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

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

chaos theory

You wouldn't know it from looking at my house, but I do not handle chaos well. Which is too bad, really.

People who thrive in chaos can be so darn creative. They're not always trying to rein it in and are happier living right on the edge. Musicians, artists, entrepreneurs - they often do well in chaotic conditions.

We were talking today about ski instructors. My friend overheard a discussion about the merits of teaching kids to ski in control versus teaching them to go for it. If they are taught to always be in control, will they have what it takes to tackle the extremes?

In dance, and in art, I've always felt that mastering technique first is the way to do it. Then you can go wherever the spirit moves you with a solid foundation under you. Picasso, for example, did this. Talk about skiing the extremes.

For the last 9 months I've been writing for a paper that skis the extremes. It's been a wild ride and I've loved pretty much every minute of it. But when it comes right down to it, I can't handle the chaos. Some people love having a whole pile of balls in the air and get a kick out of juggling them. Me? I just see a bunch of things about to fall on my head.

I have just broken up with an inanimate object and I feel a little wrung out. Wrung out, but finally back in control. And I think it's going to be okay.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jiri Kylian

Because she is such a good friend, Mrs. Greenjeans gave me a subscription to Boston Ballet for my birthday. And because I, too, am a good friend, I gave her a subscription to Boston Ballet for her birthday. Upon conducting the usual audits of our cultural expenditures, our husbands did not know what to make of this accounting. We are awesome that way.

One of the ballets in our subscription was on Valentine's Day. Although we are very good friends, we didn't think it right to go out together on Valentine's and leave our husbands home with the kids. Not after YEARS of pecking at those same husbands to keep us in mind on the 14th of February. Even if we got them flowers before we went.

And then we had the super genius idea of getting extra tickets and taking the husbands to the ballet for Valentine's. How romantic! Lucky for them, we did enough preliminary fact-checking to see that this was maybe not the one for them. So we changed our tickets to a different night (same program).

The performance was Jiri Kylian's Black & White, a series of 5 ballets, and boy howdy are we glad we didn't bring the husbands.

It was apparent early on that we had made the right decision. I spent the first ballet giggling quietly to myself about how my friend's husband would have loathed it. Mine would have been fine. I felt superior for him. And then, hahahaha! There was one in which all the male dancers had their pants around their ankles. I do not happen to be kidding. Chris would have made me pinky swear that I'd never make him go to another ballet again as long as we both lived so help me God. At first it was fine and then the soloist.... Oh. It was one of those things where I think I'm pretty open minded... and he wasn't doing anything WRONG, and yet I couldn't help but think I should avert my gaze. Which I couldn't.

Fine for us. Not so fine for the husbands.

Jiri Kylian is amazing. These ballets are like watching Henry Moore sculptures come to life. But thinner. Four out of the five ballets were practically disanthropomorphic. It reminded me at one point of a film we saw at the Hirshhorn, in which all these black tops were spinning on a stage. The tops would come and go and fall over and wander around and after awhile, they seemed almost human. It was like that, except opposite.

It was one of those nights where I could not believe my good fortune to be exactly where I was. I almost hate to tell you about it because let's face it, I don't think Black & White shows up that often in company repertoire and it's probably the last time I'll ever get to see it.

Outside of YouTube, that is. I could watch Jiri Kylian clips all day. He is a genius and I absolutely cannot wrap my head around how he choreographs these ballets. Not that I can usually, but these were exceptionally head-exploding. (I am so sophisticated, no? I am sure Boston Ballet will pick up this review and include it in their next mailing. Watch for it.)

This is part of one we saw, Petite Mort:

Friday, February 20, 2009

the sins of the father

Lucy was just rifling through the 17 kinds of pickles in the fridge, not finding what she was looking for. Thinking she was being Awfully Darn Picky, I asked what it was she needed.

"I want the ones you made," she said.

And this made me realize two things.

1) I have a pickle problem (I have a feeling this observation will score me some comments)
2) I have the children my mother wanted

Mom was always making homemade versions of the things we liked. Turkey soup comes to mind. My sister and I begged her to please just feed us Campbell's when she did this. There was pretty much nothing mom could make that we didn't complain about and request the processed versions of. Sorry, mom. I'm sure the soup was delicious.

