Monday, June 30, 2008

All Out Of Luvs

My college summers were spent working at the supermarket (it was Purity Supreme then, Shaws now). During those summers, amidst the ringing and bagging of groceries, I learned a few life lessons. For example, never put the eggs on the bottom of the bag - and - if a customer's pint of strawberries spills onto the conveyor belt during check out, never argue with them over whether or not they new a new pint, just go and fetch one.
There was one couple who came in, not regularly, but often enough, who drove a Volkswagen bug (yellow). In helping them carry out their groceries I learned that in a bug, what there was of a trunk was in the front of the car.
From this couple I also learned that you can never have too many diapers.
After they had been coming in for a while, maybe it was during my second summer of working at the store, they started showing up with a baby. Later that same summer they showed up one night carrying said baby, who was naked. The three of them headed straight to the diaper aisle, took down a package in their preferred brand and sped off towards the bathrooms in the rear of the store. They returned minutes later with the baby, now diapered, and the package of diapers, now opened.
They didn't need any help getting their groceries out to the car that night.

song: All Out Of Love • artist: Air Supply

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Nothing is more interesting to little children than even littler children. Especially babies. Especially crying babies.
Today at the library N started crying during Toddler Aerobics. I was already holding S so I couldn't swoop in and pick up N as well. In no time there was a handful of toddlers hovering around our double stroller like gawkers at an accident. Toddler aerobics was forgotten.
"The baby's crying," said one child who was old enough to talk.
Pre-talkers simply pointed at N which got the message across just fine. The message being - "this baby is crying, somebody do something quick!"
The response of other parents to crying babies is just the opposite. A few brave souls, those who aren't dealing with their own crying offspring, offer to help, but most figure the best way to help is to ignore the situation completely. This isn't cruel, it's an attempt to appear casual. To make the parent of the offender feel that their child's crying isn't causing a complete disruption at all - why it's barely noticeable.
Barely noticeable to parents perhaps, but their kids sure aren't about to let you get away with it.

song: While My Guitar Gently Weeps • artist: The Beatles

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?

peacock: Hey baby, check me out. Nice tail feathers huh?
peacock: Come on baby, look over here.
peahen: You think you're something special. Why don't you wash the dishes every once in a while, do a load of laundry - help out around here instead of strutting around like you're God's gift to poultry.

song: Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? • artist: Rod Stewart

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hot Stuff

My cat is named after George Carlin. Specifically she's named Rufus, after the character George Carlin played in the movie Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. It's a little embarrassing to admit this - not that I liked George Carlin enough to name by cat after him - but that I saw Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. In the theater even.
You know they couldn't make that movie today - no more telephone booths to travel through time in.
I hope wherever George is now, he's got a place for his stuff.

song: Hot Stuff • artist: Donna Summer

Something About The Way You Look Tonight

Recently I inherited a pair of cat eyeglasses with magnifying lenses, straight out of the 1950s. Ken said I looked like a college professor in them. I've never worn glasses but that seemed as good a reason as any to start. If I can't be a college professor, at least I can look like one; and is it just me or has the type in e-mails been getting smaller lately?
Tonight I wore the glasses when I read bedtime books to H and C. I read two books, orchestrated teeth brushing and lights out and neither of them asked why I was wearing glasses. They didn't even notice. This just proves that how I look is inconsequential. I could be naked and wearing a green wig and it wouldn't be half as interesting as Arthur's TV Trouble or Arthur's Computer Disaster.
Speaking of Arthur (and I'm always speaking of Arthur these days), isn't it odd how Marc Brown completely changed the look of the characters in the early Arthur books as compared to more recently published stories?
That, my children noticed.

song: Something About The Way You Look Tonight • artist: Elton John

Friday, June 20, 2008

Luck Be A Lady

Are two lady bugs getting lucky, luckier than a pair of lady bugs who are in a strictly platonic relationship?

