Monday, December 12, 2005

Chalk And Other Local Talk 

Now that permawinter seems to have arrived, how interesting to discover that the name of our new hometown, when turned upside-down, says NO SNOW.

Via the tall, chalk-on-black, freestanding and daily-changing sandwich board at the only gas station in town. Ah, small town life -- how sweet it is.

Also interesting: MassLive has forums for each town in our region. Most seem to be filled with the same old dozen-or-so, but it's a neat way to get at the town-meeting-equivalent heart of the townships in which we've landed. No comment about the average politico-social bent of the regulars, though -- you'll have to go see for yourself why I've decided not to weigh in. (Hint: the big topic in one such forum right now is a proposed boycott of stores that do not wish shoppers "Merry Christmas.")

posted by boyhowdy | 6:20 AM | 0 comments

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Warm Thoughts In Winter 

When we left Falcon Ridge Folk Festival last summer, we knew, all of us, that the Brennan farm was on the block. Rumors of miracles, sure, from the festival will buy it to the vague promise of some anonymous millionaire patroness -- we even started one, just to watch the meme pass around.

But truly, we knew there was no real hope. Farmer Bob, longtime host and loving horsecarriage restorer in the 51 week a year offseason, made less profit off us that we did; despite a loving one-week-a-year community of thousands, neither festival nor farmowner could afford to continue running such a precarious existence at the whim of rain and popular performer schedule.

All the better, then, to see that arrangements have been made for a new farm, just a few miles down the road from the old.

And an interesting subsequent experiment in community, too. Want to see what happens when, given only the address of a new site, a geocommunity with the 'net at their fingertips tackles the dilemma of "will it be like before?" Even before the first semi-official announcement, the half-confidential crew-chief messages had been leaked; soon, maps from topo to satellite had been posted in the Falcon Ridge LJ community for all to see.

If nothing else, proof that an otherwise empty field can, for so many of us, be more home than home, even over months and miles.

The skeleton of a community -- from tents and tarps to signage and soundstage -- has already been moved, waits for us through the long and snowy winter. It remains to be seen if the instinct towards recreation will result in at least some attempt to reinstate neighborhoods and geographical relationships as before, as if a new face were transplanted wholesale onto this new landscape. My guess is that human layout will end up surprisingly similar, though surely the varience of land and the novelty with which we repopulate "our" new hill will have its effect.

Can't wait 'till summer, either way. Thank God I didn't have to leave teaching, and the summeroff it includes; it just wouldn't have been the same without Falcon Ridge. So glad that now, in as many ways as possible, it will be.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:48 PM | 0 comments

Friday, December 09, 2005

My Literate Family 

The following photo & caption appeared prominently on the front page of the local section of Thursday's edition of The Republican under the headline Never Too Early.



Darcie Farber is getting her daughter, Cassia, started on reading early -- at 8 months of age. The two are going through a book in the children's room at the Palmer Public Library yesterday while waiting for Farber's other daughter, Willow, 3, who was at story time in another room.


Endless thanks to the wife for her good work each day while I earn the bacon...to the libraries and community resources which offer support, space, and stability in that work...and to photographer Mark M. Murray for making us look like such good parents.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:32 PM | 0 comments


Snow Day 

Just in time, really, and under the best possible circumstances, as snowday Fridays turn a single unexpected latesleep-and-family into a long weekend of the same.

For a while there it looked like it wouldn't happen -- it's a tough call for any district Superintendent to cancel too early, lest s/he look like an overeager mismanager when the storm turns away at the last minue, and the first flakes of this one didn't hit until 5:30 this morning, the time when the call usually gets made one way or another.

But the weather report got worse, not better, going in, and the spectre of trapped-in-school or, worse, at-fault for early dismissal slip-and-slide accidents, proved too much to resist; in the end, there was our district on the local TV station's online closure compendium; after a quick wood furnace reload, back to bed in the stilldarkness I went.

