Friday, December 31, 2010

(unimportant pet peeve)

I don't know why this annoys me, it just does....everyday at noon, a lady jogs by soooooo slowly that I want to pop out of the house in a gorilla suit and chase her so she'll go faster. I mean, whatever, she's moving, that's great and all, I should be happy, but every time I see her, that's what I think. Gorilla suit, pronto.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Shit MY Dad Says, Decoded.

I occasionally check out this website called "Shit My Dad Says"'s by this guy who lives with his elderly father and writes down one thing his dad says every day. It makes me laugh, although in all honesty, some of it is far less entertaining than shit my dad says. It's more the WAY he say things rather than what, and I suppose most of what my father says isn't terribly original, but it got me thinking about all the sayings I've heard from him my whole life...and how many I could pull up on the spur of the moment. I thought I'd test myself and see. Here goes:

1.) "Get your head out of your ass" (This one's pretty self explanatory I would say.)

2.) "She fell ass over teakettle" (Meaning someone, usually a "She", took an ungraceful spill to the amusement of all.)

3.) "They don't know their ass from their elbow" (Or armpit, or hole in the ground, I've heard all three equally, meaning that somebody doesn't know what they are doing/talking about. Duh.)

4.) "More (insert any noun here) than you can shake a stick at." (A lot of something.)

5.) "Howdy-Ho!" (Hello.)

6.) "B'God!" (An expression similar to "Darn tootin'!", usually used to drive some point home.)

7.) "Jesus H Christ!" (Wonderment or anger depending on the tone. I have no idea what the H stands for.)

8.) "Shit on a shingle." (Poor quality.)

9.) (Winking while my mother takes one tiny swig of beer) "Hey, maybe I'll get lucky tonight!?" To which Mom rolls her eyes and says "You got lucky LAST night." (Dear God! We children run screaming from the room covering our ears.)

10.) "Didn't he marry so-in-so's father-in-law's sister? The one with the nasty teeth?" (Genealogy research.)

11.) "Atta boy!" (Whether or not you are actually a boy, expression of praise.)

12.) "Gotta love it." (More happiness talk.)

13.) "Hold my beer and watch this." (Stolen from some comedian, meaning he's about to do something dumb, on purpose.)

14.) "Shitabitch!" (Stolen from my mom...we all say this actually, it's a proud, original, family curse.)

15.) "More power to ya." (You go right ahead, good luck with that, heh heh.)

16.) "Up Shit Creek without a paddle." (No chance in hell.)

17.) "Smarten up." (More polite version of "Get your head out of your ass.")

18.) "He/she can't find their way out of a wet paper bag." (Bad at directions and plain stupid in general.)

19.) "Pull my finger." (Don't.)

20.) "Pass the salt." (Immediately followed by his own response to himself...) "You want salt? I'll give you salt!" (A dinner tradition.)

21.) "Shit or get off the pot." (I think everyone's dad says this.)

22.) "A real corker." (Unique/great.)

23.) "Don'tcha know." (Got it?)

24.) "Yer slayin' me." (While laughing very hard.)

25.) "Frickin' cats." (Not a fan.)

Just a brief vocab lesson for you, I won't even try to decipher his jokes.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Jelly & Dexter

We've thought about getting horses for years, it just never seemed that feasible, what with our 1.3 acres or whatever it is. But the boys were getting very interested in riding/cowboys/animals in general so we rethought the idea and came up with a solution. MINIS! Mini horses for our mini back 40. Wanted to find something that the kids could ride (for a year or so anyway) that was also a pet, something that could help all get us used to the daily routines that come with owning a high maintenance critter, but that involved little or no danger. In a year, after we're accustomed to the workload, maybe we'll get a regular sized horse, since I like to ride too and Eli's legs get longer every night. We shopped around a lot in the last couple of months, and in the end, lucked into our two tiny friends. Jelly is an 11 year old ex-petting zoo/pony ride pony that is very gentle and extremely fat...she goes on a diet immediately. Comes from being fed handfuls of grain by adoring children for years. Seriously, she's so fat that, even though she's nobody's mama, we started telling 'Your Mama's So Fat' jokes about her. Dexter's 4, originally belonged to one of the kid's teachers. Her girls got too big for him and she sold him to my Uncle Roger to be a companion for his old draft horse. Rog only had him a couple of months before, sadly, they had to have their draft put down. Knowing we were looking for a second pony, they gave him to us. Justin built two scaled-down box stalls in the barn, and the ponies seem to be getting along. Dexter is definitely more of a puppy dog, comes running whenever anyone goes outside, follows us everywhere, plays with Captain... and Jelly is more of a horsey horse, wily about being caught unless it involves treats and kicks the dog if he's a pest. The kids have ridden them around bareback a bit, we haven't worked with them too much yet, I think we'll just give them some time to get settled first. Justin is hoping to break them to drive in the spring so that we won't actually "outgrow" them. Our place is sort of feeling more like a farm now. Next up: an ostrich. Just kidding mom. Maybe they make mini ostriches.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Good Things

Yup, we got the boys ponies for Christmas (we must be insane) but only one is here so far...I'll do a post about that later on, but for now, I thought I'd try to head off any seasonal depression (which hasn't been nearly as bad in recent years due to dance and changing my way of thinking) with a list of all the things that I'm looking forward to this winter! Corny, but it works for me.

-Holiday time! Adore Christmas. Love the smells, love my family...really looking forward to hugging everyone and eating the crazy, random things that Grammy Sammy dips in chocolate.

-Dance class in the nice, big, warm gym. So thankful the school is letting me use it.

-My good friend Jana (and E's riding trainer) will be back from Germany where she's been visiting her family for the last month. We've missed her so much!

-Other friends will be home for the holidays.

-Skiing! It's been a long time since one of us didn't have to pull a baby around in a sled while the other one made a run...ALL of us will be on the hill this year, I hope!

