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Saturday, December 30, 2006

I get some weird spam. . .

but this one took the cake:

From: "Karina Sierra"
To: netcrimes@netcrimes.net
Subject: Re: REPLY
Date: Sat, 23 Dec 2006 23:04:28 +0500

The imaginative pork chop, an anomaly about a food stamp, and the fried scythe are what made America great!
You didnt know exactly where to find the gotta, but you always knew when you did.
A submarine about some chess board is statesmanlike. For example, the judge indicates that a lover defined by a tripod ignores the muddy reactor.
Yeah, he supposed he would get through it, if the goddam typewriter held together.

------------------

It snowed this morning and most of the day. I got to try out a Toro Power Shovel I'd bought last spring at Home Depot for $50. It works very well. I felt like SNOW WOMAN!

After the first shoveling, I tackled Chris' office, rearranging things, trying to put manuals together for the computer and music items, going through the bookshelf, drawers and closets. I found a stack of commendations and certificates of promotion from the Marine Corps. I saw how much the Marines loved him and were so proud of him. Why couldn't he have thought of that and be alive today?

It was hard going through his things. I hate this part. I looked at all the medals he had been awarded and put them in a wooden memory box I'm making to keep safe. I went through all his baseball style hats (he had more than I have shoes, ha ha) and separated the new/like new to the ones who need to be cleaned. Once I start selling things on eBay, I'll be able to clean out more.

The workshop, though, is my big project right now.

Talked with mom this morning. She had called to tell me she wanted to cancel the next three hair appointments I had made so that she could get her hair done the same time as me. She feels like she is "putting me out." I wonder if someone has told her something. I hope not. She is not putting me out when I purposely made those appointments so that she could go with me. I have to go to Dover to get my hair done anyway and picking her up along the way is just as easy. When I have the time, I do things for her. She should realize this and not feel like she is "using me" or anything else.

It's when I begin traveling again I'll worry about her and I've told her this many times. She knows. I convinced her to keep the appointments for her hair. She is always doing this, letting me make an appointment or reservation, then trying to change her mind. It's not good for her to be in that house alone so much. So I am doing what I can to get her out. I wish I could do more, but I can't.

So, after cleaning a lot of Chris' office, I took a break to go back out to use my power shovel to find the neighbors shoveling my walk. I shooed them away and they laughed at me until I got my power shovel out. SNOW WOMAN tackles driveway! She wins!

Came back in a bit ago to cool off and shake off the snow the power shovel threw in my direction a few times because of the wind. Soon I'll take a nice, hot bubble bath, make dinner for the dogs and me and watch something on TV. I think I taped something.

I rented the Black Dahlia movie. Don't. It was horrible and I couldn't finish it.

Christmas is over - now for New Year's

Before I begin with Christmas stories, some things I forgot to mention in previous posts:

1) When I was up in Houlton, Maine with the dogs, the morning I had to be at the school early was a cold, cold morning. As I let the car warm up, with Bandit on his blanket in the back seat and Guin in the front passenger seat, shivering, I remembered something. Jurgen has heated seats! So I turned on Guin's seat to the lowest setting and turned on the heated steering wheel for me. Ahhhhh.

I looked at Guin and saw her sit straight up with a weird look on her face, then she turned to look at me. I almost thought she'd peed on the seat. Then she looked like she had a smile on her face and snuggled to lie down on the seat, all curled up in a warm little ball.

Ever since then, if it's cold when we go out, she whimpers and gives me "the look." This means turn on the seat, dammit!

--------------------

Chris' barber, who I mentioned had an uncomfortable run-in with me, had karma bite his butt. The barber shop he works for was broken into and over $3,000 in cash and other things were taken. Who in the world leaves that much money in a cash register over the weekend when they're closed?

--------------------

The ship model gallery that Chris and his dad did most of their work for completely ignored Chris' mom and me this Christmas. Every year, each of our households received a Christmas card and a little gift. The last few years have been chocolate sailboats by Harbor Sweets. Mom2 and I were really looking forward to getting those this year. But we didn't get anything from the gallery (this is the same place that claims that most of the workshop is theirs, pfft). Not even a piddly Christmas card. You know, folks, this year of all years, we needed to know that they still cared. Guess we found out just how much they care. . .only about what they're going to get out of that damned workshop. Well, guess what? They're getting last shot at that workshop. So whatever is left, they can have if they want it. I hate it when people play games.

------------------

Christmas Eve was quiet. I found some of those chocolate sailboats for Mom2 in Portsmouth, NH and picked up a chicken breast cordon bleu and a chickpea salad for dinner for myself and made the dogs an omelet with hot dogs cut up in it. We watched some TV and I called Mom2 to to see how she was. She told me she'd been crying all day. But Dick stopped by and stayed for almost two hours with her and brought a present for Brigitte, Bill called and so did my mom and my friend Vivi. I have very good friends.

Christmas morning I took Guin for her walk to the beach, it was low tide, so we pranced on the sand. Took Bandit around the yard, gave them their cheese, then we opened presents. Wouldn't you know, the darned dogs got more presents than me! They have enough snacks to last a year, LOL. I got some nice things - a homemade CD of Christmas songs sung by my "second dad," JB, with him playing on guitar; a CD of songs by one of my agent's girlfriends, Rhei C, a bluesy Suzanne Vega - beautiful voice!; my Christmas CD from Stephen Marq; a beautiful fairy orb made of blown glass that I'll be putting in the yard in the spring; a basket of goodies from my brother, Donnie; some Hickory Farms sausages and cheeses from my sister; a Dunkin Donuts gift card from my brother, Stevie; a beautiful stained glass silver cross from my mom to hang in the window; a gift bag of bath goodies and goofy socks from my friend Vivi; a bottle of merlot from my friend, Joanne; a Fye gift card from Chris' friend, Bill; and the dogs got me some books on tape, a LOST sweatshirt, a heated ice scraper (really cool), a replacement Sony remote commander for the TV and stereo, LOST and 24 calendars, Cole Haan black clogs and more goodies.

