When simple is very good

August 4, 2009

Five of my favorite simple summer pleasures

1- Making and enjoying a simple salad comprised entirely of things from your very own garden*

2- Drifting off to sleep to the sound of crashing waves, laughing children and the sand moving underneath your improvised pillow

3- An early morning run when a soft breeze blows and smells faintly of honeysuckle

4- Taking a solitary Sunday walk to an ice cream shop and deciding the abundance of calcium makes your double cone an appropriate if not sensible choice for lunch

5- Plunging yourself into the Atlantic and feeling the nerve endings on your skin jump to attention as your body slowly cools and drifts with the sea

What are your simple summer pleasures?

*My tomatoes are finally in and boy were they worth the wait!  Everything else in my garden has been growing like crazy from all of this rain.

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Last week D and I found ourselves with one of those reasons to celebrate* that allows you to forgo any self imposed budgetary restrictions you had in place and go anywhere you want for dinner.  We mulled it over and talked about where he wanted to go, we thought about some swanky places with over priced food and some really casual places with underrated food.  Finally we settled on a beatutiful local place on the docks that over looks the water and has a view as good as the food.  We generally stay away from these places not because they are not great, but because well…they are always full of people.  Last week was no different.  Here are the 5 different classifications of people who were out that night and easy ways to spot them.

1) The Family That Arrived by Yacht.

Can be spottedwearing: Navy blue blazers with gold buttons, white shirts, tan pants and loafers (no socks).  Amazingly enough, this outfit comes in sizes ranging from 4T to 44/34.  Adult women can be found in Lilly Pulitzer dresses on overly tanned skin wearing their ‘summer’ diamonds on polished fingers clutching Chanel bags.   Juvenile girls wear sundresses with impossibly white cardigans and have begun training for their first face lift with hair pulled back in a painfully tight bow courtesy of their foreign nanny.

Can be heard: Saying nothing.

kids_collection_15

2) The People That Work for the Family That Arrived by Yacht.

Can be spotted wearing: White shorts and matching polo shirts over tan well worked bodies with boating sandals, white sneakers or flip flops.  When the sun goes down and their polarized sunglasses are pushed up on their sun bleached hair you can see serious sunglass lines (raccoon eyes) and are assured they have the farmers tan to match.

Can be heard: Actually talking to the children or seeking out a place to find cheap draft beer.

3) The Tourists.

Can be spotted wearing:  Matching sweatshirts with screened on letters spelling out the name of the town they are visiting or the town they visited before when the temperature dropped and they realized they packed for the tropics not a coastal town in New England.    Outfits are accessorized with shopping bags full of salt water taffy, cheap t-shirts and small boxes covered in shells. Cameras hang unashamedly around their necks.

Can be heard: Asking for directions while looking at their map, discussing the merits of the 2 for 1 coupon verse the 20% off coupon and wondering out loud ‘where all the locals eat’.

4) The Locals

Can be spotted wearing: Judgemental looks, signs of fatigue and whatever they wore to work that day, or whatever they threw on when they got home. 

Can be heard: Complaining about the tourists, saying hello to friends who have also ventured out for the night and comparing this summers crowds to last.

5) The Fishermen

Can be spotted wearing: Concerned looks over the falling  prices of  wholesale lobster** under salt caked baseball caps advertising West Marine or a local shipyard,  foul weather gear, work boots and t-shirts.   Work callused hands clutch bags of gear, coolers of lunch remnants and sweatshirts not needed since dawn.

Can be heard: Giving each other a hard time, laughing at someones expense or walking home exhausted in silence. 

* For anyone who is wondering, D passed the last of 7 exams to become a licensed architect. 

**Go out tonight and buy lobster!  It is cheap, delicious and the industry is really hurting.  If you live in NE, buy local lobster!  If you live anywhere else, buy NE lobster! If you are a lobster lover and are going to write me a nasty e-mail about the promotion of killing sea creatures don’t bother! 

lobster

Don’t you want to eat me?

Letter to my neighbor

June 8, 2009

Dear Neighbor, 

I just wanted to take a moment and mention the following five things.

1) It is not completely unreasonable for the people in the immediate vicinity to want to get some sleep on a Sunday evening.

2) Spending time in your back yard swearing like a sailor, trying to sing songs you don’t know the words to and screaming at the top of your inebriated lungs do not help the rest of us fall  or remain asleep.

3) Responding with threats, assertions that you are the only civilized person on the street and saying that it is America when politely asked to quiet down or move the party inside do not help either. 

