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

Sunday, August 31, 2008

thrills, spills and bellyflops

Due to no fault of her own, Lucy had to sleep elsewhere while I washed and dried her sheets. When I picked her up to carry her to her own bed, she opened her eyes and smiled at me. "I was thinking about today," she said, "and then you came." It was as though she had awakened from the most marvelous dream - only to find she hadn't been dreaming. We really had gone for ice cream, played at the playground and seen Chris sing in front of a packed house.

And the way she said it, and the way she looked at me before falling back to sleep reminded me of the miraculous fact that she loves me. I want to go back in, pick her up, and tell her how much I love her. How she brightens my days. How proud of her I am. How she makes my heart sing and my eyes well.

She loves me.

I am trying to remember why having time to myself is so important. I would give it all to her three times over.

Labor Day Resolutions

Although I'm not always a fan of change, I do love times of transition. Which is why I love fall. January first is full of self-imposed resolutions - things we think we should do but won't. September is full of things we can't help doing . The kids start school this week and have been standing by the door with their lunchboxes for the last ten days. That makes my schedule free up and boy do I have a list of things I can't wait to dive into.

First of all, I need to get The Friends moved in. I cannot even believe that we get to have our friends living right upstairs from us.

I didn't tell anyone when Heather and her family found a place to live. I didn't want to push them out by being all "they're moving out - parteeeee!" and I also didn't want to jinx it. They desperately needed a place of their own so they can live life as a family instead of as caretakers. We are very excited for them.

We're also excited for us. On the day their place became available, I whispered to Liz "Heather is starting to move today." And she said, "can we move in?" I think she was joking. It's not always safe to joke around me because I pretty much started packing boxes for her.

That's a lie. I haven't even packed my own boxes. I see more of a Fire Brigade sort of move in our future, where we pass things from person to person until the upstairs is empty and the downstairs is groaning.

Our caretaking responsibilities are going smoothly. Ruth's at a point where she does most things by herself, so she's pretty much just a fifth family member if I work it right. She's being a very good sport about all the hubbub going on around her as we get the downstairs ready to move into.*

If you're confused about the upstairs/downstairs thing, it's essentially a two-family home. The downstairs has three bedrooms and all the accoutrements of home including a sunny spot to eat breakfast and a fireplace in the livingroom. There are kitchens upstairs and down so eventually when we are living in the whole house we can be kosher. Can you be kosher if you're not Jewish? Maybe we'll have a vegan/non-vegan kitchen. The one we don't use will be the vegan one.

There are other things, too. Studley is starting school, plus I have an awesome "you take my kids I'll take yours" gig set up so I have TWO GLORIOUS DAYS to do my own work in addition to my one day of sanctioned employment (Chris stays home one day a week). This is the closest to Master of My Own Week I've been in six years.

Whatever shall I do in those two glorious days? Oh the lists. All those projects I've been pushing to the background while things were too crazy to breathe. No, I'm not taking up scrapbooking.

I also get to see Chris on Monday. He's been cloning himself all summer so he can be in six places at once. He forgot to clone an extra version to be at home so we've been missing him. And maybe it won't be Monday, as he will probably sleep for Monday and most of Tuesday.

I hope you are enjoying your Labor Day weekend. I mostly hope you don't have to go to the store for anything. Don't forget to wear your white shoes and gloves today and Monday as a last hurrah. What? Your mother didn't forbid white shoes after labor day?

It's all okay, there are no rules forbidding post-summer flip flops.


* If you're a newcomber, Ruth's my mother-in-law. She's blind and although she needs help with things like driving and caligraphy, she's a rock solid inspiration.

also I just noticed that I have the word "transition" in a post that has "labor" in the title. I don't mean that kind of transition.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dana Colley

Dana Colley (the saxophone player from Morphine) was in town last night, playing with his new rig A.K.A.C.O.D. Would you like to guess who was not there? Because she failed to get a babysitter?

Ironically, I know Dana because once I babysat his daughter after having known him and his family for, oh, about seven minutes. Dana was playing in town and he asked the club manager if there was anyone who could babysit so his family could come to the show. It was maybe four or five years ago and we were the only people in our circle who had kids. Also we were known to let musicians and their progeny into our house so were summarily volunteered. Lucy was only a year old and I remember Dana's daughter settling into the spare bed in her room and piping up "ooooh, there's a BABY SLEEPING IN HERE!" I think I had a sitter that night, so once the girls were both asleep I got to go see the show.

That was the first time I saw Dana live and let me tell you, he is amazing.

About a year later, Lucy and I ran into them at Simon Pearce in Quechee, VT. Lucy and I had been watching glassblowing and had had a very civilized lunch in their restaurant, where she dined on grilled cheese made with local cheddar and drank her milk out of a hand-blown Simon Pearce glass. We were on our way out when we passed this family and they looked at us and we looked at them and the wheels spun for a little while before we recognized each other as having become friends in my driveway. The girls ran around and played on the lawn like they had known each other forever.

As we continued the drive to Burlington, I thought about how many musicians we know and wouldn't it be spiffy to start an autograph book? I mentioned it to the friends I was visiting and they told me about another music industry friend who had musicians sign the pages of a children's book. I stole the idea immediately and relegated "Green Eggs and Ham" for just that purpose.

