Tuesday, January 28, 2014


I was going to post this video for today's Tu(n)esday post, "St. Roch Blues" by Hurray for the Riff Raff...

But then I heard this morning that Pete Seeger died yesterday, so then I wanted to post this video instead...

Instead of resting in peace, I hope Pete continues to inspire others to work for peace with his everlasting songs.

(And I think he'd like Alynda Lee Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff, so I'm leaving their video up here, especially with it's rather appropriate second line footage.)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

#WhereILivedWednesday: Guthrie

The school bus dropped me off at the corner where the red-dirt Rural Route 61 met the two-lane state highway headed out of town towards the Indian Meridian. I picked my way carefully between the ruts and gullies in the road as it sloped gently up past the quarter-mile row of widely spaced houses on the right. Behind the wall of cedar trees on the left lay nothing but a great expanse of cattle pasture.

My house, the house my parents were renting until our old place in the previous town finally sold, was the very last one in the line. A brown brick ranch, it crouched against the prairie, huddled in the angry wind. It seemed to shy away from the house next door as it was situated on the lot closer to the barbed wire fence that separated the lawn (if you could even call it that) from the pasture beyond us, making it appear that we preferred the lowing herd of cattle to our human neighbors.

I trudged up the long gravel circle drive (where I would later learn to drive a stick shift) and let myself in the front door. Everything in the house was dark brown: the shag carpet, the woodwork, the heavy drapes, the wall of brick surrounding the fireplace, the kitchen tile. Unfortunately, my parents' furniture was also all brown, amplifying the feeling of living in a dark, warm hole in the ground. Like a prairie dog den, or the sod houses of our frontier forebears.

Some days when the weather was less brutal than usual, after dumping my backpack and changing into shorts, I would take a notebook and a snack and head back down the driveway and around the corner of the pasture fence out into the uninhabited, untraveled section of the road. Past the line of houses, the windbreak of cedars across the street came to a sudden end and the red clay road ran up between open vistas of grassland on either side. It finally crested the long, low rise right in front of an old, boarded up one-room country schoolhouse before rolling back down to end at an intersection with another two-lane state highway below.

The pasture fence formed a neat square around the back of the ramshackle clapboard school, and someone mowed the grass down around it semi-regularly. From my perch on the peeling front steps, I could study the endless miles of country that tumbled in lazy swells and fanned out in a flat, vast plain under the bowl of turquoise sky. Patches of irrigated green wheat fields hopscotched across the expanse of dry prairie where tall, brown grasses whispered back to the wailing wind. A lonely farmhouse with a sagging porch and a yard full of trucks stood in the shadow of an actual windmill. In the distance, the red-brick town, a series of repeating rectangles within rectangles, sat tucked into the elbow formed by the slash of beige Interstate crossing the muddy Cimarron River.

The land was so flat and wide and the visible horizon was so incredibly distant that any people present in the landscape were dwarfed to invisibility, leaving me with the feeling of being the only living creature alone in a giant glass-domed terrarium. With so much of a view, I wondered how there could possibly be so little to see. How far would I have to go past that point where the highway disappeared into the china blue sky before I found something, anything?

The Brown House was supposedly a temporary doldrums, a pit stop during a time of transition, but years later we were still drifting around in it, biding our time, waiting for the winds to change. As the teenager in the household, I believed I felt the impotent passage of time more acutely than everyone else, even though I was counting down the years to a specific, known moment when my life would surely begin. By what method did my parents count down their own uncertain time? When they walked up the road and looked out over the landscape, was there something in that view that they were longing for?

They did finally sell the old house and build a new, brighter house on the other side of town at the beginning of my senior year. My brother mostly grew up in that house, and my parents live there still, but I did not stay there very long. Just a small handful of months after the move, I was headed out of town on that Interstate highway, bound for college and the wider world beyond that vanishing point on the horizon where you can no longer see where the road goes.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Kate's Birthday Pics

You're dying to see more photos of the girls, aren't you?! Sure. More pictures?!?! Yeah! OK.


Sunday night we had Gram & Grandpa and the neighbors over for pizza and cupcakes.

My Little Pony Everything!

