Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Year's Exercise

Columnist Sharon Randall suggests answering the following questions about 2007 before forging onto 2008.

1. What was the hardest thing you had to do?

Balance role demands - work, wife, grandmother, writer, individual with needs

2. What was the most fun?

Holiday gatherings - which was a surprise because that isn't usually so. The very best was moving the furniture out of the way and everybody dancing on Rosh Hoshannah.

3. What were the milestones?

Bob continuing to teach in Corpus. At this point I think that will continue until he retires. Zachary (youngest grand) starting kindergarten, being invited to write a grief article for an anthology.

4. What was your biggest accomplishment?

Some level of balance regarding my multiple roles.

5. What was something you wanted to do but didn't?

Develop healthier eating patterns.

6. What was your biggest surprise?

My daughters' protectiveness and gentleness to me when our family elder Sophie died.

7. What was the meanest thing you did?

Failure to give the benefit of the doubt to various people at various times - feel worst about this with the children. Am improving.

8. What was something you worried about but don't anymore?

Dead tree in the back yard that was a risk to the roof - Friend came over and chopped it down - I'm very grateful.

9. What made you proud?

The way our family works together for our common good.

10. Describe a moment you don't want to forget.

The homework disaster night, when we discovered three days of undone kindergarten homework in Zachary's backpack on a Sunday afternoon and, once I got done being angry, K.K and Danny pitched in to help me help him get it done, and we did. There was a really connected feeling of doing something hard together that night.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Lou's funeral today was beautiful, a mass in the church down the road from his boyhood farm on which he lived until the time of his death. It is on the site of the church - demolished and rebuilt after hurricaine camage - in which he was an altar boy. Most of the names in the graveyard are Czech or Polish - comforting and a reminder of childhood to see "Pustejovsky, Secora, Nemecek, Kocurek" The priest who assisted with the mass was Jean's next door neighbor and friend in childhood - so much connection. Mark wrote and read a beautiful eulogy for Lou - remarking on his knowledge of Texas plants, his love of the wine cups in the spring, his kindness and good humor. Each of Lou;s grandchildren read a Bible verse. The church ladies served casseroles and cake and cleaned up after. It felt familiar and sweet.

Tomorrow I need to give the eulogy at Sophie's service - and pack to take the kids to the beach. I'm procrastinating - don't feel energized for either task. And tomorrow's Danny's ninth birthday. I know he is thrilled about being the birthday boy and taking a road trip and seeing the Gulf again. I want my energy to rise to meet his.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Distressing day! Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan was assassinated shortly before an election which had the hope of democratizing her country. I don't really know what to write beyond "How distressing!" and "What will happen to Pakistan now?" .

My way of dealing with this news has been immersion in news junkie behavior. The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer did a great job covering the assassination and opinions of knowledgeable people about its possible perpetrators and aftermath. The anger in Pakistan tonight frightens me.

I also looked Benazir Bhutto up on the web. I was impressed that Wikkipedia and other sites are already updated to include information about her assassination. Information does travel amazingly fast now. I read an excellent interview of Bhutto at the Academy of Achievement web site.

I decided in memorial of Benazir Bhutto to post here her answer to the interviewer's question regarding her efforts as Prime Minister regarding the position of women and other political ideals. There is much else in the interview worth reading.

Interviewer: You ran to improve the position of women, social services, education, health. Your very political ideals were controversial, weren't they?

Benazir Bhutto: That was my agenda. First I did it for democracy, because that was my father's agenda and it was also mine as a youth. But my own agenda was very much poverty alleviation and population planning, for instance. We brought down the population growth rate by one-third, and because of the cascading effect it's going to continue going downwards. And there was a lot of hue and cry against the population program, but we did it by recruiting 50,000 women from different villages, and training them in three-month installments. First they would train for three months. They'd go out and work and then every month they'd come back for a refresher to learn something more. So when we had 50,000 women with a vested stake in it, we had ambassadors everywhere to counter people in villages who were opposed to population control. ..
Building schools was right. I tried to placate even the clerics originally. I adopted a very aggressive stance. I thought I had to prove I was as tough as a man because I was in a man's world. Now I think it's not a man's world anymore but in those days it was supposed to be. So I also tried to be very aggressive and warmongering in my second term to try and co-opt my opposition. I am a consensus sort of person, I like to win people over. Not to compromise the core of my values, but I seek the middle way and I tried do that. I think in retrospect it was wrong because I did not co-opt them and I alienated some of my own supporters. But at the same time we got the three years to eliminate polio, to build schools and electrify villages.

