Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Day Of School


First Grade, Kindergarten, Early Pre-K, Day 1.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sneaky Seagulls

I have decided I hate seagulls.

When we were at Hampton Beach, Lillian packed a zip-loc bag of Cheeze-its for us to snack on. Seagulls are sneaky, dirty birds, and the moment they realized we were eating something, they started to crowd around us. I would throw things at them, like small plastic shovels and small plastic people, but they kept coming back.

The boys, however, had moved on, and Lillian had needed to return to the cabin for a short errand. I found the bag of cheeze-its, and eventually placed it in Lillian's bag, hoping the stupid birds would lose interest. As time passed, the boys started playing further and further away from where we had set up. In fact, they were moving closer and closer to where other people - many of them childless - were quietly attempting to read their books despite being hit in the head with a small inflatable ball.

So, being a responsible parent, I walked in their direction, waving my arms and motioning for my children to return to our blanket and for goodness sakes, stop bothering every other person on the beach!

I was gone about thirty seconds. When I returned to the blanket, I noticed the seagulls had swarmed again, and one was walking away with the entire bag of cheeze-its in it's mouth.

This was not a small sandwich bag. It was a quart-size freezer bag.

If the gull had had toes, it would have been tip-toeing. I could tell it was moving slowly, whistling to it's birdy-self in it's birdy brain, hoping I wouldn't notice the fact that it had stolen our goodies.

The trouble was, of course, that it couldn't fly. The cheeze-its were too heavy. So I sent Nick after it. Nick ran, and the gulls scattered, and Lillian showed up just in time to see Nick hand me the zip-loc bag of crackers that nobody would eat.

As if this weren't enough, a few days later, on a different trip down, a seagull pooped on my head.

It is now an all out war.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Beach Adventures

Every year Lillian and her sister get a house on Hampton Beach for a couple of weeks. This works out quite well for us, because Hampton is close enough for us to make a day trip, but it's nice to be able to stay over and hang out at the beach a little longer. It's also nice to be able to have some fun at the beach, take a shower, and then head out for an ice cream with no sand in your... you know... armpits.

Heading out the the beach means different things for different people. When I was kid, it meant bringing a towel and a book. These days, I add sunscreen to that. Apparently many people feel one should also bring a chair, to sit in. And an umbrella - one lady from church was surprised when I told her it never occurred to me to even buy one. Also, many people bring coolers with snacks and drinks. I admit I've buckled to this one, and now pack thermoses and snacks myself.

On the other hand, I often leave the book at home, because I'm too busy keeping an eye on my kids. The beach is just not as relaxing as it used to be when my goal was to get a tan.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ray Of Sunshine

You know what makes a good day for Nick? Getting your yellow belt and losing your second tooth on the very same day.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Wrinkle In Time

This year I'm turning 37. I actually have to think about it, because I have honestly lost track. I don't feel 37. I don't even feel 36. OK, some days I feel like a 48, but those days are rare. Most days I feel like a 24.

Please don't misunderstand. I feel like I did when I was 24, but that doesn't mean I think I look 24. I look my age. The result is a confusing identity split, where I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and wonder who the heck it is. It couldn't be ME. I'm 24. Maybe 25 or 28.

Which is why I was so surprised this evening when I looked in the mirror and saw... A WRINKLE.

Now, I have laugh lines. I have those little lines in the corners of my eyes that get deeper when I smile or squint. But this... this was different. This was a deeper line right in between my eyebrows that didn't go away. Not even when I raised my eyebrows.

For a second I thought it might be a scar. Yes! That's what it was. A scar! From the time when I was a kid and ran into that chair and had to get stitches... wait, that wasn't me. That was my sister.

Once, during college theatre, I was in a play which required everyone to put "old" make-up on, which basically means we had to put on wrinkles. The director told us to raise our eyebrows and then put lines on the folds in our skin. When I followed his directions I ended up with a huge pair of second eyebrows over my existing eyebrows. But this new little line made it look like I spent all of m time frowning.

