Pigeon mating rituals.

This weekend in one word: Glorious. Let’s face it, Spring is the BEST. Yes, I know I love Fall, and summer rocks, and winter has its perks, but whose spirit doesn’t soar when the weather turns warm, the sky is blue, and trees are casting snowy petals to the wind like confetti. Thankfully we spent almost all of the weekend outside. Yesterday we took a long walk with the ladies into town and back. They both really impressed me with their stamina and stoicism. Only on the return trip did they begin to complain about being tired, and even then, not much. Given that we walked at least 8 miles, I’d say that’s pretty darn good.

My favorite part of yesterday – apart from the “Cream Delight” donuts we had for breakfast and the general pleasantness of the day and company, was witnessing Springtime at its finest in the middle of the city. Rittenhouse Square was quite the scene. And not just the humans. All of creation seemed hepped up and ready for action. We spent a good bit of time watching the pigeons. This was my first foray into the live-action show that is Pigeon Mating, and let me tell you, it was fascinating.

It began with a dance. I noticed one particularly striking brown male strutting eagerly around a female gray. He wound his way round her, following her every move like a defensive basketball player, vigorously bobbing his head and strutting to get her attention. The female seemed less than impressed. Brown Guy was not thwarted. Within seconds he’d puffed out his neck to stellar proportions and began cooing to beat the band. This guy meant BUSINESS. His neck seemed to say, “Baby, Look at ME. JUST LOOK AT THIS NECK. I am THE MAN.” She still seemed disinterested, and in fact, began moving across the grass as though trying to escape. Within seconds, a second male had flown in. A large gray. He mimicked the brown guy’s initial bobbing dance, then BAM! there went the neck. Feathers puffed, flesh engorged and rippling. The two males circled and puffed, locked in hot pursuit of this most-attractive female, and she dodged and wove, completely immune to their charms. Here, there, everywhere across the park there were small groupings of pigeons reenacting this age-old ritual. Every now and then I would see the fruits of their labor come to fruition, as one of the males would leap up onto the back of a female, and seconds later it was over. and Another dance had begun. The whole thing gave me a new-found appreciation for pigeons. Yes, I know everyone in the city (or at least most folks) despise them, but they are truly interesting and beautiful birds.

An all-too-short weekend.

Hope you all had a fun & relaxing weekend.

Me, I got spoiled. On Saturday my husband took the ladies to a friend’s birthday party, leaving me with 3 hours of complete freedom. WOW. I walked into town. I stopped for a chocolate croissant at a little cafe – all by MYSELF. I went clothes shopping at H&M. I cannot tell you how nice it was being able to try on as many clothes as I liked – so many in fact, that I lost track – with no children beating on each other, pestering me about how bored they are or grabbing my behind. I’d almost forgotten what it was like. And it was AWESOME.

Sunday, a beloved & very brave friend took the ladies to the Camden Aquarium, leaving John & I free to go walking with our dog Max, who absolutely LIVES for these rare jaunts as only child.. We explored a local nature refuge, spending a lot of time off the beaten path.

Back in the day this land used to be a whole town. Streets with shops and homes, and people. Before the Philadelphia redevelopment authority confiscated the land and razed it all to the ground to make way for airport (and Korman Suites) expansion. A very sad story, especially since this area, known as The Meadows, was long home to my husband’s family. The whole place is very surreal. Open fireplugs sprout from the ground like metal flowers, and the ground is littered with half-buried construction debris, tires, empty beer cans and other trash. The oddest thing is how many lifeless shoes we found dotting the landscape. Dozens of them. What could have compelled all these people to not only remove, but LEAVE, their shoes like this?? I half-imagined we’d turn a corner and find a big mound of corpses. It’s a very strange place. Feel free to check out a few photos HERE.

And now it’s MONDAY. again. Back to the workweek. I tend to get a little depressed on Mondays. But sometimes I enjoy feeling maudlin, so I’ve been watching the old Boomtown Rats song on Youtube and sort of reveling in it. Another weekend gone. Oh well.

Weekend with Mommy

My weekend in one word:

CHA-CHING!!!!!!!!!!

