Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Back To Mundania 

Check-ups and dentist appointments. Solo shopping while the kids nap. A bit of cleaructting in the yard: the big pines raised to make room for firewood stacks, the forsythia cut back from the bulhead. Far too much time on the Better Homes and Gardens arrange-a-deck software, dreaming of next summer.

In the evening, feeling fed up and cooped up, with no planned direction we follow a rumor, discover Fenders, a drive-in burger and ice cream joint by the shores of Holland Lake. Willow asks the ride the mechanical horse. Cassia holds out her hand, begs for quarters. Waterskiers fly by across the busy vacation road, their laughter drowned by the buzz of their towboats.

On the way home I stop suddenly at the dam runoff, remembering fishing gear still in our trunk. Cassia and Darcie walk home; Willow and I drag the bottom for hours, until it gets too dark to see our own lines. The weather is fine, the company sweet and grateful for the attention. Willow learns to cast, hits fifteen feet out on the nose. We catch nothing, and care not.

The curious suspension between summer and school year is much as it ever was. The back of the brain tickles with the rowing awareness that, soon, the world will expect things of you again. Each moment becomes overwrought with portent; soon, faint deperation will begin to flavor the minutes.

It's probably true of all teachers: in Fall we lose the ability to become one with the universe, lean into the system instead, like stepping onto a moving sidewalk, teeter for a moment, get our bearings, ride ever onwards.

It's a different life, this coming electrical storm, one no less fulfilling and full for what it is. The worklife is so western, so absent of Zen: I love it when I'm there, and in the groove...but I don't always love the me that lives there, if you know what I mean.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:59 PM | 1 comments

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Wanderer, At Home
A return, in improptu doggerel 

The sand is gone from tween his toes.
His tan begins to flake.
About the sterile house he goes
shedding sunlight in his wake.

His garden bloomed while he was gone.
It sports a hundred blooms unknown.
Each, like the lawn, is overgrown,
too tall to hold weight of its own.

And so he lies, like these bright flowers,
on shaded concrete steps, and waits
for hours, for the coming Fall,
And dirties the house with his plates.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:28 PM | 1 comments

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Last Thoughts, Cape Cod 2006 

Willow, on Tuesday's dunewalkI'm swearing off seafood for a while. I've had enough oysters, lobsters, scallops, and cod to fill a fisherman's freezer. Last night's lamb chop was a relevation.

I swear that guy playing guitar down the street last night was Evan Dando. I mean, his rendition of It's a Shame About Ray was impeccable.

If I didn't smoke, I'd never see the Perseids. Just can't beat shooting stars over the darkened sand.

After experiencing both, though the secluded vacation spot has merit when you've got time/space to just sit/be, for family affairs, living close to both town and pier is worth fronting the main drag into it.

Elderkid's an exhausted mess: off her sleep schedule, on a constant ice cream high. Me, I've taken to drinking a beer or two every day -- a dangerous habit.

Cassia, Exploring NatureBut like a diamond forged from fire, baby-no-longer is transformed. Who grows an entire first-tier vocabulary in just two weeks? Plus, the way she offers her hand, then physically drags us around to do her bidding is just...beautiful.

The drive tomorrow is going to suck -- Cape Cod bridge traffic is notorious. (Random aside: When I was a kid I went down to the cape with a friend; I remember pacing the car, seeing guys having beer out the side of their van while it sat in traffic, a turtle-pace party along the line.)

But I'd walk the 200 miles if I thought there was no better way.

Cape Cod has had its moments. The sulfuric smell of the sea rocks my universe. But, man, I can't wait to go home.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:01 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Cape Cod Catch-up: By The Bay 

Finally figured out that I had changed my DNS settings; switching 'em around again reinstates my network access, so here we are ready to recap.

