Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Figure This One Out

One-eyed cat drinking water from the fishbowl, standing on a box of fireworks.

I can only explain the fireworks. I think they have something to do with our "kid friendly" New Year's Eve plans. Something to accentuate the bonfire.

Dinner Is Like This

Zephyr busting out of the Bumbo to reach for the salad. Dogtor multitasking. Mama cleaning before dinner is even over. Frasier figuring out how to prolong eating in order to delay the inevitable bath.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Weekend Highlights

Frasier enjoyed a chariot ride/leaf pick-up duty with OPA.

She also was particularly kind to our old and failing lab-guy, Captain Nemo. Do you ever worry that children sense something you don't?

Extra cuddles to the old man tonight, who is currently allowing the beagle to spoon him next to the woodstove. I know he's just too tired to move. Sigh.


Hunting Season Strategy

There is only one day a year when having a whiny toddler in a backpack is advantageous in the woods: the last day of hunting season.

Things started off well enough. Zephyr looked like a pink gnome in a fleece bunting, and largely grinned and drooled for two hours, occasionally squealing at the corgi or god knows - a rock? a tree? OPA and friends helped get Zeph up the mountain. Fray went potty in the woods. (This is big. Who wants to carry a mostly potty trained toddler on their back? High risk.)

We crossed rivers, leaping from rock-to-rock, despite wearing babies and experimenting with a new center of gravity. We were feeling rather pleased with ourselves, our snacks, and the 60 degree weather.

Then the shots began to ring out. A large man nervously admonished us for being on the trails during hunting season (fair enough.) I realized jogging downhill over slippery leaves and hidden rocks with a baby strapped to my chest was hard. Frasier turned the corner into uber-whine mode - infantile omnipotence in full effect. (I want to go through the tunnel. I want lunch. I don't want lunch. I want to go home. I don't want to go home.)

Ah, nature. (*Anyone else get an MJ "Rock With You" video vibe with the tunnel photo? )

Sometimes You Fall in Love

...with the people you're asked to write about.

I was so thrilled to get the opportunity to pen a piece on the International Sweethearts of Rhythm for Oxford American's annual music issue (this year based on bands from Mississippi). The Sweethearts were, in summary, the nation's first integrated, all-girl swing band. You name it, they battled it: sexism, exploitation, Jim Crow laws, financial troubles.

Read the article here.

I always love working with Oxford American. An honor.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Hell on Wheels

Sometimes we take turns pushing each other in wheeled vehicles.

Sad trombone for the girls in the stroller. Fray has inherited my resource anxiety and needs to know where her snacks are at all times. The girls are cold and restrained. Life is suffering.


Monday, November 14, 2011

The Depressed Friend

The Dogtor, a man of rational ideas and a fan of word economy, will occasionally surprise me with whimsy.

Me: How is Djuna?
Dogtor: Our depressed friend?
Me: What you mean "our depressed friend?"
Dogtor: Well - look at it this way. She doesn't leave the coop. She sleeps all day and eats in bed.
Me: She doesn't like the cold.
Dogtor: It's gross to eat in bed.
Me: Yeah.
Dogtor: Sometimes I toss her out of the coop and onto a goat.

This is the Dogtor's cure for depression: have someone rip you out of bed and throw you on a goat. Works every time.

Or not at all. Djuna hasn't moved from her coop in days (sort of like her namesake, stewing in a little apartment in Patchin Place in the Village). We used to think she was eggbound when she did this, but she's just a little broody hen who may be writing dark poetry on the walls of the coop when no one is watching.

See photo: Depressed friend does not like flash!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Woodpile Showdown

Today I checked a very important box.

When I moved to Vermont and had a daughter (and then another), I decided that I was going to get tough. I was going to be the woman I wanted my daughter to be, model the types of behaviors I would want to see in her.

I fail at this daily.

MMB (around midnight, nudges Dogtor): There is something in the attic.
Dogtor: zzzzzzzz
MMB: I think something is in the trap. Oh God.
Dogtor: zzzzz
MMB: Bo! Seriously. It's - oh God - it's caught in the trap and moving around. It's dragging the trap.
Dogtor: What?
MMB: Death throes!
Dogtor: Sigh.
MMB: Go up and look.

