‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Friday, August 31, 2007

Red Sox!

From what I understand, you can only get really really good Red Sox tickets if you inherited a subscription or know someone or know someone who knows someone and happen to be in the right place at the right time. At various times over the years we have been in the right place at the right time, including a couple months ago when we scored the tickets to tonight's game.

Yes, our seats were 11 rows back. Woohoo! Even better, when the Red Sox were at bat the closest player to us was Kevin Millar. Miss you Kevin, please come home soon.

Since we were so close I didn't have to crane and squint to watch the game and could pay attention to other things. Such as the organ music before the game. Chris tells me it's a real live organist and he plays organ versions of Maroon 5, Duran Duran, and others I've since forgotten. I adore organ music -even when it's 80's covers. I also noticed a woman wearing a pair of rhinestone Red Sox earrings. Wow.

Oh, and some kid ran onto the field and was immediately tackled and arrested. Hope it was worth it. And Steven Tyler was there, just on the other side of the dugout from us.

The problem with sitting so close is there's an outside chance that you will end up on national television. I was constantly aware of this possibility and am very relieved to finally take the pleasant look off my face and stop holding in my belly. I have never sat straighter, paid more attention, or more surreptitiously removed mustard from my eyebrows.

We got there ridiculously early and, after checking out all the available food options and saying hello to the Hot Tamale Brass Band, we explored a bit. These are the Green Monster seats and I MUST get there sometime.

I mean, I can't wink and blow kisses at the players from here but there are plates and forks. Very promising.

I picked up the tickets from a friend of a friend ages ago at my birthday party aka Whalefest. The friend said "oh, Supplier X is here (not her real name), you can meet up for those tickets." We go into the tent, he makes the introduction and disappears. I recognize this woman from another party or concert or whatnot and feel a little more at ease. She seems to relax a bit when she sees that it's me and pulls the ticket envelope out of her bag.

"This is great," I say. "Should I just give Mutual Friend (not his real name) the money?"

"You don't have the money?" she asks me. The smile leaves her face and the ticket envelope slips seamlessly back into her bag.

"Well no - I didn't know you'd be here and I only brought enough for scandalously expensive bottled water and maybe a whale t-shirt."

She says she has to go talk to Mutual Friend and vanishes. It is at this point that I feel like I'm in the middle of a drug deal. And really, given what we're paying for these tickets (even at face value) they may as well be contraband.

She comes back and is again smiling. All is well. Mutual Friend has agreed to break our kneecaps guarantee payment. She hands me the ticket envelope and then there I am, walking around with a whale made out of an old milk jug, a page of stickers, a fan with a raccoon on it and two tickets roughly equal to one car payment.

Miraculously, the tickets stayed in our possession all this time and we even remembered to take them with us. Will wonders ever cease. And yes, we paid Mutual Friend for the tickets darn close to immediately, so we may keep our kneecaps.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

update on Green Acres

I think it's time for a Life at The Towers update.

First of all, having chickens is just not all that I thought it would be. Mostly, it entails waking up every morning and looking out the window to see if they're all dead yet. This morning it looked like the door had been pried open and although it was a neurotic hallucination it still resulted in that "okay I'm going to be sick now" feeling when I didn't see any chickens. Turns out they were sleeping late up in their coop. In this respect they are fitting in nicely.

In a month or so I will move them into the garden - once we've eaten all of the cucumbers, pumpkins, chard, tomatoes and anything else I've forgotten. Oh, celery. And some other stuff. Then the chickens will be in the coop and the coop will be inside the garden fence and I will feel ever so slightly better about their safety. Until then, we will just keep piling stuff around the coop to keep the foxes out. Oh yes, it looks lovely.

Even with the double fencing, I'll still need to hang some kind of netting overhead. When I was herding them back in after their romp in the yard yesterday, I noticed a shadow glide across the grass. I looked up to see a hawk way up over the trees. He flew over again as I frantically coaxed the chickens back to safety. Have you ever herded chickens? It's ridiculous. Being frantic doesn't help.

As for the garden, my tomatoes have fallen victim to their own success. In the past, I've been able to stake my tomato plants with coffee stirrers because they have grown about that tall. But this year, what with the nitrates and all, they are Tomato Trees. There are tomatoes everywhere and the plants can't support them and are toppling over. I put some nice tall, solid stakes in, but it's not working. It looks like I gave them all beehive hairdos. I'm having to window-ripen tomatoes on a daily basis. Things could be worse.

And I don't know what I have against beans, but I pulled out a couple little bean plants when I was weeding the other day. I did the very same thing last year. Wow, look at these perfectly matched little weeds all in a row! Sheesh.

Finally, we have a new stair thingy outside the laundry room door! Chris and his sister pulled out the horrible cinder block stairs and put in a small landing so that my mother-in-law can get out of the house a little more easily. It looks great! And best of all, it was pretty much all done by the time I realized it was being considered.

It's progress, and I like it.

location, location, location

I am sitting in a sculpture garden, waiting for someone to unlock a door so I can go to work. I've actually gotten a bit of work done while sitting here, but now it seems a shame not to write about what I'm looking at.

The garden is small but backs up to a tidal creek, which is one of the most beautiful views known to humankind. It's low tide and the marsh grasses are teaming with bird life. It smells like the ocean.

They have these great ceramic stool/table thingies scattered around for people like me to sit on while they're waiting. They're also handy for putting your lunch on later. I cannot wait for lunch. Whenever I come here, I get lunch from one of the fab restaurants nearby and bring it back to the garden.

I am also paying extra attention to the garden because Sarah came over for our first landscape design consultation. She arrived shortly after dark, which is the best time to see our yard. Still, there was a lot of "ooooh, hmmmm" which did not bode well. She gave us a couple ideas to start on and I'm excited to make some phone calls (although I'd like a shot at using a jackhammer myself). Sounds like we're going to need a fleet of day laborers to descend on the Towers.

The garden here has a little spot of about 4 pavers - just big enough for two little chairs. I must have this somewhere in my yard. I don't know why, but I love the idea of having little places to hang out in. And with the pavers, Chris won't have to keep moving my chair when he mows. They also have a little pond with a fountain here. I can do without this as I have cleaned more than my share of such fountains and I can live a rich and fulfilled life without doing it again.

And now the gallery is open and I can go to work. I hope everyone out there in the real world enjoys their lunch as much as I'm going to.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Michael Ornstein

I met Michael and his lovely wife and daughter at that party the other night. Not the 5 year old parties, the other one. I just found his business card and checked out his website. I think the image on his home page is incredibly beautiful. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bink

I met Bink 18 years ago at a gallery opening. 18 years is sufficiently long enough to have forgotten why I call him Bink. To the best of my knowledge it was not derogatory.

It was in Denver and I was stuck talking to a film producer person who was very interested in himself. He's probably become mind-numbingly famous and I have missed my chance to be Mrs. Mind-Numbingly Famous Film Producer. These things happen and the world is a better place for it. So there I was, talking to this guy and looking over his shoulder searching, searching, searching for a familiar face.

AHA! Son of a friend of my mother! That's not an expletive, he really is the son of one of my mother's friends. So I blurt "Bink! Great to see you!" and excuse myself abruptly. I give him a big hug, haul him off into one of the side rooms and introduce myself. And I explain about the Crashing Bore. He understands immediately and in that luminous moment we become Friends.

He suggested we go see this cabaret act not far from the gallery and off we go. There was a song titled "The Double-Stuff Oreo Cookie Blues" and it was about how women go on a date and order the lettuce crepes and a glass of water with lemon and then go home and order pizza because they are starving. All the women in the audience were giggling and Bink was looking at me like why is this so funny? I explain it is TRUE and that often we don't eat like we normally would when we are with a man we like (sorry Chris, I was over it by the time I met you and then had to marry you so you wouldn't be able to testify against me).

He asks me what I would go eat once I was finished with my lettuce crepes and I confess that I would head straight to City Spirit for Chocolate Oblivion. Note: City Spirit closed about the time I moved away from Denver. Possibly not a coincidence.

So off we go to City Spirit and I introduce him to the fine art of flourless chocolate cake. We will now be Friends Forever. Mostly because it turns out that he doesn't actually like chocolate and so I get to eat his.

This all happened when I was at a somewhat vulnerable time in my life. I had a job that was okay but not great. I needed to find a place to live and a life to go with it. I admired Bink (cool life! cool job!) and was afraid I would become reliant on him instead of finding a life of my own. I suspect many of us have found ourselves in this position - not specifically with Bink, but in general. So I moved away to the mountains, where I got a job in Keystone.

Now there's a career move.

Anyway, we stayed friends and called each other whenever we couldn't fathom what the other gender is thinking. A translator like this is indispensable. Everyone should have one. He'd come to town and take me to dinner every time I broke up with someone, so we saw a lot of each other.