Over the last few years we've had lots of people sign it, but every time Dana's in town, we forget to get out the book. I keep thinking I should mail it to him, but at this point it's too precious to let go from our sight. The most famous people who've signed it are Colin Meloy (the Decemberists), Peter Wolf (G. Geils), Colin Hay (Men at Work), Julianna Hatfield, Frank Black (the Pixies) and David Lowery (Cracker).

And now we need to start a new book, because the autographs in "Green Eggs and Ham" are written to Lucy. What is Studley, chopped liver?

We'll give it to her when she gets older and she will be all, "who are all these people and why did you let them write all over my book?" Or not. Chris, per my text message, bought the new A.K.A.C.O.D. cd, so Lucy will grow up listening to great music and hopefully have a larger frame of musical reference than her peers.

Behold, Morphine:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

angels on training wheels

Is there anything worse than watching your own daughter ride her bike out into the middle of a road instead of making the turn? And seeing a pickup truck coming toward her? There's this funny thing one's brain does, that makes the scene look like it's shot with a zoom lens and everything's all flattened onto the same plane. Girl. Bike. Truck.

I had checked for traffic and gone ahead of her. I stopped at the side of the road and turned to watch her follow me. Except she didn't. As I was helping her out of the road, while blowing kisses and bowing gratitude to the driver of the truck (who had seen her coming and slowed to a snail's pace), I realized I had my own bike tucked under my arm. I now understand how people can lift cars.

I hugged her and held her and told her over and over "it's okay, you're okay, it's okay" until she finally asked if we could stop this nonsense and please keep riding.

There's a wide bike lane where we were riding, and we could have just filed into it without waiting for traffic. But while part of me registered that, the other part said "let's just wait a second." And that's what we did.

Maybe the driver of the truck did the same thing.

Call it what you will, we are more guided and protected than we realize. May we all hear what we need to hear. And then may we keep riding.


Slight strategic failing. We took down the overhead lights in the kitchen and dining room so we could sand the ceilings (good idea). Which means I'm painting in semi-darkness (bad idea). I'm not a very good painter anyway, so no guarantees. Also, I painted with both right and left hands as my poor handsy wandsies got a little tie-tie with all that work. I am not ambidextrous by any stretch of the imagination. Am covered in paint.

Daylight should be interesting.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


We're sanding and painting and packing, and if I blog Chris may never forgive me. I'll let you know how it's going soon!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I have a little problem with commitment. That's why I never got a tattoo. To illustrate: my photo, which I claimed would be the perfect tattoo, has been replaced by a 1950's sewing pattern.

The Chinese character was a little too pretentious. I'm all about pretentious, but the character was too non-self-mockingly pretentious for me. I like pretentious things like mah jong, which I've never played but by golly I'm getting a mah jong group together some winter.

Would you like to come play mah jong? I'll start researching 1950's appetizers. Like Vienna Sausages with frilly toothpicks.

Friday, August 22, 2008

domestic bliss

When Barbara Kingsolver made me buy a food dehydrator I went online and read customer reviews on the few I was thinking of getting. The one I settled on had many endearing qualities (it was cheap) but there were some strident complaints about the noise. According to the reviews, my dehydrator should be put in another room, if not another state. It is so loud people were suggesting it stay in the basement.

These people obviously do not live at Trout Towers, and have no concept of what "loud" is.

I'm dehydrating my first batch of cherry tomatoes right now. I cleaned a counter in a part of the house that's far from human life so we wouldn't have to wear shooting range ear protectors. Lucy put the produce from our garden on the drying trays; tomatoes, basil, parsley and celery. This would have been tedious for me, but she made the tomatoes look just like the picture on the box, all arranged in perfect circles and pretty as can be.

I just went to make sure it wasn't setting the house on fire and could not believe I had ostracized it. First of all, the noise? Whatever. My rotating fan makes more noise. Second of all, the smell is out of this world. Basil and tomatoes, celery and parsley, wafting through the house. Everyone is getting soup mix for Christmas this year.

Or maybe pickles. Tonight I'm going to a friend's house to help her make and can some pickles. I've never made pickles, but I did make some cranberry sauce once and that apparently makes me an expert.

I'm thinking I should get one of those bonnets, like in "I heart Huckabees."

Update: pickles made! No idea if they're edible, but no injuries were sustained in the canning process, so I'd call it a win.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Atlas Shrugged

In the new issue of COD (the Cape & Islands' only alternative newspaper), James Joiner (editor? director? associate spellchecker?) says
Through all the craziness of the past month, I noticed something: there are a lot of exceptional folks here on the Cape. What is it about this place that attracts such creative, freethinking people? At almost every turn I ran into artists, writers, musicians, leaders in the fields of animal welfare, behavior and biology... Pretty incredible. I love the fact that so many people in our community don't feel the need to bow to the status quo and are out there making an impact in their own way and on their own terms. Our hats off to you.
I have been noticing this, too. All our friends are up to cool things. I don't know a single person who's doing the 9 to 5 haul, working for something they're not that into. Of course we know a lot of musicians and they're just a world unto themselves, but it's not just them. It's artists and writers and gallery directors and nutritional experts and green engineers and caterers and radio djs and designers and all sorts of other crazy things. They're all a little nutty about what they do, and they're good at it. The contractors we know treat each project like it's their own home and let me tell you, even their bathroom doors are exceptional. The theater people are putting on some of the most edge-of-your-seat theater I've ever seen. Don't let the flip-flops fool you. People around here are like the balsamic reduction of humanity.

