Saturday, October 30, 2010

I am No Longer the Queen Bee

The Queen is in the haaaa-ouse.

And so if anyone knows anything about overwintering bees, making sure they don't swarm the hive in the Spring, how to split the hive, how I should check to see if they're healthy, what I should wear, how I should act, how to extract the honey, what I need to do that, how to protect my bees from the bears, and anything else this pretend apiarist doesn't know please contact me at:


Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Inductees Into the Little Sprout Doula Family

The tamarac tree is spitting its needles at us. They are propagating on the dogs' backs. Can you imagine if humans spread their seeds in this manner? And that the sperm were just floating through the airwaves for the woman to catch and place in her pocket somewhere? That would be weird.

Anyway, change is in the air. I know you can smell it too.

I ended my last post partum doula gig at the end of June last summer so I could spend the months of July and August perfecting the act of packing my mini-van. And I think I'll let you know that I got good at it too, since humility is my specialty and Paul Bunyan is usually the packer.

And so now, as life sometimes so timely handles matters like this, I've been handed a new (brand spankin' new) family. We're still getting to know each other but because I'm spending three days 'down there' a week, I'd like to introduce you to a few of the members.

This is Rosco. He likes his coffee black. He also likes his kibble mixed with some moist wet food and scrambled with some warm water. I've also been told he likes apples, but we haven't reached that stage in our relationship yet.

This is Nighthawk. I'm not sure if it's Night Hawk, like Tony Hawk. But we're just going to go for Nighthawk- one word.

But I call him Toto. He still comes to me.

I can't get over the nose! He likes his coffee with just sugar, no cream. And 3/8 of a cup of kibble at 1 p.m. Please and Thank you. Oh, and a carrot on the side.

They're good friends even though Nighthawk sometimes growls at Rosco. I think it's all in good fun.

Rosco has some funky whiskers. Black ones on the right and white ones on the left.

And a foxy tail to boot.

Now, the boys. The boys are identical. Just like mine.

Born a few weeks too shy.

I told Momma to trust her body. But these boys...they just wanted out.

To stretch their arms and legs.

And see the sunlight.

And to hear their own voices.

And to sleep soundly without getting kicked by the other one.

It makes a lot of sense to me.

And besides it gives Daddy and Mommy a chance to move slowly into this thing called parenting.

And to intently watch their brand new boys grow.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Town in our Woods

Four days in a row of sleeping in. It tasted like hot cocoa with marshmallows. It was unfortunate that the spare moments of boredom tasted like ricotta cheese. I threw up once after eating my mother's lasagna. I'm convinced it was the ricotta.

Have you ever envisioned something in your life and knew that it would be awhile before you got there but you couldn't help envisioning it anyway? The day we drove up to this property and I pulled my big belly full of BOY testosterone out of the car first and then pulled my big ass out next and then I pulled my 2 year old daughter out last, I looked up to the ridge and imagined my kids walking off into the trees like the baseball players walked into the corn field in the movie Field of Dreams. I saw it, clear as day.

7 years later. We are here. And it ain't Iowa folks. They are walking away; well, sometimes they're running with boots on two sizes too big and hats that sit crooked on their heads. They disappear. And I know it's hunting season and it's possible that they won't reappear, but the dog (at least) has her hunter orange on.

They scrambled back down the hill on Friday to find me sitting contentedly by the fire, picking fiber. "Please Momma, come see our town!" they asked imploringly.

I hesitated for a moment to contemplate how cold I might get by leaving the house. I'm still not acclimated to this thing called Fall and because of the fact that it was spitting sea salt from the sky, I really tried to formulate a good excuse in my head. But what kind of Momma would I be??

Bundled, I joined in the parade up to the "town" in the yellow woods. The first thing I was introduced to was the port-o-potty. Nothing says "welcome" to a town when that's the first thing you see upon crossing its line. The port-a-potty happened to be a large rock that Timmy just peed off of. But there it was, none the less.

Next on our right was the playground. Logs to walk across, rocks to jump off of, cliffs to climb up. You want it, it's there. I watched from the path as the kids showed me all the options. "Momma, come on up!!" "Nah, I'm good here." And so commenced the tour.

