Category Archives: personal

On the road again

Hello! I’m waiting to get an oil change and terri is back at her folks hving what she calls her “morning constitutional”. She means showering and having breakfast and doing back stretches. I think it sounds vague and euphemistic, and also like something Margaret Dumont would have in a Marx brothers movie

More from Summit Springs Farm

I honestly got too distracted with the new toy this evening to post a full update of the rest of the weekend goodness at Summit Springs. So, while I have few words, I do have some video.

John and Sonya’s tomatoes are first, awesome (we were lucky enough to come home with a pint of yellow cherry tomatoes that were sooo good), and second, under siege by tomato hornworms.

Tomato hornworm

So, here’s John capturing one in a plastic container:

The hens, however, enjoy the worms:

4th of July in Saratoga Springs

dogs & ballet girlsWe drove to Saratoga Springs last Friday, the 4th of July, to spend the long weekend with my brother, sister-in-law, and niece. Simon and Frances are teaching at the ballet school that they’ve been teaching at for the past few years. Saratoga is a good vacation town too, and Terri also went to school at Skidmore, so we have gone there several times with no ballet involved.

Not long after we got there, we went to the school’s 4th of July picnic at one of the several B&Bs they rent out for the students. At the sight– and overwhelming sound– of a hundred 10 through 17-year-old girls running around, Terri asked me “So, was this what it was always like when you guys growing up?”

I said, “Yeah, basically, except imagine that Simon was also a teenager, and all the girls were yelling ‘Simon! Simon! Simon!’”

It was good to see Roberto– I haven’t seen him in I don’t know how many years, and I’d never met his wife (it’s their ballet school). I also saw a couple of people I knew from back in the day, including little Stevie, who I have literally not seen in 15 years, and who now is not so little, is not so “Stevie” and who is now hot stuff at NYCB.

Photos with simonNot long after we got there, Simon was accosted by a bunch of his students, and we basically never got near him again.

Terri said, as we watched the girls take each others pictures with him, “So, basically, what you’re telling me is, nothing’s really changed.”

Pretty much.

Scavenger hunt in a ruined mansion on another planet

There were teams, and I was on one of them. Nobody in the scavenger hunt were originally from the planet we were on. We weren’t scavenging for stuff, it was for clues to some puzzle. But the puzzle wasn’t just some made up game, we were really supposed to figure something out that would help people everywhere.

This clue was in a ruined mansion near a lake. It was night. Everything was dirty and grubby inside and it smelled woody and earthen. The wooden fixtures were getting eaten by termites and decomposing into dirt. The lighting was bad, maybe there were candles, and we had flashlights. On the second floor there was a Vandercook cylinder press under a dusty tarp in one room. Other teams were racing past. We lifted up the tarp– other people had been there before us– and I started to read the clue spelled out in the type. There was one interpretation of the clue that the words seemed to suggest. but I could tell there was a trick there: I could see that there was some arrangement of other letters, mostly “C”s near the bottom that, along with the words, made some kind of design, but it was hard to see. I realized I should just go to my printing studio and get some ink and actually run the press and we would see something the other teams hadn’t seen.

I ran outside to get on my bike to go to my studio (which was still in Somerville, which apparently was on this planet). It was dawn outside, and hilly, and it smelled like Pennsylvania, and I think it was.

Do you remember Walter?

Speaking of Facebook, I just roundaboutly got found by a really good friend who I knew when I was in high school, who I sort of thought I’d never hear from again. I guess maybe that’s not quite true, we always seemed to run into each other at unlikely times and places. So I sort of thought we would just run into each other walking down the street in Boston or in an airport in DC or something. Back in the day, we lived maybe an hour and a half away from each other and went to different high schools, but we always seemed to run into each other in the city in the least likely places at the least likely times. Like the time that my friend Greg and I went into Pittsburgh to see a play; we saw her walking down the street on the way there, and she came with us. Meeting up was often that haphazard, but we were pretty close, we had long phone conversations and I think we went to her homecoming dance together as a pretext to go the the Rocky Horror Picture Show afterward.

Anyway, the last time I saw her was just after college in the weeks before I moved to Boston and she moved to DC, when we drank Mickey’s Big Mouths on her parents’ porch late into the night, and talked about Big Life Transitions and such. After that, we maybe emailed a couple of times. And then even the occasional “I’m still alive” messages stopped maybe five years ago. While I said earlier that I always thought we’d run into each other again, in truth, I’ve been a little concerned about the silence.

I am definitely a little surprised at some of the facts I’ve been able to pick up. But it’s good; she looks happy. Anyway, I’m very curious to see if she’ll actually get in touch with me again; I really hope so, but I’m also just glad to know she’s still out there.

I guess this kind of thing is not that noteworthy; I find people and people find me all the time. I just am really happy about this one.

New friendly bloggers

Turns out a couple of friends have been quietly blogging.

First, Doug, who is the mutual friend who introduced me & Terri, and in whose wedding party I wore a kilt, has a blog. Encourage him to post. It’s good for him.

Second, Cheri, whom Terri met a couple of jobs ago, and whom we see all too seldom since she moved to the West coast, has a great, great blog going at Parlancer.

