Sunday, September 30, 2007
On the right is Royston Nash, Maestro Emeritus. Revered, Poised, Elegant, British. On the left is Jung-Ho Pak, Maestro Apparent. Young, Fresh, Distinctly Unstodgy. Royston seems to be okay with his successor - an endorsement.
Still, I was a little nervous for him. This is New England, where change is frowned upon.
The second he stepped on the podium today he rallied the orchestra in an unexpected round of the National Anthem. He turned around and conducted us for a little bit, since the musicians are professionals and we were the ones needing some help. He sang as he conducted, as if to say, "my name is Jung-Ho Pak, I've been an American all my life."
And then he explained the first piece of music on the program, which had 5 movements - each by a different composer. It was sort of a getting-to-know-you piece, with each movement expressing a bit about him. I immediately pictured him with all his famous composer friends. They are all jumping up saying "ooh, ooh, let ME write a movement!" One movement was about his summer home in Interlochen. So we have a young conductor with an interesting name who is as American as apple pie, has a pocketful of composers at his bidding and a resort residence at which to spend his weekends. He probably speaks eight languages.
I was thinking he should have had a projection behind the orchestra, scrolling the titles of what's currently on his iPod shuffle. You can tell a lot about a person that way. I bet his has a pile of highbrow stuff with some Devo and Fat Boy Slim thrown in.
So within the first half hour, he's completely charmed us. And once he has us where he wants us, we get to hear Mozart's Violin Concerto #3 and Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony. He actually made my mother cry during the Tchaikovsky. Dang, he's good.
I like the 5th symphony because most of the musicians are playing most of the time. It always throws me when the last couple rows are working on their counted cross-stitch during the movements in which they don't play. I mean, if they're not paying attention, why should I?
And in case you're thinking it's just Cape Cod Symphony, how good could it possibly be?, my mother cut her orchestral teeth on Boston Symphony (although to the best of my knowledge she never actually bit anyone) and she is choosing to subscribe instead to CCSO this year. So there.
We ran into our cellist friends in the parking lot after the concert. They tell us that he is Very Good and Very Exhausting. He does not let them get away with anything. The orchestra was definitely on High Alert - I thought maybe they had had too much coffee. Apparently there will be no needlecrafts.
If you were wondering, it's a hard "J" and Pak rhymes with rock. As in Jung-Ho Pak rocks.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
At my meeting I met a woman from Latvia who is married to a flute maker. Allegedly his flutes are some of the best in the world. I am not sure if she's saying that because she's his wife or if it's the other way around. She's a flutist (flautist?) so anything's possible. I liked her immediately because she a) thought I looked much younger than I am and b) suggested I looked a bit like Juliette Binoche. In all fairness, I liked her immediately even before she said that. She's been in this country for a year and I loved hearing her talk about her first impressions. She doesn't drive (she's from where they walk everywhere and have very efficient public transportation), so she can't very well come visit me on weekends. Perhaps we will be pen pals.
And then when I got home I discovered that my family was at a party so I grabbed some sweatshirts for everyone and joined them. The party was at a new house in Wellfleet, which we haven't seen since it was completed. When we were last there they had just put in the tubes for the radiant heat. The house is a post and beam, with pine walls and an open floorplan. Very spacious and well thought out and liveable. I wish I had gotten there before dark so I could have snooped more effectively.
They have a guesthouse with a large deck, and that's where the band set up. I say "band," but it was really a stage of revolving bands. By the time we left, the musicians from different bands were joining forces and playing covers of everything from Aerosmith to The Velvet Underground.
Their house (and a few others we've become acquainted with in the last year or so) reminds me of a book my dad had, Handmade Houses, by Art Boericke and Barry Shapiro. Very cool. These are homes that have so much character you almost have to get to know the houses in order to get to know the people who live there.
You know, there are some very cool people in this world.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Today we visited a friend of a friend in her new digs. We went armed with a basket of daisies and two mini pumpkins. We had the two mini pumpkins because they had piles of them at the garden center where I bought the daisies and it was easier to spring the $1.80 than remove them from my children's iron grips. The garden store also had cobblestone paths, so we had to follow Lucy around and around in circles to make sure she hit each path. I remember doing this and so was uncharacteristically patient.
Daisies and pumpkins in hand, we headed to the nursing home. We signed in at the door, where we were given a small card with a series of codes printed on it. The nurse led us to the door of the common room and instructed us that we would have to use one of the codes on the card to get back out. She mentions that Mrs. Crane is sitting on the couch and she'll be delighted to see us.
We go through the door and find ourselves face to face with two ladies on the couch. "Is one of you Mrs. Crane?" I ask. I am sure I've met her before, but for the life of me I can't remember. They both nod and smile. Lucy and Studley give them each a pumpkin and I set the flowers on the coffee table. "Are you Mrs. Crane?" I ask the one closest to me. She smiles. The other one is smiling slightly more, so I ask her the same question. She, too, smiles as if to say "I'm Spartacus!". The ladies do not care who Mrs. Crane is, they have visitors. They are both petting my children, who are not freaking out.
I look around for someone who might know who's who. A lady walks up who looks vaguely familiar. I ask her if she knows who everyone is. She'd like to help, but she's only been there a short time and hasn't learned people's names. And then a nurse walks by and I ask her "excuse me, can you tell me which one is Mrs. Crane?" She points to the lady who looks familiar. Oh, right. I introduce myself properly.
The other two ladies go back to watching Bonanza. Studley begins trying out every chair, especially the ones that rock. "I could just eat him," claims one of the ladies. I check to make sure I still have the card with the exit codes.
Lucy begins shepherding Studley, frequently unsticking him when he wedges himself between chair and table. Everyone in the common room has turned to watch them. They are the Friday afternoon entertainment. Lucy tickles Studley and the room fills with giggles, not all of them Studley's.
We stay until I start to worry about dinner. I ask the kids to say goodbye, and although Lucy is unwilling to murmur a syllable, Studley blurts out "Bye! Craney!"
Mrs. Crane has probably never in her life been called "Craney!". She may well still wear white gloves when she goes out. I am sure her children were extremely well brought up. I am also sure she's hoping Studley does the same thing when we go back next week.
