In as much as I hate hearing Christmas music before Thanksgiving, before December 1 to be exact, I have to confess to being sad when it ends abruptly on Christmas Day. It's as if the plug is pulled just when things are starting to get relevant. As a kid I remember WCIB ended its Christmas music at noon on December 25. For those of us who had to wait for our dads to get home from church before opening presents (yes, we walked a mile to school, manually changed television channels and waited 'til practically lunch time to open presents), we would just be getting down to gift unwrapping and according to the radio - it was all over. Things have gotten better in recent years. WMVY used to play holiday music until 3PM - then 6PM - and I was pleasantly surprised tonight to find them going all the way through 10PM and then after 10, instead of quitting cold turkey, continuing to sprinkle in the occasional "Go Tell In On The Mountain" between continuous airing of that new Norah Jones song. I would go so far as to say they should continue playing holiday music right up until New Years. Not 24/7 mind you, just pepper them throughout the broadcast. There are a few New Year's tunes that are uniquely appropriate for that time slot. Radio stations often treat Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne" as if it's a Christmas song, but when else can we hear Barry Manilow crooning "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"
song: Don't Stop the Music • artist: Yarbrough and Peoples
I can't decide if H knows what Christmas Eve means, or if he's going to be profoundly disappointed when he wakes up tomorrow to no presents under the tree. This seems to be another failing of the Advent Calendar. Why stop a day early? Why not tick off the days right up to the 25th? Stopping short seems to be a bit of a tease. Luckily our bedroom is so messy that I can pretty much hide presents right out in the open by just throwing a few choice not-yet-stored-in-the-attic summer clothes on top of them. I don't know why I'm going through such an effort to hide presents and all evidence of presents though. H has no doubt that all gifts come from Santa, which, if there are any six year olds reading this post - is exactly where they come from.
song: You've Got To Hide Your Love Away • artist: The Beatles
An uplifting sentence: "It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor." -Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
A depressing horoscope: "Make your own choices but don't do so without thinking matters through carefully. You can do something that you enjoy or you can continue down the same old path that leads nowhere. Set your goals and stick to them and help will be offered." December 21, Aquarius
song: Fortunate Son • artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Be careful of what you wish for. "I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas, As Soon As My Flight Leaves" "I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas, After I Finish Shopping" "I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas, But Not Here" "I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas, Two-To-Four Inches Tops" "I'm Dreaming Of Light Dusting" "I Said Dreaming!" "I'm Dreaming That This Driveway is Already Plowed"
It's been my experience that children become vested, to the point of obsession, with the place mat drawings they create at restaurants. My own kids, who I can never get interested in coloring at home, despite repeated efforts, reach out and grab at those crayons like drowning men grasping for life rings as soon as the waitress puts them on the table. And where do restaurants purchase their crayons anyway? Some kind of crayon bargain basement? Tonight the kids got six crayons between them, two shades of green, one yellow (that looked a lot like green), one tan and two blacks. With no blue, no red, no purple and no orange, it's a wonder they could draw anything - but I digress. C and H were coloring with the intensity of Gericault holed up in his studio working on "The Raft of the Medusa." Both kids folded up masterpieces before dinner arrived as they - heaven forbid - didn't want to dirty them up. After we were done eating H even pulled his drawing out again and started back in working on it. But as captivated as they are with those drawings at the restaurant, they always end up left in the back seat of the car when we arrive home; my children having forgotten about them as quickly as, say, celebrities and politicians forget their wedding vows.
The Elks club held its annual holiday party over the weekend. On the same day, as it turns out, as yet another birthday party of one of C's classmate's. When I brought up the conflict I was anticipating an objection followed by me having to explain that he'd already told his grandparents he would go to the Elks party and that he really shouldn't let Nana and Papa down. Surprisingly, he readily agreed to go to the Christmas party. Perhaps he figured that he had more of a chance of making the event if he went with his grandparents since they have a better track record for successfully arriving at planned events than I do. If I couldn't get a bowling ally correct, what chance did I have of finding the right movie theater? As it turns out his rational was much simpler than that. At his friend's party, it was his friend who would be on the receiving end of the gifts; at the Christmas party, he'd be getting a present. No contest. Prior to the big shindig I was instructed by my parents to secretly purchase two presents. This was something new. When I was a kid and we went to the Elks Christmas Party I know that the Elks themselves supplied the presents because everyone in the same age group received the same present. But times have changed and we're in a recession, despite what the government says, and the Elks are saving all their money for scholarships, so fine, I can live with supplying the presents. At least they will be getting mommy-approved gifts. I was surprised though that they didn't recommend a price limit because what happens when my kid unwraps his Mr. Potatohead and the kid next to him gets a Wii?
Twins means twice as many chances for a toddler to poop in the bathtub - but at my house it seems like the odds are significantly higher. And speaking of, what were they thinking when they wrote Santa Claus is Coming to Town? "Curly head dolls that toddle and coo?" No child is going to let that go by without pointing out that it sounds an awful lot like toddle and poo - and it does. It's the "revved up like a deuce" of holiday classics.
Now here's an idea. Instead of opening advent calendar doors starting with door number one and working up to door #24, it would be advantageous to begin with door #24 and work down to door #1 thus answering the preschooler's burning question, "how many days until Christmas?"
song: Backwards Down the Number Line • artist: Phish
Dear Miss Lori, I really wanted to sign C up for the felting class at the museum on Sunday. We were all ready to but then he was invited to a birthday party on the same day, at the same time. I had a meeting at 4PM and the party started at 3. Ken was working so I devised a plan whereby I would drop off C at the party and then take children numbers 2, 3, and 4 to the Mullen Hall playground where Ken, when he got off work, would meet us and exchange cars so he could pick up C after the party and drive everyone home while I went to the office. We arrived at the bowling ally a few minutes before 3, did I mention that's where the party was? I locked children numbers 2, 3, and 4 in the car and walked C in. Surprisingly we were the first people there so I asked the man behind the shoe rental counter if there was a party for Nora. "The party's at 3:30" he said. I hustled C back out to the car, skillfully avoiding the arcade on the way out. After backing the car to the other side of the town hall parking lot I let C and H out so they could climb on the big anchor. "Look at me! Look at me!" C kept yelling. If you've seen one kid climb an iron anchor, you've seen them all. But I looked. Then I called Ken and revised the plan. "Just meet me in the parking lot at town hall." At 3:30 we went back in but there were still no guests and strangely, no birthday girl, just a deserted decorated room filled with a long table set with paper party plates and child-sized chairs. The man shrugged. I positioned myself in the doorway where I could see both C, inside the bowling alley, and the locked van containing the rest of my family. Minutes ticked by. C decided he wanted to wait back in the car. As Ken was pulling into the parking lot the man came out and approached us. "What was that name you said?" "Nora." I answered. "That's not the name I have." At this point I was about to be late for my own appointment, C may or may not be late for a birthday party that may or may not exist, I filled Ken in on the details. "Maybe the party is at the other ally." said the bowling ally attendant. I was surprised, given his own empty party room, that he was still worried about our problems. Apparently he wasn't aware I was a mother who was developing a reputation for getting birthday parties wrong. Remember Logan's party, which I brought my son to on the wrong day? He cried right there in Logan's grandfather's living room and went away with a plastic army hat party favor. Why did I not grab the party invite on my way out the door? I am so not qualified to be a parent. Instead I thought, We live in a town that supports two bowling allies? Incredible. I threw Ken the keys and left in the truck. He called 20-minutes later to say he'd struck out, metaphorically speaking, and was heading home. Another 20-minutes and he called to report that the party, now over, had taken place at Ryan Family Amusements in Buzzards Bay. Who would have thought the party was at the bowling ally on the other side of the bride? Anyone who'd read the invitation, that's who. And that is why, Miss Lori, that C wasn't able to be at the felting workshop. Maybe next year.
