Saturday, August 27, 2005

Andrew's visit

Oh man, I never blogged about my nephew Andrew's visit!

Andrew, surveying the block party, 2005

Andrew, my sister Dana's first son and the oldest of our four nephews, came up a few weeks ago to spend a week with us. We were amazed to discover that at the tender age of 15, he's cracked 6'4" in height. He's also astonishingly handsome, and (according to him) too cool for words. We'd have to agree. ;)

Andrew and I have always been close, partly because I lived close by when he was very young -- we all lived in Connecticut for a short period of his life, and got to be very close when he was a toddler -- and partly (I think) because I was so young when he was born that I could be the cool aunt in his life. I was all of 19 when he was born, a junior in college, still working out my own partying and maturity issues. I taught him to bang pan lids together, showed him funny pictures of his mother at various stages of pre-teen awkwardness, and answered whatever questions he wanted to ask me as honestly as I could. I continue these last two activities to this day. (He's long since outgrown the pan-lid stage.)

Andrew and Brett, camping on his 2004 visit to Seattle

I was nervous when he became a full fledged teenager that he'd suddenly not like us grownups anymore, but his yearly visits to Seattle have continued and last year and this year he's seemed to have a very good time with us. This year he was especially happy because our finished basement made the perfect bachelor pad - his own bedroom, bathroom, and television setup with surround sound and a playstation. Teenage heaven.

We took a few days off to go camping together, but for part of the time he was here we went to work during the day and came home to do things together at night. No problem - Andrew, like many teenagers, prefers to stay up until early morning and sleep until two p.m. Give him a little money, a key to the house, and a pizza delivery number and he's fine with us not showing up until five.

Andrew, with Mom and Dad

This is also the first year that Mom and Dad have been here too for his visit. We celebrated Dad's 76th birthday together during Andrew's stay with us, which was nice -- you can see Dad in the picture above wearing his new Red Sox cap, which was one of his presents -- had a few meals together, went out for pancakes as a family, and got what felt like the real luxury of a whole week with most of the family (short of Dana and Nick) together. This hasn't happened in a long time.

Brett and I also took him to a Mariners game, went to see Star Wars episode three at the Cinerama downtown, experimented with Chinese food (thumbs down from the teenager, even though last year he ate and liked Thai food), took part in a neighborhood watergun fight in which Andrew was thoroughly doused by a bevy of ten year old girls, and (of course) played some video games.

All in all it was an excellent visit. We're hoping to have Dana and both her boys up for Christmas, and continue the summer visits of Andrew (and hopefully Nick, soon) for as long as we can.

So what *is* going on?

I alluded to some recent changes in my last post, as prophesized by Marilyn.

Well, I've switched jobs. I try not to blog about work, but I don't think this one is crossing any no-no boundaries, so here's some info on what this means.

My boss, Lisa, came back from a trip to Hawaii two weeks ago to announce that she was leaving our group to take on a very different job in a distant part of the company. This was sad - she's been a good manager, stuck with a quite difficult and perplexing set of problems to solve.

I've been blessed with good bosses over the years -- in twelve-plus years in the software industry, I've only had three short stints with the greatly feared species Bossus Terriblus. The good has far outweighed the bad -- Liz, my third manager in Connecticut who took me under her wing and taught me everything I knew before I came out west; Ann, who was my mentor and manager for almost five straight years here in Redmond and is still a close friend; and Lisa, who I've worked for the last three years and learned much from.

You'll notice that all three of these excellent bosses who shaped my career are female, interestingly enough. I've only ever once worked for a man (who was fine, if unremarkable). I hear studies now and then about how women make better and more nurturing managers than men, and while I don't buy into such blatant generalities, my personal history could be used as a case study for it. Something for future thought.

Anyhow, I was asked to step up into Lisa's position, and decided after a few days of utter agonizing to go ahead and do so. I feel calm about the decision to do so, but changing jobs is stressful, and this one is a major leap for me. Usually, being possessed of a mind that rather naturally evaluates my next steps and lines me up to get prepared for it, I'm ready for something of this nature when it comes along. This, however, caught me by surprise.

