Monday, September 15, 2008

you may be a redneck if. . .

Everyone knows Bryan as a car guy. Cars are more than a hobby for him; they are his life force. Our barn and driveway are filled with cars, most of them "projects," "works-in-progress," or "parts cars." Some of them are registered, and usually we have a spare car or two, just in case (I know this sounds frivolous, but with the exception of the GTV-6, which is completely apart at the moment, most of the cars are beaters with fancy brand names).

So there is much humor and irony in the fact that, although there are 5 cars in the driveway, we are down to one driveable car. Bryan's '87 BMW (in whose bumper I put a nice dent back in February) has been showing signs of revolt as of late. Ever resourceful, Bryan installed some kind of switch on the motor. "If the car stalls," he instructed last week, "pull over, pop the hood, and see if the red light is on. If it isn't, switch it on, and the car should start."

Let me back up a bit. It was already "funny" (okay, not so much to Bryan) that, Bryan's love of cars being what it is, we were driving a dented '87 model (okay, so it is a BMW, but still) and a big old down-home Chevy pickup truck. A far cry from the stately old Porsches Bryan likes to ogle on the web (not that we could ever afford one of those).

So today, just as I was leaving school, the car stalled. And wouldn't start again. I thought of calling a tow truck, but figured Bryan would have another solution. No surprise there. We got the truck, attached a bright yellow strap from the trailer hitch to the front of the BMW, and towed the car (me driving the truck, Bryan steering the sedan) from Quinnipiac back to our house. I kept my fingers crossed every time I took a corner, because as I was adjusting the rear view mirror, it came right off its perch, making it difficult to know for sure whether Bryan was behind me. Fortunately, after turning off Mount Carmel Ave., it's pretty much a straight shot.

Okay, so maybe towing our own car doesn't earn us redneck status, but it is something you don't see in this town every day, as was evidenced by the amused looks we received along the way. So, folks, if you ever need a tow, forget Triple A--just give us a holler.

heart walk

This past Saturday, I participated in the Start! Boston Heart Walk with Steph, my best friend from high school. Steph came up with the idea about a month ago, having seen the flier somewhere, and we've decided to do the walk every year in memory of our dads (Steph lost hers when we were teenagers). The 6.2 mile course started and finished at the Esplanade, right alongside the Charles River.

Before the event, friends kept asking, "So when's your race?" "It's a walk," I had to keep reminding them. And yes, walking, rather than sprinting, across the finish line was a rather new experience for me. But I have to say that I really enjoyed the pace. It's not often that I take the time to stroll along the river with a good friend, especially one I don't get to see very often. Despite all forecasts to the contrary, the weather was lovely, the Boston skyline was picturesque, and the conversation was easy and constant.

On the Hatch Shell, one or some of the members of the J. Geils Band were playing old J. Geils hits. Crossing the finish line to the tune of "Love Stinks" was a little anti-climactic, but overall, the event was well-organized and fun. Thanks again to all who supported me.

(not so) exotic visitor

On Thursday, I was trimming the shrubs in the front of our house when I came upon this long-legged arachnid. He was perched on a parchment-thin web, and when he heard me exclaim, "Wow!" he moved on top of his prey, as you see him doing in the photo. I hadn't ever encountered a spider this glamorous in Connecticut. Bryan suggested that the spider had ridden in on an imported bush, and we decided that a spider so colorful must be poisonous.

On Saturday, my mom looked him up on the web. Based on the markings, he seems to be a Yellow Argiope, also known as a Garden Spider, or Writing Spider (apparently there is a legend in which the Argiope writes a person's name in zig-zag the night before the unfortunate victim's death). We were all a little disappointed to discover that the spider is actually quite common, distributed fairly evenly throughout the lower 48. But it was a neat encounter nonetheless, and the little creature takes quite a stunning photograph.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Two weeks ago, we took down the 30-foot spruce tree that adorned our side yard. Bryan had talked about doing this for years, but I was resistant to the idea. I loved the tree. It was very north woods, and if I blocked out the surrounding suburban capes, I could pretend, as I sat on the patio, that we were living somewhere in Vermont.

Bryan doesn't like to hire professionals. And to his credit, he is a jack-of-all trades. But that didn't make me any less apprehensive about his insistence on taking on the task himself. But he was right: the tree did need to come down. When he took a few branches off, I could see that it was leaning quite precariously in the direction of our bedroom.

My friend Anne and I returned from a trail run on the designated morning to find the kids running in the yard, and Bryan heading for the tree with a chainsaw. Anne looked frightened, but tried to keep her composure. "He's, uh, really just gonna go right at it, huh?" She looked at the kids, who were oblivious to the scene.
I laughed, because I knew he was just making a few cuts. Anne was relieved.

After clearing off all of the bottom branches, Bryan found some straps and tied the tree to the trailer hitch on the pickup truck. We sent the kids and the dog next door, and I was instructed to "put my foot on the gas, gently, until the tree starts to lean."

Not a difficult task, but one I was hesitant to take on nonetheless. I did as Bryan said, then turned back. I was aware of two things happening in the same moment: Bryan yelling either "Noooo!" or "Go!"(the distinction seemed an important one), and the tree falling straight toward the bed of the truck, and, by association, me.

I was motionless for a few seconds, stunned. The tree is falling, I thought. The tree is going to fall on me.

And then I heard a "thump," and it was over. And the tree was in the middle of the yard, having just missed the truck's bumper. No damage to the garden. A perfect bullseye.
Here are the part-time arborists cleaning up the mess.

We had no idea the Yankees did charity yard work.

We put a cute little dogwood in place of the spruce. In the end, I think the yard is much more aesthetically pleasing. I'm not in Vermont, but suburban CT has its charms, I guess.