Wednesday, July 31, 2013

In which we bid good-bye to 26 year old Liam, and Elisabeth gets a silly photo with one of her favorite authors.

Every year there is one delicious month where Liam and I are the same age. This month has started. Happy birthday, Liam! Goodbye 26 year old Liam! We celebrated his birthday in his favorite manner, which is to say we did not celebrate much at all. Liam does not care for fuss on his birthday, as he does not see it as any different than other day. He is aware, though, that birthdays mean a lot to me and let's me do nice things for him. In years passed this has included: making him dinner and sticking a birthday candle in it; making him his morning coffee and sticking a (tall) birthday candle in it and singing at him; making him chocolate chip cookies (which he prefers over cake in general) and sticking birthday candles in them; giving him an empty envelope with a note acknowledging that he hates receiving superfluous gifts, and then giving him a cupcake with a birthday candle in it.
Each year we hide Liam's birthday from well-meaning friends who make a big deal about his birthday. I have to remain cryptic about his actual birthdate when people start fishing for it. I can only say that, like Harry Potter, he is born in the last days of July, and he has many interesting scars. No magical powers have manifested as of yet, nor are we are of any prophecies surrounding him.

We've spent the last few weekends enjoying the summer. The annual Market Days festival brought three days of near-100 degrees heat and such humidity that governments warned citizens to stay indoors. A massive windshear tore through Main Street at 11 p.m. on one of the Market Days, destroying booths and tents for many vendors. Fortunately, the town was abed at that hour and nobody was hurt, but many vendors lost their inventories (thankfully, many were insured). Gibson's lost a tent or two, but fortunately none of our inventory was damaged. I was scheduled to walk up and down Main Street dressed as Waldo from Where's Waldo in promotion of the Bookstore's Where's Waldo downtown scavenger hunt, but with the long sleeves and knee socks that the costume requires, I would have surely succumbed to heat sickness very quickly. I didn't wear the costume, in the end. I still nearly overheated in my sundress and parasol.

We enjoyed a concert by my favorite string quartet rock band, Darlingside, in Bicentennial Square on Saturday night, the close of the Market Days festival. The next day we joined Dan and Marie for a tubing adventure down the Merrimack River. The river had been quite high and swift in the weeks previous (11 people had drowned in the State so far in the month by then), so we were quite cautious in our preparations. The trip downriver took about two hours less than last year, indicating how much faster the river was flowing. Our giant beautiful river looks so deceptive and slow as it serenely rolls past!
We had a snazzy double tube with head rests and a cooler compartment between the seats and netting in the bottom of the tubes to prevent fish from coming up and attacking us from beneath (probably not why the netting was there, but it's something that bothers me so that's how I choose to interpret it). None of us sunburned! Last year we had left the sunscreen bottle at the cars and all suffered for it on our six hour float down the river. I was fortunate that I had my parasol with me last year, but the others were not so lucky. Last year Liam's Irish skin burnt horribly, and Dan and Marie got sun poisoning severe enough to miss several days of work. This year we brought sun protection in the form of creams and (in Liam's Irish white skin ways) protective clothing that we didn't mind getting wet (not shown) and stayed burn free!

Here is a picture of the dog:
Liam was trying to take a picture of the dog with his new hiking dog-panniers, but Nashua's attention was swiftly diverted by a moth. I am especially impressed with the way he seemed to dislocate his jaw to attack his airborne prey.
I hosted a book-signing event at the Bookstore for Terry Brooks, legendary fantasy author (his Sword of Shannara made the New York Times Bestseller list back in 1977, the very first fantasy novel to hit the NYT list, ever. He was the first fantasy author after Tolkien to capture the public's heart. He's had 23 #1's since.):
"Shall we do a serious picture, or a silly one?" I asked.
"Oh, silly I think," he said.
I was thrilled. Authors never seem to want to do silly pictures.
He is a very nice man. I enjoy his events very much.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Independence Day, in which we introduce Nashua to fireworks.

Each year Brian comes to visit up for the 4th of July, and he and Liam and I drive east to the seacoast (of which New Hampshire has 18 miles) to help Liam's grandfather set off fireworks. Grandpa Jack runs Jack's 5-Star Fireworks, and set off the fireworks display for the Beach Club near Hampton Beach, and for the Town of Rye. Usually we hammer together mortar tubes on the beach starting at 6 p.m., linking together the bombs with long fuses, and then hurry-up-and-wait for full dark. This year, however, we were hampered by the tide. The tide was still high at 8 p.m., such that we could only set up at about 9:45 p.m., which is incredibly late. The water was still awfully close, then, but it was enough that we were far enough away from the road that we wouldn't cause a car fire. We knew about the high tide and had easy-to-lay cake-fireworks instead of separate mortars, which only took about 15 minutes to set up. Unfortunately, cake-fireworks don't fly as high as mortars, nor are they quite as fabulous on the lesser budget we were given by the Beach Club (who were not happy with the display or the length, even though they were the ones to cut the budget when they'd heard we couldn't set up mortars in the water). We could hear the Club managers complaining that we weren't able to start at 9:30, demanding we start earlier in direct defiance of the stern safety instructions of the Fire Marshals present and observing, seeming to demand that the tide go out faster. But the tide waits for no man, and nor does it hurry up for any man.
It was nice to have such a fast set-up and clean-up, though. Normally it takes hours, and there is heat and sand and it's full-dark but for our flashlights and the bugs are attracted to our flashlights and then to us.

The Rye fireworks went much better, a fabulous display of cake-fireworks carefully timed to dazzle in the smaller venue of the park field. We brought Nashua with us to these, as it would take only a few hours to execute, short enough that he would have a good chance of behaving, and not acting out from boredom. We kept him on his 50' longline so he could run, and he discovered a tennis ball which he brought back to us to throw. He loves to chase, but quickly loses interest once he's found the ball again. Our intention was to expose him to fireworks, that he learn not to be frightened by the sudden noises and lights so his future blind handler can enjoy holiday parties and events with their families. He did very well. At the first blooms he startled and pressed against Liam's legs, staring up at the lights in the sky, trying to figure it all out. He did not run. He did not bark. He did not cower. His heart beat quickly, but he did not panic, and that was what we had hoped for.
He went right to sleep afterwards, collapsing across my feet in the car's footwell, stuffing his face into the cool air coming from the air conditioner.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

In which Liam gets a new job

Liam has a new job! We are very excited. He is taking a in-house Training Coordinator position at Bellwether Credit Union, which entails training everybody in the company's multiple branches (from new frontline tellers in how to use their cash drawer to the CEO in new management technique theories), and coming with new techniques and presentations to use, and keeping an eye on employees to see who could use extra help or who has potential to learn new skills. This position is uniquely suited for Liam, as his superior skill set involves managing people. He is known for his patience and insight, his ability to read people and identify their motivations, and in getting two people who despise each other to agree on business issues being discussed. He starts at his new position in about two weeks. (There is the chance that he'll be able to bring Nashua-the-dog to work with him, too, which presents a unique training opportunity for Nashua to get used to office atmosphere's and staying quiet and still and patient while his future owner works. Office workers having a bad day will get to visit the dog for hugs and snuggles too, so it improves overall office morale as well.)

Liam is sorry to be leaving Lincoln Financial after three years, but this opportunity was too good to pass up, Also, Lincoln's recent flattening of its management levels meant that the advancement opportunities that Liam had been working towards were eliminated and he had no prospects to work towards.