Thursday, January 27, 2005

george. and some photos

Listening to Mary talk about marriage

It was strange, getting some mail today addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Thompson and realizing I am Mrs. Thompson.

Last night, we met our friend George for dinner. A good friend, we have a tradition of meeting about every other Wednesday or so at the Sherwood Diner in Westport. Just to catch up, shoot the breeze, enjoy the tales, tall and otherwise. We’ve been doing this for years.

A tall Swede, funny, gruff—you’d never take George for having a sentimental bone in his body. But you’d be wrong (shhh, don’t tell anybody).

Anyway, last night George asked if we would mind sitting at a booth instead of a table. “Let’s go there, in the back,” he said. There was a booth decorated with a tablecloth, a congratulations banner, and candles. George’s eyes were sparkling and he laughed when, after he suggested we sit in the decorated booth, I sputtered, “but that’s reserved for a party or something ... ” Duh!

We had a wonderful time. I wish we’d had the camera with us so we could have gotten a picture of George and the wedding table he set for us. I was so touched by George’s gift I almost started crying several times throughout the dinner.

Today we received a package from Mary Pugh containing a copy of our wedding license and a disk with the photos her daughter took. With Kate’s photos and Chrissy’s photos, we have some nice pictures of our wedding. She did such a nice job we have to make sure we don’t forget to give her our testimonial.

Here are some more photos—the top and bottom photos are by Kate and the middle one (and the one above) are by Chrissy:

with this ring ...

the ceremony

Stanley Thompson m. Lee Fleming, January 23, 2005

And yes, I do feel different. Hard to describe how. More centered, maybe, more able to face what’s ahead of us. And very happy.

posted by lee on 01/27/05 at 12:50 PM

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

we haven’t seen any of them yet

Best Picture: “The Aviator,” “Finding Neverland,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “Ray,” “Sideways.” According to the Wall Street Journal. Usually, Stanley and I have seen most, if not all, of the flicks nominated by the time the year ends. We haven’t seen even one of them this time. While neither of us are very interested in “Sideway,” and not much interested in “The Aviator,” eventually we’ll go see “Finding Neverland” and defintely we want to see “Million Dollar Baby.” “Ray?” Don’t care, one way or the other. Last year wasn’t a very exciting year as far a movies went—other than “Spiderman 2” and “Harry Potter X,” it was pretty ho-hum.

posted by lee on 01/25/05 at 08:42 PM

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Monday, January 24, 2005

our wedding

We did it. We pushed back the start time to 6:00. Mary Pugh, our justice of the peace, arrived with her daughter (picture taker and assistant) to perform our ceremony, which was quite lovely and not at all religious, exactly what we wanted, and we liked her a great deal. Maureen, Jeff, Kate, and Ben arrived from Natick, MA—it took them twice as long as it usually does to travel the distance, and the trip was very stressful. But they arrived intact, and I was so happy that they could be here. Stanley got Helene—there was no way we were going to have our wedding without her presence. We were married in front of the fireplace in our living room, which I didn’t think could happen there because it was so packed in there from emptying the storage bin, but Stanley surprised me and cleared it out! The dogs cavorted and barked during the ceremony, and the cat crouched in the corner watching—I expected him to climb Stanley to get up on the mantle, but he behaved.

Afterwards, Maureen and Jeff took us all to dinner at The Lime here in Norwalk, which is our favorite restaurant on the planet, and the food was wonderful. We came back to our house afterwards for our “wedding cake” (double chocolate fudge cake from Stew Leonard’s) and toasts.

It was a pretty wonderful wedding. It was a close to perfect as it could get without the rest of the family here, but we didn’t give anyone much notice and we would’ve been insane with worry about anyone traveling to get here from Florida or Michigan, so we’ll celebrate with them when we get to Michigan next August. It would’ve been nice if Alice could have been there too, but at least she was in the hospital finally getting better.

Kate took some pictures, as did Chrissy, the JP’s daugher—I will post them soon.