I ran into my own bathroom and looked in the mirror there. I could still see it, but it was much fainter. I ran back into the boys' bedroom. The wrinkle was there. I considered the possibility that the line between my eyebrows could only be viewed in that particular mirror. It's an odd mirror, after all. I't part of a dresser that belonged to my grandmother. Was this some sort of curse my grand mother put on me? She wouldn't do that, would she?

All of this happened in about two minutes. Then the boys came back into the room and I had to read books and put them to bed.

But this is it. I have a wrinkle. A real one. I am officially old.

Friday, August 26, 2011

School Stuff

We got the letter from the teachers in the mail, and not only is the first day of school written on the schedule (August 31st) but so are the visiting days.

I'm always exited about the first day of school. For two and a half hours every day I will have time to myself. Well, three hours a week, because Andy goes in three days a week. But STILL! Just think about what can be accomplished!

Before school starts I need to go shopping for school supplies. I didn't want to go overboard, so now I have it narrowed down to the pencils and plastic sheet protectors Nick's teacher requested, plastic sandwich containers so I don't have to use the disposable baggies, and new underwear. For the boys.

I feel like I am starting something new, also. I hope the schedule works out so I can do some volunteer work at the school. I hope I can get a good piano schedule for Nick and Nate. I hope the kids do well in school.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Artless

I hate my kitchen cabinets.

They are completely functional, but they are quirky. The drawers aren't in exactly right, so over time, as I pull the drawers open to get silverware, a pile of sawdust collects on the serving bowls stored in the cabinets underneath.

They are also white, which menas that fingerprints collect very quickly around the doorknobs.

Anyway, kitchen cabinets are expensive, but more importantly, they are a pain to replace. So I've been putting it off. For a number of years.

Instead, I have taped the kid's artwork onto the cabinets, which gave the kitchen a colorful, if cluttered, look.

When the cabinets were full, I started taping artwork onto the large, empty wall.

I soon ran out of space. And some of the projects had started to fade.

Yesterday, I took all the artwork down. I was thinking that the new school year was starting soon, and I would cover the walls with the most current works of art. The stuff I took down went into the recycle bin, or into a "save" pile. I'll go through the pile later and weed it out more. My plan is to frame a few of the most colorful pictures, and to cover the wall with framed kid's artwork. I saw this once in a couple's home, and it was so fabulous! The effect won't be the same, because our ceilings are about four feet lower, but still...

Anyway, for now, our kitchen looks so different. "It' looks like we're moving!" Nick said. That, and I re-discovered the hole in the plaster in the pantry when I took down a construction paper sun.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oh, Deer



I was standing in the living room early one morning, lifting these dumbbells I have - I like to bring them up to the living room so I can tell if the boys are getting too loud.

I do this facing the TV, which is odd, because the TV is off. But behind the TV is a window. And out the window was a deer.

We get lots of deer here, but usually they are down by the brook. There is a ton of land, and most of the time the animals stick close to the brook, rarely venturing further than the shed. They don't want to get too close to the houses and the street and the cars. Or the dog, really, who was stretched out on the rug, blissfully unaware of the fact that a large beast was yards from the house. (I guess this wasn't as threatening as the next door neighbor coming home from work, or the lady across the street getting a UPS delivery)


I tried to get a good picture, but the window was in the way. I moved to an open window, but managed to make enough noise with the camera that she heard me and ran away. But here are the best of the photos I got. Including one of her baby.





Since I have taken these photos, Steve had the opportunity to have a run-in with the deer himself. Or rather, Frank had the run-in, and Steve watched. See, Frank had escaped and was wandering in the woods you can see in the photos. When Steve called Gunther in, Frank knew it was his chance to get inside for the night and made for the house. But the deer was in the way.

Steve said the deer started huffing and grunting at Frank, and for a moment he thought Frank was about to be stomped. He wasn't, but I know deer, especially mother does, can be dangerous when they feel their babies are in danger. And now I'm afraid my cats or my dog will get stomped by a crazy parental deer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bikes

Ever since the boys learned to ride bikes, I've been promising to take them to the paved railroad trail in our town. I ran it once last year, and it's great to bike on. After all, it isn't hilly, and doesn't curve much.

