The Sound of Silence

This truly has been the craziest month in recent memory, and definitely not a good time for anyone. Just when Vincent was getting over the flu, Aidan started vomiting late that Saturday night. So I slept with him on the couch while he dry-heaved every few hours. It was quite awful for him.

Then, a few days later, when Aidan was almost over that, Vincent took a spill and displaced his hip. (It’s kind of amazing, actually, to see what falls damage. This was the boy who survived falling out a 2nd story window marked only with a couple scrapes, after all. The important difference was that he landed on grass then, and last week he landed on a hard wood floor.) Not a long-lasting injury, fortunately, but he was in intense pain for several days and completely incapacitated.

When Vincent passed out on the couch that night (see picture above), we left him there — moving him to his bed would have certainly caused him pain. He woke up at 1:30am moaning.  I gave him more children’s Motrin for the pain and inflammation, then carried him to the bathroom. Just when he was settled again and sleeping, Aidan woke up. I changed his diaper, got him back to sleep…and then he woke up again, and proceeded to vomit all over the bed. I changed his pajamas, changed the sheets, and thanked heaven that all this racket somehow failed to disturb Vincent, resting a few feet away. That’s one of the small mercies that help get you through these sorts of days.

The good news is that both boys seem to be back to their sprightly selves now. And, another small mercy: by some miracle their illness hasn’t spread to Lance and me.

To add an element of poetry to this post o’ whine: if you haven’t already, don’t forget to leave a comment in the post below to enter in the Poetry Giveaway for National Poetry Month! April’s almost here, and as far as I’m concerned, it can’t come soon enough!

Dispatches from the Sickhouse

After a remarkably healthy winter our luck ran out: last week Vincent came down with the flu — and believe me when I tell you that this skinny skinny boy really should not do without food for any length of time — and then, as I suppose was inevitable, on Saturday night, Aidan woke up crying:  as soon as I picked him up the generous boy shared the entire contents of his stomach with me.

All of which is to  say that I will continue to be behind and neglectful of my reading & writing on the interwebs for the time being.

Quick list (which is all I have time for): Not-Necessarily-New Books I’m looking forward to reading:

  • Just when I thought I’d reached the end of my Lowell/Bishop jag, I discovered Helen Vendler’s newly released book of essays from Princeton University Press, Last Looks, Last Books: Stevens, Plath, Lowell, Bishop, Merrill.
  • Pulleys & Locomotion, by Rachel Galvin (Black Lawrence Press).
  • Black Leapt In, by Chris Forhan (Barrow Street Press).
  • Tulips, Water, Ash, by Lisa Gluskin Stonestreet (Northeastern University Press). I’ve been wanting to read this since I read Emma Bolden‘s terrific review in the fall 2009 issue of Poets’ Quarterly. This collection was the 2009 Morse Poetry Prize winner. I tend to really like the winners of this prize: Chris Forhan’s The Actual Moon, The Actual Stars, the 2003 winner, is one of my favorite books. I was disappointed when I heard they’d suspended the contest.
  • Garnet Lanterns, by Sally Rosen Kindred (2005 Winner Anabiosis Press Chapbook Contest). I love the cover of this. Don’t hate me because I’m shallow. I’ve read her poems in various places, so I’m sure I’m going to love the poems, too.
  • Flood Year, by Sara Tracey (Dancing Girl Press).
  • The Traffic in Women, by Kristina Marie Darling (Dancing Girl Press).
  • A Classic Game of Murder, by Katie Cappella (Dancing Girl Press).
  • How to Study Birds, by Sarah Gardner (Dancing Girl Press). Yes, someone took advantage of DGP’s awesome winter sale. Great stuff! And great covers here, too.

One Year Ago:

Christmas-time last year we were otherwise occupied.

Aidan Revello Gauthier, 4 days old, January 1, 2009.

Tomorrow Aidan turns one. Oh my. And today the blog turns two. Vincent wasn’t yet two when I began it. Time’s wingèd chariot is fueled by the adrenaline-kick of children!

Happy Birthday, Aidan!

Draft of the Week, #6.

