Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the skies
All is well, safely rest;


God is nigh.

Happy Memorial Day.
Remember our veterans, today and every day.


You Are My Sunshine

The first video taken with our new (HD!) camera could not be more perfect:

Whatever you're doing today, enjoy the sunshine!


Once More, With Feeling

We're getting a new video camera today (in theory, anyway), so I gave the ol' Crap Cam one last hurrah:

More stuff this weekend, because Joey is in town. Yippee!


The Rachel ZOMG Project

Have you guys ever heard of celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe? Have you ever seen her TV show on Bravo? Did you ever consider, just for the sake of entertainment, subscribing to her daily newsletter, where she sends out fashion and styling tips that almost always feature some kind of ridiculously expensive thing, like "summer booties" that have 6" heels and are made out of gold lamé, chain mail, and kitten fur, or, to cite another recent example, designer leather cargo pants that cost $6,450? Seriously, check it out -- it is B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Anyway. Every once in a while she puts together these "special report" guides to what she thinks you need for the season. Sometimes there is some cute stuff, sometimes there is some really weird stuff, sometimes there is stuff that costs more than the mortgage to my house. None of it fits me, of course, because I am not the same shape and weight as an asparagus, but everybody's got their something.

Why am I giving her all this free advertising? I don't know, really. She fascinates me in the same way that a train wreck or a giant fish tank filled with starving rabid piranha eating a cow might fascinate me. I can't wear any of the clothes she ever recommends -- she deals primarily in couture designers, so nothing comes bigger than a size 6 anyway, and when she makes a "real world" alternate suggestion, it's for an $800 knockoff of a $10,000 rug, and even that is out of my price range, you know? And I won't necessarily go so far as to say that she is outright tacky, but ... well, she's not always my style. Let's leave it at that.

She kind of inspires me in some weird way, though, so I have put together my very first "ZOMG Report" by me, Rachel ZOMG. We'll call this collection "Swing Set Summer," my own version of RZ's "Jet Set Summer" collection, and I'm featuring all the absolute must-haves for a preschooler on her way to the pool this summer:


"Your summer 'uniform' should be brightly colored to show the world how happy you are, but pack a T-shirt in your bag to cover up when the sun gets too hot."


"Earn your wrinkles the old-fashioned way: by laughing! Look great while protecting yourself from the sun's harmful rays. Yard-sale vintage accessories are always in."


"Keep your pedicure neat and protect your polish poolside with these snazzy water sandals. Use the squirter to keep yourself cool while you walk along the beach letting everyone admire your sun-kissed glow."


"Dry off, and then dry out ... and keep warm with this snuggly cover-up poncho that features ironic snow-skiing illustrations. One of the best yard-sale finds ever. I DIE!"


"Hold yourself (and your stuff) together with this totally cute bag that is big enough to hold all your necessities, with room to spare for books and games."


Hey, maybe this celebrity stylist gig isn't so bad after all. Anybody know any famous people who shop at Target and Dollar General? I have a pitch for them.


Garden State of Mind

We visited with my mother-in-law over the weekend. She is still recovering from emergency eye surgery a few weeks ago, when she had a retinal tear and they ended up doing something with lasers and gas bubbles to fix her all up. I'm not really sure of the particulars, really, but she wore an eyepatch for a week or so, which Shae thought was awesome.

Gigi's Irises

My MIL lives in a different part of the same town that my parents live in. Her house and yard are much smaller than my parents', and nobody really has a green thumb quite like My Anonymous Mother, but MIL's yard is still rather charming in its way. She has a lot of violas all over the place, and various things in pots, and these irises, which I love. Irises are periodically my favorite flower, in heavy rotation with hydrangeas, delphiniums, Gerbera daisies, and sunflowers.

Birdbath 3

She's set up her backyard to look like a little courtyard cafe is tucked back there. She has a lot of solar lights and tchotchkes and a beautiful birdbath made of mosaic tile with lots of reds and yellows and blues in it. And, since it had water, Shae spent most of the day playing with it.

Birdbath 2

All afternoon she would scoop out water with her little plastic shovel, pour it into her bucket, and after she did that half a dozen times or so, she would dribble the water out of her bucket onto some poor unsuspecting weed, or pair of shoes.

