Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Summer Saturday in Maine

That's right the Banjos and Brastraps duo are back together this weekend in Maine for a summer Saturday!  After a series of subtle and somewhat blatant hints about coming up to see the wildness that is Kristina's garden, Carrie crawled through Boston rush hour late Thursday night to arrive in the balmy foothills of Western ME [That's "Maine" for those of you who don't know your state abbreviations.  Its ok, we still love you] where the temp that evening was in the mid-50s.

Friday's adventures included a trip to Frost's Antiques where I found a hinge for my porch windows that I'm in the process of refinishing.  Let's not talk any more about that project right now.  Ah hem... we then took a leisurely drive to Gardiner ME - after driving through semi-conjested traffic in downtown Farmington because apparently it was "Summer Fest" in town.  There were people all over the place - Carrie notes: "there were more people in town then I've ever seen in Farmington!" and then proceeded to note that the one weekend that something big was going on, I was taking her on an out-of-town adventure.

We met up with our buddy Jordan for lunch (who is a new Pastor w/the Methodist church - at some point we'll probably be reporting on "Party at the Pastors" since he's got new digs near the ocean).  I decided it was time for Carrie to visit the A1 Diner, which is fairly famous in foodie circles.  It carries local food, everything is homemade and you can find everything from a hamburger made of local organic beef to funky Asian dishes w/tofu or a Mediterranean Tajeen (sp?).  Jordan had a blue cheese burger, Carrie had mac-n-cheese and peas (Carrie notes: "not together"), I had blackbean and sweet potato chili with a side of homemade, homecut fries.  If it was a little later in the day we would of had beers but we were onto a shopping adventure at Chez Reny's and then Target. 

Later that day ....

I was in the process of making hamburgers, fresh yellow wax beans from my garden and sliced cucumber from Gretchen and Ruth's garden when Ruth called.  She had put in a 12 hour day working on a report (she is a fluvial geomorphologist), she needed me to come get her and take her to get her pick-up truck so we could be successful on our Saturday morning adventure - and - she might be out of gas.  So after dinner I grabbed what gas I had for the snow blower, Carrie and I hopped in the car and went and got Ruth.  We finished with that around 10pm, went and got our own gas and then when we returned home, I gathered my morning outfit together and had a wee bit of wine as I was getting nervous for my first time playing 'catch and toss the chicken'.

For the next four and one-half hours I had crazy dreams including one where I was surrounded by chickens going "Oh NO, I can't do this, I'm totally letting Ruth down!", to waking up two or three times worried that I was going to oversleep.  But, the alarm rang at 5, I quietly moved about the house putting on my carharts, worn 'work' MGFD (that's Maple Grove Fire Department) sweatshirt, work gloves and worn-out smokey the bear ball cap on while Carrie slept soundly for ten hours.

It was an absolutely beautiful, sleepy, coffee-filled morning.  As I was leaving my house the sun was starting to rise but I could still see the moon clearly in what was left of the night sky.  It was cool out and quiet.  By the time I got to Ruth and Gretchen's house, the sun was up and all kinds of wonderful colors and light was filling the sky - yet there was a bit of a feeling of uncertainty as we got ready to gather the chickens.  {Carrie says I'm being too wordy so I'll move it along} - we basically took the chickens out of the outside cage (aka 'chicken tractor') they were in and gently tossed them into the back of the pick-up truck.  Only one managed to get past us so we ran around the yard a bit but I did not freeze up as in my dream.  It was a little difficult but ok once we just focused on what our task was.  We drove about 25 minutes to the processing place which was very interesting and I won't share those details (it was humane) and it was a powerful experience.

When I got back home, I worked in the garden until Carrie got up - she's bringing home some yellow wax beans & patty pan squash from her adventures.  Later that day we happened to find some blackberries at a friends' house nearby who happen to be out of the country right now (thanks!). We walked
to town and had some gelato at the new Wicked Gelato store and then came home.

Tonight we decided to stay put, have a nice dinner of chicken speedies (but not chicken from today's adventure) and relax.

Best misheard comment of the day: "How long do you want to marry Nate the Chicken?"

Saturday, July 24, 2010

C is for Crayons, Curdled Milk and Carnies

For the past few days I have been on vacation with my sister, Stephanie, and her family at Sesame Place -- more on all the fun we had there in another post and pictures too -- I forgot my camera so I have to get them from my sister.

Yesterday we headed back to Geneva, but on the way made a side trip to the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA.  The girls had fun playing with model magic, crayons, markers, and paint.  They made lots of fun projects and got some free crayons and markers to take with them.  We also made a squished penny as a souvenir.

