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For folks that really just want to know what I ate most recently, have I got some good news for YOU.  I started a local food blog, to post opinions of vegetarian options at Frederick restaurants, alert my fellow Frednecks to good deals on organic spinach and to post yummy things I’ve discovered. That way, I don’t have to post my awesome recipe for kelp crunch here.  You’re welcome.


I’ve waxed rhapsodic about the lake before, but I’ll throw in another plug.  It’s a lovely, man-made lake with clear-ish water and a sandy bottom.  We like to meet friends there in the early evening and stay until sunset (usually in the 8-8:30 range).  The moms all sit on the shoreline in their beach chairs, toes being nibbled by the wee fishies.  The kids cavort like otters and try to catch the fish–always in vain.  I’ve been dragging kids to the lake at least once a week since Julianna’s first summer.

Julianna at the lake

Okay, that’s her second summer, but still. Tushie!

I have scrapbook page after scrapbook page with the same background and progressively more  and larger children.  So I’m sure that The Lake will figure prominently in their memories of Frederick summers.  Ah, but yesterday will get a special place.  For yesterday was The Day Tori Found a Five Dollar Bill.  They were swimming around and Tori stepped on something oogy.  She convinced Julianna to dive down and see what it was.  It was a fiver.  Since the finding was a group effort, and since there were five kids, Tori proposed that they go to the camp store and each buy something for one dollar.   Chris and I, who are Cool Moms, relented.  We reminded them about sales tax, told Julianna and Tori to help the smaller ones, and sent them off.  They returned sugar-laden and triumphant, with 16 cents to spare.  Such a small thing, but you know it will be legendary.  The Day Tori Found a Five Dollar Bill.

Julianna decided she wants to make dinner once a week.  Tonight, Screaming Monkey Pasta in Blood Sauce:

screaming monkey pasta

It’s the perfect dish if you have a case of the Munschies.

It’s Deana, folks, she’ll be here all week.

In the van today, Ben asked if Julian would be coming to our PD Palooza party this year.  I said yes (RIGHT?) and he asked where Julian lives.  I told him that usually he lives in Charlottesville, but for the past year, he’s lived in France.  Ben said he didn’t know you could live someplace for just a year (my mom is laughing right now).  So I told him about how, when I was a lass, we moved every year, sometimes twice a year.  At the time, it seemed utterly normal of course, because that’s just what we did.  But now I tell that story and people either say “Was your dad in the military?” or “Were you on the lam?”  Nothing so glamorous, he worked for KMart, which apparently was founded on hobo principals.  Don’t let your roots grow, man.

Anyway, I gave Ben the list of places we’d moved  from my birth to our settling down when I was 10 (MA, NJ, KY, different KY, IN, OH, different OH, MI, DE, different DE).  He said, “Wow, by the end you must have had friends all over the place!”

“No, I just made new ones at each place.”

“Well, at least by the time you got to Delaware, you had email so you could write them.”

“Um, no.  There was no email, just mail.”

“Did you write to the friends you’d left?”

“…no….I just…left.”  Until that moment, it never even occured to me that it might have been normal to stay in touch.  When I was about to graduate high school and go to college, I intended to keep in contact with a couple of close friends (and did…mostly), but I never really intended to keep the HS boyfriend.  He was so hurt that I sort of pretended, but Dude, I’m moving!  You’re done.  I’m going to make new friends now.  And really?  SO much easier.  Long term friend maintenence is hard for me.  I forget to write or call.  I still think of you!  I do!  And if you called or wrote, I’d be over the moon!  And I might even write back.  But not for long.  I’ll have dreams where I see old friends and it’s so great, and I’m sad when I awaken and it isn’t real. But real life moves.  It makes new friends.  I think maybe I should have gone to girl scout camp.

We’ve been doing family movie night on Saturdays, frankly it’s challenging to find something that all of us will enjoy. I often resort to movies from our childhood, and that means the 70s. Ah, movies of the 70s. Antiheroes, abandoned children, wacky background music.
This week: The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975)–I think this is a good movie to show kids to show them just how cushy they have it. Three lovable scamps–Billy, Clovis, and the always peeing Celia–recently orphaned, are shipped out West to a “second uncle or something.” Said uncle hears of their coming and blows town, but not before he hints that he’s expecting a shipment of something very valuable and needs someone else to pick it up, as he’ll be out of town. His easy mark is Bill Bixby, a professional gambler who probably shouldn’t get custody of children. We know how he gets when he’s angry.

