Monday, July 20, 2009


So, we went camping in Rangeley over the weekend with our entire family.

We got there late, set up as it started to rain, and the kids' tent had an inch of standing water in it by midnight. Not a great start. The next day, however, the clouds lifted and the rest of the time was sunny and warm and a great time. No Internet, no showers, just trees and grass and dirt.

And they all loved it.

Ok. Down the road from us was a more secluded site, at which previous occupants had erected two different toilets. The first is just a toilet seat on a 10-gallon plastic jug. The second - this one - was more elaborate and offered you a view of the river. It was wood-constructed toilet with a seat. This is NOT the face I usually make when evacuating my bowels. If it were, I'd go see a doctor.

Me carrying Griff on a wooded path on the way back to seeing the waterfalls. Treebeard is to my right, and if you know that reference you're as big a geek as me. Sorry. Facts is facts. Live with it.

We camped with several others, one of whom had a daughter - Molly - just a few days younger than Gabrielle, but cooler. She had a - OMG!!! - Barbie Jeep. I mean, come on. Gabrielle decided to drag Griff into it for a ride. He loved it. Of course, he was the first to shout SHOTGUN!!

Sammy will chase anything you throw for him, all day long. Griffin, seeing me throw this stick all day, decided he would try. He's barely strong enough to lift the thing AND stand up. It bored the hell out of Sammy because Griff couldn't throw it beyond his toes. Doesn't it look like Griff is conducting some sort of ancient conjuring ritual here? Like he should be chanting in Latin?

Say wha???

Gabrielle on the road of life all by herself. Boy is she a rig. Even the wildlife stayed away.

When ya gotta go, gotta go. What you can't appreciate about this picture is that Gabrielle's stream was this spectacular arc that shot out between Corrine's legs, missing her by millimeters. The moose were impressed.

She's a one-of-a-kind, that Gabi Girl.

Alyssa and Ty. Ty is apparently still hung over. The big drunk.

Fallon and Harrison. She slouches like me. He's built like me. They don't stand a chance.

Ahhhh. Perty, aint it?

There we are. The Turner-Wyman clan. Notice Gabrielle is the only one refusing to look at the camera. That's because she's spotted the marshmallow she threw into the woods the night before and she wanted to eat it. Also, note to self: next time, take it in the shade.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

You Be The Judge

Ever find yourself in a position of being at odds with those around you? Of liking something, for example, that many others don't?

A movie? A musician? A book - or broader yet - the author of books?

And how does it make you feel? Can you be cavalier about it and shrug it off?

In the face of peer pressure, we all tend to shrink, I've found. And that leaves you feeling icky. Like you've dipped yourself in a vat of moral molasses.

If you fight for you views, you risk becoming a boor. If you don't, you suffer the slings of your own conscience, and he (or she) is the most brutal of them all.

I would love to sit here and tell you that I am the former, and that I wallow in my churlishness. That I am capable of taking a shoe off every once in awhile and bang it on a desk to make my point. That I am capable of thumping my chest and telling those with whom I disagree the twelve reasons why I am right and that they can all go pound sand for all I care.

The truth is, I tend to take the path of least persistence when it comes to arguing my position. And boy, can I argue. Just ask ... shit, anyone who knows me.

But that's in hand-to-hand combat. When squared off against a tribe, I tend to tuck tail.


Now, in my defense, I will tell you that I don't just sit there and shrug and say "Awe shucks. You're right. About everything."

I'm much more clever than that. More than likely, what I say is along the lines of "Well, I disagree. I really don't know why ... I just (hate Neil Diamond) or (love Jim Carrey) or (prefer not to read anything by Nicholas Sparks)..."

It's not a defense of my position, if you'll notice. It's a cop out to a degree. It's a way to show opposition by not being oppositional. You're saying you disagree, but not getting into it.

If I had balls, I would lay out an argument the way Tom Cruise does in A Few Good Men when he's giving it to Jack Nicholson. Man, I wish I had that kind of presence, the kind of iron conviction that what I am saying is the absolute moral truth.

