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

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


In my college philosophy course I vaguely remember the notion that we are just pure consciousness and we ourselves create everything we see, feel and experience. I have absolutely no idea who came up with this. Maybe the "I think therefore I am" dude? I took that course in the spring and we frequently had class outside. I'm pretty sure I was napping in the grass most of the time and although I don't know a Burke from a Descartes I can still feel that spring sun on my back. There is just nothing like that first day when you lie in the grass and soak up the sun like a happy snake.

Where was I?

Right. So I think if the pure consciousness thing is valid then I'm just not all that creative. Or I'm lazy. Because I find the same things repeating. For instance, I set off to college to study audio engineering and then a very long time later I married a sound engineer despite the fact that once I got to college I totally lost interest in doing much more than experimenting with questionable fashion statements. When it comes right down to it, I can't be bothered to make new stuff up. This is also why Chris gets to meet all the famous people I like - my pure consciousness can't think of new famous people for him to meet.

Furthermore, a few posts ago I wrote about eating frogs legs at a friend's house and then my great niece was born on that friend's birthday. I have two friends from elementary school - Pizazz and Cowgirl - whose birthdays and phone numbers I cannot forget, despite the fact that I need to apply simple math to recall my own anniversary. So I emailed Pizazz to wish her a happy birthday and then I went on a bit about her camper.

Through most of our public school years I went on camping trips with her family in their camper. They had the kind that fit onto the back of a pickup truck. We'd lie on the bed over the cab and look out the window above her parents' heads. It was a little claustrophobic up there, but still really cool. I was thinking about her camper because as I was walking through town that day, making a mental note to email a birthday greeting, I ran into another friend who completely out of the blue started talking about campers.

Pizazz and I were friends from fifth grade through graduation. We grew apart for a while - we were so different, there was just hardly anything to talk about. I moved to Europe and she was all Little House on the Prairie. I think she might have had chickens. Now when we talk there's a lot of nodding. We are back to having very similar experiences. I have chickens, her daughter studies violin.

Some people call this synchronicity. In my case I think it's just laziness. It's also luck, because what I didn't include in my version of this created reality was her response:

I also remember throwing up all over Cowgirl one time while riding down a bumpy rode in the back. I went through a period where I threw up on her on a regular basis. Strange that I haven't heard from her since high school....
It's good to be in the right place at the right time.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

hey, hey

When we first had kids, Brighton advised us not to let them watch t.v. until they were at least two. She's a child development person and she knows these things so we did what she said.

At the time I thought it had something to do with how they are growing and learning and whatnot but today I realized that it is so when you really need to use t.v. as a sedative you don't want its impact to be watered down.

Lucy went to the dentist. She watched Dora the Explorer. Her teeth were perfect, but really they could have taken them all out and replaced them with Cabbage Patch dolls and she wouldn't have blinked an eye.

I know before Lucy and Studley start public school I will have to get some flash cards or something and quiz them on all the t.v. characters they've missed out on so they don't get teased for not knowing who the Backyardigans are (who are the Backyardigans, anyway?). Today when the hygienist asked Lucy what she wanted to watch Lucy greeted her with one of her blanker blank stares. Finally she said yes to Dora because she has a Dora suitcase.

Some of our friends think I'm being all holier than thou about the t.v. thing. They too had heard it was a good idea to hold off, but for one reason or another they couldn't. They think I am noble and forthright. Just between you and me, that's not it.

It's because I have whatever is the opposite of an addictive personality. There are a couple shows I like and would watch if I could remember to watch them. I can go for months without turning the television on. In fact, I had to call Chris at work the other day and ask him for technical assistance because all the cables had been used for other things and there was no longer sound coming out of our set.

When I was a kid I tried to be like my friends and get hooked on a soap opera. Instead, I watched reruns of The Monkees. They were on when I was likely to turn on the television and frankly I liked them better than the soaps (except of course for Soap, which I loved).

Now that I think of it, I think my preference for The Monkees greatly shaped my adult life. I like places where Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz would seem at home. I definitely live in more of a Monkee house than a Guiding Light house.

And that is the real reason to not watch television as a child. Because eventually you will grow up and one day your husband will spend an entire day with Michael Nesmith and you will not be there and it will make you throw a temper tantrum the likes of which no one has seen since you were 12.

