Tuesday, December 30, 2008


You were a humdinger,
gunslinger year, wildly
you dealt wild cards, birth,
death, illness, threat, hope,
love, loss, turmoil, triumph,
all jumbled up .New patterns
New promises, New paradoxes
will unfold on the watch of 2009.
Sit down. Your turn is done.

Victoria Hendricks, December 31, 2008
Long work day and about to take off to Oklahoma with Bob and the kids in the new Prius - should be a lovely break for all of us - supposed to be cool daytime and cold nigh - indoor swimming pool at the hotel, buffalo, elk, and prairie dogs, longhorn cattle, snow geese, birds of prey on the refuge. We are all excited and I'm also glad we don't need an early start. I'll have time to put the house properly to bed in the morning after getting myself to bed tonight.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Danny is well celebrated - sweet time at the Austin zoo. He delighted in his presents and cake and just had smiles for everyone and everything. I thought it was sweet that K.K. had asked him what he wanted her to wear for his birthday and he chose an outfit and she wore it - just seems like something not every brother and sister pair their ages would do. Our new pearly blue Prius is out in the driveway. Bob and I stopped on the way home from signing final papers to buy seat covers - soft microfleece for the front seat and flannel for the kids in back -I wish they made microfleece for bench seats. We even got a new car trash container. I think we're funny, so excited about this car. S far it is averaging 54 miles a gallon and that's partly in town - AMAZING! All of us are excited about our road trip to Oklahoma with the kids in the new car starting Wednesday. K.K. is closer to packed than I am, I think. That girl is incredibly detail oriented. I work a long day tomorrow, but then am off for a whole week, which will be great. Last week I worked in and out between the holidays so this next week will be more of a vacation.
Danny's ten today. We'll go out to the little zoo (Austin Zoo) later to celebrate. That is his favorite place to celebrate birthdays in good weather and today is lovely blue, in the sixties. I remember turning ten - 1960 - thinking about the change in decades and the change in me - feeling like it was an important birthday. I have a specific memory of sitting in a little dark wood rocker (in Joanna's house now) in my blue room in Houston, thinking these thoughts. I wonder what Danny will remember about today. Easier to know what I remember about Danny almost ten - eagerness on every level, specifically eagerness to learn despite struggles with dyslexia - love for what he can get from books ANYWAY - and the determination to be able to get much more of it himself, enthusiasm for life and love, generosity of spirit, sweet smile, warm hugs, love of the ocean and all things related there to, a tendency to burst into song, high capacity for empathy and thus a tendency to be upset when others are or to feel "stuck" between others' desires, needs, preferences, love of helping, especially in the kitchen, great adventurous appetite and love of good food, love of food period because of enormous growth spurt, long legs and arms that show off wrists and ankles more than we'd like because his clothes just keep getting smaller, beautiful honey colored hair, very much like Ruth's, a resemblance to pictures of has grandpa Kerry at the same age, good sense of style, love of word and card games, love of his family. Now I should stop listing and make said ten year old a cake. Bob has gone to get the Prius - what a thrill! I bet the birthday boy is the first invited to ride.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I've had time today to catch up - post my writerly attempts from earlier this week - so if you are interested in poems, check entries going back to December 21. Bob gave up on watching the Cowboys succomb to slaughter by Philladelphia this afternoon and is now dozing in front of the Jets and Miami game while I catch up on email. I bought groceries this afternoon and was entertained by the full sized pineapples - complete with greens. Ruth's pregnancy blog states that Liam is now about the size of a pineapple - a good sized fruit. Eager now to have both grand babies in arms, but not quite yet. Being with both pregnant (Bob made me smile by saying "beautiful pregnant" daughters for the holidays has been a real treat. It is definitely time to get busy planning and throwing showers.

At another life cycle moment, K.K. invited her dancer friend (and crush) Ian to the Hanukkah party and it was a delight to watch the two, very young in adult terms, very well mannered dancers, sit close together playing dreidel, sharing lattkes. K.K. called me this morning just to talk about how much fun she had last night - with Ian. I was glad to hear that. It was hard to tell by watching because both young people were quiet, reserved, careful, probably uncomfortable. I remember feeling like that in sixth grade at the swimming party of David Speak, upon whom I had a huge unrequited crush. K.K., I think, does not need to worry about her feelings being unrequited.

Christmas Eve at Joanna's house, while she and Tracy worshiped at mass, was sweet. Bob read the Christmas story to the children after Santa's cookies were in place on the mantle with a cup of milk Danny poured and carried himself without spilling a drop. Only K.k. was awake when the story was done, but the boys managed to rouse themselves to stumble upstairs to cuddle snug in their beds. I also loved it that, though we spent less than some years, all three children were outspoken in being thrilled with their gifts. K.K. said she got "absolutely everything I wanted!" with a look of transcendent joy - something I don't hear from any people of any age, and the boys seeem to feel the same. The adults too for that matter. Joanna makes a good Christmas.

Bob and I watched a superb, though painful film called "A Beautiful Country" while winding down on Christmas night. About a son of a Viet Nam war era GI and a Vietnamese mother who is terribly mistreated in Viet Nam because of the hatred for mixed race kids - "children of the enemy" "ugly" "pigface" "lower than dust". The hero truly is a hero, a hard working young man of great heart who eventually makes his arduous way to Texas to find his father. I will not give away the story, but Bob and I both give this film maximum stars.
Winter Holiday Season

I used to hate it when people called
winter holiday time "the holiday season"
as if no other season or cycle of holidays
counted or even existed. Now I see beauty
in this holiday season, which begins in thanks
giving, abides lengthening nights, shortening days,
honors expected return of the sun, making
a festival of lights, honoring hope for us all
in the birth of a babe, and concluding as
we begin a new cycle with resolution.

Victoria Hendricks - December 22 - 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Late - should be asleep.
Menorrah awaits finale
Eight candles tomorrow,
full on, full glow, delight.
Then back to high shelf,
aglow in memory always,
and in expectation, hope.
After Ruth and Chris' Hannukah party, I know I should go to bed. It's been a busy, rich week. Bob had a minor but car destroying (not people hurting) car accident on Christmas Eve morning while I was at work. Ruth and Chris took tie from their crazy day to rescue him and pick me up at work and help us finish shopping. Bob felt guilty and sad about having destroyed a car that had served us so well and taken us so many places. I felt relieved he wasn't hurt and touched by Ruth and Chris' support. They also lent us Chris' car to use during the holiday break. Today we chose and have almost finished purchasing a Toyota Prius (what a cool car, with a camera to show what is behind when you back up and of course the hybrid greenness - our version is pearly blue). We left the dealership before finalizing the deal because we needed to get to Ruth's Hannukah party, which was probably the best of many good ones - a really delightful mix of chances to talk with old friends and get closer to newer friends of Ruth's and Chris's.

Christmas day at Joanna's house was lovely - such delight in the growing up children and hope in the babies to come - sweetness sharing food and time. K.K. and I ended up reorganizing her drawers and closet (one of those things we never would have planned but were delighted to have accomplished - started in the process of putting away new clothes and just grew). Tracy and Chris put up a backyard basketball hoop for the boy and all boys of all ages played some basket ball. There was a moment cleaning the kitchen after dinner when I felt the "three generations in the kitchen" sweetness agai, like at Thanksgiving. That is one of my favorite versions of sweetness.

I love my family - am so blessed in my family.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Robert Lee Brewer, at Poetic Asides, http://blog.writersdigest.com/poeticasides/default.aspx - a poetry site which I use for inspiration suggested a holiday acrostic for this week. I had trouble thinking which holiday word to use - Christmas? Hanukkah? Winter Solstice? New Year? Finally I settled on the "home for the holidays theme after hearing clients struggle all week with the difficulty of going home or having grown children come home for the holidays - also the joy involved and the opportunities for healing. Since my daughters and grand children all live close and we see each other often we don't have the "home for the holidays" tensions, but I remember them from my twenties. This poem is also partly inspired by the holiday tensions of women friends and is a wish fulfillment poem for Chris' family - a wish that the tension in their home will ease and the love (which I know is there and strong) will fill their home.

Home for the Holidays

Hopeful mother prepares.
Opens attic boxes, recipe file.
Makes cakes, garlands, plans.
Expects tradition to unfold.

Family members gather.
Old resentments rise and fall.
Real conflicts surface.

Tension mounts, tests tradition.
Hour by hour, memories haunt.
Emotions swirl, bright and dark.

Hug in the kitchen clears air.
Oranges and ginger perfume house.
Love rises, stronger than resentment
Important confidences build trust.
Differences shrink to actual size.
Adults and children, children and adults
Yearn to hang onto this day, this memory.
Satisfaction permeates sleeping house.

Victoria Hendricks - 12-24-2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mystery of Birth

Whether Jesus was Messiah
is a matter for theologians.
I love the celebration of his birth.,
Baby born outside propriety,
in humble circumstances,
baby who grew to teach, heal,
reform, lead, change, comfort.
Every babe I see, born outside
propriety, in humble circumstances,
or in perfect propriety sucking
silver spoon, I think of baby Jesus,
and I know each babe could be
teacher, healer, leader, reformer.
Can't know. Beautiful mystery of birth.

