Rebate checks are coming!

I'm going to call mine a "deficit" check!!!!!

It will go directly towards my student loan.

Too bad you don't own Sallie Mae anymore, government. Suckers!!!!!

alright, now it's personal

It's bad enough when the deers eat my hostas, but when they knock over the bit of fencing I placed over one vulnerable plant in order to gain access to its tender, delicate shoots that's just too much. One might even call it unacceptable. The worst thing about it is, they don't trouble themselves with any other plants; why bother foraging in the woods or whatever if there's a veritable buffet of delicious ornamental plants available to destroy. "Would sir care for the rhododendron this evening?" "No, I believe I'd prefer the hosta today." Bah. I bet they know hoe much it annoys me, too!

a narrative of epic exploration

We are undertaking a project of exploration in the great wilderness to the south. There are woods, the bounds of which we have encompassed in the course of our walks with the dog; but beyond those woods lie a great expanse of swamp and open water that we have yet to plumb fully. It is, however, only a matter of time!

Yesterday was our third expedition—well, the third for me and Rascal, but the first time that Leah was able to come along (the first two I was accompanied only by small children and, of course, my faithful dog). I had some idea of what to expect and was starting from the point where we stopped last time, so naturally we were more successful than ever before! There were trials, of course, like when Leah stepped into water slightly deeper than her boot was high, and then her foot got stuck, and then I hit her on the head with a stick (a big one too!) which I was trying to toss her to help her out of the slough—but I think she's forgiven me.

It was all worth it, though, when we reached the other side of Hartwell Creek (renowned in song and story) and saw the way that we might someday circumnavigate the great inland sea that so captivated us on our first expedition. Leah would have been even more impressed with our achievement if she hadn't been on a business call on her cell phone and trying not to pant. Good thing she wasn't too wet at that point.

We didn't try for the circumnavigation, thinking it the better part of valor and time management to head home after two full hours of exploration in the middle of a work day (some of which, of course, was working exploration thanks to the miracles of modern telecommunications). Although we might have done better going around the pond because our alternate way home led through some of the most difficult and annoying terrain imaginable. That's when Leah fell in and got clonked. As I said, though, she isn't too mad. She even says she might go back sometime.

Rascal liked it. Here is is standing on a beaver dam.

more

don't take it for granted!

Modern housewives (and -husbands), you may have become used to doing laundry in your washing machines and dryers—it may even have become such a chore that you curse the machines as the engines of your drudgery. Don't! I am here to report that, if you could but experience a week without your time-saving mechanical aids, you would positively thrill each time you descended into the basement (or, you know, walked into the laundry room or whatever) to retrieve towels rendered magically clean and fluffy with scarcely any intervention on your part.

Especially the fluffy. Have you ever used towels dried on the line? Leah has, and she reports that they are most accurately compared to sandpaper stapled to thick cardboard. This was our lot for a week, when our dryer was broken. However, now that I have fixed it with my manly repairing-things prowess (and real workman trousers!) it is back to its old magical self. Well, almost. The towels still take two or three cycles to dry properly. Everything else is working great, though! It sure is nice to be able to do four or five loads of laundry in one day, instead of waiting for the April sun to slowly slowly maybe almost dry one load over the course of eight hours on the line. Although as hippies we still totally support line drying to save electricity. Totally. Though maybe not for towels.

more

first fruits

Well, first leaves, properly. Not to rehash that old discussion about what, precisely, constitutes a vegetable: we don't want to start talking about tomatoes again! So to get to the point, we had our first harvest today and ate it with dinner: a fine bunch of collard greens. Even better, I didn't have to plant them, because they sprang spontaneously from last year's crop. Oona tells me they'll do that. It gave them a great head start on their way into the pot!

How do we cook collard greens, you ask? I never boil them as much as the authorities suggest, especially good fresh young greens like these. Instead, I just sauté a clove or two of garlic in a little oil, de-stem the greens and chop them into inch-think (or so) strips, rinse them, and toss them in. The water clinging to the leaves, plus the small quantity of oil, is plenty of moisture, at least as long as you keep stirring things up. Then add a little tobasco and some pepper, and there you are! Delicious!

more

these aren't tears of sadness they're tears of joy

I started making dinner this evening by chopping an onion. As I was doing so I had a moment of confusion. "Wait! What I am making again? Does it even have an onion in it?" This momentary lapse was soon resolved, however, with the happy thought that every dinner preparation ought to start with chopping an onion. Nothing better!

