Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A New Story - in Chapters


Doing research for a novel, I came across the mention of Allegra Byron, Lord Byron's illegitimate daughter, whom he essentially abandoned in a convent. Having a spirited daughter of my own, little Allegra piqued my imagination. What was her life in the convent like?

I imagined it in a story, which the lovely site Five Chapters has serialized this week - releasing a "chapter" a day.

If you're so inclined, give it a read: Chapter 1 starts here.

With gratitude,
MMB

Allegra Byron Photo Credit

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Wumpus Birthday Weekend





I thought it was impossible to have a fun weekend while 35 weeks pregnant, but apparently it's not.

We kicked off the "I'm 2" Wumpus Celebration Weekend on Thursday morning with banana nut chocolate chip muffins. Wumpus was gifted a toy microphone (BAA BAA BLACKSHEEP HAVE NO WOOOOOL) garden tools and a trike that is meaner than any tricked out hog you've seen on the roads. Tassles. Chrome.

Dear friends provided support the entire weekend - invaluable when you are nearly immobile. Saturday's party was a success despite the rain and the fact that I could hardly walk - I never dreamed of having so many children in our playroom. The food was great -nutella brownies, a caterpillar cake (homemade by the Dogtor-artisan), 80's fruit dip...

Things our dear friends did for us:
  • cooked
  • cleaned
  • took a shot of horrendous iron tonic in a show of solidarity (for my anemia)
  • pushed Wumpus on the swing (More higher! More pushing, please.)
  • told good stories
  • gave inspired, thoughtful gifts
We closed out the weekend with some outside play - cue amazing cat-dog Pi and the Dogtor headbutting the goats (who loved it and responded by going bipdeal and headbutting back.)

Wumpus managed to obsess about her cake before and after naps and the next day - waking up to say: more catah-pillah cake, please?

Wumpus - and her parents - totally felt the love from friends and family this weekend. Gratitude!

Cartoon/crazed-cake image from Hyperbole and a Half

Monday, April 18, 2011

Spring Wind



Here's what you need to know:

1. Wumpus flew her first kite this weekend. And let it go, and the Dogtor had to chase it into the pasture. Luckily the man has a long wingspan and good reach.

2. We went to see Iron and Wine (and Low Anthem) at MASS MoCA. They were spectacular. Standing room only. I sat on the floor and leaned against the Dogtor's leg - rather shamelessly. 34 weeks pregnant, anemic, and concert going = ill advised. But fun.

And the Iron/anemia connection is not lost on me. I hope I was fortified via audio input.

3. The house continues to transform. Furniture is moving. Things are on the walls (including a really fun "antiques" sign original to the house (fifties?) that the Dogtor's parents turned into a whelping box for puppies.)

Major hurdle left to go: everyone changes bedrooms. 3 bedroom switch. GO.

4. I loathe this part of pregnancy. Waddling. People making comments about twins and popping and generally just looking at me with wide eyes like: why are you out of bed? Wumpus elbowing my womb, cats using it as a stepping stool to my shoulder. Maternity shirts no longer fitting.

I am a small girl with a big baby. The end is in sight. Repeat: the end is in sight.

5. Wumpus turns 2 on Thursday. J'adore my precocious, outdoors-loving, tantrum-throwing firecracker!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Millay Obsession, Continued...




Hi guys -

I have a new essay (and heaps of photographs) on Millay's estate up at the super cool site Writer's Houses.

Gin piles, "pansexual" pool behavior, and New England sensibility.

Enjoy!
M

Monday, April 11, 2011

Promise







There are a lot of things on the cusp of happening here at the Mayhew-Bergman farmette.

First and foremost, I have an enormous belly, with a very active little girl inside of it. In the next few weeks, if all goes well, we will have another little human in our lives - this never fails to blow my mind. (Which is one reason I'm not sleeping - I keep blowing my own mind at 3 AM thinking - she's coming! Life is about to change! How am I going to put two children down to sleep? What happens when Wumpus #1 throws a tantrum or sprints toward the road?)

The snow has finally receded from the gardens - and there are those blank plots - waiting for more nutrients, waiting to be planted. Waiting on us to decide how much gardening we think we can handle with two babies.

A renovation of our bathroom and master bedroom is under way. There are old chestnut planks ready to go in, a cast iron sink we procured at a salvage yard. The bathroom must take shape - and soon.

The water-damaged ceilings are patched and about to be painted. The crib needs to be assembled. Birds are building nests in the barn. New chicks are about to be ordered. Frasier's birthday tricycle is in a box, waiting to be put together (by someone capable of following directions. In other words, not me.)

It feels like we are on the verge of something. Chaos? Life, version 3.0? (a nap?)

It's a little hectic, but, friends, there is momentum. My energy is dwindling, and I breathe heavily - like those 500 pound women who take the elevator and drink a 2 -liter of Mountain Dew with lunch - but I think we can get it all done.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sugar, Sugar


Apparently it's a decent sugaring year in VT. The temps went low again, and that means the sap can keep running. Last night we got a text from a friend that he was sugaring, so we put Wumpus to bed, called OPA over to babysit, threw on some coats and went down to see the operation. (Apparently the Dogtor used to clock quality hang out time at this sugar shack in high school.)

The shack looked romantic at night - lights blazing in the small windows, steam flying from the rooftop through the trees. As we got closer to the door, it smelled like cotton candy - not a bad thing.

We slid the shack door open, and were greeted by immense warmth, steam, and the smell of boiling sap. Inside, the friend and his brother were doing what they've been doing every early spring for as long as they can remember - throwing wood inside their giant boiler, drinking beer, checking the filters.

Sugaring, I've realized, is a science and an art. I listened as the friend explained in expert detail the way the sap runs, the way they determine the sugar content (and thus how many gallons of sap they'll need to make one gallon of syrup - somewhere between 40 and 80!), the way the filters and boilers work. Figures of past production and start dates were etched into the walls in pen and pencil. It was, all at once, complex and rustic.

The vat of finished product came out to something like a medium grade amber - a gorgeous chestnut color. The boys generously let us taste a Dixie cup of the stuff...it was delicious, and worth the sleepless night. (Downing a shot of sugar before bed...tsk tsk, pregnant lady!)