The other day at lunch, Lucy told me that she and daddy had noticed that our ketchup was two years out of date. And then she said, "can we make our own? With our tomatoes? I bet we'd eat it faster."

I cannot in polite words describe what my sister and I would have done if mom tried to foist homemade ketchup on us.

Also, my kids have an appreciation for symphony and opera, something my mom prayed for nightly when we were kids. The difference here is that I go to symphony and opera to get away from my children. And they beg to go with me. And then they sit quietly, making me squirm with the horror of my own misbehavior at ages more advanced than theirs. They are making me look bad.

It could only possibly be worse if both kids pick up instruments and then beg us to learn an instrument so we can play quartets after dinner. At which point my mother will disown me and adopt my children.

And play chamber music. While eating homemade turkey soup.

Eventually you get what you pray for.

edited to add: Lucy just asked if she could please have the heel piece of bread. There is something wrong with that child.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

wheels are turning

I work for several different people and am lucky enough to like them all. Actually, luck has nothing to do with it. I have a very strict application process that is really more like an audition.

Anyway. One of my newer clients is absolutely dreamy to work for. I send him an idea and he sends it back with specific suggestions and changes. I make them. He tweaks them. I send a final. We high five.

The thing that is so dreamy about him is he knows, and asks for, exactly what he wants. I need to be more like that.

I grew up thinking it was wrong to ask for what you want. That it was somehow inappropriate. Indelicate.

Not asking for what you want makes it really really hard for everyone around you to know what you're getting at. Being proactive gets you a finished product faster.

There's a big difference between being specific and being pushy. I think I had those confused. My client is not pushy. He's very clear about what he wants.

Of course there's the problem of not knowing what you want. I like the idea of fine tuning what it is you're after and then setting the wheels in motion. Like my client, I have very specific goals I'd like to achieve. At the moment, though, they are nebulous and all start with conditional phrases like "if I could, I would..."

Which is silly. If I want to write for a specific magazine, it is not up to that magazine to figure it out - even if the editor of that magazine is sitting in his/her office right now saying, "you know what we need? Someone who writes about goldfish, the opera and noodle kugel."

Is there something you haven't asked for that would make someone's life easier if you just spoke up?

Monday, February 16, 2009

my favorite sister

My sister has decided that since I like to write and she doesn't, I am to be her ghost writer. She's asked me to do her Christmas letter next year - in which case she better get a move on. I only write Christmas letters for people who set their kitchens on fire making almond brittle and have children who are convinced that Santa's reindeer are going to eat them alive in their sleep. I need material.

In the interim, I was given the opportunity to write her bio thingy for her upcoming high school reunion. Which I did. Because how hard can summing up... er... 15 or so years be?

I put it off until the very last possible moment, at which point she was essentially lying at my feet begging me to write the infernal thing - or would have been if we lived in the same state. I would have seen to that.

I emailed what I had, and then we IM'd out the details.

her: does there have to be so much about my goldfish?
me: it's not a fish, it's a literary device. It moves the plot along.
her: but an entire paragraph?
her: okey dokey.

I can't wait for Christmas.

a letter to Benjamin Moore

Dear Ben,

As you are probably aware, we are repainting Trout Towers. I've borrowed several of your oversized paint samples and am pretty close to making my color decisions.

There's just one problem.

Semolina, which I had chosen for the hall, is really more the color of a manilla envelope. I wanted something a little richer and less utilitarian. So I went back to my big book of paint chips and found the color I want.

It is the color I want, but I cannot bring myself to paint my hallway Nacho Cheese. I just can't. Yes, it is the color of Nacho Cheese. You get points for authenticity. But you did not call my original choice Manilla Envelope or Goldenrod Copy Paper so there is clearly some room for artistic freedom in the naming department.

I'm thinking Elephant Blanket Brocade or Tuscan Piazza Sunflower. They have sunflowers in Tuscan piazzas, right? I can understand why you wouldn't want to call it that if they don't have sunflowers in Tuscan piazzas. I understand that you have standards to uphold. Standards like Tulsa Twilight and Roasted Sesame Seed.