Birdbath 1

She takes right after my mother. It was more than a little disturbing, seeing a miniature version of my mom taking care of my MIL's garden. Very meta.


LOST (In The Backyard Because The Neighbors Apparently Don't Have A Mower)

Oh, you thought I was going to recap the series finale of LOST, did you? HAHAHAHA no. Because you know what? Do your own homework. This show is a piece of work and a piece of art and last night it totally gave me peace of mind, and that is all I will say. I really liked the ending, and I found out what happened to the dog. Good enough for now. We can talk about it in a couple of weeks, once I've watched everything from beginning to end again.

Also: call me, Daniel Faraday!

Instead I have some pictures from the weekend, when Shae and I spent about 15 minutes outside, getting in some camping practice.

Backpack Redux

Fifteen minutes was enough time to help me decide that I definitely need to go back and add "copious amounts of Valium" to the list of foodstuffs we need to pack for our trip. I think I'll add it to the columns for breakfast, lunch, dinner, AND snacks.


We haven't decided yet whether we're packing this Barbie tent to bring with us, or what. On the one hand, it's so very vomitously pink and flowery and I have no idea why, but Shae thinks this is a "princess tent." AS IF. But on the other hand, she does seem to like it. Maybe it's a nice hangout for reading books and doing puzzles or playing hide-and-seek or something. But on yet another hand, it's an extra thing to pack, so I just don't know.

High Grass
In The Weeds

I might have mentioned this before (and I can't find it now), but I am not overly fond either set of our next-door neighbors. There's no particular reason why, except they're not especially nice, and they keep stealing my parking space. Also, they don't really take care of their yard, as evidenced by these pictures of their "lawn."

PEOPLE: They finally cut their grass late on Saturday, but before that, they hadn't mowed since AUGUST 2009. I swear I am not making this up. Their grass was like 2½' high over there. The roses were getting swallowed whole. It was embarrassing. I think the only reason why they mowed this time is because they got a citation from the borough.


Back to the Future, or Something

Well, well, well, look at who is still around: "Baby."

Baby 1

Partly I can't believe that something so silly as an inflatable dolphin would continue to amuse my child -- she grows bored of things quickly. Especially when they're noisy, talking toys with hidden power switches.

Baby 2

But when we get to my grandparents', she follows her "baby" all around the pool, picking it up when it is close to the wall and throwing it back in, asking someone to "rescue" it when it wanders with the tide into the deep end.

Baby 3

She plays with it and talks to it, too, like it's her little buddy or something. I'd say it's strange, but I used to pretend that my imaginary friend, Elizabeth Toni, lived in my Aunt Shirl's lazy Susan. To each his own, I suppose.

Baby 4

I still talk to myself anyway, so I suppose it's No Big Deal that my kid has conversations with an inflatable baby dolphin who lives in her great-grandparents' swimming pool. Everybody deserves a best friend. Even plastic pool toys.


Camping Countdown: T-Minus-51

Apparently there are 51 days until we go camping. I actually thought it was a little longer than that, but that is because I can't read a calendar or something. Less than two months. Yeesh. We better start getting our crap together.

You think I'm kidding, but sadly, I am not. I am totally "that person" when it comes to vacations. Well, those vacations that are not all-inclusive, anyway. Obviously when we go on all-inclusive vacations we don't have to worry about packing enough of anything except underpants and sunscreen. The big trick with those kinds of vacations is making sure that you tip your waiter enough on the first day that he puts you at the beginning of the route when he is making his rounds with the mai-tais and the cold bottled water. Also, getting to the buffet early enough to ensure that the plates are still warm while you laze your way through cooked-to-order omelets and that the bowls are still chilled when you fill them with fresh slices of mango and papaya.

Wait, what was I talking about again? Oh, yeah: camping. Needless to say, we don't worry about omelets and mango and flagging down the mai-tai man. Sunscreen is only a concern in passing. We are much more worried about bug spray and keeping the raccoons away from our Twinkies and trying to remember whose turn it is to get the wine coolers and bags of ice and oh my god kid how did you manage to get fish guts in your underpants?

