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

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

what's the story

My friend Greg mentioned on his gardening blog that he had started his morning glories indoors. Not to be outdone, I started mine, too.

They came up quickly and have continued to grow magnificently. A little too magnificently, in my opinion. They are taking over the livingroom. They are starting to scare me.

So I emailed Greg and asked when it was safe to evict them. The answer was not what I hoped for. He had put his out and now they are dead. He suggested I wait and just plant the seeds outside like any normal person.

Hahahaha! Like any normal person!


I took one sacrificial seedling outside to see how it would go. I planted it, and stepped back to watch it get pummeled by a gentle breeze. It lay quietly on the ground, a mere shadow of its former self. So I went and got one of the many, many, many windows Chris keeps stacked up around the house.

Don't ask.

The one I picked is a small storm window, perfect for an impromptu cold frame thingy. I propped it up and waited to see the morning glory spring back to life. It didn't. But I figure the window will protect it from some cold and some wind and really, it's a morning glory, not a pansy. Even the pansies are outside doing just fine right now. I'm not pointing any fingers here, but what's pansier than a pansy?

Chris saw what I had done and made some comment about all the stacks of windows and how I'm always coming home from the dump with windows and whatnot for my little gardening projects.

"Oh zip it," I said.

"Oh zip it!" said Studley. "Oh zip it! Zip it! Zip it! Zip it!"

Tomorrow at school should be interesting.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Holdin' on to yesterday

The other night I went to see a band who shares the name of a certain salad made with marshmallows and crushed fruit. The band I shall not speak of aloud had several big hits in the 70s. I have never been a big fan of the fruit salad and cannot say I ever gave much thought to the band. Until the other night.

Brighton, who I have known forever, asked me to go to this concert with her. "Hahahaha!" I said. "No way."

But she was insistent. She knew as much about the band as I did, but it turns out their guitar player (who was maybe 7 when they were putting out their Big! Smash! Hits!) is an old friend of hers from high school. I remember him well. I remember thinking he was totally unworthy of Brighton.

Maybe it's because girls mature faster than boys. Maybe it's because no one was worthy of Brighton. Maybe it was because 15 year old boys are inherently dorky. For whatever reason, I did not forgive Guitar Man for daring to touch the hem of Brighton's garment. Perhaps I still haven't forgiven him.

Most recently, I have not forgiven him for wearing normal clothes to the gig. The last time I saw a 70s band it was the Village People and I was really hoping for something equally showy. Maybe some powder blue tuxes or gold lamé jump suits? I have also not forgiven him for being chatty and friendly and not at all the person I remembered. It is so disappointing to let go of life-long grievances.

Which is not to say I am rushing out to buy Crushed Fruit and Marshmallow Salad albums, although I knew more of the songs than I thought I would. And they still had the power to drive all the couples to make out. In public. It was a little horrifying, given the demographic.

Speaking of the demographic, the drummer from the opening act said something like "our bass player is very eligible, so if anyone out there has a daughter...."

I have never been so offended in all my life.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I'm afraid I can't do that, Jane

One bright morning we decided to explore the countryside. And then we got lost.

As long as we were lost, we thought we might try to get lost in Annapolis. We've heard Annapolis is a lovely place to be lost in - literally and possibly metaphorically - although since the Naval Academy is there it's probably not like being lost in Boulder or Berkeley.

Since we were already out and about and could not be bothered to go get an atlas, we decided we'd bite the bullet and get a gps. I happened to know where there was a Best Buy, so off we went.

Except I got us lost on the way to Best Buy, so we went to Target.

We purchased a TomTom and typed in our destination while we sat in the garage. It looked for a route to Annapolis while we looked for a route out of the parking garage. It was successful first. Sort of.