On the first day after Thanksgiving, my library book [Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus] gave to me - one nasty paper cut. On the second day after Thanksgiving, my mailbox gave to me - two holiday cards from over-achieveing friends and relations. On the third day after Thanksgiving, my dinner gave to me - painful stinging when I accidentally rubbed hot pepper juice onto the paper cut. Ow! On the fourth day after Thanksgiving, cheap holiday lighting gave to me, two out of three strands that only light halfway. On the fifth day after Thanksgiving, Playmobil gave to me, two advent calendars that required considerable assembly; a fatal flaw I discovered after having already presented them to H & C.
movie: The Nightmare Before Christmas • director: Tim Burton
What's cuter, your first grader getting off the bus sporting his construction-paper Pilgrim hat, or your preschooler dressed in his paper bag Native American costume at Nail Soup Day? I think it would be politically incorrect to choose.
Star Wars is everywhere. You would think I'd have noticed before now. Some of his little friends had seen the movie so C wanted to follow suit. The library rents it so we procured a copy. He planted himself determinately on the couch last Saturday night and watched it. It was then that I finally saw the light. Lightsaber that is. I'd seen the LEGOs, sure, and the pop-up book at the little library, but it didn't sink in until Sunday when I heard an interview with Carrie Fisher on NPR which featured a Star Wars clip, one I could have recited verbatim, having just heard it the previous night ("well somebody has to save our skins!") On Monday I read that Symphony Hall had just held a Star Wars night featuring music from the series accompanied by movie clips. I made a mental note in the Davis Square bookstore that the children's corner had a number of Clone War graphic novels, the same books that were being readily scooped by seven-year-old boys two days later at the North Falmouth Elementary School's book fair. The same night the book fair featured author T.M. Murphy who described a character in one of his novels as wearing "the same Star Wars shirt every day." On Friday Esther alerted us to the website MyLifeIsAverage.com where people post examples of average lives that are infinitely more interesting than mine (hint to site posters in high school and college, you don't know the meaning of having an average day). One poster revealed that the first time her boyfriend said he loved her was, "after I won an argument regarding whether or not Anakin Skywalker was the chosen one." It's hard to believe that a campy movie from the 70s and the many sequels and prequels it's spawned is truly the diabolical force controlling our every move. But the facts are irrefutable. If only the force would stop by and cook dinner and I could exercise a little Obi Wan-like mind control over my children.
The Factory Outlet Mall in Sagamore has became a cavernous wasteland of empty storefronts. They should either require the remaining stories to huddle together in the middle of the mall or move that second entrance down to where the rest of the stores are. Heard my first Christmas song on the radio yesterday. It would have been better if it had been the Elvis version.
song: Here Comes Santa Claus • artist: Gene Autry & Oakley Haldman
H is doing that thing that C did. That thing with the letters where you string them together randomly and then torture your mother by asking her, "what does that spell?" As in, "what does phqtn spell?" I remind him that most words have vowels. And then I remind him of what a vowel is. Then he rephrases the question: "what does phqtne spell?" This continued line of questioning by two out of my four children has caused me to realize that even though there are thousands of words, most arbitrary letter combinations will not result in spelling any of them. Then, even though I tell him it doesn't spell a word, I still have to pronounce it because it spells something, so now I have to figure out what phqtne sounds like. For H I'm trying a new tactic. I've begun saying, "I don't think phqtne spells anything, but "pen" spells pen." I figure this way I'm not squelching his creativity with my own negativity, and, he might learn a few real words in the process.
song: Goin' Out of My Head • artist: The Lettermen
A 30-second news byte on channel 25 reported that the more children you have - the happier you are. By those standards I must be delirious. In typical Fox news style there weren't any facts to back up this revelation as in who funded the study - maybe it was the Catholic church. Or Babies R Us. Who did they interview? If it was the sleep-deprived parents of newborns they would all be too tired to read a questionnaire properly. And who are parents with children happier than? Convicts? Speaking of insufficient data, that same night I saw a show called The 650lb Virgin which was not about a hippo or a giant panda but about a man who, up until radical surgery at age 32, had only gone on 12 dates. I don't know about you but I need more information about this as well. Was that 12 first dates, or one girlfriend that he went out with 12 times; because going on dates with a dozen different women doesn't seem too bad to me. I don't know that I've been on dates with 12 different men. Sometimes it's hard to know if you're even on a date - unless it was a computer match up. I guess what I'm saying is that if you're 500lbs overweight and still able to get 12 women to go out with you - that's pretty darn good. But really what I'm saying is that I should quit watching late-night television.
N and S like to sit on the couch and lift up their shirts to flash their tummies. They are very proud of their tummies. After they show me theirs, they want to see mine. Instead of peer pressure, you could say it's pair pressure. I usually oblige them with a quick flash. At that point I have to concede that I have the ugliest tummy on the couch even though they assure me it's not a competition. I can't help feeling like the whole episode is someday going to blow up in my face one night when I'm sitting alone channel surfing and I suddenly catch a of glimpse of my own exposed stomach on a late-night airing of "Moms Gone Wild."
They, those elusive experts, admonish parents to have children sing their ABCs while washing their hands. In this way they will wash their hands long enough for it to do some good. The same rational goes for teeth brushing although I guess in the case of teeth brushing kids have to hum their ABCs or do what H does, which is to order his mother into the bathroom to sing them. I'm never sure whether or not I'm suppose to add in the lines, "now I know my ABCs, next time won't you sing with me?" The experts don't specify. Twice yesterday I observed H singings his ABCs while peeing. I guess he now figures that every bathroom activity requires an alphabet recitation.
song: If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out • artist: Cat Stevens
We've now instituted a candy buy back program at our house. Tonight I paid $2 for five Twizzlers, four Laffy Taffy, three Tootsie Rolls, three lollypops, two boxes of Dots, and one Milky Way, Hershey Bar, Three Musketeers, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. I know what I said about Laffy Taffy and Twizzlers. I wouldn't steal them from him when he wasn't looking but I'll pay him not to eat them. He's laughing all the way to the bank. In other culinary-related news. I don't know why I spent three days making pot stickers from scratch - my kids are just going to tell me they come from planet pot sticker stinky.