A good thing, too. By the time I finally re-awoke at 9, the fall could be measured in whippedwhite inches; by the time the three-year and I hit the sled for a quick neighborhood checkout we were slogging through eight inches of perfect fluffiness and white-out conditions. Home again after ten minutes -- I had to crawl up the slippery driveway, lugging the kid-laden sled behind me -- we were snowmen ourselves, ready for cocoa and crackers by the roaring fire.

We fired the plowguy, by the way, since it was he who had caused the iceout conditions on the driveway when he tried unsuccessfully to get his new truck up the hill. Wonderwife found another service which, for the same cost, would also shovel, salt, and sand; by the time the snow began to slow an hour ago, they had shown, cleared, smiled, and left with a check and promise of another round of salt later this afternoon, so we got that going for us.

Now the sun's come out just in time to set. We play beneath the just-decorated tree, purchased yesterday from the farm down the road and bungee-tied home with little difficulty, a strategy which the farmer himself approved of as much easier than rope, in't it? Aglow in the lights of sunset-on-snow and slowly twinkling tree, the baby practices her diphthongs ('ait? 'aight?) and the cardinal hops appreciative from feeder to feeder, the whole world bright red on white and branch like a Christmas card: The house is warm against the winterwind; the hearth is cozy as can be, and all is right with the winterworld.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:13 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Neverland Regained 

I have good news and bad news, I begin today, and sure enough, they are comfortable enough here and now to respond without pause: Save a bunch on your car insurance, Mr. F?

A shock, at first, that we still share the same buzzphrases. And the oldmind, the analytical mind, says "proof that the mediaworld is evercollapsing still? Evidence of the sheer longevity of the catchphrase in our modern culture? Perhaps the trope just resonates; perhaps the new Coke slogan contains the old?"

And that is true, I suppose, though it's been a while since I swam in the deep end of the analytical mindset.

But also true, I think to myself in the shared laughter: maybe as long as most of us still spend our hours in front of the nowscreen the culture is saturated enough for me to be both mediaphile and unparticipant, both them and not-them.

If so -- and I believe all this and more to be true, a plethora of meaning in a moment -- then it is a sign that I am of them. That I fit into their worlds, and them in mine.

We have arrived, I think. Accept, and be gladdened, and on to the lesson we go.

* * * * *

It took a while for me to adapt to the middle school mind. For months, they were little, both like and not-quite-yet the overbright high school kids I've been working with as peer and patron, guide and fellow since way back before the mind kicked into adult mode.

They can't believe I don't have television. But we can chat about music, since the names have stayed the same since I was a clubhopper wannabe in my own adolescence, hitting the Esplanade for Green Day, moshing to U2 before they went pop. We share the secrets of cyberspeech, and the gamer's delight.

It feels good to have hit my stride, and theirs; good, though it makes the teetering balance between kid-cred and peer respect among the faculty harder to have reached it; good, to look back at the day at day's end, and count the high fives, the evoked giggles, and find among them a hundred epiphanies and lessons learned for all of us, as it should be.

I tell them I still watch shows in series when they come out on DVD, choose not to let on that the real test of adulthood is having them yet not even flipping the switch for weeks, what with the wood to stack and the kids to tuck and cuddle. But here, in the classroom, we laugh, and smile knowingly, as we learn from each other.

This, too, is balance. This, too, is the wandering life. This, too, is home.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:55 PM | 3 comments

Monday, December 05, 2005

Oy Tannenbaum 


The Matzo House: So hilarious we mention it twice!


What do you get the Jewnitarians in your life for the holidays? Pretty much anything from the Chrismukkah store, an ideal first-stop resource for any and all celebrants of "the merry mish-mash holiday."

The website is hilarious; browse for a while, and check it out with the sound on so you don't miss the clips -- everything from a Dick-Dale-esque version of Hava Nagilla (from this year's exclusive purchase Meshugga Beach Party: 20 Songs of the Chosen Surfers) to Hannukah Hey Ya, which is about as hilarious as it sounds.

Then, when you've had your hilarity, buy us a copy of the Chrismukkah cookbook, so we can make our own matzo house or gefilte goose balls. Or one of several merry, mad mish-mash menorahs, from a reindeer hannukiah - so lifelike, with those candles in its antlers -- to a candle-spined godzilla with radioactive shamash-lighting breath.