'Cause I'm Mrs. Crane, yes I'm the real Craney
All you other Mrs. Craneys are just imitating
So won't the real Mrs. Craney please stand up,
please stand up, please stand up?
Thursday, September 27, 2007
I have moved across the country 3 times with nothing but a place to sleep lined up at my destination. I have missed some flights and have slept in train stations and an airport. Once I went to Aspen with a couple friends to see a rugby match and ended up sleeping in my car - with the two friends. It was a Volkswagen Golf. We had to climb in and out of the sunroof.
My lack of planning pales in comparison to what I've married into. The day after our wedding, Chris and I drove north and found a place to honeymoon. It was beautiful and perfect in every way. Then we started a family in spite of the fact that our child would have to sleep in a wide spot in the hall. It is a very lovely wide spot.
Nothing really dramatic since then, just an everyday sense of "we'll see what today brings us." This serves us well, because often what the day brings is far more interesting than what we may have planned. Unexpected visitors, impromptu dinners, late night chats.
I never planned to live in a multi-generational house where the family tree branches are forked and lush and flowering. I thought I had left my days of living in a house with six other people behind me when I graduated from college. Did I plan this? No. Would I trade this? No.
I have always loved the idea of a town center where people meet, have coffee, catch up. Our home has become that town center (especially with the new deck!) and I can't believe how lucky I am.
Anyway, why am I going on about all this? Because I just read something that said Live Generously and I can't stop pondering the implications of such living. I am pretty sure it doesn't mean to Consume Generously. I think that the more you simplify the material aspects of your life, the more actual Living you can do. Sometimes we are so busy planning and outlining that we miss the generosity of Life itself.
So maybe a house overrun with family and chickens and Tomato Plants Gone Wild is not for everyone. But for me, right now, it feels like the most generous gift in the world. A gift I never could have planned.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
On my way in I saw someone I knew in the hall. He asked how I was and I said "fine so far - I haven't been to class yet." One of my fellow kickboxers overheard me and said "oh yeah, that's a great attitude."
It's not attitude. It's realism.
My teacher's name is Mary Lou. You have to be careful of Mary Lous because they are just not what you think they are. I figure a kickboxing instructor named Mary Lou will be all happy and peppy and sing along to the songs. I do not expect her to look at me and yell "MORE FIRE, WOMAN!"
The other Mary Lou I knew was a stripper. Whenever we went out she always had fists of cash and would pick up the tab. You know when you were handling money and your mother said "you never know where that's been"? She was right.
That Mary Lou is different from this Mary Lou. If this Mary Lou were a stripper she would be more like Pamela Anderson in Barb Wire. You know, when she goes undercover at the beginning and, oops, kills someone.
There, I've admitted to seeing Barb Wire.
At one point I realized that if I could find the beat and figure out the footwork it was almost painless. In some ways it was not unlike that ballroom dancing class we took a few years back. I then wondered if pole dancing is the same way and puzzled over where Mary Lou the First is now so I can ask her. And because I haven't been paying attention I have lost the beat and am kicking with the wrong foot and all is lost.
"COUNT IT!" shouts Mary Lou.
And then, as punishment, she tells us to all go get weights. My that's-a-great-attitude friend assures me that I've made it through the hardest part and not to worry. She is much kinder with the breakfast beaten out of her.
So then we do jumping jacks with the handweights. And then we do push-ups without the handweights. And then we go into plank pose and hold it for THREE MINUTES. After which we do three minutes of crunches. After which we die. After which we continue to experience the same class in the afterlife and are allowed to stretch.
The afterlife is totally worth it. There's hollandaise in the afterlife.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I have never been one due to the fact that I was not raised Catholic (or Episcopalian). I know, it sometimes appears that I was raised Catholic due to my working knowledge of the stigmata and saints in ecstasy. But no, I just paid attention in my art history classes. So this is all new to me.
And because I have no prior experience (and no godmother of my own), I think of all godmothers in terms of Fairy Godmothers and someone asking me to be one implies that I am the kind of person who can turn mice into coachmen and create a ball gown out of thin air. Yeah me!
I can't write more at the moment because I am too busy researching my responsibilities. But if anyone has any sure fire methods of turning mice into coachmen (or day laborers), please let me know. There is still a lot of cleaning up to do around here. Darn parties.
Monday, September 24, 2007
So then she comments back on my own blog and judging from that comment I think I have commited myself to playing along with the "make something, photograph it and share the recipe" gig.
This is a problem because today is my day off. By "day off" I mean that I go to work while Chris stays home with the kids. I usually get home around 5:30, which is when I have to have dinner on the table so I can get the kids in bed by 7. I have to have the kids in bed by 7 because I have important things to do in the evening. Obviously.
So I was going to take a picture of my crock pot. I wouldn't take a picture of what comes out of the crock pot because it always looks disgusting. Unless you dish it up and put a nasturtium on the side, or maybe a baby octopus on top.
But then I didn't end up making something in the crock pot and on my way home from work I was thinking thinking thinking of something that would be photogenic yet fast. Besides my college roommate.
This is what I made:
It's just mixed greens with crumbled gorgonzola, dried cranberries, sugared pecans, slices of bosc pear and some shrimp to fancy it up a bit for the picture. I don't usually put the shrimp on.
But let me back up. I discovered on my way home that we were making a group family dinner and there would be scallops and salmon. Chris volunteered me to handle the salmon because I have the world's best salmon recipe.
Here it is:
Yes, that's the recipe, not the salmon. I think it originally came out of Cooking Light. The salmon was actually fairly photogenic but people were eating it before I could pick the nasturtiums.
Here's how you make it: Preheat oven to 400. Put 3T brown sugar, 1T soy sauce, 4t hot mustard and 1t rice vinegar in a small pan and bring to a boil so the sugar dissolves. Set aside. Line a jellyroll pan with foil, spray with oil and put your salmon on it. Salt & pepper if you wish. Bake for 12 minutes. Take it out, move oven rack to top and preheat broiler. Brush the sauce on the salmon and broil for three minutes.
