The World According to Vincent.

Vincent is a very funny, quite singular little boy.  And every time I’m in danger of thinking he’s a genius, he does something startlingly ridiculous, like getting himself tangled in the baby’s doorway jumper. However, he does have an interesting way with words:

  • His “new blue hat with the train on it” (such is its full & proper appellation, however old it is in actuality) has been missing for a week.  He’s getting used to life without it.  But the first morning of its disappearance he protested mightily, “But I need my new blue hat with the train on it!  I can’t go outside with just my circle head!”
  • As I scrubbed away the pen drawings from his arms, he again protested, and oh the despair, “But you’re changing my life!”
  • In the winter, when he’s running around the apartment in shorts and t-shirt, his response when I try to get him into something warmer, “But I have to see my arms, and I have to see my legs.”  As reasonable as you please.

There’s more, I hope there will always be more; perhaps I should begin a new series of pronouncements by Vincent.  But this is all I can type today. My computer is acting up again.  This time the screen only works when the laptop is open at a 45 degree angle or less.  Oy.

Wood Smoke & S’mores…& Frog Legs.

My brother took our nephew camping not too far from Shelburne Falls this weekend, to a campground where we spent most of the summers of our childhood, so we went to visit them on Saturday.

Vincent went out on a canoe, splashed around in the lake, toasted marshmallows for s’mores (which he then spit out, deciding he prefers the ingredients individually, leaving me to eat the remaining s’mores alone, alas), watched fireworks, and ran his little legs off.

The boy was literally unspeakably exhausted by the end of the night: when he tried to tell me something as we were driving away, his words came out garbled.  He was asleep before we turned onto the road.

The day was a wind-swept sunny gift.

I reconnected with one of my oldest friends (and Vincent made a new friend in her sweet-hearted daughter).  We had lost touch when our lives flowed down separate streams.  Well, my life flowed.  Hers was always more akin to whitewater rafting.  But now, a confluence, an even keel.  Our re-meeting was perfectly timed.

Lance finagled a few stories from her about our youth — old friends seem to be an endless repository of memories you’ve forgotten, or wished to forget — and it reminded him of his own boyhood summers.  S’mores did not figure.

His family stayed in a cabin off the coast of New Hampshire, or Maine, [Note: in a cabin on an island in a lake in Maine.  “Off the coast? There aren’t any frogs in the ocean, Sweetie.”  Details, details.] and his father hunted frogs with a bb gun.  But the frogs sank.  Ever resourceful, his father then began to shoot the frogs with darts devised of bicycle spokes on a wire, which he pulled in.

Then he sat at the end of the dock and cut the legs from his bucketful of frogs for that night’s dinner.

Little Lance wouldn’t go near them.

He didn’t want to go near that dock, scene of the carnage, ever again either.

I guess it depends on where you stand in life whether you find this story horrifying or hilarious.  It reminds me of “The Triplets of Belleville”, whose plot also features bicycles and frogs.  In a word, hilarious.

Action-Packed Post!

We’ve been plagued by squirrels dancing in our ceilings for several seasons now.  Back in April it seemed as if we had finally confounded them when Lance pruned the tree that gave them clear access.  But after a few weeks they figured out that they could climb right up the back staircase that leads straight up to the 3rd floor and onto the roof.  And then, as if to punish our efforts, they colonized the ceiling in even larger numbers.  Louder, larger numbers.

It’s not just that they’re loud.  It’s the nature of the noise.  Like a thousand fingernails scraping against a blackboard.

At last, our landlord has found someone to deal with the issue.  He’s assembled his crew and erected scaffolding all around the building.  Vincent loves all the activity, and calls the scaffolding “The Clocktower”, which I love, and talks about climbing up the tall ladders, which I don’t.

I know I have overprotective tendencies when it comes to Vincent, but I think they’re called for:  last week he got outside by tearing through the screen door.  It’s no wonder his birth is the guiding force behind Hunger All Inside.

Meanwhile, Aidan is 6 months old today, babbling a blue streak.  His eczema is under control, though not gone entirely.  His face and scalp especially require daily treatments.  But we can at last see and feel his beautiful baby face clear.

*

I first learned of The Dzanc Creative Writing Sessions through Karen Weyant’s blog.  I haven’t yet taken advantage of this truly affordable service, but I plan to this summer.  They have fantastic writers on their roster, and even I can find some way to pay $30 for two hours of mentoring. And what’s more, that teeny tuition goes toward another great program:

The program is being offered at an extremely low rate — many of the instructing authors volunteering their time to Dzanc do similar work as freelancers and charge much greater rates than are being offered here through the DCWS. Other workshops and writing programs charge a lump sum of several hundred dollars up front. Not only does the DCWS allow you to control and target your expenses, but 100% of the money brought in by Dzanc by our DCWS goes to supporting the writing programs we run for students grades 4-12. These additional programs — currently being run nationally by Dzanc — are offered free of charge to students who would not otherwise be able to afford and experience these sort of writing programs.