To that end, I have read up on how to properly grow onions, and subsequently have replanted some of the thicket of semi-wild onions I have had in the garden to this point. At least, I think they're onions. They're clearly some variety of the genus allium in any case, so we'll see what comes up. And then we'll eat it!

something there is that doesn't love a wall

And it's a squirrel or a chipmunk or something. It's digging in our decorative rock wall to create a sort or burrow for itself, and all the excavation is undermining the rocks and damaging the roots of the ornamental plants. I worked a little on shoring it up today, because we're putting in a solid effort to finish what we're calling our patio—although traditionally patios are surfaced with stone or brick whereas ours, largely, is not. In any case, the area is what the retaining wall is retaining, so hopefully it will hold together under the rodent's assaults.

itchy season

I have hit the trifecta of itchiness: mosquito bite, tick bite, and poison ivy. All at once, and all in the first half of May! That has to be some kind of record. The poison ivy isn't even properly out yet, just tiny red leaves at the end of sticks. Clearly it still has an effect, even at that stage, yet I still have no idea how I got it on my wrist.

It's no big deal, though, when your family already expects you to win everything

Dear Babson graduate students, faculty, and staff,

On behalf of the Selection Committee, it is our pleasure to announce the Class of 2008 Graduate Student Commencement SpeakeróLeah Archibald. Leah hails from our Evening MBA Program and is very excited to address her fellow graduate students, as well as faculty, staff, family and friends who will attend the Commencement Ceremony.

We would like to say a special thanks to the many graduate students who submitted speeches—we received a record number of submissions from students in all 4 of our MBA Programs, which made the selection process particularly challenging and exciting. We also appreciate the time and effort put forth by the committee as well as those who attended the recent community vote event!

country mice

We went into the city with Leah's parents and grandmothers to celebrate Mothers Day. We don't do well in the city. Especially when we make the mistake of driving in, and Mass Ave into Harvard Square is closed, and we don't have any idea where the restaurant is besides around the corner from Mass Ave in Harvard Square. It's hard enough to drive anywhere around there in the best of times, with all the one-way streets and the curves and the tall buildings blocking the view of where you want to go—I lose my sense of direction completely. We ended up parking a half-mile or so away from the general area in which we knew the restaurant to be, and walking: much safer.

On the way home we just took Mass Ave all the way back into Lexington (if was open in that direction). It was so pleasant to watch as the buildings lining the street got smaller, the number of lanes went down, and streetlights were replaced by trees. Yeah, it's nice to see all those different sorts of folks walking around, to feel the busy energy of an active city; but for the most part I'd rather just sit in my garden.

Still, the actual Mothers Day dinner part was great! Happy Mothers Day to all our various mothers!!

more

catch-up

It seems like more than a week since we've written in these pages. We certainly crammed alot of activity into the days. Let's see... we* experienced country life, watched a play, interviewed for jobs, had a party, rehearsed for a concert, graduated from business school, sang a concert, started a new job, and ate. And ate and ate. Country life involved a fair amount of food, as did (naturally) the party (and the post-party); the wrap sandwiches and cookies at the graduation reception were the last straw. Things calmed down some today, which was nice.

*By 'we' I do not mean to imply that there was 100% overlap between the activities undertaken by Leah and myself. Some small number of items in the list above were, in fact, performed individually by either her or me. Nevertheless.

Also, I suppose it is more than a week since etc. So: it feels like well more than a week.

more

I scream

We took the kids choir to Kimball's for an end-of-the-year treat. For those of you not from around here, Kimball's Farms is an ice cream place (or one of a pair of ice cream places—we mean the one in Carlisle) that is notable for its animals, its quality ice cream, and its extremely large portions. I didn't even want any today, but the music director was buying and everyone else was already licking their cones and the air, laden with microscopic globules of fat and sugar, smelled so good... so I couldn't resist.