On the one hand, haunted house operators seem genuinely sorry when a child starts crying mid-tour. On the other hand - isn't that the point? Seems haunted houses want to have their candy corn and eat it too. Haunted houses should employ at least one continuously crying child. There's no better advertisement. Nothing says scary to a kid than seeing one of their own reduced to tears. Such was the case Friday night upon awaiting our turn to take the Night Watchman Tour at Falmouth's Museums on the Green. The four kids in our party were engaged in age appropriate noisemaking and merriment until the bawling child exited the building. After that a silence fell over the crowd. The kind of group hush usually only seen in summer when some poor kid's ice cream topples from its cone. In other Halloween notes Gene blew the top off my cover by suggested to C that he guard his candy against pilfering by his parents. How could he bring this up? Until that moment the idea had never occurred to C and any discrepancies in the amount of his candy count would have been chalked up to younger siblings. Now the shadow of suspicion has been cast over me. Even Ken was about to help himself the other night and he's got willpower of steel. Yes Virginia, parents eat their kid's Halloween candy. And we're not after your candy seconds either. No Wonka's Laffy Taffy. No Twizzlers, even in rainbow colors. Maybe Sweet Tarts. Definitely none of that crap that we gave out. We want the good stuff. Kit Kats, Twix, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Especially Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Parents indulge until their kids are able to accurately count, sort, and bar graph (practical math!) the loot. In other words, until the kids get old enough to notice. Then we start bargaining, begging, and bawling.
song: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark • artist: Robert Cray Band
Our friend Steve gave a presentation yesterday on his attempt to reach the summit of Mt. Manaslu in the Himalayas, the 8th highest peak in the world. C and I sat rapt through the hour-long slide show. C's comment in the car on the way home: "It was funny when Steve said toilet tent."
song: Climb Every Mountain • musical: The Sound of Music
C has been calling my mother in order to "practice" using our rotary phone which is ironic when you consider that my mother is a retired switchboard operator. I don't know what he's practicing for - the return of the rotary phone to its proper place as a stylish and popular home necessity? The rotary phone Olympics? Maybe he's hoping to someday be a docent manning the phone diorama in the nostalgic museum of "what life was like when your mother was a kid."
And if H isn't making me feel stupid already, here are four questions that C asked me between noon yesterday and 8:30 this morning: 1. Are there atoms in air? 2. What is cancer? 3. How do tree roots grow? 4. What is dust?
My sister once took me to a vegetarian restaurant in Portland run by Seventh Day Adventists that, in addition to delicious food, sold vials of fat with labels sporting titles such as "1 hamburger;" which were informative and more than a little grotesque and made me go in for a second helping of seaweed salad. I recently heard David Kessler, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, on NPR saying that there's 16 and a half teaspoons of sugar in a 20-ounce bottle of Coke. So, for those who need a visual aid, here ya go. I like the image of putting the sugar in the baby food container - it's especially disturbing. You'll notice that I've used a diet bottle of soda - that's all I could dig out of the recycling bin at work. I don't know the sugar difference between regular and diet soda, (I only caught the last five minutes of the interview), but I would guess it's still up there. So here's a possibly misguided and misinformed public service message of the day from a complete layman who should probably just mind her own business and go back to loading the washing machine.
N, S, and I brought our seven-year-old G4 into the shop on Monday because it wouldn't boot up. As of 4PM on Thursday they had yet to call with a diagnosis. We're all surviving on one computer so it isn't the inconvenience that's frustrating but the waiting to hear. It's like your waiting for the hospital to call and tell you whether or not an elderly relative is going to pull through or if this time they've got something fatal.
song: One Thing Leads to Another • artist: The Fixx
My 81-year-old dad knew all about the balloon boy before I did. Not only do I have no life, I'm not even up on the lives of other people; especially recreational storm chasers who may or may not have tried to make it look as if one of their sons was aloft in a homemade balloon. If you don't know about balloon boy - you must live in a bubble.
How long can I use my children as an excuse for my deteriorated mental state? I was hopelessly disorganized and inept before I had kids, I'm incurably muddled now, I expect to be equally confused in the future. Today I spent my allotted four and a half hours of work for which I am paid in Sandwich interviewing merchants for the holiday gift guide. The danger in interviewing merchants is always that you'll spend more money in their shops than you're earning. At one shop I thought I'd splurge on two $1.50 rubber duckies dressed as mummies for the twins. I dug around in my pocketbook and couldn't turn up my wallet which I figured I'd left in my coat pocket at home. Great - I'm in Sandwich, driving around with no license. Worse, It's 2PM, I'm really hungry, and I have no money. So I headed in to the hospital to bum money off my darling husband who comes up with a whopping $4. I made the most of it by purchasing a bagel, toasted with butter, now a whopping $2.94 at my local bagel shop. I ate it in the car to make up for time lost riding up and down the elevator at the hospital (I can never remember if I'm suppose to get off at level 1 or G). On my way to pick up H at 5PM I realized that my coat, with my wallet in the pocket, is draped over one of the car seats in the second row of the minivan. On the bright side, maybe I lost some weight by skipping lunch.
song: How Long Has This Been Going On? • artist: Ambrosia
Four stinky diapers changed in 10 hours today. It seemed like more. Lately I feel as if I never sit down. Which is probably because I never sit down. It doesn't help that we have no dining room chairs (we bring them out for dinner and then put them away again after) because the twins have a little climbing obsession. I collected a big bucket of sand the other night because I'd read that, in lieu of a root cellar, you can store carrots in your garage in a bucket of sand and I'm just the kind of person willing to give that a try. The sand came from Old Silver - the good stuff. After packing away the carrots there was still a lot of it left so put the bucket in the kitchen and let N & S play in it, which they did with great gusto. Later in the day they couldn't understand why it was okay to play in the bucket of sand - but not okay to run their cars through the box of kitty liter.
I had a great idea today. Even better than the great idea I had last Thursday. The U.S. Treasury should switch out the presidents that are on our currency in order for us to learn the names of some lesser-known presidents. Why should George Washington and Abe Lincoln get both a coin and paper money when there are 40 other perfectly good presidents (give or take a few) just waiting to have their mugs minted on money. Thomas Jefferson is also doubled billed but since no one really uses $2 bills I didn't count him. Rotating through some lesser-known presidents might help us remember them. Would anyone remember FDR if he wasn't the guy on the dime? Presidents like Millard Fillmore and James Polk for example might become household names again if only they were in our wallets. I would let the presidents who grace large bills be in the running for pocket change as well. Sure James Madison is on the $5,000 bill but who ever has one of those on hand? Even C, who is pretty skeptical of my ideas thought this was okay. Having read this far I'll bet you're wondering what my great idea was last week. Well wait no longer. It was that the PTO of the Mullen Hall School should turn their playground into a haunted playground for one weekend in October. Get some jack-o-lanterns with flameless candles in them and have older kids armed with flashlights walk younger kids through the playground. Strategically positioned older kids could jump out along the way and yell "boo!" or the longer and far more entertaining: "trick or treat smell my feet give me something good to eat. If you don't I don't care, I'll just steal your underwear." Charge a buck per walk though. It would be a hoot. The PTO could sell flashlights and glow sticks. They would clean up.
song: Little Miss Can't Be Wrong • artist: Spin Doctors
C and I have been reading The Hobbit. It's taking a long time because he reads on his own now so I don't always get a chance to read to him. Have I confessed to having children solely in order to reread classic children's books? Well I did and I am. Because C is seven and into questioning all things mother related it's no surprise that he might doubt my selection of reading materials. "Is The Hobbit a famous book?" he asked. "Of course," I replied. "Why? No one ever talks about it" he countered. As if anyone out there, children or adults, is discussing literature these days. I assured him that perhaps not all of his peers may have heard of Bilbo Baggins, but most of their parents would be familiar with him. I was going to then say that when his friends finally get wind of Tolkein, it will be as if they invented Middle Earth themselves, like when teenagers discover Stairway to Heaven. Instead I tried to explain how there's a director trying to make a new movie based on the book and how difficult it is going to be because the book's fans are going to be hard to please as they are so vested in the book - a concept that's pretty difficult to explain to a seven year old who has seen with his own eyes that the director of Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs wasn't exactly concerned about whether or not the movie stuck much to the plot of the book he was familiar with. So do me a favor - if you see my son, ask him if he's read any good books lately with his mom. And even if you don't know a dwarf from an elf, or the Misty Mountains from Mount McKinley - pretend, for my sake, that you've heard of The Hobbit. I almost used this song as an example of the book's fame. After all, you have to be pretty famous to have a song written about you, now don't you? But then I would have had to explain Leonary Nimoy and Star Trek - talk about your fanatical fan base.
song: Ballad of Bilbo Baggins • artist: Leonard Nimoy
I used to put on a CD when it was time for the twins to go to bed but I think from now on I'll just leave the radio playing. What's more appropriate for two toddlers to cry themselves to sleep to but the Blues at Eight on WMVY?
