgusting, and large, gash on my left shin.  Bleeding.  A lot.  i didn’t look closely, but thought i might have seen bone.

A brief aside:  i am horribly squeamish.  “Pass out” squeamish.  Well-characterized “pass-out” squeamish.  The sight of my own blood?  Known to knock me down like a feather.

My initial reaction when seeing an open, gaping wound on my leg?  Put down the pant leg.  Go to the sink and wash out the boot.  Yes.  i will need to clean up the boot so i don’t make a mess on the floor at work.

i took off the boot, without lifting the leg of my jeans high enough to see the wound.  Sock?  Bright red.  When i lifted the boot to the sink to rinse it out, blood poured out.  Bits of skin sticking to the laces.

i decided that perhaps this wasn’t the best idea.  Put the boot back on, stuffed some paper towels over the gash.

Walked right past the elevator, and down a flight of stairs.  Went to find Alex, who is one of my closer friends at work, and the first guy i want at my back in a crisis.  He was with the division chief, helping her sort out an issue with her computer.

daisyfae:  Hey, Alex — when you’re done, i need a favor.

Div Chief:  Hey, why don’t you stick around?  I’ve got some things i want to discuss with you about the branch chief job.

daisyfae:  Ummm – i kinda need him to drive me to Urgent Care.  i have a cut that probably needs attention.

Div Chief:  GO!

Alex went to get his car, and said he’d meet me at the parking circle.  i walked back up stairs (yes, again past the elevator) to grab my wallet.  Settling into Alex’s car, i explained what had happened, and what i’d seen on my leg.

He requested that i just keep that pant leg down, as he’s just about as squeamish as i am.  And didn’t want blood on the floorboard of the caddilac.  He drove me to the emergency room at a local hospital instead of ‘doc in a box’ at an Urgent Care center.

He offered to wait, but knowing it would be awhile, i sent him back to the office.  Thirteen stitches.  Tetanus shot.  Antibiotics.  X-rays to make sure i didn’t hit bone (i didn’t).  Doc said “park that motorcycle for at least 2 weeks”.

daisyfae:  What about bike riding?  Elliptical?  Horseback riding?

Doc:  I had to pull that skin very tight to get it back in place.  If you rip these stitches out?  We’re talking skin grafts.

Oh.  Right…

Alex came back at lunch, took me for beer, called me a dumbass, and explained that he’d already worked a plan to get my bike home by truck… Even had a back up plan to have one of the other office bikers drive it home for me.

He put beer in me, made me laugh, dusted me off, patted me on the head, and brought me back to the office.  Where i made it through the afternoon.  A little battered, and stitched together – but mostly looking at a heap of my shattered confidence swept into a pile in the motorcycle parking lot.

What happened?  The left foot peg scraped my left shin as the bike fell.  Amazed that i felt nothing.  For an hour.  Other than a wet sock.  It didn’t hurt — must not have a lot of nerve endings in the ol’ shin.

Studley drove me home, but i was pissed off about leaving the bike.  So i had him drive me back that evening, and i rode it home, with him following in the chase vehicle.

i needed some mojo recovery. Didn’t want to have anyone else drive it home, and couldn’t leave it there through the weekend.   Was a little shaky, but i did it.

Studley stuck around as i washed out the boot. “Holy shit, that’s a lot of blood!  Amazing that you didn’t pass out!”

Lesson learned?  You’re not off the bike until you’re off the bike.  Get back in the parking lots and practice those “Figure 8” slow turns.  Over, and over, and over.

i’m fine.  Could have been a lot worse.  And i can’t wait to ride again.  Off to buy some leather chaps… and practice some “Figure 8’s”.

Snakes on the Trail

Had a wonderful evening with old/reconnected friends last weekend. My big crush* from 7th grade was in town visiting his twin sister, and she hosted a gathering…

We’re all in our late 40’s / early 50’s. Been there, done that, mostly…

As i was bashing cookies nibbling on crudités in the kitchen, i overheard a conversation between Twin Sister and SC, another 50-something woman.

SC: I’ve never been particularly outdoorsy, but really enjoyed going out backpacking this summer.  Never knew what it was like!  I even walked up on a rattlesnake during one of our hikes! What really got me was that I wasn’t terrified – I just sort of stood there and said “Well. Now what?”

TS: Honey, you’ve raised kids, right? What the hell could that rattlesnake do to you that teenagers didn’t? I’d be standing there saying “A rattle? Seriously? That’s all you got? Bring it, little fella! I’ve raised kids. You got nothin’, mother fucker!”

photo sourced here

* This is the lovely man who had a stroke in 2010.  We’d had a grand time visiting the summer before, when he took me to a weekend music festival, rather than skin me and turn me into a girl suit.  The latest adventure for him?  Heart attack, and bypass surgery just over a month ago.  He spent a week with his twin as part of his rehab, and is doing remarkably well!  Still some issues from the stroke, but his speech is improved post-heart attack. 

Not quitting my day job

Over the weekend, i attended a friend’s 50th birthday party.  It was an outdoor picnic, complete with roast pork products, many dozen friends and relatives, and perhaps a few coolers full of beer.  She’d asked me to bring my guitar, and be prepared to drop in with one of her other friends to provide some entertainment.

With my arm twisted so tightly behind my back, it took a full nanosecond for me to say “Sure!”, while simultaneously blowing the dust off my set books and digging my guitar case out from under the spare bed.

