Saturday, August 2, 2008

Mama Mia!

A few weeks ago I was feeling blue and bored and it was a million degrees and the obvious solution was to take myself off to the movie theater. There I would be not bored, chilled like a popsicle possibly very cheered up. Opening that day were The Dark Knight and Mama Mia! Yeah, that's not even a toss-up I hate those stupid Batman/Spiderman/Fantastic Four movies. I have never seen Mama Mia! as a musical and I don't know ABBA, but it looked fun and seemed perfect.

It was. It was not good. It was fun. See, there's a difference.

The acting was so-so, the singing also mostly so-so, but the spirit was fun. And that ABBA music, that shit is unrelentingly upbeat- you can not be in the least bit sad with that music around. You can be silly and dramatic but only in the most comical and over-the-top way not genuinely sad.

The music and the story were fun. But for me, the women in the movie were the real focus, their relationships with each other made the movie sparkle. Having Julie Waters and Christine Baranski egging on Meryl, dragging her kicking and screaming into having fun and letting go, those are my kind of friends. I have friends like that, they're the ones who stop by with a pint of ice cream or a bottle of wine and let you whine and complain about your latest woes. Then somehow you are hysterical with laughter, all the mundane drops away and you just enjoy the moment.

Celebrating those friendships. The ones that start out when you're a kid, or a drunk college student or just because you work in the same office but that stick, grow, stay and get better over time, that seemed to be the whole point of this movie. Or if not the point, than the soul of this movie. What our friends, and specifically, what our girlfriends do for us is the key. They know the worst, bring out the best, let us be silly, share our burdens and sometimes dance around to ABBA in funny outfits.

Amen, sisters, amen.

The photo is from the LA Times.

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Rare Aggravation

Generally the little store owned by the Three Z's is a peaceful and lovely place to work. Nice customers, interesting people, and rarely is anyone disgruntled. It is not all that unusual to have some well, off-beat folks visit. Mostly they are sweet and nice, but every so often the more off-the-wall oddball visits. While working at the Three Z's shop yesterday...

Random Dude: That is going to kill you.
Me: *Looking for imminent death and seeing none* What?
Random Dude: The Diet Coke. It's going to kill you.
Me: Uh, thanks. Yeah, it's not good for me. *Looks skeptically at the tiny 12 oz bottle of DC*
Random Dude: Yeah, like it is going to destroy your health.
Me: Well, it's just about my last vice, so I sort of cling to having one a day still.
Random Dude: It's not good for you. I bet if you stop drinking it you will feel so much better. Like, when people ask me for health advice I always say that they should stop drinking Diet Coke. You should drink something else instead. Like coffee. Drink coffee all day long. Or regular Coke. Or (lists 400 beverages). Anything is better than Diet Coke. It's going to kill you.
Me: Thanks.
Random Dude: Lectures about the perils of Diet Coke....again.

Random, preachy, annoying, irrelevant and unsolicited advice is perhaps my least favorite thing. Ever.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New York Trip- Yankees Game And A Flat

As part of the celebrations of Brooklyn and Ruth's birthdays we took in a Yankee game. Now, let's pause for a second and just admire my wide circle of friends, the diversity and charm. Yes, it's true, I'm friends with Yankee fans. More than one!

Ruth has a job with connections (of the non-mob variety) and as a perk she can go to Yankees games a few times a year. It is always a crap-shoot as to what kind of seats you will get. Last time we were along the 3rd base line and about 25 rows up. Pretty good. But that was nothing compared to this time! This time we were spoiled rotten. A fitting final visit to the hallowed halls of Yankee Stadium before they tear it down this winter. This time we were ushered behind the barricades to a private entrance. We didn't have wait in line, get stepped on, wind through long security lines and up the endless concourse ramps. Nope, no riff-raff mingling for us- we got a private entrance with friendly staff greeting us, a brief wait in a plush lobby before a ride up a private elevator- with an operator. Seriously, we had an operator for our elevator. Ha!Our seats were just over from where the press sits, directly beside home plate on the 3rd base line. This photo was taken using no zoom. That's our view. Also, our seats were cushioned and we had a waitress who brought us our orders of bad-for-us food and treats. A waitress- we were fancy-pants indeed.

The Yankees won- no good for me, but a nice birthday present for Ruth. And then we headed back towards Queens. This is where our night took a little detour.

While driving at speed along the Cross Bronx a little before midnight Ruth's tire blew. We were right by an exit and opted to ride on the flat to the top of the ramp rather than risk death on the Cross Bronx. There are worse places to break down, but you'd be hard pressed to name one. I am very glad that there were three of us together and that Ruth wasn't on her own.

