Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Holy awesomeness

Three things I discovered (or rediscovered) recently:

Vogelkep bowerbirds. They are amazing. The menfolk build bowers to attract ladies. Dang. I caught a short film on PBS about a woman from Massachusetts who travels to New Guinea to paint bowers. She also brings back samples (not all bowerbird-related) and gives them to Harvard. She said she especially likes that Charles Darwin noted the birds build the bowers in part because it gives them pleasure-as opposed to just attracting females-which the artist says is all most scientists will admit to. I think she is hoping to inject a little artsty-fartsy into oh-so-serious science. Go bowerbird lady!

Kathy Griffin. Her reality show keeps getting better. Right now she's hanging out in Alaska with Levi Johnston. LJ comes off as a really dirty bird. I can feel his skeev through the TV set. Thankfully I can also feel KG's greatness.

This book. It's amazing. I cried, a lot when I finished it, not because it's sad, but because it's beautiful.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Well Dr. and Mr. Moo have done gone and bought themselves a house. It's actually house number two for Mr. Moo, who I soon expect to become the Donald Trump of Vermont. Though Dr. Moo tried to make me feel better about my own lack of husband, babies, home...assets...etc. by saying the house isn't that great, it is on 10 acres of land with views of the Green Mountains and you can only see one other house when you look out the window. Which would be how many other houses we could see out the windows of the house we were born in.

In other Dr. Moo news, she got called in to check a pair of eight-year-old ewes, one named Harriet. A fine name for a sheepy-deep. Unfortunately these ewes weren't able to stand up and when Dr. Moo looked at their hindquarters she discovered why: flystrike!

In a nutshell, flystrike=maggot infestation, and this one was a doozy. There were so many maggots munching away that Dr. Moo could feel the heat of their efforts and hear the sounds. There were thousands of maggots covering the hindquarters of both sheep. Moo carefully removed them, along with the filthy wool and affected flesh, and the sheep are recovering.

When Moo looked down much later in the day, she discovered some maggots clinging to the legs of her coveralls. They were still alive.

In city maggot news, there was a dead squirrel laying beneath the maple tree in front of my apartment building. The squirrels have been stripping mulberries off the mulberry trees on the front lawn Tarzan-style, swinging by their hind legs from the weeping-willow-like branches and sliding and nibbling their way down. I'm not sure what killed the squirrel under the tree as he looked whole and decent.

Well, except for the flies that were landing on him. I'd made a mental note to stop looking at the dead squirrel for the summer but a friend pointed him out yesterday and he wasn't looking as good as he had the day before. I told the friend I was half hoping for an intact squirrel skeleton at the end of the summer, because what in the city eats dead squirrels?

Well apparently something, because when I got home today, the squirrel-corpse was gone.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I was given some hydrangeas today and I noticed for the first time how curious the upper parts of the stems are. They remind me of the translucent limbs of efts and newts; of corpse flowers; and of what I imagine the circulatory systems of people who died of a hypothermia/exsanguination twofer appear.

It's a chilly beauty.

Anyhoo, I'm going to dry them and see how much of that chilly beauty they retain. I do love looking at them.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Shake and bake

I didn't feel the Quebecois earthquake that hit earlier today, although one of the other folks in the lab at the lnfu said she saw the lights moving a lot-so much so that she thought she was seeing things. Interestingly, I heard someone who experienced a much larger earthquake give a similar description on an NPR podcast recently.

Between this and the giant forest fires that blew smoke through my neighborhood, the Canadian Mother Nature has been making herself known lately.

I've been having conversations around what sorts of natural disasters/incidents people are scared of. One friend is way frightened of tornadoes and has offered to panic on command. Other folks have reported a fear of thunderstorms, or earthquakes. Even toxic mold.

I'm not really freaked out by natural disasters. I'm much more freaked out about being destitute, and losing my teeth because I can't afford dental insurance.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Murtaugh McPolack

McMumsy paid to join some sort of genealogy website and has been using it to research the history of both the Mc and Polack sides of the family. And to find out some sweet baby names. I'm glad that Little Brother is continuing the family name tradition. I know there's nothing wrong with picking a name because you like it, but it feels right to name at least one kid after a dead or living relative.

There was a Murtaugh on the Mc side of the family. Now that's a name.

