Sunday, August 28, 2005

Life Trifecta Complete 

This morning, after three days of agony, our realtor called with a final no-we-won't-go-lower price on the house, which we promptly accepted. There's oodles of paperwork and inspections to come, but we're pretty much homeowners as of today.

In celebration, we spent an hour arguing over paint and wallpaper at Sherwin Williams with the baby, and then, after picking up the three-year-old, headed up into the wilds of mid-state Vermont for the brother-in-law's first annual pig roast and all-around jamfest -- a damn good party.

Work starts Monday with an all-district professional development day. I'll be attending a full-day workshop/discussion on technology in the district. Rumor has it most of the folks in our group have heard great things about me, are really looking forward to meeting me. Kids arrive Wednesday, and my classroom is a bare bones disaster.

And to think that five months ago, I had no job, no home, and a family of three.

We'll be nomads for six-to-eight while we close on the house, and all my school clothes remain too deep in storage to retrieve before moving. But it's all downhill from here, folks. Thanks to all who stuck by us. We now resume normal blogging, whatever the hell that might look like.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:07 AM | 4 comments

Friday, August 26, 2005

Worst Album Covers...Ever 

And they're not kidding. Easily worth the half hour on dial-up.

Still waiting to hear something, anything, re: our offer on the house. Can you tell?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:30 PM | 27 comments


The Waiting Game 

It's been 48 hours since we made an offer that's supposed to be good for only 24, and still no news from the seller's agent.

I've walked to the end of the drive and back a hundred times. I am in agony. Tums is no solace.

Please, God. Just this one more thing. For my children.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:53 PM | 2 comments

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Waiting For Godot House 

The last piece of the puzzle has the highest stakes.


I feel funny tonight. Alive. Back on the roller coaster. And I’ve just now realized why the adrenaline’s running so high.

I’ve gone and got my hope back.

I’m of two minds on this. On the one hand, the last couple of times I allowed myself to get hopeful everything went arse over teakettle. And there’s more to lose now than ever before.

On the other hand...damn, I missed hope.

My stomach’s all aflutter. My face burns. The brain starts to overload, like a constant state of overanxiety and burnout. I phonewatch, spend hours staring at photos and floorplans, check the real estate listings a hundred times a day. I walk out and wish on the stars for just a single moment when everything finally comes together. Darcie's already started designing the deck-slash-sunporch.

Tempting fate never felt so good. Nor so terrible.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:44 PM | 0 comments


The Waiting Game 

No reply from the realtor yet. Darcie seems calm, but inside I'm jumpy as a madman, our futures in the hands of some folks whose house we know but whose faces we've never seen. Hoping the homeowners came back willing to negotiate rather than hysterical laughter, of course; the kids will need new clothes soon, so something under asking price would be ideal. Full acceptance of our real-for-us but low-for-them bid would be wonderful, but at eleven percent below asking price, I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high.

In the meantime, I spent the morning two hours south (gotta fix that commute ASAP) at a district-wide training for the new school database software -- you know, attendance and scheduling and things. I'll never have to handle that side of it, but it seemed useful to know the entire information trail from teacher to secretary and back again if I'm to train teachers on grading and attendance input software in a week's time. Happily, Kay (our own school's front office datagoddess) spent the entire time touting me to a whole mess of front-office types from other schools in our district fs as the next best thing since sliced bread.

Followed that with a few hours in my new digs, wiping down surfaces and slamming unhinged drawercovers back into almostplace. The thought of trying to prep and personalize my new classroom in time for kid-arrival Wednesday brings despair, but I'm a trooper. Plus, most of the curriculum I'm thinking involves lab design and mind-to-tool literacy discourse with 8th graders, so maybe it's for the best that the place is ready to be taken apart again.

Bumped into some other teachers, who seemed happy to have me there, though. All were collegial, cheery, and genuinely nice folks to chat with. Looking like this is, indeed, the right place to be. And the constant ego-boosts don't hurt.

Now if only the realtor would call. C'mon, house...

posted by boyhowdy | 8:49 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Different House 

It was our last look at the house, a final pre-purchase walk-through with parents in tow just to show off a little, spread the good cheer, get their blessing on this miracle that had, from the first moment we saw it, seemed too good to be true. We marveled at the finished basement, the humongous add-on family room, the extra bedroom. We wondered at the carefully cultivated yardage, the wide swaths of lawn, the far side of the neighbor’s fences.