We called for roadside assistance, but it was going to be an hour. Great. We were at a good spot, off the ramp, beside the road, protected from traffic. Morrigan, a champion tire changer, decided to try changing the tire rather than wait. We agreed and set to work. As Morrigan began to work her tire-changing mojo we were approached by a man who did not have a reassuring appearance. He politely asked if we needed a hand and proceeded to wrench the last lug nut loose for us. He wished us good luck and wandered away. Several cars, a mini van and a motorcycle stopped to ask if we were OK and offer advice about 24-hour tire places, gas stations and delis in the area. The rest of the cars just rolled by not bothering us in any way. The only surprise about who didn't stop? The Episcopal Church van- thanks, guys. At least they weren't from the Good Samaritan church... geez. As usual, the good and best of the human nature and New York in particular was on display rather than the worst.

Morrigan got the flat changed out in about 30 minutes. It would have probably taken her about 10 but we had the world's worst jack. Ever.

Wanna see where we broke down?Irony, thy name is Bronx.

Monday, July 28, 2008

New York Trip- The Met

Lordy, Lordy, people, it was a crazy awesome week this past seven days. First, Morrigan and I went down to New York to visit Ruth and Brooklyn for their birthdays. Keeping my nearly unemployed budget in mind we went to The Met. I had never been - I know, shocking!- and we had a blast. The art was amazing- of course. The place is huuuuge, and the architecture of the actual Met is pretty cool.

We saw the Greek and Roman sculptures and then went across to the Temple of Dendur. It was very, very, very cool. I love Egyptology and it was very amazing to see all of the artifacts and the temple and tombs. The mummies were fascinating, and the blue hippo was so darn cute I wanted to take him home. The temple has all sorts of carved grafitti from where people visited the temple over the last 300 years. Napoleon's troops and wealthy Brits and other Europeans on holiday carved their names and dates into the temple.

It is sort of weirdly cool to see someone took the time to carve- quite nicely I might add- their name and date into a piece of stone in Egypt so far from home. On the other hand, they defaced this gorgeous temple. Caring not at all that to scratch their own name into stone they obliterated a history deeper and more important than theirs could ever be.

I even found a poem about it by Shane George. He, too came to The Met and saw the Temple and was both fascinated and annoyed by these graffiti artists of another era.

Next we took a spin through the Superhero Fashion exhibit which was nothing of what I expected. Cool, but I wasn't dying to linger there.

We did a quick sprint through the American wing, but it was mostly under construction. Then we toured the modern art section. It was a mix of things that were amazing and things that make me say, is that art? Seriously, art? There was a giant, two-storey high painting of Chairman Mao. It was very impressive. This is me as Chairman Mao's tie. Unfortunately taken with Ruth's blackberry, so it's teeny. But funny.

They had an exhibit of Jeff Koons work- on the roof of The Met. So up we went. Did you know they have a little cafe up there and you can enjoy a beer or a glass of wine on the roof of the Met, surrounded by art and with a view of New York skyline and with Central Park laid out below your feet? Yeah, you can.

Jeff Koons work was very funky and cool. Definitely the kind of thing where I'm not totally sold on it, but the balloon dog was incredible. I loved that. And my favorite arty photo of the trip was the skyline of New York reflected in the red heart with the couple posing in front of it caught in reflection.

Then we did a quick turn through the Turner exhibit. I am a fan of Turner, but the other ladies were not lovin' it. We tried to see as much as we could of the European masters, but by far it was the most crowded wing. We couldn't get anywhere near Degas or Monet, but we did see part of the exhibit and it felt surreal. I always feel that way when I see paintings that are so familiar but you've never actually seen them. Van Gogh's sunflowers and self portrait and haystacks, Monet's waterlillies, Matisse's dancing figures, a greatest hits of dorm posters and framed posters from early apartments. Sometimes its downright difficult to comprehend that you are seeing the original, the one that was lovingly create by the artist and not just another print.

It can also be hard to see because I'm 5'3" on a good day and often wind up being stepped on and elbowed in the head in large crowds. Blargh.

At that point we had to pack it in for the day because we had tickets to the Yankees game that night. More on that later!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Little Vintage

Way back in April I visited one of my favorite indoor flea markets and found two nearly perfect small table cloths. I had been looking for something that would be 'springy' and change the colors in my living room from the more wintry oranges and reds to something bright and fun for summer.

I think both cloths were hand embroidered by the same person. Not only did I find them in the same bin but they just had a look that paired them up. Personally, I am not particularly talented with an embroidery needle and am impressed that someone could put all this work in and have it turn out so great.

They are both smaller squares, perhaps intended to drape an entry table, bedside table or even card table. (They aren't the little bridge table covers you sometimes find, though.) The first one has four embroidered baskets filled with flowers, one in each corner, with a pretty circle embroidered in the middle. The edge has been crocheted with pink and white thread.
The second cloth has yellow and purple flower bunches in each corner. There is also a criss-cross pattern of purple stitches that make a grid and the edges have been crocheted with yellow, purple and white thread.Not the best pictures I've ever taken, but you get the idea. I added these two to my living room, one on the entry table where I throw my keys and the other on a small table in the bay window with a lamp and some tchotchkes. They have been very cheerful and bright all summer long, just what I wanted.

