Tuesday, October 28, 2008


People assume that because I have four kids, I know what it means when one of them is crying.
Sometimes I even assume it myself, but beyond crying because they are hungry or crying because they are wet, I'm at just as much of a loss when my fourth baby cries as I was six years ago when I was new at this game.
I take solace, however, in being in good company. On Friday night N cried from midnight to 3:30AM for what seemed like no reason. He wasn't hungry. He wasn't wet. He wasn't being poked him in the eye by H. Ken and I were clueless.
The next evening Ken took N with him to pick up his relay number for Sunday's marathon. Mary Jo Bradley took one look at N and noted that his two bottom teeth were starting to come in.
C wants to know when I'm going to wear a costume for Halloween. Doesn't he know that I'm wearing my mommy-pretending-to-know-what-she's-doing costume almost every day?

song: Pretending • artist: Eric Clapton

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Newspapers won't say it because they want to keep selling papers right up until November 4th but I've got nothing to loose: Obama is going kick some maverick pitt bull butt next week.

song: Landslide • artist: Fleetwood Mac

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Get Together

We dodged trick or treating on Main Street today but while C and I were searching for the Nora's birthday gift in Eight Cousins a brother and sister came in and asked the cashier for candy. They weren't wearing costumes but the mother explained that all the other stores were giving out candy so they figured the bookstore would be too. There's an idea. Let's dispense with the costumes and simply fork over the candy. Maybe I'm just bitter because I spent two weeks on the couch making costumes but "all the other stores were doing it?" Give me a break. What's that? Retail peer pressure? Next all the stores on Main Street will be heading out to jump off the Bourne Bridge together.

song: Get Together • artist: The Youngbloods

This One's For You

Here's a photo for ant expert Adam Lazarus - wherever he may be. Adam - this bug's for you.

And here's a photo of Al Mac's diner in Fall River where we had dinner last night. What a great diner though I was disappointed their neon wasn't on when we left. I didn't correct the waitress when she said that it dated back to 1910. I supposed when one is 17 the difference between 1910 and 1953 is negligible.

song: This One's For You • artist: Barry Manilow

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Hear You Knocking

We joined the 20 century inadvertently when switching telephone providers left us with Caller ID.
Caller ID - how did I survive 40 years on the planet without this device? To think I used to wait for the answering machine to pick up before deciding whether or not to talk to the person on the other end of the line. Now I can choose to ignore spammers (and Ken's running buddies) mid ring. I love that I can see who's calling even when they don't leave a message.
Everyday the American Cancer Society calls.
They never leave a message.
Ken says that it's a machine dialing the number and I have to pick up or they'll just keep calling.
I think it's a test of endurance, and battle of wills; and as long as I refuse to pick up - I'm winning.

song: I Hear Your Knocking • artist: Dave Edmunds

Monday, October 20, 2008

Take the Long Way Home

On Friday the twins and I walked to C's school to deliver the bag of wreath-making materials he insisted he couldn't take on the bus. I was interested in knowing how long it would take to walk there. It took 50 minutes. I could have sped up bit and I had to stop to fuss with the iPod, which fit down my shirt a lot better when I was exclusively nursing. I'm sure I could shave five minutes off my time. Forty-five minutes sounds much shorter than 50.
On the way I picked up a few returnable cans that were by the side of the road. Normally I would be embarrassed to have people see me collecting cans, but wearing headphones gives the illusion of anonymity. It also seems more acceptable to collect cans while pushing a double baby stroller - I'm not a scrounge, I'm just frugal, I'm saving for college. At one point a guy walking on the other side of the street even picked up a can and brought it over.
Of course when you're me, even picking up cans is fraught with moral dilemmas such as: a) Shouldn't I be picking up all those empty water bottles as well? Do I care about the environment or just about the nickel? b) What about all those plastic bags? c) How far down the embankment should I go to retrieve a beer can? d) Is that poison ivy?
Has anyone noticed the high amount of road kill lately? On the way to school, which I estimate to be a three-mile walk, I passed two dead squirrels, one skunk, one snake, and something so decomposed as to be rendered unidentifiable. I was surprised by this because it's off season now and there must be fewer cars on the road. Over the weekend we also passed a dead rabbit, other unfortunate squirrels, and a very unlucky black cat on Route 151. I'm glad my kids were arguing (both times) when we drove by the cat and didn't it. At least the crows and the turkey vultures are eating well.
Whenever I see road kill I'm always reminded of Neal Larsson who said once that he used to tell his daughter that animals in the road were "just sleeping." C never would have fallen for that.
On the way back I stopped the stroller at Old Silver Beach and we all had a snack. Someone had left a television in the parking lot. They were litter bugs but litter bugs with a bit of a conscience. They wanted that television to be seen and removed. Real litter bugs would have dumped it in the wetlands between the back parking lot and Quaker Road. Not only that, they were thorough too. They left the cable box right next to it.