And then I moved here and he has connections here too so we STILL get to see each other. In fact he is arriving on Saturday. Which is why I am trying to lose 20 pounds by Saturday.

No, not for Bink. Don't be silly. It's because he has this girlfriend. The only reason for a male friend to get a girlfriend (or get married eventually) is so I can have a new friend. But this girlfriend is 26 years old. Granted, this is way better than last year when I first met her. She was only 25 then. Eeek.

I am not sure I want to spend time with her in my current state. But she's fun and I don't want to miss out, so if anyone has any sure-fire ways to drop 20 pounds in 48 hours, let me know. Hopefully it includes Chocolate Oblivion.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, August 27, 2007

house hopping

I don't know how I get in to these places. People kept asking me if I was an actress and I would have maybe made something up so I didn't just sound like me but I generally always have my mouth full and didn't have the opportunity. There was braised tofu & grilled vegetables and some particularly good stinky cheese, among other things.

Anyway, I went to a party where people had to keep leaving because they had an audition in New York in the morning. Or they were just in New York for 18 hours for a rehearsal. Or whatever. And because I don't actually get out much I have really no idea who these people are. They are theater people and they were nice to me and so I like them.

It was a housewarming party and it was a really really fun house to be warming. The rooms were sort of... well I didn't actually count the walls so let's just say they were faceted. My father was an architect so I have license to make up architectural terms willy-nilly. The living room had a cathedral ceiling and now that I type "cathedral" I realize that it felt similar to being in the apse of a church. Except there was no organ music on the play list. The play list was put together by their teenage daughter - who had gone to one of those art & music summer camps and was therefore an Interesting Teenager able to produce a playlist that made you want to jot down the band names.

The house was full of very very interesting people who I had no idea existed before tonight. I especially enjoyed talking to the dramaturg. What the heck is a dramaturg? He is also the literary manager and because I like literary things I liked him immediately. As far as I can tell, he researches the details of plays so that the details are accurate within the sets and so forth. And he does the program notes. Which I should think makes him incredibly smart. I think just having a title that most people have never used in a sentence makes you very smart and somewhat enigmatic.

Now here's the "small world" part. This was a house warming, right? So they must have moved out of another house, right? And what are the odds that I have actually been invited to the old house by the new owners and gone to dinner there? Answer: Very good.

It occurs to me that it takes a certain kind of person to inhabit houses like these - houses that resemble a genie bottle or an oversized tree house or an apse. They are apparently known as "niche" houses (and we would love to live in one, if in fact we don't already). It seems we are collecting friends who live in niche houses. Perhaps we will turn them into a coffee table book some day.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

weekend party update

I was talking to a woman at one of my many many 5 year old birthday parties today. She lives in Vermont and we were discussing the pros and cons of living in places where people like to visit. Apparently the view from her mailbox makes people stop and take pictures on a regular basis. One fall she and her husband were out burning brush. She watched as a car stopped to take a picture of her view, and then the person turned around and took a picture of her throwing a log on the brush fire.

"You should see her churn butter!" her husband yelled to the photographer.

Isn't it great when you have a moment of seeing how you look to other people? I sometimes wonder how our lives look to people who don't know any better. Is it better, or worse, than I see it?

We also talked about how easy it is to stop appreciating what's around us. Now you may think that just because we live in places you've seen on postcards we are the only ones responsible for appreciating our surroundings. Not so. We just all tend to under appreciate that which is under our noses.

The friends we visited today live near an Air Force Base. There happened to be an airshow today and all afternoon we looked up to see jets screeching across the sky in formation. Not my cup of tea, but pretty neat nonetheless. Someone at the party had gone to the show and described the opening - parachuters and streamers descending from the clouds in formation. Wow.

See all the things you learn while you're eating Spiderman cake?

Oh, and I also noticed that as the ages of our children increase I am once again being asked what I do for a living (instead of "so, what did you give up to be a mom?"). Although I have a job which is interesting, I think I will start telling people I raise chickens.

If people are going to make up their own version of you based on what they see from the street, I say it's only fair to help them along.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Pops in the Park

One five-year-old birthday party down, four to go. Also, I sustained an indoor play center related injury. On the slide. Let it be known that I am not above (or below) climbing up inside a claustrophobia-inducing maze so that Studley can go down the slide 58 times.

I have slide burn on my elbow. I have shown it to everyone.

I got to show it to everyone at Pops in the Park, but it did not put them off their dinner. It is a very, very small injury. And it was an especially large dinner because this year there were 15 of us and everyone brings a little something to share. That is possibly my favorite part. Although some years they have the marching bagpipe squadron and that's pretty fabulous.

In case I have not blathered on about it elsewhere (oh faithful readers who know my every move), Pops in the Park is a Cape Symphony Orchestra concert sponsored by our classical radio station (thanks, WFCC!) and some other people I don't know so well. It is at our baseball field and you can either sit at tables in the front or get lawn seats in the back. We always prefer the lawn seats. This is what it looks like before human beings are allowed to come near:

And a close up, action shot for scale:



There's a bit of competition going on in the lawn seats. You have to get there early in the morning and stake your claim to some real estate. We sent an agent early and she still had to put us two thirds of the way back. Lucy noted with some surprise that she could see the orchestra if she stood up. Hey! There's an orchestra! Right there, to the left of the orzo salad!

Anyway, we hold our own in terms of real estate and culinary offerings. But we are still pretty far behind on style points, which distresses me a bit. We are very stylish people, after all. I just can't figure out the logistics. It is all I can do to haul in my picnic hamper, my children and some chairs. How do these people arrive with a banquet table, hurricane lamps and fresh flowers? I am not actually exaggerating. I have even seen grills. Parking is not especially convenient, so you have to carry everything pretty far.

Also, some people have matching beach chairs. With nautical themes. How can you compete with that? One year we did have votives set around but we nearly lit ourselves on fire.

This year we had it figured out. It is a "pops" concert, which means it's a program of things that you've heard. Last year they did an orchestral version of "We Are the Champions." I do not approve of such things. I am more a Rachmaninoff sort of girl. But there are varying degrees of pop-ness and even I like some of it. I cannot get enough Sousa marches, for one. And they usually do some of our favorite Looney Tune selections, such as The Barber of Seville.

One of our friends printed out the words to Rabbit of Seville so we could all sing along. We know a lot of them, but it's like Christmas Carols - sometimes you need a little help. We were sure that would put us in the running for Best Overall.

Wouldn't you know, it wasn't on the program this year.

And here's a little know fact about me. You know how everyone has that thing they want to do before they die? Mine is to play the bells at the end of the 1812 overture. I'm that dorky.

The Rabbit of Seville
Chuck Jones, Carl W. Stalling, & Gioacchino Rossini

How doooo!

Welcome to my shop
Let me cut your mop
Let me shave your crop!
Daintily! Daint-til-ly!

Hey yoooou!
Don't look so perplexed
Why must you be next
Can't you see you're next?
Yes, you're next!
Yoou're so next!

How about a nice close shave
Teach your whiskers to behave
Lots of lather lots of soap
Please hold still don't be a dope
Now we're ready for the scrapin'
There's no use to try escapin'
Yell and scream and rant and rave
There's no use you need a shaave!

Ooh ouch ouch ooh ouch ooh ooh ouch!

There, you're nice and clean!
Aldough your face looks like it might have gone through a machine!

Oh, where do I get that waabbit?

What would you want with a waabbit?
Can't you see that I'm much swee-ter?
I'm your little Senyeree-ter
Yooou are my type of guy
Let me straighten your tie
And I shall dance for you!

Friday, August 24, 2007

buyer's remorse

It's not that I hate ALL exercise. Tonight, for example, was just fine. We went trampolining.

There's a place in Harwich that has 12 trampolines, all set flush to the ground with big holes dug out under them (you can't fall off that way). We go at least once a year, generally for someone's birthday. The first time we went I don't think we had even a token kid. All of us lined up and paid our money for 10 minutes of jumping time. Ten minutes? I remember thinking it was going to be really expensive if ten minutes was $5. I mean, we were going to want to stay awhile! Keep that meter running!

Anyone who thinks that 10 minutes on a trampoline is not much time has not been trampolining. It is an excruciatingly long time. By the time they tell you to leave you are silently BEGGING them to blow the whistle. Except that it's fun, so you keep going. You also keep going because you know that when you stop jumping you're going to head across the street to A&W and have cheesey fries and rootbeer floats for dinner so You Had Better Jump.

We went to Harwich a little early because in June I discovered the glories of Bumper Boats. I have been talking about them all summer and was not about to miss this chance to go. When we drove up we noticed that all the people had bathing suits on. And they were soaked. We were a little nervous about getting caught in the crossfire - those people out there were crazy.

It took us about 3 seconds before we started trying to soak each other. At one point I realized I was laughing so hard that I was no longer making any sounds. Now that, my friends, is an abdominal workout. And I will probably not be sore in the morning.

