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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

forging ahead, as it were

You know how your hair looks its best on the day it's scheduled to be cut? The same goes for Christmas trees that are scheduled for the mulcher.

In front of the tree, Lucy and Studley are playing with the plastic animals that were poking out of their stockings - a giraffe and a lion. It's a photo-op if ever I've seen one. Except Studley is wearing a pink tutu with his Nantucket red sweatshirt and they kind of clash.

It's New Years Eve, and time to start packing up the ornaments. But honestly? The tree has never looked lovelier. Maybe it's because a snowstorm is whipping around outside the windows, making the lights inside look even twinklier. Maybe it took this long for the branches to lower and look comfortable holding my favorite glass ornaments. Or maybe I just don't want to get the storage boxes out of the basement.

Whatever the reason, the tree is making me feel all twinkly and content.

Speaking of all twinkly and content, I went to a blacksmith shop today. It was snowing when I got there, and piled up while I stayed. Inside it's lit pretty much by window light and the charcoal fire. It's quiet except for the sound of the bellows and the clanging of the anvil. If I didn't have to get children safely home through the snow, I would have insisted on importing some hot cider and spending the day. As it was, I had things to do.

This is the night I usually like to stay home and assess the past year, so I can then chart my course for the new year. I don't do resolutions because I don't need more things to fail at, thank you. This year, instead of charting my course I'm getting right down to business.

In 2008 we found ourselves saying "good gravy, I can't believe how easy that was" a lot. We'd say that after completing a small task we'd been putting off for years. Possibly decades. This year, my mantra is "don't procrastinate." I get so worried about an imagined obstacle somewhere in the future, I don't even start the job at hand. And then the work-related things turn into the sword of Damocles and the non-work related things turn into general malaise.

There will be none of that in 2009. Or at least less. So if you'll excuse me, I have to go fill out some paper work I've been avoiding.

Happy, happy 2009. May it be all you desire.

Oh wait, one more thing. The best resolution I ever made, and kept, was to stop using my credit card. Is there a resolution that worked for you?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

meta greetings

This is a detail of the picture I attached to our Christmas newsletter. If anyone would like a referral to Studley's hairdresser, please let me know. I'd like to go on record as not having cut his hair this time.

In other Studley news, I was just shoveling food into him the same way I used to do when he was a baby. He can and does feed himself, I just was tired of sitting at the table and wanted to move things along. This hanging out with the family over dinner nonsense is fine in small doses. So. It went like this:

me: open the barn door, here come the cows!
Studley (mouth closed)
me: open the hanger doors, here comes the plane!
Studley (mouth firmly closed)
me: open the bulkhead... the band needs to practice?
Studley (mouth flies open)

Back to the newsletter. I sent out an email version this year. If I know you IRL and you didn't get one, please let me know and make sure I have your email address. If I don't know you IRL and you still want one, please fill out the application (which you will need to first create) and email it to me.

I am a big fan of the emailed newsletter. First, I saved piles of cash on stamps and ink. Second, people actually RESPOND to emails. It was like Christmas all over again, hearing from all those people. Including at least one "I'm sorry, who are you again?" And that was without emailing David Lowery, whose address I came across while compiling my list. It was seriously tempting.

And third, I could dream it up two days before Christmas and still be on time.

Yes, I send out those annoying newsletters everyone hates. I cannot resist yet another forum for discussing myself and my family. Because I don't get to do that very much, you know?

So my question to you is, what do you do with the cards you receive, after they've run their course of decorative usefulness? Keep them? Make piñatas? Burn them in a New Years Eve ritual pyre?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

the hard nut

A couple years ago I went to a local production of the Nutcracker and noticed the same dancer was performing the roles of the Nutcracker and the Cavalier. I figured it must be because there are just not that many male dancers available and so they were doubling up on roles. Or it was a budget cut. Or something. But surely they are not the same person because that would mean that the Nutcracker, who was just rescued by the lovely Clara, already has a thing going with the Sugar Plum Fairy. And that would not be okay.

When I first watched the Nutcracker, as a child, I was totally sucked into the story. I was sure that Clara had found her one true love in the Nutcracker Prince and they would live happily ever after in the land of the sweets. Even if it was just a dream, it was clearly one of those life-changing dreams.

This year I took the kids to see Boston Ballet perform the Nutcracker. While I was there, I happened to notice that they, too, had the same dancer for both roles. And that's just wrong. Poor Clara, thinking she's on a date with her prince and then realizing that not only is she in her nightgown, but her prince has taken her to the home of the Sugar Plum Fairy who is wearing a killer tutu and clearly has the hots for him.

Have I been confused all these years? Is it really about a little girl who, although she has just saved the prince, is still just a little girl and is treated as such in the company of the adult Sugar Plum Fairy and her prince?

I am sure that's not the case, so I finally dug out a copy of E.T.A. Hoffman's story and read it to the kids. I took out some of the parts, where mice were threatening to bite babies in half and soldiers were losing their heads. It took us a couple weeks, reading a chapter every night.

And it turns out, I was right. At the very end, after the dream that is not a dream, the prince comes and asks her to marry him. She does. The end.

And I think this is why I have such a hard time with Christmas. It seems to me that Christmas should at least be a life-changing dream, and not just something in which we are treated like children. It's been passed off as something else for so long, we've lost sight of the real story.

There is so much that goes into it. So much promise and hope. And then? It's over. I want it to be more like the Hoffman story, with something indisputable at the end. That life will somehow be more magical than it was yesterday. That we will all, at the end of the day, live in a place where houses are made of marzipan and no one says things just to be mean.

I keep thinking that within the Nutcracker is the answer to everything. That there's some metaphysical hard nut that holds the secret of the season. I dated the mouse king briefly many years ago. He had no answers.

But I know they're there.


The story of The Hard Nut, which explains why the nutcracker has to kill the mouse king is here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Heifer International

We love Heifer International. We love honey. We think bees are groovy. And so you can imagine our delight at discovering a flock of bees has been sponsored in our name. The best part? According to their website,"every family that receives a Heifer animal promises to 'pass on the gift' by giving one or more of their animal's offspring and knowledge to another family in need."

Can you even stand how cute that would be? A teeny, tiny, bumble bee, wrapped in a receiving blanket, given to another family in need?

It makes my heart sing. Thank you, bee friends! We love you, too.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Alexandra Walker

If anyone's still wondering what to get me for Christmas, these paintings just arrived at Left Bank.

I think my cat, Chou Chou, channeled these as commissions from beyond the kitty grave. That would totally be something she'd do. It looks just like her (in her younger, more alive, years).

I think I deserve it, as I've been very good this year. Or rather, I could have been much worse.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

in which I stay home sulking, again

Curses! I just got an invitation to a New Year's Eve party, that's hosted by a for real novelist. Which is awesome, except I can't go.

Now, don't take this the wrong way, all you people in the bands I'll be seeing New Year's Eve because Chris is doing sound for you, but... a novelist! And the guest list is an absurd wealth of talent. There's a playwright, a rock star (just like you! but a different one), a couple artists (one of whom I read about in the New York Times, for crying out loud) and some people I actually know and like.

Mostly, I really like the woman throwing the party and I never get to see her. I probably wouldn't end up talking to all those other people anyway. Unless they happened to find me behind the chair I generally hide behind at parties. And then I would talk to them by way of explaining that although I do not wear contact lenses, I have lost one and am spending the evening looking for it behind this chair.

Maybe instead of trying to go, I'll just print out the list of invitees for my own archives. A list on which my name appears with those other names.

Now that I think about it, those other people are probably penning blog entries and facebook updates right this second, exclaiming that Susan of Trout Towers may be spending New Year's Eve with them. Their posts say things like What luck! and, Imagine! They are probably nervous at the prospect of meeting me. "So illuminatingly charming, that Susan of Trout Towers. I hope she likes me."

I guess they will have to keep wondering.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

How to talk about opera without appearing intelligent

Today my family dropped me off to see the broadcast of Thais on their way to do whatever it is they do when I'm not micromanaging them. On the way there, Lucy pitched a small fit. "How come you're the only one that gets to go to the opera?" she asked. Because there's a God, Chris probably thought to himself. "You always go and we never go. It isn't fair."

I explained that I was going for work. Daddy sometimes goes to rock shows without us for work, and this was kind of like that. Sometimes we get to go with him, but if he's working, daddy has to go even when we can't. Mommy has to go to the opera. You can't. Ha!

When the Met Opera does their live broadcasts, I get to go. Sometimes I am a little excited and talk about it all week. This is apparently not setting well with Lucy. Which is awesome. By not inviting her to something I enjoy, I've given it an aura of the forbidden. And now she wants to go.

When I checked in at the box office, I asked if my 6 year old could come with me. The Met kindly gives two seats to press people, so the extra ticket was not a problem. My question really was, "do you think people will consider me a bad parent for bringing my daughter to an opera about an Egyptian courtesan?" They did not have an answer for this.

I took the tickets to the car and let Lucy know that she could come IF she was completely silent and IF she didn't move a muscle and IF she didn't think she'd be scared because I Swear To You, Child, I Am Not Leaving. "If you're scared," I told her, "you can put your head in my lap and just listen to the beautiful music."

She was not scared. She did not squirm. She did not squeak. She did not, in fact, sit all the way back in her chair even once.

I have heard people talk about the first time they saw an opera, and how it struck something deep within them. I think this is what happened with Lucy - although it may have been more the costumes by Christian LaCroix than the score by Massenet. Renee Fleming was so outrageously beautiful it would be hard for any self respecting six year old to resist her. Jewelry! Sparkles! Twirly hair! Lucy will either want to be a courtesan when she grows up or an opera diva. Either way, she gets awesome dresses.