Time after time Chris gets to meet the people I admired in my childhood while I am stuck at home wearing an apron and fretting about how shiny my floors are. He spent the day with Michael Nesmith. He says he's awesome.

So not watching t.v. now will save Lucy and Studley from future heartbreak and it will give their future spouses less to torment them with. Hey honey, I met the voice of Dora today!

I'm just sure that's what Brighton was on about.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Earth Day

Here are some things not to do at an Earth Day celebration:

Drive 30+ miles to get to said celebration.
Discard a plastic container in a non-designated trash can.
Lie when you sign a pledge with Cape Light Compact.


In my defense, I was also visiting family. Because maybe a SEVENTY MILE ROUND TRIP DRIVE is not the best way to commemorate earth day. Just a thought.

As for throwing away plastic instead of searching for a recycle bin, at least I didn't throw it in a stream. Not only were there no streams handy, but I would have been overtaken by an angry mob. Earth Day revelers are not to be trifled with, oh no they are not. Pacifists they may be, but they will take you down. Furthermore, I know the trash gets sorted, but I am not sure they'd check the stream.

And finally, I didn't mean to lie. The pledge I signed said I would replace a conventional lightbulb with the fluorescent light bulb they gave me, and not just use my new lightbulb as a base for a neato paper maché project. But I can't find any conventional lightbulbs in any of the lights that would take a fluorescent. Fortunately for my pledge, I am notoriously bad at follow through on paper maché projects and will probably just use the new bulb to replace one of our old fluorescents, should they ever burn out.

All of the above travesties took place at a better-late-than-never Earth Day celebration at Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich - a place whose very existence makes you want to take better care of the planet. We spent the whole day there, listening to music, painting rocks, picnicking and learning to make our own household cleaners. Did you know that half a cup of vinegar, dumped in during the final rinse, makes a terrific fabric softener? We also fed a horseshoe crab bits of tuna and watched it eat. Weird, that.

We went inside the windmill and had a lesson on how it worked. And Lucy made a wind gauge out of a photocopied protractor, a ball of brown paper and a piece of string. Her father is so proud.

On the way out people were using sidewalk chalk to write their promises on the road. Lucy wanted to write, so I wracked my brain trying to think of something we could actually do. Righting the wrongs detailed above seemed like cheating, and I wanted something she could finish writing before it got dark. So we picked "turn out lights." And then she drew hearts all over the road.

Happy Earth Day, Earth.


Note: we drive an econobox, recycle at home and have had a Cape Light Compact energy audit. Please don't come after me with torches and pitchforks.

Friday, April 25, 2008

in which I experiment with run on sentences

It's been awfully quiet around here. My new great-niece and her parents are still whooping it up in their posh hospital recovery room. Two of the best days of my life were spent in hospital rooms, so thinking of them there makes me all giddy and extra dorky with happiness. Incidentally, those days were the births of Child A and Child B, not the day I spent in the ER after being run over by a bicycle courier who turned out to be the son of a big time music promoter and who I was sure would turn out to be my best best friend and get me into all the best shows forever and always. It did not turn out that way and so I had to marry myself a sound engineer.

Which reminds me how quiet it's been around here.

Chris was working a show this evening, which meant that the three of us (plus the chickens) were the only ones here for the first time in a really long time. So when Chris called asking if a few musicians could stop by and use the space for rehearsing or recording or playing video games or whatever they do in there I threw myself on the floor and wept "yes! oh yes please! send them over!"

I always think I'm the reserved, introverted type until I'm suddenly in the position of actually being the hermit I thought I wanted to be and then all bets are off. It's that multiple personality thing in action.

I haven't gone to visit the new baby because she's far-ish away and I'm guessing they'd maybe like some peace and quiet before they return to the undying cacophony that is our home. This is a hard call because when I was in my own recovery room I couldn't wait for visitors to start pouring in (with treats and flowers and fuzzy floppy frogs). I could have spent the week there, receiving guests like royalty. I may not be even remotely introverted, come to think of it.

