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!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hard Day = Clean Apartment

Yesterday was a totally crappy day. A company that owes me money is pulling the 'revenue stream issues' and 'tough times' line. Right. So, for work I have already completed you will not pay. Great. They assure me that they really will pay me. Someday. Not so helpful for say, today.

My reaction was a moment of hysteria and then I grabbed some cleaning implements.

Really. Cleaning stuff. What is the matter with me? When faced with emotional crises, those which I can't change and that make me nuts, I clean.

I got out the Windex and went to town on the windows. The baseboard radiators are shiny and dust free. The baseboards, spotless. The pollen that once decorated my windowsills? Goners! Loads of laundry, a reorganized closet, a freshly made bed.

So I'm an emotional wreck. But hey, my apartment is spotless!

*Helmet image proof positive that I've always been a little crazy and that a helmet is always a handy accessory.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

On Piano Lessons Lost And Recitals Attended

As I mentioned, Faddle was not polite to his piano teacher two weeks ago. I had only taken him to one other piano lesson, so I was unaware that this was an ongoing problem. Oh, Faddle.

I had spoken with his mother, Tee, specifically about the events of that Friday. She wasn't happy with Faddle. She was also frustrated at the whole circumstance. The irony, Faddle likes piano- and he's good at it.

Fast forward to this last Friday and Tee called while having a horrible mommy day. They happen. You know they do. A lot. Those ungrateful wretches, better known as children, have no idea the havoc they wreak on the emotional well-being of their mothers. At least I hope they have no idea, because if they do- they're sadists!

In any case, one of the problems of the day was that Faddle's piano teacher had called and basically uninvited Faddle to any further lessons. Ouch. Man, this is saying something because that woman has the patience of Job! Also, she's an amazing teacher and it is entirely LAME that Faddle managed to blow this opportunity.

For heaven's sake, why on earth did he do it? He LIKES to play the piano. The teacher did all sorts of fun things, including getting him simple sheet music to his favorite music- Queen. He didn't even mind practicing. His 'issues with authority' are about to land him a boot up his ass by his mother.

He was going to have one more lesson and his recital on Saturday and then that's it. I feel really bad for Tee. She's frustrated and tired of trying to figure out the psyche of Faddle. She's no push-over and so I don't think he's a pain because of that. But this is a common problem with Faddle, he seems to get everything he wants in a situation and he STILL manages to be a total nightmare. He does it at school, with me, his piano teacher, his former sports coaches and even his parents. What is with that? Truly both the problem and the solution lie with Faddle, I think we can work to help him figure it out, but nothing any of us do is changing this behavior, this attitude, this suckitude.

In any case, on Saturday morning I got up and walked over to the recital hall. Tee and the boys were late- of course they were- they're late to everything. But luckily the recital was just getting started and the teacher (being no dummy) had scheduled Faddle well into the event. Also, this genius teacher split her students into two groups so that the recital only lasted 50 minutes. No lie! How awesome is that? No sitting through a billion precious snowflake recitals!

Truly the kids were both skilled and charming. I have no complaints. I thought I might need some sort of combat metal for agreeing to attend such an event for Faddle, but I actually enjoyed it. There were teeny kids who did one song and older kids who were quite talented and performed three songs. I totally loved the kid who not only played but sang- Jame's Taylor's Sweet Baby James. He even had everyone join in on the last chorus. Awesome. I really wished that we'd had a sing-along for John Denver's Take Me Home Country Roads as performed by a lovely little boy. I really would have rocked that one out.

Faddle did a good job. He also did a decent job of waiting for his turn and then sitting through the remaining performances. I don't know if Tee has informed him of the loss of his piano lessons yet. I'll catch up with her this week and see what the story is. What a waste.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Olympic Trial Idiots

Dear Morons Sitting Behind The Still Rings (and a few others),

Yes, you.

Look, if someone has worked their whole damn lives to reach the Olympics could you show some respect? You look like you can barely make it up the stairs to your seats, so I doubt you know the effort that these young men and their entire families have made to get here. But really, use your small brains and try and work it out.

They (and the rest of America) don't need to see you waving, making faces, shaking your asses and letting your obnoxious four-year-old monkey dance for the cameras. Did you get lost? This is not a hockey game. Or a baseball game. Or a football game. It's the Olympic trials. This happens once every FOUR years. Could you pull yourselves together and sit still while these young men perform?

If you feel you must, then dance and mug for the camera during the million minutes that people are NOT performing. During the 60 seconds that these guys perform amazing feats of athletic grace and strength could you sit still?

I really wish I could reach through the television and slap you.

You've really done America proud, folks, really awesome.

Jess in MA

Friday, June 20, 2008



Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @

Gotta head over to the Brew House now. Heh.

Cleaning Greener: Meeting Mrs. Meyers

I have been trying to make my life a little greener. A few weeks ago I spotted this in the big box wonderland of Target. Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day counter top spray. I used to see this in the fancy-pants boutiques on occasion but I had never paid the price for the exclusive coolness.