Tuesday the wee one got the earache that had been going around, so we spent the afternoon at the clinic, and then in Provincetown for a bit of pharmaceutical shopping. P-town was a mess as always, hot and crowded with tourists and shirtless dogwalkers strutting their homosexual chests, but we bumped into new in-laws Jesse and Jaimee, also childless, and shared a bar beer, which was a nice mid-day respite.

Tuesday night we left the siblings and new cousin-in-laws at the beach, headed out with Mom and Dad and the kids to the Cape Cod Melody Tent for this year's Acoustic Planet tour: Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Del McCoury Band, and fiddle virtuoso Natalie McMaster, first separately and then, finally, together in an absolutely incredible jam session. Third row seats, the stage in-the-round on a rotating stage, so we got to see the fingerplay up close. Amazing experience, all 'round.

Cassia managed to sleep through the encore, but Willow was a trouper; for her efforts, Victor Wooton (yes, THE Victor Wooton) threw an authentic Flecktones trademark -- pink stuffed hippo in a beret -- to Willow as the show came to a close, and then waited while the guys in front of us got the message and passed it back, which was the nicest thing ever. I totally covet the hippo, and have asked Willow to put it "up high" when we get home, so we can always remember this day.

Wednesday was a transitional day, with the newlyweds and her sister's family off for various worldly parts; mostly, we packed and cleaned, and said goodbye throughout. That night -- last night -- Darcie's parents arrived to take their place; we walked down to the pier for fried fish, and headed down to the bay shoreline, where the tide was so far out you could see the trapped bluefish jump to catch the bennies. Willow and I watched a shark feed, all fin and sudden flip like a mini-Jaws; some guy caught one with his squidbait, so now she can tell the world she's petted a shark and lived to tell the tale.

Today has been pretty quiet, all told. Darcie and her parents, the kids and I walked over the nearby bikebridge, hiked a conservated island, and sat awhile in the shade by the marshbasin, watching the fiddler crabs scuttle up the beach. Plan for later was originally an ocean-side beach, but then, the plan was to leave at 2:30, and with deadline come and gone I'm no longer sure I know what we're doing here, now or next.

Willow seems more subdued without Felix around, though she's clearly exhausted, almost beached out. Cassia nurses and nurses and otherwise behaves as if she could really use a stable environment for a while. Jonathan Katz in concert tonight with my parents, which should be okay if we can manage to stay silent. Darcie's birthday was yesterday, and we've promised each other a date Friday night, but I wish we had had just a few minutes to ourselves, just man and wife, in the last two weeks.

Patty and Neil are talking about leaving pre-sunrise tomorrow to beat the traffic off the cape, and I kind of wish we were going, too.

This kind of vacation is neither vacant nor that elusive vacating of the usual stresses and strife of the homeworld. Some of that is just what happens when you have kids; some is what happens when you try to summer with your parents, and with a rotating cast of over 20 others, coming and going like fish darting in the rushes under Uncle Tim's bridge. But some of it is truly that our home is new enough, our life on the road no longer a necessity, our summer almost gone, and our lives intended to be smaller, our wanders shorter than this.

It's been nice to be in the sun, I guess. But all told, I'd rather be home, even if it makes the workworld approacheth sooner. We're counting days, wishing we had the freedom to leave on our own, and Sunday cannot come too soon.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:14 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Chaos, Continued 

Night swimming and outdoor showers. Endless seafood suppers: the freshest fried cod, clam chowder by the sea, Wellfleet oysters, lobster rolls galore. Beach days and long afternoons watching the kids totter around the patios, getting into mischief of one kind or another, while we coparent and chat with our new in-laws in turn.

Oh, and the wedding, of course. Which was beautiful, and uniquely theirs.

We've been three days in the second week house. The chaotic life of too much family and not enough time, too many hosts and not enough consensus wears like footprints on the dunes, eroding my psyche down to the bone. Felix and Willow -- once friends, now cousins -- begin to grate on each other, best friends but too young to know when it's time to take time for theimselves.

But town is close, and the pier is too; we walk down in pairs or families thrice a day or more, just to mix things up a little. I stay up until three, exhausted and sleepy, watch Adult Swim just to unwind. It is almost enough.

