Monday, June 29, 2009

Farrah Fawcett, the Forgotten Angel

Farrah Fawcett had the unfortunate timing to die the same day as Michael Jackson. Her death, and more importantly, her life have been overshadowed by his.
Sure, I'm was and am a Michael Jackson fan... not rabid, just appreciative of his talent. I feel sorry that he died and left behind three children. I feel sorry that he died so young and on the eve of his return to performing. I feel sorry for for the mental pain he must have felt to transform himself from an attractive man to a freak. But I feel so much more for Farrah Fawcett.

Charlie's Angels premiered in 1976. I had two best girlfriends that I spent most of my time with, and we loved to play Charlie's Angels together. It was a time when television was depicting women that could be strong and take care of themselves... Police Woman, Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman. Okay, so they used their bodies and beauty to fight crime, but it was sure fun to watch. As a tween, it sort of made me feel empowered.
I was surprised to learn that Farrah was only on the show for one season with a few guest spots after that. It seemed to me that she was on longer. Apparently, she wanted to do more with show biz than wiggle and jiggle... and boy, did she ever. Her turns in "The Burning Bed" and "Extremities" were powerful and intense, and she showed the world that she was more than a sex symbol. She was a talented dramatic actress.
I think I admire her most for her struggle with cancer. She made a documentary, "Farrah's Story" which chronicled everything from treatment to side effects. She hoped it would inspire and help people. It's help and inspiration I hope I never have to use, but I will remember that she never gave up. She fought for over two years, and even when she heard the cancer had metastasized to her liver, she still received treatment. It would have been easier to give up and say she was too tired and ready to die, but she didn't.

Her life may not have been as dramatic, interesting and bizarre as Michael Jackson's, but we should honor her memory and her final message... never give up hope.
So long, Farrah. I hope you're an angel again.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Just Dance

This weekend, Pipsqueak had her annual dance recital... four shows in two days, each lasting 2.3 hours, a half hour early arrival time, one hour round trip travel. That means I put 15.2 hours of my weekend into the show and that doesn't include makeup and bun time. Don't get me wrong; it was a fantastic show, beautifully produced, choreographed and costumed, and I'm proud as punch of Pipsqueak. But man, I'm I ever tired today, and when I closed my eyes to go to sleep last night, I swear I saw dancers... sort of like you see square tiles after playing Tetris too long.

Pipsqueak has been dancing since she was three years old... ballet and tap until this year when she swapped tap for jazz. She saw a ballerina on Sesame Street shortly after turning three and told me she wanted to learn to dance ballet. I started looking for local studios and found Dancers' Corner. I found a couple of others, but Dancer's Corner had a nice website with all the information I needed, so I picked them because I'm lazy and didn't want to make phone calls. It turned out to be a fortuitous if under-researched choice, since I've heard at least one other studio has a militant method of teaching; I wanted the experience to be fun. DC manages to teach the young children through play. I don't think the children even realize their learning. They get to wear their pretty little tutus and ballets skirts instead of a "uniform" of black leotards and pink tights.
She cried at her first recital and didn't make it on stage for her final number, and told me on the way home that she NEVER wanted to do that again. I told her she didn't have to, but I spent time talking to her about her experience, and my experience playing in orchestra, and acting in plays. I explained how the audience is rooting for the performer to succeed, the gift of entertainment and the powerful, exciting feeling of making an audience laugh or hearing applause. When recital time came around again, she still didn't want to do it, but I bought tickets for us to go and watch. Her reactions, "I wish I had that pretty costume," and "I could have done that!" There was no question that she would perform in the next recital, and she's loved the stage ever since.
There were approximately230 dancers performing last weekend ranging in age from 2 to 80+. There was a tribute to the two senior girls that would be leaving the studio after dancing there for 10 and 12 years. I was struck with the thought that it could be my daughter in only 11 more years. When the time comes for her to leave home, I'll only have memories of the all the time we spent together and the wish that I had another weekend that I could devote to her.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Eastern Milksnake

