musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the month “May, 2012”

bridges, back home, trip part 1

Last Thursday, we piled into Bertha and headed North. After we were on the road a while, I recalled the location of the camera…back home on my desk.

At the juncture of routes 17 and 301 (this route we have discovered avoids clusters of traffic around Richmond and DC and a good chunk of I-95 and other traffic hazards) we usually make a pit stop and tank up at a place called Horne’s. Apparently they have started producing their own bottled water.  All pics from here on out taken with a cell phone camera.

We crossed a lot of bridges, including a tenuous bridge I feel very trepidatious about while crossing the Potomac, even though its name is Nice. Click on its name for an example why, and read the description. It gives me chills every time I cross it, a handful of times per year.

DMB, not Dave Matthews Band, the other DMB

Here we are crossing the Delaware Memorial Bridge headed toward Jersey and the George Washington Bridge headed into NYC.  When I was growing up, we trekked annually at minimum from Connecticut to visit my grandparents and extended families in Georgia and Florida. So now that I live in Virginia, I find myself making the opposite trip. Once when I was about 11 years old, our station wagon broke down in the middle of the DMB. I will never forget coasting in neutral to the Delaware side and the picnic on the side of the highway as my father walked to an emergency call box and we waited for a tow truck and the adventure that ensued from there, but that is another story for another blog, maybe, eventually. Needless to say, every time I cross the Delaware, or almost any other big bridge, I think of that day and pray.


For the record, I detest the traffic (and because of the fog, we couldn’t even distract ourselves by viewing Manhattan skyline) from North Jersey through Southern Connecticut to my parents’ house. Someone always needs to pee, and there’s no way to get over or stop or anything but grind your teeth and pray a car seat doesn’t get soaked. This time, it did. I was just thankful that it wasn’t mine. Poor Toots, she tried really hard to hold it for hours and hours. I swear that that traffic zone is always about half the time of the whole trip.

She’s going to hate me for putting that on the interwebs in a permanent way, when she finds and reads this at age 14-40, right?

First official stop: my parents’ house in Connecticut. 

Not sure I fully appreciated how nice it was to grow up here, but I did appreciate the trees to climb, the back yard hill to sled with the glacial erratic in the midst of the sled hill that all the neighborhood kids loved to jump then land in the pricker bushes just past it,  I broke my arm going off it on a bike one time, too. Now I appreciate the free roaming around the neighborhood and well out of bounds of the 70s and early 80s by bike or on rollerskates, with dogs.

My nephew stopped over for dinner with us. Can’t believe he is 20 now.

I always thought there’s a resemblance between Mr. Cynic on the left and my nephew. For one, they are both skinny as all get out, but there’s something in the jawline, general placement of features.  They share a smirk, too. My parents are camera shy these days and I wasn’t thinking a whole lot about taking pics without an actual camera. Most pics I took on the whole trip were pretty random and spontaneous and a bit nonsensical considering all the shots I should have taken.

Our trip timing prevented our seeing my brothers and the rest of their families. Biggest nephew has a new habit of eating dinner at Gaga and Papa’s house a couple of times a month or so, and playing poker with them after. So good to see him and hear him and Mr. Cynic connect on bands and stuff.

We washed Toots’s car seat, spent the night and headed further north to Boston and the Berkshires for loads of mayhem and adventure, which you will see in part two.


Toots is hanging from the slider door handle sucking on a juice cup…

Mom: Do you want to go somewhere?
Toots: Yesh.
Mom: Do you want to help me water the gardens?
Toots: No, I wanna fing.
Mom: What’s a fing?
Toots: I wah – nna fing on da fingset.
Mom: You want a fing on the what?
Mom: OH, you want to swing on the swing set!
Toots (giggles) Yeah!
Mom: Say Sa wing.
Toots: Saaa Wing.
Mom: Good! Now put it together – swing!
Toots: SSSssssswing! (giggles with pride)
Mom: Yay, now say swing on the swingset!
Toots: FING ON THE FINGSET! (happy dance)
Mom: (chuckles) try to say SWing on the SWingset.
Toots: I don wanna say it again. I wanna fing.

strawberry jam and letters

Last year, when a bunch of us went strawberry picking for Mother’s Day, we got together later in the week and made jam at my super friend’s house. She is super busy this year and the next thing I knew, my berries were starting to go, so I hunkered down, bought Ball jars, found a simple recipe online and went at it.