This is the recipe that got my niece and nephew to eat fish. It is that good. I usually put my salmon on top of the salad. I happen to like meals that are in layers rather than sections. The rest of the family made scallops, rice and mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes rock my world.
As for the kids, we just fed them whatever was ready by 6 (scallops and rice) and then threw them in bed. Since she missed the salmon, I promised I'd put some in Lucy's lunchbox for tomorrow. She digs it.
It has since occurred to me that people MUST be photographing what they make on some other night and then posting it on Monday. You know, "ta da! I just whisked together this fab meal, photographed every stage, jotted down the recipe as I thought it up and my family set the table while I did it!"
In fact, it might all be photoshopped. Because I could make a pretty convincing dinner in Photoshop. Possibly in less time.
I'll do it right after I make Robin's Supreme Squash Casserole and eat the whole thing myself when no one is looking.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
I am commandeering it, and finding a safe place for it so it will not be sat on by Studley. I am also commandeering it because I think it is beautiful and I am selfish and want it in my livingroom. I don't usually do this with their belongings. Usually it is quite the opposite.
Note the white pebble stone wall that goes around the back. I am told she and a friend made a whole fairy compound behind a cemetery last winter. There were houses and toadstool circles and treeforts and pretty much everything a fairy would want in a neighborhood. They built and built until a windstorm took it away. They had spent 4 or 5 months making it, which must have made for a very happy winter.
Lucy's was quickly inhabited by 4 fairies, made by another friend's daughter.
As people were oggling the fairy house last night, I had to introduce our pig (which I also commandeered - probably at Christmas):
Although it would probably be spectacularly gratifying for my sister-in-law to see the kids toting this around, I am not giving them that chance. I am too afraid for its life ("Terrific!" "Some Pig!"). It sits on top of an antique cabinet in our livingroom.
Yesterday my sister-in-law gave Lucy a handmade dress with a matching jacket AND a matching bunny rabbit. I am not posting pictures because I am too sickened with jealousy (both of Lucy's haul and the skill with which they were made). I try not to knit, or sew, or try anything fancy with my hot glue gun when she's around.
In Denver there's a house with the motto (essentially) "The ornaments of a house are the guests who frequent it" carved over their mantel.
I couldn't agree more. Thank you to our friends who ornament our home, both with your presence and your offerings. It just wouldn't be Trout Towers without you.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Shortly after I decorated the lawn a group of cyclists came down our street and stopped to point and coo. At least I like to think they were cooing. I had streamers of pink tulle blowing from the trees. I had ribbons and bows tied to branches. I had poofs of pink tulle sprouting all over the lawn. Seriously, if there were any real honest-to-goodness woodland fairies in the neighborhood, they would have been falling over themselves to come live at our house.
I would attach pictures, but in the background of every darn picture there's a lawnmower or the burn pile or one of our seven vehicles, or a heap of bikes or or or....
But I'm getting ahead of myself. So here I am in my house, baking and whatevering when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a small fairy child and her mother nearly two hours early. I am not wearing party clothes. I have not showered. I very possibly have cupcake batter in my hair.
But what a blessing, because I was thinking what I should have done was to set up a playdate for Lucy so she would have something to do besides peck at me like a duck. I am glad I had thought of this, because usually if I see a guest arriving nearly two hours early I fast forward to having a nervous breakdown.
Fast forward instead to the rest of guests arriving. They all picked out their fairy crowns, which I had made from fake ivy vines and a bunch of ribbon. Come to think of it, once they put them on they looked a bit more like a crown of thorns than a fairy halo. Paired with the emergency back-up fairy wings I had ordered (which were packaged as Angel Wings NOT Fairy Wings), I wound up with eight Pagan Christ Fairy Angels twirling around on my lawn. On Yom Kippur.
Now I know there's probably some kind of Science that tells you how to make cupcakes from a cake recipe, but it escapes me. So I flipped through my shelf of cookbooks. Nothing. I went online. Nothing. I mean, there were things, but they were not Vanilla Cupcakes as specifically requested. And then I remembered that I have a book which refers frequently to cupcakes. A book I read cover to cover upon receiving it last Christmas.
Yes, I used Amy Sedaris' recipe for Lucy's birthday cupcakes. From a book subtitled "Hospitality Under the Influence." I have to say that the recipe printed in the link is not nearly as interesting as the version in the book. Not that the end product isn't the same. My point is, just go get the book. One of my guests read part of it while she was here and I better go make sure she didn't steal it. I thought her diaper bag looked a bit pointy when she left.
Party, per invitation, was 2 to 4pm. Last guests left at 5:30 and I promptly had a nice hot soak in the tub and did a little knitting - oh wait, that's my alternate reality in which I am not a completely insane person who sometimes likes double-booking parties.
I was not all that interested in cleaning my house for a bunch of 5 year olds, so I figured we should invite a bunch of our friends over afterwards. You know, at 6. In hindsight, the house and grounds were TRASHED by the time the fairies left, so really all you have to do is tell people they are coming after a 5 year old party and you don't have to clean ahead of time.
By six the weather was looking sketchy so we moved all the food and drinks inside. At 7 it looked like our house was going to explode so we moved all the food, drinks and people back outside. Fortunately, this was our group of Self Service friends - you know, the ones who know how to make themselves at home and help carry stuff and basically run the party themselves while you sit inside and show people your cupcake recipe. We have some high maintenance friends, but we may have forgotten to invite them. Ever.
Friends are good. Parties are good.
Sleep is good, too. Goodnight.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
My mother-in-law tells me that when she was growing up in the south the housekeepers would talk amongst themselves and share stories about the homes they worked in. I cannot begin to tell you how this keeps me up at night.
Besides, pretending that your house is always clean with your cleaning lady is like pretending you're in shape with your personal trainer. It's best they get it all straight right from the start.
And for the record, we don't have a house cleaner because we ...... I don't know - why do people have house cleaners? We have her because we have come to the realization that we Can't Do It Ourselves (not that we won't). We're pigs. We're busy pigs. We're very busy pigs.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I was, of course, ridiculously pleased when I figured it all out. And I know that I should link her too, but I can't. I can't because there's still a little piece of 7th grader in me who is not so interested in sharing friends. Okay true, I have never and probably will never meet her. But I don't like the idea of people wanting to talk about her blog with me. You know, implying that they know her better and that they're better friends and so forth. And then the next thing you know they're calling me and telling me what she's done next, totally ruining the surprise when I sit down and check in on all my favorite writers.
