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.