And then we thought about how nervous we were, and how much work we’d have to put in, both short-term and eternally, to mold and keep the house into its greatest potential.

And then we walked away.

And went back to a much smaller home on the back of two high-canopy wooded acres, just two plots down from a beautiful waterfall, abutting a hundred undevelopable shaded walking trails put down by the army corps of engineers.

And examined every inch of the property from basement to backyard, from front porch to master bedroom.

And stood in the rooms, and thought of ourselves there, and smiled.

And in the end, we went for it. Despite sliding glass doors that opened out into a three foot drop where the previous owners had never bothered to build a deck; despite steep and narrow hardwood staircase up to the second floor. Despite a hole in the yard, round with sand and gravel fill, where a pool had until recently stood.

We almost took the house that represented all that we always said we never really wanted. But bigger isn’t better. It costs too much to keep the yard from encroaching; too much to think of the neighbors on the other side of the fence, too much to think of home as merely the interior of a house just starting to lean into the wind.

More, it costs too much to try to be the people who live in big suburban houses too much alike from the next one. Too much to worry that the big yardtree might fall, leaving us bereft of shade. Too much, indeed, to pretend that we can afford oil for twelve. Too much to spend our lives and weekend hours desperately holding back the encroaching weeds and self-imposed expectations of grandeur.

Instead, we went for the house that seemed like us. The house with room to wander and build. The house we could afford to keep and then some.

The house that felt like home.

And for the first time in a thousand days, we feel like the kind of mature, sensible, grounded and centered adults who deserve it.

Because, in the end, it wasn’t about the house. It was about us. And here as in all things, bigger isn’t better. It’s the peace within us, the spirits of love and laughter and adventure we hold over ourselves like a wedding canopy, wrap ourselves in like a wedding blanket, snuggle into four in a bed every night, that mattered.

So we bid this morning on the house we can afford in all ways – financially and emotionally, ego-wise and in its sheer growth potential. Better, though, we bid on the house that already seemed ready to receive us for who we are, a fifth spoke in our wheel, container and core for the love that we share.

And this is it!

Thanks to Mom, Dad, and Darcie’s parents, who took one look at the house and – each in their own respectful way, proactive or subtle – helped us realize that we were neither them nor the Joneses. They’ll always be welcome in our home.

And thanks to them - assuming, of course, that the sellers accept our bid - we’ll always feel welcome there, too.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:40 PM | 3 comments

Sunday, August 21, 2005

So Little To Say 

Most blogging is reporting: internal or external; emotional or analytic; solipsism, true news, or merely mundania. For too long, though, we've been in staisis, drifting on the winds, and there's only so much one can say anew about another late summer afternoon chalking up the old wooden playstructure out back with the kids, another starry moonless night smoking on the back porch after the neighborhood has otherwise fallen fast asleep.

And there's only so much one can say about the future, whether one is reporting fear or merely enumerating plans as yet to go awry. Though I know some will be happy for us when we've finished the dirty deed, too little of you care, I fear, about the utterly dull housebuying process we're about to subject ourselves to. Neither, truly, could you wish to hear about yet another night in a hotel, or the condo we've managed to rent from a friend for the weekdays hence until houseclosing is upon us.

As such, I've got nothin' newsworthy for you. Sorry, folks -- maybe I'll blog from my classroom while I'm setting it up over the next few days, let you have a snapshot of the truly archaic computer lab set-up we're starting with. And I'll certainly let y'all know about Tuesday's projected first offer, if it's recieved well. But do you really want to hear about the agonizing hour I just spent deciding what to wear to meet the district administrators and parents councilmembers tomorrow? No, I didn't think so.

So let there be silence while I head down Wilbraham way for new teacher training tomorrow, sit down with the realtor and make a formal offer the day after if we can get the ducks in the proverbial row. We'll be back for one more round on the ol' in-law dial-up by Wednesday, and I'll be sure to check in.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:10 PM | 3 comments


Top Five: Randomalia 


Top 5 least believable spam senders:
  1. Caked M. Paychecks
  2. Garner T. Cruelty
  3. Diarist J. Slavis
  4. uefkalxcb
  5. Letha

Top 5 questions we've decided not to ask the people selling the house we want:
  1. Which topless bar is closer?
  2. If you weren't moving to South Carolina for work, would you keep the house?
  3. What's the most annoying thing about living there?
  4. What are you hiding?
  5. Can we keep your pool table?

