Tuesday, September 29, 2009
"Ah," said my friend, "the downward spiral into darkness."
Which was not the metaphor for marriage I was looking for.
Fortunately, I can rationalize anything. I figured if we were going to spiral into darkness, it was a good idea to do it together. After all, who wants to be all alone in the dark? I have plenty of my own dark, and quite frankly I'm glad to have someone to hold on to.
More recently, a friend observed that the equinox is an "apex for change." This, if you're wondering, is why you should talk to the friends who are recently engaged when you're getting married, and not so much the ones who are recently divorced.
Our marriage has definitely been more "apex for change" than "downward spiral." And for this I am truly grateful.
I admit it, I take much for granted. We just live our lives, right? We squabble over who left the kitchen the bigger mess. We go to work. We figure out who's doing what with the kids. We spiral through the darkness. But in the process of living our lives, it seems we've been growing up. Not all the way, but more than I realized and in ways I didn't think applied to us. We are a different version of ourselves than we were eight years ago. And it's way more okay than I thought it would be.
I have always been proud of Chris. First I was proud of how smart he is. Then I was proud of what a good dad he became. And now I'm proud of the adult he's turned into. I could not, would not, ask for a better partner to spiral anywhere with - into change, or darkness or the bright light of a new day.
If you're there, honey, I'm going too.
Here's to many, many more years of balancing eggs.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I was at symphony this weekend and I couldn't help but wonder what happens when a violinist breaks a string. Where are the roadies and guitar techs? Does some dude in a black concert t-shirt and a laminate scurry on stage, grab the violin and whisk it into the wings for restringing? And if so, why have I never seen it? Maybe at symphony they use kabuki puppets so we don't notice all the scurrying?
Or! Maybe the idea of having so many stringed instruments is that if one blows out, the others can cover for it. Violinists are like the extra wheels on a tractor trailer truck.
I played in a student orchestra in high school and honestly don't remember what happens if you break a string. I was mostly afraid I'd lose an eye when a violin string broke. I remember breaking them when I was tuning, so maybe violinists don't break strings while performing. Or they just break them on the hard core pieces, for which they have spare violins lined up on little violin stands. They need the spares because sometimes? violins get thrown.
I don't seem to ever get tickets to those performances.
So! Cultural weekend! I was mistaken for an artist, which was fun. I was told I looked like Juliette Binoche, which is always very welcome (the resemblance is strikingly...dissimilar). I met a very creative and thinky person whose work I admire - and found him worthy of all accolades. And I went to symphony and compared the first and second violin sections to semi trucks.
Time for bed. My work here is done.
I forget you are little and wonder why you act like a child sometimes. You are so capable, it's confusing. You are some of the best company I could wish for.
Seven years ago today, I was walking the hospital halls, waiting to meet you. Daddy was asleep in the (very uncomfortable) reclining chair, PERL programming book at his feet.
When you were born, just in time for lunch, you looked right at us as if you had known us all along. You are the part of us that makes us US. We have no idea what we did before you.
This year, you want grown up things for your birthday. Tea with friends. Symphony tickets. I'm on my way out now to buy you flowers. You will take out all my vases and arrange them yourself.
You started a new school this year, where you didn't know anyone. Now you have a pile of friends, and eenie-meenie-meinie-moe to decide who to sit with on the bus. Who is this couragous and confident girl, who stands where the deer in headlights once stood?
I am so proud of you. So proud to know you. We are all truly, truly blessed.
Happy birthday, Sugarplum.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Bloom is survived by countless siblings, living all across the continental US and anywhere else the hatchery ships. Her friends, Mourning Glory, Despondent, Bereaved, Forlorn and Woebegone will have a private memorial service at their home this afternoon.
We'll miss you, Bloom, and hope there is a heaven for chickens.
Pictured by the Japanese footbridge in the garden of her home on Cape Cod, before she accidentally invited a hawk to come for tea.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
me: do you love their muffin tops more than my muffin tops?
chris (sensing he's getting set up): no honey, you have the best muffin tops ever.
chris: I did it wrong, didn't I?
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Being new at this, we didn't know how to deal. Your kid screams and you go in and hold her, right? Except she's not awake and in her reality, the giant squid she's been screaming about has just rushed into her bedroom and grabbed her. It's maybe even making her scream extra loud because a giant squid that calls you "sweetie pie" and runs its slimy tentacles through your hair is just plain creepy.
