Monday, October 16, 2006

Confessions of an Addict 

Every day it's the same. Alarm at 5:20, down in the dark for the bathrobe by the bathroom door, flip the coffee switch on my way outside for the first cigarette, shiver in the dark, reading by the porch light. Finish, head right for the now-glistening java on my way back inside, pour the milk by the refrigerator light. Settle in by the computer in the otherwise-dark with that first golden cup: check the email, play a few rounds of weboggle.

When the clock says six, I pack up the computer, leave it by the door by my shoes, belt, wallet and keys, head out for a second cig, refill on the way out.

Coming in, the cup is stil half-full, or half-empty, I suppose. The shower beckons.

I hang my clothes in the bathroom the night before. I fill the coffee pot with water, filter, grounds, rinse the travel mug. When I disrobe for my shower, I hang the bathrobe where it will need to be for tomorrow's darkened awakening.

The coffee goes on the first surface inside, so my hands are free to put the toothpaste on my finger; in the shower, I'll transfer it to the brush, and do my teeth with my whole head immersed. The watch goes just so on the sinkside, next to that second cup; I'll finish the now-cold coffee between pants and socks, there in the still-warm damp before opening the door into the new day.

From here, it's all downhill: the hair cream in the unfogged mirror, the flip of the fan to clear the last moisture out of the air, the trip upstairs for forehead kisses all around, the final pocket assembly by the counter, lights out behind me.

I realized this morning as I bumbled through my daily ablution that I no longer think about the day ahead as I prepare for it. A minimum of movement, a grace in grogginess, everything on its way to the next thing, a well-oiled machine am I.

The ritual takes the place of the preparation. It's as if the walkthough was all there is. Meditation, or man's measure? Survival, or careful planning? Either way, the start of another day.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:28 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Awoke 

Sleepless in almostwinter, the sky still dark, I am awoken at six in the morning by the wee one waving a waning-light flashlight in my face, asking for batrees. Clok?, she asks, pointing above my head. And in my half-awake stupor, it takes a moment to realize she's asking me to switch out the unseen power from one object to another. Pretty subtle, for a little kid.

It's her half birthday today. At eighteen months her vocabulary has grown to almost a hundred words, though not all are clear. And she still won't use more than one at a time, unless you count the sequence of sounds that comprise Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star in babblese.

But she's forever on the cusp of full language, prepped with nouns and adjectives and verbs, a few sounds. She can finish every line of her favorite songs with the right word; knows the names of a dozen family members, twice as many foods. Some words, like in every kid's development, seem to have come from nowhere (what do you say when you burp, we say? Beep!).

So far this morning, we've talked of snak -- appies, nuts, mik -- and settled on fissies (What do you say, Cassia? nak nu!). She's gone to the door to look for the moon, watched Daddy make cafi, and asked for batteries until the mind moved on.

Watching her come fully awake is like watching a seed grow. At first, the wee one and I glaze over to Boohbah, an old tape made by my mother when we first tried the telly with the elderchild oh, so long ago. We watch it twice together, talking our way through, like an ex-media teacher should when watching television with a kid far too young. She sways along with the fuzzy wide-eyed blobs, first in my arms, then, more independent, on the carpet in front of the television, solo with the screen, grinning like a madman, laughing with glee in the otherwise silence, learning to jump with fierce concentration.

By now, she's running in circles behind me, humming along, rolling and tumbling and spinning in almost-control of her body. In a half an hour, she's moved from identifying with the Boobahs themselves to trying out the movements of the live-action, look-what-I-can-do kids portrayed between the scenes. She's fast with the fast music, slow with the slow, almost on the beat, almost okay on her own, except that she wants to be sure I'm here, enough to come over every few minutes to touch my hand, look at my face, laugh, go back to her play.

Maybe she isn't too young, after all. In the context of the usual daytime I experience, she looks so small against her sister; though their constant struggle for place and self has become a bit more manageable in the past few weeks, it's still rare to know them for themselves, outside of the sibling struggle.

