25 February 2011

The Lure of the Velour

So we're finishing up school vacation week here on the South Shore. Mentally, though, I’m still planted on an overstuffed green velour reclining sofa, doing shots of Trader Joe’s corn and chile salsa.

Backstory: We packed the wagon and headed north to visit the Kielys in NH where they rented a house for the month. Both families were in dire need of a change of scenery on many levels. The only view from our front windows is of our retired neighbors Lou and Nancy going to and from dinner every night. We also needed a respite from Sponge Bob, Wii and Webkinz. Dr. Nic needed to get out of Southie after a menacing encounter with a DB neighbor who accosted her for trying to park in an unmarked spot on a public street that he'd claimed as his own. She said no and he threatened her. She had the kids in the car with her so she had to subvert her instinct to leap out, rip off his windshield wipers and beat him with them. She managed a "You're pathetic," before pulling away. She will flier the neighborhood upon her return to let everyone know there is a DB living among them that threatens women and children.

So, the fresh mountain air and plentiful parking were like nature's Ativan.

Their house is nestled on a scenic notch just south of Conway and surrounded by lush forest and snowy trails. Its wrap around deck and glass walls offer sweeping views of the White Mountains and look out over a steep hill dotted with scrubby pines. [This paragraph works best when read with a British accent.]

We were surrounded by all of this beauty and peace, but the strongest lure of all was the lure of the velour. Two hulking green velour reclining sofas served as the center piece of the living room, dwarfing everything around them. You know what I'm talking about. Those inertia-inspiring behemoths, the staples of man caves and your auntie’s parlor in Saugus. Many come with snack trays, remote caddies and cup holders. They feel like they should have a hot tub as a trundle. For aesthetic reasons, they're not something you’d ever have front and center in your home. But, now I’m not so sure. I may be a changed woman.

Sit on me.

We had no set plans for the weekend but, depending upon our whims, we had an ala carte menu of winter recreation at our disposal. We could ski, snow tube, ice skate, snowshoe, etc. But the wind was off the Beaufort scale; it brought the trees to their knees, and randomly hurled large chunks of frozen snow in your general direction. In short, you needed a rubber ski mask if you wanted to keep your face.

I generally don't engage in anything cold and outdoorsy if it’s under 40 degrees. I’m an apres-skier. I prefer skating in a rink. Snowshoeing – not so much. But, when you're with the kids, you suck it up like it’s your job (because it is your job.)

All of the kids were dying to go outside and play in the snow. They dressed in their snow gear in lightning speed and bolted outside with James and Paul K. right on their heels. Nic and I were a little more leisurely in getting suited up. I spent at least 10 minutes trying to find my high-powered mittens in our 10 bags of gear. I had one boot on when everyone came running back inside all torked up.

Paulie, effusive: “That was the best time I’ve ever had in my life!!” James came in behind him looking sheepish, but laughing.

Apparently, they were playing on some sleds out back when Paulie disappeared over the top of the hill and slid almost all the way down on the seat of his snow pants. He finally stopped after softly crashing into some small cone-bearing tree.

James scaled down the hill to retrieve him, thinking he was probably traumatized. Nope. He wanted to do it again.

My generalized anxiety disorder and I are grateful not to have witnessed this. Especially less then 2 months after the First Night travesty. James said they never thought he was in any danger but were mildly horrified by his velocity.

Aside: Of course, I started to unravel into a Sonny Bono-Michael Kennedy mindset. But then I didn't want to turn Paulie's "best time of his life" into a lesson on the ill-fated deaths of celebrities. I was also reminded that the sledding experiences of my youth amounted to coasting down a short hill in a vacant MassPort lot that dead ended into a fence separating the lot from the Blue Line tracks.

Still, something shifted. I'm not going out there to frolick in the snow. I'll have a stroke watching them teeter on the hill top. We decided the Dads and the kids would play outside for a bit, then we’d all go to lunch.

Nic and I set up shop on the recliners with some tea. We opened all of the blinds and let the mountains in. And then we unwittingly let the recliners in as well. While we were getting deep into the craic, Nic kept getting distracted by the show on TV.

NIC: “What the ffff…? What the feh…? What the feck are we watching? What is this shite, Kate?”

On the screen, Bruce Jenner was polishing a remote-controlled helicopter. We’d stumbled upon -- as the Church Lady recently called them --"the Holy Trinity of Sluts." It was a Kardashian marathon. Within moments we were transfixed, then catatonic. I don't even know how many episodes we'd watched when everyone came thundering back inside and found us strung out on the recliners like a couple of junkies.

Aside: It's not the first time something like this has happened. Last year, I got sucked into a Stars Wars LEGO Wii game. James returned home from work early to find me jumping around, still with bedhead and in PJs, looking like Gary Busey.

JAMES: What are you doing?

ME: Trying to get to level 5.

JAMES: What?

ME: Return of the Jedi.

Conclusion: Recliners = Ass Velcro. They also make you susceptible to reality shows produced by Ryan Seacrest. And you may find yourself barking at your kids to fetch your credit card from your bag ('cuz you're not getting up to do it) so you can order some Pajama Jeans.

I snapped out of the recliner spell after uttering the following sentence: “I’m craving a SlimJim. We may have to stop at the Mobil Mart.”

We all went out to lunch and had a big feed. Nic and I thought we'd completely recovered but then ordered salmon and steamed vegetables because it looked so good when the Kardashians ate it. Jesus. We had a couple of goblets of wine, steeling ourselves for whatever outdoor activity lay before us.

We asked the kids: Tubing? Skating? Hay rides? Nope. They wanted to go to the arcade and then back to the house. Apparently, they were under the spell as well, having planted themselves on the reclining sofas earlier that morning. The lure of the velour.

The Dads and the kids went to the arcade. Nic and I went outlet shopping a little drunk. Once we got back to the house, we all gathered together on the recliners and ended up ordering take-out that night.

09 February 2011

"Colder than a Midget in a 'Frigerator"

This is awesome. Megan McGlover, I hear you!

(hat tip: Bridget Duffy & Susan Howard)

04 February 2011

Check Your Baggage, Fear the Brownies

‘My Room, My Rules” – Caroline is coloring in a sign that she’s written in bubble letters on a piece of construction paper.  My little fascist has also compiled a visitor sign-in sheet to post outside her door that warns: “Keep Out, Evil Maniacs!”  (a.k.a Paulie’s friends).  She’s frowning, bearing down on the crayons as if she’s had to resort to making these signs, as if she isn’t enjoying every moment of this perceived unrest.
Don't mess with me.

This is my daughter.  She loves rules and loves to enforce them.  While she shares my general sloppiness, she doesn’t appreciate any loose interpretations of rules -- written or unwritten.  She gives me shit every day for not hanging up my coat.   Last week, I had to drive her to school and the bell rang when we were about 10 feet from her classroom.  She immediately did an about face and started running up the hallway, “I have to go get a tardy pass from the office.”  “But we’re right here,” I said.  “No, Mom, I have to! It’s the rules,” she yelled over her shoulder, her backpack careening from side to side. I’d like to think I bear some responsibility for instilling such a fierce sense of right and wrong, but it’s really just her nature. I’m sure it’s largely the result of having a flaky mother.  Despite our differences, we fall into a groove.  


She’s finished coloring her sign and is gearing up to go play in the slush.


“Yes, my dear little fascist.”

“I’m thinking I should become a girl scout.”

I froze. She may as well have said, “I’m thinking I should get a lower back tattoo.”