Next on our left is Lookout rock. "Momma, come look!" Their backs were to me as they viewed, through the naked trees, our valley. "I can see from here!" I yelled back.

Next on our right was the movie theater. "Momma, come sit and watch." "No, I don't want to get my butt wet from that log you're sitting on!"

Next on our left, further up the trail, was the General Store. Auggie saved up three acorns to afford a homemade walking stick, hand carved by a local artisan.

And that's where they stopped asking me to join in.

What was happening to me? I used to do this as a child. I had a huge rock in my childhood woods that was my ship and I sailed to far off lands, imaginary swamps, and jungles in my head. I started to wonder when it went away. Did my imagination drift away gradually, or was it gone one morning?

This made me sad. As we passed Mr. Shackit's Sugar Shack and the Sap River and the Bus stop and the Castle and the Neverending Bridge and finally to the house they declared theirs at the end of a deserted road, I started to wonder if I could ever get it back. Could I retrieve this ability to 'pretend'? Some adults never lose it, never are for wanting the imagination to play house, play school, play doctor (he he). Not me, I thought, it's gone.

As we turned left over the bridge Paul Bunyan built over the Lazy River my mind meandered back through my tour. I took stock of the port-o-potty rock where Timmy peed from and I wanted to remember to show Paul Bunyan it to see if it would be a perfect rock for the hot tub we're building in the ground with rocks from our property. And I wanted to show him Lookout rock because that's exactly where I wanted to put one of my wall tents for my wall tent bed and breakfast that some day I'll get up and running. And I wanted to remember where the movie theater was because there was some great lichen to dye fiber with on the rock leading up to the theater. And I wanted to remember to tell Paul Bunyan that the Castle and Neverending Bridge were perfect trees to cut up for firewood. And at the General Store there is a perfect oak for replanting. And I wanted to recall that there was a rock the shape of a turtle at the Bus stop. Perfect for painting one day. And that the house at the end of a deserted road, which actually is an old trailer with a flat tire, should be fixed so we can take rides in it.

And there it was.

My imagination.

All rolled up and packaged in chores for the homestead. In ideas on how to make the homestead better, warmer, more inviting, more perfect. My imagination is wrapped up in this place. It's not used for pretend play now...I could maybe work on that. Practice makes perfect. Instead, however, it's being used on how to make life better. Here. Now.

I felt better knowing it wasn't gone. Just changed. Kinda like how I make my lasagna now with bechemel sauce instead of Ricotta. Makes for a better lasagna; well, for me at least.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

One Rock Mantel Made out of Love

When Paul Bunyan and I lived out in Breckenridge, Colorado he was on the Breck ski patrol. It was a very arduous job which included skiing freshies every morning and blowing canons full of explosives at the sides of mountains just to see an avalanche. I shouldn't poke fun because he actually was first on scene at a few deaths, which is never something you ever want to witness.

However, in the off season Paul worked a few side jobs. One summer he worked construction pouring concrete for a brand new water treatment plant that was going in down the road from us. The plus was that he could walk to work. The negative was that he got drug tested when he got there.

Another job he took on was for a young mason who built stone facades on the foundations of the monster log houses being built on either side of the Breckenridge valley. Now Paul came out of his mother's womb loving rocks, or so I'm told, but he learned some amazing techniques from Evan.

And it wasn't until now that we got to reap the benefits of his knowledge.

Paul was working diligently on this project for a good month before the Mothership arrived.

Like two small children, Paul and I went up into our woods to hunt for rocks. We would bring the tractor and stop in the creek beds and lift up the ones we liked over our heads and yell to the other, "what about this one?".

And after washing them off in the pools of clear water, we would fill our pockets with the small ones, and carry the big ones to the bucket of the tractor.

We crossed Happy Hollow to Johnny Brook, to a place the kids call Terabithia, and climbed down the rope Paul Bunyan tied to a tree so the spawn could get up and down the cliff easier.

The water was rushing because of recent rains and although it was fall, the lush mosses and ferns poured green onto the forest floor. It was magical to play with my husband as children do. We've played as adults...hiking, and biking and skiing. But it's different. We felt the innocence of the place and the adventure of the collecting task. We left the rocks we liked on logs or placed them to the side so when we walked back down the creek we could gather them up in our arms.

