Monday, August 29, 2011

And the Rains Came Down and the Floods Came Up

The rain, it did come down.  In buckets.  And the floods, they are still coming up.  I haven't been out and about (the governor and the mayor both said, "stay home."  I've stayed.) but there are pictures up online of our town and area.  Not good.  It's not just the usual places this time; there is much flooding beyond the expected.  My favorite grocery store - the parking lot is flooded (hoping the store isn't too damaged).  The roller hockey rink JC played at  - you can just see the edge of the boards around the rink. 

Two nearby towns are severely affected, but according to this website, one of the rivers has crested and is dropping, the other might be soon.  (Check it out!  The colored dots take you to river level graphs.  I assume there are maps for the rest of the country, though I haven't looked.)

Fortunately, the rain stopped earlier than predicted.  Also fortunately, we did not lose power.  There are numerous power outages in the area, mostly from trees taking out lines.  But not us.  Thank you, God.  It was bad enough having three bored kids in the house yesterday.  Three bored kids and no electricity and Internet? ... I shudder to think.

We are still better off than when Hurricane Floyd dumped on New Jersey in 1999.  We had MUCH water in the basement then.  This time?  Just a bit.  Got the fans and dehumidifiers going and it'll be dry soon.

It could have been much worse.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Shake, Rattle, and Roll

(I was going to title this "I Feel The Earth Move Under My Feet" but now we're under a hurricane warning and it wasn't inclusive enough.)

This is one of those weeks that you start to wonder if Mother Nature really does have it in for us, or perhaps the Mayans had a little math error in their calculations of the end of the world.  I really did feel the earth move on Tuesday - of course, I initially thought I was having a moment of vertigo and it was just me.  Then John called and said it was an earthquake, so that was vaguely reassuring.

JC was at marching band practice - nobody quite fogged in that it was an earthquake, but everybody stumbled at the same point in the drill, and couple of people fell down.  They all thought that they just "had a moment" and started the drill over.

And now Irene is causing evacuations in coastal New Jersey and major issues in NYC.  They're shutting down the subways at noon tomorrow.  Do you have any idea how big that is?  They are SHUTTING DOWN all the subways in New York tomorrow.  I'm not sure they even did that for 9/11, people. Atlantic City is a ghost town under a mandatory evacuation order.  It's creepy, is what it is.

Of course, here in beautiful suburbia, sitting on our hill, we are merely under a tropical storm warning.  I'm expecting buckets of rain and some impressive (if not hurricane-force) wind.  We did take the precaution of actually picking up all the junk strewn about the yard and putting the (new!) shade umbrella in the shed.  We had one snap in a storm last year, so no taking chances this time.  And if nothing else, I finally got the kids motivated to help pick up the yard.

And of course, this Sunday I volunteered to host coffee hour at church.  I have a feeling attendance is going to be a bit thin...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Gotta Love New York

On Wednesday, JC and I went to New York City.  You would think, seeing as how we don't live so terribly far away, that we would do this on a regular basis.  But no, going with all three kids always turns into a production.  So going with one kid?  Easy peasy.

It started out a vague plan of "let's wander around Greenwich Village", but the night before I actually sat down and figured out some places we might want to go.  SO glad I did.  Having some destinations was a good thing - we might have walked a little more than otherwise, but we found some really cool places.

#1 (highly recommended) The Evolution Store
Oh. My. God. (sorry, there's no other word for it).  In the heart of SoHo, this store specializes in "natural specimens".  Um, yeah, what?  Think skeletons, taxidermy, bugs, minerals, fossils, and all manner of cool, slightly creepy stuff.  Tiny place, jam-packed (there's a taxidermied alligator attached to the ceiling, upside down.  JC dubbed it "spider-gator").  Wanna buy a Utah raptor claw (replica)?  Whale vertebrae? Human skeleton (either real or replica)? The cave bear skull (real, not a replica) will only set you back $7995!
We spent a long time there going through the whole place.  If you have kids that are creeped out by taxidermy or skeletons, they might not like it, but we loved it.  Can't wait to go back with William (not sure if Rachel's going to like this one).

