Friday, August 31, 2012

Neighborhood Envy

Yesterday Winton's preschool was closed.  He and I took Clara to Kindergarten, parking the car far down Roland Avenue and walking, rather than driving, through the crowds.

Then he and I went to Eddie's grocery store (on the block adjacent to the school) to buy baking supplies.  Then we went to Starbucks (next to Eddie's) and had tea together. Then we put the groceries in the car's trunk and walked down the hill to Stony Run where we spent an hour throwing rocks into the river.  Then we walked back uphill to the car,  encountering a friendly black cat named Spookie on our way.

It was pedestrian (in the very best way).  We walked.  Walking let us run errands and indulge in pleasures both urbane (tea on a busy sidewalk) and pastoral (rock throwing in the river). 

To think: people LIVE in Roland park and have the opportunity to do these things every day.  Who are these people?  How do they do it?  Can we do it too?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Clara had her cubby conference yesterday.  Today is her first full day.  She started at 8am.  Her school is on Roland Park Avenue, across from Roland Park Country Day School, and just south of Gilman.

The traffic!  It was a lot like a circus, with cars pointing in unlikely directions as they tried to pull U-turns.  There were policemen with whistles, crossing guards wearing neon, and children ages 5-15 or so, everywhere.

It was strange to walk Clara into her class, say goodbye and walk away.  The whole place seemed so porous.  Surely she won't slip out again and run away down the street?  I had to keep reassuring myself it was unlikely she would. But, after years of preschool and carefully closed gates with child-unfriendly latches, there she was, in a busy room full of coming and going with no one watching her in particular and with an open door as I walked away.

Her brother was in high spirits about having "a little peeky" into his sister's new class, until, on the 8 block trek back to where we had parked our car, he wiped out extravagantly and skinned both his knees.

He wasn't impressed about getting to preschool before his favorite teachers either.

Is it really only 10.30 AM?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A new-year's miscellany

It was my birthday yesterday: I'm 42.  I wish I knew exactly when my mid-life crisis was planning on ending.  It's been years now, it seems.  I crave newness and, at the same time, I am still trying to resurrect oldness (eg, I'd like to be a hardbodied 28 year-old ashtanga yogini again: not going to happen if the VERY sore muscles after a mixed-level sivananda class yesterday are anything to go by).  Anyway: identity crisis post 40, post child-bearing, post tenure continues apace.  Bottom line question: now what??

Clara starts Kindergarten tomorrow.  She's in at Roland Park Elementary as of 6 days ago.  RPE is a Baltimore City Public School at which most students feel safe, according to the recent "climate" surveys.  Much better than the school we are zoned for,  in which only 49.9% of the student body feels safe. 

I am already desperately anxious that we somehow manage to get her brother into the school two years from now. 

There should be a choir of angels, or hummingbirds, or trumpeting elephants or something to mark how fantastic it is that we got Clara in.  People move house, at great expense, to attend Roland Park.  Thank-freakin' whomever that we got in out-of-zone.  Really.  Very much.  Thanks.

Kindergarten is, as reputed, a definitive moment.  The small girl I live with, the one currently reorganizing the tent she has built in the dining room, is clearly a child, not a baby.  And her brother (only 3 pounds lighter, and almost the same height) is no baby either.  I'd like to note here that they still cuddle with me.  I know it can't last, those small bodies cramming themselves onto me and pressing their blond heads against me.

I also know they won't always want to play "monsters" with me in the long hallway/ atrium between Bally fitness and Trader Joe's in Towson.  But they did today, as they have for many many Sundays past.  It can't last, but let it be hereby noted.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Spelling Mishap

Winton; "What does 'O' 'M' 'E' spell?"
Me: "'Ome', but if you put an 'H' at the beginning, it spells 'home.'"
Winton [excitedly]: "And if you put an 'H' in the middle, it spells 'porn'!"

