Wednesday, November 28, 2007

one step at a time

We are now proud residents with a porta-potty in our front yard (BTW, dear neighbor M, I don't think you or your children should actually use it. I'm not totally convinced that it's real. Where would the, um...crap...go? Seriously? It's just sitting there on solid ground. I think this is another regulatory thing). This is courtesy of our fabulous contractor (I mean fabulous in all seriousness - he replanted one of our plants and did some fill-dirt work just to be nice). Pictures of the loverly porta potty to come soon. (And our back deck is totally gone and a bobcat is in its place.)

So what happened to the fall? I vaguely remember grousing about how the leaves hadn't changed as it neared Halloween. Then I blinked, and now it's after Thanksgiving. We're having fires in the fireplace. The leaves are glorious though they turned many weeks later than "normal." Normal is relative. The climate is changing and this is the new normal. For now. Don't get me started. (Ruthie, I KNOW I owe you some stuff about global warming and I so want to do that and will. I figure that you're so busy now anyway that you're not chomping at the bits to read it. And meanwhile I'm struggling to not burst into tears at the slightest provocation and to please train myself to stop resorting to canned ravioli and frozen dinners at night. Did I ever really have time to COOK for my family? When??)

I'm a bit busy. I have a talk to give at the AGU meeting (American Geophysical Union) in San Francisco in a week or so and I pretty much still don't know the direction it will take. I am not good with last minute stuff. So I'm panicking. And not sleeping. It's generally not pretty for those who know me. My sweet baby girl turns NINE YEARS OLD on Sunday, so we're having 6 additional little girls spend the night on Saturday. I called DH tonight as I was panicking over life in general and the fact that I had to make TWO trips to Walmart for the Brownie troop tonight for extra garland and ornaments for their cute holiday parade hats...and by the way dear neighbor M was NOT THERE to take my panicked calls, meaning I had to subject DH to the explosion of my sanity...which meant that I came home to a clean house and a fire in the fireplace and the decision that DH and E are going to totally take care of her party from the planning to the buying to the execution of it. That was a truly panicked phone call, I tell you. M, be glad you were at Kohl's. Or not. I was going to offer to buy the wine. Anyway. (I'm going to try hard to trust DH and E with the birthday party. I did have to remind them to think about buying a cake ahead of time if they want it specialized in any way. I appreciate them taking some of my load off. But this is my BABY'S BIRTHDAY!!!! Breathe, breathe)

But you know what? After the Brownie meeting tonight, E and I had to stop by the store for milk, and she picked up a Hershey's bar. As it was on the tip of my tongue to tell her "NO WAY, JOSE, you just ate a chocolate Santa at Girl Scouts!!" she said, "Mommy, I don't have any money with me, or I would buy this for you. I think you've had a hard night and you need this." (sniff) So I bought it.

At home, it was sitting on the counter. Q came in and asked me "Whose Hershey's bar is that on the counter?" Rather than sniping at him "No SIR, you may not have it!!" I simply said "mine." He said. "Oh good, Mommy. You deserve something nice like that."
Then, as I was cuddling with him on the couch, I chanted to him in my best brainwashing mode: "You will love your mommy forever and buy her lots of presents when she is old and let her play with her grandchildren whenever she wants to." Q looked at me with surprise. "Well, of COURSE I will, mommy!!!!"


I have the best children and husband EVER.

If only they could finish my AGU talk up for me.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

geez. What am I to think?

I got a phone call tonight from one of my wonderful PTA chairladies, Kim. "Hey J?" she asked. "Did you read the paper? Do you know the names of these kids?"

In our little local paper this weekend were a couple of stories I did indeed take note of, and no, I did not know the names of the kids. There was an 11 year old boy who had been "set on fire" by a 14 year old 'friend' due to a thrown cup of gasoline and a cigarette butt, and then a story of two 10 year old boys who had an accident on an ATV (or a motorcycle?) who were 1.5 miles from any adults, requiring the not-so-much-injured little boy to RUN for 1.5 miles to get help, with the other seriously injured boy later life-flighted to a nearby large hospital with "life-threatening injuries". My son heard the subsequent conversation I had with DH about the boy set on fire and let me know that he was, in fact, a friend of my son's. (I had NO IDEA. Apparently, Q said it was all the conversation amongst the 6th graders last week, but I hadn't heard). He got 3rd degree burns on his legs but is expected to return to school soon. No one knows yet about the second incident, but based on the location where it was reported to happen, it is most certainly a couple of 4th or 5th grade boys at our local elementary school. This comes just a few weeks after an accident where a 4th grade girl at our school BROKE HER BACK from an ATV accident. Good. God.

Kim made the comment to me, "You know what? There are are moms somewhere right now sitting at the bedside of these boys and these are THEIR SONS that we are talking about." I called my best resource for information, Paige, and she made the comment to me that, "You know what, J? Our boys are going to be in high school before we know it and we're going to start hearing about accidents even more often, when they start driving and start really being in the world."

