Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Thanksgiving Recap

Thanksgiving was, I believe, a great success this year. Much food was enjoyed, much friendliness was experienced, and much entertainment was had. I do have a few notes on cooking that I thought I’d jot down for posterity.

  • Adding chives to the mashed potatoes was pretty, but made several people less willing to eat mashed potatoes. I was not one of them, but I am a gracious person, and I will not add them again. I may sprinkle on some parsley for color, but only on top, not mixed in.
  • Using real garlic in the milk/butter mixture for the mashed potatoes is a great improvement over the powder. Also, using a ridiculous amount of garlic overall is a good thing.
  • No regrets from using the biggest squash in the store, especially since I found equally huge apples.
  • The replacement of the raisins in the stuffing with a craisin/raisin/yellow raisin combination was awesome. Perhaps even more crasins could be added next time. And a pear. More fruit makes for better stuffing, me thinks. Oh, and a bit of a sharper onion might be a good idea, or perhaps more onion. Something was lacking on that end.
  • Apparently I need a sign for the plain vs. good stuffing. There was confusion, and some people were disappointed. Silly people. Use your eyes!
  • More gravy. I didn’t have enough to make the soup as thick as I would have liked.
  • An alternate scheme is required for the banana pie. It goes to mush too quickly, and people get mad when I have to throw out the runny goop that was once pie. Best idea so far: don’t put the bananas IN the pie, add them afterward. Perhaps preparing it in a tart pan would be a good idea. If I just did the crust and pudding, and added the bananas and cream on a per-serving basis.
  • Don’t forget the peas.

There was one unfortunate incident involving poor innocent Mimic. He got out on the screened porch, where the pies and drinks live, some time after dessert but before we went upstairs to play dominoes. He was out there for far too long and had to go to the litter box. He was a resourceful dude, though, and used an empty cardboard box (previously left out there for his lounging on nice days). He has forgiven me, thankfully. He has also recovered from the large number of guests, having spent last night playing, pouncing, and meowing up a storm. He’s not a shy kitten, in that he’ll come out to visit with guests, and even allow pets. But he is more subdued around strangers, to the point where many people don’t believe us that he’s a chatty cat.

But aside from that, I think everything else was wonderful. We even went bowling!

I hope you had an equally nice Thanksgiving.

Now to get the Christmas stuff ready…

December 1st, 2009 • 11:57 am • dinane • Posted in Cats, Family, Food1,907 Comments »

Holy Thanksgiving, Batman!

So, lately, I have been obsessed with food. Reading transcripts of Good Eats on the Fan Page, watching every “Dear Food Network” Thanksgiving episode, reading all sorts of recipes for engineers… All in preparation for cooking my first Thanksgiving meal. But now, that’s all over. So how will I continue my food obsession? Why, by posting all of my Thanksgiving recipes here, of course!

But why would I post them now, as I write this, in December of 2008? That seems silly. I mean, writing them now makes sense – it’s all fresh in my mind. But posting them? Naw, I think I’ll hold on to these until November of 2009. So, as you read this, maybe you’ll be preparing for your Thanksgiving’s Official Day of Shopping, or TODS, as I called it. And maybe you’re wondering about other ideas. And maybe, just maybe, you’re as obsessed with food as I was in November of 2008, and are looking for as many recipes as possible, just to fill the addiction.

So, here we shall start, at part one of a many-part series, with a full listing of our Thanksgiving menu, 2008.

As the recipes or techniques are added, you’ll find them linked from this first post. I hope you are enjoying the planning of your Thanksgiving meal, and that you will have as much fun making it as I did.

November 5th, 2009 • 10:33 am • dinane • Posted in Family, Food346 Comments »

As If!

The Internets are full of lies. Lies! There’s no such thing as a day without cats. To prove it, here is a picture of my cat. His name is Mimic and he is awesome.

Mimic and his comet tail toy thingy, which is escaping his grasp!
Mimic loves to play “catch” with this doodad, which they sent as a bonus when I ordered a bunch of other toys.

And since just having a picture of a cat doesn’t seem like enough to counter a day without cats, I think I’ll tell the story of how he came to be our little furkid. See, my husband and I are both rather allergic to cats. To visit our friends’ houses, where cats live, we have to take Claritin, and that is often only enough to get us through a couple hours. So you can imagine my crankiness as I drove up to my friend’s house for a nostalgic sleepover party as I spotted a big and fluffy orange tabby in the window.

Turns out, Iggy – for that is his name – is a Siberian cat. Siberians are a beautiful breed of cat, if I do say so – and I do, so you know it’s true. And it just so happens that many of the family lines are low-allergen. I won’t bore you with the whole of the science, but just enough to tell you that the allergens are in cat spit – not their fur. So contrary to what people think – Mimic is not a hairless cat. In fact, as you are seeing, he is quite the fuzzball!

