Gone Trippin’

This Wise Woman is off trippin’ … college trippin’, that is.  We’re checking out six colleges in seven days. Fortunately, Wise Daughter has focused her search on schools in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina versus the Northeast. Otherwise, we’d need canoes to do the campus tours. (Hang in there, Wise Women from Rhode Island and Massachusetts!)

I’ll save my ponderings of this experience for a time when I’m NOT typing at a hotel desk and praying the glare of the laptop’s screen won’t wake up my kids. (Cranky teens + long car rides = unhappy Wise Parents).

In the meantime, enjoy these seasonal photos …

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The Real Story of the Three Bears

ThreeBearsWhat a week in Washington….almost unbelievable…. and I think between Elaine and myself we’ll have to share some thoughts and hear your thoughts on the current state of affairs.  I still have a difficult time wrapping my arms around the whats and the whys – and part of the distress of the current situation is the fact that the news is being driven by emotional, irrational folks who don’t understand the full story and its implications (this includes many of our Washington politicians).

So on that note, given it’s a Friday, I thought I would conclude the week on a much lighter note.  A friend sent me an amusing email yesterday about the REAL story behind the Three Bears.  It reminds me of a children’s book we have titled “The Real Story of The Three Pigs” which is written from the wolve’s perspective.  It is hysterical and a fun book to read with children.  Similarly, this is Mama Bear’s take on those empty porridge bowls:

Baby Bear goes downstairs, sits in his small chair at the table.  He looks into his small bowl.  It is empty. “Who’s been eating my porridge?” he squeaks…

Daddy Bear arrives at the big table and sits in his big chair.  He looks into his big bowl and it is also empty.  ”Who’s been eating my porridge?” he roars.

Mama Bear puts her head through the serving hatch from the kitchen and yells, “For God’s sake, how many times do I have to go through this with you idiots?  It was Mama Bear who got up first.  It was Mama Bear who woke everyone in the house.  It was Mama Bear who made the coffee.  It was Mama Bear who unloaded the dishwasher from last night and put everything away.  It was Mama Bear who swept the floor in the kitchen.  It was Mama Bear who went out in the cold early morning air to fetch the newspaper and croissants.  It was Mama Bear who set the damn table.  It was Mama Bear who walked the bloody dog, cleaned the cat’s litter tray and gave them their food, and refilled their water.

And now that you’ve decided to drag your sorry bear-arses downstairs and grace Mama Bear with your grumpy presence, listen carefully, because I’m only going to say this once…

“I haven’t made the  ****ing porridge yet.”

Enjoy the weekend!

The Final Chapter on the Cock a Doodle Doers

DSC_0658If you remember back to early January, I wrote about our New Year’s vacation in Vermont, which included hatching six new chicks (all offspring of our Michael Jackson roo who met an untimely death in December).

For the past almost three months these six chicks have been maturing in our basement – in a little pen.  And they’re quite large now.  Three have matured into roosters, one is definitely a hen, and two are he/shes, and I’m praying that they turn out to be girls.  I must say over the past few weeks standing in my kitchen, the sweet sounds of a chirping canary drift in from one door, while cock a doodle dos come in through another.  (Yes, it’s time for a dog).  The basement is a disaster, and everything is covered in a nice film of dust – a combination of the fine meal food the chickens eat and their dander.

So as you can imagine, I started out once again on a journey to find homes for these roosters, which is never an easy task.  Finally I got a lead, and an affirmatory that my roosters could have a home.  So my good husband, after being away all week on a business trip, left this morning with three roosters in the back of the car, crooning along the Long Island Expressway out to a place called Manorville – about 2 hours from our house.  Their new abode is rather nice and comfortable, and I’m sure they will be happy.

Now we’re all back home, and it’s peaceful (other than the four children that also live here).  Since we elected to keep the he/shes, with the assumption that they are in fact shes, I will be quite distressed if another cock a doodle do echos across the backyard.

Gotta Hand It To You …

Palin-Tea-Party

Exhibit A: Check out Sarah Palin consulting notes written on her hand as she addresses a Tea Party crowd last weekend.