Chrismukkah lasts from Dec. 25th to Jan 2 this year, so don't delay -- order your tchotchkes, yarmuclaus, menorahments and snow persons today!

Much credit for the find goes to uberspouse Darcie, who bumped into the site on a sidebar while googlesearching for "Renewal Judaism". Ironically, though, when you get to the site, it invites you to check out "Universist.org, home of the new mish-mash non-religion for the mish-mash holiday!"

posted by boyhowdy | 7:23 PM | 1 comments

Sunday, December 04, 2005

At Last, Winter 

Snow today -- not the year's first fall, but the first of any significance, fluffy and largeflaked and constant since long before kids, spouse and I awoke together on a sleepy Sunday. Our wooded landscape turns to winter before our eyes, white-on-pine and bright enough to make indoor lighting unecessary even in relative clouds.

The neighbors we have not yet met can be seen midmorning trudging uphill through the woods we share, carrying guns; we keep the animals close, just in case, though really neither dog nor cat has any interest in more than a perfunctory romp. The cat meowls accusatory from door to door as cats do when confronted with climate change, as if somewhere there was a door into summer, and, as keepers, it is our fault for not yet finding it.

The plowman calls around noon from work: can he come plow after ten p.m.? Better so than not at all, we decide, and peek out the window, where the driveway piles up to three inches of packed powder and the whiteout continues slow and steady. I move the car to the foot of the drive in preparation for tonight's John Gorka concert down Iron Horse way, add "build a gravel pull-off at the foot of the driveway" to the longterm project list: though I know it will never happen, it feels like accomplishing something merely to write it down.

Some snow poems from years past:

Deer Tonight
How Winter Come On
Words For Snow
Winter Comes To Shadow Lake
Winter Song

posted by boyhowdy | 12:47 PM | 1 comments

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Almost Blogged 

A double headache tonight, a sharp pulse through the bridge of my nose and a competitive ache over behind the temples. Makes it hard to stare at the screen for long, which is a pity, because there's so much to blog about: the Ray Lamontagne concert at Berkley last night with Dad; the difficulties of raising Jewnitarians so far from a Jewish community; the night squirrels and the backyard bard owl. Suppose it'll all have to wait until tomorrow.

Also, chickadees ate from Darcie's hand (and landed on her hat) while I was away overnight in Boston with the 'rents, but that's really her story to tell -- if the head isn't better soon, maybe I'll get her to guestblog.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:52 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Kill Your Toaster Oven 

In an innovative approach to tamping down budget-killer energy costs, school district starts charging teachers $25 fee for coffee makers, microwaves and refrigerators in classrooms and offices. Apparently, the response of some teachers in the district is along the lines of "hey, I don't charge the school for the midnight oil I burn grading papers at home."

But for me, the issue here is how the school district in question allows teachers to have such stuff in their classrooms in the first place. As last week's fire (from an illicit toaster oven) reminded me, fire codes don't allow electrical appliances in "classrooms and offices" in any of the schools I've ever taught in.

Note, too, that I'm not complaining, just marveling. After all, shouldn't student safety trump teacher convenience? Kill the fridges, folks, and forget the fee; you'll save the cash and the kids, to boot.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:16 PM | 0 comments


In Which I Refuse To Blog Right Now 

It's been a day or three, but some...stuff happened which made me start watching myself too seriously, so to clear my head I started surfing some old livejournal sites, and...well, to make a long story short I seem to have become sucked into spending most of my usual screentime staring at livejournal archives of one type or another, and now, since you are what you read (at least, I tend to absorb tonality from ear and eye, and have always assumed this is a universal phenomenon), all I can think/write in is LJ-speak.

I've started a few blogentries -- most notably, about just how long one can leave a cat-drug-in dead mole on the front stoop before the cat finally gets the idea that no, we're really not going to eat it, but thanks anyway. But they never got anywhere, since it hurts my brain to see my own writing degrade so significantly.

