27 December 2007

Christmas Quarantine

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas.

We are slowly coming out of quarantine after I unintentionally tempted the dark forces a few weeks ago with a foolish declaration: "I never get sick." I may as well have gotten down on all fours and licked the floor at Target. Needless to say, the fates turned me into Typhoid Mary. If you’ve gotten "the sickness" that's going around, you know what I’m talking about. A violent 24 hour bug followed by a day of instense vertigo. I recovered last week, but James spent the whole of Christmas day fighting vertigo beneath an afghan. My mother and brother were afflicted as well so we had to postpone Christmas dinner until Sunday. Luckily, we were able to enjoy the days leading up to the holiday. Nic and I took the girls to see the Bells of Boston at Faneuil Hall, followed by ice cream (kids) and irish coffees (mamas) at the Kinsale. The family enjoyed a festive Christmas Eve at Amy’s, where the wee brown ones tracked Mr. Clause on Norad Santa, with Caroline reporting his global position every time the site was reloaded. “He’s in Argentina!” “He’s in Newfoundland” Once he crossed the border from Canada, however, the anxiety began to mount. They believed Santa was closing in on the South Shore and would skip the house if they weren’t home. I’ve never (never!) seen them get their coats on so quickly. On the ride home, the blinking red light from a plane flashed across the sky in front of us. Rudolph. They lost their minds. I seriously thought Paulie might faint. When we arrived home, we scattered some reindeer food on the lawn and tried to get everyone to simmer down. James was already starting to go downhill. By Christmas morning, I had to take on the role of dad, opening boxes, cursing twist ties and overpackaging, setting up train sets and race tracks, making three separate battery runs to Assinippi. By mid-day, after sitting among beeping Leapsters, naked dolls, Thomas trains and overstimulated kids, I was starting to go a little stir crazy. I pondered pouring myself a Ketel One and cranberry and ordering up some Asian C. I also had a curious urge to go online and edit Wikipedia. Instead, I made a fourth trip to Assinippi and bought a not-so prime rib and made a horseradish-encrusted roast with green beans. I’d seen the recipe on the Today show earlier in the day and hadn't been able to stop thinking about it. I topped it off with a glass of red and some Christmas cookies…and Christmas Day took a turn. All in all, the kids had a stellar day and that’s really where the joy in this holiday comes from anyway.

Enjoy some photos…

19 December 2007

Holiday Quizzilla

1)Do you prefer to do your Christmas shopping on or offline?
I do the majority online. I have a deep-seated phobia of malls that is pre-Internet so it's a very freeing experience. I just can't handle crowds. Tuesday morning, there were lines to get into some stores at Derby Street. I simply don’t have the patience or fortitude to stand in line to save $3 on a pair of Cinderella pajamas, especially when Toys R Us and Amazon have free shipping all season long.

2) What is at the top of your Christmas list this year?
Same as every year: Restaurant gift cards so we can dine out a lot. And world peace. Let's just hope that James - in one of his anti-clutter tornadoes - doesn't "accidentally" toss out the GCs. (There are no accidents) Over the past two holiday seasons, he's thrown out more than $300 worth of gift cards to Abe & Louies, Capital Grille, and others. I half expect to walk in and find him burning the Christmas cards we've received in the fireplace, along with a bucket of cash.

3) What are some of your favorite “modern” Christmas songs?
The short list: "Fairytale of New York" – Kirsty MacColl/Pogues, "Christmas, Baby Please Come Home" - U2, "Do they know it’s Christmas" - Bandaid, "Christmas in Boston" - Jim Melody, "Winter Wonderland"- Eurythmics, "I Believe in You" - Sinead O'Connor, and though I hate to admit it, I love Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas."

4) Name one of your favorite Christmas gifts from childhood.
A Snoopy Telephone when I was 11, which is ironic since I’ve always hated talking on the phone, even back then.

5) Have you ever worked a holiday shift at a retail store or restaurant? How was it?
Yes. I hostessed at a restaurant and worked at Filene’s for a few weeks. It was bloody frickin hell.

13 December 2007

The Madness of Hannaford

It’s not even noon yet and Hannaford is already running low on milk and bread. It’s crazy up there. People are in a full-on collective panic buy, stocking up, it would seem, for a nuclear holocaust. I spotted a woman with three cases of grapefruit in her cart, hellbent on heading off the hardship of going without fresh fruit for a few hours. It's just snow. The roads will be passable. The stores will be open for business. After all, there's a huge Nor’easter barreling up the coast -- twice as big as tonight's predicted storm --that's due to hit this weekend. It’s going to get even crazier. For a moment, I thought, "Wow. I'd better pick up some milk and bread before it's gone." But then I said screw it and bought some NY strip steaks and a mini-Carvel ice cream cake instead. Besides, who doesn’t have a 12-hour supply of food in their homes? And even if you don't, it is no cause for panic buying. Get some take out from Pacinis. Order a West End pizza pie. Asian C will be delivering as well.

11 December 2007


I'm still in recovery from last weekend's party. As usual, in trying to talk to everyone, I really didn’t talk to anyone, but I'm assuming everyone had as much fun as we did. It was impossible not to be stirred by the high spirits the come from having so many good people packed into a small space. Not to mention our dial-in special guest -- EPB -- from Brisbane. And I swore I was hallucinating when I saw Mikey Carter in my kitchen. Being so accustomed to drinking outdoors --at the Pines -- most of the Weymouth guys tend to spend the night on the back porch clustered around the heat lamp and keg.

