Wednesday, January 28, 2009

There is no excuse for my absence.

Except I was playing with Kiley, who was here visiting for FIVE days...ahhhhhh. Heaven.
She left yesterday afternoon and I cannot believe how quiet the house is.

But today I went to the grocery story for two bottles of caffeine free Coke. Apparently so did everyone else in a 100 mile radius. There is a storm predicted for this afternoon and the crazy weather people can't make up their minds whether we are getting three inches or 18 inches. Thus the stampede to the supermarket.

What is going on? I mean, this is Maine, folks. It snows here. A lot. And sometimes the plow won't come by for, oh let's say, TWO HOURS!!! Not TWO WEEKS!!!
What could you possibly run out of in two hours that would be such an emergency that a meth addict would look at you in pity and say "Hey dude, sorry for ya.''

Now I can see if you are out of pet food or toilet paper. But Pop Tarts? Vinegar? Scented candles?

One woman had five gallons of milk in her cart. Either she bathes in milk or she doesn't plan to shovel her driveway until April. She also had four loaves of bread and enough meat to keep the entire Neanderthal population alive.
And the shoppers are also so GRUMPY. Mouths are down turned and eyes averted. Carts are racing through the aisles as if the storm will start and end in five minutes, dumping its whole load on the parking lot while they're in the store.

Me? I bought the soda, stopped at the library for a new book and a couple of movies.
As long as I have Coke, pretzel sticks, and Morgan Freeman, I'm golden.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Here are the birthday kids...

Faye (almost 28) and Daniel (almost 31) were born on the same day, three years apart. WAAAAAY back in 1978, when Daniel was born, Connecticut had a horrible blizzard. Really bad. So bad, the Governor closed all the roads to everything but emergency vehicles. OF COURSE I went into labor. My father in law was chief of OB-GYN at Hartford Hospital and he made it there through all the snow just in time to deliver his first grandchild, who, I might add, peed all over him. That was Feb. 2, Ground Hog's Day. (Which was so odd and bizarre and made for wonderful jokes because we had a hog farm!)
Fast forward three years, and I had a BIG birthday party planned for Daniel with about 24 people expected, when I went into labor again. My mom came over to watch Daniel, I went to the hospital about midnight and Faye was born in the wee hours of the morning, also on Feb. 2. I let them weigh her, do the Apgar and then I brought her home.

By then, little Daniel was sitting at the table having breakfast with my mom.
"Where did you go?'' he asked.
"To get your birthday present,'' I told him.
"Sit down here and I'll give it to you,'' I said, and he sat down on the rug in front of the kitchen sink.
And I handed him his little sister.
To him, it was the best gift - there was never a moment's jealousy, after all, SHE was HIS. When everyone came that night for the birthday party, we didn't tell anyone she had been born (it was less than 18 hours earlier and believe me, I still had that big belly and my loose clothes made for a good disguise and my mother had promised not to breathe a word.) Shortly after the party began, Daniel announced he wanted everyone to see what he got for his birthday. Again, he sat down on the rug in front of the kitchen sink, and again, I handed him his sister.

They have remained very close always. Daniel was a BMOC, football star, etc., and he threatened every boy in their high school to watch themselves around her and it got to the point she couldn't get a date. He was crushed when she began dating, cried when she left for college, wept at her wedding and is DEVOTED to her daughter, the famous Kiley. He was the first family member (besides myself who was already there!) to make the drive north to see her when she was born.
Even now, when they are supposed to be grownups, they slip into this silliness when they are together, talking to each other in movie dialogue and retelling every, every, every story from when they were growing up. They SKPE each other almost daily and he has been known to drive two and a half hours just to have lunch with her and then turn around and drive the whole way back. They both brag about each other to anyone who will listen.

They are brother and sister, yes. But even more than that, they are best friends. What more could a mom ask for?

Friday, January 23, 2009

We're having another party here!

