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farm and market

Today was the opening day of Lexington's Farmers Market, a fact of which I was not aware until I rode past it on my way home from work this afternoon. I didn't have any money, but I took a quick look around anyways and noted that, this time of year, it's mostly asparagus and strawberries that can be offered in production quantities. That and live herbs and tomato plants. In theory, I have all of those things already.

Sadly, things at the squibix farm aren't everything they could be. That one meal of asparagus was all we were able to harvest, and the strawberries are, as always, sore beset by birds and chipmunks. Pests and predators are plaguing just about every other crop as well: half the cucumber seedlings gone last week, three pea plants and two lettuces today. Oh, the agony. Clearly, some remedial work is needed on the fencing, which is as of now pretty much non-existent: tired of the ugly ugly fence, I've been planning to make a pretty(er) one, but have lacked the time and will to make the long journey to the Home Depot for the necessary bits.

On the other hand, the tomato seedling business is going like gangbusters. There's only a handful of plants left, and we're building up reserves of gratitude and obligation that will pay off later. Isn't that how this works? If nothing else, we've got a free pass to a summer of baby-goat viewing across town!


God Hates You, apparently

I just got an email from my preacher that the Wesboro Baptist Church will be picketing our local conservative evangelical church on Sunday. My first sentiment was confusion. These guys came around last year to yell about how the Episcopal church had appointed a gay bishop, so I'd expect them on our front lawn, but not up the street at a large conservative parish. So I went to their website to figure out the deal. You can go there too if you like; there's plenty of stuff to chuckle at at godhatesfags.com. For example the ticker counter that says: 13 reprobates have split hell wide open since you loaded this web page.

Anyway, I clicked on their picket schedule to find out why they plan on picketing Grace chapel on Sunday. Here's the rational:

to remind this nation that paying false prophets to lie about God will send you to Hell! Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Doomed americans pay the preachers to lie about God and tell the people that they do not have to obey. The truth is, God will only bless you if you obey His commandments, otherwise He will curse you!

Let's say I give you americans pay preachers to lie to them. Fair enough. But why a large Evangelical chapel in the burbs? Because they're lying to more people there?

Perhaps they're just casting a wide net, picketing as many places as their busy travel schedule will allow. Indeed, it seems that they're going to two churches on Sunday. The suburban picket line at 9am is really just a warm up for their 10:45 in Boston where they'll be shouting crap outside of Holy Cross church,

to remind these people that Priests Rape Boys. Catholics pay the priests to lie on God and tell them that they do not have to obey. God promised he would curse you if you would not obey, hence He sends pedophile priests to rape your children. The parents continue to send their children to this pedophile machine masquerading as a church because they don't want to put away their sin and repent! 2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished

I may not be pulling out the most essential sentiment from that quote, but it seems they have something against paying priests. Good to know.

These guys are tenacious and won't be satisfied with only two protest demonstrations in one day. In the evening they're going to the Sheraton Boston Hotel to heckle the AIPAC Annual New England Leadership Dinner. The AIPAC is America's Pro-Israel Lobby, and the Wesboro Baptists just want to

remind the apostate, Christ-killing Jews that the wrath of God is come upon them in the uttermost.

Before they leave our neck of the woods for Colorado, the group plans to do a quick half-hour stint outside Boston Latin School during the Monday morning drop off time. Just, you know,

to remind this nation that God is cursing Doomed america because parents raise their children for the devil and teachers teach them the twin lies that "God loves everyone" and "it's OK to be gay!"

These people sound lovely. It's good to see a family coming together over a cause.

Ooh! 343 reprobates have split hell wide open since I loaded this web page!


Harvey's birthday wishlist

I just flipped my desk calendar to June, revealing a cute picture of me, rascal, and Harvey when H-ster was just one day old. Yes, I have a Massachusetts Midwives Alliance desk calendar that featuring baby Harvey as the June model. Don't you?

This of course means that Harvey's birthday is fast approaching. Some folks have asked us what he wants for his birthday. In reality, at this point in his life all he wants is an empty box, and perhaps a half-opened watermelon to dive head-first into. But us, his parents, we want things for him. New toys and books that he has no idea how much he'll enjoy. So without further ado, here is Harvey's birthday wishlist:

Kiddie Pool

As the days have gotten hot recently, I've thought of how much I'd like a little blow-up pool to play in on those afternoons when we can't face the schlep to the pond. Then I spent like five minutes looking up baby pools and oh my goodness blow-up pool technology is amazing! Can you believe this exists? of this? So if you feel drawn to purchasing a baby pool (and subsequently coming over to hang out in our baby pool) then go for it. Of course, this is a nice sensible pool, but I'll let you decide.

