Category Archives: Other People

Scotland Adventure, Part The Second

Each day after breakfast, there would be a most amazing spread of sandwich materials in the Picnic Room. If we were going out for the day, we’d stop in there and pack up a lunch then head out. The second day, the weather was absolutely nuts, so instead of going out to hunt or fish, most of us decided to go visit a crofter and see how the Harris Tweed is manufactured.

This golden eagle presides over the Picnic Room, along with his friend the stag and more than a few racks of antlers. Another feature of the Picnic Room was the drying closet. This was essentially three or four racks that slid out of the wall and you’d put your wet gear there after coming in from stalking or fishing. Genius, and oh-so-necessary, because the wind and the rain were fairly constant and immense at times.

Golden
Golden Eagle in the Picnic Room

Picnicroom
Stag and antlers in the picnic room

If you know anything about certain segments of fashionable clothing, you are aware of the Harris Tweed. It has been called “The Champagne of Fabrics” and is the only fabric in the world governed by its own Act of Parliament. Dan Brown name-checks it in The Da Vinci Code (and his other books featuring Robert Langdon) as the jacket of choice for his main character. Jasper Fforde (one of my favorite authors) even has a character named Harris Tweed who appears in the Thursday Next series. If you haven’t read them, you really should.

The tweed is hand-woven by individual artisans, and traditionally uses colors and dyes sourced from the island. It’s gorgeous, surprisingly soft, versatile, and incredibly durable. The Wikipedia entry is fairly detailed and mentions one Mr. Donald John Mackay, pictured below.

DJMtweed
Donald John Mackay at the loom

Donald John welcomed 8 or so of us into his tiny (roughly 8 feet by 12 feet) crofter’s hut and we all braved amazingly strong wind and rain to get there (Innes drove us) and huddle around his loom. He showed us the threads and explained his process, then wove a few inches to show us how it’s done. It was utterly fascinating to a fiber nerd such as myself and I honestly could have sat and watched him all day long. He said it takes about a full day to set up the loom (something like 696 individually hand-tied knots) and then about a week to weave 90 meters or so. The amount of skill and care that goes into his work is really astounding.

Tweed2
A one-man company.

The other half of the crofter’s hut was a combination shop/storeroom (again, maybe 8 by 12 feet), and since this is about as close to ‘buying locally’ as I am ever likely to get when it comes to cloth, of course we all bought some. I mean, I literally bought this cloth from the hands that made it. Apparently, it’s 4 meters for a man’s jacket and 3 meters for trousers. Almost all the boys bought enough for a jacket, and in a weird (but not at all surprising) twist, they all bought the same pattern. Thus the Tweed Army was born. When everyone gets around to having their jackets made, we’re going to have a dinner and take hilarious pictures.

Tweed3
Rolls of finished Harris Tweed on the shelves

Tweed4
More Tweed!

I bought 3 meters of a captivating purple tweed, but I am not yet 100% sure what I’m going to do with it. I may have a skirt made, or I might do a shawl/wrap with 2 meters and I had an inspiration for the remaining meter, but I am loath to actually cut into the fabric myself. It would make me sad if I messed it up. We shall see what I end up doing with it.

RDZtweed
Donald John measuring my tweed. Measure twice, cut once!

cutting
Cutting my tweed. Those shears were like two swords.

Once the tweed is woven, it is picked up by the Harris Tweed Authority for finishing and inspection to ensure it meets standards. Not just any tweed gets to be Harris Tweed, you see. If the roll meets specifications and standards, it is stamped with the Orb, which is one of the most recognized trademarks in fashion. British designer Vivienne Westwood’s brand logo is very similar to the Orb, which makes sense because she is a big fan of the Harris Tweed.

ORB
The Orb stamp on a finished roll of Harris Tweed.

Even Nike got in on the act at one point. They released a series of throwback sneakers made with Harris Tweed woven by none other than Donald John Mackay. A quick Google search tells me that various Harris Tweed Nikes are going for at least $80 on Ebay, if you want some.

HarrisNike

Once everyone was satisfied with the miles of tweed they’d purchased, we left Donald John to his loom and headed back toward the castle. We’d decided earlier to have lunch at “The Hut” which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a hut alongside a road that leads to three different lochs for fishing and more than a few different areas for stalking. I believe the hut predates the castle itself, and it’s nothing more than a rough stone building with a roof on it. There’s a small stove inside and a table with benches but as far as comfort goes, that’s about it.

viewfromroad
Another view from the road. It looks like this every way you turn your head.

