Bon voyage!


Currently thankful for….

Four perfectly working engines, two structurally sounds wings, and a trustworthy flight crew

Two enthusiastic chaperones and a lot of families who worked all year to send this group of kids off on a grand adventure

A daughter who’s willing to venture a few thousand miles out of her comfort zone

Digital devices that let us track a transatlantic flight in the middle of the night from the comfort of our beds

A big ol’ planet dotted with amazing things, people, food, art, architecture, and cheese that sometimes you just have to go see for yourself

Where I come from

Bird ball

[Ed note: Today’s post is written by Hyla, another favorite guest blogger.]

Vermont is such a beautiful place, and it’s small enough that I feel comfortable, but big enough and unpopulated enough that I can feel uncramped. My family only owns two acres of land, but we live in a 200-year-old house with ancient beams and a renovated kitchen and orange and red walls, and there are four bird feeders hanging from the windows, and my room’s floor is so uneven that one side of my bed is on six-inch shims. We have modern lights hanging from century-old ceilings, and beehives in the garden, and goats in the yard, and cats under our feet, and a dog at our heels. The snow comes up to the windows in the winter, and in the summer we can sit out by the firepit listening to blasting music from inside and we live so far away from any city that we can see every single star. There’s an ancient maple tree in the middle of the yard that I have seen nearly every day of my life for almost sixteen years, with an old swing hanging from it and our pets who’ve passed away buried under it. There’s a ring of mountains around my house on a hill protecting it, and a valley underneath, and a forest behind, with a path I’ve walked a thousand times that can take me all the way to the waterfall if I go right, or the big green bridge with the yellow gate and the perfect swimming hole if I go left. As I’m writing this, the huge wind (that yesterday blew so hard the snow was falling up) is making the big bell on the apple tree clang. At night in bed, I can hear the waterfall and the coyotes, and as soon as dawn comes I can see the sun rising through my windows. Where I come from is empty and godless and heathen and uneven and filthy and cold and hot and, sometimes, plain miserable. But I’d never, ever want to live anywhere else.

Ta-ray- ta-rah! Boom!


Second semester’s here and you know what that means, right?

You guessed it: rehearsals for the annual high school musical have begun! This year’s production is “Drood” (or “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”), based on the unfinished Dickens novel. It’s written by Rupert Holmes.

Yes, THAT Rupert Holmes.

Fortunately, this production doesn’t include any references to piña coladas or personal ads. It’s more about murder, mystery, and several unsavory characters (all exceedingly more palatable). It also features a different ending every night (voted on by the audience). What could be more exciting for a group of actors than to not know which numbers they’re doing at the end of the second act until after intermission? Can you imagine that pressure? I’m glad I’ll be in the audience and not on that stage…

The cast list was announced yesterday. H is Princess Puffer. She runs an opium den. A stage parent can be proud of that.

Below is a recording of one of Puffer’s songs. Come to the show May 14-16 to hear H and her fellow cast members do it even better.

Pause, rewind, replay

I don’t know who had the initial idea, H or M:

Let’s hold a Harrathon, and play all 8 Harry Potter movies back to back over the course of a weekend.

So we did.

H invited her HP-loving friends, M and I moved the furniture, H and I went grocery shopping, we mixed up a batch of butterbeer for the freezer, and then we waited for everyone to arrive.

It was grand.

Some friends arrived in time to kick off the first movie at 12.30 on Saturday afternoon, while others, running late or confused about the start time were met with a stern note on the front door: “Too Late, Fools.”

Only it wasn’t too late; it was just beginning.

We went into some sort of strange state of suspension. The movies played, the teens traded seats, took breaks for food and drink. At one point, everyone had a stretch and went outside for a ride on the porch swing. The Harry Potter theme music played on. DVD to DVD, it kept coming.

At later than my usual bedtime, I went to bed. All night long I heard the booming of the sub woofer, as the movies turned to darkness and war between the Hogwarts students and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. I woke every couple of hours to hear the thundering soundtrack, the conversation and laughter.

By the time I came downstairs the next morning, the last movie was in its final 30 minutes. Two of the group were semi upright, but perhaps not with eyes fully open.

I sat by the kitchen counter and watched the end, where the little children who had become teenagers vanquished Voldemort, then morphed into adults, ushering their own children onto platform 9 3/4. I admit I got teary.

There was a time when H was so little (a kid raised in the age of the internet and the remote control) that, if we were playing a game or reading a book and she needed a break, she’d ask us to “pause” whatever we were doing for a minute.