So the other day I loaded the kids and their bikes into the car, helmets and all. Andy took his trike.

I had forgotten how the path drops off steeply on either side. Not the whole way, but often enough. And I also didn't realize how neither of my kids own the ability to not head for whatever it is that will cause them the most injury.

As soon as they started riding, they went over to the left side of the trail. But since there are other bokers and runners, they needed to stay to the right. "Stay to the right!" I yell, ten yards behind them with Andy on the trike. They look over their shoulders and the bikes wobble over to the very very edge of the trail, where there is a steep thirty foot drop into rocky brambly brush. "Get away from the edge!" I yell "Get into the middle of the trail!" And finally "Stop! Wait for me! Do not move!"

The boys had a good time. They were finally able to ride somewhere other than the driveway. Nick was laughing because he pedaled so hard he was standing up! It was great. Andy pedaled faster than he ever had in his life, and I pushed him so he could keep up - he needs a big bike. As for me, I think I lost ten years off my life from the sheer terror of watching my boys wobble and head right for the edge of the trail. They seemed completely unconcerned about the fact they they might DIE if they fell.

But I guess they won't get better unless they go back. Next spring we will put Operation Bicycle into effect. New bikes for all. Even me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jammy

"Why do you always want to wipe my face?" he asks.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Yard Work

At the end of the school year, when the weather finally warmed a little bit, I was really motivated to do yard work. I clipped and trimmed. I chopped down a huge bush, and used electric saw to do it! I mulched. I must have purchased twenty five bags of mulch, and it didn't get half of what I needed done, done.

At some point, I lost interest. I put down the mulch I got, but I didn't bother to get more, and there are still bald spots. The thorny brush in the back is so bad I can SEE in invade the grass. And the weeds are popping through the existing mulch, and the bushes I clipped now need trimming again, which makes me really angry. I could spend all day, every day, in the yard, and I still wouldn't be able to keep up.

I wish I had more time.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Confidential

This week has been difficult.

But I can't talk about it.

I can't talk about it, because it involves Nick.

It's hard to know where the line is, blogging. I have hurt people's feelings before without meaning to, because of something taken the wrong way, or because they miss the point, or because what I think of as funny they find insulting... Sometimes it's hard to know where to draw the line.

This can be especially true when it comes to your family. Especially kids. For example, last year I was struggling with the decision to place Nicholas in the Transition class. While I went ahead and spoke about my doubts and my fears, I did it because he was six. But when he is ten, and struggling with school, I don't think I will be able to post as freely. At some point it becomes more about him than about me, and I no longer have the right to write about his life in such a public way.

And nothing huge is going on. But as he gets older and we butt heads or he acts out, I feel less and less confident writing about it here. It isn't fair to him for me to report to the world each time he does something I don't like. But it's hard, because I struggle sometimes with what to do.

I can tell you this: Nick did not get his next belt in Karate this month. A few other kids did, and that upset him, especially since he's been doing karate longer than some of the kids. He went ahead and spoke to his Kyoshi, and she said he was on the list to test in September, and told him what he should work on to do well. This has a happy ending. Or at least it will if he works at it, which is the point. I was proud of Nick for taking the initiative to ask his teacher what he needs to do to get what he wants. Knowing that he has the power to seek out information, and that he has the responsibility and ability to learn it, this will be good for his self confidence in the long run, I think.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Giving Back - with Soup

I now have TONS of zucchini recipes. THANK YOU to all who forwarded ideas! From penne to chocolate bread, I may never make the same thing twice.

Except this soup.

Curried Zucchini Soup was a hit at our house. Well, not for everyone. Not for the kids. But Steve loved it! And Nick said he liked it, even though he only ate a few bites. I don't generally listen to the kids when planning my meals, unless they really LOVE something, because they don't try new things half the time, and sometimes you have to serve a thing over and over and over and over before they actually give it a fair shot.

