Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ride Captain Ride

Classic literary characters meet the 21st centuary:
N (sword in hand, dressed in his red bathrobe): "I'm Captain Hook and I'm going to steal the remote from Captain Ahab!"

song: Ride Captain Ride • artist: Blues Image

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Parenting is ...

wondering why "last one out of the car closes the door!" is an unreasonable request.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Ever wonder how so many cobwebs got into the attic?
Let me tell you a little story.
Once upon a time there were two adorable, if not at times demanding, identical twin boys aged five.
One morning their mother, in an effort to both entertain and contain them, suggested they take a tubby. No tubbies had been taken for a while (the twins preferred showers) but the mother had dutifully cleaned the bathtub only the week previous so as to be ready for anything.
The tub was drawn, the proper temperature achieved and the requisite tubby toys deposited into the mix. The mother breathed a sigh of relief and went off to fix her breakfast (it was 10 AM and she'd been up since just after 7). Alas no sooner had she decided upon a cereal brand then a commotion ensued from the bathroom the likes of which she'd never heard and she was sure the neighbors were hearing equally as well as herself.
She flew to the bathroom and was told by her offspring (children of mighty vision and, thanks to the efforts of a strict Montessori preschool, to ability to count to 100) that there were not one, but four spiders, each in their own webs, above the tubby.
Leaping arachnids Batman! (not really, they were harvester spiders) what child can enjoy a tubby when spiders lurk in every corner of the bathroom?
So a plastic cup and a piece of cardboard were found and the first spider captured after a deft balancing act on the edge of the tubby by the mother who was happy that all her years of dance and figure skating had given her proper balance to perform acts of bravery such as spider retrieval.
But then the dilemma. What to do with the captive spider? Normally they are released outside the front door but that seemed out of the question in February as it would only be sentencing said spider (whose only crime was a bad housing decision) to death by freezing and said Mother had already relocated several spiders from other parts of the house to the living room houseplant collection. How many spiders could live together comfortably in ten spindly houseplants?
There was only one place left - the attic. Four trips were made up two flights of stairs, the family house cat watching with bemused interest from the comfort of the bed.
Afterwards the mother wondered how the reunion went.
spider 1: "Hey you guys! Don't I know you from the bathroom?"
spiders 2, 3 and 4: "Yup."
spider 1: How y'all like these new digs?
spider 2: "Well the air's less humid up here but it sure is dark."
spider 1: "The dark's kinda creepy isn't it?"
spider 2: "I know how we could make it even more creepy."

song: Trouble • artist: Cold Play

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Maybe I'm Amazed

It's amazing how much you can get done for your family when your family isn't around.

song: Maybe I'm Amazed • artist: Paul McCartney & Wings

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

All You Need is Love II

This was in the briars across from Old Silver.
They should have given chocolates.

song: All You Need is Love • artist: The Beatles

Force Ten

Reading a book before seeing the movie is one thing but books that are written after a movie becomes a huge mega hit are entirely another genre.
H and I read The Life and Times of Obi Wan Kenobi recently - it was his pick. Admittedly I found it to be a slog. Books about Star Wars (and there are loads of them) remind me of Barbie. It's all about what kind of clothes the characters are wearing and what color the beam on their light saber is.
I've been less excited about H's obsession with Star Wars than I was with his Moby Dick fixation. 
I won't deny it. I'm a literary snob who prefers my son reenact Nantucket sleigh rides in the front yard (which he did) rather than fight scenes from a long time ago and a galaxy far, far away. Star Wars movies seem to be all chase scenes and laser fighting to me. 
But then H noticed the correlation between Yoda and Zen. Which is that Yoda meditates - and Mommy meditates.
Then, at the end of the Life and Times of Obi Wan there was this description of the protagonist becoming one with the Force that was so like the analogy of swimming on the surface of the sea while walking on the bottom of the ocean it was uncanny. The Force - the energy of all things - it's kind of a Zen concept.
In fact the whole idea of being one with the Force and that the Force is all around us and we just need to recognize it, that is, to not be in duality with the Force.
I think the Force is Buddha nature. The Force might be the intersection of time and space. It could be that. Or it could be whatever Dan said it was in our dharma talk last week (I forgot what he actually did say).
Which led me to thinking I ought maybe to revisit the character of Obi Wan Kenobi. Why had H picked a book about him anyway? 
While we're at it we might a sky why are there even books (we're talking entire chapter books here) written about Obi Wan?
He's not the hero (that's Luke)
He's not the villain (that's Darth Vader)
He's not the Jedi Master (that's Yoda)
He's not comic relief (that's C3PO)
He's not even the side kick (that's Hans Solo)
So who is he?
He's the teacher.
He's the father figure.
He's the guy who advocates for Luke.
He's the guy who has found the middle way.
Woah. Is George Lucas a Buddhist?
Or maybe I'm just reading too much into it. Maybe Star Wars is just being a movie and you know, exhibiting its movie nature. Because sometimes a movie, is just a movie.