Dragging my friend Studley McRocklegs along as roadie for the day, we spent a pleasant afternoon celebrating.  When it was time to set up the amps/microphones, we ran the extension cords, and grabbed a few more beers.  i had a wonderful time jamming with her friends, encouraging crowd participation*, and throwin’ down like a wannabe rock star!

On the drive back, Studley couldn’t wait to tell me about a conversation that occurred while i was performing.

Charlie [grillmaster, full of Bud Light]:  Hey, you’re wife’s really good!  Do you think she could play at our pig roast in September?

Abby [Charlie’s patient wife]:  She’s not his wife! 

Studley:  She loves doing it!  I’m sure she’d be willing to play…

Charlie:  How much does she charge?

Studley:  Nothing, she just does it for fun!  If there’s a roasting pig, you probably can’t keep her away.

Charlie:  She’s good!  Seriously, how much does she charge?

Studley:  Seriously, she’ll do it for free! [grinning] And careful how you ask that, Charlie!

Charlie:  Oh, I ain’t sayin’ she’s a whore or anything…

*Always bring a cowbell.  i never leave home without it…

Double Corset in the Windy City

This has been too much fun… Taking advantage of the goofy decor in the hotel suite, we were able to do a double corset shot with the head of William Shakespeare in the background. 

This “self-portrait with 10-second timer” thing has proven to be a bit of a challenge, however… this one catches nursemyra doing a last minute rack adjustment…

We had better luck with the set photographed by the orange chaise lounge.  Red leather corset purchased in Chicago, and my powder blue lace rig found in an East Village thrift store.

nursemyra has posted her photos from the Chicago session here.  Love the one of her sitting across the lounge chair! 

We had a blast.  Our NYC tourguide, unbearable banishment, was an absolute delight!  Meeting Shrink Rap and alone…with cats?  Delicious!  We giggled our way through Manhattan, fueled by margaritas!

And our local host in Chicago was none other than rassles!  She is so much fun to hang out with, i’m just going to have to come back!  Suspect that we could find all kinds of trouble under the right circumstances…

Corset Friday – New York Edition

Bright lights, big city, and another chance to have a corset-themed slumber party with the lovely nursemyra!  Girls on holiday…  i can’t begin to tell you how much fun it is to do this with the mistress of Corset Friday!

Given the location for the photoshoot this morning, finding an appropriate backdrop proved to be a challenge.  Our borrowed flat is something of a Buddhist retreat – and assuring that no spiritual icons accidently appeared amongst the corsetry was important…

There are other properties in the apartment, however, that appear to have no direct spiritual connection.  Such as this lovely stuffed puffin.  We have no idea why he is there, amongst the Buddahs.  But he is adorable….

nursemyra also has her photos up here… We’ve had a rather entertaining morning, as these posts are both going up from the Mid-Manhattan branch of the New York Public Library!

Yes, we are silly old broads…  But we are having a blast!

Time traveling…

Twenty years ago when i walked across this campus, the strap of my backpack tossed over one shoulder, i easily deluded myself into thinking it possible to be mistaken for a student.  A graduate student, probably, but in my late twenties, i could still pass. 

This week?  Nope. 

Sporting my “Elder-Hooker” collection of travel clothing, i couldn’t even pass for a professor this year.  Just another invisible middle-aged woman, attending a conference on the grounds of a marvelous California campus.  A campus wedged neatly between the mountains and the ocean.

This meeting is held annually at the end of June, and has been at this site every third year for decades.  i’ve attended eight of these west coast conferences, going back to the early 1990’s.  The recurring venue – as well as the recurring content, and people – provided an unexpected pinning point, hiding inside a routine business trip. 

Although different from the Christmas pinning point, i was surprised to find myself stumbling backward in time.  When not attending sessions, or being goofy with my friends, i was awash in memories.  It was just a nice summer conference trip… The flashbacks caught me by surprise.

Time with old friends.  Making new ones.  Laughing about all the stupid stuff that happened before.  Who we are.  What we do.  How we live.  Catching up on lives lived hundreds of miles away.  From the mundane to the deeply personal, a chance to get the latest news…

“Hey, he’s fourteen already?  Great looking kid!” 

“I’ve got to do it…  I’m moving out next month.” 

“It’s a constant political battle for lab space and funding!  I’m looking for another gig…”

“Did you hear about Dr. Z?  Did six months in jail for that shit…” 

“Hey, RD dyed his hair!  Who wants to ask him if the carpet matches the drapes?”

Memories of insecurities and angst.  Hook-ups – near misses, line drives.  The occasional grand slam.  Unnerving flashback to a conversation on that bench.  “He died?  Really?  When? What happened?”

Hours spent playing billiards in the local Irish pub.  Pool parties.  Beach parties.  Private parties.  Conning the guys at the bar to get us guitars for an improvised jam session.  Scamming my way on stage with the hired band playing at the conference picnic… after swiping a cowboy hat in order to blend in…

The year i brought my children with me to the meeting.  The Boy, at thirteen, brought a friend.  Hitting the huge concrete park, they were in sk8rboy heaven!  The Girl, at fifteen, enjoyed wandering the small college town, roaming from thrift store to thrift store, while i attended sessions. 

Listening as a colleague commented on the smokin’ hot co-ed walking toward us at the conference reception, wearing a mini-skirt and go-go boots.  Enjoying his discomfort when i said “That’s my daughter.  She’s fifteen. Don’t you have daughters?”

Feeling old and young simultaneously.  Memories rolling by like a newsreel…

A pile of silicon dioxide.  We tell the tales, draw the lines, leave a few footprints.  It all sort of flows together…. 

And the tide rolls in…