Anyway, we ate this soup hot. The next day I had it chilled. It's easy and fabulous and I recommend it to all.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger root
2- 2 ½ pounds zucchini (about 3), sliced or diced
1-1½ tablespoons curry powder (sweet or hot, depending on your taste)
½ cup brown rice
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or cilantro leaves
1 cup Oikos Organic Greek yogurt


Directions

Place a medium size soup pot over medium low heat and when it is hot, add the oil. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and zucchini and cook until the onion is golden and the zucchini is almost tender, 10- 15 minutes.

Stir well, add the curry and rice and cook 10 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to low and cook, covered, until the rice is tender, about 30 minutes.

Remove the solids and place in a food processor or blender. Process until completely smooth, gradually adding remaining broth, basil or cilantro and yogurt.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to three days. Serve hot or chilled.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Zucchini Squash

I started my own little garden in early spring. I planted four squash plants. Lucky for me, only two of them survived being transplanted. I say lucky for us, because now the plants are producing big fat zucchini. And the people in this house do not like zucchini.

I manage to peel it and grate it and add it to chicken tikka. Or else I make zucchini bread, which is great, but I end up eating half of it. I found a curried zucchini soup online, which I plan to make, but Steve is already horrified. The thing is, each of these things uses a fraction of a large zucchini.

On top of the zucchini produced in our yard, we are getting small zucchini and squash from the CSA. Each week, along with tomatoes and basil and broccoli, we get more of what we already have.

So... ideas welcome, folks. I'm very close to just baking zucchini bread until the zucchini is gone, and freezing the loaves. I hate freezing bread, because toasting it is a bother, but I can't think of any other way...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Day Camp

Last post I complained about summer ending, but today I'm posting about day camp. I guess we had another couple of weeks after all. I just have to squeeze every single ounce of fun out of them that I can!

The boys are going to Gym And Swim day camp every single day this week. I shall have four hours of time to myself every morning. Time to clean the house, to shop for groceries alone, to make more zucchini bread (which we are already tired of eating, but what else can I do with this stuff besides adding it to tikka rice?)

I'm pretty excited, because the boys can practice their swimming and I don't have to go in with them. Also, they come home completely exhausted. They may meet even more of the kids they will be spending time with all year long. I can't wait to see how they like it!

All I have to do is make sure they each have a lunch, a snack, two drinks, a water bottle, sunscreen, bug spray, a towel, a dry bathing suit, and a complete change of dry clothing. One would think they were hiking for a week instead of gym and swimming for a short 4 hours.

Monday, August 15, 2011

End Of The Summer?

You might not know this about me, but I tend to look forward and plan a few weeks in advance. It's a blessing and a curse.

In this case, I was writing things down in my planner, and realized I was a week into the start of school.

That's right, folks. Summer is over.

Remember when you were a kid and it stretched out into endless days where you'd go out and roll in the grass and the hours would go by so slowly you could hardly stand it? And then, when school finally picked up again, it would be odd and scary, because it had been such a long time. It would be like returning to a place you'd visited long ago, but weren't familiar with anymore.

And now summer is more like a rest stop between the towns of Spring and Fall.

OK, that was an awful metaphor, but you know what I mean. It was too short, and I need another two weeks!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Donkey Ride



Nick said he didn't want to. But we talked him into it, and he was glad we did.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Running

The photo has nothing to do with the text in this post. Why? I hear you ask. Why do you do things like that? Well, the answer is, I have some photos that I don't need to post about, and I have a few things I might like to say that I have no photos to go with. Such as this one, about running. I have no photos pf myself running, nor do I ever ever ever need to have such a photo taken.

At home, I run on a treadmill. New Hampshire mornings are cool in the summer, and dark in early fall. The street we live on has no running path or even sidewalk, and cars travel faster than they should along the curvy road. Besides that, I am supposed to be looking after the boys. If Steve is here, that's one thing, but he isn't always, and even if he is, he is technically working... Blah blah blah, I have a ton of reasons.

