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

Friday, October 31, 2008

boo!

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

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

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

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

Things have changed, right?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

scouting wifi

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

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

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

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

Is it time for lunch yet?

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

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

And with that, I leave you to your day.

Monday, October 27, 2008

feeling flush

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

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

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

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

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

(Lest you think I was making this up.)

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

Chicken Update

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

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

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

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

Behold, her baby picture.

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

Sunday, October 26, 2008

missing

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

She has joined the circus.

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 25, 2008

dirty drive

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

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

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

---

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

Thursday, October 23, 2008

in which I make the big time

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wellfleet OysterFest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

And then we slept like reveling oysters. The end.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

abundance

We had every intention of going to the Wellfleet Oyster festival today, but were derailed by the sweet, sweet promise of apple picking.

A couple years ago I asked everyone I knew where there was apple picking. The universal verdict was that you had to go to an orchard off Cape. There simply were no orchards on the Cape, period. It turns out all those people lied. But here's the rub: I can't tell them they were wrong because I can't tell them where this orchard is. It is not only private, but I have no idea how I got there.

Yesterday I was talking to a friend of mine who apparently has the corner on the local fruit market. He got me an invitation to the farm, so we dropped everything and went today. We got ridiculously lost because if you look it up on the map it appears on the wrong street entirely. It's like if you're walking down a city block and you can't find the address you're looking for because the street numbers jump. So you call your friend and he says "oh, turn down that alley and go a couple miles." It's like an IQ test for apple pickers.

I don't know what the farm is called because there are no signs. But the woman who greeted me was nice as could be and took me on a tour, which made me feel less like I was about to find myself in an episode of Twin Peaks. She told me which kinds of trees were which and what each apple was best for. We stocked up on the Matsus which were the size of small cantaloupes and reputed to be good for baking. We also got a bunch of these cute little dark red apples which are sweet and delicious - perfect for showing off in a school lunch box. I tried to remember what all the others were called, but got distracted by all those shiny apples hanging deliciously close to my awaiting Trader Joe's bags, while visions of applesauce danced round my head.

So basically, I have no idea where I was or what I was picking. Although I did recognize raspberries. We were shown the raspberry bushes and were invited to sample some. Does eating raspberries by the fistful constitute sampling?

On our way out, our host held up a little paper lantern and asked if we had ever tried them. I really wanted to be her new best friend and so it pained me to admit total ignorance. She peeled off the paper husk to reveal the tiniest tomatillo I've ever seen. She lets us each try one and when we like them, she handed us a pint.

I had heard she accepted donations for apple picking, so I gave her what seemed like the right amount (based on what we'd heard from our friends). On the way home I thought about what I had spent and tried to visualize what was in the trunk of my car in terms of paper bags at the produce store. Curious, I weighed the apples when we got home.

We picked 35 pounds of apples. I think I owe her a larger donation.

Lucy and I set to work once we got home. She sliced and peeled while I boiled things. We made two jars of apple sauce and four little jars of apple butter. And then we made my aunt's apple crumb cake. I sent a text to Chris (who was at OysterFest like a good little townie): "35lbs of apples. Bring ice cream."

It doesn't look like we've even touched the bags of apples. They look so innocent, sitting in the corner of the kitchen. How could I have gone that completely overboard? I mean, besides the fact that there were trees and trees, DRIPPING with organic apples, pleading with me to take them home.

There will be more applesauce. There will be more pies and some cobbler. There will be apples in every lunchbox between now and Easter.

So, New Orchard Friend, whoever and wherever you are, thank you. We put the tomatillos in a black bean, corn and avocado salad and managed to save 5 for seeds. Will you tell us how to grow them, please?

And does anyone out there have a great apple recipe?

Monday, October 13, 2008

lennonfest

When I asked a friend of mine to babysit Studley while I took Lucy to the faux Beatles concert, she declined because she was playing a gig at Leninfest. Or at least that's what I heard. Since I had not been to the faux Beatles concert yet, I wasn't in the Lennon swing.

I heard Lenin and wondered what it was all about but then put all the pieces together and the next thing I was nodding and saying to myself, well of course. Because it was Columbus Day weekend and when I was in Moscow there was a whole lot of hoopla about a sculpture said to depict Columbus discovering the New World. That's us.

