Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Life As A Gypsy

OK. Which house is it again? Oh, the 27 pound comforter is on me, that must mean its Trish & Jeff's today. Yes! The good coffee, Grampy style. There are not many nights I sleep in my own house anymore. In some kind of strange way it is liberating for someone like me, who is so structured, to go and be free from the ties of a house. In another way though it is really hard for my soul to always be off somewhere with no home. I like to nest. I like to paint the house and have pictures and other small accessories out but it is really nice when those can be mine and not the property of the staff. From the Hotel Mom to the Hotel Auntie there is nowhere I don't stay at least once a month these days. It is nice in a way to think, 'who has to wash the sheets when you never sleep in them?'

It can be exhausting to travel around so much that when I do get back to my own home it is so nice just to crash out. Since this weekend is another away, we're at hotel Auntie until probably Sunday. The package at this hotel is groovy and flexible on your number of overnights depending on the crowd involved that weekend; it comes with dancing to Oldies 103.3, painting ceilings, Chinese food, moving furniture, ducks, coffee anytime of day, and chillin in pj's. Each "hotel" I stay at has so many fun amenities it is better to spread around the love and stay in a lot of them. In a manner of speaking you understand.

They have built their own eco-system here in the backyard with the number of ducks that have come to get fat & happy in the creek out back. Getting fat is courtesy of the hundreds of pounds of corn they're being fed by the proprietors Auntie & Uncle every day. Little ducks everywhere are screaming "Tell your friends!" "They'll feed you too if you don't poop on their heads as you fly over the house man." I have some pictures of the duck feeding from this morning but unfortunately they lie in my camera so you'll just have to imagine what it looks like for Auntie to be out by the snowy creek with a white bowl full of corn, tossing handfulls out to the100 some odd ducks at her feet, anxiously awaiting their breakfast. It was kind of magical in a way. Auntie must be the Duck Whisperer. Not to mention the bunny, dog, bird, well, really all animal Whisperer.

Good news too, there is no more smoking allowed in this Hotel anymore, the ceilings are now painted and beautiful. Been fun hanging with G&L this weekend too, don't really get a chance to connect with them a lot and L & I are probably going to try to blend our skills to give each other a hand with business stuff. She loves to paint, I love to faux so it is a no brainer to hook up and work together so neither of us have to do what we do not enjoy in the process. Cool!

Well it is back to the weekend of fun and food again. See. I keep trying to tell everyone we're all bears hibernating in the winter but no one listens.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Mele Kalikimaka

This morning I am caffeinating myself as I come down from the three day high of blue cheese, turkey, shrimp and way too many little sugary treats. Luckily we brought enough leftovers home to last the next two weeks. All our partying happened over this past weekend so that Christmas day could be about doing things we wanted to do instead of trudging all over to see everyone in one day. It worked out really well; we got to see all our various family in a couple of convenient locations and even had one night away from home.

Saturday night at Dad’s & my “Evil Step Mom’s” (as she refers to herself, in jest I hope) was a blast. We met fantastic friends of theirs who were such a riot it amazed us when all of a sudden we were leaving at 11:30 PM to make the hour drive back home. Conversation just flowed all night and I even met an Interior Designer who said she would love to see my portfolio after the New Year. Turns out I probably grew up with her kids and didn’t even realize it as they summered just two houses away from where I lived until I was six and the street I also summered on every year of my life. The world is truly getting smaller by the day! My Dad blew me away when out of the blue, from across the living room, he asked “why didn’t you ever become a model?”. Thankfully he is biased since he is my Dad but my cheeks blazed with hot pink anyway as I said thanks but stop looking at me. That is pretty much the reason it did not ever happen, I prefer to remain behind the scenes, not in a public eye thanks.

Sunday was off to see the younger crowd and as usual the entire day was just not enough time to spend with them. Our five year old nephews are amazingly brilliant it blew me away just to watch them talk about space and science then to navigate the internet like pros. Sentences are slowly forming from our sixteen month old nephew as well and he is just Mister Independent running around, doing his own thing but yelling “cheese” as soon as he sees the camera. This is the spot where way too many little buttery cookies were consumed. Oh how I love those Russian Tea cakes. Thank goodness the recipe came home with me because I will certainly be making them this week. We built forts and train sets and danced around as usual. Not that I am biased or anything but those kids get smarter & cuter by the second. The timer dinged & it was off to my Mom’s where for one second I thought maybe my wish for an eighty five degree Christmas would come true since the temperature spiked almost twenty degrees in those fifteen short miles.

That night we ate pizza and drank wine while watching Christmas movies. It is always nice to just chill with my Mom; we were all snuggled up under flannel pj’s and us old folks went to bed long before she did. Waking up at my Mom’s house on Christmas Eve morning was great, we celebrated with the standard tradition of drinking coffee filled with M&M’s and eating way too much sugary food before everyone arrived for dinner. Once everyone showed up it was a flurry of hot cheese dip, pomegranate martinis, blue cheese and laughter. We yakked so long that getting to the next shindig seemed impossible but off we went to Auntie’s and Uncle’s house.

