Friday, February 27, 2015

Five on Friday: I Got Nothing (Pic Heavy)

I am always jotting down ideas for Five on Friday lists. Currently I have several different lists with two, three or four items on them--not going to work. So instead I share some recent snapshots of my life:

1. I like looking at the paw prints on my slippery runs through the park:

2. Homemade birthday gift for our fun and snarky next door neighbor:

3. Recently participated with my two older kids and some friends in "Feed the Need" which is an event at a local church where volunteers get to package thousands of meals for the  "Feed My Starving Children" organization ( We'll definitely be doing it again.

4. I just love this card my 8 year old son made for another neighbor's birthday. 

5. Vagina Monologues rehearsals are underway! (For more pictures or info: or

Friday, February 20, 2015

Five On Friday: Five Stories of Compassion

Thanks to Dawn at Hardlybored I've learned that today is the UN World Day of Social Justice and there's a FB group called 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion sharing stories of compassion with the hashtag ‪#‎1000Speak
So for today's Five on Friday list, I am going to share five essays I've written with compassion as a theme with the subcategories being: 

2. Teaching it to kids:

5. (my favorite) From other people:

Be sure to search #1000Speak for other stories of compassion from around the world today!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Five On Friday: This Old House (Hey, Part #3!) More Found Objects

Last week's post was so fun and then I realized I had so many other things around the house that we've found in the house and woods that I decided to have another This Old House installment for Five on Friday!

1. You say rusty rake head, I say a place to hang my hat.

 2. My husband thinks this is something that may have been used for ice harvesting. (Like

3. Okay so that watering can on the left might be a little beat up, but it's fine for my collection of metal watering cans that I don't actually use.

4. The pink poodle on the right was down by the formerly creepy spring house (see last week). She  became fast friends with my lamp Fifi.

5. This giant metal something or other (heating grate?) was found near the garden by my husband. Now it lives on as a pot rack in my kitchen. Awhile after this was hung the inner circle was also found but that hasn't been repurposed yet.

And now you know why when I'm in a redecorating or landscaping mood I sometimes take a walk in the woods to see if I can find anything great to use.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Five On Friday: This Old House; Old House Charm

The second part in what might only be a two-part series of Five on Friday features about our home. It was originally built in 1787, had an addition in the early 1900s and then another addition just last year. People always want to know if we've ever found or experienced anything interesting living in such an old house. Here are some of the more charming things we've found living here:

1. In the stone spring house on our property (which is beautiful) we found this creepy as hell dirty old doll surrounded by mud, glass and deer bones.

So pretty
What nightmares are made of

 2. Down near the spring house and stream we are constantly finding pieces of broken plates and teacups, old bottles, etc. One time I found a piece that was the perfect seal from the underside of a platter. All of the words were completely intact, including the town name where it was made. That town name also happened to be my husband and kids' last name. (That sort of sealed the idea of putting an addition on instead of moving to a bigger home.)

3. We have built in vampire protection.

4. There are Roman Numerals stamped into the beams.

5. One time when B was young, maybe five or so, she started telling me about the girl she sees on the stairs. "The girl?" "Yes, she has an old-fashioned hairstyle." I was immediately convinced she had been seeing a ghost on the stairs. "Do you want to come see her?," she asked me. "I'm sure I can't, but okay," I replied. And she brought me to this paint chip on the kick plate of one of the stairs. "See? See the old fashioned hair?" (I didn't then and I still don't now. Soon she will be sanded and painted over. Sorry, girl on the stairs.)

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Green Monster

Last Thursday I participated in a local storytelling event that had the theme of FIRSTS.  I asked my friend to use my phone and record me telling a story about my first car. Unfortunately my phone ran out of space before the story was over (I should have remember to remove some kid music before I went!) But the way it cut off abruptly left it a real cliff hanger and everyone I shared it with on my personal page was very anxious to know the ending! So here is the story in its entirety (and the unfinished video clip if you'd like to watch):


FIRST of all (see what I did there? First? Like the theme?) I wanted to tell you about something my husband made up* that we do at home now whenever we’re telling a story and we realize that it’s just not as interesting or funny as we thought it was going to be. When we realize it’s falling flat, we end it there by saying, “And then I found five dollars!” because then it gets to end on an exciting note. I wanted to tell you about that just in case any other storytellers wanted to employ that technique.

