Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cooking Class

Velveeta Loaf. One of the finest names in cheeses, and a snap to prepare.
Directions: Unwrap cheese, Insert fork. Display. Feeds: 6 refugees from a war-torn country of your choice.

Meat Plate. Your party will be a smash with this as its centerpiece!
Directions: Arrange raw meat on plate. Admire the beauty of many disparate cattle and piggies, come together in death as they never were in life. Dream of their melodic lowing and oinking as they meet one another within this circular ceramic heaven. Feeds: The Party Pony's meat-loving family.

Grape and Homemade Play-DOH Surprise. This delectable mix will have your guests clamoring for more.
Directions: Ask a parent to split the grapes in half with a knife, as they will present a horrible choking hazard for the unwary.
Smash in Play-DOH and stir vigorously. Feeds: one younger sibling.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The grease a-poppin' in the skillet

I've heard of blogs slagged for naval-gazing, and whoever did such slagging is a bore. What could be more infuriating and intriguing than the borders of my own little mind? And my mind is, a la the subject line of this blog post, rather...busy. Whoever has a handle on this meditation thing needs to contact me posthaste and give me some pointers. Lessee...sit in a comfortable position, let thoughts flow by, let them go and...attach to thought! Graaaa! Attach to thought like an angry dog and worry it like a bone!

While cutting down on one anti-anxiety medication in order to start a brand new one, I decided to try a clever experiment a few days ago. Just stop taking the stuff! (I told you it was clever. I am infinitely wise.) This morning, lying in bed, I began to recognize why I take it in the first place. My thoughts leap around like jumping beans held over a scorching flame. Something like this:

"I hope our bathroom turns out well since we are spending a lot of money on it and what time do I need to get the boys ready this morning and i wish i hadn't insulted that girl gabriella when i was ten years old she probably still remembers and if osama bin laden is still out there what is he plotting and how horrendous will it be and what will i cook for dinner tomorrow night and i had better call my parents what if i fail to call them and one of them DIES before i can call them and maybe there are some questions i ought to ask them before one of them DIES and why is it so hot in the room does that mean i am experiencing pre-menopause but gosh i am too young for that although i will be rather old on this next birthday and i had better start planning my son's fourth birthday and not let down the poor wee mite of course if I DIE that will be a big let-down for my children and they will weep hot tears and if I don't complete my book my husband will divorce me and why do i keep seeing incredibly vivid movies of wildflowers growing and enormous bees and brussels sprout plants and skyscrapers and cartoon characters whenever i close my eyes and what if one of the cartoon characters i see when i close my eyes gets squished under the wheels of a BUS that i also see when i close my eyes? What then? What then?"

Eyes shoot open. Morning light is creeping around the window curtains, and I hear the groan of a truck.

It all felt alarmingly familiar...alarmingly ME. Ah yes, I remember this. The sleepy morning mad-panic thoughts running wild and aimless while I lie as still as if I'd been dropped from a great height. There is a comfort about this familiarity, actually. It's a known quantity. Not so awful, nor was it accompanied by hyperventilation, lightheadedness, vertigo, and pain. Nevertheless, I shot down to the kitchen and gulped down a brand new Effexor pill. Yum!

I am also susceptible to something known as The Placebo Effect, which means that within an hour after taking the new pill I felt serene enough to drive on the highway. (These pills are supposed to take 2-4 weeks to really "work.") I felt darned good. I thought of all the fine times I've had and all the fine people I've known and decided that, well, I'm not going to die anytime soon, but even if I do, I've had a life to beat them all. I thought about running across the fields at Cragged Mountain Farm and the sun setting beyond the hills and the children, arms crossed, singing "Taps" around the flag, and all the times I've jumped into cold, clear lake water and swam out below the full moon. And heard the shouts of others, out there in the water while the campfire sputters in the wind and shoots mad sparks skyward. One night we tossed glowsticks to one another, and our glasses were tucked in our boots on the shore, and we were all but blind in the dark water of Round Pond.

Yes, my thoughts are prone to run wild; well, let them scatter in the good places.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lexicon of Cute Toddler Food Names

In the " so cute" category. Herewith, my lexicon of healthy foods prepared for toddlers.

Purple Crunchies: Red Cabbage
Sunshine Sticks: Carrots
Dinosaur Trees: Broccoli
Bunny Food: Lettuce
The Pea Family: Peas on a spoon
Sunshine Nubbins on a Stick: Corn on the cob
Little Red Balls of Fun: Grape Tomatoes
Baby Trees: Asparagus spears
Turtle Shells: Halved brussels sprouts


Pig circles: Pepperoni
Pig-circle pie: pepperoni pizza
Pig strips: Bacon
Mister Nuggets: Any free-roaming chicken, avec feathers
Gobble Meat: Turkey
Moo-Moo Cow: a burger
Flat cow: a steak
Silence of the Lambs: Mutton
Dead cow in the clouds, with the pea family in an exploded zeppelin: Shepherd's pie
Purple Crunchy Pig Strip Surprise: Red cabbage and bacon

Once, at a child's birthday party, Esteemed Husband went to the "adults' table" to suss out the sandwich offerings. He returned and announced :"Yeah, honey, they have turkey and cheese or PIG CIRCLES." People near us were visibly and deeply offended.

