Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day weekend is over. This is the first Memorial Day in the last several that I haven't watched the national ceremony and concert - I am sad though for all the families still losing sons and daughters in war, and thankful to our military, past and present - especially Bob's Dad who served in World War Two, Korea, and Viet Nam. Thank you Dubby. Bob came home for the weekend and is back in Corpus until Friday. He joined a gym yesterday, with a membership that allows me to be his guest every time he goes. We used the tread mills together yesterday and that was good, though I think Ruth is right that the eliptical machine is better for my knee. I am deeply sad about the leaking oil in the Gulf of Mexico, hoping to get some of my feelings about that into poetry - also concernes about affairs in the Koreas and Israel.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

My blog seems very Jewish lately and that is odd to me because I don't think of myself too frequently in terms of my religious orientation - spiritual practices yes, but not so much their origin and tradition - but here I am just home from a chanting service (really lovely) by visiting rabbi Sheva Gold and having thoroughly enjoyed a hafdallah (end of Sabbath) service on the deck with Ruth Chris and Liam before dinner. I do apprecialte my traditions obviously. i wrote a poem today though that kind of ecplains why thinking of my orientation and beliefs is less important to me than to many people. As I wrote before, I won't be putting many poems here now that I have the poetry blog, but this sems important to explain me and religion.

Proof Futile

Futile to require proof

of God, Heaven, Hell,

Sufficient to access strength

deeper than my own.

Sufficient to find guidance,

peace in spiritual practice.

Sufficient to draw wisdom

from my dear beloved dead.

Sufficient to believe my own

influence will outlast breath.

Victoria Hendricks May 22, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Midweek, almost. It is thunderstorm season - trees and grass very green, dinner on the deck , which only wants sanding and staining, most nights now, unless of course, storm comes at dinnertime. Tonight during dinner a pair of neighbors Chris recently made friends with walked by with their pet duck (yes you read that right) in a bright green wheel barrow. Of course that caused a good interruption replete with conversation laughter and much quacking on the part of duck - not as much quacking from Liam as I would have expected. On the "small world" side of things, the woman in this couple was the administrator who helped Ruth through logistics a few years back when she started teaching at the community college. She, though closer to my age, grew up on this street and, like Ruth, moved back from the suburbs to her childhood home. Her parents died before she came back, however.

It is a Jewish holiday, Succoth, on which we celebrate having received the Ten Commandments and, oddly, have a tradition of eating rich dairy dessert. Chris served cheesecake, yum. We talked about the Ten Commandments after supper on the deck, named them and discussed which seem the most difficult to follow. We settled on idolatry (not in the literal sense but in the sense of worshiping (overvaluing) things of the world rather than the divine and not bearing false witness in the sense of avoiding giving an intentionally false or partial impression . I like it that our Jewish spiritual practices seem to be casually woven into our lives together these days - not nearly as thick a thread as in an Orthodox home, but present and treasured and just part of life. This feels good to me now and makes me happy that Liam has never known it otherwise.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

It was a treat to take K.K. to the symphony last night - strong performance of Mahler's First Symphony -so emotionally wild and varied. The discount seats Bob got us must have been cancellations, right down in the the third row where we could see the faces and movements of the musicians and conductor beautifully. K.K. especially loves watching the elegant young concert mistress, whose reminds me of some of the equally elegant performing artists she knows in her dance world. Also, just to document, Ruth and Chris bought the last of the wood for the deck yesterday and laid most of it. They lost light before they got it all screwed down and there is angling to do on the far corner to make the deck a more pleasing shape - also sanding and staining, but they are really knocking it out. Bob is here, mostly recovered from his exhasuting week and he and I are about ready to don our orangewear and go off to the season's last home baseball games before tournament play begins. The Lonhorns have done so well we are pretty much guaranteed there will be a regional tournament here right after school gets out - always fun for us.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It's a rainy, thundery night, not really a scary storm but one that has me wanting to be up reading poetry blogs and writing rather than sleeping as I should be. I'm loving finding the world of amateur poets all over the world who use the Internet as a forum for meeting and mutual encouragement. This makes me happy. In my middle of the night weary happy dreamy mood, I was struck by the quote I found on one blog.