I'm writing this post instead of writing my news blurb on Beanstock Coffee Roasters. Do you have any idea how maniacal they are over there about quality? They're all "we source the best beans in the world and roast each kind of bean to just the right roastedness so you will want to drink the coffee forever and ever." Those weren't their exact words (maybe "roastedness" was a give-away?) but you get the idea. It makes me tired just thinking about all those trips to South America to buy coffee. Wait a minute, no it doesn't. I am in the wrong business entirely.

Or maybe I'm not. During the course of my day I got to chat with people who were really really into their work. From the people who roast the coffee to the people who wrote the quote above, it's just a pleasure and an honor to be part of this enthusiastic community of thinkers and doers.

I suppose I should maybe get to work now.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

weather report

You know back when they were burning witches? And people racked their brains for omens and scape goats when something crazy happened? I kind of understand that now.

This morning we rode bikes and played in the yard while I complained about the heat and tried to find a spot of shade to sit in. I am very whiny, as you know. Now it's just after lunch and it is so dark we had to turn on lights inside. The sky is Completely Black. I looked up from my towel folding to see trees lashed by wind and leaves swirling through the air like in the Wizard of Oz. Speaking of the Wizard of Oz, I almost let the chickens out this morning and am now glad I didn't. Pretty sure I'd be watching them sail past our windows right now, à la Toto.

I ran outside and grabbed the huge packing boxes adorning our front yard. And then closed windows and the bulkhead door. And then I wondered who did what to make God so mad. I am fairly sure it wasn't me. I've done nothing but laundry today. Yesterday, I could have been blamed, but not today. I have been as nice as can be today.

But someone must have done something. One minute it's sunny and the next minute there's a freaking typhoon? All meteorological explanations are illogical.

There was one time a couple winters ago when we got hit with the biggest storm I had ever seen. I know this is all sissy-talk to the people who are getting hit with the big storms, but like I've said, I'm a sissy. Anyway, I brought Lucy home from a playdate and when we were climbing up the stairs to come inside, the wind BLEW HER OFF THE STAIRS and into my arms. And then, the angels began to sing and the skies cleared and for a moment I thought this is what Judgement Day will look like and then I thought I think I'll go get ice cream. So I packed the kids in the car and went to the store for ice cream. In the eye of the storm, as it turns out.

Lucky for me today, I already have ice cream.

Wait! Breaking News! The Beachcomber was hit by lightening! And there is a wrath-of-God storm swirling around the dunes of Wellfleet. We are narrowing down our suspects.

And don't look at me, I was just here folding laundry.

Monday, August 18, 2008

identity crisis

In case you've been wondering, I sent the check to WOMR. A friend of mine who works at the station asked me for a pledge and since I'd been meaning to send a check anyway, I pledged. I dutifully sent off my pledge check with a little note about what the additional amount was for and I'm sure they thanked me in a way that involved lots of ampersands, asterixes (asteri?) and exclamation points because I just know a non-profit organization loves getting money for an event they've already closed the books on. I can imagine them banging their heads on their desks, asking
what? (bang)
are we? (bang)
supposed? (bang)
to do? (bang)
with this?(bang, bang)
NOW?! (complete nervous colapse)

But they were nice and sent me a thank you note which did not drip of sarcasm. They also sent a WOMR bumper sticker which I have maybe always coveted but cannot use because I'm posing as a vacation renter, see? And the local radio station bumper sticker would give me away.

We had a picture-perfect vacation scene just the other morning, as a matter of fact. When we found ourselves awake at an absurd hour of Saturday morning, we decided to go to the farmer's market. Lucy's been all about riding her squeaky little bike, so she rode it there while Studley and I scampered along behind. We had a nice visit (watermelons are not ready yet, fingerling potatoes make life worth living) and then headed back with our market baskets brimming with SOMEONE ELSE'S GARDEN PRODUCE. We will discuss the implications of that later.

Can you just picture us? Lucy speeding along up front on her bike, Studley and me moseying along behind. Market baskets laden. We looked like a flipping travel ad. You can imagine my delight when Lucy wanted to take the long way home, past the rental house. So we go along, looking all J-Crew-catalog-summer-living-issue, and wouldn't you know? There's no one at the rental house.

If a vacationer does something fabulous and no one sees, is it still fabulous?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

live entertainment

I have been outdone in every way.

Don't get me wrong, I am very proud of the parties I've had for my kids. I've made tutus for everyone (children and adults), I've had fairy extravaganzas and I've hired bands, but I've never pulled off a party like the one I just went to.

First of all, we drove up to the house and there were brightly colored beach balls hanging from the trees like lanterns. The lawn was bestrewn with inflated pools and huge inflated sea creatures. There was a basket with beach towels rolled up and waiting for the kids. There was a basket of every kind of sunscreen imaginable. There were places to sit under trees and canopies and there was lots of food. Oh, lots of food, how I love you.

If you are reading this and you need to throw a summer party, steal all these ideas RIGHT NOW. It was awesome.

At one point a man introduced himself to a friend of mine. "Hi, I'm Tom," he said. Simple enough, except that he used to be speaker of the house and now has his own radio show. Does he really ever have to introduce himself? Or do people just come up and start talking to him, willy-nilly?

And then another friend of ours told this story about how his brother caught a falling toddler a couple weeks ago. Falling as in OFF A SECOND STORY LEDGE. He said his brother saw the crowd and the toddler, went and found a legal place to park and since everyone was too far back he walked under where the child was sitting. The child, I'm told, proceeded to pick up tiny pebbles from the ledge and dropped them on his soon-to-be-savior. And then he lost his balance and this friend's brother caught him.

