Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Terrible Bird Incident, and other tales of wildlife

After abandoning the New Ro shopping cart herd to their relentless mating and dominance behavior, I feared that I would be bereft of wildlife in my new environs. Not so! Here in Mamaroneck, the wildlife is out, and it is about. There are herds of bad-ass squirrels, and the other night we spotted a skunk drunkenly sauntering across the front lawn and through the neighbor's hedge (Run! Be free!) The last time I saw a live skunk it was in New Ro and it had a Carvel ice cream cup stuck on its head. It had poked its snout right through the big plastic straw hole and was weaving about on Jackson Street, shaking its head madly. I was about to go and rescue the animal but my husband gently reminded me that it was, after all, a skunk.

Right now, as I sit on the porch, I can hear a Screech Owl hooting gently every few seconds. After each hooting call, something answers with a small clucking hiccup. What that something is is unknown, but it sounds an awful lot like a duck. Yes, a duck. Now admittedly, there is a "duck theme" on our street as the owner of Mamaroneck's Duck Inn lives down the way, with a profusion of ducklike and swanlike objet d'art in the front yard. There may be a mating quality to the back-and-forth interchange, or maybe the baby duck is gonna get et. The hooting and the clucking have now set the neighborhood dogs to barking, so the place is alive with noise! People are drifting out of houses in their nightgowns to see what's amiss.

On our first night here, there was The Terrible Bird Incident. In the middle of the night, we heard shrieks and horrible caterwauling. It went on for a while, and made sleep difficult. During the fight, we heard a loud and tinny "bang! bang! bang!" noise which added to the creepy mystery. The next morning, we discovered that the backyard was peppered with feathers. Some creature had come a-cropper, and had been pecked clean of its plumage. Several days later, we discovered the tail of a fish lying in the grass. No doubt the winged beasts had clashed over the prize, and only one lived to tell the tale (although we never found a beak or other evidence of truly foul play).

The squirrels are another matter. They are a lively and wily bunch of scalawags, and can be heard outside the windows as they gnaw incessantly on Black Walnuts. Sometimes they chase one another over the lawn, cackling madly, and hide up in the treetops to survey the property. They are feisty, sharp-toothed, and rather plump. I fear their numbers are growing. They like to hurl the Black Walnuts against the tin roof of neighbor's shed, which sounds like a shotgun going off. (Hence the "bang! bang!" sounds during the bird fight, which the squirrels must have observed with infinite pleasure, enjoying their walnuts like popcorn.)

If the birds and the squirrels decide to get together, we are all doomed.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Pony Ain't Got Nothing to Bitch About No More, So, Sorry Mom

Now that I have moved to the Nicest Neighborhood in Westchester, I really don't have much to be mad about anymore. Since moving in, we have totalled:

1 banana bread with chocolate chips
1 apple pie
1 champagne (still chillin')
1 bottle white wine (large, already gone)
1 offer to come and take whatever perennials we need from neighbor's garden
1 offer to walk into other neighbor's house at any time of day or night and take whatever we need
1 invitation to a delightful Sunday evening "ice cream social" down the block
1 invitation to a delightful kids' pool party complete with wine for adults
Umpteen visits from neighbors who have "popped by" to welcome us
1 promise to host a "beer and hotdogs" welcome party for us with "the works"

What is a Pony to do in such an environment? Accuse these nice people of a sinister, Stepford-esque quality? I thought about it, my faithful readers, and I still might go there. But not today.

Seeking a victim at which to poke gentle fun, I shall turn to my dear mother. She is visiting from out of town this week and is, I must say, an enormous help. Almost 80, she's been out in the yard chopping at bushes with big loppers, tearing at weeds, and dragging the refuse to the curb (yes, I tried to stop her). When not engaged in this activity, I have caught her sweeping, scrubbing at the kitchen floor, tidying toys, and poking and prying into every drawer and closet in the house.

My mother is a Nosy Parker of the highest echelon, perhaps the Grand-Dame Poobah of Nosy Parkers in the Western Hemisphere. If your dresser drawer is a millimeter open, that's an invitation to peep inside. Maybe she'll find a pack of cigarettes! Or birth control! Or a diary containing lurid descriptions of smoking and indulging in activities that require birth control!

She also has many opinions. Among them:

"That front porch is downright dangerous. I don't feel comfortable walking on that porch. You ought to do something about that right away." [The front porch is sagging and will one day cost us 30K to fix. Right on that, mom!]

"Your oven is a problem. Why, you can't even tell what temperature it is. How on earth can you bake anything? Something might get too hot and GO UP IN FLAMES. That could be dangerous! Here, let me tinker with the dial and fix it!" [The flimsy dial pops off and I can no longer get the oven to go on. I eventually fix it after much tooth-gnashing.]

"The screaming these children do. It's frightful! MY children never made such a fuss, not once! I have no recollection of behavior this awful! I am embarrassed. The neighbors are going to wish you had never moved here! Maybe you ought to close all the windows?" [When I questioned the validity of "my children never made such a fuss" she finally admitted that her eldest son had had "one or two tantrums" as a toddler. I know this fellow and I believe he had more than one or two button-popping incidents as a tiny youth.]

"The baby's spit-up looks rather phlegmy. And he spits up SO MUCH. Do you think there might be something wrong with that? Maybe you should mention it to your doctor. [I tell her that the doctor and I spoke at length about the spittling infant.] Well, maybe you should mention it to your doctor AGAIN. It can't hurt!"

Meanwhile, my dear neighbors watch her valiantly hacking at the weeds in the hot sun, unable to resist the call of duty. She fits right in, they say. She's so durned helpful and nice!

