December 31, 2010

Family Phrases of 2010

I feel obliged to join in the end of the year summing up, so here are our most oft repeated phrases of 2010 (I'll leave it to you to figure out whom said which):

"Did you lose the mail?"

"Please put your flat iron away."

"Come wipe my tushie!"

"Did you see on Facebook . . ."

"Come say your thankfuls."

"Please keep your saliva in your mouth."

"Who tooted?"

"Have you washed my jeans?"

"Do I have preschool today?"

"Did you know that bees. . . "

"I want you to wake up now!"

"She needs a walk."

"I'm not going to play with you ever again!"

"Did you hear that podcast where. . ."

"It's a rainy day; can we go to Chuck E. Cheese?"

"Leave it!"

"Can I get dressed and watch a show?"

"Where are you working tomorrow?"

"The library books are overdue."

"Is that your big boy voice?"

"Are we going no where today?"

"It's another rejection."

"Two minutes, and then it's someone else's turn."

"When I'm a parent, I'll never . . . "

"Please take your finger out of your nose."

"Has anyone fed the dog?"

"I need privacy!"

"Ooh, can we do a trade?"

"How do you ask politely?"

"Add it to the list."

"I found a mushroom!"

"I'm going to count to three, and then what's going to happen?"

What are yours?

December 27, 2010

Christmas Eve Enlightenment

Here's a little Christmas posty I wrote for First Parish in Fitchburg. Merry Happy, one and all!

Snow Trip

The lake is frozen, which I will always find baffling, but as all the neighbors were skating away joyfully out there I could hardly refuse to allow the children their slide across the ice. We trekked to the islands yesterday just before the blizzard was upon us. I didn't last long in the frost, even with my several layers.

Self-Portrait with Ice

I blurred out Buckaroo's boogy nose and eyes. He's battling quite the goopy cold this week, but it doesn't slow him down a whit.

Sweet P claims that her glasses crack and snap in the winter weather.

A blurry Bella and her new seasonal buddy from across the way. I guess that's a poor weather friend as they won't be able to romp together after the spring melt.

R and a somewhat miserable Sweetest P. In fact, she's pouting right now after asking for a birthday trip to Hawaii. She likes to cry in Lydia Bennet-like fashion: "I want to go to Brighton!" Fun times for all.

Perhaps a snippet of Pride and Prejudice would improve her mood on this whitest of white days.

December 26, 2010

Letter Home #1

I began this blog as a way to keep our California peeps up to date with all the news from The Woods, and I've been remiss in that endeavor of late. So here's the latest and greatest from the Fish Head family:

R fears he's become the guy who talks obsessively about one subject; namely, bees. Yet, he can't help himself because bees are so darn fascinating. He did read, however, that a beekeeper is stung regularly despite the fancy suit and hat, and oddly enough, R has the most incredible fear of being stung, so he's somewhat discouraged but plans to soldier on with his apiary dreams. He's been told that an electric fence is necessary to protect the hives from bears, so that's on our list of items to purchase. Ooh, maybe we can find one on Freecycle!

Sweet P organized a skating party and invited nine girls from school to attend on New Year's Day. We're very pleased to see her leaping over the social hurdle of shyness. I even had to ask her recently to stop texting during dinner.

She's leaping over horse hurdles as well-- actually, the horse leaps, and she hangs on-- riding bare back-- a bit painful, I'm told-- and is about to hit the slopes for ski lessons. I hope her first ski experience is better than mine; that's a story for another day. But why must skiing be so expensive?

Buckaroo continues merrily at preschool two mornings a week. He's learned to spell his name in a sing-song way that R taught him. In fact he's full of singsong these days. He's also full of feist, regularly shouting "I can do whatever I want!" or "I'm not going to play with you ever again!" Where does he learn these ornery quips? His mood is improved tenfold with a bit of snowplay; unfortunately, I have not grown a deep and enduring love of winter as I'd once hoped I would, so Buckaroo is often trapped in the snowless indoors.

And me? I've been somewhat lethargic since Frog Mama moved away. She was my walking buddy, and later my gym buddy, and without her I lost the drive to exercise. Exercising alone is, well, lonely. Poor Bella Dog is suffering from the lack of a daily walk, but did I mention the chilly weather? It's no help.

My body, though, tells me it's time to get back to it, Frog Mama or no, so today the lot of us hiked across the ice to the islands, and Bella frolicked with a spaniel from the other side. Later, the children and I yoga-ed ourselves silly. Buckaroo provided most of the silly. It's a start anyway.