I usually use Windex for cleaning the counter top or dining room table. Sort of odd, I guess, but it's simple, effective and not too harsh. It easily removes hot chocolate rings, popsicle puddles and the balogna residue that seem to follow the boys wherever they go. I often let Faddle do the post-snack clean up and he's very good if over-enthusiastic with the spritzing and I can let him since its just some ammonia.

But since there is clearly other stuff in Windex, even if I don't know if it is good or bad for the environment or my liver or anything I figured it was worth a try to make the move to Mrs. Meyer's.
At the top of the bottle it says 'aromatheraputic' and they aren't playing. This stuff smells great, but it is strong. My kitchen smells citrus-y fresh for a significant amount of time after I clean. Great for some, less appealing to others.

Mrs. Meyers contains only natural ingredients and everything is biodegradable. There are oils of lemon, lemmongrass, peppermint, clove, geranium and a vegetable protein. That's it, not big chemical names anywhere!

I was a little concerned that it might be oily or leave a sticky residue since it has so many essential oils in it, but no! I was also uncertain about its ability to power through the usual kitchen mess. I'm used to the brutal force of ammonia and in emergency cases the Formula 409 to blast away whatever disaster I have created. But I've been using the Mrs. Meyers for about three weeks now and I have been really happy with its cleaning power.

I can't remember what the price was when I had seen it before in the kitchen shops and other boutiques, but maybe with the mass power of selling through the ubiquitous bulls-eye it might be less pricey. Well, hmm. Less, probably. Inexpensive, no. I think it is usually around two bucks for most of my kitchen cleaners and this one rings in at a whopping $4.99.

The size of the bottle is decent and it usually takes me a long, long time to use up a whole bottle of kitchen cleaner. (I have like 2 feet of counter space, so that could be why.) Also I must say that I do not overuse this, just a spritz or two and I'm usually all set, so it isn't like I have to compensate for the 'natural' part by using more. Which means that five bucks isn't so big a deal for a bottle of cleaner that will last me for months. So far, so good. I definitely recommend to others who might want to try something a bit more 'green' and less harsh!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I'm A Flintstones Kid

I am a Flintstones kid. Ok, the kid part is clearly pushing it, but so what. Years ago in a fit of health consciousness I purchased a bottle of Centrum one-a-day vitamins. I hated them. Nothing against them, this was entirely my fault. They were just so...grown up...boring...lifeless. I think it took me six months to finish a bottle that should have lasted a month.

The next time I went to my doctor I asked, "Um, can I take Flintstones vitamins instead of the grown up Centrum type ones?" The doctor looked at me funny. I explained, "I know it's dumb, but I never remember or like to take the regular ones so I thought maybe, well, Flintstones." He continued to look at me funny. Then he laughed. Then he said, "Yes, you can take them if you want." I asked if I needed to take two a day or anything since I am not seven anymore, but he assured me that one was plenty.

So now I take Flintstones every day. I have managed to do this for years now. I rarely forget on a given day. I keep them by my kitchen sink so that I see them often and remember. I've even gotten the ones that have iron, so they're perfect for me.

In the past I tried the generic store version and I gotta say, not as good. I'm all for the less expensive generic whenever possible, but I would say that the purchase of the actual Flintstones is the way to go.

So, if you have been skipping your Centrum or whatever because it just has no zip. Take my advice, get yourself some Flintstones and feel the magic.
Look, I get a red Barney today. Not as good as my favorite purple Dino, but still, waaaaay better than boring!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mastermind And Pin Cushions

I've mentioned that Fiddle is a bit of an anxious kid. It's just the way he's made. He's working on changing it and learning how to cope with his need for perfection and how he gets frustrated and freaks out when things don't go how he would like them to go.

But these things are baby steps. Changing things about yourself takes time. Lots of time. Grown-ups have just as much trouble, ask anyone who's tried to quit smoking, stay on a diet or give up a bad habit. It's a struggle.

Last week Fiddle, Faddle and I played Mastermind. Do you remember Mastermind? You set up colored pegs in a secret order, hidden by a little screen and then your opponent guesses. There are big colored pegs and small red and white pegs that are used to give people a hint as to whether they have part of the code right or not. These pegs go into two little divided bins that are a attached to the game itself.

After we played a few rounds we decided to pack it in. I asked Fiddle if he would put the game away please. I then wandered off to do some dishes. Because the kitchen is not in sight of the living room I missed the early stages of the freakout. It was only when I heard the wordless shriek of rage and frustration and the cry of 'I can't dooooo iiiiiiiit!' did I realize that Fiddle was in trouble.

Ditching the dishes I came out to check what the problem was and found Fiddle in tears. He could not get the colored pegs to stay in their respective bins and close the lid. Something kept moving and jamming the lid and the pegs would get all mixed up.

Do you see that there are like seven pegs out of place? This is enough to make him lose it. What other ten-year-old out there is worrying about this? Most would jam the lid shut or just shove it into the box without even managing to get the lid shut.