Now I'm swamped with work, carrying thick stacks of paper home and actually having to attend to it (the carrying it home part is nothing new, but for the last year or so I've been steadfastly ignoring it every evening), reading reviews and slide decks over the weekends, and trying to get to know my new org and the 20 or so new people who are reporting to me, in addition to the 20 or so I already had. I'm also fending off some regretful feelings about leaving my current role -- boy, I've got a great team and have mixed feelings about turning what we've built over to someone else before I've achieved everything I wanted to there. I wish I'd had six more months there to finish up some stuff I care about finishing. That's always hard, letting go before you want to.

Nonetheless, change can be good. I'm sure after the transition lunacy, which I know enough to expect, subsides, I'll be just fine. In the meantime, I'll be patient, as I try to be at the start of all new jobs, and humble enough to hear what people need to tell me, and soak up information like a sponge.

And, sis-in-law, I'll keep blogging if you will. :)

Thursday, August 25, 2005


My sister-in-law said to me on the phone tonight: "I can always tell when stuff is going on with you because suddenly you start blogging only about gardening."

Not that anything is going on. :)

THIS is why I do this

The snack I'm eating right now, fresh from the front and back yards:

Ah yes, THIS is why I've been obsessively planting, watering, and caring for tomatoes since May.

The cherry tomatoes have been ripening for a while. But in the past week, all the larger ones that hadn't shown any color yet have started to ripen too. We had the first Dona yesterday, a variety I've been coveting for years. It lived up to its reputation. The Husky Reds are wonderful. Silver Fir continues to churn out big huge, heavy, sweet tomatoes despite the plant itself being only about fourteen inches tall. There are a couple of Carmellos and Fantastics in the back that are just a shade shy of being completely ready yet. I can't wait to taste them.

We've also got copious amounts of basil this year - enough that Brett said last night he'd make pesto this weekend.

I love harvest time.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Photographic proof

This is what Trooper did to Phoenix this weekend. If you look carefully, you can see two little teeth holes. Time to start documenting.

Unless, of course, all this time we've been blaming it on Trooper, and really they're doing battle with a vampire.

Phoenix the Vampire Slayer?
Max, the bane of blood-sucking fiends?

I somehow think not.

Neosporin to the rescue, this time, plus we still had a little antibiotics from Max's last run-in with the jerkface hoodlum cat next door. So I dosed Phoenix up as soon as I found the bite, fairly fresh I think, and have been rubbing medicated cream into it ever since. No sign of infection yet. Of all the cats, Phoenix has the best immune system, having shaken off two injuries now without getting sick, where all the others form abcesses if you so much as frown at them.

Nonetheless, I think it very likely that Trooper may meet with a sudden kidnapping soon. And how the heck did he get all the hair off this little patch when he bit it?


Friday, August 19, 2005

Togetherness, apartness

Brett is off camping on his own this weekend. I like to camp, but not as often as he does -- once a month is plenty for me, where I think Brett would really go every week if he could.

That's one of those differences we work around, along with hiking. Brett likes to take marathon hikes, ten to twelve miles in the blazing hot sun on ridges that make me almost cry with fear of heights, hikes which go on for hours and hours and hours at a time, the hotter the better. Me, I'm not made for heat. I like hiking, or at least like it well enough, but I could live without it. We go, but we go on compromise hikes -- six miles, partially through woods, and even then I'm guaranteed to get hot and cranky by the end of it.

My friend Sid, who tried to get me to go hiking without success for years, can attest to how much of a statement of dedication to my marriage it is that I've done as much hiking as I have for this man. I'm just not wilderness girl, really, at heart. I enjoy the tents and the stars and the cooking and OF COURSE the great big campfires, but I'd just as soon be at a really nice hotel at heart.

So this weekend when Brett decided he'd like to go solo, that was okay with me. We haven't spent a weeked apart in something like three years now. What an amazing fact that is! I love him and miss him, but a couple days on my own feels like a rare luxury - not something I'd want too often, but nice once in a while.

I came home and puttered around the house for a while, then watched six straight episodes of a TV show he hates that's been piling up on CD, and now I'm happily messing around with pictures on the computer. Tomorrow I'm taking my parents to breakfast and then amusing myself for a while, then going to my old boss's house for a barbecue. I realized tonight that I've never been alone for a night in the new house! How novel this is, and how strange that being alone could become so novel to someone who used to love it so much. Marriage changes everything.