Hopefully there will not be a subsequent post, years from now, titled "How Opera Ruined My Daughter's Life." I'm not sure how I would feel having an opera diva in the family.

If you have not seen any of these broadcasts, I cannot urge you strongly enough to go. I DON'T CARE if you don't like opera. These productions are spectacular. They give you little backstage tours, show you the set changes between acts, talk to the leads (who are often funny and surprisingly human) and basically make it possible for anyone with a short attention span to watch a full length opera.

The sets are out of this world and the costumes are, well, by people like Christian LaCroix. They don't mess around. Robert Lepage, the stage director for the last opera (Faust), has done Cirque du Soleil shows and Peter Gabriel concerts. This is not the production your aunt made you go see at the Elks Club.

There are two broadcasts coming up in January, on the 17th and the 24th. La Rondine I'm not so excited about because Angela Gheorghiu is wearing a ridiculous hat in the promo pictures. But Orfeo ed Euridice, besides being very fun to say, promises to rock. Costumes by Isaac Mizrahi instead of ridiculous hats. Go here to see where it's screening. Or if you live near me, get tickets at WHAT in Wellfleet or Cape Cinema in Dennis.

Oh just go do it already.


One of my truly brainiac opera revues is archived here on page 11.

Ha! Two people found this post by Googling "Renee Fleming." What did they do, scroll through the other 700,000 results looking for the most inane? I mean honestly.

I can't seem to shut up today. Sorry.

Friday, December 19, 2008

winter storm warning

I just went to the store to get emergency supplies, such as cream cheese to go with the cranberry pepper jelly. It would be a huge bummer to be snowed in, with no power, and have no cream cheese to go with our pepper jelly.

I guess my point is that we are scheduled for a huge snow storm and if you don't hear from me it's because I am in my basement eating the pickles I jarred last summer. While I'm not very good at panic buying, I'm quite adept at panic eating.

It finally started snowing about 20 minutes ago, and although I hate to admit it, the forecast may have been right this time. Good thing we have all these Christmas candles. And snacks. And a Christmas tree to stuff in the woodstove when things go completely, irretrievably, desperately wrong.

The real question is, how long before we eat the chickens? And how do we go about it, once the power is out and we can't google "how to butcher pet chicken during epic snow storm"?

Good gravy, it's really snowing hard. I have to go panic now. Please send Italian Calvisius Transmontanus Caviar, and some toast points. Thank you.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


My gift to Chris this year is to not spend the whole evening blogging, despite the fact that I am fiercely overdue a post and simply brimming with things to tell you.

Happy birthday to the man I love even more than my blog.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

William Jackson

I would like to point out that this is my 50th music post. It seems I have written about music more than anything else, which I did not anticipate when I started this blog. And yet? I am considered a Mommy Blogger.

Which is totally cool. I don't make my kids call me Aunt Susan when we're out in public. I wear my noodle necklaces with pride. I just think it's funny. I'm not a copy writer, I'm a working mom. I'm not a semi-kept woman, I am a semi-employed stay at home mom. I could be so much more glamorous if I were allowed to make up my own titles.

Anyway. I wanted to tell you about a Scottish musician I heard last week, William Jackson. On his website there's a quote from Alastair Clark, " ... the great thing about Jackson - the skill and artistry of the man - lies in his lightness of touch. William Jackson will leave you asking for more."

I'm sorry, but the seventh grader in me is having a heyday with that statement. I can't help but wonder if William Jackson was thinking the same thing when he included it in his bio. I mean really. Jackson is talented and all, but I wouldn't be wasting valuable pixels if he weren't so darn funny. Oh those dry, clever Scots. At one point he said something that made the conductor have to stop and collect himself. Something about the TSA people asking him if he was the harpoonist, I think.

He is not a harpoonist, he is a harper. I believe harper is the right word, and not harpist. Whatever it's called, I imagine it's much easier to get a Celtic harp on an airplane than a harpoon. Just a guess.

I have to admit, I am not so into Celtic music. It all sounds a little New Agey to me and makes me feel like I should hang crystals in my windows and wear more purple. But Jackson's music failed to annoy me. Maybe it's because he's actually Scottish and not Scottish through a past life regression. Or maybe because he played his own compositions and they were simply better than what I had heard in the past. Or maybe it was the spiked eggnog.

It's really anyone's guess.

Jackson played several instruments in his compositions - not all at the same time. What do you take him for, an organ grinder's monkey? He played harp, a flute thing, and something that looked most like a mandolin but wasn't. Obviously, I am not particularly well versed in these things.

I am sure I knew a lot more about traditional Scottish instruments at one time. After all, I'm part Scottish (I think?) and surely a past life regression would uncover a wealth of knowledge. Perhaps I will next report a talent for uillean pipes.

You lucky buggers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas music, sort of

We go to a lot of Christmas Spectacular type things. Or Fourth of July Spectacular kinds of things. You get the idea. Sometimes we like the music, often we like the people and nearly always we like the spirit in which they are presented. We grade on a curve in most instances.

At these things there are nearly always performances by children, which are cute. And then there are solos by not-children. These soloists are generally the shining star from some school or choir or someone's neighbor who took a voice lesson. They are lovely and their hearts are in the right place. But, sometimes...how can I say this kindly? Sometimes they suck. And after seeing myriad underwhelming yet heartfelt performances, I've come to lower my expectations when a twenty-something in a shiny dress takes the stage. I don't dive for my earplugs, but only because I forgot to bring them.

And this is where I need to apologize to Rachel Price for underestimating her. Rachel, if you're out there somewhere, I'd like to invite you to our annual Trout Towers Christmas Sing. Because I don't sing very well and we need some ringers.

People, just go listen to her now.

I really need to have more faith when people line up guest artists. Rachel was fantastic. She closed with a gospel Joy to the World that made me want to... made me want to... I don't know. Buy everyone a cookie? Something like that.

I looked for her on iTunes but came up empty. However, I did find my new favorite band Fleet Foxes. I was going to link a youtube video but looking at them kind of ruins the music for me. Not in a bad way, just in a "wait, is this a religious order?" kind of way. It reminds me of an album my aunt and uncle gave me when I visited them in Brattleboro, VT. The album was made by some monks, I think. Fleet Foxes actually sound nothing like that album, but they do kind of look like the cover art. And I'd be okay with all that, except that I first heard it on WFNX, where I expect something a little edgier than, say, Chant.

Which is all just my way of saying that it's been a very Christacular December so far. And it has only just begun.

If you are in Boston next week, be sure to catch the Christmas Cavalcade:

Thursday, December 18th- the Annual Boston Christmas Cavalcade for the Homeless at Johnny D's (17 Holland St. Davis Sq., Somerville; 617 776 2004), featuring the Chandler Travis Philharmonic, Livingston Taylor, Jennifer Kimball & Ry Cavanaugh, the Greenheads, Ryan Landry, Merrie Amsterberg, Jenny Dee and the Deelinquents, Shaun Wortis, Rose Polenzani, Greg Greenway, Sal Baglio, the Jessica Schroeder Dancer, the Boston Typewriter Orchestra, the Philharmonic Trombone Shout Band, & the Athol Thingerth, plus more!
Show at 8:30; tickets: $15.00 (or whatever you can bear -all donations cheerfully accepted.) Proceeds go to the Somerville Homeless Coalition.

I can't make it, but will someone please go and tell me what the Boston Typewriter Orchestra is all about?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Brighter Planet

The lovely Jonniker was offering carbon neutrality for a day on her blog and I took her up on it. Turns out, you get to share the love and pass it along to 5 lucky buggers when you accept your own carbon neutral day. So, the first five people to visit Brighter Planet get a day of their own!
The Brighter Planet site looks pretty groovy. I know nothing about them except they are offering to make me feel less guilty. Which is a pretty great gift, I'd say.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Scargo Pottery

If you don't shop at the mall and aren't concerned with cleaning your house for holiday company, December kind of rocks. Everywhere you look, there's stuff to do. And people are happy. And the kids? You can pull that "Santa's watching" line on them over and over again.

I love Christmas. I am officially in the Christmas spirit.

Yes, Christmas. Because I don't know much about the other holidays and I'm too invested in the holiday of my youth to change now anyway. Invested in a "how did two boxes of Christmas whatnot turn into four boxes" kind of way. Can you imagine what would happen if I went multi-cultural? We'd have to move out.

Today's escapade involved a pottery studio and some eggnog. My friend invited us to meet her at Scargo Pottery for their annual open house. I have never been to Scargo Pottery, so I was in.
At the Scargo Pottery open house, you look at cool pots and sculptures and art, and then you elbow your way into the studio part of the gallery to a table that's covered with little cups. Hundreds of little cups. You get to pick out one and then wait patiently for someone to fill it with eggnog. Eggnog which, I might add, is mostly made with whipped cream.

But enough about the eggnog. The cups! Oh, the cups are brilliant. They are all different colors, and mostly the same shape (although Lucy picked one that was squished into kind of a spiral). It is So Hard To Choose. Mine is burgundy at the top and a natural speckled brown at the bottom. Lucy's is beige with brown speckles all over. It looks like an egg.

Part of me was all "where do you buy these things? I want eight!" and the other part was glad they don't sell them. I love the idea of going with Lucy every year and adding to our collection.
Today is the only day they give out the little cups, but a trip to Scargo Pottery is a gift in itself. It is a whole different world, tucked into the trees overlooking Scargo Lake.

So. Today Lucy and I received gifts from strangers and started a new holiday tradition. We are full of holiday cheer and ready for all that's ahead. After all, we don't really need anything at the mall, and although we are expecting company, why start cleaning now? It would be a total waste of a strategically low-set bar.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Newbury Street

As the story goes, our friends' daughter saw a field of flowers and asked if she could run through it. Given permission, she frolicked in the flowers and then returned, hot, damp and covered in burrs. "It's not as much fun as it looks," she declared.

