Category Archives: Misc

A Wish List, Of Sorts

Sometimes blog topics are like my cat, Zoe; they appear out of nowhere and spread themselves out in front of me so that I cannot possibly avoid paying attention. Other times, they’re like my cat, Morris; deftly remaining just out of reach, and mumbling grumpily on the rare occasion I manage to get a hold of some random part.

Today is a Morris day, but I know if I don’t make an effort to write something, I’ll lose momentum. As I was scrolling through my facebook news feed, I realized I was already writing my next topic – Things I Wish. Post a comment if there’s something YOU would like to wish!

In no particular order:

  1. I wish I could carry a tune. I feel bad because I think I’ve passed on my tone deafness to my kids, and the youngest does love to sing.
  2. I wish I had more time to be creative. I have a list of things I’d like to try or get back into, but I don’t have the energy once the kids are in bed, and I don’t have the time before they’re in bed.
  3. I wish I could go on vacation. Paris sounds nice. (France, not Texas!)
  4. I wish (sometimes) that I had one of those extended families where everyone lives a few blocks from one another, everyone gets along, and there’s lots of cousins to play with. 
  5. I wish I could stay home with my kids (but only on the days they’re well-behaved).
  6. I wish I could go to the beach. 
  7. I wish I didn’t care so much what other people think about me.
  8. I wish I was better at braids and creative hair styles – summer is coming, and I’d like to keep my hair long, but still be cool. 
  9. I wish I was independently wealthy. I’d probably volunteer my time at a local animal shelter, since I know it’s not practical to have any more cats in my house. 
  10. I wish people weren’t so disconnected from one another. I think the world would be a much nicer place without road rage and internet bullies and extreme-partisan politics and all the other things that go along with our modern society.

So, that’s my list for today. Have I struck a chord with you? Do you think I overlooked something? Do you want to commiserate with me because some of your wishes are similar? Talk to me in the comments!

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The Great Purge of 2014

I have never been “that woman with the spotless house” but I have to admit things have been pretty out of control at Chez Ballerina lately. Hubby and I have been trying to get organized for a while now, but we finally agreed that a Dumpster was in order. So, while others attended parades and cook-outs, our family sorted through the detrius of our 15+ years together. Read through to the end to check out my poll!

I am amazed at all the junk that came out of our basement. There were several boxes full of toys, backpacks full of college text books that are at least 10 years out of date, backpacks full of horrible things we shall never speak of again, not-so-dry wall, fiberglass insulation, questionable sleeping bags, old furniture…the list goes on and on. We even (finally) got rid of the bird cage stand that was there when we moved in.

Early on, I paused to consider whether we might need this bauble or that curiosity, and created huge piles of stuff that I donted to charity, but toward the end I became ruthless. When I climbed out of the Pit of Despair (a.k.a the basement) to find the living room looking as if a toy factory had exploded, I wasn’t pleased. When I realized the youngest was sitting on the couch watching TV instead of sorting through said toys, it was on like Donkey Kong. Knowing that the best stuff was likely elsewhere (…the back seat of my car…), I dragged the toy box outside, up-ended it into the driveway and gave the boys 5 minutes to pick out what they wanted to keep. If I hadn’t been so tired, I might have taken better mental notes about what they saved and what they discarded – it would have made for a great blog post. Then again, I also might have cared more about what they were throwing out. They managed to reduce the pile to about a dozen keeper toys before I swooped in with the snow shovel to get rid of the rest. I was impressed that they weren’t more sentimental – neither of them seemed particularly upset to see so many toys dumped in the trash.

At some point while we were cleaning, the youngest asked why we weren’t having a yard sale. He’s big on making money, and he’s fascinated by clean house shows on basic cable, where the home owners seemingly put in a few hours effort for a pretty significant profit. Hubby and I explained that we’d tried a yard sale when the oldest was still a baby – we’d ended up sunburned, and with barely enough cash to go out to dinner that night (assuming we were comfortable leaving our house unattended when all the creepers now knew where we lived and what kind of stuff we had.) As if that hadn’t scarred us enough, there was the guy who stopped to dig through our first major trash pile as it waited for curbside pick up. That was the cleaning session we’d initiated shortly after we realized our cat was using the basement as his litterbox, and the pile was filled with horrible, stinky little cat poop landmines. Hubby was nice enough to give the guy a heads up, but the stranger kept digging anyway. He eventually left with my old breast pump, some empty CD cases and probably a case of Cryptosporidium. Watching the guy dig through cat poop was bad enough, but I shudder to think what he was planning to do with my breast pump. So, yeah. No yard sale.

