Friday, November 30, 2007

When I checked phone messages late last night after arriving home late from work and before going to bed, I found a message that Sophie, one of the most important family members during my childhood and early married years, died Wednesday. Her death was not expected, though she was in her nineties and in failing health. I feel sad about Sophie for so many reasons. We were very close for decades - she a major support to me in my teens and twenties when my mother was sometimes critical. As she aged and travel became harder for her - as she became less able to hear me on the phone, our communications became less frequent, and I wish I had made that different somehow. Thinking about Sophie I realize that, though I try to act like it doesn't matter, my inability to drive has been a detriment to connection. I would have just driven up to Waco to see her often if I could have just driven up to Waco - harder to ask someone to drive, to plan, to orchestrate trips. I wish Sophie and I had stayed closer longer.

But I also deeply value the closeness we had. She was one who always listened, seemed to care about the details of my life as a girl, remembered details. She taught me to play solitaire and played hours of dominoes for hours with me and Uncle Rudy and Grandpa Rudolf. She and my mother were raised as sisters - just two years apart in age. Sophie's mother died young and her father ran off to St. Louis, leaving Sophie and her older brother Noel to be raised by family - mostly my mother's parents. My other's Protestant parents promised Sophie's Catholic other that they would raise the children Catholic, and they did, taking them to mass each Sunday.Like my mother, Sophie spoke Czech before English and had to suffer through first days of school in a foreign language. She was the one my mother cried for when her turn came to be a new first grader with no English, and the one whose comfort helped.

All through my childhood Sophie and my mother laughed in the kitchen like sisters until, finally, one had to make a quick dash to the bathroom. They joked in Czech and English, sometimes shifting language rapidly. Sometimes they argued like sisters. I know they loved each other like sisters.

Sophie had polio when she was two and was left with a limp. I know that, during The Great Depression, when money was of course tight, the family found a way to send Sophie to St. Louis for surgery on her leg - surgery that allowed her to walk without a brace. There was not money for someone to go with her, so she went on the train alone - maybe nine years old - and was greeted and cared for by a family someone knew in St. Louis, then sent back, recovered, alone on the train. All through my experience with her, Sophie's attitude about her physical circumstances was cheerful. This positive determination of hers may have been my model for my attitude about my visual difficulties - you don't let things like that take up any more space than necessary. No unnecessary losses. I think I learned that part of my personal code of conduct at least in part from Sophie.

Joanna took me out to supper tonight and we talked about Sophie and other family members who have died - about times as they were. I haven't cried yet. Tears seem to come on their own terms with me - not on schedule. I thought writing would loose them, but not this time.

I'm waiting eagerly and a little anxiously for Bob to get here . Its way to late - he got a late start from Corpus and has misplaced his cell phone, so I can't check on hi I'm sure he's safe, but its a drizzly night and I know he's tired and just want him here already!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Brain dead tonight, tired after three busy work days - happy walking home from the bus this evening to see Christmas tree lights behind curtains - I love that sight, that flicker. Outside decorations are going up too and the sparkle pleases me, but its hte trees behind the curtains that seem sweetly mysterious.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thunder in winter scares me. I don't know why. Saturday night we had thunder near freezing in the hours past midnight, lightning in the cold sky. I woke and felt I needed to stay awake, watching it, to keep us safe. That makes no sense at all. It wasn't a threatening storm, just thunder and lightening in winter. I identified, sitting up alone with my nose pressed to cold glass, shuddering each time the sky shuddered, with people from less scientific times who are reputed to have wondered if the sun would come back each cycle of seasons.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I've been taking the kids to mass for more than a year now (because their parents work Sunday mornings and can't and can't and raising them solidly Catholic is a priority for Joanna) I love St.Austin's Church - the choir, the atmosphere of welcome, the location near campus, the sense of social justice and worship working together. I am impressed particularly by Father Bob Scott - a priest in his late eighties who has worked most of his life on college campuses and speaks of his God and his Church with great passion and love. He donducted the mass yesterday, the Catholic Festival of Christ the King, and he was so caught in the beauty and power of it that he was singing with the choir in the final procession - Later out on the sidewalk I saw him blessing a saint for the hoe of a young couple, standing out on the sidewalk on a cold rainy morning after a long mass chatting, blessing. I lved all of that.

