Sunday, July 16, 2006

In From The Fields (But Not For Long) 

Being a quick entry in the midst of a two-week volunteer gig which will otherwise keep me from blogging, as there ain't no net access in a New York cowfield.


Back under our own real roof for the afternoon and into tomorrow morning, but then we're off again for the wonder that is Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in all its thronging glory, and I can't wait to get back home.

Wednesday night we arrived in a rainstorm as the sun was going down, no one on site yet, but it had been a hell of a trip, what with picking up the picket fence, the total lack of RV batteries at any of three Wal-Marts, and a lost windshield wiper around Springfield.

The fields were muddy and bare, but the farmers were cool, and we bedded down along the road just inside the irrigation ditch to wait out the storm.

By morning there would be a few familiar faces, mostly those at the very core of executive function, there in their jeans and grubby tee shirts, building bridges down by the vendor rows, along nothing but open fields beside.

By the next day, there were twenty crewmen, staking out spots along the meager shade of the lowest treeline. Tents arose from the ground like mushrooms, white hats along the lowest field a skelleton of the festival to come: two on Thursday turning to the full dozen or more stages and stations by end of day Friday.

By Saturday, the tents were wired, and the staff kitchen opened for business. We staked a spot up on the hill along the outer edge of mainstage seating, where we may not have the best view, but we'll always have the closest safe haven from sun and crowd. At Parking John's demand we moved the volunteer camping line out fifty feet under our own toes, putting us smack dab in the edge of handicapped camping (we've promised to limp, if needed).

That night -- last night -- the staff tent was alive and boistrous in the dark, hard drinking and laughter around an ongoing fiddle-and-bass jam and singalong, until long after midnight.

In amidst all this I made it down the road apiece to Grey Fox a couple of times, where we chairhopped around the first few mainstage rows while all around us drunkards roared in the dark, and I fell in love with yet another couple of young, energetic bluegrass boybands; had dinner with my parents; found our camping buddy Dave and spent a hundred hours just sitting around smoking under the stars with the good old crowd.

Oh, and Willow made a dozen new friends, found older kids to watch and wonder at, had a birthday party in the field, with all the site crew kids whacking away at the pinata.

We've been living in the field, watching the community build slowly around us for four nights, and I miss it. The girls love living in the open; they're easier to watch outdoors; they cried when we left, and I'm glad to be able to give them back the land they love tomorrow.

Thanks God for Falcon Ridge, and the organic homegrown community that we rebuild every year, for it is my oasis, my mecca, my summer's peak. Thanks, God, for a family that loves the land and the people and the spirit as much as I do. And thank God we're going back in less than twelve hours.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:41 PM | 1 comments

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

And We're Off! 




Hello, you've reached Not All Who Wander Are Lost. We can't come to the blog right now...because there's no internet in this big open field.



We're folking out at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (with an early sidetrip here).

Plans include much music, serious relaxation, beer and grub, and the usual chaos that comes of living in an open field with two kids, old friends, and thousands of folkies. See below entries for details.

Other than a quick stopover at home on the 16th, I'll be on a blog hiatus until July 24. Falcon Ridge, here we come!

posted by boyhowdy | 1:00 PM | 2 comments

Monday, July 10, 2006

My Strange (Fasci)Nation 

Been checking out folk musician websites overnight, trying to make some preliminary don't-miss wishlists as we move ever closer to our annual pilgrimage to Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.

So far, previously-unknown Jason Spooner and festival (and personal) fave Susan Werner seem to be standing out from the crowd. Here's a track each from their websites; I especially recommend Werner's wryly liberal yet truly majestic ode to this good old country, sure to be a festival fave.

Susan Werner Mp3: My Strange Nation
Jason Spooner Mp3: Big Black Hole

We don't go for the music, of course -- we're true folk communityheads in the howdy clan -- but the workshop stage tends to bring together otherwise-unheard of performer combos. Past years have brought everything from a Moxy Fruvous and Eddie From Ohio lovefest to some of the most amazing impromptu triple banjo sessions ever imagined. Planning ahead makes it possible to make my volunteer schedule quickly, if nothing else. Plus, it's nice to know what the soundtrack might be.

