Tuesday, August 26, 2014


So let's say you need a bed, sofa, dining room kit, etc. for a condominium. And let's say the condo isn't where you live - it's in another state.

You might think, "Hey! That sofa I see online looks nice. I'll buy that."

No, no, no.

First, you have to place the order. You must do this as *if* you are sending the sofa to your home. Not the condo. Because whatever address you tell the ordering software, that's where they're sending the swatch.

What swatch? The one you have to approve before they will make the sofa.

So they send the swatch. You like it. Now you have to call back and change the delivery address. (No trigger for fraud protection on your credit card here, folks. Nothing to see, nothing to see. Move along.)

If all that works out - and who knows how many days it will all require - you can *then* find out when they might be willing to deliver your sofa. Something between tomorrow and eight weeks.

Yes, eight. 8. 

Remember, this is going to a place you don't live. Someone must be there to greet your new, fabric-approved sofa. But when to go? How to know? What to do?

We'll be sitting on the floor. Thanks.*

*And by "thanks," I mean: Thanks, CB2. Your Byzantine ordering methodology runs totally counter to the sleek, modernist aesthetic of your product line.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sweetness and Light

"Mom, you are so disappointing in so many ways." 

Thanks, son. You still can't avoid your haircut.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Late Summer

Iain picked a petunia for me. Also, we checked on two cucumbers growing in the garden, the lettuce/carrot bed, and the herbs. We tied back the sunflowers (drooping from so much rain) so they can continue to develop seeds for next year. Charles sprayed the stairs with bug killer.

And all this after we returned from the Yay It's Back To School party. There, Iain ate pizza, two Italian sodas (with whipped cream) and a cup of gelato. He tried for a second gelato but I took it and handed it off to his friend David.

August. I like it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Boothbay Hah-Bah

One of the fun things about traveling with another family is that the kids express their best impulses with regard to each other. That's my roundabout way of saying: Iain got a present.

It was a compass, with magnifying lenses you could adjust in several ways. Iain loved, loved, loved this toy and not just because the two boys ran around "pewing" each other with their compasses. He also looked through it, as you can see.

I think Charles and I were both surprised by how much Iain liked the water. He was really, really interested in lobsters, lobster boats, the river, the tides, kayaking, and anything else boat or water related.

So Tomoe and I took the boys down the next peninsula (look at the coast of Maine: it's just one ragged peninsula after another) to take a harbor cruise.

We had a bit of time to kill before the boat left and Iain spent it eating a lobster-shaped chocolate lollipop (after declaring fudge "not good") (WHAT? Who is he? Not related to me, I can tell you that.) and poking around a boutique trying to talk me into buying him fanciful sculptures made of old hardware.

Finally, it was time to get onto the boat with 60 senior citizens. Ahem. We were...the youngest people on that boat by about 25 years. Anyway. The boat (what kind of boat? "It has a diesel engine," the young lady said when I bought the tickets. Oh, great. Very helpful.) had a nice upper deck so we spent the 2.5 hours sitting up there, in the breeze (read: stiff wind that tried to snatch my hat three times (!)) looking out onto the harbor, bay, and ocean.

This was the part where Iain started to think, "So....anything else to this? Or do we just drive around looking at stuff?"

Towards the end, Iain and our friends started to consult the coastal map they'd brought, charting our progress returning to Boothbay Harbor. It was kind of neat to see us pass Pemaquid Point, chug up around the end of the mainland and waggle back into Boothbay.

And although the main attraction was being out on the water, smelling the salt air and trying to keep your hat on, we did see a bald eagle, some seals, and lots of ocean birds.

Afterwards, of course, it was ice cream time. Or, in Iain's case, sherbet. Because every single day he has to have his ice cream. And since Maine boasts an ice cream shop about every 50 feet on the coast...why not?

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Sheepscot River, Maine

We rented a house in Maine. The house lies on the very, very tip of Westport Island, in the notch made by a river (the Sheepscot) and Montsweag Bay. Basically, it's across the water from Wiscasset. Or, if you prefer, it's to the left of the peninsula that includes Boothbay Harbor. Confused? It's on the coast, ok? On an island. Pointy pointy at some water.

