Tuesday, September 07, 2004

l337speak Chic  

Pouring my vocational energies into developing the perfect reality-cracking mindset for the new library information commons the past days, most joyfully through the mentorship of a new band of workjob students. We've already got a livejournal going -- their idea, and their work setting it up -- and a virtual conference space for discourse, wherein I continue to remind them that we're not technicians but information coordinators and literacy teachers, and try to engender a service model of proactive humility.

Great stuff; great kids. Their eagerness to help discover what it is we all do reinvigorates me.

In thinking about how to describe our role, today's threaded discussion about possible nametag phrases produced the following tongue-in-geekchic possibilities:
  • Ask me -- I'm smarter than you!

  • Ask me! I'm experienced and suave!

  • Ask me -- I'm l337

  • Right click on me for help!

  • F1

  • Likes evenings by fireplaces, long walks on the beaches, and helping with homework. Wait, what?

  • Big Brother

Though all are too geeky to use (we'll probably go with information commons assistant), I will forever treasure the envisioned snorts of laughter resonating through the ether once we started tossing these around. Ah, it's good to be teaching again...can't wait 'till the media literacy class kicks in next week, what with the elections and all.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:46 PM | 3 comments

Back In The Saddle 

The phone didn't ring once; my Girlyman CD skipped a bit; the network cord was stolen from the radio station computer, so I couldn't blog the playlist as it happened. I forgot to do the weekly contest, and talked way too much. But all in all it sure was fine to be back on the air, in the cool basement, alone in the dark with my own personal wall of sound.

Here's tonight's playlist, the first of many for a new school year; from Jeffrey Foucault on, all songs are by artists I saw perform live this summer:

Tributary 9/6/04

Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
Keb' Mo -- Love Train
Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
Squeeze -- Dr. Jazz
Phish -- Back On The Train
Yo La Tengo -- Magnet
Beck -- Devil's Haircut
Cake -- Manah Manah
Gillian Welch -- I Want To Sing That Rock and Roll
Sarah Harmer -- Almost
The Posies -- I'm Looking Through You
Girlyman -- Postcards From Mexico
They Might Be Giants -- Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
Jeffrey Foucault -- Mayflower
Crooked Still -- Angeline The Baker
Eddie From Ohio -- Let's Get Mesolithic
Ani Difranco -- Little Plastic Castle
Erin McKeown -- Civilians
Soulive -- Turn It Out
John Gorka -- Out Of My Mind
Lucy Kaplansky -- It Ain't Me, Babe
Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem -- Butter And Egg Man
Dar Williams -- Are You Out There
Jourma Kaukonen -- Red River Blues

You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show here on WNMH 91.5 fm, serving Northfield, Gill, Keene and Brattleboro -- and you -- every week...with a little bit of this, a little bit of that, some funk and folk, blues and bluegrass, jazz and jambands, alternative and everything in between. Damn, it's good to be back.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:49 AM | 1 comments

Sunday, September 05, 2004

The Mom Report 

Just got off the phone with mom. Hot off the family wire:

- Willow had a phone conversation with my mother today. Willow's total contributions to the conversation were "yes" and "where's Grandpa?"

- New Ohio State Veterinary School vet student (and sis) Sarah installed in Ohio one-bedroom awaiting semester's commencement. Soon, she will be required to dissect a horse. Thankfully, she decided not to get the Ohio State cheerleader outfit for two year old wildchild Willow.

- Bro and artist Jesse left a message on my mother's answering machine about being in the NYC protests surrounded by a thousand empty coffins or something. That was him on the cellphone just now, but mom didn't get it in time.

- Rhythm and Roots was good but less diverse, musically speaking, than in the past.

- There's a Yom Kippur service at the temple on Saturday morning just for kids. Also babysitting. Also, mom always buys an extra ticket.

- Mom and Dad Tuesday leave for Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. Another state or two, and Dad'll have collected the whole set of 50. (Go Dad!)

- Mom rocks.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:56 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Never Again Will I Live In The Air 

An epiphany today, a third time up the narrow stairs bearing wet, freshly hung shirts before me like a torch: Fourteen months in our new apartment, and the thrill is gone.

It's not just the lack of a washer/dryer hookup, or the absence of dishwasher, though these would almost be enough. It's that there will never be such things. The water pressure doesn't rise this high. Even if it did, the stairway's too narrow to bring 'em in.

Moving in was a bitch. If we owned a couch it never would have made it; now we mix and match chairs moment to moment, and wish we felt more settled. If we owned a piano, it'd be in pieces off the fire escape; I don't think Darcie's played since last year.

The stairs are slowly killing me. Willow weighs 35 pounds and must be carried; the dog needs walking thrice a day. Groceries collect in the car.