Third, Jenn, a college friend, is blogging here, and I’ve gotta say, reading her blog pretty much approximates having a conversation with her, which is a Good Thing.

And actually there are some other people, but I don’t know if I should out them or not.

And, for what it’s worth, I’ve found most of them on Facebook. It seems like sometime in the last 6 months, absolutely everybody I have ever known (or am related to) in my whole life suddenly appeared on Facebook. I don’t love it, I don’t have any special objection to it (I am not a privacy nut, I crossed that bridge a long time ago), but it doesn’t make my eyes bleed like MySpace, and now that everybody I have ever known (or am related to) in my whole life is on it, it’s kind of interesting to keep superficial tabs on everybody. It’s kind of like using finger on the VAX back in the day to see what everybody is up to. Don’t take offense, though, if I don’t accept your invitation to the green patch where your zombie vampire hatchling plays scrabble with my good karma, it’s not personal, I just need to draw the line somewhere.

Daily Dispatch, 31 May 2008

Woke up at 8ish, Saturday-style. Terri was still asleep so I read The Yiddish Policeman’s Union in bed for a couple of hours. I’m really loving it. It’s got all the smarts and ambition of a the other Michael Chabon novels but with much less sphincter and much less of the “look at how smart I am”.

The morning was growing long in the tooth and my hair has been driving me crazy, so I made to get up and go to Custom Barber Shop in Harvard Square. Weezie woke up and I talked her into coming along. There were an insane number of kids waiting in line to get into some kind of new sneaker store on Brattle Street; I couldn’t figure out what the deal was, like if there was some kind of rock or hip hop star signing something inside, but Terri seemed to think it was just the sneakers.

We had some fun in two of the remaining bookshops in Harvard Square. Had some late lunch at Cambridge Common and blabbed. We dropped a bunch of coats, clothes, and books off at Goodwill. I dropped some Letterpress Guild Print Fair posters off with Melissa, a fellow printer, to put up around Davis Square.

We headed home and continued to work on our massive life-cleanup project. We’re currently going through every single thing in every closet and just throwing crap out. It’s liberating. I whittled my casette tape collection down to 10 or so tapes. And those I kept not so much for the content as mementos with talismanic value. Remaining:

  • Diane… The Twin Peaks Taps of Agent Cooper
  • The Wendy Carlos Switched-On Bach Album (note, this is the 1983 version, hence “Wendy”, not “Walter”)
  • a tape I made of a record from the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh that was an hour-long interview with Glenn Gould originally made for the CBC
  • A Cab Calloway compilation tape I bought and listened to incessently during my junior semester in Ireland
  • The Repo Man soundtrack, ordered through BMG Music Club in college
  • various tapes of the short-lived bunch of people I played music with in college, which I hesitate to call a band
  • A bunch of microcasettes; I have no idea what’s on them, but it’s probably interesting. I’m guessing old answering machine tapes or various stuff I recorded for articles I wrote during my internship at In Pittsburgh Newsleekly or perhaps for my college paper. I wonder if I have anything to play them on.

We never managed to eat dinner, so I had some brie with a hunk of day-old baguette.

Now we’re waching the Penguins game, and I think I have to go because it’s a 5-on-3 situation in favor of the Penguins…

Home is where you know the call letters

Terri and I have been talking recently about where “home” is. When we go to Pennsylvania to visit my parents, I say “I’m going to visit my parents” or “I’m going to The Farm” but to me, home has not really been there since I was 18.

That said, I have lived in Somerville or Cambridge for almost 12 years now, and I still have no idea what the local TV network affiliates are. I know there is a channel 7, and I think it might be Fox. I know there is a WBZ and I think it is CBS, but I don’t know what its number is. I know there are 3 variants of WGBH and that is PBS. All I really know for sure is that on RCN in Somerville, the Red Sox are on NESN which is channel 30, and Turner Classic Movies is channel 62.

But I can still name the ones I grew up with in Pittsburgh: 2 is KDKA, a CBS affiliate (one of the few if not the only “K” stations east of the Mississippi). 4 is WTAE, an ABC affiliate. 11 is WPXI, NBC (and it used to be WIIC which I was reminded of when we were at Nora and Jim’s the other week: they had a Pittsburgh Steelers WIIC mug!). And 13 is WQED, the oldest public TV station in the US.

That said, Somerville definitely feels more like home to me than Pittsburgh, but it’s weird to have lived here so long without being able to name a single network affiliate.

Edie LOLcat contest

We have two winners: John had the idea first, but Helmecki the Elder actually used appropriate LOLcat syntax.

I haz blockd ur pop-ups

Runner up: Marco’s simple “My space”.

Helmecki: email me your address at ezraball at gmail to claim your peanuts.

Marry me

Many people want to make
want to make love
make friends
make peace with death.

Many people want to play the game they came to win
They want to come out ahead.

as for me, i have to agree, I’m as fickle as a paper doll
come on…
we’ll do what married people do.
Oh, John…
Come on…
we’ll do what Mary and Joseph did
(without the kid)
I want to marry you…