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The Hut

InTheHut
Inside the hut

The road, if it can rightly be called that, was a one-lane, bumpy affair. In fact, the big van we’d been riding around it couldn’t handle the terrain so we had to switch to the vehicles that could handle it, namely a Mazda something-or-other and a Range Rover. We bumped and squelched our way along the road for a good ten minutes before coming in sight of the hut. Later, we looked at a map of the estate and the road goes on a fair way farther, each mile bumpier and squelchier than the last.

roadfromhut
The road

You know this is my kind of trip when “packing a lunch” includes at least four bottles of wine. Mr. Hall appeared later on, carrying what looked like a fat briefcase but opened up to reveal two bottles of whisky and four glasses inside. That man is pretty much a walking party, it seems.

necessary
Necessary!

It’s evident that this is very much a man’s sort of estate, because restroom facilities were non-existent out there. I think so, anyway. I didn’t get a chance to ask anyone who might know.

HutHill
The hut backs up to another “hill.”

After lunch, we all piled back in the vans and went back to the castle. Mr. Hall then gave us a most amazing tour of the castle, including lots of historical details and tidbits. It was built in 1865 for the 7th Earl of Dunmore, who owned the island at the time. The estate has kept records of the hunting and fishing done there, and some of the older Game Books were on display for us to look at. They kept records of who went out in the hunting party, who the ghillie was, what they hunted and what they managed to kill, along with notes such as “David’s first time stalking” or “Elizabeth’s first stag.” One of my favorite notes was from a day when they’d killed 6 stags and a number of birds – the note simply says “Shot at anything that moved.”

GameBook
Game Book

The estate used to house a great number of dogs used in stalking the deer. This is one of the photos in the albums kept by Lady Sophie Scott, who was a resident of the castle around the turn of the 20th century. She was an avid sportswoman and photographer, and her albums give us a very intimate look into her life and loves.

dogs
A very large array of hunting dogs

This is my favorite of all the photos in Lady Sophie’s albums, and I don’t think it’s even from Amhuinnsuidhe. I just thought it was cute, with the caption “Chat!” That is precisely how I would have captioned it.

Chat
“Chat!”

This is a display case in the Snooker Room (yes, we spent a great deal of time in there). The plaque inside reads “Weapons Taken From A Warrior In The Sudan” but unfortunately it’s not dated.

swords
Swords

This one is also from The Sudan, but specifically says that these articles were taken from a “dervish.”

dervish
Weapons and regalia taken from a dervish.

The castle understandably requires a great deal of provisions to keep itself going. The nearest town is at least a half-hour away by car NOW, so imagine 150 years ago. The Order Book was a listing of all the things that were ordered by the castle, and gives a really interesting look at the things they needed through the years. The years between 1914 and 1918 are missing, presumably because Great Britain was enmeshed in World War I and needed all her men at the front, not rushing off to their country estates to shoot stag.

orderbook
Order Book

This is an okay shot of the Drawing Room. Every day around 4, tea would be served. People would wander in from their various pursuits to have tea and chat. It was one of the few times each day that anyone really contacted the outside world. Some of the men were working here and there throughout the day, but teatime was really the only time someone would pull up Yahoo News or similar on the iPad and see what was going on, check baseball scores, etc. It’s a cozy room with comfy furniture, and I spent quite a few happy hours in there just reading and being quiet, which is something I never ever get to do at home. The light was fantastic and it had amazing views of the sea.

drawingroom
The Drawing Room

Again with the snooker. I am sorely tempted to jettison my dining room set and put in a pool table, but Freddie is against this plan. It was mostly the men who were playing, because I am actually terrible at it. I made a couple of really spectacular shots, though. One of them was even the shot I meant to make in the first place. Mostly, I watched and heckled and chatted with whomever else wasn’t playing. I wish these photos were bigger because there is nothing I love more in this life than hanging out with good-looking, well-dressed men, and I got to do that EVERY NIGHT. Alas, WordPress gives me “medium” and “freaking humungous” as photo sizes. Oh well.