After meeting Iggy, and spending the night in his house without needing any allergy medicine, I did a bunch of research. I looked into breeders nearby and those far away. Learned everything there was to learn. Looked at millions of pictures. And after all that, decided to contact Iggy’s breeder.

We found ourselves second on the list for 2009, and in February, on Valentine’s Day, we went up to New Hampshire to meet some kittens. At the time, the breeder thought there were two girls and two boys in the litter – all 6 weeks old. Not ready to go home, but definitely full of personality already. We thought we’d be more interested in a girl cat, purely for size reasons. Siberian males can be huge, and we weren’t mentally equipped for that. Since one of the known-boys was already taken, he was in another room. We let the other known-boy hang out with his momcat, while we met the two “girls.” As soon as the breeder handed me a kitten, the kitten tried to escape. “She” wanted nothing to do with me, and eventually made her way to the heater, where she hid for most of the rest of our visit. The kitten Mike held first, however, looked him square in the face and “meep”ed! I knew then that “she” was the one.

We played with them a bit more, and talked with the breeder. While I was dealing with paperwork, Mike went off to check on our choice, who was hiding out in a cat condo. Mike looked in and tilted his head. Mimic tilted his head to match. Mike tilted his further, then Mimic, then Mike, then Mimic tilted his head so far he fell over. After that, Mimic let Mike hold him for as long as he wanted.

Mimic hanging on to Mike's shirt.
Mimic was so tiny when we met him. He’s more than quadrupled in size, and still has some serious growing to do.

Of course we thought he was a girl… Two weeks later, I got an email from the breeder, who seemingly nervously explained that she had been mistaken, and in fact all four kittens were boys. Of course we were already in love, so there was no question – we still wanted him. We just adjusted our pronouns and changed the chosen name – and the name Mimic seems so much more perfect anyway!

When Mimic was 10 weeks old, we got a report card and a picture. He was very sociable, and begging anyone who came nearby for pets. He loved on everyone and was a quick learner. He was perfect.

Mimic sitting all handsome at 10 weeks old.
This picture was taken by the breeder – Mary at Branch River.

We were finally able to take him home at 15 weeks, after much waiting and impatience, and a poorly-timed vacation. He meowed at the top of his lungs for the whole car ride, but it only took him a couple hours to decide that he was home.

Mimic passed out on the armrest of the sofa next to Mike.
Moving home was exhausting!

We just love our crazy little fuzzball.

So there, Internets! SO THERE!

September 9th, 2009 • 12:51 pm • dinane • Posted in Cats, Family1,033 Comments »


Mike and I trade off on holidays. In even years, my family “gets” us for Thanksgiving, and his for Christmas. In odd years, such as 2007, we do the reverse. This year’s Thanksgiving was not too unlike that of two years ago. The major changes being a reduction in the number of pies and the absence of Kate. After the traditional (though less exciting without Kate) shopping-of-crazy, Mike’s mom and I were heading south along 93 to our house. I called Mike to let him and his father know that we were on our way, and Mike gave me a heads up.

“The heat’s broken.”

He continued to give me some more details about the problem, and to tell me that he’d called the home warranty people. Thankfully we have that home warranty, which we might not have considered getting on our own. Thank you home sellers!

So we spent Friday night huddling under blankets, watching movies on HBO, and waiting patiently for the on-call plumber to come. That is, after being on hold with the warranty people approximately eight dozen times and finally getting the direct number to the plumbing company. He eventually did come after midnight, apprentice in tow.

They smelled of stale cigarettes and coffee, and looked just slightly more tired than I would prefer for someone who’s coming in to work on my house, but on the Friday after Thanksgiving, ones options are more than a little bit limited. We showed them the boiler, and went upstairs to watch more movies on HBO. Every few minutes, the apprentice would go by, go out the front door, and come back in carrying yet another tool. “New guy carries the tools.”

Suddenly, it started to get warmer. I stuck my hand behind the sofa, and felt the warmth of working heat. I did a little celebratory dance in my head, and looked forward to the guys leaving the house so I could sleep.

The big guy finally came upstairs and asked me to get the work order number from the warranty people. I acquired that, and their phone number, and handed it off to him. He went outside and came back in several minutes later with his cell phone on speaker. “Yeah, I’ve heard that hold music before.” He disappeared for a while back to the basement, presumably to clean up his crap.

When he came back upstairs, he handed me his phone, and I got our official “emergency approval number” or some such crap. Normally, I guess, they wouldn’t approve of paying overtime for the contractors, and would have made us wait until Monday. I took down the emergency number and rolled my eyes as they told me that I’d pay him and they’d reimburse me later. Lame! Even the plumber didn’t think it would work that way, and he went back out to his truck to make a different invoice. I wrote him a check, careful to make sure my carbon copy came out clean, and took our copy of the invoice.


The next morning, we woke up slowly. Well, everyone else did. I was up early because my brain refuses to sleep past 7:00. Lucky for me (and the people sleeping in our house), the new guitar for Rock Band has a silent strum bar :).

