August 30, 2008

Mass Sky


We just don't have skies like this in California. Maybe it's the smog? My friend Annie took this photo at the top of Watatic, and I just received my copy. I have to admit that the clouds are better in Massachusetts, so many shapes to be seen!

Giving a Fig


My friend Tri Mama (she participates in sprint triathlons, energetic woman!) goes to Whole Foods every two weeks, and Whole Foods is the only happy place where figs are sold in this part of the state, but at least there's one.
So Tri Mama went to the happy place, bought four baskets of figs for me, and I drove to Templeton to pick them up yesterday. It's a hike, but not as far as the farm stand in Wenham. I'll go anywhere for a fig!
She says that baby fig trees are sold at the Garlic festival in September (or October?), and she grows hers indoors during the winter. Her tree is a year old and has yet to produce a fig, but maybe it needs another little fig tree around to do its magic. So much to learn about a fig.
For now I'll be happy to eat mine with blue cheese and prosciutto. Yummy.
In other news: R accepted a job offer and starts his new job on Oct. 1. It's with a consulting company, so mucho driving, but then some working from home, too. We hope.
Also, Sweet Potato figured out how to open her locker. I drove her back up to the school Thursday evening, so she could give it a whirl without the stress of others watching.
And finally, Buckaroo has learned to slide solo. He has a little trouble putting both feet in front of him and sometimes slides in the splits position, but he enjoys it anyway.

August 29, 2008

Water Skiing Wonder


Yesterday the UPS guy brought us new water skis. R was kind enough to order some that are special for beginner types, and he ordered me a spiffy life vest, too. We invited our neighbors, Puppy Boy and his mama, to ski with us and help out with the Buckaroo, and just like that we were all out there on the lake.
The wonder is that I pulled myself up out of the water and skied for about 20 seconds. It's an amazing feat for me. I've tried to ski before without success, so I'm fairly certain it was all R's teaching skills that did the trick.
I felt like a newborn foal up there with my knees knocking together-- or like a newborn foal would feel if she were sliding across a lake at great speed. Silly. It doesn't matter, though; I've got ski fever. I can't wait to try it again. Now that I know I have the strength to do it, I'm determined to ride the wake for 40 seconds.
Oh, and Puppy Boy tried for the first time, pulled himself up on the second try and skied half way around the lake.
Next up, Sweet Potato.

August 27, 2008

Unraveling

Besides turning orange, yellow, and red, the trees are being engulfed by these giant webs. When I first saw them I said to R, "Those must be some gigantic Aragog-type spiders," but no. R said they were moths, and he was right.

Well, at this stage they're still web worms, which is an unfortunate name for a creature. In May they'll become moths. The good news is that they don't harm the trees at all. Shew! I was starting to worry about those trees.

Today Buckaroo and I had a lovely playdate in Templeton--isn't that the name of Wilbur's rat? It sure does sound familiar. Then later Buckaroo spent some time with the FMF while R and I attended a very thorough introduction to the 6th grade.

In other news, I am unraveling my aubergine scarf-- not all of it, just the first half. My neighbor, G, told me to bind off the first half and start the second and crochet them together. I don't know how to crochet, but I thought I'd cross that bridge later. Knitter Bee, though, told me I could just tie the second skein of yarn on to the first and keep going. Der. So now I'm off to unravel and start again. Ah, well. It's not cold enough for a scarf yet anyway.

August 26, 2008

First Day of School Funk

Here's Sweet Potato and her worried first day of school face. I snapped this on the fly as we chased R and Buckaroo (in the jogger) down the dirt road to the bus stop. We were late, but that was ok because the bus never showed up.

Sweet Potato hitched a ride to school with our neighbor, her daughter Tap Girl, and another kid I like to call Puppy Boy.

I'm happy to report that Sweet Potato had a joyful first day of school. Here's a quote:

"I sat by myself at lunch, and this boy sat next to me and started eating his Oreos-- he had a perfectly good peanut butter and jelly right there-- so I thought, 'well, I'm just going to eat my Nutter Butters then' and I did. Then a girl came up and asked me if I wanted to sit with her friends, and I moved to their table. They were laughing at everything. They even laughed at my name (but not in a mean way). The first girl said, 'Do you wish you hadn't sat at our table?' And I said, 'I'm never leaving this table as long as I don't have to sit by Oreo Boy again.'"

She and Tap Girl managed to find their way on to the homeward bound bus, and when Sweet Potato arrived she ate two cheese tostadas and gave me all the details.

Later, R came home from his one day at the office, and we weighed the pros and cons of the two job offers he's received. It's like he's trying to choose whom to take to the prom all over again. Lucky dog. He's playing coy.

So I was the only one in a funk today. I don't know what it was, but I couldn't shake it. The cooler weather maybe, or the fact that Buckaroo and I were without vehicle all day. R is talking about pulling the boat from the lake soon and bringing up the dock. Sweet Potato started school, R's changing jobs, and this is all really happening-- and it's happening without Obo.

Well, I'll stop there before I become morose.

In the wise words of Kevin Henkes: "Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow will be better."

August 25, 2008

Cathedral of the Pines

On Sunday, by some appropriate happenstance, we visited Cathedral of the Pines, which is on the way to New Hampshire. The name pretty much describes it, big open space on the top of a hill surrounded by pines. It's non-denominational (despite what the cross in the background might lead you to believe), and different congregations take turns having service there on summer Sundays.

Mr. and Mrs. Sloane created the space after their son Sandy died in WWII. They lived in a big farm house with plenty o' land, and granted a piece of property to each of their three sons. Sandy chose his plot at the top, and then went away to war and never came home. At some point a hurricane (yes, in Massachusetts!) ripped through, tore down some trees and created a lovely view of Mount Monadnock.

The Sloanes decided to honor Sandy, and all fallen soldiers, on the land Sandy chose by bringing different religions together to progress toward a peaceful future-- sort of the "all paths lead to peace" idea.