So, who went off the clock between the namings of Roasted Sesame Seed and Nacho Cheese? Is it specifically for man-caves and tv rooms? With bean bag chairs, shag carpet and unidentified smells?

I am trying to create a certain je ne sais quoi here at Trout Towers that does not involve the painting of team logos in my hall. I am relying on your paint to make it happen. Your paint which, I might remind you, is called Aura. Do you see the disconnect? Nacho Cheese Aura is a stain, not a paint.

I rest my case.

Also, New Hope Gray is an oxymoron.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

a love note

As a friend of mine would say, I am both hoity and toity.

Chris and I spent last evening at the Elms, in Newport, RI. Granted, Chris was there because he was hired to be there and I was there because the people who hired him knew better than to try to hire my honey bunny away from me on Valentine's Day.

WMVY, who I could just kiss, had a fundraiser at the Elms last night. Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish played, followed by Patty Larkin. Yes, I finally got to see Patty Larkin play a real show, after all that time of Chris calling to tell me which internet radio program to tune into while he was on the road with her.

Let me tell you, if we were fat with cash, this is the kind of thing I'd make Chris do on Valentine's Day. First, it's WMVY. You can listen to them here and see for yourself how awesome they are. They're a commercial radio station that acts like a community radio station - always on the lookout for new music and HUGE supporters of the local scene. I think I am in love with them.

And Patty. Oh my heavens. For the last year or so, Chris has been all Patty Larkin Patty Larkin Patty Larkin. And yes, she's nice. And yes, she's pretty. And yes, she plays a mean guitar. But she's a folksinger. And seriously, how much folk music can one listen to on purpose?

Now I have to admit that if Patty Larkin is a folksinger (which I am not sure of), then I am going to have to admit to liking folk music. Which is not easy. It seems that the universe is making me belly up to the things I've taken the most joy in disliking.

Seriously, though. If you have a chance to go see her somewhere, do it. She is the most amazing guitar player ever. And her lyrics make you want to run home and learn to write songs. And she's funny. One could listen to quite a lot of her on purpose.

It was pretty much the most perfect Valentine's Day ever. And then we saw a green meteor on the way home. A big, green, streak of light over Cape Cod Bay. It was like fireworks, but not.

Hopefully it wasn't Cupid hitting the earth's atmosphere and going up in flames.

This is the mirror I used to fix my lipstick. I had to move that guy over a smidge to see properly.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"(orange) Jump(suit) for my Love"

Chris just came upstairs to ask if I needed headphones. And then he saw what I was doing and asked if I needed professional help.

He's been listening (through a poorly insulated floor) to me listen to songs like Jump, Thriller and The Hustle. Oddly enough, he wondered what was going on.

It all started with a friend suggesting we learn the Hustle for the 70s themed birthday party we're going to this weekend. A YouTube clip was provided. In watching said clip, I found other Hustles - including a phenomenon I had heard about on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. You know the part where you have to guess which of the completely ludicrous news stories is real? One of the stories was about a prison that was teaching the inmates the choreography to songs like Thriller.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, the men (and women) in orange:

the aftermath

Did anyone else notice the irony of my live blogging a home concert the very next day after I complained of so much noise in the house that I couldn't think to write? It was tricky, let me tell you. I found that I could write what was happening, but couldn't read what I had written to save my life. Which is why it looks as though I didn't proofread. I didn't.

Afterwards, Joey said he thinks Studley's going to be a bass player. In the event that anyone missed the import of that, let me elaborate. Joey Spampinato thinks my son could be a bass player. Still not getting it? If Keith Richards had walked into my living room last night, here's what would have happened:

Joey: hi Keith.
Keith: hi Joey.

That's assuming they call each other by their regular names and don't have nicknames like Pudding Cup and Snicklefritz.*

In other words, it's like the Dalai Lama giving your kid the nod. I am totally getting music school scholarship applications.

I would be very, very intimidated by Joey if he weren't such a completely delightful human being. And if he weren't married to Kami, who.... Kami, why don't you come over more often? I MISS YOU.

Let me tell you about Kami. I was a little intimidated by Kami, too, until she was on stage doing a guest performance with Chandler. Seeing that she had taped the lyrics to the microphone stand, Chandler asked if she could read the words okay. And Kami, in her very sweetest, blondest voice, said, "I'll sound out the hard ones."