I think Darcel and I might hit this flea market on Sunday- it's indoors and we will probably wimp out on the outdoor flea market this week! We're fragile blossoms. Delicate blooms...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Some Berkshires Summer Fun

On Saturday Darcel and I took a little day trip up into the Berkshires. We got our culture on by paying a visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum. The museum was pretty interesting and a nice size- not huge, but not small. There were a lot of visitors and there was a lot of bumping into people and having them trod on your toes as they checked out various paintings, but since its a Saturday in the summer we couldn't complain too much. It was amazing how many of the Rockwell paintings you know without ever making a study of it. They really are a part of the subconscious, a part of American culture that is familiar to so many.

They had an art installation of garden gates on the grounds. Various artists created fantastical garden gates and you strolled the grounds and saw them along the way. They were very cool and many of them were available for sale. You could have your own awesome garden gate at home!

We then drove into the town of Stockbridge for a little luncheon. A nice lunch at a local pub, some window shopping downtown and a wine tasting followed by a bit more window and book shopping and we were ready to go.

We headed further out into the hills to the Furnace Brook Winery. It is a stone's throw to the New York border, just about as far west as you can go in Massachusetts. We each wound up buying a bottle of the sparkling cider, it's a little different and incredibly delicious. It will come in handy for this weekend's Tour de France celebrations with Roma.

Finally we made a little stop at the Lee Outlets. A total bust, there was nothing, nothing, nothing, except a Coach bag I couldn't afford at all anyway. Heh.

It was a great, relaxing Saturday and we had a lot of fun. It was also kind to my budget which I love. A full day with unlimited fun but that fun not being based on spending a bunch of cash.

Here are some of the garden gates from the Rockwell Museum:

Monday, July 21, 2008

Happy Hallo- Wait, What?

Dude. People, I went to get Ruth and another friend, Brooklyn, birthday cards and when I walked into Hallmark they were decorating it for Halloween. Not kidding. Halloween. Stuffed cauldrons, plush witches, ceramic pumpkins, all sorts of All Hallow's Eve brick-a-brac.

It is three months, MORE than three months to Halloween. This is just obnoxious. I mean, could we sport a little 'Back to School' and then some 'Fall' before we break out the candy corn?

I am picking up Morrigan and then heading to NYC to celebrate the birthdays of Ruth and Brooklyn. We will make merry, maybe take in a museum, definitely hit the beach and take in a Yankees game. Clearly I will be rooting for the Twins. I am going to try and work up a post or two to leave you while I am gone. I won't be back until Friday, but I am sure you will survive without me. :)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A few weeks ago I started a little project into finding things to clean more 'green'. The number of chemicals that are in most of our daily cleaners is enough to really scare the average human. The thought of them in our water and environment when they don't maybe need to be compelled me to try and find some not-very-expensive and yet effective alternatives. My budget does not have a lot of room to indulge in some fantasy quest to use super fancy imported cleaning products that come in pretty bottles.

This one, is a toilet bowl cleaner made by major manufacturer, Clorox. It is a branch of their company called Green Works. So, that does two things for me; one, the name is one I know even if I don't really know the name 'Green Works' and the other is that I am hoping that Clorox is putting out a product that actually cleans. So, given those two factors- plus the decent price I gave it a try.

The ingredients are all natural and biodegradable. The fact that is not animal tested really pleased me!

I've used the product now for about 2 months and I've been very happy. The liquid is thick and clings to the side of the bowl which makes cleaning easy. I live in an old building and rust stains from the pipes are a battle, and this has really kept them at bay. I haven't noticed any lack of cleaning power.

The ingredients are mostly citrus based. There is coconut and lemon oil and citric acid. There is no bleach and no big long chemicals that I can't say aloud. When I've used it, it's a nice citrus smell and no cloud of chemical fumes- a bonus in bathroom cleaning.

One of my problems with attempting any sort of green cleaning in the past has been that the prices were so premium. You always have to go looking at fancy boutiques or in the fancy section of the grocery store (oxymoron, but you know what I mean) and then you paid more for less, not to mention that you weren't very sure that the product would actually clean. This one was a decent price, just $2.59 at my local large store with the bullseye. If you've been thinking about trying some new clean green product, I would recommend this one. Any that you have found and liked?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Belated Post On The Fourth

So this is whole post is late, but since I never promised anything approaching a timely chronology you will just have to suffer the indignity of the tardy post.

On the 4th of July I met up with my friend Morrigan, her husband Thor, her dad (McDad) and daughter Pixie, at a local farm. We have a membership and get all sorts of goodies grown fresh and local. In addition, you get a chance to pick flowers, visit the chickens and farm dogs, and shop in the little farm store.

Morrigan spent a few years working in a floral shop in high school and that has really paid off. Check out this knock-out bouquet she put together while wandering the pick-your-own flower section!