But kids aren't statistics; each one needs what she needs, and those of us with more than one of them must constantly struggle to give them their individual attention in a constantly shared environment. And this one is, to my surprise, more awake, more human here in the early morning than she is in the late post-work afternoons that, usually, are my only lot with her.

God bless the one that can take us by the hand, lead us downstairs in the morning long before her sister arises, and, in doing so, give us the time to finally see them in their own growing light.



Postscript: First sentence: Daddy, Dance! Ten minutes of frantic, hilarious carpetwiggling later, she fell asleep in my arms watching Elmo. She may be growing up, but she'll always be my sweet little girl.

posted by boyhowdy | 6:17 AM | 1 comments

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mundania De Lo Habitual 

So many days of full steam ahead, though it started a bit oddly when I got pulled from the classroom after the first fifteen minutes of class Tuesday to go off and grade 7th grade standardized essay tests, which I secretly enjoy, because it's so often hilarious. Didn't miss much back at school -- it was to have been my slow day this week. Ah, well -- my students seemed to do okay researching their "moment in computer history" without me there to constantly derail them with tangential trivia.

Yesterday at work we did a dry run of our emergency lockdown procedures. The cops brought the dogs in to check lockers while we huddled on our classroom floors in groups of twentyfive, behind closed curtains, locked doors, silent, in darkness. Twenty minutes never passed so slowly. But it's better to be sure, I guess.

Back to normality today, or what passes for ritual in the specialist's everchanging world. The lab's still busy, what with both 8th and 7th grade science projects in the last throes of completion, and my own students are mid-research, but while they cut and paste their pix from google I've got enough time for overdue paperwork. In the end, I fill up an hour's worth of tweenminutes with a hundred emails, a rewrite of the old and out-of-date citation standards for the school, a draft list of school technology project needs for the principal.

All the stuff once pending, now finally out of the way.

Back home the leaves have turned our lawn a bright yellow orange. The driveway is wet from the rain, slick with rotting, fallen foliage, and it takes two tries to get the old couchmobile up the turn. The kids have been home all day with mama, uncleaning in her wake, and it's good to bring some energy home.

Some, anyway. I still fall asleep on the couch before supper.

It's darker now when I rise, as if that were possible; dark when, dressed and showered but as yet unbrushed, I tread lightly upstairs to kiss the girls goodbye; dark, still, when I check my pockets, gather up the laptop, the third cup of coffee, the keys, head out the door. The garage door rises at the push of a sunvisor button to reveal the faint deepsea blue of a wakening morning, and I am off to another day.

The weatherman predicts a cold night, but it's still damp and warm outside, the humid air holding back the first true frost. Who knows how close we are to the edge? Let us celebrate the autumn while we may, for snow is coming.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:10 PM | 0 comments

Monday, October 09, 2006

Stacking The Deck 

Talk about structured procrastination -- I just spent an hour writing a workblog entry on the ecology of learning spaces just to avoid writing here.

Sometimes, the best thing about having a blog is everything else.

Pity the main reason I'm avoiding this space is that my life has become temporarily consumed by the unbloggable bits. Well, that, and the sad fact that surely no one wants to hear about how much I hate shaving.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:22 PM | 4 comments

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A Horse Of A Different Color 


Rocking horse (Oak, Provincal stain) from Kloter Farms

Even beyond the car dealership inventory sales, in our nexk of the woods, at least, the universe of commerce and community comes out for Columbus Day in droves. The fall foliage is at its peak, so the buying season is on its cusp before New England hunkers down for winter. Greenhouses hold last-gasp hayride festivals; orchards feature this year's last apples and the first, best picks of the pumpkin patch.

So, with little to do on the first of a three day weekend and a holy host of deck and playstructure ideas to test out in full, we headed across the Connecticut border to Kloter Farms for their annual kid-friendly fall festival.