What he should say: YOU go up and look.

I'm working toward that. I'm not ready to wrangle half-dead varmints, but recently I've cleared dead chipmunks from the garage. That's something.

The list I made when I first moved here is as follows (with progress notes):
  • learn to drive stick
  • drive the tractor
  • use the rototiller
  • car stuff /changing oil and tires
  • not squeal upon discovering a snake (I'm about 50% here)
  • handle attic varmints/clear traps
  • chop wood with an axe
  • start the grill (seriously - I'm not reliable with incendiary devices)
  • start the woodstove (score -done)
  • start campfires (doable)
  • assemble tents on my own (check)
  • be ambivalent about bugs/touch random salamanders and frogs presented by the Dogtor (75%)

Today I helped the Dogtor stack wood. There is something about a large, messy stack of wood that eats away at two type A people. So we put Zephyr in a jacket, let her coo at the leaves, and started heaving wood. Chickens, dogs, and cats milled about; the corgi and beagle were hunting something in the wood pile and were climbing it like goats.

But there were about 20 logs which were still too big for the stove, and Lesson Time presented itself. It was time for me to use the axe. Now - there is a huge difference in learning to use the axe and being proficient with an axe. (See difference between first and second photo. The Dogtor...swoon.)

I swung, oh, about 30 times and managed to split 3 pieces. My fingers are cramped and shaky, but, to use a line from Frasier's potty training book, I FEEL PROUD OF ME.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fresh Air

This afternoon's hike through the old orchard. Dogtor toting Fray in the backpack. Mountains and Shaftsbury in the distance.

Joining Us at the Table...


She now occupies the vintage high chair (70 years old and counting). I remember, from this part of the developmental process with Frasier, that now is when I have to make peace with mess. Horrible, stomach-turning mess. Hair full of pureed peas. The scent of maple teething biscuits on skin. Sticky fingers on my face. Flung bananas. Gobs of food dripping down the front of baby clothes like lava.

I'm ready.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pre-Ordering BOLP

Hi there -

For those of you that have asked, you can pre-order my book on many different sites. But - for folks that like supporting indies, consider calling my "home" bookshops: Northshire Books in Manchester, VT, or Battenkill Books in Cambridge, NY.

Battenkill Books will take your pre-order, and when the books come in I will sign and personalize them for you. Connie, the proprietrix, has set up a helpful pre-order page.

I genuinely appreciate your support - of my book, and these great local businesses.

The Cat Pain Scale

Sometimes the Dogtor and I go out on a date. Sometimes.

And usually, after that date, which might include a dessert or glass of Maker's on the rocks, and some tired but almost-inspired conversation, we inevitably drive by the clinic to check on an inpatient or two.

My job, when this happens, is to mew and speak southern niceties to the animals while the Dogtor does less charming stuff like take their rectal temperatures and inject them with pain meds.

It goes something like this:

Me: OH YOU POOR LITTLE PUPPY. You need to eat your food.
Dogtor: She's fifteen.
Me: Can I touch her?
Dogtor: Yes. Can you actually hold her while I change her bandage?
Me: Mhmm. Oh you poor thing. You brave dog. Bless your heart.
Dogtor: I'm going to warn you that there may be some bleeding.
Me: Ok.
(Dogtor removes bandaging.)
Me (eyes wide): Oh for Christ's sake! Oh you poor thing!
(Dogtor listens to the heart.)
Me: That's a big incision!
Dogtor: I can't hear you. (points to stethoscope.)
(Dogtor puts on fresh bandaging.)
Me: Now look, dog. You have on new heart underpants.
Dogtor: Bandages.
Me (nodding toward next cage): Can I pet the cat?
Dogtor: Yes.
(Cat purrs).
Me: See? I help a lot.
Dogtor: (Silence)

What I offer these animals requires few skills, but a special constitution. Namely: a bleeding heart, the ability to stretch monosyllabic words to polysyllabic, and a tendency to panic at slight signs of animal discomfort.

See cat pain scale, above. You can thank me later for this resource.