July 31, 2009

Walking in a Spider Web

On foggy mornings Bella and I have to tiptoe around the spiderwebs dotting the stones surrounding the house to reach Bella's powder room. I have a feeling that on non-fogged or misty days we just don't see them and barrel right through.
Sorry little spiders.

I'm not sure, but I think these webs may come from grass spiders. It's the closest match I could find on good ol' Google. I wonder though, if they were grass spiders, wouldn't they live in the grass? We certainly don't have any of that. Yet.
This second photo is a cob web I found hanging above our dinky dam. Sweet P's preschool teacher told her (all those years ago) that the difference between a cob web and a spider web is that cob webs are abandoned; spider webs are clean and well tended. I always meant to look that one up.

King of the Lake

R wanted two things for his birthday: sunshine and an early day at work, so he could waterski or wakeboard-- I guess that's three things. He also wanted me to drive the boat, so there's four.

Well, all of his birthday wishes came true. It was a sunny day, and we spent the evening on the water, and I practiced pulling him behind the boat.

This boat driving is a bit nerve wracking. Here's how it goes: Lift up the doo-da to start the engine, start the engine, and put the doo-da down. Make sure the trim is down, and the motor is straight. Amble out so the rope is taut, but not so fast that R is skipping across the water on his nose. Keep one eyeball on Buckaroo. Watch for other boats. R yells "hit it," and I push the throttle as far as it will go.

This is where I have the most trouble: the throttle. I sort of see it as a small representation of my life in general. I'm supposed to hold the speed at 20 for the wakeboard (30 for skis), and I'm supposed to ease into the speed adjustments, so R's not lurching around all over the water back there. Unfortunately, I don't ease well, and maybe it's because I'm so busy making sure I'm not going to hit a random swimmer and that Obo is watching his dad instead of pretending to be a turtle with the beach towel, and Sweet P has got at least one finger on Buckaroo. So there's a lot of lurching-- in and out of the water.

Luckily, R is handy with a floating device and manages pretty well out there. That's kind of how our relationship goes: I lurch around from this idea to that, and sometimes slow into a major funk, and R, bless him, holds on for the ride.

I think R did enjoy his birthday, despite the lurching, the burnt grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner, and the leaning tower of cake. And if he didn't, that's ok because we're celebrating again on Sunday. One can never have too many birthdays.

July 26, 2009

Duo Tubing

There was a day when Obo refused to ride the tube with Sweet P, and she refused to ride alone. It made for more than one squabble. This weekend they chatted away happily together while the tube slid wildly across the wake. They even fell off a few times, sans tears.

It's a brand new day.

July 24, 2009

Barefoot Lake

R used to barefoot ski, and he says the lake had to be breezeless and glassy for it. That's how the lake was tonight. R doesn't barefoot anymore, although I'm not sure about his future plans, but Obo took advantage of the still water at sunset and attempted to water ski.

He didn't quite make it today, but it's supposed to hit 80 degrees tomorrow, and we're all looking forward to a day on the water. We're sure Obo will be gliding across the wake.

Obo & Sweet P, Together Again at Last

There's been a lot of giggling in the house since Sweet P returned from California yesterday. The first thing Buckaroo said to her: "You got new shoes!"

The funniest thing he's said to Obo: "Obo is my best friend, and he doesn't swim!" Not exactly true; he doesn't swim long on a chilly day.

Must toddle. Buckaroo is attacking Sweet P with Butt Paste while Obo laughs and laughs.

July 21, 2009

The Poet's Resume

One of my grandmothers sent me this today, and I had to share it. Sweet P will be horrified by my run-on sentences, but at least my use of punctuation has improved since then.
We are having a very rainy visit with Obo so far, but we're enjoying it.

July 18, 2009

Earth Measurer

There are inchworms in California, but I don't remember ever seeing one-- at least not one as perfect as this little guy hanging out on our cabana yesterday.
I didn't have as much outdoor time in California.
The first thing I learned about the inchworm is that it is one word, not two. Also, there are a heck of a lot of inchworm companies and product lines out there. Not sure why. Seems like it would make one's company sound like it was on the slower side.
Anyhoo, the inchworm's inchi-ness comes from his lack of middle legs, poor guy. He's only got legs on each end, so he's constantly scooting his tushie to catch up with himself.
He is the caterpillar of the geometer moth, which is a whole gigantic family that lives all over the place. The geometer moth got its name (geo=earth, meter=measure) because the caterpillar looks like it's measuring the earth as it trundles along.
I kind of like the idea of measuring the earth with each step; it's taking "stop and smell the roses" to a whole new level. Of course, if was a geometer moth, I'd probably stop and eat the roses. Well, I do enjoy flower petals in my salad. Yum.

July 14, 2009

Frog Heaven

There's a scene in Northern Exposure (I loved that show) where Ed sits at the bar and tells Shelly how guilty he feels about the frogs he killed when he was a boy. Shelly tells Ed to ask for God's forgiveness, so he'll still be able to go to heaven, and Ed says, "Oh . . . but what about the frogs?"