So what I’m really going to tell you about tonight is a story about my first car. It wasn’t my favorite car. My absolute favorite car was my second car, a seatbelt-less push-button transmission 1963 white Dodge Dart. I had spray painted silver stars on the doors, which made some people wonder if it was an old Police car, and I had hung little pink pom-poms from the ceiling, which made other people wonder if they had seen it in a Cheech and Chong movie. As far as I know, it was neither of those things. But I'm not telling you about that car tonight.

This is the car

I'm not telling you about.

But tonight I’m going to tell you about my first car. That car was a much newer model, a pea green 1975 Plymouth Valiant with a slant six engine. That part didn’t mean anything to me then (or now) but apparently it meant something to a lot of men of a particular age as they’d all check out my car and nod knowingly and say, “Ah, slant six.”

It was pretty funny that my first car was green because there was story from when I was young that my parents were buying a used car, I think a Chevy Nova. I asked what color it was and when they told me it was green I cried because, “Nobody wants a green car! Who wants a green car?” Apparently 17 year old me wanted a green car because it was for sale and it was really cheap.

It was originally my high school boyfriend’s family car and then it belonged to his sister and then to him. Then his parents purchased him a brand-new Toyota pick up truck and sold the Green Monster to me for $200 of my hard earned babysitting money. 

The first person to give it that name was a local woman that probably supplied most of that $200 for babysitting her daughter. It sort of backfired because when I had to drive her daughter to swim lessons, the poor girl was afraid to get in the car since she had heard it was a monster.

Having a car my senior year of High School was awesome. It meant I didn’t have take the bus or bum a ride off of anybody. And I could leave early or go get something to eat at a restaurant--which you weren't supposed to do unless you had a pink slip from the office. What I did have was a pad of paper that was pink and approximately the same size and shade as the pink slips from the office. So what I would do is I’d scan the parking lot to see where the attendant was and I’d walk on the complete opposite side of the parking lot from him, waving my pink paper. He’d wave back and let me go on my merry way.

By my 18th birthday I no longer had the boyfriend but I still had the Green Monster! I was so excited to finally be able to take advantage of the “free car wash on your birthday” deal offered at Shammy Shine. There had been some spring showers the previous week so my car really wasn’t that dirty. But because there were showers there were also plenty of mud puddles. So my new boyfriend, one of my best friends (and now husband) and his girlfriend and I spent some time writing on my car with mud to make my free car wash really worth it. We wrote things like “18th Birthday” and “Just Muddied.”  I felt bad when we go there and realized laborers had to manually wash it off first, I thought I was just going to get to go through the magic car washing machine.

"Just muddied"
Not my first boyfriend or my second boyfriend but eventually my husband.

One of the last days of senior year there was a party at a friend’s house after school. My friend Tempe and I went to pick up some pizza at the pizzeria across from the A & P in Clinton. After we got the pies, I started to turn left onto Old Route 22 at the same time that the LINK** bus began to turn left from the A&P parking lot on the other side of the road. Now, technically, I think there would have been enough room for us to pass by each other—however; the Green Monster had picked up this cute habit of letting the passenger side door frequently fly open when making a turn. We hit the LINK.

We stopped to check out the damage. The car was fine, the bus was fine, I was fine, Tempe was fine, everyone on the LINK was fine. The driver--was an asshole. “Your car’s a piece of junk anyway,” he said as a way of introduction. Tempe, who had been fine in spite of being in car whose door flew open and hit a bus, then burst into tears and began wailing, “The Green Monster is not a piece of junk!”

Well. I mean…it was a piece of junk. But it was my piece of junk and we were two cute high school girls in our first fender bender. He could have been a little nicer.

Not long after I left to college the Green Monster's transmission crapped out and she headed up to that to that great automobile recycling center in the sky (also known as Cozze’s junkyard on Race Street in Pittstown).

And then I found five dollars.

Just kidding.

The Green Monster might not have been my favorite car but as my first car it will always hold a special place I my heart. It was my first ticket to independence, freedom and adventure. And, with its old-fashioned ways like actual switches and knobs, windows you had to roll down manually, terrible handling and a foot pedal to operate the high beams, it prepared me for my second and absolutely favorite car, Betsy. But I'm not telling you about that car tonight.

I love me some old fashioned car features!