I feel that way about a lot of things, specifically, at the moment, Newbury Street.

Don't get me wrong, I love Newbury Street. But somehow it always leaves me feeling vaguely unfulfilled. It would be so much easier if I could just smash it all down flat and roll in it. There's so much to wallow in, and no real way of wallowing if you don't slap down some coin and get yourself a pied-à-terre. It is not possible to soak it all up in one afternoon.

People watching alone is a full time job. Newbury Street is full of young hip things in very short skirts. Some skirts, in fact, were so short as to be inconsequential. Oh I do miss the short skirts. I forgo wearing them now as a public service - as did the Newbury Street women who were formerly young hip things, all looking very smart and toting shopping bags. These are the women I would emulate now, if I were a Newbury Street Regular. I reinvent myself with every passing block. I decide which salon I would go to if I lived there, what I would wear, where I would shop.

But at the end of the day, I am still me. Just a little stickier from all that jam and whipped cream.

I think when you run through a field of flowers your wish is, for just a moment, to BE a flower. And when you are not somehow magically transformed into an explosion of pink petals, there is a touch of something bittersweet. A little "why is it I'm doing this again?"

And then you see a man holding a paper cup out to passersby. You brace yourself for your turn, but instead of asking, he offers. "Your hair is so pretty," he says. "and will you look at those children! Beautiful. God bless you all." And suddenly, you are an explosion of pink petals, and it doesn't matter even a little bit that you do not have your hair cut on Newbury Street.

Monday, December 1, 2008

tell me baby, why you been gone so long*

Once a year, my sister and I would spend a day with my Aunt Betty, who lived in Boston. It was Our Day, and we got to do whatever we wanted. With her we went to the Museum of Science, walked the Freedom Trail, shopped at Faneuil Hall and blew kisses to a sea turtle at the New England Aquarium.

I loved visiting her in her Back Bay apartment. I can still see every detail in my mind's eye, even though she's been gone for... dang, it's been 20 years. I can hear her voice, I can smell the stairwell that led to her fourth floor apartment, I can see the tulips I bought her in Boston Common on a precociously warm spring day. I guess in a way she's not gone at all.

Today I took the kids to New England Aquarium. I've been there several times since my trip with Aunt Betty. I love going every chance I get. One of my favorite things, still, is the gigantic sea turtle in the center tank. I mentioned this to the kids' uncle, who works for the aquarium. He told us her name is Myrtle and she's been at the aquarium since it opened, nearly 40 years ago.

I remember standing at the top of the tank, looking down at that turtle with my aunt, and today, I watched the same turtle poke her nose to the surface of the water as if she were blowing kisses. Everything is different, and yet nothing's changed.

We went to the aquarium on our way to the airport, where we were meeting a friend. The friend missed her flight and we were left with the whole day spread out before us. Ever practical, I thought we should head south before rush hour started, just to be on the safe side.

Then I saw signs for Mass Ave and before I knew it, I was heading toward Back Bay. I parked in my super secret spot and led the kids past Aunt Betty's old apartment. Promising them treats, I took them for a walk down Newbury Street.

None of the cafes I remembered were there, so we walked and walked and finally came to Tealux. We had raspberry apricot scones the size of a sea turtle's head, heaped with Devon cream and strawberry jam, with a dollop of whipped cream for luck. When the hot cocoa arrived, the kids were given two glass mugs, half filled with whipped cream and topped with chocolate syrup and dark chocolate shavings. There was barely room for the cocoa. I had tea-buyers remorse.

Lucy and Studley looked at the cocoa and then looked at me in giddy disbelief. We don't do this kind of thing very often. But heck, it was their day. They could do whatever they wanted.

*ironically, this is the song someone is singing in the studio as I type

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Yule for Fuel

Chris is helping WOMR (outermost radio) and WHAT (Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater) with Yule for Fuel on Saturdays from now until Christmas. I asked him if he was doing a live broadcast and he said no, but it will be rebroadcast on Sunday. They decided not to do the live broadcast because Chris can't get the sound right on the mime acts.

Yule for Fuel is a benefit to provide assistance to families who need help with their heating bills this winter. It's hosted by Stephen Russell, who's one of the funniest people we know. He is the king of dry humor and can be remarkably funny just standing there. From what I understand, it's sort of a Prairie Home Companion format. Tonight is Sputnik, among many others.

Show starts at 7:30 at the Julie Harris stage. Tickets are $18. Here's the schedule.

Friday, November 28, 2008

the secret lives of freshwater fish

I told a friend a sad story the other day, in the spirit of "you think that's bad? here's what happened to us..." and her eyes got big as saucers and she just stood there holding my hand and looking for signs of the stigmata because surely I'm a saint? Which is not at all how that's supposed to go down. Someone else is supposed to pick up and tell an even more horrifying tale. It's not good to be the last one to overshare.

As my friend stood there holding my hand, I had to put my free hand over our two hands, because as she was looking deep into my eyes with such compassion I was squelching a desire to sing "one, two, three, four, I declare a thumb war!" Really, if someone holds your hand in the Thumb War position, it's hard not to oblige.

I would tell you the story so that you, too, could hold my hand and blink thrice in silence, but I made the whole thing into a joke at the time and I cannot for the life of me tell a funny story twice.

But I will tell you that just this second my mil and I scared the living daylights out of each other. Not only is she blind, she's a little deaf (although she can hear me making coffee from two miles off) and for reasons totally unrelated, she sleeps with her phone on her bed. Three times so far this evening she's knocked the phone off and I've gone in and recradled it to make it stop its infernal beeping. The last time I went in, just now, I leaned over her and hung up the phone and was not as quiet as the first two times or she was more awake and she jumped and yelled "WHAT?!?!?" into my ear which was about a foot away from her. I think we may have both wet our pants.

Also, (insert segue here) we're out of pie. I underestimated the amount of pie necessary to feed dinner guests, with enough left over to have for breakfast until Monday. If you don't have pie through the weekend, what is the point?

I already hit the upstairs neighbors up for dessert, so that line's been tapped. I was getting a vase off a shelf in the stairway the other night when I heard someone say "how do the downstairs neighbors know when we're taking dessert out of the oven?' And I said "dessert?" and barged right in. Oh helloooooooo, don't mind if I do.

And for the record, what may appear to be a sign of the stigmata is actually where I dropped a very heavy yet thankfully blunt knife on my toe on Thanksgiving. It still hurts. Send pie.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

of turkeys and trout

Oh look, it's 3:15 and the house is filled with smoke. It must be time for dinner! Who needs a dinner bell when there's coughing and wheezing to be done. It was just the butter water boiling over before I put the stuffing in, not the kitchen bursting into flames this year. Kitchen fires are sooo 2006.

Did you have a nice Thanksgiving? We had a good group of people who don't care so much that I used the napkins usually reserved for packing in lunchboxes. They were more focused on the yummy snacks (thanks upstairs neighbors!) and the ridiculous quantity of food. I think Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the food, and I love the reminder to think of all the things I'm thankful for.

I would tell you what I'm thankful for, but really, there aren't enough pixels for that. It's been a weirdly good year. Is that okay? That, despite appearances, we're having a good year amid national crisis? Granted our measurement of "good" is different from most and doesn't include things like a rain barrel full of cash. We forgot to get us a rain barrel full of cash. But we did kind of get a new home. And we have a new relationship with the kids' grandma - heck, we expanded our family from four to five and I didn't have to give birth! I'd call it a win.

I sometimes forget about the "ornaments of a house" line at the top of the page. Sometimes I go for weeks without looking at my own blog - hopefully things aren't going completely haywire. But about that ornaments thing, it's true. We've been stripping the house of ornamentation in the name of decluttering, and I am here to say, nothing gussies up a place like a good group of people.

So to my dinner friends, thanks for spiffying up my home.

And to my invisible internet friends, thanks for spiffying up my blog.

The world is a better place with you in it. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

morning glory

Studley is always the first one up. He tries to wait for the rest of us to regain consciousness, but at some point he gives up and heads to the kitchen.

When Lucy was three, she liked to do everything herself. So we put the cereal in plastic containers that were easy to handle and put them in a bottom cupboard with a stack of plastic bowls. She got her own breakfast every morning. We still do that, and Studley is marginally successful with this breakfasting process.

I lie in bed and listen to him doodle around in the kitchen, until I hear the shuffle of my mil approaching. Grandma doesn't understand that we're okay with Studley doing his thing in the kitchen and gets a bit flustered, so I try to get there as soon as I hear her on the approach, instead of waiting for the inevitable "WHERE IS YOUR MOTHER?"

This morning, I missed the shuffle and instead heard Studley chatting with his Grandma. He was talking a blue streak and helping her find things in the kitchen. While she heated up her coffee, he found her a spoon. When I came out, he was trying to reach the sugar bowl for her. He also gave her a cheese stick. She was remarkably okay with all this interaction first thing in the morning.

Studley doesn't understand that grandma can't see, but he watches the way his sister interacts with her and he likes to do what she does. So when he gives her a spoon he puts it in her hand. And when he gets her a mozzarella stick he narrates what he's doing.

Studley: Grandma, I'm getting you a cheese stick and me a cheese stick and Lucy a cheese stick. I'm unwrapping it for you because you don't know how. (rustle rustle). Here you go.
Grandma: (with damp, cold cheese stick suddenly placed in her open hand) Gah!!!

Once Lucy was up, I went back to bed. Actually, I went and read the comments on my last post. I do love reading your comments. They are always such a pleasant surprise.

