Saturday, October 31, 2009

So We Went Out Last Night

Last night, on the eve of Halloween, my husband and I met our friends The Editor and Toaster for dinner and a smashing concert at Boulder Coffee in the city.

(The Editor and Toaster actually have lovely, normal names, but I have chosen to use their google pseudonyms. The Editor is my hero because he quit his job as a litigator at THE FIRM to become a full-time writer. The Toaster is my hero because she let him, and more importantly, because she is the #2 reviewer on Amazon, and even more importantly than that, my one and only friend. And I know other reviewers are very jealous of our relationship. Ha ha!)

Toaster and The Editor’s brother-in-laws have a band called Extended Family. If you enjoy the dulcet tones of late sixties and seventies blues rock, you would dig this band. They have bongos. And a small child who plays the guitar for at least the first half of their show. An ADORABLE small child. Need I say more? (I can’t even venture off to rock concerts without falling completely in love with some small child I see. My purpose on this earth seems to be to gush over infants and toddlers and tiny rock stars.)

The band members, all male, were dressed up for Halloween as “dead rockers.” Buddy Holly was easy to spot, and Toaster correctly guessed the bongo player was Roy Orbison. I’m not sure who the lead singer was supposed to be… maybe Janis Joplin.

Boulder Coffee Co. Music and CafĂ© sells booze. The man behind the bar was, and there is no polite way to say this, a line Nazi. John noted that it was not a “belly up to the bar” kind of place. The bartender/barista was adamant that the line started on the right. If you happened to venture up to the left, god help you. John had bellied up before anyone else formed a line, but was told tersely that he was standing in the wrong spot. Whenever someone starts a sentence with the words “Just to let you know…” you can pretty much guarantee he or she is kind of an ass.

Later in the evening, a large, surly looking dude was told to move his tuckus from where he was standing and to GET IN LINE.

“I’m just checking out what drinks you have,” said large, surly dude.

Apparently, you can check out what drinks they have IN LINE on the right side of the bar.

This sort of attitude will not garner him tips.

The Editor’s brother-in-laws, who play in the band, are the husbands of his twin sisters.

Twins amaze me. I often forget I have twins when I encounter an adult set of twins. I always want to ask them questions… do you feel sad when the other feels sad? Did you like having a twin when you were young? If your husband and your twin were dangling from a cliff and you could only save one, who would you choose?

Twins are awesome. These sisters actually live in houses right next to each other. They each have kids, and the whole environment is sort of like a compound, only not a weird fundamentalist Mormon type of compound, but a cool twin compound.

Twins are so awesome.

I’ll tell you what is not awesome, and that is deer. While driving the babysitter home last night, I spotted three deer in my neighbor’s yard at the edge of my development. They were ghostly in the moonlight. Or rather, ghostly in the headlights as it was quite cloudy. Anyway, they were ghostly.

When I returned to my development, they were still there in the exact same positions, their eyes glowing an abnormal shade of green. And I think they had sharp, glistening teeth. And pointed hooves. It was all quite frightening. I honked at them and they didn’t budge.

These deer are very brave to hang out in my neighborhood. As you turn into one of the streets that leads into my development, you will spot a sign that says “Shotguns for Sale.” The sign then states the house number where said shotguns can be bought. You wouldn’t see signs like this in the city.

Except for the creepy deer, it was a fabulous evening, even though I did not win an Extended Family t-shirt, which I would have worn to bed proudly every night. I’ve been told one might be “gotten” for me… we’ll see how that turns out.

In other news… I’m thrilled the Adirondack Almanack has chosen my post “Why I Hate the Adirondack Northway” as a Weekly Adirondack Web Highlight. I’ve been complaining about the Northway for years. This just goes to show that posting your complaints in a public forum can be rewarding. Yay for free speech! I feel compelled to write further North Country tales about my ornery grandmother and her beautiful habitat.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why I Dig Vampires

In honor of the season I feel compelled to write about a topic of much interest to a broad spectrum of people: vampires. Also spelled vampyres.

I am one of a minority of women who is not gaga over Edward the vampire. If you don’t know who Edward the vampire is, you are probably also in this minority and we should totally hang out.

Edward is, as my sister Mary eloquently put it once, “the ridiculously good looking vampire boy” from the Twilight book and movie series.

I read the first book. Thought it was… eh. I also watched the movie when John was out of town. I fell asleep because it was boring. (Read my review of the book on Amazon here, if you’re curious. Oooh! And give me a helpful vote! It boosts my self-esteem. And if you are one of the majority of people who IS in love with Edward the ridiculously good looking vampire boy, I suggest you not go there.)

Despite my indifference toward the Twilight saga, I will admit that I am, in general, secretly very excited about the latest craze in vampires. And let me tell you why.