And the other night we were reading "Baby Animals on the Farm" (aka "Baby Animals on Your Plate") we asked our elder child, "Does it bother you at all that chicken nuggets come from chickens?" He said, "Mmmm, chicken!". When we explained that the chicken did not lay the nuggets like eggs, he got a funny look on his face. Hrhrmm. Not so much.

Then: "Mmmm, chicken!". Baby is an omnivore!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bathroom Fun-o-Rama

Bathrooms are weird. We were shopping to renovate our bathroom and we noticed a toilet called the Swisher or the Swoosh or something like that. What this toilet does is remarkable. It dispenses with your fecal matter AND as a bonus feature, it also cleanses your nether regions much like a bidet! I don't know about you, but I don't want these things to happen within the same unit. I feel they should be kept reasonably separate. Even in the same room seems too close. The same UNIT is just much too close. What if the thing should backfire and shoot items formerly deposited up yer wing wang? How sorry would you be then? I will pass on the SWASH.

The fact that it is featured in Home Expo as an innovative new device just goes to show that we are obsessed with anything that seems to save time and/or space. If this is so, why not install terlets at the dinner table? Or, we could retire in private to feast all we liked and then poo in a convivial fashion in a party-like setting, with toilets arranged in a circle. The going-in of food is such a social event, but the coming-out of food...not so much.

Speaking of Not So Much, I would like to lay claim to this phrase here and now. Many months ago, my elder child coined this statement. He would say of a birthday party with creepy strobe lights and wailing children "Um, not so much." Or of a dish didn't care for: Not so much. Now, the phrase is in constant usage, and where are the royalties?

About the younger child, a prediction: He will be a soccer star. He is the most deft two-year-old with a soccer ball that I or any of my acquaintances have ever seen. He is starting to handle and dribble the ball and now shouts "goal!" as he kicks it into the goal we bought him for his birthday. It's just plain weird, especially since soccer was not one of daddy's sports and I am more inclined to twist an ankle while kicking than actually move the ball anywhere. Baby Pele isn't fazed by this uninspired genetic history. He kicks that ball with an unparalleled glee. To watch him go is like watching a real athlete revel in the glory of the game; when you just gape at the sheer physical prowess of the person. He gets red-faced and sometimes screams with pleasure as he moves the ball down the field. I am wondering if pee-wee soccer is available for a two-year-old, and if shin guards come in size xxxxs. Do you know what this makes me? A soccer mom. Fark! Do I have to move to the midwest now and drive a mini-van?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

3 Previously Unknown Facts, One Regarding Alec Baldwin

The book I am reading now, The World Without Us, is just mind-boggling. I would recommend its purchase. Do it! Do it now!

One of the interesting facts I have learned from this book is that something exists called the Pacific Garbage Patch, which is roughly the size of Texas. It's a gyre of human refuse and flotsam, spinning in a less-traveled area of the Pacific. Most of it is plastic, which has a half life of about 66 billion years. Don't it make you wonder how much plastic we are ingesting through the food chain, and what it might be doing to us? I estimate that I am .66 percent plastic already, and by the time I reach 5% my face will have frozen a la Nicole Kidman.

And also according to the book there are these crazy Caves in Turkey that are riddled with homes and secret underground caverns and even a hotel! I didn't know about these caves. Apparently they will last quite a while after Manhattan crumbles and topples and is overrun with weeds and flowers. Who knew? Have I been living under a ROCK?

But best of all was this quote I discovered today, courtesy of Alec Baldwin. (This was not in the book, but A World Without Us certainly includes no member of the Baldwin family.) Of his wife's divorce lawyer, he stated: "She's this 300-pound homunculus whose face looks like a cross between a bulldog and a clenched fist." How infinitely perfect and delightful is that quote? He can get as drunk and surly as he likes. Those words are worth 1,000 pictures of the awful creature. I wish I had said it. I'm a-gonna save it up and say it someone someday. I have a certain peevish coworker in mind, who may not have the requisite 300 pounds but of whom could be said "I've seen better legs on a piano." She is often sighted with a surly grimace, lumping around on those great, stodgy legs and dreaming of power-mad schemes to drive us all crazy. Her face? Perhaps an omelet with eyes and teeth, gone awry when it got tipped from the pan. With a wig slapped on it.

Grrrraaak! I challenge Alec Baldwin to an invective-off, during which I will threaten to wallpaper my latrine with my enemy's pelts.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Calling all Artists

Are you an artist? Or do you just style yourself as such to get chicks and men? It doesn't matter! We here in New Rochelle, NY, will accept you, and all your hairy, unemployed brethren. Just think, here you get:

Unlimited wireless access!
Meals at the finest fast-food establishments!
Homes in great neighborhoods: cheap! cheap! With loads of character and big, high ceilings and lots of light whereby you can paint your masterpieces. And granite and maple and corian, all words which, according to the book I just read, Freakonomics, will make your new home worth a mint!
Old homes that were built to withstand surging seas or strange fluctuations in the housing market
Occasional squirrels
The chestnut harvest in fall (thems make good 3-D art! And good eats. Ouch.)