*After I publicly told this story he told me he didn't actually make it up. He thought I knew that. I didn't. Whoops.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Five on Friday: This Old House; Mouse in the House

When people move out to the country and then get annoyed by the bear or deer presence (knocking down garbage, eating shrubbery), I always think, "Well you can't get that mad. The animals lived here first."

I suppose that's the same approach I should use when thinking about the mice in my house. Our house was built in 1787. That means the local mice have become accustomed to sneaking in here for winter warmth for two hundred and twenty eight years. It's encoded in their DNA by now, it's become instinct to know all the tiny secret passages into this structure.

And I'd be fine with them coming in at night and eating all of the crumbs. We could have one of the great symbiotic relationships: I provide warmth and food, they clean my kitchen. But they don't just eat. They shit. They leave tiny disease ridden fecal surprises in places you truly don't want them (is there a place you might actually want them? No I guess not.)

In our house, my husband and I have jobs we each refuse to do. I absolutely won't iron. He doesn't take care of the mice. So in the past twelves years of living here I have had a lot of experiences with mice. Here are some of them:

1. From our first year here. Heating vent, upstairs bathroom. Strange sounds and then this:

Heating vent: 1, Mouse: 0

2. Somehow they figured out a way to get in to our old dishwasher. We'd always set it to run at night and sometimes in the morning I'd wake up to a wet, soggy, dead mouse in the dishwasher. (The "soggy" part was too much for me. I whined about it so much that was one of the only times my husband agreed to doing the disposal.)

3.  They also have figured out how to get into the oven. I can't prove they were the ones that chewed through the wires and broke it but I have a sneaking suspicion I'm right.

4. On more than one occasion, they have gotten caught in the trap but not killed. A paw, a tail. just a bit of them. Guess who has had to deal with thrashing non-dead mice, too?

5. This winter I was getting sick of traps and decided to set some poison around. I thought we were doing all right--I hadn't found any mouse poop in any of the usual spots, so I figured the poison was working. Then a few weeks ago I went into my cabinet to get the food processor. Nothing eventful happened, as one would expect. Then a few minutes later I went to put it away and as I pulled out a plastic bag that was in the cabinet A BIG FAT LETHARGIC MOUSE CAME OUT WITH IT. I'm really not scared of mice but COME ON! Where did it come from? I had just been in there! And why was it just sitting there not running away??? I put on gloves and swept it into the dustpan and threw it outside ("So it can sneak right back in," my husband said.) So now the traps are back and I'm catching a mouse every night. And that, my friends, is what you refer to as "Old House Charm."

Why is he not running away?

Tune in again for an upcoming Five on Friday: This Old House Edition and I'll tell you some non-mouse creepy things that have happened here.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Five on Friday: Mom* Moments

(*Yes they could very well be Dad or Any Other Adult Dealing With Children Moments. But I'm a Mom, they happened to me, and I like the alliteration.)

1. Remembering to bring a plastic bag in the car in case mopey kid vomits.
2. Nearly crying when she did not use it and indeed vomited.
3. Asking which block towers were too important to knock down and then vacuuming around them.
4. Having to uphold my end of the consequence discussed with child about behavior. I hate being the bad guy.
5. Feeling like I get more done before 9 am than some people do all day.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Five on Friday: MLK Day of Community Service (pic heavy)

On Monday I'll be running my 12th Annual MLK Day of Community Service. The first one consisted of kids coloring pictures in my dining room. Now we're outgrowing the gym we've been using for the past nine years. I did not start planning in November like I swear I'm going to do (every damn year) but it's all coming together nicely anyway. For today's Five on Friday, here are some pictures and memories from past Days of Service.

1. I don't have pictures of that first year in my dining room, but this was the second year in a local coffee shop:

 and for comparison purposes, this was last year's event:

2. This is not a great quality picture but this is me directing someone at the 2009 event, baby strapped to me as they were for so many of these days. I hope when my children think back on their Mother as a younger woman, one of the images they conjure is something like this:

3. Did I mention a local Natural Medicine and Rehabilitation Center sends someone to give free five minute massages to adult volunteers? And this year for the second year we'll have free mini-acupuncture sessions too! I can't wait . . . .

4.  Looking through the letters written to soldiers last year, I found very sweet notes like this:

5. And in the pile of Valentines for Veterans, I found this from a boy who mistakenly thought the Valentines were for friends. And that Kristina was spelled like this:

Here's to another successful day filled with community building, serving others, massage and acupuncture, poignancy and hilarity!