Vampires are totally bringing pale back.

I am loving that the objects of people’s rather intense ardor are pasty peoples. I’m talking white as alabaster individuals without a sign of a tan and no desire to get one. Who knows, soon, people could be powdering their face white just as Queen Elizabeth once did. (No one says fashionable like Queen Elizabeth.) It could be the anti-tan-in-a-bottle.

Now if pleasantly plump was to become fashionable as well, I would be just as pleased as punch. 200 years ago, this was the picture of hotness:

(I clothed her... it's cold here in Rochester.)

Vampires, however, seem to be a skinny bunch. Blood must not be very high in calories. I’m sure there is at least one example of a chubby vampire out there, but I can’t think of one.

There are three more Twilight movies to be released and there are all sorts of other vampire movies and shows and books coming out on an hourly basis, so I think there shall be plenty of time for pale to become the “it” thing.

It may take longer for chubby to be the craze, longer still for stretch marks to be trendy, and even longer for people with frizzy hair to be admired. But I refuse to give up hope.

Our day is coming.

Monday, October 26, 2009

When she was good...

When she was good she was very very good...

but when she was bad she was horrid.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Steak and Books

Last evening, we jettisoned off to Buffalo to celebrate my good friend Katie’s 30th birthday. We ate at Hyde Park Steakhouse. It was, quite honestly, the very best steak I’ve ever had. All contemplations about becoming a vegetarian were vanquished last night. I like meat and I like it bloody. Yum.

Since we were in Buffalo, we took the opportunity to pop over to my former place of employment, Borders Books and Music (only I think now it should be called Borders Books and a little tiny bit of music.) Darn you, MP3s! The Borders in Buffalo used to have the largest selection of cds in the city AND the surrounding suburbs. They had the most extensive selection of classical and jazz and I used to love browsing their soundtracks section. The music department used to take up a majority of the back area. Alas and alack, it seems to be less than half the size of what it used to be. This saddens me to the core.

With the advent of the Sony Reader and the Amazon kindle, could this very thing happen with books? No. I think not. Certainly not. The fact that I have a kindle doesn’t bias me either or make me a hypocrite in any way.

We purchased some items and as I stood to checkout, I thumbed through a book that was one of several of the same title stacked by the register. The title was In a Perfect World, a novel about a flight attendant who marries a pilot and guess what? They have problems. I can’t believe it either… seemed like a perfect match. Anyway, as I handed the clerk my debit card, she asked me if I wanted to purchase one of said books to donate to Roswell Park.

“What’s Roswell Park, again?” I asked.

“A cancer center,” said she.

“Ahhh. I’m going to have to say no.” She nodded and scanned my card. She seemed disappointed in me and my lack of generosity.

“Can I tell you why I would rather not purchase this particular book for Roswell Park?” She gave me a dead stare. She was a typical Borders employee: long, straight hair, a nose ring, a tattoo.

“Okay?” she said.

I opened the book and recited to her the first line of the first chapter, which states the following:

If you are reading this you are going to die.

I gave her a dead stare and said,

“I am very disturbed that Borders thinks this is an appropriate gift to give to cancer patients.”

Her eyes grew wide as saucers. I gave her a curt nod and left the store.

Sometimes these moments just drop into your lap and you have to take advantage of them.

Happy 30th birthday Katie m'Lady! Guess what? You're OLD. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

(I love you lots!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thank you so much to Brittany from Mommy Words for bestowing upon me the Over the Top blog award. Very cool. It’s right there above my OTHER award. (Not bragging or anything.)

The rules of the blog award are below.

The thing is, I haven’t yet chose recipients for the other award I’ve received. So it’s going to take me a few days to get it together and pick recipients for this one, too. I’m such a procrastinator, even on my own stinking blog. So sad.

Thanks again, Brittany. Everyone check out Mommy Words at

Brittany writes funny, personal stories about her life with kids, builds large castles, listens to Regina Spektor, and occasionally passes out. All normal everyday stuff, I guess, but she makes it seem interesting.

Plus, she has a really cool blog layout that I am jealous of.
The rules of this award are to:

Answer the questions with only one worded answers.

Thank the blogger who gave it to you over and over and over… go over-the-top if you will…
Pass it on to 6 of your favorite bloggers…

The One Word Wonderful Answers Follow...

1. Where is your phone: Hmmm.
2.Your Hair: Tragedy.
3. Your Mother: MINE!
4. Your Father: Smart.
5. Favorite Food: Sugar.