Bath Toys

Okay, I'll admit it, I do allow some plastic toys in my house so long as they can float and keep a fussy child occupied long enough to wash the applesauce out of his hair. I'm eying this and this from the annoyingly titled one step ahead catalog, but any bath toy other than stacking cups would be a welcome addition to our tub time. All we have now is stacking cups, you see, and two yellow ducks. I know right? Child abuse.

Board Books

Harvey has a handful of great board books that he loves to read. Unfortunately, Momma and Dadda has read each of them approximately one hundred million times. We'd therefore love some more board books that can stand up to baby page-turning and throwing on the floor. In particular, momma would love some new books by Sandra Boynton. We have Hippos Go Berserk and it's my favorite of all the books. I'd love to own One, Two, Three! or The Going to Bed Book. Harvey's new favorite book these days is one I just bought him titled "How Big is a Pig" illustrated by Clare Beaton. We also have her book Hidden Hippo and I'd love more books illustrated by her because Harvey just stares and stares at the pictures, while momma feels inspired by the needle work.

Other board books I'd like to own are Everybody Poops and Pat the Bunny. And anything else you can think of. Just Please NO MORE GOODNIGHT MOON!!!!!


For the first time in Harvey's life we aren't completely strapped for clothes, because he seems to be growing longer rather than wider these days, so the 24-36 month stuff we have for him should last another few months. That said, he'd always welcome any new stylish duds, especially if they can stretch him into 2T territory come fall. I know, we have a big baby. That's because he's got so much to love!

So those are the short ideas for first birthday gifts, although you're of course welcome to give him nothing or watermelon. Two weeks left to figure it out! Crap! I'd better get sewing!!!


congratulations Emmy!

Almost six years ago, we had occasion to congratulate Emmy on her Bat Mitzvah. Five or six years before that, I first started babysitting for her and her brothers and sister—she was in second grade at the time. Today, she graduated from high school. It doesn't quite seem possible, but no more does it seem possible that Harvey is almost one year old; I guess that's what it's like to be a parent. At the graduation party this afternoon Emmy's mom Judi cautioned us not to blink. We wish Emmy all the best at Vasser in the fall, but maybe before she heads off we can ask her to watch Harvey for an afternoon...

bread and jam

With six quarts of strawberries from an early-morning picking expedition on Saturday sitting on the counter, we spent Saturday evening making a batch of jam. Well, Leah actually did most of the work, as I tried to get Harvey to go to sleep, but since I handled the picking duties solo I suppose it wasn't too unfair. I also made bread. This evening I thought hard about repeating the feat—bread and jam at the same time twice in three days!—but in the end only managed the bread end. Can you believe it, there weren't quite enough strawberries left for another full batch. Rather than trying to fudge the recipe, I figured I'd just save the mashed-up berries for strawberry shortcake tomorrow, and wait on more jam until I can get out to the farm again. There's still a bunch more of strawberry season in front of us!

Naturally in the midst of all this industry I was feeling pretty excited—and I might even say smug—about my homesteadly craftiness. However, when I happily reported scoring a whole lot of strawberries at $2.50/lb my enthusiasm was deflated a little bit by certain smart shoppers of our acquaintance who reported finding even better prices on California berries at Trader Joe's—and those are the big berries! That is as may be, but working with my local berries this evening, after they'd been in the fridge less than two full days, I couldn't help but wonder how the CA growers keep their product edible. Magic? Chemicals? In any case, I will retain my sense of superiority by imagining that cross-country berries, never mind the price, can't compare in jam production to our local product.

Of course, neither are anything like the strawberries from our own garden. They'll never be jam though: Harvey is eating as fast as I can pick em!


What's craftin around here

- Updated this post with a cute picture of Lily in a felt headband.

- Made a baby-sized baseball cap for baby Noah which do to the timeliness of babyhood eluded photography.

- Made some gifts for Gramma Bef and baby Grace which should soon be photographed. (with help from Dan, the only one with a working camera in the house)

- Made some headway (but not enough) on arc animals for Harvey's birthday.

- Finally sent my camera back to the manufacturer for repair. To avoid more posts like this one.