Brooklyn and Tribeca are so overdone. Populate our neighborhood with your interesting self and your weird art and you will find a home worthy of your talents. Plus, we don't have any of those peculiar artist's rules for living in Tribeca that demand you prove yourself. New Rochelle was once home to many a famous artist. It has several characteristics that will make an artist feel at home:

1. The smell of the sea, and the cry of errant seagulls (yes, think of your soundscapes/stinko-thon installation)
2. Older architecture that may feature in your "quaint city streets" paintings
3. Passersby who will add local color and verve to your sculptures
4. Lotsa liquor to fuel your creativity
5. Annoying rich people to mock and call "the man" in your invective treatises
6. Fresh veggies, to keep you alive
7. Fresh construction on which to spray-paint your so-called "graffiti art"
8. A fine library green for your impromptu guerilla dance interpretaion
9. Shopping carts in which to wheel your unwanted art about the area
10. New Ro's #1 blogger, rated by the critics (see below), as a local resident!

The Critics Rave:

"The Party Pony (not to be confused with the simple "Party Pony" of Canadian fame) seems to be behind the 25% uptick in property values around the area. Take note, investors, and get in before it's too late."
--Jay Marwillack, New Rochelle Financial Quarterly

"This is all very confusing to me. Are the drug addiction stories here for humorous purposes? Dialing your number now."
--The Party Pony's mommy, via email

"I frow food at you!"
--Wolfgang, younger child of The Party Pony

"That's easily the best thing I've read in a long while--well, of course you're preaching to the choir, as I am predisposed to look at this with a firm and flashing eye, thinking "Well, now we're past all the masks and into the pith of eternity, the plinth of heaven, that place where the north wind carries voices, that hard-to-find place where burly DeHavilland Beavers and puny Piper Cubs take you, the paradise on earth that you must walk or paddle to, as no funicular is going to make that voyage, now we're going home in this piece of writing, all of us, the funny-lookin' and the pretty, the writer is taking us, she saw it all and she remembers, all of it, all of us, all of us and all of love is going home--or rather, finding the home in ourselves." But even given my proclivity for this sort of thing, I was deeply, deeply touched to read this. This is the kind of people I always suspected we were. Nice work! Reads good! I loved it!"
--A famous military historian

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Beached on Plymouth Rock With a Lobster in my Craw

For some reason I seem to be a curse to motorboating. I have had motors conk out on the way to Point o' Woods on Fire Island, off the Isles of Shoals in NH as we floated ominously toward the rocks, deep at sea in Costa Rica (a story in itself), and lastly this past weekend in Plymouth Harbor on a boat called the "Lobster Tales."

Thirty-plus souls were aboard the boat, which pitched about in the chop while we waited for the Harbor Master to come to our rescue. The adventure would have been sweeter if I didn't have my toddlers aboard, shivering in the wind in borrowed sweatshirts that more resembled straitjackets. I took one to the head during the wait, where I discovered a brig stocked stem to stern with liquor of all varieties. Fortunately, we were saved before I had to start screaming "every man, woman, and child for himself" while tossing liquor bottles hither and thither.

To pass the time, the captain introduced us to the various sea creatures he had dragged up in a lobster trap, which included female crabs that had a sort of "trap door" in their undersides which could be pried open to reveal eggs and then snapped shut again, no harm done. A nice little evolutionary trick! The male crabs also had the image of a phallus on their underbellies, which he referred to as a "rocketship" for the sake of the kiddies aboard. He also brandished a couple of lobsters, who looked at me with their beady, black eyes.

We were in Plymouth for the big extended family reunion of my husband. Many of the participants did not even share our last name, since the male line has effectively dwindled away through a profusion of daughters--my two young sons being the only remaining male bearers of the name. As such, there is a certain gravitas to their existence. Why this should matter to me, a female, I'm not sure. Maiden names get buried and lost, generation after generation, and become traceable through old documents only. Their lineage is covert. Even on the monument to the forefathers in Plymouth the Mayflower wives don't even get a name--not even a first name. Their children do, however, male or female. Some of those names: Love, Wrestling, Remember, Oceanus. And we think baby-naming conventions now are odd! Apple and Moses would have fit in quite nicely.

While we were up there we visited a graveyard in Cohasset, where many of the gravestones were tip-tilted and worn with age, many from the 1700s. My elder child ran from stone to stone, demanding that I intone each name, while the younger squealed with delight and hid behind monuments and shrubbery. I thought briefly that I should tell the little one to respect the area, but instead I said, "Carry on, it's what they would have wanted." As we went from gravestone to gravestone, my older one clinging to my back, I spoke each name aloud--as many names as I could. Some of the smaller stones had first names only: Lulu, Baby, William. He didn't understand, but it was a good thing to do. Does speaking the name aloud--or having it chiseled on a rock--make the person's life any more meaningful? Does the relative anonymity of this blog make the sum total less? Names may not matter in the hidden history of the world, but speaking them aloud seemed to be a small blessing to the dead. Children ran down to the water at the setting sun, and shadows were cast by lichen-covered stones.

I find graveyards very peaceful. Some people won't buy a house next to one, but the neighbors don't make any noise. Memento mori, indeed!

On a lighter note, I will soon tell the story of the Cruise del Sucque off the coast of Costa Rica, March 2003. A broken engine, beating sun, diesel fumes, and a pregnant passenger (myself).

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More Xanax for me! And none for you!

Ssssh, don't tell anyone, but I will soon have a largish supply of Xanax (generic) in my underwear drawer. Stop your bad self, it's not enough for YOU--Hoover, Drug Elf, Miss "Ooh I'm having a bad day", Druggie McGee, Medicine Cabinet Detective, Johnny Jim-Jams, and Xanax Charlie among you--and it's not really in my underwear drawer, anyway. It's in a super-secret location known only to those in my Super Secret Club, the Anxiety-Ridden Moms of Southern Westchester, LLC. I will bury it beneath my brussels sprouts if it stops your thieving, addictive behavior.