And Aaron Sorkin as my scriptwriter.

But I don't. My scriptwriter is more like Fielding Mellish, Woody Allen's neurotic character in the movie Bananas. In it he's on the subway and sits by as an old woman gets mugged by Sylvester Stalone and some other cronies. He goes to such great lengths to not get involved that even when the woman is being assaulted practically in his lap he just keeps his nose in his newspaper.

I am that way in crowds of dissenters. The one who buries his head in a newspaper while my convictions get mugged by the mob.

I don't have a specific or current example. I just get thinking every so often of the small instances in my life in which I am confronted with something contrary to my own beliefs.

Like, for example, the folks lingering around local Wal-Marts trying to get you to sign a petition to ban gay marriage.

Instead of telling them precisely why their efforts are - in my opinion - akin to something you would read about in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts ... or Congressional hearings in the 1950s ... I clamp shut and just say No Thanks.

Or, for another example, the whole concept of vacation bible school and how it's so blatantly Hansel and Gretel in its inception. Luring children to Jesus with promises of games and crafts and good times. Why not just put out a banner that says "Kids: Come here to learn about Jesus. Singing, praying, and bible reading" and see how many actually show up?

But I digress...

I do not have the oratory faculties to present a public argument strongly, something I had to face a long time ago.

I do love to write, however, and can spin a grand indictment of something. But I wonder if that isn't cheating a little. A verbal discourse takes intellect, patience, politics, and timing. Writing has all of that ... but the advantage of multiple drafts.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Camping Illustrated

So, you had to know I would have pictures for you when we returned from camping. And here they are. In all their glory.

We camped on the Saco River in Conway, New Hampshire. I got up with Sammy Friday morning and walked to the beach with him. Tranquil. Serene. And no day care kids. Ahhhhhhhh.

Action shot! Gabrielle had a ring pop and Griffin was trying to pry it from her hand. There is so much I have to teach him about women.

Smack! Gabi is a good kisser. Especially when she's got a mouth full of food.

Say cheesy. Me, manning the grill. I'm such a goober.

Me feeding Griffin while trying to blog. I'm such a goober.

Mommy's turn. We made the mistake of forgetting the Pack n Play, so we had to carry him everywhere. Here, he sits in a backpack. I sit in this too, but that's for another post.

Griffin after a shower. Corrine carries me too.

Please, sir, may I have s'more?

Cheerio Daddy-O

Me and my baby doll.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday Night

It is Saturday evening, our last night at the campground.

A storm is brewing on the horizon. Fat, gray, menacing clouds. The leaves are flipped inside out and they're calling for thunderstorms over night.

I've started a fire nevertheless because a camp without a campfire is like s'mores without chocolate.

We have a radio tuned to a local station, and I'm writing a blog post.

Okay, I will be the first to admit that WiFi and tents do not seem to go together. But, I have appreciated the chance to check the weather and my email while here.

Next weekend we go camping in the northern part of Oxford County, where there isn't even running water. REAL camping. SO I will make up for surfing porn while in Conway.

That was a joke.

Corrine is the only one who does that anyway.

These last couple of days away from home have been a needed respite from everything.

Getting back tomorrow, however, I need to jump back into Purple Holly. I haven't written for a week.


Not Good.

Ever get the feeling that someone who is talking to you doesn't really have a point.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Frag Town, U.S.A.

These are Friday Fragments, an idea originated by Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin' Time. It's a collection of weekly thoughts, none of which alone would make for a complete post. Okay, that's a lie. I could probably stretch all of these into complete posts. And no one reads this intro, so I could probably write donkey balls and no one would pick up on it. The first one to mention it gets a prize.

Friday Fragments?

++ I got my class list for the fall from the university. At this point, starting the very first week of September, I'm enrolled in Bridge Math (a.k.a. Algebra for Dummies), U.S. History, English, and Philosophy.