Nuts, no?

So not only have I been outdone with decor and food, I have been outdone in the influential guest and crazy story departments, too.

I have two birthday parties to plan and believe me, I'm taking a second look at my guest list. I am currently taking applications from famous people and friends with heroic siblings. Or better yet, I'll up the ante. Have you done anything heroic yourself? Please let me know so I can invite you. Personal heroics trump sibling heroics, I do believe.

What's the most heroic thing you've done or seen?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

so completely handy

I am not very good at this home repair sort of thing. It's a little like if Nellie Oleson were suddenly hosting This Old House. I keep having little hissy fits and walking out of a room which needs my attention but is currently winning a battle of wills. I hear myself saying "ew" a lot.

I am now using Chris' random orbit sander to take down some of the ew-ness on the walls and cabinets before I paint the kitchen. This was not my idea, because until now I had no idea what a random orbit sander was. To make matters worse, I noticed that when I use it, I extend my pinkies. Like I'm having tea.

I am such a sissy I sicken even myself.

I have two friends I think of often these days. One moved into the mother of all bachelor pads, which was literally a barn. It's lovely now. The other friend moved into an investment property which was literally a crack house. They renovated it and then sold it for even more money than I spent on Shaklee yesterday. They were then able to buy a stunning Captain's House in the historic part of town - which my friend had to renovate since the Sea Captain in question had been dead a long time and had failed to keep things up to date.

After Chris went off to work, I started getting up to speed with the sander. My arms were going numb, but I had no intention of stopping. Why clean something when you can sand it off? Everywhere I looked, there was something to be sanded. The cat is very nervous.

And then came the paint. When I asked the nice man at the hardware store, he suggested I get oil based primer. The last time I bought oil based primer Chris and I had a marital dispute. But the man explained why I need the oil base and there I was, weighing our marriage against the likelihood of peeling paint. You know how this is going to go, don't you?

Miraculously, I saved our marriage by purchasing an inexpensive paintbrush so I would not ruin one of Chris' brushes with my oil based primer. Saved our marriage for the moment, that is. Chris is still out and when he comes home later and sees what I've done you may hear his reaction from wherever you happen to be. I hope he doesn't wake you.

It won't bother me though. I'm so high on paint fumes I'll probably just get the giggles again. And eat more Oreos. And watch some Little House on the Prairie. Take that, Nellie Oleson.

Friday, August 15, 2008

in which I vacation in Mexico on Shaklee's dime

You are SO not going to believe this. Neither will my husband.

I just spent eleventy-four hundred dollars becoming a Shaklee distributor. I didn't have to, mind you. I ordered the basic package to become a distributor - and then picked out a dozen or so OTHER things I wanted. Et voila. Eleventy-four hundred dollars.

Have you heard of Shaklee? My mom's been using it since I was in middle school, which is disconcerting because that means she's been environmentally responsible for longer than me and that's just not possible. She never uses the term "offgassing" in a sentence and she never wears hemp. I have to say, she's been a really good sport all this time, what with me coming home with all my natural cleaning products as if they are something new. They're not new, they're expensive.

The basic cleaning product is SO cheap. It's like $10 or something (look how smart I am after the training!) and it makes BUCKETS of glass cleaner or multipurpose cleaner. Buckets! AND it's really really non-toxic so if my kids accidentally lick the bottle they will just say "ew."

So how did my bill get so high? No idea. I'm a trained professional when it comes to buying things. Also I'm out of shampoo. And shower gel. So I ordered some things. Like meal replacement shakes because I am chubby and I have a hard time remembering breakfast. Those two things don't seem to make sense together, but there it is. Chubby, meal-skipping Shaklee distributor. That should maybe be my tagline.

Actually, Vigilante Housewife is my tagline. That's the real reason I joined, because I want business cards that say Vigilante Housewife.

I'm not actually vacationing in Mexico. I had some friends who were hard-core sales people and they were pedaling some lotions and potions and going to Mexico on those Sales Person of the Month perk vacations all the time. It is hard to be a hard-core sales person when I spend most of my time hiding in my livingroom chatting it up with invisible friends here on this blog. They say you're supposed to stick with what you know.

I'll let you know how it goes. The truck should be pulling up in a few days with Big Boxes of Stuff. How they remain a carbon neutral company while trucking things to my door is beyond me. It's magic.

And, I heard the guy who used to own Burberry is the new dude at Shaklee. Which is also magic. And quite possibly why I spent so much money. So stylish.


subliminal message - if you want any Shaklee stuff, buy it from me so Chris will have to sing the "I was so wrong. You are a genius" song. I love that song and Shaklee drop ships.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

did I mention there was a meteorite shower?

Last night, for the first time in, oh, 6 weeks, Chris had the night off. And since I've missed seeing him, I said "hi honey - here are the kids. Byeeeeee!" and went off with a couple friends for a girls night out. Because how do you strengthen a marriage? By spending a little time by yourself after very long stretches of time spent by yourself. (It makes sense if you don't think about it too hard.) (Kind of like how if you speak German you can understand Dutch but not if you pay attention.)

(No really, it is.)

So I careened out the driveway and we went to Mac's Shack for dinner. We ate oysters and sushi and beet salad and then we giggled and talked about boys and did each other's hair. Not really but we should have because it's a girls night out after all. And when we could not eat so much as one speck of roe more, we walked down the street to hear some music at The Juice.

