Doing Time in 2015

Posted on 4/26/2015 08:25:00 AM
I must say this year is shaping up to be pretty crappy, indeed. 2015 and I have not started off as friends and I anticipate parting under the same circumstances, the way things have been going.

I'm off dealing with all of what makes it crappy.  But one little respite (because we desperately needed one) came last week when we drove up to Philadelphia to see a friend in a play.  It was a lovely old little theater and a great production of The Three Musketeers.  And Alexandre Dumas gave my kids Three Musketeers candy bars at intermission while I was in the bathroom.

We got there early and had some time to kill so we took a tour of Eastern State Penitentiary - something I've wanted to do for awhile now, but for some reason, children under seven are not allowed and every time we've been in the area, we've had one of those things.  This was the first time they would let us in without leaving one of the children tied up to a bike rack outside.  

It's a fascinating building in use as a prison for nearly a hundred and fifty years - from 1829 to 1971 - and almost completely unchanged since it closed it's doors. 

I didn't have a great camera with me and would love to go back and photograph it for real, but here are a few shot from a smarty phone.  They're pretty, handy, these smarty phones.












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The Cat and the Fiddle

Posted on 4/12/2015 11:38:00 AM
This reminds me of a poem... but I think that poem is a cross between Hey Diddle Diddle, The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat, and perhaps something with a cymbal in it.



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Boats Against the Current

Posted on 4/11/2015 03:09:00 PM
This is the conversation I imagine will take place when my kids go back to school next week:

Teacher: "What fun things did you all do over Spring Break?"

Kid 1: "I went to Ocean City!"

Kid 2: "I went to the amusement park!"

Kid 3: "I went to Panama City Beach!" (well... let's hope we don't hear that from a 2nd or 6th grader)

My kid: "My mom made me go look at some dead guy's grave... again."

Yeah, this all doesn't mean much to them now, but when they take high school classes and get to the section on Civil War heroes or great American authors (or presidents, or horror novelists, or wow, I take my kids to a lot of cemeteries don't I?) they'll be able to say, "Hey, not only have I heard of that, but I've been there" and their classmates will be so impressed they'll cheer and put them up on their shoulders and then their teacher will give them an A++++++++ and then they'll thank me, won't they?

I only recently learned that F. Scott Fitzgerald was buried near D.C. in Rockville, Maryland, when I was listening to an interview with Maureen Coleman on NPR about her new book (which I totally want to read).   

The Great Gatsby was one of the first "real books" I ever read.  It was definitely one of the first books I read, analyzed and discussed in some literary detail.  I'm not sure I understood or related to any of the characters in that book, given my seventh-grade life experience.  In some ways, I think I read that book way too early.  But I do remember learning about symbolism, foreshadowing, imagery, personification and a host of other literary devices though that book and it changed how I read Everything after that. I'm completely indebted to F. Scott Fitzgerald for that. 

Last fall, I put two giant, foot wide, google eyes on my office door... because, hey, why not?...  and then a coworker and I had a long discussion about how it reminded us of the billboard described in Gatsby  A couple of days later, a post-it note appeared under those eyes that said, "Dr. T. J. Eckleburg's persistent stare." It stayed there until the tape under one of the eyes gave out a couple of weeks ago.  That made me think I really needed to go follow through on that promise I made myself to go see Fitzgerald's grave site.  So this week when we were running an errand in the area, I found it.  I wish these were better photos; I didn't have my camera with me and the light was getting low, but we stopped by an left a pen and some flowers that the Shortlings picked for Scott and Zelda.









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Spa Day

Posted on 4/10/2015 04:01:00 PM
Spring break has been a bit sucky for The Shortlings.  We've been too busy to go out of town or do anything really interesting and the couple of days when I wasn't working at my job or working at my other job (which seems to be part construction worker right now) it was icky and rainy.  

So they decided amongst themselves, they were going to "have a spa day." 

I bought them some nail polish, gave them one of my face masks and they spent the day pampering each other: massaging and doing "nail treatments" (which used a surprising amount of my spices and kosher salt), and drawing baths, and whoknowswhatelse.  They named it Air Spa and took the whole thing v-e-r-y seriously.

