Tuesday, May 27, 2008

PS photo

This is Lily and Ruth yesterday. Note the "I Heart NY" t-shirt. This was Lily's FIRST car wash! Do you remember your first?

Oh, she corrected me; it's her first in Massachusetts. I gather she used to help her uncle wash his car on Long Island. But in Brooklyn we always just paid the $8 to go through the wash. It was quicker and cleaner, especially the inside. And of course, entertaining.

Monday, May 26, 2008


You must watch these two videos.

This woman was profiled in the Times yesterday. Jill Bolte Taylor. Extraordinary story and speaker.

And this one is the Onion at its hilarious most cynical and real self.

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

Memorable Memorial Day

Not really so memorable, just calm, relaxing, peaceful, productive. Work very kindly gave us Friday as an extra bonus, so I've been off for four whole days, a kind of mini vacation. What a luxury. It's a big change to work five days a week; even after a year I'm not used to it. Plus this weekend the weather was perfect the entire time. What more could you ask for?

When we were in Brooklyn last weekend the room we stayed in was very dark and we all slept a lot longer than we usually do -- it's a cacophony here, what with all the birds, although Brooklyn birds certainly do chirp a lot, too. Margaret our host happened to mention her room-darkening shades, which I sprung for in Cambridge but haven't had since, for some reason. I love them. As soon as we got home Dave got them for our three big windows and for Lily's skylight. It makes a difference.

Let's see -- Friday was Grandparents Day at Bement so my mom and Dave's showed up for Lily and had a great day, it sounds like. I told my mother that even as recent as a month ago Lily said she'd move back to Brooklyn tomorrow if she could. When she was at school, my mom talked briefly to the amazing Theresa Mullens, Lily's teacher, who has been saying all year that we have really thrown a lot at Lily this year, that we are really asking a great deal from her, in terms of moving here and then moving again, and two new schools, and all that.

She told this to my mom, too, and told her the story of Lily's first day: Lily saying to the class, "I was not consulted about moving to Hicksville" or some such word. Theresa said she had to leave the room to avoid cracking up in front of Lily and embarrassing her. My mom kinda got it, I think, how huge a change this has been for Lily, how lonely she's been for much of it, how much she misses her friends, and our apartment, and Brooklyn in general, and how she's had to adjust to a considerably new way of life here (maybe it's good we didn't go to Montreal).

Anyway, my mom asked Lily if she would move back to Brooklyn, and Lily said, she'd live one month here and one month there. And then she said, two months here. And then she said, what was it, no, she wouldn't. I think it's going to be okay. But it's been painful for her, I know.

She's so grown up now, so leggy and tall and pretty and stylish, so polite, and apologetic if she acts up or does something annoying. She's learned so much in school, academically and otherwise. I am so proud of her! And I hope she never tires of sitting in my lap.

While they were at Bement, Dave and I went for an extra-long hike around the Fitz Lake conservation area, the land behind our house. I'd never seen the meadow so we walked over to it. We saw a lot of scat, including some the Internet suggests was coyote, and some quite fresh moose, which is a bit more preferable than bear. We saw two snakes, one ribbon and maybe a garter. Using his memory and a book Dave was identifying wildflowers all over the place. We saw a lot of jack-in-the-pulpit, and we even have some right outside our kitchen window. We saw ladyslippers today, incidentally. Also bluets, star flowers, wild geranium, wild lilies of the valley, graywing, and lots of stuff I don't remember. Fun!

Saturday we went with the grandmas to the Paradise City Arts Festival, a biannual event that people all over the east coast look forward to. Then they took off and we went home and snoozed some more, me and Lily, and then showed Lily Groundhog Day, which she liked, and got: "Oh, he doesn't know how to love." BTW, I've discovered the trick to getting your kid to eat: Use those dinner trays with the compartments. She had rice in one, chicken in another, asparagus in a third, and when I said, there's nothing for the fourth little one, she said, I'll have apple. She ate it all, too. Yikes!

Sunday was busy. In the morning I went to the Y with Lily. She went into childcare, which she really likes, and I did my weights. Back home I showered and we ate lunch and rode our bikes to a nearby entrance to the conservation area. We rode over to the nearby Moose Lodge (no shit) where we met about 25 other people to hear our guide talk about wildflowers.

Lily didn't last too long but I'm really happy she wanted to go in the first place and she really wanted to ride bikes over there. I was nervous about riding on the very busy King Street but I talked to a friend who said what worked with her son was that he rode in between her and her husband and they played follow the leader. So we did that. Lily's pretty slow, and it was just me and her coming back, as we left early. But she did great! She's going to be a great bike rider. She said today, "I'm not so much of a runner, I'm more of a bike rider." I just love that she's trying new things and enjoying them. Then we went to Amherst for a friend's graduation from UMass bbq.

Today Dave and I cleaned house while Lily was at school (for a Memorial Day thing) and in the afternoon we hiked up Sugarloaf with her friend Ruth. That's the mountain in south Deerfield, not far from her school. The weather was gorgeous and we had lunch on the top, sitting on big piles of igneous rock in the sun, with the wind really strong. Dave was admiring the trees, how strong they were, how they just swayed in the gusts. "Think you could do that?" he asked me. "Just stand there swaying in the wind, for hours? If your ankles were buried?" Naw.

The view is of the whole valley -- this is where we went with Jenna and Harry after we had first moved here and it was so warm that January. Lovely! On the way home of course we had the required ice cream, and after we came home Dave and I snoozed on the lounge chairs on the screened-in porch while the kids played.

