Sunday, April 28, 2013

buds, rocks, geese on the nest

It’s been hectic lately – I’ve been making weekly trips up to Vermont to get the last of the stuff out of the house before the tenants move in. I hate moving; I hate how the end stages take f-o-r-e-v-e-r. I hate the part where you’re staring bewildered at a tangled collection of cables and patch cords and ancient digital answering machines and landline phones and cordless phones, wondering, “am I EVER going to use this?” I hate the part when you hesitate to throw out any keys – never mind the fact that you’ve checked, and they don’t fit any locks in the house – because you never know.

That said, I’m well and truly down to the last load, I SWEAR. Which come hell or high water, will happen this week. Except for all the crap in the garage. That’s going to take a dumpster, and unfortunately (due to Kevin’s upcoming work travel) it won’t happen til after the tenants move in. Sorry, guys!

As I type this, I can see the neighbors’ lamb triplets cavorting in the pasture. If you’ve never seen lambs playing, it is a trip – suddenly, you realize where the phrase “kick up your heels” comes from. Our neighbors called us over when they were being born a couple of weeks ago – we arrived shortly after #2 showed up, and watched #3 being born. (And, bonus, Kevin got to name one, and I got to name another. His is “Constance” and mine is “Mo”.) They’re all black, with varying amounts of white on their faces. Cute as can be.

Where was I. If lambs are being born, it must be spring.


That’s better. Trees are budding left and right, and I’m (sob!) focused on other things – so I greet them when and where I can. I tell them, “I see you!” and take mental snapshots. This past weekend, I took a solo spin up to Maine to visit a friend who’s moving to Ithaca soon, and at the last minute I remembered to bring the camera.


Speckled alder.



My friend and her family have been renting a place just a few hundred yards from the ocean, and we went on three separate excursions to four different beaches/rocky coastline areas to investigate. For someone who is still unpacking shoeboxes labeled “rocks”, a trip to the Maine coastline – covered as it is in gorgeous striped and mottled round beauties – is like waving a crack pipe in front of someone in rehab. I managed to exercise restraint, for the most part. I had to have this one, for obvious reasons:


A stripy rock, sure – but do you see the FAULT LINE IN IT???? How cool is that?


Didn’t bring home this one – the seaweed would just flake off.

I got back to CT early this afternoon, and shortly thereafter, Kevin and I headed out in the kayaks – our first foray down here.


This is a third of a mile (as the crow flies) from our house. Not half bad. Except for the part where we got lost and couldn’t find our way back to our starting point.  This is on a dammed river, and there are several islands and deep coves, and we chose to come back a different way than we’d headed out, so it’s no wonder we wound up in adventure territory.


That’s a Canada goose on her (?) nest, laying low and pretending that if she can’t see us, we can’t see her. We saw another nest a little while later, similarly guarded AND patrolled by the mate, as we bumbled around in various coves trying to find our way back to the put-in. It was funny to be so lost, while we could literally see the solar panels on our neighbor’s roof.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

what side of the window are you on?

On one side of the window:


On the other side of the window:


Mr. House Finch (that’s the window screen you’re seeing).

And, Mrs House Finch:


The cats are settling in. They’re not allowed outside yet – they need to know, well and truly, that we live here now. And even so...I hear there are coyotes around. Gulp. Oh, and there are a ton of birds right outside, and I kinda want to give them a fighting chance, which might mean keeping Felinicus Beasties inside for a bit.

It’s been a blur of unpacking – there have been a couple of trips back up to Vermont to pick up stuff and work at my two jobs (two jobs? how the hell did that happen?). Yesterday I was super cranky, so today I headed outside a couple of times.

There’s not much to report on the immediate environs. There are some daffodils in a clearing out beyond the back yard.


I’ve been befriending them by removing the oak leaves they’re impaling.


There’s a boulder with some lichen.


That’s...about it. I’m sure if I keep staring at it, more stuff will show up. That’s generally how it works.


We do have some violets (I assume – the field guide’s buried in a box somewhere) growing in the front steps.

I also checked out a local park – within walking distance, but I wasn’t sure of that at the time, so I drove.


A stream in the woods. Ahhhh...OK, I can deal with this. Species composition a bit different from my usual haunts – way more oak than I’m used to, plus some yellow birch, hop hornbeam, musclewood, beech (including some biggies, so that’s cool), and shagbark hickory.

And these amazing creatures. Again: no field guide – I’m thinking, skunk cabbage?



No way. Wow.

The most bleached-out beech leaves I can recall:


It was during this exploration that I felt something on my belly – investigation revealed a friggin’ tick. Jeez louise. I pulled it off – it had only JUST started digging in. I fondled the rest of my body there in the woods (a most scandalous sight, I’m sure.) I checked myself out when I got home, too. But a couple of hours later, sitting at the island in the kitchen reading the internet, I felt something in my bellybutton. Goddamn. A deeply burrowed in tick.

I ransacked our bathroom looking for our tweezers, with no luck. Kevin wasn’t back from work yet, so I called our neighbor – howdy, neighbor! more on them later, they’re cool – and she had a go at it with her tweezers. She was able to extract...most of it. Just then, Kevin got in from work, and we took a spin down to the ER, just a few miles away.


not the first time we’ve seen a hospital band on this blog.

