April 2007


I was watching the birds today, as they flitted and soared, and I thought it would be wonderful to be that free. While they do have work to be done (building a nest is priority number one these days), they still have time to just have fun. Why can’t I do that? What a joy it would be to fly through the clouds and laugh at the wind as it chases you. With no cares at all in the world. Yes, I do believe that would be wonderful.

My week has been rather hectic…actually, hectic isn’t the word for it. It’s been chaotic, as life in general swirled around us all in almost blizzard-like fashion, making everyone dizzy and disoriented. Speaking for myself, I’m tired and grumpy, and very much wanting a place where things aren’t quite as crazy. Does such a place exist? If so, I’ve yet to stumble upon it. I’m looking, but if it’s there, it’s being rather elusive. Perhaps one day…

I suppose most of the stress is caused by having to pack up to move. I have less than a week, which really isn’t all that bad (I can really do it in that amount of time, me being the virtual pro that I am), but when you throw in the occasional monkey wrench (to be truthful, they haven’t been all that occasional as of late…), things just don’t seem to be working the way they should be. The boxes are falling apart, or I run out of tape, or I haven’t enough newspaper to wrap the glasses in….on and on. Plus, with Mr Izz in school, I’m doing this one alone. That right there is something I am not used to. But, much to my chagrin, time marches forward, always reminding me that the date we are to depart is very rapidly approaching. Time is the bane of my existence. I’m going to abolish it one day, along with patience. Life will be a virtual utopia when I do. Just you wait.

I know things will calm down. I’ll get the place packed up (and in time!), we’ll move into the new place, Mr Izz will finish with the semester (right after we move….I’m wondering if he somehow planned it that way….), and, to our delight, be home much more. And all will be as it should be once again. But right now, while things are still in such a seemingly endless state of pandemonium, flying through the infinite blue sky, through the clouds and dodging the wind seems very enticing. But as I am sadly lacking wings, doing just that seems very unlikely. Maybe when I create my timeless, impatient Utopia, everyone will also be required to have wings. Until then, I guess I’m stuck on the ground.

My kids are deprived. Really…they are. There are just things in their lives that they don’t know, which is a shame. I’m not sure they’ll ever know these things, in fact. For example, I was talking to my older children about music that I used to listen to, and how I had such and such album and this 45. They were absolutely clueless. Utterly. It was quite hysterical until I told them what it all meant (“You mean you didn’t have CD’S???”). Then I was told I was lame. Oh well…can’t win them all. At least I can say that I had cassette tapes. But that conversation was some time ago…here’s what happened today.

My little ones tend to like to play house. It seems to be a popular game among the 4-7 crowd, at least here at Casa Izz. Maybe it’s because I play it so well, they just want to be like me? Maybe I flatter myself too much…besides, I swear I don’t sound that mean when I yell at them to be quiet (“I told you to SHUT UP!!!”). So there they were, playing house in the living room, while I was trying to pack up the kitchen before the littlest Izzlets saw what I was doing (boxes filled with newspaper are a lovely thing to tear into and throw, I’ve come to find out). I had piled quite a bit of stuff onto the island in the middle of the kitchen, thinking it was pretty safe there. One of the things that I had placed on that island was a telephone. But not just any telephone…a telephone with a cord. Unbelievable, I know. It was this item that was instantly noticed, and whilst I was looking the other way, it was the item that was nabbed for their game. I can only imagine what was going through their little heads…”What IS it?” “It LOOKS like a phone, but what is this THING on it?” I’m sure it would have been fun to know.

So there they were, playing with the phone, unbeknownst to me for quite some time. When I finally looked over to where they were, to see what they were doing, I saw what they had taken. I would have instantly told them to bring it back (apparently in a really mean, rude way too), but when I noticed how they were playing with it, I almost fell off the chair I was standing on in hysterical fits of laughter. There was Victoria (she’s 5, by the way) and Finbar (the 4 year old from previous posts), and they were talking on the phone; Victoria had the receiver, and was talking on that part, and Finbar had the cradle, and was talking on that part to Victoria. Apparently, the cord was the means that their voices got to the other part of the phone. Their conversation was irrelevant, because the sight itself was so comical. I don’t think we’ve had a corded phone since they were born, and so this was really the first time that they had even seen one. And I guess it seemed logical to them that is the way one used such a thing. Plus, they were standing right next to each other (because as you know, one cannot go very far on a corded phone), which made it even funnier for what was the point in using the phone to begin with? But they were having a blast…until they all started fighting over the darn thing and Mom had to step in and shrilly scream at them and tell them to put the stupid thing away, in a really mean voice, because that’s the way moms sound. Until that time, however, I was in silent hysterics whenever I looked at them. It was quite a show, and one I won’t forget for quite some time.

