Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Rest Of The Time

In the moments between awesome new fall episodes of tawdry television shows, I am, in fact, trying to figure out what to do with myself. Well-meaning, and possibly envious, friends have asked what I do with all this time I've got now, and I should probably have a better answer than "Oh, you know. Whatever." So, I'm working on what it is I want to do. If not during My Whole Entire Life Oh My God, at least during each week. And I realized that what I really need is a schedule.

I was talking with my mom about this just the other day (hi, Mom!). Interestingly, even though we're at very different points in our lives, we both are finding ourselves with lots of time on our hands, and struggling with it a bit. I'm not complaining, truly I'm not. Having this much time is a gift, and I'm not knocking it. But it does, sometimes, loom. Big stretches of undefined time, like big stretches of undefined space, can make a person uncomfortable. Most of us, I think, really need boundaries. They help you know where you stand.

So: a schedule. Boundaries for the Week, if you will. This isn't anything I'm going to print out and laminate and check off, but it's helpful to have a not-super-rigid set of expectations for myself. So far, this is what I've got:

Mondays: Laundry. (Yes, big excitement there, but I'm only doing it once a week, which rocks.)
Tuesday: Fix a space. (Clearing out stuff, organizing stuff, whatever. Once a week I'm going to tackle a room, or a closet, or at least a drawer. This week, I cleaned up under the kitchen sink. So. Gross.)
Wednesday: Volunteer. (I volunteer with the snack program at Sarah's school. It isn't, you know, fulfilling in a meaningful way, but it's cute to see all the kids, and cracks me up that I'm officially "Sarah's Mom" there. Even the kids who know my name call me that at school.)
Thursday: Groceries. (It's gotta happen at some point.)
Friday:.... (To Be Determined. Or maybe just left open.)

Weekends can be weekends. Whatever needs tackling can be tackled, and if there's nothing pressing, well, that's just fine.

So, that's the plan. It's modest, it's flexible, and I can change it up if I need to. Not bad. Oh, oh, and I have a small goal for myself for this school year: I intend to experience something new once a month. Whether that's learning a new craft or other skill, or going someplace I've never been, or otherwise extending myself, at least once a month I'm going to try something new. I thought I'd missed out on September, but I just remembered that I, duh, started volunteering for the first time. September, check!

There you go. What I do with myself now that Sarah's in school.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


So, here's the thing. I... I didn't just spend the last two months doing amazing summery things and cute small-town photo-oppable things. If you want to know the god's honest truth I was mostly (deep breath) watching tv.

There, I said it.  I watch television! All the time! I love the teevee. Love. It. And not even just, like, PBS and the History Channel (although I adore Antiques Roadshow). No, I wallowed -- and continue to wallow -- in the dregs of television programming. Well, not quite the dregs. The liquid above the dregs. The backwash, basically. And I don't even mean while folding laundry, which, honestly, HAS to be the reason television was invented. No, no. All summer I'd finish doing all the cute fun stuff I'd been doing all day, and think about posting about it and then turn on the tv, and... Zzzzzz. Brain death. And now it's fall, so I don't even need to watch reruns of America's Next Top Model or Firefly (best show EVER) or see Master and Commander for the (conservative estimate) fifteenth time. There's brand new stuff to see! Yay September!*

But that's not all. When I'm not enjoying the backwash of our culture, and frequently while I'm indulging in it, I am lost in the world of Pinterest. You guys know Pinterest, right? It's like your own personal Internet's Greatest Hits. If you could make a mix tape of the Internet, this is what it would be. You know all that stuff you bookmark to come back to and instantly forget? On Pinterest you can SEE that thing that caught your eye in the first place. And -- and this is the real time-suck element -- you can see other people's pins (that's what you call the stuff you put up on Pinterest, pins; they're just pictures of what you'd otherwise be bookmarking and forgetting). It is awesome. You're welcome.

So there. Now you know the truth. If it weren't for the Internet and the teevee I'd probably have solved the fiscal crisis and maybe brought about world peace. I'll get right on that.

* Yay September, except for one thing. Downton Abbey. You all probably already know all about it and have seen bootleg copies of the new episodes from the UK, but I didn't catch up with it until maybe two weeks ago, and then only because I thought the second season was about to start but moments after I finished the last episode I learned that Season Two doesn't begin until JANUARY. The pain! Good grief. Thank god I have Ringer to fill the void.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Carrying On

So, hey. I'm going to just type away here as if I hadn't been MIA for two months. Things I didn't write down (but mentally composed posts about) include, but are not limited to: swimming, vacation in Maine, swimming, my cousin's wedding, swimming, trips to the creemee stand, trips to Cape Cod, swimming, berry picking, and swimming. Oh, and Sarah taught herself to swim. I may have mentioned that.

