Saturday, January 06, 2007

Haiku Product Review: Fabulous Flats Tandoori Naan 

Fabulous Flats Tandoori Nan*

Sprinkle with water,
Heat. Buttery. Delicious.
Gets stuck in toaster.

*Winner, "Best New Innovative American Product of 2006", Prepared Foods magazine.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:01 PM | 1 comments

Saturday, December 30, 2006


Nothing to say tonight, really. I just missed the old regularity of the blogged life. It's been a good week, anyway. A little restless tonight, perhaps a little bittersweet. Two days worth of nostalgia are coming, and I'm looking ahead with my heart.

First, tomorrow night we've accepted a quiet invitation to old friends from the prep school teaching days. After seven years on campus, it's going to be more than a little odd to feel the pull of these now-deserted buildings that once held our lives captive.

The next morning we're expected at what will surely be the last of a long tradition of Hangover Special breakfast feasts farther north, at the house in Newfane, where we crashed for one glorious summer, and a decade of New Years Eves; where our family grew bigger as Darcie's brother Josh found his own second family.

The world is about to change again. The siblings continue to disperse: Josh and Clay to Oregon next week; Ginny back to Hawaii the next. The endless uncertainty and stress of the workweek whirlwind looms in the forecast, longterm and practically eternal.

I've been thinking more about the idea of New Years resolutions than about any particular self-improvement or renewed conviction. Giving my wife the gift of time for the holidays has left us both more relaxed, and with more energy left after kid bedtime for each other. I'm fresh off a workmeeting about my professional goals, with clean markers of progress to report; my Instructional Technology certification finally arrived last week, an early holiday gift from the great state of Massachusetts.

Which is to say: I'm doing okay, I think. My family is amazing; my environment is safe and stable, if still bereft of snow. Life is crazy, as it always is. But this year, I'm resolving to let the world be what it is.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:00 PM | 1 comments

Friday, December 29, 2006

Pimpin' The B & J 

Do you like beer? Do you like ice cream? Well, has Ben & Jerry's got a taste for you...

I consider myself somewhat of an ice cream snob, ever since I spent a summer scooping ice cream at a local Steve's franchise, my first real job (from which I was ultimately and rightfully sacked, a story for some other evening). At Steve's, we made all our own ice cream, and it was beautiful to watch; we folded our own toppings in by hand on a long, creamywhite countertop long before a generation of Cold Stone employees discovered tendonitis, and it was a glorious, sticky summer all around.

One especially hot and adolescent evening we decided to try making beer ice cream. It tasted like vile swill -- mostly because the beer already tasted like that before we put it in. But otherwise, our experiments were generally a success. I can still taste the fresh peach ice cream like it was here in front of me. With mixed-in mini-sized chocolate chips. Mmm.

And after being so close to the process, I'm always game to blow those gourmet bucks on the best quality. No cheap, rectangular ice cream cartons for me; it's Ben & Jerry's if I'm doing the shopping. For a long time, I stocked up on Pecan Pie (with real chuncks of pie!) or old standby Chubby Hubby when I got the chance.

This week, after eyeing it on the shelf since it's release date in March, I finally tried something really new. Black & Tan, Ben & Jerry's new pintflavor, ain't the work of a couple of stoned teenagers. Here, the bitter bite has been tempered to a faint and fond hint of a quite distinctive cream stout.

I don't usually "do" product reviews these days, but this is amazing: deep, rich, extra-dark chocolate ice cream blended with cream stout ice cream, with a cream stout head. It doesn't taste like beer so much as it tastes like the world's best beer ice cream. It's like frozen Guinness, if Guinness didn't leave that bitter bite on the back of your tongue. And it looks like this:

Yeah, I know it's freezing out. But there's still no snow. Settle for ice cream.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:39 PM | 2 comments

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I'm just sayin' 

Tonight's moon is a boat:
hollow, bright against seablack night,
rippled by cloud. Here the sea
moves against the silver hull.
The trees are coral. Later,
they will drown the moon.

Well, it was going to be a poem when it started

posted by boyhowdy | 9:19 PM | 0 comments

Tidbit Thursday 

A lazy day amidst the holiday season -- errands late this morning, a leftover lunch of christmas ham sandwich and heavy squash soup, a bout of to-the-basement woodstacking in the clear, still-snowless side yard.