Of course perennial festfaves EFO, John Gorka, Eliza Gilkyson and Shawn Colvin and many other wonderful singer-songwriters will draw me and others to the mainstage, and I'm very much looking forward to a few kidtent sets with the girls: The Nields, and an out-of-retirement David Massengil especially.

The weekend's schedule isn't up yet, but if you want to take a gander at the list of performers, check it out. Maybe we'll see you there.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:48 PM | 1 comments


Fish Story 

Father's day the kids woke me up with a telescoping flyrod; yesterday, we gave elderchild Willow her birthday present early so she'd have her own pole, and the two of us headed out through the woods, just three houses down an overgrown path, to a greenspot where the stream hits the dam backwash.

And so we learned to cast, that shade moves with the sun, how a barbed hook works, and why. We ate crackers, shared an apple, and two tiny fish later -- the world's smallest largemouth and a four-inch sunfish, if you're keeping score -- we decided to call it a morning.

A nice afternoon on a shady summer riverbank, teaching patience, enjoying the day. So what if Willow's most memorable moment involved the dubious phrase Daddy, fishing is really boring, isn't it? According to my list of father-daughter goals, we're right on schedule.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:58 PM | 3 comments

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Continuing Developments 



Dodd's Farm: new FRFF Folk Fest site, new home away from home.


An explosion of recurrence today, starting with an in-and-out prep of the camper, immediately followed by shopping for low-backed chairs, plastic dishes, and campsite furnishings for our annual pilgrimage to Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.

This is our seventh year so preparing, and though the site has changed (see above), by now we know what we want to build, how we prefer to frame our summer's peak. Darcie said it pretty clearly: she goes to these festivals to plan and then build the campsite -- she lives, in other words, to be the camp Mama, just as I live 51 weeks each year to arrive at an empty hayfield a week before the gates officially open, feel a community build around me, and then to live it out while it lasts with all my heart and body.

Supper we tested the camper grill -- hamburgers and a wonderful potato gratin thing Darcie learned from her papa, all foil-steamed and bleu-cheesed up. Even the fridge is working after three years out of the running.


The oddness of universal cyclicality struck again after supper with a familiar horror when the baby got her finger stuck in the shower drain this evening, just like her Sister did back in March:

Tonight out of the din that is two kids and company one of those present-tense parenting moments: a sudden screaming around the corner and I'm sprinting around the kitchen island like slow motion and into the bathroom and there in the shower my little girl is standing shaking shrieking all alone behind the frosted glass and honey what's the matter O my god she's (Darcie!) bleeding really badly o my god o baby (Darcie! Come quick!) oh baby it's going to be okay and Daddy I was stuck in the DRAIN...

Luckily, Mama was in the shower with the kid this time around, and was quick enough to pour shampoo on, lubrication enough to get her free with a minimum of finger fleshtearing.

It's bad-looking nonetheless, and no less so for the much younger self and much smaller finger that suffered this time around. But she's resilient and independent kid, that little one; she wouldn't take anyone but daddy, stopped crying in less than ten minutes, and pulled off every bandage and wrap we tried just for the sheer mobility of it.


After the kids went to bed I tried downloading some music, but the hard drive was full, so I went about digging through the old files, looking for trashables. Came across my inbox archive from my last year of college, and have now spent a delightful hour marvelng at what was on my mind a decade ago.

Revolting how careless I was in my online writing back then. But then, astounding to see how much my online voice, my online self have evolved. Surely the two are related, the lack of care given to the language a function of both discomfort and lack of practice, two sides of the online persona coin.

