......finding a new home for lutefisk lovers.

(ok we don't love it. or even like it. but we're supposed to.)

28 January 2011

The Sea Monkeys

The Sea Monkeys seem like they should be friends with Sigmund the Sea Monster. Maybe they were his neighbors in his sea monster neighborhood. But they're probably on Sigmund's side, using their trickery to collectively help Johnny foil Sigmund's meanie parents.

And I always picture them going to band practice when they're done surfing. It just feels right.

25 January 2011

Footprints in the snow.......

..........made by surfers.

I am in awe of them. They look like monkeys, covered from head to toe in brown neoprene with a circle cut out for their happy faces. They are sea monkeys.

They traipse through the snow in their neoprene booties to get to the killer waves of January. Since I know nothing about surfing, I have no idea if the killer waves in New Hampshire are truly killer - or just bigger than they were before. But either way, these guys are submersing themselves in the Atlantic Ocean when the air temperature forces me to cover my face with my scarf while I watch them from the beach.

And that is truly killer.

20 January 2011

Thank You......Daily Walkers

As the weather got colder and my to-do list grew, I felt myself less drawn to the ocean. I got caught up in all the things I wasn't finishing and it became an intrusion into my quest to cross everything off my list.

And I can't help but notice a direct correlation between my daily walks along the shore path and my satisfaction with this place.

So I make an effort. I put on more clothes. And I walk the boards walked by hundreds of avid runners and agile senior citizens every day. I traipse over the board pictured above, repaired by a good samaritan and inscribed with the gratitude of the daily walkers. I smile as I move across the board because I feel I've just been ushered into a club; could I be one of the daily walkers? We've never met but we all meet here at different times to be with the ocean.

The reward at the end............I find a good spot to sit. Maybe a rock perched over the beach or a Kristin-shaped indentation in the mass of pebbles. And I listen to the sound of water rushing over millions of tiny rocks. And I watch the waves swell, break and recede........in a reliable rhythm that makes you see that everything will be ok.

And it occurs to me, could it be that I actually prefer the beach in winter?? There is a crystalline quality; mist hovering and ice covering tide pools. Positively ethereal. Like it's been here for eons but I'm the only one who has seen it. It reminds of a comment I received this summer, shortly after we moved. I told this person how the beach had been my saving grace - after leaving my real home and struggling to make this new home feel like an actual home. How I sat there every day and watched the waves roll in. How it gave me a reason to like this place.

And she replied, "Let's see how that goes this winter."

........which I thought was not a very nice thing to say.

But now I know.......it's going just fine, thank you. Winter throws more obstacles in my way - but once I climb the snowdrift, I see the beach. Just as it was this summer.

18 January 2011

Just a few more........then I'm done.

  • I wish everything on my body was detachable.
  • What's the sharpest thing you've ever seen?
  • How do you process a baby?

14 January 2011

Is it too late for a "Best of 2010" List?

I know we're 2 weeks into the new year already and most people have ceased greeting people with "Happy New Year!" but I haven't shared my annual list of Liam quotes yet. I'm moving a little slower in 2011; one of my new year's resolutions is to be lazier. Much like in 7th grade when I noticed that I was doing a lot more work than everyone else........and they were getting A's, too. "What am I doing?" said 7th grade Kristin. Total lightbulb moment. After that, I worked hard to not to work so hard. Maybe pay less attention to the teacher. Or turn in an assignment on time instead of early. But it was really hard - I could only do it for short periods of time before the mediocrity ate me alive. And here we are, 30 years later...........hmmmmm.

So you'll get a 2010 list well past the "let's take a look back at 2010 and see what a great year it was" bruhaha.

Like all things that spew forth from children, there is a distinct chance that this will only be funny for me. Every kid says cute things. Some are funny for everyone......some are not. But if you write them down, it gives you a window into the twisted mind of your child. Seeing Liam's words in black and white, in list form, makes me go "This kid is whacked, man." So, in that spirit, I give you:

Things That Sprang Forth from Liam in 2010

  • Can a fish fart?
  • Do you like body hair? Or not?
  • Are we still at the fair?
  • (throwing up in toilet) Can paper float on water?
  • How many bandits are there in the whole world?
  • What is the world record for the most pockets in a pair of shorts?
  • Have you ever been kidnapped?
  • What are those clowns that go like this (hand, hand, look right, look left) and pretend they're in a box?
  • If monkeys eat bananas, do they go to the store and buy them?
  • (watching himself in the mirror) When I open my mouth, does the top part go up or does the bottom part go down?

