musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

how does it happen

One day, which seemed to go on forever, I was pregnant.

Then 4 years ago, on April 1st, Toots made a rather extreme entrance to the world. Seriously, she almost landed on the hospital room floor. And that’s generally her personality now. When she’s ready for something, she knows it, and consequently so does everyone else rather soon after.

Toots at six months

Toots at one year

Toots at two

Toots at three with low piggie tails

Now she is four.

I usually post my kids’ bdays as lists by age of interesting things about them. Her list is fairly short, only because she hasn’t tallied a whole lot of years. But she has done a whole lot of living.

1. Toots isn’t exactly a Tomboy, but she keeps up with her really big brothers and can hold her own. She chooses to wear dresses about as often as I do – not very often at all. She has her own flair when she dresses, mixes patterns and loves cwazy socks. she manages to still be pretty well color-coordinated even with hearts and stripes and polka dots. She loves hiking and camping and gardening.

2. Her hair is near unto un-tamable. she has cowlicks off the back of her head that have their own minds and curls that go in every direction, but mostly right over her face. Her eyes are sparkly coffee beans.

3. She’s smart. She reads, she tells stories, makes up songs, has her fingers talk to each other, her feet, even her knees, which by the way, one knee is a boy and one knee is a girl. and they each have their own voice. She is sarcastic already, and makes wacky faces pursuant to any given situation.

4. She is a cuddler, she squeezes into every nook and cranny of me. She loves and loves and laughs and acts silly and wants to make everyone smile.

What’s not to love

April Fool’s Day hasn’t been the same since.

And this year, neither will Palm Sunday. Our yard (barring rain) will be full of her peers.

it begins…

child of a writer….


She told it to me much more animatedly before I turned the camera on.


This past weekend, Honey and I started the stripping, power-washing, sanding and milk-painting of Toots’s new big girl bed, which will be her upcoming birthday present. A local friend had this project sitting in her garage long enough for her kids to grow up and then it sat in ours for a couple of years, too. Finally, we got to it. Toots was an excellent helper during the process. It took most of the weekend to get one set of head and footboards completed. On Saturday, St Patrick’s Day, Captain Comic made a brief appearance to ask what we were doing then disappeared. Mr. Cynic, the stealth teen, never appeared. I think a few grunts from the sofa and from the computer matched his vocal register over the course of the weekend. Guitar jangles and some singing were heard from on high, as well…from the deep recesses of The  Mess Which Doth Not Subside aka the boys’ room upstairs.

Toots even took a couple of photos above! Then she acted the Pin-up and wanted her pic taken. We’re in trouble later, aren’t we?


Yesterday, my writing group got down to business very quickly, and it was just what I needed! I finally FINISHED Draft Three of my manuscript!!!!

I will let it sit a couple of weeks or so, let my usual readers peruse it, and then assess whether it really is ready to be sent out. Then it is query letter time.

The best part about this stage of the writing is I think I will have more brain space and patience for my family, as I am so less frustrated with the writing process mingled with family and work, etc.

And then I will start something new! Because, I wouldn’t be me if I weren’t up to something.

freddie the froggie

Freddie the Froggie is a preschool buddy that Toots and her classmates take turns bringing home and journaling adventures together.

Thankfully, yesterday, I had off from work. I have been intending to start gardening for a while, but between weather and time, I didn’t get going til Freddie came home with us. So we set out to plant seed trays of lettuce and spinach with him. Of course, I apparently cleaned out any seed trays I had lying around last year, so we had to take a trip to the garden center, and first, we had a nacho lunch picnic.

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Yes, I have a lot of work to do in the garden beds before I can plant this year.


The rain has thwarted my gardening plans for the day. Toots was looking forward to being my helper, too, especially after finding little Tinkerbell gardening gloves this weekend.

Instead, so far, we have started laundry and thwarted the giant monster who was holding her invisible friend Clifford (yes, the Big Red Dog)  hostage, trapped in a giant trap but how she could somehow still call on her toy cellphone and discuss rescue plans. She played both sides of the conversation.

kansas two-step

Long ago and far away…Okay, okay, I’ll stop.

But really, I think it was about 1991 and a Boston Poetry open mike night, though I can’t recall which one, because before I had kids, there I was three or four nights a week. Really. It seems most likely it was at the old Bookcellar Cafe in Cambridge or Stone Stone Poetry at TT the Bears in Central Square, Cambridge  when I met him.

Anyway this odd looking character, not unpleasant looking, just odd walked in. A lot of odd people hang out at poetry readings. But H. B. Berlow looked like Mephistopheles with his pointy goatee and waxed mustache. Comically sinister, and he did that thing with his hands, that gesture that he was thinking something mischievous, fingertips dancing against each other, as he raised his eyebrows in quick success, too – straight out of Groucho Marx’s repertoire.

Of course, I didn’t think, “RUN! RUN NOW Run fast!” NO, no, no, I thought, “wouldn’t he be fun to know?” And he was.

For a  few years, he and another dear friend, Joe, and I met for coffee and writing critique at Joe’s place, a little room on the fourth floor on Comm Ave where we watched the sun and clouds and volatile seasons with peaceful sunsets cross the surface of the Hancock Tower and  passionately tore each other’s work apart and built it back up again.  I trusted those guys with my writing, and I hope and think they trusted me with theirs. Critique groups since have had a hard time meeting the bar of what we did all those afternoons in the early nineties. H. B. with his reams of green paper was particular, exacting and always enthusiastic.  We also animatedly discussed everything from baseball to Kierkegaard, rock and roll to Berlioz.

And then H. B. followed a woman to the land of Great Plains and strip malls, and a decade or more later I followed a man to Virginia, and at some point, Joe moved out of that little room all the way to Cambridge and is still among my dearest friends. I hate to stay it, but H. B and I lost touch for a long time, but Joe filled me in on his doings from time to time. About a year or so ago, H. B. and I got back in touch around a Nanowrimo, I think, with a little reconnecting thread from Joe’s needle.

In the time since, H. B. Berlow has published the above book, Kansas Two-Step. It has arrived at my door via a little contest he announced on his blog, The Tikiman Says. I got lucky in the random drawing. But at least I gave him a good laugh in the process. He asked for entrants to comment on his webpage re: what their favorite dance is. Here is my guestbook comment:

i do a rather cockeyed shuffle ball change in my kitchen often enough to embarrass my kids. that is my favorite dance, esp when the teen’s friends are here.

This is not a review. Admittedly, I haven’t read the book yet, it just arrived, but if the H. B. I knew and read with relish in my twenties is anything like the one I know now, and I can assure you he is – funny, irreverent, thoughtful, imaginative and full of pop culture and high art references – then you will love this book. And I can guarantee his writing has only improved through passion and diligence in the past twenty or so years. That is the H. B. Berlow I knew, who wrote fiction, poetry and plays, often at the same time.

Click on the book image to purchase Kansas Two-Step!


And they say people with autism have no empathy. Look at the love and empathy on Captain Comic’s face as he cradled Lucy this morning on the way home from the vet after yesterday’s bladder stone surgery.

He really loves her.

She tried to eat the vet when he attempted to give her her antibiotic this morning.

I gave it to her fine.

Lucy is a nervous little dog who was a stray possibly for the first year of her life. We’ve had her since. She loves us and we love her, even when she is too revved up and knocks Toots down, or jumps too much and barks at guests, or anyone who walks or drives down the street…She’s not to keen on men who aren’t part of our family.

She escapes underfoot through our front door, and always comes home within five minutes. It’ll be tough to keep her from running until the sutures come out in 10 days…and tough to keep that cone on.

I’m sure glad she’s home.

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