Monday, March 31, 2008

Only kidding!

The problem with blogging on such a downer and then not posting again for a couple of weeks is that, I fear, you think I'm still in that spot.

I'm not.

I'm deeper into living here. I am more involved, more committed, more simply here.

I had a week off with Dave and Lily -- curse boarding school vacation with its three weeks off! It may be good for the kids who want to go home to China, but it was not a good thing for our family. The first week Lily did an art/mask camp at school. The second she and Dave went to Long Island to visit Grandma. The third we hung around here, which wasn't bad, and on that Wednesday the 19th went to the Cape for a few days, by way of a day in Boston.

We spent most of the day at the Boston science museum, and while it was a good visit overall, there were lots of problems. Small, niggly problems, like when we parked the car in the museum's lot, there were no signs anywhere that said what floor we were on or what section of the lot. In retrospect it wasn't a big deal because the floor number was on the door and the elevator, albeit at the other end of the lot, and the lot is actually quite small, compared to some of those big New York City lots. But I felt disoriented before I even got into the museum.

Inside the museum many of the buttons on the displays didn't work, or the gears jammed, stuff like that. At $20 a person you expect the buttons to work -- all of them. The little area dedicated to outer space seemed quaint compared to the natural history museum, but you can't blame them for that. The Rose Planetarium and that whole display is extraordinary. The Omni Theater was fun, though. We saw the Alps movie, which was quite intense. I've never been there and the movie really did make me feel like I was on a plane flying around the mountains. Yikes!

As for the food, hosted by Wolfgang Puck, it was overpriced and not very good. At 11:30 the guy gave the last of the mac and cheese to the person ahead of me and told me it would be 10 minutes before the next vat was ready. That just seems sloppy and unprofessional--even I know they should have bunches of it made up and ready to go at lunchtime. They haven't learned what the Museum of Natural History knows, that the food should be good and not too expensive. That museum has an amazing cafeteria and while it does add up, it's hugely varied and has a wide price-range. Note to self: Buy lunch before going to the museum. Eat it there, though, overlooking the river. Nice view.

We hit the gift shop just before closing and Lily, bless her, used half of her money on a gift for the year-old baby we were going to see on Friday. She got some polished stones, and that was cool because another customer overheard us and she was a mineral expert and told us all about what we were seeing and what she usually gets new babies (rose quartz).

The sign on the display said the two bags of polished stones were $2.99 and $5.99 and the amethyst crystals were $6.99. Mixed in with those crystals were another kind, I forget what, and Lily got one of those and I got an amethyst. But the cashier said that her crystal was $10.99. I protested, pointing out the sign, and she said she didn't know about that but the crystal was #10.99. I said, Okay, I'll pay it, but I'm very disappointed in my visit today and complained about the buttons being broken and the food being rotten. And now this bait and switch sign. And she gave it to me for the cheaper price. I was surprised, and said, you don't have to do that, it's okay. But she did and I accepted it.

Then we went on to the Cape in the blinding rain. It's really odd to be on I-93 over there, the roads that were created by the Big Dig. That all happened after I moved away and it's a huge project and I have no idea how to get anywhere any more. Doesn't help speed up traffic on a rainy evening rush hour, but perhaps that'd be too much to ask.

We drove to my friend Clara, an old friend from high school whom I haven't seen in 30 years. She and her husband live in a gorgeous house on a little pond in Woods Hole, just a short walk from town. On Thursday we visited our old family friends Jos and Skid, who gave us lunch and a chocolate Easter bunny for Lily. Then we walked on the beach but it was cold and windy, and drove around looking for osprey. They weren't back yet, but Jos was expecting them any minute. We ended up at a fish hatchery though and they had great blue herons who were trying to figure out how to get through to the trout beneath the netting. Gorgeous.

On Friday we took the boat to Martha's Vineyard and had brunch at the Black Dog with my friend Molly from Brooklyn who lives there permanently now. It was a cold choppy crossing but lovely. I used to visit Clara in Woods Hole, where she grew up, so it was odd and fun to kind of be there again. Lots of these returns to old haunts, lately, now that we've moved back to my roots.

