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Saturday, July 09, 2011

Utilikilts in New Paltz


I've just bought my first (and second, and third) Utilikilt. They're really comfortable, and they appeal to the non-conformist in me.

It turns out there are at least two other guys in NP who wear a UK. I met one at the community pool, and Shirra drove by another yesterday. She didn't have time to stop and chat, but she did manage to roll down her window and shot "I like your kilt!"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Enough Snow Already!

NYC is getting a bit of rain today. For them, Spring has sprung. But just 80 miles north, winter has reared its ugly head once again.

Here it is, the first week of spring 2011, and the forecast is calling for 4 to 9 inches of snow today. In the time I took to write this, our backyard went from green to white. The NOAA winter weather warning prophesied snowfall starting at 10 am, but it actually began at 8:30 this morning. My guess is that this means that the higher estimate -- 9" -- is going to prove to be more accurate.

Perhaps this is to make up for that 70º day we had back in February; that was the day I thought marked the end of Winter 2011. Silly me -- don't I ever learn that a freak warm day does not a season make? In fact, the day after that warm day, the temperature plunged back into the 30s and stayed there for weeks. It warmed up again recently, and once again I thought we were in for nice weather and an early spring, but apparently winter had one more trick up its sleeve.

School was just dismissed early; the big kids are getting sent home at 10:35 after a half day, and Maeve will be let out at noon. I'm just hoping that the fluffy white stuff doesn't really stick; I have to drive into Manhattan around 1 pm today.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Squirrel problems

We've had rodents in the cottage before, but for some reason they weren't a big problem last time. I know we've had a little vole and maybe even a squirrel, but somehow the problem just seemed to go away on its own. Then a few days ago, while cleaning up the lower level, I heard scuttling above me. Shirra was upstairs, but as I expected, she wasn't scuttling. Sure enough, the rodent man who came by today confirmed that we have a squirrel or even a squirrel family. I went to check on the cottage later, and as I walked in, I spotted a puffy tail scurrying up the stairs. There wasn't much I could do, so I left the windows and door open and hoped that the little creature would skeedaddle on its own. There were many scuff marks by the windows in the lower level, and clearly the squirrel was trying to burrow out of the house, so perhaps it will clear out on its own.

If not, there's option B: Pay the rodent folks. They offered, for $700, to close up the chimney vent with mesh covers top and bottom and to bait some live traps that they'd check on for four days straight. Sounds like that might do the trick. Option C is to allow the squirrels to chew thru some wires and burn the cottage down. I'm hoping we can avoid that option.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

It's a Dog's Life


One of the things about moving to the country is that you're hard-pressed to find a reason not to get a dog at some point. It was tough enough avoiding dog ownership when we lived in a big house in Brooklyn. The cats saved me; while they lived, no dog would cross our threshold. One by one, three of them died off. Then, just as our last cat was on his last legs, Shirra got a call from her friend Merry announcing that a dog was available should we want it.

I had last owned a dog when I was three. I should say that my mother owned the dog and that my father tolerated his existence for a few years. When the dog developed urinary tract problems, as many pugs do, we had to send him away to a dog farm, or so my mother told me*. I have no actual memories of Poochie, who departed only a few months after my brother arrived, but apparently I loved him, and photos of that time support the notion that he was cute. But after Poochie disappeared, we owned a succession of wonderful cats, and I grew to admire them on many levels. For the most part, our family's cats have been loving, healthy, and easy to care for.
Why make your life harder by taking in a dog when cats seem so much simpler? I have always looked at dogs much as I look at the belief in a higher power, which is to say: Needlessly complicated and often quite unpleasant.

This brings to mind something I've come to believe about presidential elections. Like many people, I was thrilled that the country could elect a person of color. It won't be long before we elect a woman, and if Palin is elected, then it won't be much longer before we elect an intelligent woman. Next on the list might be a Jew or someone of Asian descent, and perhaps we'll even have a homosexual president in my lifetime, should I live long enough. But we won't elect an atheist until hell has frozen over. As for a president who doesn't love dogs? Hell will have to thaw again first. I have to face facts: This country loves dogs. And I'm living in dog country.