The sculpture was originally of Columbus, the story goes, but then was tweaked to become Peter the Great to accommodate a different market. I guess the New World didn't want it, so it was pitched to someone else.

The BBC says "the sculpture is the work of the controversial artist Zurab Tsereteli and has been described using words such as strange, unusual, unique, horrendous, awful and soul-searingly hideous."

Soul-searingly hideous. I am so sad it was not on our tour (I think it was still just a twinkle in Moscow's frenetically blinking eye when I was there).

Meanwhile, I missed Lennonfest because I was watching a fake John Lennon sing "Imagine." My friends were supposed to sing "Because" at the festival but couldn't because things in festival land went horribly awry. It's too bad because their version of "Because" makes me cry. In a good way. Not in a soul-searingly hideous way.

I remember quite vividly when Lennon was shot. I had been babysitting a family whose daugher really probably was named after Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and was systematically taping their entire collection of Beatles albums. Let's face it, taping albums was pretty much my whole reason for babysitting. If I were babysitting today, I'd be the one with a removable hard drive in my backpack and I'd never have to book a repeat gig at the same house. Some of the people I babysat for listened to awesome music. Anna and Aaron, you're cute and all but your parents' Frank Zappa collection is the real reason I seemed so excited to come babysit you.

So I had JUST figured out who John Lennon was, and then he was gone. I felt quite cheated, really.

Next year, I'm going to his festival in Falmouth. Or I'll go see the sculpture in Moscow. With a little more tweaking, it could totally be him.

click on image for glorious detail

but I still don't like musical theater

In the last post, I mentioned having a Clash song (London Calling) stuck in my head as I waited for a symphony performance to start. Because writing something down makes one think about things longer than they often deserve, I've since been hung up on this musical oddity which is my brain's playlist. Where does this tendency to cross genres come from?

There is a simple answer to this question: It's Duane Rosengard's fault.

When I was a teenager my family lived near a summer music camp. College students from all over the country auditioned to be in this summer orchestra, the Colorado Philharmonic. They stayed in a rustic lodge and performed three days a week. They were very dedicated musicians, but they were college students and spent a lot of time listening to music and partying.

My parents were heavily involved in this orchestra and my sister and I went to nearly all of their concerts. We also hung out a bit at the lodge, where I was introduced to music like King Crimson, Devo, the Talking Heads, the Police and oh so much more. I also remember listening to Salome with Michael Gast (now principal french horn at the Minnesota Orchestra) and understanding opera for the first time. So in one room you'd hear the B52's and in another room you'd hear a cellist practicing Respighi. See? This is normal.

I remember Duane specifically because he hooked me up with some new music my senior year of high school. He's now playing with the Philadelphia Orchestra (according to a bit of internet stalking). He was also doing some songwriting back then - making him the first person I knew who wrote music.

Every once in a while I'll be listening to the classical station and will recognize the name of a soloist as someone I knew from Colorado. Really, there were amazing musicians in that orchestra. And delightful human beings. Who wouldn't want to grow up and be like them?

Except I can't play so much as a zither, so I have to settle for listening to the music they listen to.

And Duane, if by some bizarre coincidence you find this post, thanks.

(Sorry for the internet stalking.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

because

"Phoney beatlemania's bitten the dust."

I had that Clash song stuck in my head this afternoon, until it was removed by the Yellow Submarine.

Today Lucy, my mother and I went to see the Cape Symphony's tribute to the Beatles, featuring the original cast members of Beatlemania. No, Lucy is not named after Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds any more than Studley is named after Studley Road in Yarmouth. Still, she likes the song and he likes the road and, well, who can resist seeing four men pretend they are the Beatles?

A few songs into it I got to thinking that if everyone just listened to more Beatles music, we'd get out of this economic mess, end all wars and live in peace and harmony, amen. With songs like "All You Need is Love," "Here Comes the Sun" and "With a Little Help From My Friends," how can you be mad at anybody? Besides, who doesn't like the Beatles?

Other than my mother, I mean. At the intermission she said "I managed to avoid this back then." She looked as though she was deciding between staying for the second half or going to the car and sticking herself with a fork repeatedly. It seemed to be a toss up. Then the lights went down and she is too polite to excuse herself once the performance starts, so she opted against the fork. She was sitting a couple rows behind us, which was too bad because I would love to have seen her face when the man playing John Lennon reappeared with shoulder length hair, while a peace sign lit up behind the orchestra. I'm sure it made a hit. I of course loved it, but I wasn't sure how all this was going over with the Talbots crowd.