The other thing we did today was shop for birthday gifts. Lucy has a series of parties she's been invited to and the first ones are this weekend. I like to shop at small, locally owned toy stores. We have a few of them here in town and I think they carry some great toys. Well made, well thought out. Nothing tarty.

I went to two such stores and found 2 out of 3 gifts. And then I was hot and tired and cranky and so was Studley, who REALLY wanted to play with everything in the store. I was tired of suggesting toys that Lucy didn't want to give. I was tired of chasing Studley and holding him in a wrestling lock while we shopped. But mostly I was hot. And at that moment all of my fondness for locally owned businesses went out the window. I loaded my kids in the car and we went to TJ Maxx, where I tethered Studley in a cart and luxuriated in the air conditioning.

We bought the most horrible toys you can imagine. My personal favorite: the Yummi-Land Candy Apple Bracelet Arcade with Candy Pop Doll. The doll smells like a candy apple. Or so they say.

Ewww.

Lucy is very, very, very excited to give it. I suppose I cannot shelter her from pop culture forever. And it is not important if Lucy's friend's mother hates me forever. Or maybe the other mother is not trying to reclaim her house from rampant plastic toy piles and will not care that we just added to the heap.

But really, I should have gotten Bumper Boat gift certificates instead.
And I shouldn't have eaten all those cheesey fries.

ordering donuts in sanskrit

Yesterday I downloaded a podcast from Yoga Today (through iTunes).

Today I can barely lift by arms. Typing is a challenge. It was a Kundalini Yoga sequence, which I've never done before. Oh I've done the breathing with sharp exhalation that makes you wish you had gone for a tissue before class, but I've never done the lying down on the floor with arms over head and sit up to forward bend - 21 times. There was also a pilate-esque move which looked a bit like a crunch but was way, way worse. I know all about Pilates because I have a book on Pilates right over there on the shelf and I saw something like this on the cover.

Everything was done 21 times. So if you do manage to grunt through the first one with some success..... you're still in big trouble. Oh, and if you're into yoga and bulimia, this would be perfect for you. I thought I was going to throw up halfway through.

I also subscribed to Coffee Break Spanish. I haven't listened to it yet because I have not been in my car yet. I'll use that when I'm driving around wishing I were smarter.

In fact, I may just listen to both podcasts in the car. That way I can be conversant in Spanish and Yoga. And really, I just want the ability to talk about things with some element of conviction. I can say "oh, in this morning's yoga podcast the warm-up was a chaturanga to headstand sequence. 21 times!" No one needs to know that I was driving up to the Dunkin' Donuts window while it was happening.

Anyway, I have to stop typing now, and go change my icepacks. Be sure to get that podcast, you'll thank me for it. Let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

air elements

If you are putting an underage person on a plane, you may request a hall pass so that you can accompany them to the gate. You have to give them a dna sample, and if you also happen to have children with you they must memorize their own social security numbers and bark them out when asked.

Here's how it went. The line for Southwest check-in went through the maze, across the room to the door and doubled back. I do not happen to be exaggerating. The old Auntie Suz would have been in big trouble as the 15 minutes I would have allowed to get my nephew checked in, through security and onto the plane would not have cut it. Yes, I have actually made people miss flights in my past life. But now I am more responsible and more frightened of my sister. We were early (sort of). We got the baggage checked and headed to security. As we took off our shoes, I overheard a man say "this kind of security is good for Americans. We're getting so we can't bend down and get our own shoes off." We all walked barefoot through the metal detector and met our stuff.

The security agent says, "whose orange handbag is this?" I confess it is mine, and tell him he is more than welcome to rifle through it. And then he picks out an Aveda bag with a very very very expensive bottle of hair tonic serum stuff which didn't work miracles and was in my bag (with receipt) so I could return it at Providence Place mall on my way home. I begin to hyperventilate. They are going to confiscate it. They are going to make me use the whole bottle right there. They are going to violate the terms of my sales receipt and I will be a) out the money and b) unable to go shopping with my refund. He tells me to take it easy. I have more stuff coming through, right? I cannot see how this is helpful and begin figuring out how I will explain to my sister that I sent her son on without me. The umbrella stroller pops out of the machine and the security agent rifles through the mesh bag (egads, he put his hands in there. Who KNOWS what is in that bag) and pulls out a mostly empty (cereal crumbs in bottom) zip lock bag. I am suddenly very glad and proud of myself for such poor housekeeping skills. Aveda bag is zipped into cereal bag and we are off and running.

We have about 30 seconds to say goodbye at the gate and then he is in the gangway waving and I am shrieking "Bye! I looooove you!!!!!!" and blowing kisses. A female passenger looks at me and says, "my son would kill me if I did that." I explain that he is not my son and therefore there is no recourse. I can do whatever I want. He is lucky I didn't wear my purple polyester toga.

I pick Lucy off the floor where she has sprawled due to running in Crocs on carpet ("mommy, why do you call it a 'faceplant'?" she asks me later). We brush ourselves off and try to find our way back out.

And then we hit the mall. I return my very very very expensive bottle, but I spare her the story (it's comforting to know that I will blog about things like this later and so don't have to tell unsolicited stories to everyone I encounter throughout the day). I also pull out my You-Have-Spent-Way-Too-Much-Money-at-Aveda gift certificate for a free perfume. It is actually called a Pure-fume Spirit something or other and requires that the recipient fill out a short questionnaire to establish recipient's Dosha. You then get to pick from one of the scents that's specially blended to balance your Dosha. This is tricky, because they are very nice at Aveda and I'm sure they took special precautions to not make it sound like their clientele is routinely unbalanced and they are doing their best to remedy it.

I am "Infinity/Air" which may explain a lot should I chose to find out what it explains. I do not actually like the scents recommended for my particular element and so wind up with something that will make me still more unbalanced. Specifically, "Water #7".

This is good, the unbalanced bit, because as my nephew gets older I am afraid I am getting to be less Completely Certifiably Crazy in his eyes. It used to be so fun chasing him around the house with a cake of tofu. But as time goes on, I think he's just grateful that we haven't decided to do away with running water. Nothing surprises him anymore.

I'll just have to try harder. And I've got just the Pure-fume Spirit thingy to help me do it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

singing cheesey songs where no one can hear you

You know that dream where you're flying? And everything's quiet and the water's way down below you and all you can hear is the waves and you suddenly feel completely peaceful? And even though you don't necessarily get along well with heights you find yourself looking straight down without throwing up? Because it's a dream, and everything in dreams is, well, dreamy.

It may have looked like this:


That's the mainland over there in the middle - that really skinny strip of inky blue between the water and the sky - as seen from Cape Cod Bay by way of parasail. If you look the other way, you can see the bay, the cape and the ocean. It's like a saltwater sandwich. With sand in the middle.

This all thanks to my desire to be The Coolest Person Ever in the eyes of a 14 year old. I have no idea what to do with my nephew next year, as I absolutely cannot top parasailing. Maybe we'll just do it again.

I thought it would be exhilarating, but it's really just peaceful up there. You don't feel like you're going to plummet the 400 or so feet into the ocean. I think my blood pressure dropped. I can now be the calm, friendly person I saw in a tv commercial once. Anyway, I actually wept a bit, I was so happy. And then I sang the theme to Born Free as loud as I could. Because you can do things like that when no one is likely to walk by and bust you.

I absolutely, positively can't wait to do it again. Maybe not the "Born Free" part.

From there we went to Spiritus for my ritual Chai Shake. I had also taken my nephew to the Spiritus in Hyannis for pizza, so he's been to two of them this trip. I think the plural is Spiriphim. He asked me if I had tried making them at home (they're just made with vanilla ice cream and Oregon Chai) but that's hardly the point, now isn't it? Besides, if I start making Chai shakes at home I will not be able to get airborne.

We ended the day at the harbor in the Big City. It was a day of harbors. Is there anything better than a harbor? Oh I do love them so. They have all the "ooooh! we're going somewhere"ness of an airport, but they're not smelly. Okay, yeah, they're smelly. But they're sort of charmingly smelly.

Anyway, Earth Junior was playing the Tuesday night concert series at the harbor. At the end of the show there was a rainbow behind the stage, across the water. No kidding.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tanglewood

Sunday morning I woke up at 4:11 because Lucy needed a drink of water. I keep meaning to put one of those automatic waterers in their room, like the one the chickens have.

And then I couldn't get back to sleep. Because I was excited. So at 6am I got up and fed the chickens, who broke loose when I opened the door. Much clucking and flapping. And then I went to the garden and picked tomatoes and parsley and cucumbers and the last of the leafy greens. I mixed my harvest with soba noodles, smoked salmon and some dressing and put it in the cooler with everything-else-imaginable that I had prepared the night before.

