Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Running on the surface of the sun

Visiting Vermont was certainly interesting this summer. As always, a rollercoaster ride of dinners, works on, in and around the house, a funeral, things to pick up in town, cleaned out the cellar, and mowed the lawn twice, installed two new air conditioners, picked up furniture and a stereo from Wendy’s old house, parties with college friends and a little bit of tennis thrown in for good measure.

The house looks amazing and I am eager to show you before and after pics. Sadly, combing my backup pictures of “before” comes up with little if any that illustrate what I want to show you. Luckily, the contractor took a bunch of before pictures and promises to send them to me.

We put in Skylights in the bedrooms and the front of the house to let more light in, a wrap-around porch and dormers on the back of the house to expand the upstairs bedrooms. I just uploaded a few pictures but they really don't show what I want to show so I have removed them. Most of them show the house still under construction and with tools and crap all over everything. I'd rather wait for the right pictures to really show you how beautiful it came out.

We put Adirondack chairs on our new porch and watched people, traffic and Top Chef on my laptop while sipping chilled white wine. After a hard sweaty day of cleaning out fifteen years of accumulated junk out of the cellar, that was a fine end to a hard day.

Rodney, Hilary, Dan and I used to play tennis every day for months at a time when we were in college. Wendy and I had so much fun the two times we played this summer I bought a racket and hauled it back to Spain with me. Wendy and I plan on many games in the future; just as soon as the temperature in Madrid drops below a hundred degrees.

Saw “District Nine” with Wendy’s brother when we went down to visit them for a weekend and I found it very disappointing. Aliens come to Earth and the only thing you can think to do with it is make Apartheid and Indian reservation analogies? Yeah, and that giant robot that catches the missile in the trailer? That robot suit was in the movie for all of 45 seconds. And let’s not forget it’s filmed in hand-held nausea-inducing shaky cam to give it 1) that “real” feeling and 2) a guarantee that Wendy can never watch it. Not that I would inflict it on her anyway. Needless to say, I just didn’t get it.

My friend, housemate and dog care-taker Doug has given his ninety day notice, wanting to find a place of his own and pursue his own path. I totally understand and will miss him in the house. Luckily, and sadly, two of the three dogs look like they won’t be around much longer. They are twelve, which is old for a sheltie. They have bad arthritis and sometimes Merlin struggles to get up and when his back end won’t rise for him he just gives up and lays back down. Morganna can no longer use the doggie door and falls over at the bottom of the ramp sometimes because her legs are so stiff they are like stilts. They don’t appear to be in any pain, just… old. We can open up the front door after a few hours away and they remain sleeping a few feet away from it on the floor, never waking from their old dog slumber even as we walk by them. I am looking for a good home for Nikki who, while also twelve, still acts like a puppy and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

We continue to be pleased with our choice of renting a car, driving down to Boston and taking a direct flight to Madrid. In the past the plan was to catch a ride with either my folks or a friend to the Burlington airport and then fly to JFK or Newark, go through security again and hope we didn’t miss our connecting flight. Or, if the flight from Burlington was on time, sit in the terminal for the next five hours waiting for the flight to Madrid. Going through security once sucks, doing it twice in one day where the second line can be hundreds of people long is a nightmare. Sitting in an airport terminal for five hours is no picnic either. This time we hit a small snag as Kennedy’s procession clogged Boston’s roads at three-thirty in the afternoon and the last five miles of our journey took forty minutes. Luckily, we had built in an extra hour so it all worked out fine. On the trip home I watched “Wolverine: Origins” and since the reviews let me know it wasn’t great, I watched it expecting nothing. I enjoyed it, mostly due to low expectations. I then choose to watch “Monsters vs. Aliens” but had to quit that movie at the hour mark and get some sleep.

And now we are back on the surface of the sun. Wow is Madrid hot.

Our first weekend back Lena and Stefan invited us over for brunch and pool time. I was greeted at the door by the Spanish rendition of “Happy Birthday to you” and this :

Stefan makes his own beer and this was a special batch called “El Jamie” with an awesome label. The present was a DVD all about bullfighting and if you can’t see the picture, it’s a turtle screwing a hamburger. How can you not love that?

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  1. The reason they make Apartheid and reservation analogies is because the story was adapted from Alive in Joburg, a 2005 short film directed by Neill Blomkamp and produced by Sharlto Copley, that deals with the issues of xenophobia and social segregation. The title and premise of District 9 were inspired by historical events that took place in South Africa under apartheid in a residential area of Cape Town named District Six.

    Jamie, sadly your movie reviews are now getting a bit tiresome. It seems like every movie you go to now you dissect into little bits and pieces. There were some definite flaws in the movie’s story line, I’ll give you that but as far as the story it’s trying to tell, I thought it was very well done. Maybe you should try to stop looking for the flaws in movies and just try to actually enjoy them by focusing on the big picture and not the minutiae.

  2. Negative reviews always include more spoilers than positive ones. I probably wouldn't have liked this movie if I had read this review but I hadn't read anything about it and I loved it; that seems to be the real charm of the movie in my opinion, its marketing was fairly low key and I was able to walk in having basically no idea what to expect.