Darcie's parents arrive tomorrow, just in time for her birthday. Two weeks more, and my worklife starts up again as the school year, just visible on the emotional horizon, begins in earnest. I can't get the laptop to work with the broadband router in this new, second-tier capehouse, so this will be my last missive until Sunday, when we will be home, finally, and happy to be there, alone fulltime with my family and no one else, if only for the tiniest time before the workyear begins, and my soul is split, subsumed, fragmented for another year.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:15 PM | 1 comments

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Cape Heat 

Too hot to blog about an early start, the sweltering big top this morning, the kids in and out of the shower all afternoon.

Too hot to dwell overlong on the delightful breeze of the Vineyard ferry, or the fridge-to-oven transition, in infinite progression, of chasing the kids back in from the bouncy-horse in the yard at our old friend and late-stage MS sufferer Dan, who keeps his home at a frosty 61 degrees year-round.

Too hot to even consider a wedding tomorrow, unless the heat wave breaks, and fast.

Cape Cod as travel destination is seriously misleading. Every time you want to go anywhere it's a good hour and a half from here to there, but because it's still "the Cape", it seems perfectly sensible at the time. Back home, of course, we'd never head to Boston (a scant hour away) for the day, and certainly not five times in a week, back and forth like a wheeled metronome.

If the befevered and raspy-coughed wee one didn't sleep in the car, and if the car weren't the only air conditioned space we own, we'd stay, sit, melt into the deck chairs. As it is, we're 26 hours from the advent of wedding ritual, and if I have to take one more run to the grocery store, I might just keep on driving unti I end up home. It's only three hours, after all. Practically local, by Cape terms.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:16 PM | 1 comments

Monday, July 31, 2006

Cape Cod Continued: Cassia & Co. 

Long day with the kids as the rest of the family went off on various and sundries: my sister to the second day of her veterinarian's conference, Mama and Mom off running pre-wedding errands, Dad down to Florida to pick up his own father. By tomorrow night we'll have four generations in the house, and the newlyweds-to-be arrive in the wee hours tonight.

It's been a good while since I had such a long stint solo with my own children. Took 'em to the beach, but their hearts weren't in it; though the hermit crabs and other kids bright shiny beach toys attracted their attention for a while, it practically broke mine to see the wee one toddle around the sand calling for Mama. She fell asleep in the car on the way home, so we left her there in the shaded driveway while the elderkid and I watched PBS, a rare treat.

Which left us only two more hours to kill, post-nap.

Hint to Daddies who find themselves in my situation: The outdoor shower, balanced as it is with warm nakedness, is a good two-hour timekiller. The incidental cleanliness will win you mega-brownie points with the wife, too.

Drive-in tonight, for the second installment of the piratical Depp-vehicle. Plan was to leave both kids home with Mom and have a proper date, but the wee one wasn't having any of it; we dragged her along, she fell asleep in the car but awoke for the climax to stare owlish and awed at the screen. I think being in the car threw her a bit; she spent much of the time trying to guide my hands to the wheel, as if we could complete this whole movie experience by just driving into it.

House is starting to feel like where we live, at least for now. Nice to be able to blog under the stars, anyhow. Later, the meteor shower continues, I bet.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:37 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Cape Cod Is All Around Us 

After four long hours on the road (how much longer now, Daddy?) I'm writing today from a patio deck chair, overlooking the bright, meadowed backyard of a rented home in Wellfleet, MA. The birds swoop low in the late afternoon sun.

There's wireless here. Also seven bedrooms, four and a half baths, two full kitchens, both my parents, and a holy host of family on their way over the next three days. The house is just big enough for the kids to feel left behind as we drag our things up our respective, almost Amsterdam-steep staircases. We've decided to leave the master bedroom for the happy couple, due to arrive Tuesday.

