Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Week is moving quickly. Fall has arrived with beautiful clear days and cool nights. KK is sleeping in her little house under quilts, so snug in her bed. We've had some misadventures including a flat tire on Pearl the Prius which Bob and I replaced on the way home from work today - ended up walking to a new to us Mexican diner while the new tires were installed and enjoyed mole and each other's company. More seriously, Chris' bike was stolen from outside the tutoring office in which he works, right in our neighborhood. He rides it every day and is pretty upset. A happy event involved Ruth and Liam watching a local little league team and the nine year old Red Sox inviting Liam into the dugout - his first chance to hang out wiht "the guys". It is bizarre to me that a student at UT ran across campus yesterday firing shots and eventually killed himself on the sixth floor of the library in the basement of which Jeannie works. No one else was hurt and Mark called as soon as he knew to tell us jean was safe.The shooter was a college sophomore, a math major. No one seems to know what caused his behavior. I just keep thinking he was somebody's baby.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

We've had a sweet weekend, quieter than I expected. Bob had a lot of catch up work on lesson plans, so we did not go to San Antonio as we planned. Instead we worked on K.K's little house, got the bed in there, a rod for clothes to hang on, and did more unpacking. She slept out there peacefully for the first time last night and will again tonight. I love the co-housing, the blend of generations, KK's feet in my lap while I write. I feel like I've been given a decade or two, having children in the house again, especially the beautiful mix of toddler and teen. One highlight of the weekend is that Ballet Austin gave KK two tickets free to the ballet, Carmina Burana, which was done with dancers, chorus, and orchestra - so intense and glorious. Stephen Mills is a genius of a choreographer - better every year. Austin is lucky to have him, and symphony director Peter Bay too for that matter.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

For those of you who've asked... This is a sukkah (pictures of OUR sukkah to follow)This is Liam shaking the Luluv

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The sick season is starting in Austin which makes me nervous with our larger household, but, though clients are beginning to cancel with fevers, all of us in the house stay well. I doubt we can get through the fall and winter without at least a few colds though with exposure to three different schools, all those kids Chris tutors, and my office contacts. It's easy for me to worry to about minor possible problems I can't control. I am offering the household vitamin C and we are all hand washing and beyond that I have no power. My task for now - stay in the moment.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A couple of you have asked what a sukkah is. It is a temporary structure jews put up in the yard this time of year - a harvest festival tradition after Yom Kippur. The sukkoh is built with three walls and the roof is slatted so you can see the stars. You eat in it for eight days, inviting friends and neighbors in, a time of hospitality and openness. Many sleep in ther sukkot and we hope to this year at least once. You decorate with fruits, vegetables, leaves, and children's crafts. It is the closest thing Jews get to a Christmas tree in terms of decorating, and Liam is already having fun making decorations. This is the first year we have made our own sukkoh, thanks of course to Ruth and Chris. It isn't finished yet (busy and rainy day) but it will be very cool. I'll send pictures, or at least link to them on the ThreGeneration blog.