And who is at the Juice? Chris.

I think "YOU BOOGER! You are supposed to be home being miserable with the kids and instead you go OUT WITH THEM and not only are you out with them, YOU BROUGHT THEM TO WHERE I WANT TO BE! GAH!"

I did not say any of that out loud. I didn't say it out loud because I was busy noticing that Lucy was playing with a friend. A friend who is not from here. A friend whose parents are our friends and who are also at the Juice, talking to some of my other friends and... good grief why is my mother at my girls night out?

That's when I realized that Chris was ruining my night out on purpose, by throwing me a surprise party. It didn't take more than twenty minutes to put it all together, because I am sharp as a toaster.

And you may not believe this, but Howard Zinn crashed my party. Right, okay, so it may have looked like he just happened to be having dinner at the same restaurant as my party, but I'm not falling for it. If he's going to stalk me like this I should probably read more of his books. Yeah I know, I've mentioned him a few times and YES I took a picture of him once with my phone when he wasn't looking (one hopes) and there may be some sense in asking "who is stalking who, here?" but whatever.

And if I confronted him with the crashing of my party, he would probably just deny it and say something like "I'm sorry, have we met?" And I would be all "Yes! Yes Mr. Zinn we met just last week when I just happened to be at the breakfast place I heard your son was taking you to...." But the denial would be no great surprise because it would be just like what everybody else has been doing. Everybody else who has been Lying To Me repeatedly and with gusto over the last couple of weeks. My friends and family are sneaky buggers and cannot be trusted. Oh the lies. The deception. The Cake.

They didn't have to go to all that trouble lying to me. They could have just said, "Susan, we want to have a party in a perfectly magical clamshell-bestrewn courtyard with umbrellas and twinkly lights and candles and music and lots of your friends - would you like to come?" and I would have obliged. Actually, I might have said "is it catered?" and of course it is so then I would have obliged. I am very reasonable.

The sad thing about this is that I am the worst person alive when it comes to remembering people's birthdays. The Worst. I am resolving right now to be better but who am I kidding? Right after my birthday is over I think oh for crying out loud I am an adult what is the big deal with birthdays anyway? And then August rolls around again and I'm all LOOK AT ME IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!

or at least it was. Now I think it should be someone else's turn for a little while. And they should share their cake with me.

I'm looking at you, Virgos. Share it evenly, now.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

creating realities, a.k.a lying to the neighbors

Yesterday Lucy was riding her bike around the block. She still has training wheels and the whole thing needs to be oiled, which makes us a noisy lot. Rumble, rumble. Squeak.

As we rounded the corner, I noticed there was a new car in The Rental Property. There is only one summer rental in our neighborhood. I think this is unusual for these parts, but almost all of us on this street live here year round - except for the retired couple who have four houses and seven vehicles and do pretty much whatever they want.

Anyway, as I trotted alongside Lucy on her bicycle (rumble rumble), the people in the Rental Property Yard looked up. I waved. I thought I should say something, but they went back to what they were doing (inventorying hermit crabs, drying towels, cursing the weather or whatever people on vacation do these days) and we did not chat.

And as we pedaled away (squeak!!!) it occurred to me that they might think that we, too, are on vacation. As always, Lucy looked like she had to cobble together something warm from her suitcase of summer clothes. And I looked a little vacationy, too. I had on a Wellfleet t-shirt and everyone knows you only wear vacation town t-shirts once you've gotten home. Hog's Breath Saloon. Hard Rock Cafe. Those Prince Edward Island mud-dyed shirts. You think the locals wear those?

Besides, what could be more vacationy than learning to ride a bike down a quiet road at the end of the day? Now that I think of it, we look like we're on vacation a lot.

So here's my plan. I'm going to start conversations with the Revolving Renters down the street. I'll find out where they're from and how long they're staying and I'll make up a story from there. From now on, I'm renting. I'm here with my family for (insert arbitrary number of weeks greater or equal to that of the Renters) and live in (someplace where they're not from). We're happy to be on vacation and love love love the place we found to rent. Did you know there are CHICKENS? And it has SUCH CHARACTER. We can't believe we finally got a week - we've been trying to get this house for years but it's always booked with repeat renters. We called at midnight on the first day the owners were booking new rentals and WOULD YOU BELIEVE? There was finally space!

I'll do this week after week, with a new story for each renter. By the end of the summer I will have myself convinced that I've had a fabulous summer getaway. And people will be begging to rent the house with the chickens. Just you wait.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Blueberries for Studley

I will take you blueberry picking, but I'll have to blind-fold you, drive you there, confiscate any gps devices and swear you to secrecy. Because apparently that's the way things work.

I went with the New Friends yesterday. How they found this blueberry patch, I really don't care to know. It is a field of blueberries at the end of a dirt road and I swear it feels like you're headed for a meth lab. It is JUST SHORT of having shark jaws hanging from trees.

I gave the kids each a bucket and sent them off, telling them not to even bother coming back to the car until their buckets were full. Studley did not listen, which is good because he'd still be there. I'm not sure how many he picked but there were about 8 in his bucket at the end of the day. And four of them were green. Lucy did much better. I was feeling pretty good about my own haul, until I saw what my friends were taking out. They had a contractor's bucket.

I should maybe go a little earlier next time.

