Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ice Ice Baby

I love ice.

It's one of my favorite substances in the world. Right up there with water, mist and steam. It has been my great and glorious pleasure to live in a house, this past year-and-a-half, with an automatic ice maker.
Free ice. On demand. Imagine that.

I still hoard the stuff, though. When the ice bucket's full I dump it right into a bag, so that bucket can fill up again, with more of the fresh delicious stuff.

My obsession with ice stems from all our years on the road. Ice was treasure. Ice was gold. Ice kept our groceries fresh, our happy hour drinks refreshing, and our milk for morning coffee unsullied.

That's what I love about ice. It's got so many uses. It's such a giving, friendly, undemanding friend.

I also love the sound of ice, getting poured into a cooler.
This summer, just as predicted, I spent a lot of time at various and sundry beaches, always with a trusty Oscar in hand, full of beer and wine and snacks -- you've got to prepare for at least two sessions (lunch and happy hour) at the beach, you know.

The bucket of love (which arrived within a bigger bucket of love) has been a spectacular new addition to the proceedings.
We've had some awesome coolers full of that awesome one-two punch -- ice-and-beers -- over the years:.

A few days after our epic Poconos vacation my sister Julie texted me, "I miss your cooler of love." The cooler in the Poconos was indeed full of love: cans of Yuengling and cans of Becks? And cans of seltzer, underneath? In one cooler of love? Be still, my beating heart. .
We spent most of the winter of 2003 in Mexico's Baja Peninsula, and always had a cooler of love going there:
Tecate in Baja California Norte . . .

. . . and, after crossing Guerrero Negro into Baja California Sur, Pacifico. And ne'er the twain shall meet.
Baja is arid and desert-like, but has the best and cheapest water -- and ice -- in the world, because every tiny little town has a desalination machine. Mistah once made the mile-walk home from town to Campo Gecko with a couple of bags of ice. Dripping onto his sandals. Which made me weep.
And speaking of arid and desert-like, Nogales Arizona has the same climate as Baja. It does not, however, have the same beauty. It did, however, for days and days -- for nine days -- provide us with free ice. The best kind.
But my favorite use of ice?
One that makes me and, clearly, the angels, sing?.

Now we're talking.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

haircut (updated with a better final photo)

Our Padres used to have a player who, for obvious reasons, we only ever referred to as "Haircut"

He was great while he was a Pad, and the nickname was catchy. At the ballpark, the people around us would invariably join us in chanting "hair CUT! hair-CUT! hair-CUT!"

After he left San Diego, he had a rough go of it. I know what you're thinking - why would anyone leave San Diego? But he did, and he suffered. And then he became "poor haircut."

Perhaps we were so enamored with calling him "Haircut" because we so seldom had the chance to speak of the phenomenon here in our household.

We've got hair, people.

We've got hairy people.

Take this guy, for instance:

This photo was taken less than a month ago, on his first day of fifth grade. It's good hair, right? It's long, but kind of cool and suits him. And the color? Do you have any idea how much I pay for that color?

My boy is a 10 year old in Southern California. He goes to an arts based charter school. Long, unruly hair is the rule, not the exception.

Sure, some people don't like long hair on boys. Some people, like his dad, are bothered by the cut and the way my boy insists that the hair has to cover his ears. Some people are relentless in their disdain for the long, unruly style. But my boy has always known that although he has neither the wealth nor the power that might allow him to control many aspects of his young life, he does get to control his own head. We've always allowed him to make the call about his hair, we figure that in the great scheme of pre-adolescence, we should choose our battles, and hair just doesn't measure up to whatever arbitrary battle lines are bound to be drawn.

A couple of weekends ago, we went to a fundraising event that was held at a salon. The kids were to get haircuts, and I was true to my word when I left it to them to speak with the stylists about how their hair would be cut. My girl came away with an adorable, bouncy bob. My boy was done in about 12 seconds, and I begrudgingly handed over the cash for his non-haircut.

