Thursday, August 30, 2007


I'm trying to make sure I take advantage of all the things Lyra and I can do together before she is mobile. This week some friends from NJ were camping on the Cape. They wanted to know if we could stop down for a day at the beach. I would be in the car potentially six-plus hours (RT) to do that, and I'm supposed to keep Lyra out of the sun. I'd been reading the blog of West Coast Bethany, who just posted gorgeous camping photos of a trip with her four kids, and I was inspired. So, I suggested I come down and have dinner and grab a vacant campsite.

This worked perfectly. There was a site right by them that was available. It's a little challenging driving so far alone with the wee lass, but it was okay. The kids were all in love with Lyra and insisted on attempting to entertain her (even while she was nursing; "Dinner And a show!" one of the kids yelled), we all went out for some delicious lobster, and Lyra and I had an easy night in the tent. I didn't have to walk any of our four gazillion stairs, I got to sleep outside, wake up with a tousle-haired footie-pajamaed cutie smiling at me, and my friends made me pancakes. That's living.

The biggest challenge I found of camping alone at a drive-in campground with a baby, besides the driving, is the decisions to be made around going to the bathroom in the middle of the night.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"Just Bad"

There have of course been about a gazillion things I would have liked to share with my mom since she died. Some are obvious: where I moved, my wedding, lot and lots about my daughter, etc. But this one we would have just talked about for weeks. Here's the story:

My mom's side of the family comes from many generations of respectable and intelligent and well-traveled Mainers with a glaring exception. My mom had a "just bad" cousin she absolutely hated. I should point out, that even as a young woman in great conflict with my mother I was aware that she had an uncannily accurate judge of character. She summed up friends and boyfriends of mine after meeting them for 20 minutes with comments that were often spot-on. And, regarding her cousin, my mom's brother noted to me the other day that everyone knew "he should have been locked up in jail or the nuthouse for at least the last 60 years." (The cousin is 62.)

I have three main memories of this guy, my second cousin. One is that at one point while my parents were traveling and my grandparents were staying with my brother and I, we had to attend his very long and very boring wedding (and I don't believe the marriage lasted too long). The other is that one time (it may have been my great-grandmother's funeral) I watched him entice my brother to pet a chained up dog at my great-grandmother's farm house and the dog barked viciously and bit my brother's outstretched hand, much to the guy's amusement.

The third is that he showed up unexpectedly at my mom's memorial, looking antisocial, wearing a chauffeur uniform and speaking with a post-stroke slur. Until then, I'd happily forgotten her cousin existed. His elderly mom had made him come; they lived together at the farm.

My mom had had wonderful memories of this farm, and I believe she lived there at one point while her mom was working somewhere else. She often told me a story about being chased by a bull there as a kid. We would visit and I would talk with the farm caretaker and ask a thousand questions "what is an ice house?" "why does that cow have freckles?" and desperately try to think of things to ask Mama Cook, my great grandmother, which always felt awkward like "what were stage coaches like?"

She would send me home with mittens and sweaters she had knit and needlepoint she had done. I sent her a letter when she was sick in the hospital about how much I loved her and my grandfather told me she asked that it be read to her again and then she died. It was a nice thing for me to hear whether it was true or not. She left me her gold watch which I still have, and it still works and it will probably be owned one day by her great-great-great granddaughter.

This week I learned that the lovely news that in May my great aunt was on her deathbed and the "just bad" cousin went psycho over who would own the farm, etc. He told his sister he'd shoot her if she even set foot there. She drove over there and true to his word, he shot her in the neck in front of his daughter and his mom's hospice worker. Her husband was shot in the hand while wrestling the rifle away. She's doing okay, the second cousin is finally locked up, and their mom died two days later. I don't believe anyone bailed him out.

Maybe I'll wind up my watch today and think about happier times at that farm.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Food Cubes

I've been told numerous times that I will never actually make Lyra's baby food. It's too hard, too time consuming, and just a laughable idea when faced with the reality of a kid.

Maybe I'm missing something, because I made a bunch of baby food yesterday and it was unbelievably easy. I have an organic farm share, and this time of year the veggies tend to pile up at our house where two people are eating through a family-sized share. So I steamed some veggies for a few minutes, put them in the food processor, then spooned them into ice cube trays and froze them (She won't be eating real food for a couple of months). This took very little time and required the culinary skill of boiling water.

