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Hive work

On Thursday (May 30th for my records) I opened up the hive to do some major work. The bees were not building comb down from their top bars as some crazy hippies said they would, so I replaced single top bars with full frames, still without starter foundation but with cardboard strips covered in beeswax to jumpstart the process. I did this for two frames in the hive body and eight frames in the super. (The rest of the space in the hive body is working comb, and the extra space in the super is holding the sugar feeder.) If this doesn't make any sense to you that's fine, I'm only trying to keep a record for later years so I can look back and laugh, "What on earth was I doing??? I was the worst beekeeper in the world!"

In my imagined future I have an increased level of competence and/or humor.

The part I was most worried about was scraping off the ill-placed comb that the bees had built up rather than down. You can see it as big mounds in this picture.

Leah in her beekeeping suit removing messed-up comb from the hive

what are you doing, any of you?>>

The good news is that beeswax is rather soft, and the comb came off with the sharp end of my hive tool. You can see it cutting in the next photo. What you can also see in that photo is smoke pouring out of my smoker. One of the reasons this hive inspection went so much better than the previos one is that 1) I didn't drop my smoker, and 2) I did it on a hot sunny afternoon. There were way fewer bees in the hive and they were way less angry at me than the last time I came.

a close-up of the comb, many bees, and some smoke from the smoker

smoking makes them calm

So theoretically the bees should be doing what they should be doing now, making comb correctly and filling it with honey. Though what they're really doing inside there is anybody's guess. Today what they're doing in the 90 degree weather is pouring out of the hive onto the running board and buzzing around like they're absolutely crazy. Which is basically what my kids have been doing, so I'm not going to freak out about their behavior YET. (I saw some of them sleeping outside this morning and confronted Dan in bed, at 6am, asking whether he thought I should buy another hive body for space. He looked at me like you should look at a mad woman holding a baby and asking for fifty discretionary dollars at 6 in the morning. He told me to calm down and wait until the heatwave is over.)

I'll do another inspection in about a week when I get a new fancier sugar feeder and another super. The cost of these bees has just jumped by $100, to $450 so far. They'd better give us A LOT of honey.


a weekend in the life

Zion in his swim suit and swim hat at the pond


Last Friday at work folks were asking me if I had any plans for the weekend. I didn't have anything exciting to share: like most times, all I could say was something along the lines of, "hang out at home, enjoy the sunshine, maybe do some gardening..." Looking back, that's pretty much how it went. But it occurs to me to write a bit of a narrative about how we spent our time, because I have to justify my lack of expansive weekend plans somehow!

We got up nice and early Saturday morning; around 6:00 for me, as Leah reports. I spent some time outside enjoying the cool of the morning then read for a while while Leah played with the boys, then I made us a breakfast of pancakes, ham, and fried potatoes (well, the potatoes were only for me). Then more playing—it was Legos, if I recall—until around 8:45 when Leah headed off to exercise with her dad and we boys took Rascal out for a stroll (with stops for playing, or course).

Zion and Harvey playing around a minuteman statue

celebrating independence (the boys are in the picture somewhere)

When we got back at 10:00 it was so hot that Harvey reconsidered his plan of riding bikes and we huddled inside til Leah got home. Then we initiated preparations for the year's first trip to Walden Pond, preparations that were slowed significantly by a missing Pow-Pow (the working theory was that Harvey left him at the park, but a trip out there to search turned up empty; don't worry, we found him behind the couch later).

Our relief from the heat was delayed still further when we found the pond closed due to overcrowding. It was just before noon then, and we had to wait until 1:30 for it to reopen. Luckily we keep a Mass Audobon membership for just such an eventuality, so headed over to Drumlin Farm to have our lunch and hang out for a bit.

Leah and the boys (wearing their swimsuits) walking towards the bird enclosures

alright as a second choice

Of course, we took in the sheep and birds while we waited. Zion is a big fan of sheep.

Zion looking in at the sheep pen

many reets!

