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So we’ve all heard “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar,” right?  My kitchen was overrun with fruit flies.  Like, Gregor Mendel would say, “dude, that is a LOT of fruit flies.”  So I decided to catch (which is to say, kill) them.  Ah, but how?  Given how intrigued they are by my kombucha, both vinegary and sweet might appeal.

Only one way to find out!  Science!  Bowl of vinegar, bowl of honey, bowl of wine (just in case.  And it’s pretty vinegary wine at that).  They sat out all day:


Honey. Note the zero flies within.

Flies strained from the two bowls of vinegar. Julianna: Why are you straining that, mom? Me: So we can reuse the vinegar. I’m not made of money.

Wine didn’t catch as many, but made for a satisfyingly grisly looking photo.

So the lesson is, feel free to be mean to people to get what you want.  Because that whole flies-with-honey thing is BUSTED.


So this is the year that I stop waiting to move and just move into the house I’m in.  Eight years we’ve lived here.  And for about seven, I’ve been planning where I’ll go next.  The gypsy blood runs in my veins, subdued wedding dress to the contrary. As in most places, the real estate market is in the toilet, half my neighborhood is for sale and has been for ages.  And most of those houses have been better maintained than mine.

No denying my house is cute.  And we have a heck of a view.  But I crave land, land where I can grow things (rocky, crappy soil here) and raise critters.  A couple of years ago, I got chickens.  I was quiet about it, since I didn’t know if they were even allowed.  But eventually I found that our “village” zoning meant, essentially, anything not forbidden was permitted.  So you have to have 3 acres for horses, pigs, cows and (until last week or so) bees.  Nothing about chickens.  So I stopped worrying about my wee flock.  I’d built them a tiny house out of salvaged materials. And I built a moveable pen out of PVC and bird net.

Dottie the chicken in the early days

Sage (neighbor), Ben, and Lily in the pen. The coop is off to the left. The gals are quite young here.

Ben and Norma

The chickens have been seriously fun.  Even though poor Norma up there had to go live with a family that only had crested chickens–the other chickens picked on her, and she couldn’t see them coming b/c of the feathers in her eyes.  Of course I tried putting her feathers in a ponytail, what am I, a monster?  But they pecked her anyway.  Polly turned out to be a Paul an got moved to a petting zoo.  when it started to get cold, I lined the “log room” under our house with straw bales and put net up under the porch, making them a winter coop.

We lost Dolly and Eleanor to the fox when they escaped.  Pearl succumbed to–I’m assuming–heat stroke.  But Blanche, Dottie, Fran, Edith, and Sylvia remain from the original cast of chickens.  We added Ruby, Alice, and Millicent (purchased from 4-H kids at the fair last fall) to bring youth to the ensemble.

But I really missed mammals.  Julianna’d been doing Packgoat with 4-H.  The kids train the goats to go on hiking trails and help carry some of the supplies.  She’d been using a friends goat for the last couple of years, but she wanted her own.  So…village zoning.  not forbidden. not moving…

Brian, who heads the Pack goat group, generously agreed to help us put in a fence.  If I’d had ANY idea how involved it was, I’d have been way too embarrassed to ask that much.  But I didn’t.  So he did.  We fenced in about 1/2 of the backyard.  Julianna bought two Nigerian Dwarf goats.  We named them Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr, after the goats that pull Thor’s chariot (you may want to read this.  It’s quite a tale). But we call them Tango and Jester.

At first, we had only one bottle nipple. That was difficult.

Jester. he’s the more outgoing goat

Tango, who is more laid-back


They’re so cute you could die.  Having critters makes me feel more settled (after 8 years).  Of course, I’d still load up my caravan and move to that property of rolling hills and flat meadows with the stream and the woods….but for now, this’ll do.

We first went to the Fairie Festival in 2004.  I found out about it late, and we just jaunted up for a few hours on a Sunday.  So this was our 8th year trekking up to Glen Rock, and–as in the past few years–staying for two days.  Our entourage is different each time.  For the first time since my first trip, Chris and her girls couldn’t make it (kid in a cast).  And for the first time, our neighbor Lisa and her daughter joined us.  They came over with the Donalds so that we could get our fairy make-up on.  It was forecast to be hot and humid, so I opted to go without, but I painted some swirls on the girls.

