Monthly Archives: April 2013

Memory Recall

I lifted this quote from a piece in the Oxford American:

The tending of fields, like the rendering of memories, is as much a rendering of fields as a tending of memories.” Casey Clabough

It made me think about my dad.

Dad & JillI am old enough to remember the sound of my father polishing his shoes, sitting on the green carpeted steps that dropped into his and my mother’s dressing room from their bedroom. His knees, tall and pointy as they gathered up to hold his forearms and elbows alternatively as he held his shoe just slightly out in front of his body – shoes in one hand, brush in the other, can of polish by his foot. Swish, scritch, swish, scritch, back and forth, his long fingers holding the brush like an extension of his hand, moving in quiet practice. There is the smell of the polish, strong, waxy and clean and the smell of my dad – like suits from the dry cleaners, fine old hats, worn out top siders, undershirts, deodorant, lipsyl all rolled into one. I can sit below him at the edge of his closet near the rows of shoes. I can see mine and my brother’s sleeping bags from here folded in the back of his closet, waiting for the next camping trip. But right now my father is polishing his shoes, the shoes he wears with his Navy uniform. Next he will polish the shoes he wears with his suits in court. I pick at the ugly green carpet and watch. I never tire of watching.

 

River Rock Farm – Tough Testing Ground for Dyson

Staggering amount of hair!

Staggering amount of hair!

We have five dogs, one cat and two sons (we also have six horses and umpteen chickens, but they don’t live in the house, thank goodness). We run a kennel free dog boarding business on a small farm in rural central virginia, which means the very special dogs (read: mostly goldens and labs) who stay with us join our family while they’re here. They live in our house and sleep on our furniture. The amount of hair I deal with on a daily basis is staggering. And here’s the kicker – I am obsessive compulsive about cleanliness and the general upkeep of my home.

Here’s where I start blathering on about how utterly unbelievably AMAZING the freaking Dyson vacuum cleaner is. If you have something against Dyson, stop reading now. If you LOVE Dyson like me, if you wish that your go-go gadget arms extended and morphed into a Dyson machine, then you will appreciate my diatribe. When my partner and I started our small business in 2006 we collectively owned two dyson animals (circa 2006). We purchased an additional animal in 2011 when we moved into our new house.

The Old Timer - full view.

The Old Timer – full view.

This is my unofficial endorsement of Dyson. We have tried other brands, but nothing compares to the power and suction of the Dyson. We have wood, brick and tile floors along with many oriental and other types of rugs on our floors. You may think you are getting your rugs clean with any old vacuum, but I’m here to tell you that the Dyson gets up more. I vacuum every other day due to dog hair and general farm dust and mud. The Dyson works hard on the rugs, pulls easily on the floors and makes using the wand in corners and other hard to reach spots easy enough to do every time I clean. It stores easily in my pantry downstairs and my upstairs hall closet. We have one per floor.

The Newbie - full view.

The Newbie – full view.

Having owned an earlier and a later model of the animal I can attest to the fact that they are different. The older model is heavier, but has a longer cord for covering more territory – it seems more sturdy. The newer model is smaller, lighter and seems a little more prone to injury. Both models are sufficiently duct taped, having survived so many years of beating on our farm. These machines have been through the ringer. I feel confident when I recommend Dyson to friends because there is no other testing ground as tough as mine. Now, if I could only figure out how to make it clean the mud stains out of my new rugs!

Special super bonus cleaning tip from the resident OCD cleaner lady (me): Resolve with OXY will get even the red clay stains out of your lightest rugs. I swear. Spray on, blot with a sponge, let dry and vacuum. Voila!

All By Myself

satc girls

Not really me or my girlfriends, but who didn’t wish they looked this awesome when getting smashed?