The literacy will return, surely. More anon, when it does. KTHANXBYE.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:09 PM | 0 comments

Monday, November 28, 2005

Story 

Funny thoughts in the yard tonight, the late fall mist melting the snow under my feet, making mud out of the leechfield.

For no reason in particular I remember that summer near Kendall Square, fake wood paneling along the walk-up walls, leaving each morning while my roommates still slept with their students, the peace of biking four blocks along the trolley tracks to work in the spotlight at the science musem, employed full-time at last and basking in the glow.

A long time ago and far away -- before cat and dog, first child and second, each in their order, each in their time. In the hiatus, as it were, the false horizon before you and I.

Since them, of course, so many hills and horizons. A dozen homes shared, with others and alone together. A hundred panic attacks averted. A thousand parallel steps down dark paths towards light, in light, giving light. A million uncertainties circumnavigated.

And now a few of them are ours, homesteaded by law, made real by paperwork and time, made possible by a single chance and an acceptance of the real change day to day, the local spotlight, the little triumphs.

Once upon a time I thought I left each day to change the universe. Once upon a time I thought home was a place to leave behind to make that difference. Once upon a time I thought I could, both leave and terraform, a little at a time, however invisibly.

Now I accept that I will change some lives, and that it's worth trying. A year is more than a day; more depth, then, and so the spotlight turns outward, radiated rather than recieved. The right kids bump knuckles with me on their way to the bus each afternoon, grin when I welcome them into school each day with coffee wave and booming voice. The ones who need answers learn to ask the right questions.

But if I have a voice again, it is because you are my breath.

Now I know that the universe could not grow without you. That somehow, with you, there is this garden, with its unseasonable shoots pushing hope, defrosting where my feet have trod.

Once upon a time when we were young we had no house, no home, no love. And you were not there in the window, nestled in new striped library chair among new dark library shelves, the stable center of the universe, our smaller one asleep in your arms.

Oh! you change the world more than I, in these tiny lives, and mine besides. And lo, where once was jealousy, a garden grows.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:36 PM | 0 comments


Hi, Kids! 

Now that my middle schoolers have discovered this blog*, a few reminders to all readers, especially the young'uns:
  1. Yes, I am aware that the thin line between the RL me and the virtual me is not only thin but reasonably transparent. As a professional role model (like it or not, welcome to teaching, etc.), I feel better about the possibility that you might see a full, complete me, and about the trust that can arise from that revelation, than I feel about the alternate "double life" mode of teaching/living. I give access to my inner life (well, some of it) because I believe that you learn more about our shared subject this way, but also because I believe the resultant potential for trust is both healthier for me and healthier for us. Please try to reciprocate that trust, eh?


  2. Yes, if you know me IRL (in real life, n00b), it can be weird to discover that I have a personal life -- and that it is as oddly populated as your own. But that last part is vital. Judge not, lest ye be etc.


  3. Remember: context is king. Those who decide to make blanket judgements on me based on, say, a single entry (of a total of 1384 over three years!) should see me after class for a short discussion on a) how disappointed I am that you have not really made the connection yet between the stuff we've been discussing in class and the fact that I have revealed myself in this manner, and b) how our school expectations of respect extend to the fact of giving people the benefit of the doubt, and giving them your full attention, even if that means reserving judgement until you've gathered more context.


  4. Remember: context is king. This is not your classroom, nor is it mine. The standards are different, and though you're welcome to visit, this is not -- ever -- "what you did in school today." Please respect that, as well.


  5. Remember: context is king. In this case, that extends to the fact that some non-digigen folks who might, say, have some modicum of authority over me IRL know logs not as the useful tools we might find them, but as scary half-mythical places wherein I might better masquerade as a 14 year old girl to lure you into my axe-murderer web. I'm not asking you to keep secrets -- just to be honest and respectful of all of us, and recognize that, to those who haven't yet seen what a blog can do, what we're doing here is a risk, and on my shoulders, to boot.


  6. If you are one of my students, realize that you earned this space. Two months ago when we met, most of you didn't have the google-skillz to follow up on the above-and-below-noted halfhint. That you could find your way here so easily is a triumph for both of us. Nice work, kids. Keep it up, keep plugging away with respect and deliberation, and the world will be yours.

