Monday, October 29, 2007

The Trouble with Raising a Five-Year-Old Hippie

Last time we went up to New Paltz, a few weeks ago, for the fingerpainting, the Boy got out of the car, filled his lungs with village air, and announced “it smells like granola here.” That’s pretty much what anyone of my generation would say: New Paltz is redolent of crunchy, crunchy granola for certain.

So this past weekend when we took a jaunt up thataway to buy a present for someone at a charming, non-patchouli-scented-but-still-earthy boutique, the Boy got out of the car, took in a big gulp of village air, then froze, pointing across the street like a wide-eyed Gordon setter flushing a covey of rainbow-colored pheasants. “Look at those great shirts!” he yelled.

On the way home, as we sang "Yellow Submarine" for the sixth time and planned his next yoga class, a peace-loving, organic-minded woman in the passenger seat and I agreed: it will be sad/funny when our tie-dye-wearing son goes into class and shoves some other kid during circle time while they’re talking about the seasons.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Next Week, Sleet

We're doubtless about to be enthwapped with the wet, cold, gray sock of November, but today someone stumbling around in the glare of summer finally found the out-of-date calendar and flipped the page.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Warning to Residents: VP Cheney to Hunt in Area this Week

I predict a run on Kevlar face masks at M&M Army-Navy: VP Dick Cheney is planning a hunting trip to the Hudson Valley this Sunday and Monday. Apparently a previous visit, to hunt ducks, took place a month after the 9/11 attacks.

I guess this officially makes Poughkeepsie an undisclosed location.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Read This Post, Win Bar Bets

Next time you're knocking back a few Diet Red Bulls and vodka at Sonny's and someone brings up, as they always do, the location and date of the creation of the World's Largest Finger Painting, and they bet you you can't guess where it was, you can tell them it was New Paltz, a few weeks ago. Then whip out the Guinness Book of World Records and do a sort of victory dance because you? How often do you win something?

And oh yeah, we helped.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

RIP, Our Gruff Cousin, the Bear

From time to time, a bear will wander through an area neighborhood, get treed by someone's cockapoo, knock down all the garbage cans on the street, eat the last pork chop off the grill, and go back into the woods to sleep it off. As mentioned before, where we used to live — about twenty-five minutes south of here — one wandered into our back yard the Friday before Labor Day, upsetting us as we sipped summer's last gins and tonic.

Last week, a couple of miles from there, a hunter shot a bear that will likely set the archery record for a bear in New York State. It weighed 626 pounds and was about seven feet long. Here's essentially how he did it. He got his bear license, waited for the first day of bow-hunting season, wandered out into his back yard, followed the bear into the woods, and gave it the ol' twangeroo.

On the one hand: "'[The bear] usually came out during the time that the kids got on the bus, so it was kind of scary,' Joy said."

On the other hand: "...[He] came within 45 feet of the bear, which was busy eating acorns and berries....[and] released an arrow that pierced its heart and lung."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Reason #458

My neighbor and I were daubing the last bit of sealant on the shared driveway, under his direction. I leaned on my broom a little too hard, it snapped, and thworlp! my forearm was coated with viscous, lukewarm tar.

"You're fired," he said.

Now, I've talked about my skill with tools in the past; on the spectrum of general handiness, I'm sort of a five out of ten. The bulky things come easiest. I'm good with stone walls, as long as you don't want them ruler straight, and I'm a decent digger. I have little patience for the detail work, which includes such things as measuring, masking, working slowly, planning. As I said in a recent post, I only learned one knot in all my scouting years.

But none of that matters. Because no matter how bad—or at least not great—I am at other things, I can still run. Perhaps because the skill was so hard to earn, or because it was something that seemed so alien to me for so long, putting a few miles together still feels like an achievement, every time.

In the rigid world of times and scoring, I'm about as good a runner as I am a house-painter. But while I look at any given paint job and see where I should have applied some tape, I remember every race as though I broke the tape. Like air guitar or karaoke, you don't have to actually be good at running in order to feel good about your skill level.

First prize for my age group is still safe in some other runner's hands. My times may not improve. That's okay. Because when I change out of my synthetic gear and put on leather shoes and go off to test my competence in other arenas, there's always this quiet spot right at the center, a place I can mentally put my finger on and say "I'm good at this."

And that's almost as rewarding as watching your neighbor finish sealing your driveway.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Highlands Anxieties

The Dyson Foundation just sponsored a Marist College survey of Hudson Valley residents to determine, essentially, what's keeping us awake at night.

Here's the list: Many Voices, One Valley

Our top priority, I am advised on the day the second bill for the lad's asthma hospitalization arrives, is making health care more affordable. I'll give 'em that.

I've got plenty to say about this study and its implications, and little brainpower to compose it. The connection I want to make most, though, is the one between air quality (not a concern that made the list, although Orange County has some of the region's crappiest, thanks) and health care costs (specifically, for us, asthma--and Orange County's asthma death rate ranks among the highest in the state). Preserving open space, minimizing sprawl, and improving public transportation all ranked well down the list, but improving those areas would filter upward to affect health care--it might remain expensive, but we might need less of it. And now that I think of it, wouldn't people prefer fewer auto accidents and their attendant health care costs? Better public transportation would probably help there, too.

Some good news related to the above and not much touted in the regional press was this major air pollution settlement. It's a start.

Goose poop didn't rate high enough to make the top ten, but you wouldn't know it. People talk about it around here ALL THE TIME.

Monday, October 8, 2007

If I Post this, You're Going to Start Thinking I Don't Mind Crushing Small Woodland Animals

...but I don't enjoy it, not one little bit. HOWEVER, there was a bat out in the middle of the path in broad daylight, sort of scritching and twitching around on the ground, then huddling down with a small shiver, its wings askew. And my People came to me and said "please, please come kill the bat," and there was a large rock nearby and so.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Factoid Septet

In accordance with the most ancient and hallowed Rules of the Internet (no doubt this is just what DARPA was thinking of in 1969), and at the behest of Kim, I herewith post seven random and little-known facts about myself.

There is a smiley face tattooed on my left shoulder.

I once took Valium prescribed to a dog -- not even my own dog -- to quell an anxiety attack.

Hair grows from my ears lately. It's hard to find a barber who will take care of it without being asked. It's one of those barber skills that just doesn't make it to the front window of the shop, and you can't just wander in and inquire because that's not how it's done.

In 1974 my parents rushed us home from camping upstate in order to watch Nixon resign. I was five, but I knew deep in my heart we would never have such a bad president again.

^ I was wrong.   <-- That's a freebie.

All of my fingers bear at least one scar. Because I'm clumsy.

I was a Boy Scout for six years and learned only one knot.

My second cousin was passing out small plates of mince pie at Christmas when I was about six, and, overburdened, put a slice down on the mince-colored couch. I sat on it seconds later in my nice slacks -- a word I had learned that very morning -- and my! the hilarity when we finally found out where my cousin had put that pie. I find the word slacks embarrassing to this day.

And in accordance with said rules, let's hear it from WCS, Viaggiatore, and Jayne.