Showered, changed into my new outfit for Christmas dinner and drove to mom2's house. I was there a bit early, but before I could get out of the car, she was out the door and in the car. She couldn't wait to leave that house.

I love her to death. I do. But when we're in the car, she tends to rehash dad dying and Chris and why Chris might have killed himself. Just when I feel like I've taken a step forward, I take two back because she brings back all those memories of when I found Chris. She does repeat herself often, which worries me a lot. She doesn't realize she does this.

We got to Wentworth By The Sea a half hour early, but they said they could seat us. Yay! We were put at a table for two next to the fireplace, which was ablaze. How cozy and nice. The decorations were beautiful! We ended up with a four-course meal: mom2 had an antipasto plate, shrimp cocktail, traditional turkey dinner with all the fixings and bread pudding for dessert. I had an antipasto plate, lobster w/mushroom tart, baked lamb (which was so tender it fell off the bone), and pistachio custard. It was wonderful!

We snooped around the gift store afterwards and mom2 bought a photo card of the hotel and I got a keychain charm for my purse.

We headed back to her house. Yes, she repeated herself and rehashed again. I don't have the heart to tell her to stop. I know she needs to see a counselor or something. She needs someone not involved in this whole thing to listen to her and help her.

I dropped her off, patted Brigitte (who didn't growl at me), made sure she was all set, then called my sister's house so that mom2 could talk to my mom as I left.

I stopped off at Vivi's house and she handed me a glass of red wine. We talked for a long time, exchanged our gifts, then I headed home.

I changed out of my fancy outfit, took a nice, hot bubble bath, made the dogs another omelet (they are spoiled rotten, ha ha), then watched some TV shows I'd taped on the DVR and went to bed early. It was the first night in a long time I took an ativan pill to help me sleep.

Got up the next morning and was depressed. I didn't want to talk to anyone. So I didn't answer the phone for everyone who called. Stayed in my jammies most of the day, then took the dogs for a quick ride to the store to pick up some things for dinner, then for their walks. I vegged out that day and needed it. Took another bubble bath and went to bed early again and took another ativan to help me sleep.

I made an appointment with Vivi for a massage, then went across the street to an antiques place in an old church that I'd never gone to before. They have three floors of all kinds of things. I ended up coming home with an Otagiri, Japan jewelry music box that has painted purple irises on it (if you ever want to send me flowers, irises are my favorites), two new handpainted wine glasses, a handmade small shell frame with a photo of the Nubble lighthouse in it to hang in the bathroom, a small Maine calendar for my office and a little gold-plated gift set of two necklaces, keychain and pin of the Nubble lighthouse for my mom. Shh, don't tell her!

Thursday, I decided to go to the movies. I went to see Night at the Museum with Ben Stiller. It was a hoot - the perfect "popcorn" movie. I laughed and enjoyed it very much. I needed to do that.

Yesterday I met Dick at mom2's to go through the workshop. We had to go through the ship plans to see if any belonged to that ship model gallery and separated the obviously marked ones and put them aside. I like how this guy keeps telling me he'll have to come to the workshop to go through them himself to see which others might be his. That would be like me going to his gallery and pointing out the Hitchcock ship models I feel are mine and not his. Pfft.

We found an interesting thing in one drawer - two square pieces of old wood on top of a Greece/Rome book. Hmmm. I pulled the book out and found paperwork inside. I have to look at it more closely, but apparently a few years ago a Greek museum wanted Chris and his dad to build a ship based on a wreck they had uncovered. The wood was from the actual wreck and dates back to something like 34 A.D. WOW! I plan on framing the letter and one of the pieces of wood to hang in the guest room. How cool is that?

I also made a list of the machinery in the workshop and noted what condition they were in. I was able to get used prices for the majority of them on eBay completed auctions and by doing a search to see what used ones go for. Some are worth more than others. Now I have to go through Chris' workshop to note what equipment he has (95% of which is brand spanking new, some with the electrical cord still in plastic) and trying to put a price on those.

So, if anyone is into woodworking and could use bandsaws, drill presses, a planer, lathe, etc, get in touch with me.

I did call Bluejacket, the other ship model people who have been much nicer and have not been pushy at all. I told Sue (she and Jeff own the business) that I am giving them first shot at the workshop in mom2's house. They're going to let me know what day they can come down, after the New Year. They want to bring all their ship model guys with them and seem to be more interested in the small parts, wood, plans, etc than the machinery itself. Which is fine with me.

Had dinner with Bill and Vivi last night at Panda Sakura, my fave Chinese/Japanese restaurant. When we got back to the house, I gave Bill something to remember Chris by - a wooden plaque with a USMC K-bar knife in its leather scabbard attached to it with an inscription - the Marines gave this to him when he left the Corp. I thought Bill was going to cry.

All of Chris' friends have asked me for something to remember Chris by and I have found something that I felt "fit" them. It makes me feel good to give them a little of Chris so that they can remember him. It's nice to know they don't want to ever forget him. Even Chris' niece, Kathy, has asked me for something. I'm still trying to find the "right" item for her. I know I'll find it.

Today is another veg out day. My bedroom set is finally coming next week, so I have to get the bedroom ready for that. I'll be cleaning, doing laundry, moving things around. Vivi might come over tonight or tomorrow night to stay over and watch Pirates of the Caribbean with me. We just may have to do margaritas or something!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

What I'm going to miss. . .

On Christmas Eve, Chris and I always had his mom and dad over for dinner, then to open presents and sometimes play cards. I'll miss that. After they left, we'd always watch "It's A Wonderful Life." I'll miss that. I don't think I'll ever be able to watch that movie again, though.

On Christmas morning, I'd usually get up first to hang up Chris' stocking. Mine was always up because Chris would usually stay up a bit after watching the movie. I'd wake up the dogs, then Chris. We would make mimosas, toast Christmas Day, then would open presents. Bandit and Guin love Christmas, especially Bandit. As I've said before, he's very intelligent and I would tell him Santa had brought him presents. Even blind, he'd go to the tree and start rooting around for his presents. They each got their own stocking as well and we'd take turns giving the dogs their presents. I'll miss that.

