Monday, August 24, 2009

must stop reading Modern Love

I hate the insistence that every bad experience has a “purpose” of some kind. SOMETIMES THINGS JUST HAPPEN. I understand the benefits of looking on the bright side; saying “well, it sucks that I lost my job, but if I hadn’t then I wouldn’t have had time to replace the plumbing.” But accept it for what it is, optimism or rationalization, not something that was “meant to be.” Believing that some force out there not only chose this to happen to you, but chose it in order to IMPROVE you, is arrogant and self-centered and negates the experiences of the people out there who have bad thing happen to them with no reprieve. Like the ones who just die of cancer, in pain, with grieving families. What, had they done something wrong, so they didn’t just get cancer in order to find a new boyfriend? “People don’t die of disease; they die when their life is complete?” Gawd.

Twin Trees

So I thought I’d written up and posted about our trip to Twin Trees back in July, but it turns out I was only half done. And now I don’t remember what else happened. But here’s what I have:

Day 1: I pack furiously, but confronted with a refrigerator full of a CSA share, I am too overwhelmed to consider planning meals. I leave behind the cheese I’d bought for the trip but Dan remembers to bring socks and underwear this time.
The ride is blessedly uneventful. When we arrive, C immediately claims his favorite chair in the living room and reads a book. A wails, as we’re still unloading the car, “C has something to do and I don’t!” I suggest she climb on rocks, and to my surprise, she thought that was a fantastic suggestion.

We unpack and eat ice cream and send the kids to bed. (C in the Chalet, and I wonder if the fact that he not only accepts, but enjoys, sleeping in a building by himself at his age is something I should worry about.) Dan equates contra dancing with speed dating and we listen to the rain on the roof.

Day 2 dawns bright and sunny; we wonder where we are. Friends call and worry that their child may be too ill to visit. We assure them that vomiting only adds to the ambiance and ask them to pick up our cheese*. Dark clouds have rolled in by the time they arrive. “It’s funny,” they say, “it was sunny right up until we turned onto Thirteenth Lake Road.” How did my ancestors find such a miserable microclimate?

Hooper mine, lemon balm pesto, wine, campfire, s’mores (with vegan marshmallows!), hearts. Dan and I marvel at the functional toaster, and it occurs to us that we, too, could have one that toasts both sides of the bread simultaneously and stops when done.

Day 3: A bickers with her friend all morning (“everyone in the whole world is hurting my feelings!”) but shrieks, “You can’t leave so soon!” when his family departs. We go to Raquette Lake, where it’s windy and cloudy but not actually raining. The kids explore the cemetery when we return. We wonder, not for the first time, why my relatives LIKE to have a view of the road. I read a recipe that calls for a quart of breadcrumbs, which are used as bait to trap the pigeons used as the meal’s protein source.

Day 4: C wants to spend the day in his pajamas and we agree that he doesn’t have to go anywhere that requires clothing. So we spend the mostly sunny day reading; A colors and misuses game pieces and both kids play outside. Dan can’t take another day without e-mail and goes to North Creek for a fix. (I am extremely jealous.) He then demonstrates an effective way of removing dried CSA popcorn from the cob that he learned from a childhood of tic-tacking houses with field corn. I propose that people who hit deer with their cars be required to take partial responsibility for their actions by learning to gut and cook the meat.

Day 5: I think we went to the swimming hole at Ski-Bowl, which has the same lifeguard as last year. Sweet job- there are rarely any swimmers there, the pond is only about 5 feet deep, and he has his friends come over to hang out all day.

Day 6: Our next set of friends gets in around midnight and we stay up way too late chatting.

Day 7: A guest cooks us potatoes and peanuts for our third breakfast before we head out to Hooper Mine again. A climbs to the promontory without assistance. We stop at Thirteenth Lake on the way home and A freaks out when “black plumpy things” attach themselves to her. “The problem is that she doesn’t move around enough so the leeches have a chance to grab on,” Dan opines, as he swims out to a rock. All the children wail because they can’t reach the rock too.