Dan, for his part, made a design for a t-shirt transfer that should be completed as soon as the t-shirt comes out of the dryer, and started on birthday party invitations. Harvey's party is in a week and a half, so hopefully we'll get something in the mail before then.

T-11 to H1! I'm exhausted!

Not the shy type

I have a guest post published today at Not The Religious Type on germophobia, parenting, and the kosher laws. Happily they didn't edit it at all, making me the only guest blogger so far to end my missive with a self-depricating reference to untreated OCD. Pretty sweet, I know. Check it out and leave a heavily worded comment!

un-American football

World Cup action started today, and to my delight I find it's all being streamed very nicely on ESPN3, whatever that is. The World Cup is always exciting, and having it be in Africa for the first time makes it even more fun. So far at least the stream is better quality than we saw for the recent Winter Olympics, and there aren't any registration hoops to jump through which makes me very happy indeed. The only problem with the setup compared to watching on the tv is not having tivo; well, that and not being able to sit on the couch. But this office chair is awful comfy—perfect for me and Harvey—and the South African time zones are well suited to live viewing.

Well suited when I don't have to be at work, that is; today I managed to catch France-Uraguay (2:30 start) because both Leah and Harvey are feeling a little under the weather and called me home early to take care of them. My presence was clearly welcome, since within an hour or so of getting home I had them both tucked up in bed getting some wonderful restorative sleep and leaving me free to watch some world-class football. Harvey woke up in time to catch the last half hour, but Leah preferred to stay asleep.

I'm not yet sure who I'll be supporting as the tournament progresses; unfortunately a bunch of my favorites are bunched together in Group E, where they will eliminate each other and play games where I won't know who to root for! I'll be similarly conflicted for England-USA tomorrow: sure, patriotic fervor and all that, but England are so cute the way they always feel like this year they really have a chance. In the end, I think I'll probably end up behind whichever African team advances the farthest. It's only too bad that Senegal didn't make the tournament.

Action resumes tomorrow at 7:00am with South Korea-Greece, sure to be a thriller for the ages, so I'd better get myself to bed before it gets any later!


strawberry fields for a limited period of time

As my canning hero Marisa of the Food in Jars blog noted, strawberry season came early this year. Unlike her, however, I refused to submit to the demands of living life and I've now made two trips out to the strawberry plantation to fuel my jam-making habit. I hope to get at least one more in, in order to try out her recipe for strawberry jam with vanilla: unlike the recipe I use, with comes included in the pectin box, hers doesn't contain almost a third more sugar than strawberries.

The picking was even better this morning than the last time I went, and both times seemed to me to be better than either last year or the year before. But maybe I'm misremembering, and actually just think the present and recent past is always better than the more distant past. Hey, I hope that's actually the case: that sounds like a pretty useful skill for staying content! I suppose that's why I'm not a conservative. Still, the season will not last forever so we have to gather our strawberries while we may.

I noted a few things out there in the fields:

  • It is amazing that so many people can visit that farm each day, and all come away with a satisfactory number of berries.
  • Strawberry picking is harder than many people anticipate. Strawberries grow on the ground.
  • Many people have the idea that all strawberries should be as big as the mutant ones we get from California. I'm glad of that: it means that they leave many many delicious, rational-sized berries for me to pick.
  • I am also glad that many people see berry-picking as a fun, cheap outing for themselves and their kids instead of the deadly serious essential-for-winter-survival mission that it really is, for the same reason. Take no prisoners, pass over no strawberries!
  • Everyone (myself included) naturally wants to pick where nobody else is picking. And yet as soon as each person leaves, someone else happily takes their spot. And finds strawberries. See point one.
  • As I pick I alternate between despair that I will ever be able to fill my containers and unbounded optimism that leads me to consider heading back for another flat to fill. There is no middle ground.

All these observations occurred to me as I picked, as well as many more that will sadly never be recorded because I can't remember them. Next time I'll take notes.


Harvey's new wheels

Harvey in the bike trailer


At great expense, I have procured a bike trailer for Harvey. It's my birthday gift to him, and like all great gifts it was chosen to serve the giver as much as the recipient. See, I enjoy biking, but for some reason I can't leave Harvey alone at home and he isn't much of a cyclist himself yet. So, I will tow him around.

We took our first ever ride all together, we three human members of the family. Rascal was disappointed to be left at home and barked at us, but since when I offered to get a trailer for him earlier he expressed a disinclination to be shut up in any such contraption, he isn't in much position to complain. Also he refused to run nicely alongside the bikes, so that's that.