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Mark, Steve, Freddie

snooker2
Freddie and Frankie

snooker3
Reed and Freddie

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Filed under Freddie, Friends, Me Me Me, Musing, Other People, Real Estate

Scotland Adventure, Part The First

Overnight flights are not my favorite. Ideally, you’d get a little nap in, then sleep a bit on the plane and be more or less good to go whenever and wherever you land. I’d spent the day running around doing last-minute things and packing up so a nap was not in my plans. Plus, I was seriously excited and ready to get going – I wouldn’t have been able to nap even if I had gotten the opportunity. We [finally] left the house around 4:30 to drive to Newark where we were going to park the truck and ride to the airport with Reed and Steve, two of our travelling companions who work for the company responsible for this adventure in the first place. I knew they were my kind of guys when our first order of business after checking in at the airport was to find a bar.

Rachel
At the airport!

We found a bar. And then we found another bar after discovering that our flight was delayed. In time, we boarded our plane and it was [mercifully] half-empty which meant we didn’t have to share our row with the weird man who was originally seated next to me. I’m not sure what his deal was, but he was one of those dudes whom you see in line to board the plane and you think to yourself “gosh, I hope he’s not sitting next to me.” Well, he was. But he was able to move to a different row so I got a window seat after all. Turns out, a window seat on an overnight trans-Atlantic flight is pretty useless. Who knew?

Sunrise
Sunrise, taken from the plane

We first landed in Edinburgh. During a three-hour layover, we gathered more people and I discovered that I was not the only woman in the party, hurrah! Not that it would have been a problem, exactly (I have never had trouble being just one of the guys), but it was nice to have another lady along. I fear I was not the most cheerful at this point, since I wasn’t able to sleep on the plane (I tried) and I was just really hanging on by a thread. The coffee we’d acquired at the beginning of the layover was having the wrong/opposite effect. Luckily, I was able to catch a quick nap on the short flight to Stornoway.

Airport2
Stornoway!

Some of the signs on the island were in English and Gaelic, but most of them were only Gaelic. It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Great Britain and her people, and my dearest wish (aside from just picking up and moving there) is to have a pet Englishman to hang out with me and talk at me all the time. My hearing difficulties do make it difficult to understand people, but once I tune into the music of the accent, it’s easier. The Scots accent was a little tougher to handle, and if we got two or more of them talking to one another, I was a goner.

Airport3
Rather, Steornabhaigh

After we collected our baggage, we were introduced to Innes, who is the estate manager (or equivalent) who was going to be driving us from the airport to the castle. He does approximately 34098 other things around the estate as well.

The drive was twisty and turny and the majority of the road was one lane or less. I was able to get a very good look at the countryside and was surprised to see that there were very few trees. Lots of granite sticking out, but nary a tree in sight. There were a couple of areas with some scrubby pine trees and some things that looked like they might have wanted to be trees but were exhausted from the effort and decided to just be bushes instead.

From the car
The view from the road

We arrived. Words don’t really do justice to the fact that we were staying IN A FREAKING CASTLE. An actual CASTLE. The ridiculousness of this situation as it pertains to me cannot be overstated.

Arrival
Amhuinnsuidhe Castle

A path around the seawall led out to a rocky outcropping that had a splendid view of the castle, which would make a lovely weekend retreat if getting there wasn’t such an adventure.

Castle
Our weekend retreat

The castle has 12 bedrooms, and we only saw a few but apparently each one is more amazing than the next. Our room was The Scarp, which featured a four-poster bed in the bedroom and a huge bathroom outfitted in marble, featuring a gigantic clawfoot tub. The bedding was completely insane, with the hugest, fluffiest down comforter I have ever seen. A person could lay underneath this thing and you wouldn’t even know it because it was that fluffy.

bedroom
Our bedroom for the week

The number of things adorning the walls of this place is more or less incalculable. These spears were along the grand staircase, and became the center of many “hey, I’m looking for a weapon” jokes over the course of the week.

hallway
If you need a spear, I have some right here.

