Saturday, May 30, 2009

poems from the subway

couplet 1
Ride the train
Avoid the rain

couplet 2
Subway cars packed
Everyone trapped

couplet 3
Bottled water, coffee, Diet Coke
Thirsty riders in a rumbling boat

couplet 4
Woman reading recent best seller
I Love Lucy bag parked beside her

couplet 5
Whiney child dressed all in pink
Frazzled mommy cannot think

couplet 6
Large textbook is being read
Student aims to get ahead

couplet 7
Pizza box perched on young woman's knees
Easy taking corners - if you please

couplet 8
Little Tommy spies trains, he's happy to see them
Plans movie outing to Night at the Museum

couplet 9
Foreign languages overheard
Can't understand a single word

Friday, May 29, 2009

Little Lies

Dear Cake Mate,
Could you please explain why the word festive appears to the right of the brand name on your 50-count package of white baking cups? What's so festive about white baking cups? If these are festive, what do ordinary, non-festive baking cups look like?
Perhaps, being white, the baking cups might surround cupcakes bound for a wedding or first communion. Admittedly, either event would be considered a festive occasion, however, white baking cups on their own are not festive.
While the phrase "gourmet Asian food lover" on a direct mail piece might make consumers feel good about themselves. "Yes," we think, "I am a gourmet Asian food lover," even though we've tasted neither sushi nor kimchi. Perhaps you folks at Cake Mate were striving for a similar "feel good" association. "Yes, standing in my outdated kitchen wearing the same clothes I wore yesterday, making banana chocolate chip muffins for my kids' lunch boxes is a festive activity."
But I think you underestimate your customers. Any fool can see there's nothing festive about your white baking cups aside from the fact that they are easy to peel off one's cupcake or muffin. The only thing less festive than white baking cups is having to pick tiny torn bits of them off a baked good and knowing that there's no way to avoid eating pieces of it.
In which case one has to hope that they are both festive and unbleached.
Sincerely yours,
Joanne

song: Little Lies • artist: Fleetwood Mac

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Like A Virgin

After a certain age there comes the realization that certain goals in life may never be accomplished. For example I will never become an Olympic gymnast, or a modern dancer. I will never climb Mount Everest or traverse the continent on a bicycle. I'll never move to the rain forest to live with pygmies or sing Away in a Manger in the Sunday school Christmas pagent. And that's okay. Recently they interviewed a 52-year-old prostitute in the newspaper. Now there's a career opportunity I would have thought was closed to me as well, but now I have hope. That's right kids, Mom could still be a hooker.
Sunday I read in the Boston Globe magazine about a different type of vocation - the consecrated virgin .
The writer interviewed three consecrated virgins; women who have formally "married Jesus," in ceremonies that included white dresses but no Crate and Barrel bridal registry. The article failed, at least in my opinion, to address the elephant in the room. Since divorced women can now become nuns and divorced men can become priests, can divorced women, that is, women who presumably have had sex, become consecrated virgins? That is to say, is this a career option that's still open to me?
And where does Jesus fit into the picture? Doesn't he get a say in who he wants to marry? Seems he's been getting fixed up since his mystical marriage to Saint Catherine all those years ago.
The Globe article said there were 250 consecrated virgins in the United States alone. That's 250 women married to Jesus. That makes Jesus a polygamist. Or a Mormon.

song: Like A Virgin • artist: Madonna

Romeo and Juliet

The direct mail piece from Peking Palace was addressed to "Gourmet Asian Food Lover," which sure beats "current resident" in terms of clever marketing appeal.
It reminded me of the letters I used to send and receive from my college boyfriend. Letters addressed to Sonny from Cher, to Romeo from Juliet, and to Prince Charles from Lady Diana (hey, it was the 80s).
It made me nostalgic, but not for the reason you're thinking. It wasn't young love I found myself pining for, but the lost art of letter writing.
A letter addressed to Marc Anthony from Cleopatra will still get there. An e-mail? Good luck with that.
Speaking of young love, it's prom time again. I thought I might write another piece about the things you've missed this past year. But since you've missed everything - where would I begin?
This one I couldn't let go by though. Eric is selling that house. You know, the house he floated over from Chapoquoit Island. The house that sat in the parking lot of Old Silver Beach for weeks. The house that caused trees to be cut down and power to go out in North Falmouth in order to move it to its new location. The house that I'm sure Eric is quoted in the paper as saying he planned to "live in."