Anyway, in France, I ran outdoors. I was nervous about this, because when we started visiting the area, no one ran at all. If you went out for a short jog, people would stare at you as if you were fleeing a crime scene. It just wasn't done.

But things change.

There is a bike path along the beach - well, the beach road, which isn't always right next to the beach, but still. And it was almost always busy. People ran, walked, rode bikes, pushed baby strollers, everything. At all times of the day, even at noon, those crazy running-at-noon in the heat folk.

Running outdoors is very, very different from running on a treadmill. Obviously, you say. But what I'm referring to is the social aspect. You pass people and you nod your head at them. You smile at the old man walking his dog, and he smiles at you as you pass him again on the way home. You laugh when the guy running in front of you reaches his target and abruptly turns around for his way back. Once a runner actually tried to High-Five me as we passed each other, but I was tired and taken by surprise, so the effect was more like he reached out and pushed me off balance... I'm not really very graceful...

I loved running outdoors so much, and I miss it. But here it is cold in the mornings, and dark. And soon there will be wet snow on the ground. And so, no outdoors for me. Treadmill. Which is much more boring. No one sees me if I slow down, but there is no fudging my time, either. I'll just have to pretend I'm on the beach when I'm really in the basement.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Time Change

The first week back from Europe is like sleepwalking through life. I would forget what day it was while I was looking at my planner, and twice I found myself at the grocery store and couldn't remember if it was morning or afternoon.

The first night of sleep is so disorienting. Both Steve and I woke in the middle of the night, thinking we were in France. It would have been better if I had remembered where I was before geting up to use the bathroom and tripping over the dog.

But it's been almost 2 weeks, and we're way over it by now. The boys are getting to bed later and later, as am I. And I have once again started to set my alarm or I'll sleep past my workout time in the morning.

The worst part is, the mornings are getting darker and darker. And colder.

Our heat turned on last night. We're going to have to start closing up the windows.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Luna Park




Another trip down Memory Lane: Luna Park.

video

Only Luna Park isn't Luna park anymore. It's Azur Park. And instead of being charged ten Francs per ride, which was the case in the old days, it's now four euros. That's four euros per person for a ride on the bumper cars, or the roller coaster, or a walk through the maze.


Alternately, you could buy a park ticket, which will give you one pass for each of the rides and you'll end up paying a lot less. But not all the rides. The rides you'll get passes for will depend on which ticket you get. There's the Baby Pass, which means one pass on most of the smaller rides. There's a kid's pass, which lets you on a few of the bigger rides, not the baby rides. There is an adult pass, for people who want the bigger roller coasters, the tilt-a-whirls, and the haunted houses. And then there is the Extreme-Crazy-Person pass, for those who like bungee jumping and being shot into outer space in a slingshot, put in a tin can and shaken, and turned upside down until every single last one of your brain cells have died.


My boys loved Luna Park. But we ran into a few problems: First, Nick was old enough for a bigger kid's pass. We purchased the baby pass for him anyway, figuring he'd want to stick with his brothers, etc. But he still wanted to do a few of the bigger things. We'd given him 20 euro for learning how to swim across the pool and back (Steve's idea of motivation - it worked!) and we told him he could spend it there, at the park. And he did. Nate had less cash, but also decided to spend it on extra rides.


Andy cried when his brothers went into a fun house he was too small for. So I took him over to a claw game. I figured it would keep him busy, and I could spend some 20 cent bits. BIG MISTAKE. When Andy didn't win, he cried. Then Nick came over from the fun house and started putting HIS coins into the machine, and when he didn't win, HE cried.



On a lark, I took Nate into a Haunted House. He was scared, but was OK. Andy was upset he wasn't included, despite Steve trying to bribe him with churros.

Then the boys wanted to go into a walk-though haunted pirate house thingy. Steve said he would go with them.

Any sobbed, but I let him do a fishing game and he won a plane.


