Monday, April 30, 2007

Just Can't Wait

What is the appropriate amount of time one should spend on hold before giving up and acknowledging that, despite the soothing classical music, your call is assuredly lost in the ether of the Fidelity hold system? I called with a question about my son's 529 account and was on hold long enough for my future college graduate to wake up from his nap. I felt I ought to cut the connection and go upstairs before he climbed out of his crib, fell on his head and sustained a brain injury which would result in bad grades on his MCAS and SATS, and lead to his not being accepted at even his back-up college sixteen years from now. Perhaps that was Fidelity's intension all along.

song: Just Can't Wait • artist: J. Giles Band

rainy day couplet #2

it's raining outside, do you think there's a way
to keep them from trashing the whole house today?

rainy day couplet #1

how much of the bubble paint and stamp-pad ink
can they eat before getting sick do you think?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

One

I sucked up one of H's socks with the vacuum cleaner this afternoon. I couldn't decide whether to open up the canister and fish it out, or just suck up the other one and be done with it.

song: One • artist: U2

Friday, April 27, 2007

Knowing Me, Knowing You

The latest chapter book we've been reading to C is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The other day at breakfast C declared that he wished Charlie was a real person. I presumed, though I didn't ask, that he wished this because he thought Charlie was a nice kid and that he would be fun to hang out with. I can picture it, they have a lot in common: their names both start with the letter C, they both have grandfather's named Joe, and they both have a penchant for finding money.
In an effort to reinforce the joys of reading I said that I'd read books where I'd wished the characters were real as well.
Once I said it I was immediately sorry because I knew what was coming.
"Who did you wish was real?"
Who indeed.
Well, it's not exactly high brow, but for a long while I wished that the cool friends in Bridget Jones's Diary were my friends. The friends get short changed in the movie, you need to read the book to appreciate them. But upon further consideration I decided that my friends were just as cool. They even have the added advantage of being real; most of them just live too far away. Bridget not only had cool friends who lived near by, she also got to date both Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. Lucky girl.
I read The Devil Wears Prada not that long ago. I enjoyed the character of the roommate, Lily, who was flawed yet likable - I don't want any pretend friends who are too perfect.
Currently I'm reading a book about the Transcendentalists called American Bloomsbury. I wouldn't have minded knowing Emerson, Hawthorn, Thoreau, Alcott, and Margaret Fuller. But they were real, it's just that they lived 150 years ago, so they don't count.
Then I got to thinking about how where you are in life might affect the important decision of who to choose for fantasy book-character relationships. If you'd asked me in high school, I would have offered up a resounding Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. Not because I wanted to meet them, but because I wanted to date them. If I met them now, to Sydney I would say: "Stop! she's not worth it! She doesn't even like you!" A far, far better place indeed. Sap. And to Heathcliff I would advise: "she married someone else, get over it already." There's no need to spend half the book moping about. On the other hand, characters I didn't think twice about back then I might find intriguing today. For example Hester Prynne of The Scarlet Letter fame. She was an interesting character to be sure, not to mention someone in need of a friend. I could probably do without knowing Gene or Phineas from A Separate Peace, and Holden Caulfield was too pessimistic even for yours truly.
After the rromance infatuation stage, I moved on to the pull-your-self-up-by-the-bootstraps and live-your-value types. People like Howard Roark and Dominique Francon, and John-the-savage from Brave New World.
I have heard people talk about books that "changed their lives." An acquaintance once said she decided to get divorced after reading Kerouac's Dharma Bums. Remind me never to read that. All I ever got from reading Kerouac was a headache, though I must admit I quit after On The Road. Likewise, I did not enjoy Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I knew someone who adopted Hunter Thompsons's schizophrenic style of writing, I guess you could say Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas changed his life, though I'm not sure for the better.
Getting back to my son's question though, I suppose what he meant to ask was, "when you were my age, mommy, what character did you wish was real?" That's easy. Pippi Longstocking. Definitely Pippi Longstocking.

song: Knowing Me, Knowing You • artist: Abba

Splish Splash

This is why we don't need an in-ground pool in our yard. They are wearing their boots, you just can't see them over the puddle.

