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