On the Polack side, McMumsy discovered that, a, the Babcia was in 1920 living with a whole lotta people in a triple decker in Southie, not all of them related. And, b, that the census workers in 1920 were really bad spellers. She also managed to figure out what boat my Grammy Mc's grandfather (I think) came to this country on.

I like that she's doing this. When we were kids, McMumsy and Auntie P would pile us into a red station wagon and a blue loser cruiser (there were too many kids for one car) every Memorial Day for graveyard vistin'! Because we come from a long line of good (read: fertile) Irish Catholics, there were (are) a lot of dead Mcs to visit. So many that we had to stop by two cemeteries in the same area. There were two cemeteries owing to one of them getting filled to the brim with dead folks. Because regardless of how healthy the 18 bajillion babies you have for the Pope are, at some point you end up with 18 bajillion corpses.

Ever the overachievers, one of the Mcs managed to die at the perfect time to score one of the front-most plots in the new cemetery.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I really enjoy, on many levels, working at the large-n-fancy university. For one thing, the person for whom I work praises me. Having grown up in a household where praise was the absence of criticism, and being the sort of girl who naturally needs more praise than the average person (this would be because of my ADD, and was one of many revelations that made me dislike myself much, much less)-well, I like hearing when I'm doing a good job. I like it so much. I like that I can give myself permission to like it.

Anyhoo. One other benefit of the position is the chance to chat every so often with incredibly intelligent, inquisitive people about all manner of things. I had forgotten about the excitement for learning part of college. It is so wonderful.

In other McPolack news, I have also been feeling like crap, mentally. I'm very sad. It comes and goes. I'm processing, I think.

I like that I have a lot of people in my life who stick around through it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pet store fun

After oozing beef juice all over a yoga teacher this morning, I walked with Walnut to a Whole Paycheck mini-mall. There's also a pet store there and while the birdies were up and looking cute, the rodents were all a-slumber. Including this chinchilla.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


My first-ever giant inflatable rat. Note the location of the picture chosen to illustrate the Wikipedia entry. Thas right, the People's Republic of Cambridge. Where else might one find a group of common folk picketing the capitalist menace? It's where I did.(Though I did a bit of research and turned up a Flickr fan site of rattie photos far and wee.)

Anyhoo, the vermin I saw had red eyes and bloody fangs and served to call attention to Genzyme's evildoings. The company happened to be having its annual meeting at a building with a lovely park that I stroll through on my way to and from work. I wished one of the protesters, who looked as much like a Tea Party protester as an uber-liberal, good luck. And I told him I liked the rat.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lovely night

Walked to meet a friend for dinner and then walked home; lovely conversation, lovely weather, gross food. To wit: an order of what was supposed to be pate looked more like two kinds of diarrhea squirted on top of one another. Like when you don't know you have diarrhea, my friend aptly noted, and your poo comes out one consistency first, and then another.

Anyhoo, we parted company at her intersection before I headed home to mine and when I was halfway there a car slowed down, and a young man hung his head out the window and said "I just have to tell you I think you're gorgeous." I felt gorgeous. So that was nice.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I'm writing a rare Sunday post because it feels right, given the subject matter. It's a holy thing. My sister-in-law is pregnant. With twins, one boy and one girl. She's due November 1, which means if she goes early enough, which sometimes happens with twins, she'll have some Libras. Like me!

Of course I am happy for them, and for McMumsy and PolackPappy, who have said they were OK without grandchildren, so as not to trouble any of their children, but come on. Who is happy without grandchildren? It's high time there was another round of McPolack.

Finally, because I can't not say it: I told McMumsy at Easter that I thought sis-in-law was pregnant. McMumsy insisted she wasn't, and I certainly hadn't been told. But I could so tell. Because of my psychic vagina. And also because the s-i-l was showing. Dr. Moo didn't believe me at the time, either. But a lady whose sex education came from a very early edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves is, despite not having seen any action in a long time, quite in touch with her lady parts, and the lady parts of others. It's a tribal woman thing, I think.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Just got off the phone with Walnut, who was looking at plants and frozen pizza. She asked me if I'd ever heard of land crabs.

The obvious joke just occurred to me as I typed "land crabs". I think I might be losing my touch.

But I digress. I Googled "coconut crab" at Walnut's urging, and, see the title of this post.

Good gravy.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

"Hooray for the end of fecal day!"

