Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I wanted to send a care package but didn't want to be that aunt who sends all the wrong things. I remember being 18 and thinking "a CHECK, woman! What is so freaking hard about a CHECK?" So my nephew pointed things out that she likes and I tossed them into the cart. Turns out they were all things I like but try not to buy because I am not a teenager and do not want to have our contractor friend make my doorways bow out in the middle to accommodate my girth, as his wife gamely suggested.
I got all the stuff home, put it in its own little bag and shook my boney finger at the rest of the family. "Do not eat! No! Bad! Down!" And so it was safe until I found a box to put it in. I was not in a rush because she's there all summer and I know she just got a care package from my sister. Always trying to outdo me, that one. Always wants her daughter to love HER just a little more than she loves ME.
A couple weeks later, I have the box but it is still empty. It is still empty because there is now a BEAR at camp and we are not allowed to send food to campers. For some reason they think it's a bad idea for the kids to keep food in their cabins. Meanwhile my nephew has joined his sister and now both of these sweet children are cohabitating with a bear. I am not within range to tell that bear a thing or two and am feeling mightily helpless.
I occasionally seek solace in my niece's package of truffles. And then I move on to the chocolate covered pretzels. I kind of love bears right now.
Monday, July 28, 2008
We've decided it will keep us all more sane if we use the downstairs kitchen instead of cleaning and stocking two kitchens - ours (up), and my mother-in-law's (down). As usual, this is the royal "we," but it does seem as though everyone is on board. Bearing that in mind, WE stomped our not so tiny feet and demanded a more pleasant atmosphere in the downstairs kitchen before WE would deign to put our handpainted pottery on its shelves. We may have tossed our hair and stood with our backs to the offending cabinets, stony-faced.
We (Chris) got an estimate for ripping out everything (including a wall) and replacing everything with shiny! new! appliances, cabinetry, floors and hopefully a new lemon zester as I have lost mine. And when I came home that day, I found him on the couch breathing into a paper bag.
Which was actually good because suddenly it had occurred to me that it would perhaps not be so easy for a blind person (such as my mother-in-law) to find her way around the kitchen once we had put the sink where the stove is and an alligator pit where the refrigerator used to be. She does quite well finding what she needs now. Can you imagine if we arbitrarily shifted the contents of all the drawers? Diabolical.
So after days of kitchen planning (thanks, IKEA!), Chris and I both came to the conclusion that it was not to be.
Or is it? Today Chris called me and told me he has someone lined up to put in a new floor and all I need to do is pick out tile/linoleum. I mention this to a friend, who tells me about Marmoleum. I find a place that sells Marmoleum, go look at samples, and promptly get so excited I can barely speak. Chris, on the other hand, is still not convinced. This leads me to believe that a total kitchen redo would have landed us all in the loony bin.
In other words, my kitchen asked me to marry it, but didn't give me a ring and won't commit to a date. It did, however, suggest we live together first and see how it goes. I think there's hope.
Friday, July 25, 2008
That's when I noticed traffic was backed up and stopped from every direction, which was bad. It wasn't bad because it would make me late for my appointment. It was bad because that's the way I planned to travel with the kids in a couple hours to go to the Barnstable County Fair. And the fact that it was backed up meant that there were lots of people thinking about getting a good seat for Village People even before I was - which is unthinkable because I never think about doing anything in advance and here I was, thinking. Traffic did thin out after the rotary, but still, it made me nervous.
So after the appointment I skidded back into the play date driveway yelling "gotta go!" And then I piled kids into the car and careened over the canal yet a fourth time. We hit very little traffic and arrived at the fairgrounds a full.... oh dear will you look at the time..... FOUR HOURS before the show.
This show, mind you, was something I was only marginally interested in. As a novelty. At least that's what I was telling myself all week as I made plans to go. I'll just go see how bad it is. How to explain getting there so early? No idea.
Fortunately there was plenty to keep us busy. I picked up some flyers on how to raise llamas, sheep and goats so I could leave them around the house and frighten Chris. And there were rides, oh lord have mercy were there rides.