However, we got just enough to make 5 jars of blueberry jam. I made the jam because the berries are a trifle tart (honestly? they make me go cross-eyed). More importantly, did you catch that? The bit about 5 jars of blueberry jam? I, the consummate talker-not-doer, came home and made jam. I even canned it. And hey, guess what? I got that pressure canner over the winter and just discovered that all the foods, ALL THE FOODS, I want to can are high acid and don't need a pressure canner. Oopsie daisy. I discovered this just now in Putting Foods By (thank you Sturdy Girl, I bought it and love it). I have now spent so much money on growing and preserving my own food, I could have bought all our groceries for the last year at Dean and Deluca and had them Fed Exed. And I would have come out slightly ahead.

Live and learn.

As I mentioned before, the locations where you can pick top quality (a.k.a. easy to reach) blueberries are top secret. However, my friends are going to tell someone else about this one, in exchange for directions to a raspberry/blackberry patch. I feel like I've been welcomed into a secret society.

We used to go strawberry picking when we were kids at a pick-your-own strawberry place in Brewster. I remember them weighing us on the way out. I don't remember if they weighed us on the way in, but I do remember approaching the scale with trepidation on the way out - knowing I had just consumed a metric ton of strawberries. Then we'd eat strawberries all week and mom would make jam. I don't know how she did it in a rental cottage without the four grillion dollars worth of canning equipment I now own, but it was awesome.

On the other hand, foraging is great because a) no one weighs you and b) no one charges you. It is also great because you might find a baby bird in a nest among the blueberries. And also there's no poison ivy in the cultivated fields. Poison ivy keeps things much more interesting, don't you think?

I do hope Lucy and Studley remember these days. I can't duplicate my childhood for them, but I can certainly try to approximate some of it. A sort of "best of" collection, if you will. And days like this are definitely on the hit parade.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Here's a little music business insiderness for you. You'll maybe ask me not to share next time.

The other morning I ran an errand in the wrong car, which meant the person who was picking up sound equipment for a job could not get the microphones, which were in my back seat. This post is about music, not grammar, so leave me alone about run on sentences.

On my way home, I stopped off to deliver the microphones. He took the case out of the car, opened it, and began making his selection. There were about 20 microphones in the case. He looked them over and then picked one up and sniffed it. He quickly went through half a dozen this way, taking four. Incredible. Microphones are selected the same way I pick out pineapples and cantaloupe (minus the pressing of the stem end).

I mentioned this and was told that microphones get pretty smelly. He wanted a good one and three tolerable ones. Something about drinking and smoking and then singing into something that's not really possible to clean.

Ew. I've never been so grateful for my inability to sing.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

playdates, and how I sometimes forget the kids are there

First of all, thank you to everyone for making my birthday so very awesome. My friends, visible and invisible alike, completely rock. If I were a drinker I would have spent the whole day hanging on people and saying "I love you, man." I may have done a bit of that anyway, but whatever.

Today was slated to be anti-climactic, what with it being the day after the big day and all, but OH NO. It wasn't. The executive director* I work for (as he says, his title sounds like "most likely to get knocked off third in movies") had suggested we get the families together for a day of fun fun fun. He has a daughter who is close to Lucy's age and a wife who is lovely and friendly and willing to spend the day with people like us.

We had a great day. This evening as I tucked Lucy in bed she told me all the things she liked most about the day. Dinner here with family, her sleepover last night and spending the day with her new friend. I too was grateful for dinner, her sleepover, and spending the day with new friends. And I thanked her for making my day so fun.

Kids open all kinds of doors. Especially for those of us who are not especially outgoing. I just went and spent the day with a man I work for and his wife. I only know him through work and have only laid eyes on him twice before this (I work from home. He does not work in my home). Under normal circumstances I would not have said "hey, how about you, me and your wife get together and play some mini golf on Saturday? maybe have some lunch? and watch some baseball?" But there we were, doing exactly that today. And all under the auspices of a play date. It's all about getting the kids together.

We are using them.

Once Chris and I took a ballroom dancing class (don't try to imagine what that looked like). There was another couple who was really nice and I thought it would be fun to get together with them some time. You'd think I was trying to ask them on a date. I got nervous. Felt self conscious. Went through the whole what-if-they-don't-like-us thing. Feared rejection. Blah blah blah. I don't even remember what they looked like or what they did or why I thought we'd have anything in common, because I never talked to them. What was I going to say? "Hey, you guys want to go play some mini-golf after class?" Seems a little weird, no?

We actually have a surfeit of splendid friends and are not actively shopping for new ones. This is good because before we know it the kids will be teenagers and will scoff at our attempts to commandeer social agendas. Our days of hanging with new peeps will be mere memories and my professional networking will have to be done in places other than playgrounds. But not yet.

And maybe by then I'll have learned to play mah jong. Anyone want to come play?

*I thought he was my editor. He is not. Do I even have an editor? Is ANYONE checking my stuff before it goes out? I certainly hope so because I'm not paying attention.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Shannon called yesterday and said it was a shame one couldn't sell one's birthday on eBay. Which is silly, because of course you can sell your birthday on eBay. Except that you should think about it in advance or you will be selling it for cheap.

For instance, if your birthday falls on 8/8/08, as mine auspiciously does, it would probably get the highest bid from someone in Asia. And by the time we (she) thought of it, I'm afraid it was getting on toward tomorrow in the east.