People from all over the world have left tokens of loved ones at the cathedral, and many of the pieces were built into the stone walls there. In the museum there were pictures of soldiers, letters and poems written to them. I especially liked the fountain honoring the women who had died in battle, a tree of life.

A sort of strange thing happened while we were there. I was thinking a lot about my bonus dad, Leisure Lee, and his brother Dale who died in Vietnam, and I wondered what Leisure Lee would think of this place, and thought that maybe we could all visit again when my parents come out in October.

But before I tell you what happened next, I have to tell you that Leisure Lee is an avid guitarist. I listened to him play guitar and sing almost every day that I lived in Auburn, and when we go home we are usually awakened by some random strumming and a tune or two played through an amplifier in what used to be my bedroom.

So there I was strolling through the flower gardens, checking out the bees, thinking about my parents, and cabbageheaded war, when over an amplifier came the sound of a single guitar. No singing, not really even a song-- just a little bit of this and a little bit of that-- but definitely something that Leisure Lee might play. It sounded just like home.

August 24, 2008

Will Return Tomorrow


Taking a blogging break tonight so that I may write some bad poetry. Meanwhile, here's a picture Sweet Potato took of the creek near our house.

August 23, 2008

Giardia Worries

When I told R and the FMF that I was worried about Buckaroo getting giardia because he keeps drinking the lake water they said, "You're worried about what?" and then they told me giardia must be a California thing.

It's not a California thing, and it's caused by the beavers and muskrats hanging out in the water too long, among other things.
People with shallow wells, like ours, are particularly susceptible. Now I feel like we need to test all the water everywhere. The Center for Disease Control says we should just test for fecal matter because if there's no poop, there's no giardia.
Meanwhile, Buckaroo seems to be healthy, but I'm keeping a sharp eye on him just in case.
In happier news, today I bought us a DVD player. I'm not sure why we waited so long because it was only $35. R says he kept forgetting. We're thinking of getting rid of cable, though, because we were perfectly happy without it in California, and the few times we've tried to watch TV, it took us a half an hour to cruise the 500 channels only to find the Home Shopping Network. Boo. Plus, it cost some insane amount of money.
Sweet Potato will be disappointed, though, as she's become addicted to Wizards of Waverly Place.
Tonight we had the FMF over for dinner, and R practiced some cocktails on all of us. I'm not a fan of whiskey it turns out (the truth is I really prefer a Coke over most alcoholic beverages, but I feel guiltier when I drink the Dark Drink). The kids ran around on the beach at sunset, we gobbled down our food before the mosquitoes could chomp on us, and then we went for a boat ride around the lake.
The kids took turns driving the boat, and at the end R zoomed as fast as the boat would go with eight people aboard. The FMF girls loved it and squealed with glee while their hair whipped wildly in the wind. All the girls had ratty 80s hair when we docked.

August 22, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

We all feel a little like we've been attacked by dementors over here since Obo didn't come home, but we're keeping out toes up as best we can (that's a water skiing expression, according to R).

Today Sweet Potato and I took Buckaroo for a walk in the jogging stroller. It wasn't really a walk in the woods; it was more of a walk down a windy road where the cars drove too fast and swervy, but it was pretty.

My friend Knitter Bee called this morning and told me the first trees to turn red are the swamp maples-- she also told me there's a much easier way to make a scarf than what I've attempted, but that's another post.

Sweet Potato and I set off to see the swamp maples along the road home, but they turned out to be a wee bit too far for SP's liking. She got hot, itchy, and had to pee, so we turned around. We did see these lovely red maples, though, so that was something.

We saw a couple of other lovelies as well, including this very photogenic dragonfly. He all but said Cheese.
Also, these pretty girls. No idea what they are, but they seem to grow on a ground vine.

So now we are pouring into our wounded bosoms the balm of home-made blueberry syrup, made with hand-picked blueberries from the lake. Yesterday we poured it on our wheat-free pancakes, but now I think I'll try it on lemon sorbet.

August 21, 2008

Oh, Obo

He did not get on the plane.

August 20, 2008

Autumn Cometh

R said it was forty degrees last night in some parts of New England. I said that musta been way up in Maine, but as we were driving home from dinner tonight -- an anniversary dinner (with kids) at the yummy Mexican restaurant-- I saw that a couple of the swamp trees had turned completely red.
It's been chillier in the mornings and evenings for sure, and today I wore my sweatshirt all day. It feels a little like a Bay Area summer. I don't even care if it's cold at this point, as long as there's no dagnabbed rain for a while.
The evenings on the water have been so calm and pink, so last night we took Buckaroo out for his first ride in the tippy, flat-bottom boat. I was hoping to paddle close to the dam where the blueberries are hanging plump in a gorgeous bunch, but we couldn't reach those. We did find plenty of other unreachable-by-land blueberries, though, and I picked 'em all while R steadied the boat and sang "Five Little Duckies" to Buckaroo. I filled my little yellow bucket and even brought home a hitch-hiking spider and ladybug. I'm hoping to make a blueberry sauce with the loot.

Buckaroo enjoyed the trip and the berries and even took a break from helping R paddle for some milk.
In other news: R had his second job interview today and liked this company better than the first. He thinks they liked him as well. He has another interview tomorrow with a third company, and then we're really hoping someone will make him an offer. He's plum tuckered out.
Also, Obo returns from King Arthurland tomorrow! He's supposed to catch his flight out in six hours. Travel easy, Obo.

August 19, 2008

Late Summer Discoveries

Buckaroo and I were digging around for blueberries near the lake yesterday-- It's starting to feel like an Easter egg hunt by the beach where they're all picked over-- and we found a bird's nest. At least I think it belongs to a bird, but it was on the ground. If you click the picture you might be able to see the blue ribbon in there. It might be dental floss.



It must be caterpillar season because the guys are everywhere, and I haven't seen any that look like the fuzzy guys in California. In Auburn we had little black pillars with an orange or yellow stripe. This guy was hanging out in my garden, and I tried to Google him, but I couldn't come up with much, other than his being a fuzzy goldy, which I could have guessed by looking at him.