It was a chilly, damp day with showers in the morning, but they had cleared up enough that we could wander the farm without getting soaked. It made for a few pretty pictures with the flowers having raindrops on them, even if it made for more mucky ground to walk on. It's only dirt and we all know how to shower. Later that evening the big thunderstorms would roll through and wipe out our fireworks display. But they're rescheduled for next week, so while not as timely or festive it is a great chance to get together with friends and the community anyway. They've taken the rain delay as a chance to plan something special and there is going to be a whole town festival with game booths and food and competitions for the kids- that's taking lemons and making lemonade for sure!

Another fleur. I just love the bright colors!

Pixie is awesome. She is a girly mcsuper girly who likes pink dresses, fancy, sparkly shoes and jewelry who also climbs trees, catches newts, hikes and eats all her veggies. What a delightful combo. Here, she can be seen demonstrating a little of both sides of her personality. She's got on her pink sun dress, along with clear sparkly jellie shoes that I bought her, and she's covered in mud from her enthusiastic strawberry, flower and bean picking efforts. Mussed, but with no fuss.

It was a great way to spend a couple of hours with friends without a lot of hustle and bustle. We got lots of goodies and we had beautiful bouquets of flowers to show for our efforts.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Helen Mirren Is Smokin' Hot

So, we totally already knew that Helen Mirren is beautiful and insanely talented as an actress. We've seen all the goooorgeous gowns during award season and her fabulous style. Her most charming cleavage is a wonder to behold in said gowns, but did anyone quite know what a knock out she is?She turns 63 in a few days. Yes, you read that correctly. Dang, I want to be Helen Mirren when I grow up. I have never in my life looked as amazing as this. It's an inspiration. I'm sure I could have a salad for dinner tonight after witnessing this.

I came across this photo on Go Fug Yourself. (They got it from The Daily Mail) Do you read it? It's a riot and an education all at once, so go get hysterical reading their critiques of fashion.

Roadside Fruit and Veggies

I had a spare second today and pulled over to a tiny roadside stand advertising local blueberries. I've walked past here before with little Zo but never had a chance to stop, so today I took the side street and pulled in. There were not only blueberries, but wax beans! Yuuuum!

I passed on the cucumbers and peppers, but maybe later this week I'll go grab some.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Getting Rid Of Mouse- Easy Style

Last night I went to get a drink of water before heading to bed. I walked into the kitchen, flipped on the light and poured myself the beverage. As I went to close the fridge a sudden movement startled me as a mouse ran across the top of my stove and leaped behind the fridge. I did not scream like a pansy-ass, but I did sort of give a garbled muffled shriek as I levitated backwards about 3 feet.

I am not afraid of mice. But I do not approve of them being in my home. Last fall Darcel had the same problem and I received a frantic late night call on the subject. I walked her through my mother's patented method of mouse capture and disposal and she was thrilled. Since I have to do the same thing tonight I figured I would go ahead and post a little anti-mouse tutorial. With pictures.

I know, you're excited, brace yourself!

Here are the items you need: Any kind of paper bag- a lunch sac is great, a mouse trap of the snap variety, peanut butter and a knife.

1. Get your snap style mouse trap (although I suppose other varieties could be used).2. Put a smudge of peanut butter on the trigger. In this case the trigger is a plastic piece that looks like cheese, but sometimes it's just a little metal tray.
3. Set the trap. Watch your fingers, this is the dangerous moment. I had a piece fly loose on one of these today and do some damage to my thumb. It didn't snap on me, thank God, but it inflicted some hurtin' anyway. They aren't exactly the most high quality product every made.
4. Open lunch sac/brown paper bag.
5. Holding the sides of the mouse trap with all fingers and palms well way from the potentially snapping trap, gently place the mouse trap in the bag. Just half way in is enough.
6. Using a knife, gently push the trap into the middle of the bag.
7. Carefully pick up the bag with two hands, keeping it level and put wherever you want to try and catch the mousey.
8. Check the bag in the morning and if you have caught your mouse, then pick up the bag, fold over the top and take it out to the trash.

The beauty of this method is that you never have to touch, or even really look directly at the dead mouse. At $1.47 for four traps I am more than happy to just chuck the trap out with the mouse still in it. The paper bag does not scare or deter the mouse at all, they walk right in and go for the peanut butter, so don't worry about that. The other advantage to the bag method is that you won't accidentally trigger it with your foot or forget that it is there and it can keep dumb dogs and curious cats out in most cases.

OK, so go on and catch any pesky mice that have wandered into your abode. I hope that I can catch mine tonight!

Monday, July 14, 2008


Went to the grocery store for two things.

Bought nine.

Pulling out of the parking lot I realized none of the nine were the two that I went for originally and actually needed.

Refused to go back to the madness of the grocery store and its parking lot.

Early Alzheimers? Could be. Just an idiot? Could be.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Learning Early

The Red Sox made me swear last night. It would not be the first time, it will absolutely not be the last time. Frustration, annoyance and swearing are part of what it means to be a Red Sox fan. Really, it's what it means to be a baseball fan, but most definitely a Red Sox fan.