In other news, elderkid got a gigantic Colorforms set for the holidays; I've more than doubled the piececount by cutting out lines and boxes from the sheet from which the original shapes had been punched. Check out how well they photograph against the soon-to-be-terraformed yard.

DSC02256 DSC02253 DSC02261

Darcie suggested we use the shiny plastic to map out the lines for this spring's yard project. It works out: red and white for path and stone walls, yellow for deck and railing, green and blue for field and fountain. I'll probably have at the windowglass this afternoon, after furnace fire, perhaps a nap.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:22 PM | 1 comments

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Toddler Mine 

Pikaboo, Daddy!

I am rolling elderchild around atop the giant yoga ball before supper; shrieks of glee echo throughout the house. The wee one, ever Daddy's little girl, sees this as an imposition, a usurping of her usual role, and runs over.

No! My ball! NO! I'm....ME!

My wee one. Lighter than air, deceptively small for her age. Says please and nak noo, fusses over the slightest mess, spends hours wedging herself into the tiny space under the kiddie kitchen sink. This is a kid who names her emotions, who, when the world begins to whirl in front of her, yells Fun, yes? Fun, Daddy! like a spriggan.

Surely, she intended to say No! I'm mad! Just as surely, something more primal, the sheer identification of the feeling ego, was all that could emerge. Only with language so new could emotions so potently overwhelm the very vocabulary.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:20 PM | 0 comments


Home from the heavywet snows of Vermont to a garden pushing up green bulbshoots through the heavywet leafbed. The house is cold, as if the fog had infiltrated everything in our absence. The cat is happy to see us, happier still to be let outside again.

It was a frantic Christmas, like every year -- a dizzying flurry of wrapping paper and elderchild deliveries from undertree to aunt, uncle, grandparent, parent. We were late arriving, and my wife's siblings had to run their separate ways soon after, but the long afternoon with the inlaws was quiet and centered, and the kids were happy to play with new braintoys, the hanging bells, their great, great grandfathers' music boxes.

Now we fill the fridge with scavenged Christmas ham, line the kitchen counters with gifted bakedgoods, begin the long process of cleaning up for tomorrow' mass playdate, my father's afternoon visit, a week of snowless vacation. In the corner, the dog chews on her Christmas bone, tired out from long outdoor hours with my in-law's mixedbreed giant. The wee one slumbers in the car outside, pooped out from a long overnight. 364 days to Christmas, and it's good to be home once again.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:18 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Not With A Bang, Nor A Winter 

Family, finally.

Emotively speaking, the middle school holiday break begins midweek, somewhere between the multifaith and snowman-heavy decor and the calendar's end.

By Friday morning, the kids are a mess, and so are we. Learning has gone out the window, to be replaced by so much sugar it's not even funny. In my case, this meant cookies, gummi bears, and enough chocolate covered goodies to overload the nervous system. At 7:40 in the morning. After the usual six cups of coffee.

Of course, you just have to have one of everything, lest some kid feel left out. Not even the gift of a half dozen buttery, smooth pierogi, boldly requested in compensatory jest from the kid who took Thursday off from school to make 'em with his family, could take the edge off the sugar high.

By midmorning I'm practically hallucinating. I've given my morning lab classes the option of free play on the computer; the best and brightest choose to make holiday cards, or fiddle with the snowflake-maker courtesy of my mother in law, but most play mini golf while they munch on their cookies. The rest flail around the classroom, hurling gift wrap at each other, laughing uproariously while I make snide comments that keep them -- barely -- on this side of appropriate behavior.

I save the last few minutes of each class for a comprehensive crumb-cleaning and lab shutdown, finish my own classes by ten thirty, spend the afternoon wandering the halls, wideeyed and jittery. The kids are in their teams, watching holiday films; most won't finish, but the point is to be eye-glued to the screen, given the potential for havoc. Their teachers look frazzled after their own morning of containment. Their classrooms are clean, and ready for a holiday break floorwash in their absence.

By 2:15, I'm on the road, surprisingly relaxed, ready for a long winter's break. No snow in the forecast this year, but the rain begins as I crest the mountain. It hardly makes a dent in my serentity.

Back home, the kids are charging around the house like angels, pantless and gleeful. Elderchild and I present mama with her gift: some rose-scented bath lotion, the plaque above, and a commitment to moving the bedtime ritual into our mutual corner, that mama might have more time this year. The wee one throws cotton snow from window display to couch; everyone smiles, and no one asks her to stop.