song: Take the Long Way Home • artist: Supertramp

Friday, October 17, 2008

It Ain't Over Yet

Here's my reward for being obsessive enough to make my kids' halloween costumes - it kept me up late enough to watch the Red Sox come back last night.
Full disclosure compels me to reveal that I was only watching the game because I couldn't find any more Sex in the City reruns, but it didn't lesson my glory when Ken came downstairs minutes after the final pitch.
I feel bad for all those fans who left Fenway in the seventh inning. If only they had brought along their unfinished halloween costumes to work on at the park.

song: It Ain't Over Yet • artist: the Allman Brothers

Thursday, October 16, 2008

House of the Rising Sun

On the one hand I'm glad we weren't following the story of Dennis the wayward manatee. Now I don't have to explain that he didn't make it.
On the other hand I may have missed a chance to emphasize to my kids that some things are out of our hands and that no matter how hard you try, some final outcomes are impossible to control. Of course they'll learn that sad fact pretty quickly with or without Dennis the manatee as an example.
From the couch the other night I yelled to Ken, "why didn't they drive the manatee to Florida? Why was it in a van? What good is a van?" Because like the rest of Cape Cod, I'm now a couch-potato manatee expert. "There are all sorts of people who need help but everyone's up in arms about a manatee," said my unmoved husband. And of course he has a point but people are going to get excited and donate their time and money to the cause that moves them most, regardless of all the other seemingly more worthy things they could be doing with their time and money.
The announcement this week of Gov. Patrick's budget cut backs provides just the fodder to fuel the argument that always takes place when someone points out that many thousands of dollars are being spent on an animal or animal group while at the same time money is being taken away from groups that help children, single parents, the elderly, veterans, families, you name it.
This will never change though because many people simply love animals. Animals in the Enterprise newsroom elicit the same responses as the twins. Lots of oooohing, aaaaahing and gawking. Babies, puppies, manatees - it's all the same. Why is this? Well I'm no psychologist, any more than I'm a manatee expert, but here's my theory. Beyond the cuteness factor, animals get the same response as babies because like babies, they are perceived as innocent and therefore uncomplicated. It seems easy to help them. It makes us feel good to think that we have helped them. They can't talk back to let us know whether or not we helped so we're left feeling good regardless of the final outcome.
Now I'm no social worker either but I'm on a role here so don't try to stop me. People, on the other hand, have baggage, are complicated, and don't always want our help.
Many years ago, when I worked at a local print shop, we befriended a homeless man named Ed when I let him use our telephone and then couldn't persuade him to hang up.
Ed became something of a regular fixture, coming into the shop six or more times in one afternoon, talking to himself, cursing at the UPS driver, and spending a lot of time in our bathroom, once trimming his hair in it. Ed was definitely not cute. He was definitely complicated. He came with actual baggage in addition to his emotional baggage (which we let him keep outside the store and when it was mistaken for garbage and thrown out, even though technically that's what it was, Ed blamed the upstairs tenants.) To his credit, Todd, the store manager tried everything he could think of to help Ed. He really did. He called and spoke with Ed's case manager, he gave him food and soda, he drove Ed to a shelter in Hyannis (Ed was back the next day). In the end, even though my guess is that Todd did more for Ed than most shop owners would, nothing he did really helped Ed. He finally left when the weather got cold, his case manager said that Ed usually spent his winters in Florida.
No doubt Ed would have gone by van, but he got to Florida on the bus.

song: House of the Rising Sun • artist: The Animals

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bad Moon Rising

On my way upstairs tonight to fold the never-decreasing pile of clean laundry that has become my bedroom, I heard number-one son crying in his bed.
"What's wrong?" I asked, to no response except for more crying.
"Do you feel sick?"
"Does your stomach hurt?"
"Did you have a bad dream?"
"Does your throat hurt?"
"Are you hot?"
"Are you cold?"
"Are you thirsty?"
"Did you wake up and feel lonely?"
"Are you worried about daddy's dwindling pension?"
"Are you worried about the Red Sox?"
Wouldn't it just be easier if he would tell me what was wrong instead of leaving me to guess?
I never found out what the problem was since by the time I returned with an (unrequested) glass of water, he'd fallen back to sleep.
Ken made me go outside and check out the full moon tonight. It was as if he was Cher's romantic uncle from Moonstruck. Me, I'm usually in more of an Olympia Dukasis "your life's going down the toilet!" vein and if you don't believe me, just read the last post. Somehow, though, the full moon makes it easier to get up in the middle of the night when, inevitably, someone is crying. It's just a little less lonely with all that light coming through the bathroom window.
See, I told you my life's going down the toilet.

song: Bad Moon Rising • artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's My Turn