Thanks to the pediatric advice of Google, we learned a little bit about what we were dealing with and could approach it with a little more finesse. Which means, we didn't touch her.
I'd go in and use my best exorcist voice to let her know I was scaring off the scariness. Or I would say "Sugarplum! you're not afraid of it!" until she believed me. Or I'd tell her she was smarter and stronger and better than "it." And then I'd sing to her and run my slimy tentacles through her hair and tell her it was all gone.
We stopped trying to wake her out of the dream, and started changing her experience.
Sugarplum eventually outgrew it, and we were pleased to note that Studley was not following in her footsteps. Until last night.
Last night we heard the familiar screams and went to go administer the pep talk. But where Sugarplum was just screaming her little lungs out, Studley was saying something almost intelligible.
Studley (sobbing, gasping, screaming): don't take my lunch!
me: it's okay, you have your lunch. No one's taking it.
Studley: (hiccup.... snore....)
I wish it could always be this easy.
And I wish I could remember to do this for myself. When I'm awake.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
The Upstairs Neighbor went with us and at some point she noted that there were cupcakes in the den. Which seems like a good reason to check out the artwork in the den, no? Cupcakes procured, she and I sat on the bottom stair (which faces away from all the party action) and hid. Big Daddy (which is for all intents and purposes his real name since that's what everyone calls him and I know none other), came around the corner.
"You haven't seen us" we said in unison.
They were delicious. All jacked up on sugar, we then moved into the "I love you, man" phase of the party. Orange frosting brings out gratitude for friends and family. It would have emboldened me to actually talk to the people I was tickled absolutely pink to meet, but they probably left when they noticed the cupcakes were all gone. They are funny and smart. I just googled them to see if they had any videos I could post and show you what funny, smart people I know, but I didn't find anything so they are funny, smart, not-famous people and I am glad I ate their cupcakes.
And then today I ate oysters and oyster fritters and tempura veggies and am feeling ever so slightly unwell. I went to Boogie on the Bay, a WOMR festival that has music, food and art/craft/whatnot vendors, and I have a strict policy of No One Leaves Until the Last Dollar is Spent at such things. Thus the tempura veggies.
And then the kids had the audacity to say they were hungry when we got home and is it my fault they were making noodle necklaces while I was supporting the culinary arts SINGLE-HANDEDLY? I think not.
I made dinner for them and my MiL because I am a saint or some other sort of divine being, and then I tested the usefulness of technology by texting Chris "please bring me a whoopie pie when you come home." I had forgotten about them when I bought the tempura veggies. And then I put the request on my facebook page, for good measure. If I don't get a whoopie pie, wireless technology is a useless waste.
And now, we wait. On the bottom stair.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Taped to the desk at Kleist's was a sign that said "Eat a live frog every morning. It will be the worst thing you do all day." I have never forgotten that sign. Obviously.
I do not eat live frogs every morning, but I have started taking morning exercise classes, which I think is the same thing. What is all this talk about exercising in the morning and feeling energized all day? Is this a "better living through chemistry" situation? I may need something a little stronger, because the morning class with an herbal tea chaser is not doing it for me.
Which is not to say that I will stop. I am awake just as early as I used to be, but I don't have to drive as far every day, so I have a bit of time to burn. Also, I am chubby. Additionally, while Chris would probably not be hip to helping out* so I can dash off every morning to have coffee with a friend**, he is hip to covering for me so I can get to an exercise class. Especially since I'm doing it for him.
Hahahahaha! I'm not doing it for him. I'm doing it so I can go out and buy all new clothes.
Anyway. I've taken pilates and yoga, and am deciding which to go with. Here's what I've discovered:
Pilates works and develops your core. After taking a pilates class, I realize I already use my core in myriad ways. Sneezing, for instance, engages the core. Which now hurts.
People in pilates have better pedicures than people in yoga. What's with that? I went to pilates and realized I needed a pedicure. And then I went to yoga and discovered that running barefoot through wet grass and arriving with grass clippings stuck to my toes is a mark of distinction. I expect they will want to line me up for a photo shoot, which means I can work off my classes by being a foot model. A yoga foot model, not a pilates foot model.
So I think the answer is to do just enough pilates to keep me in enough pain to make yoga feel like a blessed relief.
The other option is to feed Chris more cheesecake so he goes up a size or two, which will make me appear thinner. Then instead of going to class, I'll sneak off to have coffee with a friend. For which I will need a pedicure.