-Skating! I wish we had our our pond, but the Tunbridge rink is amazing, with daily smoothed ice and lights. Yay rink gnomes!

-Oliver's Birthday, Jen's Birthday, lots of get-togethers in our little clan.

-White, fluffy snow with two ponies & a pup to frolic with in the backyard. Boys were sledding last night and Dexter was already loving it...he'd climb to the top of their hill and sniff the sled, then he'd race the kids down on the other side.

-Cozy times in by the woodstove with books and tea.

-Snowshoing with my parents over at camp.

-Projects. Can't wait to get some work done on our house.

-Valentine's Day and all those other pointless excuses to have tiny parties for no reason.

-Sugaring Season, I love the work, I love the steamy, late nights, I love the whole time....even though I'll never love Maple Syrup.

-Rosy cheeks on my babies.

-Never having to worry about what to wear...wool socks, long johns, jeans, turtleneck, sweater, boots. Done. No thinking or fashion required.

-The sounds the river makes when it's chortling along under the ice.

-Soup and stew and chili.

-The feeling, more than ever, of being isolated from the rest of the world. Some people don't like that feeling but I, even though I don't use my blog as a place to express it, get entirely fed up and angry and scared about the way things are going and sometimes it's nice to forget about it for a while, to feel cocooned in Vermont by blizzards and no TV reception. Ignorance is not bliss, no, but a break from political rubbish saves my sanity.

-Extra quilts on the beds.

-Glorious frost patterns on the windows every morning.

-The boys go to sleep earlier.

-I don't really have to bother with shaving my legs.

-Avocados and oranges are on sale!

-I have more time to write.

-People look super adorable when their noses are red.

-Since I'm stuck inside more often, there's no excuse for not keeping the house tidy...a good thing because I hate it messy, but in summer I'm too lazy/busy to bother.

-We are more likely to use candles at dinner.

-Time seems to move slower, a blessing these days when I'm sad about how fast my kids are growing.

-My children can both dress themselves more hour long wrestle to get them into snowsuits, only to hear, five minutes after they go out, "I'm cold!"..."I have to pee!"

-Stirring hot chocolate with leftover candy canes.

-We have a new furnace.

-Most of the pipes in the house that could burst already did last year, so we should be set with that.

-Shoveling makes my tummy tight.

-No lawn to mow.

-I sorted out a year's worth of unmatched socks recently, including all the really warm ones.

-I own four pairs of fur boots. Maybe that sounds like a lot to some people, maybe not enough to others. But four pairs of fur boots are the exact right amount of fur boots for me to own.

So, that's that. Sappy but necessary list of winter good things. I'll remind myself to look at it when the roads are icy and the kids have their seventh cold.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Because November Always Feels Sad To Me.

Every few days, when I drive South down RT 110, I pass this little farm, close to the road, nothing fancy. Very plain and UN-fancy in fact. What appears to be vague untidiness to the untrained eye is, in actuality, simply many years worth of I-Just-Might-Need-That-Someday. Cats lounge on the crooked stoop, and bask all over the dooryard. An old farmer lives there, I forget his name now. In December, balsam trees for sale line his porch railing, occasionally we've bought a Christmas wreath from him. Locals will know who I mean. He has a certain look about him...slight but strong, gaunt cheeks, lined face on which perches thick, horn-rimmed glasses. (Are they actually left over from the 40's? Where does one even buy such things nowadays?!?) In winter he wears a wool flap hat with grey hair bristling out underneath, and a checkered, moth-eaten, Johnson Woolen Mills coat. Summer, even the hottest August days, will find him in a long sleeved, flannel shirt. Tilling his huge garden, working outside every minute, no matter the weather, he is more Vermont than Vermont is. When I picture him in my mind, I always see him in black and white just because he seems so timeless. Daily, as I'd pass, I'd look for him driving his tractor, so ancient that it's unbelievable that he even uses it for work when the only others of it's kind are paraded down the middle of town by collectors on Memorial Day, or chopping firewood, or letting his tiny herd of bony cows out to pasture. I'd think, "When I have more time, I need to stop and photograph this man." The way he moves, slow, but with purpose, the way he runs his gnarled hands lovingly over machinery, swings an ax through cord after cord even though it seems a light breeze could blow him over, strokes the spine of an elderly Jersey...he reminds me of my Great Grampa Gray and every old Vermonter rolled into one stubborn, whithered body. For ages, I've been reminding myself to try and capture this fleeting New England strength on film, never was there a more perfect subject, classic and strangely beautiful...iconic. As the months rolled by and other things took priority, years slipped away while I always put it off as a thing to do "some other time". And then, a while back, as I drove by, I saw the farmer, standing in the spot his tractor was usually parked. A shiny, out of state truck with a flatbed trailer behind it was pulling out, with the antique secured carefully on board. The way the man's hands were stuffed, too deep in his pockets and the slump of his shoulders that, despite his years, had never been there before, told the whole story. I felt like stopping on the side of the road, and sobbing, so tangible was his loss. Maybe it's silly to think a man's heart and soul could be broken this way, but it seems it wasn't the only change. At night, there used to be a warm, yellow glow spilling from the cracked windows of his ramshackle barn where he'd be busy with the evening milking. People would come, and he'd fill whatever bottle they'd bring with fresh, raw milk for a couple of bucks. Although I can't imagine there was ever very much, the rest would be picked up by the regular milk truck. These days, the barn sits cold and dark, and for the first time ever, in my memory, a blue, flickering flash from a television set can be seen in the farmhouse window. It feels like defeat, like age, like grief. A man, I'd only spoke to a couple times really, letting go of all he's ever known or probably wanted. I like to think he was happy in his simple life, happy to serve his purpose, and I mistakenly assumed he would go on forever. Picturing him, sitting in the half-light with his tired, work-worn hands folded on his lap, staring blankly at reality TV and other things he can't possibly care about, so great is his love for his farm, always gets inside of me, aching deep down, right to the very core where my real Vermont self is hiding. The unfairness of aging, rural destruction and poverty combined. A helpless, hopeless sadness of losing a way of life. And perhaps I am sentimentally projecting feelings on him that weren't there...maybe this man who once drove his cows down the springtime river valley in the dusk, when the lilacs scented the banks, and the whippoorwill was calling goodnight, maybe he truly DOES want to sit inside with his re-runs. I'll never have those photographs to match this blog post, I wish, more than ever, my camera had recorded the way it was. What is a picture worth again? Is this anywhere near a thousand words yet? Because, in my regret, those pictures would have been worth far more.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Hmmmm... it's already November, but I thought I do a quick post on last month. The Fall flew by so fast, I can barely believe it. Tamera's wedding, school events, getting in firewood, dance classes, etc, etc, etc. I stalled about dealing with my pinched nerve for three months and it actually finally seems a bit better...not all the way, but I have some feeling back in my arm and hand again. We never ended up going to the Island one last time so I guess we'll just keep our fingers crossed that the cabin will be OK until Spring. Sad, but there just wasn't time. I don't even remember all that went on last month. Stuff. Lots of stuff. And November has brought even more. Yawn. To bed.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Horse, horses, horses.