Bev asked if I wanted to lead on the way out.  Will we never learn?  She has a bad sense of direction.  I have a very bad sense of direction.  Together, we’d get lost in our own houses.  She called me, about 5 min. in…”You’re not taking 26?” (she’s very polite.  She didn’t say “Where on EARTH are you going?”)  I realized I’d read the Mapquest directions (it’s true.  I cannot remember how to get there from year to year.  And yet I was in the lead!) wrong, so I told her to just pass me and lead us on.  It went off without a hitch after that.  “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Buffy” Musical episode sing-along in the car.  We parked, covered ourselves with sunscreen and glitter and headed in.

We had enjoyed volunteering to earn our admission fee back last year, so Julianna and I signed up again.  But we’d missed the window for the craft tents.  I got assigned the Tot Lot (quiet spot for nursing mothers and wee ones), and Julianna decided to just hang out with Molly, since she was only going to be with us one day. We started with the opening ceremony, as usual, where the Greenman talked some kids through…watering the Maypole or something?  I was busy with the “I’ll be here at this time”s so the kids could find me if they wanted to.

A mason jar full of virgin’s tears must be poured on the ground to appease the angry grass gods.

It was a low-key sort of fest this time.  Hot, but not the hottest.  The music was better than last year.  Fewer vendors, both of food and of pretty things.  The crowd on Friday was pretty light, but that’s why we go on Friday.  We met Stacey and Annika there, and stayed at their house  that night.

Lily (in the dress Brooke wore last year) and Annika. Lily and Ben couldn’t start buying snacks fast enough.

Julianna and Molly cool their toes in the stream

None of us even wore wings this year.  I started to grab an old pair at the last minute, but couldn’t make them lay right.  Wings, when you’re not a real fairy, are kind of a hassle.  But I felt a bit off without them once I got there.

My stint in the Tot Lot was very uneventful, it was late-ish in the day, and no one came by.  I think the day’s highlight was when Otter, mud-covered leader of the River Tribe tried to give Lisa, who was wearing very tidy Normal Person clothes, a hug.  We had a bit of a Braddock Heights gathering once we found Lara with Wolfgang and August and another neighbor, Wendy, with her two girls.

I don’t tower over Bev quite so much when I’m not standing on a hillock.

I don’t know these people, but I was utterly charmed by the matching paint on her babies.

August was a werewolf…until the heat got to him. There’s a reason werewolves are not a Southern construct.

Drum circle. The woman with the antlers (there’s a phrase you don’t see much!) had the whitest skin I’ve ever seen. And so much of it!

Lily, drumming

August (skinned), Wolfgang, Julianna, and Molly, at the drum circle, not dancing.

Blair and her friend, Maggie. This picture just cracked me up.

Ben, in a rare not-eating-popcorn moment

My very tired fairies, invisible wings a-droop.

We drove 20 in to Hanover to stay with Stacey for the night.  She has 3 French Bulldogs.  They look like Stitch from Lilo and Stitch or, if you’re a Thomas Covenant fan, those black puppy things that were all teeth and dense energy.  Stacey knows the owner-of-exuberant-dogs trick of saying “Wow!  He really likes you!” so that you’re flattered by being covered in dog spit and hair instead of annoyed.  Very clever, Stace, but I’m on to you.

Lily decided she couldn’t sleep on the top bunk, so I said I would.  Tip to 44 year olds of non-pixie-ish size: the top bunk is not for you.  It was about 2 feet from the ceiling and full of stuffed animals, and as soon as I got up there, I thought “I sure hope I don’t have to pee in the middle of the night…I sure have to pee.”  I’d climb back up, doze off, awaken, and think, “I sure hope I don’t need to pee again…wow, I need to pee.”  Just like camping, but with a mountainous ascent each time!

So I was tired the next day.  We had a nice visit, though, and Stacey found a willing Disney-chat ear in Ben.  The kids are threatening to swipe a credit card and go with her next time.  I bid them good luck getting much farther than Georgia on that thing.

This time, Julianna and I asked for a volunteer job we could do first thing, so that by the time Bev and her girls got there, we’d be nearly done.  We got to be “Yellow Paiges” and stand at the front gate handing out programs.  It was excellent fun, as we got to see all the costumes as they came in, I got my favorite level of social interaction (“Hey, how ya doin’?  bye!”), AND I got to work on my carnival barker skills.

“Kubiando! If you become lost or confused during your day, look for the Yellow Paiges.  The Yellow Paiges are full of information!  If there’s something you don’t know, Yellow Paiges are the way to go!” And I had some other rhymes, but they’ve already left me.  it’s a fleeting skill.

