I Want to Plant Things

I keep trying to convince myself that I could garden on the back porch.

The back porch faces north, into a very large hill. There are tall houses to the east and west, which don’t entirely block off the morning and afternoon light, but I would be working in extremely partial sun.

I could garden on the front porch. The front porch faces south. It gets light all the time. It’s also a mile from the nearest water source, and not where I go to hang out with my morning cup of tea. There are no tomatoes that thrive in deep shade, so I may have to get over it.

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Questionable Media Choices for Children: Disney’s Descendants

In the antecedent scenario for Disney’s Descendants, Belle’s Beast unites the magical kingdoms and locks up all the villains on an island surrounded by a magic barrier.  Deprived of magic, modern technology, and means of escape, the inhabitants of the island spend their time staging movie homages at the farmers’ market, and arranging hip hop flash mobs.  The children of the biggest villains in Disney history are joyously engaged with the island community, until some jerk on the mainland decides to rescue them from only homes they’ve ever known, and yank them out of parkour classes to send them to boarding school.  It’s like somebody made a teen musical about Native American history.  And threw in Maleficent.

There’s a Clockwork Orange shoutout.  Kristin Chenoweth eats scenery.  Just once, I would like one of these things to end with the romantic leads breaking up and going to different colleges.

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Winter Fell

I do not have frozen pipes.  I have an extra kid overnight because other people have frozen pipes.  The grocery store near me is closed because of frozen pipes, and the grocery store slightly farther away is open despite a number of leaks that suggest that their pipes were frozen, back before they burst.

I have maybe two points here.

The first is that you should probably grocery shop, oh, now.  If you need anything.

The second is that this is Massachusetts, people.  How were we not prepared for this?

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I covered five of the nine windows in my apartment with insulating plastic a few months back, and the result is that I have to get out of bed (which, alright, would have happened anyway), and stagger out of my bedroom into my daughter’s bedroom in order to look out the window and find out whether it’s snowing.

I don’t think that putting plastic on the windows has had much effect, besides the bit where I can’t adjust the vertical blinds to see what the weather is.  I’ve had a few months to consider, and the draft doesn’t seem to be impeded by the walls.  My apartment is generally quite nice – it has a ton of upgrades that realtors can point to.  It doesn’t have insulation.

This is starting to make homeownership look attractive.  If this was my place that I owned, instead of one I rented, I would be able to call in a contractor and get fiberglass blown into the walls so that we wouldn’t freeze.  If I spent a ton of money on my own real estate, I could then spend a further ton of money making it work better.

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Planning for a Siege

The kids are coming for the week starting on Friday, so I started meal planning.  I have a grocery list, and cooking queued up for the weekend.  It goes like this:

Tonight, I make pasta I know they will eat, and stick it in the fridge.

Tomorrow, I have the last adult social life I get until a week from Friday.

Friday, the kids come home, and I feed them.

Saturday, we make pizza.

Sunday, with acceptable leftovers from three dinners in the refrigerator, I throw an experiment into the crockpot to cook while Dorian’s at a swim meet.

About a week from now, I pitch all the not-quite-foodsafe leftovers that have piled up in the refrigerator.

The ability to estimate food consumption is one of many things I seem to have lost in the split:  the ability to buy a toothbrush I like,the 12-inch skillet, the good rolling pin.  I used to know how much to cook, and the answer was always the same:  tons.  I was cooking for a marathon runner, two other adults, and a pair of growing children.  I made double batches of everything, and the leftovers were always gone in three days.  Cutting two adults from the rotation turns out to have made far more difference than I’d expect.  I make single batches, and no one eats.

Except, occasionally, one of the children will eat their weight in food and wake up taller. I like to pretend I’m planning for that.  It’s all totally on purpose.


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Word Problems In Parenting

1.  An imaginary train leaves Chicago, heading south at a speed of 80 miles an hour.  Simultaneously, another imaginary train leaves New Orleans, heading north at a speed of 90 miles per hour.  You are a human-cheetah hybrid conducting the northbound imaginary train.  What should you wear when the trains collide?  Show your work.

2.  You are in receipt of two letters from the school transportation department which state the bus arrangements by which your children can be transported to and from school.  Neither letter acknowledges that your children attend after-school care programs and should not be put on buses home at the end of the school day.  Would it be better to call the transportation department, or that one school secretary who knows things?  How long will you spend on hold?  Why or why not?

3.  You are attempting to play a trading card game using instructions found on the internet.  You have 50 cards in your deck and will never win, and your opponent has 40 cards in his deck and will never lose.  What bribe can you offer to put the cards away and play checkers instead?  Use tally marks to show your answer.