song: Splish Splash • artist: Bobbie Darin

Steppin' Out

Is it safe to take a bath during a thunder and lightening storm? I wasn't sure, so I made them get out.

song: Steppin' Out • artist: Michelle Shocked

Hold My Hand

One of the greatest things about being a mother is having two small hands hold yours when crossing a parking lot. Of course it's difficult to free yourself from the pocket books, shoulder bags, diaper bags, and other assorted paraphernalia mothers seem required tote with them as if we were camels; but for the few times you can manage it and they'll both acquiesce to holding hands with you - at that moment, there isn't much that can top the sweetness of being someone's mom.

song: Hold My Hand • artist: Hootie and the Blowfish

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Circle


The kids and I went to Sphor Gardens last Saturday. Not that many of the daffodils were in bloom yet but that didn't stop us from having a good time. There were anchors to climb on, millstones to climb through, and rocks to throw in the water. And, C found four pennies by the parking lot.

song: Circle • artist: Harry Chapin

shoeless tercet

Again without your shoe
son number two?
What's a mother to do?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dead Skunk

Since C was out with Ken on Sunday afternoon, it seemed like a good time to boil up the dead mussels and quahog that he'd had sitting in a bucket of fresh water, along with the claw from a blue crab and a headless plastic action figure, outside our front door for a week.
Boil them up you say, why would I boil up dead shellfish? To fool my son into thinking the spaghetti and clam sauce we had for dinner that night was made from his catch - of course. Even if he did "catch" them lying in the dirt road on the way to Black Beach after last week's storm. That means they were probably dead before they sat outside our house in a bucket for seven days. Good thing. I wouldn't want to have any mollusk blood on my hands.
It would not have been enough just to tell C that the clams we were eating were his. Like Doubting Thomas he would have to see the empty shells in order to believe. I went as far as opening the canned clams, dumping them in a plastic container and putting them in the fridge, and then disposing of the cans in the recycle bin. I almost strategically placed the blender on the counter but then decided I didn't have to go that far.
C was still upset. He wanted to know if I'd used all his clams and mussels because said he had some other recipe to make with them. Then he vowed to go out and get more clams right away.
What struck me, aside from the fact that you can't win with preschoolers, was the lengths parents go through to lie to their children.
Before I had kids I remember a coworker admitting he told his children that their behavior-challenged dog went to "camp" instead of telling them the dog had been sent back to the pound. Another coworker said he told his daughter that roadkill animals were "just sleeping," instead of admitting they were dead. Some parents might see this as a "teachable moment;" one in which you warn your kids about the dangers of not watching for cars. I thought as much at the time, but here I am five years later unable to tell my kid his clams are dead, never mind the squirrel in the street.

song: Dead Skunk • artist: Loudon Wainwright

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

haiku for a nest


forget spring cleaning.
move out completely each fall.
rebuild in April.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

De Do Do Do

Here's some Earth Day irony.
When we were in Maine last month we took a few long walks. I noticed on one that the Trustees of Reservations, or whoever maintains the trail, offered the public a dispenser of small plastic bags at the trailhead. This enables dog walkers to be responsible for literally carrying out everything their pets carry in. In theory it's a great idea right? No poop on the trails for us non-dog walkers to step in, or for our children to play in (cause you know they would if they could).
The problem is that twice we saw tied baggies left behind, inadvertently or not, on the trail. So now, instead of doggie waste in the open air that would quickly decompose (or get eaten by other dogs), now there's doggie do that is hermetically sealed in plastic bags which could end up being in the woods for eons - or at least until it blows into nearby Portland Harbor.

song: De Do Do Do • artist: The Police

spring peeper haiku

I hear the peepers.
Tiny harbingers of spring
outside my front door

earth day quatrain


So here's to Earth
land of my birth
I'd better respect her
I can't defect from her

ouch! (a cinquain)

Onions
plus paper cut
make mommy's eyes water.
Someone get me a band aid, please.
That smarts.