I calmly explained that it was ok if some of the pegs got mixed up. I pointed out that sometimes I have trouble getting the lid closed to the bins and that it just takes some time and effort. I reminded him that he's always allowed to ask for help and that he can take a break and come back to something that is frustrating him, as long as he does indeed come back. (He has some issues with quitting.) All to virtually no avail. Once my man Fiddle is in freakout mode, there is no stopping it.

He retreated to the comfy chair.

After Tee came to pick up the boys I myself collapsed on the comfy chair. Turning my head I spotted my pin cushion. You know, the kind that is like a red tomato divided into sections by green strings wrapped around the orb? I see that while in the comfy chair recovering from his freakout Fiddle has taken all of the pins and organized them by color in each section.

That is Fiddle to a tee.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Chicken Dance

Today I was grumpy. I know why I was grumpy, but it doesn't really matter and I couldn't change of the factors involved. It's boring to be grumpy. It is boring to be the person has to deal with the grump. I was trying to just crank over and get the grump out of the system but nothing was particularly effective.

I arrived to get the boys at school this afternoon and had a few minutes to wait. Noticing that my car's dashboard and all other flat surfaces were disgustingly dirty and covered with pollen I grabbed my pack of Windex Wipes and started to clean. That's the kind of OCD girl I am. I have Windex Wipes in my car...all the time. Sigh.

As I wiped away the gross grime a car pulled into the adjoining parking lot. The sound of a boisterous and incredibly loud accordion rendition of The Chicken Dance was pulsing out of this vehicle. Really? An accordion listener who blasts their music? Fascinating.

The car pulled in and out of a space about six hundred times before finally parking to their satisfaction. Either they were a perfectionist or just crazy. That mystery was solved when the car door opened. The volume of the music increased to deafening levels and out of the car emerged a very tall, very skinny elderly man. Seeing the line up of nannies, mothers, fathers and others waiting for their kids he began to dance. Not a lie. He hopped-one-foot-skipped and shimmied in a circle around his car. The Chicken Dance's ever increasing tempo beat frantically faster and faster as this senior citizen beanpole improv polka'd around the vehicle.


He didn't seem crazy in the clinical sense. He seemed crazy in the what-the-eff-do-you-care way. A way I can't imagine being ever, he just did what he wanted when he wanted because he wanted to. End of story.

As the music ended he reached in, turned off the radio, shut the car door and wandered over to sit on the chairs with a few other seniors who were hanging out at the establishment.

I found myself cackling with glee. Seriously, when have you ever seen such a thing? Never! Visions of family weddings, St. Patrick's Day colleen balls, New Year's parties, retirement parties, anniversary parties, all featuring aunts, uncles and cousins in various stages of non-sobriety doing The Chicken Dance. Normally dignified older ladies and gentlemen flapping their arms with abandon, typically cool and hip cousins shimmying their backsides as tailfeathers, small children losing their balance and wiping out on the dance floor. I could not stop laughing as the memories of the insanity crowded in.

Then a woman pulled her car into the space beside mine. As I looked over I see that she has taken out a Swiffer Duster and is attacking her dashboard and vents. HA! Let the crazies gather in one place, I say!

I was officially ungrumpy. Really, who could be grumpy in the face of such total lunacy? Not me.

By the way, the instructions to The Chicken Dance are available online here. No freaking kidding. It's awesome. Actually, extra awesome.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Quick Visit

My mother made a quick visit this weekend. She came to pick up her new Akita from the breeders. This is going to be her final Akita since she's getting a smidge older now and in another 10 years or so a big, strong dog will not be a good match for her. So she hunted and hunted to find just the right dog to be her last Akita and she found her! She is a beautiful, smart and sweet little pup and I am sure she will be a good dog.
Isn't she sweet?

We picked her up on Sunday morning and drove to my cousin's soccer match. He's just four so it was very cute. He did a great job as goalie and stopped several balls. He was not so strong on defense because, just like all the other kids, he leaves his post and runs up to where the action is. His mom, my cousin, is the coach and she ran up and down the field tirelessly yelling and pointing and encouraging all the kids. Very fun!

Then it was off to another cousin's house for a Father's Day BBQ. There were approximately 4.7 million children there. They had even rented a jumpy house to keep them all busy. Thankfully the weather was gorgeous and the kids loved running around, playing with the new puppy and stuffing their faces. So did the adults.

A great day!

Also, my mother says that the mystery tree in the front yard is, "...some kind of Chestnut..." So maybe we have our answer! She's smart about plants.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I Make Bad Nine Year Olds Cry

Sometimes children can drive you batty. They can be hyper and they can be unfocused or slow and dawdle- whatever you don't need in the moment they are ready to provide. Sometimes this makes you raise your voice and point fingers and sometimes it makes you roll your eyes and try humor and poking or tickling to get someone moving. But then there are they days when someone really just loses their damn mind and says or does something so far over the line that you can not believe it. Today was one of those days.

Today Faddle was off the rails entirely. I picked him up from school and he was whiny and crabby. Usually this is solved by food, but no. He continued. He walked a fine line of my tolerance by not quite talking back, not quite being a smart alec, not quite being rude. We had several brief exchanges of my reminding him that he may not be rude. He rolled his eyes.

