posts tagged with 'complaining'

vacation life

There are some things that are really relaxing about vacation. I've read some good books! We've taken walks with all five of us together! But I have to say that I also feel some stress with the unstructured time. See, the boys know there's no school this week, which to them—unconsciously, I think—suggests that they don't have to do any work at all. Like, not even morning chores or clearing their plates, or, you know, throwing away the candy wrappers that they left in the living room. Of course, everybody needs a break from time to time but it's not like in their regular life they're toiling at the salt mines. And it doesn't help that they're not celebrating their extra free time with creative outdoor play; mostly it's just Pokemon Scarlet and Violet on the Nintendo Switch. Ah well, at least they're happy, and that's worth something!

I feel this way every fall

We're having trouble getting up in the morning these days. It's dark. Daylight Savings time doesn't end until a week from Sunday, and I can't wait; I'm so glad the permanent DST revolution didn't pass. I would like to say more about the whole subject, but I find that I've already said it all. I just have to repeat myself because it's still terrible!

what if I just used a typewriter?

I got a new computer. I didn't want to; I'm old, so I don't enjoy new things. But I need to make some videos for work and opening up Premiere Pro last week showed my that my old machine has some... issues. They're actually issues that would have led any normal person to start shopping for a new computer weeks—months!—ago, but I resist change, so it took something not functioning at all to force a decision. I spent a fair bit of my work day today setting up and configuring (all while trying to do work) and I am feeling pretty frustrated with what seems to me to be change for change's sake. Can't I just have a new computer that's exactly like the old one, but working?! I don't want to get used to a whole new mail client with a different layout. But that frustration is tempered by the fact that's it's actually pretty nice to not have to wait an average of three seconds after each mouse click to see something happened. My work will definitely go quicker once I get used to all the changes. And the old computer lasted me almost eight years; if this one is even near as good I'll have plenty of time to adapt.

we need a time change

It's been so hard for us to get going in the mornings lately! We're all early risers (well, mostly all) but once risen we also have to make a start on the work of the day, especially when we need to leave the house by 8:30. Who can be bustling around getting ready when it's still dark out?! Well, lots of people apparently: everyone with school or jobs out of the house lately, and everyone on the other side of the time zone. But we're not used to it, and it feels pretty challenging. We're all looking forward to some morning sun Sunday morning!


I'm having a hard time getting everything done these days—even imagining how I'm going to get everything done. The last two days I took many hours making a new door for our bike shed (really just the space under the front porch) after the old one crumbled away to nothing. Today I also took the boys to swim in a pool with friends. They liked it a lot—on the drive home Lijah said, "this was the best day of my life"—and I enjoyed sitting in the shade and talking to an adult person who hasn't already heard everything I have to say. But there's so much other work! Oh well, I guess that's summer.

Elijah floating in a pool on a donut thing

very summer

don't you have your own food?!

The most frustrating thing about gardening is having animals eat the plants. A woodchuck has found a way inside the fence; those kale plants he ate half of? They'd been growing for close to two months, and he ruined them in one snack (he didn't eat half of the plants; he ate half of each plant). The lettuces have also suffered. Maybe most disappointing is the disappearance of so many of the strawberries. We have netting, but constant assalts by squirrels, chipmunks, and gray catbirds have revealed some weaknesses. Zion and I did what we could to secure it this morning, but I don't know how much difference it'll make. In that case, if they eat the strawberries all we can do is wait til next year! It's hard.

I don't begrudge the animals what they need to stay alive. And I recognize that my house and yard are taking up space that their ancestors may have occupied for tens of thousands of years before me. But I can't help but think they're getting a little spoiled, taking only the ripest strawberries or the most tender greens. Aren't there acorns or something for them to eat?!

the seasonality of chrysanthemums

A few days out from the official start of fall, it seems like everyone in our neighborhood—everyone but us—has potted chrysanthemums adorning their front porches. Lot of them! Like they must have been on sale somewhere. Since I'm a contrary old cuss, I have some thoughts.

Now don't get me wrong, mums are lovely. We have a few in our garden, and I love the half-wild ones along the side of the bike path. They're a great sign of early fall; it's so wonderful to see flowers starting to bloom just as most of the others are fading away. The coppery and deep red ones in particular are great fall colors too. But!

