Friday, December 29, 2006

In the midst of sad news and in a rainstorm, Danny turned eight today. Happy birthday Danny - cuddling your stuffed manatee, dancing with abandon at your pizza party, always eager to make friends. You are a sweet mystery - grow in health and joy little one.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

More death. More sad news, I almost said even sadder because there's something about the compelling despair of suicide that shocks and hurts. But I don't know what I really think. Is it sadder to have life snatched when you are doing a great job of living it, or sadder to fall into such a pit that you don't desire to live it anymore and are willing to take the drastic act to end it. I guess my true feeling is that comparing sadnesses is just stupid and doesn't work. Both things are seriously sad and there's no reason to measure.

Anyway, while Ruth and Chris were laughing in the kitchen making their neighbor Barbara's recipe for taco soup for everyone's dinner, Chris cell phone rang. The news was that Barbara had killed herself and had mentioned them warmly in the note she left. The funeral is Saturday. Ruth had talked to me about Barbara, a woman about my age who had a very hard life. Ruth knew she was suicidal (because she said so). She was in despair about emotional cutoffs in her family and feeling hopeless about the new career course she was setting (because of some professional misbehaver on the part of a professor). Ruth had talked to me a bit about Barbara and her hard story - her level of despair, had even given her my phone number. But Barbara had not called. I wonder if she had already decided to kill herself before she went to see her new grandson for Christmas. I guess we'll never know.

This is so hard. It is the first death of a friend for both Ruth and Chris and the first suicide (both of them lasted longer without either of those losses than I did as a young woman) Ruth feels guilty that she knew Barbara was seriously considering suicide and she (Ruth) maybe didn't do enough to change her mind, call authorities or inform estranged family members giving them a chance to mend fences. It seems to me that she and Chris both did what they could, but it is and is going to be hard for both of them.

They are going to the funeral Saturday morning with their other neighborhood friend, a Korean war veteran who has been very helpful to them this year (rides to the mechanic, shared meals, lots of good talks). I am impressed with the way they have made connections in their current neighborhood and life, and with the way they support each other in difficulty.

Before the funeral, in the midst of all this news of death and dying, we will celebrate Danny's eight birthday tomorrow. Lafe and death do dance cheek to cheek always. SOmetimes its just more obvious than others.
This year is ending with sad news. Professional objectivity is necessary to be helpful to my clients. I can't let their needs and troubles trigger my own needs and troubles - can't want anything back from them other than that they show up, pay, and work on their work. But that doesn't mean I can't like, respect and even love them. And when they have sad news in their lives, I do feel sad. This is one of those times.

I had been concerned about my thirty six year old client who had a biopsy the week before Christmas on a lesion recently found in his brain. They did the MRI because he insisted that the blurred vision and headaches he was suddenly having were not right - not just a stress response, that his body was screaming something was really wrong. The doctor resisted his request for the test but did reluctantly and scathingly allow it. There is a lesson there for all of us I guess. Insist.

The biopsy results came back not just malignant but terminal within two to eight months. This man is 36 ( so with regard to bracketing I need to remember that that was the same age Kerry was when he died, and he is happily married (only got married in October but the relationship is much longer, five years I think) to his true love. I see so many couples who are together for all kinds of material or insecurity reasons, who aren't good to each other, who don't treat each other well, but this couple is the real deal - true partners in love and life. In their relationship, their connection to their families and community of friends, and their own personal growth they demonstrate so much of what is the best about being human.

The young man who is dying was given the super hero nickname "The Includer" by his best friend and it has stuck. So there is a good sized group of young couples really reeling from this news and many of them are clients of mine. This is the kind of situation in which I believe that I am especially able to be an anchor - a servant of the old energy that surrounds birth and death. And sad as I am, I am also thankful.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tonight I went to the annual sing along symphony concert with old friends and grandchldren and their Daddy. The Austin symphony has learned that people want to SING at a sng along and made almost the whole thing participator, not performance. Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, and Santa made in the flesh appearances. Danny chose to go down to meet Rudolph - so extroverted and confident. KK sang the whole concert, able to read the words off the screen and follow. Zachary seemed a little overwhelmed by all the sound, but clapped in time to "Litter Drummer Boy. I felt overwhelmingly tender toward everyone there with me - though missing those who were not there. Joanna had to work, and Ruth , Bob and Chris aren't backint own yet.

I enjoyed the Christmas concert so much, though Christmas isn't my holiday. I also am glad we went, and were able to take the children to, a Channukah party on Sunday night and sing by the light of many mennorahs. Saturday night was a Christmas party in Sorpus with Bob's school family. I am doing holiday events bt a little at arms length, not fully connected. I wish I felt mre deeply involved in making hlidays good for others this year. I feel more like I'm enefitting from a sweetness in the air - not contributing much - disorganized - but very thankful to feel loved.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

tired tonight and fighting feeling down. KK has flu like symptoms, Danny had chest pains at school yesterday and its hard to know if he's coming down with flu too or if there's something else - he's had so many odd symptoms in his life - mostly eye and joint. I love those children so and hate it when they suffer. My own daughters too - having to work so hard, both of them. Life feels hard - and sometimes life just is hard. Nothing wrong with hard.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Mild weather again and not much to write - just scrap booking like crazy finally. I was so blocked and Ruth got me unstuck. It feels good to be taken care of by daughters. All of the mass of phtographs is finally falling in line - still lots of work to do, but I finally have a handle on it, at least for now.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tonight Joanna I were out after work the cold light of the full moon after work, waiting for KK's ballet class to end. It was a special time - unhurried because class wouldn't end til it ended. Joanna started talking about the reasons she believes and wants her children to believe in the mysteries of Christmas and St. Nicholas. She wants them to feel that they can offer up prayers and wishes and that some good and loving entity will care and make an effort to grant their wishes.She wants them to feel magic and mystery in the world always, and especially this time of year as the days shorten. She spoke with great intensity and love for her children and with the kind of belief in Christmas mysteries that I feel around the presence of tree spirits and fairies in the wood - a childlike belief rich with hope, but also aware of every day reality. I can't put all she said into words, but it touched me. I believe in mysteries too, though a different set.Then KK came out of class straight into her mother's arms - tall beautifully shaped little dancer carried to the car nuzzling with mommy - so little and so big. The big ballerina at the desk, monitoring the coming and going of the dance students grinned when Joanna lifted KK - just a moment of tenderness and connection. And then we got to show KK the moon which she said was so bright she thought it was a light, then a crescent peaking out from behind the clouds.

When I got home I found out in a message from an HCC friend that it is St. Nicholas day. It was sweet that Joanna shared her particular mysteries with me on the night of the saint of whom she was speaking. I'll have to ask her in the morning if she was aware it was his day.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Quiet Monday externally. The moon is full and silver in the cold sky, sparkling - the long night's moon. THe night's are long and getting longer for two more weeks - the days shortening. I like this time of year, with winter falling like a curtain. Zachary played in the yard this afternoon then ran in and flopped on the couch under two quilts. I asked him what was wrong and he looked at me like I was nuts. "Me cold." he declared and was polite enough not to follow up with "duh." It was cold but clear and bright - beautifully softly blue. I forgot to write yesterday thatt Bob and I saw an eagle flying south along MoPac when we were driving home from the park yesterday - clearly a bald eagle with white head and huge wings. They do winter on lakes north of here but we rarely see them in town - a treat.

Internally, I'm valuing personal and Constitutional freedom more than usual after spending much of the afternoon writing holiday cards to prisoners of conscience all over the world - people Amnesty International has selected as individuals incarcerated and in danger because of their efforts in the area of human rights.

I have two quotes for the day, both from Barbara Kinsolver.

"The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope."

"It's what you do that makes your soul, not the other way around."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bob and I had this weekend pretty much to ourselves - a surprise. Joanna got to have time with her kids and we were unexpectedly on our own. We got the chores done, washing, grocery shopping, precooking, and grading (a test about equivalent fractions on which many of the kids did pretty well) - cuddled lots and slept in both days - took a walk at Town Lake last night and another at McKinney Falls this afternoon. The season is shifting - from bright full fall last Monday to faded almost winter today - a few leaves still clinging to trees but the bare bones of branches beginning to stand stark against softly pillowed sky. It was good to have time to ourselves though I find myself missing the kids this evening now that Bob is gone back to Corpus.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Cool afternoon, no wind - KK is going to Allison's birthday party with a dolphin gift in tow. The girls are lovers of dolphins and dream of training them together someday. Joanna is taking her boys home this evening while KK is with Allison and Bob and I will have an unexpected couple evening, a nice surprise. I'm reading Barbara Kinsolver's Animal Dreams which is worth reading for the language and the sense of place in a small Mexican and Native American influenced town called Grace Arizona. The main character went through medical school and then decided being a doctor wasn't a match for her - that she couldn't do it. Of course I decided the same thing, though I didn't go all the way through med school - changed paths after getting in. I think I was right about myself, that I am better as therapist than I would have been as doctor, but sometimes I feel like I took an easy way out - running from blood and guts, overwhelmed empathy, long hours, sexism, and a systemwhich felt too impersonal. I don't think I'd change what I chose, but thinking about the road not taken is interesting and a bit unbalancing.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The temperature hovers around freezing and I'd best get my layers on and get to the bus stop. It should be a busy but pleasant work day. The young therapist to whom I have been subleasing my office for a couple of years will be out of my office - her books, toys etc. today. That will be good for both of us. She is able to afford her own space in out building now and I'm delighted her practice has grown as I thought it would. She's good at her work with kids and teens and I wanted to help launch her by providing affordable space - but now I'm really ready for the office to belong just to me again. I think I will keep it cleaner and feel more connected to it now that it belongs to just me again. She and I are going out to lunch with her sweet red haired one year old in tow to celebrate the change.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

It's cold outside - our first freeze after temperatures close to 80 yesterday. Zachary carried out to the car in a blanket this morning wailed with great distress "Why is it freezing cold in my street?" He was not impressed. I wasn't really either at the bus stop with the wind chill in the teens. Next time I'll remember my hoodie and gloves. I was fine this evening walking home from the bus because the wind had died down. That walk felt pleasantly brisks but this morning I was plain freezing.