I am telling you all this so I don't have to tell her all this. Because the first thing one does when someone else has a baby is to tell her all about how one's own birth went, as if she* really wouldn't rather be sleeping. It's nobody's fault, really. It's just hard not to get on a roll when the subject comes up. Heather will spend a few days cooing at her new baby and I will make good use of that time telling anyone who will sit still (hello invisible internet friends!) all about my first experiences as a mom.

Hours before I was released from the hospital with Lucy I dripped salad dressing into her eye. I was sure they'd never let me alone with her, ever. As it turned out, there was no surveillance footage of the drip and they went ahead and released me.

Now that I think about it, I had been spilling food on her for 9 months and had the stained maternity shirts to prove it. Old habits are hard to break.

Heather might come home and ask me for helpful hints on things like bathing a new baby. And I will be all Great Auntish and say "yeah, good luck with that." Because how DO you bathe a slippery, squirmy new baby? I used a Swiffer.

*please observe that I replaced "them" and "they" with "her" and "she" because when you are talking about pregnancy there is no need to be all politically correct and refer to those who are expecting as if they are not, as a general rule, always women. Whenever I hear myself refer to Pregnant People I think it sounds like maybe I missed that day in health class - you know, when we found out that men don't give birth.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I feel pretty, oh so pretty

I just got this email:
Prettiest Moms
Once you have been hit, you have to hit 5 pretty Moms. Including the one who thought of YOU today & sent it to YOU...If you get hit again, You will know you are Really pretty! So hit 5 pretty moms on your friends list to let them know they are pretty!*
There was more, of course, about how great it is to be summoned to a bedside five billion times in the same five minute span to tuck me in get me water i love you there's a new fish at school. But really, I couldn't get past the Prettiest Moms part.

Let's review.
  • I am still carrying around some baby weight. Okay, it's not baby weight. I had gotten a little plump before I got pregnant, but I will not admit it out loud to anyone other than the entire world via the internet and for all intents and purposes it is "baby weight."
  • When I try to do my hair I lose all the blood in my arms from holding the blow dryer and am cranky for the next three weeks. So I don't. Instead I have perpetually wet hair, and I need a haircut.
  • I last bought new clothes sometime in the 80's.

I happen to know lots of pretty moms. Not sure how this can be, as they really should be looking more bedraggled. It's only fair. The one who sent this to me is unbelievable. Not only is she a size zero, but when you look at her wedding pictures you think, but wait, you're Even Prettier now. It's not right, I tell you.

So then, in a flash of shallowness I checked the list to see who else she sent the email to. Pretty, pretty, pretty, and pretty. It's absurd to be in such company.

Let's review some more.
  • I have not had cosmetic surgery of any kind. Heck, I haven't even had my brows waxed in ages.
  • I was going to have a luxurious soak tonight but when the kids had their bath Studley pooped in the tub. Instead of bathing I'll be boiling my bathtub in bleach and then setting fire to it.
So I'm puzzled. Maybe it's not about liposuction, salon highlights and wondrous exfoliating products. Maybe loving someone more than you love yourself actually makes you more radiant.


Because if maintaining one's grace while being barfed on is the gold standard for beauty, I'm freaking stunning.

*the assumption is that if you are pretty you do not know how to punctuate. Also, I do not think they mean hit in the "strike with force" sense, much as one sometimes wants to.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


It's my new title! My wish for my brandy spandy new great-niece is that she comes to believe that the "great" in my brandy spandy new name is an adjective, not a proclamation of my advanced age. In fact, I'm partial to "my totally great aunt Susan." Because she is totally great herself and I can hardly wait to meet her.

Welcome to the world, little one. Come home soon!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

journaling - possibly in the "actualizing the impossible" sense

Today I started a garden journal. I kept it simple - date, species, location - which of course does not begin to tell the story. Yes I know, for some gardeners it probably does tell the whole story. After all, you put seeds in dirt and water them. What's the big deal?

The trouble started when I was informed I should split my tomato seedlings. Tiny, precious, seedlings, no taller than my thumbnail, and I'm supposed to uproot and replant them? It was as if someone said, "due with twins? We should split them up and have the father deliver one."

I dutifully went to work last night, sliding a butter knife between the sprouts and lifting one out for relocation. I hadn't trusted the tomato seeds to actually sprout, so in some cases there were five or six seedlings jammed together. These require tweezers.