And then we met Sarah and Lucy's friend who we shall call Lucy (to avoid confusion) and Lucy's friend Lucy's little sister who is friends with Studley. We shall call her Studleigh. And we brought my nephew because I could no longer carry the picnic hamper unassisted.

And the 7 of us drove FOUR HOURS across the state to listen to Beethoven's 9th at Tanglewood. It was so worth getting up at 4:11. Lucy, Lucy, Studley and Studleigh did not give us anxiety attacks by being unruly. The only outburst was during the Ode to Joy when Studley shouted "Yay!!!" in response to one of the solos. And who doesn't want to do that?

It is just completely gorgeous there. Huge, green lawn with big trees here and there. You can kind of see performers if you sit very straight and squint. But who really needs to see them? The sound is rich and full and probably perfectly listenable all the way to the back corners of the lawn. And it is a visual treat wherever you look. If you're not so into landscape, the people-watching is beyond all reason. You cannot find a more richly varied cross-section of humanity.

So let me back up a little. When we first decided to go I called for tickets and was advised to wait and get them there so I didn't have to pay the service charge. The lawn seats, says Mr. Boxoffice, never sell out. So we walk up to the gates and someone who looks like he can be trusted says, "do you need tickets?" We say yes and he hands us tickets. For all of us. And he tells us to have a nice time.

Have I mentioned how much I love free tickets?

Let me back up further. Last year when my nephew was here we went to many friend-owned businesses - restaurants, t-shirt shops, galleries, coffee shops, etc. He was under the impression that because we knew the owners, things were free. Almost like we were going to their homes. I explained that we pay for things at our friends' businesses because they have families to feed and Everyone is friends with Everyone and if we didn't all pay for things it would Just Not Be Good. It was sort of an economics lesson. And it fell on deaf ears because he asked One More Time and I (head spinning) said with great authority "NOTHING IS FREE!"

He has quoted that outburst several times over the last year. Cape Cod, where Nothing is Free.

So of course we have had all sorts of free stuff handed to us during his visit this year. And he does not let me forget.

But I made him eat octopus, so I'm still one up on him.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

happy birthday, little cowboy!

We were sitting around over blueberry pancakes deciding what to do with our day. It's overcast and chilly - not very good for the beach. Still, we must find FUN! things to do with my nephew, whose time is ticking away. We do, after all, want him to come back next year.

And then the phone rang and it was Shasha letting us know that she had had the baby. "Everyone get in the car!" I shriek. "We're going to the hospital!" I admit, the hospital is probably not A#1 on people's lists of top Cape Cod tourist attractions. But one must also admit that there are far worse reasons to take a house guest to the hospital. The after effects of one's cooking, for instance. It's never happened here, of course. Just something I thought of.

Now common wisdom says that when you are expecting a baby you need to have a suitcase packed and in the trunk of the car. I've been expecting this baby for almost exactly 10 days, and I had done none of those things. So we peeled out of the driveway and drove to the CVS parking lot. I gave my nephew and Lucy $20 and told Lucy to pick something out at The Red Balloon. Yes, it is possible that this baby boy could have ended up with a My Pretty Pony Beauty Salon. While they were shopping, Studley and I scurried across the parking lot to The Sparrow and got Shasha a large Moroccan Mint iced tea. Having babies makes you thirsty.

We met back at the car and raced to The Big City (carefully observing the speed limit and the stream of traffic coming the other direction). Apparently it was a beach day after all. Whatever. We had a baby to meet!

We get there and I grab the baby from her arms, knocking over the Moroccan Mint iced tea. She is gracious. And probably drugged. Lucy distributes gifts (a teething ring shaped like a lobster) and proclaims that the baby is as cute as cute can be. We irritate the nurse almost immediately.

Her room overlooks the cranberry bog and so she has asked to be moved to the other side, which overlooks the harbor. Bog views will not be in demand for another month or so. We are hoping to spring her sooner than that.

By the way, she does not look like she has been awake all night having a baby. This does not surprise me, since she is the one who made everyone (okay, mostly just women) wish they were pregnant because she looked so darn good. I'm telling you, it's not right.

If she gets up in the morning and slithers into her pre-pregnancy jeans I am absolutely calling it quits on our friendship. Baby or no baby, there's only so much a woman can take.

Friday, August 17, 2007

from the pastoral, out to pasture

I don't mean to brag (okay, yeah I do) but we had spaghetti with pesto made from the garden, topped with tomatoes from the garden and Fresh Homemade Ricotta. Place your order right now for one of these silly cheesemaking kits. So easy. So ridiculously fun to brag about.

While I was making the cheese, the kids were busy making the pesto. They used Mollie Katzen's Pretend Soup recipe for Green Spaghetti. Lucy's copies of Pretend Soup and Salad People are dogeared and bespeckled with olive oil. Eventually we'll be able to eat the books themselves.

Now they are all hot and bothered about making popovers, and who am I to say no? Culinary adventures which result in an afternoon snack for me should be encouraged.

Speaking of afternoon snacks (I should call this blog Afternoon Snacks and the meals which surround them), we did not go to Dunbar for tea this afternoon. We did not go because Sandwich was CRAWLING with people and I could not get out of there fast enough. We even had to wait in line for the carousel. Worth it. We also had to wait in line for the Family Fun Day craft - also at Heritage. It was Exotic Flower Arranging Day - each child was given a vase and could pick out a piece of greenery and a flower. There were eleventy-billion children walking around Heritage with pastel vases and Exotic Flower Arrangements.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch....

We still have 4 chickens. I let them out of the coop for a couple hours today as they seemed a little morose. At first I thought it was because of The Disappearance, but then I realized that in chicken years they are teenagers. Which explains why they've been spending more time in their rooms and are a little pickier about what they eat. I am a very understanding person, so I gave them the chicken equivalent of a little cash and a ride to the mall. They clucked around in the rose bushes (which is good due to the neighborhood hawk population) and scratched up our compost heap (mmm, bugs!). They all seemed a little more themselves when we herded them back in for the afternoon.

If you are prone to queasiness or feel faint at the sight of the word "blood", stop reading now. Because the Great Disappearance was not the whole story. I feel I owe you the truth.

Two days ago, when the fox appeared on top of the coop it did indeed succeed in poking its sharp snapping teeth past the chicken wire (thus the fortification of the wire). As it turns out, Charity's bum was in the way of the snapping teeth. I discovered this when I went out to feed them and only four chickens greeted me. When I sought out Charity (sorry, can't think of 5 new chicken names so we'll use yesterday's) I saw that she was, well, punctured.

I was totally unprepared for this and called Sarah for advice. I had asked her once what you do when a chicken meets with ..... uh.... foul play and she assured me that there generally isn't much of anything left to bother oneself with. Except there was quite a bit of chicken left in our case. And she didn't look so good.

"Well," said Sarah, "do you have an ax?"

Augh!!!!!!!! I had to sit down and clutch at my stomach. AN AX?!?! She could hear the nausea in my voice, so she toned it down a bit.

"Yep, all you need is an ax and a stump and a metal rake. I can teach you how to drain it."

I think I'm going to be sick.

I thank her for the advice and go back to making Charity as comfortable as possible. And then the Chicken Rescue League (aka neighborhood fox) arrived in the night to tunnel her out and move her to a spa somewhere in the Berkshires (aka chicken heaven).

Which was kind of a relief.

I think I might actually have to be vegan after all. Except for the cheese.

----

Oh I've got it! Today the chickens are Britney, Christina, Jessica, Ashlee and Lindsay. You get to decide who's who - and who's left.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

someone had chicken sushi

Charity has ascended. At least I think she has. There was a big pile of fresh dirt next to a big hole next to the chicken coop this morning and Charity was gone - which means, obviously, that the Holy Ghost moved away the dirt so she could ascend unimpeded.

I understand that this is both sacreligious and improbable, so I must come to terms with reality. Sincerity, Prudence, Temperance and Patience are not saying what happened, so one must only assume the worst.

She eloped in the middle of the night.

We have AGAIN fortified the fortress in case any of the other girls have boyfriends who can dig.

On a happier note, I went to Phoenix Fruit & Produce today for some milk and saw a sign for local peaches. I stood there reading the sign, struggling to commit it to memory. It said:
The Long Awaited Debut from
The Native Peaches
comes out 8-15-07
"Corporate Peaches still suck!" ***** - Rolling Stone
"Sweet and delicious" - Spin
for fans of PA Peaches, NJ Peaches, White Nectarines and By Design
While I was standing there, Rachel (the owner) came up and said hi. I complimented her on the sign and, knowing that I am not quite right in the head, she asked if I'd like her to photocopy it for me. I did.

Because where do you get signs like this? I was at Stop & Shop once and noticed a computer generated sign that said "Ruby Red Grapefruits! Delicious in juice and pies!"

I'm not kidding. Pies. Do they even read the signs? Have they ever eaten a grapefruit?

