September 29, 2008
Here's the thing: R starts his new job on Wednesday, commuting about an hour each way. I figure he'll leave at 6:45 a.m. and be home by 6:15 p.m., on a good day. It's a humongous change from the five minute commute he had in California.
Here's the other thing: I never wanted to be a home owner. When I was growing up I couldn't understand why anyone would own a home when it would be so much more fun to travel all over the world. Later, when I learned about inflation and cost of living increases, and all that boring stuff, I thought maybe owning a home might not be such a bad idea.
Meanwhile, I was waiting for my life to start. My life will begin when. . . I'm out of college, I start my career, I get married, I get married again (you know how it is), when I get published, and finally, when I own a home. Sometimes I would have to be quiet and remind myself, "This is my life. Right now, I'm living it." I could never quite believe myself, though.
So here I am, beginning the rest of my life on Wednesday.
There was a kid on a leash at the Mystic Aquarium-- Sweet Potato argues vehemently that such things should be illegal, but there he was-- and his leash was a toy. He was all strapped up with a little stuffed monkey on his shoulder, and the monkey's tail became the tether to the boy's mama.
Is that me? Am I tethered to this beautiful house on a lake? Is it not so bad if the leash keeps me close to R?
I know I'm a whiner. Waah Waah. I've got so many thankfuls, too. Here are a few:
Sweet Potato loves school
Everything is turning red and yellow
The skies are blue
The lake is calm
My impatiens are still blooming
My husband found a job and we bought a house in this insane economy!
We're all healthy
I'm about to eat freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
September 28, 2008
R and I took Buckaroo to the Mystic Aquarium where the belugas are plentiful. Here are a few things I learned about them:
Belugas like to hang out in shallow water, which is troublesome for them because of the stinky pollution. It causes them cancer.
Beluga caviar does not come from the whale; it comes from a sturgeon.
The babies are usually gray when they're born.
Their main predator is the polar bear, who attacks when the belugas are trapped between floes.
It's a tough life for a whale.
We stood at the deck and watched the whales for a long time while Buckaroo sang, "Baby Booga" over and over. They're very friendly and chatty, dolphinesque.
And thinking of friendly, R and I have decided that Buckaroo is here to teach us a lesson in social skills. The boy is gregarious. He says "Hi!" to everyone who walks past, and he'll climb into the lap of any sitting mama or tug the pants of any daddy. He's been known to hug unsuspecting strangers. We meet so many people these days.
We've all returned to The Woods, including Sweet Potato who says she carved out some time to watch the presidential debate and thinks that Obama was far and away the winner.
September 27, 2008
We dilly dallied around Friday; read, shopped, napped. Buckaroo is enjoying the beach house we rented, a late season deal. He especially enjoys turning the TV on and off and trying to make a break for the wet outdoors.
We took advantage of a short break in the rain to explore the beach, about 150 feet from our front door. Buckaroo did not enjoy the wind and after two minutes announced, “All done!” We dragged him down the shoreline, though, and I couldn’t believe how many shells there were. It was a seagull's buffet. We also saw several (dead, unfortunately) horseshoe crabs, which I think should be called helmet crabs as that’s what their backs resemble. R says they’re not crabs at all, but part of the arachnid family— which makes me shudder violently— whatever they are, we don’t have them in California.
They have a long sword (or tail) out the back, which we thought they used to stake their enemies, but it’s actually a rudder and helps them flip when flopped.
Meanwhile, Sweet Potato is living the high life in the big city-- more about her after she’s been fetched on Sunday.
September 24, 2008
The first show, Godspell, will be performed in January.
And speaking of music, my days of listening to my songs are over. Buckaroo made it very clear today, on the long ride home from the grocery store, that he prefers upbeat tunes, especially those that repeat the word baby often. He insisted on a loop of "Take Me or Leave Me" from the Rent soundtrack all the way home. I'm going to have to make him his own iPod playlist.
