Friday, June 27, 2008

The Limits of YouTube--or my search ability

There was a Fargo North, Decoder sketch on Electric Company that I think of whenever I go away. Someone had left a note saying "I am on vacation," and brought Fargo in to read it. He read, "I am on....VAY-KAY-TY-ON." Can't find it to show you, though.

That's what I'm on, too. In the unfashionable western Adirondacks--or as those in the know call it, the North Country--until July 7th.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You Have No Idea

M, this morning: Where's Daddy?
MV: He's at work.
M: There's still work during the summer? That stinks!

Monday, June 23, 2008

100 Things To Do, Part II

I honestly don't see how I'm going to come up with one hundred of these. Does that mean I'm contented, or unimaginative?

26. Read In Search of Lost Time
27. String up Chinese lanterns for a backyard party
28. Make marrons glac├ęs
29. Speak at a commencement
30. Wear the Wonder Woman costume I bought at Marshalls on impulse
31. Try once-a-week cooking
32. Be in the Old Guard, and walk
33. Learn the basics of playing the organ
34. Drive across the country
35. Go on retreat with the Sisters of Bethlehem
36. Write a song
37. Design my own Christmas cards
38. Wear a big hat to a horse race
39. Try on my wedding dress at my silver anniversary
40. Go caroling
41. Catalog our home library
42. Square dance, for the first time since grammar school
43. Have a wildflower cutting garden
44. Take modern dance/"adult ballet" class
45. Publish an article in a magazine
46. Find a place for the OED that actually enables us to consult it easily
47. Go peach-picking
48. Have a box of chocolates ready in my desk drawer for impromptu occasions, like Joey Bettany
49. Be instrumental in opening a place like Cafe Meow in my hometown
50. Run an "arts colony" for all our talented friends some summer, and work on a collaborative project

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fresh...Exciting! As Kool and The Gang Might Say

Yesterday I went to the posh farm market, the one that used to be a working farm but now sells Vera Bradley bags and Caldrea cleaning products alongside the food, and bought as much local produce as I could find, including a bunch of in-state beets. I then invented

Incredibly Easy and Good-For-You Borscht

1 bunch beets, peeled and quartered
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock (I cheat with Better Than Bullion)
Approximately 1 cup non-fat plain yogurt
Sour cream and fresh dill, if desired

Simmer beets and onion in stock for about 40 minutes, let cool if you're more patient than I am, or if you have a plastic blender. Transfer vegetables and liquid to blender and puree. Add as much yogurt as you can fit into your blender container and blend until thoroughly incorporated. Garnish with a dab of sour cream and a sprig of fresh dill, but I just took it to the beach in Gladware, unadorned. Six of seven diners fairly licked their bowls, and the seventh is the youngest of us, so still too young to know what tastes good. Makes 5 8-oz servings or 10 4-0z ones.

So today I went to the honest-t0-goodness Farmers' Market. It was better than I remembered: lots more greens and a greater variety of vegetables. I got more beets, kirby cucumbers, some gorgeous-looking sweet potatoes, and baby bok choy, among other things. The place is still plagued with wind chimes and incense burners--wouldn't you think the market for those would have dried up by now?--but my best score was a huge patio tomato plant, already bearing, for $10. It was like a message from God--it's okay that you didn't plant tomatoes this spring, I'm still giving you backyard tomatoes.

Sunday Laughs

An awesome column from the always-incredible Joe Queenan.

I laughed out loud at this paragraph from Mimi Smartypants:

"Of course there are Mormons and then there are Mormons. The FLDS and not the LDS are the ones who really picked up the polygamy football and ran with it, and it pisses me off that their little inbred towns like Colorado City get all kinds of federal money for their "school" systems and infrastructure and that the ACLU spends time and cash defending their religious right to forcibly marry and rape and impregnate 14-year-old girls. It is their RELIGION, you see. Well it's my religion to kick you in the crotch repeatedly, is that okay?"