6.Your dream last night: Oooh! Oooh! I’m going to break the one-word rule because it’s so rare anyone wants to hear about my dreams. Okay. So I was on this boat and we stopped at this tropical island and people kidnapped us but it wasn’t like Lost at all because there were roads and civilization and Banana Republic stores and then we went underground where there was this waterfall and sunlight even though we were underground and someone gave John a gun which made him happy and then we were on a plane and then I woke up because I had to pee.

7. Favorite Drinks: Ice-tea
8. Your dreams: Big.
9. What room are you in? Office.
10. Your Hobby: Daydreaming.
11.Your Fear: Loss.
12.Where do you want to be in six years? Here.
13.Where were you last night? Class.
14. Something you are not: Invisible.
15. Muffins: Jumbo.
16. Wish List Item: Laptop.
17.Where did you grow up? NYS.
18. Last thing you did? Yawned.
19.What are you wearing? Clothes?
20. Your TV: Sony?
21. Your Pets? NO.
22.Your friends: Jewels.
23. Your life: MINE.
24.Your Mood: Blasé.
25. Missing Someone: Naturally.
26.Vehicle: minivan (sigh)
27.Something you are not wearing:) Hat.
28. Your favorite store: Wegmans.
29. Favorite Color: Blue.
30. When was the last time you laughed? Morning.
31. Last time you cried? Sunday.
32.Your Best Friend? Husband.
33. One place you go over and over? Prison. JK.
34.One person that emails you? Yes.
35. Favorite place to eat? Closed. (Sigh.) I guess I need a new one of those.

Thanks, Brittany!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why I Hate the Adirondack Northway OR Life is Not Always Fair OR Wild Bobcats Attack!!!!

Warning: the following post contains a very sad story. I would say it’s definitely Old Yeller sad but not quite The Champ sad. I’m on a “write about the Adirondacks” kick. I really can’t say how long this might go on. This might be it. We’ll see.

I have a nice backyard. It is about a quarter of an acre, is completely fenced in, has some lovely trees, a small garden, and a large deck where the kids zoom around on their ride-on toys and occasionally fall off, wail loudly, and then do the whole thing over again. I enjoy my yard.

Compared to my mom’s backyard growing up, however, our backyard is a big fat disappointment. Our front yard too, for that matter.

My grandmother’s house is set on a hill, and in the winter, you can see the lake from the living room picture window when the leaves on the trees no longer impede the view. Their house was built right next to my great-grandparents’ home, formerly a white colonial with a barn where they once kept chickens. The yard behind both houses was endless and sprawling, flat until it reached another steep hill. My mom used to ski down that hill in the winter. From atop of Charley hill, you get a panoramic view of the lake.

The yard was complete with a rambling stream and what my mom always referred to as her frog pond. She recalls running down the hill, watching out for adders in the tall grasses, playing for hours by the pond as her Shetland sheepdog enjoyed the wide open space. Their home basically backed up to an Adirondack wonderland, a country paradise, complete with deer, a variety of chirping birds, and other wild visitors like skunks, raccoons, and wild bobcats that were always set to attack.


I’m kidding about the wild bobcats. I do know that a common form of Schroon Lake recreation was to go to the dump to watch the black bears forage for food.

In the late 1950s, construction of the Northway, an extension of I-87, began. Crews blasted their way through the north, dynamiting rocks and creating a freeway that would lead from Albany up to Canada, the only freeway in the Adirondack Mountains.

They bulldozed their way through my mom’s backyard in the 1960s.

When I was little, I used to pour over compilations of Peanuts comics. Perhaps you remember the ones where Snoopy believed a freeway was going to bulldoze right through his doghouse? He was really quite panicked about the whole thing. (As you would be too, if you had a doghouse you enjoyed perching upon more than anything else in the world.) Reading those strips, I could only think of my mom and her family, sitting at night in their living room, listening to the explosions going off behind them. I'm sure it brought back unwanted memories of the war for my grandpa. Teddy the Sheltie would shake and forever be afraid of thunder afterwards. The stream and the frog pond would dry up. They would become completely cut off from Charley Hill.

The funny thing is, after the Northway was built, my grandparents rarely used it. There is an exit to it in walking distance from their house. Instead, they took the winding back roads to Glens Falls or North Creek or Ticonderoga. I did not drive on the Northway until I was an adult, taking it over the shorter jaunt through the mountains because of inclement weather conditions.

I’ve never known that backyard without the Northway behind it. I used to lie on a cot in my uncle’s old bedroom, silent beneath the slanted ceiling of my grandparents’ cape cod home, and listen to the cars swish by on the Northway. I imagined they weren’t cars, but waves from the lake.

The Adirondack Park is so large. What were the chances the Northway would have to come right through my mom’s backyard, the home of people who had lived, breathed, and worked in these woods their entire lives? And whose parents and parents’ parents had done the same?