Having a bit of a re-occurrence of that horse craze from childhood. Lucky for me, Eli is more than obsessed as well. He and I have even walked around our own barn lately, dreaming of remodeling to fit some box stalls. E is loving his riding lessons...he's so cute and serious when he's listening to his trainer. These Icelandic horses are the perfect match for him, small, strong, and mellow. They are bombproof and affectionate to the tiny kidlets, and full of spirit in the show ring. In fact, they are so mellow and understanding as a breed, I feel no fear around them. This is awesome as I've been attempting to get over my intimidation for about 12 years now, since we worked on that dude ranch the year before we got married. I went from riding every single day, for six months, in all weather, to a very fearful rider.

I can't say exactly where things went sour in that time, only it was the rule to give the paying guests the well behaved horses and ride the rotten ones ourselves. The rotten ones were usually horses we had no idea where they came from, probably abused, only half It was tricky, getting trailer loads of horses, with no background information, to try and figure our their stories. NOBODY wanted to be the first to test drive the monthly newcomers. And our boss really didn't treat them very well either, so it wasn't their fault, a lot of unfortunate events led to some of them being nasty but you can only get bit, kicked, bucked and thrown so many times before the whole thing just isn't so fun anymore. I guess I started to expect that the horse would hurt me and I was always tense, waiting for some mean trick. Obviously there were some wonderful horses too, but I only got to ride those in a slow week when they needed exercise which wasn't all that often. And usually when we rode one for exercise alone, we'd have to lead another, possibly a naughty one, who would nip at the one you were riding the entire time and wreck any enjoyment that might have been had otherwise.

I remember one sweet mare named Ruth that was so gentle and careful with her riders. We always put little girls on her because she seemed so motherly to them in a weird way that I can't really explain. She never buddied up with any other horse in the pasture, only grazed quietly or dozed alone in the sun. But when a family with kids signed up for a trail ride, she would come alive and nuzzle the children when they pet her and, I swear, her big horsey eyes would just shine. We always thought that maybe she had come from a home with a little girl and really missed her. She was older, not OLD, but older. The deal at the ranch was, if the boss could get a good profit on a horse (which was pretty easy since they were bought for nearly nothing, hence the many bad eggs) he would sell it if someone was interested. A family with a nine year old girl came and rode one day, naturally we paired the girl up with Ruth and they fell in love. The parents came back the next day to ask about buying her. Our boss (the jerk, I'll never forgive him for all this) was bragging about how wonderful and safe Ruth was, and talking about how he trained her himself (which was a crock, he never saw her before that summer) and telling them that her asking price was...I don't remember, but it was an insanely high amount for a grade horse that he paid seriously less than $100 for. Ruth had been standing in the corral, half asleep with her back to us this whole conversation. I guess to prove how sweet she was, our boss ran full tilt at her and vaulted onto her back. (He always acted like he was the swaggering star in some cheesy Western. He taught us all to rope things from horseback to impress the guests...he had issues. His dog, Colorado, peed on, or humped everyone's legs. I consider that a direct result of his owner's gross personality.) Anyway, of course Ruth bolted and tossed him off. She was basically just attacked from behind while asleep in the warm sun, what horse wouldn't react the same way?! The people who were looking at her were either scared away because they truly didn't know that much about horses, or disturbed by Boss/Jerk's attitude so Ruth's chance at a loving home was ruined. All the horses got shipped back to auction yards at the end of the summer, and who knows if they fared better at their next ranch/camp/farm. I've often thought of her and wondered what happened to her, along with a few other of my favorites.

We wished we had the money and space to save Spanky (clownish, white, smaller horse who was always my pick, if the choice was mine, probably a cow pony, lots of tricks but more goofy than bad...we got along well), Ruth (the aforementioned big, brown who-knows-what with a heart of gold), King (very young, darling Paint, who would let you sit on him while laying down in the field, had poor or no eyesight in one eye but was still 100% trustworthy), Montana (Huge, gorgeous,glossy long-legged TB that must have been bought by mistake, never put a foot wrong, tricked the guests into thinking we were high class), Johnny-Bravo (Justin loved him, also expensive looking to the untrained eye), Kate (dainty maybe-Morgan mare that seemed to be perpetually in heat, but mostly lovely just the same), Franklin (ex circus pony that loved to jump), and Harley (Half Belgian, half Cobb?, his back was like a sofa). But there are several that I hope were made into dog food. No, I don't mean that, though I do remember curling up, sobbing, in the tack room because I got bucked onto the saddle horn by a Draft cross that was only broke to pull a plow, one too many times, and another group of dudes arriving when I was thinking I NEVER, NEVER wanted to see another horse as long as I lived.