Victoria Hendricks - December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


The night before, no one
knows for sure tomorrow will come
Christmas Eve, Erev Yom Kippur,
Eve of new year, marriage, birth.
Festivals require celebration
Eves require trust -ability
to act as if. Every moment is
transitional, uncertain, eve to
the next moment of life as I know it
or eve to mysterious unknowable chapter.

Victoria Hendricks - 12- 24-2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Winter Solstice - 2008

Temperature hovers just below freezing.
Pillowed clouds hang pale, low, full of snow.
Hannukah candles await dusk on silver tray.
Empty menorah reminds us light returns
before the glow is visible. Energy wakens
today, first day of winter marks beginning
of spring's green hope, promises flowers.

Victoria Hendricks, December 22, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008


56 was an easy year - peaceful,
no weddings, deaths, divorces,
pregnancies, births, major illnesses,
no big accomplishments. 57 shook life
by the neck - deaths of beloved elders,
parents of friends, life threatening
illnesses or family and friends,
Ruth unexpectedly, joyfully pregnant
in winter, baby Mira died in spring.
Joanna's marriage, revealed as broken,
ended, new love in her life and family,
offered opportunity to know and love Tracy.
Train trip alone across desert to writer's
retreat with friends at Big Bear produced
new poems- sorted recipes, letters, toward
making snse of family story - made it real.
Bob in hospital with blood clot, could have
blown as aneurysm, could have killed him.
Ruth became pregnant again come summer. Joanna too.
Twin cousins are charted for February arrival
K.K. reached puberty,started middle school.
emergws as the serious dancer she hopes to be.
Danny and Zachary reaching new maturity, calm,
Danny created space alien and ocean books,
Zachary shot basket after basket, dribbled.
Bob and I charted possible retirement in six
years, seven? My work life tripled in intensity
and income. Essay published in grief book.
Economy crashed, jobs lost, stocks lost,future shaky,
people frightened. Barack Obama elected President.
57 shook life by the neck. 58? Can't know yet.
I count my blessings to have gotten this far.

Victoria Hendricks - 12=22-2009

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bob is home and that feels so good. We hiked at McKinny Falls last night before the cold front hit and heard coyotes yipping loudly - quite a number of them, close to the trail - impressive! Tonight we went with Ruth and Chris to the synagoues first night Hanukah party in a lovely country home. Good food, song, joy. I feel tired right now - not inspired to write. Happy though, watching menorah flames burn down. Tomorrow is my birthday 58 - I feel fortunate to be so surrounded by love.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I'm thinking about mortality tonight - a young mother whose blog I've been reading and who has been ill with sarcoma, but hoping for remission, recovery, just was placed in hospice care. My friend Paul came in today and reported that his brain tumor has shrunk again - good news - but he's still having seizures and his baby's only si weeks old. Both of these people, in the midst of their illnesses, seem richly alive, more present than many of us with good health, and I remember that kind of presence in Kerry when he was ill too (also before he was ill). I found a quote that expresses this quality of rich aliveness in face of death in “Kitchen Table Wisdom,” a book of reflections by Rachel Naomi Remen.

Telling about people with terrible illnesses who nonetheless choose to “show up for whatever life may offer,” she describes them as “in­tensely alive, intensely present.” She writes:

“From such people I have learned a new definition of the word ‘joy.’ I had thought joy to be rather synonymous with happiness, but it seems now to be far less vulnerable than happiness. Joy seems to be a part of an unconditional will to live, not holding back because life may not meet our preferences and expectations. Joy seems to be a function of the willingness to accept the whole, and to show up to meet with whatever is there. It has a kind of invincibility that attachment to any particular outcome would deny us. Rather than the warrior who fights toward a specific outcome and therefore is haunted by the specter of failure and disappointment, it is the lover drunk with the opportunity to love despite the possibility of love, the player for Surrendering our lives to God gives us the freedom to experience real joywhom playing has become more important than winning or losing.

“The willingness to win or lose moves us out of an adversarial relationship to life and into a powerful kind of openness. From such a position, we can make a greater commitment to life. Not only pleasant life, or comfortable life, or our idea of life, but all life. Joy seems more closely related to aliveness than to happiness.”
Bob is on vacation now, though he won't be home until morning. I'm excited about having holiday break together. He had a good last day before break with his kids and I had a good busy Friday at work too.

It is better to light candles
than to curse the darkness.
It is better to plant seeds
than to accuse the earth.
The world needs all of our power
and love and energy,
and each of us has something that we can give.
The trick is to find it and use it,
to find it and give it away.
So there will always be more.
We can be lights for each other,
and through each other's illumination
we will see the way.
Each of us is a seed,
a silent promise,
and it is always spring.
Merle Shain

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Foggy, foggy morning. It was scary going to work in the fog, could barely see the cars coming. Tonight is a little less foggy, and warmish. It is a crazy winter, wildly fluctuating temperatures. I think Christmas day is supposed to be cool/cold like one hopes - but not snowy

K.K. is just finishing up her last Nut Cracker performance. My boxes are mailed. to out of state family. I still want to write a few winter letters and cards - am feeling excited about Bob coming home and about all the holiday activities next week - Christmas morning at Joanna's, Ruth's Hanukkah party. It has been an eventful year - lots of loss and change, lots of new beginnings - so unlike my quiet 2007

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Foggy evening after long work day. Maybe the recession/Depression/economic downturn, whatever we call it is hitting Austin now. Ive heard a rumor that one of the big new office towers down town has been "unable to make its rent". I don't know what that means exactly, for the people who work there, for Austin, if it's the first of many or a single incident. I've been reading lots of old family letters, written during the hard times in the thirties. For our family those were lean times, struggling times but not terrible starving times as they were for so many Americans. Every one worked hard and family members depended on eah other. Those are the stories I grew up on, Depression stories, and I think my consciousness is more of that time than of the more independent, prosperous times since. I like seeing our family and friends coming together now, taking care of and helping out each other. It feels right, real.

I really loved last night - my extended Austin family all together, happy. Except that Bob wasn't with us. Next week he'll be here though, for two whole weeks - and that will feel really good, comforting, steady.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Today was another good family day - Tracy's first birthday among us. I was so pleased the Jeanie and Mark, Marie and Bill, as well as Ruth and Chris went to the annual Christmas sing a long with the kids. Then everybody came back here and we sang and ate three cakes I had baked. Tray wanted German chocolate and I think it was a success, as well as a Heath bar crunch cake and a marble cake. It was so good being in our community, feeling loved. Tray loved being loved on and celebrated - and he is good at showing that, which feels good.

It's been colder than usual - a little sleety but not the kind that paralyzes traffic. I walked to the bank around noon today and was plenty warm in my coat and hoodie, but was enthralled by the ice sculptures drooping from the trees - narrow streams of water frozen into icy streams.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What a weekend - so rich in family and culture!

Saturday afternoon K.K., Bob and I went to see "Magic in Manhattan" a musical created by her favorite jazz and tap teachers at Ballet Austin. Her dear friend Ian sang in the chorus and played his violin in this touching show. I was so impressed by the reality level of the show, which dealt with a family separated at Christmastime - the Dad career military in Iraq, using frequent flier miles to send his wife and two kids to New York City for a special Christmas since he can't be with them. The emphasis in the show was on economic hard times - panhandlers, a soup kitchen, the whole idea of the absence of peace on earth and the value of being good to each other - and still there was lots of fun singing and dancing. And its always a treat to be in the Ballet Austin world with K.K., who is known so well there and can't walk ten feet without getting hugged.

Saturday night Ruth and Chris, Joanna and Tracy, and Bob and I went to see K.K. in the Nut Cracker and out to Katz' after. It was great to see K.K. dance as a bon bon for the second year, and to see the Nut Cracker on the stage at the new Long Center - beautifully danced and beautifully lit. James got a ticket not far behind us, which could have been awkward, but wasn't. Everyone behaved well, and I was glad he was able to see K.K. dance and brought her roses. So much has change in our family in the last year. I think I am probably the least adaptable of all of us to the many changes - but even I see the growth in each of us.

Today I took the kids to church, and I'm so impressed by the new priest - who is just full of life and energy, has a beautiful cantoral voice which he uses in chant an song and is just very warm. His sermon theme today was good for me - "Rejoice, anyway." It's so easy to get thrown off, irritable, "too busy". I think I've been in better balance all day in response to his words and the manner in which he delivered them. He also impressed and touched me by interacting directly and personally with the kids - not at all stilted or isolated. He just seems so natural with them and them with him. Zachary reached out to give him a high five and the priest responded in kind without missing a beat. After mass, I saw him standing on the sidewalk in front of the church consoling a woman who was crying - just right there in the windy morning doing what needed doing. It seemed exactly right.

This afternoon while K.K. danced her second to the last Nut Cracker of the year, Bob and the boys ad I went to a park that has basketball courts and Zachary really shone - making 20 baskets in many tries with a full sized ball and regular basket height. He dribbles well too - seems to really be learning how to play with a basketball. Danny made some shots too, but enjoyed a more typical afternoon of playing at the park. Zachary was just obsessed with the basketball - with shooting and with dribbling - dribbling all the way to the car, for example. Bob and I both shot some baskets too. I am always surprised (and shouldn't be) by how goo physical play feels. I've always liked throwing balls around informally and that hasn't changed at all. Want to do it more often.

Friday, December 12, 2008

If there is to be peace in the world-
There must first be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations-
There must first be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities-
There must first be peace between neighbors-
If there is to be peace between neighbors-
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home-
There must be peace in the heart.