Did You Know?
  • Did you know that a python can swallow a human head? It could swallow the whole body but it can't get past the shoulders.
  • Did you know there are no bones in your penis?
  • Did you know that you can't kill a fly by smacking it with your bare hand or stepping on it?


Liam: How do you lose a leg?
Kristin: Usually an accident. Like a car accident.
Liam: So how does it get lost?

Liam: You lived in an apartment?
Kristin: I lived with Martha.
Liam: Oh yeah......when you and Dad weren't married. You just visited him and had sleepovers.

Liam: Let's play that game where you try to get 4 of something and trade stuff.
Kristin: ?????? Ok.
(play begins)
Kristin: Wait a minute! Are we playing poker?
Liam: Yeah! Poker!

Liam: Mom, I wish your body was like that lady's in The Blind Side but you were still you.
Kristin: You like that body?
Liam: Yes.
Kristin: What do you like about it?
Liam: I don't know. I just do.

Kristin: I'm looking forward to going to Vermont.
Liam: I know. I'm going to get fresh-squeezed milk every morning.

Kristin: Why is your bear all wet?
Liam: Because - I gave her a bath with my tongue.

Liam: It's ok. Life would never harm us.

  • I had a dream that I graduated from making perfect m's. Then my teacher gave me a balloon. But I let it go. I don't want to talk about it.
  • (while sleeping) I felt guilty when I got paper clipped to the watch tower.
  • (after I make him rinse his dishes) It's hard being old-fashioned.
  • (telling the babysitter about our move) I probably won't be back until something like junior high. You probably won't recognize me then. And I'll have a girlfriend. Because that's what you do in junior high.
  • (disappointed) We're having hot dogs for dinner? I thought you said pop rocks.
  • I wish I could speak Spanish. Then I could go to Japan.
  • I wonder what it's like to get digested.
  • Ouch! I wish our house wasn't so pointy.

  • Why did the Transformer cross the butt?............To get to the penis!
Even More Profound
  • I love you, mom. And I'll never not.

11 January 2011

Live Free or Die.....at Christmas Time

For those of you who pay taxes, there's a little perk you get at Christmas time that probably comes and goes without nary a thought (so Dickensian!). It's so seamless that it never occurs to you that it could be any other way.

After the holidays, we undecorated our tree and hauled it out to the "curb." I say "curb" because we have no sidewalks that need to be curbed. So, really, Mike hauled it out to the "the line at the front of our property that indicates where the street begins." Which is no easy feat given that our driveway is 22 miles long, covered in deep snow and uphill both ways.

It doesn't occur to me to look around and see if anyone else has put their tree at the "curb."

Which they haven't.

Not one tree in the entire neighborhood or the entire town or the entire seacoast area is lying naked at the end of anyone's driveway. At no time during the post-holiday season have I seen any trees lying naked at the end of anyone's driveway.

So I shouldn't have been surprised when I came home at the end of the day and found my garbage can empty............and my Christmas tree still lying naked at the end of my driveway. But I WAS surprised. Wha??? Maybe they didn't see it? Maybe there are so many trees in this state that they can't differentiate between upright, living trees and prostrate, dead ones? Used for ceremonial purposes? Maybe they thought it was a fallen tree and not a used Christmas tree and they were leaving it for birds and rodents to build homes in?

Then it hit me: I bet they take them on a certain day and I missed it! RATS! Now I'm irritated.

So the next day, I ask my neighbor:

"When do they pick up the Christmas trees?"

"When does who pick up the Christmas trees?"

"The garbage people."

That's when she starts to laugh............at me, not with me. And I get that prickly feeling of embarrassment as I finally recognize the scenario that was right in front of my face the whole time - but my nanny-state eyes could not see it.

"No one's coming to get my tree?"

