I haven't written to you in a while because of being busy and then being upset about not getting the job I wanted. But let me say for the record that I think you're really cool, no matter what some other people say.
Thanks for being so awesome,
Hearing vague murmurings of Boston basketball drama, I broke my television fast to watch some portion of two or three of the playoff games against the Cavs and Pistons. They were slow, sure (not the basketball but the ads) but still exciting and well worth watching—even if I had to switch to the radio and the bed long before the end of each game. So I was all set to tune in to the finals, until I checked today and discovered the first game isn't until Thursday. Why?! We've known who's going to play since, what, Friday or Saturday. And even worse, all the games are scheduled to start at 9:00! Um, I hate to tell you, NBA and ABC execs, but that's my bedtime.
At least in this case one of the teams involved plays on the West Coast, so there's the excuse of not wanting to start games before the folks there get home from work and, I don't know, have their dinners or whatever. But still, can't we have a weekend matinée? As it is, I expect I won't manage to watch a single minute of play, because even if I do keep my eyes open long enough to catch the opening of the broadcast, I'm sure ABC won't let the games actually start until 20 past the hour at the earliest.
Oh well. At least Thursday's Sox game has been pushed up by an hour so as not to overlap with the basketball. Would that all baseball games started at 6:05!
It's finally raining today, after an extended period of sunny heat. And I can take personal credit for the change in the weather. Why? Because yesterday evening I programmed the irrigation to come on automatically and I left my car windows open!
Leah, on the phone: "Mom, it's all in good fun. Everybody's blogs are like that."
This morning I had a frustrating day at work. A salesman quoted me the wrong price for a list buy and then I had to re-write the contract, meanwhile five emails needed my approval and some of them really needed edits, plus the deadlines ticking down for two major print materials....
Then I got that stuff done and took the dog for a walk. He chased ducks in the stream while I took a call.
This is what it's been like since I started my new job working from home. It's a lot of responsibility and crazy deadlines, but without the skirts or makeup or uncomfortable shoes. And when I'm done working, my only commute is to the fridge.
I am doing some traveling, which I guess could be considered a lot of traveling. In my first month I'm doing two overnights to NY and three days in Orlando, and then it'll be NY for two days every other week or thereabouts. The nights away are a bit of a pain except (and I hate to say it) they really do make me better at my job. Also, free hotel breakfast! Is 7 hours on the train worth all-you-can-eat pancakes? Um, maybe?
So that's why you're still seeing me around the neighborhood even though I am now gainfully (if not over-) employed. Remember the future that the digital age promised us? It's here commuters.
We were driving in Lexington yesterday when all of a sudden the pavement ended. Well, Leah was driving, and I was sitting in the passenger seat ready to yell "look out!" when we descended abruptly from the 21st century to the 19th, street technology-wise at least. She had things under control, though, and didn't really need my warning. The "Road Work Ahead" sign was, usefully, around the next bend.
The lack of pavement is apparently catching, because today they took the top layer off South Road by us here. The Bedford construction crews give much more warning, however, both in space and time. Not only is the work well-signed, but the DPW or whoever left three messages at our house letting us know they were going to be tearing up the street. And even if I weren't alerted, I couldn't complain too much: with all the blacktop missing the road is now rather smoother than it is ordinarily.
Since the last time we wrote in these pages (well, almost) we've been working our way through two giant bags of M&M candies that Leah bought—and mixed together—for her last Sunday School lesson of the year. What was the lesson? You'll have to ask her that, but part of it was "If you stick with it through a year of Sunday School, you get candy." Sadly, only a few did—or at least it was a small crowd that particular day. Which meant that she brought a whole pitcher-full of mixed plain and peanut M&Ms home.
And since she then immediately left, heading to South Florida to escape the unseasonable (and unreasonable!) heat we had here last week, it was left to me to eat them all up. And I did a tolerable job, too. I never used to like plain M&Ms much, but it turns out if you eat them together with the peanut ones—in the ratio of two or three plain to each peanut—the combined taste is better than even that of peanut M&Ms alone. And now I never need to eat any again in my life, ever.
So that's what we've been up to.
This week was the opening of farmers market season all over Massachusetts, it seems. Today was Lexington's first market of the year, and yesterday was even better: Bedford's first market ever (in living memory, anyways). Of course we went down to check it out, all the more because it's just around the corner from us—in easy walking distance.
