Friday, August 29, 2008

By Any Other Name...

We couldn't find Momma Daddy Crab's food - a small white bottle labeled Hermit the Crab food - so my four year old and I ran out the other day to get some. The nice man at the pet supply store helped me find another bottle, and seeing as how he was already helpful, I told him that I was a bit worried about the crab as all it does it stay in its shell. He looked at me for a beat, and then said, "It's a hermit crab. They stay in their shells. It's a hermit." Okay, how the literalness of their name escaped me, I have no idea. Especially considering that there is a long line of recluses in my family, like any good Southern clan. My son and I got in the car, and the issue of pronoun/gender came up about Momma Daddy Crab. I asked my son what he thought it was. He said, "I don't know. It's a crab." Clearly, I am the least clued in on this er, animal. Okay, it's not an animal, sea creature?? That night, as I was putting my son to bed, he said, "I've decided to rename Momma Daddy Crab since we don't know if it's a boy or girl." I said, "Great, what have you picked?" He said, "Woman Man Whatever It Is Momma Daddy Crab." So there it is. Perhaps this is an indication that the next pet should be gender identifiable.
PS I will post a picture of said hermit crab - or a picture of his shell - when I can find the cord that makes the pictures go from my camera to the computer. Or however you describe that.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hermit Crabs, Outer Space, and Peedles

We just got back from Long Beach Island (aka the Jersey shore) and it was heaven. I have decided that it is my substitute for not being able to get to Navarre beach (on the Florida panhandle, literally favorite place on earth)now that I live up in Yankee country. It is so easy to get to and look at the beach:
We had such a great time. We went with another family - they also have a four year old son (same as my oldest) and a 14 month son (6 months younger than my youngest) and the kids had a grand time. One day, the older boys went out with their Daddies and came home with hermit crabs! First, my son named his Dan DeLauné Crab, then quickly changed it to Momma Daddy Crab. I would like to meet another hermit crab that has three names. The other little boy named his Ouchie Crab which I thought was very smart, albeit a bit pre-destiny of him. The next day, we went to visit the shop that the crabs came from. The guy who ran it was the embodiment of every Grateful Dead song ever sung, in the best possible way. Startling eyes, once you could see them, and rather shy - like a hermit crab, actually. But very sweet. My husband told me that when they were driving home with the crabs, our son was holding the little home (okay, yes, cage) in his lap, and said, "Momma is never gonna believe this!" and then he said very seriously, "This is a really special day." Okay, I would have let him have ten hermit crabs to hear him say that. And Momma Daddy Crab has proved to be a good pet. I know, it's only a hermit crab, they don't do much. But still. It's a good toe in the water for us in the realm of pets. When our youngest first saw the crab, he looked at Dan and me, pointed to the crab, then pointed to his opened mouth, and said, "Um, um um!" And we said, a bit horrified, "No, we don't eat the crab!" For the rest of the week, he would walk up to the crab's house (which was up on the mantel so he couldn't get to it), point to the crab, then point to his open mouth, and say, "Nooooooo." We were happy he understood, but the frequency with which he did this was a bit disconcerting. One could only think of Shakespeare- "Me thinks thou doth protest too much." So if the crab goes missing, I'm afraid we might know where to find him - or his remains.
That night in the bath, the two oldest boys were bathing together, and my son got brave and ducked his head under water with his eyes closed. The other little boy asked him, "What can't you see?" to which my son replied, "Outer space."

There was a wonderful pine tree in the back of the house, right near the deck where we had lunch every day. Our friends taught my youngest how to say pine needle, but in his haste of speaking - or just realizing that an improvement could be made - he rechristened them, "peedles." Then spent the rest of the lunches picking up peedles.
The older boys discovered a cache of sewing thread in a cabinet, unused for God knows how many years. (I grew up trying, and failing, to sew. I made a horrendous bright green - what was I thinking - wrap skirt, God save me, a pattern I picked because I wouldn't have to deal with a zipper, though I forgot about button holes, but even Momma wouldn't do button holes, and paid a woman to do hers, so I knew I could get off easy with those, but anyway. Momma kept asking me for months why I wouldn't wear that pretty skirt I made, and, of course, in the South it is hot all year long, so I didn't even have cold weather to blame for not being able to wear it, but anyway.) The boys proceeded to basically thread the house. The threads, it was explained to us, were electrical lines, and their work was quite intricate, not to mention extensive, and we started to feel that we were living with a couple of arachnids. Each boy also brought his own roll of bright blue painters' tape - yes, they get along like a house afire - so what with the thread and the tape, things were pretty battened down. We tried to get it all up before we left, but we could only imagine what the next renters thought when they found remnants of tape on the four poster bed, and thread from the banisters. But as long as there weren't peedles in the beds, I'm sure they were fine.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