And I'm Jewish and this isn't my church or my world. I can half forget that most of the time when they're talking about social justice - but Christ the King? That's pretty specific.

I watched Jean's father take Communion yesterday. This man is near the top of my list of people I respect - a World War Two Veteran, wise, gentle, a man who has always been quiet about remarkable athletic and, I think, intellectual competencies. l Yesterday was maybe the fifth time during the almost forty years that I've known this lifetime Catholic take Communion. Every time I've watched him participate in the central action of his religion I've cried because the mindfulness and holiness in his participation is so beautiful.

I seem to have a habit of getting myself into situations like this - where I am immersed in the beauty of something but don't completely own it as mine - It's not even that hard any more - just odd. Maybe I should stop thinking its odd and just realise it is true of me. I am drawn to worship and people of faith and tradition, and don't see to be able to solidly stick in a single tradition.
OK - to start to fill in last night's list - Dogs. When Bob and I married he had a beautiful and beloved Golden Retriever companion named Poppy. I will always be thankful to that dog for having been Bob's hiking companion and solace during some lonely years. Poppy was not too happy about her man taking on three other females, but she put up with us and learned to live on our turf. As the girls grew up, each got to an age where she wanted a dog of her own and they did get puppies. Poppy never took to the girls; pups- Pirette, the beautiful if not bright Samoyed Pup Joanna had for a short time before the dog was stolen, Gwen, Ruth's Scottie who is now dead almost three years and Lilly, Joanna's sweet big Shepard mix.

Now Bob has Lobo, five year old Sheltie, as his canine companion and Lilly is the arthritic but elegant old lady of dogdom in our family. Last summer KK, at eleven, reached that point where she wanted a puppy more than anything in the world - and she saved her money and got Sammi, a black Australian cow dog mix. Now KK is working with the reality of responsibility for and to a very lively and sweet pup. Lilly doesn't much like KK's athletic, playful Sammi, but is learning to tolerate her as Sammi is learning some manners.

Mostly I'm writing about the dogs because, with their lifetimes shorter than ours, they show us the generations passing. I have pictures of Poppy as a puppy, even though I didn't know her then and remember holding tiny Gwen and Lilly in my lap - soft pups. Lobo too - bringing him back from San Antonio in a towel in my lap the weekend before the World Trade Center fell. I think Ruth was in middle school - having probably a thirteenth birthday the weekend Poppy died. This spring she'll be turning twenty seven. I remember - if not clearly in terms of detail, powerfully in terms of emotion, so many moments in the lifetimes of all of these dogs - moments in our human lifetimes too, of course.

So given that Poppy is long dead, Gwen dead, Lilly elderly - and KK clearly growing up - where am I in my own life cycle? Past half I know - but its so odd. I don't feel "older" in some quantifiable way. I sure don't feel close to my end. But I know human generations turn just as canine generations do - just more slowly.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I'm alone in the house, back to quiet normal after a busy vacation/holiday week and a day with a houseful. I like the quiet tonight, haven't started really missing Bob yet, though I know I will soon. This is probably the easiest part of the year to live apart. We've just had a whole week together and he'll be home for two weeks on December 19, which seems soon. After the new year, the period until spring break is a long haul with him being extra busy preparing kids for standardized tests and holidays being few and far between. But right now we will be seeing quite a bit of each other.

