Sunday, May 29, 2011

Family Album - Luna

Now Playing -  Let There Be Drums by Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band

 A gorgeous visitor on our screen door the other night....
The east has so many bugs, most of them annoying and bitey, but this Luna Moth, which was almost the size of my hand is a clear highlight!
I love its antennas!
He hung out for most of the next day and was gone by nightfall.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Trashy Post

Now Playing -  Nighthawks by Motion Pictures

Life -  
 Trash in the East is an interesting thing. Back home, every week, you'd take your bags of garbage to the curb, a couple of burly men would pull up in a truck and take them away. That was pretty much the extent of the experience. Eventually, the towns bought a pile of big green or blue plastic containers and instead of bags, you'd fill those up, roll them on hollow sounding wheels down to the curb, a robotic arm would empty it and you'd roll it back up the driveway.

Easy Peasy. It was a bit of a pain in the winter, when you had to drag the sometimes heavy barrel across the permafrost of Idaho winters, but nothing incredibly difficult.

Out here it's quite different. There's a few exceptions, but here in Topsham at least, if I want to throw away a bag of trash, I have to go to the Hannafords (A grocery store) buy a special bag to put my trash in for $1 or $2 depending on the size I want. Then I take these magic bags to the dump to dispose of them. If I have something too large for the bags, I can buy tickets or some nonsense depending on the size. I can't vouch for whether anyone actually does this, I think it's possible they just leave the items on the side of the road with the words "Free - Take Me" written on a box or they bury them in the woods. Maybe an at sea burial.

It also appears that if you were to buy nicer bags - the city bags are not very sturdy or tear-proof - you can take your store bought bags to the dump and hand them over, along with a neatly folded, unused city bag as a kind of currency. But you cannot just give the guy a couple of bucks. Hmm.

Additionally, in Idaho, if you wanted a dumpster for larger items, you call up the city. For $50 or so, they drop off a dumpster and each time you want it emptied, the truck swings by and dumps it and like the weekly pickup a charge appears on your monthly bill. Out here, you have to call a private company. The one we called would have cost us over $300 for one single drop off and dump.

Now, I know space is at a greater premium and the state is part of a large recycling initiative (We don't have recycling pickup at my house either, I should note) but man is that a lot of hassle to get rid of a bag of cat litter, coffee grounds and sugar snap pea packages.

What about where you live? How do you get rid of your junk?


Friday, May 20, 2011

Family Album - Cuddly Brothers

 Aww, look at the cute brothers, hanging out together....

Then Pooka decides to get playful....
And Ludo shows Pooka his Satanic Hellhound Face....

Pooka decides napping would be a wiser alternative.

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's Bang-Whore, Not Bang-Her!

Now Playing -  I'm Yours (Live) by Jason Mraz

Pastry from Bolley's Famous Franks
Life -  
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by my district manager and asked if I would be interested in transferring up to the Bangor area of Maine. We had lost or were going to lose a few managers up there and he felt that ultimately, even discounting that, they could benefit from my experience with the company. We are very tempted. We are centrally located right now here in Topsham, but we've never really liked the area. It's poorly laid out and most of the people here are oddly pretentious. We thought that living in what was essentially a college town would be fun, but apparently not when it's the illustrious Bowdoin University!
Not implying that the people of Brunswick are wieners.
We don't hate it here by any means, but Linz's job, which is run by fools is getting worse, with things like holding out on owed overtime (And paying it in cash when it is paid) and calling her off with virtually no notice. So we said we'd look into it. There are a ton of hotels up there, being so close to Acadia national park, so Linz should be able to find a job fairly well and we liked what we saw of the area on our initial jaunt up there.
We decided that the hunt deserved our full attention and asked one of Lindsay's friends, Jessica to look after the kids and we planned a trip. We called or emails 14 Realtors, asking them if they had any leads on Rent-to-own, fixer-uppers or rentals that would allow us, our two cats and our two dogs. We also called and left messages for around ten independent listings from newspapers and websites. Now, bear in mind, we started this process over a week  before we were planning the trip. By the time we left for the north, we had heard back from a grand total of three people.
Or the people that never called us back. Probably.

I was shocked. Maybe it was our email, or something, but no one got back to us and those that did was through a ridiculous series of phone tag and email tic tac toe. I don't know if it was because there really wasn't anything much in it for the agents or what, but I was dismayed at the unprofessionalism they displayed. Out west, even if it was a simply worded email response, we would have heard back from 90-95% of those contacted, guaranteed.
Whoopie Pie from Bolley's
But we loaded our mattress into the back of Stormalong and headed out anyway. We'd gotten  a babysitter, the first time the dogs had been watched by a non-family member, in fact, so why not use it? And we wanted to talk to a couple of mobile home and rental places too. (We had an appointment to look at a place, but it was out of our range a bit and the guy seemed very reluctant and odd.)
We really like the area up there. We stopped into Bolley's Famous Franks on the way and grabbed a couple of ridiculously good pastries and listened to local comedian Bob Marley talk about Cahs (Cars) and Sleds (Snowmobiles) on a CD. It was perfect weather. A little overcast but warm and calm, a far change from the last trip. We made a few last ditch calls on the way there and caught one other break, a possible house north of Bangor.