My poor, deprived children who don’t even know how to use a corded phone. And while technology marches onward, it makes me wonder what else will become obsolete, and what my children’s children will look upon with wonder and amazement that seemed so common and ordinary to their parents. Time will tell, I suppose.

I have found that the vast majority of web-dictionaries have a handy little thing called their “Word of the Day”. I really kind of like this…a while back I actually had one of these web-dictionaries send me their particular word of the day to my inbox. For some reason, I am no longer getting that, but I was reminded of it yesterday when I had to look something up on dictionary.com. I checked out my word, and then clicked on the “Word of the Day” portion of the site. This is what I was met with:

Word of the Day Archive
Thursday April 19, 2007

trice \TRYS\, noun:
A very short time; an instant; a moment; — used chiefly in the phrase “in a trice.”

There is no reason to doubt Alma here since so many other witnesses over the years tell similar tales . . . of the moody Mahler who would switch from eloquence to silence in a trice for no apparent reason.
— Jonathan Carr, Mahler: A Biography

Our super sleuth decided to take action and the mystery was solved in a trice.
— “Furthermore”, The Guardian, October 30, 2001

Catastrophic fires could wipe out as much as 1 million sq km of rain forest in a trice.
— Sandy M. Fernandez, “Global Concern”, Time, September 18, 2000

Trice is from Middle English (at a) trise, literally, “(at one) pull,” from trisen, “to pull,” from Middle Dutch trisen, “to hoist,” from trise, “a windlass, a pulley.”

I kind of like this word, trice . It’s not one that I’ve ever used in conversation, but I’m thinking now I should. In fact, if it weren’t for this word, I wouldn’t have been able to write this entry in such a trice.

Yup…it really is a good word.

When we moved into this house, the landlords left an electric dryer and told us to feel free to utilize it. I’m used to a gas dryer (since that is what I have), but since we knew we were only going to be here for a short amount of time, we felt there was no reason to have a guy come out to install a propane tank and run the gas line to the laundry room just to put our dryer in the house. The electric one worked, and that was good enough for our brief stint here.

Despite the cost of running the darn thing (electricity is really expensive!), it has worked out well for the 6 months or so that we’ve been here. Until last week, when the thing died the death…I put a load of freshly washed sheets in, set the timer, pushed the on button…nothing. It didn’t even turn on for a split second. This was not a good thing…when you are running a household of 13, you need the means to launder, and then dry, copious amounts of laundry on a daily basis. Of course, there are alternatives to an electric (or even gas) dryer…one especially that I actually enjoy doing. When the weather is good (in other words, the sun is shining and it’s at least relatively warm), I utilize a clothesline on a constant basis. I very rarely dry the clothes in the dryer, because using the sun and wind is much more appealing to me. It’s better for the environment, and the clothes just smell so much nicer. Plus, I just love being outside in general, so any excuse I can muster to be out is a good one (at least to me). Unfortunately, it’s still Winter here in the North Country. There is no sun, and no warmth…there is plenty of wind, but it’s hardly the kind that beckons to you to come out and run through the fields with it…or to hang laundry out on the line in, since that is what we’re talking about (I did lose myself there for a second, didn’t I?). But the laundry must be done, so I put a load of towels into the washer, and waited patiently (HA! That’s only because I really didn’t want to do the next step) for it to be done it’s cycle. After the final spin, I grabbed the towels, put them into a basket, put on my really cool red hat and gloves, and proceeded to go outside. The snow was mid-boot, and the wind was making my longer skirt flap around in the wind (not a day for skirt wearing, that’s for sure), but I made the hike to the clothesline anyway. There were still diapers on there from right before the storm over the weekend…still wet, of course. I was losing hope that the towels would dry at all, to be honest, but they had to be put somewhere. So I hung them up…skirt still flapping around, my hair blowing into my face, and the towels flying up as the wind blew under them. They were beginning to get stiff as I put them onto the line too…I wonder if there is a possibility of their freeze drying? You know, like the strawberries you get in breakfast cereal now? No? Oh well…it was a thought anyway.