I want to write about the dogs in our family - past and present - about taking the kids to mass, The Festival of Christ the King, the venerable priest, Bob Scott who celebrated that festival today, thunder in winter. But All I'm going to do tonight is make the list. I'll fill it in after sleeping.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

This vacation is almost over. Bob drives back to Corpus tomorrow. We have a houseful tonight - sleeping grand kids and Sammi pup (who is becoming much better behaved lately) Its cold out - rained all day, just a few degrees above ice. I'm washing and precooking and doing all the things I normally do on weekends - even got a good writing spell in while Bob took the kids to the Children's Museum. We had a great family supper and watched the excellent movie Duma, about a boy, a cheetah, wildness, connection, loss and other important things. Its been a great vacation and I even have a good mindset about going back to work - am eager to reconnect with any of my clients. Somehow though, my mood is just off tonight- a little disconnected when I wish most to be able to connect to Bob. I'm not sure what I'm doing - distancing before he actually leaves would be pretty dumb. Better to go put my head in his lap than sit here writing.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving was pretty perfect and the day after has been quiet, restful. I thought I would do some real writing but I was distracted by other needs - OK but need/want to get on track. I did make turkey soup, which makes me feel virtuous.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Home - I love our little house, so warm and familiar on a cold night after five sweet travel days. The trip home was uneventful - good conversation, great dinner at a German restaurant in Fredricksburg. Time to go to sleep and wake up for a family Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

November 20, 2007

Today is a transition day, out of the wilderness back into civilization. It seems fitting that, as a transition day, it has been marked by contrasts. This morning when we stopped at a little rural store looking for post card pictures of The Cat Walk, a sad flier on the store door greeted us. A family is looking for their missing son/brother last seen a week ago, distraught and off his meds for bipolar disorder, threatening to drive off into the wilderness to die. I’ve been thinking about him and his family all day – off and on, between magical nature moments. I hope he founded hope somewhere and will go back home.

Bob and I visited Pueblo Creek today, a wilderness area in which native people lived one thousand years ago. There were more people there then than now – a small agricultural community. We walked the hills and creek bed, noticing birds, listening for wolf song (signs told us we were in wolf country but the wolves stayed away) enjoying the total absence of human generated sound. It was like that yesterday by the lake too –and on the catwalk, only water and wind sounds, no cars or planes.

We made a last birding stop on the Gila river, saw mule deer and more sycamore trees flaming orange among the yellow cotton woods. We each selected a river rock as a memento of this trip. Mine is pale pink and shaped like an owl – Bob’s strong and solidly red. We left the river by sunset and moonrise - having a long intricate conversation about what it means to be a good listener (I love my husband so much – apparently the typical American male wouldn’t intelligently talk with his wife for three hours about what it means to be a good listener)

Dark fell, we got back into cell phone range, and I decided to be responsible and checked office messages – quite a number to deal with, but everyone safe. While I was in the midst of trying to write down phone numbers to call people back, we drove up to a little gas store. Just as we got out of the car there was a terrible noise from the highway – metal on metal, no shattering glass. It was a roll over accident, and others on the scene moved quickly to call 911 and offer aid. By the time we drove by no victims were left at the scene. It shook me though that horrible risk lurked so close to my happy vacation, and worries me a little that I didn’t instantly figure out what was going on and run to the scene as some others did. Bob raised the question of whether the police even want people to approach accidents before they arrive – perhaps we should not risk doing something wrong and hurting someone worse or getting hurt ourselves. We’ve decided to ask a police officer about this soon.

We’re in Deming now (and I’m THRILLED to have clean hair and be off the scary nighttime highway). We are at one of our favorite old-fashioned motels, one where I set a scene in Green Up. Tomorrow, in the daytime, we will drive home in tie to have Thanksgiving with family. Even with the sad moments today, this tradition of the Thanksgiving birding road trip with Bob is one I cherish even more than last year. I hope we continue it.