Even though I've been alternatively terrified and horrified about this camping trip -- I mean, in theory it will be fun, but I am a spoiled brat sometimes, so in practice I am not sure quite how awesome things will be -- we have been slowly but surely getting our supplies together, or at least trying to remember whether we have them or not. As previously reported, we got a new air mattress, and we just recently picked up a new tent. I've been keeping my eye on the BJ's flyers to see what we might be able to start picking up, like 60-pack cases of mac & cheese and 5-pound bags of tortilla chips and gallon-size jars of salsa and shelf-stable organic (?!?) milk and pickles and huge wheels of cheese. I have a trip to the dollar store planned, to pick up some spices and Italian dressing and aluminum foil.

Basically, now is the time when we stop the planning and start the organizing, which is when I tend to run into trouble. My ability to organize things is limited to the strictly conceptual only -- like, I can organize a 50-person party or a book club or a fantasy football league, but once it comes time to actually execute these things, I ... freak out. Basically, I overplan, and then I can't fit all the pieces together. I arrange and rearrange and pack and repack and I drive people insane and then I melt into a brainless puddle of goo when it is actually go time. I am totally "that mom" who has a magician, a clown, AND a live pony at her kid's birthday party.*

This is why I tend to think it's a good idea to make friends with the mai-tai waiter.

Still, though, even though I still have so many things to do -- take the sleeping bags to the laundromat, find out who has a charcoal grill, figure out who is going to be responsible for the red wine, the white wine, the beer, the hard liquor, the Xanax, etc. -- I am now past the point where I am dreading this vacation (sleeping in the dirt! with spiders and wildlife! aieeeeee!) and on to the point where I can already taste the Mississippi Mud Pie at Foxy's. And that is a good thing indeed.

* That statement is full of lies: I would never, ever have a clown. They're creepy.


Leader of the Pack

My Anonymous Mother the yard-sale ninja got Shae a Big Wheel for $1 -- A DOLLAR! -- and we spent Sunday pushing it around the pool. Because what else do you do with a Big Wheel but push it around the pool? Hello? Have you met my kid?


I think she makes hilarious faces.

Traffic Jam

Here is picture her getting stuck in her first traffic jam.

Blue Streak

And here she is telling the driver who just cut her off to go somewhere else and do unspeakable things to himself and/or his dog. Honestly, I don't know where kids pick these things up.


All told, even though we can't quite reach the pedals yet (she's just a little too short, maybe just two or three inches) and we're not really sure how exactly to work the pedals anyway, we do really like the Big Wheel.

Thumbs Up

I am just counting the minutes until that sucker ends up in the pool.


The Saga Begins

The cover was taken off my grandparents' pool on Saturday, and the statue of the Blessed Mother was put on her pedestal yesterday. Nobody can go in the pool until the Stella Maris is positioned to watch over them.

Blessed Mother

After that, all bets are off.

Wet Baby

That water is COLD, but Shae doesn't care. She's been asking practically every day since the snow started melting when she could go swimming. "Is Nana Mousie's pool open yet, Mommy? Soon? Can I help? I'm ready, let's go!"

Did you hear that, world? She's ready, let's go!

Poolside Portrait

It's going to be a long, wonderful summer.


WTF?! Friday PLUS Trivia: Multitudes

The WTF? portion of this post is pretty quick: can someone please tell me who or what a "Justin Bieber" is, and what one is used for? I don't understand. I suspect this is because I am old. Does not mean that I can't appreciate this website (MOM DO NOT CLICK AT WORK OR PEOPLE WILL THINK YOU'RE WEIRD), even though it does not do much to help relieve me of my Bieber ignorance.


And now, trivia. Inspired by the research I did yesterday, when I was trying to find the plural noun for ducks. I had always thought the word for more than one duck was different than "badling." I went through this phase where I was really into knowing the specific words for animal groups, for some reason -- I believe there may have been a mid-80's-style Banana Republic T-shirt involved at one point -- and I even got a book about it for Christmas not that long ago. Fascinating read, if you are a humongous nerd, as I am.

Anyway: can you answer the following?

  1. Three names for groups of four-legged farm animals
  2. Three names for groups of wild cats
  3. Three names for groups of insects
  4. Three names for groups of forest or woodland mammals
  5. Three names for groups of primates
  6. Three names for groups of animals you might see on a safari (not wild cats)
  7. Three names for groups of reptiles or amphibians
  8. Three names for groups of sea animals (not waterfowl)
  9. Three names for groups of waterfowl or seabirds
  10. Three names for groups of other birds

Standard trivia rules apply: to wit, no Google and no cheating. This went up late, so I'll post my answers on Tuesday 5/18 after 5pm. Good luck!


