The Etiquette of the Honk

angry-driverDriving home with my daughter the other evening, I found myself schooling her on the etiquette of the honk.  I’m a pretty even-keeled, balanced person, but I find “incidents” on the road can really irk me.  The other night I was sitting at a green traffic light, waiting for the oncoming traffic to clear so I could take a left hand turn.  Since I had pulled up, I could no longer see the light, and I was just looking at the traffic.  The oncoming traffic slowed, signaling it was time for me to make my move.  But just then, the car behind me let out a loud, obnoxious, sit on your horn honk (as in woooooonnnnnkkk), which made me really mad.  I then turned to my daughter to start educating her about “the honk.”  I think my tirade went something like this:

“Eliza, there are two kinds of honks – a ‘toot-toot’ friendly honk to remind someone to keep moving, and the loud sit on your horn ” wooooooooooonnnnnnk” quite obnoxious honk.  Now, back at that corner, that honk should have been a friendly “toot toot.”  The “wooooooooonnnnnnk” type horn style should only be used when you’re in impending danger of getting run into.  Then wooooonnnnnking honking is entirely appropriate.  Unfortunately we live in an area of the country, where people like to throw their weight around by “wooooonnnnnnking” too frequently and are misguided about the finesse and strength of mind over matter that it takes to appropriately apply your hand to the honking area of the steering wheel after assessing the honk situation that you’re in.

So adamant am I about this, that the local driving school has invited me to be a guest lecturer.  I’ll make sure that the up and coming young drivers know just when to toot or woooooonnnnnnnk.

Am I a Bird Brain, or what?

canaryIf I had to associate myself with any one type of animal, I would say I’m a dog person, even though it has been many many moons since I’ve owned a dog (I’m constantly grappling with the logistics, but one day my time will come).  So rather than a dog, somehow we have adopted several feathered friends over the past year and a half, including 8 chickens (down from a high of 15) and one canary.

Somehow, we’ve had a problem with sexing.  Out of our initial “flock” of 10 baby chicks, all supposed to be hens or girl chickens, we were surprised to wake up one morning to the crowing of a rooster.  Likewise, our canary was supposed to be a boy. Boys are the ones that really sing and trill, and while I convinced myself that the chirps and peeps of our canary “Peep” were in fact songs, I now realize that they were in fact just peeps.

How do I know this?  Well, one simple word – an egg.  But let me take you back in time. Our canary, for quite sometime, has been exhibiting signs of what I labeled depression.  She has been feather picking, and looks quite ragged at the moment.  So what better idea than to put a mirror in her Christmas stocking (no, the stocking was not my idea).  That mirror went into the cage, and immediately Peep took to it. He (She) had a friend!  He (She) would sit in front of it and talk and chirp and peep. He (She) must have been so excited by this, that those sexual feelings blossomed, and an egg was laid.

Because of Peep’s ragged appearance, I finally decided that it was time to find a vet that could literally take a peep and let me know if Peep was in fact suffering from depression or some skin disease.  I was having the rational argument in my mind of whether or not it was worthwhile to take a bird to a vet.  I know I would take a dog to the vet if something was wrong, so I ultimately decided to go for it, despite my guess of a $200 bill.   Consequently the few days leading up to the appointment, Peep seemed to take on a whole new level of lethargy, pretty much nesting in her food bowl most of the time.  Maybe just a nesting instinct?  I wasn’t sure.

Enter Dr. Laurie Hess, a Yale educated veternarian specializing in birds and exotic pets.  Only the best for this little yellow bird.  After hanging in the office for over 2 hours, I had to leave Peep behind to go pick up kids and get them to their activities.  I returned at the end of the day with Jack and Sam.  We were greeted by a man leaving an exam room with a wallaby in his arms.  Turns out that Peep has a reproductive blockage, and after a series of x-rays, calcium shots, Vitamin D shots, and a shot to shut down hormones and hopefully cut off egg laying, I left with a very haggard bird in my possession, and a $1005 hole burning in my pocket.  Apparently due to the stress of x-rays and shots during the day, they thought at one point Peep had died, as she laid keeled over on her side. An oxygen machine revived her.  I couldn’t help thinking about whether or not I would still owe them if Peep had died.