I also now own two new Lilly Pulitzer items (both on sale). One is on my body, and the other is in a super-secret location. Both are incredibly SHORT and make me happy that I have eaten salad for dinner for the last two months. I am starting to dream of big, juicy burgers.

Anyway, Lilly Pulitzer items send me into a mad frenzy. Their garish colors and ultra-cute silhouettes are like candy to me. I want to own them ALL, even the ones with horrid little monkey faces on them, or even little growly lions snarling above little lime-tinted turtles under trees infested with pink cockatoos. I might have to start a deeply bad eBay addiction because right now I own only 5 Lilly Pulitzer items and I need to own 567 of them.

Anyone who wants to send me some for my burfday is welcome. Size 6, please! They are expensive, and stupidly so. It's just a bunch of cotton and a titch of spandex with some garish tropical animals adorned on it. My burfday is a-comin' up. I will be real old.

Next, the minutes of the last meeting of the Anxiety-Ridden Moms of Southern Westchester, LLC.

Cookie; Pass the bowl of Xanax, please.
Miffie: Where's our kids, anyways?
Bunny: [unintelligable]...found some fun stuff under the sink!
Pookie: Oh drat, my hair's all in a tither.
Jennie: Whazzat?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pelted with Large, Uncooked Beets

I still have not figured out how to properly post a picture without hosing my blog. Maybe my file of "meat products on a plate" is just too damned large? This lack of skill is ironic because I have become a technology "go to" person of sorts in my current job capacity. But not quite as ironic as a black fly floating in my glass of Chardonnay. Now that's authentic irony! Or, just a big suckfest.

Anyway, conceiving fabulous ideas to promote converged, mobile wireless systems is what I was born to do! And then there was the illuminating piece on network interoperability, a word I can't even say without gargling on my glass of Chardonnay. I encountered the term "802.11b wireless standard" in my research today and nearly shat a stone.

Maybe all this technology hoo-ha is what is at the root of my disabling vertigo. When I bend down to pick a toy off the floor, or scoop small chunks of food that my sons gleefully threw during dinner, I get a wave of dizziness. Don't say it. I know what you're thinking. I'm either
a) Just too durned skinny (I'm not)
b) Knocked up (I'm not)
c) Dying of brain cancer (debatable)
d) Extremely efficient at psychosomatic illness (a certainty)

I know this crapass "illness" is all in my head because, when I was on a cardio machine at the gym today, it all went away! As soon as I got back into my car, it returned--an unlikable sensation that feels as if my head is slowly detaching from my body and has its own wretched and thrumming pulse. My anxiety attacks of this nature keep shape-shifting, just to keep me on my toes. Several years ago, they would appear in the form of panic attacks just as I was on the verge of sleep. I would wake with a horrible start, as if I were falling, heart pounding. A wee smackeral of Zoloft fixed all that. But then it crept back, this time in the form of heart palpitations, strange pains, and unexplained dizziness.

This is all making me very depressed. I do not like feeling dizzy. Merry Go Rounds make me sick. Spinning in the grass and falling down is BAD. And I do not like rollercoasters, by the way. Don't ever invite me to go on one. This video, supposed to be amusing, made me MAD. Poor little tubby child! And his caregiver should be chased by a bevy of fat, angry children, who should pelt her with large, uncooked beets.

There are some distasteful things about hypochondria. One is that you often think you are dying. Second, if you were really were to be dying, you would assume it was hypochondria and refuse to see a doctor, assuming she would give you that amused little smile again that says volumes: "Oh you poor dear. You're as healthy as a horse! Your heart beats like a sturdy engine! Your cholesterol is magnificent! Now, please don't bother me again." Therefore, you would die quickly and without adequate medical care and proper pain medication. Then you suspect that the "real illness" is actually the case and the whole nasty cycle begins again.

Of course, hypchondriacs never really get ill or die because it's all in their heads. It is impossible for a true hypochondriac to fall prey to any fatal disease whatsoever. Illnesses are all manfactured inside the brain box, after all.

Therefore, I will replenish my drink.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Great North Woods

I started this piece this a while back but thought I'd share it or, more aptly, find a reason to finish it. Yes, I can write purty stuff, too. I don't think there's one mention of poo, garbage, or liquor in the whole story. (But that doesn't mean you shouldn't read it.) SAS, this one's for you.

Riding on the Metro North train this week I was struck by a memory. Between my turning-of-pages, interspersed with dull glances out the window on new Harlem construction, it interceded—it found a small place of emptiness, or openness, and moved in full-blown. The memory was a small moment. But it began like this:

I was 21 years old, and back for my first summer in many years to the camp and love of my youth, Cragged Mountain Farm. I had been sent out on my first hike of the season with a cabin of 12-year-old girls, and the mountain chosen was South Baldface. We hiked up the first half-mile or so and found Emerald Pond, an ice-cold, deep beauty of a swimming hole, positioned just beneath a high rock. One after another, we leapt from the rock and speared the water, and we each emerged gasping and heart-stopped with cold and shock. We flailed to the side, screaming, and the woods were curtained with high, female sounds. By the time we’d clambered up wet leaves and twigs to the top, our skin was hot and stinging and we were ready to jump again.