And then I watched. I watched as some of the seedlings drooped. I gave them more water, a little pep talk and some extra dirt. Some perked up, and then different ones started to droop. I think they're messing with me. Meanwhile, I planted more stuff - basil, jalapenos, and some other things I've forgotten. There's now an army of peat pots in my livingroom, encamped on a folding conference table in the south window. It looks very industrious indeed.

Also in the gardening journal I noted the locations of a new astilbe, some poppies and a lily called "Miss Lucy." They were all gifts and boy oh boy do I hope they come up. They were those little bundles of roots and dirt that you're supposed to bury and then try to remember where they are so you don't plant something else there. I just typed "astilbe" into my google toolbar to make sure I was spelling it right, and came up with "astilbe planting instructions." Needless to say, those instructions are not how I did it. Wish it luck.

I also planted 4 strawberry plants in a big pot. There are essentially eight strawberry leaves bespeckling a 24" diameter pot. Wishful thinking?

Now as I do all this, I keep thinking do cicadas like strawberries/tomatoes/sunflowers/Miss Lucy? Because we are scheduled for routine cicada maintenance this year, also known as A PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS if you're feeling biblical. Golly, has it already been 17 years since they last visited? How time flies. I don't know when they're hatching, but I'll be reporting from inside my bug netting. I will also wrap my entire garden, the chickens and my children in bug netting. You can't be too careful.

So at least I have my garden journal to go back to 17 years from now - in case I can't remember what cicadas were partial to. Hopefully it will not read "ate everything but the peat pots."

Friday, April 18, 2008

chickens gone wild

It's true, I haven't mentioned the chickens in a really long time. It is not, however, because I finally realized that no one wants to hear about chickens. It's because I was sure they were dead chickens walking.

In case you missed the first forty or so posts in which I detailed how I don't know the first thing about raising chickens, I don't know the first thing about raising chickens. So when I noticed that two of them suddenly had no feathers on their bottoms, I was pretty sure it was leprosy.

And because I don't know the first thing about chickens (or leprosy, apparently), I didn't know what to do. I considered the emergency room, but I couldn't figure out how to get them there. I could see getting one into the waiting room safely. Two, no way. Have you seen how they flap and scurry? What a scene.

And the vet is right straight out. I spend my days trying to keep dogs AWAY from the girls - you think I'm going to walk into a vet's office with two nice plump chickens under my arms?

I thought about asking my friend who does know a thing or two about chickens, but the last time I asked her a question like this her answer involved a hatchet, a rake and a stump.

So I kept an eye on them. They seemed cheerful and, well, chicken-like. They did not seem at all bothered. There were no signs of plague, parasites or paranormalities. But then a third chicken lost all the feathers on her bottom and I figured something needed to be done.

So I asked who I always ask when I want the answer I want. I asked Google. I typed in a question involving naked chicken bums, being careful to phrase it in such a way as to avoid pages of porn.

Et voila, they are molting. Just as I was thinking I'd set them loose in the cranberry bog and wish them luck, it turns out they are living normal, healthy chicken lives. Actually, they are not living normal chicken lives. They are living how-did-we-ever-deserve-this chicken lives. I mean that in a good way.

Today, for the first time in weeks, there are signs of feathers on their bums. They are little tufts, like the tip of the flower coming out of the magic wand. I wonder if they one day simply bloom. Featherless one minute, fluffy the next. Featherless - fluffy - featherless - fluffy. Like that Velvet doll with retractable hair.

So if you're sitting there thinking this is way more information than I ever wanted, believe me, I feel your pain. This time last year I was a normal person, buying eggs in nice plastic boxes. This year, I am a crazed agrarian checking the surface of a chicken's bum and then posting my findings. What has become of me.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


A week and a half ago I got an email from Heather. Yes, she lives here. Yes, we communicate by email. The email in question said, in essence, "we decided to get married next weekend, here at the house. You around?"

Heather is our niece on Chris' side of the family. Our families are different, Chris' and mine. Our wedding was the least formal in the history of my side of the family - and it still involved months of planning. The fact that I was doing it in less than a year was cause for panic. If I had done it in a week, half my family would have been standing there breathing into paper bags.