All I Wanna Do

Is organize my house. My husband has been waiting for this. For the past few months ever since I started my third novel, he has kept saying, "Feeling like nesting??" whenever he would see me moving something or refolding dish towels. "No," I would say, and a bit defensively if I'm going to be honest, and I may as well be since I'm the one who choose to bring this up. Then he would give me a "You will" kind of look. But not in a mean way. Not in an "I told you so" kind of way. Just in a "I've been through two novels with you, not to mention two babies, and I know what you do." Which is true, and which(ugh! I can't use that word anymore without thinking of my editor at HarperCollins who can't stand it, which is (or "and that is" - now come on, don't you prefer "which is"???) a drag as it is so one of my favorite words, Strunk and White be damned. But this is my blog, and not a MSS I have to turn in, so I will just "which" away to my hearts content. If this annoys you to no end, consider yourself forewarned) reminds me of a weird thing about all this: with a baby, I don't need to nest until just before he (I only have sons) arrives, yet with my novels, I have to nest somewhere in the early stages, but only when the novel suddenly decides that I must.
And it has. Really really has.
But I can't, pretty much. With my first novel, no one had been born yet, so organizational orgies could occur whenever I would block out a full day and night, and possibly even the next day, too. Okay, I have to confess, few things make me happier in life - family excluded - then an entire block of time, with no phone calls, no obligations, no getting acceptably dressed, and a wonderfully full closet or room that I can go through each and every inch and object and put all of them to the test of "go (a good percentage goes to charity), stay, and if so, put where?" This is heaven. And feels just as unobtainable to me right now because of my sons. Not that I am blaming them; I am just being realistic about what can be done. So I have started scheming. I will find a night when they go to bed early - it was 8 tonight, so maybe I can get a 7:30 soon - and my husband is out, and I will pick a room. Or a closet. And just do one at a time. Like I did with the last book. And that will work fine.
Herewith is my list of attack:
1) The playroom - so want/will get a more functional bookcase for all the stuff. Then I cannot wait to organize said piece with bins for every tool (toy and real) ever made, firetrucks, those small pieces that cannot be thrown away, markers and crayons, cd's - you know the stuff. Oh, and finally put all the pieces of things with their rightful sets. It will last for 15 minutes, but it will be glorious. Like Camelot.
2) The closet in the playroom - a catchall if there ever was one. It always looks much Yikes!-ier than it is, so the attendant wave of satisfaction upon completion is quite high without sheer exhaustion.
3) The kitchen. I have some empty drawers in here - another item at the top of my list of things that delight. It is the spacial equivalent of tithing. I must live in a large house (have lots of money), if I don't even use up all the space (have enough to give away). My kitchen, like the whole house, is pretty much all windows. Love the views; really miss a floor-to-ceiling pantry, so regular sorting out of the food items that have willfully congregated towards the dark recesses of the lower cabinet is a must. Not to mention that my sons usually find the cake mix, so we can celebrate moved around dry goods with cupcakes.
4) The hall closets. Okay, if you haven't stopped reading by now, please don't feel any obligation to continue. This is so vicarious for me, it is insane. I have no doubt that there is little to no interest in this for anyone else, but I am so feeling so much better by doing this, however please don't stay on here just for me! Okay, one closet is where all the coats and winter stuff collect, and the other is for vases, serving pieces (yes, I'm Southern; I actually use all that stuff I got for our wedding) and linens. Or most of them. I have others hidden around the house in various trunks that are pretending to be coffee tables and side tables. Love going through linens. They feel so good to fold and hold - except bottom sheets. I don't think I will ever know how to fold those goddamn things.
5) The boy's room. Not as scary as it sounds. Mostly it will be going through books, and giving away ones they have moved on from, and pulling down ones they are ready for. Will give away a sorting toy that my youngest has been ignoring for months.
6) The bathrooms. Another easy one. Throw out expired medicines. Throw out cosmetics that I pretended to be happy when I got samples of, yet know I will never use. For that matter, throw out the last lipsticks that I have not worn in four and a half years since my oldest was born and I found the absolute best lip gloss in the entire world, and I know that it is because a woman asks me where I got it literally three times a week and they always tell me later how much they love it, too. Trucco - sugar, sugar, if you are interested.
7) My closet. Though I'll probably wait until the cold weather comes so I can put away my summer clothes. No, my closet isn't big enough to have everything hanging at once. But since I grew up doing this bi-annually with my mother and all four older sisters in the big living room that had become a sea of huge boxes with tons of clothes climbing out of them that we would go through and try on and decide what we liked or fit that season, this is as much part of my year as the budding trees.
8) My husband's closet. Doesn't take terribly long, and always makes him very happy when I reorganize his shirts so they are hanging according to the color wheel.
9) My office/desk. The file cabinet is never fun. Ugh. But it is also never as horrible as I imagine it will be.
10) I can also do the attic and basement and outside shed, but these are pretty back-burner, and although the attic has a ticking clock with the cold weather coming, these aren't such a big deal. Mostly because they still look pretty okay from the last time I did them.
11) There isn't another item for this list, except for me to say that yes, I realize that I am insane. But it is an orderly kind of insane, and that must count for something.
I hope.
I'll let you know how it goes.
And no, I don't make house calls.