Now I feel that if politics was a man's world in 1997, now it's a human's world, and that when people vote for women, they vote because they think women are more nurturing, that they give life, they produce children, and they give life. As the larger issues of communism and capitalism fade away, the focus in my view is turning more and more to the human being, and with more women coming into the work force or into the press, there is a sense that women leaders will be sensitive to the needs of mother and child.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Bob and I both feel like this Christmas has been one of our very best ever - just a sweet feeling day. Joanna made magic in her house, as she does every year, sparkling lights I remember from childhood and Christmas crafts her children have made season after season. After opening well chosen presents we munched muffins and played with our new toys- all sorts. We spent the cool clear afternoon outside trying out Zachary's new bat and ball and Danny's new soccer ball. All of us are impressed that Zach, at five, can hit a pitched ball, not requiring a tee. Close to sunset we drove to a small nearby lake to try out the kayak Ruth and Chris bought each other. Everybody who wanted got a ride in the neat inflatable kayak and we also played a bit more very informal baseball. K.K., like her baby brother, can hit. As dark began to fall we headed back for a simple supper - vegetarian chili - a new and delicious recipe of Joanna's.. Bob and I realized as we headed home after supper that we still had the time to walk in the moonlight at McKinney Falls, so that is the way we ended our Christmas night.

Obviously this is a peaceful time for our family, a gentle and connected time and I am thankful.

Monday, December 24, 2007

I talked tonight on the phone with a dear friend in New Mexico and our talk put my sadness about Jean's Dad's death into perspective. My friend told me the story of her own Dad's recent descent into dementia - the necessity to remove him from his home by force and place hi in an assisted living facility - the amount of love and energy his children have poured into this effort. This was a hard driving, brilliant, high achieving man, a pilot and executive who rose from poverty and accomplished much - a good man who raised his family with love and adored his wife who died several years ago. I want to say "He deserved a better ending." but I know better than to believe that our deaths and sufferings have anything to do with deserving. Its just sad.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Death does come in the winter - now Jean's father, just a few weeks past his ninetieth birthday - a life well lived and one that touched me with goodness. I learned much about Texas native plants from him, and also not to take large bites of home pickled peppers without asking how hot they are. He taught me how to make shade at the beach with poles and tarps, and how to camp out in a State Park shelter. My own family didn't camp. Anyway, Lou's death is another indication of the shifting of the generations. The blessing here is that he stayed well and able to life on his own on his own land and was still fully himself. He died suddenly, probably of a heart attack, as I imagine he would have hoped to die.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Today is my birthday and Bob is pampering me in all kinds of sweet little ways (chicken fried rice take out, helping me with lots of little chores that are easier to do in company, just being around and listening to anything I want to say at whatever length.) A beautiful vase of mostly purple and wine colored flowers just arrived from a dear friend. Last night Bob and I took a long walk in the pre-solstice dark and really basked in the moonlight (almost full). A great horned owl crossed our path and then hooted at us from a tall bare tree. Today the weather seems perfect for a winter birthday - clear sweet blue windy day, wind from the west and blustery and just in the last ten minutes whipped around from the north. It will freeze tonight and the moon will seem huge as it only can full in clear winter sky.

I'm thinking about how I feel about turning 57. It seems pretty much a nonevent. My life won't change because I'm 57. This is not a transition time for our family. All is continuing as it has been progressing (unless of course the mythical other shoe drops out of the mythical clear blue sky). We are growing, learning, changing by increments, not starting new phases.