4) Taunting, hollering and daring the people around you to call the police might not be the best plan for helping your case. 

5) I hope you spend the morning vomiting up your indiscretions and suffering with a headache that makes your re-think your religion.

Sincerely, Your Neighbor

So it has officially been ages since I have posted.  I wish I had a really good reason why I have been missing from the interwebs* but the fact is, life has just been insane.  Since the truth about where I have been is no where near as exciting as it should be, I am going to post five really good excuses and let you pick which one is your favorite, and you can go with that. 

1) An oldie, but a goodie; I was abducted by aliens.  I was driving my car along I95 between Hartford and Bridgeport, CT (the WORST stretch of highway in the world) and I beganto think that nothing in the world could be more aggravating than this. Then SLAM  a bright light appeared form the sky and I, my 2004 Mazda 3 and all the crap I keep inside were beamed up into the sky.  Three weeks later, I returned to earth.

2) I briefly joined the Obama administration to try to talk him through his pick for supreme court justice.  We all know that the Obama team has had trouble with their choices and taxes and I thought that I could help out.  I went through his lists of Hispanics and Chicks and personally checked their tax returns for the last 22 years.  Step off GOP, I have this one covered.

3) I ran away from home.  I decided that work and laundry and the never ending job of vacuuming up cat hair were too much for my feeble mind to handle any more.  So I tossed some things in a back pack grabbed a sleeping bag and headed to North Hampton, MA to join all the spoiled-little-rich-kids engaging in political homelessness and trivializing the real problem of mental health issues and people living on the street.  Then I realized I could not stand those people but I sold my phone for a Venti non fat no whip latte and had to hitch hike home.

4) I went to a meditation retreat and spent three weeks removing myself from people, noise and technology to focus on my breath and the sounds of nature.  I Ohm’d morning, noon and night and slept on a board to insure my soul was grounded and close to mother earth.  This worked out exceedingly well for me until I realized that I don’t like my breath and the noise of technology is no where near as frightening as the things that run through my mind when giving the opportunity to take over. 

5) I have just been insanely busy.  Work has been both really good and really stressful and D and I are trying like the dickens to move into our new home in June.  This is the new home that currently has no bathroom tile, no kitchen floor and is still waiting for the gas company to find the time to hook up our gas line so we can have luxuries like hot water…and a stove. 

I hope you have all been well and I look forward to catching up on your blogs this week. 

PS:  If you ever google “hello, yeah its been a while” to double check the lyrics (something I always do before I post) you will find pages of people starting posts about why they have been away for.  It is pretty funny even it is is most obviously unoriginal. 

*I stole this term from FB.  Consider this a footnote please.

The other day, FB over at The Change I wish to See had a wonderful post about the sweeping feeling of depression that is crashing over people.  As usual, his words stuck with me and for the rest of the week I thought about ways to make myself and the people around me feel better…if only for a minute.  I have come up with this 5 suggestions for putting a smile on your, or someone elses face.

1) Smile at people- smile at friends, smile at strangers, smile at the girl who is collecting your money for the 18th parking ticket you have receivedthis month.  It is not her fault the meter maids are pissed about layoffs and are taking it out on parkers everywhere and I grantee you…giving her the look of death will not make anyone feel better.  Smiling is contagious.  It is why we coo at babies, to teach them to me happy.

2) Bring donuts to work- I wanted to try to make these suggestions free (because lets face it, the economy is in the shitter and we are all worried about money) but for the few dollars it costs to bring in some deep friend carbohydrates and powered sugar…I promise you will see a return on your investment.

3)Open the door for people- personally, I think nothing is sexier than a man who opens doors for a woman, and a woman who smiles and walks right trough.  But, anyone can open a door.  Open it for a kid, hold it for a stranger, linger when you see someone elderly on the curb.  The smile and thank you is well worth your 17 seconds. 

4) Make faces at children in passing cars- yesterday, while on the way home from a long day at work and a 2 hour committee meeting I sat in traffic hungry, tired and a little cranky.  I looked to my left and there was a little boy in the back seat making a silly face at me while his sister watched eagerly to see my reaction.  With out thinking I stuck out my tongue and wiggled my hands behind my ears.  They looked at each other and died laughing, rolling around the back seat with glee.  I laughed and smiled and suddenly, I was not so hungry, so tired or so irritated anymore.

5) Look at the sunrise, the sunset, the ocean or a rainbow- regardless of what we pay in taxes, how much our in-come is shrinking in relation to our out-go or how expensive life seems to be…the wonders of nature are free and they are glorious. 