Shortly thereafter, we spent an afternoon selling cold water to thirsty football fans. Maybe one too many of them walked away with a friendly "thanks, girls!"

So I wasn't entirely surprised when my boy asked me to take him in for a real haircut this weekend. But when his sister and I returned to retrieve him after running errands, we were shocked to find this guy

where my boy used to be.

He's really into it. We celebrated by going swimming, and he was so psyched to jump out of the water and not have to unveil himself from under a shroud of wet hair that rivaled Cousin It's. He can't keep his eyes off of himself, and I have to keep reminding him that when someone compliments him by saying: "nice haircut!", the proper reply is not: "I know!"

Am I the only one who misses his mop?

Monday, September 28, 2009


Why is it that babies have so many hats?

The reason, I suppose, is so that their little heads will be kept snug and warm, and help to regulate their body temperature. But my baby lives in San Diego and happened to be born in August. Other than her 4-day stay in the hospital, she has not really donned a hat. Until last night that is, because, well, because my baby has 25 hats! Yes, 25, and it seems only right that she at least try them on. At least once.

Granted, some of these hats she will wear again -- some to ensure she doesn’t get burned from the sun, and some later on this winter, when the temperature does drop.

But who knows when that will be.

In the mean time, let’s use the hats to give baby added attitude, to let her better express her many looks and multifaceted personality…

For when she's feeling Euro, her oh-so-French, one-of-a-kind (Thank you, Dot!) aubergine number

This one highlights her more girly, Laura Ashley side

And this her tough, urban, more hip-hop-py side (Thanks, Tiff!)

While this one screams, "I want to guest star on PBS's show Arther!"

Hats are terrific for showing holiday spirit

This is, perhaps, my favorite, her winning Snoop Dogg look

Jacques Cousteau?
And lastly, her crazy 1920s flapper look

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Weekend 3-Way: The happiest of hours

Where have all the truly good happy hours gone?

I just returned from one of the better ones that I currently know about, but it seems to me, and I believe it's more than nostalgia that leads me to this belief, that they just don't put on a happy hour like they used to.

In college, happy hour buffets fed me many a night. And the food wasn't just nachos. That seems almost impossible to do now. Or maybe it's just that I'm no longer a college student and really haven't looked into it long or hard enough.

Regardless, what I want to know is what's the best happy hour deal you know about?

Happily, the best happy hour I know of is at a hotel on the bay, so you're able to sit at a table outside and look at said bay while enjoying your discounted food and drink, instead of being holed up in some cheesy, grimy holiday inn hotel bar (although if the happy hour was good enough, I might just go there too).

This happy hour offers pints of beer, both microbrews and your more standard domestic pilsners (think bud light) for $2.50. In addition, all the $8 appetizers and half off, so dinner and a beer is $6.50, at a hotel, outside on the patio, looking at the water.

It's certainly not the Sweetwater in Ocean City, MD in the 1980s, which had a big wheel (think Price is Right) that they'd spin every half hour for added discounts. And by discounts, I mean 10 and 50 cent drinks. But it's not the 1980s, and I'm a long way from Ocean City, and some shot made of rot gut vodka is not what I'm looking for anymore anyway...

Hmmm. We do still enjoy the odd happy hour; and we certainly do create our own at home and at the homes of friends, but it's true... I do not spend nearly as much time as I did in my youth seeking out and exploiting enjoying free food and cheap booze from 4-7 most weeknights. I suppose this is because I'm partying with an 8 and 10 year old these days, and weeknights are now school nights. Half the time, we're barely home from our various and sundry extracurricular exploits by 7. Also, I have money now, so I don't really need to chase the free chimichanga phenomenon. So although we do eat out pretty frequently, it's usually more restaurant and less bar. And this is a good thing.

