Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Dear Family,

I HATE bugs. HATE them. all of 'em (here is where mom invokes the story of me and the snake - "ooh, a cute one!"). Snakes are ok, but bugs - man, do I hate bugs. When Marya lived here she was the designated bug-killer, but now that I'm on my own I have to bravely face the silverfish, cockroaches, waterbugs, what have you by myself. This (along with the rent and cost of living prices in the stratosphere), I had resigned myself to, is just the price you pay for living and doing business in New York City.

But this week I have come into contact with what seems like the worst possible bug on the entire planet. Well, at least in the city of New York.

If you ever see one of these:


Pictured above is the Cimex lectularius, commonly known as the BED BUG. This particular one was found on Monday night in my apartment, scurrying along the floor between the living room and the office. I almost died.

Luckily (?), I have seen friends go through the process of ridding a house of bed bugs. It is not easy, good family, not easy at all. Here's what you have to do:

1. Call exterminator. Very, very important. First, they come to "inspect" (today, between 12-2). If they determine that you have bed bugs, they will schedule treatment. This is why you capture the bug and put it in the plastic bag and store it in the freezer - so there's no waffling and hemming and hawing when the exterminator comes. Just spray the chemicals, man. Bring back DDT if you have to just get them the @#$% out of my apartment. Most likely THREE treatments over the course of the next 6-8 weeks will be necessary in order to catch them in all stages of their development. That means chemicals sprayed, evacuation of home for hours, careful maintenance and vigilant attention paid to pets to keep them away from said chemicals. Not to mention staying in your bed night after night, acting as a human sacrifice so that they have somewhere to "feed" while they come out to eat the chemicals and die. Yum.

2. Wash EVERYTHING. everything washable must be washed. Clothes, linens, towels, washclothes, curtains, pot holders, pillows, rugs. Anything made of fabric goes into the washing machine on hot, then to the dryer for an hour and a half. I spent the entire day at the laundromat. Literally.

3. Clean EVERYTHING. Take all your belongings out of all drawers, containers, out from under your bed, out from the tops of your closets. Vacuum all baseboards, cracks in floorboards (woo, wood floors!), drawers, backs of dressers, bottoms and cracks of couches, seams of mattresses. Mop it all. Every last piece of your apartment. I spent the entire night cleaning. Literally.

4. Once everything is clean, bag it up in sealed plastic bags and quarantine it all. Double bagged trash bags? check. Oversized ziploc bags? Check. Storage in bathtub? Check.

5. Pull all furniture away from wall, stack mattresses and box springs against wall, line up possibly infested items for spraying.

6. Feel sorry for self. Hope and pray and cross fingers that they'll be killed, aren't infested, aren't any indestructible eggs, and that they won't come back in 2 months after last treatment. Try not to freak out or feel like there are bugs crawling on you at every moment. Try to determine how you will host your out of town guest this week. Decide whether or not going to Boston to celebrate the 4th, as planned, is a good idea. Stay the f away from anyone else's apartment.

Here are some photos of the process for your viewing displeasure:

Baab, quarantined

Laundry, before.

Lou in a clean, disheveled, ready-for-exterminator house.

Stuff to be sprayed and empty drawers.

Bare bones bed. Freaked cat.

Laundry after.

Laundry after - quarantined in bathroom.

boy, do I hate new york right now.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Two sets of twins

Sometimes Ed and Frank walk, talk or pose like they were hardwired together. Often they follow birds, moths, us or even mysterious unseen (to us) specters by moving their heads and bodies in exact tandem. We find it very entertaining.

And speaking of tandem, down at the cottage a momma mourning dove has made her home for the newbies on top of our electric awning, so we haven't used it in nearly four weeks. Beady eyed momma and babies pictured above.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lou's Urban Oasis

So I recently hung my new birdfeeder (thanks, Dad!) on the fire escape outside my window. For the first two weeks there was no action, except that Tom, the stray cat that comes to visit Lou through the screen, took the liberty of spraying it - right in front of my face. He was all, "hey, new birdfeeder? don't mind if I do!"