song: Force Ten • artist: Rush

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013

Parenting is ...

Matchbox cars on edge of the bathroom sink (a Corvette!)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

All You Need is Love

Fourteen things I love (besides my family, my friends & my cat - duh!)

1.  a cup of tea
2. my garden
3. watermelon
4. diners
5. books
6. lilacs
7. thrift shops
8. laundry hanging from clothes lines
9. the subway
10. lucky rocks
11. black felt-tipped markers with fine points
12. hats
13. living in New England
14. lower case sans serif fonts

song: All You Need is Love • artist: The Beatles

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

FM (No Static at All)

song: FM (No Static at all)  • artist: Steely Dan

Love Stinks

Seventy valentines: cut, glued, decorated and names signed. The twins are ready for Valentine's Day at preschool. C has made, for the 3rd year in a row, heart-shaped key rings using Shrinky Dink paper (go ahead, say Shrinky Dink with a straight face - it's not possible) and for H's classmates we cut out heart-shaped pirate skulls and glued them to computer printout that read "yarrrrrrrrh okay valentine!"
Perhaps we are not up for any awards for creativity or execution of design but they are all done and no this isn't a post bemoaning the lack of hand-made valentines exchanged among children. But it is a post bemoaning all the candy that's sure to be attached to the cards my children will bring home on Thursday.
And for parents who refuse to attach candy there are pencils, stickers, temporary tattoos, fake Japanese erasers (made in China) and other items that are all too similar to the stuff that gets packed into party favor bags only to be spilled in the back of your mini van on the way home from the party and to lay there unnoticed and unloved in the back seat until the next time the car gets vacuumed out.
When did this start? Since when did Valentine's Day become such a grab fest? Since when do we have to attach something to the valentine? Isn't the valentine enough?
For the record and in case you haven't guessed, my children will be passing out nothing but cards - and Shrinky Dinks.
Sure there's been candy associated with Valentines Day since the dawn of time or at least since cupid got his likeness stamped onto a box of Whitman Samplers. But a box of Whitman Samplers far outshines a bag of Nerds or Wonka Fun Dip - that crap that hardly qualifies as candy.
Are you a bewildered parent like me? Would you rather not contribute to tooth decay but feel social pressure to pass out candy - after all - it comes with the box of valentine cards right? Wrong! Don't do it! Take a stand. My kids valentine bags smelled so sugary last year it was nauseating.
It's enough to give a card. Why up the ante? I was happy with just a card and I don't think our kids would be disappointed with just a card. Besides there's the school party with cupcakes, candy, and pretzels. The junk food or plastic in the bag is just extraneous. 
But wait, what's that you say? It's fun to give out candy or small presents. The holiday is about fun after all so therefore why are you, Joanne, such a party popper? 
Oh I don't know. I guess it's because C's ten which means I've been swimming upstream for a decade now with no spawning ground in sight. Let's take back these holidays people. Somewhere, between the extreme DIYers who are crafting exquisite heart-shaped containers from cereal boxes and buying a box of Lego Ninjago Masters of Spinjitzu Sticker Puzzle Valentines there's construction paper and a pair of scissors.