Eventually, breakfast was had, and we got in the car to go to Boston. Instead of a play this year, we went to the Museum of Science, and “Experienced” CSI. It was pretty cool, though not at all what I was expecting. And we never did find the miniatures. We topped off the night with a trip to my favorite restaurant, and were soon on our way back home.

Home, sweet… Damn! It’s effing freezing in here!

We repeated the shivering of the night before, while I called the warranty people again. Hold! I talked to a guy who mumbled and made no sense, but who seemed to eventually get that we should be approved for emergency again, as it was even colder than the day before. I asked if I should call the plumber myself, but he assured me that they would do it and follow their procedures.

So, we settled in for another evening of HBO movies. An hour into our second bank-robbery-related movie in as many days, Mike checked online. They still hadn’t updated our account with a new work order! So, back on hold. I swear, they have the most annoying hold music ever. And this time, I was on hold long enough to make it to the second (and even more annoying) song.

I made annoyed mutterings at the guy who finally answered, and he gave me “permission” to call the plumbers directly. The call-center person took our name, address, and phone number and said she’d page Dean, the plumber who came the day before. He called back shortly afterwards, sounding very annoyed that our heat only breaks at night. I apologized, telling him how the warranty company had screwed us both out of our proper sleep, but with his cranky attitude, I was afraid he’d never come.

After the movie was over, I called the call-center back again, because he hadn’t come. They took the name, address, and phone number again, saying they’d page him again. I made sure he was the one who was supposed to be on call – I would feel bad if they paged him on his true day off just because he had done the work the day before. But she assured me that Dean was the on-call guy for heat that day.

Eventually, we heard the welcome sounds of their truck from the street. Mike’s parents had both gone to bed, and it was once again after midnight. They went downstairs and the same ritual of running tools commenced. After quite some time, they came up and said they needed to go out for a smoke. Less than promising, because that implied to me that they had not yet determined the problem.

After another hour or so of them clanking on things in the basement, he came up. I looked up hopefully from my blanket cocoon, but he told us he had bad news. The “computer board” was fried. He suspected that it had shorted the part he’d replaced the night before, and had finally given up itself. Unfortunately, they don’t carry around circuit boards for every make and model of boiler, so we’d have to wait until Monday for him to track one down. And even if he found one then, it might need to be shipped. So in reality, we’d be heat-free until Tuesday at the earliest. He advised us to get space heaters first thing in the morning.

So, we blew up the air mattress upstairs, where it was still warm due to the remaining electric heat (suddenly, it doesn’t seem so bad to have mixed heat). We huddled under blankets and slept fitfully until my cell phone alarm went off at 7:00. I ventured downstairs to find that the temperature had dropped almost down to 50. Shivering, I gathered some clothes and went back upstairs. Mike did the same and we waited for a few minutes before putting them on, so they would warm up.

Home Depot!

We bought three space heaters, two large and one small. When we got home, Mike’s mom was up and wondering why the guy never came. We explained that that wasn’t the case, and went on to get the devices running. By noon, the temperature was a much more moderate 68, and by the time Mike’s parents left in the afternoon, we had to turn the space heaters down because it was getting to be too warm.

So, we wait. Wait for word from Dean the plumber. Please call us. Please say you’ll bring by the part today and install it. We like heat. And we like not paying through the nose for our electric bill…

November 26th, 2007 • 11:11 am • dinane • Posted in Family, House, Life118 Comments »

NO Carry On!

I had one hell of an interesting experience on Saturday.

When we were growing up, my dad always sung the UConn fight song to my sister and I. Usually during bath time. But anyway, as a result, I have the damn thing memorized. And that came in quite handy at the new stadium the other day.

Sa got Mike and I tickets to the UConn vs. Cincinnati game. It was quite the adventure. She was mostly interested in getting us to come with to the pre-game parking-lot tail-gating bash. Apparently, all of the ex-band members get together and have a themed tail-gate for every game. There was a Mexican day, which comes up in conversation from time to time as being a very drunk day for my sister. But this week was apparently Thanksgiving. Someone brought an entire turkey. It all went.

We, of course, did not get the theme memo until after we’d hit the grocery store on Friday. We just went for some standards and got a couple different kinds of sausages and rolls to put them in. We also picked up a six-pack of girly beers and a twelve-pack of Coors Light.

We arrived in the grassy muddy lot at around 9:30. In the morning. Yes, we did intend to eat sausage and drink beer that early. We joined up with Sa’s group, and trust me, we were not the morningest of morning people among them. There were definitely some people already half drunk, and the turkey was almost completely picked apart. The next car over had a beirut table set up behind it, and games were definitely in session (though I did hear one guy claiming to be too old for early games).

At first, I have to say, it was terrifying for me. My sister’s roommate wasn’t there, and her closer friends seemed to be hidden (though one of us had talked to her on the phone only minutes before). I finally caved and took out a girly beer. (In case you care, we chose raspberry non-beer-beer.) Soon, two things happened. My anxiety calmed, and Sa found Phil.

