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Showing posts from August, 2008

The lawn gods are laughing at me

We bought a second-hand mower when we moved into our home two years ago. It cost $60 and broke the second time we started it up. A friend fixed it, but when he delivered it back to me he asked, "How much did you pay for this piece of shit?" He basically had to overhaul it -- replace the starter, spark plugs, and rip cord, as well as balance and sharpen the blade. It has done a schlocky, crooked mow job for two full summers, and just before our vacation, sputtered its last. I could call the same friend, but I'm embarrassed to ask him to re-fix this pile of junk. And I figure it got us as far as we had planned, anyway.

So, figuring we only have, what, one or two mows left this season, I asked a neighbor-friend if any of her three sons could mow for us -- of course we'd pay him. Her reply was a bit more terse and tense than I'd anticipated -- because school started last week, they just don't have any time for mowing lawns.

OK, fine. So we could borrow someone'…

A Letter to My Son on the Night I Decided to Vote for Change...and Hope

Dear Hayden, It’s late, the end of a long wonderful day. So I’m tired. But I can’t sleep. I feel energized and excited and happy. Because I just watched Barack Obama give an amazing speech accepting the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. I feel more optimistic than I have in a long time, and I had to sit down immediately to write to you so someday you can read first-hand how important this night is—for me, for you, for this country. I hope Senator Obama will be our next president, someone you will come to know and respect as you grow up, someone your own children and grandchildren will learn about in history class. But if he doesn’t win this election, he will still be remembered in history as the first black nominee for President.
As I watched the speakers at this week’s DNC, my mind kept going back to my mother, your grandmother, who would have been completely over the moon to have witnessed this. Her generation fought hard for civil rights for blacks and women…

Don't believe the hype about Twilight

After reading some articles about the frenzy stirred up by the fourth and final in the Twilight series, I decided to read the first book, Twilight (Stephenie Meyer, 2005). And as usual I can't figure out what the fuss is about. I hate that, when I pick up a book because the buzz is that the author is "the next JK Rowling." Silly TallGirl, when will you learn!

This YA tale of a teenage girl who falls in love with a teenage vampire is nothing like I'd expected from all the hype surrounding it. I was expecting intense romance and suspenseful action. But no. Instead there is way too much corniness like "and when he looked at me, my heart stopped/quickened" or "he dazzled me with his smile" or "I'm trying not to hyperventilate" for my tastes. I wanted to yell, "OK we get it! He's gorgeous and undead, and you're into him, and he's into you (though I can't understand why)." In fact, I didn't really get intereste…

I shit you not

Some of you may recall me talking about a relatively new friend who lives up the street and who who hurt my feelings last summer when she told me my son was too rough to play with her son. We took a yearlong play-break but have recently reconciled (mostly). My son adores her son, and we just returned from the boy's birthday party. And any hard feelings I've been harboring this past year are quickly dissipating. Because my son just shit on their playset.

That's right, sports fans. Due to an unforeseen conglomeration of novice-parent choices (I'm chalking it up to half a can of mandarin oranges for breakfast, three organic tangerine juice boxes and a bowl full of blueberries at the party, and a worthless pull-up diaper), Sweet Boy had a brief-yet-powerful bout of diarrhea while playing. And before he or I knew what was happening, there was a big ol' puddle of watery poo at the top of the birthday boy's fancy slide and a couple of kids yelling "ewww!" Yi…

"Listening to our hopes instead of our fears"

Well, Mrs. O didn't disappoint. Here is a link to the transcript and video of Michelle Obama's keynote address to the DNC last night, in case you missed it, and in case you have like 15-20 minutes to kill.

If you don't have time to watch or read the full speech, here's the tidbit that got my attention. (And judging from the teary eyes around the convention hall, it got many).

Millions of Americans who know that Barack understands their dreams; that Barack will fight for people like them; and that Barack will finally bring the change we need.And in the end, after all that's happened these past 19 months, the Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago. He's the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital ten years ago this summer, inching along at a snail's pace, peering anxiously at us in the rearview mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands, determined to give her everything he'…

Funny things my kid said this week

*These skibido bites are really itching me!

