Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Baby You Can Drive My Car

Why do we make baby toys in the shape of car keys? Isn't handing the car keys over to one's teenager one of life's most terrifying thoughts? And yet we readily give plastic toy keys to our babies to chew on. Where's the logic in that?
Speaking of keys - I couldn't find mine on Monday. Back in the olden days, loosing my keys would have upset me - I always hated losing things. But now that I lose my mind on a regular basis misplacing the keys is no big deal; after all, unlike my sanity, I do have a back up set.
So I used the spare keys all day and that night, when I took N out of his car seat, I found them. He had been sitting on top of them. Guess he wants to get started with the real McCoy even before his teens.

song: Baby You Can Drive My Car • artist: The Beatles

No Time

I have to admit that I didn't watch much of the olympics. Sure, I heard about Mike Phelps, Even a stay at home mother of four couldn't miss that buzz.
I could be snobbish and say that I didn't watch because there was no figure skating, my sport of choice; but gymnastics is more or less the summer olympics equivalent of figure skating and still I didn't watch.
I could say that I didn't watch because I was making a one-woman political protest over the way the communist-run Chinese government treats its citizens; but I've never gotten up on that high horse before so it's unlikely I'd start now. I'm the type of person who is more annoyed by people who idle their cars than by human rights violations in China. My priorities seem to be askew but that's the way it is isn't it? One can't really help what one is passionate about can one.
I could say that some of the summer olympic games are just ridiculous - too ridiculous. Olympic beach volley ball for example. Just how does one progress up through the ranks to become a member of the olympic beach volley ball team? Are the playoffs sponsored by Budweiser and held during spring break in Miami?
Then there's team handball or excuse me, Olympic team handball. Sorry folks - I can't be the only one out there thinking that handball sounds like a sport lonely college males participate in late at night in the privacy of their dorm rooms; perhaps while they're watching the women's olympic beach volley ball team compete.
But alas, the real reason is far more mundane. It's the same reason that the library copy of the movie The Namesake remained unwatched on the tv console for three weeks - I don't have any free time.

song: No Time • artist: Guess Who

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

That's Life

One more on gardening.
Others have expressed this idea far more eloquently than myself but I love how the garden is a metaphor for life.
Here is one way that my garden imitates life. In the spring and early summer, it's all neat and tidy, lettuce, peas, and kale in orderly rows, tomatoes inside their cages. Life is like that. When we start out things are less complicated even though we image we are already creatures of great complexity. Life starts out orderly and we foolishly think that it will remain that way. Then life throws surprises at us - the unexpected or the unthinkable happens and suddenly, despite our best efforts, everything is a bit of a mess. Around mid July things in the garden become dishelveled. Carefully laid out plans fall apart. Pole beans grow taller than their poles. Sunflowers topple over and need to be staked up. Tomato plants grow suckers and reach out well beyond their cages, falling into the middle of other rows, bush beans turn out to be pole beans and start attaching themselves to everything within reach. Pest invade looking for their piece of the pie.
Then come weeds which are to the garden what television and People Magazine are to life: mindless distractions. Popping up everywhere they seduce us by begging: "pay attention to me." How many hours do we spend weeding when we should have stifled them at the onset by putting down seaweed thereby saving our energy for more important tasks?

song: That's Life • artist: Frank Sinatra

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chances Are

When I was pregnant with C I suggested we name him Chance after the protagonist in the book Being There (it's Peter Sellers if you've seen the movie). Remember how he's hit by a car and when they ask his name he answers that he's Chance the gardner and they call him Chauncey Gardiner and elevate him to high rank and status? Everyone thinks he's being profound when he talks about the garden or ruminates on things he's seen on TV. Kind of a Clark Rockefeller circa 1970. If we'd have used the name we would presently have a five year old named Chance Gartner, about as close as Chance Gardiner as you can get. Ken vetoed it and I acquiesced, figuring not that many people would have gotten the joke and I'd have to expend a lot of energy explaining it. Chance is such a prep school name anyway, which was sort of the point in the book, but what are the chances any of my four kids will be going to prep school? So I suppose it's all for the best that we didn't go with that.