And Tad. Tad was friends with my brother-in-law when they were in high school and oh for heaven's sakes it was like having my brother-in-law's clone in the room. They have the same sense of humor and some of the same mannerisms, even though they have lived 3000 miles away from each other for something like 20 years.

It was a fun night.

I woke up at 7:30 this morning, which is about an hour after I usually get up. I was late because my alarm clock overslept. It's probably good they slept in, rather than falling asleep in school. I can just imagine how it would go when they tried to explain to their teachers what they did last night.

It's all life at Trout Towers, and I can't wait for the next show.

*Dear Mr. Richards,
Joey has never called you by either of these names, that I am aware of. In fact, I only know that he knows you because I read it on Wikipedia and so it must be true.
ps has anyone ever told you you look like my friend Bink? You probably get that all the time.
pps Bink is not his real name. His name is Ken. I have never called him Pudding Cup or Snicklefritz. Just Bink.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Live! From Trout Towers!

Oh my lord. We've really done it this time.

So begins the first of a series, which we shall call Live at Trout Towers. Because it is. Live. And at Trout Towers.

You see, my mil doesn't get out much these days. But she likes hearing live music. And well, we know people who play live music. So Chris has asked a few friends to come by and play for Ruth. But Chris doesn't do anything half-way, so we have a room full of sound equipment and musicians. All for the benefit of the smallest audience ever.

I have to mention now that if you were not invited to play, you will be.

At the moment, Kami Lyle is on trumpet, Joey Spampinato is on bass, Tad Price is on guitar, Lucy is on bongos and Studley is on piano and lead vocals. It's... interpretive. I think Chris is video taping. And of course recording. I'll add pictures later. If I had realized it was to be this well documented, I would have tidied up more.

Now they're getting serious. Lucy has moved to air guitar. Studley's pretending to play trumpet. He has a very obvious crush on Kami.

It's just us because 1) we can't fit a band AND friends in the living room and 2) it's for Ruth and she gets a little overwhelmed with lots of people. This is my way of apologizing for not inviting each and every one of you to jam yourselves in here.

I'm off to get snacks. I'll be right back....

Chris has headphones on. I don't know why I feel I need to document that. Behind the stage is a pile of Lucy's paintings and a tower of building blocks. And yet, you'd swear you were at a real live gig. It is completely fantastic.

It's kind of making me want to cry. Except every time I get a little weepy, Joey looks up and smiles. Which would be fine if he weren't 8 feet away.

Our living room floor is completely covered in cables. I think maybe we can't have guests because we don't have the right kind of home owners insurance to cover guest being eaten alive by sound equipment.

Wait, add to the mix a spotlight. Chris just keeps disappearing and reappearing with more stuff. There's now a video camera on a tripod, lighting, speakers and monitors (although I don't know what the difference is), a sound board on the coffee table, 500 cables and a 1:2 musician to audience ratio. That's generous, since a third of the audience is on the verge of being sent to bed.

Studley has found a spare microphone and is singing background vocals. We need to stop leaving those around.

I have to feed the musicians now. I'll be right back.

And now I have to go because Kami, who is way too pretty to be SMART, just schooled me in geography on freerice.com. Darn musicians.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

the downside of having a recording studio UNDER MY CHAIR

Just a few observations today because it is too dang loud in this house to do any thinking.

First observation: It's loud in this house. I know, I know, I'm always romanticizing how great it is to have musicians coming and going and playing and recording and EATING MY FOOD.* But sometimes they're just loud. Chris is working in the basement on some mixes with a guitarist and they keep playing the same phrase over and over again at wall-shaking volumes and I CANNOT THINK.

I'm not one of those people who can write and listen to the radio. TV is right straight out. I am very easily derailed and the brain? It doesn't work so well sometimes.

My other observation involves the fact that three friends asked if I was okay today. I thought "sheesh, did I not brush my hair? Is this a bad lipstick color for me? Did I get dressed?" and then I realized they were referring to yesterday's post, in which I was tragic and on the brink of despair. Ever notice how you can't even talk about something until it's almost over anyway? And then everyone's left trying to catch up? It's like that.