Maybe they ended up in reincarnated in The Woods. We seem to have an abundance of frogs and toads around here. Everyone knows about the peepers-- those cross-bearing harbingers of spring-- but there's also the American bullfrog, American toad, Fowler's toad (you may remember from an earlier post), Eastern Spadefoot, the gray, green, leopard, pickerel, and wood frogs. Shew.

Bella seems to think there are froggers living under the wooden ramp to our basement and fantasizes about squeezing herself under there. Fortunately for the frogs, she'll have to be content with just stuffing her nose at them.

I mentioned the rubberbandy-sounding frog we hear on our walk by the pond. That's a green frog. You can hear it here. Isn't the internet full of fabulosity?

Our farmer neighbor told R that a frog man checked out his pond and said that he was very lucky to have the pickerel frog hanging out there. That's a pickerel in the picture. Pickerels are super sensitive to pollution and will only thrive in pristine-ish waters. My tiny bit of research proves that guy right. I also discovered that the frog got its name because fishermen use it to catch pickerel, the fish.

It makes me very happy to know that our waters are so clean, as our lake feeds into our neighbor's pond.

If you have a minute, check out all of the frog calls. Some of them are incredibly bird-like; maybe that's to disguise them and keep them safe from the little Eds and Bellas of the world.

July 13, 2009

An Evening Sojourn with Bells

Buckaroo and I had a rough evening. It was due, in part, to my general grumpiness-- I dragged us around to one too many places-- and his refusal to eat much beyond fried potatoes for any meal, including tonight's dinner. As a result I needed a long walk while R wrestled Buckaroo into bedfordshire, and, as luck would have it, poor Bella Blue Sky hadn't had a decent walk all day. I decided to take the camera. I went rather wild with the effects; please forgive.

I've had complaints from more than one corner about my lack of blogging of late: slogging. I'll tell you what my problem is: TEE VEE. R and I have become completely addicted to Boston Legal. We netflix one after another and can't stop ourselves from partaking in a nightly episode or two. We used to read, write, and have conversations, but those days seem to have disappeared. Ah, well. Eventually, we will finish the entire series and squint at each other from across the room, as if to ask, "Don't I know you from somewhere?"

A little news: R has begun the search for a ski boat. We test drove a boat last week, just so I could feel the raw power of the inboard motor (R surmised correctly that a test drive would woo me toward his side of the lake in this ongoing conversation). I was nervous about driving the boat with the sales-stranger on board, since I don't quite know what I'm doing yet, but I managed to make a wake. As we were leaving the boat salesman said, "I've been selling boats for seven years, and you're the first woman I've ever seen test drive one." Shocking.

Ans total randomness: A strange thing happened today. I had an old voicemail from a friend's husband, Frog Daddy, on my cell phone this morning. He had called because he couldn't find our house-- yadda yadda yadda-- I'd forgotten about it. Normally R is the only man who calls me, so when I listened to my messages this morning and heard a man's voice, for the briefest, fleeting moment I thought it was my dad. In that sweet second my brain said with such conviction, "I knew you weren't dead!"
Isn't it strange, the tricks our minds play when we think we're paying attention?

July 9, 2009

Seeing Red & Llight Blue

Bella, our black lab, and I walk a little over a mile every day. Buckaroo is with us, but he's riding in his stroller, usually munching on rice crackers or napping. We have a loop we've come to love because it takes us past the farm, where Buckaroo admires the tractors, and then down a long woodsy road that rarely sees a car and where we can hear the bullfrogs. I don't know for sure that they're bull frogs, but they have a deep, throaty call that sounds like the strum of rubber bands against an oatmeal box.
There's only one glitch in our daily routine: Sandy. As we turn the corner in our final stretch before the road home, there's a house wherein resides one pit bull named Sandy and one beagle named Cosmo or Gizmo or Comet; you get the idea. The beagle often comes to bark and snarl but never does any harm. Sandy is tied to a runner and usually lunges and snarls from the perimeter of her yard-- stretched as far as her tether will allow.
The other day, however, Sandy (a name which happens to be shared by my mother) was not on her runner, and so we were attacked. Fortunately, the lady of the house was able to call off Sandy before she did any damage, and we all escaped uscathed, if a bit high on adrenalin, but not before I found myself screaming in a voice I didn't know I had in me.
I'm terrified of dog fights, and all of the horror stories about pit bulls certainly don't help to lessen my fears. I'm glad, or I think I'm glad, that in the thick of it Bella goes totally submissive-- belly up, as it were.
Now here's the trouble: Bella and I started walking this loop because at the end of our road, in the opposite direction, lives another snarling dog, Daisy, who is not on a runner, and who's owner is rarely home to chastize her for her bad behavior. I thought Sandy was the better bet.
Now I feel trapped. Over the last few days, R would randomly ask, "Whatchya thinkin' 'bout?" and I'd say, "pit bulls."
I've been weighing the odds: Every time I go left, Daisy chases us; One time I went right, and Sandy attacked. Daisy could do some damage, but Sandy could kill. Do I just stop walking my dog all together?
I've decided not to be paralyzed by fear, so yesterday the three of us walked the loop again, and we were not attacked. Shew. Here's something else: While walking I saw my first cardinal in The Woods. He actually crossed our path as we were listening to the deeply twanging bullfrogs. R's dad says he's never seen a cardinal here. We also spotted our first two ladybugs of the season.
I'm just not sure if these are good omens or glaring red stop signs.
One other thing: You may remember my post about the robin, how her nest fell and her eggs broke on the dock. Today R and I discovered a robin's nest on our neighbor's porch with a treasure of light blue eggs. I can't be sure that it's the same robin, of course, but who's to say that it isn't?