I thought that would surely kill any possibility of birds, but since then, some have discovered it and apparently told all their friends. I'm pretty psyched! No one could be happier than Louie, though:

i'm still trying to get one with the bird actually ON the feeder, but for now you'll just have to take my word for it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Check out the onesies I just bought at a little boutique store in Manhattan for Kate and Kristin's twins (due in September)... can you even believe?? I am usually not one for impulse buys, but I saw these in the window on my way past and turned on my heel, marched right in and bought them without any consideration. I mean, how could you pass them up when your friends have leetle twin boys on the way? Their baby shower is in a couple of weeks and these will be the hit of the party. I hope.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008

The outer limits of cat-blogging

Have not seen something this disturbing (yet harmless) in quite a while.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Having a heart in Pulteney

This is a photo of one of the raccoons Dad caught with the Have-a-Heart trap last week. He was going for the woodchuck that ate up most of the garden broccoli last year. In five days, he got three raccoons and a possum. When I reported that number to the guys at the trap rental place (where I returned it while Dad was in Binghamton because animal trap-and-release is not in MY job description) they said, "Oh we charge by the critter. We git $12 for a possum. Hahaha."

I probably would have paid it if they hadn't laughed since Grandma paid $42.50 each for 6 squirrels she had "removed" from her attic a few years ago. I told her at the time that she should put an identifying mark on one of those squirrels. I always suspected the guy was releasing them just around the corner from her house!

The actual trap charge was $7.95---a bargain, I think. The woodchuck remains at large.

That's the spring update from Pulteney.

love, mom

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Gospel Audition

Check us out!

The video quality of the actual audition is pretty awful, unfortunately, but you can get a taste of it!


Friday, May 2, 2008

Singing the blues...

How much time can really be wasted on YouTube?

By the way Molly, how do you embed these videos?

Monday, April 28, 2008

why just watch videos when you can make them?

max is enamored with that handsome cat in the window.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Hey Sam,
I'm glad you are staying home watching Youtube and staying off the beach! yikes.

love, mom

Friday, April 25, 2008

remember that dancing horse video?

I am working on my routine with Louie.

Monday, April 21, 2008

hey jude

JUST in case you haven't seen this yet:

the incredible human body

Check out this crazy slideshow from the NY Times online, showing amazing 3-D images of bodies after being partially dissected. INCREDIBLE! It reminds me of the "Bodies" exhibit, which is perpetually extended here in NYC. Mom and Dad, I think you saw a version of that same exhibit Anyway, if you haven't seen it and get a chance to, definitely pay the exorbitant fee, because it's worth it. Until then, these pics should tide you over.


Saturday, April 12, 2008


Mom, you asked a long time ago about how to make links in these posts (and, Sam, your link below reminded me). Here's a quick course:

New York Times Homepage

was made by typing the next line directly into the "compose" field (using the "Edit Html" tab):

[a href=""]New York Times Homepage[/a]

except you must replace each "[" with "<" and each "]" with ">". Ok, that's enough for today. Class dismissed.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Great Youtubers

These guys are brothers who started a project at the beginning of 2007 called 'Brotherhood 2.0' where they used video communication instead of typical phone conversation to keep each other in the loop of their lives.  They make great videos, but also started a movement called 'Nerdfighting,' and have built a community of youtubers worldwide that has banded together and, yes, been awesome, but also has fought for social justice.  I thought you guys might like to check out their channel.

Love, Sam

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

just in case the election doesn't go our way....

...we can move to mars.

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Happy 91st Birthday, Grandma!
I wish we were having another party....

Stayin' Alive! The Power of Music

Hey, musical Holders:

Did you read that the American Heart Assn. has revised their suggestions on the administration of CPR - no longer do they suggest two mouth to mouth breaths each 30 seconds along with the rapid chest compressions. Apparently many people don't even try CPR because they do not want to lock lips with a stranger. Further, though, the breath routine never seemed to help much . Now, they suggest we just do 100 chest compressions per minute - simply that, no lips. (Although I do retain a colorful fantasy that after I save someone's life, they will pop up and kiss me - perhaps twice in a 30 second period).