I absolutely believe the economic hard times - see evidenc around me - but it's odd because Austin does seem to be in a bit of a protective bouble for now, at least at the upper end. Parking lots at upscale restaurants are full night after night. And the NutCracker - which runs eighteen performances here, is just about sold out - the more expensive seats all sold out except for an occasional loose single seat at the edge of a good section. We are going tomorrow night, Ruth and Chris, Bob and I, and Joanna and Tray, and taking K.K. out to late supper after at Katz - (Katz Never Kloses) her favorite restaurant, a New York style Deli run by a family from synagogue. The owner, Mark Katz, knows K.K. from times when she and I ate there frequently between dance classes and he always comes over and speaks to us and gives her a piece of complementary cheescake occasionally. She always hopes. Tomorrow should be festive. And I think Bob is going to drive home tonight, so I treasure having him for a few extra hours - and of course next weekend he will be home for his break - Hooray! He was a little down yesterday because his kids did not score well on the benchmark test - but I think it's at least partly because half the class was sick. I hope Bob stays well.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Language does have the power to change reality. Therefore, treat your words as the mighty instruments they are - to heal, to bring into being, to remove, as if by magic, the terrible violations of childhood, to nurture, to cherish, to bless, to forgive - to create from the whole cloth of your soul, true love.
Daphne Rose Kingma
I am so much enjoying having a calmer work week - time to breathe and do chores backed up on my list, like mending. I still have Christmas/ Hanukkah tasks to do, but don't even go to work until noon tomorrow, so I should have time and energy for those fun jobs in the morning.I like the feel of life right now, as long as I keep work in balance. It is hard to imagine babies coming in February - a real new chapter to our larger family life. Coming, they absolutely are. I'm buying a crib from a client (just $25.00 with sheets, mattress and everything) to set up in my bedroom for visiting grand babies - fun to be entering that stage again. I think having the crib will make the coming of Liam and Andrea (Thing One and Thing Two) seem ore real.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The snow didn't keep into morning - The ground was just too warm - but I'm really glad I went out and let it fall on me - caught a few flakes on my tongue. Today was good - a calmer work week has meant getting some bills paid and notes written, just a little more breathing and a sense that I'm in charge of my pace. Feels good. I still have gift fantasies I haven't gotten to. We'll see.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I've been sitting here with snow and sleet falling outside my window for several hours - and sticking a bit. It's snowing pretty hard - great big flakes, right now - common for those in northern realms but interesting and different here. It also was thundery and snowy at the same time earlier, which felt odd and a little disquieting. Now it's just snowing and blowing - no more thunder and lightening. It was close to seventy earlier today, so the ground has to be warm - but I can see snow accumulating in my yard even in the dark - odd. We'll see what the morning brings.

Without squinting, I see you clearly,
my daughrter, K.K.'s mother, Ruth's sister,
pregnant, laughing, drinking soup in my kitchen ,
but squint a little, let the edges blur, and I see me
years ago, K.K. years from now, Ruth tomorrow,
you at thirteen, ninty four - folded generations.

Victoria Hendricks, December 8, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

Successful organizing day - especially considering seeing three clients at home and having a drop in visit from Joanna, Tracy, and the kids - very pleasant. I'll see Jo again tomorrow. She is actually off! I didn't htink that happened in December - and I have a noncrazy work day. We'll have lunch somewhere out and maybe look at baby things. I ordered Ruth's stroller on Saturday - as both daughters look increasingly pregnant, the promise of babies in February seems more real. I'm getting excited.

Something crazy is happening with my computer - I tried to get online for the whole length of my writers' meeting without success, and now I'm online, when I don't really need to be. Strange. I will never understand computers. But I do love the access they give me when they work.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

New poem, not mine - as I begin to focus on light as the days shorten to winter solstice.

It is better to light candles
than to curse the darkness.
It is better to plant seeds
than to accuse the earth.
The world needs all of our power
and love and energy,
and each of us has something that we can give.
The trick is to find it and use it,
to find it and give it away.
So there will always be more.
We can be lights for each other,
and through each other's illumination
we will see the way.
Each of us is a seed,
a silent promise,
and it is always spring.
Merle Shain
Sunday morning - straightening up - so many things I don't get to during the work week. This morning I've already swept, done more laundry, and made some decisions about which clothes I won't be wearing until spring and moved a few more things to the spare room closet. It feels great to be able to make order at any level at all. Later today I'll be doing more baking and cooking (mostly but not all healthy). And this afternoon and evening really do seem to offer time for scrap booking, chronicling, and other gift and family history connected projects.

K.K. is still asleep. I'll wake her and feed her soon before she goes off to dance her matinee. Weather is gorgeous - cold at night, mild in the afternoons, breezy. Some leaves reamain on Danny's maple, much fewer and less bright than last week - but I still see late fall, not winter out my window, which is technically correct. Thirties at night do feel like winter though, Austin style.

Bob stayed in Corpus this weekend to participate as required in his school's eightieth birthday celebration, which was small but prleasant. It sounds like he's had a pleasant weekend with classical music and football for entertainment. He and I really seem to be handling the separations well (though I am eager for his Christmas break at home.) Sticking point seems to still be ending conversations when there is no clear deadline or bedtime, like on weekends. I still feel sad that Bob, rational being that he is, has a sense at some point that we are "done with the conversation" and I, of course, relationaship addict that I am, believe that conversatins with my beloved are NEVER done, and that we only stop talking because the big bad outside world impinges. Bob is very kind to me about this, but last night I learned that he has still been noticing when he feels "done" and has just been politely waiting for me to end the conversations (which I almost always do out of concern for his sleep, not from a sense of completion). This is the kind of situation that makes me very glad I value living from wise woman/higher self and not from pure emotion and need. My wise woman completely understands that BOb loves me as much as I love him and that his feeling he can be "done" talking to me without an outside pressure is not a threat. My emotional self still has trouble with this - but I didn't call Bob repeatedly in the middle of the night to hash it out as many of y clients would have and as I might have in a younger, less evolved state. Mental health and self-awareness really are significant blessings.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

I've had a wonderful day, not at all what I expected. Ruth and I talked on the phone at length. She's delightfully excited about preparations for Liam - crib, desired brown corduroy pants, his naming ceremony, the stroller Bob and I ordered for him today. I went with Tracy and K.K. to the dance wear store to get tights and a new pair of pink canvas dance shoes before opening night of The Nutcracker tonight. Then, after the ritual of stitching elastic into the shoes - criss cross at appropriate tightness, K.K. and I baked together until Joanna came to take her to perform. Joanna came back here (much closer to the theater than her house) and had dinner while K.K. danced, and then we had the treat of going and getting her - delighted, composed, so happy after the performance. As we walked out of the theatre lobby K.K. said to me "I can't wait for tomorrow so I can dance again." She has eight Nut Cracker performances in all - one down. Tonight she chose to sleep here so we can do some more crafts and baking before the matinee tomorrow. I should probably sleep so I will want to get up and join her in these activities.

This morning I had interesting thoughts about the characteristics of life (y life) right now - 2008. Sitting at y computer checking email, I took breaks to tie off strands of lemongrass from a friend's garden into knotted bits to use in tea. Clean clothes flapped on the line and another load swirled in the drier. A pot of bean soup simmered on the stove - so much old and so much new in my morning, in my life. I have a 60 year old friend who says that his mother, a child of the Great Depression, was totally enthralled by the conveniences of the fifties and hated old patterns - like hanging clothes, hand washing dishes, or cooking from scratch, because they reminded her of hard, bad times. Now I can wish my Internet connection were faster, and still tie off lemon grass - interesting world.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Better tonight. Still glad the work week is over, but not exhausted. Night poem to share.


Night envelops dreamers,
in hospital bed, in barracks,
on camp cot, on park benchs,
cozy under handmade quilt,
dozing in glider with nursing babe,
snuggled in lovers arms, alone,
rocked close, beloved, forgotten.
Night envelops dreamers.

Victoria Hendricks - December 2, 2008

Thursday, December 04, 2008

I am way too tired tonight - long day with group at the end and a week that is just more intensely packed than is good for me. I think I've done good work but wonder if I will start making mistakes if I keep up this pace. Next week is a little less packed and I'm trying hard to keep it that way. I love my work. It has just taken on a life of its own lately and I am not so good at putting edges around it. Bob won't be home this weekend, which is bad (I will miss him) and good (more time for projects that are not related to work). Sleep is probably the best thing I can do at this point.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Days shorten and leaves fall. North wind flings branches around roughly outside my window. Temperatures will be in the thirties the next three nights. I'm still beyond busy at work but am managing to get lunch every day and keep up with the pace, which shows no likelihood of easing in the new year. I think my blog creativity is down though - speaking so many words at work leads to fewer words to share here. I think I'll try a few highlights from last week's trip.

Bob and I stopped for supper the fist night in the small town of Fort Stockton Texas and looked around for a restaurant - found a family owned Mexican place which advertises itself as the "All Madden Hall of Fame" because the well known football commentator, who Bob admires, stopped there once to watch Monday night football and has since made it a regular stop on his travels and become a friend of the family. The lobby is festooned with all kinds of Madden and football paraphernalia. We both tried the Madden special - a chicken dish with peppers which was good.