Only, there's a problem with New England farmers markets this early in the summer. At least as far as vegetable produce is concerned, every single thing there... is also growing in our own garden. Peas? Check. Lettuce and collard greens? Check. Strawberries? Check. Admittedly, those items are bigger or more numerous than what we've been able to produce so far, but it's still not so exciting as later in the year when we see potatoes and corn and peaches and all those things that we won't manage to harvest ourselves. At least, not this year!
And going to the market was worth it anyways, because as well as lacking corn our garden also fails to feature either a magician or a costumed Allie Gator, both of which made prominent appearances at the market. There was a nice festival atmosphere with them around, naturally!
One of the problems with running a berry farm is that there is some competition for the berries. The strawberries are what's fruiting now, and their loss is the most noticeable (compared with blueberries, raspberries and blackberries). I wouldn't even mind that much if the critters ate, oh, a fifth of all the berries, if only they'd refrain from taking bites out of all of them and leaving them to rot on the vine. In an effort to prevent their deprivations I put netting over the strawberry patches, which is only partially successful.
Today it also had the side effect of snaring a bird, which was very traumatic for all involved; I had to cut it free with scissors. I hope it survives the experience... and perhaps tells all its birdie friends to avoid the netting. There are plenty of unnetted berries too, birds! Maybe if I strung some string or tapes into the netting they'd be better able to see it?
I spent too much time today reading things on the internet. It turns out there are a couple other people writing things on here, in blog posts and news articles and forum threads and things. They write fast too, and no matter how hard you want to read to the end you just can't make it—and the effort takes up time that might be better devoted to other, more worthwhile activities. Or at least watching Euro2008 on the tv. (I like these sporting events that happen several timezones east of me and thus at a reasonable time. Not like some basketball games I might mention. Though of course that was all worth it!)
In any case, we will now try to read less and produce more. If you would like to do likewise, I'd understand it if you stop reading my posts here. On the other hand, they are pretty entertaining...
We've been eating the pretty strawberries out of the garden, but there were enough ugly ones left over that I had to think of something to do with them. Which didn't take long, since the solution is obvious: mash them up! And since I'd made biscuits this morning already, we were all set for some strawberry shortcake for our dinner desert. Now there's only one problem: what are we going to do with the rest of the whipped cream?!
(As I asked Leah, "Which is preferable: whipping the whole pint of cream and throwing out half of it, or whipping half and throwing out the leftover cream?" She voted for the later, since there is rather more chance she'll eat whipped cream out of the fridge than plain cream cream. Makes sense to me.)
It's summer, so that means the big beer companies are trotting out their hot-weather marketing campaigns. After all, if you're not going to drink weak, watery beer when you're hot and sweaty, you're not going to drink it any other time. So we get things like the Coors Light cold-activated bottle. Now, Coors Light is the brand with a taste so anemic that all they could think of for a promotion was to call it the "coldest-tasting beer"—As Cold As The Rockies, natch—so what they've done now is enable you to visualize that cold. Now, the picture of mountains on the front of the bottle turns blue when the beer is cold enough. Really! This is vastly superior to the old method of feeling the temperature of the bottle (dreadfully 20th century). The television advertisements depict groups of men abandoning their tasks and scrambling frantically to reach the bar when their friends alert them to the blue labels, so it may be that the target audience does not have refrigerators or coolers at home.
And then there's Bud Light Lime, with which flavor Anheuser-Busch admits, as Leah puts it, that their regular brand "tastes like crappy soda." In the old days people used to add lime—or even lemon!—to their beer themselves, if they felt that it would improve the flavor or "refreshment profile". No longer! Why bother to go to the trouble of finding an actual lime, when "Bud Light Lime offers adults the citrus taste, expected from a fresh squeezed lime, without a trip to the produce aisle"!!! It's not for me, though: the totally a real news article press release mentions a target audience of "active adults", "savvy partygoers", and "playful, outgoing men and women" (really! all those adjectives! and more!), and I don't think I'm any of those things. Oh well! I'll just have to survive the summer drinking water for refreshment and beer for delicious beery taste. And the occasional bout of drunkenness.