song: Love Stinks • artist: J. Geils Band

Monday, February 11, 2013

unfair (a quatrain)

snow day
turns gray
rain starts
fun departs


Its sides were so cold after 44 hours without heat I thought my mug might shatter when I finally was able to pour hot tea into it yesterday afternoon.
It's amazing how quickly we revert to farmers' hours when faced with a lack of electricity and no schedule to keep. Usually I go to bed at midnight. The first night the power was out we stayed up and I read the Hobbit until after 10, then we all wend to bed around 11 and woke up around 9. On Saturday night we were all in bed by 9:30 and up just after 7. I'm convinced if the power had not come back on Sunday afternoon we would have gone to bed at 8 and gotten up at 6.
And what's with the headline in the Cape Cod Times? Wintercane? What's that? Aren't high wings and snow a blizzard? Don't we already have a name for it?
I should have shed a few pounds just from schlepping around so much weight in clothing the past two days. I counted seven layers on top including my vest, and six+ on the bottom. That's six including two pairs of socks. I am not the queen of layering for nothing. Needless to say I didn't need to don a coat when I went outside to bring in firewood.
It's also amazing how the subconscious jumps in and tires to help out when one is faced with a stressful situation. It was so windy Friday night that when I went to bed I was sure the windows in the living room were going to blow in or that some other storm-related calamity was going to befall (literally) the house. In my dream I was at jury duty in another town (some town suffering from severe urban decay). In the courthouse parking lot were all these delinquent teenagers waiting around to speak with their parole officer. While I was at jury duty my car was stolen and when I told the parole officer that I thought somebody had stolen my car she said, "probably."
Anyway, I was so relieved when I woke up and my car wasn't stolen - only buried in snow. Phew. It even made those two huge tree limbs lying in the backyard easier to take.

song: Shattered • artist: Rolling Stones

Thursday, February 07, 2013

You're A Good Man Charlie Brown

Ken (on the phone): Do you want me to pick up anything for you before the big storm?
Me: Yes. Go to Staples and get me some glue sticks. If we're going to be snowed in, at least we can make a dent in the Valentine production.
We watched "A Charlie Brown Valentine's Day" tonight. I hope that Charlie Brown becomes a rocket scientist when he grows up, marries a super model, and attends all his high school reunions. 

song: You're A Good Man Charlie Brown • musical: You're A Good Man Charlie Brown

February Seven

I'm so exhausted that it's tiring to type.
C commented that his white blood must be working extra hard and that's why he's to tired.
I said yes, your white blood cells are fighting the Battle of Evermore. But he didn't get the reference.
Although there's nothing much to say today I couldn't let the day go by without a post on account of this song.

song: February Seven • artist: The Avett Brothers

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Falling Slowly

Based on yesterday's definition, last night was NOT a good night.
Want to know what the radius is of vomit expelled from a top bunk onto a hardwood floor?
You don't.
Ken came up and asked me how bad it was.
I told him we should just pack up the kids and move out.
It was that bad.

song: Falling Slowly • artist: Glen Hansard

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Parenting is ...

... declaring it a good night based on the fact that no one threw up.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Minute By Minute