For God's sake, it's an attic -- it was never meant to be an apartment in the first place. Eaves, which shrink the headspace and still knock the occasional head, arising. Tiny windows, too small for air conditioner, and sparsely placed. The constant heat which rises from the floors below.

And living in the air is a drag on our lifestyle insidous in its effect. We avoid stairs if we can -- so we keep Willow inside more, though she revels in the sunlight. We can't bear dragging the laundry up and down, so the clothes pile up on all four bedroom walls, padding the place just fast enough to contain our growing insanity. The heat makes us listless, and we sleep when we should work. We have to spend an entire day every three weeks cleaning out the car again.

It's clear we can't stay much longer.

Every problem I have with this place is due to a combination of height and history. So now I know what I'm looking for, and it's not much, really.

There's nothing I wouldn't do for a nice two-story Victorian all our own. That, and a yard that fades to forest, and goes on forever, shaded and cool.

Oh, and a washing machine.

posted by boyhowdy | 6:29 PM | 14 comments

On Development 

When Willow says fire passer she's not talking about the Olympics. She means pacifier, the suckling soothe baby Zinnia uses on her twice-weekly morning visits. As yet the transposition is rare, and exclusive to trisyllabics, but I'm not sure what to think: High-verbal and determined to get it right (both paternally inherited traits), she had no trouble with even these same words weeks ago; we can find no correlation between tiredness and tongue-tied.

Is this merely wordplay, a sign of creativity? A brainfart? It seems natural, but where does it go from here? Parenthood serves the catcurious so well sometimes; it's as if I had all this brain just begging to be utilized all these years, and never knew it.

In other development news -- the professional type, this time around -- my mother in law has helpfully sent me a job listing somewhat up my alley and certainly within my range; now I can't help thinking about taking the damn job just to stay in the area. I probably won't, though. Coming to realize that having my own classes means the world to me.

Which reminds me: it's getting on time to contact the prep school placement folks.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:27 PM | 0 comments

Friday, September 03, 2004

Download Some Jazz 

Jazz 101 [warning: .doc format], a poem written by NMH student extraordinaire Doug Garrison, mostly during Chem class last year...and delivered with about as much slam-style soul as a white boy can muster at a recent school meeting to kick off our theme for this year's residential life curriculum.

Theme, of course, is Jazz. My advisees are reading Sonny's Blues for Monday, and I'll surely report on this personal fave when I can; until then, read 17-year-old Doug's masterpiece out loud to yourself, curse your creative inabilities, and read it again. Well, that's what I did, anyway.

More on all that jazz as events develop, but here's a hint: it promises to be a great Winter around here.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:57 PM | 0 comments


Like this, except our kid is cuter

We'd seen Ginny's new hardwood-and-privacy apartment, and spent 80 bucks on beer and sweet barbecue for three and a half at Smokin' Lil's down in Easthampton: crawdad tails and catfish fingers; two kinds of ribs, pulled pork and baconbeans; a mildly carbonated summer beer brought in from local haunt The People's Pint.

The Wal-Mart cart already held new panties for the newly and self-potty trained wee one (who proved us right by holding it in even while I sprinted through the aisles looking for the bathrooms); three dollar t-shirts (purple) and dozens of cheap brown socks for me; some frilly low-cut shirt-likes for her mother -- not to mention a small glug of Tide detergent, and some other miscelany.

How, then, to resist the $45 price tag on a Fisher Price PowerTouch learning system (a.k.a. Leapfrog clone), complete with a starter booklet of her favorite iconographs (Sesame Street) in her favorite settings (farm, kitchen, music store)? After all, she'd been playing with the kindergarten-level store demo dilligently and, wonder of wonders, correctly for twenty minutes already, smoke practically rising from her gleeful and eager brain -- and all without falling from the cart.

We had to get it. It was breaking my heart just thinking about walking away from all that brainjiggling, knowing full well that, without it, tomorrow she'd be back to the stuffed animals and other mere objects of her already passing childhood. Darcie, bless her parental instincts, even bought a flashlight so we could use it in the car on the way home.

Of course, once the car started and we opened the package, we discovered it takes a phillips head screwdriver to open the battery case. Guess her brain will have to develop on its own until tomorrow, at least.

She's asleep now, of course -- happy as a clam, with her favorite bunny curled up against her head as if it alone could help keep the brain from leaking out overnight. But for me, it's going to be a long night to wait. After all, something came together, an epiphany, in WalMart of all places this evening -- the heart of a teacher and the fullbody love I feel for her combined in one glorious rush there in that aisle tonight. We've been only waiting for this moment to arrive.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:21 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, September 02, 2004

When I'm At Work I Look Like This 

...and here's how you access the virtual desktop.

