Click on the small picture to see the bigger version; all pictures open in a new window) Tuesday Debbie wanted to go to Rockland, and I hadn’t been there in probably, I don’t know. Twenty years? So we headed out fairly early and hit TJ Maxx. This TJ Maxx was actually a TJ Maxx and More, and we spent a lonnnnng time browsing through the store. I saw many things I liked and wanted, and picked up a ton of stuff, but in the end I only bought a set of cups. Not that we really need more cups, but they had roosters on them, and I’m only so strong, y’know. (And then I got the cups home and found that they’re too big, and too thick – I prefer a certain thinness to my plastic cups – so that was $4 down the drain. Grrr!) Debbie found a giant fork and was going to put it back, but I told her that if she didn’t buy the fork I’d be very sad, so she bowed to the pressure and bought it. A $5 giant fork! I carried it out to the car for her, and a little girl getting out of a car with her father pointed at me and said “She has a fork!”, so I held it up proudly and said “I have a fork!” I can’t help it if giant forks make me happy. I loved these cat towels, but didn’t buy them because they were $10 apiece, and I just don’t even think so. Even though they would have worked perfectly in the guest bathroom, $10 is too damn much. Even though they were cute as HELL. We drove around the area for a bit before stopping at the Brown Bag for lunch. I had a crabmeat sandwich on wheat bread, and I tell you what – BEST crabmeat sandwich EVER. Highly, highly recommended if you ever find yourself in the Rockland area. We dropped Debbie off at Debbie’s house, then Brian and I drove his new (to him) car from my parents’ house back to his and Debbie’s house. Brian bought a 1990 (or 91, I don’t remember) Dodge Spirit. It’s older than he is, but it works really well for the price. And Brian is a perfectly good, careful driver. At Debbie’s, I sat and surfed the web on my laptop (I had no problems hooking up to Debbie’s wireless modem) until Liz arrived. After spending so much time in the car, you’d think the last thing I’d want to do is sit in the car some more, but I always enjoy a good road trip. We made our yearly sojourn to the Seabasket, home of the best seafood EVER. After dinner we went across the street to Big Al’s, a discount store with just about anything you could think of to want. It’s the place we found the chef’s hat last year (which Liz laughed about, and then bought and wore while we drove around and yelled “Shut it down”, a la Hell’s Kitchen). I found a long-sleeved Maine t-shirt for $5.88, and a couple of scoops for 88 cents each (which I intend to use to scoop cat food out of the bins into the cats’ dishes). Liz bought her friend – a Raiders fan – a faux leather jacket for $15.88. (Don’t be a snob – it was a fucking STEAL.) After, we went to Bookland (I adore that store – they have the best post-it note pads EVER) and then to Cold Stone Creamery. I know that I’ve raved about Cold Stone Creamery in the past, but I think I’m kind of over it. I got the Founder’s Favorite (pecans, brownie, caramel, fudge in a sweet cream ice cream) in the medium size dish (regular dish, no waffle cone dish), and couldn’t come close to eating half of it. It was good, but nothing special, y’know? Liz dropped me off at Debbie’s house, and I hung around for a few minutes before taking Debbie’s car and heading to my parents’ house. That night on the phone, Fred told me that the back part of the house – especially the kitchen and laundry room – were stinking like something had died. He’d been cleaning the litter boxes every other day, so it couldn’t be that. I offered that maybe it was something in the garbage, but he’d taken the garbage out and the smell remained. We talked about whether something had died under the house, and decided that if it went on much longer, Fred would poke around under the house. Debbie’s cat, Tigger. He’s a sweet, laid-back monkey. I got a ton of pictures of him, but not a single picture of the more high-strung Punki. Hmph. Wednesday I had to wake up early and leave the house by 6:30, because Brian had an orthodontist’s appointment in… I don’t even remember the name of the town. Somewhere past Portland. Biddeford, maybe? Anyway, that’s why I took Debbie’s car home with me the night before, so she wouldn’t have to come get me and then drive all the way back to Topsham to hop on the interstate. She and Brian were ready to go, so we stopped and got gas, went to McDonald’s for breakfast, and headed to Biddeford (I think). Brian had to have his braces tightened – I’d add “poor thing” here, but apparently having his braces tightened is not a painful event for him; I, on the other hand, can still clearly recall when I had braces and had the damn things tightened the DAY before Thanksgiving, and I couldn’t eat at all the next day, it hurt so bad – which didn’t take long at all. At some point during the morning, I talked to Fred. “Is there a reason the lights on the front of the Litter Robot would all be off?” “No – is it plugged in?” It was plugged in, it wasn’t off the tracks, it was a mystery. Finally I told him to empty it out, put it in the garage, and set up a regular litter box in its place, and I’d look at it when I got home. From Biddeford, we headed to Kittery, where we did some shopping. We didn’t do a lot – I just wanted to hit the Kittery Trading Post, the kitchen store (Kitchen Connection? Maybe?), and Big Dogs. I bought a few t-shirts at the Trading Post, some kitchen stuff at the kitchen store, and not a damn thing at Big Dogs. This sand castle was outside the Kittery