April 30, 2009

Golden Bells of Spring

Forsythia is known as the bright harbinger of spring because it bursts into color just a tad sooner than the rest of the bloomers. I never noticed it in California, but I guess one tends to notice these things more when the countryside looks like a black and white photograph for five months of the year.
New Englanders must feel the same desperation for an end-of-winter sighting that I felt this year because these shrubbies are everywhere!
By the time we arrived last June all of the blooms must have gone because I don't remember seeing them. I hear they are sort of the Marilyn Monroe of flowers, but I'm thinking they may make a cheerful border between us and our neighbor's pile of leaves.
And, speaking of leaves, I have to say that Frog Mama was right. This week Buckaroo and I started our daily walk to visit the horses again, something we haven't done since our days with Blue, and today I realized there are leaves on the trees-- and they are green! They are few and far between, but they're there. It seems to have happened miraculously during the night.
Also, there's something satisfying about jumping in a lake fully clothed. It feels reckless-- even if one has a dresser full of dry clothes in a house only 200 feet away. So, on Monday that's just what I did.

April 24, 2009

The Road from Here to There

Is lined with maples. I didn't recognize them in their springy state, though, or I didn't realize that maples do a funny bloomy thing in the spring. The drive from the cape to New York was a blur of red blooms. This photo was taken as we whizzed through Connecticut where the trees are whole.
I didn't know that branches will continue to do their branchy thing even if they are mostly disconnected from the trunk.
Buckaroo and I walked up our back hill. He calls it the mountain. It's a tangle of falling, blossoming branches, broken from the ice storm. I think there may be a poem in that.
And in poetry news: Received two rejection letters this week for my tired little manuscript. One letter had a personal note attached in which the editor said that she was smitten with one of my poems. I'm beginning to think I should just give up on this whole getting published business, spend more time watching TV.
Ah, well. Here's a tidbit from our whirlwind trip: On the way home from New York, Sweet P would ask every so often, "Where are we?" I'm ok with this. It's "How much farther?" that makes me claw at the windows. As we drew closer to home, though, Sweet P asked more and more often. Finally, after her last, "Where are we?" Buckaroo shouted, "We're in the car!"

April 17, 2009

At Last

My spring has come along. Now my chilly days are over, and life is like a song.
I've had that little ditty stuck in my head all day, with my twist on the lyrics.
There is green sprouting in our back yard, as evidenced by the photo above. A few days ago R and I took Buckaroo for a ride down the road on his new trike, and when we stopped to throw rocks over the dam I noticed that there's new growth on the trees: not leaves, but new sections of skinny, deep red branch tips shooting from the gray. It made me giddy.
I've been examining the trees for any indication of leafing, but I haven't seen anything yet. I'm not worried. My friend Frog Mama says it happens instantaneously, and I believe her because it seems like that's what happened with the snow's disappearance. One day it was just gone, and in its place were rocks and dead leaves and dirt and yellow grass. It's supposed to rain this weekend, and I hope that turns the grass green, and then I hope it stops raining-- don't get me wrong, I don't want drought, just a spell of really fabulous weather-- because I'm starting to feel that the weather this summer is going to make or break this whole New England adventure.
In Buckaroo news: I'm beginning to suspect (and I know I could have been institutionalized for this in another era) that he's having conversations with Grandpa Marty. I'm thinking this partly because it's what Buckaroo himself has told me, and partly because that whole "Papa Gary loves Grandpa Marty best of all" line is exactly the kind of joke my dad would have made. I could just hear his booming laughter at the look on my face when Buckaroo said those words.
In Sweet P news: The girl finally broke down and bought herself a new iPod, and we are all much happier for it. Shew! Today was the last day of school before her very-mini spring break, and she is currently curled up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and a good book. That's my girl.
Tomorrow we are off to the cape and then NYC, so I may not have a chance to do any bloggity blogging while we're away, but before I sign off I have to announce that this Monday we will be celebrating our first Patriot's Day. I didn't even know there was such a thing, but it turns out it's a holiday for Mass and Maine. Woo Hoo! I wonder if we'll be allowed to shoot muskets in honor of our cantankerous forefathers (and foremothers)-- bless their souls.
Ok, send all of your sunny weather energy this way!

April 15, 2009

Bird Memories


April 11, 2009

Discovering the River Rats

It was a bit frigid today, but that didn't stop us from hanging out with the river rats.
The River Rat Race is a five-mile canoe race down Miller's River from Athol to Orange. There are the serious get-your-paddle-outta-my-way canoers, and then there are the paddling seven dwarf types (actually, there were only two dwarves, but it would be hard to fit all seven in one boat).
I don't know when this photo was taken -- it's borrowed-- but it was much sunnier that day than it was today. In fact, I don't think I saw a spot of sunshine out there. Luckily our new friends, Green Mama and family, had a toasty barrel fire, and I ventured away from it only long enough to watch the canoes whiz by us. Plus, the fire was near the food, and the food was delicioso (clam chowder from heaven), so there was really no reason to go anywhere.
Those rats were having so much fun, though, I almost wanted to join them. I'm thinking July might be a better time for me, though. I have been know to fall out of a boat.

