Friday, January 30, 2009

Short post tonight. Bob will be home any minute after a frustrating work week teaching kids who were keyed up and not paying attention. I want to welcome him to a peaceful weekend - no more stress. I'm thankful for my own work week, busy, productive, but not difficult or stressful.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Last night was my first experience with reading a piece of a published essay at a book event. The book is STRICKEN, The 5,000 Stages of Grief. And WOW! The reading was an amazing event. The local independent book store ( Book People) expected (set up chairs for) about 50 people and closer to 200 showed up - maybe more. They stood and milled all around in back and way off to the sides of the original seating area, so it was hard to tell. My friend, one of the co-editors (Spike Gillespe) is quite a local character and much loved in liberal Austin circles. She was a wonderful host for the proceeding and said kind things about many of us who read, and about me in particular. Ruth, Chris, Ruth's friend Bryn my business partner Bill, and several clients and friends came mostly for me, and the support felt great.

I think I read well - Ruth and Chris and Bryn said I read well. I'd been really nervous for most of a week, but calmed down as time got closer and after I had practiced and timed my reading about 20 times ( Who has or at least an anxiety disorder and a tendency to over prepare? Not me, never!) Five minutes goes fast in a reading. I had to edit carefully to stay in the time allotted. I was also calmed and centered greatly by the advice of a friend to remember the needs of the audience, rather than focusing on my own feelings. That worked.

Apparently I brought many people to tears, which was not my intention, but which was OK in a grief context. I was moved to tears myself by the pain and recovery and impressed by the writing of many of the other contributors. I got amazing lengthy applause, which felt good - and the books sold fast enough that the book store people had to replace the initial stash on the table up front. Contributors will get our books soon. The books are available for prepurchase on line and will will be widely available in Mach. There's actually a social network for contributors too and fans of the book, which is kind of cool. I just joined. One can also purchase books there.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

In the sleety night I stepped out onto the porch just to look at the sky and the trees and was startled to see a beautiful, fat, brilliant crimson cardinal taking shelter in my hedge, just a few feet from my front door. I was both delighted and concerned, but he was gone in the morning, so I assue he survived both ice and neighborhood cats. Caleb, our cat, was intdoors with me, staying warm, no threat to feathered beauties.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's sleety out - always an unpleasant novelyty in Austin. I keep peaking out hte door and watching the wind stir the hedges. Cold out there! And I'm nervous about reading my grief essay at Book People tomorrow night. A friend reinded me to think about hte listeners, not myself - and that helps. Both the weather and stage fright make me choose today's quote.

Art - and life - is about improvisation, discovery and awe. It is about leaning over the edge and staring deep into the abyss. It's about staring into our own inadequacies and, just as we think we might come up short, finding the answer that we need was there all the time. As we create we not only reveal Reality, we reveal ourselves.
Todd Henry

Monday, January 26, 2009

"This moment of peril must be turned to one of progress," President Barack Obama

I'll take that as the quote of the day, whether we're talking about global national, or personal issues. Seems like many people I know are struggling - and achieving transformations - on all fronts.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I'm happy tonight, glowing, so pleased with my two pregnant daughters and my good close friends. Both daughters are well showered now. And my room is becoming a nest or grandbaby rocking. I write with a smile on my face.

We were made to enjoy music, to enjoy beautiful sunsets, to enjoy looking at the billows of the sea and to be thrilled with a rose that is bedecked with dew… Human beings are actually created for the transcendent, for the sublime, for the beautiful, for the truthful... and all of us are given the task of trying to make this world a little more hospitable to these beautiful things.
Desmond Tutu

Saturday, January 24, 2009

There's a new White House web site for the new administration - very cool, with everything from historic White House pets and quotes and biographies from former Presidents to Obama policies on just about everything of importance to an up to date blog on Presidential actions and a video of his first weekly address (this time about the recovery program). White House web site is Thanks Mary J.