Trading Post. Since we were there, some asshole vandals toppled it. Cool car, seen in Kittery. We needed to be back in Topsham by 2 or so, because we were planning a few hours at Popham Beach, followed by a cookout. We wanted to have lunch at Bosun’s Landing, but found that it’s only open Thursday through Sunday. “Let’s just drive up Route 1,” Debbie suggested. “We’ll come across another restaurant, surely.” “Okay!” I said. More than an hour later, after much driving and plenty of stopping at red lights, and going through Ogunquit (which will forever make me think of Frannie Goldman, since that’s her hometown) among other towns, we gave up on finding a real restaurant, and ate lunch at Dairy Queen. (Not that I’m complaining – it was a good cheeseburger, to say the least.) We drove from there to Topsham, picked up stuff at Debbie’s house, and then headed to Popham. We found my parents almost immediately, but couldn’t find Tracy (my brother) and Mireya (my niece) for anything, and we were standing and staring in all directions, and finally realized (as we saw them walk down the boardwalk) that we weren’t able to find them ’cause they hadn’t arrived yet! We hung out on the beach for a couple of hours, watching the people and talking. Debbie and Mireya played in the sand, and then Tracy – who is a crazyman, out bodysurfing the waves, GODDAMN that is some cold-ass water! – got his ass handed to him. The water picked him up, slammed him onto the floor of the ocean, and cracked a rib or two. Yikes. He got out of the water and sat for a while, wincing, and though everyone suggested he take a trip to the hospital, he didn’t want to – since they can’t do anything for cracked ribs but tape them, anyway. Unfailingly, there’s a family who leaves all their shit strewn around and go off to walk along the beach or play in the water, and the seagulls descend and make a huge mess. The seagulls have become increasingly aggressive, and you have to just about be right on top of them before they fly off. They ain’t a-skeered of YOU. They ended up eating every bit of edible stuff this family had left laying around, despite being run off many times. The question is, just how much time are other people supposed to spend saving your stuff from the goddamn seagulls? The answer seems to be, about half an hour. After that, it’s your loss. The funny thing is that that girl in the background, in the water, looks a lot like the spud. She wasn’t there, but I guess she was there in spirit! The grills at Popham are up away from the beach a bit, so my father and Brian went up and started a fire, and lugged all the food from the car to the grill area. The rest of us eventually joined them, and I have to say, I have never seen so many goddamn mosquitos at one time. We were spraying ourselves and each other (okay, I did no actual spraying, Debbie is the one who did most of it), and I don’t think I got any bites, but everyone else did. Guess they’re sweeter than I am. I rode home with my parents, and we were just about into Bath when the phone rang. Brian’s car – which we’d taken to Popham – had broken down on the interstate. My father stopped and looked at the car, then took my mother and I home, picked up the tools he needed (it was the alternator, so the battery needed to be charged… or something.) and went back to get it running. That night while I was talking to Fred on the phone, he said “Oh – I figured out why the lights on the front of the Litter Robot had gone off.” “Why’s that?” “There’s an on/ off switch on the back, and it got turned to “off” somehow.” “Oh. I thought you knew about that,” I said. “I didn’t.” Long pause. “I found out where that awful smell was coming from, too.” “Where’s?” “The bottom of the Litter Robot, the drawer where the clumps get dumped into? That’s what smelled.” “Oh, really? Even after you’ve been emptying it?” I said, concerned. “I haven’t been emptying it.” “You haven’t been emptying it when you clean the litter boxes?” “Uh, no,” he said. “Did you think magic elves would come and empty it at night while you were sleeping?” “I thought it would fill up, and a light would come on to remind me that it needed to be emptied.” “That might happen, but by that point you’d probably be dead from the fumes,” I said. “TELL me about it.” “I empty it every time I clean the regular litter box next to the Robot.” “I get that now.” Thursday We hung out at the house for a good part of the day Thursday. I finally got around to writing out the postcards y’all had requested – 120 cards in three hours, woot! I hadn’t bought enough postcards and had to run to the grocery store to buy some more. I don’t know – I feel like I’m sending out the same several different cards every year. I think next year I need to do something different – maybe take a picture, print it out, and use that as a postcard? In the afternoon, my parents and I ran over to my… I guess she’s a cousin? She’s my mother’s first cousin, so that makes her my second cousin, right? Anyway, I always referred to her as my aunt when I was a kid. Her daughter – my third cousin? – is a year younger than I am, and we spent a lot of time together when we were kids, but I haven’t seen any of them since the spud was a few years old, so maybe sixteen years? They haven’t changed at all, Nikki and her husband Burt, and it was nice to see them. They live next door to her mother, my grandmother’s sister, and Nikki called and told her to come over. Aunt Muriel (my grandmother’s sister) looks exactly the same as she did last time I saw her, I swear. We had a nice visit, caught up on what all the kids are doing, and didn’t stay long. They’re on