And finally, I got my 14 year old nephew to eat both eel and octopus tonight. This from a child who used to see a trip to our house as comparable to an episode of Fear Factor (Mom! They eat LENTILS! They look like CAT FOOD! AUGH!).

We tormented him with sushi last year, and this year (to our great surprise) he was adamant about trying it. Even the weird stuff (although I did con him into the octopus). So we went to Mac's Shack, over-ordered, and dined like kings. Or seals.

Meanwhile at the next table we heard a woman say "don't put food up your nose" to her child. Which made us laugh until food came out our noses.

And that, my friends, was our day.

(she photocopied it in color, so I had to include it)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

pillows fluffed

I don't know about you, but if I were 14 years old and I had a relative on Cape Cod I'd make it my life's ambition to scoop ice cream for minimum wage.

But no, my nephew just comes for a week every summer. What's with that? If he had a job he'd get fed (all jobs around here involve food) and wouldn't have to eat my cooking. He even gets his own room, which is more than a lot of seasonal employees can say.

Anyway, he's here! So if you see him, please ask him why he doesn't spend the whole summer.

It is possible that he doesn't want to come for the whole summer because we send him home on the verge of nervous collapse every year. This year promises to be no exception. I picked him up at 1pm and went straight to the pond. We swam. We went boating. We watched the brave ones wake surf (had never seen such a thing - involving a surfboard and a tow line. Madness). And then we went to a concert on one of the many town greens (and watched some woman in the audience dance with a sword balanced on her head). And then we went for ice cream. And then we came home, at 9.

I for one could use a nap.

But I can't sleep because I woke up this morning to a cacophony of clucking and ran outside to discover a fox on top of the chicken coop. I am a wreck.

In fact, I have to go check on them now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Davy Jones' Locker vs. Andrew's Pitchfork

Little known fact: I sit on the board of a non-profit organization. I say I "sit on the board" because that's about all I do. Sit. I have no idea why they elected me.

Today we had a meeting with a potential new financial adviser. And he introduced us to an investment company he thought we'd be interested in. I for one, was very interested.

Not because I have any money to invest. I just liked the name - Bounty Management Corporation. I like my investment companies to think in terms of bounty. And it sounds sort of pirate-y. Someone else in our group is on the same Sea Captain track and made a Captain Bligh comment. You know, Mutiny on the Bounty.

Turns out the woman we're meeting with is a direct descendant of Captain Bligh. Oh, I am so sold on them. Her father, Raymond Bligh, started the company - after he got his Masters of Divinity degree. I also think it's important for my investment management people to have some degree of divinity. At this point I might just go get a coffee and wait to cast my vote. They are entirely too perfect.

She walked us through the proposal she brought - a plastic bound affair with no more than 5 talking points in 24 point type on each page. This is way, way more appealing than the textbook we received from the last person. Small print, scatter graphs. Egads.

Her talking points at one point include how she picks her stocks. It is now that I start to realize that she is really really smart. She's talking about global trends and how they effect different industries and natural resources and how she buys and sells accordingly. I think maybe investment people are the smartest people alive, since they have to know so darn much about everything. Politics, geology, economics, and plastic-bindery, to name a few.

As for the financial adviser, he had me sold while he was still in the parking lot. With the exception of Tucker Carlson, I generally like anyone in a bow tie.

Except pirates. Pirates should not wear bow ties.

Monday, August 13, 2007

music theory

Today I was thinking about Toubab Krewe. If they are playing anywhere near you, go. And be sure to get up close so you can watch them. They play these amazing looking instruments and have a lot of fun together. Seriously, you'll thank me.

I first found out about them from Relix magazine a year or so ago. I read the description and promptly went online to the Relix site and downloaded a song. Isn't technology wonderful? I read Rolling Stone all through high school and college and although I mostly read about bands I knew about, sometimes I would read about a new one and think hmmm, they look cool, but can they play?" So now you can find out - instantly! The "Too New To Know" and" Bands on the Verge" sections are my favorite hang-outs.

And because I can't think about any one thing for very long, I started wondering about how bands get a song posted on a site like Relix. Because I know some songs that people should find out about.

So I went back to their website, thinking it would be easy to submit a cd. It's not. There were writing guidelines and lots of different editors and I wasn't looking to write about these bands myself because that would sort of be like if someone at Publisher's Clearinghouse won the $10 million Sweepstakes. You know? It just seems like cheating. And I've never written for a music magazine.

But hey, it looks like I can because according to their guidelines, they'd "like to see more intimate stories about the people who work out of sight—and the places in which they work."

Wooohooo! I'm in, I'm in, I'm in! I could write about how Burning Spear's tour bus helped tow a car out of the parking lot because it was blocking everyone in and some crazy person wanted to leave the show early. Granted, I would probably get a paragraph or two into the story and start talking about how my friend looks just like Keith Richards. Which he does.

I'm not sure how Keith Richards and Burning Spear are related, but I'll make it work.

In other music news, I am in some serious pain after my new iPod workout. I think I better load my playlist with Viennese Waltzes.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

bathing suit season is almost over, time for some exercise

CD mixes are to music what pushers are to crack.

Thanks to a mix a friend made for me, I am now listening to an Imogen Heap cd - which I bought fair and square. I think maybe the recording industry does see the correlation of mixes and pushers and so they want to distance themselves from the music-as-recreational-drug stigma before someone else sees it and makes music illegal.

Because that would be bad for everybody. Especially me. I would get no exercise at all if it weren't for music. Here's my new exercise plan, which I am going to get everyone on. You look silly doing it, but that didn't stop people from power walking now did it?

So when I walk I take my iPod. And some of the songs are just perfect for my pace - the 3.7 miles per hour songs (Courtney Jaye "Can't Behave"). Others are fine after a warm-up (Blur "Song 2"). And then there are the songs that just make you want to dance (Nikki Costa "Everybody Got Their Something" or Shiny Toy Guns "Le Disko"). So I've decided to take my walks early in the morning when no one is looking and bust out the Somebody's Mother Dance Moves with the iPod when the spirit moves me.

I'm not the only one who wants to do this because everyone in the world has seen that Okay Go video on You Tube and as a result has become slightly more interested in treadmills. I had sort of forgotten about it, but just now looking up the link I had to watch it another 40 times.

I thought I would like to try that on a treadmill, but have since discovered that it would probably scare me in real life. In other exercise-related news, I tried skim boarding this evening.

It was Lucy's idea. We have a skim board, but no one knows how to do it. So she wanted to give it a try. She fell - SPLAT! - and decided maybe I better do it. I want her to be brave and willing to try things so I had to pretend that I was brave and willing to try things. I gave it a go. I tried several times and although I didn't end up flat on my back in the mud I also did not end up skimming across the tidal flats like a .... like a ..... I don't know what skims across tidal flats. Fiddler crab? Turns out you have to Commit and Be Brave. Run along, toss the board and leap on it. None of this wishy washy tentative nonsense. I may never get it.

But it was beautiful. The beach, not me. We went and had dinner on the beach and then watched the sun set over the flats while we played with our skim board. The sky turned the brightest pink and in turn made pink ribbons across the sand where the tidal pools stretched. More people than usual were on the beach - probably a hundred or so, all spread out along the beach and out on the flats. Every once in a while a camera would flash as people took pictures of their friends with the sunset behind them.

And with me in the background. I am so sorry for ruining your vacation pictures. I didn't mean to do it this time.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Dance this mess around

The only common denominator at tonight's B52's concert is that at one point we were all in some kind of school (junior high/ high school/ college) listening to their music. And then we split up and moved to the suburbs/communes/McMansion developments of our choice where we lived our separate lives until we reconvened tonight. Seriously, there was a Lily Pulitzer sundress a couple rows in front of us and directly to her right was a person (possibly a drag queen?) in a paisley mini dress and a beehive. The age range was 20-something to 60-something. The only people older than the audience were the security guards. And oh boy did they have their hands full.

We sat in the section where people had walked a long way from the parking lot and were interested in sitting down. So there we were, like a little island in the sun, dancing amid the sitter-downers. There was a time when this would have been a dream come true. You know, when you're all "hey, you in the band, look at me look at me look at MEEEEE!"

Tonight we didn't so much care that they knew we had ventured out on a Saturday night just to see them and we knew all the words to all the songs and had at one point dressed like them and toyed with the concept of false-eyelashes that cast their own shadows. We were, in fact, there to see the opening band, who totally kicked it. And then we stayed because of all of the above including, but not restricted to, knowing all the words to all their songs.

It was destined to be a perfect night. First of all, we were out. Second of all, Sarah drove the Falcon and when we were faced with parking 17 miles away (and missing the Ticks because of the 45 minute walk from the car) she leaned out the window and asked the stern and stoic parking lot security guy "can we park up front since we're so cute?"