After riding in the car and getting almost to Binghamton, Abby (the almost 2 year old) began puking in the car -- mostly curdled milk and french fries -- pleasant I know.  My sister and brother-in-law cleaned her and the car seat up on the side of the road (I wasn't much help in that department so I entertained the children) and we headed on our way to a rest stop to stretch (and air out the car).  The rest of the trip home was uneventful and we made it back safely.

When I got back to Geneva I rested for an hour and then went with my brother and his family to the Hemlock Fair.  We waded through the mud, saw a tractor pull (the highlight of my nephew's evening) and some animals, rode the rides and played some games.  We entertained ourselves with a lot of people watching - and there were some good ones!  I think the best would be a family of three who stopped to talk with Lesley and myself while my brother and nephew were on the giant slide.  It was a mom, son and daughter.  All three came out of a dark muddy spot by one of the barns.  The son was about 12 or 13, was tall and lanky had on overalls and no shoes.  The daughter was about 5 or 6 had a vacant stare on her face and was carrying a lantern that she kept holding to her face while smiling strangly at us.  The mom was commenting on the animals we were holding from one of the games and said she would give them all to Goodwill.  At this comment the daughter held up her lantern and laughed -- weird!  I also got hit on by a carnie while riding the balloon ride with my nephew.  He was asking if I was his older 21 year old sister -- my nephew of course said yes because he had no idea what the guy was asking and just wanted to get on with the ride.  The guy kept talking to me and emphasizing that I was at least 21 -- maybe he was in trouble for talking to people under 21?  As he walked away my nephew looked at me and said "What was that guy talking about?"  So that was my day -- started in Pennsylvania with crayons and ended in New York with the carnies...what a day!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Clearly back in Maine

This weekend Carrie and I are decompressing from our adventure in very different ways.  Yesterday she was roaming around Boston with a pal from undergrad and I was at the famous Ice Out party in a secret location in Western Maine.  The party is a tradition that was started a while ago which celebrates the end of winter.  Whomever best guesses (although some claim using secret scientific tests) the date that all the ice is out (that's 'all melted' for you Southerners) on Egypt Pond, becomes the Ice Queen or King (see the foto of this year's queen (again!) and her dancing princess on the right).

Her/ his responsibility is to plan a menu and the rest of us (can you tell I've never won?) then make.  Once we find a day in which we can all get together, we kayak / canoe out onto the pond and share our meal via a series of courses and varied locations on the pond. [This photo of the sign above is a clue to the name of the owners of the house at which the festivities took place].

In the four years I've been participating, we've had mixed results in terms of eating on the pond and yesterday was no exception.  This year's theme was Mexican food.  We had Mexican salad with corn and black beans, cheddar jalapeno corn bread, guacamole with chips, pico de gallo, chile rellanos, Oaxaca tacos (pictured on the right), churros, margaritas and other things I'm sure I'm forgetting - perhaps due to the margs.  As usual there was a ton of yummy homemade foods complete with assorted giggling.  Due to rain, we ate on the screened-in porch and when things let up we loaded up the watercraft, bug spray and desert and were on our way.
It was a beautiful day - most folks went swimming and a few of us kayaked or canoed.  Everything was perfect until I was attacked by a pond shark named Gretchen.  Jordan and I were hanging out by some rocks, he was in the process of winning the Egypt Pond belly flop competition, when I felt this pulling on the back of my kayak.  Before I knew it, the shark was on the back of the boat and we were tipping back-n-forth and slowly taking on water - soon it was all over, I was in the water.  Luckily for me, pond sharks usually only attack watercraft.  Once I recovered my hat (my glasses somehow stayed on), the shark calmed down and helped me to right the kayak.  In gratitude, I towed her back to the dock.  If you look closely, you'll see two heads in the water - Jordan looks like he's attacking us but he's really helping us out. 

Thankfully I had a change of clothes and we spent the rest of the night playing games and attempting to play music. 
Today I began to deal with the weeds in the garden, mowing the grass that's roughly shin-level and harvesting the last of my radishes.  I did manage to find some ripe red and black raspberries. I think I'll eat them with a chocolate covered ice cream bar later today.
Now that I'm feeling like an old lady, I'm going to go post garden pictures on facebook and then take a nap, mow or actually do some work.  ta ta

Saturday, July 10, 2010


This is the registration sticker from Kenny the rental car that we used while Consuela was in time out due to her temper-ature tantrum in VA. 