It's too bad about Gourmet Magazine. Not that I ever was a Gourmet reader, but now I can never aspire to becoming a Gourmet reader. Guess my family is stuck with tuna casserole and the eternal debate will continue: it is best topped with bread crumbs or crumbled up potato chips?
The most stressful thing about the Fryeburg Fair is not having to drive there over the mountain pass because Ken, in typical male fashion, refused to go the direct route (although he did make up for it yesterday when he asked for directions to the PYO apple orchard in Madison before we were hopelessly lost), or worrying about packing for unpredictable weather (rain boots, no rain boots, shorts, jeans, hats, sweatshirts, slickers, umbrellas, just repack the entire car...) The most stressful thing about the Fryeburg Fair was choosing where to park. The approach to the main gate is lined with people beckoning you to park with them. Everyone is offering a different perk. Should we park at the Catholic church that has the same name as the catholic church in North Falmouth? Should we park in the lot that advertises a great view? How about the lot with the big blue ribbon painted on its sign advertising $5 parking. A blue ribbon for auxiliary parking? Is there really such a thing, and if so, what's the criteria they are judged on? The friendliness and cleanliness of the people waving American flags and streamers? Clever rhymes such as "only lot with a pot." Practically such as, "no cars blocked in." Location, location, location: "only three minutes to the gate." Ultimately, and after much consideration, we chose the lot that promised not to block us in, mainly because we suspected it was the same place we'd parked last year and we were hoping they offered discounts to repeat customers. We turned down the road in front of the girl waving white streamers with the enthusiasm of a cheerleader in training but didn't see anyone ready to guide us into their lot or looking to collect money so we kept driving. A short way down the road we saw Graustein Park, turned right, and with a growing line of cars, parked facing the playground - for free.
song: Everyday is a Winding Road • artist: Sheryl Crow
I can't believe they've made a full-length feature film based on Where The Wild Things Are, a book which takes all of five minutes to read and is far more famous for its illustrations that its plot. What's next? Good Night Moon? The action in Good Night Moon does take place over the course of an hour, (remember the hands on the clock?) with the remaining 30 minutes they could really flesh out that subplot about the three little bears sitting on chairs.
One of the story ideas for the holiday gift guide is a history of the Falmouth Christmas Parade so today I spent some time going through the archives. In December 1962, along with stories about the parade (known then as the Santa Claus Parade), there were a lot of stories about animals. Yes, December 1962 was a bad month for animals in Falmouth and not just the town's deer population. First there was a story about a horse getting struck and killed on Route 28. Then Mary Ann Cameron's pet duck was shot, the police suspected it was "the work of young boys." Luckily the Cameron's had six other pet ducks. Later in the month the science teacher's pet turtle died. The turtle apparently was a card carrying organ donor because the teacher brought him to school to be dissected, following which the teacher, who was nothing if not resourceful, decided to bring Spot home, boil him, and save the shell. He left the turtle in the boy's locker room while he was coaching after school and when he returned - the turtle had vanished! The article suggested the turtle thief may have been the school's janitor who just may have thought a dead dissected turtle was trash. In other related animal news Harvey of the former Harvey's Hardware was in the practice of importing exotic animals during the holiday season to liven up his shop's front window. One year it was a monkey, another, two wallabies which were reported to be "very shy." Looks like PETA wasn't around back in '62.
We got C a metal detector for his birthday because there's nothing a mystery-reading first graders loves more (aside from Legos) than treasure hunting. On our first outing to Megansett Beach we found an earring which C took straight away to school for show and tell. We decided to forgo tuning out scrap metals such as those in pull tabs and aluminum because we thought that without them we might never find anything. In short we want to find gold rings, earrings, and all the bottle caps in between. It occurred to me that the metal detector would have come in handy years ago when I sported only one pierced ear and was always getting hand-me-down earrings from people who'd lost their earring's mate. With the detector I could have gone out and found my own singleton earrings instead of waiting for friends to lose theirs. Later in the week we discovered what a great scam the detector is. We took it over to Old Silver Beach, where the sand is curiously softer and finer than Megansett (I see the locals get the cheap, non-imported sand), and searched around on a beautiful afternoon when there were still a lot of beach goers enjoying the weather. If you've ever seen an adult poking around a beach with a metal detector you probably thought to yourself that they were some kind of treasure-seeking freak – not so the small child. Treasure-seeking kids are cute – in a geeky sort of way. And, as it turns out, everyone loves them. It reminded me of being a college student working on a photo journalism assignment on the subway where normally people would object to having a stranger snap photos of them. But say you are a student and they brighten right up about the whole thing. It seems that everyone wants to encourage college students - and booty-seeking seven year olds. People were dropping coins in the sand left and right for C to find. One couple apologized, saying that it wasn't much (all they could find between the seats of their car) but they'd hidden coins up the beach by where they were sitting. Another couple dropped quarters as they walked by. At this rate I should be able to recoup the cost of the metal detector in no time.
The socks are longer than the length of H's legs. Is he going to soccer practice or auditioning for Fame? It wasn't until the second week that I figured out (from seeing other kids) that the shin guards go underneath them.
song: I Get A Kick Out Of You • artist; Cole Porter
H's favorite way to begin a sentence is with the phrase, “what happens if.” As in: What happens if you have no toys? What happens if you have no pet? What happens if you have no bed? What happens if you have no refrigerator? What happens if you have no house? What happens if you have no birdseed? Do you think he's anxious about those things? For the record, he has toys, a pet, a bed, a refrigerator, a house, and even birdseed. Maybe he's concerned about less fortunate people; people without toys and birdseed. So I launched into a wordy discussion of how people might get by without a bed (sleeping bag), or toys (cardboard box), and how lots of people don't have pets. His solution was much simpler, “you could buy some.” Now why didn't I think of that? It's not like he asked me, “what happens if you have no money.”
song: Anything Can Happen • artist: The Finn Brothers
Did the dump swap shop finally reopen? For a while there people were leaving some good stuff at the end of their driveways. I scored a cozy coupe and a tricycle for the twins and some tomato cages I brought to the community garden. I would have gotten those fisher price lawnmowers too but I just couldn't fit them in the car. Here's an incomplete list of things I passed up. chairs, at at least three separate residences small cabinet with glass front panels (one glass panel was missing) wicker furniture wicker baskets couch particle board shelving large plastic planters vacuum cleaner computer monitor (or maybe it was a small television) ironing board (the television/computer monitor was sitting atop it)
song: Standing on the Corner • musical: Most Happy Fella
A deer ran in front of my car today while I was driving H to preschool. It came right out of the high rent district, two roads down from Jetty Lane, crossed Quaker and headed into a yard on the opposite side of the street. There were no cars coming in the other direction and H didn't notice a thing. It was like it never happened. I was once on the bike path and the most enormous snapping turtle crossed the path in front of me. It had spikes on its back and tail – like a stegosaurus. I looked around but amazingly, at that moment, I was completely alone on the bike path. No other witnesses. Completely missing our brush with wildlife, H was engrossed in a game in which he and I take turns naming animals and then saying the phrase, “are nice.” As in one person says, “cats are nice,” then the next person says, “pigs are nice.” I'm not sure how this constitutes being a game exactly but it's a refreshing break from “I Spy.” So to recap, the deer ran out. I slammed on my brakes. The deer ambled off. H went right on with his game and since it was my turn I said the only thing that seemed appropriate. “Deer are nice.”
song: Don't Stand So Close To Me • artist: the Police
All their little legs were bound together for the three-legged race when one party goer asked me why they couldn't just have a regular running race instead. "Because this is funnier for your parents to watch," I chirped; then I stepped to the side and blew the whistle to begin the race.