Alas, the Northway is now taken for granted. It was originally supposed to be built parallel to route 9. I don’t know why that plan failed. I do know that the “forever wild” clause in the state’s constitution was amended so that road could be built. “Forever wild- unless something comes up.”

Most people build their homes off of roads. Rarely are roads ripped through private lands. Such is the beauty of eminent domain, which I realize is at times necessary (or is it?), but it doesn’t make me hate it any less. I doubt that people who drive through the Northway give any thought to what was lost in its making. Instead, they demand more from it: cell towers that will enable them to gab instead of enjoying the scenic vista as they drive by.

Wow. I sound like an environmentalist wack-a-doo. Oh well, I guess I’m entitled to that one day a year. I’m totally thinking of starting a Facebook cause against eminent domain, however. You in?

And y’know what? When that kid walked into Alaska and injured himself and died and then when a whole BOOK and a subsequent movie were written about him, I didn’t hear one person call out for cell phone towers in the Alaskan wilderness! You may say, but Holly, I don’t think there were cell phones back then. To which I say, oh.

Honestly, I can’t imagine my childhood memories of Schroon Lake being greatly improved by the absence of that road. I still had a fantastic time playing in the backyard with neighboring children, creating crowns out of wild black-eyed-susans, learning to swim in the lake, hiking up Mt. Severence (a glorified hill, actually), and visiting with my grandfather, who I believed was the kindest and funniest man on the planet. I remember how dark it was at night, so dark you couldn’t even see the Northway and wouldn’t know it was there except for the occasional beam of headlights and the sound of a car on its way to who knows where. I remember that the crickets were louder there than anyone where else I’ve ever been.

I’m not opposed to the cell towers. Who cares. People live there, and deserve cell phone access like the rest of us. Anyway, there are already electrical wires entangled in the autumn leaves. And let’s face it… many of the homes (or shacks or trailers) aren’t so pretty to look at either. Especially the ones with tires and rusty trucks and the virgin Mary in a tub in their front yards. And I certainly don’t want to kick them out. Mostly.

I just hate the Northway.

I did often try to imagine what it would be like if that fence that protects us from the zooming cars was not there and the grassy yard went on, uninterrupted. Now, I imagine how much my kids would have liked the frog pond and how fun it would have been to climb up Charley Hill. What could have been shall never be. And all you can do is shrug and remember what my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Doty, used to drill into our heads: life is not always fair.

View from Charley Hill

View from Grandma's Front Porch

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"The Adirondack Experience"

The twins and I have just returned revived from a weekend of Adirondack fresh air. That’s actually not quite true. As I write this, Daniel suffers from a fever. Ella has goopy eyes. Things are going downhill fast over here.

Just the same, the weather up north was cold but pleasant, the pine trees fragrant, and the foliage, though past its peak color, was still quite brilliant in some spots.

There’s lots of news up in Schroon Lake, NY, which is in another large area of NY that is not New York City. Big news, actually. A cell tower is being constructed upon a hill close to my grandmother’s home. We asked our aunt and uncle when the cell tower would be completed.

“They’re just putting the branches on it now,” was the reply.

Perhaps you are familiar with the time-honored tradition of adhering branches to cell towers. I was not. This was apparent by the quizzical expression on my face. It had to be explained.

You see, the Adirondacks is a rare and enchanted place where little villages are interspersed inside the largest state park in the country. This is all lovely, but LIVING inside a state park means that your cell towers should not seem like non-state park cell towers, which are, let’s all just admit, ugly.

I had heard of this problem before. The APA (Adirondack Park Agency) makes a big stink about anything that might disrupt the natural landscape, including cell towers and other technological eyesores that pop up. However, recently a Jewish couple ran off the road and got stuck on the Northway… the husband froze to death after their car ran off the road. NO CELL PHONE ACCESS! This was a problem not only because, well, he died, but because he wasn't able to be buried within 24 hours of his passing, as was his religious custom. Hence, a Schroon Lake cell tower! What excitement for Schroon Lake teenagers! And hikers who like to talk and walk! And people named John Mark!

I would have thought that camouflaging the cell tower with paint would be sufficient, but apparently not. It shall be made to look like the strangest tree you ever did see. And that’s NOT ALL! Here is another example of where your tax dollars are going:

On the Northway (stretch of road from Albany up to Canada) are scattered rest stations. The cell tower will not be built on this state-owned land, however. Instead, some dude with lots of land is renting out space for this treeish cell tower at the fair price of about $1400/year. Why, you may wonder, would the cell tower just be built in an area that wouldn’t cost New York State a million bucks within the next 100 years? Because, imagine if you will, a New York City couple in their rented Prius driving north on the northway to go to a charming B&B in Schroon Lake. They decide to pull over to take a whiz at the rest stop. There, seemingly glaring at them, is a massive cell tower that is donning a tree costume. The horror!!! Their whole trip might be ruined. Heck, sleep for years might be ruined… think of the nightmares you might have if you spotted a cell tower dressed as a tree!

