Sunday, July 30, 2006

Happy Birthday, Wayfarer!!

Today is Wayfarer's birthday. Go on over and wish him happy!


So, here's the scene: Husband is in the basement, trying desperately to make his way through the mass and tangle of crap down there in order to make full use of the dumpster we have in our side yard. In the process, he's bringing up the occasional box and plastic storage bin for me to go through, making sure that the contents are either usable or desirable.

One of those bins contained a number of books; old Calvin and Hobbes and Far Sides, a bunch of Stephen King, three years worth of high school yearbooks, and, to my amazement, my baby book.

For those of you who may not know, I am not on speaking terms with my biological parents and haven't been for going on eight years now. It's best for all involved, TRUST me - you wouldn't believe half the stories I could tell you. Anyway, as a result, I have no access to anything relating to my childhood; no pictures, no stories, no scrapbooks. Finding this baby book, even with only two or three pages filled out, was a bit of a shock; I didn't remember having it and was surprised to find that I'd ever been given it in the first place.

ANYWAY, I've been thinking about trying to start a genealogy to see how far back into Scotland I can go, and I thought maybe, just maybe, this book might help me in finding out the names of my great-grandparents. No such luck, though. What I DID find out is that, on January 19th of 1969, I was baptized in St. Paul's church by one Father John Goeghan. Remember him? The serial-offender, pedophile priest who was the blasting cap that set off the whole "pedophile priest scandal" in Massachusetts, and eventually, the entire country and who was eventually murdered in prison by his cell mate?

I've gotta tell you, I'm a little freaked out by that newly-discovered fact.

Una Tarde en el Lago


The family went to a state park lake beach yesterday with Bowyer and his brood. We arrived fairly soon after the place opened, found ourselves a couple of picnic tables in the shade of the trees and staked out a claim on the rough, pebbly lake beach. The water was warm, the sun was shining and we had an all-around wonderful time.

The point of my writing this, though - and the reason for the title and opening statement of this post - is that, by a WIDE margin, the beach area was populated by non-English speaking Hispanics and, for the first time in the 20 or so years I've been going to this particular state park, I've never experienced anything quite like it.

You need to understand that we live in New England. You know, that chunk of the U.S. where a tiny boat filled entirely with white people ran aground in 1620 and, after extracting whatever usefulness they could from the current darker-skinned residents, began a long and some may say gleefully enthusiastic effort, picked up by generations after them, of running their neighbors out of town? Yeah, well, for pretty much my whole life - which has been lived entirely in New England, I should add - I've been surrounded with people who look and speak just like me. I mean, sure; I had classmates of Italian or Russian descent, and I remember, growing up, that my father's auto repair shop was visited by vendors who spoke with thick German or Italian accents, but by and large there just hasn't been a whole lot of ethnic, cultural or linguistic diversity in this part of the country. Until now.

Yesterday, we heard the usual sounds of families at the beach: coolers were rolled down the sidewalks to the picnic tables, food sizzled on charcoal fires, children made a racket laughing and splashing while parents called at them to be mindful of their younger siblings or hollered at them to come to eat. There were a lot of not-so-subtle differences in this atmosphere, though: the scents coming from the grills told us that the food cooking on them wasn't hamburgers or hotdogs, the parents called to children named Maria and Ernesto in a language I had to call back to high school Spanish classes to try to comprehend, the music coming from the portable stereos had a decidedly Latin flavor. As we were leaving, we were approached by a man who wanted our spot, but he could barely make himself understood and I got most of his meaning through his gestures and the longing look he shot in the direction of the table we were clearing.