Back at the pond at the appointed hour, we waited for a while in a line of idling cars (sorry, Thoreau), then dealt with a bathroom emergency (compounded by some bathroom obstinacy) but eventually, by about 2:15, we made it into the water. It was lovely. We stayed a while.

Leah and Harvey in the shallow water

this is the life

We headed home a bit before 5:00. Had dinner, did a little work in the garden, played for a while—neither parent can actually remember this time period in any detail. Should have started this write-up sooner. Clearly, we went to bed at some point.

Sunday morning much the same; hanging out in the garden I picked the first strawberries of the season. We left church around 8:30; for the first service we were each teaching Sunday school, Leah with Harvey and Zion and I in the 4th-grade classroom. Then we played on the playground for a little while, but the heat kept most of the kids away so before long we went in to the second service; the boys played with toys while we pretended to listen.

We planned to meet up with some friends for lunch but none of us are much for planning, so we just wandered towards Mass Ave and eventually ended up at an Indian buffet, where we gorged and chatted for an hour and a half or so. Then we faced the long walk back to the car, which we almost completed; I only had to do the last two or three blocks by myself to bring the car back to the stragglers.

After a brief stop in Arlington to drop off plants and pick up compost and other trash we made it home a little before 4:00, with both boys sound asleep. We read and relaxed for a while and then decided that, in the interest of ever getting them to bed, we'd better wake them up before it was too late. Happily the weather was cooling quickly and they were happy to get up and play outside for the next several hours while I worked in the garden and Leah got some things done inside. A picnic supper was involved, before a few raindrops chased them up to the porch.

Since I was trying to get a whole lot of things done before the forecast rain I kept working outside until 8:15 or so, then we put the boys to bed. I would have happily gone to sleep myself then, but I was writing this blog post and waiting for the bread I somehow managed to bake while doing some of the above activities to cool enough to put away so I stayed up a bit. I also finally got hungry for dinner at around 9:30, so I was glad to be still awake for that.

So there you have it; our weekend, such as I can reconstruct on Sunday and Monday evening. It may be, as I just described it to Leah, the longest and most boring blog post ever, but not all history is exciting. And it was all good fun at the time.


a little over the top?

some tomato plants

a few of the many

I keep wondering if I've put in enough tomato plants. That's kind of crazy... after this evening's work there are now over 30 scattered around the garden (or gardens, as it seems to be now). I think the count stands at 31, but I could have missed a few. Why on earth do I feel that might not be enough? Well, in terms of total numbers its clearly quite sufficient, but when I split it between the dozen or so varieties we're growing I wonder if maybe I don't have enough cherry tomatoes, or heirloom slicers, or sauce tomatoes? Who knows what we're going to need the most?! Leah is being very patient with me, especially considering that she's the one who processed all the tomatoes we froze last summer.

But don't worry, it's not all tomatoes all the time; we also have 14 pepper plants, 20 or so cucumbers, 12 basil (and more to find space for), 24 feet of thickly-sowed peas... you get the idea. If all goes well the farm stand will be well-stocked this summer.

small tomato plants

the latest additions


lazy strawberry picking

some strawberries in a bowl

the day's take

Strawberry season is upon us, and it's just about too much work. I couldn't even bring myself to take a new picture; the one that heads this post is really from last year. But this year it's pretty much the same scenario. I actually thought we weren't going to get strawberries this year: the plants were hit hard by the winter, and my neglectful weeding has let raspberry canes take over nearly half of the strawberry patch. But come June they started ripening almost as good as usual.

My next thought was that maybe the kids would pick them all for direct eating, and that worked for the first couple days. But this evening Harvey came in with a beautiful strawberry for Mama (very sweet, and gets him maybe 10% back into her good graces) and told us it was the only one out there. Upon investigation, that was proved to be completely false.

There's no netting up over the berries this year, so if birds and animals wanted they could make off with the whole crop. But the critters—many of them, at least—only eat like a third of each berry they decide to go for, and then leave the remains lying around all over the place, so it's more infuriating than anything else. The chickens might have done better, but I decided that I object in principal to having them graze on anything I planted (after they ate all the kale and collards this spring) so I fenced them out.