April 10, 2009

The Whole of the Moon

I hope there's a heaven. I really do. I just don't believe that there's a heaven, and it makes conversations about death (and death in general) really challenging. When Blue died I really wasn't ready to have the death conversation with a not-quite-two-year-old, but Buckaroo kept asking about his doggie friend, so I looked up how to talk about death with toddlers online, and one article said, "Just be matter of fact and don't give more information than is asked."

So I told Buckaroo that Blue had been sick, and his body stopped working. It would be so much easier if I could say, "Blue's in heaven, Sweetie. He's happy there." Buckaroo said, "Blue needs medicine! He needs to go to the doctor," and I explained that usually sick dogs go to the doctor and get medicine, but it didn't work for Blue. Finally, I got out the words, "Blue died. I don't know where he is now."

We have this conversation every few days, and it always starts with, "Where's Blue?"

Today Buckaroo surprised me by asking, "Where's Grandpa Marty?" He's never asked about Grandpa Marty before. My dad's birthday was this week, and I felt like Buckaroo was reading my mind. They were never able to meet, and Buckaroo was only two months old when my dad died. I started the death dance again. "Grandpa Marty's body stopped working," I said.

I thought I should probably leave out the car crash details. I was driving during this conversation, trying to keep my eyes on the road.

"Grandpa Marty needs medicine," he said.
"Medicine didn't help Grandpa Marty; usually it does, but it didn't help this time."
"Grandpa Marty died like Blue," he stated. For some reason I had avoided making that connection for him.
"Yes," I said. "And we love Grandpa Marty wherever he is."
I feel like he's close to us, but I don't know how to explain that to Buckaroo.
"Papa Gary loves Grandpa Marty best of all!" Buckaroo shouted exuberantly.
"Really?" I asked, a little bewildered.

Papa Gary is my step-dad, and "loves Grandpa Marty best of all" are not the words I would use to describe his relationship with my dad while he was alive, but maybe Buckaroo knows more about the workings of the universe than I do.

Buckaroo then shouted, "There's a tractor!" and that was the end of the conversation. Then Peter Mulvey's version of "The Whole of the Moon" started playing. It's another song that reminds me of my dad:

I pictured a rainbow
You held in your hands
I had flashes
But you saw the plan
I wondered out in the world for years
While you just stayed in your room
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon
The whole of the moon
You were there at the turnstiles
With the wind at your heels
You stretched for the stars
And you know how it feels
To reach too high
Too far
Too soon
You saw the whole of the moon
I was grounded
While you filled the skies
I was dumbfounded by the truth
You saw through the lie
I saw the rain-dirty valley
You saw brigadoon
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon
I spoke about wings
You just flew
I wondered, I guessed, and I tried
You just knew
I sighed
But you swooned
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon
The whole of the moon
With a torch in your pocket
And the wind at your heels
You climbed on the ladder
And you know how it feels
To reach too high
Too far
Too soon
You saw the whole of the moon
The whole of the moon
Unicorns and cannonballs,
Palaces and piers,
Trumpets, towers, and tenemets,
Wide oceans full of tears,
Flag, rags, ferry boats,
Scimitars and scarves,
Every precious dream and vision
Underneath the stars
You climbed on the ladder
With the wind in your sails
You came like a comet
Blazing your trail
Too high
Too far
Too soon
You saw the whole of the moon

April 9, 2009

A Menagerie of Sorts, Including the Tooth Gremlin

Here's a random list of happenings in The Woods:
! You've heard of the Tooth Fairy, but do you know about her mythical evil twin, the Tooth Gremlin? This is the vile creature who grows toddler teeth, inducing much slobber, finger chewing, and 3 a.m. thrashings-- and on Buckaroo's birthday, too.
! We may have found an optometrist who will provide Sweet P with contact lenses at the crazy age of 13. Also, appointments with the orthodontist to be made.
! Sweet P will be enjoying Greek Day at school. She's providing the olives.
! This weekend we are all attending something called the River Rat race in Athol. Will follow with more details as they become clear. I hope there's no swimming involved.
! Next weekend we are off to The Cape and hoping it will be a bit sunnier than the last time. I'm excited about my first visit to visit P-Town. It's unclear whether or not Sweet P will join us in the big elf shoe. She may or may not have been invited for a mini-break with a friend from school that same weekend.
! The following week R has client in New York. That's right, the Big Apple. Is it only tourists who call it that? Like Frisco? In any case, I'm pulling out all of my bargaining chips to score a ride-along.
! We had some major stinky plumbing problemos this week (I'll spare you details), so we're thinking a new septic system is working its way to the top of our To-Do list.
! Also nearing the top of the To-Dos is the yard. R's dad knows a guy (actually, he knows everybody) who will scoop away the dreaded rocks for us so we can plant a couple patches of grass and flower-up the side-yards. Then we're going to have some sand delivered for the beach, put up a gazebo-y thing down there, just in time to do some serious marshmallow roasting this summer.
! R still loves his job, and oddly it's turning out that the farther afield he works, the earlier he returns. Today he worked on the cape and was home by 5 o'clock. Ta da. I still like the days he works from home best of all.
! I am seriously researching used bookstore ownership. The only glitch is that most used bookstores make about 40% of their sales online. I would have to hire a special online sales person because I am wretched about getting myself to a post box. I have excellent intentions, but always get lost somewhere between buying the postage and sealing the envelope. Maybe I was Bartelby the Scrivener in a past life. He's been on my mind a lot lately. Is it possible to be a fictional character in a past life?
! Oh, and Obo. He's landed himself a job bussing tables in a pub (when I was little someone I knew got a job bussing tables, but I thought she was busting tables and couldn't understand why someone would be hired to do such a thing). So now Obo is swimming in the dough. He'll be swimming in the lake with us this summer.
Will you?