Shirra grew up with a wonderful dog that her family adored, and over the years she petitioned, gently, to add a dog to our home. When we -- and our cats -- lived in Manhattan and Brooklyn, this made little sense and the discussions were short-lived. But the move to New Paltz and the aging state of our last cat allowed the talks to resume. I tried to sound reasonable while deflecting the idea of getting a dog, but that reasonability is what worked against me in the end. Had I simply put my fingers in my ears and repeated, "I hate dogs," then this would have been a closed case.

Jack is a good-looking dog, and even my distaste for his kind does not prevent me from admitting it. He's an Australian Shepherd, a misnomer since the breed actually originates in the US, and compared with his breed, he's exceptionally quiet and well-behaved, lending further proof that he's not Australian.
The kids and Shirra fell in love with him right away, and I did my best to join the love-fest. But having a dog is like arranging a threesome: It will never go exactly as you'd planned and someone is bound to be disappointed. I took him for walks and eventually took him for unicycle rides on our road. He seemed to love the exercise, and I was having a good time, but before long, Merry informed us that Jack would be better off walking than jogging. It was something to do with his delicate tummy.

Had Jack joined us as a puppy, I might have been swayed. I would have memories of him cuddling adorably with the kids or hopping adorably around the house. I would have seen him scamper adorably around the garden while I washed my car, and he would have been adorable as he shook the water off himself after falling, adorably, into the bucket of suds. Instead, we inherited a middle aged dog who needs several medications a day in order to combat his intestinal problems. It's the marital equivalent of missing the honeymoon and skipping right to the part where you're too lazy to leave the room if you have to pass gas. Come to mention it, Jack has reached that point, too.

Part of my reluctance, all of these years, was the idea that owning a dog means walking a dog, which in turn means cleaning up after a dog. New York City sidewalks are repulsive enough as it is, but back in my childhood, my natural aversion to dogs was only reinforced by the many times I had to clean my shoes after stepping in one of the many poops that seemed to leap at my loafers or sneak beneath my sneakers.

When I was a kid, there was an odd woman who lived in my building named Fran Lee. During her 60s, she became an outspoken opponent of dog poop. Apparently she became so obsessed with poop that she collected bags of it. Then one day, at a meeting in my building, she made her point by bringing out a bag of poop, and I'm not sure what happened next, but I do know that she was evicted from the building.

According to my mother, Lee actually dumped some poop on a table in front of a woman who disagreed with her. In the end, however, Lee was able to bring about changes that led to the pooper scooper law. Finally, people were forced to clean up after their dogs. I've never actually heard of someone getting a ticket for failure to scoop a poop, but the law has been hugely effective in cleaning up city sidewalks. No such law governs my back yard, however. We have a fenced-in area outside the back porch, but I won't step foot out there. It's messy enough in good weather, but in winter, the snow and ice get covered in brown and yellow spots that turn our yard into my -- and Fran Lee's -- vision of hell.

One day, our unhealthy dog will be nothing more than a complicated memory, but we'll always have our $2,000 fence and some really fertile grass that it encloses.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

3-D Word Hunt of February 6, 2011

Will Shortz has put out another of my favorite puzzles in this week's NY Times Magazine (p. 44). The object is to find as many linked 5-letter words as you can. You can reuse letters in a single word, but you can't double a letter. For example, in the example this week (at left), you can spell DARER or DARED but not ADDER.

Shortz writes that in this puzzle, you're doing well to find 20 and very well to find 25. 30 is excellent, and he claims that there are 42 in total, of which 11 are pretty obscure*.

