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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Ten years? Really?

In 2001 my work life was all about Conversant, my personal life was all about Corinne, Shane, and a house full of cats and birds.

I don't remember much about 2002, except that I reconnected with Steve Davis, someone I've known practically since I was a baby. We've always had our faith in common, and found that now we also have our bikes.

Two years later Shane was gone. That's all that year (2004) was about. Nothing else mattered. Hanging on to Corinne, propping her up, making sure she understood how much I love her and need her still, and trying to help her cope with a pain that defies belief.

2005 was a pretty big year. It included the release of Firefox Hacks (my first time in print!), tutoring the Pride kids (Avonlee and Ethan) in math, the PMC and its software auctions, the main author of Firefox Hacks (Nigel McFarlane) committed suicide, Corinne and I met the crew of the Atlantia, Jed moved in with us, I made friends with Jimmy Lehn (morning DJ at a local radio station), and we celebrated Thanksgiving at the Westerly WARM shelter. Finally, 2005 was the year I first started playing with Prototype. (Wow, i can't believe it was that long ago.)

In 2006 I met Greg Pierce years after he had worked for me at Macrobyte, my friend Darren and his wife Angi brought home their adoptees from Nepal, I wrote the "custom events" code for JavaScript that is *still* being used on Apple's web pages, attended the first Rails Conf, and I finally got to meet and begin forming a friendship with Rich Siegel and started working on language modules for his company's main software product, BBEdit. Jed left us, and headed for British Columbia and the woman he would eventually marry. Finally, we met Mike and Shannon late in the year.

2007 was unreal. If not for the pictures, most of it would be forgotten. I helped man the booth for Bare Bones at MacWorld Expo. Mike and Shannon moved in with us. Lauren was born! Mike and Shannon went away for a while. We did our best with Lauren and truly, completely fell in love with her. Visited her parents a lot. Finally met Jim Roepcke and Sean McMains at the second RailsConf (while Corinne stayed home with lauren). Jed married Alycia (and I got to attend, way out there in B.C., while Corinne AGAIN stayed home with Lauren), my grandfather turned eighty, Jed and Alycia came out for a visit (and haven't been back since), Corinne and I celebrated our tenth anniversary, and my sister and brother-in-law had their third daughter.

Shannon came hom again in January of '08. Lauren started walking and talking, and turned one. We got news (on the day Shannon came hom) that the house was being sold so we'd have to move (after ten years). Corinne, Ellyn and Lauren went to FL (Lauren's first plane ride). Richie (Shannon's eldest) came to live with us. My parents came to live with us, for a few months. I went to FL in October with Ellyn and the grandparents to pack them up and move them to Ellyn's house. The year ended with a terrible sprained ankle and a move from Mystic to Westerly.

In January of '09, Mike came home and the family was all back together. Unfortunately, in June they all left again. The relationship slowly thawed, but then in September they disappeared to North Carolina without warning and we thought they (especially Lauren) were gone forever. We got a ten day visit with Lauren in October, but taking her home was the second most difficult and painful thing I've ever done.

2010 started out with a brief visit from the Deanes, but after that the contact (via Skype or telephone) dwindled to nothing within a few months. I entered a serious depression (my first), which I tried to fill or bury with World of Warcraft. In March a rainstorm tried to wipe RI off the map, and in May I was brutally attacked by some blood clots that came from nowhere and landed in my left lung (killing part of it). In June, the Deanes moved back to the area, and we got regular visits with Lauren again. It took her a few minutes to remember us, but once she did it was like we were never apart.

As I write this, Lauren and Corinne are sleeping in my bed, above my office, just a few feet right over my head. I don't know what changes are coming our way next, but right now we have joy and I'm taking nothing for granted.

Happy New Year, everybody.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Good Weekend

It's only Saturday night, and it's already been an excellent weekend.