* Someone has to tell Studley to put his pants on. 700 times.
**Chris is actually the nice one of the family, and does let me put down my mop from time to time. If I were him I'd be all "I don't care if you're working, woman! Make my dinner." And then I'd rub my belly and search for the remote.
Monday, September 14, 2009
The official spelling is Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight SavingS Time.
Saving is used here as a verbal adjective (a participle). It modifies time and tells us more about its nature; namely, that it is characterized by the activity of saving daylight. It is a saving daylight kind of time. Because of this, it would be more accurate to refer to DST as daylight-saving time. Similar examples would be a mind-expanding book or a man-eating tiger. Saving is used in the same way as saving a ball game, rather than as a savings account.
Nevertheless, many people feel the word savings (with an 's') flows more mellifluously off the tongue. Daylight Savings Time is also in common usage, and can be found in dictionaries.
I love the word "mellifluous."
I also love to think about what he/she would do when receiving an email asking when Daylight Saving's Time is.
That was painful to write.
(November 1, btw)
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Chris: where should I put the Jaguar?
Upstairs Neighbor: if Susan were here, she'd tell you to back it up about 8 feet.
Chris: but that's right where the tree will....
Upstairs Neighbor: exactly.
I looked outside, thinking I'd give you an inventory of what was all over our lawn. The inventory would go on and on and you would all laugh and say things like "oh you Trouts!" or "there are not words for how grateful we are not to live next to you." But all I saw was a whiffle bat, two soccer balls, a 5 gallon bucket, a dish rag and a beach bag. This is something of a record.
We are also missing two trees. On purpose. Chris and the Upstairs Neighbor took them down last week and I tell you, it's like a whole different yard. In a good way. I was a little afraid I'd look out and understand why those trees were there in the first place. And I'd ask Chris to put them back. I can't seem to arrange livingroom furniture right the first time, why should the yard be any different?
I already told you about the bathroom tile, AND the dishwasher. The dishwasher hardly leaks at all. The fact that it's designed for a single person, and we have 5 to 8 people putting dishes in it just means we don't have to wash the silverware by hand anymore. Which means we can stop using plastic forks.
Thinking we were on a roll, I asked Chris if he could install the stereo so all the wires run through the walls instead of puddling on the floor. He said "I have this idea for a home automation system." Which is always dangerous. He launched into this description of how we'll have an infrared thingy with no visible means of operation. I think we will have something implanted in our index fingers to cue playlists, but since I understood exactly none of what he was saying, it could be a toe.
Our robot vacuum has stopped saying "please remove and clean Roomba's brushes!" every four minutes, so those of us who walk around barefoot can stop saying "gah! ew! who cleans this place?!?!?" Turns out Roombas get in the mood for a little back-to-school shopping, and need a new filter every now and again.
So basically, take the Jetsons, add chickens, shake until dizzy and you've got us.
See? Things are looking up.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
It's good on so many levels. Mostly, it's just good to be home. It's good to see people I know on the road when I drive Studley to school. It's good to stop for coffee and see friends. It's good to get behind a car with an "Eat More Kale" bumper sticker, even though I cannot choke down kale. It's what makes this part of Cape Cod, well, this part of Cape Cod. The sentiment, I mean. Not the kale.
It's good to work at a real office when the kids are in school, instead of hopping from wifi hotspot to wifi hotspot.
We moved here because we wanted to be HERE. We love life out beyond the Cape's elbow. Things are a little slower, a little scrappier, a little kale-ier. It's our home, and I for one have missed it.
Which is not to say that I haven't loved getting to know the Upper Cape (the part that's just this side of the canal) and the people there. Lucky for me, they all stand between me and Target, so we won't be separated forever.
A friend of mine just moved here from there. She's homesick. For her, it's not her neighbor pulling out of the lumber yard ahead of her. It's not her friend stopping in the middle of the road to ask Sugarplum how her first day of school was. It's not an art gallery filled with pre-Sugarplum nostalgia and bright, shiny memories. But it will be, given time.
This morning I took the scenic route to Studley's school. Driving along the ocean road, I rolled down the windows to smell salt air. This road will be practically deserted in a couple months, as the last summer people secure their shutters. With no tourists in my way, I could drive much faster. But I don't know why I would.
It's good to be home, and I don't really need to be anywhere else in a hurry.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
If you are smarter than me, you can figure out how to vote for it.