The Cat Walk in New Mexico's Gila Wilderness is every bit worth the trip, especially in fall when the giant Arizona Sycamores flare gold, then lose their leaves. We stood on the trail well above the Gila river and watched the hand sized golden leaves drift and dance down on the wind, then float downstream. Waterfalls of different sizes each had a unique song. http://www.americantrails.org/nationalrecreationtrails/trailNRT/Catwalk-NM.html

I actually beat Bob at Scrabble Monday night in Wilcox. I won with the word "finny" on a triple word score with the "F" on a triple letter score. That made me smile.

Coati mondi remained elusive at Chiricahua National Monument http://www.amwest-travel.com/awt_chiricahua.html, but we did see the rarest mammal in Arizona, the Chiricahua fox squirrel, who was adorably red and seemed to hop more than your average squirrel. I was thrilled as always on this trip to have found such a well matched hiking companion in Bob - not hurried, interested in taking everything in, just as I am, though much better with binoculars!

Tuesday night, after hiking the Chiricahua, neither of us felt quite done - quite ready to go home. I felt melancholy and would have just stayed in that mood, but Bob, being the magic finder man that he is, found a short route to Guadalupe Mountains National Park so we could hike McKitrick Canyon in Texas on the way home. That trail never disappoints. It was the first trail Bob showed me after we married, and a favorite with both of us. I've hiked it in winter and summer, but never hit fall before, and fall is absolutely the best. I'm still dreaming nights of the Texas madronnes laden with vibrant red berries and the big tooth maples flaming. Bob spotted a large (to our eyes) spotted fish in the very clear shallow water of a stream we crossed. I frightened the fish away when I crouched down predator like for a better look. His speed in take off impressed me.

After the extra hike - magic like any totally unexpected, apparently impossible treat, I was ready to head home for Thanksgiving - felt our trip had a real ending, a completion.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I really have been caught in the challenge of living intensely and writing about it at the same time. Now Bob has gone back to Corpus and I've been sitting all evening at the computer organizing recipes of past generations and checking and responding to email at the same time - or I guess most accurately in alternation. It's cold here by the window, and I need to get up early in the morning to go with Jean to get tickets for the annual Christmas sing along. I shouldn't write long.

In summary - our week of gratitude and freedom was all I could have wanted - very restorative.I loved it that, at the Thanksgiving table, we shared gratitude around the table - Danny starting, each of us offering thanks, and the variety and sweetness of the thanks offered were touching - from Tracy offering thanks for the "little babies" to be born in February to Zachary thanking for the many foods (specifically) on his plate and his spoon and fork to eat them with, through Chris thankful for our relative safety and comfort in turbulent times, to Joanna and Bob being thankful for a day and a week off respectively and Ruth capping it off with gratitude that this is the first Thanksgiving every one is old enough for a big person pink crystal goblet - and the last one for a while.

Highlights of the day included cooking with Joanna - dish after dish after dish - efficiently, cooperatively and cleaning the kitchen with Ruth and K.K. - talking with the two of them about all sorts of birth and baby related topics. Across three generations, woman lore flowed (as much as I know individual differences are greater than sex differences and men and women are more alike than different) there was something deep and sweet about our conversation about pregnancy and birth.

It doesn't seem like three whole days have passed since Thanksgiving. I worked a long but good day at the office on Friday. Friday night and yesterday Bob and I watched three movies - the best being George Clooney's Oh brother Where Art Thou? which is a very loose the and rich with spirituals and country music. It is beautifully done - maybe the most entertaining (not favorite but most entertaining) movie I have ever seen. The treatment of the different agical creatures from the original tale was clever and right on - and the art of it all pleasing, the haracters likable - just made me smile. The other two films - about a friendship between a September eleventh widower and his old college roommate and the life of Moliere were both also thought provoking and enjoyable.

Austin is in the lastand brightest flare of fall color - really beautiful. Bob and I walked at Town Lake yesterday and in the neighborhood today and loved the gold, red, bronze of the trees. There were more leaves on the trees than on the ground yesterday, probably today too, but the balance is shifting fast. In a week, with the temperatures and winds we are having, I predict bare treees. We watched the crescent moon - tiny, delicate, just a line, set as we walked the lake yesterday - the beginning of the next moon cycle after the brilliant full moon we watched rise over the Gulf - so any blessings, so many moons.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bob and I are home - got home about midnight after a trip as magical and connecting as those of the last two years. It took me a little longer this time to get completely into the flow - more tired from work, I think - but by this afternoon, when Bob managed to get us an extra hike at McKitrick Canyon in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park - and especially in the car on the long ride back through the starry night, I felt up to my nose in blessings. It's the middle of the night now and I have turkey and trimmings to cook tomorrow so I think I will just do a blessings list - then do the travel log and catch up poems after the festivities are over tomorrow. This is so partial. My blessings seem infinite

Turkey and trimmings to cook tomorrow
The organization to get groceries in before traveling to make tomorrow easier
Three generations in the kitchen tomorrow - and Bob's speed peeling potatoes
Aunt Ruth's rosewood table
Grandma Anna's silver
Grandma Christine's crystal and china
Joanna and James respectful handling the first Thanksgiving after separating
Pumpkin (cinnamon too!) and cornbread stuffing
The self discipline to go to bed when I could write three hours more right now but would be no good tomorrow if I did
Love, given and received
Bob, waiting in bed for me - warm under the covers - (I realized hiking today that if he had died at the same age Kerry did I would never have known him) I love that man!
Daughters and their families looking forward to spending Thanksgiving here (Everybody speaking to everybody and wanting to be together)
The energy to pull tomorrow off.
And again, the self discipline to go to bed (NOW!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It seems to be hard to write about adventures while having them - at least this time. I'm still in the midst. Bob has made it possible for us to hike in the Guadelupe Mountains tomorrow - favorite trail in McKittrick Canyon. I didn't think we'd have time. Cross country drives on little ranch roads straight out of the fifties have been a highlight this time - and the Chiricua fox squirrel - unique to that wilderness.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Short tonight and in a high good mood - got to go to bed so I can get up and run away with my husband- out west to walk in the last fall color in the New Mexico mountains and maybe see a coati (elusive beasts!) in Arizona. This will be our third Thanksgiving (before the feast) get away and the other two were glorious. I'm already thrilled regarding this one - and the family feast which will follow.

A couple more blessings:

the full range of human emotion
music (We went the symphony tonight and enjoyed Brahm's Fourth Symphony)
Ginger - in all it's forms and incarnations. I'm about to take a bath with ginger oil in the water.
Saturday morning blessings

Friends, who love me through emails, notes, visits - and all the times you've come through for me - in sorrow and in laughter,perspective and support givers - Friends.

Birth parents who gave me my genetic bag of tricks, of which I am quite fond, and made a good choice about where/how I should be raised.

Dorothy Gebauer and Dr. AC Crowell who arranged my adoption, and Margaret Peck, all of whom were mentors for my mother and later for me, and who showed introduced me to the truth that sometimes women loved women as most women love men when I was two young to think of it as anything but ordinary.

My adopted family - all of them, who claimed me as one of you, fiercely and with love.

My families through marriage - both times - with all your gifts of diverse perspective, recipes, support and mostly accepting love.

Warm socks and my New York coat (It's cold and I'm about to walk up the hill to buy Thanksgiving groceries) - also the money to buy said groceries without counting pennies this time.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More blessings

Two good marriages to two good men
Bob's delight in his career as a teacher.
Thanksgiving break - with Bob birding (car that runs, money for motels, binoculars)
Cooking for my family, especially holidays
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries - BERRIES

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's ironic that, after I posted about blessings including a warm place to sleep, I talked to Bob and learned that at least one of his fourth graders has been living with his family in a car (because they couldn't make rent) Some of the nights have been pretty chilly. The family has since been referred to a family shelter.

More blessings - these more specific (I hope to add five each day.)

a job I love and am good at
my grandmother's pink crystal
northers - one is blowing in tonight and I love the shift in wind and energy
gingerberry Kubacha ( a weird new organic raw drink that I've fallen in love with)
fitting into skirts marked "medium"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Today felt- no, was- intensely busy at work. I didn't even count sessions - don't want to know. The next two days will be the same, but that's OK. The beach week was refreshing at every level - I couldn't tell how much until we were home and I approached the busy week with plenty of bounce. I am looking forward to a short hiking trip west with Bob at the beginning of his week off, and then to making Thanksgiving and sharing it with family. I'm really missing the other generations - my fault, traveling and working too much. I expect to reconnect during the Thanksgiving break, at least a little.

It seems like a good idea to list blessings as the holiday of gratitude approaches. It's odd to notice that I feel self conscious even starting because there are just so many and most of them so ordinary (and yet not everyone in the world or even in my community has even basics) So I am thankful for sufficient food, water and shelter - sleeping warm on cold nights, clean enough air to breath, ability to buy health care services, peace in the streets, living in our democracy, people who love me, people to love, health, energy, words, hope.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ordinary day - good busy work day. I am happy for this ordinary day. I'm slowly starting to get old letters typed into the computer. I'm also typing in the account that my Aunt Tonie, my grandma Anna's youngest sister, wrote at my request about her memories of her big sister.

Austin Texas,
December, 1981

The enclosed is the story of the life of Annie Hurtik Kolar as I remember her. I realize you are mostly interested in information about her as a person - her likes and dislikes, her habits, her personality generally. I try to give you some of that information as best I can in addition to the biography.