It was a good experience to help in Bob's class today. The refugee children have only been here four months and are pretty lost, but learning fast. It's hard to stick teaching math when they don't know what the words in the problems are discribing - whether it's "cyllinder" or "gerbil". I did alot of drawing and it seemed helpful. I like them both and I think they like me. Before I went I really had performance anxiety and understood for the first time why someone might just back off from a volunteer experience out of trepidation. I kept thinking it would be easier to stay home and help KK with her homework. It is easier to help her, and I did that too, but I'm hooked on Bob's class now. The rest of the class, American poor kids, is a crazy mix of understanding and pain, rowdiness and curiosity, excessive jewelry and sweet smiles. I am intrigued by a number of them and also did a good job of staying in a supportive role and not putting my agendas on Bob's class. I hope to help out every Monday afternoon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Today was a good gentle day. KK came back fed and happy with homework done from a good visit with her mother, Tracy, and sibs in San Antonio. She seemed really peaceful and just generally in a good mood upon her return. Earlier today Ruth and Chris and Liam worked hours on building our first Sukkot ever in our back yard. Later I helped too, also did some just general yard clean up. It felt good to be outside on a mild rainy afternoon working with people I love. I also got to go to Bob's school with him for a while and make order - just a peaceful day without the spiritual intensity of the next few days. Tomorrow I will go back to Bob's school with the intention of tutoring two kids who are refugees from Burma. I'm nervous. They don't have much English and I'm afraid I won't be helpful, but I want to try.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yom Kipper - Mid fast - I find great comfort in wearing white with no vanity,just pulling my Yom Kipper dress over my head like the shroud it represents, sticking my feet in cloth shoes and going forth to service with none of the usual concerns about matching jewelry or getting tasks done in the right order. I love the minor key chanting, the prayers of repentance, the call to turn, turn, turn, toward goodness and love.
But I struggle with amends and especially with real and lasting change. Often, I don't even know what to change to do more good and less harm. The children's story read at services today taught, through the misadventures of a very large and clumsy if well intentioned bird, that the hardest word in the world is "sorry". That isn't true for me. It's easy to be sorry and say "sorry". What is hard, hard, hard is to understand before I do something wrong that it is wrong. So often I try to say something kind, and it hurts, or I want to be helpful and it distracts or interferes. My empathy fails me day in and day out. Even when my ego is out of the way and my intentions are focused and in tune with my values, I do harm.
When Kerry and I planned to have children, and were blessed with bright, beautiful little girls, it was vitally important to both of us - the most important thing in our worlds, to give them love, opportunities, limits, values, dream seeds - skills, hope, courage, everything they needed to thrive and to contribute. Like most parents, we wanted them to have more opportunities than we had, to have less pain, less trouble, and to live richer lives. I think we got some of those things right, but I know now I acted at times with distraction, indifference, control, selfishness, ego, insensitivity with both of my daughters. Even now that they are lovely strong women, I speak wrong words, fail to communicate the depth of my love, don't know what they need or how to provide it.
And then there's Bob - how I love that good man and yet, several times every week I jump and shriek when he has help to offer me, or I try to ask for something I want or need (and I know the rules, teach people at work how to make requests and complaints kindly) and I fall into language that sounds critical to him and hurts him.
It isn't saying "sorry", admitting wrong that is hard - It's knowing what is better to do, not just the rules but really how to do it, and then doing it right again and again and again that is hard. That is my prayer this Yom Kipper afternoon -

Source of life and wisdom, strengthen my empathy. Help me match my words and voice with my intentions. Slow my reactions. Strengthen my empathy.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Yom Kippur Day of atonement, turning toward higher self, higher values, fasting, remorse and forgiveness. We're only a few hours in -after the lovely introspective service, before the fast gets hard. My communities group cofession is full of paradox, which I love. We ask forgiveness for expecting both too much and too little of ourselves. Both transgressions are true of me different moments, different aspects of life.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sometimes the sweetest gifts, greatest treasures, are unplanned and unplannable. I'm feeling enormously greatful for the completely unexpected soul deep talk I had with two old friends tonight.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I love my life right now. It's like a few layers got pulled back and instead of living as an empty nester, looking for opportunities to take care of others outside of work, I'm suddenly right back in the middle of younger family life. I already mourned this stage, never thought I'd have it back, but shows what I know, or don't. Here I am in the middle of it again and though making school lunches is tedious and there are evenings I'm really ready for some down time, I love this chance to be part of an active younger family again. Saturday night Bob and KK and I went to the symphony and (thanks to shared tickets from Jean and Mark) were able to take our friend Annalyn. It was exciting to share the music, and interesting to me that KK loves that music and has been to enough symphonies now that I see her as a co-sharer, rather than someone Bob and I share the music with.

Sunday was unexpectedly rich and busy. Ruth and Liam have just started a monthly Jewish kids' craft program called "Training Wheels". Each session focuses on a holiday I think, and the one we attended was about upcoming Sukkot. We made a graham cracker Sukkot with marshmallow creme for glue and fruit loops on top (with surprising insight,Liam called the sweet cereal "sugar" and he got at least as many on the Sukkot as into his mouth), puppet guests to visit us in our Sukkot, a celebratory flag, and a very glittery blue and silver compact disk which makes a beautiful Sukkot decoration. I think it's exciting that this program exists, and I so enjoyed loved helping and watching Ruth help Liam. His concentration, instruction following, and attention to detail were super, especially for his age.