It's okay though - before I could get lonely, I looked down to find Trooper sitting by my feet, under my desk. He just came to see if I was okay.

And a note to my father-in-law: Art, Brett will not be eaten by a bear because I let him go into the woods alone. He's not really alone - he's in a campground with at least forty other people all in shouting distance. He's calling me tomorrow after his hike, and I know what trail he's on. I promise he'll be fine.


Today I found out that the neighbor that we think the least of, the one who has the loud parties and doesn't take care of his cat and generally drives everyone crazy -- that guy, he dropped everything in the middle of the day when my parents were struggling to edge a new filing cabinet they'd purchased up the driveway to carry it into the house for them.

The people around here, even the less-than-perfect ones, are still good people.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Sleep talking incident #205

Last night, in the midst of a deep sleep, I rolled over and whispered urgently to Brett.

Me: (stage whisper right in his ear) I need to tell you something.
Brett: Wha huh?? (sits up)
Me: I may be paranoid here, but just act like you're taking one of the
popsicles but don't really eat it. I think they may have put something in it.
Don't tell anyone.
Brett: Uh... okay.
Me: I just wanted to tell you that. (settle down on his pillow and go to sleep, preventing him from laying back down)

I have no explanation.

My husband is a saint.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Rose junkies

Realized recently that I don't have any red roses - they're all pink, mostly, with a few yellows thrown in. So, knowing I must rectify this, I headed off to my favorite site and ordered:

Velvet Fragrance, red tea rose for across the street:

Dublin Bay, red climber, to curl up the front corner of our house next year:


My Spartacus dahlia, after emerging from the ground a full month later than everything else around it and surviving a severe slug attack, is finally unfurling this one dark-red bloom that is quite honestly the size of my head.

I didn't take this picture, but here's what it looks like - courtesy of Turtle Island Plants:

I'm amazed by how close it's getting to be to the end of the gardening season already. Many of the "all summer bloomers" are fading away, leaving odd holes and mishapen bits in the beds. It's time to think about mums and asters and other fall blooms, time to put in the fall lettuce starts and broccoli if you're having it, time to start planning on mulching on a thick layer of compost and leaving it to rot in over the winter, time to start scanning through the profusion of tulip bulb catalogs that have suddenly appeared on the doorstep.

I like this time of year -- there's something very satisfying about putting a garden to bed -- but it sure disappeared quickly this year, this growing time.

Next year, I'm going to try not to move and otherwise majorly change my life in May and June so the season seems to go by a little slower.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Funny job posting

I compulsively read job postings about once a week, just to see what's out there. I scan both the internal job postings at the Big Huge Place At Which I Work, and I read through what's out there on Craig's List in my field. A girl needs to be informed about these things, you know?

This week, I was quite amused by this job description, on a site I will not name:

• Juggling: You will be responsible for large numbers of projects all at once. You’ll need to keep them all straight and on schedule, and keep your teams motivated and informed.

• Vigilance: Think of a turbo version of detail-oriented. Things move fast. Mistakes can’t happen. Not a typo, not a misplaced pixel. Your work must be flawless. Always.

• Hyper-self-motivated: You’ll often have ten deadlines approaching, and no one will be pressuring you to get them done. But you’ll get them done and then ask for more. You’ll probably get a sick sense of accomplishment from it too.

• Passionate: As a , you’ll likely have other creative interests like gaming or reality television or sports. This is a job you’ll need to love (see ‘a typical day’ section).

• Speedy: You may be a ‘thinker’ but you’re also a ‘doer.’ When things move fast, you’ll not only be expected to keep up, you’ll be expected to stay one step ahead. Maybe two.

Maybe I'm just getting old, but the idea of having the job described in these bullets is enough to make me want to hide under a rock. No mistakes, not ever? Always one step ahead? A turbo-version of detail-oriented? Taking a sick sense of accomplishment in always having ten things due at the same time?

And what's with suggesting that the perfect candidate will be deeply interesting in reality television?