Annie was a quiet and serious person. She was down to earth and took life in stride. She learned to shoulder responsibility when quite young which taught her to be more understanding or other people's problems. She was a good listener.

Annie married at about age 26 when the younger children learned to manage for themselves. Her marriage was a happy one and for several years her life was that of the average American homemaker. In later years the circumstances of her life changed her to be an even more serious person. This was due to several years of illness which sapped her vitality.

I think of her as a person who stayed in the background but whose presence was felt. She was not given to chatter and did not laugh easily. She didn't exchange confidences, always considering that family affairs are family busines. She never cared for jokes but did enjoy good clean conversation. She didn't gossip about her friends. She was conservative in her dress and not caring for frills or flashy colors. Annie had several close friends who remained her friends throughout life.

There are any more pages, some of which I will probably share here - but tonight I'm just intrigued by how may of the things Tonie wrote about Annie are true of me - I call myself a serious person, don't laugh easily, don' gossip, value lifelong friendships, hope I'm a good listener. This woman died when I was eleven - but she was so much my model for love.

So as we approach Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my Grandma Anna and for her sister Tonie, who taught me to crochet and was my nearest and dearest female relative during my pregnancies.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Over 1000 fires homes have burned down in wildfires in California. Horrifying - I remember wildfires in the hills when I lived out there, and of course I remember the terror of our single house fire when the girls were little. I can't imagine fire devastation on such a big scale. There is a link for relief efforts. http://www.californiavolunteers.org/disaster_prep.asp
How Matters

It matters how I open the door.
Fling it open, wild, wide, fast,
send papers flying, trip over feet,
break cup, let lurking flies in.
Open hesitantly, just a crack,
let hand on knob shake, steps falter,
leave my present outside, un given.
Enter mindfully, firm hand on knob.
Push gently, bring what was out, in.
Bring my present. Become present.
It matters how I open the door.

It matters how I shut the door.
Slam and shake shells on shelf,
slosh tea in fragile cup,
shiver even baby unborn.
Close incompletely, too quick
forget to listen for the click,
Leave crack in safe shell.
Close mindfully, firm hand on knob,
pull gently, separate in from out,
enfold room in welcome peace.
It matters how I shut the door.

Victoria Hendricks, November 14, 2004

Sunday, November 16, 2008

OK - I am becoming a blog geek - but I just added a new feature allowing you to sign up as a "follower" of this blog if you want to. I've started "following" several friends blogs and I am interested to see who reads mine.

Today was a good quiet day - lots of cooking. Bob went back to Corpus after supper. November is such a strange month with me out of the office for half of it - but good. The work week will be intense between my two vacations, but that's OK too

Writing with Bob's students really pulled at my heart. These kids are nine and ten, so young, and they know about bills that can't get paid, divorce, fights between adults, eviction, autism, seizures - so much I did not know about at those ages. And they write it down - their feelings for grandmothers having surgery, little sister with autism, angry or absent parents with the authenticity of real writers. They are real writers, writing real stories.

Friday night Bob and I had a perfect moonrise experience out on Padres Island - sunset over dunes, rose and indigo, then flaming peach - reflections in water - sea of pearl - Venus rising, stars popping out, milky way wrapping us, then the moon red fleck over water rising almost round, red, yellow, pearl, silver. This time the new piece for me was the moon's reflection in the gulf - watching it appear round and red, then change colors with the moon and elongate into dancing moonbeam on the water.

Yesterday on the wild island Bob and I saw so many birds - He has the bird list or I'd post it - maybe next week. And we had a real old fashioned shelling experience - all kinds of bright colored scallops, sand dollars, even a few small but only slightly damaged whelk shells. The beach was littered with lots of trash - especially lawn furniture which had probably blown away in the recent cold front - but I was in a peaceful mood and just enjoyed the beach, trash and all - kind of like life, all kinds of stuff washes up, some more pleasing than other - the old cosmic AND again. We saw at least forty dolphins (or forty instances of dolphin) from the jetty - and some jumped really high out of the water. And Bob spotted a sea turtle, for real, right there, swimming in our channel - a smallish one, most likely Kemp's Ridley - and of course I wonder if it is one of the little ones we've seen released over the years.
Warning: Change Required

I'm doing it again - avoiding bed - got to stop it. I have so much to post about our time at the beach - today wild beach exploration , yesterday a tender, productive time writing with BOb's students. But now sleep - and I'll give you a treasure my friend Peggy wrote, which I believe is true, true, true.

I stand on the walkway
by the bluff-top park
rolling toward
laughing tongues
of blue Pacific and
dental white foam.
I love this place, to sit
and listen to gulls,
the children, a happy
dog with its ball. I am
struck by a sign near
one of the meters,
Change Required.

Nov. 14, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Right now, for me, keeping faith with my family's dead is mostly about continuing - in concrete ways as well as feeling - to pass on love and education within the family, and the doctrine of informed citizenship and service in the greater world. Grandma Anna's ethic is to find beauty in what we do - even the little things (the details) like spacing the clothespins mindfully., and to love the children always, before anything else. Grandpa Rudolf taught me that story is a powerful connector - to honor and keep the stories, always. Daddy taught me to findi work about which I feel passionate and doing pursuing it full tilt is important. From Mama, I learned to keep on keeping on, honesty and sincere apology, to know that I will stick foot in mouth at times and that it is my responsibility to remove it and make what amends I can. And Kerry - Learn and love, love and learn, and anything that happens - even cancer at 36, can be used for good. keeping the faith with those who died in wars is at least in part commitment to building a world where war may become less tempting. Also, a willingness to fight, die, sacrifice, if that truly seems the only way - but only as a last resort. I'd like to be a pacifist but I'm not. I would have fought Hitler. I'd fight physically today to save my grandkids. Balance is always hard.

So what about the rest of you. Hope do you keep faith with your beloved dead? What are the lessons? The gifts?
I have stayed up WAY too late, even for me even on vacation but it feels good. I have finally caught up with reading email and working on writing assignments - still have letters to write to friends and family but feel less overwhelmed. I also started successfully - FINALLY - organizing family recipes in a way that makes sense for myself and future generations. It's been fun just sitting up reading recipes I remember, and some gems of old letters, which I think I'll start sharing here.

For example - and appropriate a this time of Presidential election - I wrote to my parents in 1979 when I visited Washington DC for the first time:

Washington awed me with both its physical beauty and its historic significance. Everywhere I put my feet, I wondered who had walked that way before and under what circumstances. Knowing only the newer parts of our country, I was overwhelmed by the age of the buildings - that Clay, Calhoun, and Webster actually debated slavery in the old Senate Chamber - that George Washington was involved in planning the location of the capitol. One of the bits of information that really touched me was a story about Abraham Lincoln and the completion of the capitol dome. Early in Lincoln's Presidency the union was crumbling and Lincoln became increasingly upset by the fact that the Washington Memorial was not completed and the general opinion was there was no point in finishing the construction of the capitol dome. Lincoln insisted on completion of the dome on the grounds that a nation lives or dies by the power of its symbols.

Anyway - at least a little sleep would be a good idea - but I'm happy and accomplishing the kinds of things (rethinking systems, writing, reading old writing) that it's hard to do in everyday context. I even played a game of Scrabble with Bob (seems like a vacation only activity for us) and was in contention up to the last hand - totally satisfactory outcome.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm sitting in the sun room of our beach condo, in the moonlight, looking out in the direction of the Gulf of Mexico. Bob and I walked the beach at sunset - every beach sunset different. This time the rose tones of reflection in the rising tide were really strong - "sea of rose" more than the "sea of pearl" I usually see at sunset. I love Bob for so many reasons - one of them being that he is the kind of guy who suggested I look at the rising silver gibbous moon through his binoculars (never would have occured to me. Wow moon. Wow Bob. I am feeling very fortunate tonight - richly blessed.

I think I've been working too hard - or at least hard enough to really REALLY appreciate a week off. I have lots of projects - scrap booking beading writing reading - birding with Bob. We'll see how much I actually do.

We had lunch with Ruth and Chris before we left Austin (for his birthday) and in conversation it came up that Ruth, at 27 is no longer considered part of the "youth vote". Odd that my daughters could be anything but young.

Friday, November 07, 2008

This land was made for you and me
By Roger Ebert on November 4, 2008 8:47 PM

As the mighty tide swept the land on Tuesday night, I was transfixed.
As the pundits pondered red states and blue states, projections and exit polls, I was swept with emotion. Not because America was "electing its first Black president." That comes a little late in the day. It was because America was electing the right President...

I stayed up late. As I watched, I remembered. In 1968 I was in the streets as a reporter, when the Battle of Grant Park ended eight years of Democratic presidents and opened an era when the Republicans would control the White House for 28 of the next 40 years. "The whole world is watching!" the demonstrators cried, as the image of Chicago was tarnished around the world. On Tuesday night, the world again had
its eyes on Grant Park. I saw tens and tens of thousands of citizens with their hearts full, smiling through their tears. As at all of Obama's rallies, our races stood proudly side by side, as it should be. We are finally, finally, beginning to close that terrible chapter of American history

America was a different place when I grew up under Truman, Eisenhower and, yes, even Nixon. On Tuesday that America remembered itself, and stood up to be counted.