I like this stage of my life I like feeling competent in most areas of endeavor, having long friendships, being consulted as a source of wisdom at times, but still feeling energetic and interested in learning and doing new things. The fact that this birthday feels not so important makes me think twice. My time on earth is finite, past half and precious. So what do I want to make sure I do with this year - most of it is more of the same - real is better than perfect, love not ego, don't leave any appreciation unexpressed. Beyond that I want to get more of the stories that only I know told in scrapbooks and stories. I want to work on the physical quadrant just a little this year, being more attentive to diet and exercise, but not to set specific goals or emphasize it too much - just to pay a little more attention. I want to remember that this crop of grand children is growing up fast and my time of maximum connection with the won't last forever - and to make the most of this time now. I guess that is really the message I want to generalize to all areas. I want to live kindly and with mindfulness now.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Today was stressful but turned out great. Twenty of us went to see K.K. in The Nut Cracker. I was stressed about making connections and feeling in a hostess role, wanting the boys to behave and everyone to have fun. Everyone did. And Danny not only behaved but dressed himself in his suit and looked dapper and charming. Even Zachy seemed able to track and enjoy the show.

It was a delight to see the ballet danced in Austin's historic Paramount Theatre - a venue appropriately old fashioned and intimate. In the past the ballet was danced in a large concert hall on the TUniversity of Texas campus (now undergoing renovations). As of next year it will be danced in Austin's new performing arts center, The Long Center. Using The Paramount was hard for the company because the smaller stage didn't allow all sets to be used and required some redoing of some of the dances - but it was great for the audience. We could really see the dancers' faces even from the mezzanine.

. Our highlight, of course, was watching K.K. dance as a bon bon - funny dancing peppermint with red and white zig zags and a plume in her hat. - Itallian clown. The bon bons have a fairly long and involved dance and all of them performed it well - really fun to watch K.K. grow as a dancer. Part of this growth is her calmness about performances - five down three to go to full houses. She loves dancing but also takes it as a matter of course, getting the call time right, doing her hair ( flat bun on top of her head so the hat stays on) . Family and friends shared supper at Katz', the down town kosher style deli which has always been K.K.'s and my favorite after dance class or performance meal spot. for supper between the matinee we saw and the evening show. The meal was joyful with twelve at the table, and the restaurant's owner, with whom K.K. has made friends over the years, stopped by to fuss over K.K.and meet her friend Allison. He touched me by telling James he should be proud of his daughter because she was a "real lady" and also used the word "ballerina' which is, of course, accurate.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bob's home, which is wonderful. K.K. danced her first regular Nut Cracker. We see her tomorrow. I feel overwhelmed by all the details of Christmas coming - even though we're pretty ready. I probably just need some sleep. There were sweet oents tonight - K.K. and Ru chasing about, both lean and strong and lovely, Danny and Bob in the car singing Christmas songs - Danny learning the words. Life is good. I'm just tired.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Just a place holder thought - I read the phrase "have to juggle their time" this morning regarding holiday plans and busy families. I know what it means on one level. People do have to decide how to use time and can feel pulled in many directions, especially at holidays - but something bothers me about the concept of juggling time. Time's something we're in not something we hold - a river we float down, doing what we do while we float - at least that's the way I see it. How can you juggle a river? I'll think about this and maybe write more about it later. For you who comment, any thoughts?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Odd day - quiet at home - I could have accomplished more than I did on holiday projects, but I'm getting there. Will get there. Should stay up later and do more but the impulse to read in the tub, to sleep well and warm is strong. I think I'm storing up quiet and solitude vibes for the busy time that's coming. I hope it works!

Writing challenges have been intersting this week. I did another this morning that I like. I think this one was inspired by Zachary who came to me sweetly last night at the end of a long day and smiled warmly as he asked me to "please tuck me up" in bed. Those moments of connection are so precious to me and teach me how to live my life. So:

Over a bowl of cereal,
a sink of dishes,
a ride to school,
we negotiate the
rules of intimacy.
Nothing is trivial.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Too late
comes too soon
Do it now.