Imagine, if you will, a dozen or more playstructures, ready to sell, all filled with children; a clown making balloon animals; a pumpkin painting station; free barbecue and cookies and cider for all. Imagine just the right amount of kids to keep things feeling festive, but not enough to cause lines or conflict at the swings or facepainting stations. Imagine a two-car steam train running through it all, steam whistling and bell clanging just often enough to avoid a wait, a sneaky, snaky way to pull parents across the totality of backlot inventory while their wee ones hoot and holler.

Imagine, too, a family prepared for the full brunt of their children's antisocial behavior -- this is, after all, a kid who threw a full-bore tantrum at the local playground just yesterday because we were trying to teach her to pump the swings instead of just pushing her forever -- only to discover that something about the crisp fall weather and the part atmosphere had coincided to create the perfect behavior for the perfect day.

When we asked her to move on to another activity, she did so willingly. It was like having someone else's kid, or the kid we always wished for, or maybe just the kid we thought we had, once, before the long struggle began.

Maybe it's an anomaly. Maybe it's a turning point. Either way, it was worthy of reward, and we gave willingly.

Willow was in such rare form -- manageable, happy, and willing to take direction -- we bought her the showroom rocking horse we'd been eyeing for ages. Sure, someday soon the rockers will come down on her sister's foot. But the more kids you have, the more precious and rare those perfect days, where everyone is in the right spirits, will come along. And for a long while, now, we've been starting to think we might be plumb out of days.

After a quick trip back to the warehouse to switch it out for the golden oak finish instead of the provincal featured above, it just fit in our trunk. Looks great in our living room, too, in that hole between the barstools and the oversized chair. Winter will come to the window behind it; surely some stress will mark the majority of our days. But today will ride forever, into the sunset of our memories. Finally, after years of waiting for the right moment, kid and horse fill the perfect spot in our hearts, our house, our home.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:49 PM | 1 comments

Friday, October 06, 2006

Where I've Been 

Driving over the mountain, startling crows from the yellow lines as I whiz through on my way to work, pink sky in the rear view mirror, the bright reds and oranges of autumn all around me.

Teaching far too much without a planning period in sight, since every teacher wants their classes to start their first project off with a trip to the lab for instruction in everything from Publisher to better research to creating their first formal wordprocessed papers.

Leadership training today for the district-wide professional day -- a great systems thinking workshop chock full of fun moments and nifty new management tools, plus it was just an honor to be asked to attend.

At the playground with the kids, at least until Willow flipped out. If anyone has ideas about how to get a kid to learn how to swing, I'm all ears -- she just won't listen to instruction well enough to understand how to pump against the swing, instead of with its motion.

Searching the byways of our little rural town for milkweed, so our little be-jarred monarch caterpillar can stuff himself, and -- if all goes well -- we can have a butterfly to release come springtime.

At the sliding door, watching the setting sun dapple the newly cleared yard, and the trees that we've just contracted to cut down next week -- which will leave an even greater area, mulch piled at the edge, ready for seeding, leveling, landscaping, and spring. And for swings, God help us. Though I'm determined to include, as well, a fully enclosed treehouse, so when the kids fly away some day, they don't go too far.

posted by boyhowdy | 6:38 PM | 1 comments

Monday, October 02, 2006

At-one-ment 

As last year and the year before, I've taken Yom Kippur off from work -- not to go to temple, but to spend some time in the wilderness of myself, and come to terms with the year's past.

I head off midmorning, towards the waterfall and the dam, through a neighborhood silent in the workday sun. Across the street the cows graze behind the fence; over my head, this year's wild grapevines hang low with fruit, ripe purple globes entwined among maple branches red-gold with the season.

