Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Main news of the day is that the Friedling is well. The doctor confirms a perfect beginning (seven plus weeks) baby the size of a grain of rice but with eye lenses, a pancreas, and - visible on the sonogram - a beating heart. I cherish each day of this pregnancy and remember my own pregnancies with tenderness. Joanna's too. Children add such sweetnes to our lives.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I was wondering if I had made a mistake allowing two clients with mobility problems come to my house on Mondays - taking away from the whole day off, and I am unusually tired tonight - BUT - and again, confidentiality is vital in my work and a pain in the rear 0 I believe that doing so made an enormous difference today in terms of untangling a lifelong lie that caused someone great suffering. So I'm satisfied tonight if exhausted, and ready to soak in warm water.

I am deeply aware that Ruth has her "confirm pregnancy" appointment tomorrow. I have every hope that's all there will be to it - confirmation of a healthy start to a healthy pregnancy. Ruth and Chris are calling this baby, in utero, "The Friedling", a label I adore. K.K. spent a good part of the weekend looking at diagrams of developing embryos and fetuses, week by week. She is so excited about her hope to "give this baby as much fun as Auntie gave me." Even the boys made frequent references to the baby on the way. I don't think Zach has any idea how long nine months is. He wanted me to have somewhere to put the baby when Auntie came over - and of course in time I will. K.K. wndered what Auntie will look like "when she gets round with that baby." All of us are excited and attached and, no matter waht the outcome, I think this is good.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Good Sunday - Mass today was grand - the celebration of 100 years of worship at that location and the dedication of a new, and lovely, altar table made by a local artist and church member. The bishop was there with his hat and crook and there was a striking parade of priests who had once served at that church, and glorious music. After church the kids and I enjoyed a craft afternoon with our friend Marie - something I've been wanting to do for a long time and finally managed to manage. Marie has been painting as a hobby for fifteen years now and has so much knowledge of paints and brushes and techniques, its really a delight to learn from her and watch her teach the kids. Each participated at his/her level and we all ended up with cool painted rock projects in the end. I'm tired tonight - such a busy weekend and so much logistics and time out in the world - but its good. Life is good.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Today has been a classic good Saturday out with the kids - dance, deli, farmers' market, children's' museum. The people watching was both enjoyable (lots of cute kids, lovey couples, adorable puppies) and thought provoking.

Waiting for K.K. and the ballet academy I met a Jewish single mother of two biracial children adopted through the foster care system - kids who were hurt and rejected and whom she is raising beautifully. We talked about my adoption story and how much harder it is to tell the birth story to kids whose birth situations were traumatic -abused kids than to someone who was simply conceived out of wedlock as I was. She also said that she was glad she had a family that (racially) reflects the real mixture of the population - an interesting concept to me and increasingly true.

Also at the academy I witnessed an incident curing which a toddler fell against a table and cut his eyebrow a little (or so it seemed to me) didn't bleed much or cry for more than a minute - much less dramatic than the time Ruth cut her head open on a table corner while we were waiting outside a theater class on campus for Joanna. That incident took a number of paper towels before the bleeding stopped. and I didn't think medical care was necessary. Today the little boy was taken to the emergency room and both of his parents seemed really upset. I'm wondering if there is a higher standard for safety for children these days or if the difference is just familial. Nobody did anything wrong today. The little boy was toddling, the daddy was watching him and talking to him, he fell, and he just happened to hit wrong. I don't see the need for blame, but it was there. The mother blamed the father and the father blamed the table.

Another odd occurrence was the pro-life rally (complete with Knights of Columbus in full cape and plume, African nuns in blue habits, and bus loads of Lutheran families from Houston). at the park next to the farmers' market. It was odd for me - so excited about the very wanted baby Ruth and Chris are now sweetly calling "the Freidling" and yet pro choice because I don't think reproductive rights are the government's business - to see a crowd of what seemed like good people carrying signs saying "Every child has a heart." and "Children Come From God!!!!" I don't disagree with either statement, but with the purpose for which they were being made today. I'm glad our kids didn't ask me questions about the rally ( I think they just thought it was more farmer's market and were more interested in cinnamon rolls and puppy petting). I still don't know how I would have explained or answered.