Happy Friday!

Has it really been 6 years?

February 20, 2009

It occurred to me this morning that today is the 6 year anniversary of the Station Nightclub fire.  In 2003 C and were living in a townhouse apx 5 minutes from where the Station Nightclub used to be.  I remember hearing the sirens and watching the rescue vehicles fly down the sightly busy road we lived off of.  I remember turning on the TV to see what had happened and I remember the horrific images.  Since then….

-I never go in to a bar, a night club or theatre with out taking note of the nearest fire exit.  I don’t know that it would have mattered for many of those people, but I can’t help it.

-The world of fire safety and prevention in public areas has changed.  Every time you have an event and find out you can not have open flames or your hurricane glass must be so may inches taller than your votive, it is one of the may restults of what happened in Rhode Island in 2003.

-The courts are STILL trying to figure out how to compensate victims and their families for the horrific damage fire does to the human body.  

-The state and the people who remember the incident are still raw with emotion.  This was made clear to me a few months ago when Desperate Housewives was showing an episode that included scenes for a fire.  I don’t watch Desperate Housewives, but for hours before the program aired a yellow warning bands scrolled across the TV letting viewers know that the images in that evenings program may be difficult for some to watch and that they may be similar to what happened at The Station Nightclub. 

-The airing of the Doc’s last radio broadcast still sends chills down my spine.

Humble Pie

January 24, 2009

-I am humbled by the gift of friendship; by the easy laughter,  smooth conversation and sensation of being completely accepted.  I am humbled by a gift from a dear friend who gave me something so thoughtful and so generous, so kind and so clearly evident of the depth in which she knows me.

-I am humbled by manual labor.  I am humbled by the people who do this work day in and day out in the snow and the wind and the cold without the luxury of five days at a desk to rest their sore backs and heal their wounded hands.

-I am humbled by a friend who choose to bring a child into this world and now waits patiently and lovingly for the infant to arrive.  I am as humbled by her certainty as I am by her calm and I am humbled by the mother I know she will be.

-I am humbled by the man who stood in front of me in line at a market last week and waited with his head high for a manger to re-try a benefits card that would not work. I am humbled by the sack of milk, bread and cheese he was determined to bring home to his family and  I am humbled by my inability to find the best way to help him while I waited and did nothing.

-I am humbled by my husband whose reservoirs of hard work and patience show no visible end.  I am humbled by his enthusiasm to wake up and work the 6th and 7th day of the week and I am humbled by the absence of one word of complaint.

What humbles you?

Forget the calander…here are five ways you can really tell it is fall in New England.

1) People suddenly forget how to drive. Rain in April, no problem. Rain in December…FREAK OUT. And this is coming from arguably the worst driver to ever recieve a liscence legally.

2)Commutes increase by 20 minutes due to the number of mommies and daddies driving their kids to school. Apparently children born after 1990 have a lower core temerature than anyone born during the Carter or Regan years and have a serious risk of contracting hypothermia if the temperature drops below 40 and they, heaven forbid, have to wait outside. They have also stopped making hats and scarves and mittens or maybe they just don’t sell them at Limited Too.

3) There are pot holes in the road the size of Rhode Island. I don’t know how it is possible to have such large holes in the roads surface with out losing a small un-hatted child. Forget about  government works projects developing new roads and infrastructure….lets start by fixing the ones we have got. I and my tires thank you.

4) You are forced to check Accuweather three times a day to see what you should be wearing any time you want to leave your house. 65 and sunny Monday does not mean it won’t be 41 and rainy on Tuesday. Finally get out those rain boots out and they freeze solid on Wednesday when it is a whopping 8. Don’t get too comfortable.  Thursday they are calling for 52 with sun showers before that nor’ester moves in on Friday so you better stop for a show shovel on your way home from work.

5) Every local bar and pub has replaced their lovely regular beers on tap with some sort of winter-wonder-fest monstrosity promising to taste of cinnamon, clove or wrapping paper. Even worse, they insist on serving this potpourri of alcoholic artificial flavors in a sugared and spiced glass. I am not making this up*.

*I am really not making this up. Last week when I ordered a pint of beer at one of my formerly favorite bars, the bartender said, “would you like that in a sugared glass?”. “oh no” I replied, “I did not want a margarita, just a beer”. “I know” she said, “the winter ale comes in a sugared glass”. No lie.

Here are 5 ways you can very easily waste an entire weekend, with out really accomplishing anything.