So we have to eat strawberries. In truth, there's not so many as to be onerous: a few to snack on, some more on cereal, a spinach salad with strawberries and walnuts—they do disappear. And they're pretty tasty this year, though mostly small. I guess maybe it's worth the work picking them after all.



This morning I was glad I left home in good time, because not too long into the journey to work I heard a thunk behind me that I knew right away was something falling off. I stopped, but even before I turned around I was nervous about the fact that there was only one thunk, unexpected behavior for an object falling on pavement from a bicycle moving at a fair rate of speed. My worst fears were confirmed when I saw that my tail-light was missing and there was a storm drain just behind where I'd stopped. Yes of course, the light had dropped off (my fault for not making sure it was attached all the way) and bounced once directly down the grate. On the plus side, it floats and the water wasn't flowing hardly at all down there!

I wasn't far from home, so I quickly hopped back on the bike and zipped back around the corner. I found a four-foot dowel and a metal hanger left over from the consignment sale, and with a little drilling and clipping fashioned a handy light-hooking tool. (I knew just what to do thanks to long experience as a child fishing balls out of similar drains; though my workmanship is considerably better now.) I had a little scare when my first fishing attempt knocked the light out of sight further down the drain tunnel, but working from a different angle I was able to hook it back and up. Then I stowed the tool safely in the woods for later retrieval and scurried on to work.

On the way home I was going as quick as anything hoping to beat the expected rain (motivated by a few spitting drops already falling) when there was a very surprising bang and a significant wobble in my forward motion. In this case my first thought—that my terrible shoddy-though-expensive fenders had somehow fouled the spokes—was wrong, and it was only a double-headed nail pushed clean through the rear tire. I rode on the flat for a little while, anxious not to have too far to walk on the heavily-trafficked road, but wanting to be able to ever use those wheels again I soon resigned myself to walking (I do have tools to fix a flat—everything but an actual portable pump, which is out of my price range).

Was I terribly put out by either of these occurrences? I was not. In the first case I was able to solve the problem and demonstrate my ingenuity and in the second I actually quite enjoyed the walk. The rain mostly held off, and it's not so often I get to walk two or three miles by myself. The broken bicycle was only a minor impediment. That's one reason I like cycling; problems with bicycles are much easier to cope with than ones you have with cars. As long as you don't have to be somewhere in too much of a hurry, you're pretty much safe and self-reliant, which sure sounds good to me.

That said, I sure hope my commute is less eventful tomorrow!



Our homeschooling routine right now is nothing more than a proof of concept. I'm trying to prove to myself that it's possible to execute quiet attention times in house with a toddler. On average we do a half hour of bible in the morning and a half hour of reading while Zion naps. Sometimes it's way more and sometimes it's way less. Sometimes Zion doesn't nap. Either way, we do just enough structured learning to make me feel like the future isn't terrifying.

We have been re-reading the Little House series in the afternoon, which Harvey affectionately calls "Laura and Mary." "Mama!" Harvey squeals this morning at 6:20am, "We didn't read Laura and Mary yet! And we didn't read the bible and have our coffee!"

I guess you could say he's zealous about learning.

A few weeks ago we read the scene from Little House when Ma gets a sprained ankle. Harvey asked where the ankle bone is, and I acted all learner-lead-lesson-maker about it, showing him some pictures on the ipad and pointing out where he could feel the bones on his own body. Well, he just ate that up, and asked me about other bones he could feel. I went to get my bone book from college, but when that proved to be in the attic I gave up for the day and I took a bone book out of the library instead (way easier than getting a ladder). The first layout in the library book was bones of the ribcage, and Harvey suddenly became fascinated with the rib cage, asking to see pictures of crocodiles ribcages and monkey ribcages. Why do we have a rib cage? he asked. To keep our lungs safe, obviously, and then I took out a library book on respiration (though in the end, all Harvey really got was that we breath in and our lungs get bigger). Still, I was feeling pretty chuffed with myself, like this homeschool stuff just writes itself.