And in two:

CHA CHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For those of you who are vision impaired, Saturday night I won $738.50 at the Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa on a slot machine. I will NOT tell you which one b/c it is now my secret luckiest winniest machine ever and MINE ALONE. Plus I do NOT want to encourage anyone in the folly that is gambling. Let’s face it folks, you are probably better off going into the bathroom, taking out your wallet and flushing it down the toilet than to try to WIN AT GAMBLING b/c it ain’t gonna happen. EXCEPT FOR ME!!!!!!!! WOOHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

What a magnificently crazy fun-filled weekend!! Today I am trying to get back into the swing of things, but frankly I’m really not feeling much inclined. And who can blame me? The prospect of laundry and chores, bleech. I haven’t even brushed my teeth yet, and I might not now b/c I AM RICH. I am ready to retire for good. Like my good friend Jim next door who has thrown in the towel after 36 glorious years. And I am not speaking of 36 years of WORK – Oh NO! He is 36 and has decided to retire. B/c THAT is West Philly living and I LOVE IT!

SO where was I?? Oh yes, the weekend was grand. Well to be honest it started out a little shitty, but what else could it be when a sewer line backs up into your basement? Ahhhhh. Nothing like the smell of poop in the morning. Or the afternoon. Cause that’s how long it took us to remedy THAT lil problem. And by US you know of course I mean my beloved husband, b/c he’s the one who had to touch the stuff. YUM-YUM. Here is a photo for your enjoyment:

Look at that hand. He joked that he was going to rinse it in gasoline, but I do not think he actually did. At least not while I was watching. He had to go to the Home Depot and rent a big giant snake. It is a tool for plunging out your sewer line and not the fanged animal of course, though that would have been preferable to the poo. So the weekend’s festivities got off to a bit of a late start, but you can see how Saturday night finished, so who cares. right? My husband is the BEST.

Sunday we took in the last day at the Philadelphia Flower Show. They were not being persnickety about which door you used either, much to my relief. Though of course you had to buy tickets which of course did not come cheap. But that’s o-kay b/c our weekend was ON THE BORGATA. So the flowers were fun, the swarming masses much less so. We ate lunch across the street at the Reading Terminal Market. We had cheesesteaks at Rick’s, which is still there, at least until the court date in June. I had not eaten at Rick’s for quite some time and realized why. No offense to Rick’s, but they are one of the few (if only) Philly cheesesteak joints that 1) don’t chop their meat, which I don’t care for, and 2) offer the “works” aka lettuce & tomato on the steaks. As a Philadelphian I have to say this is weird. I have eaten steaks all my life and have yet, until this weekend, to see hoagie fixins on one unless it’s a HOAGIE. Oh well. It was otherwise o-kay. And of course we had Bassett’s which rocks above all others. I had pumpkin AND peach on one cone and it was simply Heaven in an ice cream.

Yesterday we spent the day at Peddler’s Village in Lahaska. My parents used to live minutes from there in New Hope, and my mommy hadn’t been back since moving to Atlanta. Almost a year and a half ago. So we took the tour and tooled past her old pad. It was not looking too bad, but it just wasn’t the same. We spent the rest of the afternoon eating and playing games at Giggleberry Fair, the Peddler’s Village (slightly) less commercial equivalent of a Chuck E. Cheese. Since it was a Monday afternoon, it was D-E-A-D. My mom took the girls on the carousel and the older man who runs the thing let them stay on waaay longer than normal. I believe out of sheer boredom. It was great fun the first 5-10 minutes, but after that all three of them looked a bit queezy. My husband & I were both very glad to be watching from a bench. Afterward, we hit the outlets. My mommy bought the girls a HUGE bag full of stuff from the Children’s Place, they must have gotten like 5 outfits each. Everything was BEYOND CHEAP, like 99 cents, $2, $3. CRAZY. I think she spent $70 total on the whole lot of it. I really like the Children’s Place very cute & colorful clothing, but some of their stuff can lean distinctly towards trampville. Hoochie mama gear on women is mildly entertaining; on a 4 year old it is criminal.

My mommy also bought me the rockingest pair of shoes. They look like granny shoes, here I am wearing them:

YES they ARE COOL. They will look better w/out my fuzzy polka dot socks, but they still look great even with them. WOW. I love these shoes. I used to have a pair like this back in the early 90s (that’s 1990s NOT 1890s, though they probably looked just like this back then too). My friend Daffy just bought a similar pair. Yay! Okay now all you crazy salivating foot and shoe fetishists can MOVE ON.