We ended up serving more than our time, as communication and timely response don’t see highly valued in the Fairie-American community. But it was fun.  Ben came up to visit us and go read the protesters’ signs.  He was so happy they were there, but disappointed that the signs this year were of the boring “Wiccans are bad” variety (for the record, not a Wiccan festival, although I’m sure there are plenty in attendance).  Julianna was handed a flyer for a “clothing optional” fairy festival “Where you can wear your wings and nothing else” was the tagline.  There’s a fairy ball (snort.  I bet there is.  And I bet it hangs lower than you’d hope) and “spontaneous drum circles.”  Also, a firehoop dancer, whom I imagine is a devout body-waxer.  And just let me state for the record: clothing is never “optional.”  Either you should or should not be wearing it.  Also, do not hand my 15 year old an invitation to a nudist ball, you creepy old dude. sometimes Mama Fairies get judgey and indignant.

Bev showed up with Brooke, Blair,and a friend, so we joined them when we finally got sprung from service.

Blair and her friend, Maggie. This picture just cracked me up.

Julianna on the bridge

Bird mask magician dude, entertaining some fairies

A rare Actually Smiling photo of me.

that’s more like it.

Ben cornered the Kettle Corn market. he had three bags of it in his pack.

Kid with a skink in his pocket. there was also a bearded dragon wearing a wee pair of wings. I always wonder what the lizards think of this whole thing. if they think, that is.

Lily and Rachel the belly dancer. She’s danced with Brooke and Lily for years. But when I try to take pictures, she reacts kind of like a peacock and starts strutting and fanning out her scarves and carrying on. I’m not trying to get YOU, lady. I want the little girl.

Cooling off in the stream before heading home.  Lily and Skinkboy

Maggie, Lily, Blair, and Brooke

And so we headed home, tired and happy.  it was Cinco de Mayo, so we couldn’t eat at our usual Mexican place on the way home, but it was just as well.  I’d have likely gone face-down in my food.  As usual, we vowed to try to have a booth next year.  This time, we’ve added the vow to bring the goats, with little goat wings and strap on horns…



As you sit on your no-doubt fabulous, crumb free couch, clutching one of your many cats and wondering where your time with your babies has gone, and waxing nostalgic about the whole nine yards, remember this day:

Took Ben and Lily to school.

Went to Home Depot to buy some cleaning supplies to tackle shameful bathroom.

Went to Costco for more cleaning supplies (vinegar and baking soda in bulk) to maintain semi-cleanliness of said bathroom.

Went home, scoured bathroom.  Ew.

At 1 pm, loaded recalcitrant goats into back of van to go to school.  Took goats to school for Lily to show them off as part of her science fair presentation.  As per school rules, did not let any one touch them.  That’s right, no one is allowed to touch the goats.  Because school has strip club rules.  Loaded over-excited goats into the van, went home.

Noted van is full of hay (and probably goat poop), recalled that next week is carpool week.  Took van to carwash and vac’d it out.

Got Julianna from where her weird car pool drops her off.

Tookher home.

Got Ben and Lily.

Brought them home, where Ben got his guitar and Lily got on her field hockey gear and they shoved some food in their faces.

Took Lily to field hockey.

Took Ben to guitar.

Went to bank to get money to pay for guitar lessons b/c checkbook is MIA.

Went back to get Ben.

Took Ben home.

Got Lily from field hockey.

Took her home.

She got out of the car and Julianna climbed into it and I took her to a high school performance of Little Shop of Horrors.

Went to store to get some provisions for tomorrow’s trip to the Fairie Festival.

Went home.

Went back out to get Julianna from play.

1/2 tank of gas. 175 miles.

So just enjoy sitting on that sofa with those cats.

Or maybe “Couched in terms of despair.”  We need a new sofa.  We’ve needed a new sofa for at least two years.  When we moved into this house, eight years ago, we declared that no longer would we slump on our horrid futon couch (an uncomfortable couch that can turn into an uncomfortable bed!).  No, we’d purchase a couch like adults (I’ll note that apparently, in some parts of the world, people do not use sofa, couch, or even divan interchangeably.  I’ve now used divan more times than previously in my whole life and I recognize no difference between sofa and couch.  I’ll reserve my weird category rules for things other than furniture).  Unfortunately, a lifetime of hand-me-downs, trash-picking, and Ikea have spoiled me for furniture pricing and no WAY was I spending serious money on something to be smeared with food, filled with crumbs, and used as a trampoline.  We had 3 kids under age 7 when we moved here.  I was, and remain, disinclined to monitor how people use the furniture.  I have enough to nag about already.  So.  We ended up buying a $300 couch from a place that was open for a few months in a run-down strip mall.