We'd then watch some TV, play with any new "toys" we got and just hang out all day in our pajamas. If it was cold enough, we'd make a fire and have it going all day. Chris would make dinner and we'd read or watch more TV, usually a movie we'd gotten for Christmas.

I'll miss all of that.

This morning I had coffee with Rick and Kathy next door. We talked for a good hour and a half, catching up. Kathy was the one who went with the police to Mom2's hour to tell her about Chris dying, so Kathy is very special to me. So is Rick (don't want to leave him out, ha ha). They showed me photos of their son's wedding (beautiful!) and it was nice to spend time with them. They sent me home with gifts for me and the dogs.

Tonight I'll be making dinner for me and the dogs. They're going to be spoiled tonight - an omelet with veggies and some hot dogs chopped up and mixed in. I'm having chicken cordon bleu, marinated artichoke hearts and a field greens salad. I'll watch a comedy, take a bubble bath and then hit the sack.

Tomorrow morning, the dogs and I will open presents. They got a lot of presents this year! So did I! Then I'll head over to Mom2's house to pick her up for our elegant dinner at Wentworth by the Sea.

I took her shopping yesterday to buy her new shoes and a purse for Christmas Day. We are going to be wearing our new outfits and feeling fancy, LOL.

On my way home after dinner, I'll stop by Vivi's house to exchange presents and hang out with her for a bit. She's dangerous! We went out for dinner last night at the York Harbor Inn Cellar Pub and she kept buying me drinks. We got a ride home from a friend of hers who worked there. Thank goodness I didn't have a hangover this morning (but don't ask me why I didn't, I have no clue, ha ha).

Tomorrow night a friend or two will be stopping by. It will be a nice Christmas, but I'll still miss the silly things Chris would do to make me laugh.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

So many things to do. . .

Shipped the ghost books out on Monday, did some more Christmas shopping, picked out a mattress to go with my new bed (which should be in soon, I hope).

On Saturday night, went to Vivi's house for dinner and met Debbie, her son Jordy, and Vivi's niece and her boyfriend. Vivi's brother, Ron, was there, too. We had delish roast beef, veggies and potatoes, had a couple of glasses of red wine, then switched to diet coke (for the caffeine) and just enjoyed myself. Debbie had brought their new puppy, Chloe - a Sheltie/black cocker mix. So adorable and very smart!

Hmm. Just been busy doing odds and ends - putting together the official Bandit and Guinevere 2007 calendar (if you want one, it's $10, free shipping). I always make them for my parents, Chris' mom, the girls at the bank and one for our house. We dropped off the calendar at the bank today and the girls there were going through it, laughing their butts off. I do a pretty good job on that calendar, if I do say so myself!

Paid bills, sent more Christmas cards out, cleaned off the deck (put the lawn furniture in the basement), then went yesterday to pick up Mom2 to get our hair done together. Now we look bootiful for Christmas Day! I made reservations for dinner for us at Wentworth by the Sea, a grand old hotel that was refurbished and is now run by the Marriott Hotel chain. We're doing the sit-down dinner in the Grand Dining Room (no buffet for us, we want to be waited on!). Vivi's brother works there and hopes to pop in to say hi to us. I'm really looking forward to this!

I had to do a book signing at Upsurf.net, a local Internet cafe. We don't have a bookstore in town, so this is the next best thing. Sold one book and had a few people come in. Then this guy, who looked like Denis Leary's younger brother, came blowing in and talking about a steakhouse, ran out and came back in with a box of different cuts of steaks ala Omaha Steaks.

This place is called Steak House Steaks. Although the whole package seemed like a good deal, I told Joe (the sales buy) that there was just me at home and too bad he couldn't break up the package. I ended up coming home with 12 filet mignons wrapped in bacon, vacu-packed and frozen, for $35 total. I'm going to have one tonight, so I'll tell you if it was worth it. Bob, the owner of Upsurf.net, kept teasing me that Joe had been flirting with me. Puh-leeze. The guy was missing teeth.

That's another weird thing that people say to me - do I think I'll get married again? Hello? My husband has been dead for just over a month and people are already thinking this? I keep having friends tell me I'm still beautiful and will have no problem meeting someone. Good lord, people, give me some time, would you? Maybe I want to stay unmarried and become the crazy chipmunk lady of York, Maine. So there.

Came home and rented Lady In The Water by M. Night Shyamalan (he did The Sixth Sense, among others). After all the bad press this movie got, I thought it was going to be horrible, but I loved it! Those critics know jack shit. I think they just have it "in" for M. Night. I hope Santa brings me this movie!

Today I had to go pick up the gun Chris killed himself with. I took the empty gun case and when I met with Sgt. Baran, who I've known for years and who (thank God) was at the police station that night, he told me to not open the box he was giving me. There is blood and brains on the gun and it's wrapped up in an evidence bag. He suggested I have a third party clean it for me. I had told myself I wouldn't cry, but I did and he got me some tissues. We talked for a while. He's a nice guy and asked how Mom2 was doing. I told him about Brigitte and how we're on the same meds, xanax, and how that has really helped us. I signed the paperwork and he carried the box to the car and put it in the trunk for me.

That was hard.

I cried as I drove away, but I had things to do. Life does not get put on hold when things like this happen. Bills have to be paid, deposits have to be made at the bank, postage has to be bought at the post office, etc, etc. So I did my errands with the dogs in the car. Going through the drive thru at the bank to give the girls the calendar made me smile.

I rented the new Superman movie for tonight. The kid at the video store said if I liked Lady In the Water, I'll like this movie. He'd better be right.

Monday, December 18, 2006

WHOA Newsletter - December 18, 2006

WHOA Newsletter

December 18, 2006

I couldn't make this up if I tried. . .Only could happen this time of year

Ho! Ho! Ho! The bizarre abounds at Christmas
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20061218/od_uk_nm/oukoe_uk_christmas
Chubby British children are reaching for fruit and vegetables this Christmas while Japanese shoppers are being tempted by the ultimate treat -- a Christmas cake decorated with diamonds.