I ford the stream to pick my place, find a flatter spot under the trees just that side of the spillthrough, where the rushing water and the mottled light on the newly carpeted forest floor provide a place for peace and reflection. I set up my chair, and reread last year's meditation, my own private Vidui, for strength and context:
We are guilty, O Lord
of pride in a job well done,
even when it comes at the expense of others.

We are guilty of playing to our strengths...

I take the pen and paper in my hand, try to clear my mind as blank as the pages before me. A chipmunk scurries across the rocks by my feet; the wind stirs a jay from his nest nearby. Clouds move past the sun. The river flows ever forward.

And then, nothing.

A year ago yesterday we spent our first night here, in a house not yet a home, but already a promise of newness and survival after months on the road, the four of us evicted wanderers, jobless and worried, our lives and safety at the mercy of friends and family. The convenience of the time frame encapsulates the year nicely, like a well-wrapped present.

But atonement was easier when everything was new, and the world was suddenly no longer all wrong. It's easier to make amends when the future looks so bright and the past is so rootless. Examining the heart in the midst of a new beginning is to natural as to go without saying.

This year's underpinnings are more subtle, more private: a still-unexplained illness, a growing discomfort with the way our nested lives have grown static under our feet and all around us.

I have so much to atone for this year. But I fear I was easier to forgive -- both for others, and for myself -- when we were coming off that year of homelessness and hope.

Too, here -- at the base of the dam's far side, where high rocks hide the floodwaters -- it is hard to feel authentic about anything, really. The things I should atone for are so much more subtle, so tangled in a life of place and purpose, that they seem impossible to isolate, let alone explore, like fat, dark grapes hidden behind the bright turning leaves.

If I could wish for a better context, some light to illuminate my faults -- some Godblown wind to clear the trees of my heart of these obscuring leaves -- I would.

But atonement postponed is atonement unrealized, and I am blessed to be part of a religion that mandates such reflection. The time is ripe, though I may not see the fruit; it is better to offer these grapes, however hidden from my view, than to miss the moment, and pass through the liminal still unwritten in the book of life.

So, as last year, and the years before:
For all those offended, regardless of intent or personal gain, I offer my sincere apology. You deserve better; I love you more than I may have said, and I apologize.

Even if you never noticed my lapses, or I never noticed, or we shared the experience without the name; even if I made you happy, and it was not as much as I could have: I could do better by you.

In this time of self-exploration, or recommitment, of sorrow and yearning for betterment, I commit myself to you, and your betterment, and ask that you hold me to it.

May we be blessed enough to be inscribed in the book of life for another year together, side by side. And may we be honored, one day in the long distant future, to see those inscriptions, and smile, and remember each other fondly, and have more fondness to remember than we could ever have pain.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:29 PM | 3 comments

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Come Back To The Five And Dime... 



Yes, chocolate chip pancake covered sausages. On a stick. Kinda says what it needs to already, doesn't it?

posted by boyhowdy | 10:18 PM | 1 comments


On Not Writing 

I want to write, and I don't. This, for example.

And this.

Sure, I write monthly reports for work. I key-and-send emails quick through the ether. I write on the whiteboard, with stick-figure accompaniment like fugues.

But that's not writing. It's typing.

I want to write gunfire and testosterone, like Hemmingway. I want to write quicksilver language colloquial, parenthetical, onamotapoeic like cummings. I want to write turned phrases or scanned worldliness, in perfect iambs
like Shakespeare. But my hard drive is full to the brim with unfinished odes and vilanelles, fragments all.

I want to write my daughter to sleep each night, and I do. Every bedtime is another princess, and new pangaea, a second story lost to the night. Sometmes she doesn't even hear the endings. But this writing on darkness is lost to the light.

I want to write. But there are so many other things I want to do, need to do, for the same reasons -- to keep myself whole, to create the world, to preserve it like a message in a bottle. Each day I write less, without saying less, and slowly, the volume of words moves from archivable to non, the potential histories of myself growing thinner as I grow older.