Thank you to everyone who sent their good wishes. We’re deeply grateful. And we will keep everyone up to date regarding Stanley’s heart saga. (I can’t wait until the valve job is over and Stanley is fully recovered).

Now I just need to get caught up on sleep or rest or something. I managed to get all of the shoveling done (more on the way tomorrow), so maybe that explains at least part of my exhaustion. Maybe the rest is stress. Couple of mornings of sleeping in a little extra and I should be ok. Stanley ordered a Snow Fox snow thrower (electric shovel?) because I asked him to—I don’t think we need a big snowblower because there isn’t THAT much driveway and only 80 feet of sidewalk, of which I only need to have a 12-inch-wide path cleared. Of course, when if finally does get here (from Amazon), this winter will turn snow free most likely, so I won’t get to try it out. I wish.

posted by lee on 01/24/05 at 08:56 AM

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Sunday, January 23, 2005

wild horses & the kindness of strangers

Check out WestportNow.com for the tale of two horses loose on I-95 this morning. Some amazing photos. Scroll down past the “folks walking their dogs in the snow” stuff to see the sequence of photos.

And bless the kindness of strangers. I was shoveling the driveway out, red-faced as I always get upon exertion (my Celtic heritage, I guess). A guy driving by in a pickup with a snowplow saw me, backed up, gestured for me to get out of the way, and plowed out the driveway! I wanted to find out his name and thank him but he tooted and took off before I could. He saved me a couple of hours. I’ll look for an opportunity to return the favor by lending a hand to someone in need.

Now I just have about 80 feet of sidewalk to do, which I’ll tackle a little at a time since the city plowed so much snow on it (the sidewalk directly abuts the street). If it’s too much, we’ll pay the fine because it’s not worth dropping dead over.

UPDATE: My niece just commented and said there are leaving soon to get here for our wedding! I hope the trip isn’t too hard; I trust their common sense enough to know they won’t push it.

Some blizzardy photos of Ginger and Stanley, last night:

Ginger euphoric

Stanley looking at conditions

posted by lee on 01/23/05 at 10:14 AM

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a foot of snow to celebrate

Four years ago, when I moved in with Stanley, we moved in a blizzard. So it seems particularly fitting that a blizzard would herald us on our wedding day.

Fortunately, it wasn’t as bad as the predictions. No power went out; the tides didn’t flood the coast. There’s traffic out. And the snow is pretty fluffy so, when the wind dies down a little, it won’t be a brutal shoveling job.

Our ceremony was scheduled for 3:30, but we’ll probably push the time back so there’s a better chance that my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew will be able to get here from Boston, which was also smacked around by the weather. And it will give us a little more time to deal with the driveway and then go get Helene. Us ... I mean me, since there is no way Stanley is going to shovel any more this winter unless there is some freak snowstorm after his aortic valve is replaced and he’s fully recovered.

I am even more profoundly happy about taking this step than I ever expected to be. I am also surprised at how excited our family and friends are that we’re finally taking this step. The main reaction has been, “well, hell, it’s about time.”

UPDATE: Our ceremony is at 6:00. My brother-in-law said they got about 20 inches in Natick, and will start digging out and will let us know if they can make it. Gotta call Helene ...

posted by lee on 01/23/05 at 07:12 AM

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Friday, January 21, 2005

famous artists school site launched

We finally soft-launched the Famous Artists School website redesign! We’ve been working on it for months. We still have to add in the emagazine and some additional sample lessons, examples, and resources. I’m particularly looking forward to getting the emagazine up.

The site is almost entirely driven by ExpressionEngine from pMachine. The shopping cart is done with ZenCart, which was fairly easy to customize once we figured out where everything is. ZenCart is almost perfect—and definitely a far, far better shopping cart than many we looked at. We had to change the cart FAS had been using because it just couldn’t handle the myriad shipping options, which depend on both zones and weight. Gotta say, it sure makes it easy for clients to manage their own stores, which is above and beyond what most carts offer. Awfully good software for just a donation.