People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering.
St. Augustine

Friday, January 23, 2009

Disturbing today. I learned that an eighty five yeat old woman was burned to death in a house fire last week on the street I walk down to the bus stop. I was reminded of our own terrible house fire and my terror believing Joanna had burned to death. I am shaken thinking about that woman's terror trapped in her house, and hoping that, even given how she died, she was satisfied with having been able to stay in her house to the end of her life. I think that would be true for me - even in the face of the terror of a firey death. This incident somehow makes me want to work for a renewal of a clser neighborly feel.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I think I need a new theme now that Martin Luther King Day and the inauguration are behind us and the babies aren't quite here yet. I am short on words, but want to keep up the habit of writing something here every day. I have noticed this week that economic anxieties are hitting a wide variety of people I know and meet, at work and otherwise, and it is hard not to feel anxious around all that anxiety. I keep just breathing in and breathing out - knowing worrying doesn't help. That's true about anxiety about my daughters and their babies too. I heard a story this week of a young woman who is terribly ill wiht HELLP syndrome after giving birth to her twins, and it scares me. And I work to keep breathing in and breathing out and avoid calling daughters every few hours to ask about their blood pressure and the presence of any other symptoms. THey are fine. I know they are fine. And worrying won't keep them fine. And if I bug them they will just get scared themselves or swat me. I wrote a poem to my worry.


Worry, you gnaw
under ribs, howl
like winter wind.
I starve you, refuse
to toss you worst
case scenarios,
change all I can,
center energy,
inhale, exhale
pray, create,
use every skill
I've learned.
Still, you gnaw,
worry. I accept you.

Victoria Hendricks,
January 21, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

First day of new administration - hope still rising. It's quiet here tonight - long but good work day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Poems for this Inauguration day - mine first - then the official praise song for the day written by Elizabeth Alexander. I'm still smiling everytime I hear the words "President" and "Obama" in the sae sentence.


No blood in the streets,
just marching bands,
tumblers, troops dancing,
guns lowered, salutes
exchanged, Ritual letter
left in drawer of Presidential
desk. Civilized passage of
mantle. Whatever happens
tomorrow,, I am thankful for
national tradition and institutions
which allow orderly change,
no blood in the streets.

Victoria Hendricks - January 20, 2009

'Praise Song for the Day'

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

ALEXANDER: A farmer consider the changing sky; A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words, Words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; Words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side; I know there’s something better down the road.”

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

Elizabeth Alexander
I've been watching and listening to the inauguration of President Barack Obama all day - thank goodness for a liberal client base. Nobody wanted to do therapy today. I love our new President's speech, its inclusions of a balanced sense of our nation's history, not just the prouder moments. I like the call to live from our higher natures. He doesn't say "love not ego", but I think he says it in his own way, in his own words. It is my prayer for him, for all who work closely with him - that they come, every moment from love, not ego. In that vein, I love Obama's responsibility focus, and the statement that we need to "Pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off." his wish for us was that we proceed in hope, not fear - and I'll take that one, for sure.

It's been fun to watch the Obamas have fun - clearly enjoying the parade, the music, the bands. I like it that Michelle Obama lets herself move to the music, free relaxed. Barack Obama too seems so alive, moving to music. And of course, the little girls are darling.

I have especially been enjoying the interviews with people who were there throughout the Civil Rights Movement. I could hardly hear John Lewis over my own crying. He's come a long way from being beaten over the head on the Edmund Pettis Bridge.

I loved seeing Ted Kennedy able to participate in the festivities before he had a seizure at the celebration luncheon I just heard that he will probably be dismissed from the hospital tomorrow and that his seizure was probably caused by fatigue. I remember that Bobby Kennedy predicted that one day we would elect an African American President. I don't know how many believed him. Well, you were right Bobby. Wish you were here today

I hope that Hilary Clinton is confirmed tomorrow despite a certain idiot from Texas. I just heard the confirmation that Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama's mother will be living at the White House, which I think is good. The Obamas seem to be thoroughly enjoying the day. I believe they both understand how serious their work is, the work they have to do - but I think they are taking a break today and enjoying it. Me too. It feels so good to have this inauguration happening. Someone, maybe Jesse Jackson, refered to Dr. Martin Luther King as "the prophet and the President" - gives me good chills.

Even in all the excitement the stock market fell 350 more points. In the morning the work will get going for good. I am thankful to live in a country in whcich the transfer of power is orderly and civilized, decided by voters even in times of crisis. Right now on our TV former President Bush just called President Obama "a good man" and offered up prayers for him. So different than a coup.
I've been watching and listening all day - thank goodness for a liberal client base. Nobody wanted to do therapy today. I love the speech, its inclusions of a balanced sense of our nation's history, not just the prouder moments. I like the call to live from our higher natures. He doesn't say "love not ego", but I think he says it in his own way, in his own words

I love the responsibility focus, and the statement that we need to "Pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off."

I've also loved watching all the interviews and just watching the Obamas and the Bidens, especially those of people who were there throughout the Civil Rights Movement. I could hardly hear John Lewis over my own crying. He's come a long way from being beaten over the head on the Edmund Pettis Bridge.