As for Father Christmas, he is gallivanting happily in cyberspace but faces a tough time down on earth as children tug his beard, sneeze all over him and wet his lap.

Cash tills may be ringing on the Internet but in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, festive cheer is in short supply.

With a week to go, Christmas offers its usual diet of weird and wonderful tales around the world and 2006 is no exception.

With bad diet and sloth pushing up obesity rates in England, a self-help group of chubby little Londoners is getting together for weekly classes on nutrition to help them resist the culinary excesses of Christmas.

(read the rest at the link)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
NEWS TO USE AND PASS ALONG!

(DISCLAIMER: The following news items were found on the web and were not written or endorsed by WHO@; they are for informational purposes only)

Cybercrooks hold PC data captive - 12/18/06
http://news.yahoo.com/s/usatoday/20061218/tc_usatoday/cybercrooksholdpcdatacaptive
In the latest online scam, cybercrooks are breaking into the PCs of small businesses and individuals, locking up data and demanding money in return for freeing it.

More shoppers take online plunge; sales hit $670 million in record day - 12/18/06
http://news.yahoo.com/s/usatoday/20061218/tc_usatoday/moreshopperstakeonlineplungesaleshit670millioninrecordday
Online retail sales from Nov. 1 through Friday were up 25% over 2005, says Internet market research firm ComScore Networks.

Cyber crime "better organised" in 2007 - 12/18/06
http://www.itpro.co.uk/news/100354/cyber-crime-better-organised-in-2007.html
Next year will see organised criminals join forces with hackers to create a better run cyber criminal economy, according to predictions by security experts.

Online Auction Fraud Uncovered - 12/16/06
http://50connect.co.uk/50c/articlepages/technology_index.asp?aid=15495
Computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University are using data mining techniques to identify perpetrators of fraud among online auction users as well as their otherwise unknown accomplices.

Firm not liable for worker's e-mail threats: Court - 12/15/06
http://www.businessinsurance.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?newsId=9071
An employer whose employee sent threatening e-mail messages over the firm’s computer is immune from liability as an interactive computer service provider, says a California state appellate court.

Case continued for cyberstalking suspect - 12/15/06
http://www.hendersonvillenews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061215/NEWS/612150340/1042/NEWS
A former Transylvania County commissioner who was scheduled to appear in court Thursday for charges of cyberstalking had his case continued to January.

Net stalkers targeted 500,000 UK victims - 12/13/06
http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/hi/news/5060332.html
MORE than half a million Britons who use the internet have been victims of cyberstalking, it was claimed today.

‘Killa’ had mother on his hit list - 12/13/06
http://www.townonline.com/shrewsbury/homepage/8999357651015312095
The 23-year-old Shrewsbury man who dubbed himself “Teenybopper Killa” put his mother and brother at the top of his “hit list,” according to Beth Stone, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s office.

YouTube streetracing video brings arrests - 12/13/06
http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2006/12/13/2771134-sun.html
A pair of Winnipeg teens is facing charges following a landmark police investigation into street races that were captured on video and brazenly uploaded to youtube.com.

"Logic bomb" backfires on hacker - 12/13/06
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20061213/tc_nm/usa_crime_hacker_dc
A former UBS PaineWebber employee was sentenced to eight years in prison on Wednesday for planting a computer "logic bomb" on company networks and betting its stock would go down.

Feds Target Online Business Scams - 12/12/06
http://www.internetnews.com/ec-news/article.php/3648721
A combined federal-state task force announced Tuesday a law enforcement sweep targeting bogus business opportunities and work-at-home scams, including several Internet operations.

U.S. officials indict 21 in Internet fraud - 12/12/06
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16175478/
U.S. officials Tuesday announced the indictment of 21 people accused of bilking eBay bidders out of $5 million through an Internet fraud scheme that originated in Romania.

Ghana: Money Transfer Agents Now Fronting for 419 Fraudsters - 12/11/06
http://allafrica.com/stories/200612111342.html
The police are accusing some personnel of banks that are into money transfer transactions of assisting 419 tricksters to defraud Ghanaians and foreigners of huge sums of money through the Internet. Police say some staff of money transfer agencies are also deeply involved in the trade.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Thai Dish, Arlo, Some Comments on People's Reactions

Met up with Arlo and his lady friend Yvonne. Got hugs from both. Ordered duck curry (which was delish and brought some home for dinner another night). Chris used to play online submarine sim games with Arlo and his son. While Arlo and Yvonne and I talked (which was awkward at times - some people are just uncomfortable with me right now and I understand), they kept touching each other, kissing on the cheek and being very affectionate. I was a bit put off by it and honestly, it made me feel uncomfortable, but I have a feeling it was their reaction to Chris being gone and reassuring each other.

I gave Arlo a bunch of sub hats that Chris would wear when he played the sim games with him and he was touched.

He looked at a guitar he was interested in, a Fender telecaster James Burton Signature Model. It needs a new neck (Chris dropped his brand new Glock one day and the safety didn't work and shot a hole through the guitar case and the neck). I need to get some idea of a price for him. He is also interested in Chris' Line 6 guitar. Yay!

Went back to the room, took the dogs out to do their thing, watched TV, then slept. The next morning headed to my dad's, dropped the dogs off in their bedroom and went downtown to have a late breakfast. Dad had to run to the post office across the street to mail a package, so I went into a "Made in Maine" store next door and ended up buying a new lamp for the bedroom. I kept an eye out for my dad and didn't see him until I headed out the door. He was running down the street yelling "Jayne!"

Geez. What a hot dog he is, ha ha.

After breakfast, headed home. So good to be home. Unpacked the car, the dogs promptly went to their beds, made phone calls. Caught up with snail mail and email. Called a reporter from the Wall Street Journal who had been bugging me for an interview about online harassment. She was a total idiot. She didn't do any research before calling me, kept asking me to generalize the Internet - which it can't be, talked like a valley girl and I swear she was just out of college. I was getting pissy by the end of the conversation.