I tell you, if I had EVER mustered the courage to say those words I would have just kept driving to my 17 mile away parking spot without waiting for an answer. And so I would have missed him saying "yes." Yes! He said yes!

"Nice car," he added. So we got rock star parking. We tried to look like this stuff happens all the time but were too busy squealing to pull it off effectively.

Speaking of rock star-ness, I had to stand there like the not-so-attractive wing girl while some woman GUSHED Sarah's praises and Would Not Shut Up. And she spilled beer on me while she was doing it. Whatever.

So because I can't just be where I am, I spent most of the concert thinking about where I was when I was listening to the songs the first time around. I used to ski with Cosmic Thing in my Walkman (remember? those things that weighed a lot and only fit 90 minutes of music). When Wild Planet came out I had a purple streak in my hair and wore mostly black and white checks. And somehow the songs were still around when I was old enough to get into nightclubs. Impressive, that.

They have some great pictures of the band on their website. No one, in the history of textiles, has ever been as stylish as the B52's. Except possibly us with the top down in the Falcon.

Hooray for the New York Times


They got it right in today's paper. I've mentioned Mac's Shack (above) before but didn't get a good shot of it. Also the Wicked Oyster. Here's the article. And be sure to click on the multimedia slide show for some great shots of the interiors. Makes me want to run right out and use our Abba gift certificate (thanks again, Steve!).

I'm so excited I can't even complete a sentence. Yay restaurant friends! You score!

Friday, August 10, 2007

artists

We have lost our marbles, and they have found their way to the driveway. They've lodged in the cracks and peek out from between the crumbly bits. There aren't many - we only had a few to start with - so it's always a pleasant surprise to see one. Especially after a rain, when they glint unexpected colors from the charcoal pavement.

It was not supposed to rain today. I had rallied troupes from several walks of life to meet me at Heritage for an outing. I left early (9am! the chickens were barely up) so I could get some errands done on the way. I left so early that my brain was not functioning clearly and I didn't register that rain = rain cancellation. So I went to the big city and did my grocery shopping and then I realized that even if it wasn't canceled, I didn't so much want to sit on wet grass for a show. Nope. So we turned it into a playdate.

And when I got home a strange thing happened. I've been spending so much time amid a flock of children that when my own two dashed by as I made dinner, I thought (fleetingly) where are the others?!?. I'm telling you, all my marbles are in the driveway.

So it was a good thing I was invited out this evening, away from the very short people who thunder through my home. I had to go because the invitation was completely fabulous. It was geared towards artists, of which I am not one. But I am always glad to be included in groups of artists.
When I go out with artists
They talk about language and the cubists and the dadaists
And I try to catch their meanings
And keep up with all the martinis
I don't know which should be my favorite paintings
(Crash Test Dummies)
One party invitation this summer suggested bringing a change of clothes. I like that.

Another invitation had hand-stamped squid amid the calligraphy. Also very good.

This invitation specified when to leave: "when the hostess brushes her teeth and puts her pajamas on." I like that, too. Because I always wonder what people are thinking when they put a closing time on their party invitations. As if they have any power WHATSOEVER over when people decide to get out of their house. And honestly, if I've gone to all the trouble of cleaning my house, I'm not going to ask people to leave. Not that I clean my house for parties. Obviously.

I have to say, artist parties have come a long way since I started working in the arts. I seem to remember more pizza boxes. I remember one artist couple who had a large pile of dirt in their back yard. They had turned it into an installation with the help of a couple hundred little green army figures. I also remember some artists who lived in an old piano store. It was strange yet marvelous to sit in the display window and watch the urban scene go by. The home I went to today was photo-shoot worthy (not that the other ones weren't). Jennifer lives above her gallery and if it weren't for the polite sign it would be impossible to tell where gallery stopped and living space started. Very, very lovely. And me without my camera.

The artists in my life have largely been replaced by musicians. I hadn't noticed the shift, but there it is. It makes me a little nostalgic for those days of art openings and crazy stories and inimitable lifestyles (not that musicians don't have crazy stories and inimitable lifestyles).

I could go on and on about the people who found a dead porcupine and tried stewing it to get the quills for art work (failing stinkily) or the back yard that became a series of found-object sanctuaries in response to the neighbors' complaints about the piles of junk. But for now I'll just be grateful to have known more than my share of fascinating people. Dang I've lived a charmed life. Keep those party invites coming.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

friends, or more specifically, friend

I have a new acquaintance. She is a friend of a friend and she would probably be an actual friend by now if I were totally sure I was calling her by her correct name. She does not look at all like her name, and so I am not convinced that I'm right in calling her that. I may have heard it wrong or am confusing her with her daughter, but at any rate she does not look like my best friend from the first grade who has the same name and is therefore what someone of that name should look like.

Are you following all this?

So every time we see each other, which is often, I am sort of off kilter and maybe not as friendly as I might be due to a lurking feeling that I am being a jerk. Honestly, if you can't get someone's name right.....

I got my car fixed the other day, and as I was walking through the dealership the man who sold me the car wished me a happy birthday and greeted both children correctly by name. Seriously, my husband can barely get all that right. How is that even possible? I am pretty sure I had taken the birthday hat off.

Back to the acquaintance who is a friend of a friend. There is no reason she should like me. She's one of those people who sort of scares me a bit because she is so different from me. She has lots of tattoos - which I have not gotten because I'm too scared, she is a single mom - which I would not have done because what would my mother think? she takes on the establishment when need be - see above about being too scared, and she has these really high ideals which make my attempts at leading a more environmental life look like.... attempts.

Oh, and she's probably 15 years younger than me which is REALLY INTIMIDATING.

But she seems to like me. I took that test online - the one where you identify the genuine smiles - and did quite well, so I think I'm right about this one. How can this be? And why is everyone more interesting than me?

My house is getting cleaner and so now I'm finding other things to fret about.

I am mostly fretting about the friend thing because I am losing one. She insists that it will be like all those times when we're both working too much and can't get together or maybe it's like she's taking a particularly long nap. But I'm sorry, Colorado is a really long way from here and I am NOT OKAY WITH SOMEONE MOVING THERE.

So I am now taking applications for a new friend. Good luck, applicants, because I already don't like you. You are not her. This is a problem because I have to like you instantly and not have to explain anything and not have to apologize for liking really dorky sports or stupid movies. And my kids have to start squealing with delight when they hear that we're going to your house. And you have to like all manner of fried food and be willing to eat my curry without grimacing.

So good luck with that.

On second thought, good thing my house is a bit cleaner since I'll be spending a lot of time here. Alone. Sulking.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

my birthday bash

So first I was going to be all adult-like and not mention my birthday at all. And then the cheesemaking thing came and I had to bring it up. So then I thought, well, I'll just not mention the actual date - you know, all coy - like it doesn't really matter when my birthday is. I'm an adult and adults need to get over the thought that they get one day a year that is unquestionably and unreservedly about them.

But I do think there should be one.

And I also didn't realize that IFAW was planning such a nice birthday bash for me! Thank you, IFAW! I'm sure it's because I stuck their banner on my blog (see- there it is!) and this is their way of saying thank you.

Not to be petty, but I wish they hadn't called my party WhaleFest.

So there it is. My birthday is today and I went to WhaleFest. There were a few people I knew playing (you rock!), so we were in and out of the tent all day - taking breaks from the concert to get a tattoo or do some crafts or have our faces painted like fish. And there was food - because IFAW knows how I love to eat sample snacks for dinner. Vegan spinach ravioli! IFAW had Dan'l Webster Inn bust out the vegan stuff just for me. IFAW also invited all these environmentally friendly organizations because they know I have chickens and that I take my own bags to Trader Joe's and I am on the verge of reading that Kingsolver book I mentioned yesterday. I am very Sustainable these days.

I also had to mention that it's my birthday because I heard the phrase "when you get to be my age...." repeatedly this afternoon. It came from my 8 year old babysitter. Which made me think about the whole age thing. Age is a question for Quantum Physics, because it just doesn't make any sense. Seriously.

But now back to me. Just after we got Studley's tattoo (your eyesight isn't failing, it's out of focus), I heard a song I recognized coming from the tent. The song was on a demo I received when I was working on a project a couple years ago. The band is from western Mass via the Bahamas, which means that the odds of seeing them at WhaleFest on Cape Cod are pretty slim. And yet. So after their set I went and introduced myself. It's Andrew Jones (in case such things interest you). If you click that link, listen to "Dr. Man". They gave me a cd, which counts as a birthday present.

Richie Havens and Arlo Guthrie were headlining, but by the time Richie came on the stage Studley had laid his little self down on the gravel to take a nap and I figured I better get them out of there. Besides, I was hot and tired and needed a water that wasn't $6.50. I did hear Richie Havens sing All Along the Watchtower, so that has to count for something.

Oh, on my way out of the house this afternoon I grabbed a couple sweatshirts for the kids - in case it got chilly. Fortunately I looked at one I grabbed and decided not to take it:

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

More cheese please, Gromit!