R and I are taking Buckaroo to Cape Cod tomorrow to celebrate our soft landing on the East Coast while Sweet Potato is Brooklyn bound to celebrate her aunt's wedding. I'll probably be blogless for a few days, but I'll leave you with this happy little quote from my mom regarding home ownership: "You'd better get yourself a nice little sledge hammer and a pair of safety goggles."
Darcy: Pretty enough, I grant you.
Darcy: You will find the society something savage.
Bingley: Country manners? I think they're charming.
Darcy: Then you better take it.
Bingley: Thank you. I shall. I shall close with the attorney directly.
The first picture was taken on Monday evening. The four of us rowed (well, R did the actual rowing) out to the islands and munched on the plethora of blueberries growing there. Unfortunately, a blueberry past its season is super seedy and not very sweet.
September 22, 2008
American River, Auburn, Calif.
I realize now that I was bitter about so many things, divorce and the end of my only-child days included. I focused all my bitterness on the town, though, and it stuck for a long, long time. I guess I'm a girl who holds a grudge-- even a misplaced one.
If you ever drive to Auburn, just before you get to Old Town and the giant statue of gold miner Claude Chana, there's a spot where the train trestle crosses the freeway, and it feels like the gateway to the city. One day long after I'd moved to the Bay Area, I was driving to the foothills for a visit, and when I saw the trestle, my whole body sighed, and I thought, "Ah, I'm home." Just like that, no warning, I forgave the town all of its ugly sins (real or imagined) and went all nostalgic.
I've been toodling around Massachusetts, enjoying the changing colors and the quiet lakes, starting to recognize people's faces. More and more often I'm able to find my way without the help of GPS. I have friends. This isn't so bad, I keep repeating to myself.
The homesickness hits unexpectedly, like any grief. Today I received a postcard photograph of the Auburn train trestle, taken from the highway-- from behind the windshield, I think-- just as it looks when I'm on my way home. My mom sent it. I was returning from buying Sweet Potato a new dress, and I stopped to check the mail. I saw that stretch of highway, and I was back there, almost home, anxious to stop at Taco Tree for my two bean burritos and small rootbeer. And then it was so far away.
I sat in the car and cried while Buckaroo munched on his french fries in his car seat and read The Big Hungry Bear. It was a brief burst of tears, mostly because I know the neighbors now, and I don't really want them to see me crying in front of the mailboxes again.
I wonder if there will be a time I'll see a landmark in The Woods and feel like it's signalling home.
September 20, 2008
The farms aren't just for food now, though. They're a huge source of entertainment for the people of the woods: Pick-your-own berries, pumpkins, apples-- depending on the season-- bog tours, tractor rides, hay rides, corn mazes, Christmas trees, wine tasting, walking trails, gift shops, bakeries, and food contests. One farm even boasts a state-of-the-art milking parlor. It makes me giggle to think of the jersey cows sipping tea cross-legged in the parlor, waiting a turn to give milk.
Afterward we ordered take-out from the Thai restaurant down the road. My idea of the perfect day.
September 19, 2008
Today, taking that same circuitous route to the hair salon (where I got a fancy new do), I passed a rafter of wild turkeys-- that's what the group is called, a rafter; I had to look that up-- and stopped to watch them comb the grass in front of the farm house. At first I was mystified because the birds are long and sleek with their feathers flat and don't look much like the cartoons I know.
Here's what I've learned about the bird, from Wiki of course:
They're much smarter than their domestic cousins; It's probably best that the cousins be a bit slow anyway, given their fate.
They are agile fliers and usually fly low for no more than a quarter mile.
The males are polygamous, and usually have a harem of five hens. Lucky boys.
They mate and are hunted in the spring. Wild turkey hunting is quite a racket, apparently.
Here's my favorite part-- According to Wikipedia, no one's sure if Ben Franklin publicly advocated for the wild turkey as our national bird, but he was not at all happy with the choice of an eagle. Here's a letter to his daughter:
"For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.
With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country...
I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America... He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on."
I never knew the Bald Eagle was a thief. It seems that instead of calling me a turkey, Grandma should have said, "You little Bald Eagle!" whenever I pilfered her sweets.