song: Romeo and Juliet • artist: Dire Straits

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

At The Hop

Whenever people want to drive home the point that coyotes are roaming at little too freely on Cape Cod they bring up the rabbit population.
"I never see any rabbits any more; it's because of all the coyotes," they say in their most all-knowing wildlife biologist voice.
Using rabbits as a marker then, the coyote population must be in a steep decline despite the little fellow who wanted to join the jr. baseball game last Saturday. Having returned from a walk this evening I can assure you that the rabbit population in Pine Bay is doing just fine - thank you very much. I saw at least 10 cottontails tonight and those were just the ones I almost tripped over while listening to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" on my iPod.
If you're concerned that a possible lack of coyotes might lead to rabbit overpopulation you needn't worry about that. Most of the rabbits were munching on pesticide-laced lawns - which can't be too good for them. Too bad they haven't learned to read those little yellow flags.

song: At The Hop • artist: Danny and the Juniors

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Shape I'm In

Every time we go to a birthday party my son declares after the party's over that he wants the same, theme/venue/entertainment at his party.
We go to the children's museum for a party - he tells me he wants to have his party at the children's museum. We go to one with a moon bounce in the back yard, he tells me he wants a moon bounce in the backyard at his birthday party
We went to a party recently that featured a party bus and Captain Scallywag, the party pirate. Of course, after the party was over (and we followed the bus out of the driveway), C said wistfully that he wished he could have a pirate at his birthday party.
I think if I could face paint and whip up a few balloon animals we might be able to skip the party pirate (who can trust a pirate these days anyway?) I have an art background, I should be able to handle it, though I'll admit Captain Scallywag painted a mean American flag on C's face and turned H into a good-lookin' shark.
As for the balloon animals, what it really comes down to is knowing how to make the sword. In the end, all the kids wanted to do was joust with balloon swords.
And the balloon sword doesn't look that difficult really. It's only one balloon with a few twists at the end. However, without the pirate send up and the backyard full of three-and-six year olds, the pirate sword could be misconstrued for something else entirely - something the party pirate might make for his adult parties - if you know what I mean. When, instead of Captain Scallywag, he goes by his other name - Long Dong Silver.

song: The Shape I'm In • artist: The Band

I Want You To Want Me

It's town election day.
My neighbor has a campaign sign in her front lawn which I find very optimistic given that we live half way down a dead end dirt road which is populated mostly by summer folks.
I'm thinking of voting for her candidate just so she'll know she influenced one person.

song: I Want You To Want Me • artist: Cheap Trick

Sunday, May 17, 2009

wet sunday haiku

another gray day
the backyard grass is all wet
where will the twins crawl?