That was my favorite of the poems I wrote as a result of Skywriter challenges this week. I am very much aware of our mortality and the importance of not letting moments get away. I am so proud of my husband Bob, who, in similar spirit I think, has started blogging regularly. His link is

Saturday, December 15, 2007

the boys and I spent several hours at the Saturday Farmer's Market while KK danced. Both boys, especially Danny, enjoy live music, and the blue grass singer today was very good. We drank hot chocolate and perused produce and ceramic tents. One ceramics artist had small 50 cent Texas theme ornaments which KK (on break with us for a short time) chose to give out to dance class members and teachers. They were suitably delighted. It was cold and windy (low forties) at the market, but lots of fun. Later in the day the boys and I took sanctuary in the warmth of the Children's Museum - so glad that Bob got us a membership. There are new and fun activities each week. This week the boys made bag puppets - Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with clothes pin Danny and a talking Christmas tree by Zach.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Friends in my writers' group asked why I blog. I wrote the following in response. It seems appropriate to post it here.

Why I Blog

I've always journaled in one form or another - off and on but always. I have bits and pieces of journals around from when I was younger than KK. I like finding and reading snippets that show how I was thinking at different times in my life. There are some definite themes, things I've always written about. I like being able to go back and see progress, growth.

I also do a lot of family and friends letter and email writing and posting on a message board and sometimes those different venues and my journal share messages with the same core. Hving a blog initially seemed like a good way to write out the core message, then tailor it for different venues. I hoped (not always true) that people would be more likely to comment on blog messages than to write whole emails back. I liked the idea of keeping track of myself - my thoughts, felings, moods - of public events - or my reactions, of the feelings or the times, of writings mine and others that move me, in one place - so someone could track me and I could track myself.

I liked the idea that having regular blog readers waiting for a message every day or two would pressure m to write whether I felt like it or not - especially to share the stories about the children and our life. I want that there for the children as they grow up, chronicled. I treasure the letters people wrote about me when I was a kid and want to create an equal trove for these kids.

Using the blog to keep traditions, as with the recent Hanukkah lights questions is an inspiration to think and write when I may not be inspired to.

When I first started blogging Ruth had just started too and was living out of town. We shared a lot through our blogs - kept up with each other. Email could have been the same, but there was something about the other lens, writing about ourselves not to each other, that was fun. I write a blog to share myself with myself, to give others a chance to get to know me better, and to ask questions and gather comments. My biggest disappointment with blogging is that I don't get many comments, mostly from Ruth and my niece Mary.

As I've blogged I've discovered that I like playing with color and format and features like polls - that's just playing house though, playfully fun. The message keeping and sharing is the real deal. I try to write a blog that is self-revealing and open, but to honor the confidentiality and privacy of others. I am more careful regarding other people's stories than regarding my feelings. Those I feel pretty free with in the blog.

I like it when friends blog because I cna check in with them whenever I feel like it, whether they've personally reached out to me or not.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Last Hanukkah answer - eight lights I want to keep shining this year:
Benefit of the Doubt
Creation of beauty

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Last night of Hanukkah and the community Christmas sing with friends and family - another bright if confusing shining of my crazy interfaith life. I loved the sing tonight even though our strong mail voices were missing. I especially missed Bob - who has sung out beside be strongly and with joy so many times. It was fun hearing about the lives of old friends, catching up, even though a couple of people are having work frustrations. I loved watching Danny's joyful face as he swayed and sang with Jeannie, and KK and I laughed until we cried trying to keep up with the funny hand motions elves taught us to go along with "The Twelve Days of Christmas" This event has become a tradition and I realize I have matured into traditions. I went through a phase - maybe peaking six years ago - of wishing we didn't do so many of the same things every year or focus on holidays. I wanted more spontaneous contact with people I love and thought the choreographed contact of holidays was less rich. Now, though I still love the spontaneous contact I find myself more able to appreciate the traditions - to bask in them really. I'm glad for this change in myself.

Another event of the day was that KK danced her first Nutcracker performance, a school show, and it went well, though the small stage at the Paramount made spacing a little difficult..

So as the menorah glows full out, I answer my question number seven -
What are seven lights I hold onto from childhood, seven sweet memories that lit my way?

1. Stories - bedtime stories from both parents, read or told, Grandma Anna's kitchen stories, Grandpa Rudolf 's stories of the old country, Grandma Christine's stories in bed when I spent nights with her, and books as soon as I could read them.
2. Cooking and creating things with grownups - mostly Grandma Anna, but others too, being taught how
3. Working alongside grownups - bathing dogs with Daddy, hanging wash with Grandma Anna.
4. Word play with Daddy - I remember pet names, using the thee and thou - just quirky speech when the two of us were alone - feeling special
5. Being sewn for - special clothes Grandma Anna and especially Mama made for me all the way through high school - the attention of having my choices honored and the clothes designed just for me - the attention of being fitted, petted on, admired
6. Daddy's adventures, like the time he borrowed a sports car in the New Mexico mountains and woke me early to take me for a drive up into a cloud.
7. Playing games and singing songs with family on the back porch in West.