The rest of the day has been simpler - just sweet - the first warm day for a couple of weeks. The children's' museum has a new exhibit on sound which was fun. Zachary went after every ever and drum stick with the vigor intrinsic to his personality, getting a huge kick out of being able to make sounds happen by moving. Danny explored every nook and cranny and didn't want to leave. We'll be back.

Tonight I am looking forward to cuddling up with K.K, in my big bed which we enjoy calling "the sea of quilt" and reading to each other a few more chapters of Weedflower and excellent children's book set around the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Bob stayed in Corpus this weekend to avoid contributing so much to global warming (by driving so far so often) and to catch up in his classroom and on preparation for the next three weeks of planning. I hated the idea of his staying away this weekend - really wanted him to be here and to WANT to be here - but in actuality I'm doing fine and having a lovely weekend. Its interesting to stand back from myself and see how much I can upset myself in advance over something that, in reality, isn't a problem at all (and I know he really does want to be with me just is more able to set emotion aside and make decisions for practical reasons) . Definite growing edge there for me.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I've been scrap booking - looking through my parents' high school memorabilia and organizing it. My mother really kept a beautiful crap book of her years as cheer leader and member of just about every club and team in her tiny town high school. she saved her boy friend's cartoons, and notes to and from people I heard about all through my childhood. I think, from reading the notes, that she was a little wilder than she made herself out to be - but the story she told of her high school years matches pretty well with the story in the scrap book. The thing that's odd is that the story in Daddy's yearbooks doesn't match what I remember being told (by Mama, not by Daddy himself) of his extreme accomplishments in high school. He wasn't valedictorian, as I'd been told, not even an honor student. He did the lights for the high school shows and was on the newspaper staff. That's pretty much it, except for a couple of pictures of him squiring beauties. I wonder when and how the story changed. I would have been much more comfortable with the real story - a story more like my own. I really hope I haven't prettied up my stories for future generations. I hope they ring true.
The New York Times just endorsed Hilary Clinton and John McCain to be their parties Presidential candidates. The paper praised Barack OBama as "incandescent" and "a hope" but seems to see Cliton as more read NOW. Many people I reapect think that way. I feel Clinton would do a good job on doestic issues but can't seem to let go of feeling Obama's touch is needed on the international scene - a greater willingness to talk to enemies. I think he is more likely to help recast the United STates as a statesman nation, not a big selfish bully wearing a red white and blue blindfold.

What kind of world do you want? a question asked in a song has led t a project where we can view videos people have made answering that question (or send in our own) to raise funds for causes including Autism Speaks and an organisation which builds homes for disabled returning veterans of war. The link is http://www.whatkindofworlddoyouwant.com/ Warning - poignant and addictive. Also perspective tweaking and worth while. Many of the videos I watched were aobut the worlds families want for their children with autism - and the differing ways these loving families frame their situations intrigue the researcher in me. Clearly families create the frame they need. I wonder if some frames are in general more helpful to the child's development or if the most helpful thing is simply finding a frame that works.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I actually did get some scrap booking done - worked on adding a little to my mother's high school scrapbook - a fascinating chronicle of her teen years - graduating in a very small town with a graduating class of twelve. The graduation cards sent to students in those days were like postcards, printed on one side of a piece of paper and beautifully intricate in design. I like having added them to her book. Now I am adding some of my own notes to her book - my own journaling written on separate pieces of paper - stories she told and didn't put in the book. Creating this annotated version of her original scrapbook is proceeding and is proceeding and I feel like I have a handle on it. All the piles of pictures of other family members is another story all together - but one step at a time. I hope to do more tomorrow night and Friday morning. I'm proud of myself for getting unstuck. Its possible nobody will care about these family pictures and stories in the long run - but at least I will be leaving something that makes sense, not mixed stacks of pictures and artifacts with no stories.Time for bed *past really) long work day tomorrow.
One more poem, and I really will turn the computer off and go do something else.