As the blog nears its two-year mark, it seemed to me to need a small makeover — you might not have even noticed.  I chose a design that offers a similar color scheme, fonts, and I kept my header photo of the Potholes (tho’ maybe I’ll begin updating the Potholes picture as the seasons change), but everything seems cleaner, more crisp.  The most notable changes are the addition of an “Upcoming Readings” page, and the location of my blogroll, featured links, etc.: in a neat 3 columns at the bottom of the page.  Maybe the clutter didn’t bother you, but I’m feeling much better about things.  And this was something I could do in between jags of wiping runny noses and doses of hot tea.

As if a cold weren’t enough, Aidan is also teething.  I remember Vincent sprouting teeth like it was no big deal — growing pains have always been his particular bane.  Not so for Aidan.  Day by day it becomes more and more evident that having one child offers me nothing by way of a road map for the second.

It’s later than I meant, but under these conditions I’m happy to have written this poem at all.  The draft will come down in a day or two. Hope the rest of you are enjoying your holiday, either sickness-free or on the mend!

Oh, and I forgot to say: the idea for this poem came from a “mini-mini-challenge” over at ReadWritePoem;  my thanks to them!

{poof!}

Autumn Cold/s.

Now I know the summer is well & truly over:  The Gauthier household is besieged by its first illness since Aidan was born.  Vincent is the only one not suffering at the moment, but he woke with a sore throat, so I expect he’s getting it, too.  Aidan is thoroughly miserable, barely sleeping, making it super-difficult to post.  Or do anything at all — I still hope to have a draft up by Sunday, however.

Until I have the time & mental resources to offer more, I leave you with a few items of interest:

Wood Smoke & S’mores…& Frog Legs.

My brother took our nephew camping not too far from Shelburne Falls this weekend, to a campground where we spent most of the summers of our childhood, so we went to visit them on Saturday.

Vincent went out on a canoe, splashed around in the lake, toasted marshmallows for s’mores (which he then spit out, deciding he prefers the ingredients individually, leaving me to eat the remaining s’mores alone, alas), watched fireworks, and ran his little legs off.

The boy was literally unspeakably exhausted by the end of the night: when he tried to tell me something as we were driving away, his words came out garbled.  He was asleep before we turned onto the road.

The day was a wind-swept sunny gift.

I reconnected with one of my oldest friends (and Vincent made a new friend in her sweet-hearted daughter).  We had lost touch when our lives flowed down separate streams.  Well, my life flowed.  Hers was always more akin to whitewater rafting.  But now, a confluence, an even keel.  Our re-meeting was perfectly timed.

Lance finagled a few stories from her about our youth — old friends seem to be an endless repository of memories you’ve forgotten, or wished to forget — and it reminded him of his own boyhood summers.  S’mores did not figure.

His family stayed in a cabin off the coast of New Hampshire, or Maine, [Note: in a cabin on an island in a lake in Maine.  “Off the coast? There aren’t any frogs in the ocean, Sweetie.”  Details, details.] and his father hunted frogs with a bb gun.  But the frogs sank.  Ever resourceful, his father then began to shoot the frogs with darts devised of bicycle spokes on a wire, which he pulled in.

Then he sat at the end of the dock and cut the legs from his bucketful of frogs for that night’s dinner.

Little Lance wouldn’t go near them.

He didn’t want to go near that dock, scene of the carnage, ever again either.

I guess it depends on where you stand in life whether you find this story horrifying or hilarious.  It reminds me of “The Triplets of Belleville”, whose plot also features bicycles and frogs.  In a word, hilarious.

Action-Packed Post!

We’ve been plagued by squirrels dancing in our ceilings for several seasons now.  Back in April it seemed as if we had finally confounded them when Lance pruned the tree that gave them clear access.  But after a few weeks they figured out that they could climb right up the back staircase that leads straight up to the 3rd floor and onto the roof.  And then, as if to punish our efforts, they colonized the ceiling in even larger numbers.  Louder, larger numbers.

It’s not just that they’re loud.  It’s the nature of the noise.  Like a thousand fingernails scraping against a blackboard.

At last, our landlord has found someone to deal with the issue.  He’s assembled his crew and erected scaffolding all around the building.  Vincent loves all the activity, and calls the scaffolding “The Clocktower”, which I love, and talks about climbing up the tall ladders, which I don’t.