I love the way KK's school teaches many things - especially science this year. She gets to make models and machines out of simple household objects. Last night it was an insulator which could contain an ice cube. She got a little circular tupperware container and put it inside a knitted pouch, set it inside a larger tupperware, all space stuffed with hotpads from the kitchen. I hope Joanna can manage without her hot pads until the project comes home!

Its been a good work week - fast moving and connecting - feel like I'm helpful to people. My feet are cold at this moment, but I am happy.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The work week, and a whole normal cycle after a period of vacations, begins today and I feel ready, even eager. Its a relief that my normal feels good. I have to write quickly before my ride comes and want to scatter a few thoughts. I listened to President Carter on telivision last night talking about his newest book about Isreal's current practice of apartheid regarding the Palestinians. As a Jew I am embarrassed by how badly a Jewish state is behaving - always worse when your own screw up. I'm relieved Mr. Carter believes there is a solution if all parties cooperate. I also am thankful Mr. Carter took the paths he took after his presidency. He is making his life such a gift! And it is interesting how much like Joanna's long stated views and concerns about Isreal his are. I hope she can find a way and time in her life to use her great skill in understanding public affairs for the greater good. Also, I was shocked by an incident that occured at Bob's school a few weeks ago. He talked with some of the students about Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech and they produced some interesting essays about their own hopes and dreams. But the shocking part was that Bob learned that one of the retired teachers who helps tutor math students, a woman Bob likes and respects, has deep distaste for Dr. King. She is from Alabama and said that like it was a reason to disapprove of a strong leader toward peace. She also told Bob the totally untrue snipet that Dr. King was coming out of his motel room with a white prostitute when he was shot. It freaks me out that someone who looks normal (no skinhead or Nazi tattoos - completely friendly and pleasant when we've spoken) can go around thinking such things. It makes me look at people differently in public - wondering who thinks and believes what dangerous thing. I admit I don't have empathy with this woman's position AT ALL. I'll have to think about whether this feels like a failure of empathy I should address or if I'm just right and so be it. Another shocking thing - the grand baby of an online friend was murdered (at three weeks old)- another instance that makes me rethink the way I see the world. I know I don't believe real safety is possible, but I don't expect babies to just get murdered out of the blue - and yet it clearly happened. Time to go to work. Maybe my work today can move someone half a heartbeat closer to living peacefully.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The second half of our holiday is home with family. Yesterday was a sweet and thankful Thanksgiving, traditional for us. Daughters both have adopted the custom of having lunch with their husband's families. All our crew (including James' mother and little sister) have late dinner here. That drill, as well as the traditional menu, has become familiar enough to feel comfortable. There are a few changes every year - James' favorite broccoli rice casserole a few years back and this year "yankee" - not cornbread - stuffing from Chris' traditions. I love the blending and the people - so much for which to be thankful I'm hearing more and more people, both private and public, comment on the inequities in the world in terms of all the people living on very little money ($500.00 a year being one recently quoted figure)and not having enough to eat. We are not doing enough to solve the problem and I don'tknow enough about how to solve it, but I do feel that more Americans are taking our ability to feast (annually and daily) less for granted.

After we'd gotten most of the dishes done and the children tucked in bed (hopefully with pie and stuffing dreams) Ruth and Chris shared one of their favorite movies with us on dvd. Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook is a beautiful love story spanning a life long marriage - from infatuation through trials and finally into a sweet and loyal abiding through the terrible loss of a love to dementia. I cried and was sorely aware that none of us knows what the future holds, except that it does hold loss on some terms. I watched Ruth and Chris cuddling on the couch, remembered James standing Joanna's chair at dinner, enfolding her in his arms. I looked at Bob relaxed in his chair savoring the story and remembered Kerry, living and loving and dying with me in this house. I felt the echo of the pain of losing a love and feared for all of us as to the future - how the losses will come. And then I remembered that you can't lose a great love unless you have a great love to lose - and that the couple in the film had a great and rich life together and so do all of us - that they transformed their ending the best they could - that we can to whatever terms life deals us. I still cried - and when Bob and I walked Lobo after the film we held hands with great tenderness which has lingered this morning. I want to hold onto that awareness of the beauty and importance, as well as fragility, of life.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bob and I continued our journey through the winter flocking behavior of snow geese and, especially sand hill cranes today. We woke before dawn in Roswell and made our way quickly to the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge where we hoped to see snow geese and sand hill cranes rise up of the lakes to meet the day. We were not disappointed. The deserted (by humans) refuge was swathed in mist and the temperature was 26 degrees when we arrived - the terrain pink and silver, sand coated in salt to the extent that we mistook it for frost or snow. Birds were as prolific as humans were absent - meadowlarks and hawks, ducks, pintail, mallard, widgeon, shoveler - and of course the centerpiece birds, the snow geese and sand hill cranes, who rose in clouds and glory from the misty lake - surrounding us in call and wing beat.

After the birds had taken to air, we went back to our room and slept deeply and sweetly - woke in time for checkout and a delicious Mexican lunch at a restaurant Bob found by asking the motel desk clerk where to get good Mexican food. At first questioning she sent us to a fancy looking place next door to the motel. When Bob asked her if she would send us to a really good restaurant if we were willing to drive further, she sent us down the highway to a family run place which was the real deal - owner's daughter waiting tables, owner's collection of models of vintage cars in a glass under the register, piles of spicy, nurturing food.

Bitter Creek refuge in the afternoon seemed to be on a different planet than it had at dawn. The cranes and geese were gone, and the temperature had gone up 30 degrees. Sun shown on a landscape dry and desert like. Hawks sat in trees and ducks continued to circle on the ponds.

We drove old roads, narrow and straight through dry land to the last location on our crane tour, Mule Shoe National Wildlife Refuge. It was here, at Paul's lake, that Bob first experienced masses of sand hill cranes before he knew me. He has told me so many times - at my request - the story of waiting by that little lake at dawn, only to discover that it was covered in sand hill cranes, more crane than water. He watched them take off in small groups for two hours. Tonight we watched them fly in - not out - as the sun set. The cranes called out in their melodic and graceful voices, the whole time we stood on the platform watching. They came in lines and vees from every direction as the sun sank and the lake took the sunset colors of rose and aqua. Some passed over our heads, crossed the lake, and found other lakes for their night's rest. Many though, drifted down through the air and settled at the far shore of Paul's lake, calling as night fell. We stayed until the velvet black of night had spiraled down, obliterating the last residue of pink light in the west. We stayed until the sky was silvered by diamond stars and we could reach up and touch the milky way. I felt four years old (the age I was when I learned the name of the milky way) and as old as the earth. This vacation has been truly magical.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Today started oddly at our motel with an uncomfortable incident. When we walked down to check out the driveway was blocked by two police cars. After the police left, a young man approached us in the lobby wanting a ride to the bus station or to Albuquerque - or somewhere. anywhere. We lied. We told him we didn't have room in the car. We could have made room. He scared me. I have a hunch he had just gotten out of prison , was angry, or a little crazy, was lying, desperate. And I keep thinking he was somebody's baby once, that he has suffered, is suffering now. I wonder where he is tonight now that it is cold again, if he is warm, if he has hurt anyone.

Bob and I shook off the strangeness around the young vagrant to track a shared dream around winding hairpin turns through the mule deers' mountain forest to the edge of the Gila wilderness. We climbed to the Gila cliff dwellings and were fascinated by our tour guide, a man about to turn sixty who has been working three years in the Gila and has a deep sense of spiritual connection with the place. We liked his approach - not just giving us facts but encouraging us to think about how the people actually lived in these dwellings. We felt he was a true keeper of this place and its stories - and one of the voices of the Gila. But the other voices of the Gila- those howling voices of the endangered and transported Mexican wolves - floated down the mountain and entered our hearts even more deeply. We heard these wolves - or some of their kin, before, at Wolf Haven in Washington state when they were being readied for reintroduction into the wild. We wish them well and thank them for their song.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Crane Festival at Bosque de Apache National Wildlife Refuge burst far past any expectation. WOW! We started our day before dawn, all wrapped up with the other participants in the limited walk in fly out program to watch ducks, snow geese and sand hill cranes lift off the lake. The moon rose, the smallest sliver of a crescent, then the ducks, the geese, the cranes. Honking geese and stately cranes crying musically rose in clouds from the lake and passed just feet over our head. They were simply beginning their day as they do every day, but we were in the middle of it - ordinary for them, astonishing for us.
I stood in awe as streams of white and silver birds traversed the brightening sky, honking, crying, glorious.