To check out Bob’s wonderful pictures of our trip go to:
November 19, 2007

We are tucked in for our last night in our little Gila hideaway watching Vince Young try to pull off another comeback on Monday Night Football.. It’s fun watching Bob watch football. He gets so excited, especially when he cares about a player as most of Austin (probably Texas) cares about Vince Young. It’s also very odd for me, who doesn’t watch much TV, to watch all the ads for cars and phones, high on gimmicks and speed and humor I don’t get – until all of a sudden the ad is from UNICEF, talking about efforts to keep kids from all over the world from dying of AIDS. And then I notice that the football player and coaches in the ads are often making gentle fun of their own egos – for instance saying that reading the playbook to the kids always puts them to sleep – perfect bedtime story. I am aware one more time how much I am a twentieth century person in a new century and really don’t get the layers of too much of what’s going on.

Some things, like the beauty of a bald eagle flying over a mountain lake, haven’t changed a bit. Today we drove to Quemado Lake where, within three minutes of our arrival at the lake, Bob was greeted by both a bald eagle and a red tailed hawk. On this mild crystalline mountain afternoon we hiked around the little lake and up into the wilderness. From the overlook point above the wooded hills, we watched our eagle fish the lake, accompanied by a second bald eagle, a juvenile. It is so good for us to be out in the clean air, this time scented of pinon pine, to have unscheduled time to just be together and talk about trivial and important matters, relaxed.
November 18

Today has been one of those magical days – beyond any expectation. Bob and I hiked the Cat Walk trail in the Gila Wilderness and it (especially on this perfectly crisp fall day) is one of the most magnificent trails we’ve every hiked. Everywhere we looked was beauty. Most immediately striking was blazing golden sycamores with trunks I couldn’t get my arms around and white branches snaking against a backdrop of pink cliff and azure sky. The cliffs themselves were dramatic, layered by ancient volcanic action – pink, black, gray – gorgeous. The White Water River rushed through its canyon tumbling in classic falls. As we sit tonight in our comfortable room Bob is editing the glorious pictures he took all up and down the trail. He almost didn’t take his camera. I’m so glad he did. Not only are the pictures beautiful and great at communicating our experience, but also it pleases me to see Bob delighting in catching beauty with his camera.
November 17, 2007

Continental breakfast at the motel nearest Bosque DelApache Wildlife Refuge brought an encounter with Marianne, a recently retired kindergarten teacher fro New Hampshire who had just seen her first sand hill cranes. When I asked her about New Hampshire wildlife experiences she told me that her special interest is moose photography – that she goes out early in the mornings to places where she knows the moose will come and waits to take their pictures. She said she had come, over the last several years, to feel that she knows several moose a bit, and that they have become familiar with her. And yes, she does know Fred Small’s song “If You Were a Moose and I was a Cow” and even had the good grace not to make a face when I asked her if she knew the song. I realized later that she probably gets asked that question a lot.

The first bird I saw at the refuge was a road runner (always a bird that brings fond memories of Ruth’s childhood because she liked road runners). The last birds we saw were several thousand snow geese swirling noisily up into the sky from their pond – perhaps frightened by the bald eagle we had seen earlier. Most unusual sighting was of an aplamado falcon, beautiful bird that was once almost extinct in the United States. Reintroduction has been successful enough that this individual wandered unbidden into the Bosque, a very good sign and a delight to birders. The sand hill cranes are still the centerpiece of the refuge, stately and numerous – flying, walking, standing about in family groups of three.

Bob and I were both impressed by the human migrants to the Festival of Cranes – wildlife artists whose work captured the eye and the imagination and activists for many environmental causes. They came with an impressive number of rescued raptors we could see up close, a white wolf, post cards to write to Senators, information about global warming and wolf reintroduction, photographs of canyons and sky, silk scarves, glowing oil paintings, sculptures and statues of owl, wolf – so much work of many kinds in tribute to the glories of nature.