I was sitting there, reading and feeling very pleased with the world, when I heard Lucy say "go ask mommy."

Studley: (patter patter patter down the hall) mommy, Lucy needs you
me: tell her I'll be right there. I'm wallowing in blog glory.
Studley: (patter patter back down the hall)
Lucy: what did she say?
Studley: she said "blah, blah, blah"

I have suspected for ages that this is what he hears when I am speaking to him. It explains a lot.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Joe Strummer

Today someone showed up to help my mother-in-law with some housekeeping things and oh boy were we glad to see her. I don't completely understand how my mil qualifies to have this help, but we are grateful for it. Maybe it's the Families of Mother-in-Laws Act which provides this coverage. Or the I Can't Keep My Own Bathroom Clean Much Less Yours initiative. At any rate, my mil (theoretically) has someone come for two or three hours every week to help her with whatever homemaking she needs help with. I say "theoretically" because my mil is fond of categorically firing these lovely people. And then we have to wait for a new person who is willing to come.

I'm never sure how much information I should dish out when new people come to the house. Do I need to explain that this is not the way we live, even though we've been living like this for a few months now? Do I need to apologize for my kitchen floor, which defies description in polite company? Or do I act like this is all completely normal and point her toward my mil's clean laundry, which I washed but neglected to fold and put away?

It's much easier when they don't speak English.

The new one does, and Chris ended up chatting with her a bit. It turns out (hold onto your seats) that this young woman's mother not only lived with Joe Strummer, but played in a punk band that toured with the Clash. So we're now two degrees of separation from Joe Strummer. Which would be way cooler if he were still alive, but still. There is no way we're letting my mil fire this one.

When I was in high school, I bought every album the Clash made. Sometimes I'd listen to them all, sequentially. This made me bitter, angry and likely to bite people, so I lowered my dosage. Now my playlists are peppered with the Clash and Big Audio Dynamite (Mick Jones). BAD doesn't make me want to bite anyone.

Before this, the closest I got to the Clash (besides in concert, which was not close) was a handwritten note from Mikey Dread, who produced Sandinista. I got that when I was living here, too. I sleep with it under my pillow.

So my question is, does Trout Towers attract such people? Really, what are the odds? Is Joe Strummer trying to reach us from the great beyond? And what does he want from us, besides my recipe for squash bisque?

Monday, November 24, 2008

progress report

If we don't paint the dining room something other than white, we will need to serve sunglasses with Thanksgiving dinner. Chris has refinished the floor, put up the trim and painted the first coat of white paint. The room has a big, south facing window and is perfectly retina burning.

He had help for the trim, which was nice because really, enough is enough. Some friends came by and set up all this cool-looking equipment. Chris will not stop talking about the laser level. I think he wants to put bookshelves up around the parameter of each room just so he has an excuse to use the level again. We are very, very grateful for the friends and are happy to have trim and baseboards again.

Maybe this project is just what Chris needed. With his work, he doesn't often end the day with a finished product. It's nice to have a feeling of accomplishment, and Chris discovered he's capable of more than he knew. He also really likes sanding floors. Some men golf, others sand floors.

So we are in something like the home stretch. There's still much to do (my kitchen floor!), but at least the furniture can go where it belongs and we can stop climbing over things. Once we clear out the livingroom, we'll be able to reach the shelves. Once those are painted, I think we'll be able to start unpacking boxes. Already! I know! It seems like it was only yesterday that we were packing those boxes. In t-shirts. With summer tans.

That's not true. I don't tan. Still, it was summer and now it's winter and oh my lands will this ever be done?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

the sound of one blog yapping

I must confess. Earlier in the month, when I noticed I had posted every day, I signed up for NaBloPoMo (which is almost as unfortunate an acronym as Boston Lyric Opera's blo.org). Miraculously, I had some small gems to share every day. Then I got sick of the sound of my own typing and had visions of people opening their Google Readers and sighing, "oh dear, not another one."

And so I didn't post. For two whole days. I have failed NaBloPoMo, but for me I think that doing something every day does not make it better.

However, there have been many things I want to share with you. For instance, some friends dropped by last night and we discussed the many charms of having a contractor's trash bag in the middle of one's living room. I am spoiled by this. It is so easy to discard things big and small. I think once we're done working on the house, I will ask Chris to cut a hole in the middle of the floor of each room, topped with a manhole cover. Every so often, I'll just sweep everything into the hole.

Same goes for vacuuming with a shop vac. I could get out our regular vacuum, but it seems silly when the shop vac is sitting right there in the dining room. Do you realize what you can suck up in a shop vac? Markers without caps, holey socks, dead mice. It's dreamy.

Another thing I wanted to tell you about was the birthday party I went to yesterday. It was at the Enchanted Castle, which is a play space in the back of a children's accessory store. The kids get to dress up as fairies and play games in a beautifully painted fairy tale worthy room. And then they're fed cupcakes. The rooms, though beautiful, are small - and earsplitting when filled with three and four year olds. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Plymouth Family Planning is located next door.

And speaking of Plymouth, they are building a movie studio in Plymouth, which has been referred to as Hollywood East but is formally known as Plymouth Rock. Many movie people want to film here, but haven't been able to do so without a studio. What I really want to know is, if Hollywood is opening up a satellite in Plymouth, why didn't they call it Plywood?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

endowment for the arts

I am classy. I am currently reading Bel Canto, which has something to do with an opera singer. I played violin in high school. I have capers in my refrigerator. I knit. I am one class act, let me tell you.

And yet, when I found myself in yet another waiting room, surrounded by women I barely know, it was not Bel Canto I pulled out of my bag to read. It was Stacked, by Susan Seligson. Because I am classy.

At first I tried to hide the cover, which makes it ABUNDANTLY clear what sort of stacked this book is about. Then I tried not to laugh out loud. And then I just had to excuse myself.

This is maybe not my year to run for PTA president.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I am having a mid night life crisis. I love love love my family and my home more than words can express, but there's a little piece of me that longs to be unaccountable.

I was heading home last night and passed a movie theater. I haven't been to a movie in ages and for just the most fleeting of seconds I thought about stopping. To just stop, and go to a movie. To be somewhere unexpected, unknown, unauthorized. I know, I'm a wild one.

I don't feel the need to get away from my family. I do feel the need to not explain myself every moment.

When I was a nanny in Germany I took a language class in another town. Every once in a while, I would get on the train to go to my class and I would decide to go somewhere else. Into the city for an evening of exploring, over to a spa town for some window shopping. It didn't matter. The family I lived with was wonderful - are still dear friends - but there was something about striking out on my own that just felt good.

As a mother, this behavior now makes me a little twitchy. Hi mom! Sorry for making you crazy all those years! It is good to have people know where you are. It's sensible. I know this. But I think it was my training of "do unto others" that stopped me from following through last night, and not my sensible nature. If Chris was three hours later than expected because he had stopped for a movie, I would maybe not be so happy about it. If Lucy or Studley were three hours late and were not in any of the places they said they would be, I'd lose my mind. As much as I cherish my independence (and oh, I DO), I cherish those three people so much more.

Don't people outgrow this stuff? Is it one of those things that comes in waves? Maybe I'm just uber-accountable at the moment, answering questions about what I'm doing from too many sources. It's part of being sandwiched.

How do you find your balance between spontaneous road tripping and making sure the lunch boxes are packed? Do you have a good way to respond to "what are you doing" eleventy hundred times a day? That doesn't involve faking amnesia?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Hurler

Welcome, "This is Why You're Fat" visitors! You may also enjoy Mac & Cheese Pizza.


Today I learned something new and I kind of wish I hadn't. Have you ever heard of a Hurler Burger? They sell them at the Yarmouth-Dennis Cape League baseball games here on the Cape. I have never been to a Y-D game, so have been blissfully ignorant all these years.

The aptly named Hurler Burger is a burger, topped with canned cheese and served (wait for it) "lovingly cradled in the heart of a jelly donut." It makes me a little queasy just thinking about it.

I found out about it because I discovered today that my friend Cat is the host of All Access Cape Cod, a local access t.v. program. I am apparently too busy blogging to watch local access t.v., and so missed this fine footage:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nancy Craig

I have a huge crush on this woman. I'm glad I met her before I knew who she was, because otherwise I'd be completely unable to talk to her. Yesterday she gave me a copy of an article Geoff Edgers did in the Boston Globe. I kind of want to appear on her doorstep now.

For an abbreviated version, check out this slideshow.

photo: Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Sunday, November 16, 2008

passive aggression - 1, Chris - 0

I'm cleaning house today. In the literal sense, not so much the figurative. I was trying to think what was wrong, what was making it less giddily fun than usual, and I suddenly realized that this No Music thing is getting me down.

We haven't had a stereo in the house since early September. There's a radio, but it just gets NPR. Not that there's anything wrong with NPR, but I just can't get down to All Things Considered. It doesn't make me skip down the hall with my laundry basket.

So I remedied the situation in my own space. I dug out my iPod, which had been hooked up to the stereo, and found some earphones in the basement. That's earphones, not headphones, as one usually finds in our basement - as charming a picture as that would make. Earphones on, I proceeded to scamper around the house gathering up dropped toys and laundry. As an aside, how do we end up with so much dirty laundry in our livingroom? Again, I mean that in the literal sense. It's been awhile since we had figurative dirty laundry in our livingroom. Ah, the days of our youth.

I was having such a spiffy time with my iPod, the rest of the family got a little jealous. Lucy asked what I was doing with the earphones and when I showed her, she wanted to plug in. I explained that she would SLOW ME DOWN and there was no way I was letting her. She took it moderately well.