And then fall came, and all of a sudden: KINDERGARTEN. Best thing ever, kindergarten. Sarah loves it, I love that she loves it, and she's in a class with one of her BFFs, which we all love.

But you know what the best thing about this new kindergarten gig is?

Fresh rolls. Every day on our way home from school, we walk past a bakery that makes five cent rolls for the kids. For real! Five cents! Who does that any more? The bakery here in Pleasantville, that's who. The kids walk in each clutching a nickel in their sweaty, sticky little fists and emerge with fresh bread. It's adorable. I live in a Norman Rockwell painting.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Reveal, Part One

Phase three, part one, of the summer projects is, I think, complete!

Hello, brick!


The front part of the driveway is still a dug-out mess, but it's not being bricked. It's getting its own special thing. That would be phase three, part two. Phase three, part three (seriously) will be all about filling in those planting beds you see above. I'm pretty sure there isn't a part four, but who knows anymore? I've lost track. Oh, wait. Yeah, I think there is a part four (outdoor furniture). Okay, but I'm almost certain there isn't a part five.

If the painting ever gets done, this place is going to look sharp.

Monday, July 11, 2011

More More

Phase, um, three? are we up to three? of Tom's plans began today, much to my surprise. (I mean, I knew there would be a phase three, I just wasn't sure it was happening today.) Let's see if you can figure out what he's up to now:

Too close? How about this:

Oh, yeah. Trucks. At my house. Want to see what they did today?

Two weeks of this (I'm told) after which this view is going to seriously improve. Seriously.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

As Promised, More

So, as I mentioned yesterday (two posts in a ROW; it's a summer blogging miracle!), paint is not all we've got going on around here.

You all might not know this about Tom, but he's a fella who enjoys a project. Usually that project is writing a novel. Once it was founding a college. But once he finishes a big project like that, he needs to turn his attention elsewhere. Like toward trading in both our cars in the space of ten days. Or getting the house painted. Stuff like that. But this summer, trading in both the cars and getting the house painted wasn't enough. Oh, no.

This summer, he decided we should tear out the ugly old deck.

And put a big old hole in the side of the house.

And stick French doors in there.

Not bad, eh? And get a load of the morning sunshine coming into our kitchen:

Not a bad project, I have to say. Especially if we get some nice fresh drywall and new paint over the plywood. And if you can believe it, this still isn't the extent of it. In a couple of weeks, there'll be even more to show you. I know, you've got to be thinking, "What more could there be?" Oh, just you wait.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Friends, there has been some painting going on.

Okay. The barn is still red. But now, a more stately red. A less harlot scarlet. See, the thing is, I love a red barn. Just not that particular shade of red. Look:

Paint on the left there is the first red I chose. Paint on the right is what it looks like now. See what I mean? The first red was too pink. Or coral. Or something. It just wasn't right. Of course, the name should have tipped me off. The bad red was called Combustion. I should have had misgivings right there. The new red? Shaker Red. Duh.

But wait, there's more! As of two weeks ago, the house colors were this dingy mess:

I couldn't find a more recent photo of the pre-red barn, so here's a chilly blast from the winter for you.

As of today, here's where we are:

I think we're getting somewhere.

But paint isn't all that's been going on. This place is getting all kinds of interesting. I'll tell you more about it tomorrow. (For real!)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Talk Me Down

I'm freaking out. No one will care about this except me, my immediate family, and people who can see our property, but we are painting the house and garage/barn. The guys finished prepping the barn and got the first coat of paint on today. And it's red.

O. M. G.

That's... that's a lot of red. 

Okay, so a big change is hard to adjust to. And this is just the first coat. And it was still wet when I saw it, and and and...

And holy crap, it's crazy-red, right? It's like stop-sign red. Fire engine red. Harlot fingernail red. MY BARN IS A HARLOT OH MY GOD.

Very fortunately, I have a neighbor whose house is non-harlot red, and she still has the paint color. If I wake in the morning to discover that my barn is still as red as a baboon's behind, I can do something about it. But holy cow, people. 

It's one thing to make a mistake with your dining room color, but painting your barn to look like streetwalker headquarters is an error on practically a global scale. You can see the damn thing from space. If you look us up on Google Earth, that'll be us pulsing away in the center of Vermont.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Looks like someone forgot to post anything in... good god, can that be right?