I'm fine.

I'm so fine I got back to stalking people online. My latest fixation is a woman whose kids I used to babysit when I was in middle school. I spent a ridiculous amount of time at their house. I found one of her kids on facebook, and sent off a tentative message. Upon confirmation, I sent another message that was, in hindsight, so completely stalkery he is probably moving and getting a new identity as I type. But I do remember where they kept their cereal. And I do remember the characters painted on their bedroom walls. And I do remember where all the furniture was and the smell of the downstairs carpet. I did not, however, mention that I thought of them when I got Studley his first Spiderman underoos.

I'll save that for the third email. When things aren't so loud.

*they hardly ever actually eat my food. Why is that, musicians? Why won't you eat my food?

Monday, February 9, 2009

mood swings

In the Long Kiss Goodnight, Geena Davis has this flash of recognition, which she thinks is because she was once engaged to the man in question but really they were mortal enemies. This happens to me all the time.

Not the mortal enemy part, just the inability to attach the proper emotion to recognition. Not only can I not place the person in terms of how I know him or her, I have no idea if we are friends or foes. Which is awkward. But could be wonderful.

Wouldn't it be great to be able to just ditch your baggage? I would run with it, but first I want to know what baggage I'm ditching and then it's too late. This happens with women mostly because they're the ones who can be mean. But I've lived here long enough so I could just not be recognizing someone I dated. Face it, some were not so memorable. And you can't say "you look so familiar" to such people because how insulting is that? Better to just act as though you're polite. Or in denial. Or rude. Or completely clueless and somewhat in need of a coffee and maybe a pumpkin cranberry muffin but I may be projecting.

I could totally use a pumpkin cranberry muffin right now.

The baggage I'd like to ditch at the moment is not about someone I may or may not have dated, it's about me. Every once in a while I have these quasi-tragic bouts of melancholy (picture me with back of hand held to forehead, lace hanky dangling from other hand). I can't get out of my own way. It's something I've accepted about myself for ages and I just want to take a spray bottle to the inside of my head and clear out those dust bunnies once and for all.

It doesn't fit with the rest of me. As I go along, putting together the puzzle, there are these few odd pieces that become more glaringly obvious as time goes on. They are from a different puzzle entirely, which is why they are so uncomfortable and look so strange. I can't seem to keep them off my card table, but at least I can focus on the pieces that ARE helpful and keep putting those together. Eventually, there will be no place for those aberrant pieces to hide.

I have no idea what this has to do with Geena Davis. Maybe if I could just go back to bed for a little while I could figure it all out. I'll come out if someone shows up with a pumpkin muffin.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

trouts and the eye of the beholder

A bit ago I asked people to describe what they thought Trout Towers looked like. Erica obliged.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

cigars for kids

Despite the fact that my kids request the spicy basil eggplant from the Thai restaurant and have never met a piece of sushi they don't like, I have been cooking from Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious cookbook lately.*

Last night I made a bastardized version of her taquitos, which she calls "cigars." A cigar, it seems, is the child-friendly version of a taquito. I filled our taquitos with her quesadilla filling, which is pureed white beans, cheese, sour cream and sweet potato. You puree the filling so the kids don't know they are eating beans and sweet potato. Because unidentifiable brown smush is okay, but sweet potatoes are gross?

The Upstairs Neighbor has been fine-tuning her salsa recipe and has been using us as guinnea pigs, so I served some of the latest batch with dinner. It's spicy. I took some, gave Chris and Lucy some, put a speck of it on Studley's plate and kept the bowl as far away from my mil as was physically possible.

Studley tried some of the salsa. "Augh!!!!! Spicy! Augh!" he said, submerging his face in his milk glass. My mil panicked a little.

When I reassured her that there was no salsa on her plate, she told me she was glad of that because the taquitos were pretty spicy on their own, thank you.


Proof that we experience what we expect. Because the last I checked? Sweet potatoes and plain pinto beans are not spicy.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen. I made Native American Bread Pudding for dessert and accidentally invited some friends to join us. And then an EXTRA musician showed up because there was food coming out of the oven. How do they know?