She was super cheesy when we were singing Happy Birthday to her.

She loves the attention.


Rock Star Stage - it plays music and has a light show. Cool.

On Monday, we had her favorite dinner, spaghetti and meatballs, and opened the rest of her presents.

Maggie decided it was almost as good to have a sister with a birthday as your own birthday because you get to share her toys and eat her cupcakes. That Margaret, always looking for an angle.

More stuffed cats! No such thing as too many stuffed cats.

My Little Pony Everything!!!


Afterwards there were many phone calls and My Little Ponies and Legos.
Today, we took more cupcakes to school to share with Kate's class (there's a little boy who's birthday is the day before Kate's and Friday was a snow day), so this should wrap up Kate's Birthdaypalooza. She's a bit sad that the whole thing is over, but she's already counting down the days until NEXT YEAR! 363 DAYS TO GO! WOO HOO!!

Monday, January 6, 2014

20 Questions with Kate, age 5

  1. What is your favorite color? red
  2. What is your favorite toy? Marie-Grace American Girl doll
  3. What is your favorite fruit? apples
  4. What is your favorite TV show? My Little Pony
  5. What is your favorite outfit? pink and purple striped dress with boots
  6. What is your favorite game? Minecraft
  7. What is your favorite snack? apples
  8. What is your favorite animal? Bearby
  9. What is your favorite song? the ABC's
  10. What is your favorite book? Fairy books (Rainbow Magic Fairies series)
  11. Who is your best friend? Viola
  12. What is your favorite thing to do outside? play in the snow
  13. What is your favorite meal? spaghetti and meatballs
  14. What is your favorite drink? milk
  15. What is your favorite holiday? every day
  16. What do you want to be when you grow up? a vet
  17. Where is your favorite place to go? the zoo
  18. What is the best thing about school? because my friends are there
  19. If you could do anything you wanted, what would you do? eat cupcakes
  20. If you could have anything you wanted, what would it be? Minecraft Legos 

Kate is Five Years Old!

January 2013












Fifth Birthday Party!

Christmas Photos... Finally!

Here they are! Here they are! I'm determined to get these up BEFORE I put up posts about Kate's birthday, which is TODAY. Ack.

We opened some of our presents at home before we left for NH.

Marie-Grace: Kate's #1 Christmas Wish, which she was SURE Nana was going to get for her. Not Santa, Nana. Not Mom & Dad, Nana. Not Papa, Nana. Thanks Nana!! You really saved the day!

Hello Kitty Dream Lite, another must have.

So much fun stuff!
Maggie was much less specific about her Christmas list; reminded me so much of myself and my cousin Amy at this age!

Don't you love Kate's outfit?! She put it together herself, of course. Polka dots on top and bottom, AND argyle tights. Sweet.

So Maggie. You gotta open the rest of your gifts, Dude.

Marie-Grace, meet Molly. Molly, Marie-Grace. BFFs!


This is her face on Christmas Eve when she opened her one present and it was pajamas. Maggie was like, "Duh. It's always PJs, man."

So Kate insisted on wearing the nightgown Cousin Amy sent just to spite me.

Christmas morning.
Maggie is ever so politely wearing the Christmas pjs we gave her, even though Kate said hers made her look like a clown.

Poor little E broke her wrist on Christmas Eve and had to go to the emergency room and get a cast! Seems like someone has to go to the ER every Christmas!

Sweet Caroline loves her Auntie Amanda!

The situation was really looking up for Kate right about now.

Package delivery

Is that all for you?!

Finally some toys!

A couple of beautiful boxes full of doll clothes from Gram & Grandpa.

They are some very fortunate girls who got a lot of wonderful gifts.

Easy Bake Oven! The last on Kate's list of things she HAD to have.

Plus, tons of cousin fun! (Warning: Contains Clown Pajamas!!!)

The Aftermath

My favorite part of Christmas, the quiet evening after all the hoopla dies down. New book? Check. Coffee? Check. Kids with new toys ignoring me? Check.

Sleeping baby? Check.

Maggie was in her element, too. That's my girl!

Plus we had some beautiful snow.

Perfect White Christmas

We have a ton of snow and sledding pics, but that will have to be another post.