So...after all that, it's nice to be around horses that have been raised lovingly by people that know what they are doing. Not to mention the entire stable is simply beautiful...far nicer than my house actually. The horses have a SAUNA for goodness sake. Kind of strange seeing the other side of the horse world. A far cry from my last horse experience. I feel like watching the kids ride, and having velvet muzzles carefully eat an apple slice out of my hand is a good place to start over, for now. I have a sneaking suspicion that a few weeks time may find me back in the saddle again. Ti Yi Yippie Yo.


There are a million photos, as usual, on Flickr!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Jumble In My House vs The Jumble In My Head

Wow, July since I last posted! I'll try to put up Fair pictures and Fall pictures soon, but I thought I'd just drop in quickly and let everyone know that I haven't exactly forgotten about this blog, it's just so incredibly busy, I can't really find the time for it lately. School started smoothly, with me bringing the boys and Av to and from everyday, but just last week, the littlest started to panic about being left and finally, today, we decided he was just too young for the class quite yet. A bit of a drag because I was about to commit to some dance blocks at a couple local schools and now my plans have switched back to "Stay At Home Mom". Ah well. C'est La Vie.

Awesomely, the kids somehow have escaped every cold and bug that got passed around as the school year began. I, on the other hand, have had a pinched nerve in my neck or shoulder that renders my right arm nearly useless for the last two months. Waiting for our insurance to OK the MRI and other testing before some sort of action can be taken. A real drag since I have had no feeling in my thumb and can hardly sign my name. Makes daily wrestling with the three kiddos rather tricky. And all those car seat buckles almost impossible! And even more fun, I have a Bartholin Cyst. I won't even explain this one, trust me, you don't want to know. It gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it. A really, really painful, gross, girl thing and I'm having surgery on it tomorrow. Dancing has aggravated it horribly...just UUUUGGGHHHH. I'm going to barf if I talk about it anymore. And so will you.

Tamera's wedding looms closer and the need to finish cutting and stacking firewood is getting more desperate, not to mention all the winterizing that still needs to happen on our house. To the chagrin of many of my dancers, I've taken Tuesday and Friday evenings off for a while so we can get something done before snow falls. I hate to disappoint people but we HAVE to have some free time for us or else we'll be in real trouble soon! I organized an Art In The Park fundraiser for the kid's school a few weeks back that was a success so I am feeling pretty good about that, but now it's the big push to scavenge donations for their biggest yearly fundraiser, a holiday themed silent auction and being on yet another committee is making me stressed out at the moment. Plus we clean the school once a month which somehow always seems to fall on a weekend that's already overbooked... And now, suddenly, my phone is ringing off the hook for Senior Portraits to be done. I don't want to turn away business, especially when we need the money, but WHEN?! There is no time left in the day!

OK, sorry! I'm not meaning to go off on a cranky rants. Myra says I'm a negative person lately, and I can't say no to anyone and that's why I'm unhappy. But I'm NOT unhappy, only overbooked and telling it like it is. And I'm not meaning to single out the negative in the last couple of weeks, it just takes center stage sometimes. I DO have a problem saying no, but it seems like it's always a situation where if you said no, you'd have to be the World's Biggest Ass. Like a teacher/friend called asking me to substitute for her art class because her mother DIED and she's going to her family. Do I say "Hell no!"? No way, I don't have it in me. I felt like a jerk canceling my Hip Hop classes. There are a few kids who love it beyond ANYTHING and they were heartbroken. My normal rule of thumb is: I try to not say no when other people's uncomfort or needs outweigh my own, but I'm at a point where I would be sacrificing too much to keep those extra dance days going right now. Still, the guilt remains, and the pressure from dancer's parents.

I've always been proud of rarely letting people's a foolish pride in always being The One To Pull Through, and I feel like a schmuck when I fail. It's idiotic of me, but often I wonder who I am and if it's the same as who I appear to be. And I see that I'm perceived as helpful, dependable and softhearted. And I worry that that's IT. If I fail, I'm nothing, nobody. I'll wake up in the middle of the night, remembering something I said I'd do, somebody I said I'd call, and I AGONIZE over it. An easy fix would be to simply never do anything for anybody but myself, for us... my family tells me to be more selfish, which truthfully, I guess, is a practical solution. Only I already feel selfish by refusing to give up who I think I am, and I just don't know how to stop. I'd fade away into that flaky person that I've always feared becoming.

In some areas, things are out of hand, like the fact that, depending on the situation, I always keep extra socks, hair ties, drinks, sports equipment, you name it, on hand for people that have forgotten theirs, I buy things based on who might need to borrow it at some point. When I thrift shop, I have seventeen different people in mind "Hmmmm, So-In-So could use this..."...Figure skates, snowboards, costumes, mittens, cake pans, tents, etc, etc, etc...we own these sorts of things in mass amounts of random sizes simply to lend. People have come to expect that if they need something, ANYTHING, that we will have it. My house is a disaster because of it, and yet I feel the overpowering need to turn no one away, disgruntled that Emily couldn't help them. When I photograph a stranger's wedding, I have an entire emergency kit of safety pins, hair clips, scissors, needle & thread, super glue, emery board, nail polish and breath mints in my camera bag for the bride WHO IS NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY, but I haven't yet met a pre-wedding-hysterical-bride (in the 60 something weddings I've done in the last few years) who hasn't needed something from me.

Deep down, I could never sit there and not help. On the other hand, I need to simplify and I suppose I need therapy. Trouble is: I KNOW what my problem is, and the way out, but haven't the energy to put the plan in action. After reading this post, I wonder if my accidental, passive-aggressive writing of this post will make people steer clear of favors from me. Not my intention, but why else would I write such a thing? Perhaps because our life has become too hectic to accommodate even our own basic needs? Perhaps because my journal sits buried under my underwear in a dresser drawer and my only outlet is this keyboard? Perhaps because if I write enough of my inner thoughts in a public forum, I'll become more than just a "dependable" person? Perhaps I'm just tired and wanting sympathy? Whatever reason, yes, I realize that I have self-esteem issues lurking under the be-everywhere-do-everything-keep-on-trucking-make-the-cut-let-no-one-down facade. So maybe, in the tradition not offering alcohol to an alcoholic, if you have something you need for a while, ask my sister.