Now, I should say that I wasn't particularly bothered by this shift in demographics at the lake; I wasn't feeling invaded or offended, though I could begin to understand how some people may experience those unpleasant emotions. I have often been bothered by the LACK of diversity in my home state and am pleased that my children are growing up alongside children whose lives and backgrounds are differed from their own. I did start thinking, though, about the current uproar about immigration (legal and otherwise). I also started thinking about how unwilling some of these new arrivals seem to be to learn English and participate in their local New England culture. I wonder, as an educator, how the children fare in their classes - particularly their English classes - when their home life is conducted in another language. And I worry about the prejudice and lack of acceptance these people face in this area which has been so predominantly white, Anglo Christian for going on 386 years.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

More "Five Things"

Don't ask me why, but I kind of like doing these...

note; my answers are given in no particular order...

Five things you have but you do not want

1) a cluttered, stinky basement
2) arthritis
3) an unfinished house
4) spiders, fruit flies, mosquitoes
5) weak finger nails

Five things you want but you do not have

1) New furniture
2) a stove (oh, hell - a finished house!)
3) thighs that don't rub together
4) a winning lottery ticket
5) a good teaching job

Five things you would like to know more about

1) how to achieve and maintain inner balance
2) how to write - and teach - well
3) how to sew
4) how to be patient with growing girls (hello? Attitude!)
5) how to be as healthy as I can possibly be

Five important lessons you have learned

1) it's important to be honest
2) it's easier to be kind than to be not
3) family and friends are important, and worth the effort it takes to maintain them
4) if you can't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else
5) communication is key

Five of your favorite memories

1) my wedding day
2) my daughters' birthdays
3) teaching summer school with Bowyer
4) Bermuda, 1994
5) christmas mornings with the girls

Five things you would like to forget

1) all of the negative stuff I believed about myself growing up
2) nagging fears of something horrible happening to people I love
3) times I acted selfishly or rudely
4) most of the first half of my teaching internship
5) how to sabotage myself

Five things you are looking forward to

1) growing old with my husband
2) going to England, Ireland and Scotland
3) watching my babies grow, graduate, marry, and have babies of their own
4) deepening friendships with the people who matter
5) pretty much all of it!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Finding Nemo

To go along with the whole movie theme - my favorite scene from Finding Nemo. Check out the lobster toward the end...


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Movies I Can Watch Over and Over (with quotes!) (and LINKS!!)

These are just a few off the top of my head (inspired because TNT is playing The Fugitive tonight) and are presented to you in no particular order...

-The Fugitive

Cosmo: Uh, "Richard David Kimble, vascular surgeon..." what the hell is that?
Poole: Somebody that makes more money than you.


Phillipe: If you lay one hand on her you will find it on the ground next to your head.

-The Hunt for Red October

Navigator: What's the matter Commander? You don't like flying, huh? Aw, this is nothing! You should've been with us five, six months ago! Whoa! You talk about puke! We ran into a hailstorm over the Sea of Japan. Everybody's retching their guts out! The pilot shot his lunch all over the windshield, and I barfed on the radio! And it wasn't that lightweight stuff either, it was that chunky industrial weight puke! Here, want a bite?


Stephen: In order to find his equal, an Irishman is FORCED to talk to God. Yes, Father! The Almighty says "don't change the subject, just answer the fookin' question!


Doc Holiday (pretty much every scene he's in is amazing): It appears my hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Apollo 13

Grandma Lovell: Don't you worry. If they could get a washing machine to fly, my Jimmy could land it.

-Jerry Maguire

Rod: I feel for you, man. But a real man wouldn't shoplift the pootie from a single mom.
Jerry: I didn't shoplift the pootie.
[Rod gives him a long Look]
Jerry: All right. I shoplifted the pootie.

There are a lot of others that I love to watch again and again, though some of them, I've found, don't really have a lot of good, catchy quotes.

What are YOUR favorite movies?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


We just got home from taking the girls to see Akeelah and the Bee. If you haven't seen this movie, go rent it. Now.

Both Husband and I cried. My girls, ages nine and seven, were absolutely enthralled. Beanie was LITERALLY on the edge of her seat at the end. Literally. On the way out of the theater (we got to see it on a big screen at our local university), she turned to me and said "Mommy, I've REALLY gotta pee, but I didn't want to miss ANY of that movie!" This, coming from a child who, not too long ago, told me that she only liked "little kid" films.