People can't equal nature's feats, but the bunch at this refuge gave it a good go. At the visitors' center we enjoyed a wildlife art show in which many media and takes on nature's images were, represented, and saw raptors, reptiles, and wolves brought as ambassador's by volunteers who care for them. We ate breakfast served by the Lion's club and hiked a canyon hike through beautifully quiet and austere Solitude Canyon. joined a bus tour of the far reaches of the refuge - saw acres of geese and cranes, a bald eagle, and a flock of at least fifty turkeys wandering through the woods. Accepting the volunteer tour guide - not letting her relative ignorance of birds (she wasn't even using binoculars) and something condescending in her tone - detract from the experience from me was a challenge and mostly a success.

But the peak birding came at the end of the day when Bob and I drove the tour road ourselves and saw corn field upon corn field of geese and cranes. The last field at which we stopped was so close we could see the faces of the geese (and practice recognizing the difference between Ross' and snow geese) and so crowded that new arrivals had trouble landing. The birds were loud, alive, present - lushly and abundantly right there. We were in their world and they seemed oblivious, sharing generously.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Today Bob and I started a runaway vacation to celebrate the beginning of Thanksgiving break. This is the last year the Corpus School district expects to close for a whole week at Thanksgiving, and we did not want to waste that opportunity. We followed our long term dream to visit wildlife refuges in New Mexico and west Texas to see the sand hill cranes and snow geese in mass. Bob has seen and heard this spectacle before and has described it to me. I have yearned to experience it. I've seen the plump, noisy heavy geese in their white and blue morphs in fields in Louisiana, but in hundreds, not the thousands present in November in New Mexico. And the tall, long legged, silver blue sand hill cranes, red crowned and stately, natural nobility, I have seen only in groups of eight to twenty. Even so I have loved watching them for long periods of time and have envied Bob his experiences of them in mass.

Its been a busy fall, a successful and happy fall fr both of us, but one in which our work lives have kept us moving on separate pathes. We were more than ready for time to enjoy ith each other and no expectations - away from home, work and kitchen - just us. It's been glorious from the beginning. We found a treasure near El Paso, Hueco Tanks Historic Area, an amazing oasis in the desert, three ponds unexpectedly present because of ancient volcanic activity, a magnet for birds, mammals, and rock climbers. A rock shelter is rich with evocative petroglyphs from ancient times. We must get back there, hopeful with grandchildren who would love to clamber on the rocks.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

KK is reading Harry Potter, a normal enough thing for a kid of her generation but really special for me. Partly I'm impressed and relieved that her reading level is at this place after her struggle with dyslexia or something that looked alot like it. She's absorbed in this complex magical story now, reading for herself, for the story, for joy, and she's understanding it. Yes it helps that she's seen the movie and the characters a nd plot are familiarbut she's READING it, two chapters in a row plumped up on pillows on my bead, and that thrills me. But there's another level of thrill. This is the first time KK and I are talking about a book the way I do with other readers, not me trying to help her enjoy a book, guiding her, trying to be subtle about making sure she gets it. We are just two readers together shifting ourselves into the Harry Potter world, imagining what we would turn a dresser, a pencil of Zachary into if we had a transfiguration spell. Its fun, and the beginning of being peers in the world.
I am way behind on this blog because I didn't have Internet access last week at our beach condo, so I think I will be lazy and just make one big entry all at once rather than trying to recapture bits from the different days. That way I will be more caught up and likely to keep posting.

It was wonderful last week having so much time and freedom at the beach condo with Bob. I've been going to the same Texas beaches several times a year since I was 19 and it seems like almost every time I spend any real time down there I see something new. This time it was unusually high tides, practically licking the dunes at sunset without storm conditions. The quickly shifting colors of the sunset illuminated the vast expanse of turbulent water - magnificent - one of those awe in nature interludes for me.

Birding was good too, not in a spectacular way, but just in the abundant presence of birds we know and often see. I only started learning anything about birds when I married Bob at forty, and I'm a slow study, so it is exciting for me to be able to quickly identify almost any bird correctly. I was able to write some last week too on an odd new novel idea with a touch of a mystery in it - not in any state to have people read yet, but fun to be working on. I had fun having time to cook good suppers for Bob and me, to have the treat of meeting him at the door after work days - just a great restful week.

Bob took election day off and we enjoyed birding and a beach walk at sunset while distracting ourselves from the pre-election tension. For once I felt more optimistic and excited while Bob just felt anxious. We were excited as the Democrats took the House and closed in on the Senate. I especially wondered what it felt like being Virginia voters when so much hung in the balance. Wednesday while Bob was at work and I watched CNN compulsively, calling back and forth with Ruth and Joanna as news broke, like the resignation of Rumsfield. I still don't know how hopeful to feel - maybe more fundamental changes are needed - but the optimist in me is relieved that there is change (and desire for change on the part of voters) in directions that I believe are for good.

Thursday the whole fourth grade went on a field trip to the Texas State Aquarium (first time for many of these kids from poor homes) They had a wonderful time, especially with a scavenger hunt Bob and another teacher designed. In every email I seem to need to write how delighted I am that he is so happy in his work right now. It just makes me grin.

We took the grandkids into the pine woods at Bastrop State Park yesterday, a real treat for all of us. The trail there is marked by aluminum plates on the trees and all three kids got a kick out of being able to find the plates and follow the trail. They also found the trees standing so tall beautiful and noticed details, like the way pine needles fall from tall trees and hang like decorations in the shorter deciduous trees. We felt the textures of moss and lichen, marveled at the changing light as dusk fell, and really enjoyed being outside together.

This will be an intense work week for me starting tomorrow since I am taking next week off (again, not great timing, but Bob has the whole Thanksgiving week off). We are running away together for the first half of the holiday week to go big time birding - hoping to catching the huge flocks of sand hill cranes at refuges in West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. We will venture into the Gila wilderness, where I have been wanting to hike for years now. We will be back on Wednesday next to celebrate Thanksgiving with kids and Grandkids here. I sure have plenty for which to be thankful.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I've taken the Halloween decorations down and am eager to fill baskets with gourds and Indian corn - my Thanksgiving totems. Tonight coming home on the bus I was one uncomfortable introvert caught between a young man and an older woman who were loudly and cheerfully debating the legalization of marijuana. He was for and she was against and they both had cogent and impassioned arguments.If the arguments had been written in an article, or intoned more quietly between acquaintances in a more private place - or if they had been part of a formalized debate I would have simply been mildly interested. But in the bus I felt accutely anxious. I am old fashioned I think, as well as introverted. Loud top of voice debate in a public place with a stranger feels wrong, off, vaguely dangerous - but both of the participants seemed to be enjoying the process, staying just a half step away from hostility. I was relieved when the bus got to my stop and I could escape into the cool quiet night.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I had fun this Halloween. I felt a little guilty about leaving my own house with a basket of candy on the bench in front between two uncarved pumpkins - but we don't have alot of kids in the neighborhood. Some must have come and found the candy because most of it was gone. I went out to Joanna's and handed out candy while Joanna and James trick or treated with the boys (clown Danny and pirate Zach). KK (a cheerleader cat, in UT cheerleader costume over black tights and leotard with tail and ears) has graduated to going wiht her best friend Allison - watched by Allison's Dad. I enjoyed the costumes this year, the way they were created from stuf we had - no money spent. That makes it feel like the Halloweens of my childhood and the girls' childhoods - creative. I sat on the little bench on Joanna's porch in my witch's hat, black dress, and orange feather boa, surrounded by glowing jack-o-lanterns Ruth had carved and thoroughly enjoyed trick-or-treaters of all ages. They were polite and friendly, eager to talk about their costumes and probably more of a treat to me than the candy was for them. There were some pretty elaborate costumes - lots of space aliens and winged beings - cute tiny lions, tigers, and bunnies, a bigger boy dressed as a traffic cone - all fun to see. I've always liked Halloween - the people out in the night, the chance to talk to people one usually wouldn't see - the whole suspension of rules. And I do love costumes - no less than when I was a kid.

Monday, October 30, 2006

What a rich and fun weekend we've had. Bob had a half day at workshops on Friday (no kids) and got to come home early enough for us to have mole enchilladas at a favorite local place and walk under the setting moon at McKinney Falls. It was romantic going to both of those places in one night, places we went to early in our time dating and have been to throughout our years together. I remember the immigrant from Mexico who started the restaurant - how he used to walk from table to table talking about the food and how he said he would want the meal I usually order, Tres Marias - three enchiladas with three sauces, ranchero, verde and mole, to be his last meal. I wonder if it was. He's been dead two or three years now and it pleases me that his kids run the restaurant as he did, same feel and same delicious food. Anybody in Austin, I'm talking about Las Palomas, out toward West Lake.

When Bob and have more time together like we did this weekend it is so much fun that I start to hope he can get a teaching job in Austin - but then I read and hear about overcrowded classrooms, lack of administrative support, actual administrative obstructionism, extreme rigidity and all sorts of problems in other schools and I don't like the thought of Bob leaving a truly supportive and appreciative school for the unkinown just to save us some money and make our lifestyle easier. He gets help he needs and he also gets the chance to try new projects like his chess and computer clubs. He is teaching solid math background to kids who don't have it and, because of who he is and how hard he works, teaching it better than most other teachers could. He's giving back in a unique way - his way - always a dream of his to be able to do that in a job, and this year it seems to have come true. I think his staying in Corpus continues to make sense for us even though he keeps less of his pay check and we have times apart. It wouldn't work for me twelve months a year, but with the sumers and long breaks it is working.