We decided to do the site with ExpressionEngine because we wanted staff to be able to change the content on the site without having to dive into the html. The one thing that would have made it even nicer would have been a way to automatically have the navigation display “here” depending upon the entry—maybe down the road. Then we could have dispensed with having to use a different template for each page. This setup, though, will save us hours and hours of maintenance work. Oh wait, maybe that’s not such a good thing ...

What we particularly liked about doing this site, besides really liking the people who own the company, Cortina Learning, is that the products are great. It’s hard to find good home study art courses that offer everything you need at affordable prices—I think these products achieve that. And there are a couple of new ones dealing with bleeding edge topics in the works—I’m really looking forward to seeing those.

A site launch is a good end to this long, strange week. I have to get some screenshots so I can add them to the InfoPulse portfolio.

posted by lee on 01/21/05 at 02:11 PM

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big snows headed here

Sunday is OUR day. We even have guests coming to share it with us. But look:

A Blizzard Warning in effect from noon Saturday to noon Sunday

Snow will move in Saturday afternoon and will continue Saturday night. The snow will taper off Sunday morning. Final snow accumulations will be 12 to 15 inches by Sunday morning. In addition to the snow ... northeast winds will increase Saturday afternoon ... and will be quite gusty Saturday night. Strong northerly winds will persist Sunday morning. These winds will result in blowing and drifting of snow.

A Blizzard Warning is issued when sustained wind speeds or frequent gusts of over 35 mph are expected with considerable falling and or blowing and drifting snow. Visibilities will become poor ... with whiteout conditions at times. Those venturing outdoors may become lost or disoriented ... so persons in the warning area are advised to stay indoors.

I’m just really hoping it ends sooner rather than later—if it’s really all over in the morning, there’s a chance our guest can arrive to help us celebrate by 3:00 or so. What I’m really hoping is the weather weenies are wrong, wrong, wrong and this’ll all blow by with maybe a few flurries, even an inch or two. Stanley says if Our Day were in August, there’d be a tornado. We’re not feeling very lucky these days, that’s for sure. Stanley passed out while lugging a ladder and some tools up two flights of stairs at a client’s house. So we went to see his cardiologist yesterday instead of on the 31st. Turns out his aortic valve stenosis has reached the point where he needs it replaced as soon as possible. Next Friday, he going in for an angiogram (or, as the hospital calls it, cardiac catherization). Then the next step is to meet with his cardiologist and a surgeon and schedule the valve replacement. I know it’s “routine,” but it’s still something I wish we didn’t have to deal with. I know shit happens. But does it all have to happen at the same time? Does this mean we’ll be done with it once we get through this batch?

posted by lee on 01/21/05 at 12:58 PM

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Sunday, January 16, 2005

norwalk hospital

We just spent more than five hours getting our friend Alice checked in to Norwalk Hospital. Five-plus hours sitting in the emergency room. Alice was released from this hospital just last Sunday after undergoing an appendectomy and a liver biopsy, even though they still couldn’t figure out what is wrong with her (it was neither her liver nor her appendix—“ah, you don’t need your appendix anyway ... ”—nor is it her Crohn’s disease).

She got much worse over the past week, and when we picked her up we found that she was dehydrated and even more emaciated than before she went in the first time, three weeks ago. The ER doc, Dr. S(something I forget) was pretty offensive when we first encountered him—we had to wait in the waiting room for 45 minutes before we could go in with her—with “that” attitude that made me want to rip his stethoscope off his neck and shove it up his ass.

It’s the attitude too many medical professionals have toward women over 40 that infuriates me, the assumption that our problems are all in our heads or a cry for attention or neurosis. They make assumptions and just don’t do the kind of job they should do. They dismissed my sister like this a couple of years ago and only took her seriously when she nearly died when her kidneys shut down. They told her for over a year she had post-nasal drip when it turned out to be a classic case of wegener’s granulomatosis, requiring months of chemotherapy to get it into remission. Alice has had Crohn’s for quite some time, and KNOWS when something more is wrong, but the doctors are treating her like she’s a troublesome child. I think if we hadn’t gone with her tonight she would still be lying on a bed in the hall of the ER waiting for some answers.