I just heard that Ted Kennedy will probably be dismissed from the hospital tomorrow and that his seizure was probably caused by fatigue - as I think you wrote earlier - good to hear that more than once I hope that Hilary Clinton is confirmed tomorrow despite a certain idiot from Texas. I just heard the confirmation that Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama's mother will be living at the White House, which I think is good. I'm of the camp who believes the Obamas are thoroughly enjoying the day. I believe they both get how serious their work is, the work they have to do - but I think they are taking a break today and enjoying it. Me too. It feels so good to have this inauguration happening.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The time is always right to do what is right.
Martin Luther King Jr.

Today of course, was the actual holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, and I close my series of quotes from this great visionary with the one which I find simplest to remember if difficult to consistently enact.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today was a day of brotherhood and sisterhood - sitting with family and old friends, singing, exchanging gifts - laughing, remembering crying together, watching a new generation of children grow and awaiting two more babies.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

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

I chose this quote for today because we've been watching, of and on, President Elect Obama and his family as they take the train from Philadelphia to Washington DC, emulating Lincoln's whistle stop trip to take office. It has been inspiring seeing the confidence and joy in the Obamas, and the hope and excitement in the cold crowds - no starless midnight.

It has been a crazy busy day and I feel off center but not unhappy - actually pretty happy, just stressed. Ruth's sisters-in-law gave a lovely shower for her and Chris this morning, really sweet. I enjoyed meeting more of Ruth's friends and seeing again a young woman, now at the University of Texas, who was one of Chris's students and debaters when he taught in Jourdonton.

This evening Bob and I started a tradition of every other week music appreciation, spaghetti supper with international dessert Saturday nights with the grand kids. We listened to Shoebird - a story with music in the tradition of Peter and the Wolf, based on a story by Eudora Welty. I think we started a little too late, because Zachary fell asleep and Danny was fighting sleep by the end, but all of us enjoyed at least parts of the story and music - K.K. definitely liked the story of birds getting shoes and then discovering that they could no longer fly. So did I.

Our dessert, like our music, and appropriate to inauguration week, I think, was American: two pies, one cherry, one apple. I tasted both but didn't over eat - and am pleased that my weight is at it's low (just barely) since I started losing in August, after a little expected blip for the holidays. On another food note, Danny continues to be our foodie in training. K.K. and Zachary are good eaters but like their food plain and predictable. Not Danny. He reminded me tonight that he wanted his sauce out of the pot I made for Bob and me - spicier with mushrooms and he tried both pies, deciding he preferred cherry. He is the one who asks me what spice I'm putting in something and why and who reminds me that he wants to taste anything new I cook. I enjoy that about him.

K.K. is growing up so. She went today to a bat Mitzvah for a dancer friend, and is going to a party at the Main Event (bowling and other games) for the same girl tomorrow. Almost all the kids from the Level 4b ballet class attended the bat mitzvah, (including Ian looking according to K.K. VERY GOOD< not just good, Grandma). They seemed very grown up and elegant attending together. I'm proud of our girl.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

That quote is especially powerful for me. I'm not thinking as much about religious faith, exactly, at least not any partiular theology, but about the choice to put one foot in front of the other and take the next little risk, to keep loving and lifing actively, knowing that the bottom can fall out in any way at any moment. I have no idea what the whole staircase looks like, and know I can't know. Taking each step is enough.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

For an encouraging (to me at least) glimpse of President-elect Barack Obama's dreams for his own daughters and all our children, check out this link:

In the same vein - my Martin Luther King Jr. quote for the day is about his dream for his children. We all know this quote, but it seems especially relevant with Barack Obama about to take the Presidential oath.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tonight I'm thinking about Gaza, and all the sorrow and violence between Isreal and Palestinians. This situation stymies me. I don't know how it will ever be resolved.
Martin Luther King Jr said:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

My prayer is that somehow, love, not fear, ego, revenge guide decisions regarding Gaza.

My poem on the subject is one I would never have written if my friend Diane hadn't given us a terribly difficult prompt in Skywriters.

Unholy Land

Gaza Strip.
Golan Heights.
Holy Land.
Unholy land.
Jew kills Arab mother.
Arab kills Jewish child.
Jewish father weeps.
Arab father mourns.
Jews feel they are victims,
figting to keep homeland.
Arabs feel they are victims
fighting to claim homeland.
Killing will continue
as long as both peoples
believe pain allows violence.