When I got home from grocery shopping I pulled up to back door to unload. I made one trip in and when I came out... OMG! There was a snake skin on the cement at the foot of the steps. We find garter snake skins all the time around here.. in the stone walls and wood piles. But this was huge and something told me this wasn't a garter snake. I brought it in and measured it. It was 42"! That's almost as long as my 7 year old daughter is tall.
I looked in our Field Guide to New England and it said garter snakes grow to 22". I couldn't quite match the coloration (dark tan and light tan bands) to anything in the field guide, so I hit the internet looking for Vermont snakes. I found the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas Project with a phone number. Being curious (and a little apprehensive) about what was lurking in my backyard, I called. I was dumbfounded when the phone was answered with a "hello". I was expecting some lab or research facility. Apparently, this is a one-man operation. "Uh, hi. Is this the... uh... the snake people?"

"Yes, you want to speak with my husband, " whom she put on the phone.

I told him about my find and its markings, he identified it as a Milksnake, sometimes called a Spotted Adder, which is a misnomer since it isn't an adder at all. With that size skin, it's definitely a mature adult. They quite common in Vermont. (Funny I've never seen one in my life.) He told me it was probably feeding on mice and rats. (At least I know it won't be feeding on my dog.) There are plenty of mice in the fields around here. He told me it might get in the house if it follows a mouse in. (Um, no thank you.) But he reassured me that it's harmless and we could pick it up and put it back outside. (Again, no thank you.) Finally, he told me that the snake is probably not quite that long as the skin stretches up to 20% as it comes off. (Thank you.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Bittersweet Last Day of School

Tomorrow is the last day of school for Pipsqueak... well, a half day really. I'm happy and excited. We won't have to wake up to the alarm clock anymore, and I won't have to run our mornings with military precision in order to get out the door on time. I can make pancakes or waffles any morning of the week. Even though I try to stick close to her usual bedtime, if we're in the middle of something, getting to bed late a half hour or so won't matter. If I want to work in the garden, I don't have to get all prettified first to take Pipsqueak to school; I can put on my old gardening clothes and shower when my work is done. I really love spending time with Pipsqueak. We have fun together doing arts and crafts, work around the house, shopping or taking a walk. We have plans for lots of things we're going to do together.

However, I know I won't be getting much done unless I can find a way to include her in the projects I want to work on. I'll get "momma"ed so much I'll want to fill my ears with sand, and there will be endless requests for hugs and cuddles. It's an issue with having an only child; mom is the entertainment and the playmate. I was an only child myself, and I learned to be happy by myself and how to keep busy. I'd play games against myself, and do all sorts of projects and pretend play alone.

Even though I want a relaxed summer, I want to keep a bit of a schedule too... a time for gardening and outside play, a time for art, and chore time. I want to keep TV watching to a minimum. I think I'll schedule one hour a day of "no momma time". She'll have to occupy herself and not bother me, so I can keep my sanity.

In my house, "bored" is a dirty word. Pipsqueak has enough toys to sink a large boat. If she says she's bored, I tell her she'd better find something to do soon or I'm grabbing a trash bag to start loading it with toys. That usually motivates her.

I'm looking forward to the next 70-75 days, but I know that come the end of August, I'll be ready for a little less together time. I don't know how home school parents do it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

"Up" and Movie Theaters of Yore

I took Pipsqueak to a matinee of "Up" today, and I was reminded why I don't go to the movies anymore. First, your wallet is assaulted by the ticket price and concessions. You want HOW MUCH for a small popcorn and soda? Surely, you jest.

But the biggest reason is the theater itself. Televisions screens are getting bigger and movie screens are getting smaller. I was thinking as I sat there, "I feel like I'm sitting in some one's living room except I have no leg room and I can't hit the pause button if I have to pee."

When I was growing up, there were no multiplexes. They started going in when I was a teenager, and then it seemed cool because you had CHOICES. Still, it didn't compare to the feeling of a single screen movie house with the screen that was two stories tall and so wide that when there was a close up, it looked like you could drive a small car into the actors nostril. It was thrillingly large. Oh, and the price... my mom would give me $1 on Saturday. I could buy my ticket to the matinee and a small popcorn. If I scrounged around in our living room cushions before I left, I might come up with enough change for "an orange drink" which was served in the lobby in a paper cone. You weren't allowed to take orange drink or any drink in the theater.