The doctor kept telling us he couldn’t admit her without finding something wrong—the blood tests were normal, the chest xray normal, blah blah blah. The fact that she was dehydrated, vomiting, emaciated, exhausted, couldn’t stand up on her own, and feeling numbness in her extremities I think would qualify as something being wrong. The doc got a little nicer later—don’t know why he decided he’d better stop snarling at us unless maybe it was because we demanded some answers to some basic questions such as “How long will it take to get the test results?” and were clearly ready to do battle—maybe he figured he’d appease us and we’d leave him alone.

At any rate, at long last he decided maybe he’d better admit Alice. Good thing, because there was no way we were going to take her home in her condition.

I just hope they figure out what’s really wrong with her. I am frightened at what bad shape she is in.

posted by lee on 01/16/05 at 08:52 PM

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Saturday, January 15, 2005

nice stuff, part one: good press

It’s so exciting: the January 16 Sunday New York Times has a great article about WestportNow.com. Featured in the Connecticut section, which is delivered on Saturday around here, it’s titled “Did You Read The Computer Today?” by Bill Slocum. If it get posted on the NYT website tomorrow, I will link it. The gist is it’s about two hyper-local news sites, WestportNow and KENTTribune.com, which covers Litchfield County, the motivation behind each, and a lot about Gordon. It has a good photo of Gordon and his dog, Abby.

It’s nice to see it featured, especially since we just launched an interactive map feature with two maps: Westport Teardowns and Properties Sold. The software/database is by Illinois-based MapTeam. The “Westport Teardowns” is a pretty interesting feature. In Westport, people have a tendency to buy a house, then tear it down and replace it with a Big MacMansion. Some houses warrant being torn down, but many are wonderful houses; there is one 200-year-old house slated for the wrecking crew. It’s changing Westport from a charming New England town into an overbuilt exurb that is rapidly losing its historic character.

posted by lee on 01/15/05 at 02:24 PM

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nice stuff, part two: tulips from a friend

Candy's tulips

I’ve been writing about the horrible start to this year, and have been pretty bummed out about it all. The first week or so of 2005 presented us with an unrelenting series of events and news that was like getting repeatedly sucker punched. It’s been exhausting. But yesterday, the doorbell rang. It was a Fedex guy delivering a box from ProFlowers. We opened it to discover a beautiful bouquet of tulips. They were from Candy, a friend, and I was so touched by her gift that I immediately lost that overwhelming sense of dread that had been tying my stomach into a knot. Thank you, Candy. It’s so easy to lose perspective when you’re in the middle of events, whether they’re good or bad. We didn’t have the time to even stop and think about what was happening, how to cope with it, how to best react, when the next thing hit—it’s hard to roll with the punches when you’ve already been knocked flat on your back. We’re still not completely recovered from the technological disasters, and a client was lost by someone who shares our server, which we feel just awful about. Tulips, cropped
click to enlarge
We found out where the webserver problem lay, besides the hacking, and fixed that problem and hopefully closed all the doors. The techs at Netsonic were great, and if you’re in the market for a webserver of your own, I suggest you go with them. We’ll finish restoring a lost database by tomorrow and will be able to move ahead with that, and should be able to launch two sites this week. The bad thing is we’ll probably never recover the money we lost dealing with it. Our friend is out of the hospital, though they still don’t really know what the problem is. Our other friend has some places to move lined up, so she should be out of her present living situation in a month or so. Stanley sees a cardiologist at the end of the month, which I hope will help us both feel less frightened by what ails him. My psoriasis flare has calmed considerably—and that’s a relief. My family member has some good prospects lined up, so I’m less worried about her. I finally got enough sleep. We still have plenty of worries, but at least they don’t seem so insurmountable. And plenty of good things are shaping up, as well. But I gotta say, Candy’s tulips are what snatched me out of the black place.

posted by lee on 01/15/05 at 02:10 PM

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