Um, no thanks. This is definitely a job targeted at twenty-two year olds who a) don't know any better and b) are not yet exhausted by many years of working in the corporate world and are willing to eat, sleep, and breathe their jobs for the next five to ten years before ending up as tired as everyone else already is.

And now...

And now I'm not posting much because my home computer has bitten the proverbial dust, taking all of my internet connectivity, image processing software, and photo backlog with it.

We're trying to restore the system after a bad virus attack basically killed it - hopefully back online over the weekend and I can post all about Andrew's recent visit.

More soon.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Weekend update

My nephew, Andrew, is up from Texas - he got here Friday night (actually Saturday morning) at 1 a.m., and after a quick pancake breakfast with Mom and Dad, we headed out of town for the weekend to do a little camping out at Winthrop. We had a great time - Andrew's not really the outdoorsy type, but he seems to enjoy getting a taste of a totally different kind of life up here. He and I bond over a shared love of building big huge campfires and throwing pinecones and dry pine boughs in them to watch them light up.

One of the coolest things on this particular trip was that we were there during the dark of the moon. Lone Fir, where we camp, is usually home to some great star-watching, having no light pollution of any kind, but on this trip we were amazed at what we could see. Andrew and I ended up dragging our camp chairs down the campground a ways to where there were fewer trees and laying around watching what must have been the early forerunners of the Perseid meteor shower - dozens of little tiny ones I don't think we'd have seen if the moon was out, and the occasional great big huge meteor with a huge, sweeping tail.

We also hiked - five miles in 100 degree heat, which was a bit too much for me. Brett and I bemoaned the fact that we work out at least four hours a week and yet our nephew who spends all of his time playing video games indoors left us in the dust. We consoled ourselves at the beginning by telling each other that he was going so fast that there was no way he'd be able to keep it up and we'd just see who was beating who when we got to mile four! But at mile four he was still sprinting up ahead of us, occasionally waiting up when we got completely out of sight or when he ran into a fork in the trail. Oh, to be fifteen again and immune to the ravages of time and nature.

Tonight when we came back, we had a little party for my Dad's birthday - he turned 76 today. I haven't been around for one of my parent's birthdays since college, I don't think. It's nice to be more fully a part of their lives with them here! We gave him a Red Sox hat and a Mariner's sweatshirt, cooked out, and had cake. All really nice! This neighbor thing is working out really well!

And finally, to conclude a couple of prior posts:

  • Trooper is fine. His owners did talk to a vet about his leg and he's all healed up now.
  • I'm fine too. Just some kind of minor head cold last week combined with the end of a long project at work, not depressed, doing well now. Sorry to whine.

And that's it for today!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Happy August!

Haven't blogged much this week because I've been weary, nigh unto death. Dunno why. Both my workouts this week just seemed to take every ounce of strength out of my body for days afterwards, to the point where I could hardly climb the stairs days later. Finally, on Wednesday afternoon, after looking at my calendar about 500 times in a row trying to figure out if I could afford a sick day anywhere in the rest of the week, I decided to call it a loss and go home. And now I've been lagging around at home.

Energy: zip.
Real go-to-a-doctor-kind-of-symptoms: zero.

But I'm definitely not feeling right.

Just trying to listen to my body, for once, which is clearly telling me that I need a break, like NOW.

Today I slept in, worked at home for half a day, and then drove over to work to attend a meeting in my boss's place. (She's in Hawaii.) Interesting stuff, but nothing I can blog about. Came right home for some more lolling around in a daze.

Tonight, we discovered that Trooper, mortal enemy of our cats, is himself injured and looking ultra-pathetic, with his owners nowhere in evidence. We found him in our kitchen hobbling around on three legs, the fourth leg clutched tight against his chest in that oh-so-heartwrenching way hurt animals have of protecting their limbs. We were nice to him, kept him in with us for a while, left his owners a note. Eventually we let him out and hoped that his owners would show up to take care of him. No such luck. At 10 p.m. we found him sitting on our patio table, all wobbly and still clutching one leg to his chest, even when sitting up.

And now we're in a bind.

Do WE take him to the vet? I'd rather not. But he's hurt, and his owners are dolts. Nothing is broken, and he can get around, but he's clearly in pain.

I guess we'll just keep an eye on him and see if he's getting worse tomorrow.


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