The day we arrived was really the clearest day we had, and this is one of the best photos I managed to get of the castle. Although the castle is quite large, there is a coziness to it that I didn’t expect. Obviously, the Hall family has amazing taste and the money to pull it off, but there was never a sense of it being just “for show.” They live there, it’s their home (well, one of them), and it didn’t have a hotel-ish feel to it at all.

castlewalk
Another angle

It was pretty windy out there on the rocks (though, compared to later on, that was just a pleasant breeze) but our friend Steve bravely took this shot of us.

onrocks
Braving the wind to get the shot!

They call it “the hill” but it is definitely a mountain.

fromrocks
The castle with “the hill” behind it.

In the UK, they drive on the left side of the road, not the right. While we were in the van being driven to the castle, it wasn’t so strange to me (especially as I was in the very back of the van and busy looking out the window), but once we got in the car with Steve, it was like whoa. My brain was having trouble making sense of it, but luckily for us, Steve is from Manchester originally and is used to it. He was a good sport about doing all the driving while we were exploring.

Rightside
He’s on the wrong side!

Honestly, if Freddie or I would have been in charge of driving at all, I would have been worried. Not only do you have to remember to be on the correct side of the road, but it’s one lane anyway (passing places!) and 90% of the time there are sheep or cows on the roadway, straight chillin’. There are way more sheep than people on the island, so we had to nudge them out of the way from time to time.

Sheep
Sheep, wandering into the road whenever they like.

Whoever had the job of making the Passing Place signs was kept very busy for a time, because there are A LOT of them on the island. Every few meters, the road would balloon out in a half-moon, allowing cars to pass each other. There was a lot of waving and nodding going on, but on the whole, we didn’t see that many cars.

PassPlace
Passing Place!

A good thing, too – the road was very narrow, barely wide enough for the VW Passat we were riding in. Later in the week, we had a VERY close encounter with a full-size 18-wheeler, which put us all in hysterics, but for the most part, driving on the Isle of Harris is an exercise in politeness.

road
The slightly-less-than-one-lane-road.

The beach was amazing. Completely unexpected, and beyond gorgeous. In New Jersey, we are more or less resigned to grey water and coarse sand, so this was just a surprise. The sand was bright white and very fine, and the water was a blue that I was not expecting, not at all. It was very windy down by the water (which probably explains the sand), and the rock pools were gorgeous and the whole thing was just very stark and beautiful. I’d been thinking about what it would take to live in such a remote place, but once I saw the beach, I totally understood. I could have stood there for hours, had I not been worried about freezing to death and/or having all the skin on my face sandblasted off.

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Huishinish Crofts

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The beach. It literally looks like it’s at the end of the world.

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The beach again. Surprisingly blue water.

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More beach!

We didn’t swim. A plan was hatched at one point to do it, but it was mostly a joke. I think. Given better weather and enough of the estate’s whisky, who knows what kind of mischief we would have gotten up to?

Hbeach4
Still more beach. It wasn’t exactly beach weather, though.

The sheep were everywhere, literally. I tried to get close enough to take some personality shots, but apparently the personality of an Outer Hebrides sheep is “nae.” They would pose quite prettily until I got close enough to take the photo, then they’d turn their heads, suddenly shy.

Sheeps
The sheep were being coy.

The landscape is so incredibly stark that the brilliantly-colored dyes on the sheep were startling. Amid a sea of browns and greens and greys, to suddenly see an electric blue or bright purple blot was a bit of a jolt.

Sheepside
The dye indicates the sheep’s owner.

Here’s another view of the castle through the entry arch. I wasn’t able (well, let’s be honest: given the weather, I wasn’t inclined) to walk up to the arch on the other side and get a picture of the sign. “Amhuinnsuidhe” translates to “house at the mouth of the river” and is pronounced “aven-suey” (yeah… um. That’s Gaelic for you).

Castlearch
View of the castle through one of the entry arches.

The estate is used primarily for hunting stag and fishing, which helps the conservation effort as well. They have to hunt at least a third of the stag every year to keep the population down, otherwise they start coming down from the mountain and eating people’s gardens and generally being a nuisance. The guests go out with guides (called “ghillies”) and climb the hill to stalk the stag. This particular photo was taken in the Great Hall, and there was a stag at either end, actually. Off the Great Hall was the Drawing Room (site of afternoon tea and post-dinner coffee), the TV room, and the dining room, which I did not get a decent photo of, to my lament.

Staghead
One of the many mounted stag heads around the castle.