Friday, September 12, 2008

My Volunteer Spirit Breaks

My kids just started school, and the amount of tree-felling paperwork is unbelievable. I joined the PTSA so I think I will protest that this is not "green," but I'm sure if it's online only no one reads it in a timely fashion, resulting in missed snacks and unfinished homework assignments. And panic attacks!

The scariest pack of paper I received was the American Greetings fundraiser pack. According to this, I should solicit gift orders from everyone up 'n' down the the block for wrapping paper and other sundries. This would be essential to the life of the school! I was sweating beads over it when my husband arrived and pulled it from my clenched fingers.

"This is for mothers who do not work," he said, and placed it firmly into the recycling bin. I felt much better.

The K homework has begun. Admittedly, it does not involve calculus. But it's one more thing to worry about every evening. "Have you filled out your yellow circle sheet?" I asked older son, who jumped to the task because he's the kind of kid who will always do his homework right-on-time. I check the folder every day. I also have to prepare a nutritious snack every morning and make sure it's in that blasted backpack.

Volunteerism for my middle son's PreK is mandatory, because it's a parent coop. It's pretty cool. Everyone is earthy crunchy and wears Birks or Keens, and when you serve the fruit for snack you have to wear disposable gloves. Plus, no peanuts! No sunflower seeds! No crackers made in a peanut factory! No nothing that has been ever in contact with a nut in its entire lifetime! No meats! No carrot sticks! No chokey-chokey foods! It's all good, dude, but when I cut the apples at home I DID NOT WEAR GLOVES. I hope the kids will be OK. My fingers are dripping with liquid LSD. Gragagh!

My volunteer spirit broke today when, as a Special Events Committee Member for the Larchmont Newcomers Club, I realized I did not have the wherewithal to organize the Manicures and Martinis events I had concocted in my own brain. Why? Well, when I entered a couple of nail establishments and mentioned the idea, the women looked at me like I was a lunatic. I think the language barrier did not help. I begged off. I am under so much stress right now that I am physically vibrating. Organizing an event with martinis is difficult to do when you need 8 martinis just to survive at night. And 8,000 cigarettes.

Grhrhrhrhrhrh. Postpartum depression ain't pretty. What everyone needs in this instance is a husband who will say very sweetly and gently: "That's not for you right now, honey." And place the offending item--whatever it may be--in the recycling bin.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Calling My Invisible Hermaphrodite on the Mermaid Phone

Over Labor Day weekend in Lake Placid Eldest Son discovered a Little Mermaid cell phone in the room where he was sleeping, the item the property of a little girl who stays there as well. A fierce tussle with Middle Son ensued over the phone and Eldest Son retained possession, much to the grief and ire of the smaller boy.

He started to place calls on the phone to Harry O, his invisible friend. Harry O is smaller than the head of a pin and invisible to most, but he does travel in his own miniature car seat when he goes with us on trips. He can also fly, and his plane's gas tank is larger than our house. Sometimes Harry O likes to hang out in light fixtures and ceiling fans.

Since he kept interchanging his pronouns when referring to Harry O, we asked him if he/she was a boy or a girl.


"How can he be both?" said my friend.

"Well, he was born that way. So were all his friends. They are all boys and girls, both."

"So, they are all hermaphrodites?"

"Why, yes."

He picked up the Ariel phone and dialed with a self-important air.

"Harry O!" he barked into the little pastel-colored unit. "You are going in time out if you don't listen! I put you in a time out!"
He got off the phone with a small "harumph."

"Dat Harry O! She is 14 years old," he announced, and went off with the phone in his pocket.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sals versus Fratellis: Pizza Cage Match

In our new locale of Mamaroneck, Sal's is reputed to be 'the bomb.' But we have to say that in our former New Ro locale, a little joint called Fratellis was actually superior. It's right there on Huguenot as one approaches the New Ro cityscape from the Northeast. Here are some essential differences:
1. Fratellis delivers to your door. Sals does not.
2. Fratellis features fresh shrooms. Sals are canned.
3. Fratellis: Less greasy. Sals: Leaves a greasy patina on the hands from the undercarriage of the pizza.
4. Pepperoni: In this regard, Sal's may triumph. Their pig circles may be crisper. But Fratelli's pig circles are undeniably tasty.
5. Overall flavor: Sals seems doughier and less spicy. Fratellis had that "I must eat it all NOW TONIGHT" flavor.
Overall, Sals is a very solid pizza worth some acclaim. But Fratellis deserves some props for its superior quality and taste-a-riffic-ness.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Santa's Motheaten Workshop

Over Labor Day weekend we went to Lake Placid, which is remarkably close to the wonder that is known as Santa's Workshop. Boasting its own post office (North Pole, NY), it's a theme park for all things Christmas and kitsch. The dreadful fact is that Santa and his motheaten reindeer have seen better days. A train rumbles by tumbledown cabins. Santa and the Mrs. sit in a little house with a fake, electric fire in the hearth. And there is even a sketchy-looking mini-rollercoaster and a ferris wheel for infants! The cost for two adults and two children? A painful 77 bucks, and I enjoyed every penny, I tell you! Herewith, my photo essay.

Frosty, the stuff of nightmares.

Mrrrranda Mouse. Note the gnawed-upon nose.

Chris Moose. Stoned teen: "Hey Chris, got yer stash?" Moose: "It's in my sock."

Sam and Sandy, the singing duo of Rag Doll Romp. I have never heard such horrible singing.

Feral reindeer with glued-on antlers. We fed them wafers as they sat fat and filled with hate in their pens.

Rowdy Reindeer. Headed to the Pain Cave for a smoke break, man.

Weird nativity play performed with no thought for the nearsighted, on a hillside far, far away. Stoned teens' acting is astounding!