I've wallowed in the mire with my writing as well, and it's time to grab the branch of a nearby tree and pull myself out of the muck. I'm still in search of a branch at this point, but I'm instituting a "Facebook Fridays" policy for myself in the new year-- meaning I'm only allowed to visit Facebook on Fridays. My hope is that without the FB time suck I'll have a plethora of time in which to be creative, to see the forest of branches before me. I dare to dream!

Mary Oliver said at the Wellesley reading, "The angel won't sit on your shoulder unless the pencil is in your hand." The problem is that my pencil (keyboard) is attached to the internet, where I find so many ways to be diverted. No matter. There's always right now.

December 21, 2010


The latest issue of Prick of the Spindle is up! Check out my review of Alexandria Ashford's Danke Schoen.

December 19, 2010


I know this looks like a photo of Buckaroo making the "naah naah nah naah naah" face, but he's actually showing me his cobra yoga pose. And that boy can downward dog like nobody's business.

December 11, 2010

Brattleboro Boogie

My dad was the king of the road trip, and so I guess that makes me Princess Road Trip. R did not always share my fondness for a long car ride with scowly-faced children and Raffi radio. I can't think why.

But now that's all changed because R wants to visit the farms, and today we drove all the way to Brattleboro Vermont to see a man about a pepper-- in fact a whole pack of peppers. While we were there we picked up some yogurt, eggs, and bread, too. Can you say yum? Buckaroo chased a few chickens, and I realized that my childhood smelled like a chicken coop. R says when we have hens of our own I'll feel like a spring chicken every day. Lucky me.

We scooted downtown to check out the farmer's market, too. The farmer's market is the place for me. There were so many good things from which to choose we had to have ourselves a spot of lunch and ponder it all. While we were in line for lunch a very well-dressed baby futzed with my hair, and then we enjoyed a mozzarella sammy with hot chai in a room overlooking the river. Buckaroo gobbled his snickerdoodle but didn't make googly eyes at the baby. He isn't crazy about babies these days and tends to shout, "Babies don't share their balls with me!" whenever we see a wee sprite. He's an odd little duck, but he's ours.

We hustled back to The Woods because I had a poetry call to make, but the trip allowed us to finish listening toFrom the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler , which made for big conversation, and I made some serious progress on a little scarf thing I'm knitting.

December 6, 2010

My Honey Loves Him Some Honey

R fell in love with the bees. I'm not sure when it happened. His interests have roamed through mushroom growing, cider brewing, chainsaw wielding, egg laying, gourd drumming, and bulb planting. He's not flighty, as he's still interested in all of these activities and has them in the works as well, but he's suddenly become an apprentice bee keeper.

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about the plan R and I had to keep bees in The Woods. (Have I really been blogging that long? Time is a free fall.) Here's that post if you're interested.

When we arrived in The Woods it became clear that we really didn't want to attract bears to our abode -- especially after reading Steinbeck's Travels with Charley in which Charley the Dog goes psycho over a bear. We'd like to keep our Bella Dog sane and alive-- so we put off the idear (that's New England speak).

Recently, though, R went out for a beer with a couple of local farmer friends (how rural that sounds!) and they each offered to let him tend bees on their properties. R came home breathless with excitement and plunged into research mode.

It's amazing what one can learn by watching a few Youtube videos. Of course R is no fool, and isn't willing to sacrifice a whole colony of bees while he's trekking up a steep learning curve, so he found a couple of local bee keepers who are giving him pointers, and one of them offered to let him apprentice.

If you want to hear more about the life of a bee, you'll have to talk to R, but here's what I learned: We can't really trust those honey labels in the stores because the whole certification process is suspect, and bees can buzz miles away from the hive; there's just no controlling their wanderlust. What apiarists can control, though, is whether or not they spray pesticide directly on the bees.

Sounds crazy, doesn't it-- especially because so many people consider the bee itself a pest (not me, though, I am most reverent). But pesticide happens. R explained it like this: The apiarist wants to collect as much honey as possible, so he (or she) might give the bees larger cells in which to create more honey, but the larger cells attract more bee mites which kill the bees, so the apiarist might spray the bees with pesticide to keep the mites away.


And it looks like the only way to know whether or not your honey was created by a pesticide-laden bee is to buy it locally and ask. Hey, in the spring we might be your local source! I'll keep ya posted. In the meantime, you might find some here.