HIM: What is all this stuff? We are going to be gone for a week. It looks as if you think we are moving!

ME: It’s a condo. The literature says that “renters are responsible for all bathroom, beach, cooking, and miscellaneous items.”

HIM: Is this condo in a resort? Don’t resorts have soap and towels?

ME: They apparently don’t have enough soap and towels for seven people. So we have to bring it. This is just my share. Oh, and the porta-crib and high chair are upstairs. Plus, luggage and golf clubs.

HIM: (looking through a bag) You are bringing candles? Does this place have electricity?

ME: Those are for atmosphere. Everything else is an essential. Like this Aloe Cream, for instance. One of the babies might get a sunburn. And the Tums. You know, heartburn.

HIM: You are covering all burn eventualities.

ME: Absolutely.

HIM: Ok, then what is this? (holds up a pack of AAA batteries)

ME: For the headlamps.


ME: Yes. For night exploring with your grandson.

HIM: Right. And I guess the binoculars are for…?

ME: Birdwatching. He might like birdwatching.

HIM: He’s three years old.

ME: We need to keep him occupied. You know, so he doesn’t get bored.

HIM: And birdwatching is SO not boring for three year old boys.

ME: The fishing poles were too expensive.

HIM: Not that sitting holding a pole for long periods with absolutely nothing happening isn’t boring. I am surprised you didn’t get a chess set.

ME: Oh, I did.  Just a cheap one. His mother said we need to keep him mentally challenged.

HIM: Gotta go.

ME: Where?

HIM: To the attic. I think I might be able to find my Master’s Thesis. It’s on Abstract Risk and Tangible Suffering: ADD/ADHD and Psychostimulant Medications. He might be interested in that.

ME: Sighs and packs one more beach towel and a jar of cinnamon…

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This is my granddaughter, Birdie, all ready for the Fourth of July. No further words are necessary.

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Summer here at home base. What are we up to, besides the usual?

Insomnia: I have discovered a whole new world of soothing videos that put me right to sleep. Honestly, this is one of the best things that I have ever found. However, many of you out there will think I am 1) Very strange, indeed 2) Out of my mind 3) Or oversharing. But here goes, anyway. Remember Bob Ross, the vastly untalented artist whose TV show became a cult classic? Do you know why? It was because he whispered and drew very slowly and soothingly. His fans didn’t want to learn how to paint; they watched him (and still do, thousands of them) because he was so very relaxing. This phenomenon has a scientific name-ASMR. This stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. To those like me who are susceptible, watching soothing people do things can induce relaxation and ease you right into sleep. There is an entire YouTube channel devoted to this. So I watch them before I go to sleep. Here are some favorites

  • Watching a woman make toast and tea for a half hour. Honest.
  • Watching that same woman read a magazine. Very slowly.
  • And there is a video in which a person shows off all of her collection of nail polish.

Don’t laugh. Ok. Laugh, but you might want to try it if you are reading this blog at three a.m.

Birdwatching: I sit by my window in stealth mode, iPhone camera at the ready, pretending to be a wildlife photographer. So far, I have had little luck taking good shots of the adorable finches at my feeder. But a Facebook friend had a great suggestion, which I am going to try. She went online to a fancy bird identification site, and printed out a picture of a beautiful local bird that she had not had any luck photographing. She cut it out carefully. Then she went outside with a roll of Scotch Tape, taped the photo to the branch of her Dogwood tree, and took some breathtaking shots, which she then posted proudly on Facebook. No one was the wiser. Until, I guess, she told me in a Facebook comment. Never mind. I am SO trying this!

Cooking: Yeah, not happening.

Gardening: Ditto above.

Writing a novel: I am embarking on my third! So excited, because this time I actually have a plot line IN ADVANCE! Great strides in literature at my house.

Napping: Always ongoing.

I have to go now. There is a cardinal sitting on my bird feeder. Getting my scissors and some tape…

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DADS by every child, ever


My Dad is very big. He can touch the top of the refrigerator, and he knows that’s where Mom hides the Oreos, so he gives one to me when Mom isn’t in the kitchen. I am only supposed to get one a day. My Dad says this rule is made to be broken.

