Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'm sitting at Ruth's very fast computer looking forward to a great day with Liam tomorrow (last day he and I will have alone while his parents work, though I trust we will get other days alone). THe beach trip was great- even a lovely walk on the beach. Padres Island, and really all of south Texas has greeened up nicely since we were down there last in the midst of extreme drought. That's a big relief. It was black skimmer night on the beach. I don't know how many we saw, more than twenty I'm pretty sure - stately and unique. I love to watch them fish by well...skimming. It's especially impressive when they do it in a line of four or more. THe absence of brown pelicans was also striking. Bob says he bets they are on their nests on nearby islands, which makes sense. I can't remember the last time I was at that beach witout seeing many pelicans.

CLassroom packing up was successful. I love seeing BOb in the school where he is so loved, among friends.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Past my bed time, (not insomniac, just got in late, talked with Bob, and needed to unwind a little. I had a pleasant bus ride down here after a productive, satisfying work day. I'm actually looking forward to packing upthe classroom tomorrow and then going to the beach in the evening. I'm a dork to like cleaning, but I DO (espefcially other people's cleaning) and of course I love the beach, especially with Bob. And interesting observation tonight was that several bus passengers brought fishing gear with them in order to fish down here. The bus was well ridden but not packed. I got to sit alone the whole way, which was comfortable. WE walked Lobo down by the bay after my arrivl, and I'm stonished again by the inky black quality of Corpus Christi bay on a still cloudy night. It takes the"inky black" phrase out of clichedom.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Good ordinary day - work and friends and writing group. Bill and I are starting a writing project next week (gulp) using the "snowflake method" of organizing ideas to create a plan for a novel. We want to see where we will get by following this schematic for a summer. I love doing projects with Bill. THis is scary since at this point I have no idea what I will be writing about. It will be interesting to see where this leads us.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bob and his kids had a great San Antonio field trip. No rain. He learned new details at the Museum of Texas Cultures, incuding that Tejanos used ants to hollow out drinking gourds to hold water safely. They lured the ants with honey. Caddo Indian women were tatooed in a straight line dividing the face in half when they married.
I'm thinking about Memorial Day from the point of view of everyone hurt by wars, as well as our U.S. soldiers. My friend Peggy wrote a poem about Afghanistan which touches me deeply.


Who wills it on the earth
thirty years of war,
a hundred, a thousand
years carried on the
backs ordinary people
struggling to survive
another week, another
month, waiting for
running water, electricity
schools, clinics, laughter
while the War Lords
replace lords of war
hugging, shaking hands
selling poppies, while
the women weep
behind their burkas
time without end.

Peggy Goetz
May 27, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

For anyone waiting to see what was in the Menger time capsule, disappointment. They couldn't dig it up because it was pouring rain during the ceremony. Bob worries that more rain will make the field trip difficult tomorrow, but I hope not. He is taking his car and driving a couple of teachers because there are not enough bus seats - another great use for the Prius, Pearl.

I'm thrilled for K.K. tonight. She got commended status on her language arts TAKS test (as much as I dislike those tests, this is a real accomplishment for a girl who started out quite dyslexic and used to fear failing the reading portions. She's also reading real books for fun more and more. One hurdle behind us! I'm also touched that family relationships are close enough that she called to tell me about her scores.

I'm sad I didn't see Zachary on his seventh birthday - the first one I've missed celebrating on the day for any of the KDZ, I think - just no wheels available with everybody working and Tracy to hurt to drive. I did talk to Zachy and he sounded happy, well celebrated with cupcakes. Bob and I will take him on a special outing of his choosing as soon as school is out.

Aside - Chris is off his crutches and even took a walk with Liam in the stroller. I'm relieved he's moving better and hope Tracy will be too , soon.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Almost Summer! Though I believe Bob and I are getting better each year at the weekend cooking long distance commuting game, and though the Prius helps with ecological guilt, we both look forward to summers. This one is almost upon us. I suspect we may not be odd among teachers and their families, who may appreciate summer as much as school kids. I can sure identify with K.K.'s can't wait for summer attitude in a way I don't think I could if my own life weren't so shaped by the school year.

All in all, Bob has had a pretty good school year, though still some frustration with the motivation level of the students.