The kids are coming!
I've made a salad and a HUGE shepherd's pie - it weighs about 174.8 pounds - I always make too much food. My gorgeous daughter in law Amanda is bringing her famous yeast rolls along with my son Daniel; my daughter Faye, her hubby Matt and my precious Kiley are on their way over from Machias in a light snow. I even invited my ex-husband because we are celebrating Danny and Faye's birthdays. They were both born on Feb. 2, Ground Hog's Day, three years apart. Matt is bringing the cake and the ex is bringing the ice cream.
The only thing that would make this perfect if my other kids could be here too....too far to come in winter weather, though. Two are in Connecticut and then Eric is in Afghanistan, of course.

We'll eat a lot and laugh a lot and Kiley will get to see how many people really love her.
Tomorrow I'm hosting a Goddess Breakfast (pot luck and everyone catches up on what's new) and then Matt is taking Faye away for the weekend and so I get Kiley to myself!! HOORAY!!! We are going to watch Higgleytown Heros and go outside in the snow and snuggle all evening together. I don't even care right now that it is snowing - the house is clean, the food is ready, the kids are coming! The kids are coming!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Okay, the party is over. Take off your tutu, Trudy, and put that feather boa away.

This morning I can't help but think about the first morning in the White House, how the Obamas are waking up on Pennsylvania Avenue (By the Way, how did Pennsylvania get THE avenue, anyhow? Why not Maine Avenue? How about the PEOPLES Avenue, or something a bit more regal like QUEEN's WAY? or BRING YOUR PROBLEMS HERE Road... )

First, the little girls probably weren't able to get past the Secret Service to jump on the President's bed. Did they have to root around in their Hello Kitty nightgowns to produce verifiable identification? Or have they had little microchips inserted behind their ears like their new puppy will have? The SS can wave a wand and declare "Yes. These are the REAL presidential daughters,'' as opposed to some alien, robotic, sent by Iran to blow up the WH daughters.

Inside the Obama's room, there was that lovely white, off the shoulder gown Michele wore to the all the D.C. balls, crumpled in a pile on the floor. (Didn't she look like a bride in it, completely outshining hubby? I would KILL for her legs and don't get me started on her shoulders!) Obama's tux was draped over the shower rod and let me tell you about Michele's bedhead do. Well.
Anyway, I can imagine the Prez, rubbing the little sandman grains out of his eyes, turning to his First Lady and asking "What's for breakfast?"
Immediately, 741 security agents escort three chefs to the foot of the bed, because - of course - they have bugged the Presidential bed with invisible listening devices. And don't even let your imagination go there...

Each chef has a scroll and reads the offerings:
Eggs Benedict, your honor and honoress.
South Western Omelet, sire and madame.
Grits and cheese, your holiness and the queen.

Does Obama go to breakfast in his boxers? Or does he have hot, low slung pajama bottoms (OOOOPS I digress...)?
So after cornflakes and skim milk, the slim duo head off to .... where? What exactly happens on the first day of the rest of America's life?
I hope the first thing they did was hold a voodoo ceremony to rid the W.H. of bad karma. I hope they burned smudge in every room and had a parade of priests, ministers and seers come through to exorcise the place. And then I think Michele would busy herself with rearranging all the furniture. Since the W.H. has about 82 gazillion rooms and most of them are pretty damn ugly, lets be honest here, she has her work cut out for her. Since the girls already spent three THREE THREE hours learning flower arranging a few days ago - a skill that will definitely help them deal with the press over the next four years - they are probably already pretty bored. Today could bring bowling, movies or just roller blading through forty million loooooong hallways - all without leaving home.
As for Obama, I bet it was like an ice water bath to look out the window and realize, this is it baby. The Presidency. I wonder if he ran for the bathroom. For sure he must have taken a few deep breaths.
That's what I'm doing. Taking a few deep breaths. Today is a new beginning. A second chance to get it right. I feel like we won the lottery, we found the pot of gold and the silver lining. (Could I use any more cliches?) I was driving down Interstate 95 in Maine when the oath of office was delivered and I admit freely that there were tears just a flowin down my face. I had to scrabble on the floor for some kind of tissue and all I came up with was an old, used, Kentucky Fried Chicken napkin with a mummified French fry tucked inside. Cars were actually stopped along the Interstate to hear his speech. I called my BFF Trudy and we had a little cry and then got off the phone so we could hear him.
Later in the afternoon, there was a party at a nearby bowling alley and the pink tutus came out andTrudy danced the "Yes We Can-Can For Peace" and everyone was crying and laughing and so, so hopeful.
What a hard, hard road this beautiful young president is on, the road to reclaim America for its people. To invite the world into the process of finding peace, stabilizing the economy and bringing respect, dignity and honor to every citizen of the Earth.
But first, Mr. President Obama, go down the hall and hug those little girls. Play a game of Candy Land. Tell them to make their beds and practice the latest jumping rope rhymes. Kiss your wife and tell her how spectacular she looked last night. Rub her aching dancing feet.
And then get to work. We have a looooooooooooooong way to go.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

