Sunday, July 31, 2011


I have six years worth of photos of JT at camp.  Life around here often features reminders of just how fast he's growing up, but there's nothing quite like a break in our routine for me to realize just how much he's grown in a year.

Pictured below is JT at camp in 2006, the first year that we traveled to Cape Cod.
 And then there was 2007 (he's pictured here with his buddy D.....and lest you worry, the boys asked to be tied to the tree).
 Our hero was taller in 2008.
And taller still in 2009.
Do you sense a theme?
For much of 2011, I've experienced these moments of breathlessness about how incredibly fast time is passing.  This year's version of the boy is stronger, taller, and louder.

Just the sight of him (even when caked in grime) still fills my heart with joy.
And he's more awesome than ever, this no-longer-little boy of mine.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


A few weeks back, the state of New Jersey contacted me to request that I join them for Jury Duty.  I'm a responsible citizen, so I didn't mind serving but......

1.  I'm a single mama who doesn't work in the summer and serving in the summer meant I needed to find a place to park my boy.  From 8 to 5.  That's rather a tall order.


2.  Just last year, I served.  If by served you mean showed up, didn't make a jury, and was then sent home.

Our state requires juror service only once every three years,  So, I went ahead and asked if I had to serve again.  Turns out that I do not have to do so.  While I appreciate that, I still think that the state could have found a more polite way of suggesting that I stay at home.
I will confess that though I do love the Garden State, I do have to wonder just what it says about me that I'm not qualified to serve here.  I mean, how high is the bar?

Ouch, New Jersey, that hurts.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Food Friday: At Camp!

This year at camp, we had a three-burner propane stove to work with and I was inspired.  So one afternoon, I scored some quality steaks and with them I served up some home fries.
The smell while this meal cooked made the entire camp sight drool.  And the eating? It was pretty awesome as well.  Let's hear it for griddles and camp stoves!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gardens of Cape Cod

As a native Californian now living on the East coast, I'm always impressed by the different plants that grow around here.  While I was on the Cape, I admired some very lovely garden patches filled with lush flowers and plants.

I discovered the happy growing delivered some fresh goodness to the local farmer's market in Provincetown. 
My tomatoes are coming along and I expect to harvest plenty of them with some fresh basil in the weeks ahead.  The rest of the crop will make an appearance next month, when I look forward to being overwhelmed by squash and peppers.  I always welcome the summer bounty.  But in the meantime, I'll admire these pictures of other gardener's lovely successes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lessons From Camp

A few years ago, my fellow-camper and friend S over at But Wait wrote a post-camp rundown that she called Lessons from Camp.  It was a fitting tribute to a very happy time under the pine trees.  Those days always hold us in good stead for the year ahead and I like to keep track of the memories.  This year, I've decided to use her format to sum up our very relaxing ten days at Cape Cod. 

Save one of the year's celebrations (JT made the Honor Roll in the spring semester) for your boy's favorite Cape Cod kitchen: PJ's.
Take time to admire the tiny creatures in the sea.
No matter how big the boys get, the Land Shark remains a tough foe.
Challenge yourself.
Enjoy the ocean.
Beware of trees.
Planning ahead is always a good idea.
Have fun with your friends.
Take some time to admire Mother Nature's creativity.
Not to bad for 10 days work.  Not bad at all.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Enough Already

Tired of the debt ceiling budget crap?  Me too.  I imagine that you'll be relieved to discover that we actually don't need to be worried about any of it.  But, in fact, the current budget and debt hysteria is needless.  Need proof?  Head on over to Kevin Drum at Mother Jones to see the facts.

Read it and weep for your republic.

Real Life Conversations with JT: Modesty edition

The backstory:  I got a new swimsuit and tried it on to ensure that it fit.  JT saw me standing before the full-length mirror in the upstairs hallway and had some thoughts.

JT:  Is that your new swimsuit?

Mama:  Yes.  What do you think?

JT:  It's nice, but there's an awful lot of cleavage.

Perhaps I shouldn't have asked?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Oh, P-Town

Our annual summer camping trip takes us to Cape Cod.  At the very end of the Cape is Provincetown, a town know for its tolerance and free-thinking.  We were in town one morning, and I saw this bumper sticker on a car.
 If only the rest of America could see fit to engage its common sense gear.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Food Friday: At Camp!

 My childhood traditions featured some pretty delicious meals made at camp.  In the last few years, I've gotten a lot more ambitious about the food I make for our summer camping adventures.  Last week at camp, we fired up the three burner stove and made bacon, omelettes, and toast.
It's a truism that food eaten outside always tastes a smudge better.  But food eaten outside while camping is even better.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Planning

As usual, we've made our camp list and we're checking it twice.  Last year, we forgot the neat sheet, the chair pads, and JT's sun hat.  So they moved to the top of this year's list.  The water bottles have been washed and dried, the dishes are clean and ready.  The silverware is secured in the pouches made by Grandma and the tent poles have been counted and organized.  Shorts and t-shirts are being stacked and organized; swimsuits are collected and ready. 
My book pile is organized and I'm ready to read.
At the age of 11 (and with the height and muscles to prove it), JT is a very able assistant.  He can carry almost everything and finds the camp preparation exciting.  I like this part of life with an adolescent; he's still willing to help out and can summon a good deal of enthusiasm for the jobs at hand.  So the pile in the living room grows and the supplies get organized and there is a reliable assistant helping to check our list twice.