Last Hanukkah question.

What are eight lights I want to keep shining this year?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Seventh night of Hanukkah - beginning to be a full menorah of lights - really illuminates the room. The kids were here this evening and each came in for a little while and just sat in the candle glow, commenting on its beauty. Danny, most like me in some ways, also said it was sad that there was about to stop being more light. Got to stay in the moment - still coming to full glory, not anticipate endings. That's a good repeated lesson for me.

Last night's answers - six ways to stay centered - didn't count exactly - realized a poem for my writing group is my answer here.

To Gather Strength

Sleep well. eat well,
walk every day.
Keep connected with friends,
far and near
Write, work, dance,
keep eyes on sky, sun, moon, stars,
play with or without children and puppies
leave no loving words unsaid,
bead, decorate, write letters, share memories, dream
be still, breathe, speak the truth,
ask for help, memorize poems
accept appreciation, offer appreciation
give to give, love to love, live to live

Seventh night question - What are seven sweet memories from childhood that light my life today?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sixth night of Hanukkah I lit the lights alone again, after a wonderfully social weekend. It feels good to be alone as the lights flicker down. I let myself get irritable and frantic this afternoon - overwhelmed by logistics and that is not right. Its great to get many things done, but more important to stay gentle, kind, focused. I don't like the way I feel when I get overstimulated and grumpy, and I don't like hurting or confusing the people who love me, so I'm refocusing on staying balanced. That effort leads to my question for the sixth night.

What are six ways I can stay focused and gentle - avoid over stimulation and acting out irritably?

Here is my answer to my fifth night question - What are five lights I can pass on to my grandchildren?

1. more conscious effort on maintaining and conveying family stories, both written down and in oral tradition
2. keeping alive the tradition of apologizing for mistakes quickly and without defensiveness
3. providing rich nature experiences and doing real work to keep the natural world rich and alive
4. encouraging their individual personalities and gifts
5. encouraging their individual spiritualities

Today at Mass the choir sang an Advent carol I didn't remember and found beautiful. Both because of its beauty and because it was based on a French carol, I thought about you then. I wonder if your Julie in Girl in the Tapestry would have known and sung this song. I tried to bring the words home but apparently failed, but each verse spoke of the coming of Jesus in a fresh and lovely way - coming light, coming rose, coming star, coming king. And the choir did a beautiful job with singing harmonies. The song seemed in keeping with the increasing light the menorah brings each night.

My weekend was framed by really lovely religious services, the mass toward the end and our Friday evening Jewish service at the beginning. The middle of the weekend was rich with events - Ruth's and Chris' wonderful Hanukkah party and the gingerbread house building workshop with the boys at the children's museum. The little boys had the fun with the gingerbread houses and followed instructions well. The results are cute. Bob was darling being such a nervous perfectionist about trying to help Danny well enough. He is such a dear man, but icing is definitely not his medium. Love is though, for sure.

It was odd not having KK with us two weekends in a row but she enjoyed getting to go visit Allison's grandmother. Her friendship with Allison is a blessing and a delight. Allison is going to come with us when Bob and I take the kids to the Corpus condo between Danny's birthday and the beginning of school. I succumbed to grandmotherly temptation and bought a gingerbread house kit for KK to build on her own, so she won't be too disappointed that she didn't get to participate - and so I get to play in icing again.