I'm going to buy the DVD tomorrow. It's a movie I want my kids to see again and again.

Monday, July 17, 2006

What Happens in Vegas....

Husband's best friend and fraternity brother, we'll call him Dudley*, is getting married!

After a long and painful divorce from the mother of his two nearly grown sons - instigated by her, by the way - Dudley has done what he never thought he'd be able to do. The boy has fallen in love again. His fiancee, we'll call her Squeaky*, is lovely; funny, smart, willing and eager for adventures. They came up in March to visit us and we all went snow tubing. We had a lovely time getting to know Squeaky, and it will be wonderful to welcome her into the family.

The wedding is going to happen in March in Vegas. I've never been to Vegas, and never really thought I would ever go. Husband is going to be standing up for Dudley, though, so we're arranging sleepovers for the girls, who are staying in New England while we're gone, checking out flight information and wondering where the hell we should stay amidst all that neon.

**Okay, even though I fully admit to being lousy at making up pseudonyms, I refuse to claim responsibility for these - when I asked Dudley if I could blog about his life and he said I could, I asked him what he wanted to be called. He came up with the names, which are the names of their respective cats. I just wanted you to know...

Mostly Moved In!

We began the process of moving into the new living room this weekend!!

The couch and chair are in here, and all the a/v equipment is set up on the stand that was holding the stereo up off my bedroom floor because we decided to get rid of the huge, warping, lopsided entertainment cabinet (Husband and his Twin walked the thing to the end of the driveway, where we put a big "FREE" sign on it. Someone in an SUV took it away yesterday afternoon). I can't actually say we're "settled" into the room yet - it still looks unfinished - but that will be remedied when I hang a picture or two, when the speaker wires actually have speakers hooked to them and are no longer just dangling from holes in the wall, and when the plants have returned from their summer vacations in the front yards - but we're IN!

Now begins the work of ripping the floor out of the old living room. The Brit, who built the addition and installed the wood floor in the two new rooms, told me that if I augment the supply of leftover wood with about three more boxes, he can replace the floor in the old living room, which is SORELY in need of replacing. His demolition guy costs $35 an hour. I've got two men and a couple of crow bars right here, so we'll handle the demo work. Later this morning, I need to stroll across the street to where the Brit is building a ginormous addition on the neighbors' house to see when he'll be available to bang in the rest of my downstairs.

I'm sorry I don't have any pictures yet - we blew our batteries at the wedding and I can't find the battery recharger. As soon as I have photos, though, I'll post them.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Wedding Weekend

Husband's cousin was wedded on Saturday, and both Punkin' Pie and Beanie were flower girls.

It was a lovely wedding held at the seaside. The bride was radiant, the groom was handsome and composed, and everything went off without any major hitches. The girls handled themselves very well and, next to the bride, were the center of attention - both because they are excruciatingly cute and because they were the only small people in attendance. I was very, very proud of them.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Yet Another Casualty

Husband discovered this morning, when he tried to take a shower, that we have suffered another loss from the lightning strike yesterday afternoon. It looks as though the bolt and ensuing power spike scrambled the circuit board of our hot water heater.

I'm calling the homeowner's insurance people today in the hopes that I can file a claim. Between the TiVo, the garage door opener and the boiler, we're WAY past our deductable.

Are lightning strkies considered "acts of God"?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


It seems that the lightning strike of earlier today zorched my TiVo!

I am distraught!

I am bereft!

I am a mild state of panic! (okay, so maybe not-so-mild)

Husband came home from work this evening and tried to fix the thing, but found that he couldn't. He went immediately on eBay and bought a new power supply - it should come on Friday. If that doesn't fix the problem, we will go online Friday afternoon and buy a new TiVo box. We agreed, two weeks after we got the box many, many years ago, that if anything ever happened to it, we would IMMEDIATELY buy a new one.