Sweet Child O' Mine

Estelle and her family have been in town and came to our house for dinner last week. I was going to say that Estelle was Ken's last roommate; she lived with us at the Gunning Point house back in 1999 before we got married, but I guess technically that distinction belongs to me. Besides, she's got her own Ken now, plus baby Yumi.
It wasn't enough that she brought me a floaty pen with a picture of a volcano on it from the town in France where they live, I had to go and eat my son's gift of a chocolate bar too.
I'm no expert, but it seemed like a quality bar of chocolate. I know someone who would know, but alas she is out at sea. The label said the following: Onctueux coeur de truffe et coulis de chocolat. Enrob├ęs d'un intense chocolat noir 70% cacao. I don't know what that means. It seems I am destined to forever regret not paying attention in high school French class. My guess is it says "this chocolate is so good you will want to steal it from a four year old." I, however, like to think of it not as stealing so much as saving my son from the perils of tooth decay. By eating the candy bar I'm keeping him from a potential lifetime of oral hygiene woes. It's the dental equivalent of throwing myself in front of a bus; in this case not to save his life but to save his teeth.
Besides, we established on Friday that he can always get his sugar fix from Children's Tylenol.

song: Sweet Child O' Mine • artist: Guns N' Roses

Friday, April 20, 2007

Year of the Cat

Giving the cat antibiotics is the worst. It's worse than giving medicine to your kids. Children's Tylenol has so much "cherry flavoring" in it the sense I get from seeing my kids take it is it tastes downright good. At least no one ever complains.
The cat's medicine in contrast, although the same color, must taste not nearly as good since she runs away every time she sees me coming with it and I have to drag her out by the scruff of the neck to force it down. The scruff and the dragging are nothing compared to the dirty look she gives me after it's over that says, "I trusted you - how could you do this to me?"
That look is why I used to pay the vet to give her flea baths. I chose, for $25 a dip, to let her hate the veterinarian and not me.
Speaking of fleas, the vet once told me my cat had the second worst case of them he'd ever seen.
What? Only second worst? Still, it's impressive for an indoor cat who got fleas second had when she and I moved into an apartment formally occupied by another single woman - single longer than myself since she'd managed to accrue two cats and a dog - and a basement apartment full of fleas.
When I first got my cat she was a kitten and I was a recent college graduate. We made a deal, though she may not remember, that she would stick around until my 40th birthday. A date at the time that seemed light years, but is now a mere 10 months, away. This is why I keep chasing the cat around the house armed with the bottle of antibiotics. She's going to keep her end of the bargain dammit.

song: Year of the Cat • artist: Al Stewart

Thursday, April 19, 2007

cold spring haiku

Is it climate change?
She wondered out loud
from inside the house.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

there once was a man from nantucket...


It's a birthday couplet-
for the man from Nantucket!

Up on the Roof

Another day of rain equals another day of wondering whether or not our roof will leak. It retrospect, we took the blue tarp down prematurely having nailing it up Sunday morning in anticipation of the big storm. I recently bemoaned the fact that we are going to become known as the "West Falmouth Tarp People" by e-mailing my friend in Canada who just moved into a brand new house. She hasn't written back, no doubt she's unwilling to admit knowing "tarp people" like me. As if the tarp wasn't bad enough we've got an in-need-of-repair dory sitting in our driveway. All we need is an old truck with some tires missing. If we had a porch we could stick an old couch out on it.
The irony is that to a four year old, having the roof leak is about the best fun you can have indoors; second only to putting the cat in her travel box and pushing her around the house. My son was sincerely upset that we were putting up a tarp and spoiling his good time. He was elated yesterday when the roof finally did leak and he got to take all the Tupperware bowls out and strategically place them around the dining room. To be fair - it was only one leak and we only needed one container. I guess I need to look at home repair through the eyes of a preschooler and things wouldn't look so bad.
The situation was getting me down until I had to deliver some copy to a friend's house in town. I left the pages in a folder between the storm and front door and I noticed that there was a stick wedged into the storm door, presumably keeping it from blowing open in heavy winds.
I would not be exaggerating to say this woman and her husband might just be the smartest people I know. What a relief to find out that geniuses get behind on their home repairs too. Of course unlike myself, they've got the excellent excuse that they've been too busy saving the world to fix their storm door.
At least the big pile of dirt is gone from my front yard - remember that?