song: Chances Are • artist: Johnny Mathis

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Come Back When You Grow Up

Gardening and kids just go together. What else could explain the analogy, "children grow like weeds?" Every garden plot, no matter how small, contains dirt and bugs, what more could a five year old want? I upped the gardening ante this summer by signing C up for the Little Sprouts gardening class at Coonamessett Farm which met every Monday from 1:30 until 3:00. Initially he couldn't understand why. "I already know about gardening," he informed me.
Instead of a prolonged discourse on how people spend their entire lives learning to become better gardeners and how that's really the beauty of the activity - it's something you can improve at with age - I merely told him to wait and see if he liked it.
The final class met this week. He must have liked it because Sunday night his younger brother asked if he could sleep with him and C told him "no" because he had gardening class and he had to wake up "by one o'clock."

song: Come Back When You Grow Up • artist: Bobby Goldsboro

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Grow Some Funk Of Your Own

The gardens look pretty good this season. They looked great in June but then we harvested most of the original crops and some of the new things we planted didn't grow so well.
This year we tried some new vegetables in addition to the onions that we planted last fall - which turned out to be garlic.
We weren't above taking donations from friends. Carolyn's tomatoes and peppers did well and for the first time ever we grew decent basil from plants Carolyn passed along. Shawna's Swiss chard grew fabulously. The lettuce seeds we saved after letting the lettuce bolt and go to seed on purpose last year grew better than the new seeds I bought.
We tried a different variety of carrots. A shorter variety. Perhaps you saw them at the county fair - they won a blue ribbon. C was crushed to learn that he wasn't old enough to enter an exhibit in the fair's youth exhibits. You have to be eight. His reaction to this news was, "Eight is almost a grown up!" And so we entered the carrots and just like Mike Phelps, though without much chance of future product endorsements, they they brought hold the gold.
There were, however, some set backs.
I picked all the kale from our community garden plot and gave three quarters of it to the service center. The rest I brought home but accidentally left in the car for four hours, rendering it lifeless. I suppose it's better than leaving a twin in the car but nonetheless I was disappointed to be out a big bowl of kale soup.
Rabbits infiltrated the community garden fence. They ate all the buds off my purple bush beans and all the leaves off my cabbage plants.
This summer I learned that if I read the package of seeds carefully, maybe next summer I won't mistake bush beans for pole beans. I kept planting rows of beans in the back yard and not understanding why they kept sending out all these shoots, grabbing on to each other, and becoming hopelessly tangled.

song: Grow Some Funk of your Own • artist: Elton John

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Summer Days

I know what you've been wondering. It's not how is H's potty training going or how are you managing with the twins. It's how goes the gardening and the campaign to eat more locally grown produce this summer? Well I thought I'd take this week to tell you.
This summer it's been easier to work locally grown foods into our meals than last summer. I don't even have to obsess over my one item a day gimmick. I think I'm easily using locally grown foods in all our dinner meals because I have dubbed this "the summer of the salad."
It has been my goal this summer to keep a variety of salads in the fridge at all times. Not limited to green leafy salads, I've made taboulis, barley salads, beet salads, a ridiculously spicy moroccan carrot salad, chicken salad, and tuna salad. I think that this is the turning point I contemplated last summer when I realized that in order to incorporate more local foods into our diet I would have to change the foods we ate. It's not easy to get local produce into a baked mac and cheese, or a tuna casserole. It is easy to get them into salads and pesto.
It also helps that I'm not pregnant this summer. Last summer looking at lettuce made me nauseous.

song: Summer Days • artist: The Partridge Family

Monday, August 18, 2008

I Go To Pieces

Everyone knows how kids can play for hours with just a cardboard box. Who needs toys? But did you also know that kids can play with broken toys way beyond the point at which an adult would consider the toy to be trash. The particular toy I have in mind came into our house via one of the routes by which cheap plastic toys infiltrate my home - inside a goodie bag. It started life (most likely in China) as a slide whistle. Quickly though, the slide piece was separated from the whistle and it became just a whistle. It went on as a long flute-like whistle for some time, and then, after being used as a drum stick once two often, it broke in half at the point where the red mouthpiece met the yellow cylinder. You'd think that would be the end of it but since the broken stump piece still whistled it hung around the house for a while longer. Today I noticed that the mouthpiece was cracked on both the right and left side meaning that the top of the mouthpiece was collapsed down on the bottom maybe even to the point that, like a straw that gets chewed up beyond repair, no air will go in when blown into. I was going to test the theory by blowing into it to see if it worked but then I feared that I would be the one to cause the cracked sides to separate - then I would be accused (and rightly so) of breaking C's slide whistle.