Yes, it's that important.

oh, yeah - the lightning also fried my garage door opener, but do I care about that?! No! It's all about the TiVo, People!

Grace's Lilies

A lovely reminder of my great-gramma Grace, growing in my own back yard.

All Charged Up

We had some really good thunderstorms rumble through our neighborhood this morning. I knew they were coming - I'd flipped on the Weather Channel while crunching down my bowl of Special K and saw an ugly red and green line trooping through my state on its way to my little corner of it - and Husband went across the street to warn the men working on our neighbors' roof that they may want to consider taking a break in about an hour or so.

They are grateful he did.

The storm started much like they all do; the air got thick, the light turned an alarming steel-grey color, and rumbling could be heard in the distance. Then the distance wasn't so distant anymore. I was in the midst of an IM conversation with Kizz about how sad I am that Vanx won't be blogging anymore when a lightning strike hit my yard. I felt (and tasted - weird) the thing and the light and sound were coincidental and instantaneous. I jumped and gasped, the girls - who were sitting beside me on the couch - both screamed.

I managed to recover the situation (and not allow a fear of thunderstorms to take hold in my girls) by jumping up and clapping. I was geninely excited, so it wasn't artificial attempt to soothe the girls and they knew it. I reminded them that we were all safe - then opened the garage door to let all the cats in to show them that THEY were all safe. Of course, this abruptly ended my conversation with Kizz as my entire house - and, I'm betting, my entire neighborhood - were quite without power.

It turns out that the lightning did not strike in my actual yard, but it did hit the pole that delivers power to my actual house. Observe:

See those two top wires? Both of them lead directly into my house.


Motive and Opportunity

So, here's the scene. It's 8:15 or so in the morning, and I'm helping Beanie put butter on her English muffin. As we're chit-chatting and I'm speading, I hear something small drop to the floor. I look down to see Beanie's cutie little face smiling sheepishly up at me, and a red M&M rocking to rest by her feet.

"Are you eating M&Ms?" I ask.

"Um....well....kinda," she replies.

I eye the jar of M&Ms, just within her reach, and ask "when did you get a chance to steal M&Ms?"

"Well, Daddy went outside to meet the counter guy and, well, I only took a few."

She's SUCH my child: she saw her opening, and by God, she TOOK it!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Hello Muddah...

The Divine MsP sent her daughters, ages 12 and 8, to summer camp. She's been suffering withdrawal symptoms and, just to make the experience that much better, she received this letter from the 8 year old in the mail today:

Dear Mommy and Daddy,
I want to come home, I miss home, I miss you and Shem (editor's note - Shem is the dog). I hate first session.
Your miserable daughter, Ama

I'm sorry for the baby, and sorrier for MsP, because I can't imagine how torn she must be between "tough it out" and "give me my baby back," but it was the "your miserable daughter" part that sent me over the edge. My GOODNESS does the child have a flair for the dramatic!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Who Knew?

We had a dumpster delivered the other morning. At first, I didn't want it; I didn't think we'd be ready to have the thing - motivation for household chores in our place is often lacking during the summer months - and I wasn't sure that we'd be able to get rid of enough to make having a dumpster worth the cost.

I've since reconsidered.

I cleaned out the garage yesterday while Husband disassembled the last of the old kitchen cabinets and threw away all the cardboard from the boxes of flooring that were installed a few weeks ago. I am astounded by how good it feels to have a clean garage!! Everything is where it's supposed to be; we hung up the shovels and miscellanea, we rolled an old baby carriage and shop vac to the end of the driveway with "free" signs on them - and they're both gone today - and I brushed out all the cobwebs and swept the floor - it was Armageddon for spiders in my garage, I'll tell you!

This morning, after I got back from teaching my fitness classes, I hooked up the NEW shop vac (a much smaller, quieter, more manageable beastie for cleaning my car) and, well, cleaned my car. In a few minutes, I'm going to set the girls outside with buckets and brushes and let them soap the thing up for me. While I did that, Husband figured out what was ailing the lawn mower and hacked back a portion of the yard before he needed a break - it's hard work (the lawn hasn't been mown all season) and it's hot outide. The rest of my not-so-exciting-but-truly-satisfying Sunday will include finishing the laundry, culling out some dumpster-foddeer from the basement,and marinating chicken for dinner.

