Monday, September 29, 2008

Last Song

Alan O'Day, as I'm sure everyone knows, wrote and performed the chart topping 1977 song Undercover Angel. He's also the writer behind the hits Angie Baby and Rock 'n' Roll Heaven. If I were Barry Scott conducting a Lost 45s where-are-they-now interview with Mr. O'Day, I'd say that Mr. O'Day has a long awaited new album out, his first in 28 years. It's titled "I Hear Voices" and you can hear voices - Mr. O'Day's that is - at where you can also purchase or download the CD.
Unfortunately, if I were Barry Scott, I'd be too busy planning to appeal a recent fine in an alleged disturbing the police incident that happened right here on Provincetown, Cape Cod last summer and reeks of being a hate crime, to properly focus on the interview.
But I guess that's a story for another day.

song: Last Song • artist: Edward Bear

rain (a couplet)

more rain brings
mushroom rings.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mysterious Ways

Last Sunday C came downstairs and told me there was a butterfly, or a moth, in his window and it couldn't fly very well because it must be a "young" moth. I followed him upstairs and saw a very large, very furry butterfly, wings flapping (thumping really) against C's window.
We put it in the terrarium.
After careful consideration it was IDs as a mourning cloak. Mourning cloak seems like a somber name for a butterfly, but it's fitting. It looks like a woman wearing a long black cloak with just a hint of white petticoat peaking out from underneath.
The guidebook said they like to eat rotten fruit so we put a few slices of tomato in the terrarium with the butterfly.
On Monday morning I was putting away laundry in our bedroom and I heard a "flap, flap, flap." There was another mourning cloak bumping up against the window above Ken's desk.
That one went in the terrarium too.
I wonder where they are coming from?
I was on the lookout Tuesday morning but there haven't been any more since.
Insects are mysterious aren't they? Why is it, for example, that no matter how often I vacuum under the baseboard heaters, I always see dead bugs there.
Imagine what life was like before the invention of the vacuum cleaner. When people had to actually touch dead bugs and cobwebs.

song: Mysterious Ways • artist: U2

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hand in my Pocket II

H doesn't hold his you-know-what while he's peeing. I try to encourage him to in the desperate hope we can keep the bathroom clean. It's ironic because for the other 23 hours in the day he's got one hand firmly planted around it and my rout response is, "take your hand out of your pants."
His other hand is up his nose where he assures me, in fact, that there is, "treasure up there."
I'm afraid he might grow up to be like that creepy guy in the sweat pants my college boyfriend and I used to see in the newspaper and magazine shop in Copley Plaza. I'd be reading American Photographer, Tom would be into Muscle and Fitness, and as for Mr. Sweat Pants - I don't remember what he was reading but he always had one hand in his pocket and he wasn't looking for spare change.

song: Hand in my Pocket II • artist: Alanis Morissette

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Eye Onle Hav i's 4 U

Okay, okay, I remember all those nice, supportive things I said to you about the public schools; but you never mentioned "inventive spelling."
Do the folks at National Punctuation Day know about this?

song: Eye Onle Hav i's 4 U • artist: The Lettermen

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I'm Walkin'

A series of events triggered by yesterday's half-day of school found me pushing the twins around Pine Bay at 9AM instead of at our usual time which is after dinner. I feel self conscious pushing babies around in a stroller in the morning because I think that I must look like some kind of wealthy yuppie suburban stay-at-home mom; when really I'm a middle class, aging hippy, part-time worker mom, currently procrastinating on the fall home and garden stories she should be writing.
As on most trips I had my iPod on and was listening to all my favorite NPR shows the kids interrupt over the weekend. This morning the podcast was Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. The "Not My Job" segment featured Leonard Nimoy. As I'm not much of a Trekkie I'd never noticed that Leonard Nimoy sounds exactly like my Uncle Mike. As I continued walking, I pondered this coincidence. "Is my uncle a Vulcan?" I wondered. Engineers are, by nature, logical people. But then came the more obvious answer; Peter Sagal mentioned that Leonard Nimoy grew up in Boston.
At the end of the walk, just barely audible over the din of lawn mowers and leaf blowers, I heard fall. It was the sound of acorns falling off oak trees in my front yard.
We needed two blankets on the bed last night.