Easter weekend
Back home, we picked up Ruth, visiting from Manhattan, at the Amherst Amtrak station and drove over to the Quabbin Reservoir, which was really neat. I haven't been there in a year--here's my blog from then.

On Sunday our D&D friends from Amherst came over for egg dyeing and egg hunts and a rousing game of something called Fluxx, which was wonderful and amazing. I loved it. I really am a country girl at heart; I always wanted to sit around in the evening playing cards.

Spelling Bee
This was cool. Last Wednesday the Northampton Educational Foundation, which among other things gives small grants to teachers and others in the public schools, held their 8th annual spelling bee fundraiser. Our building hosted a team, three people, and they won their first round but lost the second. The first round was so intense, back and forth, back and forth between their team and the defending champs, over and over, going to the list of reserve words. And my team won. It was the match of the evening. When they lost in the semi's they got a huge round of applause, appreciation for the show they'd put on a few minutes earlier.

This was a riot, a real small-town thing. I ran into a woman I'd had an information interview with last year and she asked me to read grants for the NEF. I met the mother of a boy Lily had carpooled with last summer, who was really nice. I'd always liked the father but never met the mom. And they introduced me to a woman who lives in nearby Laurel Park and who has a nine-year-old son and knows other kids that age. So it was a productive evening.

The small-town thing still strikes me. I was so afraid of lines to get into this bee, and the food lines would be too long and the food would be sold out and Lily would go hungry. But it was easy as pie, no crowds, just lots of friendly people. I was so afraid of traffic to the parade on Sunday (see below) and not getting a seat. Yes the parking was gone and we had to walk in a mile. But we got a seat right at the edge of the route.

The big event this weekend was the St Patrick's Day Parade, held now so as not to conflict with Easter festivities. Turned out to be a three-hour affair, with a dozen towns participating, and every town had their own parade committee, citizen awardees, mayor, police department, fire department, high school marching band, Colleens (beauty pageant winners) and various odds and ends of groups and businesses. Just wait for the UMass marching band! Dave and I kept telling ourselves. I think I see it! one of us would shout as the line stretched past us. Finally, at about 2:45, I asked a parade organizer who said it was long gone, the first band of the entire thing. Jeesh!

The funnest part was hanging around the mall parking lot, which was serving as a staging area. Everywhere you looked you'd see people walking around in military drag or band uniform, or my faves, the kilts of the bag pipe brigades. There were lots of those. It started at noon and some of these guys weren't even dressed then, and I was thinking, hurry up! it's going to start! you'll be late! But as it went on and on and on, I realized, they could sleep for the first two hours and then get dressed and they still wouldn't be late. At least we were outside all day on a gorgeous, if a bit cold, day.

More Nay-Chuh
The real news is that spring is making its way around that corner and the morning explodes in bird song now. I went to get the paper (we get the Times and Globe delivered on Sunday) and everyone was just singing their little hearts out. Welcome back, everyone! I shouted. We missed you! Glad you are here!

Yesterday morning I saw movement at this huge stump behind our house, and I called for Dave. We both stared as our pileated woodpecker chomped away at the stump for a bit. He was so huge we both first thought he was a pheasant or wild turkey. He went into a tree and then another, and eventually flew away. Sure was lovely. And huge. We hear woodpeckers every day but I don't know what kind.

Last week Dave said, First chipmunk! They hibernate, and that's the first one! as we watched one scamper across our deck. I am waiting for the bears but I don't think they'll come around just yet. It's still too cold. Lily's friend Ruth found a robin on Saturday in our yard but it was contorted, obviously had a broken wing. Lily was very upset. We agreed that death sucks. And yes, it was dead by Sunday morning. At least the cat didn't get it.

The other great news is that when Ruth, Lily's friend, was over, Lily went outside. This is huge news. She went outside without our telling her to, and without being with us. Ruth really wanted to go outside so I suggested they bring some plastic animals out and play with them. A little later Dave said, Oh my god! Lily is in the backyard! they were playing lost. Then they practiced crossing over the brook a bunch of times, across logs laying across it. I guess there's a little waterfall upstream, Dave says. It'll be dried up by the summer but for now it's flowing and pretty.

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