Note new haircut, holding shape (mostly) despite 90 degree weather and 95% humidity. Nice, eh? Yesterday a student in the dorm said it makes me look 30 years younger, which would put me back in diapers; nonetheless, I appreciate the compliment in the spirit it was given, as it sure beats heck out of "Oh my God, what did you do to your hair?"

posted by boyhowdy | 11:31 AM | 2 comments

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Is It Really Wednesday? 

My sincere apologies to...um...me, and regular and sporadic readers alike, for my absence over the last few. Some possible, actual, and marginally legitimate excuses follow:
  • It's the begining of school -- which for me, as always, means 16 hour workdays, and a heck of a lot of intercapus sprinting. In the last three days I've overseen the creation of a ten minute slide show culled from over a thousand pix of orientation and opening-day activities, met with my advisees for three hours and chaqnged their schedules around via phone and network for another three, stood dorm duty and library duty, and attended more meetings than at which you could shake a proverbial stick.

  • The laptop is dying a relatively rapid death. Adaware doesn't even run anymore -- always a bad sign -- and we're learning to manually close addons via the taskbar as the computer loads (faster! faster, or we'll never catch up!) as the stupid beast loads. Looks like we're going to have to rub a magnet against the casing sometime soon and start from scratch, but in the meantime, this means no computing from home -- and given the above, who wants to be in the office even an extra minute?

  • Hotness continues, and, though I think I look great with it, I'm not talking about my new poster-boy windswept haircut, either. It's hit ninety in the shade for three days straight; I went through four shirts the other day, and it just keeps coming.
Of course, it might be one of these, or all of them. But, as always, let's not forget the possibility that I just suck.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:22 PM | 1 comments

Sunday, August 29, 2004

In The Bag 

Willow waddles over in a flannel babyblue pillowcase pulled up to her ears, her eyes peeping over, and crinkled at the corner from an unseen grin. We're pretending she's a bag of groceries, and when I throw her on the pulled-out futon bed it's the trunk; she shuts her eyes in the pretend darkness until I "open" it and throw her over my shoulder.

And over and over, in the cool airconditioned room, with little variation. Until we decide this load of groceries is for mommy, and something in there sparks: she slides down the bedside, her jaw set determinedly, walks over to the loveseat where a long mommy curls her feet against the ivory armrest edge, and announces Hello, Mommy. I'm a fruit snack and you have to eat me!

Mommy, to say the least, is a bit startled at what, for her, is an out-of-context outcurst of imaginative cannibalism. Me? I'm overjoyed.

I'm liking these bedtime hours. They're quality time. And though the whirlwind world accelerates into the schoolyear around me, there will be time for these hours, at least, in the hard days ahead. Bring it on, year. My daughter will keep me sane, and damn the torpedoes.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:32 PM | 1 comments

Hot Hot Hot 

And humid, too -- especially after a day of helping the new students find their way through frist the school network registration process and then, back in the dorms, the inevitable challenge of roommate meeting and roomspace establishment.

Wish it were yesterday -- we were up North in the trees and hills, picking up the camper at our once-housesitting gig. Cold local microbrew and a dip in the pool on our last free day for weeks made for a nice send-off to summer. Except it's been in the low nineties for fortyeight hours now, and yesterday's cold blue water seems like a fever dream.

I've had to restart this entry (and this laptop) so many times it's not even funny. Guess it's even too hot for the laptop. I'm going in for a cold shower before my hairgel melts any further.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:41 PM | 0 comments

Friday, August 27, 2004

What's New 

My brain is full, so tonight we're resorting to the list-and-sort.
  • Haircut. Though it will be a bit pointy in back as the hair settles, with a little bit of gel (hooray for free samples!) I can finally shape the front the way I want it.

  • Schedules at work. I'll be doing dorm duty on Tuesdays, and Thursday nights as a library proctor. The former is a bonus because it saves me an extra night in the dorm; I'd have to go in for staff meetings Tuesday nights anyway. The latter is a new experience, but I think the split taskset of studyhall shusher and on-site student-paper-supporter likely to fit like a glove.

  • Students impending, and the school year begins anew. I'm scheduled for some fun training and teaching over the next few days, most notably a rapid-fire one-on-one network orientation marathon at registration Sunday, and a verycool opportunity to swear at the ninth graders (and, from there, to help kids develop an awareness of how cyberspeak is communityspeak, too, so they might fight the tyrrany of the computer-distanced tonality so otherwise endemic to virtual space) the next.

  • Shingles are not back after all. Instead, this morning's doctor has referred me to a dermatologist and, from there, an allergist. The antihistamines worked some, but I still got drowsy in the park down in Northampton today, and had to lie down a bit on the grass while Willow threw coins in the fountain (and I really mean IN the fountain, here -- good thing we had extra underpants with us).