Had dinner at my fave restaurant Panda Sakura with Vivi and drank too much sake, but it was good to hang out with her and talk.

Got home, chatted with Deb and Sandy, who had made it to Mom2's house fine. Went to bed. Got up early, took Guin for a walk to the beach, then Bandit around the house.

Got my nails done (sparkly red for Christmas), then back home to let the dogs out, then over to Mom2's. Had discussions with Deb and Sandy about trying to get them to split up their time so that one of them would be with Mom for a two-week visit (albeit Thurs-Sun) instead of the two of them together, to make it longer for Mom to have someone with her. They said they'd think about it. Mom really needs people there as much as possible and I just can't do it alone. I told them I'm making an appointment for Mom to get some testing for her memory and they reminded me how she tripped coming out of a gas station restroom earlier this year and hit her head. That may be the problem - plus grief counseling. They were grateful I'm doing so much and gave me a beautiful pink azalea plant with a Lindt chocolate reindeer. Yum!

Bill came with Sue, the aide and we had a great time talking and laughing. Went grocery shopping, then home, finished off the duck curry and watched The Ghost Whisperer.

Comments onf people's reactions to the deaths: I was dropping off a DVD at the corner video store when a man came out of Rite Aid (next door). He did a doubletake, then came over to me. It was Chris' barber, who Chris had been close with. They were both in the military and would talk for hours when Chris would get his hair cut, would exchange books to read, etc. I had called Tom when Chris had died and he said he would try to come to the funeral, but would call back. He never did. Now he hugged me and kept looking at me strangely, that "oh no, I'm caught," look, stammered his condolences and practically ran off. Karma's a bitch.

Got an order for 250 of The Ghosts of Okinawa books from Japan - hooray! Packing those up to mail on Monday. Going shopping later for odds and ends. Then dinner at Vivi's house.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ho ho houlton!

Left Monday morning in Jurgen (if you don't know, that's the name of my Beemer) with Bandit in the back seat and Guin in the front passenger seat. The ride up to Houlton, Maine was pretty uneventful. Had to stop a few times to let them pee, got them burgers at Burger King (shhh, don't tell anyone) and got to the Shiretown Motor Inn by 5 pm. Caught up with email, then ran out to Shop N Save to get a cobb salad for dinner. Went to bed and Bandit had me up in the middle of the night (even though I'd let them both out to pee and poop before going to bed). Oy.

Got up early, as my first talk to the high school students was at 8:15 am. Drove to the school, got the dogs settled in a rarely used hallway in the school, set up my laptop. I have to say that Bandit and Guin were so good, it wasn't funny. They let kids that walked by pet them and didn't bark or fuss. Although Guin did pee and poop when we first went in. I cleaned it up.

The high school student talk went well until I showed the boy and girl Myspace profiles I found. Turns out that although they claimed to be boyfriend and girlfriend, they had broken up the day before - ooops. The boy was not happy, but the girl came up afterwards with two of her girlfriends and thanked me for pointing out the things she had to change. She and her friends helped me walk the dogs outside and we talked for a while. They were great kids and it made me feel good to know they understood how dangerous it can be online.

The second talk was for middle school students and went very well. I got a lot more questions and comments from them (I always do with the younger students). The principal was pleased as punch with the talks and said word around school was all about me and my talks.

Took the dogs back to the hotel, changed and got some lunch from the hotel restaurant. Chili for me, some dry dog food for the dogs. They were not happy with that. We took a long nap (three hours) to make up for the middle of the night wakeup call, then got ready for my parent's talk at 6:30 pm.

Drove to the school, set up and the principal let Bandit and Guin come into the auditorium and actually held onto their leashes for the talk. At the beginning there were about 15 people, but then a walkie talkie squawked and several ran out - they were volunteer firemen. Oh well.

The group that was left was all women and we had a good time. Sold a few books, got some great questions and Bandit and Guin and I got in the car to head back to the hotel. According to Jurgen, it was 2 degress outside. Brrrr.

Drove through KFC, got a rice bowl for the dogs and a 1 piece chicken breast dinner for me. The dogs were very happy with their dinner.

We watched "House," then I let them out to do their business and hit the sack. The wakeup call was later, about 5 am, so I took them out, then went back to sleep until 8 am.

Packed and left at about 9:45 am and took our time driving to Auburn, Maine today. Stopped off in Augusta for lunch (Wendy's this time) and I tried finding the LOST board game. Toys R Us didn't have it, nor anyone else. Oh pooh. I really wanted it.

Made it to the EconoLodge by about 4 pm, checked in and got a room with sliding glass doors opening to a large lawn. Yay! Up in Houlton, it was ice, snow and had to walk them across the parking lot. Now I can go on the little porch, let the leash go out and they can pee and poop to their heart's content.

This room is a lot nicer, but hey, no biggie.

Meeting Arlo and his wife tonight. Arlo and his son Autie used to play combat sub sims with Chris online and would talk to each other through Skype. Chris and I had been making plans to meet them, then never did. Now at least I am. Arlo is interested in a couple of Chris' guitars (yay) and we're having Thai food for dinner. I am excited. I haven't had Thai food for a while.

Talked with Mom2's doctor's office (the nurse) and they are as concerned about her as I am. Am trying to get her an appointment to speak to someone about possibly some counseling or someone to talk with her - someone who is not directly involved in the whole situation. I think it will help her a lot, although having someone with her more often would be the best for her.

Will be visiting my dad in the morning, then heading home. I am sure Bandit and Guin will be happy to be home. I know I will be.

My new bed should be in, too. I ordered the dresser w/mirror and have to measure for a TV armoire to see if it will fit. It will be good to have a real bed again.

I hope the house insurance has sent a check for the mattresses, bedding, etc that had to be taken away - they said they would. That's what's going to pay for the new bedroom set.

I know I am going to sleep when I get home tomorrow.