Top five things about this house that make me nervous
  1. .73 acres -- is it really enough long-term?
  2. Those huge animal holes in the front lawn.
  3. Two tiny kids plus a porch that literally drops straight into the aboveground pool equals one horrible disaster.
  4. No garage.
  5. We're going to be spending 40% of my salary on this mother. Is that even possible to work with?

Top 5 stupid things to worry about:
  1. that my seventh graders might not like me
  2. that the dog won't like the new house
  3. that my daughter might realize, someday, that I'm a total dork
  4. that I break a fingernail just as I'm going to shake hands with someone important, like the president or something, and the ragged edge cuts the palm of their hand so hard, the secret service takes me down
  5. that nobody likes me

I was going to do a 5 x 5, but after far too long trying to upload even one of a thousand photos that might look good framed in the new house, it's looking like the Top 5 greatest pix from the last two months will have to wait 'til we're off dial-up.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:19 AM | 6 comments

Friday, August 19, 2005

Running Towards Home 

Don't want to jinx anything, or let my fragile heart hope too much, lest something go horribly, annoyingly wrong at the eleventh hour. After all, look at how long it took me to find a job.

But without going into too much detail, let me just say that it's beginning to look like sometime Tuesday we'll be ready to play "name that price" on the home of our dreams.

At which point, in even the best of circumstances, a very long process begins that a) makes buying a car look like picking up a pack of gum for exact change, and b) will result in our being broke for perpetuity.

It took a while to get here. Eight months, if you count from the day the Head of School called me into his office and downsized my ass; two and change if you only number the days since the four of us -- infant, smallchild, spouse and hero -- moved all our worldly possessions from school housing to a storage unit and walked off head-high into the sunset. A month of househunting, a week of missing the credit rating bar until we found a mortgage broker who could cover us; no matter how you count it, we've been Kerouacking it for far too long.

But if it works, as Darcie says, by Thanksgiving we'll have something to be truly thankful for. And I'm not just talking about finally having a reason to buy a riding lawn mower, though let me tell you, I'm really looking forward to small vehicular purchases that accompany homeownership. Mmmm...snowblower.

In all seriousness, I don't think I've ever been so nervous in all my life. Bargaining and negotiating give me anxiety attacks, and the stakes are so high; we've come so far, are we overdue for disaster again? I want it to work, and of course I want the sellers to go insane and accept a truly low bid (say, fifteen percent under asking price), but really, I can accept anything but an absolute no at this point.

Really, I just want it to be finally over.

Oh, God, please let this be the last of it. We've been wandering so long, I feel like Moses.

(The manna's not bad, though.)

posted by boyhowdy | 10:25 PM | 30 comments

Thursday, August 18, 2005

And I Still Love You 

Ninth anniversary today. Not much time to celebrate, unless you count lunch and a quick trip to Wal Mart without the kids, but I know she knows I know that we're okay, under the gypsy life, the shadow of a thousand possibilities...and that I hold her fully responsible for getting us here whole, sane, happy, poised, and the best selves we can be under even the most trying circumstances.

It's like I said in an email yesterday:
...What a wonderful irony to be asked about the heroic status of my wife on the very eve of my ninth aniversary. Yes, David, there is a Darcie, and she is a woman of poise. Kind and gentle, supportive and stable; the ground to my flitter and the eye to my storm; she is my luck, my eternal center, the perfect partner and the ideal mother to my children. And outside sources confirm it: she's got the sexiest phone voice in the history of womankind.

And she picked me. Words fail me.
For those who have never heard the tale, a quick retell of our longago, way the hell back in 1991. In sonnet form, for no reason whatsoever.
The word was “pile” and someone drew
Two stick figures, overlapping
And all we could shout was “sex, sex”
And that’s how we met.
I remember the moon that night,
Playing mental chess on the quad.
Your slippery body in the shower.

I was broken for a long time.
For a year and more you held me
Late at night in the top bunk bed
The whole dorm swinging to the rhythm
Of other people’s sex.
When they kicked me out you hid me
In plain sight, and forever.

Awesome to realize that from these humble beginnings sprung a lifetime of mutual sustenance, committed -- by deliberate and co-written Ketubah phrasing -- to pursuit of the spirits of lightness, laughter, and adventure. Yea, though we have no home, I am not afraid, for wherever she is, is home. Or, as I said to David,
...my sorry attempts at worldchanging were nothing before I met the one who could focus it all -- pedestal, brace, focusing lens and gentle breeze
all in one. What good is a voice if one has nothing to speak of, no confidence in one's words?