Dan liked last year’s improvised lentil/ turnip/ feta meal so much that he makes it again, on purpose this time. Brian arrives as our other friends leave, bearing a six-pack of beer and a bag of cookies. He knows how to please us.

Day 8: Brian takes his bike to check out the “bike center” at Garnet Hill Lodge but is foiled by typical Adirondack service. So he rides to North Creek and back instead. The grandparents pick up C for a couple nights at Raquette Lake.

I tell Dan that I don’t want to go out to dinner if it means driving as far as Indian Lake (20 minutes). He tricks me into getting in the car to drive to the trailhead for Vanderwhacker Mountain an HOUR away, the last five miles of which on a rocky dirt road that does unmentionable things to our car. It’s muddy and buggy and steep and starts to rain when we’re less than halfway up. Brian and I insist on descending, traumatizing A who’d been promised a fire tower, but as it starts raining harder and harder even Dan admits we were right. We arrive at the car soaking wet and covered in mud, and of course have to creep back along the now-wet road designed for high-clearance 4WD vehicles. We have been officially Vanderwhacked.

Tired and hungry, we stop in Olmstedville for pizza at the dubiously-named Lucky Leprechaun. The waitress is polite and the place is clean, which is remarkable ‘round these parts, so things are looking up. The food takes forever, but when it finally comes I’m impressed that my first slice of pizza is tasty. Then I have a second and realize I was just starving initially. There is a single bathroom that eight people, including the four in our party, all desperately need to use simultaneously. I give up before it’s my turn, determining that it’d be more expedient to just drive home, where I declare that sea shanties don’t make anyone gay.

Days 9: Who knows? Presumably we were recovering from being Vanderwhacked.

Day 10: We manage to pack and clean up early so we’d have time to get home and settle in before I needed to go to work on Monday. But we are foiled on our way out of North River, when A has a sudden bout of (understandable) motion sickness and vomits all over the car. We spend an extra half hour cleaning up in the Hudson. Our car ride is more peaceful than usual, as C is still with his grandparents and A can obsessively listen to the same book on tape as she did on the way up, and I get the first load of laundry in as soon as we get home.

Back in September!

* I later find local cheese from happy cows for sale at Hudson River Trading, so I won’t have to fret so about left-behind-cheese in the future.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

this is an awful lot of pears

I expect them all to ripen while Dan is away, leaving me with a lot of work to do this week.

driving home from pear-picking

D (as torrential downpour begins): Sorry; I need to stop telling the story for a while so I can focus on driving.


A: No matter how many zeros you get, you still have nothing.
C: Of course. But if you put just one other number in front of all the zeros, you could have a huge number! Even one that goes on forever!
A: Like pi goes on forever.*

(At this point I get distracted; we’re crossing the Dolly Parton Thaddeus Kosciuszko Bridge and the rain is stopping; I ponder the surprising effect the Mohawk River has on weather patterns. When I tune back in, C is counting by twenty-billions.)

C: 420 billion, 440 billion…
S: Why are you doing that?
D: Because he’s showing off to A. Leave him alone.
S: But why twenty-billions?
C: Because it’s so fun! 580 billion, 600 billion…

When he reaches 900 billion, he starts interjecting the a cappella equivalent of guitar riffs between counts. And there is quite a grand finale at one trillion.


D: Um, did you want to hear the rest of the story now?

* Poor child; I can’t remember the last time we had to calm her angst about pi, but it seems that while she’s much braver about facing it, she’ll never forget.

Monday, August 17, 2009

maybe I shouldn't try to learn everything from books

I nicked a tire on my bike last week and replaced the tube by following the instructions on the box. I still wanted to patch the old one though- Dan has done enough tube patching to feel that it’s not worth the effort, but I figured it was worth a try, especially since the tube was only a month old and we need one for our spare bike. I couldn’t find any rubber cement, so I asked a friend who was coming over to bring some along if she had any.