Lesson Learned: Never, ever write reminder notes on body parts. Some bloggers have questioned Palin’s intelligence given her need to write down her talking points (e.g., “Lift American Spirits”). Not me. I constantly write reminders to myself about simple, everyday tasks (e.g., this a.m.’s list “blog, car, lasagna, call re: derm appt”) and, like Palin, spell-out in advance the take-away points I want an audience to remember when I give a presentation. Palin’s problem was that she relied on a method (writing on one’s hand) that comes off as juvenile and a bit sneaky. Any other writing surface would have worked - note card, post-it, corner of newspaper, napkin, Kleenex, and, of course, paper. Bottom line - my son writing on his arm to remember to bring in lunch money is O.K. An aspiring leader of the free world furtively consulting her palm to recall her “inspiring” rhetoric is NOT O.K.

gibbs-press-secretaryExhibit B: Now watch Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs later poking fun at Palin’s use of “hand-written” notes.

Lesson Learned: People are either innately “Mean Girls,” or they’re not. Gibbs is not. For those who are not naturally snarky, it is very difficult to pull off snarky humor. (You can hear the groans in the press room at Gibbs’ cheap shot.) Listen, people who can quickly come up with a biting/sarcastic/wry/cynical quip have had a lifetime of practice. If you must plan in advance and put effort into being a Mean Girl, don’t bother. You’ll be the one who ends up looking silly. (Alas, as a person who is not quick on her feet, this is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way.)

Wise Women, what’s your reaction to Exhibit A or Exhibit B? And, if you’re one who jots down reminders on your hand or arm, please feel free to amend the “lesson learned.”

A Pondering on Octomom

SM05cover_LGSince Elaine has been posting about such wise topics this week, I thought I would bring it down a notch.  I sit here thinking about Octomom’s new beach body.  Have you seen it on the cover of Star Magazine?  (No, don’t worry, I’m not a subscriber). She has dropped 145 pounds since giving birth to her eight babies.  I think to myself I did buy that Beach Body DVD set last May although no beach body did I attain in 2009 … I have to start working on that plan for 2010 now (work and children aside).

So back to Octomom.  How did she do it?  First, with no help from Nip and Tuck – just three hour daily work-outs at the gym of course.  Right.  Makes sense.  What?  How did she get away from her family of fourteen children (and no husband) for three hours a day?  Oh, her two nannies could take care of all those children.  Oh, OK. Makes sense.  What?  Two nannies?  Has our whacked out need for reality TV already made her a mint?  I guess so.  And I guess enough money to keep her out of the house shopping, working-out, and managing her public profile – while the 14 mint-makers lay about at home with the hired help.

New Airport Security Measures – a Must Read

This is hysterical.  What a brilliant solution to our airport security and health care crisis!

www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2010/01/full-body-scans-to-double-as-annual-checkups.html?printable=

Got Chicks?

DSC_0702At the risk of making you suffer through yet another blog on chickens (my daughter tells me I write way too much about them), I do need to update you on two rather momentous events that occurred over the past month.

First, 2009  was a really bad year for Michael Jackson.  In early December as I was walking up Park Avenue with some girl friends, my cell phone rang. On the other end was my daughter who was exclaiming “Mom, guess what happened” over and over again.  She kept pushing me to guess and then told me Sam was crying.  At this point I was bordering on hysteria.  I finally found out that our singing rooster, Michael Jackson, who I had been diligently trying to find a new home for, was found dead in the coop by my oldest son David.  ”OMG, Michael Jackson died” – I blurted out to my friends. They looked at me with strange stares.  ”Anne, that was 6 months ago.”

Broken neck.  Unfortunate coop malfunction … or murder I mused?  The metal feeder, which hangs from the ceiling and is suspended off the floor by an inch or so, had been knocked down, presumably falling over on MJ, who must have been enjoying his evening meal.  It was all a rather odd circumstance – the irony that this would happen …. and the victim would be the noisy one.  In the first 24 hours I was convinced someone must have gone in there, but my son, who hasn’t developed my level of cynicism, disagreed.

Well whatever happened, another MJ left this world, and left three very sad boys behind, and I must admit a couple of sad parents.  Although we quickly adjusted to the ease of walking into the coop without worrying that a protective Lakenvelder rooster might attack.

So then began part 2 of the story.  David started bringing eggs in from the coop and placing them under a heat lamp, until he could borrow an incubator from a friend.  Apparently eggs can be fertile for up to five days after a rooster has been in the vicinity.  While the first few eggs under the heat lamp became hard boiled, he ended up with nine eggs in the incubator. All this happened with little discussion, no planning or thoughts about the implications of just what this might lead to.

I silently calculated the days to figure out when we might have a hatch (21 days) – December 31st. This meant figuring out how to get the incubator up to Vermont for our vacation after Christmas.  So there we left after Christmas – four kids, 2 snowboards, 4 pairs of skis, lots of gear and food, and one egg incubator plugged into the car lighter.