  • Art and Sarah (brother-in-law and Sister) had their third child (Lydia Sarah Peña) on Thursday. Technically not the weekend, but I didn't see her until Saturday so I'm claiming it.
  • I got a new (to me) lens for my camera. Love. It.
  • After almost three weeks, my Toyota pickup is back on the road.
  • We got a phone bill for $890, and that doesn't include my (relatively inexpensive) cell phone.

Whoo! What more could one ask for in a single weekend?

OK, well, three out of four isn't bad.

I was going to write about each of those things in more detail tonight, but I've totally run out of steam so I'm putting it all off until Sunday.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Eighty Laps

My father's father (Arthur Dilingham, Sr.) has a beautiful birth date: 7 • 27 • 27. It's symmetrical and palindromic, and also happens to mean that this summer marked the end of his eightieth lap 'round the sun.

Saturday his wife, his children, his children's children, his children's children's children, and a very (very, very) small percentage of his friends and extended family from around the world gathered in his honor to tell him just two things: "Happy Birthday," and "We Love You."

The party was held at Goddard Park in Warwick, RI, at the old Carousel Building.

There was a very cool tribute video assembled by my cousin Tiffany and her husband Josh (with, I think, the aid of the rest of the NH contingent of Dillinghams and their kin). It included pictures and/or video of most of the family, and a stirring, deeply emotional, recorded message from Barry Van Heerden in South Africa. (I've heard Grampa sing Barry's praise many times over the years, but I had no idea that he looked at Grampa as a father and mentor.)

Corinne shed a few tears when she saw Shane's picture in the video. Tif had written to me in advance to make sure it was ok. (Of course it was! Including and remembering him is always better than the alternative.)

They even included at least one picture of Lauren in there. That was cool, especially as Gramma and Grampa have both treated Lauren as their latest great granddaughter.

There was also an open mic on the stage, where we were all supposed to tell stories. Unfortunately, though some of us inherited some of Grampa's storytelling talents, none of us will eve be The Master Storyteller that he is. So, most of the stories were told by him! Three times he (literally) lept onto the stage to tell another story, and then hopped back off it again to retake his seat. (Eighty years old, hoppping onto and off of a two-foot-high stage! He's spry.)

He told the Bert and I classic, "I am Gagnon, Champion Moose Caller" story, but (more importantly) he also told some of the TRUE funny stories from his life, including the one about the skunk in the ventilation system at his school in Dighton, MA. I think his school principal probably went to his grave wondering who did that.

I have tons of stories I could have told, but couldn't think of the best ones until after we left so I never took the stage. Had I remembered, I certainly would have recounted the trip to Florida with him, Jed, Dad and myself (I wasn't ten, yet), to move Aunt Marrion. The highlights of that drive to FL included:

  • Arthur Fiedler's Greatest Hits (Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B!)
  • the brain teaser about the man with three sons
  • the brain teaser about the egg-laying chickens
  • Dad and Grampa acting like it was hot the moment we crossed the state line
  • Aunt Marrion freaking out when Jed and I happened to be in the vicinity of Grampa's wallet
  • feeding the seagulls on the beach

Everybody picks on Dillinghams for being... well, Dillinghams. Smart, knowing it (all of it), easily brought to tears, always having an opinion, and "talking until we think of something to say." Though Gramma had as much of a hand in forming us as did Grampa, there's no doubting the source of those particular characteristics. :-)

But, as much as we tease him and each other for those things — endlessly — we love him for them, too. We're a big family (wink, wink), and he’s been the patriarch for as long as most (any!) of us have been alive. (So it's not that we think he's perfect, or pretend that he is. It's that hearing him speak yesterday, and hearing everyone else speak about him, it's clear that he inspires us to aspire to perfection, and we're all better for it.)

Happy Birthday, Grampa. I love you, we all love you.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year, One and All

2006 was a good year for me and mine, in many ways.

To all of my family near and far, to my ecclesia here and worldwide, to all of my friends new and old, close or distant:

New Year!

Hoping 2007 will be even better, for all of us...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Thanksgiving Day at the WARM Shelter

(OK, I'm a little late with this...)