scary Bill Bixby
Mr. Bixby tries to refuse delivery of the children, who are RIGHT THERE WITH EARS ON. After a night of leaky roof and flaming bacon, Dusty Clydesdale (yes), the stagecoach driver, comes to the rescue with her leftover stew and natural motherliness. Bixby tries to convince her that she has a way with children and should, therefore, take these. She, being a woman, and thus somewhat feeble minded is taken in by this sweet talk even as she sees through it, and begins to fall for the drunken, gambling, child-selling Mr. Bixby. But still–probably through some notion of playing hard-to-get–she does not agree to take them off his hands. He is understandably perplexed and does what anyone would do–tries to sell them into slavery. And when that doesn’t work, he tries to pawn them off on the whorehouse. Then he takes to leaving the kids on their own while he gambles which causes them to go off to a mine, since they have heard that their dad left them one, in which there is certain to be gold. No really, there is. They’re orphans in a Disney movie. On this excursion, they get into a mine cart, which of course jumps the rails, of course goes at breakneck speed into town, of course drives through a laundry line, followed by a crate of chickens, and yes, a mirror. All in front of a really awful blue screen background that causes Julianna to call out “Photoshop!” classic.

Then we are introduced to the strangely homoerotic duo of Tim Conway and Don Knotts. They get all hunkered down, thinking they’re about to “go down in a blaze of glory.” The violins swell, Don Knotts swears he’d pitch his blanket next to that of Tim Conway. Which is pretty sweet, really. And how often do you see a man light his cigarette on another man’s flaming butt? I must say, though, in the interest of full disclosure, that Tim Conway is one heck of a physical comedian and the two of them together had me giggling, even if the kids didn’t seem to appreciate the genius. After the kids find a chunk of gold in a second mine, Knotts and Conway–failed burglers who bungle–contrive to steal the gold from the bank. Hijinks ensue. Extendable ladders provide endless comedy. It’s as sure as a runaway mine car.

a bit of bondage

Once they have gold, the children become much more desirable. That 70s flawed hero played by Bill Bixby starts to soften on the kids and seeks the advice of Col. Sherman Potter, who is the sheriff and barber. Potter suggests that he should marry Dusty so that she could have the kids (the courts couldn’t award custody to an unmarried woman) and he could get the hell out of Dodge. Initially skeptical, Bixby starts to see the light when Colonel Potter tells him that he’s seen Dusty after she “got caught in a cloudburst…and I gotta tell you…” HelLO Nurse! Bixby proposes this “marriage” to sweet, smitten Dusty. After he promises that he won’t “exercise [his] husbandly prerogative,” she agrees. She also allows Col. Potter to skip the nice parts of the wedding ceremony to “just get it over with.” It’s very touching when they are pronounced “hitched” and then shake on it. Bixby promptly goes off drinking with Col. Potter and leaves the kids with Dusty. Ah, wedded bliss. But oh HO! She finds out he bought a brass bed, which totally means he wanted to exercise those prerogatives. So they get into a bar fight. As you do. I think I went to this wedding reception…I’m looking at you, Justin. The confusion gets cleared up and all, but isn’t this a bit racy for a kids’ movie? Even in the 70s? Whores and husbandly prerogatives?

Then hey! It’s Slim Pickens!

Now all the Blazing Saddles jokes we’ve been making (you just kind of have to when it’s a crappy Western set) are even better! whee! He and his lot are the BAD bad guys. We know they’re bad b/c Slim dresses up as a priest to get information out of the guy that is going to transport the gold. And no one would EVER recognize Slim Pickens if he was wearing black. A chamelon, he is. Different in every role. Just like Harry Morgan.

Our children are at the mercy the court, and that always goes well in 70s movies, right? Everyone in the town wants them, once they find out that the kids found some gold. But of course the ne’er do well Second Uncle turns up and claims the kids. Touching scene ensues in which Dusty tells Bixby that he was a good father. Which, by 70s movie standards, I guess he was. He didn’t manage to actually sell them into slavery, after all.

Shortly before the movie ends, we get to the title and the, you know, plot. The kids decide to give the gold to Knotts and Conway and help them steal it. They’ll be The Apple Dumpling Gang! Only Slim Pickens is up to no good and he goes into the bank to steal the gold first. Bummer. Shootout, minor woundings, humorous drinking, slapsticky dynamite passing. And, god be praised, the giant mirror is broken again. Then the chase in front of the really, really lame green screen. There’s your standard fist fight on a fire truck going over the rapids. And then the kissin’. The way you can tell this is a kids’ movie is that it’s the 70s and the good guy wins.

The end scene, when the previously manly Dusty comes out all dressed up as a woman? Lily squawked “AH! CREEPY!” And off they rode into the sunset.

So: children repeated told no one wants them and this is not played as at all tragic, just the way things are. Children shopped around to various households with promises of how hard they’ll work–even at the whorehouse (“They love parties!” he said). And no mention of the actual title (or, for that matter, the actual plot) until the last 15 min of the movie.  And yet…it was actually kind of good.  Just like you remember.