Although we were still in a place where I kind of knew my way around, I switched off my brain and let Chris follow Jane's instructions (we chose a British voice, named Jane. She's very civilized and kept telling us to take the motorway). The next thing we knew, we had reached the end of the road and were facing a lovely little footbridge and a pedestrian path that led through the woods. We were surprised at Jane's instructions to go straight and stay left. I mean really, does she not know us at all? We are in an opposite marriage (I just learned that term on NPR - before which I thought an opposite marriage was a divorce). We were both wearing jeans and comfortable footwear. How can our sociopolitical leanings be more abundantly obvious?

We found our way back out to the highway, despite Jane's protests, and were on our way. Once on the highway she accepted her fate and altered the route to compensate for our unwillingness to cut through the neighbor's back yard.

A few times, I watched the display as the Vespa which represented us jumped off the highway and went joy riding through rolling pastures. Is it possible that Jane was mapping the gps coordinates of our psyches instead of our physical whereabouts? That would explain a lot. It would explain why she took us off the highway and led us on a merry chase through a particularly groovy bit of D.C., filled with restaurants and shops.

It is possible that when you first plug in a new gps unit, it cannot be trusted.

We had put off this purchase for moral and philosophical reasons. We know that unused skills atrophy. We just didn't know that they atrophy in a matter of minutes.

We found Jane especially helpful when we were walking. This is when we were at our most exasperating. We'd see something we wanted a closer look at and wander off course from time to time. Jane tried her best to set us straight, and we expected at any moment for her to say "this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye." We also considered the possibility of getting a different voice altogether. The different voice would politely explain that we had driven Jane to drink and they had shipped her off to detox. I don't know what gps units drink, but I bet Jane was looking for one after a day with us.

I wonder how she'll find it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

back to the frozen north

No one leaves this vacation until someone's feet are covered in band-aids.

That someone would be me. Dang we've walked a lot. The coupe de grace was National Zoo today - probably the most plebian of our activities. We walked so much I didn't have the strength to drag myself to the gift shop. And that's saying something. Dear Washington D.C., I have fueled your local economy. You're welcome.

Here are my tourist tips:
  • The restrooms in the Hirshhorn are nicer than those in the Museum of Natural History.
  • The concessions at the National Zoo are horrifyingly horrifying. Take your lunch.
  • Teaism serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is not nearly often enough.
  • There is a dearth of Obama chotchkies. I was hoping to take home all manner of whatnot to the friends back home. Instead they'll get slightly used metro passes.
  • Since you will have already used the facilities at the Hirshhorn, you can spend your extra time at Natural History oggling the scientists in the fossil lab. Do not miss this.
  • Blue Mercury in Bethesda is a fine place for an emergency brow wax and restaurant recommendation.
  • What we should have done in Bethesda is get the dipping bread thingy at Panang, gone for sushi at Raku and finished up with tapas at Jaleo. It is impossible to chose just one without some measure of remorse.
  • Although there are 5 million Starbucks, you will notice that they are all on the wrong side of the street when you are desparate for a cup of coffee. It will inevitably be rush hour when this happens.

That about does it. Obviously, food and facilities are our specialty. We have strong feelings about our local restaurants and will go on and on about them if asked. We know where to send you for coffee, or seafood, or pizza, or ice cream, or Anything Dear Lord as Long as It's Fried. Which is why we were stunned, STUNNED, when a woman in a visitor information center had no idea about the local restaurants. And Chris wonders why I get my brows waxed. The facial torture technician rattled off half a dozen restaurants - with modifiers such as "so-so," "not bad" and "fantastic." This makes it all the more convincing, knowing she's not a Yes Girl.

So many restaurants, so little time. We'd love to stay, but our chickens miss us and it is time to go.

There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home.

(tap tap tap)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

getting our geek on

When we are sitting on the Metro in Washington D.C. and Chris says "I wonder how our chickens are doing," it sounds like a euphemism.

In some ways, it would seem that we are desperately out of place in this city. It would seem that way, but oh are we in hog heaven.

We are here for Geek Vacation 2009. What is our ideal vacation? Extra schooling for the kids (the kids' idea, not ours), and lots and lots of museums for us.