We jumped over pools and steadied ourselves on wet rocks and managed to turn over meaning in our search. Paul Bunyan was about to build something that was grounded in this moment. He would build something that when I looked at it, from the day he finished it to the day I close my eyes, would always make me remember our childish hunt.

And as he built this hearth, the center of our home, I sat and spun my fiber. I watched him try to piece together the things we collected. I watched him stand back and formulate the pattern of his wall.

I watched him tie the bigger rocks in with wire, so they would be more sturdy.

I watched him try to make it all fit together.

I won't lie to you, even though I know you'll think I'm crazy. But I thought a lot of Peter- the ghost of the man who lived in this house before we changed it all around. He built it with his own two hands. I haven't heard him creaking in and out of our bed lately. And now that the stairs are gone, I can't hear him coming down them. And when Paul Bunyan took the two last steps away from Peter's staircase so he could replace them with his big stone ones, I was starting to get sad. And then, finally, we gave his old woodstove away to Uncle Stinky Jon for a wedding gift- you know, the one that whistled. And now his legacy, which came to us in sounds, is gone. We've burned his cherry floor boards. We've erased what he has built (well, except for his godawful bathroom tile, which is probably where he is seeking his refuge now).

What Paul has built is our legacy.

The one rock that I really cared about. The one that I really cherished from our hunts. The one that had so much significance for me because it had 5 sides to it and was a perfect pentagon and represented our family of five and was a symbol for how strong we are as a family, didn't make it into the wall.

Throughout the construction I kept saying to Paul, "where is this one going to go?" "Can this one fit here?" "This one has to go in somewhere." And then, when it was all over and there sat my rock NOT in the wall, Paul said he couldn't make it fit. A five sided rock didn't fit in a puzzle of round pieces. So, I've decided it will permanently sit on top. Forever. Until the next person who inhabits this place wants to tear it all down and make it their own. And by then, I'll be the ghost living in the bathroom.

The new Vermont Casting woodstove doesn't whistle. It doesn't make a sound.

And it doesn't heat as well as the old Hearthstone did.

But it's the hearth that heats the home anyway. And this one, well this one exudes a lot of warmth.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Timeline, of sorts.




Are you still there?

I feel like I just came up in some metal tube from under the ground. And, like, I was there, like, for two months. Weird. I'm guessing you're still around. But I'm not sure you've been there at all.

So, I hope you're there.

I got washed away in the Mothership. If you were wondering.

Don't know if I've ever really introduced you to the Mothership. When I met Paul Bunyan he lived down the street from me on South Prospect Street in Burlington, VT. Paul was a little confused during his senior year so he didn't know whether to be in love with me or not, or to be with his friends or not, or to smoke some more pot or not, or to go to Alaska or not. He was all upside down and turned around. He was addicted to a few things including, but not limited to, turtles, BIG fish, BIG snakes, a SKINK, frogs, toads and lots of lizards.

The members of the Mothership each have their own tales about what animal escaped when and which couch it hid in and for how long. Any way you look at it, it was insane to step foot into that house. 9 (NINE) guys, two floors, and lots of crazy shit going on- stories, that some day after I've heard them for the upteenth time, I'll take the time to write down.

When Paul Bunyan and I got married 12 years ago the Mothership was sort of dissolved. I think they were finding and winding their ways back across the country to figure out what they were going to do with their lives. It having been only 2 years from graduation, I'm not sure where any of them really were. Well, I know Dirty Steve was still in Burlington but that's because he was too busy loitering around Handy's Lunch to move on and up in the world.

This is the man known as Dirt. He no longer loiters. He is, however, the last of the Mothership to get married. But that's another story for another time. Or so they say.

Now, back to what I was saying. Rob and Tim were the only two to be invited to our wedding. Not to say that Paul Bunyan didn't love or appreciate any of the other 6 guys, I just don't think he really 'knew' them in the biblical way that many of the other guys 'knew' each other.