The entire character of what it means to be a fan of this team has changed in the recent past, it has transformed into a new kind of team and a new kind of fan experience. My little cousins know nothing of the pain and suffering of the Red Sox past, they are part of the new, the bright and shiny winning, World Series Champion Red Sox Nation. But I am old and haggard and my formative years were spent learning the ways of near misses, painful losses, blown leads, collapsed come-backs and that next year would be 'our year'. As I muttered obscenities at the tv screen and waved my hands around in useless exhortation the Red Sox lost to the Orioles. Bah.

It made me remember the story of when I first learned to swear about the Red Sox. It is nothing that I, myself, remember, but is a tale of family lore that I have heard many times.

In September of 1978 my grandmother, a widow, was marrying my grandfather. So technically he's a step-grandfather, but not to me. My grandmother, her mother, my mother, and a bevy of other ladies in the family were getting ready for the evening wedding. There was to-ing and fro-ing and slips and hose and shoes and perfume and make-up, it was a hive of activity and I was interested, but a little bored, too.

I went in search of my great-grandfather who was on the back porch hiding from the ladies. He was watching the Red Sox play the Yankees on a tiny color (fancy!) TV with rabbit ears and an extension cord that ran into the kitchen. Anyone who is a long time fan of the Sox just groaned 'The Boston Massacre!' and is well prepared for the rest of this story.

I climbed up on his lap and settled in to enjoy the game and sips of his contraband A&P Root Beer- yuuuum. The Sox had an early lead with the Yanks trailing by one. Grandfather was a pretty quiet guy, but during baseball games he was known to yell at the tv...a lot. I can still hear the echo of his, 'Nothing but a bunch of bums! Goddamn bums!' ring through the air.

When the fifth inning rolled around Reggie Jackson came up to bat for the Yanks and tied it with a homerun. Herbert took it well, I am sure.

Eventually I got bored and went to see what the ladies were doing. I climbed upstairs and found them all in my grandmother's bedroom. On the bed was a big jewelry box, the kind that opens like a treasure chest and there are trays and drawers to put all your best glittery goods. I decided to climb up on the bed and see. As I started to hoist myself up, the jewelry box tipped on the uneven mattress and launched through the air and crashed to the ground with bits of jewelry flying in every direction.

I looked in horror at the mess and then I stamped my foot and yelled, 'Goddamn Reggie Jackson!'

And then all hell broke loose. My great-grandmother, Bucko, shrieked, 'Heeeeerbeeeerrt what did you teach the baby!?!' as she charged down the stairs followed by my horrified mother. My grandmother yelled, 'Daaaad, are you watching the Red Sox, you're supposed to be getting ready!' as she burst out onto the porch followed by two of her sisters who weren't going to miss out on the fun. And there sat my great-grandfather totally bewildered as to what on earth he'd done to deserve having six women, mad as hornets, shaking their fingers and all yelling at once.

And that's how I learned to swear at the Red Sox. I hadn't quite figured out when to apply my new knowledge, but a few more years down the road I would have the art mastered. We in Red Sox Nation learn early to love the Sox, hate the Yanks, swear at them both and boo the umps. It's a rich local tradition- my heritage.

This is my great-grandfather's high school baseball team in 1922. He's front row, second from left. Pretty groovy, huh?

And here is Herbert and myself getting together to talk baseball in the early days.

Although I don't remember any of these events, it is a story that still lives in my family. When something goes wrong, something that aggravates and drives someone crazy they say, 'Goddamn Reggie Jackson!' I get phone calls from my mother that start with these words and I know that her day has not gone well. Your bag of groceries busts open in the parking lot on the way to car? Say it! Get a flat tire in the rain? Say it! The copier get jammed again? Say it! If anyone asks, you can blame it on me, or Herbert- he's taken the blame on this one for years.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Dreamy Twilight

Last night I babysat Zo so that his parents could go have a date. He's a baby, well 13 month old, who is either on, or off, happy or mad, there is no fussy in between. You never know what you'll get, and last night the cards came up trump. Not only was he an easy peasy baby, it was a delightful night.

He very cheerfully waved his parents 'b-b-b-b-bye '(He's starting to talk!) and didn't fuss a bit as they left. It was pretty late and I hadn't had dinner yet, so I put Zo in his tricked out all-terrain stroller and headed out. We strolled the two blocks along the main street to the pizza place where I ordered a small pizza and they said it would be 15 minutes or so. I seized the opportunity to take Zo for an evening walk.

The Three Zs live in a typical New England small town with a main street, a few shops and churches some closely clustered streets with houses but with farm fields mixed in lending a patchwork quality to the layout. The world before subdivisions and houses that are all identical covered the land.

So we turned left out of the pizza parlor and headed down a long side street. The sky in the east was the softest, haziest pink that faded into layers of blue and violet while the sky in the west was glowing a sweet golden honey yellow. The air that had been so hot and humid for days was cooler and drier with a teeny breeze to ensure comfort.

