Still sick

Yes, this damned illness continues to cling. I picked up some bug before the flight back from the USofA. Normally when I am getting illl my body “shuts down and reboots”, meaning I sleep for 20 or so hours, then get up and all is well. But I could not do that while on the trip, so I kept myself going with caffine and pain killers. Now I pay the price. This is not a completely debilitating illness, rather an annoying one that robs me of strength and wits, and lingers on and on and on.

It makes me grumpy.

Thankfully Tam had the wisdom this morning to make me sleep. My body happily said “okay!” and conked out for another 4 hours. I can only assume that is a good thing.

There is so much to do, both around the farm and writing-wise, that I will be very glad when I am fully recovered. This is probably the most lingering illness I have had in 5 to 10 years. Grump, grump.


Well, Wellington sure put on its best for Emily. The promised crappy weather held off until she left, so the weekend was beautiful. We drove around, had yummy Italian pizza from the Mediterranian Food Warehouse for lunch and yummy Mexican Cafe Mexican for dinner. Stephen helped Stephanie move house, and we dragged her out for dinner as well. Mmm, bloat-riffic.

Ran into Roger (the King) on Cuba street — apparently there’s another Renn Faire coming up & he wants the Pirates back. This one’s going to be in Frank Kitts Park, across from my office, and he’s promised the Pirates the big lighthouse playground with the slide. Woo-hoo !

Last night was Melanie’s birthday, so we trooped over to Sybille’s for cake (Sybille’s trying to kill us with desserts, if you’ll recall), wine and assorted yummy things. Melanie’s choir is going to Europe — how cool ! And we’re planning a Halloween party. We have four rooms that we can theme up — we’re taking suggestions !

Crappy weather is here now, but that just means it’s a good night to watch some of the anime I bought. Relaxing will be good, since Stephen is still sick, and after tonight we’re booked straight through til Sunday.


Another “you’re not in the US anymore” moment:

I was listening to National Radio on my short drive to the train station. They finished the news brief, then said, “Okay now it’s time for traffic… uh, nothing to report. The weather today…”

Tale, continued

Saturday morning I awoke first (no surprise), and took the opportunity to read for a few hours until everyone else awoke. They Keri prepared for us a fabulous breakfast of savory crepes, followed by sweet crepes. Yummy! We then did a further tour of the house and yard in the daylight. What a fabulous place. And what terrible taste the former owners inflicted unpon the walls! Late that afternoon we drove back into town where we hooked up with Holly, then made our way down to a great Greek place on Mass Ave in Cambridge where we met Chris Almy, Karl and Len. After a long dinner of chatting and fun we drove up to Outback Steakhouse for desert (I wanted a Sydney Sinful Sundae), and while waiting for our table Tam took the opporunity to shop at the EB in the center, replacing the games that were stolen.

Overnight at Holly’s place, then on Sunday morning we slipped out while Holly slept to make our way over to Chez-Rookey for a fabulous brunch with all the dancing ladies. The day cooperated, giving fabulous weather for a garden party, and we all had a grand time. Late that afternoon Tam and I headed back to Holly’s place, where we organized a metting at Maura’s place. A big spontaneous party with Bill, Karl, Maura, Tina, Holly, Chris A and Len ensued. Unfortunately Chris L and Sarah could not make it. We went to Uno’s for dinner. Loved the company, hated the food. Maybe it is a change of palet over the last year, but all the Uno’s food was heavy, geasy, and nasty. It was also a bittersweet time, as we knew we were leaving Boston the next morning. Wish we had more time to spend with our friends!

Monday morning we drove over to Brandeis University, Tam’s former work-place, and spent some time with her former coworkers. A little hall-party formed, and we had fun going through the NZ photos. Then we drove down to New London and took the ferry to Orient Point on Long Island. A beautiful trip. Then we drove the length of the island to Judiths place, up an ever increasing gradient of population density and traffic (Judith’s place is only a few hundred meters from the border of Queens). Too many people! Judith does have a lovely, and quite large, apartment. She too has joined the Tivo meme/revolution. Something we missed by moving away when we did.