I am proud of the job that Bob and I did with practical logistics this weekend. He got my new washing machine hooked up (the old one had gotten to the point that repair cost more than replacement) and it is wonderful to now be able to wash normal sized- loads again - not to be limping along as I was trying to keep the old one going. I baked up a double recipe of homemade Chex mix which we bagged up for Bob to take as gifts to coworkers and we made gift bags for his students. He also selected jewelry gifts from my stored up jewelry for his closest teacher friends. So his Corpus Christmas preparation is all done and all he has to focus on is getting through eight more class days. He isn't coming home next weekend, so that will allow him to have a little less pressure and a little more time.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Tonight was the social night of Hanukkah, the most public and delightful night of celebration. Ruth's and Chris' wonderful Hanukkah party and the gingerbread house building workshop with the boys at the children's museum. Ruth and Chris really can put on a party - and their Hanukkah food is delicious - Ruth's from scratch latkes, Chris' curry, saffron rice, artichoke cheese casserole, many sweet options, This party is always multi generational, different people from different parts of their lives. I especially enjoyed listening to Bob and one of Ruth's and Chris' younger friends discuss birding all over the country. Another treat was watching Danny's joy in greeting guests. I think he will be a great host as a man.

My answer to last night's question: What are four qualities that block my ability to spread light?

1. need for personal attention and validation
2. fear of overstepping, intruding
3. inability to reverse roles properly - mistakes in empathy
4. poor self management which leads to letting myself get over stiulated and then behaving in an unkind or indless way.

Tonight's question: What are five lights I can pass on to my grandchildren - five traditions or blessings?
Fourth night of Hanukkah was Shabbat. I was touched that Ruth and Chris dropped by unexpectedly and offered me a ride to services- which were lovely. Our little Reconstructionist synagogue is warm and accepting, participatory - giving us chances to the service to speak from out hearts about our lives if we are moved to do so. Tonight was all about light, Shabbat light and Hanukkah light. I am feeling more part of the community (forty families) and able to chat as well as worship with them. Larger congregations have their strengths, but small feels good right now.

Last night's answer - three places to shine light

the lives of family members and friends who are ill or lonely
schools where poverty and prejudice cloud learning
war zones worldwide

Tonight's question

What four qualities block my willingness to spread light?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I just talked with Santa. Bob was waylaid going into the door for the PTA meeting tonight and hurried into a Santa Suit. He had fun holding babies and receiving hugs from preschoolers. There are some definite perks to teaching school.
First, my answer to last night's question -

Two qualities to bring into my life - new lights - mindful stillness and increased right action.

Third night of Hannukah is quiet. I lit the menorrah alone early and the lights are already almost out - not even nine o'clock yet. Joanna read my blog today, or at least several months of it. The scheduling computer is down at work and she was there hours without much else to do. That made me very happy - good way of connecting, though of course she already knew much of what I've written.

Third night question - What are three areas into which I want to work to spread light?

And finally - words to a favorite Hannukah Song - Thank you Peter Yarrow.

LIGHT ONE CANDLE Peter Yarrow- ©1983 Silver Dawn Music ASCAP

Light one candle for the Maccabee children
With thanks that their light didn't die
Light one candle for the pain they endured
When their right to exist was denied
Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice
Justice and freedom demand
But light one candle for the wisdom to know
When the peacemaker's time is at hand.

Don't let the light go out!
It's lasted for so many years!
Don't let the light go out!
Let it shine through our love and our tears.

Light one candle for the strength that we need
To never become our own foe
And light one candle for those who are suffering
Pain we learned so long ago
Light one candle for all we believe in
That anger not tear us apart
And light one candle to find us together
With peace as the song in our hearts.

Don't let the light go out!
It's lasted for so many years!
Don't let the light go out!
Let it shine through our love and our tears.

Light one candle for the strength that we need
To never become our own foe
And light one candle for those who are suffering
Pain we learned so long ago
Light one candle for all we believe in
That anger not tear us apart
And light one candle to find us together
With peace as the song in our hearts

Don't let the light go out!
It's lasted for so many years!
Don't let the light go out!
Let it shine through our love and our tears.

What is the memory that's valued so highly
That we keep it alive in that flame?
What's the commitment to those who have died
That we cry out they've not died in vain?
We have come this far always believing
That justice would somehow prevail
This is the burden, this is the promise
This is why we will not fail!

Don't let the light go out!
It's lasted for so many years.
Don't let the light go out!
Let it shine through our love and our tears!

(Don't let the light go out!
!Don't let the light go out!
Don't let the light go out!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Second night of Hanukkah - Joanna and the kids were here for the candle lighting - very sweet blending of traditions. The candles are still barely glowing. I love how long the light lingers.