Rumor has it that the differences between us was the source of some dinner party chit chat recently. Our friends were saying how difficult it was to picture the two of us together at first. I rock the Marian the Librarian look and Chris is known for his ability to wear the same sweatshirt for a week - inside out every other day.

But I'm really not half as uptight as I look and I thought being invited to a wedding with a week's notice was perfectly dreamy. As was the wedding. Chris' sister bought the entire Boston Flower Market and festooned the house with white flowers. She also festooned Lucy with flowers - making her a daisy halo and giving her a basket of white johnny jump-ups to carry. In fact, although we have many, many pictures of the wedding, there are precious few of the bride and groom. We were fairly besotted with Lucy as flower girl. Our pictures will make a fine slide show: There's Lucy standing with the bride, there's Lucy eating cake, there's another one of Lucy eating cake, oh that one's the bride and groom with the groom's parents - where'd that one come from?

It seems like just yesterday that Heather invited us downstairs for pie and asked us if Scott could move in. Because it was Scott, we were sold easily on the idea, but pretended to deliberate long enough to score more pie.

And then one day I was out tying tulle ribbons into the trees and Heather wandered out and asked if it was okay to drink coffee when one is pregnant.

And shortly after that a ring appeared, followed by a carseat, a changing table and a big box of diapers.

Soon, they will be driving up our driveway with a small person in that carseat. They are like a time-lapse photography version of a nuclear family.

So here's to deciding to be a family. Here's to the couples who balance each other, and to the couples who match each other. It's all good. It's all family.

Monday, April 14, 2008

of squirrels and lost beads

"We're not the regular kind of people who eat squirrels," said the man I was chatting with at last weekend's party.

In the words of our host, who happened to be walking by just then: Now there's a sentence you don't hear every day.

I am not sure what a regular squirrel-eating person is like. But a non-regular squirrel-eating person is one whose family is private school educated and has executive level positions in cities not generally associated with the eating of squirrels. I am more interested in how you would recognize squirrel in someone's lunchbox. He says it's usually fried, like chicken. You know, a little cold fried squirrel. I imagine it is recognizable as squirrel in the same way quail is recognizable as quail.

Once in Vail I went to lunch with my mother and ordered the quail salad. When it arrived it looked like Tweety Bird had flown too close to the crème brûlée torch and landed on my salad. "I am not sure I can eat this," I said to my mom. The waiter was prepared for this eventuality and whisked it back to the kitchen for deboning.

I was not much more successful with frogs legs, which I had at my friend's house when we were in elementary school. Frogs legs look distinctly like frogs legs and we demonstrated this fact by having them do the can-can. I don't recall if they tasted like chicken, but I do know that spoon kicks were tricky. I also know my friend's mother either is a saint or has an evil sense of humor. I suspect both.

I was thinking of that friend and her mother today as I was driving Lucy and her friend Giselle around. News flash: the people in the front seat can hear what the people in the back seat are saying. I recalled youthful car rides as if they happened yesterday - car rides in which we detailed deeply personal and dorky things. I was sure her parents couldn't hear us.

I was so caught up in my reliving of Great Embarrassing Moments in Teenage History that I almost missed this gem: "I put a bead up my nose and it's still there. My mom doesn't know." Sadly, it is not said by Giselle.

My glee at discovering a simple, painless and legal way to find out what's going on in my child's life is eclipsed by the knowledge that I may have to let her know I heard her. And then I'm sad that she has things she can't tell me about. And then I fret that she may - if not now then sometime - lie to me.

I'm not sure how to handle the last two concerns, but I did discover that waiting until we got home and then nonchalantly saying something like "hey, is there something shiny up your nose?" works like a charm with a 5 year old. After all, moms know everything.

Eventually. Moms know everything eventually. Because it's been up there for A Couple Of Days. She is not sure what it is or how it got there but yes, there's probably something shiny up there - thank you so much for asking. So I do what any modern mother does in a situation like this does. I google "how to get a bead out of child's nose." There are a few suggestions, none of which worked completely and some of which were more disgusting than others. I won't detail the path to our success but it included blowing bubbles in the tub out the bejeweled nostril with a finale involving a pointy object and a flashlight.