It was also a weekend of mixed spiritual experiences. Being the Jewish grandmother of Catholic grandchildren makes for fascinating diversity. Saturday morning Ruth, Chris and I went to a really refreshing Shabbat service in the home of one of the members of the Reconstructionist Jewish community we've been visiting. It felt good sitting on pillows in an octaganonal sun porch made of windows looking out over old trees and creek, singing with a dozen other people who just wanted to be at peace, right then, right there. We had pot luck lunch after and all three of us felt comfortable and happy. We'll see how this exploration of a new community continues, but right now we like it. Sunday morning, in the odd admixture of my life, I took my grandchildren to Catholic religious education. KK (and I) were worried about having another encounter with the crazy talking man who bothered us last week. We did not see him today and I ejoyed Danny's class's tour of the church by a priest whose hobby is religious architecture. I didn't know that in Catholic churches there is an arched structure covering the tabernacle alter which is based on the chuppa used at Jewish weddings to symbolise the overarching presence of God. That connection felt nice to me standing in a g roup of good Catholics. Sometimes I feel like I'm being dishonest because I don't wear a sign saying "very liberal, not so traditional Jewish grandmother of sweet Catholic children"

Saturday night was a bittersweet. Most of our extended family attended a birthday (Bill) and welcome home from the hospital (Marie) party for our dear friends for almost thirty years. The party was lovely, very casual, four generations of friends enjoying a lovely deck on a cool fall evening. It was sweet watching a new bunch of children blossom. The sad part was that Marie started feeling sick during the later part of the evening and is back in the hospital now with no sense of why. Kind of scary. I hate medical uncertainty.

Sunday afternoon KK and I enjoyed a Ballet Austin performance which included the third act of "Sleeping Beauty". I'd forgotten how fun and fantastic that act is, with the fairy tale characters including Puss in Boots and Red Riding Hood and The Big Bad Wolf dancing in celebration of Aurora's mariage to her prince. Its the fiftieth anniversary year for our city's ballet company, and it is one which gives KK great instruction and all of us much pleasure as audience members. I realised watching that KK has already reached a skill level in ballet where, if she continues to study and stays uninjured, she could have a career in the corps de ballet of a mediumsized company. Whetehr she would ever be a principal dancer, its too early to tell, but the basics are there - exciting to see.

While KK and I were at the ballet, Bob took the boys to the childrens' museum where Danny played host (the kid is so social - great at including people) at a new exhibit in which he ant others were able to dress up as chipmunks and play in a tree. Of all the little chipmunks only Zachary did not flee the fierce eagle portrayed by Grandpa Bob - a characteristic of little Zach. Family truism is "Zachary knows no fear". We wory sometimes that he will hurl himself headlong into some menace with irremediable result, but his determination and tenacity will probably serve him well.

Today Zach and I are eating lunch and are about to bake ghost shaped cupcakes - in little foil tins - for Halloween tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

odinary work day with tension running under it - nothing special on the surface) (except that all day I have been fighting anxiety about Marie having surgery to unplug a bile duct - about Bill waiting and worrying) Otherwise we had mild weather, soft rain. I miss Bob. It would be a good night to cuddle up in his arms. I keep putting off pulling down old letters or pictures to scrap book - what am I afraid of? I think I want to do the task but I just don't. Tonight I clearly have time. I'm avoiding opening the boxes.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Quiet day off - some writing - good preschool day with Zach. We cut out bats (Halloween not baseball), made cookies, practiced ABC's and counting, played ball. He's so much fun. He touched me today - spilled milk by accident, getting it out of the fridge at my request. He looked distressed and asked me if he had to go to time out. He was reassured when we talked about the concept of the accident - nobody's faulr. I know a little more about KK and the meet - blues were vor vault and bars, reds for floor and beam. I'm eager to know the exact scores and particulars, to see the video - and I know I will.
This Jewish grandmother takes her Catholic granchildren to mass on Sunday mornings - an odd thing in itself but pretty pleasant. I really like the faith community in which Joanna and James are raising the kids -d efinitely on the more liberal, universalist side of their denomination. And I like the church itself, a simple old church down on the "drag" the street that runs parallel to the University of Texas Campus. I've got lots of memories of all kinds set on that street - used to work at the Head Start a block north, had my first Texas date at the now defunct drugstore two blocks north. My parents even handed down their memories of that street - included having had their own first date in the same drugstore. So the place is in positive context for me - and I don't much notice that the drag is now a magnet for street people of various persuasions, many of them angry, with a real edge. It is though, and the Catholic Church has an issue with them hanging out in its lovely courtyard. My grandkids and I experienced this problem first hand yesterday and it left me sad.

We were sitting on the steps of a small fountain while KK and Zachary ate cake from a church event. A man casually dressed but not obviously "homeless: approached us from behind and started talking directly to Zachary (four). His first comment was innocent enough "I hope that's the real deal." I thought it was an attempt to joke about the chocolate cake - but then he got increasingly obscene and threatening, talking directly into Zachary's eyes and saying horribly obscene things - Zach answered politely, having no idea what the man was saying. KK didn't know the words but picked up the menace in the man's voice and looks. She grabbed Zach's cake and I grabbed Zach and we got out of there nd quickly reported the incident to the church office.

The incident left me with mixed feelings - KK too. We both wish the man had been simply poor and would have appreciated a piece of cake. But he was scary and not just randomly crazy. He was aiming his venom directly at Zach. We felt very protective ofour relatively oblivious little guy. I also imagined the man who vented on us as a four year old and wondered what has gone wrong with and for him. I wish issues of compassion and safety were more straight forward.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

KK is at a point in gymnastics and dance where each is almost a full time pursuit. She is going to have to choose soon - probably before the next competitive season. This weekend she had watching day in ballet and I got to see her conditioning and character class - a ninety minute class followed by an hour class. I was impressed by the quality of the teaching - so much attention to the details of each young dancer's form, gently and continuously presented. I've been watching a lot of these kids since kindergarten and, especially this year, am really seeing them develop as dancers and as people. KK also had a gymnastics meet this evening. I don't know the details of the results but she was pleased to have gotten two blue and two red ribbons - I think her highest overall score yet. I don't know which activity she will choose to pursue. She's probably a better dancer than gymnast, though she's good at both but she says she would miss the flying element of gymnastics if she quit. She might miss the competition too, though I'm not sure. She seems to have better friends in the dance world. Her choice. So many choices and its hard to know which ones will make the most difference for better or for worse.Interesting to watch someone at the beginning of life.
Other highlights of the weekend - Danny started a rock collection in connection with a Cub Scout badge and is delighted with his rocks and his status as a wolf cub. Politically I can worry about Boy Scouts being too far to the right, but right now scouting sure seems goood for Danny. - KK started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, a huge deal since it really is a hard book and learning to read was a challenge for her. It is a treat to have to fight to get her to put a book down to finish getting ready for a meet. - The family attended Round Rock's Hairy Man Festival at the park across the street from James' and Joanna's house and we all had fun. James even entered the Hairiest Man contest. It was fun to see him and the kids in their community talking to people who know and like them in everyday life. On a whim I got my hair spryed blue and orange. It was fun and watching the process was a kick for the grandchildren. The blue die ran thought and by the end of the day I looked like a Smurf. Ruth helped me scrub the die off. It felt good to have her physically taking care of me - scrubbing and moving my hair gently out of the way. Once we grow up we don't get enough of that kind of caretaking touch unless we choose to pay for it. At least I don't.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Winding down from the week - I didn't do some of the projects I planned this evening and I'm not sure why - did catch up on correspondence which is good. Feel quiet. I think I'll go to bed early.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

This Thursday's norther was for real - It will be in the forties tonight and I actually felt cold at the bus stop this morning. It felt great to be cold. I still haven't felt the high that the fall change sometimes brings - like being pushed forward by the wind - but I have been writing well this week and in an upbeat mood. I am enjoying all my Halloween decorations around me in the house and wish more people in the neighborhood had more stuff out this year. I enjoy every decoration I see. People who bother with pumpkin chains and orange lights in the trees. thank you for lifting my spirits. We never know what we do will really make a difference to someone else.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Good quiet Monday at home. I actually wrote a little fiction - background for a mystery piece. It was fun - whether I ever do anything with it or not. I enjoyed playing ball with Zachary when he was here for a little while htis morning. He is in love with ball games of all sorts. Today we were kicking a soccor ball to each other up and down the hall. Neither of us ever seems to get bored with such games. I realised that Azch is giving me one of those "I will always remember" experiences when we play ball. He is quick to say "Good catch!" or "Good kick! or "OOPS! Missed it." as fits the circumstances. I will always remember these phrases in his four year old voice.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

I enjoyed my family this weekend - felt really wrapped in family. Snuggling with Bob, grocery shopping with Ru, and KK, sitting with Danny at the very back of an almost empty city bus - drilling addition facts and watching the cars. The kids and I decorated for Halloween, slways a favorite activity for me. I get a kick out of KK's desire to show every visitor the three birds (two owls and a raven) who are sort of camoflauged in the decor. I love it that she is getting a kick out of decorating and sharing it, just as I am. I love it that all kids are sharing the fun with me. We also baked our first pumkin pies of the season today and enjoyed them thoroughly. Despite all the pleasures, I'm still feeling a little flat - still waiting for a fierce norther, a sea change of some sort (and crossing my fingers it will be one which does not bring losses with it).