Then I took him to his piano lesson. He was rude to the piano teacher. Oh. No. You. Didn't.

If you are nine and are rude and disrespectful to me, you are gonna regret it. If you are nine and rude and disrespectful to other adults while I am watching you, you are seriously going to regret it.

We left the lesson and got in the car.

Fiddle: Giving a long explanation of how house cats and outdoor cats are different.
Faddle: Faddle! Shut up, you talk to much!
Me: Ahem. Faddle, you want to rephrase that? I was enjoying hearing Fiddle's ideas.
Faddle: Whatever.
Me: Faddle, what do you think I should do with you today?
Fiddle: No sugar! No snack! No popsicle! No TV!
Me: Thanks, Fiddle, but I want to hear from Faddle.
Faddle: Nothing.
Me: Nothing? You think you've been well behaved?
Faddle: I'm tiiiiiiiired. I stayed up playing my DS last night. And my fan wasn't on and I was hoooot.
Me: Well, I appreciate being tired. That is something that makes it hard to be happy and awake and pleasant, but it isn't an excuse to be rude to me, your brother and your piano teacher. And staying up and playing a video game you aren't allowed to use on a school night was entirely your decision and you have to live with the consequences.

We continue to drive towards my home. Faddle continues to be a pain. When we arrive he lies across the backseat of the car and complains that he's tired and doesn't want to climb the stairs to my apartment. I sigh. And leave him in the car as Fiddle and I leave for the door. He comes streaking up the driveway screeching that we left him aloooone.

The boys ask for a grilled cheese and so Fiddle helps me to make up a grilled cheese for them to split. The boys settle in with their sandwich slices and I do the dishes. Then Faddle just can't seem to stop himself. He can not resist. He can not just pull it together and get back on track. He's rude and obnoxious. Again.

Me: (removes plate of food from Faddle) Excuse me. That's enough.
Faddle: But I'm eating!
Me: (Using the very-quiet-you-are-in-trouble voice) I have tried to give you several opportunities today to regulate your own behavior. This is unacceptable. I will not be spoken to in that manner. And what's more, you have chosen to conduct yourself like this out in public. I am embarrassed for you.
Faddle: But!
Fiddle: (attempting to save his ungrateful brother) Oh man, shhhhhhhh.
Me: (continuing in the very, very, you-are-so-in-trouble quiet voice) The way that you spoke to your piano teacher. The way that you acted at your lessons was awful. Your piano teacher is a professional, someone who is an expert who is trying to help you learn. She finds interesting music and fun things for you to do and to play. She listens to you when you ask questions and she goes out of her way to make your lessons both good and fun. Today you were rude and disrespectful and you treated her poorly. You couldn't even be bothered to remember your piano music for your lesson. You acted as though you thought what she did was stupid and that her job was dumb. Your actions showed that you didn't think that her feelings mattered at all and you were dismissive of her efforts.
Faddle: Takes a shaky breath.
Me: (moving in for the kill) How do you feel about yourself right now? How do think that your choices have made you look today? Do you feel generous? Do you feel like a good friend and brother? Do you feel grown up? Do you think you have done anything positive today that makes this world, your friends, family or those who you have met any happier?
Faddle: Begins crying.
Me: I suggest that you find a way to get yourself back on track. You are too big to knowingly hurt people just because you're tired and cranky. You knew what you did and the things you said were hurtful, disrespectful and rude. I am not proud of you in this moment. You can do better. Much better.
Faddle: Sniffling.
Me: All right, you think about it and come and see me when you think you can behave differently. Until then, you may stay here.
Fiddle: Can I go?
Me: Indeed! Those who are not rude get to live a life of freedom and privilege, go forth and eat a popsicle!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Guinness Is Good For You

Remember when The Guinness Book of World Records was like, the coolest thing ever? Was that only me? Nah, other people had to feel that way when they were 10.

Fiddle came home from school clutching his shiny red Guinness Book courtesy of the Scholastic book orders. Oh, those things were so great. I remember frantically circling book after book and then bargaining with my parents to get that Ultimate Annie Sticker Collectors book and the newest Babysitter's Club book hot off the presses.

Fiddle spent the next two hours yelling out random facts as though he suffered from some sort of trivia Tourette's syndrome.

For your useless trivia needs:

  • Largest Prosthetic Leg belongs to an Asian elephant named Motala in Thailand. It lost its left front foot in a land mine accident in 1999. (SAD!) After an operation involving more than 30 vets, she received a silicon/fiberglass limb big and strong enough to hold her weight.
Damn, you should see this picture!
  • Those crazy Germans, Tom Sietas holds the record for holding your breath, 14 minutes and twelve seconds under 10 feet of water. But that is nothing compared to the accomplishments of Thomas Vogel who, with only one hand, unhooked 56 bras in one minute.

Ahem, leaving every imaginable bad joke and moving on.

  • Largest chocolate igloo. (Really?!) Made by Marco Fanti in Perugia, Italy.

I am so moving ot Perugia, Italy. Who thinks this stuff up??