Then there was the music: Random iTunes DJs manning the laptop. Liz playing the entire Vince Guaraldi catalog on the piano, Jim Melody stopping by to play his holiday hit “Christmas in Boston." And as it goes every year, one minute it's 10:30 p.m., the next minute you look at the clock and it's 2:30 a.m. and T-Bag and Norty are ripping it up with some GNR in an acoustic jam. (that gets better every year --thanks, guys).

So take a peep at some party pix in this obligatory CLR slideshow. A special thanks to Code Red for taking up the torch as the resident photog. I'm usually taking the photos so I'm rarely in them. Now, unfortunately, I'm in almost all of them --looking progressively rough as the night wears on -- even though I steered clear of the Abominable Snow Monster martinis. Good times, all!

05 December 2007

Random Quizzilla

1) What is your current state of mind?

2) When was the last time you felt panic?
Today -- when I turned on the news and learned of the massive explosion by the LNG tanks last night. I was instantly seized by panic thinking of my people in EB and Chelsea: my parents, Code Red and Baron, JAL and Mike. I thought my mother’s long-time prediction had finally come true: “One day, some idiot is going to crash into those tanks and blow us all to smithereens.” That prediction, coupled with all of the mega disaster scenarios set forth by Homeland Security and the History Channel, only fueled my anxiety. “Everything within a five mile radius would be incinerated.” Yikes.

Luckily, the 7 News banner was overly alarmist as usual. It wasn’t the tanks that exploded, but a tanker truck. It was still pretty bad, though. The explosion created a canal of fire down Main Street in Everett. Several homes caught fire and more than 20 cars exploded in succession, which one onlooker described as “the goddamn apocalypse coming down the street.” Nobody was hurt but many people had to flee their homes in 20 degree temperatures in their PJs. The incident has snarled traffic all day and many of the news stations have preempted scheduled shows with breaking news. It's a giant story.

But when I talked to my father this morning, he had a less dramatic take. When I asked him if he’d heard the explosions, he said, “Yeah, I heard them. I figured it was a plane or some gunshots, you never know around here. Whatever -- it wasn’t enough to get me out of bed.”

3) On a scale of 1-10, how much do you enjoy discussing deep philosophical topics?
Definitely a 10. Although the topics need not be deep.

Last week, we spent hours pondering the reasons why people keep mistaking Code Red for another local red-headed spokesperson. We concluded that the only way the two women could ever appear similar would be if Code Red was drunk at noon and lifting up her skirt in front of the Coast Guard.

4) Did you get a flu shot this year. If not, do you plan to?
No and no. Only the kids. I don’t really get sick that often but the one year I got a flu shot, I had a season-long mung that was unshakeable.

5) Are you attending any upcoming holiday parties?
Aside from our own, not really. We do have “A Very Special Christmas Suppah Club” going down mid-month. This one will be in the afternoon so the old burds can enjoy an Ensure on the Rocks and be home in time for 60 Minutes.

03 December 2007

Herme, The Great Equalizer

Sometimes for less whiny conditions to prevail in a house with kids, we result to random threats and outrageous statements:

Nic: "I’m going to call the street sweeper!"

Billy Dee: “I’m going to put you in a box.”

WMD: “Every time you cry, a puppy dies.”

Around Christmas, however, we have an advantage. We can threaten that Santa is watching their every move and taking copious notes on their errant behavior. Still, they see Santa everywhere and take this notion of constant surveillance with a grain of salt. This year, we’ve taken it up a few notches with more specificity. Caroline: Every time you kick your brother, I'm calling Santa and asking him to subtract a present from your list. Kick. I guess you can kiss that Princess art easel goodbye. Kicking ceases. Paulie: Whiny voices attract the Abominable Snow Monster. Remember the oinking outside the cave? He can hear you when you talk in that voice. (For whatever reason, Paulie thinks the Snow Monster’s cave is at the Airport T station, so his arrival on the South Shore via intermodal transportation wouldn’t be entirely unheard of in his world). No more whiny voice.

Thus far, these tactics have been successful, but we're continually upping the ante.

For awhile, Paulie would only wear plaid shorts and his Tom Brady shirt. You could dress him in weather-appropriate clothing but inevitably, he’d sneak off upstairs and change back into this ensemble. We finally packed all of his shorts up and put them in the attic. He squawked like an irate bird for an hour. But then he adapted, digging out some Lightning McQueen summer pajamas and insisting on wearing only those. We put all of the summer PJs up in the attic. Another bird tantrum. But then he adusted again, deciding to just run around buck nucked. You'd get him dressed and then he’d strip down naked almost immediately. Any shot at discipline unraveled as we laughed and became increasingly inconsistent. Laughing, then yelling, then laughing again. In short, the worst kind of parents.

So we decided to take a more subtle approach and tap into his psyche.

James called Pete and asked him to call the house, pretending to be Herme, the wannabe elf dentist from Rudolph.

Paulie was worried yet exhilarated to be receiving a personal call from an elf. He listened intently as "Herme" informed him that he needs to keep his clothes on because Santa's getting angry. Paulie promised and then asked Herme if the Snow Monster was "still nice." Herme told him he was only nice to people who wear long pants and that he snacks on bare knees.

Needless to say, Paulie's kept his clothes on and has become obsessed with his fleece-lined jeans.
Since then, Herme has become the great equalizer, a true purveyor of peace in Jacksonland. Every time it’s getting loud in here, I dial the house phone from my cell. "I bet that's Herme." Oh no. They completely chill out, looking up and around like they live in a giant glass house. That's right. Herme can see everything. He's watching when Santa can't.