Honestly, I was surprised at how overwhelmingly well it was received. There were hardly any kids there - mostly the usual Cape Symphony subscription people. Even so, the way they were acting I expected to see a bunch of cigarette lighters waving at the end. They rocked out. Next month at La Mer, they will pretend they never twisted, shouted and worked it all out. What happens at Classical Mystery Tour stays at Classical Mystery Tour.

I was just talking yesterday with a friend who works with non-profit arts organizations. That's redundant, isn't it? Her theory is that parents are taking their kids to more cultural events to make up for funding cuts in the schools. This may be true, but we are taking our kids to symphony, museums and ballet for purely selfish reasons. We like these things and get a kick out of seeing our kids enjoy it. I have no expectations that my children will or should receive an education including the workings of a symphony orchestra at school. But I do feel somewhat justified in pulling them out of school for a cultural blitz at the MFA, or the Museum of Science or whatever is tickling my fancy at the moment.

Do not for one moment confuse this with home schooling. We have realized we're completely incompetent and will only trust the schooling of our children to trained professionals. Studley has become a different person since starting school in September. How is that possible? We teach him things. We read to him. We give him small electric shocks when he's underperforming. But there's something about being at school that's put a fire under him. He comes home every darn day with something new to tell me. And Lucy's walking around singing ob-la-di ob-la-da, which will certainly serve her well somewhere on down the line. And we will congratulate ourselves for a job well done.

Now please go listen to more Beatles music so the world can live as one, okay?

---

bonus trout towerness: if you are in the market for a cd that covers Beatles songs, I cannot urge you strongly enough to buy this one. Why? Because it features several songs recorded here at the towers PLUS a song by the musician who put up the cedar clapboard in our shower AND a song by the musician who did not come to dinner. What more could you possibly want in a tribute cd?

edited to add: I was just reminded that a resident of the Penthouse at Trout Towers played as a session musician on one of the tracks. We've always considered Trout Towers a full service recording facility (we provide babysitting and sometimes cookies), and now we boast a session musician on the premises.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Studley Dooright's Birthday Bash

Studley suffers from Youngest Child Syndrome, specifically, there are hardly any pictures of him and we sometimes forget he's here. Also, his birthday is two weeks after Lucy's and let's face it, we've been practicing the girl birthday thing for a few years now and are just getting good at it. We are also TIRED when it comes time to throw a birthday party two weeks later, for a small boy whose friends are still the children of my friends, whose names he may or may not know. He doesn't start clammoring for a themed party with a carefully crafted guest list 51 weeks in advance of his actual birthday, like his sister does, and although I dislike the henpecking, it does tend to work. Therefore, she gets the Cinderella Ball and he gets hosed.

Until now! This year Studley had a kids' band, as well as a few bands for the grown ups at his party. There was face painting, a bouncey house and pony rides. It is safe to say, we completely rock as parents and will be filling Studley's photo albums with pictures of him and his friends having the time of their lives.

Are you wondering if you just stumbled onto the wrong blog?

Here's the deal. I planned a small gathering at my house, but then was told by one of the moms that the Yarmouth Seaside Festival was the same day. I had never heard of this festival, but when she suggested we have the party there, I was completely on board. Nice of Yarmouth to throw such a nice party for Studley, don't you think? Especially when we don't even live there. We watched the kids show and then had a picnic and cake (I even remembered the matches and in pretty much all the cake photos the box of matches are prominently placed within easy reach of all the toddlers. Yay me!). Then there were rides and games and ABSOLUTELY NO CLEANUP WHATSOEVER. Genius, I tell you.

Especially because I woke up this morning feeling like a truck had hit me and could not fathom having company. Don't even start feeling sorry for me. I felt that way because I was out way too late last night with the girls. We went to a restaurant in Boston called Mantra and then on to Boston Ballet for A Festival of Stars or some such hoopla.

At dinner we were presented with a demi tasse of pumpkin soup with a drizzle of pumpkin oil, declared an amuse-bouche by the server. The server was the most charming human being alive and when he divulged that he had not tried the filet mignon because he's Hindu, I made a mental note to become Hindu first thing Monday morning. Also, his girlfriend is an opera singer. I have a crush on them both.