song: Up on the Roof • artist: The Drifters

Ride Captain Ride

A huge component of successful parenting is having the right stuff. The more children you have, the more stuff you need. When you go out someplace - it's like that George Carlin skit - you have to bring your stuff. The amount of stuff you need seems to be inversely proportionate to the size of your child. That is to say, the smaller the child, the more stuff they require.
We've all seen the (first time) parent pushing the enormous combination baby stroller and car seat with the 10lb baby asleep inside and the 20lb diaper bag stowed away in the underneath compartment.
That's the real reason I chose to breastfeed. It meant less stuff to have to carry around.
I do however own every kind of device imaginable for transporting ones offspring about before they are old enough to make it under their own steam. The list includes: jogging stroller, umbrella stroller, wagon, baby Bjorn, back pack (2 of them), and hip pack.
The trouble is deciding which one to bring on which outing.
My personal favorite is the back pack. It's more mobile than the stroller and you can put fussy children in it at home and continue to make dinner, do laundry, and answer e-mail. It's also easier to navigate through a store, just don't get up too close to things, H once knocked over a life-size cardboard display of Waldo at a bookstore in Sandwich. Another back pack caveat is that you need to constantly wear a hat to prevent your little hitch hiker from pulling out the rest of your already thinning hair.
There's a real art to choosing right combination of stuff for a given outing.
A few weeks ago (back when it wasn't raining) I brought the bike with training wheels for C and the stroller for H on an bike path walk. This turned out to be a mistake because H did not want to be in the stroller he wanted to ride his older brother's bike or, in lieu of that, walk by himself. I should have brought the back pack because it's less cumbersome to carry and I would have had it available when H finally tired himself out. When you have the stroller you have to move it off the bike path and set the break each time before running down the bike path in pursuit of your toddler - it's far too complicated.
The wagon, though not as utilitarian as the back pack (you can't really bring it into stores except for the post office and Coffee Obsession in Woods Hole), is another good choice because often I can get my older son to pull his younger brother and when he tires himself out there's room in the wagon for the two of them.
That's how we went to Saturday's Step it Up Rally. I was going to bring the stroller but had a revelation in the driveway and decided on the wagon at the last minute. Another plus for the wagon is it's easy to fit into the car and doesn't usually obstruct my view out the back window.
This turned out to be the right call. What's more appropriate for a demonstration on climate change than toting your children to the event in the alternative transportation provided by a Radio Flyer Red Wagon?

song: Ride Captain Ride • artist: Blues Image

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dress You Up

Everyday is the same routine. I spend what seems like half the morning trying to convince my son to take off his pajamas and put on clothes, only to turn around after dinner and have to wrangle him into his pjs again.
Logic doesn't work. Pointing out that his younger brother is already dressed (or undressed) has no effect. The threat of not leaving the house all day doesn't carry water.
One book on coping with the behavior of children suggested tackling the problem with humor. The author must have been a better man than I could hope to be because I find nothing humorous in trying to convince a four year old to get dressed, before the newspaper, before a cup of tea. Ditto for the end of the day when I'm exhausted and just want him to "get into your pajamas already!"
I've also read that you should indulge them periodically with the occasional pajama day. This advice is bunk because after you break all the rules once they can't understand why everyday can't be pajama day.
I've had some success in appealing to his competitive side by getting out the stop watch and timing how long it takes him to dress. Sometimes this works, but what you ultimately want is for them to want to get dressed - to want to cooperate - not to be tricked into it.
I think the real problem is that adults and kids see time completely differently. For you and I, the space between breakfast and lunch is brief, it's as if I finally get him dressed when BANG! it's time to get him undressed. The way he sees it, the time between morning and evening is almost infinite. I know this is true because often around lunchtime he'll say, "remember this morning when it took me so long to get dressed?" As if it's possible I might have forgotten something that happened a mere three hours ago.
"Yes," I say.
"Did you know it would take me so long to get dressed?" he says, sincerely unable to remember that we've played this game before.
"Yes," I say.