Oh, but there is a really cool web site called What's That Bug? Where people post pictures of creepy crawlers, and the good people there try to identify them.

This silky white guy is another one I found hanging out in my mint. He's going to be a moth when he grows up. I didn't take this photo, unfortunately.

I think I mentioned that the Daddy Long Legs out here are black with an orange-ish body. I tried to get a photo of this one-- on the left-- I don't know if you can see him because he blends in so well with the pine needles.

These are some very dainty (and blurry) flowers growing by the water. They have tall stems. They might be weeds, actually, but they're so delicate and sweet.

This fellow is just the opposite of delicate and sweet, rather ornery I hear. When I first saw one on the blueberry bushes, I said to R, "Look at this cool beetle. His shell is like copper." Then R told me that it was a Japanese beetle, and they eat everything.

According to Wiki they eat 300 different kinds of plants, and they have no predator in the U.S. Bummer. So I guess I won't be making friends. I read that a gardener could try spraying them with a 50/50 mixture of soap and water because it dries up their bodies. Yik.

Otherwise, you know that papercut art (like the cut-out snowflakes that kids make in grammar school)-- well, that's how all the leaves look when the beetles are done with them. Very intricate work.

Well, in case you were on tenterhooks about it, R's interview was just ok. They don't want to pay him quite as much as he'd hoped, and they want him to spend the first two months working in Boston. Too far! The interview was three hours long with all sorts of different people. Very stressful, and he won't find out if they liked him until tomorrow.

So in honor of R, and because tomorrow is our anniversary, I'm ending with an R quote from earlier this week that made me giggle and giggle:

"You're the luckiest wife I've ever had."













August 18, 2008

The Sunset Magazine of New England

I've been searching high and low for something like Sunset Magazine out here. I never read the magazine in California because I always knew where I wanted to visit, and I didn't own a home, but now both of those things have changed (or are soon to change).

So there R and I were in the Market Basket yesterday when Yankee Magazine jumped out at me. Sweet Potato was very intrigued by the cover photo which shows a blondy girl eating a candy apple. She'd never heard of such a thing, let alone seen one.



Looks like there's a whole article in there about Nantucket, which is where R and I are thinking of having an adventure if he's able to swing a vacation between jobs.



Also, the mag is full of New England home ideas, and yesterday we visited with our neighbors, Mr. & Mrs. Next Door, and they have a whole upstairs full of light. When we came home I told R that I thought a whole upstairs seemed extravagant before, but now I think it's a great idea. We could take out the wall between the kitchen and the kids' bedrooms, and have big open spaces down here and all of the bedrooms up there.

Get this-- R agreed with me! So exciting. I also mentioned how lovely it was to sit on the covered porch in the rain at the FMF's house, and he's considering that as well. Of course the act of turning these idears into reality is a long, long way off.

Sweet Potato requested that the upstairs be done by the time she moves out of the house and added that she may live at home while attending college, so that gives us plenty of time.

Some things I forgot to mention: We had a joyous reunion with Sweet Potato and R at the airport. Buckaroo was so delighted to see his dad and sister he squealed and kicked his legs with wild abandon.

We all learned some things during our time apart: Sweet Potato learned that she likes dogs and would like to have one as a pet. R, on the other hand, learned that having a dog as a pet is a lot of hard work, and we just don't have the time or energy for a Fido right now.

I learned that Buckaroo likes to pinch doggie lips. Poor Sweet Potato.

I also learned how to make tofu-- oh, and that I'm very grateful to R for all of the wonderful things he does around the house and for the kids. Shew!

We don't yet know what Obo has learned, but we do know that he saw Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging in the theater in England, and he says we must purchase it as soon as it's available on DVD.

Now I'm off to help R prepare for his first big job interview tomorrow. I've been coaching him to say, "Telecommuting: that's an option, right?"

August 17, 2008

Blueberries & Marshmallows

Today was a slow day, and it started with a lie-in (as Obo likes to call it). R woke up early with Buckaroo and let me sleep blissfully for a couple more hours. It was delightful and so needed.
We took Buckaroo for a walk and visited all of the neighbors. He likes to say hello and bye bye with a wave.
We shopped at good ol' Market Basket. R pointed out that the checkers and baggers are all teens here because they probably aren't union like in California. But would that explain why the young woman bagger who squished my hamburger with my watermelon one week was the checker when I went back the next time?
In the afternoon we picked blueberries on our beach, and they are so much sweeter now. Next year I'm definitely waiting until August before I turn my fingers blue.
The water was so calm this evening, so we tootled around in the boat. Buckaroo likes to go fast and feel the wind whipping through his hair. Sweet Potato dreamed about the winter when she'll be able to snow shoe out to the islands.
After Buckaroo's bed time, the three of us roasted marshmallows in the chimney thing. I'm really not sure what to call that thing. I dreamed of adding another floor to the house and tearing down walls.
Now it's bed time and I have a couple of rows to stitch on my scarf. Unfortunately, I tried to knit last night after drinking a couple glasses of wine, and it didn't look quite right this morning. I'll never drink and stitch again!
Oh, but my neighbor, G, is a knitter. Yay! She is a year-rounder, too, so she's going to help me when I get to the end of my skein. Wait, I think I live at the end of my skein. Har har.

August 16, 2008

Two Golf Balls and One Angry Mama

I'm no golfer, so I don't understand the point of teeing off into a body of water, on purpose. A golf ball in the water is pollution as far as I'm concerned, no different from an aluminum can or a plastic bag.
Earlier this summer Obo and our neighbor Puppy Boy were snorkeling around our beach and found several golf balls at the bottom of the lake. "Hmm," we said. "That's weird. From where might those have come?"

Well now I can tell you. Tonight, as R and I were enjoying the sunset on the still water, a golf ball zoomed past our heads. And then another one.

Photo by Christopher Seufert

Our neighbors directly across the lake were enjoying a little game, apparently. Besides our teeth, they almost took out the window of the house behind us.

