Saturday, January 20, 2007

On Reeling, Writhing 

Books left on the glass-topped table outside crack at the spines when you open them -- something about the way the glue gets brittle in the cold, I suppose.

When I was a kid I used to love the way the paperback spine would stretch and give as I found my place again. Some of my oldest young adult selections still sport the scoring of my fingernails, pressed absently into the soft, forgiving pasteflesh during a lifetime of latenight reading.

I've been reading a lot, and blogging little. There's both comfort and avoidance in this, especially given the end-of-term grading that looms before me: a hard drive's worth of projects, two boxes full of notebooks in the backseat of the car. A strong practitioner of structured procrastination, I use the time to post a discussion of disk-death and the home-to-school work dynamic in the workblog, anticipating a long-overdue but politically sensitive switchover to web-based storage for our students and teachers. You can't read fiction at work, no matter how much you plan to timeshift; it looks bad.

Back home the books I read are random, pulled from the giftpiles accumulated over my birthday week: more Terry Pratchett, a Jewish humor collection, the NPR's This I Believe collection. I read them outside, five minutes at a stretch, in the cold and suddenly white-coated world; I read them on the couch by the pellet stove fire, late at night when the kids and wife are asleep, and I really should get to bed myself.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:55 AM | 1 comments

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


The blank space, white like the snow that never falls, a world that hardly beckons. How to begin again? And where is the urge?

The house is clean, intermittently. We eat out more often than we should. The wee one speaks in sentences we cannot always understand, sits in her highchair at supper and picks at her pale white foods: crackers, cheese, plain pasta, the occasional pea.

Out the window the world is deceptively autumnal, the backyard ground still unswept of brownleaves and twiglets. Only when we step out the door do we feel the sudden freeze in our lungs, sharp and dangerous. On the morning drive to work the world is still, save for the constancy of smokestack grey rising ever upwards. Even the students waiting for buses by the roadside do not move, their shivers lost inside their huddled, heavy coats.

At work the term winds down in the usual fog of grading and last-minute adolescent angst over grades long past the point of revisiting. My computer classes give up their mice, learn to love Tab and Shift and the function keys, come finally to trust that no amount of key banging and guesswork will irrevocably enflame the hardware. I sit at my desk and chat in hearts and symbols to the howdyspouse, at home with the kids on her lap, while the students struggle.

One night the elderchild's musicbox stutters and is still; I play soft strings, dulcimer in the dark by her bedside, until she falls asleep, and the next night she is finally weaned of our attention, her solo slumbers come so easily it is as if we never coslept at all, never worried how we would ever get our bed back.

I spend my time reading birthday books: the full round of this year's Best American collections, mostly. Deep in my mind, the world is still and quiet, unfamiliar, and yet somehow like the winterworlds I remember, white snow dampening everything, out and in, macro and micro.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:16 PM | 0 comments

Friday, January 12, 2007

Are you there, blog? It's me, boyhowdy. 

Two weeks with nothing but a haiku food review to show for it, at least in the virtual world. Starting over again, it’s hard to know where to start.

But embracing life has been a noble experiment, worth every minute.

An increasingly verbal wee one has turned into quite the Daddy’s girl. She looks for me in the dark house before I leave for work, makes me read to her with my coat still on when I return. Mama brought her in to work twice this week; both times, the look on her face as she ran towards me was priceless.

Meanwhile, elderchild goes solo at bedtime for the first time. She looked so proud and sleepy when I stopped in to check on her.

It’s my birthday tomorrow, and we’re having a party: barbecue and beer, a mixed bag of coworkers old and new, a few friends from church, their kids. It’s the first party we’ve thrown, I think, other than family events, and the first time our guest list runs multigenerational in both directions. It feels very adult.

In other news, mama’s replaced the computer chair with a huge yellow yoga ball. It squeaks beneath me as I write. There’s been a flurry of books, arriving each day like rain; used paperback Discworld novels, the year’s Best American Non-Required Reading. The quantity of it pleases me. I read a book a day, all week, and do not blog.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:04 PM | 1 comments

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
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