I’m securing my spot in the Good nursing home. We were planning to meet some friends for a swim at the lake and I decided to camp over last night. I called and got us a site right next to the trail that leads to the lake. I figured, they want to camp, the weather is nice, let’s get it over with. Now I can check that off the “to do this summer” list. So we set up camp, headed to the lake for a few hours, came back and changed, had a hike, made some dinner, roasted some ‘shmallows, played cards, read, and went to bed. This morning I made breakfast and we broke camp, home by 9:30. I belive most of our time was spent loading and unloading the van. So much CRAP to take. When we go camping with Andi and Brent this August, we’ll need one of those top-of-the-van containers. All that stuff and I still forgot the bag of tent stakes. Luckily there was no wind. I have a queen-sized blow up mattress on which I slept, flanked by Ben and Lily. It loses a bit of air as the night wears on, causing them to be pinned to my sides. Very restful to be paralyzed. Esp. since I always have to pee in the middle of the night if I sleep outside. My bladder hates me. Anyway. Here are some photos, to prove that I am the Best Mommy and deserve to be treated well in my dotage:

Kids in front of Greenbrier Lake

In front of Greenbrier Lake. We swim on the far shore.

Hey!  Where are my breadcrumbs?

Out on the trail…”hey, where are those breadcrumbs I was dropping?”

Blink Tournament 08

We played a lot of Blink, as I didn’t have the deck of cards I thought I did. Lily kicks BUTT at this game. I wish there were college scholarships for it.

Mr. Crazy Hair

A bit of reading before bed.

LAST weekend, I went up to Dickinson for Alumni Weekend. Ol’ pals Christie and Laura were going to be there, so I celebrated my 19th anniversary of college graduation at the ol’ Alma Mater (two uses of ol’ in one sentence. That, my friends, is quality writing.). I hadn’t seen either of them since at least before Julianna was born. I thought we all looked rather similar to our college days, but every time I checked out a group of people I thought looked about our age, they turned out to be Class of ’93. So clearly, I’m not as young as I think. Which is sad.

Look! Here we are outside the Arts House, where I lived sophomore and junior years:

outside Matthews Hall

Shhh…Laura thinks that water bottle is her baby. Tragic.

I also visited my freshman dorm, Adams Hall. Steve lived in the basement, like an upperclassman troll, so I first went down to see The Herm. It was once the “recreation room” and then a bar and then was 3 sophomore rooms and some space. Now it’s under construction to become something else, but oh those clever “little-Ivy” scribes…

Get it?  PROcreation?

And then I trudged alllll the way up, from the basement to the 4th floor, to my old room:

Deana and Sarah's room

I didn’t remember Adams 4th as so institutional and cold. But it probably didn’t remember me as puffy and old.

We were known as the Dickinson Red Devils. Way back in the day, the college was Methodist (Allison Methodist is the church on campus) and the students were allowed to choose the mascot. Clever scamps that they were (see photo above), they chose the Devils b/c that would annoy their ministerial masters. Now it’s 2008 and the college is Environmentalist instead. Behold, the Green Devil:

Oh, you've already done it.

There were little signs all over the place, exhorting us to be pure in our practices. This one was next to about 200 square feet of unmowed grass on Morgan Field:

just mow the damn lawn, hippie

Let’s say that together, shall we? “Sustainability Learning Moment.” Don’t you feel…holy somehow? Like “Holy crap, I cannot BELIEVE how stupid that is.” Yes, not mowing saves CO2. But this is a wee little spot of land. Coincedentally, it is a very uneven spot, full of boulders, so I”m thinking it was just a pain in the ass to mow and some genius thought of a way to turn his reluctance to fall off the mower into a virtue. Give that man a MacArthur Grant! And look, that warranted TWO green devils. Very righteous.

When I was a young, nubile coed, the Reagan years were in full-force. We of the lefty bent numbered approximately 12. I joined the DSA. I went to every march on Washington I could squeeze onto the bus for. I wandered campus barefoot until it was so cold I had to wear my soft-soled Minnetonka moccasins. I let my freak flag fly, my friends. But now…I think they’d drive me into the arms of the Young Republicans. Somewhere, David Taylor (’90) just shivered with glee…

Even though it was about 99 degrees with 100% humidity, we walked all over campus. Carlisle is really a lovely town, with a great mix of spiffy and seedy. They have their problems, though:

drink faster!

Ah, small town life. I just want to pinch their cheeks. “They stay awake until the end of class! It’s horrifying!” We also went to Massey’s. You just KNOW this is going to be good, right?