The sidewalk winds under huge maple trees and the leaves were moving in a very gentle breeze making a whispering noise. As we passed tiny farmhouse with a sprawling porch the crying of a baby wafted out the windows. Zo didn't seem to mind at all and I thought, 'Don't get any ideas, baby!'. But he just lifted up his bottle and lay back in his seat and drank while waving his hand at the leaves passing over his head.

The perfect rows of corn stretched out on the left, a red barn in the distance. We walked past a colonial saltbox house, tiny with a huge back yard surrounded by hydrangeas in full bloom the windows warm yellow squares of light. Another house, with the sound of a tv competing with the wails of a pre-schooler who 'No want bath!'. The colors of the sky continued to deepen as we passed overgown lawns and perfectly tended vegetable gardens. I waved at the folks eating outside and Zo started to drift off to sleep.

By the time we had turned back Zo was sound asleep. He slept through the noise and bright lights when I stopped to pick up the pizza. He slept through the barking dog and the loud stereo that blared from a passing car. And miracles or miracles he slept through the transfer from stroller to crib with just a little fussing that was solved by my patting his back.

I was able to eat two slices of delicious pizza and watch Phil and Paul narrate one of my favorite summer events, The Tour de France.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pepe Be Gone

Every night I have a visitor.

He is very ardent in his pursuit.

Somewhere between ten and two he appears on my front lawn and makes his presence known.

I feel much like the poor cat in this picture. Nearly every night Monsieur appears beneath my window proffering his bouquet of stench. The scent is enough to make my eyes water. It can wake me from a sound sleep.

I have seen this skunk. In fact, I saw it last night when I was walking home from Darcel's place. It's oddly white, like 80%. From a distance you could tragically mistake it for a cat.

Oh how I wish he would go away. Far, far away.

*The photo is from here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Random TV Love- Top Gear

I love Top Gear. Anyone know it? It's a show out of Britain about cars. I can't think of one thing about the premise that would entice me to watch. And yet...I love it. I love it so much that I DVR it and watch it at leisure.

It has three hosts who all seem to like each other a lot and hate each other a lot- in a way that some guys can do. They are ruthlessly mean to each other, mock each other and set each other up for disasters whenever possible. Sort of like Jackass, but with vehicles and a smooth British accent.

They do straight up reviews of cars, but mostly they are far above any normal person's budget. They get one-of-a-kind cars and cars worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and drive them around the track. They check out a lot of just merely expensive cars, Mercedes, BMW, Ferrari, Jaguar and such. That's OK, I listen, sometimes they're pretty interesting.

But the pure genius is in all the other crap that they do.

They have celebrities come and race around a track in a 'reasonably priced car'. They do an interview (always very random) and then watch the timed race lap and then they place them on a leader board. They get big names in, and sometimes folks I've never heard of, but they're still fun to watch.

The three hosts are frequently sent on challenges involving cars. Things like, go to America and purchase a car in Miami for less than $1000, drive it to New Orleans. They raced across London at rush hour using a car, boat, bike and public transportation to see what was fastest. Modify RVs and race them around a track smashing into each other along the way.

As a girl who's owned her car for almost 10 years, and it was used when I bought it, I am the last to claim any interest in awesome car shows. But this one, oh yeah.

If you have BBC America, you should check it out. The new season starts Monday!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Guilt Monkeys

See this grossness? Do you have any idea what it is?
These are Sea Monkeys. But they aren't- they aren't Sea Monkeys at all, they are Guilt Monkeys. I bought these for Fiddle's September. Both Fiddle and Faddle begged me to let them hatch them at my apartment. They (probably quite correctly) declared that they would never be able to raise them at home.

So I said yes. No big deal. It's just some shrimp in a container. The did, as advertised, provide the boys with a lot of amusement and some minor science education. But as mid-June rolled around I realized that with the boys away at camps most of the summer there was no way I could ship the Monkeys home with them.

Simultaneously, I began to approach the end of the magic Sea Monkey food pouch. Nine months is not a bad run for a single pouch of Monkey food, but now I had a dilemma.

Practical good sense said that when the boys finished school and were no longer a near daily visitor to my apartment I could ditch the Monkeys. Not my job.

But the fact is, I just couldn't do it. I could think of no good ending. Let them starve? Pour them down the drain? After 10 months of feeding these little gross fresh water shrimp I just couldn't do it. I mean, I know that they are probably generation 473, and not the original Monkeys but it didn't change the heartless killer thing.

Anyway, my karma probably couldn't take it. I need all the good karma I can get. I have no idea what I did in a past life, but it has seriously messed with portions of my karma in this life. Especially things to do with my car or me and cars in general...

So what did I do?

Yes, I bought more food. I searched high and low and finally found it at a shop in town. Of course it wasn't just food, I had to buy the whole package. Well, not the container, but the Monkeys, the food, the whole shebang. Like I would grow more Monkeys??!!?

So now the Guilt Monkeys swim happily in the gross container, procreating like crazy and eating Monkey food till their hearts content. Wait, do Monkeys have hearts? Must check Wikipedia...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Secret Asian Man

Secret Asian man, secret Asian man, they've given you a number and taken waaaay your name!