  • Willow is wearing underpants, and hasn't had a single accident (except with the grandparents, who are less familiar with her particular need-to-pee signals).

Also new: the cat finally stopped smelling like skunk once we took his collar off; a new and larger deskspace in the much more open group office in the library; these four not-shingles bumps on my ass, which form a perfect (if slightly tilted) square. Not a bad day, if I do say so myself.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:23 PM | 16 comments

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Yes, I am aware that my comments aren't working, thanks. 

It's an enetation problem. I'm working on it.

In the interim, I have enabled the autoblogger comment function. God help us all.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:22 PM | 2 comments

Olympic Games 

I'm the guy who watches the Superbowl for the ads, and get snacks during the game -- even when the Patriots make the game. But though the Olympics haven't really cut into my Terry Goodkind reading much, when the tv's been on, I've been watching. Like a rattlesnake in a cage, you just can't help staring for a while when you pass.

I saw Phelps just enough to say I've seen him, and enough of that Retton-record-beating gymnast chick to know that she's no Retton when she's off the parallel bars but the cameras are on. Missed table tennis because we didn't get that staion, but saw some kayak slalom event which went badly for "our" American, and learned that some kayak slalom poles must be passed upstream. Saw a sloppy greco-roman semifinal lurchfest and plenty of trackstars.

I've seen men's volleyball at 2 a.m., and prime time women's beach volleyball. Even had a conversation with the Varsity coach here at school today in the snack bar line at supper, and finally figured out what that short guy in the red jersey was doing in among the huge guys in blue during all those group hugs (for those who care, he's a back-line perma-sub, able to grab a low ball to the back and pass it up).

And I've probably seen some other stuff, too. It just isn't that memorable, I guess.

As a media teacher, the Olympics fascinate me; they have better viewership creds than the superbowl, since theyir atheletes cover a larger breatdth, and come from a larger pool. But the way they drag out doesn't let them sustain the concentrated attention of our short-span theater viewing public. I suspect most folks are like me, watching sometimes, mostly just letting the idea of the Olympics -- that they're happening now -- settle into the brain like a string around the finger.

We've got a friend in the Olympic Village -- our festival buddy Dave was selected a long time ago as temp staff, bus-boarding athletes in return for a few event tickets, women's volleyball among them, supposedly. And artifacts, too -- Dave gave us some damn ugly mugs back before he went.

But it isn't enough to keep us watching for long. I mean, only those who were nationally ranked saber fencers in their adolescence (hi, PJ!) could make any sense of this too-fast-for-human-senses, lunge-fast sport. Guess that's why they were on so late, and why they're not shown in the constant replays and recaps, themselves dragging the pace even more than before, though their intention, surely, is to keep us high with highlights.

Too bad the two week high isn't sustainable. Good thing there's an antidote. If, like me, you're Olympicked out, Jonathan Crowe's celebration of these last place finishers makes for some light and enlightening reading. As a bonus, Crowe's rubric for tracking which country is the biggest loser seems cohesive and fair, with -- now that it's been adjusted for an error a bit back -- home team Greece in the lead. Go, team!

posted by boyhowdy | 8:51 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Going Back To School Is Like Jumping Naked Into A Freezing Pool 

A wonderful Willow evening, with a red rustwater bath and an hour mutually babbling. ("I play a song like this on my kazoo, okay? Here's a mousie, and it's tiny; I have it in my hand! Just pretend you're Liz, and I read this book to you, daddy. See the owl? It's a bear!")

But I've got itchspots all over, and I'm worried my shingles may be coming back everywhere at once. And I'm still turning into a brainfog machine, pulsing like an overtired nightdriver, by late afternoon, and a day full of faculty meetings and more faculty meetings to officially open the school year didn't help.

Also, I've become addicted to those overly thick Terry Goodkind books, having discovered the set in the last few days of our recently ended housesitting stay. The odd quirk of my reading habit -- I find it essentially impossible to sleep unless I have finished the book I've started that day -- exacerbates the exhaustion.

Still. Everyone at the community back-to-school lunch today agreed the little one is so adorable, and so smart. I'm tempted to agree. So I got that going for me.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:25 PM | 0 comments

Monday, August 23, 2004

Sleepytime Me 

The burning at consciousness's edge began late yesterday; by this afternoon I was fading in and out, the road North again stretching before me in that timelessness only the overtired and delirious ever experience. Coffee, cigarettes, a shock-dive into the pool: nothing helped, and I sunk further into the daze of our lives, the funk of the fried, the impossible undreaming that takes me like night through the school year, eating at my brain like rats on a bagel.