*okay, technically, I led them halfway to it in the context of a discussion about the ways in which the online world raises new and interesting issues of identity, presence, and power dynamics, which in turn was prompted by an especially bright student pushing me to reconnect a tangential discussion about the ways in which formal writing is anathema to the digital generation, and hence how v oice and authorship issues can seem more difficult yet ironically become more vital to understand on an explicit level, but you know what I mean.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:14 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Kid Randomalia 

Realizing I've had a lot to say about the kids in the past few posts, but what can I say -- five days at home in the boonies and there's not much else but chores and family to fill the void. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I love the little tykes; they keep it all so real...

Why, just this evening precocious three-year-old Willow reminded me not to take seemingly simple answers for granted. Note to self: though surely "playing doctor" won't have the sexual component for a while, accepting this as a decent no-check-up response to what are you doing, Willow? may result in such odd follow-up as trying to wipe an entire tin of mint lip balm from a plastic babydoll while apologizing to Mama for not realizing the kid was using all the balm in the first place.

Then there's the baby, who wows the crowds at the local crafts fair and, like her sister before her, never cries in public. Surely the universe will forgive me for repeating, smugly and ad infinitum, the phrase yes, and she's homemade, too! when folks cooed from behind their crafttables (given the venue, it just seemed so situationally relevant).

Incidentally, I discovered something interesting today: roughly 100% of all middle-aged women will say hi! in response to my cue to the baby to say hi! to them. If this suggestability could be harnessed, we'd have childcare for eternity. (100% of respondents also get lightly embarassed when you respond not you, the baby!, by the way. Note to self: we plan to live here forever; less smarmy responses will likely result in better community relations.)

Speaking of speaking: for a while there, it looked like Da Da was going to be baby Cassia's second word. Three days later, though she still waves back to me when I come around the corner (hi da da!), she also utilizes the noise for such diverse iterations as doggie hellos, foodfightin' words, and, syllabic ad infinitum, mere skybabbling. Turns out d is merely her first consonant, da her second syllable. First step: trying to wean her off calling her Mama da da da. Alternate possibility: rename the universe. Nothing's too good for my wee ones, after all.

Back home, we're still negotiating the right family balance between the increasingly crawlmobile baby and the three-year-old tendency -- until recently entirely acceptable -- to leave smalltoys scattered across communal playareas. No small objects swallowed yet, but it seems just a matter of time. Note to self: mapquest nearest ER ASAP, just in case.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:53 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Fun With Telemarketing 

Buy a new house on the usual 30-year plan and -- regardless of actual finances -- you're suddenly seen as solvent, a newly minted sucker, name re-entered in some prolifically-utilized database intimately known to the world of phone salespersons.

To be fair, telemarketing isn't always a no-win. Though most calls are instantly rejectable, those who keep their wits about them can indeed find gems among the coldcall chaff. Next week's delivery of a deep freeze full of farm-raised meat no more expensive (and much more conveniently packaged and delivered) than our usual half-year ration stands as testament to the truism that the market for every real product there is a genuinely appropriate consumer, so why go looking when it will come to you?

But it's the entertainment value of the average telemarketing call that keeps us from decrying the twice-nightly interruption. Explaining to telemarketers that their products just aren't compatible with our lifesyle leaves the good ones impressed with us, and lends us no end of ego-highs. The ubiquitous dish-network sales pitch, especially, never fails to amuse; though it takes a while for callers to get the idea that we neither have nor desire television service of any type, it's quite probably educational to that heavily-accented guy in some Indian call center to learn that the American stereotype of the media-drunk consumer is indeed a stereotype.

This was even more effective when we lived in the dorm, of course -- explaining to mortgage sales folks that we had no such beast and paid no rent left them startled and us grinning as we hung up the phone. But I can still reject newsdelivery service by pointing to my library responsibilities (how about free -- can you beat free?).

More generally, sharing our satisfaction with our lifestyle choices, from insurer to childrearing proactivity, helps spread the word to telemarketers that the one-size-fits-all pitch is incompatible with the self-driven age of infinite choice and empowerment.