This land is your land,
This land is our land,
From California, to the New York island.
From the redwood forests, to the Gulf Stream waters--
This land was made for you and me

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Racism does still swirl in the background regarding the Presidency. A UT football player was taken of the tea for posting something ugly and racist about Barack Obama on Facebook - and at Baylor some students burned Obama McCain signs and somebody hung a noose in a tree - evoking images of lynching. I keep hearing people talk about fear that someone will assassinate OBama for racial reasons. I think my fears of assassination (which are mile) are more because he gives me hope and it's scary that hope could be dashed by a murder. I think about the Kennedy and King assassinatins, especially that of Bobby Kennedy, which I associate with shattered hope
Contradicting my general hopefulness about this political moent is my distress that Proposition 8 banning gay marriage passed in California. Here is a quote from a California center (sorry for incomplete attribution) on that issue.

"Never before in California's history has a group who currently enjoys a basic right, been singled out, and then had those rights ripped from them by a vote of their fellow citizens. This decision is so radical and so egregious, that every voice must first be heard, no matter how unlikely a changed outcome might be.

We are all diminished whenever discrimination is sanctioned and fundamental rights are stripped away from any of our citizens. We are all diminished when some families in California are denied access to the security and protections they deserve."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up"
Anne Lamott
I am feeling very patriotic tonight and hopeful about our nation's future, our world's future, our nation's future in our world. One of the reasons I'm feeling hopeful is the presence of voices of true American Bill of Rights values voiced from both sides of the metaphoric political aisle.

Republican former Secretary of State Colin Powell asked and answered the question "Is there anything wrong with being a Muslim in the United States?" on Meet the Press recently. Here's some of what he said:

"[I]t is permitted to be said such things as, "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards--Purple Heart, Bronze Star--showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarizing our self in this way."

The photo referred to by General Powell is at http://www.newyorker.com/online/2008/09/29/slideshow_080929_platon?slide=16#showHeader

I so strongly admire General Powell for making this public statement and I powerfully agree with him. I cried over the picture, a mother's grief transcending any boundaries of nationality, religion, or belief about the correctness of war in general or any war in particular.

General Powell's comment may hit me especially close to the heart in contrast to a segment of a Bill Moyers' Journalprogram about the toxicity of the rhetoric of the far right "shock jocks" on radio and in journalism. This feature was created after the fatal shooting this summer in a Unitarian Universalist church in Knoxville Tennessee by a an who believed it was his mission to kill liberals because we are dangerous. The quotes on the program shocked me terribly - awful awful quotes saying that liberals, Muslims, gays - all sorts of people, are not truly humans and should not live. I do not frequently hear this kind of hate talk, and it made me feel sick and scared, but I'm glad I heard it. I need to know what kind of toxicity is out there in our world, our communities.

On the other hand, recently I have become increasingly aware of the spiritual diversity in my own community. I've started buying smoothies at a little shop next to my bank. It's called Yogurt Planet and makes delicious smoothies full of all kinds of antioxidant berries. The friendly young man who runs the shop was born in Nepal and raised in Chicago. Behind the counter he keeps a beautiful altar - with fruits of the season and a statue of, I think, a Hindu deity. Day of the Dead Altars were featured in many local shops and homes last weekend. The owner of my nearest convenience store keeps a picture of his guru behind his cash register. I have friends who feel judged and uncomfortable because they are atheist and do not accept the idea of God. All of us are here together, Americans, citizens of the world, with our planet's - our families' destinies in our collective hands. May we hold them gently and take appropriate actions, together, all of us.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

"Where there is breath, hope."

Barack Obama
44'th President of the United States

I jusr watched President-elect Obama accept his election tonight in Chicago's Grant Park where heads were bloodied during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. I like the dignity of our new President's speech - his focus on getting straight to work to face the many challenges facing our nation, just as I liked the dignity of John McCain's concession speech. Both men seem ready to put the partisan fight behind them and get to work - a model for all of us.
John McCain has conceded the Presidency to Barack Obama. McCain spoke with deep patriotism and silenced boos - honored movement away from the partisan fight to governance - and we do need governance now - good governance. Tomorrow is today.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Til You Got It

You got to grab it when
it flies by a wild horse, speeding
train, by the horns, by the shirttails
and just hang the hell on
til you feel the rhythm
in your bones, just
let the whole world sing
an' Baby you got it.

Peggy Goetz - November 2, 2008

Somehow the passion of Peggy's poem pairs for me with the sadness that Barack Obama's grandother died today and will not see (from earth at least) the result of the election and that he - if he wins - will not get to experience her delight in his victory.

Chances slip by. Wild horse fate gallops past in a breath. Got to grab hold when we still can. Any friends and faily reading here, I love you all.
Almost election day. I'm excited.

I'm behind on this blog and in my whole online life because I didn't have Internet at home over the weekend. I'm proud of myself and the service rep, for managing the reconfiguration of my modem flawlessly.

Last week was challenging here - crazy busy at work and then on Wednesday I learned that a client on Tuesday had been in my office with whooping cough. This really rattled me - and it took some jumping through hoops to get seen by the doctor to get preventative antibiotics - but I'm fine. I was not allowed to be with my pregnant daughters on Halloween which was frustrating, (had to be on antibiotics for 24 hours first). I'm calm now, but I was really scared at the idea of possibly getting and spreading such an awful illness.

Otherwise, all is well. Bob and the kids and I hiked six miles in the pine woods yesterday - perfect mild afternoon with some color (even in pine woods) from floaming vines - a few fall wild flowers - a deer, a tiny lizard, a rabbit. I think we are so fortunate that all three kids think a hike is a treat.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

After Nixon was elected in 1968 I became generally disenchanted with politics and caught in the delights of university life, meeting lifelong friends, falling in love.

Spring of 1969 I remember a mix of political experiences and related feelings. That was the era of anti Viet Nam War protests - which were large on the University of Texas campus. I remember a highlight was hearing John Kenneth Galbraith speak to a crowd on the Campus mall. Lowlight for me was the irresponsible behavior of fellow protestors, many of whom seemed to be using the protests to smoke grass in the daytime, shock their parents and cut class, I saw a lot of drug related problems because I worked the first aid station. The thing that really got to me though was that they didn;t pick up litter and made big messes. The only speech I made at the rally was about how we had to take ourselves seriously enough to pick up after ourselves if we wanted others to take our message seriously. I remember feeling afraid because of the students shot at Kent State, afraid of the stories told by people who had been beaten up by police at the Chicago Democratic Convention. I remember talking to my Dad on the phone about the line between civil liberty and treason.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Writing about the assassinations - the terrible season of assassinations - made me remember this song by Dion. I wonder if some of the rest of you remember it too. It always made me cry. Still does.

Abraham, Martin and John

Has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
You know, I just looked around and he's gone.

Anybody here seen my old friend John?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked around and he's gone.

Anybody here seen my old friend Martin?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked 'round and he's gone.

Didn't you love the things that they stood for?
Didn't they try to find some good for you and me?
And we'll be free
Some day soon, and it's a-gonna be one day ...

Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
I thought I saw him walkin' up over the hill,
With Abraham, Martin and John.
1968 was the year when politics went wonky for me -maybe for many of us of my generation.

The Tet offensive in Viet Nam terrified us - maybe we couldn't win this war.THis war seemed to be terribly managed and hard to understand. All the guys my age were draft age, or almost, turning eighteen and getting letters from Uncle Sam. We talked constantly about enlistmant, reserves, deferments, going to Canada, who was or wasn't legitimately a consciencious objector. In winter, I sat in my Daddy's study on the floor, vacu cleaner forgotten beside me, reading the National Geographic article about Tet and crying, wondering who I knew would go and not come home.

Martin Luther King Jr was shot and killed in spring and hearts broke. It seemed unreal, too much. We put the flag at half mast at school - students did. The adults were too stunned to even think that we needed to do that. We stood in the courtyard and cried and sang "We Shall Overcome" - a bunch of privleged white kids who weren't real sure what we had to overcome but knew a great leader had been killed and violence was afoot that had to be stopped.

Bobby Kennedy visited Cezar Chavez and the farm workers, and ran for President, and we hoped he could win and make a difference. He won the California primary and we hoped, he was killed the night of the Primary - right down the road from my California home, in the kitchen of a hotel where I'd danced at wedding receptions. I remember walking the halls of my high school the next day crying, hugging people.

That summer I committed my only ever act of vandalism - pulling down a George Wallace for President sign in the small town where Uncle Rudy lived. That summer, too, I was shocked by the behavior of the police at the Chicago Democratic convention - and turned away from politics into my own life, starting college.
Jewish blessing to be said before voting - “Praised be the One who has called us to exalt our nation with righteousness, and taught us: ‘Seek the welfare of your community and pray on its behalf, so that all may share in its well-being.’”
[Proverbs 14:34, Jeremiah 29.7]

Sunday, October 26, 2008

One more political memory tonight - 1964, I remember learning about the John Birch Society on the school bus - and that some of my friends parents kept guns in their houses and belonged to the NRA and believed it was an important right to be able to keep guns. That felt alien to me. I remember ROnal Reagan in California politics - and our family didn't like him but I don't remember why. I liked Lyndon Johnson then. He was a Texan like my family and I knew where his ranch was and hoped he would be a good President. I remember the picture of him being sworn in on AIr Force One after Kennedy died - how sad he looked. I liked Lady Bird and her interest in Texas wild flowers. I knew most of the Texas wild flowers because my Grandma Anna had taught me their names.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I know I've posted this quote on this blog before, but since I was just writing about John Kennedy and his death, and since the election approaches this year, it feels right for tonight. More political memories tomorrow.