SO I had been thinking of buying a sewing machine with my remaining Borgata winnings, but when we went to JoAnn Fabrics yesterday to check out the machines all they sold were Vikings. I’d read great things about Brother machines; not only are they inexpensive but they are supposed to be FABULOUS. So I passed on the $400 unknown Viking. I am going to continue researching. or maybe I will stumble into one at a thrift shoppe for an irresistible LOW LOW price and go for it. I am lucky, you know. But now that my mommy has once again returned south, the whole idea seems less pressing. Or maybe just less fun.

My mommy left at the crack of dawn this morn, leaving behind the faint scent of her perfume and the familiar dull ache which has returned once more to my heart. I know that there are people out there who have awful mommies. and I feel so badly for them. BUT I do not exaggerate when I say that my mommy is simply THE BEST MOMMY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD. Unfortunately for us, she is also a successful executive who now lives 800 miles away in ATLANTA. SO unlike yours truly, she can’t just hang out in West Philly for all eternity not brushing her teeth. Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond proud of my mom. To me as well as the rest of the world she is a certifiable SUCCESS in every way. And being a success is a good thing. But being on the receiving end of success sometimes truly sucks. I miss her. I wish she didn’t have to work so hard for people who don’t really care about her. My daughters sob when she leaves. And so do I.. Which is better?

All-in-all, this weekend of fun with my mommy has reminded me of several things. Poop smells. Gambling does not pay unless YOU WIN. And I would rather be with my family and have less money, than be rich & successful apart from them. YES money can be great, especially when you are poor. But it cannot buy you happiness. A lesson that Eliot Spitzer should have learned, but. unfortunately some never do.

My weekend so far, part 2

So last night, after we waited in line for a looooooooong looooooonnng time at the Borgata Buffet, we finally got seated. And even though our table was in the back darkened corner of the restaurant, adjacent to a flat-panel TV playing a show about the criminally insane, I rejoiced. Not only b/c I was FINALLY GOING TO GET TO EAT!!! but also b/c I was SO RELIEVED not to have to sit in a booth right beside the salivating onlookers still waiting in line. SO We filled our plates with heaping helpings of yum-yum food, and grazed to our hearts content. Then when we were stuffed to the brim, we discovered that they’d held out on us. Those chefs at the Borgata Buffet had not told us there were going to be shrimp with appendages. But sure enough, there they were. Heads-on, claws-on, shells-on shrimp – with their long cat-fish like antennae sticking out every which way. I am not sure I would have wanted to eat one, but that’s not the point, is it? We didn’t have the opportunity to decline them. People at all of the adjacent tables began bellying up with these crazy things and we just sat there, open mouthed. Oh well. Maybe next time. Afterwards we people-watched and played some slots. It’s almost amusing how quickly you can lose $20 in a slot machine, but it is not really funny.

This morning when our girls came home, our younger daughter had a black eye. Now before you get all riled up, let me say our friends did NOT beat her. At around 5 AM, they heard a loud THUNK from up above and ran up to find my younger daughter bleeding from the head and crying. Can you imagine? I know if this had happened to me I would likely be thinking HOW THEY HELL AM I GOING TO EXPLAIN THIS ONE?? Our daughter had unfortunately fallen out of bed, sound asleep, and cracked her head on the nightstand. YOUCH. My friend wanted to bandage her up, but she’d already fallen back asleep. She told me she’d never been so relieved in her life as when 1) she determined my daughter had not lost her eye, and 2) when the kids got up this morning and my younger daughter was functioning normally. I think she would have felt really bad returning her broken. Kids are so resilient, it’s the adults I worry about.

And so I am now back from the baby shower, and what a great time. I always thought these things were dull, but no way. I have never been to such a fun baby shower in all of my life. I could tell that baby was just raring to come out and join us. And who wouldn’t be, with all that food and WINE?? AND What a lot of great loot! Those people were terrific gift givers. In fact, I would like to invite many of my friend’s friends to MY next baby shower. and I am not even pregnant. And that is a good thing b/c I think I am a little hungover from that baby shower. I even got to see my old beloved couch.