If Kiley could talk, this is what she would say today:

Today my future in hope begins.
Today I can see to a day of equality, a day of peace, a day of genuine respect and global strength.
Today I can reach out my hand in friendship to my enemies, while being ever watchful of my own security.
Today I can be assured that sooner rather than later, Uncle Eric will come home from the Middle East.
Today I can have dreams for my children, and my children's children.
Today my leader is a man I respect.
Today my leader is a man with vision.
Today my leader honors ALL Americans, not just the ones that look like him or sound like him or think like him.
Today America will look not just to the wealthy or the fortunate, but to the unfortunate with a helping hand.
Today the rest of the world will start to think about coming to the table of peace, finding common ground in our humanity.
Today begins the rest of my life and today let the bells ring, and the choirs sing, and the people dance in the streets because today, I have hope.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

And now for a vision of spring...

I bought these lovlies earlier this week at a local florist - who, goddess bless her, calls me whenever a shipment of tulips arrives. There is nothing that says spring like tulips and the color of these is just such bit of warmth in the chill of this winter. If I scrunch myself down and look right into the flowers, I can pretend I'm on my belly in a big patch of bright green grass. It is deep into spring and the birds are noisy and the bees are buzzing in my ears and the sun is hot on my back. If I could, I'd sent a bouquet to each of you.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I've decided to use imagination therapy to escape the cold.

You know how you use aromatherapy to mask that you just cooked brussels sprouts, or, in my case, that my sons are visiting?
You know how you use physical therapy to fix the kink you got in your neck from having sex in the backseat of a Corolla?
You know how you use shock therapy to tell your mother that, yes, you are pregnant...again?

Well I am using imagination therapy because it is twenty three degrees below zero outside. I had to spell it completely out in words, not numbers, because it is truly that bad.
And so, as I sit here with my fingers curled around a hot cup of tea, I have decided to pretend it is summer.
Come along, close your eyes and join me:

It is hot. Really hot and humid and as the day progresses, it just gets hotter. The sun is so relentless you can smell it's heat and it creeps into every corner of the house and melts the candles and exhausts the dog and turns the children into lolling, crabby monsters.
But, it's a full moon tonight and the call goes out from Trudy: FULL MOON GODDESS PARTY, TONIGHT AT DARK.
We gather at her pool, just after ten, in our bathrobes.
We bring wine and tell stories and laugh. We hang our towels high on the stockade fence.
We skinny dip.
It doesn't matter that our bodies wear our pasts: the stamps of having children, old injuries, surgeries and abuses; it doesn't matter that we droop here and sag there; that we no longer have waists and that the tops of our arms wave like flags.
We are women who need the water on our skin tonight. The pool accepts us easily and we immerse ourselves into this womb-like place.
The bats from the old house next door fly and swoop, feasting on summer insects, and they just miss the tops of our heads and still we float, our toes and fingers getting all pruney.
The water is cool but the air is so hot and our bodies are so hot that the water is a baptism of joy. It is so dark we can barely see each other, just the light patterns the moon paints on the water's surface.
We swim lightly, treading water, talking in lowered voices.
We are careful not to laugh too loud, but we do laugh, deeply and often, at moments only this sisterhood can understand.
We look up and see the full moon smiling at us and the incredible clusters of stars scattered in the dust of the Milky Way. Someone asks Renata, who recently took an astronomy course, how to tell which constellation is which.
"How the fuck should I know,'' she replies, sending us rippling into laughter, giggling like girls instead of strong women bent under responsibility and duty.
Trudy cannonballs off the diving board, the moonshine flashing white over her nude wet skin.
We finally cool and begin to climb out, wrapping ourselves in our robes, leaving the heat and oppressiveness of the day back in the pool, letting it drown.
"Good night,'' we say to each other. "Good night." And we head to our homes and our husbands and our lovers and our children. We are refreshed, washed and cooled, reborn from the heat of the day by the cool of the night.