Instead she brought a patch kit; even better. And it had instructions- hurray! They say “How to use” with a little picture of a skull and crossbones on one side and a fire on the other.

“1. The side of Aluminum foil is adhesive and care should be taken so that a finger.”
Huh. Well, maybe this makes sense in context.

“2. Pick a corner of the paper and remove the paper softly from the aluminum foil.”
Okay, I don’t see any “paper,” but maybe that’s what the orange stuff behind the black stuff is.

“3. When the rubber solution coated on the tube s about dry put this patch on it with paper as it is.”
That implies there’s a rubber solution coated on the tube. Well, I can do that. I do wonder how I’ll know when it “s about dry.”

“4. Snap the paper by folding the patch on the center.
5.Remove the paper from the snapped parts.”
These suggest the paper goes on top, which is logical. I suspect that if it’s actually paper it won’t snap exactly, but whatever.

“6. Place the repaired part of the tube on a stand and pat it with a small hammer several times.”
“Pat” it with a hammer? Huh. Pressing it together or clamping it seems to make more sense than gently slamming it. But anyway.

It felt like I should start by putting the rubber cement on the tube, since I’d be waiting ‘til it “s about dry” and all. So I get out the cute little tube enclosed, open it, and squeeze. Nothing happens. Hmm. I start flattening it from the bottom. Still nothing. Aha! The cap is still sealed! I poke a hole in the foil carefully, expecting rubber cement to start oozing out too quickly due to all the squeezing. But it doesn’t. The brand new, unopened tube appears to be completely empty. And I give up.

I'm no longer sure how I feel about the Internet. Or the funny papers.

C (laughing): I looked up a chemical and it talked about its atomic number, so then I had to look up what atomic number meant, and it said it was the number of protons in the nucleus. But then I had to look up what nucleus meant!
My father: What chemical were you looking up?
C: Chlorine. It said it was hay-lo-genic.
My father: Yes, it’s a halogen. Why were you looking up chlorine?
C: Because when I looked up IED the article talked about chlorine.
S: What’s an IED?
C: Improvised Explosive Device.
S: Er, why were you looking up IED?
C: It was in one of the comics.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

and women don't like beer, either

This article discusses how bicycling is a white, upper/ middle class pursuit and wonders why. It irked me. First, it doesn't actually have any data at all to back up bicycling as "white." It sounds like someone asked a few (probably white) people if they think most cyclists are white and they all said yes, which isn't exactly an accurate sampling method. Second, it jumps to assumptions about cycling as transportation after considering cycling as a sport. It's likely true that a smaller percentage of non-white people take up bicycling as a hobby for the same reasons they're probably less likely to take up any sport that demands expensive equipment and travel; like skiing, it just doesn't make sense for most of us to do it, and if all your friends aren't doing it there's no good reason to take it up. But I suspect that a lot MORE poor people, who are disproportionately non-white, use bicycles for transportation because they can't afford cars.

Maybe things are different in Toronto; it has much better public transportation than my area, so maybe the poor have better options than bicycles. But about half the cyclists I see once I cross into Albany are black. I'm not riding anywhere that a sane recreational rider would choose to go; the people I see are just trying to get around, just as I am. Unfortunately, they're apparently invisible to the powers that be.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm still not entirely comfortable with it

I forgot my first name last week. I was signing a work e-mail and it didn’t seem quite right, and I sounded it out and it didn’t seem like it ought to be pronounced like that, really it’s an awfully odd combination of letters and sounds, and is that really right? The first “a” really should be more of a schwa sound, shouldn’t it? My, I need more sleep. And, apparently, a less complicated name.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

not part of his job description

A: C, will you make a prince puppet for me to go with my princess?
C: No, why would I want to do that?
A: To make me happy.
C: Er, no, I'm busy.