Friday, July 30, 2010

home again, home again, jig, jig, jog

Last week's trip to the Island was a little more eventful than usual, with Justin cutting off a foot and a half of hair, visiting friends, car dying, kids with colds, all the land around our cabin bought up by Buddhist Monks (except for the brand new biker campground, catering to Hell's Angels), mostly great weather, but some intense storms thrown in there, my near concussion by somehow slamming my head in a door, an exploding dryer in the coin laundry, etc, etc, etc. All in all, an awesome week...if you overlook the random not-so-awesome adventures. The car was the biggest issue, and the most icky, although everything turned out just fine.

It was late evening, after dinner, and we decided to drive to one of our favorite isolated beaches for a dusk walk before bed. Probably about 15 miles away. So we are in the middle of nowhere, near dark, and the car just stops. No cell service, nothing around except one long driveway, back a way, in the bushes. Justin leaves us in the car and hikes down to check it out. After nearly forty minutes, I panic a bit... The kids are starting to run fevers, it's crazily buggy out, plus my door doesn't lock and I don't want to leave the car that just happened to have both our laptops in it, not to mention cameras, passports, purse... No other cars pass this whole time. High tourist season my ass.

Anyway, Justin eventually returns with an elderly man named Ken, and a gas can. (Justin tells me later that after Ken and his wife opened the door, before he even said a word, they ask him if he had knocked for long because they were both deaf in one ear, and their cat was too. Since none of them can tell where a sound comes from, they all went to the wrong door first...they next proceeded to tell him that all white cats with blue eyes are deaf, but as Cookie has one blue eye, AND one green, he's only deaf on the one side. They open up the door and usher Justin [who still hasn't explained what he's doing there] inside and Ken asks him if he plays the fiddle. Fumbling around under the sofa, he draws out a violin case and shows Justin a fiddle he's made himself. Next comes the photo album of fishing boats he's built, and various woodworking projects over the years. Not that Justin didn't appreciate any of these another situation he would have been delighted to talk shop with the guy but....)

Back at the car the gas does nothing. Justin and Ken head to the house to call a tow truck. We wait again before Justin, Ken and his wife, Rena return. The tow truck will be an hour at least so the couple invite us all up to the house. Once there, Rena beckons to me, "I have something to show you." Leaving the boys and comparative safety of the front yard behind, I follow her down a long, dark, twisting hallway. Before she turns the knob on what appears to be a bedroom door, she peers at me with a weird smile and says "What do you think of THIS?!" My heart is racing as she opens the door with a proud flourish. Dolls. THOUSANDS of them on every surface fill the entire room from floor to ceiling. There is a tiny path around the bed, but other than that, the dressers, bed, floor, shelves are piled with DOLLS. She starts to wander around saying hello to them...every one has a name and a story, and I hear quite a few... Some are wearing handmade cardboard and colored plastic sunglasses. She says that the light destroys the eyes on the vintage dolls, so she made most of the older ones special glasses, and keeps the shades drawn. At one point she picks up a doll dressed in a nun's habit and asks me if I'm Catholic. "Nooooooo" I say slowly, hoping not to offend her. "But of course you've heard of the Order Of St. Crisco?" she presses. I wanted to say "Oh sure." But luck was with me and my honestly won out. "No, I guess I haven't." She seems a bit shocked for a moment before breaking into a cackling laugh and flipping the doll upside down, revealing a can of cooking grease. "I BUILT HER ON AN EMPTY CRISCO TUB!" Whew! Starting to sweat now and praying to St. Crisco that the tow truck hurries the hell up. But you know what? A few more minutes, a few more stories, and I decide that I really like this crazy doll lady, and am rather disappointed when we hear the truck rumble in.

Since the kids and I don't fit into the tow truck, Ken and Rena offer to drive us home. Rena forces her husband to slow to a crawl in front of every house we pass, while she tells me who lives there, what they do and how they are related to her. Quite late, when we finally get back to our cabin, I light some candles and we exchange contact info. Rena's last name is HOWE! Totally strange! There are no Howe's anywhere on the Island, it's all McSomething or MacSomething. I fully intend to send them a doll or two for their kindness.

The car saga continues the next day when Justin and our friend John (who was luckily honeymooning nearby and came to our rescue) head over to the garage to figure out the problem. The little old man at the garage identifies the broken part in a heatbeat, and our luck continues when, out of the five cars rusting in the underbrush behind the shop, one happens to be the same as our car. The mechanic explains that somebody just left it there a couple years ago..."Dunno who, dunno why." Justin is welcome to take parts off it, free of charge, as long as he replaces them from a junkyard before we leave, in case the mysterious car owner ever returns. The man also hangs over Justin and John as they work, telling them story after story, and seeming terribly amused by their plight. So the car got fixed, John and Kate head home on the ferry, we got replacement parts the next day and put them back in the junker, while the 87 year old Panting Shore Garage mechanic tried to sell us a case of canned beef to bring home to Vermont, and that was the end of the car adventure.

Seriously, the locals there are so insane that it feels just like home. My other favorite Local encounter was when we were in the barber shop and Justin sat down in a chair between two burly fisherman (with buzz cuts, getting their hair cut even shorter) and took off his baseball cap, letting his Rapunzel mane tumble down his back. One fisherman started taking pictures with his cellphone, while the other one asked us if it wasn't scary "living in Vermont with all them poisonous snakes you got down there."