July 7, 2009

Squeeze Right

R and I have an expression we use when we are grumpy for no good reason: "You didn't cuddle me right."
To be fair, I have to say that we lifted this expression from a friend who told me the story of a co-worker who came to work in a huff because her boyfriend 'didn't cuddle her right' that morning. My friend told her co-worker-- and I'm paraphrasing-- to call her boyfriend immediately and tell him she was an idiot.

So, in our house, "You didn't cuddle me right," has become code for, "I'm an idiot."

A few weeks ago Buckaroo and I were dashing to Orange in search of sunlight when I spotted the above "Squeeze Right" traffic sign which I think is supposed to indicate that one must merge. I thought of our dear little expression, and it struck me so funny I nearly sprayed the windshield with Earl Grey.

Here are some other funny Massachusetts findings: They mow the medians here and have big highway signs to notify drivers that median mowing is taking place. I don't remember ever seeing median mowing in California, but maybe that's one of the reasons for all of the wildfires out there. Plus, R pointed out, there's no summer rain in California, so the median weeds aren't a-growin'.

And in a non-highway-related note: The waitstaff here will ask if you'd like your muffin toasted.
My friend Frog Mama doesn't eat her muffins any other way. I tried it and think I prefer mine microwaved; I like a soft muffin.

Finally (for now) voting days: I'm mostly peeved about this because I'm such a lazy voting bum, but I know I can't be the only one. Massachusetts has this handy little law called Prop 2 & 1/2, which means that taxpayers won't have their taxes raised more than 2 & 1/2 percent per year without voter approval. It's a great idea in theory-- except that 2 & 1/2 percent doesn't match inflation-- and as a result there are bazillions of overrides upon which we must vote again and again. I've voted more times in the last year than I had in all my time in California.

The problem with this system, in my humble and admittedly under-informed opinion, is that voter turnout is already wretchedly low, so the only people who vote for these overrides are the folks who are staunchly against them, and then they fail. I know this because I personally slept through the last voting day (I blame the evil cough syrup, nasty stuff) and as a result forgot to remind R to vote as well. Now, among other things, the schools are going to have to cut bus services or ask parents to pay for them, and I feel personally responsible. Bah! Plus, come September, I'm going to have to get off of my lazy tushie and drive Sweet P to school at some ungodly hour.

So I'll probably wake up every school morning in my grumped up state and shout, "You didn't cuddle me right!" Poor R.

July 5, 2009

Sweet Golden Sunshine

Until I moved to Massachusetts I had never cried over the weather report.
After December's ice storm I thought I could handle anything. I knew January would be ugly, and, in fact, when one of my friends told me that March was the worst month because of the mud, I girded my loins.
I moved to The Woods to live on a lake, and I just kept telling myself, "It will all be worth it in June. Just hold on 'til June. The sun will come out in June."
I figure I can quote myself because I tend to talk to myself out loud.
But then the sun didn't come out in June. It stayed gray and rainy as hell. I told myself, "We didn't get here 'til June 15, so maybe that's when it'll be sunny." Nope. Maybe Summer Solstice. Nada. Ok, then, July 1.
I am nothing if not optimistic, but July 1 came, and it was all misery out there. I spent the afternoon cursing the rain with the FMF, who is usually good for a New England pep talk, but she was just as bitter as I. However, she did make me a fabulous chicken parmesan for lunch, so I'm not complaining.
We finally got some of that finally gold, shiny stuff on Independence Day, and we could even feel it some between the 20-mile-an-hour gusts of wind. Luckily, the wind mellowed at sunset and we saw some amazing fireworks over the lake. Even Buckaroo was mesmerized, although he insisted that I cover his ears.
Today, though, was heaven. This morning I was half in that dream place, and I thought, the sun is playing dodge ball with the clouds. I could tell by the way the light and shadows shifted through the window.
We had a yummy brunch at the Harley House with Frog Mama and friends, and sat on the patio surrounded by climbing flowers of all varieties. At home we took Bella for her much needed sojourn around the neighborhood and then made sand castles on the beach with Buckaroo.
R caught a frog in a sand bucket, and then a tiny pickerel. Buckaroo was gleeful about helping them swim away.
Later, R grilled burgers, and I ate mine with goat cheese-- I'm having a bit of a love affair with the goaty stuff, and R seems to be ok with it-- we watched the sun set on the water and took an evening boat ride, once around slow, twice around fast. That seems to be our new routine.
A nearly perfect day-- but, man, it was a long, long time coming.
If nothing else, this weather has taught me to appreciate every sweet drop of sunshine. I don't think I'll ever spend a sunny day scrubbing dishes again.