As we drove the windy road to the Lariat Inn in the tiny town of Glenwood at the edge of the Gila wilderness, the elk standing beside the road made it very clear that the “Elk Crossing” signs were for real. We were very happy to arrive at our cozy room – stone and wood – very simple, with a comfortable bed.. My only complaint is the lack of a bath tub or adequate hot water. Those lacks are more than compensated for by the presence of a long eared owl just outside who classically inquiers “Who?”
November 16, 2007

Bob and I did a good job of getting started on our trip calmly even though he was late getting in last night after a frantic afternoon facilitating a fourth grade fundraiser. I had been nervous about being completely responsible for trip groceries but ended up having fun making homemade Chex mix, baking brownies, and picking out trail mixes and salads at Central Market. Bob and I even got our flu shots at the Minit Clinic on our way out of town. That’s a bigger deal that it sounds because I have been feeling guilty about failing to make the phone call necessary to schedule a flu shot through our pharmacy.

Driving through west Texas was as much of a treat for me as it always is – something clean and big about the sky and land joining, especially on clear days in winter. Our old car still drives like a new car (and yes I am knocking on my wooden head) and with speed limits at 80 on the Interstate for daytime driving now, a long driving day didn’t seem long. We had supper in El Paso around sunset, choosing a local Mexican place full of locals – a place where English was spoken but Spanish was dominant and the mariachi band was setting up its sound system for a later show as we ate. I enjoyed watching a large extended family at a nearby table. There were six children, cousins I’d bet, and they surprised e by ordering cold tomato soup (gazpacho) on a cool evening. Our food was plentiful and tasty, and I enjoyed feeling a little exotic, visiting a city and world on the very edge of Mexico. The armed border guards at several checkpoints and the smoke from trash fires on the Mexican side of the border gave a slightly darker cast to the border.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I'm excitedly putting the finishing touches on our leaving for our trip preparations - not much left to do except wait for Bob to arrive and hope for a good night's sleep. I am between , having carefully closed up the office but unable to yey load the car since it isn't here yet. Between is an odd place. Could check the details again - could take a bath or a nap - hard to know what I actually will do.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I don't feel full of words tonight - good work week - I am steadily preparing for our road trip - Chex Mix made from scratch, brownies in the oven, six changes of underwear and socks counted into the suitcase, pet food stored away for the friend who will feed dog and cat in our absence, Thanksgiving shopping and cooking squared away with Joanna (She's doing it. I'm not.) I'm excited about going away with Bob and excited about going into nature. I've been dreaming for weeks now, almost nightly, about the sand hill cranes. But I think I'd still be excited about going away with Bob if we were just going to sit in a boring room somewhere and eat bland food for five days - I really miss that man.

A friend shared a poem with me today - a poem based on a poem. You probably already know Emily Dickinson's poem about hope but if you need a reminder here it is:

Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul,
and sings the tune
without words,
and never stops at all.

Emily Dickinson

The newer poem, which I hadn't read before, catches so well what I feel when I say things like "Love is stronger than loss." and "Life force comes back if you let it."

The Thing With Feathers

Chris Bursk

It's the first thing you hear in the morning,
the last you hear at night.
In the woods, in the swamps,
in the old steeple, in the ruined eaves,
over the wreckage of a car
your mother drove straight into a wall,
The bird won't stop singing,
It is perched on the rafters of a house that burned to the ground.
Whenever you move, it's one hop
ahead of you. Tireless
as a creek it's a tune that will not allow itself
to be forgotten. It keeps building
and leaving its nest, all chatter, all expectation,
water singing to itself
in the shadows as well as the sunlight,
That insufferable Optimist.
No matter how many doors you slam,
curses you shout, rocks you throw,
it pops up louder than ever
on this very branch of the very tree outside your house
-as if stones must be your way of applauding.
It was singing the morning you got fired
the day you brought grief to the person
you most wanted to protect.
the evening when the great cause you'd pledged yourself to
failed. It sang
while your father was writing his suicide note,
the night your dear friend told you he was HIV positive,
the night you could find nothing remaining
to believe in, when all you wanted
was to be left alone. It sings in places so dark
you can't see into them.
It is singing out there now.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans Day - a day to honor all veterans. I especially think of Bob's Dad, who served in three wars. (Thank you Dubby) I think of a young father of two I know who is on his third tour in Iraq. I remember my friend Don who didn't come home from Viet Nam, and my friend Steve, who took decades to feel comfortable being home. I think of so many veterans - and say thank you. I can mouth "War is Hell." but hope I'll never know what I really mean, not at all its levels. All of you, veterans of wars know. I wish you didn't have to know. I hope my grandchildren won't have to know.