It's a good thing I have a calm, reasonable husband because just as I was about to shout obscenities from the end of our dock, R hopped in the stinky boat, cruised on over, and politely asked the bunch of rowdy college boys to stop trying to clock us with sporting equipment. Grrr.

I tried to Google golf ball pollution, but it seems that I'm the only person in the world who thinks that hitting golf balls into water is a bad idea. Although, they are making environmentally friendly golf balls these days, so that must mean something.

In happier news, we spoke to Obo tonight, and he is enjoying his time with the Brits. He says he's eating tea and biscuits while riding on the red double-decker bus just as I expected he would. He also said he'll start making his farewell rounds on Monday and will be back The Woods on Thursday. Yay!

August 15, 2008

On Their Way!


One loyal reader asked if I would blog about my romantic home-coming rendezvous with R.
Erm, no. I know I freely share the nitty gritty details of my life, but I'm afraid some material is off limits.

It did occur to me, though, that I may not want to be pecking at the keyboard this evening. Plus, Sweet Potato is hoping for a dinner out on the town to celebrate their long-awaited return. Sweet Potato and I will really use any excuse for a dinner out. Obo, too, if he were here.

So I thought I'd better post while Buckaroo naps. He had a playdate with the FMF this morning so I could do a bit of scrub bubbing around the house. In case you were wondering, I'm not known for my domestic aptitude. I don't think there's anyone out there saying, "That Tricia, she sure is a tidy girl!" I do enjoy a tidy house, and I especially like to read a book in my tidy house-- or write a little something. The thing is, I'd also rather read and write in my messy house than take the time to make it tidy. You see where this leaves me-- with a tidy husband!

This morning, though, I whizzed around here like nobody's business, and it's all shiny. I even made brownies, wheat-free from a Trader Joe's mix-- well, like I said, I'm no Martha Stewart.

And Buckaroo has awakened.

Sweet Potato and R have just left Denver and will arrive this evening! Yippee!

August 14, 2008

And a Wake Up

Here's my scarf. It's about 3.5" x 3.5" so far. I know it doesn't sound like much, but it's nearly miraculous that I haven't unraveled it. I can't imagine what I'm supposed to do when I get to the end of my spool of yarn or where the tassels come into it, so I just keep telling myself: one stitch at a time.
Some other stitches I'm taking one at a time:
Did you know that there are 2,000 pounds in a ton? Well, you probably did, but I didn't. That means we're about to have 8,000 pounds of wood pellets delivered to our home. That is roughly the weight of a full-grown African Elephant. I'm not so good with measurements, but I really don't think this elephant is going to fit in our basement.
Have you read that story "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman? It's not a happy read, about a woman suffering from post-partum depression. I'm beginning to think that the knotty pine in the house is going to be my yellow wallpaper during the winter if I don't get out of the house. I can already see the knots turning into eyes. Who's watching me?
I'm thinking of taking a class.
While Buckaroo and I have been wiling away the hours out here in The Woods, R has been working like a hamster on a wheel out there in California-- the regular job, pet sitting, cleaning out the office, and interviewing for jobs like a mad man.
He has some insane number of in-person job interviews lined up for next week, but the company at the top of his list is an hour away. I know we'll be lucky if he doesn't have to drive into Boston, but an hour still seems very, very far. In sunny California his job was only five minutes away, and I got myself in a huff if he wasn't home by 5:30. You see why it's difficult to be married to me.
Speaking of which, we are about to set upon our third wedding anniversary this month. Three-- we're just pre-schoolers in marriage, barely potty trained. Isn't it sweet? It will be good to have him home again.
That crazy-haired Sweet Potato, too.

August 13, 2008

One Day, Two Falls, and a Wake Up

"The real troubles are apt to be the ones that never cross your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m.on some idle Tuesday."

Baz Lurhmann


Some people believe there is no such thing as coincidence; similar events or conversations are signs meant to point us in one direction or another. Sometimes it's difficult to figure out which direction that is.


I've been thinking about coincidence because I've fallen on my arse twice this week, and while I am a clumsy person, I'm usually not quite that clumsy, so what could it mean?


The first time was by the lake. Buckaroo had absconded with the neighbor's beach ball, and before I could field it, he had thrown it into the water with the full force of his bitty arms . I stood there in my sweat pants and long sleeves watching it float away.


It was rafting near the same neighbor's dock, so I left Buckaroo standing alone on the beach, a risky decision in itself, and dashed down the dock before he had time to fling himself in the water or the ball could float out of my reach. It had been raining, of course. I was half way down the dock when, just like that, my feet were flying out in front of me, and I was on my tush.


That one didn't hurt, and I still managed to get the beach ball while Buckaroo stayed safely ashore.


This morning I was standing in the bath tub after I finished my shower. Buckaroo was in his usual spot outside the tub chatting with me. I'm not even sure what I was doing, but I may have been checking that I'd shaved all my underarm hair properly, and then bam: I was on my bum again.


The worst part was that my right leg became sort of rubbery, flew up out of the tub and hit Buckaroo in the back, pinning him against the tub and making him scream.


I said a few choice swear words under my breath, climbed out and calmed the blubbering Buckaroo while inspecting my own damage. I'm a bit banged up from that one.


Usually when I fall, I can feel myself going in the wrong direction, and I have time to try to catch myself or at least soften the blow, but these falls were the same: I was right-side up, and then I wasn't.


Meanwhile, I've been thinking about my dad lately. Re-creating the accident in my head, which I have been told specifically not to do, but I can't always control my brain. Whenever I think about that day I remember those Lurhmann lyrics because my dad died at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon. Weird coincidence. R and I were hoping to jostle and soothe Buckaroo so we could watch Pursuit of Happyness on DVD-- a nothing day.


Then today Buckaroo and I had a beautiful day at the lake, and while he dug in the sand, another mom and I were talking about protecting our children and how sometimes we have to stop worrying and let them explore. She said, "They're going to have accidents, and the cause of it will be the thing you never saw coming anyway." Just what I was thinking.