And as I was finally getting it out, she was saying "hey, I think the blue pearlized pressed Czech glass bead that I took off my bracelet and then put up my nose is coming out."

So maybe that's the answer to my new "she won't talk to me" neurosis. Pull something out of someone's nose without judgment or censure and there's no telling what else you might get. Do not try this at work.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

into the woods

In case you have not already left for your own Kripalu retreat, let me tell you a bit more about my adventure. It's okay if you have already left - they have wifi there, so you can still read along. You can sit in the cafe and read my version of Kripalu as you're experiencing your own version of Kripalu and it will be like deja vu except it will be happening at the same time.

One of the things I wanted to do there (besides be able to tell people I went to Kripalu when I got back) was explore. Going to the Berkshires and not taking a hike is just plain silly.

Here's how it goes. I pick up a map at the front desk, follow directions (not my forte) and find myself walking through someone's yard. I double back to the sign I missed, and head up through the orchard. Before I am all the way through the orchard I am panting and wheezing and thinking it must be because I am above sea level for a change (elev. 1,200). But no, it's because I have bundled up as though getting lost and spending the night in the woods is a very real possibility. Going back for a wardrobe change is entirely too much work, so I march on.

Once I'm in the woods it's a little cooler - there are even a few patches of snow. This is why people sign up for "pole hikes." They hike with poles so they can walk safely across the snowy bits, as well as navigating mud holes and patches of wet leaves which hide more mud holes. I have no poles.

Soon I encounter the aforementioned pole hikers. I figure I should give them some space so I keep heading up the road I'm on, figuring it's the outer path noted on my map and it will make a larger loop. I'm game for a larger loop. So I hop over rivulets and keep my eye on the sun as it creeps higher in the sky. I can't tell where I am by where the sun is, but I do know that if it gets too high I will miss lunch. I was a Girl Scout and I know these things.

It looks like I have plenty of time, so I keep walking. And as I'm walking I recall that the map described this trail as "challenging" and I realize, using my keen Girl Scout navigation senses, that I will have to cross a creek twice in the course of my trek and can't help but wonder if by "challenging" they mean "must swim." I am not dressed for swimming, and decide it's a good idea to turn around.

Because it is just me and there are no children weighing my every move, I don't have to explain this to anyone. At home, Lucy always knows where I am. She has that "there's a disturbance in the force" thing when I move more than 10 feet away from her, and she comes to find me. But now, not even Lucy knows where I am.

I start to wonder if this is a good idea. After all, I could be kidnapped right off this trail by some over-educated liberal living off the grid in the wilds of the Berkshires, where he telecommutes via the Pringles can transponder on his roof. True, it would be fun for a bit but I'd miss my family - my family who would have no idea I was eating rabbit and wild mushrooms until I failed to show up on Tuesday night.

I suppose I could maybe call them on my cell phone. Is there a new Girl Scout badge with a cell phone on it?

I keep taking a bit of one trail, doubling back and setting off in a new direction until I am satisfied that what I have done qualifies as a hike by normal standards. If I had a gps unit on me and my trajectory were traced on a map, it would be an asterisk.

Which is all my way of saying "if you go, take the pole hike."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Do I look more radiant? Did you notice a certain something different about me?

Me either.

I just got back from a 48 hour trip to Kripalu. I took 5 yoga classes and ate heaps of delicious, nutritious vegetarian fare. I am sure I must be slimmer, sturdier and more yogic than I was on Sunday morning. It is perhaps only a change one can see with the third eye.

Here's what happened. When Patty (Larkin) asked Chris if he would go on tour with her, he did what any husband with a grain of self-preservation would do: he told her he'd ask his wife. And when he asked me I said it would be fine as long as I could get away for a bit of "me" time. I suggested Paris. He reminded me he'd only be gone for 4 days. I countered with two nights at Kripalu. A deal was struck.

I took my knitting and The Red Tent (more Kripalu friendly than Shopaholic Gets Married), and drove off for a couple days of yoga and napping.

Chris said it was lonely in those posh hotels and he missed his family. "That's sweet," I said. That's crazy, I thought. He was pretty sure I'd be homesick by Sunday night.