Again, thank you, veterans.

To mark this day I post a poem and a quote.

In Flanders Fields

by Major John McCrae
Canadian Officer

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

And, From Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964

"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become reality. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pleasant Sunday so far - homework and companionship with the kids - a brief visit with Ruth and Chris when they came to get KK and take her for a bike ride and canoe expedition. I'm so proud of that kid. She's gotten a week ahead (as much as is possible given that thins will still be assigned) on homework which is good with her busy dance schedule. She works so hard. Zachary is beginning to understand school expectations better and grow into the student world. Danny is the only one who didn't have homework this weekend. He is working on learning his math facts though, so he won't escape his grandma's academic embrace. We'll drill flash cards in a few minutes - then go to the park.

Last night I read a Newberry winner that just blew me away = Out of the Dust,
a journal style novel in poems written in the voice of a musically talented (piano playing) girl from the dust bowl era of Oklahoma. The story is poignant, beautifully captures grief and recovery, as well as a phase of history my parents lived through, but didn't experience as painfully as this character. One of the last poems, about music, moves me and makes sense out of context of the story.


I'm getting to know music again.
And it is getting to know me.
We sniff each other's armpits,
amd behind each other's necks,
We both are confident and a little sassy.

And I know now that all the time I was trying to get
out of the dust,
the fact is,
what I am,
I am because of the dust.
And what I am is good enough,
Even for me.

November 1935
Karen Hesse

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Really great Saturday out and about town with the kids -Farmers' market ripe with fresh pecans, Texas tangerines, local art - fun sandwich shop called which Wich where you personally design each sandwich by marking choices for meats, cheeses, relishes, vegetables on the bag in which the sandwich will come - and afterward you get to draw on the bag and clip your artwork to a display if you want. Danny loved his turkey sandwich and I loved drawing on brown paper, school girl portraits of happy grandsons. The Children's Museum provided its usual high quality exploration activities for all of us. Among other things we simulated different kinds of atoms by putting different objects - bells, pennies, pebbles, beads, puffballs, into balloons and then blowing up the balloons and experiencing the differences between them - made as they were of different elements. When we went back to the dance academy to get KK, we had the privilege of seeing the the first run through of the complete Nutcracker choreography for the Bon Bons. Fun and impressive!

Later this evening I had the delight of helping KK find pictures to place in a personal life cycle project for school - including pictures of her past and present selves (baby, toddler and preteen) - and pictures of Joanna and me for future life stages (young adult, parent, and elder). She has done a beautiful job, and the assignment gave us a chance to look through family pictures - so many sweet pictures of happy times. Its easy to get caught in the struggle of daily life - good to have this focus on our many happy times.

After the life cycle collage, KK was still on a schoolwork roll and completed her D.A.R.E. anti drug education essay. Its really odd how time passes so fast, generation upon generation. It really doesn't seem long since I helped Ruth edit her prize-winning D.A.R.E. essay. Here is KK's:

As a dancer, I care about keeping my body healthy, I think D.A.R.E. is helpful and interesting. I'm glad I learned how much marijuana, tobacco, alcohol and other drugs damage the body and the brain. I think D.A.R.E. will help me say "No." to drugs and violence even when I am a teenager.