She laughs some more. A little harder now. And I can see that she's patting me on the head in her mind. And I wonder for a hot, embarrassing moment if all the other neighbors have done this as they drove by the new girl's house. What looked perfectly normal five minutes ago now looks strange and backward. To someone who has never put their tree out for the garbage people, this must look ridiculously out of place. Like putting your garbage cans on the roof. Do they mock my faith in the unseen forces that make my Christmas tree disappear without any personal responsibility on my part? Do they wonder how I feed myself, too?

But here's the next question - a question to which I simply cannot envision a reasonable answer:

"So what do I do with it?"

Which, to her, must sound like "So how do you get the food to your mouth?"

"Well," she says, looking over her shoulder, "we throw ours in the woods." Eyes darting.
I'm getting the feeling we're not supposed to do this.

"Ok, but what if you're a rule follower like me? Or if you don't live in a privileged area that requires each house to be nestled into 2 acres of woods? What if you live in an apartment building?"

"Then you have to take it to the dump and pay to have them take it off your hands."


I tell this to Mike who stares at me like I'm lying. Because only a cretin would put his dry, used up Christmas tree BACK ON TOP OF HIS CAR, tie it down with twine so as not to lose it on the highway, and DRIVE it somewhere. The only time you should tie your Christmas tree to the top of your car is when it's fresh and green and ripe with the anticipation of Christmas. This is like driving your dog to the vet to have it put to sleep.

So Mike puts on his snow shoes and trudges down the driveway - uphill both ways - to retrieve our humiliated Christmas tree. And he throws it in the woods.

Tune in next time when we'll discuss why I have to pay $85.00 to get a library card.

In the meantime, I'll be chasing after my elected officials with my wallet open. "No, no" I'll say. "It's not a bribe. It's called "taxes." Can I give you some "taxes?" We pay "taxes" in exchange for basic services that make us civilized."

Like picking up my damn Christmas tree.

07 January 2011

A Driveby Homecoming

The day after Christmas, we planned to fly to Minnesota for our first visit since the move to New Hampshire. The first visit would be important; trying to get used to the fact that this is no longer our home in the present tense........only in a nostalgic way. Would it be comforting to be surrounded by the people and places we miss? Or would it be torture? And what about the house that is no longer our house? I've lived in a lot of houses and I've pined for none of them.......except 4041. Liam regularly asks if we can buy our house back when we return to Minneapolis. Will it be hard to see it? Or just a house we used to live in?

We had a long list of people to see and a longer list of places to visit and food to eat. I dream about Asian food and coffee shops. I needed a delta bowl from Rice Paper, a banh mi from Blackbird, a turkey sandwich from Bewiched, the chicken wild rice hash at Zumbro, a malt from Convention Grill, a margherita pizza from Punch and the tomato soup from Turtle Bread.

But wait............on the Sunday of our departure, New England woke up to a beautiful snowfall. A snowfall that brought everything to a halt..........including our flight. A snowfall that barely warranted a 2 hour late start in Minnesota was grounding all flights out of Boston. FOR THREE DAYS!!!!! Seriously! Our Sunday flight was delayed until WEDNESDAY! I've been flying for 42 years - most of them out of the Minneapolis/ St. Paul airport, a place known for it's snowfall - and not once have I been delayed for more than a handful of hours.

What was to be a 5 day reunion turned into a 2 day driveby. We felt like homecoming royalty waving at everybody from our float. "Sorry, can't stop! But I'll wave at you! If you have a present, just toss it up here! I'll catch it!" We exchanged gifts in doorways with jackets on while we hugged hello and goodbye simultaneously. And most people were missed altogether; so close but so far away!!! We actually spied one of our friends driving down Xerxes Ave. and started shouting and waving, "Dave! Dave! It's us!" knowing we may have to count that as our visit with Dave. And he didn't even see us.

When we finally arrive in Minneapolis, we drive from the airport directly to our old neighborhood - to get our feet wet and rip the bandaid off this still-fresh wound. Liam sees Lake Harriet and he literally lights up like a firecracker. He strains against his seatbelt and holds the seat in front of him, his eyes laughing and darting from one familiar sight to another.

"There's my sledding hill! .............There's the bandshell! ..............I'm so happy! .............Those trolley people were always so kind to me.......always! .................There's Ezra and Ambrose's house! I just love that house! .................I'm so glad we're here! I'm speechless!"

What 8 year old says "I'm speechless"? And he clearly wasn't speechless. But he simply couldn't produce enough words to accurately express how he was feeling. Eventually, he puts his face in his hands. And cradles it for a moment.