The water moves. A lot. Because Westport Island is slicing along the river and within spitting distance of the ocean, the tides affect the water level by as much as ten feet. So all that you see above was mud when the tide went out. I'm glad we watched it for a couple of days before heading out on the water. There are rocks in there. You could easily mistake shallow water for deep.

Anyway, this was our dock. You can tell it's high tide because the second walkway is flat. During low tide it was sharply sloped downward. From day 1, though, Iain was insistent that we must make good on our promise to kayak.

"Uh, Mom? Where's the kayak? You promised me kayaking. I don't really know what it is, but I want to try it. Especially since you'll be doing all the work!"

So we rented a kayak. From a Vietnam veteran sniper who wanted to talk to us about when he came home to Boston after his third tour. A very interesting man, he was. He was also confidence-inspiring because he was truly representative of Maine: slap the boat on our rental car, chuck the paddle in our backseat, tell us there aren't any rules "just don't be an idiot." Well great!

Out we went. I remembered kayaking being pretty intuitive, and so it proved. After a little experimentation.

For one thing, kayaking in the Bay of Islands (NZ) was easy because I had only myself to worry about. With Iain in the kayak (and he LOVED it - would have done it all day had I been up for that) I felt a lot more concerned about...being carried out to sea by the river current and dying a painful death at the teeth of a shark. Or something.

For another thing, in NZ we had a guide. Had anything happened, he was there to be authoritative. Here, I had no backup. 
But it was fine, of course. We went out two or three times, paddling down river, passing other docks and moored or anchored boats, noting the lobster buoys and the bird's nests on the bigger buoys.

Charles is very, very easily made seasick. So we wanted to know whether Iain shared that characteristic or whether he's like me: I could live on the water. It's the latter. He leaned forward in the kayak, insisted on going farther, dragged his hands in the water, and generally found the whole experience magical.

I woke in the night with arm cramps, of course. Because kayaking every ten years isn't really how you build upper-body strength. Also, if you're wondering, yes I did go kayaking wearing an Oxford shirt. The gnats are vicious, vicious gangs of marauding biters in Maine. I needed sleeves. And it was an LL Bean Oxford shirt, so it was made to do Maine-y things, anyway.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

The Fun Never Ends

See the original (as long as they leave it up) here

Oh, AP. I wish I could say, "You know I love you." But...

Bless your heart.

You're rolling out a new exam. I get it. That's hard. So complicated, so many changes, so many people to manage and publications to create.

But if you add up the percentages above, are you sure they work? 40+30+25+15 = 100?

Does it? Or would that be better if the Short-Answer section was 20%? The way it is in your AP guide.

Sunday, August 03, 2014


The night we arrived in Boston (on our way to Maine), our hotel had some kind of restaurant crisis. They offered only a sad, sad buffet.

[Please note that I think this "crisis" and the "only for tonight" explanation is a lie. When we returned to the hotel last night we ran into a family who had just been told the same story - note same night of the week - and were trying to find a way to feed their 3 grumpy kids. But back to us:]

We fled across the parking lot to Floramo's. I described it before: this is red-checked tablecloth Italian (plus BBQ!) (and seafood!) without the need for those silly table cloths.

But here's what I wanted to say about it today: check out that pour.

Flying across the country (through JFK, not my favorite airport) tries one's nerves. It does. One needs a little something to help one to relax so one does not respond badly to yet another complaint about the lack of Legos, climate, food, drink, darkness, absence of a pool, need for the bathroom...

We ordered whisky. I had to go look at the bar to pick one because our waitress was adorably ignorant. But out it came and what a lovely sight. Here in Utah whisky in a restaurant would look like a slightly moist glass. You'd think, "Huh. I think they rinsed it with whisky."

Not in Boston. Two solid fingers. Welcome to the northeast - a place I loved when I lived there and still love today. Bugs and all.