#2 The Strand Bookstore
For kids who have grown up on a suburban diet of large chain bookstores, this is a wonderful opportunity to see what else is out there.  It doesn't quite have the ambiance of a cozy little neighborhood bookstore (the place is HUGE!), but when they have a whole table of "odd books" including V is for Vampire and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, it's a winner.  They also had classic book t-shirts (we got Fahrenheit 451 for JC and A Clockwork Orange for John) and really neat tote bags and all sorts of other stuff.  We could have spent even longer in there, but I spent enough money as it was!

#3 Molly's Cupcakes
This was complete serendipity.  We were walking from Christopher Street PATH station towards the Evolution Store, which is a bit of a hike.  It was right about that "mid-morning need a pick-me-up" time, and Molly's was in the right place at the right time.  Absolutely fun decor (shelves of board games for you to play!) and very friendly staff (not a given in the City).  I had the 7-layer bar, which was classic and huge and I couldn't finish it.  JC had the cake batter cupcake, which actually did have a soft center of cake batter (he said it was fabulous), and they have coffee too, of course.

#4 Union Square Greenmarket
When I saw we were going to be near Union Square, I looked up when the market was open.  We didn't buy anything except cider for JC (he was thirsty), but if I lived nearby I would TOTALLY shop there.  Everything looked gorgeous and delicious.

#5 Washington Square Park
We just walked through, but if you're a people-watcher, it was fabulous.  Didn't hurt that it was a warm, beautiful day near noon.  And for a WTF moment, this:

It's a piano.  Covered, on a dolly - under the arch in Washington Square.  Performance coming? Just past? On it's way somewhere else?  Don't know.

#6 recommended BareBurger
This was lunch, and it was yummy.  JC had an elk burger piled with stuff, I went classic beef with just grilled onions, and my friend (who came with us) had turkey burger with Mediterranean flavors.  Great onion rings and fries with interesting dipping sauces (curry ketchup, chipotle mayo, etc.).  Not too crowded, pleasantly cool, interestingly funky.  And the bathroom was clean.

Sorry this got long, and there are a couple of other places we stopped, too.  But these were the standouts - if you're going to NYC and going to be down in the Village/SoHo/Flatiron district looking for something to do, check 'em out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Can I just say that the fact that the 20 pounds of tomatoes from last weeks' farm share gave me a paltry 4 quarts of canned tomatoes packed in water (and a quarter of each jar seems to be water) just is totally disproportionate to the amount of effort it took to process the aforementioned 20 pounds of tomatoes?

And Barbara Kingsolver wants me to provide all my family's food this way?


Tuesday, August 9, 2011


We delivered Rachel to camp last night - despite the fact that she had thrown up that morning, slept for 3 hours during the day, and looked pretty iffy in the car on the way down.

But as we were walking up to the office to check her in, one of the counselors saw her and said, "Rachel!  I'm so glad you're here!"  And the director took several minutes to chat with her on the porch of the office, and 2 of her cabin-mates came into the nurse's office while we were there and echoed the "glad you're here" sentiment.  And on the way to her cabin, two or three more people said the same thing and clearly knew who she was.

Big grin on her face as we left, and she was putting a bandanna in the back of her shorts for the running game they were having that evening.  Even though she claimed she wasn't going to run much.

So while I think there was some real stomach issue in the day or two before camp started, and definitely on Saturday, I wonder how much of Sunday and Monday's troubles were nerves layered on top of that?

Poor girl.  I hope as she moves through her teenage years, her body disconnects that GI connection a bit.  Because her "gut" instinct?  Is to worry.  And it makes me miserable to watch it make her miserable.