Happy Anniversary, baby. Let's keep doing it right forever.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:20 PM | 2 comments

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

House 

The head spins with a myriad of houses: dormered and flat, classic and cantilevered, fenced-in and set back. Looking back, they blur into each other, until we cannot remember which wooded yard goes with which garage, which stairs were too narrow, which finished basement smelled like catbox, or why that was significant.

Most have a single but fatal flaw. The pondside beauty has too many stairs; the saltbox has too many tiny rooms. One has bedrooms upstairs but the shower downstairs; a few have two bedrooms upstairs and a master downstairs, a definite disaster while the children are too young to be that far away in slumber. Two have signs of mold in the basement. Too many are too close to the road.

Some make us nauseous. The fixer-upper, a bad acid trip of a house complete with sinkholes in the yard and a cracked foundation, warps and pitches in every room. Another, an otherwise-perfect three-story newly built atop a steep driveway, shows a subtle tilt forward, as if any moment it might slide over the unplowable dirt road into the lake below.

Eleven houses in three days, and a half-dozen before that – a month of searching, of half-hour stopovers in other people’s houses long-empty of habitation or so recently vacated the tub is still wet.

But not for naught.

We’ll spend the weekend talking mortgages with banks and mortgage go-betweens. God, real estate agents, and the Federal Housing Authority willing, we’ll make an offer on a house by Tuesday. We’ve even got a second house in mind if the first choice falls through.

In the end, you see, there was only one real criteria: If we’re going to be in debt forever, I want to come home every day to a house that seems absolutely worth it.

And so far, either one or the other would be worth every bent penny we might scrimp and save over the next 30 years or more.

Wish us luck, eh? For the kids’ sake, and for mine.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:38 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Gone Househuntin' 

We're off on a whirlwind tour -- twelve houses, four towns, three days -- in search of the perfect 3 br 2 bath far from the maddening crowd and not too close to a major road. No ranches. Home must have porch, be affordable on a teacher's salary. Oh, and we promised Willow there would be swings.

Darcie's been looking at cheesy efficiency apartments all day, so the stakes are high to find just the right four-walls-and-a-door ASAP. To crank up the pressure, while we drool over fireplaces and hardwood floors by day, we'll be spending our nights roughing it in the pop-up camper in some lakeside campground, kids and all.

Back Wednesday, a bit grubby, but hopefully with news. Wish us luck!

posted by boyhowdy | 8:27 PM | 2 comments

Saturday, August 13, 2005

In The Something, Oh My Darling 

When the lights are soft and low
And the quiet shadows, falling,
Softly come and softly go...*



Every once in a while a summer afternoon storm clears the sky just around sunset and a bright fire colorizes the whole hazy world. Grass is greener, skies are bluer; it is as if a film had been removed, leaving everything golden and new. The cows next door glow like a hundred and one dalmations in heat. In the grey, vague distance, sunset clouds slink pink around low mountains.

Man, I love when that happens.

There’s got to be a word for this phenomenon of golden twilight -- gloaming comes to mind, but I always thought the gloaming was a bit more purply, somehow Moorish. I’d look it up, but the euphoria of walking out into a Technicolor world has overwhelmed me.


*Turns out the color I'm describing is the same color as the background behind this source of the above lyrics to In the Gloaming. How odd.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:57 PM | 18 comments

Friday, August 12, 2005

Brave Little Wanderer 

A walk with Willow before bed tonight, just a quick trip down the dirt road and back on a whim. It was dusk, a light rain having cleared the humidity out of the air: we picked butter and sugar flowers, clovertops, queen anne's lace, avoided poison ivy (is that poison ivy, daddy?), and, at the corner, took a long walk through the green corn, kid on my shoulders, touching each cornsilk like it was a talisman. On the way back, she waved proudly at each passing car -- so they'll see us, Daddy!

I love my daughter more than anything, of course. More, though, I admire her. Bright, intuitive, socially adept, she's a brave little kid, one whose curiosity about where the wasps go when they disappear between the porchcracks easily overwhelms her obvious concern for their sting.

Which makes it all the more heartbreaking to hear her say that she doesn’t want me to ever go anywhere without her, ever ever ever.

Something she says a dozen times a day.