song: I'm Walkin' • artist: Fats Domino

Hand in my Pocket

Aren't pockets in baby clothes funny? As if babies have anything they need to carry around.
There are no pockets in any of the three hemp skirts I alternate wearing on a daily basis. I could stick my spare change in S&N's pockets but it would just be a choking hazard.

song: Hand in my Pocket • artist: Alanis Morissette

Monday, September 22, 2008

I'll Tumble 4 Ya

At the Richard's family clam bake this weekend H amused himself by climbing atop a rock and throwing his stuffed dog down a small hill. This was how he occupied himself when he wasn't entreating Bob and Hindy's guests into pitching him the tennis ball.
When it got to dark to hit the tennis ball or to find the doggie in the dirt he made up a new game in which the object was for him to pour water from two water bottles into a single paper cup and then straight onto the ground.
There was another three year old at the party - a little girl. When she saw H engaged in the puppy toss, she decided that if it was good enough for the puppy, it was good enough for her baby doll. While watching your toddler throw his stuffed animal may elicit responses like, "poor puppy," or "puppy is going to get a head ache if you keep that up," there's something darkly disturbing about seeing a doll get hurled down a hill. It seems downright sadistic.
Later she switched to one of her Disney Princess Barbie dolls. Now that I didn't mind seeing thrown, by her hair, down a hill. Anyone for migraine Barbie?

song: I'll Tumble 4 Ya • artist: Culture Club

Fall Couplet #4

I like Fall
best of all.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Getting Better

Good news!
His made-up jokes are starting to get better.
At least these two:

Q: What bear likes rain?
A: A drizzly bear

Q: What fish costs the most money?
A: A gold fish

song: Getting Better • artist: The Beatles

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Pirate Looks at 40

There are two important holidays coming up that I think you ought to know about since you likely didn't read the memo and missed out on National Anthem Day. The first is International Talk Like a Pirate Day on Friday September 19 and the second is National Punctuation Day on September 24.
What if the two were combined? Then it would be Talk Like An International-Gramatically-Correct Pirate. That wouldn't be much fun.
I like how Talk Like a Pirate Day is an international phenomenon while Punctuation Day is only a nation-wide event. Must be because everyone in the world knows what "Arrrrr!" means while nobody really know when to use a semi-colon.

song: A Pirate Looks at 40 • artist: Jimmy Buffett

Monday, September 15, 2008

Old Time Rock and Roll

Scarecrow: I haven't got a brain... only straw.
Dorothy: How can you talk if you haven't got a brain?
Scarecrow: I don't know... But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking... don't they?
Dorothy: Yes, I guess you're right.

We borrowed The Wizard of Oz from the library and watched it Saturday night. I had forgotten it contained so many witty lines. It was C's first full-length feature film that didn't require reading the book as a prerequisite; except for March of the Penguins which didn't count because it was a documentary. When it was over he declared that he was "never going to watch that again," because it was "too scary." H said nothing, but cried when we put him to bed.
Great. They are both traumatized. Come to think of it those flying monkeys were pretty scary.
Speaking of scary, I saw in the paper that the 25th anniversary release of Risky Business is now available. How is that possible? Why it seems like only yesterday that Miles (the ubiquitous sidekick) uttered the immortal lines: "I've got a trig midterm tomorrow, and I'm being chased by Guido the killer pimp."