I know I have overprotective tendencies when it comes to Vincent, but I think they’re called for:  last week he got outside by tearing through the screen door.  It’s no wonder his birth is the guiding force behind Hunger All Inside.

Meanwhile, Aidan is 6 months old today, babbling a blue streak.  His eczema is under control, though not gone entirely.  His face and scalp especially require daily treatments.  But we can at last see and feel his beautiful baby face clear.

*

I first learned of The Dzanc Creative Writing Sessions through Karen Weyant’s blog.  I haven’t yet taken advantage of this truly affordable service, but I plan to this summer.  They have fantastic writers on their roster, and even I can find some way to pay $30 for two hours of mentoring. And what’s more, that teeny tuition goes toward another great program:

The program is being offered at an extremely low rate — many of the instructing authors volunteering their time to Dzanc do similar work as freelancers and charge much greater rates than are being offered here through the DCWS. Other workshops and writing programs charge a lump sum of several hundred dollars up front. Not only does the DCWS allow you to control and target your expenses, but 100% of the money brought in by Dzanc by our DCWS goes to supporting the writing programs we run for students grades 4-12. These additional programs — currently being run nationally by Dzanc — are offered free of charge to students who would not otherwise be able to afford and experience these sort of writing programs.

I’d like to sign up immediately, but my computer mishap has knocked my budget for a very large loop.  (No, it’s not back yet, but I’m crossing my fingers for today.)  But I’m really excited about it, and can see myself signing up on a semi-regular basis in the future.  I don’t have a writing group, and this is a great way to get varied feedback.  If you haven’t already, you should absolutely check it out!

*

My husband accuses me of burying the important news at the bottom of my posts.  I don’t think so.  But I’m now working for Tupelo Press.  I’m only mentioning this because Tupelo Press is one of my favorite small presses, and I’ve often talked about them or their books on the blog in the past, and I will continue to do so, and for the same reasons: because I love them.  As my friends Ann and Michael, who work for Random House, say over at their blog, Books on the Nightstand, this blog is my own personal blog, and in no way affiliated with Tupelo Press.  Just so you know.



Further adventures with eczema.

I took Aidan, now nearly 4 1/2 months old, to the dermatologist today, and he was duly impressed by the baby’s poor scaly state. It’s really awful. He’s not sleeping more than 2 hours together, he’s so uncomfortable. And he looks dreadful. Except for those brightly serious blue eyes of his — when you look in those eyes you cease to notice all the scabby patches in which they’re set.

We now have a game plan, a course of action, and the tools with which to proceed. Which includes a shower cap. I’ll try to post a picture soon, because you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a baby lounging in a shower cap.

He already looks better tonight. But I hold out not an iota of hope for a good night’s sleep.

Last night’s reading was fantastic. Standing room only. Kerry, a former blues singer, read with a formidable confidence, and even treated us to a snatch of song. Joseph interspersed serious and affecting poems with hilarious entertainers like “Throne”, about sharing a bathroom with a woman.

Then Genie took the microphone and shifted the tone again — my favorite poem of hers dealt with her fall from a window as a youngster — she was saved by the belt of her robe! And finally, Dorianne. When she read the title poem from her collection, Facts about the Moon, the room was riveted.

And we sold every copy of that book, too. In fact, we sold a lot of books last night for the poets (poets bring the books, we handle the sales) — which makes me very happy. We don’t have the funds to pay our readers yet, so it’s nice to be able to make them money in that capacity at least.

The following poem is from Kerry’s chapbook, From a Burning Building, published by March Street Press — dealing with motherhood, a disastrous marriage, it’s one little firebomb of a book!

To One Six Month Old,
Then Another

You are now expected to know what I mean,
and do not need to answer in plain English.
Understand, it’s time for you to speak. Our bodies
barely disentangled, we will throw our hearts
into call and answer. Not thinking of a future
where your love of me becomes a skin
you will shed and grow again one thousand times.
I will follow you, hunting wildly for traces.
I will lead, leaving my own markings for when
you cry out, as you will, and singing softly,
I come back to carry you along.