Today, deep in mid-January, the pool is dark, its waters choked with fall's jeweled leaves. Ice covers its surface and the bats are long wrapped in their cloaks of hibernation. My sisters of the water are scattered here and there, keeping their home fires as Winter's breath chills and burns and encases us.

But we can dream. We can slip into a memory.
We can close our eyes and swim in the heat of the summer.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside.

When I put the dog out this morning, all 12 pounds of her, she stopped so fast when her tiny feet hit the ice covered steps that her back end flipped right up in the air. She was actually standing upside down. She then did a u-turn and tried to get back inside, mucho quicko. It was -14, -23 with the wind chill factor.

How cold is it?
There are no dog walkers in my park today.
There are barely any snowmobilers.
Only 109 people turned out at an election yesterday for a new town councilor.
The little hairs inside my nose froze when I went out to start the car.
The car almost didn't start.
When you walk on the snow, it makes that styrofoamy crunchy sound.

And here is the really good news - it is predicted that tomorrow will be the coldest day in Maine in THREE YEARS.

I quit. Call the airlines. I'm going south.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wahoo! Libby at Nea's Nuttiness has presented me with an award!

I have admired her honesty in her writing for such a long time (both as a lurker and a de-lurker) and so this is very meaningful to me! Thanks Lib, I am touched and honored!

But awards come with rules! (Don't you know yet how much I hate rules?)

The rules for the Honest Scrap award:
The honorees are to:
A) first list 10 honest things about yourself - and make it interesting, even if you have to dig deep!
B) pass the award on to 7 bloggers that you feel embody the spirit of the Honest Scrap.

Here goes (and I'm not sure my children even know some of these things):
1. I have four tattoos. Isn't giving me a bath in the nursing home going to be interesting??

2. My first real job was tending the aquariums in a W.T. Grant Store in Windsor Locks, Ct. I was fired.
I have also:
Driven a garbage truck.
Sold baby clothes for Sage and Allen.
Been a waitress at Friendly Ice Cream, Wurdig's Restaurant and Tony's Pizzaria.
Taught second grade.
Managed a slaughterhouse.
Typed in a typing pool (in the days when we still typed on typewriters.)
Catered stag parties with my first and dearest mother in law.
Operated a day care.

3. I named my first son David after David Draghi who went to my high school and looked absolutely GORGEOUS in oxford cloth, button-down collar shirts. He didn't know I was alive.

4. I've skinny dipped in approximately seven bodies of water (not counting swimming pools) in four different states.

5. I was once so busy at work that I rushed home to serve my two children, Daniel and Faye, who were both born on Feb. 2, two Hostess chocolate cupcakes with candles stuck in them, before rushing back to work. I have never forgiven myself.

6. I once chased a herd of teenage boys out of a tent occupied by teenage girls who were having a sleep over in my hay field. They all hated me for that.

7. I have gone to Washington D.C. to picket BOTH the Vietnam War and the Iraq War. In a related incident, I was arrested for chaining myself to the capital steps in Hartford, CT., and thrown in a real "paddy wagon" and my father, a proud member of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Forty-and-Eight, refused to bail me out of jail. I was ecstatic but somehow lost my shoes and had to wear paper booties to court.

8. I was once kicked in the face by a man.

9. I was also tied to tree in my front yard when I was 12 by my brother when my parents went to a wedding. I was there so long I peed my pajama bottoms. I retaliated by whacking him on the head with a metal pot holder loom.

10. I have hosted 38 exchange students from all over the world - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, France, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam....they remain in a secret place in my heart forever.

There - I'm sure many of you know far more about me now than you ever wanted to...

