Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Canine In Memoriam


It seems appropriate that today, the eve of the day set aside to remember fallen soldiers, we should be saying goodbye to Otty.

Otty was, of course, a dog, but a fierce soldier nonetheless in defense of Blackrock. Possibly the fiercest of them all, as a matter of fact. She barked at ospreys and other large birds that she considered a threat, as well as those suspicious bicycles on the road and anyone who had the temerity to run or walk past the house. She attacked raccoons, woodchucks, and possums without fear. She was the one who dragged back so much delicious carrion in the fall left behind by hunters.

She was a good dog to have around.

Unfortunately, she got sick on Thursday. The MiL thought she had a fever and decided to call the vet in the morning if she wasn't better on Friday morning. She wasn't, so the MiL made an appointment to take her to the vet at 11 a.m. Friday, but at 10 a.m., Otty was nowhere to be found. We looked everywhere on the property, and the MiL even searched the gully, but we couldn't find her.

A. found her this morning. She was under the forsythia hedge in the back. The MiL had looked there, but I guess Otty had crawled in there after that. She was dead, and had been for some time. 

A. buried her on the edge of the garden by the blackberry bushes, the only spot where the ground wasn't too hard to dig. We'll put up a marker for her tomorrow and decorate her grave with flowers. A fitting Memorial Day tribute to a brave dog.


Good bye, Ottoline. Happy hunting in the sweet by and by.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Ain't This a Kick In the Head


I've more or less resigned myself to a complete lack of appreciation from my children. But Cubby has really surpassed himself this time with his breathtaking disregard for his mother's toils. Or even existence.

You'll see.

He came home yesterday with a little "All About Me" book he had made at school. It was cute. It was mostly pretty standard fill-in stuff, "I am ___ years old." "I have ___ hair." And so on.

This page made me very proud:


I knew our dance music would leave lasting memories*.

Then I turned the page . . .


One, two, three, four . . . something is missing here.

Upon inquiry, Cubby identified the family members, from left to right, as Daddy, Cubby, Jack, and Charlie.

Yes. He didn't put me in there, AS PART OF THE FAMILY. Seriously, child?

Unbelievable. (But, luckily for him, still funny to me.)

* In case you were wondering, as I was, what that book title might be, it's Lassie, a book I can't stand but that the MiL read to him and that apparently also made a lasting impression. Appropriate, considering our dogs, no?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Moment


There I was in the kitchen, making dinner and listening for any further shrieking from the living room that meant that Charlie had knocked over Cubby's block tower again, or that Cubby had picked Charlie up and dropped him on his back because Charlie wouldn't stop saying "bicycle" over and over again, or that Charlie and Cubby had knocked Jack over because he wouldn't leave their cars alone.

You know. The usual dinner-making shenanigans.

But then . . . silence. The door to the living room was closed and I couldn't hear any sounds of strife. So of course I immediately assumed that Jack had turned the TV on (buttons! whee!) and Cubby and Charlie had shut the door so they could watch a little illicit Wild Kratts*.

So I opened the door, fully prepared to scold them and . . . they were sitting quietly on the couch. Cubby looked up and said, "I'm reading a book to Charlie to calm him down."

Oh. Well. Just carry on with your heartbreakingly adorable brotherly love moment while I slink back into the kitchen. Sniff.

* This is a cartoon on PBS that I do not let them watch, because it's supposed to be about animals, but there are bad guys who talk like jerks and WHY, WHY PBS do you have a cartoon about animals that has smart talk in it that of course my children will imitate? Why not just show the animals?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Great Goby Haul


According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the goby fish has become "increasingly common in the state's streams and lakes during the last decade." According to me and my personal experience, THE GOBY IS TAKING OVER THE DAMN WORLD.

Our first family encounter with a goby was one that A. brought back from Lake Ontario in 2014. So it wasn't even in our lake. That was when we learned that while a goby will hit a worm with lightning speed in a lake, its voracious appetite disappears in captivity and it won't eat anything. They just die. Always. But they're not supposed to be returned to the water, because they're an invasive, and they can't be used for bait, so most people just kill them and chuck 'em right on the dock or beach they're fishing on for the gulls.

Not A., though. Oh no. He can't resist the pleading of his children to keep every blessed goby they catch. Which is why he kept the one that Cubby caught in our lake at the village dock last summer, even though he knew it would die.

It did. They always do.

We went fishing at the village dock on Sunday. Both Cubby and Charlie have their own poles now, and it was like some kind of cable fishing show. "FISH ON!" over and over. Except it was always, always a goby that was on. They just kept catching them, and A., indulgent father that he is, kept putting them in a bucket of water.