It met my criteria: no rolled arm, no loose pillow back, no skirt, no weird fat-man’s-belly-like folded back cushions, no microfiber, no leather.  And, cheap.  ish.  in the above photo, all the other furniture added together was far less than $300, but hey.

Now, eight years later, I cannot post a photo of the couch b/c the authorities would take away my children.  So just imagine the same one, arms crusty with god knows what, wooden slats under all the cushions to keep the springs from poking into your butt, flies buzzing around like in a neglected Sim house (I was never good at The Sims b/c I figured a house full of flies and people waving their arms around in the air is just normal).  Steve says “Get a couch.”  This is my mission.

I go to Value City Furniture first.  All rolled arms and loose pillow backs and fabrics that make my fingers very sad.  But for $400, maybe I can just deal. My favorite thing about Value city is that apparently all the sales staff are independently wealthy.  Most furniture stores, you come through that door smelling like fresh antelope on the savannah.  At VCF, a wall-eyed gent strolls up, says “Lemme know if you need help,” and wanders off again.  Which is okay by me.  Car lots, mattress stores, and furniture–I just assume I’m about to be taken advantage of.  And they don’t even buy me dinner first.

I wasn’t ready to commit to the VCF couch, so I put out a call to Facebook and get a few suggestions.  One of them points out that there’s an “outlet” of the local over-priced furniture chain so I head there.  As I walked through the door–all antelopey and lame–a guy a bit older than I swoops down and asks to help me.  Given the vast and confusing nature of the store, I decide to just go with it.  I tell him what I want–clean modern lines, as little cash as possible.  As we chit chat, I learn that Dave has been with the store only 4 mos.  I think “Ugh, mid-50s, had to pick up work at the furniture store.” He has 10 year old twins .  Later, he mentions that he played lacrosse for William and Mary.  He has an American History degree.  We bond over useless courses of study.  He mentions lacrosse a bit too much for a 57 year old man.

As we narrowed it down to three sofas, he said “To put it in car terms, the Klausner is a Chrysler, the La-z-boy is a Buick, and the Broyhill is a Cadillac.”

Me: So, you’re saying that no matter which I pick, it’s an overpriced piece of crap?


Me: and that I’ll look like an old lady sitting on them?


Dave: The Broyhill is the highest quality.

Chatting about colleges, I say that Julianna was pretty taken with W&M, but that we’d need to move in-state to afford it.  He says that when he went there, Glenn Close was just a few years ahead of him.  I say “Oh yeah, and Jon Stewart!”  He tells me they lived in the same dorm and tells some anecdote about how gross the dorm was.  Then says “I can’t believe people look to him for real news.  He had the President on and called him ‘dude’!”   I laughed and said “Yeah, I saw that!”

Dave: I mean, if I had him on, I’d have something to call him, but it wouldn’t be “dude.”

Me: you mean “Mr. President?” and fixed him with a mom-stare.  You know the one.  The one that says, ” I strongly advise you against pursuing this point.”  Apparently, he has a mom.

I know four months isn’t a long time on the job, but politics?  Really, Dave?  At least not until you’re better at judging people.  The chick in linen and Birkenstocks who told you she wrote her thesis on the Renaissance Festival is probably not a Fox News viewer.

I liked him, nonetheless.  He had the grace to concede the point when we argued about Maryland’s state sport.

Me: yeah, I know the powerful Lacrosse Lobby has tried to make lacrosse the state sport

Dave: several times, but why on earth should it bejousting?

Me: Are you kidding?  Jousting is COOL.  Who else has jousting?

Dave: no one, because no one jousts!

Me: and more’s the pity.  Should we change the state bird from the Baltimore Oriole to the blackbird just because who ever sees Orioles anymore?  Lose the crabcake in favor of a Big Mac?  And our flag!  It looks like a medieval pennant! It all fits together!

How could he not back down?  I mean really.  After narrowing my choices and looking at fabrics (blech.  Why can’t I just get a bright purple varigated fabric that hides stains?  Surely that’d be as big a seller as the country blue faux-velvet.  Also, I’m drawn to geometric prints like a magpie to shiny, but when I play with the on-line couch creator tools, they all end up looking like motel sofas), I headed home.

I post my decision to my online buddies who promptly inform me that “semi-attached” back cushions are just as bad, if not worse, than the loose ones.  Which puts me back at square one.  And the temptation to just throw a sheet over this couch and pretend I’m protecting a valuable antique.


May 2012
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