Our Houses are Such Unwieldy Property

Can you find the fairy house?
I tried to write a post on our way home from Maine, about road trip eating and the rules, pitfalls, and pleasures thereof, but it ended up sounding really stiff and distant and I got so far past my 20 minute rule that I just gave up. Let it suffice to say: UTICA GREENS! Who knew?

Since we returned home Sunday night there have been things I wanted to record - like the small lavender dragonfly with the bright blue rump I saw one day this week - but it has been so crazy trying to settle in. Sunday we went from the highway directly to a party to see friends who moved away a startling 3 years ago and were only in town until early Monday. It was good that we went, important to see them, but it meant starting the week with a pile of luggage and no food (not even coffee) in the house. And then, getting David out the door to the Fringe in NYC (NYT plug; David's blog) and all the other stuff of life. Meanwhile, our house has been a complete disaster to the point that it was making me panic. Throw in some insomnia and an unplanned attendance at the water show at the local pool to see Z's best friend and a gazillion other kids we know dive and swim syncronously until late into the evening while pop music from my own adolescence blared over the PA system into the humid, chlorine-scented night (I think I have never felt more American), and well, it has been a difficult reacclimation.

So Friday when I woke up early to rain and cool weather and my own sense of exhaustion and need for homebound comfort, I decided to declare it a family holiday. Kids stayed home from camp. We had a meeting before breakfast to structure the day a little (alternating periods of free play and housework, with some TV thrown in). That was a wise move on my part. Structure is good. It made for plenty of flopping around, but it also meant we made the house habitable. More than that it made our house ours; we reclaimed the space and began to make progress to the next phase of things -- ZandO getting their own rooms, going back to school, me going back to school (to teach), a better set up for my books and files, a new paradigm. And by the afternoon the day had turned beautiful, and I sent the kids outside to ride bikes and find friends. After a bit Z came inside and said "It's outside time for us, but that means you have to come outside too" and she asked me to come build a fairy house with her in our wild, overgrown, mint-ridden garden. We spent 10 days in Maine, where the fairy houses are a major thing, and after checking the damage to last year's she didn't really engage with them. I feel vaguely guilty, as I think she was waiting for prompting and invitation, from me or David or her grandmother, to build together. But now, here, at home, she prompted me. And we spent time in the sunshine, poking around for materials for the house, weeding a little, talking and imagining, and again, reclaiming our house. It's a pretty special place. 

Reading: I am taken with Gary Shteyngart's piece in the New Yorker about Google Glass. And Maxine Kumin's poem "Xanthopsia" from another recent issue, it's about Vincent Van Gogh and his yellows. Van Gogh's paintings make my soul ache with some kind of deep existential empathy. I cry when I see them in person. As Kumin says "Science has a word—/ xanthopsia—for when objects appear/ more yellow than they really are, but who’s/ to say? As yellow as they are, they are."

Writing: Not enough, but I will get there. I have a new writing space set up in the kitchen.

Dinner: The kids ate with Sarah. I went to the Bottlehouse for a drink (the excellent house-made ginger beer and a very generous pour of bourbon) and iPad geekery with a new colleague, then had leftover Indian potato and kale soup and a glass of Bourdeaux while awaiting their return.

Soundtrack: I realize I am 5 years behind the times, but at water show I decided the Ting Ting's "That's Not My Name" is my new favorite song. Also, David has some Manu Chao in a mix he was playing the other day that made me think I need to spend more time thinking about Manu Chao.

Random thing: It looks like we will have a bumper crop of over-the-back fence, volunteer Concord grapes in another week or so. I am thinking grape pie. Yes, I am.

PS Today's title is from Walden. (In context here.)


  1. I bought "That's Not My Name" that night, please be sure not to buy it again. LOVE YOU!

  2. I love that she said it was outside time for you, too!


Post a Comment