Why bother registering yourself in the national do not call database? Embrace the hilarity of the whole shebang, from pitch and script to the marketer's shiftnumb mindset. It's educational, self-serving, and occasionally brings in the commercial products you actually desire. You'll never need television again.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:29 PM | 1 comments

Friday, November 25, 2005

When Black Friday Comes I'lll Be On That Hill... 

Tired of slogging through horror stories about the national post-Thanksgiving shopping spree? Visit retail-slave horror-story cache Customers Suck for the perfect behind-the counter anecdote. I mean antidote.

And don't worry -- the real news is bound to return tomorrow. Frenzied Friday aside, a month of shopping can't possibly stay page one for long, can it?

We avoided the mall today, choosing instead to finish cleaning up from last night's turkey feed, and help Willow put up and decorate her tinytree in the bay window. Especially nice to lie in front of the roaring fire in the otherwise-darkness and snuggle with the girls under the twinkling tree to the Windham Hill sounds of Christmas. This year's hot item in the boyhowdy homestead: family.




Update 9:28 am 11/26/05: In an interesting turn of media coincidence, the CNN headline story that replaced yesterday's shopping slam report is accompanied by essentially interchangable imagery. To wit:


Like Friday's shoppers, some Palestinians lined up as early as 6 hours before the gates opened.

Note to Palestinians pushing into Gaza: due to CNN's choice of imagery, to American eyes, your plight may forever be trivialized by an unfortunate resonance with our crassest of commercial instincts.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:28 PM | 2 comments

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Ten Worse Toys 

Though a few playthings in current commercial release are indeed unsafe for children (choking hazards are no laughing matter), most of the toys on the World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) 2005 "10 Worst Toys" List are hardly dangerous, save in the kind of hyper-anxious, absentee-parent scenarios which only ambulance-chasers and other WATCH-ilk can envision.

As such and as always, the PC silliness of such listitems is easily lampooned, so I won't bother trying to reinvent the whee.

More seriously, though, the WATCHlist is moot. As a proud non-popcult-purchasing parent of two wee ones, I can assure you that the really dangerous toys never make the list.

In the spirit of the (advice)giving season, then, and in order to truly protect those who would be giftgivers, we here at Not All Who Wander are proud to present the first annual Top Ten Worse Toylist (pat. pending, all rights reserved, et al etc.)...


  1. Anything from a McDonalds happy meal. The pincher guy from some animated show you've never heard of. A hundred tiny parts between the carseats. A tiny pseudobook for a kid that can't read yet. Once, a ragged piece of unidentified yellow plastic.


  2. Shoes. Where her big sister wastes her own oral fixation on kissing burninghot cake pans (long story), baby Cassia shoots right for the nearest pair of shoes, regardless of ownership or, indeed, whether someone is wearing them. Please wipe your feet; the baby is teething.

  3. Paperback books. Her second favorite chewtoy. On the list for both their tasty fragility and their heft; held above the head, they're liable to go bonk on a prone infant's nose at a moment's notice, and then it's your fault. How do they get on the floor, anyway?


  4. Magnets. Fun be damned -- in a world of portable hard drives, it becomes necessary to call for a total moratorium on all magnetic kid's toys, from magnetic fishing pole games to those damn refrigerator magnets. The science lessons can wait until middle school or Daddy gets his own office, whichever comes first.


  5. The dog. She wants to play, but rub her belly in the wrong spot and she just can't help that paw to the face. Plus, no creature who growls when you approach her food should be trusted with children who can't eat solids yet themselves yet remain about as mobile as possible.


  6. The cat's tail. It goes without saying. So do the retaliatory claws.


  7. Daddy's hair. The infant pulls it. The three year old bites it. Sacrificing the beltline-length Samson locks merely to avoid changing table disasters turns out to have been especially prescient, albeit not going far enough.


  8. Sugar. While technically not a toy, often a gift-substitute, especially from people who ought to know better, including random strangers with the best of intentions. Thanks for cranking up my kid to crashing point and then leaving us to deal with the fall out.