The Dumpster has been gone for only a few hours, and there’s plenty more work to be done to clean up and reorganize after our purge, but so far my only moment of regret was throwing away the remote to the oldest’s R/C car. I believe this thing was cursed, anyway. The oldest bought it with gift cards he got for his birthday, and couldn’t wait to show his friends after baseball practice. He was driving it on the grass near the field, but it went out of control and ended up in the parking lot where it was run over by another parent’s van. Hubby felt bad, since the kid had the toy for less than 24 hours before it was destroyed, so he bought him a replacement – which ended up with a slightly bent front tire because the youngest accidentally steered it in front of the oldest while the oldest was riding a scooter. Then, six months later, I threw the remote away, thinking it went to something else. See? Cursed! I felt bad for being so ruthless with their toys, so I replaced the R/C car with one that (hopefully) hasn’t made a pact with the devil. The oldest even contributed a gift card he’d received for Christmas, since he didn’t realize the remote went to his car, either (I did ask him before I tossed it.)

So far, so good.

How about you?

The Charles W. Morgan Sets Sail

The Charles W. Morgan at Chubb's Wharf, as seen on The Mystic Seaport's website
The Charles W. Morgan at Chubb’s Wharf, as seen on The Mystic Seaport’s website

Isn’t she a beauty? That’s the Charles W. Morgan at home at Mystic Seaport, The Museum of America and the Sea.

This past weekend, the Morgan began its 38th voyage by traveling down the Mystic River to New London, where it will take on ballast and do a few training runs before continuing to other New England ports between Newport and Boston later this summer. I wasn’t able to see it in person, but the pictures posted on social media are awe inspiring. The Mystic River is shallow enough in some places that the Morgan wouldn’t have made the trip if ballast was added at the Seaport – as it was, she was momentarily stuck, but tugboats and determination saved the day. The Morgan isn’t the first ship to leave New London on tour this year, but it certainly began its journey with the most fanfare.

My grandma was a volunteer at the Mystic Seaport when I was a child. Every Tuesday, Pa would drive her to the Seaport where she would unpack her wooden picnic basket full of baleen, whale teeth, needles, India ink and L’Eggs eggs cut into triangles. She would set up shop on the second floor of the Stillman building, and give scrimshaw demonstrations to museum visitors; the L’eggs triangles were so that kids could try their hand at carving and inking a design, since whale teeth are so rare. I used to love to go with Grandma and Pa during the summer; Grandma would let me help until the museum got busy, and then I’d be sent out to find Pa, who would wait for me before he made the rounds to visit his favorite spots. We both loved visiting the Morgan; Pa would chat with the interpreter, and I’d go below deck to see where they stored barrels of whale oil, and imagine what it would be like to sleep in the tiny berths. The decks of the Morgan were the source of a good many imaginary whaling adventures in my youth.

When the Morgan was pulled out of the river in 2008 to begin restoration, my mother and I often took the boys to peek at the ship through the fence at the corner of Isham and Bay Streets. I knew the Morgan was big, but seeing it out of the water really highlighted the magnitude of her. When the Morgan was re-launched on July 21, 2013, my mother, the boys and I were delighted to watch from across the river; it was my mother’s 73rd birthday, and the Morgan’s 172nd. The anticipation was great fun, and it’s nice to be able to say we were there, but when we realized the ship was being lowered inch-by-inch, the boys decided it was time to go swimming in Noank; Mom and I didn’t disagree.

I’m planning to visit the Morgan in New London before she leaves, but what I’m looking forward to most is her triumphant return up the Mystic River in August. Maybe after watching her come back home, the boys and I can have a few imaginary whaling adventures of our own.