Edited 05/20/10 @ 2:05 PM: My answers are posted in the comments. Sorry for the lateness! Am slackass.


Special Surprises

I was going back through the pictures from our walk in the park the other day and I found a couple more that were surprisingly good. I was originally looking for pictures to illustrate the poems I had in my head, and I guess I kind of forgot to notice what was potentially great about the others.

Climbing Trees

Even though Shae is making kind of a goofy face here, I really like this picture, and I am thinking about putting it in a Daddy-and-Me frame. If I can find one. I think I already have one around the house, but Heaven only knows where it might be.

Birch Leaves

Aside from quaking aspens, which I really like because of their name, white birches are probably my favorite tree. I love the iridescent translucency of the leaves, the delicate jaggedness of the edges, the way they always seem to flutter, even when there is no breeze. And I love the distinctive bark, that soft gray-white, the knobbiness of the branches. I could spend days under a cluster of birches near a creek, reading paperback novels and grazing on grapes and chunks of melon and cold chicken salad and crusty bread and sparkling wine, listening to the birds singing above me and the water rushing past me and the fish jumping around me.

Hmm. I may have just talked myself into a new favorite tree. Romance is not dead, after all.


I love phlox. They have them all over the opposite bank of the stream. Mostly darker purples and whites, but some pink strewn in here and there. Sometimes I see stands of phlox on the side of the highway while I am driving home, and only honking traffic and fear of poison ivy keeps me from stopping and burying my face in the blooms. (Note to self: get phlox seeds for the back beds.)


We walked along a path that went right down to the water, where there was a badling of ducks. They let us get pretty close when they were on land, but not so much when they were on the water. Not that Shae can be thwarted by common waterfowl, of course. You can't see it here, but she has her hand in the water.


I have never seen a duck do this before. If you zoom in to the large-size picture you can see the water droplets flying off. Fascinating.


Be True To Your School

On Friday Shae didn't want to go to school because she was afraid there wasn't going to be a Moon Bounce. Apparently this is a thing, in pre-school -- Moon Bounces. I love Moon Bounces myself, although I have been over the recommended weight limit for some time, so it's been a while since I have actually been in one.

Anyway, her worries were for naught because there was, in fact, a Moon Bounce that day. And the kids loved it about as much as you would expect:

Moon Bounce Gang

Definitely click to enlargify. Also, sorry about the really bad stitching/shopping here, but I make absolutely no claims about my Photoshop skills, which are essentially non-existent. They're a disaster. You're lucky these kids don't have, like, three heads and wonky eyeballs. (And I use Gimp, anyway, because it is free and I am cheap.)


Oooh, and a bonus! You've seen how Shae likes the sliding board. I don't know these two little girls' names, but the redhead on the right is the sister of Shae's little "boyfriend" at school. He's right next to her in the Moon Bounce picture.


Literature In Life: Robert Frost Edition

We went to the park yesterday, to get the heck out of the house for an hour, and even though I usually associate him with autumn and New England, everything was like a Robert Frost poem.

Sneak Peek

Each laid on other a staying hand
To listen ere we dared to look,
And in the hush we joined to make
We heard, we knew we heard the brook. -- "Going for Water"

Tiny Little Evil

We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows. -- "The Secret Sits"


Spring is the mischief in me. -- "Mending Wall"


"Be happy, happy, happy,
And seize the day of pleasure." -- "Carpe Diem"

White Birch

So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be. ...
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches. -- "Birches"



Transcript of a conversation I had with my daughter this morning, while my husband was in the shower:

Shae -- "Mommy, I don't want to go to school today."
Me -- "You don't? Why not?"
Shae -- "I want to go to Nana's."
Me -- "Nana's? But you love school. Why?"
Shae -- "I want to visit my motorcycle."

Bike 1
Bike 3
Bike 2
Bike 4

She means her BIcycle, of course. Which is pink and has Disney princesses on it, so it definitely needs some baseball cards to put in the spokes. Anybody have any Yankees cards they don't need?

On the plus side, she doesn't want to drive the car any more.