And, oh, in case you're wondering how fast 100 compressions per minute is, just (the AMA says) remember the beat to the Bee Gees' 70's tune, "Stayin Alive". That oughta' do it.

Singing while you work is permitted, apparently. " OOO, OOO, OOO, STAYIN ALIVE, STAYIN ALIVE..."

In other health-related news, and contributing additionally to the benefits of saving someone's life, it is reported that singing may help one lose weight. I believe this may explain why we Holders are all so slim.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

So 5 minutes ago

Speaking of macs and being late to the party...

In the metro station on my way home from work tonight they played this video on one of the ubiquitous projection TV screens. Normally I'm trying to ignore the screens, since they are usually (a) promoting some local newscast in Portuguese, (b) telling me the rankings of the neighborhood football clubs (Benfica has moved up this week) or (c) advertising an American movie which opened stateside sometime in early 2007. But this video was the perfect antidote to a day spent walking back and forth to the local Centro de Saúde* (look at me, I can write in Portuguese). The song is familiar to anyone who has had the TV on in the past three months, where the Macbook Air commercial has taken Ms. Naim to #7 on the Billboard charts. Thus ... late to the party. Hey Molly&Sam, do you know who directed/wrote the video? It reminds me of the surrealist French guy who did Eternal Sunshine. I came home an listened to this nice NPR interview with the singer which aired last week.

*Note to those who are able to translate the word Saúde: I am perfectly well. I just need a physical for bureaucratic purposes. Although I have only read the first 75 or so pages of Catch-22, I'm pretty sure this situation qualifies: I have spent eight hours this week trying to convince Portugal's medical system to give me a clean bill of health to include with my Social Security application, while "it" has spent an equal amount of time trying to convince me that I need a Social Security number to see a doctor. Today I won the battle. I saw an actual doctor and it only cost me 2.15€ (cheaper than CHP!). I've got to go back tomorrow with my immunization history. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How Low Will They Go?

Pretty nauseating.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Louie hates macs

Mad Hot Irish Step Dancing

You guys, check out this awesome video from the Times -

It's of an irish woman who teaches Bronx middle school kids how to irish step dance. It's even better than mad hot ballroom!! I wish there was a documentary about these kids....

Friday, March 14, 2008

Guess who got a new computer?

Yes.  I realize that widget-playing is SO five minutes ago.  But I could care less.  Look how fun this is!  

Hope all is well across the globe...

Love, Sam

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

Six word memoirs

Did any of you hear this npr story?

It reminded me of Sam's Wigilia challenge. My response was what Dad says he will have printed on my tombstone: I'm really trying to get organized!
I have forgotten all of yours. Send them here when you get a chance. You, too, Elisabeth!

love, mom (bhkeuka)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Flying Edwinda

I was working in my office this morning - first at the computer, then practicing my fiddle. Ed and Frank wandered in and out, trying to get my attention, batting the fiddle bow around, perching atop the computer and gazing down at the screen upside down, vulture-style. Their usual early morning high energy wild time of the previous two hours had past, and they were just being normally curious and cute. Ed was walking on my keyboard, so I picked him up and put him out in the hallway. Frank, I noticed, was downstairs at the time.

About a minute later I was watching a French TV news team opining about the significance of Tuesday's Hillary/Obama primary results when I heard a tremendous CRASH, followed by a scurry of kitty galloping. I rose to look over the rail to the first floor. Ed was rocketing from the woodstove area to under the couch where he froze. Frank was on the stair landing, his tail the puffy equivalent of a chimney sweep brush and a crazed look in his eye, as he viewed his brother with saucer-eyed alarm. He too froze.

It was a level and quality of sound we don't hear much at all: Ed had clearly fallen from floor two to floor one, landed somewhere near the stove or woodbox, been terrified and scurried under the couch to hide from further disaster. Frank had apparently witnessed it, viewed his brother's actions with terror and remained statue-like on the landing.