Ya think I'm going to sleep very well tonight? Thanks, Paige! :-)

To experience life requires that you get right there into it. I totally buy the whole "sine function" argument that the magnitude of highs you experience requires that you that you are open to experience the same magnitude of lows. But isn't it a crapshoot whether you actually have to experience those ultimate lows? Ultimately, I don't know that I would be capable of surviving them. I think I would not be able to if they involved my children.

I am reminded again of that saying from Elizabeth Stone that someone shared with me when I first had children:
"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."

Yes, Amen. That is SO what it is. The most precious and vital parts of myself do not belong to me anymore. The most important thing is not myself, anymore, and even more critical - I have very little (no) control over that "most important thing." It makes me feel joy like I've never felt and makes me see the world with new eyes. But for the flap of the wing of a butterfly, it is also what has the potential to drive me into the abyss of never ending despair.

oy. Parenthood.

Friday, November 23, 2007

my new boyfriend

I just have to post this. J has let me know that I can call Mikey Lowell my baseball boyfriend. Having nothing else to do on the day after Thanksgiving, like say, clean the house or finish the laundry, I came across this posted on youtube (just yesterday?). Awesome. Fun! He's such a classy guy, and that's why he's my new baseball boyfriend. His contribution to the team goes beyond 3B fielding or batting averages - the team wants/needs him there to keep them grounded. They were quite vocal about that too. He's a stabilizing influence - the ultimate teammate. This is a case where finding the exact right team mix includes more than simply HRs or RBIs and includes finding the chemistry that keeps them fighting on as a team.
It's a moot point, anyway because in case you haven't heard, he'll be back! Enjoy... (He's number 25)


I know that the "before" pictures are the most boring, so I apologize.
Here's a very poorly patched-together picture of the back of our house which is set to be overhauled beginning on Monday.

Here's where the sunroom will be. From the left, there's a double window (office) then two sets of double doors, both red. One leads to nowhere and one leads to the current deck. The sunroom will extend from just to the left of the 1st double door to just to the right of the second. The double door on the left side will be converted to a single interior door leading from the playroom to the sunroom. The other doors will be changed to interior french doors to lead from the dining area to the sunroom. There will be a deck to the right of the sunroom. You can also see the lovely silt fence that the environmental control people in our county required us to have installed, costing us an additional many many many (nearly EIGHT) hundreds of dollars.

And here's yet another requirement from the environmental people. A permanent sign, set in concrete down in our woods:

Can you see it?

And here is the reason we're getting a sunroom. This is the current view from the back of our house.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Thank you so much, J, for asking after me.

I'm fine. I've not been up to posting this past week simply because I've been so busy. It's mostly been good things (tm) that have kept me so occupied, so please interpret this as an explanation and not as a complaint. Besides, after being reminded of the schedule that one of my heroes (Ruthie) keeps, I'm hesitant to even mention my own supposed "busy-ness."

Here's one of the good things (tm) I've been busy with:

Fun stuff! Present neighbors and past neighbors with a healthy
(unhealthy?) dose of food and drink and games over a
long, long weekend.

Speaking of games, here's a fun game for you. Can you match the new tat to the face and to the body part?
(I'm so sorry J - please skip this part).

I am SO done with this portion of my mid-life crisis. It hurt WAY too much this time (I'm talking tears squeaking out of the corners of my eyes and finger imprints in the back of the chair. It was a wooden chair). I'm still having trouble making friends with this new tat because of that, in fact. I. Am. All. Done. I got the two symbols I was most interested in making a part of me for the rest of my life. All done. Besides, how can I top walking around the city with dear neighbor M (we had the two smaller tats {there's a hint for you} so we finished something like HOURS before the other two). Anyway, how can I top walking around with her through a somewhat questionable part of the city with her brandishing a package of tampons and ibuprofen and declaring that no one would DARE MESS WITH US NOW.


I cried at work today. Wonderboy couldn't tell (I don't think) because we were on the phone. (Maybe he could tell because he suddenly got very quiet and nice). I am so overwhelmed and so out of my element. I did not sign up for this responsibility. I was totally happy with my peon status. Truly. But in the spirit of continuing the work we do, I had no choice but to step up to take the wheel while Wonderboy is away playing with the political types at HQ. Did you know it is impossible to do a full time job in a 24 hour week? It really is. It's official. I am not Superwoman. And the imposter police are welcome to come bludgeon my poor pathetic attempt at being a scientist.

My PTA work is going well but only because I was smart (yay me) about getting the most awesome people ever to work on the committees. So despite the fact that I have no time and I am running around blubbering over feeling inadequate at work, our PTA stuff is busy being fabulous. Is it bad for me to want to take partial credit for that when I'm really not doing very much of the work? Tough. I'm doing it anyway.

Other trivia in the spirit of catch-up?

OMG, my man Mikey Lowell will be back with the Red Sox this year.

(DH is happy too. And J sent me a WOOHOO message today. I feel like I'm a little part of the Red Sox Nation. Sniff.). We're going to try to go to Boston during the next season to attend a game with J and another family we know up there. I can't wait!!! :-) :-) :-) Happy, happy, joy, joy...

My darling sister L is having a fantabulous time in NYC!!!! I got a call from her today as she was wandering around lost in Central Park after two hours of snow falling. She was as happy as I've ever heard her and was drunk on the taste of independence. I'm thinking I may need to drive up to NYC to pry her back to her home. Maybe she'll join me as an east-coaster one of these days??? L, I couldn't be happier for you.