song: Dress You Up • artist: Madonna

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Stop Making Sense

Every week my son talks to his grandparents in Connecticut on the telephone. What's so funny about what he says isn't what he says, it's what he doesn't say. His recap of this week included announcing that it was Sandy's birthday, without disclosing that Sandy is his stuffed bunny; telling a story about a cat who had kittens at the Enterprise, without mentioning that it happened at least ten years ago; and telling about how he went to the boat show but there were all these signs that said "Do Not Touch" so he couldn't touch any of the boats until we saw a sign that said "Kids, you can touch these boats." He didn't let on that we were at a model boat show.
Saturday morning he looked outside from an upstairs window and saw an Easter egg a few rungs up a ladder in the backyard. I was in the back yard when he came screaming down and ran outside to collect it. I might have thought the house was on fire except our designated meeting place is by the horse head hitching post replica that our house number hangs off of in the front yard. Upon collecting his treasure, instead of realizing the stray egg was a left over from Sunday he declared in perfect kid logic, "the Easter bunny came back!"

album: Stop Making Sense • artist: Talking Heads

Just One Look

Like most sequels, I have long considered The Cat In The Hat Comes Back (TCITHCB) to be completely inferior to the original from whence it originated. So much so that I almost wish my mother had not squirreled away my copy of TCITHCB to pass down to my kids. The one bright spot (pun intended) in the book is this illustration. The nameless brother is suppose to be looking at the pink spot on "mother's white dress," but it's pretty evident what he's really gaping at. I didn't notice this as a kid, but it makes me laugh when I read the book to my son. Maybe it's purely accidental, but I think Dr. Seuss paid too much attention to detail in all his books to overlook nameless brother blatantly ogling his "mother's white dress" in TCITHCB.
This brings us to exhibit B, a sticker that came in the Dover Book of Old-Time Easter Stickers the Easter bunny brought my son. How busty is this bunny? She's some kind of weird "pinup" Easter bunny! And what's with the those tiny bunny feet? Rabbits have great big kangaroo-type back feet, suitable for jumping. Not only is this bunny just a little too well-endowed, she's been a victim of some sick, rabbit foot-binding experiment. Somebody call PETA.

song: Just One Look • artist: Linda Ronstadt

Friday, April 13, 2007

I Feel Lucky

paraskevidekatriaphobia: Greek for fear of Friday the thirteenth.
Why would the Greeks have a word for it if there wasn't something to it?
Better stay on the road and keep clear of the moors. No, wait, that's just for full moons.

song: I Feel Lucky • artist: Mary Chapin Carpenter

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Add it Up

My son is fixated with numbers. Last weekend he counted to over 1,000 while in the back seat of the car. in case you are wondering how far you might have to travel in order to count to 1,000 yourself, we drove round trip to Sandwich on Saturday and to Woods Hole and back on Sunday. He counted to 1,125 to be precise. I know this not just because I was there, but because he told everyone about it for the next week. "Did you know I could count that high," he asked his father, his grandfather, his grandmother, and anyone else who would listen.
When he's not counting he's in the back seat calling out random strings of numbers and asking me, "what number is that?" or surmising different measurements or weights, as in, "I think our house weights ninety-hundred," or "the hallway is about 100-feet, don't you think?"
Sometimes he'll tax my math skills by asking me to add things exponentially. He'll start with "what's two plus two," then four plus four, eight plus eight, and so on until I tell him I need a piece of paper in order to keep going and he can't understand why I'm stopping since he knows that numbers go all the way up to past one million.
And to think, I once considered majoring in math. If it hadn't been for word problems perhaps I would have.

song: Add it Up • artist: The Violent Femmes

Sympathy for the Devil

I rented (from the library) and watched the movie Saved! Tuesday night. Yes, I still watch teenage angst movies, ones that get good reviews. This movie made me like Macaulay Culkin a lot more than Home Alone or its sequel, and I never saw My Girl because, although I like teenage angst movies, I don't like tear jerkers. So in this particular movie the spin is that it's set in a Christian high school and most of the kids are born again Christians. This leads to lots of funny lines like, "You are just jealous of my success in the Lord," and "I mean you're not born a gay, you're born again!" The movie's antagonist, Hilary Faye, gets her comeupance at the prom, an event she's hell bent (pun intended) on attending despite a maxed out credit card, having to drive a handicapped van to the event, and, a big pimple on her chin.
I didn't feel bad for Hilary Faye - she had it coming to her - at least I didn't think I felt bad until I woke up yesterday with a pimple in the exact same spot as Mandy Moore's character. Imagine my surprise. Sympathy acne at my age!