Friday, October 13, 2006

I just got back from boy world - Cub Scout meeting with Danny. He looks so sharp in his blue uniform shirt, so happy and proud. It was an education for this emigrant from girl world. I watched with admiration as the pack master (a local judge and father of young boys) worked with boys of all elementary ages, balancing rough physical play, burp and fart humor, with values for participating in a democratic process (voting on T shirt designs the boys suggested), talking about positive accomplishments, listening, including newcomers. The song the boys shouted out to "On Top of Old Smoky" was about overdosing on pink bug juice at Boy Scout camp and everybody getting the runs. I noticed myself blushing, along with most of the mommies while the daddies and boys sang unabashedly - Danny included. I don't know how much gender difference is innate and how much taught - but it is sure real by second grade. I cringed a little at the military bearing of the boys - imagining them in other uniforms fighting foreign wars. But I like this group of people and more importantly, Danny likes it and had a great time.
Friday morning - We've had our first real norther. I was out when it came, felt the first wind shift, the first drops of cool rain. I've been waiting for this for weeks, and with high eagerness the last three days since I've begun to see color shifts in the trees. But its been a disappointment - not enough wind, not enough quickening. I feel guilty about feeling ungrateful for a delightful change, lowered temperatures, much needed rain. But I do feel ungrateful. I wanted this norther to blow into my soul and clean out every sense of sludge.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The tents are still in the living room. I can't face the camping closet tonight - but we all had fun and really enjoyed the late summer (officially early fall but it was warm day cool night no leaf change yet) hill country. It was probably the last good chance for river swimming - and the first time I've seen all three grand kids spend hours in a river - competent and imaginative - a great play experience for all of us.

It felt right to live in tents (girls and boys) under the full moon. There's no real reason. It rose scarlet, faded to lemon and finally to silver, kept us company all night.

Highlights were coyotes howling in the night, woodpecker tapping as an alarm clock,Zachary's delight at being able to play in the river with the big kids, Danny's total freedom and delight in the water - boy in element, no fear, waking with KK to the sound of gentle rain on our tent in the middle of the night - both of us amazed, all of us hiking a short steep trail to a cave and back down with no incident, managing the food so we were all satisfied, the way the kids helped, listening to Danny tell the story to his mom on the phone, especially his delight in seeing a doe with two big fawns(no more spots) in the woods.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Moon silver through layers of tent,
higher each time I wake, round ripe fruit
drips dream seeds into expectant sleep.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mockingbird is singing tonight and the moon rose almost full - so round in the early dusk - palest gold. I still feel the sweetness of Yom Kippur, but also a mixture of excitement and concern about taking the grandkds camping this weekend at Garner State Park. Bob is tired from a busy week at school and I'm not great with tents and camping food - and will be working al day tomorrow - but I'm more excited thaan woried. The kids are completely excited. I feel a happy connection going out to Garner. It was my first Texas STate Park as a college girl transplanted from California. Jean's family took me and it was this time of year. I remember wading in the river and climbing the rocky hill. I expect to repeat these experiences this weekend - and to enjoy the moonlight in the country.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Back in ordinary time. Still high from Yom Kippur, truly dancing with the Torah, singing in community, feeling like real turning and change are both possible and real. Today has felt like a new day, new world. I think I have been kind all day, stayed in wise self, held the light. I know I will not hold in this high and shining place, but some of yesterday's holiness has stayed, and that feels wonderful.

Monday, September 25, 2006

High Holy Days are hard - important, and hard. The rabbi said the day is a beginning, a real beginning of a new world. I took that to heart this year. I believe every day is a beginning of a new world. There are so many choice points. So many ways to consciously or uncounsiously create healing or hurt. I try for healing, but often create hurt. I strive for consciousness but often miss. Even when I act out of love, in best consciousness, in highest intention, it is not always - not even often - enough to heal the hurts of those I love most. And still, right now, with fall light softening and the colors of tonights sunset still unkownable, I have another new beginning - another chance. May I use it for good.


I'm not Jewish enough
not raised with enough
Hebrew or the words
to all the chants inscribed
inside my eyelids. the
blessings do not dance to
my lips like wind on water.
I never quite know if I chant
too loud or sway too far or
reach with too much hunger
toward the Torah, toward
community with people who
claim me, know me, own me.


Under my prayer shawl,
chanting in the minor
key of yearning, wordless,
I sway and bend
like a cypress in wind,
I am and do not pretend.
I am, if not Jewish enough,
human enough, inside.
under my prayer shawl.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

It is too late to write as much as I want and still get up for work in the morning, but in keeping with my desire to keep posting regularly, I will at least report in. The last three days have been good ones. Danny really liked the kick off mile run for Marathon Kids on the University of Texas track. He has until February to run all but the last mile, which will also be run on the track in a group. Marathon Kids is a neat program promting fitness and nutrition. In addition to t he running both of my school age grands have signed a pledge to eat five fruit or vegetable servings a day (and received fun plastic bracelets to remind them of their promises). This grandma (without even getting a bracelet) has also been reminded and is more vigalent about getting enough fruits and veggies every day. I'm wondering if any of the rest of you have grands associated with Marathon Kids.

The gymnastics meet was a good one for KK, with improved scores, especially a high score in vault. We were all proudest of her lowest score because it showed the kind of resilience we so admire. She had one of those going blank moments early in her floor exercise and just didn't remember the moves - right there in front of everybody - but she held her composure and the body memory came back and she came back so strong on the last tumbling run that she still stayed above eight even on that event. Its not the score that impresses me so much as the holding on in face of adversity, not choking.

The thread about balancing focus with kids has ben encouraging. KK is working so hard right now, and she deserves attention for that (and focusing on it and her is fun). We just need to keep remembering the boys. Danny has a camp out next weekend with his Mom, so that is special for him. And Zach is young enough that it is not hard to do things that he finds novel and special.

I had a delightful Sunday and Monday with Bob. Yesterday we swam in the still warm gulf and visited favorite birding spots. The songbird migration is around midpoint here and we were at a favorite pond near dusk where we enjoyed seeing ten kinds of warblers. I got a great view of an eastern water thrush, a bird I have recently learned to identify. And we has fun listening to a very experienced birder discource on everything we saw - and much I wouldn't have seen without her presence. The black terns (not black in this season) were flying high overhead on their way to Peru and her appreciation of their habits, destination, and delicate wing beats touched me. It is so much fun to be around people who are passionate about and know thoroughly just about anything.

Today at Bob's school I wat in the back of the room making folders and listened as he taught thorough review lessons on big numbers and rounding. He is really in the teaching flow and watching that is such a treat. I especially enjoyed talking with some of the fourth graders I've known since second grade. They are more reserved now, less transparent (and of course bigger) but still warm with me and that was a treat. I will be spending a couple of days in the classroom in November and I'm looking forward to that.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I am very aware tonight how important it is for me to moderate work flow - to take breaks between clients. I worked too many sessions back to back today and ended th day strung out and irritabl - unable to handl changes in plans well. Balance is so hard.

My last activity of the day was a delight. I was Danny's Boy Scout Buddy aat his first pack meeting as a Wolf Cub. Danny seemed to fit in easily with the boys, engaging in a skit which was really very funny (so simple and yet genuinely funny). I liked the men who lead the pack, their obvious pleasure in scouting and each other as well as in the kids. They talk about working to design meetings that are fun for the boys and also encourage listening, paying attention, and group discussion. One thing the boys did was communally generate a "code of bhavior" for hte meetings. They also had crab and bar walk racs. Next weknd Danny and Joanna will go on a camp out near Bastrop. Sounds like fun.
I am very aware tonight how important it is for me to moderate work flow - to take breaks between clients. I worked too many sessions back to back today and ended th day strung out and irritabl - unable to handl changes in plans well. Balance is so hard.

My last activity of the day was a delight. I was Danny's Boy Scout Buddy aat his first pack meeting as a Wolf Cub. Danny seemed to fit in easily with the boys, engaging in a skit which was really very funny (so simple and yet genuinely funny). I liked the men who lead the pack, their obvious pleasure in scouting and each other as well as in the kids. They talk about working to design meetings that are fun for the boys and also encourage listening, paying attention, and group discussion. One thing the boys did was communally generate a "code of bhavior" for hte meetings. They also had crab and bar walk racs. Next weknd Danny and Joanna will go on a camp out near Bastrop. Sounds like fun.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

At the end of another long work day I don't feel full of words, but I want to feed my renewed habit of bloggingg. The issues that come up for people in my therapy office seem to follow trends. This week much discussion has been around hope and hopelessness - the same thread Peggy opened on the HCC board. I wonder how much of that has to do with the September 11 anniversary and/or the coming change of season. I found myself speaking up today in favor of hope and action, against cynicism. If I take notice of pain, make an effort to help, try to do the next right thing, I may make mistakes but I will at least have a shot at making a positive difference. If I turn away and do nothing I know I change nothing. I don't have to know the outcome will be good or understand the whole problem. I can't. I can attempt to understand enough, to care enough, and to do the next right thing.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Today was a long work day and tiring, but I had the treat at the end of going out for Mexican food with Joanna and KK, who had just finished ballet class. It was raining out as we soaked in the rich smells and tastes of a warm restaurant - a good way to end a busy day.