But then they were hot and I was feel re-energized, so I got them to wash my car. They started on the Subaru but petered out pretty quickly. I didn't get to the gerbils -- boy do they need cleaning -- but I washed my bathrooms today, did lots of laundry, and changed our sheets. Dave vaccuumed, and we had Ruth and her mom for a bbq. I actually, finally, made our family recipe for potato salad. And Dave liked it! All these years I thought he'd hate it because it has mayo and pickles. Go figure.

So now it's bedtime. Watch out for those suicidal robins -- anyone else have those? They fly right in front of my car, right at engine level. Oh, saw a rabbit tear off across King Street, was it yesterday? Really fast! She made it. Sat there looking at my car drive away.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Back from NYC

Nice to be there this week and see some folks. We drove down Friday night in pouring rain and traffic -- yours truly drove the whole way, and felt like a Hick with a capital H. I have forgotten how to drive in the city, but my friend Kim says I should keep doing it to keep up my skills. Ha.

At any rate, many potholes later and a couple of very close calls where I was on the triangle between the highway and the turn-off ramp, we got to Margaret's very comfy house and all went to sleep immediately. Dave went off to the theater with David F, lucky dog; I had brunch with Kim and then hung with Margaret, and Lily spent the day with Georgia-Rae and her mom at PS 261's talent show. I made it over there a lot later in the afternoon and had a great time chatting and saying hi to old friends, parents of classmates, the amazing principal, etc. The talent show was also really special. And it all really struck me as to how WHITE our lives are here in western Massachusetts. Very.

Saturday night I slept better than I've slept in a long time, surprisingly. She has shutters on the windows and even though the room is on the street I didn't hear any noise. It was lovely to sleep until 8am, which I never ever get to do. And on Sunday we went to a luncheon in honor of Dave's cousin, who was being feted by her temple. The food was surprisingly good -- excellent Middle Eastern-- and I had a great time belting out American Pie with a crowd of 40- and 50ish folks.

Got back to Dave's mom's around 5, and Lily went to her room and turned on her TV and I went to my room and turned on ours -- god I love cable -- and dozed while watching Law and Order reruns. God there is a LOT of awful violence on TV. Reality forensic shows, and one shows the dead woman's actual skull. Another is a competition between logging companies in Oregon. Weird stuff.

Then on Monday Lily and I took the train into the city and went to the natural history museum for the afternoon. That was a gas. It feels great to be back at some of these places. I can either pretend I was a tourist or a native; I guess I'm both, at this point. (I was stopped in the subway by real tourists trying to find their way to the World Trade Center; they asked if I lived here and I hesitated. But WTC I can do from Columbus Circle. From where we were standing, A to Chambers.) We saw the new exhibit on the horse, which I noticed had nothing about black cowboys (did I miss something?) and said in one place that horses had been domesticated for at least 6,000 years and in another, 5,000.

But I also was a bit cranky about the Discovery room, which wasn't open when the sign said it would be, until I turned back and read it more closely and realized it had summer and winter hours. So maybe I read the horse thing wrong. It's possible.

Then we went to the Katharsis Theater Company's benefit and saw Ruth and Emily, which was lovely, along with some of the theater folks I knew back in the day. And dear Henry, of course. We ducked out at 8pm and Dave drove us all home -- we picked up his mom for the week, so she came with us. Lily and I slept the whole way but I am still zonked, head-achey, recovering from being in NYC and what an emotional thing that can be at times. So I took a soak tonight in the tub and am going to bed.

There you go, Mom, there's my report!

I'll try to post weekly. hahaha.

birds, trees, and electricity

Birds -- the thrush -- a thrush; any thrush -- is back and all is well with the world again. We had a blue jay who made a nest at about 5 feet off the ground and the couple was hanging out all April. Now they're gone and we don't know if it's to raise their fledglings or an evil cat got them. It's really wicked noisy out there these mornings, and the light is so bright so early I've been waking up at 5, 5:30.

Trees -- a week ago we could still see well into the forest. Now, nothing. There's a wall of green that starts at the end of our yard behind the kitchen. It was even denser and greener tonight than it was on Friday morning -- We were in NYC all weekend and came back late last night. More about that in a minute.

Dave was learning to split the pear chunks he'd taken down a few weeks ago. And we are down a couple of hemlocks in the front yard because we came home a couple of rainy Saturday afternoons ago (first Saturday in May, it was) all excited to watch a family movie with popcorn and we didn't have half our electric, including our heat. The house was still in the 60s so it was fine, and of course we turned up the pellet stoves to take the edge off.

It seems your house, or at least my house, has at least two legs of electric coming in from the street. Today it has to be encased in conduit but not 30 years ago, when this place was built. One of the legs deteriorated, natch, and we faced the prospect of a backhoe in our front yard and them having to cut across our driveway, which the electric crosses on its way to the box on the street.

Long story short, we had half electric from Saturday afternoon through Tuesday morning and ended up with about 10 guys at the place on Tuesday, Dave said: the electrician we hired, Dig Save, who was marking up the yard with all our buried stuff, the backhoe guy, the National Grid guy, and who knows who else. The backhoe made its way across the lawn to the edge of the house, taking out the smallish (and diseased) hemlocks on the way, dug for about three feet, and found the break. The National Grid guy came back to check up on stuff even though he didn't have to, took one look and said, I'll fix that, even though he's not supposed to, and it was all over in a matter of minutes.

The wife (that would be me) got a little anxious that this cable just buried in the ground without its conduit will just rot again, and shouldn't they just finish the job? And everyone agree not to bother, bury it all up now and if it breaks again they'll come back. What do I know.

At any rate we have electric now. And a good story, and Dave had a lot of fun with all the guys. It was a bash -- party at the new guy's house! Everyone piled on.