Our trip leader, Kate, had neglected to pack the ingredients for our awaited hot dinner, and so we dined on peanut butter and bread in a dripping rain under the shelter, two miles up. I was young and strong, and volunteered that evening to trek back almost the entire way with a pack full of empty water bottles so I could fill them at the spring below. These would hold us for the next leg of our journey.

Someone came with me; I believe it was Mandy. We went down slowly through the dark, dripping, and silent woods, filled our bottles in the tugging ice-cold current, and loaded them into our packs. Then we darted back up through the gloom and emerged at the first break of light, where the trees became stunted by wind and bold, bare rock shone above. We spent the night in a three-sided shelter, snug in bags, and I told the girls stories to frighten them—the same preposterous stories that I’d been told as a child, and which seemed to terrify a few of the foolhardy nonetheless. Someone later said she’d woken in the night and had seen a bear tearing at a well-gnawed tree that tilted near the campsite. No one quite believed this, either.

The next day we shouldered our packs and went higher. The rock was bare, and we had to use our hands to haul and grip. Eventually the land was devoid of trees, and was just scrubby krumholz clinging to open ledges. That, and loose rocks that threatened to turn ankles. The path wound ever upward, to the summit of South Baldface—an aptly-named expanse of windswept rock. We went down again, and over. I think it was North Badlface next, and my pack was suddenly heavy and cumbersome. My knees hurt. I kept digging in, winding around the summit, searching for handholds. My gaze was fixed at a two-foot distance, as I was fearful of a misstep.

On the way up, I stopped. I turned, and unexpectedly gazed down into a great void and expanse. The hills were blue and effortlessly, endlessly quiet. There was a small thread of wind through the pines, and the great gulf of valley and green seemed to capture it and take it in, like a hollow bowl. I too, felt concave and open, and the wind tucked into my ribs and smoothed me out finer. My breath came up short and pounding into the hollow of my throat and I cried, but quietly, for children were watching. I mouthed a salty, silent grace of some kind for this land; perhaps it was a simple and trite “god” or “lord,” or perhaps it was something finer and more worthy. But I can’t say. It was one of those moments that we swear is unforgettable, but it is forgotten day after day in the drone of office fluorescence. It is forgotten upon waking, and upon sleep. It is forgotten every time we make a piece of toast, or put the car in reverse and check to see that the neighbor’s marigolds are well out of harm’s way, or tidy up the children’s blocks and train tracks in the small and thoughtless offices of love. But were I to be threatened with a loss of life, I would remember this.

This, and all the other mountains and deep hollows and streams and rivers, and the places in the woods where guitar music was the only sound for miles, as if our small bands of humanity were hurtling through the blackness of space. After that first experience of the mountains, there were so many more. On some mountains the wind tore through the small holes in my frame pack and made a high, lonely whistle. On many of the high places you could hear a white-throated sparrow keen “Poor Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody.” On the summits we ate stale pita bread with greasy circles of pepperoni (no condiments, thank you), and called it good, while wrapped in the fleece and wool we’d brought for just such an occasion. The stars at night were terrifying in their multitude. Who reserved this land for our salvation, and what if they should revoke their gift?

I went back to South Baldface. I went back several times. My friend Grace and I made camp at Emerald Pool, and I walked her dog along the edge so she could lap for water. On that trip, the dog scrabbled on the high, slick stones and whined and turned back, so I went to the summit alone with a group of strangers who brought a pack guitar. We sat on the rocks and sang, and now I wonder where they are, and who they were. I went back down and we slept in the tent by the pool, and the dog—a Japanese Akida, long dead now—kept guard in a fierce, tense manner, whisking ribbons of drool from her black lips in the night. Sometime the next morning, Grace bathed and I went off alone and leaned against a rock and dreamed clean thoughts into the pages of a small, ungainly journal I had brought. I thought, as I have so many times before and since, that I could stay in that place and be nothing, nothing at all, forever. And that was good.

How do I define this? I was made, and unmade, and made again in the soft afternoon light that slanted through needles and leaves and warmed the rock against which I sat. I carried a stick for many years; a memento from a trip during which my knee had swelled big as a grapefruit, and a kind and fearsomely tall stranger had sawed his walking stick down to size and presented it to me. (It now sits in my basement, next to my husband’s little-used skis and a rust-encrusted water pipe.) I thought about the dead a lot on those trips, and those of us who would no longer be, and where our spirits would end up if we believed in such things. I thought about those who honored the dead. I thought: Let me remember the Great Gulf upon the hour of my death, and I’ll wind up thanking someone, anyone, for the life I’ve had.

It’s been so long since I’ve felt the keen itch of the woods in fall, or the hum of the blue hills on the horizon, that were once so painful to me on winter city streets. I think, perhaps, I have given them up to knowing they exist without me. Or I have just turned from that gulf into the silent hillside, inspecting the rain-dazzled ferns and sodden earth. The silence of that place eludes me. Everywhere I stand, I hear the beating and crush of trucks and cars, and I wish I could think of the metallic ocean of noise as love—as in, a drive to return home to what is silent and best in the heart. I hear a truck revving past the light at the corner, hrmmm, hrrmmm, fiercer now, like a fat old woman striving to get up the stairs, one grunt at a time. Is that love, trying to get home? I think of sitting by the waters of Allagash Lake, while the moon rose higher and tricked the lake waters into believing in daylight, and made a path to possibilities on the far shore. And the water slapped at the stones and made an errant twig bob in the current, and one could think clearly again for the first time in years.