Looking through my photos, it appears that the majority of non-landscape shots are of the Snooker Room. The company all ended up there after dinner each night, and with free and easy access to the drinks cabinet, much fun was had. Some of the best laughs and best times were had there.

At first, it seemed like a very strange way to have a vacation. We’re used to doing our own thing, setting our own schedule. This was different – the schedule was set, yes, but it was very loose and you could join in or not as you chose. Breakfast and dinner were communal meals, and having everyone hanging out together after dinner was just the best thing. Instead of being a bunch of people who happened to be in the same castle for the week, we became friends.

Snooker1
Post-dinner shenanigans. That’s Innes on the left.

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All of this just seems so stupid

I’ve been wanting to do an experiment for a couple of weeks now. I want to unplug a bit and get off Facebook and my boards and Twitter and the myriad other things online with which I waste my time. But I’ve been putting off a start date because I don’t want to miss anything or whatever it is that keeps me coming back online. And thank god, because I got a Facebook message today that let me know that one of my oldest friends passed away yesterday. I’m in shock, I’m in tears, and most of all, my heart feels broken. Geoff and I weren’t close in recent years, mostly because we’re both in our own orbits and we live on opposite coasts, but he is the kind of friend that you can go years without seeing but as soon as you start talking, you not only pick up where you left off, you don’t even need to start a new sentence. Just knowing that he was in the world, making people laugh was enough.
And now he’s gone. I am finding it hard to talk about him in the past tense, because Geoff was very much PRESENT TENSE. Everything he did was big and hilarious and so very unique. With a word, a phrase, a look – he could let you know that he got it.
I will miss him. I have missed him. I wish I were a better friend, better at staying in touch and telling the people who matter that they matter.

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Filed under Me Me Me, Other People

Oh, shut up

All this freaking out about the pediatric Tylenol et al recall is making me roll my eyes. People need to calm the fuck down.

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It’s a sitcom, it’s a horrorshow, it’s my life.

I originally posted this to Facebook last Saturday.

OMG, you guys. I just had the weirdest experience of my life, to date. And I have done some WEIRD shit.

Anyway. As you all know, I have a 4-month-old puppy. Puppies have small bladders, and thus need to pee pretty much every 14.6 minutes. I take Piper out, let her pee in the front yard (which she prefers for short trips), and bring her back in. 440 times a day.

So far, so normal, right?

This past week, I’ve been feeling pretty icky, which means I’ve been wandering out with the dog while wearing just my sweatpants and my grungy blue hoodie, with my [unwashed] hair bundled back into a haphazard ponytail. I seriously look like I’m about to be homeless.

Around 4PM, I took Piper out. My neighbor, who is an older, retired sort of guy was in his car getting ready to go somewhere. He waved at me, I waved at him, it’s what neighbors do. As soon as he pulled out, his wife comes STORMING out of the house, yelling “can you walk that dog somewhere else?”

Um, okay, fine – we were a bit close to the 2 feet of grass on the side of their driveway that borders our yard. Fine! Not a problem! I didn’t grow up with neighbors (my parents’ nearest neighbors are a quarter-mile away) so there are some neighborly sensitive things that don’t always occur to me…. but….

This is where it gets weird. She comes over and starts yelling at me. “Is your husband home?” Um, no, is there something I can help you with?

Her: I see what you’re doing. Every time my husband comes outside, you bring that dog out.
Me: Whuh? What? She’s a puppy! She’s outside ALL THE TIME.
Her: The whole neighborhood can see you running after my husband.

[note – her husband? NOT HOT. He’s at least 70 if he’s a day, and think about what Dwight Schrute will look like when he’s 70. You’re welcome.]

So.

Me: Um…. Are you serious?
Her: You stay away from my husband.
Me: No problem!
Her: I’ll get a restraining order!

At this point, Piper was done peeing and I was about to laugh, so I took her in and decided to go over there and see if there was something that could be done.

I knocked on the door and she’s all “what do you want?”
Me: Can we talk about this? I don’t understand what’s going on.
Her: I’m calling the police. I’m getting a restraining order because you are after my husband.
Me: I think you’re being ridiculous. Please come over, we’ll have coffee and figure this out.
Her: Get off my property! [grabs the phone] He’s old enough to be your grandfather!
Me: You’re crazy!
Her: No, you’re crazy!