And here is who I pass the Honest Scrap Award to:

Weldable cookies - who challenges me every day with her honesty.
Gladys Tells All - who looks the truth in the face and laughs at it.
Bluebirdbaby - whose softness and gentleness makes the truth run away, scared for itself.
a la mode - who has a direct and funny way of getting to the truth.
Chatting at the sky - who although she is from the land down under, is tops with me.

Alright ladies - let's read your 10 honest truths!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I am an agriculture junkie with dirt under my nails...I love

the smell of silage; I can tell the difference between horse, cow and pig poop.
I know how milk is priced ( a complicated formula based on the price of cheese in Chicago).
I know how to bale hay, milk a cow, farrow pigs, castrate piglets, ride a horse, milk a goat, steal eggs from mother hens without getting my eyes pecked out, the difference between a Holstein and a Hereford, how to tell if a rabbit is pregnant, how to slaughter, clean and ready a turkey for the oven, how to carry chickens and how to extricate myself from a barbed wire fence.
I have pulled calves from bawling mothers, rescued pigs frightened by a hurricane, taught my children to ride horses, lugged 55-gallon drums of garbage to the cooker to feed the hogs, grown vegetables, corn and pumpkins.
I love all animals so much that when I was a little sweet girl, in my little feed sack dresses and my little pigtails and my little freckled nose - oh wait, I didn't have freckles - I would pick up all the dead birds, flattened frogs and poor deceased butterflies that I found walking back and forth to school. I put them in my lunchbox. Why I never died after eating my lunch that had been sitting with some decomposing blue jay all morning is beyond me.
So when I grew up, of course I married a farmer and spent the next two decades raising hogs and children.
Today, agriculture is my reporting specialty at my newspaper.
And today was like my Christmas, birthday, Mother's Day, Fourth of July fireworks, a giant banana split and a terrific night of sex all rolled in one: It was the 68th annual Maine Agriculture Trade Show. Three days of workshops on topics such as cooperative marketing, sustainable agriculture, foot and mouth disease, milk commission pricing, .... ah, heaven.
I love it.
I seriously love it.
I love smelling the iodine on the dairy farmers' jeans while hearing about crashing milk prices.
I love seeing the women knitting while they listen to tips on energy efficiency.
I love smelling and eating the homemade sausage from Maine farm-raised hogs.
I love seeing the rows of fresh, green herbs in the little pretend greenhouse.
I love tasting all the Maine artisan cheeses.
I love seeing maple syrup evaporators, and Nu Pulse milking machines and the man that makes scythes and watching little and big boys climb all over the bright shiny new tractors.
I'm a pig in shit today. I couldn't be happier. And I get to go back tomorrow!!

But, I think I need to take back that comment about a good night of sex. That may just have an edge on beekeeping and seed saving.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The clouds stayed away and the moon shined brightly...

A soft glow lit up the park brillliantly, making the night light so intense that many of the skiers and shoers turned off their headlamps to embrace the night. Even non-skiers went for a brisk walk (which reluctant John called "A FORCED MARCH") Then inside we added a little candlelight and some VERY good food, and, course, some spirits. Here's what everyone brought: corn chowder, lobster bisque, mixed salad, hot crab dip, four loaves of homemade bread, stuffed clams, a compote of fresh fruit, shrimp, mixed berry, wine, wine - boxes, bottles and jugs - peppermint schnapps to go in hot cocoa, and a bowl of Clementines. ahhhhhhhhh
The best parts were the old and new friends, enjoying the eats, diving into the wine and talking for hours and hours and hours.
Here is Donna, Hector and John. Notice the poor demolished plates of food...we know how to enjoy, this group does!
Royce, Tom, Trudy and Alice converged for conversation around some of the food.
Trudy is telling a story while Renata isn't listening, but John and Sue are.
The porch was strewn with showshoes and the snowbank looked like a porcupine with all the skis standing tall. Inside, Bonnie Raitt, Tracey Chapman and Eric Clapton wailed in the background and it got so hot, I had to turn the thermostat down!