If we forget these places we have lost ourselves. Yes, there are ugly places in the north as well. Small ice-cream shacks by the roadside, with crappy and weathered signs and a wan, pimpled cashier with a tired, shy smile. When you come in steaming from the wilderness with twigs and forest detritus from your hair, and your socks are hot inside your boots, she seems like a burst of civilization. She seems friendly, and right at home. You feel proud. The ice cream is cold and good. You bring paper sacks of soda back to the van, and toss them like manna to the kids. It is, then, the reason for coming back down to sea level.

There are abandoned mills, their windows boarded, and smokestacks in Berlin spewing something unwanted into the air, and outlet stores for the dowdiest of females. There are places in towns where you wouldn’t want to live, not when there is New York beckoning. You’d rather live in an apartment, many flights up, where your feet don't touch the earth. You'd rather be part of The Life, and you refuse to go unnamed.

Now I have a little garden, and I dig and pick at it under the wide sky and the hovering buildings. There are quiet patches in the back garden when I can feel the sun's warmth and watch Vs of geese head south. (Why are they leaving so early? A magnetic shift in the poles, possible at any moment?) I have a job and a life that I can't leave. What would I do up there? You can't live your days on the mountainside, and the winters by Allagash Lake are cold and lonely. The night would swallow you whole. Here, bright lights beckon and the warmth of the friends with whom you've shared these places keeps you going. You laugh over dinner, and then you go back to work. The subway is hot and fetid, and the people crush in, and sometimes you long to be clean again, and bright, and forgotten to everything that thinks it knows you now.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

45 Minutes From Broadway

Back in 1906, one year after my house was built, New Rochelle was made famous in the George M. Cohan musical 45 Minutes From Broadway. (And 30 minutes from Grand Central, I'll have you know.) Apparently, back then, the place was just riddled with hayseeds and yokels who didn't even have a cafe in the whole durned town. And now look at New Ro! A metropolis on the rise.

This little linkypoo offers a history of New Rochelle that includes the interesting fact: "In 1930, New Rochelle had 54,000 residents, who, in the early years of the 1930s, had the highest per capita income of any city residents in New York State." The joint was rich, and a commuter's dream (the latter still holds true). The place was home to all sorts of artists, including Norman Rockwell, whose work graces the signs posted at the city boundaries. There was a thriving casino at Glen Island, where famous big bands played. It was considered quite a swank destination. Here is more about the city if you care to learn.

But sometime soon after, the "bummer years" hit our fair city, and the shopping cart population began to thrive.

Here I say: New Ro will rise again! Yea, like the mighty Trump Plaza (tallest building in Westchester), our spirits will soar and our property values will shoot skyward!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Global Warming: Yeah, it was invented to SCARE you!

I finally watched An Inconvenient Truth last night. (I don't get out to the movie theaters much; Netflix is my preferred vendor of films both old and new.)

This is a horror movie! No kidding. Any fool with at least one eye, one ear, and a modicum of sweatglands cannot fail to see the changes that are occurring right now. And one o' those polar ice chunks could start to melt any day, giving me the luxurious waterfront property I have always dreamed of.

My favorite part of the film is when Gore surveys a slide of the Planet Earth being weighed on some scales against a stack of gold bars. Hmmm...that gold looks mighty good. (He says.) I'd like to have some of that!

When is he going to announce his candidacy? I hope he is biding his time, ready to spring like a leopard when the rest of 'em have squandered their millions and weakened their voices from constant squawking. Although I am fond of Obama; he still seems relatively untainted. This film is the best campaign video ever made...with not a wit of politics in it at all. He has some real passion.

The good news is that we can do something. Go to the link above and check it out. I discovered that, by eating such numerous local, organic salads, I am already doing a good thing. And one other thing not mentioned is that these salads do not require heat--raw is good! I am part of the Raw Food Movement! Although a good filet mignon is hard to beat.

Here are stupid things that offend me that contribute to global warming:

Asinine plastic fruit packaging that is not coded for local recycling, to protect the poor, tender pears from a bruise.
The deli guys who put a can of Diet Coke into a paper bag for you, with a napkin and a straw.
Diet Coke and its ilk.
The people in Pelham who have ONE spoiled child each and yet drive monstrous SUVs hither and thither, taking up all sorts of room.
Scaredy-cat kids who have to leave the lights on all night. (Aww, I guess I can forgive them.)
Nurserys that sell little plants in plastic buckets, instead of biodegradable pots.
The New York Post. Its very existence.
Packaging for ^%$#@ children's toys that adds eight pounds of plastic, cardboard, and plastic wirey things to a toy which is junk and will be ignored after the first 5 minutes.
Flatulent cows.

Oh, I could go on. How about all those nasty factories burning fossil fuels faster than you can say "Enjoy your watery grave, coastal dwellers!" How about those lard-ass burpers and farters at the Radisson Pool, gorging themselves on beef raised on what was once verdant forest soaking up all that nasty CO2? [My fact checker is away on a guitar mission.]