So where does all of this lead me? Home. My new home, I mean-- even though it's still a challenge to think of this place as home. Before I left California my friend Peter the Reporter said, "You're just moving away. It's not like death. You can pick up the phone and call anyone in California any time."
It's true: Moving is not dying. I don't miss anyone in the same way I miss my dad.


So I think those falls are the universe's way of telling me to get over my sorry self. What do I have to worry about besides whether or not to empty the mosquito-infested flowerpots? There's no point in biting my fingernails about a few (or several thousand) snowflakes or this crazy summer rain.


I'm supposed to save my energy for the real challenges ahead-- the unforeseen, unpredicted. Please, whatever it is, may it be in the faraway future.
In the interim I should be happy that I have access, technologically, to all the people I love. They won't forget me-- I don't think. Plus, rain boots are so cute these days.
Maybe I should wear them in the shower.

A Wenham PS

I forgot to mention that Knitter Bee and I also popped into the a produce stand where I found figs! I was so relieved to see my old friends. I wasn't sure I'd find a fig out here, and if I have to go to Wenham for more of the little luxuries, to Wenham I will go.

Also, I did not mention Knitter Bee's lovely husband, who is a Mass native and (I've been told) sometimes refers to Bee as "My California wife."

And one last, but very important thing: Knitter Bee made us a green salad, and she happened to mention that she added maple syrup to the dressing just as I was about to dig in.

Many people hold it against me and wonder if I can really be American-- even more so out here in Maple Land-- but I do not enjoy maple syrup, so I have to admit that I halted my fork over my plate and let it hover there for a few seconds, but I quickly decided to give it the ol' "when in Rome" try.

I couldn't believe my taste buds. It was fantabulous.

August 12, 2008

Two Days and a Wenham

Buckaroo and I ventured out to the seaside today for some frolic. The forecasters called for rain, but luckily the weather didn't listen to them. It was sunshiney all day long and just sprinkled on us driving home.


We went to visit my new friend Knitter Bee and her kids, Kayak Boy and Equestrianess in Wenham. When I told R I was going to Wenham he said, "Are you going to beat 'em, too?" Not sure if that's a MA joke or just his funky brain. Now you see why I lurve him.


Knitter Bee is a cousin of a former co-worker in California, so Bee and I have chatted via email since I moved here. She lives in a recently renovated house full of sunshine. Oh, the light! Plus, a wrap-around porch. I have to say I felt a little envy in my heart.

Also, Knitter Bee has the best laugh-- so full and infectious. The kind of laugh you want to hang around.

She made us a delicious lunch of lentil soup (a big hit with the little man) and grilled cheese sandwiches. Then we dashed about here and there. We picked up Equestrianess at the stable and patted the horses. Buckaroo was somewhat intimidated by the size of a horse, which was probably a good thing after the way he manhandled the family dog.

Then we were off to Yarns in the Farms where I picked up the most gorgeous aubergine (don't ya love that fancy word for purple) yarn ever. Fat llama yarn and fat needles for a big, cozy scarf. The yarn store is tiny, and the owner fills it up with rich color and her own easy laughter. She just returned from visiting a home for disabled people in Guatemala where she donated oodles of yarn.


Across the street from the yarn store is an ice cream stand, so of course we had to pop over. Buckaroo and I behaved ourselves and shared lemon sorbet. Scrum diddly dum. While sitting on the bench eating our dessert, we all lamented the dearth of ice cream stands in California. Did I mention that Knitter Bee is from Lodi and even has family in my hometown? Crazy small world.


Next we trotted off to Gloucester to get a glimpse of the ocean and pick up Kayak Boy from camp. Knitter Bee helped me cast on my scarf while we waited, and Equestrianess entertained Buckaroo in the back seat and reminisced about her Raffi days.

Finally, we zipped over to Hamilton for a visit to the Appleton farm where Knitter Bee picked up some produce and flowers and Buckaroo attempted to trample the crops.

Back at the house, Buckaroo chased a very patient Cosmo Dog around the house while Knitter Bee made pasta and veggies. Good stuff. We sat out on the porch until the evening cooled and Buckaroo fell apart.

Two minutes into the drive home and he was asleep, and it was a good thing because Mr. GPS lead me down the windy backroads.

August 11, 2008

Three Days and a Wake-Up

They are mosquito larvae! The biology people say I should leave them alone because they're an important part of the food chain. Bah Humbug. Or maybe that's Huminsect. Well, the flowerpots are not on our property, so I'll just let the neighbor decide what to do with them.
Oh, but if I put them in the lake the fish could eat them, right? What to do?
Today is another rainy one. I have to say that it's really bringing me down, and I also have to say that it's not helpful to say to a recently transplanted Cali mama, "You're really going to hate the winters here. You've never shoveled snow before? Ha! It's going to destroy your marriage and send you packing back to your home state."
Especially when said Cali mama is already drenched in the deity-forsaken summer rain.
Today is colder, too. Right now I'm wearing sweatpants and two long-sleeve shirts. It doesn't help that my hair never dries. I'm going to throw myself into the dryer.
Well, this is a bleak little post. But here's something: Three days and a wake-up until R and Sweet Potato return from the smokey state. That's Navy talk, ya know. Can I use it if I'm not the one traveling, though? Well, Buckaroo and I have to travel into Boston, so that's like meeting the family halfway.

August 10, 2008

Day 19: Once Upon a Time There Was Sunshine

Annie arrived in a storm, and she left in a storm, but in-between it was sunny. Buckaroo tried to chase Annie's car down the road as she drove away; perhaps he knew that she was taking the light with her.
We did go out in the rain, though, because we must. Sometimes there's just not enough room in a knotty-pined house for one lonely mama and her antsy toddler. Buckaroo has added a new word to his vocabulary: "beach," except that it sounds very much like another B-word. So with one simple word he requests to go to the beach and tells me what he thinks of me when I don't take him there.
The beach next to ours is surrounded by flower pots, usually filled with water. I empty them regularly because Buckaroo likes to splash in them. Today I went to empty them, and there was something growing in there, and they weren't of the vegetable variety. They looked like the tiniest tadpoles ever, but when I Googled photos of tadpoles they didn't match quite right-- too chubby. My tadpole-thingies are about a quarter of an inch long, black, and skinny as thread. To motor themselves across the flower pot they do a little inch worm kind of break dance.
The conundrum is whether or not to leave them where they are. Did the mama know she was leaving them in a flower pot and not small body of water? I considered releasing them into the lake, but what if they are evil?
It's a regular pickle.