Ed wouldn't come out. I tried coaxing him with the kitty treats (and shaking the plastic container, a sound that - in normal times - gets them racing from anywhere to retrieve these candy treats). But Ed stayed put. Which was a worry, and I began to think he might have broken a leg...

Finally after about two minutes he slowly crept out from under the couch, limping noticably and clearly favoring a pained right leg/paw. I checked him over carefully over the next 1/2 hour or so. He began walking with somewhat more confidence, putting more and more weight on the leg. Another hour passed and it became clear that he was not seriously wounded.

Physically at least.

Now he reacts to every sound, action and shadow with startled alarm, reminding me of poor Jack many years ago being hit by Karen Kelly out in front of our house on Jenkins. Hopefully, this experience will keep Eddie off the railing in the way it kept Jack fearful of cars in the road.

Frank, meanwhile, having so far avoided this life-altering experience, is currently sitting on the railing washing his rear end.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hiking in the hudson valley

Hi fambly!

This weekend I took the metro north train up to Cold Spring, NY, which is a cutesy little antiquing and city-getaway town, about an hour away from manhattan. It's also a great starting point for some nice hiking. I did about a 3 hour hike, and took some photos. enjoy!


It was icy on the trail. I saw lots of falling ice off of cliffs - great noises! - and the trail was steep and icy.. slippin and slidin' all over the place.

a cool house right at the head of the trail.

self portrait.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Another reason to get a hamster

Note "hamster powered computer." This woulda saved me $139 for the new dell battery. (I am pretty sure my computer is just waiting for me to install it before the fatal crash...or the wheels fall off, Sam. )

love, bhkeuka

one for dad

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

I returned home late last night after working out of town for several days. Mom, as she said in a previous post, also went out of town during the same period - meaning that the kitties were left alone for a couple of days. Knowing the woodstove would go out, Mom put the elec heat up to 55, left them plenty of cat chow and water and wished them well.

I arrived home to discover that all of the water taps were on, the refrigerator door was standing open revealing empty shelves and the thermostat was jacked up to 85. I looked at the boys and they each pointed a dripping wet paw at the other.

I'm thinking maybe mom and i should have gotten a hamster.

Friday, February 29, 2008

NYT and folk music

Hey, the Times is running a bunch of stuff about the rise of folk, roots and bluegrass in the city. There's a great article here and a great blog discussion about peoples' favorite lines from folk songs here.

Check it out!


Thursday, February 28, 2008

To Molly: more work distractions.


San Diego Pics!

Hi All,

I thought you might want to see glorious San Diego.

The first picture is me on top of El Cajon Mountain, which is about 40 minutes east of San Diego. It was my 1st hike out west and it was amazing. Not only were there views all around and at every moment, but it was a true boulder scramble all the way to the top. It was beautiful.

The last 2 are my apartment, and my view over Mission Bay and the Pacific (it's pretty hazy today, sorry). But, on clear days, I can sit out on that balcony and see clear to the Pacific, and watch the sunset over the water. Pretty sweet.

I'm headed out to karaoke tonight, and then up to La Jolla tomorrow afternoon to play on the beach and mingle with the seals. Apparently there are lots of seals. I'll keep you posted.

This blog is so fun, thanks Molly!

Love, Sam.



Help with computer?

Hey, can you guys help me with computer ideas? The battery on my dell laptop is finally gone completely. This computer has crashed twice and the computer guy in Bath told me not to come back except to ask what kind of new computer I should buy. (He suggests Gateway...but I don't know.) I was just looking at Dell replacement batteries and they start at $139, so I'm not sure whether I should make that investment. Do you have suggestions?


Off to Saratoga

Good morning. I'm off to Saratoga this morning for the annual SweetLand retreat. I will hopefully also see some other old friends--and I'll drive past the homestead. It has been heartening to see how few changes the new people have made, although they did mow the asparagus patch. Hmph. Since Dad is also away until tomorrow night, I'm going to turn the electric heat on for the kitties--only to 55, though. They will have a chilly Burnt Hills experience for a day!