Here's a bit of whateverness for you. Lucy, who will not say boo to a goose and won't let me read Raggedy Ann because it's too scary, is a total thrill seeker. She will go on any ride they will let her on. Always has. Studley, the gregarious one, is not. He went on the rides, but only because Lucy was going and he figured they may just as well die together. We spent $45 on rides. And then we went in search of food and figured we'd have a picnic on the lawn where the concert was going to be.
We rounded the corner with our armloads of fried goodness and low and behold, the lawn was packed. Packed! People Actually Want to See Village People! On purpose! We negotiated two and a half square feet and had our picnic. Lucy asked for ice cream and I told her we were just going to listen to a few songs and then go, to which about six people around us nodded agreement. "We're so out of here," they said.
And then Village People appeared and I totally lost my mind. I'm here to tell you, they look good from a distance. Let us not forget that they were a boy band in the seventies, so I wouldn't get to close, but dang, they can dance. And ridicule themselves. I like a band that can ridicule itself. I like pretty much anything that ridicules itself. It saves me so much time and effort.
Where was I? Oh right, singing the four words I know to the songs I recognized. Let's see, there's Macho Man, In the Navy, Go West and of course, YMCA. They were a bit before my time, so I can't be expected to know all of them. They did not insist on playing new horrible material, implying that they were currently relevant, thank goodness. Just play that disco beat and keep lip synching, please.
For their finale they gave us a tutorial on the YMCA thing. It's the M that gives people difficulty. The M should be made in front of the chest, not over the head. They will stop the song if you do it wrong.
Yes, we stayed for the last song. Mostly. We were sort of walking out of the fairgrounds during YMCA but only because someone needed to go to the potty and it wasn't the one singing along. CAN SHE NOT HOLD IT FOUR MINUTES? Five year olds these days. You just can't take them to a concert featuring Who are the People in your Neighborhood Strippers like you used to.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
And then I will eat the free food.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
So swimmingly, in fact, that Lindsay just tagged me for a meme.
This meme respectfully requests six random things about me. When I saw it I thought who better to list 6 random yet poignant things about me than my sister? But she only checks her email fortnightly, so I asked a few friends as back-up (because I am too lazy to think of things myself):
Fred says I am unable to write the Declaration of Independence on the head of a pin. What he may not know is that I can sing the Preamble to the US Constitution at the drop of a hat.
Jennifer says I have an inordinate amount of patience, which is proof that my internal volume control is working. She also called me a white witch. Is this good? Is that like Glenda? I had a dream once in which I had to decide between being a good witch or a bad witch. I chose to be a good witch because I liked the clothes better and because the housing had cooler lighting.
Liz says I have an overwhelming weakness for certain ceramics and I read Proust. The most Proust I've read lately is his name, here in this post. But the nice thing about reading Proust is that once you have done so, you are thereafter known as someone who reads Proust. Which is very snottily fabulous.
Paisley Trebuchet says that I want to write something scandalous under the pen name of Paisley Trebuchet. She adds that I have plans to start a band called The Persnicketies, in which I will play the zither. She is also quick to point out that I don't know that many real live flesh and blood people.
Wait! What's this?! My sister checked her email! Her random fact is that I have an awesome sister.
So now, tag, you're it. Will the following bloggers please post 6 random facts about themselves:
- Valet Confidential
- North Orchard
- me and one small blue heeler - It will require great creativity to work this into her blog on building an eco-friendly kit house, but she's the most creative person I know.
- Three other people who feel like doing this.
Link to the person who tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Write six random things about yourself.
Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
Let your tagger know when your blog entry is up.
late breaking news - my nephew says I can pull some pretty sick moves to the song "Conga"
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Some of these she refers to as "exotic invasives." She also sometimes refers to other things as exotic invasives, such as the wrens who live all over the freaking place. Apparently they're not native to North America. They were imported as decoration.* Now that they're here, they have a tendency to take over some other bird's nest, such as a native chickadee, and the next thing you know it's Hotel Rwanda out there in the chickadee world.