  • Largest cucumber grown by Alfred J. Cob of the UK, it measured 35.1 inches.

Oh the bad jokes, they pain me to leave unsaid!

  • Highest rate of alcohol consumption per capita- Luxembourg.

Maybe I can get Marco to build me a chocolate igloo in Luxembourg? That would be doubly sweet!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sweet Relief

In news to no one, it's been hot like a sauna here in the northeast. Oh man has it been hot. I am such a wimp about normal heat that there are really no words to describe my horror at seeing numbers like 98 and 100 on my thermometer. Last night the heatwave finally broke. A cold front passed through a little before 11:00 in dramatic fashion.

I stood by a window and watched as the still, sultry night air transformed as the storm approached. Leaves began to flip and turn in the breeze and then branches began to sway then slash. Then the storm hit.

A constant strobe of lightning, freezing the deluge of raindrops for a split second seeming to halt them in mid-fall.

A continual roar of thunder, low and far away then crashing loud and close.

A wall of water falling, flooding the street in an instant, filling the potholes, overwhelming the storm drains.

The way the earth seemed to just sigh in relief and then gasp at the full power of the water and wind that came blasting through.

Alternating blasts of hot and cold as the air swirled with the storm.

And then, it was over. It was about eight minutes of pure natural power and then, just as fast as it arrived it was gone. The air was 15 degrees cooler the rain dripped from the leaves and gathered in puddles and the wind was still again.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Mystery Tree

In my front yard there lives a mystery tree.

I know a little about plants, but not a lot and this one is a total mystery to me!

It looks like a shrub that thinks its a tree. It doesn't have one solid trunk but rather several smaller ones that are kinda welded together. It does not have big branches, just loads and loads of smaller branches.

In the winter the leaves fall off and there is nothing but trunk and branches, but come spring this thing busts out like there is no tomorrow.

The mystery tree blossoms with a profusion of white flowers. Four long, skinny petals cluster around a little yellow center and the sweet aroma is overpowering. There are many, many flowers in clusters. The whole tree actually looks shaggy!

I thought it was some kind of honeysuckle, given the look of the flowers and the sweet, sweet smell, but I haven't seen anything on the interwebs that looks like this. Most say that it is a smaller shrub, but this thing is massive.

Mystery tree stands about 20 feet high and 30 feet across, far larger than the listings of 8-10 feet.

As I took photos I spotted a robin. He was very pretty among the white flowers but he was most suspicious of my camera and me. He eyed me carefully and fluttered from branch to branch trying to avoid me. No such luck, bird, no such luck.

So if anyone has any bright ideas as to what this mystery tree is, let me know. I search the interwebs for knowledge until then.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Caved In

I caved. The AC is in.

I work from home with a computer on my lap and I just couldn't take the sweltering flesh-melting heat for one more second. I was totally planning on toughing it out for the three days- no problem. But then they keep adding on days that it will be above 95 and I am a fragile blossom in the heat. I can't take it!

It's 97 today and supposed to be 100 tomorrow. Then after that, it drops all the way down into the upper 80's. Wow, awesome.

So, I dragged the AC out of its storage box this morning and I assembled all the bits and pieces and stuck it in the window. I hate doing it because it blocks the only large window in the living room and in the evenings when it is nice and cool I would prefer to just have a window fan or the breezes, but non.

In good greeny news this model is super efficient and actually costs me less in electricity than running the fan. Hooray, environmental responsibility and comfort!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Farmer's Market

In the early foggy cool of Saturday morning I strolled downtown to the little farmer's market. Amazingly, I have lived here for a year and never been - shocking!

There were only about 18 stalls, so it isn't huge by any means, but it was pretty. There were far more plants for sale than anything else. Little starter vegetables for your garden like summer squash, tomatoes, lettuces and broccoli, flowers like impatiens, marigolds (good for fending off bugs), lilies and irises are ready for gardens with houseplants in the mix as well.

There were two stalls with local and organic meats. I didn't get anything this time, but it's good to know for the future. There was also a very tempting goat cheese stand, and I will definitely be visiting that later. Mmmmm.

It is very, very early in the growing season here so there were limited options compared to what I imagine the market will look like next month or in August. Asparagus is one of the largest local crops and it is just past peak season so I got a nice bunch of asparagus. There were only two little scrawny quarts of strawberries and they were hotly fought over by several purchasers. So, I left those for another week or two. Soon the pick-your-own places will be open!

I did, however get a bunch of rhubarb. I love rhubarb, it's a favorite of mine for sure. Rhubarb pie, rhubarb fool, rhubarb compote, oh yes. I wish there had been more strawberries, but I have some frozen and a few canned peaches. Not ideal, but whatever.

I found a bargain in a bag of spinach for $1 and head of bibb lettuce for $2. Then I grabbed a bunch of pretty red radishes to use in my salad. There were onions and chives, but I didn't need them and they were a bit pricey honestly. The luncheon salad I made from these was lovely.

I think that there were bargains to be had and certainly the produce is farm fresh, beautiful and tasty. Some of it was pricier than I expected, but it is a luxury to just walk over and pick out the things that I want. I look forward to going back as the summer moves on and more produce is available.