If by a 'Liberal' they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a 'Liberal' then I'm proud to say I'm a 'Liberal.'
John F. Kennedy

Friday, October 24, 2008

Here's a political, ethical view from right now - a commentary poem I love (thank you Peggy.)

Words Matter

I used to think words didn't matter
as long as you knew in your heart
what you meant. But I was wrong.
Words can change what people think.
Police officer
Person with schizophrenia
Person with a disability
Words do matter
Everyone should be able to marry
the partners they choose.

Peggy Goetz, October 23, 2008
The assassination of John Kennedy wasn't politics, exactly, but history, and it was soon enough after his election that it had echoes of politics for me. I thought assassination was something that only happened in history - that people were more civilized now. I had a lot to learn about how civilized we aren't. I remember I was going to lunch - seventh grade, Ladera Vista Jr. High, ad David Speak, on whom I had a horrible long lasting unrequited crush, called out across the courtyard that the President had been shot. I remember sitting stunned in sewing class after that, with the TV on, trying to make sense of what had happened. At home, in the days that followed, the TV stayed on. Daddy didn't shave, didn't go to work and we just sat there and watched and watched on the olive green day bed in the den until the funeral was over. Then we picked up pieces and went back to life. I saved the Life magazines with the shots in the limousine and of John John (not dignified but the way we thought of him then) saluting the funeral procession. think it would have been way too awful then to imagine that more assassinations would follow.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

1960 Presidential election was exciting. I was ten then, and we had television by then. I remember the debates people saying Kennedy was handsome and Nixon wasn't and not understanding that visually. I did like Jackie Kennedy's hats. I remember my parents talking about Kennedy being Catholic and how people said that the Pope would be able to tell a Catholic President what to do, and that my parents didn't think it would be an issue at all. I remember the voting lines were so long both parents stood for hour to vote. I remember Daddy took me out to supper at Alfred's Delicatessen while Mama was voting and then took me to his office at Shell Oil, the only time I remember being there. I fell asleep in front of the election returns for the first time that night, beginning a long tradition.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You can't leave them up to God when God has left them up to us.
Orson Scott Dard

I've been thinking about elections, of course, as has my writer's group. A prompt was to write a poem about a first election memory. I hope to add other political action memory poems over the next couple of weeks.

Citizenship Lesson

1956 -so I was almost six.
Big flag flew outside polling
place, red white and blue.
Daddy held me up to see
the voting booth, kissed me,
gave me a little flag on a stick,
fluttering stars and stripes.
Both parents were excited,
confused me by saying they
were voting for the donkey
because he was a statesman
not a soldier, and America
needed a statesman after
so much war - They wanted
Stephenson not Eisenhauer,
but after the elephant won
they told me it would be all right.
The people had decided - democracy.
Mama explained voting was a right,
a responsibility I should hold dear,
and I do to this day. Lesson learned.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Poor Bob just locked himself and Lobo out of the Corpus apartment - something I would have done a dozen times a school year and something he usually manages not to do. I hope they get in the back door or call the landlady successfully - too late to be stuck outside with dog - and I think the school is locked so he can't even go there and sleep on the floor. Poor Bob!

UPDATE- Bob managed to get back in through his back door. HOORAY!

It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Quiet day off here - so quiet I don't have much to say. It's starry out - sweet fall night. I have all my Halloween decorations out- raven and owls sitting on candlesticks. Bright pumpkins and hanging bats. The kids helped me decorate. I had at least as much fun as they did. This part of the holiday cycle is clearly my favorite - all warm colors and scents. The sunset glowed apricot and hazy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no "brief candle" to me. It is a sort of splendid torch that I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
George Bernard Shaw

Happy Sunday night here. The grand kids were here all weekend - delightful. I took them back to mass and Sunday school for the first time this school year. Sunday school has just started up. They are so happy and warmly received in their church community and so am I. I like having more than one spiritual tradition in my life. Today after mass the church had an international feast in a number of rooms with foods and parishioners in dress from all over the world - and music and dress too. I restrained myself with the food but enjoyed the atmosphere and watching the kids enjoy the food.

We had the best in ordinary time this weekend, cooking, eating, talking, doing homework, decorating for Halloween, K.K. and I helping Bob grade student work. So much in my life is so good- bright treasure.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mirror - Fifty -seven

I face the woman in the mirror,
tired around the eyes, strong.
Skin shows years of sun, emotion.
Body bore two children, shows it.
Hair hangs loose, no longer flame.
I face the woman in the mirror
and refuse to see her faded,
diminished, anything but beautiful.
I know who I am, embrace power
I couldn't imagine at thirty-seven.
Time may be short but the woman
in the mirror has work left to do.

Victoria Hendricks - October 15, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rainy day here, so muggy before the rain started. I walked to the bank and was hotter than I've been on 100 degree summer days. There was no movement in the air - just sat on my skin like a solid. Now it is quick and cool out - so different. I found an old pair of jeans in a box and they are loose - always a good feeling. I don't remember where they came from or when I wore them - but loose jeans and cool temperatures, especially after a muggy afternoon bring a smile.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mary Jean Iron : Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.
It rained today - good wet rain and towers of pink cloud at dusk. I'm about to goout and walk Lobo in the moonlight. I had a good work day, rewarding. Bob and I actually talked about retirement this weekend - the first time it felt real, like something about us - really - something we might actually eventually do. He could retire with full benefits from teacher retirement at 65 (six more school years) and might work an extra year to keep insurance untio I'm Medicare eligible. I can imagine going to part time then - maybe working out of the house - traveling more (maybe actually retiring completely myself but that still feels alien) - but cutting back - traveling more - could be good. It is a relief to understand when a practical time for Bob to retire would be.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Today was a different kind of Monday because Bob was home. He had a routine physical this morning and is healthy - a relief always. We walked Town Lake (Lady Bird Lake now) with the kids this afternoon - and the kids, in turn, used the bright green camera Bob is testing for his photo club. It passed the test. It was fun to watch the kids choosing shots and each being careful of the camera. Ruth and CHris came by for a short visit and to use our oven on the way to a potluck. I feel a little tired, but happy, moving into the work week.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

We just got back from the traveling show from the "So You Think You Can Dance" TV show. It was fun - great dancing and a warm, bonded ensemble of young dancers. I sat next to K.K., who said she would rather be onstage than in the audience. Me too, if I'm honest, in a younger body incarnation.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bob and I just got back fron a moonlit walk at McKinney Falls - beautiful clear evening with deer running away from us and we saw a rabbit hop away too.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm tired at the end of a long work day and hungry but don't want to cook - even heat anything up. That's one of the biggest disadvantages of our lifestyle - hard to cook for just me sometimes, but I do and I will tonight. Food has really been good this fall and I'm very happy with my weight loss so far. I resisted Weight Watchers for decades, probably because I'm too much of an introvert for meetings, but with the online recipes and hints it's a great program for me.

Yesterday's Yom Kippur service occured in the Unitarian Universalist church where Kerry and I were married. Our congregation has all of it's High Holy Days services in that church and I usually don't think about our marriage there - not a wedding really, just a marriage on a cold December morning with Kerry, me, the minister, and our two best friends. Yesterday I walked into the kitchen during a break between prayers, and remembered pacing in that kitchen on the morning of that marriage, wondering if I had what it took to be a good wife. I know myself much better now. I don't even feel sad that things changed so much for hte young couple who married in that church - or only partly sad. It would have been a good life if he had lived to old age and he declared it a good life the day he died young. It's been a good life for me too, before his death and since. Nothing, no loss, no change is ever as big a deal as it seems at the time, no triumph either.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Yom Kippur is over and was a wonderful highly holy expeience, great to share it with Ruth and Chris (and Sprout). I was struck by the acrostic prayers in the litugy and made my own with one of my favorite sayings.

Love Not Ego

Loss, gain, pride, shame.
Only confuse and confound
Value flows from intention.
Each choice bends fate.

No gift or affliction exempts.
Outside, inside, hurt or whole,
Truth unites us, soul to soul.

Each can follow. Each must lead.
Give, question, ask, receive
Open, then seal, compassion's gate.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Yom Kippur - Day of Atonement - If I were clasically observant I would not be on the computer at all, but, for me, writing thoughtfully sems more observant than not writing at all. I don't feel full of wise thoughts - trying to empty out, not just physically with the fast, but spiritually and emotionally, to just hold the quiet and know that my actions and choices do make a difference.Interesting that the rabbil tonight talked of God by two names - Love and Truth - different lenses for sure.

It is up to us
to hallow Creation
to respond to Life
with the fullness of our lives.
It is up to us
to meet the WOrld
to embrace the Whole
even as we wrestle with its parts.
It is up to us
to repair the World
and bind our lives to Truth.

Therefore we bend the knee
and shake off the stiffness that keeps us
from the subtle
graces of Life
and the supple
gestures of Love.
With reverence
and thanksgiving
we accept our destiny
and set for ourselves
the task of redemption.

Rami M Shapiro

Monday, October 06, 2008


Skill has always
been easier than truth.
Wisdom demands both.

Victoria Hendricks - 10-6-2008
“How vain it is to sit down to write ...
... when you have not stood up to live."