I like saying "exotic invasives." It makes me sound all smart and stuff. So you can imagine my delight when I looked around the grocery store this evening and identified 90% of the shoppers as exotic invasives. First of all, if you live in a resort area and you go to the grocery store at 5pm on change-over day, please dope-slap yourself for me. Really, no one should be as stupid as I am.
I would have noticed my faux pas at the time, but I was too busy pointing at all the out of state license plates and saying "exotic invasive, exotic invasive, exotic invasive. You over there? Exotic invasive." I find myself side-splittingly funny sometimes. And then I launched into this whole internal monologue about why tourists should be refered to as such. After all, we invite them here, importing them on tour buses and giving them houseroom, and the next thing you know they're all over the place.
Next it occurs to me that in order to be truly invasive you have to stay. You have to move in, put down roots and send up little shoots who will soon need desk space at the local elementary school. Most tourists don't do that. They are simply exotic.
Me? I'm invasive. I've been here since the early '90s which in absolutely no way makes me a native. To be honest, I've never thought of myself as exotic before so I'd probably pick that over native anyway. Either way, here I am putting down roots, sending up shoots. My garden is probably not thriving because I keep planting non-native vegetables (except obviously for those tomatoes, holy cow).
And speaking of my garden, we harvested our first eggplant yesterday. Lucy was inordinately excited at the news. I know she likes eggplant but honestly, she was a little ridiculous about it. "An Eggplant! An Eggplant!" she sang. "MISS GREENJEANS DOESN'T HAVE AN EGGPLANT!"
*I'm not even checking my spelling on these fun facts, so don't quote me.
Friday, July 18, 2008
We (that's the royal we) have been half-heartedly potty-training Studley. I potty-trained one child and I think that should be enough, no? But it seems Studley needs some sort of guidance and I am trying to step up and fulfill my duties (no pun intended). Lucy is helping me - which is sort of weird and gross but whatever.
So today he is running back and forth through the house - heading to the potty every five minutes or so. I figure it's like hockey - if he gets enough shots on goal, something's got to go in. I then remember bribing Lucy with blueberries and I say, "boys who poop in the potty get a popsicle!"
Have I lost you with all the poop talk yet? There's more.
Lucy says "I think he should have a popsicle anyway." We are all standing in the bathroom, which is small so we're shoulder to shoulder. This is somehow NORMAL. "Studley," Lucy continues, "if you poop in the potty you get to go play mini-golf." I am aghast. And then I am glad it wasn't a ski trip.
I am not sure if she realized it before she suggested it, or after she thought about how it's illegal to leave a 5 year old home alone while you take her little brother on a poop-reward golfing trip, but it did at some point dawn on Lucy that if Studley pooped then she could go golfing. She loves mini-golf.
If you drove past my house this evening, you must have noticed the parade: half-naked little boy wandering around the garden, followed by an attentive little girl carrying a potty.
Hello internet, this is my life.
I shall not go into details about how it all went down (again with the puns), but it did. And so we all got dressed to go golfing. Studley picked out his Thomas the Train underoos and looked Very Grown Up. "Oh Studley you look So Grown Up," gushes Lucy. "You are Such A Good Boy!" She rocks this stuff, man.
So we go mini-golfing and on the fourth hole, he wets his pants.
Now I am torn. Do I go to the trainwreck that is the Village People or the car wreck that is the Demolition Derby (Wednesday)?
Oh wait, a two day pass is $17 and kids are free (free is relative since we will be burning up armloads of ride tickets). So now the question is, who wants to go?
Brighton, the woman who bought packaged lunch meats BECAUSE they have more preservatives, the woman who relentlessly mocked me for considering rice and beans a meal, the woman who has never heard of half the stuff in my pantry, just bought flax seed meal. I told her what she could do with it - and by that I mean sprinkling it on stuff and adding it to other stuff, not, you know, something else.