Never mind how sad I find it when people buy perennials in pots—daffodils or tulips or easter lillies or mums—and then toss them when their "season" is over. That's their prerogative, and if I don't like it I can just grab the cast-off plants to put in the ground myself (I have, too!). But when you have these plants, forced and trimmed to within an inch of their lives, signifying fall... it just doesn't make sense! They're all greenhouse-grown; they could just have well been forced for any other time of year. And worse, the same way you get mums you could just as well have, oh, I don't know, petunias! That is to say, there's no horticultural reason for people to be buying mums—they're just doing it because that's what one does in the fall.

It's like the plastic pumpkins that have started to move from basements to front lawns over the past couple weeks. Why are pumpkins a sign of fall? Because they don't ripen until well into the fall, when everything else is dying. So it maybe doesn't make so much sense to put them out in early September when the sweet corn and summer squash and tomatoes are still going strong. There's nothing wrong with early pumpkins—either plastic or genuine—but their connection with the season is artificial and so less meaningful and interesting.

And that's true of so many things. We celebrate the turning seasons, but we're completely insulated from any real affects as they change. Our homes are heated and cooled to the same temperature all year round; our jobs are completely season- and weather-independent; we can eat watermelon and peas and raspberries all year round. So I guess it makes sense that we need to resort to artificial means to bring back some sense of seasonality. For sure, I agree that seasons are great! And to appreciate them even more, I suggest some slightly more intensive gardening: toss those potted mums into a hole and water them a little until it freezes, and they'll come back next year—at just the right time to celebrate the fall!


pre-halloween fear-mongering

Q: When Can Kids Trick-or-Treat in Bedford?

A: Whenever the #&*% they want!

glowing jack-o-lanterns: a bat and an H carved and illuminated in little pumpkins

our early display

Alas, my sensible answer isn't the one proposed by Chief John Bryfonski and the Bedford Police Department. As the article I linked above explains, they want to keep kids safe this Halloween; and apparently the safest hours are between 6 and 8. Or something. I'm sure it's not any reflexive desire for control on their part.

If Halloween is dangerous at all it's because of drivers being idiots (I almost wrote, "because of cars"... but it's the drivers who are the problem). It seems to me that holding an alternate activity in a parking lot isn't the best was of avoiding that hazard; I suppose they must close part of it to make room for the kiddies. I hope so! At "Trunk-or-Treat" representatives of local businesses give out candy from the trunks of their cars, because taking candy from strangers—strangers representing corporations, natch!—is such a better idea than getting to know your neighbors.

At least local businesses would never poison the candy (or I should say they wouldn't add additional poison... I've tried Laffy Taffy). Your neighbors trying to kill you is what the police chief is worried about when he suggests we should "[e]xamine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before you eat them.... Eat only factory-wrapped candy. Avoid eating homemade treats offered by strangers." Never mind no one has been poisoned or injured by any Halloween treat, ever (well, except that kid who was poisoned by his dad); it's important to make people aware of made-up threats so they'll... be more attuned to real threats later? Feel like the police dept is a worthwhile expense on the town budget? Watch more news reports? I confess I have no idea. It might just be that none of us has any idea what's going on in the world these days and why everything feels out of control, and mythical dangers are something we can wrap our heads around.

Now if you're so inclined, there are plenty of reasons to hate Halloween. We tried it for a little while! (We backed off pretty quick, because of costumes. Who can resist this little mouse?! Or these monkeys?! You prefer kings? Pirates?)

mousie close-up


But please, don't pretend to love the holiday and then do all you can to stifle its proper observation.

We're going to be doing Halloween this year. As of the moment Harvey and Zion have their costumes planned (though plans can change—and have more than once already) and we fully intend to make homemade treats, like we do. And we'll be trick-or-treating, of course. Probably around 6:00, too.. but not cause they told us to! That's just when we finish dinner.


sounds louder than "easy wind and downy flake"

The boys and I walked up to the library late this afternoon, and back after dark. Well, Harvey and I walked; after the first twenty or thirty steps Zion rode in the stroller, wrapped up in blankets and a towel against the damp. It was a pleasant wintery evening: warmer that it has been, though damp and raw, and with a fine snowfall sparkling in the air. We sang "Winter Wonderland" on the way up (as well as many choruses of "Willaby Wallaby", with all the names we could think of). Nearly free of whining, it was an almost perfect transportation walk except for one thing: the roar of passing cars that made it just about impossible to hold a conversation.