Friday, May 15, 2009

I'm Henry the VIII, I Am


Based on flimsy research I've concluded that Henry is the most popular name in all of children's literature. It is a name popular for protagonists both human and anthropomorphic as well as secondary characters and even antagonists. It's a name that transcends generations as it remains popular today and yet can be found in examples of classical literature. Here is some data to back up what I realize may be a bold statement.
Let's start with a few obvious examples.
For series books there's of course Henry and Mudge and Beverly Cleary's Henry Huggins series. Interestingly both of those series feature boys named Henry who have dogs, but Henry-and-the-pet-dog connection is a subject for another day. Henry is the name of the oldest sibling in the Boxcar Children mystery series. His age fluctuates between 14 and 18 depending on whether or not they need him to drive a car in order to solve the case. Incidentally, Henry is also the middle name of the children's grandfather - Mr. Alden.For animal characters named Henry there's a series about an adventurous cat named Henry who stars in titles such as "Henry the Sailor Cat," and "Blue Ribbon Henry."
Henry the bear is the main character in a series of picture books with titles like "Henry Builds A House," and "Henry Takes A Walk." In these stories our hero Henry is based on Henry David Thoreau, who, if I were going to rewrite as an animal I wouldn't turn into a bear. If I were to cast the characters of American Bloomsbury as anthropomorphic animals I think I see Emerson as more of a bear, with Mrs. Emerson being a fox. Father Abcott would be a mule and bookish Louisa an owl. Henry David, having spent so much time down at Walden Pond, I would make some kind of fowl. Maybe a swan or at least an ugly ducking.
"Henry Goes Visiting," is about a barnyard porcine who travels one farm over to visit his sister, Henrietta pig. The cautionary tale of "Henry's Awful Mistake," features a duck named Henry who encounters disastrous results when he tries to deal with his ant problem using a hammer.
Back to human Henrys there's Henry Green a boy who, according to the back flap of "Chocolate Fever," "probably loved chocolate more than any body in the history of the world."
Henry as an antagonist? Look no further than "Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel." Who can forget Henry B. Swoop smiling "in a rather mean way," and announcing that Mike Mulligan wouldn't get paid for digging the cellar of the new town hall in "just one day" because Maryanne wasn't out of the cellar and therefore, "the job isn't finished."
For secondary characters, those who you might not notice were named Henry unless you happened to suddenly find yourself obsessed with the name, we turn first to one of the great classics, Charlotte's Web. Although none of the barnyard animals sported the name, surely you remember Henry Fussy, the violin player and Fern's love interest. Yes, Fern had a love interest, look it up yourself.
Even the French version of Henry has it day with "Herni Mouse" a disturbing little picture book in which Henri, the artist mouse, moves to Paris and makes everything he paints disappear.
There are Henrys that barely register, again unless you're looking. In the book "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," which makes me hungry just thinking about it, Henry is the name of the little brother who gets a pancake flipped on his head at breakfast thus inspiring Grandpa to tell the bedtime story that makes up the bulk of the book's plot. Interestingly, the narrator is Henry's sister who is nameless as is Grandpa - he's just Grandpa. Only Henry has a proper name.
Henry's show up in surprising places. In the book "Goose's Story," a true story about a goose with only one foot, the narrator's dog is named Henry. In "I Drive a Dump Truck," the dump truck driver is named Henry.
According to the site mybabyname.com Henry means "ruler of the house" which I guess is why all those kings sport the name. In the 1900s Henry was a top ten boy's name and according to BabyNamer.com it was 118th most popular between the years 2000 and 2003.
"Charlotte's Web" is filled with colorful names. Remember Lurvy, Templeton, and Avery? I don't know why Charlotte falls for someone with such a plain name but maybe that's the lure of Henry - it's a simple, accessible name, not too flashy. A name that gets the job done without calling a lot of attention to itself. It's a bit of a no nonsense name. I would consider it to be a good stoical New England name. Henrys don't go around expressing their feelings and hugging everyone they meet. I can see why none of the characters in "Because of Winn-Dixie" were named Henry.

song: I'm Henry the VIII, I Am • artist: Herman's Hermits

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thirty-Thousand Pounds of Bananas

Have you noticed how the networks now air tv shows so that a new one begins before the credits have finished rolling on the one before it? Remember when there were commercials between television shows, and pipe cleaners were called pipe cleaners instead of chenille sticks? Now all the commercials air during the programming and viewers get sucked into a new plot line before they have time to reach for the remote or take a bathroom break.
In The Office, the employees, well Michael at least, seem to jump into their cars on a whim and drive to New York City. What's the distance between Scranton, PA and NYC? By the looks of the show it's about 45 minutes.
I could Google it and find out but it's not that important really.
Everything I need to know about Scranton, Pennsylvania I learned from the Harry Chapin song.

song: Thirty-Thousand Pounds of Bananas • artist: Harry Chapin

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Learning to Fly

Next week is the last Effective Parenting class. After 15 weeks of classes and small group discussion I should be a darned effective parent by now.
If I could sum up what I've learned about effective parenting it would be this: effective parenting is hard; ineffective parenting is easy. It's easy to yell at your kids; it's hard to try and find out what's wrong with them - to find out what's causing the behavior as Lee would say. It's easy to put a kid in time out, it's hard to decide on a logical consequence. It's easy to say the wrong thing when you're mad, it's hard to admit it later and to apologize.
We live in this strange society where it's assumed that when one becomes a parent they will innately know how to parent. We take birthing classes, but we don't take parenting classes. What I hear most when I tell people I'm taking a parenting class is, "you don't need to take a parenting class, you're a great mom," and while I appreciate this sentiment, even great doctors take enrichment classes and seminars to hone their skills and learn about new developments in their fields (at least I hope they do). Why not parents too?