These are the most amazing friends - friends I sometimes feel I don't deserve but wonder how I ever lived without them. Everyone had such a good time that we are going to do it again at the next full moon, right around Feb. 9.
Wanna come?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Everyone cross your fingers, cross your knees, cross your eyes

and even cross your buns! Tonight is the Winter Full Moon Party at The Mansion. About 20 people are coming with snowshoes, cross country skis and lots of food and they are going to have a great time mushing or shoeing or whatever in the park behind the house. I'll ring the gong at 7 p.m. and we'll all come in and eat (pot luck, except I made a fabulous corn chowder and have plenty of snacks and wine). The moon is nearly full and it should be spectacular if those winter clouds don't roll in. Send me all your good energy for a cloudless, party-filled night!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Movie night at the Mansion was a huge success!

Especially because the movie that we selected was Momma Mia and if any of you are over....ahem, say 35 (but really 50) DO NOT MISS is such a slice of fun. The music, well suffice it to say there was a lot of singing going on in the movie room...which I've provided photos to show you! One shows the room without the lights dimmed and the other is with the movie on. Turn on the surround sound, pop a little corn and that projector turns it into movie heaven.
The movie was late (C. was driving it down from Sugarloaf and we forgive her because 1. she is always late, 2. there was a snowstorm and since she was coming down a mountain, when she comes, when she comes, we cut her some slack. There was wine and chocolate and lap blankets for those who wanted to snuggle. Can't get those at your local multiplex!
Anyway, we are going to repeat this fun adventure every single Thursday night: next week we'll go to a favorite classic: On Goldon Pond, which is a movie dear to all Mainers. Th Th Th Th That's all folks!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My best friend is going to Paris. URK UGH BWAAAA!

Sometimes the Goddesses travel in February to beat the winter blues. We went to Florida to visit friend Sue - what a great time; and then four of us went to Charlotte, North Carolina (here we are, the gorgeous quartet in the world's most fabulous candy store in Lexington). Notice our spectacular lips - we are nothing if not makeup experts. Also please notice the HUGE bag of candy Trudy has scarfed up. We are (from left) Trudy, The Queen, J and D. Great traveling companions until we got into a fight on the last day about who was going to stash all the wine bottles in their luggage that Trudy bought while on the tasting tour at The Biltmore Estate. There was also disagreement about how many times you can truly go to Krispy Kreme Donuts without people getting suspicious of your presence. The staff there knew us by first name and greeted us joyfully each time we herded through the door.

I'm thinking of heading south again in February or March with D. to visit friend Sue in Melbourne. The lure of the warm air, the sea, the manatees at their wintering spots, a leisurely visit to amazing wildlife refuge, and the cut-throat games of Boggle in the evening with a good bottle of wine on the table - they just keep creeping into my head. It can be a bit disconcerting, especially when the manatees and the spoonbills try playing Boggle in there.

But Trudy can't go this time - she is going to Paris. Yes, there it is. The ugly green monster has reared its head. Not only is she going to the city of Luuuuuuuv, but she is going with someone who sounds fantastic.

Trudy's son D is doing a spring semester of college at the Sorbonne and his roommate's mom, S., is Trudy's companion. S is an amazing woman: smart, lovely, politically active, funny, smart, did I mention politically active (which is like an aphrodisiac for Trudy.) I am totally convinced that she will steal Trudy away and after a year-long tour of the world, they will end up feeding orphaned refugees in Africa and will only come home to protest occasionally on the mall in Washington D.C. She will, of course, call and write frequently at first but the letters will come farther and farther apart and their tone will be more and more distant. Until she disappears altogether, only to be heard from during her annual campaign for food for her orphans every December.
I know that this makes me a horrible best friend, being so jealous of this "new" woman in Trudy's life.

I mean, Trudy is mine. MINE I tell you. And I'm not letting her go.
No, I'm not chaining her to the pipes in the basement.
I won't lock her in one of the spare rooms of the Mansion, feeding her only her two favorites: black coffee and dark chocolate.
I won't feed her amnesia pills and then convince her she is my long, lost sister who is agoraphobic and can never go outside and she is allergic to cell phones and Skype and cannot communicate with ANYONE except me.
I won't write a fake story in the newspaper that the terrorist level is RED and all travel overseas has been suspended.