So there. And since I'm not giving it up, I'll entice you further. I encountered her blog just before she started with one of those dating services. She went on A Lot of dates. And then she met someone she liked and dumped all the others (without even asking us). What has ensued sometimes makes me forget that I am reading someone's journal. It's more like a novel, where she gives just enough information to make us wonder What On Earth will happen next. And because I think it's a novel I go out of my mind when she casually mentions that she sometimes hears noises in her house and that it was comforting to have her dog except now she doesn't have the dog..... In a novel you can't possibly have mysterious noises and no companion canine unless.... oh unless.... and all those dates and the mysterious boyfriend whose job sometimes takes him out of town.....
It's all very compelling.
And maybe sometime I will grow up and share her with you. If I do (or if you find her on your own), please remember and never forget, she was my friend first.
Oh, and for the people reading this who actually know her - please disregard the bit about me being friends with her first. See, I am a totally fair and reasonable 7th grader.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
And after the party, I think I'll go out with a crowbar and personally remove our driveway. It might be sort of gratifying. I'll invite some friends to join me. In fact, that may be the theme for Studley's birthday! By George I think I've got it! We'll have a Super Studley Smash-a-Thon! You can take home a piece of Trout Towers (which will save me the trouble of assembling goody bags)! As usual, I am a genius.
I can't wait to design the invitation and send it to all of Studley's McMansion-dwelling friends. Oh, yeah. This is so much cooler than pony rides.
And from the botanical sector.... I had to transplant an unidentified plant from where the patio is going. There are more to come out, but I'll wait and see if I killed this one first. It is the start of the Garden Overhaul. And the mystery garden squash is definitely a pumpkin, but now the plant is dying and the pumpkin is still mostly green. What to do, what to do?
And here I was worried I'd run out of things to blog about. Stick with me now, my invisible internet friends, it's going to be a crazy winter.
Monday, September 17, 2007
But this is totally off the point. The point is, I successfully purchased all the necessary items at A.C Moore, including but not restricted to a hot glue gun.
The other thing I do when I'm nervous about something is to get totally ready for a project - buy all the stuff, tell everyone I'm doing it - and then put it aside until it's too late (ie party's over) because I'm so afraid of not doing it right. Better to not do it at all, right?
And so it is with great pride and some gloating that I tell you of my numerous hot glue burns. Oh, and my COMPLETED FAIRY WANDS! On the very same day as I bought the stuff! And they're not even an embarrassment to the fairy community! I would take pictures and show you but it is dark and I'm sure they'll be even more photogenic in the daylight. Oh, and if I do post a picture, please don't make fun of them. I mean, you can make fun of them in the you-are-a-daft-cow sort of way. But I'm warning you, I've got a dozen fairy wands and I'm not afraid to use them.
So where are all the people banging down my door telling me how much their daughter can't wait to come? I had a friend in college who would plan these huge parties and then start fretting at about 4pm that no one would come and he would be passed out in a closet by the time the party started. I'm not the passing-out-in-a-closet sort, but I might be found sitting in my yard, wearing my wings and waving my wand listlessly if no one comes. With fairy dust in my hair.
So they better come, or I will turn them all into something small and squirmy, and feed them to my chickens.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Another weekend down, another 2 birthday parties behind me. From our experience, Lucy will not say boo to a goose. Why is she so immensely popular, then? Her elusive nature? Her immaculately matched (if vertigo inducing) prints and plaids? It's a mystery.
Both birthday girls, and their moms, will be coming to Lucy's party. I like both moms, but one of them has a home that makes me Even More Nervous. Yes, she has a pool. I don't know why this concerns me. Everyone is different. I like that people have different lives and that their homes reflect those lives. I never go to someone's house and decide never to go back based on the fact that they have a woodstove in their driveway.
I think we probably all need to relax and let our lives speak for themselves (and stop letting our houses and our clothes and our cars do all the talking). Phew, I'm so glad we had this talk.
After today's birthday party we drove to Wellfleet for Boogie by the Bay. Chris hates that they called it that, I think it's kind of cute. There were a bunch of bands and food and it all benefited our community radio station, WOMR. Except that I personally did not benefit WOMR because when they were not sure if they could take my check I started name dropping like mad (in an effort to produce a guarantor) and finally they said something like "oh will you please shut up and just go IN already?!?" Okay, that's not at all like the people at WOMR. They said something like, "oh golly why don't you just go on in and then send a check to the station?" And I said I would and now I have to actually do it because it says I will on the internet and so it must be so.
Once you're in the door the real money starts to flow. They have all these booths where restaurants are offering one or two small dishes. Mac's had chicken curry with rice and beans, The Wicked Oyster had a beet salad with toasted goat cheese, Terra Luna had fish cakes with some kind of ridiculous slaw. I am so sorry, fine people at Terra Luna, but I did shots of the sauces you offered to go with the fish cakes (the chipotle was my favorite). Each item is $5 or so and the idea is that you go around sampling the day away. Which I did.
Everyone loves WOMR (Outermost Radio). It would be wrong not to and you would be unwise to admit it out loud. I like it for many reasons, not the least of which is that our neighbor dedicated a whole show to us the day we got married. It was early in the morning and we missed it (he never told us he was doing it). We hear it was great.
Meanwhile, x-number of years and two kids later....
We saw lots of families we know and like (we didn't see any we didn't like, for the record). Studley, who is living up to his name, was wooing the little girls. He is going to get into trouble later, for sure. He kissed one 9 month old baby, hugged another repeatedly, and helped a third little girl to take a few steps (he was staggering backwards, holding her until finally she collapsed on top of him, squashing him flat). So completely romantic.
I missed The Greenheads, who must have played while I was on the road. This is too bad because I've had their song Monkey Jones stuck in my head for the last week. I also missed Provincetown Jug Band, who I first heard several years ago at the Truro Dump Dance. Remind me to tell you about the Truro Dump Dance sometime.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
I may have to go incognito, because everyone in there knows about hot glue guns and 32 gauge floral wire and what the heck a pony bead is, and they may possibly ridicule my ignorance. I will maybe go, check it all out, and then go back later as if I knew what I was doing all along.