How many three year olds won’t let you run to the car for another set of groceries without full-blown leg-clinging, on the brink of an anxiety attack, and a loud insistence that she will go, absolutely has to go with you, until you have no choice but to bring her out, bare feet and all, to cut her toes on the gravel driveway? And the worst part it, I can’t say no, because I wouldn’t want me to go, either, if I were three and about to sleep in my sixth bed in as many weeks.

For all its freedom, there are times when this gypsy life feels less like an adventure and more like a terrifying ride on a runaway raft, the family clinging together in the spray. No address, no phone number, my dress shirts still in storage – I can live with this, in the name of necessity and true Zen-loving chutzpah. Though it gets scary and exhausting at times, it makes me stronger, and sometimes, I even thrive on it.

But Willow is no seasoned wanderer. She’s three. And though most of the time she's a cheerful tomboy trooper, in peripheral moments it becomes clear that Willow bears no small stress for our unsettled lives.

Most of the time, in the midst of all this, my daughter is a gem. She feeds off our optimism, and -- one hopes -- benefits from our carefully cultivated spirits of adventure; in turn, we prime the pump by asking her to consider what a good new house should have (swings, daddy!). She’s resilient, and will surely recover from this, our now-to-be-extended summer ungrounded; by the time she’s a teenager, I expect this will hardly rate mention among a thousand other transgressions, be they real or hyperbolicized.

But, though it’s hard for the three-year-old mind to understand, this rollercoaster has a long way to go before it comes to rest. Today we planned a Monday-Wednesday camping trip down to Wilbraham to look for houses early next week, hit a bank to confirm we were looking in the right price range, but we're told closing takes sixty to ninety days: it's become quite clear that we'll not make it into our new home, whichever one that is, until long after my job begins.

And we can’t commute from here to there. Yesterday Darcie sent out an email introduction to UU meeting houses and multifaith Synagogues in the area; if there's no response by next week, we'll have to pursue short-term rentals in earnest.

If Willow thinks it’s hard living in her grandparent’s house, just wait ‘til there’s four of us in a temporary bed, miles from the rest of the family, waiting out a houseclosing in a still-strange town.

Oh, how hard it is, sometimes, to realize that we’re not yet halfway home in even the best scenarios, and to not have the words to tell her.

How I wish, for her sake, that we were finally there. How I wish I just snap my fingers and make it all better. How I wish I could assure her, once and for all, that I’d always come home, and know that we both had the same picture of home in our minds when I said it.

Sleep tight, my brave little wanderer. Daddy’s here. Close your eyes and dream with me.

It won't be long now. I promise.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:31 PM | 2 comments

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Fun With Electricity 

So I’m out on the back porch reading old news -- my in-laws get the local paper secondhand from Great Grandma Edie just up the hill -- when the garden goes quiet. Too quiet.

Moments later the in-ground fountain starts back up. Inside, Darcie and her mother breathe a sigh of relief as the fans regain their whir -- when you don’t air-condition, the loss of fanage is a pretty hot deal.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the utter chaos and adventure of night-time power outages. (For the same reasons, I also like fire drills and formal events.) But daytime power loss is worse than useless. It is annoying – no landlines available, no appliances. More importantly, it can be dangerous without the fun of breaking your toe on the coffee table. Old people dying of heatstroke and defrosted fishcake are just the beginning.

Electricity is a funny thing, and not just because a short makes the cash register at 7-Eleven read THANK YOU FOR “HO”ING AT 7-GLGVGN. Case in point: When we trickle-charged the dead car battery overnight, the CD player finally spit out whatever disk it’s been gagging on since January. Unfortunately, instead of that long-missing Dolly Parton cover album I had hoped was stuck in there, it turns out to be some random top 40 compilation that could have stayed lost. And the CD player still doesn’t work

Back home, even the quickest outages cause upheaval in our AC/DC universe. For the rest of the day, clocks are off all over the house. I get duration -- boiling the egg noodles for nine minutes is no problem -- but I can’t figure out if I’m serving supper late or early. Dusk comes as a complete surprise.

Interesting, by the way, how you never notice how much time there is until it all goes kablooey. Including stove, coffeepot, and under-the-counter radio, my in-laws have three clocks in their two-wall walk-through kitchenette. I haven’t worn a watch in years, but I only ever need one to reset the wallpowered world outside.