Victoria Hendricks, January 14, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In terms of both the inauguration and service in general, I am thinking about power, its use and misuse.

I am not interested in power for power's sake, but I'm interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Transfer of Power - Inauguration, 2009

My power to do good and my power
to do harm are equal. The difference is choice.
Same for George Bush. Same for Barack Obama.

George Bush, as you remove Presidential mantle,
you know, we know, the choices you made
History will tally result, good and harm together.

Barack Obama, as you receive Presidential mantle,.
remember it's weight, it's purpose, earth's need.
Your people pray you use its power for good.

Victoria Hendricks, January 12, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Martin Luther King Holiday and Barack Obama's inauguration day both approach. I'm excited that the Obamas want us to reframe the MLK holiday into a day of service and voluntarism. If you want to find an opportunity near you, use this link, There are any opportunities in Austin, including food bank related efforts and street and park clean up. Bob will be home that day and I expect we will do something, and maybe walk, as we have a number of years, in the MLK Day parade from East Austin (historically black part of town) to the Capitol steps.

I'm hoping to feature a different MLK quote each day until his birthday. I'll start with the one Michelle Obama used in her letter to supporters regarding volunteerism.

"If you want to be important -- wonderful. If you want to be recognized -- wonderful. If you want to be great -- wonderful. But, recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That's a new definition of greatness."

Martin Luther King Jr.

And I wrote a poem tonight, as a response to Belle's prompt in Skywriters, about the innauguration:

Inauguration - 2009

I would love to dance holes in my shoes
at a ball this year, dress in velvet, wear
emeralds, celebrate hope, vigor, change.
And I know the country, the world, sit
teetering at the edge of economic, political,
environmental, emotional, moral, abyss
and I wonder if anyone should be dancing.
I smile when I imagine Barack Obama
standing out in a cold January morning
offering us words of strength, hope, change.
I hope, I pray, he will put those words to work.
I hope I pray, those actions will be sufficient.

Victoria Sullivan Hendricks, 1-12-2009

What a weekend! I am so blessed in my loves, my life. Bob came home Friday night, which is always a treat, and immersed me in culture and nature. Fun! Bob and I also went to the symphony, hiked at our favorite local park, and watched the excellent film of the modernized Antigone from the Broadway Archives series which is available from both Blockbuster and Net flicks. This one had a young Genevieve Bujold as a superb Antigone. We put a bunch of other plays from this series in our wish list from the rental services. Exciting.

I'm proud of Bob and me on the domestic front. I did a good job of Weight Watchers precooking - including a rich red sauce with turkey and mushrooms over whole wheat rotini that really pleases me. WE also are well on the way to setting up a "baby nook" in our bedroom - all to be ready for visiting tinies.

This evening I got to see both daughters, beautiful in the last months of their pregnancies. And I got a tamale making lesson from Chris - not as hard as I expected and great results. He's so patient and sweet and good at teaching.

I'm looking forward to getting some photo organizing done during my day off tomorrow.

Friday, January 09, 2009

I'm work weary on this Friday night but satisfied with the work week and my writing week. Bob will be home in just an hour or so, so I want to get myself and the house ready for his arrival. I'm missing him even more than usual after having gotten used to being together during winter break.

My writers group had a challenge this week (thank you Judy) of coming up with a prayer to the prompt of "If I had one Prayer." Early on this Shabbat, here's mine:

One Prayer

If I had one prayer,
I would keep it simple.
Open my eyes in each
moment to the next right
action. Guide mouth,
hands, feet in execution.
Show me how to live love

Victoria Sullivan Hendricks - January 9, 2009

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Another good ordinary day. I keep writing the same things - that I''m so fortunate to have a ob I love and to know it. But it's true.

Today's quote reflects the beauty in ordinary days.

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

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Good ordinary day - fully back in the flow at work and loving it. So far so good (knock on my wooden head) regarding the economy's effect on my practice. I'm fortunate so far. ALso fortunate to love my work and the people with whom I work. A new year's quote greeting that I like follows I don't know the author, but like the sentiments.

I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.

