Friday, July 23, 2010

Our Heaven

On Sunday Edie, my mom, sister and I will fly out of Dallas to Maine.  We will meet up with our hosts Nancy, Sarah, and Amy in Northeast Harbor, Maine.  I think I speak for all of us when I say this is our heaven.  I know for myself no place on earth is as dear to me as this town.  Like the pencil marks on a door that parents use to record their children's growth, Maine in late summer marks my growth and progress.  I remember being there right before I began college and I was so nervous.  I remember the summers I would run for hours through the town with all its ridiculously breathtaking views.  (I wish I could still run like that.)  I remember the early summers there when Alex and Amy would put on their shows such as "Late Night with Alex Hargrave."  I remember the climbing up Beehive Mountain (Liz and I often carrying Alex on our backs) or hiking to the trail head we never found.  We have stayed in rented houses throughout the town.  We probably know what the insides of more houses look like than many of the locals.  Considering I only go there once a year I still feel that when I arrive there I pick up a part of myself that I left there last time I visited.  Northeast Harbor, Maine and the island it sits on has shaped who I am and this summer it will begin to shape who my daughter is.  It is a tradition that I have to pinch myself to believe I get to pass on to her.  Thank you Nancy, Steve, Amy, and Sarah.  I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!!!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Customer Service Nightmares, Vol. 1

Hello, it's guest post-er Jeremiah here with the first volume of my Customer Service Nightmares.

This is the first in a series of beautiful moments in my life where employees from different businesses have conspired to make my life as difficult as possible.

This one just happened yesterday. My law practice involves me having to call constables regularly to check on service of legal papers. Usually, they are out in the field, but their offices will always offer to transfer me to their cell phones or to their voicemail (or take an old-fashioned written message). Today, I was not so lucky.

Me: Is Officer "Smith" available?

AH: He's not in right now.

Me: OK, can I be transferred to his cell or his voicemail?

AH: We can't give out cell numbers, but he will be in after 4:00.

Me: OK, but can I be TRANSFERRED to his cell?

AH: We CANNOT give out cell numbers.

Me: OK, well I'm not asking for his cell number. I'm asking if I can be transferrrrrrred to his cell phone.

AH: No! I can't do that.

Me: Does he have voicemail?

AH: No!

Me: OK, so then I guess I'll just have to call back after 4:00?*

AH: Yes.

Me: Thank you so much for your help.*

Now, different interactions rile me up for different reasons. Here, we have a robot who doesn't want to think or listen to my questions. Notice how many times I ask to be transferred (3) versus how many times I ask for his number (0). And yet, I'm the jerk for having to ask the same question 3 times in a row. AH** answers the phones for a living - it's nice to enjoy the extra effort he puts into his work.

* Both of these comments were made with the utmost in sarcasm and insincerity in my voice
**AH stands for @$$ Hole.

Back from Michigan

Chris and I have just returned from a week (sans Frog) in Michigan.  Chris' family has a beautiful house that they call Cranberry Cottage on Torch Lake.  We were in full on relaxation mode.  I never really knew what relaxation meant until I had a child and then vacationed without her.  The first 24 hours I had intense Frog withdrawl.  But by the second day I realized it was going to be okay and I got my relax on, big time.  We lounged, read, watched t.v., went on walks (without having to pack a diaper bag and make a bottle), napped and did all kinds of things you don't do once you have a baby.  Michigan is picturesque and beautiful, a cherry orchard or crystal blue lake at almost every turn.  Michigan is also home to the nation's worst drivers.  Unlike the drivers of Dallas that are intentionally cutting you off in traffic the retired, often elderly drivers of Michigan have no idea anyone else is on the road or in the parking lot with them so they just throw their car in reverse and go.  If they need to change lanes or make a turn not a single mirror is consulted first; they just do it.  We were almost the victims in at least 10 accidents and we witnessed two old men back, simultaneously into each other in a parking lot.  It was awesome.

Chris and I share a love of boats.  We have attended several boat shows here in Dallas.  We know we will probably never own a boat like this

but it's still fun to look and dream.  Nor will be able to retire at an age that would allow us large enough blocks of time to use a boat of this magnitude.  We spent a while amongst the boats and yachts of Charlevoix and Traverse City.  Chris' dad does a have a Four Winds at the cottage so we were able to go onto Torch Lake at least once a day.  We talked the entire time about how much Frog and Peanut will love spending time on Torch Lake.  We can't wait to return as a family!

My legs and our wake.

The crystal clear water of Torch Lake.   Having grown up swimming in a southern lake the color of Torch is quite shocking.

The view from Cranberry Cottage.

Torch Lake water was about 76 degrees while we were there.

Chris got some much needed time with his beloved video games.

Chris chilling near the sandbar on Torch.  We can't wait to bring Frog to the sandbar.

Peach orchard.

Me in the boat on the first day.  It took me several days to work up the courage to get into the frigid water of 76 degrees.  Lake Bruin was never that cold.

Chris getting his boat on.

The view of the Harwood dock from the lake.

Cherry orchards as far as the eye can see.  I ate three times my weight in fresh cherries.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, in care of her grandmother and her Pastora...