He'd probably be right except for all that food.

After each class I sprinted for the dining hall with the last bit of energy I reserved just for this purpose. So giddy at the prospect of eating food that someone else made I was not even worried about having to sit with strangers. I am (despite the fact that I am broadcasting my life on the internet) pitifully shy and disinclined to dine with strangers. But as you may have noticed, if there's something I can talk to strangers about, it's food.

At lunch, a woman sat next to me and placed a crucifix the size of a folded dinner napkin between us. I like to think that she always places it next to her spoon, and it was not a talisman to protect her specifically from me. I couldn't help but wonder how the crucifix fit into a place bestrewn with eastern gods. She sees my rings and observes that I'm married. She peered at me more closely and said "you're not wearing a cross. Are you Catholic?" Besides my rings, I didn't take anything that gave a clue to who I am. Despite missing my noodle necklaces and rock star t-shirts, it's undeniably refreshing to travel incognito.

It's especially good to travel incognito when one is humiliating oneself in yoga. For my last hoorah I went to a Vinyasa Flow class - reputed to be the double black diamond of yoga classes. It was exhilarating in its impossibleness. This is where all the people went who really knew how to do yoga - you know, magazine cover yoga. When I see posters with someone doing a crazy balance thing on the edge of a cliff I smile and nod in the same way I smile and nod when Peter Pan flies across the stage. Yes, it's thrilling, but it's OBVIOUSLY ALL DONE WITH WIRES. Except that apparently it's not done with wires.

It was also my favorite class because the music was better - some jazz and even a John Lee Hooker remix . There's only so much wind chime & pan flute this Revolved Bound Half Pigeon can take.

Q: What's more difficult than Vigorous Vinyasa Flow?
A: Trying to stand after a three hour car ride, shortly after a Vigorous Vinyasa Flow.

It's good to be home.

(People actually did this pose in my class. I'll practice for next time.)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

chirps and peeps

Someone, somewhere in our neighborhood just alarmed their car. I can't tell you how funny that is. It would be like watching the Amish farmer alarm his cart - or hearing that little chirp in the opening credits of the Andy Griffith Show. Yes, I live in Mayberry.

And in other chirping news: while I haven't heard them here at the house yet, I passed a pod of peepers on my way home the other evening and they were peeping their little hearts out. I'm not sure I've ever seen one, unless that's what I was forever trying not to step on at my first cottage in Eastham. Tiny frogs hopping every which way, like a bag of marbles dropped on a tile floor.

Here's the article that goes with that picture (Peepers' Song: A Sure Sign of Spring, by Rich Eldred in the Cape Codder).

Friday, April 4, 2008

Sandwich, no pun intended

Yesterday I took a drive to Sandwich. After all, who can resist a town called Sandwich?

Before I did any real sightseeing I needed a couple new books - one to listen to in the car and another for the couch - so I hit the Sandwich library. I picked out The Red Tent (book) and The World is Flat (cd) and headed to the circulation desk. I happened to have a large fistful of cash ready, since I am a repeat offender and owe a pile of fines. With my free hand I dug out my CLAMS library card (Cape Library Automated Materials Sharing - clams. Clever). Imagine my surprise when the librarian said they don't take the CLAMS card in Sandwich. I mean, yes it's far from my bit of the Cape, but it is on this side of the bridge so what's the problem? I am suddenly desperate to read/listen to these two books. I may have made a gesture that implied "well that may be, but you're not getting these books back."

And then she said, "we're not part of CLAMS (I just like typing that), but you can get a card here if you'd like." Just like that? I don't have to show my car title or anything? I can't believe my good fortune. So I give her my license and she gives me a card. And my books. And I get to keep my fistful of cash because she has absolutely no record of my shameful behavior.

All this made me very hungry, so I set off to find lunch. I went across the street and down a bit to The Brown Jug, which I've been meaning to explore for ages.

The Brown Jug is a gourmet market which also has ready-made sandwiches and homemade soups. When I picked out my sandwich a very nice woman said "here, let me take that for you," as if it were a brightly flowered sundress I wanted to try on, and disappeared into the other room. So I looked around at all the gourmet goodies, made several mental notes, helped myself to a cup of coffee, parted with my fist of cash, and went in search of my sandwich.