And speaking of the world outside: according to the local paper, some 4000 people in a nearby town lost power the other day when a squirrel got caught between two power lines. Ah, local news. Don't tell the terrorists; they'll get ideas.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:04 PM | 1 comments

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Summertime 

That would be the Will Smith version, though the living is easy.

One of the last lazy days of rural-life summer, too hot and muggy for real pursuits. Tag on the lawn and a short trip to the farmstand for coffee were the high points of the day. Willow looked so cute, barefoot and towheaded, shirtless in her denim overalls, a long limp bundle of carrot greens over her shoulder. I even gave her a ride home in the back of the trash wagon once the garbagemen had come and gone.

Oh, and I finished Harry Potter. Took me under four hours total, but I'd ask for 'em back if I thought I could get 'em.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:44 PM | 2 comments

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Podded Classroom 

Just heard on local radio-fave The River that MAT alma mater Marlboro will begin podcasting all courses this fall. New offerings this year include a full-credit on best-practice online discourse management, a subject which I explored personally for my own undergraduate and thesis work and could teach with my hands behind my back. Still, wonder if they’ll let me audit something else?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:33 PM | 0 comments


Ketchup 

Now that we're even somewhat settled, and before it fades completely, a quickflash compendium of moments and motifs from our homeless summer.

All-time concert count is up to 204 after a suprisingly low-key Falcon Ridge Folk Fest. Saw much less music than usual, in part because of kid demands, and in part because the bill was overflowing with humor acts. Some ex-student-now-friends camped alongside us, which broadened the living room out a bit, too. Nothing new thrilled me, but Crooked Still, Ani and Dar were good as always. Eddie from Ohio, listing themselves as "from Ohio" due to the family-emergency loss of drummer Eddie, turn out to be much more fun with a drummer.

Of course, we go to folkfests to work as much as to frolic, but check-in isn't a hard crew. A couple of hours each day I sat under a huge tent in the thick of entryflow, checked in, chatted up, and braceleted many coolfolks, from Chris Smither to John Pousette-Dart to Julie of Eddie from Ohio. Best fest workmoments this year revolved around famous people's families: Julie's kids were hilarious, Alistair Mook's parents seemed happily befuddled, and did you know Lowen (of "and Navarro" fame) and his new wife have five eleven-year-olds between them?

Was weird to move from field to million-dollar tourist towns and quirky, spacious rental housing. But other than a heck of a lot of late afternoons rockhunting at beaches, I've already blogged the day to day stuff about our two-week on Cape Cod.

Incidentally, best fine dining on the Cape: Dennisport poshteraunt Ocean House. The duck tacos in avacado dressing and hoisin BBQ sauce are to die for, as is the unsullied waterview at dusk.

Similarly:
  • Best low-tide walking beaches are on the bayside near Dennis; best ocean-side beaches are west of Orleans, though Marconi still rocks.

  • Provincetown, Oak Bluff, and other name-brand townships have been overrun by mostly successful brandgrabbers. Head to authentic towns like Welfleet and Sandwich. Unless you like crowds and cloneshops.

  • Do boil your own lobsters. Buy pie from roadside stands, and corn when it's in season.

  • Check for ticks and poison ivy.

Of course, if you've gotta be homeless for a summer, doin' it in style helps compensate for the lack of a center. Six weeks since we lost house-and-vocation and hit the road, and we're neither exhausted nor lost. It hasn't even rained on us since that quick hilarious hour holding up the camper awning while all around us fellow campers chased their rolling tents fulltilt downhill like so many tumbleweeds.

I could go on forever, but all else is truly mundania: the dead car battery, the health insurance limbo unique to the seasonal worker between gigs, tag on the lawn at dusk with the wife and three year old, small white dog nipping at our heels. Suffice it to say, life is good. Here's hoping this warm consistent wind that wafts us gently towards the morestable future is sustainable.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:49 PM | 3 comments


Missed Media Moments 

Life may have touched down temporarily in familiar territory, but our distance from the usual world of mass culture remains vast. The in-law's dial-up speed precludes all but the most cursory boingboing and CNN updates; similarly (and with similar cause), the absence of televisionary reception here keeps us in the fog regarding the popculturally immediate. So yes, the shuttle touched down; the brits have caught a terorist or three; Paris and Nicole continue to spar in the everpresent public. But who wants to hear commentary on old news? Alas, the diaristic bent of the blog may dominate unabated for a while.