  9. That Lamaze-type baby toy we bought secondhand from that place in Northampton. A colorful horse swings up and down atop a suction cup base, which seems totally innocuous until the baby gets her finger caught between the horse and the sidestruts on the upswing. Worse: in her struggle to get free, baby puts pressure on the horsie from above with her other hand, compounding the pinch.


  10. A stick. Willow, put down the stick. Please. You'll hurt yourself, sweetie. No, I don't think Cassia wants it either. Put it down, please. Put down the stick. Put down the stick. Put it down. Now. That's it -- if you don't stop waving the stick at your sister we're going home right this minute. One...two...Are you listening to me?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:17 PM | 1 comments

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Happy Bloggiversary To Me 

I've never written a post that was picked up by the bloggiverse at large; never been origin for virus or vision, though I have been among the earliest to note numerous memes before they hit critical mass.

Been recipro-linked plenty of times, I suppose, and by several that I admire. Was recognized by a few at BloggerCon2.

But that was never the point.

Three years, and my written voice has become that much more polished through the exercise. Three years of externalization, and I understand the inner workings of myself so much better. Three years and my understanding of the world has expanded immesurably. Three years, and a dozen friends, virtual and real, both refound and newly made, for each.

The space which blogger has provided me -- however frustrating in the early stages of the technology -- has helped me become who I can be, and know myself in the universe.

It is no longer impossible to say just what I mean -- and though it remains really, really difficult, I have learned to appreciate that difficulty as both the high stakes and the evidential proof of making sense in a world of insanity, for what value meaning it if comes so cheaply?

And, best of all, I've got three years of logged life to remind me how we got where we've gotten to, and show the kids one day.

It's been three years to the day since I began blogging. Three years, almost 1400 posts, and fast approaching a half a million words.

So I got that going for me.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:51 AM | 3 comments

Monday, November 21, 2005

Baby Mine 

Up late with the peanut last night -- she had unconsolable gas, and for some reason insisted that I handle it. I kept trying to hand her back to her mother, but she just screamed and reached for Daddy. The only way to keep her calm was to bounce her gently, one hand on her tiny diapered butt, in front of the mirror. By the time we finally made it to bed, she had burped hundreds of times, and seemed very well acquainted with that other baby on the other side of the glass.

Weird that she chose last night of all times to become Daddy's little girl, though I'm honored nonetheless. 7 months is early for a kid to reject her mom under in-pain conditions; though Mom appreciated the extra sleep, she's not the one who has to get up in the still-darkness every morning to be in a classroom two towns over by 7:30.

But that she surprises us is no longer a surprise, I guess. Ever since she pulled the oxygen tube away from her own mouth in the delivery room, we knew we had a strong and independent thinker on our hands.

My little redhead is a handful sometimes. At 15% weight for her peer group she's tiny, but stronger than the average 7 month old; she can scoot around corners and out of sight like you'd never believe, though she's not technically crawling yet. She gets set off by her sister's tantrums, making it that much more difficult to calm down the household. Given time and space she gravitates unerringly towards the least appropriate floor-object, from lint to dog hair, with total disregard for the usual qualities (shininess, bright color) which make tiny objects attractive to babies. Given her druthers, she'd rather eat a shoe than anything else.

But she shares her pacifier, stuffing it into Daddy's mouth in some early instinct towards generosity. She kicks and giggles when we dance together, holding her hand in mine ballroom-style or looking out at the world from above my belly, laughing with glee as her sister's hair comes by in a whirl. She can stare at a fire with the wisest of meditative ones, is awed into silence by radio voices. She settles easily, eats everything so far save sweet potatoes, appreciates tickles and attention more than most.

Her first word is "hi," just like her Daddy's was. And she smiles -- wide, crinkly, and sweet -- a hundred times more than she cries. I've never been so happy to be a father of daughters than in those rare moments, like yesterday's woods exploration, when the two of them grin at us, and at each other, as if sharing a secret joy with the world.