Knowing drugs are very bad for my body is enough to keep me from wanting to use them. D.A.R.E. helps me remember the consequences of bad choices. D.A.R.E helps me know when to avoid bad behavior, when to say "No." and when I need to get adult help.

It is important for me to be drug-free and safe from violence because my dream to dance all over the world can't come true if I'm not healthy. I also want a family that loves me and to raise healthy children. If I get involved with drugs and violence, that dream can't come true either.

I pledge that I won't ever try drugs or tobacco and that I will never abuse alcohol.

KK Sullivan-Scott

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Confidentiality regarding work is a pain when I want to blog (sometimes)especially when the main feeling things going on with me on a given day are work related. What I can write tonight is that I feel extremely thankful to have been born with a brain that produces neurotransmitters and other chemicals in appropriate proportions - that I don't hallucinate, am able to learn quickly to do tasks requiring abstract thinking, never risked heavy drinking or drug use, am not living in a violent family or a war torn country. I will have enough to eat tomorrow and won't have to worry about having to kill anyone, or fear that anyone will be trying to kill me.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Happy tonight - after work Joanna made soup and apple cake and I read with the boys. KK is loving, thriving in dance - and has a real affinity for (and reciprocated by) - her male dancer friend Ian. She is so sweetly eleven in her fondness for him - counting hugs. He's fourteen, an awkward age difference - They are beautiful dancing together. We are trying to keep our adult impressions off of this young friendship - not trying to make it into something it isn't. She is just very happy right now, and especially in this friendship. If nothing else, their desire to be together is good for their dancing. They are both asking to go to extra jazz classes to have time together.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Chris turned thirty today - and I was pleased ot be included in the celebration with his family at a Caribeean restaurant - good decade more or less that I've known Chris and come to love him and love the way he loves Ruth, and she him. I wonder what the next decade will bring.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ok, I've been taking the quizes at Blue Pyramid quizes to entertain myself - starting with the book quiz mentioned earlier, and am blown away by the country quiz results. Its silly that a few questions could nail a personality wo well. Those of you who know me - I'm idealistic and always trying to please everybody and get everybody to be at peace with everybody else, right? So here is my result. I think I should just go to bed!

"You're the United Nations!Most people think you're ineffective, but you are trying to completely save the world from itself, so there's always going to be a long way to go. You're always the one trying to get friends to talk to each other, enemies to talk to each other, anyone who can to just talk instead of beating each other about the head and torso. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, and you get very schizophrenic as a result. But your heart is in the right place, and sometimes also in New York."
On Friday afternoon I participated in a memorial tree planting at the park where Joanna and James got married. A client of mine whose husband died last February was planting a tree at the park to commemorate his birthday. The ceremony, conducted by members of their Unitarian Universalist community, was sweet and tender - informal, gave the young sons a chance to participate in adding earth and scattering flowers and rosemary for remembrance.

Yesterday the Catholic church had family Sunday school again, this time about family faith tradition, with emphasis on remembering our beloved dead. We brought pictures of those we have lost and talked about them. In addition there was a focus on remembrance and faith. We were directed to talk about whom in the family first helped us feel close to God. I was touched by being part of this process for these children.

It doesn't escape me that the service I was "too busy" seeing an emergency client to attend was my own Jewish Friday night service, which Ruth and Chris say I would have loved. Got to think about that and my time use and choices.

Our weekend was more relaxed than most recent weekends. Bob and I had most of Saturday to ourselves because Joanna wasn't working and kept the boys. We took KK out to breakfast at her favorite deli where she collected a hug from the owner, and delivered her to and from a day of dance class and Nut Cracker rehearsal. Mostly though we just enjoyed each other, walked the lake, grocery shopped, hung out. That night we enjoyed an opera concert . No costumes, just one aria sung right after the other. It was done that way because Austin Lyric Opera is awaiting completion of the new performing arts facility and the one they previously used is being renovated - so they had no where to put on an opera, just a concert. so they had no where to put on an opera, just a concert. It was held at River Bend Church, where Bob used to attend - not in the church he remembers but the bigger, newer one. It was fun to, by chance, meet Jean and Mark at the performance.