Sugarplum and Studley are attending a sister school this week, while their own school is closed for spring vacation. It works kind of like a YMCA membership. You know how you can always find a Y that's open if you are willing to traverse time zones? It's like that. Sugarplum and Studley are euphoric. Cannot imagine a better vacation. As usual, they will probably sue us when we finally make it to Disney World and they discover what their friends have been up to all this time.

In court I will remind them that this was the vacation they learned to write in cursive. They will ponder this and half-heartedly try the old Magic Kingdom argument, knowing in their hearts that learning to write in cursive is just about the most awesome thing ever.

While they are writing in cursive we are holding court at Teaism, one of our favorite places in the entire universe. Yesterday morning we heard a woman ask when they would have asparagus on the menu. "When the farmers bring it to the market," was the answer. Maybe we're not so out of place after all.

From Teaism we hit the Smithsonian. There's a Louise Bourgeois exhibit at the Hirshhorn that made our heads explode. And of course there's the Air and Space Museum (both the one in DC and the one out by Dulles). They make us hyperventilate. Tomorrow I think we're on schedule for some Natural History and maybe Archives. There is just So Much To Do.

There are still cherry blossoms, although they are on the decline. When the wind blows it snows petals.

We keep getting messages from our friends saying "turn off your computer and be on vacation already!" It's a problem, this knowing who's online when nonsense. We are so busted.

Now I have to get some sleep, so tomorrow I can turn off my computer and try out a flight simulator. Or something.

Oh! Oh oh oh! We drove through a rainbow yesterday. I noticed that we could see the end of the rainbow - saw right where it met the highway! And then we drove through it. It was all golden and glowy and it turned us all golden and glowy. I think we were the pot of gold. Who knew?

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Audition

My nephew, who up until yesterday I considered to be the scourge of the family due to his dalliances in musical theater, is touring colleges. He's looking at schools that specialize in such things as vocal training.

During his interview at one chosen college, he asked about the audition cd he needed to include with his application. Should he go to a studio? Have it professionally done? She shook her head no. "Unless you have an uncle with a recording studio, there's no need," she said.

We are so handy to have around.

At some point during his tour, my nephew took an interest in studying opera. Opera! He makes his aunt so proud. But why, sweet child? Why this sudden interest? Could it be that my candlelight incantations and subliminal whisperings are finally working?

No. Apparently there is good money to be had as an opera singer. This is good news for those of us who are hoping to be supported by a famous opera singer sometime in the future.

It was very handy he told me this revelation when he did, because The Audition was showing yesterday and I had no one to go with. Besides, I figured it might help him hit the big time a little sooner. All that insider information has to be some use, right?

I would tell you all about the movie (a documentary about the National Council auditions at the Metropolitan Opera), but the rest of the family is watching 24 and I'm only working on half a brain here.

The Audition is the start of a whirlwind Trout Geek Fest. It will be thrilling, believe me. Museums! More museums! Extra school for the kids! I will tell you all about it. But now? I must know what happens on 24.

(What is this show, anyway? Can someone fill me in?)

Yours truly, the not-quite-Amish blogger who has never seen 24.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

volunteer fire brigade

I've been in a bit of a twist lately.

Awhile ago I posted about asking for what you need. About how much easier it is on everybody. Many of you agreed with me, which makes me feel all smart and insightful.

And hypocritical. Because I could have avoided my twist entirely if I'd only read my own blog posts. I've been all "why is this not happening? Why is no one doing anything?" I've been righteously indignant because, by golly, I'm trying to get something done that's Not My Job.

It's a little like stomping around your house, wondering why it's still on fire when there are firemen whose very DNA dictates that they put out fires. Why haven't they done it, hmmmm? Where are they? What do you mean I have to call them? It's their job! I shouldn't have to call them!

Note: you have to call them.

Having to live with myself has been very tiring lately. Poor Chris is being a trooper, but really, he has it easy. After all, he only has to listen to the stuff I say outloud. I have to suffer through all that other drivel. And he doesn't usually listen anyway. He just nods and says "mhmmm. I'm sorry." I know he's not listening because he says this when I've asked him if he wants his egg soft boiled or poached.