You don't notice it so much when you're inside them, but cars are pretty loud—and all the more so when the road is wet. Even as slow as they're moving in town—not much more than thirty miles per hour anywhere along our evening's route—the noise of the tires was enough that Harvey and I had to just about shout to talk to each other, and Zion, talking out of his pile of blankets, didn't have a hope of making himself heard.

I don't have any hope of improving the situation, or any idea of what could even be done in a perfect world. At least living where we do we always have the option, when we want to be able to talk while walking, of heading out to the woods or fields. But that way we don't get anywhere useful. I can't even claim any moral high ground, since this winter I've been driving around town at least as much as I've been walking, and our new car has giant wheels that are probably even louder than average.

There's probably a broader point to be made about externalities here, but I'm too sleepy to come up with it. When it comes to driving, maybe it's just that it's hard for people behind the wheel to remember that anything external to their vehicle even exists. I'll try and fight that as I drive, and while I can't do much about the noise I'll be careful not to splash pedestrians with water from puddles, or honk my horn where it could startle someone. That—and trying to drive a little less—might make the world a tiny bit better.


the indignities of modern existence

Don't get me wrong: I enjoy living in the 21st century. I appreciate many things about it, like modern medicine (though that mostly in theory) and Google Maps. But there are a few things about modern that really annoy me, and since this is my blog I'm going to share.

My biggest complaint today is salt on the roads. It's kind of out of control this week; my working theory is that, having not used any last year, the road crews are putting our double batches each time it snows. Certainly, the roads and parking lots here are practically white with it, and depending on temperature and humidity all road users are constantly showered with either grimy gray dust or disgusting dirty water. On dry days the cloud of particulate matter from the highway reaches up above the crossing bridges! The world is uglier for all the dirty salt; plants suffer when they're exposed to it; and it's disgusting that I have to wash my face every morning when I get to school.

Of course, any time you complain you need to provide an alternative solution, and I've got mine all figured out: when the roads are slippery, everyone should stay home. Relax. Read a book, or do some dusting if you need to keep busy. Or, if you must go out, drive slowly and carefully; I'd bet it would take a lot more snow than we've had this winter to actually stop cars—to say nothing of the giant SUVs that half the population drives—from getting where they want to go if their drivers are willing to adjust to conditions.

More complaints! We have a skating rink (and other associated athletic facilities) down the road from us; it got put in a few years ago, replacing a perfectly fine stretch of woods and marsh. Alright, people need to ice skate and since we've ruined the climate the ponds aren't reliable any more. But the facility has recently been expanded, to the tune of two outdoor artificial-turf fields, and since it's winter one of the fields has been covered with a gigantic white plastic bubble tent. For some reason, said bubble is illuminated many evenings with the lights all around the field—I can only imagine that some of the light shines through the plastic to light the games within. Some: a whole lot of it gets reflected right back up to create literally the worst light pollution I've ever seen in my life (not counting those stupid movie-theater waving searchlight thingies). It's bad enough on clear nights to drive over the hill and see it there like an alien landing site or enormous crime scene, with the branches of all the trees in a half-mile radius lit up in stark relief; still worse are evenings like this one where low clouds bring the light right into our bedroom windows. Last night we had to close the shades, otherwise it would have been too bright to sleep.

The solution to this one is easy: make people who want to play sports play seasonally-appropriate ones, outside. And maybe during the day, too. There's a connection between my two complaints, because to my mind they're both caused by people determined to do the things they want to do regardless of the conditions around them. It's slippery? Melt the ice. It's cold and dark? Make a big plastic illuminated cocoon. No harbor in Alaska? Detonate some nuclear bombs (thankfully someone with sense pointed out the potential flaws with that last one, and the plan was never carried out). Yes, living in the future as we do we have the power to alter our environment in enormous and profound ways. But maybe, more times than not, we shouldn't.