She had cut it in half, still in the paper, and set it on a paper plate at a sunny table (now don't start freaking out about my pesto chicken wrap being in the sun - I ate it before anything bad happened). I sat in my little spot of sun, reading my new book and eating my lunch. Oh, and feeling a little guilty because I am so very fond of Paul's Bean and Bagel down the street. I was having an affair with another lunch spot.

I'd say it won't happen again, but while I was there I noticed a couple sitting outside on a little terrace and believe you me, when it gets a little warmer I will be one of those people. There is practically nothing better than outdoor seating - especially when the weather has just started acting hospitable.

So now I am the proud owner of a Sandwich Library Card (I am weirdly and inexplicably excited about this. It's like having duel citizenship). And I have a new place to buy silly pantry items because they came from France.

Really, who has time for things like the Sandwich Glass Museum, Heritage Gardens or the boardwalk when there's a library card to be issued?

Thursday, April 3, 2008


On Wednesday I was in Wellfleet looking for a cup of coffee, and instead found tumbleweeds blowing through the empty streets. Not actual tumbleweeds, but it sure felt like it. It was quiet and deserted - shades drawn, doors closed - like a turtle patiently waiting for whatever's poking at it to give up.

I passed a truck with a bumper sticker that said, essentially, "don't bug me, I'm a local." Those stickers have always sort of bothered me. We're all local somewhere, and we should probably try not to bug each other - no matter where we are.

And then as the day unfolded I thought about how those people who are scrappy and combative are also the ones who are protective and loyal. It's like a great big family, these locals. Sometimes they're showing the scars from a thrown can of peas, other times they're helping each other to stand.

I am not part of that family, but I have loved and admired many of its members. I listen to and love the stories people tell as they reminisce about someone who's passed. Theirs is a rich and intricately woven culture. So many are inextricably tied by bonds of family and friendship and sheer history - their stories will just keep getting brighter.

Here's to the locals of Wellfleet. Bless your hearts.

If you've come looking for Caleb's family, go say hello to Sharyn.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

airports I have known

Yesterday I was talking to Stella about the Provincetown airport. "They really fixed it up," she said. "it used to be so quirky."

I have no idea what to say. Used to be quirky?

I went to the Provincetown airport for the first time the other day. I'd never been there before because we generally fly out of Providence or Boston. Once or twice I've flown into the Hyannis airport and I've been to the Chatham airport because they serve breakfast there. But Provincetown? Never.

To get to it, you drive into Cape Cod National Seashore. The airport is in the midst of a National Park. You drive through sand dunes and scrub pines, passing signs for Beech Forest and Race Point. I was pretty sure I was on the wrong road most of the time, but didn't actually care because I spend entirely too little time driving through the National Seashore. I realized I was on the right road about the time I saw the airport sign glide past my window. I missed the turn because the sun was in my eyes - a funny thing since I thought I was driving east. I always think of driving east east east down the cape, but then it curls around and there you are, staring into the sun at the end of the day.

I turned around where the road splits - I think you go right for photo op 1 and left for photo op 2. If you want a lighthouse in your photo, go right.

Because I was totally Sunday driving through the park with top speeds of 20 mph, I was a teeny bit late. But that's okay because the parking lot fits about 50 cars and even if I had parked in the farthest space it would take under two minutes to get inside. I didn't park in the last space because the other two cars meeting the other two arriving passengers had pulled up to the curb. So I did too.

If you're handy with cartwheels, you could do three cartwheels between the front door and the gate. The fourth cartwheel would land you in the middle of the tarmac. There clearly is no room for a breakfast restaurant here, although there is a toy corner in the waiting nook.

As we sorted out the baggage issue (bags too big, plane too small, bags coming by fishing vessel?) someone comes and tells the man at the counter "I put the plane away." He says it in a way that makes me think he brushed it down, offered it some carrots and then put the seat cushion flotation devices away in the tack room.

I wish I had been on that plane instead of just meeting it. I would love to see the view as they landed in the middle of the park. I'd love to be one of the people coming and going and calling this airport home. I wish they served breakfast.