He has added some great pluses for the fourth grade this year, including Thursday's field trip to the Alamo and Institute of Texas Cultures. My bus trip down to San Antonio to meet him Saturday morning was a great success. We scouted the two locations for fourth grade activities, which was fun. Its odd to be old enough that quilts, fans, architectural styles and cooking implements from my girlhood are featured in historical exhibits. Next weekend I will go down to Corpus and help him close up the classroom - a really big deal this year since the school is undergoing renovations and will be locked up tight all summer.

This weekend was good for us - quiet especially yesterday. We watched the Longhorn baseball team on TV win the Big 12 Conference tournament. We also watched Ballet Austin's performance of Hamlet, the amazing original choreographies of our wonderful local choreographer Stephen Mills. K.K. is so fortunate to be studying in his company. She says she already misses ballet class and the last class was just Friday - but she is also in the mood for a break. Zachary turns seven tomorrow - amazing.

Last night we watched the national Memorial Day concert and I was very much moved by the loss of life that stands behind our nation as we know it today. I'd seen many military families sightseeing when exploring in San Antonio. Listening to General Colin Powell talk about military personnel "in harm's way" brought back very recent clear images of these young men and women and their families. I wonder if there is any way we humans can learn to "do war no more". I do pray there is.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Good Friday, excited about San Antonio trip tomorrow. Bob is talking to me on the phone though about how difficult his class is at the end of the year, especially about picking up mess - refusing to pick up things they didn't think they had thrown on the floor. He says kids throw trash behind the filing cabinet or in someone else's desk on purpose - too lazy to walk to the trash can. I don't get this kind of behavior AT ALL. I know he has lots of good classroom moments, but some of the negative attitudes are really unpleasant.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A bizarre additional post. The fathers of BOTH of my youngest grand babies are currently on crutches! Chris was hurt in a fluke accident at a TAKS pep rally a three weeks ago now and is recovering, and Tracy tore knee ligaments Monday night at football practice and is at the can't move really hurting stage. Yuck! THese are minor troubles as troubles go, but oddly conicidental.
Enjoying being a teacher's wife tonight. I'm proud of my teacher man husband. He won a grant competition to start a "Step Up To The Plate" backpack program to help parents and students work together on homework next year. Also, his school is being declared a historic school on Tuesday and, as part of the ceremony a time capsule buried by Menger students eighteen years ago will be opened. I wonder what's in there. Also, I'm taking the bus down to San Antonio Saturday morning to meet Bob and go together through the Alamo and the Museum of Texas Cultures to prepare for the kids' filed trip later to those to locations. I won't be on the field trip, but am glad to help with the preparations.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tired but satisfied with today's work. It's odd how mourning goes. I play on line Scrabble and wonder if Dolly liked to play word games. I never knew. I wish I'd known her better. I pet my cat and remember how much Paul loved his cat and get teary. Even several steps removed, as I am with these losses, I notice the wave form of grief, how it comes and washes over unexpected, and passes.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Back at work today, no Liam time. No Grandma time at all. I do love my job and the atmosphere at work, ehte energy of the work I do. It is the only thing I've done (except maybe for writing when that is at its very best) that touches being as satisfying as deep personal relationships. It's relationships, connections that put me over the top. I like being part of the process of helping people grow, learn, discover, thrive. I can be sitting in the chair and a half with Liam watching his eyes light up because I kiss him in the right place and inflect my voice the way he likes on "Itsy Bitsy Spider" or in my office chair watching a young woman get it for the first time that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with her - that the people who abused her did what they did because of something in them, not something in her.Even with writing, with characters, so much of the joy is infeeling connedted.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Rich rainy years spring
dances in verdant, lush
croaking toads, flashing fire flies,
spreading brilliant quilt of
bluebonnets, wine cups,
Indian paint brush, dewberries.

Drought dry years spring
limps in, depleted, dull
yellow green, absent toad
chorus, firefly lanterns
sparcely dotted with sturdy
daisies, prickly poppies.

Every year, in drought
or quenching rain,
dancing or limping,
rich or struggling.
abundant or depleted,
Spring returns.

Victoria Hendricks, May 17, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I've been posting everywhere else this week and didn't realize I hadn't been posting here. Big oversight. Big week.

I'll begin with a quote which a friend used as a tagline today and which is absolutely true for me.