song: Sympathy for the Devil • group: The Rolling Stones

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

You Ain't Going Nowhere

We did everyone's favorite activity on Saturday: took the cat to the vet. You should see both of my children crowd around when I have to give the cat her antibiotics twice a day. They are like little rubberneckers at the scene of an accident.

song: You Ain't Going Nowhere • artist: Bob Dylan

Monday, April 09, 2007

Our Town

Hey Pammie! I was going to mention last week that we'd gone out to dinner at Paul's Pizza Thursday night and after we got home all I could think about was the leftovers that were in the fridge and how I couldn't wait until morning to have them for breakfast!
I wasn't sure though if it was cool to expound on a restaurant I remember having my 10th birthday party at (before the restaurant burned down and was rebuilt), or if it just accentuated my pathetic lack of appreciation for sophisticated cuisine resulting from continued living in my own home town!

song: Our Town • artist: Iris Dement

Sunday, April 08, 2007

What's the Buzz?

The Easter story sounds pretty typical actually. Three women tell eleven men something very important and only one of the men believes the women and even he has to go and check it out for himself. (Luke 24:9-12)

song: What's the Buzz? • soundtrack: Jesus Christ Superstar

Saturday, April 07, 2007

It looks like you (got some explaining to do)

I just don't understand the rules of Easter. What exactly does the Easter bunny do? Does he (or she) take eggs you've already decorated and hide them in the yard? Does he (or she) hide eggs decorated by somebody else in the yard? Does he (or she) bring you an Easter basket, and if so, how does he (or she) get into your house - down the chimney like Santa? Do you provide the basket and the Easter bunny just fills it or does he (or she) bring a brand new basket every year?
I don't like this holiday because there's no agreed upon script. Whatever we decide, which is that the Easter bunny hides plastic eggs in the back yard and leaves presents on the deck, is most assuredly not what the Easter bunny does at other people's houses. How should I explain the inconsistencies? Do I say that the Easter bunny likes to "mix it up?"
It occurs to me that if my son had only come downstairs an hour ago when I had tissue paper, ribbons, plastic eggs, presents, and baskets strewn all over the dining room table the whole thing could have been over right then and there.
I can see why my parents stuck to the one about the religious figure who gets killed on "good" Friday and then brought back to life three days later. It's a lot easier to explain.

song: It looks like you (got some explaining to do)
artist: Evan Dando & The Lemonheads

Over There

Graphic design used to be an admired profession. There were people like Paul Rand, Saul Bass and Alexey Brodovitch - famous graphic designers. You had to know math equations to estimate if your copy would fit on the page in the size and typeface you desired. The profession had its own special language, people talked about picas and leading, x-heights and kerning.
Then computers became common place and anyone with a decent desktop publishing program and a Mac could be a designer. Then the programs went cross platform, got even easier, and began shipping with templates; and anyone who could maneuver a mouse could be their own graphic designer. They could, except that the jig would be up the minute they designed something with centered copy, or using all upper case letters.
It's much the same for writers. Perhaps even worse. I don't profess to be a writer as I have little academic training in the field. I came by it as a result of working for a small newspaper, where, if you expressed an interest in something it was possible you'd be given the chance to test your mettle.
Many summers ago my aunt learned that one of the conductors at the College Light Opera Company was also going to conduct Opera New England's fall opera. "Wouldn't you like to interview Elizabeth Hastings for the paper, dear?" she asked.
I agreed. The entertainment editor at the time agreed. I borrowed a tape deck and went to meet Elizabeth. So did my aunt who ended up doing 90% of the interview. I wrote the piece up, got all the credit, and went on to write other things for the newspaper though I still feel like an impostor calling myself a writer or a journalist. Writing is an art form, and as such, not something to be entered into lightly. Today anyone with a laptop and spell check can call themselves a writer, but as with graphic design, the slightest slip can cause the curtain to be pulled back, exposing the cheap veneer.
Take for example the improper use of the word "there." I know the word has three different spellings, but they are not interchangeable.
First you've got there the place, as in: I went there, but alas, I could not find them.
Then we've got their showing possession, as in: Too bad they left, I wanted to get their signatures on this petition.
Finally we have they're the contraction of they and are, as in: Damn. They're not here, they must have left.
If you mix these up in, say, a letter to your grandmother, well, that's one thing. If you call yourself a writer and submit copy for publication with such blatant errors, then it's time to apologize to your 10th grade English teacher - he told you to pay attention.
But maybe I'm just bitter because it's the day before Easter, 32-degrees out, and squirrels ate all my crocuses.