The sun came out yesterday long enough to dry off the deck and shine on C's birthday party. Then it rained again. Maybe there is a God. One who knows that the only thing more terrifying than a back yard full of first grade boys, is a house full of them. You know how there are certain gifts that go with certain wedding anniversaries? First is paper, second is cotton and so on. Ken and I are coming up on our 10th which, interestingly enough, is traditionally commemorated with tin. I'm thinking that it's because couples with young children, a decade into their marriage, are traditionally eating their meals out of tin cans: tuna, tomato paste, baked beans, etc. In case you weren't aware of it, there's a corresponding appropriate gift chart for children. I don't know what it is for girls, though I suspect ponies, fairies, and princesses figure heavily into the mix, but for boys the 6th birthday is dominated by dinosaurs, the 7th by Legos.
On Friday a woman the Quarterdeck restaurant asked me if I was expecting. This was, mind you, not a stranger, but someone who knows that I already have four children – I was holding one when she asked. “Ah, no, not me. That's just 19-month-old, residual, baby fat that I'm trying to hide. Thanks for pointing it out though. I'll be heading home now.” When does baby fat stop being baby fat and make the shift to just plain old fat? When the baby can walk? When the baby can talk? When the baby begins studying for his Phd?
I don't understand, we let strangers on the street talk to our children about school (“Hello young man, and what grade are you in?”), but we don't want them getting encouragement from the President? You know, living in a democracy gives us the right to disagree, but not the right to pout for four years if our chosen candidate doesn't win. I thought you had to be at least 18 to vote.
song: Come Back When You Grow Up Girl • artist: Bobby Vee
Having picked up the GPS on Friday, we headed out for some geocaching adventure this weekend. Though this was a C-inspired activity (he read about it in a Boxcar mystery), geocaching is just the kind of nerdy thing I was wicked excited to try. What's cooler to a little kid than finding out there really is hidden treasure? People hide containers, some smaller than others, on public lands and then publish their coordinates on the geocaching website with brief descriptions of the walk and clues as to the geocache's whereabouts. Initially I had wanted to take the kids to the Blue Hills Trailside Audubon Museum in Milton just for something to do this weekend. I went on line and voila, there's a geocache hidden there (they're everywhere, 103 found in a search of Falmouth alone). It's cool to think that one could be out walking in Beebe Woods or at the Knob and probably be passing by them. The Blue Hills cache was a mile walk through the woods, and described as stroller friendly but ultimately I thought better of it and we began our geocaching closer to home with familiar locations. Heading out to unknown territory on the first cache seemed akin to novice runners who immediately start jonesing for a Boston Marathon waiver after completing their first 5K. Considering I didn't even know how to use the GPS yet, it would be more like signing up for that first marathon without knowing how to tie your sneakers. Ultimately we started our quest at the harbor and after much muddling, we found the canister hidden in the tree, and then headed to a location on the bikepath which C found on his own after I realized that I'd set the coordinates at waypoint #7 but set the GPS's GoTo function to locate waypoint #6. We'd never been on the bikepath on a holiday weekend. The parking lot was a zoo and the path itself like the southeast expressway. There was nary a soul at Peterson Farm, except for Scamp and the sheep when we went in for geocache number four, supposedly hidden at the farm which turned out to be an hour down the path and ultimately would have been easier to reach if we'd parked at the conservatory and walked in from the other side. All in all it was great fun though, treasure hunting, tiring out the kids, and in a getting a stroller workout all at the same time – what could be better? And in other location quandaries - even without the aid of a calendar (or a GPS) you could tell that yesterday was the day after Labor Day on Cape Cod by the amount of road construction that had sprung up all over. Construction crews will be standing around with Dunkin Donut cups in their hands until well into May of next year.
Song: Under the Bridge • artist: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Highest number of eggs gathered at Coonamessett Farm at one time: 10 Number of trips to Megansett Beach for swim lessons: 12+ Number of times mommy went swimming (head dunk constitutes swimming): 2 Number of round-trip rides to Woods Hole on the trolley: 1 Number of round-trip rides on papa's boat: 3 Number of pennies flatted on the train tracks: 5 Number of games of cribbage played with Ken: 10+ Number of trips to the Barnstable County Fair: 1 Number of times mommy practiced guitar: 1 Number of pre and post road race parties attended: 3 Number of hats lost on outdoor excursions: 0 Number of guest book signatures between Memorial Day and Labor Day: 5 Number of backyard tomatoes picked: 2 Number of tomato pies made: 1
We finally got a second crib for the twins. I'm not sold on it though. It seems cruel to separate them. What if someone came and made Ken and I sleep in separate beds? I guess if someone had, seven years ago, we wouldn't be here today needing all these cribs. The first night I put N down before S and he fell asleep. Ken put S down in the new crib and he cried long and persuasively enough that Ken eventually came back, gathered him up, and brought him down stairs until he was consoled. The next night Ken put them down in the crib together and then moved them once they were asleep. That seems even more cruel. No wonder they wake up at night crying - they think that their brother's been kidnapped.
The “welcome to first grade” letter from C's teacher contained one typo and the incorrect date for the first day of school. Should I be worried? Because he's enrolled in two preschools, H has been in high demand at orientation-type events this week. Consequently the twins have had to tag along at these pint-sized meet and greets as well. It's hard for them because they naturally want to get out of their stroller now and run with the big kids as it were. Problem is, these events were all short, or involved being for some of the time out at the playground and the rest exploring the classroom; so taking them out of the stroller would only mean having to force them back in shortly after. As far as they are concerned 20 minutes out of the stroller is worse than confinement to the stroller and being fed watermelon the entire time. The only problem is there's no way to convince the twins of this because the only words they understand are “doggie,” “goodbye,” “papa,” and their own names, which they think are interchangeable. At the elementary school picnic they were seated behind another toddler – a little girl in a single stroller. She kept turning around to look at them as if they say, “I know just how you feel. When? When? WHEN will they let us out?” The boys sat for two rounds of watermelon and then started getting restless, so I released them. I was going to title this entry “cruel to be kind,” but then, as the little girl with the cherub-like face longingly watched N & S lurch off, another toddler approached her pram. When she leaned over and bit her new friend, I knew I had an even better name for this post.
Yesterday H peed on the bathroom wall. I asked him how it happened and he said: “I was trying to pee out the window.” I hear Hallmark has a new line of greeting cards just for mothers of boys. I wonder if that situation's covered.