That said, giving up two hours to stare at my blurry self instead of sleeping has made for a pretty cloudy morning. Even a half hour standing out in the cold with my homeroom while the fire trucks came to confiscate some teacher's toaster oven wasn't enough to reach full consciousness. Thank goodness for a shortened week. Nice, too, to have the extra days with the wee ones, some time to grow closer still as the world outside gets colder.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:48 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, November 17, 2005

How Not To Blog 

No worries that the home computer is still FUBAR -- I've developed a foolproof working method of blogging sans working technology that seems to be working out great! Here's how it works:

First, whenever you get a bloggable idea, concentrate on it so it won't go away. Concentrate hard, to the entire detriment of anything happening around you, for as long as necessary to commit the raw material to memory. (Hint: You'll know you're doing it right if you call your child by the dog's name. Experts may find themselves passing cop cars on the right while using this blogging method.)

Second, the next time you encounter a scrap of paper, index card, or spare bit of space on the back of your hand, write the by-now totally crystallized blogfodder down in shortform. Later, you'll find these pieces of paper totally unreadable (rev blu @ F? What the heck was that supposed to mean?).

Assuming you find them at all.

Helpful tip: don't forget to remove these index cards from your pockets before putting the jeans in the wash, as a) this method of blogging is much more effective when your blog entries accumulate on top of the dryer, and b) explaining to your wife that regularly replacing the dryer hose will be a necessary albeit expensive aspect of your newfound, easy-to-handle bloglife is only likely to cause subsequent [finish sentence].
  • (You'll note, by the way, that this method not only saves time and stress while computing, it also helps organize the way you think and write, causing all future blogentires to be especially linear and clear. Guess practice makes perfect!)

(Note to self: should that last paragraph be italicized? Where does spellcheck fit in all this? Also, say something about backdating entries before piblishing.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:05 AM | 1 comments

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Claim To Fame 

Because sometimes you just need to remind yourself how much you rock. In roughly chronological order.


I was a street urchin in the original Boston Christmas Revels, and a wharf-rat kid in the original Boston Sea Revels.

I played Peter in the Boston Children's Theater run of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

As Lord Admiral Sir Nelson Drake Victory, I was directed by James Ivory in his first theatrical production, the Peter Maxwell-Davies opera Cinderella.

With the help of Tom Bergeron, I once interviewed Jon Cryer for Boston CBS affiliate WBZ.

My naive paean to divorce was published in the very first issue of Teen Ink.

As a sophomore, I was the lead in the Newton North presentation of Pippin.

I studied poetry under John Ashbury, Robert Kelly, and Joan Retallack at Bard College.

I was "the lightning guy" at the Boston Museum of Science.

As part of folkrock trio Not Earthshaking, I played a headliner set in the Hard Rock Cafe Boston surrounded by the same Liverpool bricks which housed the early Beatles.

I share a songwriting credit on Boston folk artist PJ Shapiro's first CD.

For three years, I held the record for the highest writing placement score in the history of Marlboro College.

I was the first undergrad to have work published in Kairos, a Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy.

I have been a guest speaker, panelist, workshop presenter and seminar lecturer on the subject of technology and media pedagogy at colleges, conferences, and classrooms across the globe, from MIT to Dhaka, Bangladesh.

I am the best damn Daddy in the universe.


What's your claim to fame?

posted by boyhowdy | 8:16 AM | 3 comments

Monday, November 14, 2005

Word Problems in Exurbiana 

One unseasonably warm long weekend
+ $650 in bright orange Home Depot giftcards recieved for buying a new home through a Lending Tree-recommended agent
= All the tools needed to produce one finally-deleafed front yard

Two days dangling a leafblower
+ Not enough rest breaks
= Ten numb fingertips and a hand that won't grasp properly

One stay-at-home spouse
- One teething infant
= Ten days to put up two roomsful of Ikea shelving, subdivide and reorganize the basement into a combination play/craftspace

Two roomsful of shelving
+ Time to finally unpack and organize a dozen bookboxes
= Plenty of newly revealed carpetspace

Three consecutive days home
+ One precocious three-year-old
= Daddy, do you still go to work?

posted by boyhowdy | 8:15 AM | 2 comments
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