August 9, 2008

Day Eighteen: Up Watatic and Down Again

Annie is the queen of blueberry picking, and she will have a palmful of the little guys before you can crack your knees.

There were a plethora of the bushes near the peak of Mt. Watatic. (We had a bit of disagreement about some bushes where the berries were more black, but I ate a few and did not die, so Annie is convinced that they were blueberries after all. I think.)
Annie picked more than a pie's worth of the berries for Buckaroo who was very thankful and squeally.
I know I mentioned this last time, but Annie does have a keen eye for a bird. She's very modest about it, too. First, she hears the bird call when I hear only the sound of my own voice in my head-- My friend Kate says that I have mom's ears and only hear a child crying in pain. It's survival instinct. Then, Annie can spot the chirper in a faraway tree and name it. Today she spotted the Gray Jay, and I thought all jays were blue.
We both wondered aloud about the different greenery along the hike, but Annie was able to tell me-- because another New England friend told her-- that the white alien sprouts in my flower bed are Indian Pipe. I Googled them and learned that they have no chlorophyll. Isn't that like not having a belly button? See? They're from Mars.
We calculated that we hiked about three miles round trip after adding in the little jaunt we took in the wrong direction. It sure did feel like ten, though. Maybe that's because I had the 25 pound Buckaroo on my back.
We did get quite turned around and were slightly startled to see that we'd ended up where we began. Plus, if we hadn't taken the detour we would have never seen the psychedelic purple mushrooms. Seriously!
Later, Annie treated Buckaroo and me to Thai food in Lunenberg. It was darned good Thai food, except that they only gave us about 1/4 cup of rice with our meal, and Buckaroo ate most of it. We conjectured that maybe they were low on rice tonight. We sat on the porch, and Buckaroo was mesmerized by the passing cars and bean sprouts.
Hanging around Annie makes a gal want to expand her usual repertoire of words. I often find myself asking her, "What does that word mean?" and Annie will say something like, "Oh, you know: large bird."
Tomorrow my California poet-friend is headed to another New England destination before she returns to the land of fires.
Ah, crud. It's almost midnight. I'm going to turn into a blueberry.

August 8, 2008

Day Seventeen: A Visit with Annie


We have a neighbor dog named Annie, so every time I mentioned to Buckaroo that Annie was coming, he'd say, "woof woof"-- which is sometimes difficult to distinguish from his request for food, "oof oof." Fortunately Annie does a lovely dog impression, so it all worked out.

Alas, Annie was not able to help with naming the flowers and trees out here because she doesn't know the East Coast vegetation. She's better than I am about making a darned good guess, though, because I don't even know what's growing on the West Coast.

Oh, and does she know a bird! We watched the Bohemian Waxwings nibbling away at the blueberries by the mailboxes today. I would have had to Google the things, but she knew right away they were bohemian and not cedar because of the tops of their heads.

Annie also has a way with tofu and made us a lovely stir fry with the stuff. I'm fascinated by how anything is transformed from greeny nugget to tofu or milk-like product. Buckaroo was not a fan of the tofu, though, and I was really hoping to get some protein in the guy. That drawing board is wearing thin.

But before all that we went to Peterborough (or Peterboro-- there seems to be some difference of opinion about the spelling) in New Hampshire. We visited Toadstool Books, and it was the best bookstore ever, complete with cafe where we had some delicious comestibles and Annie acted as the angel on my shoulder when we passed by the pastries.
The sun was shining, and not just in one corner of the sky. The whole sky was blue. We licked the windows (Annie says that's what the French call window shopping), and let Buckaroo run free in the park and float leaves down the extremely rapid river. There was a trail along the river that had a very sharp cliff down to the water, and then a place where the water was sort of dammed and forced into a whirlpool through a rock wall. One could have easily walked along the rock wall, across the tumult and to the other side. It did appear quite perilous, which is why I wouldn't let Buckaroo attempt it, as much as he wailed. Annie and I agreed that it seemed the kind of place a city would want to make a bit more safe, but then I remembered that New Hampshire is the "Live Free or Die" state, so I guess that includes children, too.

I think I've yakked Annie's ear floppy, but I have to say, grown-up conversation is a beautiful thing.

August 7, 2008

Day Sixteen: Odds & Ends & Raffi

Apparently Bob the stinky boatman hasn't asked to be paid in four years. This is why nobody complains about his slow service. Now I have guilt.

I was listening to a Commonwealth program about intergovernmental climate change on KFOG (streaming live, gotta love it) and this guy-- Rajendra K. Pachauri (with a big title)-- said that going off of beef is equivalent to trading in one's car for a hybrid because it takes so much energy to produce a hunk of mignon. I'd probably know this if I could have gotten past all those ears of corn in Omnivore's Dilemma. R's mom happened to be nearby when I mentioned that I'm tinkering with the idea of giving up meat, and her jaw dropped to the floor. She said I'd be a difficult person to live with.

Well, I'm already difficult person to live with, so no change there, but then how will I make up for the stinky boat?

On a less depressing note, our FMF and I were singing "Five Little Duckies" with the children the other day and wondering what happened to Raffi, so I wikied him. Looks like he's been busy working for children's rights. Here's my favorite part of the blurb:

Raffi advocates for a child's right to live free of commercial exploitation and he has consistently refused all commercial endorsement offers. Raffi's company, Troubadour Music, has never directly advertised nor marketed to children. In 2005, he sent an open letter to Ted Rogers of Rogers Wireless, urging them to stop marketing cell phones to children [2]. He has also turned down a film proposal for "Baby Beluga" because of the nature of the funding, which was based on exploitative advertising and marketing.
In October 2006, Raffi was presented with the Fred Rogers Integrity Award by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood for his consistent refusal to use his music in endorsements that market products directly to children.