Speaking of musicans, there's one coming over this morning to work with Chris. I figured I should pick up the pace and get dressed, but then remembered that I met him in college, where we routinely showed up for class in pajama pants. Also, he plays in a band wearing his pajamas. Also he just showed up and said his wife is still in her pajamas, too. Hi Marilee! I knew I liked you.

*No, I don't feed my kids raw fish. But they eat everything else and are PEEVED that they don't get to have any of the spicy tuna mango martini at Mac's. To which I say "hahahahahaha, bummer to be 6, dude."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

art in public places

Every once in a while, I look up from whatever I'm doing and realize that I have a very special husband. Those of you who know him, know in what sense I use that term. He is nothing if not special.

So. Lots of people out there on the interweb have backyard chickens and like to post pictures of them. But do they post pictures of them looking out of their sunroof?

What? Your coop doesn't have a sunroof? I suppose it is also not a model of the Hirshhorn then, either. Chris had a little balcony for it, and I had procured a small plastic chicken, but we had to lose the balcony in favor of the spaceship style insulation. Having a hard time picturing the Hirshhorn? It is one of our favorite museums. It looks like this.

The real thing doesn't have a roof that slides over, so Godzilla-sized raccoons could climb right into the courtyard if they wanted to. The balcony is on the other side.

Other special moments include walking out of the house just in time to see Chris swinging our son by his armpits, banging his snowboots against the side of the car like a church bell. I'm pretty sure he was knocking the snow off Studley's boots before buckling him into his car seat.

In other news, I was a hero today. Two cars ahead of me, someone was having a hard time getting out of the school parking lot. My friend was in the car right in front of me, so we both hopped out and gave her a push. Pleased with ourselves, we high-fived and returned to our cars. Which is when I noticed that the woman in the car behind me looked like this

because apparently while I was being heroic, my car was rolling toward her car. I can just imagine the domino effect. Twenty cars, lined up behind me - bang bing clunk bang tink tink wonk. And me, toddling off wondering what all the hullabaloo was about.

Perhaps Chris and I are well-matched after all.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

very domestic

I have laundry going in the washer. Black bean soup is making itself in the crock pot. The robot vacuum is cleaning the house.

And people wonder how I have so much time to blog, what with the chicken farming and all.

Last night I had a dream in which I planted things around the edge of the garden and protected the seedlings with a fence made of burlap (the chickens will decimate anything as soon as I plant it otherwise). I think I am anxious for spring and its growing season. I am not this industrious in real life.

And then I dreamt our drummer friend Liam came by to rehearse with a friend in The Studio, aka The Casinos at Trout Towers, aka The Basement. At some point the friend asked Liam if he thought it was okay if he heated up a slice of pizza in our kitchen. Liam came up a few minutes later and was all, "dude - you didn't heat up pizza, you made yourself a whole freaking lunch!" Let it be known that random musicians raid refrigerators even in dreams.

Liam, I do not hold you responsible for the actions of your friends in my dream. Also, the plant he sat on? It was a geranium, so all is well.

I should maybe ease off the late night spicy snacks.

I am home today because it is snowing snowing snowing and there is no sign of it stopping. For some reason this is making me feel very domestic and I am flitting about in the kitchen making things for the rest of the week. Not right now, of course. I'm taking a break from my culinary conquerings to keep you apprised of the situation here at Trout Towers.

The situation involves oatmeal, chocolate chip, pecan cookies from Smitten Kitchen. Don't even click the link unless you are willing for your life to be ruined. I cannot stop making the things she posts and am starting to have an identity crisis. I have become Donna Reed, except I can't for the life of me find my feather duster.

Or my apron.

Monday, February 2, 2009

home, home on the range

We are waiting for a note made of cutout newspaper letters, that says: "Our dog ate your chicken. Sorry."

We accidentally let Mustang Sally out to pasture on Saturday. I never knew what that meant until I had a flock of chickens that we are not interested in eating. Who are already past their prime and will lay fewer eggs each year. The Chicken Bible says to cull the flock, but we cannot do that. Our chickens are cute and never did anything to us.

We let the chickens run around the yard in the afternoons. They have a couple hours of free time before they decide it's time for bed and head back into the coop. They are distinctly happy when they do this. I know it might be hard to envision a happy chicken versus a ho hum chicken, but it's quite evident. And it's not that they are struck with bouts of melancholy when they do not get their time to romp. They just seem to like a bit of adventure from time to time.