By this point Matt had decided to stop eating but when I saw clam chowder and shrimp cocktail I knew it was pointless to try to stop so down the gullet it all went. Yum. I had to pull my Auntie aside to give her the CD I made as a tribute to my Grampa who passed away earlier this year and we both almost cried but she hugged me so tight and just said she couldn’t wait to listen to it on Christmas. Crying in one form or another is never outlawed in their house but there is no way to avoid crying with laughter, the spirit here is just so fun and anything goes; really nothing is off color or off topic. All of the usual suspects were there and a few people that I had never met but had a blast getting to know all night as I planted myself at the kitchen island that I didn’t move from until we were once again leaving a party after midnight.

On the way home last night, since it was so late, I noticed how quiet all the stores were and wondered just how many people had filled them earlier that day doing their last minute dash for the register. The glowing lights coming from the inside burned bright as if to say “don’t forget us tomorrow”. This year I am proud to say that I never stepped foot inside any shop. Sorry to the economy but all gifts this year were in the form of handmade or charitable donations as it really seemed to be more in the true spirit of the season. We went to bed full of everything from food to laughter to great times spent with family and friends and look forward to another terrific year of the same in 2008.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Snow and Salt, Warm and Toasty

For my blog today
Haiku will tell a story
Leave comments below


Snow blows once again
There is no more sand to sea
Drift and fly around

Crank the thermostat
Mother f’ing frigid cold
Where are my wool socks?

Brave to step outside
Have to walk to Post Office
Pull hat and scarf tight

Wind off the water
Inhale the thick salty air
Exhale looks like fog

Flakes land on my tongue
The neighborhood starts quiet
Kids come out to play

Building snow people
Use rocks for silly faces
Finish it with smiles

Packages are mailed
One last icy shot of cold
Take a deep breath. Go!

Leave boots by the door
Slushy snow melts on the rug
Make a cup of tea

Eighty five degrees
In my imagination
Southwest sings my name


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Raisins and A Great Big Pineapple Bouffant

I woke up this morning remembering one of my dreams from last night. This happens to me most days; generally they are about family or friends. Sometimes I even wake up smiling because of my dreams, despite the fact that it is morning, and carry the fun vibe with me throughout the entire day. I can not help but think however that last night I apparently smoked some crack or ate banana peels before bed without realizing it because upon waking I even said to myself ‘what the f?’

Before I divulge the details of my crazy dream it would help if you knew a little background information to truly get the full effect of the insanity.

I am a fairly small gal, 5’-2”, with chin length reddish-brown hair. My hair is bone straight but has a lot of volume about 1” down from my scalp so I lovingly refer to it as my ‘brown football helmet’. This I stole from Steel Magnolias because it just seemed so fitting for my coif. Mine is not quite this big but hey, it was the 80’s.

Those of you who know me know that I am a stalker of Jason Mraz music. I can not seem to get enough of the fat-cat’s-scat and meaningful lyrics that just flow so well into his groovy tunes. He blends pop and jazz seamlessly with freaky psychedelic sounds and hand drumming. It may sound strange but give it a listen and you will see what I mean. His long time hand drummer is a guy named Toca. Here’s a shot of Toca (thanks Jennifer Fong).

Final related material: I do not live with my mom, I am organized & free of clutter to the point of OCD, Maple is my favorite wood and I do not like little girlie hair clips.

So the dream went something like this…

My Mom comes into my bedroom to tell me that Toca is here. Well of course he is, why wouldn’t he be at my house? I tell her I need a minute to get ready so tell him to wait. She leaves and I look around what I can only presume is my bedroom. The lighting is very dim, if there is even a light on at all, and there is crap everywhere that makes all the dark wood furniture seem that much darker. Piles of papers line every wall, hundreds of chotchkies fill every square inch of space on top of my dresser and other furniture pieces and I see all kinds of banners & ribbons hanging from the ceiling. The walls are stark white, but look grey in the light, and the shades on two enormous windows to my right are drawn tight.

Now before hanging out with Toca a girl obviously needs to freshen up to look her best so I cross the room to the other dresser with a large mirror. I glance at myself and for reasons unknown nod with approval at what is looking back at me. There is my face, my tiny bod and a two foot tall bouffant of twisted nappy hair bobbing around on top of my head. To add insult to this do I have apparently decided that there need to be hundreds of little hair clips in varying fluorescent colors strewn about it. There are little birds, smiling faces and tiny animals in every shade of hot pink, electric blue and lavender that a girl could ask for. For those who may not know what a bouffant is, think Marge Simpson (without the blue of course, there was enough of that color in the clips).