The APA will not allow cell towers to appear in public places because it might ruin the “Adirondack Experience” for some tourist.

The visit with grandma went pretty well, I think, though she may or may not have implied that I should contact the Supernanny for help with my children. This may or may not have had something to do with dinnertime, which, by the way, I HATE.

The twins weren’t terrible the whole time. Actually, they did very well on the five hour drive up there, but one of them was a complete monster on the drive home. In fact, the drive home is making me question their Halloween costumes for this year. I have already purchased plush Minnie and Mickey costumes, which are adorable, but I’m thinking a lovely angel costume and a red devil costume, complete with horns and a pitchfork, might be more fitting for this particular year.

Today, I was driving while my sister and mom were sleeping as we passed the “Leaving Adirondack Park” sign. I had to face that melancholy moment all on my own. We ventured down Rt. 365 through the town of Holland Patent, which may just be the town I hide out in if I ever decide to run away and form a new identity as a mysterious stranger in an idyllic small town, and soon popped back onto the thruway back to Rochester, flat-landed city that it is.

Home again. Sigh.

Loon Lake Marina

I call this one "Reflection of my Soul in Foliage"

Schroon Lake Boathouse Theater

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Is This the Little Girl He Carried

I started dating John my freshman year of college. Sometime that fall, he took me home to meet the family, which, upon reflection, seems a bit soon, but I went full of nerves and apprehension and a curiosity about where it was John hailed from.

Upon walking into John's home for the very first time, a little girl bounded down the steps and jumped into John's arms, shrieking his name.

Mary. The baby sister. Sweet Mary with long brown hair and big brown eyes and a perpetual, contagious grin. The impetuous daughter with four older brothers and a pastor for a father. She had to be special.

She was nine years old and, despite the fact that her older brother teased and tortured her over the years (I know… I saw the videotapes) she obviously adored him. And it could be that moment, when I saw my future husband carrying his little sister up the stairs, that my heart melted and I saw a possible future with him.

I watched Mary grow from a little girl into a moody adolescent (though moody for Mary is good-natured to the rest of us) to popular, busy teenager to a college student to, could it possibly be? An adult.

She grew up so fast. I watched her squabble with the brother closest to her in age, roll her eyes countless times at her mother, feign absolute horror when her brothers teased her, get dreamy-eyed over several different boys, bat her eyelashes at her father and inevitably get something out of him... and then there were the soccer games and the basketball games we went to, watching her, always the star, always a beautiful streak across the field.

Always generous. Happily giving up her bed to me when I spent the night. Sharing her sweatshirts and giving me the latest benign gossip, always with a hug and an infectious laugh, always falling asleep in some odd place, like the middle of the living room floor with her dog curled up next to her.

Then she became aunt Mary. She helped when I was at my wit’s end, a friend, a babysitter, a housekeeper when my children were just babies. She read books and played hide and seek and effortlessly cleaned my kitchen so I could run errands or meet John for lunch or hide in my room for a few moments of peace.

When I was on bed-rest, she did loads and loads of my laundry, folding her brother’s underwear, my underwear. She matched socks and folded shirts and put it all neatly into baskets.

She is one of the few people I’ve never heard say a bad word about anyone.

She loves her family, she loves God, she loves… this guy Carl.

Carl, who has accomplished the amazing feat of garnering all of her brothers' approval, who is kind and thoughtful and smart and who really, really loves her.

Last week, they got engaged. This little girl with chipmunk cheeks and a diary with a lock and key, who had a poster of Legolas on her wall and wanted to be a dolphin trainer when she grew up is... getting married next summer.

Dear God, I hope he knows how lucky he is.

Congratulations Mary and Carl!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Day I was an Obnoxious Fan

Yesterday, I went with my dad, his wife, and my sister to Stratford to see two Shakespeare plays. Two Shakespeare plays may be too many for one day. I only say this because when Daniel toddled into my bedchamber and awoke me this morning, I cried out,

“Who durst awaken me from mine gentle slumber!”

We saw Julius Caesar and Macbeth.

Both plays were well done and though I’m certainly no theater critic, I will say that I’m tired of directors setting Shakespeare plays in alternate time periods. Shakespeare was not a science-fiction writer, after all. Macbeth was set in 1950’s Africa and there were very loud machine guns which, quite frankly, frightened me. The actors, however, only spoke about slaying one another with swords and constantly referred to Scotland.