I should have, though. Ice cream will be my downfall someday. At least I stay away from the supermarket stuff and limit myself to ultra-premium or above!

tick talk

We are in the heart of tick season (which runs, we find, for well more than half of the year), which means that the various news media are full of advice on how to avoid the deadly bites. The thing is, I'm just not sure if it's even worth it.

  • Apply an insect repellent containing DEET to clothing or skin. - Well sure, but the stink! And the poison! Considering the low probability of actually contacting lyme disease—to say nothing of even being bitten by a tick in the first place—I think I'd rather stay away from the substance that brought eagles to the brink of extinction. Oh wait, that was DDT? DEET isn't poison? Never mind. But it still tastes bad.

  • Stick to the center of trails and avoid direct contact with bushes and tall grass. - While there are times that I'd love to stick to the center of trails, Rascal tends to have different ideas. And most of the time I enjoy exploring as much as he does. As for staying away from tall grass, no way. I'll even lie down in the stuff, if it's sunny out!
  • Wear light-colored long pants. Tuck shirt in pants and pants in socks. - Light colored long pants, tucked into socks? Really?! That'll work great: there's no way the ticks will be able to bite you, they'll be laughing too hard. Along with every other living thing in the woods. Yes, even the trees. Leah will tell you that I am not the hight of fashion, but even I know that a painful death from lyme disease and its "arthritic, cardiac, and neurological complications" is far better than committing such a fashion faux pas.

So in short, I'll just risk it. And check for ticks every time I come back inside. After all, it takes them a while to even bite you, and even longer for the little lyme diseases to get into the blood. Strangely enough, I haven't found a single tick since I started checking... after the two bites before that. And since those two have yet to show the slightest signs of bullseye rash, I can safely say "So far, so good!"

more

black marked

I took Rascal to the vet today, and they were ready for him. Back when he was a puppy he loved the vet and the vet techs loved him—he was cute and as easy a dog to deal with as you could ever want—but all that changed within the past year when they had to clip his nails and, um, poke things up his butt. In both procedures he squirmed and thrashed around and growled and snapped, to the extent that he needed a muzzle and two or three techs to hold him down. There must be a note in his records about it now, because this time they put the muzzle on him first thing. Poor little guy. And poor nurses, too. But this time there wasn't any problems, and after they had finished squirting a vaccine up his nose they gave him treats and told him they still thought he was a good dog. He is. But he was nevertheless glad to get out of that office, and they were glad to have him gone. And now we don't need to go back until November.

onions in the public square

The last two times I've been to the grocery store I've gotten into conversations with fellow-shoppers over the red onions. Well, not conversations, really; just brief shared exclamations over the size of the onions DeMoulas Market Basket insists on trying to sell to us. They're really big! So much so that many people are unable to refrain from comment. There actually may be a certain demographic that notices and remarks, now that I think about it: older folks who have been buying onions for fifty years and have a considered opinion about what they should look like. And me, I suppose. I rather enjoy the camaraderie.

And really, who wants a five pound red onion? If you're cutting it to put in a salad or on sandwiches, even a regular-sized onion is more than you want at once. As for cooking, on those rare occasions when I want a red onion instead of the default, regular onion, I expect the replacement to be of a size with what it is replacing. Otherwise my calculations are thrown off! So I don't know what these growers are thinking. They should stop it.

more

welcome summer

We celebrated the opening of the summer season by going to the pond for a picnic and a swim. Unfortunately everyone else had the same idea, because when we got there it was full and closed for two hours. The delay turned out well enough, though, since we accidentally found ourselves in the midst of Concord's Memorial Day observances and ate lunch while listening to the bagpipers and the Singing Doughboys. Good times. And at the pond the water was so cold we could do nothing but (variously) dive in and then immediately go dry off, or stand around thigh-deep for some time. Both were refreshingly bracing.

We needed the bracing, because summer came right on schedule this year. 80 degree temps, the year's first fireflies last night... just what the program calls for. And what's the best part of the young summer? Going to bed before it's properly dark outside! That, after our delightful day outdoors, is what we shall do.