As you may know, Megan recently returned from Middlebury's Breadloaf Writer's Conference...well, she wasn't as much there as she was here, commuting 2 hours back and forth from Shaftsbury to Middlebury on an almost daily basis so she could change diapers and calm tantrums.
A day into Breadloaf, Megan received a call from a neighbor stating they had found a stray cat, possibly our missing grey cat Greta. Just picture a happy, hopeful Megan speeding back to Shaftsbury, only to find a scrawny petite cat in the neighbor's yard who was obviously not grey, and obviously not our beloved Greta.
But of course the empathetic Megan couldn't just leave this cat. She has a perpetually bleeding heart.
"She's a 1-2 year old petite girl who might have some fleas," Megan told me on the phone, as she headed back to Breadloaf after depositing the crated cat at the clinic.
Turns out that she was a he - and more likely 13 years old. He most certainly had fleas. A quick physical exam revealed he had 4 remaining teeth of the original 30.
His knees creak when walking, but he's a loveable old gentlemen and the techs at WMAH fixed him right up, washing the flea dirt away, putting weight back on his bones. Already he's endeared himself to the front desk.
Of all the cats that have crossed my path, he's one of the most gentle. Even while shaking my head in disbelief that Megan was suckered into taking him in, and then myself suckered into taking him in, she somehow picked the right cat. "He needs a noble wilderness name, like Emerson or Thoreau," Megan instructed me, leaving the scrawny, flea-bitten cat in my care.
Sorry, dear, but you were at Breadloaf - and we named him Gomer.
A few photos and notes from our July 4th week camping venture with the babies:
1. The Dogtor, holding Z and gazing out over Lake George from the point from our camp site.
2. F, in complete camp mode - faux tattoo, fresh from a nudie swim, reading a good book (The Maggie B, compliments of Jamie Quatro).
3. Me and Z, who is holding up an accidental OK sign on the boat, which she loved, and which often caused her to spontaneously fall asleep.
Of note: Despite the unsafe rocky terrain, high winds, and drowning potential of a lakeside camp site, I got in some reading time, and read Stuart Nadler's INCREDIBLE novel WISE MEN. It comes out in February, and I recommend it wholeheartedly. It put me in a 2 day book coma. More on that soon.
Now - onto doing mountains of dirty laundry, disposing of lukewarm cooler food, and finding creative ways to use boatloads of kale, cucumbers, and zucchini from the garden. Oh yeah - and writing that novel, SHEPHERD, WOLF.
We were eating pancakes on the porch this morning and, looking at this scene, I thought: this is it
, this is how I want to remember my life. This is the real, the magical in the mundane, our particular brand of domestic bliss. Domestic chaos.
Observed: the ratty prayer flags overhead, Z throwing bananas and hooting about pancakes in her antique "transformer" highchair, two dogs begging (and one rooting through weeds underneath the porch), two cats hanging around hoping for handouts and one yanging behind a screen door. F has just picked a pink lily, the kind that have been growing by our front porch for years and always remind me of Bo's mother. Scarlet roses for the backdrop, a bin of our own raspberries on the table, a jar of maple syrup made by our friends.
I'm always interested, when writing about families, in what their domestic mode is, what their particular brand of chaos is
I know I've been quiet lately, but spring is at once very busy and full of reflection time. You see, I get all tangled up about spring. During the Vermont winter, the southerner in me longs for the warm seasons. I picture the garden and dinners al fresco, white wine with ice cubes, babies toddling nude in the grass. But spring also stirs up a little melancholy.
Three years ago, in May, we lost the Dogtor's mother (above, left), just as I gave birth to our first daughter. This spring we lost Mom Mom, the Dogtor's grandmother (above right). Both women were inspirations for me, and I find myself wanting to share the good stuff with them - the babies, the writing, the Dogtor in his prime.
We put Captain Nemo, our first dog, down in April. One of my friends took her own life two weeks ago. I have always given birth in spring, and the weather, the scent in the air, makes me restless as I remember the sleepless nights, the profound changes I've come around to as the Vermont winter fades.
There are gardens to put in, final papers to grade. Bebe Z is walking. I sold my novel to Scribner. When I run, often at twilight, I am bowled over by Vermont's natural beauty, the vernal pools teeming with peepers and red-winged black birds. There is an embarrassment of good stuff in my life right now, but that doesn't keep me from getting a knot in my throat when I'm out on the porch alone, sun setting.
Thinking time is writing time.
Last week, the Dogtor and I drove to Pennsylvania to celebrate the life of his grandmother.
Sally passed away at the age of 93, on the cusp of 94.
She was a modest Quaker and wouldn't like me going on about her life; this I know. So I'll say just a little. Like many of her generation, she participated in World War II efforts by serving in the Red Cross. She was shot in the shoulder while tending a soldier in Nepal, and later rode a motorcycle on the Burma Road
A line from her high school yearbook: "Her hobbies are hunting birds, and fishing fish, and liking dogs."
See? Liking dogs. Heritable. She produced a line of veterinarians, this woman.
I like looking at the Dogtor, his sister, and my girls, and knowing they each have a bit of Sally in them. The world needs more women like her, women that seek to do good, are handy with tools, have a sense of fun, and know a thing or two about the natural world. I'll strive to be one of them, and put two more into the universe.
I have a motto for myself: Always sprint up the driveway, in case your girls are watching.
Last May, the Dogtor and Dogtor Sr (OPA) ran the Tough Mudder
on Mount Snow - 11 miles of military obstacles, a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project. I was 37 weeks pregnant, and I promised myself that a year later I would run that race.
And I did.
Last Saturday we inched on our bellies through small, muddy tunnels, jumped into sub-40 degree water, hiked ridiculous inclines, army crawled under barbed wire, carried logs, all with mud to our knees. The video above is of our finish, running through dangling live wires while leaping over hay bales.
My body still hurts. My forearms are scratched. My knee is upset with me. But we had an incredible time, mostly because we had an incredible team.
I was not tall enough for the monkey bars. I was unable to move after dropping 15 feet into freezing water, and it took me 3 tries to sprint up the half pipe into the Dogtor's waiting arms. But Bebe F was on the sidelines cheering for me, and she was watching.
Hello All - While Megan readjusts herself to the VT Homeland (playing with the girls and churning through schoolwork), I thought I'd take the opportunity to a) introduce myself, b) defend my parenting skills while the mom is away, and c) comment on how wonderful it is to watch my life partner go through all this BOLP excitement.
a) Megan refers to me as the Dogtor - call me what you will but don't believe everything she writes about me.
b) Indeed, I was on girl duty for four nights in a row and while their Mom missed them horribly, my hope is that she felt comfortable leaving them in my care. Sure, I may have let our 10 month old bury her head in the side of the beagle while giggling at the cat - but it's not like she found and ate chicken poop in the driveway...or did she? Sure, our 3 year old may have run around the house wearing nothing but a tutu - but it's not like I'd let her blindly go down a 3 story slide...or did I?
c) While the job and children (and dogs/cats/chickens/goats/horse) keep me close to home, I have been lucky enough to see Megan read from BOLP four times thus far. The feeling of watching your spouse up in front of a crowd share her stories is difficult to describe, especially for someone not in the literary world (although fluid therapy texts and laparotomy instructions may prove more exciting than you might think). I marvel at her ease in talking in front of friends and fans - her pre-reading insights, her dedications, her southern accent coming out for moments of southern dialogue, the natural and original way of answering post reading questions. She rocks. She is stunning. She is brilliant.
Is your spouse allowed to gush on your own website? Just in case I'm not, here's Megan trying to climbing a tree:
So please, next time she's reading and I can't be there, send me a picture.