Monday, August 29, 2005

Notes from the North Country

How often do you head out grocery shopping and when you ask if there's anything you can get people while you're out, end up with this list:

--two-cycle motor oil
--boxer shorts
--2-inch trailer hitch shaft
--ice cream scoop?

I would venture to say, only while on vacation at a remote lakeside cabin.

I was also informed of the problem of wax drippage from the picturesque chandeliers on the screen porch, and when I suggested small hurricane glasses, was told they do not exist. Subsequently located lantern glasses of the exact right size in the general store; unfortunately there were only four in stock. Obviously the Internet can solve this problem if the store buyer won't. I feel that I did not receive enough credit for this discovery. While I'm complaining, I'll just say that I expected a little more praise for actually locating a trailer hitch shaft of any size in an unfamiliar area. But hey.

We canoed downstream with my father-in-law and picknicked (sp?) on a big rock overlooking a waterfall. That was awesome, and I am extremely proud of my new paddling skills. That was on my birthday (thanks for the greeting, ergo) which no one remembered until we got back to the camp and my mother-in-law said sheepishly, "your parents called to wish you a happy birthday." But that's okay. And actually the kids remembered, when I got out the cupcakes at the picnic, but I shushed them because at that point it had become an experiment. Again, only on vacation.

On Saturday night my in-laws had a party and everyone had too much to drink and told a lot of jokes on the theme of male anatomy.* Only on...well, you know.

*Two guys are walking across a bridge and feel the need to relieve themselves. They walk over to the side and er, arrange themselves over the railing. One says "This water is awfully cold," and the other replies, "Yes, but it's not very deep."

Friday, August 19, 2005

Going On Hiatus

I will be in the Adirondacks until August 29, without cell coverage, Internet, dishwasher or washing machine.

Whenever I think of the word "hiatus" I think of the horrible Dr. Hicks from the early seasons of ER, who suggested that Peter Benton go on hiatus because of his many personal problems.

How many "characters" are there?

I've read two of the books on the long list for the Booker Prize, which is two more than I have usually read. I liked one (Saturday) and disliked the other (Never Let Me Go). I thought I'd go for a third, and as I perused the list I spotted In The Fold by Rachel Cusk. I've read and enjoyed other books of hers so I went to Amazon to check it out, and the editorial review contained this phrase:

"While there is little 'plot' to speak of..."

Job Opportunity

So, I get all this "Be a secret shopper" spam. (Note: a secret shopper is not one who cuts the tags off her purchases and hangs them in the closet in hopes that her husband will not notice. A secret shopper buys things with someone else's money and then fills out surveys about how nasty the sales associate was.) My question is, would I have to wear that shirt? Because the purpose of those flower appliques is, presumably, to technically cover the nipples. I cannot help feeling two things, though: 1) Those appliques look like some kind of horrible skin condition and 2) They really call attention to what they are meant to conceal.

Also, notice that this young woman cannot even point without her male companion's assistance.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

This Is Awesome

100 Things About Other People

I think this is my favororite:
44. I cut my head open with a sharp knife while trying to kill a housefly with that same knife.

Although I also like number 85: I once made 100 phone calls in a day to a guy's house when I was in junior high school. Just to hear him answer the phone. The police came. The family didn't press charges.

Link thanks to Terry Teachout.

Monday, August 15, 2005

We're Back

From American Girl Place. And yes, it is possible to spend six hours there. We quickly ran through the play money that came with our "Day at AGP" package, and caught up in the fever of acquisition, I started saying "Well, Uncle T. usually sends $25 for your birthday" and "Okay, I know you didn't expect the hairdo to cost $20, so I'll cover that" and "I'm getting you these matching baseball caps as a souvenir, so that doesn't really count as part of what you're buying."

I must say, though, that S. proved to be a good little shopper, and as much as some of you reading this may guffaw, it was a learning experience and an exercise in choice and restraint. We got this bed, since the only bed for American Girl Today dolls (the kind S. has) costs one hundred and sixty dollars and weighs forty-five pounds. ("we usually recommend that people have it shipped" the sales associate said. Yeah.) The only purchase I would have quibbled with was the red white and blue gymnastics outfit, but you know, not my doll, not my birthday outing. Well, also the hair care kit, but I recognize that most little girls enjoy styling hair.