song: Old Time Rock and Roll • artist: Bob Seger

Bus Stop

The president screwed with daylight savings, why couldn't he do something useful and initial the 48-hour day so I could have the time to get things done?
When C started kindergarten earlier this month I didn't realize it was going to be so exhausting for me. I guess I didn't think it through very well or it would have been obvious. First there's having to get up at 7:15 every morning, which, while not excruciatingly early is still early when you consider that I'm not in bed much before midnight (I'm usually still aimlessly wandering around my house at midnight randomly picking up out-of-place things and putting them where they belong), plus I'm still up at least once a night with one of the twins.
Instead of having to get up three mornings a week like last year, now it's five mornings plus I have to walk him to the bus stop when last year I sent him off with Ken. I have to pack lunch - lunch and a snack. I also have to pack lunch for H three days a week. I know that it's not physically tiring to have to drive H to preschool or to pick him up and then meet C at the bus stop but it takes an emotional toll, especially trying to keep H from running into the street while we wait for C's afternoon bus.
Then there's reading all the notes from the school and making sure C has red, white, and blue on in order to celebrate National Anthem Day; that must be the holiday with which they've replaced Christmas. There are notes from the PTO about various fund-raising efforts, too many packages to choose from for school picture day and the need to keep up with vitally important events like ice-cream-at-lunch day, which is Thursday and last week I forgot to give C 75¢ so he could get himself a frozen treat.
C's favorite part of school? Riding the bus.

song: Bus Stop • artist: The Hollies

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I may be a luddite at heart but thank heavens for digital photography. I'd go broke printing up the other 44 shots where they aren't both smiling.

song: Kodachrome • artist: Paul Simon

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Candy Everybody Wants

Where would we be without irony?
Nowhere funny that's for sure.
On Monday we picked vegetables from our garden at the service center. The center is open late on Mondays and C takes a certain amount of pride in bringing our vegetables inside the building and giving them to the volunteers. Where's the glory in leaving your vegetables in a cooler on the porch?
So he hand-delivered a half-dozen, beta-carotene rich carrots and a sandwich bag full of burgundy beans to the center. In return the volunteers gave him a bag of M&Ms.

song: Candy Everybody Wants • artist: 10,000 Maniacs

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

April Come She Will

My kids, especially the newly-minted six year old, are heavily into the joke and knock-knock phase. In the kiddie chonology of phases I believe the joke and knock-knock phase comes directly after dinosaur obsession.
The only problem (well not the only problem) is that even though I checked several books of jokes and riddles out of the library, C insists on making up his own.
And they're not funny.

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: Because he didn't know where he was going.

Q. What's black and white and read all over?
A. A rotten tomato

knock knock
who's there?
volcano who?
volcanos with poisonous gas are coming!
(now see that one's just downright scary)

What's worse is his (and H's) misguided attachment to April Fool's Day.
Could someone please explain to my children that April Fool's Day jokes are only funny on April Fool's Day? That there's no such thing as June Fools, or August Fools, or September 3rd Fools. That April Fool's Day jokes done on any other day than the first day of April are just obnoxious and unfunny? Shaking up daddy's beer and putting it back inside the fridge would not be funny. It migh not be funny even on April Fool's Day but at least on April Fool's Day it would be forgiven.
And then there's H. Thanks to C, he now has no concept whatsoever of what April Fool's Day is - if he ever had a concept to begin with. He'll throw toys down the stairs or pitch books over his shoulder and yell, "April Fools!" In other words he'll do bad things and then yell April Fools. This of course upsets C who at least wants to preserve the sanctity of April Fool's Day - he just wants to drag it out over 365 days.
I can't remember what bad thing it was that H did on Saturday and yelled "April Fools!" after. Was it when he was trying to take away C's dig a dinosaur birthday party present? Maybe it was when he was rocking one of the twins super fast in his bouncy seat, or throwing the ball at the back screen door. Maybe it was when he was pulling all the socks out of his basket or crying in the Waquoit Feed and Grain because I wouldn't buy a doggie toy for his stuffed doggie.
Oddly, it wasn't when he was performing his worst, "that's not okay" act of the day. That one was a joint venture with C. I brought out the gift for Anthony's party, put in down on the bed in the guest room, and went to answer the phone. I'm a minute into my conversation when I notice they've opened the birthday gift and they've playing with it. What's up wth that? Here's C with presents from his own party he hasn't even opened yet, but this one he can't leave alone for a minute. So I get mad at them and C starts crying uncontrollably and just at that moment Ken returns from his run and no one can tell him why everyone's crying because C's hyperventilating and I'm trying (trying!) to have a normal phone conversation. H was unfazed by the whole thing. He couldn't who understand why it wasn't okay to open Anthony's present and play with it before giving it to Anthony in the first place.
H did it again on Sunday. He wildly swung the toys hanging from the twins jungle gym, narrowly missing N who was underneath it and yelled "April Fools!"
April Fools seems to offer H some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card for any type of bad behavior.
I'm trying hard not to yell, "that's bad!" at him or otherwise crush his spirit as they say in the world of Montessori education, but can I not crush his spirit and still wring his neck at the same time?
I am getting some good ideas for next year though. For Ken I was thinking one of those snakes that jump out of a fake can of nuts. For C, Oreo cookies taken apart with the cream centers replaced, maybe with cream cheese. In the book Arthur's April Fool the centers were replaced with toothpaste which C immediately wanted to mimic. Doesn't Marc Brown know that the ADA recommends no one eat more than a "pea-sized amount" of toothpaste? H would relish a toothpaste Oreo cookie. I am always catching him licking the toothpaste cap.