"For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses." —Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I'm posting it tonight in memory of both of my parents, Mama who reminded me never to trust anyone who was too sure there was only one right way and Daddy, with mind and soul of physicist, who saw the world as infinitely complex and beautiful.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Another Friday night - Pot roast Chris cooked perfectly for our shabat dinner. Liam amazes me by learning the prayers already - just a word here and a gesture ther, but learning them, valuing the specialness of our set apart Friday night meal. I especially love the way he copies us when we bring the light of the newly lit candles to our eyes in a traditional gesture. Sometimes he draws the light to his ears, but clearly he does whathe believes we are doing with a beatific smile. Innocence and wisdom really do seem to come full circle. My meditation tonight is settling around a poem sent to me by Bob's sweet brother and our fellow spiritual seeker, Bill.


”We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.”
-T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I'm surprised I haven't written here since Monday. Sometimes time does fly away. It has been a hard week somehow, though a good week with Ruth and Chris and Liam. We had supper at an actual table on the almost finished deck tonight - with napkins and everything. A friend shared a wonderful quote with me today .

"When I use my power in service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether or not I am afraid."
-Audre Lourde

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bob's fourth grade team took all the classes to San Antonio today for a major field trip - Alamo, IMAX theatre, and Museum of Texas Cultures with the cool Back Forty living history exhibit. It sounds like the Back Forty was the best part of the field trip. The kids didn't behave great and the wait at the IMAX was long and difficult. Bob is tired, but satisfied with having given the kids an exciting and educational experience.

I actually used a table saw tonight! I never thought I'd do that. I helped Ruth with the steps for the deck. They look so good. her design is awesome. We also discovered strawberry plants in a corner of the garden, actually producing! I gave up on those plants years ago and had forgotten about them, but our colder winter seems to have triggered production. The berries are tiny still, but definitely strawberries. I even ate one.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

I've had a good day, quiet, very loved and loving feeling. Chris cooked special dinner for us mothers - Ruth's favorite "pink chicken" which I may like as much as she does. I'm so happy Ruth did get to be a mother after the years of infertility and Mira's death. I'd appreciate liam anyway, not to mention plain adore him, but I remember how sad Mother's Day was two years ago just after Mira died and I am so glad that sadness is an undercurrent now, not dominant. I'll always miss getting to hold and know and love that little girl, and I know her parents will too, and it is easier to accept her absence in Liam's presence, at least for me.

I wish Joanna and Tracy and the kids could have come over but life is crazy busy for them and they sent love. We've never been huge on celebrating holidays on the day, and when Joanna took me to the Salt lake City Olympics we agreed that was my Mothers' Day present for ever and ever - a good one.

I've been thinking about mothering - mostly my own. It was such a joy mostly (except in the early teens when I didn't handle individuation so well). Nothing in my life has brought more delight and more unexpected rewards. I wish I had done many things differently, more gently, more respectfully to the people the girls were. I wish I had been more accepting of illnesses, less anxious about health and just plain less anxious. I wish I had made it more clear how delighted I was by successes, of which they both had many. I wish I could have made Kerry's dying hurt them less - but that wish I think is not one I blame myself around. Losing a parent just does hurt. Mostly I'm just thankful for the privilege of being their mother.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Today was a good day - time alone with Liam and some fun little projects like making a bank for him out of an oat meal carton collaged with pictures from travel and other magazines my college roommate Jean and I saved thirty years ago. We had the walls of our room all done in travel collages back then - her idea. Liam's little bank is fun, and secured with Mudge Podge, truly a magic product. This is one of those instances when having saved things did create great joy. One of the pictures we used on the bank is a very sixties dated cute sceen of red headed children cooking - complete with chef's hat - so perfect for strawberry blond Liam who loves helping his gourmet Daddy in the kitchen.

Tonight is the run up for Mother's Day. Part of me hates Hallmark holidays because they make so many people so sad - in this case mostly people who have lost their mothers or children to death or estrangement and women who have been unable to have children. I also enjoy Mother's Day because it is great for childlike crafts and expressions of love. Liam let me draw all the way around his body to make a Liam poster for Ruth - "Liam loves Mama!" and we stuck hearts all over it. It's fun to have a chance to be that freely playful and child-like.