When I get my car back (cross fingers, the mechanic is back from vacation tomorrow!) I can pick up my cooperative farm share and stop by the more bargain-priced roadside stands.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Reds Are Coming!

I'm looking at a national map of current temperatures.

Boston - 57 (And the Sox are losing, damnit)
Albany - 73
Pittsburgh- 90

Oooooh nooooo, the heat wave is coming to get us!

My current temperature is 60 degrees and I am in a t-shirt and shorts with the windows open but snuggled under a fuzzy blanket. Tomorrow's predicted high- 92. Sheesh!

The Reds are coming to squeeze out my lovely oranges and yellows!

The photo is from the Accuweather site.

Farting On Command And Other Skillz

I am an only child. Only! I had lots of friends and many cousins but it is not the same as being a sibling. And it is most definitely not the same as being brothers. There are certain things that you learn to do as a brother. Things like say, farting on command.

Fiddle and Faddle can both do this. I swear. Faddle is a damn artist at it. Amidst gales of laughter and shrieks of horror he finds a way to pin down Fiddle and fart on him. There are screams of 'Safety!' and 'Doorknob!' as the foul stench fills the air.

Both boys think that this is the funniest thing to ever happen. Fiddle has been known to say, "Now that is comedy gold!" while holding his nose and pointing at Faddle.

Generally I evacuate the room and leave them to their revolting game. Eventually they run out of firing power.

This must be a skill only learned by brothers. Well, I guess I'd buy that there is some talented sister out there who can decimate her brother's nostrils at will, but I've never seen it.

The fabulous and horrifying pie graphic comes from an Aussie news site partnered with Dr. Karl, author of Begone With The Wind- a whole book of farts.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Eating Local

There used to be a blog called Pocket Farm. I adored it. Sadly, the writer decided to close up shop for now (wipes away tear), but I really enjoyed reading her blog about a two city folks taking over a small farm in Maine and starting a new life. She began to eat local and home grown foods and made at least one meal a week from totally local ingredients. Such a good idea could not stay quiet for long!

Last summer as I started to read a wider and wider circle of blogs I began to see more and more mentions of One Local Summer, the 100-Mile Diet, locavores, and a bunch of other terms and I got curious. Turns out that all of these people were trying to find ways to eat more locally grown or raised food rather than mindlessly shop at their local big mart grocery store.

I checked out websites and read blogs and drooled over delicious dishes of beautiful food. The reasons to try and invest in buying local were manifold and included:

  1. You support local farmers, bakers, dairies, butchers and more.
  2. The less your food travels the more fresh it is.
  3. Food is picked at the right time rather than early and shipped or forced out of season.
  4. The less your food travels to your table the fewer gallons of gas it takes to ship it, saving the environment along the way.
  5. You learn what really is in season when it keeps you in touch with the local turning of the seasons.
  6. You meet people!
  7. Excuses to seek out fun new places to shop!
So in the heat of last summer I dabbled but made no commitment to try and accomplish One Local Summer*. But that's all changing! I spent a little time researching over the winter and though I don't have enough information I'm diving in anyway. Over the winter I joined a cooperative farm and my first share is available tomorrow. I am so excited I can barely contain myself.
I am going to try and check out the local farmer's market on Saturday. I've never made it, even though it is about three blocks away - pathetic. But this weekend, in the coming heat I am going to do my best to go and see what goodies I can find.

One-Local-Summer-100-Mile-Diet-Locavore lifestyle here I come!

*Technically OLS is closed because they have all the participants they can handle. But I'm doing it anyway all on my own...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Make A Wish, Say A Prayer, Send A Vibe

I got some news earlier this week about an old friend. She was in a very bad car accident and she's in critical condition at a hospital far, far away. The doctors are keeping her in a medically induced coma and we're all waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

I just saw this woman. We danced and laughed at our college reunion just two weeks ago. We ate cider donuts and laughed hysterically about things that happened 14 years ago. We marveled at how our classmates looked amazing and were doing even more amazing things with their lives.

Now she's in a hospital bed. I am not pleased. The Universe just poked me in the eye and I'm not amused. I am making wishes, saying prayers, thinking good thoughts and sending the best vibes I've got. If you can, you do the same.

Girl's Night! SATC

This evening I hit the theater with six loverly ladies to take in Sex And The City. Now, I actually barely ever saw the show and couldn't tell you that much about it apart from the cultural phenomenon parts that everyone knows. I only found it fun when in the company of others and never got into watching repeats on my own, especially not in their super abbreviated/edited TBS form. So, I had no big expectations of the movie.

I did get nervous when Darcel casually mentioned, just before the lights went down, "Oh, this is 2.5 hours by the way." Turns out that I never noticed the time passing. There was plenty of funny and the over-the-top bits were just in keeping with the style of the show. They didn't get bogged down in minute details from the show itself so could just figure out what was happening along the way without any trouble. They even did a quasi-mini-recap at the very beginning of the movie for those who weren't devotees of the show.