And last but not least (no pun intended) from America's heartland:

No vacation is complete without one of these.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Try Again

See if it works now.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Frog and I

This was a fabulous three day weekend mainly because I got to spend so much time with my Frog.  I can now confirm that she is of above average intelligence, cuteness, sweetness, and overall greatness.  I have been suspecting these things for almost 11 months but now I am positive.  Before Edie was born Nancy sent several boxes of board books to our house.  I put them on various shelves thinking we wouldn't use them for at least year.  Boy was I wrong.  About one month after you have a baby you realize they aren't content just staring at the wall.  That would be nice but unfortunately they require stimulation.  Constant stimulation.  So to entertain the Frog I started reading to her from all her board books.  She prefers the ones with the brightest colors or big pictures of animals or humans.  Now Edie expects to be read to several times a day.  These reading sessions can last almost an hour sometimes.  I have all her faves in a big basket.  I'll put the basket in Chris and I's bed and read to her up there.  Our routine is that she sits snuggled up next to me on my left side between me and the basket o'books which is super cute.   I'll grab the books out of the basket one by one and read them to her.  She pays attention and studies each page even though she's seen them thousands of times.  This past weekend I guess I was taking too long getting into place because she grabbed her current fave and handed it to me to begin reading!!!  If that's not a genius Frog indicator I don't know what is.  I was blown away.  This current fave book of her's is The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle. 

I think she likes it so much because each page has a very large picture of a farm animal.  As of last night, each time I came to the end of the book and tried to open a new book she would get mad because she wanted Busy Spider read again. 

She follows me around while I vacuum with our awesome, new, and practically silent vacuum cleaner.  She can entertain herself for a long time crawling around going from a toy pile to a book pile to a piece of furniture to pull up on.  On Sunday she hung out in her bumpo for over an hour and watched while I attempted to bake cookies and a cake (both from box mixes of course).  She gets mad when I leave the room and she has to hang out alone with Chris.  This mommy neediness is a new thing and I love it.  She is just the cutest thing in the world and I love her.  Chris and I are going to Michigan next week and I can't wait but Edie is going to stay here with my parents and Pastora.  I already miss her.

Dad had the brillant idea to take Edie to the Lakewood 4th of July parade.  In our ignorance we came ill prepared.  Next year we will know to bring water and chairs.  And I will definitely have a venti, nonfat latte with caffeine, lots and lots of caffeine, this time next year by golly!!!  Oh how I miss its sweet buzz in the morning.  Edie was mildly amused with the parade.  Her favorite part was when two dogs engaged in a brief scuffle right in front of us; the floats however were pretty boring in her opinion.

Lakewood 4th of July Parade.

Dad and Frog.

WWII veterans.  My favorite part.

Eating blueberries.

Over the weekend my friend (and godfather to Edie) Jeremiah moved into a swank new pad.  We stopped by a couple times so Edie could check things out.  I do believe she enjoyed crawling on the carpet as she is being raised in hardwood floor house.  She also loved having heavy boxes placed throughout the rooms so she could pull up on something every couple of feet.

Carpet Frog.

There's really nothing better than a little family bickering.

"Daddy loves that stuff more than me."

Friday, July 2, 2010

Back in Business

No, my camera isn't fixed yet.  I haven't even taken it to the repair shop yet.  My fairy godmother stepped in and bought Chris and I a new digital camera to get us through this rough patch of no camera.  If you don't have a fairy godmother I really feel sorry for you.  There are times when you think how will my family ever be able to make it through this month without an influx of Kiehls and Barney's New York gift certificates.  Sometimes Edie looks up to me with those sad, hungry eyes that say, "Mommy, it's organic cotton for me or nothing at all."  And because of said fairy godmother Edie's delicate baby skin will never have to touch the likes of fabrics made from cotton grown using synthetic chemicals.  When I was on maternity leave, alone and scared with a new baby it was the daily deliveries of Starbucks and La Madeleine that got me through.  My fairy godmother knows the crucial role that a decaf cappuccino (decaf only because I was nursing) plays in the successful bonding of mother and child in those early days of life.  But like I was saying she bought us a new camera/video camera.  Here's what Chris and I have taken so far.

First picture taken with the new camera.

First video taken so far.  Yes, I know I could be a full time model but my heart belongs to the plants.

Jose and Ek pulling the dead shrubs.

Roberto loading up the dead shrubs onto his cart.

Why are the shrubs dying?  Bagworms, as seen here in its little chrysalis.


I was at a dinner party several years ago and one of the other guests was lecturing me about how boring and overused he thought caladiums were in Dallas landscapes.  I didn't argue with him but I did think to myself, when you maintain over 150 acres of an intricately landscape, urban campus with water restrictions and tons of foot traffic then you can talk to me about boring plants.  Perhaps they are overused for a reason.  Caladiums will grow in both dense shade or sun depending on the variety.  Once the bulb is planted you have to do nothing to the plant until you pull it out in mid October.   No deadheading, no fertilizing, no staking, no nothing, if it's under irrigation of course. Very few annual plants last that long in these parts.  He also complained about lantana for the same reasons.  Again it's a plant I love and use a lot of because it is drought tolerant and requires nothing, blooming until fall.  Same goes for nandina shrubs-- overused and boring because they are tough and evergreen.  Once established they can survive our summers with no supplimental water which is quite amazing in these parts.  Not a lot of plants thrive in our climate and soils without constant pampering and a complete soil overhaul so when we find some that do, you use them.  I'll get down off my soap box now.

Profusion zinnias.

One of SMU's beautiful buildings.