Tuesday morning we drove back south, pausing briefly in Granite Run Mall to say hi to Mike, and pick up a few more items at discount from Showcase. Then we finished the drive back to my parents place.

By Wednesday the exhaustion was really starting to catch up with me, but we must march onwards! Our flight to Phoenix was weather-delayed, but we still made the connnection to Tucson. We overnighted in a hotel near the ariport, then headed over to Grandmothers house. We had been planning to do a rum-run to Mexico with her (at her request), but when we arrived she was not feeling well. She has good days, and not-as-good days. She slept most of that day, so we went to the Pima Air and Space Museum. If you like military planes (American), this is the place for you. I gave Tam a guided tour, as I knew too much about too many of those planes. We went out with my Uncle Roy to Papagayos for some fabulous Mixcan food, then retired for the evening.

Thankfully on Friday Grandmother was feeling better, and we spent some fun time going through photo albums. Occasionally this would trigger memories, and we would learn about past people and events. It was all a great deal of fun. Also very educational! I now understand where my father got the “travel bug”.

The flight back was long. The 5-hour delay at Auckland airport between flights was insult-to-injury. But we made it back, basically intact. Now to get back to all the work that needs to be done! 10 hours of sleep last night helped, we will see how we are doing by dinnertime tonight. I brought back a mild cold which I hope to kick within the next day or two. Too much work to get done to be sick!

Pausing to breathe…

We’re still alive, although the exhausted stares into the middle distance might make you doubt the assertion. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

Drove to Philly. Had lunch with Chris, an old fellow post-doc of Stephen’s. Ate proper Philly cheese steaks (with PROVALONE !) from a proper Philly lunch truck and watched the assortment of koi, ducks and turtles go about their business in and on the “Bio Pond” on the UPENN campus. Chris made us an origami alpaca ! How cool is that ? And it’s even the proper coppery brown !

Headed out to Media for dinner (steaks, grilled outdoors, because it is still SUMMER here) at Castle Clarkenstein, the ginormous rambling old Victorian that my old boss (way old — not Mike, the job — like back when I was selling comics and RPGs to earnest, er, hobbyists on South Street, and before that to Bryn Mawr and Haverford students) bought for a song off a real estate agent who failed to save versus Mike’s Mercantile Mindrays. Caught up on the goss (local and industry) and marveled (no pun intended) at how the kids have grown. (Am I feeling old ? Nah, too tired.)

Drive through pouring rain and dinner with Bill and Karl detailed previously. Failed to note in previous post Bill’s cat, Stasia, the White Terror. You remember when you were a kid, convinced there was a monster under the bed ? So you did your best to leap into bed from at least four feet away, so the monster would not hook your ankles with its savage claws (presumably to drag you into the darkness under the bed like a log into a chipper-shredder) ? It was like that.

Holly and Len took off work to hang with us ! Yay ! Brunch at Bickford’s, followed by an assortment of errands: dropping by the Burlington town hall to make sure our absentee ballots were being taken care of (they are — they seem very on-the-ball at the Burlington Town Hall), dropping into the RMV to get documentation of the issue date of Stephen’s driver’s license — no joy there, but the REI next door coughed up a couple of my favorite bras and Holly got some valuable info on kayak paddles, to wit: the lighter they are, the more expensive they are, and carbon fiber is both.

Dropped by the site of our old house. I say “site” because they knocked down our house and put up a McMansion which sold for, get this, almost four times what we paid for our house originally. “Evil Yuppie Scum” we say to ourselves. Oh wait, our former next-door-neighbor informs us that the house was bought by a lesbian couple who wants to raise a family there. Yay ! Lesbians bought our old house ! Ack ! Mental conflict ! Yuppie scum, boo ! Lesbians, yay ! Head hurting…

Dropped off Len & Holly & then got stuck in Patriots-game-induced traffic en route to dinner with the Dancing Ladies. Dinner at Joan and Ed’s, a fabulous home-cooking-specialist Jewish deli & restaurant (because Jewish fare is a bit thin on the ground in NZ, you know). Good food, good conversation, followed by a really good boogie *sigh*. Beth kindly put us up in Mattapan (for our NZ audience, that’s one of the interior Boston sub-towns, not an obscure cooking implement).