Then we had a week of terrible days. I was feeling sick; the kids just wanted to bug each other. Zion started saying NO! and hitting his brother. It was raining. If the kids were teaching themselves anything it was how to piss off mom.

Harvey had a string hanging off of his sock and he wanted me to cut it off for him, but when I brought a scissors he insisted that HE wanted to do it, and so I gave him the scissors and he cut a hole in his sock, and then he cried that there was a hole in his sock. I said he could get another pair from upstairs and he screamed, "No! YOU get it!" I said if he wanted to be a big boy and solve his own problems he could walk upstairs and get a new sock, but if he wanted to be a baby then babies don't play with scissors and I'm putting the scissors away until he's 5. He screamed that he wanted me to get a new sock AND he wants to play with scissors and I reiterated his options, a little peevishly because even though I said I wasn't mad that he accidentally cut his sock I was a little mad because it was a brand new sock. He lay in the floor in an angry crying mess and Zion crawled onto my lap and I forget exactly why but he started hitting me.

I shut my eyes and drew in a deep breath. "I'm going to be quiet now," I said, "and breath in and out slowly until I get not angry." I inhaled to a count of five. I exhaled to a count of ten. For several seconds it was miraculously quiet in the house.

Then Harvey piped up. "Mama!" he exclaimed, "When you do that your ribcage gets bigger!"


baptism by lamplight

"Mama!" Harvey shouts from the other room, "We follow Jesus even though we're not baptized!"

This is enough to pull me away from my sewing machine and the superhero capes that I'm making the boys. I walk to my bedroom where Harvey and Zion are playing on the bed.

We had read our picture book of the Nicene creed that morning, and it seems as if Harvey is doing some processing about baptism.

"You follow Jesus even though you're not baptized?" I repeat to him. He nods. I don't want to tell him that actually he WAS baptized, because Zion wasn't, and I don't want either of them to feel left out among their peer group now that we go to a church which practices on adult baptism.

"You can be baptized if you want to, Harvey," I say. "Once you decide to follow Jesus."

"But we DO follow Jesus," he says.

Well yes, corporately, as a family that's true. But in our modern protestant theology there's an individual choice that's important too. I say:

"Well, to be baptized you have to realize that you need Jesus, and you have to decide to follow him for your whole life." Suddenly I feel anxious, like I'm forgetting some part of the formula. How do I lead someone through a salvation, again? What if I'm tested on it on Sunday?

"Everybody needs Jesus," he says.

"True" I say. Nobody can argue with that. But there's this issue of sin that I remember is important.

"Why do you need Jesus?" I ask.

Harvey looks at me with his spotless face. "Because he takes care of me!" he says.

This is Harvey my budding saint who the other day screamed from the bathroom, "Mama! It's amazing! God healed Zion's Poison Ivy!" Because the red spot on Zion's arm had disappeared miraculously after a seven day waiting period. And I don't want to say, Well, Zion's body healed the poison ivy. Because isn't it miraculous that God made our bodies so ready to heal themselves? Who am I to say that God heals instantly but the bodies he created heal in seven days? Maybe Harvey's faith is better than mine. Maybe I shouldn't bother him with sin.

But I try.

"He does take care of you, Harvey." I say. "And also he takes away your sins. If you do something bad that separates you from God, Jesus takes the sin away from you. That's an important part of baptism..."

But Harvey is not listening anymore. He has gotten up and gone back to his play, which is putting small pieces of paper into the bedside lamp to see if they'll catch on fire. This is what he was doing, apparently, while I was sewing his birthday present.

And I think, never mind the sins. Thank You Jesus for taking care of him.

superhero capes without letters

ripped from my hands before I could add logos


words I want to remember

In my mind I think I will remember every adorable thing that my children say, but in real life I can't remember any moment before last week. Dan will say, "Remember when ... something meaningful in our relationship happened?" And I will say, "No, but I remember when was the last time I washed diapers, kids clothes, towels and delicates. The laundry cycles are consuming all of my working memory."