Let's see. In the last three weeks (sorry), I've escaped a flood, gone on vacation, planted part of a garden, shnoogled (that's a technical term there, folks) my two adorable nephews, suffered through ridiculous-for-Vermont heat, complained through unremarkable-for-Vermont chilliness, visited a dear friend in the hospital AND welcomed her back home again, and done lots and lots and lots of laundry.

Also, Instagram continues to rock my world:

(Thank you to MiHae for taking this awesome photo of Sarah!)
Did I miss anything?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Three Years

Three years ago, I took Sarah to the elementary school playground to run around. It was the day before she turned two.

Two days ago we were there again, talking about how in a few months, it was going to be her school, her playground.

Three years. My god, she's going to be driving a car in, like, a week, isn't she?

Saturday, May 21, 2011


I apologize in advance for this post. I have become entirely consumed by the photography app Instagram. I've had it on my phone for ages now, but never really bothered doing much with it, until this week. And now I can't stop. I actually stayed up late last night messing around with the damn thing. It's just completely addictive -- you can crop and tilt and add filters and I luurve it. I don't remember where I first heard about it. It might have been Pioneer Woman. It might have been Dooce. Somewhere like that. Anyway. It's free and it's the bomb.

And now I'm going to subject you to it.

These are all just photos from my phone. But tweak 'em a little, and it's like magic. It's like... art.

But sometimes a photo doesn't need a thing.

You just happen to be in the right place at the right time when the sun comes out. Of course, that's it's own kind of magic, isn't it?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I don't know what's going on where you all live, but it is totally spring here. To wit:

Also, I finally started to start to get the would-be vegetable patch in shape, and found these:

It's harvest time, baby! Some of those are almost two inches long. Carrots for everyone!

To be honest, I had sort of mentally written off gardening this year. The effort just didn't seem worth it, especially with the veggies. And someone around here may or may not have said disparaging things about said vegetable patch and it's, ahem, "organization". And it just might be the case that that person didn't actually utilize the produce produced. And I might have said some, you know, words about that.

But then I saw that the garlic I planted last fall on a whim was actually coming up. And the strawberries an awesome neighbor gave me were actually growing. And then I sort of found myself pulling a weed from time to time. Before I knew it I was out in the drizzle with a rake, reforming the beds and pulling more weeds and planting peas and kale and buying scallion and shallot starts and it looks like there may be another garden this year after all.

But don't tell anyone. I'm trying to garden without expectations this year.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Trip

So: the trip. It was awesome. The end.

Okay, obviously no, not the end. First of all, we booked first class seats on Amtrak's Acela Express from New Haven to Washington, D.C. First class! I am forty years old, and other than my education, I've never experienced anything first class in my life. Dudes, it is a whole 'nother world over there. We had a table to ourselves, and people who kept trying to give us things. Bloody Mary? You betcha! How about a hot towel? Why, thank you! Could I interest you in some chocolates? You certainly could! It was lovely.

Also, Sarah discovered the world of the iPad (courtesy of our lovely neighbors, who lent us theirs).

She is a fan. It was her faithful friend for the entirety of the trip.

Just arriving in D.C. was an event in and of itself. I was too flustered to pull out the camera, but Union Station in Washington is a beautiful edifice. Really stunning architecture, and it set the tone beautifully for what we were to expect during our time there. We stepped outside the station, and bam! Capitol Building! Washington Monument! Crazy landmarks everywhere!

We laid low that first night, ordering room service in our lovely hotel. Sarah is a fan. She begged for room service for every meal of our stay.

The next morning, Day One, the site seeing began in earnest.

The Air and Space Museum. Sarah  is very interested in space (among many, many other things) these days. We walked through a model of the Skylab, saw real! rockets! and moon rocks and astronaut gear and all kinds of cool space stuff. Sarah's response? "Where are the aliens?"

Something I didn't expect, just didn't think about really, was the amount of public art in D.C. There were stunning and interesting and thought-provoking pieces throughout the city. This one, just outside the Air and Space Museum, was one of my favorites. Isn't it so perfectly Space Age?

We had lunch at the Museum of the American Indian (I highly recommend its cafeteria, by the way -- an incredible assortment of Native American foods). The building is itself a work of art.

Oh, hey! The Capitol. Again. Right there. It did not stop wowing me, seeing these Significant Places everywhere I turned.

And then. Oh, and then. The Lincoln Memorial. My god, that's an awesome sight. And I mean awesome in its truest sense, not the smart-assed tongue-in-cheek way I normally apply that abused word.