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Weekend Activities Inspired by the Title IX Catalog

Push a VW bus off the beach, ecstatically.  (Back Cover)

Hemingway-esque marlin fishing in anti-Hemingway-esque mood. (p.9)

Toss on a bathing suit for a barefoot run through the woods. (p. 14)

Cling awkwardly to a mountainside while admiring the articulated knee seams of your climbing pants. (p. 31)

Knock things off the shelves at the hardware store with the handle of your new pitchfork. (p. 35)

Chop the skirts off old bridesmaids dresses so you can use them as running tops. (p. 55)

Walk barefoot over old wooden bridges while carrying someone else’s skateboard. (p. 69)

Participate half-heartedly in an eco-conscious wet t-shirt contest. (p. 72)

Head on over to the park for the grapefruit juicing social.  Get there early, so that you can serve your friends juice off recycled paper plates as soon as they arrive. (p. 79 & 80)


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My grocery list has become a sugar castle in the sky, an airy and impossible dream, embellished and ornamented out of all proportion to my real ambition, which is to slog through the snow to the convenience store for milk.  (Grocery delivery in these circumstances is a laughable impossibility.  If I had put in an order on Friday, I might be able to get it next week.)

My actual choice of stores for tomorrow is limited to the ones I can walk to tomorrow (which is a much shorter list than the list of stores I could walk to under normal circumstances), and the things I can get there are limited to really important things that I am capable of carrying home (modifiers concerning ‘tomorrow’ should also be applied here).  It took me nearly three hours to get home from work today.  The governor (hereinafter contemplated as Late to the Party Charlie) declared a state of emergency, and the MBTA shut down until Wednesday, after I spent an hour in a tunnel on a disabled train, waiting for a push from another train, which itself became disabled en route.  (I am sure my commute had very little to do with the declaration, but maybe the state of emergency could have been put into play while it was still snowing.)  When we finally reached a station, we were told the subway was going out of service.  Some people asked about shuttle buses, but I was not the only person to give up, and just start walking.  The trip home was an aching shuffle, mostly down the middle of usually busy streets, with my leg muscles protesting the shifting surface underfoot.  Where streets had been plowed, they were only an inch or so deep.  Where sidewalks had been shoveled, I would have had to do serious climbing to get to them.

If I could get to the grocery store, I could get cherry pie filling, the kind that comes in cans, and I could get pre-made pie crusts in boxes, and then we could have cherry pie.  If I could get to the store, I would buy a lemon.  Some irrelevant part of my brain wants to know what I would do with the lemon, but really, who cares?  It’s a store.  It’s a whole world that is not in my house, a magical place where commerce occurs.  They would have things there, like lemons, and I could take one home, and do whatever I wanted with it, and this sounds like a good idea, an improvement on our lemonless and snowbound existence.

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As we head into BPS snow days 7 and 8 for the 2014-2015 school year, I’m offering this update on how we’re doing.

We have enough wine.  Throughout this series of storms, the liquor store has never closed.  We are also well-enough stocked with ice melt, and our internet connectivity has remained strong.

I am concerned about the number of episodes of Sherlock that are available to stream on Netflix.  There’s a risk we’re going to run out of those.  There was a rumor that My Little Pony:  Friendship Is Magic was going to cease to be available on Netflix, but somehow we can still get it – thank heavens for small mercies.  I’m also worried about our supplies of breakfast cereal, milk, eggs, onions, garlic, pasta, canned tomatoes, and recipes that don’t require canned tomatoes.

We are flat out of able-bodied adults.  Andy blew a knee cross country skiing.  Daniel threw out his back lifting weights.  I am sort of creaky on a good day.  We have recruited neighbor kids to shovel snow.

There isn’t a scrap of sales resistance left in the house.  I will pay for anything to be shipped here, just because it might slightly change the scenery.  I do not need more yarn, but the Plucky Knitter is updating their Etsy shop tonight, and I don’t promise not to be all over it.

If we are lucky, BPS will address their snow day issues by holding classes on Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill Day.  If not, the kids will just keep going to school, and one day they will be sent to different classrooms.

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Modern Decadence

My childhood was rougher than my children’s.  I will not bore you with the stories about how my sisters and I did, in actual fact, walk to school (well, the school bus stop) uphill both ways.  Forget the cold winters, the falling snow, the assumption that if we fell through the ice into the creek in the woods out back, we would just have wet socks until we got around to staggering home.

The real difference from my daughter’s life to mine is this:  They sell tutus at Target as regular clothes.

Tutus are hung by the dozens on racks in Girls’ Clothing, in various colors, most of them pink, as though they were everyday wear.  Which is how my daughter wears them.  She is dressed for the day when she has reviewed her wardrobe, and chosen a shirt, leggings, and a tutu.  This effort strews the unchosen items across her bedroom, and frequently exhausts her so much that only the tutu makes it on to her body.  Her holiday presents included a set of pajamas, with matching tutu – they have sleep tutus now!  HOW LONG UNTIL THEY PRINT BATMAN LOGOS ON THEM?

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