* I don't want to drink this orange juice because it has some funky fur in it. (meaning, pulp)

* You know, Mommy, if you put this cup over your weenie, you won't get any pee-pee in the tub.

* [while riding in the car around Mt. Desert Island]
Happy: Did you see the goose, Voo?
Voo: No, what did it look like?
Happy: It was white with white fur and white face and red eyes.
Voo: Oh, interesting...where did you see it?
Happy: Right out there...chasing the alligator. And the lion. It said "aw-aw-aw" and ate the lion right up.
Voo: Wow. I can't believe I missed that?
Happy: It's ok, Voo. I tell you 'bout it tomorrow.

Mrs. Obama's a tall girl, too

Am I the only nerd out there who can't wait to sit in front of the boob tube watching the Democratic National Convention this week? Move over Olympics! I am still not a 100% Obamaniac (although I will vote for him because no way in heck could I vote for McCain...especially if Mitt Romney becomes his running mate...shivers), so I'm sitting on the couch and watching the convention, hoping to get excited.

It's obvious that the DNC is reaching out to those of us who really wanted to see Hillary in the White House -- there are a whole lotta women on the speaking docket. Anyway, here's a quick rundown of the speakers:
Monday -- Nancy Pelosi, Michelle Obama, President Carter, Jesse Jackson Jr.
Tuesday -- Hillary Clinton, Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, Governor Janet Napolitano of Arizona, and Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts
Wednesday -- Bill Clinton, Bill Richardson, John Kerry, Joe Biden
Thursday -- Barack Obama (in a stadium!)

I'm looking forward to hearing Mic…

The sob-fest

My eyes are puffy today. Not because of my recently diagnosed dry-eye -- a condition that I still cannot mention with a straight face -- but because I had a complete sob-fest last night, brought on when I looked at one of the cut-out hands that I put in Sweet Boy's bday thank you cards.

It flashed across my mind that I had not traced and cut out his hand for his 1 or 2yo birthdays. And the tears just burst out of my otherwise overdry eyeballs. Uncontrollably. someone had just died. It was right before bed, too, and Big Daddy was all wtf about it (which I don't fault him for...he tried to console me, but the only words I could eke out were "his...little... hands! Won't...get that...back!" and I know when he saw the cut-out hand in my hand, he thought, uh oh, irrationality alert!), so I ended up sitting in the sunroom in the dark crying until I couldn't breathe anymore.

As I write this, I'm cringing now at the pitifulness of the scene. So pit…

Beer pong a sport?

This week's Time magazine contains an amusing article about beer pong, one of my favorite college past-times. I'm not sure the article was intended to be funny, but really, it is. Very funny. These hard core beer pongers are claiming that they are playing beer pong in tournaments because, um, beer pong is a legitimate sport. My question to you, pongers: Are you sure it's not because you're a 20-something college graduate who can't figure out what to do with your life (or maybe you can't find an actual job in today's non-recessionary job market), so you are just trying to justify your prolonged partying by tying some monetary prize to it?

My favorite quote, by far, is this one, from Billy Gaines, the co-founder of the official beer pong website, which also hosts the World Series of Beer Pong:

"Beer pong is severely misunderstood. It's a sport. It just happens to involve alcohol. People are not playing the game to get drunk but because they love the ch…

Hooray for the 30-something mommy gymnast!

I, like many others, have been watching the Beijing Olympics here and there over the last 2 weeks, mostly following Michael Phelps, the teeny-tiny American gymnasts, and more recently the sprinting events (how I envy them!).

I'm a few days late in mentioning this particular head-turner, but I'm still thinking about the silver medalist in the women's vault competition, which took place Sunday. I was really touched by the story of Oksana Chusovitina, at first because of her endurance in a sport dominated by teenagers (and pre-teens, a-hem, China), but then struck by her personal triumph-over-tragedy story.

Chusovitina started competing at the age of 13 for then-USSR (she has been competing at the Olympic level for 20 years!), but when her young son was diagnosed with leukemia in 2002, she could not get treatment for him in Uzbekistan, so she reached out to international gymnastics contacts for help. A German coach heard her call and offered to help, so Chusovitina moved her fa…

PS on the energy crisis

I hate to complain about money and bills, and some of you, dear friends, bear the brunt of my whining. I love you for being patient and kind. And I'm sorry that I talk of bills and budgets all the time. How boring!