song: Luck be a Lady • musical: Guys and Dolls

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Rock Lobster

On Tuesday my dad and C brought home two blue claw crabs from the town landing. Unusually big ones for this time of year, except that one had no claws and the other had only one claw. Technically, I guess that would make them blue claw-less crabs. Do crabs regenerate claws like starfish do arms? I wonder. With or without claws, I didn't mind since crab meat is delicious, much better than lobster.
Anyway, I was charged with the task of cooking these bad boys up - and they were boys, I checked. Even though my mother cooked a fair share of crabs in her day, I felt more like my grandmother at that moment. Cooking a crab is no easy feat. Even a crab with only one claw puts up a mean fight. I had to switch from the regular tongs that I use for taking corn on the cob out of the put, to the long-handled grill tongs. I summoned up the nerves of steal my grandmother must have had in order to lop heads off of chickens, grabbed up my local meal, and put it in the pot. I wondering how many times my grandfather and returned home, the bottom of his skiff filled with crabs for my grandmother to dispatch of. Those must have been some good dinners.
Even though they seem every bit as ornery as their reputations suggests, I still felt guilty about cooking them. No one deserves to be boiled alive, even a hostile crustation. I pictured myself sometime in the future at the gates of heaven where I would be met, not by Saint Peter, but by a very large crab holding a pair of equally large tongs. "You wanna see hot?" he'll say in a voice that sounds not unlike Jack Nicholson's.
After the crabs were cooked I had to pick out the meat which - a labor intensive task. Am I missing something here? Is there an easier way? I did get to employ Flossie's method of extracting meat from the legs by flattening them with a rolling pin.
C seemed put out the next morning when he found out that in order to take out the meat, I had to crack open the crab bodies. Guess he thought he was going to have his crabs and eat them too.

song: Rock Lobster • artist: B-52s

Monday, June 16, 2008


I don't know why film producers have to market superheros to toddlers when real superheros like trash collectors already exist for kids to worship. One of the benefits to living on a dead-end road is that the garbage truck has to go by our house two times.
When C was the same age that H is now, our trash collector's name was George. We knew his name because George was also the father of young boys, and as such, was fully aware of his superhero status. George played the part to its full potential and had a rapt audience in my son. He would stop in front of our house to chat, and invite C to climb into the cab of the truck. This reduced my normally gregarious son to stunned silence. It was as if he couldn't believe he was actually having this brush with greatness. On rainy days, or days when we just didn't make it to the end of the driveway on time, George would honk his horn as he rumbled past.
A few years back I didn't think I would spend my Friday mornings in anxious anticipation of the garbage man any more than I thought I'd ever utter the phrase, "who ever came up with the concept of touch-a-truch day was a real genius," but fate has a way of intervening in these matters. It was a sad day at the Gartner house when George got reassigned to a different route. The two men who collect our garbage now are nice enough, they waved at H the other morning and gave him a friendly, "how ya doing, Buddy?" But they are young drivers and don't yet realize the cult status that three-year-old boys elevate trash collectors too.
As for superheros appearing in the movie theater this summer, let's see, there's the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, the Dark Knight (it's about Batman for those of you, like me, who didn't know), Hellboy II, and something called Hancock which, according to IMDB, purports to be about a super hero "who has fallen out of favor with the public."
Nothing good can come from flooding the theaters with superheros, even out-of-favor heros. You know the old saying, "if everyone's a superhero, then no one's a superhero."
I for one, may be losing my superhero status. Since it was proving impossible to keep enough frozen breast milk on hand, the pediatrician sent us home from the twin's four-month check up with free samples of formula to mix in with their rice cereal.
The breast pump is my kryptonite.

song: Superman • artist: R.E.M.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mamma Mia

Holy Hostility Batman! Here's a woman who was profoundly not the perfect person to carry twins.

song: Mamma Mia • artist: Abba

If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out

C and I went to see the Greater Falmouth Mostly-All-Male Men's Chorus last night. I can't decide if "mostly-all-male men's chorus" is redundant or contradictory. In either case, the men are scarcely hanging on to their "mostly" status. Excluding the conductor and the man turning pages for the accompanist, I counted 14 women and 17 men. "Mostly" seems like it should denote at least a 2/3rd's majority. But what are the options? They could change the name to Greater Falmouth Almost-As-Many-Women-As-Men Men's Chorus? That would be the GFAAMWAMMC for short.
Gender issues not withstanding, the show was excellent.

song: If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out • artist: Cat Stevens