And then I thought: But this is what the blog is for! Recording adorable moments with a date stamp so that years later I can look back and say "Oh how precious the children were! Why weren't you just absolutely orgasming over every single minute of it?" And then I will judge my former self, because I have no compassion for past iterations of me. "What a terrible mother I was, not to slather them with kisses at every single moment," I will say. "It went by too fast!"

Hey Leah of the future: enjoying all your luscious and complete sleep cycles? Bite me!

Here are some cute things my kids said this week:


Me: "Harvey, do you want to move these magnetic letters downstairs to the refrigerator so we can spell more words?"

Harvey: "Yeah, let's do that but not now. Let's do that the next day. Life is never ending!"

(I don't know where he heard this 'life is never ending' thing, probably something I said when I was complaining about the chores.)


Me: "Oh, sounds like Zion is waking up."

Harvey (climbing up the stairs): "I'm coming sweetie! I'm coming baby!"

Zion (shouting from the bed): "Noooo! Me todder!"


Zion is sitting in the middle of an empty living room whining for something we can not figure out.

Zion: "goosey hemet"

Me: "Goosey Helmet?"

Zion: "uuh." (this means yes.)

Me: "Harvey, do you know what he's saying?"

Harvey: "He's saying goosey helmet."

Me: "That's what I thought he was saying, but that doesn't mean anything."

Zion (more insistantly): "goosie hemet. goosie hemet nock down."

Me: ????

Zion: "My Petuh? My Deedees?"

Me: "Oh! The city of Jerusalem? The city of Jerusalem got knocked down?"

Zion: "uuh."

Me: "And you want me to rebuild it with blocks? So you can play with your Peter and your Jesus?"

Zion: "uuh. Tempoo nock down."

Me: "Oh. Why didn't you say that in the first place!"


it's officially summer...

...when the pool opens!

harvey in the sprinkler park

collecting coolness

We went to our local pool and sprinkler park for several hours on Saturday. There is a sandy beach, a dock, a sprinkler park, and a playground. (There's also a concession stand which I am pretending does not exist.) After four hours of playing it still took tremendous effort to get the boys to leave at half past dinner time. And only then because I promised we could go back on Monday.

zion running in the sprinkler park

a 2-year-old running in a sprinkler is the definition of joy

This is basically my plan for the rest of the summer.


his fourth party

Harvey and his birthday cake

sneaking a peek

Never mind Fathers Day; around here this weekend is more popularly known for the celebration of Harvey's birthday. And what a party we had this afternoon!

This morning one of my Sunday school students, hearing about our plans for the celebration, spent some time telling me about her younger sister's memorable parties—dogs, gymnastics, horses...—and she wanted to know what the theme was going to be for Harvey's 4th. No theme, I told her; unless you count hanging out, eating, and drinking.

I feel tremendously lucky that we have so many good friends who are willing to come to our chaotic, theme-free parties (though this one did come with some pretty good hamburgers and cake—chocolate with chocolate frosting in the latter case, as per request). Harvey may not realize it now, but he's lucky too, and not just because he scored a totally awesome play tent and real sleeping bag. Thanks everyone for coming!

I only wish I hadn't been too busy grilling and having fun to take more pictures, but never mind—you know what we all look like anyways.


go big or go home

We haven't said as much as we should have in these pages about Zion's language, which is really coming into its own lately. As is fitting for a small younger brother, one of his most significant concerns is for bigness. Naturally he compares the size of things with words and appropriate intonation—"leetew neigh, BIG BIG neigh!"—but he also uses big to make sure he gets his due. "Me wan BIG coffee!", for example, or "No not littew juice, BIG juice!" (in both cases big refers not to the absolute size of the beverage but the relative concentration of his valued ingredient to the fillers we insist on foisting on him). Or "Moe wibbot! Me wan BIG wibbot!" (and only the close association of that last word with our breakfast of pancakes allows us any chance at understanding it!). Yes, this little boy knows what he deserves, and in almost all cases it's big—unless it's the bottle he's still clinging to: "no, me littew littew bottew!"

swimming in sin

In a few days it will be Harvey's 4th birthday and I will write some beautiful blog post gushing about his awesome qualities, and how much I love him, and how I'm luckier than all the other mothers in the world.