Good bookfodder, that. Gels well with the intro to John Seabrook's Deeper: My Two Year Oddysey in Cyberspace, published in the same year, 1997, back when the Internet was new, and not yet mutually symbiotic with our meatspace, and not yet so much a part of us:

An on-line home, on the other hand, seemed more like a little hole you drilled in a wall of your real home to let the world in....an online home built for solitude didn't quite make sense, maybe because people tended to be alone while they sat in front of their screens. In going on-line, you made some of your personal space available to other people.

Ah yes. Back when the online world was built for solitude. Back when the space of the web was borrowed personal space, not yet a public entity in and of itself. And of course what was true for the culture was true for the individual; Neil Postman (The Medium Is The Mind), and before him Marshall McLuhan (The Medium Is The Message), would have had it no differently. But we can rebuild it; we have the technology, indeed.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:49 PM | 0 comments

Friday, July 07, 2006

Six Adages: Boring But True 

Dirt Breeds Dirt

Two Daughters Separately Are More Apt To Impress Than Two Sisters Together

If The Hose Can't Reach, Don't Park The Camper There

A Day Without Shoes Is A Day Of Abnormally Severe Pants Cuff Stress, A Sick Day, Or Both

Reading Somewhere About Putting Clear Packing Tape On Your iPod To Protect The Surface Won't Keep It From Getting Scratched Until You Actually Put The Packing Tape On

You Can't Mow Everywhere

posted by boyhowdy | 10:19 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Between The Lines: Two Sonnets and a Zen Affirmation Poem 

The Smith College Japanese Teahut Produced five or six full sonnets and some fragments over the bookwriting weekend, mostly in order to keep the fingers flying even when my mind needed a break from trying to generate a chapter and then some in only 72 hours (and during a heatwave).

Call 'em the Smith College Sonnets, though not all come in at 14 lines. I've included three here, just for fun. Each was produced in less than twenty minutes; all need work, though the Zen Affirmation poem seems complete somehow -- it captures the duality of the writing moment, perhaps. Comments more than welcome.


Smith College Sonnet #1

I am looking for a place to write this poem
In the shade of the trees by the circular pond.

The teahouse gazebo is occupied
By a pair of Smith students in stereotype,
Chunky, and with the same black stringy hair.

Here there is a wildflower garden
in someone’s memory, with two bridges
to go across the marshy streamlet
and back again, while admiring the swamplillies.

In the lake, the ducks dive and disappear
In sequence like synchronized swimmers
Besequined in a cinematic musical number.

They are gone a long time.
It feels like they will never come up.




Smith College Sonnet #4

Just now the pagoda was empty, only when I came closer
This couple came out of nowhere and sat down.
Now I’m sitting on a rock by the water.
My back hurts, and my brain is a little fried
From too many blocks walked in the heat
Wearing long pants. My underwear is cutting into me.
They have a picnic in paper bags. I hate them.

I’ve got to stop trying to say what the book is about
And let the book be about what it is going to be about.

I’ve got to stop making excuses, and write.

Down along the bank, a dog is swimming
Somewhere I can't see through the grasses
A man throws the ball into the water again and again
I can hear his voice come back off the water.



3. Zen Affirmation Poem
(written in the Japanese garden, Smith College, July 3, 2006)


I am one with the ripples
That spread from those rising bubbles
Over there. Maybe there's a fish.

It’s easy to say “ignore the mosquitoes”
But one just bit me.
Maybe to truly ignore the mosquitoes
Is to miss out on the pleasure of squishing them
Against your arm.

These frogs are really goddamn loud.
Huge, too. They jump all over each other.

Put something beautiful here
About how the heron flies so effortlessly,
Or something.

A thought: I come with room to grow,
a medium coffee in a large cup.

Also, people keep walking by with bathing suits on.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:50 PM | 0 comments


Wandering In
Blogentry #1600 

I'm afraid to take a look at what I wrote last weekend. 24 pages, you'd think some of it might be good, but the generative writing's only the tiniest sliver of making sense of it all, and do I have it in me to weave something so grand out of the world, after years struggling with vignettes, mere moments of an ongoing life?