Thanksgiving day was fantastic. I've always loved this day, but this year it was completely different and better than ever.

Corinne organized a huge donation of prepared dishes from her coworkers at the bank, and brought it all to the Westerly WARM Shelter (a homeless shelter and halfway house) on Wednesday afternoon. Thursday morning, Jed barbecued two turkeys, and Corinne drove to the shelter to start setting up. Dad met me there at 10 so we could set up the slushy machine (we were expecting about 80 people between lunch and supper), and he took two more turkeys home to cook on their grills for the supper.

At noon, I delivered the turkeys that Jed had grilled and carved to the shelter, helped set the tables and then left. Two girls from the bank helped her serve lunch for a little less than twenty people (I would have been in the way, it's a small kitchen).

I went to Mom's and Dad's to hang out (and wait for the turkeys) instead of going home. They were going to have dinner with Art and Sarah, and invited me to join them, so I got to spend a couple hours with all of them and my nieces Allison and Talia. Art and Sarah made most of the dinner, and it was quite good (especially the mashed garlic with a hint of potato!).

While I was there I tried to use my Dad's Compaq laptop. It's a 1.7 Ghz P4... it should be fairly responsive but instead is insanely, painfully slow. Appaerently 256 MB isn't enough RAM for the dozen or so virus, trojan, worm, and adware blockers he's running! We ordered another 256 (from, of course).

The turkeys went on the grill a little late, and it took Mom and Dad a little while to figure out how to tie up the bird so that the legs wouldn't fall off in the grill... because Jed had injected a honey/mustard/orange mixture and broken the skin, they were worried it would fall apart. This whole situation was hilarious, with Dad trying to get Mom to say it was ok to use wire to tie it up, Mom finally giving in, Dad saying he didn't have any (!), Mom wanting to use a big rubber band (on the grill!!), and me panicking at the thought of rubberized turkey.

Forty-five minutes before I had to be at the shelter with the turkeys, we took them off the grill to start carving... but they weren't done. The joints (knees?) at the fat end of the legs were still somewhat raw. The carved meat would have to go in the oven at the shelter for a little while before anybody could eat it (not a problem, there were leftovers from lunch that could get the meal started, if necessary).

Next problem: we didn't have any pans in which to put the meat. We chose a couple of stew pots for transport, and I called Jed to ask him to meet me at the shelter with some foil pans from home.

Jed showed up, we transferred the meat into the fail serving pans and into the oven, with time to spare. He stuck around to help serve so Corinne could take a break (she'd been at it all day).

The shelter is very nice, it's a very friendly and, uh, "warm" atmosphere. Most of the people there are full-time residents (rather than transients), on their way to full recovery from alcoholism and returning to normal lives (that's not to say that they're all fully recovered and functional, but they're all improving).

Supper was served from 5:30 to 6:30. We started packing up, Dad showed up at 7 to get the slushy machine, and we were out the door by 7:30.

That's a fairly dry recounting of what happened, but let me tell you what I learned this year. As odd as it may sound, Thanksgiving is a pretty selfish holiday. Most of us spend the day stuffing ourselves, trying to be perfect hosts, watching football games and parades, and trying to be thankful for whatever good things we have in our lives.

My thankfulness, my thanksgiving, was always legitimate. I've always had something for which I felt thankful.

Last year Thanksgiving Day was hard for me. A thirty-plus year tradition of celebrating the day with a big family gathering died with Shane (March '04), and it wasn't easy for me to let it go. 2004 was a transitional year.

This year I learned how much better it feels to put aside the 'feeling good' about the blessings in your own life, and instead put yourself out there to *do* some good in someone else's life; giving someone else a little something to be thankful for.

At the end of the day, after being on her feet in that kitchen almost non-stop, Corinne said, "my body aches but my heart feels good."

Amen, baby.

(One last note: the day went so well that Laura, the volunteer coordinator, has asked Corinne to handle the Christmas meal.)

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