Oh damn the lure of Paris. Gay Paree. Eiffel. The Louvre. The Arc de Triumph. Driving on the wrong side of the road (do they?). The cheeseries. The bakeries. French horns. The chocolatiers. The gorgeous men. The sidewalk cafes. The countryside, the rivers, the sea, the mountains. French kisses. The sound of the language which makes "I'm can't flush the toilet" sound like "You are the most spectacular creature on Earth." The cinema. The tiny-waisted ladies walking arm in arm with men with tiny pointed moustaches. French fries.
Oh hell.
When it push comes to shove (oh, could I shove her in the backseat of my car and hide her in a little cabin by the lake?) I will of course wish her a safe and wonderful journey, think of her each and every day, knowing that she is on a great adventure and will have fabulous stories for the Goddesses when she returns. She will be a converted Francophile. She'll be wearing a beret and carrying a cigarette in a holder and will constantly be mumbling things like "Merci,'' "au revoir,'' and "oui, oui.'' Her breath will smell like chocolate and she will take to posing with her chin up, while leaning provocatively against a wall, with the smell of French perfume swirling around her. She will move her dining room set outside on the driveway and begin calling it The Cafe. She'll feed her family French soup and baguettes and mounds of French vanilla ice cream.

But at least I know she eventually will come home, not because she cannot live without me or the other Goddesses. But because she will HAVE to tell us the stories...
And she better bring me a present.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Warmth! Sweet warmth! Last night was toasty and snuggly

and I slept like the dead. I think I'm getting a handle on these heating zones - although the sun is shining brilliantly today and helping to warm up the workspace...No more penguin colonies in my bedroom.
But - isn't there always a damn but?
Not the big butt problem, which many of us are all too familiar with,
not the cigarette butt problem, which HOPEFULLY most of us have conquered,
and not the buttes of the western mountains which is actually pronounced beaut... I don't get it.

Anyway, now I can't seem to get the damper on the fireplace correctly closed. I see a call to a friend's husband coming on.

Today I have to tell you about Skype and my Christmas present from my kids: a web cam. This device needs to be CAPITALIZED: A WEB CAM. Not only did I get to see my son in N.J., but he took the camera around his apartment so I could actually SEE it. So cool. I admit, it was hard to SEE him and not be able to TOUCH him. (Except when he, true to character, mooned me.) I got to show him the new painting I'm working on and he even had me hold up Emma, who misses him so much that when she even hears his voice, she pees a little bit on the floor.

That empty arms feeling came back when I watched my Kiley playing. The video stream sometimes is a bit pixelated (is that even a word?) into little cubes but Kiley's web cam is in her playroom. I feel like June at Bye Bye Pie who watches her dog Tallulah on the doggie day care's web cam while she is at work - it is incredibly addictive.
I almost killed myself and the dog last night when I heard the little bubble sound that means the web cam is calling.
Emma and I were under some blanket throws, reading (She was already a little stressed because she was reading "Call of The Wild") and we got all tangled up and fell off the couch and I crawled away a bit and literally unrolled the dog from the throw. Somehow I lost a shoe in the whole misadventure and Emma has decided to blame the blanket for the terrifying incident. She's been giving it dirty looks and haughty shoulder-shrugs all morning.

On the camera, Kiley crawls around, pulls books off the shelves, throws up a little bit on herself, grabs handsfuls of the cat's hair, pulls herself up on the furniture. It's the best movie I have none (Except for THE AFRICAN QUEEN which will forever been on my top shelf along with RUDY, REAR WINDOW, THE MAJESTIC, and SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION).

And the best part is: She sees me!!! She waves and says "HI" and laughs at me when I laugh at her. We even had a round of fake coughing going last night.
It's a magic bridge, a way to stay connected.
Do you remember talking to someone not so long ago, and wishing for phone-a-vision?
When I think of all the Jetsons' space-age inventions, they are already here!
I have a coffee thing that makes me a cup o' Joe in three minutes.
The inside of my refrig makes ice.
A microwave still defies logic.
And don't even get me started on cell phones, lap tops and digital cameras.
I used to have to wait for the bus to pull into town to ferry my newspaper film to the main office. Now, I can send photos directly from the scene.
I was at a fire scene last November, and from the side of the road I was able to write my story and post the pics, and one of the firefighters was able to read it on my paper's web site from his phone before we even left the fire! My car even tells me when it is icy out, not to mention that it can sense when the passenger is my 12-pound dog or my grown up daughter and turn on the airbag.
The Internet defies common sense: I can ask it if dogs get headaches or find a recipe for cauliflower and curry; I can find old high school friends or conduct interviews for work; I can enlarge my penis (according to the 11,386 email offers I get daily) or collect my $5.6 million in winnings from the ex-wife of the cousin of the brother of the deposed leader of Nigeria.