Sunday afternoon was "Come Dance Day" with free classes all afternoon at Ballet Austin. KK invited me and her friend Reba from school to join her and it was both marvelous and humbling. Zumba, an exercise dance class to international rhythms is about my speed - steps not too precise but plenty of chance to burn calories and experience the abandon and joy of really letting go to upbeat music. I want to go to Zumba with KK every Saturday morning - a real treat. But the theatre dace classes, taught by KK's mentors Danny and Rocker were HARD - I seemed to be constantly going in the wrong direction on the wrong foot a step behind the music - and then I'd look up and see KK and her dance friend Abby just hitting every move and doing it with style. It was good for me to remember how hard what she does every day is. I like Reba a lot, a girl who was game in the hard classes despite lack of dance training, can laugh at herself, and has a great sense of rhythm she uses in her own art as a guitarist and singer. What a lovely afternoon!

I still feel a little flooded by all the details and schedules of our active family, but I think it's beginning to fall into place better - especially KK's homework and dance schedule patterns. She is amazing to me in that she is up and ready for school every morning - no muss, no fuss, no reminding. I was never that easy to get moving as a school kid.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

It seems wrong not to note 9-11, icon of vulnerability and falling buildings, trigger for wars, day of so much loss and change with a blog entry. I'm not feeling profound. I do remember. It is interesting to me that KK used the attack on the Twin Towers as one of the historical events she believes defines her in a project for her history class. Probably that is as true for most of her generation as the assassinations of the sixties were for mine. Sad things we mark time by. at least we had the moon walk too.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Rosh hshannah beginning - lovely service tonighthas me cherishing the sweetness in my life and contemplative about the ways in which I want to turn more toward kindness. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Labor Day Weekend never meant much to me as a kid or young woman, except that you weren't supposed to wear white after it - sort of an official end of summer. I remember feeling frustrated that Texas weather didn't honor Labor Day as an end of summer. The last few years, though, I've gotten to love this three day weekend, when the weather actually has tended to have moderated a little. I still smile remembering two Labor Days ago when Bob and I had a lovely hike together in Bastrop STate Park and he found and out of the way bead shop and bought me jade and lapis. Last year Chris, Ruth, and Liam were moving in - crazy busy - and Chris stopped in the middle and grilled chicken, steak, and corn, which we ate in the front yard. This year the whole houshold hiked Saturday at Enchanted Rock, had dinner with friends, and generally enjoyed each other - good feeling in the house, and for me at least, a break from stress and busy-ness and a sense of renewal.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Long week, tired at the end but happy. Shabbat service before the High Holy Days was sweet. Liam sings and sways with the congregation, so loved there and part of it now. I don't feel smart tonight, but satisfied. I have a sleepy KK and a sleepy self to tuck in bed.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

I felt like my best self today - especially at work. Sessions were tough but I felt competent, like I knew what people needed and their responses verified that. I love to be able to be a trail guide to people who feel stuck or frustrated. I even had the rare honor of using a smudge stick to help a very dear and special client clear and bless her new home for her new life.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Good day - no crises - Also, We all got paid. It was getting tight toward the end of the month. Money does make a difference in my mood, having enough, or not. Joanna and Tracy worked themselves exhausted clearing out their storeroom and moving stuff to San Antonio. They are in their new rent house though - at least have the key and have the stuff in a truck parked out front. Ruth and Chris are eager on a closing on the contract on their house. Everything shifting, for the better I hope.I had lunch with Bill, talking about his excellent short stories - wish I could focus on plots as he does. I love that he values my opinions. Time soon to try some fiction of my own again. I'm beginning to think about the High Holy Days approaching, musing and planning how to cleanse my heart, make amends, make new beginnings. This is a solemn and valuable time of year.