That same theater that I went to as a kid in Bellows Falls, Vermont is still running after being renovated at least twice. Someday, I'm going to take Pipsqueak to a movie there, so she can experience the big screen for real.

As for "Up", it was great. It made me laugh out loud, and I loved that talking dog much more than a grown woman should love an animated character. Ed Asner's voice as the old man was spot on, and Disney Pixar really now how to put together a story. I'll be seeing it again... at home... on DVD... with my bag of Orville Redenbacher and the pause button.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Love and Marriage

It's time I gave my readers a little love. I've been away for so long, but I've been too busy to write. I've had so many ideas of things to share with you, but no time or energy to do it. But tonight I have a few minutes of peace and quiet, so I thought I'd write about love.

Last Saturday, Sweetie and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. How can that be? It only seem like a couple of years. Honestly, I'm not sick of him yet. It is hard to live with another person because he's not.... well... me. Everyone has their own way of doing things, their own likes and dislikes. Even two people that are similar like we are, can't agree on everything. But the good far outweighs the bad; we compromise, compliment and complement.

After all these years, when I drive down the hill to the house, I'm happy when his car is here and disappointed when it's not. I just enjoy having him around. He's good company. If something is bothering me, it's him that I want to talk to; if something happened in my day, it's him I want to tell.

A few days ago, I was running errands and lost my car keys. I only have one set (a fact I will remedy soon). I'd been back in the store twice looking and looked all through my purse and car. I called Sweetie, not because I wanted him to fix the problem, but because I would find talking to him comforting and calming. He laughed at me, which was okay too, because it lightened my mood. (I found the keys in my pocket. I forgot I had pockets in those shorts. Duh!)

Someday, I'll try to give Pipsqueak advice on what to look for in a man (which she will no doubt ignore). If she listens to nothing else, I hope she'll find someone she can laugh with... someone who makes her laugh and who she can make laugh.
Thanks, Sweetie for all the laughs and all the memories. Oh, and I'll be renewing your contract for another year.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Celebrating Farming

Last weekend, our town had a Farm Fest to celebrate local farmers and encourage people to support farming in our community. There were lots of animals, farm food vendors and some local music. For Pipsqueak and me, it was all about the animals.
She may have been the black sheep of the family, but she was the friendliest.
I love alpacas and llamas. I can usually make friends by humming to them, but this one couldn't hear me over the band that was playing.
This sleepy calf needed a name beginning with "C". Pipsqueak suggested Cookie and that's the one they chose. She does look a little like an oreo.
These goats were a couple of uncooperative models, and kept turning their backs on me. My persistence paid off.
Hey, I didn't know Phyllis Diller was going to be there!
And on a non-animals related subject, how about a bike blender? The faster you peddle, the faster it mixes. Nothing like burning off a few calories before drinking a milkshake.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Quick Trip to the Beach

Things are still crazy mostly due to end of year school activities. Teachers sure try to pack in a lot of stuff in that last month. I'm looking forward to the more relaxed morning of summer vacation.

I'm so behind that I'm just now getting my Memorial Day weekend photos off my camera. We went to Annisquam, Massachusetts to get some pre-peak fun in the sun and sand. That weekend is always a big push for me to get the garden in, but Sweetie likes to go away. As the happily marrieds that we are, we compromised. I had Saturday to do my work, and we went away Sunday and Monday. I have to admit it's great being there before the vacationers arrive... just us and a few other die hard beach combers.
Pipsqueak met up with a second cousin. They waded out to the dock at low tide and did some critter exploration... land crabs, hermit crabs and shrimp.
Sweetie and Pipsqueak went swimming even though the water was freezing. It's got to be 90-something degrees, humid and not a breeze stirring before I'll swim in the Atlantic.

There's no better way to kick off summer than to sit outside a lobster shack on the water just before sunset mowing down a quart of steamed clams. It may look like I'm just eating salad, but I had a belly full of clams, too.
And jeez, my hair didn't travel well. This is what I look like after three hours in the car, then add sunblock and salt spray, mix thoroughly. Bake in warm sun for three hours. Ugh!

The next day, we met up with more family who were travelling with the five-week-old products of a successful dachshund breeding. Nothing says happy kid like a lap full of puppies.

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