song: Learning to Fly • artist: Tom Petty

Saturday, May 09, 2009

She's Got a Way

In honor of mothers day here's to all the mothers out there who aren't afraid to jump in and help out without being asked. You women rock. Whether it's a child who's calling for her dad to help her off the wooden train at the playground ("is it okay if I help you?") to the mom who picks up the crying twin that's waiting pitifully in the swing while his brother gets strapped into the stroller ahead of him. Perhaps you aren't the mother of twins (heaven forbid you said in your own words), but you obviously have talents to share that are far beyond my own. I am never at ease around other children, no matter how many of my own I seem to accumulate. Instead of at-ease mom, I feel more like deer-in-the-headlights mom. Two weekends back I did help a birthday boy who was in his birthday suit struggling with his swim trunks but only after watching his unsuccessful attempts for some time and wondering, should I or shouldn't I.
I have seen women in action who are natural-born mothers. A real mother's mother. They are the women who always have Kleenex in their pockets and juice boxes in their car (enough to share). They speak to my children with enthusiasm I can barely muster. They jump in and pass out supplies and clip boards during story time. They volunteer for the PTO and know how to French braid. They can throw a baseball. They can strike up conversation effortlessly with other mothers - I overhear them and think they must be high school friends until the end of the conversation when they formally introduce themselves to each other. They will remember each other's names next time they meet - and the names of one another's children.
They can parallel park their mini vans.
Happy Mothers Day to all the moms who can mother anyone's children. My hat's off to all of you, which is a big compliment since I rarely take off my hat.

song: She's Got a Way • artist: Billy Joel

Gimme Gimme Gimme

The Tao of my Twins: Lesson 4

If I have two hands, I must have two crackers.

song: Gimme Gimme Gimme • artist: Abba

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Who'll Stop the Rain?

Another day of doing the same chores I do every day in a futile attempt to keep up with things and then foolishly thinking that another load of laundry or emptying out the dishwasher one more time before bed will make a difference.
Are you aware that it has rained every day since May 1st?
I don't remember that in any of those descriptive kid poems about spring.
March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.
April showers bring May flowers.
May rain drives everyone insane.

song: Who'll Stop the Rain? • artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Little Bird, Little Bird

It's weird and unsettling to read about the potential demise of the Boston Globe - in the Boston Globe. It must be weirder still to work for the paper and have to report on it. Like having to describe your own injuries from the field of battle
It would pain me to see the paper fold even though over the past years they've eliminated many of the columnist and features that I enjoyed most.
If I might make a suggestion to the Globe I would advise them to expand their area of redelivery. If you miss an Enterprise delivery, or get a wet paper, or the neighbor's dog chews it up, whatever, we'll bring you another one. Whenever I call in a missed delivery to the Globe, it's not at all satisfying to hear that recorded voice on the end of the line saying he's sorry and our account will be credited. I don't want credit - I want my paper. I want my driver, the same guy who delivers my Cape Cod Times (which inexplicably gets delivered, why one and not the other?), to get back down my road pronto and bring me a paper. Why can't he just go buy one at the W. Falmouth Market and have the Globe credit his account.
Now, on days when we don't get a paper (like today), I just assume the paper has finally bled out and folded.
The baby birds in our window box nest didn't make it. I've been too depressed to write anything since it happened. I shouldn't be that surprised, the reality is that nature is pretty harsh. I don't know what happened. Ken thinks something must have got the mother bird.
I was glad my kids weren't home. I buried all the chicks in the garden and then had a good cry about it. If the mother bird is still out there somewhere I just want her to know I took care of them. When Ken came home he emptied the window box and cleaned out the nest and the brown Christmas tree branches. I was glad he did because I kept automatically looking to the right every time I went out the door to get a glimpse of the mother bird. It's amazing how quickly we acclimate to something or someone and it becomes part of our routine.

song: Little Bird, Little Bird • musical: Man of La Mancha