The dogs have been great, but I am exhausted.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Catching up on the last few days

Let's see. . .Thursday I had to do a radio interview at 2 pm (I must have sounded lovely with my cold), then went to the doctor at 3:30 to get some cold meds and more cough syrup. Picked up my meds, came home, ate and went to bed.

Friday morning I had to do a phone interview with the Social Security Administration. The woman was nice, asked a lot of questions and because of my age, I am only eligible for a $255 one-time death benefit. I can start collecting on Chris' SS when I turn 60. That's a way aways. Okay.

At 3:30 I went to my lawyer's office and got the official word that the workshop at Chris' parents house does come to me. I made arrangements with his mom and some friends to get the book collection out of the basement on Saturday. I also had to sign a bunch of paperwork - for the life insurance, the title of the Jeep so that it's now mine, etc. My eyes began to cross at the end. Took a hot bubble bath and went to bed early.

Bandit has been getting me up at around 5 am to let him out, but let me sleep in until 8:30. Good doggie.

Headed over to Mom2's house and met Dick and Bob there. Between my Jeep, Dick's van and Bob's truck, we figured we could do it all in two trips at the most. We went through each book to see if any belong to the American Marine Model Gallery, who claims that a lot of items in the basement were theirs or "jointly owned." A whopping eight books belonged to them.

We ended up fitting most of the books in the one trip, got them back to my house and put on shelves in the library here. Turned out we just needed to fill up the Jeep one more time. Hugs all around and I gave Bob and Dick a special something as a thank you, plus a little Christmas gift bag with candy inside. Hugged Mom2 and told her I'd call her when I went on my next trip Monday (today).

I got home, exhausted, called a local restaurant to do takeout, ate, then collapsed in bed early and put the heating pad on. Man, was I sore (and still am).

Sunday took the dogs for their morning run to get the papers (Boston Globe and Maine Sunday Telegram) and to listen to Doc in the morning on WHEB - he plays blues every Sunday - Bandit's favorite music.

Got home, finished my presentations, then packed the dogs in the car and drove to Portsmouth to do some shopping for the trip and odds and ends. Got home, made dinner, then steeled myself for an unpleasant task.

It turns out no one remembered to call Dad's brother or his granddaughter, Kathy about Dad and Chris dying. I got the phone numbers from Mom2 and made my first call. I got Kathy on her cell phone (she is Chris' oldest brother's daughter). I asked her if she was somewhere that she could talk. She was kind of cold at first and said if it concerned her dad, yes. I hesitated, told her no, but it might be a good idea to call me back. She told me to tell her. So I did.

She was very quiet, then said, "My grandfather and uncle died and no one told me?"

She was pissed. I don't blame her. I apologized and said I was a bit of a mess that first couple of weeks and only remembered to ask Mom2 this past weekend. She started to cry. I started to cry. I gave her my phone number and hope to talk to her today. She has it in her head that all of Chris' family hates her. I know there have been problems in the past, but they need to be put aside at this time.

I called Dad's brother in Florida. At first he didn't believe me and almost hung up on me. When I got it through his head that his brother who lived in Dover, NH had died and that his nephew, my husband was also dead, he took a moment to pause and think. He told me he was so sorry for my loss and thanked me for calling him. Then he said he wasn't surprised no one called him as they weren't the most communicative family. I didn't know what to say to that. What do you say? I asked if he wanted my number, but he said he wanted to talk with Mom2 first.

I cried a lot after those calls. I feel so bad no one called them. I'm just glad I finally did. They needed to know.

So, today, the dogs and I go on a road trip up north. I'm speaking at a school tomorrow. A friend is housesitting for me (bless her). It should be interesting on the road - it's a four hour+ drive and with Bandit blind and grumpy and Guin not the smartest dog, well, at least they'll keep me busy.

The school has a room I can put them in while I do my talks tomorrow morning, which is good.

Well, off to pack and get the heck out of here.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Day three/four in Minneapolis, then the flight home

I set up the books on a small table near the registration booths and did end up selling some, then headed to set up for my afternoon talk.

Had a good crowd show up - almost 100 and got good questions and sold more books - yay!

Did I mention the conference already paid my lecture fee? WOW! All I have to submit are my travel expenses. Talk about efficient!

As I mentioned before, Mark Elder from Gaggle.net had a booth at the conference. He graciously allowed me to set my books up on the end of one table to try to sell them after my talk. I also helped him out a bit and we talked a lot. I think he liked the company, LOL.

I took my things back up to my room, changed, went to the gift shop to get some OJ and hit a store that is only open at night (lord knows why). I bought some bath foam there (basically fancy bubble bath). Went back to my room and ordered some quesadillas from room service and watched my favorite show, "Heroes." It was the season finale and WOW - a good one!

Took my cough medicine and hit the sack. At about 3 am, got up to pee, went back to bed and just as I was settling in, there was a loud WHAM on the adjoining room door or wall. I couldn't tell. I jumped out of my skin. It was quiet and I thought I'd imagined it, then WHAM, this time on the adjoining room door. Then sobs, yelling and I picked up the phone and dialed 0. I told the operator they needed to get security up to the 19th floor because I thought someone was getting beat up in the room next door.

My heart was beating so fast as I sat in bed and waited. I could hear women talking, the phone ringing in the next room, but no one answering it. There was a soft knock on my door and I looked through the peephole. Two security guards.

I opened the door and they whispered, asking which room. I pointed next door and they asked if I was sure. I told them I could hear it through the adjoining door. One of the guards was a spitting image of Jesse Jackson, I swear to God. He could have been his twin.

They told me to go back in my room and I ran to the bed. I listened, heard them yell "Open up, hotel security," banging on the door and yelling again. Finally, the door opened up in the next room, words were exchanged, then the door closed.

A knock on my door. The guards again. They asked me if I had someone with me. I told them I was alone. They told me to close and lock up and not come out. One turned and said, "Who's this guy coming down the hall?" The other shooed me back into my room.