Waiting Room

I wonder if languages
other than English
label waiting rooms.
Waiting seems so
American. Myself,
I don't wait. I read
until the bus comes.
I actually got home when it was light out (gray and foggy but light) for the first time since probably Halloween. The days are getting a little longer and today was a shorter work day - a sweet combination. I'm hoping to use the longer evening to get something (maybe scrap booking) done in 3 d as opposed to cyberspace.

I like one of the challenge poems I wrote this week for Skywriters.


Same hands
give and receive,
explore and act,
create and destroy,
nurture and torture,
accept and rebuff
its all in the use,
same hands.

I read an article published on the Internet and falsely attributed to CBS reporter. Andy Rooney today which offended me Of course the false attribution but so does the article itself, talking about why the writer likes women over forty - and I found it not funny at all and sexist (anti men and buying it that most men buy lookism and agism and that most women believe most men are essentially big pigs with a small sausage attached. It was written - I guess - tongue in cheek - but it didn't describe the world I feel I live in or the world I want my grand kids to grow up in - made me very sad when it was supposed to amuse. I really believe it is possible to get past looksism, agism, and sexism and all live together as the authentic imperfect individuals we are. But people have always called me idealistic. I hope realistic too. I don't want to see realism and idealism as opposites - but that one must have the latter to implement the former.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I am noticing things about myself tonight.

I was utterly thrilled with the news that Ruth and Chris are going to have a baby, and deeply honored to be the first family member told - and yet I realis from reading Ruth's blog that my immediate response was subdued compare to others. No tears, no happy dances at the table, just deep quiet pleasure for them. I don't think I feel less. I am very willing to commit eotionally to this pregnancy. I'm not a WASP, and don't think of myself as being especially restrained emotionally - but - I don't know. I am excited and delighted about this pregnancy and will look more at my style of reacting to good news. People need to be able to tell one is excited and delighted - right?

Also, I seem to be having trouble thinking of things to write about that aren't related to other people - to my roles in support of and realtion to other people. I don' t think htat's always true, but it is right now.

I also seem to be procrastinating scrapbooking - which I think I really want to do and believe is important. I don't want family stories lost - so off computer - to scrapbooking room.

Monday, January 21, 2008

N o redeeming social value - just for fun. A friend shared this game, and so will I
Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following...They have to be real places, names, things...nothing made up! Try to usedifferent answers if the person in front of you had the same 1st initial.(WHICH BY THE WAY IS HARD IF YOU ALREADY READ THEIR ANSWERS) You CAN'T use your name for the boy/girl.

4 letter word:
Boy name:
Girl name:
Alcoholic Drink:
something you wear:
Food: Something found in a bathroom:
Reason for being late:
Cartoon character:
something you shout:
Body part:
Word to describe you:

And here's my v version

4 letter word: vast
Vehicle: Volkswagen bug
City: Venice
Boy name: Vladimir
Girl name: Violet
Alcoholic Drink: viodka
Occupation:, violinist
something you wear: vest
Celebrity: Vince Young
Food: vermicelli
Something found in a bathroom: Visine.
Reason for being late: voting
Cartoon character: Velma (in Scooby Doo)
something you shout: Vaya Con Dios!
Animal: vole
Body part: vena cava
Word to describe you: versatile
Bob and I were going to hike today but it rained - cold drizzly rain - so we stayed close to home and looked through boxes in the storage unit and paid bills and talked politics and did laundry and just enjoyed each other. I needed that, I think, and so did he as he gets ready for the big and intimidating push toward the TAKS tests.

Last week was such a roller coaster - minor ailments, car trouble, (which turned out to be just the battery but scared us) , everyday struggles with priorities and choices, client struggles, locking myself out of the office in the cold, Bob locking his cell phone in the apartment, and on and on. A meeting I hoped would lead a step closer to the publication of my book got postponed. And it just kept drizzling on cold gray days.