I so wish I could do that. I mean, I can do it with other people (please, I have children. What's that buzzing noise?). I just can't tune out myself.

Someone once said "you're not responsible for what someone else thinks. You're responsible for what you think they're thinking." I love that. Because usually? They're not thinking anything like what you have them down for.

At least I hope they're not.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I'm suddenly filled with the urge to go out for lobster

If you live on Cape Cod, you will curse us for this.

Let me back up.

Trout Towers is in full swing tonight. Upstairs, there's a band meeting. Downstairs, in what some musicians call The Casinos at Trout Towers,* a different band is recording a jingle. That's the part you'll curse us for.

They've done a bunch of versions and I can't decide which will get stuck in my head first. Possibly all of them. I promise you, you'll be driving down the mid-Cape highway this summer and will suddenly feel the urge to shake your fist at someone. And eat lobster

It might just be the traffic. Or it might be this jingle. It kind of hinges on the lobster part.

One of the musicians from upstairs just went downstairs to do some background vocals. Is that like inbreeding?

And now they're not working on the jingle at all. I have no idea what they're doing down there. It sounds like guitar overdubs, but I think maybe they're just moving in. If you let musicians in to record a jingle, there's some chance they'll turn out to be squatters and you will Never Get Them Out.

I'll have to throw a pizza out on the lawn again.

*you take your chances.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

carbohydrate complex

You know how people refer to "those elitist liberals?" They mean me.

I like snobby, highbrow things. I do not eat anything which involves pork rind. I feel a little ill at the thought of a boxed cake mix made with Coke in lieu of eggs. I use phrases like "in lieu of."

And yet, I am infatuated with mac and cheese pizza.

You read that right. It's just like a spinach, feta and sundried tomato pizza, except mac and cheese replaces the spinach, the feta, and the sundried tomatoes. It is wrong on so many levels, and yet nothing has ever been so right. I expressed this opinion to the maker of said pizza (at Wellfleet Town Pizza) and he said, "too bad you missed the tater tot pizza." Apparently not enough people ordered it to warrant keeping the tater tots handy by. Also, I imagine it was hard to keep from eating the tater tots.

me: I'd like a large tater tot pizza, please.
them: I'm sorry, we ate all the tater tots.

If you take in your own tater tots, they'll put them on a pizza for you without blinking an eye.

On our way home, Sugarplum asked me to make up a song. So I did.

There was no way to know
the pizza chef's ambition
would turn into something
so devoid of nutrition.
And now we are happy
eating noodles and cheese
on a pizza crust, 'stead of speckled with peas.

Mac and cheese, mac and cheese,
Mac and cheese on pizza

If you close your eyes,
slipping into denial,
you can kind of pretend
your health isn't on trial.
Now the scale, it's cracking
but I really don't care
Do you think they made up
our pie on a dare?


(baritone sax solo)

There's more, but I need to take a little nap and digest my pizza.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I hope he gets hazard pay*

(In which the Easter Bunny is trampled by marauding children and over-caffeinated parents.)

I was not one of the trampling parents because I had found the coffee and danish table inside and forgot completely about escorting my kids to the starting line.

Yes sirree, it was the danishes. It wasn't that I realized I knew some of the other adults. Adults who are now, astonishingly, married with kids. Adults with whom I may or may not have broken up in an embarrassing fashion while in my 20s. Ahem.

It's enough to make one run away screaming.

Me, I mean. Not them.

Well, maybe them, too.

And while we're filing things under "run away screaming," I can't imagine why kids wouldn't want to have their pictures taken with the Easter Bunny:

*the Easter Bunny, not the ex-boyfriends. Although some of them may have deserved it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

multiple personality disorderliness

My sister's kids can tell when she's on the phone with me. Sugarplum can tell when I'm on the phone with Iss. I can tell when Chris is talking to some guy I've never met who lives in London.

We're not posers, we're just different with different people. I dare say we all do this.