A friend on a my half century club message board asked what we saw in the world today that gives us hope for the future. I appreciated the question. Sometimes it is easier for me to feel overwhelmed than hopeful. I do feel hope pased on the progress that has ocured in civil rights and rights for women in the decades of my adulthood. I believe that a higher percentage of persons is more open to diversity in many aspects of life style (though a minority is intensely closed to diversity) than in past decades. I am a person who generally sees hope on a small scale, individual by individual. The clients I see at work, people dedicated to growing past losses, contributing what they can to the world, hoping and thriving, give me hope. The students Bob teaches and their parents, many of them first generation Americans, still working on their English, but full of gratitude to Bob for his efforts and interest, eager to learn, striving, give me hope. Today I felt a moment of hope on the bus when a young man sitting next to me was sufficiently mindful to anticipate a need and help the driver ready straps to accomodate a man in a wheel chair who was boarding the bus. The fact that a small convention of dentists has hired my partner Bill to do a seminar for them on wisdom stories with the stated goal that they want to slow their pace and attend to life balance issues, gives me hope. Wonderful writers who continue to tell important stories (Acts of Faith) about our complex and confounding world, give me hope. Watching my grand daughter's gymnastics team work out - the discipline of the girls and their kindness toaward one another, gives me hope. And always, the cycles of the moon and the seasons, the flow of rivers, the butterflies on the milkweed call out to the part of me that wants to hope even against all hope.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Its been almost six months since I touched this blog. Computer problems last spring shut me down, but since June I've just been stuck in inertia. The fall change is upon us here - rain falling, temperatures also falling out of the miserabl ot range - energy rising. By act of will, I am reviving this blog starting tonight.

I think tonight of lives lost five years ago when the twin towers fell and the Pentagon was attacked. I think of all the lives lost and changed in the wars and terrorist attacks that have occured during the last five years. I mourn. And I grab hold of this moment, this breath, this night and commit myself to a life focused on healing not hurting, life not death.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Raining - raining - raining. It has been raining most of the day and is supposed to continue most of the week. We need it. The winter was dangerously dry with wild fires and a burn ban all over Texas. Now spring is coming into green softness, but slowly after a major cold snap last week. Trees still look scraggy - not lush yet - in transition, like awkward adolescents. A week from now it will be very different I think - full spring.

I finished my hospice volunteer training today. It is exciting to me to be working on a volunteer project with Ruth - following her lead in the photo part of the project at least. Its been a while since I worked with hospice or grief groups, and I think I've missed it. I didn't plan to start volunteering until I closed my practice in ten years or so - but this feels good now.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

We did have a good spring break week. While Bob was home we made a day trip down to Fulton to see the birds at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge from a boat with commentary by an experienced birder. (And we saw the first bluebonnets of spring on the way down). From the boat we saw 23 whooping cranes, including at least five babies, one still strongly cinnamon colored. There were only fifteen whoopers left in the world in the forties when the project to save them began - 215 now, so seeing so many in one day was amazing and hopeful. We also had funny experience of seeing a greater flaming -- yes pink and standing on one leg -- who DOES NOT belong in the Aransas refuge. Occasionally an adolescent flies up from Mexico and visits. He looked pretty odd standing in the midst of a bevy of white pelicans, who DID NOT enjoy his presence.

Bob is working very hard to get his fifth grade science and math program up to speed, and its been a huge challenge, but he seems to be making real inroads. He says it would be much easier to teach fifth grade at Menger next year, especially math, Science would still be a challenge. The decision about whether to apply for jobs closer to home opens up next month. It will be a hard one, financially to our advantage and nice to be simplified back to one home and together every night -- but could be jumping from the frying pan into the fire regarding principals and such and he would like to leave on the note of having finished a really successful year feeling strong and competent. Change is hard. We really don't know what choice we'll make (and of course not what will be available if he does choose to look). There is a program here Alliance Schools, which selects schools which serve low income populations and have a high commitment to excellence and community involvement. Probably Bob will apply to all of those.

Ruth and Chris were in Austin on their spring break too and it was fun having them as house guests. They were pretty busy visiting friends and doing city errands, but we enjoyed evenings together. Ruth has volunteered with a local hospice Austin to do a photo project with them -- somehow helping families record and treasure photo memories when a death is imminent. I don't know exactly what she will do, but she is excited by this opportunity and needs a photo assistant who is certified with the hospice. That would be me once I can get trained and get my TB test. I'm waiting for a call back. I'm also volunteering to do their newsletter. I went this morning for training and go back tomorrow before work to finish training. I find the volunteer coordinator and the bereavement services coordinator wonderfully refreshing real, hard working women, who were very open and welcoming to me. It was fun being the beginner, not in charge. I think this will be a great opportunity for Ruth and me to work together doing something meaningful - also a chance to expand my community.

Chris has already started applying to jobs in the Austin area. He and Ruth want to get back into their house and their life here, though this school year has been successful, exciting and educational for both of them, OR they want to move to the Pacific northwest where they love the nature and progressive political climate. A huge deal over break was the discussion in which I got it (after may tears and much protestation) that moving might really be the best thing for them and that I don't need out little family community to continue as is. I could be happy with a scattered family. I was completely stubborn on this issue, but something has shifted and the shift is real. I work like that. I'm wedded to my position until I'm not and then I don't look back. This surprises Chris who hasn't seen it may times yet, but is a relief to Ruth. She says they probably will not choose to move because of expensive housing up there, Chris' trouble with lack of sunlight, and their own attachment to staying near family. We'll see.

I had lots of Grandma fun over spring break. Joanna's kids continue to grow up (of course)! Every time I see KK dance, she's markedly better. The first weekend of break we were able to attend "watching days" in her classes, which was a treat. The instruction she's getting is excellent and the steps are getting harder and harder. Watching all the young dancers concentrate so fiercely and work so hard is inspiring.

Zachary is lots of fun these days, talking in sentences and tearing about getting into and climbing up and over everything he encounters. That kid knows no obstacles even when they seem apparent to others. Sunday lunchtime was a prime example. He asked Ruth if he could ride in her car to a restaurant and she said "No' because the car seat was in Bob's car ad she didn't want to move it. Zach wet out and unstrapped the car seat and lugged it over to Ruth's car ad hefted it up on the seat -- of course he couldn't do the straps. We were all impressed.

I'm working, reading, enjoying my new venture of selling beads on eBay -- enjoying having my family close for now. I'm not writing much beyond my daily writing practice and bead descriptios, but want to change that - WILL change that. It will be easier now that I don't have a house full of people. .

Thursday, March 09, 2006

With regard to yesterday's entry about the most looked up words, Ruth read it and commented that people might have been thinking about structural integrity - like the levees didn't have. That makes sense. I know that meaning well and wonder why I t didn't occur to me.

Spring wise, this is the first orning I look out my back window and see a cloud of (still a bit scraggy and sickly) green in the tree tops. And the sky is that shade of fresh washed blue that only comes in early spring and after a thunder storm, which we did have last night.

I'm still playing with beads and put up my first one day only auction (green for St. Patrick's Day) last night. So far so good. I do have bids.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Merriam-Webster OnLine just released its list of top searched words of 2005: integrity, refugee, contempt, filibuster, insipid, tsunami, pandemic, conclave, levee and inept. On first reading this list bothered me - seemed focused on disaster, fear, and judgement (I'm not saying its incorrect) of the government. I found the list depressing for the first day, then looked at it again and thought maybe people are just interested in understanding what's going on. Maybe some of these words are really new to the. I applaud curiosity. I wonder about myself and my initial judgeent. The word integrity is positive, and I initially assued that it was being researched in terms of "lack or" on the part of elected officials. Now I wonder.

On a different note, spring continues in Austin. I was sad to see the first few leaves on one red bud, indicating the flowers will start to fade soon. Flowering tree time is so short. The wisteris is already beginning to fade. A funny side bar about Austin spring is that the streets and the lawns of greening grass are covered with fallen brown leaves. The very common and prized evergreen live oak drops its old leaves in March, never completely becoing bare, just looking shabby for a few weeks while new leaves bud. KK's tree is a live oak and is shedding while her brothers' trees green up.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

This evening as I walked home from the bus stop at sunset I saw a heavy black woman - youngish - standing on the bridge over Shoal Creek, smoking a cigarette. She looked out of place - and I censored myself for thinking that. Then as I walked by her, she asked me for money. That has never happened right here in the neighborhood - just a block from the house - on foot. I felt vulnerable, invaded, and guilty. I wanted to feel generous, but I didn't. I didn't want her there (here) so close to home challenging me with her need. I gave her a dollar and I could tell she thought that wasn't nearly enough. I had more, but I didn't reach back into my bag. I was scared, rattled. I didn't want her to be there, within my inner sanctum of places wanting money. I wonder if she is a hurricaine survivor. I wonder what she's been through - how she washed up in my neighborhood asking for money. I care and I don't care. I don't want her to suffer and I don't want her on my "doorstep." I'm locking my doors tonight. I don't like myself very much right now.

Monday, March 06, 2006

It is red bud time - a hint last week and brighter pink every day - trees clouded with pink - no leaves yet. When the leaves start the flowers begin to fade. Zachary's tiny cpress is fringed in needles and Danny's aple pops with buds. It is earliest spring - no wild flowers yet but tree flowers - a precious and very short time.

This evening some of the sweetest parts of family history replay. Joanna is with KK at ballet watching day and the boys are with me. Danny did his homework. They played in the sweet spring evening in the back yard where their other and auntie played. The sounds of little boys are a little different - more truck sounds - but the feeling is the same - me in the kitchen, spring in the air, happy kids out back. I like anchoring a second generation from the same house. .

I feel like I caught up with myself a little today - cleaning house, moving spring clothes into my closet and winter clothes out, writing a little. Its been a gentle day, a good day.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The first daffodils of spring are up and it was warm today - sleeveless dress war - yesterday too after being COLD for a week or so running.

I'm still really caught up in the beads - the eBay thing is successful so far. I have my third auction up and will leave it alone (the listing's what takes tie) for a couple of days. I ay even really write here something of quality.