I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whooping cough does seem to be behind us. Only Danny ttested positive. I'm so glad the family persevered and got him treatment and the rest of us (especially babies) prevention. Bob and K.K. have had colds - but you recover from colds. I'm impressed with all BOb got done this week, especially pictures for his school's social, even not feeling well. He will be here in a little while after working to pack up his room this morning. He attended a lovely retirement party for a good friend and longterm special ed teacher last night. Tonight we go to the last symphony of the season. I would never have gotten tickets to symphony or opera without his influence and now I'm so glad we have them - look forward to each event.

The highlight of my week, of course, was living out at Ruth and Chris' house taking care of Liam while Ruth worked the week - talk about bliss. The boy is happy with my care and bottles of his mom liquid gold breast milk. He smiles, plays, cuddles, vocalizes, responds, initiates, loves flying, hates tummy time, taught me the bliss of "sleeping like a baby" cuddled in the chair an a half by the window. Ruth and Chris have done a typically superb job of organizing their home and their lives to envelop this little guy. Every moment out there was like heaven,including the time with the adults while Liam slept. I am so fortunate.

On the dark side, news of deaths and illnesses of friends and family members and the struggles of clients hit hard this week, reminding me how fragile as well as how precious our lives, hence my attachment to the quote, which bears repeating.

I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I think whooping cough is behind us. I'm on my last day of antibiotics, which means Joanna and Tracy are too. I'm loving being with Liam days while Ruth works. For the first time I'm really fantasizing what it would be like not to have to go to work- to have days like these all the time - not a realistic option financially but man do I love being home with babies. I';m really getting to know Liam's expressions and moods, the games he lies, what scares him, what comforts him. He is a total delight of a little guy - really growing and vocalizing. I think he's beginning to recognise his name, but I'm not sure. These days are just a patch of heaven.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

We are less scared about the whooping cough. I think everybody who needs to be on atntibiotics for prevention is and I feel comfortable being around little Liam starting on Tuesday. Joanna actually was given an extra day off work to prevent any possible spread and is using her Mother's Day with the boys here to clean house. She says it feels good because having the house clean will feel so good. The boys here are in really different states. Zachary seems well but Danny, who had more time to get really sick, is still coughing and weak seeming. I hope he feels better soon, but am just relieved this illness hasn't spread more. I give Bob lots of the credit with his research skills and ability to persevere regarding getting us medication. As of now I know more about whooping cough than I ever wanted to know.

I assume K.K., only big enough kid at home, is helping her Mom with the house work some, though I know she has lots of homework. Yesterday we got to watch K.K.'s regular ballet class' end of year show and WOW! They are level 4B now, the very top level of the Intermediate program. Next year they are pre-professional with lockers in the company dressing room and as I said WOW. The class danced a jazzy number that was utterly a kick - not so much a sense of students dancing but of dancers. This was especially true because of the way Ballet Austin does it's end of year shows, each one starting with tiny beginners who are walked through the moves by their teachers, moving up through the levels and ending with a demonstration by the big kids - the amazing 4B's. I remember when K.K. was one of the lost, scared littles, when she was moving up, becoming more and more competent and delighted in her dance - and yesterday, well, as I've said twice already, Wow!

Paul's memorial service yesterday was deeply touching - a superb testament to the fact that it does matter how we live our lives. Paul lived from a place of generosity, kindness, heart, fun, joy, compassion, and people of all ages from all over the world had stories to tell about him yesterday. I was especially touched by a little guy, couldn't have been more than seven, maybe younger, who had to choke his words through tears to tell us about the cherry tree he and his Dad had planted with Paul, and to remind us that "It's still here." As is everything else Paul planted. That service really reminds me to keep very conscious of what I plant.

Issue of legacy also came up because of Mothers' Day, which my crew has remembered sweetly. A friend asked "how do you remember your mother?" a good question and one I could have answered very differently at different times. I'm glad to have gotten to a place with my feelings about my mother where I remember her living more than her dying and her strengths more than her flaws.