And all I can say is, if Oprah can get Brighton to eat flax seed meal, why are we not using her on some super secret diplomatic mission?
Another thing someone recently spotted on Oprah was a bit about how we should all do at least one fun thing every day. I could not agree more. I am the one who's brought you several posts on bumper boats, after all. And so you might say "oh sure, YOU can do fun things every day. YOU have small kids."
And if you just said that, I hope you followed it up with "good heavens, I can't believe I just said that." Because quite honestly, people who have small kids are maybe not having so much fun. They are holding on to a scrap of sanity and keeping their eye on the prize (bedtime).
What I think is interesting is how easy it is to figure someone else has it easier. I do this to my mom all the time. She'll mention that I'd maybe like to do something that she herself doesn't have time for and I respond with "What? YOU ARE RETIRED."
It's true, most of the fun things I do are with my kids: bumper boats, plays, pool parties. Strike that last one. At pool parties I spend the entire time making sure they're not drowning and I get home, wonder why I'm starving and think oh right, forgot to eat. or breathe. or chat with another human being.
So I do some fun things and some not fun things and I never really know which it is I'm doing until about midway through and I realize it is fun (or not. Really, really not). Which I guess means I should plan on doing a whole bunch of things during the course of the day, just to be on the safe side.
Which brings me to my latest life mission. The other day when I was feeling reasonably on top of the world a total stranger looked at me and said "wow, you look beat." And I whacked him with my handbag. Seriously, who says something like that?
But I think it was exactly what I needed to hear. I think sometimes I feel like I'm expected to look tired. And so I do. I get this aura of "don't worry about me, I'll be fine. I'll just carry these 75 pounds of groceries myself" when really I'm just bringing in the milk. What's with that? There's this cultural thing that makes us feel like we're not contributing enough if we're not completely wrecked at the end of the day. So if we feel like we're contributing, we must be wrecked. Right?
And I kind of think that this having fun thing may somehow be involved. If I intentionally do something fun, it will give my day some perspective. It will make it less workey.
Any suggestions? Because right now I'm a little wrecked.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
And then I did the meta-interview, in which all heck broke loose.
But that is neither here nor there. Lindsay's awesome and is a writer in real life so her blog posts are always time well spent. Enjoy!
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Well I didn't, and here's the deal. Two lovely people made dinner for me and three other women, all the while explaining what they were doing and what that brown gloppy stuff was. And then we all sat down to dinner, at which point the hostess turned to me and said "so Susan, how long have you been vegan?" And I was so sad because I was starving and the food looked delicious and I thought for sure I was going to be asked to leave.
So I kept my mouth too full to answer questions politely.
Really, I took the class in the same spirit I would take an Italian cooking class or a sushi class. I wanted to know what some of the ingredients were and how to use them. I needed some new recipes. And I wanted a night off. Okay there, I've said it. I don't give two hoots about going macrobiotic I just wanted a few hours of relative peace. Is it so much to ask?
And then the very next day my nephew arrived and I sort of forgot about everything. On the way home from the airport he plugged his iPod into my car stereo and made me listen to the original Broadway cast sing "All Shook Up." He prefaced this action by saying, "I know how you hate musical theater, but...." And as we were driving I realized that not only were we listening to a Broadway soundtrack but oh for the love of all things holy, it was looping. Which made me think, if you can make me listen to musicals, I can make you eat eggplant.
Eggplant, as it turns out, is not macrobiotic. It is a deadly nightshade. Lucky for me, I too am not macrobiotic - and I will find a way to sneak eggplant into a meal and get my nephew to eat it.
The eating thing has gone much better this year. Partially because I haven't served lentils, and partially because he likes sushi now. Oh yes I still threaten him with sprouted spelt, but the thrill is wearing off because he doesn't turn the same shade of green he did when he first started sitting down to meals here.
Here are some things we've done which I may or may not remember to tell you about at some point:
- We went to a bay beach, where I got sunburned.
- We went to an ocean beach, see above.