But you asked about the best happy hour deal, so let me think: we partake of Taco Tuesdays in many of the myriad mexican restaurants that grace our midst. We also take advantage of all-day happy hour days that occur at some of our favorite haunts throughout the week, allowing us the chance to feast on appetizers rather than entrees. What comes to mind with your question, though, is the fantastic happy hours we enjoyed when we were in Hawaii last winter, staying at a resort that was no longer calling itself Embassy Suites, but was still providing its motherlode: the evening cocktail hour. We owned that hour. The four of us had such a rhythm, bellying up to the bar in pairs or solo, taking away the odd shirley temple, mai tai, or tropical delight. And the best part? A veritable VAT of bright orange snack mix. Now THAT, my friends, is One Happy Hour. I so need to find an Embassy Suites for this winter's excursion!

Ah, happy hour. One of my favorite hours. All that happiness and everything.

My daily happy hour occurs on my deck. Yesterday afternoon, instead of my usual chardonnay-on-ice, I had vodka and ruby red grapefruit, my drink of summer 2009, in honor of a sparklingly beautiful summer-like afternoon (which, later on, descended into my first night of socks-and-shoes, which is a tragic, woeful tale for another day). My parents are strict adherents to the 5:00 p.m. cocktail hour start. Me? I am much more flexible...

I do love the happy hour at a bar, too although it does tend to make me go out too fast. Shocking, I know. New London doesn't have ocean-front tiki bars or bay-front hotel bars, but it does have lots of river-front bars with decks, which are great during this most fleeting of seasons.

My favorite New London happy hour place? Stash's. On Friday nights, on the way back downtown to see free (ha!) music, one can stop and drink a few (full-priced, sadly) beers, while eating free dinner: pizza -- the good, gooey, cheesy kind; and grinders -- the good, fresh, only-in-New-London kind. You are then set for the rest of the night.

But my favorite recent happy hour place? The Skyview Lounge, at the Poc-o-mont. Every afternoon one could feast on free fried shrimp, cheese and crackers and other yummy snacks, and drink dollar Yuengling drafts. So even though we were still full from breakfast, and dinner was in a mere hour, we partook. Hey, it was free!

We may have closed the Skyview Lounge one or two nights, too.

Friday, September 25, 2009

V as in Volleyball

V as in Victor my ass......

I've always been annoyed by the M as in Mary, the N as in Nancy (except not you, Nancy), the V as in Victor mentality.

I mean, really.

The late great Peter Shernoff always said -- when necessary, speaking on the phone -- "V as in Volleyball" instead of the much more pedestrian V as in, well, you know....

So much better, right?

In that spirit, and in the spirit of drinking thirst-quenching beverages on a late-summer evening on the deck with my friend Owen, a new alphabet was born. (Bill was out buying books. What can I say? Some people have mixed-up priorities.)

And in the spirit of a good, healthy, non-linear, laissez-faire, I-rule-the-world attitude, the alphabet was NOT created in alphabetical order.

Let's take it from the top, shall we?

V as in Volleyball. Ah, Peter.
M as in Mothballs.
T as in Texas, or T as in Tennessee.
B as in Baseball. Natch.
And A! as in Action!
N as in Nintendo.
C as in Crime Scene (Owen's favorite).
D as in either Da Vinci or Donuts, depending on whom you talk to.
E as in Elephant.
G as in Graveyard (Mine, and a good one).
F as in Frankfurter.
H as in Honduras (yes that's an "a"; I was writing in the dark).
I, formerly known as Icicle, as in taking the Initiative.
J as in Jelly. I'm not a fan.
K as in Kentucky. I am a fan.
L as in Lollipop. Lollipop is a word typed with only one's right hand, I just discovered. That reason alone is enough to make it my personal favorite.
O. Obviously
P as in Pancake. Dibble style.
Q as in Question. If there is one.
R as in Rapscallion. Although I think that's been changed to Reprobates.
And S? Schmohog. Which I learned days later is actually Shmohawk. It's all about Larry David, apparently. But I'm sticking with Schmo-hog. It has a better ring.
U? Ukulele. And yes. That *is* what that says.
W as in Watermelon. Wimbledon's for chumps.
X as in Xylophone. I love the Fisher Price model.
Y as in Yodel-aye-eee-hee.
And Z? My little feathered friends? The omega? The zed? The letter with which one should end with a bang? That is for Zenith.