Come on people, sing it with me! Secret Asian man! What? Oh, it's not 'Asian man'? Oooh, agent man. That makes so much more sense.

I have known for many years now that it is AGENT man, but somehow the whole Asian man thing still sings in my head when I happen to hear this song. What I did not know, is that there is a word for this little problem.

Oh yes! There is! Mondegreen is a word that has been around for a long time, but it is only this year joining the ranks of the proud Merriam-Webster dictionary. They released their list of new words and this has to be my total favorite.


From the Merriam-Webster site: mondegreen ("a word or phrase that results from a mishearing of something said or sung") has delighted wordplay aficionados for years. Mondegreen was first coined by author Sylvia Wright in 1954 in Atlantic magazine, when she confessed to a childhood misinterpretation of the Scottish ballad "The Bonny Earl of Moray." When she first heard the lyric "they had slain the Earl of Moray and had laid him on the green," she felt terribly sorry for the "poor Lady Mondegreen."

Got that? A mondegreen is when you mishear a lyric (or other). This has happened to everyone, and we've all be chagrined when our friends look at us with horror as we belt out, "Hold me closer, Tony Danzaaaa" and then the mocking begins.

It has happened to you, I know it!

The best part is that Merriam-Webster is asking people to submit their mondegreens. So go on, do it. Confess your mondegreen sins, but don't submit Secret Asian Man, I already got that one covered.

Also, go check out Jon Carroll's hillarious columns on the subject of mondegreens.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sweet Treat

I got a little care package in the mail the other day. Inside was a t-shirt from a very unlikely place, and some candy from a friend. The candy was Skittles. I can't remember the last time I bought myself a package of Skittles. I'm just not that much of a candy person. Ice cream is an entirely different story, but candy, eh. Perhaps it is the irony of growing up where the streetlights are shaped like Kisses- I don't care about candy...

In any case, I smuggled my care package treat into the movies and noshed away while watching Wall-E. Yuuuuum. I loved the green and yellow ones best. The citrus is always my favorite, even if its that funky fake citrus taste unique to candy.

I forgot how delicious these are!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Dara Torres Shezam!

Shezam! I wanna be Dara Torres when I grow up! Did you miss this in all the July 4th hubbub? Dara Torres is a swimmer. She is competing to be on the US Olympic swimming team for Beijing in 2008. Oh, by the way, she's 41, a mother of a 15 month old and she first won a gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics.

Last night Dara didn't just make the Olympic team, she won the women's 100 M Free. She beat a field of competitors that are 25 and under, 16 years her junior.

Dara has already competed in four Olympics (1984, 1988, 1992, 2000) and won NINE Olympic medals. She's retired twice before and missed two Olympics, or she might well have been heading to her seventh. The 100 Free isn't even her best event- she'll be going for a spot in the 50 Free tonight, with the final on Sunday evening.

I wanna be Dara Torres when I grow up.

This clip is a little long, about 5 minutes, but you see the race start to finish.

This is a little 'Person of the Week' profile from ABC. This was done before the trials started, but you see her routine and how she trains.

Dang, I love the Olympics.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fireworks - Not For You, Massachusetts, Not For You!

Most I really love living in Massachusetts. It's pretty liberal, there is a big city, beaches, good chowder, skiing, lots of state parks, fall foliage, the Red Sox and more. However, sometimes this place is so effing uptight that you can not believe it. The Yankee blood runs true- conservative, puritanical, no-fun, doom and gloom reign here on the Fourth of July (and select other moments).

Did you know that in the state of Massachusetts every single kind of firework is illegal. Every kind! You can't even light a sparkler or a black snake* for the love of Pete! No lie. A BLACK. SNAKE. Um, the most benign firework ever. If you lose a finger or toe lighting one of these I gotta say that's Darwin at work and leave it at that.

What kind of state says that you can't light a sparkler? I get maybe advising us not to, or reminding us to put down the beer while we light up the black snakes, but exactly how incompetent do you think we are? We can really decide if we want to lose our fingers all by ourselves, so could you butt out, Massachusetts? A few PSAs regarding the dangers and some good limitations would really be just about enough.

Honestly, I don't need my neighbors to be armed with professional grade fireworks. I don't want to stay up all night listening to some moron's unending supply of crappy fireworks whistle, bang and sizzle. But I would kinda like to be allowed one box of multi-colored sparklers. I'm old enough. Seriously. I can manage it.

OK, kids, you have fun and stay safe out there. If you live anywhere but here, you light up a sparkler for me. Don't lose any fingers in the process, please. Remember, put down the beer, then light the sparkler...

*Please watch that Black Snake Firework video- a dad yelling 'Flaming pooping trio!' while the toddler giggles and the mom goes, 'eeeeewww, that's grooooos'. Classic. If that's not family fun, on America's birthday what is??