But this is not that post.

This is about how parenting is sometimes hard shit.

Two days ago we went to our local town pool and Harvey mentioned that he'd like to take swim lessons. Okay, it's not like he ASKED for swim lessons, it's like the seventeenth time I asked him if he wanted swim lessons he shrugged and said, "okay." Either way, it was like a rocket shot me over the moon. For a year I've been asking Harvey to consent to various age-appropriate group activities - baseball, soccer, even ballet though his grandfather would take away his trust fund. Thus far the mention of such things has made him curl up into a ball like an armadillo. (That's the right animal? They curl up like that, right?) Harvey HATES being told what to do by other adults. He barely makes it through kid's church every week, and that's only because I'm in the room, and only because I'm absolutely forcing him to do it. So when he consented to swim lessons I breathed a year-long sign of relief. I said to myself, "This is it! Four years old will be different!"

Then this morning I said we would go to the pool to sign up for the lessons and Harvey fell apart on the kitchen floor. Now swim lessons are the scariest thing on the planet earth. And his mother is an evil dictator for suggesting them. I said we could talk about it later. Let's just go swimming and discuss this another time. He cried harder and stamped his feet and insisted he was not. going. anywhere. ever.

I was disappointed, and not only disappointed but MAD. Because I had been so proud of him on Saturday for agreeing to swim lessons, so proud of his newfound bravery and hopeful for the future. So when he returned to his normal behavior, I was mad at him for getting my hopes up and then dashing them. As if he was doing it just to fuck with me.

But the psychologist-written-book on helping children with anxiety says not to shame them for for their feelings. So instead of saying what I wanted to say I said "Harvey, I'm upset and mad and I need to take a few minutes away from you to calm down."

This mama-time-out approach works for some people who write parenting articles, apparently. But this morning it didn't. This morning it appeared that children having an anxiety attack about separation anxiety because they are afraid of separating from their parents? They do not like to be left alone.

"I want to beeeeee with yooooooooooou!" Harvey screamed from downstairs.

And when I was standing at the top of the stairs, wondering whether I would run down and scream at him, or punish him, or force him to put on his bathing suit RIGHT THAT MOMENT, I realized I was disgusted with my child. Absolutely disgusted. I was absolutely filled with righteous indignation. Because here was this kid manifesting all these disgusting SINS! Like LAZINESS! He's not only lazy because he won't try anything new; he's lazy because he won't even get up off the kitchen floor to come find me! Plus he's getting FAT! And he's cowing to FEAR! He is so completely run by fear that he won't try something he knows he wants to do because something about it suddenly scared him.

And this disgusts me more than anything else in the world, because loud and shrieking on the kitchen floor are MY SINS, the ones I've been trying to hide from the world for twenty years. It's me who is lazy and fat and fearful. My poor genetic duplicate is bawling because he's too afraid to do anything, and I'm thinking, "Yeah. I know what you mean."

I would not be disgusted if they were different sins. I would have compassion for PRIDE, or JEALOUSY, heck I'd have so much compassion I probably wouldn't notice them at all. But LAZINESS and FEAR? And maybe he's a little FAT? That's me if you strip away all my pretense of good qualities. If I stop for one moment cleaning and making and accomplishing and working out? The world would see that I am a lazy, fearful, (filthy?) child.

That should make it easier to love Harvey and for some reason it doesn't.

The people at church on my prayer team would say that I need to forgive myself, my current self and the child-like self inside of me who's been shamed for fatness and laziness and anxiety. And I'm totally in agreement with that advice if I was giving it to SOMEONE ELSE who I was praying for. But for me? Have compassion on myself? No way! Being disgusted with myself is pretty much my M.O. Disgust is my primary motivator. It's how I get like 90% of my chores done.

But for Harvey's sake I'll try to take a baby step. I'll offer him some grace. I may still force him into swim lessons, but I'm not going to talk about it any more this month.