In any case, we didn't go far, but it was wonderfully liberating to be out on the roads again. We used to ride bikes together occasionally, Leah and I, but we'd only been out once since Harvey was born (since several months before he was born, in fact!). To lend purpose to our journey we stopped by Whole Foods to pick up some ingredients for dinner; the pizza tasted extra sweet for having been fetched in such a fashion.

Here's to many more voyages to come!


another opening, another... market

Lexington's Farmers Market started up a couple weeks ago, and even that was later than it could have been; our super-local (like, around the corner) market—which must be the last to get going in the entire commonwealth—finally opened today. It was worth the wait, though, because even though it may not be the biggest market around it's still ours, and as it begins its third season I think I'm starting to like it.

It helps that as part of the opening-day celebrations they were offering a $2.00-off coupon to the first 50 customers to show up on bikes. I would ordinarily walk down so the puppy could get an airing as well, but with money on the table Harvey and I saddled up and made the minute-and-a-half ride. The money thus earned we spent on a bunch of Asian broccoli, I believe it was, which was an adventure in itself: the wonderful salesgirl at the Busa Farm booth (who is sufficiently easy on the eyes to be featured on the front page of the Bedford Farmers Market website) is never particularly useful in providing detailed information about the wide variety of unusual produce they grow in suburban East Lexington, and in this case all she could offer was that the plants we were buying were "kind of like broccoli and kind of like asparagus." With that it mind, I steamed the stems and florets and sauteed the leaves, and the whole thing was eminently edible accompanied with some whole-wheat couscous. Especially since it was free.

Photos of the opening day are available here, but I don't know if you need to even bother looking: I'm not in a single one.


very very very pre-med

So our blog is currently being comment spammed all over the place by "preteen lolitas." Or rather, not the lolitas themselves, but their PR handlers.

That's not something that surprises me very much; we often get comment spam on account of how hugely popular and influential our blog is. Although as a side note, I do think that the phrase "preteen lolitas" is a little bit redundant. Isn't lolitas alone good enough for you people?

But here's something weird. The comment spam points to this url:

Stamford Premed forum? It appears that what you once believed was a venerable university is merely a sham front for a child exploitation ring.

For its part, the Stamford Premed forum seems to be a real thing, "created in November 2006 in order to connect premeds to each other as well as to medical students, and to provide an arena for the exchange of information in our community."

Sure, being a med student is intellectually and emotionally taxing. You need a release sometimes. What's some porn sharing between friends?

But then you start to think, "This is going well and all, but I'd really like to get my pre-teen lolita porn out to a wider audience." And then it just snowballs from there. Posting on graduate education message board is merely a gateway online marketing tactic. Comment spam isn't far behind.

As an online marketing professional myself, I feel dirty by association. But as a former preteen lolita, I have to admit that I'm a bit flattered by all the attention. You hungry internet surfers. You want my blog so bad.

I still got it.



Yesterday Harvey started clapping. He's clapped his hands together before, but never repeatedly and so excitedly that it's undoutably "clapping." Until yesterday.. Yesterday, he became a boy who claps. Today he stabled himself standing, stood unaided for two seconds, and then took three bounding steps into my arms. First steps, or something close to it.

My big boy baby will be 1 in two days. I am so proud of him and so excited for all the fun things he can do these days. I'm also painfully aware of how much of his life and development is zipping by without me while I sit in traffic every day on rt.95.

milestones, part II

Thanks to some high intensity Grampa time on Saturday, I managed to catch some video of Harvey's budding forays into standing and walking. Here are some clips. In the background you can hear clans of Archibalds and Bernsteins cheering him on.


We have a lot to share from Harvey's birthday weekend: pictures, video, and of course shots of the presents! But I've taken ill again and the house is a disaster area and then there's this pesky full-time job to attend to. sigh. to be continued.


This evening saw us at our fourth big party in three days, so it'll take a little while for us to get back to regular life (and post birthday photos and such—though Leah is doing a good job with the videos and has another one in the pipeline). At least the most recent soiree was the most relaxing of the bunch, for me anyhow: both because I wasn't hosting it and because I wasn't exactly invited. It was a baby shower for our sister-in-law Nelly, see, so I was with the rest of the guys exiled to the patio outside. Nothing wrong with that at the height of summer.

It was especially nice to chat with David Linhart, and have him tip us a few tunes after a neighbor brought over a guitar for him to play. Aside from being an acquaintance from back in my college days he also goes to our church, so maybe we can hang out with him again sometime in the hope that his tremendous coolness may rub off on us. I guess it was nice to spend some time with my brother too, but you know.