So next time I'm writing out giant checks, I'm going to try to remember this quote that I read somewhere a couple years ago (when we moved into this house and I realized that in order to pay the mortgage AND the daycare bill, we were going to have to make many sacrifices):

If money is your only problem, then it's not a problem at all -- merely an inconvenience.

I'm not sure who said it, but it's definitely true. My family is healthy, we have many blessings, and really, I have no problems, just inconveniences. And wouldn't life be boring without such matters?

My personal energy crisis

Time for me to spew some rage about the state of things in my pocketbook:

I just spent 45 minutes on the phone with Delmarva Power and Horizon Power, our "third-party energy supplier," trying to figure out why my electric bill went from $250 in July 2008 (which is already about $100 higher than July 2007) to $400 in August. WTF?! In this time bouncing between Delmarva and Horizon, on hold and trying to decipher multiple accents and speech problems, I received quite an education about what all that babble on the three pages of our bill actually means.

So here's the deal: Our usage is up about 500 kwh in August for some unknown reason (faulty, old, inefficient a/c is most likely culprit), so that's nothing that the power companies can control. However, I learned that Horizon, the supplier (Delmarva just owns the lines and acts as our electricity distributor) charges a variable rate each month per kwh. This past month's was 19 cents/kwh...compared to Delmarva's 11…

Time to go home

I'm sitting here at 11:30 pm, the last night in Bar Harbor. Everyone's asleep. Sweet Boy looked at me in the car on the way back to the house, after I asked him to stay awake until we got home, "but I had such a good day, and I'm so tired, I want to just sleep a little bit here." Gotcha, kiddo. I feel the same way. It was a good day, and I'm so tired. But I don't really want to go to sleep because when I wake up, vacation will be over. And we were just starting to have fun! (Not to mention, I don't even want to think about the 14-hour car ride...oh, my aching back.)

Today was the best weather day we've had all week, so we crammed in as much of Acadia as we could handle. Which really wasn't much, but it was good for us: Cadillac Mountain summit, Otter Point, Otter Cove, a quick drive around the Park Loop road, then into Somesville to visit the Port in the Storm bookstore (which we've driven by hundreds of times before, and I always say I wan…

Mommy and Sweet Boy's day of fun!

Of course the morning that I had the most fun this whole week, I didn't take my camera. But it's ok! Because I stopped often and said "Self, remember this moment and lock it away."

Sweet Boy and I got up early this morning and headed down to Bar Harbor, just the two of us and the jogging stroller and our raincoats, to walk on Shore Path. The fog was so thick that not only could you not see more than, oh, 30 feet ahead of you, but the air was actually wet. Serious downeast Maine weather. I love it.

Shore Path is exactly that: A mile-long path that ambles from the pier in Bar Harbor all along the shoreline. You pass the Bar Harbor Inn, which is a place I will stay someday after I write my bestselling novel and have lots and lots of money, and you walk by some amazing waterfront mansions. (This is a place with serious old money. The Rockefellers actually funded most if not all of Acadia's infrastructure before it was a National Park.) The best part of this trail is no…

Tidal pool memoriam

Wednesday was a good day...once I got through my meltdown over the turtle walk being full. Don't ask; I'm hoping that memory melts away. Let's just say, sometimes while trying to keep your father, your son, and your husband all happy at the same time, your own happiness gets sacrificed. (But I'm preaching to the choir, I'm sure!)

Around mid-afternoon, I hiked down to our family's little tidal pool spot, near Blackwoods Campground and across from Otter Point, with my brother and my dad. It's a place that my family has been visiting since my mother and her brothers were children, and although we have many happy memories there, we also have some sad ones, too. This is the place we scattered my mother's ashes 11 years ago, so it's a bittersweet sojourn that we make every time we're here in Acadia. We don't have a headstone to visit, which is the way my mom wanted it to be, so this is the next best thing, I suppose. Honestly, my brother and I didn…

Bar Harbor rain-tacular

I woke up this morning to the most rain falling from the sky as I've ever seen. And it's cold. Not exactly January-cold, but certainly not August-warm. Probably won't get out of the 60s today, and the rain is supposed to continue on. And on. And on. Which is harrowing to this mommy of an active 3-year-old...what the heck are we going to do today?