Good thing we didn't do anything to get pulled over or we may have been in a whole heap of trouble!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

road trip recap (uno)

Meals: $162.58

Souvenirs: $1,203 (rental car + new radiator for non-rental car)

Tolls: $60

Spending 8 days in the car with your BFF: priceless

Having safely arrived back in Wollaston - we are in the process of catching up on our posts. This post has three parts titled: "things that suck", "things that don't suck" and "essential questions".

part one: things that suck

108 degrees outside while dealing with a cracked radiator in 4th of July traffic on I64 in Newport News VA

vaccuum cleaners

cash only establishments that fix cars

wideload trucks

rainbow twizzlers


a 93 degree apartment


people with straws

part two: things that don't suck

the Zingraff Thomas family, the Ryan Clan, the Pulliam family, the Waldron Koloff collective and the McKenna Egbert family.

Listening to the Boss sing "Born in the USA" in NJ

shimmy shake shimmy shake

cherry twizzlers

a personal bag carrying sherpa

a personal drink sherpa

free meals (and complementary adult beverages)

pop-up books

curious children

neighborhood 4th of July parades

The Deadliest Catch ( just to be clear this is on KBWs list not CLCs)

free laundry (but "Free Willy" sorta sucks)

Richard (aka 'Dick') the Tom Tom (except when he wouldn't shut up - then he goes in the other category)

part three: essential questions

What, do you think I'm stupid?

What's a footlocker?

Why do you think you don't see any of my college friends here?

Is ice a condiment?

What ring is your hand on?

And lastly:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Banjos & Brastraps Game

Throughout the trip there have been several interesting things said -- can you guess who said what - Carrie or Kristina?

If you say that one more time I'll hit you in the head with this GPS! (that's an easy one if you read the blog)
I don't care where you stop, I just need to get out of this car!
What would you do if I threw up all over you?
What would you do if I cut off your head?
Who would put BBQ pig on an Acura?
Just in case you are a little sleepy, the speed limit is 65 and you're only going 60.
What would you do if I fell asleep at the wheel?
After you climb over the front seat, how do you get back?
Consuela needs a time out!

Are you going to stay up with us all night?
If by all night you mean until 11pm then count me in!

A 2 cent raise again?
For what?
That’s why I buy the forevers.
Yeah, but they’re ugly.
I don’t care, I’m not getting jacked around by the post office.

We're HOT -- but not in a good way!

After leaving Norfolk, we headed to Fairfax Station, VA to see one of Kristina’s friends from when she was an undergraduate back in MN many moons ago. The traffic was horrendous and Consuela (the Saab) decided that she needed a break from all the travels and I watched with alarm as the temperature gauge went up. After pulling off the highway we used our 1/2 jug of water to try to cool the car down which worked for about 10 minutes. We considered buying coolant, but decided it wasn’t the right kind and tried to continue to Pep Boys. When the TomTom tried to make us get back on the highway we pulled into the Citgo/Piggi Mart to see what they thought and to strategize the next move. The folks at PRS Auto Repair said there was a hole in the radiator and that it would take at least $550 to fix it and not until Wednesday and they would need $350 in cash to even begin - at this point Kristina said "Remember Suze Orman said there'd be days like this". Needless to say we called the Saab hotline and found a dealer 9 miles away and made our way there. As we pulled into the dealership Consuela was very hot and angry and even lit up her ! sign to warn us that she was not happy. So arriving safely we left her there to be fixed and continued on our journey with Kenny the rental Chevy Cavalier. Hopefully Consuela will enjoy hanging out with her peeps at the Saab dealer and will be better soon. We made ourselves feel better by getting ½ price Cherry Limeades at Happy Hour at the local Sonic – yum – although they didn’t give us any cherries in the drink which bummed us out.

A Tale of 2 July 4th Celebrations

We celebrated the 4th in both Cary, NC and Norfolk, VA. After waking up at Kim and Drew's house, we went to a celebration sponsored by the social committee in the Cary, NC neighborhood we were staying in that day. The celebration was in the cul-de-sac with a kiddie parade, ice cream and tattoos - our friend Kim is head of the social committee. Kristina was in charge of working the crowd and I was in charge of placing the patriotic tattoos on the crowd. Below is a picture of Kristina with her new friend Rose.

After that we headed off to Norfolk, VA to see Linda, Chris and Ella Rea. At this celebration we went to a neighborhood picnic where the locals were playing corn hole. We brought Ella Rea some tattoos from the other party -- here she is with them and her Cars pjs.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Musings of a 4 year old

On our journey we've been able to stay with friends who have kids. A couple of nights ago we stayed at Chez Ryan and spent time conversing with the 4 year old in the house. Here were some of my favorite exchanges and what I learned....

Favorite color: PINK!

Favorite song: Twinkle, Twinkle -- no wait The Hot Dog Song which goes something like this -- "Two little hot dogs laying in a pan, one hot dog said it's getting hot in here, the other hot dog said ahhh that's a talking hot dog! After singing this she told me to tell my mom -- who she thought was Kristina.