Harvey is working this solstice-tide business to the absolute maximum, helped no doubt by his tremendous birthday-related overstimulation. Couldn't go to sleep until 10:00 yesterday, quarter-past today; my goodness. Good thing it's almost summer vacation: staying home with me all day will bore him so much he'll want to be in bed by six.


Harvey's Birthday Video

Here's the moment you've all been waiting for: birthday-classic video. But first, some words of explanation.

My mother who is affectionately known in our household as "GrammaBef" bought Harvey a pimped out baby pool for his birthday. This turned out to be the perfect thing for our kid-heavy party on Sunday (although Harvey was rather non-plussed by the chaos in the water).

The video was shot by my awesome brother Jake and cut together against a choice musical selection that required much deliberation. In my head I really wanted something like a punk rock version of "The Circle Game" but unfortunately the internet says that such a thing does not exist. Oh well. But the current selection did make for a fun moment of serendipity. At one point in editing, the music ran out right at the moment when I went from playing mom to yelling mom. I thought that this was so funny that I had to leave it in the final version.

What I notice from watching this video, more than how cute my son is and how amazingly in love with him I seem to be, is how much I look like a mom. Look at me: yelling at kids to share, gingerly keeping my son from drowning, cutting home-made birthday cake. Something happened to me over the past year while I wasn't paying attention. Somehow I got half-way competent at mothering.

And even though the words of the song indicate that I'd like Harvey to slow down his break-necking pace towards adulthood, in truth I don't really. I'm psyched that he's growing so rapidly, that he's learning to do so many new things, because this means that each day is a bit more fun for him. Ever since he popped out of my womb a year ago, I could see the little boy in him. That twinkle in his eye showing that he's desperately yearning to run. To climb and somersault and fall on the grass giggling. And I can't wait for him to be able to. Bring it on, I say.

Oh, and I made him a birthday crown. On Saturday night. Because I'm nuts like that.

Enjoy the video.


vacation time

It's interesting: now that Harvey is a year old, he is for the first time repeating seasonal milestones. I suppose, then, that I've watched him on summer days before, but I can't actually recall doing so. Certainly, he's very different now than he was last summer. Today we played in the garden and walked with the doggy and biked to various places around town—only one of which he could have managed anytime last summer. What I did not do was clean the house in any meaningful fashion, do any laundry, or plant the poor rose bush that's slowly dying on the back steps. Good thing it's going to be a long break!

his first first birthday party

Harvey and his birthday muffin

Happy Birthday dear Harvey...

On Saturday, the day before Harvey's actual birthday, we celebrated with a brunch for the families: two grandpas, one grandma (the other was out of the country), one aunt, and two great-grandmas! And two proud parents, of course. No cake before noon, but Harvey very much enjoyed his birthday banana-chocolate-chip muffin.

After we ate we took some time to frolic in the wonderful almost-summer weather. Harvey loves playing with his grandpa.

playing in the yard with grandpa


He was also very excited to open his presents, and not only because of all the new toys: he's always happy to be the center of attention!

He'll appreciate the big-ticket items from his grandparents—the pool pictured in the video and a sandbox to be assembled later—in good time, but for immediate delight nothing could top the duck with authentic quacking action from tonton Thomas and tante Nelly.

Harvey smiling at some of his presents

straight from Cornell Ornithology to him



This morning as I gathered my work things together Harvey and Dan were hard at play around the grandfather clock. Harvey was fascinated first by the chimes, and then by the hands. He kept pointing and saying "Da" which is his default word for everything, and Dan kept saying "clock."


I left the house thinking to myself, "I sure do love those boys."

I put my bags in the car, started the engine, and then heard Dan yelling from inside:

"Leah! Leah! Harvey just said 'Clock.'"

No he didn't, I though. You've got to be kidding me.

Harvey has two recognizable words these days: Dah for Dog, and Bah for Ball. He'll say Dada and Mama sometimes but not very reliable, and otherwise it's just Da with pointing all the time, in a general indication of "I want THAT!"

So I wanted to hear this multi-consonant miracle for myself. I ran up on the porch and Dan was saying, "Say clock again. Say clock." And Harvey looked at us both blankly, waited, and then with a triumphant look on his face said, "Clargh!"

That little boy. He's just a bundle of amazement. His dad's pretty impressive too.

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