I did get a bit choked up a bit here. I really did.

And I didn't even know that this was there:

That's the exact spot where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech. THE EXACT SPOT.  Did you know that was there? Because I didn't, and I almost stepped on it, and I just about broke my neck stumbling over my own feet to avoid inadvertently treading on an actual Significant Place. Shouldn't they have that thing roped off or something? Or maybe the whole point is that anyone can make their (literal) mark in this country, even at a place already secularly holy, and that we shouldn't treat such places as being so precious that they become removed from accessibility. Or something. 

We moved on from there to the Korean War Veterans' Memorial. The wall there is etched with the ghostly faces of those who fought in that conflict, beside a company of US soldiers wading through a field (of pachysandra, I think). Fortunately Sarah was more interested in the birds wading in the pool at the end of the wall and didn't ask too many questions about why there were soldiers there.

She and Tom took a break for some Italian ice while I went to the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial by myself.

A friend of mine's father's name is on that stark wall. And I found him there.

His name was just about in the middle of the wall, in the middle of the monument, just west of where the two wings join. I was thinking about his story (which I won't tell here, it's not my story to tell), and looked to either side of me, and saw people looking at other names, remembering other stories. So many thousands of stories left unfinished on that wall.

I left, and found Tom and Sarah and we headed back to our temporary neighborhood for some excellent pizza and bed. It was one heck of a first day.

Day Two: National Zoo!

Somehow, we hit the zoo at just the right time. The animals were all out and still active (except for the red panda and the tiger). There were, by my conservative estimate, one zillion schoolchildren there on class trips, but Sarah somehow was not overwhelmed and got to see some very cool critters, including gorillas!

And lions!

And also elephants playing with tree-sized toys (and by tree-sized, I mean actual tree trunks hung by enormous chains from girders), and pandas eating bamboo and an orangutan swinging overhead. Not a bad first trip to a zoo, I have to say.

We went to an Ethiopian place for lunch, which Tom and I loved. Sarah got a kick out of the flatbread, but given that the mildly spicy food had jalapeno, and the not-spicy offerings were chock-full of ground pepper, she ate sparingly.

That night Tom went off to the event that was our excuse for the trip, and Sarah and I (and one of Tom's colleague's kids) spent the evening with room service. I swear Sarah was thisclose to turning into Eloise, she loved hotel living so much.

Day Three: More Significant Places

We started the morning at the National History Museum, where Sarah got to see dinosaurs! And a for-real mummy! And a mummy unwrapped! And bugs! And just all kinds of cool stuff. We could have spent the entire day there. But we moved on and after a longish walk we found ourselves here:

Someday we'll plan ahead enough to get the tour (turns out you have to make reservations ages in advance, but in my head, it's still 1980 and you can just show up there and they'll let you walk around). We didn't do that this time. But we had no idea we could get so close. I mean, we were practically in the front yard. (This was last Saturday. Thirty-some hours later, the very same spot was packed with crowds of people celebrating the death of Bin Laden. Is it possible that the President was being briefed on the mission while we were out there, taking pictures through the gates and marveling at the beauty of its setting?)

Oh, hey. There's the Washington Monument. Again. People, you can NOT get away from this sucker. We could see it from our room. We could see it from everywhere. I mean, I realize this is the point of the monument, but the thing is ubiquitous.

A quick cab ride and, there we were at another Significant Place.

I don't know why, but the Jefferson Memorial didn't hold the impact for me that the Lincoln Memorial did. A gorgeous structure, of course, and filled on every side with some of the most important words ever written in our country's history, but being there didn't move me the way Lincoln's memorial did. Still, a wonderfully beautiful place, and oh hey! There's the Washington Monument again, across the water.

We headed to Georgetown for our last evening, pushing through the ebbing and flowing crowds of people. Is there ever a time when Georgetown isn't just packed to the gills with wandering people? It was as intense as Provincetown on the Cape is at the height of the summer season. I'd love to go back when it's less... well, just less.

And then it was time to set the alarms and pack our bags.

Sarah and Howard (Jane's Howard; Sarah brought him "so I won't forget Jane while I'm away") watched the miles pass as we rattled our way north.

I don't think I can ever go on a family trip again. Nothing could possibly go as well as this one did. No crankiness, no whining, no scheduling mishaps. It was like the Platonic ideal of a family vacation. I'm almost afraid to go back, because there's just no way it could possibly be that good a second time.

But I'm willing to give it a chance. After all -- what if it's better