Some days, I suppose, it's enough to just say it out loud. And maybe, just maybe, there's something healthy about letting language live esoteric, as fragile and shortlived as soap bubbles. But I want to write. And I don't. And I wish I did, again.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:54 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fill-In-The-Blog 

It's been a long blogless week, so to liven up the usual tedium of cath-up and excuses, Not All Who Wander Are Lost is proud to present our first installment of what we hope to be a very, very irregular feature: Overly Specific Blog Absence Mad Libs.
___________ (exclamation), what a __________ (period of time)! Tuesday me and ___________ (person) took the ___________ (mode of transportation) to ____________ (special event), which was ____________ (adjective) -- not a lot of (something there's not a lot of), but we saw ____________ (famous person) ______________ (gerund) a ______________ (flightless bird), so the evening wasn't a total loss. Yesterday I went to the ___________ (place you can buy things) and picked up a new _____________ (something you really only need one of), since the old one was starting to get ______________ (sign of age) and we finally had enough ______________ (something of value) to trade in.

Back at ____________ (place where you spend lots of time), things are going ___________ (how things are going). My ___________ (a relative) turned __________ (either a number or, say, the word "over" or something, I don't know, I'm really tired), so we threw a ______________ (party theme) party, complete with _____________ (party object) and even a whole bunch of ____________ (political party, plural), which was a ______________ (animal sound). Tomorrow we're all going to _______________ (place you can drive to), maybe find a good ______________ (type of restaurant) and ____________ (verb that describes eating) some ____________ (type of exotic food), since I've been having these ___________ (adjective) cravings ever since we saw ______________ (that movie, you know, with that guy from that other movie). Or maybe it was just the ___________ (something you eat, but not usually at a movie).

___________ (artificial, one-word segue). Check out these ____________ (yet another adjective) links I found: ________________ (link to a dumb flash cartoon), ______________ (broken link), ________________ (link to a pornsite), and _______________ (link to the least funny cartoon evar!). They made me ___________(verb) my ____________(noun) off! But watch out for the ________________ (something horrible, or just annoying)! Until ______________(something unlikely), ______________ (regional mannerism which expresses goodbye)!


Wasn't that fun? Feel free to play along in the comments -- simply cut and paste the above, and fill in your own inane content!

posted by boyhowdy | 9:56 PM | 3 comments

Monday, September 25, 2006

Ford, Finished 

Writer and game designer John M. Ford passed today after a lifetime of illness. This poem -- which he originally "published" in the comments of one of my favorite megablogs -- serves as a fitting epitaph, and a raison du'blog, all at once.

Against Entropy

The worm drives helically through the wood
And does not know the dust left in the bore
Once made the table integral and good;
And suddenly the crystal hits the floor.
Electrons find their paths in subtle ways,
A massless eddy in a trail of smoke;
The names of lovers, light of other days—
Perhaps you will not miss them. That’s the joke.
The universe winds down. That’s how it’s made.
But memory is everything to lose;
Although some of the colors have to fade,
Do not believe you’ll get the chance to choose.
Regret, by definition, comes too late;
Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.

— John M. Ford, 1957 - 2006

posted by boyhowdy | 10:59 PM | 0 comments


Autumn Dreams 



A fallen Willow, like our own tends to be.


Last week it was unseasonably warm, though too foggy for true indian summer; fast forward three days and it's fullblown fall. Nights drop down to the forties; leaves turn, scatter, cover the dying lawn in golds and reds.

At night, I suffer antibiotic dreams. Three times since last week I've woken to the fastfading horror of my children lost, or drowning, or missing, always unsaveable and my fault eternally, my old adolescent fears of high-stakes impotence rising through my subconscious unawares while they slumber beside me.

I arrived home today to find the living room furniture where the playroom had been, a surprise, but a fitting rearrangement, and not just because this Thursday will mark our one year anniversary in this home, and since homelessness. The children sat unexpectedly calm at their old craft table where a chair once filled the corner, wearing butterfly wings and pumpkin hats, sharing a project peaceably, after months of unsettled, half-dangerous competition.