Weather wise, this summer could be called the summer that wasn't. Nationally, this has been the summer that baby boomers have spent navel gazing over their collective memories of Woodstock. It's been the summer that generation xers have spent mooning (or moon walking), over Michael Jackson. Two years ago I duped it the summer of the barley salad at our house because I spent half the summer trying to perfect that recipe in order to use up all the radishes I was growing just to give my kids something to pick in the garden. The remainder of the summer was spent perfecting tabouli. Last summer has come to be known, at least in my head, as the summer of the chicken salad. This summer is definitely the summer of the Boxcar Children mysteries. From what I can see there are 138 Boxcar Mysteries, C has read 89 of them and there's still one more days till school starts. And it's not just me. H, when listening to “Mr. Putter and Tabby Write the Book,” turned to Ken and said that "Mystery of Lighthouse Cove," (the book Mr. Putter was planning to write before he got distracted by food, naps, and baths) "sounds like a Boxcar Mystery."
You gotta love being a mom. Today, after convincing C that even pilgrim boys had them, I got to make a corn husk doll. Then H proposed to me. Later the twins vivisected the doll and H told me he was going to marry William instead.
So, I was trying to tune into NPR this morning and all I could get was some religious station broadcasting Bible readings. I was getting all aggravated thinking the religious right was taking over local airwaves and now I couldn't listen to NPR anywhere but on the internet. Finally I realized it was NPR and they were providing live, no pun intended, coverage of Senator Kennedy's funeral.
The twins dropped tubes of acrylic and oil paint into the toilet today. I had to don a rubber glove and fish them out. The incident realistically sums up my artistic aspirations for the future - down the toilet.
Every night I pick up the living room. Note that picking up is different from cleaning. I never clean the living room. I'm too tired from picking it up. I stack the wooden rainbow stacker, the plastic cups and the cardboard boxes (what I can find of them), I put the wooden puzzles back together: shapes, around the farm, under the sea, and the dump truck. I put all the soft blocks back inside the truck road way that folds up into a storage container when it's not in use. I put all the pieces of the noisy barnyard back inside the pack 'n play. I pick up all the match box cars which the twins shouldn't be playing with anyway. I put away any CDs s & n have wrangled out of the audio stand. This way, in the morning, they can deconstruct the living room all over again. What if, every morning when they lurch into the living room, their first thought is, WTF! it's all been put away again! What kind of sick place is this? Every day we work hard on taking those things apart and every morning all our work is null and void. I thought today would be the day we would start learning calculus, but no, we have to start all over with the stacking cups, puzzles, and CDs.
song: (Just Like) Starting Over • artist: John Lennon
OMG, I just folded up the co-sleeper. That thing is the anti-christ. I think it's pretty safe to say that if we'd had to pack and unpack that beast between each baby (instead of covering it with a blanket and hauling it up to the attic still set up) we definitely would have stopped after one.
Don't you just love to see daddies out with their children? There's something about a daddy and a baby that's heartwarming. I suppose it's because it's not the norm. Usually if you see a daddy he's part of a mommy and baby three or foursome. I met a lovely dad with a beautiful 10-month old daughter today in the coffee shop. He asked me about local playgroups because he was looking for ways to socialize his little girl with other children. I searched my often useless brain and offered to forward him the UCFN's newsletter which includes playgroup listings. I didn't think of it then and even if I had I wouldn't have spoken up - who am I to offer advice, except on my blog with only about eight people read - but at 10 months I don't think she needs to be interacting with other children yet. Sure she was interested in N and S, but mostly she wanted to check out their stroller and their snacks. She's happy, and lucky, just to have her daddy to play with.
song: Only Wanna Be With You • artist: Hootie & the Blowfish
If you can believe it, in my youth I always dreamed that one day I'd be able to quit my job and spend my time perusing farmers markets for fresh vegetables to feed my family. Miraculously, now I do more of less just that. But how does my family react when I make delicious ratatouille using local ingredients? "Momma, can I have some plain pasta? This sauce came from planet stinky."
It's humor befitting a musical comedy that the only criticism the Times could find in this week's performance of HMS Pinafore by CLOC was a lack of believable passion between the secondary leads. Heck - the romance between the two lead characters culminates in one kiss, a peck really, just before the show's end. The only thing the captain and his love interest could have done, in order to show less emotion than the lead pair, would have been to give each other a firm handshake. All kissy face aside, we're talking about Gilbert and Sullivan here; collaborators known far more for laughter and merriment than for believable love scenes. G&S, in fact, are known for their "topsy turvy" or unbelievable plot lines and twists. Take Pinafore for example. As soon as one can do the math one starts figuring it out. If the captain is really Ralph, and Ralph is really the captain - that means they are both the same age. Assuming the captain was at least 20 when his daughter was born, and that Josephine is now of suitable age to marry, say 17, then that would make Ralph, her beloved, 20 years her senior - a man of 37 trying to woo a girl of 17. Not that that's anything hollywood hasn't thought of already, just cast Ralph as Harrison Ford and CLOC's all set. What troubles me is that Ralph is described by his messmates as "the smartest lad in all the fleet." Why, then, if he is so smart, has he not been able to advance his station in 37 years? Couldn't he have at least risen to the rank of second officer? Worse than being a man of low rank, he seems to be a man of little ambition. Now try to follow along here and let's suspend our belief a little longer. If Little Buttercup practiced baby farming, "a many years ago," when Ralph and Captain Corcoran were young enough for her to have "mixed those babies up," we have to assume that she was at least 18 at the time, making her 18 years the captain's senior - a woman of 55 being wooed by a man of 37. If we can forgive all that I think we ought to cut the actors some slack in the romance credibility department. It seems that in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta it is only gross disparities of rank and station that prevent one from gaining their heart's desire. Age discrepancies are no obstacle.
song: Passionate Kisses • artist: Mary Chapin Carpenter
It's so hot that if someone were to grab me my sweaty arms would slowly slip free of their grasp. It's a good day to commit a robbery. H refilled my energy drink can with water yesterday and walked around the house all afternoon sipping it. I don't know what was more disturbing, seeing a four year old who already has more energy than his mother knows what to do with, drinking from a can of Red Bull or him telling C that he was drinking beer and then having C report back to me: "Why is H drinking daddy's beer?"
A decade from now, how will the media top its coverage of the 40th anniversary of Woodstock? This walk-down-memory-lane love fest celebrating three days of peace, love, and mud has been going on for so long I'm beginning to wonder if anyone knows the actual dates of the concert or was everyone too stoned to remember? How many articles do we need detailing which artists have stood the test of time (Joan Baez) and which have not (Ten Years After)? H was naming his stuffed animals over the weekend. I don't know if he lacked imagination or was just being practical but he named all of his stuffed dogs Silo, and all his stuffed cats Rufus. Then he came to his stuffed squirrel, of which he only has one, and declared that it would be named Butterfly Band Aid Gartner. Now that sounds like the name of a band that might have played on Max Yasgur's farm.
song: Woodstock • artist: Crosby Stills Nash & Young
I don't understand Siruis radio's 70s on 7, how come "Rockin Robin" is in their "jute box of cheese" and Leo Layer's "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" isn't? For that matter I don't understand why they are playing Gilbert O'Sullivan's rather depressing "Alone Again Naturally" on Kids Place at all. Some songs can remind me of an entire school year. I'm thinking specifically of the song "Centerfold" by J.Geils - the song that pervaded eighth grade and was played at those painful junior high dances where no one danced. The song's lyrics painted a picture that was in stark contrast to the Bermuda bags and wide wale pants with the skinny interchangeable belts that also defined those years. There didn't seem to be any middle ground. One could strive to be either a preppy or a pin-up. Luckily Cyndi Lauper arrived on the scene soon after and provided me with an appropriate role model.
song: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun • artist: Cyndi Lauper
Not surprisingly, the knitting store at the four corners in North Falmouth went out of business. Its departure provides the empty store front I've been hoping would open up. Now will somebody please move in and establish a coffee shop within walking distance (stroller distance really) of the library, ball field, and playground?