- We went to see Brad Garrett, who I had never heard of because according to my nephew I am Amish.
- We went to see a play at WHAT for Kids (Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater), which turned out to be, you guessed it, a musical
- We went bumper boating and trampolining
- We discussed music for about three minutes before discovering that he had never heard of anything I listen to and I'd never heard of anything he listens to
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Ben was packing his surfboard into his truck and heading off as we arrived, and seeing him reminded me of those first few months of ring wearing. I was pretty used to it, since women get to wear a practice ring, but Chris fiddled and twiddled incessantly with his. It is now my way to spot newlyweds - men fiddling with bright shiny gold bands.
Back when we were first married, the house was arranged differently. Chris had the control room for the recording studio here in our living room. He had wires running down to the studio and both rooms were miked so they could chat back and forth when they needed to. It meant that Chris could do things while the bands were recording, or tuning, or girl-fighting. On this occasion, he was making an apple pie.
He was working on the crust and the flour made his hands slippery. The ring came off and bounced across the floor. I looked up and said something like "phew, it didn't fall into one of the man-eating cracks in the floor." He put his ring on and continued, until two seconds later it fell off again and, per instructions, fell through one of the cracks in the floor. He went ashen. He looked at the floor and headed to the stairwell. All I heard was thump thump thump thumpity thump as he ran down the stairs. And then through the speakers I heard another door open and more thumping, followed by the sound of tools being dumped out of a tool box and Chris saying "I am in SO MUCH TROUBLE."
More thumping, more doors, and he appeared in the kitchen with a crowbar. He set to work on the floor with admirable yet alarming gusto. "I never really liked that ring," I told him. "Look, this is me on the phone to Ben, getting you a new one," I said. "Please stop breaking our house," I begged.
I think about this as Ben pulls out of the parking lot, waving. I am pretty sure I've told him the story, but am likely to repeat myself anyway because he is a talented jeweler (and a surfer, for heaven's sakes), and I am always left stammering when I try to make conversation with him.
That's Ben in front. Photo's by Jonathan Wiggs for the Boston Globe and was taken at the Old Timers surfing competition. I registered for the Old Timers once but chickened out at the last minute, since, well, I can't surf.
Don't tell Ben. We'll have nothing left to talk about.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Yesterday I took Lucy to a birthday party which featured several other five year old girls ranging from pleasant to completely psycho.
Like I said, his inflection was his first mistake. His second mistake was waking me up to ask me.
So I told him. I told him about the girl who screamed "I DON'T LIKE YELLOW BIRTHDAY CAKE I WILL ONLY EAT WHITE!" when she was offered a slice. I told him about the petite peanut who repeatedly body slammed another girl in the bouncey house because the offending girl had gone in when peanut's friends were in there. Had I not been responsible for the slammee, I would have maybe put money on it and let the fight go on a little longer. At the very least I would not have pulled myself out of my shocked daze as quickly.
I went on and on until Chris had fallen asleep. And then I told him some more. I told him tales of derisiveness and deceit. I told him of pony ride heartbreak and the unnerving gusto with which children swing a bat at Dora. Boy howdy did they need the candy inside that pinata.
In short, it was not exactly the way I would have chosen to spend my afternoon.
In Chris' defense, I have this deeply rooted defense system which makes me have fun at inopportune times. Like that time I was run over (I think I mentioned it somewhere here but am too lazy to look it up) by a bicyclist who was going 30 miles an hour (he told me) through a very busy intersection in downtown Denver. I got to flirt with an entire fire truck full of Denver firemen. If you've ever wanted to flirt with a bunch of ridiculously handsome men but are, say, too well-mannered to do so, go hit yourself on the head with a really big piece of asphalt and voila, it's easy! And I made lots of friends in the emergency room which maybe wouldn't have happened usually since most of the people around me had knife and gun wounds and I was holding a Banana Yoshimoto book which, oddly enough, no one there had read.
So yes, I have just compared a 5 year old birthday party to being run over and landing in the emergency room. I tell you these stories to help explain why I again have tickets to the Russian American Kids Circus.