I'm not going to go on and on about the ballet, but I will tell you quite honestly that I gasped, wept, and involuntarily shouted "wooooooot!" in turns throughout the performance. I was not asked to leave, despite the presence of the artistic director, Mikko Nissinen, two rows in front of us. Hi, Mikko!

And now you're all "you are a spoiled, horrible person, how is it that I ever even THOUGHT about feeling sorry for you?" and just to get you back on track, this is what I woke up to:

That's our dining room, with the walls torn down. And sure, it's just one room, but the rest of the house is acting as overflow during the renovation, so pretty much all the rooms are torn apart. And Studley keeps dumping Cheerios in his wake. And the cat apparently ate a bad mouse. I will not go into details on that other than saying that I again gasped and wept, but not in a good way this time.

Other than that? Things are perfect!

So last night I'm happy as a lark, being all cultered and coiffed and singing the praises of all of God's creation and then the next morning life could not be more abysmal. I am not bi-polar. My life is.

In short, today would have been a VERY BAD day to have friends over, so it's good the town of Yarmouth likes Studley enough to throw him a huge birthday bash. They like him so much, in fact, they named a street after him.

I'm thinking of stealing the sign for his room but since his name isn't actually Studley, he might be confused. Wouldn't it make a great police report, though? "Mother of two caught stealing studley street sign." Because you just know I'd get caught. Maybe I'll go back to being the uptight spoiled version of me and commission a replica. Complete with faux rust.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

cookie tossing

My friend's mom takes a kickboxing class. According to her, one of the classes was so hard and fabulous it made her throw up. Which is not my idea of fabulous, but whatever.

So imagine my surprise when the dance class I was taking was so hard and fabulous it made ME feel like throwing up. I do not take classes which require that kind of exertion. I just don't. It's, you know, too much work. I left the class and sat by the front desk, while the other women watched me clutch my stomach and as a unit came to the conclusion that I'm pregnant. And all I can say is, thank goodness it's not up to them.

I'm just queasy and all that turning and jumping is NOT HELPING, despite the protestations of my teacher that the more you turn the less dizzy you get.

I'm not pregnant, it's just that sometimes my life makes me feel like throwing up. It's not its fault. My life is trying the best it can. But sometimes it can't keep up.

Mornings have been especially rough lately. Lucy's decided she's a teenager and will not wake up until the last possible minute. Mom, if you happen to be reading this, I'm sorry about all those times I didn't get up for school (and all the talk of throwing up - so unladylike). And I've been remiss in my evening duties so I scurry around like mad in the morning, making the lunches that should have been made the night before. The robot vacuum does not make lunches, as it turns out. In short, mornings are atrocious. I pull out of the driveway late and in a state of nervous collapse, carrying two lunch boxes, two school bags, a change of clothes, after school sport bags, a computer and my lunch. I shove it all in the car and close the door quickly so nothing spills out.

I close the door so quickly that sometimes I forget something. The other morning I was driving along and out of the corner of my eye I noticed Studley standing up in the back seat. Failing to buckle child into carseat = huge maternal failing. To which I say, at least I didn't leave him on the roof of the car.

Ahahahaha! Chris just this minute called me out to the dining room so I could nod in approval at the GAPING HOLES WHERE THE DRYWALL USED TO BE. The walls there are beyond all hope and need to be replaced. He's ripping down the old sheet rock with a crowbar and will, hopefully soon, replace it with new sheetrock and a nice fluffy layer of insulation (not in that order). What's the difference between sheetrock and drywall?

It's not all atrociousness and upheaval (no pun intended). We've been downstairs a month now and are pleased pleased pleased with the way things are shaping up (minus the gaping holes). We also love our upstairs neighbors and cannot believe a) they've been here a month already, and b) that they haven't always been here.

And we have a new client that we have a big professional crush on. They are forging ahead in a field that tickles us pink and we're delighted to be on board. It kind of makes us giggle. Professionally.

And our chickens are finally getting some feathers where once there were none, so I don't have to knit them bottom-warmers when the weather turns cold. It was keeping me up nights with worry. For more on my naked chickens, I invite you to visit Kristen's Q&A on her blog, Going Country. My questions are after the break. Yet another reason to love the internet - answers to weird chicken questions.