I am mad, and my back hurts. I also ate one large cupcake today and it started to do backflips in my tummy, after it encountered the antioxident salad particles that have made the place their home lo these many weeks. There was a brief scuffle and the cupcake was neutralized, but not without some nauseating pain. Damn the cupcakes of the world! Damn their sweet, creamy frosting!

Thought: How does one become so evil that one is willing to be a "global warming is a hoax" sort of person? I mean, a hoax to what end? Why would someone bother to perpetuate such a hoax? To scare people into recycling and using energy-smart lightbulbs? Hmmm. Yes, that's it. Those people mean to prosper from the hoax! And if they do mean to prosper, doesn't it follow that...achieving a safer planet might also be good for the economy?

Or is that the Green Team, as it were, doesn't mean to prosper financially, but they just like SCARING people (a la Michael Crichton's relentlessly stupid and boring book State of Fear? Yes! Scaring people is good fun! The best way to scare people, of course, is to put together a bunch of highly scientific data that has to be explained carefully so that one understands it. That is a good scare tactic. That's why horror movies always start with a bunch of scientific mumbledy-gumbo before someone gets axed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Same 10 Questions I Always Ask Myself, Part Deux

1. What are you wearing?
A patina of sweat.

2. What's the nature of today's hypochondria?
Vertigo, and a touch of the cancer.

3. What was today's workout?
Hoisting small boys up and down the stairs.

4. How do you do what you do and stay so sweet?
The blessed, upturned faces of my sweet, pooey angels cleanse my soul.

5. What's that burning smell?
Our grass scorching in the heat.

6. If you were an animal, what kind would you be?
A dessicated frog, lying splayed on the asphalt.

7. What are you drinking, and why?
A bottle of Saranac Belgian White. Water, to wash down the Xanax.

8. In what ways hast thou offended?
I have failed to live up to my full potential in 654 ways, to date.

9. What's the next big thing?
The human race will become extinct in 5,643 years. A mutant gnomelike creature will evolve from the pygmy marmoset, and will gain the gift of language in another 3 million years. They will furiously debate in the existence of the human race on school boards for their future public schools, which will be failing and decrepit due to an act remarkably similar to "NCLB."

10. Music selection?
Laurie Berkner, Buzz Buzz
I like "Pig on Her Head." It makes the kiddies dance like mad!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Little Poo-Poo Snowballs With Wheels

On Sunday night, my youngest child flung himself out of his crib and landed on the floor with a heavy thump, which I did not hear since I was on my porch tossing eggs at speeding cars. I know, however, that there was a thump. Revered Son # 1 came to fetch me with the news.

The poor little mite must have addled his brains because the very next day, at precisely 1:30 p.m., he removed his diaper during his nap, pooed wantonly and prolifically all over the cribsheets and rails, smeared the poo on himself, and then...he molded poo snowballs around two wooden choo-choo trains that he had inside the crib. The trains were barely visible inside their doody casings, except for their little wheels that poked out. With said wheels, he had run the trains energetically around the crib, no doubt with "puffa puffa" noises and various other sounds familiar to train enthusiasts.

For those who were worried, Stinky Teddy escaped completely unscathed.

The very odd thing was is that I at first intended to "save the sheets and trains." Maybe this is some deep-seated frugality I inherited from my mother, who saves five peas left over from dinner in a small Tupperware item in the back of the fridge, until they are discovered months later. I tossed the objects in the sink, poured a bunch of Dr. Bronner's magical peppermint Castille soap over the lot, and filled it with water. This was a very bad idea, as poo chunks rose to the surface and bobbed about. No matter, I was busy running the tub to bathe both boys. Did I mention that the older one also had a nasty poo in his pull-up? No?

As I scrubbed the wee urchins free of faeces, I kept glancing at the clock. It was now 1;40. At 2:00 p.m. I had a Very Important Appointment at the Sunoco Station in Larchmont to get the car inspected. That morning, as I left the "Let's Pretend" class at the New Rochelle Public Library, I spotted a police officer in a miniature car pulling away from my parking spot. I accosted him and it was soon revealed that not only had I fed the "wrong" meter (the one that was inside the white lines within which I parked---hello??) but that my inspection was expired. I pleaded, I wept. He was cold-hearted. As he went to pull away, I said to my children "Now there's an example of a not nice person!"

Something within the man cracked. He hesitated. He returned. Very reluctantly, he took back the ticket for the expired inspection (75 bucks) but left me with the parking ticket (10 bucks, if paid immediately).

I always knew, like Anne Frank, that people are genuinely good. Bless that kind, fat fellow!

After an arduous and sweaty trip to the police station, during which my children were run through a metal detector, the ticket was paid and I was on my way to a more successful day. But now, with the clock ticking and a small almost-two-year-old wearing "poo kneesocks" and a "poo hat," I was in quite a panic. I fear the cleansing was not quite as thorough as I would have liked, but I arrived at my appt. with a minute to spare. All was well. Our car passed! We played "Squirrel Family" in the Pinebrook Park across the street, as well as "Fire Truck Crew Putting Out Fire in Pizza Parlor," and went down the slide many a time!

On the way home, the offending child said from the back: "I go poo in my crib! I'm a-gonna do it again!" I feared the truth of his words.

And when I got home later, there was the difficult problem of the bathroom sink. Why on earth had I thought these items were worth saving? The poo was so encrusted in the trains' wheels that only a high-velocity fire hose could remove it. The sink was sadly damaged, a clear case for Soft Scrub with Bleach. I bundled the whole lot into a plastic bag and left it for our friendly garbage crew. Then I finished the awful job of "finding the bits of poo poo that I'd missed earlier."