I sent the blog on to Grandma. She LOVED it and sends her love to all of you. The BackPack program, by the way, is up to 250 bags a week and is becoming more of a part time job than the library! Didn't I swear I wouldn't be schlepping food if I moved here?

Molly--lovely decor. I'm impressed. Maybe I'll stop by Michael's in Clifton Park. By the way, do any of you remember the name of the store that Dad used to take Granny to--before Michaels?

love, mom

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fake Flowers - visual

By popular demand: This is what the fake flower display looks like. Tasteful, right?

Also, check out where Louie demands to sit while I work.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hey, let me see if I can do a picture. Here's one I just found today on the Schenectady City Schools site. I have been doing a two week residency there for the past 3 1/2 weeks (snow cancellations...) This one shows Dad Holder and the little story the k'dg kids wrote with him in the background. If I can make it through the snow, I will travel out there yet one more time tomorrow for our finale perf. of all of the grade levels story/poem/songs.



Wow, it is so great to hear all about what you're all up to, and I love seeing the pictures. More, more!!

I had a fun New York City night tonight - I went to see Anne Lamott read from her newest book, Grace (Eventually), at Barnes and Noble. She was wonderful, of course. She read a political piece from the book, about staging a peaceful revolution, where everyone is only allowed to object to each other or foreign policy or things with which they don't agree using phrases like, "That just doesn't seem right, does it?". After reading, she spent about 40 minutes answering questions from the audience. She was asked a lot about Sam, her son, who is 18 and a half now (!!), and reported that he is in his first real long-term relationship with a girlfriend. Talking about how much he's learning, she said, "I mean, relationships, man. It's like pouring Miracle Grow on your character defects."

She was also asked how Sam feels about how much she writes about him (a question she undoubtedly fields at every event), and she recounted a story about when an interviewer for some magazine came to her house and asked the very same question. She said she decided to call the then 14-year-old Sam in the room to answer it for himself. He said that he spent his entire childhood on the carpeted floor of bookstores and libraries playing with his legos and eating cereal out of sandwich bags and befriending clerks, as they were always on tour or doing readings or whatever, and didn't mind a bit that she wrote or read about him. He shrugged and said, "I just thought that's how we were."

Afterwards, she graciously signed ALL the books people brought and bought (I brought one, bought one), and spoke to every person who waited in line to see her. When I got up there, I told her that what Sam said about just thinking "that's how we were" totally resonated with me, having a singer-songwriter father and storyteller mother. She laughed and said she felt that way too, as the daughter of a writer. She said, "Yeah, you know. Everyone gets drunk, mom cries at the end of the night. Same old, same old." It was so fun to be in her presence.

And THEN, on the subway platform home, who gets off the train right in front of us but Anthony Rapp, the original star of Rent on Broadway and in the movie!!! I saw him through the train windows as it pulled up and was totally playin' it cool, playin' it cool, and then he gets off and Elisabeth says, very loudly, and in a matter-of-fact, "whatever" tone of voice, "Hey, he REALLY looks like Anthony Rapp." And, of course, he HEARD and turned, as did most people around us, and I had to hiss in her ear, "he IS Anthony Rapp, you eediot!!" Then she got all belatedly star-struck and wispy and Kate and I had to turn away in shame and embarrassment. haHA!!!

all in a night's work.


Old photo- the Bloomquist family

Hi-- I am mostly doing this to see if I can upload a photo--hey, I did! Uncle John has been working on some of Grandpa's slides. Sam took a bunch to him when they were both in Columbus for Tommy's funeral. Tom would have turned 60 on Saturday, by the way. hard.

I'll try to identify all your relatives here. Front row:Tom, Jane (his sister) who is holding little John'e shoulders, me--looking ridiculous as always, Grandma, and Linda, Tom's oldest sister. Back row: Uncle Tony Dorn (my Grandmother Bloomquist's brother, who lived with them and was a doughboy in WWI!) Uncle Merle (Tom's dad), Aunt Susan, Win, my grandfather Bloomquist, Hazel, my grandmother and Aunt Marge, Tom's mom.