Sometimes late at night, after the world has gone to sleep, I sit by myself in the dark, and play plaintive voices accompanied by quiet guitars, and let myself get sad about things, without really thinking about any one thing in particular, just the whole damn overwhelming wash of it all, entropic, like a watch you took apart when you were a kid, and now every time you go to fix it, it's just gotten worse.

It's good to sit and be sad, I think -- cathartic, cleansing. Just not too often. Say, a couple of dozen times over a four year run, which isn't bad for 1600 entries on the nose. Happy anniversary, blog.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:02 AM | 1 comments

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Forth 

Hot, but we marched up and down the parade route anyway, first to line up with the library ladies, then back down into town through hundreds of cheering faces, with the kids on wheels, in our firefly shirts.

After the last marching band passed through the streets filled behind it like a zipper closing; you could see it on the hill, this mass of overheated, semi-patriotic humanity, closing in on you, sweaty and eager for hot dogs and beer.

Now it's hours past their bedtime, after a long slow evening of grilling, goats and glowsticks on the top of a cleared hill, admiring the sunset while we slurped our ice cream.

Once the sky has stopped cracking, the hills grow dark again. Porch lights flicker out, leaving only the fireflies, blinking furtively among the trees, for illumination.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:55 PM | 0 comments

Monday, July 03, 2006

This Is Writing, Too, Isn't It? 

Spotted in Northampton today: a handwritten sign informing passersby that prenatal yoga is cancelled pending increased enrollment. If you're planning on conceiving sometime very soon, stop by -- they're right next to Haymarket, and they really need some business.

Also spotted a guy carrying an old boombox blaring the Spice Girls. He was singing along loudly, and getting some pretty strange looks from the lesbians, freaks, hipsters, hippies, and all the rest of this town's overwhelmingly countercultural population as he passed through. Guess it takes all types.

Not spotted: information on how, or indeed whether, 'hamp celebrates the 4th. I know the Pride Parade is the big event around here, but c'mon, folks, acts of patriotism must include dissenters and activists, too, lest we abdicate our voices altogether, and end up powerless and impotent, speaking always to the choir.

Since the bookfodder has hit its twentieth page (twelve point Times New Roman, single-spaced), and I've become overwhelmed by the struggle to figure out how and whether to fit later events into the narrative as I write, I'm thinking I'll have Darcie and the kids pick me up this evening, instead of tomorrow as previously discussed. I need hard copy, damnit, and a floor to spread it out upon. And I wouldn't want Willow to miss her chance to march in the Monson 4th of July parade with the librarians.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:15 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Writing Life 

Spent a few hours here and there writing, first in the dorm room and then, due to a severe lack of caffeine, in Haymarket, where I had the first coffee of the day and a beautiful omelet made with fresh mozzarella and herbs. Followed this with more writing, this time down by the river hidden in a bus-stop like structure deep in the wooded environs of the Smith College Japanese Gardens. Then it was too hot, so I lay down and read an old Dick Francis book I picked up in the used bookstore in town yesterday to clear my head while the laptop batteries charged.

The heat makes difficult to begin again, so I thought I'd sweat my way down to the Northampton coffeeshops again in a few to post a blogentry – yes, and now you’re soaking in it – as the Smith wireless is password-protected. Free wifi is such a wonderful thing. Pity one has to go to town to enjoy it. Now I'm back in Haymarket after an hour's worth of in-town snacking: pizza here, a coffee there. It’s supposed to rain violently soon, but so far, the weather is just oppressive, and the sun shines through large breaks in the cloudcover.

Note to self: next time you do this, bring shorts.

Decided to include small vignettes about where I'm writing in the book itself, to lend the immediacy of writing it to the subject of writing the self through blogs, and what kind of self could emerge, given the particular self writing, and the situations in which I have found myself.

Still trying to say that last bit better, though. Right now, describing what this book is (and what it is not) takes up a good three pages, when I’d like to think it should be evident from the writing.