Neil Gaiman

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

First day back at work was good - felt efficient and helpful and in my element. After work I went out to eat with Ruth and Chris and then sent the evening with her at their house, in Liam's bright nursery, sorting little clothes into size categories and petting baby toys. They have little stations for Liam in every room - the cosleeper in the bedroom, little swing in the kitchen, bouncy seat in the nursery, bassinet in the livingroom, and, of course, car seat in the car (to be properly installed by firemen) and crib in the nursery. It is beautiful to see this house, which I remember Ruth buying as a young single woman, transforming into a haven for herself and Chris as a couple, now transforming again into a family home.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Emilie, the young mother with sarcoma of whom I wrote recently died quietly with her husband holding her hand on December 24. It sounds much like Kerry's death, wrapped in the peace that passeth understanding, though I'm sure terrible grief waves will hit Stephen, her husband and the boys in the months that follow. I'm also certain that waves of returning life force will follow. In honor of Emilie's life and her sharing of her last years and her deep feelings about her threatening death, I want to share both the quote she requested Stephen share on her blog and the link to the article she recently wrote for a Catholic newspaper - the one that talks about the difference between happiness and joy. The link is

And the quote:

"And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth."

Thank you Emilie for your generosity of spirit, your depth of sharing - and peace, compassion, and eventually the return of hope and joy to Stephen and the boys.

Also seems like a good time to share a poem I put in the chapbook about the peace around Kerry's death.

Thank You

I sobbed against your chest. "I can't live without you."
You knew I had to. You assured me I’d do a damn good job
of living without you, told me you hoped marriage with you
had been so very wonderful I would choose to love,
live, hope, laugh, marry again. You never let me know if you
regretted the years you wouldn't have, never moaned you
wouldn't dance at our daughters' weddings, rock grand babies
who had your eyes. You kept your vows, released me with love.
I told you yes I would raise the girls as we had begun,
in hope, awe, adventure, curiosity, dreams, open hearted.
I would live, not die. I told you to stop fighting death, witnessed
your last breath, kept my vows, released you with love.

Victoria Hendricks, November, 2008
A Jewish Prayer for Darfur

By Margie Klein

Merciful Creator, please give us the strength to move our hearts to action.

Every day we give thanks to You for our redemption from Egypt, for our freedom as individuals and as a nation. I feel blessed that I have the freedom to work, to study, and to enjoy time with family and friends.

But across the ocean, in a refugee camp in Darfur, I have a sister who is not so fortunate. She is short and fiery like me, she loves dancing like me, and telling stories to children. Her skin is darker than mine, her language different, but we are sisters.

God, my sister is afraid for her life; afraid for her body; afraid for her children. She cries out to You on behalf of her people. She utters her own version of the Amidah – “Sh’ma Koleinu, Hear our voice, Lord our God, pity us, save us, accept our prayers with compassion and kindness.” She prays with every fiber of her being.

But she and I both know that You will not, cannot, act alone.

Source of compassion, let my sister’s cry pierce our hearts like the wailing sound of the shofar. And once our hearts have been opened, help us move from prayer to action; let our action stir others to act as well.

God of Memory, help us to remember our sisters and brothers in Darfur even when it is easier to turn away. Let us hear the echo of their prayers deep within us.

Blessed Redeemer, who liberated our ancestors from Egyptian bondage, help us to take up the mantle of Moses, Aaron and Miriam, and do all that we can to help liberate the people of Darfur, so that they may enter the promised land of freedom, dignity, and hope.

Used by permission of author, co-editor of Righteous Indignation: A Jewish Call for Justice
Proud of myself even though I'm up way too late. I participated in a poetry challenge in November, writing a poem a day on a theme I chose - open and shut. Robert Brewer, the poet who orchestrated the challenge extended it into December by suggesting we edit and improve our poems and submit them to him in actual chapbook form with a table of contents and everything, and I did it (barely under the wire which really isn't like me but my computer was not working well on my birthday when I planned to submit. Anyway, I did it and I'm thrilled. And excited that several others in my writers' group submitted too. Skywriters rock! Robert is actually making the submissions into a contest, and I admit I wouldn't be surprised if any of us is his chosen winner. I also feel fully satisfied just having made myself submit.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Joe, you asked about hawks and eagles on the refuge. We saw many northern harriers (marsh hawks) and several beautiful red tail hawks. Kites and bald eagles were spotted while we were on the refuge but we did not see eagles. Bob may have gotten a glimpse of the kite. We've seen them on the refuge before. All of us were interested in the flight of the hawks over the expanding prairie dog colony, and in the prairie dog's noisy announcement of predators overhead.