Finally, before any hang time I must check my podcasts so once again I cross the room and somehow manage to locate my iPod in all those hummels. I click through the buttons to get to what I am looking for and watch the show with great delight. There dancing around is a California Raisin with the face of Jason Mraz. Oh yes his little shuffling feet cause me to giggle with glee and he is even wearing a signature Mraz fedora.

It looked a little something like this:

I watch for what seems like hours and then suddenly I am sitting on a sofa next to Toca. We chat away about who knows what but he never laughs at my hair. That is a true gentleman right there.

I awake to realize that my brain is apparently stranger than fiction.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Random Thoughts on All Things Winter

The first thing I need to throw out there is my complete distaste for Santa’s reindeer. Well all but Rudolph of course. A friend of mine sent out one of those “getting to know your friends” emails. I get sucked in every time so I answered it and sent it off. One of the questions asked “Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?” so I said yes but I would not repeat their demon names because they are evil. A friend called me out on it and I wondered how she could not know my true feelings on this subject after all these years. Here is the email I sent back to her (edited for grammar). Take it for what it is.

“ok the thing w/ the reindeer...poor freaking Rudolph is just a little bit different & all those "chosen" beeatches just taunt him & never include him in anything...but oh how they need Rudolph’s little glowing nose when none of their sorry asses can lead that sleigh in the fog right? I mean come on, if they couldn't see the awesomeness of Rudolph before how can he ever trust them to be his real friends after that blizzard right? Rudy was just looking for some friends but I think he should have told those losers to pound sand & then took off for Manhattan or Harvard Square or somewhere where he would fit in just for being himself & not have to prove to anyone that he was kick ass”

The next important thing to note about winter in New England is even though the weather dudes can predict a storm that is no indication as to what type of insanity it will bring to a commute. I wrote a while ago about trying to imagine I was dreaming about the dusting of snow we got here at the beach. Picture me cackling hysterically when this happened yesterday.

Yeah. It actually took Matt about eight hours to get home yesterday. Four of those were to make it less than one mile from his office. He left work at 1:00. Of course so did everyone else. Visions of the Blizzard of ’78 came rushing back to all of us as hundreds, maybe thousands, of cars were abandoned in the middle of the highway because people ran out of gas. Either that or they decided to walk home because it would be faster.

On the positive side of all this crazy winter stuff is how helpful people can be and that neighbors will actually pitch in to give a hand to each other. I spoke with my Mom this morning and a neighbor on her street, who she has never spoken to before, came over last night to help her shovel her very large driveway. My neighbor called me yesterday to suggest I turn my car around before the snow so I would be able to get out of here if need be. On the news there were hundreds of shots of people helping to push each other’s cars. Even as of now I have heard of no incidents of road rage, major accidents or otherwise bad tidings anywhere. Being helpful and patient is really what the spirit of this holiday season is all about.

The final random and positive factor of winter living is when one lives at the beach people are really cool and I will even admit the scene is really pretty. To take all these photos I decided to walk towards the center of town (a term I use very loosely) by way of the beach and stop into the post office on the way back via the street. The beach walk was fun and funny as my boots sunk into the foot of virtually untouched snow to get down to the rocks. There was only one other person down there and as you can see by the tiny black dot near the water’s edge, they were nowhere near me.

Here is a more artsy shot I couldn’t pass up snapping even though it meant trudging through a huge drift that must have had me sink about 20” into the sandy snow.

Every single person I came in contact with was smiling, said hello or even chatted. There was a guy shoveling right by this public beach entrance who was really nice.

My final contact was at the post office where everyone, including the Post Master General, was laughing, singing or generally just in a great mood. I met a boy and his grandma who were about to go and build a snowman. A kind older gentleman held open the door for me & made a point to say that ladies are always first. The Post Master told the woman in front of me, who was having trouble with her credit cards, that he would wait for her to get back with cash even though he was already past the standard lobby hours. Of course he did say “Don’t go and have lunch first.”

As I walked back there was actually a smile on my face for the first time all winter. I didn’t even mind when I narrowly avoided being slushed by the passing cars or that the bottom of my jeans were soaked and freezing my little legs. It was just nice to know that there is still a community in the northeast where people can avoid being rude at this time of year and even smile despite the knowledge that another foot of snow is coming our way in a couple days. Come to our beach town Rudolph, there are wonderful, accepting people here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Up, Up & Away

Upon leaving the house this morning to buy milk I saw this at the end of the street.

There has been a lot of activity at this house recently, mostly large piles of sand being moved out toward the seawall. When the large beams arrived about two weeks ago it became clear this is what they were going to do but to actually see it in action made me say holy crap out loud to myself in the car.