I don’t know WHAT time period they were tried to sell in Julius Caesar, but there were boomsticks in that play, too. Look, people. We all know Caesar was a historical figure who lived before the advent of advanced weaponry, so COME ON! I’m all for creativity, but toga/ Cold War Soviet attire? It’s kind of silly.

They were both bloody plays, and sitting toward the front, I could smell the blood. Strangely, it smelled like hand sanitizer and I felt kind of a buzz after inhaling its fumes.

In Julius Caesar, Ben Carlson played the part of the complicated Brutus. He was brilliant. This is the first time I’ve ever seen the play, and perhaps you have seen it or at least read the Cliff Notes in the tenth grade or something, anyway here is what struck me… why on earth did Brutus and the other senators allow Marc Antony to talk at Caesar’s funeral? And why oh why didn’t ONE of them stay and listen to his speech? I thought Cassius was supposed to be kind of a smarty-pants. Friends, Romans, and countrymen… we could’ve put the kebosh on the whole second act if Brutus had kept a tighter leash on Antony. Really.

I have a crush on the actor Ben Carlson. John knows about this and he’s accepted it, as he does most of my crushes, so don’t worry about him. After all, he has Regina Spektor.

I don’t generally have crushes on celebrities (not that Ben Carlson’s quite a celebrity) but rather fictional characters from television, film, or books. My crushes include but are not limited to: Jim from The Office, Sawyer from Lost, the Weekend Update reporter on SNL, Jack Bauer, Dr. House, Hawkeye as played by Daniel Day Lewis, Spiderman, Superman, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Rochester, and Han Solo.

A few years back, I saw the Bernard Shaw play Man and Superman at the Shaw Festival. Ben Carlson played the role of Jack Tanner, who gives, I believe, more lines in a single play than any other character in any play every performed. (It is a long play. John fell asleep.) Ben Carlson did not miss a line. He was funny and charming and witty and adorable and I was smitten.

On Saturday, I chose to see him in Julius Caesar instead of going to see West Side Story, which has received rave reviews, so now you know the depth of my devotion.

Guess what? I finally came face to face with Ben Carlson. He was walking toward us on the street after we left the theater. With the encouragement of my supportive family, I approached him and said, “Mr. Carlson? Would you mind signing an autograph for me?” He was very gracious and said he would. I also asked if he might pose for a picture with me. He did! It was all very civil.

Things went downhill from there. I put my arm around him for the picture and gave him a sloppy kiss on the cheek. I blurted out that I had a huge crush on him and that I myself could have been a great actress if I had put any effort into it. (I did not mention the fact of my husband or my 4 children. For shame!) I then broke away and stood atop my father's car and passionately recited Portia’s courtroom monologue from The Merchant of Venice. Because you never know... perhaps I could impress and become a Stratford leading lady. When I was finished, Ben Carlson was nowhere to be found, but there was quite a crowd of tourists gathered around me snapping pictures and laughing. I went with it and sang “The Star Spangled Banner” which was another mistake because we were in Canada.

Okay. The parts that are true are: I did put my arm around him, which seemed like a good idea and then felt awkward, and I did say, “I have such a crush on you,” to which he replied, “Oh no. I’m so sorry.” My stepmother snapped like seven pictures and then we let him go on his way, waiting until he was at least fifteen feet past us before we started giggling like schoolchildren.

So, here’s the thing. I told you I didn’t swoon. But, apparently, I do gush. I’m a gusher. Normally, I gush at appropriate times, like when confronted with a round-faced infant, but, on occasion, I act like an idiot and gush in admiration of (for shame!) an actor.

I must go now. I’m brushing up on lines from The Tempest, in case I should meet Ben (great first name) again. Here’s a passage fitted for our next meeting…

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits, and

Are melted into air, into thin air:

And like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on; and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.

I continue to play around with photos on I was going for... timeless. Though I swear to you, my second chin would not be so pronounced if it weren't for the angle of the shot. Remember the camera adds ten chin pounds.

Is not Ben handsome?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Talking is Important

Two to three hours of each week is spent trying to get the twins to talk. We call this “speech therapy.” It is, thankfully, free through the county. Your tax dollars are helping my twins say “mama up please,” “goggy bark loud,” and “No eat yuck!!!” Things seem to be coming together for them. They are putting more and more words together and are actually speaking spontaneously instead of running around pointing and grunting like little cave people.

Over the summer, our regular speech therapist was off, and we let a substitute therapist, or the “Speech Nazi” into our home. She was hardcore. While our regular therapist likes to work with Daniel and Ella together and to have me involved, the summer therapist (I’ll call her Summer) sequestered herself with one twin in the playroom for intense one-on-one sessions that lasted a full hour. Often, I would hear yelling and crying coming from the room. (It was Daniel, not Summer.) I stuck my head in and Summer would shoo me away…. “We’re fine. He’s just being stubborn.”