I ate some of each flavor and would have been happy to consume large quantities of all of it. It was really delicious. And it was pretty: bright cubes of fresh colors that look nothing like the gray "green" veggies I consumed as a child. No sugar, no pesticides, no problem.

(Wish I'd taken this picture in better light so you could see just how bright they are: Summer Squash, Green Beans, Carrots.)

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Love that Dirty Water

Boston is my home. I take pride in how well I can drive around the mayhem of poor driving, badly marked streets, never-ending detours, and more. I know short cuts. I know alternate routes. I often even know where to park. I know how to predict many stupid Boston driving behaviors. Wielding a baby stroller, however, is now causing me more frequent challenges.

Lyra is going to lose her super chubby cheeks one of these days purely from me wheeling her around incredibly bumpy brick sidewalks, cement paths blasted through with roots, potholes, and more. Her little cheeks jiggle like Jello and she locks eyes with me and holds the sides of the car seat. There are the wide stone stoops to get into the heavy doors closed for air conditioning, and the odd lack of helpful strangers. There are the bulidings that don't have to be handicapped or stroller-friendly with elevators because they are just too old. All of this I can handle. The one that drives me insane is the Longfellow Bridge.

The Longfellow Bridge is a Boston icon of sorts. It is the "salt and pepper bridge" to some, so-called for its tall tower construction. It leads from Kendall Square in Cambridge, less than a mile from my house, over the River Chuck into Boston. You cannot hang out in much open space in Kendall Square or East Cambridge. There are playgrounds, and a tiny green space in front of the old Squirrel Nut candy building, but that's about it. Even the path along the river on the Cambridge side is thin and has a few benches, but doesn't open up to lounging-friendly size until around Cambridgeport. However, the Boston side is where the Esplanade is, Community Boating, kid pools, tree-lined river shore, and more. So, all that's needed is to stroll across the Longfellow Bridge and admire the skyline above the famous dirty water. One side is a thin sidewalk, the other is a nice, double wide sidewalk. Easy, right?

Not with a stroller. On both sides the sidewalk suddenly narrows and has a light pole in the center of it. No Cambridge babies or wheelchairs are allowed into Boston it seems. I have to stroll Lyra alongside that noted stupid Boston traffic in the street for a couple of minutes on the narrow sidewalk side and then haul the whole stroller back onto the sidewalk to cross the street.

Or on the wide sidewalk side it narrows even further. I can walk in traffic with the stroller heading toward cars then through two non-traffic light intersections or carry the stroller and kid down three flights of cement stairs into the Mass Eye and Ear parking lot, try not to be hit by a car there, and then cross the intersections.

Due to the recent bridge accident in Minneapolis, I did learn that this bridge is ill-constructed in other ways and is slated for major rehab, during which I'm sure I won't be able to cross at all, and the work is scheduled for several years from now. Lyra, if she still lives here, will be able to walk across on her own steam by then.

At least there are elevators on most of the Red Line stops now, so I can sneak my Cambridge baby into the city as long as I only admire the river from the subway.


Monday, August 06, 2007

No Miles

Sure I've walked plenty, but I didn't get the feeling anyone was going to post their miles with me, so I'm dropping that little attempt at posting daily mileage here. Anyway, my new pedometer is far less reliable than the old one.

Today I walked very few miles. Lyra and I were doing errands and at the "baby friendly" movies again before it started pouring. Lyra has now seen Shrek 3, The Namesake, Sicko, Evening, Oceans 13, Once, and Waitress. We're hoping the Simpsons movie shows up as a baby-friendly movie soon! Anyone seen it?

Here's the Simpsonized version of Lyra, touched up by a graphic artist friend (the Simpsons site wouldn't let me give a baby lots of hair):

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Miles: 4.67, Months: 3

For Lyra's three month birthday, she and I cruised all around Mt. Auburn Cemetery with a friend from a mom group and her daughter. Then we ate lunch and played at home, then we walked to Central Square to pick up my CSA veggies. Then some friends came for dinner and we walked around the neighborhood. I'm having problems with the new pedometer though and had to recheck the mileage on the Google Maps Pedometer. (Start Recording and then double click your way around the map you've chosen.) If you don't have a pedometer and want to post your miles, you can use that for a reasonable estimate (though if you walk around indoors a lot it will miss that).