Below is a pot full of layers of berries, sugar and lemon juice. What we make is more of a saucy whole strawberry preserve thing than a jam, and when you spread it on toast or pour it on ice cream or waffles or pancakes, the berries smooosh or melt in your mouth, succulent, sweet and tart.

Toots was an excellent helper. She stirred. Grandma helped, too, my time window was shrinking quickly as I hulled a gazillion strawberries. So while Toots stirred, Grandma and I were elbow to elbow, with berries and sharp instruments. FYI, the burner was off while Toots stirred.

I love when the berries start to weep from the lemon juice and sugar and turn all glossy.

As the strawberries started to heat up, Grandma went out for the mail, and found a letter for Toots from her youngest cousin on my side, D. He was about 3 when she was born, and used to call her his baby. He has adored her ever since, and we don’t see enough of my family since they live in Connecticut and we live in Virginia, the southeasternmost part of Virginia. We’d probably visit a lot more if we lived closer to DC.

He even drew a map to show where we live and where they live. He really is a sweet kid, and how wonderful for Toots to get an old fashioned letter! Thanks, D! The sweetest part about it is the date on the letter is my brother’s birthday. I wonder if D was inspired after we called to sing to his dad?

Double, double toil and trouble; 
    Fire burn, and caldron bubble.  ~William Shakespeare

This smells like heaven.

Toots and I ran off to our mommy & me belly dance class and Grandma jarred up the jelly after the jars finished being sterilized.

Don’t they look luscious?

Pardon the cell photos, phone was handy and I didn’t plan to blog it, but  we had so much fun creating the jam together, I had to share.

When strawberry season hits your area, please go pick and jam it. So easy and worth the trouble to do it yourself rather than buy a jar in a store.

random excerpt

Captain Comic enters room where Mr. Cynic is playing a videogame.

Captain Comic: Why aren’t you killing zombies?

Mr. Cynic: Because I beat the game.


Maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s the crazy day I had, maybe it was each’s deadpan delivery, but it cracked me up on many levels.

of friends, berries, ferries, and gulls

For Mother’s Day, a bunch of friends’ families went strawberry picking and rode a ferry home. Admittedly the ferry is the long way, but it was fun adventure and free!

It was a beautiful day, and yes, I got a wee sunburnt, but loved it.

College Run Farms has season crops for public picking throughout the growing season, and right now is strawberries.  And the best fresh ice cream in the world.

Nothing more heavenly in this world than the scent of sun-warm berries and tasting them in the rows. Toots took off running, throwing strawberrycaps in her wake, Captain Comic was overdressed, regardless of the pleas and orders to change, and Mr. Cynic roasted his scalp under his black straw fedora, but fun was had by all, even if Captain Comic kept tugging on my arm, “Can we go now?”

Here is a smattering of the pics of our adventure:

A long unusual moment occurred between Mr. Cynic and a laughing gull who rode the back draft of the ferry. Either the laughing gull was trying to commune with him, or wanted to peck his eye out. I prefer the former option…

I hope you had a lovely Mother’s Day, too!


Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. ~ Rilke

King’s Ransom Rose


Knock Out Rose


Dwarf  Tea Rose

Chive Blossoms

Star Jasmine, Oh the perfume!

and from Iris Murdoch, one of my favorite lines of all time: 

People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.


Going to work on novel more now that I quit the little part time job that took over my life with a deregulated schedule.

Received my critique back, main problems:

1. Need to establish main character’s basic positive personality before he becomes a victim for the whole book.

2. Still having issues with Point of View. I had a third person narrator who followed the main character around, but morphs too often into omniscient. Does draft four need to become omniscient? Or can I write in things that seem to come from other characters so that Felix can see it more? Thought I had done the second option already.

3.  Repetition, and in trying to make up for the apparent lack of internal dialogue in earlier drafts, I overwrote his emotions in this draft. My male readers did not have the same trouble with the earlier issue as my female readers. I am thinking  return to the internal motivations being less told, more shown.

Writing is hard.

And I am still actively seeking different employment. We’ll see how it works out. Received a couple of tips to whip out a few romances to support my children’s book.

Maybe….but I don’t want to get too distracted….



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