Massey's Frozen Custard

And the beauty was that the small vanilla malted with extra malt really WAS pretty small, so I felt entirely justified in also having a small cone of Teaberry custard. TEABERRY CUSTARD, people! I mean really. It was delicious.

That night, Christie and I popped into the G-man to scope a place to hang with Laura once she was sprung from her Dad’s glee club performance (you’d imagine a gal’d need a drink at that point). We walked in and it was smokey and loud and crowded. Just like old times. Only this time I said, “Wanna bail?” and Christie agreed. The bouncer stopped us and said, “Are you looking for something less smokey?”

“We’re looking for something less loud.”

“Well, the back room is smoke free and less crowded, so it’s probably less loud. Try it out and if you don’t like it you can just leave” (really? We aren’t signing away rights to come in here?)

We went back (new room) and sat in a booth. There were SIX flat screen TVs on the wall AND one little one in each booth. Each showing something different. So, if you’ve ever wanted to drink bad beer in a Best Buy, this is your place. Apparently all that input was distracting to the bartender, too, for we got no attention. No one came to take an order or check on us or check our IDs…we used to have trouble getting served b/c we were too young. Now we can’t get served b/c we’re too old. Oh, cruel fates. We bailed. Went to Blondies. As seen here:

the blondes at Blondies

Who can tell the difference?

oh shit, we're old.

We had a very fun evening, especially before 11 pm. At that point, they turned the lights down and the music up and the Young People arrived to drink what appeared to be 1/2 gallon pitchers of Tequila Sunrises with a straw. They were probably energy drinks, though.

Christie and I stayed at the Hotel Carlisle, which was outside of town a bit. I think people sometimes held events at The Embers, which is attached. Dunno. It was a weird kind of place. It had several long low buildings of rooms and a, for lack of a better word, campus. It had the feeling of something that was once grand. Like the 80 dollar a night price tag had always been there, as had the guys in red-jacketed livery. Only now that price is low and those guys are old. Room was nice, though, and clean.

Sunday morning, we ponied up the $15 for the champagne brunch. The weather was perfect and the food as good as we remembered (no, really, we had great food there). Laura’s husband is Filipino, and thus, brown. The college president came up and introduced himself to John, no doubt thinking he’d somehow missed a rare brown alumnus. I’m sure he was crushed to find otherwise. Nevertheless, expect to see John on all the Alumni Weekend brochures to come…

I never, ever complain about cold weather. Not even on the days where you can just barely let your nose stick out of the scarf so you can breathe. In fact, I find that rather bracing. But even when the cold is inconvenient or when it knocks out my power and forces me to sleep in a hat, I hold my tongue. Because as soon as the temp crests 80, I let ‘er rip. I. hate. hot weather. Hate. And you know what? It’s hot. It’s hummus-for-dinner hot.

The kids have one more week of school Really, I think the ol’ standby “useless as tits on a boar” could be replaced by “useless as the last week of school.” Of course, after hearing my kids talk about how they maybe just shouldn’t have school this week since it’s so useless is making me think maybe they need it after all… But summer is within spitting distance, if I weren’t so dehydrated from this festering heat. So I’m trying to focus on the good of summer.

I think my favorite thing is the feeling of possibility. There are so many things we could DO! Never mind that we’ll do few, if any, it’s the big wide open space that I love. Then I love the last 15 min before the pool closes at 8 pm. The sun is down, the kids are swimming, I have a design magazine in my hand (I am SO ready to design our new house), the evening breeze kicks up. It’s perfect. I love the lake, sitting and talking to friends until it starts to get dark, driving the sleepy, sand-covered kids home in silence b/c they’re too tired to bicker. I love how good a gin and tonic tastes on the porch (made my own tonic water last weekend!). Ah, and Birkenstock sandals–almost worth the heat. Oh, and number one best thing? No packing lunches. No driving to school and back twice a day (more if someone forgets one of those blasted lunches). And I’m looking forward to sleeping past 7. Not much, b/c swim team starts at 8, but still, I can drive to that in my jammies.

And fireworks. Looking forward to those.

So I enjoy listening to a podcast called “You Look Nice Today.” On it, they mentioned Bill Cosby’s Picture Pages, bringing on a spell of singing the theme song. But best of all, they linked me up with this gem:

This, my friends is wicked trippy. First we have the…imitable vocal stylings of the Cos. Then…a worm and a bird living together because the rent is so high? And they want to open up a “hip new restaurant”? Wellington the Wiggly Worm? Booker T. Bluebird? (oh, sly insertion of Black History!) Mortimer Ichabod Marker? Ah, the 70s. So blandly bizarre. Because really? This made me laugh and all but have you SEEN “Yo Gabbba Gabba?” Go ask TiVo to get it. And pour yourself a drink.


June 2008
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