Worth-Its 1-25

No one could put it better than Maggie did: Scenes I hope pop up as my life flashes before my eyes.

1. Waltzing around the basement with my grandmother on Sunday mornings, in my flannel nightgown, to a 45 of Patti Page's "Tennessee Waltz."
2. R. proposing on the streets of New York because I picked a fight with him in Cafe Lalo where he had intended to pop the question.
3. Seeing Barbara Cook and Wally Harper live in a small venue.
4. Not just the "yes" letter from college, but the little yelp my father emitted when I called up the stairs to tell him what it said.
5. Baby R. laughing at the sight of a pompon duck and the sound of the word "chandelier."
6. My first real kiss in a red Volkswagen bug, and thinking, "this is better than ice cream."
7. The hush followed by applause when I sang "I Guess I'll Miss the Man" sitting on the edge of the stage in "Pippin," senior year of high school.
8. My first dinner party with CF and MB, shrunken chicken and burnt apple cake followed by pizza.
9. Going out for bagels early in the morning after the nor'easter of 1992, seeing the streets littered with broken umbrellas, and buying a Christmas tree on impulse.
10. Skinny-dipping in the fountain.
11. Being awoken in the early hours of the morning and "sung in" to my a cappella group.
12. Coming home from a day in the city with GBR, having become a couple, and his saying "I want everyone to know about us."
13. Kissing R. for the first time and laughing out loud at the sheer, joyful, uncomplicated rightness of it.
14. Going to a baseball game with R, CC and PM, and joking about the impossibility of resisting the strolling vendors, no matter what they were selling: "Grass clippings! Get your grass clippings!" "Dog poop heah!"
15. Longest-sip and incredible-lie contests at David's Cookies after school in H.S.
16. Driving a 15-passenger van up an icy slope in Vermont with EB blowing kisses to me at the top.
17. R. and S. explaining R.'s plan to sell original poetry at a roadside stand.
18. JM pouring glass after glass of champagne in her Madame X-like dress at our second Country House Weekend.
19. Snuggling baby M. in the music building lobby after a Reunions cloudburst, and thinking, "I thought my baby would interfere with my enjoyment of Reunions; but actually Reunions is interfering with my enjoyment of my baby."
20. Christmas morning 1974 and what seemed like a huge number of presents under the tree. It now looks quite modest in photographs but they were all things I especially loved and played with for years.
21. Dancing with my father at my wedding as he said, "Isn't this all like something in a dream?"
22. Showing my brother the dilapidated swing set in my new back yard, vaguely lamenting the need to find someone to take it down, and watching him immediately proceed to do so.
23. Hearing Mister Rogers speak at my brother's commencement.
24. My 21st-birthday costume party on the stage of the theater where I was working that summer.
25. Baby S. grinning mischievously as she slowly reopened my robe after I tried to cut short what must have been one of our last nursing sessions.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Before I say what I really have to say, may I just mention that I consider myself a pretty good Googler, and I cannot find out what the Greek word for "list" is? No matter what, I just end up with lists of Greek words. No! Bad search engine!

As indicated by my post of a few days ago, I resist list-making. I'd rather keep everything in my head and let really important stuff fall through the cracks. Why? Well, I suspect it's because I don't like a visual representation of the ramp that actually exists in physical reality.

So while I loved the idea of Maggie Mason's 100 Things To Do Before I Die, I couldn't pull the trigger on actually coming up with my own list. Now Mama has beaten me to it and my competitive spirit is engaged, so there's no looking back.*

In, emphatically, no particular order:

1. Publish a book
2. Knit myself a sweater
3. Learn to surf
4. Stop looking for the finish line, but maybe throw away some of the odd socks.
5. Celebrate my anniversary at The Cloister on Sea Island, with the kids.
6. Visit Denmark, especially Silkeborg, the town my great-grandparents came from
7. Go on a Chalet School tour of Austria and Switzerland with LSB.
8. Memorize a classical piano piece
9. Sing cabaret
10. Cruise the Adriatic
11. Learn to speak Welsh
12. Finish a triathlon
13. Learn to play squash
14. Visit the stonecutters' yard at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine
15. Put 25 gallons of photographs into albums
16. Tape interviews with my parents
17. Turn my grandmother's diaries into a book
18. Become an expert on something
19. Rescue some of my most-beloved novels from obscurity
20. Write a children's book
21. Build Anna's play kitchen
22. Make M.'s First Communion veil
23. Learn to play my mandolin
24. See Joan of Arc's house in Domremy-la-Pucelle
25. Compile a memory book for my a cappella group

*Actually, there will be looking back. Because, also piggybacking on Mighty Girl, I intend to sweeten the terror of the life list by interspersing it with "Worth Its." I'm much more comfortable with the settled past than the infinitely possible future.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

From The Duh Department

R. and S. are attending squash camp in the city this week, which means they get the fun of commuting in with R. on the train, enjoying some of the amenities of his beautiful club, and receiving excellent squash instruction. It also means that the four of us get the not-fun of rising around 5:30 am and trying not to forget anything, when at least three of us are the type that doesn't enjoy full brain function until around 9.

Those of you who are on Facebook with me may have noticed my status update about speeding to the train station with no pants on, which was the result of a Monday 6:31 am phone call from R.--"If you race here, you just might make it in time to give R. his tester." So I grabbed the blood glucose meter, essential if R. wants to, oh, exercise, or eat, and added flip-flops to my current outfit of t-shirt and underpants. Made it as the train pulled in, and luckily did not have to get out of the car.

On Tuesday things went a little more smoothly, and I typed up a checklist on the computer as we packed the bags. I taped it to the back door, and this morning (knock wood, no teary or panicked phone calls yet) was smoother yet.

Hmm. It seems to me that I have read and heard this type of technique suggested for absent-minded professors like us, oh, about a million times. I am shocked, shocked to report that it works.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Notes From All Over

--I have just finished Saint Joan of Arc by Vita Sackville-West, the best Joan of Arc book I have ever read, which is saying a lot. I attribute my enjoyment of the work partly to my early imprinting on Bloomsbury: my mother read and owned collections of the letters of Virginia Woolf, the journals of Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf's multi-volume autobiography, and enough other books about their circle to cause my father to call her study "The Virginia Woolf Room." I also observe, though, that Saint Joan of Arc was published in 1936, which seems to lie smack in the middle of my preferred era as far as language and literature go:

Fatal Interview, 1931
Gone With The Wind, 1936
A City Of Bells, 1936
Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, 1941

What this means I don't really know.

--I emptied out the children's backpacks yesterday and put them in the attic. This may not seem remarkable, but consider that last year, I emptied the backpacks of their '06-'07 contents on the night before school began in September of 2007. Yes, they took up space in the mudroom all summer. Yes, I did manage to extricate the report cards and supply lists, but nothing else. So once again I have that triumphant feeling that I have snatched family life out of the jaws of the mysterious force.

--I watched with a liberal mixture of delight and horror as S. was presented with a t-shirt at squash camp yesterday and proceeded to fold it very nimbly and carefully. I have never asked that my children fold their clothes, only that they put them away. S. has so far seemed to be virtually incapable of putting away, so I didn't think to assign folding. Perhaps the fact that I hate putting-away most of all laundry steps will shed some light on this situation; apparently my daughter shares my tastes and/or is onto me. In order to lighten the load for myself, should I cede the task I like? Or should I continue trying to enforce the task I loathe, in hopes that she will become inured to it?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Not bad, except for the Jackie Kennedy part

Yes, I'm still alive, and easing back into blogging with a trusty quiz:

You're The Mists of Avalon!

by Marion Zimmer Bradley

You're obsessed with Camelot in all its forms, from Arthurian legend
to the Kennedy administration. Your favorite movie from childhood was "The Sword in
the Stone". But more than tales of wizardry and Cuban missiles, you've focused on
women. You know that they truly hold all the power. You always wished you could meet
Jackie Kennedy.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.