song: I Go To Pieces • artist: Peter and Gordon

Friday, August 15, 2008

Love at the Five and Dime

Glue Stick
5" Blunt Tip Scissors
Antibacterial Hand Soap
Colored Pencils
Handheld Pencil Sharpener
These are some of the items on the suggested Kindergarten supply list handout helpfully provided by Staples. The list also gives the in-store locations of the suggested items. Antibacterial Hand Soap is on aisle four, same as tissues (another suggested item).
Soap and Kleenex? What kind of school supplies are these? Not only are these items not fun - we already own all this stuff. What's the point of sending your child to school if you can't go on a back to school shopping spree?
How can you go back to school without agonizing over what color three-ring binder to buy? And what about all those pocket folders? And dividers? Not to mention the 500 sheets of three-hole punched lined paper, a solar-powered calculator with trigonometric functions, a protractor, a leather-bound thesaurus, CliffsNotes for Julius Caesar, gym shorts, a box of No. 2 pencils, a French/English dictionary, Sharpies, and a mini clip book light (for doing homework in bed).
Now those are school supplies.

song: Love at the Five and Dime • artist: Nanci Griffith

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Ran

Among the small but determined group of folks who've run every Falmouth Road Race, I've heard there's some dissension as to what actually constitutes running the race. Does it count if you walk the entire way? Does it count if you use crutches?
There's a lot of pressure for them to stay in the game. Can't you see these guys a decade from now? All of them being pushed on gurneys for seven miles just to hang on to their bragging rights.
There are the select few who have run the Falmouth Race all 36 years and counting and then there's the rest of us who have all run a handful of races, but I wonder how many members of the Falmouth Track Club have never run the Falmouth Road Race? Probably not too many. The pressure to run Falmouth and thereby take advantage of those guaranteed numbers set aside for town residents, often proves to be too much. Even ordinary non-runners get caught up in the moment, saying to themselves, "I really want to run it, just once." Then they go out and do just that, breaking their streak without even knowing it.
Giving credit for not running the Falmouth Road Race should be like playing 10 numbers in Keno. Because the odds are against it, it pays out if none of your numbers come up.
There was at least one staunch nonconformist at Courtney and Carolyn's post race party who has weathered the peer pressure and managed, year in and year out, to sit out the most famous race in town.
My hat's off the Steve who knows how to just say no. Thanks for watching my kids while I went for that second (and third) glass of wine.

song: I Ran • artist: A Flock of Seagulls

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth

Coonamessett Farm sells a vegan Worcestershire sauce. Now there's an oxymoron - vegan Worcestershire sauce. Isn't Worcestershire sauce something that your pour on top of a steak? Sure wouldn't want any animal products used in the sauce with which we plan to smother our dinner meat.
I suppose one could use vegan Worcestershire sauce to flavor up those freshly picked farm blueberries; if it weren't for the fact that the berries are all being eaten out in the field.

song: You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth • artist: Meat Loaf

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Long Run

Over the years I have both run the Falmouth Road Race and watched it from the sidelines. To be honest I think it might be easier to run the darn race than to have to stand on the sidelines as a spectator. Firstly, I wasn't in any great shape when I ran but I could usually slog through the race (if my sister was there telling me jokes) in about an hour. If you watch the race, it's a time commitment of at least 90 minutes, even longer when your three year old decides he wants to stay and help pick up paper cups.
Secondly, when you are running the race it's acceptable, if not expected, that you will tire as the race progresses. As a spectator it's your duty to cheer wildly for everyone who goes by, from those in the lead pack to the chubby guy with the iPod who's walking the whole way. Sometimes runners even accost spectators trying to get us to cheer louder. I encouraged the kids to pack as many noisemakers as they could find and during the race even told them to "yell louder," a request I rarely make over the course of an average day. But even my children of boundless energy eventually grew tired of the constant cheering, leaving me with a noise shaker in one hand and a baby in need of nursing in the other while they went off in search of trees to climb.
At one point a woman running the race turned to me as she went by and yelled "congratulations."

song: The Long Run • artist: The Eagles

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Breakfast in America

Maybe you do this too. Whenever my kids won't try something I always launch into this quote by the venerable Dr. Seuss, "You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may."
For my efforts, I can usually get them to take a (tiny) bite. In the story, Sam-I-Am is, of course, referring to green eggs and ham. And though I like to throw this nifty phrase around my dinner table, I myself had never tried green eggs and ham.
All that changed last week.
I can't take credit for the idea. It was C's. I can say that it's a good rainy day activity (we also made red eggs and ham and tried to make blue eggs but only ended up with darker green ones.)
The green eggs came out a brilliant shade of green, fluorescent almost; like nothing found in nature. The color reminded me of Sandy Skoglund's photograph, "Radioactive Cats."
Curiously, even though I knew the eggs would taste like regular eggs, the repulsion reflex was strong. H flat out refused to try any - smart boy. I think the repulsion reflect is located just in front of the gag reflex. My theory is that the repulsion reflex is a last-ditch effort to stop ones self from eating something that will be regrettable later. Early man must have counted on it for his survival, having learned that non-vegetable foods, once they'd turned green, tasted putrid and rotten. Red flags must have started going on in the primordial brain whenever said food was encountered.
I subdued my repulsion reflex in order to appease my five year old and now I can say with certainty, "I like green eggs and ham. I do. I like them Sam-I-Am."