The math class is non credit. Sort of like a primer class for when I take a real college algebra. That means I'm actually only getting credit for three classes. Which is fine. I'd rather start out slowly and ramp up.

++ We weren't able to do anything we planned at the beginning of the week because of the fucking rain. 26 out of the last 28 days of it. That and no money. Can we not transpose this? Can we not have 26 out of the last 28 days of money and no rain? Please? Enough already.

++ I am obsessed with my wife. I love looking at pictures of her when she was growing up. She has this impossibly long, blond hair, a magnetic smile, and in every photo I can see her extravagant character: some have called it loud and obnoxious. I call it full of life and fun and I am lucky to have her.

++ Gabrielle has an invisible friend named Jack. Who also just happens to be a kangaroo. I don't ask questions anymore, folks. Not after fathering four and step-fathering two. I just go with it.

++ I am estranged from my sister right now, but it won't last. Over an argument about money. We'll go for awhile without speaking and then the air will clear and all will be good. This week, I thought of something. A moment in time. She (three years my senior) and I sitting in our parents' living room on a Saturday night watching Disney on the television. My father sits on the floor while my sister sits behind him on the couch, combing his hair with one of his black pocket combs. He used to let her do that for the entire show.

An enduring image of my sister, one that transcends all the frivolity and meaningless sibling arguments we have had through the years.

++ Griffin says "Dora" and "hi" and "Daddy", "Ty", "mum mum", and "Eye." He also knows sign language for "please" which is a hand across the stomach, and "get the fuck off the road", which is really just one finger thrust through an open car window. He learned that from Gabrielle, who uses both hands because she's older.

++ As I write this, we are sitting in our campsite at a campground in Conway, New Hampshire. Yesterday and so far today, the weather has been magnificently brilliant and is expected to be, for the most part, for the next couple of days. The trip is our vacation together (as much as together means with two smelly exuberant young ones) but also a chance for Corrine to meet my very good friends, Gianna, Jami and Sean.

I met Gianna while living in Vermont and we became fast friends, theater being the tie that bound us. We did shows together, and even directed one.

Whenever we get together, we regale each other - and anyone else in the room - with theater stories past and present, and it never gets old. Corrine has met Gianna, but not her little sister Jami and Jami's husband Sean. Nor have any of us met their daughter, Ryan, who has probably the coolest name for a girl ever. In fact, we liked that name for Gabrielle but, alas, it was taken.

We will drink margaritas (especially Griffin), talk about theater and politics and movies and books, and life will be very good.

++ I am going to get a new tattoo. I have a purple ink quill on my right forearm, but I'd like something else. I know what it is but I'm not telling anyone. I think it'll be on my back shoulder. But then again, I wouldn't be able to see it. Hmmm. I'll keep you posted.

++ So, feast or famine it seems for us and the world of adoption. I have not chronicled for you the infuriating process it has been for us to adopt. The short version is that we decided to adopt because we saw a child needing a permanent home. We took the required classes, did the home invasion study where they told us the 1,290 things we need to do to adopt a child. And we've been assigned arguably the most inept, laziest, most uncaring people at the state agency. In the end, the child we have advocated for for months was sent to live with an aunt - who gave him up once before but decided to try again.

Anyway...we moved on and are in the "running" for a child. We are one of two families out of dozens chosen. And then, this past week, we got a call about our original child - learning that the situation with the aunt was not going to work out after all. (no duh.)

So now we're in a predicament. We're in the "running" for two young boys.

What the hell do we do now?

++ Corrine and I watched Into the Wild last week. A movie based on a book written by a man who, after graduating college, gave up all of his earthly possession and hiked, kayaked, swam, hitchhiked, and crawled his way to Alaska. It was a test of resolve. To slough off the grime that accumulates in a life of excess and strip malls and credit cards. He succeeded and failed. In the end (of the movie - I did not read the book) he writes in his diary that personal happiness is best served among friends, not in solitude. That's an extreme paraphrase. But that's the gist.