I have to wait nine months before I can plant tomatoes again? There's no more hope of feeding my family off the land this year? They won't give me a beach sticker even if I do find my registration? I went the ENTIRE SUMMER with no beach sticker?* That was the last show at the Beachcomber? It's too late to get a sitter and try to catch something? What do you mean the ice cream shops are closing for the season? What am I supposed to doooooooo?
Can I write this entire post with nothing but questions?
I've been so excited about school buses and fall weather, I forgot that there are things going by the wayside. It is clearly time for our last ditch attempt at making summer not break up with us. It never works, of course, but at least we'll give it our best effort. We must:
- go bumper boating, stat
- have a beach fire
- have a driveway fire
- eat out before all the restaurants close
- walk on the flats
- sail at least one more time
- figure out how to set our tide clock, for crying out loud
* I love the beach at off-hours. And we've been living at ponds this year. Don't call DSS. I haven't been neglecting my kids' water requirements.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
That said, I'm incredibly lazy and only agree to work for people and projects I like a lot.
Chris and I went to see Boyce And Melinda Petersons' Investment Strategies For The Post-Money World, A New Musical by Gip Hoppe, staring Gip Hoppe and Julie Perkins - otherwise known as "The Longest-Titled Theater-Thing Ever" - last week.
Boyce and Melinda (Gip Hoppe and Julie Perkins) made Chris do that thing where his mouth is open and his eyes are all crinkled up, but there's no sound coming out. We later equated the experience to watching the british version of The Office. You know, at once hilarious and unbearably painful to watch. Right when you think it can't get any worse, right when Ricky Gervais would be going for his guitar, they burst into song. Gip wrote the words, Chandler Travis wrote the music and both of them are twisted in ways many people only dream of.
We sat next to someone who lives in a yurt, off the grid. Now that may seem off-topic, but since much of the play refered to the post-money economy of 2019, it seemed weirdly appropos.
And since when are you busting me for being off-topic? Especially when there are yurts involved?
Anyway, it's been selling out and they've extended the run a second time. My point is, if you feel like flying/driving/swimming to Cape Cod and seeing some theater, I'd highly recommend doing it next weekend. Gip's taken his plays to Broadway in the past, so there's a good chance you can see it there sometime. But don't press your luck, people.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Trust me, it would be a big mistake.
I was taking a walk today and wound up chatting with a neighbor who was out weeding her garden. I noted that I was on my way home to do the same thing. She asked, "to pull out all the rotting vegetables?" which I took personally. Are people walking by my house and noticing that our vegetables are rotting? Have they been wondering when we'd tidy things up? I am busy, people. Back off.
It turns out everyone's vegetables are rotting. We all have tomato plants laden with tomatoes that will never, ever ripen.* My neighbor suggested making fried green tomatoes. She also said she made green tomato salsa.
Since I was growing tomatoes for the express purpose of making salsa, I thought this sounded like a fine idea. She told me to use the same recipe I had used to make my tomatillo salsa, which was spectacular.
So I did! I gathered up all the tomatoes and painstakingly diced them (no food processor). And then I diced the jalapenos and the red pepper (no food processor). After I diced everything (which took me two and a half weeks, roughly) I remembered that tomatillo salsa is often pureed and I could have thrown the whole silly thing in the blender. Live and learn.
I added lime juice and rice vinegar. I simmered it for 20 minutes. I added cilantro (yes, I know many of you hate cilantro. It's not my fault). I let it cool and prepared to freeze it.
The mistake I made was tasting it. Even with two jalapenos, it is slimy and bland. I have never eaten old socks, but I suspect there's a similarity.
"Feed it to the chickens!" said my family.
I think I can liven it up a bit when it comes out of the freezer this winter - maybe add a chipotle in adobo for some kick, and a chopped avocado. I'll have to try, because the chickens won't touch it.
Come to think of it, it might be good ON chicken. Served with chicken, I mean, not dropped on them. I don't drop things on them on purpose, but it is funny to see them wandering around with a pile of penne on their backs. I don't get out much.
So we didn't have salsa on Clean Up the Garden Day. But we did have fried green tomatoes, roasted eggplant,** acorn squash, and goat cheese and zucchini pizza. Not exactly Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, but a fine haul nonetheless.
And now our vegetable garden is free of rotting vines and muck. Scourge of the neighborhood, we are not. At least, not because of the garden.