DEtails of life - helping Danny with reading homework and practice is fun. He is getting the whole reading writing thing and his concentration is fun to watch. I wish Bob were ore cofortable in his classroom, but soe good things are happening there. One boy brought in ten rulers to compensate for the many the class has lost or broken. Bob'snew system of teaching math sees to be working.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I am still chasing my tail. This whole business of selling beads on eBay is a trip. It is fun describing the items - hard self-promotin, letting people know I'm selling these beads - fun seeing who bids on what and cyber-meeting peopls from all a woman I like - she biaround the country. Interesting connection is with a woman who bought a red memory wire necklace. She was my first bidder. Turns out she bought the necklace for her sixteen year old niece who has cerebral palsy and has trouble getting jewelry on and off. The aunt and I started corresponding and now she wants me to make a special silver gray and white fresh water pearl piece for her niece. That's exciting - both the people and the commission to design something special. Also plugging the beads has gotten me writing to and hearing from people I have known at life stages from high school to the present - That's fun.

I need to sleep andnot write - long longwork day plus beads.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

This is a pretty shabby blog entry. I have so much I want to write about - but I'm really pushing to get my auction of beads up on EBay. This is the second auction. The first week was a success and I really want to follow up with a greater variety of beads, but this is taking forever - listing them. I will persevere. And I also will sleep - haven't been doing enough of that.
So I'm going to list a few topics I will be writing about here over the next few days - to jog my memory and my conscience and see that I do it:

The dance performance I saw Sunday with Ruth and KK - a young Choreographer's showcase with a theme of "manners" - and my response to the concept of manners.

The eBay selling experience.

Jean's Papa and his war stories and how much I respect that man - and how much being with him makes me miss Daddy.

The book Clockers.

Doing schoolwork with KK and Danny.

Dealing with parenting mistakes I made.

One observation I will make right now before going to bed is that spring is creeping up on us even though we had freezing rain on Sunday. If you put your eyes two inches away from the stems of Zachary's cypress tree you can see actual leaves (needles technically, I guess) starting to unfurl. And I've seen mountain laurel and wisteria - redbud too - just a hint - a beginning. Color is on the way back.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Today I made a house call (actually an office call) on a new client who is in a wheel chair. The session went really well, seems like a good match. The odd thing for me was the this woman works in a building which is also home to the same "home for unwed mothers" that my birh mother ran away from a few months before I was born. I don't know that whole story, just that she felt confined, didn't like it, and wanted to arrange my adoption herself, as she did. The "home" is not in the same building as in 1950, and the parts of it I saw were inviting and friendly. I encountered several very pregnant young women, each of whom smiled at me - just very odd to think that the last time I was under the auspices of this place I was in untero.

Otherewise, I had a good day - a good walk through the campus area, took myself out to Thai lunch on the way back to the office. (and ice cream at Amy's, Mexican chocloate with cinnamon)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

My focus is scattered this week, to the point that I didn't realize how long it had been since I'd written here. I really have been all over the lot. As many of you know, I've been making beaded jewelry for years, selling it very catch as catch can - loving making it. But there is an unweildy amoumnt of jewelry now and money is always good - so people have been suggesting I try selling on eBay. The prospect was daunting until, last weekend Ruth offered to start photographing pieces and to help me frame an eBay listing. Once she started so generously taking pictures I started writing product descriptions as fast as I could to get an auction up. We have seventy items up and my new compulsion is checking to see when I get bids or watchers. People are looking at my jewelry and a couple have bid, so it's a start. I feel encouraged about this marketing possibility.

Valentines - I made them with KK and Danny Sunday afternoon for their classes. They both worked hard on handmade Valentines. I was impressed by how much both have grown up since last year. Dany can write his friends' names now and has the patience to do it twice - on card and envelope. KK makes beautiful cards and understands how to balance her high standards with a need to finish in a reasonable period of time. I was surprised by how much both kids had a sense of what sorts of paper and color were appropriate for boys and girls. I wouldn't have thought it would matter so much with valentines. (Also on a valentines note I am one fortunate mother-in -law. Both sons-in-law made a valentines fuss over me, a gorgeous pashima scarf from an nonprofit helping Afbhani women and children from Chris and an abundance of rich red roses from James. There are so many mother-in-law jokes. Being loved and remembered by these two young men really touches me. And of course there's Bob, my real Valentine, who brought me pots of red tulips and whose love I am thankful for every day.

Olympics - hard to believe I was at the Winter Olympics four years ago (thank you again Joanna, a trip to remember indeed!) Torino Opening ceremonies pleased me with the pomp and circumstances, the international peace emphasis and the Itallian flavor. I loved seeing Venus born out of her seashell with Aura and Zepher on high . Only the Ferrari really missed for me. I don't have the aesthetic to see such a pared down machine as beautiful . I loved the women of distinction from every continent carrying in the Olympic Flag - all in white. Sophia Loren is still absolutely beautiful at 71. I remember stories of how she suffered in Italy during WOrld war II, interesting to see her back home in splendor at an Olympic game. And I liked seeing the author Isabel Allende - not just her magnificent words. The women were activists, performers, athletes, artists - and seeing them all together pleased me. Fire worked as it always works , rings of fire and glowing torch, the Olympic torch passed on in style. May we all do as well passing on our personal torches. I'm not caught in any specific Olympic event, but in the spirit of the games, as always.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Tonight I had one of those startling experiences of seeing myself as the world sees me. I didn't like it. I made my bank deposit after work and hurried to the bus stop, running the last thirty yards or so because I saw the bus approaching, didn't want to miss it, and was in a playful, energetic mood. I deposited my fare and smiled at the bus driver. I was surprised when, with warmth in her voice and eyes told me, the driver said to me, "I don't like to see you running you could fall." "But I'm not old enough to worry about that." I protested automatically. She persisted. "It's dark and the sidewalk's not even and a fall can be serious." I thanked her for her concern, which seemed genuine - but I just don't think about myself as someone who shouldn't run to catch a bus - or someone for whom a fall could be serious. Denial? I don't know.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I feel sad and confused tonight. Bob talks about the kids he's teaching - fifth graders, and one of the main themes is selfishness and rudeness. Kids mock Bob and each other - say cruel things, "have to be watched like a hawk" or they steal things from each other or destroy books and pencils. They are unwilling to put up with the boredome of sitting quietly and reading while other kids finish tests. They have to have fun all the time. Being bored, ever, is not acceptable. They don't seem to be reversing roles, exercising empathy very much at all. I know theat many of these kids have tough stories and I know they are young enough that they still need to be taught right from wrong - but the tone just seems off and it scares me to be living in a world in which such selfishness is considered a necessary evil in fifth graders. I see it in other places too - especially with drivers. People in cars don't meet my eyes and smile as often as they used to when I come to an intersection on foot. Generally now, if I meet a driver's eyes, he or she just goes through the intersection. I think I remember a time, not too many years ago when there was more interplay, more connection, whoever actually went first. I want a gentler world. I'm willing to take the time to be gentler with others, to listen and watch and care. Sometimes it seems like the willingness is not reciprocal.

Monday, February 06, 2006

I've had a truly quiet day after a busy work week and weekend. I think I needed it more than I realised. I've been alone all day and haven't done much - no grandkids visits because Danny woke with fever this morning. I've slept late and read email and haven't really done much - maybe will at least write a real letter later or do a scrap book page or something before going to bed. Taking a day completely off is rare for me lately. I've picked up the pace at work and have been keeping all three grandkids most weekends so Joanna can work. Until recently I kept a kind of modified shabat and that was probably physically and mentally healthy. Today has been that kind of day and this one just kind of happened -probably a good thing. I think its been a mistake to let myself get caught up in such a busy life, responding to whatever seems to need doing or startin something I want to do -always DOING.

That said, the weekend, though busy was fun and satisfying. Bob and I took all three grandkids to a favorite state owned cave - Longhorn Caverns - yesterday and everybody enjoyed both the road trip (about an hour and a half throught the wintry hill country each way) and the cave and woods exploration part of the adventure. Wintry in Texas means you wear a sweater or jacket and the crass has no color and the trees look like "a bunch or sticks" (KK's words). We were impressed that Zachary at three understood and followed the instructions about not touching the cave, and touched that he asked before entering if this cave had monsters.

Ruth and Chris spent the weekend at our house - in and out - reparing for a wedding shower for Chris' sister. Having them visit is always fun and I did lots of cooking both for them and the kids and for Bob to take back for his week. Also, he was making lots of games for his fifth gaders - which meant cutting out stacks of cards. That's a job I don't like much - and to my great pleasure, KK does. So Saturday night after the boys went to bed she and Bob cut out cards for a learning game about inherited vs. noninherited traits and sang along with a sentimental favorte CD of lullabies while I cooked up stew and chili. A sense of well-being descended over all of us, About as good as it gets!