As you may know, I am on a quest to get rid of my extraneous belongings.* I am trying to simplify things and make some space so we have room to live. I don't want more stuff. I don't need more stuff.

But I do expect birthday presents. Which makes it difficult on people, I imagine. The last thing I asked someone for is chickens. We have them now and they don't require fancy collars, sweaters or carrying cases, so they are not handy pets in terms of subsequent gift ideas.

I thought it would be especially difficult on the people who tend to look at me and shake their heads - specifically, my sister. But she came through with flying colors. She sent me Ricki's Thirty Minute Mozzarella and Ricotta Kit from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. Brilliant!

She has been reading Animal Vegetable Miracle and has been inspired to buy locally (or at least domestically). This from the woman who used to buy packaged foods because they had More Preservatives.

She has also been inspired to get me cool stuff. There was apparently reference to New England Cheesemaking in Animal Vegetable Miracle.

Today is not actually my birthday, but when I came home today and discovered that a shipping box with the word "cheese" on it had been sitting in my non-refrigerated mailbox, I opened it immediately (with trepidation). Shrieking ensued. Lucy is excited. Studley is excited. I am excited. Chris came home, saw it, and is excited. I can't wait for my next group picnic, when I will show up with home grown tomatoes and basil with homemade mozzarella. I will be so smug I will probably be sent home.

Turns out you can also make stuff using the whey (the liquid you squish out as you're making the cheese). It can replace buttermilk in recipes, or you can use it as plant food. I'll let you know how this goes.

My sister told me a week or so ago that she had ordered my gift and she was a little nervous about it. This in turn made me nervous. It isn't easy to buy for each other because it involves picking out something we would never wear, read, eat or use ourselves. On the other hand, we like each other a lot and have figured out through the years what works.

Turns out she was just nervous because she knows I am Very Busy and On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and she didn't want to give me One More Thing To Do. Except that this thing makes me want to sweep all the pending projects off my kitchen counter and do nothing but make cheese. I can't do that right now, but I can look lovingly at the box whenever I walk by, and I can think of days in the not-so-distant future when the kids and I will need just such an activity.

Soon enough there will be no garden to take care of because everything will be dead and frozen. Kids will be in school. Work will slow down.

And everyone will get fresh mozzarella for Christmas.



*I am not getting rid of my Wallace and Gromit videos.

Monday, August 6, 2007

local color


Because I didn't describe it very well, here's the grill rig from yesterday. It just makes me giggle. That is not me, by the way. And those are "rat snouts" on the grill - or at least that's what they were called as they were handed to us. I think they're Trader Joe's chicken sausage. And we didn't have any condiments so Steve went "seagulling" - ie. walked down the beach asking people if they had any. Pardon me, have you any Grey Poupon?

And because it's better than what appeared in the paper, here's one of Chris' pictures of the flaming camper:


More interesting things, did you know that Bounce is an effective bug repellent? We have large biting flies - Greenheads - from the first full moon in July to the first full moon in August and they are unphased by such sissy products as Deep Woods Off. But try and soften them with Bounce and they run screaming. And what's with the full moon thing, anyway? Are they pagan or something?

Freaking Pagan Biting Flies.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Outer Beach

Pops by the Sea is an outdoor concert played in Hyannis by the Boston Pops. It happens every year, and every year I miss it. For awhile I was under the impression that it was a pricey affair. After all, it's Boston Pops. Last year I found out you could volunteer and get in for free so I checked out the website. Volunteering consisted of landscaping the grounds, building a stage, seeding the clouds to redirect rainstorms and other such projects. I didn't feel like doing any of them so I skipped it altogether. This year I discovered that tickets were $10 and kids under 12 are free. I can swing that.

So I called Sarah and she was excited about it and we talked and talked about it and absolutely were going to go today - except we had no tickets and they were sold out.

Pops by the Sea is for music snobs who don't have four-wheel drive. Granted, up until this morning, that was me. But Sarah had the great idea of doing something BETTER than Pops by the Sea, to make up for the heartbreak. So we went to the outer beach in her all-terrain van.

Going to the outer beach is one of the best things in the world. When I first heard about it, I envisioned driving out to remote parts of the beach where no one else was. This is not true. Considering how packed people are on the regular beach, it's partially true. Each car has probably 30 square feet of beach. You pull up and unload your grill and your surfboards and your wind break and your chairs and umbrellas and cooler and inflated toys and proceed to recreate a sort of living space on the beach. Heck, you could probably do one of those Crate and Barrel patio get-ups out there, complete with twinkly lights and rattan furniture.

You can even drive your Winnebago out there, although today did not turn out to be a good day for campers.

Because one caught on fire. Yep, about half a mile down the beach there were flames and big puffy black billowy clouds of smoke. Our big strong nosey husbands walked down to check it out - armed with cameras and video equipment - while we women-folk stayed behind taking care of the homestead. As we watched the goings-on, I noticed that there was a sort of pilgrimage along the water line. If you looked to the south all you saw was the backs of people walking away (toward the camper). If you looked to the north, there was a stream of people walking toward you. It looked like Night of the Living Dead. Or possibly phase one of The Rapture. These may be the same thing. As we stood there watching the procession, I wondered quietly to myself (assuming it was Phase I of the Rapture) if the people walking were getting sucked up into heaven or if it was just a way to skim off the Unworthy so the rest of us could get sucked up into heaven more efficiently. This made me wonder further if I should stay put, or start walking. And then I wondered how lunch was coming along.

Lunch was great. Steve set a grill on a skim board, propped up on a tire and a step ladder. He's obviously done this before. We also had all kinds of side dishes. Your whole concept of picnics goes out the door when you can transport a buffet-style spread.

We played in the water and some of the brave ones went swimming. The kids were in the water most of the morning, which is exactly what water and kids are supposed to do. Who doesn't remember being completely frozen and refusing to come out of the water?

Little by little, news of the camper fire came down the beach. No one was hurt. It was an engine fire. It was a rental - not much personal stuff went up in flames. And so on. I don't know if all the information was factual, but I did appreciate that none of it was fear-mongery (it is hard trying to figure out how to spell words that aren't really words. Monger-y? Mongerey?). We all wanted it to be okay. Everyone was safe. Flames were 20 feet high. It burned to the ground.

At the end of the day we reconvened at the pond for dinner and an evening rowboat ride. Pretty darn great. Who needs Boston Pops?

Saturday, August 4, 2007

baseball - live and in person

Today was neither pink nor sparkly. But I did manage to turn it around at the last minute. After spending the day watching the kids wilt inside while we tried to catch up on the house (I cleaned out the utensil drawer in my kitchen - huzzah!), I decided to take them to the playground for a picnic dinner.

When we got to the playground, which is next to the baseball field, we noticed baseball players. In uniform. And I thought, oh goody, we can watch them practice. It will be almost like we got our pathetic selves to a game for the first time since ever. And then I looked past the players and noticed lots of blankets and chairs dotting the hillside.

The thing about Cape Cod Baseball League games is that.... I'm not sure what the thing is. But lots of people go, which may be the thing. So during the day everyone who likes baseball comes by the park and marks their territory with a blanket. If you show up at game time without having first secured a spot, you're hosed. And really, you can't just show up at game time, because there's no parking by then.

And it occurred to me that all of my arguments for usually not wanting to go were already settled. We were already parked, we had not fought with traffic, we had a blanket to put out and we had plenty of food.

So we marked some territory of our own and returned to the safety of the playground while the hoards amassed and the team practiced. I don't understand why they practice just before a game. It is hot. They must be pooped. This is why I am not a baseball player. I don't like being hot and pooped and unable to take a shower before lots of people come to see me.

When the time came, we wandered over and found our blanket. I know just enough about baseball to be an embarrassment. Lucy kept asking me questions and although I answered them as best I could, I still drew disgusted looks from the teenagers in front of us. Finally, a player from the other team struck out swinging and when Lucy asked me what all the cheering was about I explained that he was high sticking. The teenagers then found their headphones and tuned me out entirely.

Maybe it's because I was there with two small children in whose continued physical intactness I am invested, but holy moley there were a lot of foul balls. I have never paid such close attention to a game. And I will never never never again park within 5 miles of the field on game night. I was sure I'd come back to the car to find a smashed sunroof. And trampling footprints of foul-ball-chasing kids going through from one door (swinging on its hinges) to the other.

I even came away with a favorite player. He is #23 and he may or may not be Chase D'Arnaud. He is my favorite player because he was so gracious with a bunch of kids who wanted his autograph. I am not sure what else to judge a baseball player on. Commercials? I say he may or may not be Chase D'Arnaud because when I looked up the roster online it didn't link and there was mention of being signed. Will the real #23 please stand up?