Of course, if I find out she spent today and the next two days continuing to throw up, I'm going to feel like the worst parent in the world for sending her.  Somehow, I think she comes by that worrying thing naturally.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Best Laid Plans

We made it through the concert.  I won't say that we were perfect (far from it!) but for a week's practice, I thought we did pretty darn well.  There is a recording, and the director promised to make CD's for anyone who wants one - if that ever happens, maybe I'll put a bit on the blog.

So with all the expected craziness, it even got a little worse.  Saturday morning, the kids are all packed for camp, I woke everybody up on time, we're getting ready to go...and Rachel threw up.  Several times. what?

We ended up putting her in the car (with bucket) along with everything and everyone else, and driving down to camp.  We had to drop off William, after all, and after talking to the director, we brought Rachel back home with a plan to bring her down when she felt better.  We even made up her bunk and left all her stuff.  I had hoped she would feel better today, and she almost did - and then she threw up again.  But she seemed to feel much better after that, and the plan is to take her down tomorrow.

Of course, John is flying out for business tomorrow morning, and JC has an SAT prep class at 9am, and I did have plans to go print - but I'm driving 1.5 hours (each way) tomorrow and getting back before JC's class ends at 4pm.  Just when you think you have a plan, you have to come up with a new one.

We'll see if this one works.

Friday, August 5, 2011

It's Official

I have officially lost my mind.  Let me tell you the sequence of events.

It's been a relatively quiet summer for us.  All three kids have participated in summer activities (one week each), and the only conflict has been that William's got moved to the same week as Rachel's, and had the same starting time.  Which turned out not to be a conflict because they were 5 minutes apart and I could drop one off a bit early and the other on time in one trip.

This week (tomorrow, to be exact), Rachel and William leave for 2 weeks at sleep-away camp.  JC has an all-day SAT prep course all next week, but again, no conflict because the other two are away.

SO....I guess things were too quiet.

About 2-3 weeks ago, I got an email from the former choir director at our church.  He's moved up to a larger church with bigger choirs, so we don't see him any more.  But this summer, he's experimenting with a summer choir event - one week of practices, then a performance Saturday night.  Would John and I be interested in singing with them?  I checked the calendar of rehearsals, nothing jumped out at me, so ok!  I love singing with J. W.  He's (in my opinion) a fine teacher and a fun director that gets results.  Sure!

First complication - we went camping for 5 days last weekend, and had to leave on the early side Sunday to make the first rehearsal.  No big deal.  Except that we're singing Vivaldi's "Gloria".  All of it.  All 12 (twelve) movements.  Yes, some are solos and some are very short, but that's still a LOT of music to learn.  In Latin.  Monday rehearsal, no problem - until J. W. announced that he was adding a rehearsal on Thursday night.  Um.  John was already going to miss Wednesday, and we both had a conflict Thursday as well.  Ohhhkaay.  I actually left my other meeting early to catch most of rehearsal - this stuff is challenging!  And I realized (after committing to the event) that we're dropping off Rachel and William for camp on Saturday.  At 1pm.  Saturday rehearsal starts at 3pm.  These two locations are 1.5 hours apart.

Then, just to make it really fun, I spent all week procrastinating packing for camp.  And then realized that my one and only black skirt doesn't really fit any more, and all my black pants are winter-weight.  So add in shopping for a black skirt/pants and white top (I pretty much NEVER wear white).  Not to mention William and Rachel just MIGHT need a few more socks and underwear to make it through 2 weeks of camp.  And I didn't count until...yesterday.

Oh, and Rachel really wanted to tie-dye some items to bring to camp - so we did that, too.

Now, since I woke up this morning at 6am with my mind SPINNING from all that needs to get done today, remember that this whole choir thing was voluntary.  Really!  We're doing this for fun!  And all the procrastinating was voluntary, too (including the time to type this.  Where's my fabric marker?  I have socks to label!)

Nevertheless, I have (mostly) complete confidence we'll pull this off.  And if you like baroque choral music, and live somewhere near Central New Jersey, contact me and I'll let you know the details of the performance.  Seriously, it's going to be fabulous.