Go Raffi!

Oh, and I finished The Last Summer (of You and Me). It is the perfect beach house read--even if the beach is on a lake and not an ocean. I didn't grow up with a sister, though, so I had a little bit of a hard time understanding the sibling relationship. Overall, a good, easy, summer read.
Well, Buckaroo and I are entertaining guests today. Our friends Darci and Petrina came and played ball with us, and Petrina got to learn the wild rumpus song. Lucky woman! Later, our friend Annie is coming, and I hope she can tell us the names of all the flora and fauna around here. There's so much to learn. So far no rain today. Knocking on the notty pine, as usual.
Ah, and today is Obo's birthday! He's celebrating with the English people. Happy Birthday Obo!

August 6, 2008

Day Fifteen: We Are the Wild Things

"And Max the king of all wild things was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all." Maurice Sendak



Around here we're reading Where the Wild Things Are at least five times a day. It is a Buckaroo favorite. If we're not reading it, we are often singing the tune to the wild rumpus. Does everyone make up his own soundtrack to the wild rumpus? Ours is heavy on the drums.

We've got more that a week of solitude still spread out in front of us, and I think we're starting to feel like banished wild things on our own little wild island.

Turns out R is the only floor mopper around here, and I never realized before how desperately someone needs to do that job on a regular basis. Right now, in fact, there's a lovely salad of potato, cheerio, soy bean and blueberry all over the place.


The good news: I've figured out a way to bathe. At a La Leche League meeting yesterday one woman said I should throw scrubbies out of the shower and let Buckaroo fetch them. I tried it this morning, and it worked! I am a happily bathed woman again.



Also, we did get out of the house today. Our FMF took us to Worcester for a little discount home supply shopping (so many possibilities!) and lunch at O'Connors' Irish pub. My lunch was a football-sized fish with chips. Mostly I enjoyed the hot cocktail, coffee with frangelico, and strangely I don't have the post-coffee jitters. I think the caffeine and alcohol balanced each other out.



It poured waterfalls of rain today. When it rains in California it always feels like morning. You know the song, "and the morning lasted all day . . . " but here it felt like dusk all day. When Buckaroo woke up to tell me it was 7:30 a.m., and he needed some oof I didn't even believe him.



But then when we returned from our crazy driving-in-the-rain trip the sky cleared, and the lake was still, and the fish were jumping, and it really was dusk.


Last, I think I'm officially over my cooking strike. Today I took Buckaroo to the store, and I bought vegetables: lettuce, asparagus, cucumber, mushrooms, bells, and red onion. I'm determined to make a meal tomorrow. I was going to make one tonight, but that gargantuan fried fish tuckered me out.

August 5, 2008

Day Fourteen: Sweet Potato's Letter

This is a photo Sweet Potato took with her cell phone of herself, Soccer Star, and Swimmy Star and text to me. (I can't ever quite figure out the tense of text. Texted? This fandangled technology!)
Here's the letter that Sweet Potato wrote, and I received today:
"Dear Mom,
Hi! I am writing you from Nana Sandy's. Yesterday I said goodbye to Soccer Star and got lost on the way here. I felt sick yesterday, but today I am much better. Today Nana and I went to JC Penny's and Barnes and Nobles. I got 5 shirts, a pair of jeans, Bloomability and Ruby Holler (both written by Sharon Creech, as you know). I miss you and Buckaroo a lot and I can't wait to see you again. Write back if this letter comes before I do. I will be at my dad's.

Love, Sweet Potato

P.S. I have changed my mind about something so big you will not believe me.
P.P.S. I will tell you when I get there.
P.P.P.S Remind me about it.

I love you.

P.P.P.P.S Pop is fine. Bye!"

Here are my guesses as to what she's changed her mind about:
She's decided to stop re-reading Harry Potter for a while. This would be major.
She's decided to join the school band.
She decided not to be a children's book author when she grows up.
She's decided not to go to college-- oh, anything but this.

And that is the end of week number TWO.

August 4, 2008

Day Thirteen: Vinyl and Tarot Revisited

I got postcards from Mom and LeisureLee today, and Leisure Lee asked if there were any Indian casinos in Massachusetts. Nope. Notta one. It looks like there is a constant hope of building one, but it's been in the works and rather hopeless for years. That's OK with me. There are two in Connecticut, though: Mashantucket and Uncasville. I love the names out here. It never occurred to me that there would be no Santa or San Somethings because that's a California thing.

I'm not crazy about the Indian casinos. My dad used to be in charge of filling the new casinos with games (or at least I think that's what he did; his employment was always something of a mystery and a bit shady). It always seemed like things never turned out as well, financially, for the tribe as they did for the non-tribal investors. Plus, people were always shooting at each other by the time Dad moved on to the next casino.

Speaking of my dad, I've been thinking about what that tarot card reader told me, and I think she was predicting my past instead of my future. I guess that's not a prediction, is it? More of a psychic re-telling.

Just before I went to see her, Buckaroo and I were wandering around a scary junk store in Gardner, and I stumbled (really, physically) on piles and piles of vinyl 45s. I was suddenly six years old again and in my dad's work. Back then his job was fixing juke boxes, pinball machines, video games, and the place where he worked had a distinct smell: bars and machines and sweat. There were gutted games everywhere and so many vinyl records. I loved to go through them and try to find songs I knew. I never did, though. It was always bad country music.

I had to resist the temptation to go through the records in the junk store. I don't even own a record player, but I wanted them because I felt close to him, like he was working around the corner. I was starting to blubber, and Buckaroo was squirming, so we blinkingly stepped back out into the bright light of the sidewalk festival, and that's where we saw Doula Mom and family. She led the way to the tarot cards.