The house would have worked. It was a little small, but it had three little bedrooms and a decent yard. But the previous tenants KIDS had wrecked it, forcing them to replace the carpet and re-paint and the owners, who were clearly the "Management company"'s parents or close relations, judging by the way her kids ran to them when they showed up, decided that they didn't want to risk the pets. Which would have been fine, but they didn't tell us there - we had to call her and leave a message the next day and wait for her to call us back. Regardless of the fact that it had probably been decided 2 minutes after we drove away.
Naturally, we had to stop at a graveyard or two...
The other place we looked at was very nice. The owner had put a lot of work into it and had initially tried to sell it, but there was no takers. It was very unique, being a converted 2 car garage with an upper floor. One the main floor, there was a small laundry room, a living area, the master bedroom and a lavishly huge tub in a small bathroom. Upstairs, accessible only by an outside staircase or a very steep, small spiral staircase were two more bedrooms and a kitchen. It was very cute, had some decent land, but the spiral stairs would have been quite unnavigable for the boys, leaving us no choice but to use the outside stairs in all weather and seasons. And the place was almost $200 more than the place we're in now. Oh, and he was ridiculously overly protective of the place. I don;t blame him, it was awesome and pretty in it's own eclectic way, but it would have been a bad choice for us.
"Awesome Pizza"
Disillusioned, we ate some pizza. Awesome pizza, recommended by the cute 2-screen, family run theater where we later saw Thor. The pizza was thin, awesome and made by cool people and the movie was funny, action packed and very enjoyable. It almost made up for our crappy results. Afterwards, we went to Wal-mart, a gargantuan new structure that was possibly the largest one I've ever seen, and bought some water and a package of peas.

By then it was getting quite late and we cruised around for a bit, looking for a place to park for the night, eventually hitting the Walmart parking lot again and cuddling up in the back of the rig for the night.
The best omlette ever and homemade oatmeal toast!
The next morning was gloomy and rainy, which is our favorite kind of weather. We had a truly phenomenal breakfast at Martha's Diner. I had a corned beef hash omlette, which was thin on egg and thick on filling and cooked perfectly, while Linz enjoyed an asparagus and pepper quiche with real hollandaise sauce. Heavenly!
The Bar Harbor... maybe.
After breakfast, we drove into the Bar Harbor/Acadia area, just to check it out. It was beautiful and we can't wait to head back there for fun to explore. Then we met with David, a salesman at the mobile home and modular home place. He was the most efficient person we've met in regards to this whole ordeal. He had answers, offered us some solutions to our questions and was very friendly. We spent a good amount of time wandering in the houses and trailers, simply because we enjoy that kind of thing. After telling him we'd be in touch, we drove back Bangor way, passing through to the Orono and Old Town area. We'd seen a lot of reasonably priced homes here and wanted to see what we thought of the area. It was awesome. Small town feeling, almost Oregonian (Though that may have been the rain) but quite close to Bangor and less than an hour from Ellsworth.
Random Mobile Home
Finally, we decided we weren't going to accomplish anything more and turned towards home. Augusta is one of the few towns with a Michaels and Barnes & Noble stores in Maine, so we stopped off for a bit of shopping and popped into Bolley's again for dinner, where we found the food as delicious as the serving girl was surly (Very)
Again, not necessarily saying that people that never got back to us are wieners....
Back home, we were pleased to see that our dogs were still alive and kicking and turned in.

So are we moving? I have no idea. We don't love this place we're in, but we don't hate it. It's comfortable. We built an awesome porch off the back! But the stores up north would offer a better chance for promotion and we like the area better. We'll have to see...
The VERY full river in Orono


Friday, May 6, 2011

My Mom

Everyone else can debate this all you want, but my mom was the best mom ever. Still is. By herself, she worked full time, went to school and raised two very decent young kids. Money was always tight, but love and learning wasn't and I genuinely feel blessed to have grown up the way we did. I have virtually no pictures of her out here (I'd started to digitally convert all of our old family albums before moving out here and only got a few pages worth, and she was usually behind the camera) but here's a photo tribute to why my mom is the best.
She taught us to...
 Appreciate Music


Practice Good Personal Hygiene

To Love Animals

Exercise Daily

Get Plenty Of Sleep

Enjoy Nature

Manage Our Money

Create Works Of Art


How To Be A Superhero

 And An Outlaw

 How To Impress The Ladies

To Appreciate Wonder
 And Legos

 I love you, Mom!

 (There should really be a picture of me reading a book somewhere in there too, but I couldn't find one...)