Monday, August 4, 2008

And They're Off

It's Monday night, a bit after 10 and I have only just now gotten both boys asleep. It stays light so much later here in the summer - which I love - much later than it does in LA or Louisiana, being that much farther north. So the long days don't help my boys get to bed, and my husband's family came over for sushi that we ate outside since there was no food in the house (and my husband is literally the most wonderful man in the world because he just left a few minutes ago to go to the grocery store, and I so thought I'd have to do that tomorrow. I am beside myself with joy that I don't have to.) We were in Saratoga this past weekend, and it was heaven! I adore it up there. All these beautiful farms and old barns, and then these darling little towns and villages filled with Victorian houses, and fabulous brick factories near railroad tracks that are now being used for artist collectives or office space, and great little shops, and streets that you just want to ride a bike down, and stop somewhere and climb a tree. We left Friday morning, but the night before, my husband and I went into the city to see Charles Bock and Richard Price reading at SummerStage in Central park. Here is a picture of the stage before they came on, and a picture of them, but blurred, so neither helpful to you at all, but they are all that I have. I am not a photographer!!
Yet insist on putting photos on here!!
Charles read from his new novel at Spoken Interludes this past May, and he was such a showman, so when I got an email from him that he was doing this, it sounded like the perfect summer date, which it was. We had dinner on Columbus, which was fine, but walked through the park, and that was wonderful. Charles was great - read the section he read at SI, a total heartbreak about the mother after the boy leaves, and then one about Cherry and Ponyboy, then Richard Price came on and was the elder statesman of night - kind of cranky, but sweet. Then we walked back through the park, and went for ice cream, and it was one of those perfect summer nights where there was no place more wonderful to be, except possibly walking along the Seine, but even then we'd be dealing with humiliation at the exchange rate, so this was better. All that is to say, that we played hooky from packing when we got home, then of course had to take both boys to the doctor in the morning - colds, nothing bad - so didn't get on the road until noon, but both boys slept and then were fine the rest of the way. it is only a 3 hour drive which they can do pretty well. Naps, snacks, and identifying every truck on the road, plus a couple of books, and we are there.
We stayed with good friends in Ballston Spa who live in the kind of house I have in my dreams - our is mid-century which I love now, but I will always feel more at home with bead board, and medallions, and deep porches. Isn't it heaven?? And my friend's taste is exquisite.
They have a darling 3 year old girl and she and my older son were
thick as thieves in two seconds. The game of the weekend was doctor. The bones in my husband's stomach were broken. My blood plessure (that isn't a typo) was bad, and had to be monitored constantly, and many shots were administered by all three children, yes, even my 18 month old got some in. I left right after we got there to do an event at The Round Lake library,
there it is. How darling is that?? I was checking my myspace page one day, and saw a friend request from this library, so I googled it, and it turned out to be literally 10 minutes from my friend's house, so I emailed them, and told them I was going to be there for an event at Borders that weekend, and would they like me to come by, and they kindly said yes, and there I was. It was so sweet. A lovely Victorian converted to a library. They had set out cookies and lemonade and watermelon. That kills me when people do that. Maybe it is a lifetime of being in a family that throws parties at the drop of a hat, but when someone puts out food, it really goes straight to my heart. It was a small group of us, but so fun. We talked like old friends, then I read for a bit. I read a section from the South Louisiana flashback part because there was a teenager there, and her 12 year old sister, and they had been telling me about being home schooled which I found fascinating - one reason I love doing these things, how else could I have met these people to hear about this?? - and their mother, who was like a more open and warm Kathy Bates, was with them and the LA section that I normally read has a couple of lines that are at a bit blue, but anyway. It was great fun, and they all bought both of my books, and I promised I'd come back. wonderful husband just returned with groceries. this entry is too long!! anyway. that was great fun, then I went back to our friends, and they'd made yummy dinner, and the next day we stayed around there, and it felt like early fall, there was a nice light breeze, and more friends came over with more yummy food, and the kids played. The Ballston Spa Film Festival was that weekend, and my husband was judging in it, so he went off for that stuff, then Sunday, while my husband took the kids to the races with our friends, I did a signing at Borders in Saratoga, and had a great time. Met lots of fun women, and sold all but a few of the books. My husband has pulled out the Sunday crossword puzzle and watermelon, so I think I'm off to do that. more soon.