Speaking of being signed, there's a place at the ball park just for MLB scouts. I don't know what an MLB scout is but I bet it's one up from Eagle Scouts. At least. They get to sit way up front, without staking claim with an old blanket. It kind of made me want to hang around in case there was something I could be scouted for. Obviously, I am a brilliant sports writer, so maybe they could sign me for that.

By the end of the game Lucy and Studley had both rushed the fence and were cheering wildly. They loved it so much they even made friends with the mascot.

I could kind of see why they were having such a good time. I might have to actually like baseball.

Friday, August 3, 2007

is it over yet?

We wait all year for this. But when summer is finally in full swing, we all start talking about the fall. Today we were talking about all the boating we'll do once the lake isn't bestrewn with motorboats. Yesterday we were talking about autumnal retreats to spas. Actually, we talk about spa retreats almost daily, whatever the season.

Every weekend in September and most of the weekends in October are booked. I used to think we did this so it wasn't such a let down when the summer ended. Now I suspect it's because we are a bunch of crotchety New Englanders who like the influx of cash but can't stand to be any nicer than we absolutely have to. We can only keep it up so long, you know.

We also plan things for the fall because we only have 8 weeks or so before we are plunged into winter. Winters are mild here, but we are not as hardy as we are made out to be and we like to whine a lot. I actually just had to look up "hearty" and "hardy" to make sure I used the right word. Although both refer to vigorous good health, "hearty" sites "enthusiastically or exuberantly cordial : jovial." New Englanders have never, in the history of New England, been characterized as "exuberantly cordial." So sorry.

I am not from here, so I can say these things without casting myself in an unfriendly light. I am perfectly cordial. Jovial, even. I just don't happen to like crowds and frequently prefer to hide in my basement.

Anyway. Because I see summer trickling away even when it's not, I am frantic to get as much summerness packed in as I can. Yesterday Lucy woke up and asked if we were going to do something fun again. The last few days, she said, were "all pink and sparkly."

Even when we are living fully in the correct season, we sometimes picture how it will be at some unnamed point in the future. I had a vision today of us sitting on the beach like in a scene from the Ya Ya Sisterhood (you know, when the kids are doing their thing and we're not having a nervous breakdown about them drowning or choking or being eaten by a woodland creature). I think it will be lovely - although I will not notice it because I'll be too busy reminiscing about how Studley fell asleep in my lap after a day of swimming.

Maybe it's just that time is going so fast these days. I remember school vacations that went on forever. Summer is so hectic. It flies by, and all those projects that are planned for the off-season... well, before you know it spring is creeping up and you are once again behind on planting your darn vegetable garden.

Speaking of vegetable gardens, everything is starting to ripen - but I'm sick of taking care of it. Oh what I would give for an attention span.

My nephew once asked me if I wouldn't just love to get all our home renovation projects DONE. Frankly, no. Because then what would we do? What would I complain about? What would I have to look forward to?

Fortunately, these are questions I don't have to worry about. It's summer, after all, and all the contractors are booked solid right through October.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

goal setting

When you set a life goal for yourself, you need to make sure your daily actions reflect that goal. Some people find it helpful to summarize their goal in one word, so as to more easily remind themselves of it through the day. This has been working for me, and I'd like to share it with you.

My life goal, at this moment, is to make people who have grown kids or have no kids or who are younger than me with all the world ahead of them, wish that they could put aside their careers and their homes and their personal lives so they can be a little more like me. You know, with a couple of kids and a partish-fullish-time job and a perpetually messy house and lots and lots of laundry.

This is all a little hard to remember, so I use the One Word method. There is a yogic term for this, but for the life of me I can't remember it.

My word is "envy."

The thing I have to do most is try to stop wheezing and panting and swearing when I am out running errands with the kids in 90 degree weather. It just doesn't look enviable.

You know..... Eliminate the negative, accentuate the positive, latch on to the affirmative .... something something mister-in-between. Oh I have no idea how that song goes.

In an effort to accentuate the positive, I try to fill my days with as much stuff as possible that will make other people crazy with jealousy. Today I went with my friend to her mother-in-law's house - the house with the private beach. We spent the day playing in the water and gossiping about this and that. Our kids play together and promise to require very little attention in the coming years. They require a good bit of attention now, but that attention means that we need to spend time in the water ourselves and I'm okay with that when it's 90 out.

I am such a pansy.

When the sun is not so hot and it becomes evident that we should probably leave (the welcome mat says "oh no, not you again") I give the 5 minute warning blast and start to pack up. This is when my friend mentions that she is coming back tomorrow and would we...... I invite myself before she can finish the sentence. Since it is a private beach, we pack up our stuff enough so that the geese won't borrow our floaty toys but then leave it under a table for our return tomorrow. We can then skip up the hill unencumbered by the usual 72 pounds of towels and sunscreen. As we're getting ready to commence skipping, my friend says to her mother-in-law, "can I leave the kids here with you tonight?"

I stop dead in my tracks. Can I have heard this right? I am so jealous I can hardly stand it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

cheap help

I sprung for a yoga class, so that's like paying her, right?

Today is Child Labor Day. My kids spent the afternoon outside with their 8 year old babysitter while I was inside "working". I kept peering out at them from the upstairs window, rather like Mrs. Danvers (without the uncomfortable looking high-necked dress, although you can picture me that way if you'd like). The day almost backfired when we arrived home and discovered that the power was off. Yes, we paid our bill - it was almost the whole town that was out. And my laptop battery was low. Which left me with not so much work to do and way too much laundry to fold.

And then I got used to having no children to watch and no work to do. I kind of like this. Next time maybe I'll book that Thai Massage I've been meaning to get.

The best thing about today is that I am somehow in the position of having done the other parents a favor. They keep thanking me! Me! Who is sitting around drinking iced coffee and flipping through an IKEA catalog while their daughter does all the heavy lifting! By the time the power came on I was actually ready to sit down and get some work done. I was feeling sort of guilty. Not guilty enough to cancel next week's Thai massage, but guiltyish nonetheless. My house is not even trashed because the babysitter brought books and toys and then packed them all up and took them home.

I can call her the "babysitter" because she has studied up on babysitting. She checked out books and videos from the library and knows not to feed little kids grapes or popcorn or leave them alone in the tub.

Yikes. When I think of the babies I was left with when I was 12 or so, it makes my heart race a little. What were those parents thinking? Seriously. I never checked out books from the library. I had absolutely no idea about half this stuff until I had kids of my own and my babysitter filled me in.

So I may not have been the wisest child care choice then, but let me tell you, I am a whiz-bang mom now. I know how to set up a playdate and give it a job description. Maybe I'll print up some Mommy's Helper business cards for her. When it was time for Lucy's yoga class I asked The Sitter if she'd like to go too. She did. They did yoga while Studley and I went down the street for some onion rings.

Finally, because she was more fun than I generally am, my kids were asleep at 7 sharp.

I am a genius.

being outside

Today I drove up to a friend's house and noticed a stroller in her garage - something I have looked forward to seeing for a long time. Actually, I have only looked forward to seeing strollers in the garages of my friends for 5 years or so. Before that I didn't give so much of a hoot.

I took her coffee and a muffin because she is so large with child that she can't get through her door. Oh, wait, no... that was me. I took her coffee and a muffin because I had my kids with me and rather than have to restrain them at the coffee shop I thought it would be better to unleash them at her house. That way she can see what she's in for.

Mostly, she's in for everything being a little stickier than it used to be. Which is why I referred our house cleaner. We have a house cleaner so I can drop the fact that we have a house cleaner in conversations and let people know that if my house is a disgusting mess it's not my fault because it's not my job. I don't mention how rarely we ask her to come.

My friend had an organic watermelon, which she cut up and shared with us. Fortunately, the weather was nice and we were able to sit outside. Given the amount of lycopene my children just ingested, they may not age past today. Or maybe they'll just get taller. Most importantly, my friend now knows that she will go bankrupt feeding her own child, since children can put away several times their own body weight without blinking.

Today we also went to another outdoor concert in Hyannis. I took a picture because it really is lovely:

That's a band kid rushing the stage. We start groupies early out here. Some things of note in the photo: boats in the background because the stage is on a harbor, sporty buoy sculpture thingies to the right, in case you missed that you are near the water. And if you look carefully, you can see a brown paper bag to the left of the guitar player, thusly:

That brown bag has our dinner in it. There are a couple burritos, some chips, some rice and beans and a quesadilla. And there is a band between it and us. And the band is playing. And people are watching. So I am faced with the choice of making my way past the band and retrieving my dinner, or sitting idly by in a polite yet hungry manner.

It was delicious.*

It was sunset when the band stopped playing, making the boats all turn pink. And the wind was coming off the water, making everything salty and wonderful.

We will all sleep well tonight.

*Lest you think poorly of my concert manners, I had Chris sneak around behind the stage. Bands are used to him lurking around on the stage.