I’m sure I was quite a sight to the neighbors…that silly lady next door who hangs her laundry out in the freezing cold and snow. I know I would have laughed, had I been the one witnessing the scene. But there I was, be-gloved and be-hatted, trying to get the darn towels to stop blowing long enough to get them all onto the line. Which I did. And there they’ll stay until they dry. With the way the weather is looking, that might not be until next week, but at least I can say that I washed them, and then attempted to dry them. I’m actually hoping that the wind will help them along, despite the cold. If not, the next time someone takes a shower, they’re going to either air dry, or go out and get a wet towel before they jump in. I’m not really sure which one would be better, but I know I would prefer not to be the one to find out.

Things are always somewhat exciting here at Casa Izz…at least to those who don’t live here and aren’t used to the daily goings on. We that do live here are quite used to it, and would hardly refer to life at Casa Izz as exciting. Humdrum or even tedious perhaps, but never exciting. On Monday, however, things were exciting, even by Izzian standards.

As you may have read already, we had a bit of a snow storm on Monday. While I was in the house doing what it was I was supposed to be doing, Mr Izz was outside shoveling snow with my eldest son (I actually love to shovel snow, but it was really windy and therefore too cold for the likes of me. So I didn’t volunteer my services). As I was in the living room, folding laundry that had been neglected far too long, I heard an odd sound, like a very loud WHOOSH that I could even feel as I sat on the floor. At first, I thought it must be the wind…we were getting gusts over 35mph at that point, so it didn’t surprise me that it might be. With that in mind, I went back to my folding. Until I smelled smoke. A LOT of smoke. The living room was almost instantly hazy as it quickly filtered in through the heating ducts. This was odd…sure, I smell smoke whenever someone throws more wood into the furnace, but it’s usually minimal and dissipates rather quickly. This stuff seemed to be hanging, almost making the living room look like it was as overcast inside as it was outside. It was then that I connected the sound with the smoke. So down I went into the basement to see what I could see…more smoke down there. Great. Back up stairs, out the door into the blustery coldness to get Mr Izz. I yelled to him about the smoke, and he stopped what he was doing and came into the house (grudgingly, I might add…apparently he thought I was overreacting. You’d think he’d be happy to get out of the cold for a few minutes). He walked into the house, and smelled the smoke (which had dissipated a bit by then), went down into the basement and poked around. He found nothing wrong…just some smoke, which was more than likely caused by the wind since it was so blustery. Back out he went, shaking his head at my silliness, ready to shovel more of the brilliantly white snow out of my driveway.

Back I go to finish folding laundry, when I smell smoke again, and notice that there is way more hanging in the air than there had been the first time. I went back down to the basement (I’ll be darned if I’m going out to get Mr Izz again unless there is a good reason), coughed because of all of the smoke, and went over to the furnace myself to check it out…all the while trying to wave a clear path in the smoke ridden air with my hand, so I could breathe. More coughing on my part, as I walk over to the pipe that leads to the chimney. That pipe was so hot that I could feel it from about 5 feet away, and this gave me my first clue as to what the problem really was. And this clue assured me that Mr Izz would take more notice to what was going on.

Sure enough, when he came back in and examined the situation for himself, my fears were confirmed: it was a chimney fire. We had been told by our landlord that he had cleaned it out before we moved in, so we didn’t clean it out ourselves before the winter season was upon us. Mental note: even if someone tells you they’ve done something, it might be a good thing to do it yourself anyway. The fire itself was in the base of the chimney…it couldn’t go any further because of the angle of the pipe leading toward the furnace, which wasn’t quite obtuse enough for it to go down more than it was. This was good, and bad. Good, because at least we knew that the fire was fairly well contained, with only masonry and cinderblocks surrounding it. Bad, because we had no way of getting to it if we needed to. Turned out that we didn’t, and after about an hour or so, it burned itself out, thankfully. Apparently the noise I’d heard was the fire, which had started at the top of the chimney, sliding down the chimney to rest at the bottom…this was decided when we saw all the soot on the roof. It’s a good thing we have a tin roof!