Let's hear it for the lowly list. Lists were probably the first thing early man scrawled down when the written word was invented. Milk, eggs, bread - it's written on the walls at Lascaux. Cavewomen wrote things like "fix hole in cave wall, move stone wheel to garage"
You may prefer to make lists on an electronic device. You can even speak your list into your device and it will write the list for you. I'll not go into my regrets over the demise of handwriting and whether lists should be handwritten or not, or the personal satisfaction I get from scribbling out items once they've been accomplished.
I've been a list maker for a while know but last week I decided to step it up a notch. 
Be in the moment. That advice is dispensed all the time by loads of different people and it's sage.
But how do we go about being in the moment? Stop what we're doing and sit down? Can we only be "in" moments that are quiet? But what about all the sh*t we've got to get done? Mind numbing sh*t, the sh*t of everyday life. How we usually get through it is by thinking of something else. For me that something else is the thing I'm going to do next, the thing I should be doing perhaps instead of what I'm doing right now. This idea leads me to stop the thing I'm doing before it's completed so I can get started on the next thing, only to leave that thing as well when I suddenly notice something else. Later I'll go back to finish all the things I left partially undone. Usually things get done but it's a scattered, unsatisfactory, and exhausting process.
Hence the list. Write everything down. Large and small. Stuff that needs to be done every day and stuff that's specific to the day in question. Now I often make these kinds of lists. Not religiously mind you. I'll designate a steno pad from work as the to do list but ultimately I'll confuse it with the steno pad I keep real notes on and I'll write to do items on each of them which means I can't go back to a previous list on Saturday when I finally finish an item I wrote down on Tuesday. Another problem is that I'll make the list at night before bed. I'll sit and try to think of what needs to be done the next day and I can't think of the ten things that were rattling around in my head earlier. What I need is an ongoing list. So the rules of list making this week were that items on the list could be finished out of order but that it was against the rules to go on to another task until the one being worked on was complete. Now, what would normally happen is that I'd be hanging laundry up and I'd look down to notice (gasp!) all the crud on the laundry room floor. This needs to be swept up I'd say to myself and then I'd put down the damp, size 4T striped shirt and pick up the broom. Because if I don't at least start on the sweeping immediately, I'll forget it needs to be done at all until I come into the laundry room again and (gasp!) have the dirt revelation happen all over again. Under the rules of the new game I can't stop what I'm doing and tackle the sweeping, but I can get it out of my head by writing it down on the list. Then, with the idea of sweeping out of my head, I can get back to the laundry - and - the laundry gets done better, because instead of thinking of what I've got to do next (sweeping), I can think about the laundry. I can turn all the socks and footie pajamas right side out which constitutes a marked improvement over leaving them and then having my tired kids be unable to stick their feet into them and loose their cool over it right before bedtime.
Even walking upstairs and picking up items that are on the stairs because they are in need of being put away is off limits. Instead of picking up a Matchbook car or pair of sneakers and then forgetting the original reason for going upstairs in the first place, the exercise is instead to write on the list "clean up stairs."
You know what the Buddhists say. If you're folding laundry, fold laundry. If you're sweeping the dining room, sweep the dining room. The Buddhists are good at dispensing advice that seems obvious that on second thought is easier said that done.
The first day I followed this list-making regime not only did I get loads of items on the list done, including dinner prep, make pumpkin bread, and paint rocks, but I had time to sit and watch part of The Empire Strikes back with H, C and a friend who were home early on the half day. I even got in a walk around the block (it was on the list).
I may be pushing it but I believe that I might get the same amount of stuff done by using either method but by putting those thoughts down on the list instead of leaving them to clutter my head, I'm freed up - lighter if you will. Concentrating on one thing at the time is less tiresome and more rewarding than multitasking. 

song: Minute by Minute • artist: Doobie Brothers

Sunday, February 03, 2013

I Get a Kick out of You

Okay - I can take that after one month my ten year old can navigate the iPad with ease and I still need to consult the directions in order to change the station on my internet radio, but how is it my seven year old understands football better than me?

song: I Get a Kick out of You • musical: Anything Goes

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Celebrate Good Time (II)

Hey! Today's a great day!
And it's great not just because 45 years ago today I was born - - - but honestly I can't think of another reason.

song: Celebrate Good Times • artist: Kool and the Gang

Friday, February 01, 2013

Celebrate Good Times

I brought blueberry muffins to preschool yesterday so the twins could pass them out to celebrate their birthday. They have this little ceremony wherein they each carry a globe and walk around this lit candle that represents the sun for the number of years that they've been alive. As the audience we are charged with counting to five and hoping that nothing catches on fire.
While we were eating the muffins a little boy sitting nearby turned and addressed me:
"Next time can you bring in a cake - with glaze?"
I explained that my sister from Maine had visited recently and brought us 10 pounds frozen of blueberries which is I why I'd gone with blueberry muffins instead of cake, but he remained unimpressed.
In the car later yesterday afternoon N asked me when daddy would be getting old. Why do you want daddy to get old I asked.
"Because I want him to be dead."
"Oh. How come you want Daddy to die?"
"Because then he won't yell at me."
It's ironic because I too am guilty of yelling equally as often as Daddy, but as far as I know N isn't gunning for my eminent demise.
I tried to remind N that when Daddy wasn't yelling he was fun to have around, but N remained unimpressed.

song: Celebrate Good Times • artist: Cool and the Gang