Aren't you glad you stopped by?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Five Things..

Tagged. I'm "it."

Five things I love:

(I'm kind of cheating on most of them, because they are really more than one item, and recognize that parts of my lists may change somewhat depending on what's going on in my life):

- My family. My husband is wonderful - funny, thoughtful, kind and, well, mine. My children and healthy and sweet and are growing into lovely human beings. I have a sister who I don't get to see very often, but whom I care for very deeply. I also have an adopted mom whom I love profoundly, and grandparents who give me at least as much joy as they claim we give to them. I am blessed.

-My friends. I judge the quality of my life, and my self-esteem, by the people who call me friend, and I've got some doozies. WeedWoman, Kizz, Bowyer, Wayfarer, Ms.P, NHFalcon, CT, Viburnum and Dragonfly, and a bunch who I don't have pseudonyms for. Each and every one of them would get in their car at two a.m. if I needed them, and I live my life in an effort to be worthy of their friendship.

-Good books; and by this I mean REALLY good books - the kind of books you can't put down, the kind that you can't wait to turn the next page, and you're sorry when it's over, the kind that stay in your consciousness long after the back cover has been closed. Reading is one of the greatest joys in life.

-Summer fruit. Strawberries, cold and fresh with just a tiny bit of sugar sprinkled over them, covering a big hunk of angel food cake. Watermelon, straight up. Blueberries baked into the quick bread recipe given to me by my aforementioned grandmother. Peaches, warm off the windowsill and so juicy I need to eat them with a tea towel under my chin. Mmmmmmm.

-The comforts of modern life. I love my car, my iPod, my microwave, my laptop, my gizzy. I love the ease with which modern communication takes place, and am grateful that I am fortunate enough, in this lifetime, to have easy access to all those wonderful things.

Five things I hate:

-Uncooperative - or incompetent - people. Don't put me on hold and leave me there, hoping I'll hang up and thereby absolve you of having to do your job. Don't roll your eyes when I come to your check out line; don't get cranky about having to do the job you're being paid to do. Is it so difficult to try to infuse a little good humor into your work? I'm really a very nice person, and will be exceedingly kind to you if you'll just try to be kind to me.

-Right hand turns from the left hand lane, and other examples of obnoxious driving. I've probably got my kids in the car, and it's horrifying to me that I could be the most attentive, competent driver that ever existed and still be victim to others' supidity.

-Thoughtlessness. People who cut into waiting lines. People who are rude to bank tellers, waitresses, and other service people. People who throw trash and cigarrettes out the windows of their cars. People who move through their whole lives not realizing that there are other creatures on their plane of existance.

-The squeek and screech of styrofoam.

-Feeling helpless. I get frustrated when things don't work and I don't understand why (like when my keyboard freezes up or I lose communication with my wireless internet or my car makes alarming noises). I hate feeling like there's nothing I can do to help the causes I feel strongly about. I don't like it when I work myself up into such a state about my house or my work or whatever - where I feel like I should be doing a better job of whatever it is that I'm supposed to be doing - that I end up spinning in little circles and accomplishing nothing. I am my own worst enemy.

Now, I'm not crazy about tagging. Feel free to post your own top five list, or to leave it in the comments. I'm curious about what makes you happy to be alive, and about what makes you want to choke someone to death.

Monday, July 03, 2006



My husband installed and connected the oven yesterday, and we turned it on this afternoon to heat up a pizza! (I know, I know, not the FIRST thing I wanted to do with my oven, but still!) I'm going to bake a pan of brownies after dinner.

I'm a little miffed that my oven is connected on what has turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year thus far, but I really don't care; I'm back to baking, People! My world is coming back together!!