I am very polite when I am around a) churchy people, b) my friend Giselle and c) people I've just met. I do polite very convincingly, despite my lack of practice. I cannot keep it up for long.

Then there's the rest of the time. I thought the version of me that's in frequent rotation was pretty much just ME, but I would be wrong about that. Because of the phone thing, you see. It's all where you put the emphasis.

Which is why it's such a problem when you can't figure out how you know someone. You know when someone has no idea who you are, no matter how hard they try to fake it.

A friend of mine called my work the other day - a work that I don't usually show up at. It's okay, they like it that way. I mean, I'm scheduled that way. I mean...oh nevermind. So this friend didn't know it was me on the phone and very politely asked for my boss. He sounded so strange. Was he mad at me? Under the weather? Was his boss watching? He works for himself, so I guess his boss was watching. That's it, then.

Except it's not. He just didn't know it was me, so he didn't know to use the "for use with Susan" voice.

Which has nothing to do with anything. It's just a long shot at explaining my latest and greatest identity crisis, as follows.

This morning Sugarplum wore a jumper that I had knit for her to school. It's a silly little thing that looks more like a piñata than a jumper. I don't knit very well. Sugarplum's teacher asked if I had made her jumper and I thought well duh, do you think someone would actually buy that? but I just said "yes" because she falls halfway into the "people I'm polite to" category. It depends on the day and if there are other parents around.

When I said yes she made some comment about the chickens and the knitting and... well then she made this gross overstatement about the kind of person I am. I can't remember her exact words, but it made me sound like the love child of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Martha Stewart.

Which I am not. I don't think. I just, I just don't know anymore.

Torture the facts and they'll show you whatever you want to see. So I guess the question is, who do I want to be now?

Who do YOU want to be now? Or do you act the same with everyone (please say no)?

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Studley has been forsaken by his A#1 Stalker.

A#1, a four-year-old girl, has spent a good percentage of her life stalking Studley. She has to sit next to him at school, cannot be in the pool unless she's near him and Freaks Out if he is out of her immediate sight. Until recently.

A week or so ago, A#1 started taking violin lessons. And then she took a group lesson and discovered that a little boy at her school, an older boy, also takes violin lessons. Older Boy has been taking lessons for a year and is a virtuoso. A#1 has shifted her sights, and has Older Boy on her radar. She sits with him at school. She eats with him. She pitches a mighty fit if someone sits between her and Older Boy. Studley, who was fairly "yeah, whatever" about her before, has been reported to stand around looking at the new couple balefully.

Poor little dude.

I was thinking of A#1 because Sugarplum and I went to see Philippe Quint play Mendelssohn's violin concerto (in E minor, Op. 64, if you must know). He was ridiculously good. If A#1 had been there, I thought, she would have sobbed like that girl at the Beatles concert and then thrown herself onto the stage. "Philippe Quint, I loooooooooove yooooooooou....." would have echoed through the hall as she was carried away over the shoulder of a security guard, her sparkle-shoed feet thrashing wildly. It would have been completely awesome and for a moment I wished I had left Sugarplum at home and taken A#1.

Being a Mendelssohn program, the concerto was followed by A Midsummer Night's Dream. This particular performance featured actors from The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, who I imagine were watching Quint from backstage and saying something along the lines of "oh, crap." They gathered their wits nicely and stole the second half of the show.

As I watched Titania, Oberon and Puck do their thing, I thought about Sugarplum, Studley, and A#1 Stalker. There will be girlfriends. There will be boyfriends. There will be heartbreak. There is a good possibility that one or all of them will fall in love with an ass - though hopefully not for long. And in their own good time, they will all live happily ever after.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

toggle bolt? molly screw?

With my superior strength, I ripped the towel rack right off the bathroom wall last night. I did not do it on purpose.

I told Chris and he just nodded. "Yep," he said, "I need to use molly snoggles."

"Molly snoggles" is a technical term for those anchor thingies that go in drywall and fan out. I called them molly snoggles once when I was searching for the real name and they have been molly snoggles ever since.