On my own, I found these:
ANGER, ANGLE, AMEND
BINGE, BINGO, BINIT*
CAMEL
DARED, DARER
EARED, EMEND*, ENDED, ENDER
GNATS
LEMAN*
MANGE, MANGO, MATIN*
PARED, PARER, PARLE*
RARED, RARER, REDED*, REGNA*
SCAMP, SCATS, STAMP, STAND, STANE*, STANG*, STATS, STING
TANGO, TINEA*, TINGE, TITAN

I used a word-search program to find these additional words:
ANEAR*, ANELE*, MANAT, PARAE*, RADAR

That comes to 42. I think that my 13 starred words are pretty obscure, so either he and I differ on what's 'obscure' or our lists vary from each other.

Now, in the past, Shortz and I have disagreed on the total, and I've been more right than wrong. Because he uses Merriam-Webster 11 and I'm using the list of acceptable Scrabble words (which mainly derive from MW11), we sometimes have differing lists, but he's always left off a few.



Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Stuck in NYC: The storm of February 2011

I've been stuck in Manhattan for the past two nights because road conditions have been too snowy or too dangerous for me to make the trips between NYC and NP.


Monday was the first night of this storm. While Manhattan only got a sprinkling of white stuff, New Paltz got over a foot of powdery snow, and I needed to be in downtown NYC by noon on Tuesday, so I stayed at my mom's. The snow in New Paltz stopped, and there was a pause for a few hours while Shirra dug her car out from under what had fallen, but then Phase Two of the storm hit last night, dumping several inches of ice on the roads, making the trip home too dangerous to risk. And as it happened, I needed to be in NYC by 1pm anyway, so it made sense to stay in Manhattan once again.

I did manage to see some movies and to hang out with my mother for a few days, and that was nice. I saw "127 Hours," which was riveting and even better than expected, and then last night my mom and I went to "The Fighter." The movie was especially touching for her because her father, gentle soul that he was, loved prizefighting (and wrestling). After the film, she told me about Grandpa Sam taking her to see Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom, a famous Jewish boxer from the 1930s and 40s.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Unicycling in the Snow

I've been putting on weight, and watching what I eat hasn't helped (mainly because I've been watching myself eat a lot of late snacks). I decided to start exercising again.

For years, when we lived in Manhattan and even more after we moved to Brooklyn, I used to unicycle many miles a week. At the maximum, when I was living in Prospect Park South in Brooklyn and working out of my mom's apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I rode 27 miles a day at least three (and usually ) fou
r days a week. But when we moved to New Paltz, my riding diminished initially to 4 miles a day and then, about a year ago, to almost zero. Almost unthinkably, there are days when I don't ride even one block.



In 2007, I signed up for a unicycle race across Nova Scotia, and after months of training, my pals and I rode about 170-180 miles each over a span of 5 days in the summer of '08. A few months after my return (and after recovering from various aches and pains including tendinitis in two different spots), I rode 89 miles on a September day, but I didn't ride a lot after that because a few months earlier, I'd bought my Smart Car. It's so small that I never have to search for parking spaces more than a block or two from my work, which means I can get out of the car and walk rather than ride.



A few weeks ago, this lack of action and increase in snacking brought about a scary sight on my scale: 185. When I turned 40, I decided to monitor my food really carefully and, aided by light exercise, I was able to drop from a high of 197 to about 165. I never want to see 190 again, and I'd really like to dip back under 170. With that in mind, I took to the trail. I rode our rode up and down our snowy road five times this morning and then, this afternoon, another three times. I thought it was about a half-mile each way, but according to an app that measures distance, it weighed in about about a third of a mile. All told, I rode about 6 miles today.

I'm going to keep this up as long as I can and see how it all goes.

New Paltz Restaurants: Suruchi

One of our favorite places to eat in New Paltz is Suruchi. I love the 'booths' (not really visible on the left side of the photo) . You tuck your shoes under your seats and sit cross-legged around a large table. The menu offers meat, vegetarian, and vegan choices in mild, medium, and high levels of spiciness. The appetizers, breads, and dinners are delicious, and they're so filling that we never fail to return home with enough for several lunches over the following days.