When Tim and Alana:

got married in the summer of 2000 in Newport, R.I. the Mothership was starting to take shape. Many of the guys believe it's because of Dirt, who like a faithful woman, keeps in touch and gossips with all her girlfriends. He keeps everyone in the loop and has done so since this wedding. Now mind you, Dirt graduated that spring from UVM...4 years after the rest of the Mothership, and had NOTHING to do.

Tim and Alana now live in Lake Forest, IL with their three beautiful kids and two crazy dogs.

Now, somewhere between the summer of 2000 and the summer of 2002- let's just guess here that it was the summer of 2001- the boys of the Mothership got together up at Rainy Lake, Minnesota for their first Reunion. There were four things involved: fishing, brown liquor clinics, backgammon playing, and eating.

But it was on this trip (and you'll see it there on the Budhead third from the left) that a certain Minnesota Viking cap was purchased at the Minneapolis/St.Paul airport. And the rest, as they say, is history.

In the summer of 2002, Brie and Adam tied the knot.

They've been voted the best looking couple of the Mothership, but Steve hasn't gotten married yet, so I'm not sure that's a fair vote. These two had their nuptials on a mountain top near Boulder, the town they now reside in with their two handsome and wonderfully behaved boys. Brie's "capping" began the tradition of "inducting" the wives into the Mothership with a simple ceremony. Not sure whose idea it was, but it became 'the way' from this day onward.

You'll have to excuse the woman talking in the foreground but if you listen closely you can hear Paul Bunyan welcoming Brie into the Mothership:

Here's a little 'extra' high quality video I took after a few brown liquor drinks and during the longest party I've ever attended, following the most beautiful wedding I've ever attended, which happened to have started at the earliest hour I've ever attended a wedding.

And here's where it gets a little foggy for me.

Jared elopes in Hawaii in 2003 with his wife Diana and they now live in Aspen, CO with their two sweet girls. Diana gets to miss the "induction" into the Mothership. Boo.

The beeps are kinda quiet in 2004 and 2005. Don't know why??

But in 2006 Jeff and Shea get hitched in Steamboat Springs, CO. It was a cold fall weekend. I just remember skinny dipping in a reservoir on the way up and over Rabbit Ears pass. Shea readily accepts her initiation. There was good dancing. And many a drink.

In 2007 the boys gather again in South Carolina for a guys only reunion.

There were four things involved: fishing, brown liquor clinics, backgammon playing, and eating. I shouldn't say that. This picture shows that they tried to play some golf.

And then our sweet sweet Craig and Michelle in 2008.

Friends may come,

And friends may go,

But now they have little Cooper to show. They reside in the town I was born in: Reading PA!!

And, then, last June 2009:

You can par ruse my outline about it here. Miss Zoey welcomed us with open arms, as we did her. Paul Bunyan never felt prouder to put that Viking hat on another woman.

The boys hit the rapids in Colorado this past June. There were four things involved: fishing, brown liquor clinics, backgammon playing, and eating. I shouldn't say that. Dirt says that there wasn't any backgammon being played, but if there was he would have won. AND two of the Mothership are sober now. It's a good thing, as Martha Stewart says. I'm sure in time there will be more. Lastly, one is on his back, literally, after having back surgery. And as time goes on, I'm sure there will be more.

And now. Now.

The Mothership was in the house this past weekend- 12 of the 18- for Uncle Stinky Jon's wedding (the 8th member of the Mothership to get hitched). This is a slideshow of photos I took at the ceremony. The song is from Jon's brother's CD: David Marshall with a Little Big Chicken. This song was drifting from Jon's bedroom in the basement of the Mothership the first time I made out with Paul Bunyan in the winter of 1995. I was leaning up against an old school style video game. It was our first date. Don't judge me. I fell in love with him that night. Because he finished my dinner.

A Fall Wedding in Vermont from on Vimeo.

And in so many many ways, I fell in love with the Mothership that night too. But as of late, I think it's the ladies. It's Alana, Brie, Michelle, and Zoe. I love laughing and eating and drinking and dancing with you ladies. We bring out the best in the Mothership. I'm convinced of it. And frankly, it might have been Dirt initially who kept the ship alive with all his beep beep beeping. But now, now it's us. We'll see you on the beach ladies- minus the men!!