Chris didn't take it as well. He thought it was dreadfully unfair. And then what to my wondering
eyes should appear, but a receiver and some speakers.

And then he heard what I was listening to and was a little sad.

Clean the house play list:
Nikki Costa
Beastie Boys
Christina Aguilera (I'm not proud of this)
Fat Boy Slim
Chemical Brothers
Boys Don't Cry
Shiny Toy Guns
Ok Go
The Offspring
The Cure

Not, in other words, NPR.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

trading places

For reasons too complicated to illuminate here, I traded cars with someone for 24 hours. No big deal, right? Oh, when will you learn that it's ALL a big deal in my world.

Switching cars is on par with trading bathrooms. Yes, yes, they both have the usual necessary fixtures, but when you trade you have to pack all the pertinent things from yours and move it to theirs. Which is complicated. For instance, you pack your toothbrush and toothpaste and call it good, but then what if you need an emergency tweezing or filing or toenail whitening? And you didn't think to bring your tweezers, file or toenail whitener? There are things that are just THERE, so if we need them, we can find them without having to think about it.

This is not to say that I keep toenail whitener in my car. But I do carry pretty much everything else. And so it was hard to gather the essentials. Off-putting, as it turns out.

This afternoon I had a grillion things to do, some in my car, some in the not-my-car. I liked driving the car that wasn't mine. It had all kinds of tempting features and I sort of didn't want to give it up. But then I had an unrelated anxiety attack in the afternoon which Chris attributed to not having my own car. I think he's right, mostly because it makes very little sense and that's how I roll.

So one minute I'm having a perfectly fine and lovely time at a Wild Care benefit and the next minute I realize I have grossly underestimated the time I need to get to points a, b & c. And I lose my marbles. Moving back into my own car makes my head spin as I consider the inevitability of things left behind. First I thought I had left my purse, and then half an hour later I'm howling "I'VE LEFT MY CELL PHONE!!! Nooooooo!!!!" And I also couldn't wrap my head around how to get from here to there, in what order, and with what accessories. And people kept talking to me about unrelated things and I'm sure they were saying to themselves "why are her eyes spinning around like pinwheels?"

I like to think of myself as a fairly calm and reasonable person. I know my children will not agree, but what do they know? I can pretty much roll with the punches and make decisions on the fly. I have no idea what happened to my coping skills.

I did finally make it to point c, by way of b and a. I arrived there 20 minutes early instead of 10 minutes late because I had written down the time wrong. That gave me 20 minutes to write dozens of "sorry for the freak out" texts - which given how fast I text, was barely enough time, but I was in my own car so it was okay.

Friday, November 14, 2008

when artificial intelligence reincarnates

Chris just breezed through the livingroom, on his way back to the basement where he's been hiding (and will continue to hide until the extra children have left the house). By way of making polite conversation, he asked me about a restaurant I've been to, where he'll be doing sound later. He asked me those usual questions husbands ask wives - if the ceilings are high, if it's carpeted, what the reverb t60 time is. Normal stuff.

I tell him I think it's carpeted, but that may be a lie. I tell him to get the vegetable napolean because it rocks. I don't know what the napolean's reverb time is, but it's about $20.

He asks me if the band I saw there used monitors. I have no idea, but I can tell you what they wore if I think about it for a minute or two. I know one of them had a black garage-type shirt with his name embroidered in white. Chris says the next time I go see a band without him I should take pictures of the gear and find out what kind of cables they're using. I try to envision the gear they had on stage but my mind's eye keeps getting distracted by the chalkboard that was next to the stage, listing all the local products they served.

It's kind of making me hungry, all this tech talk.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

flowers from Studley

This morning I went to the garden for some celery, which is nearly the only thing still living (besides the brussels sprouts, about which I am in denial). As I washed it, I realized Studley had gone out after me and was bringing me another offering from the garden.

"Celery!" he pronounced.

"Nasturtium!" I corrected. It's important to instill a sense of botanical inferiority in anyone who knows less than you.

Whatever you want to call it, Studley picked me flowers this morning. In this case, dead blossoms on a leafy vine pulled up by the roots absolutely qualify as "flowers." Don't get any ideas, Chris.

I would also like to point out that if you take a picture with bright window light, the glare obviates the need to clean the sink before taking aforementioned picture. Coming soon, more pictures of things in my sink.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

oh hi, you must be the Joneses

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water....

I was waiting around with a group of moms today, again. As usual. This time I remembered to bring my book, but still kept getting distracted by the conversation.

"Totally unsanitary."

"Calls from the neighbors."

"The RV in the yard really takes it to the next level."

"Their dryer must not be working, because there's laundry hanging on lines all over the back yard."

At this point I'm all ears, but don't look up for fear of being found out. Despite our working dryer, we have been wanting to put lines up to hang our laundry. The only reason we don't have laundry criss-crossing our own back yard is an inability to decide on a format. Center pole? Pulley system? There but for the grace of follow-through, is what I'm trying to say.

"There's bags of trash outside!" Check. We've got those. Mostly they're on the way somewhere, but sometimes if I'm barefoot (pregnant, and in the middle of making some of my famous homemade meth) I don't make it all the way to the truck with them. The truck which, while not technically an RV, is as big as an RV. Chris wants to weld some bunks into it so we can go on road trips.

"And have you seen the screen door? It's completely broken. The dogs jumped through!" One of the moms notices my pallor and adds "they're pitbulls!" Check, and check, on the basis of guilt by association. It wasn't ours, but a pitbull mix was living here and she did jump through our screen door. Pitbulls are reputed to be smart so I figured she'd make some calls and have it repaired. She didn't. The only reason our own screen door is not completely broken is that cold winter blessed us with a reason to remove said door and hide it in a pile of other broken doors and windows. Ahem.

"The health department will probably come by. There are holes and stumps in the yard." Are these things related? We have stumps in the yard. And by hole, do you mean something you could drop a child down? Or a divot, as would be caused by the scratching of chickens?

They left some infractions out. Apparently the house in question is seriously lacking chickens, boats and a surplus of vehicles. In our defense, our house is not plunked in the middle of a cultivated neighborhood. Our neighborhood is strictly organic. While we are certainly the nuttiest house on the lane, we don't have chem-lawns on either side to accentuate our earthier attributes. Our neighbors seem to like us, to boot.

Quite recently I caught myself being proud of my quirky domicile. It's homey. It's friendly. It's marginally self-sufficient.

It's the bane of my compatriots.

(queue pep talk)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

chicken perambulator

I was just chatting with the friends upstairs about some woman who takes her cat for walks. It made me think it's high time to start walking the chickens. They usually follow me around when I'm holding bread crusts, so it would just be a matter of extending their attention span. At the moment, they have an attention span of 17 seconds. Between them.

The cat lady, according to eyewitnesses, takes her cat on these walks in a stroller-type device. This got me thinking (as many things do): If I make a plywood frame with a wheel on each of the corners, and then put chicken wire around it, I could make a rolling playpen. Not only would they get to see the neighborhood, they'd get some exercise. And I'd make a name for myself as the crazy chicken lady down the street. I think I have secretly always wanted a name for myself.

The chickens probably wouldn't be up for it. They're not so happy with me right now. I needed an egg this evening for some gingerbread and when I saw we had none, I figured there was one in the coop. They were not amused when I woke them up. The gingerbread was delicious, though. Sorry, chickens.

And in other recipe news, I just posted the directions for one of the strangest concoctions you'd ever dream of serving for dinner. It's on vigilantehousewife.blogspot.com.

And in other housewife news, I think the dining room is just about ready for painting. I'm hoping we can take a break before we refinish the floors because it would be quite refreshing to get the extra furniture off the couch for a change. Just a thought.

My life. It is so glamorous, no?

Monday, November 10, 2008

I would poke food through the bars, so what's the problem?

Chris made the kids go to the beach yesterday. Made them. They get all "oh man, not the BEACH AGAIN" when we suggest it, but we are mean parents and do not listen to them.

Once they are there, they act as if it was their idea. They run around and torment the seagulls. And then they make scale versions of their favorite cities in the sand. Yesterday was Taipei. They were very tired when they came home. Especially Studley, who was doing all this when he was supposed to be taking a nap.

He fell asleep on the kitchen floor while I was making dinner, around 4:30. Side note - ahahahahaha! I make dinner at 4:30 now! What am I, somebody's mother? Oh late night dinners, I miss you so.

I let him sleep for awhile because he was in the one spot that was not in my way. And then I had to drain the pasta and Chris said "er, can I move the kid before you step over him with a gigantic pot of boiling water?" He is so persnickety, that one. Chris tossed Studley in bed and the rest of us had dinner. We were very quiet because there were only eight dinner rolls and they wouldn't have split so easily between five people as they did four. Lucy of course had it all figured out and had gotten out her caliper and exacto knife to do the necessary dividing if need be.

After dinner I changed Studley into his pajamas, figuring he'd wake up. He didn't. He drooled a little on me, but that's about all the response I got. I figured, how bad could this possibly go? and put him to bed for the night.

"The night" ended promptly at 3:15 a.m.

Needless to say, I was a little sleepy at work today. But I do some of my best thinking in that space that hangs between asleep and awake. I had about 7 hours of that space today, so I thought a lot of thoughts.

One of my coworkers has a new puppy. She was telling me about her but in my addled state it all sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher talking.

her: mwah mwah mwah mwah puppy kindergarten mwah mwah.
me: zzzzzz...
her: mwah mwah mwah and she's totally crate trained...
me: crate trained? How big a crate? Where do you get them? Do you just use it at night or during the day when you need a break? How long do you leave her in there? What sort of dexterity is required to open it from the inside?