So yes, the world is fairly stomach-churning right now and I suppose it's no wonder if we find ourselves a little woozy from time to time. I think all we can do is know that truly madly deeply, all is well. And at the end of the day, no one was left on the roof of the car.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

tonight: nightmares of being eaten by a snake

I thought of you all today. I thought of you because if it weren't for you I wouldn't have even dreamed of putting myself in the middle of a bunch of poison ivy and... hey, what's that sound? That rustling sound? Gah! Snakes!

One year to the day after posting this, I went back for more cranberries in the feral bog across the street. It wasn't on purpose, and I only noticed the date now when I went digging around for the link. But yesterday before dinner I realized I had a few extra minutes so I went crashing through the brambles and into the bog to poach some cranberries.

When I went last year, solely for the purpose of reporting my findings to you lovely people, I only found a few (a beach pail full, according to my report). This year, I was gone for ten minutes and picked at least that much. And then the gluttony kicked in and I went back this morning.

Mornings in the bog are quite different than evenings. Mostly because I've never seen snakes in the evenings. I heard the telltale rustle a couple times and then finally did see a snake chasing a vole. I wasn't sure if I should rustle more loudly, in order to define myself as a possible predator, or be as quiet as, er, maybe not as quiet as a mouse. I rustled loudly. And I picked a lot of cranberries.

So if you are on my Christmas list, you are getting cranberry sauce this year. And before you get all harumphy and "what? just a jar of cranberry sauce?!?" please bear in mind that there were snakes and poison ivy and bees and maybe some rabid coyotes involved, which is almost like the mall. I braved them all for you and the sauce (assuming I remember to make it).

I wanted to take the kids cranberry picking with me because please, how perfectly perfect is that? Autumn on Cape Cod, picking cranberries? This is the stuff of childhood memories - except childhood memories are usually more like "remember the time we threw Studley's shoes out the car window on Route 6 and you LOST YOUR MIND?" And so if I did go to all the trouble of cutting back all the brambles so there was a safe path and if I did wrap the kids from head to toe with anti-poison-ivy garb, they would still remember it as the time I dragged them across the street and threatened to let the snakes eat them if they didn't pick fast enough.

Which is not a terrible idea. Anyone else have childhood memories that went terribly wrong? We're looking for some activities for the long weekend.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

got a robot vacuum

Fred thinks this should be the Trout Towers theme song (or at least should run during the opening credits).



Thanks, Fred!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

brushing up on my Swedish

Today I felt like I was in an Ikea commercial. Being in Ikea probably added to that sensation somewhat, but really it was the attractive young couples that made it seem so staged. There they were, holding hands and looking all hip and mod and newly married. Sitting on sofas and measuring tables. Consulting over cupboards. It was appalling. How on earth did those women get the men to go shopping with them? And feign interest? It's beyond me, truly.

I took Chris because I needed help carrying things to the car. Also I needed him to okay some light fixture purchases, so we wouldn't need to have an electrician on retainer to install our $4.99 lights. I have a knack for picking out lights that require rewiring the entire house. And for the record, what's with $4.99 light fixtures? We had gone to a local lighting store to get some ideas and only found things we didn't like very much for closer to $40. Chris and I looked at each other in Ikea like "well of course we have to buy them what are you waiting for?"

We also got all the shelves and mirrors and towel bars and hooks we can possibly jam into our bathroom. We got it in a dark wood so it looks like our cedar clapboard shower is cedar clapboarded on purpose. Wait. Spellcheck, what do you mean "clapboarded" is a real word?

Yes, our shower has clapboard where there should be tile. It's, er, a FEATURE. I am not sure when it seemed like a good idea to make our shower look like a sauna/outhouse/outdoor shower, but there you have it. A shower with wood walls. Feel my pain. But I am very good at acting like there is nothing wrong (when I feel like it), and so I am trying to make the bathroom look intentional. I am not sure how to tie in the buckling linoleum, but give me time and I'll work it out.

Meanwhile, back at Ikea, we are throwing sets of sheets in our cart like there's no tomorrow. Studley's been sleeping on a set of Lucy's sheets and although they are not techinically pink, I don't think mauve qualifies as a boy's color. We also bought more white linens for our bed because we are still intent on recreating the beds from Lost in Translation - despite the fact that we have to replace the whites frequently because apparently Chris likes to roll in dirt before coming to bed.