The reaction from the four kids was at opposite ends of the spectrum.  The oldest two, when they found out how much I had spent, suggested that maybe we should have just let Peep fly away.  Sam, driving home from the vet’s office, said:  ”I’m so glad Peep didn’t you know what.”  (Apparently the “D” word is similar to that of Voldemort – that which cannot be named).  Jack called my husband and I three times that evening during a dinner out, expressing his concern over Peep.

Dr. Hess graciously called the next day to check on Peep, and of course wants to see her in a week.  I can’t help thinking that I’m getting more attention from this doctor than my own internist and pediatricians.  Of course I never paid those doctors that much money either.

I did find out along the way that Peep was probably malnourished.  The Pet Store’s recommended feeding regimen was far from adequate – and she was lacking important nutrients and vitamins.  So now I catch her twice a day to feed her calcium through a dropper, I’ve clipped broccoli florets on the side of her cage (which she does love), and I even made little mini bird muffins.

And there in lies the story of the impromptu impulse purchase at the pet store. Although I do admit, when feeling well, this little bird loves to chatter and keep you company.

When Life Gets in the Way

DSC_0916No, this light fixture doesn’t hang in some obscure corner of my house – it’s front and center in my entrance way.  Before I go any further, I must let you know since Day 1 of moving into this house, I have not liked that light fixture – it has been on my to do list for replacement.  Since I haven’t gotten around to replacing it yet after seven years, you can see it is dying a slow death on the vine.

A few months ago we looked up and noticed that all the glass panels were precariously leaning in all sorts of different directions – creating quite a hazard for anyone standing below.  We quickly removed them all, and there they still all sit on my dining room buffet.  At this point, there is only one light burning, two missing bulbs which were transferred to the outdoor lamp post, and three burned out light bulbs.  Yes, our front hallway does seem a bit on the dark side these days, but if I even happen to notice as I’m quickly passing through, I make a mental note which is quickly forgotten.  There’s an intricate display of cobwebs encircling the top.

Well, as ugly as it is, doing anything about it hasn’t take high priority (obviously).   And maybe that’s a good thing.  Life at this point is moving too fast to worry about this relic, the nicks of missing paint around the door frames, the yet to be painted door frame around a remodeled room (hmmm going on about 3 years), the dust that sinks down in the crevices of moldings.  Mind you, these things do take up a small fraction of brain space, but nothing that compels me to action…

Maybe I’ll get to it in my sixties….in the meantime, anyone need a light fixture?

Dining in the Dark….

klick1We know about Dancing in the Dark.  Well, what about dining?  I recently became aware of a most unusual way to dine  - totally in the dark.  If you eat at Pod Kridlemnoci in Prague, you’ll have to swap your sense of light for a sense of adventure.  Kridlemnoci translates to “Under the Wing of Night” and through this experience of dining in the dark, you are forced to let your other sources of smell, touch, taste and hearing take over.

After selecting your meal in the “world of light,” you are led to the “world of darkness” where all visual stimuli disappears, leaving you to focus solely on the taste of your food, and the voice of your dining partner.  There’s something about this type of experience that really intrigues me.  If it’s true that when one sense isn’t usable, the others are heightened, the gustatory pleasures of dining in the dark may be unparalleled.   Plus, think of all the great faces that you can make at your dining partner and you can even pick the food out of your teeth without a care (sorry I had to bring it down a notch).  Might even be the perfect type of venue for a blind date.

Apparently this idea originated through an organization in Zurich called Blindehuh (Blind Cow), which creates jobs for the blind and visually impaired. Today dark dining spots can be found in many metropolitan cities across the globe, including New York, Beijing, Montreal and Sydney.