Too many days of up-early in the chill of early autumn mountain fog; too little REM sleep on the edge of consciousness, unwilling to trust completely a subjectively untested bedside alarm clock. This time. But there will always be something, now.

Tonight long past Willow's bedtime the householders came home from the hills of Scotland. The year's work has begun; already, the desktop bulges with responsibilities and careful negotiations, the knife's edge of the in-house servicegiver. On the drive back South Willow fell asleep quietly, an unfinished bottle, while her mother in the passenger seat kept the mist from our windows. And I? I followed the perfect upright sharp-edged moon hung copper in the sky, perfectly halved, like my autumn heart.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:15 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Not News, Again 

Glen Hiller, 35, doesn't get it. He expresses shock that a Bush rally would be filled with people who support Bush, and more shock that he'd be asked to leave for heckling -- when in fact we used to kick people out of the Boston Museum of Science for heckling our lightning shows, too.

Then, to top it all off, he thinks he was fired because of his politics.

But was he? A quick look at the backstory puts this into perspective: Hiller, a graphic designer working for "an advertising and design company," was at the rally as a guest of a client. An adman's job depends on making clients happy. If one of those clients takes you to a public event, and you embarass them by getting kicked out of that event -- why, you failed at your job, demonstrated crass insensitivity to the very people whose bill-paying keeps your company solvent. Wouldn't you expect to get fired?

Hiller's not the only idot here; CNN doesn't get it either. As we've seen in the past, they have a knack for spinning facts like this to make them seem like news. (At least they're transparent about it, so we can make fun of them.) Here, they clearly report this as news because it was a Bush rally, not, say, a Tony Orlando and Dawn concert in Vegas, at which Hiller did the dirty deed -- this should be so obvious as to need no mention, really.

Heckling at a rally isn't news. Getting kicked out of a rally for being disruptive isn't news. Getting fired for offending a client not only isn't news, it isn't even unexpected -- that's the way the adworld works, folks. In fact, it isn't even news when a guy claims that he was fired because of something Bush-related, when the logic is as tenuous as this is -- it's a cry for psychiatry, or perhaps for a course in basic logic.

Net result: a headline that says "Man fired for heckling Bush." In fact, the first paragraph makes plain that he was fired for "offending a client who provided tickets to the event." With that headline, though, we are clearly and pre-emptively meant to believe that Hiller is somehow a victim of Bush&co, which is patently silly. Boos and hisses to CNN for providing fodder to the Moore-minded. (Kudos, though, for the excuse to rant again -- it's been a while, eh?)

posted by boyhowdy | 9:17 PM | 33 comments


Last night the rain
and a lightning clap like God's hands
close by over the mountains.

I am driving North to see you,
past all this: along the roiled river
brown with mud, the blasted rock,
the rushing water runoff.

Here and there
the green trees
tipped with red leaf patches
new since yesterday.

posted by boyhowdy | 5:29 PM | 0 comments

Alma Mater, We Love You 

Commonwealth School, Boston

Working the NMH Volunteers Weekend this weekend, and thinking about my own beloved schools. Though my educational background was sporadic at best -- I switched to a private high school for Junior and Senior years after almost flunking out of public school, and took little from Bard, my first-try college, other than a spouse-to-be, a bunch of neat writing courses, and a love of the rural life -- I consider Commonwealth School (that private school, shown above -- a tiny liberalarts thinktank in a Bostonian Comm Ave. brownstone) a long-ago savior. Despite low grades and a total failure to keep in touch with any of my 33 fellow class-of graduates, that place was the first to show me that aptitude was little without interest, and application impossible without commitment. Also, for a school whose population never rose above 120 from 9-12, we sure had some great parties.

Meanwhile, most grads of my collegiate alma mater seem to be flailing -- a recent visit to Brattleboro met me up with several old roommates and friends, most of whom have new stories to tell of failed marriages and part-time dead-end jobs. Dave just opened a cafe and performance space in town, without Anna; I met Brandt inside, up from Washington, and Dan, Mike, and Jeremy on the steps, all of whom are either between jobs or on their way somewhere else pretty soon, it seems. Meanwhile, Carl was in line behind me at Mocha Joes, and reports he's still doing solo construction work, his daughter living in Cali with his ex.

As for me...well, I'm still here, and still married happily. But some days -- like yesterday, pulled over for an out of date car registration, and spending our last cash on a tow; looking ahead at a week of full-on work with no time or money to reregister, or renew the surprisingly out-of-date license to boot -- take me closer to the edge than I've been since those last few disastrous days at Bard, hiding out in Darcie's dormroom after being dismissed, living off of stolen dining hall broccoli.