I am doing all this because I love my daughter and I want her to have a ridiculously cute fairy party. And because it looks like fun. And because when I was 12 I subscribed to Crafts magazine and made everything but the punched tin lantern which my mother deemed too dangerous. I remember making a very convincing hamster from fake fur, felt and googley eyes.
And when I was in high school I had a cottage industry making miniature felt teddy bears. I charged $2/ bear. Each one took me a few hours to make. I was not a good business person, but really, they weren't worth more than two dollars.
I miss this crafty nonsense. Admittedly, whenever I visit that DIY page I get intimidated and think, why would I even take the time to read the directions? I am not what one would call "handy". Or patient.
And yet, I can't stand spending money on stupid garbage to put in goodie bags when I can make some perfectly adorable flower petal wands. And some rosebud halos. Honestly, I kind of can't wait.
Meanwhile, Studley is getting hosed this year. I haven't figured out what to do for his party and I suspect he's getting a glorified playgroup in the front yard. It all depends on how much we've finished on our home improvement list because really, isn't that what entertaining is all about? I may have to plan another bender so we have another deadline by which to accomplish things.
FOR INSTANCE, Chris thinks he can build the first half of a two-part patio by Fairy Blast Off. Anyone out there in the betting mood?
Yes, we decided what to do in the absence of the patio that I started this blog with! Already! We've also decided what we want to do with our driveway, where the chickens will spend the winter, and which trees have to come down before they smash the house. After all, if trees smash the house then who really cares what kind of patio we put in?
So Chris will be out there with his power tools and Black & Decker remote control measuring tape and I will be inside, surrounded by disembodied silk flower blossoms, wielding a hot glue gun. We are The American Dream.
Friday, September 14, 2007
I am actually glad about this, because with all the limboing I'll be doing (while carrying a child or two and some groceries) I can give up my kickboxing class forever! Hooray for the Council!
Besides, it would be totally selfish to take the rope down. I mean, it goes from the side door railing right straight across the driveway. If my mother-in-law doesn't run into a car on the way, she'll get to the end of the rope and figure out where she is by reaching out and discovering, perhaps unpleasantly, that she is holding onto the woodstove. Why would you lead a blind person out of her nice cozy house and deposit her in front of a woodstove? Assuming you like her? Really, there did not seem to be another destination, unless he was trying to make it easier for her to get to the driver's side of the car. Which makes almost as much sense.
I would not dream of taking the rope down. When the Council Agent comes here he talks about The Sighted like some people talk about Upper Class White Males. I am privileged beyond reason and I owe owe owe everyone else a big piece of my pie. Because I can see.
And believe me, I do feel grateful and privileged. No one is leading me to a red hot woodstove while I'm not looking.
In other house news we nearly lost our cleaning person. It's a long story but it turns out that half the family is doing just fine with the resources available to them. And then there's us. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to justify the expense if half the family was bailing. And then Chris said, "have you looked around this place?" It is evident that we cannot justify NOT having a cleaning person. I am hoping that the new plan will motivate me to tackle projects that I am afraid to do alone. I have a vision of our house that doesn't include clutter and is easy to clean. Is this even possible?
We shall see.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
So she calls me today to ask me a question - totally unrelated to nutrition. I had not eaten breakfast because I forgot to, same as always, and I had just placed my order at the Dunkin' Donuts drive-up when she called. I didn't recognize the number or I NEVER would have answered. Oh, the shame. So we chat as I stealthily pull up to the window. I hand them a $20 and get my stuff. Fortunately they did not say "here's your large coffee with extra saccharin, a dozen munchkins and a Bacon Lover's omelet thingy" as they handed me the bag. I whisper thanks and drive away.
When I get to my next stop I go to put my wallet away and realize I have driven off without my change. Okay, I didn't really get a large coffee with extra saccharin, a dozen munchkins and a Bacon Lover's omelet thingy and my tab was under $5.
To their credit, the people at Dunkin' Donuts did not pretend I had never been there. Nor did they fish my change out of the tip jar, muttering "oh fine then." This is good because I can be a little spacey when I'm trying to pretend to be better than I am.
I guess we can't all be who we act like all the time. Or look like who we are, or act like what we look or something like that.
Once (when I was single) I had a dream that some guy I was dating told me I was not quite funky enough to be a Dreamy Bohemian Catch, and yet far too messy to be a Trophy Wife. You know, sometimes my dreams are spot on. Yay Freud!
Anyway, the prettier-thinner-healthier-than-me mom suggested we get the kids together because she liked talking to me the other day. If this happens, believe you me I am laying it all on the table. Unless of course kickboxing has changed my life and I am only eating green vegetables and brown rice by late next week.
And if that happens, will someone please send an intervention?
*That's the mom of one of Lucy's friends, not one of Lucy's friend's two moms. It's all in the apostrophe.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Problem was, the yoga pants were a recentish purchase, while the top was not. In short, there was a coverage problem. While pants have had lower waistbands for a few years now, it took shirts awhile to catch up. And of all things I'd like to flash in an exercise class, it's not my belly. So I untied and retied my pants so they covered more but that gave me a wedgie, which was probably worse.
I quickly forgot about my fashion difficulties because Real Difficulties set in before I knew what hit me. Let's see, there was running in place, and jumping jacks, and lunging, and punching and running backwards. And I looked at the clock thinking, surely this must be over soon, and it had been seven minutes. I prayed for a 25 minute cool down.
At the end we did a 10 jumping jacks, 8 push-ups, 10 crunches, run in place sequence (repeat until dead). After ten jumping jacks I can't get down to the floor and back on my feet to the count of eight, much less do push-ups while I'm there. I got the giggles. Everything hurt, I was practically wheezing and I vaguely remember being more comfortable when I was in labor.
I ran into the teacher later. She said we did great - we kept going. Was stopping an option? Because no one told me stopping was an option. It's probably best I didn't know this.