This whole idea was presented at a marketing offsite I attended.  It was presented to enable us to think about breaking away from the structure that typically frames our life, and to think about how we react to it.  If you can break away from this structure, often your mind becomes awakened to different patterns of observation and thinking. Typically when you’re in the dark, you are in a passive frame of mind – and most likely trying to drift into sleep.   Can you imagine sitting in the dark for a couple hours, carrying on a conversation and enjoying a meal?  I imagine every element of the experience is heightened.

I for one am anxious to experience this.  I’d love to know what you think!

Stretching Your Silly Muscle

medieval-jesterWhen was the last time you were silly or playful?

The idea of embracing/reuniting with your light-hearted, inner child sounds appealing, doesn’t it? Then why does it feel so uncomfortable and hard to do?

Over the past weekend, I had two opportunities to work out my silly muscle: at a Medieval dinner featuring a comic cast and free-flowing ale and during a game-filled team-building event. Both were great fun!

And, as I reflect back on both experiences, I realize I held back a little. I enjoyed the playfulness, but it was more others’ silliness than my own. I stayed in my head versus played in my heart.

Were my inhibitions due to a fear of looking foolish? Maybe. Although I certainly looked pretty silly as I contorted my body to get through multiple hoops (small hoops!) during one of the team-building activities.

Is my personality so sober and serious that being playful isn’t possible? Maybe. I remember always being a bit more mature, perhaps even reserved, even when I was a kid.

However, I think the biggest reason that silliness is a stretch for me is that I just don’t use my silly muscle very often. And, like any muscle, it has grown weak through disuse.

So, now I have a goal. A serious goal. I am looking for chances to shut off my grown-up brain, be in the moment, and have some silly fun. Suggestions are welcome!

Mix a little foolishness with your serious plans. It is lovely to be silly at the right moment. ~ Horace

Bieber Fever

P8310009I guess I’m a lucky Mom.  I’ve seen Justin Bieber not once, but TWICE this year (click here for my first blog about him).  It was a pure unadulterated teeny bopper love fest at Madison Square Garden.  (For those of you unfamiliar with who Justin Bieber is – he is the hot 16 year old sensation who grew up in low income housing with a single mom in Canada and was discovered by Usher via youtube – an utterly amazing story).  Tuesday night my daughter, her BF and I took off for MSG.  The two girls sporting their purple attire, and carrying their sign decked out in purple lettering exclaiming “Call the Doctor, We got Bieber Fever” (purple being Justin’s fave color of course) arrived in the bustling NYC scene of 32nd and 7th, where a sea of purple clad girls could be seen….wildly screaming.

The theatrics of the night were made even more fantastical as Justin’s new concert movie was being filmed.  With Sean Kingston opening, JB’s lively acrobatic and amazingly talented dance team and back-up singers making their presence known, staging and props (like JB playing his guitar sitting in a huge heart and being carried through the air to the center of the arena) and the guest artists who sang with him throughout the evening (Boys II Men, Ludacris, Usher, Miley Cyrus, Jaden Smith, and Sean Kingston) – it truly was quite an event.

Yes, despite some trepidation, I had fun.  A lot of fun.  But the best part is, that in this day and age, where we are bombarded by smutty reality shows like Jersey Shore and X-rated wrap lyrics, we have an adorable kid who is all about love, hearts, smiles (he even took the time to make his appeal about no texting while driving).  He is an adorable sensation.  I’m so glad my daughter’s crush on Little Wayne has passed :)



Update from the Backyard Chicken Farmer

DSC_0632It’s been a while since I’ve reported on my (oh I mean my son’s) pet chickens.  Life on the “farm” is quite good.  We get 6-8 eggs daily from our chickens, and they are far closer to having dogs as pets than I ever imagined.  We’ve relaxed our inhibitions regarding free ranging – and when we’re home, let them roam the yard – despite threats from a neighboring hawk.  They clamor to get out of their pen – and are so happy when they get to roam.  And my son only needs to walk into the backyard and let out a little whistle, and they all come running and follow the pied piper back into their coop.