Supper soon, and a quick trip to the ocean. Because we're here, and because we can. Later, a long walk in the darkness, and perhaps an early start to the neverending quest for a local bar in every port. Or not; the wonderful thing about vacation is that, sometimes, you can wander with impunity.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:07 PM | 1 comments

Saturday, July 29, 2006

En Passant 

No net last night apres thunderstorm; Verizon's tech support was entirely unhelpful, and now I can't remember what my DNS server settings are supposed to be. Also, the red wash got a crayon in it, and it spotted everything pretty bad. Went to bed early, pissed and bored and grumpy, wondering what we did with our time before we were wired.

Spent a much better morning picnicing down the Connecticut coast with Darcie's extended family, celebrating past and impending birthdays and youngest sister Virginia's imminent departure for Hawaii, where she'll harvest, grow, and roast organic coffee on a tiny farm until she achieves full vertical integration in the coffee industry, or just gets sick and tired of working her butt off and comes home. Ginny, we'll miss you.

Back home, cleaning and packing, now that the muddy laundry we accumulated during our annual pilgrimage to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival is finally finished. Amazing how much mess a family of four can make in their own home in such a short time.

Five days home from the fields and tomorrow we're off again for the wilds of tip-of-the-cape Cape Cod, my extended family packed like sardines into a succession of houses. Offline mostly, but I hope to blog from the Wellfleet public library when I can, assuming there is such a thing.

From festival to family, from field to sand, with but the tiniest of hiatus: It's all so just like last summer, really. Except with a home to come home to, this time around. And that makes all the difference.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:05 PM | 1 comments

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Brown From The Sun 

Neck, arms, face and fingers: two weeks of outdoor living and my skin is as crisp and healthy looking as it's ever been. As long as I stick to long pants and keep my shirt on, I could pass for a sunbather, and I like it. Just in time for my brother's oceanside wedding next weekend, too.

I don't have the darkest skin, though my plight is nothing like that of my wife and children, who are doomed to walk the face of the earth along the treelines, perhaps under parasols, lest their flesh sear and glow. I burn, but it doesn't bother me much any more, and the red fades to a nice brown for a couple of days before my arms turn into leprous scaly things from a zombie movie.

Right now, though, I'm in that golden moment, and the face that peers out of the mirror seems more relaxed, more at one with nature, more aglow with life and weather than the usual haggard workself.

I've been thinking I should document this tan somehow, but the camera flash bleaches out what in direct sunlight was a lovely golden brown from t-shirtline to fingertips, broken and set off by a starkly contrasted strip of pastiness where my watch has been. You'll just have to take my word for it: I'm no George Hamilton, but as long as I keep the pale parts covered, I sure do look beachworthy.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:26 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

And The World Spins Madly On 

Waking with the kids by my side, and clutching them to sleep at night with songs and tummyrubs. A free matinee and a clean bill of follow-up health. Plans to come: a weekend picnic in Connecticut with the inlaws; two weeks on the Cape among my own for my brother's marriage; a side trip to the Vineyard in the middle of it all.

Howdykids, frolickingHow good to watch the girls run through the sprinkler on a freshly mowed lawn, naked and shrieking with glee in the late afternoon sun.

How good to be home, though the place is a mess, and the spectre of work looms faint but ominous on the horizon.

How good to have another month, another chance, another path to follow.

How sweet it is, really.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:12 PM | 2 comments

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Sounds Like Everyone Else Had A Good Time, Too 

Then at about 4:00 in the morning we had to evacuate the tent because a van with fireworks and a propane tank was burning up. We went to Dillon's car and spent the rest of the night there, and I watched the van explode in his rear view mirror...

A search for "Falcon Ridge" over at blogtracker Technorati offers a fascinating look at the diversity of experience had by festivalgoers this year.

My own fire story, incidentally, involves being woken up at 4:00 so I could spend the next three hours rounding up diapers for camp refugee families. Thanks to Brink for the quote above!