And because I haven't talked about my hair lately, I'd like to say that it performed brilliantly. It's good to have over-colored sort-of curly hair in kickboxing. Because no matter how on the verge of death you are, it's up there being sort of bouncy and acting like nothing in the world is wrong. Nothing, oh no nothing, could be farther from the truth. And if Chris was worried that having a kickboxing wife would be detrimental to his health, he needn't worry about a thing. Except making sure my Epsom salt bath is the right temperature. And possibly being awakened by a maniac, screaming about cramping calves.
And yet I can't wait for the next class.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I was once at a party and the Barber Adagio came on. Listen people, put together a playlist. This is no time to rely on radio. If you don't know what I'm talking about, google it and have a listen. It's definitely going to be the end of a party.
So of course my local classical station had to play it this morning as a tribute, along with the National Anthem and Fanfare for the Common Man. They may have played something after Fanfare, but I was not in the car. I was out of the car, looking for a tissue.
So I did what I thought was best for my country and also for my personal sense of well being. I fueled the economy. The yarn shop brought up my spirits a bit. I came away with yarn for a Studley sweater and a Lucy jumper. I offered Lucy a sweater but she was very fond of the jumpers I knit her last year and requested another one. Yes, I realize that my time for this is limited. The things I've made her are her favorite things to wear and she always tells everybody I made them. I expect any day she will reject anything without a proper tag and I am bracing myself for the "oh, mom, puh-leeeeeze" phase. I just hope the phase doesn't last into adulthood (as it did in my case).
And speaking of Lucy's enormous appreciation of me, I had a lovely email from Amber today (hi Amber!). She noted that the blog would be a nice way for the kids to get to see who I am in real life - separate from the person who makes their sandwiches every morning. "It... makes me think about how lucky your kids are going to be when they (I’m sorry to say it) Grow Up and wish they knew you as a person better. They now have the perfect venue not only to remember all the cool little things in their everyday life, but to really know you as a person in addition to as Mommy."
How cool is that? I mean, Someone Is Actually Reading My Blog!
And if you are Someone Who Is Reading My Blog and you happen to like "We Built This City", I am sorry for the slur. If it's any consolation, I am a closet fan of "Brick House."
This morning I realized that if he tips the cup far enough to empty it, he falls over backwards.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Several of the invitations are going to people whose families I am not friends with. This is a new and unnerving development. She has her own friends who are not the offspring of my friends. Frankly I am not sure how I feel about this. Because my friends know how we are and love us anyway but these are strangers to Trout Towers and I am inviting them into my home (even though the party is outside they may eventually have to use the bathroom). Whatever will they think?
Plan A: They will think what I convince them to think. They get the invitation, look it over and say "oh right, they are those ARTISTIC people. I bet their house is a holy mess because that's how creative people live. Look how creative they are! Ooh, I hope they let us inside to use the bathroom! I wonder, do they have a bathroom?"
There is no Plan B.
And now that I look at the invitations, they're not even that creative. I mean, before we had Martha Stewart they were Darned Creative. But now, not so much. I didn't do any stenciling or cut silhouettes or have an origami hummingbird fly from the envelope when opened. Then again, they did not come from Hallmark. But only because I couldn't find invitations with a fairy motif that weren't completely asinine.
Besides being anxious about putting my head on the chopping block of public opinion, I am anxious about the weather. Because if there are 10 five year olds inside my house at the same time I may possibly die.
I also made the invitations so I could have something to put in Lucy's keepsake box. The keepsake box is sort of like the running log you keep when you are thinking about firing someone. It's evidence. So when she gets older and starts complaining about her childhood I can trot out all the things in her keepsake box. Look at what I did for you! How can you possibly STILL be complaining about sleeping in a drawer when I made these awesome invitations?
It is good to be prepared.
I am also beefing up the photo albums for the same reason. The kids love flipping through them, and if they look through them enough they will come away with the impression that their lives were never dull and they never had to go to bed or take baths. Look, you used to take baths on the lawn with 6 of your closest friends!
Or maybe I'll get sued - both by my children and the people who actually created the fairy motif I just used.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
They wrote their own tear-invoking vows. It is noticeable to the naked eye how much they light up each other's lives. I have heard that you should marry the person who brings out the best in you, and although I did not know him before he was "them", I would venture to say this is probably true of them. She has blossomed, this I know.
And why wouldn't she, when he does things like make all the food for today? I can't do the spread justice, but picture probably 4 banquet tables packed with bowls and platters of incredibly delicious offerings. Tony, if you ever come across this post will you please give a menu run down in the comments? Seriously, it was ridiculous. Apricot chicken and salmon and two other kinds of fish and a crazy cheese platter and roasted vegetables and eggplant Parmesan and a Big Bowl of Whipped Goat Cheese! I don't even know what half the stuff on my plate was. It was heaven.
And now for the embarrassing part. I spent much of the reception trying not to run up to Lili Taylor and say "oh-oh-oh-I-loved-you-so-much-as-Valerie-Solanas, will-you-PLEASE-be-my-best-friend?" In fact, I was so worried about this that I was probably stalking her. I kept looking to see where she was because I was afraid I would turn around and she'd be right in front of me and I'd scream or possibly cake would come out my nose. Our mutual friend assures me she's completely awesome and down to earth but I am NOT completely awesome and down to earth and I just couldn't take it.
There you have it.
So instead I spent some time in the tree house with Lucy. It is intensely cool. Lucy and her little sidekick spent quite a bit of time dashing through the flower bestrewn arbor, and at one point they found sunflowers and blackeyed Susans and danced their own little pagan wedding blessing. They also found the tray that the cake had been on (before we swooped in on it like a scene from The Birds). They kept creeping off and once we tracked them and documented them stuffing handfuls of crumbs into their little chocolate-covered mouths. Oh, to be them.
And finally, I think I have a future as a food stylist.
Anyway, I got all set for my new color - rinsed my hair, mixed the toxins, lathered up and then wandered into the living room to wait. I flipped through the paper (which has a picture of my friend's son on the front page!) and found an article about a house someone's trying to build within the Hopper landscape in Truro.
I only know this landscape from paintings I've seen of the Hopper house.