Jesus said (you know what's coming here church goers and I'm sorry for being obvious) Jesus said that unless you become like a little child you can't enter into the kingdom of heaven. I always thought he meant you had to be like innocent and maybe even a little bit needy. Those things lead you to God, obviously. But what if he meant: unless you become like ACTUAL CHILDREN? Unless you're an irrational, impulsive, unfinished jerk, you can't begin to see what God is offering you? Maybe? Because I'm those things though I hate to admit it.


Harvey is four

Harvey is four years old today. He is an amazing creature, both impossibly intelligent and purely innocent (at moments). He takes in the world with all his senses and gives it meaning through the words he so eloquently draws into phrases. For example, he asks to watch a show by calling it "an interesting possibility."

No, Harvey my love. You cannot watch a show.

He wants to see and hear and smell and touch everything. When grownups make him nervous with their expectations, he wishes they could just get out of his way so he could see stuff for himself. Like the toys and the bugs and the plants and the animals. He wants to explore them without annoying know-it-alls asking him his name and what color things are.

smell as sweet

My lovely Harvey is beautiful and stubborn and will not stand for any adult's agenda when he wants to smell a rose. Harvey is my H-ster, he is my very Heart. Happy Birthday Harvey.


if it ain't brokie

We had something of an accident on the way home from the farmers market on Tuesday. No one was hurt, and we determined that the big bike is pretty secure for the kids, even in the case of an upset. The only casualty of the smash-up was my rear wheel, which was bent pretty badly. The guys at the shop say it's too twisted to fix—though I did manage to ride home on it—and a replacement won't be in until next week. Commuting for the last few days of the school year has been affected.

I drove Wednesday, but despite Leah's protestations that it'd be fine for me to take the car again yesterday I knew that my doing so would interfere with Harvey's birthday outing—we couldn't have that! So as an emergency repair I pulled the rear wheel from my older bicycle, which was perfect except for the curious fact that said bicycle was built with the freewheel in the bottom bracket rather than, as is usual today, the rear hub. Which means of course that the rear hub is a fixed-gear hub—albeit one with a five-speed cassette attached. And that means today I premiered what might be the world's first fixed-gear ten-speed.

In the interest of getting places I've pulled some pretty crazy workarounds before; this gambit was nothing so remarkable. The only issue was that I had to remember to keep pedaling. In a regular fixie that's not a concern because the fixed-gear hub naturally makes the pedals move with the wheel's rotation, but on my mutant machine the derailleur removes any chain tension on the bottom side of the chain run. That means that I can actually coast—for a few feet at least, until the chain goes completely slack and potentially gets sucked into the spokes. But that didn't happen, and the need for constant motion was hardly even a problem.

All the more impressive was the fact that on the return trip I managed to carry a banjo and a box holding three four-inch pots (exotic basil plants—my coworkers know what I like!). You car commuters have no idea of the fun you're missing!


no sense of an ending

The school year ended in Lexington today, and thank goodness: it must have been at least 80°F in the classroom this morning at noon. I finished up the year as an assistant in a 2nd grade classroom, so it was a real goodbye to a group of kids I got to know well, but the many months of substituting that led up to it really changed the feeling of the last day for me. After all, there were so many endings this year! The kids—and the other teachers—were all curious about where I'm going to be next year, but I had nothing to tell them. I'm curious myself, truth be told.

As unusual as the last day felt, though, the day after the last day is going to follow true to form: we're planning on going strawberry picking, which seems to be becoming something of a tradition.


The beginning of my vacation was marred slightly by illness and oh-too-hot temperatures. Still, we did a good deal of swimming and some heavy duty relaxing, not to mention picking a whole lot of strawberries, so it couldn't have been all bad. But today both of those problems were better and I celebrated by baking two kinds of bread and putting up three batches of jam. Leah worked hard too, getting us all packed up for our first out-of-state outing since last summer... and the first trip ever beyond the northern New England states for either of our sons. Upstate New York, here we come! More about that anon.

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