But Marlboro College itself is in the pink. The new president seems, by all accounts, to be well-liked, the grad school's ads come across strong on our local public radio station, and the undergrad school scored higher than ever in the just-released Princeton Review Annual College Guide:

In the 2005 issue of The Best 357 Colleges, Marlboro ranked first for "Professors Bring Material to Life" and second for "Best Overall Academic Experience," "Class Discussions Encouraged" and "Professors Make Themselves Accessible" and 13th for "Students Never Stop Studying."

It's not Harvard or Princeton, and thank god for that. Happy to hear that the tiny school-on-a-hill -- all 300 students and 30 professors -- seems to be doing quite well without me or my cash, though I gave a token sum last year, all we could afford. Maybe one of these days they'll be ready for a communications and media prof, and I can quit the prep school rat race for good.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:36 AM | 1 comments

Thursday, August 19, 2004

The End Of The Summer 

This morning a gleeful trip to the Brattleboro Retreat Petting Farm, once a theraputic treatment for the mentally ill, now a mecca of last-ditch summer entertainment for children and the childlike. Willow crowed at the roosters and fed goats grain pellets from her bare hands. The emus glowered at us, and the llama's didn't spit; we all held baby chicks, and a tiny baby piglet climbed through the bars of her family cage to get a full-out scratch from me, which made my day -- doesn't everyone secretly wish they could have a wee pink pig for a housepet?

Skinny dipping this afternoon again, Brattleboro yesterday (and a nice yummy dinner at Max's for our anniversary while the in-laws watched the kid get filthy in the garden). Sitting on the porch rocker just a few minutes ago after the kid went up to bed with her mother, I watched the hills beyond the hills glow gold with a sunset rain-and-fog, and listened to the Canada geese call to each other as they bed down in the horsefields. But the buzz in the back of the brain has started, and a chatter of email messages unsent, plans and sequences for the days ahead flits through my brain familiarly, distracting me from the universe, as it always does. It's the end of the summer, and only this morning seems clear in retrospect. Too soon it will be a distant memory.

I'm off to the "office" tomorrow to prep the tech for this weekend's reunion planning committee events -- set up data projectors and lapel mics where needed, and, while class chairs learn to sell the school to their fellow alums, stand by at $18 an hour during their use in case a battery blows. I'll be in the apartment solo all weekend, while Darcie and Willow entertain here at the housesitting gig until Monday late.

For me, starting Monday, it's meetings meetings meetings, three days straight. Followed by meetings, and quite probably some meetings until Friday.

And then the kids arrive, and once again, we live where we work.

This year I won't be teaching any major courses, for the first time since I started working the prep school gig in 1998. This year, too, there's a little person running around at home, once who finally kisses me and hugs me goodnight, instead of the old pre-verbal to miss all day. And this is the year we'll be shopping the prep school market, along most of my teaching peers, I gather -- the school goes down to halfsize at the school year's end, and given the tight time frame for placement in the prep school world (basically, a three week period in March), it's far too late to start the process when the pink slips start coming down the pike.

No wonder my back aches.

It was another wonderful summer. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

But there's nothing wrong with wishing it could have lasted forever.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:21 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Gift Recommendations Cheerfully Accepted -- And Hurry! 

Silly me -- I thought eighth anniversaries were traditionally celebrated with gifts of daub and wattle (or is that taupe and bottle?), but Britwomen's reference site iVillage claims this to be the year of the Bronze -- and reccommends tanning lotion, sculpture, sun, or a servant's bell. Finding these not our style, I'm still thinkin' -- let me know if you've got a good one, and I'll happily lay the thanks on here in public.

Has it really been that long since Darcie and I walked down the narrow aisle, stood beneath the woolen huppah, danced on the lawn with friends and fam, wearing homemade clothes, surrounded by next-door neighbor's gifted farmstand sunflowers? Since the rabbi helped us make sandwiches beforehand, and all my college friends got high in the parking lot during the reception? One of the things I love best about marriage (well, our marriage) is that it seems like forever, and just yesterday, all at the same time. For those still looking, here's a hint from my playbook: growing together is blessed by comfortable silences as much as the yakkety-yak therapist's paean.

We've been dating since 1991, dropped out of college together (and boy, did her parents like that at the time), lived with roommates and Willow trees, in cities and farmvalleys; had a child, want more; grown a dog and a stray cat into family, too. I wouldn't trade a minute of it, from nickel to rose, and can't wait until we celebrate our diamond years...nor our formica anniversary (next year, right?).

posted by boyhowdy | 2:27 PM | 0 comments

Monday, August 16, 2004

Cooped Up 

What with the rain steady on the slate roofs and leadglass windowpanes in this old borrowed house, we've been mostly inside all day, except for a quick trip for farmstand berries and homemade chicken cutlet small-market sandwiches. The cats come in and out of the rain all day, and for the first time all showed up for lockdown this evening -- guess even the barn's a bit damp. And though the house is leakrpoof, the fog comes in these cracked windows, raising mildew, giving us headaches, making yesterday's fresh biscuits grow greenspot mold in their kitchen bag.