I recommend you to watch it, and defy you to not feel an overwhelming desire to hug your friends and family afterward.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My Beautiful Baby

Cheaper Than Therapy

Corrine shared with me lots of photos of her youth, which included a stretch as a beauty contestant. She was absolutely the best, in my humble opinion, and I've shared a few photos here. The first one is with her dad. The second is her publicity shot. The rest are from pageants.

How adorable is she anyway?!

And, of course, I had to use the Frank Sinatra lyrics....

You must have been a beautiful baby
You must have been a wonderful child
When you were only starting to go to kindergarten
I bet you drove the little boys wild.
And when it came to winning blue ribboms
You must have shown the other kids how.
I can see the judges' eyes as they handed you the prize
You must have made the cutest bow.
You must've been a beautiful baby
'Cause baby look at you now.

Does your mother realize
The stork delivered quite a prize
The day he left you on the family tree?
Does your dad appreciate
That you're merely supergreat
The miracle of any century?
If they don't just send them both to me.

You must have been a beautiful baby
You must have been a wonderful child.
When you were only starting to go to kindergarten
I bet you drove the little boys wild.
And when it came to winning blue ribboms
You must have shown the other kids how.
I can see the judges' eyes as they handed you the prize
You must have made the cutest bow.
You must've been a beautiful baby
'Cause baby look at you now.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Major Coop

Ty clipping the chicken wire to prepare it for stapling to the coop. Gabrielle wants to help. In fact she demands it.
Griffin was our foreman. He's got the scowl, the mouth, and I even think he shit himself.

Griffin: I can eat this, can't I?
Gabi: Um..yeah. Eat it!

"Tra la la la laaaa"

Corrine knows sign language. Either that or she's letting everyone know my shortcoming. You know. That I have a lame pinky.

I like to move it! Move it!

Harrison holds one side. Corrine the other. Gimli looking for a place to crap. Sammy sniffing.

Let's see. If I close my left eye it's level...if I close my right eye I ... I ... can't see! Ahhhhh!

Okay. I'm on the verge of a hissy, Corrine is calming me down, and Sammy is laughing his ass off.

I'm stapling. Corrine is apparently teaching Gimli how to take a dump.

Adults are working. Teens are not. Hmmm.

La Coop

Corrine is holding the door in place while I look for JUST the right ratchet. Harrison is saying "You won't find it in there." He was right.

But I still kept looking anyway.

Is it me or is my bald spot moving according to the sun? And are they riding up, dear?

Corrine: Hey, when your dad comes back out, tell him this is upside down.

Foreman Griffin flirts with the hired help.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Nevermind the Bollocks, Here's Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments?

This is Friday Fragments, a list of random thoughts and observations by me over the past week. This was originally created by Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin' Time. You should check her out.

** Corrine and I are on the same wavelength on just about everything, a sure sign that we were meant for each other. It's so scary sometimes that just the other day, out of the blue, I began singing a song I hadn't heard for years, and so did she. Almost at the same exact moment. Now, I don't claim to be prescient, and I can't see ghosts or speak to animals. But, you have to admit, that's fucking weird.

** In 2003 I was in a play called "The Nerd" as the title character. It was the first time I met Corrine, actually. I took my son to auditions, she took Alyssa as well. Harrison did not get a part, but Corrine and Alyssa did. Alyssa was actually shorter than me and didn't have boobs. Today, she's a gorgeous 15 year old with spectacular acting talent (I cast her in the play I just directed, in fact).

Anyway, during Never Too Late, most of the original cast were there on the final Sunday's performance. See the photo. We had a little reunion! Wicked cool!

(From left to right: Joel, the producer; Me, Meg, Ed, Bill, Corrine, Alyssa)

It was the first show I did after returning from Minnesota, and the first one I had done since 1999.

I had such a fun time doing it, and it led to three more shows before jumping back in this spring with Never Too Late.