Friday, June 13, 2008

I'd Love To Change The World

The twins made their first appearance at Besty's Diner last Wednesday. They seated all of us in the same booth we were seated in the first time H went to Betsy's except that now there are so many of us the host had to pull two tables together. It must be the designated seating area for families with potentially troublesome babies.
It wasn't the twins first diner visit though. That honor goes to Angelo's Diner in New Bedford. Just around the corner from the Buttonwood Zoo.
Because Ken and I both ordered the turkey dinner, there were plenty of leftovers. We brought all the turkey home for the cat. I think I saw Ken washing the meat off before putting them in her dish. If she were a wild cat she'd eat mouse entrails. Consequently, I think she can work her way around a smidgen of mashed potatoes on her turkey dinner.
Now they make this cat food called 100% BG (before grain). It contains 100% of whatever the ingredient is on the label. It's the equalivant of cooking up ground beef or a roast chicken for her every night, which would probably be cheaper in the long run than opening these little cans to supplement her special-diet dry cat food. However, having lived up to her end of our bargain by hanging in until my fortieth birthday, I figure she's more than entitled. I passed on getting her 100% quail or salmon though. It sounded like something I should be spreading on a cracker rather than feeding to my pet.
Here's another confession that will further sully my tree-hugging reputation. Sometimes, on Friday nights, I like to veg in front of the television and watch reruns of CSI Miami. I'd rather watch reruns of Northern Exposure or X-Files but I can't seem to find either of those.
I'm hoping that when next season rolls around, with a nod to climate change, perhaps they'll downgrade Horatio's Hummer to something more fuel efficient, like maybe a Yukon or a Denali.

song: I'd Love To Change The World • artist: Ten Years After

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Instant Karma

Even without the cicadas June is bug month. Bugs in my house that is. I just tried to squash one that was on the computer screen. I didn't kill it. I only maimed it. Then fell into the hinge between the computer screen and the keyboard. It will probably short-circuit my laptop days after the one-year warranty is up. How's that for karmic retribution?

song: Instant Karma • artist: John Lennon

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

First it was the Museum of Fine Arts, then it was the Zooquarium. I don't know why we needed to take them to a zoo, a carload of preschooler pretty much IS a zoo.
I had a heck of a time buckling everyone into their car seats. The boy who unbuckled his seat belt in traffic last week didn't go on this trip but that only made things marginally better. First one boy said his stomach hurt, then another chimed in. Someone said my car smelled. There was name calling, "baby," "stupid," "dummy," and some assorted potty talk. Miss Courtney got reassigned to our mini van on the way home.
It was freezing out and drizzling, and more like a day in April (complete with showers), than one in June. It didn't matter much that it was rainy though since the kids got wet playing in the touch tank before even heading out into the yard. My son behaved badly. You'd think a kid would be on his or her best behavior when their parent's chaperone but it seems like the exact opposite is true. There are pictures of cow patties on the digital camera that C contends were not taken my him and we got to be on hand to see the peacock get lucky.
There were signs up to tell us how much aluminum foil gets thrown away yearly by the average American but no containers for recycling that I could see.
I don't think I have to tell you that I could never, never, be a preschool teacher. Preschool teachers are, for lack of a better adjective, incredible people. I hope that Miss Rosanne and Miss Courtney have a fabulous summer off because no one deserves it more.
And if there's a news brief in next week's paper about how the bobcat died after ingesting the cardboard tube off a roll of paper towels - well I don't know anything about that.

song: We Gotta Get Out Of This Place • artist: The Animals

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Here Comes the Sun

Along with the never-to-be-used list of potential little girl names there was also an article about sunblock in the wooden box on the hutch. Might as well pass this information along, consider this your public service message for the week. To sum it up the story suggested that the best sunscreens to prevent cancer should block both UVB and UVA rays and contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or avobenzone. I scoured the shelves at CVS last year and could only come up with two brands that fit the bill: Neutrogena and Blue Lizard.
The difference between sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 and one of 50 is 6%. A SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 93% of all harmful rays while one of 50 blocks 98%. Don't believe them when they claim to be water resistant or repellant - always reapply.
The article also recommended applying sunscreen a half hour before going outside. I suggest you apply it right after your children get out of bed and are still too groggy to put up a fight.

song: Here Comes the Sun • artist: The Beatles

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Lipstick on Your Collar

I knew there was a reason I stuck with lip gloss.

song: lipstick on your collar • artist: Connie Francis

Friday, June 06, 2008

Another Opening Another Show

Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out a way to get up there, but my sister's show opens tonight.
As a show of solidarity I'm having some wine and cheese right now.