My Dad taught me how to ride a bike after Mom ran beside me for five minutes and got “totally exhausted in all that heat!” His legs don’t get tired, and he never sweats.

Dad shaves. He says he hates to, but he does it so Mom won’t complain when he kisses her. Total yuck.

Dad tells the same joke about the short guy who walks into a restaurant and asks if they serve shrimp. The hostess says, “Sure. Sit down!” I laugh my head off every time.

Dads aren’t so good at hugging you when you bump your head going down the slide. Moms are better for that. But dads are better at playing in the swimming pool. They throw you up in the air over and over, and they pretend to be “a short guy in a bathtub.” They forget to put your sunscreen on, though.

Dads can’t cook, unless they are chefs. My Dad says he is a chef, but all he can make are pancakes. And he always says goddam it  when the first one sticks to the griddle. My Dad also makes really great frozen pizza. He adds extra cheese.

My Dad likes to mow the lawn, drink beer on hot days, and go fishing. I hate fishing. The worms make me puke. Dad says that I have to learn how to do this without puking, or I won’t be any fun.

Dads usually swear more than moms, but my Mom says shit. Then she apologizes. That’s stupid. I say shit, too, but not when she is listening. Dad says goddam it all the time. And he tells the rabbits that eat all the lettuce in his garden to GO TO HELL.

On Father’s Day, we usually give Dad a tie, but this year, he said to CEASE AND DESIST.. So my sister and I got him a package of Twizzlers. I think he liked that.

If you don’t have a Dad, it is ok. My best friend has two moms. So they just celebrate Mother’s day again on Father’s day. My cousin’s dad died, so he and his mom are very sad on Father’s Day. And some parents have different pronouns. I think it is better to just love your parents, no matter what it is about them.

Maybe we should just celebrate Parent’s Day.

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Slick entrepreneurs have thought of everything. For people who like really good food and have no clue how to make it, somebody invented subscription food boxes. For a reasonable fee, once weekly a box of ingredients is delivered with recipes for meals to make with them.

We subscribed, because I have become completely unable to come up with any dinner ideas beyond macaroni and cheese, and I make horrible macaroni and cheese. Also, if a recipe calls for some exotic ingredient like a “pink lemon,” I have absolutely no will to search for one. Additionally, my spice cabinet does not contain Saigon Cinnamon.

Another feature of the food boxes is that they give you just the exact amount of those herbs and spices that you will need for the week’s meals, so that you won’t have a big jar of Saigon Cinnamon sitting around in your cupboard afterwards, reminding you that you used a teaspoon of it once.

So. My husband and I now cook together. We have learned a whole lot of stuff. We are not Pepin and Child, but we both now know what “chiffonade” means, and I got a microplane, for Pete’s sake.

There are pros and cons. The pros:

  • We made won tons. All by ourselves!
  • Did you know that apples and cabbage are delicious together if you throw in a little sugar, vinegar, and roasted caraway seeds?
  • Who knew you could roast caraway seeds?
  • Mirin is good.
  • You can roast vegetables at very high heat in the oven, and it only takes 15-18 minutes!
  • Same with chicken! Only 20 minutes! Unbelievable!

But, inevitably, there are cons:

  • Sweet potato tacos are pretty disgusting.
  • For some reason, every time a recipe calls for garlic, they send us an entire bulb. I now give garlic bulbs as little gifts.
  • We prefer our pizzas without potatoes on them.
  • Thai Basil is horrible.
  • We had to switch from “three meals a week for two people” to “two meals a week for four people” because we are gluttons, apparently. Those meals for two seemed more like hors d’oeuvres  to us.
  • Preparation takes an hour for two of us. We can’t seem to get the hang of kitchen efficiency down, no matter how many Julia Child reruns we watch.

But this activity has drawn the two of us together. We chat as we chop. We toast ourselves whenever we sit down to a lovely quiche (well, that’s a bit of a stretch) or a well sauteed chicken cutlet. And while we eat, we speculate about how much this dish would cost at a fine restaurant. We let ourselves gloat.

But then, every few weeks, we get the ingredients for Sweet Potato and Hatch Chili Quesadillas with Pomegranate Sauce, and we wonder if we have lost our minds…

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