Yesterday was a good day, all in all, though we really didn't do very much. And it's looking like we won't be doing much today, either. But then I ask myself, why do you have to do stuff constantly when on vacation? Ah. You see. This is the conundrum of this entire week. I'm vacationing with my father, who cannot sit still, ever. (My dad wants also to re-create good memories...I'll get to that another time.) And my husband, who really only wants to sit still, always. Throw in a child who needs constant stimulation, yet still naps in the afternoon, and you've got yourself one crazy vacation stew. To me the pe…

Thunder Holing

Monday morning we were slow getting out the door. But we finally made it into Acadia N.P. around 11:00. Cloudy skies and fog made for poor visibility off the coast, but the rain held off and the air stayed warmish, so we made a go. First stop, as always, Thunder Hole, a groovy little outcropping of rocks that gets its name because about an hour before high tide, the waves crash into it so hard you can hear the boom from about 500 yards away (not because of it's flatulence after a spicy meal, as my husband would want you to believe). Oh, and it splashes pretty nicely, which was a hit when we were kids. (I found a video post on YouTube that shows what it should look like, if you watch toward the end. Don't be scared, though, or think I'm a horrible parent for taking my kid down there. We were there at low tide on a fairly clear day, so the rocks off to the left of the stairs were all uncovered. And there were no big boomer waves.)

Thunder Hole has been neatly cordoned off wit…

Acadia bound

We drove for about 8 hours from New Bedford to Bar Harbor, Maine, yesterday -- me, Big Daddy, Sweet Boy, and Voo...and all our luggage, swimsuits, groceries, DVD player, Playstation, laptop, toys, jogging stroller, chairs, tennis rackets, and hiking shoes. (I swear that car-top carrier that I bought off Craigslist is the best $25 I ever spent!) By the time we arrived, I think we were all done with togetherness for a while...but we rallied long enough to eat at Pancho Villa's down in town. I have been dreaming of their tableside guacamole since last summer.

We're here in Maine, in a rented house outside Acadia National Park, for a week. I'm hopping online now to do some research to find things to do that we've never done before...which will be hard to do because I've been coming here every few years with my family since before I could speak. This is the first time I'll be here with a 3yo boy, though, so I hope to find some new adventures to share with him.

Since w…

On the road north

Well, here I sit, in a mediocre hotel room in Massachusetts, awaiting our dinner-date with my aunt and cousins. After about 8 hours in the car with my dad, husband, and son, I'm grateful for a little quiet time with my dear friend, Laptop. Hello, Laptop, how I've longed for your glow.

I can't believe this place with the water-stained walls, the basement-musty smelling a/c unit, and the burn holes in the bedcovers has complimentary wireless, but I'm thrilled. Also thrilled that there's a pool in which Big Daddy and Sweet Boy can play a little while. Ahh...quiet.

This evening we'll be in New Bedford, my dad's hometown nicknamed "the whaling city" because it was once home to the whaling industry. (It's the city that inspired Moby Dick, which I have never read, but its full text lives on the web, so I really should check it out one of these days.) New Bedford is a working class city right on the water, between Boston and Cape Cod, with rich ethnic a…

Let's hear it for the gorillas

I read this on Yahoo News a couple days ago, and it made my heart leap:Report: 125,000 gorillas found in African zone
Wildlife researchers said Tuesday that they've discovered 125,000 western lowland gorillas deep in the forests of the Republic of Congo, calling it a major increase in the animal's estimated population.
The Wildlife Conservation Society, based at New York's Bronx Zoo, and the Republic of Congo said their census counted the newly discovered gorillas in two areas of the northern part of the country covering 18,000 square miles.Previous estimates, dating to the 1980s, put the number of western lowland gorillas at less than 100,000. But the animal's numbers were believed to have fallen by at least 50 percent since then due to hunting and disease, researchers said. The newly discovered gorilla population now puts their estimated numbers at between 175,000 to 225,000.
Of course this doesn't mean that gorillas are out of danger, but it's a little bit of h…

Living la vida porno: A book review

I know you're going to say, um, TallGirl, this doesn't strike me as your sorta read. It's not. But in the coming months, my book club will be "discussing" (and I use that term loosely, because usually we just get together to eat, drink, and gossip about the neighbors) How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale(Jenna Jameson, 2004), so I thought I'd give it a whirl. After all, it's enriching to read stuff outside the usual fare, right?