I know it would draw the highest bid in the east because once a woman from China nearly gave me heart failure when she checked my passport at JFK. She looked at it and gasped. And looked at me. And nodded. And smiled knowingly. And I was just sure she wasn't going to let me go on vacation. Then she said "8/8, very auspicious!" and gave me back my passport.

She said the number 8 had something to do with wealth. I didn't think much about it at the time as I was quite clearly not wealthy and she was quite clearly WRONG. But now I'm curious, so I look it up on Wikipedia and....

Oh dear, now I'm truly sad I didn't move on this:

Because of the supposed auspiciousness of certain numbers, some people will often choose, attempt to obtain, or pay large sums for numbers that are considered to be lucky for their phone numbers, street addresses, residence floor (in a multi-story building), driver's license number, vehicle license plate number, bank account number, etc.
and specifically:

The word for "eight" (八,捌) in Chinese (Pinyin: bā) sounds similar to the word which means "prosper" or "wealth" ( - short for "发财", Pinyin: fā). In regional dialects the words for "eight" and "fortune" are also similar, eg Cantonese "baat" and "faat".

There is also a resemblance between two digits, "88", and the shuang xi ('double joy'), a popular decorative design composed of two stylized characters 喜 (xi, 'joy', 'happiness').

Telephone number 8888-8888 was sold for USD$270,723 in Chengdu, China.

A man in Hangzhou offered to sell his license plate reading A88888 for 1.12 million yuan.[2]

Phooey. I could have used 1.12 million yuan.

And I have to say, although I never wanted a tattoo (okay well there was that one time but I got over it) I would be tempted by this "double happiness" thingy. If I had that on me somewhere I would never forget my own birthday. Handy.

Maybe I will make it my profile picture. There. Just like a tattoo. A tattoo for sissies.

Which reminds me, it's my birthday.

It's my birthday!

That is why I'm sitting on the couch at 3am, waiting for the cards, cake and shiny trinkets to come rolling in. Hello shiny trinkets, I'm here!

In lieu of shiny trinkets, what I would really love is for you to say hello. From time to time it occurs to me that there may be someone besides my mother reading Trout Towers (either that or mom is posing as random strangers).

Are you reading? Will you say hello?

Happy auspicious day. May 1.12 million yuan appear in your coffee cup.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ambient Fire, cont.

After dinner Lucy asked if we could watch a movie. And because we are raising total social lepers, the movie she wanted to watch was Ambient Fire.

What have we wrought?

My children don't ask to see Rocky & Bullwinkle, Wallace & Gromit or Henry & June. They want to watch a video-taped fire in a fireplace.

I put on the dvd and she picked the fireplace with the Christmas stockings. It's her favorite. And it comes with this awesome 80's electronica Christmas soundtrack. If you're good, you can get the music AND the authentic crackling sounds.

And then she asked me to pause it because she had to go potty.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Office

Chris conducted a job interview today here at the Towers.

We had discussed amongst ourselves what we were looking for and had sketched out a job description. It was pretty straightforward. So you can imagine my surprise when Chris said hello and then launched into some campaign for growing the business and the 20 year plan which includes maybe building more geodesic domes in the back yard and a research team to take up where Buckminster Fuller left off or at the very least adding new employees so we could have a company picnic once in awhile.

Actually, you can't imagine my surprise. Because I wasn't.

It made me think of how we met. He was interviewing me for a job, an interview to which I wore silk trousers and brought my writing portfolio. He wore an inside-out sweatshirt. He had an office then, which we left so he could interview me without interruption. He drove me to the beach and we sat on a bench in the off season, where two large and muddy puppies jumped all over me. He went on and on about goodness knows what and I swear the only reason I continued meeting up with him was so I could figure out what the heck he was talking about. I never did.

And then we got married.

Which doesn't bode well for this interview because Chris is not Mormon. Fortunately for all concerned, he got back on track and the rest went pretty smoothly. Smoothly except of course for the fact that Studley sauntered up and peed on the floor in front of us halfway through. Lucy's been doing a good job potty training him, but clearly there's more work to be done.

I figure if the interviewee doesn't need to stop off at the drycleaner on the way home, it's a win.

As I listened to the interview unfold, I suddenly saw the whole episode through her eyes as if she were at that moment not concentrating on what my husband was saying, but rather what she would write in her blog later this evening. I looked around at our space and shuddered at how she would have every right to portray it. I thought about the insurmountable task we were offering, and winced at the number of consolatory comments she'd get. And then Studley did the thing with the pee and, well, that just made everything pretty perfect now didn't it?

Which is I think why nondisclosure agreements are signed. I must remember to keep them handy by the door.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

when glaciers remodel

The summerness of our summer has been somewhat neglected these past few weeks. You see, our house has become something of a Chinese Fire Drill. Or maybe a french farce. Or a French Fire Farce in Espadrilles with take-out Chinese. At any rate, there are comings and goings at all hours of the day and night and no one is ending up where they started.

We are getting the downstairs rooms ready to move into, slowly. I am reminded of that prank in college wherein we stapled Dixie cups together to cover the floor and filled them all half-way with water. Every time I go downstairs I see some version of those Dixie cups which needs to be dealt with before anything else can be done. Add to the equation the possibility that the people moving out might want to keep the Dixie cups once we get them all unstapled, because we are not sure if they're actually finished moving or not. So instead of moving forward, I come back upstairs.