song: April Come She Will • artist: Simon and Garfunkel

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Devil Inside

It seems as if I must have already covered this topic from top to bottom but having observed yet another kiddie party this weekend, I'd like to say a few more words about piñatas.
First of all, according to Wikipedia, no one knows the true origins of the piñata. You can bet, however, that a game in which blindfolded children wield sticks wasn't invented by a mother. Can't you see us all standing around wringing our hands and yelling, "stop! you'll put your eye out!"
One piñata hypothesis is that the piñatas itself once represented the devil and the goodies inside represented the blessings he is withholding. This makes the idea of beating the crap out of the piñata a little easier to stomach. "Take that you Beelzebub, you!" Wham! Wham! Wham!
There's still a bit of the devil left in the seemingly innocuous piñata birthday bash. This is true even when parents go in for the non-violent, pull-the-individual-ribbons-till-the-loot-falls-out-style piñata. On Saturday I witnessed 15 birthday-party attendees all lined up to pull piñata ribbons. It's amazing how straight a line a group of five year olds can form when there's candy to be had. Not able to stand to suspense, or perhaps because he was possessed by the devil, the fourth kid in line proceeded to grab all the ribbons at once and give them a good yank thereby dislodging every ribbon but the one which would release the candy.
Once the candy started being shaken onto, ironically in the case of this party, the floor of the church parish hall, all hell broke loose. In a nanosecond, those orderly, lined up kids, morphed into something out of the Lord of the Flies. I'm just thankful my kid's nickname isn't Piggy.

song: Devil Inside • artist: INXS

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad

Has anyone heard this? At Courtney and Carolyn's post road race party I met a woman who told me that as far as the number of children in one's family goes, three is the new two. I took that to mean families are getting larger. It's a little confusing with 40 being the new 30 and all. Am I 40 with four children or 30 with three children. She didn't tell me what four is the new equivalent of. I assume four is the new three. But maybe if two of your four are twins then that's really only the new equivalent of two and a half, or maybe it's more like the new two, plus a puppy.
Recently I froze five containers of pesto made from Coonamessett Farm basil and three containers of spaghetti sauce made with our own big boy tomatoes. You'd think I grew up during the great depression - squirreling away food like that. My aunt grew up during the great depression. She used to squirrel away all the restaurant take out packages of ketchup, salt, and pepper, along with the extra creamers.
Four, three, or two and a half, if I had been a parent during the depression, my fellow mothers would have wanted to know why I had such a small family.