Well, duh.

At that point, I just threw up my hands and left because she was freaking DIALING THE POLICE. I put shoes and a jacket on Jillian and we took Piper for a LONG walk around the neighborhood. I was hoping my one friend would be home, because she’s lived in the ‘hood for a long time and knows my neighbor fairly well, but she was out. So we talked to some other people on our street and they were all “yeah, that lady is nuts.”

Is there anything I can do at this point to salvage this situation? My plan is to ignore ignore ignore ignore ignore but… MY GOD. I’m half-tempted to make it worse by watching for the husband and deliberately going out with the dog when he’s outside, but I’m concerned that she’ll poison us somehow. The previous owners of our house actually accused her of trying to poison their dogs at one point, so I’m thinking it’s not a ridiculous fear to have.

What should I do? Should I do anything at all? When Freddie gets home tomorrow I will tell him this whole thing and see what he thinks – he’s a fixer so I’m sure he’ll want to go over there to see what’s up but… I’m so confused and having a whole bunch of WTF moments all at once and I feel really weird, like the world has tilted or that I’ve been drugged without my knowledge. That’s how weird this is to me.

I’m so baffled by this, I barely have words to explain it. It really does call for an interpretive dance.

I know!

I spent the rest of Saturday afternoon and all of Sunday feeling really weird and out-of-sorts. Uncomfortable. Uneasy. Discussed it with my Facebook peeps and my JGz family and between the jokes and the re-telling, I started to feel better. I even feel a bit sorry for Edna (the neighbor), not least because her name is Edna. I’m not sure how old she is, but they are the original owners of their house, which was built in 1960. So… she’s getting on in years a bit. There is doubtless something mental going on there.

I haven’t changed my behavior much since then. Well, I showered. It was necessary. And I keep Piper off of the 2-foot strip of their property, even though that is P’s most favorite place to poop in the whole wide world. The other evening, I was out with Piper for the 5234th time and Bob (the husband) was bringing his trash out to the street. We did the whole “what’s up” thing that one does to be neighborly, and that was that. So I’m even more convinced that Edna’s got some mental thing going on that has nothing to do with me. I’m 100% sure she didn’t mention the incident to Bob, even though I bet he’ll hear about it eventually because I talked to A LOT of people on our street.

For the time being, I’m going to treat this as an isolated incident. No harm, no foul. I’m thinking of planting some trees, since putting up a 15-foot razor-wire-topped fence is probably not an option. But if it happens again, we’re going to have problems. And if she calls me a whore again, we’re going to have REAL problems. I gave up being a whore over a decade ago.

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Filed under Me Me Me, Other People, Piper

I don’t belong here

Jillian, Piper, and I were at the park a few days ago. Piper was eating mulch, as is her hobby, and Jillian was climbing and singing and being three.

I was sitting on the bench, keeping an eye on The Jillian and eavesdropping on the two moms sitting next to me, who were watching their kids. One of the little boys started to sit down as if to go down the slide and the mom nearest me got up from the bench, saying “No, Evan! No slide!”

Which, okay, moms are weird sometimes, but the kid looked to be at least Jillian’s age, so I was feeling very “??”

The mom redirected poor Evan and came back down on the bench. By way of explanation, she said to the other mom “I don’t like him to get dirty because then I can’t take his clothes to the consignment. I buy him brand names only because he has to look good but I want my money back on those clothes.”





Yeah. The suburbs are a strange place.

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Life is a limited time offer

So I’ve been processing this whole Michael Jackson thing, and other people have said it better than I could. Basically, if you were born around 1975 or earlier, Michael Jackson was IT. He was EVERYTHING in the 80’s. Yeah, he turned into something so ‘other’ that it can barely be explained, but for me, in elementary school, MJ was MUSIC.

But today Billy Mays died. To me, that’s just a huge, huge shock. Sure, MJ dying at 50 was shocking, but with the way that dude was carrying on, it was really only a matter of time. With Billy Mays, well, we expected him to be on our TVs for a good long time, hawking OxiClean and Orange Glo and Slider Station and a hundred other things. Wonder Mop (I do want one of these).