Yesterday, after spending the day inside, I realized my children only had a month of summer left and we should probably do something about it. I didn't feel like cooking dinner (oh look, there's nothing but condiments in our fridge!) so I came up with a genius plan.

We went to Nauset Beach and got dinner from Liam's - a fried food and ice cream shack right on the beach. I never let the kids get stuff from these places when we're at the beach because I always pack a nutritious lunch in my picnic hamper and they will eat it, by golly. So last night was the grand exception. We sauntered up to the window and ordered all manner of fried food.

And then we had a picnic. I went in for an onion ring and Studley said "no! Don't eat that first! You have to eat your..." and we all looked for the thing that was supposed to pass as the nutritional linchpin. My kids surveyed the assortment of golden fried goodness in grave confusion. Was this dinner? Had they missed something? And then they ate. And then all three of us felt disgusting and went home.

Today I think I will work on the storage areas of downstairs. I have big packages of things for the five of us to share and don't want to put them away up here only to move them later. So I have piles of things like 75 rolls of toilet paper and economy boxes of trash bags and other dry goods making walls and tunnels in our livingroom while we wait for them to have a place to go. We are all starting to feel like white mice and none of us has a clue where the little peanut butter sandwiches are.

I am afraid they are behind the Dixie cups somewhere and am afraid to look.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Woods Hole Film Festival

So the other day I was talking to my editor (ha! I love saying that! as if!) and he offered me a press pass to the Woods Hole Film Festival.

Woods Hole. Film Festival. Press Pass.

Do you have any idea what these words do to the heart of a pretentious poser wanna be writer such as myself? Good gravy. Let's review.

Woods Hole. Every time I go I want to chain myself to a tree and refuse to budge. I love it so much. It's like they took a college campus - one with extra-smart people - and put it in a harbor town. Okay, it's not LIKE that. That's actually what they did. Professorial-types in flip flops and community bulletin boards with everything in the world you'd ever want to do. And every where you look there's boats and water ways and places to get coffee. Oh it is sheer heaven.

Film Festival. I know NOT ONE IOTA about film but I know that it is way classier than "movies." Wait, I take that back. I took a french film class in college because I was massively pretentious even then. I am deep. I am worldly. I watch films. At the film festival I get to hobnob with the directors and then attend very brainy Q&As. Look at me, directors - I have a PRESS PASS! I am smart like you! Which brings us to

Press Pass. Oh the rush of sheer joy to be admitted graciously wherever my whim takes me. Having a press pass dangling from around my neck is Reckless Power. No one has any idea who I am (same as usual) except now they think I might be SOMEBODY. Because I have this plastic thing hanging around my neck, see?

Having said all that, I didn't plan to go. I just wanted to tell everyone I had a press pass to the Woods Hole Film Festival. That should just about do it, right? Because the whole point is that I could go if I wanted to. And I would want to if I could get out of my own way. But there's the picking up of the pass and the getting a sitter and the studying of the films to pick a day and then finally, the coup de grace, finding parking. The very thought of looking for parking usually makes me turn right around and go back to bed.

And that's how it would have gone down if my bluff hadn't been called by the very first friend I gloated to. She picked a night, chose the films, lined up a restaurant and asked if I had a sitter yet. So I lined up a sitter.

Today I picked up the pass from my editor (ha!) and he handed me my paycheck. A paycheck. They paid me to write columns that are exactly as well-researched and literarily lofty as what you are reading RIGHT NOW. Seriously, what is the world coming to? Am I dead? Is this heaven?

And then I asked him about parking. His response was, "Pray. And bring quarters." So I did both.

Meanwhile, the friend who made me do all this stuff and is the reason I was no longer on the couch in my pajamas, has bailed. It was a progressive bail, so I didn't really have a chance to go back to bed. First it was "hopefully the babysitter will have stopped barfing by this afternoon." And then it was "nope, maybe in time for dinner." And finally "9pm? maybe in time for the 9pm show?"

But really, by then I had gotten all "I am OUT OF THE HOUSE!" and was not looking back. I found free parking (free parking!) and scouted out the restaurant she had suggested (Quicks Hole). It turned out to be quick and cheap and there I was with my paycheck burning a hole in my Intrepid Reporter's Messenger Bag, so I went to Pie in the Sky afterward for a cannoli and coffee.

That's really where I want to chain myself. I could stay there forever. And would have if it weren't for those darned films.

The first one I saw was Killer Poet. I was going to say that the best thing about going was getting inside a restricted Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute building, but then I saw the film and deemed it even better than WHOI access. I won't ruin it by telling you about it (not that I'd ruin the plot, just that I'd defile it somehow), but I will say that during the Q&A afterward the director, Susan Gray, mentioned that Norman Porter had just gotten a tv in his maximum security cell and he was watching lots of PBS.

Then I walked out, in a fog of highbrow ecstacy, and there in front of me was a jazz quartet playing on the porch of a coffee shop. Woods Hole, I dig you so.

I was torn - stay and listen to jazz? Go to next viewing? I was afraid I had already had too much coffee (is it obvious?) so I chose to wander down the street, where I was smilingly ushered in to see four short films from the UK.

I must admit that I left after two because I loved them (but not as much as Norman Porter and cannoli) and I was afraid that if I stayed for the last two I might implode. There is a point when every perfect event should end, and this was it.

Besides, I want to ease into this press thing gently. I don't want to intimidate anyone by my intellectual analysis of short works. I will save that for next year, when I write my own documentary on finessing free parking. Anyone need any quarters?