I'm Dancing!

Hi Family,

I'm going to dance on a real live stage with some talented folks, and am
very excited. :) The show features local choreographers and a variety
of dance styles. For more details:


3rd Annual Ithaca
Love Shoe Festival

One performance only:
Tuesday, July 7
Kiplinger Theatre
Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts
Cornell University

Free and open to the public

Strawberry Season!

Dear Family,

My mother and father were so totally right. I knew this already, of
course, but now I have absolute proof. For those of you who don't
know, here are some bits of their wisdom:

1. Never make somebody eat something they don't want to. BUT
2. Always serve the salad first, just as you put the pasta into the
water, so that even though nobody HAS to eat salad, it's sitting
their appetizingly for 12 minutes whether they eat it or not.
3. Only keep healthy stuff in the house, so that you don't have to
limit things, and so that when people are hungry, their options

"I don't wanna stop bike tripping!"

...So quoth my 5.5-year-old as he jumped on the bed in our hotel
room in Lockport, NY. Yes, that's right--after our exhausting
misadventures last year, we decided to do it all over again, and
take our bikes back up to the Erie Canal.

This time, I tried to learn from all of last year's mistakes. For
instance: we didn't even once camp next to the highly active train
tracks. Also, Ruth and Terry and Jake and Matt came along, which was
lots of fun (and helped keep the adult:kid ratio at a highly
desirable 3.5:1.)


Some highlights, according to Ben:

Twelve Years Ago Today...

...I met my true love, Jeff Amaral. He was standing on the porch of
a bike shop/bike hostel in Carbondale, Illinois. Later, he and Wyeth
and I ate dinner at a local pizza joint, and made plans to ride
together the next day. I noticed that Jeff was the funniest guy I'd
ever met, but I had no idea how nice he really is. :) Turns out, he
gets nicer the longer you know him.

It is absolutely insane. It's like it was a lifetime ago, like I was
a different person, riding my bicycle across the country. (How could
my parents let me do something so crazy??? Let's see, will Ben be

Jake's Graduating!

Dear Family,

There were a few people in my childhood who put in that extra
effort, to make some small children feel like crud. Specifically,
they told me and my siblings that our lack of schooling was sending
us down the road to ruin and hamburger-flipping.

Out of the goodness of my heart (truly), I want to give those folks
a copy of my UNSCHOOLED brother's DIPLOMA, now that he is ON THE
DEAN'S LIST and has graduated from COLUMBIA (a really GOOD SCHOOL).
Not that it matters, of course, and not that I'm bitter or anything.
Just for their own EDUCATION, if you know what I mean.

Happy May and Mothers' Day!

Dear Family,

Happy Mother's Day! I kinda think it's just a Hallmark Holiday. But why
not celebrate, since we ALL can? Everybody either has a mother, is a
mother, lives with a mother, or is friends with a mother. We can take
this moment to bask in how great it is to be us, people who are or know

I'm giving myself a mother's day gift today, of not thinking that there
is a problem. Under my current rules, nothing qualifies as problematic.

It's been a great day so far.


Was so utterly exhausted last week that I couldn't write an update. I

Summer's Here!

Dear Family,

The frogs are mating, and the high-pitched drone from the pond
combined with the 79-degree temps are making it feel like the dog
days of August.

We camped out in the woods last night, at the rim of Coy Glen.
Featured attractions were Cold Cereal with Almond Milk, Corn Chips,
and Mud in the Creek. Our tent doesn't get a lot of use these days,
so it was great to get started a little early this year. So nice to
sleep in darkness, and hear the sounds of a night time forest.


Lots of new communication, of an uncertain nature. Jem calls me

Peaches Not for Free

Dear Family,

A GORGEOUS week. Spring is so incredible that it gives me goosebumps.
This morning when Jem got up with the sun, I took him for a walk in the
woods. On the way back, we went by the garden to see whether our
newly-planted onion sets are getting roots (they are).

Yesterday we planted two peach trees in our yard, with sweet hopes for
the future. Our neighbor told us, “If you plant a ten-dollar tree, dig
a hundred-dollar hole.” We paid $45.99 for each tree, so we had some
serious digging to do. We also extracted several Manhattan-sized

No More Guilt

Dear Family,

My friend Hillary and I have a lot in common. We are the same age,
and we met our respective husbands the same year. We both moved to
Ithaca from Boston, have boys about the same ages, and birthed those
boys at home. But last year when we met, I was fairly crazed and
sleep-deprived. Hillary seemed so calm!

"...A big reason is because I've given up guilt," she said. I
laughed. "No, I'm serious. I've given it up." For instance, she told
me, her favorite day of the week is Sunday--that's when her partner
watches the kids and she does the laundry for two hours, at the

The Craziness of a Finite Lifespan

Dear Family,

There's a song called "Kathleen," by Josh Ritter, that Ben has
nearly memorized. A young man imagines driving home from the dance
with his crush. It evokes a certain yearning, a certain romance - it
brings you back to a time in your life even if you never had such a
time to begin with. The lyrics go on to explain how the couple
sneaks back silently at dawn: "...You'll climb up your
trellis/quietly back into your room./I'll coast down the length of
your drive/by the light of the moon."

The concept of a curfew is utterly inexplicable to Ben, but he knows

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