Then Ruth all of a sudden announced she is PREGNANT after all this time - then I got the treat of watching K.K. dance jazz and boy did she bring it - and then her jazz and tap teachers (Broadway pros both and great guys) told me that they see K.K. as extraordinary, one of a kind with a combination of talent, work ethic, understanding of dance and ability to take feedback and not be intimidated, looks, gymnastics background, and spirit that will serve her well in making her dance dreams come true. They say they see themselves as her dance godfathers. She couldn't do better.

Emotionally I think I got tired out - too many ups and downs - too much cortisol in my body and by yesterday I was anxious and cranky - just overly tightly wired - even though happy underneath . Today was a good antidote with the easy pace.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Yesterday began a new chapter. I wrote on my birthday that the last few years had not been transition years for our family - no births , no close deaths except family elders. That all has just changed. After five years of yearning and much doubt and sadness, RUTH IS PREGNANT. Just barely - and f course pregnancy is an uncertain course and there is a part of me that was standing back a little from the joy of this news, staying rational, objective. But today Ruth posted the news on her blog - complete with glowing pictures of herself and Chris (who has been yearning for family as much as she has) and she wrote that she isn't holding back. She is rejoicing, and if she loses this pregnancy, then she will grieve and we can grieve with her. I love that transparency - not reason to keep our joys and sorrows close - so many reasons to invite intimacy by letting our life cycle events be known. So, while last night, after just getting the news, I was guardedly optimistic, deeply tender towards Ruth and Chris, tonight I would be turning cartwheels if I could do so without breaking my neck. I'm imagining/remembering baby Ruth in the cradle of my arms, the warmth of her little head, the soft skin under wispy curls, the tiny hand grasping at my hair, stroking my face. I'm remembering baby sell, the weight of head in crook of arm - and I'm thrilled and hopeful and ready for a new chapter.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Small workd is a cliche - but sometimes the coincidences surprise me - especially Internet related. K.K. will be dancing this summer in Ballet Austin's Sumer Intensive dance program - and dancing with her will be the grand daughter of one of the women (a retired teacher from New Jersey) who I met in an online chat group. It really is a world I wouldn't have imagined possible.
Its been a weird mix of a day - cold and damp. I had good clients and feel like I did good work with them, am caught up with most of the details around house and office. I'm writing fiction again - not sure if it's decent, but I'm writing. Bob will be home for three nights starting tomorrow and that feels great. his tooth ache went away but he'll see a dentist tomorrow anyway. He's stressing about beginnning a new semester, working hard to teach the kids writing, and they are learning. He tries so hard. I love that man.

I freaked myself out this evening by locking my purse with money and keys in the front office at work so I was out in the lobby with my coat and book bag but no money and no cell phone and had to get home - close to nine this evening. I walked the short distance to the little family drug store I've been using for years and asked the pharmacist Doug if I could borrow fifty cents from the tip jar to ride the bus home. He said "Sure," and we laughed together. I really love the security of my life - being in the same place around the same people long enough that even when I do something stupid I have a safety net. I could have slept in the offfice lobby on the couch if I'd had to, but its good that I got home where I could eat and write. I had half a minute of feeling maybe five percent of the fear and isolation of being homeless on a cold night. Maybe more like one percent.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tonight after work my business partners and I started what we hope will be a long running tradition of Listening Tree parties on Martin Luther King's real birthday. This year wasn't much - thrown together at the last minute, but better than last year and the year before when we had the idea but did nothing. Next year, with a little history behind us, maybe we will manage to invite more people and have more of a do. But this year was good - just partners and office mates and one of their two year old daughters plus everybody's last client. We had fruit and barbecue and talked politics and family and and were black and white together and from different backgrounds and circumstances. It was a tiny island but one bright little maifestation of the "I Have A Dream" speech. One thing that gets to me is that, growing up as de facto segregated as I did, this simple integrated gathering still seems like a little miracle. Which my daughters think is very odd. It ought to be odd. Rather it strikes me tonight as truly sad. I think about all the blood that has been shed all over the world about differences in race and religion and I just want to cry.