* For someone whose agricultural experience was previously limited to sticking toothpicks in avocado pits, there's something satisfying about comparing tales of failed crops.
** I did this with eggplants once and now we hardly ever eat them any other way. You slice them thinly (lengthwise), lay them on an oiled baking sheet and spray them with olive oil. Grind some sea salt over them. Stick them under the broiler until they start to brown and then flip them to brown the other side. They are pretty much a vehicle for olive oil and salt. Delicious.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
When you're first learning, you find that if you have centered it properly and don't use too much force, you can make the clay take the shape you had in mind. It's kind of magical to watch. A lump turns into a lump with a dent. The dent gets deeper and becomes a cup. You keep it centered and push just enough, and something wondrous happens.
And then you look up for a second and the next thing you know, it's gone all wobbly and clay is flying and you have no idea what you're holding in your hands.
That's the point we're at raising Sugarplum. But in a good way.
I thought it would be like throwing pots, this child-rearing thing. I make sure we stay centered. I keep my hand in it, but not too firmly. I encourage her to grow by pushing her just a little. I add water to keep things from getting sticky.
I thought I would always know how she was shaped. I thought she would always be who I thought she was. That she's more of a cup than a bowl. More of a vase than a pitcher. Then I look up, and see she's gone and given herself a spout and a handle. I am not ready for her to make herself useful. I'm not ready for her to show signs of being someone I didn't anticipate. Something that's beyond my control.
For years, since I was a child, I imagined what my children would be like. I always assumed they would act the way I pictured them. And to some extent, they do. Or, more likely, I've adjusted my picture without realizing it. But from time to time, I notice that what I am looking at does not jive with the picture in my head. She is growing up. She is hitting her stride. She is like no one I've ever known or imagined.
Maybe it's me that's going all wobbly and flying across the room. As for Sugarplum, she is - and always has been - exactly who she's supposed to be.
Do I have this right? I'm supposed to walk my daughter down the street at an ungodly hour of the morning. A bus will arrive. I put my daughter, and a little piece of my soul, on the bus. I do not know where she's going (okay, I know where the building is). I don't know who she will be spending the day with. I don't know what she's supposed to take with her. I don't know what the heck I'm doing.
Where are the people who are supposed to be holding my hand? I want an orientation day! No, not for Sugarplum, she's fine. It's for me. I want to know what her desk looks like. Does her room have windows? Does her teacher smile? Where on earth is the bathroom? Sweet LORD how do people do this?
The only thing I can think of to do is to cut some holes in a black trash bag, glue some leaves on it and wear it to her school. No one will notice me.
While I am gluing leaves, I'm open to other ideas. Camera in her headband? Oh! Maybe we can hack the school surveillance system! But what I'm asking you is, what do NORMAL people do on the first day of school?
Now lest you think I'm a helicopter mom, I....
Well I guess I might be.
Forget the parenting advice, can you suggest a hobby? Or you could suggest a hobby AND tell me this is all normal protocol. I'll be the one in the corner, eying the sedatives.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Studley liked the old school. Studley likes the new school. We are raising Studley to be Switzerland.
The weather, being no respecter of calenders, went all Septembery on us last week. It's been dry and cool and perfect. Pavlov's dog is in the mood to buy some notebooks, highlighters and paisley patterned folders. Maybe some new shoes. Pavlov's dog digs new shoes.
It's nice that all the fresh starts happen throughout the year instead of being all bunched up. There's New Years Eve, when we make all our resolutions. There's February 13 when we break up with people. And there's the fall, when we all feel like something new and exciting must be about to happen, even if we've been out of school for a really, really long time. I speak not of myself, of course.
One of the nice things about parenthood is that you get to do all this stuff vicariously through your kid. Sugarplum will be riding a bus this year, which has me frantic with nervous delight. Every once in a while I wake her up at night and ask her things like "but what do you do once the bus gets to school? How will you know where to go?" She doesn't give me any real answers, having never actually ridden a school bus before. She tells me to go back to sleep.
I suspect the thing she is most nervous about is explaining the crowd of people waiting at the bus stop with her. Because you know all of us at the Towers will want to go: the MiL, the Queen Mum, the Upstairs Neighbors, Studley, Chris and me. It will be like one of those wireless network commercials. "Oh them? They're just my network."
It's just that we've never done this before, and we're kind of excited.
It is September 1. On the verge of the off season. Are you as excited as I am?