Tonight we ordered garlic naan to accompany our papadam, and Maeve ate white rice with various sauces. Emmett had a delicious entree I'd never tried before. I can't recall the name of it; I'm not a food critic, after all, and not much of a reporter. I had vegetable curry and Shirra had chicken curry, and Fiona, who's braces make it hard for her to eat certain foods, did quite well with a salad and some mulligatawny soup. We finished with some deserts that sounded a bit better than they tasted. One was a sort of mango ice cream that was overly frozen and barely thawed even as we tried the other, a type of fried dough ball that might have been tastier if it weren't bathed in some type of odd sauce. Maeve and I finished with a mango lasse, a smoothie that is one of our favorite drinks on earth.

The restaurant is currently open just Friday thru Sunday; we've gone there a few times when it's been closed, and they shut down for a few months over the winter. I'm glad they've reopened.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Snow Like Crème Brûlée

Today I cracked.

I would never have called shoveling 'fun,' but there was something about it that I always got a kick out of. People growing up in New York City rarely get a chance to shovel, and in the first four winters here in New Paltz, I always welcomed a chance to suit up in my tallest boots and hit the great outdoors to shovel for awhile. Sometimes I had to finish up the work of the plow man, sometimes I felt like making a luge run for the kids' sleds. Once in a while, I just felt like shoveling some snow. There was even one afternoon where I got started trying to dig out the driveway and found myself shoveling for so long that Shirra phoned to make sure I hadn't had a heart attack. I'd made it as past our driveway, past the playground, around the bend, past our neighbor's house, past the bridge, and nearly to the layby about a quarter mile away.

But this year, we've been hit hard. The timing of the first blizzard was perfect: The day after Christmas. Though we got over two feet of snow, it was light and fluffy stuff that was perfect for sledding at first and perfect for snowballs and forts a few days later. We visited my mom during the immediate aftermath of the storm, and when we found a parking spot on day one of our stay, I had to shovel for a minute before we were nestled safely next to the sidewalk, but the shoveling just added to the adventure. When it turned out that the City did its worst job ever in snow removal over the next few days, I ended up having to shovel the car out of a full-body cast thanks to the suddenly overzealous plowmen of the Sanitation Department... but that just made for a better story, too. My love of shoveling was as yet undiminished.

But that was back in late December. Then it snowed again a week later. This time, my students were back in school and I was back in business, and this meant driving into the City with a shovel in the back of my car. That shovel got plenty of use two weeks later, when the City's snow started to melt and then to freeze, creating sooty mounds of black ice, snow, and sludge. Luckily I was often able to do a bit of shoveling to get into a spot one day and then have the same spot waiting for me the next day: the advantage of having a Smart Car. At this point, I'd have still called myself a happy shoveler. At home, I didn't mind grabbing one of our many shovels -- whichever seemed best suited for the job at hand -- and going at it for five or ten minutes.

It wasn't until two days ago that I met some shoveling that I really didn't enjoy. I was in Manhattan, and I had found a smallish spot that only a Smart Car or a very aggressive Mini Cooper could possibly fit into. I prepared to back into the spot, but before putting the car into reverse, I figured I'd better shovel up some of the frozen clumps of ice that had taken up residence in my future parking spot. It so happened that it was raining softly at the time. As a result of the drizzle and the warmish temperature, there were wide rivers of cold water rushing westward towards drains that were already blocked by snow. The shoveling was hard going, and I was out of breath when I had finally managed to get most of the frozen grey stuff out of the street and into the sidewalk tree-planter next to the car. This last bit gave me some satisfaction as it clearly pissed off a doorman who could have chosen to help clear the street in front of his own building but who decided instead to make angry faces at my from inside his warm, dry lobby. At this point, sore and tired, I would have put myself squarely in the 'undecided' group if a pollster had happened to ask my opinions on shoveling.