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Theory, based on dates of manufacture of matchbox cars in yard of vacation rental (1983-2003) and proliferation of empty foreclosed vacation homes AND densely populated homes full of commuters in our immediate vicinity:

The Poconos used to be a vacation destination.  Wealthy folks had summer homes there.
The financial markets collapsed: wealthy folks had less wealth to pay for their summer homes.
The housing markets collapsed: the property values of the former vacation homes plummeted.
Commuters priced out of metropolitan residences now buy (or rent) former vacation homes for cheap, and move in in droves.

The result: a vacation destination a bit too reminiscent of our Baltimore city neighborhood.
Dingy, vandalized (with fire and paint) playground in the communal park?  Check!
Speeding cars thrumming with bass vibes?  Check!
Car drivers who look at you like you are crazy when you wave?  Check!
General feeling that things used to be better maintained than they are now?  Check!

Just like home, but with cooler temperatures and more blue spruce.

Oddly though, there was also a flock of turkeys (10) that we saw every day, a gopher family living in the culvert across the street, a colony of feral cats (incl. kittens) in the yard of an empty house and a plethora of very tame deer roaming the neighborhood.  That's quite a lot of nature, more than we saw when we rented in the middle of the George Washington National forest and were the only house within 4 miles on a dirt road. 

Also, we only saw one horsefly (in the surprisingly lovely and well-appointed Tobyhanna State Park: it has hot showers!).  Said fly persistently chased Husband and bit him, twice, in the calf.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Scene: small wood panelled bathroom in a "mountain resort" in the Poconos (a neighborhood that feels like a suburb, except half the houses are empty and deer, feral cats and turkeys are delightfully omnipresent).  My father-in-law (Hmm, Yes.  Odd that it was him, not, say, the landlord or a plumber, but having him do it was far faster) has his hands in the toilet tank, attempting to replace the flapper that closes off the bottom of the tank when the toilet is done flushing.  I am holding up the ball cock so that water doesn't keep flowing into the tank. 

The toilet says: "Wheeeee!  Squphh. Huff huff huff. Squph. Squit.  Squitter. Squit squit SQUIFF." 

I imagine this is what it sounds like to share lunch conversation with a porpoise.


Husband, as we prepare to leave for the drive from Baltimore to the Poconos:
"Well, we're heading to an unfamiliar house in a new place with two tired children, a small Hyundai Accent packed to the point of exploding and a dog with diarrhea.  What could go wrong?"

Saturday, August 4, 2012

What Winton Said

Me: "Winton, how'd you get your face so dirty?" [we were in the lobby of the public library with no dirt sources immediately evident]

Winton: "I used the magic. The magic in my belly."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Out of Zone

We are trying to get our daughter into Roland Park Elementary's Kindergarten, out-of-zone.  We've been on the waiting list since September 14, 2011.

I've been calling every day for 10 days now, speaking to some very nice people who keep asking me to call back.

7 weeks ago I was told we were # 5 on the waiting list.

They'll call while we're away and have dubious cell phone coverage.  Or not til Sept 4 (after Clara has already started Kindergarten at BIA).  Or not til Oct 4 (after she's started to settle in at BIA).  Or not at all.

It was better when BIA French immersion was the only option on the horizon.  Choice is a damnable thing if you think that *maybe* there *perhaps* is one to be made.

AND, though this shouldn't have come as a surprise, school choices for our children are among the most fraught decisions parents can make, aren't they?

BIA is still a good choice too.  The pale blue uniform shirt looks nice on Clara, anyway.  She's excited about that.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Poison Oak

It grows in our "hedge."  Our hedge isn't actually a hedge, but rather a collection of green things that have grown large and bushy, and up into our electricity and phone lines  

Husband went out on the weekend to try and push what our neighbors refer to as "The Green Wall" back a bit with a lawn mower and weed whacker.  He is now pretty much a red, inflamed hive from neck to waist, both front and back.

He's tried calamine.  He's tried baking soda and vinegar.

He's looking for a reliable internet source prescribing bourbon.  Momosyllabic is happy to provide one:

For bad cases of poison ivy and poison oak:

Put 3 ice cubes in a tumbler
Pour in a generous amount of bourbon
Sit still, using both hands to hold the glass while you drink so you don't scratch.
Repeat as needed for 12-21 days.