Wouldn’t that be a nifty trick? To pause and then restart, or maybe to pause and then rewind to the beginning and watch all the moments over again, even the hard ones?

I wiped my eyes and got to making pancakes. Soon M joined me and we were making bacon and eggs and serving up orange juice to the tired and hungry Harrathoners.

And then I wrote this down. We can come back to it later.

The scene


Too Late Fools



Harrathon candle

Platform 9 3/4

Last scene

Harrathon aftermath


Friday diary

Dear Diary,

I was on my way from the computer to the poetry shelf to look up a Jane Kenyon poem (because today’s her birthday and we need to celebrate with some poems) and, by the time I got to the threshold of the next room, I’d forgotten why I was going.

I remembered on my way back here, and now I think I’d better write a few things down before I forget to mention them.

For instance, Hyla was in a show last week! Her school performed The Drowsy Chaperone, a musical satire of 1920s musicals. It was just plain fun. The staging, dancing, singing were all impressive, and we laughed a lot. I didn’t take any photos, but our local town photographer took about 1000. You can see H as ‘Trix the Aviatrix here, and here, and here.

I also need to tell you that, after longing for them for years, we finally got blueberry bushes. Eight of the lovely things. And I spent the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend swearing as I dug holes in New England soil that is more rock than dirt, fertilizing the holes, planting the bushes, mulching the bushes, watering the bushes, and then… sitting on the grass and loving the way they looked. Mom loved blueberries. Planting them was the second best way to celebrate Mother’s Day with her.

Blueberry bushes

As we were choosing the plants at the local nursery, M (rightly so) argued for splurging on the larger bushes. We’re not getting any younger; we’d like to harvest some blueberries sooner rather than later. But our friend at the nursery said we just had to get one of the Elliot variety, and they were only available in the small size, so we have one tiny bush. His name, of course, is Elliot, and he’s very excited about everything. A new morning. The sunshine. A rain shower.


He and I were both excited when a hummingbird came by to visit.

Shy blueberry bush visitor

Big, round bumblebees have been visiting the blueberry bushes, too, and so have honeybees. I like to think they’re “our” bees, but who knows. They refuse to wear the name tags I made for them.

The bushes are right outside the window next to my desk, the same window from which I can see the goat barn and the beehive. I spend a lot of time looking out that window at the micro farm we’ve been carving out of this property, inch by inch. And it’s a soul satisfying view this time of year, with the big maple tree suddenly in full leaf, the apple and pear trees we planted last year bursting with white and pink blossoms, the goats stretched out on the grass in their pen, soaking in the sunshine, the bees too-ing and fro-ing from the hive.

It’s enough to distract a person from the business at hand.

Today’s business involves preparing for this weekend’s big event, the (now) annual Open Fields School Medieval Festival. If you’re reading this and you live in the area, you should come. Not only does it support a lovely independent elementary school, it’s just plain fun. There are crafts to do, shows to watch, costumes to wear, and food to eat.

So far, I’ve made dozens of mini fruit tarts. And mini quiches. And our own Sweet Lolo came up last weekend and made caramel “styckes” and pine nut candy to donate to the cause.

Today I’ll make one more batch of quiche, and a couple batches of waffle cookies, and then H and I will go over to the school this afternoon to help set up the tents and fences and banners in preparation for tomorrow.

Mini rhubarb-ginger tarts

Mini apple tarts

Tomorrow, we’ll put on our Medieval costumes and walk the green in the rain and the sun, watching the kids in the parade with Benny the Dragon and the King and the Queen.

Tomorrow, H will once again be the “Sniggler” who sells “eels” (of the candy gummy variety) to the children.

Tomorrow, M will be in his hermit cave, dispensing advice and answering your questions.

Ask a Hermit

But today, Diary, I have to get cracking. Treats to bake, costumes to dig out of last year’s storage, anti-rain dances to do (at least let’s not have snow, like we did last year, please), oh, and Jane’s poems to read.

Your friend,


An oriole sings from the hedge
and in the hotel kitchen
the chef sweetens cream for pastries.
Far off, lightning and thunder agree
to join us for a few days
here in the valley. How lucky we are
to be holding hands on a porch
in the country. But even this
is not the joy that trembles
under every leaf and tongue.

–Jane Kenyon, from The Boat of Quiet Hours, Copyright © 1986, by Jane Kenyon

52 Photos ~ On my way

On my way

Almost every week, this photo project puts a song in my head.