Maybe not as much adventure as they had on Saturday. I went to check on them Saturday afternoon and only found two. I called them, and a third chicken came out from beneath the neighbor's boat. No Mustang Sally - except for a small clump of white feathers. Which does not count.

She was a good chicken.

So yesterday, we decided to move the coop into the vegetable garden. That way they can have a little more space to run but are still fenced in. We let the chickens out of the coop and carried it to the garden, on the other side of the house. We were very proud of ourselves until we remembered that chickens have brains the size of a lentil and they would probably end up sleeping on the ground where the coop used to be because they would not look around the corner to find their coop.

Which leads us to, herding chickens. The first one I caught and carried to the garden. I do not spend a lot of time holding my chickens, but let me tell you, once you've caught them they're kind of cute. Serene. Or maybe paralytic with fear. It's hard to tell.

The other two, although not very bright, were onto me. After several attempts at flushing them out of the lilacs, including an episode of going around and around and around a tree, we enlisted the help of the upstairs neighbor.

For anyone out there who does not have friends living with them, I suggest you call around and see if anyone's willing to move in. We do not know what we'd do without our upstairs neighbors. They're a handy lot.

I went down to the garden and kept Sweet Caroline within the now-open fence while the men folk herded Georgia on My Mind and Hot Child in the City across the lawn. Once they saw Caroline, it was much easier because they instinctively tried to reunite. Did I mention that they were using a shovel and a 2 by 4 to extend their reach? They made a big v-shape and kept the chickens within the V. Sort of. They got away several times. The chickens, I mean. Not the upstairs neighbors. We know where the upstairs neighbors live.

This morning the chickens look vaguely euphoric. And as for Mustang Sally, I'm sure she's playing a chicken harp on a cloud, surrounded by vegetable peelings.

She was a good chicken.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I just cheated on my hairstylist. It was an emergency situation and I only tell you about it because of how it turned out. How it turned out has nothing to do with my hair.

It being an emergency situation, I went to the puppy mill of hair salons: Supercuts. I am not proud of this. I rely on my Aveda salon to nourish my inner snob and find no comfort in a salon which boasts a $12.95! haircut.


Since there was a wait when I arrived, I brought in my book (A People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn). The wait is actually a perk, because how often do I get to sit and read? With no one asking me when I'm going to be done?

All too soon, a young woman calls my name. As I dive for my bookmark she remarks, "great book."

"It's kind of making me want to throw up right now," I reply. It's the genocide I'm refering to, not the writing. The writing is ridiculously great.

"I know what you mean," she says. "Noam Chomsky makes me feel that way."

I tell her about the reference to "the past's fugitive moments of compassion," and ask her if Zinn eventually gets to those fugitive moments. Not so much, is her answer. I tell her about the Live from the 92nd Street Y lecture series because I thought I remembered Chomsky being somehow involved. I was wrong, but we ended up talking about it anyway, as well as the other high def broadcast from New York, the Metropolitan Opera.

"Are they doing Wagner?" asks one of the other stylists. When I tell him no, he responds in a Well Why Even Bother sort of way. I make a mental note to look at his tatoos more closely, as perhaps they tell the entire story of Lohengrin as an R. Crumb style illustration. It's possible.

I tell my own stylist exactly how much of an emergency hair cut I'd like and then we chat some more about how bereft of intellectual stimulation our sandy spit of land is. We discuss the lure of college towns. We are quiet for a moment, day dreaming of life in a college town. And then we both realize that there is a conversation about the Elgin Marbles going on at the haircutting station across the room. They go from the Elgin Marbles to the town of Bath and chat about the early technology of the Romans.

Honestly? I had no idea it was that kind of salon.

Supercuts, you have raised the bar. I don't know what my hair looks like because I came right straight home and started typing. Either way, I'd call it the best $12.95 I've spent in a long time.

(I know I am prone to exaggeration, but I am not making one iota of this up.)

later that week:

I can find nothing wrong with my cut. And I think they should make t-shirts that say: Our stylists are smarter than your stylists. Just a thought.