Was hanging out with another Chris, this one an old chum of Stephen’s from his Chicago days. Breakfast at a local diner (they got the scrambled eggs *exactly* the way I wanted them), followed by a wander along the beach discussing RPGs, game theory, the state of the academy, Chinese history, and other things of the sort that over-educated geeks discuss on a lovely summer day.

Lunch in Quincy (mis-pronounced, in that peculiarly Bostonian way, as “QUIN-zee”), followed by another stint of sitting in traffic way way out past some *lovely* old farms to Leominster, to visit Judy and Kerey at the House of Red Doors, their Mansard/Second-Empire vintage Victorian Project/Darling. It’s an amazing house, and I’m in awe of them for the amount of work they are putting into it. The Prior Owners really ought to be arrested for Crimes Against Taste, not to mention an appalling lack of sense where it comes to basic maintenance. Despite this, there is a fabulous array of original fittings and features remaining & once they get done with it, they’ll have a real gem on their hands. Dinner was, as is usually the case when Kerey cooks, FABulous. Heather and Kate and Julia came over, yay !

Okay, that’s it for now — will have to do the weekend later…


Bill and Karl both have really neat places. Bill’s is a condo in a big four storey brick townhouse in South Boston. It was the old parlour, with a big curved bay window and proportions that are simultaeously graceful and imposing. It’s also got the original etched-glass pocket doors and has the most ridicoulously ornate crown molding. Bill’s taste in furnishings pulls it together — elegance without need for pretension; classy, yet comfortable. Karl’s apartment, by complete contrast, is in and old converted piano factory — all exposed brick and heavy, raw timber beams. Very artsy industrial funk.

After driving through some pretty hellacious downpours — including losing a couple hours in New York due to flooding-induced road closures — we staggered into Boston. Luckily, Stephen managed to rub two brain cells together and generate a spark of a memory of where Bill’s place is. Bill helped us get the car parked and then he and Karl took us out to one of the local jazz places for dinner. (This is one of those neighborhoods that started out very rich, then got very poor, and is now in the process of gentrifying. It was apparently *the* happening place in the heyday of Jazz.)

Donuts for breakfast. Mmmmm…. donuts.

Welcome Home, Hah!

Well, the last couple of days have been lovely, enjoying the warm weather and the gorgeous Longwood Gardens, etc. Now we’re packing up for the Philly-to-Boston leg of the trip…

Oh, wait. Gee, it looks like the lovely folks at the Transport Safety Authority in Atlanta have decided that they must protect the good folks flying the friendly skies from several gifts we bought for friends here, and also from some possibly explosive used PS2 games.

So instead of toodling through Chinatown this morning, we are figuring out how to file a police report in another state, and which forms we need to download from the TSA website to report that the PEOPLE WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO BE KEEPING US SAFE HAH HAH WHAT A JOKE ARE ACTUALLY A BUNCH OF F%@&ING THIEVES.

I know we shouldn’t be surprised, but that doesn’t make me feel any less disgusted and outraged. If we’d been flying to, say, NIGERIA, then, yeah, I’d have been damned careful to keep anything that might look interesting in the carry-ons. But, hey, the US is doing its level best to become a filthy-corrupt dictator-run police state anyway.

Driving Adventure

So, my trip to Florida did not go as expected. But I made it out. Barely.

I got to participate in what may be the largest evacuation in US history. Me and 2.5 million of my best friends decided to go out for an afternoon drive. What could go wrong?