I’d like to sign up immediately, but my computer mishap has knocked my budget for a very large loop.  (No, it’s not back yet, but I’m crossing my fingers for today.)  But I’m really excited about it, and can see myself signing up on a semi-regular basis in the future.  I don’t have a writing group, and this is a great way to get varied feedback.  If you haven’t already, you should absolutely check it out!

*

My husband accuses me of burying the important news at the bottom of my posts.  I don’t think so.  But I’m now working for Tupelo Press.  I’m only mentioning this because Tupelo Press is one of my favorite small presses, and I’ve often talked about them or their books on the blog in the past, and I will continue to do so, and for the same reasons: because I love them.  As my friends Ann and Michael, who work for Random House, say over at their blog, Books on the Nightstand, this blog is my own personal blog, and in no way affiliated with Tupelo Press.  Just so you know.



Only open arms will do.

I love my husband. Let me state that right off. But he’s frighteningly up to date when it comes to tragic stories, and has this habit of broadcasting horrifying news bits that he’s read online. For instance, shortly after Vincent fell out the window last summer, he told me about a 9 month old in Boston or thereabouts who fell out a window and died. This I did not need.

And recently there was the story of the mom who let go of her son’s hand for a second in the store in order to pay, and when she turned around he was gone. Turned out that he’d run down the street, gotten on the subway, and ridden it for 2 miles before someone noticed the oddity of a little guy (2/3 yrs old) riding the subway solo. Thankfully this story had a happy ending.

But this is just the sort of thing Vincent would do. Despite his scary experience with the window, he continues to be fearless. I have, however, discovered something very interesting: if he’s walking further ahead of me than I like, and I kneel down and hold out my hands while calling for him to look at me, Vincent will run right back to give me a hug and a kiss. It never fails. I find it endlessly fascinating, endlessly comforting that the one gesture that will keep my son safely by me is a display of love.

The Haircut

When the boy’s head is heavy with his own secret
cap of hair, his mother calls him to her,
asking him to tell her about his day.
When last she called him from the depths
of the wood and combed with slender fingers
the golden current of his hair, the white
of his hidden brow, like a headstone,
had made her almost cry.
After she cut his hair, his head was quick
as a deer turning in a field to face new danger.
By the light raining down in a field in August’s waste,
by the antique vase about to be knocked over
by his child’s elbow, by her own perfume
lasting in the room after they leave,
can she explain her pity for him,
his forehead full of blond mysteries?

Carol Frost, from her collection, The Fearful Child (Ithaca House, 1983).

Short newsy post ending with a Spontaneous Vision of Cuteness.

  • The CPS reading last night with Nikky Finney, Tara Betts, and the ladies of the Holyoke Care Center was phenomenal!  The energy & passion in that room was just amazing, and, as Tara & Nikky both noted, it was like a continuum, the poetry torch passed down from Nikky to Tara to the talented teen mothers, and then back up again.  A night to remember.
  • I did manage to finish my poem, but contrary to everything I said, it required a LOT of revision.  It’s now 19 lines, versus the 18 lines I left off with, with only a few lines resembling the earlier version.  Moral:  sometimes I am full of crap.
  • Did you know that the reason a baby’s breath is so very sweet is a baby has no teeth?  Bacteria causes odor, teeth harbor bacteria, hence, no teeth, no bad breath.

As promised: a Spontaneous Vision of Cuteness.
As promised: a Spontaneous Vision of Cuteness: Vincent & Aidan.

Milestones.

Happy Birthday to me -- I'm 3, I'm 3!
Happy Birthday to me -- I'm 3, I'm 3!

Vincent turned three on Saturday, so I baked him a cake.  From scratch.  You’ll note I have not posted a picture of said cake.  Oh, it tasted quite wonderful, actually, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, and Vincent adored it.  Which was a big relief, because it looked like crap.  I wish I was joking.

Because I find it mildly embarrassing how truly awful that cake looked, and because such things feel like a challenge from the universe (“En garde!”), I have resolved to bake another cake today.  My sister, whose birthday was also this weekend, is arriving with my mum for a visit some time this morning, so another birthday cake seems in order.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the first cake is completely gone.

Can you dig it?
Can you dig it?

Good Times.

My little Mr. Magoo.
My little Mr. Magoo.

Emma commented below something to the effect that she doesn’t know how I do it all.  And my reply is, I don’t.  The lion’s share of my time right now is spent taking care of Aidan and Vincent.  I’ve taken notes for poems, actually read some books of poems, but I haven’t even picked up the novel I began reading while I was in the hospital.  I try to keep the apartment neat, for my own sanity, but actual cleaning, well, housekeeping was never my strong suit.  I don’t answer the phone — that’s what voicemail is for.  It’s frigidly cold, so we hardly go out but for necessities.  Simply put, if there’s something you tend to do on a daily basis, I probably don’t.