The only gymnastics she knows are somersaults - that's it!

Her fish are named lettuce and apple. There's also Lucky - when asked what happened to Lucky Jr. she said, "oh, he died a long time ago" but we have information that suggests that it really was Lucky who died.

She has a stuffed bunny named vanilla. She likes to brush her and told us that she doesn't scream much.

And she loves the Girl Scouts because they have a cup that changes color when you put milk in it.

One of her new favorite things is yogurt (this is explained when her face is about 3 inches from yours) that tastes like orange popscicles - but it's YOGURT! You can get it at Harris Teeter although her Mom said Target.

Finally, I can be her friend if I buy a pop-up book, but I shouldn't spend all my money on it because as she said, that's just not smart.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

better than pop-tarts or cheerios

We forgot to note our fabulous breakfast at Le Farm Bakery today. We highly recommend this cafe in Cary NC. We both had a dish with the word 'Madame' in the title. It consisted of homebaked bread, ham, gruiere and two fried eggs on top - very fresh and yummy.
ps. Mardi Gras

Chez Ryan

We've been having a grand time with the Ryans and other pals in the Raleigh-Apex-Sanford NC area.

Carrie with Lee Anne and Tia after dinner at Daniels

One of the highlights yesterday was having yummy local ice cream - between the four of us we had mint chocolate chip, coffee, black cherry and coconut nut. Clearly we're on vacation since the first thing I'm noting is food. Oh, and the weather is totally beautiful here right now.

Kristina with David and Lucy

In addition to all this visiting, we have multiple new phrases to shout out - here's the story of two of them.

We were hanging out with a few of our friends as one of their Mom's is ill and they were telling us a story about the impact of the meds and her illness on her mind. When she was in the hospital she was halucinating a little bit and one night was singing. The songs are all church songs - she's been singing in the same choir for a long time. While she was singing she suddenly stopped and shouted "Kenny!" and then kept singing. Of course my friend was confused as they don't know anyone named Kenny. We weren't sure if this was the Kenny on South Park but guess it's probably someone different.

She kept singing and then just stopped and started knitting (mind you she didn't have anything to knit with). This went on for a short while and then she started singing again. Sometime later she stopped and talked about needing to go help one of her daughters - in a very concerned way. This was a little distressing to my friend but she felt better when her Mom relaxed and returned to singing. As things settled down her Mom suddenly shouted in a very excited way: Mardi Gras!!!

Of course we couldn't resist randomly shouting Mardi Gras in the middle of our conversation that evening and sometime over dinner my friend just blurted out: "Balloon Boy". Needless to say we are now adopting these two phrases to intersperse (sp?) throughout our conversations.

Today Carrie is going to the wedding which prompted this whole gypsy adventure. We also leave Chez Ryan for another sweet friends' home just down the road from us. I am going to [shout here: Balloon Boy!] do some work while she's at the wedding and perhaps pop into a bookstore.

Clearly not too much to report except having fun with [time to yell: Mardi Gras! here] friends, eating good food and relaxing a bit.

Future post to look forward to which we guarantee is way more [Balloon boy!] interesting than this one: "Musings of a Four-Year Old".

Ailment update: in addition to new bruises from running into things at friends' houses, the poison ivy is growing and now a cold sore has started.

ta ta for now "Mardi Gras!"

Friday, July 2, 2010

We made it!

After numerous hours in the car, several changes of control over the music, and a night in VA with the Zingraff-Thomas family, we made it to NC. So far on the trip here are some things that we have learned:

1. You should always eat somewhere with truthful advertising - we may check this out later to rate it's yumminess...

2. If you have an ugly roof with stains there is a company out there that can help you regain your status in the neighborhood ---

3. If you turn the seat warmer on because it's cold when you leave you should try to remember to turn it off when it starts to get warm -- otherwise your BFF might think she's having a hot flash when it's 85 degrees outside and she is now sitting in the seat - which I have to admit was pretty darn funny.

4. Some states take refreshments more seriously than others, the picture below is one where we feel they hit the mark --

5. Chick-fil-a did not in fact buy out all the Panera Bread restaurants in an evil plot to get us lost everytime we looked for one.
And finally ..
6. In the great Mt. Jackson demolition derby when you pit a Saab against a rock wall -- the Saab can make it out alive with only a minor bumper scratch.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

i wanna get on the road.....

we got people waiting for us for dinner, if you type this into that blog i'm going to kick you under the table.

help! i'm being assaulted at panera bread somewhere near Richmond VA - send an ambulance or beer or something.....

{"you shouldn't put that on the internet, someone might think you're serious or something" - insert heavy impatient sigh here}