Funny how a simple change of scene can bring about such difference of emotion. Funny how the seasonal despair sneaks up on me through my subconscious, every year a new discovery, as if I had not felt a lifetime of watching from outside myself in horror as I holed my own boats. Funny, too, how things always start so fine, and how I've never noticed that, after 33 years as first student, then teacher, beginnings always mean Septembers.

But the apples this year are especially crisp: Empires and Cortlands, we picked them ourselves. The children are blond and beautiful, charmers who stop in the school office to bring Daddy's lunch and leave an impression that will not wear off all day. My wife moved a couch today; cleaned house; kept the children happy; found joy for and in us all as everyday, and still managed to make the perfect omelet for supper. The air is clean here, and smells of woodsmoke.

Tomorrow I will wake in darkness, walk unseen stairs to push the coffee button, sneak out into the chill of morning, sit on the porch in the still dark, listen to the blood rush in my ears. Dreams fade, and nightmares, too; as everyday, so will it be tomorrow. What's one dream, one change of scene, when the world is as true and clear as the evening light through the newly cleared woods? We're here, and sometimes, this is everything, and all that matters.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:18 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Quickblog 

Yesterday's blog went to my teaching with technology blogspace, a quick primer on camerause and photosharing for my coworkers in honor of the two cameras I commandeered from the office for curricular use -- and the newly XP-ed machinery now safely ensconced on teacherdesks after years of increasingly halfbroken Windows 98 workstations.

Now we're off to Boston for Rosh Hashanah, the jewish new year, a day late for temple services but just in time for tonight's family dinner. Would have left last night, but Willow had a stomach virus, and wasn't going to be able to sit in the car for long enough to make it.

Thunderstorms on the horizon for tomorrow, but unless it's absolutely pouring we'll probably hit up the barbecue and bluegrass over at the Charlton Orchards Harvest Festival-slash-fourth-anniversary party on the way home. Look for us under the big tent, huddled among the masses, eating the last of this year's apple crop, grinning widely.

Until then, stay out of the rain, or if you prefer, walk into it with your head held high, reveling in the natural order of things -- something I try hard to do in my own life, plus the looks you get are priceless.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:17 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Joining The Dance 

Willow’s dance class in town was cancelled due to low enrollment, but we like the non-competitive philosophy, so while we try to recruit other mommies -- from the parent network and preschool parents, mostly -- we're temporarily attending the beginner’s class in East Longmeadow, where the much more suburban crowd sustains a two-studio program with little difficulty.

It’s a half hour drive, but after grandma spent so much time and energy on outfits, and after so much psyche-up, from studio visits to a lifetime learning to love movement and direction, it would feel too much like witholding a promise to not find some other solution. Today, we’re trying the Wednesday class, since it’s a tougher trek on Saturday mornings, and, like her Daddy, Willow’s not much of a morning person. My teaching schedule allows it, so the four of us come together.

Dance for kids ages 3 to 5 (technically, 2.9 to 5, but who’s counting) seems to be primarily about placement and direction. The teacher leads the kids through several line-walking activities, first along the tape, then along the same tape but with a blue construction paper puddle to hop over, then finally through a series of small yellow hoops laid end to end. Marching order counts, and the teacher is proactive enough to give each kid her turn to model the activity. They begin and end in a circle on the floor, feet in the center, bodies radiating out like a multiracial starfish.

The mothers sit in the doorway, in institutional chairs borrowed from the room's periphery, and talk about parent things: developmental milestones, where to get the most darling little jeans. Occasionally, they spot their kids peering at them mid-hop, and call out "pay attention to the teacher!"