Summer made it let known that I’m probably hindering their speech progress. For instance, Daniel calls cars “gowacks.” Instead of correcting him, I found myself just adding this new word to my regular vocabulary. Now whenever we go anywhere in the mini-van, there I am, shouting for everyone to “get in the gowack NOW!”

Summer was not amused. She refused to give poor Daniel his gowacks until he said car, making sure the beginning consonant was crisp and nothing like “g.” He would hurl himself on the floor and wail and kick and there may even have been some gnashing of teeth. She would simply wait until he stopped crying while I stood submissively to the side, wringing my hands and biting my lip. He would eventually stop and go to her and reach out his arms for his gowacks, and she would implore him (sternly) to say the correct word. The tantrums would recommence and this cycle would go on, sometimes, for a full hour.

“I think I can break him,” she said.

I didn’t know if I wanted anyone breaking my two year old. I mean, I didn’t imagine “breaking” Daniel would be necessary until he got to be about sixteen. He would be insubordinate and rebellious and we’d call those boot camp people to take him away in the middle of the night. He’d go off to camp for a while and come home contrite and meek, and full of the knowledge of just how good he had it. At his high school graduation, he’d give a speech about how we never gave up on him. I would cry and blow him kisses.

I’m aware that my imagination is completely whacked.

Anyway, Summer made great strides with Daniel. We said goodbye in August and our regular speech therapist, who is laid back and brings crafts and moves onto other activities when the tantrums begin, came back to us. Today, in the spirit of the season, we worked on Halloween terminology and now I am the proud mother of a two-year old girl who can say “vampire.”

We also decided to go for a walk. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s real live sunshine out there today.

I could not find Ella’s shoe.

I spend an exorbitant amount of time looking for things I’ve misplaced. Last night before class, I spent ten minutes searching for my keys. I am in constant pursuit of my slippers. This morning, I couldn’t find my debit card. I KNOW what I need to do. I need to have a set pattern… put everything in its place and have a place for everything and adhere to this rule every time I walk in the house or take off my slippers (slippers are important to me) or finish putting gas in the gowack. And yet, without thinking, I fling these things to the far corners of my house or stuff them with the lint in my pockets and now years of my life are gone… wasted, searching and swearing under my breath.

I spent twenty minutes searching for Ella’s shoe. I found it, of course, in the fridge, right next to the rogue apple that’s been rolling around in there for a week. Ella was ecstatic! She shouted,

“Ella shoe! Ella shoe ON! Walk! Walk!”

We were stunned! Four words! Together! It was almost like a sentence or a phrase… actual dialogue! Perhaps she won’t babble incoherently at us for the rest of her life, gleefully twirling her hair and spinning while muttering absolute gibberish. Were there real thoughts in her little head? And who knew she liked walks so much!

The mystery, of course, remains whether Ella put the shoe in the fridge or whether I did.

Since neither Ella or Daniel can actually open the fridge door, well, you can draw your own conclusions.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

End of Summer Rant

I’ve been very social this week. This is unusual. I think Ella has been inspiring me with her insatiable zeal for…well, anybody, really. She loves people and believes she is the reason for every party. And when she gets there, she kind of is. This won’t be so cute in a few years.

All my children are social beings, although not to the extent that Ella is.

I do not know where these people came from.

Anyway, I’m not dealing well with the whole summer being over thing. I kept waiting and waiting for summer to begin and now it’s October. It seems we have skipped the most funnest season, and I am royally irked.

The trees in the backyard will throw up all their leaves soon. It was only a few months ago I finally got rid of all of the leaves from last year. These depressing turn of events make me want to curl up under a blanket and read Chekhov while eating popcorn saturated with real butter. REAL BUTTER! I think you can understand how serious this situation is. So, because I don’t want to gain 50 pounds or let my house be completely decimated by my children while I am under blanket, I’m trying to stay positive about the changing of the seasons. I’m a busy woman with lots to do. No time to mope and curse the people who invented daylight savings time… must stay connected with the general population! Must remember that spring is only, like, seven months away! Must remember that fall used to be my favorite season, what with the pumpkins and the cider and the changing leaves and all that crap.

One of these days I’m just going to up and move to Hawaii and that will be that. Pale skin, four children, volumes of Chekhov and all.

So… some of the things I didn’t get done this "summer," or our extended spring.

There was my hike the 46 high peaks of the Adirondacks project. I wanted to get at least three in by September. Ha! Ha ha ha ha ha. Hee hee. Ha.

Run a 5K.

Start my thesis.

Clean out the garage.

Have a garage-sale.

