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

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Yule for Fuel

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

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

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

Friday, November 28, 2008

the secret lives of freshwater fish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 27, 2008

of turkeys and trout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

morning glory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Joe Strummer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 24, 2008

progress report

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 23, 2008

the sound of one blog yapping

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 20, 2008

endowment for the arts

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Hurler

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


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

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

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

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nancy Craig

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

For an abbreviated version, check out this slideshow.

photo: Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Sunday, November 16, 2008

passive aggression - 1, Chris - 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not, in other words, NPR.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

trading places

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 14, 2008

when artificial intelligence reincarnates

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 13, 2008

flowers from Studley

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

"Celery!" he pronounced.

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

oh hi, you must be the Joneses

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

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

"Totally unsanitary."

"Calls from the neighbors."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's the bane of my compatriots.

(queue pep talk)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

chicken perambulator

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

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

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

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

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

My life. It is so glamorous, no?

Monday, November 10, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 8, 2008

atomic perks

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 7, 2008

transgender guinea pig

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free to good home.

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


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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Evening at the Towers

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

and now for something completely different

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


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

November 4!

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

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

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

Monday, November 3, 2008


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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pretentia goes to the symphony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 1, 2008

home ec

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tips? Tricks?