Since it is actually 45 degrees today and not raining or snowing for the first time in a couple weeks my curiosity got the better of me and I had to walk up to see what was going on, after putting the milk away of course. I chatted for a minute or two with the crew who are obviously used to the type of gaping mouth reaction that was on my face. The foreman said ‘there is an entire family living in there still.’ And I answered back by asking where the ropes are that allow them to repel out the side. He said they are one ‘extreme family’. Of course I chuckled but shook my head anyway as I noticed there were actually a couple guys under the house working.

Not on my best day would you catch me underneath a house supported by nothing more than iron beams and wood planks, that somewhat resemble games of Jenga, balancing on sand.

It occurred to me as I walked the beach that I should have asked what they were planning to do here. Were they crazy enough to pour a foundation only twenty five some odd feet from the water’s edge? Are they going up on stilts to avoid water in the house from all the nor-easters? Or was it just that they felt dwarfed by all the other three story megalomansions that have seemed to spawn in this quiet little beach community over the past few years? No matter what their reasoning it sure will be fun to watch them lower this baby back down onto whatever ends up underneath it. Let’s just hope the crew is long gone by then.

Monday, December 10, 2007

It Is What It Is

Coming from a decent sized family means that there will be some running to do at the holidays just to be sure everyone is accounted for in the rounds. There is Christmas Eve, Christmas day and New Year’s all smushed into a solid week of partying. Countless brownies will be consumed, not to mention ham and booze, and although I generally try to be a healthy eater there is something about putting on winter hibernation weight that makes me think maybe I already was a bear in my former life. This year I will have to be especially careful not to tarnish my girlish figure since there will be no nicotine to balance out the calories. I refuse to weigh myself until March and will only begin to feel nervous if the size fours start to get snug.

This past weekend began the fun and festive holiday party season. With the exception of the actual holiday, it also ended the fun and festive holiday party season as well. I love getting all parties out of the way in one weekend, it makes recovery time that much easier and also means that when I get back on the stair stepper this week it won’t be pointless. The weekend whirlwind began over a late lunch Saturday with a friend that I haven’t seen face to face in well over 2 years. She is one of my closest but unfortunately we both lead such different lives these days that carving out the time to see each other was just impossible before we moved back to the area. Three hours flew by so fast, while we shared fries and laughter, and then it was off to party number one.

This party is one to look forward to every year because it is put on by my oldest and dearest friend and her husband; at this point I really consider her my second sister instead of just a friend. There are always tons of people there, mostly old and current friends from both of their jobs as well as some crazy fun neighbors and other various friends gathered along the way. It is a safe and embracing environment despite the fact that this year they had an ice luge and more alcohol than the packie. For those of you not from Boston, the packie is an affectionate term for the liquor store. We drank, ate, danced, ate, drank, laughed, ate, got warm by the fire pit, drank, ate, ate and then we ate. When we finally crashed on their spare bed at 1:30 AM I wasn’t sure what I passed out from, a full stomach of food or booze, but come the next morning caffeine was definitely in order just to make it to and through the next party.

To say that the final party of our weekend was a bit more low key would be an extreme understatement. All party goers are my mom’s side of the family, mostly sisters and brothers of my grandmother and their kids and their kids as well. We all wander around this party talking to each other, asking what we are up to, where we are living, how many kids we all have, all the while searching the deepest reaches of our brains for the name of the person we’re talking to and how they are related to who. No one usually lets on to the fact that they don’t remember you, if they don’t you just won’t get a hug. I got two hugs all day. Actually now that I really think about it, I think it was just one. The food was good and conversation happened but by next year people will again say how nice it was to meet Matt for the first time.

With only 21 days left in the 2007 calendar year I feel great about having such a fun time with so many fun and different people. Now the road to Christmas is paved with laughter, charitable donations and lots of baking and the year can end on a note of full bellies and contented hearts.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Rejoice, Indoors

After a literal lifetime of spending time here I know that snowfall does not happen very often on our little neck of the coast, but that is exactly what occurred last night. At about eight Matt came into the living room announcing that the flakes were flying. I had to see for myself so I peeked out the front door through the hole in the middle of our only holiday decoration, a wreath. It was almost shocking to see a dusting of snow on our front deck and for a moment I tried to imagine it was a dream.

It would have been easy to miss if he had not caught sight of it early since I woke up at 3AM to the loud pinging of sleet on the skylights. The sound was enough to keep me up for over an hour as it furiously pelted down, blanketing everything around us with its crusty, glistening layer, wiping out all evidence of the fluffy white flakes that came just hours before it.

If it had not been so dark out, I would have recorded the pretty scene of flakes falling through the wreath. It appeared so serene because I was on the side of the door where it was 68 degrees, not the other where it was 28. Can you say holy-mother-f’ing-cold? I sure can, and did, as I made crying noises resembling that of a wounded wookie. This is the part where I give thanks for wool socks, adjustable thermostats and scarves. Winter has officially arrived.