Then raises it, his eyes now glassy with tears. But still smiling.

We pass our old house........very slowly. It looks the same with the exception of some garage construction and a small neon sign in the sunporch that says "Peace." It's a completely innocuous sign - barely noticeable.

"LOOK AT THAT STUPID SIGN! I would never put that sign there! Why would they put that there? IT'S SO STUPID!"

He's indignant. He's ranting. It seems he can't say enough about how offensive that tiny, altruistic sign is. Mike tries to cut him off by pointing out that it's a positive message they're sending to the neighborhood - but I shush him. Let's give him this rant. He really needed that peace sign. Something at which to direct the flood of emotions that collided with his happiness at that moment - as he glimpsed his home that was not his home. If we say nothing, it will eventually burn itself out.

And it does. We pass Carson's house and the smile returns.

The depth of his attachment to this place throws me. I was exactly his age when I moved from California to Minnesota - an equally big move - and I never looked back. All I can figure is that the place we left really is that good. A fairy tale childhood in a fairy tale neighborhood with a toy store, 2 lakes, a mail carrier who buys you presents and plenty of buddies who run from yard to yard.

The grandparents worry about Liam and his adjustment. It makes them sad when he's sad. And when he's so happy to be home - in this place that is no longer home - they worry that he'll be unhappy about his new home. But when we get back - to our new home - Liam drops his backpack and says

"Ah.......the magnificent smell of home."

........which is actually the smell of paint.
But, either way, I think we'll be ok.

04 January 2011

POST Post Christmas Analysis

If you haven't done your post-Christmas analysis yet, consider this tactic: open a document on your computer and name it "Christmas 2010." Then just leave it open. I started mine 4 days ago with just a half page of notes; but as I think of things, I run to my computer and add a quick line. Now I'm up to 2 full pages of suggestions for Christmas 2011. Among them:

  • Hot chocolate on the beach was not just the highlight of my Christmas........ it was quite possibly the highlight of my whole year. Each picture says "Could I be any happier?"

  • Mike's back going out on Christmas Eve. In preparation for next year, institute some serious (insert eastern-oriented movement therapy here) in November 2011.

  • Lobster was an A+, gravlax was an A+, pomegranate martini was an A, fondue was an A. But I was taken aback by my inability to find meatballs, Swedish sausage and lefse in New Hampshire. And, as Junie B. Jones would say, that was PU. For 2011, schedule a roadtrip to Carl's Sausage Kitchen and European Market in Massachusetts (I even included the phone number!). Or...plan ahead and order lefse from Lund's.

  • All of our decorations from 4041 were too colorful and whimsical for this formal house. They looked garish. How strange it is to open a box of all the beautiful things you've collected over the years and find them ugly. Next year, look for decorations in neutral colors with richer textures to compensate. Limit decorations to tree, doors and mantle for easy clean-up. That was slick!
  • Add some outdoor lighting. We have NEVER done this. It simply wasn't necessary because our house was a jewel in and of itself. But this house looked wan and sallow with no illumination. Brainstorm ways to do this in a simplified manner so we're not outside on Easter taking plastic Santa off the roof.

  • Found out about the showing of A Christmas Story at the revival house theater - when it was already over. Rats! Get on their mailing list for next year.
  • Skip the candlelight stroll at the local colonial history museum. Boring and SO not worth $50.00! It was a snore-0-rama with old ladies exclaiming over the reproduction biscuits on the fake Christmas dinner table and surly teenagers featured in living tableaus who were clearly forced to be there by their history-loving mothers: “I’m Lydia Pernicious Stott and this is my cousin Rufus Blankenship of the Providence Blankenships. We’re playing parlor games while we wait for St. Nicholas.” I was alternately giddy with the ridiculousness and irritated by the old ladies in our single file line who lingered to more closely observe the candle snuffers. It took everything I had not to push them down.
I would have preferred more candlelight and fewer reproduction biscuits. Although it was refreshing to see that Portsmouth does have a gay community.

So....what I'm trying to say is: your Christmas was a lot more complex than you thought it was. Let your analysis percolate over a few days' time so you can capture the details that made it suck/sing.

Then leave it behind and enjoy your 2011! Happy New Year!