1) Watching Lifetime TV- Even worse than Lifetime is that Lifetime movie network.  Have you seen the one where all the 14 year old’s get syphilis?  It sure makes the “gee mom, I smoked a cigarette, we should really talk about it” after school specials we grew up on seem rather lame. 

2) Thinking about packing but not actually packing – At the end of the week I am heading to Alaska for a few days for work and I have NO idea what to pack.*  I have a  formal reception to go to plus lots of meeting-ish stuff and the only thing I can think of that sounds Alaska appropriate is a fur coat and muff. And as fate would have it… both my fur coat and muff are at the cleaners.  Maybe Sarah Palin can take a brief break from her political career and SNL obligations to give me some advice?  Also, does anyone know where I get on of those blow up neck pillow things for the plane? The non-blow up ones are easy to find but I can’t find the inflatable ones anywhere and since I will be spending apx 18 hrs in airplane seats, I am thinking regardless of the cost…it will be worth the investment.

3) Baby worship – My friend H, whose baby shower I attended last month, had her beautiful little girl two weeks ago.  I spent a good portion of Sunday gazing into her sapphire blue eyes (when they were open) and being in total wonder of this little girl who turned my friend into a mother.  (I spent an equal portion of Sunday hearing all about the horrible birth she had, vowing never to go to the hospital where she delivered and making a mental note to research adoption agencies when I got home)

4) Gem week on HSN- As aforementioned, I am a sucker for home shopping networks, and gem week is my favorite.  But, for anyone who is feeling judgemental about home shopping I must inform you that as of this morning, the design store for Museum of Modern Art was on HSN.  And if it is good enough for the MOMA, it is good enough for all of us.  Don’t judge. 

5) Listening to the Bills game on the radio – I have not had time to really look into it this morning but apparently, someone released some balloons outside of the Bills stadium, they got caught in a  transformer and the entire stadium was with out power for most of the game.  No lights, no score board, no timing system, no communication between players, and commentators who were calling in the game via cell phone as ref’s kept the clock on watches.  I love this stuff!  I just hope the balloons did not belong to some dude who was hoping to propose to his girlfriend on the score board at half time. Not only did he fuck up the game for everyone else; he was with out balloons to give her when he popped the question on a score board that was not working.  Tough day MR. Stadium Scoreboard Proposal Guy. 

* Some of you have GOT to be wondering what I do for a living that requires me to go to Mississippi and Alaska in the same month.

As I mentioned on Friday, this past weekend D and I went up to VT with some friends to drink some wine, eat some food and spend some time enjoying the fall foliage. It was all quite lovely and serene, and would have been absolutely perfect if not for the following five people*.

1) The self righteous pro-shop girl- yes she was wearing Carhartt pants cuffed to her calf’s with some fancy strappy Keen sandal’s. And yes, she was pretty darn sure this made her better than us, she may have even been right. But really, out right laughing at us when we asked about a local restaurant was slightly unnecessary. I’m sorry, I’m a tourist. I am here spending my money in your town off season to pay your salary so you can buy trendy “I am so un-trendy” clothes and look down on others, I don’t live here. I don’t have the open and close dates of every joint memorized and no, I don’t think I am being a total jack off for asking.

2) The un supervised children- I understand children are people too, and I understand that just because you have children does not mean you are no longer entitled to a vacation but please, please for my sanity….supervise them! On the floor in the middle of a restaurant with people moving trays of hot coffee and not-so-hot eggs is not a great place to sit and play with trucks. It is actually not a great place to sit and play with anything unless you think a third degree burn will look good on your 5 year old.

3) The early risers- I would just love to know what event someone was getting up for at 5 am on a Saturday that required an hour of blow drying. Because, if I find out I am missing really fun formal events before dawn, I am going to be totally bummed. Not bummed enough to get up before 8:00 but still bummed.

4) The bowling team on the floor above us- there is no other possible explanation for the noises coming from the ceiling. None.

5) The food service Staff – Things that are acceptable at a restaurant : slow service, mediocre food. Things that are not acceptable at a restaurant: large pieces of unidentifiable rubber baked into the bread pudding which sort of smelled like garlic. Having the chef identify the foreign rubber like object really does not make it better. No, we don’t want another garlic smelling bread pudding on the house. Thanks though.

* Regardless of the nut jobs around us, we really did have an amazing weekend. The weather was perfect, the foliage was spectacular and the company could not have been better. As Cat Food and Cabernet so eloquently wrote about earlier this week, fall in New England can not be beat.