We light candles, trade a last night of Channukah gifts, eat fresh challah warm from the oven. Darcie calls some old friends, making plans for a New Year's in our old prep school haunting grounds. The air is full of holiday shufflesounds. By nine, I'm asleep beside the elderchild, wiped out from a whole year's worth of bustle.

Holiday, here we come.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:47 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

In Short 

Pre-holiday Wednesday is a bit like the bitter, poisonous taste of biting into an orange rind -- you can take it, even as your lips grow numb and itchy, because there, unfolding before you, is the Fruit, leaking onto your hand.

I was going to write more, but now it seems unnecessary.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:26 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Unca Jesse! 

My little brother and his nieces frolicking over the holiday weekend. They grow up so fast, don't they?

posted by boyhowdy | 10:59 PM | 1 comments

Back To Appalachia 

Oh, one of those: an appalachian dulcimer

Hanukkah was a rush this year, as always but moreso, a perennial crunch of eight days into concentrate made both necessary by our family's inevitable diaspora. In eight hours or less, a whirlwind of eventhood: lunch with my brother, our spouses, or father, my children; a rush back and forth in various combinations to get the right people in the right places to prep for the party, and to pick up my brother's car in the shop.

By six, we were singing songs around a dozen menorahs with my parent's oldest friends, now joined at the kitchen island by their own grown children holding children of our own. By seven, the family left behind was deep in a gift exchange, the kids burning off the evening's sugar rush rapidly among a blizzard of bright orange toys and wrapping paper snow.

By the time we arrived home, it was past ten. The kids had fallen asleep miles back to the story of the Maccabees, the lullabye rush of the holiday traffic on the turnpike; Darcie put them in their beds, and stayed up to clean and read a bit.

And instead of heading right for the computer, I used the sudden, rare silence to take out this year's present from mom: a dulcimer, in cherrywood.

The perfect instrument for the mellow and melancholy. Sure enough, I spent an hour in the firelight, faking my way through the Sufjan Stevens Christmas songbook.

Since then, I've managed to sneak in a few moments here and there, away from grubby fingers and eager minds unused to fragility. And, after wanting one for years, I'm pretty happy.

The dulcimer sounds a little like a banjo, and a little like one of those autoharp things that were popular when your mother was a hippie. You've probably heard it on a bunch of old Joni Mitchell songs without realizing it -- though it's much easier to play.

Want proof? Less than two hours total, and I can play the full set of blues chords, but more than that, after years of flute, I can find the intervals in the music, play melody and twang-harmony alike. I've mastered a dozen songs, and can play them at speed, and all without having to run through the usual gradated boringness that is the learner's workbook.

And thank goodness. Because it did come with a book, like instruments do. And, typically, the book is called You Can Teach Yourself Dulcimer. Which is the dumbest name for anything, really, because either it's true, in which case what do I need a book for? Or it's not, in which case maybe this isn't going to be the best book to start with, seeing as how they don't think you need one.

Also, the picture on the cover isn't promising. It depicts a guy wearing a dorky vest and a tall, blackbrimmed, turn-of-the-century hat. He seems to be working at some sort of faux-authentic outdoor museum; all around, perfectly normal children pull at their equally normal parent’s hands, point and laugh and this poor goofy-smiled guy who...well, darned if he doesn’t look just like me, beard and all.

I've decided I don't need the book. I can be me better at home than I can in a crowd of overcharged gawkers. No, it's enough to play along with the radio, and with the songs in my head, and finally and so rapidly be an agent of the full, chorded sound that fills my universe. And to be given such peace, such autonomous peace, out of the midst of such chaos. Thanks, Mom. It's what I've always wanted.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:05 PM | 0 comments

Friday, December 15, 2006

Home Sick 

Sinuses strained and fever at 101. An earache, a swollen backache, and -- since the coffee pot seems to have blown a fuse -- a headache growing behind my eyes. Last night I passed out on the couch in my winter coat, slept for three hours, and staggered upstairs to toss and turn until 4.

Not much of a way to end the week, what with the elderkid performing tonight in her preschool holiday show, tomorrow's hanukkah party at Mom's. But what goes around, comes around, and this one's been going around.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:53 AM | 0 comments
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