Did you hear that, lovely newlyweds with interest-feigning husbands? Get the dark couch because your husbands will commence rolling in dirt as soon as the ink is dry on that marriage certificate.

And speaking of marital bliss, I began questioning ours when I noticed Chris seriously eyeing some shelving and cabinets that wouldn't fit anywhere in our house. I started to think he was planning to get a bachelor pad in Cambridge. Suddenly he was a little TOO interested in the offerings of Ikea. Opening cupboards, measuring doors.

"Do you know where I want to put this?" he asked. I am not prepared to have this conversation in the middle of Ikea, surrounded by newlywed shoppers.

"Uh, where?"

"In the truck!" I have never in my life been so happy to hear a hairbrained idea regarding his truck. And to his credit, the cupboards would look fab in the truck. I thought the floating oak floor was a bit much, though.

We did not get anything for the truck, but we got heaps of other stuff and then limped to the check-out lines. Chris reminded me of how much I said we'd spend when I talked him into going and we both eyed the cart in a "time to get a second job" sort of way. We had hardware for our kitchen cupboards, lights for three rooms, sheets galore, bathroom whatnot and some things I've already forgotten about.

We came in WAY under budget. And then that "I think I'm in a commercial" feeling cropped up again. I'm pretty sure I recall an Ikea ad wherein a woman is telling her friend to help her load the stuff and step on it because they made a big mistake at the register. I felt that way. Surely there was a mistake? I can spend more than that on socks at Target.

And then we got home and Chris started making shelves while I sat nearby and told him what he was doing wrong. I can't help but wonder how all the other people are fairing with their some-assembly-required hauls. For richer, for poorer, for preassembled, for unassembled.

Anyone have any tips on putting this stuff together?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

every old sock meets an old shoe

Iss came downstairs this afternoon because she cannot resist the temptation of hanging pink lanterns in trees and tying organza bows on anything that doesn't move out of the way. She is nice to have around.

As we were decorating for Lucy's party, Iss caught sight of the soundboard tucked discretely into the corner of our dining room. Orange cables led from it to big speakers on stands in the garden. I use the term "garden" loosely.

I had asked Chris to put some speakers outside so I could hook up my iPod and play music appropriate for a Cinderella Ball. Instead, I got a full-fledged p.a. system. I am not sure what a Cinderella Ball playlist entails, mind you, so I included Weezer's "Island in the Sun" in the mix. I think that would have endeared Cinderella to the Prince even more. And the Prince and Cinderella would have lived happily ever....

"You two are made for each other," says Iss, still looking at the uber-dorky sound setup. I turn on her.

"Take that back!"

She says nothing, but points to the coffee pot I've set up next to the soundboard. It is, maybe, a trifle over the top. It is not my fault.

I like it when you go to a kid's party and there's a little something for the parents - something not made with strawberry fluff and something which may be scalding hot and containing caffeine. I think it's a nice gesture. But I use a french press and I would have spent the whole day in the kitchen filling orders, so I called Cape Cup and asked if they sold hot pots to go.

They do. So I scurried over, and picked one up:


It's two feet tall and holds 17 cups of coffee. Delicious, organic, locally roasted, Sumatra coffee. It is the coffee equivalent of Chris' speaker setup.

In our defense, these quirky things make a big difference. I was feeling a little like we weren't giving it proper effort as we set up for the party this morning. Then Chris put up the speakers and queued a playlist and it completely changed our yard. Suddenly, our yard was a place I'd like to hang out in. It reminded me of Lucy's third birthday, at the end of which we put her to bed and then collapsed in the yard and listened to music (the overkill speakers go outside with regularity). Like the chickens, music makes the whole house make sense.

We do not yet have a stereo hooked up inside. Chris promises me there will be a properly wired system (from which no cables will be pirated) once the livingroom shelves are painted.

We shall see. He's still my uberdork and I wouldn't put it past him to wire it through the lawn mower. Or maybe a Gaggia espresso machine, if I'm lucky.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

getting my goat. or not.

I got mail! I just received an email through the paper I write for, from someone in Vermont who's offering to loan me a goat. And I'm wondering, can she make it here by the weekend? Because we are planning a party and although we're unlikely to have pony rides, a goat would be a big hit.