I was totally distractified by my email all day, and when I finally raised my head up, I realized most of the day had gone by and I'd not only forgotten to pay attention to them, but I'd also forgotten to feed them.  So I threw together a little meal, a little ambiance, and searched up some spa music on the interweb, then gave them a taste of Air Spa's (TM pending) new cafeteria.



No, those aren't petit cuts of poulet; that's deep fried mac 'n cheese.  We ain't fancy here at Air Spa.



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In my continuing, "Keeping a record of what's growing in my yard because I will not do it any other way," may I present the next of the Spring flowers to bloom:

Hellebore.

The KingofHearts recognized this from a video game. But we got a botanist friend to confirm the diagnosis, mostly because I cannot live with the idea of being educated from a video game.  

He thinks this is pretty cool and that it makes the entire price of the video game and the thousands of hours he's spent playing it totally worth the price. 

I think you could have picked this up from a two second Google search and then gone on with your life to accomplish tasks, get a high paying job, or perhaps write the Great American Novel, but I guess we each learn in our own way.

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Daffodil Porn

Posted on 4/06/2015 09:26:00 AM
They're everywhere. 

It's like it's trying to be Spring or something.






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Happy Easter, Poor Photobombed Daffodil

Posted on 4/05/2015 09:41:00 AM
 

Hello, sad, neglected blog.  I haven't forgotten about you, I promise. Once we sell a house, I will have more time to think and perhaps write some of those thoughts down without having them turn out to be just one, long, endless collection of expletives. (Unless that has become my language now, which is entirely possible.)

We have been spending every spare minute, fixing, repairing, painting and prettifying the old house in order to get this albatross off from around our necks and get it on the market.  Each day after work, we both go over there and do three or four or more hours of back breaking work while the kids sit in a corner of a house with no furniture and do their homework. It's terrible for us, but it's horrible for them.

I realized the other day that, with the exception of two closets and one wall in the kitchen, I have put at least one coat of paint on each and every wall and most of the floors in the entire house over the last six months.  And those three things I didn't paint? Someone else did.  If fresh paint could increase the value of a house (and most realtors act as though it does), that house would be worth One Million Dollars. I'd give you a more in depth update than that, but I don't want to jinx it.

Today, we sent The Shortlings on an Easter Egg Hunt around the new property.  


Some took the search more seriously than others.


And those some, accordingly, found more eggs.

A few eggs were lost to the elements.


Why the squirrels work so hard to get inside the egg and then do not eat the candy, I shall never know.

There were about ninety or so eggs (because for some reason, I had about a hundred and fifty plastic eggs in a bin in the attic when we moved). The KingofHearts explained to the girls that there were a lot of eggs and one "Special Golden Egg" with $50 inside, so they'd better look closely.

They searched with all their might, but never found the golden egg.  Finally, they decided to have breakfast and then return to look again after being buoyed up by calories, but before they went out for the return search, The Dormouse decided to ask the One True Question:

"Is there really a Golden Egg with $50?"

KoH: "Nah, I just made that up."

Dormouse: "Really?!?"

KoH: "Yup.  EASTER FOOLS!!!"

Dormouse: "THAT IS NOT A THING!" *stomps away*

She's going to look back fondly on her years with us, isn't she?



This one, on the other hand, will probably invent a cult of her own and have a billion followers.




So Happy Easter from the Underland Crew.  Don't bother looking for eggs.  Unless you got a chicken to lay them for you.


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The Lonesome Death of Alice

Posted on 3/25/2015 07:55:00 AM
At a nursery one day a few years ago, I took pity on this tiny plant on the for sale table that looked dead already, but was on sale for twenty-five cents - probably because the tiny little stalk wasn't any taller than a quarter.  I thought it was a succulent at the time and put it in my cacti pot, fully expecting it not to live out the month. It turned out to not only live, but thrive and outlived every single one of the cactus plants in the pot.  Now it has put off so many other plants, I could have an entire forest if I were only to give it a little encouragement to reproduce.  In fact, the main thing I have to do with this plant is keep its babies from growing in my other pots... and the yard, and the cracks on the sidewalk, and the grout lines in my kitchen tile.

