Faith Gong

I’ve been known to say, “More love is always a good thing!” I’ve been known to live that maxim, too, which is how I ended up with a husband, five children, a dog, a cat, 18 chickens, and 8 ducks. But I do have my limits, and I offer the following proof: We’re not sure about getting alpacas. Most of my children love animals, and they’re prone to treating animal acquisition like it’s an arms race. “Why can’t we get another dog?!?” they’ll whine, after learning about a friend’s new canine — or fill in the blank with the species du jour.  We are friendly with one particular family — we’ll call...

Mary Shelley’s 'Frankenstein'
This morning, I collected our family’s weekly order of library books at the pickup spot in Ilsley Public Library’s back garden (an event that inspires a level of excitement in my children just a notch below Christmas these days.) Included in our bag of books was my book group’s pick for the month: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. So today, a cloudy grey day when the temperature has dipped into the 50s and it feels more like the last days of autumn than the first days of summer, I am thinking about monsters. More accurately, I am thinking about evil. Monsters are the embodiment of evil; beings...
My children have done many things to amuse themselves while staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have read, read, and read some more. They have logged in countless hours on our trampoline and ninja slackline. They have played games: chess, poker, Apples to Apples, Unstable Unicorns, and Monopoly Deal. They have made art, baked, finished embroidery projects, and all four of my daughters are currently at work on novels. But one of their most enduring hobbies throughout this time has surprised me: The taking – and making – of personality quizzes. It started back in March, when a...
For the past 65 days, one of my lifelines has been a quarter-mile strip of sandy gravel. Its surface is mostly white, except for the places where we attempted to patch the potholes with cheap grey gravel. From the look of things, the potholes are winning. My lifeline has been my driveway. Our family has developed a daily routine around the driveway. First thing in the morning, while I’m fixing breakfast, my husband takes the dog for a run several times up and down the driveway. After breakfast, I strap the baby into a chest carrier and set out with my daughters for a single pre-school lap up...

In addition to the garden, the chickens and the children, Faith Gong has some ducks.
This will likely be a short column, because we are in the midst of putting in our garden. I have a complex relationship with my garden — as, I suspect, do many. Starting around March, a feeling that has lain dormant throughout the winter begins to stir in me: panic. Suddenly, I feel the urge to start drawing up a planting schedule and ordering seeds. This feeling intensifies as the days lengthen. By the time we start planting, usually in late April, my panic has been replaced with a lingering guilt. I feel guilty if I’m not out working in the garden when the weather is fine. When the forecast...

"THE SIGHT OF all four of my daughters holding hands and running across our back lawn, or pulling out board games on weekend mornings, because they know they have to be each other’s best friends now." Photo by Faith Gong
In order for me to have time and quiet in which to write this column, my husband took all five of our children to ride bikes around their grandparents’ neighborhood.  Once upon a time, this would have been a normal occurrence on a Sunday afternoon, but not today.  This is the first time I have been alone — really and completely alone, without a single member of my family in the house — in over a month.  This is the first time my children have been in a vehicle, the first time they have pulled out of our driveway onto the main road, in over a month. “I forget what it’s like to ride in a car!”...
I’ve seen several articles lately in which mental health professionals explain the emotions that humankind is experiencing right now — when the worldwide death toll from the COVID-19 virus continues to rise and the social distancing guidelines under which we have been placed stretch out indefinitely — as grief. Collective grief. If this is the case, then it looks like I’ve reached the anger stage. I don’t consider myself an angry person, but I suppose we are all angry people; some of us just deal with or bury our anger better than others. My own anger is usually hidden deep beneath layers of...
I wasn’t sure what this column should be about. Then, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to write it. Last week, I thought, “Everyone’s writing about the new coronavirus, so perhaps I shouldn’t. Maybe my column can be a refreshing break from the news of the world.” But it quickly became clear that to write about anything other than the COVID-19 pandemic that’s sweeping the world would be to ignore an enormous elephant in the room, as the number of confirmed cases rose across the nation and entered Vermont, and as the first Addison County resident tested positive.  As the COVID-19 numbers climbed...

THIS COMFY CHAIR may be a chair-and-a-half, but it’s still not big enough for all the Gong Girls.
I’ll be honest with you: It’s not easy for me to focus on writing this column. Last night, we turned the clocks ahead one hour, but the baby seems not to have noticed. And it’s 46 degrees and sunny outside, with only a few patches of snow on the ground. (If you’re not a Vermonter, that’s amazing spring fever weather this time of year!) I’ve sent my family off to open barn at the sheep farm, and about the last place I want to be is inside forcing my exhausted brain to transcribe coherent thoughts while the ducks are having a party on the lawn outside. But these signs of spring give me hope...

Now that we have a new baby in the house, one of the first questions I get asked (on rare occasions when I appear in public) is: “How are you sleeping?” The implication is that, because babies are known for waking multiple times in the night to eat, my husband and I must not be getting a full night’s sleep. This is true, but it’s nothing new: My husband and I haven’t gotten a full night’s sleep in almost thirteen years. To be fair, due to our rather rapid reproduction rate, we had an infant in the house for the first six of those thirteen years. But even after our first four children were no...


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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

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