I locked up tight, climbed back into bed. I heard some voices, but couldn't hear what was going on. Then the codeine in the cough syrup took effect and I fell asleep.

The next morning I woke up to silence. I tiptoed to the adjoining door to listen. Not a peep. I think they got kicked out of the hotel. I packed my bags, showered, changed, then had a bellhop come up to get my bags and box of books. I asked him if he had heard anything. He said he hadn't, but he'd ask around for me. He checked in my luggage to pick up later, then helped me bring my books to the Gaggle.net booth. Mark was happy to see me and after I set up my books, I told him about my exciting night. He was all agog and couldn't believe it. Then I told him how the drunk guy kept banging on the wrong room on Saturday night and we laughed our butts off.

Sold more books, told people about my lunchtime lecture and helped Mark get more customers. I told him he had to pay me a commission, ha ha.

I hugged him when I left, went to set up for my lunchtime talk, which was called "The Wild, Wild Web: Cyberstalking Happened To Me" (pretty self-explanatory) and again had a good crowd of people show up. And I sold the last of my books - all 21 of them!

I went back to the front desk and the bellhop told me no one had heard anything about the incident. I wish I could find out. Oh well. Took the Super Shuttle to the airport and was really early. They have a nice mall there, so did some last minute gift shopping, then saw my favorite pianist, Stephen Marq was set up with his piano, just like last year.

I stopped by to see if he had his Christmas album and told him I was on his mailing list. He was pleased as punch to hear that. He told me he couldn't sell his CDs direct and I had to go to the bookstore in the mall, so I did. But, they didn't have the Christmas album, so I bought The Year Through which has a song for every month. He has samples on his site - so please take a listen if you can. And he has a special deal going - buy 3 CDs and get one free.

I went back to see him and we talked for quite a while. I gave him one of my cards and told him I'd be ordering the Christmas CD from his site (which I did yesterday).

Called my mom and told her about my latest adventure and she couldn't believe it.

Got on the plane and a young couple sat next to me, the husband in the middle. When we were airborne, the wife kept rocking back and forth, blowing her nose and was very uncomfortable. I thought she had a cold like me. She got up to go to the bathroom, came back and the two of them whispered to each other. Then they both got up, went to the back of the plane and the flight attendant made an announcement asking if there was a medical doctor on board. Uh-oh.

Thank goodness there was a doctor and he went to check her vitals. The husband came back and his eyes were bugging out of his head with worry. I asked what had happened. It turns out his wife (who is only 30) had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had the cancer and her thyroid removed at the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis on the previous Friday. She was having pain in her lower abdomen on the left, so she was afraid it was a blood clot or something. So I got him talking, to try to calm him down. They'd been married for three years and live in North Berwick, Maine, a stone's throw from York, where I live.

His wife came back and said her blood pressure was a bit high, but everything else was fine. She burst into tears and I dug through my bag for my travel pack of tissues and gave them to her. They were holding hands so tight the rest of the flight.

When we got off and head to baggage claim, I asked her if she wanted to go to the restroom with me. She did and we talked for a bit. She was very scared. In the bathroom, she told me she couldn't pee on the plane, but did while we were in there and felt a bit better. I told her how when I had my foot surgery, that when I flew my foot would swell up and be painful because of the cabin pressure, so maybe that's what was causing her pain. She was hopeful it was.

We went back to baggage claim and I made them promise to go to York Hospital on the way home if she was still not feeling well. They did. I gave them my card and told them to call me anytime. I hope they are okay.

So the car service guy got me and my bags and he was one of the regular drivers I use. He didn't know about Chris and his dad and I told him and started crying. He was such a sweetheart, gave me a bottle of water and some tissues and we talked the rest of the way.

I had called my mom and told her about the plane excitement and she just told me to hurry up and get home to rest. It's never a dull moment with Jayne Hitchcock. Trust me.

Got home, unpacked, gave my mom a scarf and some chocolates I'd bought her for taking care of the dogs (plus I made her take $40), then went to bed. Guin and Bandit were so happy to see me. Well, Guin was. Bandit is blind, so he couldn't see me literally, ha ha.

The next morning Mom and I drove to Mom2's house to pick her up and drove to Concord to meet my sister, Nancy for lunch. Mom2 ate all her lunch (haddock). I ate most of my lamb stew. We had a good time. When we left, Mom and Mom2 hugged and Mom2 cried. I think my mom is the only friend Mom2 has who is her own age.

I took Mom2 to WalMart (our favorite hangout now, ha ha) and bought a crate for Brigitte and some food and other things she needed. On the drive back to her house, she cried a bit, I cried a bit and she held onto my hand most of the ride and told me how thankful she was that she had me. That made me cry more.

Got her home, put the crate together, and I took Brigitte out. She's having a hard time adjusting to the cold, Alabama dog that she is.

I stopped by Chris' grave for the first time since the funeral. It was a month to the day that he had died. I couldn't stay long. It was hard enough just driving into the cemetery. I stared down at the sods of grass that hadn't yet grown together. Although the gravestone isn't there yet, there is a name marker and a flag and veterans marker. I touched the name marker, burst into tears and drove home.

Took a bubble bath, fed the dogs and went to sleep.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Day two/three in Minneapolis

Yesterday's workshop had a whopping six people in it. I really wish they had the workshops during the conference and not as a pre-conference so that more people would attend. But it was a good group of folks, got some great questions and went online to take them to some of the web sites I'd talked about, especially Myspace.com. Sold one book.

I'd told my mom that Chris' mom sounded really depressed yesterday, so my mom had my friend Vivi drive her over to spend the afternoon with her. Dick and Bill (Chris' friends) fought over who would drive my mom home. That was pretty funny. My mom is as worried about Chris' mom as I am. She shouldn't be in that big house alone, even with Brigitte. I wish someone would get her out of there for a week - I'll dogsit. Any takers?

Afterwards, I went upstairs, changed into some comfortable clothes, then headed back downstairs to the sports bar with a magazine to unwind and had one glass of wine. Headed back to my room, ordered a hamburger from room service, watched the Holidazzle parade from my window, then watched Noah Wyle in The Librarian (a poor Indiana Jones ripoff). Took some of my cough medicine with codeine and crashed.