It was right next to my friend’s laboring pool. It looks so fun, I told her I was going to come over in my swimsuit when she was laboring and get right in with her. Then I can lie on the couch and watch the birth. Just joking. I am not good with blood. Though I must tell you, my younger daughter asked me the other day – with complete earnestness – when she was going to get to see J’s baby being born. After much puzzling, I finally asked Honey, do you mean you want to watch J.’s baby coming out of her vagina? (My kids KNOW about birth). And she said, Oh, yes. like it was the most normal request ever. I had to tell her that I didn’t think J. was going to want her watching. But still.. Kids say the darnedest things.

My weekend so far

Yes, things have been ever-so-exciting here at our palatial West Philly estate on this 3-day Presidents weekend. Yesterday I took care of some friends children most of the day, while my husband caught up on schoolwork (but mostly surfed the internet). I baked a cake for another friend’s party, but got distracted and when my husband yelled, HEY YOU WANT ME TO TAKE THIS OUT OF THE OVEN? I ran downstairs panic-stricken to find my beautiful cheesecake the color of burnt caramel. But I will be bringing it anyway. I don’t have time to make another one – the party is today. And it is a baby shower, so maybe they won’t notice. I cleaned the kitchen cabinets b/c I was bored and they were disgusting. But then I got even more bored and I stopped half-way through. My husband said he was jealous that I was getting to clean the cabinets and I felt really bad for him b/c that is so sad. His schoolwork must be truly awful.

Last night my husband and I had a Date Night Out (OOOooooohhhhhh). I know you are all hopelessly jealous, but try not to hate me too much. We decided to stay out as late as we wanted too b/c our friends were keeping the girls OVERNIGHT. (OOOOoooooohhhhh…) Yes, I CAN FEEL your envy. We decided to go where we always go when we have a night totally to ourselves. Atlantic City! And we were not alone. It was a way busy night down in AC, what with the Village People performing at Resorts and Frankie Valli at the Borgata. I am not a big fan of either, but they are both well-liked by many. The groups of fans were identifiably different and that was fun too.

So we did what we always do when we go down there. We went to stuff our faces at the Borgata Buffet. It was a very long wait at the Buffet. The line wound round 4 of those theme park line dividers, there must have been 150 people ahead of us. All waiting. I amused myself by staring at the people whose tables were closest to the waiting area. I sent them telepathic messages imploring them to throw a shrimp or two my way, b/c I was so hungry. I told my husband there should be some sort of device which tracks hunger, much like a metal detector detects metal. As you came into line at the Borgata Buffet, a restaurant worker would wave this special wand over your stomach and it would register your hunger in decibels. The hungriest would be moved to the front of the line automatically, leaving the less hungry to wait – and as they waited of course, their hunger would increase, making it an altogether more pleasant and satisfying experience for all. Especially me, b/c my hunger was very great and I would have been seated an hour earlier than last night.

While we were waiting in the verrrrrry loooonnngg line, I distracted my husband with stories from the supremely hilarious book I have been reading. It is called The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs and it is laugh-out-loud funny. I truly love this book, I guffaw heartily and then my husband calls from the other room – HEY WHAT ARE YOU LAUGHING AT? I am reading honey. OH, THAT BIBLE BOOK? Yeah. OH. I think he is jealous of this A.J. Jacobs for making me laugh so hard. And I am not joking. He has glanced at his dust-jacket photo and I know he is thinking Boy I am glad that A.J.Jacobs looks like a writer and not a movie star (no offense, A.J.). Also, my husband has begun growing a beard. At first it was a mystery as to why. I complained but I FINALLY get it. He is jealous and wants me to like his beard. I think. It took me a while to put 2 and 2 together, but I am finally getting 4. So this book I am reading is all about A.J. (and his alter-ego, Jacob)’s quest to live by the rules of the Bible for a year. NOT AN EASY TASK. So many whacky rules to abide by. Like tending sheep, and not touching women. His wife Julie deserves accolades for her patience. I laugh as much about that as anything. I cannot imagine what it must have been like living with this guy for a year, on the receiving end of all this oddity.  I picture a lot of heavy sighing.  Way to go, Julie!  You are a very good wife.  So I regaled my husband with funny stories from this book, and I could sense even the women in line behind us listening, b/c it is that THAT funny. You really must read this book. I am looking forward to reading A.J.’s other book, The-Know-It-All when I am done. I just know it will be good fun.

I will have to tell you more about my adventures later, as I have to go to the baby shower now.  Hope you are having a fun weekend too.