In the end, we came home with ten gobies in a bucket. Yes, of course we came home with them. A. had some vague idea that he could salt them for trapping bait, and of course Cubby and Charlie wanted to bring them home, so home they came.

I knew this wouldn't end well. Sure enough, I took the lid off the bucket yesterday morning to find all ten gobies an unhealthy shade of gray and floating sideways in their bucket grave, all very dead.

I made the executive decision to not save them for any kind of bait preservation and instead dumped the disgusting bucket into the gully.

Next time, I'm really going to put my foot down about any gobies coming home with us. It's getting ridiculous. Invasives, indeed.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Interior Design with Boys

Blackrock has no shortage of antiques and spectacular pieces of furniture, but my favorite of all is what we call The Long Table. 

It is, as you might expect, a long table. But such a table. It's long (I think you've gathered that by now), and it's wide, and it's really, really old. Maybe as old as 17th century, although we don't know for sure. What we do know for sure is that they definitely don't make 'em like that anymore.

The Long Table is in the living room, and it makes a very nice display area, as you can see in this very old photo in which it was the punch bowl station for a really big party we had.



Obviously a pre-child party.

One of the things I love about this table is that it's so large that it can look uncluttered even with a few things on it. When it's relatively clear and properly dusted, it's all shiny and smooth and very pleasant to look at.

Unfortunately, the flipside of having a large clear surface is that it's like a magnet for junk. Don't know what to do with that pile of papers? There's plenty of room on The Long Table! Need to get that big library book out of Jack's destructive reach? Just put it on The Long Table for now.

And then it becomes a Long Table of Crap.

I try really hard to keep it clear, though, because it's good for my mental health to have at least one surface in the house clear of crap. A couple of days ago I set myself the task of putting away all of the random stuff strewn over all the tables and desks in the living room and then dusting. My reward for accomplishing this was to cut a bunch of lilacs and put them in a pretty vase in the center of The Long Table.

Ahhh. So tidy, so nice, so serene . . .

So short-lived.


Does something look a little . . . jarring to you in this tablescape?

Those are very important battle ships that could not be dismantled at pick-up time last night. And so they were carefully put away on top of my shiny, uncluttered, flower-bedecked Long Table. 

Oh well. It was nice while it lasted.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Anticipation Builds

The (very, very small) school that Cubby attends performs a play every year at the end of the school year. This is something that Cubby has been looking forward to pretty much since he started school. It's a Big Deal. They do it on the big stage in the auditorium of the college in the village. There are sets and costumes and they choose pretty ambitious plays for a group of kids who are all under the age of 13. Last year it was Peter Pan. The year before was Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. This year . . . I can hardly say it without doing a little dance of joy.

This year it's The Princess Bride. 

I really cannot convey to you how happy I was when Cubby announced this to me a month or so ago. Though he actually didn't know the name of it, and just gave me a garbled plot synopsis along the lines of, "It's about a man who wears black all the time and there's a giant and swords and a lady named after a flower." Such is my love for this story that I figured it out just from that.

The movie is one of my favorites ever. The book is similarly beloved. I can't believe that Cubby gets to be in a play based on it.

Not that he has a big part, obviously. He's only six. I have no doubt he could memorize lines (he memorizes entire long books, why not lines?), but I think the idea of stage direction or acting with others is a little beyond him. There are quite a few very young kids at the school this year, so they get to be Prince Humperdinck's soldiers (though Cubby insists he's going to be "a knight") and--this is the best--"The Ancient Booers."

Remember the scene where Buttercup has a dream that she's being introduced as Prince Humperdinck's bride and an old lady in the crowd starts booing and saying she threw true love away and that she's the queen of refuse? Yeah, that. Those lines have been split up for all the little kids, so they all get to boo--which I'm sure they love--and then they take turns with the other lines.

Cubby brought home his script yesterday. He's Ancient Booer #2. Ancient Booer #1 says, "Your true love lives!" And then Cubby says, "And you marry another!"

Suitably dramatic, no? I do sort of wish he got to be Ancient Booer #6, whose line is, "Bow to the queen of slime."

But still. I can't wait to see this. And I really can't wait to see who they cast as Fezzik the giant.

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Trinity of Boys


It has just recently dawned on me that I no longer have two boys and a baby. I definitely have just three boys.


Wheresoever Cubby and Charlie be, there be Jack.


Brothers by blood, and brothers by muddy boots and buzzcuts. Amen. (Also, please notice that every dang one of 'em is wielding a stick. In Jack's case, it's only about two inches long, but still. He's learning fast.)