No weird guy banging on the wrong room door to wake me up last night, ha ha. The cough syrup gave me more weird dreams, but I slept pretty well.

Got up, caught up on email, etc, and discovered my book was covered in the Chicago Tribune in today's edition - hooray! I emailed my publisher, then went downstairs to go through the exhibition hall to see who had booths. Saw Mark from Gaggle.net, a free safe email service for schools. It was nice to meet him in person - they gave me some things to give out when I do my school talks and fully support WHOA-KTD.

Got my free "box" lunch (roast beef sandwich, pasta salad, brownie, chips, apple and water), then stopped at the Minnesota Planetarium dome. It turned out to be a preview of what they'll be showing when the planetarium opens in 2009. The dome is now available to go to schools. The show was narrated by Harrison Ford (my favorite actor) and it was truly fascinating and (dare I say?) awesome!

Came up to my room to eat my lunch, post this, then I'll change into my "lecture suit" to go downstairs to try to sell more books before my talk at 2:50 pm. I speak for an hour today, then will sell as many books as possible afterwards. There's a reception at 4:30 with prize drawings and fun tonight.

My cold is still nasty, but I found some Dayquil which is helping, as is hot tea.

Will try to post more later.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Minneapolis is cccccccold

Picked up my mom Friday (had lunch with my sister, mom and sister's friend) and stopped by Chris' mom's house on the way home.Brigitte just loves Mom2 (Mom is my mom and Mom2 is Chris' mom, just so you won't get confused) so much. She growled at my mom and followed Mom2 all over the house.

We had tea, Mom2 teared up a couple of times, so did I, but it was a nice visit.

Got home and gave mom her list of instructions on taking care of the dogs and how to use things in the house (like the TV/stereo, heating, microwave, coffeepot, etc). We went grocery shopping and came back. I finished up some things on my computer for my trip while Mom enjoyed flipping through all the cable channels. She stopped at an old Bill Cosby special and was laughing her butt off.

I've got a cold. Coughing my lungs out. Great. Took some Nyquil before going to bed.

Saturday morning packed, went over final instructions with Mom, then the car service came to get me. Quick ride to Logan airport, quick checkin to Northwest (they are always great) and got a row of seats to myself for the flight.

Listened to Penn Jillette's podcast radio show on my iPod, read some magazines, snoozed a bit and tried not to cough too much. When I got to Minneapolis (13 degrees, wind chill of -2 degrees, no kidding), it hit me suddenly that I wouldn't be calling Chris to let him know I landed okay. I came thisclose to bursting into tears. Called Mom and everything was a-ok at home. Good.

Got the Super Shuttle to the Hyatt Regency. Another passenger was from Sweden but looked just like Matt Frewer (if you're old enough to remember Max Headroom, you know who I mean). Nice guy. His company manufactures and sells camping stoves. Only camping stoves. Talk about a niche market.

Got to the hotel, asked for a room overlooking the parade route for the Holidazzle Parade and they gave me the same room I had last year. Yay!

Unpacked, then freshened up to meet my writing friend, Dan Goodman. Dan was around when the whole Woodside debacle happened. He has also been consistent in sending cards to Chris' mom and me when everything hit the fan last month. He is such a sweetheart. We hugged tight and sat down for dinner. All I can say again is thank God for xanax. I teared up once, but did not cry in front of Dan (and the rest of the restaurant). My cough was worse, so I only had french onion soup and a crab appetizer. Dan listened while I poured my heart out to him. Then we talked about general things, writing, what he's doing, etc. I felt better talking with him (or to him, I mean - poor guy, I really dumped on him), but had to go to my room to take my cough syrup with codeine and get to bed.

Slept like hell. Kept having nightmares, weird dreams. Then at around 3 am, I hear banging on a door near my room. Some guy was locked out and screaming at his friend to let him in. Just when I picked up the phone to call the front desk to complain, I heard a muffled voice tell the idiot that he had the wrong room. Things got quiet real quick as the guy found the right room.

Got up this morning - they give you a full Sunday paper here - yay! My breakfast came - a bagel w/cream cheese, bacon and OJ. The chef threw in a sample of mango juice for free. How nice. Made coffee and sat to eat breakfast.

That's when I burst into tears. I used to call Chris in the morning to see how the dogs were and just to talk. It's going to be a hard day, but I have to do this. I have to get back to normal (or as close to it as I can). Once I do this first trip, the next won't be as bad.

It's the same as when I have to see someone for the first time who don't know about Chris and his dad being dead. There are always tears and it's hard, but then the next time I see them, it's not as bad.

Mom2 has been having the same problem. When she walks Brigitte around the neighborhood, she says the people she meets that she knows make her cry. But I told her - the next time you won't cry (or at least not as much).

Found two old friends I'd been searching for to tell - Jan Trickel from the US Consul when we were on Okinawa. I finally found her through her parents. She's in D.C. now. We talked for a long time. Steve Rummel, who was with Chris in the Marines in California finally got back to me and we talked for a long time. Plus a writing friend, Clive (and those of you who know me well know who I am talking about) called me and we talked for a good hour. He lost his wife a few years ago to cancer and we have a lot in common as far as how people react to you, the feelings you have, etc. He made me feel so much better.

Today I do a three hour training workshop for the pre-conference, beginning at 12:30 pm. Until then, I'm going to go over my Powerpoint, take a nice, long hot shower and hope I don't lose my voice during the workshop. The cough is still nasty and I have to see if I can find some Dayquil or non-drowsy cold meds. I thought I had some with me, but don't.

Now for a pitch - support a writer today (me!):

If you purchase a copy of my latest book, Net Crimes & Misdemeanors 2nd edition direct from me before December 19th, I will include a free gift bag w/tissue. The book is only $20 +shipping (that's 20% off the cover price)!

I have a limited number of books at my house, so order soon.

Jayne