It was an amusing, mostly nice week. We had some other friends, with three kiddies, who were vacationing in Summerside, come spend the day with us and all the kids had a blast. We ate lots of good Island food...the new potatoes were incredible. We had dinner with our neighbors Ethan and Lila who informed us that Rena-Doll-Lady was their children's elementary teacher growing up. We took in a museum or two, did a whole lot of beach, mowed our lawn a couple of times, did the moonlight lighthouse tour (E's favorite), relaxed during the day, kids coughed during the night. I shut my head in the cabin door trying to get in before mosquitoes did, and had a monster headache for's still sore. A wacky week. Missing the sound of the sea at night, but glad to be home. Every place gets compared to home, not really fair, I know, because no other place will ever win. Even our home away from home. How lucky I am. Poisonous snakes and all.

My computer is being slow so pics are all on my flickr page.

Friday, July 9, 2010


When the garbage truck swerved
Into my lane,
I was thinking of daisies,
And how they lay thick
In the ditches.
Dainty swath of white,
As if someone drew a finger
Down through a puddle of lace.
I hadn't a thought of how Life depends
On the carelessness of a CD change,
Or the lighting of a cigarette.
The balance hanging, every second,
In the hands of strangers.
To save myself,
I yanked the wheel to the right, and mowed
Down several feet of daisies
Nodding their heads cheerfully
By the wayside.
Those innocents
Crushed into the dirty shoulder.
And really, what's the difference
Between us?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


So, this morning, we lost Craig Byrne. Last time I saw him, a couple of weeks ago at Wellspring's Graduation, we joked about his sharing oxygen with me from his recently attached oxygen tank, and he gave me one of those famous Craig-winks and said "Catch ya later, Em." Tears welled up in my eyes as he walked away because oddly enough, I got the feeling he meant LATER, as in WAY later. And he did. Craig has been an amazing friend, one of my most devoted dancers, the dad of Eli's best buddy, and the strongest, most positive fighter of cancer I've ever seen. You know how, after someone dies, everyone acts like they were just THE most wonderful person, no matter what? Well, he pretty much was, for real. And he made everybody feel OK about this.. it's sad and unfair and I've cried all day, but if he was OK with this, then we've gotta be too. Somehow. Rock on, Craig. Catch ya later.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Waves off the roof.
Ripples above warped metal.
Out behind the sawmill.
Chewed pine aroma tangled with
The over sweet scent of wild strawberries,
Crushed underfoot.
The blade whines,
The great, green trees sway
In sympathy as
A brief breeze,
Carries a pitchy tang.

Inside, my father pulls the levers,
Rusty fingers poking through worn gloves,
He sings over the ancient, sputtering motor.
Smoking and belching, it will never quit.
Forever sparking to brutal life
When he turns the oily key.

And back here, I hold a patched shovel,
Because I come from a people,
That patch shovels,
Pulling the ever growing dust mound
Back away from the pipe that spews it.
The remains of log and steel encounter.
My job for the morning.
No hurry.
A wet circle rings the pile,
As finally, in June, the inner ice thaws,
The deep glassy heart, melting at last.
Never a hurry.

It is enough, right now,
To simply exist.
To look at my shovel and it's
Riveted tin patch,
The moisture seeping
From the crumbling, yellow hill at my feet,
The berry stains edging my boot soles.
To think of the trees,
And my father, and his gloves,
And his voice,
Raised in a pure baritone
Over everything else.
To be someplace
Because you were put there.
Because you belong.

Yes, back here,
Amidst, sound and smell,
Sun, and coarse, golden chaff,
An itching cling on my damp skin,
I am alone, and never alone.
Questions, questions, questions dissolve,
Surrounded by what and where and when.
I know who I am.
Oddly satisfied.
A strange peace, raw and loud,
Keeps me.
Fills me with home.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Long Overdue Post

Yes, I'm a bad, bad blogger these days...This place feels like a ghost town! Well, better late than never, right? The boys are OBSESSED with cowboys lately. No more pirates, no more knights, just COWBOYS. They have their own playlist of favorites on my itunes...if I have to hear the Bonanza theme song one more time... Anyhow, exciting news: E lost his first tooth day before yesterday, the bottom right, which, I think was the first tooth he ever got too. He'll start first grade this fall and the Little Bub & Av will start in the Butterfly Garden (Nursery/Kindergarten). It feels sad to me in a way. I wish they could stay little and snuggly and lispy and silly forever. E already acts like I'm the embarrassing Dork-Mom, cramping his style when he's hanging with his gang of cool dudes. At his end of school picnic they were like miniature 13 year olds, tormenting the girls, getting into trouble, and steering clear of the moms. I want my babies back! Sniff. The boys fight like nobody's business lately too. Holy, holy. Makes me insane. And when Av comes out! Otherwise, we are all busy, busy, busy. Dance classes are going well, some nights way busier than others. Zumba is filled to the max, but clogging is down to a half dozen students. Hip Hop depends, some weeks it's full and sometimes only a handful of dancers. The kiddie Ballet and Creative Movement is swamped for the tiny tot's class, but only a small group in the older kid's class. And Swing this session has just two-four couples. All in all, it's working out for me, and I like what I'm doing, how many people can say that?! We have 567542657087255 projects we should be getting done around here this summer, but as usual, we are as soon as Justin gets home from work, I GO to work, so finding time for anything else has been tricky. I feel a bit overwhelmed sometimes, the responsibility of having everything organized, with lesson plans, and new choreography - it takes away all my free time, not that I had that much to begin with. Always a few cons to go along with the pros, I guess! I just feel bad because the kids aren't getting the attention they used to, and now everything's going so fast, I don't want to miss out, you know? Not to mention the fact that I'm just plain BEAT at the end of the day. Speaking of which, I think I'm headed to bed now all. Perhaps I'll be on top of my game and post again in the near future? We shall see! XX00 -Em