So many have written that the kids are fortunate to have Bob and me to take them on trips. Thank you for the words of affirmation. And I want to state the truth that the good fortune really flows both ways. We are fortunate to be grand parents young enough and healthy enough and with enough resources and close enough physically and emotionally to our daughters to be able to take grand kids on trips. We are fortunate to have healthy grand kids who can travel and aren't on chemo or otherwise too ill to join us. We are fortunate to have grand kids who like to hike, like to visit aquarius, museums and such, have decent manners most of the time, like each other, and like us. I realize that many girls K.K.'s age wouldn't think traveling with grand parents and little brotherw was glorious. We are fortunate on so many fronts.
Bob and I are enjoying our last day of break at the house together, children safely delivered to their home last night. Yesterday was exiting, a highlight for K.K. and Danny who were just in heaven at the Dallas World Aquarium, where they saw not just the quiet enigmatic manatees but a beautiful young jaguar (K.K's school mascot, who entertained by rolling and playing), simulated rain forest habitat with lots of birds and monkeys, bright colored, giant billed, playful. The aquarium was crowded, which was hard for Zachary at his height, but he managed to see enough, especially enjoyed the feeding of the outdoor, warm weather penguins and an arched aquarium in which we sat under and surrounded by sharks and rays of many kinds - really impressive.

On the way home we finished a family project of rating, individually a menu of fifty songs Bob selected for our enjoyment - and for the children to have in their MP3 players. The activity was really fun - and the songs a treat ranging from the ballads of Robin Hood and Davy Crockett through bubblegum music of my own sixth grade year (Purple People Eater and Monster Mash), lots of Peter Paul and Mommy, to freedom songs of the civil rights movement and some fun kids songs by They Might Be Giants. The children have grown up on some of these songs in our car. K.K. calls the Peter Paul and Mommy "joyful music". Their tastes are beginning to individualize. I think K.K. likes songs she can dance to and Danny likes songs he can sing, and songs with great heart. Zach particularly liked several by They Might Be Giants, and anything with dinosaurs in it.

Bob not only is instrumental in planning these wonderful trips, but he is the one who remembers to stop to EAT - which is a great blessing to growing children. I would have just kept heading for home after the aquarium. The music was on and if I was hungry, I didn't know it - but we would have missed the pleasure of a last meal together at a Chinese buffet in Waco, which all of us enjoyed for variety of food, and company.

Time to go to the grocery store and start looking forward into new year planning.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Astonishing nature day - I think I may love Wildlife refuges even more than National Parks - fewer people and more focus on the beasts - Today we had very close views of all the big three - a group of five buffalo who were close enough to be scary but not actually dangerous (really more awe inspiring than scary) when we stood inside a pioneer dwelling while they passed - a beautiful female elk seen suddenly as she appeared in winter pale prairie below after we crested a hill, a multicolored herd of longhorn cattle lowing around the same rocks near the visitor's center that the boys had climbed earlier. They were suitably impressed. So were we older ones. THe prairie dog colony is spreading, to our delight. We've watched it grow over the last ten years. A morals issue with the kids was what to do about people crossing the fence and disturbing the rairie dog colony. we never have seen this behavior until this visit. The kids wanted to confront them and Bob and I resisted - now I think I regret resisting. There were not clearly posted rules so Bob and I felt shy abpppp bout talking to strangers about their behavior - but crossing a fence to walk among wild animals in their community seems so clearly wrong. All three kids were hard to deter in their desire to protect the prairie dogs.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

bob and the kids and I are all nestled up in the perfect family hotel in Lawton Oklahoma (a Hampton Inn with beautiful indoor pool and spa and a sumptuous and family friendsly breakfast) I think the kids are as excited about pool time as about the refuge - though Danny was thrilled today when he spotted a pair of BIG wild turkeys which he added to the list of creatures spotted - always great to get the big three at this refuge - elk, bison, and wild longhorn cattle - plus deer, turkeys, three kinds of wood peckers, a couple of hawks, and numerous small birds. judy, you asked who plans our trips. Its Bob all the way. He is a magic finder man - highly organized about adventrues and exciting in the choices he makes. I've been so many places with him I would never have been otherwise, and the kids are all growing up with a love of natural places and just being outdoors which is wonderful. It has seemed long today - the five of us in cloe quarters, and me used to lots of time alone - but the kids have been beautifully behaved andi love these trips even though I get anxious and overstimulated at moment, trying to pack and unpack car, set up picnics, keep up with coats and such. the kids are getting good at those transitions themselves as they get bigger - K.K.'s practically an adult woman in terms of what she can do and Danny is outrageouly good natured, which is always helpful in any group. I should probably sleep - or at least talk with BOb some. I think the boys are sleeping and K.K. picked up the Gideon Bible in the night stand and started reading Genesis - just because she was curious - so she is lost in book world. I'll be interested to talk with her about what she's read.