At a time when my oldest son is just discovering how to do things “all by myself,” I have been contemplating how much I have learned to appreciate doing things all by myself. I have arrived at that juncture in my life where I can actually do things on my own. It wasn’t too long ago when I required a veritable entourage in order to leave the house. In my previous life I required my girlfriends when I went out drinking mainly to be sure I got home at the end of the evening rather than going home with ‘late night hook up’. Hell, we even liked to go to the bathroom together for a variety of reasons. Today I need my wife to be my other half and make up for my social ineptitude and basic awkwardness at everything from cocktail parties to school fundraisers. But, I am aware that I have somehow developed this ability to be alone, to take long walks with the dogs in the woods, to work at my Panera office, to go see a movie, to go to the gym. I am at an age where I just don’t need the constant influx of conversation and companionship throughout my days and nights. Though I will admit that my days and nights are full of constant conversation and companionship. I mean I have a wife and two very small children, a nanny who is in our home everyday and my mother who comes to visit every other week. DSC_0484It’s hard to ever be completely alone, so when it happens, I almost miss the fact that it’s happening. It’s almost like thrill-seeking. I used to jump off bridges and take belly button shots on tables, but now it’s mega exciting to look up from my popcorn at a showing of the Hunger Games and realize I’m totally by myself, sneaking off to a movie in the middle of the day. Small celebration on the inside!

telluride beauty

How I really look when getting smashed.

Same goes for walking in the woods…looking down trying not to trip over rocks or be tripped by dogs. Wait, what’s that? I can hear birds, leaves in the wind, trees squeaking as they bend, frogs, and my own feet quietly crunching along…hey, wait a minute, I’m all by myself.  In fact on our recent ski trip with the girls when faced with lunch time decisions, I proudly announced that I didn’t want to stay at the wine bar (What? You might say.). No, I wanted a damn cheeseburger, and so off I shushed down down down the mountain in search of apres ski grease and shooters…by myself. Hooray! I’m sure lots of other moms feel this way. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but for me, someone who has always found ways to surround herself with other people (including not leaving the office until 7:00 and going straight to the bar), this is new. DSC_0122This is another phase in my life, I can savor doing things alone, just like my son who can now successfully undress (seemingly anywhere) ALL BY HIMSELF. Fabulous.

Shopping for Boys’ Shoes

Now that I’m dressing a second boy I’m discovering that it’s not all hand-me-downs and sloppy seconds, especially in the shoe department.

DSC_0550My oldest son who is two has particularly long and narrow feet. After spending his infancy in Robeez and various novelty pairs of shoes, I.e., Frye boots, Jack and Jills, I went to the brand I trusted for his foray into walking – Stride Rite. Stride Rite carries lots of really sweet European looking models and they fit his narrow foot really well. His first pair was a 5.5! I love Stride Rite – great quality, lots of style choices and kid-friendly. I’ve discovered a small online boutique in Midlothian for his dress shoes (www.tootsiesstriderite.com). I insist that he has a pair saddle shoes for special occasions, and I’ve found Willet’s fit his foot well, but they run awfully big so I always order down a size and a half. He also has Tevas and Keens (the Newport) for summer. I worried the Keens would be a little wide for his foot but he loves them and never complains, therefore, we have at least three pairs. I tried a pair of Simples but they weren’t very “I’m in a hurry” friendly (read: they have laces). Also, despite their hideousness, the crocs have served us well, plus he can decorate them with silly pop on cartoon thingys. And they’re the first shoe he has been able to put on and remove by himself.

DSC_0297My second son is 27 pounds and 30 inches long at seven months. Holy and moly. I’ve recently started thinking about shoes for his feet as he is becoming more mobile, working on his military crawl. Now before the “barefoot is best” crowd starts burning me at the stake, I invite you to explore my 200 year old unfinished floors on your hands and knees and let me know how many splinters you end up obtaining. First I tried the old Robeez but they were too tight on the ankles, even the fishermans sandal. Then I tried my first son’s starter pair of stride rites, but in addition to being slightly big, they were too hard. I do want him to feel the floor as he’s learning to walk. This brings me to the shopping point. I read review after review on diapers, amazon, zappos, etc. I decided to try a pair of See Kai Run ‘Smaller’, a pair of stride rites and one pair of Nowali sock moccasins. Believe it or not, the best price turned out to be on diapers, plus free shipping. The SKR sandals are perfect for his fat, long foot and the moccasins are also a great fit, however, the stride rites are too slender from top to bottom. Bummer. I have a lot of stride rites with no home now thanks to my skinny firstborn. On the other hand, I love exploring the world of baby stuff and finding new treasures to share with other moms. That’s my 2 cents. I’d love to hear any suggestions for shoes for extremely fat footed babies.

Update: the SKR ‘Smaller’ shoe is actually too tight for his fat foot, also. Looks like sandals for the summer…

Bra-less at the Gym…on SWIM DAY. Seriously?