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Love Is A Battlefield...Will Make DPW Workers Laugh

So my car is currently residing at the repair shop. It has a little problem, but it won't PERFORM said problem for the mechanics who seem to believe me but kind of are starting to think I'm nuts. Great. Join the club. Since my car is in the shop and I had need of transportation this week, my lovely friends, The Three Zs, loaned me their spare. It is a two-seat hard-top convertable that is rarely used by them. Wheee!

Today I took the back way over to their store where I am working for a few hours. Along the way I cranked up the radio and let my hair fly. I sort of looked like a demented blond Medusa in a teal convertable. Heh.

Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl came on the radio and I sang along. Basking in the sunshine and warm breezes. Then maybe Elton John and I did a duet to Don't Go Breaking My Heart. I ROCK as Kiki Dee. (I really wish I had that hot hair, oh wait I did when I was 4! And the overalls are a statement for sure, that combined with the hair and the smooth dance moves is more awesomeness than I can take. I'm watching that video a hundred times tonight.) Then the lovely Pat Benetar burst forth with Love Is A Battlefield! (Ohhellzyeah! I so remember this video.) So maybe I was singing along. Loudly. In a convertable. Maybe I didn't think much about it as I slowly drove by the DPW guys working on the side of the road. Not until I noticed them doubled up in laughter and waving at me.

Heh. They're just jealous. They want to drive the teal convertible and sing Pat Benatar in the sunshine instead of holding 'slow' signs and patching potholes.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fun, Crazy Weekend

Sorry I haven't posted- A friend came in from out of town this last weekend. We spent three days running around like nuts and having a blast. We tooled around the Berkshires and wandered the little shops and galleries in Lenox, visited the only winery in Western Massachusetts and took the back roads everywhere. We went to the movies, played mini-golf, shopped and hid in the air conditioning a lot.

Ruth is a crazy woman who is also the most down to earth and upstanding human around. What an awesome combination. We always have a blast and I miss her like crazycakes when shes gone. Good thing we chat on IM about four hours a day. Good use of my time, yes?

Also, I am watching I Survived A Japanese Gameshow right now. I'm so going to television hell in a handbasket. It's the heat, it makes my brain incapable of watching the Masterpiece Theater I DVR'd.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Growing Gills

Today was some seriously odd weather. As my grandmother would have said, "It almost rain but it mist." Ha! All day it was just so humid you could not believe it, there was no actual rain, but the air was just a fine veil of almost-rain all day.

It was one of those things that compelled everyone to say something about the weather. Everywhere I went, every line I stood in, each person I met said something along the lines of, "What's up with this? It's so humid I'm melting!"

It wasn't hot, not even warm really but it was so uncomfortable. You sweat standing still and the moisture just clung to everything. My clothes took on this permanently damp feel that was so very unpleasant. There was not the slightest puff of a breeze to bring relief, the leaves on the trees just did not move all day.

I was babysitting Zo this afternoon and he wanted to be held. Blech. Poor munchkin, he clearly has no idea that pressing his sticky baby flesh to me was not going to improve his situation. In the mid-afternoon I popped him into his stroller and went for a walk. He was much happier to be on the move and I was happier generating my own breeze by strolling than melting into a puddle being stationary.

He even zonked out after a while. The never-sleep-ever-baby!

I hope that tomorrow is going to be much less humid because if not I might grow some gills, or at least some moss.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fields Of Flowers

In a perfect moment of overlapping needs, my friends needed a hand with their little boy and their shop and I had free time and a need for finances! Don't you just love it when that happens?

Anyway, it was a gorgeous, gorgeous day here today. The sky was a blue bowl, the air was cooler and less humid and the sun was bright. My friend, Zeb, came to pick me up and we took a short drive through the countryside to a farm. There we did a little shopping and picked strawberries and flowers.

The strawberries are the very last of the season, but so delicious. We ate more than a few while we picked. The strawberries were hot from the sun and so sweet they tasted like jam rather than just the berries.

The flowers were beautiful with vivid colors and the rows seemed to stretch endlessly towards the horizon . There were several that I did not know the name of as well as; Bachelor's Buttons, Snapdragons, a few early Zinnias - and I could see buds on many plants- more flowers to come!

The bees were busy, buzzing around from flower to flower. Given the horrible colony collapse problems, I'm always glad to see one of these guys doing their job. In this case there were lots of bees around, all intent on their jobs and not in the least interested in the humans wandering the fields.

I also spotted a few ladybugs climbing around the flowers. They were mostly quite shy and not excited to get their pictures taken. Figures, you know girls.

After we gathered up all our goodies Zeb and I headed back to his house. His wife, Zippy, was entirely happy to hand over her munchkin, Zo. He is just a year and a total handful. He has the temper of a Irish redhead! He can be quite the temperamental handful, but today he was an angel. We played and laughed all afternoon (no more ticklish baby ever existed). When he fought his nap and was cranky-pants I popped him in the stroller and went for a nice long, shady walk.

I finished the day off with a totally local dinner! I had an omlette (sort of- I'm not so swift with the omlette) made of local eggs, local asparagus, local dill, local goat cheese and local hothouse tomatoes! So delicious!