Even the world of hardcopy leaves me in the dust. Our Newsweeks and New Yorkers bounce from state to state before we get 'em, catch up to us too late for newsworthiness. Several dozen Harry Potter sightings in the middle of mulefield folk festivals, but until this morning I hadn't touched a copy. Sure, there was plenty of anticipatory press, but did I miss the media buzz post-distribution, or is the penultimate Potter so dense and awful that no one is willing to take a swing? And could it be as bad as the long-forgotten fifth installment? In the interests of science, I'll read Darcie's birthday copy tonight when the family sleeps.

In the meantime, Darcie's cake needs frosting; the baby needs bouncing; the kid calls for company in the sandbox outside. How easily family fills the media vacuum, and how happily.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:22 PM | 1 comments

Monday, August 08, 2005

A Sort Of Homecoming 

The car's still packed from today's wild ride off-Cape via a quick and fruitless househunt in Wilbraham and Belchertown. The dial-up is slow enough to keep any near-term netfodder to a minimum. Life remains a George Carlin routine.

Yet after infinite days of dissipation, how easily we fall into the evening routine: finding our mail, offering each other drinks at the dinner table, resuming the clean routine of bedtime for the one-by-one children. It's not home, of course. But it has been, over time. And it's been there forever, steady and ever-more welcoming since the day I brought my wife home to her parents, a pair of drop-outs dropping the bomb in this still-unfinished living room.

And how comfortably our stuff condenses: two cars between us for the first time in a month; our very own pillows in beds already half-sunken to our shapes. More importantly, both cat and dog rejoin us in these beds -- even now our family slumbers, complete again in ways the truly nomadic existence hardly sustains.

This will forever be the summer we drifted, a family of gypsies living everywhere and nowhere. But moving from the tourist trap mentality of summertown beachfronts to the in-laws ever-open arms, and the space they have given us as our own in the once-taboo living quarters, feels like a step towards something familiar, even cozy. When we look back at the whirlwind – a summer of uncenteredness I hope against hope will remain noteworthy for its historical singularity – we will surely think of this place as its heart.

Perhaps the turning point has passed, the yo-yo fulfilled its apex. Perhaps, with work three weeks away and an average of eight weeks from discovery to houseclose, this is but the eye of the storm. Regardless: in the midst of the whirlwind, it's nice to have a place that can be almost-home.

Nice, too, to finally catch up on the snailmail. If you'll excuse me, I have to pick my side dishes for the new faculty orientation luncheon.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:21 PM | 2 comments

Friday, August 05, 2005

Cape Cod, Continued 

Still here, and still here, blogging in haste while Darcie checks online home listings from the realtor. The kids hang back at the 1700s house with Mom, brother Jesse, his girl Jasmine, fingerpainting (naked, in Willow's case) and plotting daylong beachdates, an antidote to yesterday's touristy shopping streets of Provincetown, Monday on Martha's Vineyard, Wednesday at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History.

The balance of touristy "things to do" and moments of relaxation is a noble struggle made no easier for the broad age range and the influx of new bodies into the family unit. For every trip to Circus Smirkus, an afternoon with Mom and Willow stalking playmates at the freshwater beach and its brackish tidepools. For every gently-held moonsnail and hermit crab in the volunteer-guided touchtank at the museum, a late afternoon scrabble and grab at the real thing bayside as the tide comes in. For every hour with old college friend Dan -- now wheelchair bound, and ravaged by MS, but no less his wry ironic self after these bygone years -- in his Vineyard Haven home, another spin on the Flying Horses carousel in Oak Bluffs.

Date night with Darcie last night, a wonderful wander through the oceanside towns along the midcoast, culminating in duck tacos and lobster ravioli at candlelit nightfall, Dennisport waves crashing mere inches from our windowglass. Bought a beautiful hat for her birthday on our wanders yesterday; we'll have cake Sunday for sure.

And now the last busy days of our Cape Cod stay loom heavy before us. Cousin Jessica from Brooklyn expected to join us later today by bus; we'll grill fishmarket favorites for supper, avoid the weekend crowds. There's no "home" for us to go home to, but we'll stop off in Wilbraham for a bit more househunting on our way back to the Brattleboro in-laws on Monday.

After that? Not sure, really. Gotta find a permanent place to rest our heads soon: after all, new job begins in four weeks. Till then, we remain gypsy wanderers, hidden among the brightprint tourists. Wave if you pass, will you?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:30 AM | 7 comments
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