So not much to report today, really, except time with the wee one. We plopped in a beanbag ("swing me in this chair, daddy!"), watched over an hour of JoJo, the claymation Disneychannel circus clown on the huge-screen television this afternoon (Willow insisted on "holding" the three little bunnies she saw onscreen, so I "let her"); hopped out to the aforementioned while Darcie slept off a touch of nausea; played with the pool table (wherein Willow sits atop the felt and rolls balls in the holes to hear them run through the table's innards, and I use the cue to gently knock back those that miss).

Willow nods her head and smiles when asked questions on the phone, not realizing that only words come through both ends, I guess. But we're coaching her, and watched amazed as, after supper tonight, she had an actual conversation with Darcie's father, hello through goodbye. That kid just blows me away.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:53 PM | 0 comments

Gone Phishin' 

Somewhere upstate of here, thousands of neohippies are crying as Phish goes out with a hundred water- and fish-based puns. Their follower's clothes and bedding are filthy and damp; their cars are still stuck in the mud they lodged in Friday, when they arrived for the weekend farewell at Coventry. According to today's Brattleboro Reformer, the promoters spent 50k on mud-pull tractors and winches, but honestly, there's no hurry -- many of these folks have been on the road following the band for so long they've got nowhere to go.

Imagine if Moses came to the Isralites after the first 30 desert years and said "Okay, guys, you're on your own -- go home." Like the Jews that moment God decided to stop stopping by, Phishheads (Groupies?) have suddenly become people of the book, too.

Though I can't resist a good concert, I've never been the kind of guy to follow a band around the country. I went to my first and only Phish show at the Somerville Theater way back in '91, when the shows were still general admission and there was only one cassette to buy, and I bought it; got there early enough to snag sixth row, with drummer Jon Fishman's mom in the next seat over -- we had a nice chat between the trampolines of "Bouncing Around the Room" and the intermission animated film of "Esther." Later, I convinced my deadhead college roommate to try their show at then-nearby Albany, the famous set where they did almost all (but not quite) of the legendary Gamehenge cycle, unannounced as always -- I've always regretted not tagging along.

But the albums and live cuts will live on forever in the coffee shop soundtracks and road trip tape decks. Their jams were tight, the production lush, the energy sublime throughout their career. Their SNL self-parody several years ago, on the comeback trail after a year-long band hiatus, was a thriller; from Bathtub Gin and Fee to Back on the Train -- the track, incidentally, from whence this blog's subtitle comes -- Phish made music that stepped into the high gear of my soul. Trey, Mike, Page and Jon -- though your solo projects rock, each and every one, and will surely continue to do so, things will never be the same without you.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:33 AM | 0 comments

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Hurry Up, It's Time 

It's time to begin keeping time
again; separate the days
by more than sleep and cigarettes;
remember appointments. It's time
to leave a full bed in the morning,
come home tired just to sleep;
catch up at the cafeteria.
Forever I will be without you,
covet library Fridays,
envy afternoon sitters.

Summer's over, the leaves about to turn
even here, in this playground watching
Willow and Felix throw rocks on the slide:
Leaves, and pages. I miss you already.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:37 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Thanks For The Shirts, Dad 

Plus, I look marvelous in rust.

Big fat package in the mail today -- five linen/cotton blend shortsleeved button-downs (rust, two shades of blue, an ivory and some sort of goldenrod), now on sale at Old Navy. Can't wait to iron them.

Hmm. Last week in Nova Scotia I mentioned to my father how nice his shirt looked, and how well it traveled. Now I've got five, in various colors.

Hey Dad, I'm a big fan of the Lexus, too...

Bet they even make them in rust, come to think of it.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:58 AM | 15 comments

Friday, August 13, 2004

Why not? 

Why can't telemarketers just say "Hi, I'm a telemarketer, and we're selling ______. Interested?" I mean, half of why we hate the telemarketing pitch is how time-consuming it is just to say "no." If we got rid of the fake-out, we might be more willing to listen in the first place...and if not, why then the telemarketer could save some time for the next call, and the next. (Yes, I know telemarketers are rewarded for the time they manage to keep people on the line. But my point is that this pressure is based on a faulty assumption -- the correlation between the fifty second call and the sale is surely false.)