Bob and I went to a late showing of Broke Back MountainSaturday night while Ruth and Chris stayed with the sleeping children. I had a mixed reaction to the film. It was beautifully shot in breath-taking country and I cared about the characters and the social issue addressed - but I was frustrated that nobody triumphed - that essentially "the bad guys won." Ruth says that it would have been more powerful as a social cause movie, rather than a failed love story, because it could have better shown the destructive power of homophobia if it had been more like The Laramie Project. I don't think it would have been less powerful for me if the issues had been presented strongly and the protagonists had then managed to triumph in some way - even if there had been a sad ending after the triumph. I know, I really am an idealist - apparently incurable and not desiring a cure.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Change is the one constant in life I know - but in the larger world this period seems to be one of greater than usual changes. Some kind of seismic shift is occuring. In Joanna's words "a changing of the guard". The generation that fought World War II is dying off. The concentration camps and the dropping of the atom bomb are history. The Viet Nam veterans are gray haired now. Greenspan just announced his retirement and Sandra Day O'Conor is leaving the Supreme Court soom. There have been so many deaths people whose names were icons, household words (whether you liked and aproved of them or not) Arafat is dead and Sharon is incapacitated by stroke. We've buried Reagan and the Pope, Rosa Parks, and, just this week are burying Corretta Scott King. I remember her as the handsome young civil right's leader's pretty pregnant wife. But its more than the individual deaths. The baton is being passed and I'm not quite sure to whom or where they will take it, or what my role is int his period of passage. I feel shaky - on shaky ground - and I hope the next generation does better than mine did with its power.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sunday night - I'm tired and disquieted by violence in the world. What will happen in Palestine with Hamas in office? What should happen? Why did Ariel Sharron fall ill just when he was beginning to act in thel interests of peace. What were local vandals thinking when they scribbled antin-Jewish slogans on the walls of a mosque? Do they not know the difference between mosque and synagogue, or is hate for anyone different so indiscriminate that there really is no difference in their eyes? Bob reports kids in his class stealing readily - some being trained to shoplift by their parents - and the gap between rich and poor gets bigger. How can we keep turning our heads? What can we do differently? Seven kids from one family are killed in a car wreck (not the driver's fault) and public scrutiny focuses on the fact that the driver was fifteen and usning her learner's permit illegally. Why do we hang onto the belief that we can keep oursleves safe by pointing the finger - blaming victims for their misfortunes?

And in the midst of all my questions and concerns - Bob and I have learned that we enjoy playing Scrabble. KK receied an award at school on Friday for always doing her personal best - something very true of her. The sky this afternoon was robin's egg blue - not the milk glass blue of winter sky, but hinting at spring. The sunset the last two nights has been intensely appricot - flaming, exploding apricot.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Disturbing scene tonight at Subway. On the way to pick KK up at ballet class I went in to get sandwiches for Joanna and the kids, meatballs for myself while Joanna waited in the car with the boys.I walked straight into the restaurant, rehearsing the order in my head. The young taking orders was distracted. "I've already called the cops on him." he said "Customers have been complaining all day. When I tried to talk to him about moving on he just started cussing at me." I looked out the glass door then and saw him - apparently homeless man, bearded, sitting on duffles in front of the shop. A young woman had offered to get him a bag of chips and he's said that wasn't enough. He wanted a meatball sub. She said she couldn't even afford a meatball sub for herself, just a bowl of soup. The young man behind the counter kept repeating that he hated having to call the cops, that he had always been good at settling disagreements, especially with his sisters. How young was he really I wondered - probably not much past twenty. The life of the man on the sidewalk probably cpompletely explodes his perceptions of the possible - mine too if I'm honest. I wanted to run and hide. I wanted to buy the guy a meatball sub and urried slip him a ten besides. Instead I averted my eyes and hurried to the car with dinner, relieved to be leaving before the cops arrived. Cowardly me. My circumstances alow me to avert my eyes from so much. And sometimes I do.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Quiet Monday - odd and precious addition of having a couple of hours during KK's ballet class to help Danny with his homework. He had so much! But he worked diligently, reading aloud, drawing farm animals and their associated products, coming up with words containing "oi" and "oy", and practicing mixed addition and subtraction and "ar" sounds. There is so much to learn when you are seven! I remember sometimes how confusing it was to be a kid - so many ideas and rules and things grownups thought were important. Reading came easily to me, but I remember getting caught by little stuff - like the period at the end of a sentence and the decimal point looking the same. I cries so many tears over that one thing, util my Daddy finally figured out what was confusing me and taught me one symbol could have two meanings. Working with Danny tonight I wondered if he had any similar confusions. Nothing surfaced. He definitely knows the difference between adding and taking away and can show me with objects how both processes work. Watching young learners leaves me in awe of how much each of us learns in a lifetime.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Yesterday was an odd and full day - many different moments and feelings.

Struggling clients - so much pain when people who started relationships in hope as we all do, get caught in blame and worrying about who is more wrong. So futile! Every moment is so precious. I remind myself tonight that it doesn't matter who is more right, more wrong. Communicating love matters.

Lunch with Bill - discussions of writing (and my NOT writing because story ideas feel elusive - are elusive - these days) There is such comfort and freedom in old friendships -

More old friendships - Dinner was Jean's treat for me and Joanna - a baseball clinic for women at UT, complete with Mexican dinner and speeches by coaches, and players. Keith Moreland hosted, so charming. Odd that Jean and he and I all have history being UT students around the same time. We should still be young. Ruth writes in her photojournal about not feeling "like a grown up" and I don't feel "older". I did have a great time and actually won an amazing prize in the raffle - a National League baseball signed by Rookie of the Year Huston Street, son of the quarterback of the National Championship Longhorn football team from my fresman year in 1969, and my all time favorite Texas baseball player.

After dinner downer- I realized how critical I can be when we went to pick up the kids at Kid's Space and KK had forgotten to do her homework, Danny had misplaced his glasses, and Zachary was just walking around being three. I was so frustrated with them all and made a bad situation worse, got us all to the point of tears or beyond. I spent time afterward reflecting on my values - and I realised that I forget to be kind and am definitely not competent when I am trying to instill values of koindess and competence in the kids. And I also forget how much criticism hurts when you are little - how hard it is to get everything right. I need to remember to value their happiness and trust that they will learn all they need to learn.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I'm reading Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker's Creek again and loving the richness of the language and the emphasis on mindfulness and the complexities of nature and spirit. "Beauty" she writes " itself is the language to which we have no key." I love that. And her focus on the seasons and the trees.
This morning at the park north wind whipped at Zachary and me. My head was in the book, remembering the legend about Portuguese mares who turned tail to the wind and became pregnant with steeds of the wind - the fastest and most beautiful of white horses, who could not live more than three years. Zachary only knew that the wind made his ears cold. I blew on his ears, cupped them in my hands, but he still was cold, so we went back to the house and cuddled up in bed where I read him Eric Carle's "Mr. Seahorse". It was fun to share delight at the beautiful illustrations.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Back home, the moon rose yellow as new corn. I feel refreshed from our getaway - peaceful. On a nature trail this morning I learned what a sweet gum tree's seed pod looks like and how to distinguish black jack oak from post oak by examining the lobes of the leaves. Tonight over dinner Bob asked me what ten organizations I believe make the most difference in the betterment of the world. I couldn't give clear answers, but I love the question - love the man - love being loved by the man I love.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Cozy afternoon. Bob and I have escaped ordinary time and are all snuggled up in a condo in the pine woods of northeast Texas. I am thrilled with this Silver Leaf resort - Holly Lake Ranch near Big Sandy ( should have known it would be incredible since Ruth picked it.) We have a fireplace and a giant tub, and I am really impressed by the management and amenities - a food treat basket in the kitchen and a bath treat basket by the tub, an activity center run by friendly women and well stocked with games and books - a tiny theater showing G and PG movies in the afternoons, playground, minigolf, volleyball, ping pong, shuffle board - even archery. This would be a wonderful place to hang out with grandkids, and maybe we will do that some other time. Right now Bob and I have been so busy we just want to BE - out of context, no pressure. We'll explore Caddo Lake State Park at some point this long weekend. Tonight we may check out a Scrabble game. Bob told me when we were looking at games that he suspects he is better at Scrabble than I am even because I know words well because he is better able to figure out how to make letters work for maximum points. I'm not so sure. I don't want to be competitive - I mean, we're a team and it really doesn't matter who is better at Scrabble or anything else - however, I have long standing pride about my competence at word games. I think I want to gove Srabble with my husband a try (odd that in all our marriage we haven't played Scrabble together.)

Friday, January 13, 2006

The moon is full again - wolf moon - the first full moon since midwinter. It shines big and silver over the street, bright through clear cold air, surrounded by stars. It feels right that the wolf moon and Martin Luther King's birthday fall close together. In Native American traditions wolf is the totem of the teacher - the person who is loyal to his own community but goes beyond that community to learn new ways which he then brings back into the community for its betterment. The wolf never forgets his roots, but dreams beyond the restrictions of old ways and leads others out of the bondage of these restrictions. I can think of no better description of Dr. King.

I had an odd realization today - checked out at dinner in a conversation with Joanna (daughter) and KK (granddaughter). To both of them Dr. King is part of history - like FDR, Abraham Lincoln and the founding fathers. To me Dr.King is contemporary - a part of my personal past, discovered in his prime,remembered, not learned about from books. The Civil Rights Movement, The War in Viet Nam, the Kennedy and King assassinations are to me as World War II, the discovery of the concentration camps, and the death of FDR are to my parents' generation. When I was ten there were still a few people living who remembered the Civil War, the veterans of World War I were in their sixites and the veterans of Worls War II were in the prime of their lives. The bus station in Houston still had two waiting rooms, one for whites and a much smaller, less well appointed one for "coloreds". I remember sneaking a look through the door into the other waiting room - feeling naughty and confused. I didn't understand the significance of the two waiting rooms or the presence in restaurants of signs that said "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone." I remember feeling proud of being able to read the words in those signs, and puzzled about their purpose. I had no idea how wrong they were.

Generational perspective is intriguing. I've thought about generational values differences but not so much about the issue of one generation's current events being the next generation's history. Duh! It seems obvious, but I hadn't really thought about it.