So Happy Birthday Dr. King. And thnak you.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A friend shared these lyrics from an ld Jewish theater song "Milk and Honey" and they seemed like something I should have known and wanted to share. Makes me smile.


Shalom,Shalom,You'll find Shalom
The nicest greeting you know;
It means bonjour, salud, and skoal
And twice as much as hello.
It means a million lovely things,
Like peace be yours,Welcome home.
And even when you say goodbye,
You say goodbye with Shalom.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I didn't expect Bob to come home this weekend but he had laryngitis and didn't teach Friday so he came and I really enjoyed the extra time with him. He wasn't sick really, just not audible - so of course teaching wouldn't have worked. He and I didn't talk as much as usual, which was sweet in its way - lots of touch and a quiet kind of togetherness that I used to find boring and have come to appreciate better. We had the grand kids with us for only a few hours this weekend cherished unexpected time alone together.

I also spent many hours doing critiques of some of twenty two fourth grade writing projects. The kids each wrote about a good day with friends or family and the range of experiences as well as the range of eloquence was huge. The writing part of my brain is worn out from trying to help the kids get a sense of flow and organization - not rules but a sense of the feel of a piece when it works. That's a hard thing to do anyway, and I really tried hard to fine tune the critiques to give enough food for growth but not to discourage anyone.

The good news is that some of the kids really are able to write in a way that their spirit and unique voice come through. One girl always writes something delightful and this time she really had me laughing at her account of playing dress up at the mall with her best friend (looking like a Christmas ornament in a long red and green dress) and then accidentally overturning a mountain of Hannah Montana dolls and struggling to undo the damage. Her knack for dialog and her strong spirit please me. She also is the one who wrote a fast moving description of losing her brakes downhill on a bike and managing not to crash. I am so glad Bob is teaching school and letting me get a glimpse at the lives of his students.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Might as well share a new addiction. I've spent the last hour playing a game called Traveler's IQ. The link is The Traveler IQ Challenge. The task is to find various cities, landmarks, capitals on a world map. It shows you how many kilometers off you are and where the place is actually located. I' not very good at it, but actually do feel a little more geography savy after my hour of play.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

First day back at work felt good. I love what I do and the setting in which I do it. Tired though.

I've caught up on emails and feel connected to the people I love. I'm reading Jimmy Carter's book of poetry, Always a Reckoning, which is really a memoir in verse, capturing important people, places and memories in his life. He writes gently with an underlying sense of fairness and a touch of irony. He places himself in time and place. The issue isn't whether he is or is not a great poet but whether his gift of poems is worth receiving. For me it is. I'm glad this wise good man captured himself in verse and opens his pages to us.

The More Things Change

In a musty attic box I found letters of my family in the War-

-from places like Bull Run and Gettysburg
and places seldom mentioned in the books.
They said Jeb Stuart had praised some of them,

who served a cause and often gave their lives
not knowing how to tell the history they made, except a private's
point of view set down in a simple line or two:
"We have about a half enough to eat, green beef and flour,

but very little salt. Our company left Savannah heading north,
there was a hundred twenty-five of us, but since then
many of my friends have died so now they's only thirty-six left to fight.
I tell you, Mother, I am well but am not satisfied."

Jimmy Carter

Monday, January 07, 2008

I was going to write about our beach week with the kids day by day, but that would take so long and life here at home is starting up again, work in about eight hours and some of that should be spent sleeping. So I'll try a new form - a highlights form.

Summary first: On Danny's ninth birthday Bob took our children and K'K's best friend Allison down to the beach condo for a week. I joined them late that night after Sophie's memorial service and a wonderful visit with relatives from my mother's family. Ruth and Chris drove me down and stayed with us until New Year's Day.

