Winkle Toes

I’ve been thinking it might be time to contribute a little levity to this blog… For those interested in an update on the ongoing Conant family drama, I’ll catch folks up on the current action soon, but for now, let me offer a little recap of our holiday time here at the Hillhouse. Elihu was here til only a few days before Christmas, and then he joined his father in Florida for his break. He remarked yesterday, as we enjoyed a school-free day (he’d gotten in at 2 am the previous night), that this was the first day it had felt “Christmassy”. He said in Florida it just wasn’t possible to feel this way. So we enjoyed the twelfth day of Christmas together, free of obligations or places to be. (I had one student, but in that Elihu was able to pull out his string bass and accompany the boy as he played, it was actually a fun little diversion in our day.)

Today Elihu and I are back to life as usual. (Or at least as usual as it can be.) My son and I are classic homebodies, and more than anything else in life we enjoy doing nothing much at all, right here in our cozy little house – and so we both very much appreciated having a day to regroup before diving into life once again.


IMG_1174Tiny paw prints made by “Winkle”, our catch-all name for each mouse in our house. Who doesn’t love bacon fat?

IMG_1173Tiny tooth marks.

IMG_1179Where the party took place.

IMG_1172I never feel good about this choice, but mice have taken the place over in the past and ruined food and clothes. (I think this label kinda looks more like ‘moose traps’, ya think?)

IMG_1142Some kind neighbor left this wonderful bottle of 2008 Silver Oak cab at the party. It was a delight to discover as I enjoyed some solitude at my house over the holidays. What an exquisite break from the usual table wine. !!!

IMG_0002Our humble kitchen in the early morning. My first photo with the new camera (same model as the old one). My old Canon point and shoot got beer-logged at the Christmas party. This was an expense that set me back a bit. Oh well. Two steps forward, one step back. It’s still forward movement I suppose.

IMG_0192Diving into the sub-culture of Pokemon in earnest at Elihu’s first-ever ‘official’ tournament.

IMG_0010Complete nerds. But good at what they do. Rules are the name of the game here.

IMG_0027Elihu and pals from Waldorf who share this obsession.

IMG_0187Going deep. The two long-haired boys play ‘after hours’. Dedication. To hair and the game.

IMG_0236Elihu loves, loves, loves his tuba lessons. Michael Meidenbaur is simply the best. Here you can see Elihu’s new rig to get the printed music up close so he can see it. It’s a two-step process; first there’s an extended shelf, then a clip on a gooseneck. Doesn’t look it, but there’s over $100 invested in this contraption!

IMG_0243The music can’t really be more than about ten inches from his eyes. Beyond that it’s a blur that no glasses can remedy.

IMG_0279Now we’re backstage at a performance by the Boston Camarata. Artistic Director Anne Azema plays the hurdy-gurdy.(You-know-who plays the bass recorder.)

IMG_0292Our dear friend Steve Lundahl, a man who plays every manner of wind-powered instrument, plays in the grand first piece of the evening’s program from the Chapel’s balcony.

IMG_0317What a concert – this year they featured Middle Eastern Christmas music. Wow.

IMG_0341Steve was a regular performer in the Festival of Baroque Music, which my parents hosted for 52 years. (In 2011, the series’ final year, it was the longest-running early music festival in the country.) He and mom had a nice visit.

IMG_0351…and afterward, Mom took us out to dinner! Yes!! Indian food!

IMG_0356Me with my Kingfisher, Elihu with his tuba mouthpiece.

IMG_0380But this is where we prefer to be most of the time. Chillin at home.

IMG_0431Probably the last letter Santa will get from this boy. “And if you please… make it the sort of magic, idyllic Christmas all hope for, but few experience.”

IMG_0433Taken with all things Michelangelo lately, he signed his name in mirror writing. Then he added a little levity himself by drawing his signature character, Stanley the Tree Sparrow.

IMG_0401Bass recorder over his shoulder, he gets stopped in the airport – as always – by security, so they can double-check the contents of those damned Pokemon tins. !! Soon he’s off to meet his father in Florida for a couple of weeks.

IMG_1184He’s back! An unexpected haircut in Florida inadvertently gave my long-haired boy a mini rockstar look. Even though Elihu had been intentionally growing out his hair for the past year, we both had to agree the results were not bad. Plus the new electric bass he got there aint bad, either.

IMG_1246But after that generous respite, he’s got some catching up to do on homework.

IMG_1219Elihu plays his bass recorder by the tree. On the twelfth day of Christmas we discovered a small cache of presents underneath it.

IMG_1235An unwrapped box sits under the tree, glaring slightly menacingly at the kid, who’s been instructed to wait until Grandma and Uncle Andrew arrive for a family belated Christmas and birthday celebration.

IMG_1333Today, 1/6/16, is Mom’s 81st birthday. She and my dad shared a birthday – he would have been 88. New Year’s Eve was my brother’s 50th birthday.
IMG_1286I transferred hours of VHS to DVD as a gift to her – and the family. She watches my father play harpsichord as my ex mother-in-law Nelly listens. This video was from the very first time the Conants and the Haques met each other, back in ’86. Wow.

IMG_1289Elihu plays Grandpa’s old wooden recorder for Grandma.

IMG_1282We enjoyed some old photographs – here’s one of toddler Eli and Uncle Andrew over 10 years ago now.

IMG_1270Lil man got an enormous drone rc helicopter from Dad and co. in Florida. I’ve seen a lot of rc aircraft in my day, and I gotta say, this puppy’s pretty awesome. Camera and lights – the whole nine yards.

IMG_1243Goodbye to Epiphany, birthdays and the Christmas season – and goodnight to all! If I can ever get the kid to put down the recorder and go to bed, that is….

Here’a a little clip of Elihu noodling around on a soprano recorder… we’re noting the difference between plastic and wood instruments. To those who know the difference well – please understand we’re just beginning to learn. It’s still all fairly new territory to us…

2 thoughts on “Winkle Toes

  1. In order to keep in the spirit of levity, I have to say that it is a good thing that you DIDN’T have to buy “Moose Traps”.Just imagine the types of hoofprints that they would leave on your cookware!

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