Got MORE Snow?

Dear Family,

They say that variety is the spice of life, but I'm really ready for
BLAND. At least, when it comes to sickness. My rough estimate shows that
our family spent upwards of 30% of the past year hacking, wheezing,
vomiting, or otherwise indisposed. 2009 is already giving 2008 a run for
its money, since we haven't all been healthy for a single day yet. This
past week, Jem got some intestinal excitement (why do such things always
strike in the middle of the night??), and now I'm losing my voice and
feeling generally rotten.

Hello, Puxatawny Phil!

Dear Family,

Tonight Ben Starling couldn't fall asleep. "Do you have a lot of
thoughts in your head?" I whispered. "Yes!" he whispered back. "What are
they about?" I asked. "There are too many to know," he said. "And also,
I'm _way_ too hot." We removed his covers. Three nanoseconds later: "But
now, my feet are _really_ cold." We covered up his feet. "That's good,"
he said. Thirty seconds later, he was asleep. I think that in some ways,
it's nice to be five.


This weekend, something amazing happened. Our dear friend Denise drove

Recovery Mode

Dear Family,

Happy New Year! The Ithaca College towers, which are right across
the valley from us, now say "09" in lots of lights. So it's official.

I'm not sure that holidays are a good idea in the grand scheme of
things. My nonscientific study is revealing that many of my
friends/test subjects spend this time of year traveling way too far,
getting stressed and exhausted, and then getting sick. Although we
had plenty of fun on our NJ/CT adventures over the past weeks, it
was a lot of work and we're still recovering. Ben is the family

I love SNOW!

Dear Family,

IT SNOWED!!! :) That means that this week, we got to cross-country
ski, go sledding, and check out the big kids' enormous igloo.

I took Ben to the Nutcracker yesterday. Not exactly NYC Ballet
quality, but he bravely sat it out. Unfortunately, we forgot to find
out ahead of time how to tell the costumed mice apart. Ben had been
really looking forward to seeing our neighbor dance her part, but it
was impossible to tell which was her based merely on visible body
parts. Ben wanted to know why faces are easier to tell apart than

An Unbirthday to Remember

Dear Family,

I'm embarrassed to say that it happened to me: nearly one month into
my 29th year, I'd become crusty and jaded, convinced that life held
no more surprises. The first days of December were what one might
politely call a Hell of a Week. By Tuesday I was ready to send my
children away to caring strangers so I could fall into a deep, desperate
slumber lasting at least 36 hours. I was really sure that this week I'd
hit rock-bottom, that I wouldn't have _anything_ to report for my e-mail

And them at 5:45pm last night, one of my most favorite

Last day of this gosh darn gray month!

Dear Family,

No more vomiting this week, thank god, although Jeff is on the verge
of another Sinus Situation. Please, think good thoughts and may he
wake tomorrow with good-as-new nasal passages that can breathe fully
and deeply. Amen.

I went out tonight (alone! It felt kind of naked not to be wearing a
baby carrier) to my friend's birthday party. Conditions are
treacherous up here on West Hill, so it was good that I only had to
walk to the other neighborhood. (I told Liz that it takes a special
person to make me leave my sick husband with two screaming children


Dear Family,

Just realized that I forgot to mention, last week, why I used
"mid-November sunsets" as the email subject. Reason: they are
beautiful here. This week it's been stormy, so not so many sunsets,
but we've been getting a gorgeous snow globe effect out our windows.

Lots of bizarre and fairly unmentionable illnesses this week,
variously afflicting each of us in turn. Suffice it to say that
there is really _nothing_ like jolting awake from a sound sleep at
~2:00am, to a screaming baby who is vomiting all over you and both

Mid-November Sunset

Hi Family,

February 16th. That is the day when I will next accompany my child into
the grocery store. Oh, you're wondering why it'll be so long? That's
funny, it seemed like just about everyone from three neighboring states
was grocery shopping today, so I assumed you probably were in the store
somewhere. Suffice it to say, a nearly-five-year-old on an empty stomach
whose name rhymes with Zen Farling had a heck of a trip to Wegmans.

In other news: flurries keep coming, but no real snow. We're ready: our
root cellar is stocked with cabbages and turnips and garlic and apples

November 9

Dear Family,

I've been lying in bed, trying to fall asleep since 9:59pm, and it's
not working. At one point, it was so quiet (all other family members
are asleep, ironically) that I couldn't hear anything but my own
ears. There was no noise at all--even the refrigerator had cycled
off. I was reflecting that I've never lived anywhere so quiet.
Suddenly, our downstairs neighbor/resident teenager let out a Friday
evening WHOOP, and I'm taking that as my signal to get up and write
a letter.

When we entered November, two things were strange. One, I kept

A Frosty Update

Hello Everyone,

It's been two weeks since I wrote, and I can barely remember what's
happened since then because it seems so long ago. EcoVillage #212
was graced with a short visit from Grandma Ruth--I mean,
_Grandma_--last week, and we'd all be quite happy if she and
_Grandpa_ would just move next door. (There is a house for sale,
incidentally, quite nice, just up the path from us. Not that we're
pushing, or anything. No pressure. But of course, it's also worth
considering that Tompkins County has just about the most secure
banks in the country...)

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