The first days were warm (or at least not cold) - allowing the kids to run into the Gulf of Mexico on more than one occasion. The first evening Chris and Ruth saved a life. a fifteen year old homeschooler had been getting surfing lessons when stung by a Portuguese Man O War - or something. She had an allergic reaction, began to go into shock, which Chris recognised because of his peanut allergy. The young woman had an epi pin with her, but her friend injected it incorrectly (into her own thumb) and the shock progressed. Ruth had an epinephrine inhaler with her, which they gave the young woman and Chris helped her stay alert until the ambulance came. We were all a bit shaken, especially the kids, but I'm so proud of Chris' quick thinking.

At the aquarium Danny's favorite thing was the diver demonstration in the tank - feeding the fish. In fact, as much as he loves being on the beach that was his highlight of the whole trip. That boy LOVES watching fish. Also, we got to show Allison, who wants to be a marine biologist and adores dolphins, her first wild dolphins from the ferry.

We did all our traditional cool Corpus things including the carousel at the mall. K.K. can't get enough of the spinner, EVER.

It was a joy having Allison with us and watching her friendship with K.K. and even with the boys. I kept getting struck by the fact that these kids are having their happy childhood RIGHT NOW and Bob and I get to be part of it and enrich it.

Zachary rides a scooter fiercely and with great joy but sufficient caution, K.K. like the dancer she is in full arabesque, Danny and Allison like a regular kids. Danny is getting seriously good at Foosball and K.K.'s ping pong has improved greatly. Mine too.

The Iowa Caucus excited us. Go Obama!

On Friday I got to meet Bob's class and conference with a number of his students who are especially interested in writing. They are so sweetly open with the truths of their lives - wishing for money to buy a camera to be able to keep a scrapbook of pictures of friends and family, concern and relief that a cousin recently shot in an ambush in Iraq and recovering now at home, worry about a cousin in another family who has run away, the plot of a fantasy story about a boy who day dreams and meets magical creatures in a wood. I love these kids - wish I could teleport and live my life here but see them a couple of times a week too.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Another New Year's Exercise

My online message board group came up with a challenge to list memorable years in our lives.

1960 -1969 - abuse by neighborhood boys in Houston in 1960 - escaped to camp, then moved to California where I felt safe and was happy, eventually found a wonderful group of friends in a magnet arts and liberal arts school, thrived

1969 - high school graduation, craziness around threatened kidnap and threat on Daddy's life. I left my protected California princess world for the University of Texas where, within two weeks I met my future husband and by best friend to this day - also the year I first felt for sure that my father was proud of me.

1974 - graduated from college, married Kerry against my mother's furious objections and learned that she was big enough to admit she had been wrong, started graduate school

1975-1985 - the pink bubble decade - so happy, in grad school and loving it but going slow enough to mostly be home with my girls , crazy in love with Kerry, improved relationship with my mother - all was well

1985-1986 - bubble burst - house fire and remodel, Kerry diagnosed with cancer and died within nine months, started practice at The Listening Tree, began single mother period, expected too much of my girls, put one foot in front of the other , made it through

1990 - met (reintroduced to) and fell in love with and married Bob - so much good and hard in creating a blended family, learned or began to about birding and hiking the New Mexico mountains

1996 - Joanna's wedding and I became a grandmother for the first time (K.K. on the ten year anniversary of Kerry's death), a blessing repeated in 1998 (Danny) and 2001 (Zachary)

1997 on - decline of my mother's health, her death in 1999 and my Dad's in 2000, Ruth's wedding in 2000,

2001 - wrote my novel

2003 - present - Bob completed career change to education and got job in Corpus Christi, we learned that we could live apart and still be strong as a couple -I hit my stride as therapist and grandmother - Bob his as a teacher (nominated for teacher of the year this year), new bubble years - not pink- fall colors - maybe a russet bubble. Golden sounds too cheesy.