Yesterday afternoon and evening and all of today have been pleasant and ordinary- laundry and correspondence, helping the kids with homework yesterday wile Bob watched football. Life is sweet here.
Fun quiz for book lovers - Which book are you? To find out one opinion try out the quiz at I haven't read the book that was chosen for me - A Prayer for Owen Meany, but now I think I will. Oddly, I've read the other books which have come up for friends who have taken the quiz, but not my own.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I just got back from a beautiful All Soul's Day mass, at St. Austin's Catholic Church. The choir, in which good friends Jean and Mark both now sing, performed Gabriel Faure's Requiem with orchestral accompaniment. The effect on me was as if heavenly choirs had joined with the human choir. The homily was based on the beatitudes and the conflict in the human spirit between hope and fear. The alter cloth and vestments were white, and the mood tender and contemplative - all very healing for this spirit.

Its so odd about me and religion/spirituality. Other people seem to be able to choose one and believe it and belong to it. For me traditions, prayers and songs of many traditions have power and beauty. Its hard to stick with one, or care which one is being practiced. Spiritual seeking, beautifully orchestrated, moves me deeply, regardless (within reason) of theology.

It was good for me to end the day with a meaningful spiritual experience. It was a hard day of change at the office. I saw Ruth's studio half emptied of her belongings, on its way to becoming Melissa's office. I remember when Chris and Ruth were hopefully moving into the studio, laying floor, making plans. I remember delightful photo shoots there with her. It does seem like it is time for her to move on now - to explore all aspects of her talents, and that studio really is too small and the sounds of photography in one room and therapy in the two adjacent clash, so its good that the room will be rededicated to therapy. And I really believe Melissa is a compassionate and gifted young therapist who will do much good in the space, so all will be well. Change is just hard.
I spent the evening at Joanna's house - really fairly quietly, giving out candy to the very cute trick-or-treaters who came to the door and making an easy pasta supper for our crew. It was a good family Halloween - not stressful trying to go too many places , nobody in a bad mood- reminded me of neighborhood Halloweens when the girls were little and when I was little for that matter. One difference which pleased me was the ethnic diversity in the kids' suburban neighborhood - something I am aware of but which is especially evident on Halloween when the families are out en mass. There are several high tech companies near Joanna's and Ruth's houses which seem to hire from all over the world. I enjoy the different accents and the varied looks of the people.

A highlight of Halloweens for me has been Ruth's pumpkin carving. This year the one she did for me was a gorgeous, intricate spooky bare tree with a bat in the branches and an elaborately scripted "Happy Halloween" above.

An odd aspect of my grand kids trick-or -treating is that Zachary, at five, had enough of it an hour before his brother and sister and asked his Auntie to bring him back to the house where he helped me with food and willingly read to me and worked on a homework project that's due Friday. He didn't seem sick, grumpy, or even exhausted - just said he had enough candy and was ready to go home. Definitely not the stereotype of a five year old boy! I loved the one-on-one time with him.

There are so many interesting variants in celebration and noncelebration of Halloween and other holidays. A friend told me this morning about a dinner party she was attending at which each guest is assigned a role - (both costume and behavior- attitude, etc) by the hostess, and the guests come dressed as their characters and play out their roles throughout the evening. With this group the roles are pretty zany, but the hostess is kind, not pushing people to embarrass themselves. I think, with people I trusted, I could really enjoy a party like that, but can't see myself throwing one.

I'm a little sad Halloween is over. Its a holiday I enjoy with all the color and the costuming element - but I also enjoy the November decorating - got my gourds and Indian corn today and in the morning I will replace the jack-o-lantern banner out front with a cheerful raccoon among fall leaves.