The show was awesome--S. and I were singing the songs (quietly) on the train coming home, and the production values were modest but ingenious. At the end they have the audience stand up and sing the American Girl Anthem ("I can be brave, I can be true/I will do the best that I can do") with the cast but unfortunately I was sobbing too hard to sing most of it. Luckily the mother next to me was similarly incapacitated.

Afternoon tea in the cafe, also awesome. We had nine things to eat, about three bites of each, which is my favorite kind of meal. The decor is perfect, black and white stripes and polka dots with hot pink accents. They had a harpist playing Beatles songs, and a little box full of questions to ask each other when conversation lags. And, of course, a special seat and dishes for your doll. Absolutely everything--the seat, the dishes, the aprons, the green glass flowerpots the chocolate mousse comes in--is for sale right outside. (We resisted).

Brilliant marketing, I recognize that. But also, truly a wonderful ready-made day's outing for a girl and her mother.

Friday, August 12, 2005

I'm just sayin'

Someone should tell the phishers pretending to be Earthlink that "automatical" is not a word.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Developing Theory

Two kinds of people in the world: people who were sadder when Dumbledore died than when Sirius died, or vice versa.


Music Hath Charms...

I read Doonesbury every day, including the 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25-years-ago strips. A few months ago the 1990 storyline was Andy Lippincott's death. He drifted away listening to Pet Sounds on CD, and they found a note on his nightstand that said "Brian Wilson is God."

So I decided to buy Pet Sounds on CD, high time because Wouldn't It Be Nice, God Only Knows and Sloop John B are probably my top three Beach Boys songs. And I have always thought Brian Wilson was a genius, if not actually a deity. Yet the only Beach Boys recording I owned was a weird vinyl "Beach Boys Live in London."

Well, it's that good. And this morning while I was listening to the gorgeous unmistakably Wilsonian harmonies, the deceptively adolescent lyrics, the brilliant musical effects I can't even name*, I was also reading this, in Ian McEwan's Saturday:

"There are these rare moments when musicians together touch something sweeter than they've ever found before in rehearsals or performance, beyond the merely collaborative or technically proficient, when their expression becomes as easy and graceful as friendship or love. This is when they give us a glimpse of what we might be, of our best selves, and of an impossible world in which you give everything you have to others, but lose nothing of yourself."

Or, as Tess Gallagher would say, "Then something else happens."

*For instance, incredible use of percussion, which I usually don't notice much. Like the single authoritative bass thump that ends the intro of Wouldn't It Be Nice, or the oddly stirring snares of God Only Knows.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Music Recs

What's been playing non-stop on the awesome kitchen stereo my wonderful husband gave me?

Ryan Adams "Cold Roses." Every song on this double album is good. Singable. Excellent for playing one of our household's favorite games "who/what does this sound like," with such varied answers as the Dead, Dire Straits, U2, seventies television theme song...which brings me to my other hearty recommendation,

Josh Rouse "Nashville." Same thing, every song is good. And in the "what does this sound like" department, how many singer-songwriters these days are sounding like The Smiths, which Rouse does in "Winter In the Hamptons"? As I was listening to "Streetlights" I said, "Not-so-big-R., this guy must be our age. Who else would allude to Journey by mentioning "streetlights people" in a song?" And he said, "Oh, I don't know, I think that's a common expression." But apparently these critics agree with me. And ol' Josh was born in 1972 (title of his last album), so I say bingo.


Do you ever discover that you were dreading something only after it's over? This particularly happens to me with doctor visits. I mean, you would think by now I would recognize that I have...issues...with them, but I am capable of mind-blowing denial. We saw the endocrinologist a month ago, but couldn't meet with his on-staff dietician until today because she was on vacation. So for a month I've been saying, "It's actually good that we have a month to come up with questions and figure out what we need to learn from the dietician," and "So this weekend I'm going to type up a list of questions and write down what not-so-little R.'s been eating." But meanwhile, apparently, the freak inside of me has been saying, "The dietician is going to say you are a bad mother," and "One percent milk? What will the dietician say!"

What did the dietician say? All good things. "Wow, you guys have already got a handle on this!" "I have to say, anyone who makes her own granola probably doesn't need nutritional advice." "No, his cholesterol is fine, the RNP is on crack, look at his HDL/LDL ratio." (She didn't actually say the RNP was on crack.)

As we were walking to the car, not-so-big R. said, "So we're still winning," which is totally, sadly, the way we relate to this. And everything. We married each other because we're both like Scoop in The Heidi Chronicles (shout out to ergo), grading everything and keeping track of points.