Overall, I have managed to produce over 6,000 words, 15-plus pages of mishmashed paragraphs in some rough semblance of order, though it’s increasingly looking like they span the first several chapters. At this point, I can feel myself reaching a point where I won’t be able to do much more in the generative sense, not without a printer and red pen at my disposal. If this is it, I suppose – if the rest of the weekend is a total wash, and I end up fudging with the words rather than writing them – it will still be enough.

Have successfully avoided writing anything from the second half of the book – the second child, the loss of job, the summer of homelessness, settling into the new home and vocation. Those readers whose lives are inexorably, unavoidably intertwined with my own need not yet be concerned about their own recent lives, and how they might look on paper. After all, the goal today and tomorrow is to crank out a single chapter, that it and an outline might be sent to an agent as yet unchosen and unpursued.

But writing constantly does not always allow me to choose my subject, and the way I write doesn't always let me put aside the voices without running the risk of losing them. Soon, too soon, it will be write it or lose it. Soon I will have to write some of it, if only because if I am to continue to write, I will need to write about something; if only because writing it is the only way to ensure that it doesn't go in the first chapter, even if that's only to create a bookend for later.

I'll try to be kind, but I also need to be comprehensive and honest.

The storm is coming, or so the paper says. Outisde, the sky grows grey with clouds again.

posted by boyhowdy | 5:26 PM | 3 comments

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Booking It 

Started the book this afternoon on a bench just outside the Smith College botanical gardens, under the bronzed gaze of some turn-of-the-century alum who went on to do great things, such as donate serious cash to the fledgling university. Typically, what I found myself writing about was the act of writing what I was writing about.

I'm staying in Mom's generously donated, dorm-furnished room over at the graduate school of social work, hers to use or lend while she teaches her summer course in Couples Therapy but generally vacant save on Tuesdays, when she's up to teach ehr class. The building, a converted homestead mere steps away from the president's house, is deserted, so I've no excuse to write save writer's block, and the lure of Northampton nearby.

So, of course, an hour after I started, I'm already in Haymarket in town, finishing off an espresso milkshake while I take advantage of the free wifi.

I'll be in Northampton until Tuesday, carless and on my own, while the wife and kids laze in the sun up north in Brattleboro, at her parents' house. Trying to get past the temptation to churn out notes, and a few pages of half-alive, almost-false starts. Wish me luck.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:52 PM | 1 comments

Friday, June 30, 2006

Wandering Off 

Fireworks in town tonight but we're not going, mostly because parking and other event dynamics wouldn't make it possible to slip out easily if the loud noise and smoke turned out to terrify the tots.

We had considered a trip to Westview Farms, the petting zoo and creamery up the mountain, where the fireworks can supposedly be seen in the distance over the heads of this year's crop of baby goats, but the kids have been at each other's throats all day.

Too, now that the novocaine has worn off, I'm in excruciating pain from the world's fastest wisdom tooth removal surgery this morning, and there's no telling how well I'd be able to monitor myself under pain or Percoset. (Not clear, in fact, how clearly I'm blogging.)

Looks like we'll make it to the town events on the 4th itself, what with Willow marching in the parade and all -- she'll be the tiny blond kid walking with the Children's librarian, wearing the dragonfly shirt she earned through participation in the Monson Library's "What's Buzzin'" summer reading program.

In the meantime, I'll settle for glowsticks in the yard, and a fire in my head.





UPDATE 8:23 pm:

The kids tired theselves out sliding down a chair into a pile of pillows, together and happy and learning how to take turns. They're asleep, I think, though it's hard to tell without going upstairs.

You can hear the band from the porch, just like sometimes on a still night you can hear the bagpipers practice from the same direction; guess the sound comes around the mountain instead of over it.

Wonder if we'll be able to see the skyglow when the fireworks begin? Surely we'll hear the thunder.

posted by boyhowdy | 6:20 PM | 0 comments


Shut Yo Moo-hole! 

Wasn't going to write tonight, but the neighbor's cow has been bellowing into the night for over an hour, and it's keeping me up.