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


I know, I know, I've neglected this blog terribly lately...SO much going on around here! We got back from an awesome vacation at the beach cabin last week, had a million projects going on around here, etc, etc, etc. I tend to leave my laptop (which is newer and faster than Justin's, and has all my photos stored on it) upstairs to use when I put the boys to bed, so whenever I'm downstairs poking around on the computer, I don't have access to my photos and stuff....a testimony to how lazy I really am, I guess. I can't even drag my sorry butt upstairs and get my laptop. ANYWAY, a beautiful Memorial day weekend. We spent it relaxing for once. No frantic last minute parade float to put together, no potlucks to cook for, no running late for any place...nice. We just wandered around town, watched the parade, enjoyed the festivities, ate bbq chicken, sat in the river... I'd better be careful, I could get used to this! No, this week it's back to normal life again, kicking it off with a rather late and harried arrival at school this morning, with a still half-asleep kid in tow. OK, heading out in the rain into town for groceries, since there is nothing to eat in the house. I'll possibly upload some recent pictures later this evening if I have time. Just wanted to let everyone know that all is well, life is good, summer is here and I'm a happy camper.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Northern New England Journey Cover

Check it! We're famous! Sort of.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


In my closet, a sizable Tupperware tote, crammed packed with little books...some cloth-bound with hot pink flowers, some striped, some rather plain and dignified. I started keeping a diary when I was seven, filling several a year until I hit my late-twenties and things started getting too busy to sit down with a pen...instead, my blog sort of turned into my journal. (At some point, I'll have to print out all these entries and stick them together to add to my collection.) From ages 8-10, approximately, I was obsessed with drawing maps in them, little diagrams of our property, marking out where the tree house, woodshed, cat's grave, well and swing set were located. And of course maps of everyone else's houses as well...I loved drawing my grandparent's house because I could map out the hidden passageway in their playroom. Ages 10-12 held mostly angry outbursts at my parents for making us move/live like pioneers/eventually start public school at age 13. 12-15 was full of lovestruck doodles and scotch-taped in memorabilia. 15-18 covered my trying to get out of one mess after an other. 18-20 weirdly half adult, half child, changes, impulsive behaviors, growing up. 20-22 included young married life, job complaints, badly written and incredibly boring. 22-26 The Search for who I am/where I belong. 27-32 Children...and I rarely write, although Eli has many, many sheets of paper with his important maps covering them...I suppose it's time for his own journal. I noticed that I used to start every blank book with a little synopsis of my life at that time, in list form, since I have always been a list-making freak. Name: Emily. Age: 13. Best friends, pets, favorite color, food, school subject, romantic interest, books, movies, songs, likes, dislikes, height, weight, greatest wish, biggest fear, etc, etc, etc. I kept this up through almost all my journals into adulthood, although the answers to my own created-at-nine-years-old, goofy questions got increasingly sarcastic as time passed. As it's been many years since my personal questionnaire has been filled in, I thought I would recreate the Life List, in it's original form, with today's answers.

Name: Emily

Age: (Must I?!?) 1977, you do the math

Best Friend: I would have to say Kendra, as I have for the last 20 years at least. (Although, once, I think she showed up in a brand new category called "People Who Are Jerks" Ha. Sorry Kay!)

Pets: Captain Burdock, the crazed Aussie/"Chug" that makes me want to eat my own brain once a day, and close to a dozen Aracauna chickens, depending on what the dog is doing right now...

Favorite Color: I love red.

Favorite Food: Strawberries, cheese, spinach salad, cheese, peppers, cheese...

Favorite School Subject: Well now, that one's a bit tricky... IF I was in school still, It might STILL be art or maybe History these days. I might even like GYM CLASS now. Shocker.

Boyfriend (Yes, even at 9): Ha. No comment. Kidding Dear.

Favorite Book: There are so many! Just reread Solar Storms, an old fav, but really I could never pick.

Favorite Movie: Hard to say, I'm terrible at picking, it changes so often, and my taste runs the gantlet. Anne Of Green Gables still tops my chart, nothing deep, but comforting and sweet. And you know...any cheesy dance flick...

Favorite Song: This is sort of like the book question. I can't even make a guess, Too wishy-washy and I love so many songs.

Likes: Summer, boats, dance, cameras, animals, clothes (sigh. I know, I KNOW.), skating, snowboarding, music, monotonous craft projects like quilting, avocados, satire, writing, beaches, road trips, oranges, checking out different people's toes, gnomes, Snickers, worthless knick-knacks, horrible jokes, curly hair, costumes, musty smelling basements, spicy food, kissing, (those last two, not in that exact order) salamanders, making lists, hiking, lemonade, babies, Reese's Pieces, absolutely any type of museum, stone walls, cowboy boots, holidays, tea, exploring, soccer, poetry, dark chocolate, red wine, lilacs, eggplant, the smell of hay, rocks, watching fire, boardwalks, hats, waterfalls, eye contact, very, very hot showers, peaches, asparagus, tire swings, pearls, stacking wood, piglets, wind-up toys, having my hair brushed, fly fishing without a hook, stained glass, Barbara Kingsolver, mis-matched socks, nostalgia, barns that have been turned into houses, trampolines, running, archery, beeswax, wool, air hockey, real hugs, ceilidhs, stilettos, crank powered flashlights, hot cereal, mysteries, wainscoting, old theatres, NPR, giant sunglasses, tequila, yard sales, cheesecake, family...

Dislikes: vomit, spiders, zits, talking on the phone (I have a wee phobia occasionally...possibly since I can't HEAR anything after the onslaught of children),fish, raw tomatoes, idiots, mushrooms, hospitals, fevers, being broke, more than three lanes on a highway, watching baseball (just kill me now), roller coasters, wasps, sushi, cookie dough, flying, heights, elevators, lap dogs with no personality, those hand-knit dolls that cover toilet paper, television, maple syrup, explosive substances, electric fences (terrified of these), ferrets, snobs, nettles, early mornings, plastic, Disney crap, washing dishes, clowns or mimes, Yatzee, granny panties, SUVs, whining, horoscopes, and....that's about it.