** It has been implied recently by a close relative that I am lazy. That I need to get off my ass and go out and get a "real" job. When the truth is, Corrine refuses to allow me to. She knows that my dream of being a writer is a supreme sacrifice, that it is time consuming, frustrating, but ultimately what I love more than anything. Corrine has been my champion, my bodyguard, my keeper and my soul. For taking upon her shoulders the burden of running this house so that I can achieve what I know I can. A day does not go by that I am not burdened with more than a little bit of guilt that I am not working a 9 to 5. But she always thwarts such self-loathing. I did not sleep well last night because it flared up yesterday in a fight with a relative.

This morning I woke up and saw Corrine's face and it was all better. We have an arrangement - on her suggestion and all her doing - that I work hard now, so that I can be a successful novelist later and allow her to be free.

Now, if I were in law school and she was working, people would not second guess me. People just don't see writing as a viable and sane pursuit.

Oh well. They always said writing would be a solitary pursuit. I have Corrine. And really, that's all I need.

** Speaking of Purple Holly. I've written 12,555 words thus far, or 37 pages. That's actually at a faster clip that Surfacing. It's not a race, I know. But, it's heartening. My favorite passage so far:

We come upon the edge of the screaming midway and there is an amphitheater and upon the stage a man named Captain Rick with a guitar sings children's songs. In front of the stage, a bouncing and jubilant throng of kids are dancing.

Purple skips down the middle of the amphitheater steps and I follow. She joins the children, half her size. She bounces, and prances, twirls. Captain Rick's music blasts outward from a pair of speakers on stands. A rapid, fun, sunshiny song about alligators eating dandelions.

Purple finds a girl, maybe 7 or 8, and takes her by the hands and they twirl together in a tight circle, both laughing crazily. I stand off to the side, with the parents and I cannot take my eyes off the twirling girls and that is when I understand Purple.

A fear dissolves. A recognition comes to the front the way a cloud disperses and the sun spreads outward.

Twirling Purple, laughing Purple, giddy girl in the sea-colored skirt and the short-sleeved blouse. Her sandals getting dirty from the spinning. And she looks at me and smiles and laughs.

And so do I.

** Speaking of solitary pursuits with the help of Corrine. Everything is clear for school to start August 31, which is less than 8 weeks away. My classes have been submitted and are being set up as we speak. Financial aid has been taken care of. All I have to do now is wait.

** Speaking of waiting. Our 17 hens are getting fat! I removed a Plexiglas window from their current nesting quarters (an old built-in outhouse in our barn) and replaced it with a screen window so they can breathe. Yuck, did it smell in there. Dirty birds, hens are. Anyway, we should start to see eggs shortly.

** Speaking of eggs. Griffin turned one and Gabi is closing in on three. Holy shit.

** Speaking of eggs, part II. Corrine and I are impatiently waiting word from DHHS about adopting a boy. We are one of two in the "finals". Meaning, they have narrowed the field to us and another family. We go to an interview in Augusta from which they will decide which family is best suited for the little guy. Don't you love how they turn it into a competition?

** Speaking of competition. The grass on our lawn, because of the rain (23 days out of the last 27) is vying for the title of Longest Blades. I'm waging a bet on the patch above our leech bed. I can't mow at all because the mower will drown.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Snaggle-Toothed Birthday Party Boy

Cheaper Than Therapy

Griffin on his very first birthday. Woo hoo!

Lately, he's taken to scowling. Snarling. Like a cross between smelling something bad and looking to pick a fight. Very strange young lad. Maybe he's not understanding the hat? We're not sure.

Corrine made the cake. It's a tractor! Made of cake ... you know ... stuff. Frosting. Twix. A Twinkie is in there too, I think.

Yay! Griffin LOVES it.

Griffin is trying out the texture of the frosting.


Griffin's not loving it anymore

Griffin's gonna kill Ty

Or he'll just stick it in his mouth. That always works.

Griffin, among many other gifts, got a four wheeler. Again, he doesn't smell anything bad. He just likes to snarl lately. Very weird child, that Griffin.