29 July 2014

Camp: It's all fun and games, until someone ends up in the clink.

I am beginning to wonder why we never sent the kid to camp before. The first day, there was the horse with the doily on its head. Over the weekend, we got a picture of her jumping! Of course, she was jumping over rails without a horse, but hey! (Or is that hay?)

Hey kid, where's your horse?

I think, though, the letters home may be even better than the pictures. Letter #1: I'm having the best time at camp. Letter #2: Daddy, remember those Tastykakes you bought me? They were confiscated because of "mice". Letter #3:

If you can't read that, it says:

Dear Mommy and Daddy,
Please send poker chips! Our bunk
all made businesses, and I'm
the casino, and we need some chips.


Horses. Gambling. What's next, rum running?

You'll be happy to know that no poker chips were shipped off to the wilds, given that the letter arrived Monday and we pick her up on Friday. Mama ain't got time to FedEx no poker chips.

28 July 2014

A Rhetorical Pedantic Question

Today, let's complain about sizes. Oh, not the usual bit about how a size 12 dress isn't what it used to be, and size 000 is the new vanity waif size.

No, shoe sizes. Back in the day, like before I had that child of mine, I wore a size 10 shoe. I became resigned to the fact that it was impossible to buy shoes on sale, because they stocked fewer of the big (and tiny) sizes so by the time shoes were on sale, only the mid range, common sizes were left. Gradually, my feet crept up in size (thank you pregnancy and old age), and now they're a comfortable 11. Happily, I'm not the only one, so where it used to be that shoes ran up to size 10 and stopped, it's pretty common to find an 11 these days.

But a couple of weeks ago, I put on my size 11, purchased after childbirth, barely worn, Keen hiking boots, and groaned. Too small, toes hitting the end of the shoe. Not at all good, given that I need them for our upcoming vacation.

I looked carefully at the label, and noticed that they're marked US-W 11 / Euro 42. Huh, I thought, my Danskos are a 43 - I thought Euro 43 was US-W 11. So I started looking online for boots in a Euro 43, and ended up ordering two pairs from Zappos (free return shipping FTW).

The first pair is marked US-W 11 / US-M 10 / Euro 43:

The second pair is marked US-M 10 / Euro 44:

So - the three pairs of boots marked with three different Euro sizes, but two are the "same" women's size, and two are the "same" men's size.

In other words, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to shoe sizes either. WHY IS THAT? WHY CAN'T THINGS BE STANDARDIZED? An inch is an inch, a kilogram is a kilogram. How hard would it be to standardize shoe and clothing sizes?

Oh, and I ended up with the Merrell boots - in a men's size 10. My next pair of hiking boots are going to be from the clown shoe department. My 10 year daughter is already wearing a woman's 7 or 7 1/2 shoe; I told her that she was going to be shopping for shoes in the drag queen department when she's full grown.

I hope I haven't scarred her for life.

25 July 2014


The little girl is off at sleepaway camp for ten days. It's the first time she's been away from us like this, for this long. Ten days of no "get out of bed", "eat your dinner", "brush your teeth", "read a book". Ten days of no snuggles and no Doctor Who marathons, no broad conversations at the breakfast table about religion and the cosmos, no cardboard boxes being cut up in the living room and reassembled into doll school classrooms and dormitories and furniture.

Instead, there's a trickle of random photos sent out by the camp, mostly out of focus.

Why is the horse wearing a doily‽‽‽

I, dutiful mother, have been sending mail, old-style mail with stamps. A postcard of NYC: "Wish you were here"! A photo of the cat sandwiched between the hamster cages. A quote from Maya Angelou: "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."

She, my small person, she calls me Mommy or Mama or Mom. And yet, every single time I sign one of those little notes to her, I wonder what to write. Am I Mom? Should I sign it with "Mom"? Ten and a half years into being her mother, signing a postcard with "Mom" feels otherworldly, not right, not me.

I fudge. The "M" is legible, the rest could be anything. She can call me anything, but my name is still my name.

13 July 2014

Trip Planning

We are working on plans for our summer adventure, making lists and buying new hiking boots.

I, however, have my priorities.

One needs coffee for breakfast, so I am eyeing this cunning thermal stainless-steel French press:

And one needs wine with dinner, so I impulse bought one of these plastic wine glasses with an unscrewable stem:

Of course, we're going to Utah, where caffeine and alcohol are verboten, so I'm not sure how practical either of these will turn out to be.

06 July 2014

Perfect, in a fruits and vegetables kind of way

I think it was the perfect weekend.

The weather was glorious.

There were strawberries and raspberries to be picked.

And some of them got sidetracked into a jar of brandy, for brandied fruits for Christmas, because one likes to think ahead.

The girl splashed around in the stream, horsing around on a Sno-Tube because we don't have any water floaties. She enlisted me: I tied a length of rope on with a bowline because I still know some knots and then she'd float through the rapids so I could haul her back upstream.

On the way home, we detoured past a farm stand that was rumored to have corn, first of the season corn. And they did, and it was good.

And there were fresh shell peas, and local bing cherries.

And because we were so out of the way, we detoured further, past some wonderful ice-cream in Hudson. I had fig. I would have fig every day if I could.

And when we got home, I added fresh bing cherries to the strawberry/raspberry/brandy concoction.

And we ate dinner on the back deck - corn, and peas with a little chiffonade of mint (they sang, really they just sang, those minted peas), and weisswurst procured at the Veteran Pork Store, in yet another detour. And while we were eating, the girl noticed that the patio tomato in the big pot on the deck had produced fruit. The first tomatoes of the season.

Corn, tomatoes, strawberries. Raspberries, cherries, peas. It's a good time of year for eating. And swimming. And basking in the sunlight. And walking barefoot on the grass.

Perfect, even.

02 July 2014

Our Under Lobby

I have been walking by this sign for a week or so, and I find it oddly and head-scratchingly charming.

Pardon our
Appearance the lobby
In under renovation.

It's like some disjointed found poetry, or an ID test where you have to rearrange the words to make a coherent sentence.

Pardon our appearance in the lobby under renovation?  No.

Pardon our appearance under renovation in the lobby? No.


Pardon the appearance in our under renovation lobby.

29 June 2014

"Eggs are very beautiful cells"

My father-in-law enjoys "collecting" names, wherein the name of the person is somehow indicative of their profession.

I found a doozy today, one Dieter Egli. Dr. Egli is a research scientist, at the New York Stem Cell Foundation, and he appeared in today's New York Times article on "three parent IVF", wherein bits are taken out of one egg and transferred to another.

Egli - doing research on eggs. Perfect, no?

And, in a fabulous coincidence, a colleague of Dr. Egli's at the New York Stem Cell Foundation is one Kevin Eggan, PhD.

Egli and Eggan, doing research on eggs. Could it get better? I don't think so.