For the rest of my own somewhat community-centric impression of Falcon Ridge Folk Festival 2006, just keep reading...

posted by boyhowdy | 10:19 PM | 1 comments

It's Been One Week Since You Looked At Me... 

...but over a week without blogging (or, indeed, any communications technology more wideranging than a walkie talkie) has left me a bit befuddled over where and how to begin.

Also, I've changed, I think.

In the absence of the literate urge, and perhaps to better capture the true chaotic mess that is memory after eight days of tentcommunity and fieldlife, Not All Who Wander Are Lost WAS going to be proud to present a sort of quotes-and-moments compendium from this year's Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.

And sure, somewhere in my head will always live a list and litany of days: of swimming holes and trips into civilization for forgotten suplies; of Dave and his constant stream of young and sadly heterosexual visitors, Eileen and her Long Island brothers, of nights under the shade tent while the festival built around us.

But in my mind, the true story of this year's Falcon Ridge Festival will be that this was the year I stopped being a mere visitor-participant, and became truly subsumed, at one with the community, an organ of the festival (a small organ -- a pancreas, perhaps -- but a vital components of the organism nonetheless).

You see, when I woke up on Thursday, groggy in the morning sun, watched children while Darcie painted signs, and finally, after lunch, wobbled over to my shift checking in volunteers and press and performers, I was just another volunteer, one of a thousand working his shift with cheer and as much compentence as possible.

But then I was pulled behind a car for a conference with the Volunteer Coordinator, and the weekend turned into a series of starburst moments, a whirlwind of timing and grace:

Being asked to step up as new Crew Chief for Teen Crew -- on Thursday afternoon, just twenty hours before the crew meeting.

Transforming Teen Crew on-the-spot from a loose posse of teens who spent 90% of their time hanging out at maingate into a truly well-regarded team of curious and hardworking adolescents who spend their time making a real difference while, simultaneously, making the kinds of connections and gathering all the experience needed to become the next generation of volunteer movers and shakers.

Enjoying the new privledges accorded Crew Chiefs, such as backstage access, and a total lack of time to take advantage of it.

Realizing that, as Crew Chief, I don't just get to have my finger on the pulse of the festival at all times, but that I now get to be a part of the committee which meets throughout the year to confer, strategize, improve -- and party.

Realizing, too, that this Crew Chief management group is made up of a group of friends and dedicated like-minded folks, people that I respect more than almost anyone else. And that they treat me like an equal, and are generally glad to have me among their ranks.

And driving home in a fog after a luxurious night of play and chat and song and stars, and a day of mellow sun and take-down with old friends and campmates, and suddenly realizing that joining in Crew Chief management means I no longer have to wait until next summer to be a part of Falcon Ridge. That from now on, Falcon Ridge will always be there, a part of my real world, too.

Being charged with such responsibility and knowing that you're the best man for the job -- because you proved it this weekend, didn't you, and under fire -- oh, it's indescribable.

It is an amazing, powerful, awesome thing, this sudden epiphany that you can do this, and well, and in public, and grin happily all the while, and mean it.

But being given Falcon Ridge forever, all year long?

That, perhaps, is the happiest thing of all.

Oh, yeah. There was also some music. It rocked. For those who care, the total count as of Sunday night's closing song:

Grey Fox:
Infamous Stringdusters
Uncle Earl
Danny Barnes
Hot Buttered Rum
Tim & Mollie O'Brien
Austin Lounge Lizards

Falcon Ridge Folk Festival:
Liz Carlisle
Russel Wolfe
Wild Asparagus
David Buskin
John Gorka
Cheryl Wheeler
Christine Lavin
Susan Werner
Shawn Colvin
Crooked Still
David Massengill
Tracy Grammer
Rowan & Rice Quartet
Eliza Gilkyson
Eddie From Ohio
Dan Bern
Greg Greenway
The Rowan Brothers
Lowen & Navarro
Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams

posted by boyhowdy | 3:04 PM | 1 comments

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
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