Zoo and Zebra seemed too pedestrian. But Zenith? Eh. Not really sold on that either. Kinda weak.

Wait! I've got it!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

much more than a hunch

8:30 pm, half an hour until bedtime. It had been a long, hot day and we were all pretty cashed out and ready to veg in front of the tv. I join the kids on the couch and try to commandeer the remote, but they doth protest too much. I refused to watch their nickelodeon nonsense, the laugh tracks make me want to rip my ears off. It bothers me even more than the sneaker squeaking in basketball, and that bothers me a lot.

But I digress. We endeavored to find a middle ground, something we could watch together. There is a very short list of shows we have found that occasionally fit this bill, but a successful consensus always depends on everyone’s mood and general disposition.

There’s Untamed and Uncut on Animal Planet, Challenge on the Food Network, the ubiquitous America’s Funniest Videos, and everyone’s favorite: Survivor. But none of these gems were available at that particular moment, so I started to browse the less frequented channels for something else.

And then I saw it, and I knew that if I approached it correctly I might just have found a new family tradition.

"Hey, know how you guys are always asking about what Daddy and I used to watch on tv when we were your age?"


"Do you want to watch one of those shows?"

Not the outhouse one!

"No, darlings, not the wholesome and wildly exuberant Ingalls family in their Little House on the Prairie. I’ve got one that mommy and daddy both used to watch! Wanna see? "


"Wanna hear the theme song?"


I obliged, with gusto:

Here’s a story, of a lovely lady, who was bringing up three very lovely girls. All of them had hair of gold, like their mother, the youngest one in curls….

And I paused significantly, sending urgent brain messages to my husband in the kitchen. Suddenly, he lifted his head, our eyes locked, and he piped in:

It’s the story, of a man named Brady, who was busy with three boys of his own. They were four men living all together, yet they were all alone… ..

And, to the amusement and shame of our children, my husband and I finished out the duet in harmony:
Till the one day when the lady met this fella, and they knew that it was much more than a hunch. That this group must somehow form a family. That’s the way they all became the Brady Bunch! The Brady Bunch! The Brady Bunch! That’s the waaaay theey becaaame the Braaaaa-Deeee Bunch! Da na de-na DA, Da na de-na dun dun dun DUN!

I've got a feeling that this is gonna be good….

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Middle mojo

My middle child, a very recent middle child, formerly, obviously, the youngest child, started kindergarten a few weeks ago. And although I knew she was prepared for it both socially and, likely, academically, I still thought the first few weeks would be rough on her.

She attends a Spanish immersion K-8 school, so not only is she facing the normal kindergarten angst (more structure, more academics, more lines, less recreational time, etc.) she also has a teacher who speaks to the class only in Spanish for the entire 7 hours, and she shares her campus with kids who will be going to HIGH school the next year. There are about 650 kids at her school, so it's not a small intimate scene. Instead it's a very diverse public school that is sorely underfunded.

I didn't think my girl would get teary on the first day of school, and she did not. But I did think that she'd be bleary eyed and cranky when I picked her up after her first day, and likely after every day for the first few months.

But she has proven me wrong. She IS tired, there is no doubt about it, but she has adjusted to kindergarten as if she's done it before, and her grouchy is for the most part contained until bedtime is nearing. Part of the credit needs to go to Jacquie and her crew at the child development center she runs. They offer a very cool, very effective "kindergarten connection" class for 6 weeks, which my middle child participated in. That prepared her in myriad ways, but the credit still needs to go to my girl.

She came home the first day talking about her two new best friends, she may have only known the name of one of the two girls, but they were both her best friends nonetheless. She helped the teacher with paper towels and by accompanying other children to the bathroom. She acted as if she'd done it all before.