Phil was definitely the captain of the tail-gate party. He owned the grill. He manned the table. People asked him if they could have a beer (in that case mostly because he was sitting on the cooler…). He was also a pretty nice guy, and very accommodating to our theme-free additions. In fact, he was particularly impressed by Mike’s choice of cheese filled sausage. Many people were, in fact, and the entire package was eaten rather quickly. The kielbasa didn’t take that much longer to get scarfed down either.

As I was finishing up my kielbasa (something about cheese in a sausage feels… wrong… to me), my sister asked me an unusual question. My answer was a skeptical yes, and soon we were both holding cranberry-jello shots. Oh the craziness of it. The girl who made it was very nice to me and gave me a vague approximation of the recipe. Two cans of cranberry sauce, two packets of cranberry jello, orange rum, orange juice, and vodka (amounts unknown, but probably enough to total the required liquid for the jello). Let me tell you, it was quite delicious.

Soon, it was time to pack up. We trodded our chairs and water back to the car, after donating the rest of the “silver bullets” to the college kids. My sister and I were finishing up the last two girly beers as we walked from her car (which, by the way, needs new brake pads NOW) to the stadium. We gulped down the last drops as we got to the kind police officer directing traffic. Across the street and in.

We had to go in through separate gates, as my sister is still a student. We passed each other in our attempts to meet in the middle, but cell phones eventually sorted that out. Bathrooms were visited, and our seats were claimed.

See, my sister had no intention of letting us go off to the middle of nowhere to watch the game from the last row. Apparently, no one gives a rat’s ass whether or not the students are the ones sitting in the student seats. The student seating area is all open seating, and apparently all of the alumni hanging out at that tail-gate all just squeeze right in with the rest of the crazy students.

Behind the saxophone section.

Oh, right, I forgot to mention, we were sitting right next to the band. My sister is in her fifth year of a five-year program as a string-centric music education major. Her freshman year, she was a member of the color guard, just like she was in high school. But apparently those girls annoyed her (she has a shorter fuse than I do), so she decided to pick up a marching instrument. She told me the other day that she picked the baritone horn because it was a C-tuned instrument that wasn’t a trombone or a flute. The trombone frightened her and she apparently has a mental block that prevents her from changing the pitch on a flute.

Anyway, throughout the game, my sister ran off to visit and hug various people. Mostly boys. I’ll get over that eventually. She introduced me to her accompanist, who apparently also plays xylophone in the band pit. And somewhere shortly after that introduction, my sister caught a T-shirt that was shot out of some kind of slingshot or something (I didn’t actually see it fired, I just saw her arm snatch it out of the sky).

Eventually, the game itself began. UConn didn’t look so bad at first. They had a good opening drive, and scored and everything. Also, during that drive, I came to understand a couple things about marching band that I never knew before. They are not allowed to sit throughout the game, unless a player is injured. They play some kind of something after almost every play. And, even though there were dedicated people with this job description, they really were the cheer leaders. It was loud.

I liked it.

There was a complex set of rules as to who picks what is played or chanted and for how long. Some guy on a headset was in charge of making sure no rules were broken. The drum line occasionally started up a chant on their own. But mostly, it was the drum major, making peculiar hand signals for short cheers and writing song titles on a white board for the long ones, who got to make the decisions. Even when the band started chanting for their favorite song, the drum major did not give in. He just appended his response to their subordination to the bottom of the white board. Much to wide disappointment, there would be no “Carry On my Wayward Son” that day.

We watched the half-time show from up where my parents’ season tickets are. My dad is a member of the alumni society, so they have tickets around the 45 yard line, and also get a catered meal before every game. My sister is definitely band-people. The half-time show seemed more important to her than the game. Also, she was in shock that the Huskies were winning after two well-played quarters.

We got some snacks on our way back to our seats… I mean… locations where we stood to watch the game. The cheering and chanting resumed. The most amusing one was the red-zone cheer: “Stick it in, stick it in, stick it in!”

The game was going so well… until the Huskies missed a point after, allowed Cincinnati to tie the game, fumbled, and let them win. Apparently, this is not abnormal. My sister claims that she was more upset in the first half because she knew that the winning attitude would only make the eventual downfall that more painful.

Stupid losing.

After the game, we did something I did not expect. We climbed up to the second tier at the fifty yard line, and watched all three of the season’s half-time shows strung together. Band people. You know, if I’d have gone to a high school or college with a marching band, I can almost see myself as one of them. But as someone who’s never marched holding an instrument or flag, it is a little foreign to me. After the show was over, the students on the field and the alumni (and my sister who quit band this year because it doesn’t fit in her schedule) all joined together, arm in arm, to sing the alma matter. Oh how cute.

My anxiety was returning, but that’s okay, because we were about to be on our way home.

My brain is still today singing, “Connecticut UConn Huskies, symbol of might to the foe…”

November 27th, 2006 • 9:11 am • dinane • Posted in Family, Music, SportsComments Off on NO Carry On!