Sunday

Yesterday, early afternoon. We left the house to go pick up our older daughter from a friend’s, then proceed downtown to check out the Philly Home Show. My husband is crazy about home improvement stuff. So we left our house, drove 6 blocks to our friends’ place, got our daughter, drove another 1/2 block to the service station for some oil, turned around and drove another 12 blocks to go get on the expressway, when we hear this loud scraping noise. WHAT WAS THAT?! My husband stops the car. He hops out to discover

his favorite coffee cup’s been hitching a ride on the roof all this time. The coffee was still in the cup, and from what he said, tasted as good as it did when we left the house. Now if that isn’t a testament to my husband’s impeccable driving, I don’t know what it.

So we get downtown, park, and we’re walking through Chinatown to the convention center. I love Chinatown. It’s so neat. Where else would people sell chicken feet out of a box located right on the sidewalk? Now THAT’s convenience. My older daughter was thinking there isn’t a whole lot of meat on a chicken’s foot. Silly! These look plenty meaty. Yum-YUM.

We were so happy to finally reach the convention center because it was REALLY REALLY COLD outside. BBBBRRRRR!!! But unfortunately when we got to the convention center, and went through the door that said ENTRANCE and were just about to walk over to the booth for our tickets, we were stopped by a security guard who told us that we had to go back outside and around to the other end of the building and use the OFFICIAL ENTRANCE DOOR FOR THE HOME SHOW. We pointed out that the ticket booth was a stone’s throw away, and there were lots of other people standing around but apparently at the PA Convention Center you must use THE PROPERLY LICENSED DOOR. So we had to go back outside into the freezing cold and walk around to the other end of the building to wind up exactly where we’d just been. b/c THAT’S HOW IT WORKS HERE IN PHILLY and don’t you forget it.

We finally bought our tickets, paid another $6 to check our coats, then spent the next 20 minutes at the restroom. You see, when you have children and you are THE MOM, you spend a lot of time in bathrooms. I have seen the inside of so many of them that I have my own personal Potty System™.  I am a patient woman. That works in my favor. I ask my kids once, twice, sometimes three times, DO YOU HAVE TO GO? I rarely listen to the answer because sometimes they lie.  So instead I say, YOU WILL GO NOW BECAUSE THIS IS YOUR CHANCE. My older daughter is very good, she is older and listens to me. My younger daughter is a crap-shoot (no pun intended). Like yesterday. We were all tightly squeezed into the stall and she adamantly denied having to go.  Then we get outside and 5 minutes later she’s hopping up and down. This is the norm. So I spend a lot of time in bathrooms. I critique them silently while my child/ren are doing their business. I award mental points for cleanliness, stock-age and overall aesthetic appeal. Bonus points are given to places w/pull-down plastic changing tables.  My kids may be out of diapers, but no one should have to change their baby on a cold & often filthy floor. Restrooms with sanitary product dispensing machines with ACTUAL PADS AND TAMPONS get extra bonus points. The convention center bathrooms are new and fairly clean.  They have multicolor tile patterns on the wall above the toilets, placed to interest mothers just like me. They have soap dispensers with the foamy type of soap I prefer. The bathrooms at the Franklin Institute (where we went Saturday) are nice. They are very clean. In fact, I noted seeing the same cleaning attendant in three of their bathrooms as we made our way through the building. She was very diligently sweeping up stray bits of TP.  A+

The home show itself was okay. We went last year, and it was exactly the same this year. Aisle after aisle of people trying to sell you stuff. Flooring, kitchens, bathrooms, home security. Saunas and spas. HOT TUBS!! My older daughter helpfully pointed out that several of the large tubs have built-in places for your WINE. WOW. There were a few people set up with those head-mics, yelling at you to buy their knives, or wonder towels, or amazing dirt sucking up mops. I saw one guy actually toting his purchased mop around the place and couldn’t help thinking a GUY WHO MOPS!! WOW. We even saw GM selling cars, though i don’t know many people rich enough to have a car inside their house. As I told my husband, we have been there 2 years in a row, do not ask me to come a third. Fortunately, we are in complete agreement. I found out on the last aisle, the only reason he wanted to come was to buy more stained glass for our house. Unfortunately, he forgot that he bought the stained glass at last year’s FLOWER SHOW. Oh well. We’ll be back to the convention center for that in March. I will try to remember to use the right door.