That's most of my catch up. Oh, I lurved hearing dear neighbor M play violin at the St. Caecilia's day music presentation at UU that my dear friend Jamie directed. Got a little tear in my eye over that, too - the pure, pure love of music that Jamie has. They played a piece that Haydn wrote while in Eisenstadt, Austria, which (along with Jamie's eloquent words beforehand) brought back lovely memories of the sunflowers and wine and happiness of Austria. Have I mentioned that I want to go back? Next winter when Jamie and co. have moved back there for a year? So we can try skiing in the Alps? Hm....going straight from east coast slush to the Alps may be a bit of a leap. We'll see.

Lots of good things on the horizon. I'm ignoring CNN and the news and horrors in Bangladesh and worries of global warming and war and stuff that gives me nightmares. For now, I'm all friends and sisters and Mikey Lowell and Austria and new sunrooms. There's a glimpse of my "busy-ness." All good things (tm).

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Goodbye to another friend

I've had Sammy longer than any other pet - he was 17.5 years old.

He was the most loving and affectionate cat I've ever known. He especially loved underarms, and he had a tendency to drool. (That combination was not a good one).

We'll miss you, Sammy!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Here's the whole class. You know the whole "owners resemble their dogs" thing? Yep. There is one pair in particular in there that fit this adage perfectly. Sweet, sweet lady and sweet dog. And they looked very similar.

Proud trainer and graduate. Roxy was praised by the teacher for moving from REALLY out of control crazy to just kind of out of control crazy. Progress is what we're after, right?

Monday, November 05, 2007


Hungh. Yee. haw.
I made it through another PTA meeting tonight without any major mishaps. That's a good thing, in case anyone is wondering. Things are actually going very well so far with the pee-tee-aye this year - I'm just not doing a whole lot other than cheerleading and sending emails. I guess that's what I'm supposed to be doing. It just feels very weird to not be more in the trenches, you know? That's where the real work gets done. I hope people don't get bored. (Yep, I'm a freakin' worry wart). S.T.O.P.

I've been in a weird place lately - like a giant page is turning. Maybe it's just the new "autumn" hair color my hair stylist gave me last week. Or the fact that my tiny baby has been to a school dance and has acne and the beginnings of facial hair. Or that I'm mostly on my own at work now, having to argue with the Harvard folks and I'm really trying hard not to be intimidated even while I KNOW that I'm right. (Wonderboy confirmed this). I'm right.

So anyway, I promised dear neighbor M that I would share this story since it smacks of "Seems like a movie" (Mare knows of what I mean) and since I nearly peed in my pants when it happened. It was Friday last week, which means it was my day off, which means I actually walked down the street to the bus stop to meet my tiny little darling daughter E as she got off the bus because you know she is so delicate and fragile that she needs her mommy there - I just don't know how she manages the rest of the week when she is forced to walk home through bitter cold and driving rain on her lonesome. A POX POX POX on me! Her terrible momma.


This particular day I was the good momma and I met her up at the bus stop. As we were walking home, my favorite next-door-neighbor M's (her competition is the otherside neighbor who micromanages the care of my cat) husband came whipping around the corner whilst riding his son's scooter which was actually piloted by his crazy-ass dog on the end of a leash. E and I watched warily as cowboy neighbor D yeehawed his way down the street and down the (small) hill toward our houses. I think I may have called out in my best mommy voice that "You've forgotten your helmet!" or "Are you insane?" or something like that. In any case, we continued our stroll down the street up and over the small hill, at which some point cowboy neighbor D came into focus again. His crazy dog was nowhere in sight but he was very carefully trying to put his mailbox back into the upright position.

"D?" I called. "Is it possible that you just ran into your mailbox?"

D quickly whipped into "leaning on mailbox" position as he positioned the broken 4x4 back into the ground.

"hmm?" Bright smile because nothing (of course) has happened.

"D? Did Daisy just smash you into your mailbox, upending it and rendering it completely useless? How is Dear neighbor M supposed to get her christmas catalogues now???!!!"

Cowboy D smiled and continued to lean on the supposedly sturdy mail box, even as it wobbled precariously.

At which point I nearly peed in my pants from collapsing into laughter.

Maybe you had to be there to get the whole scene and see D's face as he leaned into the post to pretend nothing had happened.

But I know it just made my week. Because you have to laugh.

My giant page is turning and I'm hanging on to the edge of it for dear life, and it's only this laughing that reminds me that it's ok that the pages keep turning. Children are born and grow up and you argue with ivy league intellectuals and worry about what to present at the meeting, but ultimately, everyone pauses and remembers to breathe when they laugh.

Neighbor D? I think you are one of the most intelligent people I've met, and I don't mean this as anything other than a celebration of the fact that if we pay attention, we all get the chance to pee in our pants from laughing so hard. It's a good thing. And you're kind and great and all that to let me laugh at you and not hold it against me. I promise I'll make it all up to you someday.

But I've just got to say that MY mailbox is still functional. So there.