Last night's question - How can I better spread light?

Keep myself peaceful, rested, strong - sleep and eat well- avoid hurrying and overwork. Listen. Apologize quickly when I am unkind or defensive. Be mindful.

Tonight's question

For two candles - what two qualities to I most want to increase in myself?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The gathering of light is beginning as the days shorten. The first lights of Hannukah shine and flicker on my table. Tradition is sweet. I like starting with the two candles only, the first night's candle and the helper, then watching the light increase each night.

How can I increase the light I spread in the world? That is the question I ask myself tonight.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Ten things I've always liked

1. words
2. being in water
3. learning new things
4. pink
5. salty foods
6. long hair, both the look and the feel
7. being able to help
8. soft clothes
9. making things
10. the moon

Ten things I've never liked

1. ketchup
2. hurrying
3 most cartoons.
4. The feeling of moving fast through space
5. tension between people I love
6. being told there is just one right way to do anything
7. tailored clothes
8. frosting
9. feeling tricked
10.not being able to help

Ten things I liked in high school and don't like now

1. sleeping past noon
2. trying on outfits.
3. cleaning house
4. collecting things (shells, art, rocks - all kinds of things)
5. climbing trees
6. competitive word games
7. playing the piano
8. rearranging furniture
9. air travel
10. hyperbole

Ten things I didn't like in high school and like now

1. curry - actually all Indian food
2. sunrise
3. science fiction and fantasy books
4. getting things out of my space - simplifying
5. birding
6. pizza
7. watching movies
8. reading newspapers
9. sex (or the idea of sex)
10. trying new things at which I don't expect to excell

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I've been reading lots of blogs this evening - cooler hipper blogs than I keep, Blogs of younger writers - friends of friends. There are games bloggers play that I'm just learning about. It seems like some of the are list games. Right now I'm just going to list the list games, not play any - but prepare yourselves (and feel free to play in comments if the spirit moves you)

1. List eight things that are true about you.

2. List ten things you liked in high school that you don't like now.

3. List ten things you've always liked

4. List ten things you've never liked.
Good weekend - not the kind that translates into beautiful posts - maybe better lived than written about, but I'll try a little.

Friday, after the news of Sophie's death, Joanna changed her work schedule to be with me - not sure if I would be OK - so sweet. We talked for hours about family, connection, memories - ate pizza at Conans, something we did when she was little and Kerry was alive, not much in recent years. Then we went and saw the movie August Rush, about music, magic and connection. Robin Williams did a good job as a ad musician - and I liked the movie though there were a few disconnects. I loved the way Joanna chose to take care of me that night.

In a way this weekend was a precursor of social activities to come for the kids. KK spent all the weekend after dance with Allison's family for Allison's birthday weekend, so we barely saw the girl. Saturday I went to a birthday party with Zachary. These days, apparently, the parents or grandparents stay. This was a party for a boy Joe, in Zachary's class and his twin brother Jake. They live in a lovely house (not mansion, just lovely regular house) on acres with horses in the pasture - not their horses their big sister said wistfully. A local stage magician entertained at the party. It was fun to see Zachary with his friends. He was greeted when he arrived, new people's names, had fun, was neither shy nor aggressive. The children in Zachary's world seemed like every class I've ever known - all physical and personality types, but more ethnically and internationally diverse than many classes I've known.

After the party Bob and the boys and I spent the sunset hour at a local pond - new to me but near the kids' school. with lots of domestic ducks and geese. We accidentally caught Joanna at her house and she and Bob watched football there - were sat to see Missouri lose to OU while I grocery shopped. Danny and Zach are beginning to throw the football around a bit and seem to have lots of fun with that.

Tonight after Bob left for Corpus Danny made a book - twenty seven pages about aliens - carefully drawn. He then started dictating the story to me - a simple but interesting story about making and breaking connections - looking for home, flying away, finding and losing friends. I'm always surprised by the kids - how they develop, what interests. Danny has always had an artist's eye I think, but he used to have trouble with hand eye coordination and didn't choose to draw much. Suddenly he wants to draw on a regular basis and is making interesting pictures.