My library is closed because of the snow today! FREE DAY! YAY!
I wonder why my name is bhkeuka?

Morning with Praneeth

Oh, yes, yes, this is wonderful - thanks Mol for setting it up. Mom will have to send pics from her computer as we never were able to get the software to work on my old one... but I can certainly text:

OK, my day.

  • Arise semi-rested to the sounds of galloping cats racing across and through the three floors, ending with a crash at our closed bedroom door, in a subtle attempt to tell us it is way past time to get up.
  • Make normal American drip coffee in the overlarge coffeemaker and, once ready, drink it from the cool Brooklyn mug acquired from MBH at Xmas.
  • drop into the office to check the morning weather, news and emails.
  • AAARRRRGHH! Eighteen different windows screaming about crashes, failures, fatal errors, post mortem errors, download new security measures now, your computer's life is in dire jeopardy, etc. etc.
  • "BEC! my helpmate and tech wizard - come in hear and fix this!"
  • Two hours, $100 and many, many long online conversations with Praneeth, Mom's tech assistant in Bogata, later, I think we are back to normal. Praneeth purged and cleaned my machine from the other side of the world - it was fun to watch him work in rapid fire fashion on the screen without us touching it. Sort of like gazing at unfingered keys on a player piano.
more later - Praneeth calls, Dad

hey from mom

Wow, I have never done this before! How great to read what you are all doing--now could you just carry web cams around with you wherever you go, so I can remind you to look both ways before crossing the street and take no unnecessary risks and even warn you about tacky decorating ideas. (Granny never bought those fake flowers, by the way, Molly. She scoffed at them on the way to the "real artist" supplies. It sounds like you did a good job, though, and I especially love bittersweet in any of its forms.)

Happy birthday to Daniel. I am so happy to hear from you all.

It is snowing like crazy here--no doubt because Fate heard both Dad and I making plans to go to Schenectady tomorrow. This is predicted to be the biggest storm of the season. We'll see.

Send more photos. I'll try to take some pics of these teen cats on the railing and send them off--the pictures, not the cats.

love, mom

Hey brother and sister of mine! (and m&d, wizards both)!

Molly, this is pretty genius. I love that picture of our old house, it almost made me cry when the webpage first loaded. It looks like its time for me to mow the lawn.

So it's morning in Europe, now. I'm sitting at my desk in my office pretending to do some work (typing furiously). My day here in Lisbon goes like this:
  • Wake up, make coffee in the little stovetop espresso maker. Drink together with bread (the incredible "Mafra" bread, baked in wood-fired ovens every day by some woman 50 miles outside of Lisbon) and jam and honey.
  • Walk down the hill to the metro stop, past Praça Alegria (little park with a fountain).
  • Take metro 4 miles north to Cidade Universitária, the University of Lisbon stop and walk over to my building (Complexo Interdisciplinar).
  • Work in my little office (alongside 2 or 3 of my fellow postdocs from France, Spain and Portugal).
  • Eat lunch in the cafeteria here in the building (my Portuguese is so far limited to alfaçe = lettuce and pepino=cucumber, but I'm working on it).
  • Have a café.
  • Go back to work and then head home.
  • Go to the grocery store (Pingo Doce... the sweet drop) with Saša to buy fish/meat/potatoes and more Mafra bread.
  • Talk to Hardil at the base of the Elevador da Gloria, where he stands from 6 to 11pm passing out business cards for his uncle's Indian restaurant hidden just off the main street.
  • Cook dinner, watch some CNN international, study some portuguese, eat and go to sleep.
Last weekend Saša and I happened to be at the grand re-opening of the Rossio train station (see above) where they were passing out free tickets to Sintra (woohoo!). We took a ride there last Sunday and wandered around in the pouring rain for 4 hours. Apparently there are some beautiful palaces and the ruins of a Moorish castle (see pics of cat and me, below) but we couldn't really see anything through the rain and fog.

Moor later! Love,