Stay for a While (part five of a series)

(Start from the beginning)

It was approaching the hour of the Dave, so the lines for the beer were getting longer. Still, there were people unfamiliar with the territory. People who didn’t want a paper bracelet. People who wanted more than one beer. Rules is rules, kids! I patiently waited for the crazies to get out of my way, and asked the lady behind the stand for one beer. She looked hopelessly in her drawer of cash and said, “I don’t have change, you’ll have to wait.”

As people who are around me know, I always have singles on me. In fact, I generally have at least ten singles, if not as many as twenty or more, on me. But they are precious. They are for parking. Exact change is required to park at Oak Grove, and I don’t want to ever be caught without. So you have to understand that I must have been feeling exceptionally nice (or feeling the effects of beer… who knows!) when I offered to pay her in singles (eight of them… but such is the way when you buy beer at a concert). She was eternally grateful, and smiled as she handed me my plastic bottle – cap removed.

I headed then back to my seat, my ticket scrutinized at every step along the way (how did X get over to our section anyway?). When I got back, X seemed to have made himself comfortable in the seat on the other side of my sister. I looked at my sister’s face, and no pained “get him away” emanated from it, so I just went with it. And had another sip of my beer.

The lights took that very opportune moment to dim. Massive cheering ensued, and suddenly we could see the outline of a familiar lanky body on the stage. The cheering got louder, and the lights grew brighter, and some familiar chords came out of the massive speakers. They were accompanied by the tinkling of chimes and the tick of light symbols. I knew this song!

I cannot express to you how excited I was to hear “One Sweet World” at the start of the concert. Not because it is my absolute favorite Dave Matthews song or anything, but because it’s old-school, and therefore I know it. Of course, so did the rest of the audience, and we all sang and danced along. This was not to be a safe, sit-in-your-seat show. Dave Matthews fans are high energy (and sometimes sans-energy… *cough*) and we all participated, making a particularly … special attempt at the high notes in the second bridge. It’s a good thing those speakers were so good!

My sister was momentarily distracted at the start of the song. “Boyd and I match!” My sister is a violist and also dabbles in the five-string electric violin. Boyd, the violinist for Dave Matthews Band, is her hero. I cannot express in words how excited and jumpy and happy she was to see that she had matched her wardrobe to Boyd’s. And really, it wasn’t the most normal of outfits. Okay, the red shirt was pretty normal, but who the hell wears silver pants?

The song ended in roaring cheers, and that so familiar voice thanked us. Man, I don’t know what it is about sound for me. I know some people say it’s a smell that brings them back to a place, but for me it’s more often a sound. Dave Matthew’s unique speaking voice caught my memory’s attention, and at once I could remember back to the two shows I’d been to back in high school. I could remember vividly our crazy endeavors at making our own shirts – my sister and I, along with our best friends – one each, each also named Sarah (although one without the ‘h’).

I had drawn a stick figure sitting on top of a crude drawing of our “sweet world,” but of course I wasn’t referring to that song. In fact, when I had drawn it, I had also written the inspiring lyrics below: “Sittin’ on top of the world with your legs hangin’ free!” For the shirt, though, we went with a more simplified, “Dave Matthews Band.” My sister’s friend Sarah had her mom help her stitch the graphic onto some T-shirts my sister picked up from Express. I almost wished I had worn the shirt, but then I remembered what I didn’t know then. It is never cool to wear the T-shirt of the band you are currently seeing at the concert. This is a fact I had been recently remind of because there was a dude in front of us who was not cool in so many ways that wearing a Dave Matthews Band shirt might have started him back up towards cool….

Dave and company continued on in their set and hit a couple more songs I know by heart. See, what I haven’t told you is that I was totally a Dave Matthews Band fan first. My sister stole it from me, along with the X-Files. But I suppose I can forgive her. Anyway, though, I know a lot of Dave Matthews Band songs by heart, and I like that he played the ones I know for a good part of the show.

I liked even more that after “Proudest Monkey” he segued straight into my favorite song: “Satellite.” And this brought up more memories from the first time I saw Dave Matthews Band. I had only recently gotten my first guitar, and like any rabid fan, I wanted to learn all my favorite songs. “Satellite” was first on the list. Only, it’s a really hard song! I had worked with a friend of mine who was much better on the guitar than me for months trying to learn it before I came up with a better fingering. I was very excited, and told my friend that my way was obviously better. And how vindicated I felt when I saw him that first time, and there he was, moving his hand in exactly the pattern I had taught myself!

The next song, “Grey Street,” was familiar to me, but not in my full memorized song catalog. But I did enjoy dancing and singing the occasional chorus. The audience was jamming, and the balloons were flying.

Balloons! Of course! Seriously, I should have mentioned these already, as the came out just as Dave came out on stage. Unlike the un-clever and more expensive beach balls, someone had brought in a pile-ton of balloons. I thought it was a great idea. They take longer to fall, and don’t obstruct as much view. We were constantly excited to be batting them up in the air. My sister even caught one!