In the meantime, the advanced ballet class begins in the other studio. Cassia and I watch from the doorway as the once-famous dancer, back braced against his age, takes a crowd of healthy-looking adolescents through their sped-up paces. After a while, I can feel her squirming in my arms, and I look down to discover her face screwed up in concentration as she tries to point and squat, count and hum all at once. "One", she says, an echo of the instructor, and her bare foot rises towards her knee, pushed out just so, as if she, too, were paying for the privilege.

As a proud feminist daddy of two blond, adorable girls, I have my qualms about all the pink and lavender, the fetish of toe shoes, the unavoidable clique of the dancer. Somewhere in my media literate mind I worry that I will have failed if my kids cannot push trucks like the boys, as if tomboy were the only way a girlchild could grow up truly healthy. And sure enough, from the doorway I can see the way Willow keeps creeping back to the head of the line, pushy and masculine, and though I am happy to see her take correction as the teacher cheerfully puts her back in her place, there is a secret part of me that cannot help but be thrilled at her competitive nature.

But I'm a big supporter of dance. In high school, I took dance for a few terms to fulfill my gym credit -- partially because the very idea of competitive sports brings back hard memories of being the uncoordinated dork in the outfield, but also because, like my younger brother “Spilly”, I seem to suffer from a tendency towards accidental self-destruction, a lifetime of smashed watch faces and overbruised shins caused by what other people would call sheer clumsiness, and I prefer to refer to as “low limbic awareness.”

I was never a great dancer -- yearbook pictures show me hopping like the floor's on fire, amidst a sea of graceful female leapers in leotards. But I liked being away from the testosterone peer group; liked the precision and rhythm, the mind/body work, the comfortable clothes, the self as instrument. After so long pushing the brain as an academic, I miss the athleticism of this, the only sport-realm I ever felt I might actually make my own.

And this particular studio, for all its famous graduates and work ethic, is ultimately one which values the individual over the program. You can see it in the way the girls arrive: serious, but thoughtful, comfortable and without the haughtiness of Hollywood dancehype. The dowdiness of the studio floors and the way the director sits behind her desk in the middle of everything, selling sweatshirts and toeshoes and answering student phone messages throughout the hour, speak to a sense of intimacy over impressiveness which belies the suburban Longmeadow stereotype so prevalent in our own rural smalltown. The pictures that line the walls feature the school’s founders and directors, back in their professional heyday, but their black and white stillness is subtle, and their uniform 5x7 size says what it needs to.

When Willow emerges, with a happiness that will last until about seven steps into the parking area, I consider asking about an adult beginner’s class. But today is about Willow, not me. Some other time, perhaps. After all, just three more months and Cassia will be old enough for the parent-and-toddler class, and I get out of the classroom early enough to join the crowd one day or another, if I wish. Though her mama is, surely, eager to return to the bar herself, there's nothing wrong with being the only Daddy in the room.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:08 PM | 1 comments

Monday, September 18, 2006

Arrrrrrr! 

alt+keelhaul+deleteIt's Talk Like A Pirate Day tomorrow, and my lovely and ever-creative wife loves a challenge, so here we are, watching the last moments of Pirates of the Carribean, gleaning a few last ideas for the best costume this side of Jack Sparrow. Can't wait to wear the boots and sash.

Pirate webquest-slash-treasure-hunt with the kids in class in the morning, too. High-fallutin' phrased questions on everything from scurvy to eyepatches, and what's with all those parrots? It'll teach the sprogs not to mistake full queries for search terms, at any rate.

Bonus question asks how much it costs to send two blueberry pies to Hawaii, with extra credit for anyone who can tell me what that has to do with the webquest topic. Hint: it's a pretty bad pun.

Already prepped an iTunes playlist covering everything from sea shanties to the Spongebob Squarepants theme to a punk cover of that infamous Veggie Tales tune The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything.

Looks like I've finally adapted to the middle school mentality in full. Avast, me lads...thar's learnin' ahead of ye!

posted by boyhowdy | 9:37 PM | 4 comments
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