Round trip bus fare from Bangor to Boston: $69 Total distance: 480 miles Round trip bus fare from Falmouth to Boston: $50 Total distance: 140 miles What gives? I hope the Peter Pan Bus Line is giving out fairy dust to its passengers as a travel perk.
CLOC's choice to performing both "Titanic" and "HMS Pinafore" this summer got me thinking if it would be possible for the company to do an entire nine-week season of nautically-based musicals. Let's see - there's the aforementioned "Titanic" and "Pinafore." "Anything Goes" comes to mind right away as does last year's "Show Boat." I seem to recall one titled "Dames at Sea," and "Gondoliers" is a bit of a stretch but a gondola is a boat and we have to include two by Gilbert and Sullivan if we're to have a proper College Light Opera season. After that it gets somewhat trickier. New Moon is of course the name of a boat in the musical of the same title and in South Pacific there must be a boat because that's how Lieutenant Joe and the Frenchman get to the island where, as you surely recall, Joe meets with a tragic end. Damn, that's only eight. Surely there's one more. Candide. There must be a boat in Candide. They do all that traveling; Candide, Cunegonde, and the woman with only one buttock.
Six foods to feed your baby in order to make diaper changes more interesting (and freak out the babysitter): blueberries (in season) peas corn carrots grapes (cut into interesting shapes) any food item containing poppy seeds
song: I'm Looking Through You • artist: The Beatles
Road races are one of the only sporting events in which beginning, intermediate and advanced participants all compete together. Most competitions are broken down into categories and you have to move up through them in order to compete with those of higher caliber. For example in figure skating, those of us who've only mastered the waltz jump don't get to compete against skaters who can perform triple lutzes. But not running. Runners who just laced up their Nikes for the first time last week can fill out an on-line application and tow the line with four-minute milers. If you qualify for the Boston Marathon, or kowtow to the right authorities in order to score a coveted waiver, you can traverse the same course through Hopkinton, Natick, and Newton as the winners will - only minutes, probably hours, later. That said, and with due respect to all you finishers of the Falmouth Road Race, when runners talk about running it really is the most boring thing ever. There's no opposing team, no goal posts, no extra point, no sudden death overtime, no penalty shots, and no unscrupulous German judges wildly scoring the short program portion of the competition. Because most runners are only competing against themselves, there's little to make their stories interesting. And yet runners can (and do) go on and on and on - well past the point where even people who are married to - and consequently understand some runner lingo - lose interest. If you must talk about running let the stories be anecdotal such as the time you broke someone's nose at the start of the Brewster Road Race or the time in high school when you pulled down your warm-up pants in front of a female teammate prior to a race and were surprised to find yourself standing in your jock strap. There's the time you ran through a blizzard to win the Nantucket marathon only to be presented with the ugliest piece of pottery you'd ever laid eyes on. Later you learned the piece was created by a world-renowned potter, which made you sorrowful when it tumbled off the mantle and smashed into tiny pieces. Amusing stories are worth telling, and even more importantly, worth listening to. But instead we've encouraged navel gazing, in road racing and in life. Radio stations position runners to report from the back of the pack, the Times has a front page story - not about Tilahun Regassa - but about their sports editor who ran ten-minute miles. Maybe the reason for taking the focus off the winners is to keep them from getting a skewed sense of their accomplishments, just ask Carolyn Bird about the year she met Alberto Salazar and he stretched out his hand to her as if she were supposed to bend down and kiss it. It's a race, friend, not a coronation. So save those stories about your PRs, your chafing, and how you tossed your cookies (again!) coming up the hill in the Heights or you'll inspire your friends to run all right - away from you.
Message to the Chart Room restaurant in Cataumet: stuffed quahogs should come inside a real quahog shell - not inside a cardboard facsimile. This will only led to mass confusion when all the tourists who take them home to line their driveways begin wondering why quahog shells fall apart in the rain.
It’s twice as humid in the playroom as it is in the rest of the house. Even with plastic and hardwood flooring on top of it, the room still sits on a concrete slab. Today I noticed a film of mold sprouting on H’s car garage. The car wash attendant looks as if he’s growing a beard; or at least sporting some serious five o’clock shadow.
It's so frustrating when things aren't in their proper place. Take the kitchen scissors for example, where are they? They should be in the drawer to the right of the sink. Or is it the left, I always get right and left mixed up, a little dyslexia I should think. It's a bitch when people ask me for directions, which happens all the time since I live on Cape Cod. The scissors aren't in either drawer, right or left. They aren't in the knives-and-miscellaneous-cutlery drawer. They aren't in the dish rack or the dishwasher and I'm wasting time looking because I could just pull the grapes apart with my hands to get enough together for tomorrow's lunch. I could, but it's infuriating because I know there are perfectly good kitchen scissors around here somewhere and maybe I should buy that organizer from the Pottery Barn - the one that cost 54 dollars but maybe there's a cheap knock-off version available at the Christmas Tree Shop. But everything they sell at the Christmas Tree Shop turns out to be crap sooner or later, except for those lettuce seeds two years ago, but that was a fluke. And where did all these earwigs come from? I hate earwigs. Where are the paper towels so I can wipe up the earwig's crushed exoskeleton which is now on the floor just below the right-hand drawer where the scissors should be but aren't.
Conversation in the truck on the way to Circus Smirkus last night: H: "My penis is saying, 'wheeeee! I like when we drive over hills like this.' " Mommy: "Really? Your penis is saying that?" H: "No. Penises don't talk." H: "It's whispering."
As much as I appreciate a well-strummed banjo, and who doesn't, there are some songs that just shouldn't be interpreted via the banjo. A rendition of "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" by Del and the Boys, played this morning on WMVY was one such example. The song didn't quite pack the emotional punch as the original. It's just too cheerful. Nobody who plays the banjo can be a "dangerous man." One who has "robbed many a man" to get his Vincent machine, and "don't mind dying, but for the love of you." Instead this version sounds as if it should be getting airtime on Sirius Radio's Kids Place where, ironically, yesterday they were playing "Alone Again Naturally" by Gilbert O'Sullivan. "Alone Again Naturally" is a song with truly depressing lyrics but with, apparently, the type of uptempo beat that appeals to children. Strangely it doesn't feature the banjo
song: 1952 Vincent Black Lightening • artist: Richard Thompson
Caveat: It's important to check your bulghar for pantry moths prior to chopping up all the ingredients for tabouli - and slicing your finger on your ginsu-sharp kitchen knife.
the best Tabouli Recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook (of course)
1c dry bulgar 1.5c boiling water 1.5t salt .25c fresh lemon or lime juice 1t crush fresh garlic .5c chopped scallions (include greens) .5t dried mint .25c olive oil black pepper 2 medium tomatoes, diced 1c chopped parsley feta cheese olives optional: .5c chickpeas 1 chopped green pepper 1 chopped cucumber or summer squash .5c grated carrot
Combine bulgar, boiling water and salt in a bowl. Cover and let stand 15-20 minutes, or until bulgar is chewable. Add lemon juice, garlic, oil and mind, and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate 2-3 hours Just before serving add the vegetables and mix. Garnish with feta & olives.