a big piece of land, and I LOVE what they’ve done to it, they’ve got a knack for landscaping. Gussied up for the show. This is about as gussied as I get – note the makeup. Eyeliner, mascara, and blush – oh, my! That evening, my mother, Debbie, and I went to see Hairspray at the Maine State Music Theater on the campus of Bowdoin College in Brunswick. We had seats that were in the balcony, and they were good seats. The show was just about to start when a man, a woman, and their two daughters came in and sat down. The youngest daughter – maybe 10 or 12 – sat in front of me, and all was well. Except that it wasn’t. It wasn’t at ALL. Because apparently the person in the seat in front of her was too tall, so she switched seats with her father, and he was a tall motherfucker with a big, high combover, and he was sitting in front of me. As the show began and then progressed, it became clear that Combover Dad had a serious case of Ants in his Pants. I’d say that the man did not sit still for longer than 90 seconds at a time, and that would probably be stretching it. As I said to Debbie as the show went to intermission, “I feel like I’m watching two shows – one to the left of the combover and one to the right.” Combover Dad stood up during intermission and had a boisterous conversation with a man sitting in our row about their teenage daughters and how he’d bought his daughter a Cooper. (The other man bought his daughter a used Mercedes, I believe, and everyone was so impressed that we rolled our eyes in tandem.) Debbie asked if I wanted to switch seats, and I thought about it for a second before asking to make sure she didn’t mind (she didn’t – she’s a sweetheart, and also taller than I am), and we switched seats. You know what happened next, don’t you? As the lights went down and the show began again, Combover Dad and his daughter switched seats. So that Combover Dad was in front of me. Debbie and I shook our heads at each other and then switched seats again. The rest of the show was uneventful until about fifteen minutes from the end. And then Combover Daughter developed a sudden case of cooties, and she began scratching at the side of her head. And the top of her head. And the other side of her head. And then she held both her arms in the air, her hands on her head, and scratched. And dug. And played with her hair. And she was in pretty much this position, and so suddenly I was unable to see the goddamn show without leaning over into my mother’s space. The child did this, the digging and the pulling and the scratching, for so long that I was amazed, and I could do nothing but laugh. Because, seriously? I have to put up with Combover Dad and his pant-ants for the first half, and then Combover Daughter gets cootified to ruin the show for me some more? What are the chances? (And, yes. I did consider leaning forward and whispering “Excuse me. When you sit like an orangutan, with your arms in the air like you just don’t care, I cannot see the stage. Want to knock it off, Princess?”, but (a) I didn’t want to get cooties on me and (b) parents these days sometimes take exception to other people suggesting that their dear, sweet Princess might be doing anything other than acting like sheer perfection, and I didn’t want Combover Dad to come after me with his combover. Because that shit was scary.) Finally, Combover Daughter dropped her arms, and I thought she was done with the cooties, but I was so very wrong. Instead, she pulled the ponytail band out of her hair, and she flipped forward, making her hair fall down toward the floor, and then she sat up and FLIPPED her hair back so that it would fly back in a fluffy manner. And she did this three more times, and I was laughing so hard in disbelief that I thought I might be asked to vacate the premises. She settled down in time for me to enjoy the final song, and then the show was over. The show – what I saw of it – was really good. I had never seen Hairspray, didn’t know anything about it at all, had never heard the songs, and I liked it a LOT. The songs were so happy, and just the whole tone of the show is so happy and peppy that it had me seriously wanting to see the movie. Next time I go to a musical, though, I hope Combover Dad and Cootie Girl are nowhere around. We dropped Debbie off and headed home, and I brushed my teeth and popped out my contacts and settled in at my Dad’s computer to write a funny entry about the show (it was going to be called “Conversations with God Regarding Annoying People”), but first I checked to see what people had been using the site search engine to look for, and what I saw there, well, as I mentioned the other day, it was the reason I shut the site down. And I lost the will to write the funny entry – and it was going to be FUH-NEE, believe you me – and now it’s lost and I can’t drag it up from the bottom of my brainpan. It’s gone! It’s fleein’ the interview. Ah well – there’ll be others. Someday. ::sob:: Debbie ended up taking Brian to the emergency room because he was throwing up and there was blood, so they got to spend a couple of early morning hours there only to find out that the blood was coming from Brian’s throat, he didn’t have strep or mono, and it would eventually go away on his own. Poor kid – and poor Deb!

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Previously 2006: Does it make me strange that I can handle the thought of field mice in the house, but the idea of ants in the house just REALLY infuriates me? 2005: No entry. 2004: My Gram. 2003: If I had a brain I’d be dangerous. 2002: What I’ve been doing. 2001: I’m wise to your stalker ways, Margaret! 2000: No entry.]]>