song: Breakfast in America • artist: Supertramp

Saturday, August 09, 2008

word of the day (a tercet)

Gentlemen callers left in limbo
As Brandi stood with arms akimbo
Asserting she was not a bimbo

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Ken's going to Highfield with C on Friday. The musical is How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. The show contains one of the most politically incorrect songs of all time: "A Secretary is Not a Toy." It's second only to that little ditty, "Everybody Ought to have a Maid" from A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum.
Then there's the most misleading song of all time: "Marry the Man Today (and Change His Ways Tomorrow)," from Guys and Dolls.
Ain't going to happen ladies.

song: Unbelievable • artist: EMF

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Chocolate Cake

No new posts lately. Did you notice? It's not that I have nothing to say. Ridiculous things happen with alarming frequency these days. Take for example the day last week when H pooped on the potty for the third time ever, making the stats backyard-twice, potty-three times. Looks like the odds of getting it right are beginning to outweigh the odds of him running off into the woods to join a pack of coyotes (hey, it worked for Pecos Bill). Somehow though H didn't get his shorts (okay, pj bottoms) down far enough and got poop on them. Then somehow there was poop on my shoe and then somehow there was poop on the floor. Now I'm nursing a twin, taking off my shoes to throw them in the tub and trying to avoid stepping on poop-smeared tiles in my bare feet while rinsing out the potty for H who now wants to use it for pee pees. If you've never been in my bathroom, and this goes for upstairs as well as downstairs, they aren't those big palatial bathrooms you see in magazines with hot tubs that seat 15, oriental rugs, double sinks, and toilets hidden in separate sectioned off areas. Once you factor in the changing table, potty, step stool and the crate that constitutes my makeshift closet, there's approximately 18 square inches of floor space. Leaving little room for one adult and one toddler to gingerly avoid poop.
The problem then, is not lack of material. The problem is now that the twins are eating solids I find myself always either feeding them, or preparing their food. For two 13-pound babies, they pack away a lot of sweet potatoes. Sure, we could just buy baby food and that would free up some of my time but by not buying it I can feel smug about not using all those little jars and rectangular plastic containers. Things were easier when I was nursing exclusively. I could sit at the computer and nurse. Pealing and chopping sweet potatoes while typing doesn't work at all.
Speaking of food. I was standing close to the dessert table for some time at a wedding this weekend. I was waiting for the bride to finish talking so I could pass by her and get back to Ken and Pete. I figured it would be rude to just push my way past with a, "my what a large dress!" While at my post I observed that guests approaching the table would pick up a fork, reach for the slice of cake nearest too them, and then move away quickly, as if they didn't want to be caught in the act of acknowledging dessert. This was true for everyone except one man. He stood and perused the table for a long time, finally reaching over several plates and helping himself to the largest piece of cake.
Watching him, I realized that even though he was an adult (my age and then some), I was, at that moment, glimpsing his inner five year old.

song: Chocolate Cake • artist: Crowded House

Friday, August 01, 2008

Whole Lotta Love

So I've been working on my Facebook page. If you aren't one of my nine friends, sorry, you can't see it. But just ask and I'll add you. I'm looking to compensate for the unpopularity of my youth by accumulating hoards of Facebook friends I barely know.
I think people my age only have Facebook pages so we can spy on our kids. I'm sure we've ruined this forum for them. Soon they will all go off and create something new in cyberspace, if they haven't done so already, and us oldsters won't remember why we created Facebook pages to begin with.
Speaking of old. In editing my profile I noticed that the range of dates one could choose from in indicating what year they graduated from high school went back as far as 1910.
That's pretty inclusive. Assuming they were 18 when they graduated high school, that would mean the oldest Facebook member was born in 1892, making them an impressive 117 years old in 2008.
I'll bet they've accumulated a lot of friends.

song: Whole Lotta Love • artist: Led Zeppelin