One of my small writing groups prompts this week was to write about what our mothers did right. That was a brilliant prompt for me. Thank you Judy. My mother did so much right, and also made some painful mistakes. True of me as a mother too, I know. It felt good for this poem to just write about the good stuff, not to try to find a balance or paint the whole woman. This is a poem I will post both here and on the new poetry blog because it is both about my life and a poem.


My mother was a hot tamale,
world by the tail, first generation,
fast train out of Tiny Texas,
got rid of her Czech accent
kept her recipes, songs, family
loyalty, worked her way through
college in the middle of Depression
with the best job on campus,
loved hard, played great jazz piano,
sewed magic clothes that made me
feel like a perfect princess, got me
books, books, books, Listened to
my stories every afternoon after school,
told me her stories, told the truth as
she understood it, talked straight
about work, sex and money,
knew that life is hard and good.
taught me to use my gifts in gratitude.
and to question people who were too sure.
made a new career for herself in her fifties
aught classrooms of women how to take
care of themselves in the work world,
knew how to say she was sorry.

Victoria Hendricks
May 2010

Friday, May 07, 2010

I decided that, since I'm reponding to more poetry prompts lately and plain writing a lot of poetry, it's time to separate poetry out from my regular blogging. I'll still stick a few poems in here, favorites or poems that I think especially reflect my current life or my essence, but mostly, if you're looking for poetry to to

Tonight was Shabat service at the J, intimate and sweet. It is so precious to see this small community love Liam, and him thriving in it's midst. I'm ready for the peace of Shabat - busy week.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Bob and I have been married twenty one years tonight. It feels weird. i remember the day I turned twenty one, and it felt like I'd lived a whole life ub to that point. It was almost twenty years after that I married Bob, a whole lifetime again, and now another twenty one years have passed and it doesn't seem like a minute. Yet the girls wer little then and now they are grown and mothers. I still do the same work and still feel very much teh same, hopefully a little wiser, easier on myself and others. Bob still is my love, and in this I am so fortunate. These poems are for you sweetie.

Love Poem

Thank you
for loving me
when I am least
lovable, for patience,
tenderness, hope
when I feel hopeless.
For loving me,
Thank you.

Bob Hendricks

Bob Hendricks loves me.
That feels like a miracle.
We haven't been easy,
me and my girls, bereaved,
volatile, skeptical, set in our ways.
He married me, adopted them
taught us about season tickets.
to make reservations and shop
for deals on dream vacations.
He loves Beethoven, Rembrandt,
Faulkner, Melville, Rodin ,Cezanne.
He sings "Take Me Out to the Ball
Game" with his arm around my waist
every seventh inning stretch and knows
the rules and strategies of every sport.
He'd rather share Yellowstone, Big Bend,
the Grand Canyon with grand children
than experience more parks without them.
He pulls me outdoors to see the full moon
rise when the toads call in the neighborhood.
Chess genius, he grew bored of the game
because winning was too easy. No ego about
his math mind, his quickness, his knowledge.
He always has a dog he loves with little boy heart.
His totems are red wolf, golden eagle.
He meets God in wildness, great art.
He struggled to find work that
mattered, satisfied, big mind
and bigger ideals, desire to help.
Teaching fourth grade isn't perfect,
but it suits more than marketing.
He loves learning about almost anything,
fights overeating, especially chocolate,
rises early, craves information, respects his
parents, his brothers, reminds me strangers
starving in Africa are just as human as
grandchildren asleep on out own sofa,
is afraid of heights, spiders, hurting me.
It feels like a miracle.
Bob Hendricks loves me.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

And now I lay me down to sleep...I remember lying in my childhood bed under the pink ribbed bed spread with that prayer in my head. I pray the Lord my soul to keep As an adult I pray I've lived mindfully and kindly from my soul today, used it to inform my actions and words, and for the wisdom to do that even better tomorrow. And if I die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take. That part hasn't changed much. Maybe I'm less literal in my expectations of eternity, but I definitely offer myself to the infinite, to something bigger than myself. So now I lay me down to sleep.

Poetry prompt of the day was "delight" which was fun to play with.