And to think: I learned to type on a manual typewriter from Mrs. Russell, who strangely sounded like Morgan Freeman but looked like Don Knotts in a business suit and sensible shoes. The adding machines still had arms on the sides that you had to pull down. And we still made calls from phone booths. In fact, I got high school detention for writing my boyfriend's telephone number on the blotter in the school's phone booth. What a wild child....

Sometimes this technological explosion is a bit scary - where will it lead? I'm not sure I would be comfortable with it invading my bathroom and hearing a disembodied voice intone "Queenie, you just missed a spot of soap on your back" while I'm in the shower. But it would be nice to have an early warning system that let's you know you are out of paper BEFORE you really need it.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Ok, so I can't figure out the heating zones here at The Mansion.

Case in point: There is a thermostat in one of the upstairs bedrooms, another in the front room, another in the master bedroom, a fourth in the family room and a fifth downstairs in the office.
Which controls what? Who's on first?
Why, if I set the front room at 65, is it 33 in the kitchen? And if I set the bedroom thermostat at 62 (I like to be able to see my breath when I'm sleeping - of course I look around when I'm sleeping and notice if I can see my breath. Don't you?) Anyway, if I set it at 62, it hovers at 72 and I'm dying. So last night I was watching television in the family room, which has its own zone, and I had set it very low. I was buried under two blankets and wearing a hooded sweatshirt and I guess I didn't notice that it was colder than usual when I unearthed myself and went to bed.
About 4 a.m. I woke up when my Emma was pushing me out of bed. She was trying to get closer and closer to get warm - WE HAD NO HEAT! It was 44 in the bedroom. I swear there was ice on my eyelashes and a colony of penguins had taken up residence under the north window. I didn't look but I do believe there was a polar bear in my shower. He was singing sea chanties and reciting "The Wreck of the Hesperus."
I couldn't even feel my feet and the dog, the poor dog, was crawled up inside my pajamas at this point.
So I checked and, sure enough, no oil.
At 4 a.m. when all good people are surely still asleep, I was trudging up and down the cellar stairs with wood and kindling and more wood. I got the fireplace in the living room roaring which helped warm up the rest of the house a tad.
Like one degree.
Like not even noticeable.
So from 4 a.m. until the oil man arrived at 9, the dog and I hugged the fireplace. I was gorgeous: a grey t-shirt covered by a lime green sweatshirt with hood up, multi-striped flannel pajama bottoms and navy and white polka dot slippers. Dahling. I was a vision.
So my front, the part of me facing the fire, was 970 degrees, while my back was 12. I fell asleep sitting up in a wooden rocker twice, waking with a start when the fire crackled and I thought the house was burning down. I heard the paperboy come and go, watched lights wink on and off in the neighbors' houses, and generally tried to keep my circulation from stopping dead by running up and down the stairs bringing more wood.
The oil man came, filled the tank, restarted the furnace and left, leaving me still in an icicle state since it took forever for the boiler to heat the water and then circulate it around The Mansion. (Have I mentioned that there are three floors, three bathrooms and 12 rooms?)
Now I am still in a pickle because I have to wait until the fire goes out so I can close the damper and then turn on that thermostat to get the living room, dining room and kitchen warmed up. I've run around the room and lit every candle I could find so that I could trick myself into thinking it is warmer. The poor dog has not budged from a quilt placed for her in front of the fireplace. I'm sure she's stopped speaking to me because she is upset that penguins are now living in our bedroom.
And as for the bear, I definitely asking him to leave, unless he can figure out all these thermostats.