As they started the next song, I realized two things. First, I didn’t recognize the song at all. My sister told me the name, and I promptly forgot it. Ants Marching” tells me now that it is “The Idea of You.” I took the opportunity to take care of the second thing I realized. I was going to have to pay the consequences of my three beers at some point.

The bathrooms were surprisingly clean. My only previous memory of them involved no toilet paper save that which stuck to my shoe. This was much better. There was even paper towels to dry my hands with after I washed them.

Only about fifty-five guys checked my ticket as I returned to my seat this time. As I walked in, I could hear another awesome tune playing. I literally danced in the aisles back to my seat to “What Would You Say.”

When I got back to my seat, I spied X looking ever so… I hate to say it… longingly at my sister. My face bunched up, and I just involved my sister in some more dancing. I guess X wasn’t ever going to go back to his own seat. Oh well. At least my sister was properly giving him a mostly cold shoulder and paying most of her attention to me. Okay, to Dave, but whatever.

The next song held no interest for me, because it was too new for me. The internet tells me that it was “Big Eyed Fish.” But the next song was frickin’ awesome. It was “Bartender.” Now my sister and I had both gotten our favorite songs. You would have thought the entire audience was on “bended knee” praying. It is so awesome to go to a show where everyone is totally into it.

I should mention that I am kind of a peculiar concert goer. I want to hear the songs I know, but I don’t want to hear them in radio edit style. My favorite things to see are often reduced groups (Ben Folds sans his Five, Dido and a guy with a guitar) because they force ingenuity and creativity. Dave Matthews Band can do that without being changed. I love that.

So this show basically held two of my favorite concert things.

I’d march you through the rest of the songs in the show, but I feel like I’m running out of memories to associate with them. Let’s just say I enjoyed the dancing and singing and balloon batting greatly. I knew when it was coming to an end, though, as the familiar riff rang in the air. “Ants Marching” was an obvious set closer. And as the lights went down (we didn’t “up and die”), we all cheered as loud as we possibly could.

I reached down to bang on the seat in front of me, and my sister stopped me. “That hurts! Don’t do it!” I didn’t listen. It didn’t hurt that bad. But I did get bored of it. We talked about how the encore system really works. The audience makes lots of noise, and generally likes to think they are encouraging the band to come back on stage. But the reality is, they’ll come back once they get to drink a beer and take a piss. There’s only so fast that can be done.

But they came back, and with a vengeance. They rocked and jammed through “Everyday,” and then I could feel the end coming. I wanted to stay, and the song wanted me to “Stay,” but eventually it had to be over, and we herded ourselves back out to our waiting cars.

Sa’s plastic red vehicle offered us a place to nap and wait for the traffic to clear up. We also ate Cheerios and talked about things that matter to us. It was awesome. And finally, when she got up the courage, we cut through the opening in the fence, over some muddy puddles, up a steep hill, and back onto the road.

I didn’t get home until 3:00 AM.

But I didn’t mind.

August 4th, 2006 • 2:08 pm • dinane • Posted in Family, Life, Music9 Comments »

Stay for a While (part four of a series)

(Start from the beginning)

Some of you gentle readers may recall that I have recently discovered that my foot is… well, not technically broken… but broken in respect that it doesn’t work properly. Broken like if you wrote some code and it worked… but it was slower than the slowest snail in the forest. Ultimately, I couldn’t walk fast. But everyone around us could – and did. We tried to stay out of their way as we trudged up the muddy hill and over the highway barrier.

The mass of people walking along the road was bustling with excitement. Some people were humming songs, and some just sipping out of the classic red Solo cups that remind me of college. The storms seemed to have completely cleared out and it was turning out to be a really nice night.

As we crested the hill (a.k.a. bridge over the highway) I politely refused a water very similar to our own from a man with a cooler. An enterprising man, he was. It appeared he just went to BJ’s or Costco or something and bought several flats of Poland Spring. From my theatre cafe running experience, I know those things cost about 40 cents each in such a form. He was selling them for a buck – a price that most of the sidewalk crowd found very appealing.

As we got closer, some vaguely familiar sounds started coming from the mouths of several young guys. “Tickets? Anyone got tickets? Selling tickets? Buying tickets?” But something was wrong with the sound. It took me a second, but I realized that the problem was the lack of thick Boston accents. This wasn’t Fenway, this was the ____ Music Center! And this isn’t any baseball game, this is a Dave Matthews Band concert!

I’m sorry, my dear Red Sox. I can’t pay attention to you today.

We finally arrived at the gate and wormed our way into a line. I prepared myself for a full beat down by some security guards. From my sister’s descriptions, I fully expected to have my bag dumped out, and my water bottle opened and sloshed all over my stuff. None of this happened, of course. All that happened was a guy peered into my bag and nodded. I was almost disappointed. But not really.