What I really want to do is let it eat the honeysuckle in the back yard. It's also a milk goat, which means I can make goat cheese - something I've wanted to do for ages (okay, since last summer when I heard mere mortals can make such things). So really, I should get my own goat, since maybe you can't get a gallon of milk from a goat who's just in town for the afternoon. Except if I got my own goat I'd have to milk it myself and I'm not sure I'm ready to go there. I talk a good line but I am A BIG PANSY. If this is Green Acres, I'm Eva Gabor.

Can you take goats for walks? I would dig that. We could take it for walks on the bike path and be the talk of the town. And if we have a goat here in time for the party, are goats willing to be dressed as Cinderella?

Yes, it's time for Lucy's birthday party again. I know, you're still recovering from last year, when I threatened to turn you all into newts with a flick of the fairy wands I made as Lovely Parting Gifts. There are no wands this year. There are also no nervous breakdowns, and I owe this in large part to you.

The house is in pieces and there is junk heaped on the porch - in limbo between coming back in or heading to the dump. There are people coming who I've never met. There are people with very, very lovely homes and impeccably appointed lives. And you know what? I'm not worried. Somehow, between last year and now, I've come to realize that this is an awesome place. We have a nice family, a rocking cupcake recipe and some very attractive chickens. What is not to love about us? I've gotten such nice feedback from you, and you've been so patient with my this-is-my-life-GAH! outbursts, I'm really starting to believe the hype.

Because when it comes down to it, lives speak louder than lawns.

So. We will have chickens wandering like minstrels across the grass. We will have ribbons in the trees. We will have Amy Sedaris' cupcakes with pink icing. We will have a clear path through the house to the bathroom (do not look right or left or you will turn into a pillar of salt!). And we will not need a sedative at the end of the day.

I'm really okay with that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

up-and-coming recording artist, my eye

Dear New Friends,

We are totally onto you. We know you set up last night's dinner because you wanted to see Trout Towers for yourselves and possibly go home and feel all happy that you are not taking on a home improvement project that approaches the girth and mass of ours. Most people feel that way. Most people, I believe, try not to be living in the house when they tear bits of it down around themselves. At this very moment, Chris is in the dining room, surrounded by pieces of ceiling. Yes, the dining room where we served at least part of our dinner. It would have been hard to fit us all in a room together, what with the shop vac and the construction-sized trash barrels sharing the space. These are things everyone has in their dining room, no? And now the dining room is in the shop vac and trash barrel. It's a lesson in non-duality.

We are onto you and if you try to reschedule another "recording artist meet and greet," we will be checking your references. Also, if you don't know any actual recording artists to bring with you, you should hire a stunt double so it looks more convincing. This artist no-show thing is ridiculous. After all, musicians are the most reliable people we know and always show up when they say they're going to. We set our clocks by them.

Which may be why we're late to everything, but that's a different story.

Here's what we did to prepare for your visit. Chris took a truck full of debris to the dump. He took so much stuff in this load that we worried for his suspension. We also vacuumed our dining and livingroom floors for the first time since moving in. After all, what's the point of doing it more frequently? Our floors are just going to get more bits of house sprinkled all over them. Sometimes we send Jessica II into the kitchen, but we think she's maybe contacting her union representative in protest. This is definitely not what she signed on for.

We tackled some of those trouble spots we've ceased to see - such as the pile of drop cloths on the floor next to the coffee maker. They were there because they were useless - pillowcases do not make good drop clothes, nor do fitted sheets. Fitted sheets are good for getting paint on the bottom of your shoes. The drop cloths that are currently in circulation? We stuffed those under the couch. We hope you didn't notice

I bet you didn't notice the big hole that used to be in our living room wall and was covered for years with a piece of white paper and some thumbtacks. You didn't notice it because Chris is now a drywall super freak. Need anything patched? He's your man. Wish him luck with the ceiling.

Oh, and Lucy's glad you liked her onion dip. She made it by dicing a vidalia onion with a very sharp knife the length of her arm (maybe I should help with that in the future?) and mixing it with two cups of grated cheese and 3/4 cup of mayonnaise. She put it in the mini crock pot I gave her for her birthday, but you can also put it in the oven until it's all melty. Yes, I gave her a crock pot for her birthday. She has absolutely no idea what oddballs we are and thinks this kind of thing is normal. Please do not advise otherwise.

So, we're onto you. We're onto you, but we'd love for you to come by anytime you want. That is, after all, what Trout Towers is all about. Drop cloths and all.