September 18, 2008
September 16, 2008
Behind our house is The Woods. In the woods we have a composting bin, and because I'm lazy I often end up dragging my sorry bum up the hill, full bucket o' scraps in hand, late, late at night.
Before I continue, let me just say that it's incredibly dark here at night. You know the kind of dark when you're camping, and you have to pee in the middle of the night, but it's so dark you can't see your feet, so you just decide to hold it 'til dawn? It's that dark.
I don't take a flashlight with me up the hill, though, because I'd have to get it out of the closet, and the bin's just that side of the trees, and I just dash in and dash out.
So tonight I head up the hill, squint into the darkness and see nothing, so I lift the compost lid, toss in a moldy watermelon, and turn toward the house. That's when I hear it: the giant growl of a big, hungry bear.
Oh, did I run. There was no thinking involved. Down the hill, down the steps, up the back porch, listen listen listening for the stomp of paws behind me, smack the screen door and in the house.
Inside, I was all a-flutter. My legs were wobbly, but I managed to zip to the window and turn on the stadium light R's parents installed for just this occasion, waiting for a glimpse of the beasty.
You're probably wondering about the storybook picture? It's one of Buckaroo's top five faves right now, and I've got the whole thing memorized. Buckaroo's favorite page is: "BOOM BOOM BOOM the Big Hungry Bear will stomp through the forest on his big hungry feet and SNIFF SNIFF SNIFF find the strawberry. . . " I have to read those lines to him at least ten times before I'm allowed to turn the page. I get to the sniffing, and he signs for more, more more.
The great thing about the story, if you don't know it, is that the bear doesn't really exist, and that's my favorite part. He's just a ploy to get the mouse to share his red, ripe strawberry. That's what I'm thinking about while I'm staring wide-eyed into the night from my bedroom window watching for the flash of eyeballs, and that's when it hits me: The sound I heard wasn't the growl of a bear at all; it was the sound of the lid on the compost bin closing slowly, dragging itself against the inside of the bin, pushing out the air as it shut-- very growly-like.
No bear, just like the story, but I couldn't convince my knees. They shook for ten minutes. So, I think I'll take a flashlight next time.
September 15, 2008
Saturday night R and Buckaroo were having some nakey bottom time on the lake (Buckaroo's nakey botom not R's) while I napped. I woke up and went down there just in time to see an osprey diving in the water for fish. The fish were jumping like crazy, so when we heard the loud splash we thought a really big fish was leaping, but then we saw this huge bird heave itself out of the water empty-clawed and shrug his shoulders to shake the water. We watched him dive again, and this time he came up with a fish and flew up the mountain toward the trail we just hiked a few days ago.
We bought a car from R's parents. I have concerns about its lack of four wheel drive, but R doesn't, and he's the one who's going to be driving it. R and Sweet Potato drove it home last night and agreed that it was a smooth ride.
Too bad we can only drive it east.
September 13, 2008
Anyway, back to the poison sumac: I read that it's fairly rare, only shows up in swampy areas, although there are plenty of those around here, and its berries are much different from the regular (staghorn) sumac.
The leaves of both turn red in autumn and drop in winter, and then all that's left are the berries. I like the staghorn best at this stage, at least in the photos-- adds some color to the dreary landscape.
September 12, 2008
Sarah Palin, regarding her stance on climate change:
"Show me where I have ever said that there's absolute proof that nothing that man has ever conducted or engaged in has had any effect or no effect on climate change," Palin told ABC News in an interview broadcast Thursday and Friday. "I have not said that."
Courtesy of Yahoo News
Doesn't she sound a lot like Shrek's Pinocchio being interrogated by Prince Charming?
Prince Charming: So you do know where he is!
Ah, it makes me chuckle.
Yesterday Puppy Boy's mama invited us all to hike up the mountain (it's a small mountain) behind our lake. The north side of the lake is undeveloped, with a trail that leads to a flat granite boulder where there's a beauteous view of the water. Our beach is down there on the right.
Sweet Potato brought along salt and vinegar chips, and she and Puppy Boy wrestled for them all the way up the mountain and down while they discussed Australopithecus Afarensis. Buckaroo had the easiest ride, on R's back.