Delight lights

Delight lights
I can plan for
but not delight.
lights when
she will,

Monday, May 03, 2010

Monday night came fast with Bob here. It was both a hard weekend and a good weekend. I feel pretty wiped out tonight, which worries me a little since the work week will be intense. SO many people I see are struggling big time, and I also just have scheduled a lot of appointments. I'm tired in mind and body, but tomorrow is a new day.

The stress of applying for teaching jobs in the local area and caring, really caring, both of us now, that Bob gets one, is hard. Details and forms are hard, and putting your heart and soul down on paper saying essentially Choose me! Choose me! I empathize with Bob and with anybody who is job hunting. I helped him cut words in his very well done piece about how and why his elementary teaching experience is relevant to high school math jobs. I admire the patience with which he is attacking this job hunt. It will really be fine if he stays in Corpus, either at Menger or in a high school math job, but we've decided coming home is preferred. It is hard to care and not care at the same time about whether a change happens, to just give it to the universe and still work to make it more possible. I think the job search kept the atmosphere a little heavy - still, like a muggy June day.

But not every minute. Friday night after dinner when the whole house group plus K.K. all ended up dancing (imagine marching, swaying, clapping and a bit of polka) in the kitchen! And Saturday afternoon Bob, K.K. and I attended a superb Broadway revue done by her mentors Danny and Rocker and danced in by many of her dance world friends. She'll be in the next revue, in December, instead of in the Nut Cracker. She is moving her focus away from ballet (and the point work that aggravates her injury to jazz, Broadway and hip hop, will still take some ballet in the community school, but not the super intense classes. This feels like a loss in a way, so much time and discipline at the academy, but ballet is such a specialized dance form and she has been finding more joy as well as less pain in other forms. Last weekend she helped Danny and Rocker lead a public dance event at a local arts festival, jazz style and hip hop, and I could really see the joy there. Everything is changing it seems like, for all of us in big and little ways.

Liam ate his soup with his spoon at the table tonight and sat through dinner, actually longer than any of us adults. He is a gem, a joy, a human who crawls up on my bed to give me kisses and TALKS (his mom estimates at least 40 working words in his vocabulary) What I noticed tonight is that whenever I speak to him by name he meets my eyes, looks at me talking to him, knows I'm wanting him and wants to respond. He is such a PERSON and I love him so. Last week Ruth mentioned how it is possible still that Liam (or any kid his age) could show up autistic around three - how we could lose this person who knows and loves us and lets us know he loves us and looks in our eyes - lose him not to death but to some kind of neurological screw up that would leave us someone else, mysterious, probably hurting and over stimulated, in his body. How freaky. We can't know it won't happen, though it probably won't. There is so much that could go wrong, always. One more reason to focus on each moment.

And this moment I should go to bed.

With the poetry prompts, we're back to our own little group and Judy's prompt for today was to do something with a recipy, poetry, and memory. We don't have a garden this year, but Bob and I had the salad I wrote about, as close as you can without the gardxen for lunch. Writing about it in memory made me happy.

Sunshine Salad

Warm afternoon in May,
pour iced lemonade into
the glass with blue ducks .
Go out into the garden, hopeful,
find three firm red tomatoes,
just barely past orange, sun warm,
palm sized and the first two cucumbers
of the spring, green and prickly. Pick
each vegetable with careful hands and
thankful heart. Arrange in basket,
preferably your grandmother's garden
basket, Carry into the kitchen, wash
each vegetable carefully. Peel cucumbers.
Slice each vegetable carefully on cutting
board, remember to cut away from yourself.
Arrange slices in see through salad bowl,
glass or crystal, sprinkle with lime juice,
black pepper, a tiny bit of kosher salt.
Eat with someone you love, in bowls
you find beautiful, with lemonade,
at the table, before the sun's warmth
leaves the vegetables you grew.

This is my Grandma Anna's summer love food. I've made it from so many gardens, as the little girl, the young mother, the family elder with grand children. It always tastes of love to me, and connection. My Grandma never had much money, always took pride in feeding us well on a little, always tried for pretty presentation. Bob likes the salad better with mayonnaise added and I usually do it that way now, but I still prefer it with just the lime juice as I learned to eat it as a girl.