With apologies to Anne Morrow Lindbergh. One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, but if one is a toddler one can collect most of, if not all, the dirty cigarette butts on the beach.
book: Gift From the Sea • author: Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Get your tickets early - C's going to be in CLOC's upcoming performance of Carousel! Yep, he's been discovered. How many years did Martha and I go to Highfield as kids? How come we were never asked to be in a show? It was that little suit jacket and tie, I know it was. Come August 11-15, C will be making his debut stage performance in the pivotal role of the youngest child of Mr. and Mrs. Enoch Snow. In other milestones, our neighbor celebrated his 90th birthday yesterday. The secret to a long life is bocce and curling.
song: There's No Business Like Show Business • musical: Annie Get Your Gun
Everyone maligns the Grinch who stole Christmas. As far as I can see all he wanted was a little peace and quite from his noisy neighbors. It doesn't seem like too much to ask. What he really needed was a 6.5-foot tall, 264-feet long fence running along the Who's property. That, however is another story. One likely to be written by author Peter Abrahams in the near future from the restored quiet of his garage. Seeking a little quite myself, on Sunday I set out to weed the garden after a nine-day vacation-induced absence. I foolishly brought H and C along. The best thing about gardening is the zen-like practice of weeding. Isn't doing any mindless task zen like? Or do we just tell ourselves that in order to feel better about having to do mindless things. If household chores resulted in zen-like clarity of thought our Puritan forefathers would have brought statues of Buddha with them from the Old World instead of Bibles. Anyway, there was no time to contemplate any of that because C was talking, talking, talking, in my ear the whole time. "What happens when you steal something?" "What if you're only six?" "Who would see you?" "How do you get caught?" It was just like the time we drove by Amber Wave's former location and he mused about how he might tunnel under the store and break in despite my reminder that there wouldn't be anything to steal once he got inside. "Maybe there would be some shelves left." I don't know why he's so obsessed with petty crime. Several nights later he told me he'd been working on his routine to divert audience attention while performing magic tricks, namely the disappearing handkerchief trick. He plans to spin a little tale about how angry his mother's going to be if he loses her "favorite scarf" while he works the false bottom of the magical velvet bag. "I'm very distracting," he said proudly. You're telling me. H and I were picking blueberries up at Coonamessett on Monday, which would have been a quiet, peaceful, activity except for the farm's new alarm, strategically placed mid-blueberry field to scare off birds. The noise was deafening. I assumed the screeching noise was the war cry of a large bird of prey. It sounded like a pterodactyl. Later we learned that it was the cry of a bird in distress, meant to frighten off other birds. A pterodactyl in distress. But of all the noises that can drive one crazy, is there anything more annoying than a single fly, buzzing through your otherwise silent house at night?
Rainy days I don't mind. It's easier to keep track of my kids if they're all inside, plus there's no worrying about how long its been since I watered the garden. I take it as a personal affront however, when it rains on my one day to run errands around town. That's just cruel. Especially when there are pressing purchases to be made such as yet another birthday party gift and more dry erase markers so N and S can take their caps off, put their caps on, take their caps off, put their caps on, and finally take their caps off and leave them off until they dry out. Here's an idea for a baby toy, giant magic markets with caps large enough to not be considered choking hazards. That would mean caps the size of coffee cans. The markers don't have to work, the caps merely need to be removable. Despite the enjoyment I take in perusing the toy store and ogling the selection of black felt tip markers in Staples, my favorite errand was dropping off my kitchen knives at What a Grind Knife Sharpening in North Falmouth (shameless endorsement). I love that you can fill out a slip of paper, tie it around your knives and put them in the drop off box along with other people's knives, shears, and clippers. Today I picked them up, again in the rain. They are ginsu sharp, though I won't be cutting any tin cans with them, for only $5.
Another musing on the topic of gross misunderstandings. I think that, if, as a nation, we are going to argue and debate over whether or not to amend the constitution in order to define marriage as the union of one man with one woman, we need to address the definition of beach. On Cape Cod a beach has sand on it. In fact that's usually the way one recognizes a beach. A person new to town turns down Falmouth Heights Road, makes a left at the stop sign, sees the sand meeting the water and says to themselves, "look, there's the beach." In Maine "beach" is a relative term. One they use mainly because tourists might be less lured to a place called endlessly rocky coastline. Boom Beach, Isle au Haut, ME
song: Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood II • artist: The Animals
Yeomen of the Guard, the original "Indecent Proposal" musical, contains a song in which the leading man postulates on what a "Jack" must do if he wants to win his "Jill." I don't know about you, but I'd always assumed Jack and Jill were siblings, not would-be lovers. In a vein similar to Governor Mark Sanford and "hiking the Appalachian Trail", it gives new meaning to the phrase "fetch a pail of water." In other previously misunderstood words, phrases, and description by yours truly, the house we stayed in on Isle au Haut was referred to by the islanders as the Stone Cottage. Silly me, I thought it would be made of stone. When we got there I thought, "those resourceful Mainers, it sure looks like wood to me." Only later did I find out that the Stone in Stone Cottage referred to Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone who built the house and served on the supreme court with Oliver Wendell Holmes and William Howard Taft. I suppose it lends an air of prestige - Ken and I did sleep in the man's bedroom - to vacation in the former home of a supreme court justice, even one we'd never heard of. It was a greater brush with fame later in the week, however, when our rental car wouldn't run and the Stone Cottage's present owner fixed us up with a truck owned by sword fisherwoman and minor celebrity, Linda Greenlaw. Isle of Haut is a place that's going to be forced to change its name as soon as someone takes offense to it. If the Santas in Australia aren't allowed say ho, ho, ho, can objection to Isle of Haut be far behind?
song: Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood • artist: The Animals
Seems summer has finally come to Cape Cod. After being closed up tight for a week in the July humidity, our house smells like 50 cats live in it instead of just one. When we got home, Rufus was glad to see me for about two minutes - until she realized I'd brought those four short humans back with me. I myself was glad to stay at Belfast's Comfort Inn last night, even for $179, since it meant a stand up shower, not having to bring my own sheets and towels, and not having to carry out any dirty diapers. I felt like Arlo Guthrie driving around the mainland yesterday with our contraband bags of dirty diapers and returnable bottles. There's never a dumpster around when you need one. Isn't that always the way? We drove around with our garbage smelling up the van until a half-hour out of Searsport when we struck pay dirt with a redemption center located next door to a gas station (H had to go). The gas station had a dumpster around back. There were even some vegetable plants piled up next to the dumpster so I was able to get Martha and Stephen a tomato plant as a trailer-warming present.
What's black and white and red all over? Why is it that time marches on but generation after generation of children still find the same corny jokes funny? And speaking of funny, why can't Heinz create a ketchup bottle that doesn't make - you know - that noise. I suppose there are people out there who would rather have a plastic ketchup bottle than to have to go at it with a butter knife. But those people don't have kids. Nothing ruins a manners-molding family dinner like a farting ketchup bottle. And now for the bad part gentle reader, or the good part depending on how you view the glass. I'm leaving tomorrow for a remote island in Maine for a week; an island without wireless. I didn't know such places still existed. I wonder if they've heard about Michael Jackson yet. For a week, I get to commune with my kids all day long without the midnight respite of Seinfeld reruns and a cathartic blog post. Thankfully the island has heard about the repeal of prohibition. So as Uncle Wiggly might say, if the rabbit doesn't hop out into traffic on the busy interstate, and the mommy doesn't rip out all her rapidly graying hair, I'll be back next week with more adventure stories.