Chris just left to go to the hardware store for a thermometer and I asked him to pick up some... some.... I couldn't think of the real name. We have been calling them molly snoggles for so long, the real name is just gone. And you can't exactly google "what is the real word for molly snoggles," now can you?

The worst part is that I am raising kids who use my terminology. They think they are using the real words. Studley says things like "let's skedoodle to the car."

Meanwhile, the thermometer is for the new coop. The coop into which our stinky baby chickens will be moving today. Pictures of said coop coming soon (I tried today but my batteries died).

It is possibly the nicest piece of architecture on the property. It is also quite tower-like. At last, we have a tower. Stay tuned.


Chickens are in the coop! About an hour after putting them in the coop, I put cow manure on the new garden beds next to the house. Cow manure. What's wrong with this picture? The stench prevails.

Friday, April 3, 2009


The smell is unbearable.

Chris is in the basement working on the new chicken coop because a) I will bug him if he doesn't and b) the chicken babies are so stinky he'd rather not be in the same room as them. Every once in a while he comes upstairs with a "I think I'll be a slacker now" look on his face. He takes one inhalation and heads back down to the basement.

Want to hang out in my livingroom with me?

Speaking of stinky, I inadvertently trapped a skunk in the grown-up's coop the other night. I went out after dark and closed the door, never dreaming there was aught but chickens inside. I noticed a white stripe ambling around in the morning and wondered how I was going to get an ether-soaked rag near his nose so I could safely remove him.

As I approached the coop with aforementioned rag, I noticed the skunk was at the other end of the coop, not paying much attention to me. I opened the coop door, turned tail, and ran for the house, where I landed as if I were sliding for home plate. And then I hid under my bed for a little while.

That's quite enough nature for the time being, thank you.

And now I will take this clothespin from my nose and amble off to bed.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

my modeling job in Paris

I just updated my facebook status to say that I have a contract with a major modeling agency. For reasons I cannot fathom, people think it's a joke. It's so tragic to get a modeling contract on April Fool's day.

But seriously. Despite not having a modeling contract, I've decided it's time to shed those last few baby pounds. I know, I know, I somehow accrued these particular baby pounds before I conceived my first child. They're my pounds and I'll call them whatever I want.

I might even call them tenacious. Tenacious enough to attempt a diet.

I am being very well-behaved and have not cheated once in FOUR WHOLE DAYS. I have ten days to go before I get to indulge in decadent things like BROWN RICE. Woohoo.

I am not completely sure I will live that long. The first two weeks are supposed to cure my cravings for blueberry pie and brownies and oatmeal cookies and rootbeer floats and chocolate bread pudding and cheesecake and almond croissants and cupcakes and ice cream sundaes and birthday cake and butterscotch pudding and ginger snaps and banana bread and chocolate lava cake and peach melba and tiramisu.

It's not working.

Do people actually do this? Pick a diet that sounds reasonable and stick to it? It's not that I don't like the food on the diet. I do. My meals look more delicious than anyone else's. And I don't really have a sweet tooth in normal life. I prefer salty snacks. But now that I can't have it? Must. Have. Pie.

It's times like this that I can't remember why I thought losing weight was a good idea. If getting to eat normally means I wear a size larger than I'd like, I'm not sure that's a bad thing. It's just ONE SIZE.

Which means I don't have very far to go. Which means I can be normal soon?

What I dislike most about this process, besides the lack of pie, is how much power I am giving food. It's ridiculous. One diet says to eat this not that. Another diet says to eat that not this. And so we pick one and approach certain foods with fear and loathing. Which is silly. I believe food is good and food should be eaten. I believe much of what is sold as food is not actually food and should not be eaten.

I'm sorry I'm getting all soap-boxey. It's just that I really want pie. Or maybe a brownie. I would totally pipe down if I could have a brownie.

But if I'm giving power to food by being a total freak about what I am eating, am I not then balancing that power by working toward a break with my co-dependent relationship with brownies?

Oh, somebody please save me from myself.

And bring pie.

No wait, don't.

I...I...just don't know what I want anymore.