Some people had claimed it was unwitty, but I found that there were plenty of those moments where they made up a term or just so captured one of those moments you have with your girlfriends that you burst out laughing and poke the person sitting next to you.

Thereby entering the lexicon to be overused and abused in the coming weeks:

"I gotta get out of my Mexicoma"
"I'm an emotional cutter."

Leaving the theater in a flutter of girly laughter and good will I felt very Sex And The City, if by 'city' you mean a decidedly small town in semi-rural New England...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Hypnotic Powers Of Donna Reed

Yesterday I called Tee, mother of Fiddle and Faddle, to go over the details of my not having a car this week. Let me say that for all the numerous manifest good things about Tee and her family, organization is not one of them. Not even a little bit. So, upon mention of the possible Tuesday schedule, the conversation goes:

Tee: Oh, well, the boys have a half day anyway.
Me: Really?
Tee: Yup.
Me: You know you have to tell me this stuff, right?
Tee: YES! I just, you know, it gets lost.

OK, moving on. Having established that I have the guys for approximately five-and-a-half hours I begin reviewing my options. Usually I make some good plans for entertainment and activities, but I was swamped and the short notice and lack of a car conspired against such good planning.

In the end I decided we would just go with the flow. I had done a bunch of laundry and had a subsequent pile of ironing to get through. Fiddle and Faddle both surrounded me and the ironing board, staring in fascination.

Faddle: How do you do that?
Me: Iron?
Faddle: uh-huh
Me: Demonstration, explanation
Faddle: Can I do it?
Me: You betcha. Don't burn yourself. Here's how you don't burn yourself (demonstration). Don't drop the iron on your foot or leave it on the edge of the ironing board so that it falls on your foot. Now, go!

Faddle irons. Faddle irons well! Go, Faddle!
Fiddle irons. Fiddle irons well! Go, Fiddle!

After much fun was had with the iron, the hissing steam and the spraying nozzle I take back control of the ironing. The boys are forced into doing their homework. Faddle is a pain in the ass. He was up late the night before and is overtired. He is whining, complaining, carping and bothering his brother.

Me: Faddle, what is your dang issue?
Faddle: Idunnowhatever.
Me: Can I get you something to eat, drink, read, draw or play?
Faddle: IdunnowhateverImbored
Me: Why don't you go sit in the comfy chair and chill for a few?
Faddle: Why?
Me: Humor me. Try it. If you want we can make pudding later.
Faddle: Finewhatever

5 minutes later, Faddle is sound asleep. He sleeps for the next two hours solid. Tired much? Next, Fiddle gets a book and curls up on the coach while I work on the ironing. Soon he, too is drifting half asleep.

Who knew the soothing, hypnotic powers the hiss of the iron and the image of domestic Donna Reed style afternoons? Nice.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Weekend Improvements

Despite the whole stupid car fiasco (more on that shiz later), I had a most excellent weekend. Apart from drinks with rarely seen friends I got to enjoy a marvelous Sunday.

First up, the flea market. Oh man, who does not love a flea market? Stop, I'm sure someone out there just hates them, but me, I am not one of those people. I flea market whenever humanly possible for the sheer joy of wandering around looking at all the trash and treasures. This particular flea market is pretty sizable, takes place in a big field and offers the full range of trash and treasures.

Myself, I showed all sorts of restraint this week and did not buy a single thing. Not even the cool mirrored tray that made a nifty photo. But Darcel was on a roll. She's still a little sad that we restrained her from purchasing the giant Elvis bust/lawn ornament/monstrosity. But she did buy a cool old Replogle globe from around 1949. It's black and awesome despite some minor rust issues that will be addressed.

There are several stalls that offer cheap modern stuff from wholesale heaven, wherever that may be. Here you can obtain your lifetime supply of socks, pencils, kitchen scrubbies, and back scratchers. You don't want too many of these stalls because they're all basically the same, but no flea market is complete without them.

We are lucky enough to have several stalls that sell plants, flowers, vegetables, fruit, mostly local produce and things like home made olive oil, soaps, vinegars, salad dressings, spice mixes and more. This is where you turn the corner and see the sign that says 'Limes 5 for $1' and turn to your friends and say, "Mothereffer, please note that we need to save our lime buying for this place next week and spare ourselves the high cost of shopping at Stop & Steal." When you make as much guacamole and drink as much Corona as we do it's best to find the best lime price in town.

We also have lots of food at this flea market. Far more than I have found at most places, there is a huge amount of food available for consumption. We have your standard truck full of fried everything, sausage and peppers, slushies/snowcones and ice cream novelties, Chinese (I know!), hot dogs, and a few little lemonade stands. I could just eat my way through the whole process. But this week we restrained ourselves so that we could go to a local ice cream stand for a treat after the flea market trek.

I have no idea what makes this 'New York Style' since it tasted exactly like regular soft serve, but yum. I love ice cream. It is my favorite food ever and I could eat it every single day. Every. Single. Day. (Wait, I'm sure I've said that before, but it bears repeating because it is so true.) If every you need me to do anything for you such as, "Can you help me move my 400 pound T.V. and futon?" Just tack on the words, "And we'll stop for ice cream." and I'll follow like a sheep right after you into the manual labor.

