Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Homeland

We're back home in Vermont now. Frasier is eating snow and bossing the dogs around, who are so busy eating birdseed they don't listen. (Watch out, girl! Four dogs = a lot of dirty snow!)

If you want to catch up on the vacation, be warned: I wasn't smart enough to post my updates in the right order, so scroll down to Maximum Funkage and read up.

Resting after "vacation."

Beach Time

After the Dogtor concluded his time at the veterinary conference, we rented a gas guzzler and drove two hours east to Vero Beach, where the people at the front desk said: "Welcome Home."

We took them seriously and felt no qualms coughing all over the place, throwing tantrums in the lobby, using their towels to mop spit up, etc.

Not knowing that we were a family with contagious bugs ranging from stomach flu to RSV, a nice couple stopped and offered to take our picture. Frasier, stealing a move from the pre-teen playbook, decided she was embarrassed to be photographed with her family, and promptly pulled her hat over her face, refusing to remove it.

I tried my best to soak up the sunshine. I think that picture of me has a little bit of a Wilson Phillips video-swagger vibe to it, right? And how handsome is the Dogtor?

Ill-Advised Adventure at Sea World

What happens when you take a bunch of underslept, sick people to Sea World?

Fray started out with a bring-it attitude in the parking lot:

On the way in, we stopped to pose with everyone's favorite killer whale. Frasier sized up the furry whale:

Upon further evaluation, Frasier decided that the furry whale was, indeed, unnatural and something to fear:

Later, we all watched the captive whales doing tricks for snacks from a safe distance.

Zephyr, undaunted by the killer whales, entangled her sticky fist into the beautiful hair of a Brazilian teenager and communed with a parrot.

Hotel Life

I haven't seen Contagion, but maybe it starts with a sun-deprived mama who is so desperate to feel humid air on her skin that she drags her utterly sick children out to the pool?

Yeah. That's right. I convinced myself that the sunshine would be good for my sick girls and we got up and out of the hotel room every day. So while the Dogtor sat patiently in a conference room learning about how to use honey for wound management, I took the Mayhew-Bergman show poolside.

Some dude in a plane spent an hour writing affectionate messages to Jesus in the sky. Frasier stationed herself in the sandbox area, lording over the shovels, and had a melt down when a six-year-old boy with Bieber hair got in the way: "MOM. HE'S NOT LETTING ME DIG MY BEST HOLE."

Maximum Funkage

Initially, as vacation mode set in, I was excited about three things:

1 - Being warm
2 - Spending time with the girls
3 - Kool and the Gang - the band was scheduled to play the vet conference.

Here's how my vacation dreams were crushed:

The girls proceeded to get sicker than sick. Zephyr contracted stomach flu. Frasier came down with a heinous, hacking cough and an ear infection. Both were feverish. Neither slept well.

The Dogtor and I, confident that we could find a way to enjoy a mandatory early lights out (oh life in 1 room together!), brought head lamps and books. Well, in between managing vomit, poop, hacking coughs, and tantrums, I think I read Nabokov once from the light of the bathroom while sitting on questionably clean hotel carpet.

Oh. And Kool and the Gang played at 9PM. There was no way I was getting out of the quiet, dark hotel room. All I could do was sing "Cherish" and "Too Hot" to myself at the pool during the day.

**Bonus: How awesome is Kool here? And can I tell you how hard I struggle to sing along with that first line? It just doesn't work for me. I'm still devastated I missed the show.

A Study in Contrasts

Two Saturdays ago, we pulled out of a snowy driveway and headed to the airport. Later that evening, we were underneath the palm trees in Florida.

The Dogtor had a veterinary conference to attend. The rest of us just tagged along for the "fun." More on the fun, above.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

While We're On the Subject of Birds

I was on a website reading some of Darwin's letters, and saw this fantastic illustration called "Bird of Prey."
"Men, Darwin said, were – like other creatures – innately drawn to beauty, as demonstrated “by our women, both civilised and savage, decking their heads with borrowed plumes, and using gems which are hardly more brilliantly coloured than the naked skin and wattles of certain birds.”
Thinking on that.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Start Early

A gem from the holiday file - Frasier helping the Dogtor prepare the notoriously stiff and delicious homemade Edgeworth Egg Nog.

And yes, she took a sip.

And no, she didn't like it. But there's time.


Thank You, LitStack!

A lovely and smart review of Birds of a Lesser Paradise by Jennifer Kaufman at LitStack.
When I think about what I wanted readers to take away from my work, this is it.

Jennifer was also kind enough to interview me.

Very grateful,

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Way She Moves

Official evidence. Miss Z on the move. Trouble. She wants to teethe on the bottom of shoes and grab fistfuls of cat.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Our horse Whispy is too old to ride, so Fray's first time up was while we were visiting friends in NC. She hollered "giddyup" as soon as she mounted pregnant (and very patient) Echo.

Given that this fearlessness registered with the Dogtor, you can imagine me squirming behind the camera.

(Thank you, Lakeys!)

Bookriot and 2012

I am always delighted and surprised when I get to read nice things about my work. It just doesn't seem real or fair that I get to experience such joy. It pains me a little that I can't hug everyone and make them a casserole - that's what I really want to do to anyone and everyone who is good to this book. And to me.

Thank you to Rebecca Joines Schinsky (aka Booklady!) and Bookriot for including me in a very fine list of books to look forward to in 2012.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Constructive Use of Your Brushpile

We brought the New Year in with an early bonfire, fattening food in slow cookers, fireworks, and shrieking toddlers.

The best part: being in bed by 11.

Or, maybe the fire department showing up because they thought our house was on fire. (We usually don't have to get a permit because of the snow - but there was no snow, and um, well, oversight on our part.) I think I owe the firemen a batch of cookies.

Two videos. One of the raging fire, the other of the fireworks (and crying children). Zeph dug it all (flapped her arms like a seagull) and Fray was cautious in her appreciation (she held my hand tightly, then said: I like blue.)

Scooty Beags demonstrated that without our guidance he would indeed quickly eliminate himself from the gene pool (well, if we're going to be technical about it, the Dogtor eliminated that possibility with a scalpel). But Old Scoots was walking across hot coals and putting himself into the fire to hunt critters who had nested in the brushpile. Clever savage, isn't he?