Some lady cut me off as I got into the line to present my ticket. She had three print-it-yourself tickets, which meant her scan was good for the two people who had subsequently cut my sister off behind me. Somewhere in the shuffle, I did get my ticket scanned and I backed out of the way so the rest of the pushy entourage could get through. They did, but then something that the ticket scanning employees must dread happened. All the scanners stopped working.

They all looked so confused and lost. It was like their eyes had been swiped away by some magical force and they now had to navigate life with only their other four senses. It took them a few minutes to reorganize, but eventually a managerial looking person taught them each how to rip tickets. It was just like the “olden days.”

So my sister’s ticket was ripped and she came through with a pout on her face. I traded tickets with her, knowing that she would want the perfectly in tact sparkling ticket that she was so excited to show me. We organized ourselves briefly, and then split off to our various endeavors, promising to meet at the seats.

I was in search of beer. Days like that deserve beer. I asked a Bud Lite stand how to get a paper wrist band, and it turns out she was able to just give me one. Of course, I won’t drink Bud Lite without being under some form of duress, so I quickly escaped once I had been tagged as over 21 but under 35. I found myself a Sam Adams stand and waited only briefly. This person wanted to see both my ID and my wrist band… whatever… and also wanted me to pay her for beer. Okay. I can handle that.

I took my plastic cup (not red) and drew a long sip and started wandering around the grounds. I then decided that I’d like to be tipsy enough to be willing to dance through the concert, so I drew another long sip. Okay, call it a gulp. Maybe a glug. Whatever. It wasn’t long before my cup was empty.

My intention, of course, was to follow that with another. But what followed was the most terrifying feeling ever. I suddenly had that horrible sick feeling in my belly that reminded me of this one time (literally only one time) I had an incident involving alcohol and matching a Scotch-German man drink for drink. I thought it was all coming back for a revisit.

I wasn’t really sure what to do. I searched for a trash can, but they were all too tall. So I tossed my cup into one, and sat down hoping the wave would pass me by. I started wracking my brain as to why the hell one beer could make me feel as sick as approximately 14 shots of hard and harder liquor had done four years earlier.

Sitting wasn’t good. I stood up again, and headed for a tree. Why a tree? I don’t now. But it’s what I did. I put my left hand on the tree, my right hand on my stomach, bent over in that way that only happens when… and then… I burped.

I let out a belch unlike any I had ever heard outside of fictional television. It rang loud and long, and it was like an entire balloon of air had popped in my stomach and spilled out through my upper digestive system. Not a food particle to be found. No puking, thank goodness, but seriously! That was impossibly insane.

I instantly felt better.

So I got another beer.

I also spotted my sister waiting in line in front of one of the odd vendor types floating around the grounds outside of the amphitheatre. She was waiting in line to spin a wheel. I watched, hoping for her sake she’d win something cool, but then I realized there was nothing cool to be won. The best “prize” was one of those CD visor things you put in your car – and it had a logo of some random dot-com I’ve never heard of on it. She didn’t win that. She won an iPod sock (also with logo). She offered it to me, reminding me that she thinks iPods suck (for shame), but I politely refused, stating that my lovely Sweet Pea had a sock already, and it was prettier.

Sa through the sock into her new sack. While I was having my episodes with beer, she was off buying various Dave Matthews Band things. (One might call her a fan. In the truest sense of the word. As in fanatic.) She had a new sack, the kind which can be either a backpack or a purse, depending on how you pull the strings through, and a poster, which was rolled up into a hard cardboard tube and sticking up through the opening of her sack. She also almost bought a T-shirt, but was concerned because the “Sarah-blue” one (she laid claim to the color turquoise when she was about 10 – as if you can own a color) had a whale on it, and she’s not a big fan of marine sea life (actually she’s petrified of it – stories for another time).

She led the way to our seats, by way of approximate eighty guys wanting to make sure we belonged in that section, and we sat in to enjoy us some opening band action. *Cough* Okay, we pretended not to hate it while we carried on having conversation.

Then I heard an unexpected voice. My sister relatively recently stopped dating this boy, we’ll call him X, after their being together for like 2 and a half years. I never got the full story of the breakup, and wasn’t really sure what he was doing looking for her at the show. My sister isn’t nearly the kind of emotional person I am, and she’s hard to read. So when he came over, and she acknowledge his existence, I just went with it.

Actually, I polished off my beer and went with going to get another one…

August 3rd, 2006 • 8:41 am • dinane • Posted in Family, Life, Music159 Comments »

Stay for a While (part three of a series)

(Start from the beginning)

I was able to think a little more clearly as we picked out what we would bring with us. We minimized our baggage, going down to the true essentials. Cell phones, cash, photo IDs, tickets. She showed me the tickets, very excitedly. They were green and had sparkling dragonflies embossed on them. Apparently, if you’re in the fan club, you get perks like sparkly tickets. I think she might have been mad at me for being less than impressed.