I departed Thursday, shortly before noon. I knew I-95 (the N-S highway following the east coast) would be a total mess, so I decided to jump on the Turnpike, which headed NW. For the first 90 minutes all was well, and speeds were in the 60-70mph range. Then, just short of Orlando we ground to a halt. Over the next 3 hours I made 15 miles of progress. When I heard that the jam extended all the way to the I-75 merge (80 miles ahead), and now was 70 miles behind me, I knew it was time to act. Exits are few and far between on the turnpike, I was near one, and the next was 10 miles (and 2+ hours) away. I also knew that a few more hours in the traffic would empty my fuel tank. I had to go.

That was the extra-fun bit. There was no gasoline in southern Florida. Not a drop. Every gas station was closed. For the month of August there had been a 8-cent reduction in gas prices (government leaving off the tax as an economic boost), so of course on August 31st there was a run to fill up tanks. Then September 1st the hurricane panic started to set in, when it was clear it was going to hit. Thankfully I topped off on the 1st, as by Thursday the 2nd all was gone. I was passing people on the side of the highway who were out and stuck. And no more gasoline was coming in, as they had closed all the ports to fuel-tankers due to the coming storm.

Anyway, so there I am on the highway. I need to escape. This is where you cut to the scenes of you favorite disaster movie, where the hero grabs the map, holds it against the steering-wheel, and veers off the highway. All I had was the free map provided with the rental, which was little more than some lines drawn on a napkin, but it would have to do. The first thing I did was drive east, into the evacuation area. No traffic heading that way, huge lines heading west. When I got within 20 miles of the coast I turned north. I ran into slowdowns a few times, where my north-bound road crossed west-bound evacuation routes. But I managed to get 100+ miles north. At this point I figured the evacuees east of me would be heading north, not west (later confirmed on the news about the I-95 parking lot in the region), so I had no traffic when I headed west into Gainesville. A 10-hour drive in total. I was rather manic when I arrived (and it does not help that Gainesville was obviously designed by a blind insane monk in some distant cave, to insure nobody can ever find a street address). I had a few hours of decompression time, chatting with Eleanor and watching the news (and waiting for the panic-driven cannibalism to set in).

It was time to call the airline and car-rental place. The airport I was supposed to fly out of (Orlando) was closing before my flight. Air Tran offered to fly me out of Jacksonville, but based on the flight time I was not willing to bet that airport would still be open by then. So I arranged to drive to Atlanta. Joy.

Four hours of sleep later, it was time to go. I declared a “class 3 caffine emergency”, and had Eleanor make a pot of coffee. Double-strength. Big mug.

Thus fortified, I hit the road. Cruising up I-75 all went well until I crossed the Geogia border. Gridlock, all Florida plates. It was 9AM, and I was stuck in the evacution again. None of the radio stations were providing sufficient traffic news. I had no idea how long the traffic jam extended, but I could not risk it, unless I maintained an average speed of 42 mph I would not make it to my flight. Off the highway I went. Stopped in a gas station. They had just sold their last map of Georgia to the woman in front of me. She gave me a quick look, I memorized some road numbers, and started driving west.

Cut to an insane 6-hour drive through the back-roads of Geogia. Some were big motorway-sized ones, other little ones through quaint rural towns. Where possible I kept the speed as high as practical. Passed one sherrif, but thankfully he just waved (must not have had the radar on!). All was going well until I hit the outer-Atlanta area. Friday afternoon traffic, right before a 3-day weekend. Not pretty. Thankfully the airport is south of the city, and I had picked a road that came in quite close. I made it to the rental-return by 3:45 (car due at 3:21, but they cut me some slack), and hopped the shuttle to the airport (of course it would be off-site!). Made it to my gate 30 minutes before the flight. Driving time 8.5 hours. With only two 6-minute breaks for fuel and toilet. Plus coke and candy bars, all the sustenance you need (and can eat one-handed) while making a crazed driving trip.

It was one heck of a trip. Ten hours of sleep last night helped. A nice relaxing walk around Longwood Gardens today helped. And now to return to our regularly scheduled “vacation”.