I also have a slightly sadistic sense of humor. Which is why I talked it up and got Chris to take the kids this year.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Yes, today it rained on the biggest party of the year. No, it didn't stop anything.
They hung sails from the trees and made huge covered areas where we could stand and listen to the bands. They put up tents for food and another tent where the civilized people sat. There was a bouncey castle that got better with the rain - making it a bouncey slip-n-slide castle. And there was a dunk-tank. You know, one of those tanks where someone sits on the seat and calls the person throwing the balls a lily-white, tutu-wearing, choir Mary until finally the lwtwcm lands a ball on the small disk, propelling the heckler into a tank of cold water. Lucy barely moved from her spot and watched probably an hour of this behavior.
Lucy and Studley had a fine time, moving from band to buffet to bouncey castle and back via the dunking spectacle. They ate probably twice their body weight, which I wish meant that I don't have to feed them breakfast tomorrow. It does not mean that. At all. In fact, what with all the bouncing and dunking and dancing and whatnot, they will probably be sitting at the breakfast table with forks poised when I wake up tomorrow - waiting for half a dozen scrambled eggs, toast and homefries. These children, I do not know what to make of them.
And then as we drove through Orleans on our way home I noticed a line of people making their way to Rock Harbor. So we parked the car, and like good little lemmings, followed them. We were about half way down Rock Harbor Road when the fireworks started. At first we could just see the sky turning colors - like an Aurora Borealis. We also saw lightening bugs. And then we could see some sparkling over the treetops. And then we could see whole fireworks displays - pink sparkly ones, gold glittery ones and the ones that look like Sideshow Bob's hair.
Finally we made it down to the harbor, where we had about 10 minutes of fireworks and the finale. Then the tide of lemmings turned and pushed back up the road into town.
And now my little bouncey castle inhabitants are snug in their beds, where visions of fireflies dance in their heads (or maybe they're dreaming of potato salad - it's hard to tell).
Friday, July 4, 2008
I think it's the third year I've gone to this party. It's pretty much the same people every year, but because I can't remember very much it's always new to me. There's a guy who works for a record label who goes, and also some sort of filmmaker dude. I always think it would be fun to chat with them, although I have no vested interest in either field. Nevertheless, if someone is of vital interest to someone else you know, you have a responsibility to schmooze them, right? Problem is, I am not sure who these people are and end up schmoozing everyone else.
My mom once sold lift tickets at a fancy pantsy ski resort. One day she sold a ticket to Sigourney Weaver. She had no idea who she was, and only knew she had done this thing because of the gaping and gasping of her coworkers. And then she sold a lift ticket to Lord something or other, who had something to do with Mountbatten and Churchill and whatever else and she went on and on about it to her fellow ticket sellers who were all, "who cares? Where's Sigourney Weaver?"
I have no idea how that relates to my record label/filmmaker story, except maybe I did meet them but just at that moment the blueberry cobbler came out and I excused myself just as they were offering me a record/soundtrack deal for the first three bands that popped into my head. Sorry, music friends. The cobbler was delicious.
We've been busily patriotic around Trout Towers today. We crossed town lines and marched in a parade in Barnstable with a few friends from up that way. I felt a little like I was cheating on my town, but really, it meant nothing.
I didn't go to our own parade because our conveniently located friend, who lives on the parade route, was not going to be home. She said we could use her driveway and park our chairs on her lawn, but it just wasn't the same without her bringing us those little pecan rolls whenever we looked peckish.
She wasn't home because she's dog sitting at a house on the bay with views of the water from the swimming pool. Now that's decadent. We are hoping she gets lonely there and summons us. This makes me realize that I don't so much need a pool as I need friends with pools and other cool stuff I don't want to take care of myself. Boats and vacation houses, for instance.
I don't regret not having a pool, but I do kind of wish I had entered the pie-eating contest. Congratulations, btw, to our friend who WON and is still picking blueberries out of his nose hairs.