How do you shush a cow?

posted by boyhowdy | 12:24 AM | 4 comments

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sidebar Follies 

Back when I got paid to think about Media Literacy all day, the blog was chock-full of pop-culture analysis snapshots. These days, I teach teachers and students how to use technology thoughtfully, and I mostly blog about my family, and my environment.

But the mediamind hasn't gone away entirely. I'm still a culture vulture, a social scientist among the geekculture elite. For example, I still tag and save the braingasp tidbits. And, as always, I still post 'em on the sidebar, just a quick scrolldown to the right.

No one reads it, of course. But maybe you should.

Now playing on my rollover-for-commentary, delicious-driven tinyblog:



Wanna check out the rest of the tinyblog? Scroll down and stay to the right for my ongoing compendium of all things medialit, informatic, and just plain technofascinating. Or, see it in its original form over at del.icio.us.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:23 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Boyhowdy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day 

The kids woke me up early, and I couldn't go back to sleep. We only had cheap coffee for breakfast, and I hate cheap coffee. I threw my back out picking up a tennis ball and now when I shift my weight or cough it's like I'm passing a kidney stone.

It was a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.

I spent three hours on hold this morning, listening to faint muzak, only to get yelled at by some irritated guy at the Department of Education who insisted that he couldn't answer any of my questions until they received my transcripts -- only once they do get 'em, they go right ahead and weigh my case for Licensure before I can send anything in to support it.

The lady at the mortgage company needs me to fax her a copy of a letter set by her own company, but expected us to know that our bill didn't reflect reality, and now we owe a late payment that we all agree we didn't incur.

My increased frustration with the universe made me cranky, and I took it out on the kids. Then I felt far too horrible about it to be able to deal with them crying. Then I felt guilty for not dealing with them, like I had made a mess and was now refusing to clean it up, and leaving Darcie holding the mop. Then I yelled at my mom at dinner.

It was a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day, one of those where nothing goes right, everything has ominous far-reaching consequences, and it all slips through your fingers.

Some days are like that. But, Lord, please, not so many.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:41 PM | 1 comments

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Glow Of Summer 

Now in five fun-tastic colors!Just finished a single-bid ebay auction to find ourselves proud owners of 500 8-inch lightstick bracelets for under 40 bucks (and that includes shipping and handling). They cost three bucks apiece at those 4th of July celebrations, which is totally nuts, but in bulk, they're totally worth it.

Last year, we ordered a couple hundred, used 'em to help keep track of the kids in folk festival crowds at night, and in the backyard, too -- for that peace of mind, I'd pay much more than a couple of cents per. The remainders lasted all year, and made for great special-treat fun at bedtime in the long winter months.

Wanna join the fluorescent crowd? GlowUniverse sells 'em direct, but the ebay route tends to be even cheaper. Better, if you order right now, they'll actually arrive before the 4th.

So make your life a little brighter -- at these prices, you can literally give them away. And why not? Glowsticks keep us all young and full of wonder.

posted by boyhowdy | 5:04 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Matter of Perception 

Hilarity at home tonight after a long overnight up north with Darcie's family. The baby gives voice to a dozen animals or more, from a duck's honk to a bear's growl, but attributes to her elder sister the lion's breathy roar. Willow says that I am old, but Mama is "still new"; pressed, she cannot explain why.

When they sleep, I am restless, unwritten. The book outline was done two months ago. Sitting down to write the first few words has become herculean. Has it been talked out too soon, made moot by too much preemptive discourse on the subject?

Used to be I could recognize the moment, seize it. But then, that was when deadlines were imposed from outside, and writing was all that needed to be done. Now I struggle just to write the blog, let alone write about how it has changed my life.

Blank paper used to be a gift -- when did it become so heavy? I make a long list of home and landscape chores that need to be done this summer, from ant eradication to woodpath-clearing, and, having done something, turn to fiddlebrain pasttimes, far from the maddening page.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:43 PM | 0 comments
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