I think this crate thing is the answer to everything. Studley gets up so darn early and there seems to be no way of keeping him out of the refrigerator - especially the egg carton - without getting up and supervising him. I keep explaining that getting up to supervise him when I'd rather be sleeping is not an option, but the other people around here don't seem to get it.

I'll let you know how it goes. If it's successful, maybe I'll get one for myself and refuse to come out.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

atomic perks

Yesterday I went to Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater to review the High Definition live opera broadcast for C.O.D. This is mostly notable due to the fact that 99% of C.O.D readers do not listen to opera. Should prove interesting.

Afterwards, I chatted with the general manager of WHAT. We discovered we have a mutual friend, for whom I work. The GM perked up and said that they are looking for someone to do that type of work for the theater. "But maybe it would be a conflict of interest," he added.

I reminded him of my complete lack of journalistic integrity and suggested we chat later. After all, the two are completely separate - the work and the reviewing. How could one possibly affect the other? Unless he pays me three times my usual rate, at which point my reviews get noticeably more glowing. They will not, however, get noticeably more focused or sophisticated, no matter how much he pays me. Not only do I have no journalistic integrity, I have no journalistic skills.

Here's the first one. (updated: don't bother clicking on the link anymore. They decided to put it in the paper version and took it off the web.)

Above, Gerald Finley as Dr. Atomic. He's cute. Photo by Nick Heavican/Metropolitan Opera

Friday, November 7, 2008

transgender guinea pig

Yesterday after dropping the kids off at school, I stood chatting with one of the other moms in the parking lot. "Do you know anyone who would like a guinea pig?" she asked. Short answer: Me. I love furry little critters and I absolutely cannot wait until we are in a pet store and the kids beg "please please please can we get the cute, little, fuzzy, hamster-gerbil-mouse-guinea-pig?" I will be Wonder Mom and let myself be convinced. "Don't tell your father," I'll say.

But this is not the time. Even I know that. My living room has a bag of cat food, a 5 gallon bucket of paint, a gigantic sander, two sets of nesting tables, one set of tv tables, a china cabinet, a craft station, a step stool, a file cabinet and a whole bunch of piles of things IN ADDITION TO the things that are supposed to be in here. Sadly, there is no place for a guinea pig cage. Same goes for the kids' room. Maybe our room, but it would be hard to keep it a secret from Chris in there. Harder, at least. Sometimes he doesn't notice things. He mostly notices when I bring home new handmade bowls for our kitchen. He notices them because he is the dishwasher of the family. So as long as we don't stick the pig in the kitchen sink, we might be okay.

The other mom and I chatted about the guinea pig. Her name is Tiffany, but she's not a girl. "We got two boys, so we wouldn't have baby guinea pigs. But we couldn't tell our daughter that hers was a boy. So it's a girl," she explained.

"Didn't she ask why Tiffany's underpants have a flap in the front?" I asked. The mom said that this has never been a problem. Nor does Tiffany leave the seat up or abandon magazines in the bathroom. She is blending.

I would think that if you were going to give a boy guinea pig a girl's name, you'd choose something a little more universal. Like Ashley, or Evelyn. If the guinea pig were to come live here, I would rename her immediately. I would name her Penny Champagne, after the showgirl we saw in Provincetown. (She's a boy, too.)

So if you are looking for a boy or a girl guinea pig, I know of one who 's particularly accommodating. She is very sweet, likes to eat carrots and will never show up on your porch pregnant and expecting you to raise the babies.

Free to good home.

(For the record, Tiffany is not her real name. Guinea pigs have rights to privacy, too.)


In my dance class, my teacher is always reminding us to keep our shoulders down. She also reminds me, personally, that my clumsy geek is showing. But that's another post. This one's about shoulders.

Because I hear it so much in my dance class, I am more aware of what my shoulders are doing in real life. Once, in Paris (I just love saying that), a friend's husband told me that every time we notice our shoulders are tense we should acknowledge what it is we are thinking about, because that is what's making us tense. When I ask my kids something and they don't answer, I ask them again and again and again until they freak out and yell "moooooooom, I HEARD YOU!" which is really all I wanted in the first place. Our shoulders are like that. They just want to know they've been heard.

When you look at someone whose shoulders are tense, it makes you tense. It's like yawning. Look at someone whose shoulders are down, and it's comforting. Oh look, you think, there's obviously nothing to worry about here. Which may be part of why ballet is such a decadent relief to watch. If life really does imitate art, our own bodies relax as we watch. And we get home and say "honey, why am I wearing this tutu?"

I don't know what the point of all this is. Justifying my dance class? Preparing my husband for a big fat Boston Ballet expenditure, categorized under "physical therapy?" Or maybe just noticing that I have been tense lately about things that are just not worth it. It is what it is. It isn't what it isn't. And carrying it around on my shoulders won't help.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Evening at the Towers

Chris has the world's loudest band recording downstairs. The kids are asleep - they are used to this. Note to new parents: if you have a band recording an album at your house when your babies first arrive, they will be able to sleep through anything. The babies, I mean, not the bands. Bands are already able to sleep through anything.

So we have music seeping through the floor and sometimes it messes up our counts. What counts, you ask? Liz and I are in the livingroom knitting. It keeps the universe in balance, this show of domestic civility in the midst of rock and roll mayhem. I like the contrast between our knitting accoutrement filled livingroom above and the recording studio/man cave below. I think it's important for homes to have multiple personality disorder. Trout Towers never lets me down in this respect.

Now when I refer to the livingroom as a livingroom, I'm being a tad generous. I found space on the couch for the two of us and our knitting baskets. And then I grabbed an extra lamp. And shoved some things off a table. Our livingroom has in it every piece of furniture that has no home, plus all the trim from the diningroom. Visiting in our livingroom is a little like receiving company in one's storage unit. Add to this the fact that Lucy's carved out a corner for her own craft-related aspirations, and you have a virtual petri dish of creativity.

Do other people simultaneously live alternate lives? Are we the only ones with multiple personality surroundings? Please confess.
Right, right, okay, so I just placed a banner ad in my sidebar. Who knew it would spring off the page and probably run into the next person's blog, who at this moment is all shades of puzzled. Please be patient, and stand clear of the learning curve.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

and now for something completely different

I am trying very hard to write about something unrelated to the election. Because if I start writing about the election I might not stop. Ever. It just makes me want to run around hugging people. My heart simply cannot hold this much love.


Lucy was in a blind funk this morning because her dentist appointment was canceled and she had looked forward to it ALL WEEK. I have no idea what I'm doing right in the parenting department, but obviously the part where we willfully mislead our children is going smashingly.

It also seems I've successfully mislead my upstairs neighbor. She came down last night looking for some help with a knitting project. This is funny because I have the knitting skills of a cabbage. But it seems I talk a good line. Plus, those Christmas presents I made last year were really impressive - mostly popsicle stick gods eyes and some of those knitted things you make with the spool where the knitted tube comes out the bottom.

Speaking of making my own gifts, I took the pledge to give handmade gifts this season. This is a no brainer for me because I'm handy with popsicle sticks. And I work for a gallery where they sell handmade things if I run out of popsicle sticks. I love the idea behind this pledge. The buyhandmade.org website says:
The ascendancy of chain store culture and global manufacturing has left us dressing, furnishing, and decorating alike. We are encouraged to be consumers, not producers, of our own culture. Our ties to the local and human sources of our goods have been lost. Buying handmade helps us reconnect.
To be fair, no one dresses, furnishes or decorates the way we do at Trout Towers. Mostly because they don't want to. Furthermore, at this very moment I can pretty much guarantee that I am producing my own culture somewhere in the house. That's what happens when people don't bring their dirty dishes back to the kitchen.

I would love to branch out from my loop potholders and crocheted plant hangers, so if you have any great ideas for handmade gifts, please weigh in. Maybe gift certificates redeemable for the misleading of other people's children?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

November 4!

It's today! It's today! Are the polls open yet, hmmmm?

I read that Starbucks is offering free coffee to people who've voted. That's awesome, except by the time I drive to my nearest Starbucks I will have spent the equivalent of a Venti something-or-other, a scone, a travel mug and possibly an authentic italian milk frother in gas. Am I the only person in the continental U.S. who doesn't live within 5 miles of a Starbucks?

Maybe I'll just go to my local coffee shop and ask them for a free coffee.

Monday, November 3, 2008


It is winter and my skin is so dry and tight and crumbly all I can think about is lying in a bathtub full of olive oil. It would be so deliriously lovely. Yesterday as I was driving I realized I had chapstick in my bag and laid it on luxuriously. What a relief! Moisture! Fortunately I glanced at myself in the rear view mirror before going in to symphony - turns out it wasn't chapstick, it was lipstick. I looked like somebody's great aunt. Sweet!

It's amazing I noticed. Do you look in mirrors? I don't think I do. And when I do, I don't actually see myself. I mean, I make sure the toothbrush is somewhere inside my mouth and I do make some effort at tidying myself up in the morning, but the mirror is there pretty much just as a guide. I see my face, but don't look at details. After all, I know what I look like. My mind sort of recreates the rest for me.

A friend of mine just told me she does this, too, and was recently shocked to notice that she looked different than she remembered. I do that. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself and shriek. In my head I am this blythe and ethereal pixie being. In real life? Not so much. Too tall, too dark, too, how shall we say? SOLID.

Two people today reminded me that I look like Rachel Griffiths, from Brothers and Sisters. Two! I have a secret fantasy that some day someone will tell her she looks like me. I'm sure someone out there, ahem, knows someone who worked with Rachel Griffiths on Six Feet Under. Surely she knows someone who could casually mention it? "Hey, Rachel, has anyone ever told you you look just like Susan from Trout Towers? I bet you get that all the time."