Don't get me wrong -- I like talking to strangers on the phone. It's just that slime and evasiveness bother me. Are people really MORE likely to buy something if they're interrupted during dinner by someone desperate, using evasive language? Even with the social revile-ation of the coldcall sales strategy in the last decade?

Also, while we're on the subject of life, the universe, and everything, why is it that I can only cook decently at other people's houses? Why can't my daughter pronounce the letter L? And who let the dog out? She was in the outdoor kennel when I left her that morning; it's hard to believe she scaled a six foot chainlink fence.

Sorry. It's been another two days of Willowwatch while Darcie nine-to-fives it -- the Magic Wings butterfly gardens, Yankee Candle, and an afternoon making playdoh snacks and reading books to an imaginary library lady named, apparently, Wiz . I'm pretty burnt out.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:25 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Paradise [Error] 

Just a note to say the blogentry I just lost to the ether was better than this one.

Much, much better.

Once again, I wish I were the kind of person for whom taking the extra minute for safety measures was natural. Heck, Darcie still has to remind me to wear my seatbelt.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:44 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Curriculum By Pamphlet 

CNN reports this week on a Los Angeles private school which promised Hispanic immigrants a college-access, high-school-equivalency diploma in return for cash, but offered instead a thin tissue (okay, a "thin workbook") of blatantly false knowledge. My own favorite bulletpoints from this tale of eduhorror include:
  • There are two houses of Congress -- the Senate and the House, and "one is for Democrats and the other is for the Republicans, respectively."

  • The United States has 53 states but the "flag has not yet been updated to reflect the addition of the last three states" -- Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico.
As if that wasn't egregious enough, upon completion of the ten week, $450 to $1,450 program, attendees recieved a certificate that "isn't recognized as a high school diploma" by anybody. Of course, this all comes after "school officials ignored a previous court order that banned them from telling consumers it was."

And you thought History was already riddled with lies, eh? Think again, Zinnhead -- there's no moral equivalency here. One can only imagine the dozens of Democratic immigrants already out there ready to vote for just about any Senator that comes along. Lucky for Kerry he was out of the House.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:33 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Other People's Houses 

Skinny dipping late this afternoon in someone else's pool, an illicit pleasure even when the house is ours for two weeks while wifeDarcie's brother goes off with the house's owners: his longtime girlfriend, her father, her brother.

And what a homestead it is: studios, barns and wide spaces, and two houses to explore, technically speaking: the house and the sugarhouse. We spend most of our days in the always-in-flux main house, a much-built-upon clapboard-white farmstead up against the dirtroad, visiting the sugarhouse, a modern-cabinesque wood-and-beam two-room which Darcie and I covet like there's no tomorrow, mostly to make sure it's ready for my parents' arrival on Saturday, and to share a jacuzzi, just the three of us.

They tell me we used to summer here when I was a kid, and swim in the West River just down the road, just a treeline away from the still-nude beach. Now we sit naked with our own. Funny, how the universe does that sometimes.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:08 PM | 0 comments

Monday, August 09, 2004

Happy Birthday, Baby 

The love of my life and blessed salvation of my universe turns 29 (again) today; we're dog-and-housesitting up in dirtroad Newfane for a while, so the plan involves a cookout with her parents and a dip in the pool. A nice mellow day, finally off the road again. Happy happy, honey!

For the curious, Willow and I got her a Janel Russell Mother and Child pendant, whitegold with a ruby set in it (Willow's birthstone, not Darcie's). Far out of our price range, but worth it. All other wellwishers are invited to send her an ecard or something.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:58 AM | 0 comments

Just Don't Call Her Cindy 

Lucinda "Changed the Lock on My Front Door" Williams at the Calvin Theater last night -- 6th row and a great set, though the fifth and fourth rows seemed, as is too often the case, to be specially reserved for folks over six feet. (Why is that?) Lu was straight from a high-profile gig at the Newport Folk Festival the day before, and seriously rocked, tattoos and all, so hard that her drummer's sticks kept chipping apart. Lead guitarist sang a surprisingly powerful soprano backup.

Lu, who performs standing with an oft-checked songbook on a low podium before her, nonetheless forgot the changes to one song midway through, started again for a bit, then gave up, but the crowd was on her side. Heck, Irma Thomas and J. Garafalo bring their books on stage, and I've seen Ani ask for one, too.

Opener and David Byrne protege Jim White was a wonderful oddfellow surprise -- wry wit and an in-concert sound full of strange instrumentation and tootles galore. If you like Timbuk 3, but always wondered what they could do with a singer-songwriter authorial mentality and a clarinetist, snag his new album via the website (Mojo calls it "a big wet dream of loss and isolation, sex and the search for grace"), and keep an eye out for a show near you.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:27 AM | 1 comments
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