They were roaming in the backyard a couple of weeks ago when we glanced out the kitchen window and saw a deer grazing in the middle of the pack, each and every chicken and lone deer totally minding their own business.  It was quite a funny site.

Another funny site would be a chicken wearing a diaper.  A friend recently forwarded to me a Wall Street journal article about the ongoing trend of chicken ownership, and the burgeoning side industry that it has created for chicken entrepreneurs.  And yes, diapers, are one of the new hot products for those folks who prefer to give their chickens free reign of their home.

The scary thing, as I mentioned to my friend, is that I actually know or have had conversations with three of the folks highlighted in the article.  But at least I do not have chickens in my house, and don’t have a need for chicken diapers.  My friend then did subtly remind me that I had six chickens (1 chicken and 5 roosters to be exact) living in my basement, for about 4.5 months, and then one chicken (who did not get along with the other chickens) who lived in my pack and play for a few days in my family room.  Thank God I did not know about the chicken diaper at the time, because who knows what that knowledge would have led to?!

Anything for a farm fresh egg, right?

What’s that Growing in my Garden?

DSC_0688I like to think I have a green thumb, although I really think I have more of a green mind…very grandiose visions of what I’d like my yard to look like, but no time or money to perfectly execute it. My thumb tends to be greenest at the start of the season when I’m gung ho and the temperatures aren’t hovering around the 100 degree mark.

My vegetable garden this year looks rather ho hum.  The tomatoes, in particular, aren’t terribly hardy looking.  So you can imagine my surprise and delight when we caught sight of a large obtrusion emanating from our compost bin.  Large green leaves, bright yellow flowers, vines extending for about 10 feet.  Wow, I’ve never grown anything that looked that good…and I had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Granted, this plant is perfect testament to the rich soil and nutrients residing in my compost bin, which includes a bit of chicken manure.  Nothing could be finer for a humble squash plant.

So my anticipation was growing.  What type of squash would we be enjoying later this summer?  Maybe spaghetti, maybe acorn?  Even pumpkin would be fun.  Well, I finally have my answer.  Gourds!  Anybody ever cook a gourd?  Well, my home grown gourds will be the centerpiece of my Thanksgiving table, as long as they don’t rot by then!

Another Installment of Samisms

DSC_0703Following is another installment of “Samisms”  - a few sound bytes uttered by Sam (age 5) over the past few months.  Just when I think he’s getting beyond the age of saying the darnedest things, he pops out another. He keeps me laughing…

1. Sam was working on his invitee list for his 5th birthday.  He ended up inviting mostly boys his age, plus a 3rd, 4th and 5th grade girl.  I said:  ”You know some of these kids are quite a bit older than you.”  He looked at me and replied:  ”Mom, age doesn’t matter.”

2. On Yom Kippur, Sam started inquiring about the Jewish holiday.  He then said: “Does being Jewish mean that you have a lot of jewelry?”

3. Sam having stayed home from school one day given a purported tummy ache and on the verge of throwing up, was playing on the computer.  I said, “Sam, I think you’re well enough to go to school”.

“Mom, I’m in a game right now.”

4. As I was driving Sam to school, I was asking him a number of different questions.  Finally he said, “Mom, just concentrate on your driving.”

5. “What’s a billionaire?”  Sam asked his babysitter.  ”A billionaire is someone that has a billion dollars”, she replied.  ”Oh, my parents don’t have a billion dollars”, replied Sam.  ”They actually don’t have a lot of dollars either; they just have a lot of cents.”

Have a great weekend!

Mother’s Day Recap

It’s late on Mother’s Day, and suffice it to say, I’m going to be lazy with this blog entry.  For those of you just dying to know if I got a dog (see Friday’s post)  - no, I did not get a dog, even though my card from Jack (which was a small novelette) did make his desires known once more …


A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

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