I examined all of the new and interesting goodies along the way. One of my favorite trees is the birch when its trunk is all silver. It looks like a disrobing prom queen. I had no idea there were so many types of birch trees. I thought they were all the same birch turning colors during its different stages-- until just now when I Wikied it.
We've also spotted all different kinds of berried plants, and Buckaroo tries to eat them. He thinks everything is a blueberry these days, even tomatoes. We keep telling them they're bird berries, but he insists they're edible. These berries turn dark purple, aubergine even. No idea what they are.
While we were up there on the mountain, we heard big loud animal crashes, and some of our party wanted hang out and see if we could spot a moose. I thought we might spot a bear instead, so we moved along.
R has been searching for teaberry leaves since we arrived as he says one can make a tasty tea from the leaves, and we finally found it. The plant we found didn't have any berries, though. It took me a long time to decide that it smelled just like kindergarten paste. I always did want to eat that stuff.
Puppy Boy and his mama said the broken branch of an ash smelled like rootbeer, but R and I thought it was more minty.
September 10, 2008
In one of the houses we rented I had a walk-in closet that I loved. It had been a bathroom at one time and still had the medicine cabinet on one wall where I stored all of my treasures. There was also a loose baseboard where I stashed my dollars on the rare occasion that I had any.
All of my toys were in there, too: board games, Simon, a million stuffed animals, including the giant dolls my Nana Pat made that looked like my parents. It was dark in there, but I didn't mind the dark back then. It was hot, too. It was the only place I could go and work my imaginary magic uninterrupted until dinner time-- most days. I felt protected.
When I told Sweet Potato this tale she said, "You must have been a challenged child."
I'm not a fan of the closet anymore. I'm happiest in the sunlight, as I think I've mentioned. Most of my favorite spots in the home as an adult have been near a window looking out on the passersby. I think this means I'm growing, like a plant. Also, I'm a reader now, which requires light.
So that got me thinking about my favorite place in my new home. I don't have one. It makes me restless. I need to create a nook for myself, and I need to create it soon. R and I should be proud homeowners by next week, though, and then I'm going to bring in the light. Until then, I have the beach.
In other news: Today Buckaroo and I found a giant consignment store for children's clothes. They even have Sweet Potato's size. I bought Buckaroo his Halloween costume, too, and he's going to be a skunk. Sweet Potato said we should let him trick-or-treat in his stinky diaper.
Oh, and I've got my first nasturtium bloom! It looks like an orange pterodactyl head.
September 9, 2008
R and I have been discussing siding. I know it's practical, but I don't like vinyl siding. It turns out that what I do like is only seen on 200-year-old barns that have been left to their own devices.
September 7, 2008
R and I took Buckaroo to the Unitarian Church for the first time. The church is huge, the congregation is small, and Buckaroo made a heap o' noise. I cringed as he ran up and down the empty pews and shouted, "Bye bye" to the people, but then the minister paused her sermon to say how nice it was to have a little one in the sanctuary to remind us what it's really about. Shew.
I don't follow the news very closely-- mostly I just read the election headlines-- since my dad died I don't like to hear about the violence. My old therapist (have I mentioned that I miss her?) said it's a symptom of post traumatic shock. Every ugly, senseless thing takes me back to a highway in Alabama and what I imagine happened there. This is one of the many reasons I avoid TV altogether-- had my share of real-life drama.
This is why I didn't hear about the shooting at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville TN-- until today. I thought I misunderstood the minister when she mentioned it. Two people were killed for believing what I believe-- in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. That's all I have to say about that right now.
In happier news: R bought a wake board, sort of like a surf board for skiing, and I pulled him behind the boat for the first time ever. First he pulled me, and it was magical out there. The sky was cloudy pink, there was a sliver moon above me, and the water was not too cold. Then it was his turn, and I couldn't see what he was doing but Sweet Potato and her friend were ooh-ing and aahh-ing at his tricks, so I think he had fun, too.
Now I'm off to make a cake for the UUs to deliver to the homeless shelter tomorrow. Tootle loo.