We'll be sleeping in the woods tonight, making memories that will sustain us through the rough patches of life.  A few years ago when we arrived at camp, my friend S said to me, "no matter what happens, our boys will always have camping."  This trip, now in it's sixth year, is a tradition that teaches the boys the pleasures of simple fun, the ability to compromise, the value of independence, pleasure in the natural world, and the value of family.  That's a pretty tall order for life, let alone an annual vacation.  But we will easily fulfill it.

That's most happy.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

No Wonder We're So Screwed

One day after I assert that we get the government we deserve, this handy chart shows us why.  Oh, America.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Our Own Worst Enemy

My patience with the politics of the debt ceiling exstention was never particularly durable and, as the negotiations drag on, I've grown less amused.  It would be one thing if the United States was some punk economy with little impact on the world, but that's not the case.  We are the largest economy in the world and while we don't always act as if we deserve the responsibility that comes with that status, historically we've been quite reliable.  We organized the Marshall Plan, we managed the Bretton Woods agreement, and we've done our best to help other nations when economic ruin came calling for them.  In sum, we behaved like a responsible nation.

Then came Grover Norquist and his crowd.  Norquist, convinced that government is always bad, drafted an agenda which persuaded the nation to cut taxes while government spending grew.  His goal was to starve the government out of existence.  He didn't care who suffered in the process.  So in the 1980s, we listened to Norquist and our common sense abandoned us.  Since that time, marginal tax rates for high income earners have declined, even as spending has grown.  Ronald Reagan started this madness (though, as the chart indicates, he's not the most guilty party…..that distinction belongs to George W. Bush).  And in Bush Junior's case, the commitment to lower taxes while spending on two ill-advised wars blew up and led us to the edge of the cliff.  The recession, a function of failed government regulation, pushed us over.  Now the banks and Wall Street are fine while average Americans find themselves unemployed and with stagnant incomes.

But though the debt is high, there's no reason to panic about it.  For starters, big nations require large governments.  But more important is the fact that some very reasonable tax increases, combined with government spending to stimulate growth can have us out of the hole in a relatively short amount of time.  We'd have to make some responsible decisions, of course.  That sounds easy because it is easy.  Kevin Drum shows us how easy it could be.

Yet these facts are simply lost on the current GOP leadership.  Instead we get endless political grandstanding and Republicans who no longer care what happens to our national economy as long as they win elections.  I sometimes tell my students that we get the government that we deserve.  What I mean is that elected officials work for us and we must tell them what we want.  This system works when you have both an educated, responsible electorate and educated, responsible leaders.  These days, we seem to have neither.  So we're getting what we deserve. 

I don't know about y'all, but that's rather cold comfort to me.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


We're getting ready to head north for our annual camping trip.  JT's gotten his summer flea-and-tick haircut.  Last week, I ordered up his annual pair of outdoor sandals.  Keens, of course.  They are waterproof, durable, and can be consigned to the dishwasher if they need a thorough cleaning.  They belong to an 11 year old boy, by the way, so a thorough cleaning is often required.  This year's pair are men's size 9.5, a sure sign that time is marching on with a pace I find awfully quick. 
Around the same time, a  friend happened to pull out her pocket knife for a quick task.   JT was transfixed.  Could it be I was planning to take him out to the wilderness sans pocketknife?  No.  Emphatically no.  He is now the proud owner of a 13-function tool.  He used it to liberate the Keens.  I'm confident that he has elaborate fantasies of the many ways this knife will come in handy while we're at camp.
Wildlife need not be afraid, however, as I've laid in a supply of cheetohs and M&Ms.  We may be living outdoors, but that's no reason to give up all the pleasures of civilization.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Gratuitous Tomato Porn

What you see below are my first two green tomatoes.  They are tiny, but they are growing.
I shall be checking them daily.  There is a fresh tomato sandwich in my near future.  Fact: it can't be called an addiction if it's veggies you're talking about.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

All American

We started our July weekend with a little minor league baseball action, heading down to Trenton to catch a Thunder game with Miss A.

Some of the fans were more quiet than we were.
Miss A proved herself able to keep pace with the hot dog, soda, and french fry needs of a certain young man.
That young man was a whole lot of excited and even consented to a picture with his mama.
The Thunder didn't pull off a win but the evening breeze, the joy of baseball, and the good company meant that it didn't matter to us.

Happy Fourth of July weekend!

Friday, July 01, 2011

July 1: Clematis report

It's the first of the month and so it's time for my monthly clematis report.  The vine started off the spring like gangbusters but sometime in the past month the prolific growth ground to a halt and the vine began to fade.
Bummer, huh?  I consulted my favorite gardening guides and learned that the clematis doesn't get going with abundant growth until the third or fourth year that the plant is in the ground.  In the meantime, I should fertilize and water the vine.  I've done both and will continue to do so but it may be next spring before I really see some impressive growth and new blooms.
It seems the garden believes a few more lessons in patience are in order for me. Duly noted.