Then yesterday, Shirra asked me to clear a path from our driveway to the propane tank near the house. While the distance was no greater than thirty feet long and two feet wide, the snow had turned our lawn into a huge crème brûlée. I tried various shovels, but in the end, I realized that I needed to choose the proper technique, too. In order to combat snow of this nature -- frozen on top and powdery beneath -- I needed to crack the top layer of ice and then scoop up the soft powder underneath. This turned each square foot of snow into a two-part job and essentially doubled the required work. My 60 square feet of snow became a 120-square-foot task, and that soon turned into a 500-square-foot burden when Shirra reminded me that I also needed to shovel a path from our road to the cottage.

Several Advils and some hot packs later, I've finally decided that the romance of shoveling is behind me. I just don't dig it anymore.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Generator!

We have a generator! It wasn't as easy as buying a generator.

1. Purchase generator.
This isn't as easy a step as it sounds. How much power did we need? What's a good model? Do we want it to be gas- or diesel- or propane-powered, or is there another option? So this took us back to step zero.
0. Speak to electrician.
We got the name of an excellent electrician, and he came over to consult with us. Based on his recommendations, we went to the nearby Lowe's and got an 8000-watt, gasoline-powered model that holds enough gallons of fuel to last us a long time. It turns out that a propane-powered one would have been just fine, but John the Electric recommended the gas one because it's so easy to refuel in case the propane runs out.
2. Have someone hook up the generator.
I'd come to expect that you could just buy a generator and hook it up to your house somehow. Nope. John the Electric had to install a panel inside our house. Then he had to connect the generator to a small box that he installed on the outside of the house. The interior panel was set up to allow us to have the generator power different parts of the house, at our discretion.
3. Decisions, decisions.
This was the easy part: decide what to power in the event of an outage. We opted for the kitchen/dining area as well as the living room. The panel gave us a total of six fuses to control, but unfortunately, our well-water pump requires two of them (it's a 220 volt appliance, rather than the usual 110). Happily, because the entire living room is hooked up to one fuse, we can watch TV, check the internet, run our stove and fridge, and have on most of the downstairs lights. We can flush toilets and run the dishwasher. It's not that we'd be doing all of those things in the event of a blackout (I'm sure we could get by without the dishwasher), but it's nice to know that, should we lose power, we can still take a pizza pocket out of the freezer and heat it up in the microwave.

We just had our first snowstorm of the 2010-2011 winter, but no one lost power because the stuff that fell was as powdery as sugar. You couldn't make a snowball with it, let alone pull down any power lines with the stuff. But maybe we'll have a chance to test the generator in a few months. I'm not looking forward to it, but at least we'll be more prepared than last year!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Girlyman: Awesome. Generator: Ordered. Chicks: Gone

Forgive me readers, it's been 5 months since my last confession.

They've been pretty busy. Fiona started high school, Emmett started middle school, and Maeve started to read. The weather has changed seasons twice, or more often than that, if you include a few bizarre weeks in October.

GIRLYMAN
Planning for Girlyman's arrival and concert was a small-scale version of preparing for a wedding. You do a lot of shopping and organizing, you hope for good weather, and you breathe a sigh of relief when it isn't canceled at the last minute. Everything came off wonderfully.

The band stayed chez Stone for 3 nights. This required beds, and that required a trip to Ikea. When we discovered after the first trip that one of the beds wouldn't fit up the stairs, this necessitated Trip 2. Pillowcases and little sundries called for Trip 3. One of the advantages to commuting from NP to NYC is that I can head over to Ikea any weekday, never having to worry about going out of my way or hitting lots of traffic (or shoppers), but three trips in one week was still a bit trying. In the end, however, we made a great place for them to stay. The only important thing we couldn't get in advance was a shower curtain rod to fit in our oddly-shaped bathroom; it has two sloping ceilings. I thought that a trip to Lowe's with a photo of the bathroom would do the trick, but the salesman I spoke with said that the best I could do on short notice was to MacGyver something out of existing parts in their store. So the band did their best to keep the bathroom from getting soaked during their showers, and it all worked out fine. The rod's on order.