song: Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad • artist: Meatloaf

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Having A Party

If there was a t-shirt that read "I survived my son's birthday party," I would own it.
It all started when C requested a piñata for his birthday. He didn't actually ask for a full-fledged party. I suppose if Ken and I had been willing to take turns hitting the thing ourselves we could have avoided the festivities all together. It seemed unfair, however, to punish a kid by withholding a party of his peers just because of his parents' hang ups.
C asked for either an elephant-shaped piñata or a star. So off I schlepped to Party America in Hyannis. I had the twins with me, one in the back pack and one in the Baby Bjorn. We were quite the show. Party America claimed to have over 130 piñata styles, and doubtless they did but what they failed to mention was that 95% of them were character driven: Disney Princesses, Cars, Winnie-the-Pooh (who's going to hit Winnie-the-Pooh with a stick?), and Spiderman.
That brought me to my next problem. I forgot to ask C whether he wanted the beat-the-heck-out-of-it-with-a-stick type of piñata, or the pull-the-individual-ribbons-till-the-loot-falls-out style. There were neither elephants nor stars. The store did have some cute doggie-shaped piñatas but none with ribbons. I couldn't see him beating the crap out of a cute puppy - at least it wasn't something I wanted to see.
After much (way too much) consideration, I went with a plain old number six. I figured he, and I, would be okay with seeing it smacked to smithereens.
That done, I moved on to the equally stressful task of filling the piñata which left me standing catatonic in the candy aisle of Shaws Supermarket picking up and putting down endless variety-pack bags of candy. Should I go with the the bag that contained the Sweet Tarts or the one that contained Smarties? Finally I choose a bag of something that looked like Juicy Fruits and a bag of the only thing that was even remotely healthy: Raisinets. When I got home with it C looked everything over and said disapprovingly, "at Sam's party the piñata had gum in it."
We went with an Olympic theme and planned many appropriate games such as the Olympic Paper Airplane Toss (which was by far the most well-received event), relay races, tug of war, and the Olympic Eat-A-Doughnut-Off-A-String Event. This theme also afforded limitless opportunities to go around the house saying things like, "put your Olympic shoes on the stairs," "where's the Olympic watering can?" and "do you have to use the Olympic potty?" And though that lightened my mood leading up to the big event, I had more anxiety over hosting the party than I had over having to deliver a baby six years ago.
At one point during the party I asked another mother to count the kids to make sure I had enough Olympic booty bags for the Olympic Pin˜ata Bashing Event. She tallied them up (no easy task as they were all moving targets) and announced there were 16. "Are you sure?" I said, "it feels more like 50."

song: Having A Party • artist: Sam Cooke

Say It Ain't So Joe (II)

Here's a confession. I think that Jimi Hendrix is overrated.
Of all the songs they play on WMVY, including the ones that they ruthlessly overplay, I could be content for the rest of my life if they never again played, "Hey Joe."
Hey Joe, where you goin' with that gun in your hand
I'm going down to shoot my old lady
You know, I caught her messin' around with another man ...
And I gave her the gun

Not a classic in my book.

song: Say It Ain't So Joe (II) • artist: Roger Daltrey

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Suddenly Last Summer

Some last minute party necessities sent me to Mashpee Commons yesterday via Route 151. It's a road I've driven repeatedly since being issued my driver's license 23 years ago.
On this end-of-summer trip I was reminded of the beginning of summer, when driving this road meant having my car pelted with cicadas.
In June they were everywhere on this stretch of highway, cluttering both road and sky. So much so, that like one's high school boyfriend, you just couldn't help obsessing about them.
Now they are gone, those bugs that looked and sounded so much like creatures from another planet. Not a trace of them remains, which makes it easy to forget they were ever here at all. And maybe we should forget about them. Why not? Seventeen years is a long time to go on remembering such a short-lived phenonomen.
In my periphereal vision, however, I see patches of brown leaves among the green on the oak trees, and I know that the cicadas were here after all because they left something left behind. The trees were touched, literally, by those big, clunky, noisy, bugs. I was touched, figuratively, by their ephemeral nature.
Things that are short-lived often have far-reaching effects.
Life, and locust, are like that.

song: Suddenly Last Summer • artist: The Motels