Mr Izz spent a lot of time down there, waiting for it to burn itself out, so he could give the whole thing a good cleaning. When it was finally cool enough, he took the pipe apart, and he and a couple of helpers (in the form of Izzlets) scrubbed it out with a chimney brush, and then used the shop-vac to get the rest of the creosote out. The thing was totally caked with the stuff…way more than a season’s worth. But what can you do. Luckily we knew what to do.

The best part of the whole thing was when my merry band of chimney sweeps tramped back up the stairs, finally finished with the task of cleaning the chimney. They had bandanas on their mouths and noses to keep the soot out, so they looked a bit like bankrobbers, with very black faces above the bandana masks. I even shook their hands, for luck (as anyone who has watched Mary Poppins as many times as I have, would know you are supposed to do). It was a job well done…lots of work, but they all seemed well pleased in it regardless.

So that was our bit of excitement. More than we’re used to, that’s for sure. And that’s enough for me for a while. At least for this week.

Death is such a difficult thing to deal with, even when you’ve been through it a couple of times. When someone you are close to passes on, you have so many mixed emotions…anger, sadness, and some passing moments of happiness when you think of fond memories. This intermingling of feelings makes it difficult at times, but of course we always do get through it in the end.

For someone who is young, and has never had death present itself in an intimate way as of yet, the first passing of a loved one or close friend can be very upsetting. This is the scenario that we are experiencing today. I received an email in my inbox today, telling me of a young, 15 year old girl that was swept away from the strong current of a stream too full with the rain and snow that had just fallen. She and her brother were playing along the edge, and both fell in. He was able to get to the bank to climb out; she was not. The very sad thing about this 15 year old girl is that she was close friends with my eldest daughter at one time, when we lived in New Hampshire. They did quite a few things together, and seemed to really enjoy one another’s company. After we moved to Ohio, the friendship seemed to wane; the letters that were written became less and less. I don’t think that Katherine had heard from her in a few years now. But she still talks about the wonderful times she had, going to a goat farm, or to the Maple Sugar festival, or whatever. They are fond memories to her, and she still thinks quite fondly of her friend despite the fact they had grown apart. Telling her was not an easy thing…Katherine has never had to experience such a loss. The first time I was met with the death of a friend, I was much older. Needless to say, she is very upset. It’s my hope that at some point she and I can sit down and talk without interruptions. I don’t know if that will help, but I can at least try.

For anyone reading right now, please keep the Henry family in your thoughts and prayers. And, in a smaller way, please keep my Katherine in your thoughts as well. I’m sure she’d appreciate it.

It seems that Winter refuses to let go of it’s stronghold upon the North Country. Here we are, in the middle of what should be Springtime, only to find ourselves surrounded by snow and cold. Late yesterday into early today, a good old Nor’easter blew up the coast, leaving us with about 4 inches of snow, ice and lots of wind. Those of us who reside in the area are ready for Spring in a big way, always hoping it’s right around the corner. And yet our hopes seem to be quickly dashed the moment another storm blows in, leaving behind yet another cold, snowy mess that needs to be shoveled off the walkways. Good thing I have lots of sons.

This snowy landscape was what greeted us at Casa Izz this morning, as it has for the past several mornings. Even the Izzlets are getting rather tired of it all…it seems that one can indeed make and throw too many snowballs (who would have thought!). The only difference today was that the storm was bad enough to cancel school for Mr Izz, much to his joy since it extended his Spring break by a day.

At one point, as we were cleaning up after breakfast, Mr Izz was looking out the window, shaking his head in disbelief. As he scowled upon the scene, Séamus came up to him and asked to be picked up.

“Do you see the snow, Séamus?” Mr Izz asked.
“Yes, lots of snow!” Séamus exclaimed.
“Where did it all come from?” was the next question.

Séamus didn’t answer immediately, which would be more in line with his two-ishness. He actually took the time to think…very much out of character indeed. Then he smiled, looked out of the window and up into the sky, and simply stated:

“From the stars!!”

Such a thoughtful answer from such a little boy…an answer that was laden with such an innocent wisdom that only a two year old can give. To him, it made perfect sense that the wonderful whiteness he saw before him outside the window was put there by the stars. And honestly, even for those of us that haven’t been two in quite some time, and hardly possess even the remnants of two-ishness that Séamus seems to have in abundance, it makes it all a little more bearable thinking that just maybe it was.

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