Today, our babysitter reported that another attempt was made during naptime. Had the wee mite not been wearing shorts, he might have succeeded in his evil task. As it was, he only managed to scoop out some of his doody while still retaining the diaper. I may have to purchase several sets of new sheets at this rate.

"This is disgusting!" said his brother, and I have to agree. What next? I live in fear and trepidation!

ADDENDUM: While I was writing this my husband went up to check on the boys. The older boy had poo nuggets in his pull-up. During the removal, two nuggets fell out. My husband stepped on one and the child stepped on the other.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Area H and the Alarming Floating Turd

A new trick! I am going to try to tell my entire story of the weekend in VT through song titles alone. You can provide the music. Some song titles will contain annotated explanations for the uniniated.

CD 1: Why Don't I Live In Vermont? [Sufjan Stevens, where art thou?]

Track 1: Gotta Get a Job (in Vermont)
Track 2: I Work Remote, So Why Can't I live in Vermont?
Track 3: Investment Opportunities (an instrumental)
Track 4: Brother Egg's Omelet Emporium
[Our new business. My husband makes a damn good omelet. Why not in VT?]
Track 5: Throwin' Rocks in a Bucket of Water
[What we do in VT for fun]
Track 6: Pine Noodle Soup
[What my toddlers made with a bucket of water, fresh organic weeds, and pine needles]
Track 7: Rubber Chicken Drives a Train
[A guitar/singing jam with toddlers during which a rubber chicken ends up as a train engineer. Things are weird when one is under 4 years old.]
Track 8: "I Want That Gril"
[An ode to Hannah, age 18, from a 3 1/2 year old boy. A direct quote made as he managed to plunge his hands down the front of her shirt.]

CD 2: Area H and the Alarming Floating Turd

Track 1: Our Campsite Is the Place Where Backwoods Murders Happen
[Area H is extremely unpleasant. We fear death. We mix strong drinks. We request a new campsite.]
Track 2: Relocation # 5
{We get a new campsite, an RV one! White trash style! There's water and even electricity, and it's by the pond!]
Track 3: There's a turd in the water (and it's human!)
{We go swimming and see that something else is in the water, too.]
Track 4: Scoop it Up in a Bucket, Silvie
Track 5: Pour the Turd in the Woods, Silvie
Track 6: Hot Delmonico Steak
[What we had for dinner. It rocked.]
Track 7: When the Chair Tips Over, Jenny Falls Down
Track 8: The Boys Go Quiet in the Tent
[The first time camping proves to be quite difficult for sleepy little ones.]
Track 9: 3:00 a.m. Raccoon Invader Stomp
[Something is getting into the garbage. I scare it away with my super high-beam headlamp!]
Track 10: We Forgot to Pack Breakfast: S'Mores for Breakfast

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Pimple Popper, MD

I like when I can get in a Seinfeld reference in the very first sentence--nay, in the subject line! Wasn't Dr. Pimple Popper this nutty broad from Melrose Place ? She has a SUPER high forehead and, as crazy Kimberly, she blew up Melrose Place itself! Yeah, blew it up! And she had a freaky scar under her hair because she was nuts and possibly part of her brain had been removed. Oh yeah, I guess she's also in that show Desperate Housewives. I gave that show one try and got bored. Poo.

I know too much about Melrose Place.

Anyway, I saw my very own dermatologist today for my annual "freckle check." As she searched me for malignant melanoma, she said: "You see, skin cancer is unlike other cancers because you can see it! Most cancers are spotted by a spouse, or by the person themselves, because they are right there on the skin! Unlike something like...say...liver cancer, which just grows and grows and creeps up inside you until--bam!--it knocks you dead!"

Oh lordygodohlord. Should I wear a button that reads "I am a hypochondriac! Please do not taunt me!"

She found no melanomas or anything like them. I asked her about my stretch marks (thanks, German changeling child!) and she said bluntly that "only surgery will fix that now." But i much mislike the concept of a surgery that "creates a new belly button." YUCK. I like my old one, and I want it back, please.

Why didn't i wear midriff-baring shirts EVERY SINGLE DAY before I had children? Once I get the chance to go back in time, I will buy caseloads of midriff-baring shirts and wear them into business meetings. I had a great, flat stomach and I should have shared it with the world.

I suspect stars of having had tummy surgery. Don't you?

Of course, one could wind up like the awful Tara Reid. Why did she not choose a sensible one-piece?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

And so it follows...

People drive down my street in riced-out krap cars at 75 mph with NO MUFFLERS.
The same people need to be egged, heavily, with eggs that may or may not be organic.
If I egg them, I will need to buy more eggs.
I will also be arrested and will have to pay a steep fine.
Additionally, if I buy too many eggs, I will have less money than I need.
If I have less money, I will not be able to move from this house and go to a place where people drive sedately down quiet, tree-lined, well-groomed, lovely streets.
My children will go to lousy public schools and will become murderers and thieves.
I will spend too much time on my porch drinking wine, and my liver will swell up and engulf my brain.
My ankles will swell up, too.
I will become known as "that eggy old lady."
I will die in this house a broken, embittered old bat still pining for Potatoe, my lost cat.
Trump will buy my lot and erect another overpriced luxury highrise.