We managed not to loose anyone at the Fryeburg Fair without having to put leashes on our kids. There were a few tethered kids on the fairgrounds and I guess if you have a kid who's prone to running off, it's a good idea. Remarkably, I didn't hear any loud speaker announcements for lost children or parents. Twice, though, we almost lost Silo, H's favorite stuffed puppy dog.
In the Natural Resources Building C wanted to buy a weasel pelt for $10. He could have gotten the skin off a coyote skull for only $3 or a raccoon tail for $6. Instead he came away with a disturbing coloring book titled "Utilizing Maine's Fur Resources," which was free and gave him the opportunity to color objects like long spring, under spring, coil spring, and body griping traps; not to mention the somewhat more humane and least-likely-to-ruin-a-good-ten-dollar pelt box trap.
The farm museum at the fair contained a massive display of antique odds and ends that was probably the final resting place for the many attic, garage, and basement collectibles that every house inevitably contains. The display of chain saws was staggering.
In addition to bathrooms for both men and women, plus a family bathroom, there was a "mothers' lounge." I pictured a bunch of mothers in there sitting around smoking, drinking, and playing video poker. There was no video poker at the fair that I could see (I didn't check the mothers' lounge), but you could bet on the harness racing and there was a big tent for bingo, and a smaller one for poker.
We paid $24 for four of us to ride the Ferris wheel making the next day's $24 per person admission to Story Land seem like a real bargain.
Shopping is popular at the fair - and not just for my as yet non-existant "I stood in line to see the pigs" t-shirt. We saw people going by with so many purchases they'd filled up their baby strollers and were now forced to carry their offspring.
You know what George Carlin would have said about that don't you? "That's all a stroller is, it's just a place to keep your stuff." One group went by with a stroller jammed full of goods and not a toddler in sight. Hopefully he (or she) was waiting with a relative to use the family bathroom.
The booth that was selling "the world's most absorbent towel" was doing a brisk business. Everyone we passed seemed to have bought one. I thought that there must be a booth offering orange yoga mats at a great price, maybe overstock because of the non-relaxing fluorescent orange color. That's what the world's most absorbent towel looks like - a rolled up, bright orange, yoga mat. These towels were selling for $20 each and lots of people were carrying around not one, but two of them. It seems like a lot of money for weird-looking towels. Why for $40 (plus $2 more) you and six of your closest friends could take a spin on the Ferris wheel.
Auntie Martha and Stephen met us at the fair. C was delighted and I think H was too though he wouldn't let Stephen escort him to the bathroom - family or otherwise.
The Natural Resources Building also included a booth with a display of very real-looking rubber scat. It was the hands on version of Everybody Poops and C couldn't get enough of it. Auntie Martha enlightened us by explaining that moose poop (I mean scat) is larger in the summer than in the winter because of changes in the moose's diet.
In addition to rubber scat, the real thing was in abundance at the fair. What is an agricultural fair for if not to watch various animals defecate? My kids were constantly pointing out super interesting things like, "look mommy! that cow just stepped in his own poop."
"That's an ox, honey."
"Look mommy! that ox just stepped in his own poop."
Speaking of poop, I was throughly impressed with the caliber of the restroom attendants. I wonder if they travel with fairs or if they were just local help. They certainly earned every dollar tip they were collecting - and they were collecting plenty - enough for a whole set of those super absorbent towels. The women minding the bathrooms were friendly and efficient. They would tell the people at the head of the line what stall was opening up so you knew exactly were to go without having to bend over and check for feet. It was a bit like being in a horse race.
"Number 14," Dee would yell, adding, "Number 14's heading out of the stall. And she's out ladies, she's out!"
One attendant was so good I heard her say, with her back to the stalls, I hear the toilet flushing in number 11 honey."

song: It's My Turn • artist: Diana Ross

Friday, October 10, 2008

Safety Bounce

We can bounce if we want to

We can leave your friends behind

'Cause your friends don't bounce and if they don't bounce

Well they're no friends of mine

We can go where we want to

A place where they will never find

And we can act like we come from out of this world

Leave the real one far behind
And we can bounce

I say, we can bounce, we can bounce

Everything out of control

We can bouce, we can bounce

We're doing it from wall to wall

We can bounce, we can bounce

Everybody look at your hands

We can bounce, we can bounce
Everybody takin' the chance

song: Safety Bounce • artist: Twins Without Hats

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Pretty in Pink

This is a picture taken while we were waiting in line to see the hogs at the Fryeburg Fair on Saturday. That's right folks, we waited in line to see pigs. When it was finally our turn we only got to see the pigs on the right side of the barn, since, in addition to the line we had been waiting in, there was also a steady stream of traffic going in the other direction.
Therefore I don't know if there was some super incredible, terrific, humble, radiant pigs in the pens on the left side of the barn - all I saw were a lot of big pigs and some cute piglets on the right. Were they cute enough to stand in line for? Absolutely. I've stood in line for less. Mostly, though, I think people were standing in line for the same reason I did - so they could say that they did.
There's another good phrase to put on a t-shirt: "I stood in line to see pigs at the Freyburg Fair."

song: Pretty in Pink • artist: The Psychedelic Furs

Thursday, October 02, 2008

This Old Porch

This morning N spit up, which is a nice way of saying puked, all over historic highfield hall when we dropped off H at the cooking class he refuses to actually participate in.
I felt like giving my best church lady impersonation and saying, "well, isn't THAT special?" Thankfully he missed the oriental run and the reproduction vintage wall paper - projectile vomiting with precision accuracy on the gorgeously refinishing hardwood floors.
A volunteer quickly rustled up some historic paper towels.

song: This Old Porch • artist: Lyle Lovett