A lot of paperwork later, I emerged more-or-less tick free. Warm compresses three times a day, neosporin, any remaining body parts should surface. It was a honkin’ huge tick, so probably not the evil dread kind.

In the meantime.



I think Patton Oswalt said it best (except for the reference to insects), so I’m just going to quote him:

Boston. Fucking horrible.

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."

But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."

That’s the side I want to be on. The side of love, delight, hope, and laughter.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

ode to dave

It’s my last night here. Tomorrow I’m taking Charlie and Maggie, and as much of the remaining stuff I can squash into the Escape, down to Connecticut. I’ll get there when there’s still daylight, but Kevin won’t be home til close to midnight: he’s at a conference in Chicago.

It’s so easy to ramble around in my head, in this nearly empty house, and obsess over what to take with me tomorrow. Or to get lost in reading the internet. After a month of frantically packing (and working), and not spending any time outside with the camera, I need to make myself sit still and feel my feelings: I will miss this place. I am looking forward to what life is bringing us, but that is the subject of a different post. It’s my last “official” night here. I just want to...write an Ode to Dave.

Dave – this house, this 10 acres of woods and beaver pond – is home. The first time I ever came here was in the spring of 2006. Kevin and I had just started courtin’ for real. We stood in the kitchen, looking out the windows. He cuddled me from behind and said, “welcome to your kitchen!”. And just like that, I was home.


(Kitchen as it looked a few years later, after an IKEA remodel.)

We got married that summer, in the yard.


It was a come-as-you affair, very informal. We had a tent, and folding chairs in the lawn for the ceremony. You carried your own chair to a table. My best friend (and maid of honor)’s do-it-yourself toenail painting enterprise was a main source of entertainment.

100_0418 was the traditional Ring of Fire dance.


I can’t possibly attempt to convey all the changes that have occurred in me, and in dave – not to mention in me-and-dave – since then.

No, I’m wrong: I can convey that, that’s what this whole blog has been about.

A normal person would insert a series of representative photos here, recapping the last few years of the inner and outer transformations, but I’m just not up to it. I’ll just say this: Living here has been the first time, since I was a little kid, that I let myself completely ground to a place that I was actually living in year-round.

As I wind things down here, stripping the place bare and sleeping on the couch in the living room, I am reminded of moving here full-time in the spring of 2007. Michele visited, and we all three crashed on the living room floor.

Moving In! 003

May 7, 2007. Michele on the left on the futon, Kevin on the right. This is pre-addition.

Getting ready for this move has been intense, and it’s also been cold.  I haven’t taken the time to go out with the camera. I know: spiritual suicide. But today I gritted my teeth and had a look around.


The first crocus. Hey, buddy!

Well, it’s late. I have a lot to do, and I need my rest. I will fall asleep on the couch, gazing out at the stars over the ridge. Tomorrow night I will finally be with my love, after a month apart. And that, my friends: that is home.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

um, I need some WD-40.

Where to even begin. The beginning? When was that? Where am I? Still in Vermont. But only for another day: I am driving down to Connecticut on Friday afternoon, with the cats. It’s been so long since I’ve posted – more than a month? I feel like my brain and my fingers are rusty. I might not even post a link to this on Facebook, I might just dip my toes in the wading pool here and blather pointlessly all by myself in my little corner of the internet.

Since our return from Kenya/Tanzania, I’ve been mostly focused on getting ready for the move. Kevin started his new job the week after we got back, so he’s been camped out at the house we’re renting down there, slowly reverting to a feral bachelor. I didn’t go with him because we had a long-standing plan to spend a week on the beach in South Carolina for a epic family reunion at the end of March, and we didn’t want to move the cats to Connecticut only to leave them for a week.

So after Kevin had been in his new job for a week, the movers came for most of the furniture and assorted whatnot up here. Then it was my turn to revert to a feral bachelor: I’ve been sleeping on the living room couch cause the bed’s gone (and we’re leaving this couch here). 

In the face of so much upheaval (me! Princess Groundy Pants! Moving! What the hell!) I really wanted to just experience the time with family, and not attempt to photograph much. So even though I brought all my gear, I wound up just snapping literally hundreds of blurry candids on my cell phone.


A bunch of us did a great five mile run on the beach. That’s my sister-in-law, my cousin, my other cousin, her husband, and my other other cousin’s wife. My brother is out of sight in the background nursing a popped ankle, which fixed itself, and he rejoined us later.

There was a whole lot of random togetherness.



I grew up hanging with my cousins – there are five families involved, as my mom’s the oldest of five – for a couple of weeks every summer for My Whole Life, and watching their kids get to know each other (which as we all know is best experienced by squashing one another on the couch) was immeasurably cool.


I had many conversations explaining the difference between first cousins, second cousins, and first cousins once removed to various folks of all ages.

This dude here? Such a treat to watch him be A Dad.


The highlight of the week was the dispersal of my grandparents’ ashes. My grandfather died back in ‘97, and my grandmother, last August, and the whole point of this reunion was to return them to the scene of so many happy family memories. The process involved many pails of their ashes, mixed with sand, sea water, and gin.

OK, there, I wrote a blog post. C-r-e-a-a-a-k. Rusty as hell.