The issue over the Hopper Landscape has set off a complicated community debate that better resembles a painting by Jackson Pollock than by Hopper. A mixture of historic and open space preservationists, along with anti-development forces splattered with libertarians, private property rights advocates, art enthusiasts and developers, peppered with environmentalists and conservationists all framed by the ever present issue of economic class on the Outer Cape, have this conflict as a textbook case for the fault lines present in Truro.I am picturing townspeople with pitchforks and torches. Apparently paying SIX MILLION DOLLARS for a piece of property does not give you an inalienable right to build your 6,500 square foot home on it.
-Steve Desroches, The Cape Codder
Do you think they will have chickens? Because I think some free-range, ornamental breeds would look charming cruising the hillside. Very painterly.
Meanwhile I feel a burning sensation and realize I will probably have chunks of hair falling onto the newspaper if I don't rinse out the hair color quickly.
In other news, now that it is not summer I am back to shopping at Trader Joe's (it's a traffic thing). Liz and I were in the coffee aisle discussing the many, many choices and she recommended the mocha java. I scanned the decaf section and said, "they don't have that one in my weenie version." To which Studley replied "WEENIE?!?! WEENIE?!?!" Terrific.
And then I was telling Liz how my kids will eat sushi and curry and tabbouleh (not all at once), yet I may have to start making meatloaf and macaroni and cheese for my mother-in-law and another shopper laughed outright at me. It seems I am not alone in this phenomenon. So if you're feeling all smug about how smoothly everything's going in YOUR multi-generational home...... please let me know how you're managing it because I'm reverting to tv dinners faster than you can say Salisbury Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Escalloped Apples.
Which will probably be a blessed relief.
As is my new hair color. I have gone from Mouse Brown to Nutmeg in the time it takes to say Salisbury Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Escalloped Apples 6,500 times fast.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
I didn't boycott it, I just didn't do it. I figured since I AM raising a healthy family and I know how to cook I could spend the money on something more beneficial and needed. Like an Eileen Fisher sweater.
The course is culminating in a dinner party next week. The menu for the evening will be...
Sprouted Fallafel over Rubbed Kale
Chocolate Mousse Pie
Okay, so I thought I was a healthy eater. I am totally down with the chocolate mousse pie. But kale and I have never been on the same page and for reasons I can't explain I don't like parsley. I do like fallafel, but I am worried that sprouted fallafel will look and taste something like a chia pet. Not that I've ever eaten a chia pet.
I do not mention all of this to Her. I nod and smile and say things like "oooh, how lovely! I am sure it will be great!" Because I'm sure it will be great. I think.
And then we go our separate ways and as I have a bit of time before my next appointment I take the kids for a little snack. Except that I keep crossing paths with Her and I am suddenly very self-conscious about What Sort of Snack I had in mind. So I get the kids some wheat germ and fish oil crackers and ever-so-slyly throw in a Dancing Deer brownie for myself. Lucy is off playing, so it's just me and Studley and he, knowing something is amiss, keeps craning around to see what I am holding behind his stroller and, despite the fact that he has NEVER eaten such a thing, keeps shouting "Coooookie!!!! Coooookie!!!!!!!" I hold a healthy-looking cracker in one hand and stash my brownie wielding hand just out of sight , in case She walks by again.
Which she does. And her daughter calls over to Lucy and says "hey, mommy and I are getting popsicles!"
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
So tonight I've started handling his billing for oh, possibly the eleventy-seventh time. The problem with me handling his billing has been that I have to say, essentially, "where were you today and what were you doing and from when to when and with whom?" And when we've tried this in the past I've sometimes been met with "why are you asking me these questions?!?! Where do you think I've been and don't you think I'm working hard enough?!?!?! Do you not like our posh lifestyle?????"
But he hates billing. He hates keeping track of his hours. And so he has BEGGED me to please try again and to be VILIGENT (which is diligently vigilant) in asking him these oh-so-painful questions just after dinner every night.
Our marriage, it seems, has evolved. And not just because of tonight. The other day I came home and Chris had my laptop on his desk with a cable running from it to his computer and files were being copied from somewhere to somewhere else. I didn't actually care enough to ask him what was happening but he did volunteer that my C drive was critically full and on the brink of a nervous breakdown. So he transferred some files and made everything all better. Great! And at some point I thought, hmm, he could have been copying all my personal files so he can know everything there is to know about me.
And the very thought of this would have made me completely crazy Back In The Day. But now it makes me chuckle a bit. In fact, if he actually went through all my stuff and processed all my personal information without me brainwashing him in his sleep I would probably die of shock. You know, like if one day he remembered my European shoe size.
I'm telling you, he doesn't even know his own shoe size.
Because that's my domain. We were at a bowling party once and I was a little behind the group, shepherding the kids and all. And I heard this wave of giggles and knew my husband had done something. Apparently when the bowling shoe guy asked Chris his shoe size he said "I don't know, how would I know that? Honeeeey??????"
Which is all just to say... I have no idea what my point is.
But a side effect of the blog is that Chris actually knows where I was and what I was doing and from when to when and with whom because he checks in from time to time and finds out. With the blog, not me. Because if you want him to read something, put it online.
In unrelated news, I have signed up for a kick-boxing class.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
The slip-n-slide was new this year. As I walked across the parking lot I thought to myself hmm, I wonder what the hose is for? And then I saw the plastic trough laid out next to the path down the dune. At first I was a little sad I didn't bring my bathing suit. And then I noticed how everyone was a little worse for wear. As fun as it looks like it might be.... not so much in real life. Sand is hard, people.
Every year they liberate a lobster, picked randomly from the enormous pile of lobsters headed into the pot. In my opinion, it's the highlight of the evening - mostly because it gives me yet another opportunity to sing the theme from Born Free. And who doesn't want that?
To the untrained eye, there was no kite flying this year. But then you notice a fishing rod in one of those fishing rod holder thingies and there is fishing line attached to the rod and the rod is bending - as if there were a fish on the line. But there's not. There's a kite on the end of the line and it is just a wee speck of a thing up there. If you haven't noticed already, many of the people we know don't do things normally.