After over three years, the main plant has finally bloomed for me.


If you don't have much of a green thumb and tend to kill plants but want to grow something, I highly recommend the Mother of Thousands.

Of course, if you practice too much benign neglect, you could end up like Stephen King in Creepshow, so make sure you're willing to practice a little selective reduction.



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How Did the Deer Cross the Road? Safely.

Posted on 3/22/2015 08:23:00 PM
One of my very favorite things upon moving to this area was the wildlife.  Everyone here complains incessantly about two things: the squirrels (The KingofHearts calls them "bushy-tailed rats") and the deer (who eat everyone's flowers and vegetables from their gardens).  I, who grew up mostly in the desert and never saw a squirrel or a deer the entire time I lived there, love the fact that squirrels and deer now regularly run around in my yard and I never really get tired of seeing them.  Kinda like my reaction to snow.  I recognize that it can be a pain, but I still get excited every time I see a snowflake.

Squirrels may be busy-tailed rats, but I've spent a lot of time in Baltimore and I kinda like the rats there too.  



When I was a kid, a guy in my grandfather's neighborhood had tamed a bunch of the wild squirrels.  They'd eat out of his hand and sit on his shoulder.  I always was so impressed by that, but was never there long enough to get any of the squirrels used to me and at home, the closest thing to a squirrel sitting on my shoulder was when one of our cats would catch a lizard and leave its disembodied tail on my pillow.  One year, I fed the squirrels corn cobs, just so they could come up to my window and I could get a better look at them.  A few months later, corn stalks started growing in my lawn.  I didn't realize it, but the squirrels has been burying the corn all winter long and then the corn sprouted and grew when spring came.  If I could only train the squirrels a little better, I could have a heck of a garden with very little work.  I would name it the Veruca Salt Memorial Corn Garden.

After the first snow in this new house, I went outside and saw footsteps that went in a straight line from the street outside, through the middle of our front lawn and right up to the window of the master bedroom, then wandered off into the yard and around the house.  I was a little freaked out because it appeared that someone was looking into our bedroom window while we slept.  But then I went outside and got a closer look at those footsteps.  The snow was a few inches high and if you looked down into an impression, you could see that it was actually a deer print and the deer had just been dragging its feet a bit through the snow, so from father away they looked like human prints.  I am much less concerned about a deer watching me sleep than some stalker/voyeur/possible serial killer.  Whew.

I would love to have a great garden, but we have a lot of shade on our property so I think that's unlikely.  Given that, I am all for the natural landscaping and allowing the deer to come and hang out at my place whenever they want to have a deer party/buffet.  We've had this discussion at work and my coworker told me the other day that she saw a bunch of deer in her yard so she went out on her porch and yelled, "Go! Get out of here! Go over to Underland!  They love you there."

They probably heard her, because this was the view out my back window the next day.



Also, they seem to have taught their young to look both ways before crossing the street.





That's city deer for you.

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The Back Forty

Posted on 3/09/2015 07:43:00 PM
Wanna know why we bought this house?  This. This right here, is why we bought this house.



It was warm today and most of this has melted off by now, which is a good thing because I can't seem to solve the mystery of why, when I start a fire in the upstairs fireplace, the smoke backs up into the downstairs fireplace even though they have separate chimneys -- but not every time, mind you, only about a quarter of the occasions when I use it.  How does smoke go down?  I do not understand you, Magic Smoke. Hopefully this will be the last of the snow pictures for awhile.

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Sunday Morning Snow

Posted on 3/08/2015 09:16:00 AM
A few shots from this week's snow storm in our new neighborhood. This place is one of the reasons we moved. 










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Sledding, Vol. III

Posted on 3/07/2015 08:58:00 AM
Sometimes you need a little push.

Or a pull.

Or a drag, as the case may be.





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Sledding, Vol. II

Posted on 3/07/2015 08:54:00 AM









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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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