Full disclosure: I will talk about boobs and babies in this post. If that grosses you out, leave now.

You know what’s helpful after a long swim at the gym and quick shower? A bra. A bra would be a helpful item to include in the gym bag, and also socks, especially when one has already thought to include the tallest boots one owns. First, though, let me address the bra. I have had a child and I breastfed that child. Before I had a baby, I had rather large boobs and after I had the baby and breastfed for eight and half months I now have very large and droopy boobs. My boobs no longer have any meat – they are deflated blobs of flab. I cannot stress enough how strongly I feel about wearing a bra. My girls are NEVER allowed out of the house without a bra. Hell, they aren’t even allowed out of my bedroom most days without a bra to give them some sort of definition and hold them up above my belly button. So this morning when I found myself without a bra and not even lucky enough to have this occur on my regular workout day, I was naturally horrified. It seriously took a full five minutes to come around to the idea that I would have to put my slightly damp (thank, God, for centrifugal dryers) bathing suit back on in order to run errands and work for a few hours at my Panera office. So there you have it – a bra and socks would have been helpful today as I sit in my semi-damp suit rocking my sticky stinky feet.

 

My Restaurant Recommendations in Charlottesville

An old friend recently asked me to recommend restaurants in Charlottesville for her foodie friends that were coming to town for their anniversary. The list I compiled included the following establishments. What do you think, friends? What are your favorite places to eat in Cville and why?

I’d recommend Fossett’s out at Keswick. It’s pricey, but really good, lots of local, organic food, yummy wines, and amazing desserts. I think they have a sticky toffee pudding that’s out of this world.http://www.keswick.com/fossetts.aspx

I can also recommend Commonwealth – it’s on the downtown mall, sort of new, been there about two years and it’s super yummy plus they have AWESOME drinks and AMAZING charcuterie plates. You get to pick your meats and cheeses and it comes with all kinds of goodies. Such a treat!! Christie and I just discovered it recently and we’ve been back twice already – that’s saying a lot for two people who NEVER get out. http://www.commonwealthskybar.com

If they’re looking for a less expensive option – Zocalo is also on the downtown mall and is quite good. We just had a charity event there for Courtland’s school and the food was delicious, so are the drinks. http://zocalo-restaurant.com

If they’re into southern food, Maya is really good – ribs, amazing grits, greens, macncheese, pork loin, short ribs, I’ve never had a bad meal there. http://www.maya-restaurant.com

I’ve had a few good meals at The Local –http://www.thelocal-cville.com – and you can never go wrong with tapas at Mas –http://www.mastapas.com. Both are in Belmont just off the downtown area.

You can’t go wrong with the C&O also downtown – they have a phenomenal steak chinoise. My friend used to be a chef there and he can still make it when he comes over – it’s SO DAMN GOOD. http://www.candorestaurant.com

Christie says I should also tell you that the fried oysters are so delicious at Three Notched in Crozet – it’s fifteen minutes out of town, but yummy and friendly. http://www.threenotchedgrill.com

Your friends can get a great brunch at Bluegrass Grill & Bakery OR Horse and Hound. BGB is low-key, small, usually very busy and H&H has more room, more options and delicious Bellinis and Bloodies. Also, if they do the H&H they should definitely have the shrimp and grits – it’s done with a veal reduction – AMAZING. http://horseandhoundgastropub.com

ALSO, a lot of people will say they love Blue Light or Ten – both on the downtown mall, seafood and sushi respectively, but I have eaten at both many times and I haven’t had a good meal there in years. I’ve been disappointed every time. Another place I think is overrated at the moment is the Clifton Inn. I used to love it but we went there for my birthday and did the chef’s tasting and it was SERIOUSLY lacking. We sat down at 8:00 and though that seems a little late – it was as if we’d sat down at 10:00 and the chef had decided to use the remnants of that night’s side dishes for our tasting menu. Creative, but not delicious. That’s my 2 cents.

Foray into Personal Information

Mommy and JCR on the FarmThis is my first blogpost as River Rock Mom. I decided that I had too many personal issues to hash out that were inappropriate for the business blog. So here you will find my thoughts and musings and judgments on all sorts of things – some mommy related, some business related, some just plain silliness. Thank you for joining me on this new adventure into personal information.