The concert was a hoot. The band warmed up (literally -- the sun was right in their faces until just before the show started) and then went on from 7:15 till 8:30. They played a great set that featured many (most!) of our favorite songs. One funny moment was during Doris's "Bird on the Wire" when she sang "There goes that damn bird" just as a huge heron flew overhead in wide circles. They dedicated a song to Jillian and Fiona, since they were indirectly responsible for bringing the concert together; it was Jillian who first played a Girlyman song for Fiona, who first played it for me. Before and after the concert, the group hobnobbed with our few guests and enjoyed food from our new grill (and the used one we'd just bought at a yard sale). After the show, we also ended up with many bottles of beer and hard lemonade, most of which is still around since neither of us likes beer.

One of the lovely things about the concert was that they performed right from the porch that we'd just had built a few months before. It was a lovely setting for a show.

GENERATOR (and BASEMENT)
After the ice storm that knocked out our power lines (taking our heat, water, and phones), we decided we needed a generator, but since the weather was fine and our funds weren't, this decision had to wait... until this week. Having finally saved enough to afford a nice outdoor battery, we headed over to that Lowe's again. The generator weighs in at over 300 pounds, so we're having it delivered next week, at which point our electrician will hook it up to a power grid. It's a gas-powered model, which saves on start-up costs and is quite easy to maintain. We're not happy about having to buy a generator, but it's money spent towards peace of mind, and it will probably come in handy a few times during its life.

Of course, with the generator comes the electrical panel that you want to connect the generator to. And with that panel comes the electrician. We found a great guy in the area who is also going to help us make the basement more useful by putting in a few outlets down there (currently there are only two!) so that we can move the laundry machines down there and make better use of that space. Right now the basement is sort of an insane storage area that must be navigated carefully, but in a few months, we're hoping to have a ping pong table, two sewing machines, and the treadmill all set up in there.

CHICKS
We quickly gave up on the chicken-rearing idea after we saw just how much work (and cost) these little birds were amounting to. We managed to get a chicken coop nearly for free, but then we'd also have to put up some fencing, and that could end up being pretty costly. Having your own eggs is rarely economical, it turns out -- I read somewhere that the typical store-bought organic-farm egg is about 50 cents while the typical home-grown egg is about $2.50 or so. And we really don't eat that many eggs. So with little ado, we gave the chicks to the folks we got the coop from -- a good trade. For pets, we still have the dog Jack, the two cats, and three of the guinea pigs. RIP Ambrose -- our beloved hedgehog -- who died just a day or two after the Girlyman show.

Friday, August 06, 2010

My Arthroscopy


This past June, I went back to my doctors in Kingston for the zillionth time since my knee first start acting up last October. OK, maybe it was only 8 visits, but it was over a long enough period that we weren't seeing any lasting improvements. If I took things really easy, my right knee was fine. But as soon as I did any moderate exertion -- running a few feet, unicycling a few blocks, and so on -- it started hurting again. Sometimes the pain came instantly, often followed by noticeable swelling, and sometimes the symptoms showed up the next day. The doctors admitted that I wasn't healing and finally ordered an MRI.

These days, many doctors are quick to order tests and surgeries; after all, they pay a lot better than office visits. But my docs are pretty conservative -- almost annoyingly so. And I wasn't in great pain for the most part, so we all played it safe and waited. But when the MRI came back positive for a tear of my medial meniscus, I was scheduled for surgery just days away. I wound up opting for a slightly later date because I was concerned that the operation would have put me out of commission for too long while I was still working with students in NYC. I chose July 8.

Shirra drove me to the hospital in Kingston (just across from the doctors' office) on the morning of the 8th and came back for me that afternoon at 2. In the meantime, a nurse shaved the area around my knee and chatted about the difficulties of working in that particular hospital, which isn't unionized. By 10am I was wheeled to a sort of waiting area near the nurses' station, and 20 boring minutes later, an anesthesiologist explained that he was going to give me a mild sedative.