In other completely unrelated news, I wish I could put ringers on a few more of my personal posessions so I could call them when they go missing. I was just looking for my calender and in my slightly addled post-nap state I picked up my phone to call it. I would also like a ringer on my car keys and Studley's shoes, please.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pretentia goes to the symphony

I am a pretentious prat. When I tell people I'm going to symphony and they ask "Boston?" I get a weird apologetic tone in my voice as I answer "no, Cape Cod." Of the many, many moronic things I do on a regular basis, this has to be in the top five. At this moment, I have never been so proud to be a (freeloading child of a) Cape Cod Symphony subscriber.

Today's concert was expletive inducing. It started with "Water Music" by Tan Dun. You may know Tan Dun from such hits as the soundtrack of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the official music for the Beijing Olympics. In the front of the stage were four large basins of water, with uplights shining through them onto the ceiling. Soloist Christopher Lamb, principle percussionist with New York Philharmonic, played two of the basins. The other two were played by CCSO musicians. How do you play a basin of water, you ask? Mighty fine question. But Lamb made it sound like ducks feeding and fish splashing. And then he put a wooden disk in one and played it like a xylophone. Oh, and then they all got these gongs and played them with violin bows while dipping them in and out of water. Completely and fabulously eerie, that. The music was lyrical and witty and completely entrancing on every imaginable level. I was heartbroken when it stopped.

This from someone who as a child used to watch the music and try to gauge how many pages were left.

As if that were not enough, they also played a piece composed by kids at Wixon Middle School. It was part of the education outreach that the symphony does. And it did not make me hide under my seat and refuse to come out. I don't know what they're teaching these kids, but I hope they're still doing it when mine are old enough to participate.

And as if THAT were not enough, they also collaborated with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute - which I have a huge crush on. It was an homage to Jacques Cousteau and included a WHOI video.

Really, it's a good thing I had curry for lunch, otherwise I would have run right out afterwards and kissed Jung-Ho Pak. I have a crush on him, too.

I might also have a crush on Christopher Lamb. "Water Music" was composed for him, and not in a "oh, this piece has your name all over it" kind of way. Tan Dun composed this specifically for Christopher Lamb. Who, incidentally, is a veteran of the Colorado Philharmonic (which I wrote about recently). Small world, no? Since he played with the CPO, my mom wanted to go backstage and see him afterwards. We were disappointed to find he'd gone. I usually dislike going back stage and stalking artists, but this time I probably would have feigned a fainting spell in his arms.

My mom may also have a crush on Christopher Lamb, but not because of his Tan Dun street cred. She likes the classics, thank you. For the people like her in the audience, Pak included a bit from Ma Vlast (Smetana) and Debussy's La Mer. But please, anyone can do that. Even Boston.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

home ec

Was that class Home Ec (short for Economics) or Home Mak (short for Making)? I had one Home Ec/Mac teacher show us how to give ourselves manicures in middle school (eat your jello!), so maybe there were two different courses. I also learned that if you close the door to the oven with the broiler on, the window might explode. Don't ask.

A couple weeks ago I had the super genius idea of tracking my efforts to spend $100/week on food (for the house, not just me), and reporting my revelations here. But then I forgot to keep track of what I spent and then the week I was really, really going to start, Chris bought the groceries and threw in some items like caviar and fois gras.

By the time I had organized myself and had been following my weekly menus for a couple weeks, I came to the realization that documenting these efforts online is ridiculous. Honestly, who's going to want to read that? I wouldn't.

$100 a week for a family of five breaks down to about $1 per person per meal. It sounded like a reasonable amount to spend until I figured that out. One dollar per person, per meal. Today I made the red beans and rice from Kristin's blog Going Country. It was about $10 in groceries (hello, organic sausage made from formerly happy free range chickens!) but it made about three gallons of red beans. Even the way we eat (we're pigs), that's three dinners AT LEAST. Thank you, Kristin! It was delicious.

So with all the time I'm saving NOT typing up my grocery lists, I'm hanging out on Facebook. I don't know what to do on Facebook, so mostly I just watch as the feed tells me what my friends are up to. Both of my friends. There's a lot of downtime.

Then I figured out how to stalk people from my high school and college and increased my number of friends exponentially. I did not contact the guy who spent all of high school in his basement playing dungeons and dragons. He used to bring meticulously painted figures of dungeon masters to school. Not contacting him was probably a mistake. He's probably the CEO of a small country by now. Dungeon Masters are good like that.

I also did not contact the woman I didn't know from a different year (I was getting desperate) who is wearing a leather lace-up number in her profile picture. Note to self: no lace up leather thingies after 40.

But I did find one of my best friends from elementary school who I lost track of when she went on the rodeo circuit. Really! At least, I think that's what she did. How would I know? She admitted to having me as a facebook friend but hasn't given me the goods on rodeo life yet. I am standing by.

When I update my status on facebook I try to sound all glamorous and smart. I do not mention that I am going through the grocery store with a slide rule, analyzing cost-benefit ratio. You do that with a slide rule, right? Abacus?

Are you going around with a slide rule these days? Are you taking measures to straighten out the economy within your own walls? I'm not implying that your own economics are failing, just that it makes me feel ever so slightly less helpless if I can take control of what is actually within my control. Be the change, as they say ("they" being, you know, Ghandi).

Tips? Tricks?

Friday, October 31, 2008


This morning at breakfast my mother-in-law said, "I wonder where Paulette is," quite out of nowhere. I braced myself for the advent of invisible friends at the breakfast table, but instead she told me a story.

Paulette was the daughter of my mil's childhood cook, and lived at her house in a back room. She was the same age as my mil, and the two of them played together often. Rather, they played together at the house and in the garden, but they were never allowed to go to the park together.

Halloween came, and mil wanted Paulette to come trick-or-treating with her. "Absolutely not!" said her mother. But her father stepped in and took both girls. They must have been very cute in their matching costumes, both dressed as ghosts, with white sheets down to their toes and nothing but eyeholes cut out.

On the way home, her father ran into a friend and got to chatting. Since it was Virginia, the girls got very hot and the father told them to go ahead and take their costumes off. Imagine the friend's surprise when there appeared one very blond little girl and one very black little girl. It was, after all, Virginia in the 1930s.

Things have changed, right?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

By now you all know that I'm not smart enough to weigh in politically.

However, yesterday at Trader Joe's I saw a minivan with a McCain/Palin bumper sticker. Next to the McCain/Palin sticker was another one that said "I heart Whales."

I wanted to get out my sharpie marker (never leave home without one) and add "Polar bears? Not so much."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

scouting wifi

In the sitcom version of myself, I will arrive at a library, find the designated laptop station and set up my computer. I'll then pull family pictures out of my laptop case and arrange them on the table. And I will replace the silk tulips with a live begonia, also from my laptop case.

I am at a table in a library now, where a silk tulip dips seductively from its vase and blocks my view of the uppermost right corner of my monitor. I don't need to see the uppermost right corner of my monitor, so I'm letting it slide. The vase has plastic water in the bottom, and the stems are nestled into an arrangement of fake green apples and cranberries, which are floating in the "water." And speaking of quotation marks, there's a flyer on the table that says:
"Salute to Scouting" Breakfast Honoring Mary Leclair
When I first saw it, I read "Salute to Scouting Breakfast." Now that's something I can get behind. I don't know who Mary Leclair is, but if she can help me find some good new breakfast joints, I'd be grateful.

Actually, I may know of one and those of you who are local will call to thank me personally for this bit of insiderness. A woman from my dance class is opening a breakfast restaurant in Harwich, near Andale Cafe in Harwich Center. It's where Stewed Tomatoes used to be and it is called Shenanagans, although I may have spelled that wrong. I talked to Julie this morning and she thinks they will be open next week! She has been testing the food and deems it edible.

I would like very much to test the food. Will someone please get me a gig doing food reviews so I can test more food?

Is it time for lunch yet?

This is what happens when I am supposed to be working on something I can't figure out: I write a blog post and then start deciding what to have for lunch. Maybe I'll check my email again.

But I have to look important because there's a real live journalist at the next table and he's making me look bad. Speaking of real live journalists, the Banner has a new column called Bel Canto. It's an opera education thingy and it comes out before each live Met broadcast. I think I might start my own opera education thingy which will come out before each broadcast. It will be maybe not so educational but I would like to do it anyway. I am uniquely qualified for this because there is music playing quietly here at the library and I know it's from Turandot. Dude, I totally know opera.

And with that, I leave you to your day.

Monday, October 27, 2008

feeling flush

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming of musicians and toilets and musicians who leave toilets in our yard. Because who doesn't come home to find a toilet in their yard from time to time?

Last weekend Chris was recording a band. When the guitar player came up to use the bathroom, he noticed that our toilet wasn't working particularly well. He's currently tearing down a house and suggested salvaging a toilet and bringing it over for us to install. "It's so easy," he tells me. "Have you ever put in a toilet?" Er, no, I haven't installed a toilet. I am not sure how I have lived this long and not put in a toilet. I know that it involves a wax ring, though. So that's almost like having done it.

True to his word, the loudest guitar player in the world brought a toilet over today. Honestly? I'm thrilled. It's a low-flush toilet, so it's a gigantic improvement over our continual flush model. And we don't have to go spending money on it, which is good because in the 17 pages that comprise my 2008 Christmas wish list, you will not find "new toilet."

This whole salvaging thing is new to me. We have lots of salvaged things here at the Towers - our upstairs fridge, some cupboards and now this. It's the way things are done around here. And by "here" I mean Cape Cod. And by Cape Cod I mean the lower/outer Cape. When they took down the old Uncle Tim's Bridge in Wellfleet, all the lumber was hauled off by various people to use on various projects. I heard they didn't need to take much of anything to the dump. It's the same spirit that drove people to the beaches in the wee hours of the morning to scavenge valuables washed up on shore after a shipwreck. We've just stopped waving our lanterns on moonless nights, trying to get the ships to wreck.