song: Over There • artist: George M Cohan

I Know a Chicken

This time I watched the eggs like a hawk (pun intended!), and took them off the stove the minute the water started to boil. Still, one cracked. What is it with these white egges? They must be more delicate than brown eggs. Guess that's because "brown eggs are local eggs, and local eggs are fresh!"
Speaking of fresh eggs, here's my farm pitch, Coonamesset opened yesterday, have you got your membership card yet?

song: I Know a Chicken • song: Laurie Berkner

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sign Your Name


My sister stayed over the other night.
She forgot to sign the guest book.
She did however have two bowls of my son's latest creation, "book soup".

song: Sign Your Name • artist: Terence Trent D'Arby

I Fall to Pieces

Eight eggs were hard boiled at our house yesterday morning. While in the living room queuing up Jemima Puddle Duck on the VCR, I accidentally boiled the eggs for too long, cracking two of them, which we ate for lunch. Lovers of Beatrix Potter will recognize the irony in this. In the story of Jemima Puddle Duck, Miss Puddle Duck is so intent on hatching her own eggs she leaves her farm and befriends a fox in order to have a go at it. Things end badly for those eggs as well.
This brought the total down to six eggs. One, left unattended, rolled off the dining room table. Another got holes poked in it by a curious toddler.
That left only four to paint, decorate with yarn, and cover with stickers.
And what's with this weather? I keep sending C out to hang plastic eggs on tress in the front yard and he keeps coming back in, telling me it's too cold to stay outside.

song: I Fall to Pieces • artist: Patsy Cline

blow out (a quatrain)

a balloon full of air
that ceases to be,
leaves child in despair,
annoys mom – that's me.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

White Rabbit

Alice did not feel encouraged to ask any more questions about it: so she turned to the Mock Turtle, and said "What else had you to learn?"
"Well, there was Mystery," the Mock Turtle replied, counting off the subjects on his flappers,–
"Mystery, ancient and modern, with Seaography: then Drawling – the Drawling-master was an old conger-eel, that used to come once a week: he taught us Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils."
"What was that like?" said Alice.
"Well I can't show it to you, myself," the Mock Turtle said: "I'm too stiff. And the Gryphon never learnt it."
"Hadn't time," said the Gryphon: "I went to the Classical master, though. He was an old crab, he was."
"I never went to him," the Mock Turtle said with a sign. "He taught Laughing and Grief, they used to say."
"So he did, so he did," said the Gryphon , sighing in his turn; and both creatures hid their faces in their paws.
"And how many hours a day did you do lessons?" said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.
"Ten hours the first day," said the Mock Turtle: "nine the next, and so on."
"What a curious plan!" exclaimed Alice.
"That's the reason they're called lessons," the Gryphon remarked: "because they lesson from day to day."
This was quite a new idea to Alice, and she thought it over before she made her next remark.
"Then the eleventh day must have been a holiday?"
"Of course it was," said the Mock Turtle.
–from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

If only Uncle Wiggly was so witty!

