Saturday, September 15, 2007

travels part one - new england

We arrived in Woodstock CT friday evening, smack dab in the middle of the Fair. Yikes. All my landmarks were gone in a sea of lights and rowdy teenagers and it took an extra ten minutes to find Jane and Tony's house. It wasn't too bad, all things considered, but driving Into CT the friday of Labor Day weekend isn't the best of experiences anyway - the roads are jammed with upscale New Yorkers. Not that I'm bashing New Yorkers - they drive a whole heck of a lot better than Tennesseans, that's for sure! It was just a lot of traffic at the end of a long long drive.

The good news is that we got to go to the Fair. Jane very sweetly gave me some cash and a free ticket so that Mo could ride the rides and eat Fair Food (eeeeeewwww) while she (Jane) ran around helping a friend buy a car. It made a nice break for Mo in between all the travelling and hard core adult socializing.... hmmm, that makes it sound like I was going to an orgy, not a wake. Alas, these days my life is rarely that exciting.

The day after the fair was the Novakathon, er... wake, for my grandfather. He didn't want any kind of ceremony or service so, as my dad so well put it, we had a family get together and told stories and lies to each other. It was good to connect with family and good to hang out with people who expect a child to be bouncy and bored of adult conversation. Here's Mo playing twister with one of my cousins - that's what a Novak funeral looks like LOL!

Labor day itself we spent in Foster, RI, visiting with George's mom and sister and assorted friends. George's family has been going out to stay with Betty and Dick (last names?) for years and years, so it feels very warm and homey there. A good day of running around and swimming for Mo and others, although I was too cold to get in the water - it was chilly there, compared to our sultry TN summer! Betty had a new pink kayak that she was excited to show off - the pool ladder at the edge of the water is a clever device on her part for getting out of her new toy.
After another day of serious resting (lots of tv watching!) Mo and I headed out for the Live and Learn Conference in NC. We split the drive into two days both on the way East and the way to NC. The way out I made the mistake of thinking that leaving in the evening and driving until 2am would be a good idea - in terms of driving, it was great. The trouble was getting to the hotel with a 6yo who had just spent several hours napping in the car! I think I got five hours of sleep, but they weren't consecutive. So the way to NC we drove in the day and found a lovely Motel 6 with a pool for Mo to frolic in for a couple hours before bedtime. That worked out much, much better, but if I hadn't had to squeeze so much travel into so little space, I'd have spread it out over three days at least! and camped. I think I need a bigger tent, though. Or maybe just one of those "screen rooms" for hanging out at the site. So far, Mo has enjoyed camping, and its about the only way I'm going to be able to afford to travel.
Okay, I'm rambling... on to L&L!

in memory of

I finally emptied out the compost toilet - well, the "composting" side anyway. The other side is now all closed up for what I hope to be nine months of happy decomposition. The whole fly issue (for anyone who remembers the "gory details") turned out to have less to do with the compost toilet than I had feared and more to do with the health of the local cattle. Once we got the new ac and started keeping the house closed up, the flies went away pretty quickly.

Digging out the compost I had the same thought I always do, but with a new twist - I always wonder "am I going to be doing this in my 70s and 80s?" Just recently though (I have to consult a calender, but it was the wednesday before labor day) my grandfather, Henry Novak died gardening. He was nearly 90. So I spent my shovelling time thinking about Papa. He was a veteran - got the flag an' all - and an electrician, but I remember him best as a gardener. Its sort of nice to think I could be shovelling compost on my dying day.... what's that poem about being buried on the compost pile? Its romantic, in sort of a quirky way, and while I don't really know if Papa would appreciate it, I like to think my romantic streak comes through him and my dad. Oh, here it is, by Lee Hays:

In Dead Earnest

If I should die before I wake
All my bone and sinew take
Put me in the compost pile
To decompose me for a while
Worms water sun will have their way
Returning me to common clay

All that I am will feed the trees
And little fishes in the seas
When radishes and corn you munch
You may be having me for lunch
And then excrete me with a grin
Chortling "There goes Lee again"

No discussion of Novaks (or life in Dismal for that matter) is complete without a drop of irony. My grandfather's sister-in-law happened to have been named Lee and was also a gardener. They didn't get along all that well, but her name sits along his in the family tradition... Dennis Lee, Meredith Leigh, and now Morgan Lee, all Novak.

Just an added comment, in case anyone reads this interested in the nuts-and-bolts of compost toileting.... wood ash sucks as an additive. It makes the pile very dense, which I'm not sure helps the composting very much, but even more importantly from the idea of shovelling in my old age, it Heavy! I ended up referring to it as poo-crete by the time I was done. It seemed like a good idea back when we were producing more ash than sawdust or shavings, but in retrospect, yikes. Other poo-composters beware!