April 8, 2009

Egg a-Hunting We Did Go

Buckaroo did his first real egg hunting today. We skipped over to the house of our friends Finn Mama and Finn Girl where we met up with other egg connoisseurs. The kids all decorated paper bags while Frog Mama and Finn Mama hid the treasure, and then we sent the little ones into the wilderness to find the loot. It's not really wilderness, as you can probably tell from the white picket fence in the photo.
It was good practice for the real deal on Sunday. I'm not sure how the Easter Bunny is going to hide those eggs in the rocks. Buckaroo might be hunting for egg salad.
Later, it snowed. Just itty bitty flakes, but snow none-the-less. I mean, really. Enough already.
In Sweet P news: The girl has new dance pants (and they are about as itty bitty as those snow flakes I mentioned) and is very excited about her recital next month. We are not quite as excited as it runs four hours long, and Sweet P's dance is at the very end. Still, she looks awfully cute shakin' her tail feathers.
Oh, and today Sweet P informed me that the word hip is very dorky. I can still say cool, though.

April 7, 2009

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

Don't know actually. I often think of the line from that "Sunscreen" song-- you know, the one that's always overplayed during graduation season: "The most interesting people I know didn't know at twenty-two what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting forty-year-olds I know still don't."

Am I that interesting? I have, in fact, been told more than once that I'm quite boring, but I still don't know what I want to do with my life.

Well, that's not exactly true. I always knew I wanted to be a poet, so I guess I just can't decide about the day job. My latest idea-r (that's Mass speak for idea) is to become a librarian, and there happens to be a college for librarians just down the road-- Ok, so it's in Boston.

And in support of my local libraries, I would like everyone to know (if you don't already) that our local libraries are all interconnected, so one may request a book online from any one of the libraries and pick it up at the nearest location. It is the coolest thing: http://cmars.cwmars.org/

They may become a bit annoyed if, like me, you borrow a book on cd from afar and then return it one cd short. However, annoyed as they may be, they still let me request more books online! Ah, I lurve the library!

The Ashburnham library does not participate in the loaning system, but Ashburnham residents can participate through another local library (Gardner, Ashby, Westminster, etc.). Although, watch out for that Gardner library director. She bites.

R is not as excited about this career scheme as I am, though, and says he'd rather I open a used bookstore. I've always wanted to sell used books while my cat (Mr. Darcy will be his name) sleeps on the counter. Well, mostly I just want to the read books, and after doing a bit of research it seems that there is a fair amount of work involved in owning a used bookstore, schlepping books and all that. Sheesh.

Owning a business scares the bartelbies out of me for some reason. It seems as monumental as marriage. I guess I'll stick with poetry for now and keep ya'll posted as the epiphanies appear.
In a completely unrelated note: We heard frogs singing-- I swear they were singing-- in the woods the other night, and R's mom said it means spring has truly arrived.

April 5, 2009

The Birthday Buckaroo

If you ask Buckaroo how old he's going to be on his birthday, he holds up five fingers and says, "Two!" with much enthusiasm. If you ask him what he'd like for a present he shouts, "Cake!" Good thing he's wheatable now.

Yesterday we had a tiny party for our little guy, and then today we left him with the FMF and headed out to Boston for the day (Sweet P was already there visiting her dad).

R and I had lunch at wagamama. It's a noodle bar. Yum. Then we made a slow sunny circle through Boston Common where we heard the buskers, saw people walking their dogs, their babies, their brooms (R was baffled by that last one), watched the soccer boys and the frisbee hippies, listened to dozens of conversations in a plethora of languages all under a joyously blue sky. We even saw sprouting bulbs! Such fabulousness.

In the afternoon we scooped up Sweet P from the Omni Hotel and headed home. She spent the weekend walking the Freedom Trail and watching oodles of television with her dad. I think it was just what she needed, too.

April 2, 2009

Motorcycles are Everywhere

I know motorcycle safety is very important, but for some reason this ad campaign just cracks me up. Everywhere? Falling from the sky? Sliding out of my ears?
I realized that in Massachusetts (and other frosty places) the motorcycles are really only everywhere half of the year, or less. I could see how drivers might forget that the two-wheeled jobbies exist.
You know what else doesn't exist in Massachusetts, any time of the year? See's Candies. So now all the Californians reading this know what to send me for every gift-giving occasion.