Get involved in my new church.

I remain an unfit, disorganized woman with an overload of clutter who is spiritually disconnected and disillusioned and who really needs to take a good long hike in the woods, preferably up a mountain. And I can’t get my stinking mini-van into the garage, either, which really makes me peeved.

In the spirit of the fall season, and because it is supposed to rain for the next one hundred years, I decided that today I would go to the Apple Festival and then later, take a walk with my family along the Genesee River. I accidentally fell asleep and so the Apple Fest thing didn’t work out so much, but we did have a lovely walk.

I must warn you and I have been experimenting with picture effects on the website If these pics look a little too Maxfield Parrishesh, it’s just because I got a little excited about the “VIBRANT!” effect.

50 feet into our walk, this happened.

This is the bestI could do. Not one of them is even looking in the general direction of the camera.

The mighty mighty river.

The mighty mighty boardwalk.

To Autumn
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring?
Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

John Keats- eternal optimist. We would probably not have gotten along. At least, not today.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Loveliesh, Christmasiesh Blog Post

People who blog and then start reading other people’s blogs (women, in particular) start to realize there are recognitions for superior blogging that come in the form of a badge you can paste on your OWN blog. And, if you are insecure and moody like I am, you may start to develop “blog award envy” and also frustration because a) you haven’t paid anyone to give you a great website design b) your idea of Photoshop is the edit function that came with the Windows Photo Gallery and c) even though you took a class in college, you are a horrific photographer whose good photos are absolute flukes. (Second lowest grade in college, by the way, after an eight o’clock math class that I missed six times.)

EcoMeg, a cool chick who writes a very cool blog about parenting and green living, has awarded me “The Lovely Blog Award.” I’ll take it, man! It’s over to the left. Isn’t it cool?

EcoMeg may have actually unwittingly saved my family's lives this evening. Her latest post lists the shelf-lives of various foods IN YOUR REFRIGERATOR RIGHT NOW. I had leftover ham in my fridge I was intending to use in a yummy quiche for dinner. (Yes, you can eat quiche at dinner. And despite what my husband says, quiche is perfectly acceptable for anyone, no matter what their sex or sexual orientation, to eat.) My ham had been opened later than 3-4 days. Much later, actually. So, with great drama, I threw it in the garbage. (Chicken nuggets it is!)

The deal is that I’m supposed to pick 15 blogs that I have discovered and award THEM the “Lovely Blog Award.” I figure, if this continues, everyone who has a blog out there will have this award, probably by the end of the year. Except people of the straight male persuasion, because it is definitely a very girly award.

It’s going to take me a couple of days to do this. But I will. I take this responsibility very very seriously.

My ego has taken SUCH a boost because another friend nominated me for this OTHER blog award and, get this, it comes with money cash. If you win. (John’s G.O.L.D. award didn’t even come with money cash!)

Look to the left… it’s all pink and says DivineCaroline. You can follow the link to the voting booth, where they WILL allow you to bring your child in with you, so that’s not an issue at all.

The problem is a) I have been entered late in the game… lots of people entered a couple of months ago and already have over 100 votes and b) people have to register on the dumb site to vote. Which is totally lame.

I haven’t even voted for me yet because I haven't registered. It's a cool site, however, and a fun place to explore. If you really love me, you will go on there and vote, darn it. (I'm a big proponent of emotional blackmail.) $250.00 in a Visa check card! Remember, I have four kids, two sisters, a brother, a sister-in-law, a brother-in-law, five parents, two grandmothers, two nieces, two nephews, and a really greedy husband to buy Christmas presents for. (THANK GOD for the Secret Santa thingie we do with John’s brothers and sister and their respective others. Because if we didn’t? EIGHT MORE GIFTS.)

Christmas is such a hassle. I always intend to start shopping early but inevitably wait until five days before Christmas. Since I’ve been married, I have spent every Christmas Eve wrapping presents while watching It’s a Wonderful Life on television, even though we have it on DVD. And predictably, only half of the presents are wrapped by the time I start crying like I just lost my puppy, which is always at the end when George Bailey’s brother toasts, “To my brother George, the richest man in town.” TAKE THAT MR. POTTER!

After that, I put in my other favorite Christmas movie, Gremlins, and fall asleep around 3am, that much closer to carpal tunnel syndrome from excessive scissor cutting, taping, and wrapping. (Actually, at the beginning of marriage bedtime was much earlier. Then people kept getting married and having kids and, well, you know. It’s happened to you too.)

People, I will so start Christmas shopping like two weeks earlier if I win this $250. I will be out there STIMULATING THE ECONOMY! (That sounds suggestive. Oh well.)

All this self-promotion is great practice for my presidency run. Merry Christmas!