I remembermy mother for her music - singing "Amazing Grace" or "mack the Knife: in the kitchen, singing "Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree" of "Hush Little Baby" to me, and later my babies I remember her singing "Moon River" and (for some odd reason since she'd never even set foot in Georgia "I'm Rambling Wreck From Georgia Tech and a Heck of a Heck of a Heck of and Engineer" with her daddy, cousins, uncle, aunt, and brother on the screened in back porch steamy summer nights. I remember Mama singing in Czech and in English, happy, sad, every mood inbetween. I remember her singing along when she played hot jazz piano while delicious dinners cooked. The piano was always as close as possible to the kitchen and Mama run off to the piano and always get back before anything stuck to the pot.

I remember other things about my mother. I remember her sense of style, her excitement in a fabric store, her patience crawling around me on the floor getting a hem just right. I remember her temper, which I later understood was all about fear, mostly fear I wouldn't be alright if she didn't get everything right raising me. I remember her relentless and very effective problem solving. I remember her openness with me about many difficult subjects, especially sex, sexism, and money. I remember and treasure her ultimate respect for me despite our many differences. I remember and emulate her willingness to apologize. But if I have to boil it down to one thing, I remember my mother for her music.

Friday, May 08, 2009

This whooping cough scare really has me scared. Doctor told Joanna today that exposed babies sometimes just stop breathing without showing any symptoms. And how is anyone supposed to get any sleep? K.K. and I did go to a lovely Ballet Austin Cinderella. It was fun to go with her, watch here rapt in the dance, and see her with many of her dance friends. Everyone dressed up for the ballet, more than symphony or opera here - gorgeous gowns on women and girls of all ages. I enjoyed watching audience almost as much as show. Now everybody, even those of us immunized, are supposed to get antibiotics. Andrea has already been started on them even though she shows no symptoms. My immunization should still be good, as should Joanna's and Ruth's, but I'm supposed to take care of Liam on Tuesday and now I want to try to get antibiotics too since the doctor told Joanna she should.

Also Paul's funeral is in the morning. SO much to take in all at once.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Life is insane right now - such a mix. The swine flu is causing school cancellations and cancellations of cancellations. Bob was originally going to be off until next Wednesday, then supposed to go back for tomorrow, but now he is staying home taking care of Danny who may or may not have whooping cough. Danny has to stay at our house because whooping cough would be very dangerous and potentially lethal for Andrea and Liam, too young and not vaccinated yet. It is also Bob's and my twentieth wedding anniversary - very sweet. O'm glad he's home. I wrote him a poem.

Odd Combination

Always great combination,
You teacher, me healer
both dreamers, seekers,
lovers of books, hikes,
plays, music, children.
moonlight on water.

Always odd combination,
You wolf, me bear
you following logic,
me all intuition,
you on the dot,
me between moments,
you with to do list,
me of the cuff,

You name wild flowers,
each genus and species.
I remember their names
from season to season
You keep up computers,
I keep up with birthdays.
You get the math right.
I balance relationships.

Twenty years later.
Still odd, still good.

Victoria Hendricks
May 6, 2009

Monday, May 04, 2009

Still allergic to sleep! I've got to crash eventually. But it has been a great weekend with Bob home and extra day and time wiht grand kids. Today Bob and K.K. went to the Broadway revue at Ballet Austin, which they thoroughly enjoyed while Danny, Zachary and I weeded the garden. Andrea watched (and didn't cry - thank you Andrea Grace). Later in the house she showed us that she can scoot on her tummy and let me hear her sweet laugh for the first time when I kissed her feet. Yesterday Liam showed off his strong strong body and ability to pull to a stand, and stand with very little suppport. I am going to have to child proof soon because these strong babies will be all over the place before I know it. Even with the North AMerican flu lurking, and the mixed possibility that Bob's school will be closed, I am in a happy mood and have really enjoyed this weekend.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

This is one of those odd times when I feel allergic to sleep, but know I need it to enjoy a busy day tomorrow gardening with the kids, feeding meals to them, looking after Andrea as well as the big KDZ. Of course they hel;p me with Andrea. And Bob is home, which is great. Hew and I went to the symphony tonight. The Austin Symphony is su[per under Peter Bay and tonight we had a treat of hearing
a new work, Fifth Symphony, by local composer and professor Dan Weschler - a work which really impressed both of us. The second movement was inspoired by the bats under our local Congress Avenue Bridge and by the composer's long friendship with Peter Bay, who has been in Austin ten years now.