What a weekend! I think the holiday season (as opposed to the past Jewish Holy Day season) just started. The holy day season was reflective. This newly opening holiday season is busy, full of events already. Bob and I had an interesting conversation in the car yesterday. He said that an outsider could look at American Halloween as a celebration of junk food and American Christmas as a celebration of materialism. Of course with Christmas the spiritual significance is obvious and many people make successful efforts to focus on that. But on one level Bob is accurate and that's really depressing, especially since I love Halloween. For me Halloween is a celebration of the turn of seasons, the shortening of days, the change of the light, everything turning orange and ripening, even dying, passing. That is part of the cycle after all. It's also a holiday about playing publicly, getting in costume, being someone or something else, walking in the twilight in the cool, in the dark, between.
The holy day associated with Halloween is the next day, All Soul's Day, the Day of the Dead in the Latin cultures. I loved the All Soul's Day mass as I've experienced it in Catholic and Episcopal churches, though it is not a Jewish observance. It is a meaningful one to me. I wrote a poem last week about the way I feel about the spiritual sense of this time of year.
Dreamer in me believes
as sun angles shift down
and air cools, spirits of
the beloved dead linger
closer to earth, shadows
through the veil, familiar.
but back to the earthly celebrations starting up, Saturday the neighborhood association in Joanna's neighborhood held its annual Hairy Man Festival in the park across the street from Joanna's house, and Bob and I and the kids attended. For an introvert who isn't great in crowds, I had fun doling out tickets and watching the grand kids meet friends from school and delight in petting alpacas and llamas, climbing inflated structures, and just enjoying being out in their community.
Saturday, also was the first day I really got to spend time in KK's dance world at the new, very impressive, Ballet Austin facility . If you want to know more about the company academy and facility check out http://www.enewsbuilder.net/grtraustinchamber/e_article000807313.cfm?x=b11,0,w For more about The Nut Cracker and Austin's version of it look athttp://www.balletaustin.org/documents/nutcracker_footnotes.pdf. but for me the coolest thing wasn't just the beautiful new openly designed building full, light air, and dancers and musicians of different levels busily perfecting their crafts. The coolest thing was that this is KK's home base. I went up the spiral staircase, clearly for the first time, gaping all around and a member of the company asked me who I was looking for. "An eleven year old redhead..." I started "Oh, KK, she answered with a grin - third door to the right. She's in tap."
And she was. This is the first year she's been in the open classes with dancers of all ages and she is so in her element, so happy, not even obviously tired after a day of four classes and a rehearsal with some Hairy Man festival in between. Her tap teacher, a young man she especially likes and admires, caught me ont he stairs and told me that KK is a delightful person and a joy as a student, but that there is clearly something exciting going on with her development as a dancer. She feels it. She's flying, that one.
And then there's St. Austin's Catholic Church, an odd place to have become such a station of hope and learning for this nontraditional Jewish girl. But that church is so alive with a real desire to help people grow spiritually and use that growth in service. Yesterday while the kids were in their classes, I started the adult Sunday School program, a little timidly. It was superb - about poverty in the US and our appropriate response. The name of the curriculum is something like "All Our Neighbors" The statistics are that one in nine Americans and one in six children are officially poor. Yesterday we watched a documentary about three working poor families - their circumstances and feelings. The film and discussion really pointed out the increasing bimodalism in our economy and the need for some kind of nationalized health care - things I knew about already but which were humanized by the film. I was also touched to be sitting with about thirty other adults of various ages, seriously thinking about, full of questions and ideas about, issues of poverty in our world.
Yesterday evening was hard. I had known KK had lots of homework, which she did during the afternoon and that Danny had some, which he did before supper, but at just as Bob was trying to leave around six, I looked in Zachary's backpack and he had a big stack of unfinished work from the week. He apparently had let the difficulty of cutting and coloring get to him as a kindergartner who hadn't gone to preschool, and hadn't done what he needed to do. I was angry and felt overwhelmed. Zachary also felt angry and overwhelmed. Within half an hour though, Zachary, Danny, KK and I were sitting at the kitchen table with all Zachary's oddly assorted work spread out, and the four of us made sense of it and with some help, Zachary did it. He is beginning to get the hang of scissors, which has got to help, and is coloring better and more willing to take direction about planning how to color something. I think he was as proud as he (and I ) were both relieved when we packed his pack full of finished work at the end. The last thing he said before going to sleep was "I'll do my best all week at school." and I really think he will.
I enjoyed doing ordinary things with Bob this weekend - grocery shopping and taking the kids back and forth. I don't miss having that during the week. I'm used to life being like it is and I'm so happy Bob is finding work that is good for hi at Menger. Sometimes I do wonder how it would be if we could live together like most couples. Its hard on him to have to drive back and forth weekends. Next weekend he will stay in Corpus and take another group of kids to the aquarium, which is probably good.