And after what seemed like forever, Nick and Nate and Steve came out of the Haunted House. And both boys, Nick and Nate, burst into tears. "It was So Scary!" Nate cried! Apparently it was so awful, so dark, and Steve had no choice but to keep pushing the boys through because there were people behind them.


The boys were traumatized. I couldn't help but laugh, which I suppose was kind of mean for me. After that we put them on the trampolines, and then we went home. Next time we might buy one ticket up, but we'll be skipping the haunted house.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Eating Out



I tried to count how many times we ate out. It's vacation, so I suppose it's expected. I definitely liked it, because I didn't have to cook, the food was usually better than what I made, and I didn't have to clean up.

But eating at a restaurant in France is not like eating out in New Hampshire. It takes longer - at least an hour. They don't turn over tables - rarely do they want to rush you out to seat the next party. Instead, you have to flag someone down to give you the check. The boys had a lot of pizza, and a lot of Steak Hachee.






Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Who's That Lady?

Hey! Look! It's me! I realized some time ago, as I sifted through my online photographs, that I don't have very many pictures of myself. The Faces app on my computer has more images of Puck than it does of me. So when Steve offered to take a picture of us in St. Tropez, I said yes.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Beep Beep

One thing that hasn't changed so much in France is the Traffic. If you are driving between the hours of 10am and 4pm, chances are you will be stuck in the parking lot that the two lane road to anywhere-you-want-to-go becomes.

The boys weren't amused.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Evolution Of The Ice Cream Cone


There is this place where you can buy an ice cream cone in the shape of a flower.

We go at least once a visit. Or twice, or three times.



Just hangin... with my cone...


Saturday, August 06, 2011

Castle in the Clouds


When I was a kid, one of the things we did on vacation was visit the ruins of this old castle in Grimaud. The trick was, it was high o the hill. They liked to build them up on hills, you see, because it was safer and harder to get to. Especially with a picnic basket. Once there, we were free to climb through the ruins and sift through the rubble. We found shards of old pottery and would venture out onto precarious ledges. We rarely ran into anyone else.

Sometime between the time I became an adolescent and spent my summers elsewhere, and the time I married and started returning every couple of years, someone decided to restore the castle. One day we returned and they had rebuilt a few walls. Parking areas now had stairs conveniently leading to and from the castle. And you couldn't turn around without bumping into a cluster of German tourists snapping photographs.

I wanted to take the boys last time we were in France, but I waited until the last day, which turned out to be too hot, and after an uncomfortable morning at the port Steve talked me out of lugging three kids under five up a mountain.

This year, I made it an early expedition.

First off, the boys can fall walking on a flat surface, and the were rushing up and down the steep steps, millimeters from steep drops into rocky brush and bracken. It freaked us out.


The boys seemed to like the castle OK, but they weren't terribly enthusiastic. Nate asked if King Louie had lived there, and I immediately made a mental note to plan a boy-trip to Versailles. Is that bad? I mean, I figure I should jump on these interests while they have them.


At the very end, when the boys were sitting under an arch, Nate asked "Can we go see the castle now?"

Apparently castles have moats and roofs.


Friday, August 05, 2011

Swimmy Swim Swim




Every year I tell myself that THIS is the year my kids will learn to swim. I have been telling myself this for the past four years. I was one of those babies who was thrown into the water and would bob about happily. I don't remember not knowing how to swim. So I'm have never been sure how to teach my kids how to swim.

This year, I think it's finally happened. With Nick and Nate, at least.


They looked kind of funny, because they are still terrified of getting their faces wet. Well, Nick is. Nate is just terrified of breathing in water because he refuses to hold his breath. Regardless, both boys made it the length of the pool and back with no floaties.


Andrew, on the other hand, had to be coaxed into the pool. I considered it an accomplishment that he would get into pool at all, even if he refused to try and swim sans floatation device.