When Jillian was a tiny tiny baby and we were having marathon breastfeeding sessions, Billy Mays was there for me. He was there at 3:30AM, shouting about Orange Glo or some other thing that I just HAD to have. Even though the TV in Jillian’s nursery was hooked to the cable, we didn’t have a converter box for it so I only got about 20 channels on it. We had to watch a lot of network dreck in those days. But Billy was always there. His yelly presence was the music to which we drowsed, in those late nights/early mornings.

And now he’s gone. Limited time offer, my friends.

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Wowsers.

Farrah Fawcett’s death today was not a surprise. Everyone could see that she was on her way out, and it’s great that she’s not suffering anymore.

Michael Jackson, on the other hand… SHOCKING. Seriously shocking. Crazy! I’m going to sew sequins on all my clothes in tribute. And maybe schedule some plastic surgery.

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I always say the same things

This ‘let’s all not be a rageaholic’ thing does not make for good blog posts. There are a few things that I could go off and rant about, but what’s the point? Those things are not going to change, so I’m not about to waste my time and energy on them.

Some things just don’t matter.

In other news, my mom broke her leg last week. In true Diroll fashion, my dad sent my brother and me an email TWO DAYS LATER. Like, thanks, Dad. [eyeroll] The email was worded in such a way that we couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. We didn’t know if she was still in the hospital or what, so we had to call and figure it out. It turns out she’s as fine as someone with a broken leg can be, but she had to cancel her annual trip to Daytona this year. It took at least 4 people to talk her out of it, though. The woman is demented.

In the next couple of months, Jillian and I will probably head out there for a couple of days. If I can convince Freddie to take some time off work, he’ll come too. Maybe I’ll put together some kind of gathering with my high-school peeps (thanks to the magic of Facebook, we are all finding each other again) and introduce him. We’ll have to see – the weather between here and there has been so uniformly awful that I don’t know how wise it would be to drive across Pennsylvania right now.

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Grin.

What a crazy week it’s been. Monday was just the longest day ever, watching all of the last-ditch efforts by both of the Presidential candidates and getting all keyed up and impatient to vote.

Tuesday dawned with uncertain sunlight. I had heard that it was supposed to rain and rain + expected long lines to vote = bad news, but the rain held off until early evening. Jillian and I voted around 10 AM. She kept saying “Mama. We vote? We vote for Obama! Mama vote! In the school!” When we stepped into the booth she saw all the buttons just begging to be pushed and nearly lost her mind. Luckily, I have amazing reflexes born out of Tetris championships so I was able to make my choices and hit the “Cast Vote” button without any mishaps.

After voting, we went to the grocery store, where Jillian proceeded to tell everyone “We vote! Vote for Obama!” Now, we are shiny blue dots in a VERY red town (even though our county and the rest of our state went blue… my town? Not so much), so she got some silly looks as well as a lot of high-fives and smiles.

Tuesday evening was spent flipping between CNN and that foxy Brian Williams on NBC, while refreshing CNN.com and chatting with my Girlz on the bulletin boards. Watching the initial returns come in was kind of unreal – it’s so hard to tell what’s happening early on, but once Ohio was called for Obama, I finally let myself think that it was happening. Ohio! My home state! Eh, oh, way to go, Ohio. I’m happy to say that my home county also went blue, probably due in large part to the work my Mama did on the phones. Good job, Mama.

At 11PM, NBC threw up a graphic that said “Barack Obama ELECTED 44th President of the United States.” Awesome.

McCain’s speech was excellent. If he had campaigned like that, who knows what would have happened? He spoke as himself, as a real person and not just some GOP mouthpiece, which is what he became after the GOP convention (and before). He seems like a genuine sort of guy who truly loves this country to which he gave so much, but his campaign didn’t reflect that at all.

Obama, on the other hand… wow. He’s got some flaws, sure, but he ran a hell of a campaign and it was mind-boggling to see the crowds in Grant Park (as opposed to the swanky invite-only party for McCain… see the difference??) and how they went INSANE when he stepped out on that stage. Seeing Jesse Jackson get all teary was such a great moment because although he can be a jackass sometimes, this is something he has worked for HIS ENTIRE LIFE. It’s got to be quite a feeling to see all of that blood, all of that sweat, all of those tears bring this kind of result.

So we’ve got a new President. He’s got a lot of crap to start cleaning up (thanks, George), but I think, I believe, I HOPE he can get it done.

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