This week’s song is one that parents with children of a certain age will remember from the movie “Ice Age,” which we watched approximately seven billion times when H was small. And which we all loved. And laughed at, especially when Scrat got squeezed between the cliff walls and his eyes filled like two huge balloons that threatened to pop out of his head. Oh, how we howled.

And cried at the goodbye at the end.

Don’t forget about us. We won’t forget about you.

I don’t remember the last time we watched that movie. Or “Finding Nemo,” which we quoted from daily for at least a year.

Mine! Mine! Mine!

Do you have your exit buddy?

No eating here tonight; you’re on a diet.

Or “Toy Story 2,” which H insisted that M tell her the plot of (in its entirety) as a bedtime story. Every night. For months. And so he got terribly good at shortening it, capturing all of the important events, whittling it down to something like 90 seconds. Until, at some point she no longer required that story.

But when was the last time?

We don’t record such things, mostly because we don’t know that it’s the last. I think about that a lot. About last times that I didn’t recognize. The last time I took a walk in the valley with our old dog, Phoebe. The last time I carried H. The last time I looked in my mother’s eyes.

Maybe it’s better that way. Not to have to grieve every last event, knowing it would be the last, but to move blithely on to the next, to firsts that we also don’t recognize as firsts.

That view above is one of many stunning outlooks on the way from our house to H’s school. We get to see it when the morning sun is just cresting the ridge, and in full-sun afternoons, and everything in between. This time of year, the sunlight slants in weakly, under the clouds, to make the mountainsides appear velveted. Hushed. Swept clean and ready for snowfall.

H has seen that view, coming and going, every school day since she was in preschool at the top of Thetford Hill.

“I remember when all this was fields,” she’ll someday tell a friend or a sweetheart, when she returns here from wherever her adult life takes her. Uncounted lasts behind her, glorious firsts ahead.


This photo and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

52 Photos ~ Childhood games


They don’t play games so much anymore, but, gosh, do they know how to laugh and have a blast.

And when the sun goes down, they still play a version of hide and seek called “Sardines”, which goes something like this: One person hides. And the group fans out to look for the person. And when you find the hider, you don’t reveal her or his location; you hide with the hider, silently. And the rest of the group keeps looking, as their numbers dwindle. Until, maybe, you’re the only one still looking. Everyone else is crammed together in a hiding spot, crammed like sardines.

It’s down to just you, alone in the darkening yard. But your friends are out there, and they can’t help but giggle, and you follow that sound. And what a hoot when you find each other.

No one is too old for that sort of fun.

This photo and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

Day one



Our first day of summer vacation and it’s a rainy one.

I say “our”, but it’s really just H’s summer vacation. I’m horning in on her well-earned time off.

Not only that. I’m full of plans.

I read somewhere this morning about one of those super creative moms who bought these amazing scrapbook sets for her kids and they hang out in the afternoons and fill these scrapbooks with notes and ideas and pasted-in movie tickets and postcards and bird feathers. Presumably, they spend the rest of their day doing all the cool things that they later memorialize in their scrapbooks.

For 10 minutes, I had a little daydream about the scrapbook adventures H and I could have this summer.

I told her about the scrapbook idea and she said, essentially, “Yeah…”.

Ah. Understood.

Back, off mom. Let’s just spend some time reading, hanging out, watching grass grow. You know, the way summer’s supposed to be (with the regular application of “Doctor Who” episodes, naturally.)

I get it. When we were kids, my sister and I had large chunks of summers to ourselves, unstructured and unfettered. My parents were both in town, at their full-time jobs. We had our bikes, the neighborhood, the bus and train into the city. We did as we pleased during the daylight hours and no one made plans for us.

It’s my blessing and H’s curse (to some degree) that I work from home. I get in her face a lot. I have… ideas…. I want to do projects. She wants to, oh, wake up a noon, eat something, be a teen.

She is very patient with me. And very good about not rolling her eyes continuously.

I did have one idea she liked, though, because she’s a word nerd like M and I are. And that’s to have a sort of at-home, mother-daughter writing/art camp. Every Monday, one of us will announce a theme (this first week is my turn; I chose “summer solstice”), then we’ll each write (or draw, or photograph, or whatever we like) based on that theme, and share the results with each other on Friday.

I don’t know yet if we’ll share these projects with anyone outside the house. We’ll see how week one goes. But first, we have some rain drops to stare at.