And then, as if that weren't enough I got to get together with some of the same friends plus some others for cocktails and delicious treats followed by a Rilo Kiley concert. It was excellent. I love me some Rilo and Jenny Lewis in particular. So good.

On Fiddle

Fiddle is a sweet boy. Seriously, very, very sweet. He likes to read and nothing makes him happier than if everyone leaves him alone for an hour and lets him curl up with a book. Although we aren't related we share this in common, this need to have a book within arms reach at all times. When Fiddle reads he disappears into the book, no sound can reach him and if you want his attention you have to actually physically touch him to break that connection to the book.

Not in the least interested in athletic pursuits, Fiddle would always rather sit than run. He's actually quite coordinated and athletic, but his interest is just not there. I have to persuade or bribe him into joining in our sporty pursuits and he does not love them. He likes to play, but unlike his competitive and blood-thirsty brother, he doesn't have the killer sports instinct.

Fiddle is a little more high strung and sensitive than most kids and it can be hard for him to just go with the flow. There are moments when his need to have things a certain way, in a certain order just drive those around him crazy. We're all in a hurry all the time, racing from one appointment to the next, trying to squeeze in as much as possible for every day and sometimes that does not work for him.

I can see it start. His hands begin to clench and unclench, he looks away to the side and sort of stutters, trying to untangle his anxieties and find the words to explain himself.

He hates to lose, far more than your average bear of a kid, he gets cranked up with higher and higher levels of emotion with every turn of the card or roll of the dice. He takes Monopoly, Trouble, Mastermind and Zooreeka seriously, freaking out if he hits a run of bad luck or if someone else seems to always win.

Fiddle hates to not be perfect. Sometimes his anxiety overwhelms him and it can result in any number of dramas. Most of the time it is the form of tears. He freaks out most often while working on math - when the numbers just won't come up right. Frantically erasing until the paper tears, chucking the pencil sharpener across the room, he makes a wordless shriek. Speaking calmly to him can help, sometimes not. Sometimes the tornado of his freak-out will just spin faster and faster until he burns himself out or crosses the line so that I have to physically guide him to a chair and demand that he sit until this stops.

You can't reach him at his peak frenzy. He is untouched by words of rational, calm thought, lost in a frenzy of feeling upset, angry and a failure, all you can do is wait for him to find a way to calm himself down. Sometimes I hand him a book, sometimes he hides behind my living room curtains, usually a fifteen minute cool down works wonders.

It is a challenge to manage him sometimes and never made easier by Faddle's brotherly need to egg Fiddle on. Why are brothers like that? I never had a brother, it's a bit of a mystery to me. I so want Fiddle to relax, to know its OK to screw up. You can't hold yourself to a perfect standard, none of us can, we do our best. You can ask yourself to always do your best, and if that means that you don't quite make it to number one every time, that's OK.

We've spent a lot of time covering this issue this year. We never stopped playing board games even when they consistently resulted in Fiddle quiting or knocking over the board. He got a consequence and we tried again. And again. And again. Eventually we've seen changes. He still freaks out sometimes and still cries occasionally but he hasn't knocked over a board in months. He has been able to both win and lose games and actually enjoy the process rather than just the result.

Baby steps. Baby steps. Eventually they can get you where you need to go.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Man, there are some things that are just not worth getting mad about. But the frustration and 'why me' factor just build up and make you mad anyway. One of those things, car troubles.

My car is old, I know that. I've owned it for almost 10 years and I bought it used, it's been a fairly decent car for me so complaining isn't entirely justified, but the timing, the timing, the timing.

Yesterday I drove one town over to meet up with some friends and an out-of-town visitor. We had all gotten to take a trip together to work for Habitat in New Orleans this spring. It was wonderful to see everyone and catch up and just spend time together. While we were enjoying our beer and tasty food a huge thunderstorm rolled through. A deluge. After whiling away some extra time the storm passed and we all finally had to head out.

I drove along the back country roads, no car problem. I needed to make a quick stop to pick up a baby gift for a friend. When I turned off the car I thought it made a funny noise, but I can't say that I know much about cars. I shopped, I came out and the car went, 'click'.

CRAP! Crap, crap, crappity, crap!

I took a few deep breaths. I pleaded out loud with the car to just please start.



Several more desperate attempts and more pleading with the inanimate car brought the same results. I finally caved and called AAA. The dude arrived and we thought just a jump would make it go, but no. No, no, no, no, no. Blargh.

So now I wait. It could be anything. My wish would be for it to be the starter because I replaced that 6 weeks ago and it is under warranty. It's annoying that this happened Saturday evening because no one will look at the car until Monday, so I have days to just sit around and not even know what I'm worrying about.

I try not to worry about stuff that isn't reality yet, but you know, it's hard. You know that stuff just lingers on your mind the whole time.

So, fingers crossed. Frank and I will talk on Monday and he will reveal the horror, because you know, it's always a horror when it's a car repair....