We went out to the car, and I dumped my random junk in my back seat. We were in her car, her key was on its way to the ignition, and she asked, “Do you have any water bottles in your car?” It just so happened that I did, so I told her I’d get a couple. But that wasn’t good enough. She was concerned that they’d open the bottles and take away the caps – apparently they have done this to her in the past. So she had to run inside and find more bottle caps. Great. Not leaving yet.

I grabbed four bottles of water, and threw two of them in the back seat of her plastic Saturn. (Not that I have anything against plastic Saturns. I drove one just like it, except it was green, for several years. Just that I’d forgotten what it was like to ride in one.) The other two bottles went into my purse, along with a cap from the water I had drunk in the car on the way down. Sa shortly returned carrying a bottle cap… and a giant Tupperware full of Cheerios.

I didn’t question.

She threw the Cheerios to the back and the cap to my bag, and we took off. One would think we were heading to the concert venue, but that was not the case. First we had to stop by one of her friends’ house to drop off a birthday card. It was her birthday, see, and she was having a party, but Sa couldn’t come on account of it being the High Holy Day of Sarah-Hood: Dave Matthews Is In Connecticut Weekend. For at least eight years, my sister has seen every Dave Matthews Band concert that showed up at the continually renamed (Meadows)[CT Meadows]{ Meadows}<>New England Dodge Music Center in Hartford.

But before anything partiful or musical could happen, we had to get some food. The discussion of where to eat went something like this:

“I’m hungry.”
“There’s no food in the house, Mom and Dad are still at the Cape.”
“Where should we go?”
“That was supposed to be your job to figure out.”
“I’m hungry.”
“So let’s get food.”
“How about Subway.”
“Hm… I wonder where there’s a Subway on the way…”
“There’s a Blimpie, I think. It’s next to the Dunkin’ Donuts.”
“Let’s go to Dunkin’ Donuts.”
“Egg sandwiches are good food.”
“I love egg and cheese sandwiches.”
“Egg and cheese sandwich for dinner, donut for dessert. Fabulous!”

So, off we went.

Only Sa took a wrong turn at the end of my parents street.

“We’re going to Subway after all?”
“No, I’m on autopilot.”

She made a quick left and we were back heading towards Windsor and then Hartford. It was fortuitous that she made this error, because I could just now see the 7-Eleven over the crest of the hill.

“Lip gloss! Can we stop and get me some lip gloss?”

She obliged, but left the car running in the parking lot. I ran in, paid my $1.99 (no tax…?), and hopped back in while applying the balm liberally. Two out of my three needs had been handled, and in pretty good time.

The Double D was only a couple blocks further up the road and we were soon pulling into (and through… *ahem*) a parking space. There was no line inside, but that didn’t mean we wouldn’t wait. Car after car went through the drive-through, and the only lady working the dinner shift at the primarily breakfast-oriented shop was overwhelmed. We patiently waited, and finally she was able to make our sandwiches. Mine on sesame (to which Sa said “Eewww…”) and hers on whole wheat (which I pointed out could never be as chewy as a real bagel). We then selected a couple frosted donuts and some sodas and we were on the road again.

A brief trip over the Connecticut River, and we were heading to her friend’s house. Sa had printed out directions. But not MapQuest directions, and not Google Maps directions. Not even MSN’s crappy directions. She printed out directions that she had written herself in a Word document based on some descriptions from her friend. Yeah. That worked out well.

After we turned around for the third time, we were finally heading down the hill that my lovely sister had failed to include in her directions before “third left.” Fabulous. I don’t know how my sister could ever function in the real world without a mobile phone.

Parking. Introductions. Happy Birthday! Hugs. Card. Chatting. More chatting. More chatting.

Here’s a note of interest. I have absolutely nothing in common with high school teachers. They were all talking about the intricacies of getting students to pay attention and about how standardized testing is the bane of America’s existence. I kept my mouth shut and occasionally gave my sister “don’t we have to go soon” looks.

Finally she agreed, and we were off. Back to the highway, and south just a little bit. We got off at an exit that is familiar to me. It’s the Saturn dealership! Many a family vehicle were purchased there. Okay, by many I mean exactly three. One red, one purple, and one green. Of the three, a family member only owns the purple one now, and I was sitting right in it. The red one was traded in for a minivan, and the green one was donated to charity when my lovely Haley (dark blue Jetta) came to me (after of course I promised to pay for it in monthly installments).

In any case, were were now in Hartford, the lovely (*cough*) capital of Connecticut. We were also now in traffic. Lots of traffic. Nasty traffic. Concert traffic!

Sa passed up lot after lot of $20 parking. Then as we got closer the prices bumped up to $25. And as we passed the music center… prices drooped again… to free. Why anyone pays $20 to park just as far away as the free parking, I will never know. But we were happy to take the spaces they left behind. We double checked our things (mostly that we had the tickets) and started our journey towards the beckoning amphitheatre…

August 2nd, 2006 • 9:46 am • dinane • Posted in Family, Life, MusicComments Off on Stay for a While (part three of a series)
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