And all that is just fine, exactly as it should be, because these early baby days are fleeting, and Vincent is growing by leaps and bounds, and all too soon these boys who give me barely a second’s rest won’t want me around, will roll their eyes at me and mutter, “Whatever.”  I may be bleary-eyed and irritable, but that doesn’t keep me from smothering those little heads with kisses while I can.

In preparation for the poetry-writing-drought that was inevitable after Aidan’s birth, I sent out many submissions, or what I consider many, a few months ago.  If I’m not writing, I at least want a bunch of my poems out there!  Last week was particularly trying on the home front, but I’m happy to say that  poetry-wise I’ve had a string of good luck.  So I’m not complaining.  But more on that later.

Momentary Calm.

"I must hold that baby!" says our Monkey boy.

Last Sunday I got further than I’ve ever managed on the NYT Sunday crossword puzzle, primarily because I spent the day working on it as I huffed through contractions, unable to concentrate on anything beyond the Sunday paper.

This Sunday, I’ve haven’t had the time to read more than a section or two of the paper, never mind the crossword puzzle.  It’s a whole new world.  I have five siblings! — I am now convinced, after just a week with a mere 2 children, that my mum has some secret Superpower, or vast reserves of extraordinary patience at the very least.  Seriously.

This blog is now a year old, and quite the bewildering year it’s been.  Very little about it has turned out as I, quite reasonably, expected.  Aidan was a complete surprise, as was the bookstore closing.  The topography of my life has changed in nearly every way imaginable, and I don’t think I’ve fully come to grips with that.  The unmoored feeling persists, and writing time harder to come by than ever.

But oh my, that new baby smell is intoxicating!  And Vincent, when he’s not regressing and making me cry, kisses his new brother’s head with the sweetest enthusiasm.

Ho Ho Ho!

Still pregnant.

But after 4 days of antibiotics, I feel blissfully better, enough to go to my friend Lea’s house last night for a holiday hoe-down. Great fun!

Jamming in the kitchen.
Jamming in the kitchen.
Lea & I by her Christmas tree.
Lea & I by her Christmas tree.

Lance and Vincent came, too, but left early once Vincent’s fascination with all the lit candles could no longer be distracted by butterfly crackers and cupcakes.

Gratuitous cute Vincent picture in which he dons Lea's rhinestone red reading glasses.  He cried most wretchedly when he had to leave them behind.
Gratuitous cute Vincent picture in which he dons Lea's rhinestone red reading glasses. He cried most wretchedly when he had to leave them behind.

Darn good thing Lea lives just a few blocks away — it’s still snowing! I took advantage of a small break in the storm to walk home from the party last night — there were plenty of rides to be had, but what a lovely night, and I didn’t have far to go, and the crisp winter air was refreshing after all this illness — and let’s not overlook the (remote) possibility that this little exertion could help kickstart labor.

Okay, no luck. But for the first time it truly felt like the holidays yesterday. We actually have our very first Christmas tree this year (previous dwellings were too small to accommodate anything more than a festive plant.) (But it is sparsely decorated with colored lights and a few bamboo ornaments. Perhaps Vincent & I will work on that tomorrow after we go to the prenatal appointment.)

Lance’s older sons, Cassidy & Morgan, both came over in the early afternoon and helped him put up the new baby’s sky basket — a new configuration was called for now that we live in an entirely new place since Vincent’s birth.

I doubted and worried, but Lance had a plan, and it works. (Pictures will be forthcoming once the sky basket’s new resident arrives.)

Oh, and my spoils from the Yankee Swap last night? — a tin of Lindt chocolate truffles! Who would dare take chocolate from the pregnant woman? It’s the little victories, yes?

Home. Every day. Small nuggets.

Yesterday, Vincent & I went downstairs to check the mail, and he, because he’s fun that way, locked the door behind us.  Hence I discovered how ludicrously easy it is to pick the lock of our apartment.  Good thing we own nothing worth stealing.

*

Being home so much is very odd, but now we’re both sick I haven’t had much of an opportunity to use this time well.  I’m measuring my days in balled-up tissues and cold cups of tea.

*

It does, however, give me far too much time to dwell on all my overdue submissions, and where the heck are they, and why won’t anyone respond to my emails.  Not altogether helpful, but I don’t currently have the brain capacity to actually write, as evidenced by this feeble post, so I’m giving myself permission to obsess.

*

For those of you who care & are keeping track of such things, I’m now 38 weeks, and the baby has dropped.  So there’s progress, at least!