-Henry David Thoreau
I walked up to the grocery store a little while ago and watched a couple - younger than me (mid forties?) She was in a wheel chair and he was pushing, very tender, reaching down a couple of times to stroke her cheek or talk to her quietly. There was absolutely love in their interaction and, I thought, protectiveness on his side. She had hair but looked too think with a look of pain about her - but of course I could be completely wrong. Maybe she just has an injury and will be fine - but I thought about having short time as a couple seeing them together and I triggered on something Bob said yesterday, that sometimes someone who really loves a spouse might choose to suffer greatly in grief, to become dysfunctional, to show how much he or she loved the partner who was ill or had died. That really scares me. I don't think anyone could love more than I loved Kerry and I didn't do that. Don't do that, Bob, if I die suddenly, now, or otherwise before you. Please use your love for me to make the rest of your life strong and to create beauty, strength, healing in the world in my name, in the name of our love. Please, please, nobody ever shut down in grief for me (I mean I know you will have your feelings and tears and will miss me, but don't let the grief make you less for more than a very short time - please) Use the energy to create and heal. That's important to me. When I die, make an altar of your actions, as I wrote the other day.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

This was a good weekend for our family - Rosh Hoshannah meal here with dipping of apples in honey for blessings and hours of good family talk. I cooked all the food this year and it was mostly good, except that thesalmon loaf was unexpectedly salty and I have no idea why - very odd. I'm the only one it really bothered. I fixed the first pumpkin pies of the season, a real treat for Ruth who would live on pumpkin pies if she had access and would let herself. The deep levels of conversation and thought have been in keeping with the sense of the holiday. Every year as the season turns I find myself working to shed still another skin of bad habits, old ways of thinking, traits and processes that no longer serve me. This year I'm letting go a little more of my tendency to want others to change first (since of course they have more to change than I do! (not).

Friday, October 03, 2008

Autumn Return

Autumn reminds us return
to basic apples, simple honey,
familiar faces around table
older, each of us, changed.
Every autumn, we rise and fall,
together and separately
turning, toward one another
away, toward, and back again.
Who will be absent next year?
Who will be new? To be present,
one more cycle, to turn and return
again is blessing enough. Sufficient.

Victoria Hendricks October 3, 2008
I'm in a very bright, happy mood tonight - for no particular reason. I laid in groceries in preparation for cooking for the family tomorrow. I even bought flowers, something I haven't done in a year or more. I felt useful at work today. A great horned owl hooted at me when I was walking home at dusk yesterday. The waxing crescent moon was setting orange in an indigo sky and the temperature was mild. Next week we will dip into the fifties - probably my favorite temperature decade) though I prefer it when the highs, not the lows are in the fifties)decade. I know the economic news is terrible and many people I know are suffering for many reasons - and still, tonight I sit at my table with the windows open and smile.

I just finished the book My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, and between that and the introspection of the High Holy Days, I'm probably more aware of mood than usual. Dr. Taylor is a neuroanatomist who suffered and recovered from a severe stroke, and she writes about the locus of emotions and attitudes in the brain, the amount of power she learned to have over her emotional reactions as a result of the experience of losing access to her left - story- teller - critic brain after the stroke. So much of what she writes is what I believe and teach in the wise person work I do for myself and with my clients. She gives scientific, physical backing what I believe and experience and what many spiritual traditions teach about the destructive power of attaching to emotions . I never would have read this book without my book group (Thank you book group) and I am inspired and excited (cheered actually) by it.

I also love a quote which Dr. Taylor uses as her email tagline.

"I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be."

Albert Einstein

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Lest this post alarm anybody, I'm fine, mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually - just introspective as Yom Kippur approaches and one of the prompts for my writing group was " Day of the dead altars".


When I die, speak me simple,
speak me true. Make my altar
out of action. Hold your tongue
or use it in wisdom, in kindness.
Dance, sing, paint, hike, cook, eat,
Love, cry, laugh, tell stories, hope
Nurture, teach, learn, receive, give
savor, enrich each moment you live.
Victoria Hendricks, October 2, 2008
My partner Kent and I led a group at work tonight - first gorup I've started in maybe seven years. I was both VERY nervous about being competent and helpful in that setting and thrilled with the level of participation, courage, and honesty. There is such power in shared stories and shared healing. I won't me nearly as nervous whne we meet again in two weeks.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The details make life holy. If you want a little happiness in life don’t forget to look at the little things. It is a poet’s work to see the incidental, pluck it, place an appropriate silence around both sides and see the profound in what passes for a passing moment. It is an artist’s job to as much discover art as create it. Prayer is a way of making the common profound by pausing, tying knots around a moment, turning our life into a string of pearls.
Noah Ben Shea
For Rosh Hoshanna, we Jews traditionally dip apples in honey to commemorate the sweetiness of ife. Tonight the eden image combined in my sleepy brain with this custo and I put toghether a poem that feels very true to me - my second Rosh Hoshanna reflecion for this year.


Fruit of the knowledge of good and evil,
bears seeds of doomsday destruction,.
bears seeds of creation, love, salvation,
Seeds of hope, and despair, begin neutral,
apple seeds undistinguishable, innocent, same.

Human choice, our knowledge of good or evil,
determine if we plant doomsday destruction.
determine if we pant creation, love, salvation.
I will dip my apple in honey, bestow sweetness,
Chosen seeds will grow in wholeness, shalom.

Victoriea Hendricks - September 30, 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I feel much better, brighter, than earlier before I walked to the store. It's odd how just walking up the hill in the cooling evening cleared my head, and how pleasant it was to just shop for tooth paste and tea without time constraints. I still have words and words to write and not the time I want to give them, if I am disciplined and get sleep before my work day. I will get at least a few highlights down.

Bob's class is wonderful this year (so strange how groups of kids can differ from year to year). I took them memory wire necklaces with pendants onf animals and stones.They chose with delight, care and gratitude. They asked questions about the stones, the animals, how I chose what stones and beads to use together, what tools I used, if I'd teach them to make necklaces (and yes, of course yes!)

I coached the kids on writing, revising, creating personal narratives, and this group tries so hard. They have stories to tell, real stories - just need to learn that mastery of the writing craft is the way to get their stories told. I felt excited, sitting with kids as they revealed the details of their experience whether riding to San Antonio in the back of a pickup truck with four cousins and an uncle, hunting and learning to pluck a wild turkey, fearing an uncle's temper, or making eggs and watching football with a loving Daddy. They made their lives real for me, and I felt honored.

The kids and parents see Bob for the mentor, teacher, good man he is and it makes me happy to see him in an environment where he is so clearly loved. The school kids and teachers were given free food at Gatti Land Friday night and I delighted in seeing all the hugs Bob got and the extent to which he was in his element, his world. I feel that kind of "at home" at my office and I like it that he has that professional and human community too. It would be nice if they were in the same city, but I'm more thankful we have what we have than fretting the details.

Saturday night Bob and I stood in the Gulf (beach re sculpted with less sand and large rolling swells after hurricane Ike). Sunday morning we visited the hawk watch and attended the Native American blessing of the hawks. The chanting and the emphasis on this season of change reminded me of my own tribe's chanting and singing at Rosh Hoshannah. Some of the sounds in the chants were even the same - especially "Ya." The blessing offered at the end was "May you walk in ceremony always." I like that blessing - re frame it "May you walk in mindfulness always." Or in shalom - wholeness.

Owl Truth

Springtime mornings last so long
we forget the deep night's song.
Fall trees flame, and we remember.
Owl's call shatters bright illusion.
Time is short, harvest uncertain.
Owl moon waxes, shows first crescent,
slimmest glimmer of life's full circle.
We sense death, and dread her coming
We fear death and meet her singing.
Owl moon holds us, coming, going.
She rocks us lightly, knowing, knowing.
Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.
--Phillips Brooks

I'm way too far behind on this blog and have so much I want to share from my visit with Bob and his class in Corpus and the begining of the High Holy Days. I've had trouble gathering my words and thought that just starting out posting again with the quote (which I just found and really like) would let readers know I'm alive and maybe prime my writing pump a little. We'll see. I have to walk up the hill now and return a late DVD lest we be charged for it. When I get back, I hope I'll write for real.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Joanna's birthday - I took her to supper at the Olive Garden and it was a sweet evening , just the two of us - felt good. Thirty one years ago feels like a long time, especially with her Daddy having been dead twenty of them. he was so much a part of the day of her birth, the beginning of her life. I remember walking to the library in labor with her - to speed things up, some of the same route I walked home from the bus stop today. I remember walking up the sidewalk to the front door the first time with her in my arms, and then, the next morning, Kerry and I going out on the patio to read the paper and have tea and locking the baby alone in the house. The second she started to cry, he broke the window and climbed in to rescue her. It is sad tonight that so many of the people who were actively involved in welcoming and loving baby Joanna are dead. Joanna, however, thrives. happy birthday sweet daughter.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Today was a better day. I finished my apologies and amends for yesterday's mistake. I'm excited about celebrating Joanna's birthday tomorrow (dinner out together) and about going to Corpus to see Bob for the weekend. I want to swim in the Gulf one more time before it gets too cold and see the migrating birds. And I want to meet this years class and am scheduled to help a few of the fast finisher polish essays. And of course, it will be good just to be with Bob. I'm taking the super early bus on Friday so I can spend tomorrow evening with Joanna.