These are all the things you can't do when there are actual people around. It's just amazing the difference a day makes. Yesterday, the beach was packed with people. Today, it's us. Now you might say that we single-handedly ran everyone off and you may have a point, but I'm pretty sure it's the same story at the beaches we didn't set up camp on.
But how will we ever know? Because next year, we'll just do it all over again. Except maybe for the slip-n-slide.
Now maybe I'm just a pollyanna-happy-pants, but whenever something ends I have this auto-mechanism that kicks in and condenses my memories into a sort of Best Of collection. So if someone asks me how summer is I flash through my collection of trampolining and lunching and beaching and concerting and such and proclaim it unequivocally delightful. I just don't have that much space in the old noggin and fun memories are perhaps less complex and take less effort to recall. So I do like summer. Especially today when the Best of Summer 2007! collection has been released.
The collection includes yesterday, which I was too tired to post about earlier. Here's another fun fact about me: if someone calls me in the morning and invites me to the outer beach I will drop everything and go. This does not always please Chris, who sometimes wakes up to find a note "gone to outer beach, back in 8 hours or so".
I have always been this way, since the first time I discovered there was such a thing as an Outer Beach. So I remind Chris that he had full disclosure and he married me anyway.
Granted, back in those early days I would scan the beach and see groups of adults - you know, people with responsible jobs who had either grown kids or small kids or no kids - and wonder why they bothered coming out. Really, they just sit there.
Yesterday as I was watching a bunch of 13 year olds learn to surf I looked back at our group and answered that question for myself (15 years later).
1) we like each other
2) we like sitting around
3) we like the food
4) it's freaking beautiful and if I'm ever in a comma please just drop me there because I will STILL love it.
The new food item was a slice of nectarine topped with a piece of soft blue cheese. The cheese was something between Gorgonzola and Camembert. Oh.
Cheese-topped-nectarine is the new raspberry square.
And now it's fall, and things are different yet better, if possible. In the .75 mile drive to my first cup of coffee I encountered 2 instances of friendly driving. I even commited one myself, so that makes 3. I'm telling you, everything's different after labor day.
and behold, it was very good.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Unfortunately, this I Have Eaten Entirely Too Much feeling comes on the heels of a major epiphany. The epiphany is (or was) this: According to those body mass index thingies online I do not need to lose weight. I have never considered this to be reason enough not to want to lose weight. But then I thought, hmmm, I eat pretty well, I'm quite active and I don't generally need help getting out of chairs. Maybe I'm fine. Because I think it's STUPID to devote part of my life and attention span to reaching a goal that doesn't actually matter to me (or Chris).
So there. And then I went to a party and ate my entire body mass index in raspberry squares. As a result, I have a new friend who knows how to make said raspberry squares and she's starting a job very near my house and would be able to drop them off on her way to work. She seems very nice so I'm sure she wouldn't mind doing this for me.
The grilled eggplant sandwiches with goat cheese, tomatoes and olive tapenade Completely Rocked. If you have eggplants growing in your garden, scamper out right now and make some sandwiches.
In case we felt like we were missing something, we had the live stage cam from the Beachcomber running so we could listen to the Incredible Casuals show. It blinked out for a little while, but came back just in time for us to hear my very own Chris sing a few songs. I can honestly say, I have never enjoyed those three songs as much as I did today.*
After lunch they took the boat out with that tube thing and people hung on for dear life. I always thought that looked like fun until I watched and realized that the goal of the boat driver is to send the tube rider flying. It's like riding the bull. The first person out returned to shore with not only white knuckles but literally white fingers from hanging on so tight. Perhaps I'll have another raspberry square and stick to spectating. Besides, I'd want to be wearing a one piece bathing suit for something like that.
And then after the water sport portion of our day, we fired up the grill and made dinner.
Oh I do love a good holiday.
*they made him sing three songs from "Oklahoma!", which is the most loathsome of musicals. And this from someone who thinks the phrase "loathsome musical" is redundant.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
Chris went out this afternoon and when he came back he said "don't go out there, it's a zoo." I took that to mean "don't go out there, it's a zoo" and stayed firmly back from the property line all day. As far as I can tell, there's nothing I can do today that I can't do on Tuesday. The beach will still be there. The restaurants will still be open. Sales don't start until after Columbus Day.
But I am going out tomorrow. To a private beach with a whole pile of people I like. At least I hope I like them - I can be fickle. And I hope they, too, have been up all evening cooking.
There was talk of Assigned Courses, but then it was decided that if we ended up with all desserts it wouldn't actually be a problem. So I made a dessert that can pass as lunch if need be. I hope this doesn't make you feel queasy, but I made chocolate black bean cupcakes. They're muffins, really, because they aren't very sweet. Unless you use them to scoop the frosting like dip. They sound horrifying, but you can't actually tell there are beans in there. The recipe makes a dozen muffins and I had to eat one to make sure they're okay so I'll be taking a Yankee Dozen to the shindig tomorrow. If Chris doesn't find them.
I don't actually like the term "yankee dozen" because everyone I know around here is kind and generous and would NEVER short a batch of cupcakes unless in the attempt to make it fit into the Tupperware better. And does all this mean that a Yankee Baker's Dozen is 12?
I also made another batch of mozzarella. I'm layering it with tomatoes and basil from the garden and a dash of Balsamic. Shame I don't know how to make my own vinegar. Then I would be completely smug and would never be invited anywhere.
I did get some stuff done today. I helped Lucy learn how to tell time, sort of. I renewed my car registration online. I ordered some photos online (they were from exactly this time last year and I haven't uploaded anything since. I am a pathetic excuse for Somebody's Mother). And I stood in the garden and tried to remember if what I planted was pumpkins or some kind of squash (yes yes I know, pumpkins are squash and I meant no disrespect). I originally thought I had put in melons but clearly I was wrong. How long before pumpkins turn orange and what the heck is growing in my garden? I could consult the chart I painstakingly drew in the spring but it bears no resemblance whatsoever to the garden we ended up planting.
I hope that wherever you are this holiday weekend you're having a spiffy time. May there be people like me at your destination so there are fewer cars on the road and more parking spaces to chose from.
In completely unrelated news, I do not seem to be losing those 20 pounds I mentioned earlier. I still have several hours and am not giving up hope yet.