song: Another Opening Another Show • artist: Cole Porter

Thursday, June 05, 2008

How Long is Too Long

Until today I was convinced that the cicadas were never going to show up. Somebody, somewhere, had made a mistake. Did we say 17 years? Opps, it's really 18 years - my bad. Maybe the cicadas succumbed to global climate change. Maybe they started up and then got confused thinking they'd gone back in time 17 years to the mid 70s instead of forward. They saw the oil crisis, tuned into WMVY and heard them over playing songs by the Eagles, and just went back into their holes. No cicadas? Just think of all those great cicada recipes (especially chocolate covered cicadas) going to waste.
All that changed today when I saw the first one; as big as a JFK half-dollar and plenty creepy looking. It was flattened in the parking lot of the Cataumet Art Center but I was all aquiver anyway. Imagine that. Digging your way to the surface after 17 years underground just to get run over. I'll bet its last though was, "hey, there wasn't a parking lot here 17 years ago." C asked me how I knew it was a cicada. Boy does he challenge me on everything.
The cicadas might just be the most exciting event of my summer. That and bull riding at the fair grounds on Father's Day weekend. That's right - bull riding. I know Susan is going to be shocked to find out about this revelation. Not only do I watch Sex in the City and eat red meat - I like the rodeo. For the sake of my earthy crunchy reputation let me clarify that I watched Sex in the City on TBS not HBO, I rarely cook red meat though I've been know to order it at restaurants, and admittedly I've only been to the rodeo once. That was a whole 12 years ago when Christine and I were in Texas, but I'm excited about the cicadas and it's been a whole 17 years since I saw them last.
Remember when five years seemed like a long time?
I was thinking the other day that the kids who are graduating from high school this month weren't even born when I graduated from college 18 years ago.

song: How Long • artist: The Eagles

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I Call Your Name II

When C was in Nova Scotia visiting relatives with my parents he told me there were some kids, a brother and a sister, that he played with. They went to school so he couldn't go play with them until the afternoon. They had a trampoline.
I asked what their names were but C said he didn't know. I wondered how he could play with two children for a week and not learn their names. Then it occurred to me that he didn't need to know their names. He wasn't calling them on the phone, only looking out a window to see if they were in their yard. He didn't need to know their names to know if they were nice or fun to play with. I remember being in Nova Scotia when my sister was the same age as C and she played for a week with the little boy next door who spoke only French. It's only adults who need to know names in order to categorize other people. In order to size them up.
I was midway through congratulating myself on having such a deep thought when I realized that this wasn't an original idea at all.
Grown-ups love figures. When you tell them that you have made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, "What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?" Instead, they demand: "How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?" Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him
That's The Little Prince of course. One of the greatest little books ever written.

song: I Call Your Name • artist: The Beatles

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I Call Your Name

All I was looking for was a way to get H to respond to my call when he was in the backyard. Plan A was that I'd yell his name and his appropriate response was to yell back, "mommy." We rehearsed it over and over but he never really got the hang of it. My second idea was to teach him Marco Polo. This he caught onto to with ease. Now when I can't find him, either in the house or in the back yard, I call "Marco," and he answers, "Polo." This works great but I worry that the neighbors will think I have a son named Marco.
On the other hand, I have so many sons, what's one more. I kind of like the name.
Speaking of names, while cleaning out the wooden letter holder box that was overflowing with recipes clipped from the paper and membership renewal requests from Audubon, I found our list of girl names.
Since we won't be needing those anymore I thought I'd pass them along. In retrospect it's a good thing we didn't have a girl - I don't like most of these names anymore.
Aleyna? I can't even pronounce that.
Samantha? Too Sex in the City.
Natalie? Too Facts of Life.
Dusty? That must have been our planned tribute to Dusty Springfield,
and Morgan - maybe if I had a horse.
Here's the list: Aleyna, Samantha, Sydney, Sasha, Dakota, Alexandra, Dusty, Morgan, Natalie, Julliette, Michelle/Shelly, Holly, Ella, Edna, Margo

song: I Call Your Name • artist: the Beatles

Sunday, June 01, 2008

How Great Thou Art

Friday was a first, my first time driving into Boston and Cs first trip to the MFA. I have been in the passenger seat many times to that part of the city but have never driven there myself (I usually opt for public transport). However with the help of my co-pilot, who was capable and a good sport to boot, we chaperoned the pre-school field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts. That means that not only did I drive into the city, I did it with a car full of five-year olds. As you may or may not know, despite having four children of my own, I'm not the least bit at ease around kids - in fact, other people's children terrify me. But, I felt guilty that I had not been available to help out with preschool much this year (I haven't even brought in snacks lately), and I like going to the museum, so this seemed a good fit.
I'm proud to say that with the exception of almost hitting that guy in the pickup truck at the intersection by the North Falmouth Library a mere 30 seconds after leaving the school, things went pretty well.
You may think that taking a group of three, four, and five year olds to a museum of that scale is a crazy endeavor and you may be right. Yes, some children cried, alarms were tripped, I was covered in spit up before we left the school parking lot, one kid threw herself on the ground in the museum and refused to walk, and another just plain threw up, but there were real mummies to be seen and who among us doesn't dig a mummy?
My son spent his time in the museum taking photographs of the art instead of looking at it.

song: How Great Thou Art • artist: Carl Boberg