So, it was with that energy surrounding me that Roseanne read my cards, and the reading that she gave me (see below) fit perfectly into my past: Three years ago I wasn't speaking to my dad, but we did eventually work through it, and then I got preggie, and my dad was so excited and called me all the time to talk about it. Plus, the major crossroads: Whether or not we moved to New England. There you have it.

Ah, it's all a lot of rubbish anyway, right?

Now, you're probably wondering about the above photo? Buckaroo and I had dinner (turns out Buckaroo is a fan of zucchini, yay!), ice cream, and a walk with our FMF today, and we passed wild concord grape vines. It looked more like a tree, really, and at first I didn't realize they were grapes because they're so big, but they're not translucent at all. They looked solid like green marbles. I was told that they get bigger and purpler in the fall. Our FMF didn't see what the big deal was.
Also, the blackberries out here are tiny dots, but I don't have a photo of those.

August 3, 2008

Day Twelve: The Pickity Place & a Party

Ok, so I'm giving Band Girl's Mom a new name, even though it's confusing, because she really is her own person, so from now on she's Doula Mom-- also, that's easier to write.
This is Doula Mom with Buckaroo in the garden at The Pickity Place after we had the most scrumptious lunch. Doula Mom invited me there to see the herb gardens, have some lunch, and check out the house on which the first illustration of Little Red Riding Hood was based.
They have Grandma's room all set up, complete with a wolf in the bed.

For lunch we ate:
herby vegetable soup (Buckaroo's fave)
bread with molasses ginger butter
crackers with sun dried tomato and herb spread
green salad with spicy-ish, herby ranch
fettuccine with spinach, olives, and herbs
scone with strawberries and lemon flavored whipped cream and mint
Also, spiced tea.
Lots of herbs. Yum, and they all come from the plethora of herb gardens, through which we later meandered. I was very excited to see a berry bush similar to one we have growing near the lake, and I asked loudly if anyone knew what it was (I've been asking everyone around the lake, and no one could tell me). A very nice gentleman told me that it's a honeysuckle. I've never seen a honeysuckle like it, but apparently it's quite the invasive, non-native nightmare in New England. Too bad, though. It's so purty.

Here I am in front of the honeysuckle with Buckaroo. We also encountered a couple of froggies that splashed away when Doula Mom tried to pet them, and the teeny tiniest hummingbird I have ever seen. He was kind of red and looked like a giant bee.


It was the perfect way to begin a Sunday. Plus, Doula Mom gave me a housewarming gift of the cocktail glasses that I'd been eyeballing at Pier 1 Imports. Now R will have to work on his martini when he returns.


Buckaroo and I dashed home, changed a diaper, and hit the road again for his grampy's birthday celebration an hour and a half in the other direction. When we got there Buckaroo had a fabulous time pushing himself backward in the Fred Flinstone car, swimming in the pool with his uncle, and visiting the "woof woofs." I enjoyed a lovely cocktail concoction made with raspberry stoli, and boy did I need it after my brother-in-law told me how much I'm going to despise and detest the New England winter, and how I'm never going to last.

My friend Doula Mom, though, says she never goes out in the snow in the winter, and she doesn't even own snow boots. She just spends her time at the mall. This could work for me. Maybe I could snow shoe myself to the mall.

And that is the end of our day

August 2, 2008

Day Eleven: The Tarot Twist


Today was the "Experience Gardner" festival-sidewalk sale thingy, and I had my tarot cards read by Roseanne. I asked if I was going to be happy living in Massachusetts (in my head, not out loud), and this is what she said:
I'm having trouble with an authority figure who is unhappy with his/her own life and is taking it out on me. It's going to be a long struggle, but it will pass. Hmm. . .
I'm going to have a windfall. Yay!
I'm going to have another baby-- I laughed when she said that, but she looked at me very seriously, and said, "It's right here: fertility card on top of motherhood." When I told R about the baby he said, "Maybe she meant a baby dog." I am happily sending my surplus of baby energy back to California for my friends who can really use it.
Although, the baby is supposed to help me work out my troubles with my authority figure, bring us closer-- so, maybe my authority figure is Cesar Millan.
I'm going to come to a crossroads and have to make a big decision-- I'm thinking this might happen just before the March thaw: Should I stay or should I go?
And then I forked over my fiver.
I've had several people, just this week, tell me that the winters here are hell on ice and that they are moving south as soon as they can sell out. It's a bit frightening.
R says he's never leaving, and he hopes I won't leave either, but R has never spent a winter in this Adam's apple of the woods, so he could change his mind. Or I may end up becoming a champion ice hockey player. Stranger things have happened, I'm sure.
There were other adventures today, but I have to save them for another time as I'm in the middle of The Last Summer (of You and Me), and it's beckoning me from the couch.

August 1, 2008

Day Ten: That's a Wrap

Well, I wish it was a wrap. I mean I'm ready for everyone to come home now. This whole alone-time in the woods has been muy muy inspirational. I've laughed, I've cried, I've read some books, and had a cocktail or two-- yes, all by myself. Don't judge me.

Today I realized that, 1: It's August, and summer is almost over. The baby maples on the walk to the mailbox are starting to get rusty tops. 2: R and Sweet Potato will not be home for another two weeks, Obo in three, and by that time there's just a sliver of summer pie left to enjoy.

I'm not, though, ready to start cooking dinners again. Maybe that is my cosmic karma: If I cook it, they will come, but I'm not cooking a dagnabbed thing, which is why I bought myself a veggie wrap for lunch today.

Wraps are a hot item out here. Every where I go someone's got a wrap. Don't get me wrong, I like a wrap as much as the next person, and they might as well do something with those tortillas because ain't nobody making Mexican food. I just think it's an odd little cultural quirk, and I don't know why they're not so big in California. I imagine that if I moved from here to the West Coast, I would probably miss the wraps.

I don't think I've mentioned though, there is no Juice Squeeze out here. Juice Squeeze: 70% juice, 30% carbonated water, what's not to love? How I miss it. I've tried to recreate it at home, but it's not the same.

Also, I did not know that hummus could also be spelled hommus. It says so right there in the Market Basket. I had some hommus on my wrap today. So tasty!