Alas, I stopped reading this one about halfway through, and I just returned it to the library dropbox (in the hopes of avoiding the librarians' judgmental stares...that's a post for another day, for sure!). I didn't hate the book, nor was it poorly written, but I found after about 300 pages that I just didn't really care. At all. Here's the gist:
Jameson's life story is extremely predictable, but terribly sad -- lost her mom at age 2, her dad was unavailable emotionally and married a few wac…

Extreme green

I know, I know, Kermit's tag line has been used ad nauseam in recent months, but it's so true: It's not easy bein' green.

This is one of the most honest commentaries on the green movement that I've seen. Stanley Fish is old and cranky, yes, but I totally understand his point. And I agree. I mean, we all want to do what we can do to save Mother Earth, but why make yourself crazy? And how do we know that what we're doing in our day-to-day lives are actually being carried through? I speak, for instance, of our wacky, throw-everything-into-one-bin system of recycling here in my home do we know that the plastic milk jugs are being adequately separated from the green-glass wine bottles?

I say do what you can do within your financial means and comfort zone, and always be mindful of your footprint.

Extremism in any form is dangerous, even extreme green.

(Read some of the vitriolic comments to Fish's post, too...scary radical tree huggers!)


Tomato harvest

Sweet Boy learned a new joke today. It's my favorite:

"What? I can't hear you! There's a zucchini in my ear!"

HA! I never tire of this one. Just as funny with a banana, too. (Though not with cherry tomatoes, we discovered. Hmph.)

You know what else is funny? Me staring at the cherry tomato vines, which are bowed and bending and covered with these gorgeous orange-yellow beauties, scratching my head and saying, "when the heck are these little buggers going to turn red?"

Answer: Never! They're yellow tomatoes, dummy.

Good thing I stuck the plastic info card in the soil next to the plant, or we'd be waiting a loooong time for these sweet little delectables.

And who knew yellow tomatoes were so yummy? It's trite, yes, but I'm saying it anyway: They're like candy! Be proud of my self control -- most did make it into the house. I didn't just gobble 'em down in the yard.

With the big pinkish-red Brandywine tomatoes, I made some of the most…

Don't take my sunshine

I cried this morning when I dropped off Sweet Boy at preschool. I've only really broken down once before, even though he has cried pretty much every day that I've ever left him at daycare in his entire life, and it hurts me every freaking time. Usually I can shrug it off once I'm back in the car sipping my coffee, because I tell myself he's already stopped crying and is now happily immersed in silly play. Whether it's true or not, who knows?

He's verbal now, so the crying is often accompanied by streaming entreaties intense love, longing, and despair. Today he got me with this, complete with gigantic crocodile-tear sobs:

"Mommmeeeee...don't go! No, Mommy! I love you so much! When you go, I miss you! Please don't go, mommmeeee...I love you! Please don't take my sunshine away!"
How do these little brains learn so quickly just exactly what's going to break you?

I'm now tearing up again, so I'm gonna go grab a hanky.


There's a pill for that

Dreams do come true! Exercise in pill form... what will they come up with next?

Those lab mice get all the perks. And the article talks about how this would be used to treat diabetes and obesity...which is great, but just imagine all the real human applications for this pill:

Want to run a 5K next weekend, but don't want to miss today's Mad Men-athon?Need to fit into that bridesmaid dress in a couple weeks, but don't want to skip that hunk of stromboli? Cholesterol a little high, but you prefer bacon and eggs to oatmeal?And all the possible euphemistic, cliched ad slogans:
"Because sometimes you just don't want to get off the couch.""Have your cake and eat it too." "Skip the push-ups, eat the brownie.""Life is short; why walk?"I see at least one cross-marketing opportunity too:
Lunesta + Avodart + exercise pill = Never need to get out of bed again.

Get on it, drug companies. I need this pill. The world needs this pill!