Height: Five foot two...been that way for awhile now

Weight: 105 (I only listed bra size once and then gave that up when it became obvious it wasn't ever changing.)

Biggest Wish: Do I go all World Peace here, or for myself? (In the past, this one fluctuated from general good wishes for all, to the selfish extreme of wishing for three more wishes, or having Someone fall in love with me.) I want my loved ones & myself to be healthy and happy.

Biggest Fear: I'm afraid of losing people...I hate to even write it.

So, there's the list. Of course other fabulous categories were added over time, here and there: Bra Size, People Who Are Jerks, Favorite Number(?), Favorite Place, Sports and People, but you get the gist of it. I love that I accidentally made these clear cut memories for myself, they are funny, yes, but also spot on. I can see a whole snapshot of Emily at 10 or 15, just by glancing over a page penned in fluorescent green ink, the I's dotted with little hearts.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Size Matters

After being reasonably active this winter, I thought I'd try on an old swimsuit or two, out of curiosity, before I sat down at the computer to start the grueling process of finding and ordering something that covered/smoothed all my jiggly-I've-had-babies bits. Pleasantly surprised, I'd like to say a big "SO THERE" to mother nature after cheating me out of a bikini for the last six years. Still have some serious stretch marks and a quite a few pounds left to drop if I wanted to get back to pre-baby shape, but I feel pretty darn good about myself at the moment. My legs ended up super strong & stocky from teaching dance, but I guess I just don't care anymore. I used to long for my willowy, dainty figure back, now I think I'm OK with this. There are many tween/teen girls taking my dance classes. If I obsessed about my weight, what kind of message would that send them? I want them to be fit, not sick. Normal bodies, in good health, are the perfect size, no matter what size that happens to be. I hate hearing twelve year old girls look in the studio mirrors and say, "Oh my God, my butt is HUGE!" If your butt is actually huge, like you pant when you walk, well, OK then, you need to get yourself healthy, but even if you are sizes bigger than the magazines suggest you ought to be, who cares? Those magazines take advantage of how insecure we all feel sometimes about our bodies...they are trying to sell clothing, and they make us think that if we buy a certain thing, it will transform us into a mysterious, bony siren who lounges around with dewy skin and smokey bedroom eyes. When I first looked in the mirror today, I was reminded of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books that I've been reading to the boys lately...Pa calls Laura a "little French horse". (For those not familiar with equine conformation, they are particularly small, stocky and powerful beasties.) That's okeydokey. I can do more with strength than I can with a so-called "perfect" body. The only thing being skinny-skinny is good for is creepy fashion trends. Dudes, you might as well walk a coat hanger down the runway, it's practically the same effect. Sorry to sound preachy, it's just really out-of control, people literally killing themselves because they feel they don't look "right". We all need to stop wasting precious time worrying about our body, one shot at living folks, and in the end, inches on your waist and thighs mean nothing. I don't know anyone who would stop loving me if I wasn't thin, and I don't want to. Those two enormous, darling kidlets came from this body... what a totally amazing, freakish, and beautiful concept life is.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I'm about to start dancing five days a week, which is a big change around longer can I say it's "just something I do on the side", it'll be the real deal. I couldn't sleep last night and I was thinking about what started all this. I was eight or nine, I guess, and my parents had taken us to a regional home-schooler's meeting. These were usually held in the dingy basement of a local Legion Hall. Families came from all over the area to talk about the ups and downs of schooling children at home, trade books, swap teaching tactics, and get some social time for their somewhat socially inept (yes, me) children. Also during these meetings, kids could casually perform on the tiny stage with it's sagging plywood wheelchair ramp. In between parental discussion, there was a never-ending stream of singing, piano playing and poetry recitation. I remember (now famous author) Frank Asch and his son, Devin, demonstrating the colorful kites they had built, flying high in the strong spring wind. Mostly, as the children warbled folk songs, the adults would continue to sip their coffee and chat, feigning interest, and clapping blandly at the end. When it was my turn to dance, I recall feeling completely disgruntled that my mother insisted my two, small, bumbling sisters would join me on stage. But as soon as she set the needle down on that scratchy Tchaikovsky record, one that I'd played a thousand times before, I forgot everything else. Nothing choreographed, I just danced. Ignoring the Ballet lessons and recitals, where I always got cast as the rag doll or the teddy bear, I think my eyes were closed for most of it. How I managed to stay on that tiny stage and avoid my sisters, I'll never know. I felt something else coming through me. The music slipping inside me and moving my limbs the way it wanted. In the tutu my grandmother made me, so faded, it's once blue tulle now a grubby grey, I was wonderful. I knew it. I tried things I'd never tried before, and they blessedly happened. At the end, I pirouetted perfectly and slid into a graceful split (which I normally couldn't do, I forced myself, and it hurt, but it didn't matter in the least, because that's what the music asked for). There was the cliched moment of dead silence before true applause. I don't know if they really thought I was good, or if they just recognized that I loved what I was doing. Perhaps it was my wee, adorable sisters who captivated them, or simply politeness towards my parents who hosted the event, or maybe my dad, clapping six times harder than is possible, but for whatever reason, the clapping was long and loud. I slowly came back to myself, disappointed that it was over and I had returned to being me. It's funny, I've never felt exactly that way since. Never quite wholly lost myself in the dance again, but the sensation was so strong, I've danced my whole life searching for it. To make my body as much a part of the music as one of the instruments themselves. Even being close, just for a moment, is enough for me. There must have been magic in the dim light from pea-green curtained windows, the stale smell of dust, and a hundred corned-beef and cabbage community suppers. I love to dance. I am not a great dancer, no, and I never will be. But I am GOOD, and I love it. More than that, I love to make other people love it, people who could be GREAT. And I get to eat whatever I want, a perk not usually afforded a mother of two nearing her mid 30's! Yee haw! It's an easy job, but somebody's got to do it.