That'd be Dr. Moo's FB status right now. Poetic, isn't it? Fecal day, for those not in the know, is the day the dewormer salesman comes to town. Much like the tin salesman in the Little House book series, the dewormer salesman offers little gifts to entice people to buy his product. Only his gift is poop examination. You bring him your poop, he looks at it under a microscope-which is hooked up to a computer screen allowing the poop-bringer to follow along-and lets you know whether there are worms in it.

He is a very, very popular fellow, according to Dr. Moo. People stop by to drop off a load all day long. And the whole office reeks. Of roses!

No, just kidding. It smells like doody.

Dr. Moo did get to escape at one point, to the upstairs small animal vet clinic, to give plasma to a baby alpaca.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


While doing my usual perusal of the crime logs for the area I discovered someone was caught, at night, dressed all in black, trying to break into an apartment on my street, catty-corner to me. Through a second-floor window from a fire escape. I may be able to see the place from my fire escape.

It didn't mention any breaking of glass so I assume the intruder was looking for open windows, but still.

In McPolack garden news, my melon seeds sprouted! This despite the chipper chipmunk hole next to the hill the seeds are planted in. Still no activity on the root vegetable front, though.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Humidity make Hulk mad

We seem to already be having a horrid Southern/Midwestern-style summer with wicked humidity and scary storms, despite the fact that it's the Northeast and it's still technically spring. I was woken up by a crazy storm early one morning last week and it was the talk of the Camberville area; people at book club were freaked out, as were people at the baby shower I went to on Sunday. I shared helpful tips about what to do if there's a tornado. Hiding on your bed with your arms over your head will only result in a trip to Oz, and that's if you're lucky.

In other McPolack news, Dr. Moo may be getting a team of oxen for her birthday. Woot! In other other McPolack news, I went to the first farmer's market of the season on Saturday in Union Square. Eggs were going for 7 dollars a dozen. I am not kidding. I think the chickens must be extortionists. I did get some lovely arugula from some of the finest-looking hippies I've seen in a long time. Later that same day, at Riverfest in Cambridge, there were some not-so-fine-looking hippie/punk hybrid girls writhing slowly in the middle of Memorial Drive. It was supposed to be performance art. Someone needs to tell them that taking psychedelic drugs is only interesting for the person on the drug. It's pretty boring for everyone else.

Cheesus Correction

Soooooooooooo it turns out there's only one cheese-free day a year at Intel, and it's Earth Day. My friend said she checked with her husband and he said he told her it was only one day a year but she thinks he originally said it was one day a week. I of course am siding with my friend. The truth will set you free!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


So the husband of a friend of mine works at Intel. According to my friend, Intel (or at least the MA location) decided cheese was inefficient. So one day a week the cafeteria doesn't serve it: no cheeseburgers, no shredded cheese in the salad bar, no grilled cheese sandwiches, and if Mayor McCheese shows up he's shot on sight. I tried Googling this to get more information but alas came up with nothing.

Stupid nerds. I consider their cheeselessness one more vote in favor of liberal arts degrees.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


Spent a couple of days gardening at the McPolack homestead. Turned out PolackPappy was not all that excited about anything beyond squash and tomatoes. He is not interested in watering. McMumsy stepped in and said she would "try" to water my beets, melons. parsnips and salsify so I dug a couple of small beds, planted the seeds, and hoped for the best. Ten minutes after I made the dirt bundt cake melon hill a critter hole appeared at the edge of it.

I was getting attacked by deerflies owing to there only being candy-ass bug spray (i.e., Deet-free) but then McMumsy saved the day with a long-sleeved shirt, a hat and, wonder of wonders, a bug netting thing to go over the hat. I tucked it into my dishcloth neckerchief. Which, by the way, was a piece of fabric that originally served some other purpose. So I was re-recycling. I should get a trophy.

As I gardened, a great-crested flycatcher was either building or protecting an already-built nest in a hole in the apple tree on the front lawn. Said flycatcher kept flying around and yelling, yelling, yelling. "Look, birdie," I told him? Her?, "I'm not the one who built a nest not two feet from a house. You're really going to need to get over yourself."

But it may be that the birdies are a little wackadoo in NH. Case in point: the whippoorwill is back this year and while normally he's somewhere across the street, McMumsy recently found him sitting on a fence post super-close to the house, and he was shrieking. In his defense, his call is described as "tiresome" on the magical Interwebs.