song: White Rabbit • artist: Jefferson Airplane

Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat

With cruise season approaching, this public service announcement is made at the request of a good friend who happens to be an experienced cruiser (of luxury liners, not muscle cars). It seems, not surprisingly, that ice shows aren't the only place where seat-savers create a nuisance. On cruise ships, people actually send their "representatives" up at 6AM to place towels on the prime lounge chairs nearest the pool, freeing up the cruiser to sleep in, meander up on deck at 11, and claim their saved spot. Other cruisers refer to this as chair hogging.
Pssst! Do not do this! The rest of the people on the ship hate you for this! Do not take their displeasure with you lightly as you may need these people someday. For example if the ship goes down in shark-infested waters and you find yourself swimming for the lifeboat only to see the folks you scorned from the "good" pool chairs taking to the oars and rowing off in the other direction. Or, if you're suddenly unable to breathe after accidentally swallowing a chicken bone at dinner and your own personal Julie McCoy is up on deck putting out your beach towel for tomorrow while your shipmates go on with their meals pretending they don't know the international symbol for "help! I am choking!"
I've been informed that other, less dramatic ways your shipmates will exhibit their disapproval at chair hogging include moving the offending towels and relocating the deck chairs, and then pretending to be asleep when the chair hogs finally arrive. Another tactic is to blatantly take the seats and, if confronted, say "I'm sorry but the people who were in these chairs left a little while ago and said we could use them." This leaves the chair hog confused and unable to know exactly who to be angry at; but you can bet Gopher's not getting a big tip at the end of the trip and Captain Stubing is going to hear about it when the ship gets in to Puerto Vallarta.

song: Sit Down Your Rockin' the Boat • soundtrack: Guys and Dolls

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

dearest christine, (a couplet)

More fab at thirty nine,
than any rhyme of mine!

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Piano Man


For a good time, listen to Glenway at Coffee O in Woods Hole.
Every Sunday morning!
Will work for cookies.

song: The Piano Man • artist: Billy Joel

Non Je Ne Regrette Rein

An e-mail from a high school friend informed me he was working "in Brest at the moment."
Working in Brest? It's like a teenage boy's fantasy.
A teenage boy who can't spell that is.

song: Non Je Ne Regrette Rein • artist: Edith Piaf

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Same Old Song and Dance

Last weekend was the annual ice show for the figure skating club. It was one of only a handful of shows in the past 35 years that I've attended as a sheer spectator and not been somehow involved in the performance. The first comment I want to make is about audience etiquette, which was, for the most part, decent. There wasn't a lot of talking, there was appropriate applause, and there was minimal amounts of people walking past and blocking the view of the ice. However, a word about seat saving. Firstly, a bouquet of flowers does not a saved seat make. At least put a little effort into it and spread out a blanket. Secondly, if your party cannot manage to arrive by the start of the first act, I think etiquette requires that they graciously forfeit their seats and allow the rest of us, who arrived a half-hour early, to spread out into the saved area.
Other observations concerned the performance itself. One thing that stood out was that my son was far more interested in watching the group numbers than the endless parade of features and solos that made up the bulk of the show. This wouldn't have crossed my mind before though it seems like a no brainer: what's more interesting, a whole lot of people skating around, or just one lone person skating around? If you'd asked me when I was 14 I'd have answered the soloist of course - isn't that the apex to which every young skater aspires? To have the spotlight on her alone? And when I was out there for my two minutes it would never have occurred to me that the entire audience might not be transfixed by my performance. That they might be busy unraveling a scarf or finding 12 cents in a spilled pile of popcorn or even leaving their seats to use the bathroom. However, even though, along with grandparents, they make up most of the audience, I guess four year olds weren't the demographic I was trying to impress back then.
And was it my imagination or were the axels a lot bigger when we were kids? I remember Anne Marie traveling in the air the length of half the rink. Well maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration but jumps did seem a lot bigger. And the music was faster. We weren't all trying to be dramatic and give the most memorable interpretation of a Whitney Houston hit. I did it all the time in practice to Diana Ross, the Carpenters, and Dionne Warwick (hey, I'm not proud), but most of us chose more upbeat songs for the show. I know it seems like the most important two minutes of your life, it seemed that way to me, but still, skaters should try to have a little fun and remember the old adage - if everyone skates slow and dramatic, then no one skates slow and dramatic.
I downloaded "Trickle, Trickle" by the Manhattan Transfer off iTunes just to confirm that it was indeed a fast song - remember when Susie Beale skated to that?
Now that girls ice hockey has become mainstream I wonder too if figure skating has lost some of its more athletic skaters to the sport. Given the opportunity, would Susie, Jill, and Anne Marie have played hockey instead? There aren't any solos in a game of hockey, only two minute penalties, but there are college scholarships for female hockey players and that's got to provide some incentive. I can't say there's the same for figure skating.

song: Same Old Song and Dance • artist: Aerosmith