Thursday, August 04, 2011

France

Each trip to France is a little bit different. Most things stay the same. The beach is still there. That restaurant by the beach is still there. The castle in the hills is still there. But the quality of each trip differs with the company. In other words, each vacation changes depending on who else is there when we are.

And these changes aren't black and white, or good and bad. It's just that I can see things in a new way when I am with people seeing them for the first time. Some vacations include a lot of sightseeing and driving distances, and other include massages.

This year we arrived to an empty house, and my parents arrived a few days later with some friends of theirs we had never met. Lucky for us this couple was tolerant of children, and the boys took to them. A few days after that Winston and Meg showed up, and the day Meg left Winston's girlfriend arrived. My parents left, then Winston and Giulia left, and we spent the last few days with the house to ourselves once more.

Being in the house alone is so strange. I suppose I am just so used to having it overrun with people, everyone buzzing about with their different schedules. It was calm and quiet, and we didn't have to worry as much about waking people up in the morning.

One more strange things was the weather. While folks in the US were sweltering in over 100 degree heat (East Coast!) France was cooler. It was windy and almost chilly. It rained all day three times. The driveway became muddy. The boys couldn't play outdoors. In all the years that we came there all summer, every summer (for about seven years) it didn't rain as much as it did the three weeks of our vacation. Even that time with the horse and the lighting
when we took shelter in the barn and even the frogs were hopping in to seek shelter.


Also, the wind drove me crazy. For two weeks it blew and blew and blew and it drove me crazy. It made it seem like trips to the beach were impossible, cooling the air and the water and blowing hats off heads and ruffling the pages of whatever book I had in my hand and was trying to read.

But it was still lovely. I find I sank into a rhythm of sleeping, waking, running, and eating. I didn't feel pressured to be on time for anything, except for the occasional trip to the store before lunch hour. And although I am glad to be back home and get back into a routine, especially after the traumatic time we had on our return trip, I already miss the warm sun and the slower pace of life.

Also, I went running on my street yesterday morning and it was so cold I could see my breath! my BREATH! In AUGUST!


Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Betty

While we were in France, my Aunt Betty passed away. She had been ill, and confined to bed for a long while.

Betty was my mother's last surviving sibling. When I was young she lived in Mobile, Alabama, but after heart surgery she moved to Franklin, Tennessee to be with my Aunt Frances and Mary Clare. Betty outlived both of them.

Aunt Betty was a strong personality. I remember her visiting Paris with me (and others, of course) and whispering to me that we should find a way to cut the long line to get into the Louvre.

Betty was stubborn. During one visit Frances drove us to an outdoor picnic her friends were having, and Betty didn't want to be there. "I'll wait in the car," she said. And she sat in the car, in 90 degree heat, rather than get out and say hello to a few people.

But she loved me, and she loved my boys. When we visited, she would sit with them and hold them and watch TV with them. She let them help her make a lemon pie, which, by the way, was made with lemons from her lemon tree, and which always came out too runny.

Betty talked a lot about her days as a nurse. She showed me the quilts she made and the ones she hadn't yet finished. She loved working in her garden, which always seemed to be a tangle of green things but she seemed to know what she wanted done, and woe to anyone who tried to "help" by so much as mowing her lawn. But what did it matter? It was her garden, and she loved spending her time there.

Her bedroom was jam packed with furniture, dressers and and armchair and nightstands. It had too many plants. She used to climb into her bed - one that seemed too short for a regular person - and watch "The Shawshank Redemption" again and again. She also really liked "Baby's Day Out." I am not sure why.

It's really hard for me to realize that she is gone. The force of her personality was so strong, it's hard for me to believe it doesn't exist anymore. It's like I am living in a double world. In one, I can see her bedroom - quilts on the bed, clothes on the chair, plants in the window. In the other, I know the room doesn't exist anymore. I know I sat in a folding chair for hours talking to people during the repainting, remodling, restructuring of the house, while Betty was in a facility last August.

I was going to look up a picture of Betty as a young woman and scan it in, so I could post it here, but I just didn't have the time at present. Maybe some day later this week I will get around it it. These picture will have to do in the meantime.




Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Back From Vacation

This morning we got back from vacation.

The things is, we were supposed to get back from vacation YESTERDAY. I was supposed to have had diner last night in my own home, slept in my own bed, and woken up way too early. I would have gone for a run, and then I would have typed up a couple of really good and meaningful posts about a few things that took place while we were gone.

But no, we flew Delta.

Which means that, although our initial flight from Nice got into JFK without a hitch at a little past 1pm, and we rushed to get through immigration and to get our bags and to get through customs so we could recheck our bags for Boston, our 4PM flight had already been cancelled. Apparently, they are clairvoyant at Delta and just KNEW there would be storms 4 hours in advance.

We were then rescheduled to the 9PM flight, which ment we had 7 hours of waiting to do. With our kids. Who had just gotten off an 8 and a half hour flight, and whose little body clocks were running 6 hours ahead. It was fun.

At 9:25 the 9PM flight borded. We then circled the tarmac until 11:30. The crew of the plane were very curt, snapped at the passengers who asked that they didn't know anything and that the flight deck wasn't communicating, and then at 11:30 the pilot said the FDA only lets crew members fly for 14 hours at a time, and it had already been 14 hours, so the poor crew members had to be let off duty, and the plane had to return to the gate, and we had to get off and reschedule a flight for the next morning. (in a car, we would have been halfway to Boston by that time.)

As one young lady on the flight put it, obviously this wasn't the case. The crew members hadn't been flying at all, they had been circling the tarmac like the rest of us, wasting hours of our lives. BTW - we had been travelling for 24 hours at this point, so although I sympathize with overworked crew members theoretically, I didn't really give a flying fig about these particularly bouffantly coiffed fake blondes.

The Delta lady seemed sympathetic. She handed over some vouchers for food ($6 per person!) and a cab voucher and a hotel voucher. We rescheduled to a Laguardia flight the next AM, and then spent some time trying to figure out what was going to happen to our luggage, but was assured it would follow our new itinerary and a bus would carry the back to the other airport that night. (remember, about a hundred other people were in the exact same situation.)

Once we exited the airport, we could not re-enter. it was then that we discovered that the cab company didn't care about the vouchers, they just wanted the highest fare. We also had no ide where the hotel was and the cabbies acted as if they had never heard of it, and none of them wanted anything to do with the kids. They turned from us to the single folk standing nearby again and again. It's 1:30am. My kids had been fast asleep. They are exhausted. And the cabbies are turning us away.

Additionally, a pair of nice young men told us they had just returned from a hotel Delta sent them to that had been rejecting the Delta vouchers, turning the people away.

After thirty minutes of hopping back and forth across the street, we decided to pay for our own cab to Laguardia right away.

We had to stay at the main terminal. There were no benches. I spread out some blankets on the floor, and a nice homeless man - I can't be sure he was homeless because he was pushing a cart, but he was dressed shabbily and smelled kind of funny, not that we smelled good by then - anyway this maybe-homeless guy motioned us over to this sheltered spot under the escalator. He even showed Steve where he could plug in his phone to charge.

By then the kids thought it was 7am and were wide awake, even as Steve and I fell asleep in the middle of sentences. We visited the bathroom 36 times. There were roaches the size of large mice crawling around the floor we were trying to get the kids to sleep on.

Once we checked in to our morning flight, the rest of the trip was great. Except that they totally lied about our luggage, which I am sure is still sitting somewhere at JFK. It's not ALL Delta I hate. It's specifically JFK Delta people.

Seriously, I am tired and still smarting from the burn, but I think they cancelled flights because they were not full. I think they lied to give the crew on the plane that didn't fly a full shift. I think they lied about the luggage outright and I think they needed better vouchers for cabs but especially hotels. I mean, they didn't need to offer. But the hotel didn't exist.

I'm going to go rest now. I shall post tomorrow about the lovely vacation we took.

Monday, August 01, 2011

August Already

That means summer is almost over.