The second day when I picked her up I asked about her new girlfriends, and she said she only played with one of the two girls. When I asked why, she said, "Well Ava was sad today, she kept crying and wanting her MOM!" as if that was something unheard of on day two of kindergarten.

When I go to the kinder gate to pick her up after school, even if I'm late and most of the kids are already gone, she does not even know when I arrive because she is so engrossed in conversation with whatever little girl is sitting next to her. She is not anxious to leave.

When her step dad asked her if she missed her beloved preschool, she answered with a quick, confident one-word, "No."

But the activity that lets me know for sure that she is feeling confident and comfortable in her new surroundings is her trading ability. Yes, my middle child managed, by day two, to trade her grapes for a six pack of peanut butter crackers. She traded two chocolate covered pretzels for an entire bag of sun chips another day, and she pulled a bag of fruit loops out of her backpack that I'm still unsure of what she traded for. She's trading so much that I heard about it from another one of the kinder moms. "Devon was talking about Merrell last night. She was telling me how much Merrell liked Devon's jello." Yes, my cheeks reddened, but you gotta love that pluck.

Although it's against the rules, and I just yesterday asked her to stop her successful trading operation, I secretly hope she'll continue to get what she wants at lunch, and in life.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I don't know when it happened. It seems like just yesterday it was summer and my birthday and the beach was warm and sunny and stayed warm, long after the sun went down. And now? All of a sudden? You need a sweatshirt for those late afternoons.
I will say this, though. The beach has been positively sparkling the last few weeks.
We were there on Sunday afternoon, and the water was, well, sparkling. Bill went swimming, but I didn't because I forgot my sweatshirt, naturally, and needed my dry towel to keep me warm.
While we were there we noticed -- when we deigned to look up from our books -- there was a regatta happening.

We took a shine to Sailboat 597.

Go 597!


Do something!

Sigh. We didn't care, really. We were just glad ol' 597 and Ledgie got to visit.
And we just kept staring at the sparkling water . . .
There is a lot going on in this photo above . . .

See? On the left? Plum Island.

In the middle? A boat.

On the right? Peeps on the rocks.

Mistah sometimes takes photos of the sparkles themselves. That's when things really start to get fun.
But in the meantime . . .
. . . we just kept staring out at the water.

Monday, September 21, 2009

monday minutae

If this post seems like a disjointed stream of unrelated, irrelevant, irreverent weirdness; it's only because this post is a disjointed stream of unrelated, irrelevant, irreverent weirdness.


If this doesn't make you want to puke...

the thought of my tiny baby chickens being hoisted skyward in that contraption will.

My boy asked if we had the round-up way back when I was a girl. I said yes, I believe it IS the same one I rode... I wonder if it's had a tune up since the STAS carnival in 1975.

We want to raise money for The Little Charter School That Could without hawking the dreaded gift wrap or boxes of candy, so families are being asked to hold their own mini-fundraisers this year. Our family kicked it off by taking advantage of our convenient neighborhood location to exploit the suffering of dejected sports fans after the home opener. Dejected and thirsty sports fans, who'd just conquered the hill on a day that was pushing 100 degrees:

and the thirsty people came,

and the thirsty people bought us out in no time flat

They'll be presenting this loot to the school tomorrow. A cool $172.50!

The Halloween disturbia has begun, and my boy is supersizing the dementia this year. He made himself a "Joe".

(this photo cracks me up, look at my girl's hand on Joe's knee!)
And then my boy made himself Joe a girlfriend, curiously named Fred. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

I went to a big-girl slumber party this weekend, at the Hard Rock Hotel! Here is a really good example of the completely stupid photos that fill my camera:

I was trying to capture the devil that lives in the elevator.

The celebration was in honor of this hot mama, on the auspicious occasion of her 40th birthday!

Happy, Happy Birthday to The Beautiful Tanja, Tall and Brown!