Friends of ours are bound for Montana tomorrow, where they're going to spend the next two months living in a tent. We're kind of jealous—as long as we can take the dog, we love the traveling life, seeing new sights, broadening our horizons and whatnot. But if we went away for the summer, who would take care of the house and water the garden? And what about the mail? And we already bought a season pass to the pond, so it would be a shame to waste it. Plus, I can't imaging how we'd fit our comfy bed in a tent anyways.
So we'll just hang out here. For now, anyways.
There's all kinds of talk about urban homesteading, which is apparently all the rage in LA, but what about those of us stuck in the suburbs? The cold, northern suburbs at that? Well, there is suburbanhomesteading.org, but it, um, doesn't seem to have much content—perhaps it's actually an art piece about the sterility of the suburban existence.
Well, our suburbs aren't sterile! Tom and Nelly visited from the country, and we were able to send them away with a home-grown lettuce and a home-baked loaf of bread. It's still early days, of course, but we're doing respectably. We have to stay hard at work, though, if for no other reason than to stay ahead of the neighbors! Almost everyone in the neighborhood has been hard at work in the vegetable garden this year (well, for varying definitions of hard), and our neighbor next-door was even talking about getting chickens or even a goat. No fair! That was our idea! If we ever do get any of those critters we'll be sure to brag about it on the internet, to let those urban-dwellers know that they don't have all of the action.
I also hear that people occasionally grow vegetables and raise livestock in rural areas. Nobody seems to care about that on the internet, though.
We've been having some weather here the past couple days. Despite that, I ventured out on my bike to make my first visit of the year to the Lexington farmers market. And I almost didn't make it! I was less than a half-mile away when the first drops started to fall—happily, right as I reached the only cover on the bike path between Bedford and Lexington. So still dry I hopped off my bike and sat down to wait out the storm.
When the lightning started I was glad I had done, and when the torrential, monsoon-like rain picked up I was more glad, and when it started hailing—hailing!—I was gladdest of all. Hail as big as peas, really! Some other folks didn't time the storm as well, but even the most soaked, with no more wet to get, were still glad of the shelter, and we had a convivial little gathering for a while.
After half an hour or so things calmed down, and I ventured out (getting instantly very wet indeed from the puddles, oh well). I was pleasantly surprised to find the market still standing, though damp and very puddly. After all that I didn't buy anything, for reasons discussed above, but I always like the scene in any case. It was worth a try.
I liked the scene so much, in fact, that I almost stayed too long: it was getting awful dark as I made my way home in some haste. I still had it, though, and the next downpour held off until five minutes after I got home.
So local were these little storms that the first one, that inundated Lexington and was so fierce people were pulling their cars to the side of the road rather than trying to drive in it, dropped barely a drop on Bedford. We would have been set if things had gone otherwise, though, because I called Leah to tell her about the hail and she did an awesome job putting up a tarp over the poor delicate tomatoes. Just in case, right? I hope the next rain we get is more general as well as more gentle.
We went north to the seaside for an outing today. It was perfect seaside weather: gray and misty and cool. The only thing that would have made it better was if we had worn trousers instead of optimistic shorts. We had thought we might want to paddle a little in the ocean, if we could get to it. No. Rascal did, though, since he doesn't feel cold, and he had a great time. Unfortunately, we're still trying to force him to take it easy on his sore leg, so we didn't walk as much as we otherwise would have; and we discovered that, except for walking, there's not a great deal to do on an outing with the dog. So in the end it was not a long one, but it was nevertheless just the thing we needed to differentiate our weekend from the rest of the workaday week.
Anyways, the point of this whole story is that when we came home—in the middle of the afternoon, no less, not at some unreasonable late hour—we all three fell immediately and completely to sleep. Something in the air up there, I guess. Sleeping gas?
We have bats living in our house. Now, it is possible to build or obtain such a thing as a "bat house", but we skipped that step and just let em into our own house here. They're pretty good tenants; we hardly notice them except for occasional periods of skittering and scratching when their fighting or mating or, I don't know, just trying to get comfy up there. We could wish their nest was somewhere other than directly above the head of our bed, but that's alright. (We also assume that they are doing no damage to our house, which I hope is in fact the case.)
I enjoy watching them fly around every evening when I'm out with Rascal, flitting and squeaking (I imagine) and chomping up the mosquitoes (I sincerely hope). I just wish one would slow down long enough for me to get a close look at what it actually looks like!