Oh, and to make matters even more colorful, when I went to see this house they are taking down, I noticed a man standing across the street watching the activity. I soon recognized him as someone who had recently been elected to a board I sit on. Which is awesome because it's not like I already have a reputation for being the oddball on the board or anything (they are lovely and pretend not to notice that sometimes I have mustard in my hair). I just have to be careful if we ever meet at my house, not to let this particular person use the hall bathroom. I can't have him recognizing the toilet from across the street, now can I? Because, you know, he might not be from here.

(Lest you think I was making this up.)

So now the question is, what to do with the old one. Planter?

Chicken Update

Calliope is still missing. Antigone, Hyperbole and Apostrophe are looking confused. They can tell something's amiss but can't wrap their little feathered heads around what's different. They skipped gaily into the coop last night, so I don't think they witnessed it when the Straight Talk Express pulled up and recruited my chicken. It's either that or the religious order down the street. They've been known to be quite persuasive and have a reputation for breaking up families.

Chris went out this morning to look for her. I asked if he wanted to take a piece of bread with him and he said no, he'd be fine. You know, in case he was lost in a snow storm or something at the end of our driveway. And then later in the morning when I went quietly down to the basement in the off chance that Calliope had gotten stuck there, I heard Lucy say "why is mommy going to the basement?" and Chris said "I don't know. Oh. Oh no. That would not be good" and he raced down after me to see if there was a chicken having a party in our boxes of summer clothes. The bulkhead had been open while musicians came and went, so it wasn't all just self-deceived wishful thinking. Okay, maybe it was.

I think it's official: Calliope is not coming back. Which means it's time for a eulogy.

Calliope, or whatever her name is today, was a good chicken. She ate bugs and laid lovely light turquoise eggs. She came when she was called, especially if you were holding food. She was demure and frank and had a reputation for truthfulness in adversity. She never missed a meal. We will miss our Calliope, and know that the world was a better place while she was here.

Behold, her baby picture.

Even then she was the grand dame of the flock. A cornerstone of society and a pillar of inspiration to those who would follow. Rest in peace, brown chicken.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I have just spent the last half hour looking for a picture of Calliope to go on my Have You Seen This Chicken poster. I have pictures of Penelope, Philanthropy and Cantaloupe, but not Calliope. Is it an omen? She did not come back to the coop when it was time for bed, and I fear the worst.

She has joined the circus.

On one hand, chickens don't lay as many eggs when they're more than a year old and real chicken handlers cull the herd annually. On the other hand, I am not a real chicken handler and am fond of Calliope. Maybe she wandered a little too far and found a nice branch to roost on for the night. A nice high branch. But how far could she have wandered? And tell me again, why did the chicken cross the road?

Oh Calliope, please come home soon. Before I start making fowl play puns.

On a brighter note, my deadline is behind me. I have submitted my investigative piece of journalism in which I go deep undercover and attend a hula hooping class in Provincetown. Oh, the things I do, the places I go. I intended to write a delightful and charming description of it for you, but at this moment I think my head might explode and I really think I should just go to bed. Also, if I go to bed soon, then morning will come faster and Calliope will come home.

If anyone has seen a brown chicken who looks lost, will you please let me know? She doesn't know her name but responds to "who's the prettiest chicken who lays the prettiest eggs, hmmm?"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

dirty drive

There's an old joke about a foul-mouthed parrot who was put in the freezer for a few seconds each time it used obscenities. It was put in for a little longer each time, until one time it came out of the freezer looking nervous and promising never to swear again. When it warmed up a bit it asked, "holy smokes, WHAT DID THAT TURKEY SAY?"

I thought of that joke when I opened the freezer and found a hard drive.

(Sometimes as a last resort crashed hard drives respond to being frozen. Maybe it kills the bugs? I don't know.)


Speaking of uber-geeks, does anyone know any teeny weeny geeklets who would benefit from having a "Future Hacker" t-shirt? It's size 2t and was proudly worn by both Lucy and Studley. Heather grey with white printing, it's remarkably free of stains. Free to good home.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

in which I make the big time

I just go my first token of appreciation from a reader, which has to be some sort of blogging milestone. It is what would be referred to as a mix tape, if it were a tape and not a cd. I like it already because it includes "The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room" by Flight of the Conchords. I'm pretty sure it's not one of those mixes that tells a story, despite this title which is so obviously about me. I'm pretty sure it's not, because some of the other titles are "Even Monkeys Fall From Trees" and "Happy Cows."

I would tell you what it sounds like, but we are back to being unable to play cds in the house and I have to wait for a drive in the car. Ironic, no? Last night we had a band recording downstairs, I was recording an interview on the first floor and there was a jam session going on upstairs. But we can't play cds. We have half a dozen musicians in the house right now - maybe they know these songs and can sing them to me.

So, faithful reader and maker of fine mixes, I thank you. Also, I believe I owe my current fondness for Imogen Heap to you, which came to me via a mutual friend who credited you. And the world goes round.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

what do you mean I have to submit something before you pay me?

You know what's really fun? Writing for a new publication, where at first when you tell interviewees who you're doing the story for you have to explain what it is and show pie charts and stuff. And then after just a few months, you mention who you write for and the person you're talking to Will Not Shut Up because they're all excited that they might be in it. I like that. It makes me all proud inside.

Also? They don't make me write about unicorns, butterflies and puppies all the time. Because I don't always like puppies. I know! She doesn't like puppies! I am inhuman. But I have these personal space issues that puppies don't seem to get. At all. The little ones are okay, but the big ones? The big ones that are capable of slobbering in your hair? Not so much. I am kind of afraid of them the way some people are afraid of babies.

And that is all I have for today because I have a deadline and haven't finished any of my interviews. I figure if it all goes horribly wrong, I'll just make something up.

Hey, maybe you can help! Do you have any hula hooping stories you'd like to share with me? Either kid hula hooping or adult hooping?

Seriously, this is the stuff I write about. Don't tell my boss.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wellfleet OysterFest

According to some of our oyster friends, Sunday was slow at OysterFest. Which makes my head spin right off its hinges.

Because this just does not look slow to me. That's the crowd watching the oyster shucking competition. Wellfleet takes its oyster shucking very seriously - but you knew that since the U.S. Champion Oyster Shucker is from Wellfleet and competed in this very contest last year. He made a cameo appearance on Saturday, but I think he was busy with speaking engagements and maybe an ESPN something or other when we were there on Sunday. You can read more about Chopper here.

That picture is the parking lot of town hall. Food vendors are in the tent you can barely see on the left. I do love those food vendors. Of course there were oysters all over the place ($1.50 ea. or 12/$12), but there were also fish cakes from Terra Luna (again, I must apologize for doing shots of whatever that sauce was. I cannot resist. It rocks in ways I cannot describe), sushi from Mac's, shrimp tempura from WOMR, pizza from the Flying Fish, buttermilk battered oysters from the Wicked Oyster and a whole host of things I could not get because really, enough is enough. Oh, and a cup of coffee from Beanstock coffee roasters because a) it's yummy and b) I couldn't move my fingers from the cold and it was cheaper than the fleece mittens I was eyeing.

This year we had the magical set up. Henceforth I will never attend a festival without lining up a pied a terre in its midst. It is the answer to everything. The photo above was shot by Chris from the roof of his box truck, from which WOMR broadcasted live. They didn't use the inside of the truck, just the outside. Chris had a little studio set up inside with room for us to have lunch and nap. We went out into the throngs for a bit and then retreated through the very high security area to our home away from home. For those of us who don't dig crowds so much, it was heaven.

While Studley napped in the truck, Lucy and I headed back out through the crowd to the slightly less crowded Main Street, which was lined with more oysters and craft booths. There was a kids' activity section behind Preservation Hall, where we could paint pumpkins and string oyster necklaces. Lucy made a particularly lovely necklace.

This year there were a few stand out vendors. Liza Jane Norman makes these skirts that look like lampshades, so whether she liked it or not Lucy had to have one. After all, why have a little girl if you can't dress her in lampshades? Liza also had a fetching pair of pirate pants for Studley. It looks like she's still working on her website, but her home page is cool. Tons of people were wearing her groovy striped legwarmers.

And then there was the hoop booth. They made customized hoops for adults and were demonstrating all the things mere mortals will never be able to do with them.

That's Moya at Flo Hoops. She was unbelievable.

I also met Tessa Morgan of Flying Pig Pottery. I happened upon her studio last year and wrote about it here. And a couple booths down our friends from Narrow Land Pottery had a booth. Hi Marianne! Send me that link about homeless musicians looking for places to stay, okay? We want to make sure we block the site while there's time. We have enough homeless musicians, thank you. Around the corner was Kate from Leave it to Weaver. I go way back with Kate and was even her headless model a couple times. If you look at some of her slides or postcards, that's my chin. I have a very nice chin. We bartered and I scored some awesome scarves, back in the day. You can never have too many Leave it to Weaver scarves.

And I chatted up Andrew Jacob, who I thought was Jacob, not Andrew, but he was nice and let it slide. He was the featured artist in the September issue of C.O.D. It's here if you feel like digging. I was so busy trying to give myself some street cred on C.O.D's dime I didn't actually find out anything about him and probably annoyed him to no end. Social skills come later.

Finally, the town of Wellfleet was super-all-that and let P-town Pedicabs come pedal people around. Liz posted about them here.

And then we slept like reveling oysters. The end.