The next thing I knew, I was back in my room with my leg covered in both gauze and, underneath, three small bandages. Apparently I don't drink enough alcohol to put up any fight when it comes to anesthesiology (this according to a woman calling from the hospital who informed me that, in her experience, the drinkers tend to do better than the teetotalers when it comes to post-op nausea). Back home, I was woozy and struggled mightily just to read a few words in a book. I eventually chose to attack a Sunday Times crossword puzzle. I would read a question and then fall back to sleep while coming up with the answer. When I awoke moments later, I'd pen in the word, look at another clue, and fall back to sleep. This went on for hours.

I had rehab scheduled for the following morning, a Friday, and by the next Monday I was off my crutches, doctor's orders. The doc also took out my stitches and showed me cool pictures of the inside of my knee. I didn't even have a limp, and within another week, I was back on my unicycle. It's amazing how fast a person can recover from arthroscopic surgery.

Now if I can just get my left knee into shape....

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Fuck for a Dollar

I love being able to find lyrics on the internet at a moment's notice. It used to be that you had to own the liner notes, which meant buying the album, and I remember being disappointed whenever I'd get a new record and the sleeve was blank. How were we to know what Queen was singing in Bohemian Rhapsody?

Later, we all found that most CDs had the lyrics printed inside the cover of the disk, but then came the days of Napster and, eventually, iTunes. Gone were the days of liner notes, records, or even disks, and gone, therefore, were the printed lyrics. How were we supposed to know what Whitney Houston was singing in "I Will Always Love You"? So I was thrilled to learn that there are plenty of websites devoted to distributing lyrics (for free!) -- tho many of them contain errors, as I have noted in a previous blog entry.

Last month I was listening to some of my daughter's favorite tunes by a group called My Chemical Romance. In "Mama," an antiwar ditty, I couldn't make out some of the words, so I looked them up. I came across an F-bomb that I hadn't recalled hearing in all the times I'd heard the song:

"But there's shit that I've done with this fuck of a gun. / You would cry out your eyes all along."

I listened to the tune on my iPhone. The word was definitely missing; in its place was a lengthy pause. I mentioned this to Fiona, and we both agreed about how annoying it is that we'd accidentally downloaded the expurgated version. A few days later, while we listened to the song as I drove her to school, I noticed that this time, the 'fuck' was loud and clear.

Me: "You paid the extra dollar so that you could hear the word 'fuck' in the song?"
Fi: "Yeah."
Me: "Good for you, Fiona. I would have done the same thing."

I love the fact that she just had to have the correct version. It wasn't that she needed to hear the word. We are totally open about language in our house. It's that she couldn't bear having a version of the song that the artist hadn't intended.

Sometimes, a 'fuck' is worth a dollar.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Mini-Update

1. We still don't have a generator.

2. After this afternoon, we won't have chicks (or chickens) either. We decided to hold off for a year, so we're giving the adolescent birds to a friend. We didn't quite realize all of the start-up costs involved in having chickens. Even after we got the free coop, there was still a lot of fencing and other material to purchase and set up. I think we just saved ourselves hundreds of dollars and man-hours in costs and labor.

3. Girlyman is coming to play chez Stone in late June. Woo hoo!

Monday, May 03, 2010

How Much Do I Love Girlyman?

Girlyman is a folk-pop group hailing from Atlanta. I first came across their tight, three-part harmonies thanks to my 14yo Fiona. The group has been around for nearly a decade, but we missed them all the years they were performing in Manhattan and Brooklyn (where they had their 2nd and 3rd shows, ever). We missed them even when they performed in New Paltz three years ago at Unison. Darn. I think part of my love for them is the way it connects me to my a capella days at Vassar (1985-8) and Columbia (1990-5). Those were some good times.

But now I'm catching up, with a vengeance.

I've played and re-played some of the songs several dozen times in the past ten days, as this iTunes chart (from my iPhone) shows.

I have a crush on them. I checked out their website, read their blog, and have followed them on facebook and twitter. I've read articles about and watched them interviewed in Slate.

So ... I decided that we need to do our best to support them. I offered to host them at a show here in New Paltz during one of their off days. Amazingly, they accepted!

More details to follow.