On December 30th, we woke up to a bird singing outside our bedroom window….or so we thought.  We quickly realized that we were hearing peeps coming from the incubator.  After a long, hard day, that chick finally hatched around 6PM.  David was pacing like a nervous father, trying to get everything set up properly.  Twenty-four hours later, five more had hatched. And guess what?  I think three of them are roosters.  Lord help me.

I won’t begin to bore you with my worries now – like, what the heck do we do with six more chickens?  It’s too cold for them to be outside for quite a while, we need to figure out if we need to build another coop, and what about the roosters?  (and if I couldn’t get rid of a beautiful rare Lakenvelder rooster, how do I ever get rid of rooster mutts?)!

Hell, I might as well throw in the towel and say yes to getting that dog now.  Bring on the chaos! (Please feel free to talk me out of this).

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Pass The Duct Tape (XMAS Tree Mishaps)

fixed-it-grillHow hard is it to purchase and put up a Christmas tree? For some inexplicable reason, our family seems to be tree-challenged.

We’ve had a few years of looping rope over the car to secure the tree on the roof. Only to discover that, while the tree was secure, we had inadvertently tied the car doors shut. (two times).

There are the times we had to stick our arm out the window and maintain a death grip on the Christmas tree to prevent it from slipping off, despite being tied to the roof (only fell off into the road one time).

We then learned to keep the rope from these trips home and use it to tie the tree up to some type of furniture to prevent the tree from leaning and tipping over (too many times to count).

You would think now, with an artificial tree, our days of XMAS tree mishaps would be over. But this year, we can’t get figure out how to plug together the string of lights on our pre-lit tree. In our defense, there are A LOT of plugs, but we’ve managed to figure it out in years past. Each of us has spent at least 20 minutes plugging different iterations of plugs together to find that magic combination that will make the whole tree light up (like a Christmas tree, natch).

I share these stories not to spotlight our family’s mechanical incompetence, but to explain why this site, passed along by Wise Woman Laurie, struck such a chord with me: There, I Fixed It. Each day, photos are posted celebrating “mankind’s eternal struggle to hammer square pegs into round holes (with duct tape.)” Obviously, the shopping cart/grill combo above was a stroke of brilliance. Check out these other ingenious examples below.

And, if anyone has any tips for our Christmas tree, I’m all ears. (Plan B is to hang regular lights leftover from years past on the allegedly pre-lit tree.)

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Michael Jackson (MJ) Rooster for Thanksgiving?

rooster-crowing-2For any of you following my previous blogs about my foray into backyard chicken farming, you know that I’m trying to find a home for my rooster – an unassuming, cute chick who grew a coxcomb and long tail feathers as s(he) grew, much to our surprise.  I’ve talked to Nature Centers, other backyard chicken enthusiasts, put ads on craigslist, backyard poultry message boards, etc.  While I’ve had two nibbles (even one from North Carolina) – no bites so far.  I have discovered through research that MJ is a rare Lakenvelder rooster – and quite a coveted bird by those who own roosters…. Interested yet?

Well, much to my amusement, two of my neighbors passed along “chicken” articles to me this past weekend.  One was from our backyard neighbor who we don’t know well – and I was quite concerned that MJ may be a little too noisy for her.  On the contrary, she told us she loved hearing the rooster, and doesn’t want us to get rid of it at all.  The article she passed along was about the growing trend to have backyard poultry – an article published in The New Yorker.

My other neighbor gave me an article just published in The Week magazine entitled Eating Arlene.  Arlene the rooster’s owner was in exactly our situation.  Bought some chicks, and one grew into a rooster.  After rationalizing the organic ways of the likes of Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) and Barbara Kingsolver (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) – who both raise animals for consumption, this rooster owner decided to sacrifice her bird, and made Chicken Soup a la Arlene.  I must admit my stomach turned when I read the graphic details – I could never imagine doing such a thing.

So back to my neighbor….is she subtly trying to tell me something? She also casually mentioned to me in the last week that she’s thinking of getting a herding dog, and her breeder is concerned that there are chickens next door.  If this dog were ever to get loose, he may just be enjoying MJ Fricassee for dinner.  Imagine, going to the lengths of getting a dog, just to get rid of my rooster.  Obviously she’s hoping that I cook him up first.

Voted Best Commercial in Europe

Need a laugh today?  Watch this commercial – voted the best commercial in Europe!

...this thing that we call "failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down.
Mary Pickford

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